Shadows Across the Moon is a sci-fi romance serial novel with chapters being released daily. If you missed the previous chapters, you can read them here-
Moderate violence and sex.
All rights reserved as stated in serial chapter 1. Copyright SF English
SHADOWS ACROSS THE MOON by SF English
Bodies lay like a path into the city. Grace thought about all the red dots on the monitor and figured there had to be at least two hundred AIM soldiers. Maybe more.
“They’ve left a lot of evidence,” she said to Dane, as they made their way to the underground.
His gaze took it in as they walked the path. “They have no insignia. No way to trace who they belong to.”
“Who else could pull something like this off?” She asked.
“There are five countries that come to mind,” he told her. “At least two that hate this country enough.”
But there had to be more evidence. Witnesses. Something. She refused to believe there would be no trace. She prayed that Robert and Stephanie made it out alive. They’d expose the government. They’d know what to do.
Grace gazed far into the distance. She thought they were near the rendezvous point. No one would’ve waited this long would they? But as they neared the turn that would put them near the entrance of the underground, Grace heard shuffling. Footsteps.
Dane slowed, and his arm went out behind him, sweeping her the wall. She watched him. He scanned their immediate area. He leaned slowly to peer around the corner. His hand took hers. The other handheld his gun.
Grayson. Grace felt the cold steel of her gun before it registered that she’d drawn it. He’d stopped when he recognized them. Two soldiers walked beside him, guns drawn.
“Well, well, well,” Grayson said. His dark glasses were on despite the night. “Look who’s here. Better late than never I guess.”
“What are you doing Grayson?” Dane’s gun aimed at the man’s head.
“Don’t shoot,” Paul walked from the alley. He had Juliana by the arm. Robert and Stephanie appeared behind them.
Grace’s throat went dry. Her heart pounded in her ears. Wetness burned behind her lids. She watched Paul walk cautiously around Grayson and his men. His gun was drawn, but not aimed.
“Stephanie,” Dane whispered the name as though he couldn’t contain it.
His warm hand found hers again, and they began to walk. But, Dane was aiming. Grace watched his steely gaze trail Grayson, as they moved to meet Paul and the others. Grayson never moved.
Grace watched as Stephanie ran toward Dane, and embraced him. Robert took aim at Grayson. Dane nodded at his brother-in-law, holstered his gun, and wrapped his arm around his sister, still unwilling to let go of her hand.
“Grayson stopped the fog machines,” Paul said. “He’s the reason they aborted the mission.”
All eyes went to Grayson. The tall, imposing figure showed no emotion. Grace wondered how this had come to be. She watched as the rebel soldiers moved closer to Grayson.
“I’m leaving,” Grayson’s gaze remained on Paul. “My mission isn’t over.”
Grayson instructed the soldiers to go home. He turned and headed west, toward the water. No one moved. No one spoke. Grayson walked around the corner of a large building, and he was gone.
The soldiers had lowered their weapons.
“Permission to deliver a message sir,” the soldier Grace knew as Roger, approached Paul.
Paul stood, holding Juliana firmly. Roger moved slowly, carefully. Roger reached inside his jacket and Grace heard the cocking of a gun. Robert. Roger pulled his hand out, the other one already high in the air in an act of surrender. A piece of paper was handed to Paul.
“What is it?” Dane asked.
“Two contact numbers,” Paul said. “A doctor in Detroit.” He looked from the paper to the place where Grayson had disappeared around the corner. “And Grayson’s.”
Dane leaned toward Paul. “What’s scribbled there?” He nodded in the direction of the paper in Paul’s hand.
“A message for me,” Paul said, folding the paper, and tucking it securely in his pocket. “It says, ‘Don’t sleep’.” He looked then to Dane, his face a mask Grace had grown to recognize.
“Grayson helped us?” Grace worried for Paul.
“I guess so,” Paul said. Grace watched him glance again to the empty street.
“What next?” Grace looked to Dane.
“We have to get back to the rebel base until we know we’re safe.”
“It’s not over,” Robert said. “People died. A lot of people. There’s no way to cover this up.”
“You’d be surprised what they can cover-up,” Stephanie pulled away from her brother to embrace her husband. “You’d be surprised what people will believe, if you put a story in their headset.”
“Then you have to tell the story first,” Grace looked at the woman she’d admired for so long. Stephanie would know what to do.
“They’ve removed all equipment,” Paul shared. “No black boxes, no traces of the bombs. Nothing. This was strictly covert.”
“We have you,” Stephanie said. “One look at you and they’ll have to believe. When you tell them …”
“No.” Paul interrupted.
