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Vestige Novel Chapter 2 (Reworked and Edited): Rena’s POV

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Chapter Two: Rena’s POV

How could this have happened? I watched still as stone as Amos and Constantine reach out and catch Jamie before she hit the ground. She had fainted. Much worse than that, she knew about the Dark Ones now. A dangerous force in the world that Vanessa never wanted her to know the existence of. What was Jamie doing in the woods at this time of night? My mind whirled as I ran my hands through my long dark locks.

            I had met her a few times before when I went to visit my old friend, Vanessa. Jamie was Vanessa’s seventeen-year-old adoptive daughter. As hard as this was going to be for the both of them, and more so for Vanessa, Jamie knew about them now, and something had to be done about it.

Amos and Constantine looked up at me with the same matching expressions on their faces of concern and shock. Neither of them had ever seen a human be so bold as to attack a Dark One without fear. I had never known humans were strong enough to actually take one down without dying in the process.

Gazing down at her now, a silent sigh of disappointment slipped between my lips. Jamie was still out cold. Her dark golden hair and her life drained face was covered in beads of sweat, matting strands of hair to her forehead.

“Is she alright?” I finally asked them, not bothering to check myself. Their guesses were as good as my own.

They placed her down carefully on the ground and looked her over. Amos put two of his fingers to the main vein on the throat of her neck to check her pulse. “She is breathing; unconscious, yet breathing. She will live to see another day.” He examined, his Spaniard accent clear in his voice. He met my gaze with worrisome eyes. “What should we do now with the girl? She has seen too much for human eyes.”

I knew what he meant.

Constantine’s eyes rounded and bulged at the same time we heard his sharp intake of breath.

“What is it Constantine?” Amos and I asked in unisons, stepping closer to him.

“Her arm! Look at the girl’s arm! Tell me it isn’t what I think it is.”

At my son Constantine’s request, I walked over and bent down hovering over Jamie like Amos and Constantine were now doing. He pointed a shaking finger to the nape between her upper and lower right arm. “There,” he pointed.

We followed his gaze and direction with our eyes. Amos positioned his flashlight on the section of her arm, so we could see it better under the fluorescent light. When the light shone over the area, we saw what Constantine meant. In the nape between her upper and lower arm were three distinct needle marks. They were surrounded by bruises and her veins were a vibrant violet color at the moment in hand.

It was clearly obvious to Amos, Constantine, and I what the marks meant. We all stood back up.

“The girl has been marked. She probably fainted from the pain of the change,” Amos shook his head. “She’s so young. They always are.” His gaze fell on her. “The world will never be the same for her again.”

Constantine nodded in agreement. “Because she is going through the change that must be why she had the strength to take down that Dark One. Strange, but intriguing. However, even those going through the change shouldn’t be able to be as strong as she was.”

It made complete sense if one looked at it that way. Still a newly changed Immortali shouldn’t have the knowledge it would require to defeat a Dark One or kill it, let alone one who’s still going through the change.

Amos yawned. The dark lines under his eyes were evidence of his exhaustion. We had been tracking the Dark One for days and chasing him for hours. Ours wards were waiting for us to return home.

“What should we do with her now? We can’t just leave her here and have humans find her. We would be risking exposure.” Amos was right. We couldn’t just leave her here.

I thought it over briefly though I already knew the answer. I knew the answer the second I realized that the girl was Jamie. “We will take the girl to her adoptive parent’s house and see where to go from there. Her house isn’t far from here. A few miles at best.”

Confusion was written in the furrowing of their brows and the stillness of their movements.

“You know this girl and her adoptive parents?” Amos wondered.

I nodded my head in her direction. “Yes, I do. Her name is Kathleen James McKenna, though she prefers to be called Jamie. Her adoptive parents are Mark and Vanessa McKenna of Trenton, New Jersey. They adopted her two years ago.”

Understanding flashed over their features the moment I said Vanessa’s name because they knew Vanessa as well.

Amos kneeled down and slid his hands under Jamie, lifting her off the ground, and put her into his arms without waking her up. She was still out cold.

Constantine’s eyes flickered down to the unconscious Dark One and up to me. “What should we do with him then?”

This was a job they could do without me for tonight at least. My current job was to make sure Vanessa knew what happened to her daughter. This is going to break her heart, I think sadly, but it has to be done. I held out my arms extended. “Give her to me,” I told Amos. He placed her into my arms, and I held her tight against my chest, so she wouldn’t fall. “I’m taking her to Vanessa. I’ll call you when I’m going to return. You two can deal with the Dark One without me for tonight. This is much more important than him.”

Neither of them contested my words.

Amos put his hand on my shoulder gently. “Be careful and return back safely to me, Renata,” he whispered. He worried too much. He knew that I was more than capable of taking care of myself.

Without another word to them, I carried Jamie back to her car on the side of the road. I found it easily in the night, and I put her securely in the backseat. I shut the door silently without waking her. Looking around, I see no one in sight for miles. Thinking over what I should tell Vanessa, I got into the driver’s seat, shutting the door, and I turned the key in the ignition. As the car hummed to life, I drove off on a new mission. A mission that I didn’t want to do, but I knew I had no choice.

Vestige Novel (ReWorked and ReWritten): Chapter 1 Jamie’s POV

Chapter One: Jamie’s POV

    “Not again! I can’t be late again!” Pressing my foot further down on the gas pedal, I knew that I was going to get in trouble with Vanessa for being out passed my curfew for the third time this week.

     It had only been a week after my seventeenth birthday and already I had broken my promise to stay out of trouble and behave myself.

    She’ll have my head on a stick this time, I thought frantically.

    As I drove out my frustrations, I began to notice the headache forming like a storm could in my mind wasn’t helping much either; not that a headache ever helped anyone. The headaches have gotten worse in the passed four days since I first noticed them coming and going. I prayed that it would disappear by tomorrow’s soccer match because the team was depending on me to carry them to victory. What’s a team without its best goalie?

    With eyes still focused on the road ahead and hands still placed at ten and two on the steering wheel, I carefully maneuvered my cotton sweater off without so much as swerving on the road. I wiped at my forehead and removed the beads of sweat building before I glanced down at the heat settings and saw that it was off. I inhaled a small gust of air and had a hard time breathing without finding myself wheezing. I hoped that I wasn’t getting sick, that it was just allergies, because I would miss out on too many things if I was coming down with something.

    No other cars or people were around on this old dirt road as I powered through it. Hardly anyone took this route anymore because the highway was faster, and also due to the fact that this road was said to be dangerous because of all the accidents that occurred here when it was a busy road.

    The lonely dirt road sat beside a forest on both sides. A few houses popped up here and there; otherwise, it was abandoned. Rushing and driving fast was a given for me. I knew no police cars would be sitting in wait. They never patrol this road anymore.

    Coughing hard, I closed my eyes for a split second. When my eyes shot open, I was blinded by a big flash of fluorescent white light that shone through the forest off to my right. The car shook slightly beneath me; enough for me to notice that it wasn’t natural. Something was happening.

    Startled, I panicked and found the brakes with my foot and stomped on it, putting the car into a complete stop, while I shielded my eyes with my arm from the bright illuminating light. My head felt like it would explode with pain as it pulsated against my skull. Barely seeing around my arm, I saw the light slowly faded away through the overgrown trees after a few seconds.

    Removing my arm from my face, I looked at the area where the light was still fading back into the darkness of night. My eyes finally adjusted to the sudden shift in light and my ragged breathing made each wheeze hurt worse.

    “What the heck was that?” I asked myself, still in shock.

    When I finally calmed down to what I thought as reasonable, I put the car back into drive and pulled off to the side of the road and parked the car. The flash of light was completely gone when I got out of the car and shut the door. Looking around in the dark of night vigilantIy, I headed into the forest with quiet steps weary that I was alone. It was too silent for a location where many animals inhabited. The forest wasn’t just silent, but it was absolutely creepy. My heart pounded against my chest, telling me to get out of there. Something about the forest felt wrong, unnatural. The pit of my stomach twisted into knots and dropped into an abyss of uneasiness.

    After minutes of walking, I reached the exact point where the light had originated. I leaned against a tree trunk to steady myself as my body begun to sway and my mind swarmed, losing balance. Unsuccessfully, I tried to shake the headache and the vertigo away.

    The tournament must’ve taken a lot out of me.

    The silence in the forest stretched on with only the sounds of my labored breathing and heart pounding loudly in my chest present as I attempted to catch my breath.

    The sudden sounds of tree branches and twigs breaking or being moved made my head shot up alarmed. I listened closer to the noises in complete stillness. The noises were getting closer to where I stood shaking with fear. It sounded like the branches and twigs were being stepped on.

