Essence of Trust

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Essence of Trust

The Eternal Trust Trilogy – Book 3

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Breathtaking sequel in THE ETERNAL TRUST saga

Across time and dimension, soul mates bound by an ETERNAL TRUST battle to possess the vast power embodied within an ancient samurai sword … or choose love and live.

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Rian Farsante couldn’t keep her soul mate from being consumed by the dark side and left him before her heart died, too. But Jonathan Spencer can’t leave her alone. He needs her more than ever when their godson is kidnapped and his parents murdered. Only Rian can give Spence what he needs–the unlimited magical power of a pair of legendary ancient swords that will defeat the man they both used to work for, psychic spymaster, Ian Stoddard.

Ian believes the boy is the prophesied Essence or avatar and intends to use the boy’s vast psychic skills to take over the world. He wants the swords, and Rian, too. She learned long ago that power begets abuse of power and realizes the only way to conquer their enemies and save the boy is by awakening Spence’s heart.


Denver, Colorado, Present Day

“You are the best agent in the psychic intelligence business or at least within Datascape Systems International. How can you be stymied by this assignment like all the others?” Ian Stoddard asked the uneasy lump of flesh sitting before him. “Perhaps you don’t realize how vital the information is?”

Ian glanced up at the light above the conference table. It buzzed like an insect hovering over his head. The long, white florescent tubes above cast a bluish pall on the remote viewer’s sweat-beaded forehead. The man wisely remained silent.

“If it’s a question of proper motivation, be assured that I do know how to motivate employees,” Ian said and leaned forward. “Your team’s record for accurate hits is unparalleled, until now. What’s the problem?”

The remote viewer cleared his throat and started to speak. Ian held up his hand. “Give me no excuses and I’ll give you one more opportunity to perform or leave my employ. Your choice.”

“No excuses, Dr. Stoddard,” the man answered, struggling to hold Ian’s gaze. “I can do the job.”

“Good. Let’s go again, and this time no visuals. I am an auditory exclusive and understand on every level what I hear, as well as what is unsaid. Set your feelings aside and read me the words. I’ll hear the hidden meaning. Nuances. Intent. Visual and other input sets up interference patterns that compete with the auditory.” Ian sat back, tenting his fingers and smiling benignly.

“That’s kind of unusual, isn’t it, a remote viewer who gets target info through only hearing, instead of established protocols?” the man ventured as he shuffled his papers and drawings into a loose stack.

“I never said I was a remote viewer.” Ian had leaked parts of his story for the psychic intelligence community to put together in a mutating legend that suited his purposes.

“Oh. I guess I thought that since you started Datascape and we’re all trained on your method that you were a primarily a remote viewer.” As the frown cut furrows across his big forehead, he looked like smoke was going to boil out of his ears any second.

Perfect, Ian thought, just where I want you. Composing a reasonable tone, he said, “You might think of me as a super-sensitive, hearing everything across time and space. And yes, it’s highly unusual. You can’t train anyone to hear or gather information as I do. Most people can be taught to trust their intuition more or to make better-than-average guesses at the outcome of a coin toss. A very few can put themselves in an altered state and become a vessel empty of anything personal, having no wants, desires, or preconceived notions. They can follow a set of rules to allow ideas to form in their empty minds about unknown objects, events, people or locations remote from them. The best of these sensitives, such as yourself, are those I hire.”

Ian hardened his voice and continued, “Unfortunately, you, the alleged best, show me a composite of what you all viewed like some viewer trainee. That’s when everything goes to hell, because I’m hearing through your personal filters about your viewing experience that you’ve translated into written symbols. Just report the data. Let me hear it. Don’t get into analytical overlay by interpreting for me. Is that clear?”

The man cleared his throat and began, “Okay, I put the team on the Nostradamus quatrain, Century IV-31. La Lune au plain de nuit sur le haut mont–

“Not the French. Give me the English translation of the prophecy,” Ian barked.

“I just thought maybe you could hear something in Erika Cheetham’s translation that we didn’t. In any case, her English version of the quatrain is, ‘The moon, in the middle of night over the high mountain, the young wise man alone with his brain has seen it. Invited by his disciples to become immortal, his eyes to the south, his hands on his breast, his body in the fire.'”

Ian held up a finger to stop the viewer and closed his eyes, listening. He heard the woman’s thoughts as she struggled to divine meaning in the arcane writings of the cunning old prophet who spun his visions into riddles and anagrams. Letting his mind drift along the mechanical English further into the past of the wet and verdant old French words, Ian heard the sounds change to ripples, as wind across desert sands, dry and brittle, harsh and filled with heat. “Go on.”

“We traced the chain of custody of the quatrain to a prophecy that Nostradamus received, which came to him as a papyrus brought back by a French Crusader from the Holy Land. It was titled the Essence Prophecy of Anubis. He’s the jackal-headed god of ancient Egypt thought to be the guide of the dead through the Underworld.”

“Yes, yes,” Ian interjected with impatience. “Get to the prophecy. Is it complete?”

“Nearly.” The man lowered his eyes from Ian’s penetrating stare and pulled a page from the stack.

“Am I to understand that you have nothing more than before?”

“We’ve got a lot more,” the viewer countered. “It’s just that there’s some sort of interference or block that we keep running up against that we can’t get through despite any protocol we use.” He glanced up at Ian, his eyes filled with hope that masked the terror Ian heard in his thought. “Maybe you can hear … something?”

“Proceed,” Ian said with an abrupt nod.

The man swallowed hard and began to read from the sheet in his shaking hands, “From the Two shall become the One incarnate, an essence of eternal power in complete balance to coalesce at the initiation through a door between worlds, heralding the return of the gods to earth.”

