THERE ARE MONSTERS IN THIS WORLD, I'VE LEARNED, AND SOMETIMES I HAVE FALLEN PREY TO THEM AND SOMETIMES I HAVE BEEN ONE…
When Lilabet last saw Iago, they were ten years old. Whisked off to America by his father in a desperate attempt to escape the dark superstitions of Wales, Iago’s letters have been the single thing to connect them. Now, fourteen years have passed and Iago has asked Lilabet to be his bride.
Eager to begin a modern life in an exciting new land with the man she has loved for all her days, Lilabet is about to discover that black magic may find a home on any shore. Three red-haired witches have been playing a deadly game of revenge with Iago and if she wants to have a life with him, Lilabet will first have to fight the dark forces that have claimed her young husband for their own.
13 June 1897
It’s dangerous for me to keep going to him but Iago says the only time his head is clear is when we’re together. I’ve explained to him what Bethan is doing; calling him to her, making him hurt himself. I’ve told him to listen for my voice instead whenever he hears Bethan intruding in his thoughts. If we can work together to overcome what she’s doing, I think he’ll be able to leave.
1 July 1897
Today Iago came running like his hair was on fire and all because of me. Bethan made me call him. ‘Tell him to bang his head against that wall,' she instructed.
His beautiful cheeks are still scratched from yesterday when she commanded he tear off his face. I didn’t want to see him bang his head on the wall but I kept thinking about what she did to Ceiro that last day and I didn’t want to make her any angrier than she already was. I spoke inside his sweet trusting head and he hammered his skull until blood poured in his eyes. ‘That’s wonderful, Meriel. What a good little witch you’ve turned out to be. He’ll do anything for you, won’t he?’
Poor Iago. He was still hitting his head on the bricks. ‘I’ve got a better idea,’ Bethan said. ‘Why don’t you ask him to show Gwendraith and me what you’ve been doing to him every night?’
‘Stop it!’ I said, fed up to my core. ‘This has gone far enough. We need to let him go.’
Bethan grabbed him by the hair to stop his thrashing. ‘Show me what Meriel does to you when you’re alone, Boy’ she said. When I tried to block her voice, Gwendraith put my head in a bucket and held me under water. By the time she let me up, he was kissing Bethan. She made me watch this for several moments before shoving him away. Her smile was covered with his blood. ‘I want you to punch my sister in the head as hard you can now, Boy.”
He didn’t hesitate. The first blow struck me across the jaw. The second, crunched my ear. Between the pounding of his fists, Bethan pounded me too. ‘How dare you take him for yourself!’ she said. ‘He belongs to all of us!’
She gave him the ax. ‘Kill her.’
‘No Bethan!’ Gweny said.
I looked at my sister who I loved. I’d followed her blindly, I loved her so. I waited for her to put an end to all of this. Iago lifted the ax and she folded her arms.
Luckily, he lost his balance and his aim was bad. I saw the tops of the fingers on my left hand come off. They scattered across the floor between us and there was a lot of blood, but I didn’t feel it.
Iago staggered to his feet and we all looked at Bethan, expectantly. Bethan kicked the tip of my little finger across the room. ‘Lock her in the barn, Gwendraith.’
About Carol:Carole is the author of the book The Whisper Jar, 24 short stories, and one novella. She lives in the St. Louis area with one mighty fine husband, two wonderful kids, and a huge collection of aprons.
Visit her at carolelanham.com, horrorhomemaker.com, and Morrigan Books
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