Shadows in the Dark: A Praesul Novel (Volume 1)

Shadows in the Dark: A Praesul Novel (Volume 1)

by Anne Doucette

ISBN: 9781461092834

Publisher CreateSpace

Published in Romance/Paranormal, Literature & Fiction

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Sample Chapter

Chapter 1 Some say good things happen when you least expect it. But what about the bad things? The thing is, sometimes what you think is good for you is not always the most exciting way to live your life. You only have the one. But the bad things, those we never choose; they choose us. At the age of twenty-three, Vanessa felt like something was missing. It’s not like she thought she was meant to be a singer or an actress- she knew she wasn’t pretty enough for that- but she thought there had to be more to life than working at a dead end job until retirement. It was now merely months after she had graduated college with a degree she would probably never use- one of the most depressing facts of today’s world. Therefore, she was forced to work at the same retail job she held since she was sixteen. Undervalued and under-appreciated, she slaved day in and day out to pay off life’s endless bills. Vanessa was merely living her life as was necessary. Leaving the job she hated, she walked away from the dim lights of the retail store as the warm wind blew across her face. The lot was barren with the exception of one co-worker’s car several yards away. The one bill she didn't have to worry about stood before her: the Pontiac G6. Sure, it wasn't a Corvette, but this sleek, black car was not only Vanessa's pride and joy, it was paid for. Which, of course, allowed Vanessa to truly smile inside because this was the one thing of value she could call her own. As she began her drive home to the middle of Nowhere, Maine, rain was threatening in the dark sky. Vanessa’s headlights shone through clouds of mist and fog rising off the roads. The moon fought to break through the darkness above while the sweet smell of fresh cut grass filled the car. Too relaxed, she hadn’t noticed when a shadowy figure burst out of the woods directly in front of her car. Vanessa screamed as she slammed on her brakes. But she was too late. The sound of her breaks echoed in her ears as she estimated how fast she had been driving before her impending death. Was it a deer? A moose? If so, she was surely dead. Seconds felt like a lifetime as the squeal of breaks were followed by the sound of a large figure slamming against her car, throwing whatever it was over the hood to land on the road behind her with a dragging thud. Vanessa’s eyes began to water as she held onto the wheel for dear life. Moments of silence seemed to pass before she was brought back to reality by the sound of a deep groan. Slamming the car into park, she glanced up to see what was behind her using her rearview mirror. “Fuck!” She could barely catch her breath as she scrambled out of the car to see what exactly was rolling on the pavement behind her. “Oh my God… Oh my God!” She was shouting now-- because the figure was much more than the animal she had originally assumed, but a young man. “Oh my God!” “Could you just shut up a minute? Your screaming is killing my ears.” A deep voice resonated from the man as he rolled onto his back, forearm resting upon his brow. Vanessa’s mouth snapped shut as she stared in disbelief at the stranger wincing in pain before her. “Maybe you shouldn’t move…” Vanessa’s voice seemed distant to her. He turned to look up from the muddy, wet pavement. Vanessa stepped back unconsciously at his dark gaze. Where his eyes should have held color, Vanessa saw a mirror of obsidian looking back at her. The whites of his eyes represented the only color to escape those dangerous depths. He tilted his head at her reaction, “I’m fine.” He spoke sternly as he turned to glance at the woods searching for something with his cold gaze, but she saw nothing. “You’re fine?” She paused, watching him roll onto all fours and begin to crawl to his feet. “You’re okay?” this time more out of frustration than disbelief. “Look at what you did to my car? And you’re okay?” The pair turned to look at the cracked windshield and small dents covering the hood. Vanessa’s perfect record and perfect car were now tainted. “You can’t be okay. I… I should call 911.” She turned to strut back to her car where she could find her cell phone. He shook his head ‘No’. “I could even give you a ride to the hospital, if you’d prefer.” “I’m fine. Really.” The stranger replied running his hands through his dark brown hair which swept just above those perilous eyes. She stared; suddenly enthralled. He had withstood being hit by a car at nearly 50 miles an hour and he was standing before her, not coughing or wheezing, but gently holding his side and staring back. A thought occurred to her, “Well, what if you’re hurt and you just don’t know it yet? Oh God! You could be in shock! You could be bleeding internally!” Vanessa’s eyes widened as all of the possibilities began running through her mind. “I am not bleeding internally.” He rolled his eyes as he turned away to look up and down the road in all directions. “Wait! You don’t know that. Doctors have to run all kinds of tests before they know that. Oh God- my insurance!” She turned to look at her car stopped in the middle of