The Empath 


Prologue


Clutching her daughter to her chest, she opened the door wide enough to peek out into the hall. Eva was shaking with fear. How could she have forgotten to keep her arm covered? The exhaustion must be wearing on her to overlook such a thing. Checking three times to be certain none of the other boarders were awake and the hallway was empty, she slipped out the door and bolted to her room.


Closing the door quickly, she turned and set the infant in the middle of the bed. They had an hour to get to the train platform, she wasn’t taking a chance on being late. It had been nerve-wracking few days, waiting to get papers signed that would clear them for travel.


She had been terrified through the entire process that they would ask her to remove her jacket. When the doctor had finally decided she and her child hadn’t been exposed, and were displaying no symptoms of the virus, she had almost fainted with relief.


Her heart skipped a few beats, thinking what would have happened if they’d been denied. There were camps filled with those afflicted. And each time the medical trucks passed, they carried others to the quarantined areas. It was horrifying, what the country was going through. To survive the years of war and then have millions fall ill with some deadly influenza. She only glimpsed the headlines of the newspapers as she passed them in her travels, but it was everywhere, it seemed.

Moving to the mirror, she studied her reflection. Her cheeks were hollowed and dark circles were under her eyes. The months of stress and worry were catching up to her. She sighed, her white cotton shirtwaist wasn’t stained, but the wrinkles were adding up. How many days had she been wearing it now? If there had been more time, she would have given it a rinse, but she couldn’t risk missing one of the few trains still running out of the city. “Lord knows my brassiere and bloomers are in desperate need of a rinse as well,” she whispered to the scared woman looking back at her. Smoothing a hand down her skirt, she smiled, thankful it was a little longer then current fashion dictated, as her stockings were beyond any condition that a mere washing could remedy.


Her heart ached as she looked at the tattoo covering the length of her left arm. She touched it gingerly and closed her eyes, willing the tears not to fall. He had to be all right. She didn’t know what was taking so long, but she knew that he would come back to her. When he did manage to cross back over, the caretaker of their building would give him the message, then he would come and get Alona and her. Please, Levi, come soon.


The baby’s soft whimper made her open her eyes. She turned and smiled. “Not to worry, love, your daddy will find us at your aunt’s.” Going over, she sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at her child, her whole world. “We have to go, I don’t have a choice. The sickness is spreading, and if we stay here any longer,” She let out a ragged breath, “we won’t be able to get out.” Alona was a beautiful baby, she looked so much like her father. Picking up her bonnet, she placed it on the child’s head, over her thick black hair. “You’re my strength, little one, never forget that.” The baby watched her with pale eyes. She was certain they were going to be the same pale green his were, well when his weren’t red that was.


Leaning down, she kissed the soft cheek. “I would be lost in a sea of despair if I didn’t have you my precious Alona.” It was the truth. The only thing that had prevented her from dissolving in the constant pain of being without him, was their child. While she’d been growing inside her, Eva knew she had to overcome the feelings of grief and continue on until he returned for them.


Tucking the blanket around the baby, she reached over and picked up her worn satchel. Getting her coin purse out, she dumped the contents in her hand and counted. The train fare was going to cost nearly seven dollars, which was the most expensive thing she’d done in as long as she could remember. After that they’d have to get by on what was left, which would be a week’s grocery money, maybe two, if nothing unexpected came up. Putting the money back in the purse, she snapped it shut and tucked it safely into her bag.


“You’ll like it in the country, doll, once you learn to walk, there’s so much to explore.” She gathered up the few items not in the suitcase and folded them. Glancing around to be sure nothing was missed, she picked up her jacket and gloves. It was quite warm today, but she had no choice, her arm and hand had to be covered. Telling those curious enough to ask that her husband had died in the war was one thing, and that usually brought a halt to any further questions. Explaining why she had a tattoo that covered the length of her arm, well, that was unexplainable. The scandal it would cause would not end well, something like that was unheard of and completely unacceptable. Levi had said in his world the tattoos were a wondrous and cherished thing. She couldn’t wait to see his world.

