Authors: Sinden West
2015 Sinden West
All rights reserved. This book or any
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Cover Art by Kellie Dennis at Book Cover
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Editing by Chelsea Kuhel at Madison
leaves crunched underfoot as he walked deeper into the trees. Mottled light
stole in between the now sparse leaves that still clung stubbornly to the
branches. He found her immediately. His men had covered her with a blanket. The
color was a rich red, and he nearly found himself smiling. She would hate it. Of
all the colors in the world, red was the one that she hated the most.
Crouching down and steeling himself, he
reached for the edge of the blanket and pulled it back to reveal all of her
form. He let out a breath that he didn’t know that he was holding. She was
intact. Her pale skin was unmarred except for the vicious red stripe across her
throat that had stolen her life.
His men had poured water over her to
wash the blood away, and for that, he was thankful. Slowly and carefully, he
arranged the blanket over her so she was covered once more.
“Not long now,” he whispered to her,
before standing and brushing stray leaves from his clothes.
To his men, who waited a small distance
away, he called, “Take her. It’s time.”
am a scryer.
It is my name and my talent.
I can peer into the flat surface of
water or mirrors and see the future or the past as if spun for me by
mischievous sprites or cruel devils. In another century, I would have been
burned at the stake. Brutal bindings would have cut into my skin as I choked on
rising smoke while flames licked at me with vicious teeth. My flesh would melt
as the blaze climbed higher and the crowd would hiss with hatred and chant “
to drown out my screams…
“Here it is!” My roommate, Penzance,
the daughter of two musical fanatics, stepped forward with a bowl of water. She
liked bowls, just as I liked boxes, and this particular bowl was green with
porcelain fairies melded around the edges, staring down at the water to see
their own reflections. I wondered if she had brought it with her. It seemed too
tacky and cheap to belong to this luxury cabin her friends partied in for the
“Ivy’s going to tell us our future.”
She set the bowl down on the floor in front of the fire. Even though it was the
end of summer, the cold bit hard this high in the mountains. The water in the
bowl rippled, and the flames of the fire were reflected in its depths. Penzance
was sweet; a little too bubbly and eager to please perhaps, but she’d be all
right. Her future showed a charming banker husband and two sweet, chubby twins.
Sometimes I was so jealous of futures
like that that I could nearly be sick.
Someone laughed. “Yeah, right,” he
sneered. I didn’t bother to turn my head. I was used to non-believers. These
people at the cabin, these friends of Penzance, they weren’t the type to
believe, and it didn’t bother me. They were enjoying their post-college
experience where drinking and sex ruled over all else. “Where’s her crystal
Penzance rolled her eyes. “Shut up.
Ivy’s talented. She can use anything.”
Maybe I should have been angry at
Penzance for divulging things that I had told her in secrecy, but it was my own
fault. I knew what she was like and she was harmless. Plus, she liked me, which
was rare. My weirdness and coldness put people off. The only other person who had
ever taken to me so easily was Lake, but as I found out later, his motives
weren’t pure. My trust wouldn’t be given that readily ever again, but Penzance
was different. What I saw in her was all that there was.
Penzance’s friends were spread about
the living area of the cabin, which wasn’t really a cabin, but more of a
luxurious home built in a log style. Some lounged on cushions on the floor in
front of the fire, and all were drunk, myself included. Drinking helped with
the visions; it helped to dull my reaction to the horror that I sometimes saw.
“Go on, witch, tell us the future.”
My eyes darted up in a flash to the guy
who had spoken and a shiver went down my spine. He had never spoken to me
before, but I knew who he was, of course. His family owned this cabin. Caleb
was cursed with good looks, and used them to his advantage. He had probably
slept with every available girl here…at least several over the long weekend
“Don’t call her a bitch,” Penzance told
him, looking pissed, but maybe that was because he had screwed her once and never
been back for seconds. A spark of happiness went through me anyway that
Penzance was sticking up for me, not that I needed anyone to fight my battles of
course, but still; it was nice. She really wanted her friends to like me and include
me as part of her crowd. Thus far, I’d resisted, and her friends had kept their
“He didn’t,” said the girl who was lying
on the cushions at his side. “He called her a witch.” Her hand trailed down his
chest to the edge of his t-shirt, ducking under at his waist to touch his skin.
