Archive for » January, 2013 «

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 36

Anya could hardly breathe as she walked up the flights of stairs to her room. She had finally gone to bed after the amazing evening with Sherdan.

He had been the perfect gentleman and not pushed her for anything further, but she had retreated anyway. Had she stayed any longer, she may have offered him something she would have regretted at a later date. The passion she felt for him had almost overwhelmed her as it was.

As she passed his room, she felt a tug from somewhere inside her suggesting getting into his bed rather than her own. After pausing a moment, she resisted it and walked into her own room instead.

She put Antonio down and stood, leaning against her closed door, still struggling to breath in all the excitement and passion he had stirred in her.

Anya had decided she loved him and really believed he loved her too. Her thoughts that evening had not yet gone beyond that. What she would do if God told her to leave and not come back only then came to her mind. As Sherdan said, she was here now but how much longer would she be?

She gnawed on her lip as she thought about how reckless she had actually been. Not only could she not guarantee she could stay, Sherdan wasn’t a Christian. He may have taken an interest in her beliefs but that was a long way from a conversion.

On top of all these fears, she felt the first wave of doubt that she really loved him. Love was entirely new to her and so far the relationship between them had been so mixed it could just be relief. She groaned.

Considering the circumstances, she did the best thing she could think of and fell to her knees to pray. She had possibly been very stupid and needed God to sort it out, but Anya could hardly concentrate on anything other than how she felt when Sherdan had been kissing her.

She still knelt, trying to pray for God’s will, when the radio Sherdan had given her started squawking. She heard Graham call for Sherdan and the following reply. Feeling curious, she got up and took the radio to listen.

The messages confused her at first until she realised there were intruders. The dream she’d had flashed through her mind. She went invisible and the radio along with all her clothes dropped to the ground as she rushed straight for the stairs. She didn’t even go through the doorway, but through the wall, in her haste.

Anya could hardly get down the two flights of stairs fast enough. As she reached the ground floor she slowed herself so she could move silently.

She walked into the study where she found Sherdan. He was pacing and walked through her a couple of times. It felt odd so she moved back towards the door to watch him and continue listening.

More information soon came in, although they were obviously confused by what was happening. She felt calm despite the air of panic around her.

When Sherdan was told the kitchen alarm had gone off, Anya almost gasped out loud. Thankfully he didn’t hear the small stifled noise she made instead. She hadn’t expected that her dream would come true. She froze to the spot in panic. After everything she had faced, and somehow managed to overcome, this made her feel frightened more than any of it ever had before.

Sherdan sat down, snapping her back to reality. She closed her eyes and prayed, instantly feeling calmer. God wanted her to do it and she knew that. She had to be brave. The man she loved needed her help and she would do everything she could.

They both watched as the door handle turned. She moved swiftly to cover the opening and protect Sherdan. He seemed unable to move or respond.

As the door handle hit the bottom, the door was flung open. Anya was faced with two black clad soldiers, pointing guns straight at her. Without hesitating, she grabbed the front of the first gun and yanked it downwards.

The soldier pulled the trigger and peppered the floor with bullets. She gasped, giving her location away. She had to retreat to her furthest incorporeal state as the second soldier shot in her direction.

Thankfully, Sherdan had moved out of the way and none of the bullets which passed through her found him. She stepped to her left and grabbed the gun again as she brought her knee up into the soldier’s groin. He still held onto his weapon as she yanked on it for a third time.

She punched the soldier in the stomach and he let his grip go enough that a fourth tug dropped the weapon to the floor. The soldier moved forward and straight into her, sending her flying backwards. He was as stunned as she was.

Using the surprise of the assailants to her advantage, she scrambled to her feet and continued her attack in an invisible fury. Using the moves Nathan had taught her, she grabbed the soldiers arm, spun under it, and floored the man next to his own gun.

Improvising, she used the butt of the gun to hit his head. As more shots came her way she dropped the weapon again. All the shots passed through her, sending a chill up her spine. She really did not like things moving through her.

“What the?” the second soldier said as he followed into the room, only seeing his unconscious comrade and Sherdan. Anya turned and delivered an upper cut to the man’s face. It wasn’t strong enough to do any real damage, except make his nose bleed.

She took a step back and delivered a roundhouse to the soldier’s side before grabbing the gun, yanking it up and bending his fingers back. A few more shots rang out and embedded themselves in the ceiling.

Her right hand met the nose of the soldier again as her other kept the gun pointed up. The poor soldier didn’t know what had hit him as she battered him with blow after blow.

Anya was so exhilarated by landing so many moves, she didn’t notice when the soldier took his second hand off the gun and punched forwards. He caught her right in the face, sending her onto her back again. Blood dripped from her mouth as the commando readied his gun to shoot at Sherdan.