Ian heard nothing, save the flat voice of the viewer echoing in his mind. The Two become One with the power. Yes, but how? When? Where? He already knew who. “Continue.”

“As you know, that was the content of the papyrus fragment that Nostradamus created his quatrain from. However, his thoughts and beliefs showed us that he somehow understood much more of the Anubis prophecy. Perhaps he used a method similar to ours to get the information.” He stopped at Ian’s scowl and brusque wave to move on.

“Okay. The following is a compilation of Nostradamus’s knowledge or understanding of the prophecy and that of whatever, or whomever, created the so-called Essence Prophecy of Anubis.” He held up a fan of pencil drawings of straight lines that evolved, sketch by sketch, into swords. “These are apparently the Two mentioned in the text. Two identical samurai swords, oddly enough. They’re thought of as the Swords of Balance. What we don’t understand is two Japanese-style samurai swords of supposedly vast esoteric power in ancient Egypt, but I guess you do?”

Ian nodded. “Do you have more on the One incarnate?”

“We think it’s metaphor–“

Ian slapped the table with his palm and roared, “I don’t pay you to think.”

The viewer jerked. “As to the One, only the initiated Essence can use the power that’s the culmination of some sort of off-planet group’s energy. Maybe. They’re on earth when he is. I say he, because the energy associated with the Essence is primarily masculine. In order for the Essence to coalesce or come to power, all of the group have to give up their own powers to the One, to the Essence, before or at the time of the initiation.”

“Then this is the Antichrist,” Ian exulted. He jumped up from his chair and began to pace the length of the table.

“No! Dr. Stoddard, not the Antichrist but the great genius; the antidote, if you will, to the Antichrist of the Scriptures and other prophecies. There seems to be a warning about others seeking the Essence’s power for themselves or trying to pervert the Essence somehow.”

“The great genius or world savior idea is nonsense, and I’ll tell you why,” Ian began. “These swords that you’ve mistakenly thought a metaphor or an allegory, they’re real. Their power is indeed vast, limitless, in fact. And to hear that this kind of cosmic energy will coalesce in a single being, I know he can be none other than the Antichrist, as Biblical writers have mistakenly misnamed the ancient dark power called Anubis.” Ian rubbed his hands together, exhilaration racing through his bloodstream. “His worship is of great antiquity.”

The viewer’s face became ashen. “Again, Dr. Stoddard, no. You haven’t heard the new information. It will prove to you that the Essence isn’t intended to be evil. It’s the personification of eternal good. There’s an additional warning that should the One, who is apparently a child, not complete the initiation before the moment of his twelfth year, then all is eternally out of balance, an opportunity missed to right all wrongs, and the evil will magnify and consume the world.”

Ian spun and leveled a glare directly between the man’s eyes. “Again you interpret instead of report. Perhaps it’s time for retraining. Recycle the lot of you.”

“Maybe so,” the viewer whispered.

Ian came around the table and put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, viewers better than you have failed me and still live, even though they’re working directly against me.”

The man trembled under Ian’s touch. “Are you talking about Integrity Intelligence Services in Seattle that beat us out of the Al-Quaeda contract for the military?”

“Yes, two of my best viewers I let go. They’re living proof of the efficacy of my methods and my benevolent tolerance of, let’s say, mistakes. They are gifted, as you are not, however. So you’ll understand that I will not accept any further misinterpretations of data or errors from the likes of you.”

Ian left the conference room, smiling at the fear screaming through the viewer’s mind and his futile efforts to block Ian’s influence. There were only two that could do that and much more, but now that they were no longer working together, their individualized psychic force was diluted to a minor portion of the eternal power that the One would soon embody. It was time to take the boy.

Chapter One

Sedona, Arizona

“Return to me”

Rian Farsante stopped dead on the powdery red dirt path lined with stones. She peered into the expanding twilight as a fall-burnished sun dropped behind the brick colored sandstone cliff walls of Encantada Canyon. As the trailside scrub junipers, cedars and sagebrush began to reel in their shadows, the high desert of Sedona hushed to hues of purple and blue.

“Who’s there?” Rian asked, turning in a circle. The voice had a familiar quality that she hadn’t heard, or felt, in years. Had that someone actually spoken from the canyon’s shadows or mentally across time and space?

In answer, the piñon-scented evening breeze brought only the last goodnight calls of ravens and scrub jays and the aroma of cedar smoke. Setting aside her sense of impending recognition and all that it meant, Rian relegated the voice to have come from her imagination or the sweat lodge ahead and quickened her pace up the trail.

The squat, round hut of vertical cedar logs buried a foot or so in the earth supported a conical roof, thatched with scraggly branches. Rian paused before the red and black Indian design blanket hanging over the low doorway and watched a white plume spiral out of the roof’s center hole. She released her cares and worries on the rising smoke and ducked into the hogan.

“Welcome, traveler,” the shaman invited from the shadows covering the top half of his body. He waved an eagle feather fan to a seat on the ground opposite the fire pit. “We have waited for you and now begin.”

As Rian sank to the woven mat, she closed her eyes and heard the sizzle of water hitting hot stones. Someone began to pound a slow rhythm like a resting heartbeat on a skin-covered drum. Her pulse and breathing matched the resonant pulsations. Sweat sprang from every pore, cleansing her body of toxins.

There were others inside the steaming enclosure, but she sensed their different energies rather than saw their physical forms. They were the usual mix of spa guests: adventurous dilettantes, devoted seekers and the merely curious. And one incredible high frequency she hadn’t encountered before–an adept. The shaman, perhaps? Her own curiosity urged her to open her eyes and connect with the master on a visual level. Rian restrained herself. She didn’t come to the sweat to interact with anyone; she expected to contact spirit guides that would show her through the higher planes to the Spiritlands.