“Oh.” Penzance settled herself down on a
cushion. “I guess that’s okay.” She reached for her paper cup to take another
swig of her drink. Most of the attention in the room wasn’t on me; the majority
of them were more interested in their drinks or with whom they would hook up
“C’mon, witch. What’s the hold up?”
Caleb continued. I kept my face like stone. I had heard that he was an asshole,
and I wouldn’t be provoked.
“Someone needs to ask me to read for
them. I won’t do it unsolicited,” I answered simply.
His lips twisted up into a smirk. “Do me
then.” His blue eyes watched me as he seemingly ignored the girl next to him
whose hands were roaming over his body. I doubted that if it were up to her
that he would be clothed much longer.
I turned my own gaze to the bowl. The
ripples had settled and now it was still and calm…but no visions appeared. I
watched it carefully. I knew that my outward appearance showed nothing but a
still and icy shell, however, inside, my heart beat rapidly with excitement like
it did every time I met someone that I was not cursed with reading.
“There’s nothing for you,” I told him,
never removing my eyes from the bowl. This was a rare occurrence, but not
unheard of. I couldn’t read my own future or other scryer’s, and the members
of the Circle were unreadable except for when we were performing the ritual,
and of course then it was only to answer their questions to satisfy their
greed. But on occasion, we would come across some ordinary people who were unreadable,
their secrets locked away. I had thought Lake was one of these, but of course,
he wasn’t. Now I knew how to tell that I was in the presence of a Circle member,
I didn’t then. Caleb wasn’t blocking me. I just had no ability to read him, and
that was a beautiful thing.
“Caleb’s going to die!” a girl yelled
out, her drunken glee undisguised. Her past appeared to me. She was one of his
forgotten conquests, bitter and ignored.
“No,” I said sharply. “Sometimes people
are unreadable.” I would often see death in the future…this was not the case
“Do me,” said the girl feeling up Caleb.
She didn’t bother to look in my direction. “Tell me my future. My
future.” She wasn’t really speaking to me, her words were directed toward him,
but his eyes were firmly on me.
“Go on, tell Stacy’s future,” he said.
I waited a beat for her to correct him,
but she didn’t. “Her name’s Stella.”
His lips flicked into a quick smile.
“Whatever,” he mouthed at me.
I rolled my eyes, not even bothering to
give him a look of disgust. Instead I looked in the water. Like always, a fog
unseen by all but me brewed there, gradually clearing to reveal Stella’s
future. I saw many things…love, sadness… I even saw her own death which would
be premature but not for years yet. There was heartbreak before that…the death
of a child and divorce…but I would not tell her that. No one ever wanted to
hear that news; they only wanted hope.
“You’ll become an editor at a major
publishing house,” I began, and it was hard to ignore the smile that spread
across her face. “One of your daughters will be a ballerina with a French
company. You’ll sit in a balcony seat and watch her in Swan Lake.” An image
flashed of that same daughter dying in a horrific car accident, but I forced a
smile and tried to block it out. “Your husband will be a doctor; he’ll be
important in cancer research.” That same husband was naked and sweaty in a
hotel room with a work colleague while she desperately tried his cellphone to
tell him that their daughter was in critical condition and would not make it
through the night. I kept that smile frozen on my face. “And,” I said, my voice
hoarse now with emotion, “you’ll have a horse. You’ll ride him every weekend.”
That same horse would throw her to the ground, breaking her neck.
The girl’s attention was on me now.
Caleb was forgotten as she raised herself up from the cushions. “Wow. I hope
that’s all true.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to block
everything else and clear my mind. This always happened; no one ever had a
perfect life. While there were nearly always joyful occasions, there were
always nearly twice as many bad things happening. That was life: filled with
good, and twice as much bad.
A wave of sickness and dizziness came
over me, and I clutched my head for a moment before getting to my feet. The
bathroom was down a corridor at the rear of the cabin, and as I headed in that
direction, I heard whispers behind me. That was okay, though. I was used to it.
