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A swirling funnel cloud formed above Kimi’s head. The roar of the wind drowned the sound of the wedding chant. Thunder boomed across the sky while lightning pierced the earth.
Kimi dropped her hibiscus bouquet, searching for Mak, her soul mate, at least that was what he wanted to believe. He touched her, and she felt the warmth and security of his hand in hers. Then he vanished. She covered her ears and closed her eyes, hoping the noise would go away. Instead it grew louder, and the wind turned to gale force gusts. Tremors swept through her.
Yanked from the earth, she felt weightless. A brief moment of courage helped her open her eyes. What she saw stole her breath. As she watched, the ground disappeared from beneath her. Tumbling through space and time, a black void surrounded her. Then her life seemed to be sucked from her body.
~ * ~
Earth, Wind, Fire. Boom, boom, boom. Drumbeats filled the air. Sparks swirled around Kimi McKenna as her spirit floated above her body. Vibrant colors surrounded her, encompassing her in a soft cocoon. The world seemed ethereal, and the air throbbed and vibrated.
Boom, boom, boom sounded the drums again. Kimi watched, distracted by the noise and soft wind whirling around her. Detached from her body, she wondered what happened, could remember nothing except her twin’s wedding to Deacon and the sound of her great grandfather chanting. Balor, the sea demon had become a friend then…
Sucked away from the ground, she felt the void, the emptiness filling her. White light engulfed her. Maska O’keefe, her soul mate, grabbed her hand. Mak? Where was he now?
Chatter caught her attention, but the men’s voices disappeared. She couldn’t understand what had been said. Animal noises, a chirp of a bird, the croaking of frogs, filtered into the tiny room where her body lay. Kimi tried to move to the door instead of hovering about the bed as she was at the moment. She wanted to see what was outside; needed to discover the world she had entered. The Sierra Madre Mountains beckoned her.
Focusing her concentration on the small opening, her spirit glided in that direction, succeeding in moving a few feet. She tried again. Her body didn’t seem to want to let her go. Perhaps that was a good thing. Dying was not on her list of the top ten things to do.
Voices outside floated inside, and she wanted to find her way inside her body. Too vulnerable right now, having no control was not something she relished. She needed to hide until she felt confident. Unprotected did not give her security. And where was Mak?
“We brought both of you here, Maska? She will solve our problems. She’s an outsider but she is supposed to help.” The voice was close to her door.
Straining to hear more, she pushed herself nearer.
“Your information is challenged, my father. I don’t believe you set this in motion. Powers stronger than mine are at work, and I don’t like not understanding.” Mak sounded irritated with the man he called father.
“Then who did?” Frustration dominated his question, touched with anger. “Who the hell would take this type of risk?”
The silence following these words sent chills down Kimi’s spine, goose bumps rose on her arms and legs. Where was she? What was happening to her? She wasn’t home, or she would hear her brothers, her parents; the sound and smells would be different.
The space around her spun and blurred. Drawn back to her body, she fought for power that didn’t seem to exist. She needed to find her way, to sort this out, to take control, but she was defenseless.
Was she dead? So eerie…
She wanted to bring this floating above her body to an end, but she didn’t understand anything that was happening. Earth met sky, fire met water, wind met nothing, what did it mean?
Questions swept through her head, yet nothing made sense. Lyn, her twin sister, had married Deacon, or had she? Baylor was a friend, but he had been a foe. Her world had turned upside down. Now her head throbbed with the pounding of the drums. A Tylenol would be great right now.
Mak was just outside the open door speaking with another man, his father. Processing what they were saying made her stomach nauseous and her body shudder. The pair was at odds with each other and disagreeing about her.
The voices became louder, more insistent, sounding frantic at times, but she no longer understood what they said.
“She is the chosen one. While I did not make the plans, I got her here. Now you figure out how to use her.”
What the hell did he mean by that? How to use who?
“I will approach the council.”
“If she is truly the chosen one, she will know what to do. And I might have killed any chance I had with her.” She heard the tread of his pacing near the door; seemed to feel the intensity of his emotions.
“Our children starve and the parched earth has shown no sign of changing. Rain must fall. Love has no place here, if that’s what you meant.”
“Kimi cannot change the weather. Only the gods can do that.”
“She is one of them, a god.”
