1 Sedona, AZ

  

The crystal blue Arizona sky stood out in contrast with the partially shaded sun, displaying its turquoise hues. The late summer weather had finished with its midsummer monsoons and settled into a pleasant mixture of beauty and warmth. Evening approached and a gentle cool breeze filled the air.

Emily Benson locked the door in the building where she held the Ancient Wisdom Seminars’ classes, and strolled to her white, Toyota Camry car. She adjusted the student folders in her arm and stopped long enough to admire the sky. “Wow, Sedona unveils more mystical beauty every time I stop to discover it.” Her gaze fell upon a group of red rocks just as the sun peeked through a cloud. “Amazing, the shades of red continue to astound me.” She opened the car door and swished her long black hair to one side as she jumped into the seat for her short drive home.

Ten minutes later, Emily pulled into her garage and parked the car. She noticed an odd smell as she approached the garage’s exit to the house. A chill crept down her spine and she stopped just short of the house’s entry. “What is going on with me?” she mumbled to herself. When Emily finally opened the door, she entered the laundry room, and then froze in shock. “Oh, my god, what has happened?”

The laundry cabinets lay bare with their former contents strewn over the floor in front of her. She dropped the folders, and her black, velvet purse to wade through the mess and get to her kitchen. Emily found more disarray as she crept through food, liquids, and the cabinets’ contents. Feeling fear grip her chest and stomach, she grabbed a large knife from the countertop and crept towards the small, square-shaped living room. While her Kung Fu black belt training could keep her out of trouble, she felt safer with the knife.

“Dudley, where are you boy?” She heard the movement of papers coming from the bedroom, and cautiously approached the doorway. She peeked around the corner, and saw her white and tan Himalayan cat push himself up from under a heap of scattered papers. She dropped the knife and pulled him into her arms. “You still know how to purr, attacked or not.” Emily sat on the bare mattress with Dudley in her arms, surveyed piles of books and documents covering the floor of her bedroom. “I bet you were scared to death of whoever did this. Thank god you are safe.”

Emily carried her fluffy cat back to the laundry room, got her cell phone from her purse, and called her business and romantic partner, Greg Frostburg. “My house is a mess. Someone has ransacked it.” She burst into tears. “Please come over.”

“Have you made sure there is no one there?” He asked with a worried voice.

Emily wrinkled her brow. “Yes, it is clear. But I need your support.” He promised to be there soon and hung up.

            She put the phone down, carried Dudley to the living room, and lay against the soft blue sofa. Emily glanced around the once stylish room at the torn curtains and slashed carpet. She closed her eyes feeling tightness in her chest, and tried to relax. How could this happen? She closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, and tried to meditate, until Greg arrived. Her mind drifted back to a similar setting as a child. She had come home from school to find her family’s living room in disarray and her mother lying on the floor. She shook her mother trying to wake her and then found blood. She screamed and ran to the phone and dialed 911, exactly as her mother had taught her. Emily turned and found a man standing over her. She screamed and ran outside. Suddenly, someone was shaking her. She opened her tear filled eyes.

            "Emily, wake up, it's me, Greg."

She grabbed Greg and then held him tightly. Emily stopped trembling and crying after a few minutes in Greg’s arms. “I remembered my mother’s death sitting there before you arrived. Our house was in a similar mess back then. It brought back other memories too. I have a terrible feeling about this.”

“Well, yeah I guess so. After all, your house has been ripped apart.” Greg felt the tightness in her body, and even some in his own.

She pulled back and caught his gaze. His magical deep blue eyes held her gaze for a second. “My feeling is not about my house being wrecked. It is about who did it. My mom’s house was razed because men were looking for something my dad had hidden.”

“What has that got to do with . . .” Greg stopped and held her gaze, and then slowly shook his head with a grim smile. “Surely you don’t mean?”

            "Remember I told you the other day I have been having nightmares?" He nodded. "Well this morning I put the pieces together from what I had written in my journal. The dreams were about Terkenni and The Cause."

Greg shuffled around the room, his long, curly hair moving back and forth as he took in what she said. “That sounds like a big assumption. After all any thief, mind you a crazy one, could have been looking for something of value he or she thought was here.” He put his hands on his hips. “But reliving that moment of terror back then surely brought it to the fore. So you think it was The Cause searching for something – like the Wisdom Stone Book?”

“Bingo. You’ve got it.” Emily wrinkled her brow. “This is what is so disturbing. Not that my house has been wrecked, but that The Cause is at it again; ready to try to stop us no matter what. It has been only a little over a month since we left Italy, after I was rescued from Terkenni’s clutches; and now we have five Wisdom Stones to find.”

Silence crept into the room. Only Dudley’s gentle purr filled the air. Greg sat next to the cat and ran his hand over the soft fur. “So putting Terkenni and his men in jail has stopped nothing. Evidently The Cause has been reformed by Halmar Fitzburg.”

Emily stared at him. “Where is the book?”

“Ah, hidden in my house. Why?” Greg got up.

Emily’s eyes grew wide. “Because they may be searching your house now.”

Greg’s mouth dropped open, and they both ran to his car.