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Authors: Lydia Michaels

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Romantic Erotica

Called to Order (2 page)

BOOK: Called to Order
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Adam sighed and forked his fingers through his hair. “It is true, I have had dreams.”

“And the dizzy spells?”

“I have been a bit
dormlich
lately, yes.”

Cain shook his head at his brother’s cavalier attitude. “Do you not understand what that means, Adam?”

“It means nothing.”

“It means you’re being
called
,” Cain snapped.

Adam rolled his eyes. “That’s one possibility, not the only—”

“It is the only explanation. Our kind does not dream when we sleep, and you well know it! Don’t think I didn’t realize you spent the entire day in the barn as well. I suppose the sun is bothering you, too. And what of your appetite? You are a fool to think you can ignore such symptoms and go unpunished. You must tell Father.”

“I must do nothing, and you will not say a word,” Adam snapped defensively, surprising his brother.

Cain’s look of shock only lasted a brief moment. The right side of his mouth kicked up into a devious grin. “You are afraid.”

“I am not afraid. I just do not want to add more burden to Father’s back.”

“No, Adam, you are afraid. I can sense it.” His brother laughed at him. It wasn’t that Adam was frightened. He simply felt the timing for such testimony could not have been worse. His mother was weak and recovering from a miscarriage, and her condition was taxing all of them, especially his father. “What have you dreamt that has you so scared, brother?”

“I told you, I am not scared.”

Cain laughed at his denial. “Of a mere mortal. Oh, she must be a looker to have you grasping for such excuses not to track her. Tell me, is she hideous? Is she pocked in the face?”

“Don’t be an
aesel.
I have not seen her yet, but from the images in my dream I
kenn
she is the farthest thing from hideous.”

“And you call me the
aesel?
If she is so delectable, then it is you, brother, who is the jackass. What are you waiting for? Go collect your human and get on with the bonding.”

“It is not that simple.”

“Well, let me simplify it for you then. How long do you expect to be able to fool the others, another day, maybe two? You are suffering bouts of vertigo, the sun has obviously become bothersome to you, and eventually your appetite will dwindle. Without the substitute of food, you will become ravenous for blood. Only animal blood will no longer do. You will crave the blood of a human, your human. How long do you think you can control those urges before you turn
feeish?”

The idea of becoming more animal like than human did not appeal to Adam. Their kind had learned long ago to survive among the humans, and they were of a docile and gentle people. They limited their exposure to the ever-changing modern world and preferred the simpler lifestyle of those of the Amish. They survived off blood and sustained themselves with food, but fed only from the blood of animals and never glutted themselves at another creature’s expense. They did not kill unnecessarily.

Being perceived as Amish, whether in truth or illusion, provided an undisturbed cover for The Order. This was something every member wanted to maintain. And for the most part, they all followed the same creed, all creatures of God held an inherent worth. The Order had a right to share this earth as much as any other species.

What Cain said was true. They had seen it in the past. When a member of The Order was
called
,
there was only a limited time to form the bond. If time ran out, the hunter inevitably became the hunted.

Those who missed their calling were labeled the
unanswered
.
If too much time passed and they had yet to find their mate, their soul was doomed. They
were said to first go mad, no longer making rational choices but rather being driven by an insatiable bloodlust. But no blood, other than the blood of one’s true mate could subdue such thirst. However, at this point the
called
had gone so long
unanswered
that
they were now more beast than man. Their baser instincts would cause them to no longer hunt for their mate through intellect and probability. Instead, they simply eliminated everything in their path until they happened across their mate. It was a situation that could spiral into mass genocide, an outcome The Order could not abide. Thus, the hunter must be hunted down and destroyed.

There was one rule among The Order that was not to be broken. Their kind was not to risk exposure. Members who revealed their species to the world at large faced the consequences. Such irresponsible acts were punishable by death. There was only one exception to the rule, answering the
call
of one’s mate.

Among their race there were marriages and then there were blood-bonded mates. Where marriages were usually conducted out of convenience and for the purpose of procreating future generations, they sometimes, as in the case of his parents, were simply done for love. However, unbonded married couples always ran the risk of someday being
called
by their true mate, a possibility many married couples of their kind chose not to think about. Such an occurrence would destroy the peace of established families. Once
called
there would be no choice in the matter. By the act of a far greater power, there would be no other option but to follow the
call
and claim one’s true mate. There was no outmaneuvering such a fate.

It was a delicate undertaking, finding and retrieving one’s mate. There was the ever-present risk of exposure. Then there was the question if said mate would choose to abandon his or her familiar life for a life of the unknown. It was a task that required tact and instinct. Mates were the other half of the soul, the missing piece God intended for you and you alone. When a member of The Order was
called
,
it was a silent awakening, one that others could not sense, a rightness that led them to their mate who was just as unaware of this destiny as all others.

Throughout history there had been stories of mates blood-bonding by way of everything from moments of lust to violent acts of rape. It was said that intended, called-upon mates would eventually feel the rightness in each other, but sometimes there was not time for romance. Your mate was your salvation, but he or she could only save you if you shared the blood-bond before the beast inside took control of the mind.

In the few instances that a
calling
was not fulfilled, perhaps because the human mate remained elusive, the outcome was always devastating.
Adam was sensible enough to know he did not want to wind up as a lost soul, as one of the unanswered. There was no hope for the
unanswered
.
Even one’s mate could not reverse such damage to the mind once this point was met.

