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Soulmate (Chapter 3)

I he sleek white limousine raced through the night like a dolphin underwater, carrying Thierry

Des-couedres away from the airport. It was taking him to hisLas Vegas mansion, white walls and palm

trees, limpid blue fountains and tiled terraces. Rooms full of artwork and museum-quality furniture.

Everything anyone could ask for.

He shut his eyes and leaned back against the crimson cushions, wishing he were somewhere else.

"How wasHawaii , sir?" The driver's voice came from the front seat.

Thierry opened his eyes. Nilsson was a good driver. He seemed to be about Thierry's own age, around

nineteen, with a neat ponytail, dark glasses despite the fact that it was nighttime, and a discreet

expression.

"Wet, Nilsson," Thierry said softly. He stared out the window. "Hawaiiwas very… wet."

"But you didn't find what you were looking for."

"No. I didn't find what I was looking for … again."

"I'm sorry, sir."

"Thank you, Nilsson." Thierry tried to look past his own reflection in the window. It was disturbing,

seeing that young man with the white-blond hair and the old, old eyes looking back at him. He had such a

pensive expression … so lost and so sad.

Like somebody always looking for something he can't find, Thierry thought.

He turned away from the window in determination.

"Everything been going all right while I've been gone?" he asked, picking up his cellular phone. Work.

Work always helped. Kept you busy, kept your mind off things, kept you away from yourself, basically.

"Fine, I think, sir. Mr. James and Miss Poppy are back."

"That's good. They'll make thenext Circle Daybreak meeting." Thierry's finger hovered over a button on

the phone, considering whom to call. Whose need might be the most urgent.

But before he could touch it, the phone buzzed.

Thierry pressed send and held it to his ear. "Thierry."

"Sir? It's me, Lupe. Can you hear me?" The voice was faint and broken by static, but distant as it was,

Thierry could hear that the caller sounded weak.

"Lupe? Are you all right?"

"I got in a fight, sir. I'm a little torn up." She gave a gasping chuckle. "But you should see the other wolf."

Thierry reached for a leather-bound address book and a goldMont Blanc pen. "That's not funny, Lupe.

You shouldn't be fighting."

"I know, sir, but-"

"You've really got to restrain yourself."

"Yes, sir, but-"

"Tell me where you are, and I'll have somebody pick you up. Get you to a doctor." Thierry made a

practice mark with the pen. No ink came out. He stared at the nib of it in mild disbelief. "You buy an

eight-hundred-dollar pen and then it doesn't write," he murmured.

"Sir, you're not listening to me. You don't understand. I've found her."

Thierry stopped trying to make the pen write. He stared at it, at his own long fingers holding the chunky,

textured gold barrel, knowing that this sight would be impressed on his memory as if burned in with a

torch.

"Did you hear me, sir? I've found her."

When his voice came out at last, it was strangely distant. "Are you sure?"

"Yes. Yes, sir, I'm sure. She's got the mark and everything. Her name is Hannah Snow."

Thierry reached over the front seat and grabbed the astonished Nilsson with a hand like iron. He said

very quietly in the driver's ear, "Do you have a pencil?"

"A pencil?"

"Something that writes, Nilsson. An instrument to make marks on paper. Do you have one? Quick,

because if I lose this connection, you're fired."

"I've got a pen, sir." One-handed, Nilsson fished in his pocket and produced a Bic.

"Your salary just doubled." Thierry took the pen and sat back. "Where are you, Lupe?"

"The Badlands of Montana, sir. Near a town called Medicine Rock. But there's something else, sir."

Lupe's voice seemed less steady all of a sudden. "The other wolf that fought me-he saw her, too. And he

got away."

Thierry's breath caught. "I see."

"I'm sorry." Lupe was suddenly talking quickly, in a burst of emotion. "Oh, Thierry, I'm sorry. I tried to

stop him. But he got away-and now I'm afraid he's off telling… her."

"You couldn't help it, Lupe. And I'll be there myself, soon. I'll be there to take care of-everything."

Thierry looked at the driver. "We've got to make some stops, Nilsson. First, the Harman store."

"The witch place?"

"Exactly. You can triple your salary if you get there fast."

When Hannah got to Paul Winfield's house the next afternoon, the sheriff was there. Chris Grady was an

honest-to-goodness Western sheriff, complete with boots, broad-brimmed hat, and vest. The only thing

missing, Hannah thought as she walked around to the back of the house where Paul was hammering

boards across the broken windows, was a horse.

