Helen Ashfield’s world is about to be turned upside down. Is she ready?
Helen Ashfiel’s life is complicated. Not only must she adjust to her parents’ divorce, but she has to come to grips with her new school in the small South African Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet. She’s sorely mistaken if she thinks she’s going to slot seelessly into her new life. Her growing magical powers have attracted the unwanted attention of Trystan, a vampire, who may not have her best interests at heart.
Outcast from his kind for drinking another vampire’s blood, Trystan has been on the run for almost a hundred years from Mantis–the closest thing their kind has to an enforcer. All Trystan wants is an existence of quiet anonymity, but Helen turns his world upside-down.
Helen’s powers also mark her as one of Mantis’ targets. If Mantis gets control of Helen, she’ll change the course of history…for the worse.
CONTENT WARNING: Violence, language.
A Lyrical Press Young Adult Paranormal Romance
All rights reserved, Lyrical Press, Inc.
Armed with her grandmother’s shopping list, Helen ran out to the familiar silver Volvo, looking forward to speaking with Arwen, only to discover Szandor and another woman with a teased-out mop of white-blond hair waited in the car.
The woman turned icy gray eyes on Helen, giving her the impression that she could read each of Helen’s secrets.
She was pale, which wasn’t helped by the funerary aspect of her clothing–a buttoned-up sleeveless shirt with a cameo at her throat. When she moved, an audible swish of many layers of satin and chiffon filled the vehicle.
This must be the aunt. She couldn’t be the mother. The resemblance to Szandor was almost uncanny.
Szandor smiled, but the pleasure did not reach his eyes. “This is Sonja, my sister. Sonja, this is Arwen’s new friend, Helen.”
Sonja gave the briefest of frowns before facing the window.
“Uh, hi,” Helen said, wishing that she could be anywhere else but in this car with these peculiar people. The journey to Graaff-Reinet would be just over half an hour but it would feel like an eternity.
Szandor made a sound that was almost a snigger before turning the key. If only Damon were here, but her brother had gone to visit the Prof the instant his chores were done.
They drove in silence, with only the hiss of the air-conditioner as accompaniment, until they left the valley.
Then Szandor said, “Did you enjoy the films last night, Helen?”
She thought her heart would explode. Should she lie? Should she allow the story to filter through without some of the pertinent details?
“I… Uh. Yes.” She had watched films after Trystan had walked them home. Granted, she hadn’t been able to concentrate on any of the onscreen action.
“Oh,” Szandor said.
She caught a glimpse of his amused expression in the rearview mirror.
Bloody hell, of course he didn’t believe her. What did she expect?
“You haven’t seen or heard anything that you would consider out of the ordinary, have you?” Szandor asked.
“You’ll tell us if you do, won’t you?” Szandor asked. It was more a command than a question.
“I guess so.” Helen clutched the seat with white-knuckled hands.
Her grandmother’s amused tones echoed in her memory. The whole lot of them, they’re all witches. The father, too.
How far would Szandor push his craft? What could he do? Was she in any danger? If there was the superstitious fear of witchcraft that was prevalent among the indigenous Africans…
She’d read a little about the subject a few years previously while researching for a painting for her art classes. Witchcraft was a fascinating topic but she had never expected to ever deal with the real thing. Now her present situation seemed very real and very menacing.
“Where’s Arwen?” Helen hoped to steer their conversation to safer territory. She may as well have said “Nice weather, we’re having.”
“Arwen has been grounded,” Szandor said, his pale gaze reading the road ahead.
Oh heck. He knew.
“Oh.” Perhaps it would be better to say nothing at all then she wouldn’t dig herself a deeper hole.
The rest of the ride passed in uncomfortable silence. Helen pressed her face against the glass and hoped nothing more would be said.
She hated deception of any kind. Whenever she lied, she always ended up being caught out. Instead, she watched the passing landscape, where gray-blue spiked agave lined the road in clumps. Every so often jeep tracks led from the road they followed and she wondered where they went.