August 20, 2019

Chasing Midnight -- Third Chapter Reveal!

Happy #TeaserTuesday!

Chasing Midnight goes on sale next week! 😱😱😱I am SO excited! I seriously cannot wait for you guys to read Nymia's story. I've had so much fun returning to my Once Upon a Curse world and I just know you'll all feel the same way! 😊😊

If you missed the first chapter reveal, or the second chapter reveal, just click the links to read them now. Otherwise, keep scrolling to read the complete third chapter!

PS: There's only six more days left to pre-order your copy of Chasing Midnight and submit your receipt to get a set of three free bookmarks :) Just click here for more information about the pre-order giveaway!

ONE MORE WEEK!

Enjoy!

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I spend the next few days in isolation, which serves me just fine. The hours give me time to understand this new world I’ve found myself in. I knew it was different—I could taste the rotten, sour flavor in the air—but I had no idea how different until I dove into the memories Omorose accidently gave me.
The first seven years of her life were lived in the world I knew—the world between the two apocalypses, when the humans had stolen all the magic and ruled unchallenged. She was a princess in that world, being raised to inherit a power that never belonged to her. Then in her seventh year, while I was still in my healing sleep, everything changed. An earthquake struck while she was riding in a carriage with her father. I watch the scene through her eyes, my emotions a mirror reflecting hers back at me—the same awe, the same terror—as the ground stilled and she opened her eyes to a new reality. The open field her carriage had been riding across was gone, replaced with a city made of human inventions I’ve never seen before, never even imagined. The buildings were so tall, they glimmered like swords cutting into the sky. Instead of horses, people rode in big hulking machines that sat on four wheels. Their language was different. Their clothes were strange. Most of all, their weapons were advanced. They didn’t use swords or arrows, but strange metal objects that at first seemed harmless, but then, with the blink of an eye, shot death across any distance.
In the hours spent studying Omorose’s memories, I’ve come to learn these weapons are called guns, and the humans value them above all else. I’ve also come to learn that the thing they despise most of all is magic. They believe our worlds were running parallel to each other, existing on two different planes of reality that somehow crashed together, merging into one. Before the earthquake, their world didn’t have magic. Now, they’re terrified of it—as they should be—and they want to destroy the human royals who possess it. In that way, we’re the same. I’d almost consider them allies, except for the small fact that they’d kill me too if they knew what I was.
All magic is unnatural to them, not just the stolen kind, which is why I’ve been locked in this tent and hidden away from the rest of the camp.
While I was in my healing sleep, humans destroyed the shifter village and tore their castle to the ground. They think that Cole and his people are refugees who fled from the evil king their weapons destroyed—they have no idea Cole was the king all along. Now, the humans have come here to help these perceived victims rebuild a new home in the mountains. They think they’re helping, but the shifters are terrified of them and their guns. With my healing spell lifted, the shifters have regained their magic, but now they’re trapped in a different way. They remain stuck in their human forms, pretending to be simple men and women. They’re too afraid to show the humans who they really are, who we all are—beings made of magic.
Unfortunately for me, with the faerie glow sparkling along my skin, I’m not so easy to hide. The shifters only allow me outside in the middle of the night while the visiting humans sleep. Omorose and Cole even stationed guards by my tent to make sure I don’t break their rules. It’s cute, almost, that they think a few shifters with swords could stop me, but I play along because until I know more about the location of Omorose’s sister—and my sister’s magic—I can’t leave anyway.
“Good, you’re awake.”
With a sigh, I slip free of Omorose’s memories and open my eyes in time to see the canvas flaps slap closed behind her. A small waft of fresh air washes over me and I greedily suck it down. I’m tired of hiding in the dark.
