Authors: Cheree Alsop
The Fae Rift Series Book 1
By Cheree L. Alsop
Copyright © 2016 by Cheree L. Alsop
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover Design by Dean Samed
Editing by Sue Player
To my family,
I love you with all of my heart.
These books are here because
Of your support. Thank you
To my readers,
The power to dream is
The greatest gift that we have.
May all of your best dreams come true.
Sometimes being lost is the only way to find ourselves.
A scream tore Aleric from sleep. It took more effort than he thought it should to open his eyes. When he did, he shut them again immediately.
Nothing made sense. He was in a room with white walls, beds, and people rushing everywhere. His sensitive nose burned with the scent of antiseptics while his ears rang with beeping noises, the squeak of sneakers on tile, and the shrieks of whatever creature occupied the curtained room next to his.
The cries were those of true pain. Aleric opened his eyes again slowly. The light made his head pound. He put a hand to it and found bandages beneath his fingertips.
“Good to see you awake.”
His eyes focused on a woman with a clipboard in one hand and a pencil tucked behind her ear. She checked the monitor next to Aleric’s bed, wrote something down on her sheet, and gave him a smile touched with exhaustion.
“Hang in there, sweetie. It’s a busy hospital tonight. They say the crazies come out the night of the full moon, but this time they’re a few days early.” She winked at him. “Just take it easy. That was a pretty bad knock you had there. I’ll be back to check on you in a bit.”
Before Aleric could reply, she ducked into the next room, if that was what the areas divided by curtains could be called. Aleric glanced at the monitor near his head. It showed numbers and symbols that made no sense to him. He pushed up to a sitting position and his head swam. He put a hand to it and waited for it to stop. Something tugged on his arm. He glanced down to see a tube running to a needle near his elbow.
The scream sounded again. Whoever occupied the room next to him sounded like she was suffering. The shrieks made Aleric’s sensitive ears ring and his head pound. He heard the nurse leave the room, but whoever occupied the bed continued to sob.
Aleric’s heart went out to whoever it was. He didn’t know where he was or what he was doing there, but he never had been one to leave well enough alone. Perhaps that was what had gotten him here in the first place.
Aleric slipped the needle from his arm. Blood welled up from the hole. He moved the tape that had held down the tube and pressed it to the area. Satisfied that he wasn’t going to bleed on anything, he stood up.
As soon as he pulled the clip off his finger, the monitor began to beep. Aleric dropped to his knees and pulled the plug from the wall. The beeping stopped. He removed the circular patches attached to his chest and straightened his hospital gown.
Aleric ducked behind the slit in the curtain that separated rooms. When he saw who occupied the bed, his heart slowed.
A mass of golden curls with the usual blue streaks fell over the tiny face. Her eyes were closed tight and a grimace of pain twisted her features. Her tiny hand held her arm where the tube attached to the needle. Liquid dripped from the clear bag on the pole and down the tube.
“This isn’t right,” Aleric said to himself.
The tiny voice wavered. Her eyes opened and held his gaze.
“I-I don’t know what to do,” he replied.
“It’s killing me.”
Aleric knew she wasn’t being dramatic. She was literally being killed, whether it was intentional or not.
He looked around, straining his ears to hear whether anyone was nearby. Footsteps walked past the room and kept going.
“I don’t know what’s happening, but we’ve got to get you out of here,” he told her. “Hold on.”
He grabbed the tube and pulled the needle gently from her arm. As soon as the blood welled up, he was ready with the tape.
She gave a sigh of relief and her eyes closed.
“Stay with me,” he said.
Aleric poked his head out of the back of the curtains. A small walkway made up the space between the sectioned rooms and the rear wall. For the moment, it was empty.
Aleric unplugged her machine, removed the monitoring devices, and pushed the bed into the walkway. Without any idea of where he was going, Aleric pushed the bed forward at nearly a run. He reached a set of double doors and had just shoved the bed through when he heard a shout.
