Authors: Marissa Farrar
|Number I of|
The Dhampyre Chronicles
|Warwick House Press (2014)|
Born of a vampire father to a human mother, Elizabeth Bandores’ life was never going to be normal, so she can’t image why she thinks starting college will be any different.
Having grown up in the affluent Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles and desperate to escape, she decides on the small college town of Sage Springs. With dreams of being a writer, she joins the college newspaper and is introduced to blond, confident Flynn Matthews, Sage Springs’ rising swim star.
But a carnival has set up in the small town, and the boy running the Waltzer catches her eye. Dark-haired, leather-jacketed Riley is rude, with an air of danger. Elizabeth can’t help but notice him. And when an accident thrusts them together, she discovers he’s noticed her, too.
Sage Springs isn’t the quiet little town Elizabeth had hoped for. The forests bordering the town harbour a dark secret—one some of the residents have been trying to protect, and the leaders of the carnival have set in their sights...
The Dhampyre Chronicles
TABLE OF CONTENTS
*You can click on the title to be taken to the selection. Additionally, clicking on the chapter titles will bring you back to the table of contents.
power line fell from the sky in a shower of sparks, hitting the road in front of my car to lash on the asphalt like an angry snake.
My head snapped around from where I’d been gaping out of the driver’s window at the scene beyond. With a gasp, I slammed on the brakes of my Audi A6, the sudden change in momentum throwing me forward. My seatbelt locked across my chest, punching the air from my lungs.
I almost hadn’t noticed in time. Instead of watching the road into the small Northeastern coastal town of Sage Springs, my eyes had been drawn to the huge field to my right and the multitude of trucks and trailers parked up there. Despite the bad weather—high winds with a promise of rain—giant, brightly colored metal structures were being lifted into the air by even bigger cranes. Still lying flat on the ground were the blue, white, and red stripes of a canvas top for the carousel. Signs in garish swirls of letters, and currently unlit giant platforms of lights, also still remained on the ground, waiting their turn to be hoisted high. The field had been churned up in ruts of mud by the big, heavy wheels of the trucks. Farther in the distance, where the field turned to the asphalt of a huge parking lot which served the beach goers, some of the larger structures were already up—a huge Ferris wheel, the Waltzer, the Tilt-A-Whirl—were dotted between the smaller stands. Men in wife-beater shirts, exposed arms covered in a blur of homemade tattoos, stood shouting and gesturing instructions to the crane drivers.
I’d been watching the spectacle of the traveling carnival being raised and so hadn’t noticed when something, perhaps one of the cranes or even the wind, caught the power line overhead.
On the other side of the road, dense woodland of oak and pine ran into forest, which crept inland into hilly terrain. Sage Springs was a good distance from any other town, something I’d locked into, wanting the solitude. I wasn’t running, exactly. I knew I couldn’t run from what I was. But I did want to leave the big city behind and start my new life at college somewhere completely different from the bright lights of Los Angeles where I’d grown up.
Far from the almost continuous sunshine of my home city, the sky was overcast here, strong gusts of wind causing the trees to bend with its force. I had been thinking that the traveling carnival shouldn’t have been trying to erect such tall structures in these high winds. I guess my point had been proven.
Now my eyes were fixed on the snapped power line, still lashing around on the road. A gust of wind lifted it, causing the thrashing to grow wild. I froze inside the car, my hands locked on the steering wheel, knuckles white. The sparks died off and then spurted again like a Catherine wheel.
Was I safe inside the car? Thoughts of the rubber tires somehow grounding me went through my head, but I wondered if I might have gotten things mixed up with lightning. If the live end of the wire touched the metal shell, would it fry everything—and everyone—inside? I wanted to jump from the vehicle and make a run for it, but the high wind wasn’t making things any easier. I couldn’t predict which way the thrashing wire would be thrown next.
I became aware of voices, men shouting. I relaxed my grip on the steering wheel enough to turn in my seat and peer out of the rear window. Several of the men I’d been watching putting up the rides in the adjacent field had seen what had happened and come running. They gestured to each other, then to the sky where the wire had come from, and then my car.
The truth was, those men were probably in more danger than I was. I didn’t know how my body would react to a severe electric shock, but I knew I’d be more resistant than they would.
Looking at the scene before me now, I worried that if this went wrong, my independent life would be over before it even got started.
