Dark Sunrise [MoonRunner III] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Jane Toombs
eBook Category: Romance/Science Fiction
eBook Description: Who are the Moonrunners? Why have they been blessed--or cursed--with unusual powers that make others fear them? Will they ever be able to bring their strange talents under control? As they try to live and love as ordinary humans do, they search desperately for an answer to why they are born "different" and marked for death by the deadly Stalkers. This third book in the Moonrunner trilogy stands alone, though it continues the story of the Volek family--human, or are they? For Jael Steinmetz, newly hired to care for the strangest little girl she's ever met, the challenge is to stay alive. . . .
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, Published: 1997, 1997
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2011
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2 Reader Ratings:
The November tule fog that had shrouded California's great central valley for most of their trip lifted as the silver-gray Packard wound down a hill, allowing Jael Steinmetz to get her first look at Volek House. She stared awestruck at the great stone fortress, its multiple turrets bathed by the setting sun, the tall tower afire in crimson light.
Red as blood, she thought apprehensively, wondering again why she'd agreed to come.
Wolf Volek, sitting beside her, spoke for the first time in almost an hour, startling her.
"It was back in 1875 when I first saw my home-to-be," he said, gesturing toward the mansion. "I was ten at the time and thought it was a palace. Since I knew I didn't belong in one, if I'd had anywhere else to go I might have turned tail and run."
Does he know I have no place at all where I belong? Jael wondered even as she marveled at how open this scarred and taciturn man could be when he did break his silence.
She was twenty-seven, not ten, much too old to give way to foolish fancies. She'd seen many a San Francisco mansion tucked away behind protective walls, hadn't she? The Voleks were wealthy and those with money protected their privacy. If they chose to live in a stone castle girded with high stone and adobe walls broken only by massive iron gates, that was their privilege.
Judged by his appearance, Wolf Volek's life hadn't been easy. The left side of his face was badly scarred with a black eyepatch covering what she suspected was a missing left eye. Perhaps he had reason to live in a fortress.
"I hope you'll stay," he told her. "Marti needs you."
He'd said something similar when they'd met for the first time. "I've searched for months, for years. Believe me, you're the one for Marti." She hadn't completely understood then and she didn't now. It seemed, from the little he'd told her, that the child really did need a nursemaid but there were others just as suitable as Jael Steinmetz. She was far from accustomed to being the chosen one--for anything.
His scarred face made judging Wolf Volek's age difficult--somewhere in his early fifties, she'd tentatively decided. But if he was ten in 1875 that meant he was sixty- one now, in 1926. Definitely old enough to be the grandfather of the five-year-old girl who was to be her charge.
"You won't have any other duties," he said, repeating what he'd told her before. "Everyone at the house understands that Marti will be, must be your one and only concern. As I explained, she's unable to talk but she's very bright and understands everything said to her. That doesn't mean she always obeys. Marti will need careful watching."
In other words, a difficult child, one she wasn't to let out of her sight. Rather different than caring for the sick children at St. Tabitha's Hospital where she'd worked as a nurse. Would she like the change? How could she know until she tried it?
The car turned into a drive and Jael looked at the iron gate looming in front of her with displeasure. She didn't take to the idea of being locked in, as she would be when that gate clanged shut behind her. But why should she expect to feel at home in Volek House when she'd never felt at home anywhere in her life?
Wolf glanced sideways at Jael as he drove the Packard through the gates. He'd known the moment he set eyes on her that she was the "shining one" old Bear Claw's spirit-soul had described. Bear Claw had warned him that if he didn't find her and bring her to Volek House the entire clan would be doomed.
Though Wolf had good and sufficient reason to mistrust red-headed women, he placed Jael's mass of frizzy, carrot- colored hair in a different category, hers was more orange than red. Tall and awkward, her skin swarming with freckles, by no stretch of the imagination could she be called pretty. Her amber eyes held the wary watchfulness of a cat's, trusting no one, yet even in that stiff first meeting he'd caught glimpses of her essential warm-heartedness.
"Jael is a good worker," the Mother Superior had assured him later. "We'll hate to lose her."
"No flaws?" he'd asked.
The Mother Superior had remained silent for a moment. "She tends to prefer her own company. People sometimes take this to mean she's aloof. Stuck-up is the term I've heard used by some of our younger nurses, but that's hardly a flaw. All in all, she's a well-trained children's nurse and a sensible young woman. Our loss will be your gain."
Sensible. Aloof. Good traits for a girl who was coming to live with the Voleks and their deadly secret. Though the family had servants, they were all day workers. Jael would be the only live-in outsider now that Chung and Gei were gone. Wolf's mind winced away from the bloody memory of how they'd been killed.
He stopped the car in front of the house, slid from the seat and went around to open the door for her but she let herself out before he got there. Apparently she didn't wait for a man's assistance when it wasn't really needed. He liked her self-sufficiency.
"I'm afraid I don't remember many of the names of your relatives," she said, her gloved hands twining nervously together.
"There are too many of us anyway." He hadn't meant to speak so abruptly or so honestly. He forced a smile, hoping to pass the remark off as a mild joke. But there were too many with the tainted Volek blood, most of them living in Volek House and all of them his responsibility, exactly as his grandfather, over forty years ago, had warned him they would be.
Wolf was as much to blame as anyone else for the proliferation of Voleks.