7% and Rising by Kim Knox
Genre: Romantic SciFi-Futuristic
He used her. She can’t trust him. But the fire burns between them hotter than ever.
For Level Seven Observer Cahn Dal, her mission is simple—on the surface. Travel 700 years into the past, alter a complicated equation that will assure the continuation of this timeline, and slip out unnoticed. Except someone else got there first, and he’s waiting for her. Alexander Roen. The man she has loved since she was a teenager, and, to her disgust, finds she still desires as hot and as hard as ever.
Roen, former Level One Observer, known traitor to the Foundation, and hampered by an old injury, needs Cahn’s help to find out who’s behind a massive conspiracy to alter the timeline. His body isn’t too broken, though, to forget his long-denied passion for Cahn.
Cahn reluctantly agrees to help find the one piece of evidence that will solve Roen’s puzzle. But when she finds it, barely escaping with her life, they find it isn’t the end.
It’s just the beginning of a deeper nightmare, one filled with monsters of unimaginable horror.
(c) 2007 Kim Knox
Cahn squinted against the hot wash of light. Her hand tightened around the Staff and she caught herself from slipping on the smooth marble steps. A few even breaths let the euphoric rush ease from her body.
She stared up at the clean marble columns and her breath caught at the sight of the painted panels high above her…but the one of Orestes? “I’m outside. You’re worse than—”
“Thirty-second century signature: two Observers detected.”
Cahn stared at the Staff. Heat ran through her and she held back the urge to panic and run. “Others are here? Where?”
“Two hundred— Correction. One hundred and— Correction—”
“Me? Are they heading towards me?”
“Possibility: 88% and rising.”
“Then get me out of here!” No rush of air. No swirling cold. Nothing. “What are you waiting for?”
“Something is suppressing my function. It is increasing the closer—”
Cahn was already running. Great. She was on a plateau. She couldn’t outrun them. “Yet another stupid idea of mine,” she muttered, skidding out of the path of a loaded cart. She risked a glance behind her. There was something there. Invisible…but she could sense the time anomaly surrounding them.
“Are you clear yet?”
“No,” rapped the Staff. “I will transport us the second…”
Cahn stopped listening and concentrated on not catching her feet on the cleared ground. Her chest burned and sweat coated her skin. “Should be used to this,” she rasped. “Damn you, Roen.”
Pounding over flat rock with her eyes on the workers, she realised that she was heading west and that the ramp down into the city was the other way. Something blurred in the air.
“I know!” That exit was blocked. “Shit.”
Her lungs ached, her mouth dry with dust. The muscles in her legs burned, but still she ran on. Skirting the edge of the site that would be the Proplaea. If they caught her, she was dead. No one defied the Foundation and lived. Everyone who had helped Roen had proven that. Almost at the outcrop of rock on which the temple to Athena Nike would stand. Damn it, she was running out of ground and she could still feel the itch of her pursuers.
“Damn you, Roen!”
Cahn accelerated. She was tortured, dead. Dead if they caught her. Not thinking. Her feet pounded. The Staff roared, but she ignored it. Definitely not thinking.
The endless blue of the Attic sky shone above her. The gleam of marble caught in the fresh sunlight. There was only the promise of the hard, rocky earth far, far below.
Falling. Falling. Air rushed from her lungs. Her heart screamed—
And she crashed into the thick softness of a rug.
“What do you think you’re doing!”
Roen’s voice cut into her. But Cahn didn’t care. Her fingers curled into a deep weave, felt the rug against her spine. She was alive. Cahn let out a slow breath. “Someone knows you’re here, Roen.” She opened her eyes and found the man glaring down at her. “I just ran off the Acropolis to escape them.”
“They could jam the Staff,” she said, realising then that her hand still had a death grip on it. It seethed fury. “I had to risk getting far enough away.”
“You are insane!” the device finally spluttered. “If I had not managed to break free, I would have been splintered into tiny fragments.”
Cahn sat up. “Personality improvement: 100%.”
Roen scrubbed at his face. “I wanted you to have more experience with the Staff, but this changes everything. You head to the Citadel now. The Staff has the coordinates.”
Cahn stared at him. “Weren’t you listening? I just jumped off the Acropolis. My heart’s still lodged somewhere behind my left ear.”
Roen pulled her up, smacking some of the dust from her shoulders. “They’re closing in. You don’t go now and you’re dead. For real.” His mouth twisted into a sharp smile. “And if they tracked you to the Acropolis, then you’ve already made the trip.”
“Effect precedes cause. I hate time, I really do,” Cahn grated. She straightened. “And if we set this right, I plan to kill you.”
“If we set this right, we might never meet.”
“I can only hope.” Cahn forced back the rush of fear. She met Roen’s gaze, finding the familiar hard darkness. “Ready.”
“You have one hour. The Haze will fail after that.”
She stared at the hand that slid onto her shoulder, watched the fingers tighten briefly. Cahn shrugged off his touch. She’d had enough of his falseness. “Understood.”
A back step separated her farther from him and she held the Staff out. Trails of cool mist spun out, wrapping around her legs, winding, spiraling around her body. With one deep breath and a burst of light, she was gone.