this is the opening of a project I *will* do eventually...
©2008 Suzanne Lazear
Arianrhod Annabelle Morgan Epson D’Ingénue pushed the green plastic grocery cart down the aisles of the heath food market. A chubby hand thrust out, pulled a box off the shelf, and waved it in the air. “Cookie mama?”
Ani couldn’t help but laugh at the expression on her toddler’s face. At two and a half, Ceri Nan was a blonde angel who was nearly impossible to resist.
“One treat, alright baby?” She planted a kiss on her toddler’s pale forehead. Ceri Nan reminded her so much of her sisters – blonde, blue-eyed and angelic on the outside, and a bundle of sheer will on the inside.
“’tay.” Chubby bare arms clutched the package to her chest as she rode patiently in the front of the cart while they shopped.
They turned to go down the freezer aisle and Ani relished in the coolness as she opened up the door to the cooler to buy Ceri Nan’s favorite ice cream. It was a hot July day in New Mexico. The kind of day that made her wish she still lived on the coast.
Ani was also wearing a long sleeved turtleneck, but she nearly always did in public. Witches were tolerated in this part of New Mexico, but there was no need to advertise her rank and station.
Her eyes lingered over a package of tofu ice cream sandwiches. Unlike the rest of her little family, she was vegan. She didn’t usually indulge in treats, but the latest round of edits on her upcoming book was driving her to distraction.
Not to mention the trauma of finding her husband in bed with a woman she considered a dear and trusted friend.
Reaching into the freezer case, she grabbed the package. As she closed the door to the freezer case, the hair stood up on the back of her neck in a way it hadn’t for six and a half years. Immediately fear pulsed though her veins. She had hoped that they would never find her again. That they’d leave her alone.
No one defied the curse.
In a second, Ceri Nan was in her arms. The box of ice cream sandwiches fell to the ground, forgotten.
“Cookies,” Ceri Nan wailed. They needed to get out of there. Now.
It was too late. Years of nothing had caused her guard to slip. She felt the brush of a hand on her shoulder. It was all that was needed.
If she had been alone, she would have done the same as she had since the first seeker found her at fourteen. She would have used her magic to kill them, then taken off. Before she could be touched.
Gathering up Ceri Nan cost her precious time. Though she would not, could not, kill with her tot watching. Not that there was anything she could do now.
It had been done.
That was her name, but not one she had gone by in twelve years. It was what they always called her. Usually they spoke before they tried to touch her.
Fear seized Ani, paralyzing her as she clutched Ceri Nan to her chest. Slowly, she turned to face the seeker. There was no use in running now. A fiery pain on the right side of her face extended from her temple to right below her ear.
He looked like all the others. Slim, tall, muscular, pale. This one had a shock of blue black hair and eyes like blackberry jam. There was a black sigil on his right cheek, extending from his temple, to just below his ear. Her mark.
How did he succeed where the others had failed?
Ani was not the girl she was when the first seeker found her. She wasn’t the woman she had been at twenty when the last seeker came. Now Ani was a mother, a wife, a witch with many responsibilities and a career...
Also, with five seekers dead by her hand, this one had probably been warned.
The seeker spoke again. “Arianrhod Morgan. Daughter of the Dark Moon Tribe...”
This was the day she had feared for her entire life.
Finally he spoke those words. Words which tore at her very soul. Words that tore apart the world she spent the past twelve years building.
What had she been thinking? Why would she be enough to defy the curse?
“You have been chosen by the dark goddess to serve her.”
It didn’t matter that it was broad daylight. It didn’t matter that they were in the middle of a grocery store.
This cannot be happening.
But it already had.
His eyes met hers. Was that pity? Impossible.
She wanted to hate him for ruining her life, for sentencing her to a fate worse than death. A fate that would lead to her death. He was simply doing his job.
“May she bless and protect you.”
The last thing Ani wanted was her blessings or protection. She was already in the service of the brighter aspect of her, and quite happy.
For six generations the curse had wrecked havoc on all female children born into her family. It would for one more.
The seeker disappeared as silently and as quickly as he appeared. That was his gift. No one ever escaped a seeker. The fact that she had, not once, but five times was something out of legend and lore.
As the fiery pain burned on her cheek, tears leaked from her eyes. Her knees turned to jelly as she sank to the ground in the middle of the freezer aisle.
Ceri Nan was abnormally silent, as if the tot knew something had just happened.
Something frightening. Something life changing.
For a witch, it was the thing nightmares were made of. A nightmare she had lived though with both her sisters.
Now it had happened to her.
After all these years of defying the curse of the Dark Moon Daughters, Ani had finally been chosen.