Repeated Lives Book II: Talia's Return (Excerpt)
Talia Silverwoods looked down at her textbook and started to tap on it with her fingers. She looked sideways at Michael who was completely engrossed in his notebook. Tomorrow was her midterm exam and here she was sitting in a car on the lookout for one of her ‘customers’. She was getting a little tired of trying to maintain the balance of the world. If she wasn’t out doing destiny’s bidding every day, maybe she could get a B grade once in a while.
She sighed out loud and Michael looked towards her with a frown on his face. “Why aren’t you studying?”
Talia leaned her head back and rubbed her eyes. “I’m working remember?”Her hand touched the amulet, distractedly. She had accidentally chipped it a week before while she was playing badminton with Michael and she had worried that her Aunt would scold her for being so careless. So, she had decided not to tell her. And what possible harm could that do, anyway? Stanley was safely locked away in an asylum.
Michael closed his notebook and looked out the windshield. “Still don’t see him.”
Talia closed her eyes. She hated her job and if Aunt Rosalind knew this she would be reprimanded, but right then she would do anything just to have a normal life. She had been assigned the role of a teacher when she had stripped off Stanley’s powers, but she had been reassigned to her role as the helper of Destiny when her student had made a serious blunder during work. No one was ever supposed to showcase their powers in front of anyone, and poor Shane had done just that. Apparently subtlety hadn’t been his ‘thing’ as he had explained and then turned up the volume of the music.
She opened her eyes as she heard two high school girls giggling loudly and licking ice cream cones. Talia frowned and turned to look at Michael who was staring wistfully at them.
“Hey!” she cried and slapped his wrist.
“What? I was just wondering...we should get ice creams. It’s too hot in here.”
Talia raised her eyebrows. “Already bored of me huh? What happened to ‘we’re meant to be together’?”
“We are!”Michael said.
Talia crossed her arms and shook her head at him. “I hate this!”
“I was just looking out and they happened to be there.” He explained.
“Not that.”Talia said. “I’m starting to really,” Talia rubbed her forehead, “loathe what I do. “
“Have you been getting headaches?” Michael asked and put an arm on her shoulder. Talia leaned on him and took a deep breath.
“Sometimes.” she said. “Maybe the stress of this is getting to me. I’ve been getting these weird dreams.”
Michael drew her closer and started to massage her temples.
“That feels nice.” she murmured as the pain started to subside almost immediately. “You really are my helper.”
Michael chortled. “That I am. Are you sure your Aunt is okay with me knowing this stuff.”
“Not really.”Talia said. “But I can’t lie to you.”
Michael drew in a sharp breath. “So do you know who your new protector is?”
“I’m not supposed to know apparently.”Talia said. “Something about my mind being read. After what Stanley did to me...”
“It’s okay. I can take it.” Michael said. “You don’t have to side step every time you talk about him.”
Talia shrugged and sat up straight. “Oh, hey! There he is.” she pointed at a thirty year old man coming out the bank. He was tall and good looking and through her powers she had known what kind of life he led.
“So what’s he like?”Michael asked.
“Thirty years old, has a wife, just had a baby girl and got a huge bonus for sealing a deal.”Talia said.
“And what’s the game plan?”
Talia tapped her fingers on the door handle. “He just had a baby for heaven’s sake!”
“You don’t have to break his bones or anything.”Michael said.
“No, I just have to do something that would create a lasting dent in his otherwise perfect life. Someone else screws up and I have to be the cleaner.”
“What you do is important.”Michael explained and Talia frowned at him. She really did love Michael, but there were some days she wished he wouldn’t be so matter- of- fact. Why wouldn’t he just agree with her already? From what Aunt Rosalind had said, Michael had pretty much done her bidding in her previous life.
Talia bit her lip hard. What was she thinking? She loved Michael and whether she liked this or not, he was telling her what was right.
“I just wish it wasn’t today. Not so soon.”Talia said. “Maybe when his daughter is a teenager or something.”
“Then he probably wouldn’t want any help at all. His life would already be a ...”he trailed of as he saw her face and grinned at her.
Talia pulled on the handle and got out. “Come with?”
Michael pointed at his textbook and Talia sighed. She closed the door behind her and started to walk towards the man. What should she do today? A parking ticket won’t do much, neither would breaking his car. What were her options? A sharp pain pierced through her and she gasped. Just as suddenly, the pain subsided leaving her feel disoriented. What was that?
