Read The Awakening Online

Authors: Kat Quickly

Tags: #Romance, #erotica, #sensual, #global, #warming, #intrigue, #thriller, #politics, #conflict, #competition, #wolves, #polar bears, #New York, #the Arctic, #environment, #woods, #shape shifters, #magic, #immortal, #healers, #dreams, #destiny, #legend, #publishing, #swimming, #love, #good, #evil

The Awakening

BOOK: The Awakening
13.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Title Page

THE AWAKENING

By

Kat Quickly

Publisher Information

The Awakening published in 2010 by

Andrews UK Limited

www.andrewsuk.com

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

The characters and situations in this book are entirely imaginary and bear no relation to any real person or actual happening.

Copyright © Kat Quickly

The right of Kat Quickly to be identified as author of this book has been asserted in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyrights Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Prologue

The Legend of the Ice Kingdom

In the Great Blizzard before time existed when the bears and wolves roamed the Earth as one in the time of unending Cold and Ice the Warrior Goddess, Ursula, came amongst them, bestowing powers of courage, healing, shape shifters and great strength. It was to be their destiny she told them in her weirding ways – to protect the Great Ice, keep the planet in balance, protect the weak, hunt down the cruel and misbegotten of this world.

These chosen Bears and Wolves were of the purest white. They had the strongest hearts and she bestowed upon them the powers of immortality, healing, and the gift of invisibility such that they could move amongst man undetected, intangible like the mist swirling through the mountains and forests of the warmer continents.

Their task was noble but their means sometimes savage. As time passed and the Great Blizzard gave way to the Great Silent White the bears and wolves prospered. They were masters of their domain and their domain was vast. They were worshipped and revered by the lesser beings of their world.

Ursula walked with them, guiding them, directing their actions. She taught the people of the Ice to live harmoniously with the Bears and Wolves, allowing the intermingling of species at chosen times to ensure the bonds between man and beast were strong. She allowed humans to mate with the beasts to create a new species, to take on the special powers of the beasts, to become shape-shifters, to heal and protect the planet, but with the language, intellect and intuition of humans. These Half-lings were also immortal and moved as one with the Wolves and Bears. They were a powerful race – part human, part power beast – destined to rule the planet – to take it to places undreamed of by the ancient people who wrote the story of Ursula, the Warrior Goddess and her shape shifting Ice Beasts.

The Half-lings were not allowed to breed with ordinary mortals –only the beasts or others of their kind – Ursula insisted the blood-lines be kept pure and strong. And should a Half-ling stray from this rule Ursula’s retribution was swift, brutal and unforgiving. She knew what would happen to them if this one rule was broken. Too much animal and they would be hunted to extinction. Too much human and the line would die out.

She herself would lie with Half-lings, changing her shape and sex to be with the ones she deemed the most worthy. The few that she loved. But when breeding, as she did herself from time to time, she lay with the strongest, bravest and largest of the beasts. She favoured the Bears, but over time she bore enough children of Wolves for balance and dignity to be maintained. In her loving she made her partners great, imparting some of her own magic and power. All beasts and mortals of the Ice knew how significant it was to be loved by Ursula.

But the Darkness came. The time of the Great Volcano – the spread of man, the decline of the Ice and the dissipation of magic and belief. The Darkness covered the Earth, the sun blotted by a great cloud and the Ice shifted beneath the Goddess’s feet and she knew the end had begun. She felt herself diminish, become too still. She feared for her people. Her last mating was with the Greatest Bear and the child was indeed a beauty. But Ursula was not strong enough to protect and rear this wonderful gift. Wise and safe hands took the child from her arms, taking it to a mortal life, knowing there would one day be a time for the child to know of her mother, her bloodline and her destiny.

As Ursula was lost to them the Bears and Wolves and the Half-lings feared for the future. The elders amongst them knew they would lose their way without the guiding light of their Warrior Goddess. Without her steel and love they were doomed. All that was left to them was her Sign in the Sky and the hope she would return to them before they were only creatures of myth and legend.

