Whiskey & Witches Sampler
The pain was unexpected.
The movement of Roisin’s chest was compressed by the immovable part of the vehicle’s framework that caged her. Taking anything other than a partial, panting breath was impossible.
She wanted to call out to her son, but she couldn’t. Speaking required more air than she could muster with a single inhale. Even had she been able, the ability to draw in any oxygen was hindered by the sudden smoke filling the cab of their Rover. She knew real fear then. Smoke meant fire. It wasn’t just the compression of the metal or the thickening tendrils of smoke making breathing difficult; it was the blind panic beginning to set in.
Her beautiful golden boy. She could hear him crying in the back, and every fiber of her being needed to get to him, but she couldn’t. Her magic was gone, and without it, there was no prying herself out of the tangled metal.
His terrified screams rose to a crescendo, becoming more frantic with each passing second. Then, they were no more. She cried out to him, but the sound was an aborted gurgle, and blood bubbled up from her lungs and into her mouth.
Her heart stopped beating.
The physical agony eased with her death, but the anxiety for her son clung to her and wouldn’t let her cross to the Otherworld.
She couldn’t leave him, not her precious son. He needed his mam.
Her heart thudded once. Stopped. Then started again, the beat thready and irregular. Barely there, like her spirit, but tenacious all the same. She was alive, and she’d stay that way for as long as it took to make sure her son was safe.
Brilliant white-gold light filled the vehicle and felt like it seared her retinas behind her closed lids. The entire right side of her face was aflame, and the initial stinging turned into a raging fire. She gasped and immediately regretted the movement as another bubble of blood filled her mouth.
“Don’t move, love. I’ve got you.”
Whoever he was, his was the voice of an angel. Or perhaps a god because she wasn’t sure angels existed in the truest sense of the word. Gods did, though. And Fae. She definitely believed in the Fae, those mischievous feckers.
The metal was sheered away, and Roisin had a vague sense of a giant looming above her.
The light was still too great for her to open her eyes, but she turned her face toward the sound of his sucked-in breath. She wanted to speak. Wanted to ask him what was bad enough to cause that type of reaction. But she suspected the wreckage of her body was a gruesome sight.
“Aeden?” she croaked.
“He’s safe, never you fear. I’ll not let anything happen to him, love.”
She managed a hint of a nod.
“Meg,” she whispered past suddenly dry lips. She hadn’t heard her sister speak or move, and Roisin feared the worst.
“It’s okay, Meg. I’ve got you.”
“Sister…” The metallic taste of her blood mixed with the burn of bile, and she swallowed hard as another wave of fierce pain washed over her.
Gentle fingers stroked the hair back from her face. “I’m sorry,” he said gruffly.
The salty sting of tears burned the open, raw wounds of her face.
Somehow, she’d already known that her larger-than-life, sassy sister who held the world in the palm of her hand was dead. Her rebellious sister who only truly wanted the one thing she could never have: Carrick. Roisin’s beloved husband.
“I’m not a healer, but I can pause the internal bleeding until I get you to hospital for the help you need.”
She opened her eyes and stared into the silvery depths of her savior. No longer able to manage speech or movement, feeling her life force fading, she blinked.
“I’m going to need you to hang in there and not die on my watch, Meg.”
His hand burned where it rested over her heart, but she felt the suffocating fluid filling her chest cavity recede, and her breathing was marginally easier. Turning her head away from his too-intense stare, her gaze touched on her son lying by the side of the road.
Her panic returned, and she feebly shoved at the thick, muscled chest holding her. She’d been unaware of speaking, but the gentle giant holding her was quick to ease her fear.
“I’ve put him to sleep. He’s not hurt but for a little smoke inhalation. The fire’s out now, and he’s safe.” He touched her hand. “If you know what I am, you know what I can do, Meg. I’m going to use my magic to probe your spine for injuries, and I need you to stay perfectly still for me. You can do that, yeah?”
She didn’t have the strength to move or speak, so she simply blinked her acknowledgment, feeling suddenly detached from it all.
A pulse of power, just shy of an electrical zap, slowly traveled from the base of her skull to her tailbone, hesitating around the area of her low back as if it were exploring that area.
“Nothing severe, but I think you have a few fractures, love. I need to get you out of this bloody mess, which means you’re going to experience a bit more pain.”
She opened her mouth to protest but closed it again as blood trickled out in place of her words.
“I’ve no choice, Meg. The whole thing could blow.”
With great care, he used his magic and large, gentle hands to ease her out of the wreckage, then strode with her to where Aeden was curled up. Bending, he used the hand supporting her legs to touch the crown of her son’s head. Roisin’s cells warmed, starting with the nucleus and burning outward, heating her entire body as he teleported them away from the crash site.
The sounds of an ambulance in the distance and of nearby shouting indicated they’d arrived at hospital.
As the blackness crowded the edges of her consciousness, she heard her rescuer’s smooth, confident tone as he explained the situation to another and handed her off to the medical personnel. She had enough presence of mind to grasp his hand and squeeze—the only thanks she could manage.
“Aeden is safe,” he murmured. “We’ll contact his da. Rest now, love.”
And so she did.