For all the misery that O’Cairnnon Castle has caused Neve Brádach, it may also have brought her the most happiness. Standing at the alter in Cairnnon’s chapel, she prepares to marry the incomparable Haydn O’Conner. He is everything she had ever dreamed of.
Naturally, The Cairnnon Curse crashes the ceremony, turning Neve’s dream wedding into a hellish nightmare.
This series is a re-release.
Warning: This collection of short stories contains m/f and m/m couplings and cliffhangers. Installments must be read in order.
In a flurry of activity and a whirl of time, Neve Brádach stood in the chapel at Cairnnon Castle, staring up at the formidable man who was about to become her husband.
“Are you all right, luv? You look a little shell shocked.” Haydn O’Conner chuckled.
“I canna believe this is happenin’,” Neve replied.
“Havin’ second thoughts?” Haydn’s eyes narrowed.
Neve joined her hands with his. “No. I just can’t believe how fast you brought this all together.”
“I don’t fuck around,” he said, signaling the cleric.
Neve frowned at the comment. It wasn’t a usual saying of his. She glanced toward the guests. Mishel and Joel sat in the first pew, holding hands. Mish gave her a reassuring wink. Though he’d made his opinion about this shot-gun wedding crystal clear, he was still here to support her.
“You look absolutely beautiful,” Haydn said, as she returned her attention to him.
Haydn had spared no expense on the simple yet elegant wedding gown, the bodice beaded intricately with tiny replicas of the O’Cairnnon crest. But it was the exquisite Irish lace veil covering her hair that she adored the most—embellished with pale pink bog-rosemary blossom appliqué.
The priest began the blessings, and just like everything else leading up to the wedding, the ceremony went by in a blur. Neve didn’t even remember reciting her vows when she realized the clergyman was giving the final instruction.
He was a strange looking individual with angular features, almost caricature-like.
“By the power vested in me…by…me…”
Astonished, both Haydn and Neve turned to look at the cleric. What a strange statement.
All of a sudden, the holy man’s veneer fell away, his flesh melting from his face, dripping to the floor, like hot candle wax.
Neve gasped at the horrific sight. She recognized him at once from the tragic events she’d witnessed through the eyes of Nevaeh McBenn. “Hualryn!” Spine-tingling fear coursed through her.
He sneered at her.
“Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I still must pronounce you man and wife. Done! Neve Brádach, kiss your husband.”
Neve looked up at Haydn, who was staring at Hualryn as if not at all surprised to see him.
The evil grin on Hualryn’s face was one Neve would never forget.
“No? Well, then at least see him for who he really is. Neve Brádach, meet Alesdair…O’Cairnnon.” If possible, Hualryn’s nasty smirk grew. “My father.”
Dread poured over Neve like a cold wave, consuming every fiber of her being.
“Ya lied to me?” she accused Haydn. “What about your poor wife? You told me you lost a child?”
Haydn bowed his head. “It was not of my choice to mislead ya.”
Hual leaned in, elbowing Haydn out of the way, and got in her face, practically nose to nose. It took every bit of willpower she possessed not to cringe and withdraw.
“And do you know what all this means?” His black gaze bore into her.
“No…” she whispered, nausea giving her tunnel vision.
Haydn moved to her side, holding her upright.
“Yesss,” Hualryn hissed, serpent-like. “That makes you my mummy,” he finished gleefully.
“Nooo…” Her knees threatened to give out.
“Come, give us a wee kiss.” He puckered up, and she gagged.
“No? Is this also a bad time to mention that you carry…ah-ah…wait for it…this is too good!” His black eyes widened. “Twins!” he chortled.
Neve covered her stomach protectively.
“That’s what the ultrasound tech didn’t get to tell you. Such grand news, yeah? But don’t you worry, Mumma. Delivery will not be difficult. For only one child will survive your womb.” Hualryn ran a bony finger over her abdomen.
Neve swatted his hand away as she bit back the name that was on the tip of her tongue. Bástienne. She knew by having witnessed Nevaeh’s life it would only enrage him were she to voice it. Hualryn’s jealously for his brother was legendary.
“I don’t understand,” she stammered.
“Then let me fill you in.” He careened around the pulpit in a grand gesture. “I have done everythin’ in my power to eliminate my brother. In several lifetimes, as a matter of fact. And no matter how many times I have reset time, every fucking epoch, Nevaeh, the silly chit, chooses him. Every fucking time! I even went back and made sure that she met me first, and still, she chose him.”
“That is how I remember it,” Neve whispered to Haydn.
“Oh, you silly bitch! You call yourself a scientist? What happened to tha’ analytical mind? You were never Nevaeh! You are not her reincarnation. You are your own being. I just had to keep your little brain stimulated while you were down there under the rubble or it would have ended up like mush.” He snarled at Haydn and thumbed in his direction. “Like his. And what better way ta keep your wits active than ta show ya in vivid detail the lovely little tale that brought us all here together on this special day.”
He spun on her. “But then even you, you silly bitch, ended up believin’ you’d fallen for him! What did you think was happenin’ when Haydn here was rutting on top of you down there in the tunnels? That it was Bástienne?” His features wrinkled in distaste. “That is somewhat grotesque, Mummy, rather incestuous of you, even,” he mocked.
“Nooo,” she wailed again. “Why are you doin’ this?”
“Because I needed to recreate us. Bás and me…”
“But,” she interrupted. “Then why did you not resurrect your own mother?”
“Because she was weak,” he growled, baring his teeth. “Useless. She died in childbirth. I needed a strong woman to carry me.”
Uncomprehending, Neve shook her head. “But the children will not be the same if not from your real mother and father.”
He chuckled again. “Oh, but they will. The eggs I harvested were our mother’s.”
Neve dry heaved again, covering her mouth.