Tag Archives: paranormal

Author Showcase – Judith Sterling (The Cauldron Stirred) (The Stone Awakened)

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Guardians of Erin, Book One

 

Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.

At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate.  For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.

But Aengus is secretive, with good reason.  He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld.  Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland.  Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.

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            The night air was deliciously cool. Moonlight and darkness held equal sway over the backyard thanks to the shifting clouds. I dashed across the lawn and halted in the exact spot where Aengus had stood. Panting, I looked around, willing some kind of clue to materialize.

            The ruins in front of me darkened as large, heavy clouds swallowed the moon whole. The wind tugged at my long, loose hair and pajamas. Tiny raindrops spattered on my nose and cheeks. I turned my palms to the sky, and cold rain pelted them.

            “Great.” Intending to return to the house, I swiveled around.

            I gasped. My right hand flew to my chest. “Aengus?!”

            The man himself stood an arm’s length in front of me. “Why are you here?”

            “You scared the crap out of me!”

            “Whisht!”

            “What?”

            “Shush!”

            Pop!

            The strident sound came from the ruins. I whirled around and stared at the dark keep.

            Aengus grabbed me from behind. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. I reveled in the feel of his taut body, of his warm flesh against mine.

            Suddenly, everything changed. The rain stopped. The wind died. The entire landscape was bathed in the soft hue of twilight. Breasal Castle looked brand spanking new, just as it had during the bizarre dream in which I brought Aengus to the cottage. But this time, I knew I was awake.

            Dumbfounded, I gawked at the medieval magnificence before me. I had no idea what had happened and no desire to pull away from his embrace.

            His lips brushed my right ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “This way.”

            His right arm released me, and his left slid down to my waist. Maintaining body contact the entire time, he steered me toward the stand of oaks on our right.

            Once sheltered by the trees, he turned us around so we faced the castle.

            “Are we hiding?” I whispered.

            “We are.”

            “Why? And what just happened?”

            “I can’t say.”

            “Can’t or won’t?”

            “Both.”

            Until that moment, I’d forgotten I wore pajamas. Now I was acutely aware of it. Satin was pleasing to the touch, but something told me my attire had nothing to do with his grip on me.

            I looked up at him. “Not that I mind, but why are you holding me so close?”

            His hand tightened on my waist. “It’s necessary.”

            “I don’t suppose you can explain that, either.”

            With his gaze locked on the castle, he shook his head. He pressed his right forefinger against his mouth in a silencing gesture. Then he pointed up at the keep.

            High on the battlements, the black-haired woman from my dream—and from Branna’s painting—paced back and forth. Her hair whipped about her pale face and slender frame.

            She paused beside a gap in the crenelated wall and glared down at the fairy mound. Her colorless lips curled into a sneer. Then her human form morphed into a dark shadow, which fragmented into what seemed a million black particles. They swarmed into the air and shot across the twilit sky, disappearing into the distance.

            I took a deep breath. “So she’s real.”

            He nodded. “She’s real, to be sure. Come.” With his arm still hooked around me, he led me out of the woods and toward the fairy mound.

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Guardians of Erin, Book Two

 

Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another.  Now the mystery of her parents’ disappearance seems unsolvable.  Are they dead or only missing?  No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue.  Hope and fear war inside her, but she’s determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings.  Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.

Ashling could use a little help herself.  She’s struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too.  Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer.  One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.

As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.

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            Thunder shook the night as the Dullahan’s black stallion reared beneath him on the sweeping lawn below. The horseman thrust his severed head toward the sky and called out the names of those he hunted.

            “Dylan Donoghue! Maeve Donoghue!”

            Powerless to stop him, I watched from the bedroom window. The glass panes infused my palms with the chill of death itself. Out of sight, my parents screamed, then fell silent. The sound of laughter followed.

            Exultant. Spiteful. Malignant.

            Aoife! The wind demon whose foul plot shattered my family with a single blow.

            Hate and despair welled inside me. “No!”

            “Ashling, wake up!” My sister shook me awake.

            She switched on the lamp between our beds, and I scanned the room. The same sash windows as in the dream. The same luxurious décor in shades of periwinkle, white, and gray. Even my slippers beside the bed were the same. But the night was quiet, and there was no immediate danger.

            Deirdre tucked her long, blonde hair behind her ears and gave me a knowing look. “Another nightmare about the Dullahan?”