the road, music still blaring. Evening dew from the fog had begun collecting on the car and she felt her shirt cling to her body as it began to dampen. “Don’t worry about it. I’m fine.” He annunciated each word in an attempt to get through to her. “How can you say that? I just hit you with my car!” “Yes, I noticed that.” “You could have some internal damage; your brain could be swelling. We don’t know the extent of your injuries. Haven’t you seen Grey’s Anatomy?” “Would you just please be quiet? I’m fine. Trust me.” The man grunted has he pulled his leather jacket firmer around himself. Vanessa snapped her mouth shut and looked at him crossly as thoughts raced through her mind. She hit the guy with her car; there were dents to prove it! Not to mention her windshield was cracked to hell. But what more could she do if he wouldn’t go to a hospital? “At least let me give you a ride home. Someone is going to be worried.” “Fine. I’m staying at the Sleep Inn on Merry Street. Can you please take me there? Without hitting anyone else?” His dark eyebrow raised as a sideways smirk formed slowly. “Well I wouldn’t be hitting people if they didn’t run in front of my car late at night.” Her cold reply surprised herself. She never spoke like that. The fact that he refused to go to the hospital had her heart beating out of her chest. Her breathing became tight as she tried to take in all that was happening. Vanessa watched him hold his arm against his ribs and felt that heat begin to burn slowly into her stomach. Something about him made her want to run and fight at the same time and it angered her. She watched him carefully as he climbed into the passenger seat without any apparent scratches, and without saying a word. Vanessa drove for nearly five minutes in silence. Every now and then she would peek over at the strange young man beside her to find him staring at her as well. He was watching her hands on the steering wheel. Perhaps he didn’t trust her driving abilities any more than she did at this minute. But then again, it seemed as if he was staring at her right hand, or was it her wrist? She had this weird birthmark there. She was born with what looked something like a white scar in the shape of a cross. Of course, like any other young woman, she found herself trying to find ways of hiding it: bracelets, long sleeves, etc. Whatever it was he was staring at, the awkward attention was causing her to become self-conscious and agitated. Not to mention the silence was making her edgy, and maybe even curious. She needed something: music, conversation, even the obnoxious ring tone of her phone would help. “So… what were you running from anyway?” she asked nonchalantly. “Nothing.” It was cold and simple. “Well, people don’t just jump in front of cars unless they have some sort of death wish.” Her right hand came off the steering wheel to emphasize the ridiculousness of his claim. “Maybe I did.” His smug answer surprised Vanessa. Could someone really be that stupid and selfish? Silence ensued again and she did not know how to save herself from such an awkward situation. She never wanted to see him again. Perhaps this could all be just a dream and she’d forget him as soon as she dropped him off. Wait, she couldn’t forget him- she still had his imprint on her windshield and car! Vanessa closed her eyes for a second as she shook her head to catch her breath- and wandering mind. The Sleep Inn was less than a mile away now. The building was nothing special; just an average, every day bed and breakfast owned by an older couple trying to support their retirement. The structure an oversized Victorian with a blue sign in the shape of a pillow hanging above the door. Bed and breakfasts were hard to find nowadays, even in a town as small as hers. However, this quaint abode was a gold mine to the tourists seeking Maine’s ever-changing seasons and calm communities. Not knowing what else to say, Vanessa waited in silence for the stranger to crawl out of the door and out of her life forever. “Thanks for the lift,” he looked at her with amusement in those dark, obsidian eyes. “Uh, sure. Sorry about the... ya’ know, hitting you thing.” “Yeah,” he scoffed as he closed the door behind him and headed for the entrance. It wasn’t until now, slightly more relaxed, that she had the chance to take in his whole image. She had been so distracted by the accident that she hadn’t noticed just how well God had built this amazing species of a man. His strong build was apparent as the jacket slid open to reveal a tight black shirt wrapped around great abs. The wind pulled his hair across his face and she watched as he slid his hand up to tuck it behind his ear. He had that whole tall, dark, and handsome thing going for him, and she just let him walk away after what she had done to him. He said he was fine, maybe he was- in more ways than one- but something just wasn’t sitting right. The uneasiness Vanessa had originally thought was a growing panic attack seemed to meld its way into her mind. She sat stunned as he closed the heavy wooden door behind him. She hadn’t even gotten his name.
Excerpted from "Shadows in the Dark: A Praesul Novel (Volume 1)" by Anne Doucette. Copyright © 0 by Anne Doucette. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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