Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Character Interview: BATTERED not broken by Charity West @Writer_Charity #giveaway #interview


Please welcome the character from BATTERED not broke !


What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?

Definitely the romance. <grin> Getting to know Wren has been amazing, and I’m really glad she’s part of my life.



Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?

All the time. When she wasn’t writing, I’d try to give her a little nudge. The sooner the story was told, the sooner I’d get to meet the amazing readers out there.



What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

I live in a small town and there’s this great lake not too far away. I like to go fishing, just sit in the quiet. I’m a Sheriff’s Deputy, so my job can be stressful.  I enjoy doing anything that’s calming. Fishing, reading, just hanging out with my girl.



Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?

Yes, but I could have done without those suspense scenes. A straight romance with the only heart racing moments being those between Wren and me would have been awesome. Having someone threaten the girl of your dreams is not high on my list of things I want to experience.



If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

It’s hard to say. I’d love to go back and have Wren come from a sheltered home, where she was loved and cared for, and not beaten whenever her dad felt like it. But then, if she hadn’t been escaping that life, I never would have met her.



Do you like the way the book ended?

Happy endings are always awesome. I know that Wren and I still have an amazing future ahead of us, but we’re definitely on the right path. The only thing that would have made it better would have been looking about five years into the future. I’d like to think I’d be married to Wren by then.



What is your greatest fear?

Going to work and not coming back home. Our town is pretty quiet, but any morning I wake up and put on my badge and my gun, there’s a chance I won’t come home that night. I would hate to put Wren through that. I know if I lost her I’d be devastated, and I’m sure she feels the same about me.



What do you wear when you go to sleep?

In the hotter months, I sleep in my boxers, but I keep pajama pants in my dresser for the cooler weather.



What do you find most appealing in men/women?

The first thing I notice about a woman is her eyes, unless she’s too far away. Then it’s the curve of her hip. With Wren, it was a little of both…and then she smiled and I was a goner. Of course, I knew her as Wendy then.



What sound or noise do you love?

I love the sound of rain on a tin roof, or a storm raging outside. I like to watch the lightning flash and hear the thunder rumble.

 

What sound or noise do you hate?

Definitely nails on a chalkboard.



Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I love watching the sun rise in the mornings and enjoying a cup of coffee out on the porch. But with my job, I have to be prepared to work any shift, and sometimes that means I have to be a night owl.



Have you ever gone alone to either dinner or a movie? What about a vacation?

I used to go out alone all the time. Can’t say I’ve ever been on vacation alone though, usually I had my grandfather with me. He raised me after my parents died.

 Thanks again for visiting with us today !!!!

***
BATTERED

not broken
by CHARITY WEST

Contemporary/Romance/Young Adult
40K, Evernight Teen Publishing


Who knew falling for a man in Khaki could cause so much trouble?
Battered and bruised, Wren has taken a lot from her father over the years, but when he throws her out of the house, she sees it as a blessing in disguise. She has no job, no home, and never finished high school, but what’s all that compared to a life without abuse? When she starts over in a new town, under a new identity, she makes it her goal to fly under the radar.
New town, new life. Only, there’s a corrupt deputy intent on stealing Deputy Gray Frampton’s family fortune, a slight case of aggravated identity fraud, and a night in the local jail. It’s enough to make any girl’s head spin. Wren Michaels has to find a way not to spend the next three years in jail, warn Gray that Deputy Pritchard is after him, and somehow hold onto the happily-ever-after that is finally within her grasp—assuming Gray wants a felon as his girlfriend. Who knew falling for a man in khaki could cause so much trouble?

