Kiera's Moon (Chapter Nine, page 2 of 13)

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Even the sight of him immortalized in paints made her chest tight and her knees weak. She hadn't realized what she felt for him until it was too late to tell him. She may have been a duty for him, but he'd been so much more … and Anshan… Her gaze went to her cold feet again. Anshan's energy had kept her feet warm, even on the rocky terrain. Grass had sprung up from boulders she touched, and she'd felt truly a part of her world for once in her life.

And now she had … nothing. She shivered and twisted to see the rest of her paintings. Talal, their home in exile, the canyon filled with hulking grey ships in the moonlight near Romas's home, the flower in the fountain of the sacred temple.

She missed them. She sat down at her desk and grabbed the waiting sketchpad. Food had become an overlooked stranger, and she'd found herself leaving her studio only for the bathroom and the bedroom. Otherwise, she drew and painted. Today, she returned to the drawing she started long ago on the portrait she had intended to give Evelyn for her wedding.

Her eyes watered as she recalled when she'd last worked on it, the night she was kidnapped. She'd thought that the worst night of her life until now. Wiping her tears, she concentrated on sketching.

The sun brightened up the studio a short time later, her reminder it was time for her midmorning walk. She'd forced herself to walk daily, if for no other reason than to keep her mind off the paintings and memories.

The Monterey mists were in full effect, filtering the sunlight. Moisture clung to her skin as she started down the familiar path to Lover's Lane. The ocean was hidden beneath the fog and the air chilled, so she walked fast until she warmed up. She was happy for the mist; it kept the seaside lovers off the Lane and made her feel more invisible. She'd been ignoring Kevin's calls for two days without caring he was the only person who could help her put food on the table.

She returned to the row house just as the sun began to burn off the mist and the blue sky appeared in the distance. Rather than feel energized by the activity, she felt more drained. She stood for a long moment in the cramped, silent foyer. An odd scratching sound came from the kitchen, like Evelyn's cat scratching at the door after it returned from its morning prowl.

Frowning, she went to the kitchen, worried Evelyn's cat found its way home from its adoptive parents up the street. Not that she wouldn't mind some company; the house was too quiet this morning, and her memories refused to leave her in peace.

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