When Holly Quinn meets Sarah Kingsley at Fine Books, she could in no way at all predict what the future would hold for her, or the cruel and heartless twists life was about to hand her. Will she be given her one more last chance when she stumbles upon the book she's only ever heard of, Passage Of Time and the magic trapped in those pages? Who is Adelaine Alandrali and how does Sarah know her? Does Sarah instinctively know what's in-store for Holly? Can Holly alter her own fate just as Sarah once did hers?
~ First Chapter ~
“For one moment in time, for one call of the heart and the mind to the soul, time is nothing. When the soul agrees that there might have been a fault in the stars, the heart, the mind and the soul will come together, and alter one moment in time.” – Adelaine Alandrali
She mustered up all the strength she had left inside of her to turn onto her side, and pull her legs up against her, until her knees touched the warmth of her chin.
She was crippled by fear as she stared apprehensively out in front of her. Her terrified eyes searched for a shadow that had cruelly infested her home and infected her life only a few minutes earlier.
She could hear the echo of his footsteps as though he was trampling holes through her floor, with each angry step he took. She listened closely as she held her breath to what sounded like a zipper being pulled up.
Holly folded her arms around her belly and was at once unnervingly aware of a warmth that had begun to seep through her hands. As she lay desperate to identify the warm wetness that was flowing through her fingers, she suddenly heard the slamming of what she was sure was her front door.
The violent way in which a door had been battered and shut, echoed down the hall, and right into her bedroom where she was laying motionlessly on the floor, submerged in a pool of her own blood.
She fought desperately to keep her eyes open as they grew heftier with each passing moment and with each breath she struggled to take.
As her tears slowly dribbled from her eyes, Holly lay on her bedroom floor, unable to make a sound and powerless to move. As her blood cascaded around her, the stench in the air began to sicken her. Her body contorted violently when she detected the continuous flow of her own blood all around her.
She could not bear the horrific smell that had begun to immensely frighten and terrorize her. The whiff of death wholly plunged her into a kind of stench she had never inhaled or smelled before.
The waves of panic that had begun to overwhelm her, sent a panic-filled shudder down her spine. She was suddenly cold and sleepy. She moved her toes slightly, and was at once aware of a throbbing, burning sensation in her legs that travelled right down to her feet and into the very tips of her toes.
The warmth that had seeped out below her and soaked into her body, had become ice-cold. She was once again gravely aware of how distressingly weighty and sluggish her eyes had become.
The intense discomfort throughout her body became almost too much to endure, when she could not determine precisely where her soreness was coming from. She could not identify a single segment of her body that was not aching.
She wanted to surrender to the pain; to break down and scream out in agony, but even that seemed almost too excruciating to do.
Her breathing had become severely labored, as she distraughtly gasped for air to fill her lungs. With each breath she fought to take, she was sure that her airways were severely restricting her ability to breath, and that her lungs could no longer take in even a single breath of fresh air.
Her legs were cold and shaking irrepressibly. Holly realized in horror that she was completely naked from the waist down. Again, she tried to move, but she could barely move a finger, or lift an arm.
With every bit of strength left inside of her, she turned onto her back, and stared up at the ceiling, still frantic not to surrender to the darkness that was threatening to overpower her. She turned her head and stared at the calendar that she had hung up behind her door only a few weeks earlier.
“February 12th, 2005 …”
She whispered huskily and knew instinctively that it would be the date permanently marked and inscribed on her tombstone.
“How often didn’t I reach this day in all the years I have lived, and I never knew … I never knew …”
She thought sadly as she lay staring at the date. Her eyes moved forward two days when she noticed the enormous red circle she drew around the 14th,
“Valentine’s day …”
She whispered softly before she slowly turned away from the calendar, and allowed her eyes to rest on the ceiling once again.
She felt a sharp twinge come from her belly. When she could no longer control her agony; when the fear began to cripple and wholly engulf her, she finally cried out in grueling pain when she realized that the warmth was nothing more than her own blood that was seeping from her stomach.
