Is Marissa Engles crazy? Or is she a paranormal Light Rebel who can shape form and manifest things using the electricity buzzing through her veins? Her aunt and sister think "Crazy." The locked mental facility they've put her in thinks "Delusional."
She’s so drugged up, she can’t tell if they’re right. Only her new pal, Rafe Caldwell, another mental patient "inmate", thinks she is what she says she is. And he intends to find out more – lots more.
The only problem is her missing soul bound lover, Daniel Navid, who commands the darkest of the dark. But as they say, if the cat’s away…Buy on Amazon Buy on Barnes and Noble
"So tell me how you feel."
I must be pretty heavily sedated because when the therapist asks me that question, the word "feel" comes out sounding like it’s a slide. I’ll just bet if I could climb on top of that slide, I’d be able to slip from the room and not have to answer that stupid question. I shake my head. What does she mean, how do I feel? I feel like been given something like heroin or Clonazepam or Secobarbital or some other mind-numbing agent. I feel like I weigh a thousand pounds, and I’m looking at her through thick glass walls and she’s talking to me through some kind of filter made of seven layers of dense foam. I feel like…wait, I know. I’m in here because I’m different. I’m sitting here with what feels like two hundred pounds of cotton between my ears because they don’t "get" who and what I am. They think there’s something wrong with me. They all think I’m broken.
She pushes up her glasses on her nose and taps her pen on the arm of the brown leather chair in which she sits, like a prim, porcelain doll. "I’m waiting."
"Are you talking to me?"
Her face is wrinkled, like an Amish Apple Doll. Her dyed brown hair needs a touch-up. White and gray roots serve as a flag to her age. She smiles, a crisp, stiff smile like peanut brittle. "I don’t see anyone else sitting across from me, do you?"
I picture taking her smug smile in my fingers and snapping it in two, resulting in my own satisfied smile. "Where’s Daniel?"
"Daniel Navid. My soul bound lover."
She frowns and scribbles a few notes in the black binder sitting on top of her lap. She smoothes her blue tweed skirt. Clears her throat. Tries again. "How do you feel right now, Ms. Engles? Your sisters were pretty concerned about you when they brought you in here."
"Where, exactly, is here?"
"You don’t know?"
"If I did, I wouldn’t ask the question."
The therapist nods, as if I’ve just said something profound. She gestures to the room with her certificates of accomplishment and education lining the beige walls like little soldiers. "Well, you’re at the Brookstone Center for Healing, in Bellevue, Washington. Do you know where Bellevue is?"
"Are you kidding me? I’ve lived in this area all my life. I live over in West Seattle, two bridges away from Bellevue. Of course I know where Bellevue is." I reach up and rub my eyes, trying to clear the spider webs, mud puddles, and sludge clouding my mind.
"Do you know what day it is?" The peanut brittle smile appears again.
I want to smash that smile with a hammer. "Yeah, it’s today. And yesterday was yesterday. And tomorrow’s going to be tomorrow."
She taps her pen. Scribbles. Frowns. Scribbles some more. "So you don’t actually know what day it is." She says that as a statement, not a question.
"Let’s see, two days ago I was in Brazil, and it was Thursday. That must make today Saturday. What do I win?"
"What were you doing in Brazil?"
I pause and squint at her. This is a trick question. "I was visiting a friend." I was kidnapped by a demented sorcerer. I stabbed his dead, but not really dead, girlfriend’s chest, and she exploded and her crystal dagger pierced the old man’s heart.
"And how did you get back from Brazil?"
"I flew." On a beautiful winged creature known as a Coati-lumina. Her name is Chiara, and she allowed me to claim her a few nights ago. She’s huge and brilliant, and she shines like diamonds. "Where’s Daniel?"
"There was no one at your home but you when your sisters stopped by. They were very worried about you. Said you were having a completely delusional conversation with them. Do you remember what you said?"
I incline my head and study her. Another trick question. "Maybe."
"Can you tell me what you said to them?"
"Will you let me go if I do?"
"I’m afraid not. I’m afraid we need to keep you here for a while. Your sisters were very worried."
"You already said that."
"And they decided that a good psych evaluation was in order."