“Fuck. A god?” Kimi looked back to her body, feeling the pull. Her cold face scared her. A soft breeze swept through the tiny room. She hovered above her form with indecision.
“Still, she sleeps.” Mak strode to the bed and pulling up a chair, he sat, his head resting on his hands and tears falling from his eyes. “I would change this if I could, yet now I must make the best of this and convince her to help the cause.”
The other man remained in the doorway, hands on hips, a grim expression on his face. “She is here, so I’ll do what I can. I’ll speak to the white witch, and she’ll tell us what needs to be done.”
Mak turned to his father. “Her pulse is strong and steady. She will survive. I was worried at first. Do you think she heard us?”
Hovering over her sleeping form, she’d wondered if she was alive. Everything seemed surreal. Had they been talking about her? A messiah? A god? Good grief, Lyn would laugh her head off. Yolo, you only live once, and she supposed they might be wrong. On that thought, Lyn wouldn’t be laughing nor would her brothers. Where was she? Where had he brought her?
They would look for her but a sixth sense kicked in. I’m not in the Sierra Madres any more, big Bro.
A rustic table and chairs sat in the middle of the room. Tattered curtains hung from the one window, and little swirls of dust floated upward from the dirt floor. A large fireplace covered one wall. Except for a few modern conveniences such as the fridge in the corner, she would have thought they’d traveled back in time.
Her heart pulsed, her body tugging her harder. Kimi felt the pull but unexpectedly she didn’t want to leave this dream state. Facing the reality of where she was and what she was supposed to do caused the trembling of her body. Her chest moved slightly, her lips parting and she was inside her physical form.
When she opened her eyes, tears slid down her cheeks. “Maska?” His whispered name from her lips made him smile. She tried to reach out and touch him, but her hand wouldn’t move.
“You are returning to us, little fierce one.” With the tenderness she remembered, he brushed a lock of hair from her face. “Don’t be scared. I will make sure you stay safe.”
“I’ll leave you two to sort this out, Maska.” His father strode from the room, head held high.
“Water?” He reached for a cup of water on the nightstand by the bed, but he didn’t wait for an answer. He picked up the drink and held it to her.
She watched his father’s retreating back, the broadness of his shoulders, his strides so familiar to her. Maska was so like him.
She blinked and tried to raise her head. Her mouth was parched, but she wasn’t sure she could swallow the liquid without her stomach churning.
His hand behind her head, he lifted, holding the cup to her lips. Water dribbled down her chin, but a few drops found their way into her mouth. She choked, sputtering water then he lowered her head to the pillow.
“More later, I suppose.” His voice sounded hopeful but his eyes appeared filled with sorrow.
She didn’t say anything, couldn’t. His gaze shifted around the room. She watched as his Adam’s apple moved, waiting for him to tell her what happened. She had been at the top of Infinity Cliff watching her sister’s wedding then…
She was hovering over her body and listening to Maska and his father discuss her as if she wasn’t there. Well, she wasn’t but she was. She’d heard every spoken word.
Silence clung to the tepid air surrounding them. The drums had begun again, or had they ever stopped? Her heartbeat synchronized with the throbbing. She inhaled a long deep breath meant for courage but did little in that category.
Mak appeared determined and guilty. He ran his hands through his hair, watching her. He coughed and cleared his throat. “I’m going to tell you some things you should know. I’m not who I pretended to be.”
She’d guessed as much from what she’d overheard.
“We aren’t in the Sierra Madre’s any longer.” He waited, looking hopeful.
Where are we?
His smile was slow, growing on his face as he watched her. “A place where your people call the badlands of South Dakota, but we are no longer in the twenty-first century.”
“It is the year three thousand ten.”
OMG, will I see my family again or am I stuck here forever? She wished she could talk, could yell at him or even hit him.
“Would that be so bad, little fierce one? You would be with me, your mate.” His smile didn’t touch her heart.
I don’t know if that’s true, if I’m your mate. Kimi coughed, feeling her voice returning. She meant to understand all the strangeness surrounding her.
“Of course it is.” He persisted. “And you know the truth whether or not you want to admit it. You’re confused and scared, but you have to trust me. I will never hurt you. I want to protect and cherish you for the rest of our lives.”
“Time will tell. I understand nothing and no truths are evident to me.” She squinted at him, her heart pounding fiercely. At one time she’d believed he was her mate. Now she questioned everything. The year three thousand ten? How could that be possible?
