The first three chapters of The Sentinel

thesentinal_hollymartin_a3poster_web You guys have been amazing with your support of The Sentinel.  You’ve tweeted, retweeted, wrote incredible reviews, told your friends and family about my book and very kindly took the time to tell me how much you’ve loved it.  I love you all and I wish I could come round and hug every single one of you. So many of you have been asking me when the next book is out and I’m hoping to publish it around April.  But in the meantime how about some bonus material as a thank you. 

From the 12th December and every day up till Christmas I will post some Sentinel Extras here.  Twelve days of diary entries, interviews, deleted scenes and even some more extracts from book 2.  I think we need a catchy name for all this sparkly goodness, the Twelve Days of Christmas perhaps… I think there’s even a song about it.

For those of you who haven’t read it yet, you might find all the Sentinel stuff confusing so to catch you up a bit here are the first three chapters of The Sentinel for your enjoyment.

1. The night I should have died

A horrific squealing of brakes snatched me from my dreams.  As we swerved, my friend Julia smacked her head painfully against the window.  With a deafening bang, the coach lurched heavily onto its side.  The lights went out.  Metal screeched as it buckled along the ground.  Windows popped and splintered.  The coach suddenly tipped forward over what could only have been the edge of a cliff and our driver smashed into the front window.  Silence fell over my classmates as we watched in helpless horror, somehow knowing what was going to happen next.  With a sickening cracking sound, the glass shattered.  He scrabbled frantically in the air and his grass green eyes, filled with despair, found mine as he tumbled into the dark abyss below.  I knew that moment would be permanently seared on the inside of my eyelids, when fifty six people sat and watched our coach driver die.  And then the screaming started again.  It quickly intensified as the coach wavered precariously on the knife edge between our salvation and our death. 

Standing still and unmoved amongst the chaos Mr Kennedy, my English teacher, was suddenly by my side.  He tore me easily from my seatbelt, as if it was only made from paper, and swung me up into his arms so fast it was just a blur.  Leaping through a window into the icy black night, he landed on the road in one swift, gigantic, impossible movement.  Mr Curtis, my Science teacher, was holding onto the back of the coach with one hand.  A terrifying realisation engulfed me.  He was the only thing that was stopping the coach from toppling over the sheer drop and killing all my friends inside.

Mr Kennedy put me down and gestured to the coach. ‘Let it go, they’ll be too many questions otherwise. Eve is the only one that matters.’ 

My stomach twisted violently as Mr Curtis released it.

As gravity slowly took hold of the coach, pulling it over the great precipice, I shrieked with horror.  Without thinking I flung out my hands to stop it, clinging onto the bumper.  The coach stopped tipping immediately, though the screaming inside did not.  My eyes widened in shock as I realised that I was now singlehandedly preventing the coach from falling. I looked back at my two teachers in disbelief.

‘Help me,’ I screamed.

Mr Curtis joined me at the bumper.

‘Eve, if we do this, you will have to lie to everyone.  This never happened, the coach nearly slid off the cliff but somehow stopped before it did.  You were never rescued by Guardians, we never had this conversation.’

I nodded, numbly; anything to save my friends. 

With the loud, screeching sound of metal grinding against the rocks, Mr Curtis started pulling the coach back, as easy as if he was pulling a sheet off a bed.  He pulled it back just a few feet but it was enough that the coach wouldn’t topple over the edge. 

Before I could say anything I found myself in Mr Kennedy’s arms, whooshing through the air again.  I was lying back in the darkness of the coach a second later; a darkness that was filled with screaming and fear and pain.

Mr Kennedy’s voice was calm as he whispered in my ear. ‘Remember to lie Eve; it’s more important than anything that no one knows about you or the Guardians.’ He flicked open his phone and his voice changed to one of panic. ‘Hello is that the emergency services…there’s been an accident, oh please get here quick, the children, please…we’re on the mountain road between …..’

As I lay numb in the darkness, waiting for the emergency services to come, I listened to the sounds of Mr Kennedy and the other teachers, trying to calm down the screaming teenagers.  The sticky wet feeling of blood trickling through my hair was a sure indication that I had banged my head at some point.  But I was alive and so were the other fifty five passengers.  My teachers, the Guardians, had saved us. 

I swallowed, uneasily as I accepted the unwanted truth.  No, they hadn’t saved us, they had saved me. My head was buzzing with the thoughts crashing round it.  How had I managed to hold the coach?  All laws of physics dictated that what Mr Curtis had done, what I had done, was impossible.  And who or what were the Guardians? Why had they saved me?  What did they want from me?  ‘Eve is the only one that matters’.  I tried to catch my breath, but it stalled in my throat.  This didn’t make any sense.  What was so special about me?  Why was my life so much more important than anyone else’s?  My life had been pretty unremarkable.  I hadn’t saved any lives, I hadn’t done anything that was special, certainly nothing that could rank my life over anyone else. A sick feeling of panic prickled my scalp as I tried to breathe normally.

