Sachael Dreams (Melody Winter)

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The Mine Series Book I

Twenty-two-year-old Estelle Bailey has had enough of busy city-life and her hot-tempered ex. She escapes to the seclusion and peace of her family’s clifftop home in Ravenscar, where the soothing solitude whispers to her soul as strongly as the sea itself does. But her newfound contentment is interrupted when a mysterious man—a Sachael, master of seduction—joins her midnight swim unexpectedly.

Estelle struggles against his charm and the overpowering attraction she feels for him. He offers her a life she never could have imagined, a life beneath the waves . . . but at what cost? Before she can decide, she’s captured, ensnared by the Sect, a secret enemy of the Sachaels, becoming a pawn in a war she knew nothing about.

Now, she’s left with a new choice—escape the clutches of the Sect and flee into the ocean, or side with her alluring, intimidating captor and destroy the Sachaels forever. Can she turn her back on the man she might love, or will the secret of her heritage change everything?

Set against a picturesque backdrop, Sachael Dreams is the first in a new series, exploring themes of romance, love, and identity, and the struggle that happens when all three collide.

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ISBN: 9781942111108 Category: Tag:

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Read The First Chapter

One

“Estelle, Estelle.” The sea whispered my name. Each gentle, rippling wave edged nearer to my feet, and I smiled. The evening ocean held many pleasant memories for me, ones I would never forget.

The shrill cry of a seagull startled me, sending my brush darting across the canvas. The noise disturbed my peaceful reflections, and I stopped painting. Not all my memories were good. One in particular—a nightmare even—was a dark memory I still struggled to understand.

I moved to sit on a nearby rock, my mind drifting back to when my father was here. I still missed him, even after all these years. I always would.

The wind picked up, whipping my hair across my face. I brushed the dark, wayward tendrils behind my ears before focusing on the water stretching toward the horizon. I’d wanted my painting to show the beautiful colors dancing across the ocean’s surface, but as I inspected the canvas I’d worked on throughout the day, I screwed my nose up. My attempt to capture the shimmering colors had failed to translate to the canvas. I sighed before deciding to finish for the day. The light was beginning to fade, and there were other things to do.

My father had always encouraged my budding art talent, but I was disappointed that my work was nothing like his. He’d always told me his paintings were of a magical land, one he visited in his dreams. The colors he’d lovingly applied to the canvas were bold and clear. He mixed vibrant shades of reds and yellows with intense blues and acid green. I always told him I wanted to visit the places he painted. It was unfair that only he could go there. His face used to come alive when he spoke of his dream world—his kind face and soothing blue eyes were forever etched into my mind.

The familiar scent of turpentine and linseed oil wafted across my nose as I religiously cleaned each of my brushes. It was funny how certain smells made me remember my father—the oil paints, the smoke from wood burning on the fire, and the sweet aroma of hot chocolate. I breathed deeply, looking at the darkening horizon. The night sky was dramatic, transforming toward its monthly event. It was a full moon tonight, and my heart raced as I anticipated my forthcoming tradition. It was a ritual I did at every full moon; the one my father had always performed with me. The one he made me promise to continue, no matter what happened.

The ocean had taken on its familiar restless whisper. The way the waves touched the shore had changed. The tide had begun to retreat toward the horizon.

I walked along the beach, waiting for the moon to rise, looking for unfamiliar shells or ones of interest. It was a hobby—some would say an obsession—I started after my father died. Every full moon, every beach I visited, I took something back home. This small, secluded beach held much more than the secrets it revealed at low tide. It was a magical place; I’d spent my childhood here. I’d listened to my father’s stories while on this beach. I’d eaten wondrous tasting food that my mother made for us. It was a place where I could relax and forget my troubles. My refuge.

When the tides allowed, my father and I had spent nights here, always lulled to sleep by the comforting, gentle whisper of the waves as they crept backward and forward. The only time I didn’t like the sea was when it turned angry and wild, when the wind swirled into the night air, causing a churning of murky grey water. My father always told me the sea behaved in such a way because it was hungry—it wanted to claim everything back into its aching belly. The first time he told me his story, I’d gathered my shells together and thrown them back into the ocean. My father had taken my hand in his, and we’d stood together in the foaming swell of the tide as it wrapped around our ankles.

