(Annals of Ellie #4)

by Wendy Lohr

The future awaits all of us and with it, the unknown and uncertainty. This is true for even a Seer like Ellie who sketches glimpses of the future. Each sketch rich with detail, but only a peek. Enough to intrigue, not enough to satisfy. Mix the glimpses of Futurity with romance and treacherous plots at the world meeting of the Vampire Council and mayhem is sure to follow.


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Chapter One
Acceptance & Agent

My name is Elayne Rose Marshall and I am a Seer.

I’ve been having Future Visions since I was six years old and you would think that I would be at peace with this ability, would even have embraced it. But no, not me. For most of my life before heading off to Dark Hollow University, I wanted nothing to do with visions because I considered them a curse, a harbinger of something bad happening in my life. I wanted them to stop but they happened anyway. And all who witnessed me having them thought I was cursed or possessed, so I learned to resent them.

Then, at Dark Hollow, when I finally found out what I actually was and started learning more about Seers, I wanted to only accept the good that came of my ability, like reuniting a long-lost brother and sister. If it hadn’t been for my visions, they may have never found each other and that was something that had me viewing my ability as a gift instead of a curse for the first time ever.

But after I just witnessed a horrific attack on the Lycan Pack I was visiting in Australia, which I’d had a Future Vision about just days before, I finally realized the bad things could no longer be ignored. Even as the chaos is settling, I’m trying desperately to find a way to reconcile what I can do with the fact that I can’t change what I foresee is going to happen. The best I can hope for is to be prepared and try to keep things from getting any worse when the vision unfolds. And in this instance, because I’d had the vision two days earlier, we were able to prevent more lives from being lost.

Still, despite my forewarning, Gabriel Edmonton, a powerful Vampire and my mentor in all things Seer, had lost one of his Guardians and another one was injured badly, looking at months of recovery. In addition to Gabriel’s Guardians, other Special Ops Guardians had been provided by Leandro Ferriera, the head of the Vampire Council and leader of the Vampire Species, to assist because of my vision. Several of them had also lost their lives in the attack as well as some Lycans. Due to their heroics, only a few of the attackers had survived and had been captured to be questioned. And yet, Gabriel and Peter Maliki, the Alpha for the Pack, insisted that my vision… my ability… was a gift and my forewarning had managed to save so many lives today.

So as I sat in the heavily fortified basement of the Lycan museum, frowning at the drawings in my sketchbook, I was slowly coming to the realization, in spite of my wanting it to be otherwise, that my Seer abilities were a package deal. I couldn’t turn off one part just because I didn’t like it. I had to accept it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly – if I was ever going to figure out how to harness what I could do and make it work for me.

So, accept it I have… finally. With everything I’ve experienced these last several months and especially this past week, I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to acknowledge that no one else could take on this burden… this responsibility… for me. They could help me work with it and work through it, but they couldn’t take it on themselves. Only I could do that and it was a tough responsibility to embrace, especially for an eighteen-year-old unworldly woman from Kentucky.

I guess that’s why I was idly drawing right now. My art was my security blanket in this chaotic world and I needed a few minutes to come to terms with my new acceptance of myself before I could face the next problem. And no doubt there would be a next problem considering everything I’d already experienced since enrolling at Dark Hollow University. Ugh, I hate drama, especially being in the center of it.

“Olivia said she’ll be here in a few. She has to finish up a couple of things real quick,” Rafael Gibson, Rafe for short, announced in his thick Australian accent as he entered the basement of the Lycan museum. And yeah, Rafe was a Lycan.

Another weirdness that I had already accepted was the strange world I was associated with. A world that included Vampires, or Vamps as I have learned to slang, and Lycans. They existed beside us ordinary humans, their differences invisible to most common folk. Immortality and wolfness, mere legends and myths to the rest of the world, but a part of my new reality.

We’d just finished up a meeting where I’d reluctantly agreed to accepting a Guardian for protection, knowing that if I’d tried to fight Gabriel on this any longer, I wouldn’t have any say in the matter. So I insisted that the Guardian be a female. He’d pointed out he didn’t have a female Guardian and Rafe had suggested offering the position to his sister, Olivia. Now, we were waiting for her to join us to see if she’d be amenable.

