Brink of eternity, p.1
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       Brink of Eternity, p.1

         Part #2.50 of Guardians of Ascension series by Caris Roane
 
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Brink of Eternity


  Chapter One

  While standing in her office, preparing to leave for the night, a vision came to Elise Jordan, a sequence of events that threatened the life of someone she knew. She tried to shut the images down, to stop the flow, something she could normally do. But this vision would not be denied. She saw it through to the end, which was not an end at all, just that point at which the woman, if left on her own, would surely die.

  Now she had a decision to make and a vampire to contact, something she had promised herself she would never do.

  Elise thrived on order and routine. She enjoyed having a firm schedule. She was the only person she knew who had a genial relationship with her alarm clock.

  Everything about this vision, however, invited chaos, the very thing she strove to avoid every day of her existence.

  She sighed. She didn’t really have a choice, not if she was to live with her conscience. Funny how her conscience, and not desire or drive or hope or even fear, would dictate her future. Just guilt. Good old-fashioned guilt.

  She finished up in her office, going through her ritual: wiping down the counters, checking the optical refractor, frowning because she needed to buy a new one, bringing forward the small trash can beneath her desk to make sure the building maintenance people found it and emptied it. She stared at the trash can. Would she even be here after the weekend?

  On Friday night, a single woman should be going out, maybe with girlfriends, maybe to a regular bar, meeting men, meetingnormalmen, not tracking down former vampire warrior boyfriends from other dimensions. Two or three expletives, a habit learned from said boyfriend, flowed through her mouth and hit the air.

  She took off her professional white coat, folded it up, and put it in her tote. She had a stock of coats so that she could rotate them through the cleaners. She never wore the same coat twice in a row. She liked everything fresh, clean, in its place, which meant that what she was about to do went against the grain.

  She never went against the grain. Except for Gideon. Gideon in all respects, in every sense, had been totally and irrefutably against the grain.

  The last one to leave, she set the alarm, then locked the door to the building. She had a thriving practice that she shared with several other optometrists. Imagine, a clairvoyant setting up shop as an optometrist. Talk about overkill.

  She headed to her car, her very sensible Audi, white, of course, against the endless months of strong Phoenix sunshine.

  Once inside, she buckled up. In April, the temp hovered in the mid-eighties during the day, so she needed a couple minutes of air conditioning to take the day’s heat off the vehicle. She started the engine and powered up the A/C.

  She sat for a minute staring through the windshield at nothing in particular. She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel. She took deep breaths. The hum of the motor and rush of air eased her nerves. Sort of.

  Oh, God. Was she really going to do this, open the lid to Pandora’s box, let out all that chaos?

  Courage, Elise.

  Whatever.

  She didn’t have a choice. She really didn’t. Someone’s life hung in the balance. If she felt the routine of her life slipping away, too bad.

  She sat back in the seat and withdrew her iPhone from her simple gray leather purse. She touched the screen and brought up Gideon’s number. She touched the screen again. The ringtone chimed along, not caring that she resented the hell out of this conundrum.

  “Elise, what’s wrong?”

  Oh, God his voice. So deep. Her body knew that voice, every varied resonant timbre. She rocked her hips forward, trying to get more comfortable, trying not to feel so damn much, trying to push all that sudden familiar desire away.

  “Elise?”

  “Sorry. ” Her voice sounded hoarse. “I never meant to use this number. ”

  “I know. But that’s why I gave it to you. Just tell me what’s wrong. ”

  “I had a vision. ”

  “What? Wait a minute. You … had a vision?”

  “Yes. Long story, that. ” She wanted him, just this once, to go with the flow. Fat chance. Neither of them really understood the concept offlow.

  “What do you mean you had a fuckingvision? As in, you saw the future?” Yep, no flow.

  She rolled her tongue around her mouth. More guilt. “In all our time together, I might have forgotten to mention that I’m clairvoyant. I get visions. I see the future. ”

  She heard him breathe for the space of eight long seconds. “You’re fucking clairvoyant and you’re just telling me now?”

  She had to pull the phone away from her ear. All those familiar expletives rattled through the airwaves and burned up the inside of her car. She sighed again. A cursed tear slid from her right eye. Another from the left made the same unhappy journey.

