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Counting Quarters (Beacon Grove 2) by Jen Stevens Book

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Counting Quarters (Beacon Grove 2) by Jen Stevens Read Book Online And Download

Overview: My quiet little coven town has never accepted me. I’ve been branded with the reputation of outcast since the moment I was given the Granger name.

It isn’t until I inherit my family’s secret ancient gifts that rival those of the town’s beloved Quarters that I realize how small my bullies really are.

But these gifts come with a centuries-old resentment that has overtaken my entire being, making it increasingly difficult to be around those closest to me. Add in the dead girls who now haunt me at every turn, and I’ve become an isolated shell who needs to break free.

When Sheriff Kyle Abbot posts an ad about his empty apartment, I see an opportunity to get out from under my grandmother's suffocating thumb, and I take it.

I never expected that a man twice my age would be the one I could relate to best, yet being around him felt like reuniting with the other half of my soul. It's not long before we start giving in to our temptations while uncovering more truths about our town... and ourselves.

When our town is threatened with a second attack, and our leaders set to feed us to the wolves, I've got to find a way around my bitterness and work with the four men whose families caused generations of Granger strife.

They're all waiting for me to prove that my gifts are enough to stop the Movement when it returns. And I’m ready to do exactly that.

Counting Quarters (Beacon Grove 2) by Jen Stevens Book Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Counting Quarters (Beacon Grove 2) by Jen Stevens Book

Counting Quarters (Beacon Grove 2) by Jen Stevens Book Read Online Chapter One

Blaire – November, 2021

Grammy and Mom were sitting cross-legged on the living room floor when I got back from helping Storie sort through the family documents we gathered from the library in the room she was renting from us. For some reason, helping her sort through the details about her family had old wounds from my own coming back to the surface. I went over them in my head as I made the short walk from her hotel room to the main house.

It had been quiet despite the chaotic energy flowing through the streets of Beacon Grove as I made my way home.

Nothing had happened yet. I could feel it coming soon, though.

Something big.

Rayner Whittle was in the town square all day spouting nonsense about his big Movement against the four Quarters of Beacon Grove. They were the four families that essentially ran this town and our coven, Watchtower. And with good reason. The gods had blessed each family with the gift of harnessing one of the elemental powers to protect the rest of the coven:

The Winters could control water.

The Eastons could control earth.

The Aldens could control the air.

And the Forbes controlled fire.

Rayner believed that it was time our town evolved into newer practices and moved away from the way things have been done for hundreds of years. You could guess how far that had gotten him.

The only reason anyone gave him the time of day was because this generation of Quarters was uncharacteristically weak, and that made people feel unsafe. As luck would have it, the gods had decided to split each of their gifts and allow them to flow into a second person, called a Counter. This generation of Quarters had a hard time finding their Counters, though, because so many people were convinced that they were actually weaknesses for the Quarters, set out to steal the gifts and keep them for themselves. That forced many of their families to send them into hiding, if they hadn’t already been killed.

In fact, we were only recently learning that wasn’t the case, thanks to my grandmother—who was old as dirt and kept immaculate records.

Grammy’s old, leather-bound books from her personal library were scattered around them on the worn shag carpet, some opened, and others stacked haphazardly on top of each other.

They invited me to sit with them. Actually, they insisted that I sit with them, the way that they always did—and then Grammy pinned me down with her withering stare. The one that made me want to fold myself up into the smallest possible form and roll away from her.

“You've been helping Storie again.”

It wasn't a question. Even if it were, she wouldn't expect a confirmation. She was always three steps ahead of everyone.

It was our job to catch up.

Still, I nodded. My crossed legs began bouncing involuntarily, earning me a deeper glare from the old, wretched woman.

Of course, I loved her. She and Mom were the only family I had. Honestly, she was more of a mother to me growing up than my own mom was. I didn't blame my mother for that, though, as one might assume. She wasn't immune to Grammy's constant berating. I just wished she did more to protect me.