I’d met Olivia Maliki when I’d been trying to figure out if Lycans actually existed during my first semester at Dark Hollow University. During my “investigation,” based on visions I had, I discovered that there were two Lycans on the grounds of the university. With the help of my awesome roommate, Brit, I was able to identify Olivia as one of them. Once I confronted her about her little wolfy secret, she’d eventually confided in me about how she was there looking for her brother. They’d been separated when her brother, who I came to learn was Rafe, was just six months old due to an attack that had wiped out their entire Pack. Olivia had been living with Peter’s Pack all this time, not knowing until two years ago that her brother was still alive. My visions had helped me figure out they were related and I was able to bring them together. That had been one of those instances where I truly loved my Seer abilities.

“How are you holding up, Shortcake?” Rafe asked gently, settling into a seat next to me at the table. He was one of my best friends and was also one of the Lycans that had starred in several of my visions throughout the semester I’d just finished. He’d taken to calling me Shortcake early on when we were engaging in flirtations. But one date with him made us both realize we were meant to only be friends and things had been great between us ever since.

Smiling slightly, I shrugged and admitted, “I could be better, I guess. How’s your injury?”

He’d jumped into the fray when the attack started and been cut with a knife pretty bad before eliminating his attacker. His upper left part of his chest and shoulder was now sporting stitches and lots of bandaging’s.

“It’s alright. Hurts a little, but I’ll heal,” he responded gruffly, shrugging off my concern like I’d kind of expected him to. As we settled into a comfortable silence, I focused a little more on the page my 2B sketch pencil was hovering over. Without realizing it, I’d been drawing various ravens in sizes and poses.

As it dawned on me what I’d been drawing, my cheeks warmed and I glanced quickly over towards the entrance to the basement. Kristoff Monroe, Gabriel’s Head Guardian, who I was exploring a romantic relationship with, was listening intently as Gabriel conversed with him. Raven was my nickname for him and apparently my subconscious had been thinking about him this whole time while I was reconciling things in my head.

Observing the two of them for a moment, I still couldn’t understand why I was sexually attracted to both. They were opposites in so many ways, yet both had attributes that appealed to me. Fortunately for me, neither of them had been opposed to exploring things, were even fully aware of my interest in each of them. Hormones and relationships were a strange thing, probably something I’d never fully understand.

Forcing thoughts of relationships out of my head, I pondered some more the idea of Olivia becoming my Guardian. It had occurred to me that I couldn’t pay her considering I was the poster child for the poor college student. I guess I’d been worried about that aspect, knowing that Guardians usually signed a contract with their Vamps that included a pretty good salary for their services. Thinking some more about that, I recalled in the meeting that had just ended that I’d offered up the suggestion of her maybe teaching while at the university since I wouldn’t need her following me around to all my classes. The Vamps tended to view university grounds as a safe zone, for some reason, which I was grateful for as it gave me at least some autonomy.

Contemplating the idea more, I actually had no idea what Olivia’s qualifications were, other than she had a Ph.D. in Mechatronics and had been working for peanuts as a maintenance person at the university. She had intentionally taken the low paying, low visible job to use as a cover while looking for her brother. No doubt she would be in a better job right now if it hadn’t been for the fact that she’d been searching for Rafe and thought he might show up at Dark Hollow because of his connection with Gabriel.

But would she make a good college professor? I had no idea. I guess I could insist on it, though, and if she didn’t work out, it would be up to Gabriel and Anton Borelli, the headmaster for the university, to decide what to do about it. Gabriel was the Dean of Faculty, after all, so he actually did have a say in all this. Some would go so far as to insist that he had the final say. Regardless, maybe this full professorship would pay enough to offset the fact that I wasn’t able to pay her. It would definitely be worth offering up if it meant she would agree to be my Guardian.

Sensing a newcomer in the room, I glanced up and saw that the object of my contemplations had finally arrived wearing a pair of ill-fitting sweatpants and an over-sized t-shirt, neither of which belonged to her, if I had to guess. When the attack happened, the Lycans had shifted into their wolves instantly with no regard to the clothes they’d been wearing. Needless to say, those clothes got ripped to shreds and it was likely she’d borrowed whatever she could find once she’d shifted back to her human form. From the looks of her clothes, I’d guess she’d borrowed from a really big guy because she was practically swimming in the material.

“Rafe said you wanted to speak with me?” Olivia questioned warily as she came to a halt at the table. Gabriel had finished his conversation with Kristoff at some point and had moved over to the table. Apparently I was so engrossed in my sketching that I didn’t even notice him and Rafe having a quiet conversation.

