Blog Tour: “The Guardians Series” By Wendy Owens

Here is Book #3…….read over the excerpt and see if it still has your attention and you want to read more.

 

theprophecyThe Prophecy (Book 3)

by Wendy Owens

Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboGoodreads

Blurb

Five years have passed since Gabe abandoned Rampart, deserting his destiny and closest friends. The struggles Gabe has endured to stay alive have changed him, hardening him into a man unwilling to trust anyone or anything, dealing with difficulties connecting with the outside world.

Gabe has finally found a certain paradise–a peace in solitude–until a familiar stranger shows up on his doorstep, pleading for Gabe’s help.

 

Now he has to decide if he is truly content in his new life, or if he is willing to risk his solitary happiness for a little piece of the world he left behind.

 

Should he choose to accept the most important duty of his life, one failure could mark the beginning of the end for all mankind.

 

Excerpt #1

Rachel looked back into Gabe’s eyes as she reached out and took hold of his shirt; she began to unbutton it, catching a glimpse of his bare chest. In an instant she saw a hint of a smile curl at the edge of his lips, the sight of which made her flutter. She slowly continued disrobing him, releasing each button from its hold. Once the job was done the white shirt fell open, exposing his chiseled physique.

Running her hands up his tight six pack, she lingered for a moment before continuing over his strong, broad chest. She moved her hands up to his shoulders, causing the shirt to slip off and fall to the floor. Gabe’s slight smile widened as he continued to allow Rachel to take the lead.

Her hands explored his warm chest for a few moments longer. With each new crevice she discovered, she would lean in and memorize the line with a small kiss. Her hands working their way down to the waist band of his pants that hung low on his fit body, revealing a glimpse of the rigid v-cut below his hips.

Gabe moaned in delight, a low throaty sound that vibrated through his chest, tickling her lips. Gabe reached out, pulling Rachel in, his intense gaze so full of passion it nearly made her melt. His lips met hers, the intensity causing her to tremble. Reaching up, she clasped her arms around his neck in an attempt to steady herself. He pulled away, pleased with himself as he heard her sigh, watching her eyes flutter in ecstasy.

Rachel tugged and pulled at the stubborn button of his slacks. The longer she took, the more increasingly embarrassed she became. Gabe growled a deep and almost silent laughter.

“A little help here,” Rachel replied, throwing her hands up in despair.

With great ease, Gabe slipped the button from its hold, dropping his hands back to his sides. Rachel stared at him puzzled. “Oh no, please, you were doing such a good job, you finish,” Gabe instructed, a huge grin across his face now.

Rachel couldn’t help but also smile, realizing how silly her frustration was. Eagerly, she slid down the zipper of his pants, allowing them to drop to the floor. Much to Rachel’s delight, there was nothing else beneath the thin layer of cloth, his naked body greeting her with clear delight.

Standing there, confident in his skin, Rachel suddenly began to doubt herself again. Gabe sensed her withdraw and quickly combatted the back step by reaching out and pulling her close once again. He pressed his warm lips to her, kissing her deep and long. Slipping his hand between one of the slits in her gown, he gently caressed the inside of her thigh before allowing his fingertips to explore inward.

Rachel cried out, her legs quivering from the pleasure. Pulling his hand away, all he could think about was seeing her glorious body. Yanking on the gown, he lifted it up and over her head, letting it fall to the floor. Gabe smiled, staring at her full breasts. Cupping one, he slipped her nipple into his open mouth. Rachel flung her head back, closing her eyes and enjoying every second.

Rachel looked away, not able to take the intenseness of his eyes. Pulling her chin towards him, he forced her gaze back into his eyes. I—Love—You, pulling his lips away, he mouthed the words, not uttering a sound except his heavy breathing.

“I love you, too,” Rachel whispered, her fears and anxieties lifting.

Gabe pushed against her, the warmth of his chest pressing up against her breasts. Leaning down, Gabe swept Rachel’s hair aside, kissing the part of her body where her neck and shoulder joined. His lips trailed slow, wet kisses down her shoulder, stopping just short of her left breast. She shook with anticipation.
Rachel looked back into Gabe’s eyes as she reached out and took hold of his shirt; she began to unbutton it, catching a glimpse of his bare chest. In an instant she saw a hint of a smile curl at the edge of his lips, the sight of which made her flutter. She slowly continued disrobing him, releasing each button from its hold. Once the job was done the white shirt fell open, exposing his chiseled physique.