“No!” she yelled as she scrambled to her feet. The soldier looked in her direction and swung the gun towards her, still unable to see where she was. As he did, one of the security guards snuck up behind and hit him on the head with the butt of his own P60.

“All clear, sir.” the guard said, as another five of the security team filed in behind, followed very quickly by Nathan from the opposite side of the house.

“Anya, are you okay?” Sherdan asked, looking around as if he hoped to see her.

“Yes, I think so. I have not been shot at least.” She went up to him and took his hand, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, thank you. That was… I’m not sure exactly, but thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Sir, what just happened?” Nathan asked.

“I used the karate you taught me to keep those soldiers at bay until you guys could arrive,” Anya explained, from her invisible state beside Sherdan. Her words came out much faster, jumbling over each other so much she could only just make out what she had said.

The jaws of the other six guards hung open. None of them knew that it was the same girl who had been tortured by their team and they definitely didn’t know about her ability.

“Thank you men, you may all return to your posts. Nathan, you too.” Sherdan waved them all off and waited for them to leave. He kept a firm grip on her hand and she didn’t try to pull away. He evidently wanted to know where she was and she had no intention of becoming visible and letting him see her naked.

On top of that, she knew her mouth had bled profusely and wasn’t sure if it still was. She could taste the metallic salt of her own blood and knew she didn’t want to see it yet.

As soon as everyone left, Sherdan tugged on Anya’s hand.

“Come here darling. Are you sure you are okay?” He reached out his arms to where he thought she was. She stepped into his embrace and hugged him tightly. She had begun to shake as the shock of the fight reared its ugly head.

While she sobbed, Sherdan held her and kissed every inch of her head and face that he could reach. The whole time he kept his hands firmly fixed to the same position on her back, preventing her from pulling away, even if she had wanted to. He didn’t stop kissing her until she stopped crying and rested her head on his shoulders.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, completely ashamed of herself.

“Don’t be. You just saved my life.”

She tried to pull away but he still wouldn’t let her go.

“I love you,” he said in a more husky tone than normal. Her heart swelled as she kissed him, taking him by surprise.

His lips met hers again and again, while he wrapped his arms tighter around her until he had her crushed up against him.

“I should… I should go. I need to put some clothes on,” she told him, with a great deal of effort. A part of her didn’t really want to.

“Don’t.” He kissed her again, but she pulled away.

“I must.” She ran from the room, and him, before she could change her mind. She could hardly believe what she had managed to do. It was a blur in her head already, replaced by the warmth of Sherdan’s embrace.

As she pulled on her clothes she concentrated on her thoughts and feelings towards Sherdan so she wouldn’t drift back into panic from what had happened.

It amused her that she had reacted so much more to something that was trivial in comparison to her ordeal six weeks earlier, especially when it had been over and done with in minutes. She smiled and she let herself go visible again. The image in the mirror made her stop. Blood covered her whole lower face and one of her hands.

Sherdan knocked on the door and came in before she could clean herself up.

“Oh, good God.” He rushed over to her.

“It’s okay. I’m not bleeding any more.” He didn’t listen to her and quickly got a damp flannel. She waited, not really sure what to say.

Sherdan cleaned off all the blood from her skin, taking his time, while he sat beside her on her bed. She smiled at him, although it didn’t reach her eyes.

“There, back to my beautiful Anya,” Sherdan said when he had finished cleaning her up. She tried to get up and take the flannel away but she went dizzy as soon as she stood. He pushed her back and persuaded her to lie down.

“Let me. You need to rest.” She allowed Sherdan to fuss over her as she lay there. She didn’t think she wanted to be alone and he evidently didn’t want to go. He tucked her into her covers and sat beside her.

“Please… don’t leave me,” she whispered as a few more tears welled up in her eyes.

“Of course. Why would I leave the side of my guardian?” He smiled at her. She wanted to smile back but another tear fell from her eyes. “I will stay here all night if you need me to.”

“Thank you,” she replied, taking his hand. He lifted it to his mouth and kissed. He then gently kissed it again and again, working his way up to her wrist and then the rest of her arm. She had to pull herself away as he lay down beside her.

“Sherdan. Please.”

“I’m not going to do anything. I’m just going to be here with you.”

“I can’t… I mean I shouldn’t do any more than…”

“Sssshh. I do not intend to take advantage of your vulnerable state.”

“Promise?”

“I promise, despite any temptations. I will just be here with you.”

“It’s been a very eventful day.” She put her head back down and smiled again.

