Keep reading for a chapter of Undeniably Chosen, a Significance novel!
Kerrigan wrote this song, Significant, inspired by the first book in the Significance series, in 2013. With a keyboard, she put it up on YouTube and sent me a link, telling me she wrote a song for the book and I could check it out if I wanted to. Well, I did check it out…and spent the next hour boo-hooing like a big baby.
I shared it on my page and you guys were pretty shocked at how awesome it was. So, a year and half later, here we are and Kerrigan’s amazing song is available for you. Relive Maggie and Caleb’s first moments together as they realized that fate was coming for them in the best way.
Unexplainable, yet so significant…
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Now, a chapter from Undeniably Chosen
a Significance novel
(This is an unedited, uncorrected chapter. There may be errors and things are subject to change.)
“So, you see, we never meant for any of this to happen. We never meant for you to spend your life with them, the Watsons,” my mother said carefully. “We never meant for anyone to get hurt. We’re only sorry we didn’t make it in time…to save your mother.”
Seth stiffened beside me a second before his phone went off. It was a short, sharp, loud ringtone. He apologized and mumbled something about it having to be loud enough to wake him up at night at the fire station as he looked at the text message. I wasn’t trying to invade his privacy, but I heard it loud and clear in my mind as he read it over and over in his mind. He stared at it for a few long seconds before shaking his head and then tucking it in his pocket.
Have you finished with her yet?
He looked up with a grimace at my mother and I felt all his emotions at once. Anger, abandonment, happiness, jealousy, sadness, appreciation that they had tried, but they had failed. It wasn’t enough. He had lived in a certain kind of hell his whole life and the fact that they had been right there and he was the only one not rescued was like a slap in the face.
I however couldn’t stop thinking about that text. Have you finished with her? What did that mean and who had sent it? It was obvious it was about me. So he had told his family—the Watsons—about me. And now they were texting wanting to know if he was finished with me? What did that even mean?
His warm hand covered mine and I looked up to see him watching my freak out. He looked concerned and shook his head. “It’s not what you think. I did tell them and they’re really happy for me. For us. They wanted me to bring you to meet everyone tonight.”
Everything stopped, especially when Mom’s breath caught and the glasses of sweet tea on the coffee table started to shake. Seth leaned back a bit, having his first taste of my mom’s powers. Tea sloshed on the table as Dad’s hand came up and cupped her cheek. “Baby, everything’s okay.”
“Caleb,” she begged him for something that I didn’t understand. Maybe she didn’t either. “I didn’t understand what it meant until now. She’s his significant. That means he’s going to take her to—”
“No,” Dad argued, and it was evident that he meant it. He looked over at Seth and I started to say something to get him to tame his look, but he went on before I could. “She won’t be going to the Watson’s with you, Seth. I know they’re your family and I know that it’s…customary for significants to meet the families, but with our history with them I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Seth’s jaw tightened. “They didn’t think it was a good idea for me to come here either, especially alone. They said it wasn’t safe for me, that you’d hold a grudge against them, even after all this time, might try to hurt me. But I had to come. I wasn’t going to let Ava suffer because of it.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Mom huffed. “I have a distinct suspicion that what you think happened in the past and what actually happened are two very different things.”
Seth stood, taking his hand with him. I felt his absence in my blood like ice. “I didn’t have the best life. I’m not going to stand here and pretend that my family is all peaches and cream. They have their problems. We weren’t perfect by any means, but they were all I had. They took me in when no one else would and have kept me this whole time—”
“They took you, Seth,” Mom told him. “Taking you and taking care of you are two different things. You and your mother were…kidnapped and experimented on.”
He scoffed and moved away from me around the table. “Now this is just too much.” He looked at me, then at Mom before his eyes settled on me once more. “Ava, I know you don’t like my family, but you can’t expect me to believe that they—”
“A lot of things happened before we were born,” I said softly.
He shook his head, so Mom forged on. “Their powers were taken away.” It didn’t escape me how she left out the part where she had taken their powers. “But even before that, they practiced with potions and blood magic, alchemy, things they had no business messing with. Your Uncle Sikes was the worst of them. He started all this. He made himself a…significant.”
“What?” Seth groaned in disbelief.
