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Authors: Elle Davis

Tags: #romance, #scifi, #fantasy, #young adult, #genetic alteration

Designed to Love (22 page)

BOOK: Designed to Love
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"Yes, Alisha, I think whoever is behind this
must have very specific information and foreknowledge about Dr.
Kappel's work. I suspect they have been watching you for years,
just waiting for the right timing, waiting for you guys to find
each other. Maybe even facilitating your chance meeting," she says
in an ominous tone.

If it were anyone other than Bernie making
such a ridiculous claim, we all might have got up and walked out.
But Bernie doesn't make allegations without having an arsenal of
proof to back it up.

"But, but...what about Burke's and Brandon's
parents? They are still alive," Alisha persists, desperately trying
to disprove Bernie's theory.

"The fact that Brandon is somewhat estranged
from his parents makes them low risk, and I've had 24-hour
surveillance on Burke's parents for the past two months. There were
some suspicious circumstances that required intervention," she says

Jason walks over and slips his arm around
Alisha. "Bernie, do you think the agency that I worked for is
involved in some way?" he asks, already sounding remorseful.

"Duh, you think?" Elizabeth mutters rolling
her eyes, once again letting it be known that she is despises
government employees, or former ones as it may be in Jason's case.
Bernie seems amused by her insinuation.

"For a number of reasons, I am inclined to
say no, at least not directly," she says thoughtfully.

Elizabeth opens her mouth as if to protest,
but Claire's loud snores divert our attention just enough for
Bernie to change the course of the conversation. She brings up
making arrangements for Burke's funeral, and almost immediately, a
black, depressing energy settles upon the room.

Like Claire, the rest of the group manages
to find a sliver of floor space to wrap up in a blanket and crash
for a few hours of sleep before the sun comes up. I lie awake long
after everyone else is asleep, and repeatedly attempt to remote
travel to the eerily elusive place where both Claire and I have
been called to visit in our dreams and where Cat seems to call us
from. I'm convinced that it's the place that holds the key to
finding her, and possibly our other loved ones as well.


The large military helicopter sitting on
Brandon's runway isn't as shocking as the three men standing
outside armed with M16's. There are two more inside preparing to
escort Bernie the short distance to the chopper. Burke's body has
already been loaded and will be taken to Great Falls and handed
over to his parents. I was grateful that Bernie was the one to
break the news to them. She spent over an hour consoling them over
the phone, providing them with a somewhat fabricated version of
what really happened. "Telling them the whole truth wouldn't make
it any easier for them and it would just open the door to a bunch
of questions that I'm not prepared to answer right now," she says

Bernie practically insisted that we vacate
the Freeman residence just as a precaution, but all of us voted her
down when she suggested Area 51 as the temporary lodging. A few
phone calls later, she's made arrangements to have all the windows
and sliding glass door replaced with bulletproof glass by the end
of the week.

"Bernie, if there are people out there who
want us for our special abilities, it would serve no purpose to
kill us," Alisha says for the sake of arguing. Bernie ignores her
and proceeds around the house with Brandon, counting and measuring
windows. Jason and I use pieces of plywood to temporarily board up
the broken slider and windows in the great room, as well as the
kitchen, allowing us to use the two rooms safely again.

It isn't until Bernie is finally gone, that
I pull Alisha aside and bring up the subject of finding Cat. It
tears me up when I see a look of hesitation and doubt in her eyes.
"Ali, please help me. I need your support. I know you don't want to
see me hurt, but I feel that she's still alive, and I have to find
her," I plead.

"I know," she says finally, sighing deeply.
She squeezes her eyes shut and furrows her brow in a demonstration
of deep concentration before continuing. "All right, let's gather
everyone together for a meeting. We need an organized plan."



