Moondancer drake

Author of Multicultural LGBTQ Speculative Fiction

BOOK Two IN THE HEARTBEAT OF THE EARTH SERIES, SECOND EDITION

 

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Excerpt #1

 

Chapter One


SKY BREATHED IN the crisp September air and released the breath in a long, contented sigh. These morning walks were mini sabbaticals for her, much needed time to reflect and to enjoy the connection with the land she was ancestrally bound to protect. The grounds around her family manor house were beautiful this time of year. Rather than the block of concrete and grass patches they’d called a yard back in Milwaukee, her “back yard” now was akin to a city park in size. She walked upon fields of red and white clover rather than grass soaked in chemicals and was surrounded by areas where trees gathered together closely, as if sharing secrets too miraculous for human ears.


She pulled her denim jacket tight around her to hold back the chill as she made her way through a cluster of trees. Autumn leaves coated the ground under the aged oaks, like confetti after a wild party. She chuckled. It’d been wild at least. She never imagined how much their lives would change the day Sky learned an aunt she’d never known left her a manor house in a town that she’d never heard of. Since they moved here to Green Grove a couple months ago their lives were altered in countless ways.


Her son’s transformation was most often prevalent in Sky’s thoughts. Drake was like a different boy. He had always been smart, gifted, but back in Milwaukee he was often frustrated with people who saw only his blindness and pitied him or tried to do everything for him. It wasn’t like that here. His great aunt Zoya loved Drake dearly but didn’t coddle him. In fact, lately, Drake often returned from Zoya’s house exhausted from their magical training sessions and beaming due to some new bit of knowledge he’d discovered. When he wasn’t training with Zoya, Drake now practically lived at the neighborhood community center where his friends treated him like any other 14 year old boy, rather then the “token blind kid”. Drake wasn’t the only one who Zoya’s fierce love and unique wisdom touched deeply. When Sky first moved to the manor it seemed odd to have her aunt living in a house that rested in a far off part of her own immense back yard, but now she found that closeness comforting. Sky knew if it wasn’t for Zoya she’d never have survived her return to Sacru Teren.


“Earth calling, Sky. Care to come and join us mere mortals for a time?”


Sky turned at the deep toned woman’s voice and smiled to see Lilly Segmann leaned against one of the wide oaks, a large, covered, reed basket over her arm. She always thought of Lilly as being more of a handsome woman, rather then what some would call beautiful. Her facial features possessed the same broadness to them as her shoulders, though the angular quality of her cheeks and slightly angled dark eyes made Sky suspect some native ancestry among the black woman’s kin. Lilly’s short, tight-curled hair was dyed a subtle burgundy, which added to the warmth of her brown skin.


“Sorry. I must’ve lost track of the time.” Sky admitted. “Meg let you in?”
“She was heading out to the hardware store as I was coming in so it all worked out.” Lilly breathed deep and closed her eyes. “I’m only ever here anymore during rituals and gatherings. I’d forgotten how the energy of Sacru Teren can fill you up if you let it.”


Sky smiled at the look of contentment on Lilly’s face. “We could work out here if you want.”


Lilly shook her head. “The cold would get us eventually. Besides, today’s your first day of training in Green Witchery. I need to get you used to working with your mothers’ tools. They’re still in the basement work room, right?”


“I think so. Meg mentioned there was some tools in there when she straightened up the room for us.” Sky hated to admit why she hadn’t been down there herself. She rarely went into any basement alone. In fact until she came to Sacru Teren she didn’t know why basements filled her with such fear. Now that Sky knew what happened down there so many years ago she wondered if the knowing would make going into the basement easier or harder.
“Meg mentioned you don’t like basements much, but the workroom is really the best place for these early lessons at least. You going to be okay going down there?”


Sky wanted to say yes, but she knew she couldn’t. “I really don’t know, Lilly. It’s where it happened, not in my mother’s workroom, but down there, in the family temple. Where my parents took my power from me. Until I remembered that night I didn’t even know why basements terrified me. Now? I haven’t been down there since my powers reawakened. I don’t know how I’ll feel.”


Lilly moved away from the tree and came to stand beside Sky. “Your mother was my dearest friend, but I can’t say even to this day I understand why they did what they felt they had to that night. No one could blame you for the fear left behind by such a violation, or the anger.”


“I don’t think I’m angry with them. Not really.” Sky considered this statement as she said it. She hadn’t said those words aloud before now, but she’d thought about her parents and what they did, especially after the attack on Sacru Teren a few weeks ago. What would she be willing to do to protect her own child? Would she go that far? “They were scared. Their home was under attack. They’d already lost a daughter and three sons that night along with my father’s mother. They watched their remaining daughter change, watched their little girl kill people. Who could blame them for freaking out.”


