Curses & Ash
Author: Tiffany Daune
Series: Coral & Bone Series
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Jester Ink Press
Release Date: Jan 20 2016
Source: Author & RBTL Book Promotions for Blog Tour & Honest Opinion
Discover the spellbinding sequel to Coral & Bone…
A demented twin sister, a demon hijacking her powers, and a mysterious journal filled with more questions than answers—Halen needs her Guardian Dax more than ever. But if she confides in Dax, she fears he will never forgive her, not after all he sacrificed to help her vanquish Asair. Halen drowned Asair in a tornado of wings—at least, she thought she killed him. Why then does his mocking voice snake through her thoughts, enticing her to surrender her power? Maybe she screwed up—big time—but she will never allow Asair to control her magick. And when Etils' fires threaten the Earth, suspicions surrounding Asair's death rise, igniting restlessness within the realms. Her life in balance, Halen must race time, purge the demon's soul before flames consume the Earth or the Tari strike first.
Curses and Ash is book 2 of the Coral and Bone series. This book was so FULL of information it was nearly an overload, but it was so amazing! I am not the type of person to really like a book that has mermaids in it. They just aren't my subject of choice, but the way the author writes about them and has written this book it is completely captivating. This is such a unique book and story line, I can almost guarantee a reader has never read anything like it before. It has me completely hooked and needing the next book in the series.
This is a YA and though it does end on a cliff hanger a lot of the problems are resolved, we just have a whole bunch more to contend with. This is a safe book for kids 14 and up. And I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a crazy adventure that keeps a reader on their toes.
My rating system is different from Amazon where this is a 4☆. See rating chart to the right.
**** Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for Review from RBTL Book Promotions and the Author. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising". *****
Have your protagonist sit down with a fortune teller and give him/her a glimpse into their future.
**An RBTL Book Promotions original creative post topic**
This is great! I've never seen a blog post like this.
I see a young man on fire, his skin ravaged by the flames. He wants something from you, but you've lost it. Or wait, maybe you've hid it? There is another boy who also wants something from you, but his intentions are not quite clear. You want to trust him, maybe even love him, but your heart is torn. Be warned, his actions are not what they seem. You have great power, why then must you always give it away? Grasp your destiny. Claim what is yours…. Oh and try to avoid spicy food—it's wreaking havoc with your magick.
“Are you there?” Halen asked once more as she stepped out of the bathtub. She had asked this several times while showering, but Asair was silent. She feared she may have dismissed their only chance at saving the realms. Still, if he thought for one minute she would surrender her powers to him… Securing a towel around her chest, she then grabbed another and ran it over her damp hair, being careful to avoid the stitches along her ear where Tage had sewn a neat row. The cut from dodging a Hunter’s arrow had healed, but the thread remained. She tugged the suture thread while studying the bruise along her eyebrow. What had her life become? Insanity, madness and absurd popped into her thoughts. More like inconvenient, darling, Asair answered. She clutched the towel to her chest. “You are there. You’re listening to my thoughts!” You might want to answer with thoughts, so the others don’t try to commit you to an institution. Of course they may have to, once your mother is through with you. And yes, I can hear each and every one of your delicious thoughts. “That’s not right, you know?” Halen lowered her voice to almost a whisper. Listening to your thoughts or you going insane? “Neither one, dammit!” Her hand unwillingly swiped the steam from the mirror. Asair’s dark eyes shadowed her own. Look at you. His voice simmered through her mind. You’re letting them decide your fate once more. You’re better than that. You’re stronger. You’re the one who faced me, who lured me with your charm, sucked