Authors: Karen D. Badger
Tags: #Fiction, #Women, #Romance, #LGBT
All My Tomorrows
Sequel to 2009 Golden Crown Literary Society Award Winning
'Yesterday Once More'
BADGER BLISS BOOKS
ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN D. BADGER AND
AVAILABLE FROM BLUE FEATHER BOOKS:
ON A WING AND A PRAYER
YESTERDAY ONCE MORE
IN A FAMILY WAY
THE BLUE FEATHER
ALL MY TOMORROWS
Copyright © 2015 by Karen D. Badger
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, save for brief quotations used in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, locales and events are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Cover picture and design by Karen D. Badger
A Badger Bliss Book
Published by Badger Bliss Books
Georgia, VT 05468
ISBN 13: 978-1507721834
ISBN 10: 1507721838
First Edition, May, 2015
Printed in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom
I dedicate this book to my wonderful wife, Barbara "Bliss" Sawyer. She is the most fantastic sounding board and collaborator an author could ever want. She listens to me when I hit a wall and talks me off the ledge when all I want to do is delete the damned manuscript from my computer and be done with it. She sparks my imagination and alas, occasionally my anger, when she suggests something brilliant that of course, requires a total rewrite. But rewrite it I do, because she is most often right. She is my rock… she is my love… she is my heart. I love her dearly and I always will.
I promise to you, my love… all of my tomorrows.
As always, I want to thank my beta readers for the amazing job they did on the first read-through for this book. They include my mom, Ellie Atherton (the best mom a girl could ask for), Donna Brown (friend extraordinaire), Carol Poynor (the cutest Werther's Lady ever) and of course, my wife Bliss. Your help not only prevents me from looking like a total moron, but also helps make my editor's job so much easier. Speaking of editors, many thanks to Natty Burns for all her hard work and effort on my behalf. You guys rock!
SHELBURNE, VERMONT, 2105
Kale and Andi sat at the kitchen table waiting for Jordan to wake up. Andi had brewed her third cup of coffee when she commented on Jordan's absence.
"Maybe we should check on her. It's nearly ten o'clock. It's totally unlike her to sleep past seven," Andi said.
"You're right." Kale rose to his feet and headed toward Jordan's room. He stopped in front of her door.
"Jordan? Jordan, you're going to sleep the day away if you don't get your lazy butt out of bed."
Kale listened for a response, and became alarmed when none came. By this time, Andi had joined him in the hallway.
"She isn't answering me," Kale said. He reached for the handle and pushed the door open. Inside, Jordan lay in the same position she had been in when they left her the night before. He frowned and approached the bed.
"Jord?" he said.
She didn't reply. He glanced at Andi helplessly.
Andi touched the side of Jordan's face with her palm. "She's warm… but not hot," Andi said. She leaned in closer. "Jordan. Sweetie, wake up." She gently patted the side of Jordan's face. "Come on, time to get up."
Jordan turned her head to the side to escape Andi's touch.
"Oh, no you don't. You're not getting off that easily," Andi said. "Come on, wake up," she repeated, patting the side of Jordan's face again.
"No," Jordan moaned. "Go away."
"Not a chance. The day is nearly half over. We have a lot of work to do."
Jordan brushed Andi's hand away, but Andi persisted. Finally, Jordan pushed herself into a seated position. "Okay, okay, I'm up. Sheesh! Can't a girl get any sleep around here?"
"We woke you because we were worried. You've been sleeping for over twelve hours," Kale said.
Jordan looked at him. "Are you serious? What time is it?"
"Almost ten," he replied.
Jordan threw herself back onto the bed and covered her eyes with her hands. "Why am I still so tired?" She sat up once more. "All right. I need to get up." She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and placed her feet on the floor, then leaned forward to stand up. She rose halfway and then grasped her thighs. "Oh, my God."
Kale and Andi were immediately by her side. Kale wrapped his arm around her back. "Sit," he said.
"No, wait. Just let me hold on to you for a minute," she replied as little by little, she forced herself to stand erect.
With one hand on Andi's arm and the other on Kale's, Jordan took a tentative step forward and grimaced. Her eyes suddenly flew open.
"What is it?" Andi asked.
"It hurts," she replied. A grin split her face. "It hurts. My legs actually hurt."
Kale stared at her intently. "Are you telling me you feel pain in your legs?" he asked.
"Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying." Jordan watched the frown appear on Kale's face. "That's a good thing, isn't it, Kale?"
