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Fighting for infinity, p.2
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       Fighting for Infinity, p.2

           Karen Amanda Hooper
 

  I grinned. “You’re not good enough for me.”

  “I know that, but the key is getting them to believe I am.”

  “And what about at night? We won’t be able to sleep together.”

  He waved me over to him, and I sat in his lap. “Your bedroom has a window, right? I’ll sneak in.”

  “Ooh, that does sound fun. Real teenage shenanigans.”

  He pulled me closer and gently bit my lip. “The possibility of getting caught will make it that much more exciting.”

  “My parents would die if they found you: a towering, muscular, long-haired, Spanish twenty-two-year-old naked in my room.”

  He wiggled his dark brows. “I look forward to hearing all the shocked expletives running through their head when they catch us.”

  “That would be a true test of my dad’s preaching about remaining peaceful and always acting with love and compassion.”

  “He sounds like a good man.”

  “He is.” I fed him another potato chip. “Both of them are great.”

  “Why’d you choose them? And how did Faith become your twin sister?”

  I shrugged. “They were close to Louise and Anthony. Mary told us to choose so we’d be close together. Apparently Faith chose the same parents. She requested to be sent back right after me. The time line was close enough that we could be twins.”

  “Fascinating.”

  “Some days I think Maryah is determined to build an army—or Mary was anyway. First Krista and now Mikey.”

  He squeezed me tighter. “We contributed to the army with Carson.”

  “Carson is something special,” I said. “He probably raised hell in the Higher Realm until they granted him Element status.”

  “He must have inherited his ability to raise hell from his original mother.”

  “Or his father.”

  Gregory’s eyes lowered. “I sense it’s a bit weird for him. I’m in the same body as I was when I was his father. Sometimes when he looks at me it feels like he’s watching a ghost.”

  “I’m sure it’s strange for him, it’s strange for me too, but in a good way. Carson will get used to it. Isn’t it hard for you too? Physically you’re not much older than he is.”

  “That’s not strange. The really disorienting part is my last solid memories of the kindrily—before the day I stabbed you, of course.” I squeezed his side where he was ticklish, and he squirmed but continued with his thoughts. “There was Amber and Dylan’s wedding. Then things go blurry, and bam, here I am with you, and you’re in a different body—hell, almost everyone is in a different body—and I’ve missed two decades of what’s been going on with my own kindrily. The time I was gone is slipping away from my memory more each day. Years of my life have been erased.”

  My chest tightened at the word erased. “Oh, no.” I sat up straight. What if Dedrick had the actual power to erase memories? “What if Dedrick erased Maryah’s past? What if he’s planning to erase all of us? What if you forget our past lives together?”

  “That won’t happen.”

  “How do you know? We have no real idea of what kind of power Dedrick has at his disposal.”

  “I remember everything from all my lives. Just a lot of the time I spent with Dedrick is unclear. And if he has the power to erase all of those memories from my mind then I’ll thank him for it.”

  I traced my fingers around Gregory’s obsidian eyes. He knew what I was doing, that I needed to gaze into the windows of his soul and see for myself. That I needed to know every bit of our history was still intact.

  He lifted his chin and relaxed back into his seat, knowing it would take a while. “Dive on in. The waters of my soul are fine.” I kissed him then went deep beneath the surface. I needed to make sure our history was still there. Every part of it.

  Thankfully, nothing had been lost—except almost two decades together. And while losing that time was painful and awful, I had him back—forever. And that’s all that mattered.

  ∞

  Gregory and I brought in our lunch dishes from the deck. Louise and Helen were pacing the kitchen.

  “Still waiting?” I asked.

  Louise nodded. “I hope she locates him. At this point any bit of information is better than nothing. Even members of the other kindrilies are worried about how quiet it’s been.”

  “I’m going to sneak in and see how it’s going,” I said. “I’ll report back in a minute.”

  I crept down the hall and turned the doorknob to Maryah and Nate’s room slowly and soundlessly. Krista looked up as I tiptoed into the room. Already knowing the question on everyone’s mind, Krista shook her head.

