Dark Awakening started with a very different beginning from the one many of you read. In fact, by the time Dark Awakening went to the publisher, the book was over 103,000 words—in other words, (no pun intended!)—too long! After some consultation with my publisher, Black Velvet Seductions, we decided to cut the prologue. (Spoiler Alert: parts of the prologue eventually make its way into the body of the story (the beauty of time travel!), so it wasn’t completely lost.
But, for those who want to know how Dark Awakening originally began, here’s the prologue you never read:
The young, auburn-haired beauty closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She concentrated on this simple task as she pulled the air in through her nose and exhaled through her mouth. When she released her breath, she opened her eyes and scanned the room. She saw a hundred or more pair of eyes intently focused on her every move. She was, after all, new and different and powerful.
She was acutely aware of the imposing young man who stood behind her as they entered the meeting hall. She knew he was scanning the room for signs of danger, his hand resting casually—yet ready—on his sword. This gave her a small measure of comfort despite the accelerated beating of her heart.
She was stunned by the vast number of people crammed into the large, cavernous area. The air was thick and fetid with the odors of so many people. She hesitated, no longer sure of her commitment to this plan. The hesitation, however, did not go unnoticed by the man behind her who placed his hand on her elbow; a gentle, but firm reminder of her weighty obligation. With another deep breath, she continued forward, meeting the stares of the people before her with determined strength. Through the hordes of people she remained silent, moving gracefully by the young man’s side, ignoring the veiled, speculative looks of the occupants as the two passed among them.
At the opposite end of the room, a long table was arranged with twelve seats on one side that faced the audience of men and women; many of whom crowded near the table, presumably to get a better view. The crowd parted for them and the young man guided her to the table. When they reached their seats, he pulled her chair out for her and motioned for her to sit. She refused to meet his eyes or acknowledge his assistance, but took her seat, smoothing the folds of her russet and gold gown in a gesture that belied the tension in the room. She fidgeted with a long auburn curl that had come unwound from the perfectly coiffed hair she had undergone with less-than-patient ministrations earlier that day. Her pure, ivory complexion was flawless with the exception of the large nearly-faded bruise that was visible just below her left eye.
The young woman had a good idea how this day would end. The vision that haunted her since childhood visited her again last night. She awoke in terror, drenched in perspiration from a battle she couldn’t win. Her handler, sensing her fear, was immediately in her chambers, a welcome reassurance in a world where everything was a threat and her terrifying vision an ever-present reminder of the fate that awaited her.
The young man took the seat next to her and cleared his throat, a subtle reminder that she needed to stop fidgeting and find something more appropriate to do with her hands. He poured them each a glass of water from the tall carafe that sat on the table before meeting the stares of those who had gathered. Raking a perfectly manicured hand through his neatly trimmed jet black hair, he smiled at her, a small bead of perspiration on his upper lip the only indication of his frayed nerves.
An older man eyed the pair quizzically but took his seat as the cacophony of voices around them swelled. Brushing his thick, wavy gray hair from his face, he looked out at the sea of people searching for someone. Deep lines etched his face and dark circles gave away the fact that he hadn’t slept well for months.
The nine council members all took their seats at the long table, some nodding to her as they settled themselves for what would undoubtedly be a long, heated evening.
The torches on the wall cast eerie shadows across the room. Two young girls pushed their way through the crowd to bring pitchers of steaming coffee to the seated council members. The carafes were placed on the table next to trenchers of meat and cheese. A few members eagerly began dishing their plates, but most remained focused on the woman and her escort.
The older man slowly rose and placed one hand on the woman’s chair, the tide of voices fading as he was given their full attention.
“My friends,” he began. “For centuries our brothers met in secrecy to ensure the preservation and freedom of all life. Our ancestors watched as genocide reduced the world population in 2050 by more than three billion people. The Committee of 300, created and sanctioned by the New World Order, has called our ancestors “useless eaters” and has promoted the practice of genetic selection and genetic engineering to further their own political agendas.” He paused, more for dramatic effect than for loss of words, the young woman assumed.
“Our populations have remained silent while genetic engineering has grown rampant and has now made us captive to the technology we once embraced.”
The young woman watched the faces in the room, noting the affirmative nods as the old man set the stage like a gifted playwright.
Swiping a calloused hand across his eyes he took a sip of water, his confidence evident as he harnessed the full attention of the men and women in the room.
“For generations, we stood by, helpless, as our Pagan brothers and sisters were persecuted and burned at the stake for their beliefs.” He allowed his voice to rise to a loud crescendo before continuing with his next thunderous statement. “But our day is now here! We will no longer sit back in silence. We must act! Our people are counting on us to bring about freedom!” He took a deep breath, placing his hands on the woman’s shoulders.
She remained still, her eyes fixated on the faces before her. The older man nodded to a handsome man who had arrived late and taken a seat at the far end of the table. He nodded his head but otherwise remained expressionless and immovable.
The older man once again looked out across the table at the men and women gathered in the room, pausing before he delivered the confirmation she knew they were all waiting to hear. In another rising crescendo, he emphasized his next words, “Captain MacKinnon has succeeded in bringing us the Seer! We have confirmed her genetic line is pure and we will prove to all of you today that she is gifted and the one named in our prophecies. We will bring an end to the Order’s tyranny.”
There was a unified cheer as those gathered at the table whispered to one another and nodded to the young beauty who remained impassive. Those seated near the handsome late comer extended warm handshakes or hearty pats to him, unaware of the battle that warred within him.
In front of the older gentleman, the young woman stared blankly ahead, green eyes ablaze with fury. She said nothing and only the Captain could read the fury in her eyes. Pushing back his chair, he stood, causing the room to grow quiet. All eyes were on him as he swept his gaze around the room. Turning, he left, the eyes of the woman he delivered boring a hole into his heart.
To read about the Seer and her prophesies, get your copy of Dark Awakening.
(C) 2017. Karlene Cameron, all rights reserved.