FOREVER PART II - ROYAL MAGES SERIES
GUARDIAN OF MONSTERS
Forever Part II is the final book in the Royal Mages trilogy.
A deadly and forbidden potion has back fired badly on Danielle’s life where she forgets Marick and her life as the wife of a royal mage.
She is stuck with a terrifying memory fed to her and finds herself living in a dark and unforgiving world.
Is her love for Marick strong enough to find him again? and what secrets is she going to unvail this time?
In this exciting, fast paced, third part to the Royal Mages trilogy by USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Ping, prepare for a forbidden romance like no other.
“So how do you feel with your mother raising your daughter, Danielle?” Gaston, my new psychiatrist, number thirteen to be exact, asked me the same question all my psychiatrists has asked. I lounged on the opposite chair him in his modern-day office, located in Paris.
“You know how I feel.” I answered the same as I always do.
“No, I don’t really.”
I sighed. Fine, whatever. I didn’t care anymore. I looked at him. “What would you do if you were raped, over and over, by a monster and ended up having his child? Would you raise that child?” I asked.
“Why didn’t you abort?”
I looked at him and shrugged.
Silence lingered a few seconds between us.
“You don’t remember a thing, Danielle. All the victims who were with you in that basement remembered something, they faced them together with their psychiatrists, and they moved on. You simply refuse to remember. No one can help you if you do not want to open up.”
“I don’t remember! It’s got nothing to do with me not opening up.”
“It’s been almost ten years, Danielle. Not a flicker of a memory, not one second of your time with Brolin and his wife haunts you?”
Tears welled up in my eyes. The memories were haunting me, but they were not in the form of memories. They were in the form of what my mind conjured up from what the other victims say in their books and in the media of what Brolin did to them. Not one of us knew about the other. We were all secluded in our own piece of hell. Or so that’s what the others told me in group sessions. I was the only one who remembered just darkness. A pit of black ink that made me feel like I was drowning each day.
My mind refused to let me remember what that monster did to me. “You really think I don’t want to remember.” I shook my head. “I can’t. I’m trying. I read what happened to Stacy because she gave up, I read how she slit her wrists and bled out. I didn’t even know she was with me in that house, because there was nothing but the darkness in there.” I slammed the temple of my head as tears spilled over my cheeks. I hoped he was finally getting that this wasn’t me not wanting to remember. This was me that cannot remember.
Gaston sighed and rested his chin in the palm of his hand, leaning on the railing of his chair with his elbow. I hated it when my doctors went quiet—when they all decided that I was a lost cause.
“How is Eva doing?”
“Good.” I sighed. “She’s a beautiful girl. Her birthday is coming up—she’ll be nine. My mom is getting ready to celebrate it.”
“Are you going?”
“She still thinks you’re her sister.”
I nodded. But I didn’t know that anymore. Lately, she been giving me a lot of hugs, hugs I didn’t know how to handle. It was as if she knew. She knew my secret. My mother didn’t tell me that she knew—it was something I felt.
“How do you feel about that?”
“How would you feel about that. Knowing what her father was capable off. I’m dreading to think that she would become like him too.”
“Danielle, humans make monsters. They are not born monsters.”
“Unless she is a psychopath just like her father, Gaston.” He was the only shrink that refused to let me call him doctor.
“Then have her tested, see if she carries the gene.”
“You know my mother wouldn’t allow it. She said she will get her tested when signs show.”
“How is that thing with your mother?”
“She’s very secretive. She will only conduct seances when Eva is at school or late at night when Eva is in bed. I don’t like it, but after she discovered those books, she now truly believes that her great-great-great-grandmother was a witch and that her gift only came later in life. There is no way to change her mind about that.” Not long after my own grandmother died, Mom found boxes and boxes of books in the basements filled with spells and pictures of her ancestors. Why grandma Evangeline didn’t burn them, I would never know. She was a Christian who walked around with the Bible under her arm, condemning everything in front of her that was bad.
