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First pages

Chapter 1

“Hanahia, this is going to be a wonderful and exciting vacation after all those exams this quarter. This is the last month before graduation and now it’s time to have some fun.” I announced as I grabbed her hand.

“We deserve it lady with our top ranking scores in the entire class!!!

Yeah, we did the dang thing!” Hanahia said proudly.

“Uh no honey, it’s we did the damn thang.” I goofed, laughing with my friend who was from a different land.

“Shaleea you are going to love the Isles where I came from with all its rolling hills and gorgeous mountains. The main isle where I grew up is one of the most beautiful and the most peaceful places on the planet.” Hanahia explained as I listened to her. Looking at my friend I could tell she loved her home.

“You were born there so of course you would think so!” I mocked, as we laughed. “But I am ready for some true rest and relaxation after the year we’ve had, with all the essays and all in one class. How is it that a teacher can come up with that many ways to say the same thing, I will never know. It’s been so crazy at home with my kids and our family nights have been almost no nights. No one is on the same schedule for nothing. We really haven't had any time for our family gatherings that we have always made time for in the past. I try to keep them rooted on that we are one light that shine brightest together.” I ranted as my sistah looked at me in awe.

“See when you say things like that, I wonder if you get this stuff from a book or something because that sounds very poetic.” Hanahia complimented with a smile.

“You’re a mess, you know that but anyway. You know, my sons are running their own company…always traveling here and there, and all over this country and other countries as well. My oldest is a graphic architect and my youngest has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and construction design. They are both deep thinkers like their momma. My daughter also has her own boutique and her partners are very nice but sometimes…I believe they leave the actual creating up to her. I don’t think it is fair because when it comes to the fashion shows, they are the main ones out on stage bowing and blowing kisses like they had something to do with it. She seems to be okay with it and we would know if she wasn’t. Her creations are flawless and with the way she designs each style and piece, it is truly above any fashion sense of her time and age. To be able to mix some of those styles and designs without it being tacky, I must say my girl got it.” I praised as we began to leave the campus.

“I can see how much you adore your children. That is why we all are going on this vacation together. Getting out of the states for a while and having some fun will be exactly what this family need.” Hanahia concluded as we both got into my truck.

“Hanahia, you have got to tell me something though…how do you want me to help you with your brother? No, I have not forgotten that night. You are like a sister to me and I will help you but Ms. Lady it’s time to come clean about that phone call from your mom. You were sick for three whole weeks. Phone calls don't make people sick as you were.” I continued on as we pulled out the parking lot.

“Okay, but you first have to let me explain a part of my life I have never told you. An open mind is all I ask of you right now okay. Please tell me you have that in your heart for me?” Hanahia asked with teary eyes. “Hanahia, you came in my life unexpectedly when I was at one of my lowest and most vulnerable points. As your friend and sistah, no matter what you tell me I am on your side. Tell you what…how about you come over for dinner, we can open a bottle of white wine and you can let it all out.” I invited as she nodded in agreement.

“Okay.” Hanahia mumbled, getting out of the truck as we pulled up to her home. When the next day came, we went our way to do our daily chores and that evening she arrived on time. My daughter and grands had just left to tell me that they were not going to be able to fly to the Isle with us. However, they would still be joining us but later on. As my daughter was leaving, Hanahia was pulling up in my drive-way. I told Hanahia to have seat while I went to pick out one of our favorite red wine.

“Dinner is almost done in ten more minutes or so. You know I always have wine with dinner if nothing else.” I joked, lifting up a red and white chardonnay. We laughed at how I would never run out of wine…red, white and a few other ones if I ever needed a stronger bite. I could tell my friend was ready to get this off of her chest so I simply said, “I’m listening.” as I handed her a glass.

