The Tests of Time (Book 1) ✔

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The Answer Locked with Teddy

Present Day


“Altman really has impeccable timing,” Ivan thought to himself, grumbling as he made his way towards his bedroom. After the situation that went down in the time machine’s control room, Ivan couldn’t help but feel livid with Professor Altman. The man oftentimes meant well but had absolutely horrific people skills. Altman could never discern when it was a right or wrong time to bring shit up. In this case, Ivan knew that it was a very bad time.

Ivan finally made it outside his bedroom door, where he stared at the door with a contemplating stare. As soon as Altman dropped the bomb on Elinor about her life, the woman grew slightly on edge and ice cold. Even worse, she seemed upset by his lack of shock over this news. If Ivan were to be painfully honest, almost nothing surprised him anymore.

Sighing heavily, Ivan carefully opened the door to his room, poking his head into the room. Elinor was just as he had suspected she would be, sitting on their bed with a pillow hugged to her chest, Brackston’s hoodie wrapped around her. He couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped his lips, bringing her distant gaze to him.

“I really need to stop walking in on you like this,” he admitted from the safety of the doorway, shaking his head slightly. “Seeing you in Brackston’s hoodie all the time is starting to give me the idea that you might have a thing for him.”

Ivan laughed slightly as Elinor’s face twisted into a look of distaste, her nose wrinkling at the thought.

“That’s gross,” Elinor groaned, chucking her pillow at Ivan but hitting the door he was hiding behind instead. “Brackston is like a brother to me, stupid.”

Ivan took her playful nature as an invitation that it was safe for him to come in. Slipping in quietly, he shut the door behind him before turning to face Elinor. He was slightly amazed to see that she seemed to be doing better than this morning, whatever anger and fear that she felt seemed to be mostly gone now. Of course, she had locked herself in the shower room for a while, so he assumed that the long shower must have done some good for her thoughts.

“How are you holding up?” he asked her finally, his eyes lingering on hers as he waited to see what her reaction might be.

Elinor pursed her lips slightly, shrugging her shoulders slowly as she raised her hands. “Okay, I guess?” she admitted, her gaze locking with his. “How are you holding up? I mean, you just found out that the woman you’re seeing is now not only some part of a creepy cult but related to the Whittaker family. That has to be rough.”

Ivan chuckled weakly at the sarcasm in Elinor’s tone, slightly amazed and somewhat surprised that she was making light of the situation. It was the last thing he expected to see from her, especially considering how she reacted to the news earlier this morning.

“I think I’ll be okay,” Ivan admitted, carefully making his way over to the bed slowly. “I mean, I’d like to think that I know this woman pretty damn well. She does a pretty good job at being open, honest, and vulnerable with me.”

Elinor smiled softly at Ivan, her eyes wandering over his sincere expression. Ever since Layla put her in her place during their conversation earlier that morning, Elinor had been hiding out in the bedroom, silently hoping that Ivan would find her so that he would help make it easier for her to make her decision. Unfortunately, facing him made it harder for her to choose.

“It sounds like you really like this woman,” Elinor acknowledged, standing up on the bed slowly. She wanted to be level with Ivan, her eyes lined up perfectly with his as he hesitantly watched her. Being shorter than him never really granted her the opportunity to be eye-to-eye with him. Right now, what she wanted more than anything was to have no distance between them.

Lifting her arms slowly, she gingerly placed them around his neck, her fingers messing with his hair lightly as she pulled herself closer to his face. She enjoyed being this close to him, close enough to take in the softness of his eyes as he gazed longingly into hers. She relaxed into the feeling of his arms wrapping around her, his hands resting on her lower back.

Ivan pressed his forehead gently to hers, enjoying the way she shivered as his hands trailed lightly up her back. He contemplated for a couple moments on whether or not he should correct her on her statement, whether he should point out that his feelings for her were a lot stronger than she assumed. However, his mind was urging him to tell her in a totally different way, a way that was sure to leave her breathless over his undisputed love for her.

Acting on his thoughts, Ivan carefully drew her closer to him as her eyes fluttered shut, his lips softly brushing against hers as he fully welcomed her into his gentle embrace.

She sighed softly against his lips before melting into his kiss, her hands firmly grasping on the back of his neck as she encouraged him to deepen his gentle kisses. She was thrown off guard by the feeling of his hands lowering themselves so that he could pick her up suddenly, bringing her legs around his waist as she broke away from his kiss to gasp in surprise. Before she had a chance to protest, his lips pressed themselves firmly against hers, his hands firmly pressing onto her lower back as she melted into the intensity of his fervent desire.

She couldn’t exactly remember when they had fallen into the bed together, her thoughts were muddled from the heat of his passionate kisses against her lips, the sensation eliciting a gentle moan from deep within her. She was slightly surprised to hear a low growl from him in response to her moan, his lips softly breaking from hers as her eyes fluttered open to glare at him with disappointment before she was thrown off by his lips pressing softly to her neck. She could feel herself melting with each kiss that trailed along her neckline, the firmness of his desire bringing her closer to the edge. She whimpered softly as his heated trail stopped at the base of her neck, his face lingering against her shoulder.

He was contemplating his next plan of action, enjoying himself in the gentle warmth of her skin and her soft scent when she finally squirmed impatiently, the reaction drawing a chuckle out of his lips as he lifted his head to gaze into her eyes, which were lit up with an intensity unlike anything he had ever seen from her.

“You know, patience is a virtue,” he reminded her, his hand softly brushing a strand of hair that had fallen into her face behind her ear.

She huffed slightly at his statement, though she couldn’t help but enjoy the opportunity this gave her to stare into his eyes deeply as she rested her head against his hand.

