Wings of Thunder (Thunder Trilogy Book 3)
by Linda G Mooney
||Music and Press
Linda G Mooney
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As the days flow into weeks, and weeks become months, Rion finds Annie slowly becoming more and more despondent with homesickness, melancholy, and the growing need to see her home world again. His own fears escalate, knowing that if she returns, he will never be able to follow her. If she is taken back, he will never see her again. But she is an "otherworlder", and their laws dictate she cannot be forced to remain. If her wish is to go back to Earth, he has no choice but to let her.
But when fate sends a messenger through the gap during a massive, destructive storm, it forces Rion to fight to keep what he cannot live without. Now it's a battle between saving their love and their marriage, or giving her up and relinquishing her to the arms of another man.
A man from Earth.
“Green beans. Raw, just-snapped green beans.”
“And corn on the cob. Just shucked, with little tassels of silk still clinging inside the rows. You boil it in water until the kernels turn gold, and you eat it dripping with fresh-churned butter. Oh, and you gotta have crispy fried chicken. And a thick slice of hot apple pie so tart it makes your mouth sing for the rest of the evening. Dad used to put some chedder cheese on his. Umm, I can almost taste it now. I used to make an apple pie that would take the blue ribbon at the county fair.”
Chloe stepped back from the counter and paused to stare at Annie. The woman was slowly stirring a pot of cammonflower soup, but her movements were automatic. Clearly her mind was elsewhere, as was her inner vision.
“What else?” the woman angel ventured softly, not wanting to rudely awaken this woman who had become more than a friend to her, more than the sister-in-vows she had become.
Annie gave her a brief glance as a tiny smile dimpled one cheek. “Ice cream. If there was one thing a warrior could bring back from my world that I desire more than anything, it’s some ice cream.” She cocked her head slightly. “Strawberry, preferably, but I’d accept vanilla. Of course, how they would be able to bring it back would pose a problem.” Her back remained facing the woman angel as she went back to stirring the pot.
“That would be…nice,” Chloe managed to murmur. Glancing down at where she had been peeling and slicing aga bulbs, she laid the big green root and her knife on top of the counter, and wiped her hands on a cleansing cloth. “I will be right back, Annie. Will you excuse me?”
“Yeah. Sure. Go ahead. I’ll finish that aga if you need me to.”
“I am almost done. I will not be long,” Chloe promised, excusing herself from the kitchen. She hurried into the living area where their husbands were in deep discussion about something work-related. She noticed Kerr was sitting in Vadon’s lap. The baby was furiously gnawing on a chaka bun to help relieve the irritation caused by his first teeth coming in.
At her entrance, the two men gave her barely a glance until they noticed the look on her face. “Is something wrong?” Rion asked. Immediately his eyes went to the doorway leading into the kitchen before going back to her.
Steeling herself, Chloe gently asked, “How long has Annie been talking about her world?”
The effect of her words washed over his face, leaving him pale. “A while. What is she talking about this time?”
“Foods from Earth. Things she calls beans and corn and pie.” Slowly shaking her head, Chloe repeated her question. “How long has she been like this, Rion?”
The angel warrior bowed his head. His large hand tenderly stroked his son’s bare back and gently brushed the tiny wings sprouting from the boy’s shoulder blades. “I caught her talking to Kerr one morning while she was feeding him, a little over a week ago. She was telling him about the mountains in Montana and something about wheat fields in Ohio. I have no idea how long she has been telling him those things.” He looked up and noted the worried look on the physician’s face. “It is not unusual for someone to miss their home.” Rion made it sound like a statement of fact. In truth, he intended it to be a question and needed her to answer it.
“Have you been to see one of the Keepers?”
“Why would he need to see a historian?” Vadon finally spoke up. Chloe gave her husband a patient smile. Looking back at Rion, she asked again.
“Have you gone to the Hall of History since you brought Annie here?”
Instead of answering verbally, Rion shook his head. He reached out and picked up his son from Vadon’s lap and dropped him in his own. The baby gurgled happily. Chloe made an exasperated sound.
“Rion, do not waste any more time. You need to go over there and talk to one of them. Soon. No, tomorrow.”
“I am busy tomorrow,” he curtly told her. A flush of heat rose in his face, but Chloe remained undaunted by his bluster. The Lord of Thunder may cause others to cower in fear when he displayed his well-known temper, but she knew the real reason behind his reluctance. The man was terrified.
A tug on the sleeve of her tunic drew her attention back to her husband. “I am floundering in the dark here, Chloe. Please explain yourself. Why must Rion go to the Hall of History?”
“Because Annie is an outworlder. When Rion brought her over to our world, he did something that has only been done less than a handful of times in our history.” She glanced over her shoulder to see if they were being observed. Fortunately the doorway was empty. Putting on her best frown, she turned on the man who was her husband’s older brother and lowered her voice.
“I am surprised and ashamed of you, Rion, for assuming everything would be all sunshine and flowers once you brought her here! Especially after she found out about Anitra. And then what she had to endure during the court summons. Not to mention nearly losing her life when Byric tried to kill her. Annie has had to adjust to a world that is nothing like her home, and she has done so without complaint or regret, but you cannot expect it to remain that way forever.”