“Here goes...the isle my family lives on is considered the center of life’s foundation. I’m not sure why but time and a few other things are different there. The people there came from all types of different backgrounds and cultures of all sorts. Indians, French, African, Spanish, Vietnamese and so on all found themselves on that Island. As time went by, they started having issues about who should rule and why. The very making of our village was every man to his household and the village as one. There is one law, which is to love God. After a while, some people thought that others were growing more in title…as in more liked, a better farmer and that some had more land than others. It was according to how much each man or family put in that land and some got jealous. So they moved across the river that has always been there from the beginning. But a once beautiful forest turned dark. Literally…over a period of time even while standing in the very brightest part of day it was dark. When my family realize that the sky was still bright overhead, we knew someone or something had tainted some of our people we have known all our lives. My great-grandmother and grandfather was one of the first foundation families. We have heard stories and tales of the darkened forest as children. As the tale went at night, you could hear women crying for their babies as they were taken from their breast while only being born earlier that day. Then one day my brother and I met this girl who was supposedly the daughter of our mothers’ friend. She had never brought her any of the times before when she came over and no one ever remembered her being pregnant. Although, some say she was more than just a friend to my mother but a sister who was taken at birth. Our mother just laughed when we asked her about it and said she was an only child so that wasn’t possible. We knew that mom always thought the ole tales were a bit funny. But sometimes when her friend would come for tea you could tell that there was a secret between them and neither one was sharing. This girl would try to find any way possible to get rid of me, as if she wanted my brother all to herself. So I started finding other things to do when they came over or pretended I was ill.” Hanahia wept as she told her story.

“Hanahia, honey how can I help you with this? Obviously you can sense we have a lot in common and you believe I can help? I'm telling you girl, you have my suspense wide open so quit playing and talk to me.” I insisted as I sipped on my wine.

“Okay, okay…always been right-to-the-point type of gal.” Hanahia scoffed, rolling her eyes at me.

“Yes, so if there is more you need to get it out, tell me before I get my pilot set up for this trip.” I requested we prepared the table to eat.

“We are still going aren’t we?” Hanahia asked hesitantly.

“Yes,” I said, since we had already packed for the trip. “Won’t you just stay the night and we can leave together in the morning. My sons called and they will have to meet us there and my daughter will be meeting us later. I really wanted all of us to fly together but business is business.” “You never told me you had a plane.” Hanahia said excitingly.

“Well, it’s more of a jet… my kids pitched in after I woke from my coma and said now it’s your turn momma. I couldn’t stop crying because the entire time I was in the coma, they kept themselves busy. They were working and taking care of me all at the same time.” I finished as we continued eating dinner and drinking our wine. I led Hanahia to her favorite guest room and we said our ‘good nights’ to one another.

 

When morning came my son had sent a car for us and made sure everything was in order before we took off. Don’t you love when you don’t have to wait in long lines? We were seated comfortably and I noticed my friend was unusually quiet this morning, so I waited for her to start here tale. From the look on her face I could tell she too had been to hell and back.