"Oh, they did, did they?" I’m going to murder them. I’m going to strangle the daylights out of them. In my mind, I pick up a pricey sable paintbrush and paint them as tiny fragments of skin and bone, being blown to smithereens. "What gives them the right to have me evaluated?"
"Your aunt still holds guardianship. She was the one who ordered this."
Aunt Topaz. "I’m 26 for God’s sake. I’ve lived on my own since I was 18. I think I get to be my own guardian, don’t you?"
"In this case, no. When someone is…when someone is ill…" She pauses, frowning.
She was going to say mentally deranged. They all think I’m delusional because electricity flows through my veins, and I can burst into brilliant light and paint things with my mind and will them into…
"When someone is ill, it falls to the guardian or parent."
I don’t think that’s true, but can’t argue it right now. My head is so heavy I need a crane to keep it upright. I purse my lips trying to remember something about my aunt. This goddamn drug is making it hard to think. My mouth is dry. I want to leap into a lake and suck it into my throat in one long swallow. Think, Engles, think. And then it all came back to me, like someone shot a memory cannon through my head, blasting open my brain. My dear Aunt Topaz hid my abilities away from me when I was 15. She and Daniel’s father, Armando, cast a spell over me and wiped my memories clean. And now she put me here? Armando and Aunt Topaz are definitely on my to-do list. I just don’t know what to do - yet. My hands squeeze tight, capturing my anger. I restored my Light Rebel skills with Tom the sorcerer’s help. He taught me how to hunt like a predator before taking me on an ether trip to discover what happened. When I showed Daniel my newly restored light, he…I
swallow my arousal and blink back tears.
Daniel. He’s a Night Numen and commands the darkest of the dark. He can wave his hand, rip the atmosphere in two, and draw foul creatures from wherever the hell they live. Thinking of his handsome tan face, stubble-covered jaw, eyes that are hypnotically blue, 6’1" muscular body, dark hair that falls in his face when he’s on top, his bronze skin, his hips, his legs, his hands…thinking of him makes me seriously horny, even with this drug-filled, muzzy-headed haze between my ears. And then I get a little mad. I mean, a couple of weeks ago he did bind my soul until the end of time to his without asking me, but it might have been for my own good. Might have. Not sure. Still a little miffed. We’ll sort it out by and by. I really need to see him. I need to get out of here - now. "I want to go home. I want to talk to Daniel. I need to see Daniel. I need to take care of my dog, Sober Dober." I nod, satisfied with this statement, certain that it will yield results.
"I don’t know who Daniel is. Your dog is being well-cared for by your aunt."
I lunge to my feet, or at least I want to lunge. It turns into more of a lurching wobble. "Aunt Topaz has my dog? That’s just wrong. Aunt Topaz hates things that are messy. She detests mess and color and light and…" And Sober has brand new sparkly wings. They’re training wings. He’s not very good with them yet. He got his wings when I restored my light. But I don’t say that. I dare not say that. I’ll be in this place for a million years if I tell her my dog has wings.
"Marissa, please. May I call you Marissa? You need to calm down. I understand you have…" Her eyes roll up and to the left. That’s probably where she stores big words and theories. "I understand you have anger issues. Your sister Jill said you took your parent’s death pretty hard. She said that even though it’s been over ten years, you still act as if it was yesterday."
I glare at the therapist, hoping my sister can feel the burn, too, at this very moment. I hope she recoils with guilt. I showed her what I can do. I showed her how my fingers can spark. She pinky-promised that she’d keep my secret. I trusted her. "I’m sure as hell mad at my sister, but I think I have good reason to be."
The therapist sits forward, eager, expectant, as if her pick ax has just landed on a vein of gold in my head and the gold dust is leaking all over the floor. It’s a wonder she doesn’t whip out a miner’s pan to catch the bounty. "This is good. Self-awareness is good. Say more about that. Say more about your anger at your sisters. They’d already moved out when your parents had died, hadn’t they?"
"And you probably felt alone. Abandoned, even."
"Normal, typical response."
Oh, Lord. Here comes the peanut brittle smile. I pick up the hammer in my head and pulverize the stupid smile, smash it to sugary bits. "That’s not what I’m talking about. I had an argument with her about something, just last week. We made a promise to one another."
