"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Excerpt from What Lies Within Us


After receiving a letter from an aunt she never knew existed, Kyna Hughes travels to Ireland only to find out that her whole life has been a series of well-orchestrated lies. Suddenly, this poor girl from the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains is thrust into a life of not only the wealthy and affluent, but of dark magic and secret societies. As Kyna learns of the magic hidden inside her, purposefully stunted as she grew up for her protection, she must now battle mystical hauntings which are the result of curses while getting a crash course in utilizing her powers. Kidnappings and satanic weddings become her daily events as she struggles not to lose her heart to one of two men—a former Navy SEAL hired to protect her or a wizard hired to train her. Soon she will realize just how true it is that “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Genres: Gothic, Paranormal, Romance, Contemporary, Suspense/Thriller  

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Nov 2014

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Lies Within Us:

Ominous fanfare for her arrival in County Monaghan, lightening shred the fall of dusk. As a grisly storm surrounded the car she rode in, her every nerve vibrated with electricity. The well-read letter in her hand trembled in the heat of her clenched fist. Her last minute research of this part of Northern Ireland had not done the place justice. Beauty, that of a rolling and majestic nature even in the dark downpour, stole her already shallow breath.
The thousand slices of light tearing through the sky reflected in the grey water beside the road. The black shadows cast by the trees, Kyna perceived as decrepit, arthritic fingers that reached out for her from the heavy flowing stream. A resounding flood of sound, deep rolling thunder, made her body curl in on itself as she angled away from the car window. The squall so violent, she imagined the glass would shatter. Never one to cower, she swore in a whisper to herself. Ever since she’d landed in Ireland, a someone or a something, specifically an indescribable dark presence, followed her. Sure, it made no sense, but she couldn’t tell her over stimulated brain and racing heart that.
Trying to swallow despite the dryness in her mouth, looking straight ahead, she sought a moment’s peace. Deep breathing exercises had yet to award her any. This unexpected turn in her life over the past few days propelled her toward her wits end. From the moment she’d taken the letter from her mailbox, every part of her being had been altered in some way. From bursts of indefinable energy making her want to run a marathon, to unbidden ideas reminiscent of familiar dreams, to a feeling of having a sixth sense that warned of impending danger, she warred within herself to keep some semblance of composure. She didn’t understand her own body anymore, but had not the time or the mental capacity to analyze the abrupt changes as she traveled.
Erratic thought patterns plagued her instead, a barrage of unanswered questions. Prior to that fateful letter, she’d just been a girl from the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains, having lived her whole life in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. Her mother’s confession of her true heritage came when confronted with the letter, the damned letter, scrolled in a shaky hand, from an aunt from Ireland she never knew existed.
Apparently, Kyna was more Irish than she knew, as in born in Ireland and adopted through the Irish Mafia into the United States. The father she barely remembered, a man who’d died in a mining accident when she’d been barely five years old, had ties to the organization. She’d been a black market baby, for the love of all that is holy! The adoption had born conditions. Telling the poor child of her adoption stood a deal breaker punishable by death. None of these random facts brought about feelings of safety and security as she traveled abroad to meet her aunt on her biological mother’s side.
The letter, the freaking destroy-a-simple-life letter, ranted on for two pages a heartbreaking tale. Her birth mother, Alana O’Riagain, had passed away a few years ago. Her aunt, Saoirse O’Riagain, now desperately wanted to meet her only living relative. Kyna’s birth father and his family were all long go buried, so whatever perceived danger her mother had given her away to protect her from had passed away with them. Maybe her tired eyes played her for a fool, but even now, Kyna swore that words following danger on the paper in her hand appeared written in an even shakier scroll.
Rain assaulted the car window with the unrelenting onslaught of gunfire. Her pulse beat as if under attack. Another round of multiple lightning strikes, the ones that cross the distance of the sky to the ground, brought Kyna out of her murky thoughts of a re-written past to a clearly foreboding present. Just ahead, the first glimpses of her aunt’s home in Armaugh appeared and disappeared in brief glimpses granted by the windshield wipers and the lightening.
Her breath caught at the vast size of what resembled a castle on a hill. A steep incline of land seemed formed to hold up the formidable three storey stone façade. The structure consisted of several three-sided bays stuck together and one four-storey tower to the right side. On the tower hung corner bartizans. These came into view as they made the steep climb closer to her ancestral home. These rounded turrets cut with windows multiplied her sense of being watched, that some sinister being stood sentinel over her, taking in her every move.
Crazy. All of it. She’d lost it, and she had to get it back in the immediate future. Tough, a fighter in an impoverish world, surely she could handle whatever this display of wealth held for her. But, little made sense. Her past lay in a shamble of lies around her feet. Her future looked, well, scary. She had a lot to sort out, and planned to get right to it once she met her aunt.
Her mouth had remained parched and her shoulders tense since she’d landed in this country. Her body betrayed her in various other ways as well. Strange sensations of heat in her core coupled with flashes of what she could only refer to as static electricity along her limbs, made her feel a foreigner in her own skin.
As her driver grunted and got out, Kyna took advantage of another long streak of lightening to gaze upon this veritable castle of a house. The bays had mullioned windows, curvilinear gables and tall chimneys. While she guessed the stone a light grey in the day, it accosted her with looming shades of smoke, as if old and charred, from her storm-shielded, misty view.