“He forced an imprint on a human woman, in a sense faking a bond with a potion he gave her. You would never have known. She got the tattoo, they were significants, they healed each other with their touch and he was protective of her. But it was never quite right. When their powers were taken because of the things they were doing, as punishment, they didn’t accept that and move on. They did the opposite. They began to practice alchemy even more and…” she shrugged, “we didn’t know in time. By the time we found out, it was too late. We’ve tried to keep a watch on them over the years, but since they fled the compound, we didn’t even know where they’d gone to.”
“Scattered,” Seth muttered, distracted. “We don’t live at the compound. It’s been abandoned for years. They use it to cellar wine for my cousin’s business.”
He stared at the floor, looking so dejected and lost. I hated that I was part of the cause of this. “Seth,” I whispered.
“I would know,” he argued with no one and gritted his teeth. “If my family was doing these unspeakable things you’re talking about, I would know. I’ve lived with them.”
I caught a flash of a memory from Seth from when he was a child, something he was trying to remember. A room, a woman, his mother maybe, a table or bed, a bunch of people gathered around her, but when he saw that I saw it, too, he pushed it away and glared at me.
“That doesn’t mean that it’s what you’re talking about!” he yelled, making me jump, my shoulders bunching. He sighed and swallowed. “I’m…I’m sorry. Do you have any idea how hard it was to come here tonight, knowing that you were all going to hate me for my name?” He laughed once with no humor. “And then be completely right?”
“We don’t hate you,” Mom soothed and stood, but she made no move toward him. I just sat down and stared at his hands. My body ached for him, for his touch, his comfort. Our first day together and we were already fighting and yelling. This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen. I felt awful that my significant felt so alienated.
I felt the drop of a warm tear on my hand before I even realized I was crying. I wiped it away and looked up to find Seth had done a complete one-eighty. Apparently, seeing that tear had done him in. With my family there watching, he didn’t care a lick. He came and knelt at my feet. His warm hand wrapped around the back of my calf while the other came and went straight to my cheek. I sucked in a short, quick, embarrassing breath when his skin hit mine. He on the other hand let out the tiniest of groans. His thumb swept under my eye twice and he watched his movements as he cleaned up every drop.
“Ava,” he said my name under his breath, “this whole time I’ve selfishly been pouting about how this was effecting me and my family. I’m so sorry. This involves you and your family, too. No matter what happened in the past, that doesn’t matter now. I’m sorry I yelled at you.” He squinted, as if that caused him pain to think about. It was fascinating to watch. “Can we just move forward, please? We found each other.” He looked down and smiled before looked back up. “I found you. And I trust that more than I trust anything. So no matter what happens, this is meant to be. You’re mine now. So can we just start over and pretend that today never happened?”
I found myself smiling, then I was biting my lip to contain the smile. And then he did the strangest thing. He took his thumb and tugged down, freeing my lip from my teeth.
“You shouldn’t ever try to stop that smile,” he said softly, but his own crooked smile was coming through. His thumb moved against my cheek and I felt my eyelids flutter from the pleasure. When I opened my eyes again he looked ready to keel over. He crawled closer, which was almost impossible which mere inches between us. “Ava,” he whispered. His phone buzzed with another text and he remembered the one he’d gotten earlier. The look of awe vanished from his face and I cursed whoever it was who was texting him. He leaned back a little. “Ava, we really do need to talk before—”
The back door slammed open, revealing several dark-haired men who rammed their way in before I could even think. Seth had stood and thrown me behind him on instinct, but then he realized who it was. “Uncle Gaston?”
The tall, slender man stared at me over Seth’s shoulder like a prize and had the audacity to smile. “Seth, you’ve done marvelous. We’ll take it from here.”
My heart stopped. Seth’s hand tightened on my wrist, but he didn’t turn around to look at me. He spoke to his uncle again. “Gaston,” Seth said calmly, which was doing nothing to make me feel better about things, “what are you doing here?”
“It’s okay, Seth,” he soothed and smiled at him. “You did good, son.”
“What do you…?” Seth peeked back at me, squinting, and then looked back at his uncle. “You thought I couldn’t handle this? You thought they’d hurt me? Gaston, I told you they wouldn’t. She’s my significant. The family feud between you has to stop.”
“We’re here now. You don’t have to keep this up.” I felt my heart tug painfully at his words. Seth gripped my wrist tighter to keep me from running.
