Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Echo (Soul Seekers)

Alyson Noel

  The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you for your personal use only. You may not make this e-book publicly available in any way. Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at:


  Title Page

  Copyright Notice

  Animal Spirit Guides







































  Bleeding Sky












  Season of Miracles


  Stay Tuned

  Also by Alyson Noël

  About the Author


  Animal Spirit Guides


  Bear represents strength, introspection, and knowledge. Bear teaches us to look within to awaken our inherent potential. Extremely strong, Bear will react fiercely if its lair is threatened, reminding us to protect our loved ones. Able to live on stored body fat during its winter sleep, the spirit of the Bear shows us how to draw on internal resources for our survival and to remain balanced during change. Active day and night, Bear reflects both the power of the sun and the intuition of the moon, cautioning us to temper our strength with thoughtful reflection.


  Hummingbird represents agility, happiness, and wonder. Hummingbird teaches us to be awake to the present moment and to be flexible and agile with the twists and turns of life. Very playful, Hummingbird reminds us that life is richer if we enjoy what we do and find goodness in any situation. The most skilled flier in the avian world, the spirit of the Hummingbird symbolizes accomplishing what appears impossible. Being the only bird to fly backward, Hummingbird encourages us to explore and extract sweetness from the past without dwelling in it.


  Bat represents transition, rebirth, and initiation. Bat teaches us to face our fears and embrace change. With its ability to navigate perfectly in the dark, Bat instructs us to trust our instincts and discern the hidden meaning of words spoken as well as those left unsaid. As the guardian of the night, the spirit of the Bat encourages us to face down the fears that dwell in the dark corners of our mind and trust our inner guidance. As the only winged mammal, Bat reflects the ability to move to great heights and embrace new beginnings after tumultuous change.


  Opossum represents appearance, strategy, and flexibility. Opossum teaches us to make use of appearances and to see when others are projecting false impressions. A skilled thespian, Opossum is a master at creating an image that will allow it to achieve its desired outcome. Able to appear dead at will, the spirit of the Opossum reminds us that things are not always as they appear and that there may be hidden meanings. As a marsupial carrying its young in a pouch, Opossum encourages us to look into our own bag of tricks and find our unseen talents and hidden wisdom.


  Otter represents joy, laughter, and sharing. Otter teaches us to let go of our need to control and to seek out our inner child so we can enjoy life and all it offers. Naturally curious, Otter reminds us that everything in the world is interesting if looked at from the right perspective. Fast and agile in the water, the spirit of the Otter shows us how to maneuver through the problems and emotional upheavals of life with ease and fluidity. One of few animals to use tools, Otter encourages us to strike a balance between unadulterated play and skillful provision.

  Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.

  —Henry Miller




  Horse carries us across an expansive terrain with Raven riding high on his neck. His steps measured. Sure. The sound of his hooves meeting the earth resulting in a satisfying shuffle and crunch that always makes me feel as though we’re getting somewhere. Making progress. Despite the fact that we’ve been hunting for weeks with no sign of the enemy.

  That’s what I call them—the enemy. Sometimes I switch it with intruders or even interlopers. And when it’s been an especially long day of hunting that has me feeling punchy, I refer to them as fiends.

  Though I never call them by their real name.

  I never refer to them as Richters.

  They may be undead Richters, but they’re still Richters, and Paloma warned me to never inform Dace of his dark origins. Claimed there’s no need for him to know his existence stems from magick of the blackest kind. And even though being the keeper of such a horrible truth makes me feel dishonest at best and disloyal at worst, I can’t help but think that my grandmother’s right.

  If anyone should tell him, it’s Chepi, his mother. But so far she’s kept silent.

  I loosen my hold on Dace’s waist and sigh as I look all around. Taking in a spread of gleaming tall grass—the blades bending and flattening under Horse’s forged path—the grove of tall trees that mark the perimeter, providing shelter to birds, monkeys, and the occasional nut-seeking squirrel. My gaze cutting through the fading afternoon light—searching, always searching. But as always, there’s no sign of corruption, no sign of their presence.

  Maybe the Bone Keeper found them?

  I clasp the thought tightly, liking the feel of it. Not wanting to release it no matter how improbable. While I’ve no doubt the skull-faced, serpent-skirt-wearing, star-eating queen of the Lowerworld is more than capable of capturing them, if not obliterating them, I also know it won’t be that easy.

  Having made this mess, it’s mine to fix.

  “It still seems odd.” I press my lips to the nape of Dace’s neck, the words muffled by his long glossy sheet of dark hair. “You know, this perpetual cycle of night and day. It seems too normal, too ordinary for such an extraordinary place.”

  I study the late-afternoon shadow that appears to be stalking us. An unlikely, elongated silhouette of a raven with a spindly stem of a neck, and two ridiculously tall people sitting astride a horse with legs so stretched and skinny they hardly look able to support us—the exaggerated shape heralding a night soon to fall.