Buy Links:    Evernight Teen    Amazon    ARe
14+ due to violence and adult situations

Excerpt:
The shadows crept closer as a deep cold settled into my bones. I cowered on the floor of my closet, hidden behind shoes and clothes, as I listened to the slap of flesh against flesh. He’d come home drunk again, even more so than usual, and he’d barely cleared the door before landing the first blow. It was cowardly of me to hide. I should stand up and fight—do something to make him stop. My phone was still clutched in my hand, and my heart pounded in my chest, the thump-thump loud in my ears. I knew I should call 9-1-1 and get help for Mom, but I also knew that even if they arrested him, they’d never keep him. Mom would give the cops some bullshit excuse as to why he was beating her, or say she fell, and then she’d refuse to press charges. If I thought things were bad now, they’d be even worse if he went to jail for the night. We’d lived through that horror once already, and once was more than enough. No one had to tell me my dad was an abusive asshole who thrived on being a bully. I’d experienced it firsthand.
My palms grew slick as I heard my mother’s whimpers and then booted steps coming down the hall. Was I going to be next? The footsteps grew louder, and I heard my bedroom door slam into the wall. I bit my lip to stifle my cry, hoping he wouldn’t find me. He shuffled around my room, his boots clomping and scraping the wood floor as he searched for me. When the closet doors were flung open, I squeezed myself as far into the corner as I could, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough.
An iron grip closed around my arm, his fingers biting into my skin, as he jerked me out of the closet. I stumbled and fell to my knees at his feet, bracing myself for what would happen next. My head was wrenched back, tears stinging in my eyes as he fisted my hair. There was such hatred in his gaze, such contempt, as if he couldn’t even stand to look at me. I’d always done everything he’d ever asked, and still it wasn’t enough. As far as my dad was concerned, I’d ruined his life, and he was going to make me pay for it until I was able to leave this place behind.
“Thought you could hide from me?” he slurred. “Stupid little bitch.”
The slap across my cheek made tears spill down my face, but I ground my teeth together so I wouldn’t make a sound. When he knew he was causing me pain, he seemed to enjoy it more, and I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. He pulled hard until I was standing upright, my hair still clutched in his fist, and then he punched me in the stomach. I folded at the waist, gasping for breath as stars danced in my vision and bile rose in my throat.
“Worthless. That’s what you are.” He kicked out and knocked me to my knees again. “You should be groveling, thanking me for your life. If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be here, you ungrateful shit.”
Yes, because thanking him for the abuse he heaped on me day after day, thanking him for all the hurtful names I’d been called, thanking him for the days I’d had to skip school because I couldn’t hide the bruises—that was exactly what I wanted to do. One day, he would get what was coming to him. I didn’t know how or who would do it, but I knew someday he’d piss off the wrong person and they’d beat his ass until he cried like a baby. And I hoped like hell I was there to see it. I’d kick back with some popcorn and enjoy the show. I hated him. Hated him.
“You think I don’t see the way you look at me?” he demanded. “Well, I’m tired of it. I’m finished with you. My life was better before your mother got knocked up. Ever since she popped you out, you’ve been nothing but a financial drain. Not anymore. You have five minutes to pack your shit and get the fuck out of my house. And if I ever see you again, I’ll make you wish you were never born.”
Like I didn’t already wish that every day of my life. I should thank him for offering me freedom, even if I had nowhere to go. Anything was better than staying here. Plenty of people lived on the streets, so there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t do it, too. It just meant I’d have to find a way to get my GED sooner rather than later. Dropping out of high school hadn’t been the best decision in the world, but when Dad had broken my arm, Mom had thought it would be better than facing questions we couldn’t answer.
He stomped out of the room, and I heard his bedroom door slam. After grabbing a bag out of my closet, I shoved several outfits, underthings, and socks into it. I snatched my toothbrush and hairbrush out of the bathroom and crammed them in there, too. As an afterthought, I grabbed the travel pouch from under the sink that had shampoo, soap, and a razor tucked inside. I didn’t know where I would go to shower, or where I was going to sleep tonight, but I would figure it out. Maybe Mom would let me come home to bathe while Dad was at work a few times a week. Plus, it would give me a chance to check on her.
I zipped up my bag and then grabbed my backpack and purse off the bed. With my keys clutched tight, I walked out of the only home I’d ever known. Mom didn’t say a word as I passed her, and she didn’t try to stop me. Maybe she figured I was better off living anywhere but at home, and she may have been right.

About the Author:
Charity West is a young adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.
By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.