“Paul, we need to expose them,” Grace ignored Juliana, and moved toward him.
“They’ll explain me away. Call me a terrorist, and find a way to kill me.” Paul looked at Grace and she watched that perfect mask slip. Regret. “Besides,” he pulled in a lungful of air and let it out in a rush. “I’m sure I have a family somewhere. Someone. Out there. If they know I survived this they may go after them. I have to find my family first.”
“We have to do something,” Stephanie looked up, to Robert.
Grace watched emotions play across his face, as he looked into the eyes of his wife. She’d never seen such devotion. Such love. Then Robert looked at Paul. Their gazes held, wordlessly they seemed to communicate.
“Let him go,” Robert said, and then looked back at his wife. “He’s already a target like you were. Like his family might be already.”
Grace watched Paul’s hand come up to tap absently at the paper he’d put there. Her heart ached for him. It ached at the injustice of it all. Paul’s nightmare wasn’t over. And, neither was hers. That thought brought her attention to Juliana.
“Did you learn anything?” Grace asked Paul, as her gaze remained fixed on Juliana.
“Enough,” Paul said. “Enough to know that this woman can save your life.”
Grace thought of the time that Juliana had hit her, and of the kitten, she was sure Juliana had killed. Grace’s first brush with hatred was bitter and dark. She tried to swallow it down, but it stuck there. She walked closer and looked Juliana in the eye.
“You’re going to give me my life back,” Grace told her, as her feelings caused her body to warm inside. “And if I die,” she looked at Dane now, and saw his heated gaze on Juliana, “You die.”
Juliana brought herself up to full height. She stared daggers at Grace. “Same goes for you,” she spat.
A crack echoed in the air, and Juliana went down. Grace rubbed her knuckles. “It won’t be the same,” she promised the woman who looked up from cautious eyes. She didn’t feel satisfied like she thought she might. What she felt was justice. But, she thought, weren’t they the same?
Paul hauled Juliana to her feet. As they turned to walk into the underground, Lisa emerged with half a dozen men.
Lisa stopped and looked up at the sky. Dawn was breaking. A natural fog would blanket the city. Grace thought it would keep people inside a little longer. The sound of machines coming to life brought Grace around to see a traffic light flicker. The city was coming to life. Electricity came with the sun. The city had begun to breathe.
Grace watched as Lisa approached Paul. The beautiful rebel stopped in front of him. She cast a glance to Juliana, but it was Paul that held her attention.
“I’m glad you made it,” she said.
“I’m glad we all made it,” Paul told her. Grace saw his mask disappear. He frowned. “Amanda?”
“We’re headed to the hospital before the mayhem. I thought you might come with us.”
Paul continued to look at her wordlessly. He nodded once and glanced at Dane, but it was Robert who came to take Juliana. Paul and Robert stood there only feet away. Grace wondered what had transpired between the two men.
“Thank you,” Robert said.
Paul only nodded, as Robert pulled Juliana away.
Paul looked at her then. Grace felt something cry out in her heart. Such a strong man, but so broken. She wanted desperately to help him, but she didn’t know how. When he stood in front of her, she threw her arms around him.
“Be strong Grace,” he whispered, as he pulled away.
“I am,” she answered.
He looked at her, cupping her chin in his hand. The corner of his mouth lifted in a half-smile, and his eyes changed, brightened. “Yes,” he said as he studied her, “You are.”
“We’re going to the underground base,” Robert announced.
“Paul,” Dane called their attention. “The hospital. Whatever Grace needs.”
Paul nodded. Lisa began walking and Paul joined her.
“Wait,” Grace halted Lisa. “This is yours.” She handed the gun back. A changing of the guard. Lisa took it, held it for a moment, and handed it back.
“You earned it,” she said. Before Grace could object Lisa turned her back, and walked away.
Grace watched Lisa, Paul and the rebels head east. When she turned back she found herself alone on the street with Dane. The sun rose, causing shadows to dance away. Cold nipped at her exposed flesh. Goosebumps crawled along her skin, and she rubbed her arms, as she looked at him.
Grace watched his expression soften as he looked at her. They stood less than three feet apart, but Grace thought it was an ocean. Pain radiated from her heart to her fingertips. Longing. Need. Love. Grace wanted to say something, anything, do anything, to make him feel what she felt, but he couldn’t.
He took a step forward, and her pain increased. The look in his eyes caused tears in hers.
“I learned something from you Grace,” he said, as he took another step. “Not being able to love … only using a chip to love …” he stopped. She watched him struggle, but couldn’t help him. He put his finger beneath her chin and brought her face up. “I don’t need the chip. I never did.”
