Flash Fiction – The Girl, The Undead, and the Grounds Keeper (Pt1)

"Stormy Weather" by Picolo Kun

“Stormy Weather” by Picolo Kun (Deviant Art)

Flash Fiction – The Girl, the Undead, and the Grounds Keeper (Part 1)

Once there was a young woman who woke up in darkness. She rubbed her eyes, felt around, and her fingertips found softness, like that of a stuff animal clung tight in the night. The air was dark, warm, but a chill spread across her skin, and her nightgown was damp with sweat.

Her nights consisted of whispers to the ghosts and the dead and the near dead. The young woman was none of these things, yet she, in her youth and innocence, the same way that new skin bounces back fast, allowed her–no, cursed her–to see and hear these things. Her walls were void of pictures or drawings. She worried that if the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead found them, they could claim her items as their own, and the girl didn’t have much. Just her mind, her memories, and fond wishes of a different life. Just a sliver of hope, of life, of a different door chosen.

She rarely let these things get to her, but tonight, a different kind of whisper gently spoke in her ear.

It offered her kindness. Release. And the young woman was tempted, but she knew otherwise for other whispers had come to her in the night–always the night–with their cherished words. Words that drowned her fears, echoed her dreams, and reverberated her wants and desires. On this night, she clutched her familiar teddy bear, begging it for strength and assistance, and though none never came, she still felt better. “Demand of yourself, not of others,” her grandmother used to tell her, and in this warm, dark windless night she remembered those words. Then she added a few words of her own, “Guard your soul, girl, and better yet, guard your heart” because the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead could be seductive, and this voice–this whisper in particular–was extremely seductive.

The whisper was a caress, a soft embrace, that made her body glow. It made her want things she shouldn’t want. She was tired of her bland–and blank–room, of her life, and, at times, fancied herself in love with a young man, seen from a far, the grounds keeper. Love that faded, it was never real, and it was swept away from her by the ghosts. The ghosts loved the memories of those faded lovers. The blue eyes, the brown ones, the ones with flecks of gold and green, like leaves turning in autumn. It feasted and feasted, never satisfied, so when the new whisper granted a reprieve, the young woman jumped from her bed, her feet hitting cold stone, demanding, “Who are you? What do you want?”

“I am lost,” the whisper whispered to her, it’s tone low, earthy, and filled with water-like vibrato, as if an entire carnival lived inside its voice. The young woman wanted to live in that voice. Whole. Committed. Deep and long, and forever.

This voice enchanted her, though on her guard, she swayed ever-so-slightly into it, but, also close by, a near dead voice, which lingered near her bed, warned her: “Don’t be fooled by the glitter. I, once, was fooled, and look at me.” The near dead voice was that of a man, old, but he had a voice held together with knowledge, spirit, and grit. His tone was louder since he wasn’t exactly dead, but not quite of the living, so the near dead’s voice was thick, but gurgling, as if drowning.

“Don’t speak of me of glitter,” the young woman chastised. “Why should I listen to you, a near dead?”

“Because I am still part mortal, and I know what the sins of the flesh can do to the mind of a young woman on the verge of a bad decision.”

The caressing whisper that caused her glow chuckled, low, and deep in her chest. It glided its fingertips over her beating heart, strong and healthy, and it demanded payment–a purchase–and suddenly the young woman was scared when it said, “I am more than glitter. I am older than gold. I am stronger than the wind. I know your dreams because I am the one who created them.” Then, turning to the near dead whisper, it said, “Cease, you fool.”

And the near dead whisper vanished into the ether.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she asked the caressing voice when they were alone. She figured it was a strong being. “Why are you lost?”

Shadows played across her bedroom, the moon moving as slow as a snail across the ebony blackboard that showed through her small porthole. It reminded her of her youth, when her grandmother was alive, and she would talk about the origins of the stars and the creator of the ebony painted sky.

“I am your hurt,” the gentle whisper said in return. “Your door was open, so I have come to live in your heart, and heal you.”

“Nonsense,” she replied, but she looked to her left, and indeed: the door was open. “I live in this room of my own free will, just as my grandmother did, guarding the moors and the spirits who inhabit it. I am lonely, but not hurt.”

Near the window a growling voice interrupted. “Don’t listen to the trickster, girl, he will eat your soul, and feast upon your dreams. Then, he will consume the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead. I’ve seen it happen.”

