Release day for Love Never-Ending! In honor of the release of book five of the Mystic Valley series (they can be read in any order... Really!) I'm posting an excerpt. In this excerpt Panther and Llynx have been punished for stealing a photograph. Their punishment ruins some very special plans Panther had for the Midsummer Gathering. Understandably enough, he isn't happy with Llynx.
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In the boys’ bedroom, Panther flung his body facedown on the bed, stunned at the total ruin of his plans. Hot silent tears soaked into his pillow while he wept for the loss of his opportunity to compete. Every morning he had met Falcon on the practice field and worked harder than he had ever worked in his short life to meet Falcon’s challenges. Now it was all for nothing.
Llynx scowled at Panther. “What are you crying for? Who wants to go to the stupid Midsummer Gathering, anyway?”
Panther lunged from the bed and grabbed Llynx by his shoulders, shaking him in a wild rage. “I do!” he shouted. “I was going to compete in the warriors’ games and you ruined it! You and your stupid photograph!” Abruptly, he flung Llynx away from him, sending him stumbling across the room to end in a heap under the window. “Stupid! Why do you have to always get us into trouble?” He stomped back to the bed and curled up on it, facing the wall.
Under the window, Llynx didn’t stir until he was sure that Panther had moved away. Very slowly, he sat up, biting back a scream when he put pressure on his arm. Lightning zipped up the arm to his shoulder and just for a few moments, things went dark around him. Stunned at Panther’s incredible rage, Llynx cradled his arm against his chest while he thought about what Panther had said. He had never seen Panther angry before. Never. Llynx cringed at the thought that he had driven his gentle older brother to such anger. Shame warred with indignation. He should have told Arturo at once that Panther wasn’t with him when he stole the photo. Pain pulsed and burned up his arm. But Panther shouldn’t have thrown him across the room, either! he thought indignantly.
He tried to work up a good mad at Panther. His arm hurt too badly for him to care about how it happened. He needed Llyon and he wasn’t sure he could find him without passing out. One thing he didn’t want to do, though. He wasn’t going to ask Panther for help. With typical bullheadedness, Llynx was determined to set things right all by himself.
It took a few minutes but he was upright at last and headed for the door when Panther came off the bed in a rush. “No! You’re not leaving this room! For once, you’re going to do what you’re supposed to do!” When he grabbed Llynx’s arm, Llynx crumpled to the floor in a merciful faint, leaving Panther to stare at him in horror. Without a thought, Panther sent out a silent scream for his older brother. Llyon! Help!
Llyon rushed down the hall from Trav’s room where he had just completed his healing for the day. Arturo was hard on his heels, followed more slowly by Bishop.
They burst into the boys’ room.
Immediately, Llyon went to Llynx, his sharp eyes noting the arm, already swelling with a hint of the bruising to come. A swift examination of the arm confirmed his initial guess. His eyes met Arturo’s. “Broken,” he said curtly. “We need to get him to bed.”
“I’ll do it. You’re already weary from healing Trav.” Arturo lifted Llynx, waiting while Llyon tucked the broken arm close to his little brother’s chest, then carried him over to the bed. When Llynx was settled on the bed, Arturo turned back to Panther, still crouched on the floor, rocking and moaning. “Stop, Panther!”
But Panther was wrapped tightly in his own misery and guilt. He was in a place where nothing reached him, nothing but the knowledge that he had hurt his brother. Hurt him to the point that he had fainted from the pain. How could he do such a thing? His belly clenched. Heartsick at the result of his loss of control, he curled in a rigid little ball and wept.
Without any hesitation at all, Arturo brushed his forehead, sending him into a deep sleep. Whatever had happened in this room had clearly wounded more than Llynx. Bishop helped him move Panther, now a heavy, limp heap to the bed.
“What happened?” Bishop asked in bewilderment.
“That is what I am going to find out.” Arturo’s grim tone boded ill for the perpetrator. Without compunction he rested his hand on Panther’s forehead and dived into rapport with his brother. The deep mind sharing was normally reserved for mated pairs but in cases such as this where speed was of the essence, morkerts exercised the ability to determine where the danger lurked. Arturo didn’t use the ability lightly, for in rapport there were no secrets. Nothing was hidden. Nothing.
By the time he broke his link with Panther, Llyon had completed his preliminary healing of Llynx’s arm. Wolfe and Arano had arrived, followed by Tyger and all were patiently waiting for Arturo’s directions. With an irritable shake of his head, Arturo said, “Sit down. Llyon, is he asleep?”
With a mental nudge, Llyon urged Llynx into a deeper sleep. “He is now.”
Gathering his thoughts, Arturo explained the train of events leading to the confrontation in the bedroom. When he finished, there was quiet in the room as each of them assessed what Arturo shared with them.
Finally Wolfe asked in an odd tone, “He thinks we’re ashamed of him because he’s not a good warrior?”
“No.” Arturo shot them a sad look. “He believes that he shames us because of his inabilities. That he has nothing to offer the Llewellyn name. Stefan Cowal agreed to take him on as an apprentice next year. And he hoped to redeem himself by competing in the warriors’ games. Then when he was denied the games…”
“Why take it out on Llynx?” Bishop frowned as he tried to work out the puzzle.
“Because technically, he was not guilty of taking the photograph. I asked the wrong question. Were you in Bishop’s room? Yes, he was. But he left before anything was taken. He was out at bonding circle three when Llynx took the photo.” Arturo sighed impatiently. “Apparently, he did what he has on more than one occasion. He took the blame for something Llynx instigated. And in this case, it had more serious consequences than he was prepared for.”
“Now what?” Bishop stifled the urge to find the photo and burn it. After all, it wasn’t even his property but it had certainly caused a lot of trouble.
“I will wait for them to wake up. When they do, we will have a discussion. Llynx’s punishment will stand. In addition, I must think of something to impress on him the seriousness of letting others take his punishments. Panther’s punishment will also stand but I will make it clear that now his punishments are for losing his temper and taking the blame for Llynx’s actions.” Arturo fetched a chair from the corner and sat next to Panther’s bed. “I suggest that the rest of you return to your responsibilities. There is nothing more to be done here for the moment.”
As the men prepared to leave, Arturo said, “Uncle, I would talk to you for a few moments, please.”
Leaning against the wall next to the door, Bishop waited for the others to leave. Idly he wondered what Arturo had to say that was so important that it couldn’t wait for another time.
When the door was closed and they were alone with the sleeping boys, Arturo turned to him and observed abruptly, “It is a dangerous game that you play with Samara.”
“If you and Samara wish to play bed games, then you should do so indoors. Panther saw you.”
“Yes, I believe that is what he saw,” Arturo agreed.