By D.M. Sears
After tonight, Eden would be forever different. The life she knew was in the past making way for a future unknown. Her destiny beckoned, Eden took a breath and walked into the portal away from childhood, away from her home.
Eden Arik was a typical teenager who lived the typical teenage life...until the pale eyes showed up in her dreams. The birthmark, Eden had always ignored, burned at the new nightmares, raising questions about her past. Eden finds out she is part witch and fairy that is destined to save a world she never knew existed that inhabits people far more than human. Her only solitude is the woods behind her house where she meets a mysterious stranger with steel eyes. With the help of her guardians, two unlikely shape shifters, and a vampire who can bring her to her knees with one glance, Eden goes on to search the secrets of her past, present, and future. Along her way to discovery, Eden comes across Circenn; her grandmother, consort to the Darkness and the evil magic he possess. Circenn will stop at nothing to bring Eden to the darkness so she can harness her granddaughter's limitless power. Seduction, power, and death pave the way towards Eden's destiny and the fate of Ellethny.
Air…I needed air. I sucked breath in between my lips trying to calm my shaking limbs. My skin covered in sweat was ice cold. My wrist seemed as if on fire, my birthmark pulsed an ugly red in unison with my labored breathing. For all the years I dreamed, my birthmark never flared or bothered me, not until recently. Dreams of odd goings on haunted me now. Distant images of a gray sky, purple mountains, and mostly, of these too white blank pair of eyes. Those dreams cause my mark to burn savagely leaving me with a feeling of unsettledness.
I lay in my bed hoping to get a grip on reality as I heard footsteps coming from the hallway. The clock on my nightstand read 2:30 am. Ugh, another night of waking up my guardians. Poor Lex and Val. Every night that a dream troubled me, they came to comfort me. So many sleepless nights they have had all because I am a freak with nightmares.
Tucking my arm under my cover, I sat up in bed waiting for them to burst in. The large oak door opened as my faithful guardians rushed into the room, worried expressions plagued their faces.
“Eden, are you all right?” Val threw her arms around my shoulders pulling me into her warm embrace. Her cracking voice gave a hint that tears were not far behind.
So sleep deprived. Val’s rich brown eyes lacked luster where once they looked like shiny pebbles from a creek bed. Her peaches and cream complexion was pale, pasty, marred with dark circles. The worst part was her hair. Val’s long copper tresses looked colorless and ill treated. I remember wanting to touch the strands all the time. I would wrap my fingers in her natural curls and watch her hair dance as it fell down her back. Taking her in now, the sadness had become so apparent. I was responsible for this whole mess.
“Same dream again. Sorry for getting you both up. I just don’t understand why these dreams keep coming back.” I stared at Lex; his face was shadowed with concern.
Lexington, much like Valora, was also a ghost of his once youthful self. He had perfect blonde hair, deep-set aqua eyes, and always carried a smile. Now, he looked weary, sad, almost guilty yet sympathetic to my night terrors. Not much to smile about anymore, for any of us.
“You have nothing to be sorry for.” Lex patted my shoulder and I took some solace in his soft voice. “We love you and want to help. If coming in here and sitting with you through these nightmares is all we can do, then, we will, for as long as we can.” His smile never reached the corners of his mouth. Val stood behind him, gazing at her husband with sweet appreciation.
“Let’s go downstairs and I will make us some tea. There’s a new recipe I want to try. Made correctly, should induce sleep. Sound good?” Her playful smirk gave way to my grin. I always smiled when she had new recipes to try on us.
“Who doesn’t love being a guinea pig?” I gave a short laugh trying to release the heavy.
“That’s our girl!” Lex beamed at me.
Val winked at the two of us and strolled out of the room. Lex gave his signature smile-nod combo and followed behind. I pushed the covers off once they had gone. A faded pink birthmark replaced the red inflamed skin that throbbed just moments ago. I pulled my sleeve back in place to cover it, removing it from sight. I needed a minute to get myself under control; I watched the small particles of dust float around in the air.
“Come on feet, time to get moving.” I sat up on the corner of my bed, my feet found my slippers and I walked into my bathroom.
The faucet was arched spitting the cold water into the bowl sink. I filled my hands, splashing my face several times enjoying the serenity it gave me. At this point, I would try anything to clear my head. Too many days had come and gone where I was mentally useless. My thoughts hung up on my dreams or weird feelings I was having. Now that my birthmark was coming alive, it added to my already strugglesome life.
The fluffy towel dried my now cooled face and I took the chance to look at myself in the mirror. A worn image of a youthful girl stared back at me. The girl in the mirror looked exhausted, run down from nightly thrashing and screaming. Lifeless auburn hair, pin straight, hung over her shoulders. The girl’s large hazel eyes, dull and bloodshot from endless nightmares, had lost their charm. Exotic, warm, glowing, people said these things about her face. All I could see was a face that had lost its vitality.
