A New Generation

photo courtesy of CBS News

As a patriot, September 11th, has always a tough day for me. I woke up on the morning of September 11, 2001, to my little sister saying, “Umm Eryn, there was an accident. A plane flew into a building,” over my answering machine as I was slowly waking up, my heart dropped when I heard the rest.

My mother took over the call and told me the news wasn’t sure if it was an accident or intentional, but an airplane did fly into one of the Twin Towers. I flipped on the news and within a half hour watched on live tv when the second plane hit.

These memories are always in my head. I think of them randomly throughout the year, if I hear someone mention New York or the Pentagon, or if I see the new Freedom Tower shining bright on the New York skyline on television. And no matter what, when the calendar lands on September 11th, I’m in reverence that day.

This year, 2017,  I have a ten year old son in the fifth grade. I’ve been teaching him about the history of America since he was old enough to understand what I was saying. He was in pre-school when I first told him about 9/11, and every year since, I have asked if the teachers talked about September 11th. And every year he is blasé about it, saying, “No,” or “A little.”  But this year was different.  I asked him what he did at school and if he had any homework, to which he usually says no, but today he said, “Yes, I have to interview you on where you were and what you were doing when the events of 9/11 happened?”

He’s heard my recollection of it before, but still I repeated the story, getting the same chills, the same chokiness in my throat, shed the same sympathetic tears for the lives that were lost and saved that day. And after it was all said and done, I noticed how times have changed from when I was in fifth grade. I had similar assignments, asking my parents where they were when  President Kennedy was shot, or Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon.

Those events were important in their lives, and this 9/11 was a huge one in mine. It’s my recollection that will be passed down to the new generation until something spectacular or tragic happens in their timeframe… and then my son will tell his children where he was when…

 

Other related blog articles:

Positive Side of 9/11

September 11, 2001: My Personal StorySeptember 11, 2001: My Personal Story

 

 

 

 

 

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EBook Cover FFH FINAL

Read Eryn’s latest book in the

Falling for Heroes Series: Falling for Hope

falling-for-heroes-box-setFull Cover Falling for Phoenix

And catch up on the first three books Falling for Shock, Falling for Freedom, and Falling for Phoenix, in the Falling for Heroes Boxset

 

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Silver Lining

What a week! So as some of you know, I’ve been fighting an nasty physical thing this week and it’s been rough. Very painful. I haven’t been able to go into the bakery, because standing was definitely not possible, but I have been able to sit or lay with a notebook or laptop with me. What that means is, writing time for Eryn!

And ladies and gentlemen, I have made some incredible headway on Falling for Sacrifice. It’s been giving me a headache lately since I haven’t had time to fix its many problems and finally those are resolved. The characters like each other, they have their own personalities and flaws, and the plot is moving quite nicely. I’m so happy!

This new book picks up where Falling for Hope leaves off, but this time we are following the lives of Isabel Delgado, Alexander Brownyn’s half-sister, out of Cudillero, Spain, and Evan Corbett, readers some will recognize from Falling for Shock. He was the villain, the Rainmaker, to Oliver Hannel’s Shock hero. He was also Lucy Brooks’ (now Bronwyn) boyfriend back in Shock. And now that everything is fixed, I’m getting really excited to share this story.

ISA

Ms. Karen David, is my inspiration for Isabel Delgado

Evan

Justin Hartley is clearly the perfect choice for Evan Corbett

 

So next year, get ready for Book Five in the Falling for Heroes series! You definitely won’t want to miss this one. 

 

 

All In One Map-Dot

I don’t normally get political, and I’m not now either, but the other day something wonderful occurred to me when I was at work. First of all, when I’m not writing, blogging, interviewing, and promoting, I work at a bakery inside the HyVee grocery store in my smallish town of Bloomington, Illinois. If any of you don’t know about HyVee, it’s a midwestern chain that I like to describe as the Disneyland of grocery stores. Manners are applauded and friendly customer service is the top priority above and beyond everything else. Our motto is: A helpful smile in every aisle. Not only that, we pride ourselves on having excellent, clean, and local products, and if local products aren’t available, we make the items in house. For example, we don’t receive peach turnovers from our corporate factory, yet one of our customers… just one… loves them and orders them special, so we make them from scratch.