"A year from now, it would be a good thing. Two weeks after implant surgery — I'm not so sure. Jordan, it's too soon for the implant to be working. It should take months, if not years for the electrical impulses emitting from the implant to promote enough nerve regeneration for you to feel pain."
Jordan released her friends' arms and walked gingerly across the room to her bathroom. She stopped at the door and looked back. "I, for one, refuse to look a gift horse in the mouth. Give me a few minutes and I'll join you for coffee."
Kale and Andi interpreted the dismissal for what it was and left Jordan's room. On their way back to the kitchen, Kale was deep in thought.
"Are you okay?" Andi asked as she wrapped her arms around Kale's waist.
Kale shook his head. "Something isn't right about this. She severed her spinal cord sixteen years ago. There is no way the implant could restore synapse connection after only two weeks. Hell, even if the injury were brand new, it would take longer than that."
"Maybe it's phantom pain. I've heard amputees say countless times that they still feel pain in the limbs that are no longer there. Maybe that's what she's experiencing."
"I guess that could be it, but still, something doesn't feel right about this."
* * *
Jordan stepped into the shower and allowed the water to cascade over her body for several minutes. She leaned against the wall of the shower and reveled in the feel of the needle-like spray bombarding the skin on her legs with endless tingles of sensation. Tears mingled with water as the alien feelings overwhelmed her, yet she was reluctant to turn off the water for fear the sensation would also cease. A loud knock on the bathroom door shook her from her reverie.
"Jordan? Are you okay?" Andi called through the door.
Jordan turned off the spray and reached for her towel. "I'm fine. I'll be right out." She stepped out of the shower and methodically dried her body from the top down. When she reached her legs, she very slowly massaged them with her towel and was amazed at how soft the terry cloth felt against her skin.
This is freaking awesome!
Jordan stood in front of the vanity and tossed her hair with her fingertips. As she manipulated her wet hair into place, she saw something that disturbed her.
"What the hell?" she said out loud as she leaned in closer to the mirror. "Is that gray hair? That's odd. Mom didn't gray until she was nearly fifty. God, I hate getting older." She scrutinized herself closer.
Lewis, you need to take better care of yourself. I can see the beginnings of wrinkles here. Get a grip, girl, you're only thirty-two. At this rate, you'll look like Grandma Moses by the time you're forty.
A second knock at the door interrupted her scrutiny. "I'll be out in a minute, Andi."
"It's Kale. You've been in there an awfully long time. Are you sure you're okay?"
Jordan looked at the ceiling. "I'm fine. Really, I am. I'm coming out right now, so if you don't want to see me naked, you should get out of my bedroom. Here I come," Jordan warned.
She pushed the door open just in time to see her bedroom door close behind Kale. She chuckled as she entered her bedroom to get dressed. Moments later, she joined her friends in the kitchen for coffee.
"What the hell took you so long?" Kale asked. "Usually, your morning routine takes half the time mine does."
"You want the truth?" she asked. "I couldn't resist the feel of the shower spray on my legs. Guys, it's the most amazing thing to actually feel again. I could have stayed in there all day."
Andi sat back in her chair and looked at Jordan. "Something's different about you. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something is different."
Jordan chuckled. "It's probably my gray hair. Can you believe it? Look," she said as she tilted her head for Andi to see the dense shock of gray beginning at the back of her head. "I don't remember seeing that there yesterday."
Kale suddenly put his coffee cup down and rose to his feet. He approached Jordan and swung her around to face him, chair and all.
Jordan nearly fell out of the chair at the sudden movement. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Don't move," he told her as he carefully examined her face, and then the gray hair she pointed out earlier. "Bend over. I want to see your incision."
The next thing she knew, Kale was pacing angrily back and forth across the kitchen. "Goddamn it. Damn it all to hell. No wonder the implant is working already." He approached Jordan and dropped to one knee. "I hate to break this to you, but the time travel experiments are over. You got that? Finished."
Jordan's eyes opened wide. "Why?" she demanded.
Andi looked just as shocked as Jordan at Kale's declaration. "Kale, I don't understand," Andi said.
Kale approached Jordan once more. "Bend forward again."
Jordan did as she was told and Kale once again lifted her shirt. "Andi, look at the incision on Jordan's back. What do you see?"
Andi looked at Jordan's back, frowned, and then leaned in for a closer look. "It's barely discernable," she exclaimed.
