Captivated (Night Sky - Pentalogy - Book Three)

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Chapter Twenty: Neesah's Secret Chamber

‘Here.’

“He says here,” Gresha said, looking at the door in front of them.

“I can hear something humming in there,” Pilar said as he leaned against the door.

“I can’t believe Neesah traveled this far down here,” Claireisa said, looking around them. Just as they’d thought, they had to be at the very bottom of the Space Station.

“It wants Neesah’s blood again,” Gio said as he opened the panel.

“Does that mean we found her secret room?” Gresha asked as she watched Pilar place a drop of his and Stalson’s mixed blood into the contraption.

“DNA denied,” the stupid contraption said with a beep.

“But we have come so far,” Gresha said with a cry.

“Let’s try something else,” Stalson said as he walked over to Pilar. He pulled out a small knife and sliced the pad of his pointer finger, then grabbed Pilar’s hand and sliced his.

“Damn, Stalson. Warn a guy would yah,” Pilar said with a groan as he tried to pull his hand from his cousin.

“What’s the fun in that?” Stalson asked with a grin, then moved their hands over the device and let their fresh blood drip into the machine.

Lights blinked, then it beeped a few times. “DNA accepted. Welcome, my queen.”

They watched as the door opened.

“Now that’s how you do it,” Stalson said with a grin.

“Stay back, in case it’s a trap,” Gio said when Gresha started to enter.

Gresha’s blue mist covered her body as she entered the room, then her mist dissipated.

“Mother!” she cried as she ran to the standing pod in the middle of the room that held her mother, and fell to her knees in front of it.

Gio pushed past the others and stared at the pod. She looked just as she had the last time he had seen her, over twenty years ago.

“Gwyneth,” Gio whispered as he moved closer to the pod.

“What did Neesah do to her?” Gresha asked, looking at the pod crying.

“She’s in suspended animation,” Gio said, walking around the pod.

“What does that mean?” Gresha asked, wiping her eyes.

“Kind of like frozen in time,” Pilar said, then moved to his sister’s side and looked in the pod at his stepmother.

“Can we get her out of there?” Gresha asked as she got to her feet.

“She’s actually safe in there,” Gio said as he came back around to the front of the pod.

‘Let her out.’

Gresha looked at Matrios. “But my father said she’s safe in there.”

“What’s going on?” Gio asked, looking at his daughter.

“Matrios said to get her out of there,” Gresha said, looking at the pod again.

‘Listen.’

Gresha looked at Matrios, then at everyone else. She didn’t hear anything.

‘I hear heartbeats.’

She watched Matrios move closer to the pod.

“Heartbeats?” Gresha asked, confused.

“What heartbeats?” Gio asked, looking from his daughter to her Snoggle.

“I don’t know, he said he hears heartbeats,” Gresha said as she looked at the pod that held her mother.

“Impossible, she was dead when I put her in the secret room,” Pilar said as he stared inside the pod at his stepmother.

“Or was she mostly dead?” Claireisa asked, moving closer to the pod.

“Matrios could just be hearing all the hearts beating around him, there is a lot of them,” Stalson said as he moved further into the room.

‘I know all your heartbeats, these are different.’

Gresha looked at her Snoggle, then at her family. “He says he knows our heartbeats. These are different.” She watched Matrios move over to the pod and press his head against it.

‘And they’re coming from inside the pod.’

She sucked in a shocked breath and watched her Snoggle back away from the pod, then ran up to the pod and started pulling on the door.

“Hold on, Mama, I’m coming for you!” Gresha cried out. When she couldn’t get the pod to open, she pounded on it.

“Gresha, calm down,” Leih said as he pulled her away from the pod.

“But it’s my fault she’s in there. I didn’t protect her,” Gresha said with a cry as she fell to her knees.

Leih went to his knees with her and held her. “It’s no one’s fault, but Neesah’s,” he said as he kissed her forehead. “I didn’t believe my mother could do such a thing until I saw her come up behind Gwyneth. You were only three, Short Stack. You couldn’t have saved her, any more than any of us could have.”

