ABOUT THE BOOK
This novella serves as a stepping stone into the Soul Savers series as it enters a whole new era. You don’t need to have read the previous books to understand and enjoy this one.
As matriarch of Earth’s Angels, Alexis Knight is charged with leading the world to recover and rebuild after being ravaged by human and supernatural wars. So far, the challenge hasn’t been too difficult as most of Earth’s inhabitants remain in underground bunkers. Alexis’s own community, The Loft, is in trouble. Their water source is drying up, so she and her elite team go to the surface to find a new one. But in a surprise attack by a new kind of legendary creature, Alexis loses her memory of who and what she is.
While her team scrambles to find the antidote to the black magic affecting her mind, Alexis makes new plans of her own. Until her memory returns, though, her abilities as a leader are questioned, especially when an outside group arrives to initiate a coup against her and her team.
BUY THE BOOK
A SNEAK PEAK
Whispered voices filter through the watery realm of semiconsciousness and grow louder the closer I rise to the surface. Anxiety fills their muffled tones, both male and female. My body shakes, and sharp points dig into my back. The side of my face suddenly lights up with a sting.
“Tell me you did not just slap her,” a male voice accuses.
“She needs to wake the hell up.” The female reply sounds like music, even in its harshness.
“Vanessa, you can’t go around slapping our matriarch,” another woman’s voice reprimands.
The first one huffs. “She’ll get over it and then probably slap me back.”
As my fingers brush over my cheek, I try to open my eyes. My lids feel heavy and scratchy, but I manage a slit. Sunlight glares, and they shut again on their own. With a few flutters against the light, I finally focus on the scene before me. Or rather, above me. I’m lying on the ground with three faces hovering over me—two females and a male—and behind them gleams the sun through an entanglement of bare tree branches.
Where am I? What happened?
“See? It worked,” says the musical voice. My gaze finds her stunning face with skin nearly as white as her hair that’s pulled back into a tight ponytail. Her light blue eyes, however, are like ice daggers as they glower at me. But they fail to pierce through the fog in my mind. “Come on, your highness. Enough of the dramatics. Get up. We need to get out of here.”
A pale hand wraps around my upper arm before I can move, and I flinch.
“Vanessa,” the other female admonishes again, her brown hair hanging around her face as she looks down at me. Her breath plumes in a thin fog as she speaks. She places a long, thin hand over the first and pulls it away. “Give her a minute. She passed out.”
“We don’t have a minute,” Vanessa growls. “And she’s fine now.”
“Sheree’s right,” the guy says. Worry etches three lines between his sapphire eyes as he studies me. He rubs his chin covered with thick scruff, which is a slightly darker hue than the straw-colored hair sticking out from under his knit cap. “She looks out of it. Alexis, are you okay? It’s me, Owen. Can you see me?”
I blink, frown, and try to sit up. My vision wavers, and I close my eyes for a moment, pressing my fingers to my lids. What the hell has happened to me? I slowly open them again. Everyone’s stepped back to give me space, but their gazes remain heavily on me. I swallow, or try to. My throat feels like sandpaper. I lick my lips, tasting the slightly bitter odor hanging in the air, but the effort is pointless, my tongue as dry as my throat.
“Thirsty,” I manage to croak out.
“Aren’t we all,” someone else mutters.
My perspective shifts outward to find two other men beyond the circle around me, both dressed in thick parkas, knit hats, and gloves. They’re armed with a crossbow and a gun that they keep in ready position as they each make a slow circle, watching the woods surrounding the clearing where we’re gathered. The trees are half brown and half gray, with a few withered leaves fluttering from some of the branches as though hanging on even in death. Most branches, however, are bare. Something about them seems odd, as though the limbs aren’t naked only because of the time of year, but for another reason. I can’t pinpoint what I feel like I should know through my hazy mind. Off to my left, the surface of a large lake glitters in the sun, the far shore barely visible in the distance. I gnaw on my lip. I have no idea where I am.
“What happened?” I ask as I rise to my feet.
Vanessa’s hand darts out to help me, her touch cold as ice. I withdraw my arm from her hold as soon as I’m standing and take a step back. Her eyes narrow as they visually assess my condition, the look in them causing a shiver down my spine.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Sheree’s upper body leans toward me, and her head tilts. Her brown-eyed gaze never leaves my face, looking down at me from her much taller height. She has to be nearly six feet tall, her body rail thin and all legs in her cutoff denim shorts. A thick belt cinches the waist, a long knife hanging from it. She probably has another in one of her combat boots. Weapons hang from all kinds of places on everyone in the group, including me.
