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Early summer, 2585
She loved to come to the lake. Nowhere else on earth was so beautiful and cool. Sunlight shimmered on the water and played chase with the golden ripples that dipped behind the shadows cast by stately redwood trees, only to emerge a heartbeat later and begin its game once again. The trees surrounding the lake were ancient now, born before the two thousand year wars.
Perhaps it was her father who made this place seem special, who created the magic. He was wonderful and good. He cared deeply for his family and his friends. But more than that, he worked hard to uphold the laws of the cities and to bring understanding between the City Dwellers and the outsiders.
He had promised her, had obtained the passes needed to go outside the perimeter of the virus-free bubble that protected them. She had been so proud when he handed her the permit.
"Victoria, I'm giving you this for safe keeping," he'd told her. "Now, don't lose the pass. Without this little piece of paper both you and Vanessa will have to stay home and I'll be forced to swim alone."
But her father was a busy and important man. Minutes before they meant to depart for the lake, he was called away on something vital, matters of state that had to be taken care of immediately.
She and Vanessa watched him leave. Yet they had the treasured passes in hand. There was no reason Tori could think of that she and her twin should stay home. They left the sterile confines of the City to swim and play, just as they had planned.
Oh, and it was such a beautiful day. Vanessa's giggle slipped across the deep blue surface and seemed to dive beneath, as if following her twin in a careless display of frivolity. Nessa's dark blond curls broke the surface of the water. She shook her head. Droplets flew into the air then shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. They caught rainbows of light and melded with their source. Laughter rippled again.
Tori dove then quickly emerged from the mysterious depths; with strokes synchronized perfectly, they swam to the farthest point of land. Reaching shallow water, they waded ashore, oblivious to everything except the beauty of the day.
"I wish father had been here." Nessa's small breathy voice lost itself in the towering trees and thick foliage.
"He had important business." Something was about to happen. Tori sensed it--some sudden stillness in the air, something that warned her.
Nessa DeMontville cast an exasperated glance at her twin who moved past her toward a huge granite rock that loomed almost ten feet above the earth. Another boulder soared higher.
"He promised us, and it has been so long."
"Sometimes he doesn't have a choice." To Tori, the forest had suddenly turned quiet--too quiet.
"Are you sure it was alright for us to come without him?"
"We have the passes," Tori said, scarcely able to breathe.
Nessa shook her head. "Yes, but..."
"I rest my case." She crossed her arms in front of her.
Tori patted the rock next to her. "I promise as soon as we dry off, we'll go home. Come on, join me."
Nessa looked from her clothes to the sun-warmed rock. After a few seconds, her gaze drifted back to her sister. Nessa trembled, and Tori knew her sister was afraid.
"I suppose we'll have to sneak in through the tower window," Nessa said.
"Only because it's so much fun," Tori replied.
The tower she spoke of stood guard over Tower City, an ancient reminder of a time long past. It looked over a larger arm of the lake they now enjoyed. A small, hidden door located at the tower's base enabled the girls to escape the stifling confines of the City.
No one had the freedom to come and go from the City, as they pleased; no one except physicians. Since the last outbreak of the deadly signe virus, most travel was forbidden and permits were given only to a chosen few.
Tori lifted her face to the sun, intent on the precious moments she had left.
"I'm sorry Nessa, truly I am. If I'd realized you didn't want to go, I wouldn't have asked. Now that you're here, you have two choices; go up the ladder or walk through the gates. But then Father will know within minutes."
"So he will be angry?" Nessa asked.
"I don't know. Why did you agree to come with me?"
Nessa's head shot up. Her grey eyes clouded. "I couldn't let you go alone. What if something happened to you?"
Tori smiled tenderly then just as suddenly sobered. "You worry too much. Remember, we have passes and Father did approve this outing."
"But that's because he planned to be here."
Out of the corner of one eye, Tori watched her sister slip out of her swimsuit and struggle into her clothes. Nessa pulled on the form-fitting black body suit, wriggling to get into it. After that, she tugged at the bodice until the material flattened all her newly blossomed curves. Her dark blue tunic slithered over her head and rested an inch above her knees. Nessa buckled the wide silver belt she always wore before she buttoned the two remaining buttons, fastening them securely below her chin.
Nessa waited and tapped her foot impatiently. To Tori, it looked as if Nessa waited for her to climb from the rock and dress, but Tori didn't want to leave.
