The Key

By: Patty S.

Disclaimer: All mine. Please don’t use without asking. Sometimes I’m stingy with my toys.

Violence: Lots of blood be here, as well as fighting with sharp objects, etc. This is a fantasy type story. If you have a weak stomach you may want to turn away now.

Language: Bad. Both characters have potty mouths.

Sex: Yep, but nothing graphic. However, it is between two women, so if you don’t like that, are offended by it, or it’s illegal where you live, best you move on now.

Feedback: Of course! Please don’t let me starve! This bard needs feed!

"Damn," Kris Davies muttered, continuing to take pictures. Normally the police photographer would be doing this, but Kris liked taking them herself. It would help her reconstruct the scene later.

The murder weapon, a large blood stained rock, still lay near her torso. The suspect had dropped it when the police arrived. Kris stopped for a moment, taking in the smooth features of the young woman’s face. "Can’t be more than twenty years old."

"She just turned nineteen." Detective Jack McShea stepped back as Kris moved to the other side of the victim. "Damn shame."

"Yeah." Kris took the last of her pictures, then ducked under the crime scene tape. "Got anything else on her?"

"Not really. She’s from Lexington and they’re going to make the notifications for us."


"Hey, can you believe the perp had a pandering permit? Apparently, he thought she was going to take over his corner."

"Jesus. Gotta love Cincinnati for making it legal to beg."

"No shit."

Kris opened the trunk of her car, removing her film front the camera and tagging it as evidence. She wiped the sweat from her brow, leaning on the bumper as the heat of the early evening finally got to her. "Damn. I thought it was only supposed to be hot, hazy and humid in the summer and not the fall?"

"El Nino." Jack laughed at his own joke, closing her trunk and opening the driver’s door for her. "You need anything else, Doc?"

"Not until I get her on my table."

"Okay. I’ll be there first thing in the morning." Jack waited until she was settled before leaning in the open window. "Get some rest, Kris. You look like shit."

"Gee, thanks."


Lacy blasted the horn of her pick up for a third time. "You stupid son-of-a-bitch!" She hit the brakes as said son-of-a-bitch purposefully slowed down. "I am going to ram this truck up your ass!"

The driver of the red car could not hear her, but Lacy continued her tirade, moving into the passing lane. The red car sped up, but Lacy did as well, just getting ahead before the two lanes of Columbia Parkway merged in to one.

"Ha ha fucking ha!" Lacy proudly displayed the middle finger of her right hand, then used that hand to crank up her stereo. Melissa Etheridge was singing about losing her girlfriend, so Lacy joined in, feeling every lyric and every note go right to her heart.

The song ended as Lacy exited the parkway, heading onto the Beechmont Levy. Few cars were around, making her trip home from work that much nicer. Normally the levy was packed this time of day, but Lacy was not going to complain.


Kris shifted her car into fifth gear, enjoying the feel of the open road. It wasn’t often that traffic was this light, and she was taking full advantage of it. The thought of getting a speeding ticket never entered her mind.

At least not until the flashing red and blue lights appeared in her rear view mirror. She glanced down at the speedometer. "Shit." Kris slowed down and pulled onto the emergency lane. The cruiser stopped just behind her.

The takedown lights reflected off her mirrors and blinded her. Kris kept her hands on the steering wheel, patiently waiting for the deputy to approach her. When he was standing beside her window, she removed one hand and pressed the auto window button.

"Doctor Davies?"

Uh oh. "Yes." Kris squinted up at the deputy, unable to read his gold polished nametag.

"You might want to turn on your cell phone. Dispatch has been trying to get you, ma’am."

"That’s why you stopped me?"

The deputy cleared his throat. "Uh, no. I stopped you because you were going 85 in a 55." He pointed toward the dash. "Just slow it down and be more careful, okay?"

"You got it."

"Have a good evening." The deputy tipped his hat and walked back to his cruiser. The take-down lights shut off and Kris pulled back onto the roadway. She reached into her purse for her cell phone and turned it on.

Seven messages flashed on her screen. She checked her call history and saw that the dispatchers had called her twice, her office had called once and the other four were from her mother. "This can’t be good." Kris hit her mother’s number first.

The phone only rang once. "Kris! Where are you?"

"Currently on Columbia Parkway. Why?"

"Thank god!" Her mother sighed dramatically, catching her breath before speaking again. "I had another dream."

"Mother," Kris paused, not wanting to hurt her mother’s feelings, knowing how much credence her mother put into those dreams. "Look, I’m fine. Okay? I’ll be home in about an hour."

"Were you at that awful scene tonight? I saw it on the news."


There was an unusual silence on the other end of the phone. For a moment, Kris thought that her mother had hung up. "Kristine, are you near the Beechmont Levy?"

Kris checked her surroundings, realizing she was not far from it. "I’m almost there. Mother, don’t do this. You’re only going to–"

"Take another road home."


"Take another road home. Kristine, I don’t want you to go home that way."

"Mother, I’m almost there. If I go around it’ll take me another twenty minutes and I’m almost too tired to drive."

"Please." There was a tremble in her mother’s voice that scared Kris.

"Okay. I’ll just get myself turned around, okay?"

"Okay. Call me the second you get home."

"I will." Kris ended the call and set her phone on the passenger seat. She had just turned onto the Beechmont Levy and decided to go a bit further before turning around.

She glanced at her cell phone and hit the speed dial number for dispatch.

Kris only took her eyes off the road for a second. Just long enough for her car to swerve slightly into the lane of on-coming traffic. She jerked the wheel to the right, over-corrected, and headed for the side of the road. She wasn’t sure what she hit, but the impact spun her car completely out of control and sent it careening for the trees that lined the highway. Her airbag deployed just as her car came to a stop.


"Bitch." Lacy glanced at her alpha pager, reading the same page for probably the twentieth time that day. The battery was low and the light wasn’t quite bright enough in the dark interior of the car, but that was okay. Lacy had it memorized.

"Your stuff is packed and on the front porch. It will go out with the trash tomorrow if you don’t come get it."

"Great big fucking whore-bag bitch." Lacy cranked up the radio as Melissa sang about "being down to one."

What was it that Shelia had said to her? She didn’t like the mood Lacy was in when she came home from her job as a 9-1-1 dispatcher.

"Mood? You try giving CPR instructions to a mother whose baby isn’t breathing and see what kind of mood you’re in!" Lacy slapped her hand against the steering wheel in frustration. "Dammit. You didn’t even try to understand."

Hot tears rolled down her cheeks and Lacy swiped at them angrily. She wasn’t going to cry. Not over some stupid bitch that was only concerned with herself. Sheila had never and would never accept that Lacy’s job wasn’t just some job. It was her life…what she was meant to do. And yes, helping people was a priority in Lacy’s life. Sheila just could never take a back seat to that.

"I’m better off without the stupid bitch anyway." Lacy reasoned. "Hell, she doesn’t even like Star Wars. What kind of freak doesn’t like Star Wars?"

Lacy reached down to hit the repeat button, letting the words of Melissa’s song fill the cab of her pickup. The words came from someone who understood where Lacy was and she let the words soothe and relax her. It was cathartic and Lacy found herself easing up on her grip on the steering wheel.