"Hi, Chris," she said.

The sheriff nodded, sun-weathered skin crinkling at the corners of her eyes. She took off her hat and ran

a hand through shoulder-length auburn hair. "I see you found yourself a couple of giant timber wolves,

Hannah. You're not hurt, are you?"

Hannah shook her head no. She tried to summon

up a smile but failed. "I think they were maybe wolf-dogs or something. Pure-bred wolves aren't so

aggressive."

"That print wasn't made by any wolf-dog," Chris said. On the concrete flagstones outside the window

there was a paw print made in blood. It was similar to a dog's footprint, with four pads plus claw marks

showing. But it was more than six inches long by just over five inches wide.

"Judging from that, it's the biggest wolf ever heard of around here, bigger than the White Wolf of the

Judith." The sheriff's eyes drifted to the empty rectangles of the broken windows. "Big and mean. You

people be careful. Something's going on here that I don't like. I'll let you know if we catch your wolves."

She nodded to Paul, who was sucking his finger after banging it with the hammer. Then she set her hat

back on her head and strode off to her car.

Hannah stared at the paw print silently. Everyone else thought there was something going on. Everyone

but her.

Because there can't be, she thought. Because it has to all be in my head. It has to be something I can

figure out and fix quick… something I can control.

"Thanks for seeing me again so soon," she said to Paul.

"Oh…" He gestured, tucking the hammer under his arm. "It's no trouble. I want to get to the bottom of

what's upsetting you as much as you do. And," he admitted under his breath as he let them in the house,

"I don't actually have any other patients."

Hannah followed him down a hallway and into his office. It was dim inside, the boards across the

windows reducing the late afternoon sunlight to separate oddly-angled shafts.

She sat in the contoured chair. "The only thing is, how can we get to the bottom of it? I don't understand

what's upsetting me, either. It's all too strange. I mean, on the one hand, I'm clearly insane." She spoke

flatly as Paul took his seat on the opposite side of the desk. "I have crazy dreams, I think the world is

going to end, I have the feeling I'm being followed, and yesterday I started hearing voices in my head. On

the other hand, me being insane doesn't explain wolves jumping through the windows."

"Voices?" Paul murmured, looking around for a pencil. Then he gave up and faced her. "Yeah, I know. I

understand the temptation. Last night after having those wolves stare at me, I was about ready to believe

that there had to be something…" He trailed off and shook his head, lifting papers on his desk to glance

under them. "Something… really strange going on. But now it's daytime, and we're all rational people,

and we realize that we have to deal with things rationally. And, actually, you know, I think I may have

come up with a rational explanation." He found a pencil and with an expression of vast relief began to

waggle it between his fingers.

Hope stirred inside Hannah. "An explanation?"

"Yeah. I mean, first of all, it's possible that your premonitions and things are entirely unconnected with

the wolves. People never want to believe in coincidence, but it happens. But even if the two things are

connected-well, I don't think that means that anybody's after you. It could be that there's some sort of

disturbance in this area-something that's stirring up the whole ecosystem, making wolves crazy,

doing who knows what to other animals… and that you're somehow sensing this. You're attuned to it

somehow. Maybe it's earthquake weather or-or sunspots or negative ions in the air. But whatever it is,

it's causing you to think that some terrible disaster is coming. That the world is ending or that you're about

to be killed."

Hannah felt the hope sink inside her, and it was more painful than not having had it at all. "I suppose that

could happen," she said. She didn't want to hurt his feelings. "But how does it explain this?"

She reached into the canvas bag she carried instead of a purse and pulled out a folded slip of paper.

Paul took the paper and read it. " 'They've seen you. They're going to tell him. This is your last chance to

get away.' " He stuck the pencil in his mouth. "Hmmm …"

"I found it this morning wrapped around my toothbrush," Hannah said quietly. "And it's your

handwriting?" She shut her eyes and nodded. "And you don't remember writing it." "I didn't write it. I

know I didn't." She opened her eyes and took a deep breath. "The notes scare me. Everything that's

happening scares me. I don't understand any of it, and I don't see how I'm supposed to fix it if I don't

understand it."

Paul considered, chewing on the pencil gently. "Look-whatever's happening, whoever's writing the

notes, I think your subconscious mind is trying to tell you something. The dreams are evidence of that.