She had, only moments before, been gutted with her own kitchen knife, and left for dead by a man she had known for most of her adulthood.
Adam Weston had relentlessly pursued her during her years at college, and when she fell in love with his best friend, Mark Quinn, Adam slowly withdrew from their crowd as a way to punish her.
When he later joined Mark as a firefighter in Hazel Creek, Holly was sure that Adam had finally come to terms with her relationship with Mark and that he had ultimately moved past his utter sensitivity of that, that immensely plagued him; the fact that Holly had rejected his advances.
Adam was assigned to District 61, while Mark was stationed at District 59 shortly after they had completed their training in Queenstown.
When they both were sent to the city to complete the grueling training that would later make firemen out of them, their friendship once again became more like a brotherhood.
Holly was pleased and relieved that they were able to reconnect and place their differences aside. In no way at all, was it her intention to dissolve a friendship that had been around long before Holly showed up.
After Mark and Holly’s wedding in September the previous year, Holly couldn’t help but notice a restlessness about Adam, almost like some sort of turmoil that was brewing inside of him.
She felt incredibly awkward around Adam, and she became intensely suspicious of him when he would show up at their apartment unannounced, especially when Mark was on shift.
He would frequently show up as an uninvited guest, and falsely claim that he was simply there, waiting for Mark to end his shift and meet up with him.
Holly would feel increasingly compromised when he would stand particularly close to her, and when he tried to kiss her once, she insisted that he no longer show up at their apartment while Mark was at work.
Holly in no way at all, ever mentioned her feelings of discomfort around Adam to Mark and she did not have the heart to tell Mark about Adam’s intrusiveness towards her.
Holly and Mark had moved into their apartment shortly before their wedding a few months ago. They had met when Holly began her first year at college in Hazel Creek. She had only months before enrolled in a graphics design course, while Mark was keen to complete a certified paramedic’s course with Adam.
Adam and Mark were close friends, a sort of a brotherhood that Holly could never quite understand; one that dated back to their primary school years.
They had met in grade two and were inseparable almost from day one.
Mark’s mother, Shirley would often tell Holly stories of how the two boys would spell nothing more than utter trouble together.
They were persistently in trouble, but Arnold, Marks’s father would regularly reassure Shirley that they were simply young boys doing what boys did best, cause havoc.
Yet, Shirley couldn’t shake a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety around Adam.
She once told Holly how Mark would appear to be disciplined, well-spoken and well-mannered when Adam wasn’t around, but the moment that Adam would show up, Mark’s attitude would be altered at once.
When Sarah met Adam, she had no desire at all to become romantically involved with him, but they became friends all the same.
Adam seemed rather odd looking to Holly, and from the very beginning, there was something that unnerved her about him.
He had a way of peering over his glasses at Holly, which would leave her feeling as though he could see right into her soul and below the depths of her skin.
She would often catch a glimpse of his eyes trailing over body, and she would at once fold her arms around her, desperate to shield her body from his piercing glare.
The way he would look at her would leave her feeling as though he was undressing her with his yes and with his mind.
One more occasions than one, Holly would walk away from him feeling naked, violated and disgusted. Adam made no excuses for his behavior, and when Holly once asked him why he would stare so piercingly at her, he simply laughed it off.
“I don’t even realize I’m staring, Holly. Are you sure I do?”
“Yes Adam, and it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like it.”
She would snap at him before she would walk away and avoid him at every corner and turn for the next couple of days.
His sandy blonde hair seemed unruly and unwashed most of the time, but his darker than midnight eyes sent tremors down her spine each time she would look into them.
Holly could not help but often think that no-one, but his mother could consider Adam worthy of love and care.
Adam was self-centered, egotistical and dark. There was a darkness about him that would frighten Holly immensely.
She would catch glimpses of his facial expressions as they drove past an accident scene, and by the unnerving smile on his face, Holly knew that Adam’s behavior was not normal. It was almost as though he was relishing in the horror, and that his eyes were feasting on the sight of blood.
