Broken angel (book 1 in.., p.1
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       Broken Angel (Book 1 in the Chronicles of a Supernatural Huntsman series), p.1

           Shannon Lee Martin
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Broken Angel (Book 1 in the Chronicles of a Supernatural Huntsman series)





  BOOK 1




  The Funeral

  I sat in the first row of cheap folding chairs and stared forward with squinted eyes. Light from the bright sun glinted off the small wooden casket in front of me. I wrapped my old hand-knit sweater tighter around me to ward off the chilly mid-November air seeping through the holes. It felt second rate to the hugs I used to get from the even colder body inside the casket.

  The priest, dressed in black except for the white strip of clerical collar that matched his wispy hair, made his way frailly up to the podium. He shuffled papers, set them down with both hands, and sighed before he looked up. His wrinkled blue eyes met mine and his thin lips pulled back into a sympathetic grimace.

  “The loss of a child is something no mother should ever have to face. It is a heartbreaking occurrence to burry someone meant to outlive you. But to lose a child to such violence is truly a tragedy—one this town will never forget. Unfortunately, tragedy is known all too well by young Miss Kamlyn Paige, who suffered the great loss of her parents just months before her son was born. She was extremely blessed to have the ever-loyal love of her childhood friend, Cara Bellamy, to help her through such difficult times, and later with her wonderful and loving son.”

  I tried to keep my chin lifted and my eyes clear, but felt the sting of fresh tears gathering in the corners. My jaw clenched as I forced myself to swallow the sorrow. Cara grabbed one of my hands and squeezed it to her chest. Her brown eyes were red-rimmed and soaked.

  “Daniel Charles Paige barely had the chance to experience this world before he was taken at the young age of five. He was bright, kind, inquisitive, and a loving son who will be missed by everyone lucky enough to have known him, but we can take heart in the fact that he is in heaven now with his grandparents, looking down on his mother who will undoubtedly be thinking of him.

  “Let us all take a moment to pray for the capture of young Daniel’s killer in the hopes that he is brought to justice for his heinous crime against such a young and caring soul.”

  As I bowed my head, my wavy brown hair fell over my face and hid the tears that ran down my cheeks. All I could see was Danny—his golden blond curls bouncing around his sweet, smiling face, his pale blue eyes sparkling in the sunlight, and the brown birthmark in the shape of wings on his neck we both shared.

  My hands shook causing Cara to squeeze even harder. It was the first time I had left the house since that awful night. I didn’t want to have a complete breakdown in front of everyone, but it was growing difficult to keep inside. I took a deep breath to stabilize myself and let it drift out from between my lips. The priest broke the silence, shattering the image of Danny that lingered in my mind.

  “Now if anyone has anything else they would like to say, please come up and share at this time.”

  Cara looked to me, her eyebrows turned upward and her eyes enlarged, as if to ask if I could address the crowd. I knew she had a speech prepared in case I was too distraught to speak. I found it in her top dresser drawer that morning when I went to borrow black socks. But before she could get up from her chair, a young man’s voice called out from the back of the crowd.

  “Yeah, I’ve got something to say!”

  There was a flurry of whispers as everyone in the small crowd turned around in their chairs. The guy came charging up through the middle aisle in blue jeans and a gray V-neck t-shirt. His brown hair was disheveled and his honey-colored eyes burned with unrelenting fury. He didn’t stop until he stood over me, his tall frame blocking out the sunlight.

  “How could you let this happen!” he screamed as his fists shook at his sides. “It’s all your fault our son is dead!”

  A collective gasp rose from the attendants.

  I couldn’t say a word. My entire body slumped against the uncomfortable chair. What he said was exactly what I had been feeling. I should have been able to save my son.

  Cara jumped up and shoved him in his chest. “How dare you, Rob! How dare you!” She shoved him again harder and he raised his hands in surrender as he stumbled.

  The more I replayed his words in my head, the hotter the fire inside me grew. Sharp bursts of air shot from my nostrils. I straightened myself up again.

  As I stood up, Cara turned to look at me with her mouth open. Everyone sat in complete silence as they waited to see what I would do to my ex-boyfriend and father of my late child.

  I walked up to him and shoved my finger in his face.

  “Maybe if you hadn’t bailed the minute I told you I was pregnant our son would still be alive!”

  Another gasp from the spectators. It was the first time I had admitted Danny belonged to anyone else but me.

  Rob stood a full six inches over me with his chest puffed out and his chiseled nose turned up to the sky. His bowed lips formed a straight line across his face, breaking it into uneven halves of mixed emotions. Our eyes locked for a full minute. Then he turned, stalking off through the cemetery and back to his car.

  Cara let out the breath she held in and pressed a hand to her rosy cheek. Her long blonde hair fell out in curled tendrils from the bun atop her head.

