In the Darkest Night
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In the Darkest Night

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by Patti O'Shea
     
 

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Fleeing from both her dark heritage and the magical council she attempted to steal from, Farran’s greatest fear is to be sent back to the father she has utterly betrayed. Yet when a demon attempts to capture her, Farran knows she cannot stay hidden.  She must find help.

Kel Andrews is a magical troubleshooter with troubles of his own. Recovering from

Overview

Fleeing from both her dark heritage and the magical council she attempted to steal from, Farran’s greatest fear is to be sent back to the father she has utterly betrayed. Yet when a demon attempts to capture her, Farran knows she cannot stay hidden.  She must find help.

Kel Andrews is a magical troubleshooter with troubles of his own. Recovering from being kidnapped and tortured by darksiders, Kel has been removed from active duty by the magical council. When the mysterious Farran collapses on his doorstep, begging for help, Kel feels compelled to assist her in any way possible.

As danger—both demonic and human—closes in on them from every side, Kel and Farran must learn to trust each other as they battle the monsters that are determined to keep them apart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
O'Shea's fourth Light Warriors romance is a riveting thrill ride that will keep her readers enthralled. The story picks up where 2009's Edge of Dawn left off, with novice mage Farran hiding in Seattle from her Tàireil kin and the Gineal who hunt them. After Seth, a demon, nearly destroys her, Farran decides she's desperate enough to ask Kel, an estranged Gineal for protection. Kel is battling PTSD after being tortured as a hostage, and he sees a kindred spirit in Farran, whose abusive father left her with her own set of emotional scars. Soon Kel and Farran are caught up in a whirlwind of battles, lovemaking, pop culture references, and terrifying flashbacks and nightmares. The fast-paced story stands alone and will easily draw new fans to the series. (Apr.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765361707
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
03/30/2010
Pages:
311
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Farran put the last bottle of shampoo on the shelf, broke down the box, and pushed her cart over the grayish linoleum to the toothpaste aisle. One of the wheels emitted a sharp squeak that grated on her nerves, but she grit her teeth and ignored it. There were three different brands to stock here and that should keep her busy until break time, which was— she glanced at her watch— in exactly nineteen minutes.

She opened the box of Crest gel and began .lling the empty spot on the shelf. Until she’d started working here, she’d never owned a watch. The Tàireil were in tune with the Earth, even when it wasn’t their dimension, and she’d always had a good idea of what time it was. If she needed to be more precise, there’d always been the clock on her cell phone, but all that had changed. Farran couldn’t afford a phone now— not that she had anyone to call— and this discount chain was obsessive about punctuality. The watch had an ugly yellow plastic strap and looked as cheap as it was, but it kept her from getting .red and that was all that mattered.

To her chagrin, she needed this lousy job. It barely paid above minimum wage and didn’t offer health insurance, but no one else would hire her. Not after they got a look at her face.

Reaching up with one hand, she touched her right cheek and traced two .ngers across the skin. It was smooth, but thick and uneven, and it stood out in stark contrast to the softness of the rest of her face. The scar was hideous— Farran knew it— but she couldn’t .x it. She wanted to—oh, how she wanted to— but her magic wasn’t strong enough for the task and it wasn’t as if she could ask someone to heal it for her.

Finished with the gel, she moved down the row to the next brand of toothpaste and began putting the Colgate on the shelf. The .uorescent lights made the scar even more noticeable, but she couldn’t avoid them.

A crash from a couple of rows over made her jerk and Farran drew a deep breath before reaching for more packages and placing them in their spot. What ever had been knocked over had an orange scent to it and it grew stronger the longer she stood there. She moved faster, wanting to get out of the area before the smell made her gag.

“But, Mom,” came a whiney voice in the next aisle, “I’m supposed to text Veronica in .fteen minutes. We have to go home now.”

“We’ll leave when I have everything on our list.”

“I don’t know why I had to come anyway or why you wouldn’t let me bring my phone. Other kids get to carry their phones with them all the time.” The voice became less audible, sounding as if the pair had moved into the main aisle and away from Farran.

This was what her life had come to— listening to complaining teenagers and smelling some putrid orange cleaning product while she stocked shelves for a pittance. It was pathetic.

Farran checked her watch again. Eleven minutes until break. Dragging her feet, she wheeled the cart to the end of the aisle. She felt exposed here, on display, and dipped her head forward, trying to use her hair to hide her cheek. It was longer than she used to wear it, but not long enough to offer the concealment she so desperately wanted.

