Chapter One

The Funeral

A wicked wind combed through my long hair, while the stars above me floated against a pale violet sky that had been just abandoned by an angry sun. The humid summer air was oblivious to my despair as I sat there half- paralyzed, reluctant to move, breathe, or even think. The smell of damp earth, freshly-cut lilies and chrysanthemums was strangely enticing and equally gruesome as it danced around the grave in front of me. I leaned against a fat oak and let its claw-like branches brush against my cheek in a consoling, almost motherly manner.

Unsure of how I had gotten to the point I was at, I was unaware if I should move one step forward or one step backward, so I did nothing at all. Certainly doing nothing was better than searching for answers that I wasn’t ready to hear or willing to understand; or was it?

After I had kissed Lucus good-bye the world had gone blank, as if someone or something had hit the reset button on the strange movie that was supposedly my life. Nothingness slowly transformed into an overpowering sense of dread and utter helplessness, and then without warning I found myself sitting in front of an unmarked grave in the corner of Darkwood cemetery. Around me, tombs swayed to a savage, ghostly rhythm that was all too familiar. Their strange shadows intertwined and surrounded me, tempting me to join them in their never-ending party.

Arelia LaRue, you’ve come to party with us, haven’t you?

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