Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.
Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.
Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.
After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.
As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.
The air shifted, clouds tumbling in the sky. Out of nowhere, heavy mist blanketed them and quickly collected into droplets. Viktor backed from Anastasia, making way for a few students to jog between them, but he kept his eyes on her; she didn’t look away either. More kids scurried past with backpacks and blankets jostling in their arms. Sara and Finn trotted toward them.
A funnel of smoke billowed from the bonfire and, at the same time, a presence washed over Viktor; actually, it was more than one. He ripped his gaze from Anastasia to scan the area. Had someone detected his link with her? Had he been that stupid?
Energy bursts popped up all over the field, which could only mean one thing: Elementals were here, either for their own reasons or for hire; neither prospect could be good. Usually they were brought in to create diversions.
He darted a glance at Anastasia, now a few yards away. A force of hot and sticky energy slammed into them. Viktor stiffened to absorb the energy, but Anastasia’s body dropped to the craggy grass, spilling out the contents of her satchel.
Spurts of cranberry, amber, and ultramarine embers shrieked into the sky. Globs of ash and shards of wood littered the field. Students’ panic was the only music now playing in the air. Anastasia pushed to her knees, strands of hair crisscrossing her face. She coughed and gawked at the fire, horror infecting her eyes.
Viktor raced to her. As he kneeled by her side, her scream pierced him. “Can you see it?”
Her terror crimped a piece of his soul.
His eyes roved over a solid black hole of energy hovering near the flames, the tug fierce on his Rifter half knowing what he saw. Separate shadows and shades of energy fanned eel-like tails toward the sky. He’d never seen a compilation of energy that daring. The source could be anyone who dealt in energy from blood magick to witchcraft. But what had Anastasia seen?
The area lit up with sirens and blue lights brighter than the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
“I’ll get you out of here, Anastasia.”
“Not so fast, young man,” a voice of authority said.
Glancing up, Viktor saw a security guard in all the expected attire – useless sparkles of metal and a taser harnessed on his belt, which struggled to support his donut belly. A fancy uniform did not make a man. He wondered where they got these mall cops and opened his eyes, his pupils widening and flaring with lights. Having the ability to traipse around in the psyche of others, slipping them thoughts, did have its advantages on occasion. It took a lot out of Viktor, though.
The security guard dazed, turned around, and strolled away from them.
“Anastasia, take my hand,” Viktor said.
She gazed up at him like an innocent child wanting to know why. Surprisingly, she didn’t ask any questions. But the moment her hand slipped into his, it began.
About the Author
S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at www.salarsenbooks.com.