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Taking back forever, p.29
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       Taking Back Forever, p.29

           Karen Amanda Hooper
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  “I’m sure it takes a lot of energy out of you,” Krista offered. “Your body probably falls asleep from exhaustion.”

  “Yes, but the clock is ticking,” Carson said. “Time to put on your brave girl panties and try to find Dedrick.”

  Louise rounded the corner carrying her laptop under one arm. “Hello, all.”

  “Any news to report?” Carson asked her.

  “Nope. Still quiet out there.”

  Krista and I exchanged worried glances. Most of the kindrily pretended not to be concerned that we hadn’t heard one word about the Nefariouns. But I was worried. It had been more than a week since the battle at the airport. I had a gut feeling Dedrick was waiting to make his next big move. Not knowing what or when that move would be had my stomach in knots. Carson was right; I needed to be brave and take the plunge into trying to locate Dedrick again. I was the key to knowing what he was doing and planning.

  “I traveled again,” I told Louise.

  Her face lit up. “You did? Where to?”

  “Just the garage,” I admitted. “But I’m getting better at it.”

  “Wonderful.” She hugged her laptop to her chest and her lips parted like she was about to say something else, but she stopped. What she probably wanted to say was that it would be helpful to know if Edgar was next on Dedrick’s wish list.

  “Tomorrow,” I told her. I couldn’t wait any longer. “Tomorrow I’ll attempt to find Dedrick.”

  The worry lines framing her mouth loosened with relief. “Good. It would be nice to have some clue as to what he’s up to.”

  Krista reached over and squeezed my hand—her unspoken way of telling me she was proud of me for being brave. I squeezed back because the thought of actually locating Dedrick scared me, but I was determined to conquer my fear.



  Gregory set his sunglasses on the patio table between us. “I’m going to have to meet your parents someday,”

  “Yes, but not today.” I finished the last bite of my sandwich. “Or tomorrow.”

  As far as my parents knew, Dakota and I were on an educational trip for school that was earning us extra credit. Dylan persuaded them to not only believe it, but also to support my decision to go on the trip, so I was embracing the freedom to stay at the Luna house with Gregory.

  “Dakota is going stir crazy being cooped up here,” Gregory said. “He needs to go home.”

  “I know.” That was one of my major concerns about us returning to our routine at home. I wouldn’t get to spend as much time with Gregory, and my parents would surely notice the change in Dakota’s mental state. I could ask Dylan to persuade them to believe Dakota was fine, but that didn’t seem fair to anyone.

  “What’s going through that magnificent mind of yours?” Gregory asked.

  “I’m enjoying my time with you. I’m not ready to give that up yet.”

  “We’ll still be together. It will be fun. I can date you and try to impress your parents. Make them wonder if I’m good enough for their daughter.”

  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.”


  “Some days I think she’s determined to build an army—or 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 are being slowly 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 asleep.”

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

  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, 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 to the bathroom 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.”



  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 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 speaking 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 and ran his fingers through the girl’s 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. Her eyes weren’t snakelike. 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 up my awareness, my energy, my soul, trying to reconnect with my body. I stared at the feather on my ring, willing to see its light, pleading to form a bridge back to my body. I pinched my phantom wrist as hard as I could.

  “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.”


  Book 3, Fighting for Infinity, coming soon.

  Want updates and behind the scenes information about the Kindrily series?

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  Karen was born and bred in Baltimore, frolicked and froze in Colorado for a couple of years, and is currently sunning and splashing around Florida with her two beloved dogs. She's addicted to coffee, chocolate, and complicated happily-ever-afters. She is a co-founder of the teen focused blog, YA Confidential, and a proud member of The Indelibles.

  Find more information about Karen Amanda Hooper and her books at



  Karen Amanda Hooper, Taking Back Forever



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