“So back to what I was telling you about my mathair’s friend and her daughter. The daughters name is Shriann O'brienan. Her mathair Chaitleen O’brienan were both found floating in a broken boat one winter's evening by my father who was a fisherman as well as a farmer. He said that it looked like someone tried to get rid of them permanently. They had scars and gashes all over their hands, feet and upper body. So dad and mom took them in until they were healed up, since we had plenty of rooms. Remember, I told you that our family were one of the foundation families, each had their own castle. Shriann was a little younger than Keenan so we kind of thought of her as a sibling, well tried to anyway. But as time went on, mom and Ms. Chaitleen started acting even more sour towards each other, and it wasn’t getting any better. We never did find out why because they were still cordial to each other. However, a dark vibe was always there when they came into the same room. It was as if each one was holding on to their secret and wanted to know what the other knew. I thought that just maybe they were from the blacken forest and was trying for some kind of attack. I asked mom why Shriann and Ms. Chaitleen had to leave all of a sudden one night…as if they had to go the same as they came. It was frightening to see my mom of all people act as if she didn't care if they lived or died. My mathair seemed as if she lost bits of her heart and compassion that she’d raised us on. So I set out to find out exactly what went on between them. One night when mom and dad went to the town square for the monthly meeting, I eased out of the house. See, I knew that Shriann and her mom had not gone far because there was a little cavern outside of the village. As long as they didn't cause any trouble for no one in the village, they could still be involved in some festival gatherings. Thanks to dad, he felt that throwing them to the blacken foresters was cruel. As I left the boundary of our land, I felt strange as if it was like stepping into another world. The tingling running over my skin was a feeling I wasn't sure I wanted but my mind was pushing me to find out the truth in mothers' drastic change. If it was something I could do to heal my family I was going to at least try. I entered the cavern with so much hope in my heart and good intentions on making my family whole again, that I didn’t realize I was way out of my league. What I found only made me sick and confused. My somewhat friend and I thought could have been sister for the three years that they lived with us was crazy. She was in the corner reading in a language I had never heard before. She also had pictures of my brother on a man who was naked and laying very still on what look like an alter. It had velvet coverings and strange symbols carved in the base of the wood. I was so scared I wanted to leave right then but I was determined to see my family happy and whole again. When I walked over to ask her what she was doing, the very naked guy grabbed me and started to dance. Shaleea, now I had never been the type to scare easily but he acted as if he knew exactly who I was. With the most gorgeous smile he told me I was not of the village but a forester. As he danced and held me close, he whispered of how my brother and I were never meant to be as we are in the village…which confused the hell out of me even more. But something shook me out of what felt like a seduction of my mind and spirit. I finally got to Shriann to talk to her again but when I looked in her eyes this time they were pure solid white. She acted as if she had no clue to who I was and that she and her mother had been living with us for three years. Just then a hand grabbed my arm with a force so hard it snapped like a twig. I must have passed out because when I woke up I was at home in my room in bed with a broken arm and more. My father was rambling about finding me on the back porch bleeding everywhere. I had been out for three weeks with no knowledge of how I ended up with a broken arm and a cracked rib and a few other bruises. Shaleea my horse was killed and all my folks would say is that I had never been clumsy before. I cried for my Hanna K, which was my horses’ name. As time went on I started having nightmares about my mathair sitting in a circle in the blacken forest, loving a man that was not my father. Little did I know?” Hanahia sighed heavily.

“Hanahia, let’s get some sleep. You are looking a little pale girl. I'm sorry you are having a hard time with this but now sistah girl, you are not alone. We will talk more in the morning once we land, which will only be maybe two or three hours from now. Would you like a glass of wine to help ease you, cause ma'am you are scaring me with your nerves and vibes sky-rocketing all over the place.

As I watched my friend toss and turn, I became real worried about this “vacation” we was headed for. But God has always covered me all of my life. You see, Hanahia was not the only one with a story…a real life drama, horror episode. There are some things I don't think my sistah girl would understand about my past. See this was not my first time on this side of the world, well literally it will be. It was in my dreams that I lived this life and the fact that those very dreams are tying themselves in my friends' real life is truly setting my nerves on a rocker. One that I feel is about to take us both on a journey that was destined, as if the past was trying to correct some wrongs that should have been corrected a long time ago. Hanahia believes her friend is from the states…but would she believe me if I told her the truth? She trusts me so in time I will have to do the same, but first I have to figure out the whole story. No I don't believe she is lying to me but there is still a lot that is not being said. Either she doesn't know or she is truly holding out for a valid reason. Oh my friend, we will get through this together I promise. The thing about that though is in what condition when it ends, that too I learned on the streets. Now, if only I can figure out Mr. Keenan Kelli and where he comes in on all of this would really answer some questions. Hanahia had shown me a picture while we were at school and oh my, he was a handsome man. Let me stop lying, he was sexy as all out doors!!! But looking at him, those deep clear blue eyes, short sandy red hair, there was a mysteriousness about him that I wanted to find out. Keenan was still living in the castle they grew up in, which is where we were headed. Only God knows why he chooses to stay in that huge place all by himself. The castle was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen in my life. The pictures Hanahia had shown me was breathtaking. Three story Victorian/Persian style home with a very elegant crème and brown brick. I was so ready to see it in person. The pull to this land was another thing all together. Why was my dream becoming so intense the closer we got to this place? Hanahia assumes she knows me, but while my friend is asleep I will let you know a little about myself.

