The Light Bringer’s Way Release Date: August 2012
Chapter One: Acuity
The truck engine shook to a halt and I heard the door wrench open with a loud squeak. Suddenly, I was moving up in the air. It caught me off guard that Reid had decided to carry me and it compounded my feeling of helplessness. I struggled to get down and he tightened his grip. “I can walk, Reid!” I snapped.
“It’s almost noon and I’m not wasting any time getting you to Dr. West,” Reid muttered tightly. “I’ll gladly toss you over my shoulder if you are worried about too much special treatment but I might point out this isn’t the first time you couldn’t see and had to trust me.” Reid’s voice was as firm and resolute as his stride. I was trained to recognize what I could and could not change and to conserve energy by not wasting time on the latter. Arguing with Reid that a removable blindfold on a boat was not the same as being blinded after a jaunt through a nuclear reactor wouldn’t help me. Reid was not going to put me down.
The clanging of bells filled the air and I heard the unmistakable chimes of the Glockenspiel clock tower. I did not need my sight to know we were in Munich, Germany. At least I had my hearing and my other senses, I optimistically told myself. Optimism was a survival skill and I had to find something positive to turn this adversity into my advantage. I had done that with my nut allergy and could credit it with forcing me to make deliberate food choices. As a result, I was healthier and more aware of environment. Change was not bad—it was the inability to adapt that was bad. If my blindness was not something that could be fixed, then it was another obstacle to overcome. I simply needed to figure out how to do it.
Dr. West took command as soon as Reid and I entered the safe house. He told Reid to put me on the bed in the master bedroom. I mentally raced into Dr. West’s mind and told him I felt fine—except I was unable to see. The room was full of familiar voices talking over each other trying to explain what had happened. Helga pulled out her portable dosimeter to show Dr. West there was no radiation and Reid refused to let go of my arm.
To my surprise, Dr. West telepathically answered me that he needed to do a quick blood draw. I felt the needle punch into my arm and he cursed as the vein rolled. Another jab went into the top of my hand. He was not messing around. “In case you didn’t notice, I’m not a cadaver!” I protested. The cold needle found its mark and I felt the pressure of the blood leaving my vein.
“No time for jokes, Whitney,” he answered aloud. “I need to get a complete blood count to check for internal bleeding.” Then he fired off questions—did I have any vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, or nausea? I was grateful I could respond “no” to his interrogation, realizing that the ride back in the truck could have been even worse than I imagined.
Reid was recounting what happened while we were in the reactor and, even without my sight, I sensed Dr. West’s percolating anger. I had braced myself for his telepathic explosion, “What were you thinking, Whitney? You went INSIDE the reactor?” I could take his anger at me but once he began to vent on his wavelength that Reid was a terrible guardian I lost it.
Furious, I telepathically yelled back, “At least we came back alive! You knew Reid was not supposed to return and you did nothing about it. The future is always changing and you could have done more than watch him drive off to his death!”
Helga was running another dosimeter scan over me while Dr. West explained to everyone else in the room he was checking for acute radiation syndrome. Meanwhile, our telepathic conversation continued and I crisply suggested he stop jabbing me for a second so I could explain what I thought was going on with my vision and he tartly asked me where I received my medical degree.
I found my voice and responded aloud, “Oh good. I guess I can assume I am not dying. You wouldn’t ruin my final moments of being alive by essentially calling me an idiot and telling me you are too busy to let me give you my opinion.”
Dr. West took a deep breath before he answered me.
“Perhaps it is hysterical blindness then, Dr. Whitney. A conversion disorder that presents with neurological symptoms such as numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fits without a neurological cause. It’s a stress response considered by most to be a psychiatric disorder,” Dr. West zinged at me as he peeled back an eyelid. I heard the click of his little flashlight and smelled his Aqua Velva as he loomed over me.
“OK. If the shoe fits. Although you made quite a mistake picking a psychiatric screw-up for the leader of Sunrise. Somehow, I have the feeling the pure energy that released into the atmosphere has a more direct impact since that was approximately the same time I went blind.” I channeled my anger that I couldn’t see the light I was sure he was shining in my eyes into a blistering verbal punch.
Dr. West paused for a moment in his examination. “Go on,” he said thoughtfully. I had finally caught his attention. I crossed over into his mind and saw him reviewing the chart of the psychic who died in the experiment ten years ago. The name on the file was Marlin Steele and it had a picture of a black man with dark brown eyes and an amiable grin stapled to the inside. The chart listed his precognitive gifts, great intelligence and his incredible eyesight.