Break the cycle.

Instead, she threw me to the wolves and ran off, probably relieved to be free of them constantly nipping at her heels.

Bloodlines are strange, peculiar things, aren't they?

They can tell you who you are and where you come from. They can provide you with privilege and wealth beyond anything you could ever earn yourself. Or they could dig your grave far before you ever even existed.

I'd always known what it meant to be a Granger—the trials and tribulations that were attached to the name. But I'd also been stuck wondering about the other half of me? Where did that path lead?

I don't know who my father is. He was a tourist passing through our boring little town during the annual Mabon celebration. My mother says they instantly connected on a spiritual level and thus led to my conception. They agreed that staying strangers would keep their affair more interesting, opting not to share their real names with one another. He left before a pregnancy test was a thought in her mind.

It was the oldest story in the book, and par for the course with my flaky, eccentric mother, who rarely thought about anything outside of her own colorful aura. My grandmother had never let her live that decision down.

So, without any knowledge of my paternal side, half of me was always missing. I'd sit up at night fantasizing about it. Imagining that while my mother's genetics provided nothing but negativity and mistreatment throughout my formative years, my father's would be the key. That he held an authority and importance in the real world that could get me out of this swampland. That maybe Mom was just trying to be her weird, mysterious self by saying she didn't know his name and she was just nervous to reach out to him for fear of rejection. That she'd hand over a slip of paper on my birthday one year and gift me with the other half of myself.

But no. That day never came.

Reality hit me in the face on my eighteenth birthday when I finally built up the nerve to ask her about him. I’d never forget the look of pity that crossed her face as she repeated the same words she had said to me the first time I’d ever asked. That she truly had no idea who he was and at this point, probably couldn't even pick him out of a police lineup if she had to.

I planned to do things differently for my future children.

My mom noticed my legs bouncing as well. She placed a soft hand on my arm in an attempt to comfort me, effectively bringing my thoughts back to the present.

“We have something pretty serious to talk with you about.”

“Okay.” I blew out a breath.

They jumped right in, going over the history of the Granger family as it was written in the books they kept stored away in Grammy’s office. The books I had always been forbidden from reading. And none of it was what I’d been told while growing up.

Grammy slowly explained that the Grangers were one of the original thirteen founding families of Beacon Grove and the Watchtower coven. We were gifted the ability to control all four elements.

They called us the Center.

Over time, as Quarter families grew greedy and the other original families were being hunted and culled, the Grangers were forced to lie and hide their gifts, claiming the gods ended their powers to feed the Quarters. Naturally, the coven resented them and practically pushed them out, deeming them unworthy of the title.

Since then, they've been forced to hold their power in secret, as the fear of being discovered was far worse than any alternative. If it weren't for the fact that we were also the town's midwives, we would have been cast out altogether.

“If the gift is passed down through the Granger bloodline, does that mean Mom is the one who currently possesses it?”

“That's where things get a little weird. It seems like the gift may have skipped a generation. It very well could have skipped yours as well. There's no way to know,” my mother replied. 

My eyes swung to Grammy, whose lips were pursed like she was holding something back.

It explained so much.

“So, you're still in possession of it?”

I thought back to what Storie had told me about the other Quarters and their father's refusal to hand off their gifts when their sons came of age. Had Grammy done the same thing to Mom?

Mom answered for her. “Yes and no. Our gifts don't work the way the other Quarters’ do. Multiple generations can possess the gift at one time. Grammy's power has been slowly fading away, though. We've been waiting to see if it transferred to either you or me, but it appears to just be disappearing altogether.”

I sensed the tension those words invited and smiled nervously.

“All those years of lying seem to have caught up to us,” I joked.

“Don't you dare speak ill of our family line,” Grammy snapped, her nostrils flaring. Course, white flyaway strands of hair had fallen out of her tight ponytail and surrounded her head in what looked like a crown of spikes. “They made sacrifices you couldn't even bear to think about.”

