Excerpt: ...Despite her exhaustion and the comfort of Lord Hayden’s arms, she slept fitfully. Her fear of the river crashing through the walls and trapping her and Lord Hayden into a drowning death, reared up vividly in her subconscious mind. Rock imploded as water gushed in, filling the tunnels. Water entered her nostrils and pushed against her mouth. She felt no grief because, oddly, she knew she was dreaming. Yet the threat of drowning felt real. She used her hands and arms to propel herself up until her head cleared the surface, where she beheld an island, from which rose a crystal castle. Then suddenly, the water vanished and she found herself standing in the vestibule of the castle, able to see through the crystal walls, except for the upper floors where the crystal was frosted. As in a trance, she walked until she came to a courtyard. In its center a fountain gushed a thick column of water as high as the eye could see, and even higher. Sensing a presence, she looked down. A bearded monk knelt at the fountain’s base, washing his face and hands in the sparkling water. His ablution completed, he cupped his hands and drank from the fountain.
When he had savored his fill, he turned and faced her. She beheld a benign face with deep-set eyes, the color of warm, churned earth. The eyes widened in surprise, then softened with a smile. His voice resounded strongly, yet not harshly, melodious as though carried on the wings of angels. "Welcome, gentle spirit. You bring me solace and company. Come and share a drink with me, and tell me of your purpose."
The fear she had felt about the river melted away at the sound of that voice and his smile. She drew close to the monk and accepted the water from his cupped hands. It tasted clean and cool, and as she swallowed, a feeling of perfect calm spread through her, rendering her light and carefree, as if she were no more than a wispy cloud, floating. The monk watched, still smiling, his gaze benevolent, giving. She did not speak, yet he was listening to her telling him all about herself, everything, from her earliest recollections to her present circumstances. So much she revealed, yet but a moment passed.
"You are one of them," the monk spoke reverently. "One of the gentle dreamers and preservers. Your spirit warms the cold night and evaporates the dampness; it brings the dawn and the warmth of the sun." He touched her shoulder, and Elizabeth felt the wind at her back. "Gentle spirit," he continued. "When you come to my resting place, replace the Cross of my Savior, and I will bless you and your loved ones with streams of molten gold from the heavens. Will you promise?"
Elizabeth did not question him. The sense of ethereality was so great, she nodded, her only desire to requite this communion of the spirit. "I promise," she said. The monk lifted his hand from her shoulder, and immediately she felt saddened. Then, something was pulling her back physically. Elizabeth resisted.
"Go back, gentle spirit," the monk advised her. "You are needed; there is danger." He pointed to the space behind her.
Elizabeth turned her head, and suddenly realized her eyes were closed. She opened them to see Lord Hayden’s unshaven face bending over hers, and his harried voice telling her, "Elizabeth, honey, wake up! There’s trouble!"
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In Another Life (from the Adventures of Grace Quinlan and Lord William Hayden)
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