Twisted Sisters
The Orion Circle #2

       “Huge EMF spike!” Carl shouts, waving the EMF detector in the air.
That’s it. I can’t wait for Raven any longer. Mr. Kincaid’s voice echoes in my ears, calling me stupid for rushing in not knowing what’s in there. I’m in charge of this fiasco… I never should’ve let her run in without more information. Steeling my shoulders, I cross the threshold into the house.
I stop and survey the scene in seconds, taking in the ridiculous amount of damage. The living room is trashed: sofa overturned, lamps broken on the floor, and the front window shattered by the flying armchair. No sign of Raven, but the girls said they were using the board in the kitchen. As I walk down the hall toward the back of the house, a ceramic figurine flies at me. I duck just in time as it grazes the top of my hair. I’m finding it difficult to believe spirits summoned from a spirit board by amateurs could be this powerful.
The family room is in a similar state to the living room. When I spy the sixty-inch TV on the floor in a smashed mess my heart thumps faster. These are powerful spirits or maybe even a rogue gang. That TV had to weigh over one hundred pounds, and it’s a good twelve feet from the entertainment center. No sign of Raven in here either.
A fierce wind blows from the kitchen, slamming me against the wall. So much power. None of this makes any sense!
“Raven.” I try to call out, but my voice comes out a hoarse croak.
My body is freed as the wind dies down, and I race toward the kitchen. Something shoves me from behind, sending me reeling across the tile floor. I manage to rotate myself at the last second so my shoulder impacts the wall instead of my head. The wind stops the moment I hit the wall. As I rub my sore shoulder, a loud scream pierces the silence. My stomach drops at the sheer terror echoing in that scream. Raven.
Leaping to my feet, I search the large kitchen for her. When my eyes land on her, I blink a few too many times. This shouldn’t be possible.
“Hang on, Raven,” I call out to her form suspended in midair near the ceiling.
“Hang on? Really?” Her arms are splayed out to the sides. Though she tries to project confidence with her words, I can tell from her face that she’s terrified.
“Release her at once!” I yell at the invisible spirits. “She has done nothing to you.”
“Don’t you think I already tried that?” Raven bites out in between gasping breaths.
“St. Michael, the archangel, def—” I start the prayer, but something crashes into me, knocking the wind from my lungs as I’m slammed into the floor. It takes a few dazed seconds to realize it’s Raven’s body crushing me. “Can you move?”
“I don’t know.” She rolls off me despite her words, groaning. “Those damned spirits. Madder than cornered rattlesnakes.”
“I can’t feel anything but intense hatred and fury.” I push to my feet, ignoring the searing pain in my side. After hauling Raven up by the arm, I drag her toward the back door.
“Wait!” she yells, yanking her arm away. “The board.” Raven disappears beneath the long oak table. A few seconds later, she pops out holding the spirit board.
“Come on,” I shout when I feel the spirits returning for round two. “Crap, too late.” An invisible force plows into me, pushing me back into the unforgiving wall. “Raven, run!”
Something hits me in the ribs, banging my body into the wall once, twice, three times. My head spins from the impact. At least Raven made it out. A white mist fills my vision, and I blink several times. It doesn’t go away, only becomes sharper, more focused. Her form is wispy, ethereal. She would be beautiful were her lips not turned into a vicious sneer. I lay on the ground, waiting for her to make her move while she floats around me.

Tortured Souls

The Orion Circle #1

       Horrifying broken pictures shatter the tranquility of my once pleasant dream. Though I scream in my mind to wake up, I know I won’t be able to. I’m captive in my own head while the gritty scenes play out in stark black and white, flickering like an old silent movie. I run from the phantom chasing me. When I slip in a dark gray puddle, my body collides with the ground, my hands slapping into the viscous liquid. Blood. The sharp, pungent odor assaults my nose, telling me this is no ordinary dream.
I stare into the sightless eyes of a teenage girl sprawled across the grass like a broken, discarded doll. Her legs bend beneath her at impossible angles, the bone poking through the shin of one leg. Blood seeps from her shattered skull, flowing to the grass in rivulets to pool around her lifeless body. As I try to crawl away from the broken girl, I sense the approach of a monster, the man responsible for this gruesome display. With a tiny whimper I surge to my feet. He’s on me in a flash, and I scream a wordless keening cry before my airway is forced closed. My sanity begins to shatter then everything goes mercifully black…
Somehow I manage to tear myself from the gut-wrenching dream. I bite my lip to keep from screaming. Blood pours into my mouth, and I gag on the metallic taste. As my heartbeat begins to return to a normal rhythm, I untangle my body from the sheets holding me captive on the floor of my room. Lurching to my feet, I try to comfort my mind, ease my quaking nerves. This is the fifth night in a row I’ve had this dream. It’s always the same, always in black and white, gritty, the images jerky.
I haven’t seen the attacker, the monster responsible for the grisly murder. The faceless phantom hides in the darkest recesses of my mind. He chases me for several minutes in the dream, but I never turn to face him. Deep down I know if I face this dream monster, something awful will happen.
Leaving the sheets on the floor, I move back to sit on my bed, staring into the room, but only seeing the dream. Vision, my mind insists—it was a vision not a dream.

Stolen Moon

Light Chronicles Book 2

Clashing metal. Pained screams. So many bodies, it's hard to tell friend from foe. A sword descends toward me. I catch it in my peripheral vision just in time to block it with my own. My body is at an awkward angle, and the blow jars my arm, sending pain lancing up into my shoulder. When I turn to face my attacker, a startled gasp escapes my throat.
"Roland?" I ask as tears fill my eyes. "Is it really you?"
"En guarde, Katarina," Roland replies, pointing his sword at me. "We are enemies now."
"But…" I trail off, unable to continue as I stare at my best friend. The boy I had once fantasized about marrying is now a man. "I thought you were dead."
"That's what I wanted you to think," he says as the point of his sword lowers a few inches toward the ground. "I had to leave—to fight for something I believe in… or rather against someone I don't believe in."
"Traitor," I bite out in a harsh whisper. "How could you turn your back on your comrades?"
"How can you continue to follow and fight for a madman?" Roland counters, his sword point creeping up again while mine hangs loosely at my side.
"I'm loyal to Tellain," I reply through gritted teeth.
"Until Zebulon is defeated, there is no Tellain to be loyal to," he says with a sad shake of his head. "Look at him, Katarina. Look!"
He points to the hilltop in the distance where Zebulon and Lilith are lighting the captured enemy soldiers on fire one at a time. This isn't a mass conflagration. No, they are burning slowly, their screams echoing above the noise of the battle. My heart falls. I know Zebulon must be defeated. But I also know that it must come from within where he least expects it. I've been biding my time for three years now. One day, I will take him down.
"I am doing what I can from within," I say, somehow managing to keep my emotions firmly under wraps. "One day I will succeed."
"And how many will die while you twiddle your thumbs?" Roland asks, spittle flying from his mouth in his fervor. "I loved you once. Now you're nothing but my enemy. You're pathetic. Too scared to cut ties with Zebulon and do what's right. You don't deserve to live. You're just as bad as he is!"
Roland's anger fuels his attack, and his sword crashes down against mine. My arms shake from the force of the blow. I counter three tremendous strikes. When he raises his sword for the next attack, he leaves his left side wide open. I slash my sword across his hip and down his left leg. It tears through his leather breeches much deeper than I intended. Tears burn my eyes when I meet his startled gaze.
"Finish me, Katarina," he says in a choked murmur. "Don't let Zebulon or Lilith get their hands on me. Please."
My vision blurs, and I blink the tears away so I can see my enemy. Roland, the boy I once loved stares at me with pleading eyes. Pulling my dagger from the scabbard on my thigh, I kneel next to his head and slit his throat in one quick motion. Watching the life drain from his eyes firms my resolve. I don't want to watch more people I love die needless deaths. I will stop Zebulon or die trying.

Shadow Fire
Light Chronicles Book 1

The sound of metal clashing echoes through the air on deck. In the center of the ship Zane and Taranis are sparring while the crew watches from a safe distance. Neither man seems to be holding back. Skirting around the fighting men, I reach the stairs up to the helm and scale them. Several pirates are leaning up against the railing overlooking the deck. When I appear they move aside to make a space for me in the middle. 
“How long have they been at it?” I ask the group of men. 
“Half an hour or so,” a red-haired pirate replies. “You want in on the betting pool? It's not too late.” 
“I'll pass thanks.” 
Only a moron would bet against Zane. Although I have to admit, it appears Taranis is putting up a good fight. He rushes at Zane with a series of furious swings, which are all parried with ease. When he leaps away, Zane charges him. Taranis manages to parry all but one swing. This one he blocks with the large silver gauntlet on his left forearm. Zane takes a step back and lowers his sword. 
“Had enough yet, pirate?” he asks laughing. 
Taranis is staring at him in cool silence, but his breathing is a bit labored. When the captain rushes him, Zane drops to the ground and knocks him down with a leg sweep. Taranis sprawls on the deck but doesn't lose his sword. Zane leaps to his feet and moves to place his sword at the rogue's throat. Taranis manages to block the strike with his gauntlet before leaping back to his feet. 
“I guess not,” Zane observes.
 Taranis gazes up at me with a leer and a wicked smirk. I don't even have time to gulp before he vaults over the rail to seize me around the waist. My shriek is somewhere between a cry of surprise and a laugh when Taranis pulls me against his side, pointing his sword at Zane. 
“Drop your sword, mercenary,” he commands. 
“Why would I do that?” Zane asks scowling. He's obviously not happy with the direction of the fight. For my part, I lean against Taranis, trying hard not to laugh. 
“I have your woman,” Taranis declares. “I'm sure you wouldn't want to see her harmed.”
 “I know you won't hurt her, pirate,” Zane says, exasperation apparent in his eyes and his voice. 
With a smirk, I glance up at the pirate's jubilant face. I have to agree with Zane. Taranis is as harmless as a puppy. 
“Now either get back down here or surrender,” Zane yells. 
“What if I do this?” Taranis asks, pulling on my braid and baring my neck to him. 
His lips start trailing feather light kisses up my neck. I'm too shocked to do anything but stand in his embrace. 
“Oh, that's it!” Zane shouts, running toward us. “You're a dead man!” 
“Sorry, my gorgeous beauty,” Taranis says laughing, “gotta go!” He leaps off the railing just as Zane reaches my side.
 “Are you all right?” Zane asks, cupping my cheek. I try to keep it in but to no avail. My laughter rings out, and I'm doubled over by the force of it. “I'll take that as a yes,” he mumbles before he takes off running after Taranis. “You may as well surrender, pirate! Where are you going to run? This is a ship!”