“It has but it’s over now. Sleep and know that I won’t leave your side. You’re completely safe now.” She took his hand again and rolled over to snuggle up to him. When she was comfortable she closed her eyes. She breathed in the reassuring smell of him and allowed her exhausted body to drift to sleep.

If you can’t wait until my next blog post to read what happens next you can now buy the ebook from Amazon, in the US, UK and many other places.

Seven Stories High + Dolphins and Bananas: A Review

I was asked to review both these collections of short stories by the same author, Alex South so I thought I’d put both there reviews into one blog post.

Seven Stories High:

There were seven shorts in this collection (hence the name) and I munched through the first collection of short stories without stopping and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. Most had a slightly chilling factor to them although they can’t all be classed in exactly the same genre.

There was a good variety of different characters and several had me guessing as to how they would turn out. So all in all very entertaining.

I think copy and paste was my favourite, although it’s not easy to choose between them. I’d love to see some longer works by this author to allow him to go into some more in depth character development and plots.

Dolphins and Bananas:

(since beginning my read of this book  I’ve been informed there is another version that this has been updated to so my review may be slightly out of date)

There are only four shorts in this collection compared to the seven above but I found the same relaxed easy to read style of writing, with the authors slightly quirky, amusing way of story telling as the first collection. The stories were a similar type too with maybe a little extra emphasis on the main character and the feeling of each in these four.

My favourite by far was Dolphining. I loved the way the dolphins thought and acted and the main characters reasons for seeing them.

This collection did leave me feeling wanting a little, however. I don’t know if the new update would have helped with that but I just wasn’t quite as captivated with these as I was the first seven. They were still enjoyable though and would be great to fill those odds minutes waiting around in queues etc.

Both collections were well worth my time and I really hope Alex South does something longer or even more of these. He’s definitely got a new fan.

What do you want to know?

This is normally my how-to slot in my blogging calendar and seeing as it’s a new year I thought I’d ask what how-to’s you lovely readers might like.

So far they’ve varied from t-shirt designing to all sorts of different writing topics and even a few on deeper topics like changing the world. Is there anything I’ve not covered about writing that people are particularly interested in? Perhaps on how I go about deciding some things?

Alternatively I could talk about marketing, formating, or something not even book related. I’m not too fussed what I talk about really, as long as it relates somehow to something I’m getting up to.

Or if you’re bored of this How-to slot (that may be the case) are there other types of blogs you’d like to see. Should I bring back the author interviews, or maybe do some kind of indie spotlight?

The choice is all yours!

Taken 2: A Review

More Liam Neeson!

And yes that does pretty much sum up this film. Liam Neeson, looking fantastically bad-ass and lots of people trying to get to him because they want revenge.

To be fair the plot really lacks but Liam does a good job with what he’s been given. His action is top notch and there’s some really funny moments in his over-protectiveness of his daughter. Normally that kind of thing is ott in films but this being the sequel to taken where his daughter was taken by traffickers (In case you hadn’t worked that part out yet) you can see why he’s doing it and I thought it made things even funnier.

It also had the one thing almost all action films need, a car chase! with a bit of a cute twist. Liam wasn’t driving! Which actually ended up being even better.

My favourite bit has to be how they ended up entering the American Embassy. I really won’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who’ve not seen it. I also really really loved how Neeson and his daughter worked out where he was so she could get to him. Fantastic piece of science! I actually learnt something from watching a film.

The biggest downside to this film was the lack of focus on trafficking. I saw the first one because of that focus because even though it was exaggerated in places I thought it was amazing that a film was putting such a horrible crime in the lime light for people to be faced with it.

Mostly the film was about Neeson getting to beat up even more of the bad criminals in lots of interesting ways. I even think the ending message of the film was meant to be Neeson doesn’t need a gun to kill you, he can just kill you! I mean, how many actors do you know who can pull of this —> and look cool doing it? There really aren’t many! ( I can’t actually think of any but feel free to prove me wrong)

So I’m glad I watched this film. I do like action so no dissapointments there, I just wish they had written a more trafficking related plot. There are rumours of a third one so maybe Neeson can actually go save something other than himself and his family and finish taking out the trafficking cartel he’s already mauled a few times and rescue some innocents along they way?

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 35

The evening passed at a rapid pace before Sherdan’s eyes. He didn’t want to stop being with Anya. He was neglecting all the work he needed to do in favour of talking to her and he didn’t care.

“When did you become a Christian?” he asked. She paused looking thoughtful.

“I had been brought up as a Christian but I didn’t really begin believing in it for myself until I started going to my current church. They were so different, informal, but serious about Jesus.”

Sherdan did his best to listen respectfully as she explained. His curiosity was peaked by her words, and he desperately wanted to understand.

