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Fighting for infinity, p.14
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       Fighting for Infinity, p.14

           Karen Amanda Hooper
 

  “I’m envious. We could all use a trip to the islands.”

  Louise stopped bouncing Mikey on her lap. “Lloyd is certain Dedrick has it?”

  “They’re certain it’s gone. Who else would have taken it?”

  Helen brushed dirt from her hands. “This does not bode well.”

  I sat on the end of a lounge chair. “Have we confirmed who the keepers of the Earthstone are yet?”

  Helen shook her head. “Edgar has been searching the records, but their identity is veiled more thoroughly than any of the others.”

  “If only the other groups had done as well as them,” I said. “Then we might not be in this situation.”

  “We’ll keep searching.” Louise bounced Mikey again. “Someone out there knows more than they’re admitting.”

  TWO-FACED

  Maryah

  “What do you mean Evelyn came while I was gone?” I was panicking. Evelyn found out I wasn’t trapped. She knew I could return to my body. She would tell Dedrick.

  “She promised she wouldn’t tell,” Rina snapped.

  “She’s lying!”

  “Evelyn would never lie to me.”

  I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. Thankfully my soul didn’t need to breathe, but I was still feeling the physical sensations of real panic. Rina didn’t know I had seen Evelyn piloting Dedrick’s helicopter. She didn’t know Evelyn was helping him.

  Think, Maryah, think. What now? I had no idea. Dedrick would find out that Rina helped me escape and he would separate us. Then he’d do who knows what to punish us. I didn’t know how much time we had.

  “There’s no reason to be so scared,” Rina said.

  “I’m not scared,” I lied.

  “Yes, you are. I can see it in your aura. You’re pulsing with fear.”

  I tried planning my next move, but I didn’t know what to do. I needed more information. So much more information. “He’ll visit soon.”

  “Evelyn said he was delayed. He won’t be back until tonight.”

  We couldn’t trust Evelyn anymore. That much I knew for sure, but could I still trust Rina? Maybe I had been wrong in thinking I needed to help this girl. What if I was putting myself in jeopardy to help a stranger who might be Dedrick’s manipulative weapon against my kindrily and me?

  I needed to leave—travel back to my body and stay in it. The kindrily could figure out Dedrick’s plan some other way. I felt the need to sit down, but that was impossible.

  “Please stop,” Rina said calmly.

  “Stop what?”

  “Stop reacting so dramatically and losing control of yourself.”

  “I’m fine.”

  “And stop lying to me.”

  I almost denied I was lying, but that would be another lie, so I stayed quiet.

  “We’re supposed to be working together,” Rina said, “you and me.”

  “We are working together.”

  “Not for long if you can’t trust me.”

  “I already told you, I trust you as much as I can. I hardly know you.”

  She stepped closer. “Part of trusting me is communicating with me. You assume too much, and you keep information from me.”

  “I tell you what I think you need to know.”

  She smirked. “That should be the other way around.”

  “Because you know so much more than I do?”

  “Yes, I do.”

  It was my turn to smirk. I couldn’t expect her to know any differently. She’d been trapped in this room her whole life. She didn’t know what Evelyn did when she wasn’t in this room. “Rina, maybe you don’t know as much as you think you do.”

  “Or maybe you don’t.”

  We were at a stalemate. We’d have to agree to disagree.

  Rina tossed her hair behind her shoulders. “I’m about to offer you a sliver of knowledge—a sliver you could have already known and not been stressing about if you had simply communicated with me instead of suspecting I’m the enemy.”

  I felt guilty yet defensive at the same time.

  Rina continued before I could say a word. “Evelyn loves me. She does not lie to me. Just because you think you saw her somewhere doing something you think she wasn’t supposed to be doing, that doesn’t make her guilty.”

  How did she know?

  Rina stood on her tiptoes, trying to raise her face so it was level with mine. “You assume you saw Evelyn piloting Dedrick’s helicopter. You should have considered other possibilities. Given your family history, it’s amusing that it never crossed your mind. You actually saw Vivian, Evelyn’s twin sister.”

