Authors: S. J. West
Harvester of Light Trilogy
List of Watcher Books in the Watcher Series
The Watchers Trilogy
The Watcher Chronicles
The Redemption Series
Lucifer (Coming Summer 2014)
Other Books by S.J. West
The Harvest of Light Trilogy
The Vankara Saga
Dragon Alliance (Coming Fall/Winter 2014)
©2012 S.J. West. All Rights Reserved.
The distant cry of a baby woke me from a sound, dreamless sleep.
“It’s your turn,” I mumbled, pulling the covers over my head in a futile attempt to block out the incessant cry.
“Are you sure?” Jace asked in a tired voice.
“Yes,” I said, rolling over to look at him.
Half of Jace’s face was obscured by his pillow, and he seemed determined to keep his eyes shut. I scooted closer to him and gently placed one of my hands against his exposed cheek. Slowly, his eyelids fluttered open. He looked at me in the dim light of the bedroom and smiled in contentment. It was a smile I had come to depend on since regaining my humanity.
A second, even more demanding cry joined the first.
“How can they eat so much?” Jace asked. “They can’t weigh more than ten or twelve pounds apiece, but it seems like we’re feeding them a bottle every two hours.”
I smiled, finding Jace's utter amazement over the babies' insatiable appetites cute.
“They’re only four months old,” I said in way of explanation. “They eat a lot.”
Jace sighed and rolled over onto his back, rubbing his hands against his face in an effort to fully wake himself up.
“I’ll help you,” I offered, sitting up in bed.
Jace grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back down, forcing me to lie across his bare chest.
“No,” he told me, “it’s my turn. I’ll handle them. You stay in bed and try to get some rest. We have a busy day ahead of us.”
“I don’t really need as much sleep since the conversion,” I told him.
Jace’s eyes became laced with worry by my statement. I knew he didn’t like me talking about the consequences of becoming a Harvester, but I didn’t see any reason to hide the facts from him. I was different now. I wasn’t the same girl he found in that dusty old library once upon a time. I was forever changed, for better or worse.
But, when I was with Jace, I felt more like my old self than the Harvester the queen made me into. He was my rock in the sea of turmoil my emotional state had become. Some days were better than others, but I still felt the pull to completely cut myself off emotionally, especially when I let my thought drift and think about Zoe. I missed her. I longed to see her again but knew such a miracle was beyond my reach.
“You still need
rest,” Jace insisted, reminding me my body still had basic human needs.
Rose and Simon’s cries became more insistent.
“You better go to them,” I said sitting up. “Otherwise, they’ll end up waking the whole compound.”
Jace kissed me on the lips lightly before getting out of bed and seeing to the needs of our children.
I shook my head at the thought. My feelings for the Rose and Simon seemed mixed at best. I loved them and felt a connection to them but something within that connection was missing. I knew the fault lay solely on my shoulders and feared I just didn't have the motherhood gene. I knew I would lay down my life for them because it would be the right thing to do, not because I couldn’t live without them. If they hadn’t been Zoe and Ash’s kids, I might have considered pawning them off onto someone else more capable of taking care of them. I’m not sure why Zoe picked me to be their mother. I seemed to lack that particular primal instinct.
The fact of the matter was I just wasn't very maternal. Weren’t those angels of mercy supposed to be loving and the embodiment of kindness? But, I suppose that depended on the person. Emma Blackwell, the woman I always thought to be my mother, had been a role model of parental love. But if there was ever an antithesis to motherly love it would have to be the woman who’s DNA I actually shared, Queen Lucena Day. The blood coursing through my veins belonged to the woman who basically killed a planet with her greed for power and quest for immortality. What did that mean for me? Was I genetically doomed to follow in her footsteps, or was Emma Blackwell’s impact on my life enough to influence how I would raise Rose and Simon.
