(Bridge & Sword: Awakenings #1)
Publication date: April 22nd 2017
Genres: Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction
From USA TODAY bestselling author, a psychic warfare alternative history set in a gritty version of Earth. Contains strong romantic elements – a book in the Bridge & Sword World. Apocalyptic. Psychic Romance.
“You are the Bridge…”
Allie Taylor lives in a world populated by seers, a second race discovered on Earth at the beginning of the 20th Century. Psychic, hyper-sexual and enslaved by governments, corporations and wealthy humans, seers are an exotic fascination to Allie, but one she knows she’ll likely never encounter, given how rich you have to be to get near one.
Then a strange man shows up at her work –– then another –– and pretty soon Allie finds herself on the run from the law, labeled a terrorist and in the middle of a race war she didn’t even know existed. Yanked out of her life by the mysterious and uncommunicative Revik, Allie discovers her blood may not be as “human” as she always thought, and the world of seers might not be quite as distant as she always imagined.
When Revik tells her she’s the Bridge, a mystical being meant to usher in the evolution of humanity––or possibly its extinction––Allie must choose between the race that raised her and the one where she might truly belong.
Glancing out the dusty windows, I fought through the limits of my options.
We drove on in silence while I massaged my wrists around the two handcuffs. I watched out the window as he passed a semi-truck.
We passed another a few minutes later.
I considered yelling out at them, banging on the windows, but the more I thought about it, the more the possibility struck me as not just futile, but dangerous.
The sun was getting higher now. I could see seagulls and pelicans winging over the diamond patterns of sun flickering over waves. It was beyond strange to be looking out over that perfect view with my wrists handcuffed to the side of a stranger’s car.
When I glanced over at the seer next, he was staring at my bare thigh, which had shifted out from under the ugly, gray blanket. Seeing the denser look rising to his eyes, I retracted my leg, hiding it back under the coarse wool.
I’d forgotten all those other stories about seers.
Frowning, he averted his gaze.
“You are safe with me, Alyson,” he said.
I let out a low snort. I couldn’t help it.
When he gave me a sharp look, I made my expression blank, staring back out the window. This time, I looked through the glass on my side of the car, staring up at the sandy cliffs that lined the road to my right. My fingers clutched the chain between the metal bracelets. I tried to think if there was any way I could talk him into unlocking the handcuffs… then I remembered again that he could read my mind.
That pretty much limited my options.
“Yes,” he agreed neutrally.
I faced him, fighting a sudden stab of anger.
“Are you really not going to tell me why you took me?” I said. I stared at him, breathing harder when he didn’t answer. “What? Are you a religious fanatic of some kind, like your pal in the diner? A terrorist? One of those ‘unaffiliateds’ who want a seer nation?” Still watching his face for a reaction, I bit my lip, fighting to control the emotion that intensified with each breath I took. “I’m a fucking waitress… did you miss that? Do you really think anyone’s going to think twice about blowing my head off to get to you?”
He made that soft clicking noise with his tongue.
I watched him do it, briefly dumbstruck at how alien it sounded, and how alien he looked as he did it. I’d read somewhere about seer language, how they used sign language in addition to verbal and telepathy. It hit me again that he really wasn’t human, no matter how he looked.
I don’t know if he heard me thinking that, too, but his next words bled impatience.
“Alyson,” he said. “You’ll need to control your emotional reactions. Try, anyway.” He glanced at my face. “You need to get over your denial, too.”
“Who the fuck are you?” I snapped.
Again, his expression tightened. He glanced at me, his eyes hard.
“You were seven when I began watching over you.”
When I let out an angry sound, he cut me off, his voice hard.
“Yes. It is true.” He made that shrugging motion with his hand again. “There is a term for it. It is seer, though. It won’t mean anything to you. I was not around much in the physical. My job was to keep an eye on you. To assist in keeping you hidden, where possible.” Grunting, he gave me a flat look. “That became increasingly difficult these last two years. Your behavior has been… erratic. It is why I came in person.”
“Erratic?” I stared at him. “What do you mean, my behavior has been ‘erratic’?”
Turning, he quirked a dark eyebrow at me. His lips twisted in a kind of cynical humor.
“You stabbed your ex-lover’s girlfriend,” he reminded me. “In public. With a broken wine bottle.” Grunting, he looked back at the road. “You got arrested, Alyson. That’s not something I could cover up. Even with our contacts in law enforcement.”
I stared at him.