    Someone or something was running fast in my direction.

    “Hello? Is someone out there? Hello?” I yelled, trying to see if they were alright.

    No one answered back.

    The running kept aiming in the same direction. This time the sounds of whomever or whatever was coming became more persistent and grew louder.

    Another thought dropped into my mind. One thought I should’ve thought of sooner. What if they were the ones who caused the flash of light?

    A thought I should’ve had much sooner, because now it was too late to run. I could hear them too close now. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, let my fear be the death of me. My instincts and teachings consumed the fear building inside of me like a typhoon as I prepared in case the person or animal was going to attack me. Everything about its approach felt wrong. Digging my feet into the ground, leveling my arms, calming my nerves with shaky breaths, and suppressing my aches, I positioned my body into a defensive stance as I had done many times before during tournaments. I worked myself up for an encounter by praying “you can do this, you can do this” repeatedly in my head. Even though I felt like crap, my every nerve was on end prepared to fight just in case.

    Once again my eyes swept over the direction where branches and bushes were beginning to tremble. I could see small pebbles and rocks and little sticks quaking on the grass and in the dirt because of some force. Squinting, trying to narrow my sight in the darkness, I saw the distinct silhouette of a man in dark clothing running towards me. A short distance behind him, three figures with flashlights were pursuing him.

    As he got closer to me, one of the figures chasing him, a woman, shouted out to me catching my attention for a split second. “Run away from him, girl! Don’t let him touch you! Run now!” She yelled breathlessly.

    I couldn’t make out her face though I heard the panic and anger ringing clear as day in her voice. She was right to say it. I should’ve listened but I was too stubborn and it was too late. Running wasn’t an option now. The unsettling feeling deep inside of my soul said that this man they were pursuing was a very bad guy. Shaking my headache away as best as I could, I got back into a defensive battle stance.

    He came into complete view and I watched horrified as he growled at me, gritting his teeth like a feral animal. The inhuman growl that yelped from him threw me off guard, yet not scaring me enough to get me out of my stance. I didn’t move an inch. I was too afraid to. He came charging at me at full speed with his arms outstretched and tackled me to the ground before I could make a move to defend myself. His attack blew the wind right out of my body.

    He was so fast that I barely saw his attack.

A few labored breaths later, I gazed him dead in the eyes. An unusual feature of his stood out immediately. Strange dark red rings around the irises of his clearly amber eyes caught my curiosity. It was weirder than his pale skin, drained of most color.

    Another menacing growl, in my face this time, rippled through his mouth as he struggled with me and he attempted to stand back up. He was stupid to think that I would just give up and surrender. I used all the body strength that I could muster to wrap my legs around his and disabled him from getting to his feet. Doing that only frustrated him more.

    The dark rings around his eyes grew larger and slowly overtook the amber parts remaining, consuming them completely. My mouth dropped open. No way was is that possible! It can’t be real! Human eyes could never do that. It just wasn’t physically possible.

    Laying my rounded eyes on him, reality cracked inside of me at the reality of the existence of other worldly creatures. I was still in shock, yet I knew that my eyes weren’t deceiving me. This was really happening. He was real.

    The three figures that were previously chasing him halted to a stop nearby. I glanced at them briefly, but not long enough to see them and who they were. He caught me off guard in that split second and took advantage of it. Before I could turn back to him, he had already unwrapped my legs and hold on him. I turned back around in time to see him hiss inches from my face like a snake ready to strike.

    Trembling, I shut my eyes tight over my eyelids and waited for the death I knew was coming for me.

    With little effort, he got a good grip on my arm with his hand and flung me in the air. The impact of colliding with a tree trunk ended my flight. The fall and plop on the hard ground of dewy grass was agonizing. It was hard enough that I felt beaten and bruised on impact. Ten times worse than the sickness I already felt beginning to brew inside of me. My glassy eyes of tears blinded my sight. I blinked my eyelids rapidly in order to see through the haze of tears.

    Only a few seconds since I was immobilized had passed, still I had missed a lot. The man was standing up facing the three individuals with flashlights in a feral crouch. Watching the man with an intense unblinking stare, I stood back up, leaning against a tree for support, and shook my head. I set my view on the scene playing out before me when the dizziness begun to fade.

    He was too focused on the others to pay much attention to me at this moment It’s now or never, I thought to myself as I worked up the confidence to outweigh the warring terror in my body. Releasing my jagged breath, I slowly drifted away from the tree and over toward him without making any sounds. In close proximity to him, I started running at him now with my arms outstretched. Clashing with him, I used the full force of my body to take him down. It was like hitting an immoveable object ,but somehow I managed to get him off his feet.

    We fell onto the ground hard with a loud plap. My attack had caught him completely off guard. He immediately tried to untangle me with his hands. Unlike before, it wasn’t going to be so easy with me focused. Whether he was a delusion or real didn’t matter to me in this moment. I wrapped my legs tighter around his waist and maneuvered my right arm around his right arm and neck, then I squeezed hard. I couldn’t let him get away from here and hurt anyone else.

    I squeezed and squeezed until my entire body was engulfed in a burning pain. His groans made my skin crawl. He wiggled around trying to break free of the sleeper hold I had him trapped in. His teeth chomped were mere inches from my face, with only my arm keeping him from turning in my direction and biting me.

    After a few minutes of struggling, his body finally became completely lax as he drifted into unconsciousness. Exhausted as he entered submission, my heart rate slowed and sweat clung onto my forehead. I released my hold and dropped him to the ground. Staring down at him, I  stood up brushing dirt and leaves off my clothes and out of my now tangled dark golden blonde hair. The brain splitting headache and dizziness rushed back into me. It was a thousand times worse than before.

    Now the pain was almost intolerable.

    The three formerly pursuing the man stared at me with their eyes practically bulged out from their sockets. Then they dropped their gazes down to the unconscious man–well I wasn’t sure what he was, but I knew he most certainly wasn’t human.

    The wheezing cut at my throat, making it harder for me to breathe right. A searing pain slithered up my spine and spread throughout the rest of my body. My bones and joints kept cracking like they were going to shatter to bits. They were much worse than growing pains. An agony close to how death would feel, I imagined.

    The woman stepped forward, so I looked her over closely through burning blurry eyes. Her face was familiar to me. That long curly black hair, those yellowish-green eyes, and her beige skin set tiny alarms off in my mind. I stood as still as stone, taken aback a moment. She was too familiar and I knew exactly who she was. I had seen her many times before with Vanessa. What is she doing out here at this time of night chasing that awful creature?

    “Rena? Is that you?” My voice sounded hoarse as I called out to her.

    She didn’t reply back to me. All she did was watch me. Her lips parted, yet nothing slipped from in between.

    Just as I got ready to ask her again ,I broke out into a harsh coughing fit.

    She took a slow step forward, moving out of her stone state. Recognition flying through her.

    “Kathleen? Kathleen McKenna? What are you-” She started.

    Her voice cut out and disappeared into the wind as the dizziness finally won and I fainted, barely seeing the other two with flashlights running to catch me as I slipped into unconsciousness.

Chapters 7 and 8 of PATH OF SHADOWS: a young adult novel

Chapter Seven: Grounded (Diana’s Point of View)

We walk under cloudy skies down street after street. Raphael walks ahead of us, looking over my map to keep us moving in the right direction. Emma walks beside me and keeps her eyes trained on him. I can’t force her to like him, but I hope she comes to terms with him being here with us.

“How much longer until we reach the border?” Emma asks me without looking away from him.

“Two days, or so. Why?”

She stops walking and pulls me aside. “Diana, are you 100% sure we can trust him?”

Am I 100% sure? No, but I can’t tell her that. If I did, she won’t ever trust or tolerate him. I say the only fact I’m sure of instead. “He saved my life, Emma. That counts for something.”

We continue walking, so Raphael doesn’t notice we stopped in the first place. Emma doesn’t ask me anymore prying questions about him, but she still doubts trusting him.

“What have you been doing since you were grounded on Earth, Raphael?” Emma asks during a momentary break from walking.

I give her a look that tells her not to pry.

“I can ask him a question or two, can’t I?” She raised her eyebrows and arms.

I shake my head in reprove. I know why she’s asking. She wants to know if he’s changed sides. She wants to pick his brain to figure out what he really wants with us. I haven’t told her about Raphael and my arrangement yet. I don’t want her to grow any more paranoid, or concerned, about me. As much as I disapprove of her prying, it does have me curious about his possible answers.

