Visions of the Witch - [Whispers 04], page 1
Visions of the Witch
Book Four of the Whispers Series
Tara West and Heather Marie Adkins
Visions of the Witch
Copyright © 2012 by Tara West/Heather Marie Adkins
Published by Shifting Sands Publishing
In conjunction with CyberWitch Press, LLC
First Kindle edition, published January 2013
All rights reserved.
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Edited by Theo Fenraven
Cover Art by Tamra Westberry
This ebook formatted by CyberWitch Press, LLC
Above me, stars glinted in the black sky like a thousand eyes. There was no moon to light my path through the field, no pale glow to give me the strength and courage to continue, but continue I did.
My very life depended on it.
The stalks were taller than I was, and the ground soft enough to mask the sound of my leather shoes on the ground. I shoved through the corn, not caring whether I tore off leaves or cobs in my haste to find shelter. My long skirts twisted around my legs, hindering my forward movement enough to frighten me. If I fell...
The running footsteps behind me might catch up.
I veered to the right, wondering if the field would ever end. I had done nothing but run for weeks, and I was so weary of the chase. How long would I have to hide for fear of condemnation? How far must I travel before finding peace?
I gasped for breath, the air burning my lungs. I could not run much longer. For the first time, I realized I may have reached the end of my days.
I burst through the edge of the field. The sudden openness gave me pause, and I nearly fell before stumbling to a halt. I whirled around and waited to see if I could hear my pursuer crashing through the maize. The distant howl of coyotes was lonely in the night, accompanied only by the sound of my heavy breathing and the beat of my heart resonating in my ears.
Not a sound from the cornfield.
I backed away, my eyes trained on the benign stalks as they waved in a slight breeze. I was afraid to turn my back for fear he was watching me from inside, waiting for me to be at my most vulnerable.
Taking a deep breath, I sent a quick prayer to the spirits of my ancestors, and then turned away, poised to run for the nearest homestead and beg sanctuary.
I did not even manage a single step before strong hands encircled my throat.
Where were they?
As I paced my driveway, I tried to ignore the nervous tension in my gut. But the loud grumbling coming from my midsection was hard to ignore. It felt as if someone was playing jump-rope with my intestines. Thankfully, I’d ignored my mom’s advice and hadn’t touched my breakfast. I ordinarily ate a huge bowl of cereal each morning.
But this wasn’t a typical morning.
This was my first day of high school.
Even though, technically, I’d been a high schooler last year, stuck in that awful junior high. Now I was starting my new school as a sophomore. And thanks to stories from Mike, my best friend’s brother, I was just about ready to crap my pants in fear.
Apparently, the upper classmen already had several names picked out for the sophomore class—squashmores, maggots, babies, newbies, virgins….
That last nickname was what got me, mostly because it would forever be true. I’d done a lot of thinking over the summer, and I’d come to realize I’d probably never have another boyfriend. Even though I’d been with Frankie for a short while my freshman year, we hadn’t done much more than kiss, and even that had been awkward.
Because my powers were strengthening.
And it was hard to get serious with a guy when I could read his mind.
Like when right before he was about to kiss me, he was secretly grossed out by my new mini volcano, AKA ginormous pimple, that had sprouted on my chin overnight. Naturally, no amount of pimple cream or expensive cosmetics was able to conceal the zit’s evil plan to destroy my social life.
So how could I get serious with a guy when he was thinking Ewwww just as he’s about to kiss me?
I couldn’t. Because if it wasn’t a zit, then it was the extra fat on my thighs, or the way I sometimes slouched, or my smaller-than-average breasts. Or maybe one day I would catch him checking out another girl and pop into his mind while he was thinking nasty things about her.
No, I couldn’t have another boyfriend. And even though I was getting better at controlling my powers and staying out of other people’s minds, I really couldn’t help it.
But oh well. That had been my mantra all summer.
I guess if I couldn’t change my fate, I’d better learn to accept it. That’s what I kept telling myself, anyway.
I shrugged before trying to shake some of the nervous energy out of my hands. Did I really want to go through with this? Did I really want to know what two thousand teenagers were thinking about me today?
I’d have a hard enough time trying to figure out how to open my new locker and learn my class schedule.
I gasped, startled by the screeching sound of tires burning rubber across pavement. I turned to see Mike’s truck barreling my way.
I jumped onto the porch steps moments before the truck would have mowed me down. As I stared slack-jawed at the rattling, heaving pile of metal, my best friend AJ rolled down the passenger window.
She tossed her blonde ponytail over her shoulder before narrowing her blue eyes in her classic ‘I’m having a bad day’ look. “Hurry up, Sophie! We’re late!”
I had no idea how I was able to propel my legs forward, but I somehow managed to throw my book bag in the backseat and get most of my body inside before Mike threw the truck into gear and tore out of the driveway.
I guess surviving my first day wasn’t going to be an issue, since it looked like Mike would kill me before I even made it to school.
