Walking in Shadows : Book two

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Kat Vega is a seer with the rare second gift, but being able to see the future only leads her into trouble. When a tall, dark, and handsome stranger named John charmed himself into Kat’s life being able to look into the future didn’t help her see what he had in store. He turned her life upside-down and she lost everything; her family, her world, and her freedom. Kat became determined to get her freedom back. She enlisted the help of her Darklings, four charming but dangerous creatures, to seek out the mysterious Music Man. He was the only one that could break the magic that bound her. Along the way, she met Dickson, another human trapped in the Shadowlands who agreed to help her end John’s tyranny, despite his own mysterious history with John. Their lives became entangled as Kat struggled to keep her freedom and right the wrong that her gifts helped create. It seemed that with each step of the way John was getting closer. Eventually, Kat's desire to be free and to be viewed as more than a damsel in distress leads her into the Shadowlands. She wants to show she is capable to help save the Shadowlands and save herself in the process. But the question still hangs over her head of whether she will become John’s puppet once again.

Fantasy / Romance
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Chapter 1: Blake

It’s Kat’s birthday, and I hate to think that she’s running around the Shadowlands all by herself today. It has been five months since she left.

Five long months.

Kat has left a hole in our home and in our hearts. Of course, we are all trying to carry on despite Kat’s absence. My brothers and I all feel the emptiness without her in our lives, but we are respecting her wishes to let her deal with her plans alone. The rest of the pups seem to be fairing well; they miss her too, but they are not as connected to her as we are.

We are her Darklings and will always be hers.

Dickson, on the other hand, lies about missing Kat, wanting her back, and tries to hide the fact that their separation is taking its toll on him. However, we all hear his screams at night…when whatever nightmare he is having tries to rip through him and he calls for her. He refuses to talk about it, but his emotions are high and overwhelming at times. They roll off him like a thick fog coming over the bay, and they overtake the entire house.

It’s obvious that Dickson is angry with Kat and feels betrayed by her. In fact, we all feel that way at times, but her actions are understandable. We were blinded by our need to protect her, and our desire to keep her safe and away from Ganix.

My brothers and I witnessed firsthand how he treated Kat…and all the suffering she endured while he had control over her. We had little to no power to do anything about it unless we risked endangering her further. As long as he could control Kat through the blood bond he placed on her all we could do is wait and bide our time until she was free of him.

Dickson is aware of everything that had occurred between Ganix and Kat since she confided everything in him, and because of that Dickson wanted to prevent Ganix from getting a hold of Kat again. We all decided to send Kat elsewhere and keep her hidden until we could complete this rebellion, and get rid of Ganix. However, I had tried to warn Dickson, that Kat would not take the decision easily. I knew she would rather be trained to fight than hidden away.

Unfortunately, I was right and she left us.

When I last saw Kat she had this determined look on her face; the stubborn look that she gets when she’s made up her mind over something and will not give up on it until she has completed it. I didn’t know what she was up to exactly but figured that she would attempt to confront Ganix in some way, to redirect his attention to her rather than Dickson.

If I had known then that Kat’s decision would have affected Dickson in the manner that it has, and had created the ripple effect that has changed all of us… Would I have stopped her? The question draws up that night in my mind again.


The night that Kat left, when I last saw her, I had such fear for her that it overwhelmed me; I feared for what she might do or what Ganix might do to her. I wanted to leave with her, even follow her, but she used the chalk and traveled who knows where.

Dickson had woken shortly after she disappeared and found the note she left for him. He came flying down the stairs screaming her name as he went out the front door. I let him scream. I heard the agony in his voice. The fear and sadness. I knew how he felt, but more than anything, I knew that he had to scream. He had to let it out, because he felt what I felt, but tenfold.

Everyone came downstairs at the sound of Dickson’s distress. My brothers were on alert.

What is it? asked Byron. What’s going on?

Kat’s gone, I replied wearily. She left. They rushed to me.

No, Poe gasped.

Why? asked Wade as he folded his arms over his chest while his brow furrowed.

She said she had a plan, I stated. Something she had wanted to handle alone. I meet their eyes. She said that she’d be in touch.

