Rising Darkness (Game of Shadows #1)

Rising Darkness (Game of Shadows #1)
Thea Harrison

Chapter One

TERROR WAS THE color of crimson. It had a copper taste like arterial blood.

The criminal has escaped and left our world.

She stood beside her mate in a circle of seven. Their combined energies shone like a supernova. Dread darkened the group’s colors. Their leader’s grief and outrage was a smear of gray and black.

The change in her mate was that of a warrior rousing from sleep. She felt her own energy resonate to his, ringing like strained crystal.

We must find a way to stop him, or he will do untold damage.

All seven committed to the task and said good-bye to their home. They would never be able to return. With power and arcane fire, their leader prepared a potion from which they must drink in order to transform and travel to a strange world.

Her mate confronted his final moments with strength and courage. As his beautiful eyes closed, he promised, I will see you soon.

They had fit together with such perfection. They had been born at the same moment and had journeyed through life together, contrast and confluence, two interlocking pieces that sustained and balanced each other.

But no matter how connected they were in life, they each had to cross that midnight bridge on their own. Her energy bled ribbons of bright red as she faced the final moments of the only life she had known.

She tried to reply to him, but the poison had already disconnected her from her physical body. She sent him one last shining pulse of love and faith as darkness descended.

She had died such a long time ago.

Thousands of years ago.

Wait. What?


Mary flung out a hand and cracked her knuckles against something hard. Pain shot up her arm.

She surged upright and wobbled where she sat. Shards of color surrounded her, like fractured pieces from the ruins of a stained-glass window. After several uncomprehending moments, she realized where she was. She was sprawled on her bed in a chaotic nest made up of her comforter, pillows, a pile of her clothes and scraps of material.

Her heart erupted into a conga drum medley then slowed to a more normal tempo. Her head, not so much. It pulsed with a steady throb of pain.

The bedside clock read 6:30 A.M. For Christ’s sake. She’d only gotten home five hours ago. Her ER shift had been twenty-six hours long. It had involved a five-car accident and two gunshot victims, one of whom, a seventeen-year-old single mother, had died.

She thought of her dream and the criminal that the creatures had pursued. Sweat broke out as dread, mingled with a sense of unspeakable loss, ricocheted through her body with the intensity of a menopausal hot flash.

Some people played golf in their downtime, or went hiking or took aerobic classes. She dreamed of rainbow-pulsing creatures that drank poison Kool-Aid in some kind of bizarre suicide pact. Was that better or worse than dreaming of the gunshot victims?

She sucked air into constricted lungs. Maybe she shouldn’t try to answer that question right now.

Something stuck to her face. Her fingers quested across her skin. She pulled a scrap of cloth from her cheek and stared at it. The cloth had a blue and green paisley design.

A blurred memory surfaced, like the smear of color atop an oil-slicked roadside puddle.

She had found the cloth a couple of days ago in a clearance bin at the fabric store, and she was planning to incorporate it into the pattern of her next quilt. Still wound up from her overlong work shift when she had gotten home, she had released some of her nervous energy by doing household chores. She had fallen asleep in the middle of folding laundry.

Adrenaline had destroyed any chance of her getting back to sleep. Dragging herself off the rumpled bed, she yanked at her wrinkled T-shirt and shorts. She attempted to finger-comb her hair, which crackled with electricity. The tangled curls coaxed fingers into blind alleys and dead ends. Her shoulder-length tawny strands hinted at a mixed-race ancestry and were so thick and wavy she had to keep them layered by necessity.

At present her hair seemed to have more energy than she did. She gave up trying to untangle the mess. It sprawled across her shoulders unconquered, a wild lion’s mane.

She scooped up her house keys and sunglasses on the hall table, slipped on tennis shoes and grabbed a hooded sweatshirt. In less than a minute, she was outside in the early warm spring morning. Bright sunshine stabbed at her before she slipped on her sunglasses.

She lived in an ivory tower near a place she had privately nicknamed Witch Road. The ivory tower was a squat, crooked building in a wooded working-class neighborhood, located by the St. Joseph River in southeast Michigan. It was a shabby, unfashionable river dwelling, built almost a century ago, with a two-bedroom living area on the second floor over the garage that protected it from the river’s periodic flooding. She had rented it since her divorce five years ago.

The ivory had become dingy over the years, the aluminum siding loose at one corner of the building. The outside concrete stairs leading up to her front door were narrow and crooked. The stairs were dangerous in an ice storm. Once while she was at work a heavy rain had turned to sleet, and she had been forced to crawl up the icy steps in order to get inside.

Still, the interior was warm with old pine paneling and scarred but beautiful hardwood floors, and it had a brick and flagstone fireplace. The first time she had stepped inside, something seemed to flow over her, embracing her in an invisible hug. She fancied it was the spirit of the place, welcoming her. Despite its condition and the many ways in which it was inconvenient, she had known she would live there. Sometimes she wondered if she would die there.

Thea Harrison's Books