The wind that had been gusting and battering the car suddenly fell still. The wire dropped to the ground, sparks still spurting, but less so now. Something drew my gaze back to the field which had first distracted my attention. In the distance stood a lone figure, a man, or boy even, dressed in black. I couldn’t make out his features, but I felt certain he was watching me. I shook my head, wondering why the thought unnerved me. Of course he was. The spectacle the scene created meant everyone was watching. Yet for some reason I picked up on this person’s intensity, as if his concentration on the scene was so much greater than anyone else’s.
A fist thumped on my rear window, making me jump. I turned around again. The moment I did so, the wind started back up. “Hey, Miss. Get outta the car, will ya!”
Another man standing just behind him also yelled out a couple of useful comments. “What are you doing just sitting there? Back the hell up!”
I blinked, forcing myself to focus. Of course. I needed to back up to get away from the power line. I hoped no one else came along too fast behind me, or they were likely to go straight into the back of me, and force us both into the current.
As I shifted into reverse, the wire whipped in the wind, making contact with the hood. I let out a shriek, instinctively lifting my hands from the steering wheel, not wanting to touch any more of the car than necessary. Sparks exploded, the black metal of my vehicle where the exposed wire had hit turning white. Electricity danced over the shell of my car. In the engine, something popped, and instantly the car’s power died, my stereo going with it. The voltage must have fried the electronics. The vehicle was a new model, so nothing worked without them.
I was stuck. My option of backing up to safety had just been taken from me.
I forced myself to think. The electricity had traveled over the metal shell of the car, leaving me safe within. My best option would simply be sitting here and waiting for the power company to arrive and switch off the juice to this part of the grid. It might take a while and would probably make me late to register for my classes, but I figured I was better off late than dead.
The big guy who had banged on my rear window seemed to have different ideas. He strode to the car and yanked open the door. The wire lifted again in the wind.
“What the hell are you doing?” I screeched at him.
“Getting you out.”
The electric cable danced. The man ducked as it flew toward him, but then another gust caught the wire, whipping it away. I knew what was about to happen. Sparks flew as the live wire spun around like a furious snake held suspended by its tail. The wire lashed directly at the guy’s head. He’d been trying to save me, like I was some helpless little female, but in the end he was the one who needed saving.
Channeling all my strength, I lunged out of the open car door. My palms flattened against the man’s barrel chest, and I shoved him with all my strength. He flew backward, landing on his butt before skidding and coming to a rest at the feet of his companions. At the same time, I ducked, the wire grazing the top of my head, sparks catching in my hair. I battered at my dark locks with my hands, smothering any sparks that might flare into flame. I was out now, and I saw no point in climbing back inside the relative safety of my car. Instead, I ducked low and ran toward the small crowd.
As I ran from the car, the wind gusted. Carried on the air was the scent of leather and some kind of engine oil. With it came the overwhelming feeling of being watched once again, and I didn’t just mean by the men. I frowned, eyeing up the men who had supposedly come to my rescue. The scent certainly didn’t appear to be anything any of them would be wearing—they appeared to be more odor de sweat and beer kind of guys. Once more, my gaze was dragged to the adjacent field, to where the boy in black remained, stock-still.
He was too far away for me to be able to meet his eyes, so then why did I feel like his were focused on me?
The boy in black wasn’t the only one staring.
I could feel the group of men’s eyes on me, the questions behind them. How had I managed to push my ‘rescuer’ like that? He was a big guy in his mid forties, with a barrel chest and a gut to match. He outweighed me three times over, but I’d sent him flying, literally lifted him off his feet, and threw him away from danger. They knew something was off, they just didn’t know what.
I wasn’t about to start filling them in.
The man got to his feet and rubbed the top of his head, his fat forehead pulled down in a frown of bemusement. “I must have tripped,” he said, trying to explain away what had happened. “Fell over my own feet when you pushed me.”
No thanks for saving your life, then?
“Sure,” I said, not wanting an argument, or any further attention. “Any of you guys either handy with an engine or know of a decent garage around here?”
The carny nodded. “Micky over there can tow you. I’m pretty sure there’s a chop shop a couple of miles out of town.”
“Okay, great.” I forced a smile. “I guess we have to wait till the electricity company shows up first.”
As if they’d heard me, the wire died, the sparks fading away. We all stood, watching the end with mistrust, like a dog that might turn and bite at any moment. Several minutes passed, but nothing changed.
“We’ll get you towed, Miss,” the man with the barrel chest said. “Least we can do, you know, considering.”
So the guy realized that had I not pushed him, he probably would have ended up hospitalized, if not dead.
“Thanks,” I said. “I appreciate that.”
I hoped the garage would have courtesy cars available, or I was going to be seriously late for my first day.