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A Spark in the Wind

a short story prelude
to the TimeDrifter Series by

[_For hardship does not spring from the soil, _
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.]
[_Yet man is born to trouble _
as surely as sparks fly upward.]
- Job 5:6-7

A Spark in the Wind

Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Lynch

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, or otherwise in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without prior written permission.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.

Cover and interior design:

Lauren Lynch Design & Writing

www.laurenlynch.com

Requests for information should be sent to:

[email protected]

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are paraphrased from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc. ™

Australia, 1929

Some places were more unforgiving than others. Daniela seemed to exist in that space, no matter how far she traveled. She’d found new life and happiness in this barren wilderness, but she’d left behind a piece of her heart. She hadn’t counted on that in her eagerness to escape. 

In the dusty outback, the sun-baked pastures of their sheep station stretched for miles. Her handsome husband, Will, led the drovers in the daily migration of their livestock, leaving Daniela in the elusive company of their daughter, Anna. 

Their wisp of a girl preferred to entertain herself among the brittle grasses, echoing birdcall and befriending orphan lambs. She’d never been one to linger indoors for long and Daniela had little to entice her — not the library or drawing room she’d had growing up. She couldn’t blame Anna. She’d never enjoyed being cooped up indoors either as a girl.

The piercing squawk of an apostlebird interrupted her brooding. At that, she reached into her pocket to grasp a familiar shape — one that fit into the palm of her hand like a part of her, the back of its head worn smooth and bright from the worrying of her thumb. It brought to mind a time when dreams and possibilities had seemed limitless. Now, the whimsical bird her brother Enzo had crafted from metal scraps merely tormented her.

Daniela swept aside the gauzy curtains in her upstairs bedroom. Will’s old Model H truck rumbled into the yard in a cloud of dust, but Anna was still nowhere to be seen. Her husband’s boots thudded up the wooden steps. His energy level never seemed to wane no matter how hot the day. 

Will slid a letter onto her vanity table. Returned unopened and shabby from weeks of travel, the letter bore the familiar scrawl of her handwriting and a reminder of her futile attempts to contact Enzo. “Here’s another one, Dani. Why do you keep sending them?” 

They’d married and left Italy before her brother had returned home. Will hadn’t had the opportunity to meet Enzo and couldn’t understand how the continued silence of her once tender hearted brother cut her to the core. Enzo had always been her comforter. The boy she’d grown up with would never have turned his back on her. 

“I can’t give up, Will. He’s my brother.” Daniela jabbed a bobby pin over a curl, addressing him through the mirror. Few — other than her small family — were likely to see her on a station this remote, but she wouldn’t let dust and isolation dull her polished appearance quite yet. “Anyway, not all the letters have been returned.”

“The contest of wills continues then?” His mirrored reflection winked. He rolled up his shirtsleeves exposing strong sun-bronzed forearms — arms that had swept her off her feet once the war ended.

“No contest. I have you — the greatest of Wills. I could never regret any of this — not choosing you, or coming to Australia. This is my home now.” Her husband’s reflection bent to kiss the nape of her neck. They could be married a hundred years. It would still send a tingle down her spine.

Back at their family’s estate in Italy, Enzo might yet be recovering from his years in the Great War. No one returned from war unscathed. What had become of her gentle big brother?

Memories of Enzo grew more brittle and faded with each year that passed, but she’d never stop trying to reach out. No amount of time or distance could sever their bond. One day, he’d remember that and respond.

Italy, 1915

Daniela’s shoulders sagged as she lingered at the window, the spine of her fountain pen pressed to her chin. The cool refuge of Casa dei Sogni’s formal gardens beckoned below. Beyond it, endless rows of grapevines stretched over the hills as far as the eye could see — an abundant reminder of the estate’s vast holdings and its seclusion. 

“You harbor such disappointment for one so young. This legacy of disenchantment, passed from mother to daughter, plagues you — a desire that cannot be satisfied in this world.”

“Sage, enough! I need a friend, not a seer. Why must you be so cruel?” There were days when Daniela regretted bringing the foundling kitten home. Sage had appeared innocent enough at first — a ball of gray fur tucked among the Alpine geraniums and blue fescue — but these days the cat was seven eighths doom and gloom.