“Oh, poo,” she told the voice of the dead, now more comfortable with the caressing whisper hugging her heart. “You are cold, and dead, what do you know of souls and feasting?”

The dead voice echoed around her, and around the caressing whisper, which shuddered against her heart, “Your heart and soul are not so innocent, little one,” the growling voice answered in an unaffected way. “Even now he consumes you; he gnaws on the edges of reason, of sanity, like the tiny tears trickling down your cheeks.”

The young woman pressed a fingertip to her face, and felt the small trail of wetness. Why was she crying? Granted, the near dead whisper, and the dead whisper confronted her, but that was normal. She knew their voices as much as she knew her own. How had she forgotten so soon? How is it that when the caressing whisper came into her life, she no longer recalled her grandmother’s warnings.

Warnings of coldness, of wanting more than she deserved. Of falling in love. Yet, here was the caressing voice, well, caressing her.

“Are you consuming me?” she asked the gentle voice that filled her. It was in her and around her.

“Yes,” the voice said. “But only because you asked me to.”

“See! I told you so,” the dead voice chirped annoyingly. It had moved back to the window, and was nothing more than the thin fabric of a shadow against the pane. The dead whispers were darker than the near dead, and not as transparent as the ghost whispers.

“When did I ask you to?” she demanded.

“Be gone, you hyena,” the caressing voice yelled to the dead whisper, and it fled through a tiny pin hole in the glass. To the young woman, he said, “It was never said, or asked, in words. It was in your eyes, and the way you smiled at me everyday, and how, when you hummed, it always sounded like you were whispering my name.”

It was then that she realized the gentle caressing whisper wasn’t a ghost, not a dead, nor a near dead being. He was real, and in her room, right beside her, his hand on her heart; and her heart beat hard against her chest, burning a hole in her thoughts and feelings, and the warmth spread all the way through her.

His hand touched her, clasped it, and they embraced. Her lips touched his. Warm Soft. But, most of all, real. He was real, and once he moved into the light, she saw him for who he was, the grounds keeper.

In the darkness she saw her surroundings afresh, and found him. Her heart beat strong, and alive, and her fingertips found flesh and blood, and she clung to him tight in the night. The air was warm, dark, and a sheen of sweat covered her body. But she was no longer chilled. He kept her warm, and the ghosts, the dead, and the near dead never returned.

[I have more like this, and may turn this into a series… what do you think?]

Saturday Snippet

Happy Saturday! We’re having lukewarm – but wet – weather here in Washington, D.C. I’m diligently working the final edits for The Daughter of Lava, #3 Reclaimed Souls.

Below is a snippet.

In this scene, Roland, Rahda, and Roland’s young cousin (Elwyn) leave Royal Alcove, and try to bring Elwyn back to the palace.

Things do not go according to plan.

Happy reading!

<3 Kelly

Once we step outside, Elwyn’s expression is hidden in the ebony darkness. I find it interesting that she hasn’t once asked about her father or why he wasn’t coming with us. Does she already know the real reason?

There’s a snap to the air with the occasional breeze ruffling our hair. Elwyn’s unbound hair flutters about like strands of black ribbons.

“Why didn’t you attend the celebration?” I ask as we walk through the gate.

She thinks Roland made her queen, which means she doesn’t know about me. When she does, I have a feeling she will become incredibly unhappy.

Beside me, Roland listens intently.

“I usually don’t respond to imbeciles,” she says in what I presume is her regal voice. “But I’ll make an exception in your case. I don’t know what you think you know, but I promise that you’re so far off base that you won’t know what hit you until all of your limbs have been removed and you’re six feet under.”

Under her smooth, youthful skin are the trappings of an ogre.

“Is that a particular threat just for me, or to everyone in general?” I ask.

“Assume whatever you like, of course,” she answers. “My only regret will be in not seeing your ugly face as you discover it all.”

Saturday Snippet

Happy Saturday, Lovelies! Here’s a sneak peek at a scene between Rahda and Roland in book 3 (The Daughter of Lava). Our quarreling lovers are at Lord Jaucey’s mansion (Jaucey is Roland’s uncle), and Rahda’s about to do what she does best.

“Queens don’t often assassinate their rivals,” Roland says.

I scoff. “It’s a ‘learning on the job’ sort of position. Feel free to hand over your copy of ‘Becoming a queen in ten easy steps or less’ manual. Fuck it all, Roland. Would you rather take care of Jaucey? Chances are he’d prefer your equipment over mine.”

