The Preserver & Protector Series - Book cover

The Preserver & Protector Series

Valerie J. Clarizio

Age Rating


The Preserver and Protector Series by Valerie J. Clarizio consists of two captivating stories following veterans that are whisked back in time - and find out they are Preservers.

In Time WARped, Veteran Blake Cornelis visits his great grandfather’s Civil War grave and is transported to Gettysburg to preserve his family's military honor from his cousin Evan, who seeks to steal it. Blake, aided by Ariel, a time travel Protector, faces constant battles with Evan. The intense bond between Blake and Ariel complicates their mission, as they navigate various wartimes. With the fate of the American people at stake, Blake and Ariel must make immense sacrifices to thwart Evan, who will stop at nothing to succeed.

In Destiny Reclaimed, Jack Cornelis plans to finish his Vietnam tour, marry his sweetheart, and start a family. But as a Preserver, he's sent back in time to protect his family's military record from thieving relatives. After marrying Gwendoline Tebon, her joy turns to grief when her twin brother dies in action. Learning Jack is a time traveler, she begs him to save her brother. He refuses, as Preservers can't alter history, but eventually gives in, causing undesirable present-day consequences. Jack must now restore the timeline before their new destiny becomes permanent.

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40 Chapters

1: Chapter One

Book 1: Time WARped

Blake Cornelis stepped up to the podium bordering the war memorial in front of city hall to begin the remembrance ceremony as he'd done every Memorial Day for the past eight years. A task he assumed when he'd retired from the military and had taken a job with the county as the veteran service officer.

He looked toward the crowd of several hundred who'd come to pay respect to soldiers of times past. Sadly, since last year, two more names of young Marines who'd lost their lives in Afghanistan had been etched into the dark, unforgiving granite. Their teary-eyed parents stood front and center, staring at him, looking to him as if he should have some magical words to comfort them, to make them feel as though their sons' lives had mattered and changed the world. To him, without a doubt, those young men did matter, but how to convey that to grieving parents was beyond him.

Blake's gaze drifted to his daughter. Second Lieutenant Eva Cornelis stood proudly off to his right with the other active-duty soldiers. Pride laced through him as fear snaked up his spine. She'd be deploying soon. His little girl would be going off to a danger zone, and he wouldn't be there to protect her. Though she was a strong, intelligent, independent woman, and he couldn’t be prouder, he still worried. His only daughter—only child—would soon be out of his protective reach.

Between the thought of his daughter deploying, and those heartbroken parents staring at him, he'd never be able to deliver his speech until he got his focus off of them. One of the grieving women sniffled, and then patted her eyes with a tissue.

Blake's chest tightened and his pulse pounded. Speeches didn't normally make him nervous or anxious but today proved differently. He swallowed hard, choking down the lump in his throat, and started to speak as he glanced over the crowd. His gaze landed on a blond woman. Her bright sapphire eyes pulled him in like a magnet. His heart skipped a beat. She wasn't familiar to him, yet he felt an instant connection to her. The depths of her reassuring gaze calmed his nerves and he continued speaking.

After he finished kicking off the program, he turned the microphone over to several other soldiers, both retired and active. He listened attentively to every word they said. When the program ended, he anxiously searched the crowd for the woman who'd captured his attention. She was gone.

People milled around the memorial for a while visiting with family, friends, and soldiers, then, little by little, the area cleared out.

With a heavy heart, he kissed his daughter on the cheek, and she and her friend departed. They needed to get back to their base and prepare to deploy. He had hoped to spend more time with her, but her short leave didn't allow for it. Loneliness gripped his heart as he watched her drive off, squeezing tighter with each rotation of her tires. This was the last time he would see her for at least a year.

Alone, he stared after her, his mind wandering to thoughts of Patti. If only she were here. She would be so proud of Eva—scared, but proud. Damn the black ice that had spun her car out of control and took her life ten years ago. His eyes watered at the thought like they'd done so many times in the past. God, he missed her, and it broke his heart that she'd been ripped away from their daughter at the young age of fourteen. If the teen years weren't bad enough to begin with, Eva had to muddle through them without a mother. His shoulders slumped. He tried his best to play both roles, dad and mom, but he knew it wasn't the same. Not even close. Eva lost out. Blake shook his head. There was nothing he could do about it now but continue to move forward.

