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Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know; I suck. This is a long time coming. In my defense, I had an original ending when I posted chapter 3 of Kismet Encounter but wanted it to be so much more. It deserved to be better. So, while trying to somehow better the ending, I decided I wanted to completely rewrite the story. Funny, in hindsight, funny and dumb. I got distracted by other stories, then had a manuscript accepted by a publisher, then a second, and one thing led to another. Things have been insanely busy in my world, with my day job, family life, and writing prospects. Then came the COVID19 crisis (I work in healthcare).
My point is, I apologize for the wait. This is the final chapter in Kismet Encounter, unless, you know, I decide on some spinoffs ¯\_(?)_/¯. I sincerely appreciate the emails and comments from readers saying how much they like the story and wanted the ending to finally come. Here it is! I hope it doesn’t disappoint, seeing as you all have waited far too long for it.
If you’re new to this series, go back and read the rest. This is definitely not a standalone series. I promise it’s worth it!
Thanks for your patience and gentle pushes to finish the story-it meant a lot.
Huge thank you to E for pushing me to finish this and for edits.
Recap: we left off with Roland and Camille being shoved into the back of a dark SUV.
“Where’s Camille?” Allen asked as he entered the living room, scratching his chin.
Jude looked to Malcolm as he shrugged his shoulders before he turned back to the video game he was playing. “I haven’t seen her since she left with Roland.” Hours had gone by since the two left together.
Carey and Autumn simultaneously shook their heads.
Jude could only imagine what they were doing but had a good guess. Who could think of sex at a time like this? Her sister, of course. She rolled her eyes.
Malcolm cleared his throat. “Has anyone seen her?”
Jude nodded. “I saw her and Roland leave a couple hours ago but they haven’t come back.”
Allen’s eyes widened, and he turned to the bay of computer monitors, his red hair whipping around him. His fingers moved across the keyboard at record speed and Jude stood from her spot on the couch to see what he was doing.
“Carey,” he said without halting his movements. Carey got up and walked over to Allen’s plethora of screens and leaned in. They both looked intent in their search of the screens and Jude became intrigued. She stood, dusting her pants free of whatever made up the crumbs all over her pants and she ambled over to the men.
“Oh, fuck, oh fuck,” Allen muttered.
Malcolm put his video game down. “What’s going on?”
Allen shook his head as he scrolled through a long list of numbers that Jude couldn’t understand. “They have your sister and Camille.”
“What?” The word came out on an exhale and Jude had to steady herself by grasping the back of the chair Allen sat in. “What the hell are we going to do now? Oh, God.” She slapped a hand to her forehead as dizziness washed over her. Fuck.
“Don’t freak out just yet,” Allen said without looking up from the computer. Jude felt nauseous, the thought of the two most important people in her life in danger proving too much for her to handle.
“Don’t…freak out? Too late.” Jude wasn’t a fainter but at that moment, the whoosh in her ears had her wobbling on her feet.
Carey stood and hooked an arm under Jude’s, leading her back to the couch. “No passing out, dude. We’ll figure this out.”
“What are we going to do? That ruins your whole plan.” Jude put her head in her hands. Never in her life had she felt so helpless. Not only was Natalie probably in a state of terror locked in a room in the old psychiatric hospital—better that than dead, she reminded herself—but now her sister was as well. The tough one of the twins. The one who had been Jude’s rock their entire childhood.
Allen’s brow scrunched. “Our plan isn’t ruined—we just have to recalibrate.”
“Can’t we call the police?” Jude inquired, lifting her head with hope. The thought had her feeling a little less despondent until Allen shook his head.
Allen stuck his fingers out, bringing them to his head like a mock phone. “Yes, hi. I’d like to report a kidnapping by a secret organization. They took my friends who have magic powers and they’re testing on them at that old hospital in Kirkland. Yeah, the one that shut down.” He lowered his hands and met Jude’s eyes, the whole charade igniting Jude’s distress. “Would you believe that?” Jude shook her head. “Good, because I sure the fuck wouldn’t.”
Carey placed herself in a chair opposite Jude and gave her an empathetic look, lips a frown and brows knitted. “The hospital Dr. Thorn purchased isn’t being heavily guarded. I don’t think she’s wanted much attention on her little science project; the less people involved, the better. There’s a chance, a slim one, that we could breach the system and get in there to find our people. We may just have to go with the fire idea and hope for the best. The fire department and the police will respond casino siteleri to a fire because of the alarm triggering an alert in their system. We get in, get our people, and get them out.”
