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Shadow blood, p.14
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       Shadow Blood, p.14

           Jayde Scott
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  “Let me go instead of you,” Logan pleaded with him for the umpteenth time. “You’re needed. I’m not.”

  Shaking his head grimly, Blake dared another glance at the abyss. “It’s my burden to carry. No other but I will go.”

  Logan raised his head a notch, the golden specks in his dark eyes flickering—and Blake flinched. For a second, he thought he was staring at himself and the fearful blaze in his own eyes ten years ago. Then Logan lowered his gaze and the impression dissipated. “I won’t argue with my leader, but I wish you’d let me go.”

  “Take care of Clare,” Blake said, softly. Clare had not been born yet but he knew she would be soon. The Seer had predicted the birth of his mate long before Blake even knew what a mate was.

  “I’ll protect her with my life.” Logan retrieved a black bundle from under his tartan and unwrapped an opaque stone the size of his palm dangling from a chain. “The Seer said it would be of help.”

  With shaking fingers, Blake clasped the chain around his neck.

  “When?” Logan asked.

  “Tonight. When the first flake of snow has fallen.”

  Logan clenched his fists. “Then I shall pray to the gods it may never fall.”

  Blake smiled and grabbed his guard in a tight hug. “Goodbye.”

  “Come back,” Logan whispered before he turned on his heel and left.

  Something sparkled in the air. A single snowflake, like a diamond, caught the light of the moon. Blake knew the time had come.

  Inhaling the clean air of the Scottish Highlands, he took a step toward the edge. Stones cringed beneath his furred boots, disturbing the eerie silence of the night. With a last glance behind him, he jumped into the darkness, with Logan’s pale face and frightened eyes engraved in his mind.

  End of Preview…The Prophecy of Morganefaire will be out around summer 2013


  The missing chapters:

  Rebecca’s Rising

  Chapter 1

  Shortly before Blue Moon

  Silence had fallen when darkness first descended. The air reeked of filth, a pungent smell refined with the fragrance of herbs and fallen leaves. The first sensation Rebecca Duboire felt when she opened her eyes was a gnawing, all-consuming hunger that let her scream out with pain. Her hands moved up to protect herself from another agonizing wave when she knocked her elbow against something hard. Her fingers pushed against the smooth surface as she tried to place the alien sensation. And then came the shock at finding herself in a tight place destined for the dead.

  A coffin.

  She let out another shrill scream and her fists began to pound her prison cell as hard as she could. The wood split and earth rolled inside. After what felt like an eternity, she managed to push her hand out, followed by her exhausted body, and she realized her frail body lay buried under a thick layer of damp earth.

  Someone had buried her.

  She frantically dug her way out, wiggling herself free before inspecting her tomb—a cave small enough to crawl but not to stand, exposed to the destroying power of the sun but well hidden from civilization so no mortal could ever venture here and stumble upon what was left of her once glorious self. Whoever buried her, knew what he was doing. She dispelled her thoughts as to who could be responsible for her predicament and focused her attention back on her surrounding and on finding a way out.

  Little stones had dug themselves into her flesh, but she paid them no attention. Her whole body felt numb, dead, and that’s what she’d been only a day ago. Dead. Until the mirror resurrected her and pushed her back into the body that once belonged to her. Apart from the strong hunch that she was about to embark on an important mission, she had no idea who she was or what that mission was all about. She had no idea why she was wearing a simple dark-gray shirt that barely covered her hips or why the sleeves and sweetheart neckline were adorned with frills that didn’t really fit this century’s fashion style. In fact, she couldn’t remember a single detail about her life. But that’s the peril of resurrection. Your memory might be gone for a moment or forever. Rebecca had no doubt that it would return the moment she needed it.

  Ignoring the slicing pain in her stomach, she pushed up on her elbows and kicked away the dry earth, leaves and branches covering her. The stones dug deeper into her skin as she forced her body into a sideway position so she could smell the forest beyond the tomb. Freedom was finally within her reach.

