Shivani stood in the empty hall, staring at Patrick. What he was saying was impossible.
“If you want to help them, then you have to choose,” Patrick said, as pulled out a key from his pocket. Shivani heard the click and he unlocked the door. He held it open for her once it swung open. “And it has to be your choice alone.”
“But, I’m not ready,” Shivani protested. It was too soon. Her mind still whirled from his revelation. She needed more time to prepare. Her stomach tightened as she followed him into the large dark room. It looked like a library, with its shelves that spanned the walls from the floor to the ceiling. “I didn’t even finish the school year.”
“I know. I wish that we had more time,” Patrick said, frowning at her. He flicked on the light switch. His concern was obvious, as he placed his hands on her shoulders. “I wouldn’t normally ask you to choose yet, but we need your help.” He dropped his hands from her shoulders and walked over to a panel on the wall behind the desk. “And we need it now.”
“Why can’t you come with me?” Shivani pleaded. There was no way she could do this by herself.
“I wish I could go with you,” Patrick said. A part of him was tempted to accompany her. “I really do. But I can’t.”
“Why not?” she demanded.
Patrick sighed. There were two reasons, but he would only tell her what she needed to know. “They know me. As soon as I enter that realm, the energy will shift. They have Seers who will recognize the change the minute I arrive. But you have a chance to get in there undetected.”
“But you can disguise yourself,” Shivani protested. There was a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that she would lose this argument. But she persisted. “You can make them see what you want them to.”
“It’s not that simple,” Patrick replied, shaking his head. “Humans in this realm are unaware. It’s much easier for me to manipulate energy here. But the Devas and Asuras aren’t so easily deceived. It takes more energy to hide from them.”
Shivani couldn’t admit defeat so easily. She needed Patrick by her side for her first trip to Bharat. “What difference does it make if they do discover you? They can’t hurt you.”
“No, they can’t hurt me,” Patrick replied, and looked her straight in the eye. It was time to tell her the truth. “But they can hurt your parents.”
Shivani started at his words. “My parents?” she repeated, frowning. “What does this have to do with my parents? They’re dead.”
Patrick studied the emotions that flitted across her face. He had to tell her. It was the only way she would be ready to face the situation in Bharat. “What do you know about your parents?”
“Well,” Shivani hesitated. “Not a lot. I mean, the people at the agency told me that I was left at an orphanage in India when I was a baby.”
“And?” Patrick tilted his head. He leaned against the desk and crossed his arms. “What else did they tell you?”
As Patrick’s gaze narrowed, it occurred to Shivani that she had never questioned the story. “Not much more than that,” Shivani shrugged. “Just that an American couple adopted me and brought me to this country. But they were killed in a car accident when I was little. No one else wanted to adopt me. So I went back into the foster care system.” Shivani studied the floor. It sounded so much more pathetic when she said it out loud. She didn’t like that at all. “I’ve been there ever since then.”
“So, no one knew who left you at the orphanage?” Patrick persisted. He suspected what her answer would be, but wanted to make sure.
“No,” Shivani whispered. Was it possible that her parents were still alive? That they were the ones who left her at the orphanage? Her heart started beating wildly.
Patrick knew what she was thinking. He hated to crush her hopes, but she had to know. “They weren’t the ones who dropped you off at the orphanage,” he said softly. He winced when he saw the light go out of her eyes.
Shivani’s shoulders slumped. He was probably right, but that small sliver of hope prompted her to question him. “How do you know that? Did you see it?”
Patrick hesitated. It didn’t take his Seer’s abilities to see that Shivani wasn’t going to respond well to the truth. What was the best way to approach this revelation? “I guess you could say that.”
“Oh,” Shivani muttered, disappointed. Patrick’s visions were always accurate. “Did you see what happened in a vision?”
“No,” Patrick replied. “It wasn’t a vision.” When Shivani looked at him with confusion, he gave up his feeble attempts at tactful disclosure. “It was me, Shivani,” he stood up and looked into the golden eyes that reminded him so much of someone else he had once loved. “I’m the one who left you at the orphanage in India.”