Sunday Sampler: OF SHADOW & STONE

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Kate tossed and turned, trying not to think about Ian. Whenever she did, she thought of how Michael had managed to change her after all, and how she’d have to fix that. It wouldn’t be easy, but it wouldn’t be a fresh start if she brought along so much emotional baggage. Declan’s words had made a big impact. He was right, of course.

Kate turned again, scrunched the pillow under her neck, and forced the thoughts of Ian, Sara, and Michael from her mind. She tried thinking about other things, like the types of spells Von Hiller might be capable of, where Declan had gotten the mirror with the glass reaper in it, and who had put it there to begin with.

And the gargoyles. Always the damned gargoyles.

Declan’s voice whispered in her head, There are other Gods and other realities, as there always have been. She thought of Zeus, Balder, and Ra. When she at last fell asleep, she dreamed of none of these. When sleep finally came, Kate dreamed of the gargoyles. In the dream, they weren’t Declan’s gargoyles at all. They were hers.

As she had before, Kate found herself part of the creature instead of watching as an outsider. The gargoyle stirred as though it had just awakened from a century-old slumber. Wind swept across the building and against its chiseled face. She caught a glimpse of the surroundings—a city skyline and the brightly lit spires of what looked like a church. The gargoyle took a deep breath before shaking itself loose from the building. It stretched out long legs, flexing and retracting sharp talons, erasing years of stiffness and sleep in its stone muscles.

The dream didn’t bother her this time as there weren’t any intended victims in sight. There was no apprehension, no annoyance or anger, just a sense of total inner peace and tranquility.

The creature appeared to be waiting for her to say or do something. After all the time it had spent in hibernation, it was aware of her. Within it, Kate found only curiosity; there were no indications the creature was as murderous and bloodthirsty as the others had been.

She thought about the twinkling city lights and how they looked against a sky as black as a pool of ink. As though on command, the gargoyle moved closer to the edge of the building, looking left and right, slowly and deliberately, giving Kate a clearer picture of the horizon.

Another light breeze blew by and the gargoyle unfurled and extended its wings. Kate was vaguely aware she stretched her arms in unison. She looked across the vast skyline before her, wondering what it felt like to fly, truly fly, unencumbered by machine or contraption, free to sail the skies like a sparrow, to be free of the earth at last.

Wings. She needed to find her wings. She had no idea where or why she thought this, but it felt important.

The gargoyle pushed away from the ledge, wings beating at its sides as it took flight. A surge of elation and awe passed through her as the building fell away and the creature soared and spiraled. The wind brushed against her face as it flexed its wings once more, gliding effortlessly between the skyscrapers. Her eyes watered from the current of night air rushing past her. She caught the creature’s image cast by moonlight and city lights onto a glass building. The reflection twisted and shifted in the panes of glass as she sailed along. It had the head of a hawk, wings and tail like a dragon, and the body, and feet of something combined.

It’s a dream.

It’s not.

Along with the gargoyle, Kate let her imagination slip past the point of turning back to any sense of reality.

Kate smiled as the gentle current of air surrounded her—cradled her. There was nothing to bind her to her problems on earth. Troubles didn’t exist here. She’d never experienced anything as intoxicating as this. Around the buildings she commanded the gargoyle, then up and over the tallest tower and then out toward the surrounding lake. The gargoyle dipped downward and skimmed the water with its beak, taking in some of the water’s surface and leaving ripples behind them with each downward thrust of wings.

She and the gargoyle few in and out of the small patches of cloud cover, circling and staring upward at the silvery moon and the fading stars which were beginning to pale. The reason for this, Kate saw, was to the east—the first rays of orange-red sunlight had begun to bleed into the night sky low on the horizon. She spun away from the sight, spiraling and wheeling in the night with the agility and acrobatics of a Peregrine falcon. Wherever Kate wished to go, the gargoyle eagerly took her.

Below, she caught a glimpse…

Want to read more? OF SHADOW & STONE is available at these retailers:

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Books A Million

 

 

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