Marissa O'Neill and Jurden Bailey share a past they don't remember, though it's haunted their dreams for a decade. In their teens, they encountered something powerful in a cave in Mexico, and it changed them forever. But it isn't until they meet again, years later, that they realize just how much they've changed.
Suddenly they have powers -- super powers -- and they don't know how they're supposed to use them or why they have them. All they know is that sex seems to trigger the power and enhance it. And that's one trigger they're happy to explore.
But something alien and terrifying is trying to kill them, and it won't give up until it gets what they don't even know they have -- the single remaining object that can tie an advanced, alien race to much of Earth's history.
If only Rissa weren't so distracted by the things Jurden's vibrating finger can do!
Riding the Pulse
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Copyright ©2011 Sam Cheever
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Marissa O'Neill sliced through the clear, aqua water, her gaze scanning the rich panorama unfolding beneath her. The colors of the coral and the brightly hued schools of fish were breathtaking, made even more vibrant by the illuminating rays of a slowly dropping sun.
A dark gray shadow fell over the pastel beauty of the coral reef, and she glanced ahead to see a stingray gliding calmly past. She just barely resisted the urge to reach out and touch its silky wings. The sand beneath its belly shifted from muted shadows to vibrant bursts of sparkling light as he moved on, allowing the sun's rays to find the stark white sand of the ocean floor again.
She smiled, feeling more at home in the clear, warm water than she had at any time before in her young life.
Cognizant of the need to stay close to the shoreline, she lifted her head out of the water to see where she was. That was when she saw the wide, gray arc of a cave in the near distance. Glancing toward the white sand beach, Marissa spied her friend Wendi lying in the sun, a damp towel draped over her face. Wendi didn't like water and fish. She preferred hot sand and oversexed boys bearing fruity drinks and bad pick up lines.
Figuring she had a little more time before her friend started looking for her, Marissa gave in to her fascination for caves and hidey holes and took off toward the partially submerged opening in the distance.
* * *
Jurden Bailey stood before the wall of the cave, his fingers stretched out to trace the strange figures etched into its surface. He'd never seen anything like them before, and, as an art history major, he'd spent a lot of time examining ancient art. The figures were more complex than drawings by cavemen from the Stone Age, and slightly less detailed than those from the Egyptian tombs. But it wasn't the shape and style of the pictures that fascinated him most -- it was the objects they portrayed. The multi-limbed figures and saucer-like objects looked like something an ancient, alien race might have carved.
He moved down the wall, his fingers tracing the carvings lovingly. Excitement throbbed in his chest, the sure knowledge that he'd discovered something important on the walls of that hidden cave making his hands shake a little. He wished there was a way he could take the find back to school with him. As he moved, the waterproof camera he'd brought to photograph the underwater bounty in the warm, shallow waters slid against his still-damp chest. It occurred to him that, if he couldn't take the actual etchings back, he could at least take pictures of them, and show the pictures to his professor at Indiana University.
A splashing sound near the mouth of the cave caused him to turn his head in surprise. A goddess rose from the water, her lithe form glistening in the dying light as water slid down her torso and legs to the shallow water at her feet. She reached up and pulled off the snorkel and mask she'd been wearing, holding them down at her side as she looked around.
Jurden took a step backward, cloaking himself in shadow so he could watch her for a moment unobserved. She shook her head and thick curls of blue-black hair sprang loose. Reaching up, she fluffed it briefly, her long fingers performing the action with an efficiency that told him she did it often, probably without even thinking.
She stepped out of the water onto dry white sand and stood there, looking around with pure awe on her pretty face. "Holy crap!"
Jurden knew how she felt.
She moved deeper into the cave, her gaze sliding unerringly toward the wall of etchings. A sudden protectiveness overwhelmed him. He'd found the markings on the wall, and he wasn't sure he wanted anyone else to see them.
He stepped out of the shadows. "Hello."
She jumped and her hand flew to her mouth. "Oh!" She frowned. "You scared the shit out of me!"
