Fates’ Desire: Mending Fate 2
Atty may be a Fate, but all she wants is to forget about the past and live life on her own terms. Too bad the man who shattered her heart just showed up in her favorite bar.
Phaunos has always loved Atty, even when he’d been forced to leave her. Now, nothing, not even a manipulative goddess hell bent on murder, is going to stop the forest god from winning the only thing that matters… Atty’s heart.
Eleven-thousand years ago…
Her name was Atropos the Unavoidable: she who cannot be turned. Youngest of the Greek Moirai, she was the one who cut the thread of life, the most powerful of The Three Fates. She was also deeply, irrevocably in love.
The sleeves of her baggy gown fell back as she shoved her heavy blonde hair back from her face. Her high cheekbones emphasized her pixie face and her dark, violet eyes roamed the crags and shadows of her cave bedroom. She lived in a vast cave system located in the middle of Hell; literally, she lived in Hades.
She shared her home with her two sisters, Clotho, the Spinner, and Lakhesis, the Lot giver. Of course, that’s what Gods and Mortals called them. To each other, and their favorite family members, they were Atty, Clo, and Lacey. The only people the Fates had no power over were the ones that had direct impact on their own lives: Gods older than them, and themselves. They couldn’t even see each other’s future. Fate was a bitch… even to The Fates.
Well, sometimes. Right now, Fate was smiling her biggest, warmest smile on her youngest daughter. Phaunos, God of the Forest, had fallen in love with Atty. She gazed dreamily out her window as she waited for him to arrive. So far, they had only shared the most innocent of caresses, but their kisses were all fire and burning passion. She sighed and shuddered at the power her memories held.
At the sound of booted feet on the cave floor she whirled around, and sighed again at the majesty of her man. He was a good six and a half feet tall, with antlers adding another three feet. Broad shoulders tapered into narrow hips and thick thighs. His bronzed skin and thick black hair were the perfect backdrop for his normally merry hunter-green eyes. He walked to her, dwarfing her by at least a foot, even without his antlers. Atty didn’t give him a chance to speak; she quickly threw herself into his arms and kissed him.
She lost every thought in her head as heat and need flooded her. She grabbed his shoulders to steady herself and draw him closer. The taste of him was unlike anything she’d ever experienced. It was more intoxicating than wine, and sweeter than the ambrosia of the gods.
He kissed her back as if it was the last kiss he’d ever have. Atty kissed him desperately, wanting the man she loved to distraction to finally quench the strange, burning ache in her loins. She squirmed against him, silently begging to be touched.
Instead, he gently set her away from him.
“Phaunos? What’s wrong?” she asked, concerned about the lines of strain on his face.
“Atty… We can’t see each other any more.”
Hear the Wind Blow Love
Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
When the Armistace ends the Great War in November 1918, the end comes too late to save Maude Whitney’s husband, Jamie. But Maude realizes her heart still belongs to Harry, her brother-in-law who courted her first. He’s been her rock in Jamie’s absence while they shared quarters with the grandparents who raised the brothers. But Granpa died and Granny moved to town so when Maude invites him to move back under the same roof, it’s sure to be a scandal in the rural Ozarks.
Before gossiping tongues can spread the news, the Spanish influenza wreaks havoc in the area. It brings death close to home for Maude and Harry. As they fall deeper in love and plan to wed, their troubles are just beginning. Old feuds erupt and the day after Christmas, Harry’s hauled into custody and accused of a murder he didn’t commit. Harry must prove his innocence and survive a serious bout of flu or there’s no happy ending for the star-crossed couple.
November 16, 1918
Shadows slanted through the tree branches as leaves dropped in lazy circles to the ground. Maude Whitney paused on the top porch step and gazed upward into a sky as rich and vivid blue as a robin’s egg. She cocked her head to listen as the sound of geese reached her and watched the V-shaped columns as they winged south. Although the brief spell of Indian summer brought warmer temperatures, cold weather must be on the way. The high, thin whistle of the passing trains across the creek sounded louder and last night Maude noted a ring around the moon. Earlier she saw several woodpeckers at the foot of a tree and the kindling snapped and popped to a fare-thee-well in the stove. Cold’s coming, she thought, and shivered despite the afternoon sun.
Weather wasn’t the only thing preying on her mind. A month ago, the letter she’d never forget came. Maude kept it tucked away into the pages of her childhood Bible but she wouldn’t read it again. She didn’t want to see the precise black handwriting or read the words that told how her husband, Jamie, died with so many others in the Argonne Wood over in France.
