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Second Chance Series 3: Prophet

Second Chance Series 3: Prophet

Автор Paul Green

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Second Chance Series 3: Prophet

Автор Paul Green

Длина:
839 страниц
7 часов
Издатель:
Издано:
20 дек. 2010 г.
ISBN:
9781458039491
Формат:
Книга

Описание

Time waits for no man. Or does it? Ancient times and ancient travels. These are what await you as you learn more about the mystery known as Elias. Join the companions for a bigger story, a bigger adventure, a bigger and badder adversary, and delicious new twists and turns. Plus gain new insight into the mysterious new entities introduced in Book Two: Awakening. And George. A powerful story and the epic conclusion to Part One in the world of the Second Chance.

Издатель:
Издано:
20 дек. 2010 г.
ISBN:
9781458039491
Формат:
Книга

Об авторе

Winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Paul Green (1894-1981) taught philosophy and drama at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a native of Harnett County, North Carolina.


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Second Chance Series 3 - Paul Green

Second Chance Series • Book Three

PROPHET

paul green

Copyright Notice

Second Chance Series

Book Three: PROPHET

Copyright © 2010 by Paul Green. All Rights Reserved.

First Printing: October 2010

Second Printing: August 2011

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.

For further information, contact info@paulgreenauthor.com

www.SecondChanceNovels.com

Second Chance Series

Part One

Book 1: BEGINNINGS

Book 2: AWAKENING

Book 3: PROPHET

Part Two

Book 4: REVENANT

Book 5: PRODIGAL

Book 6: AVALON - Part 1

Book 6: AVALON - Part 2

Part Three

Book 7: TRIBE

Book 8: SEED

Book 9: ENDGAME

www.SecondChanceNovels.com

www.TalesFromCamelot.com

Beginning 2013

Prophet Chronicles series

For further information contact info@paulgreenauthor.com

Table of Contents

Cover Page

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Second Chance Series

Reader Recommendation

Acknowledgements

What Has Gone Before...

Dedication

Cover Page

From the author ...

~ Prologue ~

~ Visitors From Olympus ~

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

~ The Valley ~

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

~ Lost ~

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

~ The Guide ~

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

~ Distant Shores ~

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

~ Rescue ~

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

~ Land of Mist ~

Chapter 27

~ Nightmare ~

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

~ The Cottage ~

~ Deliverance ~

Chapter 33

~ Wizard ~

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

~ Dark Ages ~

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

~ The Darkness of Night ~

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

~ Valley of Death ~

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

~ The Light of Day ~

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

~ Affirmation ~

Chapter 88

Chapter 89

Chapter 90

~ Homecoming ~

Chapter 92

Chapter 93

Chapter 94

Chapter 95

~ Pronunciations ~

~ Notes to the Reader ~

Preview of Book Four: REVENANT

Second Chance Series

Tales From Camelot Series

About the Author . . .

Footnotes

Reader Recommendation

Due to the unique subject matter, this series will appeal to a very broad audience: teen to elderly, male and female alike.

Although some parts may be considered to be too intense for pre-teen or younger readers. Ages 13 and up recommended.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to all my reviewers. Your input has been invaluable.

Special thanks to Aunt Dot, for all your hard work in proofreading these novels. But as you know, this is all your fault for reading all those stories to me as a little tike.

Special thanks to Pat Guyton for taking the time to teach me cool stuff with Photoshop.

Thank you to my son Christopher for his help in designing the covers.

And extra special thanks to the One who gave me the desire to write.

What Has Gone Before...

Second Chance Series: BEGINNINGS

A Brief Synopsis of Book One

Book One opens with the story of Ben Davison, a bitter, 60 year old hermit, who's been living alone for the last ten years since his wife left him and he lost his highly-treasured job. He and his ex-wife Susan were unable to have kids and they never adopted, so he truly was alone.

A former Physics Engineer/Inventor, Ben also sometimes suffers from an overactive imagination and lives in his little reclusive world of TV, movies and books.

Ben receives a unexpected visit to his little hideaway from a stranger who offers him a Second Chance at life. The stranger also reveals to him that a former coworker, Vincent, has discovered the unfinished plans to one of his supposedly wacky inventions, a man-made, manageable micro black hole, intended for use as a potential energy source. Naturally, the ambitious coworker manages to lose control and now the world will be ending soon.