“The church believes worship, the music and the band and everything about it, is important. It is modern and the words have real depth. It helps people connect to God and the Holy Spirit,” she paused to think.

“Go on,” he whispered.

“I hadn’t realised the Holy Spirit was something I could tangibly feel. The first time I did, I felt so peaceful. I just knew I was home and had to keep coming back for more of that feeling; those moments when all that matters is God and being with him.”

He nodded. He didn’t entirely understand, but he could see how important it was to her. It gave him a lot to think about. She didn’t speak of prayers being answered, or logical reasons for God existing, but of feelings and experiences.

Her whole answer took him by surprise. It was the first time someone hadn’t tried to argue him into believing but had simply explained their own feelings. Her face had also lit up in the most beautiful of ways. It evidently meant a lot to her.

“Thank you for being so honest. I think I understand more of it.” She smiled and they kissed again. He had never spent time in such a sweet and innocent fashion.

Before long, Antonio meowed at Anya to make a fuss of him so they both played piggy in the middle with the cat for the next half an hour, rolling a small ball between them. Once the kitten was worn out she stood and picked the fluffy creature up.

“I should probably get some sleep.” She stepped towards Sherdan and onto the tips of her toes to give him a kiss goodnight. He hugged her to him until Antonio began to wiggle between them.

It felt odd to be letting her go to sleep without joining her but he didn’t protest. Her beliefs were important to her and every time he had acted against them, it had put a gulf between them.

He let her go and went through to his study. There was still a mountain of work to do and it was already almost midnight. He sat for a few minutes in his favourite chair, thinking of Anya, with no regard to his work schedule. He had not felt so happy in years.

Just before one, his radio squawked at him.

“Sherdan, are you awake, sir?” came Graham’s voice. Sherdan grabbed his radio and pressed the button to reply.

“Yes. Why are you still up?”

“I was called into the command room. A small plane flew over about ten minutes ago.”

“What did it do?”

“As far as we can tell, nothing, it just circled over and went back where it came from.”

“Keep monitoring for now. Let me know if it happens again.”

“Yes, sir.” Sherdan put the radio down again, thoughtfully. They really needed to get some kind of air defence. He went back to his work, thinking no more of it.

“Sir, I think they may have dropped men.”

“You ‘think’, commander?”

“Yes, sir. There have been civilian reports of two or possibly more men trying to sneak around.”

“Have all the guard teams alerted. Let me know if anyone is spotted by officials.”

“Are you going to come to the command room, sir?”

“No, not until we have confirmed sightings. I will stay here. I have things to do.”

Sherdan went back to his work for a few minutes but Graham was soon calling for his attention again.

“No intruders found sir and the security teams have done a country wide sweep.”

“Do a second, just in case.”

“Already doing so, sir.”

Sherdan got up and went through to his own guards. Nathan had already turned to the door, expecting him after hearing the radio chatter.

“I assume you have been listening to the radio?” Sherdan asked.

“Of course, sir.”

“Keep an eye out, just in case.”

“Yes, sir.”

Sherdan went back to his study. Normally he would have gone over to the command room but Anya was asleep and he didn’t want to leave without her. He also had a lot of work to do.

Whatever it was that had caused the civilians to report something, it now had Sherdan so distracted that he found continuing the next items on his agenda impossible. He contemplated going to bed but decided on a small nightcap first.

Picking up the decanter, he poured the last of its liquid into a glass. He would need some more brandy in the morning.

“Sir, there’s still no sign of anyone, but the soldiers think they may have seen movement, from a possible non-civilian source, near your house. I’m getting them to search the general area,” the radio came to life.

“All right Graham, keep me informed.”

“He contemplated going to wake Anya to take her to the compound with him but the thought just annoyed him. He left her where she was and paced his study, glass in one hand and radio in the other.

“Sir, we are getting some funky behaviour from a couple of our camera feeds,” Nathan reported.

“What do you mean by ‘funky’ Nathan?”

“They have flashed on and off a couple of times. Just two of them at the back of the house.”

“Ok… Graham can you send a squad of the guards over to the house?”

“Yes, sir.”

Sherdan waited for a moment, now more concerned.

“They are on their way,” Graham informed him.

“Thank you.”

“Sir, I’m now getting the alarm on the kitchen door, someone’s opened it.”

“Come through and…”

“Wait, now it’s fine,” Nathan interrupted. “I think it was a false alarm. There is nothing on the camera feed in the kitchen.”

“Is there or isn’t there an intruder in the house?” Sherdan hissed.

“There isn’t, sir.”

“The extra guards are almost there, sir,” Graham added. Sherdan sat down, noticing that the glass in his hand was very unsteady. His security team had unsettled him. He calmed himself as he decided whether it was best to get Anya and head to the compound.