Allen sneered, tossing a pad of paper on the coffee table. “Yeah, and there goes our hope to expose those sons of bitches.”
Carey whipped her head around. “At this point, it’s not about that. We have no idea what Thorn could be doing to any of them or what she’s already done. The best we can do is try to hack into the mainframe fire panel and turn on the fire alarms, though of course that’ll cause the sprinklers to go off. Potential for damaged documents.”
Allen rolled his eyes and let his head loll back. “Ugh, waterlogged documents are not going to hold up in court.”
“You got any better ideas in that big brain of yours?” Carey snapped.
Shaking his head, Allen sat forward. “No, I don’t. We’ll just have to do what we can and hope for the best.”
Jude watched as the group gathered once again. Autumn, Carey, Allen, Brian, and Dylan surrounded the coffee table, the printed lay out of the hospital building spread over the table and they discussed the logistics. She tried to pay attention, but her fear was overwhelming.
Closing her eyes, she bent her head down, trying to reach out to her sister. It hadn’t worked the countless times she’d already tried to reach out to Natalie but there was a shred of hope she could contact her sister.
The last words she said to her the night before were hurtful. Roland had been crass in her attitude toward Natalie’s recuse, no doubt, but Jude hadn’t meant to snap at Roland with such venom. She cursed under her breath when she came up with the same white noise as she did when she attempted to communicate with Natalie.
The rule of proximity applied to the twins shared telepathy just as it did with any other person but Jude had hoped it would be possible. With a sigh of resignation, she opened her eyes and tuned into the conversation unfolding before her, hoping they had better luck with a plan than she did.
A raging headache gnawed at the corners of Natalie’s brain as she woke. When she opened her eyes, bright fluorescents overhead assaulted her eyes and she squinted as she took in the room around her. It looked like a large exam room in a hospital, white walls, tiled floors, and various equipment pushed to the side.
A reasonably sized window showed off the sky, a deep purple of either early morning or late night, Natalie couldn’t tell. through the window. Cars zipped across an overpass that had to be only a few miles away from wherever they were located. It looked slightly familiar, but fog clung to the periphery of Natalie’s mind, and she couldn’t place the geography. Soreness spread through her arms as she tried to move them and she realized with horror they were restrained to the bed by soft cuffs wrapped around her wrists.
Panic set in and she tried to move, her unrestrained feet kicking the blanket from the bed she was in. She noticed that it wasn’t a bed at all but rather a stretcher. A thin, clear tube was sticking out of her arm leading to a small machine beside her that let out a soft beep every few seconds.
Cords trailed from her chest out of the thin hospital gown she wore to another bulky contraption. When did she change her clothes? Natalie looked around for anything to get her out of the restraints, but she couldn’t see anything within her short reach. She remembered with a sickening feeling where she was, or where she had been before.
Had she been rescued and taken to a hospital?
That glimmer of hope was shattered as the curtain hanging in the front of the room moved, admitting Dr. Thorn and a man not much older than Natalie into the room.
“What’s going on?” Natalie asked, her voice much lower than she anticipated. The man walked around the head of the bed, just out of sight while Dr. Thorn stood at the end of the stretcher, looking up from her tablet to glare at Natalie.
“Given the amount of uncontrolled energy you showed yesterday, we decided to be a little more proactive in our protection. You’ve been receiving a sedative since your incident to maintain yours and our safety. I apologize in advance that the effects take a while to wear off and you are still at a low level in the likely event you attempt the same stunt again.”
Natalie fought at the bands around her wrists again, which was futile with her weakened state and the tightness. “We’ll be testing your brain activity as well as taking a variety of blood samples.” Dr. Thorn pinned Natalie with a vicious smile. “We need your full cooperation.”
Natalie’s trepidation of what was to come had her heart racing, but her limbs felt heavy and her thoughts jumbled. The man stood over her, placing sticky pads over her head, from her temples to the back of her neck. She shivered from the cold adhesive and clamped her teeth over her bottom lip. Long wires fell from the stickers on her head, leading into a small machine on a wheeled cart that stood beside the stretcher she lay she hadn’t canlı casino noticed before.
“This will map your baseline brain waves and then we’ll need you to give us a performance of your ability. We’ll lower the sedative you’re receiving just briefly enough for you to provide us with a demonstration.
