Authors: Karice Bolton
Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal & Fantasy
The Witch Avenue Series
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
A big thank you to all of the wonderful book bloggers in the world who tirelessly search out the next great read to add to their TBR piles.
And to my wonderful husband, mother, aunt and uncle who have been so very supportive of my writing! And to my dad who is looking 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!
BOOKS BY KARICE BOLTON
THE WITCH AVENUE SERIES
ALTERED SOULS (FALL 2012)
THE WATCHERS TRILOGY
Watchers Novellas coming Winter 2013
TO CONTACT THE AUTHOR PLEASE VISIT HER WEBSITE AT
FOLLOW HER ON FACEBOOK or TWITTER
Lonely Souls if we dare to see
Are no worse off than you and me
By others sins they’ve come to be
But with your love they’ll be set free
“Mom!” I hollered more for my benefit than hers.
I wasn’t in earshot yet, but I loved the way my voice carried into the wind off the sea. The constant sloshing of the waves guided me to the rocky beach where my mom was collecting her thoughts and anything else that might catch her fancy. It was a pleasant night with only the moon’s warm glow lighting my way on the very uneven path that weaved through the overgrown blackberries and tall beach grass. Doing my best to dodge the prick of the thorns, I carefully managed to stay on the trail. I didn’t need to be all scarred up for my upcoming celebrations.
This little stretch of beach was hard to get to and rarely frequented by anyone, which was why we loved it. The beach wasn’t what most people pictured when they thought of a beach. The beaches along Washington’s coast, more often than not, had tiny rocks and pebbles in place of sand and many boulders and downed logs that made for awfully fine seating, not places to spread out on a beach towel and soak up the rays.
The makeshift trail finally ended, allowing me to spot my mom’s pile of things. I hoped she was ready to leave. It was getting a little chilly, and I hadn’t prepared to be here long. We had a crockpot full of chili waiting for us both, but she wanted me to meet her here at our special spot, so she could tell me something. I had no idea what it was that she wanted to tell me, but since so much was going on in my life right now it could be about anything. I just graduated from high school. My eighteenth birthday was almost here. Our huge summer solstice celebration, Litha was fast approaching, along with the big event, my acceptance into the Witch Avenue Coven on the same day.
“Mom?” I hollered, as I trudged my way over to her bag, looking around the empty beach.
Only the crashing of waves answered.
I didn’t see her anywhere.
“Mom?” I tried again, batting down the worry that wanted to make its way into my consciousness.
Realizing my voice was no match for the roar of the waves, I started walking toward one of the larger boulders, in case she was sitting where I just couldn’t see her. The pebbles were loose, creating an extra treacherous journey since I was only in flip-flops. Poor planning on my part, but I didn’t think that I’d have to hunt her down. She could be sidetracked so easily.
Finally making it to the mammoth piece of black rock, I became annoyed when I saw she wasn’t there. I wasn’t in any way prepared to be marching up and down the beach looking for her. I grabbed my cellphone out of my pocket and dialed her number as I went back toward her pile of things to sit. Maybe I should stay put, and she’d return soon enough. As the phone rang on my end, I got closer to my mom’s pile and heard her bag ringing. Darn! She didn’t take it with her—odd. That was always a rule of hers when hiking or at the beach. We carried our phones with us at all times.
I squatted down to see what she brought with her, hoping an item might lead me in the right direction to find her. If she were gathering plants, then I’d know better where to go. I opened up her bag and panic set in immediately. The shirt she was wearing when she left our house was stuffed in her bag, wrapped around the shoes she was wearing. This made no sense. Her wallet and jewelry were in this bag. She wouldn’t just leave all this stuff for a stranger to steal. Something was wrong. Jumping up, the insides of the bag dispersed onto the beach, but I didn’t care.
“Mom!” I screamed, kicking off my flip-flops so that I could run up the hill closest to me.
Reaching the top of the hill, I scanned the grassy area quickly seeing nothing. Spinning around, I looked back toward the rocky beach. From this vantage point, I was able to see everything and nothing. My heart started pounding as I began dialing 9-1-1.
“911, what is your emergency?” The operator answered.
“My mom. She’s missing,” I hollered into the phone, dread spreading everywhere.
“Calm down, ma’am. Where are you located?”
Calm down? I’m not hyper, just scared!
“I’m at the beach just off of Snoqualmie Avenue, down the trail,” I replied
“Is your mother in the water? How long has she been missing?”
“I don’t know!” I screamed into the phone. “Please just send help.”
Okay, now I’m panicking! I can’t calm down. My mom isn’t where she’s supposed to be.
“Ma’am, help is on the way. What is your name?”
“Triss,” I replied, as I ran back down the hill to search the beach or the water, or anywhere but where I was.
Could my mom be in the water? I didn’t even think of that. She wouldn’t be in the water, would she?
“And what is your mother’s name?” the operator asked blandly.
“Veronica Spires,” my voice panted with the exertion.
“Where are they? When will they get here? She needs help!”
I reached the edge of the water. The waves were lapping against my bare feet. Looking out toward the sea, I saw nothing but water and rocks illuminated by the moon’s light. There was no way she would be out there. She never went into the water without someone with her. Oh, my God, where could she be?
