by C. Elizabeth
Publisher: Wings ePress
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format: Paperback, Kindle
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“Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil.”
Words that ring true for seventeen-year-old Saydi Gardiner upon discovering her ancestry. But if she has doubts, further confirmation is forthcoming and it comes in the form of a wickedly gorgeous Nathanael Braxton, when he steals her heart and cuddles into her sole – the last place the boy should be.
Nineteen-year-old Nathanael’s unrelenting good looks aren’t the only thing that make him dangerous – and he knows it! However, his caring human side struggles with a loyalty – a loyalty that binds him to the hunt for the soul that will give his family the power they seek. There’s only one problem: When he finds her, Nathanael falls in love with his prey – Saydi.
I’ve always believed the soul connects us together. Being able to feel emotion, love one another, hurt one another, laugh, cry... all the things that make us human. Did I believe my soul was an actual physicality of my human make-up? That it could be whisked off into the darkness by a demon? No. To me, life held enough hurt and pain without having to worry that there were forces of evil crouched in the shadows--waiting for me to swear, or something along those lines.
There was nothing more humbling than to be wrong.
As the warmth of the morning sun brushed against my face, I heard the cries and whimpers of the ones I loved. Truth be told... dying would be better than the alternative.
When the summer was over, my friends and I settled into our last year of high school. All of us were looking forward to graduating and going to university. I wanted to be a teacher, but they still weren’t sure.
We lived in the small town of Duck Lake, Saskatchewan where time stood still and nothing changed. Every year it was the same--no new faces, no one ever moved to God forsaken Duck Lake, and anyone who started grade one on any given year would eventually graduate with the same classmates. If anything, it made the teachers happy, for there weren’t too many of us that didn’t have good grades. We had to... if we were ever going to escape.
Being a snore-fest, my small home town offered only three entertainment options. We could hang out at home, hang out at the local restaurant/billiards room (Sloppy Joe’s), or, last but not least, party every night with the beer heads. Our little group of four pretty much stuck with the first two, only because the last time we drank, it took me four days to recover! It also brought about other crappy consequences--I endured two weeks of no friends when my mom found out and grounded me. Of course, she cited my age of seventeen and, not to mention, what drinking did to the soul.
That was one of my mom’s little quirks. She was always adamant that I was special and needed to be extra careful. Yes, she believed there were people out there who would be particularly interested in me, working very hard to ruin the good I had. She always talked like it was someone she knew, when in fact, she meant the general population.
~ * ~
“Saydi,” Angie called, hurrying down the hall toward my locker. She was one of my three best friends, a trio that included Angie Kathers, Becky Meyers, and Norma Pasely.
Angie was the one who we liked to call the computer geek--all in fun, of course. She was the epitome of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Five-seven, blonde and blue-eyed, she always turned heads wherever we went. She was also the only one of us who had a car.
Closing my locker door, I waved back. “Hi!”
We walked to social studies with her arm wrapped in mine. “Did you hear there was a moving van in front of the old Winslow house? Someone’s finally moving in there.”
That surprised me, because that house had been targeted for demolition. “Really? Are you sure?”
She nodded fiercely. “I heard it right from Pat.” Pat was the town pharmacist and the biggest gossip ever.
“Hmm, that’s strange. No one’s lived in that place for years.” I stopped and looked at her. “Weren’t they going to tear it down?”
Angie shook my arm. “Don’t you remember? A few months back someone bought the place to save it.” She rolled her eyes dramatically, throwing her other arm up in a flourish.
“They’ve completely renovated or restored it, whatever it is. Remember?”
How could I forget the biggest news to hit Duck Lake in years?
“Um... not sure how that slipped my mind,” I admitted.
In typical Angie style, she rolled her eyes again. “Really, Saydi, how could you forget? It was only the biggest news all summer! Where’s your head?”
“Ladies, get to class,” Mrs. Jensen ordered, coming from around the corner.
“Yes ma’am,” I responded, tugging on Angie’s arm to move faster. Apparently, the quickness of our steps was a direct correlation to the speed of her words.
“Anyway, let’s go by there after school before we go to Sloppy’s, okay?”
There was never any reason for me to go near that old stinky house. It was on the other side of town, and besides, it gave me the creeps.
