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Authors: Catrina Burgess

Tags: #romance, #ghosts, #death, #magic, #zombies, #wizards, #ya horror


BOOK: Awakening
10.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


By Catrina

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either
the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners
of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have
been used without permission. The publication/use of these
trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the
trademark owners.
All characters, events,
and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused
with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely


This book is rated Pg13 – Due to violence and some sexual


© copyright
July 2013
, Catrina

Cover art by Catrina Burgess, ©
copyright July 2013

All rights reserved. Without limiting
the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means
(electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise)
without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner
and the above publisher of this book.

License Notes

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respecting the author's work.


I would like to thank Natasha, Megan
and Kamryn for being my inspiration and for helping me pick out
some of the characters names. I want to thank my Mom for always
telling me truly bizarre stories when I was a kid. My favorite--
the one about alligators flushed down the toilets that now roam the
sewers. Thanks to my Dad for raising me to believe anything is
possible. Special thanks and lots of kisses and hugs to my writing
buddies who spent many hours poring over my stories looking for
typos and funky grammar--Anara, Marie, Vanessa, and

And to Todd—None of it would be
possible without you. Because of you, my world is always full of
magic and possibilities. And now it’s also full of zombies. ;-)
Dude, you know the zombies were totally your fault.

Chapter One

Into the Darkness I Go


“You want to learn the Death

The look on his face was hard to read.
It couldn’t have been every day that someone wandered into the shop
and made such a request.

I tried to look more confident than I
felt. He couldn’t tell my hands were slightly trembling inside my
jacket pockets, could he? I forced myself to keep my gaze steady
and resisted the urge to take to my heels and run out the

My Mama always said,

You can always ask, t
he worst they can do is say no
But I don’t think Mama was thinking
about revenge and murder when she dealt out that piece of homespun

He stood behind the counter
and looked about my age--seventeen
. He had
shoulder length blonde hair and he wore a black tank top sporting a
picture of a large red phoenix surrounded by fire.

I was told the owner of
the shop could teach me the Death Arts.”

I’m sorry, someone’s
playing a joke on you. No one here can help you, not with something
like that.”

Every wall in the place
housed a set of shelves and scattered around the room were
waist-high, freestanding glass cases. Statues with menacing faces
stared back at me from between leather bound books on the shelves.
Every flat surface was crammed full--exquisite bottles filled with
colorful liquids, dried herbs, exotic feathers, and cloth pouches
tied with ribbon. Mixed in with these harmless looking objects were
other things. Misshapen bottles filled with red liquid, probably
blood--human, goat or pig, who could tell? In a dark corner, I
could make out the shapes of animal skulls. And something else. I
leaned forward to get a closer look. What were those small objects
hanging from a wooden pole over in the corner? A chill ran down my
back as I realized that they were shrunken heads.

A magic shop dimly lit with some of
its items peering from the shadows where they hid. Some of the
items I’d only seen pictures of, and at another time I would have
been tempted to spend a lazy afternoon exploring every nook and
cranny in the place. But not today. I was here with a single minded

I’d anticipated that my request would
be met with anger or disbelief, but he seemed almost indifferent.
Almost. Those dark eyes had a hint of wariness about them. He might
act as though everything was fine and dandy, but I had the
impression that, at any moment, I was going to get tossed out on my

Luke, you know who she
means.” A pretty girl with the longest hair I’d ever seen spoke
from a doorway behind the counter. Her hair was the color of sweet
yellow corn and fell just short of the ground.

Darla, shut

Darla looked a few years younger than
Luke. She had on a long flowing blue skirt covered in yellow
flowers and a white bohemian shirt, the sleeves of the shirt
trimmed in blue lace.

You’re looking for my
Uncle Franklin. He’s out of town.” She glared at Luke as she came
out and took her place next to him. “Ignore my brother. He’s
worried you’re a Redeemer.”

Gods, do I look like a
Everyone knew about the cult by
now. They had started up two years ago--an organization whose
members rejected all magic. Most members were innocent enough, but
there were fringe sects that not only rejected magic, but sought
out anyone who practiced magic for the sole purpose of “cleansing

Five people had been found
in the last month, drowned in local lakes, their hands and feet
bound by thick rope. Obviously some psychopaths were watching too
much of the history channel. Anyone who was a witch would float,
and the innocent would drown, according to the old wives’
These crazies proclaimed poor souls
who drowned cleared of all charges. Little help it did them, being
dead and all.

