Empowered, by Darlene Jones
The power of Jasmine’s childhood visions convince her that she will find her perfect soulmate. Jasmine pursues Victor relentlessly, believing he is “the one.” But, the visions promise much more than a lover. They portend danger and a threat to Jasmine’s perfect life. She will wrestle with unknown forces that drive her, and with the knowledge that she has lived before. Who was she in that other life? Why is she so sure she is invincible? Where will her beliefs lead?
And Yves? He is the celestial being assigned to watch over her, and to provide the people to protect her. He must experience again the agony of losing the woman he loves to another as Jasmine and her soulmate fulfill their destiny. Will Yves jeopardize his rise in power by going to her on Earth? Will he give up his love? Or, …?
“I’ll get it.” Jaz heard someone call out when she knocked. A young man opened the door and emitted a loud appreciative wolf whistle. Within seconds four more men clustered behind him.
“You’s one mighty fine piece of woman,” one of them said, as he looked her up and down. “Mighty fine. I’m Cliff. Marry me.”
“I swear I’s died and gone to heaven. Honey chile’, you get lonely, you just call Papa Mitch,” another offered. He held his hands over his heart, rolled his eyes heavenward, and heaved a doleful sigh.
“Girl, ignore these ugly ol’ buzzards. They ain’t nothing. Joe’s de one for you.” The young man had muscled his way back in front of the others and spread his arms in a welcome embrace.
“You’s one fine ho, Miss Wade,” the squat old black man said. She wasn’t surprised when people recognized her, and she wasn’t now either, but she was taken aback at the weighty tone underlying this man’s banter.
She couldn’t be sure, but she thought there was a hint of thankfulness in his eyes and wondered how that was possible. Imagination’s getting away on me. Must be more nervous about seeing Victor than I thought.
“What’re you doin’ here?” the man asked. The question was rude and yet, in some indefinable way, it wasn’t. Despite the challenge in his tone, she was not afraid of him, nor did she feel he was truly hostile. A puzzle here that would take some sorting out.
“Please tell me you don’t really talk like this,” she said, glancing from one to another.
The young whistler grinned at her. “Naw.”
“Thank God. I’d hate to think the movies were right.”
“Just when we’re trying to pick up beautiful women,” Mitch said, and leered at her with a wolfish grin, batting his eyes.
A fifth man stood back, eyebrows drawn together in a frown as he watched it all. He was the only one who hadn’t joined the others in the banter. Jasmine couldn’t decide if his antipathy was personal or if he just didn’t like strangers in general. A bit of both maybe.
“Sorry guys. I’m here to see Victor Samson.” She didn’t dare glance at the old black man. He’d probably be scowling in disapproval, and nothing was going to stop her, not even this tough ex-con.
“Aw, what you want with an old guy like him when you got us to choose from?” The youth who’d opened the door looked crestfallen and eyed her with a hangdog expression, while the others grinned, obviously enjoying his theatrics.
He was small, shorter than her, even without her heels. His long black hair was tied back with a leather thong. He was Indian or part-Indian, eighteen at most, with a deceptively mild appearance about him despite the hard muscled body, but there was danger in his almost black eyes, if you looked closely. As Jaz scrutinized him, he stared back belligerently, undoubtedly waiting to see her flinch or show fear. He’d wait in vain she decided and held his gaze.
“How old are you?” she asked.
“Almost seventeen,” he replied as if he appreciated the direct question. “Name’s Joe. I’m the experiment in preventative medicine.” He shook her hand. His expression was solemn, but the look in his eyes had softened.
“I’m Mitch,” the next in line said as he too shook her hand. He was thirty-something, Jaz guessed, with pale skin, an ample belly, and a huge smile. He could easily be considered harmless at first glance, but the pale, flat eyes belied that idea.
Cliff and the morose man he introduced as Alex were twins in height, weight, and looks, both balding, both regular average citizens—nothing notable to make them stand out in a crowd. Their innocuous appearance would be a great cover for thieves and Jaz wondered if she was right about their crimes.
The oldest, the black man, was last. Jaz had seen the signs of deference the others paid him. He looked tough. Was tough, she decided. A solid, barrel-chested man, close to seventy, face marred with more than one scar, likely more scars hidden under the clothes, nothing hidden about the air of menace. Battle-scarred and bone weary, she concluded.
Jail was a horrible stinking hellhole. She’d learned and seen enough in their research to know that. That any prisoners survived at all was a miracle, that they survived soul intact, even more astonishing. And one thing this man had was soul. It shone through and no amount of bluff or bluster could hide it. He glared at her as she studied him and she saw the look of surprise he couldn’t quite conceal when she smiled at him.
“Girl, you decided yet which one of us you want.” His voice was low and she didn’t miss the challenge that was still there under the teasing words. If I can figure him out, prove myself to him, the others will follow. It will take time, but they’ll follow. She took a deep breath. Here goes.
