As promised, when "The Spirit" hit 20 reviews on Amazon, I'm posting chapter one of book #2, "The Body" due out later this fall! Enjoy!!
The town square was deserted. Football Friday night had a tendency to do that to Villisca, tonight especially, being the first round of playoffs.
I adjusted my scarf and peered over at Lucas behind the wheel. He grinned, his glowing green eyes shining back at me.
Windows to the soul, indeed.
Turning his attention to the park in the middle of town, he slammed on the brakes. I threw my hands out in front of me, using the dashboard to block my lurch.
“Lucas!” I cried out.
He didn’t answer.
My gaze teetered to him, my voice low, confused. “Lucas?”
Eyes still locked on something outside the Jeep, he shook his head. “Uh, nothing. Never mind.
“No,” I said, grabbing his hand. No way he’d stop the car for “uh, nothing.” I knew him better than that. “What did you see?"
Lucas looked at me, grazing the tip of his tongue over his lip. Surely he couldn’t be considering hanging onto this lie.
“What is it?” I repeated.
“I thought I saw—”
“No. Something else.”
I studied him for a second, worried. “What color was the aura?”
Please say it’s not that.
He hesitated, his eyes shifting out the window again.
My stomach dropped. Sometimes, I hated being right.
“Black,” he answered. “Look, Carrie, since August, since what happened, I’ve been a little on edge. I thought I saw the glow, but I didn’t. It’s gone.”
“Black? Is that a—”
“A Soulless One. Cambion. Half-demon, yes.”
“It wasn’t one, though.” Slight irritation crept into his tone. “Cambions have bodies. They don’t disappear into thin air. I’m just being paranoid."
I laughed, releasing my sudden tight grip on him and choosing to ignore his moment of impatience. “Being paranoid is my thing. You need to stick to your thing.”
Lucas smiled, his lone dimple sinking into his cheek. “And what is my thing?”
“Um … being hot and sexy?” I asked because I didn’t think he’d agree with me.
He snickered, the sound making my heart twirl inside my chest. “Right. The dead guy as the epitome of sexiness? I doubt it."
“Dead boyfriends are all the rage in Europe,” I teased. “Everyone has one.”
“That’ll be the day,” he said, taking one last glimpse out the window before inching the Jeep forward.
Lucas and I sat on the bleachers, me wrapped up inside my new bubble coat, shivering from the cold. My boyfriend wasn’t much help, and by the look on his face, my discomfort was killing him—well, figuratively.
“I can go grab a blanket from home and be back in five seconds flat,” he said, giving me a onceover.
“Being warm defeats the purpose of an outside football game in November, doesn’t it?” I grinned. “At least around here.”
He wasn’t smiling. “Say the word, and I’m gone. It’ll be like I never left.”
“Sit back and enjoy the game, will you? I’m fine.”
Lucas glared at me. I glared back harder until I started giggling. Finally, the corner of his lips tugged upward, and he relaxed. Threading my gloved fingers through his bare ones, I pulled him to my side. I loved having him close. If only he could feel me like I felt him.
He shook his head. “I’ll only make you colder.”
I yanked again. “I don’t care. I want you here,” I said, emphasizing my point by patting my hip.
In the last few months, I’d gotten used to the chills he sent through me. Those tiny tingles that spread goose bumps over my skin were the same ones that made my heart fly high. Under the glow of the stadium, his eyes glistened like two emeralds. I watched as he pushed his hand through his dark hair, the short locks falling over each other. Man, he was gorgeous.
The roar of the crowd brought me out of my reverie. Lucas and I jumped to our feet—okay, I jumped, Lucas eventually stood up—with everyone else, cheering. Villisca’s defense ran off the field after a blocked field goal. Being a life-long football fan, close games always fired me up. I shot Mike a thumbs-up as he led his offense out from the sidelines. He couldn’t see me, but later when he asked, I wouldn’t have to lie.
I glanced at the scoreboard. Two minutes left in the third quarter: Villisca up by six. Captain Mike Carson needed to make some magic happen to win by three TD’s—his personal goal for this game
I shivered again. Lucas’s eyes cut to me, two sets of dark lashes kissing each other. He frowned and opened his mouth to say something.
