Far in the future, when love was unknown and freedom a crime, a lone rebel was desperate to learn what his world had lost. In a daring experiment, he reached into the past--and found a woman unlike any he had ever known....
Marina's fear of this strange and forbidding time was equaled only by her breathtaking passion for the man who had brought her there, the man she called Sam. And she knew it was up to her to teach him--and his cold, lonely world--the meaning of love.
In a time where a true union of hearts was outlawed, they dared to break the rules. But what price would they ultimately be forced to pay?
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By Ann Williams
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the year 2393 A.D. life on planet Earth had taken an unprecedented turn. The Earth was once more filled with life and beauty. Animals lived free without fear of extinction, because hunting had been outlawed.
The average life expectancy of a human being was one hundred years. Jobs, food, clothing, shelter and health care were all taken care of by the government without worry to any person. There was no hunger, no pollution and no war. There were no prisons, because there was no crime. Weapons were possessed only by law-enforcement agencies.
Man had finally been freed from worry and the need to make choices concerning everyday life. He lived within the iron bars of the society forged by that desire to be totally free.
And so he desperately sought a way to be freed from the shackles of that freedom - before it spread like a plague throughout history.
Sammell placed the small pink vase in the center of the Recep and took his seat at the computer terminal. One last time he checked the equipment for signs of malfunction. Next he checked the electronic jamming device that would ensure against a government probe, seeking high levels of energy within the city sector. Everything looked good.
Turning back to the monitor, he stared at the blank screen and white blinking cursor. Once he keyed in the formula, the transference would begin and nothing could stop it until the process was complete.
His eyes swerved toward the chronometer. In two minutes it would be midnight. Flexing his fingers hovering over the keyboard, he felt a strange cold excitement begin to fill him. It was time. Taking a deep breath, he lowered his hands until the tips of his fingers touched the cold plastic keys and began to move with a will of their own.
Mathematical equations filled the screen and a low humming began to vibrate the air around him. The letters and numbers typed into the computer were being transformed into electrical impulses and sent to MDAT - Molecular Displacement Activator and Transporter. Quicker than a fleeting thought, details of distance, time and space were being coordinated with energy and mass. And with this information, MDAT was able to adjust the level of power needed for this particular experiment.
Sammell's fingers flew and the screen became a rolling white blur. MDAT's steady hum grew and leveled to a low-pitched roar, filling Sammell's head with the sound of the ocean on a windy day.
His breathing quickened. The ends of his hair felt electrified. The exposed skin of his face and neck, hands and arms tingled as though a million tiny insects invaded each pore. The level of static energy in the room grew to a never-before-equaled proportion.
All at once a low-pitched beeping began as MDAT's lens slowly opened. An instant later, a laser-thin jet of deep blue light shot toward the Recep. Flamelike excitement licked along Sammell's veins. He swung eager eyes toward the grid and saw it begin to glow with a deep violet light.
The beeping escalated until it became a high-pitched whine, bouncing off the walls and echoing inside his head. His heart bumped in unison with it, and a vein began to throb at his temple.
The Recep's glow intensified. Sammell's breath became trapped in his chest as the metal frame began to waver like bands of heat over a hot pavement. There was a sudden flash of blue light. Sammell wrenched his head to one side - and the room was suddenly silent.
Opening his eyes, he turned slowly toward the Recep. It no longer glowed. And the vase was gone!
For a moment, he couldn't seem to move. He sat staring at the spot where the vase had rested within the Recep's confines only moments ago, half expecting to blink and find it had reappeared.
His head swiveled toward the monitor. Transfer complete flashed across the screen and MDAT's mechanical voice confirmed it.
Success! The word flowed over and through him like an electric current. Releasing a pent-up breath, he allowed his shoulders to sag. The first half of the experiment was complete.
Sitting back in his chair, Sammell turned once more to stare at the empty Recep, trying to envision the vase taking shape high atop a sharp mountain peak, or in some verdant sheltered valley miles from here. And then an uncomfortable thought gnawed at the edges of his mind. What would Lord Bartell, the director of the state lab where he worked, do if he knew what Sammell had just accomplished?
He frowned. There was no question about it. He'd have Sammell arrested. It was only because of his brilliance in the field of physics and related sciences that he was even working on project Deliverance. And even that wouldn't stop the inevitable if anyone learned about the information and equipment he'd been stealing from the government archives and lab over the past year.
In the past week, there had been plenty of indication that someone in the lab was being investigated. There was nothing unusual about having government people snooping into everything, but Sammell had noticed a heavier concentration of gun-toting guards at all the doors in the building. And by listening to conversations not meant for his ears, he knew Bartell was discussing each small bit of progress made with a government adviser.
Though Sammell had no tangible reason to think he was the one under investigation, he'd been especially careful to appear as mindlessly subservient as everyone else. He knew that given the government's paranoid perspective, a complaint lodged against him for any reason could spell disaster, not only for his unauthorized work at home, but on a personal level, as well.
It was a well-known fact that enemies of the state disappeared without a trace. His own parents had disappeared that way when he was a young boy. That's why Sammell didn't want the government to -
MDAT began to hum. The message on the screen now read Inversion begun. And again, the metallic voice echoed the words.
The vase was returning.
Sammell had set the chronometer for only a short span of time for this first attempt at matter transfer. All he wanted was to verify that his new formula worked.
In the state lab they'd had a problem with returning objects losing their uniformity. And until that problem was solved, only inanimate material could be transported, bringing the project to a virtual standstill.
Because he'd been working on the idea of matter transfer for most of his adult life, Sammell had a theory about what they were doing wrong. He'd been carefully directing the project scientists working with him away from the area he thought to be in error. Now, in a few moments, he'd know whether he'd been right.
MDAT's hum grew to a low-pitched roar and the warning beep began to sound as the lens started to open, but this time, there was no beam of light. Now the machine acted as a gigantic magnet, attracting the ionized particles into which it had earlier transformed the vase.
Sammell felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck as the warning beep grew louder. His eyes flew to the Recep's luminous frame.
The vase arrived without ceremony, simply materializing as he watched. Transfer complete, MDAT verbalized softly once again. With a nod of satisfaction, Sammell rose and started toward the Recep.
The machine at his back faltered. He hesitated, threw a puzzled glance over his shoulder, checked the monitor for signs of a problem and, finding none, swung back toward the Recep.
Excerpted from Sam's World by Ann Williams Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.