Authors: Lily Worthington
Tags: #Poseidon DPG
As soon as he left the room, Skyla tried to wrench her wrists free from the rope, hoping the knots were not as tight as they felt; unfortunately, they were. Even she had to admire how expertly the knots were tied around her wrists. They were strong and tight but not painful at all—well, as long as she did not struggle against them too much. Knowing she could not get herself free, the only thing left to do was survey the rest of the room for clues to who this Rei was. She swept her glance from one end of the room to the other. That was when she saw the painting above the liquor cabinet. She gasped. The young woman in the painting looked uncannily like her. She was in Renaissance costume, and she looked about ten, twelve years younger than Skyla was, almost the same age she’d been when she had woken up from her coma. The girl in the painting had the same deep chocolate-brown hair color as she did, but it was much longer, almost reaching her hips. Skyla’s hair was that length when she woke up in the hospital. And the girl’s large, brown eyes were so reflective, it was as if she was staring back at Skyla in surprise.
Before her mind could process the astonishing image, it was assaulted by a new set of images. Images she did not recognize. Images of her and the man who called himself Rei. Images of an older man for whom she felt an immense sense of warmth and love. Images of a man with malice in his cold, flat eyes, squeezing her shoulders with his hands, but she could not hear what he was saying to her. Images of her slamming a door, blocking whomever was pursuing her while running toward a machine that looked oddly familiar. All of them seemed to be from a distant past. If she had to venture a guess, it was the Renaissance period. At Columbia, she had majored in physics with a minor in art history. She always had an affinity for art and scientific work done in the Renaissance period. The elaborate clothing details and the décor of the indoor space in the images were strong clues as to the time period, but the images were moving too fast and too disjointed for Skyla to take in. It was too much for her mind to absorb all at once. Her body started jerking, and her eyes rolled back. Then there was complete blackness.
Is she Elizabeth? Have I finally found her?
Slightly trembling, Rei walked down the hall to find his butler, Herbert. After letting Herbert know of the guest in the study and instructing him to bring some refreshments for her, Rei needed a moment alone. He went to his bedroom.
Agent Skyla Gray was the mirror image of Elizabeth, and his men could only dig up some sketchy records of her childhood before her coma. Yet her demeanor was completely the opposite of Elizabeth’s. The agent in the library was as cold and hard as he. She would not hesitate to kill him if she were given half a chance to do so. Could she really be his Elizabeth in a different century?
Once he was inside his room, he went to the safe. It was built into the wall at the bottom corner of his dressing room, and from afar, it looked like a stepping stool. Carefully, he took a wooden box from the hidden safe and opened it. Lying on top of the cream-colored velvet was his mother’s ruby ring and a lock of golden-brown hair tied in a blue ribbon. His mind drifted back to centuries ago…
Laughing breathlessly, Elizabeth dashed to the end of the sunflower field and sat on the velvety green grass, waiting for him.
“I won!” she called out excitedly as he emerged from behind the wall of flowers. Her cheeks were flushed from the run that she had teasingly challenged him to. Not to be outdone by her excitement, he immediately tackled her and threw her down on her
“Maybe not, my lady. It seems now I have the advantage.” Without giving her any warning, he bent his head and captured her lips with a gentle kiss. Still giggling, Elizabeth lifted her face to the sun and closed her eyes. “Such a beautiful day, Rei. I wish we could come here every day.”
He had never known pure joy and contentment in his life until he had met her. She was his other half. They shared the same strength and honor, yet her warmth and love drew him out of the cold, calculating life he was born to.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a wooden box and handed it to her. “Open it.”
Still smiling, Elizabeth opened the box, and her big brown eyes got bigger and rounder. “Rei?”
Inside the box, a large oval ruby was set regally on a delicate filigree gold band. The ruby seemed to be glowing brilliantly, as if it were competing with the sun for Elizabeth’s affection.
“Marry me, Elizabeth.” Rei dropped tender kisses on her forehead and nose. “Be my wife.”
He knew Elizabeth would say yes to being his wife. Nevertheless, he was nervous to hear the answer from her. He held his breath, waiting for her answer. Her momentary silence made him think the worst—Elizabeth didn’t reciprocate his affection. She looked between the ring and him a couple of times as if she was at a loss for words. He squeezed her hand tighter. “Elizabeth?”
Then she broke into a huge smile. “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Oh Rei, are you certain? I’m just a scientist’s daughter. Papa has no dowry to offer.”
Letting out the breath he had been holding for too long, he quickly took the ruby ring out of the box and held up her delicate hand. He kissed the tip of each of her soft fingers before lifting her ring finger up to slide the ruby on it. The sparkles from the ruby and diamonds danced across Elizabeth’s still-surprised face. Placing another gentle kiss on her finger and the ring, he smiled contently at her. “No, my love. You are the most beautiful thing in this world to me. And yes, of course I am certain. I’ve been certain since the moment I saw you.” He bent down and kissed her again. This time it was hotter and heavier. He had to lift the lower part of his body slightly off her so that his rigid erection would not offend her maiden sensibility. “I love you, Elizabeth Magini. I love you so much that I would give all my worldly possessions just to spend the rest of my days with you. Please say yes.”