“Angie, it’s completely in the opposite direction.”
Just before entering class Angie managed, as usual, to get the last word in. “Come on, it’s Friday! We got nothing better to do.” She grinned a mischievous grin. The ulterior motive dancing in her eyes jogged my memory. Other news came along with the renovation--it wasn’t just the house she wanted to see, Angie was dying to see if the rumors were true... Supposedly, boys our age were going to move in.
“You love me,” she quietly proclaimed, sitting at her desk beside me.
Yes, yes I did...but how much? The day wasn’t over.
~ * ~
Lunch time was our first opportunity to meet up with Norma and Becky, our other two groupies.
Norma was about an inch shorter than me, which would put her at about five four. She had dark black hair cut really short, so it framed her face and made her hazel eyes shine. Her cheeks were always rosy and she had an exceptionally small nose, but it suited her. She was also the one that struggled with everything, including boys.
Becky, on the other hand, was five six and had the same blonde hair as Angie, but it was always tied up in a ponytail. Becky hated hair in her face and she wore glasses over her dark blue eyes that rested on her little flat nose. Becky could be categorized as not the sharpest tool in the box, but she was fun.
Angie filled Becky and Norma in on her plan. Norma was on my side, arguing our case that the old house was out of the way. Becky was on Angie’s side. That was a no brainer... Becky was just as boy crazy as Angie.
Unfortunately for them, my logical side kicked in. “If they’re just moving in, we’re probably not going to see anybody, anyway.”
Becky stuffed a potato chip in her mouth. “Of course we will. They gotta come in and out to unpack the truck.”
“Duh!” I jeered playfully. “By time schools out, the moving part will be done.”
She hovered a chip close to her mouth looking off to the side, in her own world. “Oh, never thought of that.”
“Don’t look now, but we’re not going to be the only ones who’ll be doing a drive by.” Angie directed a nod behind me. “Look who’s planning.”
Turning around, I took a bite of my apple and grunted. “Of course,” I drawled with my mouth full.
Segra, Jocelyn, and Mattie were all wide eyed and talking with their hands. Segra Tittle had long curly brown hair, brown seductive eyes (I heard boys say that), was about my height, and had a body that made movie stars look saggy.
Jocelyn Adams was the one I kind of felt sorry for. They only allowed her in their group because she let them push her around. She had mousy brown shoulder length hair that always looked messy, blue eyes, stood about five nine, and was a little chunky around the edges. Unfortunately for her, she hadn’t mastered how to be graceful with her height and always seemed clumsy.
Then there was Mattie Drunes. She’d fit in anywhere with her long auburn hair, freckles and green eyes. She was about five seven and slim, and I never understood why she wanted to hang out with Segra. Mattie always had a smile, even with braces.
Those three were the most popular girls in school and had been since, well... forever, and only because boys liked the type of girl Segra was, for a short while anyway.
Angie moved in closer. “So... let’s skip last period.”
“No,” I argued. “I have an English test then. I can’t skip it.”
Angie turned her attention to the other two. “Well?”
Becky nodded with excitement.
Norma declined. “No thanks, we’ll know soon enough who lives there. What’s the big deal about today?”
Becky gave Norma a crooked smile. “Because if there’s boys and they see us first, we’ll be the first on their minds and they’ll remember us!” It was a warped logic, but a Becky logic nonetheless.
Norma flirted with the idea Becky presented. “Oh, maybe that is a good idea.” And as if someone hit her in the head, she snapped it toward me. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”
It wasn’t something I could even consider, and they knew it. “No, I can’t. I’ll meet you guys at Sloppy’s after I drop off my Sunday School lesson. Father Lacombe wants to take a look at it to make sure it’s okay for me to teach the kids.”
Being our resident, not so bright, drama queen, Becky threw her hand over her mouth. “Oh! I forgot! Darn it! I’m teaching next Sunday, aren’t I?” She looked at all three of us, wanting an answer.
Angie dug in her purse. “Hang on, let me get my calendar,” she said as she pulled out her cell phone. All of our schedules were meticulously imbedded into that little electronic calendar of hers, not that we had any kind of elaborate agendas, but it pleased her to feel important.