My name is Shaleea Jashi Kelli and I am 45 years old. I am from The Carolina; I just graduated collage this past month after 4 years of starting completely over in my life. I have three kids and three grand kids. In the rebirth of my life, I got a divorce and opened my own massage spa. I have a photography studio on the side of my spa with pictures of life and nature. I love all things created by God in its beauty. But that has nothing to do with the true story. My dreams started when I turned thirty-seven then at thirty-nine I was in a car wreck that left me in a coma for eighteen months which didn’t help. When I woke up my husband was gone… good for me. He left me to die alone and tried to take all my money with him but my kids were there and they were not going to let him kill me, which is what he tried to do. I felt them in my spirit, praying for me and caring for me. When I awoke I was anew and had healed somewhat from most of my injuries but the dreams..... Who would have thought that something unreal and supernatural had come back with me? I had been having those dreams for a while but seriously, these dream came with more pain than a body can imagine or can stand. I stood in a field with miles of gorgeous rolling hills in a meadow talking to one of the most humble and peaceful men I have ever known in my life…then I thought about it, I didn’t know any humble men at all. He had shown me that all the things in my life that I wanted were truly in reach. The love in his voice brought a soothing to my soul. To know that no matter what he was there in my heart and spirit forever. He gave me the ways to live with the journey I was about to embark on. Heading to the top of the hill with him at my side we met a woman with dark hair and green eyes. She smiled and ran up to me as if she been a part of my life forever. Even though she was an angel to my thinking, something that she was telling me, my human emotions didn't understand and couldn’t grasp…but I wanted to bad. The look in her eyes told me I would understand when the time came and use it only when I needed it most. I was sad every time he left me and I knew it was only the physical eye that could no longer see him because I always felt him.

How it came to this point, only God knows.

As we neared the airport, I woke up Hanahia. Whatever burden my friend was carrying it was a heavy one. “So how are we going to get to the castle from the landing stripe?” I asked excitingly as we landed. “Oh my uncle in the village should already be on the side of the stripe. You see our land is connected by the river that runs across the entire mainland to the coastal side of the shore…which would be on the west side of our family home. Oh, there he is now!” She announced solemnly. Her uncle Kauleen sat on top of a lovely cart pulled by one of the hugest stallions I have ever seen. He was a perfect dark chocolate with a hint of white running down his hind legs. It was only recent in my dreams that the love of horses soon became a reality after my kids surprised me with a brown and white mare for a birthday present. This monstrous beast made me fall in love with him instantly as he nuzzled against me without hesitation. Kauleen then walked from the opposite side of the buggy.

“Ole Kuaren here is not usually good with strangers.” Kauleen grumbled. “I guess we have kindred spirits” I said caressing his beautiful mane again and he apparently agreed. “You would think he would be a breed or a show stallion not a buggy pulling horse.” I mentioned, still rubbing his snout. I was fascinated with his elegance. My feel for this place kicked up a notch as everything was being loaded into the buggy. I was so ready to find out what I was truly doing here and what was pulling at my spirit within and why so strongly. Hanahia was talking to her uncle and it didn't look like a reunion of complete happiness, so I minded my business by giving them some space. Some things people don't want you to know no matter how close a friend you are and that is what it is. So Hanahia brought uncle Kauleen over and made proper introductions and then we were on our way. The land was so peacefully quiet…it wasn’t to me though. It was more of holding it’s breathe waiting for the right time to let go. Surely the land wasn't waiting for us to arrive…why would it be? But as we got closer to the river, the anticipation was sending live wires all over my flesh, so I decided to start a conversation. “Uncle Kauleen, can you give me a little history lesson on the town because my “friend” here, I believe is holding out on me.” I insisted, breaking the silence. As he looked into my eyes this time it was like de' je' vu, but I know I’ve never met him before. “I just need some rest hope you don't mind me calling you uncle?” I finished with a yawn. He answered me with a warm smile and a deep burly voice began to talk of how the diversity of cultures, its people came together and of how they made a home of compassionate and loving families. Most people of the world had thrown them away simply because of the love being different. They believed in God and kept His commandments…not perfectly because no one is, but always showing love and giving love to all. But the world says you shouldn't mix with race and cultures, that it’s too much confusion. This village, this land and foundation proved them wrong for there was no such thing as what ethnic group and so on and so forth. It was all about loving thy neighbor as thy self. We pulled up to Hanahias' home and this home that had been in her family for generations was immaculate. I was expecting to see her brother come out and greet his sister since he had not seen her in over five years. At least, that’s what Hanahia says. Me, even though my family has their issues, I still stop and have time for them no matter if they want it or not. As her uncle and his helper unloaded all of our belongings from both of the buggies, I couldn’t help myself but to love on the horses a little bit more. The other horse was the exact twin of my horse at home. As uncle Kauleen and his helper went to leave, he stopped and glance at me with some kind of sadness and then it was gone with a beautiful smile. If only uncle was a lot younger…then my friend pulled me into the castle I have been dying to see.

