Today, I’m going to share the very beginning of something I’ve been working on recently. You guessed right, it’s Enticing Darkness, book #2 in “The Dark Chronicles”! It’s still in the rough stages because I’ve been in Writer’s Purgatory for so long, but still, I hope you enjoy.
I knocked on the door harder than I’d meant to, and Dale answered wearing an indignant and then questioning look. “Kota, is there something wrong?” he asked.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I didn’t mean to knock that hard.” I entered the room as Dale moved aside and plopped down in one of the chairs in the small sitting area.
“What idiot made you mad?” Diane asked when she saw me.
“Louis,” I said and she nodded like she wasn’t surprised. “But I don’t want to talk about him. I wanted to ask if you guys wanted to go out and have a little more fun before we left, but if you’re not packed…”
“Oh we’re almost done,” Johanna said as she threw a few more things into one of the bags. She smiled and added, “Just give us, like, five minutes.”
“Okay,” I said and returned the smile. Good. “And you know, Sue was in a really bad mood too, I mean worse than usual.”
“Well yeah, her boyfriend just dumped her and ran without saying goodbye,” Dale said, looking at me like I should know this. “I’m surprised she even opened the door for you.”
“What? Ivan didn’t even tell her he was leaving?!” I sat up.
“You didn’t know that?” I shook my head. “Oh, well yeah, that prick just left without saying anything. None of them said anything to anyone – except you.”
“No wonder,” I said. That completely explained her behavior.
He nodded, then added, “Yeah, so now she thinks you were in on it or something.” I looked at him in confusion. “She thinks you knew they were leaving and didn’t tell her on purpose or something. She thinks there’s something you’re not telling her.”
Well there is, I thought, but opted for saying, “Well I did know they were leaving, but I didn’t know they didn’t tell anyone else – and I definitely didn’t know Ivan didn’t tell Sue… And she told you all this?”
“Well, uuuss,” he clarified, nodding toward Johanna and Diane.
“I’m sure she’ll calm down after a while,” Johanna said, shoving some more things into their already over-stuffed bags.
“Yeah, you’ll probably just have to explain that you didn’t know Ivan didn’t tell her,” Diane added.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “I don’t know why he wouldn’t have told her.”
“Well, if I ever see him again I’ll find out and then beat him for it,” Dale said.
I guess it’s a good thing they’re never coming back then, I thought.
“So, what did Louis do, exactly?” Dale prodded, sliding into another empty chair opposite me. I explained what happened and he smirked. “So you were eavesdropping.”
“Noo I wasn’t. I just explained that he was almost loud enough for the entire hall to hear, so how is that eavesdropping?”
“Excuses,” he smirked and rolled his eyes.
“You know what? You’re not helping me right now.”
“―Let’s go!” Johanna announced, almost cutting me off and stopping Dale from whatever he was about to say. She shot him a stern look and then smiled at me, leading the way out the door with Dale closing it behind us.
We left the hotel and started down the street towards the beach where some of the festivities had been going on. The bustle of everything and trying to keep moving forward without losing the others helped me concentrate on something other than the things that had been plaguing me, then as we got closer to the beach we noticed there was another party going on. This one seemed more of a personal celebration than an official event, possibly an engagement party?
Whatever it was, it seemed like they were greeting everyone with a glass of wine and inviting them to join in. Before I knew it, we’d been steered into the crowded veranda with wine glasses insistently pressed into our hands. We all shared glances and I shrugged. I hadn’t expected this to happen, but it was actually just the sort of thing I’d wanted to find. All the activity going on, the wine, and the food were all the perfect mix to distract me for a while. I’d been hoping to find just such a thing, seemingly a festival on a smaller scale, to have some last hours of fun before going back home to my boring life.
We slipped past people towards the center where the laughs, shouts, and music were loudest. There was dancing going on, and as I was tapping and nodding with the beat, a guy came up and held out his hand. He said something in Italian, then nodded towards the dancing. I raised my glass to indicate I wasn’t finished, so he then asked Diane, who winked at me and handed me her glass before jumping out onto the dance floor with him. We all laughed.
I wanted to get a bit more loose, so I finished my glass and Diane’s, then let myself be pulled out onto the floor. I pushed everything that was bothering me away, all the images of Rudi ripping the Peters apart piece by piece, then coming to kill me too… all of them giving me hugs and Connelly promising he’d see me again, even mine and Connelly’s last dance together, I pushed it all away. I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t break down like Sue, because that’s just not how I was, but also because if I did let it get to me, I might let something secret slip out accidentally and I couldn’t let that happen. Keeping the secret of why they truly left, all of the secrets I’d come to keep from my friends about them created a bigger sense of guilt than I’d expected, which only continued to grow now that Sue’s mother had been killed.
The only way I couldn’t break down was to push it away, distance myself from it as much as possible, and now that they were really gone I could do one better… I could never think about it again. I guess that’s one good thing that came out of them leaving, I thought as I was twirled around and around. Now I know everyone’s safe. That was one good thing about having a normally boring life. It was a safe life.
At the end of the song, I broke away from my partner to find a bite to eat from the wonderfully smelling spread they had laid out. In doing so, I spotted Louis off to the side, still looking moody and texting someone on his phone. Despite my better judgment, I walked over. “What are you doing here?”
“I finished packing,” he said gruffly. “I, uh, wanted to say sorry for shutting the door in your face earlier.”
