The Guardian: Paranormal Fantasy New Adult Young Adult Angel Romance (A Fight for Light Novel Book 1)

BOOK: The Guardian: Paranormal Fantasy New Adult Young Adult Angel Romance (A Fight for Light Novel Book 1)
3.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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The Guardian
Paranormal Fantasy Young Adult Romance

A Fight for Light Novel
Nikki Landis

Preface

 

It was bright outside, dazzling and vivid in intensity. Standing in a patch of thick, tall grass, I lifted my hand in front of my squinting eyes trying to shield them against the early afternoon glare. It was so bright I could have been anywhere. But outside, surrounded by nature, there is only a handful of places I could have been. Even so I lacked the clarity to be certain. In the back of my mind I felt a prickle of recognition, a faint nudging, but no image conjured to give me clarification.

Blinking a few times, I tried to see through the light in front of me, between the fingers held before my face. I had difficulty making out any shapes or distinguishing inanimate from sentient objects. My eyes squinted against the bright afternoon light. I could just make out the familiar bunch of trees standing nearby, casting their foreboding shadows, reaching across the ground. Large tree stumps littered the ground, hulking and squatting in sporadic bunches.

Recognition slowly dawned on me. I knew where I was, my reading spot. It was a pretty little glade a mile or so into the forest, a few miles from my house, just outside my neighborhood. I went there frequently. It was the only place I could be alone and think, surrounded by flowers and free from inquisitive family. It was my sanctuary.

I looked all around me, still shielding my eyes from the glaring and brutal sun. It really
was
bright, much brighter than I had ever seen in my glade before. I started to feel uneasy, sensing a deviant shift in the familiar green surroundings. Something was off. The hair on the back of my neck felt prickly and I started to sweat. It was early, much too early for the heat of the day to reach high enough to make me uncomfortable.

It was something else. An intuition. A feeling that brought a sudden flush to my cheeks. I couldn’t shake the sensation that something wasn’t right. I glanced nervously around me again when a tiny movement out of the corner of my eye made me freeze.

I was not alone. I realized at just that moment that it was not quiet. I could hear deep, shallow breathing. Something waited for me just beyond reach. I say some
thing
because it was not a
person
. I could make out a large shape in the distance, partially hidden just inside the trees, mostly obscured. It was almost completely out of my view.

I blinked again, straining my eyes in the light to get a better look. Was it a bear? I couldn’t tell. Terror suddenly gripped me and I started shaking. It didn’t help that the blinding brightness in front of my trembling hand suddenly seemed to dance violently in front of my eyes. I bit my lip to keep from screaming. I was sure that wouldn’t help.

I had almost completely dismissed the feeling as paranoia when I heard another sound, sending a single terrifying shiver up my spine. It was a
growl
. I frowned, confusion clouding my mind. Did bears snarl like that? I wasn’t sure. The sense of danger combined with evil pervaded my thoughts, sinking into my flesh, and causing my breath to come in quick gasps.

The growl, the snarl, was unlike any sound I had ever heard. It was animalistic and low and completely frightening. The deep rumbling only lasted a few seconds, but long enough. It gave me goose bumps up and down my arms; raising the hair and making it stick up in funny spikes. My knees started shaking harder. I was vaguely aware that my breathing was accelerating at an alarming rate. If I wasn’t careful I was going to hyperventilate.

I had only heard a dog’s growl before. There were a lot of dogs in my neighborhood. Sometimes if someone got too close, especially young kids, you could hear my neighbor’s dog go off. This was
not
a dog, nor to my utter fear, was it a bear. It sounded
bigger
.

Frightened at the thought, I stopped breathing. I only noticed because suddenly my chest felt like it was going to explode and I sucked in a shaky, gasping breath. I saw dark spots flickering in random succession in front of me, dancing in my peripheral, accelerating the panic in my chest. 

My fight or flight response kicked in and I started to pivot on my left foot. I was going to run for it. I could feel the sudden surge of adrenaline as it coursed hot and heavy through my veins. Somewhere, deep in my subconscious, I understood that I was dreaming. It had absolutely no effect on my decision or the extreme terror that gripped me. I had to get away from here…
now
.

