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Two fantasy and sci-fi boxsets: Legends & Legacy

The first of two great multi-author boxsets is out today for only 99p/99c. Legends is a collection of Sci-fi and fantasy stories and has my very own Sherdan’s Prophecy among the 13 awesome books included.

Legends-SherdansprophecyThis is a total steal for that many fantastic books so grab a copy here.

Legacy promoAlso out in only two days time (and available to pre-order here) is the sister boxset with another of my ebooks in. This boxset has Wandering to Belong and is one of 10 great stories. Several of which feature dragons! What more could you want?

The Wonderful World of Print

Recently both Sherdan’s Prophecy and Sherdan’s Legacy were moved over to the 2nd edition, complete with the shiny new covers. I’ve also recently published Sherdan’s Country, the third book in the series, and that has a matching cover to the new editions. While I try to get my books in print fairly soon after the ebook it sometimes takes a little while to sort out the logistics, but we’re finally all there.

2015-01-14 14.12.14As you can see the new set look wonderful together, and I’m really pleased with them. They make me want to work on some further plot ideas for Sherdan’s world just so I can have some more with shiny covers like these. It’s just a shame I can’t think of a really good idea at the moment.

As usual I’m selling signed copies of these myself, so if anyone wants one, drop me a message here in the comments or to my email address under about me and I’ll get back to you with how we can make that work.

Now excuse me while I go back to stroking the shiny.

Character Spotlight: Sherdan

This is one of my special characters. I love all my characters but a few always stick out in my head and this is one of those. He’s my first male leading character and although he’s far from perfect he’s still one of my favs.

I have two books out with him in now and I’m putting together the plot for a third, which feels kinda nice. I really like writing sequels. I suspect I’ll get bored of the characters eventually but for now starting a sequel feels a lot like visiting old friends. I just pick up where I left off.

Sherdan comes across as a complete meglomaniac at the start of the first book. He doesn’t care who gets hurt in his quest for the greater good. Has people tortured on almost a whim and is more than happy to bribe people or even blackmail them to get what he wants. He also even plays God a little with his enzyme and the people he gives it to.

Despite all that though, there is a softer side, he just tries to push it aside, thinking it’s weaker. He’s a scientist who, until recently, bought into the idea that we evolve and life is purely survival of the fittest. Compassion, love and mercy are often considered to be weaknesses by people in those schools of thought.

However, I love throwing my characters curveballs and seeing how they react. Sherdan soon falls in love, as all my MC’s often do. This is a really good thing for him and softens him in all the right ways.

Through Anya he does also get challenged about the idea of a God and what that might look like as well, which is a new thing for him. Whatever he decides he believes in it starts making him think about what he’s doing and whether he wants the destination he’s heading towards.

Overall Sherdan is one of those characters people love, despite all his many flaws and imperfections. You just can’t dislike him, even though you know you ought to. And no matter what he does I think he’ll always be one of my favourites. Maybe because he’s my first male lead. He’s just… rather special.

Location Spotlight: Southstoke

In Sherdan’s Prophecy I mention that Sherdan and Anya head to a small village off the south of Bath to enjoy a picnic together, this village is Southstoke.

During the book I happen to mention they sit down on the ground in front of a stone bench, set into the hillside. The picture above is that very stone bench.

I found this location not very far from the house I used to live in while out walking with my mum and very much fell in love. The views from the seat are amazing.

This is what it looks like during the day, which as you can see it quite spectacular. In the book Sherdan takes Anya when it’s dark so they wouldn’t have been able to see all this detail but the view is still really rather special, even then (yes, I’ve also been at night, but photos don’t come out that great).

For any intrepid explorer types who want to find this bench and view, it’s a very short walk away from Southstoke and you can park right where Sherdan parks if you wish. Below is a map. You can come in from Bath, via Combe down and then park at the hill, then follow the black dashed line to the bench.

I don’t want to plot spoil so I won’t say too much about their visit here but I do think it has a certain charm to it.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 39

Sherdan couldn’t say how long he had cried over Anya’s letter. The whole evening passed in a blur of re-reading the same painful words and trying to get Anne to leave him alone and go home. Now and then, the tears gave way to angry outbursts where he cursed Anya for coming to see him in the first place.