“Did you bring any useful information this time?” I drawl. The last time she spoke with me, she came with nothing but confused visions of a sister she hadn’t seen in a decade sitting on a dusty wood floor, reading a book beside a simmering fire. There were no locations, no specifics, nothing I could actually use to track her down.
Omorose glares at me. “Yes.”
“Then, welcome,” I mutter as I sit up and meet her glower with one of my own. I’m starting to think the only thing we have in common is a mutual disgust. She hates me for what I did to her prince and his family. I hate her for what her ancestors did to mine. Oh well. The world is painted in shades of gray—ones I don’t have time to decipher. “What news did you bring?”
She grabs the chair in the corner and sets it closer to the bed. Like me, she doesn’t bother with pleasantries. “My friends Asher and Jade were able to sneak in some time on one of the defense computers back at the base.”
I stare at her blankly.
Omorose winces. “Right. My friends Asher and Jade went back to the Midwest Command Center, the human military base where I grew up. There are a few of them scattered across the country, created to fight the magic. This one is only a two days’ ride on horseback, but they took motorcycles so it was even less. Oh, motorcycles are—”
“I know,” I interrupt. I don’t explain how I know—that I’ve seen them in her memories—but she doesn’t ask. I have a vague understanding of what computers are too—strange little machines filled with facts—but I don’t understand why that helps us.
Omorose frowns at the interruption, but swallows whatever snide remark she wanted to say. By this point, I think her stomach must be full of them. I almost wish she’d just explode—it would make pushing her buttons all the more fun—but I get the feeling she’s had a lifetime’s worth of practice at biting her tongue.
“As I was saying,” she continues through gritted teeth, “they got access to the computers and it took a while of searching, but they think they found my sister. When they tried searching for her under her given name, Eleanor Bouchene, nothing came up that fit. But then I remembered she was only two when the earthquake struck, and she never said her full name—the only thing she could say was Ella. I don’t know if she knew our last name, not really. So they tried searching with the new parameters, just Ella with a surname starting with a B, and we found a listing for an Ella Bush at an orphanage in London.”
“London?” I’ve never heard of it.
Omorose nods enthusiastically and opens the folded paper in her hand to reveal a map—one I don’t recognize as any world I’ve seen before.
“We’re here, in the Rocky Mountains, in a country called the United States,” she says, pointing to a spot on the left side of the map. “And London is in a place called England,” she murmurs as she drags her hand all the way across the paper, over what I believe is a long stretch of land and an entire ocean, “which is here in a country called the United Kingdom. I don’t know how my sister got all the way over there—I mean, I don’t even know how she survived the earthquake. My kingdom disappeared when the worlds merged. I looked for it on maps for ages but never found anything, and I know my mother died or I never would’ve inherited her magic, so I’d always assumed my sister had too. But Asher has a theory. He said that there were a lot of children orphaned during the fusion, children on both sides, and the countries that were hit the hardest didn’t know what to do with them. The United States practically fell apart—so many of their major cities were destroyed or simply gone—but the United Kingdom is much smaller in size and it got off relatively unscathed. Anyway, they offered to take a lot of the orphans to help ease the burden on harder-hit areas and to help transition the humans from the magical world into their society. That’s probably how my sister got shipped over there as a little girl. According to the records we found, she’s been at this orphanage for almost seven years.”
“Do you know what it looks like?” I ask, keeping my eyes on the black spot beneath the tip of her finger. “Do you know what it’s called?”
Omorose opens another piece of paper, this time revealing the image of an ornate building made of red brick, with defensive battlements along the top and a gatehouse framed by two large identical towers. “The Queen of England didn’t want to force anyone to give up their own homes, so she donated buildings owned by the crown to the cause. My sister wound up here, in the orphanage called St. James’s Royal Home for Children.”
I snatch the paper from her hand and hold it close, memorizing every inch of the image. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I saw it while I was—while I was—” She breaks off sharply, drawing my gaze to her face, which is absent of its normal color, as though all the blood has drained from her cheeks. I think I know why.
