She doesn't have a memory, a name, or a past, yet she somehow knows his name. He doesn't know her, yet feels that he has seen her, held her before. But he also fights to forget the past, so he'll never have to recall what he lived through. She slowly begins to win his heart, but can he trust himself to love again?
The silver tears made barely a sound when they hit the cold wood. The dark eyes that shed them were closed tightly in shame, yet also burned with fury. He had just witnessed his best friend die, and had been the only one to hear his last words. "Please, take care of my family…" every sound had cut deeply into his heart, increasing the rage he felt toward Jon's killer. The others had all ruled it an accident, but there was no way the arrow's course could have been altered by the wind, as there had been none. Jonathan Brisby had been a great mouse, freeing his comrades from their prison at NIMH; without him they would have either died in the shafts, or been forced to go back. And now he was gone.
That monster, the words were directed at a Genre, the worst family in the colony. Their father, Jenner, was known to be black-hearted, but no one ever thought that he'd corrupt the minds of his children, as well as their hearts. His oldest, Cadrian, was almost his mirror image, aside from his mother's brown eyes and soft fur. He had been the one to steal Jon from their world. He was an archer, one of few the guard had, and an excellent shot. He 'd been outside practicing with the others, when'd noticed Jonathan going toward a large rock. They all knew that his home lay beneath it, and that he had three young children. His wife, a lovely mouse of normal blood, was pregnant with a fourth. He would never meet his youngest.
The shaft had missed the target, instead slicing through Jon's neck, nearly tearing his head from his shoulders. Blood had instantly begun pooling beneath him, his gasps growing weak as his heart slowed in its beating. Justin had been unable to stop it, but had arrived just in time to hear his last words. He'd whispered them, letting go of his final breath. Though he'd been furious, Captain Andrews knew it would only bring trouble if he'd confronted Cadrian then. He'd had to wait until night, when the self-defense training courses gave him the opportunity. Genre was his normal partner, and he'd just barely avoided a broken neck. Because of his size people often forgot just how dangerous their Captain could be, especially when enraged. But Cadrian wasn't the only killer they had in their midst.
Why did I let it control me? His body shook, mind bringing up vivid images of tattered, wrangled bodies coated in blood, their lifeless eyes held in frozen expressions of terror. Only they knew death's true identity. But that had happened years ago, just days after they had first found this bush. They hadn't known about the cat then, so the deaths had all been ruled as accidental. But that's in the past, he told himself. Now he had other things to worry about. They haven't found out. I hope to God they never will. He couldn't think about that now, though, as there was something else begging for dominance in his thoughts. It was the Brisby family. How could they possibly be told of his death, especially without being approached directly? Jonathan had kept this all from them: the rosebush, the rats, NIMH, and had even ordered, just days before his demise, that none of them were to approach her. She could only be told if she came here herself. Yet none of them had any idea just how this could occur. It was Ages who had come up with a complicated, if not somewhat cold-hearted plan. He would use one of his latest "failures".
The idea had been to create a syrup that cured diseases and some viral infections. It worked, but then somehow seemed to worsen them instead. He remembered that Timothy, one of the Brisby children, had developed a harsh cough in recent days, and that it hadn't yet left. The eldest, Martin, had gone to the thresher, where Ages had made his home, without his mother's knowing. He had then told the old mouse of his brother's infliction. Ages had given him the syrup, saying that the cough would vanish in just a few days, then was not at all shocked when she came by, saying Timothy's condition had worsened. The cough had escalated into a bad case of pneumonia.
Remember, old boy, he told himself repeatedly. It was for the greater good. He'd given her powder, told her how to administer it, then had hurried off to the rosebush, telling Nicodemus that she would most likely soon be coming to their domain.
"We can't let her know what really happened," he whispered urgently. The old rat nodded, deciding to spin a lie he knew that she'd believe: that her husband had been eaten by the farmer's cat, Dragon. It was the best they could do, as she'd come just a day after it had been written. Exactly three months after Jon's death. It was the same story they'd spread to the colony, until everyone believed it had been a horrid accident, even those who had witnessed it. When she arrived, only four people knew the truth: Justin, Mr. Ages, Cadrian, and Nicodemus. But nothing could have prepared them for what happened later that night.