David watched Liv saunter out of the auditorium. Her perfume lingered and the sway of her hips sparked a visceral reaction in his loins. He pinched the bridge of his nose between finger and thumb. It was a complex set of emotions coursing through him. When he’d been forced to leave Hickoryville and marry Margot, losing Liv had crushed him. But his was a duty that could not be forsaken. Not with so much at stake. He and Margot had a great deal of respect for each other. Mazie’s birth had given them something to love, together. Margot had been a strong woman and her death, so unnecessary, would be avenged. But first they had to survive the coming battle. When they’d learned the truth about Liv, about who she really was, it was a sucker-punch. He could have stayed and married the woman who owned his heart. But they hadn’t known then. No one had.
He shook his head and reminded himself, that was behind them. It was time to move forward. Besides, if he hadn’t married Margot, there would be no Mazie. And he couldn’t imagine life without his daughter.
“Dad, come on! We don’t want to be late for dinner.”
“Easy, girl. The show’s not even over yet.”
“Yeah, but Mrs. Buffenbarger is going to be there. What if she gets there first?”
He reached down and ruffled her auburn curls. “I told her six o’clock. Don’t you want to stay and see who wins?”
“Oh, yeah. Okay, but as soon as it’s over we need to hurry.” She bounced on her toes the way only a six year old can.
David tried to pay attention but his mind kept straying to the coming storm. They had six days. He had to not only convince Olivia to trust him, together they had to waken her dormant powers. Patience had never been his strong point. As much as he wanted to simply corner her someplace and explain everything, he knew he had to tread carefully.
She was angry at him and she had reason to be. Back then, when he left Hickoryville, he couldn’t tell her the truth. Now, their lives depended upon it.
But her anger could be deadly. If her powers erupted prematurely she could easily kill them. She had to learn how to control the incredible energy that coursed through her.
He blew out a slow breath. Everything was changing. They could have it all, including each other, or they could die trying. Dinner tonight was good. It was progress. Six days.
“Dad, pay attention.” Mazie tugged on his shirt sleeve.
“They’re announcing the winners.”
Mazie didn’t place but he was proud of her for trying. She seemed to be as well. “Are you ready for that dinner now?”
“Yay!” She ran ahead of him and out the door of the auditorium.
David was nearly to the double doors when he sensed it. He fought to control the rising panic. It wasn’t possible. Too soon. He bolted forward and pushed his way through the suddenly thick crowd. “Mazie!”
Parents and kids pushed in front of him. Their faces stoic, unresponsive. What the hell was going on? Everyone in the auditorium pressed around him as he struggled.
“Mazie!” His heart pounded as he pushed his way through one immobile body after another. He was almost to the door when a blinding flash of light erupted outside. “No!”
Everyone snapped out of their stupor at the same time. He pressed past the confused crowd and ran out into the commons. Mazie was gone and he knew who had her. Pain clenched his heart as he stared into the black night sky. Not Mazie. David ran for his car. He had to get to Liv.