The eBook release for Dark Dealings is right around the corner! On May 23rd, it will be available on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords (for all other e-readers). I am currently working on a print version through CreateSpace and expect an update on when that will be available soon. I found CreateSpace interior formatting to be fairly straightforward. Setting up the cover,however, is a challenge. I would welcome any advice I can get.
I find it fun and ironic that Dark Dealings will release around the same time as the Dark Shadows movie. Those who know me can tell you that Dark Shadows is a large part of the root of my fascination with paranormals.
A few weeks ago I posted the first chapter of Dark Dealings for your enjoyment. Today, I want to whet your appetite some more with the second chapter.
What is Dark Dealings?
At thirteen, Micaela was found wandering an Irish pasture after a mid-air explosion. Now, a successful investment banker, she discovers Wall Street has real fangs and claws. When international power brokers, creatures hiding in plain sight, threaten her and those she loves, will this heiress to a Druid legacy deny her power and let loved ones die again? A global thriller of money, monsters and murder.
For your reading pleasure: Chapter 2
Una and Mrs. Ryan disappeared down the path, leaves swirled around their feet. Micaela pulled the sweater around herself in an attempt to chase away a chill that came from inside. She had never tried to call the knowing, in fact just the opposite. She had worked hard to block the images. Now, when she needed them, would they come? If they did, could she put them away later?
Samhain and a full moon. If she could believe the stories, tonight was her best shot to make the visions happen, not just let them happen. It had started with the brief vision of Reece. Hugging Peggy opened the door a crack, so contact was important. She couldn’t touch Peggy again. The poor thing was swamped by emotions and hormones. Maybe Adam; he’d been on the mountain with Reece. Would he cooperate or shut down? Well, he'd asked for her help. As she crossed the threshold into the kitchen, she thought: that’ll teach him.
Adam stood over the sink washing dishes and strategizing with the other searchers. She crooked her finger at him to follow her outside.
“What’s up, Micaela?” He eased the screen door closed behind him.
“I’m not sure how to start this conversation without sounding like a lunatic. I’ve worked years to avoid what I’m about to say and do.”
“Spit it out. Our families have known each other for generations, you can trust us. You can trust me.”
Micaela stared out into the oaks. “Things were said about me when I was a teenager…. I was different, I saw things.”
“I was little, but I kind of remember. Is that what Peg was talking about?”
“I thought it was gone. That I’d outgrown it. That I could be like everyone else.”
“But something happened in there.” Adam made it sound more like a statement than a question.
“I've opened Pandora’s Box. But if I can help find Reece, I can’t close it now.”
Adam leaned on the porch railing. She watched the emotions play across his face. His eyes lost focus and he seemed to go somewhere inside.
“Micaela, I understand, more than you know, what we’re asking of you. We’ve looked for Reece for hours. Time’s running out.” His eyes were haunted. His voice was barely a whisper. “It was my idea to go out tonight. I said it would be easy to hunt by the light of the full moon. Reece didn’t think we should ignore the Elders.”
“I can’t guarantee anything, Adam.”
“But you’ll try, that’s all that matters.” He pushed off the porch rail and faced her. “Tell me what you need.”
“I’m not entirely sure. For starters, I think we should sit, in case someone passes out.” She moved to the bottom step. After the dizziness brought on by her brief contact with Peggy’s mind, she didn’t want too far to go if she went down.
“Now what?” Adam sat beside her.
“Take my hands.” They faced each other. His large hands swallowed hers in their grip.
At first nothing happened. Micaela struggled for a way into the vision. What happened in the kitchen had been so sudden and violent. She had been overwhelmed by the emotions. That was it --- Peggy’s strong feelings acted as a trigger. It must have been Reece’s own emotions that brought the vision on the highway. Micaela would have to ask Adam to relive the event and the sensations. She wished she could protect him from them, but she didn’t know how.
“Adam, I need you to think about the last time you saw Reece, about what happened up on the mountain.” And I need to stop resisting, she thought, for now.
He chewed his lower lip, his dark eyebrows knit together. Micaela exhaled and focused on releasing the stress in her shoulder. She opened herself to the magic. Images slammed into her. She could see through Adam’s eyes. She was Adam.
Reece and the other four men headed into the woods. The temperature dropped as the sun set. She reached beyond their muted voices. The forest air filled with the hoot of an owl, the skitter of small feet, the final screech of a small rodent, and the snap of branches as larger things moved.
Adam signaled to Reece that Henry had spotted a six point buck. She felt Adam’s confusion turn to concern when Reece wasn’t bringing up the rear as usual. Adam retraced his steps. At first he scanned the path, then whispered Reece’s name, no reason to spook the buck. But another noise and a different scent drove the buck deeper into the woods. Silence was no longer necessary.