To make matters worse, my struggling to breathe alerted my two Guardians again.  How they had heard me above the screams of my friends was beyond me.  Amongst the cries of genuine pain from my fellow students, my Guardians stood unmoving by my side.

‘Is she hurt?’ Mr Curtis asked quietly.

Mr Kennedy bent down to touch my head, a surge of electricity shot through me and he stood back up again. ‘She’s had a bang to the head, but it’s just a lot for her to take in.  She’s beginning to understand how important she is and she doesn’t want to believe it.’

I looked up at them, at their grass green eyes that glinted in the moonlight; the exact same eyes as the driver who had fallen to his death. The same eyes as my parents.

‘This was no accident,’ Mr Curtis said.  ‘There were small explosives rigged to the tyres.  They were deliberately trying to kill her.’

‘The Putarians?’

‘Probably or someone after the bounty.  We will have to intensify the guard.’

‘There are already hundreds in her servitude; Eve’s teachers, doctors, neighbours.  She’s never alone now without a Guardian.  There are four that live in her house…’

Four Guardians that lived in my house? My parents, aunt Jada and uncle Silas, they were Guardians too? My throat was dry.

Flashes of my life suddenly filled my mind, like a film played too quickly to make any sense of it.  The flashes were of tall, powerful people with grass green eyes.  They had followed me throughout my life; they had seemingly watched me as if nothing else existed.  My family?  My teachers, next door neighbours, doctors, dentists, shop keepers, flower sellers? I had never been alone.  Even in seemingly innocuous situations the Guardians had never left me.  All of them shared one thing in common, that intense look in their eyes, that single minded ferocity that I had to be kept alive, that it was their job to protect me at all costs.   

Lying there surrounded by broken glass in the debris of the coach crash, the realisation of what the Guardians were came crashing down on me.  My heart was racing, my skin humming with horror.

‘She wasn’t supposed to find out this young.  She’s only seventeen.  She’s not ready for it yet.  She certainly shouldn’t have found out like this.  But still, the secret cannot remain at the cost of her life.’

‘No, we had to save her,’ agreed Mr Kennedy.

‘Maybe we can modify her memory.’

I felt a fresh wave of panic surge through me.  Finding out about the Guardians had horrified me.  The possibility of this knowledge now being taken away from me and the bubble of unawareness being refastened over my eyes and my mind was even more terrifying.  I had to find out answers not have what little I knew removed from me.  I shivered violently.

‘I can try.’ Mr Kennedy was doubtful as he bent down again to touch my head, then leapt back as if he had been burnt. He looked at Mr Curtis and shook his head. ‘She’s becoming more aware of her powers, maybe subconsciously now, but she is defending her mind against me.’

My powers!?  My heart was roaring in my ears.

‘I must say, I was very surprised to see her holding the coach earlier.  The strength isn’t supposed to kick in for a good few years yet.  Isn’t she supposed to be around twenty before she can do that?’ Mr Curtis muttered, as he shrugged out of his jacket and placed it over me.

‘We always hoped she would be physiologically advanced, but no one could have foreseen this.’

And suddenly, as if all this wasn’t enough to deal with, a tall man with a scar down his left cheek and golden eyes appeared between them, as if the air had just spat him out.  The two Guardians didn’t even flinch, as if people appearing from the thin air was the norm.  He glared at them as if he blamed them entirely.  He knelt by my side and put a hand to my head.  With a surge of energy from him the welcome dark of unconsciousness consumed me.

2.  What’s so special about me?

I lay in bed, in my home, thinking of the night of the crash and what it all meant.  Five days I had been back in England now.  Five nights of restless dreams, filled with super strength beings following my every move.  Five days where I couldn’t talk to anyone and no one in the know would talk to me. 

When I had woken in hospital from the relief of the empty unconsciousness, my Dad had been impossibly by my side.  How he had got to the French hospital in such a short time was a mystery.  I tried to talk to him about the Guardians, about what it all meant, but he had denied all knowledge of such things.  He tried to convince me that it was the bang to the head that had caused these hallucinations. 

Even Mr Curtis and Mr Kennedy denied what had happened that night.  And there was no one else I could talk to about it, because who would believe it.  What would any of my friends say if I started talking about Guardians and how supposedly important I was.  I can imagine the reaction actually; I’d imagine it would end with me sitting in a padded cell.  I couldn’t even tell Seth, my best friend, which hurt me the most, as I told him everything.  But it just sounded so unbelievable; I was having a hard time believing any of it myself.  Why would anyone else believe me?  Every time I started forming the words to tell him, my mouth would go dry with embarrassment. 

The annoying thing was Seth should have been there on the coach with me.  Seth had come on the school skiing holiday with us, but had seemingly broken his ankle a few days before the end of the trip and was flown home.  Though once back home he’d text me to say it was nothing more than a bad sprain.  I was so grateful in one way that he wasn’t there, so he didn’t get hurt in the crash.  But if he had been with me, he might have seen what had happened with Mr Curtis and Mr Kennedy and I wouldn’t be doubting my own sanity right now. 