At this point, little is known about the stranger, other than his name is Elias and he is old enough to have once made breakfast for Abraham Lincoln.

The stranger tells Ben he can grant him a one-way trip back in time, his own personal memory being the vehicle. Once there, he will live out his full life again, while still retaining all of his memories. And save the world.

Ben returns to the age of 14. In addition to his youth, Ben is immediately confronted with the fact that his father is still alive, as well as his little brother David, who had long ago been tragically killed in an auto accident as a teen.

The story then deals with the fun of an old man learning to be a teenager again. Now armed with the advantage of both hindsight and wisdom, Ben is better able to avoid some of his earlier pitfalls.

Of course, chief among the pitfalls he fully intends to avoid, is the burgeoning romance with his high-school sweetheart, who later became his wife and eventually left him. Unfortunately these plans go awry, as it turns out Elias also sent his ex-wife Susan back as well.

The story then follows Ben and Susan though high school and several interesting adventures. With his ex-wife now turned once-again girlfriend and their two best friends from school, Stuart and Zagnut, they form a sort of Scooby gang, to find and locate his nemesis. Ben has also decided to save the world now, rather than later - and Elias shows up as well, to lend a hand.

We also learn that something terrible had happened to Stuart and Zagnut later on in college. It was that tragic event that initiated the downward spiral of Ben and Susan's failed marriage. Ben and Susan hope to one day prevent that from happening, as well as what had happened to his little brother David.

The story also develops his nemesis, Vincent Antonescu, his coworker from the future. But also the influence behind the coworker, which turns out to be a demon named Fallow. We learn that Vincent originates from Baja California, where his father, Victor Antonescu, a Nazi war criminal in hiding, has raised him to be a ruthless slave owner. The slaves are the small, local Indians that have been imported from Oaxaca, Mexico into the Baja region.

Vincent has already killed many people in his continuing quest for power, including his father and his own mother, Selena. Among his victims, one survived ... a small Indian slave boy named Ramón, whom Vincent had originally befriended, but eventually murdered. Or so he thought.

The climax of the story occurs when the gang finally locates Vincent, in San Jose, CA, during the pioneer days of Silicon Valley. While remorseless with all others, Vincent's guilt at killing Ramón has continued to haunt him and erodes at his sanity.

Staying at a local campsite on the outskirts of San Jose, Elias introduces the gang to Ramón and his young fiancé, Monica. There they learn the two small Indians are the secret weapon.

Vincent is forced to face his 'ghosts' - including a very much alive Ramón and Monica. Ben makes the decision to sacrifice himself, knowing it would ultimately push Vincent over the edge, psychologically.

Vincent kills Ben by driving a machete through his heart, and does indeed turn insane upon doing so. Selena and Victor, his mother and father, then show up in his destroyed mind, resulting in his gruesome death.

Elias and another hidden 'entity' deal directly with the demon Fallow.

But all is not lost. For against his directive to interfere in other people's lives, Elias makes the decision to bring his friend Ben back to life.

He also 'fixes' the problem with Ben and Susan being unable to have children, as an extra bonus.

The book ends with Ben and Susan's wedding.

Second Chance Series: AWAKENING

A Brief Synopsis of Book Two

The entire setting for Book 2 takes place in Hawaii, primarily on the Big Island. Though not specifically stated, the approximate future setting is the year 2018; the past setting is 1975, three days after the events of Book 1.

The story opens with a 60 year old grandmother named Alana Swan, who lives on a beautiful Hawaiian ranch, where they raise horses. Her name, Alana, is Hawaiian, meaning 'Awakening'. Being a mixture of Asian and Caucasian, Alana could easily be mistaken as being Hawaiian. But her most striking feature is her long, jet-black hair; it was so black, it almost seemed blue.

Along with her husband Michael, three children and several grandchildren, she has lived her entire life on the ranch. Also living on the ranch are her Japanese mother, Kiyoko, and American father, Frank, who met during WWII and started the ranch.

The only problem is, unbeknownst to her, it was all a Dream. For Alana has been in a coma since she was 17 years old. She had been in a car accident with her boyfriend Michael, and the two sidekicks from Book 1, Stuart and Zagnut. Michael had been at the wheel.