Adam accepted the gravity of the situation once and for all. He sighed and gave his brother his sincere promise. “I will not let it come to that, Cain. On that you have my word.”

Cain nodded once, trusting his brother’s word. “Good, now get your
nockich
self out of my face.” Adam looked down and remembered he was naked. “How you expect to charm your mate with a wee little tool like that is beyond me,” Cain joked.

Adam playfully shoved his brother and darted toward the water, “To insult me you only insult yourself, twin. We are, after all, identical.” He vaguely heard Cain yell something in his direction just as his body plunged into the water. Stifling all sound and filtering the remaining rays of the sun, the cool water soothed his skin as his body plunged to the soft floor of the lake, touching down and propelling him back to the surface. By the time he wiped the drops of water from his eyes, Cain was gone.

By the time Adam emerged from the lake, the sun had set, making it a more pleasant walk home. He was sure he had by now missed the supper bell yet chose to enjoy his walk back to the farmhouse. The previously vivid-green lawns now appeared blue, dappled in shades of silver from the moon. He took the time to appreciate the land as he walked.

Adam loved their farm. The brown and green patchwork countryside tucked neatly within the northern Pennsylvania mountains provided him with a sense of peace. The ways of the English world were foreign to him. He could not imagine how the elders saw modern society. Adam was a young thirty-seven years old, a baby in the eyes of a species that never aged past adulthood. As he watched the blades of grass in the distant fields ripple like waves under the caress of the warm summer breeze, a prickling sensation crept along his skin. Whatever it was made him think of honeysuckles. His body was changing. Whatever was happening to him, he only could hope would not linger. He wanted this inevitable journey over before it began, returning him and his mate to his beautiful home as quickly as possible.

Living on an Amish farm of over eight hundred acres with only nine families of their kind offered plenty of space. The farm was divided into territories the members respected. Offspring lived with their parents until they, themselves married or mated. At which point new houses were erected and funds were transferred to help the new couple establish themselves. While some unbonded members of The Order chose never to marry, but rather wait centuries to be
called
, others grew weary of the close quarters and eventually requested placement with a female of The Order. Adam, still considered young, never gave marriage much thought. While Cain preferred to sample the many willing females of The Order, he made no mention of ever taking a wife.

Their eldest sister, Larissa, had been placed with a husband a little under a year ago. It seemed a tidy and fairly simple arrangement. A man named Silus Hostetler expressed an interest in courting Larissa. Shortly after their courtship began and the couple felt they were compatible enough, he requested the elders’ permission to marry her. The wedding took place at their family home, the second Tuesday after harvest. The couple shared Larissa’s bed that evening and moved into their new home the following day. The only thing Adam could find fault with was how little he now saw his eldest sister.

Adam removed his hat as he entered his home. “It’s about time,” his sister Grace scolded by way of greeting. “You know some of us are
fahoongart
.”

Some, not all, Adam thought, hoping he could eat at least some of the meal. He brushed a kiss on Grace’s cheek, apologizing for his tardiness.

“I told you he would be late. I don’t know why we have to wait for those who do not even have the decency to be on time in the first place,” Cain griped as he reached for a still-steaming dinner roll, which their mother quickly slapped out of his hand.

Abilene Hartzler, mother of four, was not a soft touch. However, Adam knew the ones who had to fear her wrath most in this world were those who stood in the way of her family’s happiness. She was as gentle as their kind came and a humble and devoted Amish woman, yet she could be fiercely protective of the ones she loved. Some felt she was too proud, but Abilene simply would tell them even God takes pride in his children.

Adam watched as Cain feigned a wounded look at his mother’s swat and took heart in the playful exchange the two shared. She was starting to come around, but Adam still noticed the dark circles under her eyes and the paleness of her skin. She was still not sleeping or feeding as much as she should be. The last time she lost a babe it had taken a little over a year for her to regain her normal vigor and beauty. This time she had miscarried early, only in the fourth month of her gestation. Adam hoped the shortened period during which she carried the babe would decrease her length of recuperation.

Although he only had three siblings, his mother had been pregnant eight times. And being that he and Cain were twins, she only experienced three successful births. It wasn’t her age. Although Abilene was seventy-eight, she looked no more than twenty-five. Her body was, like all of their kind, at the peak of its health. Yet, for some reason, after she had given birth to Grace, twenty-one years ago, she had ceased to create new life, something their ancestors had been known to do well into a millennia.

Adam did not miss the sudden down casting of his mother’s eyes as his father, Jonas, entered the room. All merriment was silenced as he joined the family and they offered a silent prayer of thanks for their meal.

Marriage among The Order was a private arrangement. Even the children of a married couple were not privy to the personal decrees agreed upon between a mother and father. There was English law, which rarely interfered with the Amish, thus providing a veil between their species and humankind, then there were the laws of their faith and the laws of each Amish order, and lastly there was family law, the rules by which a husband and wife chose to govern their home and honor their marital duties. All laws were widely understood by even the youths of The Order, except for those privately established between a man and a wife. The Order saw mating as a gray area, a varying experience that each newly mated couple should navigate for themselves so long as they were not breaking any higher laws.

BOOK: Called to Order
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