By: Dawn McClure

Chapter One

Brianna sat on her bed and held the spell book to her chest, paralyzed by fear. A bright flash of light had burst through her house only seconds before, accompanied with a sound that had her reciting the Lord's Prayer. Her light yellow curtains tangled with the rush of wind sweeping through her bedroom, fanning out like wisps of ghosts. Family photos fell from their place on her dresser, and her television made a loud popping noise just before going blank. Gray smoke poured from the top of it, filling her room with an acidic stench.

From now on she was going to listen to her inner voice. The very same voice that had told her not to cast any spell that lay within the leather-bound pages she cradled in her arms.

The power contained in the book had called to her the moment she had touched it. Dark and compelling. That should have been her first indication not to play with the spells contained within. In retrospect, it was more than likely the reason she had purchased it. The rare ancient language sparked an academic interest. Deciphering the language posed a challenge.

A whisper of darkness slid through her, a steadfast warning that hadn't affected her as it should have.

She ought to have known something like this would happen. She was pushing herself to become a witch, focusing all her energy on spells and her obscure success at casting them. It was safe to say she was out of her league in this ambition. How long would she torment herself with powers she had no hope of mastering?

Now, after years of casting and studying spells, she knew what true darkness felt like. And it was currently in her house.

In the hallway.

Moaning such as she'd never heard nor imagined came from just beyond her opened bedroom door in the darkness that lay outside the circle of light cast by her bedside lamp. The question wasn't if something was in her house, it was a question of what.

Her psychic abilities were failing her. The only truth she could discern was whatever lay ten feet away wasn't human, and it certainly wasn't virtuous. She was unable to control her emotions long enough to concentrate on the entity, another one of her Achilles' heels. She needed meditation for her psychic visions to come to her. It was safe to say her skills concerning psychic capacity were sorely lacking.

The moaning coming from the hallway slowly gave way to silence. She closed her eyes and prayed the situation wasn't as bad as she was making it out to be. She hadn't merely made a blunder with a spell; she'd done something terribly worse. Something she may have no control over.

She listened for movement as her house once again grew silent.

Perhaps whatever she had summoned had died. That thought, though tantalizing, didn't leave her with a comfortable feeling. Whatever condition this creature was currently in, the simple fact it was in her house remained.

She put the book on her nightstand and crawled out of bed. She couldn't ignore what had happened, nor could she leave whatever it was in her hallway, possibly dying. This had happened because of a spell she had cast, and now it was her responsibility to rid her house of her mistake.

She grabbed her old, tattered spell book off her dresser and flipped to page forty, to her Oops Spell, as she liked to call it. It was a retraction spell.

Unfortunately she used it quite often.

She tiptoed to her door and summoned the courage to face what she had called forth. The house was so damned quiet she could hear her refrigerator humming in the kitchen. She took a deep breath and forced herself to peek around the corner.

There was a naked man lying on her floor. A rather large, unconscious, naked man sprawled in her hallway.

Had she yanked someone from a different time? A different dimension?

She tiptoed to his side, close enough to poke his leg with her foot. Years of watching horror flicks had her imagining all kinds of things. Him jumping up and snarling at her, brandishing a knife and a mask. His face contorting into a vampiric nightmare, fangs extended, claws tearing at her skin.

"Are you alive?" she whispered. She nudged his side with her bare foot.

He moaned.

She stepped back so fast she tripped over her own feet, fell against her bedroom doorframe and landed in a heap on the carpet.

She scooted against the wall and opened her book to page forty again. Her hands shook so badly it was difficult to turn the delicate pages. To hell with this. Whoever it was had to go back to where he came from.

Also By Dawn McClure

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