Authors: Ashley Parker
When You Wake Series
Copyright (C) 2014 by Ashley Parker
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
A quick flick of her thin tan wrist towards herself extinguished the burning candles encircling them under the glow of the moon. The grumbling voices faded in the distance as the snapping of twigs and scraping of boots across the dry ground nearly silenced.
“Who is out this late?” a female whispered.
“It must have been another watch shift,” a male voice shook in the cold.
“Those should have ended weeks ago.” She rose from her crouched position, her eyes on the deep forest.
The patrols, or boys too young to be carrying anything more than a condom as she called them, were supposed to be done weeks ago, when it was announced that there was nothing more to search for. They were supposed to be alone tonight.
“He sent out a few night watchers after another sighting had been verified, but I’m not sure that’s what they were.” The young man peered over the flameless candles still smoking from their abrupt snuff out.
There were more false sightings than they knew what to do with. This group was different from any other he’d seen. They were out later than most patrols.
“Chayton, you may stand. They have gone.” The woman stood straighter with confidence.
With her palm facing out, an even sway of her hand ignited each rising candle. A slow release of breath came to an end as the circle of candles leveled, just above their heads, freely hanging in midair.
Chayton pulled open a small sack from the center of the circle. “What if we’re too late?” He hesitated to remove the items from the bag.
“She is in need of our help. She will not be able to find herself without us,” the woman spoke calmly.
“He should have been protecting her. That is his only purpose, isn’t it?” Chayton carelessly tossed each item on the grass within the circle created by the shadow of candles.
“Like many of us, he can only do so much right now.” She watched him, momentarily distracted from her task.
“Magena, we trusted him.” Chayton reached into the bag, and before he randomly tossed another item, he held the item in his hand. “After all that’s happened, we offered him a second chance,” he paused to admire the glass rose. A small smile replaced his pressed lips. He carefully placed its fragile body on the ground.
“He still has that chance. He reached out to us. She is alive and safe. The connection is still there and that should be enough to trust in him. Now we must mend the pieces before it is too late.”
“Yeah, because what happened to her gives me so much confidence in what he can do.”
Magena pulled Chayton’s attention to her. “If you do not have faith in him, this will end as you believe it. Now cleanse that hatred and find your love for her.”
Magena continued with her preparations, as Chayton took better care of pulling items from the burlap sacks and placing them inside the circle enclosing them. Each item sparkled and glistened under the moon. He gave the Ferris Wheel a quick but gentle spin, a weakened smile faded from his face.
“Why have you brought a quilt, Child?” she spoke with distress in her voice.
“This was the quilt we took on our picnics.” He refolded the blanket.
The memories that involved the quilt entrapped his heart. It was with this quilt that he felt her sweet embrace, her lovely lips, her soulful eyes, and beautiful heart when she was gone. It was more important than any piece lying in the grass. Chayton almost regretted having to let it go, but if anything could bring her back, this would do it.
“You understand it may not hold your energy as well as the others.” Her hand rested on his shoulder.
“I do. I’m willing to take that chance.” He stared at the multicolored sun pattern, walking the shape with his fingers.
“She will remember and when it is safe, we will all go home.” She squeezed his shoulder for reassurance.
Magena finished her preparations and listened for other interruptions. Everything was riding on this night going off without a hitch.
“We are ready to start. You will be tired after this, and if done correctly, you will be a little lost for some time. I will be here to help you.”
“This has to work.” Magena grabbed Chayton as he stepped away.
“Please listen to me. If you are not in the right mind, this will not work, and can in fact, kill you.” She held his shoulders softly.
“I’m in the right mind. I’m ready,” his voice shook, this time not because of the chill in the air.
“I need you to stop for a minute. I need you to stop because you are not thinking of her, you are thinking of him and how this is his fault. If you take that with you into this, you are centering her world on him. Do you understand what I am telling you?” Magena’s voice was calm and wise; the slight panic was practically invisible.
“I’m okay.” He ignored her.
“If you’re sure.” She waited for his signal, even if it wasn’t the right one.
Chayton nodded. “Let’s begin.”
She knew he wasn’t ready, but she had no choice. If he believed he was ready, she couldn’t stop him. He understood the severity; it was his pride that he needed to tame.
