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#99cents Box Set from Amanda J. Greene featuring Rulers of Darkness! w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @AmandaJGreene1

Paranormal Romance

Date Published: 12/29/2015

 

Read 3 sizzling, dark, paranormal romance novels and fall in love with the Rulers of Darkness. 


Passion can be lethal…



Caressed by Moonlight
Dorian Vlakhos is no ordinary aristocrat. He is a vampire king, who will do anything to save his clan from complete annihilation, before an ancient curse can claim his immortal life.
Penniless and orphaned, Victoria Kingston has nothing to bring to a marriage, yet she must shackle an unsuspecting gentleman into marriage by the end of the month or forfeit her rights as guardian of her younger sister. With the help of her dearest friend, Victoria begins her hunt, and vows to stay far away from the dark, mysterious, Dorian Vlakhos.
After meeting the beautifully innocent Miss Kingston, Dorian had to have her. He would do absolutely anything to make Victoria his. One sweet stolen kiss would bring them together while a force, more powerful than any vampire, would bind them for all eternity, but treachery, war, and death rule Dorian’s dark world and Victoria would be fortunate to survive.

Excerpt 1: Caressed by Moonlight (Rulers of Darkness #1)

The cabin was in complete disarray. The fine hand carved desk was toppled on its side, the armchair before the window was upside down, paper acted as rugs on the floor, and deep claw marks marred the walls. Victoria traced the gouges with the tip of her finger.

“What are you doing here?”

Victoria reeled around to find her husband huddled in a corner, his knees to his chest with arms wrapped tightly about them. His eyes glowered up at her as his hair fell disheveled across his face.

She slowly crossed the floor to stand just out of his reach knowing that if he wanted to grab her he easily could. She had witnessed his speed before.

“I didn’t summon you,” he said, his voice gruff.

“You tried.”

“Falcon saved you,” he snapped, his lips curling back over his teeth. “Why are you here?”

“I want to help you.”

“You want to help me?” He snorted. “Leave Victoria, I don’t want your help.”

“But you need it,” she countered.

He laughed, the sound was chilling, but she ignored it and began to unlace the ties of her robe.

“What are you doing?” he rasped, his eyes fixed on her hands at her breasts as she loosened her laces.

“Removing my robe.”

“Don’t,” he begged on a whisper as the silk fell to a pile on the floor.

“It is stifling in here.”

Her lavender scent was overwhelming and the sound of her steady heartbeat was maddening. She had to go.

“Get out!”

“No,” she protested.

“You don’t know what you are…” his words stopped as her thoughts drifted through his mind. “Or perhaps you know exactly with what you are dealing. But,” in a flash he stood behind her, “can you handle it?”

“Yes.” She would not let him scare her off.

“No,” he whispered, his breath tickling her ear. “You can’t possibly know. My dear friend, Falcon, even leaves the room every time I change.”

“I want to help you, Dorian. Let me,” she pleaded, “I need to help you.” She wanted to scream the words. She had felt so useless the past two weeks. He was her husband and he needed her even though he would not admit it. Knowing he was in pain and being unable to aid him had been insufferable.

“I will kill you. Leave!”

She did not move. He roared, snatching her by the shoulders, he spun her around and slammed her back against the wall, trapping her with his body. He held her arms over her head, his fingers like shackles about her wrists. His eyes burned black, his fangs stood long and prominent. His voice was low and hard. “Is this what you want to help?”

She could not speak. Her voice was gone, vanished. He shook her.

“Answer me!” His black eyes captured and held hers as his grip tightened.

“Yes,” she squeaked.

He snarled and spun away from her. She brought her hands down and began rubbing the pain away. Dorian sighed and ran his hands through his hair as desperate exasperation washed over him.

“What can I do to make you understand?” The question was directed to himself. In that brief moment, he was again the man she had married and not the vampire she’d just faced seconds before. But his eyes were still clouded black and those fangs still flashed. He looked so vulnerable and she wanted nothing more than to wrap her arms around him.

He must have heard her thoughts for he turned his deadly gaze back to her and snapped, “I don’t want your pity. If that is why you are here, I suggest you leave before I throw you out.”

