Authors: Bella Raven
Tags: #mystery, #young adult, #magic, #shapeshifter, #paranormal, #romance, #suspense, #witch, #Thriller
WITCHES & WEREWOLVES
A Sacred Oath
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents, except for incidental references to public figures, products, or services, are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental, and not intended to refer to any living person or to disparage any company’s products or services.
© 2015 Bella Raven
All rights reserved. Worldwide.
No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, uploaded, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter devised, without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review
I’M NOT ONE-hundred percent dead yet. But let’s just say the writing is on the wall. Two months ago, I never would have believed any of this. If someone had told me all of these crazy things were going to happen, I would have suggested they get psychiatric counseling. Or heavy meds. Or both.
Two months ago, I didn’t believe in witches, vampires, or werewolves. I was just a happy, average, teenage girl. My biggest complaint was that I had to babysit my little brother on a Saturday night.
I distinctly remember the argument I had with my mom. There was a major senior party, and Chloe and I had been planning all week to go. Everyone was going to be there, including Liam Jacobs. Especially Liam Jacobs.
It all seems so ridiculous now. Looking back, Liam wasn’t all that hot anyway. Mom and I were yelling at each other. She was saying that I needed to learn to appreciate my little brother, Noah. Saying that I needed to appreciate family time. I was saying that my social life was important. Neither of us were listening to each other.
I’d give anything to go back to that day and change the things that happened next. It was only a few weeks after that fight when everything changed. Everything went downhill.
In a few moments, I’ll be dead. But then again, life is a near death experience, if you’re living it to the fullest. Everyone’s luck runs out at some point. No one lives forever—at least, I didn’t think so. My luck is about to run out. But there is something strange and beautiful that happens in that moment.
It’s the darkness that shows us how bright the light shines. As I face my death, I am thankful. I have lived and loved more in the last few days than most people do in their entire lifetime. More than I ever thought I was capable of.
Being on the brink of death brings a certain clarity of mind. The little things that don’t really matter just fade away. You see the big picture. It’s unfortunate that this clarity only comes at the end.
I guess you could say I’m having a near life experience.
MY LEGS WENT numb, and my stomach turned in knots. I tried to breathe but it felt like an elephant was standing on my chest. I wanted to burst into tears as I listened to the man’s voice on the other end of the telephone, but I did my best to stay strong. To hold it all in. I didn’t want to freak Noah out. Instead, I stood there like a pipe with a slow leak, about to burst at the seams. The man on the phone gave me the most horrible news I could imagine.
He was calling from the County Sheriff’s office and telling me my parents wouldn’t be coming home.
There had been some kind of accident. I don’t think I fully comprehended what he was saying at the time. His voice seemed to fade into a monotonous echo of facts and details that I’d rather forget. He told me that they had a man in custody—a long-haul trucker, who had been driving for days. Despite having trace amounts of methamphetamine in his system, he managed to nod off at the wheel for an instant. Nodding off
and swerving into oncoming traffic. That traffic being my parents.
The sheriff told me my father was most likely killed on impact, but that my mother lived a little longer. The 18 wheeler clipped the driver side of the car, spinning it off the road, crashing through the guardrail, plummeting into the lake below. The official cause of death for my mother was asphyxiation by drowning. I think the official cause should have been listed as death by jackass.
That jackass walked away from the whole thing without a scratch.
My mother always hated the water. She always said that she thought drowning would be the worst way to go. When we were younger she would take us to the beach, but you could see the fear on her face. I think she would’ve worn a life preserver if she hadn’t felt it would embarrass us too much. Even a swimming pool was a hurdle for her. Can you imagine being deathly afraid of the water yet having two kids who love to swim? It’s these kinds of things about your parents that you don’t really appreciate until later.
Almost every day during the summer she would take us to the neighborhood pool. But mom kept her distance, clinging white knuckled to the lounge chair until we were pruned and ready to leave. She drew the line at boats though. Waterskiing and fishing were things we did with dad.
I can’t go near the water now. I wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats. My body vibrating with panic. I’m underwater, trapped in a car. I can’t breathe. Bubbles are rising, and I’m banging on the window. But I can’t get out of the car. The surface is just above, but I just can’t get there. It’s like I’m reliving what my mom and dad experienced. I have this dream over and over again. I feel guilty.