Running her hands up his tight six pack, she lingered for a moment before continuing over his strong, broad chest. She moved her hands up to his shoulders, causing the shirt to slip off and fall to the floor. Gabe’s slight smile widened as he continued to allow Rachel to take the lead.

Her hands explored his warm chest for a few moments longer. With each new crevice she discovered, she would lean in and memorize the line with a small kiss. Her hands working their way down to the waist band of his pants that hung low on his fit body, revealing a glimpse of the rigid v-cut below his hips.

Gabe moaned in delight, a low throaty sound that vibrated through his chest, tickling her lips. Gabe reached out, pulling Rachel in, his intense gaze so full of passion it nearly made her melt. His lips met hers, the intensity causing her to tremble. Reaching up, she clasped her arms around his neck in an attempt to steady herself. He pulled away, pleased with himself as he heard her sigh, watching her eyes flutter in ecstasy.

Rachel tugged and pulled at the stubborn button of his slacks. The longer she took, the more increasingly embarrassed she became. Gabe growled a deep and almost silent laughter.

“A little help here,” Rachel replied, throwing her hands up in despair.

With great ease, Gabe slipped the button from its hold, dropping his hands back to his sides. Rachel stared at him puzzled. “Oh no, please, you were doing such a good job, you finish,” Gabe instructed, a huge grin across his face now.

Rachel couldn’t help but also smile, realizing how silly her frustration was. Eagerly, she slid down the zipper of his pants, allowing them to drop to the floor. Much to Rachel’s delight, there was nothing else beneath the thin layer of cloth, his naked body greeting her with clear delight.

Standing there, confident in his skin, Rachel suddenly began to doubt herself again. Gabe sensed her withdraw and quickly combatted the back step by reaching out and pulling her close once again. He pressed his warm lips to her, kissing her deep and long. Slipping his hand between one of the slits in her gown, he gently caressed the inside of her thigh before allowing his fingertips to explore inward.

Rachel cried out, her legs quivering from the pleasure. Pulling his hand away, all he could think about was seeing her glorious body. Yanking on the gown, he lifted it up and over her head, letting it fall to the floor. Gabe smiled, staring at her full breasts. Cupping one, he slipped her nipple into his open mouth. Rachel flung her head back, closing her eyes and enjoying every second.

Rachel looked away, not able to take the intenseness of his eyes. Pulling her chin towards him, he forced her gaze back into his eyes. I—Love—You, pulling his lips away, he mouthed the words, not uttering a sound except his heavy breathing.

“I love you, too,” Rachel whispered, her fears and anxieties lifting.

Gabe pushed against her, the warmth of his chest pressing up against her breasts. Leaning down, Gabe swept Rachel’s hair aside, kissing the part of her body where her neck and shoulder joined. His lips trailed slow, wet kisses down her shoulder, stopping just short of her left breast. She shook with anticipation.

 

Rachel looked back into Gabe’s eyes as she reached out and took hold of his shirt; she began to unbutton it, catching a glimpse of his bare chest. In an instant she saw a hint of a smile curl at the edge of his lips, the sight of which made her flutter. She slowly continued disrobing him, releasing each button from its hold. Once the job was done the white shirt fell open, exposing his chiseled physique.

Running her hands up his tight six pack, she lingered for a moment before continuing over his strong, broad chest. She moved her hands up to his shoulders, causing the shirt to slip off and fall to the floor. Gabe’s slight smile widened as he continued to allow Rachel to take the lead.

Her hands explored his warm chest for a few moments longer. With each new crevice she discovered, she would lean in and memorize the line with a small kiss. Her hands working their way down to the waist band of his pants that hung low on his fit body, revealing a glimpse of the rigid v-cut below his hips.

Gabe moaned in delight, a low throaty sound that vibrated through his chest, tickling her lips. Gabe reached out, pulling Rachel in, his intense gaze so full of passion it nearly made her melt. His lips met hers, the intensity causing her to tremble. Reaching up, she clasped her arms around his neck in an attempt to steady herself. He pulled away, pleased with himself as he heard her sigh, watching her eyes flutter in ecstasy.

Rachel tugged and pulled at the stubborn button of his slacks. The longer she took, the more increasingly embarrassed she became. Gabe growled a deep and almost silent laughter.