Why didn’t you stop her, Blake? Poe demanded as he stepped in front of me, anger written on his face.

She asked me not to, I replied.

You could never say no to her, Poe growled as he stepped closer, standing nose to nose with me, ready to fight, but I wouldn’t give in.

Wade laid a hand on Poe’s shoulder. Enough, he announced. After a moment he let out a heavy sigh and went to the front door and headed outside. Byron and I followed.

The pups were already out front, sharing awkward glances with each other. The air was heavy and thick; looking up at the streetlights I could see it, struggling to float. The temperature under the Cielo was already being altered, to cause another release that would keep the citizen complacent, numbed and dumbed down. However, it would still be a few days before we would be sure that Alice’s neutralizer worked.

I returned my sights to Dickson who was kneeling on the ground, crumbled, defeated, and destroyed. His face cracked something inside of me. I moved over to him, helped him up, and then took him inside.

Byron, I said, make him some tea. Byron nodded and headed to the kitchen.

I led Dickson to the couch, his eyes looked glazed over and his face had darkened. After a few minutes, I moved to the kitchen and took the tea from Byron.

Wade followed me and took hold of my arm. Tell him, Blake. You talked to Kat. Try to set him at ease.

I nodded.

Dickson was still sitting on the couch. His head was in his hands as he leaned on his knees with his elbows, mumbling about Kat blocking him.

I knelt in front of him. “Dickson, Kat’s long gone; she took the brick. I tried to follow her, but she broke the link. She could be anywhere right now. I know how you’re feeling, but we need to have faith in her. Kat’s worked out some plan that will provide a distraction for Ganix to focus on, so we can complete the next phase of our plan.”

“She’s going to get herself killed,” he snarled as he looked up at me. Dickson’s face was full of anger, and there was a glow in his eyes that made me uneasy. “What the hell were you thinking by letting her go?” he growled. “We have to find her, right now. There aren’t many places she could have gone to. She spent most of her time in that tower, right?” He grabbed onto my shirt. “So what places is she familiar with?” He was pleading with his eyes.

I nodded and turned to Wade, Byron, and Poe. Timber, the factory, Guardia, or the Market.

Right, replied Byron with a nod, and then went into the study. Shortly afterward he returned with four pieces of chalk and handed one to Wade, Poe, and myself.

We will look for her as he asked, but if she is found leave her be unless she chooses to return. She wanted to do this alone, and we will respect her wishes, Wade said sternly and eyed Poe as he opened his mouth to protest.

Poe glowered at Wade and stalked away to find a spot on the brick for his door. Wade then turned to Dickson. “We’ll search for her, but I can’t guarantee that we’ll find her.”

Dickson merely nodded.

By chance, I took the factory and waited in the shadows to see if she would show up. I couldn’t sense her or smell her nearby but did not want to give up too easily. As the sun began to rise she arrived, stepping out from the side of the building through a door she created with the chalk.

Kat looked calm and collected as she made her way to the front of the building and paraded around to make sure she gained someone’s attention inside. The sight of her warmed my heart and eased my mind.

She eventually sat on the steps to the building and waited. Ganix arrived shortly afterward, looking bewildered and almost relieved to see her, but that changed once Kat began to speak with him. I watched her exchange with Ganix, outside the building, and was in awe of her. She seemed so confident, so sure of herself, and didn’t even flinch when he moved to strike her. It made me smile to see her strength.

After they entered the building I waited in the shadows again; silently counting the seconds, the minutes, and then hours, hoping she would make it out. Time passed by, but she never

came back out. I was about to sneak into the building when a loud bang came from the front door. Ganix stalked down the steps, fists full of blood, face contorted in rage. My heart fell, fearing the worst had happened.

Ganix called up a link with his device. “Let it be known that Katalina Vega is no longer under my protection,” he barked. “Double. No, triple the bounty. I want her dead or alive.”

Relief washed over me.

Ganix let out a scream of frustration before climbing into the car. I waited until the sound of the cars were in the distance before making a door with the rest of my chalk.

Everyone had already returned. The sound of crashing and things breaking traveled from somewhere upstairs.

“What’s going on?” I asked as I looked up at the landing.

Wade shook his head. “Dickson’s lost it. Did you see her?”