Giveaway:
$10 Evernight Teen GC



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 22, 2016

Meet Peter Hergovich, the Night Angel from Book of Angels by K.H. Mezek @evernightteen #amazongiveaway @karenalainehunt



A Character Interview from the HERO in Book of Angels

The Night Angel, Peter Hergovich

How did you first meet your writer?
The first time I met Sera, she was walking out of Professor Strejan’s office at Oak Haven High. She almost ran into me and I had to steady her. This is told of in the first book, Key of Mystery. 


Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
It’s about the least unusual thing about my life! Sera decided to record the history of this journey when she met the Inscriber for the International Order of Denizens. I can understand how the Inscriber convinced her to do this. If the story wasn’t recorded accurately, many would come forward to try and tell it with lies. This we know from the histories written of humans. They are filled with lies. So, although I would rather remain anonymous, at least the telling is accurate. 


What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?
I am a distinctly private person. Therefore, the telling of our romantic encounters makes me uncomfortable. On the other hand, our romance was beautiful and it is what made it possible for us to endure what came after. I suppose, in relation to that, my favorite scene would be with Sera on the balcony of Strejan’s castle. The first time we kiss. It is…well, I suppose you should read what Sera says about it. And then, the moment is gone, and she wants more from me and I try to explain to her how impossible that is. I am ancient while she is just a baby. She becomes hurt and angry. She doesn’t yet understand how important memories are to the immortals. I tell her to hold onto this memory; that it will sustain her in the times ahead, when the evil rises and she might have cause to doubt me. This ends in an argument—as so many of our encounters do—and I leave her. And I am right, of course. That memory, made in a moment of clarity when there were no outside influences trying to sway us, is something we never forget. In the midst of battle, in darkness and despair, when we face our greatest enemies and are falling into the void, that moment returns to remind us of what is good and true and right.   


If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Ah, this is a terrible thing to remind me of. If I could, I would rewrite Sera’s Turning. I would save her from the fate of becoming a denizen and all that the curse brought on her. But if I try to think of how that could be done, or what the alternate story would be, I cannot. Who else but Sera could possess, and be possessed, by the Key of Mystery? 


Would you be interested in a sequel, if your writer was so inclined?
Well, there six books in this series and Book of Angels is number two, so the story has a way to go yet. It has all happened and I won’t tell you where I am now. Or where Sera is. That would spoil the telling, wouldn’t it? But I can tell you the titles: Key of Mystery; Book of Angels; Cave of Secrets; Land of Talismans; Throne of Desire; Door of Destiny.


What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?
My arrogance and my seeming to not care about her. Okay, perhaps I am a bit arrogant. Do I not have a right to be? I am a Night Angel. I was born of nobility in a Slavic land, and as a boy, given to Mehmet as a gift. He made me into what I am. I have lived five hundred years of death and violence and I have survived and grown in strength and wisdom. Yes, I have a right to be arrogant. But to even question my love…is there a reason for that? Is my love completely honest and without ulterior motive? Judge for yourself as you read!


What do you do for a living?
I am a Night Angel. No one kills as well as I do. 


What is your greatest fear?
I have no fears. 


What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is my sword. But more than that, I cannot talk about now. 
It will become apparent why further into the series. 


Who was your first girlfriend/boyfriend and what do you like most about them?
I am five hundred years old. I have never called anyone a “girlfriend” or a “boyfriend.” I have had relationships, both frivolous and profound, with both sexes. The first was a young boy, just my age. It wasn’t that we had sex. We were both just ten years old, although at that time, many had sex at that age. He, too, was training to be a Janissary in the Sultan’s army. He had been captured in an area that is now Germany. He was tall for his age, taller than me, and slim, with long golden hair. I, myself have golden skin and black hair. My mother was Mongolian. One night not long after he had been captured, I found him cornered by the other boys, they were making fun of him and he was crying. I fought off the others and that night, we lay down and held each to comfort ourselves in the loneliness. We became inseparable. I loved him because he was honest and full of dreams. He was happy no matter what the circumstances. And he kept his word when he gave it. All such traits are almost impossible to find in a human or a denizen. I have no doubt our relationship would have developed if we’d had more time. But he died not long after he had arrived. He contracted an illness. It was terrible to watch the life slowly leave him, to see his beauty fade when he was so young, to see him shrivel and become nothing but bones. He was like a poem to me.  