Within the center of the circle, surrounded by the lit candles, Chayton and Magena sat facing each other. Chayton placed the most important piece on his lap, the quilt.
Magena breathed in and out, as she looked up to the moon, slowly raising her hands straight above her head. And as if connected to her, the circle of items lifted from the grass. Her arms created a counter clock circular motion, a subtle spiral made of crystal, glass, and marble turned around them.
She looked down and opened her hands to Chayton. He slipped his hands into hers, his acceptance of her hands into his created a magnetic connection. Their hands woven together, their knees touching, their trust was earned.
“Concentrate on your love for her. Remember everything that you have shared. Think of your future and your promises. Feed these gifts with your energy.”
The sudden halt of the candles brought Magena’s eyes to Chayton just as his head shot back, his eyes snapped opened. They were a pit of tar. He struggled to pull away from Magena, choking and shaking violently.
“You are fighting it, child. You are not seeing this with clear eyes. I warned you.” She held onto him as tightly as she could. “Please, find your love. Find her. Or she will not having anything to come back to.”
The candles began to spin again, a smoky white ash escaped from Chayton’s eyes, swirling in rotation with the candles. The rotation sped up, lifting the spiral of gifts above Chayton and Magena. The swirling of white ash enveloped each item, leaving a piece of Chayton within them.
His slumped body broke from Magena’s trance as the final piece accepted his offering.
Daylight approached and Chayton awoke from his lost travels. Magena sat under an apple tree watching the sunrise.
“Did you find her?” Magena asked.
“Only as I was pulled away from her, she didn’t see me.” He rubbed his eyes.
“I warned you, child.” She stared into the distance.
“I thought I was…”
“The gifts have been delivered. Your sacrifice will bring back our Eva.”
When You Wake
“They’re coming!” I yelled.
My heart was still trying to pound its way through my chest as I breathed in the morning light. Removal of the smothering feeling from my face only relieved part of my problem. The cool silk sheets clinging to me created a dilemma I could only feel when moving my limbs. With each movement, the surge of pain infected every joint in my body.
I searched for the culprit, but it didn’t take long.
I'm an idiot.
I thought to myself.
Half of my aching body lay tangled in the sheets, I now choose to believe tried to suffocate me. Every attempt to break from this cloth prison only hurt me more. Small whimpers escaped from my pressed lips. I had to stop moving to prevent further torture in hopes I could calm my rapid heartbeat.
I closed my eyes,
inhale, and exhale.
Pieces of my dream raced through the darkness under my eyelids. Panic set in. The vivid dream I was trying to run from became illuminated by the shadows with masks
. This couldn’t be a dream?
I struggled once more feeling the room closing in on me. I freed my arms from the web of blankets only to see a black brace tightly fitted around my right wrist. I couldn’t remember falling asleep with a brace. The sight of a large gray boot, peeking through a small opening in the sheet, worsened my confusion. I was drawing a blank.
Another tug towards freedom led to a dead end and I had to throw in the towel. My fate was sealed. I was going to die like this, my head on the floor, my leg dangling awkwardly from the edge of the bed. Yes, of course
, this is
how I would die.
"Eva! What on Earth happened here? Are you all right?" a man smirking at my awkwardness appeared from around the bed I had just cursed.
"I-I-I woke up and I was like this…" I found myself distracted by the man's concerned and undeniably beautiful face.
No, don’t look at me
. I cursed the bed again. I closed my eyes and opened them slowly to his beautiful face, no one in scary masks anywhere.
"Oh Eva, let me help you." He carefully untangled my death cocoon.
"Thank you." I stared up at him still testing my limbs.
"I could help you up?” he offered. “I'll be gentle, I promise."
His words sang to me, the melody soothed my racing heart. His open hands beckoned me to touch them. I wanted to touch him. He did invite me.
I awkwardly reached up, my healthy hand slid into his right palm. Considerate of my injured wrist, he wrapped his left hand around my elbow. The cool savior’s hands eased my hot skin. I took a deep breath and, in one gentle but quick tug, I was on my feet.
The swiftness dimmed my vision and unbalanced my dysfunctional legs.
Kind sir, please catch me before I fall.
As he became my legs, my tiny, frail body leaned against his hard chest. His gentle but bulging arms placed me on a small, leather couch near the very large and tall bed that nearly killed me.
