Firebrand is the debut fantasy romance from writing partners Kathye Quick and Patt Mihailoff. Writing as P. K. Eden, Firebrand involves the worlds of humans, the fae and trolls with a Garden of Eden twist.
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Amber Drake knows she’s different. She sees faces in pools of water, can move objects with her thoughts, and feels an energy coursing through her veins that radiates through her skin and ripples perception. She has done her best to hide these episodes over the years but when a strange misshapen man breaks into her apartment and wrecks it, the very people she has come to love and trust reveal a unimaginable secret. Amber is the only person who can save three worlds from annihilation. Hidden among the humans by Marcus Drake the man she has called Father, she has been shielded from the trolls who want her dead. Watched over by Teezal Thistlecomb, the fairy who has been her companion since childhood, it takes all their cunning to evade Gorash the troll king who requires something very special from Amber. Although in love with and loved by David Mack, the man whose family legacy has been to protect her, Amber feels alone and betrayed as each reveals their part in the arrangement made at her birth. When the Garden fell, what was left was divided into three: Humans – the children of Adam and Eve , the Fae – those who came from the Angel of the Garden and Trolls – descendants of the Creature who tempted . Each world was given a Sword to protect and hope in the form of a prophecy that said a savior would come born of all bloods that would be able to restore the Garden and bring peace to all worlds. Amber is that redeemer. Now as the lines betweens the three worlds blur and forces cross to create chaos, Amber must choose. Does she turn her back on the prophecy and let three worlds die, or will she accept her destiny and potentially give her life so others may live.
Present Day, New York City
When Amber touched the doorknob on her townhouse, it appeared to ripple, like heat waves rising from the desert. Electric-like shocks began at her shoulder blades and ended at the dimples in the small of her back, and her chest burned as though on fire. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply and slowly until the sensations passed. She knew they would. This was not the first time. She stepped back and pulled her cell phone from her purse. The one-touch dialing connected her quickly.
“David,’ she said, fighting to keep her voice composed. “It happened again.” She listened to the voice on the other end, closing her eyes as his soothing tone spread clam though her. “I’ll wait for you. Please hurry.”
David Braeden had come into her life a year ago. He was her rock, her haven in a world she couldn’t seem to relate to any longer. Since she met him, she felt safe, as though he had been sent to her for just that reason. It didn’t surprise her in the least when she fell in love with him. Even when she told him about the hallucinations, he listened and didn’t judge her.
She remembered when the phenomenon began. She’d taken a walk near the lake behind her home in Pennsylvania, and found herself at the edge of a meadow at the foot of a hill that seemed to be thrust out of the earth as though it had been raised as a gift to some ancient god.
Although the sides were steep and the climb precarious she felt compelled to go up the hill. When she reached the top, the sun was directly overhead. She stood on the peak and looked straight down into the perfectly circular pond set blow. From her vantage point she found it easy imagine down was up and up was down, the reflection in the water was so perfect. The perception filled her with a sense of exquisite joy. In a few moments she began to feel as though she could step off the mountain and not fall. After all, she reasoned, she would be stepping into the sky and onto the sun.
She moved toward the edge of the cliff when a pain shot though her back and settled in her shoulder blades. A feeing like building energy began on each side of her spine and rose in a crescendo until she feared the skin on her back would rip apart. When it stopped, her entire back felt as though she had been hit with a thousand tiny electric shocks.
Shaken, she climbed down the hill and dropped to the ground near the pond. The perfectly still water with sunlight sparkling on the surface made Amber feel it was possible to see all the way to the bottom. She leaned forward to get a better look and for a brief moment, reflected in the water, she could see curtains of light behind her. She watched in fascination as, like two small eddies, they vanished. She turned around, but saw nothing.
She looked back into the pool and was shocked to see her friend, Serina, talking to something that did not resemble anything Amber had ever seen. Short in stature, the creature’s face held a pair of small eyes and a lipless mouth set beneath a round nose. Clearly not human, its ears were long ending in points much like the antennas of a butterfly. Its feet were webbed like a frog’s, its skin a light blue. Amber could hear Serina talking in a language unfamiliar to her while the wind blew the petals of flowers around the creature’s head.
Mystified, she drew her gaze away from the sight and felt immediately drained. Yes, that’s it, she had thought, she was tired from climbing the mountain and must have dozed off. It was all just a dream. But when she looked back into the water, Serina looked straight back at her and shook her head slowly, almost sadly. Then, as a cloud moved over the sun, the vision vanished.
