Only in Her Dreams Online - Christina McKnight Page 0,1

back in the states within the week, but it would be held in quarantine at the Center for Disease Control located in San Francisco. She remembered asking several questions before the call ended, but the man’s answers were either totally unrelated to her question or completely unhelpful.

No, the man didn’t know how Greg contracted malaria, but he suggested an unhealthy soul may be to blame.

No, the man didn’t know when Greg’s body would be released to her.

No, the man didn’t know how to contact the CDC.

Lucessa opened her eyes. Her forehead rested against the side of her bed. When had she hung up her cell phone? Had she dreamt the whole conversation? Her body was tense, her chest ached with emptiness. My life is changing forever--again.

Chapter 1

“How should I take this?” Guy slapped the missive on the mahogany desk for Maxim to read.

Dearest Brother,

Your secret is revealed. I suggest you make amends sooner rather than later. Don’t make your sacrifice in vain.

Always your Humble Servant,

Darius

Maxim stared at his elder brother while they both paced the large chamber, his feet dragging on the plush rug underfoot. Maxim and Guy resembled each other only in their blue eyes; they differed greatly in every other way. Guy was thirty-five years older, and it showed in the lines on his face and slightly stooped shoulders.

The stress of leading the Oneiroi seemed to have aged his immortal brother. He held the problems of both Erebos and Earth squarely on his shoulders. And Maxim’s twin, Darius, wasn’t making it any easier.

Guy stopped his pacing in front of the oversized fireplace and faced the warm fire that licked the logs with bright orange flames. The blazing embers cast a shadowy figure against the far wall, which gave it the appearance that another attended their private meeting.

Neither spoke, the pop and sizzle of the resin-rich wood echoed in Maxim’s mind a thousand times louder than an approaching army.

Images of his twin materialized to dance in his mind’s eye--their joined bedchambers as children, the school work they evaded to play soldiers in the field behind their father’s stables and the bond they shared as they’d aged. That had all changed as Darius matured. Darius began holding Maxim at arm’s length shortly before their father passed. Now, they were not only separated by distance but also by their loyalties. Heartache pulled at Maxim’s chest.

“What is he trying to pull?” Guy said quietly. He resumed pacing as his fur-lined coat caressed the ground. Guy’s brow creased in concentration.

The message had been left at the gates sometime during the early morning hours. Its messenger had escaped the notice of the compound patrols. Maxim had been immediately summoned to Guy’s study. How had Darius returned to Erebos? Maxim feared this day would come and the power struggle would begin anew.

“He’s ready to make his move,” Maxim said as he stopped his pacing. The current problem not only impacted Erebos, but also the fate of Earth itself, and in turn, of mankind. He waited for his brother to give the instruction to intercept the current threat and possibly give Darius a death sentence.

“Have they taken the girl?” Guy asked.

“As far as I am aware, they have not.”

“As far as you are aware?” Guy whirled on his brother, his coat flying out behind him and the back lit flames magnified his rage. “As my second in command--not only my brother--I assigned you the responsibility of keeping a close eye on her. Have you fallen short in your duties?”

The room had turned hot and unbearable around him. “I have watched over her in her dreams, as you asked.”

“That is good.”

Maxim could never chance losing his brother’s respect. He’d decided after the schism with Darius many years ago, to pledge allegiance to his newfound brother. He made the decision consciously, verbally, and willingly. It’s what his father would’ve wanted.

His father, had set in place many safeguards for Erebos and Earth before he passed. Maxim couldn’t betray his father’s wishes as Darius had. There were reasons behind every law his father, and his father before that, established. They kept the Oneiroi safe, and it allowed mankind to live out its own destiny.

“You will travel to Earth and watch over her. Darius cannot be allowed to get his hands on her,” Guy commanded.

“Brother, that is forbidden.” Shock infused Maxim’s voice. “That is why you banished Darius and the Melas Oneiroi in the first place.”

“Nothing I wish is forbidden!” Guy’s stooped shoulders straightened with resolve. The sound of his angry