Just as he was about to get up it occurred to him that to get to her, he had to go past the kitchen and he had left the door open. If it wasn’t a false alarm he would be going towards danger.

He stood up when he decided he did not care. He couldn’t let anything happen to her.

“Anya are you awake?” he called into the radio. Before there was any chance of a reply the door handle began turning.

If you can’t wait until my next blog post to read what happens next you can now buy the ebook from Amazon, in the US, UK and many other places.

Storykeeper: A Review

I was gifted a copy of this eBook in return for a review. This is a historical American Indian novel based on some scrolls that were found and translated from the native language.

I studied this area of American history in school and while it was quite a number of years ago now it still made me eager to read this book. I was not let down in the slightest. This was the perfect book to finish off last year with and one of the best books I had the pleasure of reviewing in 2012.

The storytelling structure of the book appealed to my own nature and each different timeline being talked about felt real and fresh. I could imagine every little detail described yet nothing felt over described or dragged out. The balance of narrative and pacing was spot on and over the few days that I read this book I kept finding myself thinking about the characters and being eager to sit back down and delve into their journeys.

I really can’t recommend the book highly enough.

Entropia Land Deeds: A Year’s Worth of Investment

Just over a year has gone by since Land Deeds were introduced to Entropia. I’ve had one since the beginning and kept track of the returns. I did a post a while back on the early returns so I thought I’d post about the first year’s worth of investment.

In the first 52 weekly payments I received 241.81 Ped back or $24.18 which was an average of $.465 per week. It’s not quite as high as the initial amount I estimated in my two month post. It seems the first two months of the year were the best as I’m finding it’s picked up a little since then as well.

I initially predicted that the deeds would all be sold out within about six months and they are now all pretty much gone. The Planet owner kept a few to give out as prizes here and there but the vast majority of the 60,000 are now in the hands of others and interestingly I think about a quarter of them are all owned by one person, although one unnamed person. The resell price has also increased around 15-20% which I expected would happen, so my deed is now worth at least $115 so my total increase on the worth of the deed as well as the pay is at least $39.18 and is of course a 39.18% return.

At the end of two months I predicted that I would have my $100 back from payments by 20th April 2015, that’s now changed to 18th January 2016, which is unfortunately quite a bit later but I’ll actually have more than doubled my money by then if the deed value holds at $115. So a new estimate based on the new deed value of having a total of $200 value (deed resell value + revenue received) is 1st June 2015.

Although that is still after the initial estimated date, Mindark, the people behind the platform, have been putting extra effort into increasing marketing and new players to entropia, specifically planet calypso and have recently informed the community that the number pf players is growing. As they continue this into 2013 it may well see the amount per week grow again and these numbers may well improve. It definitely doesn’t look like they will decrease any further.

Taken: A Review

Anti-trafficking is a cause that’s very close to my heart. I gave half the rights to Innocent Hearts to a local charity that helps with the aftercare of trafficking victims as well as providing support for any child who’s gone through trauma. So you can imagine my excitment at finding out there was a hollywood film, with one of my favourite actors in, all about trafficking.

The premise is that Liam Neeson’s daughter is going to europe on holiday and while she’s there she gets taken by some traffickers. Just as she’s taken she manages to phone her father. He then goes after the people who’ve abducted her, killing msot of them along the way.

Now don’t get me wrong, in terms of action films this is a pretty good movie and it’s also really really awesome that there’s a major hollywood film that has trafficking in it, which for the most part was accurately portrayed.

My biggest problem with this film was him leaving lots of girls behind and not helping them all. It was gut wrenching to watch as he killed trafficker after trafficker but left all the girls locked in their rooms/chained to beds, except for one who has his daughter’s jacket. The annoying thing is I totally understand why he did this. He had to get to his daughter incredibly quickly, before they could do anything to her, which meant moving on and not taking the time to rescue anyone else. Let’s face it, what parent wouldn’t do exactly the same. But right at the end when he rescues his daughter there are two other girls on that ship. I’d have liked it if he had rescued those two as well, or it had at least shown us them being helped off the boat or something like that. It wouldn’t have needed much.

Back to the movie as a movie though, I have to say I really liked it, the more I watch Liam Neeson, the more I like him and it was only watching this film that I realised why his voice was so amazingly familiar in a very comforting way. He’s Aslan! Well his voice was the voice of Aslan in the Narnia films. Either way that made me very satisfied as I half imagined a ferocious lion in his place as he went hunting for his daughter and it may have added to the idea of the film in a very interestingly spectacular way. I will definitely be adding Liam Neeson to my list of favourite actors thanks to this film.