“Yes, Miss Maliki. How about we have a seat?” Gabriel suggested in his sultry voice, motioning towards a chair across from me. I noted a hint of exhaustion in his voice, probably unnoticed by the others since they weren’t as familiar with him. I wondered if the blood transfusion he’d provided for his injured Guardian was taking its toll on him and added another worry to the growing list for my subconscious to mull over.

Trying to remain focused on what was happening, I watched as Olivia hesitantly joined us at the table. Kristoff remained by the door, but he caught my eye briefly and gave me a small smile that perked me up a little. Then he was turning towards the entrance, appearing to take up a stance to ensure no one came down while we talked.

Gabriel claimed the seat on the other side of me, his outward appearance portraying his typical calm and somewhat aloof demeanor. But I did observe a slight paleness to his skin tone and a tightness around his eyes that were not normal. I kept silent, though, and Gabriel started to say something when Kristoff spoke up, “Mr. Maliki’s here, Master Gabriel.”

“Please have him come in,” Gabriel returned, sounding a little surprised. Peter had left to go check on his mate, Malia, and newborn son after we’d ended the earlier meeting.

“Sorry to interrupt, but I saw Livvie heading this way and thought I’d join you,” Peter shared as he entered the room, practically filling it with his massive build and Alpha aura. I was grateful to not see his Beta, Eli Benson, with him. I still couldn’t quite get the image of his naked body out of my head after the attack was initially over and didn’t want to deal with seeing him right now.

“Not a problem, Peter. How’s Malia and your son?” Gabriel inquired politely.

“Doing just fine. Upset by what happened of course, but they’re safe,” Peter shared, settling into the chair next to Olivia. Throwing me a friendly grin, he asked, “Have I missed anything?"

“No, we were just about to begin,” Gabriel informed him while I tried unsuccessfully to keep my cheeks from turning red at Peter’s friendliness. He’d shared with us during a previous meeting that I had a scent that was near identical to what a mate smells like for a Lycan and apparently every Lycan I’ve encountered has briefly mistaken me for their mate, Olivia and Rafe included. Still didn’t fully understand that concept and hoped I could learn more about it at some point.

“Miss Maliki, I wished to speak with you about a position of employment I’d like to offer you,” Gabriel began and I put my focus on Olivia to see what her reaction would be. When she didn’t say anything, he continued hesitantly, “This is something I’ve not done before, but I am in need of a Guardian that can protect Ellie. A female Guardian. And Mr. Gibson suggested you for the position.”

“No,” Olivia declared rather firmly, surprising me.

“No?” Gabriel questioned, apparently as caught off guard as I was.

“No. I’m not going to be some Guardian for some Vamp,” she retorted, looking disgusted at the mere idea.

I could feel Gabriel tense up next to me and quickly jumped in, “You wouldn’t be his Guardian, Olivia. You’d be protecting me.”

“Oh,” she responded, looking confused and sour to the idea. After a pause, she pointed out, “But he’s the one offering the position.”

“True,” I agreed. “But he wouldn’t be the one you’d answer to; it would be me. As much as I don’t want a Guardian, I’m at a point where I’m not going to have a choice on that anymore. So, if I have to have one, I’d really like it to be you and I hope you’ll consider it,” I told her truthfully.

“Why do you need a Guardian? Because you’re dating him?” she asked, looking from me to Gabriel and back again.

Yep, my face turned the color of my auburn hair and I adamantly responded, “No, that’s not why!”

Rafe was snickering next to me and I not so gently kicked his ankle as Gabriel ignored her questioning and my reaction, stating instead, “I need to know whether you’re interested in the position before we’ll divulge why she’s needing protection.”

“Do you know what’s going on?” she asked Peter, who was looking amused at what was unfolding.

“Yeah, I do. And I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have protecting Ellie than you, Olivia. She really does need the protection and I’d really like having one of my Pack providing it,” Peter responded sincerely.

“It’s true, Olivia,” Rafe added firmly. “I don’t want anything happening to Ellie and I know you could protect her.”

Olivia’s golden gaze shifted around, taking all of us in. She was obviously torn, wanting to know what the big secret was and wanting to believe her Alpha and her brother had a good reason for asking this of her.

“Is this like a twenty-four/seven thing?” she asked hesitantly and I hoped that meant she was warming to the idea.

“No. In fact, Ellie had suggested the possibility of you teaching some classes at the university. I feel confident of Ellie’s safety while on the university grounds; it would just be when she was off campus that you would need to be with her,” Gabriel clarified.

“You mean, I would be a full professor at the university?” she inquired, sounding hopeful at the prospect.

