From the moment I realized I wasn’t getting out of writing a whole series for Project Prometheus, I knew there was one character whose story needed to be told. She was an enigma in IN HER NAME, and a staunch ally and protector in HOPE OF HEAVEN. She started out as one of Manara’s priestesses, but it quickly became apparent to me that Shahdi Nahid had a lot more to give, and become, than that. The more of her story that’s revealed, in BLOOD DEBT, the more amazing this woman proves herself to be, and the more perfect a match she becomes for the man who harbors an otherworldly soul.
“A Mother’s Pain” – Excerpt from BLOOD DEBT (Project Prometheus, Atlantis Silver, Book #4) —
When Michael finally emerged from the lab that evening, it was to a sight that took his breath away.
Bathed in the soft orange glow of the setting sun, Shahdi sat rocking a baby in her arms, humming softly in a way that pierced his heart. She looked like a Madonna, with her dark hair and lightly-browned skin, her unusual blue eyes soft and sheened with tears as they watched the child in her arms sleep.
“You’re a natural.” He broke the silence with a murmur, surprised at the huskiness of his own voice. Startled by the sound, Shahdi’s head jerked up, and he read the heartbreak in her eyes that she wasn’t swift enough to conceal. Those eyes stabbed him deep, like a knife through the heart, and he couldn’t stand not knowing, anymore. “Why don’t you have any kids, Shahdi?”
Her eyes overflowed with tears, and Michael felt like the worst kind of bastard as he watched those tears silently course her cheeks.
“Damn,” he muttered, moving quickly to kneel at her side, his fingers raising instinctively to brush away her tears. “God, Shahdi, I’m so sorry—”
“I cannot have children,” she managed in a wavering voice, her lips trembling with the effort of remaining composed.
“Not at all?” He swallowed hard against sympathy he knew she wouldn’t want. What must it be like for her, to see all of these children, and feel that emptiness? He’d never wanted to hold her as badly as he did now; but, for once, his need was entirely pure, and she was inaccessible. Conscious of the sleeping baby in her arms, he took her hand instead, squeezing gently. “But you’re young, and healthy. Why—?”
Her face turned away. “I do not care to discuss this, Michael.”
“Please,” he begged, reaching to turn her face back, pleading with his eyes that she let him in. “Don’t shut me out, honey. Please talk to me.”
Her eyes met his for a long, torturous moment, during which Michael fought his impulse to hold her and comfort her, as he was certain no one ever had. Finally, her gaze released his, dropping to the child in her arms as she heaved a shuddering sigh. “When I was sixteen years, I gave birth to a daughter…”
Her voice broke, even as her words slugged Michael hard in the gut. “What? You just said—”
“The birth was long, and very difficult, and she was born far too early. There was much damage done to both of us, and it was a miracle that she survived even the birth. I… I held her in my arms, an hour after, as she let go of her life. I have been unable to conceive ever since.” Her eyes grew hard and determined in a way that told Michael she battled grief every day of her life, burying it beneath her smiles. Her words, as she spoke, confirmed his suspicion. “It is the will of Ishtar, and I will endure it, but I will never stop mourning my child, nor hoping that, one day, Ishtar will see fit to give me another.”
“Now,” she rose in a fluid, graceful motion, as regal as a queen. “If you will excuse me, Dr. Banks, I must return Paco to his mother. We will not discuss this matter again. It is over.”
And, as she walked away, her shoulders squared and her head high in a motion he now knew hid all her pain and sorrow, Michael’s need to comfort her grew stronger. It wasn’t over, no matter what Shahdi thought. “Not by a long shot, sweetheart.”
Be there from the start! Look for IN HER NAME, coming from Desert Breeze Publishing in September 2014!