Title: What Lies Within Us
Author: Kiki Howell
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Nov 1 2014
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
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.”
~ * ~
She nodded as he pulled her door shut. Then, she turned to see her bed illuminated in another round of lightening. The sensation of having caught a ball of it settled over her hands. Turning them until her palms faced up, the way they shook wasn’t exactly fear, or flight, but all fight. She curled her fingers in, let her nails bite into her palms. Angry, she made a few stiff and heavy strides back to bed. Not only did everyone here baffle or betray her, as did her ominous surroundings, but her own body took cues from the vivid imaginings of those she’d encountered today.
As her eyes closed again, she swore the power in her body build with each bolt outside her window. Her skin crackled with some sort of electricity of its own, frying what was left of her brain that she tried to force into a fitful sleep.
The sudden awareness of being watched courted with the sensation of having her life energy pulled from her body. As she opened her eyes, weak and dizzy, a streak of lightening backlit a black form at the edge of her bed. Kyna scrambled until her back hit the wooden backboard with a breath-stopping thump. Her muscles ached in earnest almost as if small cramps had taken over her body. Small figments of light, burning silver threads, extended from herself to the shadowy person.
Fear, the kind that freezes time, makes every bone in a body cold, gave way to anger, red-hot and resilient. In a cold sweat, she sprang from the covers. Her arms extended with her palms out in front of her as if signaling stop. Pushing against the dark energy that seemed to suck her very life from her, she sliced, in her mind, the cords. Imaginary or not, nightmare or pure horror, the glowing threads broke and fell. Tiny shards of light hung in the air a second before they disappeared.
Finally, a scream ripped from her lungs. The shriek was outrage laced with angst. The shadow at the end of her bed fell to black smoke, which seeped into the wooden floor. Running to her door and throwing it open like it weighed nothing, she ran smack into Aedan in the hall.
Suddenly, though still shaking, she became aware of her soft breasts throbbing having hit the solid muscle of his chest. His arms strong around her, his fingers pressed firmly into her back, and her eyes closed, the shadow image reappeared in her mind’s eye.
“I got you,” he whispered as her body went through some mini fear-induced seizure for a second.
Her breath released, hot and fast. Kyna panted herself past calm into aroused. However, the house wouldn’t allow her attention to be diverted. Thunder rocked the walls. Once her eyes opened, shadows formed and unformed around her.
“Can you see them?” she whispered to Aedan.
“I’m going crazy,” she growled.
“No, your aunt warned me of this type of magic. The group after you, they use dark magic that forms some sort of mystical hauntings. Nothing should hurt you, though they may give the appearance of it. Your aunt can explain it better in the morning. For now, let’s get you back to bed.”
“It took from me. It took something from me with these bright cords. Don’t leave me,” she begged and then winced.
Uncharacteristically weak, she wondered if her courage all these years came so easy due to nothing real eventful having happened in her life. No. No way. She promised herself to be brave, to make her mother proud, no matter what they threw her way.
“I won’t leave you this time,” Aedan promised. “I’ll sit in the chair and watch you sleep. I’ve probably gotten more than you already at this point. There’re only a few hours left now until morning. But, he or it took what?”
“It felt like the shadowy image was draining my life from me, not blood, just energy or something. A life force maybe. It felt so real, like my heart slowed and my mind became fuzzy. I got so weak.”
“I’m sure it is all part of the haunting, some magical images and feelings projected onto you to scare you.”
She bought the explanation, had to in an attempt to get any sleep at all with the shadows that still lingered. Pretend. You’re just pretend, she challenged them with her thoughts as she stood at the foot of the bed.
“Silly,” she scoffed.
“What? Because I see nothing silly about being afraid of something you don’t even understand. Sometimes fear is good, that is if you let it fuel you rather than make you quit,” Aedan advised.
“I meant it was silly that I was trying to threaten them with my mind, as if because they are shadows they can hear my thoughts. Seen too many ghost movies I think.”
“You’re not silly at all. Most women would have run from this place screaming, demanding to be driven to the airport in her beautiful, white nightgown,” he soothed, voice deep and gravely. “Now, off to bed with you my brave woman.”
Comforted by his praise, she obeyed. Yet, Aedan in the same room also made sleep not come easily, just for a whole other set of reasons entirely.
~ * ~
Ever since she was young, Kiki Howell has loved to listen to a well-woven tale with real characters, inspired plots, and delightful resolutions. Kiki could spend hours lost in a book, and soon she knew that creating lives, loves, and losses with just words had to be the greatest thing that she could do. To that end, she pursued her study of literature and writing, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. She has now had over forty stories published, and could not be more thrilled or grateful to see her creations polished and out in the real world.
In May, 2011, Kiki was chosen as an Ohioana Book Festival author for her novel, Torn Asunder. She's also had three flash fiction stories win writing contests. In the fall of 2013, her novel, Hidden Salem, made the Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers Lists in 3 categories: Paranormal, Suspense and Ghosts. You can find out more about Kiki on her website www.kikihowell.com or stop by her blog http://anauthorsmusings.blogspot.com/
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