Sample Sunday – Strange Magic

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Strange Magic will be out in a couple of days, so here’s a little teaser from the book. (This one might be a little scarier/creepier than some of my other teasers!)

~~~

Zoe stopped in the middle of a largish circular area, probably a favorite spot for turning around big trucks with trailers, judging by all the overlapping tread marks in the sandy dirt. The wind began to pick up and she shivered, wishing she’d thought to bring a jacket with her. Phoenix’s hot, dry days tended to make you forget that it could get damn cold out in the open desert once the sun went down.

Another flick of the flashlight around the clearing revealed absolutely nothing. And yet….

She could feel the tourmaline heating up in her jeans pocket, despite the thick fabric that prevented the stone from touching her bare skin. After transferring the Maglite to her left hand, she reached into her pocket and retrieved the tourmaline, then winced slightly at its heat against her bare palm.

Was it glowing?

No, that wasn’t possible. She knew about black tourmaline’s psychic properties, but nothing she’d ever read had told her it could start to shine from within, a deep, dark red appearing at its very heart.

That alteration startled her so much she almost wanted to drop the stone, but she knew better than that. If it was glowing this intensely, then that meant something bad was coming, even if she couldn’t see it yet.

Everything in her was screaming at her to shove the tourmaline back in her pocket and make a run for the car. She even took a step in that direction before she stopped herself. What was the point in coming all the way out here if she’d only intended to drop everything and flee at the first sign of danger?

Instead, she swallowed and stood her ground, then moved the Maglite in careful arcs calculated to show as much of the open area as possible. If the creature really was about to descend on her, she wanted to get as clear a look at it as possible when it approached.

But still she saw nothing, even though the tourmaline now felt as if it was about to burn a hole right through her jeans. The wind died away suddenly, the leaves on the manzanitas and the mesquite trees going dead calm.

Was that a good sign, or —

Something grabbed her wrist in a grip like iron. Startled, every nerve ending coming alive with a massive jolt of adrenaline, Zoe dropped the Maglite. It hit the ground and rolled away a couple of feet…but not far enough away to keep it from showing exactly what had accosted her.

It towered over her, somehow even bigger than it had appeared when she’d confronted it at the golf course. Or maybe that was just her fear talking. She didn’t know for sure, only saw that it had to be well over a foot taller than she was. The fingers wrapped around her wrist burned hot against her skin, hotter than the tourmaline in her pocket, which now felt like a live coal had somehow lodged itself in there.

And its face — it had inched a little closer to something resembling normal human features, and yet was still distorted enough that it wasn’t anything like the telenovela star she had hoped to conjure into being. Its eyes were pale yellow and glazed with fury as it pulled her closer.

Her body broke out in a cold sweat, her heart hammering in her chest, but Zoe knew she couldn’t let herself fall apart now. Gritting her teeth, she made herself recall the words of the spell she’d dutifully repeated over and over just a few hours ago.

“To any spirits who threaten me in this place,
Fight water with water and fire with fire
Banish their souls into nothingness
Remove their powers to the last trace
Let these evil beings flee
Through time and space.”

The creature let out a howl, as if the words of the spell had hurt it somehow, but it did not let go of her. If anything, its grip increased, grinding the fragile bones of her wrist together. Zoe couldn’t help crying out in pain, even as she tried to ignore the throbbing in her limb. She had to stay focused, but….

Why hadn’t the spell worked? Uncle Jack had said it should work. Had she said it wrong?

Frantic, she began to babble her way through the words again, but just as she got to the word “banish,” the monster pulled her closer, then brought its distorted face down closer to hers.

Oh, God. It wasn’t…no, that wasn’t possible. This couldn’t be happening.

The thing was trying to kiss her.

Zoe screamed.

~~~

Make sure to check the home page of my website around October 11th-12th for all the information on where to get Strange Magic!

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