Authors: S.J. West
The Alternate Earth Series
List of Watcher Books in the Watcher Series
The Watchers Trilogy
The Watcher Chronicles
Aiden’s Story (
A Bonus Novel
The Alternate Earth Series (A Jess and Mason Bonus Adventure)
The Redemption Series
Other Books by S.J. West
The Harvest of Light Trilogy
The Vankara Saga
War of Atonement (Fall 2015)
©2015 S.J. West. All Rights Reserved.
And when it opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
A mirror’s reflection tells you nothing about yourself when the state of your soul is in question. The contours of your face, the color of your eyes, and the outline of your lips are simply superficial markers of the person you truly are. I have no way of knowing if I’m a good person or a bad one. Without my memories…without my past, I feel like I’m nothing but an empty shell, waiting to be filled again.
As I stare at myself in the full-length mirror in the room Lucian said was mine, I can’t help but wonder when, or if, my memories will ever come back to me. How is it that I can remember what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes like, but I can’t remember when my birthday is?
Who am I?
Lucian told me my name was Jessica Riley, and that he was my friend. I didn’t have any trouble believing the name part, but something buried deep inside my soul keeps screaming at me not to place my trust in him. I’ve tried to quell this unintelligible voice, but it refuses to stop nagging me. Maybe my subconscious is trying to warn me of something I’m unable to remember. Whatever the reason, I’ve decided not to take everything Lucian tells me as being the gospel truth. The more I think about the circumstances I woke up to on that dock, the more I begin to wonder if Lucian played a part in my memory loss. Something just doesn’t ring true that my injury was caused by a simple slip of the foot, causing me to fall back and hit my head hard enough to induce amnesia. Sure, you see that happen in movies, but not so much in real life. At most, I should only have a bad headache. No, something is wrong with his story, and I’m not sure how to ascertain the truth.
I fear something else was done to me, and, considering the fact that Lucian was the only other person present during my incapacitation, I have to wonder if he caused my injury somehow, and simply views my memory loss as a way to control me. If that’s his game, he needs to come up with a better one.
I don’t feel as though I’ve only lost my memory. I also feel like I’ve lost a part of my soul that I desperately need back. Involuntarily, I lift my right hand to cover my heart, feeling its steady beats. There’s an emptiness there that’s unnatural, like I’m missing a part of myself. I just wish I knew how to fill the void.
Absently, I begin to play with the chain of the necklace around my neck. I look down as I grab the pendent, and notice for the first time that it’s actually a locket. Carefully, I remove the necklace so I can take a closer look at it. The locket is oval and made with wrapped silver and gold wire. The center of it is composed of mother-of-pearl beads arranged in the shape of three, five-petal flowers with gold beads at their centers. There’s a small pin on the side, which slides through loops of the wire to keep the two halves of the locket closed. When I turn the locket over to look at the metal backing, I see an engraved inscription:
Cast your cares on the Lord
And He will sustain you
He will never let the righteous fall.
I flip the locket back over and remove the pin to see if there are any pictures inside.
On the right side is a picture of a girl and on the left is a picture of a boy.
Involuntarily, I feel the warmth of tears burn my eyes as I look at these children. Who are they to me? Are they mine? Two names pop inside my mind: Brynlee and Max. Without a doubt, I know those are the names of these children, and that voice deep down inside that keeps warning me about Lucian is crying with joy over my new discovery. I know then that these are, in fact, my babies. I may not know much, but, of that, I have no doubt.
But…where are they? Are they safe? Why didn’t Lucian take me back to them or even tell me of their existence?
It’s just another reason not to completely trust him. A normal person would have immediately returned me to my family so they could take care of me. Why didn’t he even mention them? If I have two children, does that mean I have a husband, too? If I do, where is he? Why wasn’t he with me on the docks? Is he searching for me, desperately trying to find out where I am? My inner voice is telling me that my questions are pushing me closer to the truth.