“You find me cruel? I was merely being honest. I suppose not everyone can appreciate that.” Sage tromped across Daniela’s composition book, smearing the fresh ink. 

Daniela groaned and closed it. The cat did seem to have an extrasensory ability for laying her weaknesses bare—the painful truth with claws and an impatient disposition. “Well, that sort of honesty seems pretty harsh from my perspective.”

“Would you prefer a lie?” Sage’s pupils narrowed.

Was silence too much to expect from a cat? Daniela pressed her lips together to avoid the pout her nanny, Miss Wright, often scolded her for. “The sort of legacy you’ve described isn’t fair. It’s nothing short of a curse.”

“Life is rarely fair. The sins of the mothers — as they should say — have consequences. It is the downside of your inheritance.”

“Well they aren’t kind either then. How far back does this supposed affliction go?” Daniela gritted her teeth at the unfairness of it all.

“As far back as the first mother, I would imagine.” Sage arched her back and coiled her tail. “You’re only human after all.”

“I suppose that would explain my mother’s lack of involvement in her children’s lives. We’re little more than ornamental — silent conversation pieces at her dinner parties, to be put away until the next occasion.” Daniela sighed. There had to be some way to escape. 

Sage gave an indignant sniff. “The woman doesn’t even acknowledge my existence.”

“Yes, well … she’s believed you’re a figment of my imagination for some time now. Given your antisocial tendencies, I wouldn’t expect her to take notice any time soon.” Now that she was fifteen, it might be time for her family to reconsider their assumptions.

“I’m not antisocial. I’m asocial.” Sage flicked her tail. “I can hardly be held to blame. In a villa this size, an elephant could go unnoticed.”

Daniela shrugged. “As you may have noticed, I can also be inconspicuous. I rather prefer it that way.”

“Are you going to waste a sunny afternoon on meaningless lessons?” Sage nudged her with an inky paw. 

Daniela tucked the cat under one arm, slid her bedroom door open and peeked into the hallway. No sign of her nanny or any of the other household staff. Only distant ancestors peering down their noses at her from the portrait-lined walls — may they rot for passing on their accursed discontent. Had the matrons eyeing her from their gilded frames also longed for escape? 

“The hall’s clear.” Daniela pronounced, releasing Sage from under her arm. “Can you make it to the garden on your own?” 

“One well-timed hairball hawked in the kitchen should land me in the garden fast enough.” Sage produced a throaty gag on the spot. 

“Race you, then!” Daniela darted back into her room. 

Throwing the window open wide, she took the first precarious step onto the rose trellis. Thorns latched onto her ridiculous flounces. Daniela gave her frilly hem a yank and continued downward, taking the last few feet at a leap. She spun around, ready to barrel toward the fountain and claim her win — but there was Sage, lounging on the ledge, giving one paw a casual lick. 

“How do you do that?” Daniela huffed. 

“Ancient feline secret.” Sage purred, rising to take a victory lap around Daniela’s ankles. 

Allowing herself an indignant sniff, Daniela resolved not to waste precious moments of freedom debating fairness with a cat. Miss Wright would return before long to check on the progress of her half-finished essay. “Game of hide and seek?” 

“You’re it.” Sage announced, disappearing behind a cypress hedge. 

Daniela counted to twenty before checking behind a potted lemon tree. She continued on to thirty before lunging behind a statue of Pomona. “Ready or not, here I come,” she sang out, confident she’d catch Sage stalking the birdhouse. 

Gathering her now-bedraggled skirts around her, she slumped onto a bench. Next time, she’d have to call hiding quicker. 

Rolling hills of well-groomed grape vines swelled and dipped as far as the eye could see. It was an elegant imprisonment, but a prison nonetheless. She could not grow up fast enough to venture into the world beyond. 

“Have you finished your essay already?” Enzo’s voice startled her from her doleful musings.

“Of course not.” Daniela tucked her tattered hems out of view. “Have you?”

Enzo snorted. “Not a word of it. You are going to catch a scolding from Miss Wright for the state of your frock.”

