We had a few minutes until class – or longer if our prof never showed up. We were shootin’ the shit about sports when I felt my phone, tucked inside my bag, wedged between the pages of my notebook, vibrate.
I dug the phone out and checked the caller ID. ‘Gabriella Hoffman.’ I didn’t know any Gabriella. But Hoffman. Could it be?
“You going to answer that?” Tristan asked.
“I’m not sure who it is.”
“They can’t beat you up over the phone, man. Answer it.”
I hesitated another second, but when it rang again, I hit the answer button.
“Yeah. Who’s this?”
Hearing that name was like a punch in my gut. I was suddenly clammy, and my stomach seized into a knot.
“Jake, are you there?”
I tried to respond, to tell her ‘yeah, I’m here’, but my mouth was full of cotton. I hadn’t seen Greta for almost a year. The last time I saw her, she was walking down that hill in the cemetery, going her way, and I went mine. None of what happened was Greta’s fault, but she’d been there. She was a part of the nightmare I’d tried so hard to forget. When I heard her voice, it was like a rush of horrific images flooded my mind. It made me want to puke out my French toast.
I finally managed to squeak out, “I’m here.”
“Phew, I thought you’d fainted or something for a minute there. I’m glad you picked up. I need to talk to you.”
“Why? You haven’t ever needed to talk to me, Greta. Not BA, and not for the past year.”
“I think it’s pretty obvious why.”
“No. No, it’s not obvious.”
“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there’s a friggin’ Apocalypse going on out there. That’s why.”
“Yeah, I noticed.” I touched my still-sore ribs, all the reminder I needed. I doubted perfect, pretty, rich and mighty Greta Hoffman had a set of broken bones or bruises to match mine.
“Well? Don’t you want to do something about it?”
“I’m pretty busy trying to stay alive. Besides, why are you calling me? I’d suggest you contact the redhead with the magic arm bracelet.”
“I have talked to her.”
She had talked to Emily? Greta Hoffman had voluntarily talked to Emily Adams? That was even more improbable than the God of Dark Energy taking over our planet. It made me instantly nervous.
“And she has agreed to join with me to recruit people to fight the Dark Energy followers.”
“Jake? You still there?”
“Yup. Let me get this straight. You and the witch want to create some little band of light knights or something?”
“Ooh, I like that. Light Knights! Or maybe Lucent Knights. What do you think?”
“I think you’re nuts.”
I looked over at Tristan and mimed a ‘she’s crazy’ motion with my hand around my head. He smiled at me and went back to whatever it was he was doing with his phone.
“Why am I nuts for wanting to fight back?”
“Haven’t you noticed that you can’t fight against this darkness? Oh, you probably haven’t noticed anything. Your daddy probably has a driver take you to school and pick you up and shelter you from all the shit going down.”
“How dare you! You don’t know anything about what I’ve gone through. I was there, or have you forgotten that?”
“I’ve tried to forget it all, but so far haven’t been able to expunge you and her and the whole damned circus from my mind. Well, Miss Hoffman, because you were there, you’ll remember that Ciardha single-handedly took down a Goddess with nearly infinite power. So I’m thinking you, me and the redheaded witch don’t stand much of a chance.”
“So you’ve given up? I always thought you were a nerd, but I never thought you were a loser.”
“Loser. That the best you can come up with?”
That one did sort of sting, though. Was Greta right? Had I become a loser?
“Whatever. Look, class is getting ready to start, so I’ve gotta go. So fabulous catching up with you Miss Hoffman. Take care of yourself.”
“Jake – wait! Don’t hang up yet.”
Desperation in her voice. Interesting.
“Before you say no, just come meet with me. One time. Meet with me and hear me out, then you can say no and good-bye and never have to see me or talk to me again. I swear if you meet with me one time and say no, I’ll never hound you again.”
“And if I don’t meet with you?”
“I’ll be like wet toilet paper stuck to your shoe.”
Lovely thought. I knew Greta. She was totally capable of being wet toilet paper stuck to my shoe.
“Okay, fine. I’ll see you. Once.”
“Great. You name the time and place.”
“My last class is over at 3:00, and I have to be at work by six. So meet me here, Wheaton Community College, room 21-A at 3:15. I don’t have much time, so don’t be late.”
“I’ll be there.”
I pushed the red ‘End Call’ button with relief that it was over. For now.
“What was that all about?” Tristan asked.
He raised his eyebrows at me. “You need my help?”
“Nah, not yet anyway.”
“You need me, holler.”
“Thanks, man,” I said. He put his hand out, and we fist bumped.
It was just a meeting with Greta. I was pretty sure I could handle that. I’d meet with her, tell her to hit the pavement, then get back to my routine of avoiding human contact like it was the plague, ’cause it pretty much was.
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From the Back Cover:
Seventeen-year-old Emily Adams unintentionally unleashed a shadow god's dark energy power into the world and started an Apocalypse. But Emily is also the only one that can end the dark god's reign. Though the powerful faerie magic of the golden torc is still coiled around her arm, self-doubt threatens to undo her. Emily wants nothing more than to feel the soft kiss of her one true love, but he won't even speak to her. Her first crush is still quite dead and her best friend remains a prisoner in the dark god's house of nightmares. A growing legion of black-eyed shadow people, devoid of conscience, roam the streets. Emily needs help now more than ever, but redemption seems far off indeed as she faces the expanding darkness alone.
Emily will need an army of her own if she is to save the world from being taken over by pure evil. But will a small band of Lucent geeks and freaks be enough to send the dark god packing?
Amidst chaos and ruin, will love blossom in Emily's Heart?
Natalie is the author of The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult paranormal fantasy trilogy. When not writing, blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, Wattpadding or eating chocolate, Natalie nurtures her young daughter, plays with her two young cats, and feeds her dog too many treats.
Natalie enjoys walking in the high desert, snorkeling in warm waters, travel, and excellent food shared with family and friends. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, now lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.
Natalie enjoys chatting with readers, so stop by and say hi:
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