Just in time for the impact to tear the wheel from her grasp. The crunch of metal happened too fast for her to react. Lacy was jolted toward the passenger’s seat just as she tried to regain her grasp on the wheel. Melissa Etheridge continued to sing as the truck spun out of control, sliding sideways through a chain link fence, finally coming to rest against a tree.


White powder from her air bag hung like a mist in her car, causing her to cough. She immediately checked herself for injuries, satisfied there were none. "Okay, air bags and seat belts do save lives." She unbuckled hers seat belt, then looked into the darkness around her. "Oh god. Where the hell am I?"

Her door was jammed and it took a few tries before she could get it opened. She tumbled out, taking a moment to steady herself. It was too dark to see exactly how much damage her car had taken, so Kris reached in through the driver’s side door for her cell phone. And saw the pickup truck that was pinned against a tree.

"Shit!" The idea that her carelessness had injured or even killed someone…Kris ran to the other vehicle, where she found the driver slumped over the wheel. She reached her hand in through the window and gently touched the woman’s shoulder. "Hey, are you okay?"

The woman slowly sat up, reaching for her head. She looked out through the spider web crack in the truck’s windshield. "What the hell?"

"There’s been an accident." Kris reached toward her face when she saw blood on the woman’s cheek. "Are you hurt?"

"Are you the one who hit me?"

"It looks that way."

"What the fuck did you do? Fall asleep? Are you drunk?"

"I don’t know, no, and absolutely not." Kris sighed. "Look," Kris could just see the name "Lacy" embroidered over the left pocket of her shirt, "Lacy, I’m a doctor. Let me take a look at–"

"Don’t touch me!" She bellowed. Lacy tried the driver’s door, but it was stuck closed. She tried to open the passenger door, but it was resting against a tree. "Damn." Kris watched as she carefully maneuvered through the shards of broken glass on the truck’s seat to crawl out through the busted back window.

"You should be still. You could be injured."

"Of course I’m injured!" Lacy jumped out of the truck bed, landing beside Kris. "You hit me!"

"Not on purpose." Kris felt herself losing patience. "That’s why they call them ‘accidents’. Not ‘intentionals.’"


Kris unclipped her cell phone. "I’ll call it in. Maybe you’ll let the EMTs look at you."

"I’m fine!" She threw up her hands. "Will you stop? I would know if I’m hurt. I’m not. Okay?"

"Sure." Kris turned away from the raving woman, who was now pacing around her damaged pickup truck. A thick fog was settling in over the area and Kris wondered why she hadn’t just listened to her mother and stayed on the Parkway. It wasn’t the first time her mother had "predicted" something was going to happen to her. "I never learn," she mumbled and pressed the speed dial number for the police dispatcher, but nothing happened. She looked down at her cell phone and found she had no signal. "That’s weird."


"No signal."

"Out here? I always have a good signal. Hang on and I’ll check mine."

Kris waited while Lacy retrieved her cell phone through the driver’s side window, but discovered that she did not have a signal either. "Damn. The tower must be down. Maybe you hit it while you were asleep."

Kris rolled her eyes. "Funny."

"I thought so." She tossed the phone back into the truck. "Well, looks like we either hike over to the airport or wait for someone to see us."

"Not with this fog they won’t. I’m surprised by how fast it came in."

"Looks like we’ll have to walk. The airport is just on the other side of the road."

"Okay." Kris agreed, wanting to get the whole thing over with. She opened her trunk and retrieved her leather satchel, which contained the crime scene film, knowing that if she left it behind, the chain of evidence would be broken and the film not admissible in court. She had to run to catch up to Lacy, whose longer legs had already taken her to the edge of the tree line. "Are you in a hurry?"

"Yeah. I want to get home. I miss my cat."

Kris started to reply, but the sarcasm in Lacy’s voice stopped her comment. She fell into step beside the taller woman.

They walked in silence for a few minutes before Lacy stopped. "This isn’t right. We should be at the road by now."

"How can you even tell? I’m not sure which way our cars are now. I can barely see you."

"I can tell. I’ve got a real good sense of direction. Comes from dispatching cops for the last decade."

"So what do we do now?"

"Keep going." Lacy resumed walking, not waiting for Kris to catch up.

"What if we get lost?"

"We won’t." Lacy looked up through the dissipating fog. "See, the moon is above us. That means it’s nearly midnight. We’ll be fine."

"Uh huh. I’ve got a bad feeling about this."

Lacy snickered. "You know that’s my favorite line."

"Star Wars?"

"What else." The taller woman smiled for the first time. Her pale blue eyes twinkled in the light of the moon. "Lacy Simon."

Kris extended her hand in greeting. "Kris Davies."


"Pathologist, actually."

"You’re a coroner for Hamilton County, right?"

"I hate that word, but yeah. I work for Hamilton County."

Lacy nodded. "Were you on the murder scene tonight?"

"Yeah, how’d you know about that?"

"Hello, I’m a dispatcher. I sent the cops there. As a matter-of-fact, I was the one who called your office. You don’t sound like you look."

"I don’t?"

"Nope." Lacy held out her hand, leveling it with her chest. "You’re shorter than you sound on the phone."

"Oh." Kris felt the heat of a blush rise up from her neck when she realized Lacy was staring at her. Those blue eyes seemed to be taking in every inch of her. When was the last time that happened?

"Look, I think we need to get moving."

"Okay. I really am sorry that I hit you," Kris knew the apology was lame. "I’m not a careless driver."

Lacy shrugged. "Like you said. It was an accident."

"Yeah." Kris glanced behind them, but could no longer see the cars. The bad feeling she’d had earlier tightened in her gut.


They walked for nearly an hour before Kris asked Lacy to stop. She was feeling the fatigue of a long day finally catch up to her. She leaned against a tree, looking up at the full moon. "I should have listened to my mother."

"Why? Did she tell you never to walk through the woods with a stranger?"

"Sort of. She told me not to drive on Beechmont Levy tonight. Told me–begged me to take another route home."

"Yeah?" Lacy asked. "She psychic?"

"A little. I mean she’s had these dreams before–" Kris shook her head. "It’s all so weird. Where the hell are we? Why can’t we find the airport? Or the road for that matter. There is no way in hell there are this many trees along the Levy."

"You’re right. About all of it." Lacy glanced behind them. "Look, I know this is going to sound crazy."

"No crazier than any of this already sounds."

"But I think we need to keep going. I just have this feeling."

"Are you psychic, too?"

Lacy started walking again, slowing long enough for Kris to catch up. "I just have a feeling that we’re being followed, but I’m not sure what to do about it."

"I have a gun."

That comment stopped Lacy in her tracks. "And you’re just now telling me…why?"

Kris shrugged. "I don’t know you. How do I know this isn’t all your doing?"

"My doing? Excuse me, but I believe YOU are the one who hit ME!"

"Oh, we’re back to that are we?"

"Hell yes!"

Kris tossed up her arms in exasperation. "You’re making me crazy!"

"At least you admit it." Kris opened her mouth to speak, but Lacy stopped her. "Hang on. I hear something."

Kris held her breath, finally catching the faint sounds. "Footsteps. Lots of them."

"Yeah." Lacy pointed to a large oak tree, grabbing Kris’ arm as she did. "Up there!"

"What? Why do we need to climb a tree?"

"Because we are in the middle of a forest that doesn’t belong here, in the middle of the night with people heading our way who, for all we know, are cannibals."

