Maddy's Floor, page 10
So he'd been listening for her.
The voice floated through her head, a whisper of warmth and loving energy that made her heart lighten and her smile brighten.
She stared at the fire, enjoying the gold and orange flames doing their wild dance.
Stefan's shadow fell on the table.
"Sit, my dear. Your amazing beauty dwarfs the fire."
He snickered. "Only you talk to me that way." Stefan pulled out the other chair and sat. Reaching across the table, he picked up the carafe of wine, and inhaled the bouquet. "Good choice."
Maddy smiled at the blond Adonis as she took a sip. "Bill's choice."
"Good on Bill."
Momma Rose, continuing to chatter, rushed over to give Stefan a big hug. Finally, Stefan patted her shoulder and had a chance to answer. "I'm fine, Momma Rose. Life's good. Yes, I've been busy. And yes, I'm hungry."
Laughing, Momma Rose took off and returned with a second wine glass. She emptied the carafe into his glass before taking it away with her. She returned within minutes, a full carafe in one hand and a breadbasket piled high with hot buttered garlic bread.
Maddy reached for the steaming piece at the top, biting into it with a moan. "Lord, I'm hungry. It's been a hell of a day."
"It must have been. It takes a lot for you to call out for help."
The reminder that she'd called him and why, slowed her enjoyment of her treat. "I know. Didn't want to put you out. I did suggest that I drive up to your place."
"Not an issue. I've been in the city all day. I'm more than ready for a chance to sit and visit with an old friend." Stefan reached out, his long artist fingers hovering over the basket before making a selection. "Did you order?"
"No. Momma Rosa will bring us whatever she feels we need. Chances are my portion will be enough to feed three."
He grinned. "That's not a bad idea. You're dropping weight again, Maddy. Not good."
Maddy frowned at him. "Surely not. At least not enough to be noticeable."
"Only to someone who knows you well." Stefan studied her face intently. Maddy sipped her wine. She ignored him but couldn't stop the heat from rising up her face. Thankfully, Momma Rose arrived with two steaming plates. As she placed them down in front of them, Maddy giggled. Her plateful could feed a small army.
"Tut, tut." Momma Rose shook a finger at a grinning Stefan. "You make sure Dr. Maddy eats. She's too skinny. She needs a good man to take care of her."
Maddy's eyes widened in shocked amusement.
Stefan's grin deepened.
"You're right. She does need a good man."
Momma Rose beamed at him. "Yes, yes. She works too hard looking after everyone else. No one looks after her."
"We're working on it, Momma Rose. Not to worry. She'll be partnered soon."
Maddy, in the process of taking a sip of wine, choked, spitting wine everywhere as a beaming Mama Rose disappeared into the kitchen. Reaching for a napkin, Maddy gasped for breath then coughed until her eyes watered and her air passages cleared.
Reaching over, Stefan patted her on the back. "Are you okay?"
She glared, at him and gasped, "I was until you opened your mouth."
Stefan sat down, a gentle smirk turned her way. "Are you telling me that with all your energy work and healing ability, you have no idea that your single state is changing?"
Maddy put her napkin down on the table. Her astonishment turned to shock before finally turning to horror. "Like you're one to talk. Why don't you have someone special in your life?" She glared at him. "Of course, I don't have any idea. There is one basic element missing here – it's called a man. The man."
A knowing grin swept across his face. "He's a relatively new addition to your life. However, he's there now. You know it, you feel it, and you're denying it." The smile dropped off. "And I do know what is happening in terms of my own private life, but there won't be any movement in that area for several months, or longer. Your time is now."
Maddy stared at one of the most powerful psychics in the modern world and didn't know what to say. Questions crowded her mind, but the biggest one demanded an answer. "Who?" she whispered, urgently, her gaze locked on his face. She needed to know. "Who?"
"I don't know."
Her spine straightened. "What? You can't tantalize me with tidbits. I need to know who." Outrage and disbelief swept through her, only to be replaced by the image of a tall linebacker-of-a-detective and that instinctive recognition she'd noticed when she'd first met him.
Ageless black eyes opened in front of her as Stefan slipped from reality to the seer he was. "He will save your life – at a price. Your healing abilities will be needed, at a level you rarely go."
The fire flared suddenly, then dimmed.
Shivers rippled down her spine. "What?" she whispered urgently. "When?"
"Soon. Too soon. Something in your world has gone wrong. Dangerously wrong." Stefan's voice echoed in an eerie whisper.