“Gaston, what are you doing?” he growled in a voice I’d never heard from my significant’s lips.
Gaston pulled a bottle from his inside jacket pocket and held it up in front of his face. He kissed it and then grinned as he tossed it toward his Visionary. She gasped and tried to use her power to stop it, holding her hands out in front of her. But it didn’t work. She seemed surprised, her mouth parting and holding open in a silent scream as she awaited the fate of that bottle. Daddy gripped her arm and swung her behind him just as it smashed into his chest.
She screamed just as I did. Seth’s tight grip held steady on my arm to keep me safely behind him even as he barked at his uncle angrily, asking him what was going on.
“It’s like I’ve always told you, Seth,” he told him calmly, but I wasn’t watching him. I was looking at my father as he watched a hole in his shirt eat away and then the skin under it started to turn black. He looked up to Gaston for an answer, who just stared blankly. He returned his gaze to Seth and sighed. “The Watsons led a hard life because of the people in this room. We were never meant to scrounge and beg like humans. Virtuoso are a powerful people with powerful blood in our veins.” He looked at my mother. “Did you really think we’d just lie down and accept your punishment?”
Seth jerked and looked at my mother, but she kept her gaze on Gaston. Dad didn’t look good and I worried about him. There was so much going on, I didn’t know what I should be focusing on.
Seth whispered, “Her? It was her that attacked you at the palace that day?”
“Seth, son,” Dad groaned, struggling to remain conscience as he bent to lean on the arm of the chair. Mom whimpered and could no longer keep up her pretenses of the strong leader in charge of things. She caved and rushed to lean down to him, never stopped touching him, but still kept looking back at Gaston as if he’d attack at any moment. I’d never seen my family so helpless. We were always the strong ones, the leaders, the ones all the other clans looked up to. And now the Watsons show up, supposedly with no powers at all, and now are able to lay flat my family with one vial?
Dad continued. “I doubt you have the whole story, in truth and in full. Remember that you only know what they’ve told you, what they want you to know.” Gaston growled in warning, but Dad pressed on. “There’s a reason that you bonded with my daughter. Remember that.”
Seth looked at me over his shoulder and I saw something different in his eyes now. It wasn’t reverence or the beginnings of love or wonder. It was suspicion. I felt as if he himself had reached up and slapped me. It was his family that had come in and attacked my family. I saw him flinch with that thought. It was his family that sent him a suspicious text earlier asking if he was ‘done with me yet’. He flinched again, seeing where I was going with this. It was his family who hurt my father, his family who barged in here as if on a mission, and his family who were now watching him like they were waiting for something. I backed away a little, pulling my arm from his grasp. His lips moved, saying he word ‘no’ but no sound left his lips. His eyes begged me as he finally understood the gravity of his actions, of his family’s actions. Whether he understood what was going on or not, he was taking a side right now. And it was ripping me in two that he wasn’t choosing mine.
Gaston looked at Seth and nodded. Seth shook his head as if he understood what he wanted but he didn’t want to do it. It was then I finally understood that my significant came here to betray me. A gut wrenchingly painful breath burst through my chest and out of my throat. The moan stopped Seth dead in his tracks and he moved to come to me, but I put my hand up to stop him.
“How could you?” I asked him which as much conviction as I could, but it came out a pathetic whimper.
He seemed to get it then and straightened. He seemed shocked and shook his head. He glanced back at his uncle and then back to me. “No, Ava. No. This isn’t what it looks like. Uncle Gaston came here to make sure I was okay. He…he was worried that your family was going to hurt me. I would never betray you this way,” he said angrily. “My family would never do that—the way you’re thinking—when they know that we’ve imprinted. They’d know what that would do to me.”
“Seth,” Gaston implored in an exasperated tone, “we need to be going. No more stalling.”
“Gaston,” he growled. “What are you doing?”
I felt his confusion, his anger, his need to protect me, but also his will and want to protect his family. I backed away another step away as his back was turned.
A member of his family that had fallen in the back of the room was getting up. Things were getting worse for us by the second. When Seth heard the noise behind him, he turned and lunged my way. I covered my head on instinct at the roar that erupted from him and the way he came at me. But nothing ever came. I opened my eyes to find Seth’s back in my line of sight. I peeked around him and saw the man glaring at him, his arm twisted in Seth’s grasp.