"Cannibals?" Kris rolled her eyes. "I think you’re overreacting, Lacy."

Lacy shook her head and climbed onto the lowest branch, testing it to make sure it would hold her weight. "C’mon. Better to be safe than sorry."

Kris shook her head. "Lacy, I can’t–"

"Yes, you can." Lacy reached down and held her hand out. "Just grab my hand."

Kris looked up into twin pools of blue and knew that she could trust Lacy. The footsteps were getting closer, so Kris reached up and grabbed hold of the offered hand, and was pulled onto the tree limb.

Lacy climbed onto the next limb, repeating the process of helping Kris until they reached a spot where the tree trunk branched off in two directions. There was a mostly flat area between the two sections. Lacy helped Kris onto it, settling herself behind her, her arms protectively around Kris’ waist.

"This is really high."

"Shh." Lacy pulled her closer as the footsteps became louder. "I’ve got ya."

"I thought you said they went this way?" The voice drifted toward them as the orange glow of torchlights appeared beneath them.

"I saw two women, just as Lord Larit said."

"Perhaps they teleported." The first one reasoned, moving his torch around the area beneath the tree. "The tracks stop here."

The second man took the torch and moved closer to the tree, holding it up so he could see between the thick branches.

Lacy pressed herself harder against the tree trunk and turned her face away from the light, hoping they were too high for the man to see them in the dark.

He hesitated, examining the tree closer, then moved away from it. "You must be right. Larit will not be pleased."

"Let’s keep going. Perhaps they only teleported across the woods."

"Agreed." The second man signaled to the ones that followed him and started to move deeper into the woods.

Lacy couldn’t see much more than the shadows of the men that marched past, their shapes flickering in the light of their torches. But she did catch the occasional glint of sword blades and helmets, the distinct smell of leather, and the rattling of chain mail armor. Swords, armor, teleporting…what the hell is going on?

It took a while for the group of men, Lacy guessed around forty total, to leave the area. When she was sure it was safe, she released her hold on Kris. "Tell me I didn’t just see a bunch of guys in armor carrying swords."

"Well, if you didn’t see it then we just shared an hallucination."

"Do you think they’re one of those re-enactment groups? Like the ones at the Renaissance Festival?"

Kris shrugged. "Or maybe just a group of men with really sharp toys."

"Either way, I think we should stay up here until daylight. Just in case."

Kris grabbed on to Lacy’s arm, her legs shaking from the strain of being motionless. "I don’t think I can."

Lacy studied her companion, frustrated because she couldn’t see the woman’s face in the darkness, and confused because she somehow sensed what Kris was feeling. "Look, this is a really wide spot and tree is pretty strong. It’ll hold us just fine. Once it’s light we’ll climb down and have a look around."

"But we might fall."

Lacy gently moved around Kris, letting her lean against the trunk of the tree. "You won’t fall. Just keep your back against the tree. Okay?"

"Where are you going to be?"

"Right next to you." Lacy helped Kris to sit down, making sure she was settled before joining her. "See, plenty of room."

"Sure. Now what?"

"Sleep if you can."

"I’m afraid of heights."

"I kinda figured." Lacy scooted closer to Kris and without even thinking about it first, placed her arm around the woman’s waist. A woman whom she had only known for a few hours and yet felt compelled to protect with her own life if necessary.

It made Lacy shiver at the idea. Was there any woman worth that? But when she looked down at the one beside her, felt her shaking fade away the tighter Lacy’s arm held her, she knew that this was a woman she would die for. The realization scared her. "Like I said, I got ya."

"Okay," Kris replied softly, letting her head come to rest on Lacy’s shoulder. It took only a few moments for the exhausted woman to fall asleep.


Sunlight warmed her face and gradually pulled her from her nightmarish slumber. But when Kris opened her eyes, she realized the nightmare had been real. She found herself wrapped in the arms of a woman she barely knew, in a tree too high for any sane person to climb, hiding from a group of men wearing armor and carrying swords. She blinked a few times, not terribly surprised to discover her clearer vision still revealed the same situation.

The woman beside her was resting peacefully, the sun’s rays highlighting the smooth planes of her face. Kris took a moment to look at her companion for the first time. Lacy’s ebony hair held a blue tint in the early light, giving it a soft appearance. Kris resisted a sudden urge to run her fingers through the short strands along the edges of Lacy’s face.

Lacy stirred slightly, and opened one eye, which rolled toward Kris. The clear blue orb gazed at her with intent curiosity. "Mornin’," she mumbled, opening the other eye so she could look around. "Guess we didn’t get any more company."

"Nope. Guess not," Kris said, watching her companion stretch her long limbs. "We should climb down and see if we can figure out a way back to the cars."

"Yeah." Lacy stood up, helping Kris to her feet as she did. "I’ll go down first so I can help you. Okay?"

"Works for me." Kris ducked her head under the strap of her satchel, settling it so the strap went diagonally across her chest. "Ready when you are."

"Cool." Lacy easily jumped from their perch to the next branch, then turned to Kris, holding her arms up. "C’mon."

With Lacy’s help, Kris slowly made her way out of the tree, never happier to have her feet touch the solid ground. She leaned against the tree for a moment while her rubbery legs regained their strength. "Now what?"

Lacy squinted toward the sun. "Well, the sun rises in the east, so we should head away from it. That will take us closer to the city and should put us back on Columbia Parkway."

"You really do have a map inside that head of yours, don’t you?"

Lacy shrugged. "Comes with the job."

Kris sighed, looking in the direction Lacy had indicated. "I just hope my mother isn’t freaking out. She’s probably called the police already to report me missing."

"Be glad you have someone who gives a damn, Kris. At least someone will notice you’re gone."

"What do you mean? Don’t you have any family?"

Lacy shook her head and started walking. "My girlfriend kicked me out last night and my parents live in San Diego and haven’t spoken to me in nearly ten years." Lacy glanced to her right as Kris caught up to her. "I’m a lesbian," she said in a stage whisper.

"Sounds like your parents need to reassess their priorities." Kris gently bumped shoulders with her companion. "You’d like my mother. She wasn’t just okay when I told her I was gay. She actually started looking for a ‘good woman’ for me to settle down with."

Lacy chuckled, putting thoughts of Sheila and her parents out of her mind. "She find anyone?"

Kris shook her head. "Nope. Not a lot of women are excited about dating a pathologist. And if they do get past what I do for a living, they get upset that I get paged at all hours of the night."

Lacy raised an eyebrow, reminding Kris of Mr. Spock. "All hours? Like in the middle of–"

"Yes!" Kris raised her hand to stop Lacy’s comments, but found herself laughing at the expression on the woman’s face. "Even in the middle. I’m the junior pathologist. Until someone else comes along, I’m stuck with all the crap assignments."

"Like pager duty."

"Like pager duty," Kris replied.

"Well, it could be worse."

"How so?"

"You could be a dispatcher."

Kris shook her head. "Uh, no way. I couldn’t do your job."

The comment made Lacy laugh. "Well, that’s good to know, because I couldn’t do yours." She leaned closer to whisper, "I can’t stand the sight of blood."

"Well, that would present a problem," Kris said, stepping around a fallen tree limb as the two women fell into a companionable silence.


"This is insane." Lacy stopped at the top of a hill a few hours into their journey. Kris joined her and from their vantage point they could see several miles of hills and woodlands. Cutting through those hills was a small river.

