Up and coming fashion designer John Sanderson can’t pass on the dream commission of designing the attire of the entire wedding party of a wealthy client. The catch is that he must stay at their isolated country estate for the duration of the project, even when things start to become strange.
Samuel has been waiting a long time for John’s return. He lost him a long time ago when an angry man cast him out of this dimension on a whim. Now he has the chance to make things right and claim what is his.
Caught between the past and the future, John finds himself straddling two dimensions and faced with a decision. Will Samuel’s love for John be enough to keep him safe no matter what he decides?
Delighted laughter echoed across the playroom. The little boy playing on the floor turned toward the sound, grinned broadly, and launched himself into the arms of the white clad man who caught him easily mid-air.
“You’re back! You said you were coming much later,” the boy said as he huddled closer. He loved the way the man smelled—like freshly mowed grass after a summer rain. The scent comforted him. Not like the comfort he felt when with his nana, no. His friend was different. Better. Best.
The man smiled as he hugged the boy close to his chest. “I finished earlier than I expected, Johnny. Why? Didn’t you want me to play with you?”
“Of course I do, Samuel!” Johnny exclaimed.
Giving Samuel a last squeeze, he wiggled down and dropped to the floor where Samuel’s toy soldiers stood in a line. Within minutes, both man and child battled their way through imaginary bullets and cannons. It never mattered who won the mock encounters, the important thing was that Johnny had the best time of his life.
The scene blurred, shifted, and Johnny stood facing his father in the study, watching his cold expression as he told him he was being sent off to boarding school. Done talking, he waved his hand at Johnny in dismissal. Johnny didn’t understand what was happening, but he did as he was told and left the room, making sure to move quietly so as not to arouse his father’s anger, closing the door behind him as silently as he could. He didn’t know what he’d done wrong. The scene wavered, and this time Johnny watched in miserable silence as his nana packed his bags, crying into her handkerchief, avoiding his questions, not looking at him once.
Another blur, another shift, and this time Johnny was pressing his face against the car window, watching Samuel’s unmoving form towering over the horizon. Legs apart, the tops of the trees brushing just beneath his knees, he stood by the edge of the forest that surrounded the only home Johnny had ever known.
Blue eyes flashing with electricity, mouth tight and brows pulled down, Samuel raised an ivory tipped walking stick to the sky with one hand. As though the darkening skies above were responding to his anger, lightning streaked down, then stretched across the horizon until it hit the ivory handle. Birds’ cries echoed throughout the forest as they flew every which way, fearful of the man in white’s wrath. In one sharp chopping motion, Samuel dropped his hand. The forest rumbled, and the ground began to tremble. As suddenly as it had begun, the rumbling stopped, and a deafening silence overtook the land.
Johnny’s hands had risen to protect his eyes from the bright light. When he lowered them a moment later, he blinked in surprise and tears fell down his cheeks. No matter where he looked, Samuel was no more.
John opened his eyes and panted as though he’d run a mile. His heart thundered in his chest in time with the throbbing in his head as he stared up at the ceiling. Still, the dream lingered, refusing to release him from its hold on his mind. He felt a wet tear slide into his ear, and he sat up at the edge of the bed, rubbing his hands over his face before running them through his hair, then over to his ears when they began to itch. He grimaced when he felt the wetness there. A shaft of pain cut right into the middle of his forehead, making him pull on the short strands of his hair, welcoming the tug on his scalp. It gave him temporary relief.
Of late, his dreams made him restless in their persistence and repetitiveness, making sleep impossible and his headaches worse. It was always the same dream—the man clothed in white, blue eyes flashing lightning bright, a white handled walking stick, loud thunder, and then an overwhelming, lingering, sense of loss.
Years before, in boarding school, he’d woken up crying from nightmares, not from fear, but from intense feelings of sadness and loss. His roommates had worried after John had disturbed their sleep countless times. One of them had complained to their house master, who took him aside for a private talk. As John could never remember the details of the dreams, the house master consulted the guidance counselor, but John had nothing to tell him, either.
Faced with no other choice, the school administration had sent word to John’s trustees, who’d quickly called in a psychiatrist. In due course, the man concluded Johnny was experiencing a delayed reaction to the tragic deaths of his parents in a fire that had consumed their estate a mere six months after John had entered the private academy. The psychiatrist prescribed medications to address what he’d diagnosed as mild depression, and it had worked for a time. John slept peacefully through the night until such time as the dreams eventually subsided. There even came a time when he’d almost forgotten ever having them.
Almost, but not quite.
Nineteen years later, the dreams returned with a vengeance. At first, all John could remember were the restless nights. They recurred more often than not, and the mental images were getting clearer and more intense, resulting in blinding headaches no amount of medication could relieve.
Knowing he could never go back to sleep, he gave up trying and got out of his bed. Walking to the bathroom, he took one of the prescription painkillers, swallowing it dry before heading back outside. His eyes adjusted to the dim light as he walked naked into his drafting room. In truth, John was getting used to the recurring dreams, welcoming them for their predictability, especially as these sleepless nights were when he got most creative.
Might as well turn the inconvenience into something positive.