“Well, no, probably an assistant…”

“No,” she interrupted firmly.

“No?” Gabriel parroted, obviously taken aback. At least I’d dealt with Olivia some and knew how blunt she could be, especially if she had a point to get across.

“No. I have a Ph.D. in Mechatronics, thank you very much. I already have an offer or two here in Australia for teaching as a full professor. If I am even to consider returning to Dark Hollow and being Ellie’s Guardian… which I have not decided yet… I would want a full professorship,” she argued and I could see Peter nodding proudly at what she was saying.

“I’m not doubting your credentials, Miss Maliki…” Gabriel began, seeming a bit off his game. Most of the time, things didn’t rattle him, but the interactions up to now seemed to have thrown him off kilter and that confused me. Plus, I couldn’t figure out why he was resisting the idea of having her in a professorship position.

“And its Dr. Maliki, actually,” Olivia interrupted, pointing out for me how off his game Gabriel was. Normally, Vamps, Gabriel especially, were highly sensitive to titles. They were all about formality, but even after being told she had her Ph.D., Gabriel still slipped up by not using the honorific.

Observing him a little worriedly, I noticed Gabriel took an obvious pause as if to gather his thoughts before glancing at Peter, who nodded his head in confirmation and spoke up, “She’s right, Gabriel. Olivia does have her doctorates from Sydney University… was top in her classes and graduated full honors. She’s one of my most intelligent Pack members and I’m damn proud of her. And it is true that she has those offers from some really prestigious universities here. So, what seems to be the problem?”

“There is no problem, Peter. I just don’t…” Gabriel began again, almost defensively.

“Oh my god, I do not understand why you’re hesitating! Make it a full professorship, Gabriel,” I interrupted this time in exasperation, not wanting to lose Olivia because he was stalling for whatever reason.

Gabriel turned to me in astonishment and I hurriedly explained before he got pissy with me, “She appears to be more than qualified, Gabriel. I mean, she and Peter wouldn’t lie about something like that. Besides, I obviously can’t pay her salary as a Guardian, so a full professorship would make up for that, right?”

Staring at me for several long moments, I tried not to fidget as he leaned close and uttered softly, “Were you made Dean of Faculty when I wasn’t looking, Miss Marshall?”

Oops… probably should have found a better way to approach this. But it was out there now and I wasn’t one to back down when it was really important, even when Gabriel went all scary soft voice on me.

“No, of course not,” I responded in a low voice. “But I still think she should be offered a full professorship. I really would like for her to be my Guardian, Gabriel. I trust her. So, I want to make sure she’s taken care of since I obviously don’t have the financial means yet to take care of her myself.”

His cerulean gaze held me captive as he seemed to ponder what I was saying. As the staring contest stretched out, I absently noticed again how off he appeared physically. A part of me felt bad for haranguing him when he obviously had a lot on his plate. But another part of me knew that having Olivia as my Guardian was the way to go and if this made it happen, I was willing to fight for it.

He must have realized I wasn’t going to back down because he surprised me when he didn’t argue any further. Instead, he gave a slight nod of his head and turned his focus to Olivia to respond, “Very well, then. A full professorship, Dr. Maliki. We’ll have to work out the details of which department you’ll teach in and such, if that is acceptable?”

“That’s acceptable,” she agreed with a nod, Peter looking like a proud father.

After a moment’s pause, Gabriel inquired, “So, will you accept the Guardian position?”

Seeing Olivia continue to hesitate, I offered, “Olivia, you wouldn’t be a typical Guardian like the Vampires have. Rather a special protector for just me. I’m sure you would need to know how the Guardians operate, but you would not be in a Guardian detail or assignment. More just making sure nothing bad happens to me. Maybe not even called a Guardian, but a special agent or something.”

I heard Rafe snicker softly again, this time at the special agent bit, and knocked my foot against his in warning even as I tried not to laugh at myself. Good grief, I made it sound like she was going to be the next James Bond, only female and a Lycan.

Olivia eyed me thoughtfully for a few moments and must have seen something in my anxious face that finally made her respond, “Okay, I’ll accept being Ellie’s special agent. But only so long as I’m her special agent, no one else’s.”

Huh… guess she really liked the idea of being called a special agent. As Gabriel assured her that she would only be protecting me, I couldn’t stop the relieved smile from blossoming on my face and I uttered a sincere, “Thank you,” to her as soon as he finished speaking, making a mental note to make sure she understood just how appreciative I was when I got the chance.

