The Hope Chest Anthology, Love's Light


Excerpt from Love's Light by Fiona Riplee.

Accept the light. photo from depositphotos.com

Accept the light.

photo from depositphotos.com

Senza Cavanaugh bit into the protein bar. Her phone buzzed. She typically didn’t skip lunch, but her project deadline loomed. Was her boss checking on her progress again? With an irritated sigh, she reached across her desk. A glimmer of azure light seeped from the tips of her fingers, hovered above the electronic device and an internal vibration ran up her arm. She snatched her hand back. The phone, which had been suspended an inch from the work surface, followed her movements and fell at her feet with a dull bounce. Every muscle in her body tensed.

Senza’s telekinesis hadn’t made an appearance in four years, and had always flared in the presence of Trevor Gate. The psychic power she had her entire life flickered along the back of her hand. There was no doubt in her mind he was the caller.

The fragrant chocolate block, disguised as food, went into her mouth. On her hands and knees, she rescued her smart phone from under the desk and turned it over. Trevor’s number illuminated the screen. She sank onto the floor crossing her legs Buddha style. The bar’s fake chocolate aroma slithered into her nostrils and her stomach churned. Her heart pounded and her lunch became dust on her tongue.

The phone pulsated again. Her breath shallowed. She spit the mouthful of food into the trashcan beside her. The airy glow from her fingers engulfed her entire palm, and curled around the phone in minute offshoots of white light. Four years apart hadn’t stopped the energy from erupting between them. The buzzing cell paused, and she relaxed. Waiting for the voice mail chime, Senza jumped as the phone rang again. Dread crept into her spine.

Senza lifted the small electronic to her ear. “Hello?”

“It’s good to hear your voice.”

Trevor’s deep baritone sent a delicious shiver down her spine. Frantic butterflies wiggled in her gut. Talking to him had always created a nervous energy inside her body.

What could she say? I’ve missed you.

The silence ticked by. A remembered vision of him appeared, brown hair, blue eyes. His sexy, but boyish grin always made her laugh. The psychic light surrounding her hand bloomed in her peripheral vision.

I thought the flare had disappeared for good. Does it only glare like a sun in my mind?

Senza ducked further under her desk, better safe than sorry. The musty air under her assigned workspace irritated her eyes and activated a tingling in her nasal cavity. She breathed through her mouth, pinched the end of her nose, and cut off the impending sneeze. No one would understand if they saw her. The fear of someone forcing her to explain, what she couldn’t explain herself, overwhelmed her. Aunt Violet constantly warned her to keep her psychic power to herself. Normal people couldn’t fathom a power that incited their panic. They would hurt her.

The last time the light exploded, Trevor’s brother, Wade, had died. Right now it’s a small bright light, not an explosion. I won’t lose control of it.

Trevor broke the silence. “Um… It’s been a long time.”

Senza hadn’t been conscious of the dead air between them. Thoughts bounced in her head. Thanks, Mr. Obvious. Four years without a word is an effing long time. Where have you been?

The anger was still fresh. The hurt was still raw inside her. “Why are you calling?”

“I have bad news.” His voice cracked.

Senza’s racing heart jumped to her throat. “Are you okay?”

“My grandfather… Your Aunt Violet…” Trevor’s fragmented speech was difficult to follow. “Are gone.”

Sweat broke out along her skin. Her fingers went to her mouth and low waves of extrasensory vibration pulsed against her lips. When had she last called her aunt? Days? Weeks? Why would Trevor talk about Aunt Violet and Edward, his grandfather, as though they had been together? “They’re both missing?”

Trevor’s breathing hitched, and he stumbled over the words. “I’m so sorry…” Trevor caught his breath. “…at the beginning of Waverley’s Trail.”

“At the end of Waverley’s Trail was where you last kissed me.”

Sunlight glared from the window blind. She squinted as the memory of Make Out Cave flashed in her mind’s eye. Hidden off the side of Waverley's trail and before the decent into Razor's Edge, Make Out Cave had been the one place neither of them feared her light would hurt anyone. She remembered the dry desert heat and scent of cooling sage. The cocoon of Trevor’s aftershave surrounded her in citrus and fresh ocean breezes in contrast with the cool earthy notes of the cave. His head tilted. The brown curl fell across his forehead right before their lips met. The light filled the hollow with a soft haze. Senza blinked out of her rumination. Her light filled the undercarriage of her desk. A deep breath extinguished the energy in front of her, and the flames of her re-awakened desire.

Trevor cleared his throat several times. “A hiker found him.”

He wasn’t making any sense. She leaned back against the underside of the desk. “How is Edward missing if a hiker found him?”

“He didn’t make it.” Trevor choked back a sob. “My grandfather… Edward is dead.”

Senza clutched her aching chest. Her lungs burned. “My… Aunt Violet?”

“They found her at the bottom of Razor’s Edge, at first light.”

The room spun. Spots floated around her eyes, dimmed and turned black. The office lights flickered, and the vibration in her body became an audible hum. Trevor droned in her ear. Senza closed her eyes and put her forehead against the desk wall. It’s too much. I can’t hold the power back. Her filing cabinet drawer rumbled open. The chair jumped away from her. A mini earthquake shook her cubicle.

“Senza, baby. Stay with me. I need you.”

Those words brought her back. A cascade of color burst behind her eyelids. Had Trevor ever admitted he needed her? The sunlight in the room faded as a cloud passed overhead and darkened the entire office floor. The darkness had become her friend after he left and her safety net. Yet, Senza braved the light and would give anything in this moment to have his arms hold her tight. “Where are you?”

Trevor said, “I’m in Switzerland.”

What in the hell kind of exotic lifestyle is he living while I sat here and worried about him?

Senza crawled out from under her desk and pushed the drawers shut. “What are you doing there?” She stood. Chills ran along her spine.

“Getting answers. You’ll be in Arizona before me. When can you leave?” The gritty edge to his speech let her know he held back sobs for the father and grandfather Edward had been to Trevor and his older brother, Wade.

“What kind of answers? Were their deaths questionable?” Her voice was high and needy, but better than hearing her sobs.

“I’ll tell you when I get there. Can you leave right now?”

The office floor spread out like a ghost town, silent and eerie. The lack of burnt popcorn or leftover chili was unusual. Row after row of empty cubicles made an unobservable exit possible. She stepped two feet to the right and peered into the corner office. The boss wouldn’t be happy if she left. Although, Aunt Violet had raised her with the attitude of sometimes it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. “I’ll get the next flight out of JFK.”

“If all goes well, I'll leave Zurich first thing in the morning.”

Anticipation gnawed at Senza’s heart. She would see him and touch him again, but panic clawed at her soul for the reasons he was coming home. Trevor was the only family she had left now. Did an ex-boyfriend count as family? He’d abandoned her four years ago… Would he do it again?