I got up and felt Quinn, my golden retriever, stir next to me on the bed.  My throat was dry and the air was thick with heat.  The last few days had been warm despite the lateness of the year but the top of the house was always hot at night.

I took a long sip of water, opened the window and climbed out onto the roof.  My Dad hated me sitting on the roof and he’d nearly beat me once when he caught me out here.  But Uncle Silas had thrown him against a wall when he raised his hand to hit me.

Uncle Silas had been weird towards me since I came back from France.  Whenever we had been alone he would mutter things like, ‘trust no one’, or ‘just because they have green eyes it doesn’t make them safe’. 

The ‘secret passage’ was the strangest thing at the back of the garden.  He had showed me this hidden gate, with some special release button two days before. The alley, that must have cut across the backs of many of our neighbours’ gardens, led to a small side road.  Parked immediately outside the second gate was a black Range Rover, the keys to which were hanging on the back of the gate.  It was all very cloak and dagger.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the car had some kind of laser gun attached to it like something from James Bond.  It was almost laughable.

‘If you need to run, you run.  No one knows about this, no one.  Don’t look back, don’t take anyone with you, just run if you have to.’ That’s all he said and despite me badgering him for more information, he never said anything else.  Had Silas gone delusional?  What would I need to run from?  But then Mr Curtis had said that someone had tried to kill me by rigging explosives to the coach tyres.  But who would want to kill me and why were hundreds of Guardians in charge of my protection?  Was any of that even real?  The doctors at the hospital, the ones with the grass green eyes, had said a bang on the head could cause hallucinations.  It was easier to believe in hallucinations than super strength beings and murderers.

Quinn stirring inside caught my attention through the window but he slept on.  I sighed as my eyes shifted to my reflection in the glass. 

I was quite unremarkable in many ways.  My hair was a rather boring shade of brown, my nose, I always felt, was a bit too big for my face.  I was thin, but not in a willowy and graceful way, in fact I was quite short.  I had a strange birthmark on the inside of my left elbow; it looked like a small pair of wings. I always wore long sleeved tops to cover it up as much as I could.  The only part of my body I liked was my eyes.  They were big but what I liked best about them was I could never put a colour to them.  Where other people would say they had blue eyes or brown, I could never decide.  Some days they looked grey, some they definitely looked blue, some days I’d say with absolute conviction they were green, but the next I was leaning towards hazel, or maybe a bluey green.  I loved the uniqueness of my eyes, but that was definitely the only unique thing about me. Which just made what happened that night of the crash even more unbelievable.

Although certainly not unique, I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a freak, a bit of an outcast.  I have never been one of the really cool kids, or really clever or really sporty.  I am distinctly average.   I think my friends, well my classmates, will look at our class photo, years from now, when they find it covered in dust at the back of the cupboard, and after laughing at their younger selves, they might pick out their friends and laugh at them too.  And then their eyes might drift to me, standing second from the left on the third row and they’d say, ‘who was that, what was her name, was it Eve something, Eve Jones that was it.’  Then their eyes would slide away from mine to find a much more interesting memory.  As far as my class mates are concerned, I’m just Eve, nice, plain old Eve.  But that’s what I want them to think.  I would hate them to know any different.

It had become glaringly obvious to me very early on that I was different to the other children.  I hated it.  I had stopped talking to my friends about my weekends many years ago, when my experiences stood stark apart from theirs.  Now I have to pretend that my weekends are normal. I make up tales of shopping, going to the cinema, going to London to the theatre.  How I long for those tales to be true.

I go to school, get good grades, run for the school cross country team, and read my books and play on my computer whenever I have any spare time.  But that is where the similarities end.  Where my friends spend the warmer weekends and school holidays, camping with family and riding their bikes through the woods, I have spent most of my spare time learning to shoot a multitude of frightening weapons, to fence with swords so sharp that the slightest slip would be fatal for me or my opponent.  I can speak three different languages, fluently.  Where my friends are learning how to play the flute or piano after school, I have learnt hand to hand combat and have become a black belt in three different martial art disciplines.  Where my friends have just started to learn to drive, I had already accomplished this by the time I was thirteen.  Now looking back, it kind of feels to me that I was perhaps in training for something, though I’ve never figured out what.

The only saving grace in my training was Seth was present for all of it, his Dad apparently as keen for him to learn how to kill someone as much as my Dad was for me to learn it.  Seth took to the training like a duck to water, like he had been born to fight.  The bruises on my body and the way I spent most of my younger years aching, were a clear indication, at least to me, that I wasn’t really built for such brutality. 

As I looked out into the dark garden, my heart started pounding angrily.  With the coach crash, the training, in trying to make sense of my life, ‘freak’ didn’t even come close to describing me.  The Guardians had made me an outcast.  With the training they had forced me apart from my friends.  But what was worse was I’ve never been told what it was all for.  Knowing I was different was one thing, but not knowing why was the ultimate insult. 

