Fiction Relay – Part 23

Fiction Relay – Part 22.

Fiction Relay Homepage.

Fiction Relay Summary.

—–

Ephraim sped to the back entrance to the old distillery, shifting Suzi in his arms as he fumbled with the lock. Inside, he made his way to the kitchen, where he attempted to pry her arms from around his neck. “Meghan? Meghan, it’s okay. We’re back at the cabin. You’re safe now.”

Suzi’s breathing calmed. She loosened her hold on Ephraim, unwrapped her legs from around his waist, and tested her feet on the floor. Her knees gave out. Ephraim caught her. He grabbed a blanket from the back of the sofa, wrapped it around her, pulled out a dining chair, and sat her down. Her eyes were glazed. She was in shock. He stepped back into the kitchen, returned with a tumbler filled with ice and a liberal amount of bourbon, and held it to her lips. She took a tentative sip, then grabbed the glass around his hands, and guzzled. The blanket slid off her shoulders, puddling around her waist. “Easy!” He pulled the glass back. Suzi swallowed, gasped, and blinked.

“Where…?” She looked around the room. Then she glanced down at her naked, blood-stained torso. Her gaze flew up to meet Ephraim’s. In her eyes he saw the traces of Meghan recede to the background. “How did I get here?”

“I brought you after you ported into my arms. Had you been in the cave?”

Suzi nodded. “Melissa was going to…!” She choked on the last word and reached for the bourbon. The ice clinked against the sides of the glass as she brought her shaking hand up and took a sip.

“Melissa was there? Is that her blood?”

Suzi shook her head and set down the glass. “Raj’s,” she whispered. “He strapped me to one of the tables, like… before….” Ephraim nodded, feeling Suzi’s dread. He remembered all too well what it felt like to be strapped to those tables. “But then he was going to… to….” Her eyes widened with fear, and she clutched the blanket back up around her nakedness. Ephraim suddenly understood that part of his vision: the lust in Raj’s mad eyes, the smirk on his face. Ephraim’s hands curled into fists. Anger simmered in his core. He didn’t know if he could handle hearing what Raj had done next, but he had to know whatever details Suzi could give him. Years of training in law enforcement kicked in. He kept his voice steady.

“Go on.”

“Then Melissa came,” Suzi said. “She killed him.”

Melissa killed Raj?” Ephraim repeated. “But Melissa loved….” No, that part of his vision made sense, too. He’d felt the overwhelming jealousy and rage. It must have come from Melissa. But Melissa also hated Suzi. “Did she free you from the straps?” he asked suspiciously. There was no way Suzi would have been able to port out of those special-made bindings.

“No. I did it myself. I didn’t think I’d be able to… and she had the knife raised, and I thought I’d be dead… and then suddenly I was able to draw energy from… from….” Her jaw dropped and she gasped. Her gaze became distant, deep in thought.

“You drew energy from where?” he prompted.

“I remember,” she breathed.

“What do you remember?”

“Everything!” Her eyes locked on Ephraim. “I have a daughter! Daniel and I have a daughter!”

Now it was Ephraim’s turn to be shocked. Suzi kept talking, explaining.

“Early-on, I’d figured out how to port out of the rooms.”

Ephraim nodded. Meghan could have escaped the orphanage long before she actually did. But she wouldn’t leave any of them behind. Instead, she’d stayed and would sneak out to comfort whoever had received the worst of that week’s “experiments.” That is, unless the victim-du-jour had been Meghan. They all knew that those times she’d had to suffer alone. Sometimes he could still hear the echoes of her heartbreaking sobs in his mind. He, Daniel, and Raj had all loved her for it. But over the years, while it had solidified his friendship with her, he’d always known there was something deeper, more powerful between her and Daniel. It had driven Raj insane. Raj had turned his attentions to Melissa.

But Ephraim had had no idea that Meghan and Daniel had created life.

“Do you remember the night we escaped?” Suzi asked.

“Yes…?” he thought back. “Raj and Melissa had torched the orphanage and killed everyone else. Daniel and I were stuck in the cave. I had a vision, and Daniel could see my thoughts,  so we knew Raj and Melissa were headed for us. We didn’t think we could make it out of our straps in time. Then you rushed in. I remember thinking it was strange that you hadn’t ported in. We told you to go. But you wouldn’t leave until we were both freed. And even then you wouldn’t port away to safety.”

“First of all, you know I would never have left you,” she said. “But I couldn’t port then, and I knew I couldn’t, but I didn’t realize why until later. I was already pregnant.”

“You can’t port when you’re pregnant?”

“Apparently not. Meanwhile, after we’d escaped Kentucky, Raj and Melissa were still coming after us. You split off from us first, and later Daniel and I split up.”

Ephraim nodded. “Because we knew we’d be too easy to find as a group. And we agreed not to use our powers, because it would have made us that-much-easier for them to track.”

“Yes. I wound up having my daughter and raising her alone until she was eight. But by then, Raj had tracked me to Miami. So I did the only thing I could. I placed her for adoption. Then, at the last second, just before Raj captured me, I did a memory wipe.”