She had left her kitten behind and the sight of the abandoned gift only pained him even more. Anne had the good sense to take the poor thing with her when she finally went back to her own family.

He had completely lost his desire for food and ignored everything he was offered. He considered getting a bottle of brandy but knew if he started drinking today he would go too far. There was also a small part of him that wanted to feel the pain he had in his heart: the deep ache of longing to see Anya’s face again.

Sherdan wandered aimlessly about the house; first in her room, staring at its emptiness, then in his study, gazing at the screens he had first watched her on. All of it felt like daggers twisting in his core and knowing Hitchin had been taken from the country made it all the worse.

In times like this his friend would have sat with him, reassuring him with words from his visions, stopping him from being alone in the dark.

The documents Miss Miller had given him lay forgotten on his desk since he got back. He remembered them and picked them up. If Hitchin couldn’t be there in person perhaps reading his words would lessen some of the loss he felt.

He knew the second vision was in the leather bound journal he had seen Hitchin fetch recently but Sherdan felt more curious about the typed documents. He flicked through the pages, checking the dates. There appeared to be an entry for each day and, as far as Sherdan could tell, it appeared a more thorough diary than the hand written one.

Sherdan frowned, puzzled about why Hitchin would keep two, vastly different diaries. He stopped flicking through the pages when he reached mid-December in the previously unseen version and started skim reading.

As he read, he grew more and more stunned. The day after Anya arrived, Hitchin had written at length about her, despite Sherdan having not yet said the intruder was a woman. Hitchin had met her. He had been in the lab she had run into when she had been breaking in.

Sherdan’s jaw dropped open as he continued to read.

I knew then Sherdan would develop a crush on her and I am going to need to keep and eye on them both. I won’t let Sherdan’s fascination with the opposite sex put our plans in jeopardy.

He couldn’t read on for a moment, overwhelmed by what he saw. After a pause Sherdan skim read through until Christmas where Anya was mentioned again.

I sat with Sherdan a lot today. His talk of Miss Price has me very concerned. She should be treated like any other security risk but he has her locked in one of his bedrooms. He is a fool for thinking she will be safe there. The only way to save him from ruin is to break her. The guards were close and Sherdan will have to finish the job. I have already told him I think another vision is on the way.

I know if I convince him it is meant to be, that he will force her to give him a child and have her completely submissive to his every will. He will just need pushing in the right direction and the brilliant thing is, it was Sherdan himself who gave me the idea. The guards that interrogated her told me only yesterday that they thought he had stopped the interrogation to take over himself. He had said as much over the radio.

Once I have thought about all the details I will tell Sherdan he is meant to have her and he will do everything else for me. Maybe one day I will tell him the truth but not until the next female has taken his fancy. For now this project is more important.

Sherdan couldn’t read any further. He felt sick at the implications of what Hitchin had written. He had almost done exactly what Hitchin had expected him to and only Anya herself had seen through it. No wonder she had left him.

The country they had been planning may well have achieved all its goals but at what price? The damage they had done, he had done, to an innocent girl just because of the paranoid worries of one man. Even if the vision had been true he realised he hadn’t deserved her.

It had crossed his mind that evening on several occasions to demand Anya return to him but he could no longer do that. She was better off without him and far from his country.

He put his head in his hands and wept. Anya wasn’t meant to be by his side and now he found the person he’d always thought would be there, had been against him. Sherdan really was alone in the dark.

The End

Yup, that’s the end! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this novel. If you have and want to say thanks in a financial way, please consider purchasing a copy of the ebook, and if that’s not something you can afford right now please let others know how much you enjoyed the novel, so hopefully they can enjoy it too!

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 38

Anya lazed in bed for some time after Sherdan had left for work. His final few words echoed around her head. He still thought she was everything he needed and that he could provide everything required to heal her and make her happy.

She knew she could only find that in God. He would be her healing and hope, not Sherdan.

