Excerpt – Chapter 1
I choked on the black fear unfurling in my soul, brought on by what would come, what always assaulted me the moment I slipped into unconsciousness. It was stupid to think I could run from it for a third night, but shreds of hope were all that had kept me sane. Primal, cold and so dark it blotted out my Light.
Sleep, more terrifying than anything I’d faced yet, claimed me again.
Standing on the balcony of the new fae castle, I gazed over winding rows of ancient shifter houses, each quiet and seemingly content in slumber, in a night that wasn’t dark. Dark and light all at once—a perfect balance, as if the world hadn’t yet decided which side would win, until the red clouds rolled and curled across the sky like blood spilled into water. Flames, intelligent and ravenous, spread from the east, ready to consume everything and everyone until nothing but ash remained. Heat licked at my skin, growing hotter. Knowing it was only a dream didn’t keep sweat from pearling along my face and neck or the blue streak of profanity from escaping to color the air. Heart thundering, I gripped the railing while I stared at the coming storm, brain frozen with the puzzle I hadn’t yet solved.
What are you trying to tell me? What am I missing?
From below, shrieks invaded my ears, thundering across the land until they rose into a deafening clatter of sound. The houses came alive with light, moaning as fae spilled into the cobblestone streets and stared skyward before scattering, each filled with agony and despair deep enough there would be no escape from it. Dying. They were dying. My own scream built in my throat, to tell them I would fix it somehow, that I would save them, but it couldn’t find an escape. Nor would my body obey my commands to move, to help them. To do something. Anything.
The scene changed as it always did. I stared down from far above, my limbs turned to torches of white fire. A globe of light around me cast a white wash over the city, over the fae who still ran in every direction.
I am the storm.
Wings pounding against the wind reached me a moment before a giant snowy owl arrived to hover before me, those golden eyes shining with rage and fear, both inducing immense relief that Liam had come and blinding horror with some distant knowledge that he should have run, too.
My scream pierced the silence as a wail let loose from his beak.
“Wake up, Lila. Please, wake up!”
Warmth on my arm jerked me awake.
Damn near hyperventilating, I scrambled out of bed and landed on my hands and knees on the hardwood without a stitch of clothing on, unsure if the room spun or if I was just dizzy. When Liam approached, his eyes haunted and glassy, a chilled realization hit me and stalled my breath until my lungs ached with need. What if the storm hadn’t been a dream?