“On yourself?”

Suzi’s face contorted with pain. “Yes,” she breathed. Then she straightened her shoulders and set her jaw. “It was the only way I could protect her from Raj. He never knew of her existence. I’d forgotten about her… until tonight. There was something about that power I was able to draw-on… I wonder if — ?”

Ephraim interrupted with his own thought that had been bothering him. “What I never understood is why Raj and Melissa pursued us for so long.”

Suzi’s eyes dropped. “Because of the map. After I freed you two, I swiped it from the safe.”

You have the map? You have that map?”

Suzi nodded sheepishly.

“How did you get it out of the safe? That thing was locked! And why didn’t you tell me? Or Sam — does Sam know?”

“No. I didn’t want to compromise either of you. I’m the one who had to go back and take care of what the map leads to.”

“You don’t have to be so secretive. I know what it leads to, also. And you’re not doing it. I’ll take care of it.”

“No! I don’t want you getting hurt! You or Sam! Where is he, anyway?”

“He went to check on the cave, and — .”

“The cave? That’s where Melissa was! We have to go help him! He’s in danger!”

Ephraim exploded. “At this point, good! I can’t believe you’re sticking up for him, Suzi! You were always there for us. Always! I can’t believe Daniel left you, and then never came back. Especially in your condition! You should never have had to go through that alone! If I’d known you were pregnant, I’d have never left your side, even if it wasn’t my kid.”

“But he never did know,” she said quietly.

“Excuse me?”

“He never knew I was pregnant. Sam doesn’t know he’s a dad.”

—–

Okay, Hasty, your turn!

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37 thoughts on “Fiction Relay – Part 23

  1. *claps* Yay! Very dialogue ridden, nice exposition/explanation, a needed rest from action, but not from excitement and discovery! Love it!

    The deeper relationship building, emotional reactions and changes…gorgeous. 🙂

    Many threads picked up and woven in, but as always, the weave just keeps getting bigger around them. So many secrets left to play with, and new trails to follow!

    Okies, Cadet Hasty! Your turn on parade! Eyes front, soldier, and make us proud! *giggles, hugs*

    KC

    • Thanks, KC! 🙂 I’m always nervous, especially with this thing, b/c it’s gotten so big and involved. Also, b/c there are so many other authors I want to try to make happy. Glad you liked it!

  2. Omg! I was racing to read to the end of this. Man, why hasn’t anyone picked your book up yet? I enjoy your writing and you’ve moved the story along brilliantly. Well done.

    Ps: I’m hoping I can write the moment she and Daniel come together. 🙂

  3. had created life!… Oh my God… leave it to The Romance Writer! Nice, Dawn. Some new paths to travel. Don’t know who will end up ‘doing’ Suzi, or if she’ll last till CC’s turn.

  4. Thanks for clarifying that for Ted, Dawn. I was wincing, trying not to tie things down…I mean, Sam/Daniel -could-, technically, have slept with Blue…and goodness knows it would have been an -interesting- development…but wow, I was hoping not. *eg* Also thanks for picking up on the half-bratty teen/half-disciplined soldier vibe, too. 😉

    • I mean… I just thought you’d meant that Blue was Meghan/Suzi’s daughter. (Didn’t think you meant Melissa.) And we’d already started a Suzi/Sam thing.

      Blue really did have a bratty-teen vibe going on…. kind of steampunk-meets-Lizbeth Salander. I figured she’d have to be at least 16 to have a driver’s license, though. She was very vividly drawn. Easy to “see.” 😉

      • *hugs* Was being sincere, promise. The turns and shifts this thing had taken so far, there was really no place I couldn’t see it going…but quite a few places I hoped it didn’t. And I love the direction you’ve sent it. I especially thank you for being nicer to Blue and her parentage than her own creator. 😉

      • I’m glad Blue was easy to see…that’s one of the highest compliments in my book…just one leetle trickster style poke at your logic. She’s a (firmly tongue in cheek) Super Secret Spy Soldier…who says she has a drivers license? *giggles* We got to the same conclusions about her age…just from two separate directions, and that always fascinates me.

          • Also, wow…I think I’m as flattered by the “Lisbeth Salander” reference as by TRG’s Chandler one. Even though I’ve never read any of the “Girl” books yet, and have deliberately avoided the movies until I read the books, I know all I need to know about the character from side-views and reviews and quotes and such…especially that the author thought of her as “Pippi Longstocking grown up”. That says it all, for me. The Pippi of the original books, not the deliberately sweetened movies, of course. And the concept of a Cyberpunk Pippi, which was nowhere in my mind, is now there forever. *eg*

  5. I’m a bit late with my comments here, all the best ones are taken – a bit like when you are last to sign a birthday card at work and everyone else has already said “best wishes” and “have a great day”.
    But i loved this chapter, i am always amazed how much plot explanation and development gets packed into a single post! the raj/melissa/meagan/daniel love intrigue just gets more.. .erm.. intriguing with your back story here. And I’m still not convinced Raj really is dead…

  6. Pingback: FICTION RELAY PART 24 | hastywords

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