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Authors: Peggy Martinez

Contingency

BOOK: Contingency
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CONTINGENCY

 

By P.S. Martinez

 

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Acknowledgements

 

First and foremost I want to thank God, without Him I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I want to thank my husband for always being there for me, believing in me, pushing me to educate myself and become the best version of myself I can. I am proud that my children call him Daddy! A big shout out to my five kiddos! They are one of the main reasons I strive to fulfill my dreams. I hope they always dream big and know that anything is within their reach.

 

Finally, I want to thank my editor, readers, friends, and family for loving Sage’s story as much as I do.

 

Momma- This is for you! I hope you would’ve been proud of me.

 

 

 

Contingency

 

By P. S. Martinez

 

Any unauthorized distribution of this book will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

 

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, duplicated, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. If you did not buy this ebook, please purchase your own copy.

 

Copyright © Peggy 2012 Peggy S. Martinez

 

Cover Design by www.MaeIDesign.com

 

All rights reserved

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, or locales of persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Sometimes life can be unexpected. Sometimes things surprise you and all you can do is roll with the punches or let them beat you to a bloody pulp. But sometimes things happen so far out of your rational thought process that all you can do is hold on for dear life and hope you come out on the other side reasonably unscathed. I didn’t know it yet, but my life was about to change, and in a huge way. Not in an ‘Oh my God, my boyfriend dumped me.’ kind of way. More like a ‘Dear God, PLEASE let me live through this.’ kind of way.

 

No one would blame you if you thought that I, Sage Hannigan was soft and helpless. But that would be your first mistake, and one mistake is all it takes. My slender, five-foot, six-inch frame, wavy burnt cinnamon colored hair, and big brown eyes all make for a pretty innocent picture. You might even snigger at the thought of me being anything other than a wuss. Even the most innocent and helpless looking person can learn to kick ass when her life depends on it.

 

I awoke just like any other Saturday--stoked that I was going out for a day of shopping in Charleston’s historic district. I pulled on my favorite faded blue jeans, black v-neck tee shirt and red flats, and I grabbed my trusty old messenger bag as I headed out the door.

 

By late afternoon and after a day of browsing, I found myself peering into the window of a little antique book shop.

 

As I entered the shop, a bell tinkled above the door and I was pleasantly surprised to find inviting over-stuffed arm chairs and to hear a Sinatra playing softly in the background. I couldn’t control a grin--this was a place I could spend a lot of time in.

 

A teenage boy with stringy dishwater blond hair was behind the counter reading a Star Wars novel. He barely spared me a glance as I headed towards the aisles of books. My fingers skimmed the spines of the books as I murmured a few of the titles under my breath. I inhaled deeply, taking in the musky aroma clinging to the pages of the old books; there’s just something familiar and magical about the scent. I came across a particularly old copy of Jane Eyre and had to stop myself from buying it. After all, how many copies of my favorite book did I need? Oh how I loved Edward Rochester.

 

After browsing the books a bit longer I headed towards the only glass case of antiques in the store. Nothing stood out to me--a few cameos, a few art deco pieces, etc. I was about to leave when something caught my eye. At the very back of the case, half covered by black satin fabric, was a gray stone pendant.

 

“May I see this pendant?” I asked the Star Wars geek. He sighed dramatically and put his book down to unlock the case. He placed the pendant, which hung from a lovely silver chain, on the top of the counter. I couldn’t really decide what it was that drew me to the stone pendant. About two inches in diameter and a lovely light gray color, the stone was shaped like a fat tear drop. Around the top of the stone, thin silver wire was twisted in an intricate pattern to form a bail for the silver chain to hang through.

 

I picked the stone up and gasped in pleasure at how warm it felt in my palm. My finger stroked over its smoothness and I nearly dropped the necklace when I felt it pulse lightly in my hand. I quickly sat it back on the counter. Wow, twilight zone much? The clerk picked it up to put it back into the case and my heart stuttered in my chest at the mere thought of leaving it. “No...I’ll take it!” He shrugged his bony shoulder and proceeded to take his sweet time in ringing up my order.

 

A few moments later I exited the book store with my purchase in hand. I took the necklace out of its box and clasped it around my neck with shaking fingers. The stone lay a few inches under the hollow of my neck and felt as if it were meant to hang there. A street lamp nearby flickered on, rousing me from my thoughts. I looked around myself, feeling my lips turning down; I’d been out later than I planned. I hitched my messenger bag onto my shoulder and walked quickly towards my neighborhood in the falling darkness.

 

I had walked to my apartment alone many times in the last few weeks, but something was different this time. It was more than a shadow moving in my peripheral vision, something other than the nippy breeze tickling the fine hairs at the base of my neck. Icy dread settled into my heart and a shiver shook my body as if a cold clammy finger had caressed my spine.

 

I was about to turn the corner that would bring me across from my apartment building when I collided with someone. I yelped and jumped back, immediately grabbing my two-ton messenger bag to whack the crap out of my assailant, when I realized my ‘attacker’ was a little old lady about four inches shorter than I. Seriously, this old woman had no idea how close she came to being squashed like a roach.