Chapter 1

Carmen had the dream again. She was in a cave but it wasn’t particularly dark or scary. It was a white cave, an ice cave she felt, but did not know for certain. She felt safe and warm. It seemed to her that Heaven might be like this place, but she knew it wasn’t Heaven. She felt as if she belonged here – safe and wanted. She felt loving arms enfolding her, holding her close. She saw a woman’s face smiling at her. She reached up her tiny baby hand to touch that face and her little fingers were smothered in kisses. She felt herself smile and luxuriate in this embrace of absolute love. She was carried to the mouth of the cave. Outside in the brilliant whiteness sat Wolves and Bears – wild, free, completely white and still. They looked to her and the woman holding her, and she was sure they nodded as one and seemed to bow in the greatest respect. Then one of the Bears, the largest – and, she thought, the most handsome – held out his paw to her and beckoned to her to come to him.

Carmen had had this dream for as long as she could remember. As a small child it had given her comfort, especially in those long dark years after they’d moved to the city and her life had changed forever. Even now, despite all her sporting success, she wasn’t sure if it had been worth it. She’d never stopped missing the country, the farm: all that freedom, the animals, the forests and that wonderful clean air. How could she forget that the move had been because of her father’s death and her mother’s inability to cope in the country without him?

She shook her head, banishing silly memories to the dark corners of her mind where they belonged. It was the dream that had set her off, and she wondered still why it came – if there was a message in it? One she was still to decipher. Outside the spring morning had brought out the birds and the sun was flooding through the trees. She threw on her Nikes, called the dogs and set off on her usual run around Central Park. How else would she start the day? Andrew had taken to chastising her about such activities – you never knew who might be in the Park – especially at such an early hour (or late if she went for a run in the evening as she was wont to do). Didn’t she realise there were some very nasty characters out there? She’d laughed at him of course.

“Don’t be so silly, Andrew. Why do you think I can’t look after myself?”

He’d shrugged, taken her hands in his and looked so earnestly at her that she almost agreed with him, almost promised never to set foot outside her basement apartment alone ever again.

“You must know how much I care about you,” he’d said.

“But I have Alaska and Zanzibar,” Carmen had reminded him. “No-one in their right mind comes near anyone with a German Shepherd, let alone two of them. Besides, they are very fine and scary specimens.”

“I know,” Andrew had nodded. “I do. But I am allowed to worry. I love you, Carmen.”

She’d smiled, almost blushed. She wasn’t really used to Andrew, to his absolute presence in her life. His desire to look after her was very flattering, if not verging on the obsessive. She guessed once they’d been together longer than a few months he’d relax a little and be happy that she actually was a highly self sufficient young woman. She didn’t need a man to make her complete or run her life for her. But it was nice to have someone as handsome and generous as Andrew as her lover. He was already Managing Director at Great Blizzard Publishing Enterprises and if he had his way he’d be more than that in a very short time. Andrew was a man used to having what he wanted, when he wanted it.

Carmen was used to men passing through her life, having great sex but not connecting with them. Sex was for recreation, regeneration. Her coach, Todd James, had believed in the importance of sex for his elite athletes. Once Carmen was old enough he knew it would be the thing to relax her, refocus her. So she had embraced the idea of sex as tonic, sex as recreation with a range of very attractive swimmers. Their bodies had connected in physical acts of pleasure that toned their egos and honed their performances. In some respects it was a poor beginning to a girl’s sexual life. Her physical needs were very well met, but there had never been any emotional connection. And until she met Andrew she hadn’t realised that was what was missing from her life: the emotional connection with the physical that lifted sex to love making. So, despite Andrew’s smothering ways when he took her in his arms and made love to her she felt connected to him in a way she’d never felt with anyone else and she loved him for it.

Not long after his warning about running unescorted in Central Park, out at dinner at his favourite restaurant, Andrew had presented her with a small red velvet box. He’d casually put it on the table next to her glass of wine.

“I’d like you to accept this,” he’d said quietly. “And me along with it. I promise to curb my controlling ways – just let me take care of you, Carmen. Always.” He wanted her to understand that anything Carmen wanted Carmen could have – career, children, beautiful house wherever she wanted, a faithful husband – and Carmen should not underestimate what that actually meant to a man of Andrew’s reputation in and beyond the city. He believed he was finally ready to settle down and he had chosen her. Part of him felt that she should be more appreciative of what that actually meant. Andrew Adams was part of a highly respected East Coast family, lawyers and politicians, people with connections and money. Carmen may have been the greatest female athlete of all time but his family was important, unlike hers, and his own (non-political) star was rising fast. Besides, his dad, William the Senator, had himself fallen in love with Carmen and made it quite clear to Andrew that should he decide she was the one, Will would bless the union. Which was a far cry from what he’d said about most of Andrew’s other girlfriends. In fact Andrew had been utterly surprised by his father’s overwhelmingly positive response to Carmen. But he’d been pleased nevertheless: it made a pleasant change to take a girl home and have a pleasant family dinner.

