Becca Simpson is a not so average teenager, and she knows it. In fact, she embraces it. She was chosen to be a Keeper, one who keeps the gates sealed between the magic world and the "normal" world. The only time she isn't safe from the dark creatures of the Other Side is the Dark Hour. Every night, at the same time, the gates between the two worlds open and Becca is left vulnerable until the gate closes and the minions disappear. But that's why she has Erik Manchester. As her Guardian, Erik is in charge of making sure no one, or no thing, comes after her to take her away. Because waiting for her on the Other Side is a tyrannical emperor, looking to use her status to meld the two worlds into one.
With Erik, Becca feels safe, but suffocated. There are rules she has to follow in order to keep out of the hands of the emperor. Then Kyne walks into her life and challenges everything she knows. Not only does he know things about the Other Side, but he's from there. And found a way to stay in the normal world without frying.
EVERYTHING WAS SET. THE windows were locked, and soon the doors would be as well. My best friend Linnea was preparing an extra ward on the front door to my apartment. Ideally, it would help keep away all the dark magical critters that wandered around during the Dark Hour. No guarantees, though, because she’s not my chosen Guardian, so her magic couldn’t protect me in all the ways it should. At least she was trying, which is more than I can say about the guy who was supposed to act as my Guardian. Key words supposed to be. He does his job, sure, but I think the only reason he ever shows up is because he knows he’ll be mauled by my parents if he doesn’t. Or what’s left of him, since I’m pretty sure Linnea would get to him first.
“Three minutes until the Dark Hour,” Kendall said from the couch. He sat with his younger brother, trying to keep the kid calm by reading a book. Since Max is young enough to not understand the concept of time, it worked for the most part. He seemed pretty engrossed with the pictures.
Much like me, I’m pretty sure Kendall’s skin was crawling. He’s a Keeper, as am I. Every night when the Dark Hour came, I felt like I wanted to scratch my flesh raw in anticipation. The disturbance in the dimensional field always made me uncomfortable. Gooseflesh prickled my arms and legs, uncontrollable shivers came next, and then there was the sensation of being watched by something dark and dangerous. I know Kendall felt it too because that was one of the many “perks” to being a Keeper. We know when there’s a shift between the real world and the magical one. It’s how we know when to do our job. Whatever that is — information we haven’t been told yet since we aren’t old enough to actually work.
The Dark Hour, unfortunately, comes every night. It’s the one time of the day when we Keepers are helpless to stop the magical minions from entering a world where they’re not supposed to exist. Something about the way the magic shifts temporarily on the Other Side makes it strong enough for the cross over to happen. Doubly unfortunate because, of course, only the naughty, scary kind of magical beings ever do. Things like crazy faeries, goblins, dark witches, and these nasty giant red worms.
“Two minutes,” Kendall whispered.
“I don’t need a countdown,” I mumbled and plopped down next to him on the couch. I turned on the television and searched for something among the five-hundred-some stations to watch. Hopefully, I’d be able to find something that could drown out the obnoxious constant hum of powerful magic and the negative energy that would soon be filling the apartment.
Linnea took in a deep breath. “Don’t worry Becca, I’ll do my best to protect you like you’re mine.”
“I know,” I said softly. “But I don’t want it to come down to that. If something were to happen to you...”
Kendall rolled his eyes. “Don’t act like your protection isn’t as important as mine. You know that’s not true. If even one of us is lost, it could all be over.”
That was when Erik, my Guardian sauntered into the apartment, as casual as ever. He locked the door and put his official magical seal onto it before taking off his shoes and coat — as if my world hadn’t been about to end. No one said a word, but I did let out a sigh of relief. Erik went to the bathroom and Linnea started cooking in the kitchen. Even though it was after midnight now, she tended to like to make elaborate late night snacks. Kendall had lucked out having Linnea, the good Guardian, who actually did her job.
J.F. Jenkins lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with her husband, son, and two cats. She graduated from Bethel University in 2006 with a degree in Media Communication with minors in both writing and film. When she is not busy writing, she spends her free time playing games, reading, and spending time with her family.