As he did every Memorial Day, Blake headed out to the cemeteries where he'd place flags on military tombstones. Only this year, it would be different. It would be the first time he'd do it alone, without his daughter and dad at his side. Sadly, this would be the first Memorial Day he'd have to place a flag on his father's grave—a decorated Vietnam veteran who passed away five months earlier.

After a fifteen-minute, soul-searching drive, he pulled up to the trailhead leading to the old, overgrown county-owned cemetery, where he'd find his great-great-grandfather's flat, weathered tombstone. Surrounding it were some of his immediate and extended family members, a couple of generations’ worth.

Of the four Civil War soldiers laid to rest in this small cemetery, only two of them had not been killed in battle, Blake's great-great-grandfather Ben Cornelis and his cousin Simon Dupont. Those men—boys—returned home to carry on their family names.

Blake slid out of his truck with four small flags gripped in his hand. One for each soldier. It saddened him to know he'd be the only visitor today to this long-forgotten cemetery to honor these men.

He started the half-mile trek through the woods, hardwoods to the left of him and cedars to the right. The darkening sky drew his focus upward. As usual, he'd be visiting graves and placing flags in the rain. Not uncommon Wisconsin weather on Memorial Day.

Looking ahead, just beyond the end of the cedar tree line, he zoned in on the mangled mess of scrub trees, mainly sumac, surrounding the old cemetery. If one didn't know the cemetery existed, they certainly wouldn't realize it when walking by. It looked like a little island of dead trees and bushes between two distinct forests of cedar trees.

Blake stepped up to what he thought was the intended gateway to the cemetery and studied it for a moment.

The air smelled of damp moss.

Weathered old stones poked out of the weeds and brush. They leaned every which way and towered less than a foot over the tall grass line. He'd made an assumption that long ago these stones stood straight and proud and tight to one another, to form a fence around the plot. But now, they were crooked and moss-covered. Though there were spaces between many of the stones, the spot he stood in front of now had a bigger gap edged with taller stones—an opening he believed to be a grand entrance at one time.

The thick and mangled brush prevented him from seeing even one headstone from where he stood. He shook his head in shame as he recalled how the county board continually denied his veterans group’s offer to clean up the cemetery, claiming they wanted to keep the graveyard in its natural state. Though that seemed disrespectful to him, there was nothing he could do about it.

After slipping on a pair of leather gloves, he gripped a handful of brush, pulling it aside so he could pass through the tangled mess and then proceed to the opening of the stone fence. To his surprise, he caught sight of a new headstone to his immediate right and not the flush-to-the-ground flat kind he was used to seeing. This was a modern stone that stood about a foot high. It was thicker at the base and gradually narrowed to about four inches wide at the top. “Simon Dupont” was engraved in the off-white concrete plate fastened to the maroon granite stone. The dates, 1849-1901, were etched below the name, and then “Civil War Hero” was engraved near the bottom of the plaque. The man's gravesite was cleared out and perfectly manicured. A small flag had been attached to the front of the tombstone.

He studied the headstone and plot. Out of respect, he was happy to see the site preserved, but what about the rest of the graves? Why, when he asked through the years, was he not allowed to clean up the whole cemetery? Especially that of his great-great-grandfather Ben, a true war hero. A boy who at the age of fourteen lied about his age so he could join the Army and fight for the North. At the age of fifteen, he'd been credited with saving a ranking officer on the battlefield. Later, he'd been awarded a silver medal.

Blake recalled the story of how his great-great-grandfather Ben had run off with his cousin, Simon Dupont, to enlist. But as the story went, not both boys were heroes of war. In fact, Simon was the furthest thing from it. He’d turned out to be a war criminal. He'd been part of a Union Prisoner Of War camp for Confederate soldiers who tortured the prisoners by starvation. They were fed just enough to keep them alive, and they weren’t allowed any fruits or vegetables to help ward off infection. They’d been made to drink from the same creek from which they bathed.