“It’s alright,” Raphael assures me and doesn’t sound irritated or like his privacy is being invaded. “In answer to your question, Emma, I’ve spent most of my time travelling.”

“Yeah? Where to?” She continues questioning.

He shrugs, reflecting. “Everywhere. I was in Europe and Asia for almost fifteen years. The Europeans aren’t fairing much better than the people here in the territories.”

“I wonder why Lucifer chose to make the United States his home instead of another country in Europe or Asia?” I say, verbalizing my thought.

He folds up the map and lowers it to his side. “I guess because countries in Europe and Asia are older, with a deep rooted mindset. Whereas, the United States’ still young. This country is easier to shape and mold into his image than others.”

“So is that all you’ve done?” Emma narrows her gaze. “You’ve just been travelling.”

“Not in the beginning,” he admits. “Weeks after the battle I met a woman named Willow. She took me into her home. We guided each other through hard times. She was the reason I begun travelling.”

Emma loses her edge and grows with fascination. “Did you love her?”

Raphael smiles and looks at the ground as he speaks. “Yes, I loved her. She showed me how to find a new path. I travelled the world to help others and destroy demons. My world had changed, yet my mission to help protect mankind hadn’t.”

The interrogation is over. Emma watches him with curiosity instead of suspicion. Her face softens. The rest of the walk is peaceful, except for my legs wanting to give out beneath me.

Twilight hovers in the sky as night is close approaching. Raphael finds an abandoned house for us to stay the night in. Emma and I set up camp for the night in a windowless bedroom upstairs while Raphael does his patrol outside. Emma and I lay on the blanket. My tired legs relax.

“We’ll make it to the border by tomorrow evening,” I say to Emma excitedly.

Her eyes are ready to shut. “We’re almost there.”

 

Chapter Eight: Borders (Diana’s Point of View)

Exhaustion weighs me down as we travel at daybreak. Hours of walking wares on me and takes a toll on my leg muscles. Emma drags her feet beside me as she pushes on. She flashes me a tired smile and returns to taking in the scenery. I can barely make out the sounds of Raphael’s light footsteps behind us.

The street is almost vacant, except for a family of four scurrying off down a side street. Two guys are on the sidewalk trading poultry. A woman in her mid-forties is on a porch step yelling at her young son for walking off too far. I glance over at a yellow shuttered house and catch the eye of an elderly woman. She locks her window and draws the shades close.

Further down the road no one’s insight. Day is slowly fading with night blooming soon.

Raphael looks over the map and folds it up. “We should be at the border by now,” he says more to himself than us and shakes his head.

“We are,” Emma clarifies and points down the street.

I follow her direction and see it. A rectangular, metal green sign that says Now Leaving Ohio and across from it is another sign saying Welcome to Pennsylvania. I enrapture in excitement. Our long journey is almost to an end. Emma shares in my thrill, but Raphael doesn’t. He has a serious look plastered on his face as he motions for us to follow him with the wave of his hand. We follow behind him and end up behind a bush to a duplex building.

“Stay here,” he orders us.

I don’t understand. “Why? The border’s right there,” I say, pointing in its direction. “If we go now we can make it there before its dark.”

“Exactly,” he replies. “The border’s right there. The demons guarding it are going to be right there too. Let me go check it out. I’ll try to find a safe way across. Unless, you want to take your chances and go now?”

His tone makes my cheeks burn in anger. I don’t like that he’s looking down on me. Like I can’t handle taking care of myself. I exhale my frustration and let it go because I know he’s right. “You go. We’ll stay here.”

He nods and walks off.

Emma and I kneel down and hide behind the bush. My heartbeat quickens and pounds harder with each beat against my ribcage. Sweat makes my hands clammy. Fear prickles up my spine, but I try to keep my face composed for Emma’s sake. She doesn’t appear any more confident than me.

“What if we don’t make it?” She asks in a quivering, small voice minutes later.

I don’t want to answer her question. The very thought of one of us not making it across makes my stomach twist into knots. “We’ll make it,” I tell her in a façade of bravado. “I promise you.”

“Hey,” Raphael whispers from beside us and makes the both of us jump with fright. “It’s clear. Let’s move.”

We stand and distance ourselves from the bush. I feel like a spy as we move along the buildings incognito and inch our way towards the border. The signs are almost in reaching distance now. Relief awaits me on the other side.

Almost there, I think as we approach the signs. I glance in all directions while Emma crosses over. I see nothing or anyone suspicious watching us.

“You next,” he tells me and remains vigilant.

One foot passes over, and then the other. I’m in Pennsylvania now. Raphael is right behind me. Now that we’re safe across, I exhale the breath I held in. Emma can barely contain her joy as we carry on.

I was worried for nothing. My disappointment and worry release from my body. The gravel crunches beneath my feet as we head down another road. Emma hums a song I can’t name. I can’t help but to grin at her. It’s the first time in a long while since I’ve seen her really happy.

Raphael’s long arm shoots out in front of us and blocks us. We all stop. He puts a finger to his mouth silencing us.

“What is it?” I whisper.

“Shush,” he whispers back. His head tilts in the opposite direction like he’s listening for something. A second later, his head snaps in our direction alarmingly. “Run! Run to the church!” He yells at us.

Emma takes off sprinting to the white church down the street off to the right. I run right behind her without any question.

Halfway to the church, I look back at Raphael. He’s still where we left him, standing in the middle of a three-way street intersection. Demons begin to manifest out of the shadows around him. There has to be twelve or fifteen of them. I know there’s too many demons for Raphael to take on his own and make it out alive.

This isn’t right. I stop dead in my tracks, almost spraining my neck in the process, as I glance in between Raphael and Emma.

She notices I’ve stopped and halts. “Come on, Diana!”

“No,” I tell her. “I have to help him.”

“I’m coming with you,” she tells me and tries to walk over.

“Stay,” I demand of her. “Get to the church and lock yourself inside.”

Our eyes meet for a moment. There’s a grave look on her face like she’s trying to memorize my face. Like this might be the last time she’ll ever gazes upon it. Emma turns and keeps on running for the church obediently without looking back. I won’t be able to help Raphael if I know she isn’t safe. I exert all of my muscles to run faster and get to Raphael in time. Fear envelopes me, but I can’t let it hold me back now. I have to help him.

Two demons hold him down on the ground while he struggles to get back on his feet. The others see me coming as I get closer. There’s no turning back now. I pull my sword out of its black sheath and raise it level to my arms. A growl almost like a cry gurgles its way up my chest and out of my mouth.

A demon with a sadistic grin on his face comes at me. Our swords make a clinging sound as they clash. Soon enough, I’m taking on three of them at once. I find an inner strength in myself hidden deep within I never knew was there before. An instinct, a drive, a light to defend myself from their attacks.

I barely notice Raphael’s standing as I destroy another demon. Movement from behind alarms me. Spinning around, I have my sword knocked from my grasp. It lands a few feet away on the ground. A bald demon shoves me and causes me to lose my balance.

The gravel and I collide hard as I fall. He lifts his sword high above himself and drives it down over my heart. My body reacts before I can think of what to do. I roll over and get to my feet. He’s just as quick. The cold metal of his sword is pressed against the flesh of my neck.

Frozen, I stare at him without looking into his black eyes. I know if I move he’ll end me.

His triumphant smile fades and his eyes round as he looks down. I gaze down too. The tip of a blade emerges out of his heart and drips with crimson blood. A sigh slips from in-between his pale lips as he falls to his knees. The side of my neck stings as his sword is removed.

Raphael pulls his sword out of the demon and grabs me by the hand. “We need to run. More of them are coming,” he tells me and pulls me along as he sprints.

The hairs on the back of my neck and arms stand on end as I run at full force. I feel the demons coming after us and move even quicker. I don’t look back. Cold, bone tingling chills crawl up my skin like spiders. Every fiber of my being is hypersensitive as adrenaline courses through mr. I’m still reeling from what just happened. I had no idea how strong I was in body and spirit before this very moment.

The arched church doors open as we near. Emma looks behind us and her eyes widen. I can only imagine what she sees. Raphael leaps in the doors with both of our swords in one of his hands. I take one big leap through; she closes the doors hard when I’m inside. Raphael holds the doors shut. Shadows flit and flash around the outside of the stain-glass windows.

Emma crouches down behind a wooden pew shaking and trembling.

A few moments later, there’s no noises coming from outside. No shadows pass in front of the windows. Raphael walks away from the doors and sits on a pew reclining.

“Where did they all go?” I ask him, but I don’t dare take my eyes off the doors.

He places the swords on the carpet in front of him. “They’re gone, but they’ll be back. We’re safe in here. Demons can’t enter a church that’s still holy,” he informs us.