  Though the truth is, what qualifies as night in the Lowerworld isn’t much more than a trifling fade, falling far short of the heavy, black, star-dusted New Mexico sky I’ve grown used to. Though, I’m glad for its arrival all the same. Glad to have this day reaching its end.

  I rest my chin on Dace’s shoulder, picking up where I left off. “Not to mention there’s no sign of a sun—so how’s it even possible? How can it rise and set when it does
n’t exist?”

  Dace laughs in response, the sound throaty, deep, and so alluring I inch my body closer until it’s pressed hard against his. Determined to conform to every valley and curve of his back, wanting him to be as aware of me as I am of him.

  “Oh, there’s a sun.” He cricks his neck until he’s looking at me. “Leftfoot’s seen it.” His icy-blue eyes capture mine, reflecting my long dark hair, bright green eyes, and pale skin until I look away, dizzy with the sight of it.

  “And you believe him?” I frown, unable to keep the skepticism from creeping into my voice. Convinced it’s yet another of the old medicine man’s fantastical tales he told Dace as a kid.

  “Of course.” Dace shrugs. “And if we’re lucky, maybe someday we’ll see it too.”

  I rub my lips together and slip a hand under the hem of his sweater. My fingers are chilly, his flesh is warm, and yet he doesn’t so much as flinch. Rather he welcomes my touch by urging my palm flat against him.

  “The only thing I want to see now is…” I try to push my mind back to the job we’ve set out to do, but it’s not long before the thought fades along with my words.

  The lure of Dace is too strong, and he must sense my mood because the next thing I know, he’s turning Horse around. Nudging him back over the wide, grassy slope, heading toward a favored destination of ours.

  I tighten my hold on his waist, tuck my knees into the crook of his. Struggling against the barrage of guilt that always overwhelms me after a long, fruitless hunt. I promised Paloma I’d find them—evict them. Swore I’d run those Richters right out of the Lowerworld before they had a chance to do any damage that would impact the Middle- and Upperworlds too.

  I thought it would be easy.

  Thought that in a wondrous land of lush foliage and loving spirit animals, those undead freaks would stand out in the very worst way.

  Convinced that with Dace and me working in tandem, we’d easily defeat them.

  But now I’m no longer sure.

  “Not to worry,” Dace says, his voice as confident as his words. “Together we’ll find them.” Then, meeting my skeptical look, he adds, “Haven’t you heard? Love conquers all.”


  My breath stills, my eyes widen, while any attempt at reply stalls in a throat gone suddenly dry.

  He drags on Horse’s reins, stopping just shy of the Enchanted Spring, where he helps me to my feet and folds my hands in his. Misreading my silence, he says, “Too soon?”

  I clear my throat, longing to tell him that it’s not at all too soon. That I knew it the first night he appeared in my dreams—felt it the day I ran into him at the Rabbit Hole—the stream of unconditional love that flowed between us.

  Wishing I could just say it—confess how it both terrifies and excites me. How being loved, truly loved, by him is the most exhilarating thing that’s ever happened to me.

  Longing to explain how whenever I’m with him, it’s as though I’m filled with helium—my feet don’t quite touch the earth.

  We’re destined.


  But now, after weeks of being his girlfriend, this is the very first time the L word was mentioned.

  Dace cocks his head, shooting me a look so dreamy, I’m sure he’s going to say it—those three not-so little words—and I ready myself to utter them too.

  But he just turns on his heel and heads for the bubbling hot spring with the fine mist of steam dancing along the surface. Leaving me disappointed that the moment was lost—yet secure in its truth all the same.

  We rid ourselves of our clothes until Dace is stripped down to his navy blue trunks, and I’m shivering in the plain black bikini I wear underneath. Merging into the water with Dace just behind me, my heart racing in anticipation as I head for the wide bank of rocks, knowing the hunt is now over—the fun will begin.

  I smile shyly. Captured by the sight of his strong, square shoulders, gleaming brown skin, the promise of his hands hanging open and loose by his sides. Wondering if I’ll ever get used to this—used to him. So many kisses have passed between us, and yet whenever he’s near, whenever we’re alone, it feels like the first.

  He moves in beside me, the water rising to his chest as our lips press and merge and our breath becomes one. My fingers seeking the sharp angle of his jaw, tracing the shadow of stubble that prickles my skin, as he toys with the strings of my bikini top. Taking great care to avoid the buckskin pouch that hangs from my neck, knowing it holds the source of my power, or one of them anyway—that its contents may only be viewed by Paloma and me.

  “Daire…” My name is a whisper soon chased by the path of kisses he trails along my neck, over my shoulder, and down farther still, as I close my eyes and inhale a sharp breath. Torn between the lure of his touch, and the memory of a horrible dream that took place in this very spring—in a moment much like this one.