As she got out of bed her thoughts turned to the day before. Her task here was now done and for both her sake and Sherdan’s she would need to leave. She had to decide when and how; if she was even strong enough to let go of her relationship with him.

The thoughts that went through her head brought tears to her eyes and an ache to her chest. She would need God to help her if she was to have the strength she needed. She thought she knew how to rely on God in this way, but the more time she spent in Utopia the more she realised she still had a lot to learn.

Anya had an early lunch while she pondered over the best way to leave. If she stayed another night she didn’t think she would have the emotional strength and she knew there would be no turning back at all if she went to the party with him.

Her dress caught her gaze. It had hung on the curtain rail since he had given it to her, so it would not get creased. She had to turn her back on it while she thought.

With feet like lead she got up and packed clothes into a small wheeled case she had found in Sherdan’s room. As she folded the clothes and placed them inside she picked up speed and confidence.

As soon as Anya was done, she sat down to write a goodbye letter to Sherdan. She didn’t doubt that this would be the hardest part, so she had left it until last.

While stroking Antonio, she thought for a long time about what she wanted to say. She wanted him to know that her only reason for leaving was her belief in it being better in the long run. Doing so was going to hurt her as much as him. The right words wouldn’t be easy to find.

Anya picked up the pen and paused again. Moisture spilled from her eyes and down her cheeks, but she ignored them and slowly made her message appear on the paper. She didn’t want to still be there when Sherdan got back.

To Sherdan,

I am truly sorry for the hurt this letter is going to cause you, especially considering you will know that I have left when you find this. Please know that I do love you and I will leave a large part of me behind when I go. This place feels like home to me now as much as my flat in Bath ever did.

Not only is my task here now complete but I know to find healing and wholeness I must return to my church, where God can minister to my needs and rejuvenate me for my next task. I will pray everyday that it will somehow involve you and your country.

I will also pray for you. I know what I am doing will break your heart. I wish it wouldn’t but I will pray God heals you at the same time as me.

With all the love I am capable of, Anya

By the time she had finished writing her hands shook from holding back her emotion and her heart ached in a physical way she had never felt before. It had never occurred to her that having a broken heart hurt in a very real sense.

Before she could change her mind she folded the paper, put it in an envelope and sealed it. She breathed out, not realising she had been holding her breath until that moment.

She thought she had done the hardest part but she still had to put the letter somewhere he would find it. As she took it over to Sherdan’s room she shivered and almost turned back.

It took her over ten minutes to move from his bedroom doorway and place the message on his pillow. Even then, she looked back several times on the way out.

Once Anya was back in her own room her pace picked up. The adrenaline of sneaking out of his house and country helped her with the task. She grabbed her suitcase and walked as calmly downstairs as she could.

Her plan was to leave via the car tunnel in the garage. She had seen Nathan use it and thought she could remember what to do, although she would have to walk back rather than drive.

When she got to the garage door Julie stood waiting for her.

“You can’t leave Anya. You can’t.” She blocked the door with her body and when Anya moved she went to grab hold of her.

“I have to. Please don’t make this harder than it is. I have to go.” She felt tears welling up in her eyes again.

“If it upsets you then why?”

“It is very difficult to explain but one day hopefully I will be able to come back. I do have to go now though.” Julie frowned and still did not move. Anya waited, not knowing what else to say.

Julie bear-hugged her and then got out of her way. She gave Julie’s hand a squeeze and the two women smiled at each other.

“Thank you for understanding.”

She left before any more could happen to tempt her to stay. The button to get down into the secret tunnel was easy to find and Anya soon walked along the dimly lit passage. Her little suitcase made a gentle rumbling noise as she dragged it along behind her.

At first, the dark put her on edge and distracted her from her feelings as she trudged the long mile to the house at the other end but it didn’t last. A journey that normally only took a few minutes felt like a lifetime, with each step heaping more pain onto her.

When she reached the other end she paused. She hadn’t thought about any more of her journey than getting back onto British soil. Anya was trapped in a locked garage. Normal doors garage doors opened from the inside but for some reason this one didn’t.