“Yes, actually, I would,” he says quickly, but then realizes what he just agreed to. “But not using your methods,” Roland adds without malice or judgment.

“You know who and what I am, and you know the methods I employ. I am not ashamed of it any more than you are ashamed of your scars. They don’t define us, they are us.”

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

<3 Kelly

COLLIDE INTO YOU is available for pre-order

200x300_CIY Hi Everyone! Exciting news in the Kelly Washington household: COLLIDE INTO YOU is available for pre-order on Amazon, with a release date of Oct 25, 2014. And, guess what, it’s priced at $2.99. How great is that!?!?

Pre-order here. Add it as a “Want to Read” on GoodReads.

My cover was created by the amazingly talented Gabrielle Prendergast (http://coveryourdreams.net/) and edited by the highly skilled and awesome Susan Helene Gottfried (www.westofmars.com).

So, what’s the story about…? Here is the unofficial blurb:

Collide Into You: A Romantic Gender Swap Love Story

SHE’S ALL ABOUT ORDER. HE LOVES A CHALLENGE. THEIR LIVES ARE ABOUT TO COLLIDE. LITERALLY.

Love, by its very definition is disorder…

When twenty-seven year old Army Sergeant Keira Holtslander, an orderly and rule-loving intelligence analyst is reassigned to the Pentagon for a special assignment, she agrees to room with her brother’s best friend, Dillan Pope. But there’s a problem. Several, in fact. He’s sarcastic, egotistical, full of himself, extremely attractive, and a womanizer. Within a matter of days, her life is chaos. She didn’t like him when they met nine years ago and her opinion isn’t likely to change now.

Love… crashes around you…

Dillan Pope, a thirty year old career businessman climbing his way up the corporate ladder, has learned to use his looks, charm, and sexual skills to his advantage. There isn’t much he cannot accomplish. Women easily tumble into his bed and business deals come about effortlessly. But when his best friend’s little sister moves in, he knows he’s in trouble. She’s rather hostile toward him, which is not the reaction he’s used to. Dillan loves a challenge, and Keira, aka, Sergeant Prim and Proper, has always been the one girl he could never forget when they met nine years ago.

Love… blinds you…

When a meddling barista puts a charm on the roommates, causing them to swap bodies, they must live as each other until they can get back to normal. They quickly learn that panic, fighting and accusations will get them nowhere. Until they can “cure” the charm, they experience life as the other with hilarious results all the while realizing that maybe the other isn’t so bad.

Love… heals you…

Maybe there’s a reason they hated each other. And discovering the feelings that lay hidden may be the only way to undo the switch.

~*~*~*~*~*

Kelly Washington’s new contemporary, military romance, written with a touch of magic, will make you laugh and believe in love all over again.


 

Oh, and guess what? My sexy heroes from FALLING FOR HIM, Justin, Aaron, and Nebraska are supporting characters in this book. Nebraska is up to his crazy antics (as usual) and you’ll get a glimpse of Justin and Aaron as a couple in the bowling scene.

Needless to say, I’m super excited about this story. It is fun, sexy, exciting, funny, and sweet. Collide Into You isn’t a steamy story and can be read by teens. I really hope you enjoy and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Hugs, Kelly

 

Latest News

Lots to update you on. First, let me thank all of my readers for taking the time to read my stories and leaving kind reviews. It does funny things to my heart when I see that you like my stories. So, THANK YOU. I wish I could hug all of you! If you adore Justin, Nebraska, and Aaron (Falling For Him Series) as much as I do, please let other readers know. Word of mouth is still the best method for selling books, and I’m no exception.

Second, all four books in my Reclaimed Souls (under my Della Roth alias) have been published on all e-markets. A few sites haven’t updated (notably Kobo and iTunes) so I’ll work on that promptly. My next goal, for this series, is print on demand (bundle) as well as an e-bundle for all stories at an amazing price. Hopefully this will have readers picking up the entire series in one shot. A big thanks to my readers that have already picked up the entire set — piecemeal — and left kind words in the form of reviews and emails. Almost everyone that emails me has something amazingly wonderful to say about Roland. While the story was Rahda’s, Roland captured your hearts. Mine as well. Make sure you pick up the freebies associated with this series. Warning: the freebies are on the steamy (read: you’ll need a cool shower) side. You can find these stories here and here and here.

