Title: What Lies Within Us
Author: Kiki Howell
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Nov 1 2014
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
After receiving a letter from an aunt she never knew existed, Kyna Hughes travels to Ireland only to find out that her whole life has been a series of well-orchestrated lies. Suddenly, this poor girl from the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains is thrust into a life of not only the wealthy and affluent, but of dark magic and secret societies. As Kyna learns of the magic hidden inside her, purposefully stunted as she grew up for her protection, she must now battle mystical hauntings which are the result of curses while getting a crash course in utilizing her powers. Kidnappings and satanic weddings become her daily events as she struggles not to lose her heart to one of two men—a former Navy SEAL hired to protect her or a wizard hired to train her. Soon she will realize just how true it is that “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Amazon Top 100 Best Seller in Gothic Fiction & Occult Horror
Ominous fanfare for her arrival in County Monaghan, lightening shred the fall of dusk. As a grisly storm surrounded the car she rode in, her every nerve vibrated with electricity. The well-read letter in her hand trembled in the heat of her clenched fist. Her last minute research of this part of Northern Ireland had not done the place justice. Beauty that of a rolling and majestic nature even in the dark downpour, stole her already shallow breath.
The thousand slices of light tearing through the sky reflected in the grey water beside the road. The black shadows cast by the trees, Kyna perceived as decrepit, arthritic fingers that reached out for her from the heavy flowing stream. A resounding flood of sound, deep rolling thunder, made her body curl in on itself as she angled away from the car window. The squall so violent, she imagined the glass would shatter. Never one to cower, she swore in a whisper to herself. Ever since she’d landed in Ireland, a someone or a something, specifically an indescribable dark presence, followed her. Sure, it made no sense, but she couldn’t tell her over stimulated brain and racing heart that.
Trying to swallow despite the dryness in her mouth, looking straight ahead, she sought a moment’s peace. Deep breathing exercises had yet to award her any. This unexpected turn in her life over the past few days propelled her toward her wits end. From the moment she’d taken the letter from her mailbox, every part of her being had been altered in some way. From bursts of indefinable energy making her want to run a marathon, to unbidden ideas reminiscent of familiar dreams, to a feeling of having a sixth sense that warned of impending danger, she warred within herself to keep some semblance of composure. She didn’t understand her own body anymore, but had not the time or the mental capacity to analyze the abrupt changes as she traveled.
Erratic thought patterns plagued her instead, a barrage of unanswered questions. Prior to that fateful letter, she’d just been a girl from the foothills of the Alleghany Mountains, having lived her whole life in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. Her mother’s confession of her true heritage came when confronted with the letter, the damned letter, scrolled in a shaky hand, from an aunt from Ireland she never knew existed.
Apparently, Kyna was more Irish than she knew, as in born in Ireland and adopted through the Irish Mafia into the United States. The father she barely remembered, a man who’d died in a mining accident when she’d been barely five years old, had ties to the organization. She’d been a black market baby, for the love of all that is holy! The adoption had born conditions. Telling the poor child of her adoption stood a deal breaker punishable by death. None of these random facts brought about feelings of safety and security as she traveled abroad to meet her aunt on her biological mother’s side.
The letter, the freaking destroy-a-simple-life letter, ranted on for two pages a heartbreaking tale. Her birth mother, Alana O’Riagain, had passed away a few years ago. Her aunt, Saoirse O’Riagain, now desperately wanted to meet her only living relative. Kyna’s birth father and his family were all long go buried, so whatever perceived danger her mother had given her away to protect her from had passed away with them. Maybe her tired eyes played her for a fool, but even now, Kyna swore that words following danger on the paper in her hand appeared written in an even shakier scroll.
Rain assaulted the car window with the unrelenting onslaught of gunfire. Her pulse beat as if under attack. Another round of multiple lightning strikes, the ones that cross the distance of the sky to the ground, brought Kyna out of her murky thoughts of a re-written past to a clearly foreboding present. Just ahead, the first glimpses of her aunt’s home in Armaugh appeared and disappeared in brief glimpses granted by the windshield wipers and the lightening.
Her breath caught at the vast size of what resembled a castle on a hill. A steep incline of land seemed formed to hold up the formidable three storey stone façade. The structure consisted of several three-sided bays stuck together and one four-storey tower to the right side. On the tower hung corner bartizans. These came into view as they made the steep climb closer to her ancestral home. These rounded turrets cut with windows multiplied her sense of being watched, that some sinister being stood sentinel over her, taking in her every move.