  “She’s been under a long time,” Nate said.

  Krista sat on the bed beside her. “I was just thinking the same thing. But she’s been falling asleep after she travels. Maybe she’s sleeping.”

  I stepped closer. “Or maybe she found him and she’s finding out a lot of useful information.”

  Nate looked at me as if considering my reasoning, but then he shook his head. “Something’s amiss. I can feel it.”

  I leaned against one of the branch posts of the bed. Maryah looked peaceful. “She’ll be pissed off if you wake her up right before she discovers a plan or something else important.”

  Nate stood. “That’s fine. It wouldn’t be the first time I made her angry.” He rubbed her arm lovingly. “Maryah, come back. We’re concerned.” He gave it a few seconds then nudged her shoulder and patted her cheek. “Angel, we need you back here. Time to come home.”

  Krista glanced at me, then back to Nate as he continued trying to wake up Maryah.

  Maryah wasn’t budging.

  Krista snapped her fingers in front of Maryah’s face. “Pudding, wake up.” She clapped her hands. “Come on. You’re freaking us out.”

  Nate looked up at me. I shrugged. “Don’t ask me.”

  “Krista,” Nate asked, “will you check to make sure she’s okay physically?”

  Krista held her hands over Maryah’s body and closed her eyes, scanning every inch of her. “She’s perfectly healthy.”

  “Where’s Carson?” Nate asked. “Perhaps he can figure it out.”

  Krista sprang up. “I’ll go get him.”

  Nate caressed Maryah’s cheek. “Maryah,” he pleaded, “wake up.”

  Carson blurred into the room and halted at the side of the bed. “She’s probably asleep.”

  “We tried waking her,” Nate said. “It’s not working.”

  Krista ran in and stood beside him. Carson blurred away again then came back with a glass of water. He dumped it on Maryah’s head.

  “Carson!” Nate yelled.

  “What? It should have worked.”

  The worry was spreading through all of us. I could feel it filling the room.

  Nate dried Maryah’s face with a blanket. “Wake up, Maryah. Please, open your eyes.”

  FIGHTING FOR INFINITY

  LOST IN THE DARK

  Maryah

  It was like a dream, a terrible but extremely rewarding dream.

  I found him. I found the monster. As terrifying as that was, I kept reminding myself that only my spirit was with him. He wouldn’t even know I was there.

  I tried to observe and make a mental note of everything. The young girl I’d seen in my other travel session was with him again. They were in the same place. This room was made of stone and had no windows, and it was dimly lit by candlelight.

  The raven-haired girl was sitting at a table in front of an old thick book that called to me. I hovered over it, wishing I could open it and scan through its pages, but with no physical form that was impossible.

  “Well, hello there.” Dedrick looked at the book then sneered. I could almost smell his rotten breath just by looking at his crooked yellow teeth. “We knew you’d be joining us soon.”

  I scanned the area around me, but no one else had entered the room.

  “Yes, Mary,” Dedrick said, “or should I say Maryah, I’m spea
king to you.”

  If I had a body, it would have gone rigid. He couldn’t see me. That was impossible. But Dedrick’s eyes penetrated me as if I were flesh and bone standing in front of him.

  He walked over to the girl and ran his fingers through her black hair. “She’s irresistible, isn’t she? Once you’ve seen her, you’re forever drawn to her.”

  He yanked the girl to her feet and shoved her aside. Her expression was cold and emotionless. “She’s my tempting flame, and you’re my predictable moth.”

  Her black eyes met mine as if she could see me too. She didn’t have the signature golden irises with black slits like a snake. She wasn’t under Dedrick’s mind control, but something about her was chilling and eerily familiar.

  “Maryah,” Dedrick barked, snapping me out of my intense study of her. “Meet Rina. I think you two will become great friends.”

  I hated that he was speaking to me as if I were really in the room.

  I wanted to find out more about where they were, and Rina, but I didn’t feel safe with Dedrick speaking directly to me, so I tried returning to my body.

