Spoiler Alert: If you have not read Dark Awakening or Dark Gathering, do not continue! Doing so will spoil the mind-blowing, action-packed plot twist you won’t see coming. (Okay, maybe the marketer in me is shining through, but consider yourself warned!)
Prologue to Dark Storm
The structure was a good one-hundred meters tall and was probably an overpass at one time. Now, crumbling concrete lay strewn near the base, while the ramp only extended one third of the way to the other side. Caitriona Sinclair climbed over the debris and concrete to gain a better advantage of the charred countryside below her. Pausing, she looked out at the dystopian landscape and marveled that this now deserted and ruined land was once part of the busy metropolis of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Duncan MacKinnon, Commander of the Templar army, climbed next to her and placed his hand on her shoulder. She felt the energy that was nearly always present between them, and smiled despite the destruction around them.
“A little different from what ye remember, aye lass?” Duncan asked, his Scottish brogue strong and sure.
She nodded. “This,” she waved her hand in front of her, “is more of what I pictured when you first told me about 23rd century earth.”
He swept her auburn hair off her neck and placed the long main over her left shoulder, planting a light kiss on the slender column of her neck. Butterflies surfaced in her stomach and she placed her palm on her belly, enjoying the feelings that only his touch could evoke.
“What happened here?” she asked, leaning into him. He was the only person who could make her feel safe and cherished in a world that favored destruction over peace.
“This was the location of the third war,” he told her, his tone distant and strained.
“You mean World War III?” she asked, her incredulous expression apparent under long lashes that framed her deep, emerald green eyes.
“Nay,” he replied. “When the New World Order began cleansing humanity, they kent they needed tae take key areas around the globe. Chihuahua, Mexico, was one of those areas that was overtaken during the Order’s third war or third wave of genocide.”
“But why?” she asked. “What makes this place so valuable?” She inhaled as she realized the answer to her question before Duncan had a chance to reply.
“At the time, it didna make much sense, but Hawkins must have known about the Crystal Caves. It’s why he doesna want tae give up this area,” he told her, his long legs easily allowing him to cover the steep step that it took to access the better views.
“Come,” he beckoned, holding out his hand. Caitriona placed her small hand in his without hesitation. He lifted her as if she was little more than a rag doll and set her on the concrete pillar next to him.
Stepping onto the narrow walkway, she walked with him to the far part of the bridge. Metal pipes stuck straight out into nothingness, their concrete casings long since destroyed by weapons of mass destruction. Duncan pointed to a sparsely vegetated area in the distance. “That’s the town of Naica,” he told her.
She squinted, shielding her eyes from the sun. “Doesn’t look much like a town,” she scoffed.
“Aye,” he affirmed. “And the Dwellers like tae keep it that way.”
Caitriona stepped away from the ledge and sat down on one of the concrete barriers that lined the outer edge of the now-crumbled bridge. The wind blew softly through her hair, whipping the loose tendrils around her eyes and mouth. She tucked the errant hairs behind her ear and patted the empty space next to her. Duncan took the proffered seat, his longs legs hanging over the ledge. “This is going tae work, Caitriona,” he said, pulling her hand into his.
“I wish I had as much confidence, Duncan,” she replied, her deep green eyes locked with his steel grey ones.
“I ken yer frightened lass,” he said. “But I ken we can do this. Yer powers are strong, lass. Stronger than yer sister’s.”
“You’re wrong, Duncan,” she replied. He grinned at her and arched an eyebrow, challenging her statement. She looked away, uncomfortable with where their conversation was heading. “And I don’t want to leave you.” The last was barely a whisper.
“Och, lass, I ken, but I see nae other way. The council will never let ye lead a normal life now that they ken how powerful ye really are. And Hawkins will continue tae hunt ye like an animal until he has killed ye and our wee bairn.” She could see the worry and fear settle across his handsome features. She knew he would die to protect her—and the life of their unborn child—she just hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
“Ye’ll be safe in New Barbados until I can get ye home. Tae yer own time,” he added. She saw the determination on his face and knew there was no changing his mind. He felt responsible for having dragged her into his 23rd century war.
“I don’t want to leave you,” she said again, desperation lacing her voice. She stared at her hands, not wanting to look at him. How could she when she knew she’d meet the same, steely determination that meant he’d follow through on his plan.
“It willna be fer long,” he replied, tilting her chin so that she was forced to look at him. A tear escaped the corner of her eye and he brushed it away. “Dinna fasch yerself, lass. I’ll be back before ye even have a chance tae miss me.” He chucked her chin and she grinned despite the seriousness of what they were going to do.
“You’re going to look for other gifted, aren’t you?”
He brushed the hair from her face, his thumb lightly grazing her cheek bone. “Aye,” he replied. “Among other things. We need this, lass.”
“And what if there aren’t any others, Duncan? What then? The outcome is still the same…war.” The last was barely a whisper.
“Come,” he stood and took her hand. “I should get ye back tae the hacienda before LaFelle turns into a rabid dog.” The image Duncan conjured of her handler made her grin.
He pulled her to her feet and she followed him back to the opening of the bridge. Her breath hitched as Duncan scooped her into his arms and jumped easily to the ground below. His genetically enhanced strength still surprised her. She didn’t know if she’d ever get used to this century.
Setting her on her feet, Duncan indicated she should lead the way. Sweeping her long skirts into one hand, she picked her way down the side of the hill, taking her time so she didn’t slip. The richly designed dresses were a symbol of her elevated status in this century, and while the gowns were quite beautiful, she missed her 21st century go-to outfit of t-shirt and jeans.
She stopped when she spied an old power line that had become part of the graveyard of 21st century relics. Hesitating, she glanced behind her to see if Duncan had noticed the old coils, but he seemed unconcerned. She shrugged her shoulders and stepped over the large coil, unsure whether she even needed to avoid the massive lines. I think it’s a safe bet none of these are live wires, she chuckled to herself. Still, she gave the lines wide clearance.
Duncan caught up to her as she made her way to the end of the road where erosion and war had left a gaping hole where asphalt used to be. The gap was too wide for her to jump. If she fell, she would injure herself and their unborn child. Duncan didn’t give her any time to think, scooping her onto his back. “Hold tight,” he told her. She started to protest, but before she could say anything, they were on the other side. She slid off his back and marveled at how easily he had maneuvered the 12-ft wide hole.
Placing her small hand in his, she shivered at the energy that sparked from his touch. She looked in his eyes, but his warrior’s mask of indifference was once again, firmly in place. She knew there’d be no arguing with him from this point, which was fine with her. If she’d learned one thing from her time with the recalcitrant warrior, it was pointless to argue with him once he’d made up his mind.
She grinned as he effortlessly picked her up by her waist and swung her over another section of rubble, setting her on her feet once again. “I don’t want to leave you, Duncan,” she whispered, nuzzling against his chest. The top of her head fit perfectly in the crook of his arm. “I won’t.”
He harrumphed and brushed the hair from her face. “Ye can be so stubborn,” he growled. She glanced at him but knew the steely look in his eyes meant he’d already made up his mind.
“Funny,” she quipped. “I was just thinking that about you.”
Dark Storm is the conclusion to the Dark World trilogy and will be available in the spring of 2021. To get updates about the book’s release, sign up here.