“A little help here,” Rachel replied, throwing her hands up in despair.

With great ease, Gabe slipped the button from its hold, dropping his hands back to his sides. Rachel stared at him puzzled. “Oh no, please, you were doing such a good job, you finish,” Gabe instructed, a huge grin across his face now.

Rachel couldn’t help but also smile, realizing how silly her frustration was. Eagerly, she slid down the zipper of his pants, allowing them to drop to the floor. Much to Rachel’s delight, there was nothing else beneath the thin layer of cloth, his naked body greeting her with clear delight.

Standing there, confident in his skin, Rachel suddenly began to doubt herself again. Gabe sensed her withdraw and quickly combatted the back step by reaching out and pulling her close once again. He pressed his warm lips to her, kissing her deep and long. Slipping his hand between one of the slits in her gown, he gently caressed the inside of her thigh before allowing his fingertips to explore inward.

Rachel cried out, her legs quivering from the pleasure. Pulling his hand away, all he could think about was seeing her glorious body. Yanking on the gown, he lifted it up and over her head, letting it fall to the floor. Gabe smiled, staring at her full breasts. Cupping one, he slipped her nipple into his open mouth. Rachel flung her head back, closing her eyes and enjoying every second.

Rachel looked away, not able to take the intenseness of his eyes. Pulling her chin towards him, he forced her gaze back into his eyes. I—Love—You, pulling his lips away, he mouthed the words, not uttering a sound except his heavy breathing.

“I love you, too,” Rachel whispered, her fears and anxieties lifting.

Gabe pushed against her, the warmth of his chest pressing up against her breasts. Leaning down, Gabe swept Rachel’s hair aside, kissing the part of her body where her neck and shoulder joined. His lips trailed slow, wet kisses down her shoulder, stopping just short of her left breast. She shook with anticipation.
Rachel looked back into Gabe’s eyes as she reached out and took hold of his shirt; she began to unbutton it, catching a glimpse of his bare chest. In an instant she saw a hint of a smile curl at the edge of his lips, the sight of which made her flutter. She slowly continued disrobing him, releasing each button from its hold. Once the job was done the white shirt fell open, exposing his chiseled physique.

Running her hands up his tight six pack, she lingered for a moment before continuing over his strong, broad chest. She moved her hands up to his shoulders, causing the shirt to slip off and fall to the floor. Gabe’s slight smile widened as he continued to allow Rachel to take the lead.

Her hands explored his warm chest for a few moments longer. With each new crevice she discovered, she would lean in and memorize the line with a small kiss. Her hands working their way down to the waist band of his pants that hung low on his fit body, revealing a glimpse of the rigid v-cut below his hips.

Gabe moaned in delight, a low throaty sound that vibrated through his chest, tickling her lips. Gabe reached out, pulling Rachel in, his intense gaze so full of passion it nearly made her melt. His lips met hers, the intensity causing her to tremble. Reaching up, she clasped her arms around his neck in an attempt to steady herself. He pulled away, pleased with himself as he heard her sigh, watching her eyes flutter in ecstasy.

Rachel tugged and pulled at the stubborn button of his slacks. The longer she took, the more increasingly embarrassed she became. Gabe growled a deep and almost silent laughter.

“A little help here,” Rachel replied, throwing her hands up in despair.

With great ease, Gabe slipped the button from its hold, dropping his hands back to his sides. Rachel stared at him puzzled. “Oh no, please, you were doing such a good job, you finish,” Gabe instructed, a huge grin across his face now.

Rachel couldn’t help but also smile, realizing how silly her frustration was. Eagerly, she slid down the zipper of his pants, allowing them to drop to the floor. Much to Rachel’s delight, there was nothing else beneath the thin layer of cloth, his naked body greeting her with clear delight.

Standing there, confident in his skin, Rachel suddenly began to doubt herself again. Gabe sensed her withdraw and quickly combatted the back step by reaching out and pulling her close once again. He pressed his warm lips to her, kissing her deep and long. Slipping his hand between one of the slits in her gown, he gently caressed the inside of her thigh before allowing his fingertips to explore inward.

Rachel cried out, her legs quivering from the pleasure. Pulling his hand away, all he could think about was seeing her glorious body. Yanking on the gown, he lifted it up and over her head, letting it fall to the floor. Gabe smiled, staring at her full breasts. Cupping one, he slipped her nipple into his open mouth. Rachel flung her head back, closing her eyes and enjoying every second.