She rattled the main door, furious, before scanning the whole room for another way out. There was no other door.

Other than going back the way she had come there was only one thing left she could do. She concentrated on the familiar feeling that turned on her ability.

Feeling free, she ran out into the late afternoon leaving all the clothes she had brought with her, and worn, behind.

With roughly an hour to get back before her ability faded, she jogged down the street, hoping there were clothes still in her flat. There did not seem to be any easy parts to leaving Sherdan.

As she ran down the street towards a bus stop she also realised she had no money on her. Even if she had got out of the garage she would have had to abandon her suitcase anyway. With no money she would have had to use her ability to get transport home.

Anya frowned as she stood alone at the bus shelter. There wouldn’t be any way to get the bus to stop and pick her up without someone else with her. She had no choice but to start jogging along the bus route to try and get to the train station before she reappeared.

All the difficulties getting home almost made her turn around and walk back to Sherdan instead, but as the dark of evening began to fall she knew she could not. There was no going back now.

Her stomach churned as she spent the next ten minutes slowly running through the estate. She did not know where she was and had to try and follow the bus stops on the route to know she was even going in the right direction. Several times she had to retrace her steps to find where the bus route went. There wasn’t any way she would get home now without needing to spend some time, somewhere, visible.

Eventually she found someone waiting at a bus stop so she joined them, trying really hard not to breath too loudly and be heard; something not that easy after jogging for so long.

When the bus came along, she hesitated before getting on. She shivered at the thought of going visible in the middle of the packed bus. There was no better option, however, so she climbed on. She stood near the front, holding on to a nearby rail so she wasn’t likely to get bumped into. Trying to use her power to its full extent so people could pass through her would make her even more likely to stretch herself to her limit and reappear.

Thankfully the journey was short. She had been much closer to the train station than she had realised. As soon as the bus stopped she ran off and into the building. Her ride had been so tense that her muscles cramped up in response but she carried on running anyway.
She sighed with relief once she was locked in a toilet cubicle at the station. This was the hardest journey of her life. She never thought anything could have been harder than the train journey to Bristol so many weeks earlier but she had been so wrong. So much had changed in such a small amount of time.

Being there had its downsides too. In the middle of the winter in a train station was not the warmest of places and at least there had been a heater on the bus. She soon stood there shivering but she did not dare leave yet.

Tears fell from her eyes as everything she was doing hit her in a fresh wave. By now the letter would probably have been found. She hoped Sherdan would come to forgive her, but she didn’t know if she would ever forgive herself.

She stifled her tears when she heard the scrape of the toilet door. There weren’t many cubicles and she didn’t want anyone to notice she had been in there for so long. She would have to move and hope she could get home now.

Thankfully, trains between Bristol and Bath were frequent and she soon hopped onto one and tried to stand out of the way. She managed to find a heater in one of the train toilets so she tucked herself away in there for the fifteen minute journey back to her own city.

There were a few strange looks when she came out of the loo and the passengers only saw an empty toilet cubicle that had said ‘engaged’ the entire time. She hoped they would assume it was some kind of malfunction, but it was too late to do anything about it if they did suspect anything.

Her flat was only a few minutes walk from the train station and she prayed her key would be right where she had left it. Although she could just walk through the door she didn’t then want to be locked in the flat with no way out.

The flat itself would have been watched over by one of her friends. She had often wondered what they thought when most of her clothes had disappeared.

She walked up to the house and, behind the olive tree pot to the left of the door, she pulled a loose brick out of the wall. Behind it was her front door key, exactly where she had left it.

Anya didn’t feel at peace until she had been into every room and checked everything else was still where it had always been. The majority of her clothes were gone, as she had expected, but she found some old worn clothes to wear for a little while until she could buy more.

She sank onto the edge of her bed, realising her journey had finished. She was home and safe. Her Bible was tucked under her pillow as the new one had been at Sherdan’s house. She sighed as she stroked its leather cover.

When she had set out she had known the price of her task might be high. Had she known exactly what would have happened she was not sure she would have had the strength to see it all through. As usual, God knew best.