I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog. Sorry about that. My house flooded a few days after Mother’s Day and we’ve been working on that issue ever since. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty — it still isn’t — but things are slowly getting back to normal and we should have most of the repairs done by the end of next week. Fortunately, my writing productivity hasn’t dipped at all. Something about chaos opens my creative channel. I’ll post a few snippets of a novel I’m 1/2 through right now. Hint: it is in Justin’s world (military romance), though he, Aaron, and Nebraska only play minor supporting roles.

I’m still actively submitting my stories into Short Story magazines and e-zines (like Clarkesworld and Shimmer). Recently I received a very well received rejection from Tor. A positive rejection. I’m almost there. Also, in case you missed one of my earlier posts, I had a short story bought by FictionRiver for one of their upcoming anthologies. The anthology is called Recycled Pulp, edited by John Helfers. My story, called Prism of the Crab Gods, is about a boy who has to deal with a troubled upbringing. I wrote the story for a workshop, which John was present for, and he bought it on the spot. I brought many a reader to tears. Myself included. This anthology will not come out until December 2015. So you have a while before you can read this story. But I’m excited nonetheless.

On to my current work in progress (tentatively titled: Colliding Into You)… based on how far I’m into the story, and how much further I need to go, and editing, etc., I do not suppose this story will be ready for publication until late Fall 2014, or early Winter. The characters, Keira and Dillan (names subject to change!) are instant-roommates due to 1) Keira’s military reassignment to the Pentagon, and 2) Dillan (not in the military) is best friends with Keira’s brother, Jon, and he asks Dillan for a favor. A few things are apparent right away: Keira really doesn’t like Dillan, and Dillan is something of a player/playboy. Here is my opening scene. It’s a draft… so forgive all grammar errors.


 

Keira

“Wow,” a masculine voice says at me from across the living room. Not to me. At me. And he says the word “wow” in two syllables. Wow-Wa. It is my roommate, Dillan. Or, rather, I’m his new roommate. Did he always have to talk so sarcastically? I wait for his next comment. “Keira, whatever the opposite of amazing is, that’s how you look today.”

I look down at what I’m wearing, which is my Army Combat Uniform, or ACUs, for short. My hair is pulled up in a low bun and, in the interest of time, I’m wearing pretty much zero make-up. I look exactly like what a twenty-seven year old sergeant in the Army is supposed to look like: like every other female sergeant in the Army.

I’m fairly close to being late for my first day at the Pentagon and the last thing I need is for the man-slut I’m rooming with to harass me. I don’t care that he’s my brother’s best friend, or that I’ve only heard great things about him, or that his abs are to-die-for and that looking at him is like looking directly at the sun.

Look away, Keira! Those abs will totally blind you.

The only reason I’m here is because my brother, Jon, asked Dillan to let me stay here while Jon is deployed to Bahrain. Plus, I needed a quick place to live once I realized the Army had reassigned me to Washington, DC.

Dillan, shirtless and drying his hair, stands just outside his bedroom door. His wide-open bedroom door. Beyond him I can see a naked female form sleeping on his bed. She’s blond, leggy, and those are totally fake breasts.

I barely know my roommate and already don’t like him. I’m glad that the living room separates our two bedrooms. I seriously don’t want to hear sounds coming from his room at night. Not after what I heard yesterday.

I’m tired of trying to not look at Dillan, so I glance out the window. I still cannot believe that I’m living in a high-rise apartment with an amazing view of the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. Too bad it came with a man-slut.

I try to figure out what Dillan’s talking about when his lips curve in a victorious manner. I’ve been silent too long after the insult.

“What?” I ask, tilting my head. “Are you not used to women being clothed in front of you? Perhaps you’re not exactly sure how buttons and all those crazy little fastening thingies work? Listen, can we insult each other later? I’ve got to catch the metro.”

He grins as he reaches for a shirt of his own, a blue collared shirt, and purposefully buttons it up slowly, as if to illustrate that, yes, he knows how to dress himself. What an accomplishment, I think. Whatever will he do next? Use his finger to pick his nose?

I smile at the juvenile thought.

Dillan crosses the distance between us as he tucks the shirt into tailored pants. He cleans up nicely. I know he isn’t some bum. He works at a prestigious firm as some big-wig’s senior executive assistant. Let me clarify. That big-wig boss is a woman. And if I’ve learned anything about Dillan Pope in the two days I’ve been his roommate and all the stories Jon has told me over the last few years, it’s that Dillan can charm anyone.
Myself excluded, of course. I find something unattractive about overly-attractive men. I’ve always been this way.