Rachel looked away, not able to take the intenseness of his eyes. Pulling her chin towards him, he forced her gaze back into his eyes. I—Love—You, pulling his lips away, he mouthed the words, not uttering a sound except his heavy breathing.

“I love you, too,” Rachel whispered, her fears and anxieties lifting.

“This is so much bigger than you or me. Do you know how many have died for the cause?”

“Uri!” Gabe yelled. “Don’t you get it? You don’t know you’re going to die. You risk your life knowing it’s a possibility, but you don’t know you will be killed as a certainty. The prophecy tells me I will die. I help, and I’m giving my life.”

“That’s just it; I’m not asking you to do that,” Uri added.

Gabe shook his head, looking at Uri with a puzzled stare. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m not asking you to protect the prophet. I’m not asking you to even stay involved. I just need to leave Rachel with you until I figure all this out and find a place to hide her. The prophet hasn’t been born. Hell, she isn’t even pregnant; there is no risk to you based on the prophecy,” Uri explained his reasoning.

“Except for the army of demons hunting her!” Gabe exclaimed.

“Alright, I admit, what I’m asking is not without risk. I wouldn’t ask you if I weren’t out of options,” Uri explained.

“You found me, how safe can it really be for her here?” Gabe asked, doubting Uri’s reasoning.

“The only way I found you was the trinket Dina put on your bag when you left Rampart years ago. Had I not used that to track you, I don’t think I would have ever found you. What are the chances Baal or any of his followers will discover you? Think about it, it truly is the perfect hiding place,” Uri urged.

Gabe sighed, “I know, it took me years of running before I found it; I’m not exactly looking to give it up.”

“I wouldn’t come to you if I had any other option.”

“I don’t know …” Gabe said. A moment later, the front door creaked open. Rachel stood there, clothes damp, simply staring.

“Rachel!” Uri gasped. “Are you all right?”

“I slipped,” Rachel replied flatly. The men looked to each other, each one unsure what to do.

Suddenly, Rachel burst out in a full and jovial laughter. The men soon followed in a similar fashion, all amused by the humor of the situation.

“Come over here and get warm,” Uri said, while motioning to the nearby stove that was still warming a pot of water.

As she did, Uri looked over his shoulder to Gabe who simply nodded. With that unspoken agreement, Gabe would participate in the fight just a little longer. He would watch over Rachel at his home until Uri could return and retrieve her. Uri didn’t utter a response; instead, he walked up and patted his friend firmly on the back in gratitude.

 

“This is so much bigger than you or me. Do you know how many have died for the cause?”

“Uri!” Gabe yelled. “Don’t you get it? You don’t know you’re going to die. You risk your life knowing it’s a possibility, but you don’t know you will be killed as a certainty. The prophecy tells me I will die. I help, and I’m giving my life.”

“That’s just it; I’m not asking you to do that,” Uri added.

Gabe shook his head, looking at Uri with a puzzled stare. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m not asking you to protect the prophet. I’m not asking you to even stay involved. I just need to leave Rachel with you until I figure all this out and find a place to hide her. The prophet hasn’t been born. Hell, she isn’t even pregnant; there is no risk to you based on the prophecy,” Uri explained his reasoning.

“Except for the army of demons hunting her!” Gabe exclaimed.

“Alright, I admit, what I’m asking is not without risk. I wouldn’t ask you if I weren’t out of options,” Uri explained.

“You found me, how safe can it really be for her here?” Gabe asked, doubting Uri’s reasoning.

“The only way I found you was the trinket Dina put on your bag when you left Rampart years ago. Had I not used that to track you, I don’t think I would have ever found you. What are the chances Baal or any of his followers will discover you? Think about it, it truly is the perfect hiding place,” Uri urged.

Gabe sighed, “I know, it took me years of running before I found it; I’m not exactly looking to give it up.”

“I wouldn’t come to you if I had any other option.”

“I don’t know …” Gabe said. A moment later, the front door creaked open. Rachel stood there, clothes damp, simply staring.

“Rachel!” Uri gasped. “Are you all right?”

“I slipped,” Rachel replied flatly. The men looked to each other, each one unsure what to do.

Suddenly, Rachel burst out in a full and jovial laughter. The men soon followed in a similar fashion, all amused by the humor of the situation.