  Mikey’s sky-blue eyes flashed in front of me. How had I not thought of that possibility? Evelyn had a twin sister? They looked absolutely identical. But then again, how well had I really studied Evelyn’s features in detail?

  “Oh,” was all I could mutter.

  “Still believe you know more than I do?”

  My guard went up again. “Maybe we’re just knowledgeable about different things.”

  She smirked, but there was something cocky, almost sneaky behind it. “It’s bad enough you lie to me. Don’t lie to yourself. You’ve wasted a lot of time. Dedrick is progressing faster than expected. I need to take care of some important matters.”

  “What do you mean? Progressing with what faster? And what matters do you need to take care of?”

  She turned away. “I see. Now you want me to share all I know. Suddenly I might know more than you?”

  “I honestly don’t know.” My voice screeched with frustration. “I don’t know how to process everything that’s happening. It’s just so much to take in. I’m trying my best.”

  Her glare softened. “I know. I forget that sometimes. I’m sorry for all you’ve lost, but I’m doing the best I can too. I just thought you’d be more helpful.”

  “I want to help.” I leaned forward. “Tell me what to do.”

  “Rest. I’ll be back soon.” She sat on her mattress, bowed her head, and closed her eyes.

  “Rina?”

  She was gone. And I had an unnerving hunch that her destination was my body.

  ∞

  The panic I felt when Rina told me Evelyn had visited while I was gone was child’s play compared to what I felt when the lights went out.

  The candle flamed to life, and Dedrick stood before me. A whole new level of panic fought to overtake me.

  But I couldn’t let Dedrick see it. He couldn’t find out that Rina was astral traveling. I stood perfectly still even though my body wanted to tremble. My legs weakened, but then I reminded myself those sensations weren’t possible.

  Rina’s body was still on her mattress, collapsed on her side with no soul inside.

  Dedrick said hello to me then eyed Rina. “Sorry to intrude in the middle of the night like this.” Middle of the night. I tried doing the math. How long had I been back? What would the time difference be from Sedona to wherever the middle of the night would be? As I tried calculating, Dedrick continued. “I was moved by a powerful need to see you.”

  I could tell he was speaking only to me. He surveyed the glass cabinet then glanced down at Rina again and walked back over to me. He assumed she was sleeping. Maybe we’d get away with it. Unless she came back while he was here. No, even if she did, she’d play it off.

  “I had an epiphany,” Dedrick said, “a nudge from my spirit guides, you might say. They informed me that you’re ready to know more. You’re ready to know the truth.”

  The truth. As if Dedrick was capable of speaking truth. Why hadn’t he brought Lexie so he could hear my thoughts?

  “My plan is phenomenal.” Dedrick clasped his hands behind his back. “Even I’m impressed with how far I’ve come and what I will soon accomplish.” He turned to stare at me. “Long ago, I would have shared the details with you. Long, long ago, when you and I were...closer.”

  I had never been close to Dedrick. No freaking way.

  “But now,” Dedrick continued. “Our trust in each o
ther is gone along with your memories.” He lifted his hand as if he was trying to touch my face. I darted sideways out of his reach.

  “I’m still not sure how or when we became enemies, Mary, or Maryah, whatever name it is you’re calling yourself these days. I told you I’d do this with or without you, and I am almost there. It is going to happen.”

  I kept gliding sideways, distancing myself from him.

  “You’re acting as if I’m a contagious disease you don’t want to catch. Would you like me to educate you? Would you like to know some of the many truths that are being kept from you?”

  I looked away. I wasn’t interested in anything he had to say.

  “You only know what your kindrily has told you about me. You used to know so much more. You knew I wasn’t evil like they wanted you to believe. You doubted your allegiance to them. You believed in me and understood my mission.”

  His words were lies that I refused to consider.

