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Authors: Jolyn Palliata

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Connected (Twists of Fate #1)

BOOK: Connected (Twists of Fate #1)
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CONNECTED

a Twists of Fate novella

Jolyn Palliata

Electronic Edition

Copyright 2011 Jolyn Palliata

Cover art by Steven Novak

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locations are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used factitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.

This book is dedicated to my son, who reminded me to believe anything is possible.

Prologue

Exhilarated and weightless, Addison had no idea where she was going. She wisped through the contrasting dark and light mists; smoky shadows trying to dominate the other, but both submissive to her as they drifted from her presence. The effect left her surrounded by a roiling wall of fog, suspended in a void and more aware of what she felt within.

Her stomach bottomed out, like a roller coaster at the cusp of the downward plunge, generating an intoxicating mix of fear and excitement. The combination almost made her blind from the mad rush of adrenaline. Except instead of a downward plummet, she felt tugged in two directions at once, creating an amazing levity inside her.

The wonder of discovery at the sensation, and indecision of her destination, held her still.

Uncertain of what drew her forward, she knew without question it was where she wanted to be.

Had to be. But the pull from behind gave her no progress; like it was hooked into her soul and gently reeling her back to where she truly belonged.

Then she saw him. A vision. No distinct features, but beautiful nonetheless. Or maybe that was because of his aura? Comprised of white sparks and orange swirls of light, it clearly communicated his precarious emotional state; suspended in his trepidation and incredulity. Just like her.

She knew the moment he noticed her. His weariness shifted to relief—funny how she could read that in the bright flickers—and he reached for her, not with hands, but with his entire being.

Sheer willpower eased her forward, closer, giving into the promise of his warmth and security, willing to soothe and comfort him in return. The extending haze of their auras touched and sparked before swirling and fusing together. With the connection came her absolute knowledge of his experience; a confirmation of what she had already known just by reading the light consuming the vague outline of his body. But now it was real. Solid. Unavoidable, and totally consuming.

She could feel what he wanted. And it was her. He needed her. Had to hold onto her.

She felt one sharp internal tug at her back—insistent, impatient—and she couldn’t deny it.

Regret had her focus targeting the ethereal being before her. After one last glorious look, she let herself fade to become one with the unrelenting pull. Moving away, she sensed his quick bite of fear, and his instinctive arrogance to cover it. Her heart leapt and her soul ached for this man as she was swallowed in the consuming darkness, his dawning horror permeating her soul.

He wouldn’t—no, couldn’t—be left there alone.

And then he panicked.

Chapter One

Addison lifted her lids against an impossible weight, letting them fall back when the bright glare of sunshine burned into her eyes. Her brain muddled; a thick blanket of fog hanging over her thoughts. The darkness seeped back to take her, and she welcomed its warmth, letting herself slide back into the abyss.

“Addison. I need to you wake up now.” An annoying hand shook her shoulder. “Addison.

Look at me. Open your eyes.”

She groaned in response, pulling back from the comfortable dark recesses of her mind. “Go away,” she mumbled, trying in vain to lift her arm and swat at the woman disturbing her.

Why couldn’t she move her arm? Wait. More importantly, who was this woman?

She swallowed thickly, peeling back her lids again. The woman was a blur; fuchsia and flesh coloring was all she saw.

“Blut…” She meant to ask what was going on, but her words were garbled and raspy.

Addison swallowed again without much luck in clearing the muck in the back of her throat.

Her tongue felt about two sizes too large and superglued to the roof of her mouth. Her head lulled further to the side as she refocused, the film over her vision clearing with each blink.

“You’re at the hospital. Do you remember coming in?”

The hand that had been shaking her was now checking her pulse.

Did she remember coming in? Squeezing her eyes closed, she shifted through her hazy mind. She remembered…something. Tickling the edge of her memory was an image of…what?

A man. No, not exactly a man. The
impression
of a man. She could sense his presence, his overwhelming presence. Strength and wonder laced with fear. Yes, there was definitely fear.

And desperation. For both them—herself and this man.

“Do you remember, Addison?”

“There was a man,” she murmured, opening her eyes to see the woman frowning down at her.

“Do you mean Dr. Meade?”

Dr. Meade? Her OB/GYN? The surgery. The tumor. No…not him, but…

“I had surgery,” she said, trying to work some moisture into her mouth to make talking easier.

“That’s right. We removed the tumor laparoscopically, but there were complications.”

“Complications?” Addison rolled her eyes, trying to focus and clear her head at the same time.

“You had a reaction to the anesthesia, but you pulled through just fine.” Addison was still as the words leaked into her consciousness. She felt a brief flutter of panic as she did a mental check of her body. She sensed a weight settling over her skin, and an irritating twinge in her subconscious as if she was trying to remember something but couldn’t.

“The doctor will discuss the details of the procedure with you later.” The nurse pressed a button and brought Addison’s upper body to an angled position.

Addison swallowed against the cotton in her throat. “Can I have some water?” The nurse paused and then reached for a small cup with a straw. “Just a sip to start. You can have more later.”

She did as she was told, taking a small refreshing sip of water before the nurse finished her exam. By the time the poking and prodding was done, Addison was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to sleep.

“The doctor will be in to speak with you shortly. I want you to get some rest now.” Addison nodded, grateful the woman was leaving to give her some peace, then snuggled back down into the covers.