“Why aren’t you eating?”
I arched a brow at my BFF as she slouched over her salad and absently picked out pieces of shredded cabbage. Lunch was almost over and she hadn’t taken a bite.
Sophie turned her big green eyes to me and cringed while placing a hand on her midsection. I could barely hear her over the steady drone of students in the cafeteria when she said, “Because my stomach hurts.”
“Why does your stomach hurt?”
She shrugged and flashed a half-hearted grin. “I’m nervous.”
I could never understand Sophie. She had the world at her fingertips. I mean, with the power to know what everyone around her was thinking, she could rule the school. Instead, she seemed to be withdrawing from the world, even me. I’d thought she was improving last year, but now she was getting worse. After her boyfriend moved away, she started changing.
And it wasn’t like she was lacking potential new boyfriends. Lots of guys wanted to go out with her. She was funny, smart, tall and slim with high cheekbones and large green eyes framed by the thickest lashes ever. Actually, her lashes were so thick, I secretly envied them. Although, if I didn’t pick at mine all the time, I’d probably have thick lashes, too. But my obsessive habits were another story.
What worried me now was Sophie. She used to love going
Was her total transformation really over a guy? I mean, my boyfriend and I decided to split this summer. Actually, he dumped me because he said he was tired of competing with my softball habit for attention. Whatever that meant. But Bob and I were still sort of friends, and it wasn’t like I was going to let a guy ruin my life, anyway.
I let out a slow breath as I struggled for the right words to say. I was no good at this stuff. I only wished our other BFF, Krysta, was there to help. “There’s no reason to be nervous. If anyone gives you any shit, just give them ‘the look.’”
Sophie rolled her eyes. “Sadly, I don’t have ‘the look’ perfected like you do. I’d probably just get my ass kicked.”
All I had to do was flash my signature glare and kids knew not to mess with me. Though I couldn’t read minds, I could read the fear in their eyes. Everyone at our old school knew me as the tough jock. And at the high school, the upperclassmen were already whispering I was Mike’s badass little sister.
“Tell me who’s giving you trouble,” I said, “and I’ll kick their asses.” I popped another salty, warm french fry into my mouth. I was already starting to like Greenwood High School, mostly because their cafeteria food tasted more like food and less like processed food substitutes.
“Nobody is giving me trouble.” Sophie shifted her gaze, quickly scanning the cafeteria before tucking a loose strand of auburn hair behind her ear. “I just need time to adjust to all these people and their crazy freaking thoughts.”
I shook my head, snickering. “You really need to work on tuning people out.”
“I know,” Sophie sighed. “It sucks that Krysta isn’t with us.”
“What lunch did she get?” I asked before crunching into a fry.
“School’s almost over by then. She’s going to be hungry.”
Sophie’s eyes widened. “And alone.”
“Yeah.” I swallowed my last fry. I hated thinking about Krysta alone for lunch. Sure, she had other friends at Greenwood, but not others like us.
Sophie wasn’t the only one who was gifted with powers. My dreams weren’t really dreams. My mom said they were premonitions. Basically, my dreams predicted the future.
Krysta, Sophie, and I met in elementary school, back when Krysta had first started talking to ghosts. I think our gifts brought us together. We just sensed that we were each special, and we’d vowed to keep our gifts secret. That was, until my mom and grandma exposed their powers to us. Although neither of them had ever explained much about my family origins, it turned out I came from a long line of ‘gifted’ women. My mom, grandma and step-dad, plus Krysta’s dad, were the only adults who knew about my friends’ and my powers.
With each passing day, it felt like our powers were growing. I think my mom and grandma were expecting me to change because lately they’d been looking at me differently. It kinda weirded me out. I mean, if I was going to start shooting laser beams out of my eyes, I would have appreciated a warning.
Somehow, I suspected the way they were watching me had something to do with the crazy dreams I’d been having lately about a woman running through a cornfield. I had no idea who she was or who was chasing her, because every time she’d make it to the edge of the field, someone would grab her.
I was trying not to panic, but I’d been waking up from the same exact dream for the past three days. My dreams usually had a way of sorting themselves out and revealing more to me over time. I just hoped that whoever was being chased wasn’t me or one of my friends. I also hoped she would make it out alive.
“Earth to AJ!”
I looked up to see Sophie waving her arms at me.
I grimaced. “You been listening?” I asked, though I knew Sophie had been good about asking permission before she invaded my mind.
“Duh, AJ, you know I won’t go into your head without an invite, but it’s kinda hard to talk to you when you’re busy daydreaming.”
“Sorry. I’ve been having this bad dream.”
“Oh, crap. Your brother is going to kill us, isn’t he?”
I shook my head before narrowing my eyes at Sophie. “What are you talking about?”
“What am I talking about?” The pitch in Sophie’s voice rose several octaves. “Your brother is a freaking maniac. He almost got in like ten crashes on the way here.”