  “Can you be mad later?” she asked. “I don’t like this any more than you do. But I have something critical I need to tell you. ”

  Another eight seconds passed, filled with his muttering this time, deep and low. “Fine. ” Crisp, brittle, mad as hell. “Give. ”

  The issue rose up, a solid wall in her chest. She had nothing to give, except guilt. “I had a vision about your sister. About Rachel. ”

  “Fuck. ”

  She cut through another string of expletives. “Some really bad guys will be after her tomorrow at dusk; you know, longish dark hair, pale-bluish skin. You call them pretty-boys. ”

  “Elise, you’re killing me here. Are you saying what you’re saying? Are you telling me that you know about death vampires?”

  Dread worked claw-like fingers into her chest and grabbed hold. She really didn’t want to do this, to reveal the truth. “Yes, Gideon, I retained all the memories you believe you wiped. Death vampires, otherwise called pretty-boys because of their overall beauty, alignment of features, extraordinary power, long dark hair, and glossy black wings, evidence that these monsters drink people to death in order to get at the highly addictive dying blood. And they’re known as ‘boys’ because most death vamps are male, though women cross the line, too, just not as often. ”

  No seconds this time. “Shit. ” He repeated this word a few more times and again she pulled the phone away from her ear. She let him mull all these truths around, unspoken from the beginning of their relationship, that she knew all about the multi-dimensional world of ascension, that she had a boatload of preternatural power, and that she had never truly been honest with him.

  The long silence that followed brought a couple more tears.

  “Okay,” he said. “What exactly happens in this vision of yours?”

  “Three death vampires fly over a ridge of tall trees, pines maybe, or redwoods. I don’t recognize the place, but there’s a clearing, a small river, bigger than a stream, lots of rocks on the banks, hills, more trees, a real forest. And there are two bridges, small bridges. ”

  “You said this takes place tomorrow? How do you know?”

  “I just know. Late afternoon, almost at dusk. ”

  Long, long pause, “Meet me at the Blood and Bite. Tell me when you can get there. ” He didn’t ask. He commanded. But what else was new?

  “An hour and a half. I have to go home and change. ”

  “Fine. And Elise?”

  “Yes. ”

  “We’re going to talk. ”

  More commands, but then Gideon wasn’t just your average Militia Warrior serving Second Earth. He was high in the ranks, answering only to Colonel Seriffe, who headed the Militia Warriors in Metro Phoenix Two, and when the occasion demanded, the militia worldwide.

  This time, she paused. After a couple more deep breaths, she said, “I don
t want to, but I will. ”

  The time had come.

  Gideon hung up. He stared at his phone. Jesus, his hand shook.

  He stood in the stone foyer of his home in north Scottsdale Two, Second Earth, like a suit of armor, unmoving and rigid. He couldn’t even blink. He didn’t know which thought to have first, that Elise possessed previously unacknowledged preternatural power or that his sister faced certain danger.

  When some life started flowing back into his limbs, he touched the screen of his Droid a couple of times. He waited. His sister’s voice came on the line.

  “Hey, Gid. ” Okay, she sounded upbeat but he knew Rachel. She could front with the best of them, a family trait. She hid her unhappiness about living on Second Earth really well.

  He worked his jaw, then finally said, “You’re not thinking of doing anything foolish, are you?”

  When silence returned, he pressed the phone against his thigh, closed his eyes and shouted one long “fuck” at the ceiling. He drew his phone back up to his ear. “Please don’t, Rachel, I’m begging you. Don’t do it. How can I keep you safe if you do this?”

  “First, it’s not your job to keep me safe. I’m a big girl. Second, I don’t know what you’re talking about. ” The slight tinny quality to her voice failed to escape his ear.

  “Liar. ”

  “I’m late for my yoga class. ”

  “On Friday night?”

  “Why not?”

  He debated his next course of action for about three seconds. “You might be in trouble, as in big trouble. ”

  She laughed. “As in you’re giving me a Seer warning. ”

  “Maybe. ”

  “What?” She said it in that tone of hers, with the pitch angling up at the end. “Why would I show up in the future streams?”

  “More like a clairvoyant vision and no, I don’t really know the difference, but my source called it a vision. Beyond that, you know why. You have more power than you’ve ever admitted. ”

  “More Second Earth bullshit, brother. ”

  “I know you’re not happy here. ” Rachel believed that no human should even possess, not to mention make use of, any form of preternatural power, and she thought Second Earth, as anascended world at war, was one huge-ass piece of hypocrisy. She was intopeace andlove and vegan food. And she really hated that her own brother served as a Militia Warrior. So, yes, she was unhappy.

 
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