“While you were dead?” I supply sweetly. She blinks and gapes at me, then recoils and sits taller in her seat while a pink flush returns to her face.
“Yes,” she snaps, annoyance evident in her tone, though I have no idea why. By the looks of it I did her a favor, returning a little life to those pale cheeks. “After I— I mean, when I—”
“Died,” I interject again. Humans are so touchy about their mortality. She’s alive now, isn’t she?
“After that,” she ignores me and continues, voice gravelly as though it’s getting caught on her clenched teeth, “my spirit followed the magic across a wide ocean and to a city lit by more electricity than I’ve ever seen in my life. Though it was nighttime, I recognize this building and it’s definitely the one my sister was sitting inside when I watched the magic consume her.”
“Excellent,” I snippily reply, then fold the paper and tuck it inside my pocket.
I prefer magic-spun clothes, but the humans of this new world aren’t completely inept, and I quite like these pants they call jeans. The fur-lined boots aren’t so bad either, though I almost fainted when the shifter prince first handed them to me. He’s part-bear and part-wolf. How could he condone wearing their skins on my feet? But he assured me the materials were fake, and only made to seem like the real thing. Some sort of new human invention. My feet are so warm I almost don’t care if he was lying—though Mother help me if my old teachers were alive to hear me think it.
I glance back to Omorose, wondering why she’s still here. “Anything else?”
Her nostrils flare. It’s becoming more and more effortless to annoy her, and though I know it shouldn’t give me pleasure to see another person in pain, even if that person is a worthless human, one thought of my sister and her stolen magic smothers the guilt.
“Don’t you want to know how you’re going to get all the way to England?”
“No,” I quip. There go those nostrils again, and the red cheeks.
“We’ve been working on a plan for days—”
“I don’t need your help.”
“But we—”
“It’s not necessary.”
“Would you just shut up for two seconds?” She finally cracks, raising her voice. I sigh and shut my mouth, humoring her. “Soldiers from the Midwest Command Center are crawling all over these mountains, but we found a way to smuggle you out. Once we do, we’ll supply you with train tickets and some travel documents so you can get across the country. Jade and Asher are working on securing passage on a ship crossing the Atlantic, and we thought we could maybe try putting some makeup on your exposed skin to hide all the…” She pauses and waves her hands in the air, gesturing toward my face. “All the sparkle.”
I curl my lip.
Who’s she to call my faerie glow a sparkle? I’d rather have skin that shimmers like the surface of a pond on a summer day than something so lifeless and dull as hers.
“I don’t want to cover my sparkle, as you call it. I quite like it, thank you very much, and like I said, I don’t need your help.”
“Then how are you planning to get there?”
I shrug, keeping my lips sealed. I’m not revealing any hint of my magic to these people. I don’t trust them—why should I?
She rolls her eyes. “You’re exhausting.”
“The feeling is mutual.”
“Look, I—” She stops, takes a deep breath, and then releases it slowly. Her body slumps as the tension in her clenched muscles melts away. When she meets my gaze, there’s a glimmer of sympathy and understanding in her own, a sight I’ve never seen in human eyes before. “I’m sorry. I know you don’t trust me, and I understand why. Cole explained where my magic came from, where all human magic comes from. He told me that our ancestors stole it, that they helped destroy the world and then conveniently rewrote history. I get why you hate me.”
No, I think, you don’t.
She has no idea. I hate all magical humans, but I hate her the most, because all I see when I look at her are all the things Aerewyn never got to become, all the dreams she never saw come true, all the years we’ve been kept apart. She’ll never understand what it was like to wake up surrounded in my sister’s magic, believing we’d finally been reunited after so long, only to find a stranger instead. A thief. 