There was no point in trying to look nice, have a boyfriend, or friends in general. “Eden nothing is going to help the hot mess that is you.” Talking to myself seemed to be my favorite past time. I pulled my hair back and walked out of the room.
The familiar pictures on the walls comforted me. I had seen these photos for the past seventeen years of my life, each one displaying scenes of my guardians and me. Lex and Val, the only real family I had, but somewhere inside of me there had to be more to my life I had yet to discover; about myself and my past.
My guardians told me I came to live with them as a baby. Fragmented, blurry images were all I could ever remember of my early childhood. Anytime the subject was broached, they shut it down… immediately. For some reason that particular topic was a sore spot. I hoped in time they would tell me on their own, but that came to no avail. Avoidance became the routine. Now, with these super creepy dreams coming at me every night, something had to be done. My gut told me the dreams and my past was interconnected somehow.
My ears picked up the hushed sounds of my guardians in the kitchen. Even though eavesdropping was wrong, I tipped toed to the door straining to hear their conversation.
“Honey, we have to tell her. These dreams are coming more and more often. Something is going to happen if we do not prepare her. We promised we would tell Eden everything when the time was right, that time has come.”
Watching through the crack in the door, Lex walked over and wrapped his arms around Val. Her eyes followed the reflections in the glass before them.
“I don’t know Lex. Her protection is all that matters to me. My family died so I could keep her safe. I cannot put Eden in the same danger I fled from, I just can’t.”
“Don’t cry Valora, Eden has a great destiny, one she will need guidance to fulfill, it is our job to prepare her, no matter what.” Tenderness and sincerity backed each syllable he uttered.
I stood dumbstruck for a brief moment. What did Val mean…her family had died and what danger had she come from? Confusion filled my thoughts. I pushed the door open causing it to hit the wall loudly. “What journey, what am I being prepared for? I think you all need to fill me in on some things.” Curiosity killed the cat they say, I say…meow.
“You heard us huh?” I nodded in response. “Eden, for many years you have asked us what happened to you, your parents, and how you came to live here with us. It’s time to tell you all you want to know.”
Anxiousness overwhelmed me. Trepidation claimed me over what they were going to say. Seventeen years was a long time to keep something quiet, my guess, it wasn’t going to be good news.
“Perhaps we should go sit and talk. The tea is almost ready, I will be with you in a few moments. Val’s whispering voice was barely audible.
Lex gestured towards the door, I followed working out the questions I wanted to ask and hoping I vomit from nervousness.
Lex sat in his usual spot on the worn leather sofa, its matching chair and ottoman sat near the fireplace, my favorite seat in the house. Warm, inviting, I could sit in that chair and read for hours. On more than one occasion, Lex or Valora would find me asleep with a book open in my lap. They would cover me up and leave me. I would eventually wake up minus one book and plus one blanket. Slight warmth, like bath water, flowed from the eclipsed shape mark on my wrist relaxing my tense somewhat.
Semi-relaxed, Val brought me a cup of her tea; I smelled it to see if I could figure out what she had put in it. My guardian has always had this thing with herbs, flowers, and spices. She has a gift, to say the least. Val can combine different herbs and plants into food and drink to help others. She has a small home based business and supplies such remedies to those who can afford it. Tonight her tea smelled of jasmine, lavender, and one other fragrance that stumped me. I took a sip of the heated brown liquid, delicious. It had a strong bitter taste at first, but soon melted away to a sweet floral, honey-like after taste. I felt the tea slide down my throat and warm me from the inside. Relaxation hit immediately. Val knew what she was doing.
“I don’t want to be rude, and I am sorry for listening in on you two, but what do I need to be prepared for?” My gaze flitted between the both of them seated side by side on the leather sofa. They were holding hands, staring at each other; Val had tears in her eyes.
Slowly Lex set his cup down and cleared his throat. “I guess the best place to start is our past. You need to know where we come from to understand the situation we now find ourselves in.”
Lex was ready to speak when Val put a hand up in front of him. “Wait, I should be the one to tell her, after all, she is my niece.” Niece…when did that happen? My insides rolled.
“What? I thought you said you were friends with my mom?” I know I looked stunned, I felt stunned.
D.M. Sears lives in a small town in the middle of Missouri with her daughter, Larissa, and their crazy two-faced cat, Cindy Lou. She is currently a director at an early childhood center and bakes cupcakes on the side as a small in-home business. She has recently begun her publishing career and hopes to continue that for years to come. Sears has found that all the small things that make up her daily life provide her enough ammunition to write some interesting things!
EDEN’S MARK is available now at Amazon and at Solstice Publishing.
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