Read Woman King Online

Authors: Evette Davis

Tags: #fiction, #romance, #vampires, #occult, #politics, #france, #san francisco, #witches, #demons, #witchcraft, #french, #shapeshifters, #vampire romance, #paris, #eastern europe, #serbia, #word war ii, #golden gate park, #scifi action adventure, #sci fantasy

Woman King (7 page)

BOOK: Woman King
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“What are you making?” I asked, trying to
breath through my mouth.

“It’s going to be a tea,” she said. “You’re
going to drink some tonight before we go out.”

“Is it going to taste as bad as it
smells?”

“Actually, it’s going to taste worse,” she
said, keeping her back to me as she hunched over the stove brewing
her potion. “The trick is to drink quickly and not think about
it.”

“What does it do?” I asked, thinking that I
should know what I was getting myself into.

“It should help you regain your senses,” Elsa
said. “It’s an old recipe that has been used by many women over the
years.”

“Where did you go last night?”

Elsa kept her back to me. “New Mexico,
mostly. I had a few other stops to make.”

“You don’t seem to have flown on a commercial
jet to get there,” I said, hoping to provoke a discussion about
portals and time-walkers.

For the record, it’s not that I find it
difficult to imagine that there is more to things than what we see
at first glance. And I don’t doubt that the world has more
complexity to it than we imagine. I’ve just never wanted to accept
it.

What I want from life is something more
rational. If I’m going to pay attention and care, then I want to
know how the mysteries work. If I can understand the mechanics,
then I can manage my fear. After years of living in a very logical
fashion, now I’m expected to be Alice in the looking glass, throw
caution to the wind and drink my potion so all can be revealed.

“You know I didn’t fly on an airplane,” Elsa
said. “I used a portal. It’s a door between places. They are
scattered across the city.”

“Where do you go when you use them?”

“With a little practice and focus, you can go
anywhere,” Elsa said.

“Am I going to use one tonight?”

“No. Tonight you’re going to work on finding
those instincts of yours so we can see what kind of empath you
really are. I sense you have great abilities, Olivia, but you have
stuffed them so far beneath your skin that only the most drastic
efforts will draw them out.” She removed the pot from the stove and
strained the contents into a ceramic pitcher, which she placed in
the refrigerator.

“It will be better chilled.”

“I’m scared,” I said, admitting the obvious.
“What’s going to happen to me tonight?”

“Lily and I will be with you,” Elsa said.
“Whatever happens, and maybe nothing will, you will be with us and
we will take care of you.”

“This is not a reassuring speech,” I
said.

“I’m not here to reassure you.” Her voice was
stern. “I’m here to protect you and to get you to stop living a
half-life.”

“A half-life,” I repeated. “How is running a
business and owning a home a half-life?”

“Olivia, you were born with a sixth sense—a
set of instincts that allows you to read people before they even
know something themselves,” she continued. “Instead of using those
skills, you have buried them and left yourself vulnerable to all
kinds of danger and mischief. At minimum, you might have been able
to stop Stoner Halbert’s demon from stealing your clients. Do you
think a man with eyesight would knowingly blind himself? That’s
what you’ve done.”

“I haven’t blinded myself,” I responded, my
pride wounded once again. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe I
see more clearly than you do?”

Elsa snorted. “After tonight we will see if
that’s really true. You should go upstairs and rest. You won’t get
much sleep tonight.”

 

 

****

 

 

CHAPTER
9

Not long after drinking the tea I began to
feel ill. Elsa must have known what was coming because she was at
my side, quickly guiding me toward the sink where I began to
wretch. Lily was also there, running her hand up and down my back
in a soothing motion. They were both murmuring words in my ear to
calm me, but I was in no shape to understand. Large sounds filled
my head—vibrations, really—that resonated off my sternum as I
grasped the edge of the sink. A great freight train was barreling
through me, and I could feel it coming down the tracks through
every bone in my body.

“What is happening to me?” I asked, my heart
racing inside my chest.

Elsa grasped my shoulder and whispered in my
ear, “Don’t be afraid. Whatever happens Lily and I will not leave
your side. Just remember: Not everything you see tonight will be
real.”