I nodded. “She’s fine. She stood up to Ganix, outsmarted him somehow, and escaped,” I replied with a smile. “Although, I believe he did kill out of rage…he came out with his hands full of blood, and it wasn’t his or Kat’s.” A loud bang came from upstairs as if something heavy was thrown against the wall which was followed by a crash.

I shook my head and turned back to Wade, who was staring at the landing with a glower on his face. “He tripled the bounty on Kat,” I continued, “and lifted his protection on her. She’s marked now.”

“Dead or alive?” Wade asked as he turned to me, meeting eyes for the first time since we started talking.

I gave a solemn nod and he frowned as he slowly shook his head.

“We need to tell Dickson.” He glanced up at the landing again, then back at me, which meant that I needed to tell Dickson.

I let out a sigh and nodded once more before I began to climb the stairs, two at a time, and moved quickly through the halls, following the sound of destruction.

The sound had stopped before I reached the bedroom door, which was cracked open. I knocked and opened the door without waiting for an answer.

The room was trashed. The bedding and the mattress were shredded and thrown against the wall. The club chairs and tables were broken and laying around the room in pieces. Books were torn apart. The windows were shattered. And clothing was tossed about in all directions as if they were mere remnants of fabric. Chaos went through here and left nothing untouched.

Dickson was stalking back and forth in the corner of the room with his head in his hands, breathing heavily, snarling, gnarling, and growling; looking like a rabid animal, with his eyes ablaze. I could feel his anger…his rage; it surrounded him like a heavy cloak, the sight of him set me at alert. His beast was trying to take over. I surveyed the room again and shook my head; it had taken over.

Wade had been working with Dickson and the rest of the pups so they could control the wolves that were housed within them. As Guardians they are powerful forces, able to wield any type of magic, cunning intelligence, and deep social bonding abilities with their packs. However, their true strength came from the beast that took hold of them and established residence within their very souls from birth and began to strengthen when they hit puberty. The animal was different for each Guardian, Dickson’s pack are all wolves, the Rooks are something more feline.

Watching Dickson’s behavior concerned me. I would have to talk to Wade about continuing the training, especially with Dickson. His beast was very strong, but he had to be able to control it at all times, even when his emotions were overwhelming.

Dickson shook his head a few times, as his nostrils flared to take in my scent. His eyes dimmed slightly, and the growling abated.

I would have to be firm with him if I was going to get him to listen to me.

“What do you want, Blake?” Dickson growled.

“Are you done with your tantrum?” He ignored me, so I kicked a splintered piece of wood in his direction.

Dickson straightened himself, giving me a deadly glare, and then lunged at me. His shoulder connected with my gut, making me stumble back before he punched me in the face twice. Hard.

He staggered backward grabbing his head as he gave a low eerie growl. The blows almost knocked me off my feet as the pain from his hits began to throb; his pause gave me the opportunity to shake it off and dodge his next advance. He ran into the wall, grunting in pain as his fist went through the brick, creating a decent-sized hole. Dickson stumbled back as he pulled his arm out of the wall, shaking his head repeatedly, but made no further motions to attack me again.

I stepped back waiting for him to stop his erratic movements, it was as if he was trying to take back control and shake the beast away.

When he finally looked up at me with his human eyes I crossed my arms over my chest and said, “Kat, would be disappointed in you.”

He stood stiffly, face in a deep scowl. “Right. I wouldn’t want that. Especially since she took such consideration over my feelings.” His voice came out deep, rough, and bitter.

I shook my head with a sigh. “Get a grip, Dix; Kat didn’t intend anything personal, and you know that. She is putting herself at risk to save this land. She wanted to be more involved, and I had told each of you that she wouldn’t want to be sent away, and warned you that if she felt that we saw her as weak it would only cause her to want to prove us wrong.”

Dickson’s eyes narrowed as he scoffed.

“I saw her at the factory.” His eyes widen slightly. “She stood up to Ganix, and somehow managed to escape him.”

He shifted on his feet and ran his hand through his hair as he let out a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness.”

“Yes, but Ganix tripled her bounty and removed his protection over her. He’s going to try to hunt her down with full force now, which will lift the patrols tracking you and your pups.”

