AN: The "missing" last chapter of Shadowland has haunted me ever since I hit refresh on my browser and saw the story was gone ::great wailing::. I wrote this fanfic a while back in an attempt to get it out of my system.
I'm sure I haven't remembered some of the story elements correctly. And this probably won't make much sense to you if you didn't get to read the original Shadowland.
I very much respect Karen Chance's decision to do what she felt was best for her and her work. I applaud the courage it must have taken to remove Shadowland from her web site given all of us rabid fans out there. Mostly, I appreciate the large number of excellent and free stories she has given us. Please don't nag her about when she's going to make Shadowland available again.
Disclaimer: The characters and world in this story are from the Cassandra Palmer Series by Karen Chance. I'm just playing.
John's sense of touch returned first.
It was a nasty side effect of the translocation spell he used for traveling from the demon realms back to earth. For a terrifying few moments after arriving at his destination, his normal human senses didn't work. Hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste all quickly returned, but never in the same order.
He winced as the pain from his injured leg and cracked ribs throbbed to life. He knew he held something warm and smooth in his hand. A ceramic cup?
The smell of freshly brewed coffee came next, quickly followed by the hum of the air conditioner and the muffled voices of the vampire guards from the next room.
Sight returned last.
He blinked until his vision adjusted to the harsh Vegas sun streaming through the wall of windows that lined the master bedroom in the penthouse suite at Dante's. A small blonde woman sat on the end of the giant bed across from him. Messy curls hid her eyes as she looked down at something on her lap.
The woman looked up, and Cassie's frightened blue eyes stared back at him. John froze. The shock of seeing her alive was a sucker punch all over again to his senses, more disorienting than translocating from Hell. He forced himself to breathe and evaluate the evidence in front of him.
He'd been afraid to believe Casanova's crazy story about time looping and islands of time. But proof was wearing a pretty red blouse and sitting right in front of him. Cassie was alive. The thought sent another jolt through him. He tamped down on the hope swelling in his chest. He'd been wrong about this before.
She was holding one of the brightly wrapped presents from the pile next to her. Just like last time.
"No!" In an eerie moment of déjà vu, he lunged forward, dropping his full cup of coffee. Fear constricted his throat making his warning more of a growl than a shout.
Unlike last time, she seemed to realize something wasn't right. Dropping the present, she sprang off the bed, a look of horror on her face. Instead of falling to the ground, the package hovered in the air. Good. She'd managed to stop time for both of them.
John grabbed her by the arm and jerked her away, putting himself and his shields between her body and the floating, gift-wrapped bomb.
Bright blue eyes frowned up at him. "Where were you?" A small fist bounced off his bicep.
Relief flowed through his body. This wasn't a Rakshasha or a shape-shifting nymph. This was his Cassie. His stubborn, irritating, annoying, pain-in-the-side Cassie. He hadn't realized he'd tightened his hold on her arm until that sweet, angry voice protested, "Ow!"
"It's a brimstone bomb. Shift away. Now!" he ordered, giving her a shove so they were no longer touching. It hurt to let her go.
"What, like that magic sulphur from hell?"
"Yes, now get out of here."
"And leave you with that thing? I don't think so."
"You won't be able to keep time stopped for us much longer. Get away, and I'll take care of this."
"Not going to happen, so you'd better tell me how we get rid of that thing."
"We don't. It's been activated, and I'm not sure I can stop the explosion."
John saw the anger fade from her face. Her eyes went flat and an unnatural calm came over her. It's what he thought of as her vampire face, and he hated it. A new fear gripped his chest. She was going to be stubborn.
"Then where do I put it so it doesn't kill everybody when it goes off?"
He knew it. She was considering shifting out with the bomb. He raked his hand through his hair. If he could've knocked her out and put her somewhere safe before the bomb went off, he would have. But it wasn't one of his options.
Cassie only glared harder at him, as if she could tell what he was thinking. He took a deep breath and tried to use his calm voice. Reason was all he had left. It rarely worked with her, but he had to try.