I rolled over and hugged my pillow to my chest while I listened to Jace croon to the kids. Between the two of us, Jace was far better at filling the parental role he had been asked to undertake. He was kind, patient, and loving with them at all times, just like he was with me. Unfortunately, I leaned more towards impatience when having to cope with their never ending demands. I tried to fight against what was left of the Harvester inside me but simply failed at the task most of the time. To be honest, I wasn’t completely convinced the Harvester chip still embedded within my brain was the sole cause of my impatience, but I felt sure its continued presence didn’t help my sunny disposition.
Ever since returning, my emotions felt like they were on a never ending roller coaster ride. There were days when I felt completely human and seemed almost normal, and there were days when I simply couldn’t stand being around anyone except Jace. I felt like my brain was short circuited and maybe it was. I talked to Michael, Jace’s father and leader of the rebellion forces, about my problem and he assured me it was completely normal because of the way I was able to revert back to my humanity.
“You and I both had a jolt to our system to change us back,” Michael told me. “Hope’s love for you helped you reconnect to your human side. Do you remember me saying when you were first converted that I might have a way to bring back your humanity?”
“Yes,” I told him. “I remember. But you didn’t say how at the time.”
“No, I didn’t. When I learned of Jace’s existence, my love for him is what changed me. I was hoping your love for Jace would eventually become the trigger you needed too, but Hope provided it for you instead.”
“So you think love is the key?” I asked him.
“I’m sure it’s part of it,” Michael said to me. “How or why I’m not sure. You’d have to ask someone a lot smarter than I am that question.”
As I let that conversation with Michael ebb back into its box within my mind, I closed my eyes and listened to Jace continue to sing his lullaby to the babies. The tone of his voice was smooth and rich. It not only brought contentment to the children but to me as well. I tried to let his song erase the thoughts running rampant in my mind about the day to come, but not even his singing could wipe them clean of the possible nightmares we were sure to face later in the day.
For the last four months, we had been using my knowledge of the queen’s instillation to attack her and, at some point, we hoped to flush her out into the open. When I was a true Harvester and completely brainwashed into believing she was all knowing and all powerful, she made the mistake of showing me a map marking where all of her key facilities were located so we could strike her where she was most vulnerable.
Since I got back, Michael used my knowledge to destroy over half of her complexes so far. Today we were supposed to go to the Roanoke camp, a place I never thought I would willingly return to.
I didn’t go to all of the attacks, but this one I requested to be present. The living corpses I first saw there of the humans doomed to be harvested still haunted my thoughts. Their limbless bodies floating inside the large metal cylinders in the warehouses were images my mind simply couldn’t let go. Thankfully, since my conversion, I hadn’t had any dreams. I felt sure if I was still able to dream they would be filled with nightmares about that place. It’s where I thought my soul had been forever lost. If it hadn’t been for Hope’s pure and innocent spirit reawakening mine, I’m not sure where I would be right now. Probably still by the queen’s side acting as her right hand and learning to be just as cruel and ruthless as she was, if not even more so.
Unable to drift back to sleep, I got up and went to the nursery. I found Jace sitting in the white rocking chair there with Rose and Simon cradled in each of his arms as he continued to sing to them. I leaned against the door frame and watched him, marveling at the man who had stolen my heart before I even realized he held it.
When Jace noticed me staring at him, he looked up and winked but kept singing to the babies until they fell back to sleep in his arms. Careful not to jostle them awake, Jace slowly stood from the chair and laid them side by side in the white painted crib in the room. He covered them with a blanket and walked over to me, easily pulling me into his arms and surrounding me with his warmth.
“Couldn’t get back to sleep?” He asked before kissing the middle of my forehead.
I shook my head and wrapped my arms around his neck.
“No,” I told him, looking into his eyes and leaning my body against his while lacing my fingers through his thick brown hair. “I don’t think sleep is what I need right now.”
I brought his head down to mine for a kiss, not even trying to attempt to hide exactly what it was I wanted from him in that moment.
