Authors: Kimberly Stedronsky
Roam Series, Book
Rise (Roam Series, Book Three)
Text copyright © 2013 Kimberly Stedronsky
All Rights Reserved.
This is a work of fiction. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work.
Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the expressed written permission from the author.
To My Brian
From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate
July 14, 2013
She screamed, her fear resounding through the castle and into the snowy mountainside.
Morgan already held Eva in her arms. West turned to the guard at his left, breaking his arm before his neck. Another gua
rd approached from behind. He sent his elbow into the man’s throat, not waiting to watch him choke.
knew the sound of the gunshot before the bullet reached his chest.
jerked and opened his eyes, the static of the baby monitor crackling. Sighing, he grabbed his cell phone and slid his bare feet to the hardwood floor. After padding down the dark hall, he stopped in the doorway of the bedroom, blinking away the sleep in his eyes.
Daa,” Eva grinned, gripping the rails of the crib and pulling herself to her feet. Her plump cheeks were wet and shiny in the nightlight’s glow, evidence of a new tooth coming in. After a moment, she dropped to the sheet on her diapered bottom before determinedly trying to stand again.
“Daddy is sleeping,” he smiled softly, moving toward her to press a kiss to her red curls. “
Daa?” She repeated, her chubby fingers touching her palms in a grabbing motion as she reached for him.
West scooped her against his bare chest, pressing two more kisses to her head.
Walking back to his bedroom,
he watched as the alarm clock changed to
Get up and drink a pot of coffee, or see if she’ll sleep a little more?
His phone vibrated, and he
grabbed for it, shifting the baby to his hip as he glanced at the number.
. He reached for a diaper, carrying Eva to the changing table.
Morning.” Pinning his cell phone between his shoulder and ear, he cleared his throat.
“No sleep, either?”
She sounds like she’s been up all night.
“A collective two hours. How soon can you be here?”
“It’s her birthday,” she choked softly.
West re-snapped the pink
Onesie, gripping his daughter protectively to his side as she reached for his phone. “I know.”
“What if we tried again today? Maybe, since it’s her birthday, there’s a way, or some special significance…,”
“We can try.” He thought of the inclined plane in Chili, the last one he’d attempted. “I’ll drive to Pittsburgh after school if you’ll stay with Eva.”
She was silent for long moments, finally taking a deep, shaking breath. “She’s gone,
isn’t she?” she asked softly.
He went down the stairs in his gray pajama pants, lowering Eva to her Pack-n-Play before turning the air conditioner down to sixty-eight. “No she isn’t. I’ve tried 1912, but I’m so close to the coordinates for 1790, and…,”
“I’ll be over at six, okay?”
“Morgan,” he cleared his throat, closing his eyes tightly. “I will find her.”
The last moments inside the cas
tle roared through his memory. It was her tortured scream that made him turn back, killing two guards with his bare hands before the third shot him in the chest. Jason dragged him, bleeding and unconscious, back to the door at the tracks, and immortality healed him once more as he stopped dying in the back of the Pilot.
When he regained consciousness two hours later, he went back to the inclined plane, taking it up to the top of the mountain as the others waited below.
He could not go back.
The days after were spent grasping for sanity. Logan and Roam were reported missing, and a manhunt began. Her father, devastated, worked with Logan’s parents day and night to search for their missing children. The entire country watched as
their yearbook pictures flash across newscasts, and saw their parents beg for information about their son and daughter. After seven months, the FBI had no leads.
They were gone.
I’ve failed her.
He gripped the counter, taking deep, calming breaths as the torrent of guilt consumed him once more. He watched her be tortured and killed a million different ways in his vivid, demented imagination, and continued suffering through the memory of standing with Eva in his arms. He had contemplated fighting anyway, as he’d planned, but Eva would have surely died.
He saw Roam’s eyes, pleading, begging him to take her daughter to safety.
” he cursed, fists clenching over the sink as he fought for control.
Daa!” Eva shouted, and he lifted his face to the living room.
“Daddy won’t curse,” he called softly, filling the carafe with water.