There was no guilt in Natalie’s mind for what she had done, nearly killing the doctor. Dr. Thorn was evil, and Natalie could sense it even more on their second meeting. In hindsight, she wished she would have used her strength to break free from the room and run instead of freezing afterward, providing this cruel doctor with enough time to drug her.
“Do you really think I’m going to do what you want?” Natalie asked, her voice softer and raspier than she’d hoped.
Dr. Thorn tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. “I do believe you would have a very strong reason to.” She bent her head, fingers scrolling over the glass of the tablet. Dr. Thorn brought the tablet closer to Natalie and Natalie fought a gasp.
The scene looked down on a small room, a familiar figure laying on the cot. A short crop of messy black hair splayed on the gray pillow, pointed nose, and plump lips visible even through the poor security camera image.
“Jude,” she whispered, her breath coming in fast. She looked up, meeting Dr. Thorn’s piercing gaze. “Please…please don’t hurt her.”
“It’s your choice whether or not anything will befall Ms. Costello.” Dr. Thorn sighed, her expression feigning empathy. “All I need is your cooperation. I don’t want to harm anyone.”
“But?” Natalie pried. She wasn’t buying the bull shit Dr. Thorn was trying to sell her. Terror tore through her at the thought of harm coming to Jude.
“But, when one becomes so close to the scientific breakthrough of the millennia, not much can stop them.” She looked to the young man and stated, “Let’s begin.” After the man nodded, he turned a knob on the machine, a strip of carbon paper spilling out over the cart. Dr. Thorn left the room, leaving Natalie alone with her silent worker.
The first part of the testing was painless, save the numerous pokes in her arms required for the blood samples. Natalie was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel—but maybe that was because of the limited sedation—until Dr. Thorn came back into the room with another woman beside her, her eyes honing in on her with a wicked smile.
“The medication we’ve been giving you has an incredibly short half-life and, once stopped, will leave you with full control of your powers. But, heed my warning, Ms. Rhodes. I need your full cooperation.”
Natalie bit her lower lip. It was becoming raw. Rarely had she tried to manipulate her powers at will, most times being a chance occurrence fueled by rage or equally strong emotions. If she couldn’t perform, she feared Dr. Thorn would carry out her threat on Jude. “Okay.”
Dr. Thorn took a folding chair out from behind the curtain, dragged it across the floor until it was in front of the stretcher, and gave Natalie a nod. Glancing at the worker beside Natalie’s bed, she said, “Stop the medication completely.”
The man beside her clamped the plastic IV tube but left it connected to Natalie’s arm. “Now,” Dr. Thorn said, “Move the chair.”
After only a few moments of the medication being stopped, the light fog cleared in her mind, allowing her to focus on the chair. It was an ordinary, fold away beach chair, the type one would find at the shore rather than in a hospital, or wherever Natalie was, white strips lacing the seat of it.
Her eyes squinted on the plastic bands that made up the backing, willing it to move. She sighed in irritation, the movement not coming. The last time she’d tried to use her ability on command was when she was a teenager. Natalie wanted to prove to her cousin, Jamie that she could do what she claimed she could. They were sitting outside beneath an oak tree in Jamie’s backyard, shielded from the summer sun and a light breeze fluttering the thick leaves overhead. “Do it,” Jamie had said.
Natalie had stared at the little twig in Jamie’s palms and tried her best to move it but, after five minutes, Jamie had become restless. “I knew you were lying.”
“I’m not lying!” Natalie had protested, crossing her arms over her chest.
Jamie’s eyes narrowed. “Prove it or it’s not real.” The tone of her voice made Natalie mad and the twig flew from Jamie’s hands.
If only she could provoke the same response to shove the chair. She closed her eyes, begging her subconscious to do the job. Was it her subconscious that was in control of it or something deeper within herself? Natalie shook her head, chewing on her lip. Her mind was still muddled from the drugs Dr. Thorn used to keep her power contained and she tried to push the confusion and distracting thoughts aside.
“Ms. Rhodes.” She opened her eyes to find Dr. Thorn staring at her with unveiled perturbation.
“Sorry. I’m trying, I swear,” she admitted, her voice cracking with emotion. It wasn’t for lack of trying but Natalie couldn’t harness the energy she kaçak casino had the day prior when she threw Dr. Thorn to the wall. Natalie repositioned herself the best she could given that her hands were still restrained.
