cnwood

November 3, 2011

Beneath the Surface – Prologue Part 3

“I’m not leaving,” Debra stated stubbornly, using the form of telepathic speech they had always used when visiting the dream world; the name she had chosen as a child for Kalon’s beautiful, lush world.

An earthlike place filled with smooth green meadows and giant shade trees. A place of sunshine and calm lakes and colorful flowers. Here the mind and body was whole and healthy, with nothing more to worry about than an overactive imagination. For in the dream world thoughts and wishes could become as solid as in reality.

No rules, no pain, no fear.

Over the years Kalon and Debra had built and discarded tree forts, cave dwellings, a sod hut ― practice for one day attempting an igloo ― and just the year before, a log cabin with a covered veranda all the way around.

But more often than not, they simply played by the lake or slept cuddled in the oversized hammock stretched tautly between two massive willows. The wide, generous space beneath dripping fringes of fragrant green branches was scattered with rich carpets. As much a home as any solid structure she had ever known.

The tea table was always set in readiness with pots of hot chocolate and freshly squeezed orange juice. Platters of iced cakes and giant chocolate chip cookies bursting with nuts were crowded next to painted ceramic bowls of favorite fruits and truffle chocolates. And no matter how many spills or crumbs missed the china plates, the tablecloth and hemmed napkins remained white and crisply starched.

There were no people or animals except for those they wished into existence. Toys that grew out of favor simply disappeared, to be replaced by something that indulged a mood or satisfied a need. As they grew older the challenges became bigger and harder, their curious, competitive natures becoming more expressive and daring.

Although lately, more irritably changeable yet warily flirtatious.

Little wonder Debra had always cried when the time came to return to the reality she had been born to. It was the only disagreement that still ached like an open wound between them. Never to heal until he finally agreed to let her stay. Never to leave them in peace until she finally understood just how much was at stake.

“You can’t make me go back,” she said sternly, ignoring his attempts to distract her with magically appearing birds and flowers. He had become too beautiful for her own good, Debra thought privately. Just looking at his leanly muscled body, golden and naked from the waist up, made her fingers tingle with the need to reach out and touch him. Not to mention how her stomach seemed to roll over every time he brushed up against her or stared at her whenever he thought she wasn’t looking.

Kalon ignored the short length of her sundress, the way her ripe, full breasts pressed against the low-cut neckline, and wondered for the umpteenth time what right he had to once again convince her to go back and endure. No one in their right mind would want to go back to that self-destructive hellhole. Yet this decision concerned more than just himself and Debra.

If she didn’t return, the family had no future.

If she died . . .

“No, my love,” His uniquely vibrant resonance filled her mind with soothing sounds and images. “I’d never force you to do anything. I can only remind you, once again, that without you, alive and well in your reality, there will be no me, no us . . . anywhere.”

Blushing, Debra eyed him questioningly. “My love?” she repeated slowly. You’ve never called me that before. I’ve always been Hally to you.” Her hand absently stretched out, letting one of his magical birds settle comfortably on her palm before it disappeared.

Her thoughts filled with the pleasing sound of his deep-throated laughter. “A spin on your last name. But how you hated it when we were babies.” The warm smile fell away from his face, the pad of his thumb tenderly rubbing across her full lower lip.

His beautiful, solitary Debra. Kalon knew her to be taller than teenagers her own age. Next to her, most were clumsy, empty-headed. Just one more distinction that set her apart from her peers. Even now, at sixteen, she was stunningly tall, athletically slender and well toned, and stronger than any female he knew.

A warrior woman, Kalon thought, his pride deep and satisfying.

A gifted psyche, whose emerging abilities could someday surpass even his own ascendancy.

A best friend, destined to be his lover and wife from the moment of birth.

“But we’re not babies anymore, Debra.” He spoke softly over the syllables of her proper name, pulling her protectively into his arms. Need and hunger swelled inside him, as always, whenever she was near. He held onto her anxiously, eyes tightly closed to escape the anguish of her earlier agony. “And I almost lost you today.”

A part of each other’s minds and souls since she was barely eighteen months old, Kalon had uneasily bided his time until the cycle could be completed by First Rites.

Three years difference in age had him waiting patiently since his sixteenth birthday to awaken Debra to the pleasures and commitment between a man and woman. That day, for some reason, her innocent kiss had warmed his lips and produced a profound effect on his body. Not to mention his mind and trying to hide lusting thoughts from a child who could read him inside and out.

There had been nothing innocent or childlike about Debra’s thirteen-year-old body.

He should have been up for sainthood the countless times he’d gritted his teeth while she swam naked in the lake; her skin glowing like satin, his hands fisting with the need to touch. The aching frustration of keeping his distance as she sunbathed on the waterfront rocks in thong bikini bottoms and peek-a-boo string top.

Kalon groaned inwardly thinking of those little red shorts and skimpy shell top she habitually wore for their regular sparring matches, all that tight, soft flesh brushing and rubbing and pressing against his own until he was ready to explode.

How was a guy supposed to concentrate? To keep his hands off her and maintain control? Especially when she didn’t realize what she was doing to him.

Now, as he held her, he felt a difference in the way she cuddled into him, slowly, purposefully, rubbing her belly and mound against his erection. Breasts that made his mouth ache for a taste pressed snugly into his chest, while curved, swaying hips filled his hands. A dance of love and lust, he mused, his fragmented thoughts unsure where one left off and the other began.

Caressing palms roamed freely in slow, soothing circles over her slender back and rounded buttocks, coming to rest gently alongside thinly covered breasts. For once Kalon was glad not to see her binding white sports bra beneath the pretty, sleeveless sundress.