Daniela tugged at Enzo’s right sleeve, smudged gray by the coals he used to heat his soldering iron. “Why does Mama insist that we wear white? It’s so unforgiving. How am I supposed to play in this? It’s impossible.”

Enzo chuckled. “I think that may be the point.”

Daniela groaned. “She controls us from afar.”

“Well, you showed her, didn’t you?” Enzo plucked a bramble from her hair. “Perhaps she’ll grow tired of replacing your clothing.”

Rummaging in a pocket, he produced an artful arrangement of metallic parts fused into the shape of a bird. Using parts salvaged from broken trinkets, Enzo often crafted fanciful treasures. It was a peculiar pastime for a boy of privilege, but Daniela admired his eccentric hobby as much as her parents found it irksome. 

The bird’s subtle details captured her imagination. “It bears an uncanny resemblance to Miss Wright.” She stifled a giggle. Their nanny was more crane-like than Enzo’s creation, but the beak was every bit as pointed as Miss Wright’s.

A sparkle lit Enzo’s dark eyes. “You could give that one to Sage, should your cat choose to make an appearance.”

“Thank you, Enzo.” Daniela hugged her big brother. “I’ll give it to her as soon as I find her.”

“Hiding, is she?” Enzo winked. “Can’t say as I blame her.”

“Essays completed so soon?” Miss Wright appeared on the pathway before them without so much as a pebble’s crunch of warning. 

Daniela managed to contain a startled yelp. “I — We —”

“Heavens, child.” Miss Wright scrutinized her over the rim of her glasses. “I do hope your writing is more eloquent than that response.”

“Cosimo’s codpiece! How can expounding on The Medici Influence on the Renaissance prepare me for adult life?” Daniela crossed her arms over her chest.

“Well, I see you’ve done at least some research.” Miss Wright’s eyes widened, giving Daniela a faint sense of accomplishment. “If nothing else, your lessons will teach you self-discipline—a virtue that will get you much farther in life than finding new ways to avoid work. Look to the future, young lady, instead of entertaining your present whims.”

“I suppose the future [_is _]where I’ll be spending the rest of my life.” Daniela rolled her eyes. 

“Please put on a clean frock before your mother sees you. Would you have me dismissed for failing to shape you into a proper young lady?” 

“Proper? What about Enzo?” Daniela complained.

“Enzo is not your concern.” Miss Wright’s tone did not encourage debate.

Daniela switched tactics as she rose to face her nanny. “Your eyes are a striking shade of blue in the sunlight, Miss Wright.” 

She was pretty sure Miss Wright’s lips twitched at that one, but the woman raised her eyebrows and cleared her throat, refusing to take the bait.

Daniela stomped up the stairs to her bedroom, ignoring the immortalized scorn of the Casa dei Sogni progenitors as she raced past them. There had to be more than this—something beyond the family tradition of seclusion, their propensity for madness, their closely guarded secrets. Beyond the garden gates, adventure called and she longed for the freedom to answer it. Some day she’d leave it all behind.

She was only slightly surprised to find Sage nestled among her bed pillows. Daniela sprawled beside her. “There you are. What sort of hiding place is this?”

“When you stopped seeking, I opted for a nap.” Sage yawned and stretched. 

“Look at what Enzo made for us.” Daniela held up the metallic bird for Sage to inspect. 

“What are we supposed to do with a toy bird?” Sage feigned disinterest, yet couldn’t suppress a slight purr. 

“It’s just to let us know he cares. Enzo is a creative soul, not a soldier, yet our parents will usher him off to war to spite his gentle nature. They believe it will make a man of him.” Daniela’s gaze drifted to the hills stretching beyond her windows. “If I had wings, I’d soar past the miles of vineyards. Once I reached the sea, I’d keep on flying — to some uninhabited island where I’d make a crown of exotic flowers and declare myself queen.”

“We could start by heading back outdoors. Perhaps you’ll sprout wings.”

Daniela rubbed under Sage’s chin. “I don’t suppose you could turn me into a bird.”

“You do remember you’re addressing a cat?” Sage displayed a snaggle-toothed grin.