            Nodding, I wiped the sweat from my brow. “And Aoife.”

            “Sounds almost as bad as my dream the night he took Mom and Dad.”

            “We don’t know he took them.”

            “We don’t know he didn’t.”

            “They’re not dead!” Dread clutched my heart, and I pushed out a long breath to calm myself. “They can’t be.”

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Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.

Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

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Review of “Fountain Dead” – Theresa Braun

Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past. 

Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house’s dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Fountain Dead is a carefully crafted story that takes place in two time periods, in two POV’s.

Emma, born in the 1800’s, didn’t have a lifetime of love and happiness. There was a brief period of time she thought she’d achieve her HEA but her life took a grisly turn. Family turned against her and she learned the hard way not to trust anyone.

Mark’s story took place in 1988 when his family moved to Winona and into the Durley house, Emma’s family home. From the start, Mark knew something was off about the house. It was messing with his mind, his sister’s and eventually it turned its attention to others. The house was cursed. Anyone who entered it was prey.

Mark didn’t want to live in the house but a child must live where their parents tell them. His parents were oblivious to the danger lurking in the house but Mark wasn’t. He saw the spirits, humanoid creature, and saw the effects of possession firsthand.

As we watch Emma’s life progress, we see every monumental point in her life was somehow tied to what Mark and his family was living through in present time. At first, the time period/POV’s flip-flopping did mildly annoy me. It was occurring way too rapidly. I actually started taking meticulous notes because I wondered how each moment in the past would have an impact on Mark in his time period. It wasn’t until I was about mid checkpoint that I didn’t mind the flip-flopping speed as much because NOW the puzzle pieces were clicking together and the grand picture was almost revealed.

The link between past and present was mapped out very well and the ending was spectacular.

Cliffhanger? Yes, Theresa’s final moments in Fountain Dead let readers know there was more evil to battle.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides with her two fur babies, who are her creative sidekicks. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Traveling is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and the occasional romance. Oh, and she likes to guest blog about writing, television shows, movies, and books, mostly in the horror genre.

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Author Showcase – Mary Morgan (A Magical Highland Solstice) (A Highland Moon Enchantment)

Laird Cormac Murray has witnessed how love destroyed his own father after the death of his mother, and he vows to never take a wife. Yet, when he comes upon a bewildered lass traveling alone, he finds his heart will no longer listen to his mind. In the end, Cormac risks everything to claim the love of a woman not of his time.

Eve Brannigan loves helping others and baking. After winning a contest, she is stunned to learn that the Clan Murray has requested her assistance to cater to their guests during the holiday season. When a lost path in Scotland leads her to a handsome but gruff Highlander, Eve fights the temptation to allow love to enter her heart for the first time. 

Can the Fae and the magic of the Yule season bring together two souls who have forsaken love? Or will tragedies from the past separate the lovers forever?

 

~~ Excerpt ~~

 

Giving her no time to protest, he grabbed her around the waist and hauled her up onto Fingal. When he mounted his horse and settled behind her, Cormac felt her body stiffen as he placed an arm around her waist. He leaned next to her ear. Her mass of curls brushed his face, and he inhaled her scent—one of different spices. Lust instantly surged forth, powerful and intense. “Relax,” he urged in a hoarse voice. Though he found it difficult to do so himself.

He felt her tremble, but she nodded. Giving a tug on the reins, they moved up the path.

With each steady trot, her body swayed and Cormac tried to focus on the road. The castleFighting in the lists. Bathing in the icy waters of the loch. Anything, but the soft curves of the lass’s body pressing against his own. What was wrong with him? He prided himself on being a man always in control of his emotions—especially his lustful ones. Yet, now he found himself confused, tongue-tied, and his gut twisted into knots.

So deep in his thoughts, he did not notice Fingal veering off the main road until the lass let out a giggle. She had the most musical sound, and he found himself smiling. Guiding his horse back to the path, he could hear his men doing their best to contain themselves. A glance back confirmed William was coughing loudly and Gordon trying his best not to fall off his horse.

“I swear Fingal, I am tempted to trade ye in for another horse. Ye must be going blind, or worse, old.”

His horse let out a large snort.

Eve clicked her tongue in disapproval. “For shame, Mr. Murray. How cruel. I think he’s a kind animal. Perhaps it’s the man holding the reins who can’t see clearly the path in front of him?” 