My roommate clears his throat as if he has some big announcement. I roll my eyes and look at my watch. Hint, hint, buddy.

“I was just going to say that you looked much better this morning after you came in from your run,” he says in a low voice. I study his chiseled jaw, his light green eyes, and his dark hair. Not that I was smelling him or anything, but he smells like Sandalwood.

My run? That was two hours ago. “Can you please make sense, Devon?”

“It’s Dillan, but you already knew that. Don’t act like I don’t affect you. I mean,” he shrugs, “I really don’t care one way or the other. You’re not my type.” He slips on his shoes and folds his suit jacket over his arm and turns to go. “But, for the record, Sergeant Holtslander,” he says with a smirk. “I certainly like the little running outfit a whole hell of a lot better than whatever that”—he motions his hands up and down—“shapeless uniform is called.”

He winks as he leaves the apartment.

I stare at the closed door and wonder, not for the first time in the last thirty-six hours, what have I gotten myself into?


Before I go, I’ll share a photo (a selfie, really) of me and my son right after he became a Wolf in our Cub Scout pack. At the end of the day, I’m a mom. A proud mom. And I’m so blessed that I cannot express it adequately. Until next time, my friends… – Kelly –

Me and the Kiddo

Me and the Kiddo

 

The Queen of Scarred Hearts (#2 Reclaimed Souls)

I’m excited to tell you that THE QUEEN OF SCARRED HEARTS is now available! Hold on while I do a few cartwheels!

The Queen of Scarred HeartsIf you haven’t picked up Book/Novella #1, click here to see what you’re missing! TQoSH (I just made that up) is the second book/novella in the Reclaimed Souls Series. The stakes are higher as Rahda leaves Skyscraper City and heads to see the master she’s betrayed. While there, she meets a charismatic man, Dev Osta, who gives Roland a run for his money. Let’s just say that Dev is gorgeous and that all of my beta readers, to include my editor — yes ALL of them — found Dev drool worthy. You’ll want to purchase this book just to get the bonus material at the end. (Shhhh, but it is the unedited version of Rahda and Dev’s, um, encounter). Now, on to TQoSH…

The Queen of Scarred Hearts, #2 (Reclaimed Souls)

A Conflicted Heart…  Caught between two worlds, Rahda must decide what she desires more: to be Lady Rahda Sevradan or the Grandfather’s disciple. Now that she knows that masking the dark prince’s scars was a ruse, she leaves the Palace Skyscraper only to unearth new secrets, including secrets about her family’s history. Then she meets someone that threatens her feelings for Roland. Will her heart and soul ever been in agreement?

A Dark Soul…  Prince Roland Rexus wants nothing more than to keep Rahda close, but she fights him at every turn. He wants a real marriage. He wants her heart. Once she learns of his future plans, he worries he will lose her forever. As the battle brews internally between them, war looms over his head and the dark prince is powerless without Rahda’s help.

A Royal Revolution…  With a royal revolt simmering just under the surface, Rahda and Roland must tread carefully as the continent’s citizens descend upon Skyscraper City for a royal celebration that changes everything. Will the Queen of Scarred Hearts emerge?  You can read an excerpt here. The Queen of Scarred Hearts is available for $3.99. You can buy it now from any one of these e-tailers:

Amazon  |  BN  |  (coming soon..) Kobo  |  Smashwords  | All Romance eBooks  |  Apple iBookstore

~**~**~**~**~

The other books in this series are coming soon:

THE DAUGHTER OF LAVA (Mar 2014)

THE PRIESTESS OF RECLAIMED SOULS (May 2014)

The Pale Waters (Reclaimed Souls Vol. 1) Cover Reveal and Chapter Teaser

The Pale Waters

Amazon

Smashwords

Welcome to The Continent on Earth II, a post-royal revolutionized land filled with robots, beasts, humans, and half-humans, and ruled by the mysteriously absent and secretive Dark Prince Roland Rexus. The Continent is a place where a dark stain spreads, the sun no longer shines, where the rain is black, icy, and laced with metal shrapnel, and where souls are collected and owned like prized possessions. Rahda Plesti, a Class Zero citizen and an unorthodoxly trained assassin, descends upon the capitol city of Skyscraper City with one goal in mind: kill the Dark Prince and end the monarchy. But because of a secret she carries, Rahda finds that things do not go as planned as she discovers what Roland keeps hidden. She’s in the midst of war she doesn’t fully understand with consequences that not only impact Skyscraper City, the Dark Prince, and her own soul, but the entire continent as well.

