Monday, January 5, 2015

The Blackwell Family Secret: THE GUARDIANS OF SINS, by by Jonathan L. Ferrara

The Blackwell Family Secret: THE GUARDIANS OF SINS
by Jonathan L. Ferrara
Publication date: December 5, 2014
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing /AMAZON
Nicholas Blackwell has no idea he is supposed to fulfill a destiny. All he knows is that he draws trouble like a magnet. Orphaned at eleven when two demonic men killed his parents, he copes with the strict rules of his new home, St. Christopher’s academy, unaware that he has been the real target for the killers and that his guardian angel has saved him in the nick of time. And now, his problems are only beginning when a mysterious serpent lures him into the woods and tricks him into a demonic ritual that will unleash the Seven Deadly Sins to destroy the humankind. Nicholas has no choice but to correct his mistake–or die trying. Aided by Amy, a shy but determined girl who seems to know more about his task than she should, Nicholas’s quest is to travel into the City of Demonio and defeat the Seven Guardians of Sin. To succeed, he must confront demons, monsters, and lost souls, learn the mysteries of the Chapel of Dreams, discover the true meaning of friendship and love, and face the darkest secret of all: the Blackwell Family Secret.
“The Blackwell Family Secret: the Guardians of Sin” is a debut young adult urban fantasy adventure with a Christian theme.
[As I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.]
Psalm 23:4
The dark night engulfed Nicholas. His sweaty palms trembled
against his thighs as he stood in the valley, knowing there was
a good chance he was about to die. His throat tightened, as he
imagined all the terrible things that could be happening to Amy.
What if she was hurt? What if she wasn’t even alive? By now,
Nicholas had an open mind to the impossible. Anything could
happen. Nothing was off limits.
Fog dripped down the valley walls and rolled past his feet.
The hazy air made it difficult to see, until a spark of ember shone
in the distance. Decrepit gravestones scattered across the dead
field, stopping at the end of the valley at a palace of white stone.
Enticed by curiosity, Nicholas made his way through the valley.
Thin brittle bones crunched under his feet as he continued on. A
group of limp, old men crept behind, dragging toward him. Their
hands and arms swayed like a rag doll’s as they lurched through the
fog. The men cried, grinding their teeth with pain, as though they
had been waiting centuries for this moment, for Nicholas’s arrival.
Nicholas halted at the entrance of the palace, eyes locked on
the elegant script etched along the front doors: Blackwell Manor.
Cold air scraped his skin and reached down his dry throat like
a claw. His breathing became harsh as he stared at his family’s
name. His trembling hand slid into his back pocket, fingers
fighting for his inhaler. Quickly he placed it against his lips.
A cold, hollow voice echoed across the valley, chilling him
to his very core. The words hung in the air: I know a secret that
could change the world.
Nicholas calmed his nerves with a puff from his inhaler.
How could he, a boy, have come this far and survived so much?
It seemed as if Nicholas had forgotten a lot in his walk through
the valley, as if his mind was erased in such a short period of
time. He had completely forgotten how he got to the Valley
of Death, why he held six random objects in his backpack and
what had happened to his friend. There wasn’t too much he
could recall, but one thing was certain: he was about to face the
greatest evil imaginable.
As he opened the front doors of the Blackwell Manor, he
stared into the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen. And
then he remembered…
The snowfall had stopped and thick ruby curtains fell together,
making the stage disappear like a magic act. Seven-year-old
Nicholas Blackwell followed his parents’ lead and stood between
them to applaud. He looked up at his mother, who had the
same smile on her face as when the show began. Her dark red
hair was elegantly done up, and her long black dress sparkled
as the overhead lights beamed from the stage. He then looked
to his father who towered over him, wearing an exquisite black
suit with a blue tie to match his eyes. Oliver continued to clap,
and Nicholas did the same.
It was the largest theater in New York City, and Nicholas had
a hard time weaving through the tall masses of lavishly dressed
people. He tried to keep up with his parents, but one wrong turn
lead him to an unfamiliar hall, where he halted at a ferocious
gargoyle statue. He searched frantically for his parents through
the sea of people, standing on the base of the marble statue to
get a better look. His chest tightened with every second that
went by, and as he reached for his inhaler, he completely forgot
that he had given it to his mother to hold in her purse.
An enormous gloved hand rested on Nicholas’s shoulder,
and he turned to see a giant of a man hovering over him.
“Hey there Nicholas, you alright?” the man said in a thick,
burly voice.
Nicholas tried to respond but couldn’t find words. The man
reached into his coat pocket, and Nicholas took this opportunity
to run into the crowd. The man yelled for Nicholas to return,
but as he tried to follow, his coat caught on the teeth of the
Nicholas surged through the crowd, feeling as though he
could faint at any moment. His vision blurred as he felt dizzy.
Just as he felt he would topple over, he saw red hair and his
mother’s arms stretching toward him.
“Nicholas!” Kathleen shouted in relief as she pulled the
inhaler from her purse.
“Sorry,” Nicholas said from behind his inhaler.
Oliver put a hand on his shoulder. “You scared us to death.”