In the last few days I had seen the Guardians everywhere, parked outside my house, following me to the shops, over the park when I walked Quinn and so many of them at school, all silently watching me, or watching over me.  Their very presence was a painful reminder of this other world that I wasn’t allowed to know about, but somehow integral to. It annoyed me so much that they think I’m stupid enough not to notice them.  Though I was more annoyed with myself that for the last seventeen years I hadn’t.  It struck me now that the grass green eyes was the marker of these Guardians, but there had been so many of them surrounding me, that it had long since become the norm, though clearly not just for me, for everyone. 

It angered me that they held me in such reverence. How could they be so callous to let nearly sixty people die, just to preserve this stupid secret, to preserve me?  Their continual watch was oppressive, almost claustrophobic. 

I heard Quinn bark inside and I cursed inwardly that the bark would draw the attention of my Dad again.  I scrabbled back inside glaring at him treacherously but he was standing near the door, his heckles raised.  He growled then barked again.

I coughed.  The air was so dry in here.

Quinn barked again and I felt my blood turn to ice in my veins.  Something was wrong.  Was someone here?

I grabbed my baseball bat and stood in the darkness behind the door.  Running was not an option from the third floor.

Quinn was pacing in front of the door whimpering, as I coughed again.  Why was it so hard to breathe?

Suddenly I noticed the tendrils of smoke trickling through the crack at the bottom of the door and realised what Quinn had been so upset about. 

I opened the door and ran out onto the landing.  The roaring sound that filled my ears was almost deafening. Flames covered the stairs, licking up the walls in a frenzy to consume the whole house.  As I looked on in horror, at the photos that were bubbling and curling up in the heat and the carpet melting just a few feet from where I stood, Quinn tugged on my pyjama top, gently but forcibly pulling me back into the bedroom.  I was too shocked to even put up a fight.  Our only escape route had been cut off. 

I closed the door behind me and silence descended on the room. The door was thick and heavy, but it would only stop the fire for a few minutes and the smoke was already consuming me, making it difficult to breathe.  Quinn whimpered as he paced the room.  I ran to the window, but as I looked out I knew that jumping from the loft window, three storeys up, would be almost certainly fatal. 

But at least standing next to the window, I could breathe cool, clean air, though the heat of the room was intense.  I knew I only had minutes left before me and my beloved pet was burnt alive.  What of my parents, my aunt and uncle, had they managed to escape but couldn’t get to me?  I turned to get Quinn to the window so he could breathe too, but through the smoke I couldn’t see him. His whimpering was coming from the far side of the room.

‘Quinn!  Come on, here boy.’  I knelt trying to see his shadow in the gloom.

Quinn’s whimpering suddenly stopped and I wondered if this was the end, if the smoke had already consumed my dog and I would soon succumb too.  I suddenly decided that I wasn’t going to sit here and die, I would try to escape, and if I died trying that was going to be better than dying whilst doing nothing. 

I stood and as I cast desperately around for Quinn one last time, a shape appeared from the haze and I realised with a new sick horror, that I wasn’t alone. 

There was a man in the room with me, a young man I had never seen before.  The bedroom door was still closed so where the hell had he come from?  He moved towards me.  I backed away from him, willing to take on the fire rather than comprehend where this man had come from and for what reason.  He grabbed my arm to stop me from running back out the bedroom and I instinctively fought him off.  I had spent my life learning martial arts and when it mattered most, my body reacted without thinking.  He clearly knew martial arts too, as he easily deflected my first few punches.  I didn’t have time to get into a proper fight.  Desperately I kicked him in the shins and as he staggered back I flew out onto the landing. 

The fire had reached the top of the stairs now.

‘Eve, please, I’m trying to help,’ said the man from my room, approaching me slowly like you might approach a wild animal.  ‘Don’t be afraid.’  His voice was croaky, like he hadn’t spoken for some time.  His eyes were so familiar, deep pools of melted chocolate.  I’d never seen him before, I would have remembered someone so beautiful, but somehow I knew that face.  A distant memory clawed at my mind, but it was gone a second later.

I backed against the wall as he came closer and he reached out tentatively to take my arm.  The stench of petrol hit my nose and I knew with horrifying clarity that this was no accident.

‘Quinn!’ yelled a voice from below and the man with me looked down through the flames. 

‘Eli, I’ve got her.  What the hell’s going on?’

I stared at the man in shock.  Quinn.  This was Quinn?

‘Quinn?’ He looked back at me. ‘You’re…my dog?’ Even with the heat almost burning my skin, with mere minutes left before I died, I was still embarrassed about voicing my insanity out loud.  He was tall, with shaggy blond hair, the exact colour of my dog’s fur.  The brown eyes were so familiar because I had stared into them for the last seventeen years.

The man nodded, reluctantly.  ‘Yes, I’ll explain everything later, but now we need to get you out of here.’

I shrunk back against the wall.  ‘You’re my dog?!’

