Taking Back Forever, p.28Karen Amanda Hooper
It’s working, I thought.
Flashes of glowing color swirled around me. A memory poured in.
Nathaniel’s same green eyes shone as he smiled at me from a different body. Kindrily members were circled around us. We stood on the same Sedona cliffs where the current Nathan and I had lain and talked so many times. He wore a suit. I was in a white dress. Our hands were being tied together with fabric. Our wedding.
“I love you,” I told him. “Then, now, and eternally.”
He kissed me and I felt all the energies of this universe. Sunshine spun its way through every part of my being. The air tasted like honey. Millions of stars floated above us even though the sun was shining. The red rocks around us hummed—a tranquil tune that warmed my soul. It was the most perfect moment I’d ever experienced. And I remembered it.
I remembered living that moment like it was yesterday.
I was pulled backward out of the tunnel of light that was Nathan’s eyes. My nails were digging into his back but his face showed nothing but love and happiness. He was caressing my face with one hand and his other propped him up as he gazed down at me.
“It worked,” I said breathlessly.
He grinned bigger. “I know. I saw it in your eyes.”
“I remembered our wedding.”
“On the cliffs. Our cliffs.”
“That was our last life.”
“I remembered.” I squealed with joy. “I’m not drugged, or in danger of dying, but I remembered.” I held his face in my hands and breathed deep, still tingling from how amazing everything felt. “I was so...confident. I felt secure and strong, and so sure of everything.”
“I’m going to remember more,” I vowed. “I want to remember everything, every single past life.”
He kissed my hand. “I have complete faith that you’ll succeed.”
“I will. I know I will. We figured it out. We’ll need to do a lot more of this because apparently it helps me remember.”
Nathan chuckled. “I think you could remember without all of this, but I won’t argue. I am at your service whenever you need me.”
I could feel the shift in me. My connection to my power and my past was rekindled and I intended to keep feeding the flame until it became an unstoppable wildfire. Dedrick would be burned to ashes if he crossed me or messed with my kindrily again.
Nathan’s green eyes sparkled as he stared admiringly at me.
I wanted and needed so much more of him. “I never thought I’d be one of those girls who want to rush into marriage, but I totally am. I’d marry you tonight.”
He smirked. “That’s just your hormones talking.”
“Seriously.” I sat up. “How long will we wait? We’re going to be together forever. It seems silly to wait.”
He rubbed his thumb along my chin. “I’m old-fashioned. Let me do this my way. Let me give you everything you deserve without you having to plan or ask for it. Please allow me that.”
“Okay. I won’t say another word about it. But just so you know, my answer will be yes. Whenever you do ask, it won’t be too soon. My answer will be yes no matter what.”
He grinned. “Some things never change.”
We kissed again and I felt as if I were still sensperiencing all the energy around us. I was wrong. Our wedding wasn’t the most perfect moment I had ever experienced. This night was.
Connecting with Nathan was the key to my past, present, and future. And what a breathtaking key he was. I intended to keep turning that key until I unlocked every power I possessed, every secret in my soul, and every door to my past.
NOT THE END
The Kindrily series is a never-ending story in my mind, so it’s difficult to know where to end each book. I could have ended Taking Back Forever right here, but a few more short chapters were begging to be told. Harmony wanted to hint at what happens in book 3, Fighting for Infinity, but if I allowed it, the ending would be a cliffhanger.
I tossed and turned many nights over whether or not to end this book with a cliffhanger. The old and very true saying, You can’t please everyone, kept echoing through my mind, but truly, I don’t want to disappoint my readers. I knew many would be okay with a cliffhanger, but many might be upset. These characters are near and dear to my heart and soul; therefore, so are the readers who love them. Your enjoyment of their story is important to me, so I wanted to make the right decision.
To solve my dilemma, I’m letting YOU decide for yourself.
If you dislike ending a book on a cliffhanger, stop reading now. You can catch up in book 3.
If you want to read more, and you’re okay with cliffhangers, continue reading.
The choice is yours.
For anyone planning to review Taking Backing Forever, please don’t mention what happens in the following bonus chapters. Respect other readers by not posting spoilers and jeopardizing their enjoyment of the story. Please respect the decision of those who decide to stop at this point and not be left with a cliffhanger.
I appreciate each and every one of you. The support and encouragement from my readers is what makes my job as a storyteller the most rewarding profession in the world. I am honored that you choose to spend time reading about the kindrily. Thank you times infinity. And may you shine forever.
MIND THE GAP
In London, when riding the Tube (aka train or rail system) a famous warning is played as a public safety announcement. Mind the gap.
Those three words warn you to be careful of the space between the platform and the train, that brief, yet potentially dangerous space between where you were and where you’re going. The following chapters take place in the space between books 2 and 3, so as they say in London...mind the gap.
And enjoy the journey.
SKETCHY AT BEST
Dakota was in his usual spot, hunched over the desk in the library drawing furiously. I brought him a soda and set it down in front of him, but he didn’t look up from his work.
“Take a break,” I told him.
He glanced up as if finally realizing I existed. “I can’t. I have a lot of work to do.”
I worried about him more and more. Since his near-death experience he’d been obsessed with his comic creating much more so than before. And then there was the issue of him believing he was an Element. He told Faith, Carson, and me that he was a changed person. He claimed he was one of us, and he believed—with all of his dear and hopeful heart—that his ability was creating reality through his comic books. If he drew it, it would happen.
I sighed and reached for his hand to stop him from drawing. “Dakota, you need to stop this.”
He tried pulling free, but I kept a tight grip on him. His eyes locked with mine.
“It sucks that you don’t believe me. But I know what I’m doing. You guys could help me by telling me what I should draw, but instead you’re probably talking behind my back about how nuts I am.”
“We’d never talk about you like that.”
We had talked about him a lot, but more out of concern for his wellbeing.
“I wish you’d believe me,” Dakota pleaded. “I feel it, Harmony. I’m different.”
“You almost died, Dakota. Of course you feel different.”
“Not different in the way you see people talk about on television documentaries. I didn’t see the light and suddenly have a new appreciation for life. Different as in I feel my power coursing through me. I’m part of the kindrily now. I’m meant to help save our members and the world.”
Save the world. He’d been saying stuff like that since he woke up. He barely slept. He hardly ate or drank. He was so skinny he looked like he was on drugs.
For years Dakota’s only wish was to be an Element. His encounter with almost dying left him feeling invincible. And his damaged brain stem had probably created an alternate reality where his wish
“I miss spending time with you,” I said. “Let’s go ride dirt bikes.”
He tried pulling his hand away again, but I didn’t let go. He squeezed his pencil so tightly it snapped. “You should hang out with Gregory.”
“Gregory wants to get to know you. Why don’t you hang out with us?”
“After I finish this.”
But that was the problem. He never finished. Even when his body did finally run out on him, he’d toss and turn in bed with his pages clutched in his hands. He’d mumble in his sleep about saving the world and needing more pencils. It was disturbing to witness and I didn’t know what to do to help him move past it. Worse, what if he never moved past it? I kept imagining him in a psych hospital, sedated and drooling all over himself.
“Please,” I pleaded. “Finish it later. Come hang out with me and get some fresh air and sunshine.”
“I can’t. Too much work to do and not enough time.”
I let go of his hand and sank back in my chair. He immediately started sketching again. His hand swept over the pages with such desperate purpose. I took a deep breath. I hated myself for what I was about to do. “I have a feeling there’s something we’re supposed to see or find if we go out, something that will help with your comics.”
His pencil paused, hovering over the page. Only his eyes lifted. “Really?”
Reluctantly, I nodded. “Really.”
“Like an answer from the universe?”
“Yeah, the universe always gives us what we need. But you’re making it difficult to reach you because you stay cooped up inside all night and day.”
Dakota glanced around the library. “You’re right. Okay, where are we going?”
“I’m not sure yet,” I said, relieved that as awful as my fake belief was, it worked and he’d finally get out of the house and back into real life. “We should stay open to wherever the universe wants to take us.”
“Sounds good.” He stood but grabbed a pad of paper and tucked a pencil behind his ear.
“You’re taking those with you?”
“I’m sure I’ll need to jot stuff down.”
I sighed. My plan wasn’t as brilliant as I thought. “Okay, let’s go.”
“Wait. I need sunglasses.” Dakota ran out of the library. I traipsed out into the living room and waited, wondering if my plan would help or only make things worse. He came back wearing Carson’s shades. “Don’t want to chance the Nefariouns knowing who I am.”
“Right.” I nodded, putting on my own sunglasses.
We had created a delusional monster.
Riding was uneventful—especially since I was the one who rode while Dakota sat on the ground sketching.
We returned to the house for our usual evening round-table meeting and Dakota dragged in a stool from the kitchen and sat behind Carson. No one questioned his attendance anymore. The whole kindrily was aware of the problem, and since Dakota never said a word during any of the meetings, we allowed him to sit and sketch while we talked.
“The big question is will Dedrick come after any of us again?” I said. “Yes, it’s wonderful to live here together as a tightknit group, but it makes us a much easier target.”
“My worry is that he’ll retaliate,” Louise said. “We took Gregory from him.”
“No, he took Gregory from us,” I clarified. “We took him back.”
Gregory squeezed my shoulder. The feel of him being next to me was still surreal at times.
“And we killed one of his valued members in the process,” Carson added.
Dakota’s head snapped up. He was smiling. I don’t know what made him happier, that Carson mentioned what Dakota did, or that he referred to Dakota as one of us. “I doubt he’ll just accept that and leave us to live in peace.”
“And I still believe he’s obsessed with Maryah,” Nate added. “I’m worried he’ll still come for her.”