the life from my body. Not them. Her arm swung to the side, finger outstretched toward the door. Why do you let them decide what is best for you? Her heart tripped with fear knowing he had that much control over her body. She forced her arm down by her side. “Because what they want is best for me—for all of us. Why won’t you just release Etlis? The fires will destroy everything; there will be nothing left to rule. What would Elizabeth have wanted? She was your Guardian. What would she think of what you have done?” He snorted and her stomach filled with the roll of laughter. I suppose she would think I was a monster. Halen could almost see the coy smile playing on his lips. “You don’t have to be a monster.” Ah, but I am, darling; that’s what the Tari turn us into. Blue moon sirens don’t belong in any realm. We’re an abomination. Have you had a good look at yourself lately? She wouldn’t accept his challenge. “I make my own choices.” Really? Did you always dream of being an assassin? She swallowed hard. He was right, and she hated herself more. The Tari used her as their weapon. She braced her hands on the counter as her mind filled with the Tari’s sickening plot. Without even considering the consequences, she willingly unleashed her magick at their command, leaving her with the wreckage of guilt. How could she have given so much of herself? That’s right, darling. They convinced you I was a demon and you believed them. When you held my lifeless body, I felt very little remorse inside you. Guilt, yes, for what you had done, but you were relieved when you thought I was dead. “How should I have felt?” Her voice came out with a hiss. “You taunted me! You lured me into your bedroom and then attacked me! I had to defend myself.” She shook her head. “You of all people should have known, once I unleashed my magick, I couldn’t turn back.” “Halen, the food is here!” Dax shouted from the other side of the door. She jumped, clutching the towel tighter, and shifted the conversation to her thoughts. I have a Guardian, don’t forget. Dax knocked three times. Yes, that is unfortunate. I have a plan for him. Don’t touch him! She slammed her free fist on the counter. “Are you all right in there?” Dax’s voice rose. Best to keep our conversation a secret. I can trust Dax. Can you now, darling? “Halen?” Dax’s knock turned to heavy pounding. “I’m good. I’ll be out in minute.” When she caught her reflection, she half expected Asair to be staring back, but he was gone. For now, anyway. She rubbed the bruise around her eye once more. Hoping for a little concealer, she scanned the counter and then the bag Dax had brought her—nothing. Who needed makeup when the world was ending anyway? Not sure if Asair could see her or not, she grabbed the bag, hopped back in the shower, and pulled the curtain to change. She quickly towel-dried her hair while Asair’s words lingered in her mind. Of course she could trust Dax. Asair was playing another one of his games. Well, this time she wasn’t falling for his tricks. She pulled on the tank top and shorts, followed by the yoga pants. She hesitated, staring at the outrageous pink T-shirt. Whatever. At least she had clothes. She yanked it over her head and stepped out of the shower. Dax’s pounding grew louder. When she opened the door, he all but shouted at her. “You can’t do that! I need to know what’s going on with you at all times.” “Relax.” She patted his chest and ducked under his arm. His hovering not only made her more claustrophobic, but with him looming over her, she also had to be extra cautious in guarding her secret. She would tell him about Asair if she had to, but first she needed to speak to her mom. If her mom could purge Asair, then Dax wouldn’t need to know the truth. She followed the scent of delicious greasy french fries into the other room. Tage and Ezra hovered over the cart, shoveling food in their mouths. “Care to join us at the apocalypse buffet?” Ezra waved his hand over the cart. Tage elbowed him. Halen snagged a french fry off one of the plates. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flickering orange glow. At once she dropped the fry. Waving her hand, she aimed. Dax caught her wrist mid-swing. “Tage’s spell.” He lowered her arm. A rock spire jutted from the center of the glass coffee table; the fiery glow cast shadows along the wall. “I thought it was a fire. Sorry, I almost put out the protection spell.” Tage’s gaze shot to the table and then to Dax. She nibbled her bagel without saying a word. “Why don’t you eat?” Dax stepped beside her. Okay, definitely weird vibes were coming off the two of them. Normally, she would pry, but her secret was bigger; the less she pushed Tage, the better. “Any word from my mom or your dad?” she asked Dax. “No, not yet. No news is good news—right?” “Definitely.” Ezra dipped several fries in ketchup. “Because the news sucks big-time right now.” He nodded toward the television, where Richard the news anchor still sat behind his desk, stiff as a mannequin. Halen turned her attention back to the cart. She lifted one of the silver lids covering the plates. She frowned at the mountain of leafy green lettuce topped with roasted chicken chunks. “You’ve got to be kidding. Ezra gets a burger and fries, Tage bagels, and you ordered me low carb? Gee thanks.” Dax’s lopsided grin widened as he removed the silver dome from the last plate. A tower of french fries toppled to the edges of the plate. “Double order, milady. The salad is for me.” “Thank you!” She grabbed the fries, stuffing two in her mouth at once. She slurped back a big sip of her shake, watching as Richard spoke with some guy outfitted in a flak jacket, camouflage pants, and combat boots. “Take the mute off.” Burger in hand, Ezra hit the remote with his pinky finger. “If you are just joining us, we have been speaking with Boyce Redding, well-known prepper and survivalist. Mr. Redding is Skyping us from his underground bunker where he and his family have been sealed off since the first reported ring of fire. Can you hear us, Mr. Redding?” “Yes, Richard, I can hear you just fine.” He rapped on the side of the green structure. “End of the world-proof and I still have Wi-Fi.” Richard cleared his throat. “So in your opinion, is this the end?” Mr. Redding removed his ball cap and held it over his chest. The camera zoomed into his face. “I pity the fool who didn’t prepare.” Dead air hit the studio. No amount of bronzer could hide Richard’s fear. “I bet Richard wishes he had a bed in that bunker,” Ezra said. “Maybe we should all cozy up with that hillbilly.” “Turn it off!” Tage marched to the television and pressed the power button. “How can they even let that paranoid doofus on TV? I mean, come on…” Halen dropped her fries and shoved the plate away. “I’m not hungry anymore.” Tage shoved it back. “News is only meant to scare people. Eat. I know food triggers emotions in you. It’s a siren thing. And if I remember correctly, this plate of greasy potatoes is going to put a little bit of happy into you. And trust me, we need all the happy we can get.” Halen shook her head. She could fry all the potatoes in Idaho and happy would still be a long ways away. Ezra waved a fry under her nose. “How can you ignore advice from the Goth Mary Poppins?” Dax’s cell phone rang once more and he answered it before the next beat. He nodded, mumbled, and then shook his head. “What is it?” Halen asked, though judging from his sudden tensed posture, she knew it wasn’t good. “They’re on foot. My dad had to ditch the car. The police barricaded the city due to the fires in the Bay. No one’s getting in; it’s almost as if the entire city is under a restriction spell.” His gaze slid toward Tage. “What’s a restriction spell?” Halen asked. “Nothing that concerns us.” Tage stuffed more bagel in her mouth, preventing her from saying more. Halen turned her attention back toward Dax. “So where are they now?” “Well, that’s the interesting part.” He went to the window, turned the latch and pushed it open. At once, the charred stench of a melting city drenched the room. “Close it!” Ezra buried his nose in his sleeve. “One minute.” Dax stuck his arm out the window and waved. Halen thought he had gone off the deep end, when to her amazement a pair of ruddy brown wings attached to a very small bird fluttered before them, and then perched on the tip of Dax’s finger. Quickly, he brought the wren inside and shut the window. The bird flitted around the hotel suites, darting in and out between the two. When the wren completed its check, the bird flapped its wings so vigorously, Halen thought the little wren might explode. Suddenly, the bird morphed into the body of a slight girl. “Lina!” Halen smiled. Lina and her brother Tasar protected her from a Hunter, her magick