  A dream where his brother raided our paradise—stealing Dace’s soul along with his life, while all I could do was look on.

  “What is it?” Sensing a shift in my mood, he lifts his gaze to meet mine. But I just shake my head and pull him back to me, seeing no reason to share. No reason to wreck the moment by mentioning Cade.

  His breath quickens as his lips meet mine once again. And when he lifts me onto his lap, I have the vague sensation of something slimy and foreign passing over my foot.

  I lean into the kiss, determined to ignore it, whatever it was. It’s a hot spring—an enchanted hot spring, but still a hot spring. It’s probably just a leaf or even a fallen flower bud from the canopy of vines that swoop overhead.

  I focus on the feel of his lips molding hard to my flesh as I squirm tightly against him. Entwining my legs with his when another slimy object skims past my hip before surfacing beside me with an audible plop that’s soon followed by another.

  And another.

  Until the chorus of objects popping to the surface forces us apart. Forces us to blink free of the fog of each other, only to gape in horror as the spring fills with swollen, lifeless, gaping-mouthed fish—their vacant eye sockets staring accusingly.

  Before I can so much as scream, Dace swoops me into his arms and hauls me out of the spring. Clasping me tightly to his chest as the two of us stare, breathless and horrified, at a truth that cannot be denied.

  The enemy is still out there—alive and well and corrupting the Lowerworld.

  And if we don’t find them soon, they’ll corrupt the Otherworlds too.


  “Did you tell her?” Dace gestures toward Paloma’s blue gate as I slip inside his old beater truck and settle beside him.

  “Not yet.” I gnaw the inside of my cheek and steer my gaze from his. Hearing his softly muttered hmmm as he pulls away from the curb. Recognizing it as Dace-speak for: I’m not sure I agree with your methods, but I’m sure you have your reasons.

  Dace doesn’t judge.

  He’s so nice, kind, and accepting, he wouldn’t even consider it.

  He’s the literal definition of good.

  The result of a split soul—his is the pure half—the opposite of his twin’s. While mine is of the more usual variety—straddling the varying shades of light and dark, swaying toward one or the other depending on the circumstance.

  “I was going to,” I say, my voice pitching too high to convince, but it’s not like it stops me. “But by the time you dropped me off, she was with a client—she’s starting to see them again—and by the time she was finished, I was already asleep.”

  “And this morning?” He looks at me, lips quirking at the side, knowing Paloma’s an outspoken advocate for proper nutrition. Starting each day with a healthy breakfast is pretty much the heart and soul of her manifesto. The only way I could’ve avoided the subject—avoided her—is by skipping it entirely. Which I did, by staying in my room until the very last minute, then making a mad dash for the door the instant I sensed Dace drive up. Pausing just long enough for her to press one of her freshly baked, organic, blue-corn muffins into
my hand as I made for his truck.

  There’s no graceful way out. I’m guilty as charged. “I got a late start.” Sneaking another peek at him, I add, “But, honestly, I guess I just wasn’t ready.”

  He nods, grips the wheel tighter, navigating a series of deeply rutted dirt roads as I stare out the window. Noting how the old adobe homes lining the perimeter no longer sag like they used to. How the cars parked in the yards seem a little less rusted—and the chickens that roam those yards appear a little less emaciated. All of it thanks to Dace and my small triumph in the Lowerworld, when we convinced the Bone Keeper to release all those poor souls the Richters had stolen.

  Yet despite our success, the town still doesn’t come close to living up to its name of Enchantment. Though it is a little less dismal than it was when I first arrived, and I consider that progress.

  “If you want, we can tell her together.” Dace looks at me. “I’m scheduled to work after school, but I’m willing to go in late if it’ll help.”

  I shake my head, too choked up by his offer to speak. Dace relies on every penny he earns working at the Rabbit Hole. After paying rent on the tiny apartment he keeps in town, gas and insurance for his two beat-up cars, and the small amount he sends to help Chepi, there’s not much left over. There’s no way I’ll let him take a hit in pay for something I should’ve done on my own.

  “I’ll handle it,” I say. “Really. Today. After school. Before I head back to the Lowerworld, I’ll tell her. Though I’ve a pretty good feeling she already knows. Paloma knows everything. It’s more than an abuela’s sixth sense—she’s beyond perceptive. I’m sure my silence speaks louder than any words could.”

  “Still,” he says. “Those fish…” His voice fades, as his gaze grows cloudy and troubled, his lips pale and grim. “I think I should mention it to Leftfoot. Chepi too. Maybe they can help?”

  At the mention of his mother, it’s my turn to go grim. Having spent Dace’s entire childhood shielding him from the more mystical side of life—only to watch me come to town and drag him headfirst into all the trouble and weirdness this place has to offer, she’s not exactly my biggest fan.