She missed him with all she had. For months she’d worried that something had happened. Was the outbreak where he was too? Had something happened to him? He told her he would know if she was harmed through the connection of their tattoo, so she had to hold onto the belief that the connection went both ways. She knew he lived, but couldn’t understand what was taking him so long. He had to go back to arrange for her to come with him, then they could be together always.

Until he did return, she had to make certain their child was safe and happy. They hadn’t discussed children, but he was such a loving man, Eva was sure the surprise of being a father would be something he would welcome.


Tucking her hair up under the embroidered velvet toque, she studied the woman looking back at her. “Just a few more days and you’ll be safe, and won’t have to worry about someone finding out.” She nodded to herself and then turned to pick up her daughter. Cradling her in one arm, she smiled down at the beautiful face as she made sure her mouth was lightly covered by the blanket. They’d managed to avoid infection this far, she wasn’t taking chances. Hooking the satchel on the same arm, she opened the door and picked up her case. Taking a deep break, she exhaled and stepped out into the hall.

She had to hold onto the hope that her sister was well. If the sickness had reached the country, there were no other options to take… they’d be lost.


Chapter One


I had spent close to one hundred years staying away from anything that would draw the attention of others. Which, due to the fact I didn’t age, was not an easy task. Six months ago I’d moved, an unfortunate necessity, done so people didn’t notice that I didn’t age. Since then, staying in the shadows didn’t seem to be working.


It started when a crazy woman with fantastically bright red hair, and a chaotic array of emotions grabbed me in the club and dragged me out. Since that moment, everyone seemed to be noticing me.


I thought she was completely bonkers, who wouldn’t be with so many emotions oozing from her every pore, until I discovered what she said was true. Someone did appear to be after me.


I spent three weeks going to an abandoned fish factory, after painting an x on the wall. Insane, I know, but I did just as she’d told me to do, if I needed help. I went there because the chaotic one had told me her friends could help me, and that they were like me.


That, as far as I knew, was impossible. Yet she knew my eyes changed to red, and when they did my mouth filled with fangs. If I hadn’t felt the truth seeping from her, I would have walked in the other direction. After many years of believing I was the spawn of Satan, I was too curious to not find out. I needed to know if it was true. Were there others like me?


When she finally showed up at the factory today, minus the red hair, I thought I’d go meet her friends and see for myself. Of course, I thought the meeting would take place in some out of the way café or concealed location. I did not foresee being zapped, or whatever had just happened, to some room in the blink of an eye.

Now I stood in an empty, drably beige room, unable to figure out what was going on and feeling nauseous in the worst way. I looked at Crissy, she was closing the lid to the watch thing on her arm that she’d pushed to bring us here. I debated on grabbing it from her and pushing the button, so I could get back home to pack up and move, again.


A tall man with gorgeous, long black hair that rivaled my own, came running into the room. He slid to a stop and crouched down with his arms out giving me a cautious look, like I might bolt for the door. And go where? I thought.


“How do you feel? He looked me up and down, his grey eyes filled with worry. “Any pains?


He had one of those watches like Crissy’s in his hand. Did I want to try to grab it? He was a large man, so maybe not in my current state. I stared at him for a few seconds and then reached for the blade on my back. Closing my hand around the handle, I scowled at him. “I feel… confused…” My stomach lurched again, so I put my other hand over it hoping I didn’t throw up on this stranger. “And I want to throw up.” I backed away from him and watched him carefully. “Where am I? Who are you?” I looked to person responsible for this. “Crissy, what the hell is going on?”


Crissy blew out a breath and nodded. “I know. Transporting sucks. My stomach still hates it.”


“Transporting?” I glanced at the man again, then shook my head. “Like beam me up, transporting?” She gave me a blank look, so I looked to the man to see him smirking.


“No.” He sobered. “Not like that at all.”


“It’s okay, this is the best place to meet, no one can follow you here.” Crissy tried to reassure me.


I was debating on giving her friend a few more moments to convince me. That I couldn’t pick up any emotions from his was… unusual, to say the least. I could see emotions going through his eyes as he studied me but couldn’t feel any of them.