Nicholas looked up. “There was a man, he knew my name.”
His parents exchanged a worried glance.
After an unsettling moment, Oliver knelt down to be level
with his son. “Nicholas, I want you to promise me you will stay
by our side, alright?”
Nicholas nodded and looked to his mother, who had not
taken her eyes from him since they had found him.
In the lobby, Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell mingled with some
friends, colleagues and one of Kathleen’s old professors from
New York University. Nicholas made a round of introductions
with his parents’ friends. He counted five pinches to the cheek,
three “look how tall you’ve gotten” and two “you look just like
your father”. He quickly forgot faces as he was being introduced
to an endless stream of people and hid behind his father, arms
wrapped around Oliver’s leg.
“Oliver,” said a man with a thick mustache and a cane,
looking as though he had just stepped out of an old Hollywood
film, “How goes the Blackwell Foundation?”
“Very well, thank you,” Oliver said proudly. “This year,
the hospital is looking brighter than ever with over two dozen
volunteers for Christmas. The donations have been most
generous, the best I’ve ever seen. The children will have a truly
blessed Christmas this year.”
“Good to hear,” the man said, leaning against his cane.
“Remind me to contribute a little extra.” He winked and turned
to Oliver’s wife. “Kathleen, may I say you look enchanting this
“Thank you, Professor Larson.”
“I hear you’ve taken over the homeless shelter down on
32nd street. How is it holding up?”
“It’ll be a Christmas to remember.” Kathleen’s contagious
smile had everyone joining in.
Professor Larson now looked to Nicholas. “Nicholas
Blackwell, I presume?”
Nicholas nodded as he came out from behind his father.
“It’s very nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard wonderful
things. Your parents just beam about you. You know, you look
just like your father.”
Three times. That was the third time Nicholas had been
compared to his father.
It was getting late when Nicholas’s parents finally said
goodbye to their friends. It was one of the only nights Nicholas
was allowed to stay up so late—a holiday treat. He loved it.
Staying up late made him feel grown up.
Out on the street Oliver waved down a taxi. Nicholas got
a glimpse of his father’s ring embedded with an amethyst
stone. A family heirloom, one that had been around for many
generations. Not too long ago, Oliver said that one day the
ring would be handed down to Nicholas. Ever since, he had
appreciated the ring much more.
The taxi made its way toward their home through the
labyrinth of a city toward the Upper East Side. The city was lit
up, busier than ever on the Christmas Eve, and the shops stayed
open long past midnight. When they arrived, Kathleen helped
Nicholas out of the car as Oliver paid the taxi driver, giving him
a generous tip that made the man beam with gratitude, thanking
him over and over again.
“Happy Holidays to you and your family. Take care,” Oliver
“You as well, Mr. Blackwell. God bless.” The taxi driver
waved goodbye and drove off into the night, probably heading
back home early, now that he had made more than enough in
tips to make his shift worthwhile.
Huddled under her cozy jacket, Kathleen wrapped her arms
around Nicholas. Her warmth overpowered the bitter cold
night. “You know Nicholas, Santa Claus is probably already
delivering toys to children around the world.”
“He is, isn’t he?” Nicholas jumped with excitement. “I can
hardly wait until morning.”
“Me too.” She smiled.
Oliver joined his family at the front door and took out his
house key from his coat pocket. Just as he unlocked the door,
his cell phone rang. Kathleen’s look made him hesitate.
“It’ll just take a minute,” he assured her.
“Alright, but remember it’s our night.” She took Nicholas’s
hand and led him up the stairs to his bedroom. She helped him
change out of his suit. He took it off reluctantly. He loved
dressing up like his father.
In his pajamas, Nicholas knelt down beside his bed. He
wrapped his hands together and closed his eyes. “Now I lay me
down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die before
I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
Kathleen smiled warmly as she watched her son pray.
“Dear God, I pray that everyone in the entire world has a great
Christmas and has someone to share it with. Thank you for my
mommy and daddy and everything. I love you God. Goodnight.”
Nicholas jumped into bed and crawled under his thick,
superhero-themed comforter. Kathleen gave him Dexter, his
stuffed bear, and kissed him on the cheek, then turned the
bedroom lights off, leaving a nightlight on in the corner of his
“Goodnight mommy.”
“Goodnight sweetheart. I love you.” She closed the door
behind her, leaving it open just a crack. Nicholas hugged Dexter
and closed his eyes. It didn’t take long at all before he dozed off.
The sound of shattering glass awoke Nicholas. He looked at
his bedside clock. 3:33. Muffled voices echoed from downstairs.
He pushed off his comforter and crept toward the door.
Through the crack in the doorway, he could see that the light
in the living room was on. The unfamiliar voices grew louder.
Trying to move as quietly as he could, he tiptoed toward the
edge of the staircase and slipped his head between the rails of
the banister to get a better view.
His heart raced as a man came into view. The same huge
man with black gloves he’d seen by the gargoyle statue in the
theatre was now standing in his living room.
“Alright Blackwells, where are you hiding them?” The man
moved aside, revealing Oliver and Kathleen, bound to chairs.
