From the final installment of Haven, HARBOR ABSOLUTION

“You lost the God-squad?”

Right. Willow’s bellow got me to refocus on the issue at hand. My sister and her friend’s pending mutiny. Tell me something. Do other teenagers have problems like these?

“They weren’t helping as much as watching.”

“Even watching is better than nothing,” Willow said.cropped-haven-opt1.jpg

Stepping in between the budding feud between Kai and the resident witch, oh, our only witch, seemed wise at that point. Crap. We need Willow. “It was the best thing to do under the circumstances. You have to understand, if they’re not willing to help all of us what good are they?”


“Why did Haydn tell me I had a choice between you and the Shade?”

Just as the last words cleared my lips, Cass’s shadow seemed to grow to a hundred times its normal size. A low rumbling laugh, the kind I heard that first day in the forest came taunting at me on the afternoon breeze. I guess taking a Shade vacation was not in my cards.

“Never mind.”

“You were made”—she looked away from me—“not born into this conflict. The only reason you’re at Haven is because I found you first.”

Deciding a change in topic would be wise, I shook my head as the shadow retracted back to normal size. Maybe it was my imagination? I did almost get eaten. That had to play hell with a girl’s senses. To think the twins wanted to come visit me. Over my dead body.

Hmm. Maybe I’d better stop mentioning my dead body. This is getting a little too possible in the scheme of things.


“Haydn”—my hand cupped his cheek—“it will be fine.”

“No matter what, doll face, I do not leave your side.”

“Don’t worry so much.” I tried to laugh off the momentousness of the up-and-coming confrontation.

“I. Do Not. Leave. You.”

Realizing that he wasn’t going to bend in this situation, I sighed. “Okay, Haydn. We’re a team no matter what. I got it.”


“I’ve never been a team before,” I whispered.

“This one is for keeps, Verity. Don’t ever forget it.”

How could you not love hearing that sentence come out of a cute boy’s lips? And he was more sexy man than angelic kid. I didn’t know if I wanted to kiss him or put him in a box and stick him in my pocket. Wow, did I ever wish that was the only test I was going to have to cope with over the next few hours. I wished even harder that I had some idea, any iota of a clue, as to what I was going to say to the Haven kids.

Or where I belonged.

Do they make compasses for life paths? Could I order a boatload of them for express delivery please?

Like right now?

Anyone? FedEx? Amazon.com? God? Oprah?

I’m begging, just in case I hadn’t been clear the million times I’d mentioned it before.


She remembered. The bright light. The scream of the brakes. The sickening feeling of impact, and then the world turning around and around, until it stopped. She smelled the gas, opened her eyes to see her parents deadly still and contorted as if they were broken dolls … and then she saw the flames building, blocking the windows … cutting off all hope of escape. And finally the eye-burning flash of the car exploding. Topsy remembered every moment of the crash that killed her parents.

And ended her fifteen years on earth.

When she opened her eyes after the car exploded, it was to see this beautiful black girl staring at her with an irritated look on her face. Now she knew she was the one they called Cassandra, and Cassandra stated Topsy was too nice to be a part of her crew. So she was brought here, and thrust at the one called Nyx, who was supposed to be burdened by her presence.

She closed her eyes on earth and opened them in hell.


I stumbled out of the tree line into a clearing to find what I guessed was a type of gym. There were guys more than six feet tall with striped hair who were trying to hack each other into pieces. Girls with iridescent wings were engaged in hand-to-hand combat, and others were flying, shooting bows and arrows at targets through the field.

Guess they never heard of dodge ball here.

All of a sudden the wind shifted to behind me, and everyone I was watching stopped.

Slowly they turned to me and folded their arms over their chests.

“Who’s the norm?” someone yelled.

“New veil-seer.”

“She reeks of human,” one of the techno-hair guys stated.

I am so taking a shower as soon as possible.

“What’s it want?”

“I’m leaving,” I announced. “Fine,” I muttered to myself. I didn’t want to play any of their reindeer games, anyway.


