Anya Harris’s unwanted talents have made her a refugee, flying from city to city ahead of a tide of burning terror nobody else can see. She’s hoping Santiago City will be different, but deep in her heart of hearts, she knows nowhere is safe enough for someone with her secrets. When the gray-eyed man with guns and a sword shows up, claiming to be sent to protect her, Anya has to believe him. After all, she has nowhere else to go.
Jack Gray is one of the oldest Watchers around, scarred by the battle between Circle Lightfall and the Crusade. He's found his witch, and nothing is going to get in the way of protecting her. But being a Watcher is never as simple as it looks. Anya’s talent makes her worth millions, if she’s delivered alive to the right corporate bidders. Jack’s the only one who can save her. But when she finds out who he really is, he might lose her for good . . .
Bounced around the world as a military brat, Lilith Saintcrow fell in love with writing in second grade and never looked back. She currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with two children, a menagerie, and books. Find her on the web at lilithsaintcrow.com.
Read an Excerpt
"Got to go potty," Shell reminded her, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
Anya checked the rearview mirror. Nothing but a blank freeway receding into infinity. "Okay."
She hit her blinker. The rest stop exit appeared like a gift, and she pulled off, headlights slicing the purple dusk in front of the blue Taurus. "But we'll have to be quick, okay, sweetie?"
"Okay," Shell agreed placidly. His round blond face was spectral in the green glow from the dashboard.
Anya's head hurt, both from a nagging headache and from the goose egg under her hair. She'd hit the doorjamb hard, stunned for a moment while the thing screeched, before Shell could drag her away.
Don't think about that. Concentrate on what you have in front of you. She hit the brakes. "Good," she murmured, and coasted to a stop.
Shell was almost out of the car before she could cut the engine, and Anya sighed. Her eyes were hot and grainy, her entire body aching with exhaustion, and she had only her car and a pile of clothes to her name. Oh, and the coffeemaker.
The slight thunderous smell of smoke and fury in the car didn't help her headache one bit.
The rest stop was set at the top of a green hill and water rilled in a creek behind it. A concrete path zigzagged up the hill, and the entire place was deserted. It was a good thing. Both she and Shell were exhausted and grimy, dressed in odds and ends.
How am I going to feed and clothe us both this time? She got out of the car and stretched, watching as Shell lumbered up the hill, his huge shoulders hunched under his favorite Green Bay Packers sweatshirt. He ducked into the men's bathroom, and Anyawearily started up the hill herself, her zoris flapping. Wet grass slipped under her feet until she reached the next strip of concrete.
Shell saved me. If it hadn't been for the roof caving in, we wouldn't have gotten away. Anya shivered. The sky was overcast, chill November night falling like a soft cloud. She smelled smoke and wrinkled her nose--it was the scent of her life burning down. Again.
How many times am I going to have to do this? This is the fourth time we've had something attack us, the third time we've been driven out of a city.
She washed her face in the metal sink. There were no paper towels. That was all right. The chill would help keep her awake. Anya didn't dare look into the slice of scratched metal serving as a mirror, either. She came out into the gathering dusk to find Shell waiting for her, his sleepy blue eyes wide and fearful.
"Anya." His voice trembled. "I was afraid."
Me too. But I can't show it or you'll be even more upset. "I know, buddy. Let's go, okay?"
"Okay. Where are we sleeping, Anya? I'm sleepy."
For a single moment she let herself feel the bitterness. How on earth should I know? I just had my house burned down and my life destroyed by a big, tall fiery shadow nobody else can see. How am I supposed to make this better?
Guilt rose sharp and bitter inside her throat. She straightened her shoulders, taking an accustomed weight of guilt and responsibility. "I know you're tired, buddy. I'm sleepy too. We'll stop in the next city and find a place to sleep, and I'll have to get a job. You'll have to be a very good boy, Shell. All right?"
"Okay, Anya." He tromped back down the hill, almost glowing with happiness. If she said it was going to be all right, it was going to be all right. After all, Anya was his protector, and she had always found them food and shelter before.
I'm going to have to use the Persuasion again. If I don't, we'll starve. Anya picked her way carefully down the hill. I wish I didn't have to. Why is this happening to me?
She knew why. Anya could do things other people couldn't; sense things other people couldn't. She was, in the truest sense of the word, psychic. And she had a sneaking suspicion that was why the huge hairy and shadowy things were after her. Not to mention the fanged things, or the clawed things, or the winged things...
I must be insane. I hope I'm insane. I'm wishing I'm insane. Isn't that crazy?
She heaved a sigh as she reached the bottom of the hill. Shell had already folded himself into the car. Her zoris flapped as she crossed to the driver's side, opened the door, and got in, rubbing at her grainy eyes.
"We gonna go, Anya?" Shell asked.
"Sure. Just give me a minute, buddy. Okay?" Just give me a minute to pull myself together and quit wishing I was batshit nuts.
"Okay." He waited. "I sure hope they don't follow us."
"I hope so too, Shell. I don't know how many more times I can do this."
"It'll be okay, Anya."
He promptly fell asleep before she pulled back out onto the freeway. The next big town--Santiago City--was fourteen miles away.
It was as good a place as any. After all, it wasn't like they had anywhere else to go.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Anya Harris feels all alone in the world as she flees the Dark fires that no one else seems to see. Her only companion as she runs from 'the persuasion' is Shell, who depends on her for his well-being as he apparently is a 'downs syndrome' person. --- In Santiago City, she knows she needs a job that will enable her to also keep Shell safe. Instead she meets Watcher Jack Gray, whose centuries of dedication to Circle Lightfall may not redeem him for the atrocities he committed. Jack realizes she is the witch who he has waited seemingly forever to come into his life. He must protect her and her ward with his heart and soul as the Dark has followed her here. Used to having no one protect her back or someone steal her heart, Anya rejects his efforts to keep her safe still her presence gives him some hope of redemption for the evil he did before he became a Watcher. --- The Lilith Saintcrow ¿Watcher¿ romantic fantasy (see DARK WATCHER, STORM WATCHER, and FIRE WATCHER) is a terrific tale starring two interesting protagonists. Anya trusts no on except Shell who is almost totally dependent on her. Jack has waited forever for his soulmate to bewitch him so has begun to lose faith that he will ever meet her. When they do meet both are stunned, but he knows he first needs to keep her safe because her skills make her special and worth millions, but to do that he also must protect Shell. CLOUD WATCHER is a strong entry in a terrific series. --- Harriet Klausner