It’s that kind of treatment that sets HyVee apart from other stores and why it is the ONLY grocery store I would ever work for.

With that said, let’s go back to my original thought. As I was slicing some artisan bread for a regular customer, I realized how amazing it was that this regular was here in Bloomington all the way from Congo, Africa.  I know this because he has an incredible accent, and deep, reverberating voice, had me asking where he was from a while back.

So as I’m helping him, I asked if his guests had gone back home to Belgium, a topic we had talked about the week before. He said, yes, and then, out of curiosity, I was prompted to look around the bakery. Here, standing before me was a customer from Africa, with friends from Belgium, one of our bakers is from Germany, another from Guatemala, a cake decorator from India, our newest employee is from the Phillipines, and I have relatives straight off the boat from Ireland with family from Korea and China. All these races, all these cultures working together, harmoniously in an area no bigger than the bottom floor of my townhouse. How fantastic is that?!

After all the turmoil, strife, and violence our country has endured over the last couple of weeks, shouldn’t we take an example from this little tiny map-dot in the middle of the United States and live and work together in peace no matter where we’re from, and what we look like? And as I close, the one thing I took away from this passing thought a few days ago, cutting bread for a man from the Congo, all of our cultures… ALL of them… are beautiful.

I Can “Bear”ly Contain Myself

Earlier last week, I excitedly posted on Facebook that I was in talks with survival expert, Bear Grylls’ people, asking if I could use his name in my next book.  Falling for Sacrifice, will be dealing with two people stranded on an island after a boat wreck, and while one character isn’t too intelligent, he avidly watches Bear Grylls’ shows.

If you are unfamiliar with Bear and his survival shows, click to play for a taste of his extreme survival.

 

Well, with all that said, I am ecstatic to announce that Bear has agreed to let me use his name in Falling for Sacrifice!

I received an email today from his assistant saying that he and his team read my synopsis and passages that included his name, and were very happy, despite a small   snag with the one passage. It was easily amended and now all is good. I’m so excited for this little venture.  Nothing like having one of your idols approve your work!

bearemail

 

And for those wondering about the release of Falling for Sacrifice… 2018 is all I can tell you right now. I’m Bear-ly (hahaha!) through fifty pages. I still have a ways to go. Until then, enjoy the other four books in the Falling for Heroes Series:

Falling for Shock

Falling for Freedom

Falling for Phoenix

Falling for Hope

 

And as always:

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Happy Endings…Happy Beginnings…

A Norman Rockwell ending to the first book of Once Upon A Time.

As a little girl, I was in imaginary land all the time. I was a Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Wendy Darling, Dorothy Gale and I never grew out of it. I loved fairy tales – they are probably a good reason why I became an author! I’ve watched all the movies, plays, tv shows (side note: remember Faerie Tale Theatre with Shelley Duvall, and that cheesy sitcom called The Charmings – yeah, I watched them.) So from the moment I saw the first commercial for Once Upon A Time I knew it was going to be perfect.

Every week I fell in love with the stories and characters. They have been my solace, my joy, my time away from life every Sunday. And as this amazing 6 year chapter ends and a brand new chapter begins in October with new cast members, I will hold dear these last years of going through the journey these characters have been on. I’m not heartbroken…but to me it feels like the end of high school and graduation. I know college will be exciting, but it will be a world of change. Some of my friends will stay and some will move away, just like Once. I will miss Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jared Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, and Emilie deRavin completely, but I am so ecstatic Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, and my all-time favorite Colin O’Donoghue will be staying to continue the story.

Thank you Once Upon A Time for your stories, your message of hope, and all the beautiful friends I’ve met along the way. This show will be with me forever.

I cannot wait to see what the new chapter brings!

PS If you Once creators ever want to hire me on as a writer, I’m always available! 😉

COVER REVEAL: Falling for Hope

Without delay, ladies and gentleman, I give you Falling for Hope!

