The Tests of Time (Book 1) ✔

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Unwanted Visitors

September 28, 1924
Arnis, Germany


Ivan couldn’t take being in Anneliese’s house any longer, the heaviness from the stress that lingered in the air left everyone in the room tense and uncomfortable. It was enough to overwhelm him. Stepping outside, he released a heavy sigh, his mind racing slightly as he ran a shaky hand through his hair. He felt like he should have known that Whittaker was looking for ways to get back at Wells, he just never thought it would go quite this far.

Anneliese explained her fears to them, that she worried that Whittaker would kidnap her child, claiming her as their own to use against Wells one day. Brackston, Layla, and Carter had shifted their gaze to Ivan, who had grown eerily quiet. None of them brought up their connection with Elinor, knowing that it could affect how the very fabric of time happened. If Anneliese discovered the events of what was about to happen in nine years, Ivan was positive that they’d return home to an entirely different life.

Yet, if Whittaker succeeded in kidnapping Elinor today, then they would still return to a different life. The fear that he could return to find that Elinor was stolen out from underneath him again left him frozen. He could barely register the soft sounds of a storm rolling in from a distance, the wind slowly picking up tousling his dark hair.

Clenching his jaw, he silently prayed that this wouldn’t have been like their last mission - which was a failure. He hoped with every fiber of his being that things would work out in their favor. If things did, he made a vow to show Elinor Elsner that he loved her.

Ivan jumped at the sudden sound of the front door shutting behind him, his head jerking to see Brackston staring at him with a deeply concerned look as he stood at a safe distance from Ivan on Anneliese’s porch.

“You doing alright out here?” Brackston questioned, his eyebrows drawn together.

Ivan barely nodded before he finally changed his mind and shook his head in disagreement. There was no point in lying to Brackston, for he would clearly see through him. Ivan was getting bad at hiding his emotions.

Brackston nodded, acknowledging Ivan’s obvious dismay. The day had already started out weird with Lula and Carter’s pregnancy reveal and it seemed to only keep getting weirder.

“Of course not,” Brackston groaned, shaking his head as he casually stood next to Ivan. “I mean, it’s not every day that you meet your girlfriend’s mother while she’s pregnant with your girlfriend.” Brackston wrinkled his nose. “In fact, come to think of it… You do realize that you have the hots for someone who’s like in her late nineties, right? I never pegged you as the type to have a thing for older women...”

Ivan rolled his eyes, glaring at Brackston menacingly. “Brackston? Did you know that you could be a pain in the ass?” Ivan asked sarcastically, watching as Brackston grinned.

“Maybe, but you can’t deny that it didn’t at least make you smile a bit,” Brackston pointed out as Ivan chuckled, shaking his head.

“I take it back. You’re a pain in the ass and an idiot,” Ivan quipped, smirking at Brackston’s glare that was as dark and stormy as the clouds slowly rolling in.

The two sat in silence for a couple of moments, listening as the low rumbles of thunder grew louder the closer the storm got.

“She’s going to be okay. You know that, right?” Brackston piped finally, facing the direction Ivan was staring. “We’re going to go home and she’ll be there waiting for you.”

Ivan tried to ignore the lump that had formed in his throat, glancing down at his feet. He opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by the sound of the front door slamming shut behind them.

The two turned their heads to see Layla standing on the front porch, her dark black locks almost blocking her face from their view as the wind picked up steadily. Ivan quickly noticed that her eyes were wide with concern, her face slightly pale.

Brackston’s body stiffened at the sight of Layla looking so alarmed, dread washing over him as he fought to find the strength to ask her what was wrong.

“We have a problem,” Layla stated, her voice slightly panicked. “Carter and I were inside talking to Anneliese and… apparently, she’s been having some pretty bad contractions today. Her water just broke a few minutes ago.”

Brackston’s eyes grew wide as Ivan’s face turned slightly pale, glancing at Layla with their mouths hanging open.

“You’re kidding,” Brackston groaned, running his hands over his head. “This is like the absolute worst time.”

Layla frowned at Brackston’s comment, giving Brackston an intimidating glare. “Do you want to be the one to tell the pregnant woman that now isn’t a good time to have her baby?” Layla snapped, rendering Brackston speechless so that she could finish. “Carter has helped her to her room. According to him, he’s delivered a baby before. I’m not sure the details of that story but I’m going to assist him with the delivery.”