The metallic shriek of her door opening sent a wave of panic crashing over her. From her teeth set on a painful edge to that cold slither of fear down her spine, she forced herself to ignore each physical sensation, each body betrayal. Looking toward her driver, a streak of lightening silhouetted him, made him a dark outline like that of a large monster-figure looming over her. He had several inches on her as well as a bulky, full-muscled build one could only achieve with hours in a gym or steroids she supposed. As he reached for her hand, the strength of his grip intensified to painful when an explosion of thunder rolled over them seconds later. She reminded herself, as way of comfort, what little she knew of the man. Aedan Dunne, employed by her aunt, served as head of security, a man the woman trusted with her life.
In a brief conversation at the airport, Kyna had learned through grumbles of words in response to her barrage of questions, that the man had been injured then forced into an early retirement from the Navy SEALs. Irish-born, he’d come home in hopes of finding similar work, something where a mere leg injury would not be the big deal the military had made it out to be. While he may not be able to hide underwater at night in frigid water for hours like he used to without pain and cramping of the damaged muscles, he could surely protect on land, a home and a woman. From what her aunt had written of Aedan, while he may be short on words, failure wasn’t in his vocabulary.
The cool sweat covering her skin intensified with the firm grip Aedan took of her waist once she stood. While looking at his face, what she could see of it for the shadows created by his hood, sharp cheekbones chiseled into a grimace. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the image of a man and a woman in black uniforms run to the trunk of the car and grab her belongings in a swift and sure manner. To her, the rain-soaked stones that made up the pathway to the inset of the main door resembled yet another insurmountable obstacle. Really, she’d reached that point in her day. Every little thing currently escalated to dramatic portions. Never the type to make a mountain out of a mole hill, she straightened her spine and raised up her head, determined not to start now.
Yes, life had dumped a whole crap load of change and new discoveries on her. By the looks of things, another dump truck sped her way, but her mother hadn’t raised a quitter. Besides, Aedan’s strong arms and solid frame offered a possible means to diversion if desired. From what her glimpses in the airport had gathered her, outside of being exactly what she’d imagine a SEAL to be, retired he could now pursue a career in modeling with such intense eyes and full lips. Simply put, he had rugged good looks that rivaled anything she’d seen in the movies. He stood beside her an image of masculinity beyond any she’d witnessed before, at least in her mind.
While she dared another look, Aedan focused on getting her inside. With her first glimpse despite the rain that fell in large drops from the hood framing his face, her stomach tightened even more. Locks of dark brown hair fell in long, messy sections on each side of his forehead. Full eyelashes framed moon-shaped eyes, wide with flecks of green and gold shimmering in the house lights. Intense and mesmerizing, she lost her train of thought, even as curiosity and anxiety mixed to further unsettle her.
 In perfect symmetry, the slim, angular fu Manchu moustache thing he had going on accented the sharp ridges of his cheekbones. Scruff filled in his jaw line. Whether intended or not, he worked the look, appeared more wild and beast-like. She quivered at the thought of such a man attacking her with lust-filled eyes. Her fingers twitched to touch the small patch of hair just under the bottom of his full bottom lip. The word fierce popped into her mind, sent a shiver that escalated as it moved from her head to her toes.
The sudden absence of rain and the sound of a large door opening wiped these decadent and wondrously distracting thoughts from her mind. For a moment, she stood in a dark alcove. The primitive chandelier above her head gave the appearance of rough flickers of candlelight over the mahogany-colored wood walls. A chair, massive and medieval in style sat beside her, the only objects in this tight entrance way save for doors on each side of her. Another man in a black uniform entered from the door to her right and snatched her coat without word of greeting as she watched the first uniformed man with her bags disappear into the door to her right.
“Go ahead in, Ms. Hughes.” Aedan’s rough voice made her jump, as did his hand falling on the small of her back.
His gentle push through an ornate-shaped opening reassigned her to a landing on shaky feet. She teetered just inches from a set of stone stairs with an actual red carpet down the middle. Lush on the sides but worn in the middle, it’d obviously not been laid out for her. The thought almost brought a delirious laugh, but her frozen lungs stifled the sound.
“Ms. O’Riagain should be here momentarily.” Again, Aedan spoke, his voice a blanket of comfort for the moment. Although, she wished with every fiber of her being that he hadn’t removed his hands from her body.
Actual armor, minus a man she hoped, stood on a stand next to her. On her other side, a small cannon sat. Of course, a cannon. What else would there be here? Neither provided her a secure feeling of welcome, nor security at all, but rather a sense of being ready for battle. Juxtaposed to these intimidations were the candles perched on wrought-iron stands aligning each side of the carpet on the stairs. Perched between each tall candlestick sprayed an exquisite array of long, sharp green leaves topped with out-of-season pink spotted orchids and white roses. The color scheme surrounded by scarlet walls screamed abundant wealth and refined taste from centuries ago.
Although Kyna had grown up in a mobile home with a single mom, she knew wealth. Opulent displays no longer intimidated her. Her mother had worked tireless hours at The Greenbrier, one of the leading luxury resorts in the States. Allowed to work alongside her mother some days growing up, she’d found employment there herself during her college years.

A woman in a simple, white flowing dress with pale skin and strawberry blonde waves of hair walked into the picturesque scene. Kyna grew unnaturally conscious of her damp clothes and hair as the vision in white flew to her with wide eyes and open arms. 

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In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.