I realize I’m running somewhat behind on releasing the excerpt for The Darkness. I swear it’s only because I’ve been super busy getting The Cursed ready. Anyway, I’ve included the first chapter for your perusal. For those of you who haven’t already gotten it, The Darkness is available for preorder and will be released Tuesday, October 13th.
Also, I wanted to give you a brief update on the rest of the series. The Cursed is with my editor, and I will be working on getting it available for preorder this week with a release date set for the last week in November (probably Tuesday the 24th, but I have to double-check with my editor and make sure that jives with her schedule.) I’ve already begun writing The Light and it’s still scheduled for a December release.
Also, I know I said this before but thought it was worth mentioning again. I will be posting an Avery Tywella Short Story on here on Tuesday in celebration of The Darkness being released. I will go ahead and warn everyone that Avery and Jared are not in the new series for first few books because they’re busy with their own stuff. Sorry, no spoilers. I will also warn that I changed up my writing style for this series. Instead of being written strictly in first person, this series is split between first person and third person. I have to say, at first I wasn’t sure I would like it, but soon found out it was fun to be able to write what the fellas are thinking.
Have a great weekend everyone and I really hope you enjoy the excerpt!!
Foreboding filled my gut as I rushed to pack supplies into my bag. I hoped I wouldn’t be gone long, but if I was, I could buy any necessities. Otherwise, I really only needed two things—my gun and the spellbook I had already added to the pack. I would only use the latter as a last resort. None of the spells would work on the being I was trying to find anyway, except to make him stronger.
My aunt’s words ran through my mind warning me that it was only a matter of time before they came here and that I would need to be prepared when they did. We were the only ones who knew what they were and possibly the only ones who could stop them.
Why did she have to die on me? Why did they wait until I was alone to come here? I would have been quite contented to train another to do the fighting once I was a more experienced Witch. Instead, I was running off to fight a fight I didn’t want but had been preparing for as long as I could remember. It was better when I was younger and still had the delusion of my aunt’s protection to soothe me, but she was gone now. A plane crash had taken her from me. The strongest Witch I knew, but even magic had its limitations. She was the one who taught me that. Though we could regenerate our cells to stay youthful for millennia if we choose, we couldn’t put our body back together after it had been practically incinerated in a fiery explosion.
I couldn’t harp on that now. I should have already been in my car. I should have already been there, fighting, protecting others like myself, and preventing this world from going to hell. My hand shook as I put the key in the ignition, and I pulled it away before taking a deep breath and steeling my resolve. I would do this. I could do this. I had to. Despite my attempts at bravado, my mind turned to other options: I could run. There were other dimensions out there similar to this one. I could use the stored magic I possessed to open a portal to one of them. It would give me time. How much, I wasn’t sure, but I was sure it would be more than I would have if I started this car.
Could I leave others to die? The Humans on this plane were very strong with their advanced technology. They should be able to wipe any threat off the face of this planet, but I knew they wouldn’t stand a chance. A spell beat technology every day of the week, and this adversary undoubtedly had enough magic to demolish this entire plane, after they took what they wanted.
I looked at my cabin getting smaller in the rearview window as I drove down the long, winding dirt road that would take me to civilization. The sky was just starting to turn the dark purple that would soon become dawn, leaving an otherworldly glow on my home. I would miss my cabin in the swamps terribly. I rolled down my windows and listened to the frogs, cicadas, and crickets serenade me on my journey away from my sanctuary. For just a moment, a smile graced my face as I pretended I was on my back porch watching the fireflies and swatting the mosquitos.
A deer crossed the road in front of me, pulling me out of my reverie. I hit the brakes and came to a stop as he, too, paused just on the side of the road facing me. He wasn’t looking into my headlights, though. He was looking directly at me. I stared back into his black eyes for a moment before nodding. His head lowered slightly, showing his full set of antlers. I smiled and started on my way again as he ran back into the forest. The smile stayed in place as I continued on my way. There was nothing quite like a good, old-fashioned omen to put things into perspective.