I watched with dread as the rest of my group pulled their weapons and prepared to die. Then the mud broke apart to reveal there were a cool dozen of them.

We are so going to die.

I haven’t even gotten to drive a car yet.

Or have sex.

That’s it.

Screw Cassandra and her hell army. I’m going to live.


He knelt next to me and lifted me up. As he held me close to his chest his stare riveted Cass to the spot as effectively as a nail gun. “How could you? She’s new to all this. You might remember mercy is as valued as triumph. Or did you forget today, when a newbie managed to identify a demon?”

“I did it,” Cassandra stated stiffly, “for you.”

“Don’t do me any favors. I have enough stains on my conscience.” Off he strode with me in his arms. I felt like my entire body had been rolled up, wrung out, and then tossed in a dryer.

Kaydn kept moving until we were inside my cabin. He set me on the bed and made a great show out of tucking me under the blanket. Gazing over me with appraising eyes, Kaydn went to the kitchenette and brought me over a bottle of water with a straw. He held it to my lips, waiting until I had taken several sips. “Give it a day or two and you’ll be fine. Haydn would never have let you go if he had thought there was still any real danger.”

I grabbed his arm before he turned away. “Kaydn, I’m sorry. I just don’t know what I did.”

“I know, Verity. I know you don’t know why I’m upset. I think that’s what hurts the most.” His tone of voice was so harsh and ugly I braced myself, afraid of him. I didn’t understand. The look he gave me cut to my soul, and I shrank away because of it.


Nyx glanced up at the girl with dark brown hair and darker brown eyes and smiled. She really was quite terrifying. Did a leader’s heart proud. Turning back to the bitch currently harshing her mellow, she used her speak now or forever hold your entrails voice. “Why. Are. You. Here … CASSANDRA?”

It took little more than a nod of her head for Cassandra to make a sparkly explosion to herald the arrival of … a girl? The creature was a small thing, a little over five feet she guessed. And where the Aguane were all tall, with lean elegant builds, this one was round. Her hair was curly, eyes as circular as a new moon, body curvy bordering on chubby. What the hell kind of gift was that?

And how could she return it?

“This is Topsy.”

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Eric came to a skidding halt next to the bed. “How is he?”

Maddox folded his arms over his chest and glared at us. “I believe this to be unwise. Haydn needs his rest.”

“I’ll rest better if I know she’s okay.”

So I blocked out everyone and everything. I moved closer to the bed and took the hand he held out to me. The smell in the air was more fire crackles, just after you tossed the autumn leaves on. I could sense no sweetness at all. What does that mean?

“How are you?”

“Recuperating,” he promised. My eyes caressed the pale drawn look on his face, the deep circles under his eyes, and lines of pain pulling at his mouth. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” I hiccupped as I tried to keep back my tears.

“Please spare us,” Maddox drawled.

Haydn started to pull himself up, and needed both Eric and Maddox to help him. When he was settled on the cushions, he glared at his friends. “Leave us alone,” he ordered.

My happiness when they obeyed was impossible to hide.

“Come here,” he opened his arms and I managed to slide onto the bed next to him. “Talk to me, doll face.”

“I’ve missed you,” I sniffed.

His smile was clear in his voice, “I missed you as well. What’s been going on? None of my men would tell me what you’ve been doing.”

“They’re all mad at me.”

“For what?”

“I shouldn’t have let us go out without your men to protect us.”



“Not totally,” Lightning brushed a gentle fingertip in the space next to my right eye.  When I put my hand on it I could feel a stone embedded in my skin.  “It’s a blue diamond,” he informed me.

My smile was filled with genuine pleasure.  When I touched it I could feel the spirit of my missing friend.  “It’s for Azar.”

“How can you tell?”

I shrugged at Kaydn’s question.  “I just can.”  Glancing at him I swallowed a burst of sorrow back.  I’ve done enough crying.  “Why don’t I have one for Haydn?”

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