I pressed my index finger to his lips. “Nope. Not a word.”
Sitting back down on the bleachers, I noted a group of girls snickering by the fence line below us. They nodded at Lucas, and couple of them flashed him a seductive grin and waggled their fingers at him.
Seriously? I’m sitting right here!
I sighed and scooted a little closer to him.
Maybe I should sit on his lap…
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Lucas asked.
I leaned my head on his shoulder. “More staring."
He kissed my head. “Why does it bother you so much? You know I don’t care if they think—what did you say earlier? I’m hot and sexy?” He chuckled at the look I shot him. “All that matters is what you think … which is?”
He knew. Oh, he so knew.
“I think that they should be wildly jealous of me. I have the perfect boyfriend.”
“Eh, perfect might be pushing it. Extraordinary.”
I rolled my eyes. Why did he always have to bring that up?
“Really though, why does it bother you?” Lucas asked, sweeping two fingers down my cheek. I hoped the girls were watching. “Are you jealous?”
I made a face at him. “Maybe a little.”
“I’m yours. And because I don’t have a heart to offer, you can have my soul.”
“Easy to say when you don’t know where it is,” I teased.
I snuggled up to him. “What happened with Megan this week? Any news on the search?”
Megan was the witch that worked with me at my grandma’s antique store all summer. Though, I didn’t know she was a witch until a few months ago. Now, she was at college in Iowa City and training with her witch-aunts in her spare time.
Lucas took a quick survey of the field. “Megan’s tried a tracking spell, a memory potion, several charms—nothin’. If only I could remember something—anything—it would help.”
I grimaced. “Uh, you’re letting a witch-in-training give you potions?”
“Care,” he said, hugging me to him, “she can’t hurt me. Besides, she’s getting pretty good.
The officials blew their whistles, indicating the end of the third quarter. I clapped along with the crowd. Mike said he loved hearing when the fans were enthusiastic.
At the start of the fourth, East Union ran the ball—or tried to. Villisca’s defense blocked like they’d studied from their opponents offensive playbook. Clearly, Mike’s hard work analyzing film with the team was paying off. I’d hardly seen him outside of class.
I sat back down, leaning against Lucas who had remained seated, frowning. I couldn’t figure out why, but I braved the next question anyway. “Has Susan been replaced yet?” I asked, my voice cracking a little.
Despite what Megan and Lucas said, I had a hand in the town necromancer’s death. We all did. Granted, the escaped demons of Lot 310 did the pushing, but if it weren’t for us, Villisca would still have a necromancer to direct the ever-present influx of spirits. Now, Vanessa Miller, Megan’s mom, and Lucas had to deal with them all.
Lucas sighed, and I couldn’t help wonder what filtered through his mind. “No. Not yet. It’s strange, though. According to Megan, a replacement necromancer coming to town doesn’t usually take this long.”
I swallowed the guilt-induced lump in my throat. “Why is it, then?"
“Could be any reason. The chosen one isn’t in town yet. Or not of age. Or is still being trained.”
“Yeah, you lost me.”
Lucas scanned over the crowd before answering. “Necros need training, like witches. They have the abilities they need, but somehow those abilities have to surface.”
“A Necro gets some sort of supernatural calling though, right?”
Lucas shrugged. “Supposed to.”
“What happens when someone gets the call?”
When he didn’t answer, I lifted my eyes to him. He seemed lost in thought, his lips forming a hard line.
I nudged him. “Hey.”
“Yes?” he said as if he hadn’t heard my question.
“What happens when someone gets the call to be a necromancer?” I repeated.
“I don’t know. I guess it might be different for everyone.”
All of a sudden, the East Union fans exploded into cheers. Great. Just great. The opposing team scored with a forty-one yard option pitch out. I slumped against Lucas’s wool coat. A long, white cloud billowed out of my mouth.
“Blanket option is still available,” Lucas reminded me.