He glared at me. “We haven’t been watch—”

“Oh yes, you have,” I growled. “They’ve been very watchful of your actions in the last few weeks. You’ve just been too arrogant to notice. You’ve had a tail follow you every time you went to see Danny or Alice. Ganix probably didn’t move in on you because he thought you were pursuing those women.” I watched him as he absorbed the information. I had taken notice of the Darklings in disguise a few weeks ago and advised Wade. We’ve kept an eye on things to make sure the Darklings did not get anything useful to report back to the Stronghold.

“So what now,” Dickson said in a tired voice, “if Kat’s no longer under Ganix’s protection, and he’s increased the bounty on her she’ll be in even more danger than before. Not only will the patrols be after her, but every bounty hunter in the Shadowlands will be trying to find her, even the Underdwellers.”F

“Yes, but while Ganix is hunting for Kat he will be distracted enough that we can move onto our next plan of attack, which is what Kat wants.” I took a deep breath to keep my patience as I saw the doubt in his eyes. “Kat is well aware of the danger she is in and that if she gets caught—if she gets captured she could die, but she doesn’t care about that.”

Dickson scoffed again as he ran his hand through his hair once more, and his body began to grow tense. He had to understand…what we already understood about Kat. That she will do anything for the ones she loves, she would suffer anything to save those she loves; my brother’s and I had seen it firsthand when she saved us from Ganix’s terror.

I met Dickson’s gaze and said, “Kat watched her family die, she lost everyone she loved, and now she’s found a new family and home with us. With you. She will do anything to protect or save us.” I crossed over to him and placed my hand on his shoulder, giving it a squeeze. “She is a lot stronger than you know, Dickson. Hell, she’s a lot stronger than she even knows. Just trust her.”

Dickson stood silently for several minutes before he gave a half-hearted chuckle with a shake of his head. “That’s what she wrote in her damn letter, she asked me to trust her. But I do trust her, Blake; I trust her with every fiber of my being, I just don’t trust Ganix.” He shook his head again as he let his emotions fall away until just sadness remained. He let out a deep breath as he looked around the room. “I’ll clean up.”

“Okay,” I replied ruefully. “I’ll leave you to it. Shout if you need any help.”

I had left him to deal with his mess and emotions, but we kept watch on him since.


The first few months were difficult, but Dickson was tolerable, he was mostly broody, frustrated, or had slight instances of aggressiveness. Unfortunately, within the last few weeks, he has gotten worse and is a real pain to be around. He is always in a foul mood, easily annoyed, and has started picking fights; Dickson is behaving like Poe, which would be amusing, but now we have two of them. Furthermore, we can’t reason with Dickson when we try to discuss his attitude, his behavior, or Kat.

I almost dread talking to him today and that is if he even remembers that it is Kat’s birthday.

I force myself out of bed and to get ready for the day. It feels as if the morning is dragging on slowly, even though I wish the day would fly by quickly.

When I make my way downstairs I find Byron in the kitchen making a cake. He looks up at me and smiles. “Must be nice to be able to sleep in this late. I’m sorry to say that you missed breakfast, Blake.”

“It’s not that late, is it?” I reply, and then shrug as I catch the time on the clock; it’s a quarter after eleven. “Oh well. What’s up with the cake?”

Byron pauses and scowls at me. “Did you forget too? Geez, it’s not like she died or something,” he mumbles in an exasperated tone. “It’s Kat’s birthday and I thought it would be a good idea to have a cake ready in case, by some off-handed chance, she decided to grace us with her lovely presence.”

I nod.

Of course, I hadn’t forgotten, I’ve been lying awake all night and the better part of the morning thinking about it.

Kat always loved to celebrate birthdays and felt as if they were gifts in themselves since it was the day a loved one came into being. She also said that a birthday wasn’t a birthday without a cake; it didn’t count if you couldn’t blow out the candles and make a wish.

I take a seat on a barstool and watch Byron as he moves about the kitchen. It’s surprising how well he cooks. We had no clue that that was one of his talents until we came to this place.

We arrived at Dickson’s doorstep, unannounced, unwelcome, and unsure if we were making the right decision to trust him and his friends.

