Chapter One

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Angelique tossed and turned in her sleep

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Angelique tossed and turned in her sleep. Her cotton sheets entangling her legs, binding them together. Sweat soaked her silky nightgown as her dream took over her reality. She stood motionless at the edge of an abyss. Suddenly, the sensation of plummeting into its blackness gripped her. Her head began spinning and her heart hammered against her chest. She screamed.

A brilliant flash of light renders her unconscious. She wakes to find she is lying in the middle of a glade. She hears voices. Who are they? Are they coming to help or to hunt her down?

A shot is fired. She cries out in pain like a wounded animal as the bullet grazes her flesh. She has her answer. She must hide, but where? She crawls to the portion of the glade that is thick with brush and bushes. It must be spring or summer because the trees and grass are lush and green. The voices speak again. They are closer than before. Panic strikes her heart. She covers her mouth, so she doesn't make a sound.

A twig snaps. She is very aware of her surrounding. But how did she get here? She struggles to remember, but all is lost. Another shot rings out, the sound of it echoing in her ears. A dog barks. He knows her hiding place.

A boy laughs. His voice sending chills down her spine. He has come looking for her. His face is coming closer, closer. He is now within inches of her. What did he want? What did he plan to do to her? He reaches for her and she screams.

Angelique shot straight up in bed. The image slowly fades from her mind's eye, but the feelings it invoked still labor her breathing.

"That dream again," Angelique, mumbles.

She rubs her weary eyes and tries disentangling her legs from her covers. That dream has always plagued her. Not even a dream really, more of a reenactment of the day she was found.

Angelique trudged over to her bathroom, flicked on the light, turned the faucet to cold, and splashed the freezing water over her face. She always had the same dream, but never has she dreamt it so often, almost every night this week. Glimpsing her appearance in the mirror, she could see the toll those sleepless nights were taking.

Her skin looked unusually pale, making the dark circles under her eyes more noticeable. No amount of makeup would hide them. She glanced at the clock above the toilet. Five thirty a.m.

"No sense going back to sleep. Got to relieve Alice in an hour," Angelique said with a sigh.

For the past four years, her life has followed the same routine. Up at the crack of dawn, quick breakfast, and then off to St. Gabriel's until four when another volunteer would relieve her. After another hopeless attempt at repairing the ravages of sleeplessness, she surrendered. She shuffled over to the kitchen and picked up her ground coffee. She doubled the scoops, dumping them into the filter to brew what she now referred to as her 'elixir of life'.

Dressed and ready to start another day, Angelique grabbed her coffee and bagel and sat at the dining room table. Flipping open the morning paper she retrieved from outside her apartment door, she wondered if reading the news first thing really was the smartest approach to the day.

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