Torn between the option to either get lost within the hospital’s huge hallways or confront the nurse, Aleric pushed the bed behind him and faced the doorway.
The nurse with the clipboard burst through with the force of a raging bull.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“What do you think
doing?” Aleric shot back. “Giving a fairy liquid? Are you trying to kill her?”
The nurse’s hands went to her hips. “Fairy? What are you talking about?”
Aleric gestured to the girl on the bed. “She’s obviously a fairy. Look at her!”
The nurse gave him an assessing stare. “We may have to order more tests. I think you hit your head harder than we thought.” She held out a hand and forced a gentler tone. Aleric could hear the tension behind her words. “Come with me and we’ll see that you’re taken care of.”
Aleric stepped backwards out of her reach. “What are you going to do? Give me an injection of silver?”
“What on earth do you mean?” the nurse asked, throwing her hands up in exasperation.
The fairy let out a moan. Aleric glanced over his shoulder at her. Her skin was turning gray.
“We’re running out of time,” he told the nurse. “She needs sunlight.”
“What she needs is a doctor,” the nurse shot back. “I need you to come with me so we can see that she gets the proper care.”
Aleric could tell the conversation was going nowhere. If he didn’t act quickly, the fairy would die. He refused to let that happen without giving her every possible chance.
“I’m sorry about this,” he said.
Before the nurse could react, Aleric picked her up and tossed her onto the bottom of the fairy’s bed. She opened her mouth to scream, but he covered it with his hand.
“Listen to me,” he said in as calm of a voice as he could manage given the situation, “This fairy is going to die if we don’t get her to some sunlight. If you want her to stay in this hospital, fine. Point me to the closest window and I’ll show you exactly what I’m talking about.”
The confusion in the nurse’s eyes was genuine and Aleric’s heart went out to her. She obviously hadn’t had many dealings with the fae.
Aleric took pity on the woman. “I’m going to remove my hand. Promise me you won’t scream. Give me five minutes to try to save her life. If it doesn’t work, we’ll head straight back to the curtains and I.V. of death, alright?”
The woman nodded. Aleric removed his hand slowly. To her credit, she kept silent. He pushed the bed with both of them on top.
The fairy gave a weak moan. Her eyes were closed and the pallor of her skin worried Aleric.
“Where’s the nearest source of sunlight?” he asked.
“The D Wing, I suppose,” the nurse replied. “It’s still under construction, but it’s not far.”
He followed her directions to the double doors marked with tape that read ‘Do Not Cross’. Heedless of the warning, he pushed the doors open with his back and pulled the bed through. Sunlight streamed through huge windows at the far end of the room.
“Perfect,” Aleric said.
He wheeled the bed to the sunshine. The nurse sat up with a wary glance at him. He kept his attention on the fairy. “Let’s hope we’re not too late.”
He positioned the bed so that the sun blanketed the fairy. He listened to her heartbeat from where he stood. It was faint and fluttery. The gray tint to her skin darkened.
“Come on, little one,” he whispered.
Her heart skipped a beat.
“Maybe we need to go outside,” he said. “Usually the glass doesn’t matter, but perhaps in this case—”
“I’ve had enough,” the nurse said. She climbed off the bed. “This has gone way too far. I should have called the orderlies to drag you back to your bed. I could lose my job for this. I can’t believe I listened to your nonsense.” She grabbed the bedrail.
Faint moans came from the fairy at the movement of the bed.
Aleric put a hand on the rail. The nurse tried to pull the bed away, but it didn’t move beneath his firm grip.
“Give it time,” he urged, his voice pleading.
“She doesn’t have time,” the nurse replied.
Aleric could tell she cared about the fairy. He set a hand on hers. “Please. Just give me one more minute. I beg you. It could mean the difference between life or death.”
She wanted to deny him; he read it in her expression. Relief filled him when she finally nodded.
