The Tests of Time (Book 1) ✔

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Shining Light

Present Day


“Where the hell is Whittaker?” Layla jumped from the comfortable position she had been sitting in in her seat as the loud voice boomed through the once peaceful and quiet lab. She had been monitoring the screens after Whittaker made a jump in their time machine. She felt helpless as there was no way she could take their own machine out without a team to back her up. Agent Simone was on her way back to the lab and Professor Altman was off trying to figure out what was so significant about the moment in history.

Layla’s head turned and her eyes fell on the tense posture of Ivan Hayes as he made his way towards where she stood in the computer control area. She was somewhat surprised to see that his cheekbone was bruised but even more alarmed by the burning rage in his eyes and the tense way he clenched his jaw tightly. This told her that something was seriously wrong.

Behind Ivan, a breathless Lula, Brackston, and Carter had stumbled in. Layla’s face almost beamed at the sight of Brackston gazing at her, excited that her boyfriend was back home. If it wasn’t for the severity of Ivan’s expression piercing through her, she would have probably greeted him. “They jumped,” Layla replied firmly, glancing quickly at the computer. “They landed in London on April 21, 1931. That’s ten years after your Einstein mission.”

Carter quickly glanced over at Lula, who he could tell by the deep expression on her face that she was already sorting through her thoughts for any connections. After a couple moments of silence, she shook her head sadly. “There’s nothing that I can think of off the top of my head,” she admitted, a look of defeat on her face.

“What the bloody hell is going on out here?” the familiar voice of Professor Altman piped up, causing everyone to turn to face him as he strolled out of the shadows of the hallway.

Professor Altman stopped the moment he noticed the tense members of the time travelers, his eyes widened at the sight of Ivan’s disheveled clothes and scuffed up face. “What the hell happened to you? Nevermind, aren’t there supposed to be five of you? Agent Simone told me that you were bringing back the author-”

“Whittaker has her,” Ivan growled, his eyes falling to gaze at his feet as the heaviness of his words brought the room into a dead silence around him. “Whittaker has her and it’s all my fault.”

<>

Elinor could pretty much guarantee that everything she had witnessed on this day was a part of one terribly long, strange dream. All in one day, she had been attacked, kidnapped, held against her will only to be transported to another country in another point of time. She at least got to see London, England - a place she had only ever dreamed of visiting. It was exhilarating seeing the clothes, the cars, the different ways of living. This encounter with this lifestyle felt like she was walking through Circleville. Though it was foreign, something about it felt familiar and safe. The thought had been nagging at her ever since Autumn and Elias brought her to a small flat and locked her inside of one of the rooms.

Elinor groaned, rolling over onto her back in the uncomfortable bed she currently laid on. “At least they even gave me a bed,” she thought to herself as she stared at the ceiling above. She had been trying to figure out a way to escape the situation ever since they arrived in the flat. Unfortunately, she had no clue what good escaping would do. As far as she was concerned, without Ivan knowing where, when, they took her, she was as good as lost.

The sound of her door opening caused her to sit up suddenly, where she glanced quickly in the direction of the creaking sound. Her heart pounded with worry over the thought of Autumn barging in to have another “talk” with her about the key cipher but she relaxed a bit when she was greeted with the warm expression of Elias’s face.

“Autumn left about a half an hour ago,” he stated, taking in her stiff posture and blank expression as he shut the door behind. “She’s in mission mode right now, so we should have some time to talk before she gets back.”

Elinor wasn’t fond of the idea of being left alone in a room with any man, let alone this man. After the comment Autumn had made earlier when she had caught Elias buckling her seatbelt, she wondered if this guy was playing her. “Are you sure talking is all you’re wanting to do?” Elinor asked him, her voice stern as she pulled herself into a more comfortable, closed off sitting position. “I mean, from what Autumn said earlier, it sounds like you’re more interested in taking action than making smalltalk.”

Elias tilted his head questionably, his eyes lighting up with amusement as he scoffed quietly. “You mean what she said while we were in the time machine?” he chuckled at Elinor’s cautious nod, shaking his head in disbelief. “Autumn seems to have this impression that I’m a womanizer. I think it’s because the first comment I made when I met her is that I didn’t expect Whittaker to hire someone so pretty.”

