Glow – Snippet 1

Hey, S. M. Boyce here. Welcome to the world of Oriceran on the west coast, a land where wilderness and magic intertwine. Glow is the first in the Fairhaven Chronicles, a series inspired by the beauty of the west coast. Enjoy the first 6 chapters on the house and ride along as Victoria Brie (yes, like the cheese) and her best friend Audrey Xavier discover magic.


Glow: The Revelations of Oriceran, The Fairhaven Chronicles, Book 1

By S. M. Boyce & Martha Carr

Chapter One

A warm breeze rushed over Victoria Brie’s face as she leaned her head against the car’s doorframe. She smiled as an I-5 onramp whizzed by her, tangles of ivy spilling over the freeway dividers that separated the road from a Seattle suburb. Silky strands of her strawberry hair broke loose from her pony tail and shivered in the wind coming through the open window. Her fingers tapped to the beat of a rock song on the radio as she hummed aimlessly and watched the gray sky.

Home.

Someone slammed on their brakes in front of her. Tires screeched. In the driver’s seat, her best friend Audrey Xavier flipped off the driver and peeled into the next lane. “Learn to drive, motherfucker!”

Victoria chuckled. “Girl, you need to chill.”

“Are you blind? We nearly got into a wreck.”

“It’s Seattle. Everyone drives like shit.”

Audrey smirked. “Except me, of course.”

Victoria laughed. “Of course. You’re flawless.”

“Damn right I am.” She swerved into the next lane with only a foot to spare between her and the car behind them. Victoria rolled her eyes.

Their car rumbled over the bridge between Seattle and Bellevue as Audrey headed to their neighborhood. They’d lived two streets apart their whole lives, which meant free rides for Victoria any time they went anyplace.

“You’re going to be at kickboxing tomorrow, right?” Audrey took one of the offramps leading toward their suburb.

“Always.”

“Duh, I know you want to. But your arm—”

“Is fine.” Victoria rubbed the fist-sized bruise on her bicep that was hidden under her sleeve.

“Maybe lay off sparring for a bit?”

“I’m fine, thanks, Ma,” Victoria said, rolling her eyes.

Audrey grinned and turned onto Victoria’s street. Victoria scanned the houses, all cookie-cutter versions of each other with nothing to differentiate each but the yards and colors of the siding. She loved Seattle, but the suburbs? Not so much.

The car jostled as it pulled into the paved driveway of her parents’ two-story home. Aside from the tree in the center of the yard, it looked like every other house on the block, but she didn’t care. This one was special. This one was home.

The family Jeep sat in the driveway—a pleasant surprise, since her parents were journalists and travel a lot. Looked like she’d get a cooked meal tonight instead of a frozen dinner. She grimaced. Scratch that. With her mother’s love of too much tabasco, Victoria would probably prefer a frozen dinner.

“See you at school tomorrow,” Audrey said.

Victoria grinned and grabbed her gym bag out of the backseat, heading for the mailbox as Audrey backed into the street. Nothing too exciting in the mail today: bill, junk, junk…

…and a letter from Harvard.

“Holy shit!” she shouted, squirming a bit and spinning in circles as she held the thick envelope, not quite able to contain herself. A bird nearby flew off, wings beating the air as it retreated from the crazy girl dancing in her front yard.

Harvard. The Harvard. The Harvardest of Harvards! The dream school where she would study medicine and build a life for herself. Maybe marry a lawyer, as long as he could cook.

“Mom! Dad!” She ran toward the porch, jumping the top step as she reached for the door handle.

The front door was ajar, the wood along the frame and lock splintered. It looked as though someone had kicked it in.

Her smile faded. A primal part of her screamed that something was wrong. Her parents never left the door unlocked, much less open.

Throat dry, a slight tremble to her hands, she peeked inside to find the familiar foyer lined with family vacation photos in mismatched frames. On the left, those same glass doors leading to the shared office. Same messy desk littered with papers. On the right, the same doorway into the rarely used dining room. And straight ahead, the same view of the living room.

Except this time, a man’s legs protruded around the corner. She recognized those beat-up sneakers.