Before she forgot, she flicked open her laptop and pulled up her email account. There were hundreds of unread messages but she ignored them all. They could all wait for another day. She sent a brief, but to-the-point, email to her church leadership team.

I’m back. There’s lots to tell. Give me a day or so. Anya.

She shut the lid on the laptop again and put it out of the way. There really was a lot to tell and, as she thought over it all, she sank into the corner of her bedroom. Unashamed tears poured from her eyes and with them the vast, painful emotions she had been suppressing for the last six weeks. God had a lot of healing to do and that journey was still ahead of her.

Sherdan’s Prophecy: Chapter 37

Lifting up his hand, Sherdan stroked the hair off Anya’s face. She’d not been asleep long but he was relieved she was. He pondered over the day’s events as he gazed at her peaceful face.

She’d saved his life, using her ability. He couldn’t help but wonder if it did have something to do with God. It didn’t completely match up with Hitchin’s vision but everything she had said now appeared true. She had been told to stay and, in staying, she had saved him.

He didn’t know about the rest of her beliefs but he definitely believed in some kind of higher power. There was no way he could deny it any longer.

He fought to stay awake and enjoy the nice gentleness of being right beside the woman he loved. She filled his heart and made him feel alive in a way he had never felt before. Life was more complete with her by his side.

“Sir, are you awake?” a radio called from the floor. It still lay where Anya had dropped it earlier. She stirred as he got up off the bed and picked the interrupting item up.

“Yes, Nathan, what is wrong?” he replied as he tiptoed out of the room.

“Two more English commandos have been found.”

“Where?”

“Near the compound. I don’t think they had done anything.”

“Thank you Nathan. Get the guards to do another sweep.”

“They already have.”

“Do another,” Sherdan growled.

“Yes, sir.”

“And, Nathan, make sure nothing like this happens again.”

Sherdan went back to Anya and resumed his position right next to her, feeling wide awake again. She had protected him and now he would make sure he was there to protect her.

He wished he had gone to her the second he had suspected any kind of trouble and whisked her off to safety. It had been his unwillingness to move that had stopped him going to her as soon as the first sign of danger had appeared and it had put her in danger. He hadn’t been frightened for himself. Hitchin’s prophecy assured him of his own safety, but the thought of losing Anya now, when she had just given him such a reason to hope, terrified him.

He kissed her forehead and closed his eyes to sleep. Both of his arms were wrapped around her, keeping her close. Sleep passed over him, relieving his mind from all his thoughts and worries.

They stayed like that, entwined, the rest of the night, undisturbed and completely at peace. They didn’t notice when Sherdan’s alarm went off at its usual time across the hallway and neither woke when the radio called for Sherdan just after nine.

He opened his eyes naturally a little over an hour later. His attention fixed straight on Anya. She still slept right where she had been when he had drifted off. He smiled and kissed her on every part of her face, calling her name in between.

“We’ve overslept darling. I need to go to work,” he whispered. She kissed him full on his lips with more passion than he had expected.

“Thank you for not leaving me.”

“I couldn’t have left, even if you had wanted me to, but I have to now. You can come to the compound with me if you want?”

“No. I will stay here. You’ll be home for dinner?”

“I will try to be.” He rubbed noses with her before kissing her one last time and getting up.

He really didn’t want to go but he knew he had to. He would be able to come back to her at least and, the following day, she would be on his arm to introduce to all the citizens. The smile on his face grew as he thought of how he could present their future queen to them.

“What has made you grin so?” Anya asked.

“Just thinking of you… and having you as my wife.”

“Steady on. We have only just started kissing.”

“I know what you Christian women are like. Not much time between kissing and wedding,” he teased her and laughed.

“We’ll see.” He leant over the bed when she showed no signs of getting up while he remained.

“I love you. I want to give you everything in my power to make you happy.” She reached up to stroke the side of his face but she didn’t look happy to him.

“One day I shall be happy again. Until then, I shall take life one day at a time and I won’t give up hope, but thank you for trying.”

