Authors: S. L. Wallace
Tags: #romance, #action, #dystopia, #political thriller, #orwellian
This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents are either products of the
author’s imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead,
Copyright 2012 by Sarah Yoho
First electronic edition: March 2012
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Cover art created by Extended Imagery
Published by Sarah Yoho at Smashwords
This book is also available in print.
Thank you to R.K. Ryals, Rhodora Fitzgerald,
Butch Fitzgerald, Kerstin Broockmann, Sharissa Sherwood, T.S.
Gwilliam, Andrew Augustine and Edward Foster for providing honest
and insightful critiques.
I sit up, startled into sudden awareness as
my blankets tumble to my waist. I reach out, feeling for the chain.
A soft light sets the pink lampshade aglow, illuminating my room.
Swinging my legs over the side of the bed, I wait and listen.
What could he possibly want at this time of
night? Footsteps pound on the stairs above me. No! I glance toward
the door and catch my reflection in the full length mirror. My
uniform? When did I get dressed?
Bang! The bedroom door slams against the
wall, and there he is. Lance Beckett's silhouette fills my doorway,
black leather belt in hand. As he turns to close and lock the door,
I see it – the handle of a steak knife sticking out of his
His focus returns to me, and he strides
forward. A red, flower petal formation blossoms on his white
business shirt. I push back, skimming across the sheets. Metal bars
from the headboard press painfully against my spine. I can retreat
My breath is knocked from me suddenly as I
feel a sharp kick in my stomach. What? I look down at my bulging
belly in shock and realize it's true. I'm carrying his child.
I raise my head and peer into his cold grey
A scream in the distance pierced the night.
From nearby I heard a familiar voice call.
“April! April, wake up!”
Who's screaming? Fingers dug painfully into
my shoulders and pulled me upward, away from the past. My eyelids
fluttered open, and my brother's emerald green eyes stared back at
me. Rumpled black hair framed his face.
“Scott!” I looked around in confusion, and
then let out a rush of air. Mr. Beckett was nowhere in sight. I
took a deep breath and held it, trying to still the tremors that
continued to course through my veins. He's dead. He can't hurt you
anymore. Yet I knew that wasn't true. He continued to hurt me every
single night. I shuddered one final time, and my breathing returned
Convinced that I was fully awake, Scott let
go and sank to the foot of my bed. I reached for my belly. Through
my thin pink cotton pajamas, I could tell that it was still flat
and firm, but I also knew it wouldn't be long before...I pulled my
knees up to my chest and buried my face in my arms. My long blond
hair tumbled over my shoulders. Scott waited patiently until I was
Finally, I looked up. “You shouldn't use
that name. What time is it?”
“Just after two. Do you want to talk about
I shook my head as Danielle and Noah
appeared in the doorway. Noah held tight to his mother's hand.
Danielle looked refined, as always. Her deep blue satin nightgown
could almost pass for a dress. Long black hair flowed down her
back, and her deep brown eyes mirrored Scott's concern.
Noah wore his favorite green pajamas printed
with giraffes, elephants and lions. Proceeds from purchasing those
pajamas, as well as the stuffed animals that now lived in Noah's
bedroom, went to support a large animal sanctuary in Afrik. Their
natural habitat had been devastated by human actions long ago. Now
that sanctuary was the only place in the world those animals still
lived. Afrik, like Terene, was in rough shape, a truth I had only
learned about when I'd moved to Mediterra. Back home, citizens were
told we'd won the last war and that Terene had fared better than
all of the other realms, especially better than Mediterra. I wished
there was a way to show people the truth.
I looked at Danielle and Noah. “I woke you
too? I'm so sorry.”
Danielle shook her head. “You have nothing
to apologize for. We're here to help you.”
Noah looked up at her briefly, then dropped
her hand and walked over to place his small warm hand in mine. He
looked at me with such a somber expression, although nothing could
diminish his brilliant green eyes.
“Let's go get chocolat chaud, Aunt
“What? Do you mean hot chocolate?”
