Chapter One
Dreams or Reality

I was running though the woods. The sky was black with rain clouds and the full moon's light spread shadows across the forestfloor; causing a sinister effect that sent shivers through my body. Breathless and freezing from the rain I ran faster as I looked behind me to see the mysterious cloaked figures still following me. The thorns of bushes seemed to grab my legs as I past by leaving my legs bloody and aching as I ran faster.

Finally I came to a clearing. I ran into it with a sense of liberation. As I got to the center of the clearing I realized something horrendous; I was completely surrounded. Turning in a full circle I saw at least a dozen cloaked figures closing in around me. Then I heard a voice. "There's nowhere for you to run Cassandra."

I spun in a full circle once, looking at the cloaked figures imprisoning me. I was utterly trapped and vulnerable. My chest tightened as the sensation of panic forced me motionless. I was going to die right here in this clearing all alone and there was nothing I could do about it.

Steam started to materialize out of my pores. I was suddenly hot, but it wasn't painful. I looked down at my hands; they were a literally on fire. My ground beneath my feet seemed to be moving; as if it was alive. I could sense the tree roots moving underneath me. The wind around the clearing had suddenly become insufferably strong. The rain had increased to that of a concentrated downfall beating down on the clearing and the temperature had dropped dramatically, I could see my breath in the air.

"Finish her off!" the voice snapped. The figures stepped forward and suddenly everything went black.

I woke up with a jolt and sat straight up in my bed. This dream was nothing new for me; it had been repetitive for months now. Every time I woke up I was always burning to the touch but never feverish. I climbed out of bed and went into the bathroom to splash water on my face.

I dried my face and went to open the window to get some fresh air when I first heard the noise. It sounded like one of the stairs making a creaking noise as if someone was walking on them. It could almost have been the figment of my imagination but after my dream I was always on edge and had never been able to fall back asleep afterward.

Being as wide awake as I was, I decided to investigate. I gently eased the door to my bedroom open the rest of the way without making a sound and tiptoed into the hallway. The master bedroom was at the end of the hall so I had a full view of the entire hallway and the top of the stairs; it was too dark to see down the stairs without getting closer.

Moving along the wall as quietly as possible I moved toward the staircase. I tried to convince myself that I was hearing things that were not really there. I was half way to the stairs when I had convinced myself that there was nothing to worry about.

Then I heard a footstep on the stairs; then another one. They were still being quiet but I was closer now and whoever was on the stairs were coming up toward me. Leaving me trapped on the second floor.

I started to move away from the stairs, away from the invader. All so suddenly a hand clamped over my mouth and I was grabbed by the waist. It all happened so quickly that I didn't even make a sound; there were two intruders in my house.

The one holding me dragged me backwards through the open bedroom door that I just come from. How had this person gotten behind me? I could tell that he was male and taller than me.

"My name is Kyle. I am not going to hurt you. You have to trust me." His mouth was right against my ear as he whispered; I could feel his breath from every word floating across my skin, leaving goose bumps.

"I am going to let you go but you cannot make a sound, nod once if you understand me because we don't have a lot of time to get out of here and I can guaranty you that whoever is coming up the stairs will kill you." I nodded quickly and slowly he removed his hand from over my mouth. Waiting a split second to see if I was going to scream, he released me completely.

Having released me he moved to the bed and started arranging the pillows underneath the covers to make it look as if someone was in the bed. I just stood there in the middle of my own bedroom watching this stranger arrange my bed. Everything felt unreal, as if I was still dreaming.

He finished created a sleeping dummy and turned back toward me. He made a motion with his finger to his lips to remind me to be silent then gestured for me to follow him into my walk in closest. He moved to stand in front of me as soon as we got inside. The door was only opened a tiny sliver from which you could see the bed.

He turned to me and I could only make out the outline of his face and only see his eyes as it was just about pitch black in the closet. He moved closer to me and I had to resist the urge to back away as I had nowhere to go.

"Do you have anything in here that can be used as a weapon?" He whispered causing my goose bumps to return.

"I have a baseball bat, but that's it." I whispered back, unsure if he could even hear me with our height difference.

"Where is it?" He was close enough now that I could feel his chest on mine, feel the rise and fall of his breathing, and notice that his heart was pounding almost in rhythm with mine.

I pushed my hands against his chest to get him to back up a step and reached my hands around either side of him to feel for the bat against the wall of the closet. The sudden intimacy of the closet made me aware of the fact that he smelled like trees. Not a tree odor that you would find in a car from an imitation scent but like he had actually spent a lot of time in the forest surrounded by trees. It was a very calming smell.

After getting my mind back on track my hands finally came across the baseball bat in the dark. I picked up the bat without making a sound and moved it so that it was between him and I. His hands moved in the dark over mine and I felt him grip the bat as I let go.