Suddenly the air spat out another man at our side.  He was huge and towered over Quinn, ferociously.  Muscles seemingly screamed from every part of him.  He had the grass green eyes of the Guardians but they were fiercely angry filled with hate.  Uncle Silas’s warning came back to haunt me, ‘not everyone with green eyes is safe’.  For reasons I didn’t know, I didn’t trust this man.

‘Eli, thank god!’ muttered Quinn. ‘Where’s David and Marie?’

My parents.  Eli didn’t say anything but the look that he gave Quinn sent ice to my heart.  Something was very wrong. 

Had Eli started the fire?  Was he here to kill me? There was a smell of petrol about him too.

‘My parents, are they here, we need to help them,’ I said.

‘There’s no one here Eve, only you and Quinn.’

‘But…’

Without another word Eli grabbed me up into his arms and marched back into the bedroom.

‘I’ll come back for you in a second,’ he said to Quinn as he walked purposefully to the window.

‘Don’t worry about me, I can just fly down.’

‘I think seeing you naked once you’ve shifted is one shock too many for her tonight.’

Eli knelt and gracefully stepped out onto the roof and without hesitating he leapt off into the darkness.

I screamed, knowing we were both plummeting to our deaths, and braced myself for the impact that never came. 

Seconds later I felt the man’s hold lessen and I was placed on the floor.  I stood in horror as he leapt back up in the air, landing easily on the roof.  He ducked back through the window again to get Quinn.

Blood tearing through my veins I eyed the secret gate at the back of the garden.  Eli couldn’t be trusted.  My dog that had spent every night since I was little lying on my bed was actually a man.  I felt sick and I knew it was time to run. 

Without looking back I fled.  I hit the button behind the bird house and tore through the gate that flew open.  Silas had seen this coming and I thanked him silently for the precautions he had put in place.

‘NO!’ I heard Eli roar behind me. 

I hit the other button to release the second gate, grabbed the keys and was out on the street a second later.  I jumped into the car, started the engine, slammed it into first and flooring the accelerator I shot up the road. 

To my immense surprise, by the time I had reached the end of the road, a silver Land Rover was closing the gap between us.  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw Eli leap onto the side of the Land Rover like he was windsurfing.  The silver car didn’t even slow down as Eli opened the door and climbed into the passenger seat.

I pushed the car to go faster.  As I approached the traffic lights at the end of the road, the red light threatened me to stop, but I shifted the car into fifth gear and sped through them.  The car behind me didn’t stop either, easily keeping up with my renewed speed.  I turned left into a smaller side road and then turned right and right again to head back onto the main road, in an attempt to shake them off, but they were so close they didn’t lose sight of me for a second.  Speeding along the dark and empty streets, the silver car was suddenly joined by a police car, blue lights flashing furiously as it drew level with me. 

How could I explain this to the police?  ‘Hi officer.  The man chasing me in the car behind has super strength, I think he started the fire in my house to kill me and for reasons I don’t understand, this is the second attempt on my life in the last week.  There’s also a shape shifter in on this madness and he’s slept on my bed for the last seventeen years.  If you can find them there are Guardians somewhere who are here to protect me.  I’m sure they’ll explain everything to you, or maybe not as they certainly won’t tell me anything.’ 

I hesitated for a moment.  Was Eli one of my Guardians?  He had rescued me from the fire.  But his eyes had been filled with so much anger.  And then there was Quinn, my dog, definitely not a Guardian, he wasn’t big enough nor did he have the grass green eyes.  Eli knew him, were they in on this together?  Silas had always looked at Quinn with hatred and suspicion.  Had he known that he wasn’t really a dog at all?  I looked across at the policeman who was waving at me to pull over, but as we drove the street lights lit up the grass green eyes of the officer and I knew he was one of them too.   I slowed a bit; if he was a Guardian he was here to protect me, to save me from Eli. I looked back towards the policeman and was thrown by the look of furious hatred from him. The police were with Eli, they wanted me dead.

I put my foot back down on the accelerator again and took off through the town.  The cars followed, only inches from me.  Soon the town was left behind and I was speeding through the quiet country lanes.  A third car, a large red Audi, pulled out in front of me, slowing down, forcing me to do the same.  The patrol car drew level with me, boxing me in and the sense of claustrophobia added to my fear.  There was no escape. 

The police car slammed into my car, causing me to wobble dangerously as I fought to gain control.  The occupants of the red car were clearly not happy with this and swerved in front of the police car, taking out half of its bonnet as it did so.  The police car didn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Taking advantage of this distraction I veered violently to the left, I swerved off the road and ploughed across a field.  The car responded beautifully, it was built to be off road.  Unfortunately so was the silver car that was still following me.  The two other cars chased me too.  I’d lost their immediate proximity but they were soon catching me up.  I tore down the hill, flooring the accelerator.  There was another road at the bottom and I aimed for it. 