Simon was part of the Union staff who manned this prison. Later, Simon's commanding officer was tried, court-martialed, and hanged for murder. A few of the other men under his command were imprisoned, but Simon and another young boy were simply sent home.

As the story goes, Simon never recovered from his part in the torturing. He turned to booze for comfort and lived the life of an abusive alcoholic. Blake sighed, hoping the story was untrue, but he knew odds were pretty good that some part of that tale was likely real. But who really knew? It'd happened over 150 years ago. Truth and lies alike could have been distorted in that time.

Blake placed a flag on Simon's headstone and then spun on his heel. The soggy earth squished beneath his feet. It had rained some the night before, and judging from the dark, swirling clouds, it would soon be raining again. He stepped away from the damp soil and back onto the narrow, nearly-unrecognizable path leading to his great-great-grandfather's gravesite. A rush of damp, frigid air blew by him, sending an eerie chill coursing through his flesh. The strange sensation seeped deep into his bones. Unease coiled in the pit of his stomach.

The spine-chilling feeling had him considering hightailing it out of the cemetery, but he couldn’t—not until he finished his tradition of placing the remaining flags on the other three Civil War veteran graves.

As he moved toward the makeshift tunnel he'd have to pass through to get to the other gravesites, he leaned forward and bent nearly ninety degrees at his waist to enter the narrow passageway. It was odd how the spindly branches that shaped the tunnel could twist and bend that much to mold that circular channel without breaking. Though peculiar, the unusual tunnel was a natural fit in the old cemetery.

Blake looked ahead as he took another step. The small, weathered grave marker etched with Ben Cornelis's name lay just ahead.

A bolt of lightning lit up the sky, and Blake glanced over his shoulder scarcely in time to see it strike the entryway to his branch tunnel. Fearful that the dried-up old branches would burst into flames with just the simplest spark, he lunged forward as fast as his legs would allow.

His eyes focused ahead, and before he could plant his foot from his second-long stride, a blast of hot air blew by him trailed by a booming roar. It knocked him to his knees. The heat was such he was sure his clothes would catch fire. With the end of the short passageway in sight, he crawled to beat hell. He was almost out. Another three seconds was all he needed. Lightning sparked and sizzled in the air. Thunder cracked, blinding and deafening him as a gust of air picked him off his hands and knees and hurled him through the tunnel before dropping him on the ground.

A cannon roared; canister and musket balls whizzed by him. Some hit the earth in front of him, throwing up little clouds of dust.

He sprang to his feet. Adrenaline rushed through his veins.

Blake moved forward and tripped, falling hard on his knees, but he was able to hold the musket in his hands. Musket? Where did that come from? What in the hell am I the middle of? ~The freaking Civil War?~

Still on all fours, he glanced from side to side. Men dressed in blue uniforms stood next to him. Men in gray uniforms rushed toward him. The hailstorm of bullets kept coming. He didn't know where he was, how he got there, and what in the hell was going on, but what he did know was that he was getting shot at, and that couldn't be good.

Someone tugged his arm. "Get up! Hurry! We've got to hurry. We need to get to him before your cousin does."

Cousin? Blake peered through the thick smoke at the Union soldier next to him. Through blurred vision, he realized it was just a boy in a man's uniform. That explained the less-than-masculine voice that had yelled at him, but the lad was strong; for his small size, he’d been able to yank Blake to his feet.

Like a magnet, his gaze latched onto the boy’s. There seemed to be no fear in the depths of the bright blue eyes staring back at him. How very strange, because at the moment, he, a grown man, was scared shitless.

"Come on! We need to get to the line!" the boy yelled.

Unsure of any other option, he followed him. They moved quickly, not stopping once to fire their muskets. The lad was on a mission that Blake was evidently a part of.

Among the roar of artillery, he heard a drumbeat. He wasn't sure what the drummer signaled, but from the direction the soldiers in blue were moving, he could only assume it was the signal for attack.

The dense, white smoke hovering in the air smelled of sulfur and coated his tongue with a metallic flavor. Between his watery eyes and the puffs of smoke, he couldn’t see but twenty feet in front of him, and only the first half of that was somewhat clear. Muskets fired nearby. Hints of charcoal penetrated his burning nostrils.