“I will do more than try; I shall succeed…” She smiled at him but her words had been like an arrow through his heart. The pain of the things he had done to her flickered in her eyes, despite the attempt at a smile, “I mean it. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He kissed her again and left the room. She may have let him into her heart but there was further to go and there were many wounds along the way. Wounds he had inflicted. He hoped she would allow him the time to heal them.

Sherdan walked into the guard room to the instant silence of his two security guards.

“I’m going to walk to the compound this morning,” Sherdan said and walked out, too involved in his thoughts of Anya to want to know why they had reacted to him appearing.

The day was crisp and fresh, and hinted at the possibility of more snow. He hardly noticed, distracted by the image of Anya’s haunted face and the deep sorrow in his heart.

He longed to undo what he had done and the possibility that he might not be able to stabbed at his insides again. It baffled him that she could even say she loved him, but he felt grateful for at least that small flicker of hope.

As he walked, he resolved on finding her the best psychologist in the world to help her through everything. She would be happy again if he could manage it and he would use every resource that he could draw on.

Sherdan marched into the compound thinking of the best way to get Anya well again and noticed nothing else until he almost bumped into Graham in Sherdan’s own easy room. His commander had never come into the room uninvited before.

“Sir, there’s bad news,” Graham fidgeted and looked away.

“Bad news?”

“Yes, sir. It’s those commandos last night. You weren’t the only target.”

“Who? Are they all right?” Sherdan replied much faster than normal.

“Hitchin’s dead, sir.” Sherdan sank into his chair.

“Hitchin?”

“Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir.”

“Leave me,” he replied, barely above a whisper. Hitchin was the only person he had called friend. How had the British army even known to go after him?

For just a few minutes Sherdan had let his guard down and it had cost him Hitchin and almost Anya. He would need her at his side now, even more than he had thought before.

Tears fell from Sherdan’s eyes as he sat and thought of his friend and co-worker. They had made so many memories and plans for the future together. Some of these memories popped into his head now.

He thought of the first day they had met when they were both eleven and at a new school. They had all the same classes and continued to study together all the way through to PHD level many years later.

Sherdan only allowed himself half an hour to stay in this emotional state. He had work to do and the four commandos needed questioning. He soon strode into the command room with the same facial expression he had worn on many occasions.

If they had not known Hitchin was dead, they would not have figured out Sherdan had just lost his best friend from both his demeanour and how he went about his work.

“Where are last night’s infiltrators being held?” he demanded to know.

“They’re here in the compound. All four of them,” Graham replied as the rest of the room looked busy.

“Good. Have them interrogated. Find out who sent them and what information they know.”

The commander nodded and passed on the orders to the relevant people.

“Does anyone outside of this room know of Hitchin’s death?”

“Yes, the woman who found him and your two day guards.”

“Fine. Make sure no one else finds out. Have the guards who know keep it secret and let me meet with the woman. I already have an idea of who she will be.

“As you wish, sir,” Graham replied, “What should we tell the people? They’ll wonder where he is.”

“Tell them he is ill if they ask, for now at least.” The commander nodded as Sherdan left the room again. He sat in his private quarters, thinking over what to say to this woman. He wanted the British government to think they had failed in their tasks.

He put his head in his hands as his thoughts turned to what almost happened. The country he had created was so delicate still. He would need to protect it from the shock waves of Hitchin’s murder and was relieved that Anya had been there for him. His personal angel.

His thoughts settled on the warmth of her again. He could hardly help it after the events of the last twenty four hours. Her affections, and the good memories of their time together, was a salve to the ache deep within him.

A knock on the door made him jump and look back up.

“Come in,” he called as soon as he had composed both his face and manner again. A tall brunette walked into the room. There were a few trace marks of mascara and puffiness around her eyes but fresh make up had been applied on top. She had her hands hidden in the pockets of a white lab-coat which covered her standard clothes.

Sherdan had to stop the corners of his lips twitching up as he looked at her. She was every bit what he had expected, knowing Hitchin.

“Miss Miller, please sit down.” Sherdan motioned to the seat opposite himself. “I would appreciate talking to you about my friend. I know that it’s not easy for you to talk about this but I need to know.”