His threat was empty she knew, his voice did not hold any menace and neither did his eyes. She shook her head stepping away from the wall.

“Then why do you insist on helping me?”

“Because I care for you,” she confessed. “And because it pains me to see you like this, suffering when there is no need.”

“No need?” he laughed. “I could kill you if I took your blood.”  

Victoria shrugged. “You could, but I know you wouldn’t.”

He took a threatening step toward her. “How can you be so sure?” he challenged.

“The man I married would never allow it.”

“If you hadn’t noticed,” he advanced again, “he is not here.”

“Maybe not,” she conceded, closing the remainder of the space between them. She brushed her fingers along his knuckles. “I want you, Dorian.”

His eyes sparkled with devilish delight.

“Those are bold words, kitten,” Dorian warned.


Caressed by Night
Dimitri Arsov, the last remaining pure vampire, was thought to be dead for the past four hundred years. Now, he is back and has a score to settle with the traitor that had tried to kill him centuries ago. But as he waits for his prey to blindly step into his carefully laid trap, his overwhelming hunger for blood is triggered when he saves a beautiful art historian.
Kerstyn Ingmar’s life was normal and straight up boring until the night she is rescued by the dangerously sexy, powerfully mesmerizing, Dimitri. Unable to resist his diamond blue eyes and intense kisses, she is drawn into his world of darkness and closer to her impending doom.
While their desire consumes them, Dimitri is haunted by images of a bloody and deadly future. As his enemies draw near, he must find a way to save his mate from her destiny before fate destroys them both.

 

Excerpt 2: Caressed by Night (Rulers of Darkness #2)

 

Kerstyn fought her way through the mass of people. Denise had texted her, demanding she come home, something had happened. All kinds of horrible images played in her head as she struggled to gain her freedom. The apartment could have caught fire, someone could have broken in, or worse. She had to stay calm. It couldn’t be as terrible as she was imagining. Or it could be good news. Maybe Denise had finally broken up with Bobby. Denise had refused to go to the club, claiming she and Bobby had something important to discuss.

She smiled as she recalled what happened earlier that day. The pig had thought he was being sneaky while spying on her in the shower, but she spotted him in the mirror. She threw the shampoo bottle as hard as she could and laughed until her sides hurt when it nailed him in the head.

He deserved worse, she thought with an evil grin.

She finally broke free of the crowd and ran up the steps to the exit. Slipping between the two monstrous bouncers guarding the entrance to Dark, she rushed down the street. She had to find a cab. She hated being without her car, but she and her friends had all planned on drinking tonight.

Kerstyn began to walk down the street hoping a taxi would drive by or maybe she could get one at a hotel. The sound of footsteps thudding behind her sliced through her thoughts. Glancing over her shoulder, she groaned. The three men who had been trying to pick her and her friends up in the club were following her. Apparently, they didn’t know what “not interested” meant. She hated persistent out-of-towners who strongly believed in the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” motto.

She crossed the street and quickened her pace when they followed. Her heart began to pound as her eyes darted across the parking lot searching for a cab. It was unlike cabbies to not be circling the area on a Friday night. She looked back again; the men were getting closer.

Kerstyn headed toward the mob of people standing outside the line of bars. She got tangled in one group of drunks. Once free, she glanced back. The men were closer. Not knowing what else to do, she rounded the corner. Kerstyn’s breath came hard and fast as she ran down the alley. She wished she had not worn her tallest heels. Her feet screamed with every step and sent painful shocks up her calves.

“Quit being a tease, honey,” one called out.

The men’s laughter echoed in her ears, they were getting closer. She tried to run faster, but her shoes would not allow it. One stiletto snapped and she went crashing to the ground. Panic choked her as she scrambled to her feet. Her heart thundered in her ears as she began to run again. There was one right behind her; she could hear his breathing and feel his menacing presence.

She took a deep breath, preparing to scream just as a meaty, cold hand clamped over her mouth.

“You smell so sweet, little redhead,” he hissed in her ear, “a delectable strawberry treat.”

Kerstyn blindly fought, striking out behind her. She kicked back and slammed the heel of her foot into her attacker’s groin. He released her and crumpled to the ground. Without looking back, she sprinted as fast as she could down the ally. The other men ran after her, shouting threats and taunts. Grasping, greedy fingers brushed the back of her jacket. She swung around. Hands fisted, ready to defend herself, and froze.

They were gone. All of her would-be rapists had vanished.

“Are you all right?” a man asked from behind her.

She relaxed when she realized the voice sounded nothing like her attackers; it was warm, deep, and comforting.

“Miss?”

“Y-Yes.”

Slowly turning toward the voice, relief flooded her body, her breathing began to slow, and her limbs went limp. She stumbled and prepared to meet the pavement again, but her rescuer caught her. He tenderly held her to him, supporting her. Kerstyn knew she ought to protest and shove him away, he was a stranger after all, but his touch was soothing and reassuring. She had never felt so safe and calm in her life.

Calm was the furthest thing from her savior’s mind.

Dimitri had heard the vampires’ thoughts as they followed the woman from Dark. He knew he had to protect her from the depraved creatures who intended to make a meal out of her. When he materialized in the alley, the weaker vampires caught his scent and fled, leaving him alone with the woman. Instead of feeling anger as he expected, an entirely different emotion settled over him.

Lust. It was no ordinary lust, but a heart racing, blood raging, sexual yearning, and it turned his body into a blazing inferno of need. Then hunger like he had never known slammed into him. It gnawed at him relentlessly as it mixed with his unmerciful lust. The torturous combination attacked both his body and his mind. He had never wanted any woman with this kind of intensity.

His body had been dead for so long, no longer responding to sexual stimulus or blood-thirst. Thousands of years had passed since the last time he had fed. The desire and necessity for blood had abandoned him. None of that seemed to matter now. His fangs sprang free as his pants grew tighter about his throbbing shaft. This woman’s blood sang to him, beckoned him to have a taste.

Dimitri ruthlessly fought the temptation to seize her mind and take what he wanted. The dread of not being able to pull away terrified him. Realizing what precious little control he had, he shut down his senses, driving away her intoxicating scent and the warmth of her soft body against his. He forced the color from his sight, only seeing in black and white with shades of gray. Though he knew he would never forget the light fragrance of her strawberry blonde hair, the feel of her in his arms, and the sapphire color of her eyes.

He took in deep breaths and focused on the cool bite of the air. It washed over his body, rinsing away his desire leaving him as always, cold and unfeeling, like death. He was death: a true, pureblood vampire.

“I was being followed,” she panted.

He peered over her head, his eyes scanning the alley. “I see no one.” The vampires were long gone.

Nausea twisted her insides as she thought of what almost happened. Thank God, this man was here. If it weren’t for him

“Do not think about it,” he said, his arms tightening about her. “You are safe now.”

She nodded, rubbing her cheek against his chest. He smelled absolutely wonderful, like dark spices. His voice felt like velvet brushing along her skin. She shivered and sighed in contentment.

“Do you need help with anything?”

His last question snapped her back into action. She stepped back, breaking the circle of his arms.

“I need a taxi.”

“A simple enough task,” he said with a shrug.

She scoffed. If it were simple, she would have been half way home by now. She turned her head up intending to face him and a broad chest greeted her eyes. She was forced to take another step back in order to get a proper look at him.

He was huge. Thick. Stacked.

He must be close to seven feet, she thought as her eyes traveled up his torso, over his wide chest, to his face.

Her heart stopped when their eyes met. They were a near colorless shade of blue. Like diamonds. His gaze was sharp, hard, filled with wisdom and strength. Intense. Warrior eyes. Yet, he could not be much older than her, around twenty-six. His golden hair glittered from the light of the neon signs and floated about his shoulders. His face was chiseled and impossibly perfect. His lips were full and Kerstyn wanted nothing more than to feel them against hers. Her eyes traveled back down his hard, honed body.

She stood, rooted to the cement, captivated by the Norse god before her.

Damn, he’s incredibly yummy.

Dimitri forced himself to remain still while she studied him. Again, he struggled against his urges, his heart thundering from the force of the shock of desire that still echoed in his mind.