  Nothing happened.

  I grappled for the cords of energy that usually connected me with my body, but my connection was gone. I tried again and again, getting more anxious and desperate with every attempt.

  “Come now, Maryah. You didn’t think it could actually be that easy, did you? Didn’t Gregory’s capture seem a bit too convenient?” Dedrick sat down, kicked his dirty boots up onto the table, and laughed. “All this time, I’ve thought I needed you—the physical you. But I came to realize your body isn’t important. Your soul is what I require. And now I have it.”

  Rushes of painful energy lashed through me like a lightning storm. I kept opening my awareness, my energy, my soul, trying to reconnect with my body. I stared at the feather on my phantom ring, willing to see its light, pleading to form a bridge back to my body. I pinched my wrist as hard as I could but felt nothing.

  “Look at you.” Dedrick snickered. “Like a lightning bug trapped in a glass jar.”

  I darted around the room as if I could fling my spirit into a wall and a secret door would open so I could fly out. I caught a glimpse of light in a glass bookcase, and I slowly moved toward it.

  Reflected in the glass was a glow of gold, silver, and green light in the vague shape of me. I moved side to side and so did the light. Around the glow was a translucent bubble.

  “Pretty, isn’t it, Rina?” Dedrick cooed. “Like our own life-sized snow globe.”

  She nodded while wringing her hands and keeping her eyes on her bare feet.

  Was I really trapped? How was that possible? Harmony’s words echoed in my head: Imagine someone ripped your heart out of your chest and threw it in a cage. Outside the cage, vultures, rats, and coyotes circle, waiting to rip your heart apart and devour it. Worse yet, as they circle, their wicked energy surrounds the cage, tainting the pure and good soul inside. Over time, your heart starts to change; it becomes evil too. Smothered by negativity, it slowly stops beating until it ceases to exist.

  I wanted to cry.

  “Let me go!” I shouted.

  Dedrick folded his hands behind his head and smiled. “You aren’t going anywhere for a very, very long time, Maryah. Might as well make your soul comfortable.”

  I stared in disbelief. I was trapped. My stomach felt as if it had plunged to the floor and was waiting for the rest of me to catch up. I swallowed down the taste of bile in my throat.

  “Can you hear me?” I tentatively asked.

  Dedrick watched me but didn’t reply. The girl leaned against a wall, biting her fingernails. It was hard to tell where her bare feet ended and the dirt floor began.

  “Can you hear me?” I yelled to her, my voice cracking with desperation and fear.

  Neither of them flinched.

  “I wonder,” Dedrick said, “what’s going through that mind of yours. Are you wondering how this is possible, or have you already figured it out?” He glanced at Rina and smirked. “If so, she figured it out a teensy bit too late, eh, Rina?”

  The girl, Rina, was short, pale, and too thin. She couldn’t have been more than twelve, but her obvious lack of nutrition and hygiene made her look as old and gray as the grimy, threadbare scrubs she wore.

  “What I’d really love to see is dear Nathaniel’s reaction. What will he say?” Dedrick weaved his fingers together, using them as a hammock for his bristly chin, which framed his sadistic grin. “What will he do when he realizes his soul mate, whom he was so recently reunited with, slipped out of his grasp again?”

  Dear god. Poor Nathan. As if I hadn’t put him through enough already. He would freak out. So would the rest of the kindrily.

  Dedrick cackled as he stood. “Let’s find out, shall we?”

  Dedrick held out his hand to Rina. She shuffled forward, lifting her head just enough that I could see her dark eyes. Were they black, gray, dark blue? It was hard to tell in the dim lighting from the single candle. She blinked quickly then reached out as if she could touch me.

  “What are you doing?” I tried to leap back but couldn’t move. Somehow she held me in place with only her hand resting against my phantom arm.

  “Good girl, Rina,” Dedrick said to her. “Don’t botch this up or there will be serious consequences.”

  She bowed her head, and warmth surged through me. For a moment, I could have sworn her skin glowed pale blue, but I refocused, and the light was gone. Dedrick’s eyes were closed and so were hers. Neither of them moved or said anything, but I could tell something was happening. Something I didn’t understand.

