Well, we were going to have a new release today but unfortunately, as often happens in both life and publishing, things haven’t gone quite to plan. Some issues were picked up in final checks and rather than rushing it out when things weren’t quite right, we’ve agreed to put back a few weeks to the 29th October. While, I’m obviously a little disappointed, it does mean I have a bit longer to get things planned out and I get a Halloween-week release – so have an excuse to go overboard on the spooky stuff 🙂
It did give me a bit of a dilemma on what to post here today though, as I had nothing planned apart from squeeing about my new release. So, I’ve decided since I promised you something shiny and new, then that’s what you shall get! This is the first part of a brand new, never-seen-before free read. It’s a prequel to Love Reawakened (so if you’ve read earlier versions you will hopefully recognise some of the characters), and will probably be eventually released as a free read on Amazon – but you saw it here first. Since I wasn’t planning on releasing this quite yet, you’ll have to excuse me if it’s not as well-edited as the final copy will be. Really hope you enjoy! 🙂
Emma cringed as the warm stickiness covered her fingers. Urgh, did blood have to be so… well, icky! A shiver ran through her as the cold of the graveyard seemed to seep into her bones. Concentrate! There were five other students stood behind her, the previous three had all managed to do this, and she wasn’t going to look like an idiot by wussing out. She took a deep breath, trying to focus on the fresh scent of the grass and dirt, not the metallic smell of blood. Her fingers shook as she slowly began to trace symbols with the blood. She could do this, had done it a million times in the classroom.
A hum of power slowly began to grow, the hairs on her body rising and a soft vibration buzzing through the soles of her shoes. Her movements became more confident, the symbols automatically appearing beneath her fingers as the power rose. A sound behind her snapped her out of her trance. What the… ? She glanced around, there was nothing amiss, one of the other students had probably stood on a twig, but it had broken her concentration. Her brow furrowed as she stared down at the symbols, the rhythm suddenly lost. Was it a full circle or a spiral to complete this one? Think!
She looked back again, searching for May, their instructor. The tall woman was stood right at the back, laughing at something Teresa was saying. They didn’t look over. The rest of the students were starting to stare at her, and Emma could see scorn on their faces. This should be a simple spell, but already she could feel the power starting to fade. No! She could do this. It was a spiral, she was sure it was a spiral. Dipping her fingers back into the red stickiness she finished the symbols, stepped back and brought her hands down to close the circle. Power hummed along it and she breathed a sigh of relief. See, nothing to worry about.
The ground began boiling in front of her and it was an effort of will to stand her ground as the dirt parted and a smallish form rose up. Animals only at this stage, thank God, they weren’t to be trusted with humans. The dog-like shape looked a bit ragged but it was moving. Emma took a deep breath and prepared to chant the ritual words. Before she could even open her mouth it turned to face her, lips drawn back over snarling teeth and an unholy fury burning in its glassy eyes. Oh shit, something was seriously wrong here.
The creature crouched back onto strong hind legs, before leaping straight at her as though the circle didn’t exist. Emma screamed, the sound being echoed behind her as the other students started gasping and crying out. The creature’s weight slammed into her chest and she was flung to the ground. Pain shot through her head, and then it all went black.
The two men strode easily through the graveyard, keeping pace with each other with the habit of long use. Both moved silently, long strides eating up the space between the carefully kept graves.
“I still don’t think it’s a good idea. You know you can’t keep something like that to yourself forever, sooner or later the council is going to find out.” Garret ran a hand over his close-cropped hair in frustration.
The other man simply smiled back at him. “I’m aware of that, little brother. However, neither will I be a test subject for them to prod and poke, subject always to their will.”
“Come on, D, I’m sure it wouldn’t be like that. They can’t force you to do anything.”
Deacan’s smile grew grim. “No, they can’t, but it’s better if they don’t realize that for a while.”
Garret snorted. “I would have thought anyone who knew you would realize that.”
“You would think.” Deacon’s tone was light. “Anyway, this discussion grows dull, what are your plans for the rest of the night?”
A laugh escaped the younger man. “I don’t know yet. Probably head out to find something to amuse me.”
“Or someone?” Deacan asked slyly.
Garret grinned, his brother knew him so well sometimes. “Hey, it passes the time. You should come along sometime, find someone yourself. God knows, you live like a goddamn monk most of the time.”
“You have no idea how I live, little brother, but I’m afraid I must decline this time. Things to do.”
As though in synch they paused at seeing the small group on the hillside. Garret’s sharp eyes picked out the details first.
“Witches who still need the training wheels on,” he snorted disdainfully.
“Come on now, you know you’ve played teacher before.” His brother gave a mock shudder. “Don’t know how you manage it myself.”
Garret shrugged. “It pays. Doesn’t mean I have to approve of witches getting in our business though. Should stick to their pretty light shows.”
A scream suddenly rang out from the group, followed by gasps and shouts. The brothers looked at each other.
“Apparently they should.” Deacan grunted, as they both ran towards the class.