All Joan Dark wants is a quiet life as a student in Portland. Sadly, she’s an unwitting pawn in a power play that involves creation itself.
Does she have a choice?
Who’s manipulating free will?
Anything can happen when gods disagree.
Joan cycled along the river path, crossed over the Steel Bridge, and continued along through the greenery making up the waterfront park. A mild drizzle kept her cool, and the low-lying clouds transformed the world with a gray overlay. She had university classes that day, and turned south away from the river. The rain got more intense. A steady stream of water ran down her face, dripping from her nose. She laughed.
Good thing I’m not wearing any makeup. I’d have black streaks. Only two more blocks to go, and then I’ll be inside the campus. Even the air smells and feels damp, and the clouds extend across the entire sky. I can almost reach up and touch them. Yes, it’s socked in for the day and reminds me of home, many, many lifetimes ago.
She wore a light-blue-hooded waterproof cape, with matching long pants underneath. In her backpack, in addition to her brick-sized cell phone and notepad, she had a complete change of clothes. Neatly folded inside a plastic bag were a simple green T-shirt, a navy-blue pleated tennis mini-skirt, matching over-the-knee socks, and packed separately, blue colored leather platform clogs.
I could never have worn such fine clothes back when. The material’s so soft. The villagers would have called me a lady-of-the-night for showing so much flesh. Here, nobody seems to mind, and I like the way men look at me.
She left her cruiser unlocked in the bike rack, and popped into the bathroom to get changed. She took off her cape. With a quick shake, it was dry. The same happened with her pants. She slipped into the stall and got changed. It’s time for class. She headed out. Her damp sneakers were in one plastic bag, her folded waterproofs in another, and both were safely stowed in her backpack. She stopped and looked at herself briefly in the mirror, then did a twirl. Her skirt rose nicely. She smiled.
I used to think I was tall. Well, that was five hundred years ago. These days, at best I’m average height, but these four-inch platforms really help as they bring me up to five-feet-six. Should I grow my auburn hair and go back to how I was as a little girl? No, I still like the page-boy look. It’s me, and I’m not ready to change.
Her first class was a master-class on the Hundred Year’s War. She’d started with the undergraduate class, but after a long thirty-minute discussion with the professor—right in the middle of a lecture―she was moved up. This class was more intimate, with only five other graduate students who were doing research on the subject. They met in the professor’s office. As soon as she walked in, John got up, and offered her the chair next to him. She gave him a radiant smile and sat down. I’m not ready to take the next step. But I like the warmth I feel every time he glances at me.
He asked, “How about coffee afterward?”
“You always ask, and I always say no.” She smiled. “Keep on asking. You never know, your luck may change.”
“You’re a tease.”
The professor coughed, and the class, which was more like a study group with the professor acting as facilitator, started.
The class ended. The professor asked, “Joan, where do you get your insights?”
She laughed. “I think I lived at that time, you know, in a previous life.”
It was the professor’s turn to smile. “Keep your secrets. Remember your research is to discover the real Charles VII, when he was only a duke.”
“I haven’t forgotten. I may have to get in my private time capsule and interview him.”
She left the professor’s office. John was hanging about in the corridor. It looked pretty obvious that he was waiting to talk to Joan.
He’s handsome in a rugged way, six-feet-five, and could have been a wrestler, except he has long curly blond hair. Long hair’s not a good idea in a fight. I’d better put him out of his misery. With his piercing blue eyes, I wonder if he’s related to Thor…definitely has Viking blood.
Joan walked up to him and stopped. “Well?”
“You’re a beautiful mystery. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you lived through those events. You talk about these historic people and slip into present tense. They’re real to you and not just words on paper.”
“I’m glad you think I’m beautiful. It’s a girl’s job to make the mystery last as long as possible.”
John laughed. “I like you.”
Joan interrupted, “I had a near death experience, and it’s still uppermost in my mind. I like you, too. I’ve watched the soaps. The can-we-be-friends comment is usually the kiss of death, but in my case, it’s true.”
“I’ll take whatever you’re willing to give. Would you like coffee, noon at the cafeteria? I’ll buy.”
Joan laughed and her blue eyes sparkled. “You’re on. I may be a few minutes late. My next lecture about the occult is on the other side of the campus.”
“I have my laptop, so take your time.”
I think I’ve just set up my first date and have butterflies in my stomach. Joan wandered off to her next class on Mythology and Folklore. The door was closed. I’m late. Daydreaming will do that to you. She sneaked in and took a seat at the back of the lecture room. The professor was talking about vampires.
“Most of you believe vampires live only in the world of fiction. I’m here to tell you that’s not correct. Only a couple of years ago, you would have been locked up for believing in little green aliens. Now we know better. Those aliens in their massive spaceships, clomping around in their white armor suits, and blowing up buildings, were a wake-up call. We defeated them. None of us know how. It’s a well-kept UN secret.