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Authors: Karen Amanda Hooper

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BOOK: Fighting for Infinity
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Edgar had been in a deep trance since sunrise. He was searching the Akashic Records, relentlessly sifting through centuries of important moments in the universal computer, trying to find any hint of how this situation with Maryah could be possible.

While waiting, I traversed from the deck of Helen and Edgar’s cottage to Maryah’s side dozens of times. I appeared on the deck again and peeked through the window. Edgar was still motionless in his recliner with his eyes closed.

” Louise grunted from her deck chair. “Please stop traversing so much. It’s like someone endlessly pacing but worse. You’re making my blood pressure rise.”

“I’m sorry.” I tried to stand still, but it was too difficult. “May I pace then?”

Louise nodded. “It would be an improvement.”

Every three strides I’d glance through the glass doors at Edgar, but he never moved. His bifocals still rested in his lap. I had worried about Edgar becoming
ensnared somewhere like Maryah and not being able to wake up, but he assured all of us that it wasn’t remotely close to the same situation. His soul didn’t leave his body when he read the Akashic Records. He simply went into a trance from which he could be woken at any time. 

“Given the circumstances,” I said, “maybe we should wake him.”

Helen chuckled, never lowering her sun-basking face. “You know his rule. Never wake him no matter how long he works. That rule has been in place since our first go-round. Not even I have ever broken it.”

“Edgar’s fine.” Louise stood and wrapped her arm around me. “You didn’t sleep all night. I’m sure you’re exhausted. Let me make you some more of Helen’s calming tea.”

“I’ve had a gallon of her tea. It’s not helping.”

Helen lowered her sunglasses and winked at me. “I could make you my sedative tea.”

“No, thank you.” I’d seen the results of Helen’s sedative tea. I didn’t need to be comatose.

Louise leveled me with a concerned stare. “Nathan, how much have you told Maryah about Dedrick?”

“We haven’t had an opportunity to discuss him much.”

patted my arm. “Not the most enjoyable of topics while you’re getting to know each other all over again.”

“I should say so.”

Helen readjusted in her chair so she was sitting up straight. “There never seems to be enough time. No matter how many meetings we hold or conversations we have with her, there’s just too much she needs to know. So much catching up to do.”

Louise pressed one hand to her cheek, which meant she was stressed. “I’m worried that her history with Dedrick is one thing we should have told her right away.”

“Thank you, Louise.” I pulled away from her. “As if I don’t feel wretched enough already.”

“I didn’
t mean to make you feel worse, but I am concerned. If he has figured out a way to communicate with her then—” Louise glanced at me then out at the red rocks. “Well, never mind. One thing at a time.”

Louise was usually the one making people feel better, but her voicing my concerns out loud—concerns I’d ran through my mind in a million different awful scenarios—made me feel like a daft git.

I should have told Maryah everything about her past with Dedrick, but how was I supposed to delicately deliver so much disturbing information? Maybe I wanted those parts of our past to remain erased. 

“Let me know when Edgar is finished,” I said. And with that I traversed again.



I stood in the doorway watching Krista switch out Maryah’s IV bag. The scene reminded me of all the nights Krista and I had spent at the hospital together while Maryah was in her coma. Only less than a year ago. We’d come so far, yet here I was again, p
raying with everything I had for Maryah to survive.

“Hey,” Krista said to me.

“Hey,” I mumbled.

“She’s going to be
fine. She survived a brutal attack and a coma. This is child’s play for her.”

I gave a slight nod and walked into the room. “Take a break. Spend some tim
e with Carson doing something normal.”

Krista grinned. “Normal? This lifetime taking care of her has become normal for me.”

“The old her wouldn’t stand for that. She would have thought she should be taking care of you.” Mary always wanted to protect everyone.

“I know, but she took care of everyone for so long. It’s our turn to look after her.”

Krista sat beside Maryah on the bed and held her hand. “I love her, you know. This version of her. The clueless, reckless at times, uncertain person she is now. While we were growing up, so many times she turned to me for advice or help, and it was such a surreal feeling. It was so different to experience her looking up to me for a change.” Krista glanced at me and her cheeks blushed. “And with you, she’s this lovesick puppy dog experiencing raging hormones—technically for the first time—and the fact that she can’t focus on life’s bigger issues because she’s so twitterpated with you sort of cracks me up.”

In spite of everything, that made me smile. “She truly is a teenager this time.”

“I know. In so many ways it’s cool, and it’s fun to watch her experience life with a new perspective and not be insistent and so Mother Superior like she used to be.”

I leaned against the bed post, recalling memories of so many instances when Mary wielded her all-knowing upper hand.

“But sometimes,” Krista continued quietly. “I miss the old her so much it hurts.”

She was gazing at Maryah, lost in reverie of the past. “She was my rock. She taught me so much, and she gave such great advice. She always calmed my fears or worries. Now, all I seem to d
o is worry or fear for her wellbeing. I wish Mary could sit here with me, wrap me in her strong arms, and tell me that Maryah is going to be fine.”