Maybe she had been using her powers too much. Last week she had caused a woman’s new car to enter a ditch. Not only did her car get scratched from the barbed wire near the ditch, but the glass pieces in them had punctured three of her tyres.
“Great times.”Talia said to herself. The poor woman had cried and Talia had walked away guiltily, knowing that what she had done was required of her, but couldn’t Destiny replace her heart with stone?
Her powers were growing stronger by the day. She had only to think of an obstacle and the obstacle would appear that very second.
She turned her thoughts back to the man who was now walking towards his car while talking on his cell phone. Probably his wife telling him to get some groceries or something for the baby. Talia stood across the road from him and realised that she didn’t have a plan yet. She would have to think fast and it had to be right now.
Maybe she could start off with letting his expensive cell phone slip from his hands and into the gutter. And then when he bent down, she could...
Just then the man clutched at his chest. The cell phone slipped and fell into the gutter just like she had imagined. But that had been it. The man started to gasp and his face started to redden.
“Oh my God! He’s having a heart attack!”someone yelled, but Talia’s eyes were fixated on the man. What was happening? This wasn’t supposed to happen. “Someone call an ambulance!”
The man collapsed on the pavement and started to sweat profusely. Talia crossed the road and ran towards him. “Call for help!”she screamed.
She knelt beside the man and wished she had known CPR. Why hadn’t she paid attention in school when she was being taught?
In the distance the ambulance arrived, but Talia knew that it was already too late. The man lay motionless and everyone around him, started to step back and make room for the medics.
“Luckily we were in the area.” she heard one of the medics say. Talia got up as the medics moved in and covered her mouth from screaming. She hadn’t done this, had she?
“He’s dead.” one of the medics said.
Talia turned around and ran across the road, almost getting hit by a car. She saw Michael getting out of the car with a confused look on his face.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“He’s dead!”Talia said and started to cry. “He wasn’t supposed to die! If he was, I would have never been told to go to him!”
Michael took her in his arms and she sobbed loudly. “I couldn’t help him!”
“You couldn’t have.”Michael said soothingly and stroked her back.
“If I hadn’t repeated my life I would have still been the good one and made sure the medic was right there.”
“The medic was in the area.”Michael said. “I saw them coming. There wasn’t any traffic.”
Talia looked up at him. “Then how did he die so quickly?”
Michael looked towards the dispersing crowd and frowned. “This doesn’t make sense.”
A thought suddenly occurred to her and Talia pushed herself away. “I think I did it!”she said. “I think I made it happen!”
On the way to Aunt Rosalind’s house, Talia wished Michael would say something to calm her nerves. He looked deep in thought and avoided looking at her. His gaze was fixated on the road and Talia held back a sob.
After she had stripped him of his powers three years back, Michael had started to forget who he was and although she had been relieved at first, she had missed sharing this part of her life with him. This was who she was now and Michael had to accept all of her.
He had taken it pretty well, especially after she had told him about what she had done to him. He was there when she needed him, even taking her at odd times in the day to do her work. But now his silence felt almost like a betrayal. Michael knew her powers were getting stronger, but she wished he had told her it was not her fault, rather than say nothing at all.
It was only when they reached at Aunt Rosalind’s that he spoke. “Do you really want to tell her?”
Talia took a deep breath and nodded. “I need her guidance.” she said, but what she really needed was for Aunt Rosalind to tell her that she hadn’t killed a man today.
She got out of the car and closed the door behind her. She pulled her jacket closer to her and hoped that her Aunt was home. She should have called first of course but somehow her senses told her that Aunt Rosalind was at home.
She knocked on the door and was relieved when her Aunt appeared at the doorway.
“Talia!”she cried. “How nice to see you. I was just about to call you!”
Her Aunt was dressed in an elegant silk blouse and a pearl skirt and Talia groaned. That meant that Aunt Rosalind had company. Her Aunt usually dressed in casual jeans and a sweater and her hair was always tied up in a pony tail. But today, she had let down her hair in ringlets. After her divorce, her Aunt had lost custody of her daughter Mila, and her enthusiasm for life. The only way Talia could help her Aunt out her depression was getting her interested in fashion and clothes, and ever since then, her Aunt was an avid viewer of all modelling shows.
