About Prophecy Girl:Amelie Bennett. . . . Ending the world, one prophecy at a time.
I was born to slay Crossworld demons. Big black flappy ones, little green squirmy ones. Unfortunately, the only thing getting slain these days is my social life. With my high school under attack, combat classes intensifying, and Academy instructors dropping right and left, I can barely get my homework done, let alone score a bondmate before prom. Then he shows up.
Jackson Smith-Hailey. Unspeakably hot, hopelessly unattainable, and dangerous in all the right ways. Sure, he’s my trainer. And okay, maybe he hates me. Doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the wicked Guardian chemistry between us. It’s crazy! Every time I’m with him, my powers explode. Awesome, right?
Now my teachers think I’m the murderous Graymason destined to bring down our whole race of angelbloods. Everyone in New Orleans is hunting me. The people I trusted want me dead. Jack and I have five days to solve the murders, prevent a vampire uprising, and thwart the pesky prophecy foretelling his death by my hand. Shouldn’t be too difficult.
Getting it done without falling in love. . . that might take a miracle.
Matt had snapped the leg off his chair and swung it at the air, Alec Charbonnet’s head seemed to be bent in prayer, and Lyle, in an unlikely show of heroism, held up his Theories textbook to shield a whimpering Channeler behind him. In the distance, I could hear Marcus shouting evacuation orders, but, for the most part, it was just screams. High-pitched, horrible screams.
“Lisa!” I yelled. “Get Katie and get out!”
“I’m right behind you, I swear. Go!” I wrenched my arm out of Lisa’s grip, desperate to find some foothold in the madness.
So far, only lesser demons had come through—small creatures that scratched and bit with nasty precision but rarely killed. Under normal circumstances, they were about as threatening as a swarm of winged ferrets.
Except this was far from normal.
Through the haze, I watched Jack raise his sword in a defensive arc. His face held no fear as he parried the demon attack, deflecting blow after blow. Bright streaks of crimson appeared on his cheeks, his shirt shredded to bloodstained ribbons. He swung his blade with the force of a battle-axe, sheets of black ichor spreading down his hands. Yet as fiercely as he fought and as much damage as he inflicted, I knew it wouldn’t be enough. Until that gate was closed, the demons would keep coming.
And they’d get bigger.
We’d been warned to expect hand-to-hand combat challenges, the occasional loose fiend, trainers lurking behind corners to pounce on us for “training purposes.” But untamed demon hordes and blasts of hellfire?
Somebody had to do something.
I squinted against the heat and lifted up my hands. “Exitus,” I yelled weakly. The swirl of heat and fire tightened in my fingers for a second, then went slack.
“What are you doing?” Like a shot, Jack’s head snapped in my direction.
“I’m helping,” I shouted from my hiding spot behind the chair.
“You’re irritating them. Go away!”
“I’m irritating them?” I mumbled as he sliced through another demon wing.
Much as I ached to argue, I had to give him snaps for honesty. It was true, I sucked at the channeling thing. Once, I had tried linking power with Lyle during Fundamentals class last year. Total disaster. It had taken a solid month for his eyebrows to grow back.
Still, did Jack really expect me to sit and do nothing? He was getting slaughtered. Alone. Smalley and the rest of the faculty huddled near the exits. Even the trainers, who were allegedly hired for stuff like this, bustled safely toward the back.
I watched as another charcoal-skinned demon slid through the opening, its serrated teeth snapping at the air.
“Jack! Behind you!”
He turned in time to see the thing flying at his back. With inhuman speed, his sword came up in a glittering sweep to slice through its neck. Black blood spilled across his chest as the monster crashed to the floor in a stringy heap…just as two more like it hurtled through.
It was insane. Why was no one fighting?
Marcus and Daniel had funneled the last Channelers through the exits and were circling back to collect the Watchers and senior faculty. I recognized what they were doing. It was standard protocol for a rift-kill. First, they would clear the room and ward all the vulnerable points of exit. Only a small contingent would be left inside, one or two bonded pairs. When the demon flow had cleared, the Watcher would launch a charmed explosive device, etched with glyphs powerful enough to collapse the gate from the other side. We’d seen it a hundred times in training videos.
But this made no sense.
If I left the room now there would be no Channelers. No one to shield him when the gate collapsed.
Terrified, I stood and pushed through the demon horde to where Jack fought, his sword slicing the air like a whip. My chest was taut, and, with every step, heat seemed to billow up inside me.
“Give me a weapon,” I yelled.
“Bennett, I told you to get out of here. That’s an order!”
“I’m not leaving you. Give me a sword and let me fight, or give me your hand and help me channel.”
His eyes were dark with fury as he whirled. “It’s not your fight.”
“You’re going to die.”
“Bennett, for the last time,” he said, thrashing at the blackskinned horde. “Get! Out!”
With a final hacking swipe, he flipped his sword to the opposite hand and made a grab at my arm. I’m not sure what he intended—to push me back, or maybe march me to Smalley’s office for a quick disciplinary lecture. Whatever his intention, it vanished the instant his hand touched me.
It was as if I’d been electrified, like a toaster oven suddenly plugged into the wall. All the power from the rift hurtled toward us, raw and hot and terrifying. I lifted my free hand again, black flames lapping at my outstretched fingers.
“Exitus! Concedia! Incendia!”
Every command I could dredge up from last year’s Defensive Fundamentals class sprang to my lips. White and gold sparks flew out of my fingers and a hot wind blew, whipping the curtains into tight little circles. It felt like someone had injected liquid flames into my veins, as if the building and everyone in it were suddenly bleeding fire. Crossworld energy swelled inside me, blackening my heart and everything around it.
Jack ripped his hand off my arm but it was too late. Energy hung between us, thick and ropey ribbons of light. I could feel my power reverberating off his. My eyes slammed shut as a whip of heat cracked across my face, the darkness intensifying. Every instinct told me to duck, to run, to hide. But I didn’t. If I let go of the channel, the gate would open again, and I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t let him die.
With an ungodly grunt, Jack launched himself at me, his weapon clattering to the floor beneath an acidic wave of black flame. The dull ache of impact ripped through my shoulder as we hit the ground and began to roll. Maybe it was instinct, maybe cowardice, I don’t know. But as soon as I felt him on top of me, I melted. My body sealed itself to his, every part of us fitting together like pieces of an ancient puzzle. Every hard plane of his chest, every inch of his warmth against me…even the smell of him, all sweat and soap and salty blood.
He felt like home.
Crossworld energy stretched across my soul as he tucked me beneath him. Somewhere in my ribcage I could feel my spirit suffocating, helpless and weak. I wanted to will the flames into submission but my control was gone.
I was drowning.
About the Author:
Cecily Cornelius-White, Psy.D. makes a habit of avoiding boredom whenever possible. She has enjoyed careers as a hand model, GAP salesgirl, movie projectionist, psychotherapist, yoga instructor, university professor, artist, dance choreographer, eating disorders specialist, psych diagnostician, book reviewer and copy editor. None of which are as much fun as writing novels.
She currently lives in Springfield, MO with two FABULOUS kids, and a schizophrenic yet well-mannered cat. She can swear in Klingon, take down an alien aggressor using only her mind (or a pair of chopsticks), and kill giant spiders without getting schmutz on her shirt.
When not singing to herself, she spends time creating new worlds and thinking up ways to make this one better…
Where you can find her:
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