On Fridays I’m sharing a chapter a week from one of my books. The first book is Souls Lost. If you wish to purchase it to read faster, you can find it at your favorite retailer. Find chapter 1 here.
The world was dark and sad until Kay came along two years after Dixie lost her boy. The doctors had called her a miracle baby, certain Dixie would never have a child again. After talking to Emrys, she’d lain in the yard for hours before her husband came home to take her to the hospital, her very survival in question. Dixie didn’t remember that part, but she did remember the follow-ups and the concern that her body wasn’t meant to have children.
Lorne, of course, was wonderful, holding her as she cried, whispering words of comfort when she blamed herself, but how could she tell him that she really was to blame? Hadn’t it been when she’d asked Emrys to leave her children alone that she’d fallen into the slump and her baby had died?
Dixie had floated the idea of leaving town, even moving to Hickory, but Corbin Meadow was home to Lorne. His family was there, his life was there, and he wanted to live his life among friends. Dixie couldn’t argue with that.
Outwardly, she took the loss as well as any young woman, but she had an odd confidence that she’d have a daughter someday, when it was right. When she was pregnant again and when she delivered her baby girl, perfect in every way, the townsfolk admired her trust in God and talked about what a wonderful faith Dixie had had through her troubles.
It was only when Kay was in her crib napping, having gotten on something of a schedule, that Dixie went to her yard and closed her eyes against the warm sun that threatened to blind her and concentrated on the smells of the lavender that was taking over the little plot of yard where she’d planted it, the rosemary having been removed after getting old and woody. She listened to the cicadas as they played their summer tunes and breathed in the air, thinking about Emrys.
“It’s been a long time, Child of the Blood,” he said when climbed over her fence, as if he’d been a long way away and had not expected her call.
“I didn’t want to give you a chance to harm my child. Not again,” Dixie said.
“I didn’t harm your child,” Emrys said, affronted. “You made me promise to protect them, even from myself, and from the disappointment that I am not all powerful.”
“But I lost the boy just then,” Dixie protested. “Wasn’t that your doing? A way of protecting him?”
Emrys looked at her sadly, his eyes huge with surprise. It should have looked comical, the wizened creature who normally looked rather sinister trying to look empathetic, but instead it was comforting. He clearly had had no idea that Dixie was blaming him.
“I had nothing to do with that. It was just the time, the time I warned you would come,” Emrys said.
“But you could have told me then!” Dixie protested. “You could have told me I should call an ambulance that day!”
“I cannot see all the future. Only the future that pertains to me and this land. I knew there would be a girl because I know she will be the force that holds me together when it seems all is lost. When and how is beyond me. And I sensed that you would have sorrow over a boy child, though not the when or the why.” Emrys seemed humbled as he spoke, as if the misunderstanding pained him greatly and he wanted to make amends.
Dixie considered her next words, hoping to keep him in that mood for as long as possible. After all, a humbled Emrys, one who wanted to make amends, might let something slip about how she could use his power to further her own wishes and dreams.
“I didn’t know,” Dixie finally said quietly. “I just wanted to be sure that my daughter wasn’t in danger from you.”
“She’ll never be in danger from me,” Emrys said. “There are others that could endanger her, and if she has no idea I exist, if I am to stay away, I am not sure she can protect herself.”
“I’ll be the one protecting her,” Dixie said.
“And when you are gone?” Emrys asked.
“Will I die soon?” Terror reached through Dixie’s body, her need to go and protect her child at the forefront. She couldn’t leave her.
“All humans die,” Emrys said. “You will live a long life, but as is the natural way of things, your child will outlive you.”
Dixie breathed easier, nodding. “When I feel death coming or when you warn me that it is imminent, then I will release you from your oath to not contact her. She’ll be an adult then and she’ll be prepared for disappointment.”
And, Dixie thought, like her own mother, perhaps Kay would no longer believe in elves and fairies and gnomes about the garden, which would protect her for an even longer period of time.
Emrys bowed to her. “Is there anything I can do today?”
Dixie shook her head, watched him climb back over the fence, into the neighbor’s yard where she could no longer see him. The little dachshund that lived back there began to bark and howl like it was about to attack, but when Dixie opened her eyes it was barking from the safety of the porch near the little dog door the owners had put in.
It met her eyes as if offended that she had let such a creature into his yard. As if she had had a choice, Dixie thought. But it was becoming clear to her now that her life was going to be dedicated to protecting her one child. That, and finding out how to use Emrys’ power against him. Because he might have been sorry, he might have said it wasn’t her fault, and while she’d believed him when looking at him, Dixie had her doubts about his sincerity.
Part of her was certain that he was to blame for the miscarriage. Otherwise, how could anyone explain that timing?
Her neighbors had taken to discussing the Bible given Dixie’s faith in having a girl despite what the doctors said, and at some point she’d learned about demons and how tricky they could be. The idea had taken root in her mind that Emrys was lying to her, offering her only enough information to trick her into being his slave, rather than he hers. Likely her soul was already damned, but she’d make sure that the soul of her child was safe and she’d do whatever she could to make the demon pay for the loss of her son.
Chapter 27 will be coming next Friday. Don’t want to wait? Find the book here.