  A silver, wafer-thin beam of moonlight fell through a hole in the wall on the moss covering parts of the floor. Keeping her had bowed, she struggled to her knees and let her gaze trail up and down the cave, looking for an exit. A cold draught caressed her skinny ankles. She bent down and regarded the narrow aperture on the other side of the wall. The opening was barely bigger than an oblong hole, worn out by rain, but it was big enough for her emaciated body to pass through. She pressed herself flat against the naked ground and reached out the hole, searching for something to hold on to. Her fingers clenched around a notch and she flexed her tired muscles, and then pulled herself with all her might out of the cave into the black night.

  The strenuous effort exhausted her so she lay on the ground for a while, gasping for air. The sky above reminded her of a magnificent curtain dotted with lustrous stars. She sat up on her elbows, and looked down to inspect her half-naked body. Her skin looked old and wrinkled, and felt as dry as the parchment she used to write on, stretched over protruding bones that creaked from old age. Her once luscious, dark red locks had fallen out, leaving behind round patches of flaky skin with raised edges she could feel under her fingertips. Her ribs stood out beneath the thin material of her shirt. Her once curvy body with long, shapely legs and a thin waist had faded away. The left shin was dangerously bent, and she tried to remember if she had broken her leg before dying, but could not recall. She didn’t dwell on the thought. It was nothing a little blood couldn’t solve. She might seem old and ugly now, but she knew she’d soon be young and beautiful again, despite centuries of living in Hell and not feeding from the source. Her beauty might be hidden behind a thick layer of dirt and saggy skin, but a good scrub and a few drops of blood would solve those tiny problems, and then Rebecca’s glory would once again be both admired and feared.

  Without further delay she started to walk. The ground was damp as through it had rained all day. The thick mud on her feet slowed down her pace, but she didn’t worry. She had at least five hours before sunrise and she was determined to find a mortal before the first ray of light fell.

  Soon she reached a paved road. Her sharp vision noticed two soft beams not far away from her. She stumbled forward, eager to find out what kind of light could break a dark night. The two dots moved nearer, getting stronger and bigger, and passed without noticing her standing just a few feet away. She stopped in astonishment and stared ahead. Prior to her resurrection she had been a ghost accustomed with this century’s technology, but seeing it all live overwhelmed her nonetheless. But Rebecca was a fast learner.

  Chapter 2

  At least another hour must’ve passed. The moon had risen to a high crescent, illuminating the dark asphalt. Rebecca’s supernatural ears picked up the sound of the next approaching car long before it reached her range of vision. With only the light of the bluish moon above her she began to wave, all the while concentrating her supernatural powers on influencing the driver’s mind. The headlights drew nearer, accompanied by the motor’s whirring sound. Rebecca kept on waving until the lights fell on her shape…and passed by. Her eyes followed it, too disappointed to notice that the driver had slowed down, coming to a halt some distance away, then changed gear and backed up to the point where she was standing. The reversing lights fell on her before the vehicle came to a halt, and then the engine revved and he sped off, probably frightened by whatever he saw in the rearview mirror. She couldn’t blame him. A stranger stopping a car in the middle of nowhere was strange. An old, withered woman dressed in a thin shirt was a whole different level of suspicious.
  Cars weren’t her friends. They were too fast, leaving the driver the choice to speed off and escape her grip at any second. She left the road and ventured back into the surrounding woods, following an unpaved path that seemed to go on forever. For a moment, she considered the possibility to go back, and hide in the cave, but changed her mind, and stumbled toward the trees not far ahead.

  The moment she reached the forest she knew she wasn’t alone. She turned her head sharply and sniffed the air to catch a whiff of the stranger watching her from the shadows, but her senses were too weak to distinguish if old or new blood coursed through his veins. Nevertheless she smiled because she had a target and this one was within her reach.

  The thicket moved with a mild breeze. She looked up to the sky, wrapped her arms around her waist, and strolled towards the bushes as she opened her mouth but only a muffled groan found its way out of her throat and for the first time since her awakening, she noticed just how thirsty she was. After another unsuccessful attempt, her thin voice finally broke the eerie silence of the night.

