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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Excerpts and Giveaway The Guardians series by Wendy Owens


Description:

Tragedy has defined Gabe's short existence in this world. An ominous darkness lurked on the edge of his existence until one day in a subway, strange things start happening. A series of events lead Gabe into a new and fascinating life filled with angels and demons, but he isn't sure if he wants to be a part of it.

Gabe is thrust into the middle of this exciting world that is full of things he has longed for in his life but it comes with a price. This new life also promises constant terrifying dangers that Gabe fears he may not be able to survive.

Some people are born into love, some people are born into war, when Gabe discovered he was a Guardian Angel, his life was suddenly thrust into both. If this hidden war wasn't enough to deal with, Gabe learns he is fated to be the great protector who will one day deliver the last prophet to either safety or death. All of these revelations didn't matter for Gabe, he only cared that his new life included Sophie. 

Sophie and Gabe grew closer over the summer. She is now a fixture in his life that keeps him moving forward. Evil doesn't stop stalking him just because he found happiness. This time darkness finds it's way into Rampart manor and Gabe will have to decide if he is willing to risk everything to try and stop it.

Five years have passed since Gabe abandoned Rampart, deserting his destiny and closest friends. The struggles Gabe has endured to stay alive have changed him, hardening him into a man unwilling to trust anyone or anything, dealing with difficulties connecting with the outside world.
Gabe has finally found a certain paradise--a peace in solitude--until a familiar stranger shows up on his doorstep, pleading for Gabe's help.

Now he has to decide if he is truly content in his new life, or if he is willing to risk his solitary happiness for a little piece of the world he left behind.

Should he choose to accept the most important duty of his life, one failure could mark the beginning of the end for all mankind.

Gabe's world was forever altered by the people he came to know and love at Rampart Manor. Although, it wasn't only his life that was changed when he made the choice to leave them all behind.

During his five year absence, they each had a battle with personal demons. Dina is faced with a moral dilemma, the path of good leading to certain heartbreak, or evil, and a possibility of happiness.

Uri meets a mysterious woman who seems to have a lot of the answers that he has been searching for, and she certainly has a place in his heart, if he can only hold onto her.

Sophie is faced with choices she never knew would be so difficult. The question now is: will the personal demons of the remaining Guardians of Rampart be too much for them to overcome?


Expected Publication:
September 27th, 2013

The entire series has been leading up to this book. We have seen Gabe and his friends become adults, struggle with the dangers that go along with being a Guardian, and now we get to find out what finally happens. Will Gabe embrace his destiny and fulfill the prophecy, even if it could cost him his life? Or will he leave mankind to fight their own battles and seek out another chance at happiness?


EXCERPT:



Excerpts from all books:

Feeling confident the danger had passed, Gabe climbed up onto the seat. He pulled the handle, pushing the heavy door open with his feet. On the ground in front of him, he saw Uri on his knees clutching an unconscious Sophie. Nearby, there was a small mountain of ash.

“Is she ...” Gabe paused, unsure what to even ask. None of what had just happened made any sense.

“Help me get her in the back,” Uri said with a strained voice, motioning to him.

Gabe quickly ran to Uri’s side and swung around to hold her feet. Uri climbed in first, pulling Sophie in behind him as Gabe guided the rest of her. Gabe thought about how he had admired her boot clad feet when he first saw her. He wished with everything in him that she would be all right.

“You come around this side and hold her head,” Uri beckoned.

Gabe made sure Sophie’s lower half was securely in the car, then closed the door as gently as he could. He rushed to the other side of the car to take Uri’s place. As he came around the back, he saw two more piles of ash where the creatures that were looking at him had been.

He hesitated for a moment as Uri stepped out of the way, allowing Gabe to slide into place, cradling Sophie’s head in his lap. Even lifeless, she was beautiful, Gabe thought. Her skin was so pale; it had a gorgeous alabaster quality to it. He wasn’t sure how she did it, but he knew she had saved him.

Uri jumped quickly behind the wheel and searched frantically for the keys. Gabe saw they were still dangling from the ignition. Leaning forward, he placed a hand on Uri’s shoulder. Uri looked back at him; Gabe could see the worry in his eyes. Gabe motioned toward the keys, slightly clearing his throat. Uri looked down and with a sigh started the car, pulling back out onto the deserted road. Minutes passed with Uri frantically checking over his shoulder.

“How is she?” he finally asked Gabe.

Gabe looked at Sophie’s body, lying there, unsure how to even answer that question.