What do you think your greatest weakness is?
I have no weaknesses. 


What do you think is your strongest attribute?
My strongest attribute is the knowledge I have accumulated and my ability to still find the acquiring of it interesting. This is the danger for an immortal creature, that life will become uninteresting and interminable. This has never happened to me. 


What is something no one knows about you?  Why do you keep it a secret?  And what would happen if everyone found out about it?
I am sure that there must be people who answer this question. But please, do you really think someone like me is going to reveal such a secret? If I have kept it in my heart for five hundred years, do you think your question will bring it out now? But there is a secret that is revealed in the Night Angels Chronicles and you will have to read the series to find out what it is. I am not directly responsible for its being revealed. And looking back now, I can’t say I’m sorry that the truth came out.  


What is your vivid memory of your mother and father?
My vivid memory is of my parents standing in the open gate of our castle and watching as I was taken away by the Sultan’s emissaries. It was a cold spring morning and dew lay heavy on the ground and dripped from the trees. I was terrified, I did not understand what was happening to me. I felt betrayed by my parents. How could they send me away with such barbarians? Didn’t they love me? I had been a happy, innocent child. That moment was the beginning for me of becoming bitter, angry and vengeful. My last view of my parents was of them both standing still and silent. My father held his head high—talk about arrogant. He did not want to give up anything that really mattered, so he gave up me. My mother, her expression was stoic. After all, she herself had been captured by invading armies. My father had fallen in love with her and married her, even though she was a Mongolian and a slave. But I knew that beneath my mother’s fa├žade, she was dying inside. And in fact, she fell ill and did die, a year after I was taken. I only found this out many years later. They say it was from grief. But, my father’s lands were protected and remained free. Fortunately, my tutor, Augustine Strejan came with me to Constantinople. He helped me understood the sacrifice my father had made and how he had no choice but to obey. I vowed I would never place myself in such a position that anyone would rule me. Or that anyone could take from me what I loved.  

  
What word makes you the happiest?
Salam, which means peace. It is a new experience for me to want peace 
when for so long I fought and killed. 


What is your least favorite word?
I cannot say here my least favorite word. Words have power and it would be 
dangerous for me to say it. But I can tell you I have a great distaste for swear
 words. Sera swears and it makes me exceedingly angry. 


What sound or noise do you love?
I love the sound of Sera’s voice when she whispers my name.


What sound or noise do you hate?
I hate the sound of Fabian Gore’s voice when he starts pontificating.
 I want to tear him apart and feed him to the wind demons. 


Would you ever use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone?
What a laughable idea. I use my sword or my bare hands. Or a knife. I look a person in the eyes when I kill them. I used to bite into their flesh and drink their blood. It is no secret that although I did not actually do it myself, I stood by while thousands of humans were impaled on poles during the Ottoman Empire. I was a vampire then. I knew no better. The angels have forgiven me. Voodoo dolls are for weak and ignorant humans who play with forces they do not understand. 


What’s your favorite animal?
For the most obvious of reasons it is a panther. 


Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo, what would it be and where? 
If not, what if you had to?
I will never get a tattoo. I am not like Dante and the rebel denizens. And the idea
 that someone could make me do anything I do not want to do is preposterous. 


What do you admire about your parents?
This is a difficult question for me. My parents are so far in the distance, it is hard for me to bring them back into my consciousness. They were mere humans and as such they were frail and flawed. I admire the courage of my mother. I despise the weakness of my father. And I understand that has humans, they did the best they could. They are long dead. I live. A denizen has no attachment to humans. Attachments to humans, especially one’s human family, is the way of madness. 


Thanks again Peter for visiting with us today and we'd love to see you back again !