EBook Cover FFH FINAL

 

Alexander Bronwyn loves his family-his mother, father, two sisters, and especially his son, Elliott. But only one of them shares his blood-his son. Elliott has leukemia and is in need of a bone marrow transplant. In order to rid him of this life-depriving disease, adopted Alexander must first find those who share the same DNA.

Elaine Hannel, mother to Oliver, Edward, and Rhys Hannel thought she lost her first-born forty years prior, during childbirth. That is until he showed up at her final son’s wedding, uncovering a decades’ old mystery she didn’t know existed. Shocked, Elaine is forced to relive the past she’d put behind her so long ago, with a former lover and the death of her child she only met for a blink of a moment.

While the rest of the Hannels are confused, and feel deceived, Lucy Brooks, twin sister to Layla Hannel, is the only person accepting and sympathetic of Alexander and his plight. A single parent herself, what she sees in Alex is a man who will do anything for his son, no matter the pain and conflict it causes. What she doesn’t see is the immediate soul connection to a man so overburdened with life, all he has left is to let go and let her take some of that away for him.

This book idea came to me in pieces. As many of you know, my husband was adopted as a toddler. He’s never met or even knows who his biological family are. And one day, very early into my pregnancy with my son my doctor was asking me all these family history questions, like has anyone in my family had heart disease or cancer, and in turn she asked my husband as well. I had this extensive list in my head for my side, but all Jon said was, “I don’t know.”

It took about three questions for the doctor to ask, are you adopted? and Jon answered, “Yes.”

From that moment, I’ve often thought, what would we do if something went wrong with him or our son since they have no other biological blood except each other?

Years later, as I was watching my favorite show, Once Upon a Time, the audience was introduced to a new character in an episode entitled Swan Song – Brennan Jones aka Papa Hook, Captain Hook’s father.

PapaHook and Hook

L to R Adam Croasdell, Colin O’Donoghue – Once Upon a Time

Brennan is played by the very talented actor Adam Croasdell. I don’t know what it was, but I was drawn to how he acted with the child who played young Captain Hook. He was dear to the child, and just had this sweet face to go along with it. Now unfortunately for young Hook, Papa didn’t turn out to be a good guy, but Adam was. The actor was and is a big Twitter person and I have had the privilege to chat with him a many times.
Jokingly one day, I tweeted that I was going to write a story about a single father having adventures on the high seas to Adam and he said he’d be honored. Well, I couldn’t disappoint and started wondering how I could fit a story like I’d described into my Falling for Heroes world. And just like many a story comes out a writer started with one story and ends up with another.
If the Hannels were going to gain another brother, how would that happen, was my first thought. Soon the idea of adoption came to mind, and then came the question I’d asked myself so long ago….what would happen if my son had an illness and needed blood from my husband and his didn’t work? They would need a miracle or someone else biological. The story grew from there and Falling for Hope was born.

One cool thing did come from it’s origin, Mr. Croasdell and I still chat. He was an awesome muse and I’m so glad to share this story with him. I also have the pleasure of sharing this story with a beautiful cancer survivor who I interviewed, Carly, as well as Be The Match bone marrow donor program. Both were extremely helpful in learning more and researching cancer and how treatments are made.

I do have a little news that I would like to share with you. Originally I’d planned on releasing Falling for Hope in April, but due to uncontrollable circumstances, like a broken computer, being unemployed, then just starting a new day job, I have to push the release date to June. Be patient with me. You will not want to miss this story!

Thank you to Dee Photos, Doreen Klussendork–oops dorf, The Berardinelli family, and Tori C. Farris for creating this beautiful cover for me. Usually, I create my own covers but these wonderful people pulled together to help me while my precious computer is dead. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

The Scroll: A Once Upon a Time Fanfiction

His little chest sat on the floor of his closet for weeks now. Weeks, meaning twelve…three months since he brought the weathered thing into Emma’s –correction his—err their house. To say Killian was still getting used to living without the sea under his feet was an understatement. And it’s not to say that he hadn’t lived on land before, he had, but not without knowing that his permanent and rightful home was the Jolly Roger. Now, it was not. She was his vessel for travel and that was all. This was his home.

