Authors: Tianna Xander
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Erotic, #Fiction, #Science
Life is hard. Love is hard. Being born in the wrong place and time and separated from your soul mate is agony. Fate has a plan, but sometimes, it goes astray. When lovers who can shake the worlds are parted by time and place, the Fates call upon the Gatekeeper and hand the problem over to him.
When Garrick the Gatekeeper snatches Lena from her world only to drop her onto another, Lena does what any red-blooded American girl would do. She screams bloody murder—especially when a pack of wild dogs trap her on a bridge. Is it a dream or a nightmare come true when a real live superhero flies in to save her?
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 Tianna Xander
Cover art by Carmen Waters
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Gate To Fate book 1
Viola: Thank you so much for all of your help and support. This book would exist if it weren’t for you.
Diane: Thanks for always being there to do a quick read through for me. I appreciate it more than you know.
Lena ran down the side of the road, alone. The only sound she heard came from her feet hitting the pavement of the bike lane. She breathed in the cool night air as the slight breeze bore down on her from one of the rivers that fed Lake Michigan. She could smell the water and the slight odor of fish as she drew closer to the footbridge she would soon cross.
After a two-mile run on the other side, she would turn around and head home. By the time she reached her small cottage, she would have finished her ten-mile run for the day. Then, she could relax.
Reaching up, Lena rested her index and middle finger against the side of her neck and checked her watch. Yep. Her heart rate was right where it should be.
She could see the bridge looming up in the light of the full moon and wondered how many times she’d crossed it. Was it seven hundred, maybe eight? Lena lost count. After her last live-in lover moved out, she ran almost day and night. She needed to get rid of her frustrated energy somehow and running seemed just the way to do it. It didn’t hurt that it kept her in the best shape of her life.
Maybe she should have kicked Jason to the curb a long time ago. She knew he was using her, but it just seemed easier to stay in the relationship than deal with the problems it caused.
Her neighbor kept telling her to start dating again, but she refused. The last thing she needed at the moment was another man. As much as she loved men in general, Lena wasn’t sure she was ready to take the plunge, yet again. Men were too fickle.
Smiling, she thought about one of her friends from college. Maria loved men to the point that she wasn’t happy if she wasn’t dating at least two at a time. Ultimately, Maria ended up living with two men. Maria seemed happy enough. Yet, while a ménage relationship sounded intriguing to Lena, she wasn’t interested. Pleasing one man was difficult enough. Why in the world would she want two? It seemed like way too much work to her.
Reaching the bridge, she ran lightly up the ramp and out onto the arc that stretched across the river. Lena checked her watch again. By her calculations, she should be home in less than an hour, and she’d finish with her shower just in time to watch her favorite TV show. After that, she would go to bed and soon start a new day all over again. She wasn’t even finished with this one, and already, she looked forward to her next run.
Just as she reached the halfway point of the bridge, the ground shook violently and the sky became dark. If she didn’t know better, Lena would have thought that perhaps there was some truth to some of the movies she’d watched with Maria about extraterrestrials.
Bright light and a swirl of brilliant color surrounded her right before the bridge pixilated and broke apart. With a silent scream, Lena fell into the ensuing darkness.
“What’s happening to me?” Finally, she could hear her own screams.
“You are getting your wish, young one.”
“Young one?” Lena could have laughed if she wasn’t scared silly. “I’m nearly thirty-five.” She glanced around, seeing only darkness.
“That is young to someone like me.”
The darkness abated and Lena could see. What she saw nearly made her drool, but the man was way too young for her.
“Right,” she said with a snort. “You can’t be a day over twenty-five.”
“I am many days over that age, madam.” He smiled at her, revealing a little dimple in his right cheek that was so appealing, it was all she could do to not touch it.
Lena frowned at the thought. What was coming over her? She
had thoughts like those. She peered out into the darkness surrounding them before returning her gaze to the man before her.
“I am Garrick the Gatekeeper. I have been what you would call a fairy godfather for close to three thousand years.” He bowed slightly. “I am also called Garrick the Good.”
Lena glanced around her, looking for an avenue of escape, but she could still see nothing outside the circle of light that surrounded them.
“I am a messenger of the Wyrd sisters, the sisters of destiny. You might know them by their Greek name, the Fates.”
“Right,” Lena said as she backed away from him. “Don’t try to impress me with myth and nonsense. It won’t work. I’m not gullible.” Not anymore.
She refused to attribute this to some sort of intervention by the gods. She wasn’t even sure she believed in a higher power, let alone a bunch of gods running about sticking their noses in everyone’s life for their amusement.
“Look, mister, I don’t know who you are, and I really don’t much care. Just take me back to the bridge and we’ll forget this happened.” She nervously licked her lips. “Really. I don’t have time to fill out police reports, so if you’ll just take me back, I’ll run on home and we can both go our separate ways.”