Daniela indulged in a pout. Sage wouldn’t judge her for it. “Father’s not well. He rarely leaves his room. I don’t know if he even recognizes us any longer. Mother’s always off to the mineral baths to treat her vapors or some such nonsense. If Enzo is sent to the front, I will follow him as soon as I’m able. Here, I am only a girl, waiting … and waiting. Perhaps serving as a nurse in the armed forces is what I’ve been waiting for.”

“I must warn you. If you do attempt to escape, there is little chance of return.”

Daniela shook her head. “Why would I want to return?”

Sage twitched in something close to a shrug. “Tell me of your dreams, then.”

“What dreams?”

Sage kneaded one of her pillows before settling on it “What is it you wish for? What is the happy ending you imagine would make everything right?”

“Are you offering me a wish?” Daniela smirked, hoping to lighten Sage’s mood.

Sage blinked. “Wishes are for the dissatisfied.”

“I’m not unhappy, but restless. Do you find me ungrateful, Sage?”

Sage sniffed. “You know I don’t judge.”

“Let’s go to the garden. I will dream up something there.”

Sage yawned, but rose in a sequence of graceful stretches.

Daniela wrestled into yet another clean white frock, grabbed her writing materials and bolted back down the hallway. 

Festina lente, Daniela.” Miss Wright’s voice called from behind her. “Slowly make haste, of labor not afraid, a hundred times consider what you’ve said. Polish, repolish, every color lay, and sometimes add, but more often take away. I quote Boileau, of course.”

Their nanny possessed a diabolic stealth. From what shadow had the woman materialized? “Miss Wright … I was just heading out to find you.”

The nanny folded bony arms across her lean chest and pondered Daniela.

Uffa! Can we just read today, Miss Wright? Some adventure in a land far, far away…” Far away was exactly where Daniela wanted to be — complete with a handsome stranger whisking her away to his distant homeland.

Daniela was certain she’d caught a brief glimmer of amusement in Miss Wright’s eyes. “Instead of writing an essay today, perhaps you would like to write a fairytale instead?” 

It wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind, but it was an intriguing idea. She could escape into her mind for the day, just as she had when she’d read of Wonderland, Neverland and Oz. 

“Wishes have consequences. Chasing dreams is not without its price. Make sure you pursue your true desire before you invest your heart in it, for there is often no going back.”

Sage had said the same thing. Would it be so horrible to explore the world?

Miss Wright smoothed silvery strands of hair back into her neat chignon. “Are you certain the desire you long to fulfill is of this world? Choose the right prince, child, or you will be left wanting.”

Australia, 1929

“And now, here I am in a place called Oz, far from my childhood home.” She reached out to scratch Sage under her chin. 

“And was Australia everything you dreamed it would be?”

“Will—” Daniela wheeled at the sound of his voice. He’d returned faster than usual from the barn. “How long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough to catch you talking to yourself again, Love.” He winked and ruffled her hair. “I’m heading up to bed. Will you be long?”

“Not long. Just a few more things to finish …”

Will’s booted feet tromped up the wooden stairway. He often read for a while before dozing off. She tugged at the faded ribbon binding the bundle of letters in her lap. Why had she kept them?  

Daniela removed the globe from her oil lamp and held one of her unopened letters to the flame. A corner withered and blackened. She’d managed to flee her childhood, but she’d never escape the sting of Enzo’s dismissal. Hungry flames consumed her written pleas. She hadn’t stayed to welcome him home from the Great War. Instead, she’d disappeared without a goodbye. 

“You left me first,” Daniela whispered. “You left me behind — all alone. What did you expect?”

A voice taunted her with a gentle promise, too good to be true:[_ Let go of your anguish. I will give you rest._]

“I am done with this yearning. It’s never satisfied. If there is anything I can do to protect my sweet daughter, Anna, from it … anything at all …”

How much would you give?

“Anything. This is unbearable. It’s madness.” Had generations before her succumbed to the same delusions? Or was this her unique manifestation of the curse?

You are willing to make a sacrifice?

“Yes.”

You must entrust your daughter to me. She will find her own way. The only way to escape this curse is to come with me.

“Leave my child?” This was the price? So costly it was almost unbearable.

[_Trust. She was given to you for a time, but she was always mine. _]

“I never could escape my dissatisfaction. My desire was too great.”

There is nothing wrong with great desire. It was merely misplaced.