*  *  *
Book of Angels
(Night Angels Chronicles, 2)
by K.H. Mezek

81K / Evernight Teen Publishing
Romance, Fantasy, Suspense, Urban Fantasy

All Sera ever wanted was to solve the mystery of her dad’s death and find out whether or not the Night Angel, Peter, really loved her. Now, there are bigger issues at stake. After being saved from death by the Night Angels, Sera returns to Oak Haven to find her brother, Salem, has been saved by her nemesis, the sinister Los Angeles mayor-to-be, Fabian Gore. Sera and her brother meet again in their hometown of Oak Haven as powerful denizens. And as enemies. Someone is channeling power to the Queen, imprisoned in St. Catherine’s Monastery. If she escapes, the Ancient Ones will rise up from their sarcophagi beneath churches throughout the world and wreak vengeance on denizens and humans alike. 

To thwart the Queen, Sera has no choice but to form an uneasy alliance with Gore. Meanwhile, Sera’s power and her connection to the Key of Mystery is growing. Only she can open the Book of Angels. But whoever does that will become something that Sera never wants to be: the Seventh Angel. How can Sera solve her own problems when everyone else wants her to solve their problems as well?  

Buy Links:  Evernight Teen / Amazon  / ARe




14+ due to adult situations

Excerpt:
The next thing I knew I had leapt into the air with the two of them, my mind on St. Catherine’s Monastery, and I found myself hurtling through the Passage, horribly aware of every atom in my body and the indomitable forces of the universe that were trying to pull me apart.
As if it were a part of my very being, I held myself together, “remembered myself”, and traveled through the Passage.
Within seconds, I was floating down from the sky, surrounded by the immense, desolate beauty of what looked like a moonscape. Except that the moon shone brighter and bigger than I had ever seen. Behind me, sand stretched, wave upon wave of it, with not a hint of grass or trees, while in front rose a sheer cliff, taller than a skyscraper. The monastery seemed to grow out of the rock, so closely was it pressed against the cliff.
“All looks peaceful,” observed Peter.
“Maybe too peaceful,” said Blanca.
Together, we jumped over the fortress walls, landing in the empty courtyard. We entered the sixth century basilica. We walked from the vestibule into the ornate nave and down the aisle, toward the sanctuary. I gazed in awe at the ancient artifacts and the icons shining with gold. Hundreds of lamps hung from the high ceiling like glittering galaxies, bathing the vast room in an eerie light. Out of the shadows the figure of the Abbot appeared, wearing a long gray robe and a cylindrical, flat-topped hat. His long black hair was tied in a knot at the nape of his head, a frizzy beard spreading out from his face like tangled wire. His large, hooked nose resembled a bird’s beak and his dark eyes burned uncannily from deep sockets.
He greeted us with a humble bow and wordlessly led us through a dark and narrow arched doorway into a small, circular, windowless chamber, padding silently on bare feet. The chamber was empty except for one plain wooden table. On the table sat the black lacquered Life Box, looking just as insignificant as the Object Holder had when I had first seen it and fought over it with Salem. This box, though, was about twice the size of the one that had held the key. And, whereas the Object Holder had a gold lock and tiny gold key to open it, the Life Box had no lock and no visible way to open it.
On either side of the table stood two impressive Bedouin warriors. Each had one hand resting on a curved scimitar and the other holding the hilt of a knife tucked into a belt. Their faces were lined and weather-beaten and expressionless, as if carved from the rocks of the mountain. The desert surrounding the monastery was home to many Bedouin. They were devout Muslims with a long history of guarding the monastery. They had made a vow to guard the Life Box with their lives.
The Abbot motioned for the Bedouin to stand at ease.
Bowing low to us, the guards said in unison, “Assalamu alaikum.” It meant, “peace be upon you.”
Along with Peter and Blanca, I responded, “Alaikum assalamu.” This meant, “upon you be peace.”
Like everything else in my crazy life these days, I had no idea how I knew to say that, but I did.
The Abbot didn’t speak, just gestured for us to gather around the box.
“He has taken a vow of silence and hasn’t spoken in thirty years,” said Peter.
My attention was drawn to the box. I realized it vibrated and hummed in an almost undetectable manner. Only when I remained completely still and stared fixedly did I notice it. 