I mumbled an apology and picked away at a speck of dust on my knee.

Mom's soft voice broke the tense silence that hung in the air around us. “We've tried to keep this from you as long as possible. We've watched the way the pressure has eaten away at the Quarter boys and knew it would be a heavy load for you to carry when there were no solutions to even explore. But when Storie came to town and the Winters boy began reclaiming his gifts, we started to feel a speck of hope that maybe the same would happen to us.”

“Do we have Counters as well?”

Mom nodded her head, and Grammy allowed her to continue speaking.

“Usually. When the last two generations of Quarters showed their greed for power, things started to shift. That's why they had such a hard time finding your friends’ Counters when they were born. Mother Nature did her best to turn the board and ensure no one could cheat. It seems as if our line got tangled in the fray somehow.”

“So, all this time we hated the Quarters… when really, we're one and the same.”

Mom offered a silent nod.

I looked over to Grammy, and the pieces were finally coming together. “That's why you're so defensive of them. If they fall, we all fall.”

“If those boys can't get a grip on this situation and stop the Movement from villainizing them, we're all going to pay the price.”

I felt my head bob in a silent nod of confirmation. It didn't seem plausible, though. Grangers were hardly considered members of the Watchtower coven. How the hell can we be the most powerful witches in it?

“Listen to me, Blaire.” Grammy sensed my doubtful thoughts. Her tone had dropped so low, I almost couldn’t recognize her. She was angry. Or afraid. Or both.

“There’s going to be a lot of things that shake up what you thought you knew. You’re an ignorant, naive girl…” She inhaled a deep breath, preparing for her next words, which I knew were next to impossible for her to utter.

“That’s our fault. Your mother and I have only been trying to protect you, but we’ve failed at doing that, and now we need you to pull up your big girl panties and follow along.”

I wanted to mouth back. To show her that she couldn't speak to me like a child anymore. Instead, I bowed my head and waited for her to go on. I could swear that, as if it were waiting for me to realize its presence, the impossible power they spoke of came to life and tingled beneath my skin.

Waiting to be released. Wanting to retaliate against anyone that doubted or wronged their new owner.

Grammy's words faded into the background as a dark mist crept into my mind. Thoughts and memories flashed behind my eyes of every instance I was ever treated poorly. Each time I'd been wronged by those around me, including the two women sitting before me.

These powers were ancient. They were unsettled and potent and awoken. The more my family spoke, the deeper they rooted until I, too, felt the rage at every injustice. Not just against myself, but against every Granger woman who possessed them and was snuffed out by those egotistical Quarters and our spineless coven.

There was an ice that filled my veins.

No, it was colder than ice. Yet, it burned hot at the same time. It was the powerful force of wind creating tsunami waves—of oxygen igniting volcanic flames over barren land. I knew everything and nothing at all. I was the alpha and the omega—the beginning and the end.

The emotions coursing through me were swift and dynamic and not entirely my own. I wanted to scream at the sensation. But deep, deep down, something told me to hold it in. To let them think I was the same girl who walked into this room.

For there was power in ignorance.

I hardly managed to get through the rest of Grammy’s lecturing. She was over-explaining and simplifying things that I suddenly knew more about. I wondered if she had ever experienced the shift and if she noticed when it happened to her. 

Had Mom ever gotten her chance to wield the Granger gifts, or had Grammy kept it from her somehow? I couldn’t imagine she would have ever allowed her mother to treat her this way if she had. It’d been less than an hour and I already wanted to breathe fire down the old woman’s throat.

The gods had mercy on her, though, because just as I was about to correct her for yet another skewed fact about our family’s history, she rolled her eyes and turned toward my mother.

“I think we should stop. She seems to be checked out,” she impatiently huffed.

I didn’t have the energy to argue. Instead, I nodded my agreement and stood from the floor, walking off to my room without bothering to offer my help with cleaning up.

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