Authors: Karen M. Black
Tags: #visionary fiction, #reincarnation novel, #time travel romance books, #healing fiction, #paranormal romance ebook, #awakening to soul love, #signs of spiritual awakening, #soulmate ebook, #time travel romance book, #paranormal romance book, #time travel romance novels, #metaphysical fiction, #new age fiction, #spiritual awakening symptoms
Thanks to my parents Rick and Yvonne Black for their unwavering support of everything I’ve done. You’ve always provided a safe haven in which to fall. Also, I’m grateful to my sister Nora for her natural exuberance and generosity — and for helping me discover the crop-circle image we adapted for the cover. I never would have found it without you and I love it! Thanks to my brother-in-law John for graciously being the Black family’s on-call computer support person and for helping me create my temporary web site.
Thanks to my oldest friends who have lived through the ups and downs of life with me. In particular, thanks to Sandra Bekhor for her enthusiasm and marketing assistance, Roxanne Embleton for believing in me and holding my hand, Linda Plater for always speaking your truth and being part of my revised ending, and to Rani Bhatia for staying so close at such a distance. Also thanks to early reviewers and dear friends Ashleigh Hendry and Brenda Girdwood and to others who read and provided testimonials for Moondance, including Dee Miller, Angela Jennings, Alene Clark and Sue Spivak. Finally, thanks to friend Suzanne Cyr for her strength and for convincing this shy subject to get her photo re-done for the cover (and who made me up to look great).
Viki King of Malibu, California was my first read, and provided me with inspiration and ideas on how to deepen the mystery. Deep appreciation to cover designer Angel Guerra for his talent and patience with an indecisive client, to layout artist Tannice Goddard for the kind words and fine eye and to Robert Buckland, my editor, who helped deepen my understanding of the editing process. Any mistakes you find are mine alone.
I have dedicated Moondance to the memory of astrologer and tarot card reader Yvonne Karkas. Yvonne, thank you for your compassion, wisdom and humor over the years, and for graciously being the inspiration for the character Michelle. I miss you.
Last but not least, thanks to my readers — I hope you are numerous. I enjoy hearing what you think at
. By the way, there will definitely be a sequel. Thanks to my publication consultant Arnold Gosewich for his steadfast guidance throughout the publication process — and for suggesting I make this clear.
Life is a ride. Happiness is a choice.
Savor every minute.
THE FULL, VANILLA-WHITE moon was luminous and bright, and from the highest window of her house, seven-year-old Althea Brecht stared into it fully, following its threads of light. The moon winked. Are you ready?
Althea lowered her chin and balled her hands into fists, her heart swelling with anticipation. She squeezed her eyes shut and moved her lips, silently articulating the wish that started with Albert and grew, until her whole body was quivering. When she lost her balance, her hands opened spontaneously like flowers blossoming, as if her budding wish had become too big for her to hold.
A familiar warmth gathered behind her, smelling like cotton candy in the sun. She leaned into it. Her heart raced. Althea found the moon again, and it smiled at her.
That’ll be our little secret, Althea. Ours to know
• • •
WHEN ALTHEA BRECHT TURNED seven, Sophie said Albert was sleeping. When Albert didn’t wake up, Sophie said Albert was dead. As Althea approached her eighth birthday, she knew that Albert wasn’t coming home. And that the moon sometimes lied.
Althea and Tori
ALTHEA RACED AHEAD, USING
both hands to turn the heavy brass of the door handle. At the top of the stairs, the door creaked — a low, aching sound — and the two girls surveyed the immaculate room. An expanse of bay windows mirrored their slight forms, as if they were embedded in black ice.
Althea and Tori climbed onto the high, antique bed and sat facing one another. The fatty richness of roast beef hung in the air: the birthday girl’s favorite meal.
“I want to show you who we’ve met,” Althea said. She reached behind her head to tighten her ponytail, which flowed to the center of her back — thick, wavy and strawberry blond. “There’s Stewart from the Crusades, and the two girls who move in loops and love Elvis, they’re so funny, and Thomas who was a sailor, though he might not come if Sophie’s not here. He spells riddles and gets pissed off if you joke too much.”
Tori shifted, a frown on her face. She was a tiny girl, olive skinned, and three years older than Althea: eleven going on thirty-five.
“We should be careful,” Tori said, “My mom says —”
says it’s safe to play, as long as you stay in control.”
Althea placed a thin wooden board across their knees, and pulled a pen and red notebook out of her hoodie pocket. Half the pages were loose, and half were tight. She moved Tori’s hand to the surface of a flat, heart-shaped pointer, and placed her own hand opposite, their fingertips lightly touching.
“We want to know who’s out there. Is anyone out there today?”
The pointer sat motionless. After a few seconds, it moved, tentatively at first, then picking up speed.
“Feels like you’re pushing it,” Tori said.
“You feel like I’m pushing it, and I feel like you’re pushing it, but it’s not us. It’s them. Shhhh.” The pointer moved in a circle and came to rest, as if at attention. Althea’s voice rose. “Who are we speaking with?” The pointer moved immediately this time, doing three loops across the board, like three handwritten e’s, touching each letter briefly before moving to the next. The movement was graceful and precise.
