Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Spellbound Novel Book 1
Release Date: June 30, 2011
Publisher: Moonlight Publishing
Thirteenth daughter. Heritage witch. Demon slayer.
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse.
Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. When she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes spellbound by his charms.
Finally, Shiloh’s met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list. And Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?
It sucks to have a destiny, especially since Shiloh would rather spend her summer being a normal girl who worries about clothes and boys, not the supernatural. But she’s never been normal, and the stranger things become the more her own magical senses awaken.
With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, she will begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist and decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.
Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.
For as long as I could remember, I’d heard whispers in the shadows—those dark, twisting shapes that chilled my blood. Slithering through the fog, the images flickered with black skin, red eyes, sharp claws. Sunlight meant the difference between life and death.
During the day I normally felt safe, with the heat of the sun brushing my skin, so when the shadows showed up that morning in my bedroom I barely recognized their eerie whispering. The desk lamp flickered. I stared at the last line I’d typed on my essay for English class, my hand hovering over the keyboard.
My homework can wait.
I raised my head and closed the laptop. Normally I don’t complain about getting a break from my studies, but when a supernatural hush came over the room, my heart hammered. A hint of chilling menace climbed up my spine. Finishing my homework was the last thing on my mind.
I jumped up, scanning the dark bends and edges of the room. The swirling azure colors of the witch ball suspended over my bed rotated in a slow circle. I got down on my hands and knees to check under the bed. Nothing. The closet door stood open a crack. I wavered, shoulders hitching.
My gut clenched. My skin prickled. I dragged my feet over to the closet. I pushed the door wider with my bare foot. On tiptoes, I leaned over the threshold and stretched to grasp the brass chain. Light bled across dirty laundry and metal hangers scattered on the floor. Dusty board games littered the shelf and haphazardly hung clothes swayed on the bar. My fuzzy pink bunny slippers stared at me with glassy button eyes. Nothing unusual.
So why am I so freaked?
The feeling indistinct but ominous, lingered like the remnants of a bad dream. I couldn’t isolate the source. But something felt wrong.
The closet light and lamp suddenly blew out. As I turned around, a maelstrom of shadows caught my peripheral vision. I saw things in it. Something snaked past my leg. Writhed.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! Forgot to keep my telepathic shield up. Again.
Shadows murmured in an ancient language and covered the crème carpet like an opaque stain. Within the inky blobs were gleaming eyes. Crimson orbs, open and staring. Spiny black fingers reached out to grab my ankles, feeding off my fear, doled out like bitter candy. Instinct jerked me from their grasp. Anthracite things with darkling eyes glared back at me.
I stood with my back to the closet door. Trembles traveled from my legs and vibrated up my neck. Dread choked me like a noose, strangling me from the inside. Bile rose in my throat. I struggled to calm myself; all I had to do was run from the room. Instead I froze. My eyes caught something else. An entity too dense and vertical to be serpentine detached itself from the shadows. Bigger. Darker. Malevolent.
The amorphous darkness was deep and vast, and inside the shadow a terrible yawning hunger rose in front of my wide eyes. The shadow pulsated like a nimbus of crude oil, swirling until it nearly touched the ceiling. It morphed, muscles expanding over bones, skin convulsing, a resurrection of shiny obsidian, smooth and razor-sharp, created from darkness and shadow. It throbbed, altered, trickled into limbs and flesh and…
Oh, God, it’s almost touching me!
I flinched and stumbled back, bumping into a chair. My knees buckled. I swayed, leaning hard on the doorframe. Blood roared in my ears.
The nest of smaller shadows shimmered and crouched in terror. They whispered in tangled voices, circling my legs like frightened children. Their panic increased, seeping into my gut. My palms were damp.
When scary things get scared—so not good.
Breathing out desperate little choking noises, I shook my head, hoping the image would fade. The headshake didn’t make a difference. Only reinforced my worst nightmare.
Darkness had come alive and coalesced while I watched, taking on form—human form.
Power surged through the demon as he swelled into a seething black mass of energy bent on blocking my escape. He had rough skin the color of soot with sturdy flexibility more sinuous than flesh like a venomous viper. His strange features—part phantom, part skeleton—fought to become corporeal. Naked. Partially humanoid. No genitals. No hair. He flexed his hands, revealing long fingernails. Talons on his feet. Knife sharp teeth. The creature did not move. He watched me. His ochre eyes blazed, searing through my nightgown and scorching my skin.
Shadows slunk away, blending into the dim corners. Little red eyes blinked. However, the other seven-foot-tall creature remained. The hellish warmth radiating from his body entered mine like the breath of a dragon.
