For today’s Thursday Thirteen I will share with you the first thirteen paragraphs of Xakara’s Ghost of Chirstmas Past due to release on December 20th at Liquid Silver Books.
Torrin leaned in, nearly pressing his nose to the glass of the mirror. He recognized his face yet a stranger still stared back at him. Four years. How could you wake up with four years gone?
“Agent St. James, if you’d please return to your chair. The doctors were very clear that you could attend this meeting but only if we kept you off your feet and resting.”
Torrin straightened and turned sideways. They had only let him have a shaving mirror in the hospital. For the first time he could see all the changes at once. He’d leaned out despite the protein supplements and electro-muscular stimulation. He fit in his rookie scrubs from Psi Corp again … depressing, but it could be worse. His fiancé Sky and his field Partner Riley had worked out with him six days a week, fifty-two weeks a year to ditch the wiry frame that genetics had stuck Torrin with. He’d graduated from nicknames like beanpole and lamppost to yeti during his Psi Corp career, a significant step-up in his opinion. Now he’d been regressed to an in-between stage Riley had called “Baby Sasquatch.”
It went far beyond odd to see a body progressively younger that sported a complexion subtly lighter and therefore subtly older, but both that allegedly belonged to him. He raised his shirt and touched the tattoo in the center of his chest. The twining snakes knotted through a circle and formed a triquetra that spanned the width of his hand. The design had initially been flawless, the scales of the snakes actually texturized in a special process that had taken twelve hours. Now the symbol of his Triad had been marred … like the Triad itself. Torrin fingered the scar on the lower left side, left behind by the bullet that had nicked his heart.
“Agent St. James,” the Handler began.
“I didn’t come here to sit down, Quintus. I’m here because it’s the only way the assistant DA will let me see my fiancé and my Partner. I’ve given my testimony, it’s been recorded and ruled admissible, there’s no longer any danger that physical exertion or mental trauma will affect my memory, and even if it did, you don’t need me anymore. Now, I’d appreciate the chance to freak out a little longer about seeing my loved ones for the first time in four years. Loved ones that I might remind you–you told I was dead.”
Quintus held his hands up in surrender. “I will not go over this again. When you go into a witness security detail there are certain protocols. WitSecPsi would not take them into the program with you in a coma, and it was a sound decision. Both are at the top of their careers, both have helped to put away a great deal of criminals these last four years, and both have healed and moved on with their lives without the danger of Florini’s men hunting them down. Would you have wanted the alternative for them? Stuck in witness protection, clinging to hope, unable to move forward while you languished in a coma? Or would you have preferred all three of you out of WitSecPsi and most likely dead as Florini ordered a bomb placed in the hospital during one of their visits? This was the only option, Agent St. James.”
Perhaps, but that didn’t make it any better. “But did you have to tell them I was dead?”
“Dead was the cover story and a cover is non-negotiable. For Florini’s men to believe it, no one outside of WitSecPsi could know different. There was, and is, no way of identifying the leak. Keeping you all alive meant keeping your cover intact. I will not apologize for keeping you all alive, Agent St. James. I am, however, sorry the cost was so great.”
He wouldn’t get anything better out of Quintus, and considering it was the most he’d ever gotten, Torrin chalked it up to a win.
“I don’t know how I’m going to tell my mother. The doctors suggested I wait so her emotional stress didn’t add to mine. You’d think they’d realize waiting added to my emotional stress. Too much time to think.” Torrin rubbed his hands over his face. “I kept dreaming that I heard her voice while I was in the coma.”
Quintus went completely still, not even appearing to breathe for a moment. He shook himself out of it and began sorting through paperwork.
“Quintus.” It slid out in a snake charmer’s soothing whisper. “What did you tell my mother?”
Hope you enjoyed. 🙂