“There are some things that can never be returned, Estelle,” he told me, tightening his hand around my small one as we’d both gazed out to sea. And even though I was only a child, I’d recognized the sadness in his voice.

Tonight, my hands were again empty of any treasure by the time I’d walked the full length of the bay, so I turned and retraced my steps. I paused to look out over the ocean, stunned by the brightness of the moon and the beauty of its glow. I loved these nights—they made my body feel alive.

I looked along the gentle curve of the beach, relieved there were no other people around. It suited me perfectly. This was private—a last connection with my father. I didn’t want, or need, spectators.

This beach was always the perfect place for the full moon ritual. It could only be reached by either an approach from the sea, or down a steep track leading from the cliff top. Not many people came to this part of the bay—it was inaccessible for cars, and there were other beaches nearby. Robin Hood’s Bay was to the north, and the expanse of golden sand to the south, at Scarborough, was perfect for young children. Over the years, though, a path had been trodden into the uneven ground, leading to the top of the cliff. Bracken, brambles, and nettles sprang up on either side of the track, keeping it hidden from anyone who didn’t know it was there. The grassy bank was in as much a state of disrepair as the smattering of houses at the top of the cliff. But this was Ravenscar—it was where I’d been born, and it was my home. I had missed it so much over the last three years.

My feet pressed into the cool sand as I headed back to my belongings. But something caught my eye further along the beach. There was an object shining in the glow from the moon. I changed course, no longer walking back to my belongings, but heading toward the rock pools. My unhurried pace turned into determined strides. Curiosity crept over me as I advanced toward the glimmer beckoning to me.

The sand of the beach was left behind as I stepped gingerly onto the first few rocks. It wasn’t easy to find secure places to set my wet feet, and I moved carefully, not wanting to fall into one of the numerous small pools hiding between the scatterings of boulders. My attention was still fixed on the glowing object. It was bright, perhaps more so, now that I was closer to it.

The shining treasure rested on top of a Mermaid Table—a large, flat-topped rock that appeared like a cut-off tree trunk. Not only was the object in the center of the circular rock, but arranged around the edge was a perfect circle of black pebbles. The object that had caught my attention was a white shell. I frowned at my discovery, puzzled by its position. Nothing natural could have created such an occurrence. I picked the shell up and inspected it. It was the purest white, spiraled in design, and the size of a small plum. I doubted I would have noticed it if it hadn’t given off the strange glow I’d seen from the water’s edge. It was extraordinary how the brightness of its surface was lit up by the moon.

Clasping the shell in my hand, I scanned the beach. Had someone left it here? My gaze lingered over the darkening shadows the cliffs threw around, but just like earlier, I couldn’t see anyone. Huffing at my overactive imagination, I convinced myself my emotions were running high. Tonight was the first time I would be completing the ritual since I’d returned home. A new chapter in my life was beginning.

Once back on the sand with my belongings, I turned to face the sea. The moon was closer to the earth than usual tonight—its size dominating the horizon.

I wrapped the shell in one of my clean art cloths and placed it in my bag before undressing. The wet denim fabric of my jeans clung to my legs, and I struggled to remove it. I groaned at my lack of foresight. Why hadn’t I rolled the ankles up before paddling in the water? As I undressed, baring my skin to the night, anticipation about entering the water charged through me. It was a good thing there wasn’t anyone around. They’d think I was performing a strip tease. I grinned at the ludicrous idea as I dropped my paint-splattered t-shirt on the sand.

It was time.

Turning to face the water again, I stood up straight.

My father’s voice filled my head. “Promise me, Estelle, promise me you’ll always do this.”

I nodded to his words, recognizing the seriousness of his tone, so clear, even after all these years. I hugged myself, ignoring the overpowering sensation to cry—I missed him so much, even more so on these nights. Screwing my eyes shut, I forced the tears away. I took several deep breaths and concentrated on calming myself. The sound of the waves sang to me, melodic tones drifting forward on each gentle roll. The fresh, salty smell of the ocean surrounded me. I breathed deeply before strolling toward the water’s edge. My feet seemed to move of their own accord, as if my body was impatient to transport me forward. But I didn’t rush. I wanted to take my time tonight.

