The Edge Of The Sphere
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by Thea Landen
Description: Stephen's quiet life is turned upside down when he experiences vivid dreams of a woman he's never met. Liora, having grown tired of her forced isolation and servitude in the land of Marindal, uses the mystical sphere housed in her cellar to attempt to reach someone to help her break free. They meet up several times in a subconscious illusion Liora creates for them and quickly form a strong bond. Stephen follows her to Marindal, where he's instantly captured by her cruel master, Thirvar. Plans for escape become their top priority, and their feelings grow deeper during their secret meetings in the realm of fantasy. The knowledge that they will want different things once they are safe from Thirvar's clutches taints the prospect of reaching their goal. They are faced with the decision between seeking out the lives they left behind and taking a chance on the future of their love.
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, 2012 Double Dragon Publishing
eBookwise Release Date: July 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [236 KB]
Reading time: 146-205 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
The path through the trees was rocky and uneven. While the trail could be difficult to follow as it meandered through the forest, the wooded scene remained one of Stephen's favorite routes for his afternoon strolls. Despite being in a mountainous region, the inclines never became too steep for him. The physical therapist had both approved and encouraged the light activity, as long as he didn't strain himself. His pain had gradually improved, and his limp was less pronounced since he had moved from the city; though he'd never be back to "normal," it was the best recovery he could have hoped for.
As he entered the tiny cottage he now called home, the angry chirp of his cell phone alerted him to a new message. Grabbing it from the kitchen table, he grumbled about forgetting to bring it along with him yet again. He didn't need to check the list of missed calls to know who it was, and he silently contemplated the days when there was no reception out in the woods.
"Hi, Stevie!" came the expected, overly cheery voice of his older sister Jill. "I just wanted to check in and--"
He hit a button on the phone, deleting the message instantly. The voicemails were always so similar, he could practically repeat them back word for word. He appreciated Jill's concern, but he wasn't in the mood for idle conversation and continuing attempts to assure her that everything was fine. "I'll call her back tomorrow," he muttered to the empty room, switching the phone off and placing it back on the table.
The sun had begun to set behind the gently rounded hills, casting a soft golden glow over the leafy trees that surrounded the small abode. Not enough light trickled through the thick branches and the windows of the kitchen, so Stephen flipped up a light switch before opening the cabinets to decide on an evening meal. Gone were the days of dining in posh little Manhattan bistros or ordering take-out on lazy late nights. Although cooking for one usually seemed more like a chore than a pleasurable experience, he honestly didn't miss his previous habits all that much.
The pantry produced a near-empty box of spaghetti, and there was just enough tomato sauce left inside the jar in the refrigerator door to make it a halfway interesting meal. After setting up the pots on the stove, he frowned down at the spent containers. Alison, his ex-girlfriend, had always turned her nose up at the store-bought sauce, complaining about how little effort he put in to the times when it was his turn to cook for them. It frequently seemed as though complaining about him was her favorite hobby. He tossed the jar into the trash can, the thoughts of Alison pushing away the oft-seen reminders to recycle, and idly waited for the water to boil.
A trip to the grocery store would be a necessary interruption to his usual routine the following day. Since Stephen had moved upstate, far away from the lightning-fast pace of the city and expensive cars driven by those in too much of a rush to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, he had settled into a comfortable, if not mundane, way of life. On occasion, he would get into the car and travel to the artsy towns that dotted the map of the Finger Lakes region, and he'd had some various successes in selling some of his paintings. Other than those brief expeditions, he mostly stayed close to his new home, immersing himself in the world of thick forests and oils and canvas.
The rattling of the lid caught his attention, and he dumped the spaghetti into the pot. Eight minutes later, his dinner was ready, and he brought it over to the table. It was a simple meal at the end of a simple day. There were no surprises or anything out of the ordinary to disrupt the sturdy wall he had built around himself, and he imagined the next day would be the same.
Nothing in Stephen's life bothered him anymore. Not much excited him, either. His painted landscapes depicted his surroundings well enough. He didn't consider them particularly inspired. He had Jill, he had a small handful of acquaintances that lived nearby, and his former roommates sent him an insubstantial email every now and then so they could pat themselves on the back for staying in touch. While he didn't know how he was going to feel in a week, a month, or a year, for now, it was just enough.
The branches of the nearest tree scratched at his window as he climbed into bed and wrapped himself in a thin blanket. The weather during the day had been breezy, and the nights were starting to cool off, a sure sign summer was drawing to a close. He hadn't experienced a winter in upstate New York, and he was more than a little apprehensive about the inevitable piles of snow that would be falling upon him. The abrupt move had been a much-needed change, and he was at peace with his decision to completely uproot his life. In the absence of traffic, sirens, and the other noises of the city's wild nightlife, he quickly lulled into a deep, dreamless sleep.