"What’s wrong?"

"The landscape for one." Lacy swept her arm out before them. "That is definitely not the Ohio River and we sure as hell aren’t in Hamilton County any more."

"Where the hell are we then? And how did we get here?"

Lacy shrugged. "I’m not sure about anything right now. But I am sure that we need to keep moving."

"Which way?"

"West. Same as we’ve been heading." Lacy turned to Kris, her eyes holding the smaller woman’s for a moment before she continued. "I can’t explain it, but I have a feeling we’re not safe."

"The same kind of feeling that kept us in a tree all night?"



"Lacy, slow down!" Kris stopped, leaning against a tree while she caught her breath. "I can’t keep up with your long steps. I’m short, remember?"

Lacy stopped, but kept her eyes on the woods that were behind them. "I’m sorry, Kris. But we have to get to the river. Not too much further, okay?"

"Yeah. I’m right behind you." Kris took a moment to catch her breath.

A strong grip on her hand made Kris look up into those startling blue eyes. "I want you by my side, Kris. Not behind me."

Kris swallowed the sudden lump in her throat, feeling a fierce sense of protectiveness behind those words. "Okay."

They started for the river at a faster pace, Kris forcing her tired limbs to keep moving.

Lacy glanced over her shoulder. "Shit! Run!"

"What’s wrong?"

"Our Renaissance friends are back! C’mon!"

They were close enough to the river to hear the water moving across the rocks. Kris felt Lacy tighten the grip on her hand and she looked back to see the group of men gaining ground. If Lacy hadn’t pulled her to a sudden stop, Kris would have run right into the man that was blocking their path to the river.

The man was dressed in the same kind of armor as the men behind them. "You must come with me." His voice was smooth and commanding and reminded Kris of a general addressing his troops.

"Like hell!" Lacy pulled Kris behind her when the man reached toward her companion. "Back off, buddy!"

"Lacy, maybe we should just go with him." Kris was looking behind them as the group of men slowed their pace and began to surround her and Lacy.

"I don’t think–" Lacy stopped, her attention drawn to the river. Kris followed her gaze. Standing in the water, though it looked like he was floating on the water, was a man dressed in a long black robe. His thin brown hair flowed behind him in a breeze that only seemed to surround him.

"Leave here, Asgar," the armored man drew his sword. "You are too late."

"It’s never too late, Lord Larit." Asgar threw his arms open, holding them toward the sky. Thunder and lightning exploded above him as the water began to swirl at his feet. The wind that surrounded him increased in intensity, then burst toward Lacy and Kris with enough force to knock the pair to the ground.

Lacy reached out for Kris’ hand, barely getting a grip on it. "I’ve got you!"

"Lacy!" Kris tried to yell over the din, but her voice was instantly lost. "Don’t let go!"

Lacy tightened her grip on Kris’ hand, but it wasn’t enough as Lord Larit appeared beside them, pulling Kris to her feet. In a flash of light, both Kris and the man were gone. In that same moment, the group of soldiers also disappeared. Lacy turned to the water, half expecting to find the robed man called Asgar to be gone as well.

But he was walking toward her, a smile on his face that sent shivers down her spine.


The light had blinded her for a moment, but once her vision cleared, Kris was surprised to find herself inside what looked to like a dungeon. How did we get here? Kris wanted to ask the question aloud, but the armored man was dragging her toward a block of small cells. Kris figured he was going to put her in one of those cells and started kicking and biting until blood oozed from the deep scratches on his arm. "Let me go!"

"You must stop fighting me!"

She kicked him in the groin, hurting her foot when she hit his metal codpiece. "Dammit!"

"Don’t make me hurt you," he warned, shoving inside the cell.

Kris got to her feet just as he slammed the door of the cell shut. "You can’t do this." She grasped the filthy metal bars that imprisoned her. "I have rights, you know."

The man stared at her for a moment as if undecided about something. He finally just shook his head and walked away. Two soldiers came to stand on either side of the cell door, their backs to Kris.

Kris slowly backed up until she felt the wall. She slid to the ground, clutching her leather satchel to her chest. She could feel the outline of the Glock nine millimeter and let it reassure her that she would at least be able to fight if she needed to.

Where the hell am I? She looked around the dingy cell, staying away from the shackles on the far wall. Her well-trained eyes had already spotted the dried blood on them. It was hard for her to even sit there, imagining the vomit, feces, urine, semen and a thousand kinds of bacteria coming in contact with her.

She wondered what had happened to Lacy. The last time she’d seen her friend was when she was being pulled away from her. Had she been hurt? Was Lacy okay?

But I’d know if she weren’t, wouldn’t I? Kris shook her head. "How the hell would I know that? I’ve known the woman barely two days. There’s no way I could–we can’t–there’s no way–" Kris shook her head.

A flash of those blue eyes crossed her mind, and Kris allowed herself to sink into their depths. "I’ll find you, Lacy. Somehow."


"Shit," Lacy moaned, her head throbbing. She reached up and felt the stickiness of blood there, wondering how she’d hit her head. "Must have been when I passed out." She tried to sit up, but couldn’t quite build up the energy. She let her head fall back against the cold stone floor.

The last thing she remembered was Kris disappearing in a flash of light. Maybe it was the flash of light that had caused her to lose consciousness. People don’t just disappear like that. Right?

"Good to see you awake."

The voice was very familiar and very close. Lacy opened her eyes slowly to find the man from the river standing over her. "What the hell?" Lacy scrambled to get away from him, finding a wall at her back and pressing herself against it as tightly as she could. The man was kneeling so close to her that Lacy could smell his stale breath. His eyes were a strange shade of gray and she found that she could not look away from them.

"I’m sure it will all come back to you once I get your friend to join us."

Was he talking about Kris? Lacy wondered.

"She’s the key, Lacy. Without her I cannot open the portal." The man stood up, his cold gray eyes still holding her gaze. "Larit thinks he’s protecting her, but he’s really just postponing the inevitable."

"And what’s that?" Lacy asked, trying to get her foggy brain to process what he was saying.

"That once I step through that portal, I will succeed in conquering Earth," he said and in a sudden flash of light, he was gone.


Kris awoke to the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. She scrambled to her feet just as one of the guards turned to open the cell door.

"Stand back!" He ordered.

"Okay, okay." Kris obediently backed away as he opened the door, one hand firmly grasping the pistol inside her bag.

The door swung open and the guards moved back to allow a woman to enter the cell. The woman was a vision of beauty, her long powder blue gown clinging to her shapely body like a glove. She seemed to float rather than walk.

"I am Marrisa, Lady of Davinia."

"Uh, I’m Dr. Kris Davies."

"I know. Would you follow me, please?" Marrisa started toward the door, not waiting for Kris to follow.

One last look at the disgusting little cell and Kris was right behind the enigmatic woman. "Um, Lady Marrisa, would you mind telling me why I’m here?"

"I believe it would be easier to show you. And you may release your weapon. I am not going to harm you."

Marrisa led Kris through a maze of corridors that left her with absolutely no sense of where she was. Lacy would know. Kris chewed the inside of her lip, wondering if her friend was okay.

"We’ll help you find her, Kris." Marrisa was suddenly beside her.

"What? What are you talking about?"