Until six weeks or so ago, the old two-story farmhouse tucked into a small valley brimmed full of life and laughter. Rugged hills cradled the old home in an embrace and it’d been a cozy place to live. A tall, weathered barn loomed behind it adjacent to the smokehouse and outhouse but the front yard sloped downward to a grassy field on this side of the creek. Until not long ago, Maude shared the rambling rooms with Granpa and Granny, Jamie’s grandparents who raised both Jamie and his brother Harry after their parents died from typhoid fever. Harry’d lived there too, since Jamie went off to war, and she didn’t mind at all. His removal to the old cabin up the hill beyond the burying ground bothered her, though.
Harry courted her first and if he hadn’t gone to the city to try his hand at a trade, she probably would’ve married him. But he left and Jamie stayed. Jamie squired her to a few dances, came to call, and when he asked if she’d become his wife, Maude agreed. If she
couldn’t have Harry, she’d thought, his brother should suit her instead but too late, after the wedding, she realized the brothers were very different.
Love’s Eternal Fire
Suzzana C Ryan
The Coast of Ireland 972 A.D.
Tomas was a Viking, an accomplished warrior, a seasoned sailor and the son of Sjurd head, of one of the largest clans in his home of Norway. He had many fine talents as most women could attest to in bed. He’d left Norway on a long ship heading for the coast of a rich lush country called Ireland.
Shauna heard from others along the coast about the invasions. Men, some said as tall as trees, came in long boats, killing, raping and taking land that didn’t belong to them. Shauna cringed; her beloved home was the next kingdom along the coast that was in danger of attack by these marauders.
A beautiful, green-eyed black haired beauty Shauna vowed to protect her home only to fall prey to Tomas’s handsome face and warrior body. At first he treated Shauna with indifference, ignoring her beauty and punishing her for her disobedience. He kept her a prisoner in his bed, his need for her insatiable. And still she refused to surrender completely, fighting him at every turn.
Tomas fought his need and his desire for Shauna but succumbed to it every night. He burned for her, craved her, as no woman before her. He surrendered to her will, falling deeply in love. Shauna’s love for him flourished and burned deep, promising a love that’s eternal, born of fire. A fire destined to consume them both.
The Coast of Ireland 872 A.D.
Shauna ran down the stoned stairway, trying to escape the large invader. He held a huge broad axe, a berserker, and ran faster than lightening. He caught up to her and grabbed her thick mass of black hair, throwing her off balance and to the floor. She was only eighteen and even though already a widow, ending her life at the end of a broad axe wasn’t the death she sought. She fell, hitting the stones, scrapping both her hands, yet she was ready to fight for her life and her lands.
She’d only been married nine months when her husband fell ill and died. He’d left her mistress of a large estate on the coast of her beloved Ireland called Waterford. She promised him she’d make sure his estate flourished if anything ever happened to him. When she was betrothed to the man, she hardly knew him but her father had been thrilled. It was a match far above her station. She was eighteen, long in her years, but she harbored a beauty that was without comparison.
She’d been spoiled. Her father had allowed her to stay unmatched because she begged him for a match of love, but to her dismay, love never came. So when Aiden O’Donnell asked for her hand in marriage, she accepted now believing love would never come her way.
She found she liked the man and he treated her well. He was forty-two and never married. Together they found a semblance of happiness and she was grateful, praying she’d be with child soon. He died very wealthy leaving no heirs. He’d been aware of the coastal raids from the men from the North. He’d sat her down one evening and filled her in on all he’d learned.
“Shauna, the raids have begun again. They’re Vikings, invaders from a land north of us. They’re looking for lands which are rich in soil and holdings on our beloved coast of Ireland. I’ve secured my estates and built up a small army hoping to fight off the invaders if they venture near our holdings.” She listened in fear. So many monasteries had been ransacked and the monks murdered. What kind of men would do such a thing? She prayed nightly for God to keep them safe but five months later, her husband died leaving her mistress of his large estate.
Then the horror she dreaded began before first light. “My Lady, there are ships. They’ve
landed outside our door.”
The Last Alive
There are three rules for the zombipocalypse…Don’t leave the fort. Don’t get bit. DON’T fall in love!
Emma Taylor does all three in the same week.
Nathan Ricks is the only doctor left in Fort Burgh and Emma is in love with him. She refuses to admit it until he goes missing. Venturing out into the wild means certain death, but she can’t let him turn to zombie food. Heading out to face her biggest fears, she comes to terms with falling in love and finds her emotions hiding alongside the crazy, young doctor.