Alana also had a regularly visiting friend during her many long years in Dream - Elias.

Regarding her boyfriend Michael, so far as he knew, Alana had been killed along with Stuart and Zagnut in the tragic crash. Enter Michael, who is now 62 years old, and dying of lung cancer. He never married, and has become a ruthless and manipulative businessman, specializing in military technology. He had overseen the original development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) under Ronald Reagan. But where the public thought it had failed and been disbanded, Michael had finished it through to fruition and it was now secretly fully functional and in place.

Michael had been close friends with the current sitting U.S. President since college. President Kale Onakea also hales from the state of Hawaii, on the same Big Island as Alana. But now the 'troubled' president was getting out of control, and planned to use the technology to help spread democracy to rest of world - forcibly if necessary; for he was under the thrall of a powerful demon. This would soon result in World War III and the end of the world.

With only 2 weeks left to live, Elias shows up and offers Michael his Second Chance. Initially Michael couldn't have cared less about second chances, much less saving the world. But when Elias shocks him with the news that Alana is still alive, he agrees to go back, if for no other reason than to prevent Alana's accident. But Michael is certainly not the hero Ben was in Book 1.

Alana too, goes back. Except for her, it is a terrible and heartbreaking decision; for she must leave behind the only life she has known - including her children and grandchildren from her Dream, never to see them again. Elias finally convinces her to do so, by taking her to the hospital room where she had been sequestered for forty five years since the accident. In 'Ghost of Christmas Present' style, she sees the 'true' Michael visiting her comatose body for the first time, just prior to his departure to the past.

The middle of the story picks up in 1975. Now as a young man, Michael wants to rekindle his relationship with Alana. But she is a ghost of her former self, for Alana is unable to deal with the loss of her family from her Dream. And to make matters worse, Michael is not the same kind and loving person from her Dream fantasy.

Enter Ben and his wife Susan from Book 1. They are on their honeymoon, with Stuart and Zagnut along for the ride; Stuart and Zagnut are planning on entering the University of Hawaii on Oahu, in the fall. Ben and Susan plan on returning home after the honeymoon, where Ben will return to work at his father-in-law's hardware store.

Michael then shows up on the beach in Waikiki, for this was when he first met Stuart and Zagnut from before. He introduces them to Roxanne and Michelle, who had also become their girlfriends the last time around, before the accident.

Eventually Elias also shows up and connects Alana up with Susan, who becomes a much needed friend and help. Even though they are all very different from each other, it is because of their amazing shared pasts and their gifts of a Second Chance, that Susan and Alana, as well as Ben and Michael, soon become close friends.

During the entire course of the book, we also follow the journey of Michael's transformation into a caring and loving person.

Together, they help Alana begin returning to the world of reality. But they also learn that Alana has many special abilities, in part due to her long time in Dream. Among which, she can not only enter back into Dream at will, but prevent others from returning.

There is also an interesting side story about Alana's mother, Kiyoko, and an adventure she once shared with Elias as a small child, resulting from a shipwreck. It turns out Kiyoko and Elias have known each other all this time, and that Elias even knew Kiyoko's own mother and father as well. The shipwreck itself had been caused by another unknown demon inside a storm. Elias had rescued Kiyoko and her parents from drowning, and Kiyoko had in turn rescued Elias from the deadly sting of a Sea Wasp jellyfish.

We then learn more about Alana's uniqueness. Never having experienced the things in real life that scar and jade most adults, she is extremely pure; in every sense of the word. We learn a little more about Alana and Elias, and that they seem to have a close father/daughter type of relationship.

We learn that the demon is none other than Pele herself, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Ben and Michael make a foolish, early attempt to secretly take on Pele, who appears in the form of a dragon. It is then learned that Ben knew early on of Alana's intention to face Pele herself, and was in all actuality trying to save her. Fortunately, Elias, Alana and Susan arrive in the nick of time to rescue them from Pele's Dream attack.

Another interesting side story is that of George Croft - not the least of which is the fact that George is actually a woman! She is strong, aggressive, headstrong and extremely driven. She is nearly 40 years old, and an avid fitness buff. Working out for four hours a day for most of her adult life, George is also a 4th Degree black belt in martial arts and likes weapons. She is assistant to Michael's father, Mr. Swan, who is the CIO of the entire Hilton Hotel corporation.

