their heads ignited and burned. The fire sizzled. Crackled and hissed. Its bright flames licked at the bark,
the leaves, and glinted on something shiny in the men’s hands. What were they carrying?
Treading to Alyssa’s grave, they made sucking sounds with their
shoes in the mud. They carried
shovels. ―Good evening,‖ Kevan said. Golden shovels.
They moved past him without a word or a glance. Why were they ignoring him? Othersencountered in his visions conversed openly. And why were they hiding their faces? The
men stabbed their tools into the mound of wet dirt, then dumped mud onto Alyssa’s coffin. The clods splattered, then thunked hollowly. And with each clump that fell, the pain searing Kevan’s
chest intensified. His breathing shallowed. His pulse thrummed. H
e tried to look away and couldn’t.
Adrenaline, terror, regret, gushed through his veins.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he forced himself to accept the inevitable. He couldn’t stop the groundfrom swallowing her, but he couldn’t watch it. Dear God, he couldn’t
. . . watch. The steady rain grew to a thunderous downpour. His tears, his anger at her leaving him, knotted inhis throat. He lifted his collar against the icy chill seeping into his bones, and blinked, allowing himself no other release of the pain clawing holes in his stomach. He had to hold on to the pain. It was all he
had left now. She didn’t love him. Why didn’t she love him?
Lightning flashed, setting blaze to mighty oaks, to vines smothering the tombs, to rocks thatlogically could not burn, conjuring visions that flickered through his mind like snapshots. Alyssa, angry and spattered with mud, clinging to him even as she cursed him. Alyssa, bold and defiant, glaring downat him from the back of a white mare, a pre-tartan Scottish plaid draped across her shoulder. Alyssa,proud and challenging, standing at the altar of a candlelit church, dressed in an eighteenth-century
wedding gown and about to marry an English lord she didn’t love. And then Alyssa–just as he’d seen herthree days ago, when she’d refu
sed to marry him. Beautiful, sitting in her sterile office, absorbed by theonly thing capable of absorbing her: a computer.
The storm raged to a tempest. ―Leave!‖ A male stranger screamed inside Kevan’s mind. ―Run!Hurry!‖
A violent wind whipped up. Howling through the trees, it carried a portentous warning and
plastered Kevan’s eyelids shut. Panic seized his stomach and, furious because he’d yielded to panic, he
clenched his jaw, shielded his eyes, and forced them to open. Immediately irritated by flying debris, they began to tear and ache.
―You must leave!‖ The stranger insisted.
An image of Kevan running down the stone path flooded his mind. Deep in his soul, he sensedeternal danger. Black and bleak and lethal. He fought the urge to heed the warning and escape before it
was too late. But Alyssa was here. ―No! I can’t! I won’t leave her like this!‖
The wind whistled a high-pitched shriek. Cringing, Kevan dropped the umbrella and cupped hishands over his ears to block out the sound. Rain drove into him, stinging his arms, his legs, his back.Lightning lashed at the sky; deadly streaks that ripped through the darkness, slammed into the ground,then exploded in flaming balls of fire. Heat scorched his skin. His eyes stung, his throat felt raw, and the warnin
g voice inside his head grew deafeningly loud. Kevan bellowed. ―I’m not leaving her!‖
Pain stabbed through his chest. He bent double and sank to his knees in the mud. ―Do what you will!‖ he rasped out. ―I’m not going without her!‖
An ominous whisper pierce
d the roaring wind. ―Affix time.‖
The pain stopped as abruptly as it had started. The rain gentled to a fine mist. Gasping, drained and
weak, Kevan tried to make sense of this. Affix time. Was the moment of Alyssa’s death the key to this
vision?He mentally collected his energy, focused, then studied the image of himself beside her grave. Nogray streaked his black hair, no new lines creased the skin at his eyes. The suit was one he wore often
theone he wore now
and his were the only footsteps near her grave-site.Her death would come soon.Fear slithered through his pores. The visions always had been like a jigsaw puzzle; never this simple