Crazy. All of it. She’d lost it, and she had to get it back in the immediate future. Tough, a fighter in an impoverish world, surely she could handle whatever this display of wealth held for her. But, little made sense. Her past lay in a shamble of lies around her feet. Her future looked, well, scary. She had a lot to sort out, and planned to get right to it once she met her aunt.
Her mouth had remained parched and her shoulders tense since she’d landed in this country. Her body betrayed her in various other ways as well. Strange sensations of heat in her core coupled with flashes of what she could only refer to as static electricity along her limbs, made her feel a foreigner in her own skin.
As her driver grunted and got out, Kyna took advantage of another long streak of lightening to gaze upon this veritable castle of a house. The bays had mullioned windows, curvilinear gables and tall chimneys. While she guessed the stone a light grey in the day, it accosted her with looming shades of smoke, as if old and charred, from her storm-shielded, misty view.
The metallic shriek of her door opening sent a wave of panic crashing over her. From her teeth set on a painful edge to that cold slither of fear down her spine, she forced herself to ignore each physical sensation, each body betrayal. Looking toward her driver, a streak of lightening silhouetted him, made him a dark outline like that of a large monster-figure looming over her. He had several inches on her as well as a bulky, full-muscled build one could only achieve with hours in a gym or steroids she supposed. As he reached for her hand, the strength of his grip intensified to painful when an explosion of thunder rolled over them seconds later. She reminded herself, as way of comfort, what little she knew of the man. Aedan Dunne, employed by her aunt, served as head of security, a man the woman trusted with her life.
In a brief conversation at the airport, Kyna had learned through grumbles of words in response to her barrage of questions, that the man had been injured then forced into an early retirement from the Navy SEALs. Irish-born, he’d come home in hopes of finding similar work, something where a mere leg injury would not be the big deal the military had made it out to be. While he may not be able to hide underwater at night in frigid water for hours like he used to without pain and cramping of the damaged muscles, he could surely protect on land, a home and a woman. From what her aunt had written of Aedan, while he may be short on words, failure wasn’t in his vocabulary.
The cool sweat covering her skin intensified with the firm grip Aedan took of her waist once she stood. While looking at his face, what she could see of it for the shadows created by his hood, sharp cheekbones chiseled into a grimace. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the image of a man and a woman in black uniforms run to the trunk of the car and grab her belongings in a swift and sure manner. To her, the rain-soaked stones that made up the pathway to the inset of the main door resembled yet another insurmountable obstacle. Really, she’d reached that point in her day. Every little thing currently escalated to dramatic portions. Never the type to make a mountain out of a mole hill, she straightened her spine and raised up her head, determined not to start now.
Yes, life had dumped a whole crap load of change and new discoveries on her. By the looks of things, another dump truck sped her way, but her mother hadn’t raised a quitter. Besides, Aedan’s strong arms and solid frame offered a possible means to diversion if desired. From what her glimpses in the airport had gathered her, outside of being exactly what she’d imagine a SEAL to be, retired he could now pursue a career in modeling with such intense eyes and full lips. Simply put, he had rugged good looks that rivaled anything she’d seen in the movies. He stood beside her an image of masculinity beyond any she’d witnessed before, at least in her mind.
While she dared another look, Aedan focused on getting her inside. With her first glimpse despite the rain that fell in large drops from the hood framing his face, her stomach tightened even more. Locks of dark brown hair fell in long, messy sections on each side of his forehead. Full eyelashes framed moon-shaped eyes, wide with flecks of green and gold shimmering in the house lights. Intense and mesmerizing, she lost her train of thought, even as curiosity and anxiety mixed to further unsettle her.
Ever since she was young, Kiki Howell has loved to listen to a well-woven tale with real characters, inspired plots, and delightful resolutions. Kiki could spend hours lost in a book, and soon she knew that creating lives, loves, and losses with just words had to be the greatest thing that she could do. To that end, she pursued her study of literature and writing, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. She has now had over forty stories published, and could not be more thrilled or grateful to see her creations polished and out in the real world.
In May, 2011, Kiki was chosen as an Ohioana Book Festival author for her novel, Torn Asunder. She’s also had three flash fiction stories win writing contests. In the fall of 2013, her novel, Hidden Salem, made the Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers Lists in 3 categories: Paranormal, Suspense and Ghosts. You can find out more about Kiki on her website www.kikihowell.com or stop by her blog http://anauthorsmusings.blogspot.com/
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