She didn’t mention that she wouldn’t report what happened, because if she told anyone, they would most likely lock her up in the loony bin. Who would believe the bridge disintegrated and turned into little more than little square pixels like a computer-generated program before she fell through it into darkness instead of the river?
Garrick pulled something from the inside of his leather vest and checked it. “The thread locator does not lie.” He showed it to her as though she could make sense of the kaleidoscope of colors swirling around its electronic face.
“It also doesn’t say anything,” she said with a snort. “Of course it can’t lie. It’s a piece of electronics, not a person. Only people lie.” Of
, Lena was most aware.
* * * *
“I don’t know about this one. She doesn’t seem grateful at all,” Urd said as she peered into the waters of the scrying cauldron. “Perhaps we should let the mistake lie and give her back her lonely life.” Urd mainly saw the present and usually didn’t see why the changes they made were so important until their actions brought about results.
One would think that she could understand the fact that they must bring about their changes or the world—no—worlds would suffer. Any uncorrected mistake on their part could bring about the unraveling of the fabric of time.
“Good idea, sister,” Verdandi replied with a frown. “She does not appear to care whether or not she could be happy elsewhere.” Verdandi saw the past and rarely appreciated why they did much of anything. To her, the past was the past and one should not change it.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to send her home.” Skuld said as she peered into the future. She moved her arms back and forth in a waving motion as she continued to weave the threads of fate in an effort to make things right in the continuum. “Her mate needs her. Whether we wish to help
is irrelevant. Not setting things right has far reaching consequences. This must be done.” Bringing her arms down, she stopped weaving for a moment and clapped her hands. The water in the cauldron vibrated, sending her message through the thread locator to Garrick. He would know what to do with the information.
“It does not matter what we want or what we think. The bottom line, sisters, is we need to make things right regardless of her gratitude.” Skuld paused until she had her sisters’ undivided attention. “I have seen the future, and it is not bright. Like it or not, the future of many worlds, many dimensions, relies on
happiness and the happiness of the others.”
Her sisters groaned. “There are
With a sigh, the three sisters went back to work, checking the cauldron now and then as they made sure they weaved the threads of destiny back into the right place.
Artu stared out at the ocean. He stood at the railing, his hands resting lightly on the metal bar. He didn’t grip the rail. He knew better. With his strength, he could easily ruin another balcony and the gods knew how he hated to have to call in someone to repair it. Inevitably, the repairmen always brought an available sister or friend in an attempt to pair him off.
He couldn’t blame them. Even
saw the change in his disposition over the years. If only they could find someone to end his life, but they didn’t want that. They wanted their defender, they needed him, and Artu needed a mate, a lover—one who wouldn’t leave him for another in a month or a year.
Resting his arms on the rail, he lowered his head against them. Everything irritated him now. He rarely went out in public anymore. How could he protect his people when he could barely stand to be around them?
It was his duty to protect them. They needed him when the planet-wide quakes shook the cities. Whenever innocents needed him, he was there. What happened when he no longer cared? What would happen when
became the threat to his people? Who would protect them then?
Lifting his head, he stared at the ocean. The water was all that calmed him anymore. What happened when that no longer worked? Would he take his anger, his angst out on his people? He shifted his gaze out at the sunset as it traveled toward the horizon in a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows.
A soft breeze ruffled his hair. A lock fell over his eyes, and he sighed as he reached up to push it back out of his face. How many times had he stood here staring out at the water, wishing for someone to share the beautiful view? How many times had he brought a woman here, only to find that she wasn’t the one for him? How many more times must he face disappointment?
Many times, Artu worried that he would lose his mind the way Bontin Haru had. He didn’t want to harm those he had sworn to protect the way the other defender had, yet he knew the time was coming. Perhaps, it was already near.
Things had gotten so bad for the people of Ka-Dar that they had called in the defenders of six different worlds to capture and contain Bontin. To this day, his world went undefended against disaster while the defender remained captive.
Was that what Artu and others like him had to look forward to? Bontin had been an honorable defender—one of the best. At several hundred years old, he lost his mind. No one should live that long alone. Artu fast approached that age, and he worried.
Bending forward, he stared down at the waves crashing over the rocks below. He couldn’t even end his existence the way humans could. Until he met his soul mate, he was invincible, immortal. Only his mate’s presence would cause him to age the way he should. Would he find her, or would he, too, go mad? Artu closed his eyes and prayed for the strength to carry on because he knew there was no mate for him. Artu leapt from the balcony and took to the skies. He had been wrong. It wasn’t the water. The freedom of flight was his last comfort.
Lena stared up at the gorgeous man whom, she was certain, was out of his mind. That was the only way she could think of to explain his behavior. The man might be beautiful, but he was insane. Either that, or she was.