A creak of the floorboard announced Emma’s arrival to the bedroom. Killian lifted his head. She came bearing coffee, handing him the steaming mug as she sat next to him at the foot of the bed.

“Are you just going to stare at that thing or finally open it?” she asked, nudging him.

Killian gave a one note chuckle. “I don’t know.”

“And I thought I was the stubborn one. What’s going on, Killian? Don’t you like it here?”

She was on his right. He took her hand in his and kissed the back of it. “Of course I like it here, love. But one thing you don’t know about this trunk is that it has never been off the Jolly Roger. I’ve never opened it other than aboard my ship. It belonged there.”

“And it doesn’t belong here?”

He lifted a shoulder. “It wants to, but along with opening it comes a sense of permanence.”

“Ahh. I know exactly what you mean. And I get it. You should’ve seen how many boxes I had before I moved here all those years ago,” Emma said, sipping her coffee, then setting it down on the nightstand.

Instead of returning to where she was sitting, she stood before Killian, gathering his hand and hook. “I had clothes, some books, tons of shoes…” she giggled. “But that was it. No photographs, no scrapbooks, no keepsakes…nothing personal. And those boxes littered my mom’s loft for a week before she made me unpack. You’ve got to do the same, Killian. I dreaded it too, but this isn’t some random house you’re living in. It’s one full of love and hope for our future. It may not have the ability to float, but it does have a cave system running underneath.”

Her green eyes twinkled as she spoke the last sentence, and Killian pulled her to him, kissing her before rising off the bed. “You’re right. Would you like to help me?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” She beamed up at him. Barefoot, she was shorter than he was more than any other time, making him feel like a giant and protective of her despite the fact she was an adult woman who could, quite honestly, take care of herself better than he ever could.

Kneeling together, Killian lifted the lid and began setting the few items inside upon the dresser, on the nightstands, or tucked into drawers if need be. Like magic, with each piece removed he felt the sense of dread leave his soul.

At the bottom, only one thing remained: a leather pouch. It was his brother’s, Liam’s…his older brother Liam’s. Killian took an extra second holding it, picturing the way Liam would carry this ratty trinket holder everywhere he went. He’d had it since he was a child. After he died, Killian had stuffed it away and never picked it up again. Placing it atop the shelf in the closet would be only the second home it had since being in Killian’s possession.

“Is that an L on the flap?” Emma asked. “Was that Liam’s?”

“Aye. Our father gave it to him when he was young. Liam carried it always.”

“What’s inside?”

Killian shook his head. “To tell the truth, I don’t know. I’ve never rummaged through.”

“Are you going to now?” she asked. Soft, serene eyes gazed at him, waiting for an answer.

“Why not.” Killian handed it to her. “Would you do the honors?”

“Me?” Emma was taken aback.

“Aye. Please.”

Taking it, she opened the flap and pulled out several things a child would own: a rock, a dried starfish, a bit of string, a toy wooden knight, and oddly enough a scrolled piece of parchment tied with a ribbon. The last she held up to examine. “There’s something written on it,” she said unrolling the centuries old paper. “Brennan sailed the seas as a cabin boy…” she read. “Brennan? That was your father’s name.”

“Aye, it was.” Confusion took over Killian, reading ahead over Emma’s shoulder.

“Killian, do you know what this is? It’s his story. No other paper or ink could survive this long and not be from the author. Do you know his story?” Emma was already on her feet, excited to uncover what was written on the page.

“No, I don’t. I never cared to. Hell, I still don’t. He doesn’t deserve to have his story told.” Nothing would ever heal the bitterness he held for his scoundrel father who’d abandoned him on the high seas to a life of servitude.

“How about your mother? Do you know about her? Reading ahead, it seems to be their love story.”

“She left us too. That’s all our father ever said.”

Emma  flipped over the page. Her jaw dropped, scanning the story further. “Killian… you need to read this.”

“Emm—” he began to protest.

Grabbing his hand, Emma hauled him down the stairs. “Nope, we’re going to read this. Come on.”

“Where are we going?”

She paused only to slip on a jacket and handed him his in the process. “We’re going to pick up lunch and read this. You can’t hold on to bitterness all your life. I won’t let you. New house, new life, new rules. We’re reading it.”