“I don’t know why I’m doing this,” she said. “But one more minute.” She looked at the fairy and her voice dropped. “I should just turn in my resignation now and get it over with. Maybe I can blame it on an eighteen-hour shift. It’s their fault they’re understaffed. I can’t help it if some weird storm brought us two dozen patients in ten minutes. I just need….” Her voice faded away.
The color of the fairy’s skin changed from gray to healthy, rosy tones. She took a deep breath and Aleric heard her heartbeat settle into a steady rhythm. She let out a content sigh and stretched in the sunlight. A smile crossed her face and her breaths eased into the soft cadence of sleep.
“It worked.” The awe in the nurse’s voice showed on her face. “How did you know?”
Aleric leaned his shoulder against the next window. The sunlight felt good on his back and lessened the throbbing of his head.
“Fae creatures love sunlight. At least the Light fae do. Fairies can’t stand water or liquid of any kind. It’s poison to them. When I saw that she was hooked up to a liquid I.V., I knew her only chance was to get into the sun.”
His eyes had been on the fairy when he spoke. When he turned his gaze to the nurse, he was surprised to see her staring at him as though he had just spoken a different language.
“I feel like I’m asking this a lot, but what on earth on you talking about?”
“The fae,” Aleric repeated. “You know, fairies, werewolves, dragons and demons and all that.”
He expected her to nod. Instead, she shook her head and the same wide-eyed stare refused to leave her face.
“I have no idea what you mean.”
Aleric looked around the room. Subtle changes to what he was used to stood out. The walls where the wood was still exposed by the construction weren’t marked with the approval crest of the forest dwarves. The sheets on the fairy’s bed didn’t show the traditional pixie steps on the corners. The metal of the bars was smooth and seamless. The ironwork trolls never let anything out of their sight without making sure metal crafted by their hands contained the black hammer stamp in plenty of visible locations.
A tingle ran along Aleric’s arms. He turned slowly and looked at the window. The glass was clear and smooth. He checked each corner, willing the tiny handprints of the sand wisps to appear. Every pane he could see from his position was handprint free.
All were marks that made up Aleric’s daily existence, and each were conspicuously absent from the room.
“Where am I?” Aleric asked.
The nurse watched him closely. “Edge City Hospital.”
At his blank expression, she said, “You know, Edge City, biggest city on the continent? The city of two faces? The city on the edge of the next technological revolution?”
Aleric shook his head, his thoughts racing. He couldn’t, no matter how hard he thought, figure out how he had ended up in the hospital in a city he had never heard of before.
“You look pale,” the nurse said with concern in her voice. “Maybe we should have Dr. Worthen check you again.”
Aleric shook his head. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not about to go back to that room.”
“The E.R. is a bit crazy right now,” the nurse admitted, “But I need to get this girl back there right now.”
“Fairy,” Aleric replied.
“Girl,” the nurse said.
Aleric crossed his arms. “Fairy.”
The nurse looked as though she wanted to argue, then closed her mouth and shook her head. She reached for the bed.
“Dr. Worthen’s going to be furious that I let her out of the Emergency Room. This is no place for a patient.”
When Aleric put a hand on the bed, she let out an exasperated sigh.
“If I take her back—”
“She’ll get hooked up to the I.V. again,” Aleric replied. “I won’t let that happen.” Before she could argue, he held up a hand. “She stopped screaming with pain when I took out the I.V.; can you deny that?”
She shook her head.
Aleric continued, “She got better when we reached the sunlight. Can you deny that?”
“No,” the nurse replied, “But it could have been—”
He leaned closer to her while still keeping an iron grip on the bed.
“If you let that doctor hook her up to fluids again, she will die and her death will be on your head. Are you prepared to have the death of a fairy haunt you for the rest of your life? Haunts are very persistent creatures.”
The silence that filled the air between them was broken when the double doors flew open.
“What’s going on here?” a gray-haired man dressed in green scrubs demanded. “First, I’m told that two patients are missing. Next, my head nurse is gone and I’m told she was last seen heading in the direction of the D Wing on the foot of a bed. It makes absolutely no sense.”