“Is Mr. Samson here?”
“Damn! You got no taste, woman.” He shook her hand. “Name’s Ike.”
“Hey, Vic,” Joe hollered.
“What?” Vic asked as he came out of his office his hands full of papers and a calculator.
“Someone here to see you.” Joe grinned and winked at Jaz.
“Don’t mind him. He’s always in a bad mood when he does the books,” Mitch said.
“I’m never grouchy,” Cliff crooned looking so mournful that Jasmine was sure he rarely, if ever, smiled.
“Who wants…?” Vic stopped mid-sentence and stared when he saw Jasmine. She was wearing one of her business suits and it took him a while to tear his eyes away from her legs. When he finally looked up, he had an equally hard time tearing his eyes away from hers. He felt a warmth rising in him that had nothing to do with the heat wave the city was experiencing. Christ, I’ve been celibate too long.
“Jesus Christ, Wade! What the hell are you doing here?”
“Hey, Vic, go easy,” Ike said, a hand on his arm.
Vic looked at Ike and the others standing behind Jasmine. He would have laughed at their expressions of dismay if he hadn’t been so rattled. He looked back at Jasmine and stormed at her again. “What do you think you’re doing? Why don’t you just stand out there,” he made a wide sweeping gesture to the street, “with a huge sign saying, ‘I’m here. Rob me, rape me, whatever’?”
“Vic! She’s a guest,” Ike scolded.
He looked out the door expecting to see a Lincoln town car at the very least or more likely, a huge white limo. What he saw confused him; a nondescript dark gray sedan with a few dents and in need of a paint job double-parked on the street in front of his door.
A short, stocky, dark-complexioned man, maybe eastern-European, stood near the driver’s door, talking on a cell phone. He closed the phone, put it in his pocket, and exchanged it for a pair of nail clippers. He worked on his manicure as he tapped his foot to the beat of the Latin music playing from the car stereo. Another man, older, taller, and much thinner, leaned on the trunk of the car reading a newspaper. Both men wore dark dress pants and vests over short-sleeved, tight T-shirts, ordinary men, no bulging muscles, no evidence of guns. Neither looked up or acknowledged the people in the doorway, but Victor was sure they knew they were being watched. No doubt both bodyguards were expert marksmen, skilled in martial arts, and alert to every nuance of street activity.
And the car? Perfectly tuned with a powerful engine, would be his guess and he knew he’d be right.
Victor grabbed Jasmine’s arm and dragged her to his office. “Don’t you guys all have something to do?” he said over his shoulder, but none of the men moved. He saw Jasmine look back at them and wink.
“You tell her, Vic,” one of the guys hollered just as he slammed the door.
“Woman, what were you thinking when you came here? It’s not safe and you stand out like a sore thumb.” Victor glared at her. “Please, tell me you’re not that dumb.”
“Belize, I think.”
“Belize for our honeymoon.”
“Honeymoon!” He heard the guys hooting on the other side of the door and imagined a whole lot of high-fives taking place out there.
“Yes, good snorkeling. We’ll have to have a society wedding of course. But we can keep it small and limit the photographers.”
“You’re totally nuts.” Victor shook his head in disbelief.
“We’ll make beautiful babies,” she cooed smiling up at him.
“Babies? Babies!” Victor screeched. “Get this straight. We. Are. Not. Getting. Married. We. Are. Not. Making. Babies.” What did it take to make her understand?
“We are,” she said in a matter of fact way that enraged him even more. “We have to.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Victor, I love you. I can feel you in every atom of my body. My bones feel like jelly when I’m with you. Can’t you—?”
“You don’t even know me,” he yelled as he yanked the door open. The guys scrambled out of the way. With one hand on Jasmine’s arm and the other on the small of her back, he propelled her out the door to the waiting men. Jasmine stopped abruptly and Victor’s forward momentum caused him to press against her. He jerked back as if scalded. Jasmine turned to the audience in the doorway and mouthed, “I’ll be back.” Five thumbs turned up.
“No, you won’t!” Vic deposited her with her bodyguards and stomped back to his office. “Jesus H. Christ! Miss Jasmine Wade Berdin you are one hundred percent certifiably insane,” he said to no one in particular as he sagged heavily into his chair. His bones felt like jelly.
About the Author
A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart wrenching poverty. My experiences there led to the writing of this story. Some aspects of EMBATTLED reflect my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place—if only wishes could come true. Every novel needs its love story so I added the requisite romance.
Initially, I intended to write “a” novel. The story and characters took over and the ending of EMBATTLED demanded another. EMPOWERED is that “other.” I’ve always believed we can’t be the only beings existing in the vastness of the universe, There must be others “out there somewhere” and I’d like to believe they’re not all that different from us. Those beliefs are reflected in my writing. My novels stay, for the most part, within the realities of our world, but I’ve found that I love the magic the sci-fi element of other beings could bring to a story.
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