She never said anything to Serina about that day. She didn’t want her best friend and housemate to think she was crazy. That was three years ago and as time passed, the episodes came closer and closer together. She could sense their onset now much in the same way a child senses he is home and awakens just before the parents pull the car into the driveway after a long trip.
But there was something different about this cycle. The events were more intense, lasted longer and brought with it a realization that whatever was ultimately going to happen to her, it would be happening soon.
Amber touched the doorknob again. Nothing happened. She said she would wait for David, but she felt a pull urging her inside. By small degrees she turned the knob, her inner vanguard prickling. After opening the door, she reached for the light switch on the wall.
“Bring not the light,” a croaky voice said.
Amber lowered her hand, her heart pounding hard in her chest.
“No need to be afraid.” An indistinct figure stepped out from the shadows inside the room into the lighter ones of the doorway. “I did not come here to hurt you, that is, unless I am forced to.”
“A friend will be here any minute. You’d better leave while you can,” she warned.
The intruder continued to move around the room. “If I am forced to hurt him, I will.”
He passed in front of the window and, for a moment, Amber could see him. About three feet tall, He was stocky with markedly large hands and feet. His knotted hair touched his shoulders. But his features were still shrouded by the darkness. “Who are you? What do you want?”
“For now, talk.”
The rapid beating of her heart slowed. He took a step backward and she followed. More curious than afraid, she sat down on the sofa, perching on the edge. Slowly she reached for the lamp on the end table. She felt something fall on her arm before a sharp pain ran up her hand
“No! I have warned you once.”
She cradled her aching wrist and squinted through the darkness searching for him. “Okay, you wanted to talk, so talk.”
“I want the object.” his voice was low and gravelly.
“I’ve been searching for it for about twenty-five years and there is a connection to you.”
She could hear him shuffling around the room picking up and replacing things on the tables and bookcases. She became annoyed. This was her home, and some midget had made himself comfortable in it while she had been out. “If you tell me what you want, if I have it, I’ll tell you where to look.” She heard papers being moved around. “Stop touching my stuff.”
A sharp pain shot up her side and then another before she realized he was poking her with something. Timing the jabs, she stood and caught the end of what felt like a rough wooden staff with both hands. With a quick jerk, she ripped it from him. In response, a solid shove from behind propelled her forward across the coffee table and onto the floor.
“You will tell me where it is.”
She felt a pinch on her leg, then a tug on her hair. He was fast she had to admit. Dragging herself upright, she squinted into the darkness trying to find him. “My friend will be here any minute. You’d better get out while you still can.” He responded by poking a finger between her shoulder blades so hard that it brought tears to her eyes. She stood and slapped at the air. “Quit it. That hurts.”
“Hurt all night, you will, unless I find the object.”
Angry now, she punched out her right fist and somehow caught him on the chin. She heard him stumble. “And so will you,” she countered. “I’ve been working out.” Air rushed passed her as she sidestepped when he lunged at her again.
“The object. I must have it.” The voice hissed.
“Tell me what it is,” she challenged, turning in a circle, waiting.
“The key. I need the key,” he insisted.
The sound of glass hitting the floor made Amber’s stomach knot a little, but she ignored it. “What kind of key?”
“A wonderous key. A remarkable key. But not a key at all,” he continued. “And I must have it,” he shouted as something heavy hit the wall behind her.
“Look, whoever you are if you keep talking in riddles, we’ll never figure this out.”
The air filled with the sound of his heavy breathing. “Then you’ll give this to me?”
“Maybe,” she baited. She heard him knock over the table to her right and turned toward the sound. When she did, shooting pains stabbed at her, like knives trying to split her breastbone. She pressed her palm against her chest and saw light filter up between her fingers. She could feel the pendant she always wore begin to pulsate.
Could it be? Through the thin material of her blouse, she wrapped her hand around it. In what seemed to be only a fraction of a second, she felt as though she held molten lava in her palm. The instinct to rip it from her neck was dwarfed by a premonition that she must protect it at all costs. She tightened her grip and clutched it like a life preserver.
“Show yourself,” she demanded, as the sound of objects hitting the floor intensified. Almost as soon as she uttered the words, a flickering day-glo green outline began to form in front of her, growing more distinct as she stared. “I can see you,” she said, her voice an unsteady whisper.
Suddenly the room filled with yellow light as she heard the lamp near the door click on. “What the hell?”