"Rick!" Tamia bolted upright in bed, fear scrambling along her nerves. Her hand flailed out, blindly searching for Rick, to reassure herself he was there. Ice plunged through her when her hand dropped to empty sheets, cold from the air circulation system. He wasn’t there.

 

Her gaze flew instantly to the glowing digital display of the bedside clock. 0400 hours. Rick had been gone a little over an hour, and already her imagination was working overtime. God, she was paranoid. And, yet...

 

Tamia hugged Rick’s pillow to herself, her face buried in the cool material as she inhaled the scent of him clinging there. He was okay. He had to be. Images from her nightmare flashed in her mind, and her heart pounded with fear. It was all so real... Dampness slicked her cheeks, and she realized she was crying.

 

"Get a grip," she muttered to herself. "You’ve had nightmares before."

 

She shoved down the niggling little voice determined to remind her how all her worst nightmares had a way of coming true. That was Kuron’s superstitions talking, dammit. She didn’t believe in precognition. Did she?

 

She laid there, staring at the ceiling, as she battled fears she couldn’t exorcise, for what felt like forever. She was surprised to find only half an hour had elapsed, when the door tone sounded. Then, the actual time sank in. 0430. Tamia’s heart caught in dread as the sick feeling of fear returned. Rick wouldn’t sound the door tone, and the only other person who’d show up at their door at this time of the morning was whoever was on Comms, which spelled trouble.

 

The door tone sounded again, more insistent than before; like someone was leaning on the exterior doorpad. Ice shot up Tamia’s spine. Whoever was at the door, it was important. She was suddenly reluctant to find out why. Still, she rose from the bed and made her way to the door as she pulled on her robe. Dread dogged her every step, and flashes of her nightmare haunted her. Her hand shook as she hit the lock release, and her heart came to an abrupt halt as she met Jen LaSaulle’s somber eyes. Oh, God.

 

"Jen?" The query left her in a whisper as fear gripped her so hard she trembled. Suddenly, her nightmare didn’t seem so impossible. Terror ricocheted through her. The only way to maintain her fraying calm was to stay focused on one thing. Her gaze fixed on Jen’s face, even as she reached to steady herself against the doorjamb. This was all a bad dream, she told herself over and over. Whatever happened, she was still in her nightmares.

 

"There’s someone here to see you."

 

At the tone of Jen’s voice, and the sympathy in her green eyes, Tamia’s throat closed. She knew what those words, and that tone, meant, and it was no nightmare. Her heart froze in her chest, and she couldn’t breathe as the cold spread through her, and she went numb. The world spun, and she tightened her grip on the doorjamb as reality swam.

 

"Rick." His name slipped from her numb lips, and her nightmares rushed back with new terror. Only, they were no longer nightmares, and reality drove her to the floor as her world disappeared once again in an earth-shattering explosion.

Contact Esther Mitchell at:

esthermitchell@esthermitchell.com

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