"Sorry, I must have moved too fast." I slipped a chunk of my long, stringy hair behind my left ear.
"That's my fault. I thought I could make it painless for you and forgot about your head."
I cocked it to the right.
"Eva, are you okay?" He knelt in front of me, his hand on my thigh.
"I…don't know." I looked down at his hand, gently squeezing my thigh.
The little cuts and bruises scattered down my legs pulled my attention from him. I stupidly poked at a large bruise near where his hand rested on my thigh. My hands and arms suffered nicks and welts similar to those on my legs.
My unsupported hand grazed my face; more cuts ached under my touch. My chest rose and dropped quickly, picking up in speed. I went to sleep with smooth skin and an unharmed body.
"What's wrong?" His fingers caressed along my jaw line. A warm tingle moved through my lips, and for a moment distracted me from my confusion.
“How did I get this way?” I continued to investigate my wounds again.
His eyes grew wide, his hand stilled against my jaw. "You do remember what happened, don't you?"
I stared at my legs. My parents always told me it was wrong to lie.
"What's my name, Eva?" He lifted my chin.
I eyed him curiously.
What is your name?
I studied his features briefly and then closed my eyes.
Jeff, no…not a Jeff, or a Dominic……Well, maybe Dominic.
"You don't remember me, do you?" He must have seen my confusion.
"I know my name is Eva," I avoided answering him directly.
He shot up in front of me. His eyes burned a hole in the floor while his heels dug a path from the antique desk to the wall and back again.
"You don't remember what happened. She assured me you'd be fine and didn’t have to worry about any serious issues. Nothing long-term," he continued to look down at his feet talking just above a whisper. He was in panic mode and yet, I was still calmed by his words.
"Could I have a mirror please?"
He stopped at the sound of my voice and took in a deep breath.
If I could distract him long enough maybe, I could get some answers.
He quickly walked the room, no longer scolding imaginary people.
My eyes followed him around the room, taking a detour to the unlit fireplace as he left the room. Pictures just out of view were lined across the white mantle. I fixated on the unfocused photographs and the oddness of each frame. They were identical in every way but unlike anything in the room.
Unable to adjust my eyes to make out anyone in the pictures, I moved from the couch for a closer look. My attempt to walk across the room created much chaos and overall regret that I hadn’t considered my predicament.
"Eva, why on earth would you try to walk on your own?" The man reappeared at my side more panicked than before.
"I-I'm sorry, Sir."
His large stature hovered over me. I was taught to be mindful of my elders as he was obviously much older than I.
"Sir? Caleb, Eva. My name is Caleb." He helped me to my feet once again, with a bit more consideration to my lack of equilibrium.
"Mr. Caleb. I'm sorry. I just wanted to see the pictures. I guess I don't know my way around here. I wasn’t paying attention."
"Oh Eva, you don't recognize your own room…" his words came out a few octaves too high.
The large sigh followed by heavy breathing and sweat beads turning into streams were a pretty good indication that this guy was going to fall right here and die from a panic attack or a stroke; either wouldn't be much of a surprise.
"This is my room? It's much too big to be my room."
And a bit elderly for my taste
. No, there was no way that this room was my room. This is not my room. This can’t be my room. I did not go to sleep here.
I eyed the room, paying little attention to my crutch, as Caleb helped me to the small chair just by the fireplace. It was a room fit for a historical home, not one I would have decorated.
"Yes and drafty, you keep reminding me that a girl your age wants something younger looking and less stuffy." He rolled his eyes in a bit of a huff.
"Mr. Caleb, please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm pretty sure this isn't my room. Although yes, it is rather stuffy, I'm sure my parents are worried about me. And you, I'm sorry but I'm not sure who you are."
Even as handsome as you are.
He rubbed the back of his neck. "The mirror you asked for." He placed a small porcelain mirror in my hand. I was in awe. The mirror looked like it belonged in the personal collection of Belle. But Caleb did not appear to be the Beast and I certainly was not Beauty.
My reflection appeared in front of me. I snapped my eyes shut.
Lies! All lies! I was still dreaming. That’s what this was, all a dream.
I didn’t want to open my eyes, because when I did, everything was still going to be wrong.
I slid my fingers through each dip and dimple, line and feature of my face. The small scratches nipped into my flesh along my high cheeks bones, kept me in the reality. I opened my light brown eyes, again seeing a face that was not mine looking back at me. I stared longer. I wasn't nine years old. I had aged. I was a young lady.