“He has a love and here, men his age didn’t go too far out of their age group for a relationship.” Hanahia stated playfully.

“I was just looking! It’s some very yummy men here. Why don’t you have someone to come home to?” I asked her cautiously. I realized we had never had this conversation before. Hanahia went into the kitchen and started fixing tea and cookies without a response. Now, she knows I’m trying to watch my weight but this chick can bake better that anyone except my mela. For real, the girl was awesome in the kitchen. “So, uncle Kauleen said he will see you for dinner and promises more stories but had to get back to his duties.” Hanahia explained as she took the cookies from the oven. Thinking about him made me feel as if I knew him. Just his smile alone made me know that my journey here is just the beginning…why do I know that smile?

Since it had been a while, Hanahia and I finally settled in with tea and cookies. I asked her where her brother was and why had he not met us at the landing himself, since it had been so long of them not seeing each other.

“Shaleea, I need to tell you the truth before it starts and you will be prepared and know what to do.” Hanahia nervously said.

“Hanahia, what are you talking about and be prepared for what?” I asked, getting another cookie. “Girl, you know I am not good about things popping up on me, so let a sistah know something so no one gets freaked or hurt; you get what I’m saying?”

“Okay, okay, okay....... here goes. Me meeting you was not a coincidence and it was not just our last name that we have in common. As I told you, my brother and I have been searching for you for over twenty something years. I can't give you the long version because now that I am back in the house, it won't be long.”

“Tell me you on something because you couldn’t have been looking for me that long. I know for a fact you’re not even forty years old.... so quit bulljivin me girl.”

“For real. No, no, no....no I am doing it all wrong! Okay, please sit down Shaleea, you need to hear this now and no more bulljivin. First of all, I want to say you are my best friend in all the world and it means everything that it was you chosen for this. My brother is cursed, he is bound to this house by the very woman who should have never been able to step foot in here, after she and her mother were forced to leave. She was the daughter of my mathairs’ supposed-to-be-friend, who I really believe is her sister. The very one who our father pulled out of that wild river in the back of the house and he himself disappeared from. No one truly knows where they came from exactly, as I told you before the odd things that were going on between my mom and her friend Chaitlean were not good at all. You could almost see their hate for each other. I didn't and still to this day don't know what happened between them and they seem to be willing to do anything to take it to their graves. But after the village voted them out on the count of the unrest with my accident at the cavern, things had gotten crazier instead of calming down. She wanted my brother to marry her so she could stay with us but not because she wanted a family, but because she just wanted him. Father and mom quickly put a stop to that. Mathair was worse than father petitioning that they are to be cut off completely from the village. I noticed Shriann started taking long swims up the river late at night which was very dangerous. She was never on time for much of anything and each time she came back, she looked darker. Literally…her skin was changing. All her mom would say was she had gone through a tragic experience and it would take time for her to heal but never go any farther than that. My mathair was scared so she asked dad to make her tell them what had happened. Then one night dad was gone for two days and we searched everywhere for him. We searched on the river and in the forest on the other side of the village where the men hunt and gather herbs but found no sign of him. Then, finally on the third night he was just standing on the back porch as if he had been there the whole time. Mathair was asking all kinds of questions but he just stood there looking out at the river where it flown from the mountain, as if it was about to do something magical. I got mom to give him some time because we weren’t sure what he had been through. My brother led him to his room where he bathe and dressed him for bed. Being persistent, mother wanted a meeting to discuss what could be wrong with father and tried to put it on Chaitlean and Shriann. However, no one had seen them in a while so it was put away and said that it couldn’t have been them. Keenan and I listened as all of sudden, mathair came with all of these stories of being taken and she hadn’t been right when she returned. Shaleea, my mother was one person I would have never considered crazy, but the way she talked and paced as if she was certain of what she was saying was absolutely the truth.” Hanahia said restlessly. “Hanahia, honey you still have yet to tell me what this has to do with me and helping your brother.” I mentioned again. Just then out of nowhere, a slender but dark-skinned woman with a skimpy outfit that revealed too much, walked into the room.