Through the deafening noise, the beat of the drum stayed steady but grew louder. After a few more steps, he caught sight of a thin boy beating on the instrument. A Union officer close to the drummer barked out orders. A Confederate soldier reached up and yanked the officer from his horse. The men fought.

"Where is he? Where's Evan? Do you see him?" the boy leading him asked.

The urgency in the lad's voice was unmistakable. Yet Blake didn't know what he was talking about. More importantly, he was still trying to figure out how he ended up in the midst of the Civil War wearing a Union uniform when the last thing he remembered was visiting his great-great-grandfather's grave. What seemed like only minutes earlier he was in 2016, and now he was in 1864…1865…what year was this?

The lad grabbed him by his collar and pulled him toward him. Pleading blue eyes were only inches away from his. "We need to find Evan and keep him from changing history."

What was this kid—young man—talking about? Wait a minute. Upon further inspection, long lashes lined those incredible sapphire eyes. Not typical lashes for a man. Even with all the musket balls zinging by them, Blake couldn't help but take a couple of seconds to scan over the lovely, delicate features of the woman soldier gripping his shirt collar. Until now, he hadn't had a chance to thoroughly look at the soldier as he mostly followed behind him—her. Soft-looking, milky-white skin made up the face staring back at him. "What…?"

"I'll explain later," she interrupted, "but for now, your distant cousin, Evan, is here to change history."

He crinkled his brow. "Evan Dupont is here, too?" How could his cousin, who was the same age as Blake, be in the midst of this war as well?

"Yes, and we need to find him and stop whatever it is he’s planning to do!"

"He's in prison." The words were hardly out of Blake's mouth when the sight of his long-lost cousin came into focus. Evan stood behind the drummer, taking aim with his musket on the center of the thin boy's back. Suddenly, it dawned on Blake. This wasn't just any drummer. Blake recognized him from photos he'd seen. It was his great-great-grandfather, Ben. The Civil War soldier who’d saved a ranking officer. Evan was going to kill him. This is what the woman meant. His cousin planned to kill Ben before he could save the officer, forever changing history—but why?

"Holy shit!" Blake exclaimed as he pulled out from the woman's grip and hurled himself between Evan and Ben. The musket blasted. Blake's skin tore open, his flesh burned, and he fell to the ground. Through pained, hazy vision, he watched the woman move toward Evan, but the man vanished into thin air before she reached him. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, his distant cousin was gone. Frantically, he scanned over the other fighting soldiers to verify his cousin was not among them. There was no trace of him, but among all the chaos, who would know for sure.

The woman soldier spun, turning her attention to him, satisfaction emitting from her gaze. Pulling a cloth from her satchel, she pressed it to his throbbing, bleeding arm, right above his bicep. "You did it. Watch," she said as she pointed in the direction of the drummer.

She helped him into a seated position barely in time for him to see his great-great-grandfather throw down his drum and pull a sword from a fallen Confederate soldier. He wielded the sword back and then forward to plunge it into the man taking aim with a handgun on his ranking officer. The Confederate soldier fell dead, sword still in him when he hit the ground.

The officer nodded at Ben, pulled his own sword from its sheath, and commenced fighting with another enemy troop. Ben bent over, grabbed the enemy's handgun, tucked it into his waistband, and then picked up his drum.

Blake returned his gaze to the woman who held him. She pulled the blood-seeped cloth back from his wound and studied it. The noise of the artillery rumbled in the background. The hazy, sulfur-infused air thickened, making it difficult to breath. Soldiers dressed in blue and gray fought with each other.

"Our work here is done. Evan left. We need to get you out of here," she said with urgency laced in her tone.

"Wait, what's going on? How did I get here? And why?" Glancing around, he took in the chaos. Confusion filled him. He thought maybe it was all a dream, but his aching arm reminded him otherwise.

"I'll explain later. Right now, we need to get out of here."

The woman sprang to her feet, yanking him up with her. The quick, jerky motion made him dizzy.

When another musket ball flew past his ear, he willed his feet to move in the direction she led. Her firm grip on his arm remained as they dodged enemies and bullets while stepping over fallen soldiers.