When Alisha calls a group meeting, opting
out really isn't an option. So when Elizabeth and Michael don't
show up after being given what she considers plenty of notice, she
sends Elizabeth a telepathic warning that judging by the way she's
clenching her teeth together, is more like a tempered scream. Five
minutes later Elizabeth comes storming down the hall, her face red
with anger. She heads straight for Alisha, muttering some
unflattering words under her breath. Her long blonde hair is
tousled and her large blue eyes are sunken with dark shadows
underneath. She looks like an actress playing a role in a horror
film, rather than the perfectly manicured, reserved, woman we've
come to expect. Michael is silently trailing behind her, not doing
much to interfere with the altercation.

Alisha sees her coming and grabs a kitchen
chair, holding it up as a barrier. Her face darkens with anger as
well and she makes a sound that is a cross between a hiss and a

"Elizabeth if you want to continue to be a
part of this group, you can't just participate when it's convenient
for you!"

"Well you can't expect everyone to drop what
they're doing every time you decide to call a meeting!" Liz
screams, circling her in a crouched position, half of her face
twisted in a snarl. The two lock eyes and continue their verbal
assault mentally, inadvertently slipping parts of the conversation
to the rest of us. Claire angrily shouts "Stop it! You're turning

I don't need Claire's color screening to
recognize the changes in energy levels swarming around this room—it
can be felt. The low frequency being emitted by the two is
automatically transmitted to the rest of us, and I can feel my mind
synchronizing with their emotional expression. I am helpless to
stop the wave of anger that sweeps over me and without consciously
thinking, I slam my fist down on the table, causing two of the legs
to buckle and bend. The sound is loud enough to halt the heated
argument between Elizabeth and Alisha, but when Brandon sees the
damage to the table, he hollers a slew of profanities which annoys
me even more.

The room erupts in fireworks with the four
of us brawling over what began as a meaningless misunderstanding,
and now Claire is in the corner crying. Instead of the smooth flow
of electricity that normally runs between us, there is now short
circuited sparks of electricity, firing chaotically around the
room. Michael stands by watching the whole thing unfold with
interest, but makes no attempt to intervene. The commotion is heard
by Jason from all the way upstairs, and he enters the room with the
expression of a concerned parent.

"Everyone, let's just calm down," he says,
first swinging Claire up into his arms to comfort her, and then
turning to Alisha with an outstretched arm. "Honey, give me the
chair. We can sit down and talk this out rationally."

His calm interface is just enough to
interrupt the energy flow between the four of us and when he
embraces Alisha, she immediately relaxes in his arms.

We all plop down on the nearest piece of
furniture, and there is a moment of silence before we all mumble an
awkward apology to each other. Alisha wastes no time in addressing
the issue head-on.

"Okay, we seriously need to figure out a way
to contain our emotions or we are going to destroy each other."

"Not going to dispute that one," Brandon
says, shaking his head with an amused grin on his face.

"It happens so fast. All it takes is for one
of us to fly off the handle, and we all lose control," she says,
looking helplessly to Jason for answers.

He is thoughtful for a moment, seemingly
preoccupied in watching Claire as she slips down from his lap and
forces her way onto Elizabeth's, resting her head on her chest.
Elizabeth responds by circling her arms tightly around her body,
gently stroking her hair, and murmuring words of comfort. Something
about the gesture must trigger some sort of revelation because his
face lights up and he smiles warmly.

"Alisha, it took only a few seconds for me
to disrupt the energy flow between the five of you. Perhaps all it
would take is for one or more of you to concentrate briefly on an
opposite thought, or happy memory, for you to override the slower
frequency rate and counteract the negative emotion instead of
synchronizing to it."

"Trying to think of a happy memory or
thought takes time and concentration. How do we manage to do that
when we have only seconds before our emotions converge?" Alisha
points out.

"Well instead of trying to think of a happy
memory in the heat of things, you pre-train the brain to respond to
words that will automatically trigger a certain memory. For
example, Ronan, if I say the words: wedding, Cataryn, snow skiing,
what kind of emotion or memories do you feel?"

"The happiest days of my life," I respond
without having to think about it.