“But I tried,” Gresha said with a cry. “When Neesah had hold of my mother, I tried to push my mist over my mother, but it wouldn’t move. Then when she stabbed her and came after me, my mist surrounded me, and I didn’t even move it,” she cried louder, almost screaming out the words.

“None of us truly understand our gifts, Sister,” Pilar said with a frown.

‘Tell them what I heard.’

Gresha nodded to her Snoggle. “Matrios said he heard the heartbeats coming from inside the pod.”

Stalson listened for an extra heartbeat and heard more than just one, but that couldn’t be. “I hear a heartbeat other than ours,” he said, looking at Gresha.

Pilar and Gio looked at each other. Gio searched the room for controls to the pod while Pilar tried pulling on the pod’s door.

“Looks like she had locked it for a hundred years,” Stalson said as he moved over to the pod and read the year on the door.

“Sounds like she had planned to have her released when she married Leih off to Nahla,” Claireisa said, looking at them.

“That’s sick,” Masorien said with a shake of his head, “even for Neesah.”

Gresha got to her feet and moved to the pod and looked in at her mother’s peaceful face. “Matrios,” she said without taking her eyes off her mother’s face.

‘Yes, Princess?’

“My mother is an Earthling. You said you hear heartbeats, not heartbeat. How many do you hear?”

Everyone sucked in a shocked breath as they looked from Gresha to Matrios.

‘I hear, four heartbeats.’

“Oh my Gods,” Gresha breathed as she backed away from the pod and looked at her husband. “Leih, pull that door off that capsule.”

“As you wish, my princess,” Leih said with a grin.

“What did he hear?” Pilar asked, moving to stand next to his sister.

Leih took hold of the door and pulled with all his strength. When it came unhinged, he fell backward with the door in his hands, Gio caught Gwyneth when fell forward.

“He heard four heartbeats,” Gresha said as she watched her father hold her mother in his arms.

“She’s breathing,” Gio whispered with tears in his eyes. “Oh Gwyneth,” he cried, holding her close. She smells just as he remembers.

“Mama,” Gresha whispered, moving closer to her parents.

“Gio?”

Gio pulled back and watched his wife’s eyes flutter open and stared into her beautiful eyes. “Gwyneth,” he choked as tears ran down his cheeks.

Everyone stared at her, stunned. Gwyneth lifted her hand to touch her husband’s cheek and pulled her hand back wet.

“You’re crying,” she whispered.

“We do that a lot, now,” he said, smiling down into her beautiful face. He never thought he would ever hear her voice again. He lowered his head until his forehead touched her breasts.

“What happened?” she asked, trying to look around her. “Where are we?”

“Neesah stole you from us. We have been trying to find you,” Claireisa said as she moved closer to her queen, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Claireisa?” Gwyneth asked, looking over at her bodyguard.

“Yes, my queen,” Claireisa said, then got to her knee and bowed to her queen.

Gwyneth tried to stand and lost her balance. Gio continued to hold her, pulling her against his chest.

“You’ve been asleep for a long time, Tiey Vail. Try not to move so much,” Gio said as he kissed her forehead.

Gwyneth turned in Gio’s arms and smiled at her family. “Where are the children?” she asked, looking around the room.

“Nahla is with your sister,” Gio said as he leaned down and kissing her cheek. He couldn’t get his fill of kissing her. He wanted to do more but knew she was too weak, just yet.

“And Gresha?” she asked, looking up at her husband.

“I’m here, Mama,” Gresha choked and stared at her mother.

Gwyneth turned and stared at the woman before her. That couldn’t be her little girl. The woman moved closer with a smile on her beautiful face. When she got close enough, Gwyneth sucked in a shocked breath. No one but her Gresha has those eyes.

“Gresha,” she cried, holding her arms out to her daughter.

Gresha burst into tears and ran into her mother’s arms and held onto her. Gio held onto them as he kept his wife from collapsing.