“Dad!” She ran to him, dropping her gym bag as she got her knees and felt for his pulse. He lay in the hallway leading toward the master bedroom, his face pressed into the drywall. A long streak of blood stained his white button-down, and a few rips in his jeans were covered in blood as well. Thankfully, he was breathing, and his eyes fluttered open as she knelt.

He coughed. Blood splattered against the wall. “You need to go. You need to run, now.”

“Dad, what happened?”

He waved away her hands, trying to stand and falling to his knees. “There’s no time. You need to get out of here right away.”

“I’m not going to leave you, Dad. Where’s Mom? What—”

A woman’s scream cut through the air. She screamed again, but this time it was cut short. Panic rolled through Victoria like a tsunami hitting a beach.

The primal fight-or-flight urge kicked in, and she was sure as hell going to fight.

She bolted to her feet, fists clenched and ready to land a punch on someone’s nose or, better yet, groin. When she fought to protect what she loved, she sure as shit didn’t play fair.

“C’mon, Dad. We have to find Mom. Let’s go!”

Something grabbed her wrist, and she spun on her heel to find her father still on his knees. This wasn’t the stoic, strong man who had raised her, taught her to be tough and to walk off her scuffed knees. Instead, she saw a man with one hand on his side as he struggled to breathe, his brows scrunched in pain. To her utter disbelief, tears welled in his eyes. “I failed. I’ve failed you both. I’m so sorry, Victoria. I’m so sorry.”

Jesus. This was way worse than she’d thought. Her breath came in bursts, and the almost uncontrollable urge to run up the steps toward her mother’s scream conflicted her. Immobilized, terrified, she searched his face for answers. “Dad, you’re not making sense. We have to go help Mom! What if… what if she…”

He pulled Victoria close, cradling her head in his hands as he touched his forehead to hers. “Victoria, you don’t have time. Your mom and I, we’re goners, but you can still make it out of here alive before he finds you. You can—”

The bottom stair creaked. Victoria spun to find a man, easily six and a half feet tall, leaning against the wall at the bottom of the stairs. He wore a suit, and splotches of fresh red blood splatter stained his white dress shirt. His long black hair was slicked back like a mobster’s, and his ears came to a point.

She squinted at his ears, heart hammering in her chest. None of this made sense. Maybe she was losing her mind, or maybe she had passed out after finding the Harvard letter and this was all a dream.

Had to be. It fucking had to be because otherwise, none of it made sense.

The stranger looked her up and down, and for the first time, Victoria noticed blood spatter on his cheeks. “You didn’t tell me you had a daughter, old man. Sneaky.”

Victoria shuddered at the sound of the man’s voice. It was worse than nails on a chalkboard. It had a deep, grating tonality, as if he were drilling a hole in her head with the very sound. His eyes narrowed as she stared at him, the irises flashing red for the briefest of moments.

Paralyzed, Victoria could only stare.

“Victoria, run!” her father shouted.

Something pushed her. She fell forward, landing hard on her shoulder. Her body slid along the hardwood floor from the force. As she finally regained her composure, she had a perfect view of the two men facing off in her living room. The stranger smirked as her father stood and—unbelievably—summoned a sword from thin air.

Victoria’s jaw dropped.

The weapon looked like the lovechild of a sword and an axe. The brass hilt curved slightly, and the sharp blade had two curves in it that reminded Victoria of bites out of a sandwich, creating a dizzyingly fierce weapon with three sharp points. It rested easily in her father’s hand, although his shoulder dipped a bit as if it were insanely heavy.

Nope, this didn’t make sense. Not one bit. Her analytical brain worked overtime trying to rationalize what she had seen, but she couldn’t think of any possible way he could make a sword materialize like that, especially not a heavy one. His hand had been empty one second ago, but now a massive broadsword filled it. He lifted his arm and swung at the stranger, who easily ducked out of the way.

Her father grimaced, laser-focused on the attacker with a look of hatred Victoria didn’t recognize. This couldn’t be her father. Sure, he could be a pain-in-the-ass journalist sometimes when he was asking the wrong people the wrong questions, but he had never before looked like he could kill someone.

And he looked like he was about to massacre this stranger.

Tears long gone from his eyes, her father raised his sword. “Luak, you son of a bitch. If you so much as touched my wife, I swear I’ll—”

“Oh, she’s dead,” Luak answered with a sneer.

Victoria gasped, looking up at the stairs. “Mom!”