“But I didn’t know,” she keeps going, unaware of the apathy churning in my gut. I don’t really care how she justifies her ignorance in order to make herself feel better. I don’t want her apology. “I thought the magic was my birthright. I thought it belonged to my mother, and her mother before her, and her mother before her. I didn’t know that hundreds of years ago, someone in my family had stolen it from someone else, from the world itself. I thought it was a gift to my bloodline. And my sister doesn’t know either. She has the magic now. She’s alone and terrified and cursed. Be as mean as you want to me, but please, please, be gentle with her. She’s just a child. She doesn’t know any better.”
When she says the word sister, a memory stirs from the depths where I’ve shoved it—the face of a little toddler with gold-flecked eyes that shine with love. 
I suffocate it.
I replace it with the image of a girl with bright red hair the color of roses and deep green eyes the color of fresh spring grass. The memory of her laugh brings goose bumps to my skin, sending a ripple down my shimmering arms. To save my sister, Omorose must lose hers. It’s a fact. For one to live, the other must die.
I’m willing to make that trade.
“Are we done here?” My voice is so cold I hardly recognize it. Omorose flinches as though my words have wounded her, and I stifle the hot twinge of guilt zapping my heart. What else can I do? What other choice do I have? I can’t give up on my sister. I can’t let her go. I’d rather lose my mind than lose my hope of seeing her again.
The priestesses would be disappointed. We were taught to treasure life. Our magic was always meant to be a source of good. It was a gift from the Mother to keep her world thriving. We were supposed to be saviors, guardians, protectors.
In the end, what did that peace get us?
Massacred.
I’d rather be a murderer than a martyr.
“We need a few more days to fake your travel documents,” she says, careful to keep her tone detached this time. “I know you don’t want our help, but you’ll be safer if you at least have the proper paperwork, which means my sister will be safer too. And I’ll bring some makeup in case you change your mind about blending in. It’s not the worst thing in the world to be cautious. You have no idea how advanced human technology is in this world, no idea what their machines can do.” She breaks off with a sigh, as though swallowing the lecture on her lips, and then stands. I’m a little disappointed by the aura of defeat hovering over her head like a thick rain cloud blocking out the sun. “I’ll be back soon with supplies.”
Then she leaves.
As soon as the tent flaps seal shut, I walk over to the back corner where a bowl of water rests on a small table. With my palms hovering above the glassy surface, I murmur the words for the scrying spell, so quietly I almost don’t hear them myself.
“Nachtinn eoscu ma mhoin.” Water, reveal my wish.
The old language rolls easily from my lips, but inside, despair casts a shadow over my heart. There’s so much I don’t know, so much I was never taught—a knowledge I fear my people have lost forever. But if I can save Aerewyn, maybe together, we can save our faerie kin too.
The water ripples, flashing with a rainbow sheen of colors as my magic takes hold. I bury the nostalgia, focusing on the task at hand instead of the monumental one ahead.
When I tried to imagine the face of the little girl I saw in Omorose’s memories, the scrying water didn’t work. The same thing has happened every time I’ve tried to spy on a human with stolen magic—something about their power affects my spell. So this time, I imagine the building I saw on the paper now folded in my pocket, forgetting my sister, forgetting Ella, and thinking only of that distant location. After a few moments of prodding, the scene comes into view—a bustling street, a looming brick palace, and a small sign beside the front door which reads, St. James’s Royal Home for Children.
The orphanage is real, and now, it’s within reach.
I don’t want to waste any more time.
I want to leave. I want to run. I want to fly.
Instead, I pull my fingers back and release the spell, then dip my hands below the surface of the water to cool the sudden rush. Much as it pains me to say, Omorose is right. I don’t understand the technology of this world, and I should take at least some of the help they’re offering. I’ve been hunted by humans before. The first time, it ended with my magic stolen and my consciousness slipping away. The second time, it ended with a sword to my gut, a near brush with death, and a flawed spell that destroyed an entire kingdom. There won’t be a third time.
I’ll play along with their plan as long as I have to.
Then, when they least suspect it, I’ll destroy them.


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Thanks for reading!

Chasing Midnight goes on sale next week! Have I mentioned that before? I hope you pre-order a copy now!! 


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