  “Are you feeling tired?” He strolled around the room, circling the table. “Do you feel as if you’re losing your grip on your own being? I’m sure that’s how you’re feeling. It’s what happens when a soul is away from its body too long. To prove I have no intention of harming you, I’m going to revive you, give you a bit of strength back.” He pressed his hand to his chest. “I ask nothing in return. I simply want you to know that contradictory to what you may think of me, I do care very much about your wellbeing.”

  I couldn’t help but sneer. How stupid did he think I was?

  He opened a velvet bag attached to his belt then removed a beautiful blue stone. “You’re a water sign this time. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but who am I to question the mechanics of the universe?” He silently laughed as if he had said something amusing.

  I didn’t find the humor in it. I cursed under my breath. He had the Waterstone too.

  He spoke in a foreign language that sounded similar to the one he used when I spied on him. A dull light grew brighter inside of the stone. A stream of shimmering water poured out of it and encircled me. Blue light swirled around me in sparkling, rippling waves. I felt like the figurine in Carson’s snow globe.

  I couldn’t hear Dedrick through the wall of water surrounding me, but his wavy image stood in front of me with his hands held out at his sides. It was hard to tell, but his lips looked like they were still moving. After several minutes, the water receded back into the stone.

  The room was so silent I heard only Dedrick’s labored breath.

  “You’re welcome,” he said much too kindly. He wiped sweat from his brow. “I will always do whatever I can to help you.”

  He licked his fingers, squeezed out the candle flame, and he was gone.

  I did feel better, but I was far from grateful. If Dedrick wasn’t keeping me as his prisoner then I wouldn’t need to feel better.

  And the only other person who could free me was using my ability to sneak away.

  PLANTING DOUBTS

  Maryah

  Rina had been back only a few minutes. She hadn’t stopped asking me questions about Dedrick’s visit long enough for me to ask her where she went.

  “Please, Rina. I’ll tell you every single detail as soon as I come back. I won’t be gone long, but I need to tell them he has the Waterstone. It’s urgent.”

  “It’s not safe yet.” She spoke even faster than usual. “We don’t know when he’ll return.”

  “I’ll travel to him first to see where he is. If needed I’ll zip right back here.” Now that Dedrick had strengthened me, I’d spy on him as much as possible. We needed to know how many of the stones he had. Seeing Dedrick conjure power from two of the stones so easily was beyond alarming.

  “Don’t you want to know where—” Rina didn’t finish because the room went black. When the candle re-lit, I was surprised to see River and Evelyn.

  “I have some information,” River said excitedly. “I think this place, wherever we are, might be in Ireland.”

  “Why Ireland?” Rina asked, matching my own question before I could ask it.

  “Earlier today, Dedrick walked past my room. He was talking to a man with an Irish accent. I heard only part of the conversation, but the man said—”

  Evelyn sprang forward. “He’s coming. Quick!” She shoved River toward the makeshift bathroom and yanked the tattered curtain closed to conceal him. “Don’t move a muscle. Don’t utter a breath, or we’ll both pay dearly.”

  I couldn’t see River behind the curtain, but the fear in the room—Evelyn’s, River’s, Rina’s and mine—was palpable.

  The black curtain fell and lifted too quickly.

  Dedrick stood before me holding a large, thick book. He eyed Evelyn who was fidgeting with dishes from the meal Rina hadn’t touched yet, then he turned his attention back to me. “Are you feeling better?”

  Lexie was with him. She would hear River’s thoughts. We’d all be busted. He’d never let River out of his cell again. Maybe he’d even kill him. And what would he do to Evelyn? Would he punish Rina even though she wasn’t directly involved? Was there anything worse he could do to me? He could revive my soul, so could he also harm it?

  He followed me as I drifted to the wall farthest away from River. “As you can see, I trust Rina, Evelyn, and Lexie. That’s what we have here in our home, a circle of trust with no secrets. It strengthens our bond and allows us to function as a family unit. We would like you to be part of that, Maryah. Now that you’re feeling better, now that you’ve seen that I sincerely care about your wellbeing, it’s time to tell you what everyone else here already knows.” Dedrick’s dark eyes penetrated me. “You were torn between those outdated kindrily members and me. That is why you erased.”