The men called out to Reece, but there was no answer. They retraced their steps but couldn’t pick up Reece’s trail. Micaela needed to get past what Adam saw and to Reece’s vision. She would not leave another child fatherless. How could she find Reece without touching him? Then, in Adam’s memory, a gift from the gods, Adam found Reece’s rifle at the edge of the path and picked it up. The same rifle he’d used since he was a teenager. The stock of the gun was infused with Reece’s sweat, his skin cells, and his energy. Micaela followed the energy into Reece’s mind. Chaotic images flooded her. The part of her that was separate and logical hoped Adam couldn’t see what she saw.
The hand clamped over her mouth was barely human and covered with hair or fur that scratched her face. No, not hers… Reece’s mouth. She struggled to keep her mind apart from Reece’s. She sensed danger if she was sucked in too far. Reece fought back against the beast until it dropped him to the ground. A blow to his head left Reece dazed. The creature dragged him into the forest, threw him over its shoulder, or maybe its back, Micaela wasn’t sure, it didn't feel like it walked upright. The image was lost. Reece had blacked out.
Every nerve in her body strained to regain the thread of contact. If she didn’t, Reece was lost. I don’t know how to do this, I’m not strong enough, she cried out to the darkness in her mind.
Voices chanting seeped into her from beyond the blackness. Barely audible at first, they grew louder. She heard the crackling of a fire. Una whispered through her mind, “We are here. We will help you until you can make the journey alone.”
A new image appeared. Adam was gone, the others were gone. She stood alone outside Joshua’s Cave. They had played as children in this cave tucked into the side of a ravine. As she walked in, a low moan reached her ears. She knew she hadn’t left the porch, yet she felt the mat of pine needles under her bare feet. Where had she lost her shoes? She reached out to touch the damp moss covered rock, her hand passed through it.
Another moan. She couldn’t see more than a few inches ahead. In the darkness she'd never find Reece or know if the beast was still here. She held her hand out again in what she knew was a futile grope in the dark. This time a small glowing orb formed in her palm. She curled her fingers around the edges of the softball-sized object. It was bright but cool to the touch. It allowed her to see several yards out. In the light, she saw Reece naked and propped against the rough cave wall; his head lolled to one side. His torn and bloody clothes were scattered around the cave. She could smell the air; it reeked of blood and beneath it the musky scent of sex. A new vision of what had already occurred materialized before her. A vision within a vision. Whatever it was stalked into the cave with the unconscious Reece. The beast was definitely female, but more wolf than human. Unable to stop what she saw, Micaela screamed in frustration.
The beast stripped away Reece’s clothes, inflicting the first set of wounds. Reece jolted from unconsciousness and he tried to scramble away. The wolf creature overpowered him and began to use its hand-paw to arouse him enough to force him into her. It made a sound that was a cross between a hum and a growl. It sounded like a chant. Reece’s eyes glazed over and he stopped struggling. Had the beast somehow gained control of his mind? The beast mounted him and ground itself into him until he climaxed. Micaela watched helplessly. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
Reece regained awareness. His face twisted in horror and rage as he swung at the she-wolf. She lunged at him again, this time clamping her jaw into his shoulder. He brought his knees to his chest and kicked up with his two feet to gain leverage. She lost her grip and staggered back. She howled, a furious sound, and slashed at him, tearing into his chest and flinging him against the cave wall. Without a further glance at him, the creature turned and left the cave. The air shimmered and Micaela was back in her original vision of Reece dying in the cave.
Reece’s eyes fluttered open. “Micaela?”
“You can see me?” If he could, there was hope. She smiled at him.
“I never thought you’d be the last face I saw.” Reece’s skin was pale, almost translucent.
“You are not dying.” She hoped she sounded optimistic. Two of his ribs jutted out from under the torn chest muscle.
“Could have fooled me.” He coughed out a laugh. Blood sprayed from his lips as he struggled for air.
“Hang on, please.”
“Don’t tell Peggy what the she-wolf did to me. Peg doesn’t understand the power your totem animal can have over you. How it can make you do things.” Reece squeezed his eyes shut.
“I won’t. I know how hard these things are to explain.” She tried to reach out and take his hand, but like the wall her hand passed through his.
His voice was a broken whisper. “I know you two aren’t close anymore, but promise me you will tell Peg that she’s the only one I ever loved.”
“Tell her yourself. No child should grow up without a parent.”
“Child? Peggy’s pregnant?” A red-tinged tear trickled down Reece’s cheek.
“Yes. Hang on, I’m going for help.”
“I’ll try to be here when you get back.” His head slumped forward.
Copyright 2012 Karen Smith Published my permission by Three Worlds Productions LLC