“You can talk? I can tell you I’m relieved. While I enjoyed listening in on your thoughts, I did feel guilty taking advantage.” Touching her cheek with the back of his hand, he seemed to study her.
“Don’t,” Kimi said with a hint of sarcasm.
“You can’t hear anything I don’t want you to hear. Besides, I would listen into your mind in a heart beat.” Kimi sat up, reaching for the glass of water and gulped the liquid down. It settled in her stomach, pretending to be a lead ball. “You told me where I am, so how did I get here? All I remember is something sucking me off the land before the world tumbled and fell.”
He hesitated, watching her, his eyes speaking volumes. Mak didn’t seem to want to explain, but she could tell he understood there was no choice. He shrugged and she didn’t miss his obvious discomfort. “The tribal witch doctor. His magic was not the best which is why you were in this semi-coma.”
His words were mumbled and Kimi leaned closer. “The witch doctor? How quaint. I don’t think even my great grandfather Niagel would believe you, and he believes in everything supernatural.”
“Of course he would. He is all seeing and all knowing. Niagel has listened to the wind and the stars. He’s seen the elements of the universe. Things exist which nothing can explain. I believe in time he will find a way to send a brother a sister or both to this time. I don’t know how long it will take, but they will follow.”
“Okay,” she pulled the covers up, realizing suddenly she had nothing on beneath the blankets. A rush of heat covered her body, embarrassment born from the sudden knowledge someone undressed her or the rapid flight through time ripped her clothes off. “Try to enlighten.” She crossed her arms on top of the blanket, feeling the need to protect herself.
“Our people…” he began with hesitation.
“Your people.” Kimi made it a point to correct him. It wouldn’t do for him to feel at ease in this situation. He’d torn her from her home without thought or asking. Resentment would be a good starting point for this conversation, and it seemed that was exactly where they would begin.
“Are at war. They have forces we have no way to fight. You are said to be the messiah and the only one who can lead us to salvation. Without you, we are lost, doomed to destruction and elimination.”
“Poppycock. Sounds like an excuse to get what you want.” She rearranged the blankets covering her.
“It is true, all of it.” He threw his hands in the air and rose, striding around the room, the caged animal revealing himself.
“I would think you could come up with something a bit more creative. The story sounds like a bad movie.” Kimi smoothed the blankets, making sure they shielded all of her. She sipped the water he’d given her, craving a grilled chicken sandwich and a soda from the bar and grill in Cactus Junction.
“Well, it’s not. And it’s happening as we speak. Our people are desperate.” He stopped in front of the bed, peering at her.
She heard the anger and frustration in his voice and felt a moment of empathy. “I don’t know what you think I can do. Lead your people? I can shift and that’s about it. I have–”
He interrupted. “You can shoot bolts of lightning from your hands.”
“I don’t need the reminder. I just learned that little trick, and I don’t have a lot of control. I could just as easily hit friend instead of foe. If that’s what gives me messiah quality, someone has over-anticipated my ability.”
“Not from what I saw. Your accuracy was right on.” He pulled the chair up to sit, tightening his hands into fists.
A feeling of pride swept through her at his words. He was wrong, though. A few cacti had felt the brunt of her wrath. “Not the first time I used it. I did get better. Still none of this makes sense. I don’t even know who I’m supposed to help you fight.”
He leaned back in the chair where he sat, folding his hands on his knees. “It’s your aura, the vital force within you burns strong. I knew as soon as I saw you. I am sensitive to auras. You will learn.”
“Take me home.” She tried to get out of bed, forgetting she had nothing on, still determined to make him understand her feelings, but she was too weak. “I don’t want to stay and be your messiah. Your cause means nothing to me.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way. I cannot take you home. I don’t have the magic to travel through time. You need to stay here in this era and fulfill your destiny.” He sounded tired, weary and perhaps resigned; her feelings too.
“Introduce me to someone who does.” Adamant, resolute, she was going home as soon as possible.
“No one living in this village would oblige you. They rejoice at your arrival. The drums you hear in the distance are proof. The beat tells your story and your journey here.”
“They mean nothing,” she said stubbornly. “If you can’t take me home, I’m sure you should be able to find me clothes to wear. You’ve left me naked and feeling damn vulnerable.” Kimi watched him flinch and pushed the guilt she felt to the back of her mind.