One of the traits of a Harvester I retained was my need for sexual gratification on a regular basis. Jace didn’t seem to mind this side effect. He was more than happy to satisfy my urges when I needed a physical release. Since Jace inherited some Harvester traits from his father, like super strength and stamina, we were a perfect match for one another in bed. I didn’t have to worry about hurting him if I desired to be more aggressive. Though, Jace seemed to prefer being gentle with me. I knew he wanted to make sure I understood what we were doing meant something more to him than just physical satisfaction because he told me so.
“When we’re together, I’m making love to you,” Jace told me once. “It’s not just sex for me, Skye. Remember that.”
And I did. I understood his feelings and tried to keep the fact in the back of my mind even though my body felt like a volcano on the verge of erupting whenever he touched me.
Jace easily picked me up in his arms, never breaking the contact of our lips and took me back to bed. He gently laid me down and slid in beside me, holding me in his arms. Not wanting gentle this time, I wrapped my legs around his hips and easily rolled him over onto his back intent on satisfying the hunger I felt deep within me.
“Skye?” a shocked, familiar voice said at the side of the bed.
I broke the kiss I was sharing with Jace and looked over at Ash. He stood right next to us staring down at the scene in front of him in disbelief.
“What the hell are you
?” Ash asked me, not even trying to hide his disgust at finding me in such a compromising position.
I sat up, still straddling Jace’s hips and sighed in disappointment.
“Nothing now,” I replied, irritated more than embarrassed by the unexpected intrusion. “Of all the times to reappear, you would have to pick
“What’s going on?” Ash asked, his eyes darting around the room. “When am I? Where am I?”
It didn’t take me long to realize this was the first time this particular version of Ash had ever been inside the home I shared with Jace on the old abandoned Air Force Base where we lived.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” I asked him.
“We were in the Durango and the engine died,” he answered, trying to keep his eyes on my face since I was still sitting on top of Jace. “We were trying to see if we could repair it when Zoe yelled that something was wrong with Hope. I remember running to the back of the vehicle, but I guess I must have gotten too close to the kids because I time jumped.”
I got off of Jace and sat on the side of the bed.
“What happened after that?” Ash asked me, desperately wanting me to fill in the missing span of time for him.
I stood from the bed and tilted my head towards the entrance of the room.
“Let’s go into the living room, and I’ll tell you what’s happened since then,” I said to him. I turned back to Jace and leaned down to give him a tender kiss as a promise that I was simply taking a rain check on the moment.
“Do you want me to come and help explain things?” Jace asked me, eyeing Ash warily.
“No, I can handle it,” I reassured him. “But, since we’re up, why don’t you go ahead and make some coffee after you get dressed. It’s almost morning anyway.”
I led Ash to the living room while Jace got out of bed to get dressed for the day. After Ash sat down beside me on the couch, I told him about the fate of his family. He took it better than I thought he would, at least he didn’t break down into tears and embarrass us both. But, I guess he didn’t have much choice. Hope was dead. Zoe and future Rose and Simon were encased in a mountainous tomb until the day came when it was safe for them to lower their shield, a shield which would replace the queen’s protective dome as soon as we were presented with an opportunity to kill her.
“The babies are here then?” Ash asked me.
“Yes,” I told him. “Zoe and one of your future selves asked us to be their parents.”
“Why would I do that?” Ash asked scathingly, not attempting to hide contempt from his voice or his eyes as he looked at me. “I don’t even know Jace, and I’m beginning to wonder if I still know you at all.”
“I’m not even sure I know myself anymore,” I freely admitted. “I’m still learning who I am day by day. I won’t sit here and lie to you, Ash. I’m not the same girl you’ve known for the past five years. But, I do know that girl isn’t completely gone. I can still feel bits and pieces of her surface every once in a while. What I
tell you with certainty is that I’m not the person the queen tried to make me into either. I’m trapped somewhere in between those two girls, not one but certainly not the other.”