It’s been almost a year now, eleven months actually, and my brothers and I view the Guardians as family. They kept us under their protection while Kat lay in a Nod for almost two months as she recovered from a Severance potion that she took to remove the Blood bond and wards that Ganix had put on her. Then we all worked together to stop the next release from happening with the help from Poe’s girlfriend, Alice. Shortly after that Kat decided to do something on her own and left us. And here we sit, five months later hoping she’ll show up so we can celebrate her birthday with her.

A heavy sigh escapes me as the front door open and then slams closed, then heavy footsteps echo in the long entryway.

Byron looks up at me with a raised eyebrow. Prince Charming’s home.

I nod and turn as Dickson walks into the living room, dropping his motorcycle helmet and jacket on the couch as he gives us a quick nod.

“How goes it, Dix? Did you have a good ride and visit with Jonesy?” Byron asks with a large smile, always cheerful and good-hearted.

Dickson glowers. “It goes, Red...it goes. And it was the same as usual. I just missed her…” He pauses, lost in some thought.

Byron and I exchange a look, knowing that Dickson is thinking about Kat.

Dickson and Kat share the Guardian and Seer connection which creates an invisible tether between them. They are also able to track one another and connect to each other emotionally, but they have been blocking each other recently. So now it is as if Kat has been playing a game of cat and mouse with Dickson, and to his annoyance, she is always eluding him. They always just miss each other; Kat is usually slipping out one door, while Dickson enters the other. However, Kat has started to leave notes with Jonesy, for Dickson. Unfortunately for us, he never shares what is written, but it gives us reassurance that she’s alive and, for the most part, well.

“Did she leave a note?” I inquire, already knowing the answer by the look in his eyes.

He nods. “She sends her regards. And said that there’s a bounty hunter named Leonora that goes by Lee looking for her. Kat apparently had a bad run-in with her and escaped by the skin of her teeth,” Dickson replies as something dark crosses his eyes.

Byron and I exchange another look. Byron smirks and raises an eyebrow at me. This is different.

I know, I say as I give Dickson a sideways glance. I wonder what else was in that note. He usually isn’t so chatty. Also, Kat has been sloppy lately, which isn’t like her. She’s had too many close calls to count in the last three weeks or so.

You’re right, Byron comments as his brow furrows. Something has changed. And by the look on Dickson’s face, he knows it too. Maybe their separation is becoming more of a strain to them. It’s been just over three weeks since that Darkling incident, so three weeks without them being near each other.

That is probably the cause of Dickson’s recent anger issues. He gets into an altercation every time we go out now. I say with consideration as I watch Dickson thumb through some invoices that Danny had brought for him to look over. If the separation has made Dickson violent, distant, and overall moody, I wonder how it is affecting Kat. If she is becoming distracted and is getting sloppy…

Byron shakes his head. I don’t like it. We need our girl to come home. Not just for her sake, but for Dickson’s too. We don’t need him to go into beast mode again. We both turn to watch Dickson.

Dickson shakes his head to clear it. A worried crease has settled in between his brow. “Stop talking silently between yourselves,” he scolds us. “It’s rude to talk about me while I am standing here, even if you’re doing it in your heads. Why can’t you be normal and talk behind my back when I am out of the room like the boys do?”

Byron chuckles and arches an eyebrow at me. I nod at him in agreement. Dickson is acting strange or rather more like his old self.

“Now I know why Kat would get so frustrated with you four,” Dickson says with a sigh. “Anyway, use caution with this bounty hunter if you encounter her, and tell the rest of the boys. Also spread the word to the other Guardians as well. She’s a human, bound to an Old One, with a tattoo on her left hand of two spirals interwoven opening to a flame and three dots at the base, which means trouble.”

Dickson says no more as he starts to move towards his study, stopping as his nostrils flare. “What’s that smell?”

“Chocolate cake.” Byron beams. “Fresh out of the oven. I figured four layers would suffice and I’m starting on the buttercream—”

Dickson holds up his hand, stopping Byron from continuing. “Why are you making a cake?”

Byron smirks, raising an eyebrow as he gives me a quick look, then looks back at Dickson. “Well, it’s Kat’s birthday and I wanted to make sure we have a delicious cake ready for her. You know, just in case that is.”