And then there was Laurel
Laurel stayed with him for the first month. She explained that for her
only a year had passed. She still looked only twenty-eight years old, though more than nine years had gone by since Troy had taken her away.
One year there to nine in this world
“I can’t believe you wouldn’t tell me about all of this. You were my husband… are my husband,” she
said, sitting quietly on the couch.
“I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t risk your life, or Violet’s. But, I ended up doing that anyway.”
“No one hurt me. I sat in a cell, worrying, praying, wondering where I was and what was happening to Violet. Suddenly, one day, they brought a baby to me, ordering me to care for her.” She had stared at Eva, sighing. “I fed her and cared for her for two days… and then you came.”
“How did she
there? One moment, Roam held her, and as we passed through the fountain… she was just gone.” It unnerved him to think about his infant child, lying on that mountain side in the snow.
Did a compassionate soldier simply pick her up and take her to the castle?
“I don’t know… I was in a cell.”
“Roam and I lost her for almost a month.”
“She’s very brave,” Laurel focused on her hands, not meeting his eyes. “
He found a newer house for the two of them near the lake and bought it outright. “I want you and Violet close,” he explained as he offered her the keys. Laurel accepted, and moved into the lake house with Violet.
He started the paperwork for their divorce.
Violet, though thankful to have her mother back, was angry all of the time. West enrolled her at Madison High to finish out the year, and on her graduation day, was the one to put the diploma in her hands.
She never stopped
trying to find a way back to the other realm…
West set the coffee pot to brew, reaching for Eva.
His only consolation was that Logan had stayed.
In all of our lifetimes, I never thought Logan would be her only chance.
“Mommy’s birthday is today,” West whispered against her soft cheek. Eva giggled, patting his lips.
“Let’s watch Mommy.” He moved the mouse for his laptop, clicking on the icon marked
Camden- Christmas 2011.
The video was taken with Morgan’s iPhone. Roam, wrapped in a white robe, shifted cross-legged in front of the Christmas tree, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose.
“Okay, Morgan, come on, I’m gross.”
“I just want to record your reaction, Socrates.
For me. Calm down.”
she complained teasingly, tearing into the wrapping paper. As she opened the box, West watched her hand fly to her mouth in excitement
. “The Abraham Lincoln biography! Unabridged!”
“Dude, it’s signed.
Not by Lincoln, you know… but by the author.”
She shrieked with excitement, and the video teetered as she hugged her sister.
“Thank you! I can’t wait to read this!”
“That’s the one you wanted, right? Not the one where he’s fighting vampires?”
She chuckled, her verdant green eyes sparkling in the lights of the tree.
“No, this is it. You’re the best.”
Morgan turned the camera to her own face, looking satisfied.
“Did you hear that? I’m the best. Take note, Logan. You may date my sister, but I remain the best. “
West closed the media window as Eva squirmed in his lap.
“Maa,” she reached for the mouse, and he hugged her to his chest.
,” he whispered against her hair, watching her toes press into the skin over his bare forearm.
coordinates were gone.
December 15, 2012
“Stop thrashing,” he pressed me against the stone windowsill, his cutting blue eyes reflecting in the glass as I watched everyone that I love marching through the fallen snow toward the mountainside.
As Troy’s hand slid around my waist, I screamed, slapping my open palms against the window with all of my strength. Suddenly, West turned and fought back. I stilled, petrified as he attacked two soldiers before another raised his gun, shooting him in the chest
Gripping the stone ridge of the window, I held my breath until Jason shouldered his weight, carrying
West toward the platform. In the distance, from the high elevation of the tower, I watched them disappear into the twilight.
“He’ll live.” He caught my wrists, flattening his own hands over mine against the pane of glass. “I wanted you to see them go. I’ve kept my bargain. You will keep yours.”
Meeting his eyes in the reflection, I shook my head. “I can’t.
Just end this.
” My words escaped in a stifled moan.
He turned me to face him, pinning me cruelly to the ledge.
I lifted my face to his, closing my eyes.
Please make it quick.