Oh my goodness – I can’t believe I missed a week!! I’ve been crazy busy with life stuff, some good, some fairly awful, but things will right themselves, they always do. Also, I’ve been rediscovering the joys of photoshop! For years my precious, but ancient, HP all-in-one computer just hasn’t been strong enough to be able to use photoshop. But now, with my gorgeous (and not anywhere close to top of the line, yet still MILES ahead of my PC) laptop I can officially create my OWN covers! A very exciting step forward that I have been obsessed with morning and night for the last week plus. But that’s because I’m hoping to release Pandora’s Curse, the complete and edited version, later this month. So naturally a gorgeous cover is required. I can’t wait to show you all it!
Now, onto the next chapter!
‘Hurry! HURRY! Get them to the infirm!’
‘What can it be?’
‘Get back! All of you!’
Voices swam in and out of Eoin’s head, light and images too, like instant snapshots of moments that then blurred beyond recognition. His body seemed to float one moment then jolt away unpleasantly the next. His mind tried again and again to make his mouth say her name, but it wouldn’t work, he could barely even groan, tongue thick and awkward in his mouth.
‘She’s unconscious! Quick!’
‘Please stay calm, we don’t need you all here. Some space please.’
Eoin clung to that calm, assured voice as the floating sensation continued then suddenly stopped. Eyes fluttering, he moaned when heat flushed his skin before a sudden a cooling weight touched his forehead. He sighed in relief.
‘Fevers, loss of consciousness, what could they have possibly picked up?’
‘I thought we were impervious to almost everything.’
‘We’d better quarantine them.’
The voices vanished just as Eoin turned cold, body shivering teeth chattering. It made the swelling heat in his mind feel even worse.
Time and space merged chaotically within his head. No longer did the voices creep in, instead blurring colours that surged and throbbed, leaving him in a permanent state of nausea. Searing heat flooding the length of his body that seemed to float weightlessly until the aching cold crept along, turning his limbs to dead ice leaving him gasping for breath.
Eoin opened his eyes.
A gentle throbbing sound filled his ears as his eyes took in the timber ceiling above. It took a moment to realise the sound was rain, heavy rain on the roof. The smell in the air was fresh and clean and he turned his head toward it, spotting the propped open window.
A sound caught his attention, head snapping around in a manner that wrenched his neck muscles, making his stomach lurch and eyes water. Mind spinning from the unexpected jolt of pain, he took a moment to register the figure on the bed parallel to his.
Limbs stiff from disuse shocked and concerned him as Eoin struggled to sit up, then turn and lower himself to the floor. The cooling sensation the wood floor gave through the soles of his feet made him realise they’d passed into their rainy season. How long have we been out of it? Were we away that long? The thoughts troubled him as he reached his wife’s side.
Flushed with fever, Ally moaned when he gently stroked her face. Eoin jerked his hand away, alarmed and horrified. What had he done?
They found him crouched beside her bed, head resting on his hands as he watched her fitful sleep.
At the soft sound of footfall Eoin lifted his head, turning to look dolefully over his shoulder.
Ally’s father, Councillor Cato, stood watching him from the doorway.
‘It’s good to see you well, Eoin,’ Cato said, mouth passive but eyes alert as always. ‘What did you find on your travels?’ He walked to Ally’s bed and sat in the seat at the foot of it. Eoin stared at his wife’s face, mind considering the safe option to answer.
‘We found a Promethean Lab,’ Eoin said slowly, reluctantly turning his gaze from Ally’s face, to her father’s sombre expression. The man had the same dark hair and violet eyes as Ally, common traits in hunters. But his lips were thin where Ally’s were full and his sharp cheekbones leant him an oriental look. Ally’s mother, whom Eoin fervently wished where here this moment, had the classic strong face of a woman born to this area but, quite remarkably given both her parents were blond, had dark hair to go with light blue eyes.
It was these little changes, the changes to eye and hair colour which had their scientists excited, desperately hoping for a natural evolution of their created species. To escape the genetic shackles imposed on them by humans so they might truly be able to live. To reproduce at a rate that would sustain their population; which at the current rate meant the inevitable extinction of their species.
Eoin felt no guilt for his intentions with his created virus. The world needed this change. Change HAD to happen. But with his beautiful wife lying prone, limp with fever before him, the sense of devastation he’d unwittingly wielded on her made him furious at himself.
Why hadn’t he been quicker with the gun!