BEFORE

“I wait for the Queen who will restore, who will reclaim, who will make me whole. Come, I breathe life into you, but first, I must take it all away.”
Goddess

PREFACE

“Prophecy says the last daughter of the last high priestess will reclaim the continent. I both fear and pray for this truth.”
Fernley Sevradan

CHAPTER ONE

Skyscraper City is not usually this empty. It’s a little too eerie for what I expected this morning, which is a busy, bustling city inhabited with the odd mixture of royalty, vagabonds, personal pleasure servants, half-humans, and mechanized robots weaving in and out of the dirty crowds.

“But not today, Rahda,” I say to myself, clutching my meager belongings even closer to my body as I look around. Darkness moves in as the daylight fades.

Nothing feels right, not since I left my mentor yesterday and journeyed here. Turning in the direction I just came from, I observe the tall trees that lie south and the mountain range that naturally divides the continent in half. I can almost see, in the distance, where the Old City sits in relation to the rest of the mountain range.

A pang thumps my heart. I want to go back, but I know what’s expected of me, and I must continue on.

I briefly hesitate before I enter through the metal gates, the doors of which have long been removed, that separate the Dark Prince’s Skyscraper City and his Palace from everything else.

I glance up at half-built silver buildings. Even though their surfaces are coated with dried charcoal dust, the glinty material still reflects the gloomy, ashy-gray sky and the weak yellow sun-rays that barely break through the dense and permanent gray clouds.

It’s been a while since I’ve entered Skyscraper City, and even though the name is fitting, I’ve always thought of the place as Gray City. Dreary, rainy, and savage.
A fierce wind picks up, whipping my wool and metal fabriskin robe angrily at the black boots laced up over my calves. I jog left, out of the dry, dusty street, and duck under a shabby, pockmarked awning. I inspect the bright green signs that, in the Patroxi half-alien language, along with detailed pictures, advertise food, clothes, sexual favors, and drugs.

Ah… a Patroxi convenience store.

The wind picks up again and this time, a clap of thunder crashes overhead. Stepping out from the awning, I glance up and see the swirling gray-black clouds. Any second now, it’s going to pour.

Commotion in the Patroxi convenience store distracts me from the coming storm. The patroness, a tall, thin Patroxi half-alien, with thick black and orange braids and attired in a sheer fabriskin robe that leaves nothing to the imagination, shoos me away from underneath her awning.

“But the storm!” I shout at her in her own tongue and point skyward. Dear Goddess, I think. I don’t want to be caught in it when it comes down.

“No human step inside,” the patroness says in broken English as she looks me up and down with a scathing, black sneer. Her slim, gleaming fingers pluck something from the belt underneath her thick robe: an amber-colored blade. Without much of a warning—though I sort of expected it—her long arm swings at me and I easily jump back, away from the awning and into the street.

The Patroxi business owner looks up, and I watch as her features darken. Her face shifts, uncoagulates, turns translucent, and then hardens into some sort of mask-like shell, almost like a battle helmet.

Overhead, another crack of thunder vibrates my insides, and I attempt to reason with the patroness.

“Be gone,” she hisses at me in her own language, waving her small weapon around.
She sheaths her blade, unhooks the awning, and brings it flush against the metal wall. I hear a series of locking sounds coming from the inside just as the first acidic drop hits my shoulder. Then another. The black droplets scatter in front of me, splashing into the dust. Bits of black ice smack, smack, smack the ground. The wool and metal fabriskin robe should protect me against the rain.

Goddess, I hope so.

An electric charge fills the air around me, and I pull the robe’s hood over my head. Looking into the city, I can see the topmost part of the Palace Skyscraper blending into those dark clouds. I’m nowhere near my destination. Even if I sprint, I won’t make it before I’m drenched. Waiting may not work, either, since storms around here can last days.

I don’t want to meet him looking like a pathetic dog.

Who am I kidding? It’s rumored that the Dark Prince has returned to the continent, and even though he’s the reason I came back to Skyscraper City, I doubt I’ll see him. Without much choice, I run deeper into the Gray City as rain strikes me, thunder rumbles, and silver ribbons of lightning flash overhead like a trifecta of ominous warnings.

***

AVAILABLE NOW!

THE PALE WATERS is available now for $2.99. You can buy it now from these e-tailers:

Barnes and Noble

AMAZON

SMASHWORDS 

KOBO

Apple iBookstore