“Women work even now to make you clothing appropriate for your rank. Something suitable should be here shortly.”
“The messiah? I want jeans and a tank top. Can that be so hard? I’d like a bath too. Or is that too much to ask?” She didn’t really want clothes. She longed to shift and prowl the territory.
“Yes, your highness.” His words were clipped, and she knew she’d pushed him too far and one too many times.
She understood he’d lost patience with her. “When that is done, take me to someone who can help me, and I promise I’ll be nicer.”
~ * ~
Maska rose, striding from the room without looking back. Frustration and anger had never hung so heavy on his soul. The responsibility to bring her here and convince her of her role had been his. He alone was sent to persuade Kimi her destiny was with his tribe in this village not in the Sierra Madres with her family. He’d fucked it all up.
She was his mate, but she’d never believe him now. Kimi McKenna thought he was a self-serving bastard who had taken advantage of her and her Clan. It was true. Now, he might live to regret his actions, but looking back on the events, he couldn’t think of anything that could have been done differently. If he’d posed the question to her and her siblings, they would have denied the request.
“Is she willing to cooperate?” Ryker O’keefe, Maska’s brother, stepped forward, clapping his hand on Mak’s shoulder. “She’s a pretty little thing. Have you seen her magic?”
“No to the first question and yes to the second.” Maska walked toward the Enchanted Circle, his gaze riveted on the four stones. Speaking to his brother and their people was not a task he wanted at this moment. Lives depended upon Kimi’s acceptance, and he had failed to sway her. Perhaps he should have tried harder, told her more, answered questions. He could have recounted the history of the Lakota Sioux through time, how they evolved and how their beliefs were shaped.
Shit, he could have told her how the earth destroyed itself and now the life existing on this land struggled each day. How his people had gone back to the roots of the ancient religions and worshipped the earth. But it seemed it might be too little too late.
Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The rocks meant life to his people and provided the magic needed in order to exist in this changing atmosphere. Air, connected with the breath of life and the soul in magic and mysticism. From her great grandfather, she’d learned much and he thought she would have been more receptive and prepared to accept the tasks she had been ordained to complete.
“I have brought the amber amulet you wanted.” The words were hesitant as if Ryker wasn’t sure of himself. His brother held the chain in one hand. Light danced from the resin as the sun played against it. The beautiful amulet would be enhanced while it decorated Kimi.
He shouldn’t have been so strident with Ryker. His brother was young, naïve, and he didn’t understand. Hell, few comprehended the risks involved. “Thanks, I appreciate the delivery, and if I’ve been curt, please accept my apologies. I’ve a lot on my mind; too much to think through.”
Ryker handed it to him. He gazed at the beautiful stone; hardened resin dating to a time before time. Maska prayed she’d wear it with pride, but at the moment he could see her throwing it into the dirt and spitting on it. He’d never seen the stubborn side of Kimi until now. That had been a huge mistake. It appeared she always let her older twin lead the way, happy to shadow Lyn’s footsteps. Now it seemed Kimi had developed a strong personality, one that would defy his every request.
Maybe she needed to learn how to lead. The thought gave him hope. He understood she wouldn’t follow him blindly, comprehended he had to find a way to convince her this plan would meet with her sister’s approval.
“Maska? I don’t–” Ryker began.
“I will find a way to persuade Kimi. She is the chosen one, our messiah. She is the only one who can defeat the black witch.” He gripped the amulet in his hand then strode through the village. His path led him to his favorite retreat, much like Infinity Cliff in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Yet unlike the cliff, from the top one could see the bottom. The sun had begun to set and the brilliant colors lifted his soul. A soft breeze caressed his face, and the sounds of animals preparing for the night completed the scene.
Unlike past civilizations, his people revered the land. Destroying and raping the earth was not their way. But now they paid the price for the global warming and melting ice caps. When the people had become frantic, their solutions to the problems made them worse. The oceans swallowed a few of the coastal states, and rain seemed to fall for an eternity. He thought of Noah and his ark, wondering if the conditions had been somewhat the same.
The events transpired too fast for Kimi. He expected…hell, what had he thought? Once long ago, the black witch had been a story in the tales the people told. It was said life’s misfortunes changed him, sent him to the other side. Evil had become a way of life. When a man or woman resorted to black magic, there was little anyone could do to bring them back to the white light.