More wood was added to the blazing fire and water poured upon the superheated stones. Breathing became labored, and Rian’s body screamed for escape from the high-temperature torture. Panicked cells and tissues whispered that she might die from heat exhaustion, that her blood would boil in her veins. The accelerating drumbeats wove fire, water, earth and wind into a cacophony that overwhelmed sense and sensibility, urging her spirit out and upward.

A shudder rolled up her spine. Rian gasped as her spirit broke free. Her ka soared out-of-body through the crown chakra at the top of her head into the ether, like a streak of pure white light toward the higher realms.

As used to traveling out-of-body as Rian was, the Spiritlands were still foreign to her. They were a different vibration suggested by the drumbeats, unique from the formless ether or wave energy of her accustomed mind travel. She’d worked as a remote viewer, but what she’d done since that initial training and extensive work as a psychic operative to gather intelligence data was far beyond applied technique and protocols.

Once free from the black ops organization that had used and abused her, Rian discovered that her psychic skills were vast and virtually unblockable. She could access thoughts anywhere along the time continuum, undetected, and influence others’ behavior, even kill if she had to, by mental means alone. But that kind of power had exacted too high a price. The man she’d been sent to bring back into the fold of psychic spies proved to be her soul mate, her eternal love, and she couldn’t hurt him again. She had to save him. Together they discovered that they were more powerful than any other psychic operative in the business and were finally able to escape the man who had trained them. But over the next years of trying to make a life together, they realized they’d never be free of Ian Stoddard. And Spence would never be free of his desire for the esoteric power of the Swords of Balance. As a priest of the cult of Anubis, she’d created the swords for him, then a queen, in a past life in ancient Egypt, and he’d used their esoteric power to defeat enemies of the kingdom. Since that life, the swords had brought untold misery and death to them in subsequent lives, and to the Gabriellis in their different incarnations as well.

The Swords of Balance weren’t inherently evil, but when separated and used in the pursuit of personal power, they consumed those who lusted after and wielded them. Spence and Rian had brought the swords together six years ago and lost them in the same moment. But Spence couldn’t live without them and had drifted further into the shadowy world of black magic and sexual ritual to try to manifest the swords again and wanted Rian to help him. But she refused and they drew apart. Even the Gabriellis, whom she’d come to love, had abandoned her, so consumed were they with trying to bring him back.

It would be too easy, even now, to follow the ever-present dark inclination and join him. But she would fight it with every breath, every thought, and focus on seeking the light of spiritual inspiration and power and helping others find it, too. Then, perhaps one day when her spirit was traveling the astral plane or the Spiritlands, she would keep on going and never again return to her body in this difficult, lonely life.

She’d never been much for planning the future, preferring to focus on creating in the moment. If she’d been able to live blissfully ignorant of the actual potential being created with every choice, instead of as a remote viewer who could see the results or potentials of a given option, she might have been surprised that things went so wrong, when it seemed they had a chance not to just survive but to put everything right. Ian Stoddard may have released them six years ago at the Great Sphinx of Giza, but they should have known they couldn’t escape destiny.

No matter how much of herself Rian had tried to pour into making a life of love with Spence, he demanded more and gave less and less back. Spence couldn’t fight the craving for the cosmic personal power the swords offered. Not for Rian. Not for his godson or his best friends. The yang to her yin, her soul mate was losing his way in the dark in equal and opposite proportion as Rian searched for the light.

Away from him for three years now, she still wasn’t free, held to earth by even those she’d helped with her healing abilities. They too tried to control her by demanding her constant attention and wanting her to do their mental work for them, just as Spence had. As Rian’s reputation as a healer grew, so did the number of those who expected to buy her, at whatever price, as they did all the other upscale services their A-List lives required.

Rian drew further into her inner landscape, searching for the power of her soul, preferring to accelerate her spiritual growth by learning to navigate other dimensions and realms farther from earth’s vibration. She could always feel Spence working in the opposite direction, and had learned to protect herself from his mental influence, though it hadn’t become any easier over time and space. She loved Spence and that made her vulnerable to him. No matter how much Spence wanted not to, even if he had any self-control or love left for her anymore, he would still use her, hurt her and ultimately kill her again.

“Return to me.”

The words decelerated her free flight, the ether wave slowing. Transparent thought forms of totem animals and helper spirits shimmered around her. Rian dared to open her thought. Other forms began to take shape, and she sensed the unique frequency or emotional signature of each.

As had been happening with almost frightening regularity, the higher her spirit soared, the more time spread out in all directions. It was like a holograph, an eternal now of past, present and future, as well as other dimensions and realities. Here, at zero point, she was free and part of the wave, as well as all her aspects and existences. Keeping those distinct was becoming more difficult, and she wondered why she must be separate from all those memories that were pure energy.

The thought or suggestion came to just let go … to sever the silver cord connecting her spirit with Rian’s body and ascend.

“Return to me,” the voice ordered again. His name formed on the sound of his calling to her.

Ian Stoddard.

Fear evolved to revulsion that churned through her stomach. She knew Ian had been psychically and physically monitoring her for years; if not personally, then he’d assigned a team of remote viewers to target her. In fact, he’d never stopped watching her since recruiting her in graduate school and perhaps even before that. She’d been successful at blocking their attempts to read her, but as she’d become more famous and sought after by the public, that opened her to psychic assault from other predators as well as ordinary people who wanted something from her.