“I tell you, since we were kids, all she ever did was beat around the bush...” The woman interrupted rudely.

“No, you are not supposed to be here. How did you get in? I know I locked the doors after Kauleen left. What do you want? No, forget it, you need to get out now!” Hanahia yelled at the woman standing before us.

“I am not going anywhere. You believe that she of all people can break my spell? You really are desperate. Look at her, she has no power or no strength…not even the blood to do what needs to be done to stop what is going on here.” The woman proclaimed, standing there with her hands on her hips. I looked at her intensely.

“Hold up now, I may not know exactly what’s going on but if you come a little closer, I will show you just how powerless I am. She don’t know me and I am not a pushover so, gone on with that. Hanahia girl, I can care less about this person and what she has to say but she has no clue to who I am either so slow your roll home chick...” I angrily explained out loud.

“Oh Hanahia, what have you brought home to dear brother?!” The woman sarcastically said. I usually don’t let people get to me, but for some reason this heffa made me want to snap her neck.

Before I knew what was happening, Hanahia was screaming stretched out on the floor crying and grabbing at her hair and limbs as if she was in pain everywhere. The crazy woman was now focused on me. I wasn't sure what I was sensing but I knew she couldn't hurt me, but I could tell she wanted to badly, real bad. I was calling to Hanna, my nick name for my friend, to look at me but she was in so much pain that she couldn’t respond to anything I was saying. I could feel the waves of whatever crazy was doing to her and it felt like the dark was pulling at my light within. When I turned to look for her, she was right behind me fuming mad.

“Why?” She said, staring at me in such a crazy state. She was confused and then I realized she was trying to figure out why I wasn't with Hanna on the floor screaming to death.

“Oh,” I said. “You trying to hurt me huh, well I've got news for you…” Just then I grabbed her by the arms and drew her close where she could only look me eye to eye. When I held her gaze Hanna, passed out and the woman started to cry. I asked her in a soft voice why she felt the need to cry after all the hell she was causing. She wanted me to let her go so that she could run away. When she realized that wasn’t happening, she traced us somewhere else in the castle. Now, I didn’t know how I knew that word and what it meant but in my mind, I just knew. I was calm and focused. She wanted to know how, but still I wasn't giving her anything. I couldn’t let it show that I was not sure myself so I simply said “get out.” Then she was gone into thin air…which I wasn’t counting on her leaving me wherever the hell she traced us to. Part of me knew that I was still in the castle but where was the question. In this life be careful what you ask for because just then, this naked guy was running full speed and headed straight at me. Yep, right at me, butt-booty-naked. My feet was saying hall tail but my brain was still in the fog of the feeling of being traced, so I just stood there. As he got closer and saw I was not about run, he stopped and screamed “what was I doing here?”. Then he dropped the illusion and once my brain finally caught up I realized he was calling me Shriann, A.K.A crazy, is what I call her. I let him wear himself down with the screaming, I was married to a screamer and I had no interest in playing this game ever again. So he finally hushed and he just stared at me.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I fell in love with books at 11 years old and I always found myself traveling with each new adventure. As I read books of different lands, cultures and times, I placed myself in each story. As a child I had a very vivid imagination and being as restricted as I was, books were my escape. My dream is to travel and explore many lands and meet new people. My purpose is to share pieces of life throughout the characters pursuit for love, strength and family.

Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Love is still available to those who seek it. Life without companionship can be sad and brutal.
Q. Which writers inspire you?
A.
Dean Koontz, Patricia Cornwell, Yasmin Galenorn
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
The hardest part about writing this book was creating a story for each character. Personalizing each character with their own story and past.

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