“Wow,” Elinor muttered, genuine surprise crossing her face at his statement. “I’m amazed she let you walk out with your head attached. She seems like the type who would stab out your eyes if you so much as looked at her with judgement.”

Elias surprisingly laughed at Elinor’s comment, shrugging his shoulders. “I mean, she did give me a black eye… So you’re not entirely wrong. Seeing as she’s also the daughter of Mr. Whittaker, I’m lucky he didn’t take any sort of action himself. Guess he knew that Autumn could handle herself.”

Elinor fidgeted uncomfortably, her face remaining hard and cold as she glanced nervously at Elias.

He could see that she wasn’t sure if she could trust him or not. Considering how she was forced to watch him beat up the man who was protecting her, he couldn’t blame her. Sighing softly, Elias stuffed his hands into the pockets of the period-appropriate slacks Autumn had stolen for him. “I can see that you’re unsure about me,” he responded softly.

“I’m just not sure if you are who you claim to be.” she frowned, wringing her hands together nervously.

“Then ask me something,” he offered, silently hoping that this would help her nerves to calm down. “Ask me anything you want.”

Elinor pressed her lips tightly together, sorting through her racing thoughts for an appropriate question. “Why would Homeland Security send one agent in? Isn’t it kind of risky being a mole?” she asked finally. “Seems like your life would be at stake if you were caught.”

Elias smiled, shaking his head slightly. “Trust me, our lives are at risk no matter what our mission is. We never know what moment might be our last.”

Elinor picked up on something in his tone, a heaviness that gave her the impression that something seemed to be bothering him. She would have pressed about it but decided against it. “Do you have any family members who worry about you?” she questioned him, watching as his eyes hardened and his smile faded.

“I have a wife and a daughter,” he admitted, shrugging slightly. “I’m pretty sure my wife worries about me daily. If she knew just how deep into enemy territory I am with this mission, she’d kick my ass for the risk I’m taking.”

Elinor wasn’t for sure if she should chuckle or simply nod. His expression changed drastically the moment he started talking about his wife and daughter. Gone was the playful expression in his bright eyes, the small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. She wasn’t willing to say she’d go as far as trusting him just yet but she was starting to believe him.

“Are you sure you’re not a mole?” Elias piped up finally, the teasing look returning to his face. “Because you just got me to spill some important details about my job and my life that I wouldn’t normally share with a stranger.”

Elinor surprisingly chuckled at his response, feeling her tense muscles relax as she gazed at him. “I seem to have a way of getting people to open up to me. People act like it’s a gift but I discovered that usually if you’re just there for someone, listening, they’ll open up to you.”

Elias tilted his head slightly, glancing at Elinor thoughtfully. He could tell that his gaze made her tense up slightly from the way her shoulders stiffened so he cleared his throat slightly and shook his head. “You’re different, you know that?”

Elinor wasn’t for sure how to respond to his statement. She pondered over it for a couple of moments before deciding to change the topic entirely, hopefully to one that would give her more answers as to why she was here. “Why do these people keep referring to me as ‘a light?’” she asked finally, her voice firm.

Elias tilted his head slightly, glancing at the ceiling as he thought deeply. “In your book, Wells talks about a shining light revealing the answer to the mysteries of time travel,” he began, watching as Elinor raised her eyebrows questionably. “We messed around with many thoughts and theories as to what that could have meant while one of the agents finished translating the cipher. We all thought he was referring to an inanimate object but upon finishing the cipher, we noticed that Wells referred to this ‘shining light’ as a woman.”

Elinor frowned deeply at his statement as she narrowed her eyes at him. “And what makes you think that this woman he’s referring to is me? How would that even make any sense? Wells died decades before I was born-”

“Elinor,” he stated firmly, cutting her off mid-sentence.

She gave him an irritable scowl, her eyes glowering at him darkly. “What?” she demanded, raising her head to glance at him. She hoped for his sake that whatever he interrupted her for was important.

He noticed her questioning glare and shook his head as if to dismiss her irritation. “Your name, Elinor… Translated, it means ‘shining light.’”

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