I trust in his words, so I take a seat beside where Emma hides. “We’re going to have to camp out here for the night.”

 

Chapter 4 of PATH OF SHADOWS

Chapter Four: Emma (Emma’s Point of View)

She’s alright. She has to be alright, I think repeatedly, praying these words are true. Diana’s strong. She got away from those monsters. If she got away from them than why isn’t she here? I wonder, but I ignore it and keep chanting. She’s alright. She has to be alright.

My heavy eyelids beg to be shut, and my body wants to rest, but I refuse to let it. I haven’t slept a wink all night. It’s amazing how my fear the demons will return out rules my exhaustion. The laundromat, our makeshift home for the night, is silent. The only noise is the buzzing I hear from the light bulbs. I sit on the drafty ground in a small room against a washer with Diana’s sword gripped tight in my hands. The sword shakes along with my trembling hands.

Diana, where are you? I wonder.

I need her here. I need her to be safe. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She has taken care of and protected me for months. She’s all the family I have left in this world.

Waiting for her, I think of the first time I met her almost two years ago in South Dakota.

I run and don’t look back. My family’s bloody screams echo through the woods from tree to tree and in the wind. Hot tears stream down my cold cheeks and my breath is visible in the cold weather. I keep running, afraid the demons will come after me next. Miles away when the bright sun dawns I force myself to stop running. I’m safe in the daylight hours from the night creatures.

Falling to my knees in the dirt, I cry. I weep for my mother, for my father, for my older cousin Cynthia, and my little sister Candice. They’re dead. Their lives stripped from them in a flash of violence. I’m alone.

Three days of solitude follow. I walk by day in search of people and food. By night, I hide in trees or wherever I can to keep out of sight. On the third day, I come across a white two story house in the midst of the forest. There are no lights on or signs of life inside. It’s dark and I must hide. I walk up the three wooden stairs, onto the porch, and try to open the door. It’s locked, so I walk over to the window and find it’s unlocked. I crawl inside as quietly as possible and make my way to the kitchen.

I find the kitchen and walk quickly over to the fridge when I spot it. I open it and I’m thankful when I see its stock full of food and water. My stomach growls. I pull out a big piece of deer meat and shut the fridge door as I bite it.

The lights in the kitchen flip on. I jump back and notice there’s a girl my age standing in the doorway with a wooden bat held tightly in her hand. Scared, I drop the meat onto the counter and back up towards the door I entered.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break in and steal your food,” I babble to her. My mind swirls and my heart drums on. I feel awful for violating her home, but I don’t think I had any other choice. “I thought no one lived here. I was hungry. I haven’t eaten anything in four days. I’m sorry. I’ll leave now.”

The girl gazes at me for the longest time. She sits her bat on the ground beside her and takes two steps towards me. I don’t know whether I should run or continue apologizing, so I stay frozen.

“You can stay and eat if you want,” she offers and sits at the circular table beside the counter.

I pick the meat back off the counter cautiously and join her at the table.

“Thank you,” I say in-between bites.

She watches me plow down the meat and offers me more when I’m finished. We have something in common. We’re both alone.

From that day on, I never left. She had saved my life by offering a simple courtesy.

The bell ringing above the Laundromat door, signals that someone has entered, pulls me out of the past and back into the present. I get up off the ground and tiptoe over to the door, praying its Diana.

The backroom door to the room I’m in opens before I can reach it. A man enters the room and faces me. I swing the sword at him impulsively. He’s stronger and faster than me. He reacts quickly and knocks the sword out of my hands before it can touch him. I try to recoil from him, but he wraps his arms around mine and restrains me.

“Calm down,” I hear him say.

“Let me go,” I beg and try to wiggle free.

Diana walks into the room and smiles at me.

“Diana!” I say and he releases me. I run to Diana and hug her tightly. My fears are immediately dissolved by her presence. She’s safe. She’s alright.

“Emma, are you okay? I tried to get here as fast as I could,” she tells me and looks me over for any injuries.

“I’m fine. I was worried something had happened to you. What happened after I ran?” I ask her. I glance at the guy watching us. “Who’s he?”

Diana glances at him and answers me. “It’s a long, complicated story.”

Moonlight Serenade by Kate Hinderer RELEASE DAY

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Today is the Release Day for Moonlight Serenade (Fascination Island #2) by Kate Hinderer!

Title: Moonlight Serenade (Fascination Island #2)

Author: Kate Hinderer

Description:

Determined to someday sing on the stage in New York City, Collette takes an internship at the luxury resort on Fascination Island. While she plans to hone her craft by singing nightly on the stage of the Moonlight Serenade restaurant, she never expected to be pushed outside her comfort zone. Shy and reserved, she is challenged to step outside herself and release the inner diva. When Falcon comes along, sparks fly and secrets are revealed. Before long Collette is forced to make life-changing decisions that will impact her future in ways she never even imagined.

Excerpt

“Honestly Falcon. What is it that gives you the right to go around kissing any unsuspecting girl you want?”

I didn’t like the sound of that. Part of me had hoped that his instant reaction had been something that struck him as strongly as it had me. I didn’t like the idea he went around kissing any girl that happened to look at him long enough for him to make his move. I didn’t like that at all.

“I don’t kiss every girl,” Falcon argued, but it sounded weak even to me. Tristan cleared his throat in disbelief. “Ok, so I kissed you, Audyn, that first day. But it was more about punishing Tristan than you.”

“Glad we finally cleared that up.”

At this point I was beginning to think faking my continued faint wasn’t such a good idea. My romantic bubble had been thoroughly burst by the strange, impulsive boy who had given me my first kiss. The boy of my dreams had kissed my roommate to get even with Tristan. I already knew what that meant—this couldn’t end well. But as I was about to rouse myself, Falcon said something that nearly had me fainting all over again.

“I swear to you. This was different. She’s different.” His voice sounded closer now, as if he felt drawn to be near me.

“Why? Is she the first one to melt at your touch?” Audyn queried, her words still laced with cynicism.

“Not everyone breaks my toe like you did. But she’s different in a way I can’t explain. I’m sure you, of anyone, should understand that.”

Audyn scoffed at Falcon’s response while my heart began beating quicker. “Get out of here,” she commanded.

To my disappointment he didn’t argue. He didn’t utter a word. The sound of the door opening and then clicking closed echoed in the hacienda. I fluttered my eyes and moved about restlessly, pulling Audyn’s attention back to me.

“Thank goodness you’re all right. How do you feel?”

Dramatizing the act a little, I slowly sat up, dangling my feet over the bed and sitting up next to Audyn. She wrapped her arm around my waist to help support me. The room didn’t sway, proving beyond a doubt that it was the kiss that felled me instead of anything biological. Still, I pressed a hand to my forehead to verify my charade and make me appear less prone to fainting fits at the sight of a good looking guy.

“Did I really pass out in some stranger’s arms?” I asked, looking around to find the place empty but for the two of us.

“Yeah. And that stranger happens to be Tristan’s younger brother, Falcon.” She shook her head in disgust. “I told you, meeting them is always an adventure.”

“Thank goodness you came along.”

“Tristan and I got here a minute after you passed out. Falcon had you laid out on the bed and stood over you like some avenging angel waiting to do battle if anyone got in the way.”

“I guess I owe him,” I said, attempting to sound uninterested even if the mental picture of Falcon continued to grow with each passing minute. He must have been so worried about me, fainting dead away and then not coming to immediately.

“He kissed you. Do you remember?”

My face turned red before I had the chance to respond. My fingers came up and touched my lips as the memory remained fresh and alive. “Yeah,” I whispered, sounding breathless, even to my own ears.

 

 

 

About the Author
 

In a nutshell: Writer. Blogger. Journalist. Marathon runner. Social media enthusiast. Beer drinker. Avid YA reader. Traveler. Chicago native. Milwaukee resident. Music fanatic. Fashion lover. Oldest of nine.

Writing has been in my soul from the very beginning. In grade school I started my own local paper for the street I lived on. In middle school I wrote for the school paper and loved any English writing assignment. I started writing novels in high school. At the time my friends were the characters, the setting was almost always Regency England, and I scratched the story into lined notebooks.

Now, I have a journalism degree and a dozen various business writing gigs under my belt.

I’ve lived in a handful of US cities including Milwaukee, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis and New York. I pen a personal fashion and lifestyle blog, ModlyChic.com, and continue to write about commercial real estate.

My first book, Aurora Undefined, was published in 2011. The Emerald Isle, the first Fascination Island book, came out during the summer of 2012, at which time I immediately began writing the second book in the series.