That picture of my great-great-great-great-grandfather and grandmother my mother found in one of the journals still send a shiver up my spine every time I see the old sepia photograph.
My ancestors’ eyes were cold, sad. For all I knew, they could’ve been witches. But I didn’t believe in that.
My mother, on the other hand, has been obsessed the past few years with finding more about her ancestors now that she had pictures and journals to work through.
“Our time is up, Danielle. How do you sleep?” He took out a subscription pad.
“Not good, but it’s not what you think. I’m trying to remember something, one simple thing. But I can’t. I couldn’t on the first day, and I’m just as blocked today as I was then.”
“Okay, let’s leave the homework then for the next month or so. I still think hypnosis is the best…”
I shook my head. I didn’t like that idea at all.
“Danielle, please, I can help you.”
“I don’t want hypnosis. Maybe this is my mind protecting me from what truly happened Gaston. What if the shit that I went through is far worse than you think and I end up in an asylum? Some things a better left alone. Please, no hypnosis.”
“Okay,” he gave that low deep sigh, a frustrated sigh. My psychiatrics usually gave it when they reached another dead end.
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t get myself to go through with it. I think it was more of a trust issue than anything else.
“Comes and goes. It’s been better lately.”
He scribbled on the prescription pad and handed me the paper after he tore it off from his notebook.
He gave me a soft, compassionate smile. Frustration danced in his eyes, making him look tired.
“I’m sorry, Gaston.”
“Don’t apologize, Danny, we’ll find a breakthrough when the right time comes.”
I took the prescription and left.
I was a regular. They sometimes had to see me twice a week as I also have paranoia issues.
I greeted the receptionist, Ida, with her round face and her short, newly colored auburn hair.
In the past year and a half that I’ve seen Gaston, she had more hair changes than all my shoes I’ve ever owned.
“See you next week, Danielle.”
“See you, Ida.” I grinned at her and headed out the door for my Clio parked in their parking lot.
I climbed in and sat with my head against the back of the seat.
Sometimes I feel that my past wasn’t my past. It was the reason why I couldn’t abort Eva when we discovered I was pregnant. The doctor told me I gave birth to another child before Eva, and I couldn’t remember a thing about the pregnancy or the child.
I got no nightmares of my time with Brolin, no memories or seconds of anything devastating that happened during the time I was missing. I had been in that basement so long, and real evil things were done to me, that—this had to be true—my mind refused to remember it. A coping mechanism.
And with Gaston wanting to dig, it scared me to death. It was better left alone than dealing with more shit.
I switched on the car and took it for its next service before my shift at the cafe where I’ve been working as a waitress the past eight years. I need to check in with my mother soon. Make sure that Eva had everything she needed.
My heart sometimes felt for her. Why didn’t I abort her? Why give her a life where she could possibly become a monster just like her father?
But I couldn’t at the time. I couldn’t explain it. It felt wrong, even with all the wrong that was piled on me. I just couldn’t. Maybe it was because of my grandmother and her constantly condemnation that played in my head when I was in that room the day I wanted to go through with it.
But something led me out of there. It saved her life, and I truly had no idea how I felt about it.
A part of me was grateful, but she was also a constant reminder of what had happened to me. It was the only reason I could think of as to why I was stuck—why I couldn’t move forward in life.
I dropped off my Clio, signed a few papers, and decided to take the bus instead. It was cheaper than the Uber anyway.
I took a walk down the Seine toward the bus stop and took in Paris’s beauty.
I remembered leaving for the US, and the first few months in, but I had no idea what happened after that. My mother put a lot of that time together for me. She said I met someone but never really spoke about him. I was so secretive, and I wondered if that wasn’t the beginning of my downfall.
Why didn’t I tell my mother about him? Did he ask me not to, or maybe he wasn’t that important to begin with?