“Seems to be the same,” he responded honestly. “I don’t understand. What happened to her?”

Uri stared at the road.

“There’s a lot you don’t understand right now, Gabe,” Uri answered, clearly not wanting to deal with a bunch of questions. “All you need to know is Soph used every ounce of power she had to save us.”

All of the questions Gabe had wanted answers to suddenly didn’t seem important. He leaned forward and noticed Uri had increased their speed to just over one hundred miles per hour, Gabe thought it prudent to say something.

“What if we get pulled over? Might be hard to explain what’s wrong with her.” Gabe had dealt with the cops enough in his life. He knew what it would be like trying to explain a half dead girl in the back seat.

“Right, right,” Uri responded without changing speed.

“Caecus,” Uri stated in a powerful voice.

“What?” Gabe asked.

“Oh,” Uri responded realizing Gabe had no idea what was happening. As they sped down the street, Uri searched for the words.

“Look, I know this is all must seem pretty messed up and I want to explain everything, really I do, but I think it’s better if you wait and talk to Michael.”

“Can you at least tell me what you just said? I heard Sophie say something back at the roadside I didn’t understand either,” Gabe pleaded.

“At the manor we learn a lot of things, one of the things they teach us ... some might call ... spells.”

“Like magic?” Gabe asked, trying not to laugh. The more he thought about it the less funny it seemed. After everything he had seen, did it really seem so impossible that magic existed?

“I suppose, but it’s the source behind our magic that makes it work. It’s a divine power,” Uri explained, increasing his speed even more. “I promise, if you have any questions after talking to Michael, I will answer them for you. He’s the best one to explain all of this. I put an incantation on the car so it’s invisible.”

“Yeah, right, we’re invisible,” Gabe said in disbelief, but then suddenly remembered back to the subway and how the officers seemed to not even notice them. “Wait, like you did in the city, with all those police officers?”

Uri glanced back at Gabe, his worry giving way for a moment to an impressed stare. “Exactly, I used a distraction spell on them allowing us to sneak by cloaked.”

“So that scream wasn’t real?” Gabe asked. Uri nodded his head affirmatively.

Gabe’s head felt like it was spinning. Monsters. Magic. He had always worried about the evils he had known in the world. Now it appeared there were unknowns that he always thought were make believe to worry about, too.

He leaned back and looked at Sophie’s face, as he did, his thoughts seemed to calm. He began to stroke her auburn hair, admiring how soft it was. Captivated by Sophie, he didn’t realize his hands had begun to burn. He heard Uri’s muffled voice and as he looked up at him, he felt an overwhelming feeling of nausea and realized everything had become blurry.

Uri was turned, looking at him, shouting something, but at that point, Gabe couldn’t hear him. A moment later, Gabe felt like the car was spinning uncontrollably. The nausea overcame him and he seriously thought he might be sick. He looked down at Sophie to make sure she was still all right. His hands were holding her head gently, but they no longer seemed like his hands. There was a glowing, blue light coming from his palms. He began to hyperventilate. Everything went black.


Gabe’s stomach twisted, each knot tighter and more agonizing than the last. He wiped his sweat-soaked hands on the legs of his jeans and searched the nearby crowd for a familiar face. He imagined that if he could just catch a glimpse of Sophie, everything would be all right. Unfortunately, Sophie was nowhere to be found. Gabe felt hopeless.

The roar of the crowd began to grow. He heard them harmoniously stomping their feet in a rhythm that cried out for battle. Gabe glanced across the arena to several cages that were shielded by large cloaks. Whatever was inside was clearly becoming agitated by the noise of the crowd. The captive creatures began beating against the bars. Random secret shrieks and growls came from their general area.

“Rampart Manor!” Gabe heard Uri’s magically amplified voice shout over the thunderous group. “Let’s be honest, we all know the reason why we’re gathered here today. Yes, yes, of course we want to support our dear friend, Gabe. But, let’s get real for a minute. Day in and day out we learn and train and grow as Guardians. We do as we’re told and follow the rules. We all work hard. Now it’s our turn to watch some demons tremble in fear! It’s our turn to watch the hunters become the hunted. Who’s ready to see some fighting? Better yet, who wants to see what our great protector is made of?”

The crowd erupted into a frenzy at Uri’s words.

The past summer had been full of blood, sweat, and tears for Gabe, but it was also an experience he wouldn’t trade for anything. He had grown close to Sophie and all of his new friends. Uri had even become what Gabe would call his best friend; something he hadn’t had in his previous life. As appreciative as he had grown of Uri’s humor, right now, in this arena, was one of those moments he wished Uri was able to contain himself.