Nicholas covered his mouth to stifle a gasp. Now that the man
faced Nicholas’s direction, he could see what the man had been
hiding under his coat. Though he looked human, his skin had
an odd green tint. Scars showed through his thick facial hair.
Nicholas also saw another man, more stout than tall, stuffing
his mouth with cookies. His jaw seemed to unhinge as he fit in
piles of cookies with ease.
“Would you stop filling your face and get over here?!” The
big man in the coat smacked his companion on the back and a
whole cookie flew from his mouth and crumbled on the floor.
“Sorry, Mr. Romulus, sir.”
Romulus turned back to face the Blackwells. “I’m only
going to ask you one more time, Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell. Where
are the sins?” He circled them in long, stalking steps.
“We have no idea what you’re talking about,” Oliver spoke
The man swung, hitting Oliver in the face. A tooth flew out
of his mouth. The man eating cookies laughed, crumbs falling
down the front of his overalls, his enormous belly bouncing
with each menacing chuckle.
“Oliver, Oliver, Oliver,” Romulus taunted. “Why do you
make me hurt you?” He stopped his pacing and leaned into
Oliver, then glanced at Kathleen quivering in her chair, her dress
tattered, her tangled hair half-covering her face. “You think I
don’t know the famous Blackwells? You Oliver, the infamous
Seeker who had sent so many of my kind back to Hell.” He
turned sharply to Kathleen. “And your wife, Kathleen Blackwell
formerly known as Kathleen LaGuardia. Studied at New York
University where she majored in Philosophy and Religion with
a minor in Demonology,” he smirked, leaning closer. “Your
beauty could bring the Guardian of Envy to tears.”
“We do not Seek anymore,” Kathleen said, fighting to speak
through a cut lip.
“And why was that, again? Was it because you finally were
able to conceive?” He pressed his hand against her belly.
“Don’t touch her!” Oliver bellowed.
The man with the cookies laughed louder.
Again Oliver was smacked across the face. “Where are the
sins, Oliver?! Where are they?!” Romulus cut Oliver’s ropes and
forced him out of the chair, pushing him against the glossy,
wooden floorboards kicking him three times in the stomach.
“Stop it, please!” Kathleen cried.
Romulus pulled out a pistol from his side pocket and shoved
it into Oliver’s face.
Nicholas’s heart pounded so hard that he was sure his chest
would burst. Breathing became difficult.
“I’m gonna ask you one more time, Kathleen, or your
husband will die. Where are the sins?” Romulus demanded, as
he tightened his grip on the pistol.
“If I tell you the whereabouts of the sins, you’ll just kill us
anyway.” Tears fell hard down Kathleen’s face.
“Ah, Katie… Can I call you Katie?” his voice softened,
but Kathleen didn’t answer. “I am a man of my word. Tell me
where you hid them and all of this will go away.”
“Kathleen, don’t,” Oliver said.
“Shut up!” Romulus’s face reddened, distended veins pulsing
beneath his skin. He shook the pistol. “I will pull this trigger.
Now answer me, Kathleen! Where are you hiding the sins?”
“They are contained.”
“Sins can only be contained within… innocence.” As the
words left her lips, Oliver closed his eyes and muttered the
word ‘no’ over and over again.
“Innocence,” Romulus smirked. “A child. You brilliant
woman. Now, how come we never thought of that?” He turned
to his friend who had finished the Christmas cookies. “I love it.
Simple, yet righteous. Innocence, all a part of the great Divine.”
He looked up to the ceiling, as if it was to the Heavens.
Nicholas quickly leaned back from the banister so that he
couldn’t be spotted. Then he heard the most horrible sound. A
gun shot. Kathleen screamed.
Nicholas looked back downstairs. He couldn’t see his father
behind the couch. Kathleen hung her head and sunk into her
chair as low as the ropes would allow her.
“You evil son of a bitch!”
“Ouch, Katie. There is no need for all that.” Romulus lifted
her chin and looked straight into her eyes with a menacing
“You said you wouldn’t hurt him.”
“Hurt him?” Romulus gave a slight chuckle. “No, I didn’t
hurt him. I freed him. You should be thanking me. I thought
the Blackwells were all about protecting the Divine. Now he is
at peace.”
Kathleen spat in his face. With the sleeve of his shirt he
mopped his face clean.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” he said, hands leaning
against the arms of her chair. “You see, Katie, we’ve been
watching your family for a very long time now. And I know for
a fact that when you and your husband fought the Guardians of
Sin and contained them, like you so honorably admit, that you
were actually… pregnant.”
Her face was now soaked with tears. She shook her head,
begging for him to stop.
“Now I can’t think of anything more innocent than a child
that hasn’t even been born. A child that hasn’t even had a chance
to sin.” He turned to the man covered in cookie crumbs. “Get
the boy.”
“No!” she screamed.
Nicholas jumped to his feet and hurried up to the third level
to his parents’ bedroom. He didn’t care how much noise he
made, he just knew he had to hurry. He hadn’t even realized he
was carrying Dexter until he ran into the bedroom. Just as he
crawled under the bed he heard the sound of another gunshot
and his mother’s screams stopped.

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