Cato cleared his throat. ‘How did you know it was a Promethean Lab? What made it different to the other labs discovered?’
Eoin blinked, mind freezing for a moment. ‘Oh! Uhh, well the microscope in the vehicle I brought back for you, that was from the lab. The equipment was capable of performing various medical procedures for a Promethean body. It understood our differences compared to humans.’ He found himself babbling away, avoiding any mention of Holi or the genetic printing machine.
Cato focused on Eoin’s first sentence, a pleased smile spreading. ‘That microscope is for me?’
‘It is,’ Eoin said with a sense of relief.
‘It looks far more advanced, we haven’t found anything like that before. And that vehicle!’
Eoin nodded in agreement, half wincing when his brain protested at the motion, dehydration creeping up on him. ‘A moment,’ he said to Cato and standing, he walked the few steps to the table between the beds, pouring himself a cup of water. Cato shook his head when Eoin inclined the jug toward him.
‘No. But what are your thoughts? Have the human labs we found been older?’
‘Actually,’ Eoin said croakily, the water replenishing then almost parching his throat as his body greedily embraced it. ‘I suspect the human labs are younger. Created after the Event. It would explain why they’ve never had provisions for Prometheans.’
‘Created at the time of the shift?’ Cato said thoughtfully, referring innocuously to that infamous time in their history when Prometheans realised they could sit at the top of the food chain. With humans an easy prey. Eoin suspected, even with as genteel and welcoming as Cato was toward humans who chose to coexist with them in their town, that he’d make no objections to a return to such ways. Cato was imminently pragmatic when it came to the fate of their opposing species. Survival of the fittest and all. Eoin however wasn’t as short-sighted.
‘Yes,’ Eoin said. ‘At the time and after. It would also explain why certain pieces of equipment didn’t fit the others.’
‘What made you choose the microscope as the gift for me?’ Cato asked, eyes veiled as he leaned back in his seat. The tone made Eoin inwardly cringe. Always testing. Always wanting him to admit he wasn’t good enough for Ally; didn’t matter that it was her choice.
He couldn’t help the derisive exhalation and it caused Cato’s eyes to narrow.
Ally whimpered. Both men dropped the rising sense of contention and leaned toward the woman, Eoin gently picking her hand up.
Ally’s eyes fluttered and he leaned closer, switching hands so to stroke her face gently.
She gave a shuddering inhalation then turned her head, beautiful eyes opening and peered at him.
He was on his feet, an arm beneath her upper body as he hugged her close, trying to be gentle but wanting to hold her so very tight in that moment.
‘You’re both fine,’ Cato said in a dry tone. Eoin pulled back from Ally, still propping her up, so she could see her father.
Face softening with a genuine smile, Cato came to kiss his daughter on the forehead. She gave a happy sigh and leaned against Eoin, eyes half closed in exhaustion.
‘Do we know what it was?’ she asked Eoin, her hand gently squeezing his.
Cato answered just as a doctor stepped through the door. The woman smiled at the three of them, showcasing a bright smile against deep mahogany skin complimented with a dense mass of black curls she’d wrapped back with a scarf.
‘Leesa!’ Ally said in delight and the men moved apart as Leesa dived at her with arms outstretched.
‘Holy heck woman!’ Leesa exclaimed in her casual bedside manner, causing Cato and Eoin to exchange an amused glance. The moment was brief, Cato’s expression sliding back to passive as he turned his attention pointedly to his daughter and her friend.
‘You scared the bejesus out of me! Do you know what your temperature’s been? You’ve been cooking yourself from the inside out.’ Leesa paused then, suddenly staring at Ally, then Eoin, then Cato with a frozen expression as her hands flew to her mouth.
‘Leesa!’ Ally said while reaching for her friend’s hands. ‘What is it? You’re scaring me.’
The shocked expression melted in an instant and the woman snorted before reaching behind Ally’s back to plump the cushions up for her.
‘Well! Serves you right then.’ She paused again, looking at each of them again as the strangest smile tugged at her lips. She turned back to Ally.
‘Girl..’ she laughed and shook her head eyes instantly shiny with tears. ‘Girl you’re PREGNANT!’
There was a thump behind him as Cato sat heavily down in the seat.
Ally gaped at Leesa, mouth working before her gaze shifted, hunting him. They stared at each other in astonishment before a smile near split Ally’s face in two.
‘We’re having a BABY!’