I turned around and took off running as fast as my legs could carry me. Snapping branches and twigs filled my ears like the pounding waves of the ocean. Stumbling, I tried not to lose my footing. Tree branches scratched my exposed skin, leaving streaks of thin blood to rise on the surface of my arms and face. My heart was racing in my chest, slowly drowning out every other sound.

I could hear my pursuer behind me, getting closer. I could almost feel the heated and exhilarated breath of the one that chased me. Capture was imminent. Whatever it was, it was coming; and it was
gaining

Chapter One

 

Nightmares have always plagued me. For as long as I can remember, even as a small child, I have suffered from the terror of being left alone in the dark. It frightens me. Alone, out in the world, left to my own devices, without anyone to guide me. I wander, aimlessly, recklessly, hoping to recover my connection to humanity and yet unable to obtain that which I seek.

In my dreams I am always haunted by loneliness, by memories of a past I cannot remember, and regret. A lingering sadness pervades my being, separating the comfort and warmth of the familiar and plunging me into cold empty darkness. I reach into the still air, searching for what I have lost, aching, grasping, yearning for a different result, and a peace that never comes.

It is not fear of the dark itself. I am not afraid of the ebony night. The actual darkness holds no terror for me. I find the solitude and quiet almost welcoming. My nightmares do not originate from the night or what lurks within it. Instead, they come from a history I cannot escape, even when I wish that I could. A history that snatched the two most important people in my life away from me.

My fear comes from my deep rooted issue of abandonment. My parents died in a car accident when I was a toddler. I was too young to remember many details about them, but the experience was enough to instill the memory of their presence. A memory of their voices and love. Snippets and flashes of sporadic moments that now defined my entire life.

After they died, I had suffered from night terrors for months. I remember waking up, drenched in sweat, calling out to my parents, crying and screaming into the night. I felt the sudden loss. Even as young as I was, their absence left me bereft. Since then my nightmares have been a regular part of my life. As consistent as the change of seasons. Always an eventual return to that horrible plaguing feeling, the keen and sharp pain of their death.

It hurt sometimes that I never had a chance to know them. They had left me, together, alone in the world without their love and guidance. Without their wisdom and affection. Their loss had ripped open a gaping wound, raw and festering, inside my aching chest. Even now I could hardly stand to think of them. The pain was too much. Too vivid. It never led me down a good path.

My nightmare this night was not about my parents. It was not about abandonment or the loss that never left my mind. This dream had been a different experience altogether. A sense of doom and evil that penetrated the protective barrier of my mind and sought to claw at my tenuous grasp on normalcy. I sought after it constantly. I wanted a life without pain and haunting memories. To fit in. To have what everyone else had…but I did not.

I did not live with my parents, or even one parent. I was raised by my grandparents in the same little town my parents had grown up in. It was quiet here. Normal. Life moved at a slow but consistent pace. It’s the kind of town where everyone knows who you are and who your family is. I couldn’t get away with a thing growing up, much to my chagrin.

I was lucky to have my Gran. I was very close to both of my grandparents. My relationship with Gran, though, was special. I guess you could say we were kindred spirits since we were so much alike in personality and temperament. Gran could tell what I was thinking just by looking at me, and she always knew my mood.

Everyone knew my grandparents. They were a permanent fixture in our town. My grandmother had taught Sunday school at the local Christian Church almost every Sunday for the last twenty years and my grandfather had retired from the largest law firm in the area. Nearly everyone remembered my parents too. My mother had graduated from the same high school I went to now. My parents had been very involved in the community. When their accident happened, it shocked our quiet little town.

I had asked Gran about it once. She told me that loss is inevitable because it’s a normal part of the cycle of life and death. People are born, they live, and then eventually they die. People experience loss every day. Somehow, this knowledge is supposed to help you through the grieving process. I’ve never experienced loss myself. At least, not the loss of anyone
really
close to me. Not since I grew up that is. Ironic since their absence plagued me so greatly. But I didn’t remember much about my parents, so it didn’t seem to count.