The police sirens, off in the distance, were becoming louder by the second. Help was on the way but not nearly soon enough.
“Veronica! Mom! Veronica!” I kept hollering. “Where are you?”
“Ma’am, help has arrived. They’re making their way down the trail. I’m going to stay on the phone until they reach you.”
My body crumpled. Falling on my knees, the tears began pouring down my face. This couldn’t be happening. I turned off my phone. The police were almost to the beach, and I didn’t need the operator to hear my cries. The police chatter of CB radios began rolling through the air mixed with the barks of the K-9 units.
This was a nightmare. There was no way this could be happening. My eyes darted back to the hilltop that I had just left. A man was standing on the hill, watching me, with the darkness working in his favor.
“Hey,” I yelled, looking at him, trying to see any sort of distinguishing features. He froze in place.
I jumped back to my feet, with my jeans soaked from where I had been sitting. I started running up to the hill, and the stranger took off.
“Miss!” a policeman hollered.
“Someone was watching me!” I cried, not stopping my run. “They might have my mom!”
I reached the top of the hill in a flash, and there was no one to be seen.
A policeman came up right behind me.
“Are you, Triss?” His voice was gentle, probably used to dealing with lunatics, not sure which way they were headed in any given situation. “I’m Officer White.”
“Yes, my mom. She’s not here.” The tears started again. “I was supposed to meet her and all that’s here are her things. I can’t find her. Clothes, wallet, jewelry are all that’s here.” I took a deep breath. “Then there was a guy, I think staring at me.”
“Where at?” he asked immediately.
“Right here,” I replied. “He was standing right here. I think it was a guy. That’s why I came this way. It’s so dark it’s hard to tell. I was sitting on the beach right before you got here and noticed the person.”
“Where are your mother’s things, Triss?” he asked, scanning the area and coming up with the same thing as me, nothing. There was no one here.
I pointed over to the beach, completely defeated.
He nodded and looked briefly at the ground for any sign of tracks besides mine; he then turned to the officers at the base of the hill and signaled for them to wait.
We walked back down the hill, and Officer White explained to the others the situation. I had no idea how he got so much from my few sentences. He pointed at the two officers who were in control of the German shepherds, and he motioned for me to come with them to where my mom’s belongings had been dumped by my carelessness.
“Triss, we are going to allow our K-9 members, Sunny and Brandy, to smell some of your mother’s items, okay?” Officer White asked, looking intensely into my eyes. He had to be well over six feet tall and commanded the attention of anyone who looked in his direction.
All I could do was nod. It felt like if I even opened my mouth to breathe, I would break down again.
One of the female officers, who had her hair pulled back in a severe ponytail, came over to me and touched my shoulder softly. She quieted her chattering CB on her belt.
“Is there someone we can call for you?” she asked.
“My aunt,” I muttered, staring off over the darkened sound again, my eyes filling with tears.
One of the other female officers gave commands to Sunny and Brandy and off they went in the direction of the hill. The very same hill I had just come from with Officer White. They were racing off into the distance with the humans following right behind. My mom had been in that area. The dogs caught her scent.
It seemed like hours, but Aunt Vieta finally arrived. Her eyes wide with horror from the scene she witnessed in the parking lot. I couldn’t even begin to count how many police and search and rescue arrived. There were divers already out in the ocean, and everywhere I turned, there was activity.
I had shutdown. I was merely operating on autopilot. Aunt Vieta started running toward me and scooped me into her arms.
“We’ll find her, Triss. We’ll find her,” she kept mumbling into my ear, but it did little to comfort me.
“I know we will,” I nodded in agreement.
She released me and stood back looking at me.
“Here, I thought you might be freezing.” She shoved a coat into my arms that she had tied around her waist.
“Officer White’s over there,” I said, pointing toward his direction. He was busy getting updates from the teams that had spread in various directions. “He’d be the best person to fill you in. I don’t think I could.”
I appreciated my aunt’s presence, but I would rather just sit on the beach listening to everyone’s updates, hoping I would find something out that would bring my mom back immediately. Instead, I was bombarded with statistics about the longer the victim was missing how exponentially the odds of finding them decreased. I doubt that was for me to hear, but I did. And those words would forever haunt me.
“The waters are getting a little rough. We’ll start again in the morning,” were the first of many sentences that etched a place in my mind, creating a level of despair I didn’t think possible.
Sitting on a pew in the front row for my mother’s memorial service was nothing I imagined for this day. This particular day, my mom and I were going to go shopping for everything related to my receiving ceremony into the Witch Avenue Coven. There was nothing right about today, and it was hard for me to imagine that there would be anything right about any of the days to come without her.
My aunt squeezed my hand, but I couldn’t squeeze it back. I knew the priestess was about to begin the service, but I didn’t want to hear the words. This was the same priestess who was going to be welcoming me into adulthood, into our coven. Now, she’s about to start speaking about my mother in the past tense. I tried repositioning myself on the well-worn wooden pew that I had been making home for the last hour because I didn’t want to socialize with anyone. I didn’t want to hear what they had to say. I was sure I wouldn’t agree with it.