  “No,” I said, unfazed. “That can’t be why I erased. I don’t believe you.”

  “She doesn’t believe you,” Lexie said.

  “Rina!” Dedrick snapped, waving her over without taking his eyes off me. She scurried over, and he grabbed her hand.

  “Lexie,” Dedrick called. Lexie stepped to his side.

  Rina grasped Lexie’s hand, but not before glaring at me and shaking her head in such a slight way it wouldn’t have been seen by anyone else.

  Dedrick would use Rina’s conducting power to hear me with Lexie’s mind-reading ability. He would be able to hear my thoughts. Surely he’d hear River’s thoughts too, and it wouldn’t take much searching to find him. If I listened hard enough I could have sworn I heard him breathing. Don’t think about River. White noise, white noise.

  Dedrick clutched Rina’s hand tighter, and she closed her eyes.

  I focused intently on the veins in his hairy forearms and my self-created white noise.

  “It’s true,” Dedrick insisted. “I can answer so many questions you have about your past. I can help you remember again.”

  “You’re a liar,” I hissed.

  “I’m not lying. You and Nathaniel had your share of problems throughout your lifetimes. You and I had our moments too. Some lives you and I were friends; sometimes we were more than that. I was more powerful than him. I had much more ambition. You had outgrown him and wanted bigger and better.”

  I cringed at the thought of being with Dedrick. “No,” I said firmly. “He’s my soul mate.”

  “People evolve,” Dedrick said. “They change. Their needs and desires change too. Three lifetimes ago, you reached a higher level. You wanted more. You and I both did.” His eyes softened. There was a gentleness I’d never seen, and never expected to see in someone so evil. “I loved you so much”

  Dedrick? Capable of loving anyone? Impossible.

  “We ran away together. We discovered so much about ourselves and metaphysics. Our powers strengthened. That’s when you started developing your ability to see omens, to know things about the future.”

  He knew about me seeing omens? I didn’t want Dedrick to know anything about me.

  “That kindrily of yours,” Dedrick continued, “They made you feel guilty about ending things wit
h Nathaniel to be with me. They banned together and convinced you that the rare love we shared was wrong, but it wasn’t.” He leaned closer. Keeping linked to Rina and Lexie, he placed their connected hands against his chest. “I have missed you every single day. No one has ever affected me the way you did. Everything I have, all the power, the control, it feels like such a waste without you to share it with me. You helped me reach this level, and you should be here to enjoy it with me.”

  I shook my head. Lies. “They would have told me all of this.”

  “They would have told you? Your kindrily?” He almost laughed. “They are the reason you erased, my love. They wouldn’t let you choose for yourself. They wouldn’t let you live the way you wanted. They ruined you, and me, and our future together. They won’t tell you that’s why you erased because they loathe me. But you told me you would choose erasure if it became too much. Your pain was too much to bear. You lived with the guilt and heartache too long.”

  “No. I slit my own throat to get away from you.”

  He tilted his head. “That was the plan. Your plan. We made it look like you were part of the massacre. I had a healer on hand so you wouldn’t die, but your kindrily would think you did. By the time they were reborn and questioned why you didn’t return to them, they’d assume your guilt for causing the deaths of so many would be too much so you erased. You even suggested kidnapping Gregory to lure Harmony away from you so she wouldn’t see that your spirit didn’t cross over.”

  My mind whirled. Harmony was lured away by Gregory. She did assume I crossed over. But Gregory said Dedrick kept me trapped, that I was so miserable I cried all the time.

  “Then why did you treat me like a prisoner? You kept me strapped to a bed.”

  “Strapped to a bed?” He looked genuinely surprised.

  “Gregory told me I was strapped to a bed and crying.”

  “Never,” Dedrick guffawed. “He’s remembering it wrong. My healer had difficulties stabilizing you. We had to give you blood transfusions and IV fluids. You were sick and upset, but never did I restrain you in any way. You were helpless. You weren’t able to get out of bed for weeks.”

 
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