I peeked at him while taking a bite of some bruschetta. “It’s okay, and I’m sorry about listening in on your conversation. I really didn’t mean to.”
“Yeah, they were just making me mad is all.” He shrugged.
“Well it must’ve been really mad, because I’ve never seen you act like that before.”
“Okay, well that doesn’t mean I wanna talk about it with you,” he said sharply. “So stop pushing it.”
“I wasn’t trying – ” I stopped myself and shook my head, both because I was through with this conversation and because I was suddenly feeling a little sick to my stomach. “Did you just come here to ruin my last few hours?”
“I thought that would’ve already been ruined by your boyfriend and his family leaving, but I guess not.” he said, then made a face like he realized what he’d just said.
“You are such an asshole,” I said, fixing him with a glare before storming off. I zigged and zagged through the crowd in case he tried following me. I couldn’t believe he’d just said that, and it wasn’t normal for him to be so harsh. He was definitely acting weird, but whatever was making him upset gave him no right to take it out on everyone else.
I stopped moving through the crowd and sipped my new glass, looking around. That was the second time someone mentioned thinking I should be acting different since the Peters left. Was I acting weird? Was it me and not them that had the problem? I was sad, upset, and angry that they had to leave, but I’d seen it coming longer than anyone else. Ugh, this was not how I wanted to feel right now, so I put down my glass and found my partner again before the start of the next song.
We were just starting to dance to the next song when I had a sudden feeling of light-headedness. I blinked several times and turned my head, realizing too late that had been a huge mistake. The world tipped on its side, then swayed to the other side like I was on a big boat fighting off waves. I stumbled and nearly fell before my partner caught me, bringing me to the side of the dancing circle.
Nausea welled inside me as the dizzy feeling intensified; I felt suddenly hot all over and started breathing heavy, feeling bile rise in my throat. “Kota?” Dale asked, rushing over to me. “Are you okay?” He was looking me over for wounds, but as Johanna and Diane approached behind him everything I was feeling doubled. Bright flashes exploded behind my eyes, blinding me and making everything around me seem too intensely vibrant and sharp. I groaned in pain and Dale hauled me up, taking me to the outskirts of the crowd where I puked.
“Kota, what are you doing?” Dale asked, because I was looking around in confusion and blinking wildly.
“I don’t know, everything is like – rippling or something.” I said, and saw Johanna and Diane share a worried look. There was a burning sensation at my wrist and I looked down to where my bracelet was on my arm. It was so hot it was almost burning me.
“Come on, let’s get her back to the hotel,” Diane said as Johanna pulled out her phone.
Dale hauled me up, careful to keep my mouth pointed away from him, and we started through the crowd back towards the street.
Louis met us halfway through and looked bewildered. “What happened?”
He started quickly towards me, but as he did my symptoms exploded, my bracelet’s heat seared my arm and I blacked out. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in my room in bed, Amelia sitting beside me. “What…” I started saying, then stopped because my throat was extremely dry and my mouth tasted awful.
“It’s alright,” she said, “Dale carried you back here and they explained what happened.” She handed me a small to-go coffee cup with water that I gladly accepted and sipped on.
“I’d like you to tell me what happened exactly,” she said.
“I thought you just said they did,” I said after clearing my throat.
“Yes, but I need you to tell me in your own words, and try to be as specific as possible.” I opened my mouth to ask, but she added, “It’s important.”
So I explained everything as best I could. “― and that’s the last thing I remember.”
She pressed her lips together and said, “Hmm…”
In that moment of her thinking, I just happened to look down and notice that Connelly’s bracelet was gone, and in its place was a deep red welt-ring around my wrist. “Hey – did Connelly’s bracelet do this?”
“Yes,” she said, nodding slowly and watching me. “Kota, I have something to tell you.”
“What?” I asked, feeling suddenly tense. “Did someone do something to me – like poison me? Is that why my bracelet got so hot?”
“No, no one tried to poison you,” she said with a small smile, “It’s just – I don’t know how to tell you this, or if I’m even the one who should be telling you. I know I’m not.”
“Amelia,” I said desperate to know something already, “You’re the only one I can trust now, and not to be dramatic, but this is starting to freak me out, so just tell me. Please.”
She sighed. “Okay… I’m just going to come out and say it.” She took my hand and looked me dead in the eye. “You’re a witch.”
“What?” I asked, but she kept talking.
“Someone had your powers bound, and it must’ve been when you were little if you don’t remember ever having powers, but something has happened and the spell has been severely weakened, probably from everything you’re likely feeling from Connelly and the others leaving. I’m not sure what it all means, but we need to be careful. With this much power pouring out of you, it’s bound to attract attention and cause damage.”
“Who would do this?” I asked after a minute, trying to let everything sink in.
“I don’t know, but I’d start by asking Johanna and Diane, because it’s more than likely that they know what’s going on.”
“Really? You think they’re helping whoever bound me?” I asked.
She shook her head slightly. “I don’t know, I really don’t. But this much power, it could really only come from one place… family.” I looked at her in bewilderment and confusion. “Your parents, grandparents…”
I gasped. “My Grandma Tonie always said she was a witch, and she’s really sick right now – like she might die soon. Do you think she could’ve…?” I covered my mouth and tried to keep tears from rising.
“Maybe not,” she said quickly, rubbing my hand in an effort to sooth me. “We don’t know anything right now, but it’ll all get figured out soon. I promise.”