Next up . . . stay tuned! I’m working on a new contemporary novel as well as the third book in the Fascination Island series.

http://www.amazon.com/Moonlight-Serenade-Fascination-Island-ebook/dp/B00D9WSME2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370885345&sr=1-1&keywords=moonlight+serenade+by+kate+hinderer

Vestige: Chapter 1

I’ve been debating whether or not I want to fix up this novel I wrote this summer. I’m not sure whether or not it’s worth it. Maybe you guys could give me some insight. This is the first chapter of the young adult novel and the premise. Do you think it should be polished or is this just a story I should keep as a memory, a journey.

Premise:

A paranormal fiction set in the modern world but engulfed in a secret world of immortals where a war between the Immortalis and Dark Ones have been going on for thousands of years.

Caught in the middle of this war is seventeen-year-old newcomer Jamie who has just been changed into an Immortali and blood-bound by an unknown Immortali. As she joins her new coven and adjusts to this new world hers alters once more. Dark Ones want Jamie dead, she is discovering that she has other abilities that no one else has, and the search for who creator leads her to an unsuspected person.

An anomaly in a supernatural world Jamie finds that she is more than what she seems. As mysteries are revealed, danger heightens, evil gets closer, and betrayal changes her view of her coven, this may lead to her unraveling or her empowering.

 

Chapter One: Jamie’s POV

Not Again! I can’t be late again!

Driving home late again after another competition, I tried to make it home hopelessly before my curfew knowing that I was going to get in trouble with Vanessa for being out passed my curfew for the third time this week. It had only been a week after my seventeenth birthday and already I had broken my promise to stay out of trouble and behave myself.

She’ll have my head on a stick this time, I thought frantically.

As I drove out my frustrations I began to notice the headache forming wasn’t helping either. Not that a headache ever helped anyone. The headache seemed to have gotten worse in the past four days. I prayed that it would disappear by tomorrow’s soccer match because the team was depending on me to carry them to victory. What’s a team without its best goalie?

With eyes still focused on the road ahead and hands still placed at ten and two on the steering wheel I carefully maneuvered my cotton sweater off without so much as swerving on the road. It was getting increasingly hot in the car despite the fact that not once did I turn on the heat. Add to the fact that I was having a hard time breathing without wheezing. I hoped that I wasn’t getting sick, that it was just allergies, because I would miss out on too many things if I was coming down with something.

The road was deserted except for me and my Audi. No other cars or people were around on this old dirt road. Hardly anyone took this route because the highway was faster and also due to the reason that this road was said to be dangerous because of all the accidents that occurred here when it was a busy road.

The lonely dirt road sat beside a forest on both sides. Rushing and driving fast was a given for me. Besides I knew no police cars would be sitting in wait. They never patrol this road anymore.

I coughed hard and closed my eyes for a split second. When my eyes fluttered open I was caught off guard and blinded as a big boom of florescent light shined in the forest to my right. The car shook slightly though not overwhelmingly so but enough for me to notice that it wasn’t natural. Something was happening.

Startled and starting to panic I found the brakes with my foot and stomped on it, putting the car into a complete stop, while shielding my eyes with my arm from the bright illuminating light. My head felt like it would explode with pain, pulsating. Barely seeing around my arm the booming light slowly faded away after a few seconds.

Removing my arm from my face I looked at the area where the light was still fading back into the darkness of night. My eyes finally adjusted to the sudden change in light and my raged breathing made each wheeze hurt more and more.

“What the heck was that?” I asked talking to myself.

When I finally calmed down to what I thought as reasonable I put the car back into drive and pulled off to the side of the road, parking the car. The flash of light was completely gone when I got out of the car and shut the door. Looking around in the dark of night I headed into the forest which made me feel uneasy. It was too silent for a place where many animals inhabited. Not just silent but absolutely creepy. My heart raced more with each step I took. Something about the forest felt wrong. It felt unnatural. Like the feeling you get when you know in the pit of your stomach that something bad is going to happen and you just don’t know what exactly it is or how it will happen but you expect it.

After minutes of walking I reached the exact point where the boom of light originated and once lit the forest up. Suddenly I felt dizzy and exhausted. My body started to sway as I began to lose control over my balance so I leaned against a tree to steady myself. Unsuccessfully I was trying to get rid of my headache and the vertigo that was forming. The competition must’ve taken a lot out of me.

The silence in the forest stretched on with only the sounds of my labored breathing and heart pounding loudly in my chest present. Then out of nowhere I heard the sounds of tree branches and twigs breaking or being moved. By what? Wondering suspiciously I listened closer to the noises and realized the noises were getting closer to my location. It sounded like the branches and twigs were being stepped on.

Someone or something was running fast in my direction.

“Hello? Is someone out there? Hello?” I yelled, trying to see if they were alright.

No one answered back.

The running kept aiming in the same direction. This time the sounds of whomever or whatever was running became more persistent. Finally I came to the conclusion that if it didn’t answer something must be wrong. Then another thought drifted through my mind. One I should have thought of sooner. What if they were the ones who caused the booming light?

I should have run away or screamed for help but never in my life had I cowered out or away from a problem. The bad feeling within me told me not to leave myself in a vulnerable state. My instincts took over as I prepared in case the person or animal was going to attack me. Everything about its approach felt wrong. Digging my feet into the ground, leveling my arms, calming my nerves, and suppressing my aches, I positioned my body into a defensive stance. I worked myself up for an encounter by praying “you can do this, you can do this” repeatedly in my head. Even though I felt like crap every nerve was on end prepared to fight just in case.

Once again my eyes swept over the direction where branches and bushes were beginning to shake. Squinting, trying to focus my sight in the darkness, I saw the distinct silhouette of a man in dark clothing running towards me. A short distance behind him three figures with flashlights were chasing after him.

As he got closer to me one of the figures chasing him, a woman, shouted out to me catching my attention for a split second. “Run away from him, girl! Do not let him come in contact with you! Run now!” She yelled, out of breath.

I couldn’t make out her face though I heard the panic and anger ringing clear as day in her voice. She was right to say it. I should have listened but I was too stubborn. Running was not how I taught myself to react to these types of confrontational situations. Something inside of me compelled me, telling me that the man running wasn’t even close to a good guy. The unsettling feeling deep in my soul said that he was a very bad guy. Shaking my headache away I got back into a defensive battle stance.

When he came into complete view I watched horrified as he growled at me, gritting his teeth. The inhuman growl that yelped from him threw me off guard but not enough to get me out of the battle stance. He was too much of a threat now, I decided, and he’s in reaching distance. When I didn’t move an inch he came charging at me at full speed and tackled me to the ground before I could make a move, knocking the wind right out of my body.

He was so fast that I barely saw him attack. After a few labored breaths I caught my breath and looked him dead in the eyes. An unusual feature of his stood out. There was something odd about his clearly amber eyes. They held a strange dark red ring around the amber irises. It was stranger than his pale flesh.

He growled menacingly again, in my face this time, as he struggled with me trying to stand back up. He was stupid to think that I would just give up and surrender. Using all of my strength I wrapped my legs around his and disabled him from standing up which made him even madder than before. The dark rings around his eyes grew more intensely and slowly overtook the amber parts consuming them. I gasped knowing that no way was it possible that this man I was fighting with was human. Human eyes could never do that. It just wasn’t physically possible.

The three figures that were previously chasing him halted to a stop nearby not sure what they should do. I looked at them briefly but not long enough to see them and who they were. He caught me off guard for that split second and took advantage of it. Before I could look back at him, he had already unwrapped my legs and hold on him. I turned back around in time to see him hiss inches from my face. Then he did something I didn’t believe humans could do either.

He got a good grip on my arm with his hand and flung me in the air and into a tree trunk. Not extremely hard like I’m sure he wanted to. It was hard enough that I felt beaten and bruised on impact. Ten times worse than the sickness I already felt beginning inside of me. My eyes watered. I blinked my eyelids over and over again in order to see clearly.

It had been only a few seconds since I was immobilized still I had missed a lot. The man was standing up facing the three figures with flashlights in a feral crouch. Watching the man I stood back up, leaning against a tree, and shook my head. When the dizziness faded again I set my view on the scene playing out before me once more. He was too focused on the others to pay much attention to me. It’s now or never, I thought to myself as I worked up the confidence to carry out my plan of revenge. Slowly I drifted away from the tree and over to him without making any sounds. Running at him now I used the full force of my body and tackled him while he was off guard. It was like hitting an immoveable object but somehow I managed.

We fell to the ground hard. He immediately tried to untangle me but this time it wasn’t going to be so easy with me focused. It was payback time. He deserved this after what he had done. I wrapped my legs tighter around his waist and maneuvered my right arm around his right arm and neck then squeezed hard. Squeezing and squeezing until my entire body was engulfed in a burning pain. He groaned and wiggled around trying to break free from the sleeper hold I had him trapped in. His teeth were mere inches from my face.

After a few minutes of struggling his body went completely lax as he drifted into unconsciousness. He entered submission and my heart rate slowed and sweat clung to my forehead. The fight exhausted me beyond the sickness and pain I previously felt. I didn’t care whether I had hurt him or not as I released my hold on him and dropped him to the ground and stood up brushing dirt and leaves off my clothes and out of my hair. My headache returned and I felt suddenly really dizzy. It was a thousand times worse than before. Now it was unbearable.

The woman who had yelled to me before and the other two figures with flashlights stared awestricken at me and dropped their gazes down at the unconscious man. Well I wasn’t sure what he was but I knew he wasn’t human. That much I knew. All of their eyes practically bulged out from their sockets.

The wheezing grew making it harder for me to breathe right. Everything hurt and ached. A searing pain slithered up my spine and spread throughout the rest of my body. My bones and joints kept cracking feeling like they were shattering to bits. Much worse than growing pains. More like what some would imagine death to feel like.

The woman stepped forward and I looked her over closely through burning blurry eyes. She was familiar to me. Her long curly black hair, yellowish-green eyes, and beige skin. The woman was too familiar and I knew exactly who she was. For I had seen her many times before with Vanessa. What is she doing out here at this time of night chasing that awful creature? I wondered curiously.

“Rena? Is that you?” I asked. My voice was sounding hoarse.

Just as I got ready to ask her again I broke out into a harsh coughing fit.

The woman looked up at me wide-eyed when I said her name. She took a slow step forward. Recognition flying through her and she gasped. The horror and sadness out showing her shock. She recognized me too.

“Kathleen? Kathleen McKenna? What are you-” She started to say.

Her voice cut out and disappeared as the dizziness finally won and I fainted, barely seeing the other two figures with flashlights running at me to catch me as I slipped into unconsciousness.

Chapter 3 of Path of Shadows

Chapter Three: Angel (Raphael’s Point of View)

The blood comes off my sword as I wash it under the faucet in the sink, yet the stain is always there. A reminder of the many demons I’ve destroyed in the name of my Heavenly Father and mankind’s redemption.

I glance over at the mattress on the floor of the small apartment building where I’d placed the girl last night after the demons dispersed. Her eyes are still shut. Her body is lax only moving up and down slightly as she breathes. The sea green paint on the wall gives me a depressing feeling, but it’s the only room I could find in the complex that wasn’t already claimed.

What are the odds of me finding a Nephilim on my fifth day back in the former United States? I’d returned to gather my brethren because we’re stronger united against the demons, yet I find an ally. Albeit, a young novice.

I turn back around and shut the water off. Grabbing a towel, I dry the blade off and see my reflection in it by chance. Something moves behind me, so I spin around and I’m too slow to react. She has a knife to my throat and her left hand grabs at the back of my neck. Those sapphire blue eyes gaze into my eyes questioning and fierce.

“What’s going on? Who are you?” She demands.

I smile and a puzzled expression pinches her face together. I’m surprised she has caught me off guard. Not many people have the stealth to outwit or surprise me. At least none that are still alive.

“Answer me,” she says.

“Raphael,” I tell her. “And what should I call you?”

There’s a pause before she answers me as she searches my face for deception.

“Diana,” she replies, but doesn’t remove the knife from my throat.

“Well, can you remove the knife? I’m not going to hurt you,” I tell her. “You do remember that I saved your life right?”

She removes the knife now. She takes a few steps away from me cautiously. She looks calm now that she’s assessed I’m not a threat to her.

“Does Diana have a last name?”

“Diana De La Cruz,” she answers and sits on a chair off to the side of where she stood. “Do angels have last names?”

I shake my head and place my sword on the countertop. I sit across from her in another chair and inch it closer to her.

“What were you doing there last night?” She question, still suspicious.

“I was on my way to the Plain Lands. I heard one of my brothers lives there. When I felt your beacon, I changed course to find you,” I tell her. “Do you know why those demons were hunting you?”

Beelzebub doesn’t just send her servants to hunt down a sixteen year old girl for nothing. Archdemons hunt Nephilims and Angels for the rewards they get from Lucifer, their master. Does Diana even know what she is?

“They were after me because I was out past curfew,” she answers quickly, but I get the feeling she knows it’s more than just because of curfew.

“Is that the only reason?” I continue to pry.

She averts her eyes from my gaze and she readjusts her sitting position. “They wanted to kill me because I’m a Nephilim.” There’s a tone in her voice that reflects anger and sadness when she says Nephilim. Something about her heritage bothers her.

“How much about your angelic heritage do you know?” I lean in closer, anticipating her answer.

She looks into my eyes now. Her gaze feels like it pierces straight into my soul—eyes of an old soul. She exhales and I pull back out of my trance. “My mother didn’t really like talking about my father. Whenever I asked her questions about him, she would change the subject. I don’t really know much about him. He left when I was three and a half. I can’t really remember him,” she says and pauses to gather her thoughts. “Look, I know I’m half-angel, but I try not to discuss it much.”

“Do you know your father’s name?” I wonder.

She shrugs. “No. I was never told who he was.”

Looking her over, I can’t pinpoint which of my brethren is her father. Her silky, wavy hair falls over her shoulders and frame her heart-shaped face. Her lips are rosy and full, probably soft to the touch. I map out every inch of her face and commit it to memory. I’m guessing she looks alot like her mother, which will make it harder to find who she descends from. I get the feeling she wants to know, but has no way of figuring it out. Luckily for her, I like puzzles and she’s a puzzle I plan on unraveling.

Abruptly she stands up. “Thanks for your help,” she says, “but I have to go.”

I stand up and block her from leaving the room. “You can’t leave. There’s a bounty on our heads.”

“What are you talking about?” She stops trying to get passed me. Lines form on her forehead as her eyebrows raise.

“Lucifer has a price on the heads of Angels and Nephilims. Any demon who finds an Angel or a Nephilim and brings them to Lucifer will be rewarded exponentially.”

She takes what I say into consideration and nods. “I’m sorry, but I have to go,” she says and tries to get around me, but I stand in her. “You can try to stop me, but I’m leaving this room. My friend’s out there somewhere scared and alone. I have to find her before the demons do.”

I know I can’t stop her. If I try to stop her again she’ll find a way to get out. Whether that means taking my life to do so or not. She’s vulnerable, defenseless against the demons. They won’t stop pursuing her until she’s taken or killed by them. Since she won’t listen to reason, I know there’s only one way I can be sure she’s safe and away from the clutches of the demons.

I reach pass her and grab my sword off the counter. “I’m going with you.”

She gazes at me for a moment. “Why? You don’t even know me.”

I move out of her way this time. “Because we’re stronger together than apart.”

 

Chapter 2 of Path of Shadows

Chapter Two: Sixteen (Diana’s Point of View)

The word echoes in my head as I turn and run once more. The demon doesn’t pursue me. He stands in the same place I left him and watches me. Nephilim, a word I haven’t heard in years. The memory of my mother calling me a Nephilim as a child comes to the forefront of my mind. My mother’s dark brown eyes gaze down at me as I play with the doll she’d made me before my birth. She smiles sadly and lifts me up into her arms.

“You are special, Diana,” she says to me in a tone that borders happiness and concern. “Diana, my Nephilim.”

The memory is one I don’t want to remember, so I shake it away and focus on the here and now. I find myself passing between two tall brown brick buildings whose paint is chipping. There’s a large metal trash bin at the end of the alley that’s overloaded with debris and trash. I come to a complete stop when I realize I’ve made a wrong turn.

“A dead end,” I say aloud.

There’s nowhere for me to go now. The only way out of the alley is the way I came in. I know I can’t go back that way because the demons will be waiting for me if I do. Every door to both buildings are locked as I try to open them. I look around spinning and try to find another means to escape, but there’s none. I stand in the alley anticipating my death, defeated.

Looking at the only way out, I see the darker than dark shadows slither across the ground. I take a few steps back as if it makes a difference. They encircle me and begin to take shape. Six of them, flesh and blood, manifest out of the night around me. I’m defenseless against so many. Their towering posture, curious stares, and demented smiles tell me they know they have me right where they want me.

I don’t shed any tears, yet I’m terrified. My fate is sealed. Death has come for me in the form of demons. Is this how I end? I wonder as I face them.

“What do we have here?” The blonde one facing me says and takes in my entire being with his eyes.

“A Nephilim. Half-angel and half-human. A rare breed,” the one beside him says.

The others are too captivated by my glowing skin and the odd symbols to add to the discussion.

“What should we do with her?” The blonde one pulls out a knife with a black blade from his back pocket and strokes the blade with the tips of his fingers as he paralyzes me with his piercing gaze.

The other one shrugs his shoulders. “She’s a Nephilim. We must take her to the Master. That’s the law,” he replies and takes a long pause before he speaks again. This time in a deeper voice. “We don’t have to bring her to him alive.”

The blonde one smiles so wide I can see his white teeth.

I want to run. I want to scream. Anything that’ll get me further from them. I need to fight, but I can’t manage to move as I’m lost in his eyes. The only movement I can do is ball my hands into fists and flex them.

They are all in agreement about what to do with me. They close in on me. The blonde one touches my arm. A cold fire spreads where he touches me. Repulsed, I try to shake his touch off, yet I’m immobile.

“This will hurt a lot,” he says. There’s sadistic undertone in his promise as he pulls his knife back to cause me untold pain.

I fight to shut my eyes and I can’t.

“Hey!” Someone yells from the entrance to the alleyway.

They look to where the voice originated. The blonde one looks away from me and breaks his hold over me. I can blink and follow their stares, but I’m too fear stricken to run.

A tall man with dark brown eyes, short untidy black hair, and a slender muscular build stands at the entrance to the alleyway with his hands behind his back. There’s no distinct expression of fear on his face as he skims the group of demons around me. He takes a step closer to us as he speaks.

“Leave the girl alone.”

The demons hiss at him when his hands fall to his side and he shows them the shiny, silver sword with a gold hilt in his right hand.

“Angel,” the blonde demon growls.

The tension building between the demons and him fills the air around me. It’s filled with a deep hatred. The demons ignore me now and focus all of their attention on him like I’m invisible to them.

“I guess the girl wasn’t alone,” the other demon says to the blonde one.

The guy walks towards them now. He looks calm and collected as he strides over to them. The demons run towards him with their weapons out. All of their hate and desire to kill is aimed at him.

He’s going to get himself killed, I think as I watch the demons go at the stranger.

He doesn’t run as they reach him. Instead of cowering or bowing out he raises his sword and attacks them as they reach him. The fierce will and warrior-like strength in his movements as he fights leaves me watching with a growing fascination. One by one he overpowers the demons and defeats them. There’s no hesitation in his attacks.

Minutes later, he rushes over to me after destroying the demons. He isn’t fazed by the glow emitting from my body. He wraps his hand around my arm and pulls me along with him down the alley.

“Now would be a good time for you to start running,” he tells me and releases his hold.

We run as fast as possible down and out of the alley. I look back and notice we’re still being followed by demons. Not the demons from the alley, but others. He leads me down a few blocks and tries to find a building that’s unlocked or unoccupied. No such luck. We cross another street with only one working lamp light.

The goose bumps all over my skin reminds me that we’re still being pursued.

He runs up to a glass door to a five story building that looks like it could’ve been a newspaper business back in the day. He tries to open the door, but we discover it’s locked. I look behind me and see the shifting shadows at the end of the street slowly inching closer.

“They’re coming,” I say to him. My voice quivers and breaks.

“Forget this,” I hear him say as he kicks at the glass door once. The glass cracks and shatters into a million tiny pieces. The shards fall onto the ground sounding like a waterfall. “Come on,” he says and pulls me into the building by the arm.

My legs grow tired as I run stair by stair up three levels on his heels. Another setback awaits us as we get to the door. It’s locked. He takes a few steps back and rams his body forward at the door. It collapses and we walk over it. We walk around the third floor. Cubicles, offices, and conference rooms are all on the third floor.

“This way.” He leads me into an abandoned office.

Inside the office, he shuts the door and takes me behind the desk. He looks out of the window at the street searching for the demons. I don’t understand why he helped me escape, or why he is protecting me now.

“Who are you?”

He turns to face me and puts a finger to his mouth shushing me.

I shut my mouth and stay still as he places his hands over my collarbone. His eyes shut close and he whispers something in a language I don’t know over and over again. I don’t know what he’s doing until I look down and see the glowing fade until it disappears. The black symbols fade away, but not into nothing. I feel them sink into my skin and attach to my bones. They become etched into my bones.

The pain is agonizing as they burn into my bones like a tattoo. I scream, but he covers my mouth with his hand tight. I try to ignore the pain, but I can’t. He wraps his arms tight around my upper body as I wither in pain. It’s the only thing he can do to keep me from convulsing, or ripping out my hair.

Outside of the door, we hear footsteps and see the shadows of the demons walking around from under the doorway. We crouch down, with his hand still covering my mouth, and hide behind the desk.

“They aren’t here,” one of the demons say. “The signal has disappeared. The angel must’ve clouded her signal. They can’t be tracked now.”

A long moment of silence passes before another demon speaks. “All we can do now is go tell Beelzebub that we saw them and see what she has to say.”

Silence comes from outside of the office. The goose bumps go away. I no longer feel cold or a sense of danger.

They’re gone, I think with relief.

He stands and removes his hand from my mouth. I stand and face him still with a burning pain in my chest like I had inhaled smoke from a fire. My throat burns with a dry sensation. He puts his sword into its sheath at his waist and turns to face me.

“What did you do to me?”

“I shielded your beacon,” he answers, and adds more to his explanation when he sees my confusion. “I carved a protection into your bones to prevent the demons from tracking you.”

The office begins to sway around me. I’m spinning and spinning, yet I’m standing completely still. I hold onto the desk for support to keep from falling. My legs quiver as they try to stay in place without giving out.

“I don’t feel so good,” I say, dizzy.

He doesn’t look surprised as I collapse to the ground on my back. I look up at him through hazy eyes. I feel light-headed as I fight to keep my eyelids open against the heaviness trying to close them.

“Happy sixteenth birthday,” I hear him say before I pass out from the pain.

 

Chapter 1 of My novel: Path of Shadows, a young adult novel

This is the first chapter of my twenty-six chaptered novel. I will write more on this later, but here is the beginning. Read it and let me know what you think, what thoughts or questions or concerns come to your mind:

 

Chapter One: Nephilim (Diana’s Point of View)

Emma glances at me with uncertainty in her hazel eyes.

“I don’t think we’ll find anything here, Diana,” she whispers low and sounds defeated.

As we lay on the brown grass hill waiting, I know she’s probably right. We’ve been lying on our stomachs here for almost three hours skimming the woods with our eyes. I pray a bird will fly overhead or a white-tailed deer will scurry its way through the brush. Her stomach growls. Her hunger is apparent, but her fear of the night overrides her survival instinct.

“We can’t leave yet. I haven’t caught anything. You need to eat,” I reply, yet I know we only have so much time before the monsters come out to prey on humans like us.

In Kamsa’s territory we didn’t have to worry about the demons finding us out at night because our home was in the woods. Here, in Beelzebub’s territory, the monsters are everywhere when the sunsets. If we don’t catch something soon, we’ll have to leave hungry with night creeping up on us. She won’t be angry with me for our leaving, but I can’t go just yet. It’s my job to take care of her now, so we must stay.

“Ten more minutes,” I promise her. “If we don’t get anything by then we’ll leave.”

Her golden blonde hair sways, barely brushing against her shoulders as she shakes her head. “Fine. Ten minutes,” she agrees and gazes at the sun, which is slowly descending.

The minutes fly by and before I know it, it’s time to go.

Pulling herself to her feet, Emma wipes off her gray pants. She never stops glancing in the direction of the sun. The sky turns a purplish-orange hue as the sun makes its way over the horizon of the hills. A reminder that time is running out. She reaches down to grab my hand and stops when tree branches moving and cracking alarms her.

I pull her down to the ground. We skim the woods from our summit to find the source of the noises.

“Over there, Diana,” Emma points to a tree dead in front of us a few yards away.

Following her direction, I see the tree limbs shiver and notice a fat little figure with black, brown, and orange fur gripping a nut in his dark tiny hands. A fox squirrel. Emma smiles at me and hands me the bow and arrow laying on the ground beside her. Taking it, I place the thin arrow into the centerfold of the bow and adjust my fingers on them with the gentlest hold.

The wind blows slightly and the chilly breeze whistles passed us. Silence follows as I inhale a deep breath. I hold it, and sit up until I’m on my knees positioning the arrow at my target. My right hand pulls the arrow and string back. I release both of them and the arrow disappears from my grasp. It soars through the air, the trees, and hits its target.