She focused on her task, doing her best to ignore the shoppers wheeling their gray- plastic carts past where she stood, trying to pretend that she didn’t see them look over a second time and stare until they were out of view. Farran wanted to .nish this last box now and .nd somewhere less visible to work.

Her hands shook and she inhaled deeply in an attempt to relax. Anxiety strummed through her and she tried to bring that under control, too. Despite her efforts, her breath shuddered out and she moved faster, trying to keep her focus on the job. How likely was it that most people cared about her? It was her imagination, her self-consciousness that made her feel as if she were standing in a spotlight, but that wasn’t reality.

The laughter made her muscles go rigid. It wasn’t jovial, we’re- having- a-good- time laughter. No, this was the nasty kind of laugh she’d heard too often over the last seven months. It was mean- spirited and cruel— like the people who thought that just because she didn’t look like them, she was fair game. After all, a freak with a scar on her face couldn’t have feelings, right?

She picked the group up in her peripheral vision— two men, three women, all around college age. The blonde was the ringleader, the sneer on her face contemptuous. Farran fumbled with the packages of toothpaste, sending them tumbling to the .oor. There was more laughter as she picked them up.

Go away. Please go away.

Her entire body began to shake and she tried to still it, not wanting them to know they had the power to decimate her. There was a gaping wound deep inside her, as if they’d sliced a cavernous gash into her soul and Far-ran could barely comprehend the casual viciousness.

It was hard, but she made eye contact with them, hoping it would humanize her and they’d leave, but that wasn’t what happened. The blonde raised her cell phone and took a picture of Farran’s scarred face.

That froze her, and for an instant, she couldn’t react, couldn’t think. Then it dawned on her. That girl was going to post the picture on the Web— Facebook, MySpace, or maybe some other site— letting other malicious people laugh at her dis.gurement. It sucked the breath from her, the physical ache matching the one in her soul.

What did she do? How did she stop this? Did they think she wanted to look like this? That she didn’t wish with her whole heart that her appearance was normal? Did they think that she was undeserving of being treated with the smallest modicum of kindness because she was different? Or did they believe she had no right to be out in public, repulsing the world with her face?

If Farran had a choice, she would hide. She hated thinking about every place she went, wondering who would be there, how many people would see her or how they’d—

Miss Cold- Cruel- and- Shallow walked away, her entourage following in her wake. Oh, God! That picture. That picture!

Farran wanted to run after them, grab the cell phone, and erase the image, but her feet wouldn’t move. She wanted to scream stop and threaten the woman with a lawsuit if the picture was used anywhere without permission, but her voice wouldn’t work. She wanted to be powerful enough magically that she could successfully use her powers on electronic items, but she wasn’t.

The urge to vomit swamped her, and she half hoped she would. Maybe that would relieve the sick, shaky feeling that had settled in her belly, but all her stomach did was roil. The worst thing was the realization that there was nothing she could do to prevent her photo from being plastered wherever that girl chose to put it. Nothing. Her stomach heaved again.

Tears welled, and biting her bottom lip, Farran blinked them back. She wasn’t letting some girl make her cry. She wasn’t!

Her exhale hitched and Farran swallowed hard. The group was still laughing and before they turned the corner, the blonde looked back over her shoulder and gave a toss of her hair. Then they were gone.

Numbness kept the totality of her devastation at bay, but Farran felt her daze fading with each second that ticked by.

Choking back a sob, she blinked harder. God, she wished she could go back in time. If she could do it over, she’d work slower and stay away from the aisle until after that heartless woman and her friends were gone. Closing her eyes, she balled her hands into .sts and whispered, “Just a couple of minutes— that’s all I need, please.”

Idiot, she berated herself, dropping her chin to her chest. Not even the strong Tàireil had control of time, and her magical power was so weak that she was limited to ordinary spells. And even some of those were tough for her. Farran forced her .ngers to relax.

There was nothing she could do— not a damn thing. She was on until closing; she had to get over this and survive the rest of the night. Had to. Farran gathered her courage, her resolve; she needed to return to work before her boss saw her standing idle and .red her.

With one last deep breath, she opened her eyes. And frowned. She was in the middle of the toothpaste row, not on the end by the main aisle. Had she walked backward without being aware of it?

Shaking her head, Farran turned to move the cart back up the aisle to .nish stocking, but went still. She’d already shelved all the Colgate, but the box was full. Looking to her left, she expected to see the shelf .lled, but it wasn’t. She stared at the empty spot and then back at the toothpaste.

