Genre: fantasy romance
Warnings: mild sexual scene, mention of violence
Word Count: 3,051
Summary: Spurned on by diaries from her forgotten youth, Ellie travels far and wide in search of someone who can help restore the memories she took from herself, and help her find her long-lost love.
Excerpt is from the start of the book, around chapter 3/4.
‘I found a spell that will reveal my soul mate to me; I’m going to try it tonight.
Oh my Gods…she’s amazing; funny, clever, and absolutely gorgeous. Her name is Angela and she is an angel.’
Ellie shivered and pulled her cloak tighter around herself as the fierce easterly wind dragged sheets of icy rain with it, pelting the side of her face and extinguishing any hope of sustaining a fire; without a flame she had no hope of creating a charm to keep herself warm. She had hoped to try and find a more sheltered place in which to make camp, but the wind and rain were getting worse, signalling an incoming storm. Sighing, Ellie scanned the area around her and managed to spy a small copse where she should be able to set up a shelter for her horse and anchor her caravan. She quickly directed her horse to the copse, and once there, worked as quickly and efficiently as possible to get a shelter up, set Milly up under it with a blanket and a bucket of oats once she’d been rubbed down, and then made her way inside her caravan. By the time she entered her small home she was soaked through; her teeth were chattering and her fingers felt numb and useless as she struggled to light her lantern. She could barely grip the flint properly, and she cursed as she failed to get a single spark. She angrily threw the flint on the table and slumped into the nearest seat, curling up and bringing her fingers to her lips so she could breathe warm air over them while rubbing them together. She started shaking, but eventually the strength returned to her fingers, and she hastily took up the flint again.
This time she was met with success and she soon had her lantern and the stove lit, their flames creating shadows that danced merrily around the caravan walls. Once the flames were strong enough, Ellie shed her wet clothes, closed her eyes and pulled what heat she could towards herself, wrapping it around her body like a blanket. The effect was immediate; her body instantly felt warm and the strength returned to her bones. She revelled in the heat for a while longer, and once her body had fully dried she grabbed a pair of undergarments, britches, and a loose tunic, and quickly dressed. She held the warmth around herself as she cooked and ate her dinner, and it wasn’t until she was buried under several layers of blankets that she finally let it go, extinguishing the fire in the stove and lantern in the process. She sighed and buried herself further under the blankets, closing her eyes in anticipation of a good night’s sleep.
Which was not meant to be.
After what seemed like an eternity of tossing and turning Ellie officially gave up on sleep and gave in to the thoughts and questions banging away in her brain. Luckily there was enough heat left in the embers of the stove to allow her to light the lantern from her bed, and once the caravan was once again basking in the glow of its flame, she reached under her mattress and pulled out the old, leather-bound book that was the cause of her journey. She opened it and read through the entries for what must have been the twentieth time, her heart still pounding at the now-familiar words. She couldn’t believe that it was all true; she’d long thought it all a dream, a fantastical fantasy, that she had experienced a love beyond anything she could have hoped for. But her diary, hidden for so long, told her otherwise, told her that it was true, that Angela was real. And that it was her fault she was gone. Tears welled up in Ellie’s eyes as she read over the last few entries.
“No one believes me when I tell them about Angela. I know it sounds fantastical, that I am in love with and am loved by an ethereal being, but surely it should be obvious, surely there should be some outward sign. I don’t know why it is only I that can see her and hear her and feel her; I wish more than anything that someone else was able to acknowledge her existence so I would be justified in my insistence that I have found the love of my life.”
“My parents think I am going mad. Maybe I am? If everyone else tells me that Angela is not real, then who is really right – I alone, or everyone else together?”
“They want to send me to the sanatorium. I cannot go, I WILL not go. There must be something I can do…”
“It…it is done…Oh Gods what have I done? My love…my Angela…I’m so sorry. I have ripped out my heart in doing what I have done…I cannot bear to remember it, so I will lock those memories away with my love. I pray that my future self never finds this diary. Ellie, if you do, do not go looking for Angela; you will not find her. There is no going back from what I have done.”
“You’re lying,” Ellie whispered into the pages as she pressed them against her face which was wet with tears. “I know she’s out there somewhere; I know I can find her. I just need the right spell.”
“Why don’t you just try summoning me again?” a familiar voice said huskily, and Ellie felt a delicious thrill run through her as an arm slipped around her waist and a body pressed against hers from behind.
“Because it doesn’t work Angela,” she replied, torn between wanting to relax against the other woman and push her away. “The best I can do is summon you, and you are a mere apparition.”
“How do you know I’m not the Angela from your youth?” the apparition purred into her ear, gently licking her neck.
“Because you’re not real,” Ellie said, stubbornly holding in a groan.
“I feel real though, don’t I?” ‘Angela’ ran her hand over Ellie’s body, raking her nails gently against the skin of her belly before cupping her breasts.
Ellie whined, her body instinctively arching into the touch.
“See? Just as good as you had it before.” ‘Angela’ tugged at Ellie until she had turned to face her, and then cupped her face in her hands, stroking her thumbs along her cheeks. “Come on Ellie; be with me. Please?” she whispered, before pulling Ellie in for a kiss.
Ellie whimpered and kissed her back, before suddenly stiffening and pushing ‘Angela’ away.
“No,” she gasped. “No you’re not her, I know you’re not her.”
“How do you know?” ‘Angela’ demanded, her face thunderous with anger as she sat up. “Why can’t you accept that I’m who you’ve been looking for this whole time? Why am I not good enough?”
“Because you are not her,” Ellie said gently, sitting up and facing her. “You’re something my mind created in a moment of desperate loneliness.”
“How do you know that that’s not what you did when you were younger? It would explain why only you could see me.”
“I just know.” Ellie shrugged and pulled her knees to her chest, hugging them lightly. “Reading those diary entries…it brought all these memories back. I remember Angela, I remember her and how real she was. You’re just…a pale imitation of her; an amalgamation of all the wonderful things about her without any of the depth. I want the real Angela, I need her.”
The apparition’s lip wobbled and a few tears rolled down her cheeks before she hastily wiped them away.
“I understand,” she said gruffly. “Then why am I here?”
“Because I’m lonely. Because I miss her, and you’re the closest thing I have right now,” Ellie admitted.
‘Angela’ snorted in derision and lay back down, turning her back on Ellie. Ellie stared at her for a long while, trying to fathom just what was going on with her magic and her mind when she summoned this apparition that seemed to feel so deeply, and wanted so badly to be the real Angela, or at least, to have Ellie accept her as the real Angela. There was a small part of herself that wanted to give in, to accept this version of Angela and scrape together some semblance of happiness, but the larger part of her knew that she would never be at peace until the real Angela was back in her arms again, regardless of the cost.