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HIDDEN (Book of Light & Shadows Book 1)

By AprilALuna All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Blurb

Aden Clarkson, a member of the Grgul’ya Codex clan, doesn’t do relationships. He prefers a no strings, no commitment approach to dating—a prearranged, mutually gratifying association. A connection he both dominates and controls that is until the alluring scent of Sophia Mahoney crosses his path. College student Sophia Mahoney’s life has been turned upside down. Her uncle is dead—murdered. The Doccioner clan wants the Book of Light and Shadows, and an elite Maalik assassin is after her. Follow Sophia Mahoney as she steps between waking realities into the world she never knew existed. A world full of dark and white magic. A world where witches and gargoyles battle for a foothold. Sophia, born from both the light and darkness must make a choice. Which side will she chose . . . light or dark?

Chapter 1

There is no instinct like that of the heart. – Lord Byron

Five minutes is all it took to shatter my world. Three hundred seconds to learn my uncle, Hugo Tardif, was lying face down in a pool of his own blood. His tongue carved from his mouth. He was the only family I had, and now, he’s dead.

The pungent smell of blood wafts in the air. Heavy footsteps echo, bouncing off the rock walls of the basement. Glancing up, a man dressed in a dark charcoal suit approaches the step I’m sitting on. Drawing my legs up, I hug them to my chest.

“My name is Detective Chase.” His long manicured fingers brush back the lapel of his jacket, exposing a badge clipped to his waist and a holstered firearm. “Ma’am, I understand you drove in from Boston and found your uncle.”

“I’m Sophia Tardif . . . Sophie.” Looking past the detective, my eyes zoom in on my uncle’s cold, motionless body. Sprigs of his curly brown hair fan out over the blood-stained floor. “He wasn’t expecting me until tomorrow morning.” I pause, my voice hollow. “He didn’t like me driving at night. But when my last exam ended, I came home.”

“Where are you going to school?”

“Harvard. My spring classes just ended. I’m out for the summer.”

My heart aches, it’s breaking in two. They didn’t even cover him with a sheet, like they do in the movies. Instead, they’ve worked around him, taking photographs and combing the area for evidence.

Sucking in a ragged breath, my eyes dart around the room. The walls and floor are covered in strange writing. Actually, the markings look more like symbols than words, which is odd. Did my uncle do it . . . or someone else?

Lifting a leg, the detective places the tip of his brown brogue Oxford dress shoe on top of the step above me and leans on the handrail. “Did your uncle have an affiliation with any gangs . . . or dabble in the occult, Ms. Tardif?”

“No.” The donuts and tea I scarfed down on the road shifts, it’s bubbling and sloshing around in my stomach. “My uncle was a quiet man." My eyes drift back to the wall of writing. "He rarely left the bookstore.”

“Do you know why anyone would want to hurt him?”

I shake my head then swallow hard, forcing the bile touching the back of my throat down. “Why would someone do this to him . . . to anyone?” Tears fill my eyes. “I shouldn’t have stopped for a drink.” My voice cracks. “If I’d come home first, he might still be alive.”

The air between us grows thick and heavy. He’s talking, but I only hear every other word. Ribbons of color swirl around him.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I try to refocus my thoughts. But Detective Chase’s words continue to rattle around in my head. Gangs . . . occult . . . words I’d never associated with my uncle before. He was an honest man—a hard worker. He’d have given the shirt off his back if he thought it would help someone else.

The detective kneels in front of me and places a hand on my shoulder. “Is there someone we can call . . . family?”

I force back the tears threatening to breach my lids. “There’s no one else. Hugo was all I had.” Standing, I take hold of the rail. “May I go upstairs?”

The detective nods. “I’ll be in touch, Ms. Tardif.”

He hands me a card with a case number. His name is flat, unassuming against the white background. But the bold words homicide detective jump out at me.

“If you think of anything—anything at all—no matter how insignificant it may seem—don’t hesitate to call.”

His eyes bore through me, but I hold his gaze. After several seconds, he turns. With long strides, he covers the basement floor. Standing next to a uniformed policeman, he examines the main wall of the basement.

A pentagram, three-feet in diameter, is scribed on the wall in blood.

Gulping a breath, I ascend the stairs. The image keeps flashing through my mind.

“What the hell happened?” I ask the question under my breath. “And what the fuck do the symbols mean?”

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