“Don’t ever touch her,” Seth told him in that voice I had heard before and I was so confused I didn’t know what to do or think. Was he with me or against me?
I felt arms go around my waist and gasped, but Rodney shushed me. “Come on,” he whispered into my hair, but Seth had already turned and started to lunge.
I held up my hand and he stopped immediately. He sighed seeing it was Rodney and then sighed again when he saw me back away another step. “Ava,” he begged. For what, I didn’t know. What did he want me to do in this situation?
Then his eyes rounded and his mouth opened to speak, but it was too late. I heard Rodney’s grunt and then he fell to the floor behind me as Mom screamed. I was yanked roughly by my hair as Gaston dragged me away from Seth who came for us.
“Uh, uh, uh, nephew.” He held something over my head. Seth’s eyes glued to it as he stopped. “I see that you’ve let the bonding and intensity of the situation get to you and that presents a problem for us.”
“She’s my significant,” Seth argued. “What did you expect? Would you let someone take Aunt Amy from you?”
He smiled. “You’re missing the point. You haven’t been with Ava. You don’t know her, you haven’t fallen in love with her, and my significant isn’t the daughter of the woman who destroyed our family,” he finished loudly. I couldn’t help but flinch. He pulled a little tighter on my hair, but it didn’t escape my notice how he made sure not to touch my skin. “This is it. This is our chance, what we’ve always talked about.” Seth paled—actually paled at his uncle’s words. “We’ve always said that when the time came we’d return the favor to the ones who destroyed us. You’re bonded with the Visionary’s daughter.” He grinned. “I see no more fitting restitution than that.”
“And what about me?” Seth asked calmly and seemed to throw a wall up in his mind. I got nothing from him. “While you’re torturing and doing whatever you plan to do to her, what about me? I’ll feel that, have to…deal with that.” He gulped, but kept looking at his uncle.
I looked away from him, completely disgusted. Even if he hadn’t come here to purposely ambush me, they had talked about ‘the family’ who had ruined his family all those years ago and apparently that trumped our bond. He was going to let them ruin us.
“Don’t worry, Seth,” his uncle was saying. “We have our ways of getting around the bond. We even have ways of creating a bond itself.” Seth seemed surprised by that, seemingly to have forgotten what we talked about before…or it seemed, but who knew what was real anymore. “We’ll take care of you. In the meantime, she’ll be at your disposal. Whenever you need her, or want her,” he tacked on with a grin, “she’ll be there.”
Seth gulped again and nodded. “That’s great, Gaston.”
Rodney woke up with a groan and scrambled up at seeing the scene, remembering where he was. His face was red with anger as he cursed and braced himself on the back of the couch. I tried to look at him, but couldn’t. Gaston turned us toward my parents and I could practically hear the smile on his face as he began to spew propaganda at them. I didn’t hear a word of it as my world crumbled around me. I just stood and tried not to crumble with it.
Rodney’s phone dinged with a text. He ignored it. It dinged again, and then again without waiting. He sighed and pulled it out, to turn it off I presumed, but then he stopped and looked at it. Then he started to text back. My mouth fell open and if I could have smacked him in the back of the head, I would have. Only my brother would be texting his buddies back in the middle of a Watson\Jacobson clan battle. What a jerk.
He slipped his phone back in his pocket and looked at me. He looked beyond angry, but there was something else. His eyes shifted left once before he mouthed for me to duck. I didn’t wait or think, I just trusted my brother. I yanked out of Gaston’s grip as fast and hard as I could. He had been holding me for so long that he has gotten careless and comfortable. I went easily, falling to the floor in a heap, my chin smashing into my knee. I hissed in pain, but before I knew it, Seth was smashing into his uncle from behind, toppling them over the coffee table to the floor. He punched his uncle just once and that was all it took for him to be out cold.
I heard some scuffling behind me, but couldn’t look away from Seth as he rushed to me on his knees across the floor.
“You’re hurt,” he breathed and took my chin in his fingers. His calm didn’t seep in and I wondered if our bond had been severed because my heart was broken. I pushed him away before I could find out or think too hard about it.
He sighed. “Let me help you.”