Talia hugged her Aunt and winced as she heard voices from her living room. “Are you busy? I could come by later.”
Her Aunt smirked at her. “It’s your mother.”Didn’t you recognise her voice?”
Talia felt her heart sink as she heard another voice. It belonged to her mother’s boyfriend Sam. She had avoided meeting him, making excuses about her studies, but today she was trapped. Talia smiled inwardly. Considering what her job was, she thought at least she wouldn’t have to face the burden of having a bad day. But here she was having the worst day of her life. Where was her counterpart when she needed him or her? Wasn’t it their job to ensure she had a nice day every now and then?
“Talia!”her mother said, appearing beside her Aunt. “How nice to see you.”
“Mom, hi.” She said awkwardly and hugged her.
“Ms. Silverwoods.”Michael said coming from behind Talia.
“Michael, how nice to see you.” Her mother said and gave him a brief hug. Talia walked in and prepared herself to meet Sam.
“Sam’s in the kitchen. He’s making lunch.” Her mother said and led her to the kitchen.
She saw a tall man with sandy hair and dark eyes stirring something in a pot.
“Sam.” her mother called and the man immediately looked up. His sharp features melted into a smile and Talia felt she could understand why her mother had fallen for him. He looked the complete opposite of what she had imagined when he smiled and although she had felt she would feel some sort of awkwardness at meeting him, she couldn’t help but smile back as he shook her hand.
“This is my fiancé, Michael.” she introduced and Michael offered his hand.
She turned towards her mother who was looking at her expectantly and she smiled back at her.
“I hope you like spaghetti.” he said as he walked back to the stove.
“Sure.” she said and took off her jacket.
“Sam’s a great cook.” her mother said as Talia took a chair. “He’s opening his own Italian Restaurant next week.”
“Ours” Sam corrected and sprinkled salt into the tomato sauce.
Talia turned to look at her mother. “I’m one of the partners.” She said.
Talia looked down at her hands. Sam didn’t really look like the kind of guy who would exploit people, but her mother should be more careful.
“We were going to invite you for dinner.”Aunt Rosalind said, taking a seat at the kitchen table. “Sam wanted to meet you for so long and said he would cook lunch and dinner for us.”
“Were you in the area?” her mother asked and sipped some water from her glass.
Talia looked at Michael who leaned against one of the kitchen counters and looked at her. Why was he still so quiet?
“I...was just shopping here. Couldn’t find what I was looking for.” Talia said and looked at her Aunt. She hoped her Aunt would understand how much she desperately needed to talk to her.
When her Aunt started to chat with her Mom about the new handbag she had seen in the store the other day, Talia sighed.
“Aunt Rosalind.” she said, interrupting their conversation. “You said you had the sweater I wanted to borrow. It’s in your room right? Could you show me?”
Her mother looked puzzled and Talia realised she couldn’t have been any more subtle. The guilt inside of her seemed to be building.
“Of course, come right with me.”Aunt Rosalind said getting up from her chair.
Talia felt her chest feel lighter. It would feel so good to finally talk to someone about her secret life and put her mind at ease.
She quickly followed her upstairs into her room, and once there, closed the door behind her.
“What’s wrong?” her Aunt asked sitting on her bed. “You look really anxious about something. If it’s about Sam...”
“It’s about my job.” she said and sat down on the bed beside her Aunt. “Something went wrong today.”
“Well, this usually does happen. “Her Aunt explained. “You are expected to do your best everyday and complete your assignment on that very day, but you are given a leeway. You can complete it tomorrow.”
Talia felt a tear roll down her cheek and she wiped it off with her sleeve. “He’s dead!” she said.
“What?” her Aunt asked and Talia told her everything. Her Aunt listened to her patiently as she related the events of her day and when she was finished telling her, waited for her Aunt to say something comforting.
“I was afraid this would happen.” she said and got up. “Your powers are getting stronger.”
“But I didn’t do this!”Talia cried.
Her Aunt walked towards her desk and opened a drawer. She took out an old newspaper and brought it to her.
Talia took the newspaper and unfolded it. “What am I supposed to be looking at?”
Her Aunt tapped an article on the bottom, with her finger and then let out a sigh.
Talia read and at first couldn’t comprehend the contents of the article. It was about a patient from the mental asylum who had died due to bizarre circumstances. It was only when the name of the patient was revealed that Talia felt her jaw drop.
