Taken (Breaking the Darkness) (4 page)

Now was as good a time as any to try and retrace what I could remember from before I woke up here. Still, it was hard to judge how much time had passed, not that it really had any bearing on what I was doing before being abducted. I think the fact that I had black spots in my memory was more unnerving than the fact that I was abducted and I still didn’t know why.

Clearly, I remembered signing the lease for my little Southwest cottage. I started to move some of my things in from the storage unit. The walls were waiting for paint. I recently went to The Flea and not only picked up a bunch of little odds and ends, but I bought that amazing bookshelf from Axel and Patience.

The bookshelf hadn’t been delivered yet. I’m not sure I even set it up to be delivered. I did remember having the intention of going to my storage unit to dig up some of the boxes of Gram’s old books in anticipation of its arrival. Come to think of it, I was getting ready to head out to the unit but decided to walk down for a stiff cup of coffee and a sweet snack first. This seemed to be where things got a bit hazy. I hoped a few deep breaths and a gentle eye close might help me get back to that day. Recalling the images of my surroundings could help jog the memory.

It was just before dusk. This I remembered because I wanted to try to get over to the unit before the sun finished its descent behind the mountains. My heart was filled with both excitement and sadness. I knew it would be bittersweet walking into the unit filled with a bouquet of Gram mixed with the smell of musty cardboard.

Touching things that once belong to her would be pretty heavy. That’s why I was so excited to honor her love of books and reading with the new bookshelf.

Coffee always made me feel better. If I was down, it brought me up; if I was too wound up, it seemed to relax me. I decided to head down to the great little café just a short walk or bike ride from my new home. They made their own blend of both coffees and teas. Although I enjoyed their tea, and tea always reminded me of Gram, I needed my coffee for this emotionally charged trip.

I headed out on foot, sure the walk and fresh air would help calm my soul. I started toward the main road down my street of broken concrete and dirt. After passing by a few shops, I approached the yellow stucco building.

I loved how I had to walk through a little old wooden fence to get to the front walkway. They had a landscape out front of benches, boulders, and boxes filled with flowers, herbs, and a few veggies. After I passed through, I could hear the rickety gate slam behind me. They tried to take advantage of all the space they had. They didn’t serve much food, but to know probably at least one of the ingredients was picked right outside seemed to make the food taste even fresher. I just loved the café's aroma of fresh-brewed coffee and tea mixed with the sweetness of pastry and a hint of fresh pesto.

After grabbing my coffee and a honey blueberry scone, I debated on staying and relaxing out on a bench or heading back to hop into my old retro Jeep Cherokee. The sweet musky scent of man stopped me almost dead in my tracks. Although I barely caught a glimpse of him out of my peripheral, his voice danced the tango in my ears. I wasn’t certain what he said or who he was talking to. I was too distracted by his very presence.

My body temperature spiked immediately, chills went up my spine and back down into my pants. The butterflies in my stomach started to take away my breath. I only caught a quick look at him but tried to take a mental picture. He had warm, light cocoa-colored skin. His hair was dark-blond and curly, pulled back into a short ponytail. The last thing I really remembered were his eyes. They were a greenish-grey but almost transparent, glistening as the sun bounced off of them right into my gut.

I remembered standing there mesmerized by the thought of him and how delicious his face might have been if I saw it in its entirety. My body craved more of him, his smell, and, most of all, that sexy voice that lassoed me in. I didn’t usually get like that over anyone, but the instant desire was uncontrollable.

Everything after that point seemed to be a blur. I had no recollection if I made it home or to the storage unit. Could it be this was where and when I was abducted? It did seem like the most logical option. Someone might have drugged my coffee, although I wasn’t sure I took a sip of it, yet another detail lost to me. I wondered if I would regain the memories that were absent. If I could remember how I went missing, maybe I would have a better understanding of why I was taken and who took me. Maybe they even told me and I just couldn’t remember.





I WAS STARTING to wonder if the only way out of the darkness was through my dreams and memories. The uncertainty of my situation was almost as daunting as the possibility of what was in store for me. There was obviously something strange going on, outside the most evident fact that I was trapped in some room, deprived of food and light for days, maybe weeks.

I gave myself a quick recap. I blacked out after leaving the coffee shop and didn’t know by what manner I was forced from my life. There didn’t seem to be a way out, but food found its way in. I might have touched my own arm while I was meditating. My dead grandmother’s ghost possibly visited me. To top it off, I felt like there was someone or something in the room with me even though no doors opened or closed. Oh yeah, and there was a “they” who might be watching me. Wow, if I had said any of this out loud, I would have sounded bat-shit crazy.

I decided to invest my never-ending time into meditating again to put all my thoughts, questions, and emotions aside. I just kept rehashing everything in my head over and over again. My thoughts were chaotic and jumbled, like someone took a book of facts, cut the pages out, and tossed them up in the air. My mind needed to rest.

Although a peaceful om would have been the most efficient means of meditating, my hunger drove my focus toward those blueberry scones. What can you do? I guess my mantra was going to be blueberry scones. Breathing in and out with as much concentration to clear my mind as I could muster, I found myself settling down.

My body became less aware of its physical state. My eyelids lightly hung over my field of vision and I could feel my eyes drifting to the back of my head. The tingling sensation on my scalp started again and traveled down my body straight through to my toes. My internal energy and sense of self lifted away from physical attachment, from the bed and my cage. With my thoughts still focused on that blueberry scone, I found myself standing at the wooden gates of my favorite café.