For a moment, I fought with how to argue with that, how he even knew about it. After another pause, I shut my mouth, shaking my head.
“I’m not judging you,” he added. Giving me another sideways glance, he clicked his tongue. That time I heard real amusement in it. “Truthfully, it was a very seer thing to do. But it was also very conspicuous. Too conspicuous.”
“Seers stab people a lot?” I said, sarcastic.
“When it comes to infidelity, yes.” Again he turned, staring at me with those crystal-like eyes. “Only usually we’re a bit more thorough.”
Still staring at him, I clenched my jaw, incredulous. “If you’re seer, can’t you make me believe anything you want?”
Once more, he turned, aiming a cold stare at me.
“Of course,” he said. “But why would I? You are nobody, as you said.”
I couldn’t say much to that, either. Turning back towards the window, I clenched my jaw, fighting to think.
“He called me something,” I said. “The guy in the diner. He called me a name––”
“Bridge, yes. That is your title.”
“That’s right,” I said. “The Bridge. So this is… what? Some myth of yours? Like a Dalai Lama kind of thing?” When he didn’t answer, I sharpened my voice. “You have to know how fucking crazy that sounds to me. You’re a seer. You have to be able to put yourself in my shoes a little, right? Empathy comes with the territory?”
The man’s mouth firmed to a line.
I waited, wondering if he would answer.
Biting back impatience, I shook my head. “You sound German. I didn’t think any seers even lived in Europe anymore. I thought you were all in Asia, with the exception of a few who worked directly for—”
“Alyson,” he broke in. He turned on me, his voice cold. “Just stop.”
He nodded, his eyes on the road. “You understand this better than you’re pretending. This is shock.” He waved a hand at me vaguely. “Denial, maybe. You know the truth. Your human life… it is over. You are talking at me, saying things you know are not true, or half-true. You are trying to convince yourself that this is not real, that you don’t understand. It is better to remain quiet. To allow the truth to sink in.”
I stared at him. Realizing there was at least some spark of truth to what he was saying, I clenched my jaw.
When he didn’t say anything else, I broke into a shaky laugh.
“Okay. Look.” I flipped my arm over, showing him the lighter skin of my inner arm. I pointed at the “H” tattooed there in black ink on my skin. “Sell your crazy somewhere else, okay? I’ve been tested. Literally hundreds of times. I was adopted, so I got tested every time I registered. Whatever you’re trying to do, framing me as some kind of über-seer, Syrimne-wannabe, I don’t appreciate being the fall guy for whatever takeover trip you’ve got planned…”
I trailed as he hiked up the sleeve on his own left arm.
Seeing the barcode there, on a lean, olive-toned arm, my eyes locked on the black “H” tattooed on his skin. He watched me long enough to make sure I understood, then lowered his sleeve, putting both hands back on the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
“It’s ink, Alyson,” he said. “It’s fucking meaningless.”
I lapsed into silence, that sick feeling in my gut worsening. After another pause, I shook my head, remembering my last visit to the doctor, what he’d said––
“Are you really going to pretend you didn’t do that thing?” The seer turned on me for real, his narrow mouth curled in a frown. “Gaos d’lanlente. Alyson! Your name is likely all over the news feeds by now. Your name. My face. Your face.” He continued to glare at me, anger tingeing his voice. “You want to blame me for this? I would have gotten you out quietly. I would have gotten you past him, if you’d just––”
“Yeah,” I snapped. “You were doing a bang-up job getting me out ‘quietly,’ all right. Stellar. I particularly enjoyed the gun you aimed at my head.”
He frowned, looking away. Staring out the windshield, he twisted his hands on the steering wheel’s leather grip, not speaking as he clicked under his breath.
I sat there silently too, scowling as I stared out the window.
Even so, both of our words began to sink into the deeper recesses of my brain. Thinking about their implications, I swallowed. My hands grew suddenly cold.
Had I really done that? Had I really thrown people across the room?
“Yes,” the man next to me growled. “You did.”
JC Andrijeski is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes paranormal mysteries and apocalyptic fiction, often with a sexy, romantic and metaphysical bent. JC has a background in journalism, history and politics, and loves martial arts, yoga, meditation, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, painting… and of course reading and writing. She grew up in the Bay Area of California, but travels extensively and has lived abroad in Europe, Australia and Asia, and from coast to coast in the continental United States. She currently lives and writes full-time in Bangkok, Thailand.
To learn more about JC and her writing, please visit jcandrijeski.com.
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