"Exactly. She had spinal surgery just two weeks ago. At the very least, there should still be red, welted scar tissue there." He pointed at the incision site on Jordan's back. "Any doctor or nurse — hell, any mother who's put a bandage on her child's scraped knee would tell you that incision was made maybe twenty years ago, instead of two weeks."
Jordan sat upright and looked at Kale. "What the hell are you talking about?" she demanded.
"Come with me," Kale said as he took her hand and led her to the bathroom. Andi followed them and leaned against the bathroom door. "Here, stand with your back to the mirror. Now look." He gave her the hand mirror.
Jordan angled the mirror so that she could see the area around the incision on her back as Kale lifted her shirt yet again. "Oh my God," she said in nearly a whisper. Jordan put the mirror down and faced Kale. "What does this mean?" she asked.
Kale ran a hand through his hair. "It means that each time we send you through time, your body ages by God only knows how many years. That's why the implant is working so quickly. The time travel is adding years to your body, giving the nerve endings adequate time to grow over the injury site."
Jordan sneaked a look at Andi. A knowing gaze passed between them as she recalled an earlier conversation they had about how traveling back in time might have a potential affect on the aging process.
"From Einstein's experiments, we know time is gained when traveling backward and lost when traveling forward. I can only assume that each time we send you back, the actual transfer process accelerates time for you. Once you arrive there, time moves at a normal pace, but during the actual transfer, it moves faster," Kale said.
"Then why wouldn't the aging reverse on the return trip?" Jordan asked.
"I can answer that one," Andi interjected. "There probably is some amount of reversal, but theory dictates that time gained by traveling backward is much larger in magnitude than time lost traveling forward, so the amount of reversal would be minuscule compared to the aging."
"Jordan, we can't risk sending you back again. Judging by the change in your physical state just since the last transfer, it's almost as though the aging effect is cumulative. In other words, the rate of aging appears to be increasing with each transfer. At this rate, you'll die from old age in no time."
"I have to go back," Jordan insisted.
"I can't do it, Jordan. I won't risk it. Look at you. You look like you've aged at least fifteen or twenty years over the past three transfers. You had surgery just two weeks ago and yet the implant site has the appearance of a scar that healed years ago. It's obvious to me that you don't even need the implant anymore. I'm sure if Peter opened the injury site right now, all synapse connections would be restored. If we could have accomplished that one thing without causing you personal harm, all of this would be worth it, but I'm not willing to risk your death, or be the cause of your premature death from old age."
Jordan walked directly up to Kale and grabbed the font of his shirt. "Well, I'm willing to risk my death and old age because without Maggie in my life, it won't be worth living anyway."
Kale put his hands on his hips and closed his eyes. "Jordan, I don't want to lose you," he whispered.
Jordan released the front of his shirt and cupped his face. "Sweetheart, you will never lose me — regardless of where I am." She paused for a moment for her message to be absorbed. "Kale, imagine your life without Andi," she said softly. "I need you to do this for me. Please."
Kale closed his eyes as if to shut out the war raging in his mind between his own heart and Jordan's desires. He opened his eyes to find only desperation in Jordan's blue eyes.
"Please," she whispered once more.
* * *
"Okay, Kale. You need to use these time coordinates. They should land me very close to when I need to be there."
Kale took the piece of paper from Jordan and looked at it. "Remember, you promised to come back as soon as you've taken care of things, okay?"
"Yes, I remember," Jordan replied. "I don't break my promises."
"And then, no more time travel, right?" Kale reiterated.
"No more. Got it," Jordan replied nonchalantly.
Kale narrowed his eyes at Jordan. "Why is it that I don't believe you? What is going on in that mind of yours?"
Jordan adopted a surprise look on her face. "Who, me?"
"Jordan," Kale said.
Jordan threw up her hands in frustration. "All right, all right. No more transfers. I got it."
Kale turned his attention back to the control console as he typed in Jordan's time coordinates. "Good. I'm just about ready to go."
Jordan took her cue from Kale and climbed onto the platform. Just then, the door to the lab opened.
"Wait. Don't you dare leave without saying goodbye to me," Andi shouted as she hurried to the time machine. She reached forward and embraced Jordan warmly, then kissed her full on the lips. "Take care of yourself, girlfriend. I love you."
Jordan smiled. "I love you too, Andi. And you too, you pain in the ass," she shouted across the room to Kale.