Read Time Eternal Online

Authors: Lily Worthington

Tags: #Poseidon DPG

Time Eternal (7 page)

Skyla drove back to her parents’ house as soon as she finished debriefing the director on what happened at Rei’s townhouse back in 1933. She had questions for Mom and Dad, on top of the questions she had wanted to ask them last night before her abduction.

Passing the security gate at her parents’ house, she immediately noticed the increased security details—one full team was patrolling the premises, instead of half of the team patrolling the grounds while the other half manned the communication control room inside the security gate. If one full team was on the ground, there must be a second team shadowing and taking up strategic sniper positions. Well, at least that’s how she would’ve configured her team when she was the lead Secret Service agent for some of the presidential events.

“Skyla!” Her mom rushed up to her, half-dragged her out of the car, and hugged her tightly. “Are you all right? We were so worried when we realized you were not in the house or within the compound.” It felt so good in Mom’s fierce embrace, so she held on just a moment longer before speaking.

“I’m okay.” Skyla hugged back. “I’m sorry I’ve made you and Daddy worry.” She saw her dad standing on top of the front steps, and her arm automatically reached out. “Daddy.”

Her dad came down and wrapped his arms tightly around both of them. A long moment passed before he loosened his hold. Relief mixed with deep sadness in his hazel eyes. Thin white stress lines bracketed his lips. “You have questions for us, don’t you?” There was hint of foreboding in his normally strong, soothing voice.

She nodded.

“Come in.” He gestured to the house. They walked inside and to the family den. “Laura called us after your debriefing. She told us what happened yesterday during your mission inside the bank vault and where they found you last night.”

Now that was a surprise.
The Agency forbade its personnel from discussing the Agency’s business with anyone, including family members, without prior clearance from the director or Curtis.

“Daddy? Why would—”

Her father held up his hand so he could continue. Her father, a brilliant litigator, seemed to be at a loss for words.

She waited for a long moment. “Daddy?”

Her dad kissed her mom on the cheek affectionately, as if giving her mom and himself courage before continuing. “Laura said you told her about seeing a painting of someone who looked like you in the study where the man held you captive.”

Another surprise. Skyla had never heard the director discussing any of the Agency business, let alone in this level of detail, to anyone outside of the Agency or her chain of command.

“Laura also said that you thought you knew the man who disarmed you inside the bank vault. He was the same man who kidnapped you last night. And you’ve never seen that man until yesterday?”

She nodded reluctantly, not sure where this line of questioning was leading to. Cold sweat started trickling down her spine underneath her white and navy blue pinstripe shirt.

“And when Agent Velakios found you, you were unconscious. You thought your brain had an overload of images of people whom you don’t know but you feel an extreme familiarity with?”

That’s when her mom started sobbing quietly. Skyla went to her mom immediately. Embracing her, she looked at her dad, her heart racing. “What’s going on, Daddy?”

Her father got up from the sofa and went to the mantelpiece where they kept the family photos. He reached for the photo frame on the far left, the one that had been taken when Skyla had come home from the hospital. Her hair was very long, all the way down to her lower back, and her skin was much paler. In that photo, she looked exactly like the girl in the painting at Rei’s townhouse. Oh my God, it couldn’t be. Could it?

Her father turned around to face her. The distraught look on his normally warm face said it all before he went on. “Skyla, there’s something you need to know.”

“No…” One of her hands covered her mouth as if she could prevent the truth from coming out while her other hand clutched her mother’s like it was her only lifeline.

Not giving her a chance to say any more, her father sat down next to her mother and then looked directly into her eyes, “Skyla, we’re not your biological parents.”

She was too stunned to react in any way. Her dad held her sobbing mom and gently murmured, “Dear, we’ve no choice. She needs to know.” His voice cracked.

“Mom, Daddy, it’s not true.” Skyla looked at her parents holding each other like a couple grieving the loss of their child.