My whole life others had picked up on how weird I was—I learned quickly not to
fight against it and pretend to be something that I’m not. It was easier that
way. Who needed friends when you could see the devastation that lay ahead? How
could you be happy for someone getting engaged when you saw what a cheating
troll her partner would be just a few short years down the line?
Men, though, were different. Men were
attracted to me. I was tall and thin, an easy feat when some of the things that
I saw made me too sick to eat. I didn’t flirt or play games like other girls,
and for some reason they liked that. Sometimes, I would take one to bed, try to
block out everything, and just enjoy the pleasure. But that never happened. All
too soon, the things that he had done in his past or would do in his future,
would overcome me as I caught sight of some reflective surface, so I would just
lie there while they thrust into me, oblivious to the turmoil within me.
Consequently, whenever I found a man I
could not read, I would take him to my bed.
That is why, as I leaned over the toilet
bowl vomiting, my thoughts were on the arrogant Caleb. I couldn’t read him and
that made my mind spin with possibilities. If I could touch him and have
nothing come through to me, then for a short moment, I could engage in normal
activity just like any other girl my age. As his hands searched my body, then I
could just enjoy the touch, the feeling, without it being tinged with anything
I pushed myself back from the toilet
once everything had been purged from me and rested my head against the cold
tile. Fuck this, fuck living like this…if I could block everything out, then I
could live like bubbly Penzance and her self-absorbed friends. Groaning, I got
to my feet and turned the shower on before shrugging off my clothes and
stepping under the spray, which was surprisingly strong for being in the middle
of nowhere. But I guessed that the rich didn’t put up with anything mediocre.
Although, was I not one of them as well? It was easy to forget about the wealth
that my mother had accumulated from her lover before their deaths and now sat
in a trust fund for me. My mouth twisted at the thought.
I began to lather the soap and wash
myself as the door banged open. I didn’t jump, merely turned my head to see who
the intruder was. Caleb met my eyes as he stood over the toilet, undoing his
fly and letting out a steady stream of urine. I stopped washing and just stared
at him. Eventually, his eyes moved from my face to drag down my body. They
seemed to take in every inch of me, appraising and measuring my worth. If I hadn’t
been naked already, the way he was looking at me certainly would have made me
feel like it.
When he had apparently finished his
study of me, he merely zipped up his fly and flushed the toilet before leaving
the bathroom with without a word. I resumed washing myself, letting my hands
massage my breasts and wondering what it would be like to have him touch me
there without seeing images of the asshole things that he had done.
He was an asshole, pure and simple, but
that didn’t bother me. I just didn’t want to have to witness in full color the
pain that he had caused. Innocence would be bliss. I let my hand slip down
between my legs and half-heartedly stroked myself. How nice it would be to take
pleasure from another…I giggled at my desperation, and my coldness. Sometimes I
felt like I was a piece of ice and anyone who touched me would turn black and
perish. But I had to be like that—the alternative would crush me. If I let
everything I saw in, then I would have ebbed away slowly over the years until I
was nothing but a living corpse with a fucked up mind.
I finished my shower with no further
interruption, but I didn’t feel clean. Instead, I just felt dirty with the
thoughts that ran through my head. I wanted sex, I wanted touch, and I wanted
it now. I sighed as I wrapped my towel around me. There were a dozen guys here
who could do what I wanted, but the pleasure for me would disappear the minute
I caught sight of any shiny surface, mirror, or the like. I gathered my clothes
together in a bundle and exited the bathroom. All I heard now were low murmurs
coming from the living room. The party must have broken up. These guys had been
drinking for two days straight and no doubt the staying power for some of them
was succumbing to the need to sleep. I started up the staircase and headed for
the room that Penzance and I were sharing, but before I could open the door,
the sound of her flirtatious giggle and a man’s deep voice drifted toward me. I
sighed and stilled my hand; no doubt Penzance would be occupied for the rest of
the night, and there was no way that I would creep into the single bed adjacent
and pretend not to hear.
Footsteps behind me made me turn.
“Nice shower?” Caleb asked as he
finished climbing the stairs. A smirk played on his features as he took in my
half-naked situation. I lifted my chin and faced him head on. It was now or
never, he was alone. I could use him for my needs and would never need to
acknowledge or think about him again.