After a quick stop at Granny’s, Emma drove Killian to the Storybrooke Park and flung out a blanket from the back seat of that death trap she called a vehicle. “Sit,” she said patting the space next to her.

Killian sat looking out the tranquil reservoir, the lapping waters calmed his uneasy spirit.

“I would’ve taken you to the docks, but I thought a nice picnic on the water here would be better,” Emma said. “More private.”

He smiled. “Thank you.”

Clearing her throat Emma unrolled the scroll and nestled herself comfortably in place.  “Once upon a time…”

                Centuries ago…

               

                Brennan sailed the seas a cabin boy, performing all sorts of tasks for his father and his crew. They called themselves merchants, but Brennan knew better. They were pirates. He hated pirates; despised those rotten creatures. Always smelling of alcohol and decaying fish, Brennan stayed away from them as much as possible, preferring to read alone in his room.

As the years went on and he reached manhood, Brennan grew tired of always living amongst men. His heart grew, longing for someone to love…a woman. But he hadn’t met one in all his life. His mother died of some kind of flux during one of his earliest sails and from then on women had only been mentioned in tales or seen in port when the ship docked for supplies. Those women were not what he’d expected from the many stories he’d read. No, they were dirty, hard-worked, and too eager to please a man.

The image he had in his head of the perfect woman drifted through his mind as he sat above deck staring out at the waters below. She’d be beautiful, lovely, bright as the sun that rose in the east. Her heart would be kind and true. He filled his lungs with the warm ocean air wishing for such a maiden somewhere amongst hills of green they sailed along.

“Oy! Brennan!” his father called. “You wastin’ your days away again? Meanwhile me crew is ‘ere workin’ like scurvy dogs. Get off your arse and get to work!”

Brennan could only look to the sky and put his dreaming aside. It was time to go to work.

At night they docked. The crew and his father took to the nearest tavern for a night of drinking and debauchery. If there were ever a chance to disappear, now would be the time. And so he did. Stealing a horse, he galloped as far away from the docks as he fast as the animal could run. He urged the mare into the woods, deep in canopy cover until the smell of the ocean was taken over by moss, and leaves, and dirt. And when the old girl had had enough, he stopped and made camp. He was finally free.

Morning came and Brennan wandered the forest for hours in search of food and water. He found not but a few berries and some nuts, eating them without satisfying the empty pit in his belly. He needed more. Perhaps a shelter or a small village would pop up soon, he thought and continued to walk with the horse by his side.

As he’d wish, the forest opened to a field. A great castle stood before him. Finally, he was saved. Yet as he edged closer he saw the castle was set on a small island in the middle of a lake. Brennan could see that a drawbridge could be lowered to cross the water and gain access into the castle. He called and called for someone to drop the plank, but not one of his cries were heard. The castle couldn’t be empty, he thought, it was massive. Hundreds must live on the other side of the wall. Someone was bound to come out sooner or later.

Busying himself with giving the horse water and brushing its mane, he waited what seemed like forever for someone to come along. No one did. Not one single soul. He sank into the grass, lying his head back amongst the yellow and purple flowers, and staring at the sun crossing the sky. Before he knew it, a song drifted on the wind. Brennan sat up, seeing a beautiful woman emerge from the forest. Her hair was long and golden, flowing down her back like the cascading falls he’d seen in his travels. As she neared, she glanced at him smiling; two blue eyes twinkled in his direction. “Hello,” she said. “Are you lost?”

Brennan bowed. “I am, my fair maiden. I came from the forest via the docks two days ride from here. I have been calling for someone inside to open the gate, but no one’s heard me.”

She giggled in a girlish, spritely way he’d never heard before, reminding him of the dolphins that played along the bow of a ship. “That’s because no one lives here but me. Come, I will take you in. I’m sure you’re in need of a good meal and a proper roof over your head.”

“Thank you, I would. I’m Brennan Jones, former sailor.” He kissed the back of her hand like he’d read gentleman do in storybooks.

“Ondine is my name. I’m delighted to meet you, Brennan.”

