For Kaeden Parish, life in Solace has always followed certain rules—everything makes sense, everything can be planned for, and everything is as it seems. Unfortunately, the secret harbored by his gorgeous, albeit guarded girlfriend is about to shatter all of that.
After a successful attack on his life opens his eyes to a world of war, shadows, and supernatural creatures—a world he didn’t plan for—Kaeden finds himself resembling the sort of monster he has always feared. As he desperately struggles to resist a new temptation, danger draws ever nearer, threatening the ones he loves most. A prophecy tells of a final battle and great destruction, and Kaeden must decide which side he is on, a choice that could mean the end of the world.
In Book 1 of the Solace Series, P.K. Gallagher pulls readers into a realm where good and evil are at war, and the outcome of it all rests on one young man’s decision to either go and live…or stay and die.
This is where the story of Parish begins.
Kaeden turned and there, bathed in pale yellow lamp light, was Genesis. He smiled, the mere sight of her banishing the dark thoughts, and he knew, as he always did, that she was worth the wait.
Kaeden’s girlfriend was gorgeous. That wasn’t the only reason he was with her, of course, but he would be lying if he were to say he hadn’t noticed. Ray Charles would have noticed. She was a little taller than average—though still much shorter than Kaeden’s 6’1’’—with long, slender legs and a willowy frame. Her dark brown eyes were set just above high cheekbones in a pretty oval-shaped face that hinted at Asian origins despite her caramel-colored skin—though there did seem to be more evidence of her heritage in the strange pallor that contrasted with the rich color.
He gave himself a mental shake and forced himself to stop his instinctual sweep of her. He’d heard somewhere that after enough time had passed, beauty became less impressive, but he’d been waiting for that to happen with Genesis for more than a year and a half. At this point, he doubted it would happen at all. It might have been a nice change of pace, though. He wasn’t sure he liked the way Genesis made him react, how he couldn’t take his eyes off of her, how just thinking about her made him feel strange.
But he did like her. More than liked her.
She was standing less than a foot away now, so he took advantage of her sudden proximity, bringing her face to his with a finger under her chin and kissing her. It was a slow, soft sort of kiss, and it took a considerable amount of willpower to keep it that way. Kissing Genesis always left Kaeden feeling high, like he was in some altered state wherein he was capable of doing nothing but want her. However, though Genesis kissed him back, standing on her tiptoes, hands knotted in his shirt front, she seemed, like always, hesitant somehow, careful. She would immediately withdraw if either of them seemed in danger of exhausting their reserves of self-control.
That was usually Kaeden.
He pulled out of the kiss, albeit a little reluctantly, and leaned his forehead against hers. “You’re late,” he murmured by way of greeting.
“I know,” she said. “I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you?”
Smiling, he drew away from her and pretended to think it over. “Depends. What did you have in mind?”
She imitated his expression of mock consideration, but her voice was amused when she asked, “What do you want?”
He dismissed the first idea that came to his head, knowing that she would not agree and that it would likely ruin her mood, and settled on the second.
“Well since you asked…” He pull an envelope from his back pocket. “Here.”
“What is it?”
“The price for making me wait alone in the dark with the hobos of Solace City Park.”
Genesis rolled her eyes at that but took it anyway, carefully lifting the flap with long, slender fingers to reveal a ticket to Kaeden’s graduation.
Her expression was unreadable as she glanced from the ticket to Kaeden. “Kaeden,” she said carefully, all humor vanished, “I told you I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it.”
“I know,” he said. “But this is me insisting that you do. I’d really like you to be there, Gen. This is sort of important to me.”
“Yeah, I kind of got that…” She chewed on her bottom lip, looking a lot more distressed than the situation warranted.
“What is it?” Kaeden asked, alarmed by her shift in mood. He tried to catch her eye, but she abruptly turned away from him. “Hey.” He looked at her, brow furrowed, as he wondered at how she could at once be so close and yet so distant. He wished she’d turn around so he could see her face and maybe get a better idea of what was wrong, but she seemed intent on watching the path of a firefly as it skimmed the surface of the pond. A fish suddenly bobbed to the surface to devour it.
She sighed audibly and turned to Kaeden who was surprised to see her smiling. He distrusted it immediately. Genesis didn’t smile often, and when she did, it was a small, hesitant thing that even she seemed surprised to find on her face. This, however, was a wide, beguiling smile that didn’t reach her eyes, a smile she only ever wore when she was trying to convince someone of something that wasn’t totally true.
“It’s nothing,” she said. “I guess…” She trailed off and the smile faded as she bit her lip, thinking. “I guess I’m just having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that after this, nothing’s going to be the same. You, me, the circumstances, it’s all going to change.”
Kaeden froze. That was it? She’d been worried about his graduating and leaving?
“Gen,” he began, “don’t think that me leaving has any bearing on you and me. Yeah, I’ll be gone and we won’t get to see each other as often, but that doesn’t mean this has to be the end. Not unless you want it to be.” Genesis shook her head, and Kaeden smiled, reaching out to brush a strand of hair out of her face, smiling at how right even this casual touch felt. “Good then. You’re not planning on breaking up with me, and I’m certainly not planning on breaking up with you, so there’s nothing to worry about, ok?”
Genesis nodded, but her eyes were downcast, and her expression still seemed profoundly sad.
“Hey, come on,” Kaeden said, using a finger to lift her face toward his, forcing her to look at him. “If you’ll miss me that much, you can always come with me.” He grinned, and she responded with a soft sound in her throat that Kaeden recognized as a laugh.
“My family would love that,” she said. “Me abandoning the family to run off to Hoboken with my boyfriend. Classic.”
Kaeden laughed. “It’s not Hoboken, it’s New Brunswick. Besides, it’s not like I’d be dragging you out of high school to go live in a shack to bear my children or something.” That got him a real laugh.
“I’m sure that’d make them feel better,” she said. “That I’d be running off with a future doctor makes it okay.”
She gave him one more of those small smiles before all the mirth faded from her face. “You’re adorable, starshine,” she told him, “and it’s a tempting offer, but we both know that’s all it could ever be. I have people counting on me. Responsibilities. We can’t leave.” She sighed wistfully and leaned against his chest, wrapping her cool arms around his waist. “It’s nice to pretend, though.”
Despite writing stories that take place almost exclusively in New England, speculative young adult fiction author P. K. Gallagher has lived in the suburbs of the south her entire life. It is to this that she attributes her love of the fantastic and the supernatural—writing such things was her only escape from the monotony of Suburbia. Gallagher graduated from Florida A&M University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a fervent desire to never set foot inside a newsroom again.
She currently lives in Atlanta and divides her time between working a day job, finishing her works in progress, and perfecting her plans for world domination.
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