Home > Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(3)

Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(3)
Author: Stacey Marie Brown

Eabha paused, peering at Warwick. “I know who you are.” She inspected him. “The great legend… the Wolf.”

“Glad my reputation precedes me.” He showed his teeth. “Then you know what I am capable of.”

“You have walked among us, Wolf. A shadow of death—touching the darkness but also drawn to the light.” My mother’s eyes flicked to me. “Depended on it.”

Warwick growled, inching farther to her.

“Warwick, stop.” I tried to reach out to him, but it echoed in my head, going nowhere.

“Hey.” I touched Warwick’s shoulder, trying to move around him. Something felt off. Missing.

My brows furrowed, my gaze darting to him as I passed. Was he blocking me?

His expression mirrored mine, tightening a knot in my stomach.

“Brexley.” My mother’s voice jerked me away, causing me to push off the sick sensation and focus on her. “I would like to introduce you to your family. Meet your Aunt Morgan.”

A woman with dirty and stringy reddish-brown hair stepped forward. Her skin was pallid, but it was the same stunning face I recalled from twenty years ago. It was the woman I remembered from my vision.

“I can’t believe it is you.” She wrapped her arms around me awkwardly, her mouth wavering under the smile she was attempting. But her brown eyes glittered with awe. “You are so beautiful.”

“Thank you.” My own eyes filled up with tears.

I had an aunt. One I could see the family resemblance through. Neither Morgan nor my mom had aged a day from the night they died, making them appear more like my sisters than their true age.

“Your cousin, Liam,” my mother continued, motioning to a tall man with green eyes and reddish-brown hair like Morgan’s. He stared at me with steady regard.

Eabha pointed at the others, and I followed her hand, nodding my head in greeting to each. “This is Sam.” Tall, fit, chiseled cheekbones, with beautiful black skin and caramel eyes. “Roan.” White, freckled skin, short and stocky with blondish hair and hazel eyes. “Breena.” She had the same striking features as Sam, making me wonder if they were related, if not twins. “And Rory.” Pale, petite, brown hair, with huge blue eyes.

“This is my coven.” Mother stared at me. “Your family.”

The color of their skin, hair, or eyes didn’t matter. Coven was family.

My family. I had aunts and uncles besides the ones who actually shared blood with me. I had grown up alone with no idea I had kin.

“I can’t believe this.” I shook my head. “You’ve been here the whole time?”

“Yes.” Direct. To the point.

“So, Dad made it here? Did he know anything about what you really were?”

Eabha’s mouth pinched. “No,” she said quietly. “He did not. I never told him I was a witch or about my family, or the curse.”

I waited for her to continue.

“I loved your father so much, but I kept a lot from him. It was safer.”

“Safer?” I was confused by her admission. “Why safer? Aren’t witches human?” Doubt colored my query. The way I grew up, humans still had strict societal norms. They might be snubbed if a factory worker and an elite mixed, but it was begrudgingly accepted because it was a human-to-human relationship.

Witches, artists, or anyone who didn’t follow society’s rules weren’t looked fondly on in HDF, but it wasn’t forbidden, like associating with a mixed-breed or fae.

“Yes.” An odd note hung in her tone. “Witches are. My coven was quite…” She cleared her throat. “Well-known at the time.” She glanced back at her family, Liam and Sam scoffing under their breath. “When I met your father, we were being hunted by our enemy. I should have stayed away, but I couldn’t. Instead, I kept him protected the best way I knew how. Ignorance and secrecy.”

“He thought you died in childbirth… at home.” I gestured, hearing my voice rise. “But you were here…” I moved my hand toward the field behind the castle where so many died. “Why? The nectar showed me, and I heard you say if Aneira died, something happened to you guys as well.” My throat clogged, my words squeaking out. “So, was I not the reason?”

The guilt I bore on my shoulders for thinking I was why my mother died that night crashed down on my chest.

“No.” She swung her head vigorously, a flicker of grief crossing her face. “You are not to blame. Our fate was already sealed. My death was not your fault, Brexley.”

I inhaled a sharp gulp of air, my eyes burning. “Why? What were you doing there—fighting for her?”

“It is a complicated story meant for another time,” she replied.

My head whirled with emotions, questions bubbling on my tongue.

“I don’t understand. If you weren’t actually dead, why did dad think you died in childbirth?”

“Someone we trusted took you from here and delivered you to your father with a note saying I had perished in childbirth the night of the fae war. Which was not a lie. I did die on that night giving birth to you,” she said flatly.

“And yet here you are.” A spark of anger tingled in my mouth, ire for what both my father and me were led to believe. The pain and agony he struggled with because of her. What I had dealt with.

“A necromancer does not love, does not feel or care. We are bound to our nature. I was as good as dead to both of you.”

Overwhelming emotion punched at my heart, dividing me into fractions. It was too much; my mind clogged with questions and thoughts. If I didn’t step back, take a moment, I would break. I was already shutting down, turning off, compartmentalizing my grief, and focusing back on the mission.

Easy. Cut and dry. No convoluted pain.

“I can’t do this right now.” I swallowed, my head wagging. “We came to get the nectar.”

Eabha’s form stilled, her demeanor shifting, hand wrapping around her scythe.

“I can’t let you do that.”

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

“What?” My heart jerked back at her sudden shift. “The nectar is mine.” It was part of me… it was me.

“It belongs here. I cannot let you—” Her words were drowned out by a stream of piercing gunshots resounding in the far distance, bouncing off the sky like tiny balls of thunder.

My heart tripped. Air caught in my lungs as my eyes searched the horizon toward Budapest. Samhain was known for chaos and commotion, but my gut twisted as I wondered if it was my uncle’s base getting attacked again. The first explosion would have sent the survivors out like rats to gun down. Was my uncle okay? What about everyone else? Were they alive or dead now?

Reaching out, I couldn’t even feel the buzz from Scorpion, sinking my stomach further.

“We have to go.” I still faced southeast. The pull to Sarkis’s base was overwhelming.

I glanced at the nectar, laying there with no pulse or magic.

I moved toward the container. Liam, Roan, Breena, and Rory stepped in front of it quickly, blocking my way, making me stumble back.

“What are you doing?” My forehead crinkled, my regard darting to my mother. “I need the nectar.”

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