Home > Sorrow's Song (Lizzie Grace #9)

Sorrow's Song (Lizzie Grace #9)
Author: Keri Arthur

 

Chapter One

 

 

They say breaking up is hard to do.

They’re wrong.

Breaking up is easy. Living with the consequences of your decision in the long days after is the hard part.

I took a sip of hot chocolate and studied the street below the balcony on which I stood. It was close to two in the morning, so it was no surprise that the street was empty, given this portion of Castle Rock was basically a retail area. The nearby businesses had closed hours ago—even the late-night pizza shop on the corner was shut.

Had it been open, I might have been tempted to wander down and grab something. It would have made a nice change from the copious amounts of cake I’d been consuming over the last week.

I sighed and raised my gaze. Though the night was icy, the storms that had swept the reservation over the last few days had finally moved on, and the sky was clear and full of stars. The moon was in its waning gibbous stage, but her power still sang through me, as crisp and clear as the night itself. I wished it had the power to burn away the ache in my heart and the hurt in my soul, but I wasn’t even sure time would be able to work that particular miracle.

Not that I regretted my decision to walk away from Aiden.

It had become blindingly obvious even to me that no matter how much he loved me—and he did love me, I was certain of that—it was never going to be enough. I wasn’t a werewolf, I would never be given approval to become part of his pack, and he would never leave them for me.

Nor would I want him to.

Of course, we have gone on as we were, but sharing a house and a bed and all the good things that came with a caring, loving relationship had become more and more difficult for me. I wanted the whole box and dice—marriage, kids, and to grow old together—and that was never going to happen with him. I couldn’t continue to pretend everything was okay when it wasn’t. Sooner or later, his duties as alpha in waiting would demand he take a werewolf mate and force him away from everything we had. The fear of that happening was like a cancer in my soul, growing ever darker.

Better to walk away now and hold on to the hope of remaining friends than let that cancer destroy everything that had been good about us.

Of course, none of this would have been a problem if my stupid heart hadn’t decided to fall in love with the man.

I sighed and closed my eyes. That was when I heard the song.

It was faint but compelling, haunting but ethereal. It held no real words and drifted on the breeze as joyfully as blossom petals in spring, yet it stirred something deep inside that was as far from joy as you could get.

Fear.

My gaze snapped open, and I looked around, trying to pinpoint the song’s origin. Trying to understand why such a beautiful sound caused so much inner turmoil.

It seemed to be coming from the hills that surrounded the eastern edge of Castle Rock, but more than that I couldn’t define. Which was inconvenient, given just how big an area that was.

But something was happening out there—something bad—and it needed to be investigated. Now. Before it was too late.

I hesitated and then reached out lightly to Belle. She wasn’t only my best friend and co-owner of the café we both ran, but also my familiar, and that gave us the ability to converse telepathically even though it wasn’t one of my growing array of psychic skills. She, however, was not only one of the strongest telepaths out there but also a powerful spirit talker. It was a talent that had been invaluable on numerous occasions when we’d been hunting down the latest supernatural nasty to invade the reservation.

Whether it would be helpful tonight was a moot point—at least until we got out there and uncovered what was happening.

You okay? came her immediate if sleepy response.

Guilt twinged through me. She and Monty—who was not only my cousin, but also the designated reservation witch, a position that made him the High Witch Council’s mouthpiece here, even if the reality meant he did little more than provide magical assistance to the reservation’s rangers—had been doing most of the heavy lifting when it came to emotionally supporting me. It hadn’t been an easy task, given how much of a mess I’d been the first couple of days after the breakup. Belle deserved her rest and some alone time with her man, but I couldn’t escape the notion that the hauntingly beautiful sound was an indication that darkness once again hunted in the reservation.

Of course, I could have investigated without her or Monty’s help, but too many of the demons and dark spirits who invaded this place came from the higher end of the power scale for that to be advisable.

A lesson I’d learned the hard way.

I’m fine, I said. I’m just out on the balcony and heard a strange song riding the breeze and...

And your inner trouble radar went off.

Yes. It may be nothing but...

Since when has it ever been nothing? Hang on while I grab a coat and head outside. The mental line fell briefly silent. Not hearing anything specific out here. What sort of music is it?

Almost unworldly. I leaned on the balustrade, my gaze on the shadow-wrapped hills to the east. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was coming from near the O’Connor compound.

Maybe Aiden’s mother is still celebrating your breakup.

A smile twitched my lips even as sadness stabbed through me. I doubt if even she would be that overt.

Given he’s apparently not staying at the O’Connor compound, or even at his own place, but with a friend in the Marin compound, he wouldn’t know, so she wouldn’t care.

That bit of gossip surprised me. We hadn’t been sharing his house in Argyle all that long, and none of my stuff was there anymore. Sure, we’d had plenty of good times there, but from the very start of our relationship he’d been pretty determined life would go on as normal when we did break up.

Of course, that had been said before we had. The reality was very different, and something he was obviously struggling with as much as me.

Knowing that didn’t make me feel any better.

What wouldn’t surprise me, however, was his mother celebrating our breakup. The woman absolutely hated me, though I now suspected it wasn’t so much me personally as some traumatic event in her past that had involved a witch. For that same reason, I doubted my breaking up with Aiden would in any way change her attitude toward me and Belle.

She did at least treat Monty civilly, but then, the last thing she’d want was to upset the apple cart as far as the High Witch Council went. Witches and werewolves had a long and turbulent history, and though that wasn’t so much a problem these days, it wouldn’t take all that much to devolve again. Especially when the high council were aware there was a wellspring here that was possibly gaining sentience. I had no doubt they’d grab the smallest opportunity to take the reservation over in order to examine the wellspring more thoroughly.

What the high council didn’t know was the fact it was my growing link to that wellspring causing the “sentience.”

Of course, said connection was something everyone had thought to be impossible, and it was one that had only come about thanks to my mother. Or rather, from the fact that she’d unknowingly been pregnant when she’d been sent to restrain an emerging wellspring. The unbridled, magical energy of the earth that had almost killed her should certainly have destroyed me. Instead, it had somehow fused to my DNA, giving me a deep connection to the wilder forces of this world—though it was a connection no one, least of all me, had been aware of until I’d come into this reservation a year ago.

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