Authors: Stacey Marie Brown
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Coming of Age, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal & Urban
FIRE IN THE
Darkness Series Book #2
Stacey Marie Brown
Darkness of Light
Darkness Series Book #1
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and her crazy friends. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It cannot be re-sold, reproduced, scanned or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author
Copyright © 2013 Stacey Marie Brown
All rights reserved.
Cover Design by David Farrell at Woulds & Shoulds
Cover image copyright Shutter Stock
For my fans. You have made this possible.
The acrid aroma of cheap, processed coffee and burnt beans seeped down the long food line, assaulting my nose. The strong smells did little to cover up the eye-watering stench of urine and body odor that hovered around me. It had been over four days since I last had access to a shower. No doubt I contributed to the stench.
Although it felt like a lifetime, it had only been a month since I had a roof over my head, a hot shower whenever I wanted, and a warm meal every night. Now I understood what it was to be so hungry the hollow, crushing pain consumed your every thought and action. To be so cold your bones felt like they would shatter.
Another whiff of beans seeped into my nose and my stomach rumbled in response. I inhaled a deep breath and savored the slight tang that grazed my taste buds. Food had been scarce for me, and I had taken what I could when I could. Leaning out, I scanned the dozens of people lined up in front of me. Tired, despondent faces looked ahead, hungrily anticipating the food soon to be scooped onto their plates.
Food and water were everyone's biggest concerns. Other necessities, such as medicines and supplies, were used to trade or control the city; a warm shower or hot food was a luxury. What I had taken for granted I now struggled for every day: clean drinking water, a place to sleep, clothes, food. Some days I lucked out, but most days I didn’t. Looted candy bars from convenience stores were my usual dinner. Red Cross had set up aid and refuge centers around Seattle, but I only used them when absolutely necessary. Four days of not eating or sleeping properly had me seeking out protection tonight.
The line moved glacially slow, my stomach protesting the lack of headway with each tiny step. I had just made the monumental approach to the first stack of trays when two men enter the food tent. Dressed in pedestrian clothes,
they looked almost human
. But something was slightly off and their attempt to blend in didn’t disguise what they really were. Not to me.
A few weeks ago, I would have thought they were normal people. Now I knew better.
Their stunning, nearly impeccable appearance, complexion, and icy blue eyes told me they were the Queen's soldiers.
Fairies. Fae. Seelie. They were Otherworlders no matter what description you used.
As I was
new to the Fae realm, I didn’t know much, but I knew enough to know
-a-e was a general term for all creatures from the Otherworld. F-a-y was short for Fairy, which was the top of the food chain
The Seelie Queen was pure-blood Fay.
It didn’t matter if a bunch of dancing leprechauns had entered the tent. These men were here for me. I had avoided being caught while on the streets. I wasn’t going to break my streak now. Ducking my head, I flipped up the hood of my “borrowed” sweatshirt.
Okay, some people might call it stolen. When I had run from the Queen, I was in nothing but my underwear, Eli’s tattered shirt, and a cloak. Everything I had acquired in the last couple of weeks was stolen. The looted stores, with their broken windows, had made it a little easier to swipe clothes and a pair of shoes. With everything in chaos and the Queen of the Otherworld combing every inch for me, my best chance for survival was losing myself deep in the city. Seattle was in complete turmoil and hiding among humans was the only thing that had kept me alive for the last four weeks.
Looked like my luck had run out.
Stooping behind the person in front of me, I watched the two Fays gauge the room. If I bolted, it would only draw their attention to me. Hoping they’d look around, not see me, and move to the next tent was probably too much to ask. The two men started at the end of the line, studying each person with impudent regard. Humans are funny—they ignore their natural instinct because they're afraid of appearing rude to others. I could see their nervous, unsettled glances as the men approached them, knowing something was not right. But they turned away disregarding their natural instinct.
If only they trusted their guts.
As the men moved closer to me, my
. Since I had Dark Dweller blood running in my veins,
my sense of smell had increased. My sight and hearing had also improved. Normally Fay couldn’t smell magic, but I could now. The sweet, tingling sense that was like snorting a glass of champagne had saved my butt more than once in the last couple of weeks. I had learned to pay attention to the slight indications that told me Fae were near.
Since my escape, the Queen had relentlessly searched for me. In time I'm sure the Unseelie King would throw his hat in the ring for me as well. Evidently being a Dae—half Fay, half Demon—was a hot commodity for both the Light and Dark. They had different agendas, but both wanted to use me as a weapon to destroy the other.