"Lacy. We’ll help you find her."

"How–," but Marrisa was already moving down the corridor, which ended at a set of wooden doors. The doors seemed to open on their own as Marrisa drew nearer, creaking in that eerie "all castles make creepy noises" kind of way.

Kris followed Marrisa inside, coming to a stop when she saw the portrait along the far wall. "That’s…that looks like…"

"It is." Marrisa was standing next to it and motioned Kris to join her. "It was painted nearly a century ago."

"That’s impossible. I only met Lacy a couple of days ago."

"In this life, yes." Marrisa caressed the frame, smiling as Kris moved closer.

"Impossible." But Kris knew that it wasn’t. It was like looking into a mirror. She was dressed in a white gown that reminded her of her mother’s wedding dress. The sleeves were short, with laces on the edges of them. The neckline was just short enough to reveal the edges of her breast line.

Beside her stood the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen, dressed in black leather trousers, white blouse and black vest. Lacy’s blue eyes stood out like a beacon calling to her. Kris did not miss the long arm that was wrapped protectively around the waist of the woman in white. Her own waist. She remembered how safe she felt when that arm was holding her in the tree. Just as it was holding her in the picture.

"This is unreal."

"Do you believe in soulmates, Kris?"

"I guess so." Kris could not tear her gaze from the portrait. "I mean, my mother always said I’d meet mine someday. She said I’d know it the moment I looked into her eyes." How many times had her mother said that to her?

"Have you met her, Kris?" Marrisa asked, even as she turned her gaze to the portrait.

Kris was mesmerized by a certain pair of pale blue eyes. Even from the portrait they seemed to be staring right at her. "Yeah. I think I have."

"Think or know?"

The eyes held hers for a moment longer and Kris knew in her soul the answer to Marrisa’s question. "Know."

"Good. Very good." Marrisa made a motion with her arm and the doors to the room opened. A man wearing very familiar armor walked in.

"Larit? You’re the one–the one who pulled me away from Lacy and dumped me into that cell!"

"I am Lord Larit. Ruler of this nation and husband to Lady Marrisa." The large man remained near the doors. "I was trying to protect you. I would have brought Lacy as well, but you were fighting me and I had to get you out of there."

"Why me? Someone needs to tell me what’s going on."

"An evil magician is trying to leave our world." Larit replied. "We must stop him."

"Uh, that’s not really enough information, Lord Larit." Kris pointed toward the portrait behind her. "That right there tells me there is way more going on here. I need all the facts."

Larit hesitated long enough that Marrisa took her cue. "It was more than a century ago when Asgar first discovered the portal between our worlds. He intends to use it now to travel to your world so that he can destroy it."

"Portal? Is that how Lacy and I got here?"

"Yes," Marrisa answered, glancing up at the portrait. "The moment your souls reunited the portal was once again opened, but when you moved into our world it closed."

"And Asgar needs us to open it again?" Kris asked.

"Asgar needs you to open it." Larit responded. "You are the key, Kris."

"And Lacy is the bait?" She didn’t wait for either of them to answer. "How do we find her?"

"You are her soulmate, Kris. You have a connection." Marrisa explained. "You have the ability to find her."


Marrisa gently placed her hand over Kris’ heart. "She is in here. You’re linked, Kris. All you have to do is think of Lacy and you will see that I’m right."

"My mother is the psychic one, not me."

"How do you know that?" Marrisa asked. "Have you ever tried?"

"No. I never did." Because I always thought it was hokey. "I always thought my mother was being overly dramatic."

"Think of her, Kris." Marrisa said, moving back as if to give Kris the room she needed.

Kris took a deep breath, closed her eyes and let her mind focus on a pair of pale blue eyes. She shut out any noise around her, centering her thoughts on Lacy. She could feel the coldness of the room that Lacy was in, the stone floor where she lay, the pain that she felt.

"She’s in pain," Kris whispered.

"Is she near?" Larit asked, trying to hold back his impatience.

Kris drew her eyebrows together and reached out to Lacy. "Yes…very near. The room has no windows…and an altar."

"He’s in the ruins. It’s the only place he could have gone."

Kris opened her eyes and stared at Larit. "If you knew where Asgar might go, why didn’t you got get him?"

"Because I cannot enter the ruins," Larit explained as if talking to a child. "Asgar placed a spell upon them to keep me out."

"Where are these ruins? If Lacy is there, then I have to go."

"I’ll send you." Marrisa offered, then turned to her husband. "They have to vanquish him, my Lord. What better place?"

"Agreed." Larit carefully drew his sword and presented it to Kris. "You’ll need this."


The headache was incredible, but the nausea gave motion to wobbly legs as Lacy bolted from her position on the floor to search for a bathroom. She quickly realized there wasn’t one and just let nature take its course in the center of the tiny room, next to a stone altar. One hand braced against the altar as she finished emptying the meager contents of her stomach. The sight and the smell of it made her want to be sick again. She was sure nothing was left in her stomach, but leaned over when she felt the nothing trying to come back up.

She finally turned away from the mess in the floor as a bright flash blinded her, forcing her to close her eyes. "Shit."

Lacy slowly opened her eyes, glaring at the man who now stood in the center of the room. "What’s with all the flashing light stuff? You’re not helping my headache."

"A headache is the least of your worries." He turned from her and moved to stand behind the altar. "Larit is hiding your lady from me." Asgar ran his fingers along the smooth surface of the altar, his eyes closed as if he enjoyed the feel of it.

"Good. Because I have a feeling she doesn’t want to be here."

Asgar laughed, opening his eyes and looking directly at Lacy. "Oh, but she will. Just as soon as she realizes you’re here. And once I open the portal, you’ll both be dead." Another flash of light and he was gone.

She’d seen the man vanish that time, somehow certain that it was not just an illusion. Maybe it was magic or maybe it wasn’t, but it didn’t really matter anymore. What mattered was that he was planning to kill Kris and Lacy was determined not to let that happen.

An image of the feisty blonde doctor came to mind and it made her smile as she remembered sitting with her in the tree.

"I’m afraid of heights."

"I kinda figured." Lacy scooted closer to Kris and, without even thinking about it, placed her arm around the woman’s waist. A woman whom she had only known for a few hours and yet felt compelled to protect with her own life if necessary.

It made Lacy shiver at the idea. Was there any woman worth that? But when she looked down at the one beside her, felt her shaking fade away the tighter Lacy’s arm held her, she knew that this was a woman she would die for.

If Lacy closed her eyes she could see her so clearly. Kris’ sea green eyes held hers for what felt like forever and in those eyes, Lacy knew she was seeing her future.

A future they would never have happen if she didn’t find a way out of that room.


Marrisa led Kris to another chamber, this one much smaller than the last and void of any furnishings. "I can teleport you from here."

"Teleport? Are you serious?" Kris asked, even though she figured that Marrisa was very serious.

"Of course. It’s the only way to reach the ruins."

"Uh, I don’t know about that. I mean–"

"It’s the only way, Kris." Marrisa narrowed her gaze at her. "And you don’t have much time."

"There’s more to this than you’re telling me." It wasn’t an accusation, but Kris was determined to find out the truth. "Please, you have to tell me."

"Lacy is your soulmate, Kris. You must go to her. When you are together, you will know everything." Marrisa stepped back from Kris, then reached into a small pouch that hung at her waist. "I swear."