Due to a great lack of parenting skills on the part of Michael's parents, she also helped raise Michael. Twice. For George herself had been given a Second Chance, returning the second time around, just before Michael's birth. Except in her case, both times she had failed. It also turns out she was the one who had cared for Alana since the accident, and all throughout her life during Alana's coma. George also has a great soft spot for Alana.

Susan also tries to play matchmaker between George and Julian, George's assistant of several years. Susan achieves limited success, in spite of George's reluctance.

Finally, the others learn of Alana's true purpose. By returning to the world of Dream, she can close the door and prevent the demon dragon Pele from ever returning. But in so doing, Alana will also be unable to return. For once the door is closed, her only option will be to either suffer at the hands of Pele, or return to her sleep. And it is only Alana who can do it; not even Elias. For only one is in truly 'pure in heart' may open the door. But her sacrifice would eventually end up saving the world, as the future President Kale would no longer be under Pele's influence.

As the climax scene plays out, Alana does indeed open the door and steps into Dream. But Elias intervenes at the last moment and pulls her aside, stepping through the open door in her stead, thereby sacrificing himself. Elias tells his beloved Alana goodbye, to have a good life, and he closes the door, just as the demon dragon begins to attack from the other side.

The next scene is some sort of mystical, heavenly type of setting, where Elias is with his wife and another couple, their two friends. Very little is revealed about the four of them , except that they seem to be ancient. It turns out that it was the other mysterious man who had somehow rescued Elias from Pele.

Because it is not yet Elias' 'time', he reluctantly leaves his wife, and returns to a startled Alana, who had been left in tears thinking he was being tormented. Alana manages to get a brief glimpse of Elias' wife, Shira, and the other mysterious couple, before they disappear. But not before Shira surprisingly greets Alana by name.

The story begins to draw to a close the following year, with Alana and Michael's Hawaiian wedding on the ranch. Elias performs another miracle by repairing and finishing Alana's brand new ranch house, that had almost been accidentally destroyed by Zagnut, from fooling around with the wiring. After Book 1 and now Book 2, it seems that Elias had a rather unique idea of wedding gifts. In fact, he seems to enjoy them. For in addition to Alana's wedding dress and the now refurbished house, he leaves for her one last parting gift: a small scroll with a message.

Now with Ben and Susan's new jobs for the Hilton Hotel corporation ... with George as their boss, now less ... they purchase a small plot of land near Alana's ranch. Stuart and Zagnut have entered college in Oahu, along with their girlfriends, Michelle and Roxanne.

The story reaches its conclusion the following spring, where both Susan and Alana are about to give birth. George is also there, where it is confirmed she still has her own story to be told. Susan gives birth to twins, and Alana gives birth to Jenny, her same firstborn daughter from her Dream. For as Elias's surprising wedding message had revealed, Alana's Dream had not been a Dream after all. It had been a vision of her own future.

Alana will be getting her entire family back from her Dream, after all.

Dedication

Dedicated to . . .

My father.

You were and always will be my hero.

I wish you could have read this one. You would have loved it.

From the author ...

Well, here it is.

Book Three and the conclusion to Part One. But fear not, for this is not the last that you will see of the characters. Part Two of the series will indeed continue their story.

I was surprised at how painful it was in bringing this first chapter to a close; for I have grown very fond of the characters over these last three books. I hope you have, as well.

I am very glad that I get to continue on with Book Four. I think I will need a lot of Kleenex and some serious therapy after Book Nine.

Book Three is definitely more epic in scope. I really begin opening the world up here - so much so, I was very nervous about it. You will know once you get 'there' (about one third of the way through the book).

However, despite the initial reservations that you may have upon first arriving 'there', if I can win you over by the time you reach the end, it will make this journey worthwhile, and you will find yourself very much looking forward to future stories, in the vast world of the Second Chance.

~ Prologue ~

They reached the entrance without being spotted. While the cave was strictly forbidden by the village council, they were far more afraid of their parents finding out. Though she was fifteen and he was sixteen, they had been engaged for all of her fifteen years. As was customary, their marriage had been pre-arranged since birth.

Sometimes arranged marriages worked out nicely. Other times ... not so much.

