Home > The Raven Four (The Raven Four #1)

The Raven Four (The Raven Four #1)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

Prologue

Six years earlier…

Padded walls surround me. I’m trapped. Not just in this room. I feel trapped in my own mind, stuck in a place splattered with blood, pain, and torment, all of which were put there by me. At least that’s what the police are saying. The doctors here have been trying to figure that out.

“So you can’t remember anything about that day?” the doctor asks me.

He’s sitting in a chair in the doorway and is holding a handheld device, jotting down notes while he tries to pick apart my brain. He’s under strict orders not to let me out of this room, which has been my home since the day I was hauled in here, covered in blood, completely numb inside.

Completely in shock about the blood staining my hands.

I shake my head, hugging my knees against my chest. “I can’t remember anything other than when the police showed up.”

He taps his stylus against the screen of the handheld device, studying me way too closely for my liking. But he does that a lot. It used to not bother me, but then the incident happened, and now I wish he’d stop looking at me at all.

“Why do you think that is?” he asks. “Or do you really remember and you’re just too afraid to tell the truth? I know that’s how it works sometimes. Fear is potent like that. It can make us do things we never imagined we’d do. Is that what happened that day, Ravenlee? Were you afraid?”

Fear pulsates through me.

Blood on my hands.

Blood everywhere.

But I feel nothing.

See nothing.

“You are nothing,” he whispers in my ear. “Remember that if you ever think about this again.”

“I’m not afraid of you,” I say. I can’t see his face, but I can smell him—smell the blood on him—

I blink from the memories. “I’m not afraid.”

The doctor studies me, and I can’t tell if I’ve failed or passed this test.

Am I ever getting out of here?

Finally, he stands up. “Your aunt and uncle are going to be here to pick you up tomorrow.”

“Wait… I’m getting out of here?” I ask, surprised.

From what I understood and what everyone kept telling me, I was going to be locked up for a very long time.

He nods, tucking the stylus into the front pocket of his shirt. “Some circumstances in the case have changed. The witness they thought they had is no longer a witness. And some of the evidence the police thought they had against you no longer exists.”

Weird. But everything about the last handful of months has been weird.

Starting with…

Blood on my hands.

I yank myself from the memory, refusing to think about that day. “You said my aunt and uncle were coming to get me?”

He nods, stepping into the room. “From what I understand, you’re going to go live with them. I think they’re your only living relatives. Am I right?”

Frowning, I nod. I barely know my dad’s brother and wife. Have only met them a couple of times, and from what I could tell, my dad and him didn’t get along very well. My mom wasn’t a fan of them either.

My frown deepens.

Everything is in the past tense.

Stop thinking about it.

“Well, I hope you’ll continue your therapy wherever you end up.” He stays inside my room as he shuts the door.

My guard instantly goes up.

The last time he shut the door…

He smiles at me. “Now, little bird, how about a proper goodbye.”

I shut my eyes as he reaches me. I shut down.

Just like the day my parents died, my mind shuts off.

Blanks out.

And in the end, I remember hardly anything.

But maybe that’s for the better.

Chapter One

A lot of people say my name has a magical sound to it. I guess it does.

I used to love my name. Ravenlee Wilowwynter, Raven for short. It’s different. Unique. Pretty even. But it also has a deeper meaning. Or, well, an actual raven does.

Bad luck.

That’s what those birds represent. And right after I turned twelve, I realized this. Like those dark-feathered birds, I became bad luck. Cursed even. Because I’m the reason my parents died. I’m the reason they’re buried beneath the ground. I’m the reason they aren’t here anymore.

These guilty thoughts creep through my mind as I stand in front of the mirror, examining my long, dark hair that looks similar to the dark shade of a raven’s feather—midnight black, with hints of violet and blue when it catches the light. I can’t help questioning if I used to be a raven in another life. Perhaps that’s why I bring bad luck wherever I go.

“Ravenlee Wilowwynter! Get your butt down here,” my aunt Beth shouts from downstairs. “You don’t need to make everyone else late to your first day of school because you can’t get your lazy butt moving.”

My initial instinct is to throw back a snarky retort, but I know better than to do that while my uncle’s home. So, I take a deep breath before calling out, “I’m just about ready.”

She doesn’t say anything to me directly, but I hear her tell my uncle, “That damn girl is really getting on my nerves. She’s always late. And don’t even get me started on how much trouble she gets into. And the mouth on her … I don’t understand why we can’t kick her butt out when she turns eighteen. I don’t think I can put up with her crap until graduation.”

“I made an agreement when I took her in, Beth. She’s going to live with us until she graduates high school, and that’s final,” my uncle Don replies in a cold tone.

He’s my dad’s brother but, where my dad was a nice, caring man, my uncle is frigid and angry all the time, especially with me. Although, there are occasions when he seems almost thrilled to be around me, but that’s never a good thing.

“Now, go make me my breakfast. It’s my first day, and I’m not going to be late.”

I roll my eyes as my aunt says, “Of course, dear.”

My aunt usually does what she’s told, at least when it comes to my uncle. She stays home, where she cooks, cleans, and has dinner on the table every night when he gets home from work. I swear it’s like they still think it’s the 1950s or something. If I didn’t despise my aunt so much, I might try to encourage her not to be such a doormat. But if I tried to tell her that, not only would my aunt ground my ass, my uncle would smack me a good one.

He’s been doing that kind of shit since I moved in with them and their daughter right after my parents died. At first, I put up a fight, trying to battle back. But a shit-ton of good that did. I quickly learned that fighting back meant more hits. So, I learned to swallow my pride and keep my mouth shut when I’m around my uncle. All bets are off, though, with everyone else.

I wish I had another choice. Wish I could turn him in. I thought about doing so when he first started smacking me around. The problem is, he’s a cop. And I’m the rebel piece of shit niece they so kindly took in after she did horrible things. At least, that’s how everyone sees it.

And I have a feeling things with my uncle are about to get even worse now that he’s officially the sheriff on Honeyton, a small town that we moved to just a handful of days ago, today.

The place is out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills that give a sense of seclusion and friendliness. Well, that's the bullshit my uncle told us when he announced we were moving here. Personally, I'm not buying it. I took a walk around town yesterday, and the looks I got from the townspeople were less than friendly. I could practically smell the judgment and snobbery lacing the crisp fall air and feel my impending outcast title waiting for me today when I enter the hallways of my new school. I do look kind of intimidating, though.

But it’s cool. I can handle it. I can and have dealt with a lot worst. In fact, I'm used to being the outcast. I've been one since I moved in with my uncle, aunt, and their daughter, Dixie May.

Dixie fucking May. Though she’s my cousin and is the same age as me, we have no other similarities. If I’m a reincarnated raven, then Dixie May is probably a hawk, which I once read are supposed to be predators to ravens and can represent danger. Honestly, from what I’ve read, ravens can usually only fend off a hawk if there’s a group of them, also known as a conspiracy. I like the name conspiracy better, probably because I mentally conspire all the time to take Dixie May down. But I’ve never had any real friends, at least long-lasting ones, so, more than likely, that’s not going to happen. Not that I just let her walk all over me. I don’t at all. But Dixie May is the most manipulative, fake, and devious person I’ve crossed paths with. She’s also very pretty and charming when she needs to be, except at home where she acts like a spoiled brat. She also has ammunition against me—knows the reason I came to live with her and her family all those years ago. And when she told everyone at our old school about it, I instantly became labeled the freak that people not only despised but feared.

“Oh my God, I’m so sick of these damn boxes,” Dixie May complains from her bedroom across the hall from mine. “I can’t find anything at all. And my favorite pair of shoes are missing. I bet the movers stole them.”

I roll my eyes. The movers were two big dudes who seemed nice enough, and in no way, shape, or form seemed like the kind of people who’d steal designer shoes. Not to mention, one single pair of shoes.

“I’ll call and make a complaint,” my aunt calls out to her.

“What’s a freakin’ complaint going to do?” Dixie May whines. “It won’t get me my shoes back. And they were my favorite pair.”

“I’m so sorry, sweetie,” my aunt tells her. “If you want, we can drive over to the city this weekend and go shopping.”

“Fine. But you better buy me a couple of extra pairs in case this happens again,” Dixie May warns.

“Of course,” my aunt says. “I’ll even buy you a few new outfits if you want.”

I’d roll my eyes again, but at this point, I’m starting to worry that they’ll get stuck in my head. For reals, though. Dixie May has so many clothes that my aunt and uncle had to add an extra closet to her room before we could move into this house.

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