I covered my mouth to hide my smile. I couldn’t help it. Sophie looked so funny when she got all dramatic. “You’re exaggerating.”
Sophie clenched her empty soda can until her knuckles whitened. If she hadn’t been a wuss, she would have crushed it.
“No, I’m not,” she said. “He’s a terrible driver. I’m going to start taking the bus.”
I jerked my head back. “Only losers ride the bus. My brother is captain of the football team. Do you know how cool you look getting out of his truck every morning?” Last year, I’d put so much effort into helping Sophie look cool. I wasn’t about to let her blow it.
She threw up her hands while rolling her eyes. “Let’s see, would I rather look like a loser or die a horrific and splattering death?”
It took me a few moments to control my laugher. By the time I’d finished, my eyes were watering with tears. “Omigod! We are so not going to get killed.” Then I leaned closer to her and whispered, “I would have dreamed it.”
“So we don’t die in your bad dream? Okay, so maybe we’ll end up with a few broken legs.”
The animated look in her wide eyes was almost comical. Almost.
“Sophie, would you listen to me?” I hissed while tapping my forehead. This was our universal signal to Sophie when Krysta or I wanted her to pop into our heads. Normally, our brains were off limits. And there was no way she could ever fool me and read my brain without me knowing. I knew the telltale signs when Sophie was mind-reading, like the way she chewed on her lower lip or how she ever so slightly squinted her eyes.
Sophie was looking at me that way now, so I passed her a mental message.
If Mike is going to crash, I will see it coming. I am not letting you ride the bus.
Sophie arched back and shook her head. “AJ, he was texting and checking his Facebook page. He swerved into the other lane more than once, and he almost rear-ended someone.”
I arched a brow and leveled her with a challenging glare. So you don’t trust my dreams? Are you the only gifted one?
“I didn’t say that. I just…” Sophie’s voice trailed off before she angled her head and leaned back, looking ready to fall off the cafeteria bench. She gasped and then her eyes widened to saucers.
I grabbed onto the table and leaned forward, a nervous jolt shooting up my spine. I’d never seen her look so frightened. “What? What is it?”
She slowly turned her head until her gaze was level with mine. “That guy over there.” She nodded behind her.
My gaze traveled toward the kid with brooding eyes and dark, messy hair sitting with a bunch of drama freaks in the corner.
“His thoughts,” Sophie hissed through frozen features. “They just jumped into my head. He was…omigod!” Sophie jumped in her seat and covered her mouth with her hands.
“What? What’s he thinking?”
Sophie’s jaw dropped, and it took her a long while to find her voice. “ ‘Stay out of my head.’ ” Her eyes widened as her hands visibly shook on the table. “Do you think he knows?” she hissed.
Jerking my head back, I cast a quick glance in his direction. He was looking straight at us! Did he know Sophie was a mind reader? If so, how?
“Hey, girlies, what’s up?” I was ready to bubble over with excitement when I finally got to see my two BFFs sitting in the back of history class. This high school was too big, and I hadn’t seen them all day.
But when I looked into Sophie’s pouty face and then back to AJ’s twisted scowl, I knew I’d just stepped into
“Uh, oh.” Planting my hands on my hips, I eyed both of them. “What happened?”
Sophie slouched in her seat. “I don’t want to talk about it here.”
“Can we text it?” I groaned. After a stressful first day of school, I was about to come undone, and now this.
“No.” Sophie’s pout turned into a frown as she sunk even lower. “I don’t want this in a text.”
I quickly scanned the room before sliding into the vacant seat across from Sophie and AJ. “Nobody is even paying attention to us.”
AJ leaned forward and thumbed at Sophie. “We’re having trust issues.”
“Trust?” Sophie turned around and glared at AJ. “This has nothing to do with trust.”
AJ rolled her eyes. “I will see it before it happens.”
Sophie shook her head. “We still need to tell your mom.”
I could see the tension bubbling beneath the surface of AJ’s skin. AJ clenched the binder on her desk until her knuckles whitened.
“She’ll freak,” AJ hissed. “She’ll take away my brother’s driver’s license, and my life will suck.”
Sophie squared her shoulders. “This isn’t just about you, AJ. What if he kills someone?”
I watched the exchange with a mixture of fascination and frustration. Obviously something big had happened. I suspected Sophie had read someone’s mind and was harboring a major secret. Whatever the juicy details were, I really wanted to know. “Can someone clue me in?”
Sophie quickly scanned the room before leaning toward me. “AJ’s brother is a reckless driver. We need to tell.”
AJ narrowed her eyes and arched forward, coming within a few inches of Sophie’s face. “If I see something bad will happen, I’ll tell her. I swear.”
Sophie rolled her eyes. “By then it may be too late, AJ.”
AJ turned ten shades of red. Oh, so not good. AJ was known for having a short fuse, and I didn’t want to see my BFF making a scene here.