Strength Enduring(7)

By: Carrie Ann Ryan

This one, however, had more than the elements. A woman held a crying child, an infant. Dhani couldn’t make out their faces, but she knew there was a desperate kind of love that spoke of something far greater than what she knew and what she could see.

There was a couple holding each other, no fear or angst running through their body language. Instead, there was a sudden joy that Dhani felt even though it couldn’t touch the older woman holding the infant. She didn’t understand it, but when the flames finally came, and the dream tilted on its axis, the couple wasn’t there anymore. The old woman wasn’t there either. Instead, a child stared up at her from her own cradled hands. Bright eyes. But there was something missing. Something had been taken from the child.

And she didn’t understand it.

Now, she stood in the middle of an empty room, her body draped in white linen, a breeze that seemingly came from nowhere making the dress she wore flutter. Her hair did the same in an unseen wind.

Then the fire came again, and she was no more.

Dhani sat up, her body drenched in sweat, her thin tank top sticking to her skin. She was no longer dreaming, of that she was sure. Because, even in her dreams, she never felt the fear that she did when she woke. She never felt the exhaustion that crept into her bones from her lack of restful sleep. And for some reason, in her dreams, her hair always seemed to be blowing in a wind she couldn’t feel. Now, some of her hair stuck to her face in sweaty strands, and the rest was piled on top of her head in a messy bun.

She glanced over at the clock. Since she only had about half an hour before she was due to get up, she got out of bed, turned off her alarm, and decided to start her day. Like usual, there would be no more sleep after a dream like that. She may not have them every night, but they’d come to her often enough throughout her life that she had her own pattern, and her own routine when she needed to deal with the ramifications and the feelings that came after.

Because when she dreamed things like in the one she’d just woken up from, that meant something was going to change for her. It could be small; a tiny thing like a new brand of coffee. Or, it could be life-altering.

To say she was weird was an understatement.

She’d never told her friends about her dreams. She wasn’t quite sure how she could start the conversation. Or tell them that it always felt as if she were going crazy when she couldn’t really figure out what she was dreaming about or why.

One of her best friends, Dawn, had kept her own secrets, but the fact that Dawn was a wolf shifter and now mated into the Talon Pack seemed a far bigger secret than weird dreams that she might have off and on. Another of their friends, Aimee, had kept the secret that something was wrong with her, that she was dying, from the others. But then again, she’d had her reasons.

Dreams that made no sense and were of no consequence other than perhaps connections to other things in her life didn’t seem like something Dhani needed to share. Having her friends know wouldn’t change anything except perhaps their perception of her.

She could only wonder what their other friend, Cheyenne, kept from them, as it seemed the four best friends who thought they could tell each other anything, each kept something close to the heart.

With a sigh, she stripped out of her sweaty clothes, tossed them into the hamper, and studied her reflection in the mirror. She didn’t like how pale she was and the fear that was in her eyes even though she didn’t know what she should be afraid of. She turned to the side and lifted her breast ever so slightly so she could look at the scar that had been on her body since she was a baby. She called it a scar rather than a birthmark because it never felt as if she’d had it since birth. The knowing was just one more thing that made her feel off. But it wasn’t as if she could explain it.

On her ribcage, right below her breast, was a long scar that looked like a wisp of flame. The mark had grown as she did, and it had forever piqued her curiosity for how she had come to get it. No one could see it unless she wore a very tiny bathing suit, which was something she didn’t often do. Or when she was in bed with another. That meant that only a few close people had ever seen her scar other than her parents when she was younger and her doctors.

The red mark didn’t hurt, and it didn’t do anything. It was just there to remind her every time she looked at herself in the mirror that something was different about her.

Or maybe she’d been spending too much time with one foot in the world of the paranormal that something as innocuous as a scar seemed far more important than just a mark on her flesh.

Of course, thinking about the paranormal made her think of Kam. She couldn’t believe she’d actually gone up to him two nights prior and told him flat out that she knew they were mates. She wasn’t a wolf, and she wasn’t supposed to have that knowledge at all. But then again, that sense of knowing was loud in her mind when it wanted to be. After she had said the words, he had just stood there like a deer in headlights, rather than the wolf that he was. Then she had walked away, a sway in her step as if she hadn’t a care in the world. That was so beyond the truth, but she hoped she’d put on a better façade than what was going on in her mind.