There was a flash of light, and Kris found herself inside a large chamber. She took a few moments to orient herself, letting her mind grasp the fact that she had just teleported from one place to the next in what felt like less than a second. "This place is just full of surprises. I wonder what’s next. A trip through the looking glass?"

Kris shook her head to clear it of her errant thoughts. She had a mission, as Lady Marrisa had stated. She decided to start by examining her immediate surroundings. The chamber had obviously once been part of an opulent palace, but now lay in complete ruins. The roof was missing and all but one wall was gone. Looking out at the expanse before her, she could see a forest with a river running through it, she wondered if it was the same river she and Lacy had been trying to reach.

She moved out the door of the chamber and into a corridor, carefully stepping around pieces of stone and wood. The place seemed strangely familiar to her. But the only way it could possibly be familiar was if Kris had been there before. Was this where they had lived?

As she traveled further into the old palace memories began to return to her. She could almost see the brilliant reds, yellows and golds of the rug that once hung along the corridor she was in. She could almost smell the sweet freshly cut roses that she would find in vases along the walls. And if Kris thought hard enough, she could feel the warm hand pressed into hers as she wandered further down that corridor to the one room she knew would hold the most memories for her.

Kris stood outside the room, surprised to find the heavy wooden door still intact. The door was stubborn at first, but finally gave way to one last shove, creaking its protest as it opened to let Kris inside. The moment her feet touched the bearskin rug, the memories flooded back. It was all so intense…the love, the pain, the sorrow…a vise-like grip on her chest forced Kris to her knees.


"There’s gotta be a secret door in here." Lacy was on her hands and knees, slowly feeling along the base of the wall. "Merlin didn’t just appear out of thin air." Did he?

Lacy refused to believe that notion, knowing that would mean he had teleported and that was only possible in fantasy and science fiction stories. This was real life and there wasn’t any time for her to try to grasp the fact that he might be using magic. She knew that he was a psycho with murderous intent and that was enough motivation for her to get out of that room.

She had nearly made a complete circuit around the room when she found a small notch between two stones. It took a couple of tries, but she was finally able to move the notch to one side. "Of course, it’s gonna be the last damn place I look," Lacy mumbled as she grasped the notch and pulled. A small door slid open, giving her just enough space to crawl through. She quickly slipped inside the tiny corridor, closing the door behind her.

In her haste, Lacy had forgotten to bring the torch that had lit the other room and was immediately consumed by the darkness.


Figuring there was only one way out, Lacy began crawling forward, forcing any thoughts of rats or creepy crawling bugs or spiders out of her mind. But the scurrying of tiny feet against the rock walls did not exactly make her feel better. They just made her crawl faster.

She was moving at a steady pace when it hit her. Lacy collapsed, unable to breathe. Her chest felt as if it had a load of bricks sitting atop it. She tried to expand her lungs, but each time felt like torture. Each breath came slower and slower until she felt as if her lungs could no longer take in air.

Just as suddenly as it had begun, the sensation was gone. Lacy took a few seconds to catch her breath before getting onto her hands and knees again. The attack only renewed her sense of purpose. It told her that Kris was in trouble. How the hell she knew that was beyond her, but she knew it, and she trusted her instincts on it. The tunnel felt like it had gotten longer, but Lacy pushed past any fatigue she had and continued moving forward.


The room spun around her as the walls became whole again, the room restoring itself to its original state as Kris watched. Her heart was pounding and her breath was coming in short gasps. Breathe. That’s all she had to do. Breathe. But each breath came with an effort that Kris wasn’t sure she had the strength for. She closed her eyes to keep from getting dizzy, keeping them closed until she felt the spinning stop. When she opened her eyes she found herself on the floor of the bedchamber staring up at a chandelier. A gift from the King of Utopia.

Of course she would know that. She’d lived in this chamber once. In another lifetime. Just like the portrait, Kris knew this was real, even if her scientific mind demanded more tangible answers. Soulmates and past lives were the kind of stuff her mother was always chattering about. It wasn’t supposed to be real. It wasn’t supposed to be Kris.

The young doctor walked around the room, letting her fingers trail along the edges of the finely carved wooden furniture, as pristine today as it had been a century before. But how was that possible? The sound of voices caused her a moment of panic. Spotting a large chest of drawers, Kris quickly hid behind it with only seconds to spare as the door to the bedchamber was opened.

Kris covered her mouth with her hand to keep from crying out when she recognized the pair that had entered. Wearing the same clothes as they had in the portrait, the two women were hand in hand and giggling over some shared secret. The one with the ebony hair turned to the blonde and pulled her close, whispering sweetly into her ear. The words made the shorter woman nearly swoon and the taller one had to adjust her grip on her as she trailed kisses down her soft neck.

Kris wanted to turn away, not wanting to intrude upon this intimate moment, yet felt compelled to watch it. She could almost feel those lips on her skin, the warm breath in her ear…

"I love you, Tyra." The blonde breathed the name as Tyra’s lips found the hollow of her neck.

"And I you, Brinna." Tyra leaned back for a moment, her eyes fixed on the woman before her. "You have made me whole."

"Our souls are one." Brinna pulled Tyra closer, pressing her lips to the taller woman’s in a kiss that made Kris weak in the knees. She remembered this night. It was their first night of passion.

A bead of sweat formed on Kris’ brow as she continued to watch the evening unfold, feeling every kiss, every touch until she was sharing Brinna’s journey completely.

It felt like hours, but Kris realized it was only minutes later when Tyra wrapped her long arms and legs around Brinna in a protective cocoon. "Forever," she whispered into the soft ear beside her lips.

"Forever," Brinna promised as she turned her head to kiss her lover’s mouth, her body pressed firmly against the one that held her close.


Lacy saw the sliver of light and would have run toward it had she not been on her knees. She broke through the small opening and spilled out into the dusty old bedchamber. After a minute of sneezing from the dust, she managed to get to her feet.

"Kris!" She called to her friend, but only heard the faintest whimper in reply. Lacy ran through the enormous chamber, seeing the prone form lying near the door. "Kris!"

Lacy fell to her knees beside her, gently feeling for a pulse. It was a little fast, but strong. She quickly checked Kris for injuries and, satisfied there were none, turned her onto her back. "Hey, you in there?" She tapped Kris’ cheeks, but got no response.

"C’mon, baby. You need to wake up." Lacy pulled Kris onto her lap and held her close, rocking her back and forth. "Please just wake up."


Time seemed to be speeding up as Kris watched Tyra and Brinna move through their lives. It was impossible to tell just how long it went on, but Kris sensed that she was witnessing several months go by with the speed of a VCR on fast-forward.

It eventually stopped at a scene with Tyra sitting on the edge of the bed, her hand idly stroking Brinna’s long hair. Kris felt her heart clench at the sight, knowing that Brinna had cried herself to sleep. "I’m sorry, my love. But there is no other way."

Kris watched intently as Tyra stood and went to a closet on the other side of the room. She carefully pulled out a set of leather armor. What immediately caught Kris’ attention was the sword that was attached to the belt. It was the same sword that she had been holding in her own hand.

Tyra drew the sword and twirled it with expert precision, going through a few practice moves before placing it back in its sheath and putting the armor on. She was adjusting the bracers when Brinna came to her side. Without a word, she fastened the ties that Tyra could not reach and stepped back to look at her warrior.