"Oh, God." Maddy watched, fascinated. She'd seen him do it time and time again: Stefan returned to himself, almost unaware of the shifting energies as he morphed through realities. Back to normal. With one eye cocked in her direction, Stefan lifted a fork piled high with spaghetti and a luscious meat sauce. "Problems?"
"No." Maddy smiled. "You shifted for a moment."
His fork stopped in midair. "I what?" His gaze turned inward. "Oh, so I did."
"A little unnerving message, too. Thanks for scaring the bejesus out of me." Maddy took a bite from her plate.
"Some of them are like that."
"Great," she murmured. "That adds to the reason I asked to meet with you."
Stefan ate heartily for a few moments before sitting back and lifting his glass of wine. He took a sip, studying her over the rim of his glass. "Speaking of which, what did you want to discuss?"
Casting a glance around the room to make sure no one else could hear, she leaned closer and said, "Something peculiar is going on." Quickly, she filled him in on the odd events on her floor, starting with the weird purple-black energy she'd found surrounding Eric and Jansen and then she told him about their subsequent deaths, the changes in the energy on the floor, and the new patients. "We both know black energy can be many things, including a toxic environment that over time can cause disease."
"And some people will hook their energy into another person to keep them connected. Look at husbands who are jealous of their wives or mothers that won't let their sons grow up. That can cause the toxic environment." Stefan took another bite of his dinner. "And people who hate each other or try to control others do the same thing."
"But usually unconsciously." It was important to recognize that people didn't know what they were doing to others – in most cases. But when people internalized these negative emotions, it squandered their energy and disease could be the result. She leaned back, her fingers gently rubbing her temples.
"Maintaining balance and conducting healing in this environment was always a challenge, but now…well, it's next to impossible."
Stefan's gaze narrowed on her face. "This energy, did it have any emotion attached to it?"
Maddy frowned and cast her mind back. "It happened so fast. I don't know. If I had to put a name to it, I'd have to say the energy had a feeling of 'need,' single-mindedness, almost a touch of desperation to it."
A grimace whispered across Stefan's face. "I was afraid you were going to say that."
"Why?" Maddy leaned forward. "What is it? I don't get it." Her barely touched plate of spaghetti sat forgotten. "What was it doing there?"
"I can't say for sure. There have been odd instances in history where people had the capability to take, for themselves, the life force of someone with diminished capacity."
A shocked gasp slid from Maddy's lips. "What?" Fearing someone might overhear, she twisted around to make sure no one was listening, then bent forward, whispering, "Do you know what you're saying? The implications?"
"Oh yes, I kno
She stared blankly down at her full plate. "It really is possible to steal someone's energy?"
"Not just their energy, Maddy. Their life force."
"Good Lord. That means they actually, willfully kill another person?"
"Right. Theoretically, it's murder."
Maddy struggled to reconcile that the dark purple energy was something that belonged to a person and even worse, that that person murdered Jansen for his life force. "I've heard stories, of course, I hadn't put any credence to them."
"Nothing is impossible at this point. Have I personally seen a case like this? No. Given that you actually witnessed this in a place where you create a special healing energy, it makes me wonder if that healing energy is the attraction. Healing energy has a draw all its own. The Haven is full of dying and desperate people. It's not too far off to suppose that another patient might be doing this, one not lucky enough to be a recipient of your special skills. If they were receiving your healing energy, there'd be no need for them to steal it from someone else."
"No." Maddy shuddered. "Oh, no."
Stefan stared soberly at her. "It's a possibility."
Maddy shuddered violently and reached for her wine glass. Took a healthy drink. "That's terrible. Everyone there is dying."
Maddy stared at him, confusion clouding her mind. "What? What do you mean?"
"Who would care? Death's expected there, isn't it? People die all the time. After all, that's why they go there. Think about it. Who would notice if a dying patient…died?"
Maddy's stomach roiled. The spaghetti searched for a quick exit. She pushed her chair back and leaned closer to the fire, gasping for calm and balance. Memories crowded her, starting with the crash team that had worked on Eric as she watched, followed by the creepy old woman from the hallway. She'd been so busy, so rushed off her feet, she hadn't had time to follow up on who she was.
Yet, hadn't she had an inkling? She stared at Stefan's calm, unaffected face.
"That's horrible." And unacceptable. Maddy worked with death and dying every day, but she'd never heard of anything so sick.
"Dying people don't have a strong life force, making them easy victims. They can't fight off predators. Add all that healing energy surrounding your patients…well…that's got to be attractive to someone who's desperately trying to heal." He stroked the back of her hand. "What better location for this type of murder to happen than a place full of people who won't be missed and where there are a number of people who are desperate to live – and will do so by any means possible?"