Patient zero was a twenty-year-old female from a small farming town in Southwestern Pennsylvania. She presented to the emergency department late on the evening of September 14, 2012 with basic flu-like symptoms. Concerned about her complaints of headache, altered mental status, and spiked temperature, the on-call doctor admitted her to the hospital. The story relayed to health care professionals was that she went out hiking with friends twenty-four hours before symptoms began. She never realized she’d been bit by anything until a large welt formed on her calf causing significant pain. Her family had no idea she was already dying. Nobody knew about the danger lurking in the petite young woman.
Her parents left for the night, leaving the woman’s identical twin to stay. Patient zero remained in the fetal position hugging herself and crying. The infection spreads depending on the size of the bite. For the more gruesome of bites the turn is fast. Only a matter of minutes. Smaller bites can take up to forty-eight hours. Patient zero turned within a day. No one is entirely sure why.
The first symptoms are typically a scratchy, sore throat. Nothing major. They think it’s nothing more than a cold or the flu. It escalates from there. Soon, a fever sets in. Then the afflicted complain about being really cold despite having a temp of one hundred or more and a headache starts. Their skin begins to get clammy, and a small sweat breaks out on their forehead. A few hours later they have respiratory problems. Their breathing becomes shallow and raspy. Right before death their eyes get a milky cloudiness to them, their pupils dilate so much it looks like they’re black. Aggression is the final stage. At that point, they’re contagious. Of course, this is when they’re most likely to bite you, before dying.
Patient zero was taken to the hospital toward the end of everything. Her family didn’t know she was so sick. They had no reason to believe their beloved child and sister was mere hours from death. She was put onto a neurological floor, even though the doctors weren’t entirely sure what was wrong with her. They just knew the altered mental status was new. She wasn’t an aggressive person by nature, but she was throwing swings at personnel and trying to bite
them. As the family sat by her bedside they were distraught watching as she slipped further and further into delusion and the sickness that overtook her ravaged body. They were terrified she’d never be the same.
The Veneer Clause
Winfield H Stock III
Dangerous questions lead to devastating answers as Rex grows to manhood and wonders about the futuristic world beyond his idyllic family cabin in the woods. What secret justified his isolated childhood and which of his parents’ stories holds true amidst a crumbling façade once held solid by The Veneer Clause?
“I’m fifteen, father,” Rex whined. He looked up from his work, a platter-sized parabolic mirror, polished to provide the utmost clarity. “Surely I’m mature enough now to go with you into town.”
His father, Todd, glared back and Rex realized how poorly his plea supported his case. He straightened his posture, pulling his shoulders back. After clearing his throat, he resumed his argument in his most adult voice. “My star-scope would be finished by now if I’d been able to go with you and help.”
“You’ll be able to see town from where we’ll set up your invention,” his father replied. “Wait until we’ve finished with this project before you consider new ventures.”
“And all these inventions in my head, all the ideas I’ve had; they’ve all been thought of before?”
“Long before either of us ever existed,” Todd replied.
“Then why don’t we have them here?”
“It was a preference of the first settlers to keep a simple existence and I honor it.”
Rex wrapped the mirror and placed it in a cushioned box. “You’ve helped me build my star scope. Isn’t that a violation of their preference?”
Todd looked to his son and flashed a smile. “The telescope is harmless enough.”
“That is the proper name for what you’ve invented,” Todd explained. “Others will call it that.”
“Who invented it first?”
Todd’s expression froze. Rex recognized the blank stare of his father deep in thought. There were times when Rex’s questions sent his father’s mind far away, searching for an answer. As Rex matured, his questions perplexed his father more frequently while his mother ignored his inquiries. While she seemed agitated by his curiosity, his father indulged him. Though most of his questions brought rapid answers, others tied up his father’s mind beyond Rex’s patience. The telescope’s creation had come from such a conversation. Rex yearned to explore the wonders beyond their idyllic world.
“I’m not sure,” he answered finally. “It’s been so long, and history’s not my specialty.”
“Is there a place where I can get all my answers?”
Todd shook his head. “Not all, but many. But why would you leave such a perfect place? Are you unhappy here?”
“It’s not that,” Rex answered apologetically. “I just feel like there’s more to life, like I’m supposed to be doing something with myself, something important.”
Todd’s eyes widened. “What does that feel like? How can you ‘feel’ a pull towards something unknown?”
“Haven’t you ever watched a bird fly and wonder what it felt like, ever wonder if you could find a way to fly too? Did you ever feel like a coiled spring, ready to catapult into an adventurous unknown? You didn’t feel the same way at my age?” Rex asked. His father’s stolid gaze made him feel foolish for asking.
“I enjoy my simple life with you and your mother.”
“But I want to go beyond our little valley one day,” Rex countered. “I want to see new marvels like my telescope, and more…