The lass was quick with the wit, he mused. “I dinnae ken your word, but ye may call me Cormac.” He leaned near her again. “And I can assure ye, I am nae blind, nor old.”

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Irish warrior, Desmond O’Quinlan has never surrendered his heart to any woman. He has no wish to have his soul tortured by love. Yet, the moment he locks gazes with Ailsa, his fate is destined for an adventure he never fathomed. He may have battled alongside a Dragon Knight, but his greatest challenge will come from within his own heart. Ailsa MacDuff, a warrior among her clan, has no desire to have a man chain her to a life of obedience. However, that is before she meets Desmond. The temptation to allow this warrior inside her heart is a risk she dares to take, but one that could lead to a future of emptiness and sorrow. When betrayal looms from within, the battleground of love is no match for these two warriors. Can the power of a Highland full moon be strong enough to unite or destroy them?

 

 

~~ Excerpt ~~

His mind screamed to stay rooted in his chair, but his body betrayed him. Standing, he reached for her hand.“I will escort ye to your chamber.”

She eyed him with curiosity and stood. “Nae. Take me to the north wall. I hear the view of the loch is one that steals the breath from your lungs.”

“Done.” When her fingers slipped into his, Desmond fought the urge to crush her to his chest. Placing her soft hand in the crook of his arm, he led her quickly out of the hall and up the stairs. Bending to the left, he took her along a corridor and up a narrow circular pathway. The torches flickered as he approached the door leading to the north wall.

A cold draft blew by them, and she shivered. Instantly, regret filled him realizing he had not considered to bring a cloak for her.

Desmond paused by the door. “Ye should not venture out into the biting cold without a cloak.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I simply wish to capture a quick look, not spend the night sleeping out there.”

Shaking his head, he pushed open the massive oak door. Brittle air slapped at his face while they made their way up along the wall.

“’Tis cold,” she muttered, but chuckled softly and hugged his arm. “But ye are warm.”

“We shall not tarry long,” he assured her and placed a warm hand over hers.

“Oh, sweet Goddess. Look at the moon, Desmond. Her light shimmers over the water. I have now witnessed the charm of the loch in sunlight and moonlight. Though our rivers are stunning on their own, they cannae rival this view. As I have told ye, our island is shrouded in mists, so ye cannae see verra far out into the sea.”

Desmond’s focus was not on the moon, but the beauty standing beside him. To take what he dared not possess. He marveled at her delight of the striking scene.

Ailsa turned toward him. “Thank ye, Desmond, truly.”

Her nearness was overpowering, seducing him in a way he had never known. Desmond cupped her chin. Her eyes widened, and her lips parted in invitation. Moonlight and lust danced within her eyes. No longer did he battle with his mind and body, and he slowly lowered his head.

And under the silent whisper of a full moon, Desmond captured her soft lips within his own. He could taste her sweetness mixed with the wine, and desire shot through his veins. His hands shook as he placed them securely on her waist. As he deepened the kiss, she placed her hands around his neck. Desmond groaned, crushing her body against him.

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Award-winning Celtic paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling—writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.

 

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Review of “Death’s Desire: Siren’s Lullaby Anthology” – Tracy A. Ball

Enchanted Anthologies presents Siren’s Lullaby, an intertwined novel told by six authors. 

‘The madness of the eyes is the lure of the abyss.’

Three women are left stranded on a small Island near Sicily, Italy, to starve, but they won’t give up easily. Joining together to fight to survive, they make a deal with a demon of the sea. 

The only catch is they must lure ships to the rocks using their voices and sink the ships along with the men aboard. 

Three pirates–brothers–who haven’t agreed on much since their mother died get back together for a long journey. They long to rid themselves of the curse placed on them by a sea witch. 

An insatiable hunger felt by the seductress sirens and the deadly pirates will join them together in more ways than they could ever have thought. 

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I didn’t know where the others were, but Tristian, Rauel and I were taken to a pen. It wasn’t large or particularly comfortable but a small cave with bars that appeared to have been salvaged from some-long forgotten ship. I imagined lots of things from long-forgotten ships were hoarded in these caves.