Silence surrounded them. Maddy straightened, staring into the flames, her mind racing in circles, trying to make sense of his words. "How close would this person have to be in order to accomplish such a feat?"
Stefan's brows furrowed. "If we're right and this is another sick person doing this, I don't think he could be very far away – like in another country or city – although if he's powerful and in good health that's possible. Ripples happen in energy levels but too much will actually cause a tear. I believe that's what's happening here. You remember those lessons, right? At a guess, I'd have to say the person either lives or works at The Haven…or is a regular visitor. Could even be someone who goes there on a regular basis for business purposes, like a delivery person." He paused. "Although if the person was connected to the victim in some way, like a family member or a lover, they could do this from further away."
"So." Maddy gulped, took a deep breath and blurted out, "Whoever this person is, he's using The Haven as a feeding ground?"
Stefan grimaced. "As much as I hate the way you put that, I'd have to say yes."
Stefan waited until Maddy's lithe frame disappeared safely indoors before pulling away from the curb. She was a beautiful person inside and out. He felt honored to have her in his life. And he was more worried about her and the situation at The Haven than he'd dared let her see.
Several other powerful psychics and energy workers had already contacted him, wondering what had disturbed the energy field. He hadn't had much to give in the way of answers. It occurred to him, that without trying, he had collected a small group of powerful, aware individuals with unbelievable abilities of their own.
He'd helped several special women, like Sam and Kali, to develop their skills further. Helped them to stop hiding their lights and come out in a position of strength. Both had been blessed or cursed – depending on the viewpoint – with special talents. They'd each blossomed with a little training. He could see wonderful things in their futures. But they, along with several other people, still turned to him for answers.
Ripples in the energy field were normal – tears were not. He'd felt similar problems before, on a smaller scale. These tear-indicators had popped up over the last year at irregular intervals. Then about three months ago, something had changed, worsened. They became different, were off somehow. He wondered if something new, someone new was experimenting. He frowned, changing lanes to access the highway ramp. It almost seemed like the experimental stage was over and that whoever was doing this had put their newfound skills into practice.
Mastery would follow.
He had to find this person and stop them before more innocent people died.
People like Maddy.
He smiled fondly. She was a sweetheart. A giver, not a taker. A lover, even a fighter, but never a betrayer. Maddy's energy was pure and glorious. It had to be for the work she did. Anyone with less couldn't accomplish the good she did – their inner light wouldn't be strong enough.
He had always loved her – as a sister, as a soul-bound friend, as a partner on this journey through both sides of reality. People like Maddy made his life less lonely and more viable. He drew on her strength in times of his own need, as she did on his. She didn't recognize it yet, but the time of her awakening to yet another level of awareness was approaching.
It had to do with the tears in the energy levels. He didn't use the term evil often, not liking the misconceptions that arose immediately in people's minds. This was the first time in a long time that he felt driven to consider what that term meant for him – and for others.
He shifted lanes as he eased into mainstream traffic. The evening light had disappeared behind dark storm clouds. Stefan stared at the unfolding darkness, finding a matching soberness inside. Something nasty was brewing. The energies were stirring and gathering in a most unpleasant way.
The thought had no sooner formed in his mind when his world went black. His fingers convulsed on the steering wheel. The blackness ripped apart and his inner gaze fell on a horrific scene of bedridden people, twisting in agony, their silver cords stretched taut.
As Stefan watched, one silver cord snapped. The man's voice cried out, "Nooooo!" His panicked gaze locked onto Stefan for the briefest instant before the ghostlike entity winked out of existence.
Stefan's awareness slammed back into the vehicle, now crawling along in the wrong lane with traffic snarled around him. Panicked, he quickly pulled off onto the shoulder amid honking horns.
Trembling, Stefan hugged his arms around his chest and bowed his head. Christ. He hated receiving visions when he wasn't at home. A major reason he lived in hermit's isolation. Today, he had been forced to travel and had already experienced two of these.
Focused on his breathing, it still took several long moments before he could raise his head and let the tension drain calmly from his system.
He'd seen this type of energy before, when he was a kid. Too young to understand and too unimportant to make anyone else take notice.
Now they'd all get a second chance.
Hell was stopping by for another visit and it appeared its target was The Haven – this time.
Sissy did feel so much better again today. Of course, the hot bubble bath with her favorite sea foam scent had helped. She did so love to indulge herself
The other sick women weren't getting better. Look at them. They died a little more each day. Silly of them. They should be asking her how she was doing so much better than they were. Maybe they'd get healthier themselves if they practiced some of her tricks. She was here at The Haven, a long-term care facility. No one expected her to be discharged from the place.