“This it does without stopping and just today, it gained in force,” said one of the Bedouin.
Sure enough, as we watched, the box jumped slightly, shuddered, and jumped again before falling back into its continual vibration. It hummed a little louder now.
As I watched in fascination, I slowly became aware that the key around my neck was growing heavier and beginning to burn.
The box vibrated more violently and hummed louder. As it did, it rose into the air and hovered about two feet above the table. The vibrating and humming grew so loud I thought the box might split apart.
The key was searing my skin and I yelled in pain. I tried to tear it off, but it was stuck to my chest and my hand burned when I touched it. I felt the Queen’s presence, reaching out to me. It was pure evil and I felt attracted to it. I wanted to bow down and worship the Queen, give her the key. I became brutally aware of her perfections and my own failings. I loved the Queen! I despised and hated myself! Horrible thoughts rose in my mind, the impulse to do horrible things.
Blood was pouring from my eyes. Tears or something worse, I didn’t know.
“Take me away!” I cried out to the others. “She’s grabbing at me. Take me away. Please!
The Bedouin had drawn their swords and whipped out their daggers, but there was nothing they could do except stand there, at the ready. Blanca and Peter had drawn their swords, too. They’d placed themselves as a shield between me and the box. The Abbot ran in front of us all and pushed Blanca and Peter back.
He turned to face the box, bracing himself as if against a great wind, and raised his hands to heaven in prayer.
Peter and Blanca were then able to pull me out of the chamber. I don’t think I could have moved before the Abbot faced the box. As soon as we were back in the nave, I collapsed onto the ground, gasping great gulps of air, thankful to find the heat of the key subsiding. With a great cry, I tried to take it off, but it was stuck. Completely stuck now. To my skin.
“Fuck this key! Why am I cursed with it?”
My entire body was bathed in red sweat. I looked down at myself in horror. What had I become? What nightmare had I entered? I pushed back my hair and swallowed, my throat dry and constricted. I had to get control of myself. I breathed in and out deeply.
“She’s getting stronger all the time. She’ll get out. Maybe soon. And I was ready to help her!” I shuddered.
“But you didn’t,” said Peter.
“At least now we are sure she is still inside,” said Blanca.
“She won’t stay there.” I could see my fate, as I had already seen it in my Turning, and it was clearer than ever. One day I would face the Queen. 
And I would fail! How could I not, when she was so easily able to deceive and confuse me?
One of the Bedouin exited the chamber. “The Abbot wants you to know he is now sure someone is channeling power to the Queen, but he cannot see who.”
“It’s just not possible,” said Blanca. 
The Bedouin bowed respectfully. “I only tell you what the Abbot believes.”
“Thank you,” said Peter.
The Bedouin continued. “The Abbot further believes that you must discover who is doing this. You must stop them or she will escape.”
He bowed again and returned to the nave.
“He’s right,” I said, as we walked out of the sanctuary and into the vestibule. “She and her sons will kill me and take the key.”
“Coward.” Blanca kicked the church door open with her foot. “We might as well be protecting a pile of trash! If it weren’t for the key around your neck, I’d kill you myself!”
For the first time, Blanca’s words didn’t bother me. “You can call me what you want, I don’t care. But you better listen because she will escape and we won’t be able to stop her. We need to figure out what to do instead of arguing all the time.”
“Well said,” said Peter. “Let’s get back to the castle and tell the others.”
We were outside of the basilica now and we stood for a moment, surveying the courtyard, the full moon casting eerie shadows across the ground. I looked more carefully and saw that some of the shadows moved like living things.
“What’s that?” I asked.
Peter and Blanca looked up to the sky and I did the same. A gathering storms of wispy black tendrils snaked across the sky, mirroring the moving shadows on the ground.
“What the hell…” I said.
“Wind demons,” said Blanca.
I looked at Peter inquiringly. “Seventy-two demons were captured by King Solomon and then released by mistake. Up there you see maybe twenty of them.”
The Abbot and the two Bedouin had joined us in the courtyard.
“We have never seen them here before,” said one of the Bedouin.