“Dr. Cohen said Einstein’s theory of relativity was the basis of your pure energy lab experiment and string theory, right? Well, if energy cannot be created or destroyed and only changed, then I think when the pure energy transferred into a gas I absorbed some of it from the atmosphere. The released pure energy is improving or enhancing me somehow. My eyes feel like they are tingling,” I tried to explain. “I think the psychic who died—his evolved DNA is part of the pure energy and that has changed my eyes.” I spoke aloud so Reid, Helga, and Mr. Parks could figure out what was going on between Dr. West and me. There was a moment of surprised silence.
“If you absorbed some of Marlin’s pure energy and also acquired some of his phenomenal eyesight, remind me never to play you in tennis. Not only could he physically see better than anyone on the planet, he was immune to sun blindness. He could serve with the sun in his eyes and never miss the ball,” Dr. West said in whispered disbelief. “Marlin was a great friend of mine. He was a wonderfully bright and intelligent man. It made his death from the experiment Stephen Cohen and I conducted to capture pure energy that much more horrific, if that was possible. Of course, I never would have tried it if I thought it would have harmed him. I am amazed the pure energy in the vial contained some of his evolved genetic abilities or that Whitney would be able to utilize them. Another case of time bringing the truth to light and spotlighting my ignorance.” Dr. West’s arms fell to his sides as he recognized my vision was beyond an issue of medical science.
There was hurt in his voice and I regretted verbally swiping at him earlier. I was frustrated and tired and I lashed out at him because I knew he would forgive me. It was no excuse, but before I could apologize Mr. Parks interrupted my thoughts. “Unfortunately, we are all human, Reginald. As I like to say, there are no mistakes, only lessons. We have learned a great deal because you have made the best choices you could with the information you had. It is always better to do something rather than nothing. So, Whitney’s blindness is only temporary?” Mr. Parks verified from the back of the room. His quiet but steady focus reminded us all to concentrate on the problem at hand.
“Yes. Everything else seems normal, including, for better or for worse, the patient’s fiery temperament. I think if Whitney’s body is able to extract and use Marlin’s pure energy, then her eyesight will eventually become better than it was before. All that remains is when she will regain it. Her eyes are responding to light and they don’t appear damaged. I’m the only person left who may still need treatment—Reid gave me a heart attack when I saw him carrying her inside like a rag doll.”
“Are you sure it was not Reid himself that gave you the heart attack? That must have been a shock to see him,” I mentioned to Dr. West privately through my mind.
He silently answered me, “It’s not that I didn’t want him to come back. His future is linked to yours and I cannot see everything. You must be mindful that when you risk your life, you are risking the lives of many others as well. There is no Sunrise without you, Whitney. Don’t doubt me on that.”
The reminder that I had Sunrise members depending on me while I could not see anything felt overwhelming. I took a deep breath and asked myself my survival camp instructor’s favorite question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer was piece by piece and it was a good reminder not to take on too many problems at once. I tried not to let myself feel incompetent without my vision but it was a difficult adjustment.
Mr. Parks clapped his hands and said it was time for Reid and me to practice. It made sense to replenish our chi with our breathing exercises and meditation. It caught me off guard when he suggested a rematch. What?
“But I can’t see anything,” I groaned as I sat up in bed. To my dismay, Reid grabbed my hand and led me out of the room. The muffled reverberations of the bedroom were replaced with cooler air and the scrapping echo of someone sliding furniture around a large room. I tensed as I sensed the expansive dimensions of the new location and heard Reid laughing.
“Don’t worry, I’ll go easy on you. Besides, your lack of sight seems fair enough to me. It is one less way for you to cheat, which seems to happen every time we compete.” His smugness that he had won this match before it began was starting to annoy me as did his light rub of my shoulders as if to warm me up before he walked away. Well, I had news for him. I was not going to make it easy for him just because I couldn’t see. Mr. Parks often said, “Get knocked down seven times, get up eight.” I was not a quitter.
“Whitney, Reginald was correct that there is no day off for you anymore. That is why when you find yourself with an obstacle you practice going over it. You never know when you will need to know your enemy even when you cannot see him and this is a chance to have one less thing you have to fear,” Mr. Parks directed and not allowing me any room for negotiation.
I inhaled Reid’s woodsy scent coming closer to me again. He playfully tapped me on the shoulder and then talked to me from the other side. “I don’t know, Mr. Parks. This is going to be too easy. I don’t think I can spar her,” Reid taunted, directly in front of me.