When my toes met the swell of a receding wave, I smiled, relaxing at the familiar contact. A beckoning path was lit before me on the water, the brightness of the moon reflected clearly on the surface. The ocean was calm this evening. Many times, when I needed to complete the ritual, it was anything but. On those nights, I stayed in the shallows, completing the submergence ritual in an angry few feet of water. I never dared to venture far into the waves when the sea was violent and forceful. I had an affinity with the ocean, but I wasn’t foolish.

My father had told me never to fear the ocean; it was something magical, and it would never, ever, harm me.

I believed him . . . until the night it took his life.

I missed holding his hand as I walked into the sea, often questioning why I still kept doing this when he wasn’t here. The night he’d drowned was the last time we completed the ritual together. But whatever else happened in my life, I’d always kept my promise to him. Every time I followed his crazy ritual, I somehow felt calmer and closer to him. Had he known what would happen to him that evening? I refused to believe he wanted to end his own life; he’d had too much to live for. He loved my mother and me so much.

Pausing in the water as it rippled at my waist, I rested my hands, palm down, on the surface, speaking the mantra my father taught me:

“I claim the truth of my existence under the full lunar phase, and submerge within these jeweled waters to keep me safe from harm.”

Bending my knees, I sank under the water, ensuring my head was submerged, and paused for a few seconds before straightening back up. Not bothering to wipe the hair from my face, I repeated the phrase.

“I claim the truth of my existence under the full lunar phase, and submerge within these jeweled waters to keep me safe from harm.”

Once again, I dipped below the surface of the water.

I kept my eyes open as I completed the submergences. I never shut out the underwater world that greeted me. It was as if the ocean was a long-lost friend, welcoming me back with open arms every month. The waves were my family, protecting me, caressing my body with their underwater currents.

Repeating the whole routine seven times, I spoke my words to the moon before offering myself to the ocean. After the final submergence, I steadied myself before lifting my arms into the air.

It was done. My promise to my father was complete for this month. I would be back to repeat it at the next full moon.

As I always did on these nights, I executed a perfect dive into the waiting water. The gentle, swirling currents attempted to control me in their evening dance, but it didn’t affect me at all. I was too strong for them to sway me in any one direction. The ritual had renewed my strength and agility in the water. I loved this sensation. It was one of freedom, of complete relaxation, and a primitive force I’d never understood.

I swam further from the beach, not needing to surface as I traveled. Twisting to change directions, I headed deeper, wanting my feet to touch the sandy bottom of the seabed. I swam fast, and the sand was beneath me within seconds. I curled my legs under me, tumbling until I was upright in the water, poised to stop my fast descent. My feet stomped on the ocean floor, and a haze of cloudy sand rose upward, mimicking a dust storm in the desert. I’d performed the equivalent of an emergency stop. Trying to suppress a giggle, my father’s face appeared in my head. He’d never have approved of my risqué behavior.

Bubbles of air ballooned from my mouth as I pushed off from the seabed, gliding upward to the moonlight filtering through the surface.

For the second time this evening, I was distracted by the sight of something glistening. This time, though, it was in the waters below. I stopped my peaceful journey, suspended in the water as I stared at where I had come from. The sparkling, tiny ball of light moved rapidly in a circle. I frowned, unable to comprehend how something could travel so quickly, and how any form of light could move so precisely. I watched, transfixed with the light’s journey as it moved closer.

My heart raced when I became aware that the glow wasn’t in fact a light. It was the reflection of the moon on a necklace; a necklace that someone was wearing. As the person began to swim toward me at an impossible speed, I momentarily froze with shock. Panic crashed through me. I wasn’t safe—I was alone, swimming in the sea in the middle of the night. Tearing my gaze away from the glinting necklace, I propelled myself toward the surface. I needed to get to land. Determined to outswim whoever this person was, I swam the fastest I ever had. Yet, it wasn’t fast enough. Sneaking a look behind me, I could see the head of the person following. They were getting closer—too close.

With a racing heart and aching limbs, I pushed myself to go faster, but it was pointless.

A hand grabbed my ankle.

I screamed.

About The Author

Growing up, Melody Winter showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write far too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but eventually ended up working in Finance. Melody is convinced the methodical time she spends working with numbers fuels her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the beach. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures. In fact, if she wasn’t such a terrible swimmer, she’d say she was a mermaid.

Sachael Dreams is her debut novel, and the first in her New Adult Romantic Fantasy series—the ‘Mine Series’.

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