To be honest, I’m not even sure where I am right now. Lucian phased me into this room a few minutes ago and told me to wait for his return. He said it was mine, but I don’t see any evidence in the room that indicates it belongs to me. There are no pictures or personal items anywhere. The emptiness of the room indicates to me that no one, much less me, has lived in it for quite some time.
There’s a single knock on the bedroom door. I whirl around just in time to watch Lucian poke his head in and ask, “Is it all right if I come back in, Jessica?”
“Sure,” I say automatically, not wanting to arouse his suspicion as I tuck the hand still holding the locket inside the side pocket of my jacket.
Lucian walks in, holding a clothes hanger with a little black dress hanging from it.
“I thought you might like to change for the party.” Lucian walks over to the four-poster bed in the room, and lays the dress in his hand on its white coverlet.
“Party?” I ask, confused. “Why would you have a party on a night like this? When we left the docks, the blood rain had just begun. What is there to celebrate?”
With what looks like a practiced smile on his handsome face, Lucian replies, “In the darkest of times, it’s always better to think about the positives in life than the negatives, Jessica.”
“What on earth can be good about blood falling from of the sky?” I ask somewhat sarcastically, finding his statement ridiculous. “Not to mention the meteorites that were demolishing the buildings around us.”
“When life gives you lemons, you should always try to make lemonade,” he tells me, sounding far happier than anyone should, considering the state of things. “Now, why don’t you stop asking so many questions, and be a good little girl by putting this dress on so you can join our little soiree?”
“I’d rather stay in what I’m wearing,” I tell him stubbornly, crossing my arms over my chest for added defiance. His condescending ‘good little girl’ remark certainly didn’t earn him any brownie points with me.
“Suit yourself,” Lucian replies, eyeing my choice of clothing almost warily. “Since you don’t need time to freshen up, would you like to join me and the others downstairs now?”
I hesitate, because I’m not positive willingly walking into a room full of Lucian’s friends is a wise decision to make. Though, if he had wanted to kill me, he could have already done so by now. If I’m ever going to find a way back to my family, I need to figure out exactly what’s going on. Maybe along the way, I can also scout out an exit strategy in case I need it. I have a feeling this somewhat-friendly attitude of Lucian’s might be short-lived once he figures out I don’t completely trust him anymore.
“I would like that,” I say, walking over to Lucian and accepting his arm as he escorts me from the room. “What is the party for? Are you celebrating something in particular?”
“Oh, yes,” Lucian says with a genuine smile this time. “We’re celebrating many things, but this party is to welcome a new member into my…inner circle of trusted advisors, as it were.”
“And who is this new member?”
“His name is Malcolm Xavier Devereaux,” Lucian tells me, watching my face closely while we walk down the hallway. “Does that name happen to ring a bell?”
I automatically shake my head. “No. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of him. Is he someone I should know?”
“He is only an acquaintance of yours,” Lucian reassures me. “No one of consequence in your life, really. I just said the name on the off chance it might tease something out of your memory.” As if to console me, Lucian gently taps the hand I have looped through his arm with his free hand. It’s the first time I notice I’m wearing a silver and ruby ring on that hand. “Don’t worry, Jessica. We’ll figure out a way to help you remember everything when the time is right. Trust me.”
I simply grin politely and refrain from making a reply. I feel sure that, if I actually say something, I will give away my true thoughts. There isn’t a single doubt in my mind now that Lucian is using me in a game I know nothing about. I feel like a pawn being bandied around a chessboard, in an attempt to draw out the opponent’s king. And maybe that’s exactly what I am: someone Lucian is using to get exactly what he wants.
As we walk down the curved glass and steel staircase, I hear a multitude of voices chattering amongst themselves on the floor below us. When we walk around the turn of the stairs, I notice that the other three walls on this floor are made of glass. Seeing the city from this vantage point stops me in my tracks. Fires blaze freely from damaged buildings. Plumes of smoke seem to be suffocating the sky. A blood-red moon hovers over the city, making me wonder if that’s where the rain I saw actually came from. I look around at the partygoers, and notice none of them seem very concerned about what’s happening to the world outside their sanctum. Only one of them is actually paying attention to the chaos surrounding us.