Tristian and Rauel belonged to my vanguard. Deadly fighters and trustworthy men. That was, if you considered men who plunder to be trustworthy. I knew enough about them to anticipate what was coming. Tristian was claustrophobic. He hesitated at the cave’s entrance and turned on the siren. 

I drew my sword and turned on him. “We all must die sooner or later. Your choice.”

Rauel went into the cave without a backward glance. He had called me unpredictable on more than one occasion.

“Baldassare, I can’t go in there,” Tristian said.

“You can, and you will.” I nudged him with my sword tip.

It was low, almost inaudible. I felt it before I heard it, snaking its way around my heart. My sword arm went limp. Tristian didn’t notice. He, too, was captured by the siren’s magic. Rauel came forward, enchanted, called by this temptress. The bitch. I didn’t understand what she was doing, but I didn’t want her to stop.

All too soon, she did stop. I was sure we looked as stupid as we felt. 

“Get in the pen.” Her words were cold, but her eyes were black magic. My member stiffened, not for the first time since I’d seen her.

She noticed. 

“There are seven deadly sins,” she said. “I can sing and make you guilty of all of them.” She locked the cage behind us. 

“Wait,” Rauel called before she moved away. He didn’t have anything to say. He just didn’t want her to leave.

She paused.

“Who built this?” He touched the bars.

While he talked, I committed her to memory. I wanted a detailed image when I pampered my erection. 

“You are not the first men to make landfall.” She spoke as if he was impertinent for asking. 

Tristian knelt, pressing his face against the bars, taking deep breaths. “There are other men here?”

“Not any longer.” She thought a minute, then said to me, “Perhaps, you’ll be next.”

“Then I best get busy.” I nodded my head once in the direction of my crotch.

Her exquisite bottom lip dropped open. It quivered like she had something naughty to say. She came very close to me, reached out to touch me…only she didn’t. Damn. I wanted her to touch me. Her fingers were a wisp away from cupping my groin. Oh, please… 

“I can sing all seven sins.” This time, she did not look back.

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(review request of “Death’s Desire” submitted by the author, Tracy A. Ball,  for an honest critique) 

“Death’s Desire” conveyed beautifully the enticing power of a siren’s call, the magnitude of their power, and the lure of their body.

As we know from mythology, sirens are irresistible and bloodthirsty beings. Tracy capitalized nicely on illustrating their seductiveness and their insatiable hunger to feed on victims that cross their path. She also allowed readers to witness their capacity for the emotion – love.

Twist and turns, love and death, “Death’s Desire” could’ve went on to a full-length novel. As “Death’s Desire” came to a close, I came to realize I didn’t want Baldassare and the sirens’ story to end.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Novelist, Reviewer, Content Editor, Blogger, T-shirt Wearer, and Professional Snacker; Tracy A. Ball is a native Baltimorean and a veteran West Virginian whose family is blended from three cultures. She has opened her home to foster children, drug addicts, AIDS victims and anyone who needed an assist. She knows people who have committed murder and people who have dined with the Pope.

Which is why she writes sweet stories about tough love…and takes naps.

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Author Showcase – Tricia Copeland (Kingdom of the Damned: Kingdom Journals series)

Volume 1 (Kingdom Journals)

Alena’s story -$0.99 in ebook, Free on Kindle Unlimited)

He wouldn’t understand. He didn’t live in a pretend world. In truth, he did. Most beings, pure humans, walked around thinking they were the only type of people that existed.” –Alena

As a creature forbidden by both vampire and witch cultures, Alena is forced hide her identity. Her mother moves them from city to city searching for answers. When Alena finds Hunter everything changes. She believes their bond may be the. But her mother finds Theron, an equally handsome and mysterious suitor. Will the truth of his intentions be uncovered before it is too late? Or will her Mother’s kingdom be reduced to embers?

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 Volume 2 (Kingdom Journals)

Camille’s story – Free on Kindle Unlimited

“… the previous night’s vision, or whatever it was, ended with a name I heard clear as day, as if the people were in my room. Ivy, the girl and boy recited together.” – Camille Could her dreams be real? Is she the key to freeing witches from their curse? Of course not, right? Thinking that her only chance at a normal life lay in a new treatment, Camille joins Dr. Antos and a group of teens for a month long camping trip in Iceland. There she meets Jude, a fellow schizophrenic. Dr. Antos invites Camille and Jude to extend their work with him on the island of Sardinia. Camille is suspicious of Dr. Antos’s intentions but her dad goes missing, leaving her no choice but to travel to Italy. Is she walking into a lion’s den or has her illness invaded her reality?