"Return to me." Brinna said the words so quietly that Kris wasn’t sure she’d heard her right.

But Tyra obviously had because she enveloped the woman in her arms and held her tightly. "I will never leave you."

"You’re certain that killing him is the only way?"

"Yes, Brinna. I am certain."

Brinna nodded against the strong shoulder that she leaned upon, then pulled back enough to reach up and caress Tyra’s cheek. No words were necessary as Tyra leaned forward to kiss her. The kiss seemed to last forever and the emotion of it brought tears to Kris’ eyes.

She watched them part slowly, her eyes never leaving Tyra as the warrior left the chamber.


Lacy gently smoothed back the pale blonde locks from Kris’ face. She leaned over and kissed her lightly on the forehead. "I’m here, Kris."

The words seemed to calm her, but still Kris did not awaken. Lacy reached for her friend’s hand and found the sword there. She carefully removed it from Kris’ grasp, taking hold of the hilt and letting the familiar weight of it settle into her hand.

The sudden jolt stole her breath away. It was all so intense…the pain, the sorrow, the emptiness. Lacy wanted to drop the sword but was unable to release it as the room began to spin around her, coalescing into what must have been its original state.

She found herself standing now, her unsteady legs forcing her to brace herself against a wall as the room slowed. Lacy closed her eyes for a moment to let her equilibrium settle down, hoping the nausea would go away.

When she opened her eyes she found herself looking into sea-green depths that stole her breath again, but in a good way. She didn’t bother to hide the grin. "Hi, there."

Kris returned the smile, placing her hands on Lacy’s shoulders. "Hey. You okay?"

"Sure. I do this all the time." Lacy shrugged and winked at Kris, who shook her head. "No biggie."

Kris stared at Lacy for a moment, then threw her arms around the taller woman and pulled her close. "I was so worried…"

"Hey, I’m okay." Lacy pulled back enough to look into those eyes again. "I really want to know what the hell just happened."

Kris nodded, moving away from Lacy. "I’m not sure, but I think we just traveled into the past. Our own past."

Lacy nodded, taking a look around the room they were in. She nearly dropped the sword when she recognized the altar. Only this time there was a woman lying on it, her hands chained to the stone. Lacy felt her knees go weak when she saw the woman’s face. It was Kris. She started to go to her, but a gentle grip on her arm stopped her.

"They can’t see you."

Lacy whirled around and stared at the sea-green eyes before her. "But that’s–" Lacy stopped when she noticed another person in the room. The woman was hanging by her wrists from the opposite wall. She was angled so she could see the altar, but her head was hanging down and she wasn’t moving. Blood covered what was left of her white shirt and was matted in her thick ebony hair. A bone protruded from her left thigh and a puddle of blood lay at her feet. Her every breath was more labored than the last.

"Yeah. It’s hard to explain, but that’s us–only us in a different life." Kris wrapped her arm around Lacy’s arm, pulling her closer as they watched the pair before them.

"What’s happening to them?"

Kris followed her to Brinna’s side. The woman was naked and covered in blood. Several deep gashes marred her soft skin. "It’s their deaths."

"She’s still conscious," Lacy said, moving toward Tyra. "Are you sure they can’t see us?"

"Actually, no. But they haven’t seen me yet."

"How long have you been here?"

Kris shrugged. "Long enough to see a half dozen months pass, I guess."


"I can’t explain it." Kris shook her head slightly. "It’s like I’ve been watching a movie or something. Most of it happened really fast, but there were times when I felt like I was right there with them. I could feel what Brinna was feeling." Kris touched her chest, her gaze finding Tyra. "I could feel her pain."

"Because she’s you," Lacy spoke softly as her mind tried to process what was happening. "And the other one is me."

"Yeah. I guess so. It’s all so damn strange."

Lacy glanced back at the woman on the altar feeling that all-too-familiar urge to throw up. "Oh, god." She quickly looked away, turning her back to the whole scene. "So you can feel what Brinna is feeling. Why can’t I feel what the other one is feeling?"

"Her name is Tyra and I don’t know." Kris took Lacy’s hand and pulled her away from the altar. "Maybe because you’re not psychic."

"And you are?"

"Well, my mother is." Kris finally admitted. "I mean, she did tell me not to drive on the Levy, remember? I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to figure I must have some psychic abilities, too."

"It’s more of a stretch to believe that those two are us in a former life or whatever." Lacy shook her head. "Do you know who did this to them? Or why we’re even here?"

"It’s the guy from the river."

"The one that grabbed you?"

"No. The one that was wearing the robes and floating on the water. I think his name is Asgar."

Lacy rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, he’s a real winner. He locked me up in here–well, in here in our time–I mean just after he grabbed me–hell, I’m not even sure, but I do know it was this same room. Only the blood wasn’t fresh."

"How’d you get out?"

Lacy pointed to the wall in front of them. "There’s a secret door there. I don’t know how I found it, unless it’s something I knew when I was her." She pointed with her thumb behind them.

"But that makes sense in a way. I mean, we’ve been here before."

"Then why didn’t we escape then?" Lacy asked. "What happened to us?"

"I saw Tyra practicing with that sword," she pointed to the sword Lacy still grasped. "She was damn fast with it and strong, too."

"But not strong enough to save Brinna or herself."

Kris looked at the two women and wondered if she and Lacy would soon be sharing their fate. Was that what they were doing here? Was history repeating itself?

"You–must–not–" The voice surprised them. Both women turned to find Tyra looking at them. "Her blood."

"What?" Lacy quickly moved to the woman’s side. "What about her blood?"

"Asgar needs it," Tyra whispered, her strength waning. "To–open the–the portal. Must have fresh blood–while she lives."

"Portal?" Lacy asked. "As in the one he’s going to use to get to Earth?"

But Tyra had breathed her last, her eyes now closed. Lacy turned to her companion. "Kris, this is a lot and I’m a little more than confused, but I swear I won’t let that sick bastard hurt you--"

"Shh." Kris stopped her as their eyes met again. She found herself unable to look away from the intense blue eyes before her as she felt their connection become complete. Kris saw recognition in those eyes as Lacy realized what was happening. She opened her mouth to speak. "You don’t have to say it. I feel it, too." Kris closed her eyes as Lacy dipped her head to kiss her…then woke up to find herself lying on the floor of the bedchamber with Lacy holding her tightly.

The bedchamber had returned to its state of decay. But more importantly, Kris realized the warm body that held her was very real and very much alive. She looked up to find those pale blue eyes regarding her.

"You were saying?"

Kris smiled as she raised her head and allowed her lips to caress the ones offered up to her.

"Well, I’m pleased that you’ve found each other again."

Lacy tightened her grip on the sword and on Kris. "Asgar." She hissed, pulling them to their feet and positioning herself in front of Kris.

"Very good. Now, we’re going to do this again, only this time you won’t die so quickly. I must have time to get the portal opened." He reached for Kris and nearly lost his arm when the sword came slicing toward it.

"She’s not going anywhere, Asgar. But you are." Lacy began twirling the sword in almost an exact duplication of the way Tyra had wielded it. The expression on Lacy’s face made it clear to Kris that she understood where her newfound skill had come from. A few more precise moves and Lacy seemed to settle into the role of protector, advancing upon Asgar.

