Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Once We Were Witches Teaser Tuesday

 

Immortal Kiss Series, Book 4


Supernatural Fiction

Date Published: 03-08-2024

 

 

The mysterious world of witchcraft, murder, and mystery thrusts Raven Sagestone into an adventure whose main goal is to unlock the secrets of her powers. To do this, she teams up with Brandon Cass, an outsider with knowledge of the supernatural world. Raven is introduced to Eve, a psychic who reads destinies. Despite this, Raven is protected by a strong magic barrier, preventing Eve from seeing her. Brandon and Raven search for the truth at Bloodthirst, a vampire club. Visiting The Council's haven with Margarete and Caleb is Raven's chance to find answers to the questions that have plagued her.

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

 

A breaking news alert flashed on the TV screen as I bit into my bagel.

As the reporter stood by, the camera panned over to the lifeless body of a young woman hanging from a tree branch. “Witch” was carved into her gray, blood-stained forehead. He sighed and hung his head. “A seventh victim has been added to the list.”

I shoved my bagel aside as a sick feeling gripped my stomach. My heart ached as I stared at the girl’s lifeless face. How could someone be so cruel and sadistic? This was not just a random act of cruelty. And where were the police in all of this?

My mom walked in, grabbed the remote, and shut off the TV.

“I was watching that.”

“There’s no need to watch some sicko murder young women. Life’s too short to fixate on people like that.”

“I’m not fixated,” I clarified. “I’m concerned. There’s a difference. That’s seven girls now. Each with the word ‘witch’ carved into their foreheads. What are the police doing? Nothing?”

She blew me off. “Investigations take time. The police are doing everything they can. Your dad and I see a lot of accidents at the hospital. Sadly, crime is a real thing. But you,” she kissed my forehead, “don’t need to worry about that. Your focus should be on college and the class you need to get to.”

Mom was wrong. I had to worry. The creep pursued young women, specifically witches, a trait I shared and kept to myself. While my parents were blue-eyed and blonde-haired, I had pitch-black hair and brown eyes, and I also had strange birthmarks covering my forearms. It might seem like I have a tragic story, but I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe I was destined to be abandoned outside the hospital where my adoptive parents worked. As they headed home after a long shift, they heard a faint cry near the emergency entrance. Rushing to investigate, they found me abandoned on the front steps, bundled in a pink blanket. As fate would have it, they immediately took me in and showered me with love.

As a baby, a toddler, a teen, and now at 19, a college student, they never saw me as anything but sweet, curious, sulky, and smart. They had no idea what I was hiding, the power I perfected, the spells I practiced, the magic I shed. In their eyes, I was like them. I knew I was someone beyond their comprehension, someone powerful. But who was I? Who were my birth parents who should have taught me how to use the gifts given to me at birth? The only information I had about my past came from visions—an image of a dark figure dropping me outside the hospital. There were no records of my birth, my parents, a location—as if I never existed. Bringing my questions to my adoptive parents wouldn’t do any good. They’d kept these secrets hidden from me. In spite of me knowing the real truth, my adoptive parents provided a birth certificate, giving me the name, Raven Sagestone. I love them, but I want answers. I wanted to know the truth, and it was clear it wouldn’t come from them. This was something I had to figure out for myself.

I put on my cropped denim jacket, kissed my mom on the cheek, and hit up Uber on my cell. My driver’s tests were a total disaster. I failed every time. It creeped me out when the instructors stared at me with their beady eyes. So…my driver’s license was out, and Uber was in. Having someone else do all the driving was a much better plan, for now anyway.

Forty minutes before class, the Uber driver dropped me off in front of the massive steps leading up to entrance of Granite Bay University. It was one of the oldest schools in Jodence, like something straight out of a fairytale. Its structure was reminiscent of a castle, with its towering columns, decorative arched windows, and cone-shaped roof; yet modern-day people dressed in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers surrounded the ancient building—me being one of them.

In the past fourteen weeks, my daily agenda had consisted of visiting the library before class and researching its extensive collection of witchcraft, magic, and supernatural books. One of those books was certain to contain the answers to my birthright. I absorbed every word I came across about soul-bending, mental conjuring, healing rituals, protection rituals, binding magic, and the lore of fire, water, and air. One of the most fascinating things I discovered was the witch’s mark. It has likely been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. However, between the 15th and 18th centuries, it had a much darker history than it does now. Witches were often burned, hanged, drowned, and tortured, and those with red hair and extra fingers and toes were often suspected of witchcraft. Witch hunters used moles, birthmarks, scars, and extra digits to identify witches. It was a myth that a particular god or bloodline was associated with the presence of a mole cluster or rose-colored mark. My arms were covered in black symbols like ancient ink, and neither a cluster nor a mark applied to me. Thank goodness I wasn’t born back then.

With my arms full of books, I walked beneath the library’s massive brick archways, combing its numerous aisles for books I hadn’t read. When I rounded the corner, I tripped over a guy sitting on the floor. My books flew through the air and landed with a thud. I groaned as I hit the ground, hoping I had not damaged my books. The guy on the floor, on the other hand, quickly sprang up and apologized profusely.