We must have left the house after Elsa’s
remarks, but the particulars of our exit are a bit fuzzy. Next, we
were walking through a pair of ornate green iron gates that
featured delicate-looking vines and leaves. We strode onto a red
brick path sheltered by a canopy of trees. Moonlight illuminated
the path and suddenly I felt as if I were a bride in a wedding,
although what I was about to be joined with remained a mystery. In
the middle of the path sat a well-worn sundial perched on a stone
pedestal. The metal glowed with a golden light. Fascinated, I
reached out to touch the illuminated dial. The moment my skin made
contact with the triangle of the dial, I felt a jolt of energy run
through my body as a panoply of voices began to pierce my skull. I
laughed aloud as if I understood the joke, and tried to listen to
the conversation.

Before I could lock onto a single word, Elsa
removed my hand from the dial. I turned to face her and exhaled
suddenly. She was awash in color, shimmering waves of yellow,
orange and green pouring from her body.

“Oh my God, oh my God!” I exclaimed, reaching
out to touch the light. “You’re so beautiful.”

“What do you see?” she asked.

“I see colors,” I said. “I hear voices and I
see colors.”

“Good,” Elsa said. “Don’t worry, you’re not
crazy. The peyote is working. Let’s see what happens next.”

I looked up to see billowing strands of moss
hanging from a Monterey pine. A cold wind arrived, carrying in a
wicked fog bank that was rolling across the park at a furious
speed. I should have been cold, but instead my skin burned as the
crisp air enveloped me. On fire, I quickly shrugged out of my
fleece and flung it to the ground. Again, I lost track of time, and
when I refocused, I found that we were standing in the main
concourse of Golden Gate Park, where the de Young Museum and
Academy of Sciences are located. I swallowed hard, my tongue
feeling too large for my mouth.

The park was bursting with noise. Every
living being, it seemed, made some kind of sound as it moved. The
night was awash in color. I absorbed all of this information and
felt it take root as a young tree establishes itself in new ground.
I laughed again, feeling an uncanny sense of new knowledge. I was
ruminating on the meaning of the sounds I was hearing when my
attention was abruptly drawn to a fountain in the center of the
concourse.

The bowl of the fountain was illuminated by
lights below it, and in the center of its pedestal stood an
enormous stone saber-toothed tiger. Trapped between its massive
claws was a serpent that was partially coiled around the cat’s
body. Locked in a fierce battle, the massive, muscled arms of the
cat, which looked more human than feline, seemed to be moving,
wrestling with the snake.

I sat down on a wooden bench nearby, unable
to tear my gaze away from the fountain.

“It’s Elsa!” I yelled aloud, surprised at the
sound of my voice. “It’s Elsa taking on the devil.”

Now Elsa laughed. “What do you hear,
Olivia?”

Responding to her question, I strained to
listen. At first I could not detect any sound coming from the
fountain. But as I focused, I began to feel a vibration moving
through my body and I stood up, unable to sit still.

“Up,” I said. “It’s saying, ‘Get up and come
in.’ ”

Elsa preened like a proud mother. “Very good.
That’s exactly what it’s saying. One day soon we will go inside,
but for now we have to say goodbye to The Guardian.”

“The Guardian,” I whispered to myself. As I
murmured the name, I caught sight of a light coming from a large
tower in front of us. I also could feel the intense light.
“Bright!” I screamed as the light expanded behind my eyes,
momentarily blinding me. I pressed my hands to my eye sockets and
bent my head in pain.

“What light, Olivia?” Lily asked. “Where is
the light coming from?”

I pointed up toward the tower, which belonged
to the de Young Museum.

Elsa turned me so that my back was away from
the source of the light. “You must breathe deeply and try to push
the light out of your mind, Olivia. Focus on the light and push it
away.”

The pain from the light roiled my already
sensitive stomach. Taking a deep breath, eventually I was able to
do what Elsa asked. I inhaled and exhaled, slowly bringing my
attention to the center of my forehead where the pain was the
strongest.

Meanwhile, Elsa had begun shouting at no one
in particular in a language I didn’t understand. While Lily stood
nearby looking grim, Elsa walked briskly to the fountain, touched
the edge of the cement and disappeared.

Hand outstretched, I screamed for her. Lily
was at my side immediately, pulling me away. Quickly we grabbed our
things and began to run, setting a brisk pace through the wet foggy
night. As we passed through the damp, muddy trails of the park’s
forests, I removed more clothing, dropping items along the way. My
body temperature continued to climb, despite the fact that I was
now wearing nothing but a running bra and bike shorts.