A lone tear slipped from his eye. He wiped it away with the back of his hand. His gut churned, all thoughts on his beautiful mate. He’d deceived her and her forgiveness would not come easily. Yet all he yearned for was to wrap his arms around her and hold her close, easing all her terror and misconceptions.
The sun sat on the western horizon, dusk falling slowly, time slipping away. He had rushed this moment for that reason. If there had been time, he would have involved her family, explained the history and all that was at stake. Raked over the coals didn’t come close to describing his emotions. Still, a return to Kimi and more explanations should come sooner than later.
The wounded vulnerable look on her face had ripped his soul apart. The knowledge she no longer thought of him as her soul mate killed him slowly one breath at a time. He searched his head for the words to change her mind and found nothing but emptiness. A few hours, a couple of days might be enough time to tell her all she should know. He didn’t have four or five days to waste with indecision.
Determined to figure this out and make the necessary explanations, he gazed across the magnificent landscape and turned back to the makeshift camp his people built from the ground up. Walking slowly gave him more time to put his thoughts in order. Perhaps he should listen to her family’s story. He heard bits and pieces, knew her great grandfather had been a shaman in his tribe, an Apache at heart. She would come to understand the way of the Sioux.
Campfires lit the waning light. Bacon sizzled in pans, corn still in the husk roasted near the hot rocks of fire pits. Before he saw her, Maska heard her laughter, distinct and pure Kimi. His heart pounded with love for her, wishing she could reciprocate his feelings.
She was beautiful; hair nearly white, brilliant blue eyes that seemed to study everything, but he loved her soul and the way her mind worked the best. Her spirit, unquenchable, made his heart soar.
He approached her, putting his hand out. “Come with me. I need to show you something.” He paused, “It’s important.”
For a moment she looked at him and he was sure she’d refuse then she nodded and rose. The women of the village had dressed her in the clothing they’d prepared for her coming. She wore a long blue gown, brocaded with silver decorations on the bodice and along the hemline. Her hair was woven into intricate braids circling her head and decorated with beads of amber.
“We have much to talk about. I’ve listened to stories of your friends and Sarah as well. I’d like to understand what you so urgently want me to know,” she told him, her brows furrowed in what he perceived as anger.
Trying to diffuse the situation, a smile stretched across his face. “Yes, talk is an understatement. I believe with all my heart once you know and understand what is happening here, you will want to help. I’m glad your mind is opening to the possibilities.”
“Maybe, maybe not, but I’ve found I’m curious and I’ve always liked you. Once I believed in you and your love, our future. There is no reason for our friendship to change. If you are my mate, then I should do all I can to help your people, perhaps my people.”
Maska’s heart soared with hope. His thoughts went to places he best not anticipate any time soon. “You wish to listen, that is good. I will answer every question.”
“Where are we going?” She walked by his side, his strides matching hers.
He felt their souls meld together as if one, his heart beating with anticipation. “To one of my favorite places. It is a waterfall and close to this village, but we will have to ride. It is not in walking distance. I assume you would like that.”
“Ride as in horse or one of those strange looking vehicles I saw at the edge of camp?” she sounded hesitant. “I never liked motorcycles, and those look more dangerous.”
“Horses, since I know you can handle a horse with ease. We have a stable just down this trail.”
They turned onto a narrow path, the horse coral in front of them. “Can I pick one?” she asked.
“Of course, anyone but the chestnut stallion. He is mine and will not allow another to sit upon him.”
“Really?” With purpose, it seemed she strode to his horse. Holding her hand out, she let him smell her, whispering close to his ear. “Here, big fella,” she stroked his nose.
“You always so at ease with every animal you meet?” He loved the way she took charge, challenging his actions and his words. If she stayed with him, he’d become a better person.
“I am, you know, not to change the subject. Sarah, who fixed my hair, gave me some advice. And I took it.” Kimi walked away from the stallion, finding another, a mare, white with a black stripe down her nose. Maska’s horse followed her, nudging her playfully in the back.
“He likes you. He might just let you ride him.” Maska admired her spunk and knew she wouldn’t ride his horse but would pick one of her own. This time he was willing to share what was his.
“Of course he would, but he’s your horse.” She skipped away, smiling at him. “I will find one that can be mine and will let no one else ride.