"Exactly...! So all we need to do is train
your brain subconsciously to automatically associate that level of
happiness when you say those three words out loud. It is a simple,
but effective technique that can be done under a light

"It could work," Alisha murmurs, smiling at
him appreciatively.


The most pressing issue on my mind is
finding Cat, not learning how to control my distemper, so the next
four hours go by excruciatingly slow for me, as I wait for Jason to
complete hypnotic sessions on each of us. My session took less than
half hour to imprint a set of trigger words, but with the exception
of Claire, the others take a considerable amount of time longer.
Brandon comes out of the room looking exhausted after his session,
and for the first time since meeting him, I am curious about his

"So, what's your happiest memory Brandon?" I
ask as we sit across from each other waiting for the others. His
face twists in a lopsided grin, and he shakes his head sadly.

"Believe it or not, it was the day I met you
guys after the earthquake. It's the first time I really felt sure
of where I belonged. I guess I didn't really understand just how
lonely I was until I was forced to search my past for a happy
memory. It's sort of sobering you know, trying to sift through a
trough of memories to find one that is so pleasant, it changes the
way you feel inside. Don't get me wrong, I've had some good
experiences, too; getting my pilot's license and traveling the
world. But none of them filled that void inside. Do you know what I
mean?" he asks, suddenly looking uncertain.

I smile and nod my head. "Yes, Brandon, I
know exactly what you mean."

His grin broadens, stretching the frozen,
scarred side of his face until it is somewhat symmetrical with the
other side.


Elizabeth is the last to complete her
session. I suspected she might have difficulty being induced,
mostly because of her distrust of Jason. She insisted that a
witness be present during her hypnotic induction, but politely
turned down Michael when he volunteered. There was definitely a
shift in their relationship, but for the life of me, I couldn't
imagine why. Finally, she comes out of the back room, accompanied
by Alisha and Jason and it's obvious she's been crying.

"Okay everyone, we have a lot to talk about.
Let's get started, shall we?" Alisha commences, motioning for
everyone to take a seat at the large dining room table.

She begins with a sobering statement. "Jason
and Michael, if Bernie's theory is correct, the two of you could be
in just as much danger as Cat. Perhaps the two of you should leave
the group before someone figures out what your relationship is to

Jason looks at her in disbelief. "I think
I'll take my chances and stick around if that's okay." She smiles
at him appreciatively and blushes slightly. We all turn our
attention to Michael ,who is staring at the floor.

Elizabeth has Claire in her lap, and her
arms automatically tighten around her body, making her sink deeper
against her chest. She is already blinking back tears.

"Yeah...Well, I've been thinking for a while
now that I should probably get back to work. I'm really not much
use to the group at this point anyway."

His words shock the hell out of me, but by
the look on the rest of their faces, his announcement seems
somewhat expected. "
Hey Ali, have I missed
something here
?" I ask in our private mental chat

"I'll tell you
she answers, not taking her eyes off of

"Michael, we've worked together a long time,
I can't imagine not having you around, but I understand completely.
Do you have another job lined up?"

He shifts uneasily in his seat, and briefly
glances at Elizabeth, who has her face buried into the back of
Claire's head.

"Um, yeah, I have a few things lined up.
Speaking of which, I should go check my email," he says, getting up
and hurriedly leaving the room. Before anyone has a chance to ask,
Elizabeth sighs and murmurs, "I'm okay." Suddenly, her earlier
actions don't seem quite so unnatural given the circumstances.

"Let's continue. We have a killer on the
loose to deal with, missing family members to find, another
Designer to recruit. Where do you suggest we start?"

"Whoa, what exactly do you mean by recruit
another Designer?" Brandon asks already sounding perturbed.

"Brandon, we need to find someone to replace
Burke. We have no idea what we are going up against and we need the

"Jesus Ali, he hasn't even been dead for
twenty-four hours and you already have a warm body lined up to take
his place!" Brandon shouts angrily.

BOOK: Designed to Love
13.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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