“Come over here and get warm,” Uri said, while motioning to the nearby stove that was still warming a pot of water.

As she did, Uri looked over his shoulder to Gabe who simply nodded. With that unspoken agreement, Gabe would participate in the fight just a little longer. He would watch over Rachel at his home until Uri could return and retrieve her. Uri didn’t utter a response; instead, he walked up and patted his friend firmly on the back in gratitude.

Gabe could feel the joy in Uri’s presence. He hoped his friend didn’t misunderstand his level of commitment. He would make sure it was clear before Uri left. He was willing to watch over Rachel for a short time, just long enough for Uri to find a place safe enough for her. After that, he was out. For good.

 

Excerpt #2

Rachel looked back into Gabe’s eyes as she reached out and took hold of his shirt; she began to unbutton it, catching a glimpse of his bare chest. In an instant she saw a hint of a smile curl at the edge of his lips, the sight of which made her flutter. She slowly continued disrobing him, releasing each button from its hold. Once the job was done the white shirt fell open, exposing his chiseled physique.

Running her hands up his tight six pack, she lingered for a moment before continuing over his strong, broad chest. She moved her hands up to his shoulders, causing the shirt to slip off and fall to the floor. Gabe’s slight smile widened as he continued to allow Rachel to take the lead.

Her hands explored his warm chest for a few moments longer. With each new crevice she discovered, she would lean in and memorize the line with a small kiss. Her hands working their way down to the waist band of his pants that hung low on his fit body, revealing a glimpse of the rigid v-cut below his hips.

Gabe moaned in delight, a low throaty sound that vibrated through his chest, tickling her lips. Gabe reached out, pulling Rachel in, his intense gaze so full of passion it nearly made her melt. His lips met hers, the intensity causing her to tremble. Reaching up, she clasped her arms around his neck in an attempt to steady herself. He pulled away, pleased with himself as he heard her sigh, watching her eyes flutter in ecstasy.

Rachel tugged and pulled at the stubborn button of his slacks. The longer she took, the more increasingly embarrassed she became. Gabe growled a deep and almost silent laughter.

“A little help here,” Rachel replied, throwing her hands up in despair.

With great ease, Gabe slipped the button from its hold, dropping his hands back to his sides. Rachel stared at him puzzled. “Oh no, please, you were doing such a good job, you finish,” Gabe instructed, a huge grin across his face now.

Rachel couldn’t help but also smile, realizing how silly her frustration was. Eagerly, she slid down the zipper of his pants, allowing them to drop to the floor. Much to Rachel’s delight, there was nothing else beneath the thin layer of cloth, his naked body greeting her with clear delight.

Standing there, confident in his skin, Rachel suddenly began to doubt herself again. Gabe sensed her withdraw and quickly combatted the back step by reaching out and pulling her close once again. He pressed his warm lips to her, kissing her deep and long. Slipping his hand between one of the slits in her gown, he gently caressed the inside of her thigh before allowing his fingertips to explore inward.

Rachel cried out, her legs quivering from the pleasure. Pulling his hand away, all he could think about was seeing her glorious body. Yanking on the gown, he lifted it up and over her head, letting it fall to the floor. Gabe smiled, staring at her full breasts. Cupping one, he slipped her nipple into his open mouth. Rachel flung her head back, closing her eyes and enjoying every second.

Rachel looked away, not able to take the intenseness of his eyes. Pulling her chin towards him, he forced her gaze back into his eyes. I—Love—You, pulling his lips away, he mouthed the words, not uttering a sound except his heavy breathing.

“I love you, too,” Rachel whispered, her fears and anxieties lifting.

Gabe pushed against her, the warmth of his chest pressing up against her breasts. Leaning down, Gabe swept Rachel’s hair aside, kissing the part of her body where her neck and shoulder joined. His lips trailed slow, wet kisses down her shoulder, stopping just short of her left breast. She shook with anticipation.

 

Excerpt #3

Crossing the small wooden bridge, just past the rubble, Gabe ducked off to the left and swooped underneath into hiding. Once sure he was secure, and could not be seen by those that passed overhead, Gabe collapsed on to the dirt and grass. Turning on his side, his body convulsed, and relieved itself of any food that had been in his belly. Rachel was right. He was a liability. Anyone who tried to protect him ended up paying a high price. He didn’t know if his old friends were dead, but he was certain whatever fate had found them must have been bad.