He turned around so that his back was took me but I could peer around him through the crack in the open door and see that the intruder had made his way into my bedroom and was standing over my bed where he assumed I was sleep.

The intruder raised his hand and I could see that he was holding some sort of knife. Just as he brought the knife down on the poor defenseless pillows, Kyle exploded out of the closet and gave one enormous swing that connected the bat to the back of the intruder's head.

I slowly came out of the closet still in shock as I looked at the intruder on the floor. He was face down, so I couldn't see if he was someone I knew. There was part of the bat next to his body and Kyle was still holding the handle, having hit him so hard it split in two.

Still feeling like I was in a dream or nightmare, I looked at Kyle. "Is he dead?" I whispered, afraid that there would be someone else hiding.

"First off, you don't need to whisper. There is no one else in the house." He said as he tossed the broken handle next to the intruder's body. "Second you need to pack a bag because whoever sent him will realize that he failed to kill you and will send someone else. I don't know about you, but I plan on being long gone before that happens. And no he is not dead." He had moved over to the window and was looking out at the street.

"First off, I am not going anywhere with you. I don't even know you. Second, we need to call the cops. "I moved over to my night stand and grabbed my cell phone. Before I could even dial a single number, Kyle had moved from the window and was behind me. He grabbed the cell phone right out of my hand and pulled the SIM card out of it then returned it to me.

"First off, they can track your cell phone. Secondly, they own the police, so it would do you no good to call the cops." He went back into the closet, this time with the light on, and returned with two of my duffle bags.

"Okay, well then what do you expect us to do with the body currently unconscious in the middle of my bedroom." I crossed my arms over my chest, determined to not show him out freaked out I was.

"He will wake up in a couple hours. More than likely whoever they send to finish his job will either kill him or take him back to be interrogated. Not really my problem." He dropped the duffle bags on my bed and headed to the dresser.

"He is going to need medical attention. I mean you broke a wooden bat over the back of his head." I watch him as he rummaged through my underwear and sock drawer. He had started throwing things on the bed to be packed inside the duffle bags.

"He will be fine. He has friends that are coming for him anyway." He had moved onto the next set of drawers, which included tank tops and shorts.

"I would appreciate it if would stop going through my things, especially my underwear." I declared as I moved toward the bed and started throwing things inside the duffle bags. "And how do you know that someone else will be coming for him or me or whatever?" I had not decided if I was going to go with this man yet but I knew that I couldn't stay here either.

"First off, considering you are standing there half naked, I don't really have to imagine what any of this will look like on you because I already have the picture permanently etched into my mind." He moved to the next set of drawers after throwing most of my shorts on the bed, which I moved into an orderly pile into the black duffle bag.

I looked down at myself and remember that I was still in what I had fallen asleep in. Which in this case was a pink tank top, thankfully I had forgotten to take my bra off, and regular black underwear. Nothing fancy, but still standing half naked in front of a man that I had never seen before 10 minutes ago.

"Fine, be a jerk." I snapped at him and he smirked a little bit. "Why don't you just be a gentlemen and face the window while I get dressed." He shrugged and made his way over to the window. I knew that I couldn't escape him but I also knew that he wouldn't hurt me. He had possible just killed a guy to save my life. I did owe him my life; the least I could do was let him protect me.

I quickly grabbed a pair shorts from the pile and threw the rest back in the duffle bag. I then went into the closet and grabbed all the shirts that I actually wore and the jeans as well and threw them into the other duffle bag.

"And secondly if you look at your intruder's right hand you will see a tattoo. It's the kind of mark that is used to identify a person who is part of a select group of unique people." He said as I headed into the bath room to get the essentials; shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, tooth paste and a tooth brush and of course a hair brush along with my box of hair bands. He was still standing at the window when I shoved everything into the first duffle bag.

I looked at the guy laying unconscious on my floor and I could see the tattoo on his hand. I did not know what to make of it but I knew that I had seen it before. I took a picture of the tattoo on my phone so I could research it later. Whatever this tattoo meant, it had something to do with the people that had sent this intruder to kill me. And I wanted to know who they were. I grabbed the duffle bags and dropped them at Kyle's feet

He turned from the window toward me and with the lights on now; I could really take the time to look at him. I was surprised by what I saw; what I had expected there to be was an older man, rough from fights. Instead I found a man about my age with brown hair styled in small curls on top of his head and green eyes that seem to hold all the answers to the universe. I was looking at a tall, muscular, well dressed man standing in front of me. He looked like every girls dream, standing there in a black fitted long sleeve shirt that hugged his body in all the right places and the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, dark fitted jeans and regular black dress shoes.

I shook my head of these thoughts. There would be plenty of time to get to know this man. He had after all saved my life; the least he could do was make sure I stayed alive. I had so many questions about what happened tonight and why.

And for some particular reason, I believe that this man has all the answers. It's just a matter of getting him to tell me.