As the hill flattened out and I neared the road, the moonlight glinted off the surface and my heart crashed into my stomach as I realised it was actually a river that I was about to drive into.  There was no time to stop, and as the car hit a small bank and took off, I had time to pray that my uncle had fitted the car with some kind of wings.  The river was easily six or seven metres wide and I held my breath as I waited for the car to crash into the icy water.  To my upmost surprise the car landed slickly on the other side and I swerved quickly to avoid the approaching trees.  I sped along the river, my three car entourage keeping level with me on the opposite side; clearly none of them were stupid or brave enough to try jumping it like I had done. 

Suddenly realising the river had given me the advantage, I slammed on the brakes.  The other cars were travelling so fast that when they all did the same they stopped a few hundred yards up the field from where I had come to a stop.  The policeman was already out the car and in an impossible move leapt high in the air and landed on my side of the river.

I made to get out the car but Eli was already by my side, appearing from the air.  He slammed the door shut, his weight buckling the car door and breaking the glass.  Other men leapt across the river as easily as if they had stepped across a small puddle. But instead of running for me, they ran for the policeman.  My Guardians?  But was Eli one of them? Not waiting to find out, I scrambled to the other side.  I leapt out the car and burst into the woods, running as fast as I could through the darkness.  I was a fast runner; this much I knew, and with the adrenaline coursing through me, I pushed myself faster than I had ever ran before.

I wove through the trees and jumped over bushes.  The trees whipped against my face, the fingers of the branches grabbing my clothes and pulling me back, but I ran on.  I leapt over a small stream and scrambled up the bank on the other side.  I paused for a moment, listening to see if I had anyone following me and despite the speed I had torn through the woods I could distinctly hear at least two different people fast approaching my location.  This was hopeless.  There was never going to be any escape from them.   

I could feel the anger, the shock, the fear boiling inside my chest, a burning ball of rage that seemed to suddenly consume me.  My fingers twitched and for a second a flash of blue light seemed to flicker in my hand.  But I was distracted from this as the next second two men broke the trees on the opposite bank of the stream, Eli was one of them.

‘NO!’ I screamed in fury, instinctively putting my hand up.  A blue bolt of lightning shot from my hand and exploded in a sphere across the stream.  The men were blown back from the force of the explosion and I staggered away from what I had done, not sure how I’d even done it.  I ran on into the darkness, but running for a different reason now, running to get away from the shock of what had just happened. 

With disbelief I heard the men still running after me.  I looked back over my shoulder to see how close they were, when suddenly I slammed into a body so hard I would have fallen over if a pair of strong hands hadn’t held me.  I screamed and struggled against my captor but the grip only tightened.  A hand pressed over my mouth.

3.   I think I’m losing my mind

‘Evie, Evie, it’s me.’

I stopped struggling immediately, recognising the voice of Seth, plus he was the only one that called me Evie.  His hands released me.  ‘Seth?’ I whispered. 

‘Yes,’ Seth whispered back, theatrically. ‘Why are we whispering?’

I was very aware that the woods around us were silent.  I couldn’t hear the footsteps behind me anymore.  What did that mean?  Had they given up? Unlikely.  But maybe they didn’t want to show themselves in front of Seth.  They would be watching, veiled in the darkness.

‘Seth what the hell are you doing here?’ I hissed. 

He laughed. ‘I could ask you the same thing.’

His laugh sounded so good.  I wanted to wrap myself in his arms and cry, but it was far from over yet.  I could see the gleam of something metallic behind him.  ‘Is that your bike?’ I asked.

‘Yeah.’

‘Get me out of here and I’ll explain everything.’

‘Your chauffeur awaits m’lady.’  He motioned toward the bike like a game show host showing off a fabulous prize. He hopped on and I threw myself on behind him, holding tight to his waist as he kick started it and took off through the woods.  He skilfully manoeuvred through the trees at some speed.  I knew the men would be following us, but maybe Seth could lose them on his bike. 

‘Seth faster!’ I yelled over the noise of the engine and I smiled as the bike sped up. 

We hit the road a while later and I kept an eye on the woods behind me, waiting for the men to break the trees.  But as we rounded the bend and the trees disappeared from view, the road behind us stayed empty. 

‘Where to?’ Seth called. ‘We can go to my house, my Dad’s away.’

‘That sounds good to me,’ I yelled back.  He nodded and now the open road was in front of us, he gunned the bike even faster.  I yelled with relief as the wind tore through my hair.

As I held him tightly, pressing my face against his jacket, his warmth and familiar woody smell calmed me.  Seth Hamilton. I thought about my life with him, how he had always been there for me, even now when I needed him most.  I had known him ever since I had started school at the age of four.  The first day I couldn’t find my lunchbox, he had split his lunch with me.  A few days later I had fallen off the climbing frame and he had caught my leg before I had hit the ground.  This had kind of set a precedent over the next few weeks.  I’d fall over on the playground and he’d be there to pick me up.  When one of the other children was mean to me, he punched them in the face.  But he had seemed to do all this with a weary acceptance.   One day I had accidentally spilt my milk over him.  Seth, dripping from head to toe, had laughed loudly, mostly at my expression of horror.  We had been best friends ever since.