“Misplaced? All these years — I was lost.” 

She longed to let go of it all. Could it be that simple? Anna would be safe — he’d promised. She released her hold. The charred letter fluttered in papery wisps from her fingertips, and landed on the others. A flame burst to life on the rejected pile. 

As the flames danced higher, they caressed the curtains, but Daniela had drifted above them like a spark in the breeze. 

You have been refined. You are my treasure. Come to me.

THE BEGINNING

A Spark in the Wind is a short story prequel
to the TimeDrifter Series:

[The Place of Voices
__][The Veil of Smoke
__]The Tower of Refuge

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

Many thanks to the talented women
who read and critiqued this story: 

Nadine Brandes
Tiffany Provence
Michelle Sutton

Connect with Lauren:

www.pinterest.com/readlaurenlynch

www.twitter.com/LaurenRLynch

www.facebook.com/LaurenLynchWriting

Sample Chapter: The Place of Voices (TimeDrifter Series Book One) p.

CHAPTER ONE

Italy, 1929

[_ _]

“Come with me.” A silken voice coaxed Anna from her dreams. Whether a whisper or merely a trick of the wind, the invitation stirred her drowsy mind.

She bolted upright, shivering as crisp autumn air whisked over her. Moonlight spilled into a bright pool on the floor next to her bed, forcing shadows into dense clusters at the edges of her room. A window on the far wall hung wide open, its sheer white curtains dancing ghostlike in the breeze.

Outside, a wooden trellis banged and scraped against the villa’s stone façade. Anna recognized the sound from personal experience. She’d knocked the aging structure loose by using it as an escape to the garden when her uncle’s nurse first ordered bed rest. Wind might account for the banging, but the voice and the open window were more difficult to dismiss.

The nightmarish existence she’d lived since her parents’ deaths didn’t end with daybreak. She pinched the chilly flesh on her arms. It didn’t matter much whether she was dreaming or not. If she screamed in this secluded wing of her uncle’s ancient villa no one would hear her, much less come running to her aid.

Anna pressed trembling hands against her ears in a futile effort to shut out the clattering. With each blow of wood against stone, she inched deeper into the mound of pillows behind her until the carved cherubs on the ornate headboard dug into her shoulder blades. For weeks, their fearsome little fingers had pointed at her accusingly: There is the girl who let her parents die in a fire while she alone survived. There is the orphan who burdens her aging uncle. She truly deserved whatever might come crawling through the open window.

“I-is someone there?” Anna held her breath, nearly deafened by her pounding heart. While the gale outside receded, the clattering only intensified. The curtains drifted back to a standstill, lifeless sentries offering little hope of defense against an intruder.

One set of claws and then another reached up and grated at the sill. A shaggy figure heaved a leg over the ledge, and leaned into her room — an obscure form with a glowing outline of moonlit fur.

Anna pressed a hand over her mouth.

“Come with me,” the voice urged, soft as the rustle of frostbitten leaves shivering on the treetops outside her window.

The creature clambered over the sill and tumbled into the shadows at the edge of her room. Panic seized her throat as the hunched form shuffled toward her, scraping across the polished wood floor. Anna gasped as it entered the circle of moonlight on the floor near her bed. She edged out of her pillow fortress and bit back a laugh as she crept forward to get a closer look.

[_Really? A koala? _]Was she so homesick she was hallucinating now?

For the first time in months, a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. The fears plaguing her since the fire diminished as the odd little creature huddled beside her bed. Beady eyes studied her. Shaggy ears twitched, as if to shake off the cold. One paw reached toward her. In the moonlight, the claws lost some of their menacing appearance.

“You might actually be more out of place here than I am,” Anna croaked. She hadn’t used her voice in months — an unspoken objection at being forced on an uncle she’d never known existed until after the death of her parents. Now, face to face with an unexplained visitor — not human, or poking, or prodding, or demanding — a spark of interest flared. She extended a hesitant hand, as if her fingertips might verify his ethical as well as his physical substance.

“Come with me, child.” The koala murmured.

“You spoke.” Anna snapped her hand back.

“So did you.” She would have sworn the koala winked. “It’s a day for surprises, it would seem.”