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Volume 3: (Kingdom Journals)

Jude’s Story: Free on Kindle Unlimited

Jude only knows one thing: he must rescue Camille. It doesn’t matter what must be done to save her from the evil coven, he will do it. But once she’s recovered, what will his role be? How does he fit into the trinity’s prophecy? Find out in this urban fantasy adventure novel that finds the Kingdom Journals characters traversing the globe in search of Camille, and the key to breaking an age-old curse.

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~ Newest Release! ~

Volume 4: Anne’s Story

Kingdom of the Damned is a stand-alone prelude to the Kingdom Journals Series.

“…he that believeth not shall be DAMNED” – Mark 16:16

In 1557, witches burn her home and family. She escapes with the help of a family friend and they hide among humans. At seventeen, another atrocity ignites Anne’s passion for justice. Circumventing the globe, she seeks to unite the vampires and build peace. Powerful enemies amass against them, but her friends number many, including a surprising and mysterious hero. In a war for survival, love feels extravagant, and heroes don’t always prevail. Can she best her enemy and find happiness at last?

 

 

Foreword

The LORD God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you above all cattle,

and above all wild animals;

upon your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.”

Genesis 3:14

 

The Edict of Châteaubriant, signed 27 June 1551 by King Henry II of France, censored Protestant rhetoric and enabled seizure of funds for punishment. The Edict of Compiègne, of 24 July 1557, allowed the death penalty for crimes of heresy. The witch community, garbed in the Catholic faith, hunted and killed vampires under the guise of bringing the pagans to justice.

 

CHAPTER ONE

Mabon – The Fall Equinox – 21 September 1557, France, during the reign of King Henry II

 

A vampire has memories from the time they are born. I recall my mother’s face and her warm skin, the sound of her voice. I’ll see you tonight in your beautiful red dress. I love you. She kisses my forehead.

In the evening, I slide the garment over my head, and Elizabeth curls my hair with a hot iron rod. She fits the sash around my waist and into a large bow on my back. I sit in a chair, waiting for the sun to set as she dresses her children for the party. Her daughter Elle twirls in a circle, making her skirt fan out. Even though Elle is older, I am as tall as her, because she and her brother, Hank, are halflings.

Hank is two like me, but not as big or smart. He fiddles with his collar buttoned tight around his neck. As the sky grows dark, I climb atop the chair near the window, impatient to be united with my family and to begin the festivities. An orange glow rises over the hill where my house lies in the next valley. The color looks different than any sunset I remember.

I run to Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, the sky.”

“What child?”

“Come see.” I grab her hand and pull her to the window.

As I push up on my toes to look out the glass, I see flames shooting above the ridge. Men carrying torches summit the hill and race towards us. At one’s signal, they circle the house, making a ring around Elizabeth’s cottage.

“Finn!” Elizabeth yells.

“There’s no way out.” Finn’s eyes dart around the room. I can smell the fear rolling off his skin.

Elizabeth points out the window to a tall tree. “When we open the door, run.”

Wide-eyed, I nod. Elizabeth scoops up Elle, and Finn grabs Hank. Opening the door, they sprint towards the forest. I dart off in the opposite direction. A large dog barks on my heels, but I am fast and reach the tree before the animal overtakes me. Low branches form stairs, and I jump to the first. I feel a tug at my skirt and hear it rip as I reach for the second limb. I catch it and swing to a higher branch. The beast jumps and yelps, but I focus on the limbs above. The branches become thinner, and the space between them shorter as I climb, hand over foot, until I feel the trunk sway with my weight.

Looking down, I see the men with the torches have surrounded Elizabeth and her family. Flames close in on them, engulfing the group in smoke. A bitter smell assaults my nose. The men douse the flames, and when the air clears, I see forms lying on the charred ground. I watch as the men retreat, leaving Elizabeth and her family lying atop the charred grass.

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Tricia lives in Colorado with her family and four-legged friends. She writes young and new adult fiction including fantasy, paranormal, dystopian, and romance titles. If not out on the trail, you can find Tricia on your favorite social media!
Find Tricia and her books at www.triciacopeland.com or on your favorite social media.

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