Walking to the edge of the lake, Ondine stepped on a stone half buried in the earth. A cranking sound filled his ears, and Brennan watched as the drawbridge was lowered. What kind of magic was this, he wondered, but not for long as Ondine reached for his hand and led him inside. Together they crossed the courtyard and stabled the horse before closing the bridge behind them. They then continued inside the foreboding stone fortress she called home.

“Here,” she said entering a large hall draped in tapestries and adorned with tassels. A heavy table made of fine scrolled oak stood in the center surrounded by twelve chairs. “Wait for me here, and I’ll make you a fine meal.”

“You’ll make it? Do you not have servants? Surely, a woman who lives in a castle as grand as this has maids, cooks, and other staff to assist?”

“I do not. It is only I who resides here, and that’s the way I like it. Now please, sit, dear Brennan and I’ll feed you a supper lavish enough for a king.” With that, Ondine left the room.

A short time later she returned with a beautiful roast, cakes, and many other delicious things. She set the table and invited him to help himself. He did not need to be asked a second time.

After they’d eaten, they sat together in front of a warm fire and goblets of wine between them, talking as if they’d known each other a lifetime rather than a few passing hours. Brennan sensed Ondine was lonely, like he was, hoping to find solace in the arms of a true love. “Do you believe in the Fates?” he asked.

“The Fates?”

“Yes, three deity sisters who have the ability to control two souls, entwining them together for a lifetime?”

Ondine shifted her gaze, hiding a coy smile from him. “And you believe these Fates have brought us together?”

Brennan inched closer, eliminating the gap between them. “I do.” He brushed a finger along her porcelain cheek, so fair and soft he felt as if he were touching a feather.

“Even though we have not met each other before?”

“Aye.” He could not tear his sight from her sapphire eyes, even if he was told he would die if he didn’t. “The Fates know how to bring lost souls together.”

“Then the Fates are very powerful,” Ondine whispered, leaning into him.

“That they are,” Brennan replied and pressed his lips to hers, rosy and full.

One day at the castle led to two; and two days led to a week; a week became a month until Brennan asked Ondine to marry him and live together as husband and wife. She agreed, but with one condition, he must promise to let her go every Friday and never ask questions about what she was doing or ever follow her.

As odd as the request was, Brennan agreed, promising her freedom and privacy every Friday until the end of their life together. And for five years he kept his promise. Then one day, as Brennan played with their sons, four-year-old Liam and eight-month-old Killian, a voice could be heard shouting from the field.

Startled and curious, Brennan gathered the baby and ran with Liam to the drawbridge, lowering it for the stranger outside. When the man crossed, joining them in the courtyard, he introduced himself as Sir William Perrault saying he’d come to see his daughter.

In the five years Brennan and Ondine had been married, not once had she mentioned having any parents. He’d assumed all these years they’d been dead, and she left orphaned, forced to live alone. He stood aghast. “I’m sorry. I was not aware my wife had a father.”

“We all have fathers. Now where is my daughter?” the older man said sternly.

“It’s Friday,” young Liam said. “Mother goes away on Friday.”

Sir William cast a glare toward Brennan. “And you allow this? Allow your wife to galivant about alone? Where does she go?”

“I know not. She goes where she wants.”

“Ha! What kind of man are you? What kind of man not only let’s his wife out of his sight, but does not know where she’s gone? Are you not angered? Are you not curious? Nothing good can come from a life like this.”

His father-in-law’s insolence was too much to bear.  “I’m the man I want to be, and that is a husband to my wife. Now, be gone with you.”

“No.” Sir William stood his ground. “I have come for my daughter and I will have her. She needs to be with her family.”

He tried pushing past Brennan, but Brennan held him back with a firm palm against his chest. Sir William glared at the forceful hand holding him back. “No,” Brennan bellowed. “We’re her family.”

“Get your hand off me.”

Killian cried at the harsh grumble that bellowed from his grandfather.

Bouncing the boy, Brennan quieted him before handing him to Liam. “Find mum. Go, and take care of Killian.”

Liam did as he was told, running away into the castle.

“Come back here, child!” Sir William started after Liam. Brennan yanked the man to a stay, only to be met with a right fist to the jaw.