"How old am I?" I looked around the mirror, interrupting the garble he was spouting, barely putting his face into focus.
"Okay, this really isn't funny anymore. You just turned 19. You know you’re 19.” I couldn’t have lost so much time. “The doctor said everything was fine. You were fine. Yesterday, everything was fine." He was concerned for me. My cheeks heated under his stare.
I focused again on the image in the mirror. Yes, I was older but something else was different. It was in my eyes, they were harsh, hollow, and dark. I feared them.
"What happened to me?" I asked distracting Caleb from another meltdown. He was strong, but my lax in memory left him a mess.
"You had an accident," he mumbled. Guilt crawled all over his face.
"I don't seem to remember that…I don't remember…" A large commotion outside of my room sent me into a state of agitation.
"Caleb! Are you okay?"
My stomach dropped to the center of the earth as a small woman entered my room in a panic. She leapt into Caleb's arms. Bile burned in my stomach, unkindly moving upward and lingering in my throat.
"Nyssa, I'm okay, please," Caleb blushed as he peeled her from his body. She was pathetic. That was a pathetic move, unnecessary on all counts.
"You called. You were stuttering…"
"Dr. Nyssa, I called you because Eva…is not herself," he spoke just above a whisper.
Her face dropped from an over exaggerated worry to an annoyed kind of disappointment in the most obvious way. I’m sure his concern for me caused her to look through me.
My breathing ran from me.
I don't like her. I know I don't like her.
"Eva," she planted a fake smile on her face.
Standing in front of me, she placed her hands on her knees just like my teachers did when they thought I needed coddled. I wanted to punch them in their face.
Might have to punch you in the face.
"I don't know you," my words shook. I slouched further in my chair.
"Eva, I'm Dr. Nyssa."
I shuddered under her touch against my arm.
No, no, no, no, please, no!
My inner 9-year-old-self ducked behind the chair I sat in as I attempted to stay calm.
Please don't touch me.
My shudder didn't go unnoticed.
"Dr. Nyssa, why don't you give us a minute? I think Eva wants to clean up a bit before you look her over." Caleb's eyes were crinkled with curiosity, but he smiled at Dr. Nyssa regardless.
As she was closing the door behind her, he knelt in front of me. He was breathing more steadily and seemed more collected, unlike the previous hour of pacing and a possible psychotic breakdown.
"What's going on?" he lowered his voice looking from the door to me.
"Please don't leave me alone with her." Our eyes locked, and his widened not understanding my distress.
"Is there a problem between you and Dr. Nyssa?"
I shrugged my shoulders trying not to show how much I truly detested her.
"Do you remember her?" Caleb's excitement grew and fell as I avoided the question.
Did I remember her?
I found myself sitting taller, straighter. In Caleb’s company, I felt much older than I should. To my surprise, it was a kind of maturity I could get used to.
I felt tiny near Dr. Nyssa, like I was my age, or the age I thought I was. Nine was a solid age to be but I hadn’t been that age for some time and Dr. Nyssa brought out that scared little girl with her mere presence. It was all bad feelings with her.
I swallowed the bile that lingered in my throat only for it to rise again as the door opened without permission.
"Caleb, is everything okay?" She avoided any glances in my direction. Her youthfulness was distracting. I remember doctors being older, much older. They had stressful jobs and many years of school. Dr. Nyssa looked too young. She couldn’t be but Caleb’s age.
Mom and Dad wanted me to be a doctor. We talked about the years I’d have to study to get halfway there. They had plans for me to start working towards that career early on. I didn’t fight them. It was easier to be what they wanted me to be but the long hours, lack of social life, no room for error, already determined path; that wasn’t what I wanted.
"Well, Eva seems to have no memory of what happened to her." He rubbed the back of his neck more relaxed than before but a hint of annoyance lingered in his words to Dr. Nyssa.
"Yesterday, we were hopeful. She woke up and talked for a bit; seemed fine. All the tests came back normal," she continued to speak at me.
"Dr. Nyssa, I think we need to run more tests. I don't want to take any chances," Caleb was kind, kinder than I thought he would be. His face was beautiful, but he wasn't holding himself together like his graceful entrance to my embarrassing web of blankets.