“Right…” Dickson replies slowly as sadness crosses Dickson’s eyes, but he quickly pushes it away and continues his stride to the study. “I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was you,” he calls back before he slams the door shut behind him.

“He is in a good mood today,” Byron laughs. “He said more than three words and gave us more than a grunt when you asked about the note. I think he’s improving. Or Kat wrote something that really perked his interest.” A flash of mischief crosses his face as a sly smile tugs at his lips. “I’m betting on the latter, and I bet Kat must have told him that her adventure would be over soon.”

“Or maybe she promised to make contact with us directly,” I suggest, not wanting to get my hopes up that she will be home soon.

Although I want her home, more than anything, I know that she would not return unless she has completed everything she set out to do. A part of me also doesn’t want her to come home because I’m sure she still has hopes that her relationship with Dickson would have survived this separation unscathed, but Dickson has changed, and I fear he will only break her heart.

“Or maybe...” Byron muses and calls me out of my thoughts; I catch a glint in his eyes, “she wrote some saucy love note to him.” He shrugs when I make a face, and then laughs at me. “Hey you never know, Kat may seem shy, but we’ve caught them in some serious embraces before.”

“I don’t know.”

I recall some of the embraces Byron mentions; usually, we would catch them when we had arrived home earlier than expected. Dickson and Kat would be in the study completely oblivious to our arrival, lost in each other’s arms and lips. Wade always knew it was going on and would barge through the doors announcing that we were home. Dickson would jump off Kat, in an almost comical way, and turn beet red. Kat would laugh but would be equally red in the face.

A smile crosses my face at the memory. “Well, maybe. But I don’t think that the letter would be as saucy as you’d like to think.”

“I think you underestimate our lovely Kat, she’s feisty when she wants to be and driven by the same hormones like any other girl her age.” Byron leans on the counter with his elbow, tucking his chin in his hand as a faraway look appears in his eyes. “I wonder what she writes in those notes...I wonder where he keeps them…”

I shake my head, knowing that he wonders until he finds out. “That, my dear brother, may not be wise.”

“Where’s your sense of adventure?” Byron asks as he straightens up.

“It’s more of a sense of self-preservation,” I reply while eyeing the study. You know Dickson is dangerous when he’s angry. Even more so than any Darkling we’ve ever known.

Byron looks over at the study as well. Yea, I know; beast mode Dickson still gives me nightmares. He shudders. I was there the day he killed a whole patrol by himself to save Kat. Byron shakes his head. Thankfully, Wade talked him down.

Danny said that the other Guardians took note that day, and decided to make Dickson their leader, I muse. The fact that he showed such power, and did it on his own was unprecedented.

I wonder what else he is capable of because watching him take down a dozen Darklings within a few minutes was awesome, and crazy scary. Byron shudders again. Okay, so operation ‘Stupid Cupid’ is out the window. Back to the cake.

I laugh and slap the counter as I jump off the stool. “Four layers, huh? Well, maybe I should go in search of some ice cream to go along with all that cake.”

“Good idea,” Byron says as he starts whipping up the frosting. “I’d say Alice could help with that. And you can kill two birds, by getting your brother to come home. Poe’s practically living with her now. I have no one to fight with.” He eyes the study once more. “Well, I do, but I like having my head on my shoulders.”

I let out another laugh. “Sure. I’ll drop by Alice’s place and see if she can make us some ice cream, and then ask Poe to visit.” I move towards the door. “Seeya in a bit.”

“Laters, little bro.”

I head towards the door while calling up my glamour and settle on the image that I have grown used to over the last several months, still keeping my eye color, but altering my skin tone to an olive color, and changing my hair to a dark brown, while hiding my pattern, and making my ears more human. I make myself slightly shorter and less muscular since we Darklings are larger than most. I still keep my facial features, changing everything else makes me unrecognizable as it is. Besides, I like my ruggedly handsome face, as Kat would say. My brothers and I all share similar facial features, which is uncommon for us Darklings, but we are uncommon as Darklings go.

