Authors: S. E. Duncan
By S. E. Duncan
Text copyright © 2012 S. E. Duncan
All Rights Reserved
This book is
a work of fiction. All characters, localities, and situations stem solely from
the authors imagination, or have been used in a fictitious manner. Any similarities
between characters in this book and persons living or dead are purely
No part of
this book may be reproduced in any way without written consent from the
I would like
to thank my friend and editor, Christy Ballew, for all of your help. Your
expertise and suggestions were an important part of making this work something
I could be proud of.
For my husband, Morgan, who asked me
once if I ever thought about writing a book.
Ella rolled over and hit the snooze button on her alarm clock. Ugh, finals! She
only had a couple of hours to cram for her anatomy test. Visions of bones and
muscles ran through her mind as Ella crawled out of bed. She stood looking
around the room. What a mess. Everything used to be so organized, but lately
she just felt like she couldn’t get it together. Spotting a pair of jeans
thrown over the back of her chair, she tried to navigate through the clothes,
books, and food containers on the floor as quietly as possible so as not to
awaken her roommate, Sarah.
know why I’m even afraid she’ll wake up. Wild elephants could run through the
room and Sarah would still be dead to the world,” Ella mumbled a little
jealously as she listened to her friend snore.
invited Ella out last night to make the rounds to several end of the semester
parties. A few months ago she would have been more than willing to go out
partying, but not lately. Even staying awake to study was a challenge.
Reaching the jeans, Ella pulled them on. The tank top she’d slept in would
have to do. She ran her fingers through her hair and surveyed the room for her
anatomy text. Ella scanned the floor – nothing. She crouched down and looked
under the bed – bingo. Scurrying under the bed after the book, Ella banged her
head. “Darn it,” she hissed. Could she be any more clumsy? By now she was
completely frustrated. She’d been up and trying to get out of this room for
almost twenty minutes. Grabbing her backpack, she crammed the hard won volume
inside and stepped into Sarah’s discarded sandals. “Thanks,” Ella whispered,
“I owe ya one.” Then she slipped out the door.
donning her shades to block the cheerful morning sun, Ella headed toward the
library. She was
a morning person. So far Ella had a perfect GPA,
and really couldn’t understand why this class was kicking her butt. School had
pretty much always come easy for her. Sure she had to study, but she loved
school and definitely had the drive. She was still toying with a couple of
paths, but whether she decided on physical therapy, premed, or even dentistry,
she needed an A in this anatomy class. Why had she been so doggone tired
lately? All she wanted to do was sleep and her senses seemed to be on
overdrive. Lights were brighter, everything seemed louder, and her headaches
were coming more frequently. She just couldn’t seem to focus. She hoped she
wasn’t coming down with something. Other than the occasional headache she
wasn’t the sickly type, and really couldn’t recall the last time she had been
to the doctor for anything other than a physical. It was probably just stress,
but if she didn’t feel better soon she was going to have Aunt Rachel make her
reaching the library, Ella took the elevator to the third floor and headed
through the stacks toward one of her favorite secluded study cubicles. As she
rounded the corner she smacked straight into some guy coming the other way. He’d
been moving fast, and as they collided he dropped the books he’d been
carrying. One of them landed directly at her feet. Ella smiled as she bent to
pick it up; perhaps she wasn’t the only overwhelmed person on the planet.
guess I should watch…” she stopped mid-sentence as she stood to hand the book
over. She found herself looking into glowing red eyes and a too wide grin with
– Christ, if she’d retained one thing from anatomy it was that nobody should
have that many teeth.
backward, Ella couldn’t catch her breath to let out the yelp that was stuck in
her throat. She landed hard on her butt. She blinked, and suddenly the guy’s
face was perfectly normal. He cocked his head to the side and took a step
forward, reaching out his hand to help her up. Ella hurriedly scooted backward
a few more feet. She flipped over and dug her sandals into the worn carpet,
but still in a panic, she slipped and fell to her knees. This time Ella popped
to her feet like a jack in the box and took off through the library back the
way she’d come. She couldn’t get out of there fast enough and - Lord in Heaven!
- if she wasn’t about to run right into someone else as she careened through
the stacks. Ella dodged the guy and kept right on moving. “Wait!” he called
after her. “Ella, what did you see?”
down on a bench on the other side of campus. She didn’t even realize she’d
gone just over half a mile in less than two minutes. She slumped on the bench
with her head in her hands and her backpack at her feet. What the heck was
going on? Was she losing her mind? Surely the face had been a figment of her
imagination or a trick of the light. Something, but absolutely not the
something she thought she saw. And who the heck was the second guy? He had
called her name. At least she thought she’d heard him call her name; it had
all happened so fast. She sat there running it over in her mind, trying to
make sense of it, and dreading the feeling of a headache coming on. She felt
ridiculous; it couldn’t have been real. She was overwhelmed, tired,
distraught, and going to be late, she realized as she looked at her watch.