My heart ached for Krista. I knew what it was to adore and love Maryah, to be so endeared by the new her who was experiencing the world anew, but to also miss the old her more than words could express.

“I want them both.” Krista’s voice cracked as if she was choking back tears. “Is that greedy? That I want my imperfect cousin/best friend and my confident and strong motherly figure?”

“It’s not greedy. It’s natural.”

Krista stroked Maryah’s arm. “Mary would have seen this coming. Mary wouldn’t have let Dedrick trap Maryah like this.”

“Mary is Maryah,” I reminded her. Like me, Krista was separating her soul into two different beings too vividly.

“Which means somewhere, deep down, she’s going to be strong enough to survive whatever happens.” Krista looked up at me with glassy eyes. “Right?”

I spoke with the conviction I wanted so badly to feel. “Right. She always finds a way.”

Krista hesitantly nodded as if she didn’t quite believe me but wanted to.

“How about a breather?” Carson asked, rubbing Krista’s shoulders. I hadn’t consciously acknowledged his entrance because lately he and Krista seemed to exist almost as one person. I expected Carson to be wherever Krista was. 

After they left the room, I sat on the bed. I lifted Maryah’s hand and started massaging it. “Krista misses you.”

Talking to her made me feel somewhat better. I kept rubbing her wrist and forearm. “I miss you too. All of you. New and old.”

I lifted her arm, moving it in gentle circles, trying to loosen her shoulder joint. I worked her elbow and rotated her wrist. Even if she couldn’t do it on her own, her body needed to move. I pulled back the covers and exercised her feet and legs too.

“Good idea.” Louis
e carried in two fresh pillows. “Keeps her blood circulating.”

“Not one joint has cracked or popped,” I said. “I suspect Krista has already been exercising her.”

“Carson suggested it yesterday.”

I set Maryah’s leg down and pulled the cover
s over her again. “I never thought of doing it until now.”

“You’ve had infinite worries on your mind.”

“Still,” I grunted with chagrin. “I should have known what she needed.”

“Nathan.” Louise’s voice softened but sounded stern at the same time. “Please don’t throw yourself a pity party right now. We’re all much too busy to attend. Be strong, mentally and emotionally. That’s what she needs from you.”

She kissed her fingers then touched my chin. She shut the door behind her as she left the room.

I stretched out beside Maryah, studying the
curves and angles of her innocent face. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered. “I keep failing you over and over. I don’t know how to fix any of this.”







“How is she?” Dedrick asked Lexie, keeping his focus on me.

I forced my mind to think about nothing but white noise, like static on a radio station.

“She seems fine,” Lexie said.

Dedrick’s beady eyes mentally probed me. “What’s she thinking?”

“She’s not thinking anything.”

He squinted until only two black slits framed the bridge of his bony nose. I wanted to sew his lids closed with his greasy hair so he could never look at me again. “Quite clever, aren’t you, darling?”

I kept concentrating on my self-created white noise.

He clasped his hands behind his back and strolled around the room like he was enjoying a sunny day at the park. “Rina, how are you today? Are you enjoying your time with Maryah?” She lowered her eyes and chewed on her fingers. “Yes, not much fun to play with when she has no body, hmm?”

Rina still didn’t look up at him.

Why didn’t Dedrick ever ask Lexie what Rina was thinking? He thought Rina couldn’t speak, but surely he’d want to intrude on her thoughts. He opened the glass cabinet again and pulled out a bottle and syringe. Rina hugged her knees to her chest.

“No!” I shouted, rushing to position myself between him and her.

Emotionless Lexie said, “Maryah is yelling ‘no.’”

“No?” Dedrick filled the syringe with liquid. “Why not? It does her no harm. Her fear of needles is irrational. It only pricks for a moment.” He walked right through me. His energy passing through mine triggered my gag reflex. I turned to see Rina visibly shaking and Dedrick lifting her stained sleeve. “Shh, Rina, you’re making Maryah believe I’m hurting you. I’d never do such a thing.”

Her head thrashed side to side as Dedrick stuck the needle in her arm. He pulled away and stood up as Rina’s eyelids fluttered, then her head fell forward.

“You’re a heartless pig.”

Lexie repeated me. “You’re a heartless pig.”

Dedrick sighed as he locked the cabinet. “I’m far from heartless, Maryah. If you only knew.”

I played the white noise in my head again. There was no point in arguing with a madman, and I didn’t want to give Lexie anything else to report.

“Nothing,” Lexie said. “She’s gone silent again.”

“I expected as much. Lexie, you’re free to go.” Dedrick licked two fingers then doused the candle flame. The black curtain fell. Much to my disgust, he was still there when the light returned.

