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(A Dreamrunners Society Novel)
Written by Aileen Harkwood
Sometimes danger comes in a dream...
Jack Mayfield will never forgive himself for being too late to free Lara from the Greys, The Dreamrunners Society's sworn enemies. An elite front line operative, Jack is able to find and save the Lost Ones no one else can. Nothing, however, can prepare him for the shock of losing the woman who holds the key to unlocking his war weary heart. Now Jack is in a race for her life. Lara's dreaming half may be able to drive him wild with passion, but can he believe her when she says the Greys haven't turned her against him and the Society?
It won't be easy to rescue his one true love from certain death.
Lara picked her way over the hundreds of bodies that scattered the ground, smoke and a noxious chemical that burned her eyes still rising into the night air. Only a few of the bodies were complete, with arms, legs, a head. Most were pieces, many no longer recognizable as human.
A wave of dizziness rocked her on her feet.
Not again. Not another of these.
When would the dreams stop?
She knew she dreamed, but understood it didn’t make what she saw or experienced any less real.
She reached out for the trunk of a nearby tree to steady herself. It stood strong, miraculously unharmed by the multiple blasts that had shaken this place, its leaves shivering in the winds born from fires consuming the ruins of one, two, she counted as she scanned the scene, five buildings total.
Her palm met something warm and wet covering the tree’s bark. Instinctively, she jerked her hand away. What covered her skin wasn’t blood, not entirely. Other stuff was mixed in. Tissue.
She doubled over and her body tried to wretch, but apparently it wasn’t possible to vomit in a dream or, at least, not this one.
Why was she here? Why did she dream of violent acts like this? Suicide bombings. Protestors who set themselves on fire. Drug dealers who beheaded dozens in a single night. What purpose did it serve to expose her to it? She was never able to stop the violence. Instead, her dreams forced her to play the role of mere witness to it, sometimes several nights in a row without relief.
If she was capable of waking now—which she knew for certain wasn’t possible until the nightmare decided to release her—she could flip open her laptop, go online to CNN, Yahoo! or CBS, and if the BREAKING NEWS headline wasn’t there already in bold, red letters, it was only a matter of hours before it appeared.
She knelt down to wipe her hand on the grass, realizing she stood on a manicured lawn. The gore would not come off. Instead, she turned her hand over and watched as the blood and tissue sank into her palm, cringing at what she knew would come next.
Dark, paralyzing agony dropped over her, enveloping her like a lead radiologist’s blanket, crushing her under its emotional weight as easily as would have the wall of the burning building that toppled in front of her at that very moment.
Lara hurt with it. She rocked under its assault. She wanted to go home.
She heard a moan, recognized it came from her throat, and suddenly wondered at the eerie silence around her. No cries. No shouts for help.
Had no one, not a single person here, survived?
Fighting her way back to a standing position, she turned around in a circle, studying her surroundings. A sliver of moon gave less light to the scene than the flames billowing and gutting the ruins, but she knew immediately she wasn’t in one of the places to which she was normally transported. Gently rolling hills covered in verdant deciduous trees stretched to the horizon, so this wasn’t the Middle East. The deserts of northern Mexico had to be eliminated for the same reason. She saw nothing exotic nearby to suggest Africa, India, or Southeast Asia. The bodies were mostly Caucasian, though she glimpsed someone with black skin and another two with brown or olive skin several yards away.
Something recognizable about the layout of the buildings tugged at her. The fresher smells that eventually wafted in from a nearby stream were familiar. She’d swear the tree beside her was a striped maple. The place resembled a college campus that could be just hours away from where she lived in Maryland. With shock, it dawned on her.
This was home.
Something grabbed her ankle.
She screamed and jumped, frantically pulling away while at the same time looking down to see what had hold of her.