A woman, dressed in a long, red-silk, one-shoulder dress stands in front of the glass wall directly across from me. She alone is surveying the damaged city.
“Ravan!” Lucian calls out, drawing the attention of everyone but his intended target. “Ravan!” he calls out again, more stridently and with a hard edge to his voice.
The woman in red slowly turns away from the scene of carnage outside to face Lucian. When she looks from him to me, a slow, haunting smile stretches her ruby-red lips. I feel my heart begin to race as she leisurely makes her way through the crowd to us. The gentle sway of her hips causes an audible rustle of silk, and she seems to have an unseen wind flowing around her, lifting her long auburn tresses slightly off her shoulders. She’s beautiful. No doubt her smile is meant to be disarming, but that voice deep down inside me warns that her appearance is simply a façade meant to conceal her true intentions.
“Ravan,” Lucian says as she comes to stand in front of us, “you remember my good friend, Jessica, don’t you?”
Ravan looks at Lucian a bit quizzically before nodding her head and saying, “Yes, of course I remember her.”
“I’m afraid she tripped and fell after you left us on the docks earlier. She hit her head so hard she can’t seem to remember anything about herself.”
“Amnesia?” Ravan asks in disbelief.
“Well,” Ravan says looking at me in surprise, “that’s certainly an unexpected outcome.”
“Anyway, how was your trip?” Lucian says, quickly changing the subject. “Anything of note to report?”
Reluctantly, Ravan pulls her gaze away from me to look at Lucian before answering, “It was productive, as you well know.”
“So you weren’t met with any…
Ravan shakes her head. “None that made a difference in the short time I was there.”
I notice a small laceration on Ravan’s left shoulder.
“You’re bleeding,” I tell her, looking pointedly at the cut.
Ravan briefly glances at the wound and shrugs her shoulders, “It’s nothing. Just a scratch from an irate War Angel.”
“I thought they might try to stop you,” Lucian says knowingly.
“I was there and gone before they had a chance to do anything else,” Ravan states. “I’m sure they were frustrated that they couldn’t follow me down here and finish the job.”
“Are you an angel like Lucian?” I ask Ravan.
Ravan lets out a small laugh, like I just made a joke. “No. I’m not an angel.”
“Are there a lot of angels on Earth?” I ask them. “And how many different types are there? I can’t say I’ve ever heard of War Angels.”
“They’re of no consequence to us,” Lucian tells me. “You don’t have to worry about them.”
“So, why were these War Angels trying to kill you?” I ask Ravan.
“They’re notoriously hot-tempered,” she says off-handedly, with another shrug. “Who knows what goes on in those teeny tiny brains of theirs? I certainly don’t. Besides, Lucian is right. You don’t have to worry about them.”
A beautiful black woman appears out of nowhere, to stand in the middle of the room. I can only assume she’s an angel like Lucian, since she phased into the room. She’s wearing a short, black, sequined cocktail dress and extremely high heels. The music playing in the background of the party comes to an abrupt stop, and everyone turns to face her as she begins to speak.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the woman says to those present as she scans the crowd, “for those of you who may not know me, my name is Noel Cross. It is with great pleasure that I announce the arrival of your guest of honor, former Chancellor of the Northeast sector and now, newest addition to Lucian’s trusted inner circle, Malcolm Xavier Devereaux!”
A man phases in beside the woman, and everyone begins to clap and whistle.
The man is extremely handsome, and, from the way he’s looking at the people around him, he knows it, which is an immediate turn off to me. Sure, physically he’s perfection, but who wants to be around a man who thinks he’s God’s gift to women? I feel sure he doesn’t have any trouble finding female companionship. Most women would probably jump at the chance to bed him, but I would definitely want more than just a pretty face in my bed.
At least I know that much about myself. Apparently, I’m not into superficiality.