With the agony of loss, also comes the thrill and experience of love. Relationships with other people, especially romantic relationships, are a journey. Everyone always tells you that it isn’t the destination that is important, but it’s the journey along the way. My Gran often mentioned it. I had to wonder though…was it worth it? If you knew you would experience pain and loss, if you knew that love would lead you down that path, would you still go through with it? Would you still take on that heartache? Would you even want to try?

Being one of those people who had never experienced either deep love or deep loss, I didn’t feel qualified to answer that question. At least I didn’t think it would happen to me so soon. But life is funny like that, just when you think everything is going a certain way, just when you think it is all planned out…the most unthinkable and unimaginable happens. In other words, you get thrown a curve ball. That’s what happened to me.

There was no way I could have known. I had no idea how much the experience of love was to impact my life. I had no idea how much loss would cost me or the lengths to which I would go. If only I could have seen the future. If only I could have known the truth. If only I
knew
.

My thoughts lingered on the dream. It was a strange nightmare, feeling more real than anything I had ever dreamed before. It had a sense of feasibility, like the likelihood of it actually occurring was terrifyingly high. I often had vivid dreams, dreams that hinted at intuition, dreams that came true, but this was different. More transparent. More authentic. The dream of the attacker and the evil that surrounded it rattled me to the core.

After a few minutes, I looked over at my alarm. It was only six a.m., still early. Too early. I hated to be up before my alarm. I always felt cheated somehow, like the last of my rest had been stolen from me, whisked away under false pretenses, never to obtain again. It would make me grumpy. It always did.

I had a few minutes left before I needed to get up. I lay there panting, trying to slow my anxious heartbeat. It wasn’t real and I had only been dreaming. It was just a dumb nightmare. Nothing to worry about. Nothing new in my boring and normal life. But it didn’t change the fact that this felt
real
. Too real.

I kept trying to remind myself, unconvincingly. It was just a dream. It’s not real, just a dream. But why couldn’t I stop shaking? I moaned and rolled over on my back, throwing my pillow to the side.
Breathe silly,
I told myself. I inhaled slowly through my nose and exhaled just as slowly out of my mouth. Deep calming relaxing breaths.

Sighing, I opened my eyes. The familiar walls of my bedroom surrounded me. They were a light sage green in color and I always found them soothing. I stared at them; feeling the comfort and safety of home relax me. The color reminded me of the forest. When my grandmother asked me last fall if I wanted to redecorate my room, I had enthusiastically threw myself into it. I always went overboard on craft projects. Maybe I had too much time on my hands.

It was a pretty cool room. I had designed it around a nature theme. All of the furnishings were a dark cherry color which gave them a woodsy feel. The headboard on my bed curled and twisted around like the limbs of a tree. My comforter had an ivory background with deep green ivy twisting all over it. My lampshade matched the comforter, but I had hand painted the design on it.

My favorite part of the room was the mural I had painted. All of the walls had ivy weaving through them. On the wall opposite my bed, the longest, I had painted a large tree floor to ceiling. All around it were wildflowers and butterflies. I was proud of myself. It had taken a long time to do and it looked really amazing. I doubted a professional could have done better.

“Rhia, are you up yet?”

Huh? Oh, right. Time to get up for school. I jumped out of bed and ran to the door. Poking my head out, I yelled downstairs so Gran could hear.

“Be down in a few minutes Gran!”

“All right, dear. I’m making pancakes!”

Yum! My favorite. Gran always knew how to start my day off right. I grabbed my clothes and hurried off to the bathroom to shower. Rushing around, I started getting ready, my thoughts running rampant. I plugged in my curling iron as I brushed my teeth and stared at my reflection critically. I wasn’t half as pretty as some of the other girls my age.

Plain brown eyes framed by dark lashes stared back at me. If you really looked you could see the flecks of green. I had a heart shaped face with high cheekbones. My complexion had always been rosy. I was lucky my skin was ivory and clear. I didn’t need to wear a lot of make-up. Hearing Gran moving around in the kitchen made me smile. I could not imagine waking up every morning without the familiar noises of Gran cooking and humming.