was deadly and that was exactly what kind of power they needed right now. Lina plucked a feather from the corner of her eye and coughed. Halen handed her a glass of water from the cart. “The smoke,” she wheezed. “I probably should avoid flying. I need a few minutes to adjust.” “Where are the others?” Dax asked. She held up her hand, still coated with fluffy down feathers. Her newly cut copper hair fell to her chin. Without her veil of long hair draping her shoulders, her milky bare flesh drew everyone’s gaze to the floor. Tage riffled through her backpack, then yanked out a pair of white pajamas. “You can put these on.” She nodded toward the bathroom. Lina scooped the clothes against her chest. “Thank you. I’ll be back in a moment.” When the bathroom door shut, Ezra snorted. “So hot.” Tage punched his arm. “What?” He shrugged. “Way better than my nude appearance.” Halen’s brow scrunched. “Care to explain?” “It’s best not to know,” Dax said at her back. “Those two have their own language.” “You’re right.” She turned to face him. He clutched the cell phone in one hand, his other hand balled into a fist. “I’m sure they’re okay.” She glanced out the window, not believing her own words. “Where are they?” Lina emerged from the bathroom. The pajamas, rolled at the hems, draped her small frame. Her features were sharp with her hair slicked back, as her severe gaze scanned the room. “How far away are the others?” Dax asked. “They’re a few blocks north. My brother put on quite the show. I hope he doesn’t get himself tranquilized or a bullet in the butt.” “What do you mean?” Halen asked. “I hope he’s not using his body as a shield again. That didn’t go so well the last time.” She would never forget how he had saved her from a Hunter’s arrow. He barely knew her, and he believed in her magick even before she did. Lina rerolled the hem of her fallen sleeve. “The police wouldn’t let us through the barricades so Tasar shifted.” “In front of everyone?” Ezra’s jaw dropped. “Well, why not?” Lina shrugged. “Dragon wings are beating the sky, the ocean is on fire—a bear in traffic won’t make the news.” Dax illuminated the screen on his cell phone. “I should wait for them in the lobby.” “No, you can’t!” Tage glanced toward the glowing stone. Lina followed her gaze. “You’ve locked yourselves inside—why?” Tage gnawed her fingernails. “Tage?” Halen stepped toward the coffee table. “What is Lina talking about?” She slumped down in the chair. “I couldn’t take the chance Asair was in you.” Lina’s shoulders rolled back; she sprang to the balls of her feet. “He’s here? Is that why the flames still burn?” “No!” Halen stepped back. It would be easy for Lina to slit her throat and vanquish Asair’s soul. Halen was no match for her magick. Lina had easily turned the Hunter to stone without hesitation. Why had Tage blurted her suspicions? What kind of friend was she? Halen had to turn this around. Be convincing, she told herself—or was that Asair’s voice in the back of her mind? “I can’t believe you, Tage! Why don’t you trust me? I trust you!” She stood in front of Tage. Her heart beat with a frantic rhythm as Lina watched her every move. “After all we’ve been through, you think I’m lying? Some friend you are.” “We need to be careful. What if Asair deceived you?” Tage’s voice was small. If Tage only knew how right she was; still, Halen couldn’t back down. “Remove the spell! We’re on the same side here. I want the flames to stop just as much as you do.” Tage didn’t budge. “Tage—remove the spell!” Halen leaned over the chair, placing her hands on the armrests. “Why?” Tage crossed her arms. “Why not?” She wasn’t getting anywhere with her. Tage was stubborn, but this was ridiculous. She stepped away, shaking her head. “Why won’t you believe me?” “See. That’s exactly why I did it.” Tage pointed at the glowing rocks. “The Halen I know wouldn’t care if we were locked inside. Asair, on the other hand, would want to get away before your mom had time to purge him.” Her tone softened. “Just consider it, Halen.” The glowing rocks set her on edge, and she suddenly felt the urge to blow the door right off the hinges and run. Surrounded by people who wanted to help her, why, then, did she feel like the hunted? “We need to bring the others here safely; then we can discuss this further.” Lina broke her train of thought. “I wasn’t here when the spell was cast. I’ll meet them in