The Cryptic Prophecy (Etherya's Earth #6)
The Cryptic Prophecy (Etherya's Earth #6)
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- Bodyguard Romance
- Chosen One to Fulfill a Prophecy
- Twists & Suspense
- Paranormal Romance
From USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Hefner
The next generation of Etherya’s Earth begins…
Calinda, daughter of Darkrip and Arderin, has never quite fit in the immortal world. Raised alongside humans, she returned to the realm as the subject of a cryptic prophecy. Feared by some and shunned by others, Callie struggles to understand her place in the kingdom. When a handsome suitor begins to court her, she is taken by his ardent gestures, even if she has doubts.
Stoic Vampyre soldier Brecken grew up far from royal castles and wealthy aristocrats and understands he and Callie are worlds apart. Silently, he guards her and her suitor, falling for her more each time he hears her silken laugh and observes her kindness toward his little sister. He might not deserve her, but he vows to keep her safe.
When Callie’s suitor betrays her by aligning with their enemy, Brecken is there to pick up the pieces. As the final battle with Bakari draws near, Brecken continues to protect Callie, knowing a future between them is uncertain. But Callie is determined to defy the prophecy and prove to her heroic soldier that destinies are never set in stone…
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
September 2, 2075
Claire Finch stood in the underground bunker, eyes wide as she observed Lainey and Hunter clutch hands inside the Sphere. The massive contraption’s arms were whirling violently, creating a vortex that would upend the rules of time and space. Although she wore a protective suit to shield her from the radiation she would encounter when she traveled next, Claire hadn’t yet donned the plastic hood. Holding it against her hip, her free hand shook with awe and fear as Lainey gave the nod to Zach to ignite the fuel rod. It would give them the boost needed to travel back in time, where they would focus all their efforts on preventing the apocalypse and saving the world.
In this dystopian timeline, Lainey’s grandfather, President Edward James Randolph, had detonated America’s nuclear arsenal in 2035, plunging the world into chaos. An evil regime called the New Establishment had toiled for decades to control every corner of the post-apocalyptic planet, and they were now on the cusp of world domination. Only by traveling to 2035 and preventing the past could a new timeline emerge, along with the hope of a brighter future.
A warmth enveloped Claire’s hand, strong and sure, as anxiety laced her veins. After all, Lainey was her best friend, her confidant, and a mother figure of sorts. Claire loved her dearly. If something happened to her, she would be devastated. The man beside Claire understood this, and that comforted her, for Cyrus had somehow become her rock. Smiling up at him, she compressed his hand, silently thanking him for his thoughtful reassurance.
Her feelings for him were complex and simple, both at once. She didn’t know when or how she’d fallen down the chasm of love with the strong, stoic soldier, but it had happened all the same. Although she understood he didn’t return her romantic feelings, that didn’t seem to matter to her heart, which he now possessed even though she was certain he had no idea she was secretly enamored. Claire equated it to the natural rock formation she’d adored as a child, all those years ago, on the outskirts of Solera. It jutted from the river, looming and hardened. Slick with summer rain, she would sit at the top and stare down, sure that if she glided down the slippery surface she’d drown at the bottom. But even as a child, she was brave—and a bit precocious—and had slithered down the wet stone, surging headlong into fear. Every time she landed, the water was warm and enveloping, reminding her there was reward at the end of risk.
Glancing up at Cyrus, Claire reveled in his calloused skin against her comparative softness. Just as she’d slid down the stone in her youth, she’d fallen so deeply into the abyss with him that a return to simple friendship was unlikely—on her end at least. The indomitable man beside her was tough to read. There were times when she glimpsed emotion in his deep brown eyes, but she was never sure of the true sentiment. Did he see her as just another asset to protect? Someone he cared for and had a sworn duty toward? Or did he truly see her—Claire covered in layers of dyed hair and multicolored fingernails to hide her other flaws? Claire with the bubbly personality she exhibited not only because it was her true nature, but because it was easier to live that way than admit she lived in a world where she didn’t belong; a soldier in a war she’d enlisted in due to other people’s decisions, and one she was so tired of fighting?
It probably seemed overly simplistic to those as dedicated to saving humanity as Lainey and Cyrus: the idea of living a normal life, raising a family, and not having to constantly worry about preventing an apocalypse, solving time travel, or saving the world. Perhaps it was selfish. After all, Claire had a brilliant mind and had always used it to further the cause. But, unlike Lainey, the cause didn’t drive her; didn’t push her to wake up each day and forge ahead. No, her motivating forces were much simpler.
Settling down. Living a simple life. Creating a family. Finding a husband who would challenge and love her even through dark and ominous times. Lacing her fingers through Cyrus’s, she beamed at him, realizing she wanted those things with him. Wanted him to envelop her in his embrace and kiss away any lingering doubts and fears after a long day. And she desperately desired to return the sentiment. The familiar flashes of her daydreams took hold and she pushed them aside. Refocusing on the mission, she concentrated on the Sphere.
The wormhole opened behind Lainey and Hunter, portentous and devoid of light. It dragged Claire from her musings and filled her with a sense of foreboding. What if they perished? What if they failed? The possibilities were endless, and the unknowns were maddening to Claire’s scientific brain.
Suddenly, Lainey and Hunter were sucked into the wormhole, and the bunker shook. Behind her, Zach clicked a menagerie of buttons, commencing the stabilization mode. The wormhole disappeared, and she looked at the kind, wiry scientist with the mop of dirty-blond hair behind the console.
“Time of transport of Dr. Elaine Randolph and Captain Hunter Rhodes to March 26, 2035 confirmed at twelve thirteen a.m. on September 2, 2075,” Claire said.
“Confirmed,” Zach replied, his tone heavy with the gravity of their actions.
Nodding, Claire released Cyrus’s hand and turned to the group. “Cyrus and I are next. After that, Sara and Elle will follow, then Marie and Alora, then Zach. Ivan and Steven will then shut down and destroy the Sphere. I speak for all of us when I say ‘thank you’ to both of you. Your courage in staying behind is extremely noble. We all wish you a long and healthy life with your families in this timeline.”
Ivan and Steven nodded, the loyal soldiers dedicated to the future they’d chosen. Claire thought it so brave. There was something so magnanimous about staying in a timeline where evil was certain to prevail in order to be with the ones you loved. She hoped if she was faced with a choice of that magnitude one day, she’d make the same decision.
The swirling arms of the Sphere came to a halt, and Cyrus placed an encouraging hand on her lower back. Elation that he was paired with her on their trip through time coursed through her. She’d always felt so safe with him. He led her up the stairs, quiet and pensive as usual, and they turned to face Zach. Donning their plastic hoods, they zipped them, ensuring they were protected from head to toe. Claire tilted her head at Zach, and he depressed the console button, causing the metal arms to clatter before beginning to twirl. For some reason, the sound startled her, and Cyrus grasped her hand, reminding her of his strength and fortitude. With him by her side, nothing could truly harm her. It was a belief as solid to her as the endless equations she’d solved with Lainey and Zach. Cyrus was unwavering and steady.
Thank god, because she was a quaking mess of nerves and fear.