“You chose, didn’t you?” I asked softly.
“Ava, please. I need to get them out of here. Let me give you my touch before I have to leave.”
“Or you just want my touch for yourself before you go,” I said, but didn’t look up at him. I felt his fingers under my chin, but it was as if he knew exactly where to press to not hurt where it was aching. He lifted my face gently to make me face him. He was so close that our noses almost touched.
“Do you really believe that?” he asked, his voice gravelly and filled with unchecked emotion. I couldn’t answer him. Not only did I not have the answer, but I was afraid of being wrong and afraid of being right. Finally I felt his touch begin to sink into my skin. I was relieved and…so many emotions at once. I wanted him, but was it all chemical? Was it all something in my body that made me want him? What if he didn’t want me and I was stuck wanting someone who just wanted to use me? I sighed, letting his touch comfort me for now and heard his responding one, like he was waiting for me to accept his touch before he let himself accept it. “I have to leave, take care of some things,” he told me, pressing his forehead to mine. “I will be back. I’m so sorry for…” He leaned away and looked like there was a million things he wanted to say. Instead he leaned forward and kissed my forehead. I sucked in an embarrassing breath that I’m sure he enjoyed at my expense. “Don’t give up on me, Ava.”
With that, I watched him pick up his uncle from the ground and heft him over his shoulder. Rodney was dragging someone from the room and I realized the room was clear of everyone but us. My brother was outside with them and I felt a moment of panic before he came in the kitchen door and shut it. Or tried. The hinge was destroyed and wouldn’t latch. He gave up and put a chair in front of it to keep it closed and then gave me my phone. “Why do you—”
“Seth had it. Must have picked it up from the table at some point. He was the one texting me. He planned that little…move we pulled.”
I gasped and covered my mouth. “What?”
He slid down beside me on the wall. We looked over at Dad and Mom. Dad was already looking better so the poison apparently wasn’t deadly or permanent, but Mom had to stay with him. He was asleep with his head in her lap and she looked at us worriedly, listening, splitting her focus between us and Dad. Dad was going to be so pissed when he woke up. He hated when Mom had to take over. He wanted to protect her, always. It was in the Virtuoso man’s blood to.
Rodney sighed. “He got your phone off the table sometime during the night, texted me from it, and told me to take out his cousin behind him so he could take his uncle and you wouldn’t get hurt in the process. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what was going on, what he knew and didn’t know, okay? But I do know that he didn’t want to hurt you. He wanted to keep you safe.”
“How can you say that when—”
“He defied his family, who obviously thought he was going to be on board. His uncle’s plan was a bust. What do you think they’re going to do to him when they wake up?” I groaned and sucked in a breath without even realizing it at the thought. Oh, God… Would they hurt him? He covered my hand on my knee. “I’m just saying, he was ambushed as much as we were. He knew the Watsons and Jacobsons had beef, but he didn’t know that Mom was the one who took their powers. They left that little tid-bit out apparently. Why, I don’t know. He just thought he was going to have to be overcoming a little tiff, he never imagined he was going to have to deal with all that.”
I licked my lips. “He blocked his mind from me. Why would he do that unless he was guilty?”
“Maybe he didn’t want you to know what his plan was and give it away? I don’t know. I just know what he did, and what he did was defy his family and save you. They were planning on taking you away from us, Ava. Do you understand that?” he finished, his words slow and telling.
“Yes,” I said quickly.
“Wait—why didn’t he have to release you? Or vice versa?”
I sighed and almost smiled when I thought back to our conversation. “He did release me.” I grabbed my chest, feeling his heart beating next to mine as I worked so hard to feel him there, to feel him connected to me somehow, to know it was real. “He knew it was me that needed to be released,” I said in wonder, “and he knew I was already upset and freaking out so he said that he had to take care of some things but he would be back. I wasn’t even paying attention.” I sat there immobile and useless as my emotions overtook me.
“Turn on your phone,” he said and yawned as he put his head on my shoulder. “Lover boy said to tell you to open your text messages.”
I did as he said and there, in a message to no one, was an unsent text. It read: Don’t give up on me, Ava. Please…
I could do nothing but let Rodney wrap me in his arms and cry.
There is no official release date for this book, as you know. I’m shooting for the end of the year!
Best wishes and happy wishes,