A group of Redeemers took
credit for the deaths, but not in any way law enforcement agencies
could track them down. The news reported flyers proclaiming
The cleansing has begun,
Redeemers will take back our
, had appeared on various city

How did someone prove they weren’t a
nut job on a religious cleansing? “I’m not a Redeemer, I swear.” I
tried to look mentally stable. “I was told that you’re death
dealers. From the Phoenix Guild.” I looked pointedly at his

Darla laughed. “She’s got you there.”
She reached behind the counter, pulled out sticks of incense and
held them up. “What do you think? Lavender or Root

Root beer.”

She grabbed a box of matches from a
nearby shelf, pulled one out and struck it. The flame flickered
wildly before she lowered it and carefully lit one of the brown
sticks. She held the stick up to her mouth and blew out the flame
at the tip. The smoke continued to rise and curled up in swirls
around her face.

Root beer is my favorite.”
She smiled and placed the incense down into a carved wooden holder
sitting on the counter.

The sweet smell filled the room. Darla
pushed the wooden holder to the side and hopped up on the counter.
Once settled, she swept the mass of her hair over her right
shoulder. It slid down her body like a golden river.

I wondered how long it took her to
wash and dry such hair. It had to be heavy and, I’d think, very hot
in the summer. I watched, mesmerized as her nimble fingers divided
the strands into three large sections and she began to braid

Your uncle, when will he
be back?”

Luke didn’t answer, and he was
starting to look annoyed. I waited two beats, and when he still
didn’t answer I turned to his sister.

She looked up from her braids and
watched her brother for a few seconds before answering, “Not for at
least two weeks. He’s put us in charge of the store while he’s

I was desperate--no way could I wait
weeks. Chances were if I didn’t get help soon I’d be dead--in days
not weeks.

Can you help me?” I
couldn’t help it, my voice trembled a bit.

This time Luke responded. “Help you
learn the Dark Arts? So you can what? Take out your frustrations on
the world?” He turned to Darla. “I’m betting someone pissed her
off. You ever notice that it’s always the angry ones who think they
can come and learn our craft? Think they can be taught our art
during a weekend course. Why not just buy a gun? Oh, yeah, because
guns don’t work on our kind.” He turned his attention back to me.
“If you don’t mind me asking, who’s this almighty enemy who pissed
you off? Ex-boyfriend? Some clerk at the local mini mart?” His
voice was dripping with sarcasm.

My chin came up, and I looked him
straight in the eye when I answered. “I’m not asking you to train
me in the deadly arts so I can take out a busload of

This proclamation brought a half grin
to his face. He wasn’t taking me seriously. In truth I couldn’t
blame him, I didn’t look the part. No Goth clothing, no long black
trench coat. I wore the uniform of the middle class in my part of
town--a striped white and blue sweater covered by a dark sailor
jacket, a pair of faded blue jeans, and black Vans.

I was beginning to regret the coat.
The moment I entered the store a wall of heat had hit me. It was
autumn outside, but someone inside liked to keep things toasty.
Small beads of sweat were forming on my forehead. I considered
taking off my coat, but the reception I was getting made me think I
wouldn’t be staying long.

He slowly took in my appearance. I
tried not to wither under the scrutiny. I knew what he saw standing
in front of him--a seventeen year old girl with dark brown hair
pulled up into a ponytail. I’m not the type to stop traffic. My
chin and my forehead were a bit too pronounced thanks to my
Scottish heritage. Blunt bangs fringed my forehead, coming to rest
above nondescript hazel eyes, and my build--more tomboyish than
playboy bunny. Nothing that screamed “look at me”--I blended into a
crowd, and that was something I counted on.

I can pay.” I pulled a wad
of bills out of my right jacket pocket. “I understand that you
people prefer to work in cash.”

The cash made him frown. Worse, it
made him move from behind the big glass counter faster than I could
have anticipated. I barely had a chance to take a step back before
he reached out and grabbed my arm.

Who are you?”

He was much bigger up close. I looked
up and our eyes locked, and I suddenly lost the ability to speak.
He’d seemed amiable enough when I stepped into the shop, but now
his whole body language took on a more threatening vibe. Those dark
eyes shone, not with anger but… Violence.

Normally a big, pissed-off stranger
manhandling me would have freaked me out, but I was past being
intimidated. Fear had left the building a few days ago when bullets
had been flying and bloody bodies covered the floor. I gave myself
a mental shake. I wouldn’t think about that now. I’d lock those
images into the deepest, darkest corner of my mind, and maybe one
day I would deal with them, but not today. Today I was on a
mission. I didn’t have a lot to lose and this guy might be the only
one who could give me what I needed most.

I pushed the money at his chest with
my free hand. “My name is Colina. You don’t need to know my last
name, and if this isn’t enough, name your price.”

His fingers curled around the bills,
and he took a step back and let go of my arm. “You’re serious about

BOOK: Awakening
10.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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