Authors: Savannah Blevins
Witches of Sanctuary Series
Copyright © 2016 by Savannah Blevins.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: August 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
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Pumpkins. Small pumpkins. Large pumpkins. White, orange, and even black pumpkins. The town of Sanctuary is obsessed with them. Pumpkins, cornstalks, and barrels of hay decorate the corner of every street, while the restaurants serve pumpkin pie and pumpkin lattes. Even the herbal shop next to my bookstore has a special pumpkin scented lotion. A’ la Pumpkin Guts. Smell like a giant, seedy gourd at your convenience.
Carved or painted. Glittered or glowing. Sanctuary might as well throw a giant sign up on the courthouse that proclaims all hail the mighty pumpkin. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve always held a certain nostalgic fondness for the season. The crisp air compels the magic that brews inside of me to the surface. It stirs deep within my bones—a constant vibration itching to be released.
Autumn has stung Sanctuary in a big way, and Frog Hollow is no exception. The large double doors to casa de Thomas are open, allowing the cool breeze off the lake to brush inside along with a stray golden leaf or two. It causes the flames in the floor to ceiling stone fireplace to flicker and dance like opposing pieces in a rumba duet.
Actually, the spirited flames are Reid’s creation. He sits across from me, staring at the fire, his fingers moving in a rhythmic pattern matching that of the twirling glow. He’s been exceptionally quiet today. More so than the normal Reid Thomas kind of quiet. His feathered bronze hair is a mess. His fingers can’t seem to stay out of it. Like right now. His free hand absently rakes through the top.
I snuggle deeper into the extra-large cushion on the floor. My eyes are heavy, each blink a little more labored than the next. It’s a perfect afternoon for a nap, if afternoons are allowed to be perfect without the outside interference of
A ceremony waits for me tonight. The Declaration, they call it. I will be declared the leader of my family. The head of the line of Innocents whose powers derive from the moon. It’s considered an honor. It’s become more of a death sentence as of late. My grandmother Carolina and my mother Katherine were both killed by the Haunted because of their prestigious place in our ranks.
Mostly, I don’t want to go through the ceremony alone.
Reid still hasn’t told his mother or any of the other Innocents the truth about his powers. I don’t know what he’s waiting on, and I’m not sure if he knows either. It’s been two months since the Summer Solstice when my Sun did not present herself in front of the circle. Two months since Reid’s confession. Despite the rules of the legend that say only females in your family line inherit the powers of the Innocent, Reid is my matching half. That confession changed everything.
My hand eases across the large stones of the hearth toward his dancing fingertips. He glances up at the contact. His green irises flash a lighter color as the spark of electricity shoots between us.
Reid is the Sun, and I am the Moon. Opposing puzzle pieces that fit together so precisely that it makes it difficult to see beyond the spark that connects us now. Reid grasps my hand, his smile slow but magnificent. “What are you drinking?”
I glance down at the small yellow teacup at my feet. Steam billows out of the top. A cinnamon stick stirs itself around the chipped rim. “Pumpkin cider. One of Jade’s new concoctions.”
Reid scoots up in his seat, his lips turning crooked at the edges. “When did drinking cider before five become okay?”
I grin back at him. “It’s five o’clock somewhere. Besides, it has pumpkin in it. According to the new town rules, that makes it okay.”
Reid smirks, but then eyes the cup again. “What else did Jade put in this concoction?”
I scoot back and pick up my teacup. I lift it to my nose, breathing in the sweet aroma of the steam. Jade’s particular skill set is unmatchable. She could infuse any common drink with other special remedies based on the individual needs of the consumer. Reid asked his question because he wants to know what I told Jade I needed.
He already knows the answer.
I need sleep. A dreamless sleep, absent of cold eyes and murderous intentions. I need one night without the memory of Julien Cote on that rooftop in Charleston. I need it more than I need the air in my lungs. Reid’s fingers catch the edge of the cup as it touches my lips. “What did Jade put in it, Wilhelmina?”
I take a sip. It’s sweet, the spice just right as it mixes with the cider. I close my eyes. Reid moves out of his seat to the floor next to me. His arms wrap around my waist, his face brushing the sheath of my long blonde hair cascading down my shoulder. His sigh is instant. “Why didn’t you tell me it was this bad?”
I bring the cup down to my lap, leaning back against his shoulder. “It’s not every night.”
“But it’s enough that you went to Jade. Why not come to me?”
Reid doesn’t understand. I go to him every day. He’s the single reason I step foot out of bed every morning. If it weren’t for him, the fear would cripple me.
Julien is out there. He knows where to find me. It’s only a matter of time. The curse consumes him now. It manipulates his once pure thoughts into something dark and twisted. It transformed the way he feels about me into something that compelled him to send a blade through my chest the last time I saw him.
The puncture still aches. It burns every time I think about Julien. The sting of the sharp metal returns, as do the memories of the night on that rooftop. The night I lost my friend.
It isn’t fair that my loneliness is eased while Julien’s is cemented forever.
My Julien trapped inside himself by a monster. A monster that wishes to torture us both.
Reid touches my hand that clasps over the healed wound in my chest. I lean into him. “I just need one good night’s sleep.”
He opens his mouth to say something else, but I place my finger over his lips. I don’t want Reid to worry about this right now. Jade’s drink will help me sleep. It will help keep the nightmares away.
I rake my finger down his lips the same time a sound erupts in the small, back space of my mind. I glance over his shoulder toward the open doors. “Someone is coming.”
I sense it. The swift movement of bare feet in the wind. The soft crunch of dried leaves. It’s a new trick I’ve been honing. You can’t be too careful when your former friend’s only desire is to bring your life to an end.