I felt the action was a little Bourne like at times though I think Neeson had a bit more of a mean streak in him. Normally the levels of violence in a film like this would make me feel a bit more queasy and I’d have probably looked away more but he was beating up traffickers (and sorta torturing them) and I have to admit I felt a small amount of satisfaction at that. Maybe I’m not as compassionate and merciful as I thought I was.

Either way I liked the film and I have seen the sequel as well now. I’ll review that soon.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 34

Sherdan poured himself into his work that evening. Every time he pulled another few bricks out of Anya’s walls she retreated from him or got angry. Now she’d started reading the Bible in front of him and the message was clear: she wanted him to back off because she was a well behaved Christian girl who didn’t get involved with the likes of him.

Anya went to bed at her usual time and Sherdan sighed with relief. The evening had been horribly awkward. He’d actually done more work than he needed because he hadn’t wanted to stop and have to force another conversation with her.

As soon as he was alone, he got up and poured a drink. Tonight he needed it. He sat and thought over his problem with Anya for another hour.

He felt like they were getting close to a tipping point and, if he didn’t have her won over by then, she would leave forever. Sherdan knew he needed help again so he went to call on Nathan’s advice.

Nathan was as quick to join him in the study as the last time.

“What can I do for you, sir?” Nathan said, taking a seat but refusing a drink again.

“I need more help with Anya. The kitten worked very well but I’m not all the way there yet.”

“How did talking to her about her faith go?”

“I’ve not done so yet. I don’t really know where to begin,” Sherdan explained.

“Ask her what convinced her to become a Christian. If you can understand why she chose that faith she’ll be less confusing to you in general.”

“Maybe. I don’t know if I can talk to her about what she thinks without arguing. She sat here with her Bible all evening to show me she thought her moral opinions to be more sound than mine.”

“Had it occurred to you that she may have read her Bible in front of you because she wanted you to understand it meant a lot to her and to ask about it?” Sherdan looked at Nathan as if he’d been slapped and he had to stop himself responding in his anger. The guard was just trying to help.

“She wants to come to the ball on Friday.” Sherdan changed the subject.

“So let her come.”

“I don’t want to put her at risk.”

“At risk of what?”

“If she comes, people will know she’s been here. If she then leaves, the British government might capture her and torture her for information. I promised her that would never happen to her again.”

“With her ability she could just walk out. Just like she can here,” Nathan pointed out.

“I didn’t think of that.”

“Does Anya know of your reasoning?”

“Not exactly, no.”

“Then I’d explain it to her and give her the choice,” Nathan said and got up.

“That’s it?”

“It sounds like most of your troubles are caused by not communicating with her properly. Talk to her. If you still need help after that, I’ll be more than happy to sit down with you again.” Sherdan nodded and let Nathan leave.

He poured himself another drink as he mulled over their conversation in his head. A lot of what Nathan said made sense and, whether he was right or not about her reasons for reading the Bible in front of him, it was worth talking to her about what she believed.

With a resolution in mind, he finally got some sleep. He needed to stop getting such late nights. It was the early hours of the morning again. Hopefully, Hitchin would have some good news about his ability the following day, and he would also make some more progress with Anya.

Sherdan was woken up before his alarm by none other than Anya. She still wore her pyjamas and had a slightly tear stained face.

“I had another nightmare,” she told him as if it explained everything. He went to get out of bed to hug her before he thought that she might not want to see him in just his boxers. Instead, he patted the edge of the bed. She shook her head.

“I just wanted to say that I was sorry I was so argumentative yesterday. I’m finding everything that has happened in the last six weeks very difficult.”

“That’s okay, I understand. I’ve not always done much to help,” Sherdan glanced at the clock and notice his alarm was going to go off in less than five minutes. “Why don’t we talk about this later? I’m needed in the compound shortly.”

She nodded and left, leaving him unable to follow. He hastily pulled on some clothes and went through to her room. She’d got back into bed again but she was sitting rather than lying.

“Are you going to be okay?” She nodded at his concern.

“I’ve got a karate lesson in an hour.”

He reluctantly left her and headed over to the compound. Hitchin awaited him in his easy room. He smiled at his friend who appeared much happier since Sherdan had let him run all his tests.

“How is everything?” Sherdan asked.

“We have a delightful new batch of test subjects… perhaps one female in particular. Quite the bright young lady. I may train her as an assistant.”

Sherdan recognised the familiar twinkle in his friend’s eye. This particular woman had evidently caught his eye for more than professional reasons.

“I’m here to let you know that all your tests came back perfectly fine. You don’t even seem to be fatigued enough to explain it. I can only assume it has something to do with Anya,” Hitchin continued.

“So, if Anya stays, I won’t get my ability back?”