But in this case, both knew very well how this marriage would turn out. For not only had they known each other their entire lives, they had grown up the closest of friends and quite fond of each other. Perhaps a little too much so lately.

Of course, the hardest part was getting away from their parents who watched them like hawks. But with the wedding ceremony only three months away, the two most definitely needed to be watched!

Holding hands, they entered the cave and began looking for a pleasant spot to sit, away from the entrance.

You are not as smart as you think you are. she said.

So you always tell me. But have I not succeeded in luring you into my lair?

Perhaps I do not give you enough credit. she said warily. However shall I escape from your clutches?

Clutches you say? he laughed, as he grabbed her and began tickling her.

That's not fair! she laughed, trying to tickle him back. You're bigger!

He continued to hold her hands tightly for a moment, and then finally let go. Stepping back, he looked at her. She had long, jet-black hair, cascading about her shoulders.

You ... are so... he began to say; but was unable to finish as he gazed into her green eyes.

She smiled back at him, and ran her fingers through his dark brown hair. I am so ... what, my love?

So, so, so beautiful. How did fortune smile upon me so? What have I done to deserve one such as you?

If you were to ask my father, she replied coyly, he would tell you when you completed your apprenticeship.

It was the culture of the day, for one to take a wife when they completed their training as an apprentice in their chosen craft, typically at age sixteen. For that's when they were considered to be a man and ready to take on the responsibility of providing for a family. Carpenters, merchants and farmers were popular choices in this region. But his size and his strength had better suited him to become a stone mason.

And if I were to ask you?

She sighed. It was when you first looked at me.

But you were just a baby! he exclaimed.

No, my love, I mean when you first really looked at me.

He smiled. And I've never been able to take my eyes off of you since. Then he kissed her.

She laid out a blanket, upon which they both sat. Opening a leather sack, she placed a clean cloth atop the blanket, and set out a small loaf of bread and some cheese. And as they ate, they talked and they laughed, they made plans and reaffirmed their love for one another.

After finishing their lunch, he leaned over to kiss her once more. But he stopped suddenly when they heard sounds coming from deep within the cave. It sounded like ... whispering! And not from just one, but a multitude.

Stay here. he said quietly, as he began to head back towards an alcove to investigate.

Be careful! she warned.

Then he began to see shadows deep within the cave. Many shadows. And they were beginning to come forward. Reaching down, he grabbed a handful of rocks in his powerful hands, and hid behind a small recess to wait for them.

And as he watched the shadows move, he began to know fear for the first time in his life. For the shadows did not move as a man moved. Nor as an animal. He knew what they were, just as surely as he knew that coming here was a very, very bad idea.

Dropping the rocks, he ran back towards the girl and pulled her to her feet.

We must leave! NOW!

The whispering behind them grew quickly in volume as the shadows entered the alcove where he had just stood.

As fast as their feet could take them, they ran to the front of the cave. Reaching the entrance and without looking back, they continued running out into the safe sunlight and up the riverbank, beyond where the hidden cave had kept its terrible secrets for ages past.

Upon reaching the top of the embankment, they finally stopped to catch their breaths.

They were safe.

They looked at each other with terrified eyes, knowing how foolish they had been. His only thought was that this was not the way for a man to guard and protect his family to be. And he was ashamed.

But their worries were far from over. For it was then, that another frightening sound reached their ears. Far off in the distance they heard people screaming! They ran a short distance ahead to get a clear view of what they feared they might see.

And that's when they saw the smoke. Nearly two miles away, the village was under attack!

He began to run, but she stopped him. It is too late! she cried.

He saw that she was right. For even from this distance, they could see that nearly every building in the village had been burned or destroyed.

He didn't recognize the attackers. But riding on horseback and armed with swords and shields, he knew their village had never stood a chance. For what hope could a few dozen villagers armed with plowshares and pruning hooks have against such might?

As Elias and Shira held each other and watched, they wept for the loss of their families and friends, and for the life they had known.

~ Visitors From Olympus ~

Chapter 1

High atop the tallest building in the city, stood a tall man in a dark brown cloak. He had long white hair, and carried a staff. Elias watched as the cars and trucks passed by on the freeway below.

Long ago, this had been his home.