Perhaps it was sheer relief over the innocence he projected — or the way his impish eyes glittered in the moonlight. Whatever the reason, her fears gave way to curiosity. At nearly thirteen, she ought to behave with a bit more dignity — or so she had been repeatedly told. Instead, she entertained the childish notion of dashing into the creature’s arms and pressing her face into his soft fur. Before her life pitched upside down, she might have done just that. She crept out from under the covers and tiptoed across the floor. Anna pushed hesitation aside and dropped to her knees in front of him.

In spite of the koala’s peculiar entrance, she found herself drawn to him by a force greater than her own resistance. The koala radiated warmth and the scent of eucalyptus — the fragrance of home. She had to touch him — had to know he was real.

“I really must be losing my marbles.” Of course, talking to herself was hardly evidence of a stable mind either.

“I simply appeared to you in a way that would bring you the most comfort.”

Comfort? She hardly remembered the meaning of the word these days. “Reminding me of home.” Her lips betrayed her, revealing thoughts better left unsaid.

The confession, as much as the listless drone of her voice, surprised her. If she had learned anything over the past few weeks, it was that allowing her mind to drift toward home would only result in unwelcome tears. There was no point in clinging to the hope that she might return to her birthplace any time soon.

She was alone in the world now — and she must bear the burden of loss on her own. An unbidden image flashed through her mind. Barefoot, and grimy from a day of outdoor play, she would dash into her father’s arms when he returned home from the pastures each evening. He would swing her into the air in his powerful grip. A pang of guilt was all that gripped her now as she realized, yet again, that Da’s strong arms would never again comfort her in this world.

“Are you taking me home?” Even as the words left her mouth, she held little hope.

“Not quite yet.” The koala’s words thrust her back into the new reality she was sentenced to endure.

Disappointment coursed through her. The absurdity of the situation jolted her back to her senses. “You nearly scared me to death crawling through the window like that in the middle of the night!”

“Are you suggesting that I should have asked for you at the front door?” He tilted his head and blinked. “In broad daylight, perhaps?”

A hoarse chuckle escaped Anna’s lips. “I suppose not.”

“It is best to simply enjoy this journey as it unfolds. You will discover the truth along the way, as you learn to welcome the possibilities.”

“What journey? I can’t leave. I am supposed to be staying in bed.” Cheeky, but true. She added a regretful shrug for good measure. If she wasn’t mistaken, an amused smile tweaked the koala’s mouth. Surely he couldn’t know she’d been climbing the trellis as well.

The koala cleared his throat. “Your physical injuries are healing well. I am more concerned with your heart.”

“My heart? What’s wrong with it?” As soon as the words left her mouth, she knew it was pointless to protest. She ducked her head, examining the angry pink scars on her arms. When the bandages were removed, she’d examined her disfigured arms as a stranger might. As painful as the wounds had been, the loss of her parents and her happy childhood hurt more. Escape arrived through numb oblivion. Now that she’d learned to block feelings, it wouldn’t be easy to turn back.

She’d finally gone round the bend. The idea of leaving with a strange, talking koala actually appealed her. She cast him a sideways glance. “Why did you come here?”

“Companionship is a good thing, right?” His eyes seemed to read her every vulnerability and secret, yet they revealed no animosity.

After a childhood spent alone on the dusty pastures of their remote sheep station friendship was something she knew little about. “It’s what I’ve always longed for,” she confessed.

The koala nodded. “We all do. Come with me, embrace your future and you will find it.”

She was supposed to trust a talking koala that crawled through her window in the middle of the night? Her mind still rebelled at the thought of a future without her parents. If the koala was some sort of hallucination, her mind was playing a cruel trick on her.

“Your unique combination of pain and innocence has allowed you to see things most people wouldn’t.”

She hadn’t voiced her concerns aloud, had she? Anna frowned. “I don’t understand.”

“You will.”

“You really did scare me — sneaking in like that. How do I know I can trust you?”

“Don’t let your heart be troubled any longer. Trust. Come with me.”

Anna caught herself making a hopeless tangle in her curls with her finger. Despite Mum’s chiding, Anna still couldn’t master the impulse. As she worked to extricate her finger, the koala crept closer and the scent of eucalyptus again washed over her.