  “How did he even find out?” I whispered. “What’s he doing back in Indiana?”

  “I heard he didn’t do so well out in L.A. In almost six years he couldn’t scrape up one acting gig, not even for a commercial. After that, he started drinking and his mother paid for his ticket home. Nancy told me two days ago, but I didn’t want to tell you. You had your hands full with the funeral,” Cara said, shaking her head as my eyes followed him to his car. “Who would have told him about the funeral, though? I thought no one except you, me, and him knew Danny was his.”

  “His mother saw me a few months after graduation when I was starting to show. She might have put two and two together, kept track of us maybe, told him about today.”

  “Still,” Cara said in a venomous tone. “I can’t believe he attacked you like that.”

  Her voice drifted in through my ears and got lost in my absent mind. As my eyes wandered the cemetery, they spotted another man standing at the back with his arms folded across his broad chest. He was tall, muscular, and had dark hair that peppered gray around his ears. I’d never seen him before and wondered if he simply stopped while passing by on his way to visit his own lost loved ones.

  Once I sat down again, the rest followed and slowly the distinguished funeral silence returned. A few came up to the podium and shared their favorite stories about my son, including his kindergarten teacher who always said Danny was the most well-behaved kid in her class.

  I tried to take in their kind words, store them in my memory for when things got too hard to bear, but found I couldn’t retain a single one. Instead, I got lost in the things I would never do again—like I would never again hear my son’s infectious giggles as I tickled him on the floor of his sunny yellow room. I would never hold him in my arms while he slept, or feel his sweet, warm breath against my neck. I would never hear him tell me that everything would be okay as I dropped him off at his first day of school, like he did when I took him to pre-school for the first time. I would never tuck him into bed, oblivious to the fact that anything might be lurking in the shadows, waiting to take him.

  At that, my mind pressed repe
at on an obsessive track, engrossed in the details of that night. I knew, deep down in the pit of my stomach, that Danny’s killer would never be caught like we all prayed for. The police would search endlessly, but no human would be held responsible. Whatever killed him was not human at all. They were pure evil and had most likely crawled back into the depths of hell where they belonged to hide out.

  Silence was the only thing to pull me back from my insane thoughts of otherworldly beings. I felt the eyes of fifty people boring into the back of my head. Even Cara looked over at me. I scratched at the birthmark on my neck, wishing I had heard the last words spoken.

  When it became apparent I had been lost in my own thoughts, Cara stood up to read her written eulogy. She wiped the tears from her face and sniffed back more that threatened to spill out.

  “Kamlyn and I have been best friends since the first grade—about eighteen years now. I’ve never met someone with as much love or loyalty in their heart as her. When I found out she was going to raise a baby with only the help of her parents, I worried for her. We were so young and so inexperienced in the world. We had just graduated from high school. But I saw her sacrifice everything for her child, even before she ever met him—she sacrificed college, a career, her social life…everything.

  “When her parents passed I knew I was meant to lift her up and be there for her and her child. In the years we’ve lived together since then, I’ve watched her care for and love her son with the ferocity of a truly wonderful mother. Age was no boundary for her love and devotion to him. She grew well beyond her years the minute she held him in her arms.”

  Cara stopped, the paper flailing in her shaky grasp. She raised a hand to her mouth. Her breaths were short and ragged.

  “I still regret leaving them alone that night. Maybe if I had stayed—” She broke down into uncontrollable sobs.

  Her boyfriend, Tom, rushed to her side, but she shook her head and waved him off. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” she said in a wavering voice.

  But she let him lead her away from the podium with his arm around her shoulder. He sat her back down in the empty chair next to mine. When he took the seat on her opposite side he rested a hand on her leg.

  This time, I reached for Cara’s hand and squeezed it tight. Blaming her had never crossed my mind. I had no idea it had been haunting hers. She leaned her head on my shoulder and I rested my cheek on her soft hair. The casket lowered down into the cold, hard ground slowly.

  Panic rose in my chest as my son’s body sank from sight. My heart raced and my lungs squeezed, threatening to suffocate me. I took quick, sharp breaths as the fear of never seeing him again took over the rational part of my brain. Gone forever. That thought echoed over and over again in my head. Gone forever. Gone forever.

  I shot up from my chair before the top of the casket sank from view completely, jarring Cara from my bony shoulder. My head shook and I was unable to open my mouth in fear of what would come out. I couldn’t watch my son—my sweet little boy—disappear forever.

  My legs carried me swiftly over the dying grass of the cemetery as heads turned to follow. I didn’t stop until I concealed myself behind the familiar walls of my home, shut in my room, finally alone and free to fall apart.

  The man on the porch


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