She nodded in response as he reached for a nearby tissue box and put it much closer to her.

“Where did you find Hitchin?”

“Near one of the labs… He had been working late because of some extra tests he said he needed to do.” She looked away trying to stop the moisture dampening the edges of her eyes. She still didn’t reach for a tissue. “They shot him Dr Harper. They came for you, but shot him.”

“I am sorry to add to your upset Miss Miller, but unfortunately we have reason to suspect they were looking for Hitchin as well as me. That is one of the reasons I am talking to you now.”

“They came for both of you?”

“Yes, they did. When I realised the enormity of what Hitchin and I were planning, I did everything I could to help Hitchin distance himself from me and the public eye, but right at the beginning there were several people who knew both Hitchin and I worked together.”

She finally reached for a tissue as the tears that had threatened to appear flowed over and tracked down her cheeks. Sherdan paused, less out of concern for her and more because of the lump in his own throat.

“Did the soldiers see you Miss Miller?” she shook her head, “Good, we would hate for them to know there were any other scientists working with Hitchin. You were important to him. He was only telling me that yesterday.”

“He was?”

“Yes, he stood in this room and spoke about you. You had put quite the spring in his step.”

Sherdan smiled as her eyes brightened a little. He had lied, but it would do her no harm to think Hitchin cared for her more than he did.

“It is very important how we proceed from here, however. Our country is very fragile and this could both knock the confidence of our fellow citizens, as well as give the British government cause to increase their efforts against us. We don’t want either of those things to happen.”

She nodded and pursed her lips together. Sherdan hesitated before going on. He hoped Hitchin would forgive him for what he was doing.

“Could you keep it amongst us, how Hitchin died, at least for a month or so until our country is more stable?”

Her eyes went wide. She opened her mouth to respond but no words came out, leaving her with a fixed frown.

“I know it is a lot to ask. I wish to mourn him as well. He was my best friend, but we have to put this country first. It wouldn’t honour him to let his death tear down everything he worked to build.”

“What do you suggest instead?”

“I think, for the next few days, we should tell people that he is sick. It will give us time to plan the rest,” She nodded and he had to stop himself sighing aloud with relief, “If you do need to talk about what really happened, just let my security guard, Julie, know. She will then inform me, or you could even talk to her if you would prefer.”

“Thank you, Dr Harper.”

“Please, call me Sherdan. Now, is there anything you would like to add while you have me here?”

“No thank you… Sherdan. I’ll get back to my work. Someone needs to continue Hitchin’s research and I think I am the most qualified to do so, other than yourself of course.” She got up and shook hands with him, before leaving him alone with his thoughts again.

Sherdan sat back and breathed out. The conversation with Miss Miller had only added to the weight of his emotions. She had taken things well but he wished it had been different.

The rest of the day was a blur for him as he rushed through all his tasks. He hardly looked forward to the ball the following evening any more. Although, knowing Anya would be at his side brought him some comfort.

As a way of getting back at the British government, he phoned them again that afternoon. He was given another excuse for not getting to speak with anyone of any importance, but he didn’t care. The main point was letting them know that he was still alive.

Sherdan also did a short radio interview to ensure the rest of the world had him fresh in their memories as well. Work helped him to forget the latest tragedy.

Not long before he was due to return to Anya, he received a return phone call from the Prime Minister.

“Dr Harper, I believe you called to speak to me?” the minister said.

“Yes, I wanted to let you know I was still alive.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realise that was something I would be particularly interested in knowing.”

“Really? Those four men you sent to try and kill me would say otherwise.”

“I don’t know what…”

“Cut the crap,” Sherdan interjected, “You sent them to try and kill me. They have failed and I am more than happy to inform the public. The bodies of the four soldiers would be excellent proof.”

“What do you want?”

“A ceasefire and an official statement from you saying we are entering negotiations.”

“It doesn’t mean we will reach an agreement,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

“”No, but I would like the opportunity,” Sherdan did the best he could to sound sincere.

“Very well.”

“If there is no announcement at some point before, I will let the six o’clock news know about last night’s attempt on my life.”