And she kissed him back with so much warmth and love that he knew he was finally home. No more blood. No more scheming. No more loss…
A series of loud stomps brought Rei back to the present. “Master Rei!” His butler practically ran into his bedroom.
Rei stood up. He sensed what he should have sensed earlier had he not been so engrossed in his memories of Elizabeth. Intruders. Skyla’s teammates had come, sooner than he had expected. Dammit, he had not even spent five minutes with her yet. There were still questions that he must have answered. He had searched far too long and hard for Elizabeth. He knew deep in his soul that his five centuries of searching were coming to an end. It was about bloody time. The gods had been having a good laugh at his expense. Those bastards knew Elizabeth lived, but they refused to tell him where she had gone.
Calmly he waived his butler off. “It’s all right, Herbert. They’re gone now. Call Sloan and tell him to proceed as I instructed.” Herbert followed his order and left the bedroom. Rei put the wooden box back into the safe and got ready for his next move—to claim what was his.
“Skyla, Skyla?” She felt someone shaking her and vaguely heard a raspy male voice. Her sight slowly focused on the face in front of her. “Gus?” She felt dazed and confused. She placed her hand on her forehead, applying pressure to a dull ache. “What happened?”
Without answering her, Augustus Velakios, the former Spanish terrorist who was betrayed by his cell and now worked for TSCCA, unbound her wrists and ankles quickly and efficiently. “No time to explain. We’ve got to move before the portal is closed.”
“No…Mom, Dad…” Yes, she had to get back to Mom and Dad, make sure they were okay. Yet part of her consciousness was fighting to stay. It was telling her that she had to stay, she would find answers for those unexplainable nightmares and the out-of-time-and-space feelings she had had since she’d woken up from the coma.
“Mr. and Mrs. Gray are fine. Your mom came by your room by chance and discovered you missing. She contacted the director immediately.” He quickly pulled her still-groggy body up from the chair. “Hurry. We have to leave now. The director will have my hide if there’s another incident. Let’s go.” Without waiting for her to respond, Gus lifted her into his arms and pressed the radio communicator to his throat, “Secured and ready.”
“Copy that.” Both a male and a female voice answered at the same time. She knew the voices. They were Vivi’s and Butch’s. From the rapid movements outside the study, they were moving away from their stations to make sure the path between the study and the portal was secured.
The rather loud stomping noises finally broke through her hazy consciousness. Her head was more focused now, and she pushed against Gus’s impressively muscular chest. “Put me down. I can walk.”
Arching a thick, dark eyebrow, he asked, “Are you sure, chica? You did not look like you knew where you were just a second ago.”
“Yes, I’m sure. Now let me down.” With another push against Gus’s solid chest, Skyla freed herself from his hold and took the spare Glock from the side of his waistband.
On autopilot, she pulled the magazines out of the Glock, making sure it was locked and loaded. Satisfied, she nodded at Gus. “Let’s go.”
“Downstairs, to your left, and keep going toward the back. Two minutes.”
Leveling the gun, she took the lead toward the portal location while Gus covered her back, making sure no one was following them.
“Two teams are now shadowing Senator Glass and Representative Steagalls. Standing by for further instructions.” Sloan rattled off his report as he was pushing open the study door, thinking that was why Rei had summoned him. Instead of finding Rei behind his massive mahogany desk as usual, his brother was standing in front of the life-sized portrait of Elizabeth.
He stifled his groans. When Rei turned to look at him, his brother’s eyes were shrouded by the past. The past that had been steadily eating away at his brother since the day they, along with their other brothers, had been called back to their homeland to defend their country once again from invaders. It was 1587. Just like all of his brothers, he had been sent to live in a foreign country to be the eyes and ears for the Empire; in his case it was Scotland. When he arrived back home after being summoned by their father, he found Rei, his fearless eldest brother, the heir to their father’s kingdom, sitting alone at the dock looking lost and haunted.
“You’ve found Elizabeth.” He spoke quietly, more of a statement than a question.
A determined expression replaced his brother’s haunted look from a moment ago. “Take Bo and Tory with you. I want all there is to know about Agent Skyla Gray and the TSCCA in the twenty-first century.”
Sloan paused a few moments, weighing this new complication, and then spoke carefully, “Is this wise? Time’s fast approaching. We can’t afford any distraction now. They won’t allow it.”
His brother’s jaw tightened. “I know what’s at stake.”
Knowing there would be no arguing with his brother’s—his commander’s—order, Sloan walked out of the study, holding back the rising bitterness. It was the same bitter taste he felt when his brother defied their father’s order not to leave the country and went back to Florence looking for Elizabeth. The memory of their father and brothers and countless countrymen falling at the Last Battle rushed through his mind. Sloan had to slow his pace and force himself to breathe slowly so he wouldn’t charge back up to Rei’s study and shake some senses into his brother for risking his men again for that mere girl.
When he was sure he had regained his composure, he went to look for Bo and Tory. They were in the weapons room cleaning their gear. “Let’s go hunting.” He nodded at two of his best soldiers and charged out of the townhouse front door. The brilliant sun and a gust of rigid, cold wind blasted him unexpectedly and ruthlessly. It tempered his still-boiling anger and gave him a clearer mind. After all these centuries, he knew what he must do.