She swung the sword with deadly ease, nearly decapitating Asgar when he failed to move quickly enough. It was obvious he had underestimated her. The magician finally drew his own sword to fight back the warrior’s attack.

Lacy eyed the weapon in his hand, a smile crossing her lips. There was a feral look in her eyes that Kris recognized instantly. It was the same look that Tyra had while she drilled for battle.

"You failed to defeat me once before, warrior." Asgar leaned forward, his gaze locked with Lacy’s. "Your weakness brought you defeat." His eyes flicked to where Kris was standing, a second before a flash of light nearly blinded Lacy. Asgar had teleported himself behind her, driving his sword down toward Lacy’s head. But Lacy was faster than he anticipated, bringing her sword above her head for a clean block. She shoved his weapon back and spun around to face him again, slamming her sword into his.

Lacy continued to hammer at her opponent until he was forced against the wall. Swords crossed; it was a battle of wills, Lacy putting forth every ounce of energy she had to over powering Asgar.

But Asgar was stronger and he shoved Lacy away, causing her to stumble and fall, losing the sword when she hit the ground. He raised his weapon to deliver a killing blow.

"No!" Kris wasn’t sure when she reached for it, but found she was holding her gun. She brought it level with Asgar’s chest. "Drop the sword or I’ll shoot."

Asgar hesitated long enough for Lacy to move out of his reach. He slowly lowered his sword. "Your weapon will not harm me, Kris."

"That’s what you think." She pulled back the hammer, her finger wavering near the trigger. She didn’t want to shoot. Didn’t want to take a life.

Asgar smiled, sheathing his sword and moving toward Kris. "You won’t harm me."

"Don’t be so sure." Kris used both hands to keep the weapon steady.

He stopped a few feet away from her, his hands spread out in a gesture of defeat. Kris felt herself relax and in that moment, Asgar attacked. He launched himself at Kris, barely dodging the one shot she fired, before taking her to the ground. The gun clattered to the floor and slid under the bed. Asgar wrapped his arms around Kris and pulled her to her feet. He smiled at Lacy a second before they disappeared in a flash of light.

"Dammit! I’m getting tired of this teleporting crap!" Lacy dove under the bed, retrieved the nine millimeter and tucked it into the back of her jeans. She then grabbed her sword and headed for the secret tunnel, knowing that Asgar would be returning to the room with the altar and praying that this time she wouldn’t be too late.


Kris pulled against the chains that held her to the stone altar, trying to rid her mind of the vision of Brinna’s lifeless body lying as she was now.

Asgar stood beside her, chanting in the language of the ancients, a language that Kris understood. The spell, if she lived long enough, would open a portal to Earth. Just like Lady Marrisa had said.

Asgar removed a dagger from his robes and pressed it against her throat. "With your blood, I will be able to open the portal. I’ll have an entire world at my feet."

"No one is that powerful, Asgar," Kris said, hoping to stall until Lacy could get there. She could sense that her friend was close. "You can’t just take over an entire world the moment you step onto it."

"That’s where you’re wrong. I am as powerful as any god and I will be worshipped as such."

"Nope. Won’t work that way." Lacy was standing in the center of the room, idly twirling her sword. "’Cause you’re not getting to Earth."

Asgar sighed and backed away from Kris. "I should have killed you first. That was my mistake this time."

"No," Lacy maneuvered herself around the altar, getting closer to Asgar as she did. "Your mistake was trying to hurt my friend."

Asgar moved so fast that Lacy did not see him until he had his hand wrapped firmly around her throat. He shoved her against the wall, pinning her there. The sword dropped from her hand as his grip slowly began squeezing her windpipe. "I wanted you to see her die again, but I don’t think I can take that chance."

Lacy grasped his arm with her left hand while trying to pry his fingers loose with her right. The edges of her vision were beginning to darken as she felt her last few gasps of air escape. For a moment her eyes found Kris’ and Lacy knew that this was not their fate.

She slipped her right hand behind her back, trying to pull away from the wall enough to get to the weapon she had tucked into the waist of her jeans.

Asgar increased the pressure on her throat.

Her fingers touched the ridged grip of the gun. The darkness was pulling Lacy in, her strength waning. Her hand tugged the weapon free, its weight reassuring in her grasp.

Pale blue eyes leveled on the face of the man in front of her. He was smiling at her, sure of his victory.

Lacy couldn’t feel her arm, but knew that it was moving to her mind’s commands. Her right hand gripped the weapon tightly, her finger resting on the trigger. She held Asgar’s gaze as she leveled the weapon at his chest and fired.

At first nothing happened. Lacy squeezed off another shot, which caused a slight jerk in Asgar’s body. His grip on her throat loosened slightly. Another shot rang out, followed by several more.

Asgar finally released his hold on her, his body convulsing with each shot fired.

Lacy emptied the clip, her finger still pulling the trigger a few times before she realized there were no more bullets.

Asgar fell to the ground, making gurgling noises as he drowned in his own blood.

Lacy dropped the gun and retrieved her sword, using it to break through the chains binding Kris. The doctor practically jumped off the altar, holding a hand to her neck. "Timing. We have got to work on timing."

"You’re okay?"

"Yeah. You?"

Lacy nodded, leaning against the altar as the intensity of the past few minutes finally caught up to her. Kris was immediately at her side, her hand touching the side of Lacy’s face, urging her to look up. Their eyes met and no more words were necessary. Kris let her fingers trace Lacy’s full lips as they moved closer…


The fog swirled around them in snake like patterns, moving between them with an unnatural speed. Kris held tightly to Lacy as they both fought to remain standing, hoping that the spinning would end.

It did and they released each other slowly. Lacy took a quick look around. They were standing at the back of her pick up truck. Kris’ car was just a few feet away.

"Holy weirdness, Batman. We’re back."

Kris chuckled and moved away from Lacy, fishing her cell phone out of her satchel. She turned it on and her breath caught in her throat. "It’s a quarter ‘til twelve. Just about five minutes after our accident."

"Are you sure?" Lacy took the phone, confirming the date and time were correct. "All that and we’re back here…in five minutes time?"


"It did happen, right? I mean, we didn’t dream it or something. Did we?"

Kris looked down at Lacy’s right hand, gently lifting it and the sword upward. "Um, yeah. I’m pretty sure it all happened."

"Good, because I thought I was crazy for a minute there."

"Well, if you’re crazy, then so am I."

"Is this crazy?" Lacy asked as she dipped her head for a kiss. "Is it crazy to tell you that I’m in love with you and I can’t imagine my life without you?"

"Completely insane." Kris grabbed Lacy’s head and pulled her closer for more kisses. "But," they kissed again, "I feel," another kiss, "the same way." Another kiss, this one lasting longer than the others and holding more promise than any kiss ever did.

"Good," Lacy breathed against Kris’ lips. "I didn’t want to be crazy by myself. It’d be too boring."

Kris laughed, burying her face in Lacy’s shoulder. "So, what about the cars?"

"Well, do you have a cell signal?"

Kris shook her head. "Nope."

"Then I guess we walk."

Sea-green eyes narrowed in mock anger. "Not a chance in hell."

"Then don’t be asking me for advice if you don’t want it. You hit me remember?"

Kris threw her arms up in frustration. "Oh, we’re back to that are we?"

"Hell yes!"


The End

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