Title: The Stone Awakened
Author: Judith Sterling
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents’ disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she’s determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.
Ashling could use a little help herself. She’s struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.
As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.
Later that night, I lay awake in bed, staring up at the shadowed canopy. Soft, lulling moonlight filtered in through the windows. In contrast, Deirdre’s snores pierced the room’s quiet. After a particularly boisterous snort, she rolled onto her side, and a hush fell over the bedroom.
A sudden awareness hit me. I had a visitor, one who watched from the far left corner of the room. The energy was masculine. Smooth, ravenous, and unmistakable.
Lying perfectly still, I shifted into the Otherworld. Then, with as casual an air as I could muster, I sat up and slid out of bed. It’s my turn to surprise you for a change.
In a flash, I teleported so I stood right in front of him. “What are you doing?”
He didn’t jump or flinch, but his eyes widened slightly. “I would’ve thought that was obvious. Watching you.”
I made a face. “Wow. Me battling insomnia. Gripping drama, for sure.”
“I came but a moment ago.”
His gaze held mine as he took a step closer. “You felt me, did you?”
“I guess I did.”
Slowly, a smile spread across his handsome face. His teeth seemed impossibly white, compared to his habitual black clothing. “I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”
“So you decided to spy on me?”
“Not spy. Visit.”
“I’d have to know you were coming to call it a visit. Otherwise, it’s just creepy.”
He sighed. The sound held a musical lilt, and something else: regret. “And that’s how you see me? A creep?”
A deep ache registered in my heart. As if by wounding him, I hurt myself. “Not exactly.”
You’re dangerous. Disturbing. Appealing in a way I never could’ve imagined…until now.
My name sounded sensuous on his tongue. “I don’t know how I see you.”
“I think you do.”
“And I think you should go.”
“Why? Because of Aengus?” There was an edge to his voice.
“Yes. He’s my boyfriend, and I—”
“You don’t want to betray him. I understand. But what about me?”
I frowned. “What about you?”
“Long ago, you betrayed me.”
I did? “Don’t blame me for things I can’t remember…if they’re even true.”
“Oh, they’re true.” He lifted my hand and turned it over. With the pad of his thumb, he caressed my palm. Leisurely, intimately, until the tender flesh tingled.
Stop him. Pull your hand away. Do it! Yet I let him continue.
Emotion swam in his ice blue eyes. “Your precious Aengus consumes your thoughts. He has claimed your regard and wants to keep it all for himself. But I am here, too. Don’t I deserve some portion of you?”
I swallowed hard and tried to ignore the motion of his thumb. “Portion? You make me sound like a meal.”
His only reply was a wolfish grin. My gaze seemed pinned to his full lips.
This is crazy! End it now.
I yanked my hand from his grasp and took two steps back. “You need to go.”
His grin lingered at the corners of his eyes. “Are you sure?”
“Positive.” For added emphasis, I turned away from him. “Good-bye.”
I shifted back into 3D and stalked to my bed. Just before climbing in, I stopped.
Lorcan’s energy wrapped around me, like a velvet cloak of persuasion, as soft as it was stubborn.
I steeled myself against it. “I said good-bye!”
Deirdre stirred, then sat up in bed. “Huh? What’s going on?”
The energy around me recoiled, then evaporated. “It’s okay.” I climbed under the bedcovers and sank back against my pillow. The comforting weight of the feather duvet settled over me.
“Are you sure? You were shouting.”