Dark Ghost (Drak #28)(4) read online by Christine Feehan
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Dark Ghost (Drak #28)(4)
Author: Christine Feehan

 

She spotted a depression in the low brush and thought it might be a good place to rest, even if it was only for a few minutes. Her leg needed it. She took several steps toward it and stopped dead in her tracks, her heart suddenly accelerating. There it was. Just like that. When she almost let everyone convince her she was crazy, she felt a strange fluttering along her veins, like a vibration.

 

Immediately she halted, allowing herself water while she absorbed the feeling. She needed to be able to tune her entire body to the vibration, until it was a song in her veins, rushing with her blood through her system. Her gift. The one she could never explain to anyone and not make it sound insane.

 

Elation swept through her. She hadn’t thought she’d find the trail so quickly, but somewhere ahead of her, the wonderful stone or crystal or gem she needed so desperately was waiting for her. She had to make a decision right now. If she followed the trail of the stone she sought, she would be risking Armend and his friends finding her. If she didn’t, she could lose this stone forever, and that meant losing her beloved grandmother.

 

Trixie Joanes had taken her and her three sisters into her home when Teagan was born. Her mother died in childbirth and not once had her grandmother ever blamed her for the death of her daughter. If anything, she had loved her all the more. She owed everything to her grandmother and loved her beyond anyone else in the world. Lately, her grandmother’s mind had begun slipping.

 

Her sisters were terrified she was drifting into a world of delusion and they kept taking her to psychiatrists. No one seemed able to help. Teagan had decided she had to do something herself, and that meant using her special gifts few wanted to know about. Talking about them put her in the same “insane” category as Trixie. Still, she knew what she could do with anything of the earth, minerals, gems, crystals, any type of rock. She knew the power each stone held and she was able to tune it to her, unlock that power and use it. Finding the right stone to help clear Trixie’s mind was essential. Teagan was willing to risk everything for her grandmother.

 

She changed direction immediately and doubled her pace, determined to put as much distance between Armend and herself while she followed the trail of rock or crystal her body had tuned itself to. Armend had never believed her that her body could actually find the trail of types of rock and crystal.

 

She’d told him, of course, one time during an all-nighter at the university. He’d wasted a few days partying as usual and she’d agreed to help him study for an exam. She’d been a little tired and sometimes that made her talk too much. He’d laughed at her, just like everyone did, so she didn’t bring it up again. Until now.

 

She felt like an idiot confiding in him, relaying her fears about her beloved grandmother, explaining why her quest was so important. She could understand him thinking she was crazy, but seriously, he was the crazy one. He was most likely a killer. A serial rapist. How was she going to explain that one to her grandmother and sisters?

 

She winced remembering his cold statement. “Pity fuck.” That was harsh. Mostly men ignored her. Well, okay. Not ignore; she had mostly male friends. But they always saw her as a friend. A little sister. Which was fine by her because she wasn’t attracted to anyone. Not male or female. She had no idea why, but she wasn’t.

 

Her sisters endlessly set her up, calling her and asking her over for dinner. Inevitably when she arrived, there would be a man – or a woman – one of her sisters had also just happened to invite, and of course she had to sit through dinner next to them and be hit on all evening.

 

But now, up in the mountains, all alone, without anyone around, she just had to get the attention of a man, and he turned out to be a killer. What was up with that? She sighed. She realized her legs were about to give out. The pain in her side now radiated up into her chest so her lungs burned for air. She had to rest, but fear drove her to keep going. She needed to find a place out of the way, somewhere she could lie down for a while.

 

She looked around, hoping to find a more hidden area to rest in, just in case she did fall asleep. She was exhausted, and the pain seemed to be worsening, although intellectually, she knew it hadn’t, she just wasn’t occupying her mind and keeping it at bay as well as she had been while she followed the trail. She had to pay attention to her body, to the strength of the song she heard in her veins. If she went too far in the wrong direction, the vibrations dulled. It took total concentration, which was a good thing to block out the pain, but she’d been traveling for a good part of the day and she had to stop.

 

Movement caught her eye. The trees were mostly gone up this high. Only a few straggly ones hung grimly on to life. While she’d been hiking, the mist had grown thicker and she hadn’t really noticed. Around her, the world seemed gray, alien even. The wind blew, so that the fog swirled in pinwheels, but it didn’t seem to go anywhere. Still, even with the sounds muffled, she had definitely spotted movement a few yards to her left.

 

She bit at her lip and nearly swore aloud. Instead, as she crouched low to keep from being spotted, she heaped curses silently on Armend’s head, wishing she was a witch and could consign him to a living hell. Maybe have fire ants crawling up his legs and biting the heck out of him everywhere, especially his manly parts. That might be nice.

 

It took a few minutes to realize it was no human being moving around in the brush, but an animal. No. More than one animal. Wolves? She knew there were all kinds of wildlife making homes in the mountain range. This was nearly the last refuge for larger predators.

 

She shrugged carefully out of her backpack, wanting to groan as the weight came off her back. Instead, she kept her eyes on the wide field of dense brush. She spotted movement in at least five different spots. Alarm grew. She hadn’t cleaned up and the scent of blood probably clung to her. She brushed her hand across her face and it came back smeared with blood.

 

Her lip actually hurt more than her head, which was silly since her face was swollen up like a balloon, but the pain in her lip made her sick. It didn’t help, either, that she had a habit of biting at her lower lip. The scrape of her teeth when she forgot was agony over the wound. She hadn’t looked at it, not even once, afraid maybe she needed stitches. Or worse, the asinine idiot had rabies or something. Sheesh. She should have hit Armend harder.

 

Another strange thing was she felt inexplicable sorrow. Not just that, but despair. Hopelessness. An agony of loneliness. She knew it wasn’t her own, but something carried in the mist. A song. A song of great sorrow, not just from one individual, but from many. The notes blended into the symphony of the mountain.

 

One of the animals moved out of the brush into the open. She stared at it, heart pounding. Mouth dry. She kept trying to make it into a wolf. Right size maybe. She could even think the shape was sort of right. But no way was that creature a wolf. It looked more like a sheep. Or a goat. Were there wild goats or wild sheep in the Carpathian Mountains?

 

The fog was very heavy and she hadn’t even noticed it had become that dense. The air felt damp, but she was grateful for the cover. There wasn’t as much foliage up this high and she didn’t want Armend or any of his friends to spot her moving up the very faint trail she followed. The animal moved again, a slow steady few steps, and her body sagged with relief. Clearly the Carpathian Mountains were home to wild sheep.

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