Gabe had felt somewhat confident about his tests when he awoke that morning. He had spent every free moment studying and practicing for this all summer,though it didn’t take long before he realized what Uri had done. After the tenth or so person wished him luck and expressed how much they were looking forward to seeing him in action, he knew Uri had decided to make this day into a big event for the entire manor, even though Gabe wasn’t comfortable being a spectacle.

Gabe’s confidence quickly disintegrated into rage, conjuring visions in his head of strangling his dear friend Uri for inviting a crowd to watch his tests. It was hard enough for him to concentrate alone in complete silence knowing what was at stake. He wasn’t sure how he would be able to do anything with a hundred of his future classmates looking on. Gabe knew that failing today wouldn’t only let down everyone who helped him, but could also have his mentor, Michael, questioning if he had made a mistake in choosing Gabe.

“Get over here, Gabe,” Uri motioned to his friend to join him in the circle. He reluctantly walked to his side. Uri grabbed his hand and raised it high into the air in a triumphant motion. “Are you ready to kick some demon tail, my friend?”

Gabe glanced over his shoulder at the rattling cages and could only feign a smile for a short moment. As he looked back to the crowd, he saw Michael standing off to the side with an expressionless face, his arms crossed, watching intensely as the scene unfolded. For a moment, he thought Michael may step in and stop the side show antics. When Michael just continued to watch, Gabe knew he was on his own.

“So everyone knows the rules …” Uri shouted. “Oh yeah, that’s right, there are no rules! Gabe can showcase anything and everything he has learned to stay alive!”

“I think you’re exaggerating a bit, don’t you?” Gabe mumbled under his breath to Uri. He was sure Michael wouldn’t let him die in these tests. At least, he thought he was sure. Gabe quickly looked at Michael again for some reassurance. He still displayed no change in expression or stance.

“Don’t worry,” Uri continued. “We’ll all be safe. There’s a protection spell on the arena so the demons won’t be able to escape. Just you and them!” Uri patted Gabe on the back heavily. Then he turned and scurried out of the arena. Uri’s words made Gabe even more anxious as he stumbled forward.

Gabe turned slowly, his hands feeling like two large boulders hanging from his sides. He watched in horror as Uri and two other men pulled the draping from the three cages.



“This is so much bigger than you or me. Do you know how many have died for the cause?”

“Uri!” Gabe yelled. “Don’t you get it? You don’t know you’re going to die. You risk your life knowing it’s a possibility, but you don’t know you will be killed as a certainty. The prophecy tells me I will die. I help, and I’m giving my life.”

“That’s just it; I’m not asking you to do that,” Uri added.

Gabe shook his head, looking at Uri with a puzzled stare. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m not asking you to protect the prophet. I’m not asking you to even stay involved. I just need to leave Rachel with you until I figure all this out and find a place to hide her. The prophet hasn’t been born. Hell, she isn’t even pregnant; there is no risk to you based on the prophecy,” Uri explained his reasoning.

“Except for the army of demons hunting her!” Gabe exclaimed.

“Alright, I admit, what I’m asking is not without risk. I wouldn’t ask you if I weren’t out of options,” Uri explained.

“You found me, how safe can it really be for her here?” Gabe asked, doubting Uri’s reasoning.

“The only way I found you was the trinket Dina put on your bag when you left Rampart years ago. Had I not used that to track you, I don’t think I would have ever found you. What are the chances Baal or any of his followers will discover you? Think about it, it truly is the perfect hiding place,” Uri urged.

Gabe sighed, “I know, it took me years of running before I found it; I’m not exactly looking to give it up.”

“I wouldn’t come to you if I had any other option.”

“I don’t know …” Gabe said. A moment later, the front door creaked open. Rachel stood there, clothes damp, simply staring.

“Rachel!” Uri gasped. “Are you all right?”

“I slipped,” Rachel replied flatly. The men looked to each other, each one unsure what to do.

Suddenly, Rachel burst out in a full and jovial laughter. The men soon followed in a similar fashion, all amused by the humor of the situation.

“Come over here and get warm,” Uri said, while motioning to the nearby stove that was still warming a pot of water.

As she did, Uri looked over his shoulder to Gabe who simply nodded. With that unspoken agreement, Gabe would participate in the fight just a little longer. He would watch over Rachel at his home until Uri could return and retrieve her. Uri didn’t utter a response; instead, he walked up and patted his friend firmly on the back in gratitude.