In the distance, a small white building slowly came into focus. As they narrowed in, he noticed the steeple. A church?

Wounded soldiers sat on the steps as they leaned against one another for support. Some had bandages on their heads, face, and arms. In many cases, blood had seeped through the thin fabric. These must be the only slightly wounded.

The double doors to the church were open. The man standing just inside the entrance waved them in. He looked exhausted, and the amount of blood covering his clothes indicated he’d either been at it for a while, or that he’d treated an enormous number of casualties.

Blake lifted his heavy leg. Ascending the three steps to the entryway felt like climbing a mountain. Between the exertion and adrenaline rushing through him, he was utterly exhausted.

Barely through the entryway, he fell onto a cot, and the guy who'd greeted him at the door removed the cloth from around his bicep. The man guided him into a sitting position, and then the blue-eyed angel who'd led him to safety pulled his shirt from him.

He eased back down until he was flat on his back.

The man studied his wound. "It's not too bad."

Blake begged to differ, but as he flashed his gaze around the small room and saw other soldiers who were missing limbs and screaming in agony, he decided he should thank God for his good fortune.

The doctor—or medic, whoever he was—looked to the angel at his side. "I can see the bullet. Hold him. I'm going to pull it out quickly."

Fear cracked through Blake like a whip. Take it out? No anesthetic! "What?"

The woman leaned on him, pinning him to the bed. "It's okay. Just look at me."

Her soft, comforting gaze mesmerized him for the briefest of moments before the doctor twisted his arm, sending a stabbing sensation through his nervous system. He gritted his teeth as the doctor's fingers probed into him. A splash of alcohol followed. His flesh pricked with the intensity of being stung by a thousand wasps, bringing tears to his eyes. As the piercing sensations lightened, little picks and pulls to his skin took over. That he could tolerate after the stabbing and severe stinging sensations. The picks and pulls continued as the doctor stitched him up.

The stench of blood and rot permeated his nostrils.

The woman loosened her grip on him, dampened a cloth in a container next to the cot and wrung it out, before pressing the cool material to his forehead. She repeated the alleviating process several times.

Without a word, the doctor rose to his feet and moved on to the next wounded soldier.

Blake stared into the caring woman's eyes. He swallowed a couple of times to moisten his dry, itchy throat. "What is your name?" he asked, his voice not much more than a whisper.


A perfect name for a guardian angel. His lifesaver.

The woman patted his forehead again with a refreshed, cool cloth.

"Can you tell me what in the hell is going on now?"

She nodded. "Your father didn't prepare you, did he?"

"Prepare me for what?"

She drew in a breath and let it out slowly. The warmth of it washed over his face.

"There's no easy way to say this, so here goes. You’re a time traveler. A Preserver. Your job is to preserve history. I'm a Protector. My job is to watch over you to make sure you are able to do so. It's a power that was passed onto you when your dad died. He obtained it from his father, and so on."

He pushed her hand away and thrust himself into a seated position. Pain ripped through his arm. Sweat dripped from his forehead and stung his eyes. "That's crazy."

Ariel lifted her hand, and palm up, swung it around. "Is it? Take a look around you. You're in the middle of a Civil War battle." She arched a brow. "In what year were you born?"

He glanced around the makeshift hospital, then returned his gaze to her. "1967."


Blake's memories returned to last December. He was at his dad's bedside when the man took his final breath. Toward the end, during the last few minutes of his father's life, his heart rate monitor spiked as he chanted some gibberish. At the time, Blake chalked it up to the pain medicine, but looking back now, maybe his dad had been trying to tell him something important but ran out of time.

Time travel. No way. This has to be some weird-ass dream. Though he hadn't spoken those words out loud, Ariel shook her head as if he had.

"It's true. You are now the chosen one to preserve your family history."

Blake worked to absorb this information. The sincerity in her eyes made him believe her, yet his mind flooded with doubt. He had so many questions, and he needed answers. He opened his mouth to speak, but before any sound escaped, a hot force of air sucked him into what could only be described as a tornado-like atmosphere. The whirling wind whisked him out the door of the church. The funnel roared and spun him into oblivion.

He reached toward his guardian angel, who faded out of sight from the steps of the church where she stood.

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