 

“Excuse me,” I said breathlessly with my heart still racing a hundred miles a minute, “I didn’t see you standing there.” She looked up at me with the most unusual pale blue eyes. When she didn’t say anything, I shrugged and walked around her to return to my apartment and calm my frayed nerves with a pint of ice cream.

 

The aged woman snagged my arm at the last moment and the air around her crackled to life, lifting my hair around my face like someone had chafed a big balloon over my head. Her huge eyes glowed brightly, lighting up her wrinkled face. I attempted to jerk my arm free, but I was frozen in place and couldn’t move; I couldn’t even tear my eyes away from her probing stare.

 

Panic welled up in my chest. I wanted to run or cover my ears and never hear whatever it was this crazy woman had to tell me. The woman gave a slight nod as if she’d made up her mind about something and closed her eyes. For a brief second I thought that everything would be okay--she’d let me go and all would be right in my little world.

 

But then she spoke, and everything changed.

 

Her voice scratched out a rough brogue of sorts; it sounded ancient and very powerful. It terrified me. Even though I had never before heard the language she spoke, the meaning of her words echoed in my mind and seared themselves within my soul.

 

Blessed of Amerach,

 

Cursed by time’s fate.

 

Rise up warrior, priestess,

 

Embrace the powers that await

 

My heart thrummed in my ears and a brilliant light exploded all around me, tearing a gasp from my throat as a searing pain bit into the sensitive skin behind my left ear. The next thing I knew I was on my hands and knees and the old woman was gone. I swung around, expecting to see some kind of wreckage from the explosion, but instead I found myself in my normal, undisturbed neighborhood. I pushed myself off the pavement and brushed my hands off on my jeans. I touched the back of my neck and felt nothing that would explain the pain I’d experienced only a few seconds earlier. I was pretty sure I was losing my frickin’ mind.

 

When I made it home, I grabbed the pint of mint chocolate chip that had been calling my name, sat on my sofa and tried to wrap my head around everything that happened. I rubbed the side of my neck where I’d felt the burning pain earlier and wondered what the hell had just happened. I kept trying to recall the woman’s features--anything about her really--and found I couldn’t capture any details except her eerie pale blue eyes. Everything was a blur, a fast-fading memory. Maybe I really was losing my mind.

 

Disgusted, I put the ice cream away and took a hot bath. Whatever happened to me was over. Maybe I should just forget it ever happened. I slid into a nightgown and braided my hair before jumping into bed, anxious for some sleep after a terrifying and mentally exhausting day.

 

Unfortunately, I had no control over my dreams.

 

My breaths came in shallow pants as I ran through a forest blanketed in a thick fog. Everything was eerily quiet as if the forest knew something unnatural was hunting. My feet flew over the uneven ground damp with late night dew as I, tripped over fallen branches, tearing my night gown in the process. The stinging of small cuts on my legs left by the underbrush as I ran from an unseen predator caused me to wince in pain.

 

I ran with a single-minded determinedness to get away. My heart constricted painfully, fully aware that if I were to be caught, I would die. Somewhere close by the ticking of a clock, the soft reminder that time was running out, kept pace with my frantic speed.

 

I made the mistake of turning around to see if I could catch a glimpse of the predator that was chasing me. I ran into an invisible barrier and landed on the ground in a heap. I peered around frantically as I clutched my chest in pain and maneuvered myself to my knees. I was sure I had been caught in some trap.  Without any warning, I felt the air whoosh out of my lungs, and the space around me constricted. Gasping for breath, I pulled myself off my knees, but my lungs already felt dry and shriveled. My hand shot out to stop the invisible walls from constricting further; but the more I pushed and the more I struggled, the more the cocoon that embraced me suffocated me.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

I jerked awake from the nightmare coughing and gulping air into my raw lungs. My heart was on its own mission to win a race, and sweat broke out on my forehead as nausea threatened to empty my stomach.

 

I tried to sit up so I could get myself a glass of water when I realized that something wasn’t quite right. A light breeze ruffled a strand of hair into my face. Wait, a breeze? Reluctantly, I cracked my eye lids open. I looked down and realized I was sitting outside on the ground between two brick walls in what appeared to be an alley way. It was early morning and I was still dressed in my nightgown. I jumped to my bare feet only to be rewarded with the ground tilting precariously beneath me. How in the CRAP had I gotten outside?

 

My heart nearly exploded out of my chest and my legs shook violently. I took several deep breaths and looked at the dirty alleyway, discarded rubbish, and laundry hanging between the two buildings that I now found myself. On the brink of a panic attack, I’d have given anything for a brown paper bag right about then. The opening of the alley was several feet away, so I gathered what energy and bravado I had and walked towards the street ahead of me.

 

Just before I stepped onto the sidewalk, another peculiarity hit me. The street was the same street I lived on, and at the same time it was completely different. I had lived on Palmetto Street for the past three months, but where was the cute little internet cafe on the corner? Where were all the cars that were usually parked in front of the buildings? Holy freakin’ crap! Was that a horse drawn carriage?

BOOK: Contingency
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