It all started earlier today, while I was still on Earth, walking through a park and minding my own business. For the first time in several months mom and dad agreed it was safe enough for me to visit Earth. Unfortunately for him, the gateways exploded, killing him and creating hundreds of dimensional valleys that lay scattered across the face of Earth. One of the largest valleys created was Trellick Valley.
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As far as older sisters go, she was the best. She never tried bossing me around, not like my older brothers always did. Now, if someone would tell my brothers — and my parents — that tidbit of info, I'd be totally happy. Yeah, I know, being smothered was part of growing up. My parents insisted I was independent, letting me go — most of the time — anywhere I wanted to go with one major concession: my shadow.
Get real! Today was my seventeenth birthday. Do you know how embarrassing it was to hear 'there goes Miranda Oh, I knew he was really my body guard, a muscle-bound hot guard, but I was sick of having a shadow. At least today, he let me pretend I was on my own.
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The trees in the park helped, keeping him hidden from view. I couldn't see or smell him, but I knew he hadn't let me out of his sight. It was so embarrassing when he followed me everywhere, even into public restrooms. And, yes, that really happened! And at a high school football game of all places! I groaned just thinking about it. My friends teased me for weeks. The soft hooting of an owl brought me abruptly back to the present.
Glaring into the branches of the surrounding trees, I searched for the culprit, but I didn't see him. A strong gust of wind blew through the park, making the tall oaks sway high above my head; the limbs danced between me and the dark sky, creating odd moving shapes along the path in front of me.
I'd been walking the paths for several hours, only seeing a handful of people this late at night.
I loved the feeling of solitude the large park gave me. Back home, at Trellick Castle, I was always on display, but not here.
I didn't have trouble seeing. My night vision made the entire area look like a store room lit-up with a dangling forty-watt bulb instead of hundred watt one. Full and brilliant, the moon helped; moonbeams splotched along the path as they passed between tree limbs. To my right, water softly murmured as it flowed down the Arkansas River.
I didn't know why, but the river smelled different than the one at home. It wasn't a bad smell, just different. I craned my neck, trying to see the river, but only bits and pieces of the water and sand bar peeked through the trees. I picked this park, because several weeks ago, I did a term paper on mundane humans and I found a picture of bronze bears playing on rocks above a waterfall.
I've collected waterfall pictures for years. When I first started my collection, I bought pictures, but last Christmas Sarah gave me a new digital Canon. I love it! It made collecting a lot more fun. Now, I took my own pictures and I really wanted a picture of the bears. I glanced toward the dark trees; the river called to me. Trellick Valley covered the same area of land as Tulsa, but in my home valley the river area was surrounded wilderness, not a big city. I wondered if the river looked as different as it smelled.
On impulse, I turned off the paved path, heading into the forest of trees that skirted the river.
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The wooded area that lay between the walkway and the river wasn't very wide, but it had a thick undergrowth of spindly trees and bushes. A dozen feet into the wooded area I found a small clearing, not very big and not at all interesting. I crossed it with quick steps, eager to see the river before Fritz came looking for me. I was nearly at the far edge when the sudden presence of a gateway stopped me cold.
The surge of power tingled across my skin, forcing chill bumps to bloom across my skin. Gateways existed all across the world, but since they didn't normally pop into existence, at the drop of a hat, the presence of one spelled trouble.
I shuddered and fear skittered down my back. A random gateway was not normal; a single wild gateway might open every thousand years, but that was it.
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Whatever was going on, it must be really bad. I held my breath and turned toward the source of the surging power. Sure enough, less than ten feet away from me, a gateway stood open. I glanced past the edges and into an expensively decorated room, realizing it definitely wasn't a wild gateway. Unfortunately, her grandpa is chairman of the Vampire High Council and she is forced into attending a summer Every vampire has a destined lifeMate, a mate who is a perfect match. What happens if that perfect mate is stolen?