the lobby.” She opened the door as the cell phone rang. Dax spoke and walked to the window once more, and this time Halen followed. Alarms screamed and red lights flashed between clouds of smoke; the glow of flames from the Bay illuminated the sky. Below, a husky bear galloped with Daspar and Corinne by his side. Daspar ran with his arm outstretched; a neon blue streak emanated from his palm and the crowds parted, allowing them a clear passage. “Room 2311.” Dax ended the call. “Well, that’s something you don’t see every day,” Ezra said. “I forget what every day looks like.” Halen hadn’t seen a normal average day in quite some time. If she woke to find a stack of books, warm toast, and cup of tea by her bed, she would find that kind of normal abnormal in her world now. Dax placed his hand on her shoulder. She rested her cheek on his fingertips. His energy warmed her through to her bones. When she glanced up, his lips quirked with a half-smile. “We’ll get you out of here,” he said. “I promise.” She knew he would try. What she feared was what she might have to do to escape. Dax may be used to a life where people lost their lives for the cause, but she wouldn’t live like that. There had to be another way. She lifted her head and smiled back. “I know you’ll do your best.” Rapid knocking on the door sent Lina rushing to open it. When Halen’s mom stepped inside, she brushed past Lina. Halen ran to her, wrapping her arms around her so tightly as if she were a life raft in the wake of a storm. “Mom!” She buried her face in her mom’s dark hair. She smelled of nights sitting around a campfire, pulling Halen back in time before all the chaos and the ruin that came with her true destiny—before she knew she was a siren. “Thank heavens you’re all right.” Her mom squeezed her. Glancing over her mom’s shoulder, Halen smiled at Daspar. His normally youthful face was drawn. Lines sprouted across his forehead, where soot settled in the creases. Dark rings shadowed his blue eyes; he winced when he smiled. “Hey, kiddo.” He stumbled into the room with Tasar by his side. Though Tasar had transformed back into a young man, curly rust-colored fur still coated his body. He rubbed Halen on the top of her head as he passed. “You’re looking good, girl.” He hooked his nail through the cord fastened around her neck and eyed the oval stone. “Glad to see you still have this.” “I wouldn’t dream of taking it off.” He had given her the stone in the church, as a way of thanking her for saving his life. She only wished she were able break the curse that would allow Tasar and Lina to return home. When her mom nudged him, he dropped the necklace back on her chest. She then guided Halen out of the way so she could shut the door and secure the chain. “I know it’s silly.” She shrugged. “Habit, I guess.” Halen smiled, knowing the chain would be useless against a Hunter, but she loved her mom all the same for wanting to keep her safe. “Remove that spell at once!” Halen’s attention snapped to Daspar. “We have Hunters on our backs. You don’t want to be stuck in here.” Tage opened her mouth to speak, but Daspar cut her off. “Now!” Tage’s shoulders slumped as he passed her by. Halen didn’t get it. Daspar was her godfather. He’d trained Tage in spells and recruited her as Halen’s fake Guardian. Tage had done everything he had asked and almost lost her life doing so. He didn’t even give her a hug. Without protest, Tage knelt, chanting the words to remove the spell. Dax strode over to his father. He wrapped his arms around him. Daspar patted him heartily on the back as Tage eyed them from beneath her dark lashes. “It’s good to see you, son,” Daspar said. “And you.” Dax stood back. From his jacket pocket, Daspar pulled out a small vial, which Halen recognized right away. The smoky contents faded from violet to bluish green, transitioning through to a jaundiced yellow—the Hunter Otho’s soul. Dax rubbed his arm. Two welled lines crossed on his forearm, where Otho had marked him. If his soul was ever released from the vial and he found a host, the Hunter would have control of Dax once more. He placed the vial in Dax’s hand, not letting go. “The Hunters are coming for us. If they believe Corinne and I still have Otho’s soul, we can distract them while you get to safer ground.” He turned his attention toward Lina. “Can you make a portal from here?” She placed both hands on her hips