Authors: Karice Bolton
The Watchers Trilogy
Copyright © 2012 Karice Bolton
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, and events either are the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover design: PhatpuppyArt.com
The Watchers Trilogy
To all of the people in my life who always tell me to go for it!
Love you my dude! Jon, you are the best husband a girl could ask for…
Mom, thank you for always giving me encouragement and to my dad who is watching down over us all!
I want to say a simple thank you to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all of the other avenues available for the indie publishing world. It allows the art of storytelling to continue to flourish in unexpected ways!
Also to my wonderful and very patient editor – you know who you are.
BOOK 1 OF THE WITCH AVENUE SERIES
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THE WATCHERS TRILOGY
THE WITCH AVENUE SERIES
LONELY SOULS (June 2012)
The air was so stale. It surprised me that there was any life left in it at all. Every breath was a struggle, but it wasn’t only because we were huddled in a cave on Mt. Rainier. It was because of the secret I harbored for Arie that I couldn’t divulge. She assured me I’d know when the timing would be right to tell everything to her brother, Athen. I only hoped the time would be soon. The pain of losing his sister was killing him.
I leaned against Athen’s chest, feeling the steady beat of his heart that had finally started to calm down from the earlier phone call that changed everything. I found a place to rest my head on Athen’s arm. His soft flannel rubbed my cheek. It provided the exact comfort I needed. My mind spinning, I knew what was expected of me. I understood my part, which Arie wanted me to pull off, but acting had never been my strong suit. Yet there were things far more important than just my ego at stake now. I had to pull through. The dark grey of the stone surrounding us, made everything feel so harsh and cold. My emotions matched perfectly.
“Cyril’s on his way?” I asked Athen, looking up at him.
His eyes were glistening with the pain of losing his sister. Sadness ripped through my heart knowing at this very moment, I could take the pain away by telling him the truth. But I couldn’t tell him anything - not yet anyway.
“Yeah. We should probably pack up what we want to take with us and meet him down at the mountain’s base. He didn’t sound good,” Athen said.
“Are we coming back up here after the process?” I asked.
The burning sensation began in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to scream that everything was all right! I wanted to hug Athen and tell him about how Arie planned everything, but I couldn’t. I listened to her advice, hearing her voice lead the way. This was her plan. I had to respect it not knowing when I might need the favor returned. If this is how she thought she could save Cyril from the dark side, then I was willing to try it.
Athen let out a deep sigh, wrapping his arms around me, kissing the top of my head. I wanted to break down already. Inflicting this kind of pain seemed like one of the most evil things a being in my class could do.
“Yeah, we’ll come back up here. We only need the supplies for the Awakening.”
“It’s getting stuffy in here. Don’t you think?” I asked, trying to catch my breath, wiggling around a little to get some air movement.
Athen stood up and picked me up off the cave floor. Dusting us both off, he grabbed my wrist and spun me to smack off the dirt from my back.
“You seem extraordinarily strong with everything going on,” Athen said.
I froze. Was now the time to tell him? Putting him through this torment was already creating a wickedness deep in my soul that I didn’t want to think about.
“I’m trying to hold everything together for us all. That’s all. I mean, you’re her brother, and Cyril is her soul mate. Someone’s gotta be alert. I don’t have time for emotion.” I didn’t even believe the words rolling off my tongue, so I’m not sure how I expected Athen to buy into the story either.
But he did.
“I know. I guess I just want some kind of instant resolution. I keep hoping you hold the answers,” he told me, staring intently into my eyes. I felt certain he knew I was holding something back from him.
I knew my cheeks were turning a bright shade of scarlet, so I looked down at the floor, kicking the tiny pebbles and pieces of a twig until I felt the redness drain from my face.
“Well, with Matilda gone, I think we both know what took place,” I muttered.
“Hard to believe, actually.” His voice was uncertain.
Without missing a beat, I pulled my jacket on and began walking by one of the larger boulders blocking the way into our little stone home.
“Not hard to believe considering what we are hearing around the globe though,” I challenged him, raising my eyebrows, as if that would make more of an impact.
His pace quickened to the opening of the cave. A piece of the rock, which posed as our wall, scraped his sleeve, leaving a chalk signature on his shirt. He rushed in front of me.
“With everything going on, let me go first. I can’t lose you too.”
The wonderfully crisp air hit my lungs, bringing life back into my body. The confines of the cave made things even worse and compounded the uneasiness. Whatever the reason, I was glad to be out of the hole, even if only for a few hours. I fastened my backpack on tightly, as I took off after Athen down the mostly rocky non-existent trail that led us on a journey, which Arie had constructed for us all to embark on. It sucked I was the only one who knew what this entailed, however.
Dusk started settling into this part of the world rather quickly. Even though we had only recently left the cave, an uneasiness pulled me down. I didn’t know if it was because I lied about the truth that lay before us, or if there was something else going on in these woods. There seemed to be a stirring in this forest that made me unsettled. Not knowing what all I could handle, at the moment, with having to confront Cyril, I chose the easy answer. I could only handle one thing at a time.
A sigh escaped, stopping Athen. He turned around and reached for my ice-cold hand. His eyes were searching mine ferociously for answers.