“I realize that,” Rion tried to intercede. Chloe cut him off with a curt wave of her hand. Her anger was growing more intense, but she couldn’t help it. Annie was as precious to her as the sister she never had.
“I told you long ago it might catch up with her. Sooner, if not later. Her life has changed dramatically from what she knew, and yet you expect her to simply adjust and forget her past?”
A dark cloud passed over Rion’s face. “Of course not,” he snapped.
“Then go to the Hall. Find out about the other outsiders who came here. Find out what happened to them. How well did they cope? How were they able to handle the change?” She lowered her voice even further until it was a fierce hiss. “I sense a growing detachment from her, Rion. A mental separation. She is beginning to relive her life on Earth. You may have to hire a Dreamer to give her surcease, because the mind is one area where no physician can tread. One way or another, if you do not find out how the other outworlders in the past were able to survive the shock, you could lose her again. This time permanently.”
Her words struck home. She noticed how his eyes narrowed in fear, and he clutched Kerr more tightly against him. The baby squirmed in his father’s grasp, when his eyes caught the sparkle of the wedding band on the man’s left hand. Cooing softly, he beat on the ring with his fruit bun.
“Very well. I will go tomorrow.”
“First thing?” Chloe urged.
Rion nodded. “Right after first sunrise.”
It was the response she had been seeking. If Rion said he would go at first sunrise, he was as good as his word. Finally satisfied, Chloe straightened up and went back into the kitchen to help finish preparing their evening meal.
Rion glanced over at where Vadon had chosen to remain quiet. “So, you think I have been negligent as well?” he growled softly.
Vadon smiled and slowly shook his head. “No. Not negligent. Fearful.” At the questioning look offered him, he nodded. “I know you all too well, Rion. When you do not want to hear the truth, you do not seek it. That is why you have not gone to the Hall before now. You do not want to know how the other Otherworlders survived on our world…that is, if they survived.”
“Annie is strong,” Rion protested.
“Yes, she is strong. And she loves you beyond all doubt. But when you brought her over here, both of you were traumatized. You both nearly died after her husband tried to kill you. To have you survive after such an incident is a miracle. But after her near-death at Byric’s hands, that makes two miracles, Rion. Surely you are not willing to risk her surviving a third attempt on her life.”
“What attempt?” Rion quickly barked. His tone of voice was enough to cause Kerr to pause and stare up at his father.
Vadon leaned over and placed a hand on the muscled shoulder. “Her mental stability, brother. She has been here, what? A little over a year and a half? It has been three months since she was brought out of her coma. In all that time has she ever shown signs of homesickness?”
“No.” Not that Rion could recall.
“Would you not consider that odd?”
Rion shrugged slightly.
“Rion, if you left this world, the only home you have known all your life, and you were forced to live on a world totally alien to you in all ways, would you not sometimes wish you were back here? Or that you could visit it? Or just see it, if only for a short time?”
This time there was the sparkle of tears in the man’s eyes. “I did not force Annie to come live here with me.”
“But it was the only choice you had. You know our kind cannot live on Earth.” He glanced down at the baby playing with his toes. “You may not want to hear this, Rion, but I am telling you because I love you, and I love Annie. Take no more chances. Go to the main Hall and find out all you can. That way you will be prepared.”
“Will you come with me?”
Rion never admitted weakness, and he never asked for help. Vadon knew deep in his heart that, before Annie, the man never needed anyone, and never sought anyone’s advice. If he did, he believed it would make him appear weak in the eyes of others, or so he thought.
Vadon knew Rion loved Annie with a passion that was beyond description. They had been through more heartache than anyone would be expected to survive. He knew why Rion was reluctant to visit the Hall. But the man had to face the fact that ignoring the possibility of something else happening to his wife wasn’t going to keep it from occurring.
Or maybe…Vadon gave Rion’s shoulder a squeeze and let go. Maybe the man already knew it.
“Yes. I will go with you. We will seek out the Grand Lord of History together and see what he has to reveal. Rion?” He waited for the man’s blue eyes to lock onto his. “Knowing the truth will only give us the foresight to be prepared. You know that, right?”
Reluctantly Rion nodded. Rion was the strongest man he knew, but he had one fatal flaw, one true weakness: Annie. The woman who was more than his wife. She was his reason for living.
“Vadon? Thank you.”
“For what, brother?”
“For kicking me in the butt when I need it.”
The tears had been replaced with a twinkle Vadon was well acquainted with. “You are welcome.”
“Welcome for what?” Annie called from the doorway. The pot of soup she held in her hands curled steam into her face.
“For kicking his butt when he needs it most.” Vadon chuckled. They got to their feet, anticipating her next words.
“Well, good for you, Vadon. Next time he needs it, I’ll send a courier over to fetch you. Hope you two are hungry. Chloe says I’ve made enough to feed a small army.” Placing the pot on the table, she disappeared back into the kitchen. The two took their seats but not before Vadon gave Rion another nod.
“Tomorrow. Right after first sunrise? I will come for you.”
Rion smiled. “I will be waiting.”
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