With a deep breath, Natalie tried to expel the doubt and brought her attention to the chair again, thinking of Jude. Her smile. Her laugh. The undeniable affection in her eyes when she looked at Natalie, drowning her in ardor. She was in trouble, because of Natalie.
Natalie’s eyes began to water as she refused to blink, hoping that would help her case. Finally, the chair slid two inches to the right.
“Do the blood draw, now,” Dr. Thorn voiced to one of her workers. Natalie kept her eyes trailed on the chair as the sharp pinch in the crook of her arm alerted her of the needle going into her skin.
She could vaguely hear paper cascading down from the EEG machine beside the bed, the pages ruffling as they fell on top of each other. She hated Dr. Thorn. She wanted to throw her through the window rather than the wall again, but it still wouldn’t fulfil the need to bring harm to her as she had done to Jude and the other people.
The chair lifted from the ground, hitting the wall and dropping to the floor.
“Wonderful,” Dr. Thorn said, her voice full of enthusiasm. Natalie switched her line of sight to the doctor, narrowing in on the woman. She was evil incarnate, and Natalie knew it. She tortured Jude and Roland when they were children, among who knows how many others, and she would continue to do it as long as she was able.
Dr. Thorn must’ve noticed the look on Natalie’s face as she moved from her, whispering something into Brent’s ear, “Give her a bolus.” He fiddled with the machine dispensing Natalie’s sedative and Natalie fought against at the restraints, the sudden crash of dizziness drowning her.
“Let me go,” Natalie demanded, her voice already softening despite her rage. The workers hustled around the room, taking the tubes of blood and a large stack of EEG carbon paper. The man disappeared behind the curtain with the items in his hands while the other woman stayed behind with Thorn, who had walked around to the head of the bed.
Natalie couldn’t see her, and Natalie’s frustration was growing, and along with it, the raw energy. It coiled and festered in her chest, a painful tinge that begged to be released. Natalie felt rage, hot and fiery within her, pushing aside the effects of the medication. “You got what you wanted. Now, let me and Jude go.” Dr. Thorn snorted but said nothing.
Natalie’s panic rose, the pain in her chest blossoming from the energy. This wasn’t how she would continue her life. She was not a lab rat. Natalie took a long breath, filling her lungs before letting all of it out, the energy permeating the air as she screamed.
The EEG monitor exploded, flickers of light along with metal shrapnel falling around the room as well as onto the papers that were still falling from the printer. Her chest heaved, every cell in her body alight with the expulsion of the energy. Natalie heard Dr. Thorn curse as the fire alarm began to squeal. “I don’t care how you do it, but you need to turn it off.”
The machine continued to spit sparks, falling onto the moth-eaten curtain before sprawling into tiny fires. Natalie’s heart slammed against her chest.
The woman was scurrying around the room, turning to look at Dr. Thorn with wide eyes. “I don’t know how to silence the alarm. Even if I do, it’s still hardwired to the main frame. The fire department will be here any moment.” She held a rusted fire extinguisher, pointed it at the machine engulfed in flame, and attempted to spray it. Nothing happened.
Natalie peered at the ceiling, noticing the smoke twist around the metal prongs of the sprinklers, sprinklers that weren’t turning on. “We must gather the data and leave immediately,” Dr. Thorn shouted over the noise.
The room began to fill with thick smoke, the machine spitting fire throughout the room, causing Natalie to yank her arms, desperate to release her wrists. “You can’t just leave me here!” she screamed.
Flames licked the ceiling, the heat rippling the air around her. Natalie tugged her arms harder, the restraints not budging. The other woman had already fled from the room but Dr. Thorn stood in the doorway, fingers clutching the crumpled EEG papers, watching the fire begin to consume the room. “I’ve gotten what I need and you’re no longer necessary in the equation, dear.” She disappeared through the doorway.
The heat of the fire encompassed Natalie, beads of sweat prickling her skin and running down her forehead. The flames inched closer, devouring the machine and crawling toward the bedding of the stretcher.
Natalie shouted when tendrils of heat licked her arm closest to the fire, the temperature melting the fabric of her restraints, freeing her right arm. Teeth clenching down on her bottom lip to keep her focus off her burnt arm, Natalie worked the other band from her left arm and then she jumped off of the quickly igniting sheets of the stretcher, her knees buckling when her bare feet hit the tile. She forced herself upright, wobbling to the door, ripping off the IV from her arm as she made it into the hallway, palms slapping the walls as she struggled to maintain her footing.
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