I headed east, leaving Louisiana behind, passing through the southern tips of Mississippi and Alabama, and entering Florida. Jacksonville is in the northeast part of the state, within minutes of the Atlantic to the east and Georgia to the north.
When I pulled into the drive of the historical home that belonged to the local Coven Mother, I could feel the anxiety and trepidation leaking out from within. They were scared, and they deserved to be. I took a deep breath and looked at my reflection in the mirror. I worked on my expression until none of my own fear showed. The Mother would still know, but I would make sure the members of her coven didn’t. I was their last hope after all. I should be some badass who was used to killing beings like this every day, not someone who was barely a woman and used to spending her days as a hermit in the Louisiana bayou. My aunt’s words resonated through my brain. “You only get one chance to make a first impression, Riya love.”
As I stood on the porch, I stopped to feel the wards on the house. They were strong, which was to be expected at a Coven Mother’s home. I raised my hand to knock but didn’t get the opportunity before a girl answered and ushered me into the house. She smiled softly at me, and I realized she wasn’t a girl at all. She had the stature of a young teen, but her face made her appear about my age, probably in her mid-twenties. She was short, though. I was rather tall for a woman at five nine, and she was a good head shorter than me. Her olive-toned skin and dark hair and eyes were the exact opposite of my blonde hair and light green eyes. Luckily, my aunt had taught me an easy spell as a child that protected my skin against the sun. Summers in Louisiana can be brutal, and with my naturally pasty complexion I would have spent them as red as a lobster. As it was, I had a fairly decent tan, but it did nothing to hide the freckles covering the bridge of my nose.
“It is nice to finally meet you, Riya. I’m Kit.”
I looked at the girl in front of me and put forth an effort not to ask her how long she had known I was coming. I was only notified this morning that I was needed and came straight here.
The woman smiled at me. “I forget myself sometimes. I knew of your coming weeks ago.” She tapped her temple with her forefinger. “I also told the Coven Mother of our impending need of you. I didn’t tell her everything, though.”
“What would everything consist of?” I figured it didn’t hurt to find out what she knew. If she was truly a psychic, she knew a whole hell of a lot.
She moved closer to me. “Where this creature came from, where you came from, and who this being used to be.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant by the last part, but apparently she knew more about me than I did her. Before I could ask her to elaborate, she stepped past the short wall that separated the entryway from the living room and curtsied for the Mother.
Dotti Lee, the Coven Mother of the Florida/Georgia convergence, sat in a recliner facing me. She took only a second to evaluate me, and if the sour look was an indication, she found me lacking. I took longer in my perusal of her. She had the appearance of a woman in her mid-twenties with dark-brown hair and brown eyes dark enough to be considered black.
Her magic told me she was easily a couple hundred years older than she appeared, though. She had at least one ring on each finger, each containing some kind of stone. My gut told me one of those stones held a store of power. She likely wore so many in an attempt to hide which one held the power. Plus, natural stones already hold energy within them and having that many acted as a barrier so most wouldn’t be able to tell she carried the extra magic.
I wasn’t most. I have always been more attuned to magic than others. It was both my gift and my curse. My ability and the training I’ve went through made me particularly ideal for this job.
Since the Mother had yet to address me, I figured I’d get this ball rolling. I didn’t drive more than five hundred miles for posturing. “The being isn’t here, so why don’t you tell me where he is and I can be on my way.”
“He has killed five of ours in as many days. You will treat me with respect or not at all.”
I shrugged. “I was under the impression you called me. I’m not here to disrespect you, just to do what I need to and return to my home. You say he killed five of yours. Have you heard of any others from the other covens?”
Technically, she hadn’t called me. She had instead contacted the Witch’s council, and it just happened that I knew a Wizard who was married to a member, and he contacted me. He knew enough of my past to know this was a serious issue.
“I spoke with the Coven Mother in Atlanta, and she had informed me three of her Witches have perished. I have not been in contact with any other covens.”
“I don’t feel anything in the immediate area. I’ll go to where the others were killed and see if I can track him from there.”
