Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Barely heard Pamela for listening to my husband’s mind. I felt cold—and the building’s heat made most of us sweat today!
Ryee had trouble locating an item for a trace. After his usual search of the first floor study tables, and the reference reshelving area, he decided to look for it in the circulating stacks on the fifth floor. The fifth floor is warmer than most of the workers like it, but even there, he shivers. I watched Ryee get onto the staff elevator. Anne ran after him, but missed the elevator. I wanted Ryee to check this one, too. Oh, well, I need the exercise anyway. I'll just take the stairs. Her thoughts were loud. In the stairwell, she heard the fire alarm go off. She gave a long sigh. Was it for real, or a diversion for someone trying to steal books? I cringed! Pamela urged me to the stairwell; I ran upwards.
“Shouldn’t we go outside? Adia?”
Ryee found his missing item in the reshelving area by the stairs. He pulled the book off the shelf and walked towards the stairwell, when he spotted Anne coming out of it. Anne started to tell him about the fire alarm when suddenly there was a loud booming sound. The whole building trembled and shook.
"Anne—the stairwell!" Ryee lifted his foot to run. A wall of books fell on him, throwing him towards her. As the confusion subsided,
The explosion’s shock almost threw us onto the steps. Ryee is hurt!
Pamela grabbed my arm. "We need to go down the stairs, quickly!"
“That was an explosion! We need to go down—”
“Ryee is hurt, above us!” I ran up the stairs. Listened to Anne’s loud thoughts.
"Ryee, you can move back now. Are you all right?" Books fell. She tried not to think of a time when a man forced his body next to hers!
Ryee did not move. "Anne. Can you o-open the door...the door to the s-stairwell?" He whispered hoarsely. She could not see his face. His chin rested on her shoulder. Trapped her head; his arm kept her neck from moving away. Another book plopped noisily to the floor.
She slipped sideways as she felt for the knob behind her, and Ryee leaned with her. She prepared to catch Ryee as she opened the door.
As the door moved, she moved backwards a step, Ryee moved forwards.
A small section of shelving full of books fell behind him.
Ryee trembled. Such effort to keep his eyes open! He looked at Anne and saw her terrified stare. He studied her; it took a few secs for him to realize why she reacted that way.
"Ryee—" She looked from her hand to him. Covered with sticky orange fluid. "You're bleeding! Your hip’s covered with blood! But that's not human blood!" She moved away from him.
Ryee looked down and saw the blood on her hand. Not red; more like orangish oil or thin carbolated Vaseline, Laura had said. Anne knows.
"Anne. Ne fear me." Ryee forced his eyes to focus on her. She looked as if ready to faint, very pale. "Adia." Anne looked at him, confused. I lost contact with his mind.
She moved closer. He had always been kind to her...whatever he was. "Never mind my dumb reaction; I've got to get you some help. Don't try to move. Maybe I can get to a phone and get an ambulance—"
Ryee grabbed her wrist. "Adia." Slowly, his head sank to his arm. "Tell her—I love her—"
The loud thoughts of Laura’s sister took my attention. Sara watched the flames and firefighters. She noticed Jeffries, the library director, speaking with the fire chief. Most of the employees and patrons were out of the building. She ran up to them. "Have you seen Anne or Ryee? They headed up to the fifth floor right when the gas leak was discovered. Would Ryee have known what the fire alarm meant?"
Jeffries looked concerned. "Well, I’m sure Anne knew what it meant and told Ryee. If they were together. But then, we didn't get much warning."
The fire chief frowned. "I'll notify my men to look for them, if they can get to the fifth floor. Most of the damage is in the sub-basement."
Smoke poured out of windows on the first floor, but decreased under the water dousing it.
Sara saw Laura run towards her wearing her magenta uniform.
"I heard about the gas explosion at the library! One of my aides was listening to the Braves game, and heard about it on the radio."
At least they know about this, I sighed, as we reached the fifth floor. Not this stairwell! We ran across to another—blocked by a small piece of shelving. I tossed books until we made it light enough to move.
“Adia, what are you doing?”
“Ryee is here!” I saw his blood on fallen books and nearly fainted.
Anne watched Ryee. His orange eyes opened. Black. Lines of pain deepened in his face. My husband shivered!
"What can I do?"
Suddenly, Pamela and I moved the shelving and opened the door! Pamela and Anne watched as I went to my love.
Ryee looked up at me, and smiled. I looked him over. Touched his head. I felt bruises, but little swelling. Was all this blood from his hip?
“My love, I die happy!” Ryee gasped in pain.
I stared at him. “Ryee, you are ne to die!”
I put one hand on the offended right hip. With the other, I pulled out the Cube. Sang a healing song. Suddenly I felt great energy flowing into my body and through my hands! A white glow illuminated the stairwell. Pain filled me! Cold crept up my legs. The Cube warned, Loose your hand before you bring Eriganh! Do you not know of his plan to find you?
“Now that I learn to use you, expect me to let my Beloved suffer?!” My voice echoed in the stairwell.
“Ay, my love, I can abide pain! Thirteen galaxies look to you to save them, ne me!”
The Cube said, Perhaps I was wrong to expect you to save the power for the Confrontation. Each time you use it, you become more skilled. I will allow this use and risk your loss, but I pray for your success. The price of your failure is thirteen galaxies and the life of your husband.
I felt the energy flow suddenly increase, and the pain with it.