“When you first saw me, you were fearful of what you did not know. Once you saw me in the light, you found me irresistible.” This time his furry face broke into a comical smile.

“Righto. I’ll give you that.” Anna snorted — a blunder in etiquette that would have earned a frown from her uncle’s highbrow nurse. The koala simply joined her in a hearty chuckle.

“Come with me on an adventure of a lifetime. I can’t promise you it will be easy, but you can rest assured you won’t regret it — and you won’t be alone.”

His words gripped her. The call of an adventure, a chance to escape the painful fragments of her life, the creature himself … it was nearly irresistible. “If it wasn’t for my hopeless situation, I probably wouldn’t even consider this.”

“Too right. You’re perceptive beyond your years.”

Anna ignored his gentle ribbing. If she went with the koala, she could escape her uncle’s overbearing nurse. How could she resist? A burst of hope blossomed inside her.

“Will you stay with me until I can make a go of it on my own?”

The koala’s forehead bunched. “Why would you want to do that?”

“Make a go of it on my own, you mean?” It was no wonder humans and animals didn’t make a habit of verbal communication.

“You wouldn’t get very far on your own,” the koala mumbled with the forced smile of an amateur ventriloquist.

Anna cast a reluctant glance back at the bed the nurse had confined her to for weeks. The cherub’s accusing fingers were a final incentive to flee.

“Put those troubling thoughts behind you,” the koala crept closer. “I will be with you every step of the way.”

Anna let out a decisive breath. “I’m not sure why I believe you, but I do.”

Pleasure radiated from her new companion, although his furry face revealed only a small, satisfied grin. She couldn’t say whether or not it was normal behavior for a koala. Even at home, she had never been so close to one.

“Let me take your hand.” The koala’s paw reached for her.

Her mind briefly struggled with the wording of his request. She eyed his curious two-thumbed koala paws like the skeptic she’d become, but decided the request was innocent enough. Anna gulped back her fears. The villa’s imposing walls loomed around her like a prison. She had nothing left to lose. She accepted his extended paw and allowed the claws to gently enclose her hand.

“Close your eyes, and do not open them until I tell you to. Close your eyes … and you will see.”

Anna surrendered any remaining doubts to her deep longing for freedom. She was like a leaf in the wind, propelled by an unseen force to an unknown destination.

As she stepped into the moonlight spilling through her window, its intense glow engulfed her. She shut her eyes, squeezed the koala’s paw, and clenched her free hand into a fist over her heart. A chill swept down her spine as her nightgown fluttered around her. Kaleidoscopic color swirled inside her eyelids and the temptation to open them vanished. A force washed over her, like the spray of an enormous fountain. Bubbly fizzing tickled her skin.

The floor seemed to melt away beneath her feet — and still she kept her eyes closed. Anna was swept into a soothing current of warmth. The only thing left to do was trust the voice that urged her on. “Come to me.”

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LAUREN LYNCH has lived in nine of the United States, but currently calls a log cabin in North Carolina home, along with her husband, teenage son, two dogs, a cat, five chickens and even the occasional bat.

For more information, visit:

www.laurenlynch.com

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LAUREN LYNCH has lived in nine of the United States, but currently calls a log cabin in North Carolina home, along with her husband, teenage son, two dogs, a cat, five chickens and even the occasional bat.

For more information, visit:

www.laurenlynch.com

Christian Books in Multiple Genres,
Join Christian Indie Author ~ Readers Group on Facebook.

Opportunities to find other Christian Authors
and learn about new releases, sales, free books.


A Spark in the Wind

Daniela is born to trouble. Risking everything to escape this legacy, she allows a handsome adventurer to whisk her away to distant lands and dreams of happily ever afters. Now, her daughter Anna will face the same life of torment unless she makes a difficult choice. This story of love, loss and sacrifice follows one generation of an afflicted family that transcends time in their search for redemption. A Spark in the Wind is a short story prequel to the TimeDrifter Series.

  • ISBN: 9781311849243
  • Author: Lauren Lynch
  • Published: 2015-09-11 04:20:08
  • Words: 5847
A Spark in the Wind A Spark in the Wind