“Then you will need to go to Savannah.”
“The others were killed in Georgia? Why was I sent here then?”
“I am their Coven Mother. It is only through my approval you will proceed.”
Don’t do it. Don’t do it. I rolled my eyes despite my attempt not to. Do you know what the worst thing is about people with power? Power. For some, once they get a taste of it, it’s never enough. That’s what started this whole mess in the first place. It seemed Dotti Lee liked to make sure everyone knew she was in charge. It didn’t really surprise me that her coven included Savannah. There weren’t a lot of Witches in this area until you got closer to Atlanta. She probably governed every Witch in a hundred-mile radius. That didn’t mean she couldn’t have allowed me to hunt the Darkness first and check in with her afterward.
“I’ll be sure to tell the family of the next Witch who is killed by the Darkness that I would have possibly been able to stop it if the Coven Mother wasn’t so worried about her position in the situation.” I didn’t bother waiting for her response. I knew where I needed to be now, and Savannah was a two-hour ride from here.
Kit stopped me as I left the house. “Be careful, Riya, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
I just nodded. I wasn’t sure if she was talking about her help or someone else’s, but I supposed I would find out.
As I exited the interstate in Savannah, I could feel the dark magic of the Darkness calling me. It was pulling me, telling me where he was, and I allowed it to guide me like a homing beacon. When I reached the downtown area, I parked and started on foot. I didn’t want to be stuck in my car if I saw him, and I could tell he was close now. His magic was practically suffocating me.
That was the problem. I could feel the dark magic and knew it was coming from somewhere nearby, but I couldn’t actually pinpoint it because the entire area was saturated with it. I knew it wasn’t really. This being had so much magic that it was leaking off him in waves, and everywhere he’d been and the immediate area still held the residual.
As I reached the end of the street, I looked both left and right but couldn’t tell which way had a stronger magic content. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath while resting my hand on the butt of my gun. I did my best to close out my surroundings and concentrate on the magic. At the same moment I realized it was strongest behind me, a scream rang out. My gun was out, and I was running before I could second-guess myself.
As I approached where the scream had come from, a huge blond man ran out the door of what looked like a bar. I immediately recognized that his magic was unlike any I had seen before, and I never forget a magic. Given his kilt, I guessed he was Fey. He held a sword that looked as long as I was tall, and the look on his face had me stopping in my tracks. He was going to kill someone, and I couldn’t stop the prayer I sent up to the Goddess that it wasn’t me. The Darkness appeared behind the Fey and reached for him.
He turned in time to swing his sword at the being, removing one of his hands. The Darkness turned black and seemed to melt into goo, only to reemerge to the Fey’s left. The Fey reached into his pocket, pulled out a small satchel, and was about to throw it at the being.
“Don’t! No magic. It’ll only make him stronger.”
It was too late, the Darkness absorbed the satchel and again reached for the Fey. His hand had regrown already, but before he could touch him, the Fey swung his sword at the being’s neck. The Darkness had already begun melting again, so the sword passed right through him. He reappeared directly in front of me, and my training kicked in, causing me to take a step back and lift my gun at his head.
I paused briefly as I looked at him. Of course, my aunt had explained what they looked like. The being in front of me looked just like a man in his mid-twenties. The eyes are what gave away what he had become. They must have been blue naturally, but the high amount of magic within the being caused them to appear illuminated.
The thing that made me pause wasn’t my curiosity about what one of the Darkness looked like but because he looked familiar. I knew that I knew him but couldn’t quite grasp the memory. He saw the gun, and his eyes widened slightly as he realized what it was. Immediately he turned to blackness and began melting again, and I knew there was no sense in firing, but the Fey had chosen that moment to stab him.
Unfortunately, the blade of his sword passed straight through the being, and I watched as, in slow motion, it continued into me. It seemed as though the entire length of that enormous blade slid into my upper stomach, and I could actually feel it break through as it continued out my back.
Huh. I’ve never been stabbed before. I would have thought it would hurt more. Perhaps I was in shock.