He slowed down as he took some small side roads to get back to his house.

‘What’s going on Evie?’

I felt my body tremble as the adrenaline finally started to leave it, though partly it was from the cold; I was in my pyjamas on the back of a motorbike in the middle of a winter’s night.

‘I don’t know.  Do you know anything about Guardians?’

He shook his head and I sighed.  That was going to be a long explanation.

‘I think someone’s trying to kill me, either that or I’m losing my mind.’

We drove alongside a bank of trees that separated us from Seth’s house.  I could see the houses in his road, sleeping peacefully in the darkness, but to my surprise his house was lit up like a beacon.  There were cars parked outside and lots of people standing on the grass and in the open door.

‘Is Trey having some kind of party?’ I asked.  I’d only met his brother a few times; he was a lot older than Seth and had more important things to do than hang out with us when we were kids.

Seth didn’t answer, I could see him slowing down and looking as well.

Suddenly I saw the silver Land Rover through the trees, the red car with its back smashed, its door open as the occupants leaned on the outside.  Eli was there as was Quinn.

‘God Seth, they’re here, they’re looking for us.  Quick, get out of here.’

He hesitated.  ‘Eve…’

Eli turned to look at us through the trees and as one all the people standing around him stopped talking and turned to look at us too.

‘Seth, go, for god’s sake go!’

He turned the bike around and accelerated down the road.

I watched the people through the trees.  Eli and a few others leapt back into the silver car and the car took off up the road after us.

‘We have to get off the road,’ I yelled.  ‘They’re coming after us.’

Seth took me at my word and almost immediately took a tiny dirt track through some houses and soon we were cutting across a field, heading up a hill and back into the trees.  The field stayed empty behind us.  The Land Rover was too big to go down the dirt track.

Seth seemed to know exactly where he was heading as he picked his way through the trees and suddenly a huge white house appeared before us.

‘It’s a friend’s,’ he yelled over the engine.  ‘He’s not here, but I have the keys.’ He stopped the bike outside, killing the engine and silence descended on us.  ‘We’ll be safe here, the others won’t find us.’

The door flew open as we approached and as soon as we crossed over the threshold, it slammed behind us and the lights came on.

I stood with my mouth open and he shrugged with embarrassment.

‘Sensors.  Cain always was a bit of a show off. Look at the state of you, come on let’s get you sorted.’ He took my hand and led me through to the kitchen.

He lifted me easily onto the kitchen worktop and then turned to fill a bowl with water.  I watched him as he moved round the kitchen.  He had shot up and out over the last few years.  He towered over the other children in our class, easily well over six foot, and he was so broad and muscular.  His skin had the exotic look of an all year round Mediterranean tan, he had dark eyes to match his hair and the longest eyelashes of anyone I knew. 

He turned back to face me, dipping a cloth in a bowl of warm water and wiped it gently over my face. 

‘Seth what were you doing in the woods at three in the morning?’

‘Riding my bike. I love riding it in the dark; it just adds a sense of thrill to it.  It allows me to forget everything with the wind in my face.’

Absently, I took his free hand, feeling the strength that was in his fingers, in his palm.  ‘I envy you, I wish I could forget everything right now, wish I could wipe my brain clean.’

‘What were you doing in the woods Evie?  You shouldn’t be out alone in the middle of the night, there are a lot of unsavoury characters in this world.’

‘If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.’

‘Eve, you’re my best friend, of course I’ll believe you.’ He dipped the cloth back in the bowl again.  The water swirled with the blood and dirt he had wiped off my face.  Like my brain, a swirl of chaos and confusion.

I looked at my friend and shook my head sadly. ‘I think I’m losing my mind.’

He lifted my hand and started wiping the blood off my palm.  I suddenly pulled my hand back, remembering the lightning that had shot out of it.  Surely there should be some scars from the heat of the lightning, but there was nothing.  None of this made any sense.

‘Eve?’

I sighed and then made up my mind.  I could trust him, I knew I could.  I took a deep breath and told him everything, about the fire, about Quinn and Eli.  I told him about the coach crash, about me holding the coach, the constant vigilance of the Guardians and the lightning that had shot from my hands.  And Seth listened without interrupting and when I finished I felt so much lighter. Then I waited for his reaction.

‘Eve…..this is surreal, are you seriously telling me there are really shape shifters out there, and beings with super strength that are only here to protect you?  I’m not being funny or anything love, you know I love you, but what’s so special about you?’

‘I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but I’m not making this up, I swear. You saw them too, outside your house.’

‘I’m guessing they were the police, they must have traced my reg plates.  Look Evie, these incidents, the fire and the coach crash were both very traumatic.  It’s perfectly reasonable that you had stress induced hallucinations.  But now you’re taking this too far, you’re running from the police, you’re running through the woods in the middle of the night in your pyjamas, and now you’re imagining that you have, what, magical powers?  Eve, maybe you need some help.’

I let my head fall into my hands, trying to make sense of it all.  I was not surprised that he had this reaction.  It was all completely unbelievable.  I barely believed it myself. 