His hands steadied me as he blurted, “Whoa, sorry.” He helped me gather my books and ensured I was okay. An adorable smile swept along his lips as he brushed sandy-brown hair out of his hazel-colored eyes. He was probably one of those guys unaware of how cute he was, but cute or not, he’d parked his ass in the middle of the aisle, causing me to trip.

“What the hell, dude? There are tables to sit at and read.”

“Yeah, I see your point,” he grinned, revealing dimpled cheeks as he flipped through the books. “So you’re into witches? Or maybe it’s research for a paper about what’s going now right now?”

“Does it matter?”

He squished his eyebrows together and tilted his head to the side. “Do you know my sister?”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.” He tucked the books under his arm and bobbed his chin toward the tables. “Here, let me help you. It’s the least I can do.”

With a smile, I accepted his offer. “Thank you.”

He arranged the books on the table before shoving his hands into his pockets. Then he stood there, studying me.

“Stare much?”

“Has anyone told you, you’re difficult?” He didn’t wait for me to respond. “But hey, I apologize for staring.” He spread his fingers and moved them in a circular motion over my face. “You remind me of someone, Eve. She’s got the same dark hair, ivory skin, and red lip look.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know anyone named Eve.”

“Hmph.”

 The sound of a distant scream sent chills down my spine. My eyes darted around, searching for the source. “Did you hear that?”

“That was definitely a scream.”

Students leapt from their seats, hurling books onto the floor as their gazes swept the room. Librarians abandoned their posts and spilled into the aisles. Panicked voices shouted, “Who screamed?” “What happened?” Me and the guy were thrown into madness by a stampede of people charging to the exits and pushing us out of the building and onto the library’s steps.

The echo of my thumping heart filled my ears as I tried to figure out what was happening around me. The once orderly campus had become a chaotic mess as hundreds of people rushed by, pushing and shoving, their faces filled with panic. As I fought my way through the crowd, I couldn’t help but wonder where everyone was going and what had happened to cause such chaos.

“There!” the guy pointed toward the sculpture of the university’s tower in the courtyard.

I gasped as my eyes landed on the bodies. Three girls hung from the white tower with their necks bound together, now covered in blood. As I looked at their lifeless eyes and saw the word “witch” carved across their foreheads, a chill ran down my spine. An eerie, tragic, and horrific scene surrounded the stained white tower. As students and teachers huddled together, whispering in disbelief, a shrill of sirens echoed in the distance, intensifying panic and fear. Police authorities were under pressure to find those responsible for these horrific acts.

“Damn, three this time,” he uttered with shock.

I couldn’t speak. My throat swelled with a huge sob as I slowly shook my head.

The police rushed in, their footsteps pounding the sidewalk as they raced toward the tower. Their faces were determined as they cautiously approached the cordoned-off area. They quickly pulled out their clipboards and meticulously documented the evidence, taking photographs of the area.

An officer, wearing an exasperated expression, yelled. “Get back! This is a crime scene.”

I flinched, staggered backward, before firmly planting my feet on the ground. I wasn’t going anywhere. This was my battle. I needed answers. Those poor girls needed answers too. My eyes grew wide as I demanded, “Why don’t you find this sick creep before we all die?”

The guy’s gaze burned into my flesh as he snapped his head toward me. “What are you doing?”

The officer thrust his shoulders back and barked out, “You need to step back.”

“Are you trying to get arrested?” the guy whispered in my ear.

Just as his words entered my head, I overheard someone say, “They’re ice cold; not a drop of blood in them.”

My eyes locked on the authoritative policeman. “Blood? Is that new? Were the other girls drained of blood too?”

A pair of squinted eyes glared at me. “You can retreat or go downtown and think about your actions in a jail cell.”

“Omgeez, man up much?” the guy said as he grabbed my arm and hurried me away. “You need to calm down.”

I tore my gaze away from the dead girls and locked it on him. “Don’t tell me what to do. You don’t know anything about me. I want answers for those girls.” And myself, I privately declared. “It seems nobody is fighting for them.”

“It might seem that way on the surface, but I’m sure they’re doing everything they can to help.”

“I wish I could believe that, but dead bodies keep showing up…” My voice cracked as the sob squeezing my throat broke free. My shoulders quivered, and I buried my face in my hands.

He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and softened his voice. “They’ll catch ’em. It’ll be okay.”

Sniffling, I sighed, “I can’t concentrate. I can’t be in class.”

“We can walk to The Grind, get a coffee, and just relax.”

I nodded and then hung my head as he led me away from the gruesome scene of dead girls.


About the Author

LAURA DALEO is a multi-genre author, specializing in Dark Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural/Paranormal fiction, Science Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. Immortal Kiss, her best-known vampire series, explores the Egyptian pantheon that gave rise to vampires. Currently, she is working on her eighth book, I am Wolf, an urban fantasy.

A native of San Diego, California, Laura now lives in Tucson, Arizona with her two dogs, Rose and Cooper.


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