The Persistence of Memory Book 3: The Beginning of Always by Karen Janowsky
When gods and superheroes fall in love, it takes gods and supervillains to keep them apart.
Powerful alliances from both Daniel and Nina’s pasts are about to rip apart the fabric of time. Dark, tragic days loom close as those plans come to fruition. Meanwhile, Nina and Daniel struggle to explore the boundaries between passion and possessiveness, duty and desire. They are gambling with much more than their future together. This is a race for the survival of history, itself, and their pasts are about to catch up with them.
History is about to end before it has begun.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult Audiences Only
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 5 – NC-17
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I've always been fascinated with mythology, and believe superheroes are our culture's modern day mythological heroes. With the resurgence in the popularity of superhero stories, I was inspired to create my own exploration of what it means to be that powerful and navigate through human issues while the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
They're mostly composites of other heroes and gods. I did a lot of research about superhero stories and comics dating back to the early (20's/30's-ish) twentieth century and built on some of the ideas to create what I hope are deep, original, and unique personalities.
The fluorescent overhead lights in the WISE conference room hummed and cast a stark-white hue over the blank, gray walls. Daniel held the chair out for Nina, who sat and smiled up at him as he took a seat next to her. Graham followed, balancing a bagel wrapped in paper and a disposable coffee cup in one hand. He set them down next to Daniel, dug around in his jeans pocket, and produced a wadded napkin to clean the cream cheese that had squeezed out and stuck to his palm.
“Hey guys, back already?” he asked, sitting down.
Daniel smiled. “We couldn’t stay away forever.”
Across from him, Ty stirred a packet of powdered creamer into a mug with a fake prescription label for coffee printed on it. He yawned, stretched his arms overhead and cracked his knuckles.
“Did we miss anything?” Daniel asked.
Ty smiled and scratched his head. “Since you’ve been gone for a whole two days? Not much.” He took a sip from his cup. “A lot of rain, unseasonably cold temperatures for this time of year. Where did you hole yourselves up?”
Daniel sat up. “What? What do you mean we were gone for only two days?”
Miriam breezed in and sat across from Nina at the front end of the table. She grinned at Daniel. “Well, you two look a whole lot more relaxed. Good weekend?”
Daniel shook his head. “It’s been over a week…”
Nina leaned toward him and cupped her hand outside his ear. “Time is different where we were,” she whispered.
Daniel nodded. He smiled at Miriam. “Yeah. A few issues, but overall a good weekend.” He threaded his fingers through Nina’s. Ty cleared his throat.
Rob walked through the door, frowning. Usually, he had a slight spring in his step, as if everywhere he went, there was a sense of purpose. Today, his steps were measured and slow. Marcus followed, tight-lipped, staring straight ahead. Daniel heard Kevin and Abioye in animated discussion, and the heavy silence that accompanied the two bosses into the room muted them. Their smiles vanished as they took their seats on Ty’s side of the table. Rob stood at the head of the table. “First of all, congratulations.”
Heat crept up the back of Daniel’s neck and his breath caught. He leaned toward Nina. “What did you say to them?” he whispered. A brief vision of the ritual they’d performed, the mutiny of her people, and the way she had writhed and screamed his name when he’d used his mouth on her later on that night in Uruk popped into his mind, and imagined how pale he must have looked right now.
Nina shrugged and mouthed, “Nothing.”
“Excuse me?” Daniel’s stomach twisted. He knew his jaw had dropped and that he was gaping at Marcus and Rob.
“Marcus and I have been talking about things over the past couple of days. We’ve got enough artifacts to keep the Concordance Group from going through with building the Eye of Enlil. We’re not out of the woods, but we’ve bought ourselves time to wrap this up and toss it.”
Nina made a face. Daniel opened his mouth to explain when Ty piped in, “It means we’re not completely finished with this issue yet, but things are looking good. He’s telling us we still have a few things to do before we can stop worrying […], but he’s feeling confident that we’ll be able to put this all behind us soon.”
She smiled at him. “Thanks, Ty.” Ty grinned back. Daniel squeezed Nina’s hand and she pulled it away from him.
“Right,” Rob said. He looked at Daniel. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have let you and Nina go anywhere.” Daniel looked at his lap and suppressed a smile.
He heard Miriam stifle a laugh, and once again wondered what Nina might have revealed, especially to her friend. When he was a kid, it had been a common assumption that women couldn’t help gossiping. “We still have work to do,” Rob said. […] Marcus and I plan to confer a lot over the next couple of weeks with the team leader. Abioye, Nina, and Graham are going to be doing some research and recon, and the rest of you will have specific assignments.” He looked at Daniel. “I need you to come with me and Marcus for a minute.”
Marcus and Rob got up and left the room and Daniel followed, closing the door behind him. They stood a few feet away from the door, where they were less likely to be heard.
Rob leaned on the wall and let his shoulders drop. Above him was a print of Lionheart from back in the forties. In this picture, he was posing with some airmen in front of a bomber. He recalled that the photo had been taken in France. He refocused on Rob and Marcus, whose knuckles had turned white as he clutched his briefcase.
“There’s no way to say this other than bluntly. I’m taking you off-point while we go into Phase Two,” Rob said.
A rock seemed to drop into the pit of Daniel’s stomach. “I beg your pardon?”
“You’re a valuable part of the team,” Smallwood said, “and we need you with us, but not as the team leader right now.”
Daniel’s heart thudded. “I was exonerated. I didn’t argue with the time off-duty. My record is…”
“Your record was spotless,” Rob interrupted. “You’re losing control of the team, and we can’t afford that, especially not now.” Neither of Daniel’s bosses looked happy to deliver the news. It wasn’t often that Rob actually looked diminutive. In reality, Rob was a slight, five-foot-eight man, and delivering the news seemed to shrink his ego back to the size of his body. He had bags under his eyes, which his black-framed glasses appeared to deepen against his dark skin. “This isn’t in any way a disciplinary action or a demotion. I want you to know that, and it’s temporary.”
“Yup.” Daniel clamped his mouth shut, turned, and walked back into the room. He heard the door close behind him as he made his way back to his seat next to Nina.
Rob made the announcement to the team. “For now, Captain Rye’s on point.” Seated next to Ty, Kevin blanched. It was obvious that neither Rob nor Marcus had told Kevin about this. “To be clear, this is coming from me directly to all of you. Kevin, come see me in my office upstairs in two hours; Daniel, come see me in my office in ten minutes.”
Rob and Marcus exited before there could be any questions. The team sat around the conference table in stunned silence. Kevin’s shoulders dropped. “Look Hecht, this wasn’t how I envisioned things going down.”
“Yeah,” Daniel replied. “Be careful what you wish for.”
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