After all his years aboard ships and amongst rowdy men, Brennan knew how to fight and threw a punch into the man’s gut. William doubled over, gagging at the sharp quick pain. Taking the stunned moment, Brennan landed a swift kick to his head, sending his knighted father-in-law to the cobblestone unconscious.

Not wasting the moment, Brennan ran after his son. “Liam,” he yelled.

“Here, father,” a small voice came from the lower stairwell.

Brennan embraced the boy the second he found him. “Did you find mum?” he then asked.

Liam shook his head. “No. I did hear a noise though. Down there.” He pointed down the wooden stairs.

“Good lad,” Brennan patted his head. “Let’s take a look, shall we?”

Liam nodded, fear glistened in his eyes that so mirrored his mother’s. “It’ll be all right, son. Hold on to your brother tight.”

Together they descended the stairs to the lowest part of the castle. Like Liam said, there were noises coming from behind the closed door. Splashes, as if someone was bathing or swimming, to be more exact. Opening the door, the sight that greeted him was like no other. There, in a steaming spring swam his wife with a green flowing fin instead of legs. Brennan’s jaw fell slack, shocked.

Ondine swam to the surface with a screech. “Brennan! I told you never to search for me on Fridays…never to follow me.”

“I’m… I’m…sorry. I had to. Your father, he… he…” Quizzical words came jumbled from his mouth.

“Mother, that man means to harm you,” Liam warned for him.

Ondine’s eyes filled with terror, widening at Liam’s statement. “Brennan, what is he’s talking about?”

Taking a deep breath, and ignoring for the moment that his wife was half fish, he answered her. “Your father has come. He means to take you home.”

Reaching out of the water, Ondine held out her arms for the baby, cradling him to her wet body as he cried. “His kingdom is not my home. This is. And if he’s found us, then we must leave.”

Brennan shook his head. The man upstairs, prone on his floor, had introduced himself as sir, which would indicate a knighthood, yet Ondine said his kingdom. “He’s a king?”

“Yes, and a ruthless one. He cursed me this way with his knowledge of dark magic, because I would not marry the prince of a kingdom he wanted to conquer. I ran away from him and found this abandoned castle, taking it as my own. But still, every Friday, just like the day I was cursed, I’m a slave to the water. If he’s already done this to me, who knows what he might do if he finds me—us now?”

From the floor above, shouting could be heard for Ondine. It echoed through the empty halls, travelling through the castle. Footfalls started down the stairs they’d descended mere minutes ago. Brennan knew not what to do.

He knelt beside the water, kissing his wife. “I will not let him have you. You must get away.”

“How? My fin. I’m trapped in the water until midnight.”

Suddenly, Brennan remembered something an old man he’d assisted once on the docks of a town named Misthaven told him. If ever you find yourself in trouble, use this key and it will take you away from your problems. Then the man pressed a key attached to a thin leather strip into his hand. Brennan thought the man was senile, but took the key as payment since it seemed to be made of some precious metal. He’d wore the old thing around his neck and yanked it off, handing it to Ondine. “Here. This is how we can get away. It unlocks any door to another realm. Think of water and it shall appear. That’s how portals work.”

“Without you?”

Brennan kissed her, breathing in her essence deep. “We’ll be right behind you. But you go first. We’ll keep your father away.”

Lifting his wife from the water, heavy tail, baby Killian, and all, he rushed her to the door for dry storage at the end of the hall.

“Wait! Stop,” Ondine cried. “Liam, come son.”

Liam ran up behind them, and Brennan knelt as Ondine handed him his little brother. “Hold him. Keep him safe, always,” she said, and kissed the little boy. “I love you.”

“Love you too, mama,” Liam said, wrapping chubby arms around her neck.”

“Stand back, son.” Brennan stood and Ondine opened the door with the mystical key.

A swirling vortex of purple, blue, green, and pink appeared instead of the solid wood that once stood in its place. “I’m frightened, Brennan.”

Pressing his lips to hers, he parted saying the only thing he remembered his mother saying to him as a child. “Look inside. We’re all braver than we think, if we just look deep enough.”

Ondine nodded, holding back falling tears. “I love you.”

