#MM #Fantasy #Paranormal #Romance #Series
#Druids #Shifters #Magic #Fae #Unseelie #HEA
A Flicker of Hope
Druid’s Curse 2
By Shea Balik
Cover by: Harris Channing
Kegan Tulach already knew that monsters were real. He’d faced them. Watched in horror as they killed those he loved. Then run from them. It was his response for the past two years. But now, on his twenty-first birthday, running wasn’t an option. He had nowhere to go. It was time for him to face his worst nightmare.
There weren’t many people who could do what Bjorn did. Fight monsters and live to tell the tale. It was a job thrust upon him as a kid. If he had known the true hell that would be cursed upon him, he would have preferred to die even though he’d only been fourteen at the time. Now, years later, he had hope that the curse would come to an end. The question was, would he choose the death he’d so desperately craved for more than a millennia, or would he do the one thing he swore he’d never do? Choose love.
If Kegan and Bjorn can find a way past their fears, they may discover something worth living for – each other.
WARNING: This book contains some graphic violence against Unseelie monsters and hot man on man love!
Red strips appeared along McAlister’s body as if he were being fed through a freakish bread slicer. The agony and pain that should have been in his light blue eyes, wasn’t there, only surprise and regret. When his gaze landed on Kegan for the briefest instant, fear replaced it all as his mouth opened as if to yell something to his brother…
Jolting awake, Kegan Tulach’s heart raced as sweat covered his body, drenching the bedding. It was as if he were back at his home more than two years ago, watching as his family died.
The fear had lived within Kegan ever since, but now, another emotion had edged its way in to share space side by side with that terror – despair. Today, more than ever, that horrible sense of his impending death descended over Kegan as his eyes landed on the too bright numbers of the bedside clock.
6:15 A.M. Dec 21, 2018.
What he hadn’t expected was to have a new emotion settle over him – calm. Maybe it was because finally, the day he’d dreaded more than any other had arrived. The beginning of the end for him.
Today he turned twenty-one. If only fate wasn’t against him surviving the day.
It should be a day of celebration, but Kegan knew better. There would be no party. No family gathering. No going out with his friends for a night of doing what could only be described as acting like idiots while they drank themselves stupid.
Despite the time, it would be several hours before any semblance of light illuminated the sky on the darkest day of the year. That was doubly true since he was in Alaska, in an effort to be as far from anywhere too populated for the hell that would come for him.
It meant traversing the unknown terrain, with its freezing cold temperatures and minimal light, but it was worth it if he could save those who were innocent from dying if his worst fears came to pass. Not even the appeal of exploring a new area of the world that he’d yet to see gave him any peace for what lie ahead of him that evening.
As much as he was dreading the day, Kegan rolled out of bed anyway. There was no point in lying there, wishing for things to be different. He was born into this life, whether he’d wanted to be or not. His fate had never really been his to decide. Hiding under the covers wasn’t going to change his destiny.
Sitting up, he placed his feet on the fur rug that lay along the floor next to his bed. He imagined the husband and wife that ran the bed and breakfast he’d been staying at for the past three nights had placed it there to keep their guests’ feet from freezing any more than necessary.
Not that it mattered today. He was too damn numb as to what this day would likely bring for him to feel… well, anything but bone deep fear. He just wished he knew where the sensation of acceptance that was floating around inside of him was coming from.
He’d been fleeing for two fucking years to avoid not only what had happened, but what he knew would take place if he didn’t keep running. If only he believed that would work. Maybe that’s where the detached apathy of his fate was coming from.
There was no deviating from his life’s path. Even being in the far reaches of Alaska, in the middle of December, wasn’t going to be enough to save him from facing what he’d been avoiding for more than two years. Like it or not, it was time to man up and deal with the curve ball life had thrown him.
A harsh laugh burst from deep in his throat at the absurdity of that thought. Sure, his life had been changed, but at least he was still alive. The same couldn’t be said for the rest of his family.
A tear leaked from the corner of his eye as images from that horrific day cascaded through his mind like a gruesome slideshow. Except, instead of being able to, at the very least, close his eyes, it was as if he was strapped to a chair with his eyelids taped open, forcing him to watch, no matter how much he struggled to turn away.
Thick blood, too prevalent to ignore, obscured his field of vision. Even now, after more than two years, the metallic scent would hit him like a sledge hammer, causing him to gag no matter where he was, or what he was doing. But it was the screams that haunted him the most.
Everything from a child laughing, to a cat’s yowl, or even the rusty hinges of a gate moving would send him back into that terrible moment when his world had turned upside down. He wasn’t sure which was worse, reliving those moments, or the crushing guilt that never left him after he’d abandoned those he loved to save himself.
He’d wasn’t sure how to forgive himself for being a coward. Hell, he wasn’t sure he wanted to forgive himself. It didn’t help that he was still running.
At the same time, Kegan wasn’t sure how to stand and fight. Not after what he’d witnessed.
Thick rivulets of dark red blood had run down his brother’s body in ribbons as he was shredded. An ear-piercing scream was all Kegan could hear, not even the roar of the crackling bonfire could come close to competing with the sound.
It wasn’t until his brother, McAlister, had dropped face down onto the ground, his insides too clearly visible for him to still be alive, that Kegan even realized it hadn’t been his brother who’d been the one making the sound. It had been him.
When black, soulless eyes had turned his way, those animals…Kegan shook his head. No. Those hadn’t been animals. They’d been nothing he’d ever imagined, even when watching horror movies. He still had no clue what they’d been. The stories his family had told him through the years didn’t explain their gruesome sight, or just how they had come to be there.
If only his almost nineteen-year-old self had believed that part of the story, maybe he could have done something, been prepared. Kegan ran a hand over his face as he tried to wipe the images of that day away.
He’d been a stupid kid. Then again, the sheer shock on his parents’ faces when those things appeared told him, he hadn’t been the only one. He just wasn’t sure if it was because they’d just shown up out of thin air, or their monstrous forms that had been the bigger surprise. Not that it mattered, for either way, none of them had been ready for them to be there for that auspicious occasion.
McAlister’s twenty-first birthday.
©Shea Balik 2019
Who is Shea Balik, you ask?
Best Selling author of the Cedar Falls Series, Paranormal War Series, and Miracle Series, Shea Balik has always had a vivid imagination with stories running around in her head. Often her stories are taken from observations of other people with her own spin.
Traveling is one of her favorite ways of fulfilling her passion of people watching. You never know, one day you may spark her imagination for her next book.
Whether at home or traveling she is usually in front of her computer writing or curled up with a good book.
You can stay up to date with everything Shea by following any or all links below!