Series: Book Five in the Elemental Series
Author: Shauna Granger
Release date: April 30, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult/New Adult
But the longer Shayna stays among the dead, the further she slips from sanity. If Shayna cannot find her way back she will be condemned and lost forever among the restless souls of the dead. With nothing left to lose, she will do whatever it takes to fight her way back, with or without her wings.
More than two hundred homes and two thousand square acres were destroyed in the fire. Two people were severely burned, but they survived. Amazingly, no one died. At least, that’s what the papers reported. They never found my body, and they looked for days. I know; I watched them search for me. I had always said I wanted to be cremated when I died, asking to have my ashes scattered at the roots of an old tree, but being burned alive was not what I had in mind.
My parents held my memorial outdoors, on the beach. Search and rescue told my parents it was too soon to be completely conclusive about my whereabouts, but after seeing the site where Jodi and Steven said I’d died, my parents came to the hard decision that I was, more than likely, gone.
A pack of surfers I had known since childhood paddled out to sea, each bearing a flower wreath. Once they were past the last break of waves, they cast the flowers into the ocean, letting the ebb and flow of Earth and sea take them. The beach was covered in black from mourners milling around, huddled against the winter bite in the breeze.
Deb had brought her entire coven to show their respects. Little Trisity clung to Deb’s hand while tears streamed down her face, her aura a pale gray obscuring her sweet face. Deb lifted her up and held her on her hip, letting Trisity cry into her shoulder as she made her way to my parents. Half the senior class had turned out in a wash of black, white, and gray; even a few teachers were in attendance. I had no idea so many people had known me. A huge, obnoxious picture of me stood on an easel, flowers littering the ground around it. Beside it, my surfboard stood, jammed in the sand.
Jodi and Steven received just as many hugs and whispered condolences as my parents. Their faces were dry of tears. Jodi looked hard and determined, as though an idea had taken root in her mind and she was unaware of her surroundings, whereas Steven looked distant, the fire in his eyes banked to cold embers. They accepted the hugs and nodded at the words, but otherwise they weren’t truly present. I felt Jodi’s uncontrolled magic, the sudden gusts of wind whipping her signature around, making the mourners cling to their coats and inch closer to each other.
Jensen was there, wrapped in a black peacoat and wearing a grey beanie pulled low over his ears. His hands were jammed into his coat pockets, and his tiny mother was next to him, her arm linked through the crook of Jensen’s elbow. I traced the line of his profile with my eyes, remembering the heat of his full, red lips and the sharp lines of his cheekbones under my fingers. An ache blossomed in my chest as I waited for him to turn toward me, let me see the stormy ocean of his eyes, but he never did.
I stood alone on the rocks, watching from a distance. I found when I came too close to those who had loved me in life, I stole what little peace they’d carved out for themselves. Any calm or happiness they had found would seep away, the color of their aura draining to gray. I was a wraith, bound to the shadows, trying to find my way home.
I had spent my time in the Ether, somewhere between the living and the dead, hiding and running from that which would take me from this plane. I’d seen the bright Light, the tunnel, felt the inexplicable compulsion drawing me toward it. I felt the peace it offered. It felt like home. And I turned away from it.
It was strange, watching those people, so close to them but totally apart. Even at this distance, I saw Death’s next victims. Everyone was marked for death, but the closer they came to it, the darker the mark grew over their bodies. It was a cancer that made the soul rip away from the body. I saw lung cancer creeping up on my English teacher. In another year’s time, he would know about his diminishing chances of beating it. One of Deb’s sisters stood with the shadow of Death looming over her shoulder, ready to snatch her away in a few weeks when she stepped off that curb just fifteen seconds too soon because she was digging through her purse with her phone braced between her cheek and shoulder. I was so close and yet so far away. I couldn’t warn them though the words screamed in my mind. I felt the phantom weight of my wings on my back, but I knew they weren’t there. When I died and turned away from the Light, they were ripped violently away from me.
Thankfully, when I looked at my parents they were crystal clear, no shadow looming over them. In time, the grey of their auras would clear and resonate in the rainbow spectrum as they should. But when I looked at Jodi and Steven I saw the merest whisper of a shadow. It blurred against their gray auras, but when they moved I saw it and panic nearly strangled me. But what could I do?
I turned to Jodi and watched her face, seeing the peaches and cream complexion drained to pale anger. My fingers twitched with the desire to wave to her, get her attention, make her see me even though I knew it was futile. Steven had turned his back on the congregation, looking out to the sea that usually terrified him, but today nothing scared him, nothing moved him. I sighed even though I no longer breathed, and when I pulled my gaze off of the back of Steven’s head, remembering how soft the curl of his hair felt under my fingers, I looked into Jodi’s eyes.
For one heart stopping moment, she stared right back at me.
Her pale blue eyes didn’t blink, the line of her mouth pressed hard and angry. I started to open my mouth to call out to her, but before I could, I heard the crunch of rocks behind me, making me break our eye contact. I spun around and saw the angel terrifyingly close to me.
“Shayna,” he whispered, his voice carried on Jodi’s wind, gusting now in frantic confusion.
“No!” I yelled, jumping from the rocks. I took off running, faster than I ever could in life. I prayed for my wings, willed them into existence, but the pain never came and my back remained whole and unmarred. I heard the thunder clap behind me, reverberating as his wings erupted just before he took flight, chasing me.
Fear ripped through me, threatening to trip me up. I felt the Heavens opening behind me, the warm light pressing against my back, growing warmer the closer the angel’s outstretched hand got to me. I closed my eyes and drew in the shadows of the rocks around me, turned on the spot, and let my body fall. The shadows wrapped around me and pulled me through the cosmos just as the tips of the angel’s fingers touched my sweater.
About this Author:
Like so many other writers, Shauna grew up as an avid reader, but it was in high school that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Five years ago, Shauna started work on her Elemental Series. She released the first installment, Earth, on May 1, 2011 and has since released four sequels, with the series coming to an end with Spirit. She is currently hard at work on a new Urban Fantasy series, staring a spunky witch with a smush-faced cat named Artemis.
Blogs: shaunasspot.blogspot.com and spellboundscribes.wordpress.com
GIVEAWAY:a Rafflecopter giveaway