“Not necessarily. I won’t know for sure unless I can find out what gave her the ability she has.”

“Fair enough. I’ll bring her in for more tests as soon as I can make her see it’s necessary.”

Sherdan went into the command room to get away from Hitchin before he could continue talking about Anya. She wasn’t going to be made to do anything. He was still determined to win her over properly and had a couple more things he could try.

“He’d sent an email with Anya’s measurements to one of his colleagues. They were picking up a ball gown for her today. That evening he would present it to her.

For the majority of the day, Sherdan had to deal with the American President. The Americans were demanding some of his defence technology in return for becoming allies. He wouldn’t let them have anything they still used regularly so he instead tried to offer them some of the country’s other advances, something that affected less military matters.

There had been other breakthroughs in medical treatments as well as food production thanks to studying the abilities and how they worked. Parting with things like that would benefit whoever received it but not increase any potential threat to Sherdan.

The Americans believed they were a powerful enough country that Sherdan would give anything to be allies. They were wrong. America had very little to offer them and other countries were willing to be amicable for less.

Sherdan repeatedly said no until the President got so cross he slammed the phone down on him. He left his diplomatist, Sharon, to continue trying to deal with it while he got on with other work. His work was never finished.

It was gone eight before he got away from the compound. Anya wasn’t anywhere downstairs so Sherdan rushed up to his room to check on the dress he’d had Anne smuggle up for him. It was a gorgeous, deep-blue, floor length ball gown.

He picked it up off the bed where it lay as he heard a rap on the door frame behind him. Anya gasped as he turned around. She stood there with her hands over her mouth.

“Yes, it is for you,” Sherdan said as he held it out to her. She didn’t take it.

“It’s gorgeous, but I haven’t decided if I am staying.”

“I know. I’m letting you come to the ball, if that’s what you wish to do.”

“Really?” Her eyes lit up.

“Yes, but please understand, if you leave it could put you in danger, being seen here, with me.”

“I know. I appreciate your concern but I’d like it to be my choice, just like leaving or staying should be.” Sherdan nodded and walked towards her to place the dress in her hands. This time she took it. She held it up against herself.

“You’ll look gorgeous in it.”

“Thank you.” She beamed and scurried off. He slowly walked out into the hallway. Her door was shut so he waited outside. He didn’t have to wait long before she flung the door open and came out wearing the dress. She twirled.

“So what do you think?”

“It really suits you.” She spun again, obviously pleased. “So will you come to the ball with me then?” Sherdan asked. She stopped spinning and paused for a moment.

“Yes, yes, I think I will.”

“Really?” He took her hands and pulled her towards him. She nodded and his heart beat faster. He wrapped his arms around her in another embrace but she pulled away after only a few seconds.

“You don’t want to crease it, let me get changed again.”

“She rushed off before he could reply and shut her door on him again. He chuckled to himself and he went to find some food. Anne had gone home earlier than normal as it was one of her son’s birthdays.

It was his turn to be surprised when he walked into the kitchen. Two trays were already laid out ready and, a casserole and some roast potatoes were in the oven. He noticed there was ten minutes left on the oven timer. Anya came up behind him as he stood, unsure what to do.

“Anne assured me you liked sausage casserole so I made one for dinner.”

“Umm… thank you. I have to admit it’s quite unexpected.”

“I thought I might as well. When Anne said she had to go but you weren’t back yet.”

“Thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever had a woman, other than my mother or housekeeper, cook for me.” She blushed at this and busied herself tidying the kitchen to cover her embarrassment

Sherdan was touched by the effort she had gone to and hoped it was a sign their evening would go well. He planned on trying to talk to her about her faith, if he could find a way to bring it up. It could wait until after the food, however. He intended to enjoy her company and her cooking.

They ate right there in the kitchen, sat on stools at the breakfast bar. Something Sherdan had never actually done. He didn’t spend that much time in the kitchen so he’d allowed Anne to design the room how she wanted it.

Anya finished eating first, evidently hungry from waiting. He wasn’t far behind, enjoying the meal she had made him.

A smile lit up her face when he had cleaned his plate and put his knife and fork together. It had been delicious.

“Thank you. You’re a good cook.”

“Not really. I know how to make one or two things well. It’s good to have a few dishes that can be cooked well,” Anya replied, her cheeks flushing red again. He laughed at her sound logic.

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” He got up and went to her, took her by the hands and led her through to the living room. They sat side by side on the sofa with her hands in his for some time. She blushed a lot but didn’t pull away.

“Has your God said anything lately about why you’re here?” He asked and then frowned. It had come out sounding a little harsher than he had meant it.

She pulled her hands away from him.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. I am trying to understand.”