"Tell me how that made you feel."
"How will that help me?"
"It will ease your load."
The only load in here is the one sitting on my head from the drugs. I’m being crushed from the weight of the sedative. It sits atop my head like a two-ton anvil. Where, oh where, is Chiara, my bright as diamonds Coati-lumina? She could take me away from here in an instant. A light bulb flickers in my head. Diamonds…I could use my Herkimer diamond earrings to contact Daniel. "Where are my jewels?"
The therapist looks to the right. She looks to the left. She looks at me and the candy-coated smile resumes. "They’re safe. They’re very valuable. Your sisters wondered where you came by them. They said they’re too expensive for your income level."
"For my income level." I comment in a voice that is flat and dead. "My sisters don’t live around here. They live in New York and the Midwest. They know nothing about my income level. Besides, those were a gift from Daniel."
"I see." She scribbles. Taps the pen. More scribbles. More taps. "They’re safe." She smiles.
I swear if she smiles at me that way one more time I’m going to rip the lips right off her face. My hands ball up. I squeeze them so hard my arms start to shake. Uh oh. Here comes the light. The light is beginning to stream though my system. I’m a highly charged electrical lightning rod when I want to be and when my mind isn’t buried under a pile of drugs. I can manifest whatever’s in my mind when the light streams. I’m guessing it’s sort of out of my control at this moment.
She frowns. She purses her mouth and pats her lips. "Will you excuse me?" She stands up and smoothes her skirt. "I’m having some strange pain in my mouth."
My eyes widen. Oops! I forgot what I’m capable of. Paint it black, I think, and the old Rolling Stones song by the same name starts playing in my head. Cover up the light. Big painter’s paintbrush in my head. Big, big, big. Dip it in black paint. Swash it all over me, from head to toe. There. All gone.
When I learned I was a Light Rebel and the light was restored from wherever my goddamn aunt and Daniel’s father hid it, my trainer, Tom, urged me to use my artistic skills to shape light into form. I’ve practiced "painting" light into shape and color. I’m still learning and have a mess of training ahead of me, but I can do a few things. Like create a sword from nothing and stab a dead, but not dead, woman back to death. I blink and imagine smearing gooey healing salve all over the therapist’s face, making her skin slick, soft, smooth, and pain free. I hope I didn’t really kill my sisters…
She pats her lips again, nods, and sits down. "That was odd. Where were we?"
"I think you were about to dismiss me and let me go home."
"Clever." She smirks.
"I think you were going to retrieve my jewels."
"I told you, they’re safe."
"Can I at least see them and touch them? That would…" I glance to the floor. I will tears into my eyes. I cast a tear-filled gaze at the therapist, and say, with a trembling voice, "I’d just get some comfort from touching them. Please? It would mean so much to me." I let my lower lip quiver just a little bit.
The apple-headed woman’s eyes grow misty. She thinks this display of emotion is real. "Yes, dear, I imagine it would." She steeples her hands below her chin, thinking. "Alright, but just for a moment. Then, back to the vault they go."
"Oh, thank you!" I gush and smile sweetly.
When she returns to the room a few minutes later, or at least I think it’s a few minutes later, it takes me by surprise. The drugs have dragged me along the sea floor of deep sleep. I’ll never wake up again. I mumble something. My mouth is so dry my cheeks are stuck to my teeth. My tongue is plastered to the roof of my mouth. I pry my mouth open and let my tongue fall, thick and heavy to the floor. Or, at least that’s what it feels like, Madame Therapist. "Water," I croak.
She sets a cardboard box on the desk. She fills a paper cup up with water from the blue and white dispenser in the corner.
She hands it to me and I gulp it down and scrape my tongue up off the floor. "More, please."
She wanders over to a small ‘fridge in the corner and takes out an ice tray. She twists it and ice chips fall into a tiny stainless steel sink. She scoops up a handful and puts them in the glass. "Here," she says, thrusting the cup into my hand. "Suck on these. We have to moderate your fluid intake. These drugs can make you thirsty."
"If you drink too much fluid, diarrhea can result."