“She’s next,” the stranger said, with a nod to Victoria.

“Over my dead body,” her father said.

“That suits me just fine,” Luak answered. A spark snapped to life in his palm, flickering like a tiny sun. Within seconds fire erupted across his hands, burning nothing but the air and his hatred.

Victoria gasped.

The men attacked each other, and time slowed. The stranger threw a ball of fire at her dad. The crackle of flames drowned out all other sound. Her father groaned and fell against the wall, sword tilting as he held his side, and Luak raised his hand to strike. Too slow. Her father dove, sword aimed for the stranger’s heart, but Luak narrowly avoided the thrust.

Victoria inched toward the kitchen. She needed to get a knife or something—anything—that would let her join this fight. But as she prepared to make a run for it, she caught her father’s eye. His forehead furrowed, and he sighed. In one horrifying moment she saw his expression shift. He went from furious and vengeful to almost sad. He seemed determined about something, and she had a feeling she wouldn’t like what it was.

Oh, God, no.

That was his resigned face, an expression she had seen only twice before in her life. It marked the moment he gave up on something that meant the world to him.

He lifted his sleeve, which struck her as odd. He always wore long sleeves, even in summer, and he never rolled them up. He joked about always being cold, even when he would sweat.

Now she knew why.

Embedded in his arm was a dagger. The metal had fused with his body, and the intricate curls in the metal blade left small holes through which the wall behind him was visible. Her jaw dropped yet again, and her mind went numb as she tried to process what she was seeing.

He ducked another blow from the stranger, knelt, and slid toward her. Before she could say anything, he grabbed her shoulder and put himself between her and the attacker. The stranger didn’t miss a beat. He pulled out a dagger from beneath his suit coat and drove it into her father’s chest. Her father shrieked in agony.

“Dad!” she screamed.

A brilliant flash of green light filled the room. A blast of air emanated from her dad, pushing aside everything but the two of them. Couches banged into the walls. Tables flipped. The stranger flew backward, sailing through the front door and onto the porch. Splintered wood ricocheted off the walls and ceiling as the door broke from the force.

Her father collapsed to the ground. Still blinking away the spots in her vision, she stared at her father, grabbing fistfuls of his shirt as she tried desperately to see how he was doing. Blood trickled from the corners of his lips, but he smiled.

“You’re going to be okay, Victoria,” he said softly.

Crying, throat dry, panicked to hell and back, Victoria could barely think straight. “Dad, stay with me. Dad!

He paused, eyes lingering on hers, mouth trembling a bit. “I love you with all my soul, Baby Bear.”

He reached for the dagger embedded in his arm, grimacing as his fingers gingerly pulled the metal from his skin. Blood bubbled from the edges of the artifact as he ripped it out, pooling on the hardwood. He screamed, a bloodcurdling sound that sent shockwaves through Victoria’s core. Face contorted in a painful grimace, he pressed the dagger against her own arm. The tip broke the skin and drew blood from her wrist. She flinched, and he collapsed to the ground.

A searing pain unlike anything Victoria had ever experienced in her life burned through her entire body. It was as if she had been set aflame and then thrown in an oven for good measure. She tried to scream, but she couldn’t. She tried to move, but she couldn’t. Her entire being ached to cry out, to thrash, to get away from the pain, and yet she was immobilized.

Eventually, she became aware that she was leaning on her hands, heaving. The grains of the hardwood came into view bit by bit. Arms shaking, she tried to stand and fell back to her knees. A familiar, eerie voice caught her attention.

“He must have hated you,” Luak said.

She narrowed her eyes, seething with disgust at this man who would dare say something so wildly heartless seconds after killing her father. She snarled, her voice nearly a growl. “I’m going to rip you apart, you fucking bastard.”

He smirked. “Feisty. I like it.”

Dagger aimed at her face, he lunged. Ordinarily Victoria would tap into her two years of kickboxing experience to dodge and turn the knife against him. Any other day, she would have had a clear mind and a strong grip.

But today was no ordinary day.

With her nerves on fire, confused and horrified, Victoria was a slave to her impulses. Her anger and fear blurred into one chaotic emotion she couldn’t even name. This lunatic, this murderer, wanted her dead. Her reflexes were wrecked from her ordeal, and she wanted something to cover her, something to protect her from the steel headed for her temple.