He had come here, as he always did when visiting this region, to pay tribute. And to remember.

Having been deep in thoughts and memory for the past couple of hours, he never heard the person come up behind him. Startled by the hand on his shoulder, Elias immediately relaxed when he saw who it was.

Not as tall as Elias, the man had long dark hair, dark eyes and a beard just a few weeks old.

Elias smiled at him. Good to see you, my friend.

The man nodded and remained respectfully quiet for a time, as Elias turned back around and looked out once more.

I'm sure it seems like yesterday. the man said, after a time.

Indeed it does. Elias never took his eyes off the small distant riverbed two miles away. Growing a beard again, I see?

I think they're starting to come back.

Do you, now? Elias laughed. And since when did you start caring about being fashionable?

The man snorted.

Did she make you dye your hair again, too? Elias teased.

You know how she gets sometimes. the man laughed. What about you? How come Shira doesn't...

When you are as good looking as me...

She's right. You really aren't as smart as you think you are.

Elias chuckled.

The man came forward and stood beside Elias, joining him in looking at the distant riverbed. I assume they are still planning to build? the man asked.

They are. Already they begin to send survey teams to the area.

Then I guess it's time.

Indeed.

After you, my friend. said the man.

No, no. Age before beauty.

Chapter 2

Alana woke with a start.

Sweetheart, what is it? asked Michael, as she had woken him from a deep sleep. Then he noticed she was shaking and covered in sweat.

Elias! she exclaimed.

Elias? What about Elias? What's going on?

I ... I don't know.

What, did you have a bad Dream or something?

I need to talk to him.

Now!? It's three in the morning!

Without replying, she rose and put on a robe, then left the room. Michael sighed. Alana was very level headed, so he knew that whatever it was, it was likely something to be concerned about. He sat up in bed to patiently wait for her return.

Alana went outside to the front porch of their house. She wasn't cold, for in Hawaii, even the middle of the night was room temperature. Closing the door quietly so as not to wake the baby, she sat down in the new, but very familiar, rocking chair that Michael and her father had recently made for her.

She closed her eyes and pictured the ranch from her Dream vision, where she and Elias still met on occasion when he was away.

As she feared, he was not there.

Chapter 3

Susan loved watching Ben play with the twins. They were now six months old, and she couldn't imagine that life could get any better.

Having already spent a lifetime with Ben, now at only nineteen, she had never known such fulfillment. Those two precious bundles of joy had changed their lives dramatically; and for the better. And she never wanted these moments to end.

Not even the nighttime feedings. Though a young mother, she was also old enough and wise enough to know how fast time flies, and she fully intended to enjoy every tired, achy and sleepless second of it. She knew a time would come soon enough, where she would look back and long for these moments again.

Nor did she mind the four of them sleeping in the same room. Until Ben finished the rest of the house, they were limited to a kitchen, one bathroom and one bedroom.

At 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, she was surprised to hear the clip clop of horses.

Ben, Alana's here! Michael too!

Really? Okay, be right there.

Ben picked up the twins and carried them both to the door, just as Susan was opening it.

Where's Jenny? Susan asked.

We left her with Kiyoko. replied Michael.

I think mom would move in with us if we let her, just to be around Jenny more often. Alana laughed. Speaking of which, she also said you were more than welcome to drop these two off, as well.

She sure loves being surrounded by babies, doesn't she? said Ben.

Are you kidding me? said Michael. And Frank's just as bad!

Well, come in! What are you guys doing here so early? Susan asked, giving them each a hug.

Alana's smile quickly wore off.

Alana, is something wrong? asked Susan.

It's Elias. said Michael.

I can't find him. Alana said. Anywhere.

Alana!

I'm not sure, but ... I think something's happened to him.

They sat down at the kitchen table while Alana told them about the Dream that she had. Or vision. Or premonition. Or whatever it was. Nobody knew for sure.

So ... all you really saw in your Dream or vision was that little park on the cliff top? Nothing else? No ... you know ... grrrrrr? Susan said, making a monster face.

No. Nothing else.

And you didn't see Elias when you.... Ben never knew what to call it when Alana and Elias had their bizarre little chats in Alana's mind ... or his mind ... or wherever the heck they had them.

I think I'm supposed to go there.

You mean, back to the cliff? Susan asked.