I swallowed. Hard. Beneath my hair, my scalp prickled with sweat. It wasn’t as if I was some girly-girl afraid of her own shadow, but when they had glowing eyes and sharp teeth…well, I tend to freak out.
Okay, focus, Shiloh.
My gaze darted to the window. Sunlight my only ally. If I lifted the shade, the sun’s rays would swallow the darkness. At least that was the idea. A crack of light ebbed into the room, soaking the nearest crevasses. Inching forward I kept an eye on the junior shadows with their onyx hands, arms…flashes of carved faces. They continually moved, sliding under the bed in a twisted game of peek-a-boo. The shadow man stood very still. Intent, watchful, calm. Dangerous.
Disgusting odor of sulfur, musty and acrid, wrinkled my nose. I wanted to say something tough and snarky, but I only gaped stupidly at Shadow Man. Big bad evil. Whatever.
I pinched my nose and focused on not throwing up.
Shadow Man raised one hand and pointed at my arm. “Debts must be paid.” His inhuman intonation slid across the space between us, resonant and sinister like the threat of a snake before it strikes. “You bear the devil’s mark.”
The ugly scar on my forearm burned at his words as if I’d plunged it into scalding water. I held my arm against me. Tears filled my eyes. I gritted my teeth, twitching and unsure what to do next.
Move. Now. My legs refused to budge. Terror clutched my throat. Please, oh please go away. I wished for the courage to scream or fight, rather than stiffen like a statue, immobile and breathless.
He glowered. The shadows swarmed around me. They had me cornered. I backed into the closet door and stared, waiting for them to attack. Shadow Man stepped closer and his minions crouched behind him. The circle tightened, then he stopped. He cocked his head to the side.
Someone knocked on the door. “Shiloh?” My mother’s voice, loud and anxious penetrated the wood. Huh. Her frantic tone was almost as odd as the demonic-thingy standing in my bedroom. “What’s going on in there? I heard a noise.”
No way am I letting the big bad evil leave this room to hurt my parents. Who knows what Shadow Man will do?
“Uh, sorry,” I croaked. “Can’t decide what to wear.”
“Be quieter then.” She twisted the knob. Thankfully, the door was locked.
Now I had no choice but to do something about this…this thing. I glanced from the door to the demonic shadow. I recognized danger. I recognized warnings. I bit my lip, tasting blood.
“Okay.” My fists clenched at my sides. Fingernails cutting deep into my palm.
“We’re gonna be late…and do something with your hair.” The soft tread of my mother’s feet down the hall rattled me enough to do what I’d first intended—run like hell. Then I surprised myself with a sudden burst of anger. I didn’t know where it came from, but I was glad for it. More than glad. My fear dissolved.
The eruption of hostility flushed my cheeks. My reflection in the mirror above the dresser, showed they were stained with the blood of roses. My lips tightened. Fresh tears stung my eyes and that pissed me off even more.
Come on, Shiloh—think. I rubbed my hurting arm over the cotton nightgown. Door or window?
Shadow Man stood between the door and me. His black and muscular physique looked invulnerable. The heat of his gaze slammed into my scar. Yellow eyes that expressed lust, thirst, hunger…death. He crooked a finger like a hook. “Come here.” The demon’s gaze flicked sideways, settling on me with such heaviness and animosity my skin recoiled. “Now, or pay the consequences.”
Anger uncoiled in my heart. Darkness as black as the demon before me. I jerked forward, my cheeks flaming. My short fingernails dug into my palm, drawing blood. But I felt no pain. Only the slow graze of terrible rage. I bared my teeth in a snarl. The darkness stirred within my heart: pensive, unwinding.
“Is that a threat?” I asked, but the tone was not mine. This time power flooded my voice.
No one moved. Even the nasty little shades became rigid. Shadow Man hesitated. Our eyes locked. I held my breath, watching him. My heart beat at a dizzying pace. He smiled and flung back his head. A thin stream of black smoke spewed from his parted lips. The predatory cloud snake pulsed with electricity. His smoky vomit was viscous and black, generating an electromagnetic vibration and a sulfurous residue.
At that moment, the only things real to me were the rage coursing through my veins and the heat scorching the scar that traced a jagged line from my elbow to my wrist. A constant reminder of my freakishness, ensuring I’d never forget.
Instead of screaming like a smart girl, I decided to be brave and sprint for the one thing that might save me. The window. As I raced past Shadow Man, a blistering heat slashed through my chest. Stumbling, I tripped over a book and then fell to my knees. I gripped the ledge of the windowsill. Panic and fury radiated through my limbs. Blazing strong, a surge of mystical energy encompassed my body, crackling with power. Static electricity lifted my long hair.
Oh, god. Please—OPEN!