“And I believe you will.” He had seen first hand how at ease she was. It seemed he hadn’t registered the fact until now.
“Of course, was there any doubt?”
“It seems to me you crook your finger and anyone of the male species follows.” He regretted his words as soon as he saw the blush on her face turn pale. He’d unexpectedly hurt her, and he wasn’t sure why. Needing to kick himself, he groped for the words to tone down what had just been said but was afraid he’d stick something big in his mouth again.
“Where are the saddles?” Her voice turned curt then, looking at her dress. “I can’t ride in this.”
He needed to bite his tongue and regretted the past moment more. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it the way it came out. And…I’d hoped you would agree so I took the liberty to have my brother bring riding clothes for you.”
“Of course you meant it that way. Now don’t be apologetic. Where are the clothes and the riding gear?”
“In the tack room, follow me.” Maska led the way. Soon she was changed and they rode from the stables to the waterfall he’d spoken of.
The time on horseback was spent in silence. He didn’t know what to say to Kimi, and she didn’t seem to want to talk to him. The silence made his spine stiffen and his gut roll. He might have undone all the sidestepping and tiptoeing he’d accomplished the last half hour with his careless words. He sensed her fear as well as her anger and he understood, but those emotions would act in opposition to what they needed to accomplish, would play into the Black Magic surrounding them. She had to find inner peace before she could battle the evil.
The path turned and widened. Three side-by-side waterfalls tumbled from different heights to jagged boulders below. Sunshine cast rainbows across the rocks where the water hit and misted. He heard her gasp at the sight, feeling an inner satisfaction. Kimi appreciated this splendor as much or more than he did.
“So beautiful. This place is exquisite.” Her whispered words gave him hope. “Breathtaking.”
“My thoughts exactly. I’ve loved this place since I can remember. Mother used to ride with me, and we’d picnic and swim on warm days. In the winter ice will form on the rocks where the water hits.
“Where is your mother? I’ve never heard you speak of her.”
“I don’t. She doesn’t live here. She’s gone to Ireland to be with her aging parents and pretty much stays away from the battles raging, but she can’t escape the conflict forever.”
“Perhaps she just needs the peace she finds there, yet you sound as if there is more to the story.”
“If there is, I don’t know what it is. Maybe my father does.” He dismounted and let the reins fall to the ground, Kimi doing the same. She gazed at the water roaring down and swirling around the rocks. He yearned to hear her thoughts, but she wasn’t letting him inside her head.
Unsure of what to do, he reached for Kimi’s hand. She accepted the gesture and together they walked to a protected spot near the falls. After spreading the blanket he’d taken from the saddlebags, he sat and patted a spot next to him. She seemed reluctant but finally accepted his invitation. Imagining a long seductive afternoon if feelings between them were different, he pushed thoughts of lovemaking out of his head.
Her hands in her lap she still didn’t turn his way. He wanted to pull her close, kiss her and hold her until she understood his feelings as well as the emotions swirling in the pit of his gut. But that wasn’t going to happen until she comprehended why he’d wrenched her away from her family without her permission.
“I don’t know where to start,” he told her. “But I’d feel better about this if you looked at me.”
She turned, “The beginning is always good. And I wonder where exactly that would be.” The sarcasm in her voice rose with each word.
Her emotions seemed to run hot and cold, making this all the more difficult, yet he understood why. “The 1700s might be appropriate. My great, great, great, I don’t know how many greats, grandfather migrated to America in the 1700s. I’m not positive but I do know it was before the revolutionary war. The woods were filled with wildlife, the streams with fish. And there were Native Americans who welcomed him, accepting him without concessions.
“I’m surprised his clan survived the wilderness. It was a time of unrest.” Kimi sounded curious, giving him hope.
“His clan did not follow him. He searched for sunsets, always looking to the horizon. He travelled alone, sometimes on horseback, sometimes on foot until he reached Lakota territory.”
“Really.” The disbelief was obvious in her tone.
Unable to understand the cynicism in that one word, he studied her face. “I know your clan has history too. You can speak of that later. The O’keefes are not shifters, they wield white magic. They can use inner energy to see auras, move object and foresee the future. The most powerful can travel through time and bring others to any place in the future or the past they wish.