“Understand what?” she demanded.

“I know your faith means a lot to you. I love you. I want to understand you and your beliefs better.”

“Oh… I… I don’t really know how to explain it entirely.”

“You said God told you to come here and has said to stay. Did he literally speak to you?”

“No, I don’t know if God literally says things out loud. For me, it’s more like thoughts that come into your head, combined with feelings. It feels ‘right’ to do as God asks.”

“And He’s asked you to stay here?” Sherdan asked.

“For now, I think so yes, but I will have to leave at some point.”

“Why?”

“I will need to go back to my church.”

“But you are here now, did God say why?”

“I’m not sure. I had a dream but I didn’t completely understand it,” Sherdan nodded, “so I’m waiting here until I know why.” He reached up a hand and stroked her cheek.

“I am very glad He asked you to stay longer. I would not have known the feelings I have now.”

“I’m glad I’m here too but I don’t think I can stay. At some point I will have to go Sherdan.” She looked away, “I’m sorry.” He lifted her chin back up.

“But you are here now and God wants that.”

“Yes, I am here now…” Whatever she had been about to say was lost as he lent forward and pressed his lips to hers. When he pulled back to look at her she followed and kissed him again, more passionately than he’d expected.

He smiled as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her even closer.

“I love you,” he whispered. The words sounded so foreign to him but, in that moment, felt so right.

“I… I love you too.” He kissed her again, wanting to show her the delight and joy her words stirred in him.

He had dreamt of this moment on several occasions but the reality was so much sweeter. His fingers caressed her cheek as his lips touched hers again and again.

After many minutes she pulled away. Her eyes shone and she smiled in a way he had never seen before. She breathed heavily and had a brightness to her he liked. He remembered the only other time he had seen her like this. It had been right after she had gained her ability but before they had fallen out.

“You do know I can’t… Before marriage I’m not meant to…” He put his finger up against her mouth.

“I understand. We don’t have to go that far. I’ve… Well, there have been many women I have rushed into bed with and I do not want us to be like that. We can go much slower.” She nodded her gratitude and he pulled her in close to him again, studying her features.

She blushed at his intense gaze, making him chuckle.

“Are all Christian girls so delicate and shy? You’re perfect. Had I known I would have found one of you sooner.” She frowned. “I’m teasing. I’ve never met anyone like you and I am really not used to feeling like this, about anyone.”

He shrugged. His feelings couldn’t be easily explained and it frustrated him a little. Without hesitating, she settled back against the sofa back and pulled his arm around behind her so they were cuddled up close.

They talked of happy subjects like family memories and silly things they did as children, whiling away the time. Occasionally he would give her another kiss as if he couldn’t believe she was reciprocating.

Neither of them mentioned the future and where they would go after that evening. He couldn’t bring it up in case she still said she intended to leave.

Sherdan didn’t know if he believed in her God but, in that moment, he prayed anyway; that He wouldn’t take Anya away from him. He’d found his little piece of heaven and he didn’t want to lose it.

If you can’t wait until my next blog post to read what happens next you can now buy the ebook from Amazon, in the US, UK and many other places.

War & Peace: A Review

I started this very epic novel about March/April last year and managed to finish it in December, which resulted in me proudly letting everyone know on facebook and twitter. Here’s a few of my thoughts on this 550k (that’s 100k words longer than lord of the rings) epic russian novel.

It probably took me about the first 100k or so words to actually get into the book. There are a lot of similar character names and Tolstoy goes into a lot of detail about their looks, habits and conversation.

I got the feeling that when the book was written and reading others in a similar period that it was more common to describe social interactions in more detail and include more of the authors own thoughts on everyday character study. I quickly realised Tolstoy had an insight into people, their character defects and natural inclinations that is rare today but must have been much more common then. In short he’s a great thinker on the human character and it comes across well.

The book spanned a period of wars between France and Russia towards the end of Napoleon’s campaigns and bounces between the activities of the army and several important officers and the other social elites of Moscow and Petersburg. It’s also split into several ‘books’ and the first chapter of each is Tolstoy directly addressing the reader to explain his opinion on why this particular part of the war was important and how it fits with the greater whole.

Despite the slow pace of the book and the extra concentration needed to understand the complicated sentences I really found myself growin rather attached to the people and I had to put the book down and shed a few tears when a character I particularly liked died. So all all I’d say this book is still a classic. For people who can chomp through the weighty prose it’s still well worth reading.

And on top of that the second of the two epilogues was again directly from the author to reader and went into all manner of interesting thoughts concerning where ‘power’ comes from and how much of life is down to fate and how much freewill.

The next great classic on my list is another of Tolstoy’s Anne Karenina.