Often, she would hear him tell Mark about an animal that he found in the middle of the road after it was struck by a car.
The way in which he described the brutality of the accident and the subsequent injuries, left Holly reeling.
She by no means at all, found him attractive in any way. He had filled out rather early on, but his cheek bones gave him a skeletal look.
It was clear to Holly that his muscled look was as a result of hours in the gym, and endless skiing holidays throughout the years.
He was by no means at all a good-looking man, but his physical appearance made him attractive to the opposite sex, or so it seemed to Holly. He took great pride in his body, and again, Holly couldn’t help but wonder if he was trying to overcompensate for his lack of manly beauty.
When Holly met Mark, she was at once bowled over by his warm and energetic nature. She was instantly mesmerized by his forest green eyes.
When she looked into them for the very first time, she was reminded of ripples in a pond. It would tell her of a forest quenched after it rains, and it would reflect the ocean’s temperament during a storm.
His eyes were almost as though there was a promise that spring was about to push its way through piles and piles of snow after an especially cold winter. She fell hopelessly in love with his dark, not quite black hair.
She adored the way the fragments of color seemed as though it had bled out like ink hemorrhaging from a pen and replaced by tones of grey almost as though they were apologizing to him. Mark was the kind of man that stopped her in her tracks.
The way in which his weak smile and nonchalant gaze caught her attention, reinforced the fact that Mark had no idea how strikingly attractive he was. What appealed to her the most was how modest he was and how his blush was a dead give-away to his bashful nature.
He was as handsome as they come, but it could in no way at all, compare with his beautiful nature.
He would speak slowly and softly. Holly can barely remember a single day that Mark raised his voice at her.
She often told him that he could just as well be the honey pot that attracted the bees. Strangers would warm up to him instantly, while old friends would stand protectively beside him.
He couldn’t hurt a fly, and not once did Holly ever see him lose his temper or act on impulse or frustration.
He was everything Adam was not and again, Holly could not quite uncover the secret to their rock-solid, and loyal friendship. It almost did not seem natural to Holly.
She was certain that she often caught glimpses of agitation from Mark following a frustrating conversation with Adam. There were times when Holly could swear that Mark felt the need to force tolerance for Adam.
Holly Mackenzie was born in Hazel Creek and raised by her devoted mother after her father passed away only a few months after she was born.
Danielle Mackenzie once told her the story of how Holly had inherited her father’s appearance, from her pearly blonde hair right through to her hazel eyes. Her emotions were as his, not easily hidden on her innocent face.
When she felt pain, just like Arthur Mackenzie, Holly’s was evident in the crease of her brow and the down-curve on her full lips.
Danielle often told Holly how she thought her face was cut out right from the pages of a magazine and shown to God before she was born.
She was a beautiful girl who stopped growing before her sixteenth birthday. Holly was by no means at all, beautiful in the way that beauty was measured.
Her skin was not perfect, her hair often too curly and there was nothing piercing about her eyes. She was shorter that the average woman, yet, it was in her ordinariness that she was extraordinary.
Holly grew up as a simple girl. She was always the one to help those around her, and she was utterly grateful for all she had, and all Danielle was able to give her.
But, Holly had a smile that could catch anyone off-guard, and when she laughed, it was almost as though the entire world would come to an abrupt end and laugh her laugh with her. Mark once told her that to be around her made him feel as though he was someone important. Regardless of the season, she would project endless summer rays to warm him and rejuvenate his spirit
Holly and Danielle would regularly visit Arthur’s grave and religiously place flowers at his tomb stone. It was during one of those visits that Danielle Mackenzie told Holly how her father, Arthur was killed on a bright, sunny, Sunday morning.
Their morning began just like a hundred Sunday mornings before that. Yet, Danielle told Holly how something felt different that day; something felt no quite right but she just couldn’t put her finger on it.