I couldn’t even remember him, and it couldn’t have been so wonderful because when I came back, it was when it happened, or that is what was discovered during all the investigations.
Brolin had me for five years. My mother once told me that during that time, she felt as if she was going insane not knowing where I was.
I just had my twenty-second birthday, now going on thirty-seven. I felt so old, and sometimes it felt as if I couldn’t breathe.
“Danny.” I heard my name and looked up.
A man with a leather jacket, scruffy jeans, and a faded blue T-shirt looked at me as if he saw a ghost. His dark, roughed up hair was oily, and he sent a few shivers up my spine.
“I thought you were dead.”
I shook my head, squinted. “I’m sorry, I don’t know you,” I said and walked away.
I had no idea who that man was.
“It’s me, Sebastian,” he pulled me back by the arm. “How is this possible?”
I pulled out my arm hard. “You have the wrong person. I don’t know you.”
“No, you are Danielle.”
“I said leave me alone,” I yelled again and ran toward the bus stop. By the time I reached the bus stop, my heart was beating fast, and I was so glad to find that the man, Sebastian or whatever he said his name was, didn’t follow. I turned around and he was simply gone.
My paranoia jumped in again. I opened my bag and found the plastic container that carried my pills. I swallowed two, followed by bottled water.
The bus finally arrived, and I climbed on.
I chose a seat way in the back and rested my head on the window.
The bus headed in the direction of the cafe where I had to take the afternoon and evening shift.
The bus drove past the guy in his leather jacket. At that second, he looked straight at me.
Our eyes locked for a few seconds, and then I looked down at my lap.
How on earth does he know my name, and why did he say that he thought I died?
My shift ended around eight. I made a few euros for the day. Bianca took me home. I told her about my encounter with the dark hair stranger that still send shivers up my spine. She refused to let me take the bus. She kept babbling about her boyfriend, Theo, and whether she should dump his ass or not as we reached my small apartment.
I asked her if she wanted to come up for coffee, but Bianca said she needs to get going. Theo was waiting for her, which I was thankful for as I wasn’t really in the mood for company.
Safe in my apartment, the evening ritual started.
I fed Noir, my black cat. I emptied a can of tuna and poured a bit of cat cream, one of each into two separate bowls, and put it on the counter.
Noir dug in. The cat wasn’t a normal cat—he hardly meowed. But he was a distraction, a companion, and probably the only thing in this world I trusted.
I poured in a glass of red wine for myself and tried not to force my mind to think about anything that happened ten years ago. It was a change in my routine, and I wasn’t so great in that department either.
I stood on the small balcony and struggle to clear my mind. However, I did think of something, the incident with the stranger.
He clearly knew me, but how? Was he part of Brolin’s family? Part of that time in my life?
Still he didn’t ring a bell, not one bit of comfort that I remembered something.
I walked back to the kitchen and reached for my anxiety pills again as I could feel the paranoia start to build up.
Phoning my mom was out of the question. She was going to beg to go to the police and report it. But what would I tell them? The officer that worked on my case probably retired a long time ago.
I popped two pills and downed it with a few gulps of wine as my heart started to beat slower, toward its own pace.
After I made sure that the doors were locked, I picked up Noir in one hand and went to the bathroom with my glass of wine in the other hand.
I took a long bath and drifted away.
Darkness played behind my closed eyelids. A deep empty black pit. The kind that wants to drown me. I felt the evil in that pit of darkness and woke up with a start. Water splash around the edges of the bath.
The quietness of the apartment filled my ears before the nighttime buzz that was taking place outside.
A deep sigh left my lips as I closed my eyes and tried to calm my beating heart again.
I told Gaston about the darkness, and he tried to work with that. He tried to lure me deeper into it, but I couldn’t. A full-on panic attack always followed.
I couldn’t face what happened, just as I couldn’t face that dark pit.
But I did think about the stranger again, Sebastian as he introduced himself.
What did he mean he thought I was dead?