“We have to do things sometimes … I understand,” she began, but he shook his head and she held still.
“No Grace,” he lowered his head, and her heartbeat at his nearness. “I love you.” The warmth of his lips was felt throughout her body. And those lips told her it was true. She was accepted, she was loved. She mattered.
Everything was ready. The operating room wasn’t a sterile-white, but it was as sterile as a rebel base medical clinic could be.
Grace looked into Paul’s concerned eyes.
“Are you sure you don’t want to find someone else?” he asked.
“You said you remember enough to do this. Dane’s brought a private surgeon to assist. I’m sure.” She had assured him several times this morning, and even more last night.
Thanks to Lisa, they had all the equipment they needed. Medical supplies, drugs, even the hospital gown she was wearing, had been procured by Lisa and her loyal followers.
Juliana was cuffed to a chair just outside. If things went wrong, they’d go wrong for her, too. There could be no state-of-the-art hospital care with the government looking for her. It was Juliana’s fault, her chip, her betrayal, and it would cost her dearly if the less than high tech accommodations cost Grace her life.
Dane’s warm hand slipped into hers. His dark eyes penetrated her very soul, searched her and was satisfied with what was there. If he was uncertain of Paul, it didn’t show.
“Any word yet on the news?” It was soothing to think of things other than her surgery. It was soothing to think of what was to come next.
“Soon.” He squeezed her hand.
Her vision was suddenly filled with Paul’s masked face.
“It’s time,” he said. He nodded to Dane and the warmth in her hand fell away. “We’re going to count backward from one hundred,” he instructed.
“100 … 99 … 98 … 97 …”
* * * *
“Come on. You’re not going to start with that cover-up theory again?” The reporter badgered Stephanie, but Stephanie was unaffected.
A popping sound, then a slight glitch to the headset made her heart race. Everything focused. Grace willed herself to remain calm. Be patient. Think of other things. The headset was fine again.
Grace had seen it too many times. They’d labeled Stephanie a whacko. They’d hurt her career. And her insistence that what happened in San Francisco was done by our own government, was labeled as un-American. Newspapers told of how American soldiers died stopping the terrorist threat. The country should be proud. We had won. San Francisco was saved.
Grace unhooked. She couldn’t take it anymore. She burned with fury every single time. But she had to admit, without Stephanie taking the heat in the public eye, they’d most likely be dead by now. As it was, they had to be very careful. Help the rebels relocate. Lay low for a while.
Dane continued to make music and make money. It was all pre-recorded, so the government had a hard time tracking him. Dane was wealthy and he was smart. They would be able to live out the rest of their lives from his hidden assets.
Grace sighed, as she stood on the balcony of the rebel safe house. She’d been in tunnels for so long the sunlight hurt her eyes. The sun warmed her skin, making her smile. It felt good to smile.
The sound of running water stopped. Soon Dane was next to her, his water from his wet hair dripped down her neck, as he pressed his cheek to hers. He held there, stealing her warmth.
“Any word from Paul or Lisa?” she asked, as she soaked up the water, and the love.
He pulled away shaking his head. He sat on the only chair in the room, pulling her down into his lap.
“No. They should’ve made it to New Detroit by now,” he frowned. “Paul said they had enough medication to keep Amanda stable for a week.”
She lay her head back against him. “I hope he gets his full memory back.”
He kissed the top of her head. “Me too.”
“I had a glitch in my headset,” she admitted.
His arms pulled her in tight, and he nuzzled her neck. She knew the removal of the chip had been hard on him. Now, they both waited to make sure the tumor would shrink and disappear, as she used Juliana’s technology. Infinity’s technology, she corrected.
The chip was destroyed. Grace thought of how angry Juliana had been at them as they did it. Now Juliana was screaming in a rebel jail, where she belonged.
“I’ll check the frequency tonight, at the lab,” he promised. “Grayson left the paperwork on the unlisted frequency he created, but it’s new technology. There’ll be problems at first.”
“You’ll figure it out,” she smiled again, as he started kissing her neck. “It’s your thing.”
She gasped as his hand cupped her breast. His thumb made leisurely circles around her nipple before caressing over it, and causing her to writhe.
“I love you, Grace,” he whispered, causing sparks of energy and joy to course through her veins.
“Show me,” she breathed out the whisper.
As he convinced her, slowly and thoroughly, out on the balcony overlooking the ocean, she tasted the fresh salt air. The warm wind caressed them. His words were music. Her body tingled. This was life. Her life. And everything in it … mattered.