But then I noticed something, which made my heart leap.  Seth’s pyjama bottoms were sticking out the bottom of his jeans.  Why had he not got changed before he went riding his bike at three in the morning?  Why had he been in woods that were miles from his house, when he had perfectly good woods surrounding his own home?  How had he been in the woods, by sheer coincidence, at the exact place and time that I was?  All through my life, the Guardians had never let me out of their sight for as much as a minute.  That must have been them in the woods and if it was, why would they suddenly let me go when Seth turned up?  Unless they knew I was safe, unless… I was with a Guardian?

‘Oh Seth, no,’ I looked at him in despair, a huge sense of disappointment and loss flooding through me. ‘Not you too.’

‘What?’

‘You’re one of them aren’t you?’

‘Eve, have you lost your mind.  I’m a Guardian? Is that what you’re saying? I’m a being with super strength? I can barely open a jar of jam. This is insane.  You’re really worrying me.’ He looked at me incredulously.

Fear and anger erupted through me.  How far did this deceit stretch? When was I finally going to get some answers?

‘Seth please.  You’re my friend, my best friend, if I can’t trust you who can I trust?’

He was silent for a moment, as he looked at me thoughtfully. ‘Evie, you’re scaring me now.’

I felt angry tears pricking my eyes.  I pushed him away and made to walk out the house.  I had to be alone now.  I had to have time to think.  Silas was right; I really couldn’t trust anyone.

He put a hand out to stop me ‘Evie, wait!’

I turned back and he paced away, suddenly nervous. 

‘I’m not a Guardian,’ he blurted out.

‘Seth…’

‘No listen.  I’m not technically a Guardian although I have the strength and speed of them.  I’m half human as well, which makes me mortal.’

You can buy The Sentinel here http://amzn.to/1giKNVp

And here is a lovely review from Megan in the Sunshine’s Blog

Eve is a normal regular teenager…or so she thinks. After Eve is rescued from a horrific crash on a school trip, she discovers that her teachers have super human speed and strength that they used to save her. But the shocks don’t stop there, as Eve then discovers that people around her – teachers, neighbours, even her family and friends are Guardians with super strength that have been sent to protect her. And they all have one final goal in mind: that Eve must be kept alive at all costs. As Eve starts to make her way forward with this new knowledge, and her best friend Seth by her side, she begins to learn to control her powers as the prophecies predicting her future grow ever closer, but will she be strong enough to fulfil her destiny when the time comes?

I was gushing about this book as I was reading with a few friends and one happened to mention that fantasy confuses them and they wouldn’t even know where to begin, and let me just say that this book is genuinely SO easy to get into, as you as the reader are learning everything at the same time as Eve and so it is like you’re going on the journey with her, and Holly has done a fantastic job of introducing everything at the right time, so before you know it you are swept up into this new thrilling, exciting and at the same time terrifying world that Eve is now experiencing. So if you’re wary of the genre then I really urge you to try this because Holly has written a truly fantastic book!

Eve is such a great character, I warmed to her straight away and I particularly liked that she is feisty and so determined – I was cheering her on all the way. And Seth…oh my you should read this book for Eve and Seth alone that’s how amazing their interactions are with each other! I lived for the moments that they were together on the page and to me they are the PERFECT couple! Seth is obviously SO DEVOTED to Eve and OH HOW I SWOONED at how true his love is for her and how he would do anything for her!

The characters are all brilliantly written and they all had their own unique ways about them and their own `voices’. They were all so likeable, especially the Guardians who have pledged to protect Eve, as their personalities really shone through. I really like Eli, at first he seemed very guarded but I quickly grew to love the way he protected Eve and how serious he was about his role, I know if I were ever in Eve’s place I’d want someone like Eli standing beside me. Lucas was another favourite of mine, his humour was fantastic and I found myself snorting with laughter and smirking along with him! The Guardians as a whole felt like close friends, I created such a bond with them and I was so emotionally involved in their mission to protect Eve that at a few times I got quite emotional, tears welled up in my eyes and I threw my fist in the air, cheering them on!

There were also many moments with the characters that I was not expecting, and let me tell you, you are in for some shockers! Oh I WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT SO MUCH but I can’t. But it completely threw me!

If you’re reading this now you need to buy this book – IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Okay so it won’t suddenly change your life in a way that you’ll win the lottery or anything, but you’ll be so absorbed in this novel and connected to the characters and afterwards you won’t be able to stop talking about it, or gushing about it, in my case!

The Sentinel is a fast-paced, thrilling book that is impossible to put down! Like the way that the Guardians are pulled towards Eve, you will be pulled in from the very first page and taken on a roller-coaster ride of friendship, loyalty, courage, epic battle scenes that would actually be cinema worthy, and easily the MOST BEAUTIFUL love story I’ve read in a long time! And do you know what the best bit is? There are more books to come which I am SO excited for! I already have so much that I’m wishing happens and I can not wait to read about the next part.

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