“And I love you.”

Pounding on the cellar door startled their farewell, breaking them apart. Liam screamed. Killian shrieked. “Go,” Brennan urged and Ondine leapt from his arms into the unknown aura of magic.

She disappeared and William lunged through the opposite door with a great yell. “No!!!”

With both hands he shoved Brennan to the ground. “You stupid fool! Do you know what you’ve done? My kingdom. My reign!”

One after another the king threw punches into his face, neck, chest…whatever he could touch, he hit with the force of a cannon ball being shot. Brennan had to protect himself and his wailing sons, and reached the sash at his waist. Inside he had a dagger tucked and thrust it deep into the gut of the vicious king. He repeated the strike over and over until finally blood bubbled from the king’s mouth, spilling upon him.  William grunted and growled, and knotted both hands above his head, ready to slam down a doubled-fisted blow into Brennan breastbone.

Thinking quick, Brennan did the same and sank the knife directly into the heart of the king with a great yell. William was dead. The body of the old man fell to the side, finally allowing Brennan to be.

“Father!” Liam cried.

Brennan crawled to him, collecting both boys in his arms. “Hush now. Gather all you have, for now we must leave. Your father has murdered a king.”

The child ran, leaving Killian in Brennan’s arms, and when he returned Brennan opened the storage door hoping to see the same swirling portal on the other side. But there was nothing. The magic gone, leaving a dirt floor, and shelving stocked with gourds, onions, and potatoes.

“What?” he said to himself. “This can’t be. No!”

He had to find her, and hitched the wagon, securing the children inside. He head toward the ocean. Once there, the king’s army surrounded the port, searching for their leader. Brennan looked down at his linen shirt stained with royal blood. If he were caught, he’d be killed. No, that was not going to happen. He had to be free. He had to find Ondine, she was the one who he loved, even more than the children she bore for him.  Without her, they wouldn’t even exist. He needed her, and silently brought the boys on board one of the ships; the soldiers unaware of their presence. He’d sail the seven seas, and every realm to find her, even if it meant hiding from the soldiers the rest of his life…he would find her.

Present day

Dropping the scroll to her lap, Emma shook her head. “Killian, I’m so sorry.”

Giving her a tight smile, Killian pulled her over to kiss her forehead. “It’s all right. It happened a long time ago. Funny, I always thought father was a thief, not a murderer.”

“Who told you that?”

“The man my father sold Liam and I to. Apparently, my father lied to save his own arse. Doesn’t surprise me.”

Emma’s brows knitted together in the middle. “You’re only focusing on your father, but what about your mother? Killy she could be here.”

“In Storybrooke, are you daft?” Surely she was if that’s what she thought.

“No, think about it. Your father gave her a key to unlock a door, sending her to another realm. Beans take you to where you’re thinking, but keys take you to the…”

He was following. “…to the Land of Untold Stories.”

“Right, and time is frozen there. Everyone who’s come through is exactly the same as they were the last day they were seen in their original realm. If that’s where she went, then there is a possibility she could be right here after all those years.”

Killian understood Emma’s need to be hopeful. It was in her blood. But he was always skeptical and despite seeing hope flourish in this town, he still couldn’t grab hold of it. This was his mother, a woman he’d wanted to know since he was a child. Father never spoke of her. Liam was too young to know her. Yet still, Killian dreamt of the woman who gave birth to him, but she never had a face. More than anything he’d love to meet her.

Lifting Emma’s hand, he kissed the back of it. “Perhaps. But I don’t want to think of that. Too painful after all these years. Come now, let’s go home. It’s Friday and I don’t want to spend it wallowing out in the cold. I want to spend it with the family I do have… you and Henry.”

“I’d like that too,” Emma said with a smile, then stood and kissed him, weaving her fingers through the back of his hair.

Returning to the yellow bug, Killian heard a splash behind him. Whipping around, he caught only the flurrying tips of a green fin diving under the surface of the placid water. Cocking his head to the side, he wondered… Nah, he was dreaming… or perhaps Emma’s sense of hope was getting to him after all. Either way, he followed his love to the car, and together they drove to their home.