“Patience is for ordinary people,” she whispered, her eyes flicking between his eyes and his lips. “We may be time travelers, Ivan Hayes, but I can assure you of one thing... just because we have a time machine doesn’t mean that we have all the time in the world.” Her arms slowly wrapped themselves around his neck, drawing his face closer to hers. “So, in our case, I think it’s okay to be a little impatient.”

Ivan barely had a chance to mutter anything in response to her surprising words before she had pulled him into an intense kiss, the taste of her unwavering desire and longing lingering on her tongue. He gave into her demands, enjoying the way she reacted to his hands carefully bringing her out of her shell. The further they fell into intimacy together, the more he questioned whether or not all of this was even real. He was still somewhat in awe at how fortunate he was to have someone in his life again, someone who lit his soul on fire with fiber of her being.

What he didn’t realize was that as he held this person in his arms, between every passionate kiss and every moment lost in one another, she found herself battling with the dark thoughts that raged within her mind. Thoughts that left her wondering if this would be their one of many more undisclosed moments together in intimacy or if this would be the last time she’d have him in her embrace before she made the painful decision to walk away for good.

<>

Elinor rested in the safety of Ivan’s arms, enjoying the soft sound of him resting peacefully against her. She was laying on her side, her eyes locked on the wall before her. His arms were wrapped around her from behind, keeping her warm beneath the security of her blanket.

She was trying to wrap her mind around the confusing thoughts that plagued her mind, unable to bring herself to fall asleep with him. She was stuck at a crossroads, unsure of which path to take. Layla’s words rang out in her mind, making her feel slightly sick to her stomach. She partially knew that Layla was right about one thing… Whittaker would always be a threat to Ivan, whether she was at his side or not. As long as the stupid key was still out there, they’d still hunt him and the other members down until either they got their answer or there was nothing left.

Elinor stiffened at the sudden movement of Ivan pulling her tighter into his arms, relaxing slightly as he placed a gentle kiss to the side of her head.

“You should be sleeping,” he whispered, softly nuzzling his face into her neck. “Unless you’re wanting to go again…”

She chuckled softly, a small smirk playing at the corner of her lips. “Easy, cowboy,” she sighed, enjoying the feeling of his face resting against her neck. She could already imagine that he was grinning slightly at her comment.

“You’re no fun,” he whined, innocently pressing his lips to her neck.

She hummed softly, smiling at his pretend dismay as her eyes fell to their nightstand. Her eyebrows knitted together at the sight of her old bear sitting where she had left it, the only difference being that he was turned to face away from their bed.

“Why is he facing the other direction?” Elinor asked softly, shivering at the way Ivan rested his chin on her bare shoulder to get a look at what she was pointing at.

Ivan made a face at the sight of the bear as he snorted in response. “Because Teddy here was trying to be a pervert,” Ivan stated simply, his comment bringing the surprising sound of laughter from Elinor’s lips.

“You’re an idiot,” she mumbled softly, shaking her head as she thought over his goofy words again. She almost scoffed at his thoughts of being uncomfortable about a stuffed animal when something about his words hit her. She noticed that instead of calling it her bear, Ivan had addressed the stuffed animal as something different entirely. Her eyes widened when the realization hit her that he had called it Teddy.

“Holy shit,” she gasped, pulling herself out of Ivan’s arms as she sat up suddenly. Keeping her blanket wrapped around her, she stared intensely at the teddy bear.

Ivan sat up confused, wondering why she was staring so darkly at the stuffed bear. “El, you do realize that I was joking, right?” he questioned, frowning slightly as her face slowly drained of color.

The different pieces of her father’s ciphers were starting to flood into her mind as well as his final words he breathed to her before he gave into his injury. For ages now, she thought that Wells was addressing a person when he mentioned someone named Teddy. It never really hit her that all this time, he was actually talking about the bear her mother had given her.

Ignoring Ivan’s questioning stare, she softly picked up the bear in her hands as her gaze roamed over the raggedy toy. Upon examining him, her eyes fell on his arm. She had a vague, fuzzy memory of it being ripped one time accidentally, she remembered that at one point Wells had fixed it.

“Ivan,” Elinor breathed softly, her gaze falling to his confused glare. “I need a knife.”

Ivan frowned slightly, his eyes flicking uncomfortably between the helpless bear in Elinor’s hands and her dark gaze. He gave her a slightly puzzled, teasing glare back. “El, I really don’t think punishing the poor bear is necessary-”

“Ivan!” she groaned, shaking her head in disbelief at his goofy behavior. “Why are all men such dorks like this?” she thought to herself, watching quietly as Ivan reached to the floor for his pants.

He pulled out a large pocket knife from one of the pockets of his pants before he tossed them back to the floor. Skeptical, he handed the closed knife out to her hesitantly.

She hummed a soft thank you, carefully flicking the knife open. A part of her was almost too anxious to cut into her childhood toy but she knew that she had no choice. Carefully running the blade along the seam of the bear’s arm, she held her breath as she closed the blade back up. She was almost disappointed but at the same time, relieved that she couldn’t see something inside the stuffing that filled the bear’s arm. She carefully stuck her fingers into the small arm, her face paling slightly as her fingers brushed against a metal chain.

“What is it?” Ivan asked curiously, still puzzled as to what was going on. He watched carefully as Elinor pulled a necklace chain from out of the bear’s arm, his eyes growing wide at the sight of what hung on the end.

Elinor’s heart pounded in her chest heavily, her expression growing dark as she took in the sight of an old skeleton key with intricate, breathtaking designs. In the center of the top part of the key was the familiar symbol she had seen countless times, the four arrows nestled around the little box with three lines inside. Her father was right, the key providing all the answers was with Teddy this whole time.

“It’s the key to the time machine,” Elinor whispered weakly, unable to bring her eyes to Ivan’s as her breath caught in her lungs. “The one Whittaker has been looking for.”

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