"Are you coming?" Nessa asked finally.
"Another minute. The sun feels so warm and..."
Thunder boomed in the mountains far to the east and instantly the sky sizzled, turning the air sultry. Clouds billowed over the mountains and formed huge dark figures. The noise from the burgeoning summer storm eclipsed all other sounds.
Something awful was about to happen. Suddenly anxious to be home, Tori rose.
She slid off her sunny perch and scrambled into her clothes. Loose fitting breeches and a lightweight cotton shirt slipped over clean fresh skin, a sharp contrast to her sister's attire. She quickly tugged on her boots, hobbling on one foot then the other. When she finished, she straightened, brushing dusty hands on her pants.
"Race you to the cross roads." Tori started across the stream. One foot landed in the bubbling creek with a loud splash, the other landed squarely on the other side. The exhilaration left her breathless, and she gave no heed to the racket she caused, racing across the summer-dried forest.
A sharp cry pierced the woods. The scream was followed by the sharp report of a bullet. Both girls fell to the ground and froze. After several terrifying seconds passed without another shot, they raced for cover.
Lightning scorched across the sky. Rain threatened. Black clouds filled the horizon, blocking out the sun.
Annie for Euro Reviews writes:
Rebel Heart is a well-written futuristic novel of a time that very possibly could come to pass, when viral plagues have laid the planet waste, and life is lived either in the sterile confines of domed habitats, or as pariahs in the outside wilderness. The world-building is excellent, vivid, and true-to-life. The characters will quickly catch and hold the reader's sympathies. The plot is quick, and takes time to examine many valid social, economic, class, and political issues as well. Christine Young delivers a winner which will capture the interest of futuristic/science fiction fans as well as the general reader.
Jasmina Vallombrosa for TCM Reviews writes:
Filled with drama and suspense, this book will draw you into the mysteries of science fiction. I was pleasantly surprised by Ms. Young’s storytelling talents as she wove not only a wonderful futuristic adventure, but also that of a passionate love story. I loved the main characters as they came to life on the pages. The plot was quite suspenseful and deliciously entertaining. As a result, I had no choice but to keep flipping the pages as I raced to the end. Bravo Ms.Young for such an extraordinary book from cover to cover!
ALSO BY CHRISTINE YOUNG
Are you ready for adventure, love, time travel and more? This novel has it all and will NOT let you down. Christine Young's "Straight to Heaven" is about Alexandra McMurdie, a girl from our modern 21st Century, who stumbles into a time-traveling vortex as she's running for her life. It is there, in the 1800s, where Alexandra doesn't expect to find someone like James Lawrence.
All I can really and truthfully say about this novel was that I loved it. Every minute of it; every raced heartbeat as Alexandra and James connected, discovered, fought for themselves - for love. I'm a huge fan of time-traveling with a pinch of love and adventure, and Ms. Young delivers. I enjoyed the dialogue between Alex and James throughout the novel SO much. James Lawrence was probably by far, one of my favorite characters in the entire novel of "Straight to Heaven." Ms. Young offers a developed world, well-rounded and developed characters - with an exciting and fantastically romantic plot.
This story grabbed my attention from the moment I started to read the novel, and held my attention to the very last page (and even so, left me wanting only to read more about James and Alex.) I was so sad to have the novel end, leaving behind such fantastically creative characters.
"Straight to Heaven" offers a new look to the Western States after the Civil War with the twist of time.
If this novel doesn't send you "Straight to Heaven" - I'm not sure what will.
I HIGHLY recommend this wonderfully romantic novel to anyone who enjoys danger, adventure, and of course - a bit of Time Travel ;)
Well done, Ms. Young!
Running from demons, Alexandra McMurdie stumbles into Forbidden Ground where up is down and elements of nature are contested. Though a strong independent woman in the twenty-first century' she is unprepared for life in the 1800s. Her first sight of the formidable James Lawrence makes her heart skip a beat, giving her cause to reconsider her desperate need to find a way home.
Born with a silver spoon, James’ life was torn apart during the War Between the States. Moving west he vows to put the life he once knew in the past. When he discovers a half-frozen woman near Gold Hill, his heart begins to thaw. His love for Alexandra and his need to keep her from a man who has pursued her through time might cost him his life as well as hers.