Authors: Aaron Gorvine,Lauren Barnholdt
Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Literature & Fiction, #Girls & Women, #Romance, #Paranormal, #One Hour (33-43 Pages), #Paranormal & Fantasy
(The Witches of Santa Anna, Book Thirteen)
by Lauren Barnholdt & Aaron Gorvine
Copyright 2011, Lauren Barnholdt and Aaron
Gorvine, all rights reserved
This book is a work
of fiction, and any resemblance to any persons,
living or dead, is
The pain is unbearable, like nothing I’ve ever felt
before. It starts with a strange tingling sensation in
my face and quickly becomes prickly, like a hundred
needles are poking into my skin.
Reed’s put some sort of spel on me, and so I can’t
will make it easier for
me to keep from screaming out in agony.
Beside me, I can sense Raine is struggling, too. I
can hear her panting and gasping as the discomfort
Reed is practical y screaming now, his voice
projecting and echoing out across the amphitheatre.
I can’t understand a word he’s saying, but somehow
each syl able is sending knives through my body. A
sharp pain shoots up my leg, flares up my side, and
then final y settles at my skul , where it blossoms into
a headache that feels like a sledgehammer is being
taken to the inside of my forehead.
I want to puke.
I want to get away.
But I can’t.
Raine starts jittering and dancing beside me,
screaming with every spasm.
I try to find something, anything, to focus on instead
of the pain. I refuse to move around like Raine is
doing. No way I’m going to let this audience of
sickos think they’re beating me. Especial y Reed. I
won’t let him see me react to the pain no matter how
bad it gets.
So I think about the one thing—the one person—that
I’m doing this for.
I close my eyes and picture her face. Those brown
eyes. Her smile. The way she looks at me when I’m
making a joke, or when she’s making a joke in
return. I throw myself back in time to when we were
together during homecoming weekend. Those few
days of brief happiness when I could feel how right it
was for me and her to be with each other.
Somehow, the pain starts to fade into the
background. It’s a relief. But at the same time, a part
of me also knows that the end is near. In a few
minutes, I’l probably be dead. I know Reed has no
intention of keeping me and Raine around. This
“ceremony” is just a charade, a little show to
convince Natalia that he’s actual y trying to help us,
when in reality it’s simply the most efficient way to kil
us, while stil al owing him to come out looking like a
I open my eyes. The sky has turned gray and is
spitting rain. Thunder rumbles and lightning splits
across the clouds.
And then my gaze is drawn to a commotion on the
stage, off to the right. There are about four guards
trying to keep someone contained. My vision is
blurry, and so I squint, trying to figure out what’s
going on. I get a glimpse of Natalia, her dark hair
flying as she thrashes her arms. She’s trying to get to
me. In fact, she almost gets free as I watch.
Somehow she knocks a few of the guards
backwards— maybe by using a spel , I don’t know.
We lock eyes. But before she can get away from her
captors, one of them raises his fist and strikes her
across the back of her head. She doesn’t see it
coming and the force of it drops her to the ground.
Then I get a look at who hit her. It’s Phelps, the guy I
pummeled the other day when he chased me
through the woods. He stares down at Nat with a
happy grin, like he just hit a homerun at Yankee
Reed looks over at them, distracted. He sees what’s
going on, and it seems to flummox him a bit. He
hesitates for a moment, and when he does, some of
the crackling energy is sucked out of the theatre. A
murmur ripples through the crowd, as everyone’s
attention is diverted to what’s going on at the side of
I look back at Natalia, my stomach contracting with
What if that idiot kil ed her when he hit her?
She’s lying on the ground in a heap, not moving, and
Phelps is stil grinning down at her. It occurs to me
that maybe I’m going to die, but there’s no way in hel
I’m going to let them hurt Natalia. Of al the things
they could do, that’s the last thing I’l accept.
But what can I do to stop them? I’m tied to Raine,
I strain against my bonds, and as I do, a surge of
anger and hatred rushes through me. It’s like nothing
I’ve ever experienced before. I don’t even know what
it is exactly, but for in this instant it’s as though I’m
able to take in whatever energy is around me and
My body feels like a high-tension wire -- pure
electricity, strength, and intensity.
I wrench my arms, and the ropes holding Raine and
me together snap like they’re nothing more than a
couple of pieces of string. I’m up instantly, launching
myself across that stage. It doesn’t matter that Reed
steps in front of me. I knock him aside and he lands
on his ass.