I press my fingers to my aching temples and rub circles into them. “No, not really.”
“Awesome,” Owen mutters as his long leg kicks a small rock across the clearing. “It’s gotta be dark magic messing with your head, too deep for me to reach.”
“This is your fault,” Vanessa snaps at him. “I can’t believe you let her drink the water.”
He rolls his eyes as his hands drop to his hips. “It’s not like I didn’t try to stop her. Besides, you know how she is. She does what she wants. If she wants to test the water herself before anyone else does, she’s gonna do it.”
“God forbid anyone else take a risk.” Vanessa’s voice changes to a higher pitch, mocking. “They might die, so I better do it instead.”
Owen snorts, and the other guys in the group chuckle.
Sheree frowns. “Hey, be nice. That’s who she is. She wouldn’t ask anyone to do what she won’t do herself. That’s why she’s here. Right, Alexis?”
My brow furrows as they all stare at me again, and I rub the back of my neck. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Of course you don’t,” Vanessa quips. “Come on. Let’s get the hell out of here before more of those little needle things start flying again. Whatever the hell they are.”
“We need to get these water samples back ASAP,” Owen agrees.
Sheree glances at me sideways. “Looking at Alexis, I’m not so sure about that water.”
Owen lifts a brow and holds his hands up, wiggling his fingers. “Do you doubt my magical abilities, woman? It’ll be as pristine as newly fallen snow by the time I’m done with it.”
The guy with the crossbow chuffs. “I don’t think newly fallen snow is so clean anymore. It was blue last time.”
“And purple the time before that,” the other guy adds.
Vanessa gives an impatient flick of her hand as she settles her gaze on Owen. “Are you going to make a portal or what?”
“What about our search for the others?” Sheree asks. “Are we giving up on them?”
Everyone turns and looks at me expectantly. I stare back at them, not understanding what they want. My thoughts bounce all over the place from trying to follow their conversation.
Vanessa sighs and shakes her head. “Let’s get the hell going.”
She strides out of the clearing and into the woods as though everyone would automatically follow, and pretty much everyone does. All but Owen and me. Sheree looks over her shoulder at me and stops.
“Aren’t you coming?”
I shake my head. Is she crazy?
“Do you want to portal back then?” she asks.
When I don’t answer, Sheree and Owen exchange a look. The others stop their movement into the woods.
“Damn water.” Owen gestures toward the lake. “What the heck did it do to you?”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“I thought I hit the bottle out of your hand, but you dropped to the ground like a stone, lights out for a good two minutes. And now look at you. You’re all whacked out.”
“Whacked out?” I echo.
“Disoriented.” Sheree joins us back in the clearing. “Right? That’s how you feel?”
I squeeze the back of my neck again as I glance around. “That’s one word for it.”
“Hopefully, that’s all it’s done to you, and there’s no other damage,” Sheree says. “Does everything else feel okay?”
I look down at my black boots, leather-clad legs, and torso barely covered in a tight-fitting tank top. A dagger hangs from a belt on my right hip, and a knife is strapped to my left leg. Everything seems to be in order. No pains or aches anywhere but in my brain. “Yeah, I think so. It’s just my head.”
Owen shifts his weight. “I tried to pull the black magic out of you when you went down, but there’s apparently something I can’t reach alone. Let’s get you home, and Blossom can help figure this out.”
“Home . . .” I can’t picture home. My mind comes up completely blank.
“You know, The Loft?” Sheree says. “Where Tristan and the babies are, and the rest of our people?”
“The place we’ve called home for over a year now.” Vanessa returns to the clearing, too. Annoyance crosses her face when I show no recognition. “You know, since that day Lucas and the Demons pretty much destroyed the world with their nuclear and magic bombs?”
My gaze swings to the trees. That’s what I’d noticed to be wrong with them—many of them lack any color at all, even what remains of the leaves. Barely a trace of orange or even brown. I squint my eyes as I look out at the lake and the surrounding land. Lots of gray out there, too. Not all of it, however, as though color has slowly seeped into the landscape. Winter colors, though, except for some scattered specks of pink and yellow on the ground and tree trunks. Is that some kind of pollen? In the middle of winter?