Each step brought my pursuers closer. I needed a plan. Now. I edged closer to the stack of trays, searching for the best possible escape route.
“Do not even think about running,” a voice whispered in my ear. Hands clamped down on my arms as his partner came around my other side, blocking my escape.
Crap! Think of something quick, Ember.
The men moved in tighter, pinning my arms to my sides. “Do not fight. You cannot get away from us. All you will do is alarm and upset all these humans by bringing attention to yourself. This will only cause us to do more harm. You do not want that.” His voice was smooth, slipping like velvet over my skin. Into my ears.
Like hell I don’t.
I knew what I had to do. I screamed, “Help! These guys are trying to kidnap me!” Like I hoped, every head turned our way. People were too weary to jump in and help, but at least it gave me the briefest moment of surprise to break away from my abductors. With all my strength, I yanked my arms out of their grasps. The momentum pitched me forward into a stack of plastic trays. The crash echoed throughout the tent with a deafening clatter. People stood in shock, taking in the scene. Scrambling up, I
and skidded over the mass of serving trays. One of the Fays leaped, grabbing for me. His foot
and he tumbled. As he fell back, his head smacked on the cement. The other man was right behind him, coming for me.
Seizing a tray, I swung. His face collided with my choice of weapon with an audible thwack. This was my only chance. I took off for the exit, trying to maneuver and dodge people as they stood there, dazed. My mistake was looking to see if the men were pursuing me. When I turned back it was too late. A tall bakery cart stood in my path. Plowing into it hurt like a bitch. Sharp, flat metal baking sheets jammed into my ribs, face, and arms as we toppled over together. Gritting my teeth, I waited for it to be over, already feeling blood seeping from the gashes on my hands and arms. The Fay soldiers were on me in a flash.
“Hey.” I heard a man call out as people started to respond. “Stop those guys!”
A large hand closed around my neck and pulled me to my feet. “You are not getting away from us again.” He tightened his grip, cutting off my air. Panic rumbled deep in my core
and that’s when I felt the darkness inside me surge its way up.
I had used my powers minimally since the day I caused Seattle to burn to the ground. Every time I had tried to use them, they caused more damage. I had hurt so many people. There was this one boy about ten who was searching for food in a liquor store like I was. He startled me, and I sent an entire rack of soda falling onto him. I had made sure he was okay before I took off running. I had also blown up a car because someone was chasing me for a can of corn. My powers were volatile and unpredictable since the day the Queen forced them to the surface. The energy scared me. Unfortunately, fear brought them out even more.
A large cart shot off the ground crashing blindly into the innocent people in line, knocking over anyone standing in its way, including children.
Oh God, no!
It was happening again.
Both the anxiety
of the situation and the hand tightening around my throat directed the energy towards the standing heaters and lights. A loud buzz whined through the tent. People covered their ears, hunching down in protection.
Calm down, Ember
. This was easier said than done as sparks licked out of heaters, popping and crackling while energy pulsated through them.
“Stop that,” the Fay soldier commanded, squeezing my neck harder. My building panic forced a dozen baking sheets through the air toward him and anyone who stood close. The sharp, metal edges drove into his head and back. Instantly his grip loosened and fell away from my neck as he crumpled to the ground in agony. He wasn’t the only one attacked by baking sheets. The other soldier and two men who were trying to help me lay on the ground, blood oozing from gashes on their foreheads and arms. Guilt rooted in my gut. They were only trying to help me, now look what I’d done to them.
Hundreds of eyes stared at me in terror. Kids cried, some with cuts and bloody noses from the cart that fell on them. I choked down my guilt, turned and ran to where I’d be safe from the Fay, and the people would be safe from me.
The sun slipped quickly below the horizon. The air clung to the last bit of warmth, hinting at the changing season. It didn’t stop the goose bumps from breaking out over my skin, and the hoodie I wore did little to keep in my body heat. The chills soon turned to sweat as I raced through the city, dodging, ducking, scaling over walls, through tunnels, and down alleyways. I had always hated running, and had teased my step-father, Mark, because he enjoyed running marathons for fun. But, lately, it had become easier because I did a great deal of it. I could run farther and longer than I ever imagined possible. Funny the things
capable of doing when your life is on the line. My calves still didn’t care for all the exercise they were getting now. Lorcan
, Eli’s brother,
had torn them to shreds a month ago.
Lorcan was also the one who had turned me over to the Queen. My legs
continued to ache, mainly at night when I tried to sleep. I was lucky
to be walking, but the painful leg cramps kept the night of my attack fresh in my mind.