The second book in the Moonlight Trilogy
Simon Howard accidently killed three people. Four months later, the nightmares won’t stop. Willa Fairfield, his girlfriend, his soul mate, wants nothing more than to help him move on. But guilt isn’t the only thing getting in Simon’s way. When unexplained earthquakes hit the small town of Twelve Acres and dozens of people go missing, the Light witches discover their most feared enemy, Archard, is still alive. Employing the twisted, dynamic magic of a legendary witch known as Bartholomew the Dark, Archard plans to exact his revenge and take control of the Powers of the Earth on the night of the black moon, a rare lunar event infamous for Dark magic. As the Light Covenant fumbles to defend against Archard’s sadistic intentions, Simon’s magic grows inexplicably more powerful—even dangerous. Willa throws all her efforts into solving the mystery of Simon’s transformation, but when the events of the past storm into the present, the couple’s future changes forever.
About the Author
Teri Harman is the author of Blood Moon. She also writes a biweekly book column for the news site KSL.com and hosts a monthly television segment for Studio 5, a lifestyle program. She lives in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Read an Excerpt
By Teri Harman
Jolly Fish PressCopyright © 2014 Teri Harman
All rights reserved.
January 500 A.D.
The bookmaker bent over his worktable, forehead pinched in concentration, eyes straining in the candlelight. In his calloused, ink-stained hand, he held a knife, small and sharp. One by one he lifted the dried goat hides onto the table. With practiced precision, he cut each exactly sixteen inches tall and thirty-two inches long. When folded over, each piece would make two pages. It was delicate work, but the thin, soft hides made the smoothest parchment. And only the best could be used for this book.
He paused for a moment to wipe the sweat from his corrugated brow and rub the exhaustion from his eyes. Through three days of nearly nonstop work, he'd barely dared to sleep or eat, even when the smell of lime wafting off the hides stung his eyes or he grew dizzy from lack of food. If his customer arrived and the book was not finished (and perfect), there would be far worse things to suffer than hunger and watery eyes.
Finally, he cut and stacked the last page.
Carefully, the craftsman mixed his special red ink and sharpened his quill to a deadly point. He pulled the top piece of parchment from the stack and, with his ruler in place, began to line the page. Line after line after line. This task was usually done by an apprentice scribe, but the customer had insisted that no other hands touch it.
Line after line after line after line after ...
When dawn breathed light into the sky, the craftsman slumped over the last page, half asleep. When the cock crowed, he jerked awake in a moment of panic. A quick look around the room set his heart at ease.
He gathered the lined pages and his binding materials. His stomach twisted with hunger, but with a sigh the craftsman set back to work. He folded the first few pages and nestled them into gatherings, or sections of pages. Once the gatherings were prepared, he skillfully sewed them onto the cords of leather that would support the pages.
Near midday he finally paused for a quick meal of stale bread and hard cheese. With the last bite still in his mouth, he returned to his workbench. When he finished the sewing, the craftsman prepared to form the book. From a high shelf he pulled two thin wooden planks. Carefully, he laced the ends of the leather supports though channels carved into the cover planks.
The bookmaker worked hard to keep his mind on his task, forbidding himself to wonder what this book might be meant for; but it was nearly impossible — considering the man who would own it. He'd heard the rumors, the hushed speculations about the mysterious man known as Bartholomew. Some said he had burned an entire town to the ground with the townspeople trapped inside, unable to escape. Others said he never aged. And some even whispered the word witch in fearful tones.
When the tall man with shadows in his face had walked into the shop, the craftsman's bones had turned to ice; and he knew instantly who stood before him. Bartholomew was everything and nothing like what he'd expected. But his voice — like foul whispers from hell spun into silk — had haunted the craftsman every moment since that day.
Another rumor flew around in whispers: Bartholomew was gathering others like him, forming some sort of terrible coven. The bookmaker loved and cherished every book he made; he longed to protect his art, but feared this book would be put to unspeakable uses. He knew, deep inside, that this one book would forever taint his legacy.
Yet refusal was not an option. He'd known that, looking at Bartholomew's intense, otherworldly eyes.
The old craftsman, his back aching, stretched a thick piece of high quality black leather over the cover planks and secured it with several small tacks. Next, he placed the metal corner pieces, meant to protect the soft leather but also to serve as ornamentation. Bartholomew himself had provided these pieces, and the bookmaker tried hard to ignore how each one felt warm to the touch.
He secured two large metal clasps to the back of the book, each with a thick leather strap attached which wrapped around the fore edge and slid into clasps on the cover to keep the book closed. The final detail, a round metal medallion for the center of the front cover, was also warm, almost hot. Several unsettling symbols were etched into the metal. On the outside of the circle, arrayed around the middle, were six odd triangles. In the center were two more symbols: a sun with curved rays spiraling outward, and three ovals stacked on top of each other, progressively larger in size, with a single line running down through the center of them all.
The craftsman let his hands drop.
The impressive but sadistic book was complete. As the bookmaker stood up from his chair and stretched, his body felt brittle and hard, like dried wax. Looking down at his work — some of his finest — he felt like crying. A chill moved through him as he ran a stiff hand over the cover. Normally, he would brand his mark on the back to claim his work, but not on this book. He pulled a cloth from a drawer and covered the tome.
The sun had nearly set. The craftsman, exhausted but unable to sleep with the perverse book in his home, collapsed into the chair by the fire. He watched the flames, his eyes blurry and heart heavy.
The door of the shop burst open.
The old man jumped in his chair, but did not turn to see his visitor; he knew. Bartholomew had returned to collect his book.
"Is it finished?" asked a voice like burning velvet.
The craftsman couldn't speak but merely gestured to where the tome sat beneath its cloth, like the dead. The stranger's footfalls were barely audible on the wooden floor, but the craftsman heard every little noise — the whisper of the cloth falling to the floor, the brush of Bartholomew's gloves as he lifted the book, and his deep hum of pleasure as he stroked the cover.
The craftsman cringed, his heart aching.
Then the tall, shadowy figure stood next to his chair. He dared a glance at Bartholomew's face. The eyes were like small moons, nearly silver and luminous like marsh lights. The skin was pale, almost the same color as the parchment in the book, but flushed with a healthy vigor. Bartholomew's long hair, dark blond, like wheat at harvest time, was pulled back from his face and his neatly-trimmed beard. If not for the air of evil that pulsed from him, Bartholomew might have been handsome.
The craftsman looked back at the flames.
"Fine work, bookmaker," Bartholomew whispered in his velvet voice.
The craftsman didn't respond. All he could think about was sleep; beautiful, restful sleep.
"You deserve to sleep, old man. Your work is finished." Bartholomew removed one of his black gloves and placed his hand on the craftsman's chest.
The old man felt his heart thump once, then stop.
His soul drifted off to sleep.CHAPTER 2
Waxing Half Moon
February — Present Day
Normally, Willa woke from dreams in the middle of the night, but tonight it was Simon.
His eyes flashed open, a gargled cry caught in his throat. Instinctively, he reached out for Willa, but the bed was empty. He wished she were there. She was the only thing that helped calm the storm inside him; but, of course, she was across town at her parents' house.
With a long sigh, he rolled onto his back. His heart beat furiously, blood pulsing at his temples. Only a dream. He stared at the shadows on the ceiling, forcing his mind and body to believe it. Only a dream. He turned his head and looked at his phone on the nightstand. He could call her; hearing her voice would help. But what would he say? He'd established a strict rule of not talking about this with anyone — even her. He'd built a thick wall to hide his emotions.
Simon shifted his eyes to the window and the glow of the street lamps outside. Sparsely decorated, the bedroom in his small apartment had only a practical double bed, one nightstand, and a squat lamp. A large closet doubled as storage for both his clothes and hiking and camping gear. One picture hung on the wall: a framed 8 x 10 of him and Willa in the mountains, taken on one of their summer hikes. Simon loved the picture because Willa's eyes were the same color as the sky above them.
She should be here.
Every night, it got harder to send her home to her parents. It felt wrong to watch her walk into another house and sleep in a bed without him. But Willa's parents had reverted to over-protective mode ever since the binding of the Covenant. They hovered over her like she might shatter into a million pieces, or as though she might be brainwashed by the "witches in that cult," as her dad was fond of saying. Willa let it slide and dismissed it as a knee-jerk reaction to nearly losing her in the fight with Archard. But, now, four months later, they hadn't eased up; and it weighed on them all.
However hard it was to let her go each night, however much he longed to be with her all the time, Simon would be patient while Willa and her family worked things out. He wished his own parents cared enough to overprotect him.
Cynthia and Gabe Howard's faces moved through his mind: Cynthia, with her sharply angled face made sharper by her blunt haircut and fake blond hair, and Gabe, with his pinched, judgmental eyes and villainously muscular body. There were few people more poorly suited to be parents, especially of a boy who heals injuries and illnesses alike with a mere touch.
Simon wondered briefly if he should visit and tell them about his magic and what had happened in the fall. He almost laughed out loud, knowing that it wouldn't make one bit of difference. By the way, Mom and Dad, I'm a witch. It would only alienate them more — if that were possible. Simon closed his eyes and tried to banish his parents from his mind.
Rolling his head to the side, Simon looked at the empty space beside him, picturing Willa asleep there. His heart thudded once. You're my family now, Willa. The thought made him smile in the dark. The hole inside him was finally filling in, the hole his parents had dug with every dismissal, every disapproving look, and every hateful thought that Simon had sensed. Willa helped him believe there was life beyond that of a pariah.
As his mind wandered, the scene from his dream broke through his thoughts, erasing his smile.
With a sigh Simon eased out of the bed and pulled on jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. He shoved on his black biker boots and left. Out in the cold winter night, he forced himself to go back through the dream and to examine every part of it. If he was going to rid himself of the nightmare that had troubled him for the last four months, he had to face it, understand it, and move past it.
But how? This isn't just a dream; this is ... something I did.
Simon shuffled down the sidewalk. The biting cold felt good on his face, cleared his mind and pushed away the fear.
Three people. I killed three people.
The words rang with a hollow twang across his brain, discordant and foreign. They didn't fit into the puzzle of things that made him him. He still wasn't sure how he'd done it. The moments at the cave were a blur in his head, coming back clearly only in his dreams. As soon as he woke, the details clouded over again as quickly as a coastline in the rainy season.
Several times, after awaking from the dreams, he had walked like this and then stopped to try and summon that power again, to make his body alive with the energy of so much magic; but it never happened. Not even close. It made the whole thing seem even more unreal.
I killed three people.
The justifications always followed: the 'but they were evil Dark witches,' and the 'I was protecting Wynter, Willa, and my coven-mates,' and the 'I had to.' But they too were hollow, like twisted echoes of truth.
His stomach knotted uncomfortably as he remembered the Dark witches sailing through the air. He'd never seen them hit the ground — his attention had turned fully to Willa, her startling blue eyes bright in the rainy clearing, like little lighthouses, pulling him away from the rocks. Only later did he realize what he'd done
Willa wanted to talk about it. He felt it from her more often than she intended, but he couldn't bring himself to put his thoughts into words. Spoken words were real, were truth. Thoughts lived somewhere on the edge of truth, and that's where he needed to keep this.
Rowan, leader of the Covenant, had also come to him, wanting to talk, to help. When Simon had answered Rowan's questions with silence and pleading eyes, Rowan had simply laid a hand on his shoulder and said, "When you're ready."
Simon didn't know if he would ever be ready. If he just worked it out in his mind, made sense of it, he'd be fine. It would take time, but eventually ... maybe ...
But these dreams ...
They kept everything fresh, and they twisted his confusion into tighter knots. These dreams might drive him crazy. How does Willa deal with this all the time?
Simon walked through the playground behind his apartment complex, through cold gray shadows. He stopped to sit on a bench, suddenly exhausted. A heavy and smothering sense of desperation settled over him, and the knot in his stomach tightened. He would not attempt to summon the power tonight. Just the thought made his arms hang heavy.
The worst part of what he had done was the loss of control. Simon hated not being in control, especially of himself. Despite the inherent craziness of his life and what he could do, he liked order and control. He worked hard to keep things well in hand. But this ... this was slippery.
What if it happened again? What if, somehow, that explosion of blue power came back? What if someone else got hurt because of it?
What if it's Willa?
A shiver moved through him. He dropped his head into his hands, with his elbows on his knees.
Not that they were likely to battle any Dark witches soon. Archard died at the cave — burned by his own raging fire — and his covens were broken. Simon and Willa only had to worry about school and training for the Elemental Challenge coming up in the summer, a rite of passage, and something all witches in a True Coven must do to prove their abilities. If he and Willa passed, they'd earn the title of True Witch like their coven-mates.
Simon looked forward to the challenge, but even his powers during training were beginning to make him nervous. Everything came so easily, and no skill seemed hard to master. Something should be hard or take some concentrated practice, but the only thing hard was trying to hold back, hiding his true capabilities just to avoid the worried glances in his direction.
I can't even be normal when it comes to magic. Wynter, Rowan's wife, had told him that he seemed to have two Gifts: his Mind gift and his healing ability, which normally came with the Gift of Water. Having multiple gifts wasn't supposed to be possible, and no one could explain it — not even Rowan and Wynter. Inside him, the convoluted mix of power he didn't understand and couldn't predict worsened by what he'd done that night at the cave, coalesced into fear — fear of himself, lurking in the back of his mind, out of reach but lingering, like a bad taste.
He ran a hand back over his hair, the blond curls bouncing back into place. Maybe my parents were right. Maybe I am nothing but a freak.
Cold and tired, he walked slowly back around the complex, his eyes on the ground, hands shoved deep in his pockets. He didn't look up until he started up the front walk to his unit. Sitting on the front steps, he found Willa, a blanket wrapped around her and fuzzy leopard-print slippers on her feet. Her wavy chestnut hair was an attractive mess around her rosy-cheeked face. She smiled as he approached. Suddenly Simon didn't feel cold anymore.
She yawned sleepily. "I had a dream that you were walking."
He half smiled and sat beside her. "I had a dream, too."
"Wanna talk about it?"
Simon put an arm around her and pulled her close, a layer of comfort. She dropped her head to his shoulder. "Not really, but I'm okay now," he whispered, lying to them both. A wave of disappointment moved from her to him.
"Want me to stay? I can sneak back in my house early, before my parents wake up."
He kissed her hair. "Yes, please."
Excerpted from Black Moon by Teri Harman. Copyright © 2014 Teri Harman. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved the first one.............could not get into the second. Found it rather dull.
Teri Harman’s Black Moon, book two of the Moonlight Trilogy, continues the story of Willa and Simon, young adults taking those first steps into a grown-up world of magic, witches, soul mates, trials, and too many talents. It’s a fast-paced and engrossing read that expresses all the confusion of perfect love that isn’t perfect, leaving home to share one’s life with another, completing magic trials to prove one’s worth, and, oh, saving the world. I won’t mention the guilt Simon oozes because of the deaths in Blood Moon (book one) or Willa’s anguish in wanting to save someone who won’t let her in. I won’t say a thing about the balance of light covens and dark covens and how truly twisted the dark can be when it seeks to control the powers of the earth on the night of the black moon. And I can’t tell you about the whole terrifying plot around being extraordinarily gifted magically and the suspicion and doubt having too much talent can cause. I can’t tell you any of these things because that would Ruin the Story. And this is one you’ll want to read for yourself. Black Moon by Teri Harman is a New Adult paranormal thriller with a romance twist sure to delight readers 16 and older.