Owen moves his hand closer to my back, a familiar yet hands-off gesture to move along. “Come on. We’ll get you all fixed up, and the whole hellish story will come back to you.”
My muscles stiffen, though, as a small stick, like a miniature arrow or a long needle, whizzes by my nose. A poof of colored dust trails behind it, although none of it lands on us, as if we’re each encased in an invisible bubble. Several more needles sail through the air around us.
“There they are again! What the fuck are they?” Vanessa takes off, running in the direction the sticks had come from.
Owen, however, somehow swoops me into his thickly muscled arms before I know what’s happening and sprints the opposite way.
“What the hell are you doing?” I yell and kick and squirm, the rough wool of his sweater scraping against my bare skin.
“I need to get you home.”
“The hell you are. Put me down!”
“I’m not fighting you on this. Tristan will—”
“I said to put me down!” With a burst of energy, I spring free from his arms.
At the same time, a ripping sound comes from behind me, large, dark shapes explode from my back, and I sail into the air, high out of Owen’s reach. I look over my shoulder and gasp. Purple and black wings spread out to span nearly five feet from each side of me. Although somewhere in the back of my mind I must have known they were there—that they’re a part of me—their unexpected appearance takes me by surprise.
“Come on, Alexis,” Owen growls as I hang in the air above him. “That’s not fair.”
He lifts his palm up toward me as though it’s some kind of threat. With a mere thought, the wings bat against the air, and I rise higher until I hit the tree branches and careen back to the ground. I barely adjust my legs in time to land in a crouch.
Owen steps toward me.
“Stay back,” I warn.
“Then pull yourself together and let’s go,” he counters.
“I’m not going anywhere with you!”
Owen takes another step closer. I draw the dagger from the sheath on my hip. I bend my knees, coiling my muscles, and hold the blade between us.
“Leave me alone!”
He moves to take another step, and I twitch the blade. His deep-blue eyes narrow.
“Alexis . . .”
I rock forward on the balls of my feet.
“Seriously?” He lifts a blond brow. “I’m not going to fight you.”
I glare at him, dagger still out, and then my gaze bounces to the others who’ve come up behind him. They all look at me like I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have. But they also carefully watch me as though I’m a wild animal. And that’s okay. If I scare them enough, they’ll leave me alone and go back to their so-called home. As if anyone has a home anymore.
“I lost them, whatever they are.” Vanessa runs back over, so fast her body’s nearly a blur. “They must have flashed because they disappeared. Come on. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
When she stops, she glances at everyone, her eyes landing on me while I brandish a weapon at her companions. She blows out an annoyed huff.
“Enough of this. We’re taking you home.”
I don’t see her move, but she instantly has an arm braced around me like a steel bar locking me against her body. She carries me through the woods at an unnatural speed, the trees blurring by us. I thrash against her and dig the tip of the dagger across her forearm. She doesn’t even flinch, and the wound closes up right away. I kick her shins and throw an elbow into her ribs. Her hold loosens. I seize the opportunity and twist free, landing on my feet, dagger pointed at her. She stops in her tracks, and everyone else does, too, as they approach from behind her.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” I snarl once again. “Who the hell do you think you are to expect me to? I don’t know where I am or who I am, and I certainly don’t know any of you!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristie Cook is a lifelong, award-winning writer in various genres, from marketing communications to fantasy fiction. She continues to write the Soul Savers Series, a New Adult paranormal romance/contemporary fantasy, with the first five books, Promise, Purpose, Devotion, Power, and Wrath available now. She’s also written a companion novella, Genesis: A Soul Savers Novella, currently available. Over 300,000 Soul Savers books have been sold, with Promise peaking at #54 on the Amazon Top 100 Paid list and at #1 in the Amazon Fantasy category.
She has also written The Book of Phoenix trilogy, a New Adult paranormal romance series that includes The Space Between, The Space Beyond, and The Space Within. The full trilogy is available now.
Besides writing, Kristie enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, and riding on the back of a motorcycle. She has lived in ten states, but currently calls Southwest Florida home with her husband, three sons, a beagle and a puggle. She is represented by Italia Gandolfo at Gandolfo Helin Literary Management.