What chance does one witch have against five vampires? Alone, not much. But Rayvin’s allies are gathering… The battle between good and evil supernatural forces heats up in the long, cold November nights of the former mining town. But how will Rayvin’s motley crew of spellcasters and shapeshifters cope when they discover the threat they face is even greater than they imagined?
Charlotte lay back in her luxurious double-wide lounge chair on the balcony and hugged her blanket closer, watching the sun come up over the Pacific.
In the distance, she could hear exotic birds welcoming the morning sun. Along the street below, Peruvian vendors were already beginning to set up their wares for the flocks of tourists to squawk over. But while the peaceful stillness of the morning should have been comforting, she felt disjointed and uncertain.
The sketchpad should have been filled with outlines of the gorgeous views in Lima, but its empty pages flapped in the early morning wind. She’d bought canvases in various sizes and a variety of new paints to reflect the exotic colours around her, but every time she took charcoal or paintbrush in hand, nothing happened. The creative spark flared only enough to invite the effort, and then it died.
She hadn’t been able to draw or paint for over a year. Not since the previous fall.
Not since being attacked for the final time by the disgusting vampire she’d imprisoned underground. She’d survived, and she was happy to have married Pike—overjoyed, in fact, to have found her match in him—but something had been irrevocably damaged in that encounter.
She played absently with the opal necklace Pike had given her to replace her golden ankh, left buried metres underground. It was beautiful, a blue Peruvian opal shaped into a teardrop about the size of her thumb, its tip wrapped in gold. Pike had found the original stone and had a craftsman shape it for her. According to local folklore, it was supposed to have soft relaxing powers, enabling the wearer to release tension in order to allow ideas to flow more freely. She had read more about it online one rainy afternoon. In addition to encouraging relaxation, the stone was believed to help lessen stress, heal the trauma of old injuries, and increase tranquility, especially for those with troubled minds and insomnia.
While it might have helped Charlotte to get to sleep, it wasn’t working on whatever was blocking her creativity. In addition, the bad dreams she’d struggled with for months after she had survived the vampire’s last assault had not only returned, they were getting worse.
Charlotte appreciated the thoughtful gesture of her husband, but she missed her ankh.
A hand touched her shoulder, and she jumped.
“Honey? What are you doing out here, so early?” Pike, her husband of only a few months, sat down next to her, clad only in his white boxer-briefs. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Charlotte tilted her head back and tried breathe slowly, to let her heart slow down. “It’s all right. I couldn’t sleep, but I didn’t want to wake you.”
His grey eyes were filled with concern. Gently, Pike reached out to run his fingers through her uncombed raven-black hair. “Another nightmare?”
She nodded, curling into his arms as he settled onto the lounge with her. The memory was with her even now. “It’s never the same, but it feels the same. I can’t quite remember the details, but I can see…fragments. People dying. His face, and his fangs, the awful way he grins. I can smell blood.” Her stomach heaved at the thought.
Pike held her close. “It took you months to stop having nightmares after last fall. And now they’re back. You haven’t had a good night’s sleep since before Hallowe’en.”
Charlotte took a deep breath. Her body was beginning to relax against the heat of his skin, the muscles supporting her tired body, the love she could sense in the tension of his arms. “I know. But it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s probably just because our trip’s almost over. Or we passed the anniversary of the…of what happened.”
He kissed the top of her head. “It’s normal to remember. It’s part of the process when victims come to terms with trauma. We can take an earlier flight, maybe later today, even. Your mother’s fine, everyone is safe, but if it helps, we can go home.”
“That would make me feel better.” Charlotte sighed, drifting back to sleep in his arms. “Just keep holding me for a little while longer.”
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