But it's not telling you enough. There's something I was going to suggest, something I don't exactly believe

in, but that we can try anyway. Something to get to

your subconscious directly so we can ask it what's going on."

Get to her subconscious directly…. Hannah held her breath. "Hypnosis?"

Paul nodded. "I'm not a big hypnosis fan. It's not some magical trance like TV and the movies want you

to believe. It's just a state of mind where you're a little more relaxed, a little more likely to be able to

remember threatening things without choking up. But it's nothing you can't achieve yourself by doing

breathing exercises at home."

Hannah wasn't happy. Hypnosis still seemed to mean giving up control. If not to Paul, then to her own

subconscious.

But what else am I supposed to do? She sat and listened to the quiet helplessness in her mind for a

moment. Not a peep from the cool wind voice or the crystal voice-and that was good, as far as she was

concerned. Still, it pointed up the fact that she didn't have an alternative.

She looked at Paul. "Okay. Let's do it."

"Great." He stood, then reached for a book on the corner of his desk. "Always assuming I remember

how…. Okay, why don't you lie down on the couch?"

Hannah hesitated, then shrugged. If I'm going to do it, I might as well do it right. She lay down and

stared at the dark beams in the ceiling. In spite of how miserable she was feeling, she had an almost

irresistible impulse to giggle.

Here she was on a real psychologist's couch, waiting to be hypnotized. Her friends at school would

never consider even going to a shrink-out here inMontana craziness was okay. After all, you had to be a

little eccentric to be living in this hard land in the first place. What wasn't okay was admitting you couldn't

deal with it on your own, paying too much attention to it, asking for help. And allowing yourself to be

hypnotized was even worse.

They all think I'm the most independent and together of any of them. If they could see me now. "Okay, I

want you to get comfortable and shut your eyes," Paul said. He was perched with one hip on the edge of

his desk, leg swinging, book in hand. His voice was quiet and soothing-the professional voice.

Hannah shut her eyes.

"Now I want you to imagine yourself floating. Just floating and feeling very relaxed. There's nothing you

need to think about and nowhere you need to go. And now you're seeing yourself enveloped by a

beautiful violet light. It's bathing your entire body and it's making you more and more relaxed …"

The couch was surprisingly comfortable. Its curves fit under her, supporting her without being intrusive.

It was easy to imagine that she was floating, easy to imagine the light around her.

"And now you feel yourself floating down deeper… into a deeper state of relaxation… and you're

surrounded by a deep blue light. The blue light is all around you, shining through you, and it's making you

more comfortable, more relaxed…"

The soft soothing voice went on, and at its direction Hannah imagined waves of colored light bathing her

body. Deep blue, emerald green, golden yellow, glowing orange. Hannah saw it all. It was amazing and

effortless; her mind just showed her the pictures. And as the colors came and went she felt herself

becoming more and more relaxed, warm and almost weightless. She couldn't feel the couch underneath

her any longer. She was floating on light.

"And now you're seeing a ruby red light, very deep, very relaxing. You're so relaxed; you're calm and

comfortable, and everything feels safe. Nothing will upset you; you can answer all my questions without

ever feeling distressed. Do you understand me?"

"Yes," Hannah said. She was aware of saying it, but it wasn't exactly as if she had said it. She wasn't

aware of planning to say it. Something within her seemed to be answering Paul using her voice.

But it wasn't frightening. She still felt relaxed, floating in the ruby light.

"All right. I'm now speaking to Hannah's subconscious. You will be able to remember things that

Hannah's waking mind isn't aware of-even things that have been repressed. Do you understand?"

"Yes." Again, the voice seemed to come before Hannah decided to speak.

"Good. Now, I've got this last note here, the one you found wrapped around your toothbrush this

morning. Do you remember this note?"

"Yes." Of course.

"Okay, that's good. And now I want you to go back in your mind, back to the time that this note was

written."

This time Hannah was aware of a need to speak. "But how can I do that? I don't know when it was

written. I didn't write-"

"Just-just-just let go, Hannah," Paul said, overriding her. His voice soothing again, he added, "Feel

relaxed, feel yourself becoming very relaxed, and let

your conscious mind go. Just tell yourself to go back to the time this note was written. Don't worry about

how. See the ruby light and think 1 will go back.' Are you doing that?"

"Yes," Hannah said. Go back, she told herself gamely. Just relax and go back, okay?

