In some ways, the Necromancer Council is one of the hardest series I've ever written. All of my heroines have a part of me in them (even if its something super small like a food item I like), but Cissy has more than most - and not the good stuff either. This series DOES come with a trigger warning for past abuse. I purposefully chose not to depict it on page (including in flashbacks and dreams) to avoid scenes that would upset readers or me, but Cissy has suffered a lot. If you're worried about the triggers in this series, please reach out with your hard limits and I'll advise you whether you should skip it or not. This is a story I had to tell as part of my own healing journey, but I completely understand that other people might not want to read it. However, I will add that NONE of the abuse or cruelty is committed by the love interest. Darius is sweet and supportive throughout the series.
Copyright 2021 Laura Greenwood
She took a deep breath. "Do you remember a few years ago when there was the sect of necromancers who advocated for supremacy found?"
"That was Alvin."
"He's also Tabby's brother. And my cousin." She waited for that to sink in, wondering what he would make of it.
"Were you involved?"
She bit her lip and nodded. "Neither of us were involved voluntarily. Alvin...he took me from my home and locked me up in his den. I'm still not sure why. I think it was because I voiced opinions he didn't like. He tried to kill Tabby and her mate too."
Darius' eyebrows shot up. "He tried to kill Richard."
"I didn't say he had very good plans," she pointed out. "But yes, that as a particularly stupid one. It was his downfall in the end. He tried to poison him with something that doesn't kill vampires."
Darius snorted, then covered his mouth. "I'm sorry, I don't mean I find it funny. It's just, that's such a rookie mistake. Why didn't he check that it would work first?"
Cissy shrugged. "He wasn't the kind of person who thought things through," she admitted. "He was more of a do-it-first-then-sort-it-out person."
"And he imprisoned you?"
"Is that...what else happened?" A hint of anger flashed through his eyes as he asked, as if he realised there was going to be worse to come.
Cissy rose to her feet, her hands worrying at the knot on the belt of her robe. She knew she needed to show him. That it would be easier to do that than to have to say the words out loud. But she didn't want him to look at her differently, and that felt as if it was an inevitability when he saw what lurked beneath her robe.
With nothing else for it, she untied it and let it drop to the floor. Her gaze followed it, not wanting to see the reaction on Darius' face.
Some of the scars were covered still, but there were enough on her upper chest, arms, and legs for him to get the idea of what had happened.
"Oh, Cissy." He rose to his feet, but didn't touch her. "What did he do?"
She bit her lip.
"These are magic scars," he said when she didn't say anything.
She nodded. "He would cut me with his athame and then do pointless spells." Her voice cracked.
"I'm so sorry."
She shook her head. "That wasn't even the worst bit," she whispered.
"He didn't..." Anger filled her mate's voice.
"Not personally, no." Thankfully. She wasn't sure how she'd have been able to live with the knowledge of her cousin doing that. "But he let others."
A familiar hollow feeling settled inside her as she thought about it. As much as she couldn't avoid the knowledge of what had happened, there was a big part of her that didn't want to accept it.
"I'm sorry," Darius said. "I don't know what to say to make it better." There was so much pain in his voice that she found herself looking up.
His expression betrayed everything he was feeling. Anger, betrayal, hurt.
But to her surprise, none of it was aimed at her. He was feeling those things on her behalf.
"I don't think there's anything you can say," she assured him. "It's just going to take time."
"And I've been rushing you." Horror filled his eyes.
She reached out and touched his chest gently. "No, you haven't. You've been perfect. I..." Her words stuck in her throat. She coughed to clear it, trying not to let the tears fall. Not because she wanted to keep them in, but more because she knew that once they started, there wouldn't be much point in her trying to talk through them.
"Why don't we sit back down," he whispered.
She nodded, perching on the sofa next to her. She wanted to sit closer. To let him put his arm around her and offer comfort. But she wasn't sure how to do that anymore. She'd known she was broken from the moment she'd left Alvin's den, but this was throwing into light just how much.
"You're being so patient," she said.
"I kissed you."
"I wanted that," she countered. "And it wasn't like I did anything to stop it." A small smile played at her lips at the memory, despite what they were talking about.
He frowned. "I'm confused about the right way to act around you so that I can give you enough time and space."
She sighed. "Honestly, so am I. I've never been through something like this. I don't know what the best way to heal myself is, or how to make it all better. But I do know that I like being with you. And I definitely liked kissing you. I'm just...I'm not sure I'm ready for more."
A small part of her hated that was the case, but knew she couldn't change it. Just meeting her fated mate wasn't going to be enough to remove the damage and hurt that others had caused. But maybe he would give her a reason and the safe space to properly start to heal.
"It's okay," he said softly. "I know this can't be easy. But I'm not going anywhere. It doesn't matter if it takes you a minute, a month, or a year. It doesn't even matter if you need forever to feel like you can do more. I'm here, and I'm staying. I'm not interested in you because of sex."
"But because the bond says you should be," she pointed out.
"I'd be interested even without the bond."
She snorted. "You can't possibly know that."
"Can't I? I already know that I like smart, independent, and determined women. You're exactly my type."
She raised an eyebrow. "And you've had a lot of time to work that out?"
"Not really. I've dated a bit, but not an extensive amount. I've always been holding out for something special," he responded.
"Ah, you're one of those."
"That depends what you mean by that," he prompted.
"You're one of the people that found out about fated mates and nothing else could possibly hold a candle to how that person would make you feel."
"That's kind of the point," he said. "But I suppose I am. I don't think the universe matches up mates without taking them into consideration, and what they need. Have you ever met mates who don't complement one another?"
Urban Fantasy Romance, Complete Series
An urban fantasy series that follows Narcissa (Cissy) as she rebuilds the Necromancer Council, only to have the worst possible thing come to pass. Part of The Paranormal Council Universe.
Heat Level: Medium - Relationship Type: m/f - Build: Medium - Point of View Character: Single third person POV, same throughout books - Cliffhangers: Yes (complete series) - Tense: Past
Please note: The Necromancer Council series does deal with issues surrounding historic abuse of the main character. There are no vivid descriptions of what happened to her on page as it is not the intention to trigger. The series focuses on Cissy healing from the pain caused to her. If you have any concerns about reading the series and specific triggers you may have, please reach out. You can also read more on the background here.