“A,” Tori said. “L B —”
“That’s not possible,” Althea said, looking up from her notebook. The pointer circled YES, then curved to the center of the board. Althea flushed, her heart a ticklish ache. A year ago, her step-father Albert went to sleep, and Althea made a wish upon the moon. While others at the funeral looked distraught, Althea could hardly contain her excitement. She was the only one who knew the truth: soon, Albert would come home again. Over the past year, the physical reality of Albert’s absence had punctured her heart.
The pointer moved, and Tori said each letter aloud. “B R E C —” Althea watched the board. She and Sophie played this game for hours. Mostly, the game was for fun, Sophie said, but you had to be careful, because the game sometimes lied.
Like the moon sometimes lied.
“All right.” Tori sat back. “If you’re really Albert, then tell me something I don’t know.” Three months ago, Althea met Tori, who lived down the street. Tori became Althea’s best friend, the older sister she never had.
“What street did you live on, growing up?” Tori asked.
“But that’s not —”
The pointer moved. Tori spoke the letters, and Althea wrote them down. The pointer stopped. The girls stared at the notebook. Althea shook her head.
R — right?” The pointer circled YES and moved to the center of the board.
“We don’t know where that is.” Tori said.
“Okay,” Althea interrupted. “If you’re Albert, did you know my father?” The pointer moved in a figure eight, circling between YES and NO, faster, coming to a stop when Althea next spoke.
“So you’re not Albert?” The pointer moved, spelling
T, returning to YES.
“You’re confusing us,” Althea said. “Do you have messages for us today?”
The messages were the best part of the game. Sometimes with Sophie, the board would spell out riddles, the words coming so fast that they could barely keep up. Sometimes the words were gobbledygook, but Sophie didn’t let that happen for long.
The pointer circled YES twice and slid smoothly across the board. Eight letters in total. After the eighth, the pointer spiraled off the board, coming to rest on Althea’s open notebook.
Althea remained silent. Tori’s eyes narrowed.
“Dinner, girls!” Sophie’s voice. Tori got up.
“This is getting too weird — let’s go.”
“In a minute.”
Tori padded down the stairs. A thin, sweet string plucked at Althea’s chest, fanning upwards like baked brown sugar with cinnamon if baked brown sugar with cinnamon was a feeling. It couldn’t be. Could it?
She stared at her notebook. Her own writing was large and uneven, like a very young child’s.
Below that: ILOVEYOU
Althea was on the phone. There was no one on the other end of the line. No one live, anyway. She saved the message, and listened to it again, scrawling some notes.
“You demanding, disorganized assholes.”
The voice mail message was from her client, who wanted advertising concepts and a media strategy for a meeting with their executive team. Ten color copies of a presentation, in Ottawa, the next morning by ten.
The message had been sent a half-hour earlier. It was now two in the afternoon. She forwarded the message to Simone, the director on the account.
Althea was an account executive at Continuum, the advertising firm she’d joined right after graduating from the University of Toronto with an English degree. She started as an intern, making next to nothing, was promoted to account coordinator six months later, and a year after that, to account executive. She acted as a client liaison, and coordinated marketing, promotion and ad campaigns, working with copywriters, designers and producers.
On television, a career in advertising was portrayed as being exciting, glamorous even, and since being in the business, Althea couldn’t work out why. The competition was intense, the hours long, the clients demanding and the staff turnover high. Depending on the client, an account executive could be on call at all hours.
It was true that advertising could be lucrative. High-profile clients willingly paid hundreds of dollars per hour to the firms they retained. The people who made advertising their career thrived in a work-hard, play-hard culture. Playing hard included lots of partying, dating, even affairs.
She listened to her next message — Kevin’s voice — and her heart sank. He sounded weary.
“Listen, for our
tonight, I’d like to make dinner for you, okay? Just the two of us. I want to talk with you about something, so if you can let me know your timing, I’d appreciate it.”
There was no way she could make it to dinner. She felt a pang of guilt. This was the third time he’d attempted to plan an evening like this over the last two weeks. Their summer schedules had been nuts, and they were both feeling the strain. This was also the only night that was good for him this week, because tomorrow, he was moving out. Kevin was going back to school to earn his teaching degree at Queen’s University in Kingston, a three-hour drive east of Toronto. So they’d be spending even more time apart.
Kevin was Althea’s first love, and had been her best friend since they met five years before. When her relationship with Sophie was tenuous, Kevin provided her with the love and stability she had been missing.
The oldest of seven children from a strict Roman Catholic family, Kevin had grown up to be freakishly responsible, as Althea liked to point out. He wore glasses over his amber-brown eyes because he thought they made him look older. He was an athletic six foot three inches tall, and shy about his height. He was gorgeous and didn’t even know it. For this, Althea loved him even more.
Kevin and Althea met during orientation week at the University of Toronto in their first year. The first time they met, they ate noodles in Chinatown at four in the morning with some friends. The second time, they drank coffee after running into each other at the campus bookstore. The third time, they had dinner at the Madison pub that turned into breakfast. Two months later, Althea moved out of Sophie’s home permanently, and rented an apartment with Kevin.
Althea called Kevin back and left him a message, apologizing, saying she’d be late, she didn’t know exactly what time she’d be home, but that when she got home, she’d make up for it. She hung up.
Simone flashed by, and Althea raced out of her office to catch her.
• • •
AT TEN AFTER TWO in the morning, Althea opened the door to their ground-floor apartment, and leaned on it heavily as if the extra weight would keep it from squeaking.