He snapped his fingers on either side of me and I did not move but listened to his watch as his arm came toward me again. I caught it in midair. There was laughter in his voice as he said, “Whoa. Maybe this match will be more of the caliber I am used to. You do have the upper hand of not being distracted by my muscles and elegant fighting style.”
Reid was doing a good job of being obnoxious to try and make anger cloud my mind. This was something a crane would do to a panther in an attempt to cause them to lose focus and energy before the match. Reid was succeeding in making me angry, but I was using the anger to fuel my determination.
“I need different clothes,” I said, effectively agreeing in a calm voice. I was wearing the silk pajamas Helga gave me after I passed through the decontamination process. They were comfortable while we were riding in the truck but I didn’t know if I could fight in them.
“Yeah. It would be better for me as well if you changed out of those slinky black pajamas. Something bulky and ugly is a much better idea. Maybe a snowsuit?” Reid suggested causally. I heard Mr. Parks cluck his tongue at Reid. It was one of his habits that served as a warning. Reid was pushing me to the limit.
My blood was boiling but I outwardly kept my cool as I answered. “Never mind. It’s fine. It doesn’t matter to me what I am wearing while I beat him.” I tried to orient myself to the room. My mind shifted to figure out how to best adapt to my situation while my senses and intuition became razor sharp. It would be hard for me to find him and my best bet was to find a way to make contact with him and not let go.
I held out my fists, waiting for him to tap them and signal the start of the match. I listened for the ticking of his diving watch and the sound of his breathing while I formulated a strategy. His footwork was fast and agile so I needed to go for either his torso or his arms.
Reid was slowly walking around the perimeter of the room and I used the sound of his footsteps to get a sense of the space. His lack of action was frustrating me and that was his goal. Frustration is a weapon to provoke mistakes and as a crane fighter, Reid would first try to make me beat myself. He wanted me to come for him to get the match started and be at a disadvantage.
Instead, I sighed and pretended I was bored to try to try and goad him into attacking me. I wanted to appear small and helpless so I sat down and rested on the balls of my feet with my arms extended in small fists. Compact, I would conserve my energy and could somersault or spring up once Reid crouched down to tap my fists and start the match.
Nothing happened so I yawned to exaggerate the impression his plan was working. I pretended to stretch my neck from side to side as I moved my ears to place him in the room. Interestingly, the ticking of his watch was coming from one location but his breathing was behind me. He had taken off his watch and I smiled slightly at the compliment. He knew it would be harder for me to catch his scent when I was facing the opposite way and that I would use his watch to place his location. He considered me a formidable opponent.
Next, I started whistling and kept my head focused on where he left his watch. The calf muscles of my legs quivered in readiness. I was mentally prepared for him now that I realized I would not be fighting in my usual panther style. For this match, I would call upon my knowledge of one of the other classic Shaolin animals and use everything I could remember about how to fight like the snake.
A snake stylist fights low to the ground and uses accuracy, speed, and timing. They try to allow only one contact—but to make it count. That was the key to my strategy. When he made contact with me I would need to attack since I would have difficulty finding him again.
My plan was to grab his arm and try to hit a pressure point on his side with a middle knuckle punch. If I connected, it would give him what is called dead arm and hurt enough that I could take him off guard and sweep his legs. Ideally, the match would be over in a few seconds.
Tap. He swiftly touched my fists and then I heard him move fast to the right. My opportunity to hit the pressure point was moot. He had anticipated me and was too quick on his feet. I rolled to the left to create space away from him but remained low to the ground. Standing left me too vulnerable and I could deflect him with my feet more powerfully than with a punch. One good kick was my only hope to end the match.
My options were dwindling and my mind was working overtime as I allowed my instinct and intuition to help me gauge the situation. I sensed Reid would try to go around me and use a grappling technique or a wrestling hold instead of a punch or kick. Luckily, I was already on the floor so he couldn’t throw or take me down but to succeed in this match I couldn’t get caught.
I could hear Reid’s breathing and I remained frozen and waited for his move. My silk pajama top tugged ever so slightly under the weight of his foot and it gave me the blueprint to his plan. He would try to pin me by using my clothes to trap me to the surface. This was called a staple hold and he could easily follow it with a cradle hold, which would press me with his weight into the ground. He was too heavy for me to move and that would end the match…except I wasn’t ready to give up.
He had only caught one side of my shirt and I could spring this trap if I slipped out of my top. I did it without hesitation. My focus was to escape defeat and to buy myself time. Reid took a deep breath of surprise and I crossed into his mind to see what had startled him.