“I’m afraid it is. And we’re sorry that we’ve kept this from you for so long.” Her father’s steely courtroom voice was back. “Laura prepared us for this day.”

“Why—why didn’t you or Mom tell me this before? And what does Aunt Laura have to do with this?”

She had never seen such sorrow in her dad’s eyes. He had always been the rock of their family. She remembered the countless times he had been by her side during her recovery in the hospital and the physical and speech therapies that came afterward. She remembered the comfort and support he had given Aunt Laura in the months after Uncle Johan was declared MIA. But now, her dad’s normally calm and confident façade was breaking down. He looked at her with regret and deep sorrow.

“Because you’re our government secret.”

If she had been shocked by the fact she was adopted, she was even less prepared to hear what her father had just said. She had known there was more to her past than her parents had let on, but not in a million years would she have thought she was some kind of government secret.

 

Chapter Nine

“Director Jensen.” Rei spoke from the shadows in the dimly lit room, catching his prey by surprise. The slight form of the woman ducked behind her desk in a quick, fluid motion and surfaced just as quickly with a handgun, now pointing it in the general direction of his voice.

She spoke in a stern, authoritative tone, befitting her station. “Show yourself.”

Not wishing to waste more time, he stepped out from the shadows in the opposite corner from her and held up his arms casually, showing her that he was not armed—at least not visibly. His saber was hidden underneath his black leather trench coat.

“Who are you? And how did you get in here?” Now the gun was aiming directly at his head. Her posture was tense, ready to shoot.

“Ah, your so-called time distortion—a.k.a, wormhole detection technology.” He smiled and dropped his hands to his sides, disregarding the little lady’s deadly aim. “I am Rei Dusan.”

Her stand remained firm and ready. “Should I know you?”

“You should if my intel is correct. You were part of the team who recovered the time machine in which Elizabeth Magini traveled to your century. Or, I should say, Skyla Gray.”

Her eyes widened in surprised for a split second. “What do you want?”

Good, he finally had the director’s attention.

•●•

Laura was surprised, yet not shocked, to be facing the stranger in front of her. She had been preparing for this moment since the day her government had intercepted the time machine and decided to integrate Skyla, the name they had given the girl inside the machine, into their society. She remembered what happened twelve years ago as clearly as if it was yesterday…

“Sir, with all due respect, we must send the girl back, to wherever and whichever time period she came from. She’d be a danger to herself and to us in our time.” She walked briskly alongside General McCarthy, who was heading to the Oval Office for his final recommendation on the situation to the president.

He stopped and turned abruptly to face her. Irritation was stamped all over his face. If she knew what was good for her career in the Secret Service, she would not challenge the highest-ranking official on the joint task force. But she knew it could be disastrous to let her government make this mistake, so she held the general’s eyes steadily, not backing down.

“Agent Jensen, to which time period do you suggest we send the girl? Not to mention our research team still hasn’t unlocked the secrets of that machine. Even if we wanted to send her back in time, we cannot.” Picking up his pace again, he continued. “Short of confining her to a cell, we have no other choice but integrate her into our world.”

More than three months had passed since the U.S. Navy, the closest military unit stationed near North Kingstown, Rhode Island, had retrieved the machine and the girl. A week ago, the girl had finally awakened from her coma, but she had no idea who she was, what had happened to her, or how she had gotten here. The doctors had found no sign of concussion; therefore, it was highly likely that either something traumatic had happened to the girl before she left her time or that time travel itself had been too taxing on her consciousness—hence, voluntary amnesia to protect her mind from what it could not handle.

