Fin held on and quickly pulled her into his arms. The tears that threatened before welled and trickled down her cheeks. She needed her son. Had to get back to him.
“Lora is waiting for you both.”
Selma’s words registered. Liz twisted out of Fin’s embrace. “W-what?”
“Lora is waiting.”
“I’ve had a vision.”
Simon shot up from his reclined position next to Tara and shouted out, “Was it about my mom and Fin?”
Lora’s dark eyes leveled to him and filled with sorrow. “No, Simon.”
“Are you sure—?”
Ian waved a large hand his way and halted his questions. “What did you see?” he asked his wife.
Simon sat back, but listened to every word. The days started to bleed together, and he felt as if he was falling into a pit of hell. His mother and Fin were gone because of him. If he’d not shifted into a wolf and caused his mother to be so angry at him, she and Fin wouldn’t have been isolated when they disappeared, and maybe they wouldn’t have left at all. “We need to restore calm among the people here.”
“To do that, we need to stay.”
Simon had overheard several conversations and debate over the family leaving and returning to the safety of their home. The only reason they’d stayed as long as they had was in hope that his mom and Fin would somehow return. Hearing the Ancients’
desire to keep the MacCoinnichs where they were gave him some measure of relief.
“We must stay.”
Myra spoke up. “How are we to restore calm?
The people are at arms over the atrocities Grainna spread among them.”
“The poison of her magic has touched everyone here,” Duncan added.
“If we hold any hope in defeating Grainna, we will do so here, with these people. Alone we will fail.”
Lora’s words hung in the air.
“Since Grainna’s black magic penetrated the people, maybe we could counter that with spell of our own,” Amber offered. Simon caught her gaze but shifted it quickly to Lora.
“Did you speak to one of the Ancients?” he asked.
“I only listen to the Ancients, Simon.”
“Why? When Elise came to us before we spoke to her, asked her questions.” Simon’s heart fluttered in his chest. He could have sworn he’d felt him mother earlier in the day. He searched their small camp for her after that, hoping to find her.
“I listen to their guidance and seek to understand their messages.”
“Why not ask where my mom is? Why not find out if she’s coming back?” He hated the tears stinging his eyes and wished he could fight them off before any of the men in the room saw them.
“You can’t question the Ancients,” Cian clipped.
“Why not?” He dragged his hand over his eyes to brush away the tears.
“It isn’t done.”
“I would have asked, if the Ancients came to me.” Cian rolled his eyes. “You need to grow up, Simon.”
Cian’s harsh words didn’t completely surprise him. “Cian,” Lora scolded him. “Simon wants answers, we all do.”
“Crying about Liz and Fin being gone won’t bring them back.”
A hush went over the room and all eyes sprung between Cian and Simon.
“You’re just mad at me because I interrupted you and Tatiana earlier.”
Cian’s jaw tightened, his eyes turned to hard stones. Simon scrambled to his feet and forced any more tears away.
“Who is this?” Ian asked.
Simon’s need to get back at Cian forced the next words out of his mouth. “Cian’s girlfriend.”
“Is there a girl you’ve met?”
When the youngest MacCoinnich son didn’t offer any explanation, Simon went on. “Yes, he has. And something isn’t right about her.”
Cian fisted his palm and stepped toward him.
Simon knew he was going to be hit. A part of him wanted to hide behind his aunt, but another part made him step toward Cian and stick out his chin. Todd stepped between the two of them before any arm was raised to strike. “Okay you two, knock it off.”
“You’re jealous,” Cian told him.
“Of what? She isn’t even all that pretty, and something about her isn’t right,” he taunted.
Cian pushed his way around Todd and managed to shove Simon back two feet. Duncan restrained Cian’s arms while Todd placed a calming hand on Simon’s chest.
“You’re a child. What do you know about anything?”
“More than you.”
“You don’t belong—”
“Enough!” Ian shouted, stopping them both. “We have real enemies to defeat. We do not need the two of you at arms with each other.”
When Simon looked beyond Cian’s hateful glare, he realized that everyone stared at Cian. Even Tara’s sorrowful expression didn’t shift to his. Lora placed a hand on Cian’s shoulder, and Duncan patted his back.
He didn’t belong. Not really. Without his mother or Fin around, Simon didn’t feel connected as he once did. Now that Cian divided his attention with his girlfriend, Simon often felt alone.
“I think you should apologize to Cian, Simon.”
Tara told him. “We are all missing Lizzy and Fin, but it isn’t right for you to take your hurt out on him.”
The heat in the tent crushed in on him with the weight of everyone’s stare. He wasn’t sorry. Didn’t want to apologize for anything.
He caught Amber’s eye before she turned away.
He couldn’t do it.
Simon rushed from the tent and didn’t stop running until he met Logan who stood guard by the mouth of the forest.
“Where are ye going this late, lad?”
Simon didn’t care. He just didn’t want to be anywhere near anyone.
“I’ve got to pee,” he said the first thing he thought of.
Logan laughed. “Well then, be quick about it and don’t go in far.”
Simon sprinted toward the darkness of the forest until he heard Logan call out to him. “’Tis far enough.”
Turning to the other man’s voice, Simon stared past him to the torch that lit up the space beside the MacCoinnich’s tent. Amber was the only one walking toward him.
“Hurry up, lad.”
Simon turned in a full circle, knowing he had nowhere to run. He’d be hungry and cold if he stayed away from the MacCoinnichs for long.
Then again…maybe not.