Carmen cried. The ring was stunning – a two carat pink diamond from the Argyle Mine in Australia (Andrew had shares) with a diamond encrusted 18carat gold band – and Andrew’s face was full of love and kindness and she wondered what more she could want in a man.

“I love you, Carmen Whyte. Marry me?”

She nodded and tried not to let her tears smear her mascara too much. He placed the ring on her finger and ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon. “Of course I will. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Carmen had had the ice cave dream every night since Andrew’s proposal. It was bothering her because in the past the dream had come when she was upset or worried and it had comforted her. But there was nothing to be upset about in being engaged to Andrew. She was the envy of New York’s glitterati. She may have retired from competition but her life was fuller than ever. She was happy and she felt alive and bursting with energy. But that normally happened in spring – she always felt as if she was emerging from hibernation, as if she moved in slow motion in winter. Perhaps it was the new job worrying away at the edge of her subconscious?

The new job (created by Andrew) was indeed a dream job. Head of the new imprint at Great Blizzard - Aurora – biographies of inspirational Americans, beginning with sports stars, namely her. Her endorsements and investments over the last ten years had left her in a comfortable enough position but she wasn’t Michael Jordan. She didn’t have enough to retire on. She’d bought her apartment and set up her mother in a nice place over in Greenwich Village. She could have drifted from chairing one charity to the next, making public appearances, lending her face to good causes, trying to get her own talk show, but she didn’t really connect that well with people. A normal sort of job was what she needed, only in the public eye from time to time when she absolutely had to. She wanted to contribute, do something more useful than just swim or become some pathetic has-been appearing on
What happened to?
shows.

No the job was a good thing. A place where she could use her brains. Where she could use her celebrity to encourage others to tell their stories and inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things. She was also pleased to be a part of Great Blizzard, the most ethical and environmentally conscious company in the world. She knew her appointment had ruffled feathers in the company. Andrew had said that there were several people who thought the next big promotion was theirs. For Andrew to appoint an outsider, worse, someone who knew nothing about publishing, was tantamount to treason. But he hadn’t cared. Aurora was his baby, his vision and dream. He knew that to have someone as magical as Carmen Whyte as the figurehead would bring more cache and kudos than any of the people on his team. He had good writers, great editors and publishers but he needed a star. So four months ago when he met Carmen at the launch of Utopia’s
America’s Greatest
, a beautiful coffee table book celebrating fifty of the best all time Olympic stars, he realised two things. One - he should have thought of the idea first. And two - he knew he needed someone like Carmen working for him, as well as letting Great Blizzard publish her story. True, he expected to sleep with her, even date for a while until he had secured the book and the position. He knew she could be very useful to someone like him. He hadn’t expected to fall in love with her. He hadn’t expected to ask her to marry him, but once Will had explained Carmen’s potential Andrew had seen the merits in such a commitment.

Everyone in the US knew Carmen Whyte. She was the most outstanding female swimmer of all time. She’d burst onto the national scene at fourteen, smashing world records at her first national meet. She went onto win three individual gold medals at Atlanta (200, 400 & 800 freestyle), Sydney and Athens. Every time she got into a pool she won. Usually breaking records. Countless drug tests revealed nothing – just a superb athlete at the top of her game. Perhaps her unusually large hands and feet gave her that special edge? Many commentators thought she could go onto Beijing and repeat her already phenomenal feats, but she was 24 at Athens and the thought of four more years in an intense relationship with chlorine and coaches in order to make it to the next Olympics was something she didn’t want to contemplate. She had done enough – it was someone else’s turn. Besides, she had nothing else to prove. It would take a hundred years before there was another swimmer – male or female, anywhere in the world to rival Carmen Whyte. It was time for a life of her own – a more useful and normal life. So, despite Todd and public urgings for her to stay on, two years after Athens, with the Pan-Pax and World Championships under her belt for the final time, she announced her retirement and taken herself off for a long holiday, right away from cameras and sports journalists.

BOOK: The Awakening
13.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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