Her golden-brown eyes were almond shaped and tipped up a tiny bit on the outside corners. Her long, midnight-colored eyelashes spiked charmingly with moisture. She had beautiful cheekbones, high and finely sculpted, and her mouth was a curvy pout above a small chin. He smiled in apology. "Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
She tried to look into the shadows behind him. "What were you doing back there, anyway?"
He shrugged. "Just exploring." He stepped closer, extending his hand. "My name's Jurden Bailey."
After a moment's hesitation, she finally extended her hand. "Marissa O'Neill. My friends call me Rissa."
His smile seemed genuine. His mouth was a little on the wide side, with full, well shaped lips that narrowed sexily in the corners, teeth a stark white against his deeply tanned skin. His hair was light brown and wavy, the ends curling just above his ears and at the nape of his neck. His eyes looked green in the dimming light, outlined by short, thick lashes. One sun-kissed strand of hair fell over his forehead, drifting into his eyes. He didn't seem to notice.
Rissa realized she was staring and bit her bottom lip with embarrassment. He was a real hottie. And from the way he cocked his head and stared back, she figured he was well aware of his charms. "So what are you doing in this cave?"
He grinned, and she was pretty sure her knees knocked together. "Probably the same thing you are. I was just curious. It's really kind of boring, though."
She looked around in awe. "It's definitely not boring, Jurden Bailey." She smiled back at him. "I've never been in a real cave before."
His grin faded, and he seemed to be considering something very carefully. Rissa could tell he was hesitant. Finally he offered his hand again. "Actually, you're right. There's nothing at all boring about this cave. Come with me, I want to show you something."
Rissa hesitated only a moment. She'd always prided herself on being a good judge of character. "Okay." She took his hand and let him pull her toward the back of the cave.
As they approached the wall she saw that it was covered in some kind of markings. She also started to notice a tingle in her chest, a kind of vibration.
She stopped, her eyes widening. "Did you feel that?"
He nodded. "I did. It's what made me come closer to the wall. To check it out. Look..." He pulled her a few steps closer, and the vague swirls and shapes started to take form until she was looking at some type of written message. A very odd looking message. Reaching out, she tentatively touched the rock's surface, and the tingle she'd barely felt from ten feet away zinged through her. She gave a little cry and jumped back.
Jurden narrowed his gaze. "Come on, it was just a tiny little shock." Rissa felt as if she'd been hit with significant voltage. "That was no tiny shock."
He laughed and reached toward the wall, his long fingers scraping across its surface. Actual sparks came off the wall with his touch. He jerked back. "Ouch! Holy crap! That has definitely gotten stronger since I first touched it."
"What do you think it is?"
"I don't know." Reaching for the strap around his neck, he removed the camera and started snapping pictures. "But I'm gonna find out. I have a professor back in Indiana who can probably tell me what we're looking at."
Rissa nodded and watched him shoot pictures for a minute, examining the strange etchings as he moved down the wall.
Something flashed in her peripheral vision and she turned her head. Farther down the wall, just beyond the water's edge, something glowed, turning the water an unnatural shade of blue-green. "Jurden, look. What's that?"
He took two more pictures before turning to see what she was looking at. When he did, he gasped. "That wasn't there before."
They walked slowly toward the glow. Without even realizing it, they both reached out and clasped hands. As they got nearer the source of the glow they heard a humming sound, like the sound of thousands of volts of electricity running through a power line.
"I'm sure that wasn't there before, either," Jurden said in a whisper.
Rissa tightened her grip on his hand and pulled, digging in her heels. "Maybe we shouldn't go any closer."
He looked at her, then back to the glowing section of water, and laughed. "It's probably just one of those glowing fish. Haven't you ever been on a cruise and seen them? They're really cool."
Rissa shook her head, looking dubious. But she finally let him pull her forward and soon they were crouching at the edge of the water, careful not to let it touch their toes.
"What is it?" Rissa asked in a strangely breathless voice. She realized her chest was constricted with fear, and she was having trouble breathing.
Instead of answering, Jurden reached toward the oddly shaped object beneath the water's surface. "It looks like a rock."
Rissa reached out and stopped him just before his fingers broke the surface of the water. "Don't touch it!"
"Why not? It looks cool."
"You don't know what it is... what it will do."
He shook his head, then leaned over and kissed her...