Athena Butler, the twenty-year-old descendant of an ancient bloodline of psychics, yearns to live a normal life. She wants a career in art, a boyfriend, independence. Her clairvoyance has taught her, however, that people can be false and dangerous. Although warned to keep her psychic gifts a secret, she’s recruited by law enforcement to help search for a serial killer and to uncover a terrorist cell that threatens her own diplomat father.
She bonds with an intriguing, handsome man, Kas Skoros, who knows her secret and accepts it. Of the same bloodline, his own mother is precognitive and predicts they are meant to be together…someday. Kas realizes that life is too uncertain, but he can’t resist his growing passion for the strange young woman.
Still, they face obstacles beyond their control. Can Athena and Kas overcome these obstacles? More importantly, can Athena stay alive long enough to fulfill her dream of a normal life?
This novel was previously published.
One moment nine-year-old Athena Butler was sitting on the floor, holding hands with her friends in their Mates for Life circle. One of them, Cynthia, was relaying a bawdy joke her older sister had told her during her weekend home. All four were giggling, their eyes wide with gleeful shock. The next moment Athena felt the barrage, like a pelting hailstorm into her brain.
I knew they’d be shocked, tee-hee, I haven’t even told them the naughty ones, such prudes, don’t get your knickers in a knot, no, mustn’t think that, Athena has a brother, why look so shocked? She should know what a dingle-bob looks like, tee hee, it’s so disgusting, like a banger without the mash, funny but disgusting! Will I have to confess this to Father Dillon? Oh bother, I won’t, it’s nothing, just silly words, dingle-bobs, Susan’s brother calls it his Johnson, I’ve heard it called Bobby-boy—Oh lordy! Susan saw her brother and his girlie friend doing it, really doing it! Shall I tell them? She saw him stick it in between the girlie’s legs, it was as stiff as a stick—
The sharp images and intense emotions hit Athena’s mind and sent her reeling in panic. Not at first, but the words and images kept pelting her brain.
Stop! Was she losing her mind? Going mad?
Fear clutched her heart and she collapsed in a heap, screeching as if a massive headache had struck. She clutched her head on both sides, tried to cover her ears.
The other three girls flung apart as if struck. They stared at her with looks of horror.
Another jumbled mess of emotions swamped her. She shrieked at each new barrage.
Athena was only dimly aware when the three other girls backed up in their confusion and surprise. One ran off. But every time the other two touched Athena, the frightful barrage of thoughts and emotions overtook her. She screamed, squeezed her eyes shut and heaved hysterical sobs.
Curling herself into a ball, Athena heard the headmistress run into the girls’ dormitory room.
Her three friends clamored for Miss Barkley’s attention. Athena had suddenly flipped out, one of them cried, had gone mad and they had no idea why. A few minutes before, Athena was laughing along with them. Then suddenly she was shrieking as though in great pain.
Miss Barkley didn’t believe them, said they were exaggerating or pulling a prank. Athena felt the woman shake her shoulder, and suddenly the barrage struck again. She screamed and curled further into herself. Aware of the commotion she’d stirred up, she knew Miss Barkley could see no physical injuries of any kind. The woman’s thoughts intruded into Athena’s mind as she held her hand to Athena’s forehead.
The child’s having a seizure. Good god, I must call an ambulance.
Miss Barkley turned quiet for a moment, then abruptly took her mobile phone out of her pocket. The plea she issued to the EMTs was to get there as fast as humanly possible.
Was that it? Was she in the throes of a seizure? A seizure of the brain? Any human touch scorched her mind, making her flinch violently from any contact, causing her to shrink from the next round of pain. A seizure? She knew a girl her age who had epileptic seizures, but those seizures rendered her unconscious.
Meanwhile, Athena had stilled into a fetal position and was no longer whimpering, but breathing shallowly. Although cocooned into her ball of blackness, Athena could hear everything.
“Take her to St. Bart’s,” ordered the shaken headmistress to the two EMTs who arrived minutes later. “I’ll ring her parents in France. The father’s with the Foreign Service.”
Athena knew the woman found refuge in officiousness. She’d seen the headmistress flustered before. Her response to confusion was action and orders.
“Pack her suitcase, children. I do believe Athena Butler may leave us for a while.” They began to weep. “I am so very sorry, but what else can we do? I shall keep you girls informed as to her progress at St. Bart’s.”
“I think she’s catatonic,” one of the two male EMTs said. The other hushed him up before saying, “I’ll start a drip line, sedate her.”
Athena knew what that meant and didn’t mind. That meant she would fall asleep and the pain would go away. She felt the EMTs strap her into a gurney before she felt a prick on her arm. She didn’t squirm or cry out, for suddenly she felt no pain. Craving sleep all of a sudden, she let the sedative work its magic, drip by drip through an IV line.
She could hear Miss Barkley helping the girls pack her suitcase, still interrogating them. What were they doing when Athena collapsed? Had they drunk or smoked anything? No, no, nothing, just telling jokes and holding hands. Miss Barkley told the EMTs that she needed to call the Chief of Staff of the psychiatric ward of St. Bartholemew’s. It was the county hospital less than ten miles away. The woman promised the three girls that she would check in on Athena later the next day.
That promise quieted their tears, and for that Athena was grateful. She hadn’t meant to frighten anybody.
Athena felt herself lifted and carried downstairs. Strange, how clear and still her mind had become. The mysterious images, thoughts, and emotions had disappeared. She wondered how soon her parents would come to the hospital. The psychiatric ward of St. Bartholemew’s sounded frightful. Wasn’t that for people who went mad?
Was that what she was, mad? Mad as the hatter in the Alice in Wonderland book she loved? Good golly! Would they strap her in a straitjacket, like she heard they did with psychos at St. Bart’s?
If so, how dreadful! She’d been so looking forward to playing rounders, hockey, and tennis that spring. She was certain they wouldn’t let a mad little girl stay at school with the others.
She began to weep. Silent tears.