He wondered if she could hear the pounding of his heart. Feel the heat of need radiating from his body.

Leaning back slightly, he raised her flushed face with a fingertip beneath a downy soft chin. “Do you want me, Debra? Tell me you want me.” And prayed the answer was yes.

Looking up into intense black eyes, the pit of her stomach slowly rolled over again and plunged to bare toes. Debra shuddered with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. “I want, Kalon. I’m just not sure what to do.”

Self-conscious, Debra blushed, annoyed by her ignorance and that little masculine gleam of I’ll-teach-you shining in his dark eyes. What she knew about the actual sex act could fit on the tip of one of his well-shaped fingers. But she gorged on the ravenous inferno in his mind, his fighting to go slow, determined to explore every inch of her when all he really wanted was to take and give in a heated rush until they were both used up, unconscious.

A flash of raw hunger flourished in her mind, shooting pleasurable jolts down between her legs. Caught up in images of their entwined bodies, Debra had no fear that he would be anything but tender and careful with her first time. His generosity, his love had never been in question. What shocked her now was how that same fire of need burned out of control within her.

Only Kalon had her love, unconditionally. Who cleansed away the bitterness of reality and kept her sane.

The only one she trusted completely.

Sensing her thoughts, Kalon gently brushed his mouth over parted lips. “I swear to you on my love, by all that we share, Dorothy will never hurt you again.” Then sealed his promise with a breathtaking kiss that had Debra dissolving inside, warm and wet and needing all of him to fill up the emptiness.

Hearts pounding, a joyous longing mingling and merging from one consciousness to another, they fed on the scent and taste of each other as each piece of clothing came free. Air hissed sharply through clenched teeth. Moans of pleasure quickly following. Fingers laced together, clinging tightly. Lips and tongues dueled passionately in a frenzy of greed, pushing desires beyond awareness, beyond the physical, beyond the boundaries of the heart.

Knees buckled sending them sprawling amongst the wildflowers and sweetly scented grass. Innocence and youth were forgotten as needful bodies pressed and arched in an age-old rhythm of life. Until there was nothing left but shallow breathing and sweat-soaked skin.

Pressed deep inside her still, Kalon roused himself up on bare elbows and magically draped a thin gold chain about her neck. His hand opened revealing a slender crystal pendant, delicately set in gold filigree, no longer than her baby finger. “I offer the talisman, freely, and with all my love, as a symbol of my commitment to you,” he whispered, kissing her gently, his fingers stroking soft, moist cheeks. “I love you, Debra. Tell me you accept this token in the same way.”

Barely giving her time to answer, she murmured between desperate kisses.  “Oh, Kalon. How could you doubt that I would.” She bit his lower lip playfully, the crystal pendant clutched to her heart. “I accept your beautiful gift freely, and with all my love.”

It was done.

First Rites had been claimed and now taken. For the family, the laws of First Rites were simple and clear. Once joined, the Heart of the Talisman was offered and accepted. Bonding was for life. Now the journey to the Heart could begin.

* * *

The distant sound was persistent, annoying. A regular chirping beep that pulled Debra from soothing oblivion into a small, gloomy room with white walls and ceiling, white bedding and starched drapes. Although muffled, she could hear the afternoon rain splattering softly against the clean window glass. Could hear traffic moving slowly on the busy roadway outside her room.

She knew it was early afternoon by her internal sensing. A skill she took for granted because the ability had always been there, always right. Something to do with the way her mind absorbed and processed and never forgot anything that happened around her, awake or asleep.

Automatically, Debra erected mental barriers that tuned out the female voices at the nurse’s station down the hall, across from the elevators. Shut out the nearby beeping life support machines monitoring feeble breaths and medicated pain levels.

The clinic, Debra sighed, breathing as best she could with three fractured ribs.

Her home away from the dream world.

She was back in reality, having let Kalon talk her into another promise to try again. But only because of his guarantee there would be no more Dorothy.

Instinct warned her not to move. The damage was extensive this time. Healing would take at least several weeks, possibly a month with all the internal injuries. The drain on her system would require several more weeks after that to recover from the self-healing process.

Not that she was complaining about her abilities. Her unique skills would have her body healed better than new; without scar tissue, muscle damage, or loss of strength. In control once again, Debra was ready to begin her own form of treatment . . . just as soon as the manmade drugs had dissipated from her system.

All she could do now was wait.

Dark eyes peered between puffy folds of flesh, trying unsuccessfully to focus on the mounted monitor beside the narrow bed. Splashes of color pulsed with each chirping beep, the numbers meaning nothing to her even if she could see them.

Packed in ice and wraps and splint boards, the only thing that moved freely were the disgusting tears distorting her vision, trailing down bandaged cheeks. At best she would see little more than light and shadows for a while.

Slowly, Debra splayed fingers from her unbound right hand over the simple white blanket. Immediately the sight revealed what crippled physical senses could not.

A piteous, choked whimper filtered softly through wired jaws.

Lying flat on the bed, the top slightly raised, her bandaged face and head cradled by soft pillows, Debra sucked a painful breath down her parched throat. Before her mind’s eye lay an unrecognizable lump of bruises and bandages. Bags of IV fluid and drugs dripped steadily through a needle taped to the back of her splayed hand. Heavy white plaster covered her left arm from scraped knuckles to just below the shoulder. A bulky white brace kept her neck and head immobile.

She sensed the pain lurking beneath the sedatives. Realized the medication had been ordered until she was stronger. Until she was able to suppress and self-heal at the same time.

Another prolonged sigh filled the lonely little room.

Resigned to a lengthy hospital stay, Debra relaxed, letting her mind float down through layers of consciousness, and found Kalon waiting to take her home.

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