Gabe thought of Uri. Maybe that was why he had not yet returned. Maybe Uri was already dead. What was the point? Why stay alive only to be alone? Rachel’s recent company had reminded Gabe of what life had been like when he had friends. He used to laugh. He used to have more of a reason to get up in the morning than to just tend to the garden. Everything in his life now was simple, too simple. It was the basic things he worried about, like having food in the winter. All he thought about was what he would need to survive alone. Winter would come and go. Then next year, still alone, nobody to talk to, nobody to share with, he would do it all again. Why was he running? Why was he hiding? What was the point in surviving when you’re alone? Gabe didn’t have an answer.

“Gabe?” the small voice behind him caused him to jump, his heart skipping a beat.

Gabe spun around to see who had called his name, wiping a bit of vomit from the corner of his mouth as he did so.

“It is you,” the woman said, not moving.

“Clarite?” Gabe asked, unconvinced the frail woman that stood before him used to be the sweet girl that had given him aid not long ago.

She nodded and smiled, so overcome with emotion she was unable to speak further. Gabe rushed up to her, and as he did he recognized little bits of her face. She had changed greatly, but it was still her. With a sigh of relief, Gabe pulled her close to him for a deep embrace. “I thought you were all—” Gabe paused, not willing to give the words life.

“I’m fine. What are you doing here though? If they find you, well, it wouldn’t be good for anyone,” Clarite said softly. Gabe noticed even her demeanor had changed. She had always been boisterous, even the loud and commanding type when needed. Clarite now reminded him of a weak and feeble mouse. She barely moved and when she did it was obvious it took much effort on her part. She seemed to have aged forty years instead of the four he had been gone.

“Please come, sit,” Gabe directed, taking the woman’s arm. Guiding her away from his puke towards the water’s edge, they both took a seat. Gabe just stared at her as they sat. Unable to reconcile that this woman had been the same one he left all those years ago. She was only a few years older than him and Gabe had fancied her when they first met, though she had never returned the interest in the time they spent together.

“What happened here?” Gabe finally asked, referring to the changes he had seen around Baynar.

“My God, you haven’t aged a bit,” Clarite said, ignoring Gabe’s question.

“I don’t think I would exactly agree with you. I’m feeling so tired all the time. It’s exhausting always looking over your shoulder, waiting for someone to find you,” Gabe replied softly with a smile. The woman reached out and touched Gabe’s cheek as if she had to convince herself he was real.

Gabe grasped her hand firmly. “Clarite, you have to tell me what happened.”

Clarite looked away, staring at the water. They sat in silence for a few moments until at last she spoke. “When Baal’s men came, we all thought you would return. The chosen one would come back and slay the demon’s army. Baylor tried to tell them, the town’s people. He told them there was no way for you to know what was happening here. When the questioning started, it didn’t take long for someone to give up Baylor. They tried torture with him, but you know Baylor—he wouldn’t talk.”

Gabe squeezed Clarite’s hand even tighter. He wanted to scream out in anger, but remained silent, listening. He needed to know more and upsetting Clarite wouldn’t help him.

“We could hear Baylor’s screams from the prison. Kryn couldn’t take it anymore; he decided he would break Baylor out. It didn’t go like he planned. He made it inside but then he — well, it was like he lost all his will to fight when he discovered Baylor was already dead. Kryn just sat there, holding him, he didn’t even try to resist when they found him. After he was captured they decided they would make an example out of him.” Clarite’s voice caught in her throat and she began to tremble.

Gabe pulled her closer, not letting go of her hand, and wrapping his other arm around her body in an effort to comfort her.

“They burned it all to the ground, everything he had in the world. He didn’t even react, just watched silently. I don’t even know if Kryn was in there anymore, his stare was glassy and when he walked it was like he was a machine instead of … I don’t know. It just didn’t seem like him. When they realized torturing him was not going to be any fun they killed him and put his head on a stake outside of town. They wanted everyone to know that if you help the protector you will not be shown mercy.” With those words Clarite heaved as if she were going to cry, but had no tears left.

“I’m so sorry, Clarite,” Gabe said, wishing he could lessen her pain.