Lilly placed a hand on Sky’s arm. “They didn’t understand what was happening. They didn’t see the spirits of your siblings and grandmother enter you, empower you. It was a hard time then. The war damaged many families, but none of us dreamed the Sect would dare face the keepers of Sacru Teren. When your family left Green Grove we feared our community would never be the same.” She squeezed Sky’s arm. “But now you’re back, with Drake and Meg. Our community can finally heal and be whole again.”

 

Excerpt #2

 

“Look out!”


Sharp pain shot across her chest and Meg was knocked backwards. She fell hard against the sidewalk, still clutching the camera bag in her arms. “What the he—”


Her words were cut short as Meg looked up to see a black semi truck barrel past the spot in the road where she was standing. Fear froze beneath the place in her chest where pain was now fading. Meg heard a familiar voice mutter something unintelligible, and then there was Roger, kneeling next to her.


“Are you hurt?” His eyes darted over her, searching for injury. “Leave it to one of those Delilah guys to run a light like that. And with no officers around, too. Figures.”


A discordant ringing cut through the air and soon Sanya was crouched at Meg’s other side. “What happened?”


“I…I wasn’t paying attention. It was an accident.” Meg tried to stand but both Roger and Sanya grabbed a shoulder and forced her back down.


Roger’s gaze meet Sanya’s over Meg's head. “It was one of the drivers from the factory on Redcap. I saw him run the light as I was coming out of the music store. I’m just glad I got here in time.”


“You and me both.” Sanya squeezed Meg’s shoulder, her voice quivering. “Everything all in one piece?”


Meg frantically unlatched the camera bag and then sighed in relief as she saw the contents were spared. “Yep. Nothing broken.”


Sanya laughed and rolled her eyes. “I meant you, not the camera.”


“Sorry if I hit you too hard. I guess I panicked.” Roger grinned sheepishly as he and Sanya helped Meg to her feet. “Been at least three near misses in the past five years with those guys and two casualties that the Tribunal is certain can be attributed to them, but they can’t prove anything. Not yet, anyway.”


Meg pulled her arm away from Roger’s grasp and looked down the road in the direction the truck went She owed him her life, again, and she wasn’t sure she liked that. It was his skill that saved her a few weeks ago after the shooting, and now here he was playing the hero. The idea of owing the man a debt rubbed her the wrong way. “What factory, and how long have these accidents been happening?”


Sanya looked in the direction the truck came from. “It’s called Delilah’s Beauty Inc. They supply cosmetics and hair products throughout the Conclave controlled providences to some of the fancier salons. I wouldn’t call their products earth friendly, but they pass the minimum Conclave standards so not much we can do.”
Roger’s voice took on an angry growl that surprised Meg. “The corporation is controlled by three of the most influential families in Green Grove. The Eichmanns, the Holetzs, and the Donaldsons.”


“The Donaldsons?” Meg hands drew into fists. The two Donaldson boys were the reason she’d needed Roger’s skill in the first place. One of them was the man who shot her and Jewel, and far as she’d heard, the Tribunal had yet to pick the two of them up on charges. “I thought you all said the Donaldsons were Sect.”


“They are.” Roger took a deep breath and the anger in his tone faded. “We’re pretty sure all three of these families are deep into Sect business, but they own so much stock and power in this town, proving it’d be damn difficult. The Sect are most dangerous because they’re hard to pin down, there even more of a threat because many of the Conclave have stopped taking them seriously.”


Sanya nodded in agreement. “That’s the trouble. Except for rumors, no one is ever able to prove the Sect are responsible for most of the strange accidents that happen in the Conclave cities, or even places outside our control. There are even many people in the Conclave that don’t believe the Sect even exists anymore.”


Meg brushed herself off. She didn’t know what to think. Could all of this be true, or were people reading too much into careless behaviors or freak accidents? If these people were really fighting the Sect all this time, that could certainly account for suspicion and jumpiness. If she’d been watching where she was going rather than daydreaming, all this would never have happened.


“Listen, I’ve got to go.” Meg forced a smile to show them she was fine. The concern on their faces didn’t seem lessened by the gesture. “Thanks. I guess I’ll see you two later.”


Meg turned her back on the two in hopes of forestalling anymore conversation on secret plots or hidden agendas. This time she was careful to check for traffic before she crossed to her van. Sure, the Donaldsons were horrible people if those brothers were any example of the family genes, but a magical conspiracy? That idea was too frightening to even think of. Either way all she wanted to do was get home and back to her family.