House of Darken Page 1

Author: Jaymin Eve

Series: Secret Keepers #1

Genres: Fantasy


“Are you okay, Emma?”

Turning from the window, I was more than happy to get out of my own head. The endless forests of the Pacific Northwest were keeping me somewhat entertained, but I couldn’t wait to finally arrive at our new home and escape this car. Let’s just say it had been a long trip from Roswell, New Mexico.

“Yeah, I’m good,” I said, my lips curving up. “Just over-thinking. You know me.” My smile was still a little shocking – to me and Sara both judging by her widened eyes. Until recently I rarely smiled.

As she reached back to give my hand a squeeze, I took a closer look at her and felt concern tinge my emotions. She was pale, eyes puffy, and her normally rich brown skin was washed out. Her dark corkscrew curls were a mess.

“Are you okay?” I asked, leaning forward in my seat as she let go of my hand.

She nodded, and I was relieved as her weary features relaxed. “Just ready to get out of this car. We’re close now. Only another twenty or so minutes.”

Leaning back, I wrapped my hands around my necklace, the only thing I still possessed from before the fire. It was an opal … maybe. No one actually knew what the oddly shaped and textured stone was, but it had faint opal coloring, so that was what I went with.

It had been my mom’s. She gave it to me on my seventeenth birthday; I still couldn’t believe that had almost been a year ago. I remembered the day so clearly, each moment as it flashed across my mind was sharp and biting. We’d gone to the beach and gotten ice cream. I’d picked out my first car later that afternoon.

A perfect day.

Next month I would turn eighteen. The first birthday without my parents. I was dreading it with every fiber of my being. Flames tore apart my world last New Year’s Eve – a time for new beginnings, but for me it was the end.

Eight months since the fire and I was still haunted … tormented. Summer was almost over and I was moving to a new town. Again. Sara and Michael, my guardians, were the only two of my parents’ friends who gave a damn about anything to do with me after the fire, and since I had no other family to speak of, I was grateful to them. They took in a grieving, broken mess of human and somehow provided me with what I needed to claw my way from the darkness.

Space, then support. Warmth and love followed.

I’m not sure I would have survived without them, which, frankly, scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want to rely on anybody anymore. Knowing they could be gone in an instant was terrifying, and there were plenty of days I was tempted to run from them, to escape their cheerful faces and happy world. But as those moments of panic passed, I remembered how lucky I was. I was not in the system. I was not alone.

Michael shifted forward, squinting through the front window, focused upwards for a minute. He was very Irish in coloring: pale skin, hazel eyes, and carrot orange hair. He only had to walk across the yard and he burned, unlike his wife who could sunbake for hours. I loved the diversity between him and Sara. Not to mention how epic their love was.

In a world of broken people and marriages, those two gave me hope.

“Hopefully we’ll beat this storm,” Michael finally said as he straightened. “I don’t like the thought of moving in during a downpour.” Dark, angry clouds were awash in the sky, which had been blue not ten minutes earlier. The turbulent masses swirled and dotted about, trying to eclipse the last light of the afternoon.

Storms never bothered me. I quite enjoyed the heavy crash of thunder, the spark of lightning, the soothing pitter-patter of rain as it washed across the land. It felt like the earth was cleansing, a new start.

Michael turned a worried look toward his wife. “Think we’ll make it in time?”

Sara began reassuring her storm-hating husband that we’d have plenty of time, and I had to hide my smile. We had a box and a suitcase each. Even if a hurricane sprang up it really wasn’t going to be a huge problem to move in. Except, of course, there was no chance any rental we could afford would be able to withstand a swift wind, let alone a serious storm.

I had already moved twice in the eight months I’d lived with the Finnegans, and both times our furnished rentals were one step up from slums. But hey, it was a roof over our heads. Growing up I’d lived solidly middle class, always thinking my parents had plenty of money. After they died, I learned there was only enough left to cover their bills. After losing your only family, though, being poor was sort of insignificant. When I was hungry, I put things into perspective and dealt with it like an adult.

“What’s in Astoria, Oregon, anyway?” I asked, dropping my necklace back beneath my tank and pushing my wavy hair behind my ears. Already the humidity from the storm had my hair going haywire. It was long, a mixture of curls and waves, in a rich auburn color. The red explained my temper; the curls were from parts unknown. My parents were both straight-haired brunettes.