For now, the thank you seemed to be enough and she straightened up and leaned forward before asking, “Alright, so what’s the big secret?”

Gabriel placed a hand on my arm, probably to keep me from blurting everything out, and shared solemnly, “This must be kept quiet, Dr. Maliki. Not for anyone outside of this room. Ellie could be placed in great danger if certain individuals were to learn of her ability and I will not accept that. Do you understand?”

She seemed a little taken aback at his seriousness, but she nodded and stated firmly, “I won’t share with anyone.”

Gabriel removed his hand and continued, “Ellie is a Seer, Dr. Maliki. She has visions of the future. And those visions typically come true within a day or two.”

“Really? I thought Seers were myths,” she responded in surprise, looking to Peter for confirmation.

“I believe we all did, Livvie, but Ellie’s the real deal. I’ve seen her drawings… hell, she had a vision of the attack that happened today. We have her to thank for there not being even more deaths,” Peter told her, his face serious and his tone somber. Then a more mischievous look came over his rugged features as he encouraged, “Oh, and give her whiff. Notice how she smells like your life mate? Only a Seer has that, I’m pretty confident.”

I blushed and fidgeted uncomfortably when Olivia turned her gaze back on me. I still was having trouble reconciling that I couldn’t have prevented the deaths that had occurred, but that was for me to deal with. After a moment, and a sniff that had me wanting to sink through the floor in embarrassment, there was a look of astonishment and she finally uttered, “That’s remarkable.” I’m not sure which aspect she was in awe of and didn’t think this was the time to clarify with her.

“There are many things we will need to fill you in on where Ellie’s ability is concerned, Dr. Maliki. For now, all you need to know is that she is a Seer, she is highly revered in our society which also makes her highly sought after, and there are individuals that would try to take her for their own purposes. So, we wish to protect her as best we can while still providing Ellie with as much freedom as possible. And to do this, we must keep the number of those in the know to a minimum. At least for now,” Gabriel explained.

“I understand. So, what happens now?” Olivia asked.

“Well, if you and Peter are amenable, I’d like for you to accompany us when we return to New Zealand tomorrow to continue with the ongoing conference. This would allow us to begin to introduce you to the ways of the Guardians and give you and Ellie some time to become acquainted before we return to Dark Hollow University. Would you be amenable to meeting us at the hotel tomorrow morning and returning with us?” Gabriel inquired.

She looked to Peter again and he nodded as he encouraged, “It’s for the best, Olivia. The sooner you can get familiarized with things, the sooner you’ll be more effective in protecting Ellie.”

“But what about what’s going on here?” she questioned anxiously. “I don’t just want to up and abandon everyone.”

“You’re not abandoning anyone,” Peter assured her firmly. “We’ve got this covered. You need to be wherever Ellie is, keeping her safe. As your Alpha, that’s where I want you. And don’t worry about money right now; I’ll transfer some funds to your account and you can return it later after your settled in at your new job.”

I could see Olivia struggling, no doubt torn between needing to be here for her Pack and wanting to please her Alpha. But she finally responded, “Okay, but it doesn’t mean I like it.”

“Never said you had to,” he told her gently and she nodded. Then he told Gabriel, “I’ll make sure Olivia is at the hotel tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you, Peter. And thank you, Dr. Maliki, for agreeing to come with us,” Gabriel told them. Then he turned to Rafe and asked, “Are you coming back with us, Mr. Gibson?”

“No, I think I’ll stay here, see where I can be of help. Plus, I still got questions for Peter. So, I’ll return to the university when I’m done here,” Rafe answered in a tone that told all of us not to argue with him.

Gabriel only hesitated slightly before responding, “Very well. Just take care of yourself. And contact me if you need anything.”

“I will,” Rafe assured him and Gabriel nodded.

“Well, I believe that is all for now. I’m sure you would like to get back to the rest of your Pack, Peter. And Dr. Maliki, we’ll be leaving the hotel at eight tomorrow morning to return to New Zealand,” Gabriel informed her.

“I’ll be there,” she told him and gave me a nod and Rafe a smile before leaving.

After speaking a few moments with Rafe, Peter wished us all a safe trip back to New Zealand and then excused himself to check on his Pack. I chatted briefly with Rafe before he had to leave, grumbling about having to check in with Diana regarding his injuries, and then Gabriel encouraged me to gather my things. Apparently, he was ready to check on Michael, the Guardian who had gotten seriously injured, and then we were going to head back to the hotel. And that was alright with me as I was ready to get away from everything for a while.

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