“Understood.” The phone clicked in Sherdan’s ear. He smiled, very pleased with how the conversation had gone. With the UK capitulating, and the resulting ceasefire, the country had achieved its first goal. They were finally established as a country.

Just to make sure, Sherdan stayed in the compound until the news came in that the British were backing down. Shortly before five, Graham pulled a feed from the twenty-four hour news channel up onto the screens at the end of the room.

A podium had been placed outside in Downing Street and many reporters were waiting for the announcement everyone expected. Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait long before the front door of number ten opened and the PM came out. He put a sheet of paper on the podium and looked out at the crows before him.

“I am pleased to announce that, after a recent contact from Dr Harper, a ceasefire has been agreed upon. Negotiations with Utopia and its representatives will begin shortly. I plan to do everything I can to ensure, not only the safe return of our soldiers, but also the return of the homes and land stolen in that countries attempts at freedom. Thank you for all your patience in this matter.”

Sherdan laughed as the Minister went back into his house. He had made it sound as if Sherdan had come running to him but it didn’t matter. He would look like the foolish one soon enough. Sherdan would let him save face where he could.

In response, he did a country wide announcement, informing the Utopians that all the attacks were now over. He smiled as he thought of how happy the party would be. They had achieved their goal.

He could hardly wait to get back to Anya and tell her all the good news, although he thought she was likely to have watched the news channel. Unfortunately, there were still several loose ends he had to tie up before he could leave.

Graham gave him a report from the interrogation team as Sherdan was about to exit the command room again. So far they had found out very little.

The soldiers had been ordered to avoid getting caught at all costs and were all definitely sent by the British government.

“Step up to the next level,” he ordered and left the room. He was about to go through the mirror and get back to his girl when he heard a familiar tap on the door. Miss Miller came in without waiting. She had a bundle of papers as well as the leather bound journal he had seen Hitchin fetch to show him his visions of Anya.

“Dr Harper, I mean Sherdan. I found these. They both seem to be Hitchin’s diary. I’m not sure why he kept two but there is a lot in them about you, our country and a woman called Anya,” she said. Her gaze dropped down as she mentioned the last part. He smiled at the misunderstood rivalry.

“I have no idea why Hitchin would keep two separate diaries either but Anya is… Well, I am hoping she will be my wife shortly. She isn’t a Utopian citizen yet. Hitchin was the only person I had told of her.” Miss Miller sighed and smiled.

“That would explain a few things. I didn’t read that much. As soon as I realised it was his diary I stopped. Here.” She handed him everything she had brought with her.

“Thank you.”

They shook hands again and she hurried off. He felt tempted to sit and read the documents before going home, but tucked them under his arm and opened his mirror entrance instead. The emotions of the day had worn him down and he wanted to be back in the company of his sweetheart.

He went through the underground tunnel as fast as he could manage. The recent events would be easier to process with a glass of brandy and a pretty face to look at.

Sherdan walked into his study expecting to see Anya, but she wasn’t there. Antonio meowed at him indignantly from the sofa as he checked in the sitting room.

“Anya!” he yelled as he started running up the stairs. He heard no reply. Panic rose in him as he continued the ascent to the top floor. He hardly knocked on her door as he walked into her room, calling for her again. She wasn’t there.

He checked every room of the house before seeing Anne.

“I’ve not seen her since lunch,” Anne told him. She helped him check every room again.

As he walked into his own room for a second time he noticed the envelope on his pillow. He snatched it up.

His name was written on the outside in Anya’s handwriting. He didn’t need to read the letter to know what it meant and neither did Anne, who left the room, taking the cat and shutting the door behind her.

He sat down on the edge of the bed, unable to do anything but stare at the paper in his hands. Eventually his fingers managed to pull the flap of the envelope open and retrieve the letter from inside. His breath caught as he saw the back of the piece of paper and the last few words she had written on it.

Within moments he was sobbing so hard he couldn’t even see, let alone read. He put the paper down. He’d not cried like this since he had been a small child, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop the tears flowing. He had lost everything.

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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.

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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.

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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.