Queen of His Heart (The Brides of Mordenne #3) by Jeanette Lynn

Chapter 1

Vivienne




If someone had told me I’d find myself bumping along down the road in a nondescript van with a strange Troll, of all things, behind the wheel, the large headed buffoon grinning like a loon whenever he glanced my way, I’d have called them a damned liar.

If someone had claimed they thought for one second said Troll was actually going to take me home, as he’d promised, I’d have called to schedule the appointment to get their head examined myself. He’d told Penny’s Cyclops he’d take me home. Nowhere did the Troll specify which home, as in whose.

I should be worried, should I not? Yet here I sat, calm as you please on the outside yet nervous on the inside. The joke truly was on me. My nerves had nothing to do with the greyish fleshed, oddly freckled, wide mouthed brute driving me to who the hell knew where. He was a marshmallow compared to the shit I’d silently endured all these years. Expression pinching, my hand lifted, absently rubbing at my nape. The urge to stiffen and lock up rode me but I didn’t wish to be so blatantly obvious in my discomfort. He’d assume it was for the wrong reasons and try to shove me into his lap and pet me again or something.

The Parakind being in the driver’s seat began to hum, the sound deep and gravelly, yet somehow soft and, dare I say it, alluring with its deep cadence and gentle yet happy tune.

My life is so damned strange, I thought, then shook my head. Heck, my life had always been a tad on the weird side, truth be told, but this topped the damned cake. The only sane bit of consistent normalcy I could claim had gone and left me, trading our sisterly awesomeness in for a giant grump of a Cyclops with a surly attitude. Even Mom and Dad had been the eccentric sorts. God, I missed them.

And I still stood by my first idea. I agreed the cat thing was a bust. I was beyond allergic. But llama wrangling—my bum with sister dear by my side, we totally could have rocked that.

Pen and me, we’d had a good thing going, two sisters against the world, a dynamic duo, two happy enough souls cohabiting. Pen was happier now, though, I’d admit. I wished my sister all the happiness in the world. And if that one-eyed male knew what was good for him, he’d make sure she was deliriously so and stayed that way. Or else. That left me feeling in the lurch, painfully so. I wasn’t selfish enough to be bitter about it. Penelope got her happily ever after. I couldn’t be happier for her.

But me, I just felt… lost. Alone.

Hands sliding down the sides of my seat, my fingers curled over the edges to grip the cushiony bottom rhythmically. I was a fidgety thing. I didn’t know how to sit still. I was well aware of my shortcomings. My stubborn streak, temper, and this mouth were not amongst my self-proclaimed failings. If anything in this day and age, they were an enhancement.

Truth be told, smartassery was the only thing I felt like I had left these days. I was holding on by a thread anymore, it felt like.

My fingers tightened, gripping the thick sides of my seat for dear life as I rode along. It kept me from incessantly scrubbing at my neck, a horrible force of habit. I was in this whether I wanted to be or not, I guessed. Could be worse… I could actually be sitting here terrified, wondering what the big bad Troll had in store for me.

I was well versed on Other/Parakind, contrary to what I led others, sister dearest included, to believe. A queasiness settled over me at just how well I was aware of Others, firsthand experience of the worst sort, but I tried to shove it back. Thinking about my crash course into the Para-abnormal world was bound to bring the nightmares back. I already felt like I was living one, no need to daydream about it all, too. I’d have taken my knowledge of them to the grave if it had been possible.

While I’d wanted Pen safe and had thought to save her from all of this, I’d eventually decided, much as I’d disliked it, perhaps her moving away from the hellmouth of Other was a good thing. I’d had no clue she was going to dive head long right into it all. I’d loathed being without her, even if I’d mistakenly thought it meant she was far away from Mordenne, and the distance might be what was best for her.

Pen was my tether. My younger sister grounded me. Things had changed so much, so fast, since she’d left, my head was still spinning with it. Then she’d come back, and even then, after things had gone from bad to worse for me, I’d held my tongue.

He wouldn't have wanted me to tell, or so I’d cowed myself into thinking. He never said much when he came to me. All the same, I lived in silent terror of him.