  “Penny, where are you?” she shouted. “Come here, doggie!” She didn’t sound like a grown, confident woman but like a frightened thing afraid of the dark. She figured that ought to infuse confidence and trigger anyone’s protective instincts. Feigning hesitation, she took another step forward when a huge shadow rose in front of her. She let out an exaggerated gasp and fell rearwards on her back.

  She could sense his hesitation and then a hand reached for her upper arm, ready to help her back to her feet. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” a low, male voice said. She tilted her head slightly to inspect him, but it was too dark and her burned, immortal eyes were too weak to make out more than just the curve of his nape where a steady pulse thumped beneath the skin.

  “What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?” he asked. “Did you get lost?” He tugged at her arm gently, as though to reassure her of his good intentions, a moment before he let go of her again.

  “I’m looking for my dog. Have you seen a little terrier with shaggy, brown hair and big eyes?” She forced a tremor into her thin voice to make it seem choked, as though she’d been crying for a while. “My baby ran away. She must be so frightened.”

  “I haven’t seen her. How long have you been looking?”

  “I don’t know,” she lied.

  “She’s probably hiding. It’s too dark to find her at night. Do you live nearby?”

  “I don’t know where I am,” she said. A few drops of moisture fell on her and gathered on the ancient skin of her head. The air was heavy with the damp scent of oncoming rain. She considered her options. Under normal circumstances she’d just attack, but the mortal seemed strong, used to the rough life out here in the woods. He fetched a torch out of his jacket and flicked it on, directing the dim light on her face, blinding her. A small gasp escaped her throat. Cupping a hand over her eyes, she blinked in succession. He averted the beam from her so she dared a look at him, which confirmed her first impression. He was well past his prime but sturdy and tall, taller than any other man she had ever seen, with short, bristly hair crowning his graying head. Weak as she was, if she wanted to take down this bull of a man, she’d need to be sneaky about it.

  “You’re hurt. What happened?” He sounded worried as his glance wandered down to her twisted leg. She could only imagine what she looked like, what someone must’ve done to her centuries ago. And then parts of her memory came to her, together with a name.

  Aidan McAllister.

  He was the one she was looking for. The one who had killed and burned her body, and trapped her inside the tomb where she lay for centuries, unable to rise…until her ghost reunited the shards of the mirror and brought her back to life by connecting her immortal soul with the remnants of her once immortal body, merging the two into one piece.

  “I think I fell,” she said.

  He didn’t seem convinced. “My family and I stay in a cabin nearby. My daughter’s a nurse. She can help you with your leg. First thing tomorrow we’ll take you to someone who’ll get you home.”

  “But Penny’s still out here,” Rebecca said halfheartedly.

  “We’ll find her.” He smiled encouragingly as she let him guide her away from the bushes to a small winding path. Toward his family.

  Chapter 3

  Dried branches and thorns scratched Rebecca’s bare feet and ankles, unable to penetrate her ancient skin. She followed in silence, lost in thought, her hearing focused on the thudding sound of the man’s heart, as she worked on devising a plan.

  “It’s right here,” he said. She raised her glance to peer at the inconspicuous wood cabin blending in with the darkness. He opened the door and stepped into a narrow, dimly lit hall, then hesitated as though waiting for her.

  The cabin was warm. In the artificial light, her dirty shirt seemed even thinner so she wrapped her arms around her body to cover the signs of death.

  “Here, put this on.”

  He shrugged out of his oversized jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders when a female voice called from the adjacent room, “Hey, Dad. Dinner’s waiting in the kitchen. We didn’t know when you’d be back so the kids have already eaten.”

  The man smiled at Rebecca and the thin skin around his eyes crinkled into hundreds of tiny wrinkles. “That’s my daughter,” he said proudly as he guided Rebecca into what looked like a living room with old furniture and a glimmering box with fast moving images set up near an unlit fireplace. A television set, Rebecca thought. One of the many marvelous inventions this century had to offer. As a ghost, she had seen them all, though she’d never really been able to feel them and now her fingers itched to touch the flicking glass surface to see whether the moving images felt as real as they looked. But her curiosity had to wait.