Reid kisses my finger, pulling it down. “I know. It’s only my sister.”
I shoot him a quick glare. Reid, though his powers are still secret to the others, has spent years developing his skills in private. It still catches me off guard how much more advanced he is than I am. Sure enough, Abby barrels through the open doors only moments later.
Her chocolate hair is braided and wrapped around her head. The streaks that pepper the front are a rough, burnt orange. Reflective of the change in season, no doubt. She tugs at the bottom of the long, navy dress to drag it through the door. She grins at the sight of Reid so close to me. In this moment, Abby is Reid’s sister and not my best friend. She’s noticed the change between Reid and me lately, the subtle intimacy of his touch. They all see it. Abby slows down and tiptoes the remaining way into the room. “Am I interrupting?”
“Yes.” Reid shoots a fake smile back at her. “Leave.”
He absolutely hates when his sister interferes. Reid and I haven’t technically made anything official between us yet. Relationship speaking. Abby enjoys reminding us on a daily basis that it’s taking too long.
Abby rolls her eyes, but her smile doesn’t fade. I playfully pat Reid on the chest. “What he means is that you’re early. I wasn’t expecting you until six.”
She nods, swinging her long gown around. “Yet here you are at my house waiting for me.”
I stand up and adjust my dress. The fabric is thick and heavy. A golden thread embroiders an elaborate pattern throughout the chest and hemline of the plum colored material. It’s the handiwork of Reid’s mother, Sera. A dress gifted to me for the special occasion tonight. “I’m here,” I say. Then I glance around, my teeth inadvertently tugging on my lip. “It doesn’t mean I’m ready to go quite yet.”
Abby jumps down the step that separates the platform in front of the door from the wide space of the intimate family room that surrounds the glowing hearth. “I know you don’t see the point of going through with this without your Moon. The ceremony still holds meaning. We need a leader.”
I am no one’s leader.
The fear inside my head screams it at me. I’m not ready to take my mother’s place at the head of our line. I’m not her. I don’t possess the raw abilities that garnered such a prestigious honor to be placed upon her shoulders.
Reid touches my back, but I don’t move. It’s his silent request. He knows I must go too. I’ve been chosen to lead the Innocent, but not because of my powers. I am still learning those every day. I was chosen because the spirit of Priscilla DeMarci chose me. I know the true secrets of the Innocent. I, Wilhelmina Daniels, know the true story of the Haunted. I must use this information to keep my family safe. They all must band together to keep
Reid’s hand leaves my back and he steps in front of me. “Would you mind if I drop Willa off at the circle later?”
Abby looks between us. “Is there something wrong?”
Yes. Everything is wrong.
I don’t want to do this.
I don’t want any of this to be happening to me.
“Nothing is wrong.” Reid stays in front me. He knows my face will tell too much. “Willa just started a cup of Jade’s cider. I think finishing it will help calm her nerves.”
I grip the back of his flannel shirt. It’s one of my favorites. He always wears it over a ridiculous black t-shirt with a giant picture of Pluto on it. The planet, not the dog. It’s his silent protest against its change in planetary status. Reid is quietly nerdy like that, and I love it.
He turns to me, and I immediately cup his face in my palms, squeezing his cheeks together until his lips make a squishy fish face. “I thought we discussed how you were to stop worrying about me so much?”
He grins, scooting close to me. The lopsided front of his hair falls in his eyes. “We did discuss it. However, I don’t recall us agreeing on the matter.”
I’m inches away from him now. He brings my hands down from his face, the same time his lips brush my temple. “Drink the cider, Willa. You need the rest.”
I need him. I need him to tell the truth about his powers. If he confessed to them that he is my Sun, then he could attend the ceremony with me.
Abby valiantly clears her throat as I see her step into view beside us. I give one slight glance in her direction, but then it goes directly back to Reid, who doesn’t waiver.
He isn’t ready to tell them.
Abby clicks her tongue. “Okay. I definitely interrupted something earlier.”
Reid sighs, his fingers reflexively gripping my hip. “Then take the hint.” He glances at the door and then back to his sister.
Abby’s lips purse. “Fine. Drop her off at dusk. No later.”
“No later,” he says, smiling at his twin.
Abby studies both of us again. She knows one of us is hiding something. She slowly makes her way back toward the open doors, glancing over her shoulder. She looks at me. It’s her best friend look. She expects me to spill my guts later.
When she’s gone, Reid crosses the room and pushes the heavy wooden doors together. “Grab your cider. You can drink it on the way.”
“Where are we going?”
Reid jumps back down the step toward me, grabbing my cup and placing it gently in my hands. “You want me there tonight. Yes?”
“I didn’t say—”
“You don’t have to say it, Willa. I’m not just your Sun. I’m your—”
I raise my brow in interest. In fact, I almost laugh. It’s as if my dear, sweet Reid Thomas finally realized he’d forgotten to make this thing between us official.
I smile at him, and he returns it. “I’ll work on it,” he says quietly.
“Do that, guy who apparently isn’t just my Sun.”
His smile broadens. “My point is…I know me keeping this secret is a burden on you. You deserve to have me by your side tonight.”
“You’re going to tell them?”
Reid wrinkles his nose, his eyes rounding in that sappy wounded puppy way that melts the hard fibers of my willpower. “Not technically.”
“What do you mean? How can you be there with me without telling them you’re one of us?”
“I’m one of the Innocent, aren’t I?” He pulls his closed fist up between us and slowly opens it to reveal a small flicker of flame like the one from the fire he played with earlier.
He really is more talented than I am.
“You have a spell?”
He closes his fist and the flame disappears. “Of course I have a spell.”
I step back, rubbing my hand down my face. “And you waited until an hour before the ceremony to tell me this, because…?”