“And so many,” said Peter. He sighed. “I hate wind demons.”
The Abbot was motioning us to follow him. We hurried across the courtyard, which was now filled with a howling wind, the shadows of the wind demons slithering back and forth across the stones like snakes. A group of monks appeared, running in the opposite direction, heading for the church.
“They will pray,” yelled one of the Bedouin above the din.
This was not making me any happier. I had just escaped the clutches of the Queen and now I had to contend with wind demons? Was there no end to the problems I had to face in one day?
The Abbot led us into the Fatimid mosque that stood across from the church. Standing on its own, opposite the gigantic bell tower, was the minaret and we entered and climbed swiftly up the stairs. It was from this highest point that the muezzin sang across the desert, calling the followers of Islam to prayer, five times a day. We climbed out onto the little platform that ran around the top of the minaret, and from here, I felt the full force of the gale. The shadows screamed and I could see cavernous, greedy mouths appear and disappear as they whipped around the tower, creating a whirlpool of darkness. Only when I looked straight up could I see clear sky and stars. But that opening was growing narrower by the minute. All around was completely empty of light, as if the very sky itself had been sucked into a giant black hole of whirling mouths and tails, into which we, too, would be sucked if we tried to fly upward.
Peter and Blanca unsheathed their swords and I did the same.
Peter pointed with his sword. “We must fly straight up. They don’t dare come too close to the minaret.”
The Abbot nodded, making motions that we should hurry.
“Put your sword away,” Peter said.
I began to object, then obeyed. This didn’t seem like the time to argue.
He gripped my arm. “Listen carefully! Jump onto my back. Once we’ve achieved the Passage, we’ll be safe. Until then, you must hold your breath—don’t breathe, understand? If you do, the shadows will enter and steal your soul.”
I nodded, terrified.
I jumped onto his back and held on tightly.
The Abbot raised his arms, while the Bedouin brandished their swords at the swirling darkness. It seemed to abate a bit, and Peter and Blanca seized that moment to leap into the air. I breathed in deeply and held onto my breath.
All was chaos in the tunnel through the shadows, the terrible wind trying to push us back down, a screaming noise like a thousand pigs being gutted. Flying straight upward, the two Night Angels fought the demons with their swords, slicing into the tendrils that tried to encircle them.
I was sure we had almost made it when I felt an icy tendril touch my leg. I almost opened my mouth to scream. As it was, I let go of Peter with one arm and tried to reach down to bat at the tendril. I felt myself slipping halfway down his back and scrambled to pull myself back up again.
I was falling!
The snaky thing had my ankle now. I tried to kick with my foot to shake it off, while struggling to get a better hold on Peter. I was growing weaker. I had to take a breath. My chest was exploding.
And then, the Passage was achieved and we were through. I pushed away from Peter with relief, feeling the now familiar force of my molecules trying to split apart and me holding them together, as we rocketed through space and time, landing within seconds in the little garden of the castle. 



Key of Mystery, Book 1,  is also available now:   
Amazon   Evernight Teen    ARe


About the Author:
Karen Hunt aka KH Mezek is the author and/or illustrator of nineteen children’s books and numerous essays and short stories. 'Reflections from Istanbul,' an excerpt from her childhood memoir, won the 2015 New Millennium Writings Nonfiction Award. She is the co-founder of InsideOUT Writers, a creative writing program for incarcerated youth in Los Angeles, and the founder of the MY WORLD PROJECT, connecting youth in remote areas around the world through art and writing. She is a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, a first degree brown belt in Eskrima, and a boxing and kick-boxing trainer. As a child, she and her family escaped out of Egypt right before the 6 Day War, lived in a 17th century castle in Switzerland and smuggled Bibles into communist countries, to name a few of her adventures. As an adult, she continued her adventures, living between London and a village in Yugoslavia. Key of Mystery and Book of Angels, volumes one and two in the NIGHT ANGELS CHRONICLES, are published with Evernight Teen.  


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