This is the last one I’ll
at the man lying prone at her feet and sighed. Exhaustion weighted her
limbs. She lifted her hand to his head and pressed lightly on his blond
hair, steeling herself for the expected burst of current. The initial charge
was slightly uncomfortable. Lately, though, the discomfort had increased to
the point of pain.
After eleven years of healing people infected by the evil of the Umbrae, she
ought to be used to the strain it put on her. She wasn’t. Or to the effect
being half goddess, half witch, and mostly human had on her life.
Or rather, my lack of a life.
man’s body lurched and shook as she utilized her power
pull the blackness from his heart and mind and soul. Cloudy, murky matter
twisted out of him from three of his chakras: the crown, the heart, and the
groaned and writhed, saliva dripping down his chin. Heat arched through
Aurora’s body, accompanied by a quick but biting
lance of pain. She gritted her teeth and shot another blast of energy into
the man. A moment later he coughed, sputtered, and went still. She pulled
her hand from the man’s head. It was done. She’d reclaimed another Finder.
are you okay? Can I get you anything?”
gulped air and willed her heartbeat to slow, then turned toward the voice.
Her mother stood a few feet away, hovering in the doorway of the hotel room,
her short dark hair disheveled as though she’d run nervous hands through it
more than once that day.
mother, Laurell, had not been happy about this particular Field Trip, the
term Aurora had coined for her travels to different parts of the country
battle the Umbrae.
members of her coven, Hidden Circle, took turns accompanying
her. They went wherever their resident psychic, Dawna, and their empath, Wayne, detected the most
dark activity, the areas where the demonic Umbrae had been most active in
sighed and stared at her mother. The woman had been a bundle of nerves ever
since they’d arrived in Tampa that morning.
I get you anything?” her mother asked again, her gaze awash with concern.
“Would you like some water?”
“Water,” Aurora whispered with a frown. She’d felt the
effects of this reclaiming more acutely than was usual.
“That would be great.”
mother nodded and started toward the bathroom. The sound of water running
followed by a grunt of disgust echoed off the bathroom walls.
you don’t want to drink this water. It stinks. I saw a vending machine down
the hall.” She disappeared out the door.
glanced around the run-down motel room they’d chosen for its cheap rate, and
more importantly, its remoteness. No sense putting innocent bystanders in
sharp rap sounded at the door, and she hurried over to open it. A tall, wiry
man stood on the other side. He scratched his five-o’clock shadow,
are you okay in here?” the man asked.
lips twisted wryly. She must really look like crap. She glanced toward the
mirror at the end of the bed. Her stomach twisted. Did they know? Did her
man at Aurora’s feet stirred and mumbled something
unintelligible. With a sigh, Aurora
reached down and touched his cheek, stilling his movements.
fine, Wayne. Mom went to get water.” She motioned
toward the man on the floor. “We need to get this one out of here before he
wakes up looking for an explanation.”
stepped into the room. “I’m on it.”
scooped the man up with a grunt, amazing Aurora, as usual, with a strength
that belied his sixty something years.
started toward the door, dragging the man with him. “You should pack while
I’m gone, though. I’m sensing something weird around here.”
“Weird how?” Aurora asked.
shrugged. “Bad, but not Umbrae. I don’t know how to explain it. But I don’t
think we should hang around ta figure it out.”
paused in the doorway, glancing left to right, no doubt to make sure no
other guests were about. Fortunately, the dump of a motel was pretty empty.
No one else wants to camp with
man he held suddenly came to life. His eyes popped open, and he blinked
rapidly, struggling to focus.
“Where am I?” the man asked.
“You’re in wonderland, Alice,” Wayne quipped, yanking the man to his feet
the door shut behind them.
Their footsteps echoed on the concrete walkway, fading as they moved
farther away from the room.
stood from the bed and glanced briefly again at the mirror. She frowned. Her
eyes still held the slightest tint of blackness, the color they turned when
she utilized her power. She blinked, and her eyes flashed silver once more.
bit her lip and started packing. She hated to leave without reclaiming more
people. But if Wayne said trouble was brewing, she knew
better than to question him. No one picked up the dark energy of the Umbrae
like he did.
besides, her tattoo had been itching and burning all morning.
turned and glanced over her shoulder at her reflection in the mirror.
open back of her halter top bared her left shoulder so that the yellow,
blue, and red lines of the tattoo were clearly visible. A sun and a moon
mating. She’d gotten the tattoo to cover up a large, unusual birthmark. Not
that the mark had actually been there since birth, but she didn’t know what
else to call it.
time, a form had etched itself into her skin, becoming clearer with each
year until an almost perfectly shaped half moon merging into a sun had
She’d been self-conscious about the birthmark, so she’d decided to get
herself a tattoo.
Recently she’d been experiencing strange sensations in the skin beneath the
tattoo whenever danger lurked nearby. Her own personal warning signal. A
warning signal that was suddenly burning her skin something furious.