A crash a couple of rows over made her jerk and suck in a sharp breath. She detected the slightest hint of orange in the air and that’s when it dawned on her— the overpowering scent had been missing. Her hands shook harder and she wrapped them around the handle of the cart.

“But, Mom,” came a whiney voice in the next aisle, “I’m supposed to text Veronica in .fteen minutes. We have to go home now.”

“We’ll leave when I have everything on our list.”

“I don’t know why I had to come anyway or why you wouldn’t let me bring my phone. Other kids get to carry their phones with them all the time.”

Farran’s eyes went wide. This didn’t make sense— nothing made sense. If she didn’t know better she’d think she was replaying—

Stupid. She was being stupid. But she looked at her watch anyway. Twelve minutes to her break time.

Twelve minutes!

Her knees buckled and Farran locked them to keep from hitting the .oor. This wasn’t possible.

Staggering to the back of the store, she pushed through the doors into the employees- only area and leaned against the wall. It wasn’t possible. This didn’t happen. No one traveled through time. No Tàireil, no matter how powerful, had ever been able to do it, and many had tried. There was no way she could have time traveled either.

No way.

Maybe the thing with that group was some kind of precognitive event. Maybe it hadn’t happened yet and she’d mentally seen into the future. Never mind that her skills in that area were as non existent as most of her other magical abilities: that made more sense than her other idea.

The nauseating orange scent was strong enough to penetrate the stockroom and she swallowed hard. She’d been around talented Tàireil seers and few ever experienced an odor with their visions. Farran had.

She’d seen the store, the rows of toothpaste in front of her. She’d heard the sound of something breaking, the whining teenager. She’d felt the smooth packaging of the toothpaste boxes and the rough cardboard box they’d been contained in. The only sense she hadn’t experienced was taste.

What were the odds that she’d suddenly developed prescience?

Slim and none, she knew, but to replay . . . Shaking her head, she ran through the timing of events to night. If she’d really gone backward a few minutes, that nasty group should be walking by the aisle any second. Of course, if she’d had a view of the future, they’d be passing by any minute, too.

Farran’s legs trembled as she forced herself to cross to the door and peer out the yellowed plastic window.

No one was out there.

See? Just some brain stutter or her overactive imagination.

Then Farran saw her, the blond girl who’d taken her picture and the girl’s friends. The emotion that shot through Farran was too strong, too violent, too immediate to be caused by some manifestation of her imagination or peek into the future. The scorn, the way they’d treated her had happened. It had really happened.

That meant—

Farran’s knees did give out then and she slid down the wall until she sat on the dirty .oor. Somehow, some way, she’d replayed a few minutes from her life and she had no idea how or why it had occurred.

Farran zipped up her Polarplus jacket as soon as she stepped outside the store and tipped her face up to the sky. The night was damp and cool, but she let it envelop her. She only wished she had an umbrella.

Her friend— her former friend— Shona would have chuckled and commented on how she could tell Farran wasn’t originally from Seattle, that no one here bothered with an umbrella for a little drizzle. Farran would have laughed with her and said something about how it was only good common sense to stay dry. It had become a standing joke in the months they’d been close.

Jamming her hands into her jacket pockets, she started walking. She missed Shona. Farran had never had many friends— she’d never really .t in the Tàireil world and here it was worse—but she and Shona had been as close as sisters. If only Farran hadn’t been forced into her father’s scheme. If only she could have gotten the dracontias from Shona without her knowing Farran had been behind her loss of the dragon stone. If only.

Farran snorted quietly and slogged along toward the bus stop. There weren’t a lot of people around, but the deep blue of her jacket helped her disappear into the darkness and she welcomed that. She wanted to barricade herself in her apartment, to be somewhere that she wouldn’t face ridicule.

Her .ngers came up and touched her scar, her thumb trailing just above it. That girl, her friends, their cruelty— it had happened. And it hadn’t.

Farran couldn’t .gure it out and she’d thought about it most of the eve ning. She hadn’t come up with any answers, but some things were certain. One minute she’d stood on the end of the toothpaste aisle, staring after her tormenters, and the next minute she’d been midrow. She wasn’t able to wield a spell to rewind the clock, that was a given, so who was powerful enough to do such a thing and why had he done it for her?

It wasn’t a member of the Gineal. They couldn’t alter time any more than the Tàireil could. In fact, both societies shared the theory that it was impossible to time travel or change the .ow in any way, that there was some natural law preventing it. Farran had accepted that, but after to night—

Someone was behind her.