Maryah took a deep breath. Her confidence had grown leaps and bounds over the last couple of days. I didn’t know what she and Nate were doing while they were away together, but whatever it was seemed to be working.
“He knows I erased,” Maryah argued. “Therefore, he thinks my ability was erased too. And River will confirm that I was clueless about our way of life and my power. Maybe Dedrick won’t care about me anymore.”
“Which brings me to my next question,” Faith said. “Why did he take River and what does he have planned for him?”
“River never demonstrated any kind of power while you were with him?” Louise asked Maryah. “Not even a hint of something supernatural?”
“Super strength douchiness,” Faith huffed.
“No,” Maryah said. “But April told me something last week when I went to visit her and her mom. River had been trying to contact me through her. He wanted her to tell me he didn’t want to be one of them.”
“April knows about us?” Amber asked with concern.
“No,” Maryah assured everyone. “I didn’t tell her anything. I spilled our secret in the past and created a never-ending chain of problems. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. April had no idea what River was talking about. She thinks he’s crazy. But obviously River meant he doesn’t want to be a Nefarioun.”
“He wants you to think he doesn’t.” Faith crossed her arms over her chest. “He tried to kill you. That’s as nefarious as it gets.”
“But Dedrick made him. We know that. The same way Gregory almost killed Harmony.”
“You said his eyes weren’t snakelike,” Nate pointed out. “His mind wasn’t being controlled.”
“Yes, but Dedrick had other ways of controlling him.” Maryah glanced around the table. “River depended on him for money and a place to live. Dedrick threatened to take all that away.”
“Ahh, yes,” I quipped. “Murder in exchange for food and shelter. Seems fair.”
Krista leaned forward. “Maryah, I know you always want to see the good in people, but River is no good. Now that he’s back with Dedrick, he’ll be even worse. Let it go. We need to focus on protecting ourselves. River can do the same.”
Dakota had stopped sketching. “Maryah,” he said. “If you could choose, would you want River to be good or evil?”
We all glanced at each other, not knowing what to do or say.
“Good,” Maryah told him. “Of course I’d want him to be good.”
Dakota nodded then went back to sketching. If only it were that easy.
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
I woke up in the floating chair of the sensperience room. The stars twinkled all around me.
“Carson?” I called out into the darkness.
I had astral traveled again. Only to the garage to watch Nathan work on Anthony’s Mustang with him and Dylan, but it was another successful training session. I had astral travelled three more times since the initial time at the cabin, but I must have fallen asleep again because Carson had left the room.
I slid off my chair and walked to the door, squinting at the bright light as I left the room and headed for the living room. I pretended to still be blinded by sunlight when I saw Carson and Krista kissing. I cleared my throat and they pulled apart.
Krista wiped her lips and fiddled with her hair. “How’d it go?”
“Good.” I stretched my arms behind my back. “Traveled to the garage and watched the guys work on Anthony’s car.”
Carson rolled his eyes. “How ambitious of you.”
“Hey, we don’t all move at rapid speed like you. I’m easing into this traveling thing.” I walked to the kitchen to get a drink. Astral traveling always made me thirsty. I called over my shoulder. “And what’s up with leaving me alone in there?”
“There’s no way to tell whether you’re asleep or traveling. If you were traveling, I didn’t want to wake you. But hanging around watching you do abs
I grabbed a juice from the fridge and rejoined them in the living room. “You mean you just wanted to make out with Krista.”
“Like I said.” Carson smiled. “I had other plans for my day, and every other day.”
“Thanks for the support,” I chided.
“Whoa, Sparky, don’t forget I’m the one who built you the sensperience room that started this whole regaining your ability thing.”
“Noted, and thank you,” I said. “But don’t forget I’m the one who forced you to come up with a way to help me sensperience.”
Krista glanced at Carson who was speechless then she smiled. “Oooh, good one, Maryah. That deserves a whole box of chocolates.”
“Noted,” Carson nodded at me, narrowing his eyes. “But I’m still smarter than you.”
I smirked. “I’ll catch up soon.”
I’d never be as smart as Carson, but my confidence and abilities were strengthening. My intense make-out sessions with Nathan resulted in me remembering a couple more flashes of my past lives. My plans were working.
“Have you tried finding Dedrick when you’re traveling?” Krista asked.
My head snapped up. I hadn’t tried to find Dedrick since the one short moment when I’d seen him and the girl in the window. I wanted to master waking up from my travels at will before I went searching for him. I didn’t know why I was nervous to be stuck spying on Dedrick, but only because I felt like I was truly there when traveling—there being wherever I traveled. I wasn’t quite ready to be alone with Dedrick. Being around kindrily members felt safe, but it wasn’t like I could take anyone with me in my travels. I had already asked Edgar if he thought that was possible, and he assured me it wasn’t.
“Not yet,” I answered Krista honestly, “but I will try to track him soon. I wanted to wait until I mastered returning to my body. So far my tendency is to fall asleep.”
Taking Back Forever by Karen Amanda Hooper / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes