(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Sam was written by M.M. Chromy. To stay caught up with these interviews, be sure to SUBSCRIBE)
Xavier’s barn was a great deal fancier than Andrew’s had been. The stalls were crafted from high gloss oak boards, framed in wrought iron, and the doors were affixed on well oiled tracks — so they slid open instead of swinging out. The name of each horse was engraved on a solid brass name plate mounted to their stall. No stray hay, shavings, or dirt marred the double-wide aisle.
Matching wrought iron chandeliers hung interspaced with large Victorian fans from the vaulted ceiling above. The paddles whipped the hot humid Florida air, offering some relief in the heat. As it was midday, the lights were off, allowing sunlight to stream through the stall windows, illuminating the inside.
A few horses slept standing in the corner of their stalls, necks lowered and heads drooped. Others tried to pick fights with their neighbor by kicking at the dividing wall between them. Occasionally, an animal would let out a whinny, which its friends would answer from outside in a pasture. For the most part, the barn was settled and peaceful. And there was no one around save for one girl, Samantha Fife.
She sat indian-style in the middle of the concrete aisle just outside the tack room door, pieces of a bridle strewn around her on a towel. She clutched a narrow strip of leather, intent on scrubbing it with a sponge. Occasionally, she would pause her tack-cleaning venture to speak to the chestnut horse to her left. His petite Thoroughbred head hung over his stall door as he regarded Sam with intelligent eyes. Voices at the end of the barn caused both horse and girl to look up at two approaching figures.
“Nigel!” Sam belted out in a false British accent. “How are you doing today, my ol’ chap?”
The eighty-two year old Englishman regarded Sam with a frown. “Insolent child,” he muttered.
Nigel cleared his throat and nodded to the woman at his side.
“Oh,” she gasped. “Oh, oh, oh! Was that today? Yes? Yes, it was. My bad.”
Turning to the guest, Nigel mumblered softly, “Best of luck, Ms. Blanchard. You’ll need it with that one.”
“I heard that,” Sam interjected. “You love me and you know it.”
“Good day!” he snapped and marched out of the barn.
Kelly smiled at the interaction then fixed her eyes on Sam. “I must say, my last interview was also with a Sam but he was a cranky, embittered old man. It was an interesting conversation. It’s a delight to meet you, Sam.” Kelly extended her hand for Sam to shake and then she looked at the horse. “Is that Max?”
“Ummmm,” Sam stalled, then wiped her hand on her shirt before taking Kelly’s hand. “Sorry. I can grab you a chair from the tack room. Yes, this is Max.”
“I’m all right with standing.” Kelly smiled at her. “I like to pace around a bit when chatting anyway.” Then she looked back at Max then to Sam. “I understand you two have a mental link? How does that work?”
“Super. I’m going to stay down here.” Sam went back to a piece of the bridle she’d been scrubbing. “You know, I’ve never really thought of how, I’ve always just taken it for what it’s worth.” She turned to the red horse glaring at her. “Oh, for Pete’s sake really?”
“He wants me to tell you that he’s pleased to meet you.” Sam rolled her eyes. “Anyway, when I became a Warrior, he became linked to me. I share thoughts with him. And vice versa. I can summon him from a distance. I can see what he sees. And all that jazz.”
“That’s totally awesome!” Kelly grinned then looked at Max. “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well. Although, Sam, I’m a bit jealous of your link. I’d love it with my animals.” But then she shifted the conversation to more of the topic at hand. “So, you’re a Warrior. How did that come to be?”
Kelly tried to remember if she had been told beforehand, but she couldn’t recall the details.
Sam raised an eyebrow. “I was 17 and Andrew threw this at me,” she pulled out a two inch skeleton key at the end of a leather necklace. “It had no power, but all Warriors have one. I got the key. Bang. Poof. Boom. I underwent this transformation with light. Lit me up like a Christmas tree. But it wasn’t harmful.”
Well, that was an interesting description.
“Did Andrew give you any warning at all or did he literally just throw it at you?” Kelly tried to imagine him literally just tossing it at her without any prior information.
That would be shocking.
“Wellllll,” Sam grinned, “It had been raining and Leigh and I were running balls to the wall to get to our cars. We worked for Andrew at his church then. Man, feels like a million years ago. The crazy old man calls out our names from the front steps as we were halfway there. Naturally, we turn around and then, wow, a key is hurtling towards my head.”
“No heads up, no warning whatsoever?” Kelly had to chuckle. “Wow, how considerate of him. But did you know about the Warriors and such before Andrew threw the key at you?”
“Nope. Nada. And we had no clue. It’s kinda like fight club. The number one rule is you don’t talk about fight club.” Sam shrugged.
“So you were literally thrown into it. Wow.” Kelly shook her head, just trying to imagine it, and then she fixed her eyes on Sam. “So how did you adjust? And Leigh was there too, right? She’s also a Warrior too, right?”
Again, Kelly couldn’t recall these little details. It’d been a long day for her, and she had a headache, but she assumed if Andrew threw a key at Sam in front of Leigh, and if the Warriors were secrets, then Leigh finding out about the Warriors was an exception.
“Let me back up a little. Andrew threw two keys. One at me, the other at Leigh. I left out that we caught it… supernaturally. Then Light raced from heaven and did its mojo. I mean, if I was talking about demons and Warriors and such with normal people, I think they’d want to medicate me. It’s just safer if they don’t know what lurks out there. Plus, Andrew was like almost 300 years old. You don’t go around spouting that kinda stuff, I guess.”
“Okay, that makes sense.” Kelly nodded then shifted the topic. “So I understand your reunion with Harper was…not pretty. What happened?” Kelly raised her brows as she folded her arms and leaned her shoulder against a support beam.
Sam stopped her scrubbing and glanced up at Kelly. “How do you know all these things? It’s like my life was written in a book, or something. Have you been talking to DH?”
Sam glanced at Max and grumbled. “He told me to stay on topic.” She jerked a thumb in his direction. “You see what I have to deal with?” Sam then took a deep breath. “He walked up behind me after a run. I was stretching in the gym. I may or may not have threw him to the ground.”
Kelly smiled when she asked if her life was written in a book. If she only knew. When Sam told her about her reunion with Harper and having met Harper herself, Kelly had to grin. “That’s impressive. I bet he was stunned!”
Sam scratched her head, messing up her ponytail even more. “He was a little angry. I think. I was. I mean, Harper Tate shows up out of nowhere after six years of being gone, like he’d never been in my life. Besides, he followed suit and used my shifting momentum to throw me on the floor, too”
Kelly chuckled. “So you two fought it out. Did you realize it was him, or were you angry that he had left your life to start with?” She raised her brows.
Sam twisted her lips for a moment. “I knew it was him the moment I stood up and met his eyes. Nobody has eyes like his. They are blue fire.” She then ducked her head. “I was angry at… myself. A non-Warrior got the jump on a Warrior.” Sam furrowed her brows. “But then when I realized it was him. All the memories and twelve year old feels I’d stuffed way down boiled out like a freaking artery wound.”
Kelly sensed she touched upon something here. “Okay, so you had feelings for Harper back then?”
“No,” Sam replied much to quickly. Max snorted at her and shook his head. “Fine. Maybe I did.”
Kelly nodded. “So what happened when he left?”
“He ripped my heart out?” Sam shrugged. “He and Andrew got in a really bad argument. Which wasn’t out of place for them at the time. He packed his bag and as he was walking to his truck, I begged him not to leave.” Sam lifted a finger. “Pause. My parents both had full time jobs and during the summer, Judy and Andrew watched me until I was picked up. I got close to Harper because… he was the only other kid to play with.” She dropped her hand. “Harper said some… stuff. When he left.”
Kelly frowned as she listened to this. “It sounds like there’s a lot of unresolved issues here. Have you two talked it out — other than the initial fight?” She arched a brow.
Sam stared at Kelly with sad eyes. “He won’t talk about it. Or whatever the heck he’d be doing in before he showed back up. I keep asking. I keep pressing. But he just comes back with smartass answers.”
“Have you two spoken since I spoke with Harper?”
“Yes, and he was uncharacteristically happy. Didn’t talk about it. Said something about a new beginning? Did he….” Sam threw a hand toward her horse as if to tell him to shut up, “…say anything about, you know, me?”
“Yep, as a matter of fact he did.” Kelly grinned. “But…it’s really not my place to say anything. He should be the one to talk with you.” Kelly thought about what Gavin said about Sam, too, and decided to try something. “So what happened with Camden?”
“What happen… with… Camden.” Sam gripped the piece of leather so tightly her knuckles turned white. “He killed Andrew. He betrayed me. He freaking made me trust him. I LET HIM KISS ME. He… he.. he…” She had no idea what to say, all she saw was a red haze. Then she whispered, “I’ve never wanted to kill someone so bad.”
“But you didn’t.” Kelly pointed out — totally unfazed by Sam’s outburst. “Why not?” She tilted her head to a side.
Sam looked up at Kelly, shame written on her face. “Harper stopped me. But I bet he didn’t tell you I pointed my other gun at him, too. I was maybe a little crazy at the moment. He kept talking to me like a hostage negotiator. Eventually disarmed me of the gun aimed at him. Then I shot Cam. In the leg. Harper kept me from making a very grave mistake.”
Kelly admired Harper for his actions, but nodded. “So what happened to Cam after that?”
“My little demon friend, Dominic, evaporated out of his body like a red vapor. My bullets are made from blessed metal, like all Warrior weapons. It purged Cam of Dom and left him crumpled on the ground. I walked away. No words. I turned and headed to find Leigh and the rest of our crew.” Sam shrugged again. “Last time I saw him, he was a mess. He kept saying my name and sorry. I had nightmares for weeks.”
Kelly nodded as she heard all this. “I won’t even pretend to say I understand what that must have been like, but it must have been horrible. Do you think you’ll ever be able to forgive him for what he did?” Kelly watched her face closely.
Sam closed her eyes and crewed on her lip. Then cocked her head once she reopened them. “I don’t know. I don’t like all these feels I’m dredging up here, Kelly.” Sam contemplated a moment longer. “When see Cam, I can’t decide if I hate him. Or if I care about him. Its the eyes, man. They get me.” Sam put her thumb to her heart and twisted.
“It’s not easy — not easy to stop caring when you cared about someone. It’s not easy to look someone in the eye when you had feelings for them but it’s no longer the same — at least for you. It’s not easy at all, but you can’t live life hating someone. That hatred steals away happiness in your life, and it’s not worth it. You should forgive him, but I’m not saying you need to excuse him or love him, but you simply shouldn’t hate him. Does that make sense?” Kelly tilted her head and furrowed her brows.
Sam relaxed and smile, dropping to her hands to her lap. “Leigh said the same thing. Though not as eloquent. I don’t think I hate him. But I have a very hard time trying to swallow the whole situation. Normal 18 year olds don’t have to deal with this stuff.” Sam laughed.
Kelly chuckled. “You’re right. Normally they don’t, but you’re definitely going to have stories to tell, but let’s talk about Andrew. What was your favorite memory with him?”
“My favorite memory of Andrew…” Sam mused to herself. “He taught me to ride when I was a kid. There isn’t just one memory of him but a collection. Everything I know about horses was because he taught me. How to clean tack, for instance.” She lifted the now clean, reassembled bridle. “He taught me that the only way to prove you’re a decent person is how you treat your animals.”
Kelly smiled at this. “I would have liked to have met Andrew. He sounds like he was an incredible individual. You said you two met because you worked for Andrew? What of your parents?” She furrowed her brows.
“Ah, yes. I can see the confusion. My parents attended Andrew’s church. He was a pastor there until he found Leigh and me. Once we Warrior-ed, he stepped down. When we were sixteen, he hired us to work part time doing administrative things and small jobs.”
“I see.” Kelly nodded. “And what happened to your parents after you became a Warrior?”
“Oh!” Sam laugh. “I gotcha. Same page, now. They’re good. I think. I moved out of their house to train and live with Andrew. They understood that it was safer for them, and for me, to stay separated. Demons can use my family as leverage. But I’m working on Xavier about that. There ain’t no dang reason Warrior parents can’t live in the safehouse. Seers or not.”
Kelly nodded, and now that she mentioned Xavier, she decided to ask, “And how are you adjusting to living here as opposed to Andrew’s place?”
Sam pressed a hand to her heart. “I got memories up the wazoo at Andrew’s place but Xavier lives in a freaking mansion. I don’t have to clean my room.” She stood up and dusted off her jeans, then walked over to scratch Max’s ear. “I don’t have to clean stalls. Dinner is always extravagant. It says to me that being a Warrior is now my number one priority. My training. Eat, sleep, and kill some demons. Most days I think it’s awesome. But when I’m feeling all nostalgic, I miss the simple life. Only sometimes.”
“And what would you say is your favorite memory? It could be before becoming a Warrior or not.” Kelly watched Sam as she asked this question.
Sam stared at Max, thinking. “Friday night dinners with my family, Andrew, Judy, and Harper. Sometimes Leigh, but not often.” she finally said. “I love the memory that all my people were in once place, under the same roof. Safe. No demons, no painful memories. Just pizza, movies, and my people.”
Kelly smiled. “Sounds like lovely memories.” Then she looked at her watch and frowned. “I’m going to have to leave soon, but…what’s your greatest regret?”
Without hesitation, Sam said, “Not being able to clear the bad air with Andrew before he died.”
“You two had a disagreement?”
“Ah, you could say that. In hindsight, I know why he did it, but at the time…” Sam shook her head. “He kept a lot of things about being a Warrior — just how big and bad our enemy really is — to himself. At the time I was livid. How do you keep knowledge from your Warriors? But now, I realize that he’d lost so many Warriors before us… he was trying to… I dunno. Not overtax us? He cared too much.”
Kelly nodded and pushed away from the wall. “That makes sense. As you said, he had lived a long life, and he lost many Warriors. He knew what he was doing, and it likely wasn’t very easy. He would have told you if he could, but he was doing his best to protect you.” Then Kelly sighed. “Unfortunately now though, it’s time for me to go, but it was a pleasure chatting with you. And you too, Max.” Kelly nodded at the horse then smiled at Sam. “And go ahead and have a chat with Harper. Should be interesting.”
“Thanks for coming. Even if you creepishly know all about me. And Harper…” Sam took a big breath. “I’ll keep trying. And oh my gosh, Max wants me to tell you, thank you, too.” She turned to her red horse. “Happy?”
“If I had a link with you, Max, I’d be happy to chat with you directly.” Kelly grinned at the horse but then smiled at Sam. “Well, I need to get going. You take care!” With that, she waved and headed out.
Sam startled a little and laughed to herself and asked Max, “Do you think she went to Hogwarts?” Her horse gave her a look that clearly told Sam she was being stupid. “Mmm, I guess you’re right. And yes. I’ll go ‘do what Kelly said’ and talk to Harper.” With that she dropped a kiss on his nose and went to clean up her mess in the aisle.
M. M. Chromy’s book ‘The Warrior’s Trust’ is not yet published and has no set release date yet. However, you can follow her on social media for more updates: