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       Light, p.29

           Adrienne Woods
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  “She was your Hound, wasn’t she?” I asked through tears.

  He nodded. “I’m sorry you had to go through all that.”

  I shook my head. “So… all Shadow Casters are Light Casters.”

  “No,” he smiled again. “Most of them turn dark when something dark happens. Once your shadow sand is released, your gold is gone. But in our situation, the gold returns.”

  I nodded.

  He brushed an invisible piece of lint from my arm. “It’s weird how we never talked about that night in our dreams, huh?”

  My eyes traced his broad shoulders and the dark eyes behind his glasses. “I guess we had more important things on our mind.”

  He laughed softly.

  “So you’re really Ash’s brother?”

  His eyebrows arched slightly. He didn’t like the idea of having a twin.

  “You don’t want a brother, do you?’

  “No, it’s not that. I always knew about Ash; my father told me about him and my mother.”

  “So your father is really alive? I thought he died a long time ago.”

  “He didn’t. When you’re ready I would love to introduce you.” There was a pregnant pause. “Ash is the one who struggles with the fact that I exist.”

  “I see. Karin never told him about you, did she?”

  He smiled. “Nothing escapes you.” He sniffed and tears welled up in his eyes too. “The day my mother realized that my sand was gold,” he said, “she called my dad to take me with him back to Revera.”

  I gasped.

  He smiled and nodded. “We are not so different, Chas. He came, they met in secret, and I was given to him. It couldn’t have been easy on her or Ashton.”

  “Or you,” I said. He’d lost his mother that day.

  “I was only four years old, and although I can’t remember it, I can only imagine what my mother went through. And my brother.”

  “Why didn’t they go with you?”

  “Everything was different then, Chas. My father didn’t have the contacts yours had. We couldn’t just go to the Domain. They would’ve never accepted my mother or brother in the Outer, and we had no idea that the Hether existed.”

  “Sorry, I just thought…”

  “It’s fine. My father got ambushed and that was the last thing my mother saw. If it wasn’t for Eric and his men, we wouldn’t have made it. And that was how my father found the Hether. He’s been trying to find the gateway to the Oblivion for as long as I’ve known him. My mother told us that for months, my brother and she were held in confinement. But her skill at curing Shadow Hounds saved her.”

  “Where is Kiara, Leigh?” I asked, my tears blurring my vision.

  A tear rolled down his cheek. “My mother said when Kiara and Lauderdale teleported in front of them, she just collapsed. I’m so sorry, Chas,” he started weeping.

  I held him tight. “It’s okay.” I tried to control my emotions, but it was hard. She was a part of me.

  “Kaleido is here. He’s being held in confinement; he can’t survive in the Hether yet. My mother is trying everything to help, but she’s struggling. Ash doesn’t want her to rest, and she doesn’t know how to say no to him.”

  I could see the worry in Leigh’s eyes.

  “I want him to be okay, but she needs her rest, Chas.”

  I nodded. That much I could understand.

  “Eric is working hard on making the Hether easy for all of them. We have a total of three dogs. We’ve never had a Shadow Hound before, and now we have three we can’t save.”

  “You will, okay? You conjured the freaking Virtual Realm. You can do this.”

  He nodded again and took a deep breath.

  I could only imagine what Ash was going through. “So why doesn’t Ash like you?”

  He smiled. “He feels betrayed, I guess. My dad took me away to a better place. Ash stayed in the hellhole. I don’t know. He doesn’t speak to anyone.”

  My heart went out to Leigh, to both of them. I’d kissed Ash; he’d told me how he felt. He must have put two and two together when he saw Leigh.

  “May I see him?”

  Leigh looked at me in confusion. Then he nodded.

  I didn’t know what he was thinking, but that look told me one thing. He didn’t like my being friends with his brother. Even so, he led me out the room and down the hallway.

  The place was big, much like the compound where Max and Margot had lived. I made a mental note to ask him what had happened to Max. I hadn’t seen him yet. The hallway was long and we passed many doors, then finally he stopped and knocked twice.

  “Go away!” Ash yelled.