“I love you so much.” He gently swept a piece of hair aside that fell out of my haphazard ponytail. “It’s gonna be okay. You don’t have to carry all this alone. Cyril and I are pretty tough, you know…” his voice carried a slight chuckle as he pulled me towards him, squeezing me lightly. I let my guard down, hugging him back.
“Thank you,” was all I could utter.
As the moonlight slowly began to make its glowing presence known, we knew we needed to press on. We had a lot to do in a pretty short time.
Finding the perfect spot to perform the ritual for Arie was our most important mission, and we had succeeded pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure how a pseudo Awakening would work, but I trusted it would. It had to. When hiding in a humongous forest that is over two hundred and thirty thousand acres, one thing that could be counted on is finding exactly what you need – whether it’s a clearing or the woods. They were all easily found. Part of me was certain we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of that fact. Shoving the last thought aside, I focused on the task at hand. I needed to stay clear headed.
We found a meadow butted right up to one of the old-growth forests. The geography would provide enough shelter for when Cyril began to channel Arie’s soul. This was Cyril’s chance to find her location, and a process that held all too much familiarity. My mind quickly flashed back to when my soul searched so desperately for Athen’s, only a few short months ago. Remembering all the images I saw of him and Lilith made me almost choke. The fear began running through my veins with the real possibility of us being separated again. The façade I had created in the last few days surrounding Arie’s attack was wearing me out, and I couldn’t continue to keep it from Athen much longer. The thoughts ate away at me with every second of secrecy that kept mounting as the time passed by.
The meadow in the middle of the forest began to radiate a thick fog from the ground. The chill in the air could not be overlooked. We needed to start soon. The season might be close to summer, but we were still on a mountain – a large one at that.
The moonlight sprinkled its glitter, allowing just enough light to bounce off of Athen’s beautiful green eyes. I counted my blessings as the familiar glow was looking back at me. It was hard to believe we were in this place again, with another one of us needing to go through the Awakening process. However, this time, the disappearance was calculated and hopefully to save one of our own. I only hoped Arie would have the same luck as Athen did with the memsors. The chance was a big one to take.
“What’s going on in that head of yours?” Athen came over, wrapping his arms around me. “It looks like you’re trying to figure out a solution to some scary calculus problem, and we both know how that might work.” Athen grinned, trying to lighten the mood. It only made me feel even guiltier for putting him through this and not telling him everything about Arie the moment it happened.
“I wish,” I said, looking up into his eyes as he pulled me closer to him. The electricity zoomed through our bodies. It was impossible to ignore, even in a situation like this. The grief seemed to create a larger need for us to be comforted by one another. I felt the chill of the evening that much more as his hands gently ran up my spine, looking for something from me I might not be able to give him. He placed his lips slowly down on mine. For a short moment, it briefly felt like our problems were no longer in this world. His mouth seemed to be searching mine for answers, when his breath suddenly came to a halt over my lips. He sensed I was hiding something. He dropped his embrace and stood back from me quickly. His eyes were scanning mine for the answers he knew I held.
Seeing his pain from losing his sister was more than I could handle. I knew now was the time to tell him Arie’s plan, especially before we met up with Cyril. It was crucial Cyril knew nothing about this, since he was the one we were all doing this for.
“Arie asked me to be a part of something, and I felt I couldn’t tell her no,” I began, as Athen grabbed my hand. “It was so hard to keep this from you, but I had to. She made me promise, and with everything I put them through when you were away, I felt I had to do it. The planned attack was so risky and…”
“It’s that bad, huh?” His eyes dulled a little. “With Cyril, I mean.”
“You understand?” I asked. I began to feel hopeful he wouldn’t be angry with me for putting him through so much heartache over his sister. I decided now to tell him everything. The time had come. I couldn’t keep this from him one moment longer.
“It could be,” I started.
He pulled me over to a rock, large enough for us both to sit on but a little too jagged to be comfortable.
So little of the moon’s glow escaped to where we were perched, that it was only the shadow of Athen I was looking at. I was a little relieved that I couldn’t see everything about him completely defined at the moment. My heart rate began to quicken as everything started pouring out.
“The other families who Arie had spoken to, experienced exactly what we have – the threats. Azazel is throwing everything at this. He’s hoping to weaken us all, by causing never before seen grief and devastation to our family units. Unfortunately, it’s been working more often than not. Quite a few white demons have already turned over to the dark side, thinking they’ve saved the ones they loved, only to be deceived at the end. The family members are still attacked and taken away anyway. Azazel is using all kinds of trickery to persuade these guys to follow in his footsteps. Mind control is definitely a factor.”
“And Arie was certain Cyril would turn on us to save her? Cyril is smarter than that. He would know it’s a trick, especially with all of the warnings we’ve gotten.” Athen seemed to be asking more than stating.
“It’s not like these other families were in the dark either. Azazel is good. He knows what he’s doing. From the very few who haven’t fallen prey, they’ve reported being flooded with images of their mate being tortured in fire, and drowning, and subjected to any type of known horror. All they see are flashes of their loved ones as lost souls, wandering lifeless in the world. These images he’s conjuring up are more than real to anyone who sees them. Azazel is invading their minds, making it so they can’t see clearly,” I said.