*****

Addison was drifting in a semi-awake, broken reality, being pulled from her deep slumber by a distant voice. She was still so tired, and wanted to sink back down into the blessedly comfortable darkness. But then she heard the voice again. This time sharper and more determined.

Hey. Wake up.

“Don’t wanna,” she mumbled, and rolled over fully expecting to see Dr. Meade.

She was alone.

“What the…?” She glanced around the small room, but it wasn’t like she’d miss anyone if someone had been there. Figuring she’d been dreaming, she nestled back down.

Are you listening to me, or what? Didn’t I just say to wake up?

Addison shot up so fast her vision spun, the room wavering out of focus. She squeezed her eyes shut to steady herself, and when she did, she sensed
him
again. That male presence from the mist. The curiosity. The fear. Her eyes snapped open.

She was alone. Completely alone.

“Hello?” she whispered.

Jesus. It’s about damn time you acknowledge me. I mean, what the fuck? Are you deaf or
what?

“Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” She held her head, certain she was hearing the voice in her own mind now.

No freaking way!

Ah, yeah…I don’t think God had anything to do with this, but what do I know.
She could practically hear the mental shrug.
Maybe He did.

Her head snapped to one side, then ricocheted to the other as she scanned the small space again, certain she missed the man talking to her. Someone
had
to be there.

No one was.

She was dreaming. That was it. She was still sleeping and this was some bizarre memory somehow related to the vison…er, dream…she had during the surgery.

The anesthetic! There we go! They said she had a reaction. Was this it? Did it cause auditory hallucinations?

You just keep grasping at those straws, sweetheart. Let me know when you find one that
makes an ounce of sense, and then I’ll clue you into why you’re ass backwards.

That voice didn’t come from somewhere in the room. It was definitely in her head.

Panic seized every cell in her body. “I’m going insane. They broke my brain. I have brain damage. Holy crap. They’ll have to commit me. I’m never gonna live a normal life again. Oh, my God!”

Tears sprang to her eyes as she scrambled for the call button, making her vision swim into psychedelic patterns. The image was too close to the reality of what was happening in her head, so she scrubbed the moisture away, blinking rapidly to keep it that way.

Are you always so hyper, woman? Breathe! You’re heart is going a mile a minute. I feel like
we’re
about to have a stroke.

Dumbfounded, she concentrated on long, deep breaths.

Was it normal for crazy people to hear voices that address them specifically?

Beats the hell outta me, but I
am
talking to you…if that helps in any way.

“Not really,” she mumbled, sinking back into the bed, her numb fingers dropping the call button before she could press it.

That was no dream, sweetheart. That really happened.

“What happened?” She cringed, wondering why she was answering The Voice. How the hell was she going to beat this if she continued to humor it?

You died. So did I. Somehow we met up…well, wherever the hell that was. But, ah, when you
started to leave…

Wait. What? She…what?!

She had an image in her mind of the mist, the glowing mist. No, the mist wasn’t glowing.

He was. Holy crap! She
had
died and she went…where? But she saw him, she felt him. And then he followed her.

Yeeaahh. Sorry about that, Addison. What can I say? Staying there alone freaked me the
fuck out so I grabbed onto you. Next thing I know, here I am. And there you are. Here we are.

“I’m not dreaming.”

I think we covered that already.

She huffed in anger at The Voice—and how ridiculous was
that
—and then took a deep breath. Shaking her head, she tried to assimilate everything going on. Come on now. She was a rational woman, one who thought things through before making big decisions, who required proof of her convictions instead of flying off willy-nilly.

She died.

Rolling the two words around in her head, she let the impact of the short statement sink in.

A shiver shot down her spine as reality sank in. Yes, she died. She knew deep down in the pit of her stomach that it had actually happened. Shaking off the terror sinking its claws in, she shifted gears and took the knowledge one step further. Opening her mind, she thought back to the dream she had. No, she had to be honest with herself. It wasn’t a dream, it was a vision. Or an experience?

“Soooo you’re a ghost?” She never really thought about if she believed in them or not, but how could she deny what she saw? What she felt when she had slipped away? Her thoughts splintered as her resolve faltered. Or
was
she crazy? There was still that possibility.

You’re not crazy. Am I talking to myself here?! I just
told
you what happened. Hell, you just
remembered it yourself.

“You saw what I remembered?” She didn’t think ghosts could get in your head like that, but what did she know? Maybe they could.

I’m not a ghost. At least, I don’t think I am. I’m a spirit. Inside you. Yeah, that about sums it
up. I can feel what you do—physically and emotionally (lucky me)—and I can hear what you’re
thinking. Well, most of what you are thinking. It’s a little choppy.

He was inside her? She gasped. “Get the hell outta my body!”
Jesus, sweetheart. It’s not like I’m copping a feel in here. I’m just, I don’t know, hooked into
your subconscious or some shit. Look…this is as new to me as it is to you. Besides, I’m the one
that’s dead here! Have a little fucking compassion for Christ’s sake.

“Sorry.” Did she just apologize for him being inside her body? For latching on to her like some leech in the afterlife?! “I take it back.”

A deep, throaty laugh echoed inside.
Oooo…that’ll teach me. So are you going to help me,
or what?

Help him?

That’s what I said.

“Wait. Did you just hear that?”

Duh.

“But I didn’t say it out loud. I thought it.”

Cool. That means you can talk to me without having a conversation with yourself then, huh?

BOOK: Connected (Twists of Fate #1)
13.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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