“Stanley!” she asked.
Her Aunt nodded and took the newspaper from her. “It happened last week.”
“He died?”Talia asked, unable to believe it had actually happened. Her nemesis had passed away and she could feel nothing but a strange calm descend over her. Stanley had tried to murder her and if it hadn’t been for Aunt Rosalind’s spell and amulet, she would have died and never repeated her life.”But then why was Aunt Rosalind showing her this?
“Stanley was found in his bed dead.”Aunt Rosalind said. “Through my sources, I learnt that Stanley looked as if he had his soul sucked out.”
“What are you implying?”Talia said and choked on a sob. “You think I’m doing this?”
“Your powers are getting out of control.” her Aunt said. “You have twice the powers than you should have had and it was all because you had a repeated life.”
“It’s not my fault.” Talia interjected. “Besides, my life was nothing like it was before. If I was really become that powerful then I would have been able to restore al lot of things from my previous life. I used to have so much fun then. Now it’s like I’m stuck in a rut!”
Aunt Rosalind put her hand on Talia’s shoulder. “This is what I’m talking about. You shouldn’t be able to remember anything about your previous life, but lately, you’re starting to remember every single detail.”
Talia rubbed her temples and shook her head. “I’m not killing people with my mind, if that’s what you’re inferring.”
“The man you were supposed to work on died and so did Stanley.”
Talia started to cry. Why did no one believe her? “It wasn’t me!” she said and burst out crying.
“Then who’s doing this?”Her Aunt asked.
“I don’t know.”Talia said. “I know it’s not me. But Talia felt she couldn’t even convince herself. What if it really was her?
Talia walked back downstairs and saw Michael chatting affably with her mother. She was so glad that her mother approved of him for her. She couldn’t imagine what she would do, if her mother hadn’t approved of him. Sam was serving his spaghetti while her Aunt offered to help him. Talia stood in a corner and realised that her appetite had vanished. She desperately wanted to know what was going on and even more so for someone to show a little faith in her and tell her that she wasn’t killing people with her powers.
Talia started to chew on the inside of her cheek. She had been having nightmares for the past week along with her headaches. In one of her dreams, she had seen Stanley. But that was all she could remember when she had woken up. Was it possible that she had become so powerful that she had killed Stanley just by dreaming about him?
As they sat down for lunch, Talia kept forking her spaghetti without actually putting it in her mouth.
“It’s not that bad.”Sam remarked and Talia gave him a weak smile.
“Oh, I’m just tired.” Talia lied. “I have an exam tomorrow.”
“Maybe you should get some rest.”Michael said. “Why don’t you stay with your Aunt tonight? I could come pick you up tomorrow.”
Talia took a sip of water and tried to hide how disappointed she was with his suggestion. What she really needed now was Michael’s support and he was finding excuses to distance himself from her.
“That’s a great idea.”Aunt Rosalind said. “We haven’t had a gossip fest in quite a while now.”
“I’m jealous.” Anne said. “I haven’t been invited to this exclusive club.”
“Your membership was declined on the basis of having too little time to attend the club’s activities.”Aunt Rosalind said and Talia noticed how her Aunt’s smile didn’t reach her eyes. Her Aunt was worried to and she was glad of this unspoken support.
Her mother grinned and the conversation moved on to other topics.
“Call me, okay.”Talia said as Michael walked to his car.
“Sure.” he said quietly and opened the car door. He sat down and Talia noticed how he still avoided looking at her. She wanted to talk to him but realised she was too tired to try to convince him. She had an exam to study for tomorrow. She walked back and waved at her Mother and Sam as they drove off.
She stared as Michael too drove off without even looking out the window towards her. What’s his hurry? Talia walked back inside and found her Aunt clearing the table.
“Do you want a snack?”She asked.
“No, I’m going up to study.”Talia said and walked towards the stairs. Her head still felt heavy and she wondered of her Aunt had any aspirin. She really needed to study for her exam. She covered her mouth to stifle a yawn and walked towards the guest room. She was glad she had kept some extra clothes in the guest room cupboard. She couldn’t wait to get out of her clothes that reminded her of the day’s events.
She opened the door and felt her mouth drop open. “Oh no.” she said.
Buy the ebook here: Repeated Lives Book II: Talia's Return
Buy the ebook here: Repeated Lives Book II: Talia's Return