A second later, I see the squirrel drop from the branch and plop onto the ground.

There’s no time to waste now. We come out of our hiding place and run down the hill in leaps to where our dinner awaits us motionless, breathless. Months of hunting had put us in sync with each other. Emma removes her backpack and unzips it without saying anything. Crouching down, I scoop the little thing up with my hands and place him inside the backpack lined with old newspaper from the times before Lucifer’s reign of Earth.

Sorry, I think to the dead squirrel, but we have to eat.

“It’ll take us a while to get back into town. We have to leave now if we’re going to get there before sunset,” Emma tells me and hands me the backpack.

We get moving, speed walking through the stretch of trees with barely any leaves, across dried up grass, and over the creaky bridge that’ll lead us into town. I remove the hair tie from my hair and let my long chocolate brown hair fall down in loose waves because it’s getting colder as the sky darkens. I look over at Emma and see her pull her sweater shut tight. I make a mental note to find her a jacket as soon as possible.

The luminescence from the moon lights our way into town. The streets are vacant of all life. It’s already dark and past curfew. Silence echoes from every tall and small building. I don’t have to look at Emma to know she’s afraid because I am too. An unsettling feeling crawls in my skin that we won’t make it back to our temporary home in time. We have a few blocks to go before we’re safe.

We have to make it, I tell myself assuring. I can’t let anything happen to Emma. We’ll make it.

A cold, bone chilling sense makes the hair on my arms stand on end. I turn my head slightly, so I can see behind me. The street looks the same, yet I know it’s not. Shadows begin shifting in the darkness. My pulse quickens. Dark wispy shadows are following us a few yards away. I look forward now alert. Emma doesn’t notice my sudden change in mood.

We turn the corner and I see her start to look behind us.

“Don’t look back,” I whisper to her.

She keeps looking forward and does her best to remain calm. Her wide eyes, fidgeting hands, and forced breaths betray the calm demeanor she’s trying to maintain. I know this situation brings up bad memories for her, yet I can’t stop it.

I take another side glance behind me. The shadow is still following us, but it’s not alone. Right behind it are more shifting shadows. They move in unison with the other. More demons, I realize.

Slipping the backpack off my shoulders, I hand it to Emma. She slips the backpack on and grips tight onto the straps. She doesn’t glance at me. Nonchalantly, I rest my trembling hand on the hunting knife at my waist and flip open the strap holding it there. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The shadows are getting closer.

“Run!” I yell to Emma.

She bolts off down the street without looking back. At an intersection, she turns the corner onto another street and disappears from my view. She’s safe, I reassure myself. She’s safe.

Turning around, I see I’m not alone. A demon stands before me. His pure black eyes glare down at me. My breath catches as our eyes meet. My heart plummets into the deep abyss in my chest. I snap out of the shock and try to pull my knife out of its sheath. Before I can react, his cold pale hands reach out and push me hard. My feet leave the ground and I’m flung into the wall of a neighboring building. The impact causes an implosion of pain in my right shoulder.

He comes running at me. I move to the left out of his way, right before he touches me, and run. Exerting all my leg muscles I run down the street. I know he’s following me, so I don’t glance back to see where he’s at.

Arms wrap around my waist like a snake squeezing the life out of its prey. He uses all of his body weight to knock me down onto the ground. I hit the pavement and he flips me around, so I’m facing him.

“You shouldn’t have been outside past curfew,” the demon tells me in his dark, alluring voice. “What will I do with you now?” He sighs, yet I think he already knows.

We struggle as I try to break free of him. He laughs like it’s a game. His fingers wrap around my neck to stop my oxygen supply. I place my hands on the muscles of his left arm, lift the midsection of my body, and use all my strength to push him to the left. We roll over and now I’m on top of him. I reach for my knife and wrap my fingers tight around the hilt as I pull it out. There’s no time to waste. I drive the blade downwards into his heart as hard as I can manage. It’s the only place I can think to hurt him.

There is a crack, pop noise as it goes in. His eyes round with disbelief and his lips part open. A second later his body goes limp and relaxes. He doesn’t move anymore. I killed him and to stop my own death.

Relief fills me, but quickly fades as another feeling consumes me. An almost euphoric warmth rushes threw my body from head to toe. I hop off him and look down at myself. My skin begins to radiate a golden glow.

All across my collarbone, shoulders, and arms a collection of odd black symbols appears. I pull at my blue blouse and stare down at the symbols. I don’t know what to make of them as they continue to appear on my skin. I’ve seen these symbols before as a child, yet I can’t remember where and when. Seeing them on my flesh scares me.

Out of a thick black mist a figure forms near me and a demon manifests out of it. He watches me with a mixture of fascination and disgust. His head tilts slightly to the side as a sinister smile forms on his mouth.

“Nephilim,” he exhales surprisingly.

 

Writing Exercise: Describing Subtly a Character’s Death

Recently, I worked on a writing exercise that really challenged me to learn how to write and describe the death of a character. I wasn’t allowed to write the beginning of their story that lead them to this point because the exercise didn’t allow it, but I think the challenge was accepted and I learned something about how to subtly summarize and slip in information about the perception of the dying and how the character and the antagonist got to this point with overloading a lot of detail and summarizing.

The exercise was this: Describe a character’s death, accounting in detail the thoughts and perceptions of the dying. Imagine that you are ending a long novel that involves an exhausting life.

Here is the result of this exercise for me:

His Sister’s Reaper

     Brooks, a tall man with silver striking his brown hair, glares at Tyler with his dark eyes, filling with a primal nature, as he tosses Tyler into a nearby brick wall of the basement. Tyler’s lips part as the adrenaline rush veils most of the pain imploding in his body as he reaches out for Brooks and continues to tussle with him, knowing well the danger he has put himself in.

     The formidable Brooks doesn’t scare him anymore, not since Tyler shadowed him for months on end, learning anything and everything he could about the man who killed his sister Evangeline. 20 year old Evangeline who’d started college with her dreams of being a marine biologist blooming. Evangeline, his sister who loved with her whole heart and made everyday an adventure when they were younger. Evangeline, who died six weeks after leaving home.

     Tyler has seen the pictures; those images are forever embedded into his mind. In the passed few months those images: her body lying contorted on the dirty pavement; crimson red blood on her tattered clothes; blue eyes vacant of vibrant life; bone pallored skin; bruise shaded lips. Those flashes of his dead were beginning to replace the memories he has retained of her.

     As he fights with the monster who’d snipped the tether that held his sister’s spirit to gravity, Tyler doesn’t give into the twists his stomach is making, trying to persuade him to leave before something bad happens. He can’t leave. Not now. Not when he has what he finally wants. Brooks is here in his basement with him. It took some time for Tyler to drag Brooks unconscious body into the basement since the sleeping drug he slipped in Brooks coffee knocked him out sooner than he had expected.

     He hadn’t counted on Brooks waking from deep slumber so soon and attacking him, yet here they were, struggling to get the upper hand.

     A life for a life, Tyler has repeated like a mantra for the passed few months as he observed Brooks from a distance. Now, as Brooks swings his tightly balled fist across Tyler’s face, he wonders if this is all really worth it–revenge. Will it really solve anything? Will it lessen his grieve? Will it make his sister return from the grave and walk in the door with her snorkeling gear on, persuading him to come with her?

     The shock wears off and the pain is vivid and agonizing as he falls to the carpet. Weak, yet unwilling to give into defeat, Tyler rolls over and crawls to toward the gun that had slid under the shelf across the room when Brooks woke up and attacked him. The carpet stings his kneecaps as he crawls through the searing infliction. With an arm outstretched, Tyler reaches for the gun, but is thwarted as a blow to his rib cage knocks the breath right out of his body.

     “Is this how you saw this ending?” Brooks bents over and wraps his fingers on the gun.

     Gasping like a fish, Tyler’s airways tighten and constrict his breathing. He flaps over on his back grabbing at his throat, praying for air to fill his lungs and rekindle the life within his body. His icy blue eyes fix on Brooks. “N…o…” He pushes out of his mouth and breaks out into a coughing fit. Air cuts at his throat, but at least small amounts of air are flowing in and out now.

     Brooks positions the gun directly over Tyler’s heart and steps closer as he rests his index finger on trigger, taunting. “You couldn’t left it alone and let me be, but you had to find me and bring me here. All for justice, so your beloved sister can rest in peace?” His face shows no remorse, and his voice is monotonous. “I’ll kill you like I killed her.”

     Three loud pops ring clear and a pressure hits his chest. Tyler gazes at himself and sees the red pools soak into his shirt. Brooks disappears in his haze. The world slips around him, cold and numbing.