The sunrise was tainted by a pinkish glow, unlike any other Sunday before. When she stood staring out of her bedroom window, she was sure that the clouds were tinted and that the colors had spread across the sky announcing an unexpected event, as if by a celestial hand.
But, other than any morning before, the air was almost too clear, the morning shadows too distinct and the water in their pond glittered like she had never seen before.
Arthur was an avid cyclist who took immense pride in his appearance, his fitness and his health.
He was habitually complemented on his physique, and Arthur would contribute his energy and well-being to that of years of cycling.
He would cycle each morning before work, but on Sundays, he would sleep in for an extra hour, before he set out and cycled through Hazel Creek and out on hiking trails for most of the morning.
When Arthur failed to return home around lunch time, Danielle grew worried and could not shake the feeling that Arthur had possibly met some terrible fate. In all the years they had been married, Arthur had never diverted from his course or altered his trail.
He had never arrived home late on any given day and when Danielle waited a half an hour longer, she quickly bundled Holly into her car seat, before she set out on the trail he would religiously follow.
It couldn’t have been more than a mile from their home, when Daniella spotted his bicycle peek out from a ditch slightly off the road. She grew overwhelmingly anxious when she pulled up at the scene and was horrified to find Arthur trapped in a ditch, unconscious and bleeding from a wound on his head.
She was almost hysterical when she tensely flagged down a motorist who dialed for an ambulance as Danielle frantically tried to revive him.
It was too late. The coroner estimated his time of death as almost an hour before their arrival, and assured Danielle that she had done all that she possibly could, but that there was nothing that could be done for him.
There was evidence that he was involved in a hit and run accident, but they were never able to identify the vehicle responsible.
Daniella was shattered by Arthur’s sudden and untimely death, and even though he had left them financially well taken care of, she struggled enormously to raise Holly without him.
Danielle adored Holly and devoted herself to the little girl who would grow up without a farther.
She had no desire to bring another man into the home she once shared with Arthur and she ended up living out the rest of her days fiercely protective of and dedicated to Holly.
As she focused on raising Holly, there just never seemed to be room for anyone else in Danielle’s life.
Holly was a short few months away from graduating from college, when she walked into her mother’s bedroom early one morning.
She found it odd and uncharacteristic of Danielle to sleep in and when she had not yet made their morning coffee, she went to check in on her mother.
Holly was horrified and in a state of shock to discover Danielle’s lifeless body. She was devastated that Danielle had passed away in her sleep during the night, with no prior indication of poor health or any other evidence to indicate that Danielle’s life was about to come to an abrupt end.
Holly was equally distressed to learn of the autopsy results, wherein her cause of death was confirmed to have been nothing more than a failing heart. It made no sense to her, and when Holly reflected on the days leading up to her mother’s death, there was again, no warning, nothing at all to indicate that Danielle was unwell or that she would simply go to sleep, and never wake up again.
Holly was convinced that her mother had lived out her days, pining for Arthur, and by the time Holly reached the age of twenty-two, she was sure that Danielle had died of a broken heart.
When Holly inherited the home Arthur once bought Danielle, she was too shaken and too emotionally spent to live a day longer in her childhood home without her mother.
The home her father had proudly presented Danielle and brought Holly home too. Overcome by sadness of having lost both her parents, Holly did not hesitate to place their house on the market.
Before the first thirty days were over, Claire Swanson had sold the house on behalf of Holly to a young couple about to start their very own family.
Holly used the proceeds of the sale to convert a loft in the apartment Mark had bought only weeks earlier, into a studio where she could work from home.
Adam had hinted on numerous occasions that Holly and Mark take him on as a roommate, but Holly would in no way at all, entertain the idea.
Adam’s anger and resentment towards Holly mounted with each passing day, and when Mark wasn’t around, he would glare at her with what seemed like pure hatred to Holly.
She was convinced that she could see the invisible daggers that his eyes were shooting at her, each time Adam would stare.