By Aurora Black
What would you do for love? How hard would you fight to hold on? When Claire Ballard first sets eyes on Jack Tanner, she knows he's the man she's been waiting for her entire life. Their life together is like a fairytale, until the unexpected happens and tears them apart -- but not forever. Jack has longed to return to his wife Claire after so long an absence, and he has sworn revenge on the man who ruined his life. With the help of a magical book, both the couple's reunion and his vengeance are at hand, but at a terrible price. Is their love strong enough to defeat an ancient evil?
The tiny chapel stood on the hill, the surrounding oak trees almost completely shielding it from outside view. The woman in white paced beside their majestic trunks while taking the sweet country air into her lungs, her expression wistful as she remembered the first time she'd visited this tranquil spot. She was no more than six or seven years old at the time, and she'd claimed it as her special place where she could play and dream about the future. Now, she was getting married there to the love of her life, and she couldn't have been happier.
The bride could hear the soft crunch of grass behind her. She turned around and came face to face with Jack's breathtaking eyes. They glittered in the morning sun as their owner smiled at her, and her breath caught.
"Hey, I thought I'd find you out here. Everyone's waiting inside."
Claire's own smile dissolved. Her groom cupped her flawlessly made-up face in his hand, and she wanted to weep at his tender touch. Jack's concerned voice broke through. "What's wrong, babe? It's not too late to call things off if you're having second thoughts about marrying me."
She shook her head emphatically, her elegant and complicated wedding hairstyle threatening to unravel. "NO! I mean, no. Jack, I'm not backing down. Shortly after we met, I knew you were the one for me. Please, never doubt that. I just needed a moment alone for some fresh air, andů"
Jack stepped closer, the front of his tuxedo lightly brushing against her bridal gown's bodice.
"What, Claire? You know you can tell me anything."
"Promise you won't laugh?"
He raised his hand in the air, performing a three-finger salute. "Scout's honor."
A laugh escaped her lips. "Were you seriously ever in the Boy Scouts, Jack?"
His grin was pure mischief as he looked down at her. "No, can't say that I was." Their laughter quickly died off, and the mood was serious again. Jack bent to place a gentle kiss on her parted lips, careful not to smudge her lipstick. "But you can still tell me."
Claire took a deep breath before replying. "I had a nightmare last night, about you and me. Something terrible happened. I don't know what, exactly, but I recall a tremendous sense of loss and despair. We were walking together along some road, and then we were separated by a thick fog. That's the only way I can describe it. I kept calling out to you, reaching for you, but you were no longer with me. I never want to go through that again, dream or not."
A tear escaped her eye, and Jack lovingly wiped it away with his thumb. "You never will, not if I can help it. Now let's go inside before our guests form a search party, and after all is said and done, we can begin our lives together as man and wife. Are you with me, love?"
He held out his hand for her to take, and Claire laced her fingers with his. "Let's do it."