  “What are you doing?” My vocal cords shriveled along with any confidence I had in my ability as I whimpered. “Please let go of me.”

  Rina’s hand grew warmer, but she didn’t budge or open her eyes. Same with Dedrick—it was almost as if they were no longer in the room.

  UNWELCOMING PARTY

  Nathaniel

  “What if something happened to her?” I asked, pacing beside our bed.

  “How could anything happen to her?” Harmony argued. “She’s right here.”

  “She’s fine physically,” Krista pointed out. “Maybe she’s just in a deep travel. Like a deep sleep.”

  I leaned over her and caressed her cheek. I’d seen her sleep deeply. In previous lives, I’d seen her astral travel a million times to watch countless people or events, but never like this. Something was different in a very worrisome way.

  Then I felt it—a shift of energy in the room. My eyes darted up to Carson. He stood across the bed from me, staring at Maryah, tugging on the strings of his sweatshirt. Krista sat beside Maryah, holding her hand. Harmony was leaning against the bedpost. Her eyes met mine.

  “What?” Harmony asked me. “You look perplexed. More so than you did ten seconds ago.”

  I glanced over my shoulder then scanned the room. “Everyone out.”

  “Nate?” Harmony questioned.

  “Just please leave me alone with Maryah for a few minutes.”

  Carson squinted. “But—”

  “Please and thank you,” I said firmly.

  They exchanged worried glances, but Krista stood. “Let’s go see if the others have any ideas.” She motioned for Carson and Harmony to follow.

  Reluctantly, Harmony turned away but stopped at the door. “Shout if you need anything.”

  I nodded. “Shut the door behind you, please.”

  The handle latched behind her. Only Maryah and I were left in our quiet room. I sat on the edge of the bed and cocked my head, listening. No matter how exceptional my hearing was, I wouldn’t be able to hear what I had felt. I needed to feel it again.

  I lifted my chin and closed my eyes. And there it was—an invisible presence hovering inches away from me, the presence I had felt several times before we confirmed that Maryah still had her gift. She was astral traveling but lurking in our room.

  “Why are you watching me?” I said out loud. She coul
dn’t physically answer me, but I hoped maybe she’d return to her body once she knew I sensed her. I held her hand, waiting for her to be physically present again.

  Did she want to see how we reacted while she traveled? Was she curious about what we said or did when she wasn’t around? “I have nothing to hide from you.” I spoke to her soul that I sensed hovering across from me. “There’s no need to spy on me.”

  Her body still rested peacefully. I curled up beside her, sliding my arm under her neck and kissing her forehead while suppressing a grin. My fingers trailed along her collarbone. “Return to your body in the next two minutes, and I’ll make it worth your while.”

  Two minutes ticked away and still no movement, but I could feel the energy circling the room. She was watching me.

  “Fine then.” I adjusted my head against the pillow. “I’ll be napping. Wake me when you return.”

  After a few minutes of listening to Maryah’s steady breathing, I dozed off. I have no idea how long I was asleep, but I awoke because of a loud gasp. Louise stood in the doorway with her hands over her mouth.

  “What is it?” I sat up, searching the foot of the bed where she was staring. “Louise?”

  Maryah hadn’t budged.

  Louise braced herself against the doorframe. Her facial expression was a mix of anger, shock, and worry. “How?”

  “How what?” I climbed out of bed and walked over to her. “What’s wrong?”

  She yanked my arm, pulling me out of the room while slamming the door shut behind her. “Carson!”

  He blurred to us before I could ask why we were standing in the hallway.

  “Go in there,” Louise told Carson, nodding to our bedroom, “and keep an eye on Maryah.”

  “Because?” Carson asked, clearly as confused as I was.

  “Just do as I say.”

  He opened the door, and she practically shoved him inside before slamming it closed again. She grabbed my elbow, guiding me down the hall.

  “Louise, what in the world has gotten into you?”

 
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