She had visited the girl daily, hoping to find out more about her and the machine. The only thing she could say for certain was that the girl was from a distant past. She spoke fluent Italian and English, but both in the old linguistic forms. The forensic team took a close look at the girl’s clothing and her body composition, and then cross-referenced their findings with different relevant historical periods in southern Europe that had proliferated scientific invention. The team was 99 percent confident the girl came from the Renaissance period. Based on the nutrients found in her body, the team also concluded that she was from the middle region of Italy, possibly Tuscany, as it was known in the present time…

And the rest was history, as they said. Laura had been assigned to help integrate the girl into society, and she had kept her close ever since, first as her aunt and now as her boss. There could be only one explanation for how this man knew of the girl and the machine. He must have known her in the time from which she came.

Laura masked her surprise, and without confirming or denying this Rei Dusan’s statement, she asked, “What do you want?”

“A deal.”

“For?” She already knew the answer, but she was hoping the man in front of her had come for something else.

Rei pulled out the chair in front of her desk and sat down. “Skyla Gray.”

“What do you want from Agent Gray?” Her heart sank, even though she had been expecting that someday, someone would eventually come for Skyla, whom she had grown to love as she would her flesh and blood. Hell would be frozen before she would just hand over her niece—and one of her best agents—to whomever was now claiming her back.

Laura made a quick assessment of the man in front of her. Although his body was relaxed, she was not fooled. His eyes were flat and hard, the eyes of a ruthless, calculating warrior.

“Everything.”

“Care to elaborate more?” she suggested, still pointing the Glock at him.

“Not at the moment. What I can offer you is much more valuable than knowing what I want from your niece. That’s what everyone believes, correct? Skyla is your niece by marriage—although, of course, she is not from this century at all.” His mouth kicked up in a mocking smile, challenging her to deny her government’s scheme.

“Enough!” She stood and pulled the safety off the Glock. The click of the safety was a comforting sound, even though she doubted a bullet would stop this man from getting what he had come for. Nevertheless, she wouldn’t make it easy for him. “Tell me what you want from Skyla, or you will not live long enough to make any deal.”

•●•

Rei was genuinely impressed by the little woman staring down at him with the same ironclad determination that he had for Skyla. He had no doubt she wouldn’t hesitate in pulling the trigger and putting a hole in his forehead if he did not yield to her demand. His body tensed instinctively, ready to neutralize the unpleasant possibility. At the same moment, her office door crashed open. And there rushed in two of her agents, Knox Sittler and Butch Stone. They were armed with submachine guns that were now fixed on him.

“Director Jensen,” Knox spoke without taking his sight off Rei. “Are you all right?” The usually soft-spoken doctor was a force to be reckoned with when in combat mode.

“Mr. Sittler. Mr. Stone. A pleasure. I’m Rei Dusan.” A cocky grin was plastered on his face. He could take them both, although it wouldn’t be easy. Unfortunately for everyone, he had no plan to leave before he got what he had come here for.

From his intel, Knox Sittler was a former U.S. Air Force-trained surgeon specializing in infectious viral diseases. The good doctor was similar to his own height, with lean, athletic muscles that exerted quiet power. Benjamin “Butch” Stone was a former Marine captain who specialized in black ops. He was a couple inches shorter than Knox but built like a wrestler, with huge muscles and harsh, unyielding eyes. They were part of the same team as Skyla within TSCCA. The Agency was formed ten years ago and had three operative teams. Each team was made up of combat, weaponry, intelligence, and medical experts that worked together through the entire time-space continuum. Well, not the entire continuum. TSCCA scientists had yet to solve the riddle of opening the time-space continuum into the future.

There was no record that Rei’s men could find from the future about TSCCA’s time-traveling backward. To Rei, it could only mean one of two things: either TSCCA had successfully rooted out all evils, and the future world was one big, happy, fucking family—which he highly doubted—or somehow TSCCA would be losing its time-traveling ability for whatever reason. That was a more probable scenario, as the gods were always big on balancing the scale between good and evil. No matter. He’d found Elizabeth, and that was all he cared about. He would be more than happy to trade his immortality and his ability to travel through time to be with her again. He winced at that thought because there was no way the gods would be so generous as to release him from their bargain made more than half a millennium ago.

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