Is she making this stuff up? I stare at her, shocked. It’s either dry to a crisp from the inside out or dry up through expulsion on the toilet. Either way, I’ll be dehydrated. Whatever. I’ll take what I can get and flush this garbage from my system.
The therapist stands behind her desk, looking very pleased with herself. "Here we are. You’ll see that everything is here." She pries open the cardboard flaps and pulls out several gallon size baggies.
"Oh, jeez, that’s not how you store fine jewels," I protest. "I’m sure they’re insulted."
"You’re sure who is insulted?"
"The jewels. They’re not used to plastic surroundings."
Her mouth falls into a crisp line like a Marine’s salute. "First, inanimate objects can’t think or feel. Second, we’re not a jeweler’s, Ms. Engles. This is a hospital."
For nut jobs like me. Just say it.
"It’s a place for people with issues to heal." She reaches into the box, pulls out a baggy, and spreads the opening wide.
It’s a place for you to drug people with issues into submission. It’s a place where issues get really big when no one believes you when you say what you are. I spread my lips wide in a psychotic smile.
She hands me a tangle of red and gold. The instant my fingers touch the red and gold masterpiece, shaped by long-time family friend and fellow freak Diego Perona, sexual impulses shoot through my veins. This is the piece that I wear around my pelvis. This is a red diamond, one of the rarest diamonds in the world. The light and electricity inside starts to awaken like a jumper cable has been attached to my core. My hands start to shake. I drop the diamond on the desk like it’s red hot. It’s me that’s hot, however. I could blow this therapist’s mind if I let it flow. Crack her sanity until she was the one sitting in my place. "Good, good. That’s good," I say, a little too quickly. "Hand me something else, please."
She hands me a knot of green and gold. A brilliant emerald is set in the middle of an exquisite, delicate gold cup. When I touch this piece love pours its cream through my soul. Daniel. All the swirls and tendrils that connect us reach out to source him, to find him. They reach through time and space, looking, searching, probing. Longing pulls my eyes closed and draws my mouth apart. I want my lover. Now.
"Are you alright?"
Her voice intrudes on my search. "Not really." I’m sitting in a mental hospital. "Are you?"
The prim Marine line falls into place across her face. She fusses inside the box for another jewel. "Here," she says. "I think this will be the last one we’ll let you hold."
"And why is that?"
"Clearly, they’re stirring your emotions."
I shake my head, wondering what’s wrong with having your emotions stirred, but nothing falls from my mouth. I take the Herkimer diamond earrings. Clasp my fingers around them. Daniel? Can you hear me?
It sounds like the faintest whisper, reaching into my mind. Where are you? I can barely hear you?
The Numina. They’re…
What? They’re what? I think I’ve sat up straight in my chair.
The therapist eyes me carefully.
Daniel? Where are you?
Justice. They wanted justice for my…
For your what? Daniel? Daniel? Usually I can hear him loud and clear. These diamonds serve to link our minds. They’re supposedly my training wheels until I learn to communicate mind to mind without them. Now, either the drugs are dulling the ability to hear him or something is very, very wrong.
I’m in a…
In a what? Where are you?
"Ms. Engles, that’s enough."
Madame Therapist stands and totters over to where I am sitting, no standing, no, I’m pacing around the room. I didn’t even notice getting to my feet.
"Give me the earrings, please."
I whirl to face her, snarling, "They’re mine. They’re…" They’re the only way I can connect with my dangerous lover. Madame Therapist’s face is like a cloud, airy, white, and lifeless. I must be frightening her. I soften. "I’d like to keep them."
She softens. "No, dear, the studs have points. You can hurt yourself with them. I’m sorry." She reaches for the diamonds and drops them in the baggy. Slides the seal shut. "We’ll keep them safe for you for when you’re well."
"What makes you think I’m not well?"
"The delusions. The rants. The anger. You’ll thank me when you’re well again." The brittle smile appears one last time and this time, I leave it alone. The drugs have kicked in big time. I can barely keep these iron curtain eyelids from slamming shut. I give up. For now. The therapist is mistaken about who should be thanking whom. She’s probably thanking me right in this moment for giving up the fight. In truth, I’ve only just begun to fight.
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