“I need water, Lily,” I said, my throat raw
from running in the cold night air.

She opened a backpack and handed me a
bottle.

“Drink,” she said. “The effects of the tea
will start to wear off in a few hours.”

“Is Elsa coming back?”

“I’m not sure,” Lily said. “She had to go see
someone.”

“She disappeared,” I said, distracted by the
buzzing in my ears.

Lily nodded. “Yes. But she will come
back.”

Very quickly, we found ourselves back in the
land of glowing flowers, strolling through an open meadow, dotted
with pink and purple foxglove. We crossed a road, climbed a dirt
path and after a few minutes of walking, came to stand before Stow
Lake, a man-made lake established in Golden Gate Park in the
1800’s. Half-dressed and disheveled, I paused on the sidewalk,
transfixed by a small island a few hundreds yards inside the
enormous lake from where I stood. The island, shrouded in mist and
almost completely covered by a fallen tree and overgrown flowering
vines, seemed to be calling to my overheated body.

It didn’t take much for me to oblige.

“Hot!” I cried out, and waded into the
lake.

“Olivia, noooo!” came Lily’s frantic cry, as
she jumped in after me.

We swam to the island, but never made it out
of the water thanks to a ring of thorny blackberry bushes lining
the shore. Rebuffed, we made our way back onto dry land. Standing
on the sidewalk and dripping wet, Lily removed a small towel from
her pack and handed it to me.

“It’s not much, but it will help dry you a
bit,” she said, rubbing the water off of her arms and legs as she
spoke.

I sat down on a nearby bench and began to
listen to the world around me. A cacophony of sounds rang in my
ears. I could hear the fish swimming below the surface of the
water. I detected the faint sound of owls in the trees rustling
their wings. Smiling, I took Lily’s hand in my own.

“This place is alive,” I said with
conviction.

Lily smiled and squeezed my hand back. “See
what you have been missing,” she said gently. “Now, you are really
alive, too.”

 

 

****

 

 

CHAPTER
10

My first sensation was of something cold and
hard pressing into my lower back. Then the smell of damp, rotting
plants filled my nostrils. I remained motionless, trying to recall
what had happened. Where was I? Then I remembered my adventure in
the park and the tea Elsa had given me that caused me to
hallucinate.

I lay still, testing my body. From one limb
to the next I wiggled, waiting for injuries and pain. I moved my
head from side to side and slowly opened my eyes. As soon as I
focused I recoiled, for there, not an inch from my face, was an
egret. The small, white bird was studying me. I smiled at him.
“Either you are in the wrong place, or I am sleeping in your bed,”
I said quietly to the bird.

The egret opened up his wings and flew away
as I sat up to survey my surroundings. I was sleeping on a small
patch of dirt inside a lily pond near the side entrance of the de
Young Museum. Why here, of all places, I wondered, and then I
recalled hearing a man’s voice at the end of the evening. The voice
was insistent, urging me to leave my old life behind to join him. I
had followed the voice, getting as far as the museum, but could not
find its source.

At some point I must have lost Lily and come
back here to fall asleep, choosing to slumber beside a statute of
Pan with his lute. Now, as the light of day pressed against my
sensitive eyes, the nature of my situation dawned on me. I was a
half-dressed woman trespassing on city property, and I needed to
get up and leave before someone saw me. The good news is that given
the kinds of characters that inhabit San Francisco, I wasn’t too
worried about looking odd as I strolled back to my house. I was
certain my unkempt nature wouldn’t raise so much as an eyebrow.

I wondered what had happened to Elsa. I
concentrated for a moment and then, one by one, the images of the
night returned. I recalled with clarity that Elsa had disappeared
into the fountain. I remembered the bright light and her attempt to
shield me from it.

My running shoes were sitting next to me and
I reached over to slide them on to my filthy, bare feet. As soon as
I climbed out of the pond and hopped onto the sidewalk, I spotted
Elsa sitting on a bench nearby. Her eyes shut, and she appeared to
be dozing lightly. I walked toward her, intending to gently tap her
on the shoulder, but as I approached she opened her eyes with a
start.

BOOK: Woman King
5.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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