Protecting herself mentally became her top priority, so that she could direct her energy to preserving her freedom to use her skills to help people. Ian was never interested in her healing skills. From their first meeting, when she was an undergraduate and he a visiting professor, he’d gained control over her, perverted her talents and convinced her she possessed no other purpose than to serve him and the hideous extension of his corrupt appetites, Datascape Systems International.

Was this audible psychic signal from Ian a notice that he could bring her back in any time and that time was now? He knew that she would never willingly return to him.

“Return, Rian. You were never apart from me, not really,” came Ian’s reply.

“I’ve never been with you. Really.” But she had. Rian tried to redirect her thinking away from him and their past, where she had loved him. Her ascension instantly retarded and she began to spiral toward the darkness.

Fear overwhelmed her, accelerating the descent. She willed her mind blank, for thoughts were immediately actualized here in the astral, unlike those in the dense materiality of the earth plane.

A swirling chaos of color flowed into a red river that pulled her downward. Like funerary masks, the horror-stricken faces of her once-dearest friends, Michael and Dorel Gabrielli, and beloved Spence struggled in the deadly current just ahead of her.

No! Not them. I won’t let you have them! Rian screamed, plunging faster, following her friends into the dark abyss.

A hand reached for her in the mental freefall. Rian’s awareness shifted from the hand that promised safety to her dying friends who needed her. She had to help them!

If they pull you into the darkness with them, all is lost, counseled a disincarnate voice. Come back now!

Rian snapped back into her overheated body, every cell convulsing with terror as impotent rage-driven sadness filled her consciousness.

The drumming silenced, but hot blood pounded under her sweaty skin as her lungs floundered. Rian’s wide eyes fixed on the center hole in the hogan’s roof. She tried to move her limbs and raise herself out of the dirt or close her mouth, which was open in a noiseless scream, but her paralyzed body refused to obey.

“She’s not breathing,” someone whispered.

“If she’s dead,” another said in a quivering voice, “cover that face with something. It’s like a horrible … hell, I’ve never seen anything like that.”

No! I’m alive. Help me, Rian’s thought shouted.

“Somebody better do something, or I’m going to freak,” a younger female voice squealed.

“Enough!” came a sharp command from somewhere across from Rian. “The woman has been spirit walking. She’s very much alive, more than any of you.”

A face hovered out-of-focus above hers. “Okay, if you say so. Should we go for help?”

“No. I will care for her.”

Muffled scuffling noises, mixed with lowered voices, as people got to their feet. Rian heard the young woman stage whisper, “You do wack stuff, get all freaked and come back looking worse than dead. What’s the point? You can keep the spirit walking. No way.”

“Don’t you recognize her?” another responded. “She’s that famous healer-psychic. The real thing, they say.”

“Huh. Well, I’m signed up for her class tomorrow, but I think I’ll do the hot stones massage instead.” The voices drifted off, leaving Rian aware of lying on the hogan’s floor and still not breathing. Yet, she was alive, wasn’t she?

A tall, lean man with straight, dark hair hanging around his angular features leaned within three inches of her face, took a drag on a long-stemmed pipe and blew sweet-smelling smoke into Rian’s nostrils. “Return now, spirit, to the healer!”

With a resounding thump in her solar plexus chakra, Rian’s body sucked in air and her heart echoed a rhythmic thrumming of life. “Wha-what happened?” she asked and attempted to lever herself to her elbows.

He laid a hand on her shoulder. “Stay still a moment and center yourself.”

Rian’s gaze drifted to the slender fingers. This was a magician’s hand of great power, the only one that could have saved her from the abyss. She eased back, closing her eyes, focused on her breathing and waited for answers.

“I am Chevayo,” he said, his deep voice conjuring waves of sensation that threatened to inundate her defenses. Spirit Warrior, his name meant. Then it was he who had saved her in the Spiritlands, if that’s where she’d been. Rian licked her dry lips and started to thank him.

He pressed soft, cool fingertips to her mouth. “Wait. To speak now is to put your weakened spirit at risk. Only water should pass your closed lips until sunrise. You can stand now. I will take you back to your casita.”

Rian didn’t consider arguing with the charismatic man. Her knees wobbled a bit, but he supported her with an arm around her waist until she stood steady. The night air was gloriously cool on her parched skin, but she shivered under Chevayo’s watchful support as he walked her in silence back to the resort.

As a visiting VIP lecturer to the resort’s world-famous wellness spa, Rian rated a large Santa Fe-style private bungalow on the top tier, with magnificent views of the canyon and its famed energy vortex. Chevayo waited on the porch steps while she unlocked the door. Mouth still closed tightly as ordered, Rian turned back to him and gave a self-conscious shrug.

Chevayo’s slow smile lent sensual curves to his face’s harsh angles. Rian saw in his brown eyes what he was going to do, but she couldn’t move. He stepped close and stared intently, as if to her heart. Rian trembled as his lips caressed her ear, and she closed her eyes as exquisite shivers radiated from the point of contact.

“You cannot hide … from your destiny,” he whispered, adding a gentle shush as she opened her mouth to defend herself. “Do not defend your fears. Release them. Your friends have their roles to play, that you must not alter. Step into your true power, for you must save the One.”

After a few moments of silence, Rian opened her eyes and found herself alone on the porch. However much his seemingly spontaneous disappearance confused her, his succumbing to unnecessary homily when she’d been pretty sure he intended to kiss her was most troubling. How had he been able to get past her defenses to stir up feelings that she hadn’t herself allowed in a very long time?

