I’m excited to announce that Rules of Fire is now available at www.ResplendencePublishing.com. Rules of Fire is the second installment to my dark paranormal series that explores the power of fate, the importance of realizing your destiny, and the consequences that incur when you break the rules.
After all, there are some rules that should never be broken.
“Fanning the Flames of Romance”
They tell me that I am special, that my ability to heal mental illness is a “gift” that should be treasured and appreciated.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm not gifted… I'm cursed.
Nothing in this life is free, not even gifts. There is always a price to be paid somewhere, somehow. My healing gift came with twelve Rules of Darkness, rules that I must follow at all times, or else risk losing my soul forever.
The rules are ingrained in who I am. They dictate how I live my life when I am awake, and they haunt me when I'm asleep. Don't look into a graveyard, Katia. Don't touch the dead, Katia. Never seek out the lost, Katia…
It's enough to drive a person mad.
And perhaps that's where I find myself now. A victim of a disease I can cure in others, but not in myself. It's madness to break the rules, and yet, I don't care. I'm tired of living my life this way. I'm tired of the rules. I won't follow them anymore. And if that means I suffer the consequences, then so be it.
To most, this sounds like the start of a beautiful fairy tale. To me, it’s the start of a horrible nightmare.
My name is Angel, and I am that young girl all grown up. You might have noticed me around. I am that “strange chick” everyone talks about— the one who enters a room and somehow causes all illuminated candles to extinguish. The one who has an irrational fear of salamanders. The one who freaks out and runs away every time she sees a large bird with crimson and gold feathers.
But if you knew the rest of the tale, you would understand.
I have spent the last seven years of my life secretly following the Rules of Fire. My family and friends have no idea of the danger I’m in, nor can they fathom how something as simple and elemental as fire can be my undoing. They don’t know that, just beyond the flickering flames, he beckons me...
And I yearn to go to him.
Suddenly, the lights dimmed and the music stopped. The crowd parted as my sorority sisters slowly walked out of the kitchen, holding a cake with twenty-one very lit candles.
I inhaled sharply as the flames danced before my eyes, mocking me.
Happy Birthday to you...
With each careful step my sorority sisters took toward me, the candles’ flames seemed to grow in height, twisting into themselves and collecting in the middle, becoming a mini tornado of fire whirling upon a field of white frosting.
And no one seemed to notice.
In my ear, I heard whispered laughter, separate from the off-key voices that sang around me. Soon, Angel. I am coming for you.
The song concluded and the room erupted into cheers.
“No, no,” I cried, resuming my struggling, my instinct for self-preservation overriding the calm acceptance I had only minutes ago displayed. And as if being inundated with raw terror was not enough, the overwhelming feeling of fear warred with my unwanted elation and excitement of seeing him again.
After all this time, after years of coaching myself not to acknowledge the would-be love spell that was attached to the freaking ring, my traitorous heart and body still yearned for the damn djinni.
Suddenly, there was a screech, then a loud flapping of wings.
Pandemonium ensued as a huge bird flew at my sorority sisters. Amid the screaming, ducking, and running, the cake toppled over, landing face down on the floor, the candles instantly extinguished under the weight of sweet bread and icing.
More flapping, more screeching, more fear.
Though I found myself free, I was caught up in the throng of people rushing toward the exits. Literally shoved out the front doors and down the porch steps, I ended up on the spacious lawn with the other guests, staring back at the house in silent horror. It seemed the very night fell still, marred only by the racket still raging inside the house as the last of the occupants fled, nearly tripping over themselves to get out the door.
With the shock beginning to wear off, my ears started tuning into the panicked conversations that had erupted around me.
“...rabid pet parrot...”
“...no, I’m telling you, it was an eagle. Call animal control...”
“...it was bleeding. Kids must’ve painted the bird’s feathers yellow...”
“...glowing? Maybe gold, and wings like flames...”
“...someone lit a swan on fire then threw it in the house...”
Just as realization was dawning in my panic-drugged brain, there was another ear piercing shriek, and the huge bird walked out the open front doors, its talons clicking on the surface of the wooden porch. It stopped and scanned the crowd, unfazed by the astonished “oohs” and “aahs” at the shining splendor of its crimson and gold plumage.
“It’s like that mythical bird,” someone whispered next to me.
“A phoenix?” his companion offered.
“Ah, shit,” I muttered, turning and rushing toward the back of the crowd, shoving people out of my way as I did. In my mind, rule number seven blared like a fire alarm, keeping beat to my pounding heart…