Gabe could feel the joy in Uri’s presence. He hoped his friend didn’t misunderstand his level of commitment. He would make sure it was clear before Uri left. He was willing to watch over Rachel for a short time, just long enough for Uri to find a place safe enough for her. After that, he was out. For good.

“Are you telling me that Michael wanted to lie to the council? He’s like— Mr. Perfect.”

“I know, but it’s true. Mirada resisted, she didn’t think he should allow the council to dictate their lives. I think it’s why he is such a hard-ass about choices and the Guardians not removing the ability of choice from a person. They fought about it for a while, but she saw she was not going to change his mind and at last relented to his suggestion.”

“Did they believe him?”

“At first. Over the years though, there have been sightings and rumors that Mirada lives. Michael does the best he can to feed Mirada information so she can stay two steps ahead of the council, often sending me as the messenger. I think they might know where she is now; he wouldn’t say, but I think they’re using her to threaten him into obedience.”

“But— the council wouldn’t do that.”

“Dina, are you that ignorant?”

“Excuse me?” Dina growled, her posture shifting into one of a wild animal, ready to pounce at any moment.

Raising his hands defensively, Uri quickly attempted to correct his careless statement. “All I meant is that the council isn’t all knowing. They make mistakes. They mean well, but sometimes in their zealous attempt to protect the way of the guardians, they seem to violate everything we stand for.”

“There has to be some sort of mistake. Michael has to be coming back,” Dina moaned, slumping into a defeated position.

“I don’t think he is, at least not if the council has their way.”

“This is going to destroy Gabe,” Dina said.

“Damn it, I forgot about Gabe. I have to figure out a way to get him to let me explain. If he would just listen, I could tell him it wasn’t what it looked like.”

“You need to give him some space, Uri. Let me think on it, alright? I’m sure I can come up with something.”

Uri leapt forward in excitement, a grin beaming from ear to ear. After planting a kiss firmly on Dina’s forehead, Uri exclaimed, “Thanks, I knew you would figure this out. You’re the best!”

And in the next moment, in a split second, as soon as the words left his lips, he was gone, leaving Dina standing there and wondering how she got herself into the middle of this mess.


Releasing one last big breath, pushing all the air from his lungs, Michael emerged into the room. He opened his eyes, wide, and prepared to greet his brethren. The room shrank inward, all around him, as his eyes took in a sight he had not expected. He had accepted the idea this was a trick, that perhaps he had offended the council one too many times with his unorthodox methods. He had accepted they might, in fact, be luring him there to imprison him for his insubordination. What he saw now though, was not what he had expected.

A half circle of handmade bamboo tables was sprawled out before him. At each table, a small stool perched behind it with an elder seated in it. None of them looked up at him, their heads lying on the table tops, the blood from their slit throats draining, and spilling onto the dirt floor. All of them, they were all dead.

Michael’s head began to spin. He fell to his knees, purging himself of all of his stomach contents. A tear ran down his cheek, as he wiped away a string of vomit with the back of his hand, from the corner of his mouth. “No,” he gasped, shaking his head, as if trying to make the reality before him disappear.

“I knew you’d come!” a voice called out behind him.

Michael staggered to his feet and turned to face his worst nightmare. Baal stood before him, a smirk on his face. He wore his signature grey, pinstripe, three-piece suit, and casually twisted his pinky ring on his long and slender well-manicured finger. As it rotated Michael caught a glimpse of the rubies in the skull’s eye sockets. His black hair was slicked back, the sight of his false appearance made Michael sick to his stomach.



A slight panic rushed over him as he thought, you need to get the hell out of here. But he knew transporting would be pointless. If he fled back to Iron Gate, Baal would most certainly pick up the tracer and follow him. He would bring the same fate of the council down on everyone he cared about. There was only one option. He would stand and fight, even if it meant perishing like the council.






About the author:
Wendy Owens was raised in the small college town of Oxford, Ohio. After attending Miami University, Wendy went on to a career in the visual arts. After several years of creating and selling her own artwork, she gave her first love, writing, a try.

Since 2011, she has published a young adult paranormal series, The Guardians, which will contain five books total, as well as a novella.

Wendy now happily spends her days writing—her loving dachshund, Piper, curled up at her feet. When she's not writing, she can be found spending time with her tech geek husband and their three amazing kids, exploring the city she loves to call home: Cincinnati, OH.


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