I saw we were in an enormous hall of russet-colored wood panels. On the walls were old-world tapestries that wove striking mountain vistas out of colorful thread. The floor-to-ceiling windows were cloaked in heavy drapes that swirled in a brocade of cinnamon and gold. I was standing in front of the glass windowpanes with the sun behind me.
Aside from my breathing, I looked like a statue, listening intently to try to figure out Reid’s location. My skin glowed from underneath the black lace camisole tank top that I wore under my shirt. The French lace hugged my curves in a flattering fit that had stunned Reid like a punch. That must have been why I was looking in Reid’s general direction—I could feel him pulling me to him with his eyes.
Reid’s ability to see had been my defense. That’s when I realized I could have seen the room the entire time. If I had crossed into Reid’s mind, I could have fought the match through his eyes. Mr. Parks had crafted a powerful lesson and I learned even when I could not see, I was never blind at all.
Mr. Parks had called for a break in the match and he ordered Reid to hand me back my shirt. “You see why I would not want Whitney to fight in a tournament, Reid? Whitney, did you know you would use your clothes for your escape before the match started?”
I smiled as I answered. “No. I wanted different clothes because I didn’t feel protected in these flimsy pajamas and I thought they were a disadvantage. Like many negatives in life, they turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I spent most of the match trying to remember snake stylist techniques and how to get out of grappling holds. I knew Reid’s weight would have been too much for me. Those skills are rusty and I need to practice them.”
Reid pressed my balled-up shirt against my shoulder and I felt the pull between us. It seemed stronger without the distraction of my sight. He lingered close to me as he said, “You remain my favorite opponent.”
I slipped the shirt over my head and was glad I could not see the expressions of Reid and Mr. Parks. “Can I get changed now? These silk pajamas and I need a break from each other. I feel like I have been wearing them forever.”
Reid took my hand and rested it on his arm. “Sure. Our bags are upstairs. I’ll take you to them.” The tension I sensed in him earlier had faded away. Mr. Parks had shown both of us that nothing had changed even though I was without one of my usual abilities. It was not a lesson only for me but for Reid as well.
More of the room was coming into view and I could see the light from the windows and the dark silhouette of Mr. Parks although not the details of his facial features. Reid led me out of the room and into the dark hallway. My eyes were slow to adjust and I tightened my grip on his arm as we moved into a different part of the house.
“That’s twice in a row I have beaten you in case you forgot the score,” I teased and waited for his rebuttal. He flexed his bicep and I laughed.
“That was a draw and you know it. Lucky timing for you since you were running out of options or should I say clothing in a hurry,” Reid responded with his usual bravado and confidence. We started to climb a staircase and I could see the railing etched along the periphery. There was a window in the middle of the alcove and the light helped my struggling sight.
“Hmm. I wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel and you added fuel to my tenacity. Mr. Parks has said that to win by capture one must give up something. If you wanted to use a cradle hold, you shouldn’t have cornered me first with a staple hold. I had no choice but to mount a desperate counterattack and my response was more clever than you anticipated.”
“Whitney, I am very familiar with The Thirty-Six Stratagems and I don’t think losing your shirt was exactly what that essay had in mind. However, I am not complaining about your weapon of choice. You are a creative and clever fighter to say the least,” Reid said as we reached the top of the stairs. I heard him flick on a light switch and the hall became bright.
Lamps illuminated the glossy granite tops of the small wood tables that paraded down the corridor. Along the wall, gilded frames showcased dramatic oil paintings of pastoral scenes and competed for space with mounted deer heads and antlers. From the corner of my eye, I could make out a sparkling crystal chandelier hanging above the staircase and it glinted in the light.
Reid turned into a bedroom and let go of my arm while he walked across the room to turn on another lamp. I remained frozen as my eyes adjusted and took in my well-appointed surroundings. The room was decorated in shimmering silvers and deep plum colors. Decadent amounts of rich plum silk fabric splashed across the ornate four-poster bed and around the windows in cascading waves of opulence that pooled onto the floor. I recognized my luggage bag Helga had laid out a pair of gray suede pants and a luxurious pewter-colored sweater for me.
“This is your room and my room connects through a shared bathroom. Do you want to use the shower first?” Reid asked as he walked toward me. I was careful not to meet his eyes since I didn’t want him to know I had my eyesight back until I was sure it would not fade out again and the blurriness would clear up. It didn’t seem fair to make him ride this roller coaster until I knew I could get off.