  “Open up, you idiot,” I said. A few seconds later, footsteps stomped over and the door opened.

  Leigh’s and Ash’s eyes met.

  Then Ash pulled me by the hand into his room, shutting the door in Leigh’s face.

  I stared at Ash as he stalked back to his bed. “It’s not his fault, Ash.”

  “Not his fault? I have a twin brother who wasn’t that surprised to see me, Chas. He knew about my existence, and I had no idea about his.”

  “Because your mother thought they were dead.”

  He sulked. “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

  “Don’t say that. You’re here, back together.”

  “No, we aren’t. Do you know about Kaleido? Where he is? About Lauderdale?”

  “Lauderdale?” I asked. “He’s still alive?” Anger flowed into my voice.

  Ash’s nostrils flared. I didn’t care how angry he was.

  I poked his chest. “He killed Kiara, and you let him live?”

  “I can’t kill Shadow Hounds, Chas.”

  “She was Kaleido’s twin.”

  “No, she was his.” He pointed at the door.

  “She was mine! I hate you!” I cried and ran back to the door. I couldn’t speak to him right now. Why had he let Lauderdale live?

  I opened the door and found Leigh leaning against the opposite wall, waiting for me. He seemed pissed when he saw tears in my eyes.

  “That’s it!”

  “No.” I pushed him back. “Just leave him,” I begged and held Leigh tight. “Let’s just go, please.”

  He took me away, back in the direction of my room.

  “I can’t believe Ash didn’t kill Lauderdale.”

  “I’m so sorry, Chas.”

  “Don’t apologize for your brother. He’s an ass.”

  He smiled. “He’s not an ass. We both know that. He was there for you when I wasn’t.”

  “It’s not your fault. You’re here now and that’s all that matters.”

  He nodded and enveloped me in his strong arms. His scent, that oddly masculine smell of summer flowers and a sun-drenched meadow, filled my nose, and I sucked it in greedily. His lips brushed my forehead.

  “Do you guys at least have some showers or something?”

  “Of course we do.” He grinned at me.

  He took me all the way to the opposite side of the compound. The hallways were big and old. It smelled antique, like a museum.

  Leigh and I didn’t speak. I was too upset with Ashton; I didn’t want to talk to anyone.

  “Here you go,” he said as he pushed another door open, revealing a huge bathroom with a big, ornate bathtub.

  “Could you please wait outside until I’m done? I’m never going to find my way back to my room alone.”

  His dark eyes glittered. “No problem.”

  He closed the door.

  Though the bath was great, I felt hollow.

  I had no family left, except the sadistic son of a bitch who was being held in custody.

  No, he wasn’t family.

  My mother was gone, my father long gone, and I was stuck in yet another unfamiliar place. Uprooted, unmoored.

  My mother had warned me not to be too hard on Ash. Now I knew what she meant. He’d allowed Lauderdale, Kiara’s killer, live. I wasn’t supposed to be too hard on him for that.

  I looked at my s
udsy hands.

  I remembered the dark sand consuming me. It had surrounded my cousin and myself as I squeezed the life out of her.

  I didn’t regret killing her.

  But I still couldn’t remember anything else that happened in that room. How had they known what we’d been planning? Guinevere had been busy telling me, but then everything just froze.

  One huge fucking gap. I couldn’t even retrace my steps and try to find the details. Try to put the story back together.

  I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to feel the way I did.

  I wanted to be…

  “Hello, Chastity. At last we meet in person,” Magdalena’s voice said.

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  Three stories exclusively written for the Hinder Pre-Order drive. Adrienne Woods - The Ascension of Lucian McKenzie and The lost Chalice, an introduction short story written by Kristin Ping. Don’t miss out on Crows of Winter, only available when purchasing Hinder for only 99c

  Adrienne Woods lives in South Africa with her family. She writes full time under plenty pen names and around 15 novels under her belt.

  When she isn’t writing she is teaching two bulldog pups not to eat her house.

  To follow Adrienne and her upcoming releases go to

  www.authoradriennewoods.com

 


 

  Adrienne Woods, Light

 


 

 
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