For a split second I look down at his stunned face.
I told you I’d knock you on your ass, dickhead.
I continue across the stage toward the guards.
They’re al looking at me now with expressions of
shock. I can’t blame them, since I’m in shock, too.
But I don’t have time to wonder how I’m able to do
any of this. Al I know is that for the first time in a long,
long time, I feel strong.
When I reach the first guard, I literal y toss him off the
stage and into the crowd.
The other two guys hesitate, not sure what I’m
capable of. I just glare, since I stil can’t seem to talk.
Natalia sits up, looking dazed. Now the only one
between us is the guy who hit her in the first place.
Phelps. He takes two steps back, his face ashen.
I move forward, then grab him by the throat and
squeeze. He sinks to his knees, his face slowly
turning a shade of light purple. It occurs to me that I
have the strength to kil him, to actual y crush his
But I’m not one of them. I don’t just kil people for the
hel of it. Instead I toss him aside like a bag of
leaves, and he rol s into the corner, gasping and
The audience is up and buzzing now, some of them
moving toward the stage. A few of them are
clustered around Reed, and I know it’s only a matter
of time before they come after me. Raine’s
col apsed on the floor, not moving, maybe even
Reed stands up and stares at me, his face unable to
mask his hatred. And something else as wel . Fear?
Yes. Reed is terrified of me, terrified because he
didn’t plan for this, didn’t see it coming at al .
You underestimated me, buddy.
“Campbel , you’re not helping anybody, least of al
yourself!” he cal s out, starting to walk towards me
with a smile suddenly affixed to his face. Like he’s a
real y helpful guy now, like he wasn’t just trying to
murder me a few seconds ago.
I don’t respond. I
respond. Instead, I bend down
and pick up Nat, hoisting her over my shoulder and
starting to back away.
Reed glances back at the audience. It’s almost total
pandemonium now, with everyone looking around
and trying to figure out what’s happening.
And then noise starts coming from the forest.
Voices. Yel ing.
Some of the audience members are turning and
pointing away from the stage, toward the trees at the
left of the theatre. A few people scream, and there’s
a stampede as everyone tries to get away from
whatever’s coming. Suddenly, an explosion rings out
from nearby. I turn just in time to see a firebal
incinerate two people on the far side of the
I blink, disoriented, and watch as about twenty
people emerge from the forest, an actual phalanx of
soldiers. They’re dressed in strange black suits, like
they just came off the set of The Matrix. And they’re
absolutely destroying everything in their path.
Reed sees the carnage and cries out. He looks back
to me. “Get her out of here, now!” And then he holds
out his hands and an enormous blue bubble shoots
across the stage and toward the people emerging
from the trees.
I don’t wait around to see what happens next.
I start running as fast as I can in the opposite
direction, away from the fighting.
Natalia is slung over my shoulder, but she’s not
slowing me down. She doesn’t feel heavy at al , and
I’m running faster than I’ve ever run. Even faster than
the time I was going for the winning touchdown in
that game against Hol iston. That time I had three
linebackers chasing me, and this time I’ve got a
bunch of witches trying to incinerate me.
I blow through the trees. In the distance, I can hear
screams and explosions, like World War I I has
“Cam?” Natalia says.
But I keep running, stil with no voice, stil unable to
answer her, determined to get us back to the car.
But I’m confused about which direction to go, and
whatever that thing was, that strange energy that
al owed me to break those bonds and get free to
help Natalia, is draining from my body.
After another minute of aimless running, I’m total y
spent. I drop down and let Natalia go. She’s
unsteady on her feet and her face is pale. Another
explosion shakes the ground. She gasps and I grab
her hand, motioning toward the forest.
“You stil can’t talk?” she asks.
I shake my head, frustrated.
“Hold on, give me a second.” She closes her eyes
and moves closer to me. I watch her forehead
wrinkle in intense concentration. I feel a warm bubble
up in my throat, and then a second of sharp pain in
“Thanks,” I try, surprised when it real y comes out.
Nat nods in satisfaction. I look around. I don’t see
anyone, but who knows how long that’s going to last.
“And now we need to get out of here.”
“What the hel ’s going on?” she asks.
“One of the guards hit you and knocked you out,” I tel
her. “And while you were unconscious, there was an
attack. A whole army invaded the theatre and started
wiping out everyone in the compound.”
Natalia puts a hand to her mouth. “