Obviously, she didn’t know Chevayo or what he was about, other than his being a shaman with the ability to share a spirit walk. He couldn’t know her or her real-life situation well enough to counsel her to turn away from Dorel, Michael and Spence. If the vision could be believed, they were in danger, and no doubt from Ian, just as she was. While Spence could more than defend himself against the paranormal powers that Ian wielded, Dorel and Michael couldn’t. That meant their eleven-year-old son Marty was exposed and in danger. She’d always known on some level that Ian’s ultimate target was the boy and had tried to convince his parents and Spence to at least consider the possibility. But their best defense, Michael and Dorel believed, lay in attempting to live an ordinary life with an extraordinary son. While Spence hadn’t encouraged their view, he hadn’t discouraged it either, as Rian had.

Despite what Chevayo advised, Rian had a duty to Dorel and Michael to do everything she possibly could to protect them, whether they wanted her help or not. But first, she must set aside any concern for herself and contact Spence. Only by working together again would they have any hope of defeating Ian for good.

Seattle, Washington

“Tell me you love me,” she whispered, resting her forehead on his chest.

I can’t. “Trust me. I care,” Jonathan Spencer murmured into her hair.

“I can’t do this anymore, Spence,” she sobbed. “I wanted to believe … I thought I’d be able to do it the way you want,” she murmured, her breath warm on his bare skin.

He sighed. You can’t do it the way I need it. No one can but her.

The blonde continued to sob into his chest. “I just can’t, you know, do this when you don’t care about me like I do you. I deserve better.”

He closed his eyes and made soothing sounds as he stroked her smooth, bare back. Jessica was a beautiful, smart woman, and she was right. She deserved much better, someone who would love her. And that would never be him.

His heart and soul would always belong to another.

Spence let his mind drift where it always did. Rian. What they had been able to do together no one would believe. Not even themselves, at first.

Why wouldn’t she channel their combined power to create the Swords of Balance? After all, it was the two of them in a different incarnation who’d created the swords long ago. They were his to use as he pleased now, just like when she’d created them for him in ancient Egypt.

The energy bodies of the swords were waiting out in the etheric world to be called into material existence again, but he couldn’t do it alone and needed Rian like before. If she could trust that he wouldn’t hurt her and only use the swords to defend himself–and her, of course–but she didn’t believe him. He knew he could handle the power.

Jessica’s crying had stopped, and he kissed the top of her head. “Do you want to stay and just relax, or shall I put you in a cab?”

“I’ll go. I’ve got an early appointment tomorrow.”

They dressed in silence, Jessica avoiding eye contact. Spence didn’t have to be a remote viewer to know it was over.

Downstairs, he held the umbrella over her and opened the cab’s door. She slipped inside and looked up at him through the rain-spattered window. The sadness in her thoughts matched that in her eyes. Spence stepped back under the building’s awning and watched the cab pull into traffic.

Rian. Her face flashed into his mind just before his cell phone vibrated in his pocket. He hadn’t spoken to her in a couple of years, because she’d stopped taking his calls and blocked his attempts to mentally communicate with her. Now she was allowing–no, initiating–contact. Why?

“Hey, babe, what’s up?” he asked, his hand doing a minor tremor on the phone at his ear. He nodded to the doorman opening the one of the double doors, and walked inside toward the elevators.

After a moment, she answered. “Spence, have you heard from Dorel and Michael lately?”

Not even, “How are you, Spence?” He made sure the elevator was empty before he got in. “Yeah, sure,” he lied. She sounded worried and was allowing him to perceive it. “Hang on. I may lose you inside the elevator.”

“Spence, when was the last time you talked to them?”

He thought a moment. “A couple of weeks, I guess. But they’re okay, or Marty would have let me know … like he does you?” Spence probed.

His godson, Marty Gabrielli, was careful not to take sides, but he did remind Spence, in that odd ascended master way of his, that Spence and Rian were soul mates and their destiny was together. Spence suspected that he kept in close mental contact with Rian, telling her the same thing. The boy had been born special, gifted with unusual knowledge, and as they later learned, possessing memories and skills from all his past lifetimes, many of which Spence and Rian had played a role in, along with the Swords of Balance.

Silence on her end.

“Are you getting something different?” he asked, beginning to feel her concern in his gut. “I didn’t think you were working to protect them anymore.”

“Despite what you may think and have told them, I care very much about Dorel and Michael. Remember, I believe there is more power in strengthening oneself than in focusing on attack and defense.”

“Easy, Rian. I get that you’re upset, but let’s ratchet down the paranoia, okay? We don’t talk about you anymore. What Mike and Dorel think about you, I wouldn’t know. I’ve kept my promise not to view them, and they’ve agreed not to talk to me about you.” He felt her mental hackles rise, and grinned. Even New Age gurus had their hot buttons.

“Paranoia? That’s not my issue, as you well know.” Abrupt silence followed. Spence knew she was clamping pearly whites on her sharp tongue. “Look, can we not do this?”

“Sure, babe. Anything you want,” he said, not bothering to dull the sarcastic edge in his voice. He used to regret that getting hurt and losing her turned him into an asshole, but not anymore. The anger worked for him, simmering just under the surface, boiling away qualms of fear as well as any remnants of humanity. Always better to inflict pain than to wallow in it.

“I want–would you just listen, please? I’ve had a vision that was very troubling.”

Then don’t chase visions. “Yeah? About what?”

She expelled a breath. “I think it was a prescient warning that Dorel and Mike are in danger. And you were in the vision, too.”

A river of red flashed into his mind’s eye. He was being dragged along in the turbulence behind Dorel and Mike toward what seemed like a pit of death. Okay, not good as visions went. Now he understood why she’d called him. This wasn’t just a random hallucination, it was projected with purpose to Rian.

