The Lost (Echoes from the Past #9) - Irina Shapiro
It took a long moment for reality to sink in. It felt strangely surreal, as if the scene were playing out on stage rather than in his own house, the sharp blade in the assailant’s hand a stage prop rather than a deadly weapon. He’d have only one chance to overcome his attacker, and he’d have to time it perfectly if he hoped to even the odds and save the woman he adored from a horrific fate.
He had thought he’d be afraid, but all he felt was an all-consuming fury, the bloodlust he’d read so much about surging through his veins as a red mist descended before his eyes. It was now or never. He charged. At first, all he felt was a pinch. Staring downward, he was surprised to see the blade buried deep in his side, only the plain black hilt visible. Then came the shock, and the pain. He continued to struggle, but his limbs grew leaden and his thoughts slowed to a crawl, his body shutting down as the lifeblood drained out of him. He would have died a happy man knowing he’d made a difference to the outcome, but some remote part of his brain that was still functioning cruelly reminded him of the truth. He hadn’t been able to prevent the inevitable.
All was lost.
A sweet silence descended on the house, the kind of silence one could only hope to enjoy when two children under the age of five went down for their afternoon nap, and the third was still at school. Quinn closed the door to the nursery softly behind her and returned downstairs, eager to enjoy an hour of peace. She turned on the electric kettle, then went into the lounge, where she picked up several toys and fished Mia’s still-full sippy cup from beneath the sofa.
Having marginally tidied up, she made herself a cup of tea and settled at the kitchen table with her laptop, ready to catch up on her emails and work on an article she was writing for a well-known periodical. She’d meant to finish it this morning while the children were at nursery school, but she’d had several errands to see to and then stopped by the institute to meet Gabe for a quick lunch, which was as close as they got to date night these days.
Quinn had always meant to return to work after Mia was born, but since the baby’s arrival, she’d found it hard to commit to a regular schedule and missed the flexibility of working on the Echoes from the Past series. If she were honest, she missed other things as well, including using her gift of experiencing a dead person’s memories by holding an object they had owned. She missed the highs and lows, the anxiety that coiled in her belly as she neared the final act of the person’s life, and the joy of sharing what she’d learned with the viewers. She missed working with Rhys as well. They still saw each other socially, but their get-togethers were infrequent, and nowadays, mostly with the kids. Rhys’s daughter Vanessa was almost the same age as Mia, so the adults enjoyed lunch in the garden or a quiet takeaway in the lounge while the children played.
She was happy, though. These days, her family was the heart of her, and her income from Echoes had been replaced by royalties from Gabe’s bestselling book, A Traitor’s Heart, which dealt with the plight of noble-born women during the Wars of the Roses. It had started out as a work of non-fiction, but the narrative had taken on a life of its own and become something of a crossover, the history of the period seen through the eyes of two families whose loyalties lay on either side of the political divide. Gabe had been surprised and elated by the success of his first book and was considering a follow-up outing into the literary world. Quinn was more than happy to support him and help him in any way she could and secretly hoped he might come across some artifact in his research that would allow her to use her gift to give him that much-needed edge.
Having dealt with her professional correspondence, she turned her attention to private emails. There was a message from Jude, who was currently stationed in Germany, and a brief missive from Brett, who was in his third year at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, pursuing a degree in business management. Brett