He knew one day he would meet his mate, but he had underestimated the force of her seductiveness. He never expected she would spark such yearning deep within his soul. He wondered how Dorian had dealt with such overwhelming need when he had found his intended. Dorian had been the first and, until now, only vampire king to find his other half.

Dimitri’s breath caught as her small, pink tongue wet her lips and her sensual thoughts invaded his mind.

She had to go.

He forced the sexual haze from his thoughts, locking it away.

He waved his hand in the air and a cab promptly came to a stop at the curb outside the ally. He opened the door and Kerstyn slipped inside, her eyes never leaving his face.

“Goodnight, miss,” he said.

 

Caressed by a Crimson Moon
Consumed by madness and tormented by dark memories of blood and death, Hadrian Lucretius, King of the Validus Clan, has returned after living in self-imposed exile for nearly three hundred and fifty years.
To maintain peace with the vampires, Eva Maldonado is offered as a sacrifice to the crazed vampire king by her father, the alpha of the Silveria Shifter Pack. Hadrian’s reputation is both legendary and lethal; he is ruthless, bloodthirsty, lusty, and soulless. When Eva arrives at the ancient fortress high in the Carpathian Mountains, she is shocked to find a ravaged man with dark burning eyes filled with loneliness and dangerous desire.
Would she be his lover…or his prey? His savior…or his victim? Would Hadrian lure her into madness or would their perilous passion be their redemption?

Excerpt 3: Caressed by a Crimson Moon (Rulers of Darkness #3)

 

The hall was lined with wood paneling decorated by sharply detailed paintings. Each featured a portrait of a man and was accompanied by a gold placard with his name. These were the kings of the Validus Clan.

The name of the last painting read Hadrian Lucretius, but the image had been savagely shredded. Stepping closer, Eva reached up, trying to place the pieces back together, wanting to get a look at the vampire.

A cool hand clamped over her mouth, stifling her scream as she was hauled back. Eva fought for freedom, twisting around, she jabbed her elbow in her attacker’s side then kicked back, connecting with his shin. He growled in response and spun her about, trapping her with his body. His hands slammed into the wall, cracking the wood, on either side of her head.

“Little girls should not wander alone in the dark.”

She closed her eyes and swallowed hard. His voice, it was dark, threatening—pure sex. He leaned his head down, his lips brushed her ear and, God help her, she shivered. Whether it was from fear or something entirely sexual, she did not know. Confusion, terror, and desire fought for control of her brain, as she remained pinned between the large, solid male and the wall.

“Bad things prowl in the dark,” he whispered against her ear and Eva’s knees went weak. His words were heavily accented, his voice deep. It echoed with evil and was laced with lust. “Bad things, like me.”

Eva tried to speak, knowing she should demand he release her, or scream, but nothing came.

One of his hands dropped from the wall to encircle her wrist, the pad of his thumb gently brushed over her erratically beating pulse.

“Your scent,” he said, his voice rough, the sound sending waves of need crashing over her.

His fingers lightly traced up her arm to cup her nape, tickling her sensitive flesh.

Eva’s breathing grew shallow as her body began to burn.

Desire?

Yes. Oh, god, yes.

The menacing male drew closer, his second hand dropping to her shoulder, pressing her firmly against the wall. Danger, it radiated from him, yet desire flickered in his cold, black eyes. Instinct took hold of her. Eva wrapped her arms around his waist. Her hands pressed flat against his lower back, urging him closer. She arched her back trying in vain to close the space between them.

“Sweet…warm vanilla.” His cool breath caressed the tender flesh of her throat, sending chills all the way down to her toes.

Was he going to bite her?

God, what was she doing? She had no idea who this man was let alone what he was doing to her. She should shove him away. She should bring her knee up and hit him where it counts. But she could not move. Her heart beat frantically, her blood rushed like lava through her veins as her body responded to this aggressive male.

“My king!”

Eva’s sigh was a mix of relief and disappointment when she heard Falcon’s voice.

“Release her.”

The vampire’s mystifying obsidian gaze held her captive as he asked, “Do you want to be rescued?”

No, but her self-preservation cried yes.