I remember all the times that I rushed to get off the phone with them because I had “better” things to do. All the times that I ignored them. All the times that I got mad at them for stupid things. Right now, I’d give anything just to have one more
family dinner. One more phone call to check on me to see how I was doing, or where I was. I’d happily clean my room, do my laundry, or even do homework with them.
Before, I couldn’t wait to grow up and get out on my own—now, I wish I could go back and be a little kid forever. You get a phone call like that in the middle of a stormy night, you grow up real quick. That phone call is the reason Noah and I are on our way to live with our estranged uncle Jake. But he’s the only family we have left.
I haven’t seen him in years and I’m not sure I’ll even recognize him.
We used to go visit him when I was little, but something changed. I think I was six or eight the last time we went to see him. He and dad got into a fight, after that we never went to visit again. I’m not really sure why they had a falling out, but apparently I’ll have plenty of time to figure that out.
After everything that’s happened, I just feel numb. Disconnected. The volume on life just got turned down a notch. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a movie of my life—that it’s not real, that it’s not mine. The only thing I care about is Noah. I wonder if I’ll ever feel anything again?
Anything, besides pain? I try to stay positive though—I mean, how much worse could it possibly get?
Still, I despise the thought of going to live with uncle Jake. And it’s not just because I hate to fly. He’s a nice enough guy, I guess. And I always thought he was funny. But the prospect of living in such a small town makes me concerned that I’m going to lose what little sanity I have left. It might be good for Noah though. Jake has a nice little four-bedroom house with several acres of land. More than enough for an 11-year-old boy like Noah to entertain himself with. Maybe the solitude will do me some good too.
I just need to get through senior year without having a meltdown. I’ve got to be strong for Noah—I’m his mom and his dad now, but I’m not really parent material.
Sometimes I think Noah is handling this better than I am. We don’t really talk about it much. A look or a glance is all it takes to know what the other is thinking, but neither of us really want to go
. Sometimes I think he tries to be strong just for me.
We are traveling light. We each have a suitcase and a backpack. Trying to start fresh and new. Trying to leave memories behind. In my backpack, there is a carved wooden keepsake box. In the box, there is a letter addressed to me that I don’t want to open.
My parents kept all of their important papers in a safe. Wills, insurance policies, keepsakes. When they passed, it took me two weeks to find the combination. It was stuck between the pages of a recipe book, right between the cheesecake and the key lime pie. Two of my favorite desserts. I guess mom figured I would find it there eventually.
The letter was sealed in an envelope with my name handwritten by my mother. The envelope was on top of the Will in the safe. Underneath my name, my mom wrote:
As if the grief of losing a loved one isn’t enough, you have to deal with all the paperwork. Filling out forms, making arrangements, closing accounts, opening estate accounts, probating the will. It seems like a never ending barrage of red tape and hoops to jump through. An official copy of the death certificate and a Letter of Testamentary (that names a legal executor) are needed for everything.
Everyone you talk to in an official capacity, either on the phone, or in person, says that they are sorry for your loss. But they’re not. It’s just an obligatory statement. What they should say is, I don’t care about your dilemma, and I’m going to make things harder for you. That would be somewhat closer to the truth. They tell you that you need document
before you can get document
. But you can’t get document
until you get document
. And document
requires that you have document
. At least, that’s what it seems like. And it’s maddening.
When I first found the letter addressed to me, I just stared at my mother’s handwriting on the envelope.
. The words seemed ominous and foreboding. What was she sorry about? Sorry that she was gone? Sorry that I had to deal with everything I’m going through right now? But it was something more than that. There was a twinge of guilt in those words.
My mother was meticulous. Everything was always in it’s place, and she loved lists. With the Wills, there was a list of what to do and who to call in case of catastrophe. The list was detached and unemotional. A perfunctory outline of procedures to follow. The letter, on the other hand, seemed emotional. Personal. A last message. A plea for forgiveness. But, there was nothing to forgive.
The letter terrifies me. I can’t open it. Not now. I’ve had to maintain some sort of detachment just to get through all of this. I’m afraid if I read that letter, I’m going to fall apart again. So, I have it stashed away, locked in my keepsake box, which is stuffed in my backpack. I’m going to keep the letter hidden away until I’m brave enough to read it. And I can’t help but wonder—why is there a letter for me, but not for Noah?