Layla had turned to make her way into the house as she ignored Ivan and Brackston’s pale expressions but before any of them could respond, the sound of a gunshot echoing through the air caused the three time travelers to duck instinctively, fearful expressions crossing each one of their faces.

Ivan lifted his head to see two men running towards the house as rain started to fall shortly after a loud crack of thunder. Ivan’s face darkened, recognizing one of the men as the Whittaker agent that had tried to shoot Elinor during her book signing, only to hold her hostage with a gun to her head before kidnapping her.

Cursing under his breath, Ivan began pushing Brackston and Layla towards the front door. “In the house. Now!

The two quickly jumped into action without hesitation, Layla being the one to push the door open as they rushed into the house, slamming the door shut behind them.

Ivan’s mind was already working on a plan for when Whittaker infiltrated the house, knowing that it would be a matter of moments before they plowed their way in. His jaw clenched, he turned his gaze to a panting Layla. “Go help Carter. Let him know what’s going on but try to tell him without alerting Anneliese. The less stress she is in, the better,” Ivan commanded, content to see Layla quickly making a run for the room.

Reaching into his suit jacket, Ivan pulled out his gun quickly and carefully handed it to Brackston. “Shoot first, ask questions later,” Ivan explained to Brackston, ignoring the questioning glare the pilot was giving him.

“What about you?” Brackston nearly argued but the force of Ivan pulling him away from the front door stopped him from even trying. He motioned for Brackston to hide behind the couch, where the pilot hunkered down.

“I have better odds of holding them off without a gun than you do,” Ivan reminded him, cautiously backing away from the couch as he leaned against the wall that was directly next to the front door.

The only sound that could be heard for the first few seconds was the eerie sounds of the storm starting to rage outside, the rain hitting the window with an incredible force. Ivan almost questioned if the two agents were planning to enter through a different point of entry but the sight and sound of the front door being kicked in caused Ivan to jump, his mind already pushing him into action.

With a swift movement, Ivan had pushed his entire weight against the front door, the impact causing the door to knock whoever had entered in off balance as their gun slid across the floor. Ivan growled lightly at the sight of who he was faced with, his eyes darkening at the sight of the Whittaker agent who tried hurting Elinor twice smirked at him, his eyes lit up with a terrifying glint.

“You again,” the agent sneered, shaking his head. “I knew I should have killed you when we had the chance. Can’t believe I let the pretty little bitch talk me out of it.”

Ivan gritted his teeth, his hands clenched into fists. “She has a name, you dick,” Ivan hissed, lunging a fist at the man. Ivan was caught off guard by the second agent pushing the door back into Ivan, knocking Ivan’s balance off. Ivan almost wondered what was taking Brackston so long to retaliate when the sound of a gunshot echoed through the room.

Ivan was surprised to see that Brackston had managed to successfully shoot the second Whittaker agent, leaving the man crumpled on the floor. Ivan was almost impressed with Brackston’s quick shooting skills but was distracted by the sight of something coming towards him. Throwing up his arm instinctively, Ivan let out a hiss as the stinging feeling of a knife had cut through his suit jacket and long sleeve shirt, leaving a small, fresh wound.

Ivan glared threateningly at the agent, rage building up in his chest as he contemplated charging the man when the sound of another gunshot rang out. Ivan watched as the other agent swayed slightly, blood slowly dripping out of his mouth before he collapsed to the floor.

Ivan glanced up cautiously to see that the shooter was Brackston, his arms extended out as he kept his hands firmly wrapped around the gun. Brackston’s eyes were slightly wide, his lips parted as he breathed heavily.

Ivan raised his chin slightly, giving Brackston an impressed glance. “Perhaps we should give you a gun more often,” Ivan stated, smirking slightly.

Brackston lowered the gun carefully, shaking his head as if to wipe the memory from his brain. “You’re on your own next time,” Brackston groaned, ignoring Ivan’s chuckle.

The two were slightly caught off guard by the sound of a painful wail coming from the other room, their hearts nearly jumping as they glared at each other with wide eyes. They wondered if the two agents attacking them were only a distraction, that maybe Whittaker had sent more agents. Then a sudden realization hit them as soon as they could make out Layla’s comforting voice and Carter’s coaching over the sound of the storm still raging outside.

The baby was coming.

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