Alana nodded her head.

She's not comfortable going back there yet. said Michael.

Indeed, none of them had been back there. Not since what had almost happened to Alana the last time.

You want us to go with you? Susan asked.

Alana nodded again.

Well let's saddle up and mosey on out there, little lady! said Ben, in the worst possible John Wayne impression ever.

Alana laughed as Susan rolled her eyes.

*** *** ***

After they dropped off the twins with a very happy Kiyoko, they rode on horseback out to the beach area, just below the cliffs. They hardly spoke on the way over, and continued to remain silent after they arrived.

The place was more than a little eerie. For even though it had been nearly two years, what had happened there was still fresh in all of their minds.

It was overcast and misty. Fortunately this was horse country and there was a small area for horses with a canopy, where they would stay dry. As they hitched up the horses, Alana was the first to break the silence.

I miss coming here. she said. It had always been Alana's favorite place to visit while out riding.

You know, we should just start coming back here and make it our place again. offered Susan.

Great idea! said Michael. We'll get Zag, Stu and the girls out and have ourselves a luau!

You know, it's not so bad when you think about it. said Ben. All you gotta do is picture Elias falling down the steps and running away from Alana like a wild man!

Everyone laughed and started to lighten up a little. But when they began climbing the steps, the eeriness settled back in. By the time they reached the top, they had all grown extremely wary.

And well they should. For they had a visitor waiting for them.

Upon reaching the top, they were surprised to find someone standing there, with their back towards them, staring out into the ocean.

But no one was as shocked as Alana, when the person turned around and faced them. Alana's heart nearly stopped.

Hello Alana.

It was Shira.

Chapter 4

Alana was speechless, and stood and stared with her mouth open.

Of course, the others had no idea who this stranger was either. When they finally got a clue that Alana knew, they tried to ask her; but Alana just wasn't capable of forming words.

She had only once before gotten a brief glimpse of Shira; it was in some sort of heavenly type of setting. She had even looked like an angel, completely surrounding by a bright, white aura! And when the beautiful being had greeted her by name, it had taken her breath away.

They had later learned from Elias that it was Shira, his wife. And because Elias had never explained what or where that garden place was, no one really knew if she was an angel or spirit or ... what?

But now, here she was.

And she was very real.

Shira was dressed in a simple, full-length, tan-colored cotton garb that was cinched at the waist with a green cloth belt that matched the color of her eyes. She stood there with her hands folded in front of her, smiling at Alana.

Do not be afraid child. I am no ghost.

Alana had a hard time getting her name out, but after some trial and error, she finally succeeded.

S-S-Sh-Shira?

At the mention of her name, Susan gasped as her hand flew to her mouth. It took another moment or two to register with Ben and Michael, but when it did, they too gasped in surprise.

It is good to see you well, Alana. And Jenny, how is she?

Jenny ... is ... fine! Thank you.

That Alana had managed to get out a full sentence was a miracle, in and of itself.

And Susan? How are little Daniel and little Sara?

Now it was Susan's turn to be speechless. Staring at Shira wide-eyed, she could no more than nod.

Ben? Michael? I trust you two are watching over your families and staying out of trouble?

And just like Susan, they, too, both just nodded with eyes as large as saucers.

No more ... chasing after dragons, I hope?

No, maam. they barely managed to squeak out.

Susan was the first to finally begin to regain control of her speech faculties. How ... how do you know who we are? And ... what are you doing here?

Why, I am here to find that senseless husband of mine, of course. Why don't we go down below where we can sit and talk, and be more comfortable, shall we? Then Shira walked past them and began heading down the steps.

They looked at each other for a moment, and then quickly turned to follow after her.

As they seated themselves at a picnic table on the beach, the sun had finally begun coming out from behind the clouds and the area didn't seem so eerie any more.

The obvious exception being the person sitting there with them. Shira had long, black hair and dark green eyes. She was very beautiful, and ... ageless. Was she twenty? Thirty? Forty? Fifty? It was impossible to tell. But her poise and her grace indicated she was no youngster.

The companions were in awe. It was if a Greek goddess had just stepped down from Mount Olympus for a chat. They didn't even know how to address her!

Well, I must say, it has been quite some time since I have received such ... attention. she said, looking at the

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