The moment Dominick Chance opened his eyes he understood that he numbered among the dead. A slight twinge echoed in his neck; a remnant of his fatal injury. He shot half off the plush bed he reclined in, looked around in a panic, and prayed Sophie survived the wreck.
Not seeing her anywhere went halfway to allaying his fears, enough for him to be surprised at the most luxurious room he could have dreamed of.
Bemused, Dom climbed out of bed. He wore his normal, every-day clothes, meaning he wore nothing save baggy sweats. Nothing hurt, and he retained all of his body parts, so he assumed he hadn’t landed in hell. The cavernous room held multiple sitting areas filled with overstuffed chairs and settees, all of which somehow managed to not look overly feminine. An open set of double doors led to a bathroom, which surpassed even his expensive facilities in New York. It boasted a marble tub big enough for ten, a walk in shower with multiple heads, and a spacious double vanity with ten-foot mirrors behind it. Dead and still I’ll need a toilet. Dom shook his head and left the bathroom to continue his exploration.
Glass doors led to a balcony overlooking an interior courtyard. Animals he didn’t recognize played impish games around a glorious tree in the center. The very sight invigorated him.
Asura, Tree of Life, his mind whispered. First animals. Eden.
Asura stood at a towering height. Quiet luminescence glistened from her smooth limbs as she drank in the sun. Her leaves shone with autumn’s bold hues of red and gold, yet she released none to the ground. Fruits ranging the color spectrum dangled heavily on her branches.
Eyes wide, Dom pulled his gaze to the walls of Eden. Carved, intricate mosaics glittered softly with warm gilding.
Lost in his musings, Dom startled when he heard a door open. He froze, hoping fiercely for anyone other than Sophie to be behind him when he turned.
“Impressive, is it not?” asked a male voice. Dom spun in surprise. He found his good friend Vince Flynn walking towards him. Vince smiled at the startled expression on Dom’s face.
“Vince. Sophie. Is she here?”
“Sophie lives. Not so happily as she did, but she lives, she will heal, and she will join you when her time comes.” Dom breathed a sigh of relief at his friend’s reassuring smile. “Welcome to the afterlife. Or heaven, if you prefer, though religious denomination plays no part here. Are you up to a tour?”
“Suppose I am. I think I slept through my passage into the pearly gates,” Dom replied, half joking. Vince grinned, eyes twinkling with humor.
“Come with me, you’ll figure it out. We’ll take a tour of the manor. Afterwards, we’ll come back here and discuss what your suite has to offer. I saw it all in this order, so I’m going to follow the pattern. I won’t explain a lot because you’ll understand the things you encounter. While we walk, why don’t you talk to me about Tessa and what you planned for her before you wrecked that beautiful machine of yours?”
As they left the suite, Dom looked about him in no small amount of wonder. Everything surrounding him, including the oriental rugs and the art framed on the walls, possessed at least some of the now familiar gold. It managed to look classy and elegant. Dom figured anything with this much gold should look ostentatious, but somehow, the décor here managed not to.
Dom knew with sudden surety the manor house looked different to everyone. In Dom’s eyes, the manor reminded him a bit of the ballroom at the Waldorf. Dom kept one attentive eye on his surroundings as he contemplated Tessa’s story. One he’d never write, but he knew deep down the story would play itself out just fine.
Rebecca, a military wife, combat veteran, and mother of three girls and one boy, and a marketing graduate. She grew up in central New York and has spent the last several years moving between army bases with her family. “Apotheosis” is her first foray into the world of writing.