I must have drifted off to sleep.
If I’m sleeping, why am I thinking about sleeping?
Who cares?
I was just so glad to have my mind anywhere but that dungeonous room of darkness.

I just stood there for a minute and took the time to survey my surroundings. Just as I was about to reach out and open the gate to the front walkway, I noticed the planter boxes. They weren’t as I remembered them, now much more mature, flourishing with bushes of herbs and too many fruits and veggies to pick for one day. I guess my mind was making up for lost time.

As I turned to look at the street, I realized I was about to be run down by a young girl wearing a green-and-brown tie-dyed shirt and khaki cutoff cargo pants. I couldn’t believe how fast she approached. And then it happened; she blasted right through me. “This is a really strange dream,” I whispered to myself, not expecting an answer.

“Kasha, this isn’t a dream,” came a gentle familiar voice behind me. It nearly startled me awake.

When I turned, I was surprised to see her hovering behind me. At this point I looked down at my feet to find they, too, were not planted on the ground. “Patience… What are you doing here? Where? What? Why? Oh, God,” I whispered. “Don’t tell me you’re—am I—are we… dead? What’s happening?” She looked as beautiful as ever, except she somehow looked younger and her silhouette glowed with a shimmering transparency.

“Please, sweetheart, calm down. No, we aren’t dead. You’re having an out-of-body experience. You’re a projection of yourself. Well, some version of yourself.”

“I’m what? I’m sorry, this is way too out there. How are you— How am I— What did you say?” I pressed my fingers to the bridge of my nose. “Seeing my dead Gram was hard to believe, but you, here, now… It’s is just too much to process.”

“Honey, Mage came to see me too. Axel and I have been worried about you. When you didn’t call to have your bookshelf delivered—” But before she could continue, I interrupted her with my confusion and rush of excitement.

“Mage! Gram? How do you know her? How do you know it was her? How do you know Gram’s name?”

“Sweetheart, slow down. There’s so much you need to know, but right now we don’t have a lot of time. I’ll try to tell you as much as I can.”

She must have spoken with my Gram because she sounded just like her. It made me nuts when Gram talked around things, leaving me to read between the lines. This time, it made me feel safe and added to my trust of Patience.

“Let me first explain that I am a descendant of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. For over two hundred years those in my family have been story keepers. Of course, there were many families that kept history before mine.”

Everything she said was spinning in my head. The words were like speeding bullets. I couldn’t dodge a single one. I’m not even sure I heard everything she said.

I could tell she knew I wasn’t focusing on her words. I’m sure my bewilderment was plastered all over my contorted face.

“Kasha, dear, do you remember I told you I have some special books for you? That is what
do. I keep the tales, stories, and folklore of many families, many unique and special families. There are histories that don’t ever make it to the textbooks, but they make it into mine. There’s a fine line between reality and fantasy. I’m not even always sure where that line begins and ends.”

“Um, okay. Now, about my Gram, you said she came to you?” I was still having trouble sorting out the craziness she was dishing out.

“Mage came to me just before her passing. She and I have crossed paths a few times over the years. She asked me to make contact with you. That’s when Axel and I started to set up shop at The Flea. She asked me to get close enough to you so, if the time came, I would be able to help guide you. This isn’t exactly the path she hoped you would find, but here we are.”

“Yes, indeed, here we are. I’m out of my body, hovering outside my favorite coffee house, talking to an old lady I bought a bookshelf from, who says she talked to my dead grandmother. Oh yeah, and I’m locked up in some dark prison for some ungodly reason.” I grabbed a quick breath. “Might you know something about that?”

I felt my body, to which I was apparently not attached, heating up, so I wasn’t sure what part of me I actually felt. The heat was like a surge of anger, and I fought to stuff it down. It wasn’t Patience I was angry with. I needed to respect her, not lash out at her.

“I’m not the one that is all-knowing. I can only share with you the lineage of those with which I am entrusted. I have documented much of your family’s ancestry. Your family is that of a unique bloodline. You are what we call a

Although I desperately needed to hear more of whatever Patience was trying to explain to me, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the familiar smells of the café. The sweet aroma of fresh-baked pastry and coffee filled my senses. There was a sudden hunger inside me I couldn’t shake.

“Kasha… Kasha, are you listening, sweetheart? Our time is limited.” Patience begged of me.

“Huh, umm-hmm. Bloodline—” I couldn’t finish my broken thought. As I glanced back at the door to the café, I swear I saw
head in. “I think that’s him,” I whispered as if anyone but Patience might hear me.

The hunger was growing and not so much for the honey blueberry scones. I found myself heading straight for the café. I had to see. I had to know if it was
. I knew Patience was calling after me, insisting I stay. He could have been the last person I saw before I disappeared. I may not have seen his face in all of its glory, but his voice I could never forget.

I made my way into the café as if the doors and walls were nothing but a mere mirage. All I could see was his back. He stood in a pair of thick, steel-toed black boots that looked like they’d either taken or given their fair share of beatings. His jeans were loose-fitting but snug enough that there was no mistaking the athletic roundness of his behind. I could tell he had thick thighs like a football player. His heather-grey T-shirt may have been casual, but it was thin enough to give away the contour of the muscles stacked across his back. His light hair was pulled back into a short pony. He certainly didn’t care about going the extra mile to use a hair product to manage the kinky flyaways. He did, however, take the time to use both large hands to push back the stray hairs from his face right before the girl handed him his steamy to-go cup.

He said thanks and my head grew fuzzy and my insides melted. That deep, harmonic, unforgettable sound of his voice had the barista blushing. My anticipation for him to turn around erased everything else from my mind.

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