Once I had finished with the curling iron, I skipped down the stairs to breakfast. My long legs reached the bottom quickly. I was tall for a girl, five foot eight. I had always been tall and slender. Not thin or petite like most of the girls I knew. I always felt like Bigfoot compared to everybody else. It was ninth grade before anybody started to catch up with me, even the boys. I figured that was why I had so little success with dating. I had never even had a steady boyfriend. In fact, I was fairly certain the boys at school never noticed me at all.

Most of my friends had steady boyfriends or guys they dated. I guess that was why I was alone so often. I didn’t like to put myself in the third wheel position. I knew I was being silly but I didn’t really mind being alone anyway. I had always been somewhat of a loner. My friends just thought I was a bit old-fashioned like Gran. That was all right with me.

Gran looked up as I swept into the kitchen and sat down. It should not have caught me by surprise when she asked how I slept. Gran knew everything. But it
did
surprise me.

“Hi dear. Did you rest well?” Gran asked pointedly.

I pretended to be busy looking at the table for a moment, tracing the worn but clean floral pattern of the tablecloth with my fingertip. Knowing she wouldn’t let it go, I finally looked over at her, my expression innocent. She had her eyebrows creased together like she always did when she was worried about something. The lines on her forehead deepened at my silence.

Gran didn’t have that many wrinkles. I favored her, good genetics she always said. Her face was heart-shaped like mine. She had long dark eyelashes and deep blue eyes. I loved Gran’s eyes. They were so full of depth. You could see the wisdom, humor, and patience. I loved the way the skin crinkled around them when she laughed or smiled.

She wore thin clear glasses and her carefully styled blonde hair framed her face nicely. Gran was not “going gray gracefully” as she put it. I got a kick out of that. She never missed her monthly hair appointment. That was another thing about Gran. She was consistent, loyal, and I could always count on her. I knew I needed to reassure her now.

“I had a nightmare. It’s ok now. I’m fine Gran.”

Her eyes narrowed slightly. She knew I was downplaying it for her benefit.

“Rhiannon Elizabeth Monahan!” Gran scolded.

Wow, I got the full name this time. I tried to hide my amusement from Gran and she smiled back. I knew she was kidding with me. We were close like that, better able to decipher each other’s moods than anyone else I had ever known. She hopped up and set a plate of pancakes and strawberries in front of me.

“Aw Gran, you worry too much. I really am fine.”

“I nearly ran into your room to make sure you were all right. I haven’t heard you scream like that since your parents…” She trailed off.

I knew what she meant. I didn’t really remember those days and nights after the accident. The months of loss and sadness. I only had fading memories and my nightmares but it had been a painful time for Gran and Gramps. I reached over and squeezed her hand. We looked into each other’s faces for a minute, mutual understanding reflected in the other’s eyes.

My stomach growled loudly and Gran smiled.

“Eat up, Hun.”

I drizzled some warm syrup over the pancakes and took a bite. Mmmm. Gran poured fresh squeezed orange juice into the glass in front of me, a small smile on her lips. She was such a good cook. She spoiled me rotten and I loved it.

Gran made everything homemade from scratch and she used fresh ingredients from her garden out back. She taught me from a young age how to cook and we both loved it. It was important to Gran that I had a good upbringing since my parents were gone. Personally I think she went a little overboard but I would never admit it.

I looked around the kitchen, chewing thoughtfully. I loved this house. It wasn’t huge but it had a large kitchen which was my favorite room. It was always filled with the smells and sounds of Gran’s cooking. The kitchen was all white, even the appliances. It was always meticulously clean and smelled like the wildflowers and herbs hanging all around. There was a big window above the sink that looked out into the backyard and sliding glass doors that were almost always open, letting in the fresh air. You could look right out and see the garden there. It was a modest house, made of red bricks and white washed wood. It was everything to me in one simple word. Home.

BOOK: The Guardian: Paranormal Fantasy New Adult Young Adult Angel Romance (A Fight for Light Novel Book 1)
3.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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