“Yes, that’s what I thought, too,” she agreed.

“Who’s doing this and why haven’t I gotten it?”

“I think it’s Ian. I heard him calling to me to return to him. This means he’s targeting only me, and I don’t know why.”

“Maybe he’s trying to bring you back in,” Spence suggested. “Or could be you’ve sent some sort of subconscious signal that you want to come back.” That was possible. In their worst arguments, he’d accused her of being no better than a Datascape whore who loved her work, because she’d had no problem psychically spying on him and executing whatever degrading assignment Stoddard gave her.

Six years ago, Ian had ordered her to use sex to breach Spence’s deprogramming and bring his psychic skills back online for Datascape to use him again. Then she’d claimed she loved him and wanted his love, too. Even though she said their love saved them from the psychic spymaster Ian Stoddard then, Spence never believed he was through with them, especially not with Rian, who’d had a long-term affair with the son of a bitch.

“I see you haven’t changed. You’re still blaming me for what I did before we were together, though I’ve more than atoned for what I did to you then. But because you can’t change, you won’t let me. However, that’s only in your own mind, because I have changed, Spence. I don’t want to fight your kinds of battles anymore, and I’m not about to be used by anyone, especially not that son of a bitch.”

“Ah, I forgot you were listening in to my evil mind.” Spence got off the elevator at the penthouse and entered the security code on the keypad beside his apartment’s front door.

“Did you?” She wasn’t buying that he’d forgotten to shield his angry feelings about her betrayal.

“If you say you don’t want to go back, why do you think he’s targeting you?” he asked.

“That’s just it, I don’t know. And the vision really worries me.”

She was afraid, and that stirred up the urge to protect her, despite himself. “He’s probably just screwing with you. Entertaining himself and letting you know that he’s still out there.”

“I don’t need you to minimize this for me, Spence. I need for you to check on Mike and Dorel,” she said stiffly, erecting a shield around her feelings. “I can take care of Ian myself.”

Spence didn’t believe that. Stoddard’s particular twisted malice was imprinted all over this, and he was allowing them to perceive it. That was cause for concern. “Mike and Dorel are fine. Marty would know if they were in trouble, and he’d tell us.”

“But it’s possible that Ian’s able to block Marty, and us.”

“Possible. Maybe, if you believe the latest BS from the industry. Datascape has put the word out that they’ve developed new tech, but exactly what is anyone’s guess. They’ve been mentally projecting suggestions of new, unlimited abilities out to their former clients, most of whom are mine now. I don’t think they’ve actually got the new tech online. They’re just implanting a sense of dissatisfaction in my clients, along with anticipation of having some limitless, secret power at their disposal that only Datascape can provide. It’s crap.”

“Spence, Ian may not have had such personal psychic power or technology when we worked for him, but he could actually have it now. He was able to project audio. It wasn’t a suggestion or feeling. I heard him call me. Then, when I was out-of-body in the etheric, I experienced the vision he created. It should only have been my thoughts, not someone else’s. Not his.”

Spence wasn’t convinced. “There are no hard rules for out-of-body travel. It’s the ether, the zero-point field of quantum potential and unmanifested energy. Anything can happen in that particle-antiparticle soup. Instead of vision-questing for some elusive spiritual guidance, you should be learning to control the potentials and energy to manifest what we need here. That’s the only way we’re going to stop Stoddard, you know that. Quit worrying about people who don’t want your help. Help me bring back the Swords of Balance and we can kill the son of a bitch.”

“I’m not going to get into that once more. You know I don’t work that way. I’ll never use my gifts against anyone again,” she vowed.

“Hell no, why dirty your pure hands when you can leave the filthy business of cleaning up real evil shit to the likes of me,” he reacted, grinding his teeth with resentment.

A warm wave of love carried her next words to him. “This is important to me, Spence,” she said, her soft, caring voice offering salve to scars he denied. “I would appreciate it if you could at least call the Gabriellis, tell them my concerns and ask if they’ll allow our mental protection.”

A flare of hope shot through him. “Allow our protection, Rian? You and I working together again? Does that mean you’re coming … home?”

“Oh, Spence,” she murmured, “I still love you, but I can’t be with you and you know why.”

“Yeah,” he said and clicked the phone off.

Copyright © 2005 Melinda Rucker Haynes


Coffee Time Romance – Rating: 4 Cups

Rian Farsante, a former psychic spy, now devotes her abilities to help people realize their spiritual potential. Rian has a vision where she sees her godson Marty and his parents Michael and Dorel in danger. She does not want to contact her former fiancé and godfather to Marty, Jonathan Spencer, about Marty but feels she has no choice.

Jonathan Spencer wants to recreate the Swords of Balance. Spence has delved into the darkness of the sexual ritual but has had no success in recreating the swords. He thinks he will be able to defeat their enemies once and for all with the swords. But Rian refuses to help him thinking it will be their deaths, even though she originally created the swords in a past life for Spence. Spence grows farther apart from his friends as he tries to recreate the swords.

When Rian contacts Spence about Marty being in danger, he thinks she is playing with his mind. Spence realizes that Rian is correct when Marty is kidnapped by their old enemy, Ian Stoddard. Ian is convinced that Marty is the One, the Essence, and he wants control of that power. Spence will do whatever it takes to get the swords and Marty back. Can Rian pull Spence back to the light and show him he is going down the path of destruction before it is too late?

Essence of Trust has everything from reincarnation, Egyptian gods, Native American spirit warriors, tantric sex, and ancient samurai swords creating a complex story that will leave you spellbound. The six characters development is important to the plot. This book is the third book in the Eternal Trust saga. Not having read the other two books, I was able to follow along with the storyline. Ms. Haynes has created a romance that lingers long after you close the book. You will not be disappointed with this non- conventional romance.