"And now, a picture is beginning to form in your mind. You are seeing something. What are you seeing?"

Hannah felt something inside her give way. She seemed to be falling into the ruby right. Her ordinary

mind was suspended; it seemed to have been shuttled off to the side somewhere. In this odd dreamlike

state, nothing could surprise her.

Paul's voice was gently insistent. "What are you seeing?"

Hannah saw it.

A tiny picture that seemed to open up, unfold as she stared at it.

"I see myself," she whispered.

"Where are you?"

"I don't know. Wait, maybe I'm in my room." She could see herself, wearing something long and white-a

nightgown. No, she was that self, she was in her bedroom, wearing her nightgown. She was in Paul's

office, lying on the couch, but she was in her bedroom at the same time. How strange, she thought dimly.

"All right, now the picture will get clearer. You'll begin to see things around you. Just relax and you'll

begin to see them. Now, what are you doing?"

Without feeling anything-except a kind of distant amusement and resignation-Hannah said, "Writing a

note."

Paul muttered something that sounded like, "Aha." But it might have been, "XJh-huh." Then he said

softly, "And why are you writing it?"

"I don't know-to warn myself. I have to warn myself."

"About what?"

Hannah felt herself shake her own head helplessly.

"Okay… what are you feeling as you write it?"

"Oh …" That was easy. Paul was undoubtedly expecting her to say something like "fear" or "anxiety." But

that wasn't the strongest thing she was feeling. Not the strongest at all.

"Longing," Hannah whispered. She moved her head restlessly on the couch. "Just-longing."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I want-so much … I want…" .

"What do you want?"

"Him." It came out as a sob. Hannah's ordinary mind watched somewhere in amazement, but Hannah's

body was entirely taken over by the feeling, racked with it. "I know it's impossible. It's danger and death

to me. But I don't care. I can't help it…"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. I mean, you're feeling very relaxed. You're very calm and you can answer my

questions. Who is this person that you're longing for?"

"The one who comes," Hannah said softly and hopelessly. "He's wicked and evil … I know that. She

explained it all to me. And I know he'll kill me. The way he always has. But I want him.''

She was trembling. She could feel her own body radiating heat-and she could hear Paul swallow.

Somehow in this expanded state of consciousness she seemed to be able to see him, as if she could be

everywhere at once. She knew he was sitting there on the edge of the desk, looking at her dazedly,

bewildered by the transformation in the young woman on his couch.

She knew he could see her, her face pale and glowing from inner heat, her breath coming quickly, her

body gripped by a fine muscular tremor. And she knew he was stirred-and frightened.

"Oh, boy." Paul's breath came out and he shifted on the desk. He bowed his head, then lifted it, looking

for a pencil. "Okay, I have to admit, I'm lost. Let's just go back to the beginning here. You feel that

somebody is after you, and that he's tried to kill you before? Some old boyfriend who's stalking you,

maybe?"

"No. He hasn't tried to kill me. He has killed me." "He has killed you." Paul bit his pencil. He muttered, "I

should have known better than to have started this. I don't believe in hypnosis anyway."

"And he's going to do it again. I'll die before my seventeenth birthday. It's my punishment for loving him.

It always happens that way."

"Right. Okay. Okay, let's try something really basic here…. Does this mystery guy have a name?"

Hannah lifted a hand and let it drop. "When?" she whispered.

"What?"

"When?"

"When what? What?" Paul shook his head. "Oh, hell-"

Hannah spoke precisely. "He's used different names at different times. He's had-hundreds, I guess. But I

think of him as Thierry. Thierry Descouedres.

Because that's the one he's used for the last couple of lifetimes."

There was a long silence. Then Paul said, "The last couple of … ?"

"Lifetimes. It may still be his name now. The last time I saw him he said he wouldn't bother to change it

anymore. He wouldn't bother to hide any longer."

Paul said, "Oh, God." He stood, walked to the window, and put his head in his hands. Then he turned

back to Hannah. "Are we talking about … I mean, tell me we're not talking about…" He paused and

then his voice came out soft and boneless. "The Big R? You know…" He winced. "Reincarnation?"

A long silence.

Then Hannah heard her own voice say flatly, "He hasn't been reincarnated."

"Oh." Paul's breath came out in relief. "Well, thank God. You had me scared there for a minute."

"He's been alive all this time," Hannah said. "He isn't human, you know."

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