“Cristy.” A large, redheaded man came running into the room. With the way he was dressed, he looked like he was going to battle. And I don’t mean military dress, I mean Samurai meets Blade, black leather, head to toe, large sharp weapons sort of dress. He immediately went to Crissy and hugged her into his large body and kissed the top of her head. That I hadn’t anticipated. The gentle expression in his eyes bought him a minute’s free pass before I lost it on him, or everyone else.

“I will get to the why and how you got to the other side… later. My heart stopped when you hung up.” He touched her cheek in a loving way.


Crissy bit her lip and looked up at him. “Sorry. I just knew I had to go back today, but I didn’t know why. Until I did.” She smiled at him while pointing at me.

He straightened away from her and gone was the softer look. Replaced with an ice cold assessment, but once again, I could only see his emotions and not feel them.


He looked me up and down for a moment. “Clearly, she is meant to be here, or she’d need a device.” He raised an eyebrow at me. “How are you feeling?”

I glared at him, “Like I’ve entered the twilight zone.”


The one with the black hair snorted but didn’t comment.


“Victor, she was waiting for me. She keeps seeing that guy that chased her—” Crissy sighed, “from when I got my scar.”


He hugged her against his side but was still rigid standing there. “Has he approached you?


I shook my head, “I don’t hang around to give him the opportunity to strike up a conversation.”


He inclined his head, saying nothing else.


“Crissy, are you all right?” The woman that had come to get Crissy when she passed out in the alley came running in.


She stopped when she saw her and placed a hand over her heart. “When Victor went screaming by to get here, I thought you’d been…” she paused when she saw me. “Oh. Awesome! You were finally there.”


“So, it seems.” How many people had Crissy told about me?


The blonde cleared her throat and looked at the others, “So, maybe we could… oh I dunno, go to the dining room, or somewhere other than the landing room?” She rolled her eyes at me and mouthed ‘men’.


I couldn’t pick up a single emotion from her either, which intrigued me even further. I’d never been near this many people and not sensed emotion. “I would like to know more about this man following me.” I looked at Crissy. “Why is he following me?”


She pouted, “I don’t know. It hasn’t shown me that, but I do know he’s not good.”


I looked at her, unable to figure out what she meant. “If you don’t know, who does?”


“I know who can find out.” The black-haired one said. He grinned at the one still holding Crissy close. “We can get Troy to ask his buddies we picked up after Criss was hurt.”


My head snapped back to Crissy. “They hurt you?”


She blew out a breath. “Some magic,” she waved a hand around, “whatever it’s called, was stuck in my back.” Frowning, she glanced up at her man before looking back to me. “It hurt so much. It’s gone now, the rune has locked it out forever.” She nodded.


If I hadn’t felt the truth oozing out of her and all over me, I would have demanded they please take me home. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I was living proof that other types were possible in this life. I held up my hand. “I will just… take your word for all that.”


The blonde exhaled loudly and then stepped over and put out her hand. “I’m Daxx. I never did thank you properly for keeping an eye on Crissy when she blacked out in the alley.”


I looked at her hand and then shook it briefly. I still picked up nothing from her, a very rare occurrence. “Things tend to be eventful when Crissy is around.”

She snorted, “You have no idea.” Turning, she motioned to the man that had come running in first. “This is Arius,” then to Crissy’s man, “and his brother Victor.”

Both men inclined their heads briefly but made no move to come closer.


“Let’s go to the dining room, grab a coffee or something and figure out why those guys are after you.” She suggested.


Before I could decide, another tall man came in. He had short black hair and pale blue eyes. My only thought was that I was usually the tallest person in the room. Seemingly, the males here were all of the large variety.


He stopped in the door and looked me up and down. “Is this who we’ve been watching for all these weeks, Crissy?”


Crissy nodded enthusiastically. “I brought her back, she said they’re following her.”


Raising an eyebrow, he glanced at the device Arius held then back to me. “Obviously, she’s meant to be here.”


At some point, I would have to clarify why they kept saying that. I turned back to Daxx. “You said something about coffee?” I still didn’t know where I was, but I wasn’t leaving until I knew what the hell was going on, and if they could tell me what I was while I was here, that would answer a question that had plagued me for seventy-eight years.