“Yes, please. That would be great,” I answered. He walked me to the bathroom and it was magnificently done in white marble with silver veins. The shower was part of an expansive sunken tub of mosaic tiles. He left me standing in the middle of the room while he started the water for me. I remembered his offer to help me once before in the shower after we went water-skiing and I expected him to try to do it again. Instead, he described the layout of the bathroom as if he was a tour guide and led me to the edge of the shower. He politely handed me a plush lilac bath towel and abruptly walked away. I had to concentrate not to let my eyes follow him. I had missed seeing him.
“Call me if you need me to get Helga to help you. I’ll be next door unpacking.” He left through the bathroom door that led to his room and I was alone. The beautiful tub was too irresistible. I stopped the drain and poured in half a bottle of bubble bath. The mounds of foam piled up and I sunk into the hot water. It was the first time I had been alone in
days and it was bliss.
I closed my eyes and let my mind drift. A million thoughts floated through my head as I reviewed the events of the past week. Finally, it occurred to me that by this time tomorrow I could resume my life back home.
My quiet sanctuary was interrupted by the sound of the bathroom door opening. “Good Lord, Whitney!” Reid bellowed. His shout scared me and I reflexively sunk under the bubbly water, from where I heard incoherent shouting and then the slam of the door to his room. I resurfaced to hear him yelling at me through the door. “WHAT are you doing? The water stopped half an hour ago and the bathroom door is cracked open!”
Did he really think this was MY fault? My fight response ignited. “I’m the one who can’t see! How was I supposed to find the other door to lock it?” My voice bounced loudly against the marble and tile of the sleek bathroom and, as usual, I used whatever I could to win the fight. If the door was cracked, it was because he didn’t close it properly and there was a moment of silence as he considered my point.
“As much as I hate to admit it, you are right. I assumed you were in your room and I was shocked to find you in here. I’m sorry for invading your privacy. Helga said dinner is in an hour. I will be back to pick you up then.” He was frustrated and angry with me.
“Fine. Thanks,” I managed to squeak out. I felt a twinge of guilt as I drained the tub to prepare for dinner. I didn’t know if it was from concealing my returned sight from him or that I had used the vision of myself getting out of a bubble bath against him in a sparring match that made me uncomfortable. Probably both but I blocked it from my mind and reminded myself dwelling on past choices was not productive.
After I dressed, I made sure to widely open all the doors as a peace offering to Reid. My vision was sharp and it flooded me with relief. Finally, I let myself relax and took a rest.
“Whit, did Helga give you my comb? I can’t find mine,” Reid called from the bathroom. I blinked my eyes awake to see his face peeking into my bedroom through the open door. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about since my hair would never be able to be brushed by a comb because it was too thick.
“My brush is on the end of my bed.” I stretched and pointed to it. I wondered if my eyes were deceiving me when to my shock Reid walked into my room wearing nothing more than his towel.
“What are you doing?” I incredulously asked as he crossed the room toward me.
“Getting the brush. What do you think I am doing?” Our eyes met and he cursed. “Don’t tell me…you got your
“OK. I won’t tell you,” I said with a sly smile. I laughed as he turned increasing degrees of crimson. “So this is what you meant when you told me you were going to give me interesting moments to remember the rest of my life? I’m so glad it’s not all going to be nuclear reactors and sparring practice.”
“I think I will recommend to Admiral Bennett that he put you into the Poseidon Program’s survival course rotation. That way the recruits could have a taste of how to manage a truly difficult situation. I wonder if anyone would last more than five minutes with you,” Reid muttered as he mustered up his dignity and closed the door to drown out the sound of my loud laughter.
We had returned from Munich a few days ago and I was trying to readjust to my normal life. The Zeta luau was the first big party of the year. I didn’t need my newly returned vision to know we were almost there—the music throbbing through the neighborhood off the parkway was like loud breadcrumbs.
Something didn’t feel right and the sensation was coming from the raucous party down the street. I couldn’t shake the feeling something bad was about to happen. Had Carson Noir found out I was still alive? Then I saw Karen Eubanks walking toward the party.
Did you enjoy Sundial? If so, please share your experience with a positive review on Amazon and Goodreads! The support of our readership means the world to us. Thank you in advance for extending a hand!
Whitney correctly suspects there is a lot more to Reid than meets the eye and that he is keeping something from her about Karen Eubanks. Find out more of the answers in our next book in the series, THE LIGHT BRINGER’S WAY. For bonus material and series updates log on to