The docent explained the legend of the star-crossed lovers, but Reina had heard it before and continued to admire the old photograph she loved so much. Only now, she did it from across the room while feigning interest in a bunch of boats.
The story usually drew her in, but not today.
“Abigail Ashford was engaged to a man old enough to be her father,” the docent droned on. “An arranged marriage typical of the Havenport upper class at the time. But young Abigail had already fallen in love with a young man who worked for her father’s shipping company. Recently returned from fighting in World War I, Keenan O’Connell got a job at the docks and met Abigail that same day. Knowing their relationship would be frowned upon by Abigail’s parents and the rest of Havenport society, they kept their liaison secret until Abigail’s betrothal was announced. This proved too much for Keenan, who declared his love for Abigail and stole her away from her bedroom in the dark of night. Neither was ever heard from again. Some say they successfully made their way out of Havenport, married, and lived happily ever after. Others suspect foul play. Abigail’s fiancé was not one to take no for an answer. Some believe he discovered the pair’s plans to escape and murdered them with…”
This particular volunteer was not one of Reina’s favorites. She somehow managed to make the romantic story of The Lovers of Havenport sound boring.
Reina had heard the tale a hundred times and read the museum literature even more. She sighed. What must it be like to have a man love you enough to risk everything—job, reputation, even his life—in order to be with you?
Mia’s father had failed spectacularly in his first test as a lover. Harold took off running the minute Reina told him she was pregnant. Couldn’t risk his family finding out he’d impregnated the poor white-trash, Southern slut he’d fooled around with the summer of his senior year in high school. His charmed life wasn’t about to be ruined for someone like Reina.
So he’d dumped her. Thank the goddess. She couldn’t imagine being married to the dick. That should have been the end of it, but a week ago he showed up asking questions about Mia.
Reina forced her hands to unclench. She still didn’t know what to do about his sudden interest in their daughter. She’d never asked for a penny in child support. His name wasn’t even on the birth certificate, for heaven’s sake.
If she thought for even a moment he was actually interested in Mia, she’d work on some kind of visitation arrangement. Much as it would break her heart to spend less time with her daughter, Mia had the right to get to know her father.
But Reina was under no such illusion. His attitude made it perfectly clear he still didn’t give a shit about Mia. Was he just using her as a pawn in some sick, twisted power play with his parents? Pretend interest so they would get off his back? Thank goodness he was moving to California in a few months so they wouldn’t have to suffer through his games for too long.
She didn’t pretend to understand what he really wanted, but since it obviously wasn’t Mia, Reina was going to fight him tooth and nail to keep their daughter from getting hurt in whatever drama he planned to enact.
She just didn’t know how…yet.
Another frantic hiss made Reina turn her concentration back to her daughter.
Mia blushed a fiery red while pretending she hadn’t a care in the world. She flipped her long, blue-streaked hair over her shoulders and turned her back on her mother. Reina was used to it. Ever since Mia had turned fourteen she’d become a sullen, sour-faced, stereotypical teenager.
Reina was losing her mind over it.
What happened to her sweet, innocent, happy little girl?
And the power that poured off her when they least expected it? Yeah, that would be an even bigger challenge than having a teenager in the house.
Reina simply became more attuned to the supernatural when she turned fourteen. Mia had power sparking out at the most inopportune moments, creating havoc wherever she went. Thank goodness no one made the connection between Mia and the fire in the chemistry lab. After all, Mia had been clear across the room. Who would suspect the fire started because Noah was making crude gestures in Mia’s direction? No one was hurt, and the teacher assumed Noah was careless with his Bunsen burner.
Served the little shit right for messing with Reina’s baby.
A ripple of movement behind her daughter and a skittering of magickal power along her skin caught her attention.
Reina swiveled her head in the direction of the photo. Mia now stood with her gaggle of friends in front of the portrait. But it wasn’t the girls’ movements that sparked the prickle of trepidation down her spine.
The photograph itself had changed. The lovers were no longer in the heated embrace that brought sighs of longing to all the women who viewed it. Instead, Keenan held Abigail at arm’s length. Almost as if he were pushing her away while she clung to him.
The magick Reina sensed flowed off Mia.