After some furious button pushing, Angie had Becky’s answer. “Yup, sure are, Becks.” Then she tucked it away and looked at her. “Have you even got an idea what to teach?”
“Not a clue.” Becky slouched down in her seat.
The bell rang.
When I stood to leave, I patted Becky’s shoulder. “You’ll think of something, hopefully soon. It usually takes you two weeks to prepare a lesson.”
She ignored the bell and rested her chin in the palm of her hand, sulking. “I know.”
~ * ~
My spare class on Friday afternoons usually found me in the library studying, and that particular day was no different. I laid out all my materials and methodically began reading the first chapter of five we were being tested on in English.
“Hey, Saydi,” Todd said, as he sat down across from me.
I peeked up. “Hi, Todd.”
Todd Lethars, eighteen, had been my boyfriend off and on since sixth grade and completely off since grade nine. It was never anything serious; we’d never even kissed, so I guess you could say he was one of my best friends, too. But a couple months prior he’d started acting weird, following me around, and even went as far as to corner me and ask me out on a real date.
I told my Mom about it and she laughed, saying he was finally a young man and was showing interest in me. “That’s what boys do,” she informed me. Well, though he was tall, maybe six foot, with blonde curly hair, perfect skin and beautiful brown eyes and... get a grip!
Something just didn’t feel right when he asked me. It felt like my brother was asking me out, and ever since then I stayed away from any boyfriend/girlfriend talk whenever he was around. I also tried to avoid him.
“What can I do for you, Todd?”
He folded his arms on the table and rested his chin on them, grinning.
“Todd, I’m trying to study.”
Continuing to grin, he nodded. “That’s okay, you study, I’ll watch.”
My mouth turned up in a soft smile. “You’re making me lose my concentration.”
“No! I’m sorry!” he goofed.
I giggled. “Todd!”
He pushed his chair back. “Okay, I’ll let you get back to it.” Then he pointed at me. “You heading over to Sloppy’s after school?”
“Yeah, right after I drop my lesson off with Father Lacombe.”
“Kay, we’ll see you there.”
Across the room, two girls were whispering and gawking at him as he walked away. Todd could probably have any girl he wanted. He was pretty cute.
~ * ~
With another exam under my belt I scanned the extra noisy hallway for my friends, then remembered they skipped last period. It would be interesting to see what they discovered, and as I stepped out the doors it did make me a bit curious as to who moved in to the old house. I had to admit a little jolt of excitement came along with that curiousness. What if there were some new boys? That would be the highlight of the year for all the girls no matter what the boys looked like. It was appealing just to have new faces in town.
The rumbling of an engine crawled up behind me.
“Hey, get in,” Todd called, from his car.
“Thanks, but I’d rather walk,” I responded, forcing a smile.
“Come on, Saydi,” he begged.
I stopped to study him, debating whether it was a good idea or not.
His hands slapped together in prayer fashion. “Please, with sugar on top.”
“Oh Fine!” I grumbled and got in. “The least you could’ve done is be a gentleman and open the door for me.”
The tires squealed against the pavement as he pulled away from the curb. “I’m not that desperate.” He laughed.
When Todd rounded the first corner he slowed down to the speed limit, not wanting to alert the Father to his erratic driving ability. Once parked, he insisted I stay put. Then he opened my door for me and bowed, holding his hand out. “Me lady.”
Taking his hand, I stepped out. “I thought you weren’t that desperate?”
“Well... maybe a little bit.”
It felt uneasy how closely Todd walked beside me, giving me the impression that he wanted to reach for my hand and in turn made me shudder. A quick interception was warranted.
“You don’t have to come in,” blurted out.
Smiling, he responded, “I know, but I need to talk to Father Lacombe too.”
There was a sly look on his face. “Don’t you want to know why?”
There really wasn’t any interest on my part, because I knew what he was doing, but I humored him anyway. “Okay, why?”
“I wanted to see if he’d let me attend Sunday School,” he said, being a rascal.
And there it was...letting me know, in a roundabout way, he wanted to spend time with me.
“You’re a little old, don’t you think?”
“Well...” He ran his fingers through his hair. “That might be a problem.”
He laughed, finding the small of my back with his hand.
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