Kat raised us from eggs instead of being hatched in a facility like the others; we were never imprinted or linked to the Stronghold or the Shadowlords either, which left our minds free. However, we did form a link to Kat, although she doesn’t realize the extent of it, nor does she realize the extent of our abilities. We could locate her if needed but Wade wanted us to respect her wish to handle things on her own, but that may change soon.

We can also be summoned to her side if she were in real danger; thankfully it’s never come to that. A part of me wonders if the only reason why she hasn’t been in any real danger because Dickson had been shadowing her. Or at least he was before the Darkling patrol incident. The signs were all there; his late nights out, along with disappearing for days at a time, then he would return ragged and tired. I had tried to follow him but always lost him. He would pull up some glamour and would somehow mask his scent, like we do, then just disappeared into a crowd.

The only other explanation for his disappearances would be that he’s spending his time doing something else, possibly something he shouldn’t be…I’d hate to think that he would cheat on Kat, but that is a possibility too.

I shake my thoughts away and return to the world around me. The sun is high in the sky, and there are long wispy clouds scurrying overhead. A warm breeze brings the scent of the pine trees that surround the Skid on the south side, which is just able to mask the lingering smell of burning bodies.

The towns have taken to burning the dead from the mundane illness plaguing the people in the lower land sets. The illness, of course, is a result of the harvesting occurring through the artificial sky called the Cielo, that surrounds everything from the Rim to the Lowlands, and the barrier cells buried in the terraces.

We had suspected that the barrier cells were the actual cause of the illness. As the locals travel through them, they give up more and more of their light which would eventually lead to the mundane sickness to overtake them. We have avoided traveling through the cells, thankfully there aren’t as many in the Skid as the other territories.

The Skid, although it is a larger city setting with tall and sturdy brick buildings, is mostly uninhabited, and the majority of the buildings are boarded up and vacant. Besides Dickson and his pups, there are less than a hundred or so people that live here.

It’s a small community that is closely knit but scattered. They all look to Dickson for guidance and help when needed, but ever since Kat left Dickson has been unapproachable and impatient with the local’s troubles. He had assigned Wade to pose as him with the use of glamour. Wade has taken the role in stride and also makes the rounds with the other Guardians and allies that we managed to make, at Dickson’s instruction. Wade has gotten quite good at his charade, however, he still lacks something that only Dickson has; I can’t put my finger on it, but luckily no one else seems to notice.

Moreover, it would be foolish to say that Dickson is the only one affected by Kat’s disappearance. Everyone’s been on edge since Kat left; we’ve just learned to cope with it better than Dickson has. Poe has become romantically involved with Alice. He stays over at her place almost nightly now, we hardly see him anymore. Wade is pretending to be Dickson and trying to push through with the plan to take down the Cielo. Byron and I help out where we can, and go wherever we are needed, but are usually on Kat duty, in case she needs us. Pax is acting as a healer and assists where he can, as the illness sweeps over the lower land set people. Carlos has been working on some useful machines and devices that have already benefited us greatly with recruiting Darklings.

Then there are Axle and Kayden who continue to build and strengthen our army. They have taken the volunteers to Guardia, so they can train and strengthen their abilities, and thanks to Jonesy the path to Guardia is warded so the increase of travelers to the village would not raise suspicion.

And then there’s Dickson who is lost to us with his aloofness and most of the time Wade is the only one that can force him to communicate. Although most of those conversations occur to make decisions that only the true Dickson can make.

We have all taken to treading lightly around Dickson lately, and we all keep an eye on him, even Danny and the Rooks help where they can. Danny has made Dickson promise to check in with her once every few days. He’s due to make an appearance tonight. My brothers and I will more than likely accompany him, to prevent him from getting into any altercations, and make sure his wolf stays in check.

We want to keep Dickson from falling into the darkness. The same darkness that almost took him over when Kat left, which was very different from what made him attack a whole patrol of Darklings.

We had hoped that Kat would have returned sooner rather than later. Dickson’s behavior the night she left should have been an indication of how they’re separation could affect them. It should have been fair warning that living with him was going to be taxing.

I wonder if Kat has been a terror to deal with, for anyone who has gotten in her way.

A large smile crosses my face at the very thought. She was always fond of causing a little trouble.

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