Ella grudgingly got up and headed toward the anatomy final that she felt
outside the library looking around. He was faster than most, but there was no
way he could keep up with Ella Fitzgerald. By the time he had made it out of
the library, she had lost him. He’d been watching her for ten long years, and
it seemed that what he had half hoped for and half dreaded was finally
happening. Ella was awakening. He knew as sure as he knew his own name that she’d
seen something from the look of pure horror on her face as she’d run past him.
She was coming into her speed; strength was sure to follow. He thought
strength would follow anyway. This was a whole new cup of tea, so to speak.
It was time for them to meet.
headache had actually improved some. The test wasn’t nearly as bad as she had
feared. That was her last final; the semester was over. Hallelujah! It sure
hadn’t been an easy one. She was feeling even better about her decision to take
the summer off now that she was done. What she really needed was a break, a
little R&R so she could come back strong in the fall. At this point she
didn’t want to think about anything more strenuous than taking a nap. She knew
Sarah would be in class, effortlessly slam-dunking her test. Ella headed
towards their dorm room to crash. When she opened her door, there sat the guy
from the library waiting for her. Not
creepy teeth guy
after her guy
- who just happened to be getting creepier by the second. She
had no idea who he was or how the heck he’d gotten in here for that matter.
Before she could say anything, he was on his feet talking a mile a minute.
scream,” Burke urged. “I just need to talk to you; I know you saw something in
know that I saw anything,” Ella replied. “But more importantly, who are you
and how did you get in here?”
“My name is
Burke,” he answered, ignoring the second part of her question. “I knew your
father. You and I have a lot to talk about.” Burke handed Ella a photograph
of himself with her parents.
and then snatched the picture from Burke’s hand. She studied it closely. She
recognized the backyard of the house she had lived in as a little girl. Her
father stood next to her mother with his arm around her waist. Burke was
standing next to the grill with a spatula in his hand. They were laughing.
Her parents were happy, but then again they always had been. God, she missed
them. The picture had been taken ten years ago. She knew it had been taken
shortly before the car accident that took her parents from her, because in the
picture her mother was wearing a necklace set with a large single black stone.
Her father had given her mother that necklace for their anniversary, just a
month before the horrific event that had changed Ella’s life forever. She
reached up and held the same stone that now hung around her own neck.
carbonado, also known as a black diamond,” Burke told her.
really knew what it was,” Ella whispered. She bit her lip trying not to get
emotional in front of this stranger who claimed to have known her mom and dad.
She was ten
years old when her parents died. It had been a horrible car wreck. They’d
gone over a cliff crashing to the rocks below, and the car had erupted in
flames, killing them instantly. There had barely been enough of them left to
bury. Ella would be twenty years old next week. The accident was half her
life ago, but she still got choked up when she thought about it.
father had been an only child, and his parents had passed away before Ella was
born. Her mother’s parents had both died before Ella was out of her toddler
years, and she had very few memories of them. Her mother’s only sibling, Aunt
Rachel, had taken Ella in after the death of her parents. Aunt Rachel and
Uncle Ben had one child, Jeremy, who was only six months older than Ella.
Despite everything that had happened, Ella had a happy childhood. Her Aunt and
Uncle treated her like she was their own, and at this point she considered
Jeremy more her brother than her cousin.
diamonds aren’t found naturally on this planet,” Burke broke into Ella’s
thoughts. “Geoscientists are only recently coming to realize that the source
of black diamonds on Earth was a meteor rock.”
“I think I
may have read that once somewhere,” Ella said.
found naturally where your dad grew up though,” Burke continued. “That
necklace belonged to your grandmother. Actually, it’s been in your family for
thought you just said black diamonds aren’t found on Earth.”
exactly what I said. Your dad wasn’t from around here.”
trying to tell me my father was from another planet?” Ella was getting upset.
She’d already had one hell of a day and this ridiculous conversation was
pushing her past her limit. “Know what, dude? I think I’m gonna have to ask
you to leave. I don’t know what your game is, but I’m pretty busy right now.”
up, but before he could say another word Ella was on her feet too. She put her
hand on Burke’s chest, and with what she thought was barely a push he was out
the door. She threw the picture at him and slammed the door before he even
picked himself up off the floor.
her strength – check.
Burke stood at the closed door rubbing the sore hip he’d landed on when
Ella sent him flying.