Halle Rhoads has a terrifying gift–she can kill with the fury of the storm.
She should have known that kind of power wouldn’t go unnoticed. Thrust into a world full of dark magic with a handsome stranger who claims he can teach her, she struggles to master her abilities and stumbles onto a dangerous truth. She’s a windwalker, the chosen vessel of the ancient dragons who once ruled the world. Many will stop at nothing to possess the power in her blood, should they discover her secret. With necromancers hunting her and Halle’s closest allies guarding secrets, mastering her magic becomes a matter of necessity.
But accepting her destiny is altogether different. For doing so means she must sacrifice everything.
” “Go ahead. Do it again,” he challenged. “If this is what it takes to get you to embrace who you are, then throw your best one at me, Halle.”
The surprise I’d felt seconds ago disappeared with his taunt. Indignation heated my cheeks. Where did he get off? It wasn’t like I was denying I had power all this time. I couldn’t control it. Still couldn’t. If I had any idea how, he’d be flat on his back immobile so I could get past him and unable to speak further.
Again, energy arced through my body. This time, the feeling was more natural. I opened my mind, allowing it freedom, and when it broke through my surface, I remained standing steadfast.
My hair curled around my face as a gust of wind filled the cavernous hallway. But before it could reach its mark, Kale braced one foot, uttered something I couldn’t hear over the roar, and once more, my magic dissipated. His clothing fluttered as if he’d stepped outside in no more than a gentle breeze.
“Screw you!” I blurted and strode forward, intent on shoving around him. “You’re not going to stop me. I’m going to find her!”
To my surprise, he stepped sideways and let me pass.
Quietly, his voice rang out behind me, a note of warning in his steely tone. “What are you going to do then?”
I kept walking, scanning the long hall for an off-shooting tunnel that carried the whisper of the outdoors. There was one here somewhere. We’d come in it earlier this week. It took double the time than the way I’d been going, but it was away from lying, secret-keeping, Kale.
“What are you going to do, Halle, when she tries to kill you?”
At that, I laughed. “She won’t kill me. She’s my mother.”
I snorted, not bothering to slow my pace. But though I’d never let him know his words got to me, a chill stole down my spine. That unease was tempered by the dark recess that caught my attention and marked the exit I’d been seeking. I headed directly for it.
“What are you going to do when your uncle tries this?”
As I took another step into the mouth of the adjoining corridor, anticipating leaving Kale’s taunts behind, I ran nose-first into something hard and unmoving. It repelled my like a bird flying into a clean windowpane, and I stumbled several steps backward, only to crash on my ass. I rubbed my smarting nose and stared at an invisible barrier, the dark depths of the dimly lit hallway as clear as they had been moments ago.
“What the hell?” Scrambling to my feet, I shot him a baleful glare. “Just leave me alone!”
“What are you going to do with this, Halle?”
Before the echo of his voice died away, the entire corridor went black. Not the sort of dim light that comes with nightfall. But the absolute nothingness of being trapped underground in the belly of a cave. No shadows, no hints of another presence. I lifted my hand, touched the tip of my nose, and still couldn’t see my fingers. Not even the faint outline.
In the next moment, the oppressive, sickeningly-sweet smell of decay permeated the air. It flooded my nose, made breathing next to impossible. My throat closed, gag reflex kicking in. With that came the churning of my stomach and something more—paralyzing fear. Voices whispered through the darkness, ghostly and full of menace. I didn’t know if they were real or products of my panicking mind. But the cold feel of perspiration spread over my skin, and the overwhelming urge to run possessed me. ”
Gust Post: Behind the Scenes – Writing Spaces
by Claire Ashgrove
Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for hosting me today and allowing me the opportunity to share my new Urban Fantasy release, Before the Storm!
I get asked a lot what my writing space is like. The short answer is: nothing special. I gave up the office space because it’s either too cold in winter or too hot in summer, and I relocated to my dining room table. Usually there’s a pile of stuff surrounding me – things that have been set down haphazardly and are awaiting a break in my schedule to be put properly away. It’s a table, a chair, a coffee cup close, and that’s as exciting as it gets.
But we all have dreams, and I dream of a fantastic writing space. If I could, I’d build a small cottage off the house. Stone, so it can trigger a historical feel. Of course all the windows would be salvaged from old houses as well. And definitely the door.
There would be a fireplace inside – so that whole too cold in winter isn’t a problem – or a wood burning stove. Yeah, let’s go with the wood burning stove, complete with an old-fashioned burner on top for some nice hot tea. Or coffee. The floor would be wood with some real plushy throw rugs.
Two rooms, I think. The writing space and sitting room, a bathroom. More like a studio apartment in a cottage-type building. Off the back, there’d be a screened-in porch and some wicker furniture. And a hanging glider/swing on one side wall.
My desk would sit on the southern side of the house, and it would be a comfortable table and equally comfortable chair. (I’ve grown fond of the table approach.) Beside it, however, would be a wall of shelves and filing cabinets. And behind the computer, through the wide windows, I could look upon the grazing horses.
There would be no phone.
But there would be a walkie talkie so the kids could scream at me when they decide to maul each other. Or demand food. The door would be locked. And the only other living beings allowed inside would be the dogs. My space. Laugh! In truth, after about a week, the isolation would probably get to me. I’d have to let the kids inside. But for those of you authors with children, (or you mom’s in general) surely you can understand the lure!
What about all of you? Do you have a space that’s just yours? Do you have a dream workshop or room for your business or hobby? I’d love to hear your answers below.
Kids, dogs, no privacy, and cluttered dining room table all put together — I had a lot of fun writing Before the Storm. I hope you’ll enjoy it just as much. And if you’re sitting on the fence uncertain, it’s currently available at an introductory rate of only .99 cents. No better time than now to give it a try!
Before I go, to celebrate Before the Storm’s release, I’m sponsoring a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon Gift Certificate, randomly chosen from commenters throughout the tour. And I have several opportunities over the next two weeks to win free copies and more gift certificates. To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the Before The Storm Tour Schedule!
About the Author & Links:
Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy–a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.
In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt. She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.