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 – Reviewed by Kelley Hartsell

Melinda Rucker Haynes’ highly acclaimed Trust saga concludes with Essence of Trust, the final book in the trilogy.

This book picks up some years after Breach of Trust, after two legendary Samurai swords have disappeared and changed the lives of five incredible people, among others. Mike and Dorel Gabrielli’s son Marty is now at the cusp of manhood, and only beginning to come into the powers he has inherited through multiple lifetimes, one of which was Dorel’s beloved grandfather. Rian Farsante and Jonathan "Spence" Spencer, soulmates who are loyal friends to the Gabriellis have been torn apart by Spence’s lust for power which has led him to use his abilities for the dark side. All of them have been affected by the power infused in any wielder of the swords, their lives irreparably changed.

Ancient legend, dating far back in Egyptian history, if not farther, speaks of the coming of the One, a powerful Essence that will control the world. Whether that control is used to destroy or to heal the world as we know it remains to be determined. Ian Stoddard, an extremely strong psychic spy for whom Mike, Spence, and Rian all worked with at one time, believes Marty to be the One, and seeks to use Marty’s powers to take over the world. Time is running out as all players, good or bad, race to defeat an evil stronger than any of them can imagine; that is at the beginning, the very heart of the mystery of the swords. Can all of them find their destiny and use their powers for what they are meant to before this evil consumes them, possibly even costing some their current life?

As with the previous two books in the saga, the story line is very complex due to the very nature of its reincarnation plotline. However, in this book, less focus is placed on past lives, though they do have an integral role, with the focus this time being on the here and now … and what is to come. One will find this book is not one to be rushed through, but is meant to be savored and read slowly so as to grasp the true meaning of the story and the symbolic nature of so many things, or people, found within. Many questions will be answered, and yet a few are left hanging, perhaps for effect, or something more? Readers must pick up this book for themselves to make that determination. Also be forewarned, there are multiple, totally shocking, plot twists that will make readers gasp aloud in disbelief and shout "that can’t happen that way!"

The previous two stories were more of an action tale, with an underlying love story. Though the undercurrent of a love story is evident here, it is not as strong as in the previous two stories, in this reviewer’s opinion, but it is most definitely there. There are actually several different kinds of love, to include romance, experienced by the characters, which makes this an even more powerful story then the previous two. Readers will feel Rian’s pain as she watches her beloved Spence fall deeper into the dark arts, knowing there is not much she can do to help him. A familial kind of love is evident here as well, between the Gabriellis and Rian and Spence. Marty, though showing the typical behavior of a young boy his age, also has an underlying wisdom of the ages, that will amaze and captivate readers, making them wonder how he knows so much for one so young. How everyone comes together in the paths Destiny has chosen for them will engross the reader right through to the very last page of the book.

Essence of Trust indeed ends this chapter in a strong saga, but ends it in such a way to give one hope that maybe, just maybe, if destiny is kind, we may at some future date get to cross our paths with those friends … and enemies … found between these pages. Only the fates know for certain.

The Romance Reader’s Connection

Dorel and Michael Gabrielli have more to worry about than the average parent. Their eleven-year-old son, Marty, is a psychic adept. He has displayed astonishing talents throughout his young life. Dorel and Michael are more understanding of this than most parents, since they had been involved with the world of psychic spying (called remote viewing) for years. Wanting to give Marty a normal life, however, they have turned their back on that world. But the past is about to come calling.

Dr. Ian Stoddard runs Datascape Systems, a company devoted to the development and acquisition of psychic intelligence. Through this research, Ian knows that soon, the One will be incarnated on earth. This individual will be virtually all-powerful. Ian wants to be the one to control that power, for his own gain. Two former employees, Jonathan Spencer (Spence) and Rian Farsante, oppose Ian, each for their own reasons. Rian and Spence have a long history together. In fact, all of the players who assemble for this momentous occasion have a long history; untold intertwined lifetimes, lived out over millennia. Now is the time for the actions of all of their lifetimes to come to fruition. Will it be for good, or for evil?

Although this is the third book in a series, it works well on its own. The author takes care to fill in the characters’ backgrounds for new readers. The only potential drawback for new readers is the irresistible desire to read the previous books, THE ETERNAL TRUST and BREACH OF TRUST. Since this is part of a series, the characters and their various relationships are all very deep and layered. The narrative, combining paranormal, romance, action, and adventure, moves along at a brisk pace that will keep readers turning the pages. ESSENCE OF TRUST is an original, intelligent, and complex novel; dealing with reincarnation, the interconnection of souls, and the possible future of mankind. While this is a complete story, there is clearly more to come. I’m looking forward to the continuation of this mesmerizing tale.

Romance Reviews Today

Sedona, Arizona – Present Day

Six souls are united in the ever after, destined to live many lives with and through each other until they learn the lessons fate has in store for them. Mother, brother, lover, friend, and enemy are just a few of the shifting relationships Rian, Spence, Dorel, Michael, Marty and Ian will experience through several lifetimes, with the hands of the gods occasionally stirring the pot. But the time has come for a new breakthrough. For the One, or the Essence, is coming, and each of these individuals has a role to play to determine the fate of the world.