and tilted her chin toward the ceiling. “Not there,” she said under her breath. She stomped the floor with her heel, then crossed over to the window. “What happened here?” “A dragon cracked the glass,” Ezra said. Since the shifters arrived, he hadn’t said much. Halen knew he never quite trusted Tasar and Lina, though he made his peace back at the church. Lina’s long, thin eyebrows arched high. “Perfect.” Placing her hands on the window, she blew out. The glass rippled with her breath. “This will work.” “We can’t separate again.” Halen gripped her mom’s arm. “Come with us. Besides, if we take the Hunter’s soul, they’ll follow. There’s no reason for you to stay here.” Her mom placed her hand over Halen’s. Her dark eyes narrowed. “When we find a way to stop the fires, go to Etlis. I will find you.” Asair knew how to stop the fires. All she had to do was surrender. Nevertheless, there was no guarantee he would free Etlis. “What if there isn’t a way? What if the fires continue to burn?” “We’ll find a way,” Daspar said. “We were just on the wrong path. All these years, we thought Asair’s death was the key, but now we know that’s not the case.” “I don’t think he’s dead,” Tage said. Halen shrank back, shooting her a dagger death-ray glare. “What do you mean?” Daspar’s eyebrow rose on one side. “Tage thinks Asair’s soul is inside Halen, same as Pura’s soul is inside your body,” Dax said. “Is this true?” Daspar’s voice held an inflection of hope. Her mom nudged her back, ever so slightly away from Daspar. Did she believe he would harm her? “I’m not feeling anyone else,” Dax said. “I’m not feeling anything from her,” Tage blurted. “It’s like her emotions are turned off. That’s not natural.” “And do you feel him?” Daspar asked Halen. Halen shook her head. “I have flashbacks of his memories. It’s like I’m seeing his life through his eyes.” “That’s normal.” Lina too stepped in front of Halen. No one felt Halen’s emotions, but she sure sensed everyone else’s. The tension was a tautly strung wire ready to snap at any moment. “She entered his seam.” Lina shrugged. “She’s bound to have residual memories. We can fix this in Etlis.” The outer corners of Daspar’s eyes sprouted with lines as he studied her. He had Dax’s same haunting stare, the fiery stare that melted away self-confidence. Lina reached back, soft green light emanating from the center of her palm, jumping with static energy. Halen’s senses awoke with tingly fear. What was Lina up to? Was she preparing to strike? And at whom—Daspar? They were all on the same side here. “Corinne, perform the test.” Daspar’s stern tone alarmed Halen. “I don’t think that’s necessary.” Her mom’s smile was tight. “I’m sure Halen would know. Remember how sick you were when Pura entered your body? It took you months to adjust to her memories while they merged with yours, and then when her soul took root, you vomited for days. You couldn’t even get out of bed.” “I was human. My lungs, my blood, my heart, even my brain changed. Halen is a siren already. Do the test.” Halen looked at Tage, ready to ream her out for tattling, but her head was down-turned. Ezra sat silent by her side with his hand on her shoulder. “None of this is necessary,” Tasar said. “We all know Halen killed Asair.” He nodded toward Lina. The green glow in her palm spun to turquoise. “It’s all right.” Corinne touched Lina’s shoulder. “I’ll perform the test.” Lina’s hand balled and the glow extinguished. She stepped aside, leaving Halen in the open. Her mom couldn’t perform a test in front of everyone! What would they do to her when they found out? “Mom, I’m fine. I don’t need a test.” Her gaze drifted to Daspar. His jaw was tight, his arms crossed. “Mom, really.” Without saying a word, her mom grasped her by the back of the neck, yanking her forward. Her hot palm sent a chill down Halen’s spine. She squirmed, trying to break free. “Be still.” Her mom’s fingers curled on her neck. “Mom, I—” “Shh.” She all but hissed. Then with her free hand, she wedged her thumb and index finger against Halen’s left eyelid, prying it open so she couldn’t blink. Halen’s eye watered. With the tip of her nail, her mom scraped out a tear. When she let go, Halen rubbed her eye and then the back of her neck where she was sure her mom’s nails had left an impression. Heat flushed her cheeks as everyone watched her mom bring the tear to her tongue, her back to the