She stiffened, her step hitching before she resumed her pace. Probably a human headed home the same way she was, nothing to worry about, but a shiver coursed through her. Farran moved faster and sensed whoever was back there pick up his speed, too. Not a coincidence, then; he was following her.

The streetlights seemed somehow dimmer and she looked around, hoping enough people were around to deter the guy, but the sidewalks and road were deserted now. The emptiness made the hair at her nape stand on end.

She took her hands from her jacket pockets and pulled some energy from the earth. It was a risk. Because the Gineal could track magic, she’d avoided using her powers as much as possible. But if someone meant to mug her or worse, it would be her only defense.

Needing to know what ever she could about her stalker, Farran opened her senses and probed. Her heart froze for an instant, then pounded wildly. The energy she gathered fell away.

Demon. Oh, God, she had a demon after her!

Farran pulled more energy. She couldn’t worry about humans seeing her or about the Gineal tracking her. Not now. She silently recited the incantation to open a transit.

Nothing happened.

Half running, she repeated the spell, this time aloud. The gate wouldn’t open.

The demon must have blocked her ability to create a transit. If she were stronger, his containment spell wouldn’t work, but she wasn’t. She wasn’t, damn it. Grimly, Far-ran considered her odds of surviving a one- on- one .ght. Almost zero. He was powerful enough magically that without a miracle, he’d easily beat her. While she could take on any human and win, even a minor demon would level her.

He gained on her and Farran panicked. She knew better, but she ran. There was no way to outdistance him, no place to hide. She kept going anyway, using all the speed she possessed. Her breathing became harsh and ragged, her .eld of vision tunneled, but she zigzagged wildly along the sidewalk to avoid getting hit. The demon didn’t fire at her.

Excerpted from In The Darkest Night by Patti O'Shea.

Copyright © 2010 by Patti J. Olszowka.

Published in April 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and

reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in

any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

Born with a need to see everything, PATTI O'SHEA has traveled to far off and exotic places like Papua New Guinea, Fanning Island, and the Yukon Territory in Canada. She currently lives in Minnesota, where she works in the airline industry.

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In the Darkest Night 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
SteveTheDM More than 1 year ago
So, first things first: I received this book as part of the Goodreads First-Reads program, which sends out free books to readers hoping for them to post glowing reviews on the various book-reader web sites. But here's the truth: I really didn't like this book much. Granted, paranormal romance isn't a genre that I've spent any time with, but I do like paranormal and urban fantasy stories, so this really wasn't a huge stretch for me. No, the real problem with this book was a pair of characters who could most accurately be described as "losers" for most of the narrative. The first protagonist is a woman who constantly goes on about how weak and helpless she is, whining about issues she's too wound up about to actually enunciate. The second protagonist is a protector type with a deep and dark background he doesn't want to talk about, either. In other words, a pair of people that are impossible to feel any empathy toward. There was a time in the late 90s when I watched a lot of "date" movies with British actors who had an inability to communicate, and I walked out of every single one of those completely frustrated with characters who couldn't TALK to one another. This book might not have British actors, but damn, it's sure full of people who can't talk. So if I didn't like the characters, I could hope for a fun setting, right? Well, no. Not here. This book takes place in essentially two places. If there's any world here, with any other people around, the author sure left that information in her notes, because it didn't make it into the novel. Was there any good at all then? Well, the last quarter of the book moves more from "romance" to "paranormal," and that was a lot more interesting. (Though "paranormal" is wrong. This is urban fantasy, only without a good urban setting.) The fantasy elements are reasonably well thought out, and might be an interesting thing to explore-with a different set of characters and setting all together. 2 of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Seattle, novice mage Farran hides from her family the Taireil and more so from the Gineal who want them dead. However, she knows she is fortunate to remain alive after Seth the demon attacked her. Farran needs help so she asks exiled Gineal Kel Andrews to keep her safe. Kel has issues having barely survived being a tortured hostage. He sees Farran like a sister struggling against a world of maliciousness as he suffers nightmares from his captivity. As they fall in love, danger mounts from paranormal and human enemies, and almost as perilous their personal fears. The latest Light Warrior romantic urban fantasy (see In the Midnight Shadows and Edge of Dawn) is a terrific action-packed thriller that opens with a powerful setting the background scene with references to Crest gel for instance to counter balance Seth. The story line is fast-paced throughout, but accelerates when the heroine faints at the doorstep of the hero. The sub-genre audience will be enthralled with Patti O'Shea's latest Light Warrior battling In the Darkest Night. Harriet Klausner