“Still ignoring you,” I said, eyeing him and taking the last sip of hot chocolate he’d bought at halftime. I set the empty Styrofoam cup on the floor, then accidently kicked it under the bleachers. Oops.
I watched Mike run out with the kick return team. Again, I shot him a thumbs-up that he wouldn’t see. Why he asked me to do it was beyond me, but I always did.
With the score tied up, I cheered along with the cheerleaders.
“LET’S GO BLUE JAYS, LET’S GO!”
On the fourth round of cheers, with a lot of prodding from me, Lucas reluctantly stood up. He offered me a small grin, as if he hadn’t just been spacing off again. What he had or hadn’t seen earlier in the park was probably still on his mind.
We were here to cheer on Mike, and I wasn’t about to let Mr. Distracted stop me.
I squinted until I found Mike on the thirty-one yard line. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have Lucas’s eyesight! The intensity of close games always made me a little nervous for him.
For good measure, I did another thumbs-up.
After a short huddle, the offense broke and set up for the next play, which gained only two yards. I bit my nails over my gloves and bounced on the balls of my feet.
Lucas grabbed my wrist. “Stop it. Mike will pull it out, Care. He always does.”
Oh, so now he’s paying attention?
“Yeah, I hope so. He said some college scouts would be here. He needs this.”
Team captains, Mike and Logan, lined up the players again—the same I-formation Coach was so fond of. Mike moved to the left end, opposite his usual position. Our quarterback, Logan, took the snap and handed the ball off to Brandon. Mike circled back and took the hand-off in a reverse. Then he ran behind Brandon and moved quickly to the middle where the defense had left a gaping hole.
I bit down on the top of my gloves enough to feel it on my fingers. Sometimes I wished I didn’t know so much about the game and the dangers it could pose. My dad’s football career had ended at the University of Texas after a serious knee injury took him out. To this day, it gives him trouble.
The defensive tackle broke free of Villisca’s guard and took off toward Mike. From his position, there was no way Mike could see him coming. Nor would he see the other defensive lineman push through the stronghold of his teammates.
I sucked in a mouthful of cold air and held it. It always put me on edge when Mike got tackled. So far, he’d always jumped back up, ready to start the next play.
But this time was different.
The two East Union players collided with Mike from both sides. Next to me, I felt Lucas’s body go rigid. He’d seen it clearly, and his posture scared me. I stared at him, eyes wide with fear.
“Lucas, what happened?”
He didn’t reply, his eyes focused on the field.
Oh, God! He’s not even pretending to breathe!
“Lucas, talk to me. What’s going on?”
Without waiting for an answer, I followed his gaze back onto the field. The East Union players were already on their feet, high-fiving each other for reading the play and for the subsequent tackle. Mike still didn’t move.
Coach Morrison rushed out and knelt beside his team captain. Then he signaled the ambulance. Red and blue lights lit up the stadium. A quiet hush fell over the crowd. No one moved.
“Lucas,” I whispered, clutching his coat.
Quickly, I searched the crowd until I found Mike’s parents and little sister, Mandy. She sat on her mom’s lap while her dad made his way down the bleachers. He crossed the track and ran to his son’s side.
“No,” Lucas mumbled, his pupils expanding over green irises.
My mouth went dry. I’d heard that tone in Lucas’s voice before, and I didn’t like it.
After a while, heads lifted upward toward the sky as the sound of blades slashed through the air. I covered my mouth, following the helicopter as it landed on the football field.
I jerked on Lucas’s arm, forcing him to face at me. “Just tell me. Please.”
Lucas’s hand grazed over my cheek.
Is Mike breathing?
“Barely,” Lucas murmured.
“You asked if he was still breathing, and I said—”
I shook my head. “No, I didn’t ask that.”
Lucas pulled his hand away from my skin and examined it, concerned. “You didn’t say anything?”
His lips twitched as he studied me for a moment. Cautiously, he placed his palm back on my face.
What’s he doing?
I turned back to the field and gasped. What I saw, I shouldn’t have seen. I was only human with no supernatural abilities.
Silver mist, clear as the Caribbean, began to rise out of Mike’s body.
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