room, so only Halen saw the shock flicker in her eyes when she tasted the tear. She had seen the same stricken look in her mother’s eyes when Halen was nine—after she set their beach house on fire. Her mom no longer looked at her as a daughter, but as something to fear. Corinne licked the tear away and her lips puckered, as if fighting back her own tears, but when she turned toward Daspar a soft smile played on her lips. She reached back, gripping Halen’s hand, so hard her nails pressed into her wrist. “There’s no sign of another soul. She’s telling the truth.” Halen’s frantic heartbeat thrummed in her ears. If her mom was lying to Daspar, the one person who had always been there for them, then the truth was as dangerous as she had thought. “I’m sorry, Halen,” Tage said. “I just wanted to make sure.” Corinne turned to Lina. “We need to get them out of here before the Hunters come. How fast can you make the portal?” “I’ll start now,” Lina said. “Good.” Her mom grabbed Halen’s elbow. “I think I may have scratched you a little. Let me have a look in better light. I can also remove the stitches from your ear. You don’t want a scar to form over the thread.” “Mom, I’m fine.” Her mom’s death grip tightened. “Always so stubborn.” She shoved Halen into the other room, pushed her past the bed, and into the bathroom. She shut the door behind them, secured the lock, and then turned on the tap full force. “You have to listen to me.” Her mom’s words were rushed, her voice low. “You know—don’t you?” “You were smart to keep this to yourself.” “You’re sure he’s inside me?” Halen already knew the answer, but to have confirmation made it seem that much worse. “I don’t feel him all the time.” “Your tears are sour, which means your body is fighting his soul.” She glanced back at the door. “Think of him like a virus; at first undetectable, you feel a little off but there are no real symptoms, yet your body knows. Your emotional memory will fight a merge because you tried to kill him. You have to accept him or purge him. You will not be able to coexist. Has he spoken to you?” Halen nodded. “A few times.” “Then he’s aware. Sometimes a transferred soul takes time to realize they are in another body. They can lay dormant for years, without the host waking them.” “You can purge him though, right?” Her mom leaned against the counter, tilted her head back, and closed her eyes. “Mom? You have to get him out!” Her words were shrill. Corinne slapped her hand over Halen’s mouth. “I can’t do anything. This is beyond my capabilities as an Earth Priestess, but there is one who can help you.” She dropped her hand by her side. “Who?” “Her name is Jae. She’s an Etlin—a very powerful shifter.” “Then take me to her. I want him out.” “She lives in London. You need to find her on your own. She will know what to do.” “What? I can’t go to London. How am I supposed to do that?” Her voice rose and then she lowered it once more. “This is ridiculous. Take him out of me!” “It’s too dangerous. The separation would leave you a shell of your former self. If he’s clinging to you, then he could drag a part of your soul out with him. I can’t perform a task of this magnitude.” She glanced in the mirror; her mom turned to face her. They shared the same dark hair, but nothing more. Halen had her Elosian father’s heart-shaped face and bright green eyes, but she had her mom’s strength. Being a single parent was hard enough without having to move every few months, run from the Hunters, while also having to suppress her daughter’s magick. Her mom stuck by her no matter what, even now with the world burning around them. “I’m strong, mom. Take him out—at least try.” “You are the strongest person I know, but I can’t do this. Find Jae. She knows about these things.” Her mom turned so she could connect with more than Halen’s reflection. “Keep this a secret. Don’t tell anyone he’s inside you. Do you understand? You must find Jae on your own.” “Dax can help. He thinks Asair is dead. He trusts me.” “Trust no one. Place your trust in your instincts. They will guide you to her.” “This doesn’t make sense.” Halen rubbed her forehead. “I’m lost. I thought you wanted me to trust Dax. I placed my life in his hands. I think he would help if he knew the truth. Any of them would, Tage, Ezra…” “I don’t have time to explain. You need to get out of this hotel before the Hunters arrive.” “I want you to come