  Forcing her gaze away from the television set, she peered at the worn sofa. On it slept two children covered with a thick, cream, cotton blanket that had seen better days. The woman Rebecca assumed was the man’s daughter sat on the floor in front of them with her legs crossed, engrossed in a paperback novel. A single light bulb hanging from a long string in the ceiling cast a golden hue on the walls and the woman’s pale skin. At the sound of approaching footsteps, she looked up surprised and put the novel facedown on the nearby coffee table. For the fraction of a second her glance betrayed worry before it disappeared.

  “Hi,” she said, her questioning gaze wandering from Rebecca to the man standing in the doorway then back to Rebecca. Her brown hair was cut into a fashionable bob that brushed her strong chin and fell into her dark brown. She pushed a stray strand out of her eyes and stood from the floor. Rebecca had all of three seconds to regard her, but that was all the time she needed to decide the woman would be a fighter, just like her father.

  “She lost her dog,” the man explained. “I promised we’ll help her tomorrow.”

  “I’m Jessie.” She stretched out her hand, as though to shake Rebecca’s, then pulled back again—maybe disgusted by what she saw. Her voice had an uneasy edge to it at the prospect of having a stranger in her house in the middle of the night. Her gaze brushed Rebecca up and down, and settled on her patchy scalp for longer than it was polite, and then moved down to the thin, white shirt and bare legs. Jessie’s thoughts rang crystal clear in Rebecca’s head. She wondered what happened, whether Rebecca was sick, or why else would anyone be in such bad shape?

  “My name’s Rebecca.” She regarded Jessie’s pretty face. “My husband and I were planning to spend a few days in the cabin on the other side of the woods when I went for a midnight walk with Penny and the leash somehow ripped.”

  The excuse sounded vague. Jessie hesitated. For a brief moment, Rebecca focused. The barrier kept her out for all of two seconds, and then she was inside Jessie’s head, skimming through years of memories, of pictures of happiness, sorrow and pain.

  Something awful must have happened to her and now she’s too shocked or ashamed to tell the truth, afraid
that someone might hurt her if she does.

  Rebecca smiled. She liked the idea of Jessie thinking a husband had mistreated her. It made everything so much easier.

  “You can spend the night here,” Jessie eventually said. “Tomorrow we’ll take you to the nearest police station. My father knows this region well. The village isn’t far away.”

  “Thank you.” Rebecca dared a glimpse at the two children wrapped in a thick blanket, sleeping like little angels, their blood smelling as sweet as honey. Jessie must’ve noticed her tongue flicking eagerly over her lower lip for she poured a glass of lukewarm water from a bottle on the coffee table, and pressed it into Rebecca’s hand, who pretended to take small sips but the liquid barely stained her lips, leaving a bitter taste in its wake.

  “Are you hungry? I could make you some soup,” Jessie said.

  “That won’t be necessary,” Rebecca replied. The only food she needed was blood, preferably fresh and still warm.

  Jessie exchanged a worried glance with her father and whispered to him that she’d take care of the rest. She waited until he slumped on the sofa before she guided Rebecca to the table and camping chairs near the window. “You can take a bath if you want. The water’s cooled down but—” Her voice trailed off.

  “I don’t mind,” Rebecca said. “Are these your children?” Jessie nodded so Rebecca continued. “They’re lovely.”

  “Stephanie’s ten and Brian’s three. We arrived a few hours ago and they’re very tired from the journey and—” Jessie wrapped her arms around her and stopped in mid-sentence. She didn’t know why she was saying this to a stranger, so she decided to change the subject, trying to divert the attention away from her children. But Rebecca could read each and every thought, each pang of disquiet, each uncomfortable gesture, as though they were communicated through a loudspeaker. She smiled at the young mother in the hope her smile would encourage the other woman to trust her.

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