Brides of the Kindred

By: Evangeline Anderson

Chapter One



“Bad dreams again last night?”

Olivia Waterhouse jerked at the sound of her twin sister’s voice and then went back to staring at the kitchen table. “Uh, not so much,” she lied and tried to smile.

“C’mon, Liv, give. It’s me, your womb mate—remember?” Sophia sat down across from her and patted her hand gently. No one could ever decide if the Waterhouse twins were fraternal or identical. Liv had honey blonde hair with grey eyes and Sophia had a rich, chestnut mane with pale green eyes but their facial features were exactly the same. They had the same build too, both were five-seven and slender with hourglass curves. More than just twins, they were also best friends, which was why it made Liv uncomfortable to lie to her sister. But she couldn’t help it—the things she’d seen last night didn’t bear repeating.

“Really,” she said, not meeting her sister’s eyes. “I’m fine. I just had a restless night—that’s all.”

The truth was the dreams she’d been having for the past half year about the muscular stranger with glowing, amber-gold eyes had become progressively more disturbing. He was her nighttime visitor every time she closed her eyes. Liv had even named him—inside her head she called him “the dark man.”

For the longest time she’d dreamed of him someplace filled with shadows—someplace where despair was an almost palpable thing. Sometimes he was chained to the wall, his head bowed as if in exhaustion. Other times were worse. Liv had seen him hooked to some kind of machine, wires embedded in his dusky tan skin like malignant snakes feeding off him. On an inverted dome, as big as an IMAX screen above his head, images flashed—pictures of strange worlds she never could have imagined. One seemed to be all ice and snow, another a lush tropical jungle where the vegetation was mostly blue instead of green. And yet another seemed to be a world that was mostly a clear, golden ocean with tiny rocky islands dotted here and there.

When she dreamed of the pictures of other worlds flashing across the enormous screen, Liv always got the idea that they were somehow drawn from the memories of the dark man. And there was pain—so much pain, both physical and emotional. He was hurting and she was powerless to help him. She didn’t even know him but somehow his agony affected her deeply. She woke up with tears in her eyes most mornings, her heart clenched like a fist in her chest, his name—a name she could never quite recall—trembling on her lips.

Liv tried to tell herself her dreams were just that—only dreams. Lots of people had reoccurring dreams. Why her brain should choose to show her the same thing night after night was a mystery but it was also no big deal. And she only felt for the mysterious dark man because that was the kind of person she was. She’d just finished nursing school a few weeks ago and was taking some time off before she started her new job in the pediatric unit at Tampa General. She could be tough when she had to but by nature she was a nurturing person. Otherwise she wouldn’t care how this man, this dream stranger, was hurting. Wouldn’t care about the pain she saw in his unusual amber eyes.

Then, two or three nights ago, the dreams had changed. When she finally let herself sleep, she saw the man as usual but he was free. Unchained and out of the shadowy place where his only emotions had been despair and agony.

The change in her depressing dream should have elated Liv but she found herself frightened instead. Because in her new dreams the huge man with black hair and golden eyes was looking for someone—searching tirelessly. And somehow she knew that the person he was searching for was her.

Then last night, he’d found her. Liv still remembered sitting bolt upright in bed at four in the morning, her hand pressed between her breasts as if to still her pounding heart. The scene in the dream had showed the mysterious dark man staring right into her eyes and he’s spoken only one word.

“Mine.”

“What?” Sophia looked at her in concern and Liv realized she’d quoted her dream aloud.

“Nothing. What’s for breakfast?” It was a Saturday morning—the day officially decreed as off the diet and anything goes. Liv tried to curb herself the rest of the week—her curvy figure was already a lot more hippy than she liked—but on Saturday she let herself off the leash.

“How about pancakes? Kat’s coming over and bringing some blueberries from that organic farmer’s market on Dunn. Sound good?”

“Mmm.” Liv nodded, trying to look enthusiastic and failing miserably if the expression on her twin’s face was any indication.

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