The vampire gently brushed her bottom lip with his thumb and Eva shuttered.

“My king,” Falcon bellowed.

The stranger lifted his head and glared at Falcon for a long breathless moment. She could sense the tension that coiled in his body. Pure lethal power flowed from him like tidal waves.

Finally, he turned his attention back to her. Framing her jaw with his large hands, he bent his head down. Was he going to kiss her? Another rush of heat coursed through her and pooled at her core. She wished she could see his face. The shadows hid his features. All she could see were his dark as midnight eyes, which burned in the darkness, full of violence and lust.

He leaned into her, his solid chest brushing her breasts, causing them to ache as he sank his lower body against her. Surrounded. Hot, aggressive male surrounded her and—wild, she was wild with need.

His cool lips brushed against hers as he whispered, “Until we meet again, little one.” He disappeared.

AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS:

Amanda J. Greene creates paranormal romance for ravenous readers. She lives in Southern California, where she enjoys escaping the rewarding but hectic world of writing by spending time in the sun and sand with her military husband and their two dogs.

 

 

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Book Trailer, Excerpt, Giveaways, Playlists, Release Week

Book Trailer, Playlist, Quiz and Excerpt featuring In Between: the Novel by Shannon Foy w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @MTWPromotions @inbetween_novel

Title: In Between: the Novel
Author: Shannon Foy
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Published: August 4, 2016
Loan officer Roosevelt St. Vincent travels the globe as she unravels the secreted histories of the vampire community invisibly surrounding her. Follow her on the journey that confirms the existence of the paranormal which gives her the strength to accept someone else’s past, even as it alters her future.

Peppered with sex and sarcasm, Foy’s light hearted voice finds depth and detail that will cause the reader to both laugh and cry, probably at the same time.

“How vampires should be written.”
“She doesn’t take the easy route.”
“Maturely polished….hooked after the first page.”

Enjoy the Blooper Reel:


In Between: the Novel Excerpt © Shannon Foy 2016
I was nestled on a vintage couch, tucked in a windowed corner of Average Joe’s Coffee Shop, avoiding the claustrophobic trek home out of Boston’s Financial District. I wouldn’t have noticed him had his entrance not changed the air pressure equilibrium, sending dust from the busy street into a spin around polished leather shoes. He took a quiet gaze around the room, catching my eye, prompting a weak but polite smile.
I returned to my book and took a sip from my upside-down caramel macchiato. The macchiato wasn’t upside down; it’s a preparation technique. It didn’t matter though because my curiosity was not to be distracted by coffee. I dared to sneak a peek over the horizon of my book at the tall man in a long coat placing his order and looking my way once again.
Did I have something on my face?
Coffee on my shirt?
Was there someone behind me?
No, Roosevelt, just you being insane.
Focus, I thought, returning to the same paragraph. Apparently the control tower lost contact with the plane.
That was not a metaphor.
Though I tried to willfully ignore the man, he made it much more difficult to do so by pointedly sitting in the maroon armchair across from me.
Focus on the book.
The control tower lost communication with the plane.
But there was a feeling that started at my toes and worked its way up. A buzzing pulsing through the air between us. Electrical energy connecting me to him and him to me. I found it hard to breathe. And difficult to look away.
Say something, I encouraged myself.
Good looking guy, coffee shop—this is how romantic movies start.
It is also how stalker movies start.
It didn’t matter what scenario I was about to engage in because his phone rang, screeching common sense into me, retreating back to my book.
The control tower had lost communication with the plane.
Almost as quickly as he came in, he stormed out, nearly tearing the bell off the door as he left.
Stranger things had happened to me before.
But that was not the only time the gentleman from the maroon armchair and I would cross paths. Of course not.
After work the next day, I crossed the street once again to Average Joe’s.
“Hey, Roosevelt. What can I get for you?” asked Adrienne, the Snow White waif of a barista who always seemed to be working.
“Upside-down caramel macchiato, please.”
“Anything else?”
“Not yet.”
I weaved my way through scattered seating, passing a couple playing Yahtzee. Occupying the same couch in the corner, I pulled the same book from my purse and began again at the paragraph I couldn’t get past the day before. Turns out, everyone on the plane was dead.
I will admit that I never anticipated seeing the gentleman from the maroon armchair again, but I won’t deny that I secretly wanted to be wrong. So much so that I let myself be distracted by the bell of every customer’s entrance and the shadow of every tall man walking outside.
As my coffee was delivered and as the circumstances in my book elevated my heart rate, the moment I had been waiting for arrived.
Such as before, he entered. Long coat. Polished shoes. He crossed to the counter, but this time I did not hide my intrigue. Nor did he. And just as before, he took the seat across from me.
Another polite smile—this one a bit friendlier, with a twinkle in my eye and a bite of my lip. He winked the slightest wink.
The same magnetic tension that reverberated between us the night before continued its drumming.
Adrienne, seeing our slight exchange, delivered the gentleman’s beverage, then continued to my side of the table.
“Do you need anything, Roosevelt?” she asked, eyeing me for some sort of telepathic transfer of information.
“I’m good, thanks,” I responded, wanting nothing more than my unwelcomed wingman to fly away.
And, just as before, the gentleman from the maroon armchair received a phone call.
“Hello?” he began, frustrated. Frustration turned to anger, and anger made him terrifying. His jaw tightened and his eyes fired. I swear his breathing stopped as that buzzing around us began to shudder.
“Who is that?” Adrienne whispered as he left.
“I don’t know,” I answered, watching him climb into the passenger seat of a dark car.
“Wasn’t he meeting you here?”
“No.”
“Huh. He acts like he knows you. Are you sure you didn’t make out with him at a party or something?”
“Pretty sure.”
No, I was very sure. First, I knew the names and life stories of every man I’d ever slept with; and second, I didn’t just make out at parties.
“Well, let me know if he bothers you.”
“Yeah,” I said in a daze.
I heard a buzzing from my purse and grabbed my cell phone. I had a message from a friend of mine, Patrick.
“You know you want to meet me at that Scottish place in 15 minutes,” the message read.
“No, I don’t,” I responded. “I just had the weirdest encounter, and I want to go to the store then go home.”
“You want to tell me all about it at this restaurant while watching two hot guys play music.”
A loud band in a crowded place was the last thing I wanted. But I needed to get out of my own head.
“Fine. But you owe me a drink,” is how I replied.
“Deal.”

A story teller and creator at heart, traversing both performing and visual arts, it is only natural for Shannon to explore a focus on literary pursuits. In Between: the novel, her debut work, is the beginning of this new adventure. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her fiancé and her dog, who inspire her imagination more than they’ll ever know.
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Book Trailer, Excerpt, Giveaways, New Release

Happy Release Day to In Between: the Novel by Shannon Foy w/a book trailers, a quiz & a giveaway! #romance #paranormal @inbetween_novel

Title: In Between: the Novel
Author: Shannon Foy
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Published: August 4, 2016
Loan officer Roosevelt St. Vincent travels the globe as she unravels the secreted histories of the vampire community invisibly surrounding her. Follow her on the journey that confirms the existence of the paranormal which gives her the strength to accept someone else’s past, even as it alters her future.

Peppered with sex and sarcasm, Foy’s light hearted voice finds depth and detail that will cause the reader to both laugh and cry, probably at the same time.

“How vampires should be written.”
“She doesn’t take the easy route.”
“Maturely polished….hooked after the first page.”

Part One:
Part Two:
Part Three:

In Between: the Novel Excerpt © Shannon Foy 2016
“Um,” I started nervously, “is Mount Fuji active?”
“Yes,” Don answered, “but don’t worry; it hasn’t erupted in like three hundred years.”
That didn’t make me feel any safer.
Don grabbed a pack out of the back seat of the car and headed into the trees. I took a deep breath and followed him.
You can romanticize suicide anyway you like, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience.
I had not been afraid of death; I had killed people. But finding bodies littered about the trees affected me on a terribly deep level. I’d step over a fallen trunk only to trip upon a tangle of brush and body. I’d sweep a branch aside, chance a look up, and see another hanging above me. Eyes open. Eyes closed. Various states of decomposition. A man in a suit with his shoes set neatly next to him.
And the smell. I’ll never be able to properly describe the smell and I hope to never encounter it again. Blood. Gun powder. Moss. Decay. Earth. Hair. Sadness. Laundry detergent.
We hiked deeper and deeper into that suspended forest. The sounds of our footsteps, our voices, our invasion of the uninhabited landscape were swallowed by the soft earth. No echo. No breath of life beyond the flora. And us.
And then a gunshot—shattering the silence into a million pieces, the fragile glass of life gone in an instant.
I wanted nothing more than to be out of that forest immediately.
“Are you okay?” Don asked, tentatively.
I gulped and shook a quick nod, fear keeping my voice hostage. I didn’t mean to cry, but I did.
Don took my trembling hand and we continued on the path, which wasn’t much of a path at all, but rather the course of least resistance. And believe me, the forest resisted.
If Don hadn’t been leading the expedition or if I hadn’t been rapt with fear, alert to every micro detail, the sunken chamber in the ground would have swallowed me up forever. Barely a few yards across with roots emerging from where the soil had fallen away was a hole—the rabbit hole to Wonderland.
“This is it,” Don whispered.
“How do you know?” I had seen pictures of other ice caves around Mount Fuji. They all had signs, railings, stairways, or ladders. They were well-manicured and definitely not reminiscent of a place to dispose of a petite, American body.
“This is where Tatsuya found me.”
Don removed his backpack and started setting items out along the ground—a rope, a flashlight, and a knife that shone a brilliant silver. He quietly and quickly tied the rope around a nearby tree whose trunk was covered in thick moss.
“Take these,” he said, handing me the knife and the flashlight and the center of the rope. “You must go alone.”
“What? I thought that’s why I’m paying you?”
“You’re paying me to help you find Miyuki, but if you want her help, it is a journey you must make alone.”
I grumbled to myself as I wrapped the rope around my waist, knotting it so that I could slowly rappel into the earthen pit.
“I’ll wait here for you.”
“What do I do down there?”
“Just look,” he said simply.
I, the novice, and Don my mystical, Japanese Master—him speaking to me in riddles like Yoda or Mr. Miyagi. I squatted down and shimmied myself into the opening.
Slowly I went. I had rappelled a few times from a rock wall at the gym—my fear of heights calmed by the harnesses and belts and foam mats beneath me. Right at that moment, I was inching down toward anything—and it scared the shit out of me.
The deeper I got, the more heightened my senses became as blackness enveloped the passage through which I was lowered. The cold nipped at my nose and other uncovered bits of skin. I could hear the strain on the rope and the subtle echo off of the earthen walls. The overwhelming scent of damp soil was unbelievably refreshing compared to the stagnant air in the forest above.
I didn’t think it would ever end. I knew logically that I hadn’t gone that far below ground, but my mind played tricks on my stomach, and I thought I felt gravity switching. I came to my senses as my feet abruptly hit the ground, buckling my knees, landing my backside in the dirt. I untied myself, zipped up my hoodie, and removed the flashlight from my pocket. The floor was slick and my first steps were hesitant. Slipping on ice was not my favorite activity.
As I turned the flashlight on, its wide beam illuminated the narrow cave. There was nothing. No markings on the wall, no scratches on the floor, or giant sign that read, “Miyuki—Straight Ahead.” I had hoped for signs.
I followed the frozen floor along a straight path. There were no off-shoots or dead end corridors, just solid icy walls. It took me five and a half minutes to get from one end to the other.
Five and a half minutes of anticipation and fear and baited breath . . . and no Miyuki.
It wasn’t the right cave.
I turned and made my disappointed way out. I got back to my rope, tied it around my waist, and sent a ripple up the nylon cords. Shortly after, I felt a tug and was lifted back to the surface.
“Nothing?” Don asked.
“Nothing.”
“Then we keep going.”
A story teller and creator at heart, traversing both performing and visual arts, it is only natural for Shannon to explore a focus on literary pursuits. In Between: the novel, her debut work, is the beginning of this new adventure. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her fiancé and her dog, who inspire her imagination more than they’ll ever know.
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