“How long was I asleep for?” Gwyneth asked as she looked up at her husband.

“Just over twenty-one years,” Gio said as he kissed her forehead.

“I missed my baby girl growing up,” Gwyneth cried, holding her daughter close.

“So did I, Tiey Vail. After you died, we erased everyone’s memories. Gretchen and Garrett raised her,” he said as he smiled down at his beautiful daughter. “And they did a wonderful job.”

“But she’s our Gresha,” Gwyneth said, holding Gresha’s arms up and looked at her markings.

“She is now,” Gio said with a nod. “That’s a long story, they will have to tell you, after Pilar looks you over.”

“Mama,” Gresha said, looking into her mother’s face.

“You’re calling me Mama,” Gwyneth said, smiling at her daughter.

“Well, I figure I’m too old for mommy. And I like it better than mom,” Gresha said with a smile.

“Hey,” Pilar complained.

“Pilar,” Gwyneth said, smiling at her stepson, holding her arms open to him.

He rushed to them and held onto his stepmother and sister. Gio sighed and wrapped both his large arms around his family.

“We should get going,” Leih said, then cleared his throat.

“He’s right,” Gio said with a nod.

“How do we get past that black hole?” Tenyar asked, looking around.

“I’m not going through that again,” Gresha said, pulling away from her mother.

“We won’t need to,” Stalson said from the other side of the room, “there’s a lift here.”

“Why didn’t we just take that down here?” Pilar asked as he moved over to the lift.

“Because it’s a one-way lift,” Stalson said, looking at the controls.

“Great,” Masorien said as he messed with the controls. “We have one lift before it resets itself,” he said, looking at his family.

“Will we all fit in it?” Leih asked, moving to look inside the small room once Stalson and Pilar got it open.

“If we hold the women and our breaths,” Stalson said, looking at his family with a smile.

Gio lifted his wife into his arms and smiled down into her face; she smiled back up at him. Stalson walked over to Claireisa and lifted her into his arms, then smiled and kissed her.

Leih walked over to Gresha and lifted her into his arms. She smiled as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“They’re still close,” Gwyneth whispered, smiling up at her husband.

“They’re married,” Gio whispered into his wife’s ear.

“By the Gods,” Gwyneth whispered as she peeked around him to stare at her daughter and Leih. “Her choice?”

“Yes, Tiey Vail. She was still Gretta when it happened. With no memories of each other, they fell in love,” Gio informed her with a smile.

“Good,” Gwyneth said with a smile, “that was all I wanted for her.” She sighed and laid her head on his shoulder.

“Come on, Mom, Father,” Pilar groaned from the back of the lift.

Gio turned and walked to the lift. He tried to squeeze in, but there wasn’t enough room for his large frame.

“Tenyar,” Gresha said as she looked at her bodyguard. “Can you get on Matrios’s back?”

Tenyar grunted with a nod as he climbed onto the back of the Snoggle. The others moved into the space he had vacated so Gio could squeeze into the lift.

“What in the world is that?” Gwyneth asked, staring at Matrios.

That Tiey Vail is a Snoggle. The most dangerous beast on Sobrieh,” Gio said with a grin.

“What is it doing with us?” Gwyneth asked as she continued to stare at the huge dog-like creature.

“He belongs to our daughter,” Gio said with a laugh.

Gwyneth looked at her daughter in Leih’s arms, who was smiling at the beast as she scratched behind his ear. The beast seemed to enjoy it; his eyes were closed, and his tongue almost hung out of his mouth. And she could swear the creature was grinning.

She turned and looked at her husband. “The most dangerous beast on Sobrieh?” she asked with one eyebrow raised.

Gio turned and looked at his daughter and the beast, then burst into laughter. “We always knew our daughter was special, Tiey Vail,” Gio looked into his wife’s eyes, his own eyes sparkling with love and adoration for his wife and daughter.

“She is the first Sobriehton to tame a Snoggle.”

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