He grinned at me like a vulture about to swoop in on its prey. “It’s just the two of us now. Time to get reacquainted. I know you view me as some evil monster who murdered your family, but for the record, Gregory did the killing, and I am not a monster.” He sat on the corner of the table. “First, I’d like to start by apologizing for Gregory almost killing you that night on your parents’ boat dock. I though
t you weren’t
. I thought we had attacked the family of a complete stranger who would be able to describe us to the police. In truth, he shouldn’t have killed an innocent girl, but Gregory had just murdered your whole family. The only humane thing would be to kill you as well. Who would want to live through an ordeal like that after losing her parents and brother?”

“But I did live through it.” My eyes stung as if producing real tears. “You left me for dead, but because of Nathan and Krista, I lived.”

“I’m still not certain how you survived,” Dedrick mused. “I assume Krista stumbled upon you in the nick of time.” He lifted a brow while watching me for a reaction I didn’t give him. “Hmm, well, perhaps someday you’ll enlighten me.”

“Never,” I growled.

“Next, as if you hadn’t suffered enough, jaded and damaged River also attempted to kill you.” Dedrick shook his head. “I apologize for his recklessness a million times over. He’s a spoiled child. I’m partly to blame for that. He feels entitled to whatever and whomever he wants. He wanted you, and when you rejected him, well, let’s just say he gets his temper honestly.”

River had told me Dedrick ordered him to kill me or he’d take everything away from him: his car, house, music career. Not that River was excused from almost murdering me, but did Dedrick really think I’d believe he had nothing to do with it?

“I can guess what River told you,” Dedrick continued. “He told the police I made him do it, threatened his financial security and such, but I did nothing of the sort. You told him about your kindrily and how they believed you and Nathaniel were destined to be together. The thought sent him into a frenzy, and then you denied his kiss and fell asleep in his bed, calling out for Nathaniel as you dreamed.
is what set him off.”

Dedrick crossed his arms over his chest. “You most likely don’t believe me and that’s understandable, but here’s something to ponder: Why would I break River out of jail just to lock him up again? I’ll tell you why, because he hadn’t given up, Maryah. He called me every day, begging me to make sure you were killed. You and Nathaniel.”

I stiffened at the thought of anyone trying to kill Nathan.

“Did he try to play it cool during your private visit?” One side of Dedrick’s chapped lips lifted into half of a sinister smile. “Still claiming he suffers from temporary insanity? Did he assure you that he’d help you break free if he could? Did he strategically remind you of the friendship you shared?”

Dedrick’s brows rose as he waited for me to answer. I stopped myself from nodding. I wasn’t telling Dedrick anything. 

“Schizophrenia with violent tendencies,” Dedrick stated. “That’s
his diagnosis. He cried to me on the phone from prison. He couldn’t bear the thought of you with Nathaniel. I didn’t trust that prison to contain him. A heartbroken man will stop at nothing when his mind is hell-bent on a woman.” Dedrick stood and walked closer to me. “I’ll be honest with you. I intend to always be honest because I want to regain your trust.” He reached out to touch me, but dropped his hand when I backed away. “I didn’t care about what River might do to Nathaniel, but I couldn’t allow you to be harmed again. I’m keeping you safe. From the mentally unstable side of River, and from that group of meddling souls who claim themselves to be your kindrily. Sometimes the true monsters disguise themselves as the good guys, while the unexpected hero stays hidden in the shadows.”

Was he freaking kidding me? He was so demented that he thought his creepy speech would make me believe he was a good guy and my kindrily were bad? I almost felt sorry for him. “You’re even crazier than I thought.”

His eyes softened as he stared at me for several silent blinks. “My, how I wish you hadn’t erased. I wish it every day.”

I drifted backward again, needing to get away from him. Why would Dedrick care that I erased? If anything he should have been happy that I still had my power for him to steal and use as his own.

He freed the top button of his shirt then rolled his neck. “There’s so much you need to know. So, so much. I don’t know what lies they’ve told you, but I fear I’ll never be able to convince you of the truth.”

I was confused by how forlorn he sounded.

After another long silent moment, he raised his head and much to my shock, his eyes were glassy. He pressed his lips together. “I’m happy you’re here. I’m sorry it has to be under these conditions, but please know—” He tapped his fingers against his lips. “I’ve said enough on that matter for now. The important thing is you’re safe.” He turned toward the candle. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Wait!” I wanted to know what he meant, what he almost said. For a brief moment, he seemed sincer
e and almost human. As the darkness enveloped me, I shook my head at my own moment of stupidity.

Dedrick was not sincere. He was far from human. He was the reason my parents were gone. The reason I no longer had a brother. The reason my heart was breaking for them all over again. A lump swelled in my throat as I thought about how much Dedrick had taken from me. Tears that couldn’t be real blurred my vision.

Dedrick was the devil, and I wouldn’t fall for his tricks.

BOOK: Fighting for Infinity
4.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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