Clarite closed her eyes and took a deep breath, willing herself to continue. “Many of the town’s people, including myself, were put to work serving Baal’s men. We fed them, cleaned for them, anything that needed done we took care of it. I don’t think I slept at all during those months. Then one day they were gone. I don’t know where, just gone. Do you know what it’s like to wake up every day expecting it to be your last? When they left I didn’t know how to feel. The Wintoks have been around ever since, mercenaries of Baal.”

“Clarite, if I had known— ” Gabe began.

“What? What would you have done if you knew?” Clarite growled.

Gabe sat silent.

 

Excerpt #4

 

“I always loved the smell of rain. Even as a kid, I was never sad when it would rain. My friends always complained because it meant they couldn’t play outside. You would find me curled up on the box seat, the window cracked, a blanket across my lap, and a book in my hands. My aunt always said I had an old soul, just like her.”

“You were close to your aunt?” Gabe asked.

“Oh very. She took my brother and I in after my mom died,” Rachel explained.

Gabe shuddered at the familiar story. Almost all of the students he met at Rampart shared the theme of a parentless upbringing. Many of those parents had been torn away in violent scenarios, including his own. “I’m so sorry about your mom.”

“Don’t be. The cancer took years. In the end we were glad it was finally over. My dad didn’t stick around long after my brother was born. Once mom got sick my aunt moved right in. I guess it just became our normal. We went to live at her house once my mom did pass away. It just seemed natural, living with her. She made us feel like we had a home and like we were wanted,” Rachel continued with her story.

“Your aunt sounds pretty amazing,” Gabe added.

“Oh she is. I want you to meet her one day,” Rachel said. The idea of meeting her family made Gabe blush, though he didn’t know why.

“Does your brother still live with her?” Gabe asked.

Rachel hesitated, looking back out the front door to the rainy night. “I’m not sure. He was getting ready to head off to college when I left with Uri. I haven’t spoken to them since that night, so I don’t really know what happened.

Gabe could hear the sadness in her voice. When Uri had found him he was leaving nothing behind. Gabe had no friends or family of any kind. He never imagined how hard it would be for someone to leave when they had something to stay for. “I’m sorry this happened to you.”

“What? Don’t be silly. You all are protecting me, I’m grateful,” Rachel replied. Without hesitation she dashed out the front door, squealing as the cool rain fell on her face.

Surprised by Rachel’s sudden sprint into action, Gabe leaned forward and pulled himself to the open doorway. Midway into the clearing in front of the cabin Rachel danced. Spinning in a circle, her face and palms turned upwards, she was basking in the moonlight and embracing the rain drops. Rachel’s tongue slipped out, mouth open, lapping up the water as it fell.

“Hey, crazy woman, what are you doing?” Gabe called out.

“It’s refreshing, you should join me.”

“Yeah, no thanks, I think I will stay in here where it’s dry and warm,” Gabe replied.

“Oh come on, you big wuss, live a little,” Rachel goaded, not shifting her gaze from the heavens. “It’s beautiful! The moon, the stars. All of it.”

Using the door handle, Gabe pulled himself to a standing position with a groan. “How is it you always do that?”

“Do what?” Rachel asked, glancing at him for a brief moment.

“You look at everything with such a positive attitude. It’s pouring rain out there and you’re talking about how beautiful it is. I wish I had been born with that ability. I can move mountains, but I can’t find the silver lining in things,” Gabe grimaced stepping onto the porch, careful to stay under the shelter of the roof.

Rachel stopped spinning and looked at Gabe intensely.

“What? Is it something I said?” Gabe asked, glancing over his shoulder and acting confused.

Rachel didn’t say a word; she calmly walked up to face him. Silently they stared at each other for a moment. She leaned in and planted a wet and gentle kiss on his cheek. “Gabe, it’s not something you’re born with. If you want to be happy, then be happy. You only need to make the choice to let go of your sadness.”

With that, Rachel walked past Gabe and back into the cabin, the rain water dripping from her drenched clothes that now clung to her curves, leaving very little to Gabe’s imagination.

Gabe realized he was standing there alone, with a goofy smile on his face. Limping inside, he closed the door behind him, her words still lingering in his mind. Gabe wanted more than anything to be able to choose happiness. He wanted a rain storm to make him smile. He desired that the simple task of cooking would make him dance. To Gabe, however, it didn’t seem as simple as just making a choice. He hoped her joy was contagious, because he was in uncharted territories.

 

 

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