Since her split with her fiancé, Jonathan Spencer, Rian Farsante has stayed far away from her old friends, Michael and Dorel, and their son Marty. As psychic assassins for Datascape Inc., Rian and Spence were asked to do many things that blackened their souls. Determined to save themselves, they got out before it was too late, but Spence was still drawn to the darker arts. Not wanting to be dragged down that pathway, Rian left Spence and the friends who seemed too willing to support him. Instead, Rian seeks to use her gifts to heal others, to help them achieve a higher state of spirituality. But strange visions have started to plague her, indicating something new, and possibly dangerous, in the wind. When her ex-boss, Ian Stoddard, the head of Datascape as well as her old boyfriend, threatens her, Rian realizes she’s going to have to call Spencer, for only together can they defeat Ian.

Jonathan Spencer has never forgotten, nor stopped loving, Rian. Since the era of the Egyptian pharaohs, they have been reincarnated as lovers in every lifetime. But they’ve never figured out how to live peacefully and lovingly together. Spence believes that if they regenerate the Swords of Balance, two powerful psychic weapons, they could defeat their enemies once and for all. Too bad Rian thinks bringing the swords back will only drown them in more death and destruction. When Marty is kidnapped and Dorel and Michael left for dead, Spence and Rian come to their rescue. But can they find a way to work through the strong physical attraction pulling them together and all the water under the bridge that’s tugging them apart?

ESSENCE OF TRUST, like Melinda Rucker Haynes’s other Trust novels, has, at its core, the theme of the transformational power of love. Although the protagonists have worked through several lifetimes together, it is the current one in which the stars are aligned to enable them to achieve a higher state of being, nirvana, if you will. But only if they make the right choices. Up to now, Rian and Spence seem to have only made the wrong choices, neither able to take the high road in their personal conflicts. With each hurtful remark, they sting each other’s souls, decreasing their spiritual alignment with a higher power and opening themselves up to the temptations of the dark arts. Through her spirit guide, Rian learns patience and that her love is what will help Spencer deal with his issues.

Although this story is about Rian and Spence’s reconnection with each other, it’s hard to denote the other characters as secondary since they all have huge parts to play and to follow their own plot lines. I would say that this is an ensemble cast and their adventures do not end with this book. . . . they are characters you can relate to, demonstrating what people do to each other when their trust in the relationship is shaky. . . . I would highly recommend reading the previous books . . . this one throws a lot of things at you — ninjas, Egyptian gods, Native American spirit warriors, tantric sex, mystical swords . . . One of the good things I got from ESSENCE OF TRUST is it piqued my interest to pick up the first two books to see where these characters came from.

If you’re looking for angst, psychics, gods and demons, pick up a copy of ESSENCE OF TRUST. It’s not your average romance.

Rian starts to have visions of Ian, her old boss, calling her back into the fold. Dreading the sense of foreboding that envelops her she calls her ex-fiancé, Spence to warn him about her vision. All she asks is that he contacts Mike and Dorel, friends that they had helped not long ago in freeing them and their son from Ian’s crazy plans. Now with the visions starting she senses Ian is closer to completing his plans than she thought.

Jonathan Spencer, Spence, wants Rian to come back to him but still believes all the things she did in the past when they worked for Ian. Not wanting to believe anything has changed, he fights against his feelings for her. When he finds Mike and Dorel at their cabin in the mountains but Marty is missing, he starts to believe Rian’s visions and the fight is on to get Marty back from Ian and stop his plans before something worse happens.

This book is a nonstop thrill ride of intrigue and the paranormal. Ms. Rucker Haynes produces a fascinating story filled with the fight against good and evil with fantastic characters and overwhelming tension. A truly great read for someone who adores the paranormal and suspense gripping stories. Great job Ms. Rucker Haynes. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

Amazon Book Review

Psychologist Rian Farsante begins having visions that her godson eleven year old Marty and his parents Michael and Dorel Gabrielli are in danger form her former employee, mentor, and lover Ian Stoddard of Datascape Systems. She calls her former partner and her last lover Jonathan Spencer to ask if Marty is okay, but instead of concern he demands she come back to him to create the Sword of Balance that he swears he will only use for good. Rian refuses having left her beloved because he is turning to the dark and the Swords of Balance that he and Ian covet will destroy his soul.

Rian’s vision turns out truer than she even dreamed as Michael and Dorel are murdered and Marty is abducted. Deciding rescuing Marty is top priority; Rian agrees to partner with her soulmate risking her life and soul by doing so. As the danger mounts with Ian having the support of the evil God Anubis, Jonathan pressures her to create a new Swords of Balance, but she remains reluctant as she does not trust her beloved even as Ian psychically tries to coerce her to return to him.

ESSENCE OF TRUST is an exciting paranormal fantasy that grips readers once the triangular relationships between Rian, Jonathan, and Ian and their abilities surface. Rian is the key to the story line as the two men from her past demand she join their side of the dispute, but she distrusts both of them. Though complex and overloaded with otherworldly elements, fans of modern day fantasy thrillers can trust Melinda Rucker Haynes for providing an enchanting tale.

Sime~Gen Book Reviews

To the literal mind, Essence of Trust is the story of Rian Farsante and Jonathan Spencer who, together with Mike and Dorel Gabrielli, rush to save the Gabriellis’ son, Marty, from kidnappers who are led by Dr. Ian Stoddard.

But to the literary mind, this is a story of good and evil and the psychic forces at work around us all. It speaks of soul mates and reincarnation and chakras and shamans and, yes, the energy vortex located in Sedona, Arizona.

It will matter not if you believe but merely that you keep an open mind. This book is for anyone who wishes to learn more than they know now. It will, due to our upbringing, mean different things to different people. To any religious belief, this novel can become a powerful parable.

Strong intense characterizations and a mesmerizing story will keep you entertained as well as enlightened. Melinda Rucker Haynes tells a good story. Sit down and enjoy it.