with me. You’re the only one who knows the truth.” “I can’t. Already, there are those who don’t believe Asair is dead. I need to spread the word, and tell them I performed the test.” She leaned back on the counter and released a heavy sigh. “I shouldn’t be letting you go.” “Why are you then? Why did you lie to Daspar?” She shook her head. “I haven’t been the best mother. I’ve been a horrible mother, but I love you, Halen.” “I love you too, and really, you’ve been an amazing mom.” Corrine laughed. “Mothers don’t lie to their children.” “They do if they are trying to protect them.” “Thank you for seeing it that way.” She brushed Halen’s cheek. “You are more than I ever could have asked for in a daughter.” Halen held her mom’s hand against her cheek. “I won’t let you down. I’ll find Jae, but you have to promise me one thing…” “Anything.” “In ten days, if I don’t find her, you find me.” Halen swallowed back her fear. She wasn’t giving in to Asair. If Jae didn’t have a solution, there was only one way to stop the fires. “Asair can’t live if he doesn’t have a host. Bring Tasar and Lina and we end this.” Her eyes creased in the corners as if fighting back tears. “That won’t be necessary.” “We both know what will happen if Asair takes control of my powers. I refuse to be a slave to him. You have to promise you’ll end this.” Her mom rolled her shoulders back and unlocked the bathroom door. She opened it and stepped out. “Mom? I need to hear you say it.” Without glancing back, her mom spoke, “I will do what needs to be done.”
Check Out The First 2 Chapters at the Following Stops
Becka Marsch Chapter 1
Fabulous and Fun Chapter 2
“We’ll leave for Etlis in a day or two. You’re not ready to travel.”
Dax leaned his back against the doorframe; his stormy blue gaze slipped over Halen, studying her as if searching for the lies she was hiding.
How much did he see? Panic rushed through Halen. Had he witnessed the shift in her eyes as they blurred over with Asair’s cocky stare? Could he see her demon passenger now?
“Are you sure you can handle a shower on your own?” He crossed his arms, the silver band of his Guardian bracelet hidden against his heart. “Tage is just in the other suite. She wouldn’t mind helping.”
“No!” Her voice rose a little too loudly for the cramped hotel bathroom. The last thing she needed was an Empath digging through her emotions. If she had screwed up and really hadn’t killed Asair, but instead swallowed his soul, then no one could find out. After all her friends sacrificed, they would never forgive her. “I don’t need Tage.”
She worked a smile to her face.
“Okay, but all you have to do is ask.” His unwavering gaze never left hers. He was suspicious, or maybe just worried; she couldn’t quite tell, but his energy flashed like streaks of lightning in a summer sky.
“I’m just having a shower.” She snatched a bar of miniature soap from the counter and inhaled the citrus scent. Act normal. She peered up at Dax. “I’m sure I can handle this.” She smiled broader, even though her pulse raced with fear at the thought of being alone with
Asair. She wriggled off the chill pinching the back of her neck. Within seconds of passing through his dimension, Asair shredded her confidence with a simple smile, quickly turning her into his captured prey.
If not for Dax, she would still yearn for Asair’s twisted touch; her soul would be as dark as death’s shadow. She owed Dax an explanation.
She should at least tell him what she saw in the mirror. Thought I saw, she corrected. She glanced toward the mirror where only moments before, Asair’s jade gaze seared through hers. Etlis is still mine. His whispery voice consumed her like a tornado whipping up its victims.
But if he were alive, then why did guilt still tear at her insides? The memory of his corpse pressed her memories; she rubbed the crook of her arm, still able to feel the weight of his death.
Tiffany Daune writes stories about magick, love and dark creatures lurking in the shadows. She is the author of Surface and the Coral & Bone series. When she's not lost in Editland, you can find her reading a book from her towering TBR pile or kicking back and watching movies with her family. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by mermaids that are much nicer than the ones found in her books.
Other Works by Tiffany Daune
Coral & Bone Series
Coral & Bone (Book 1)
Curses & Ash (Book 2)