“I can’t understand why you think I might be your soul mate. We have nothing in common. You’re not a shifter and I’m not a wielder of white magic.” She looked away, her hands fisted in her lap tightened, her back stiffening.
“Soul mates are not always both shifters. Think of Sadie and your brother. She is not a shifter. There is no reason why we are not soul mates.”
“Your case is good. But…”
“That doesn’t explain my part in your peoples’ destiny. What can I do for you? I don’t know how to fight whatever it is you expect me to battle.”
“Black Magic,” he said. “Evil. I’ve witnessed your clans fight against evil forces.”
“My mind is reeling. I need to know more. Tell me everything. You left me in the 1700s and we got sidetracked.”
“At some time, my grandfather returned to Ireland. In his mid-twenties he met and married my grandmother. I don’t now if you met him, but Ryker is my little bro.”
“What about your father? You’ve told me a little about your mother. What happened to your father?”
“Yeah, I did get sidetracked. My father returned to the states and Lakota country with his Irish wife. Blood in the O’keefe clan is both Irish and Lakota. The happy couple made their home in Lead, South Dakota. I grew up knowing Wild Bill Hitchcock died in Deadwood holding the dead man’s hand and Calamity Jane was buried next to him. I always wondered if they were soul mates likes us.”
Kimi laughed and it seemed she couldn’t stop. “You’re trying to convince me I should help?”
“Am I getting anywhere?”
“Possibly. One could say my obstinacy is softening.”
Mak shrugged his shoulders, wishing he had the answers. It seemed he didn’t know what to tell her. “I’m at a loss for words.”
She put her hand on his. The gesture encouraged him, yet he understood he still had a hard battle to fight. “Tell me why I should commit to you and your family instead of trying to find a way home.”
“It has been foretold that an albino shifter will come to us and help defeat the Black Magic threatening to take over the world. You, my love, are that shifter.” He sat back, anticipating her rebuttal.
“Impossible.” She pursed her lips, one brow rising as if she tempted him to prove the fact.
“No, really you are.” The chuckle in his words seemed to bother Kimi. “I’m sorry you feel this way, but the prophecy will come to life whether you believe or not.”
~ * ~
“What the hell just happened?” Brody McKenna stood at the edge of Infinity Cliff, searching the sky for any trace of his sister and Maska O’keefe. Niagel, his great grandfather, stood, hands held fast in front of him, a blank expression on his lined and weathered face. Yet Brody felt sure the old man knew what had ensued and was biding his time before telling the family.
“Kimi just got sucked into the sky in a funnel cloud.” Lyn, Kimi’s twin said pointing frantically at the sky. “And I’m going to find her no matter the cost.”
Deacon, Lyn’s new husband, cleared his throat. “Not without me you’re not. Wherever you go, I go.” To Brody he sounded determined, but that was Deacon.
“Me too,” Baylor, the Celtic Sea Demon Lyn befriended stepped forward. “I know something about traveling through the universe and ending up in a place I’d never dreamed of, but we’re going to have to figure out where she went. Anyone have an idea?” He cleared his throat. “Never did trust Maska. He’s not what he seems.”
“What makes you say that?” Lyn asked. Brody wanted to know the answer too.
“He’s not a real shifter. Maybe that’s why.” Baylor said.
“He’s not?” Brody ran his fingers through his hair, frustrated by the disappearance of his sister as well as this new information. “I saw him shift. What is he then?”
“You think you saw him shift, but it was magic that changed him. He’s a witch and they have no loyalties. I know this first hand.” Baylor informed them.
Stunned silence surrounded the people standing on infinity cliff. “A witch…” Brody parroted then, “How do we find out where they went?” Brody studied his great grandfather, who had remained silent and stoic throughout this. “Do you think Mak was behind this?”
“Magic, and yes, I’m sure the man has everything to do with Kimi’s disappearance.” Baylor shifted his stance. “Don’t know where we’re going to find someone who can tell us, but we need to do just that and soon. I don’t like to think Lyn is going to be without her twin and her family.”
The hair on the back of Brody’s neck stood on end. He knew of witches as did his great grandfather, Niagel. But one didn’t just go to the witch and ask for help. Damn, but this wonderful day had turned into a nightmare.
When he looked to Niagel, the elder stood and was staring into infinity, unmoving, arms crossed in front of his chest. His body stiff and straight, one eye twitched then the old man turned.