“Maman says hot chocolate can help.” Noah
emphasized the end of Mama, giving it a Mediterran flair. He smiled
at Danielle. “And it tastes tres bon!” Although they'd only known
each other a short time, Noah had come to adore Danielle and she
him. As for Scott, well the two of them shared a bond all the way
down to their genes. They were lucky to have each other, all three
of them, and I realized I was lucky to have them too.
I leaned down and hugged Noah. “Merci. Thank
you. I think that sounds like a wonderful idea!”
As we followed Danielle and Noah downstairs
to the kitchen, I leaned toward Scott and spoke quietly. “How are
you coping? You have even more reason than me for nightmares.”
It had been less than three months since the
Ramsey Corps doctors had cut him up for their own experiments.
Granted, one of the cuts had been to remove his kidney for Noah,
the only clone to have survived the transplant.
“Yes, I have them too.” Scott placed his
hands lightly on my shoulders and directed me to one of the kitchen
chairs. “We all do.”
“Maman calls them cauchemars,” Noah said. He
joined Danielle at the stove. She got out a small pot and pointed
toward the refrigerator. He retrieved the milk for her.
Scott and I sat at the dark mahogany table.
While we waited for the milk to simmer, I looked down and began to
pick at the tabletop. I could feel Scott's gaze, but I refused to
meet his eyes.
“You should talk about it. It can help.”
“Maybe later.” I looked at Noah, now seated
across the table. He didn't need to hear about my demons. “What
about you, kiddo? What are your cauchemars about?”
“The doctors wake me up. I just want to play
with my toys, but they say I'll have time for that later. They take
me into a really big room with machines and boxes of babies, and I
can see Daddy lying on a bed. And...” his voice was low, barely
above a whisper, “they're hurting Daddy.” Noah hopped off his chair
and hurried over to Scott. He buried his face in his father's
With his index finger, Scott traced circles
on Noah's back. “And then you wake up, and you're safe and so am
Noah nodded as Scott gathered him up in his
Danielle walked over and gently kissed the
top of Noah's head before she returned to the stove to add
chocolate to the warm milk. We remained quiet, lost in our own
thoughts about Ramsey Corps. A few minutes later, Danielle placed
the first cup of hot chocolate in front of Noah. As she set the
second mug in front of me, I studied her face.
She nodded. “My dreams start out peaceful.
I'm in a familiar place with Scott.” She glanced at him, and he
held her gaze. “But then he's gone. I look all around, searching,
but I can't find him anywhere. It's the feeling of loss that turns
my dreams into cauchemars.”
Noah looked at her and repeated Scott's
words. “And then you wake up, and Daddy is there, and you're
Danielle ruffled his hair and smiled down at
him. “Yes, I wake up and you're both here, and we're all safe.” She
returned to the stove for the last two mugs of hot chocolate.
“What about you?” I turned my attention to
“Oh, I've had a great many nightmares.
They're all different, but I talk about each of them with Dani when
I wake, and they've begun to fade.”
“What do you mean, fade?”
Scott shrugged. “They're either not coming
as frequently, or they're not waking me up. Either way, I've been
sleeping through the night more often than not.”
He looked me right in the eye, and I knew. I
didn't know how he was keeping it from Danielle, but I could tell.
Scott was lying, probably to protect her. Does she prefer lies to
While we continued to talk, Danielle placed
a steaming mug in front of Scott. She didn't sit, but remained
quiet, leaning against the counter, sipping her own hot
Noah finished his and started to doze in his
father's arms. Scott looked from Noah to me. “Your turn,” he
“In a minute.” I caught Danielle's eye and
nodded at Noah. She set down her mug, walked over and leaned down.
Noah's small arms wound around her neck. After his family left,
Scott turned to me.
I shook my head. “I'll share when Danielle
returns. What have your nightmares been about?”
He sighed. “Sometimes people in white lab
coats are hacking off my fingers and toes without anesthesia. Other
times, they're removing my internal organs in order to keep
hundreds of clones alive.”
“Hundreds?” Despite the hot chocolate, a
chill passed through me.
Scott nodded. “And sometimes, there's no one
in the lab but me. I search in the adjoining rooms but can't find
who I'm looking for.”