As if on command, a shield appeared in her hand. Its shape reminded her of a coat of arms. It weighed down her arm, the bottom edge sinking deep into the hardwood. The floor splintered, and the stranger’s knife snapped on the rough iron of her shield.

“What the hell?” Astonished, surprised, and freaked right the hell out, Victoria pushed herself against the wall. As quickly as it had come, the shield disappeared into thin air again. Now she was faced with the stranger, who glared at her as if he wanted to rip out her throat with his bare hands.

In her periphery, her father’s blood-soaked body lay on the hardwood floor. She pushed herself to her feet, boiling with anger. If this Luak asshole wanted to rip her throat out, he’d have to work for it.

The murderer summoned another spark in his palm, his hand erupting with familiar fire, and she once again lifted her hands to shield her face. And once again, a shield appeared out of thin air. The flame poured past, Victoria safely protected behind the iron shield that had come from nowhere.

And once again, it disappeared just as quickly.

He lifted his hand to attack once more, but the scream of a siren broke through the air. He looked over his shoulder at the gaping hole that was once her front door, tensing. “Let’s see how long you last, girl.”

“What do you—”

He lifted both hands to the ceiling and flames engulfed his entire body. She screamed as fire funneled off him like a tornado, and heat singed her eyebrows. She coughed, suddenly desperate for air, and crawled away from him. The flames emanating from his body engulfed the house, burning faster than any bonfire she had ever seen. The couch, the table, the ceiling fan—all ablaze.

Through the surging flames, she caught his eye. He sneered and disappeared into the smoke. Something told her he wouldn’t be affected, but the heat singed her skin, and she knew she had to get out of here. Desperate, she reached for her father. He didn’t move. A knot formed in her throat as she put her finger on his neck to check for a pulse.

Nothing.

Eyes stinging from the smoke and her loss, she headed for the stairwell. She had to look for her mother, had to at least check. But as she started up the steps, a beam fell from the ceiling. It crashed through the stairs, creating a gaping hole that led to the basement.

Coughing, barely able to see, she scanned the upstairs hallway. Another beam fell, the house burning far too quickly for this to be a normal fire.

The sirens were closer now, the response time too fast for the fire department across town. Someone must have called the cops. The crackling of the flames raged in her ears. She could hear nothing but the snaps and pops of the fire, see nothing but red and orange blurs. Hatred blistered through her, scorching away the last shreds of her self-preservation. She had to get to her mother, had to make sure, had to see for herself.

Her arms were blistered from the heat, and soot coated her skin like clothing. As the smoke filled her lungs, someone grabbed her arms and pulled her backward. She screamed, and the only words she could hear over the roaring fire were, “Mother! Find my mother!”

No one answered her.

The heat faded, and her screaming turned to coughing as she fought to breathe. Her eyes stung. She could barely think, barely form words. She fell, hands pressing into the soft, cool grass outside. The blades were like tiny pinpricks of ice against her burned skin as she struggled to draw in air. All she could see was the blistering sun, its golden rays blinding her.

She collapsed onto the grass, cheeks pressed against it as if it were a pillow. Unable to do anything else, she closed her eyes.

Deep in her core, she knew what she had seen.

Magic.

While it should have been mystical and whimsical, in reality it had brought her nothing but pain. Her father had died in her arms. She had heard her mother’s last scream. Her family had been murdered by a stranger, a phantom who looked for all the world like an elf.

Nothing in her old life mattered anymore. College, her dreams, her goals, the money she had saved to buy a car; they were someone else’s dreams, traded for a magic dagger that had horrifyingly fused with her body.

And now she had only one purpose: find that stranger, slit his throat, and watch him die. He would pay for what he had done to her, what he had done to her family. He would pay dearly.

She would see to it herself.

***

Luak watched the melee from a patch of forest not far from the girl’s still-burning house. He wanted the dagger her father had given her, and he wanted it badly. For now, he had to wait. There were too many witnesses. Even though he could kill everyone here, attacking her now would raise the wrong eyebrows.

For the moment he had to remain unseen, careful and strategic. When the opportunity arose, he would follow her and end what her parents had started.


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Read Chapter 2 next:  http://oriceran.com/glow-snippet-2/