A Time To Kill (Elemental Rage Book 1)

BOOK: A Time To Kill (Elemental Rage Book 1)
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Elemental
Rage

Book 1: A
Time to Kill

 

 

           

Copyright July 30,
2016 Jeanette Raleigh

 

All rights reserved. Written permission from the author must
be secured to use or reproduce any part of this book except for brief excerpts
to provide critical review or articles.

 

 

The characters and settings in this book are fictitious. Any
resemblance to real persons or locations is coincidental.

 

 

 

Also Available by
Jeanette Raleigh

 

Elemental Rage Series:

Book 1: A Time to Kill

Book 2: A Time to Die Coming Soon

 

When, Were, & Howl: The Collection (Books 1 - 5)

When, Were, & Howl: Book 1 Moon Struck

When, Were, & Howl: Book 2 Vampires Bite

When, Were, & Howl: Book 3 A Tryst of Fate

When, Were, & Howl: Book 4 A Grave Awakening

When, Were, & Howl : Book 5 Werewolf Wedding

When, Were, & Howl: Book 6 Fate's Dark Glass

When, Were, & Howl: Book 7 Fortune’s Deadly Gaze

 

Dark Visions (Book 1): First Love

Dark Visions (Book 2): Lost Love

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

~~ Jade ~~

 

Jade Gray gasped
as she sat up in bed, startled awake. An owl called in the distance, and she
heard movement in the yard. Was it just outside the window or further away?

The overwhelming
feeling that something was watching her haunted her. She shivered and rubbed
her arms. A cool breeze lifted the edge of the yellow curtain. With a chill
born more from fear than cold, Jade stumbled to the window and slammed it shut. 
She felt…something.

Across the room her
sister, Raven, grumbled and rolled over, jamming her pillow over her head. 
Jade muttered an apology.  For a moment she had forgotten Raven’s existence in
her haste to shut out the night. Heart racing, Jade took a deep breath.  The
clock read three in the morning. Way too early to be awake.

A tiny corner of
Jade’s mind itched to lift the curtain, to look outside and sigh in relief when
she discovered that the yard was empty. Somehow, she knew it wasn’t. Someone
hovered in the night watching, waiting.

A scream pierced
the night.  Jade jumped, an involuntary response.  She rushed out of the room
she shared with Raven. Her mom met her in the hallway, and together they raced
to Mindy and Claire’s room.

Mindy sobbed and
ran for her hiding place.  Jade opened the door as Claire turned on the light. 
Jade stepped into the room just as Mindy slid the closet door closed, her cries
now muffled.

Before Jade could
ask, her mom said, “What happened?”

Claire gathered up
her pillow and the top blanket from her bed. She said, “Don’t ask me. Mindy
freaked out and started screaming.  Now the bedroom smells like pee. I’m
sleeping on the couch. She’s just lucky its summer and I can sleep in.”

 Their mother, Amy
Gray, was a middle-aged woman who hadn’t gone all the way to matronly.  She was
thick around the middle, but not fat. A few grey hairs nestled in her black
hair, and her forehead carried worry lines. She tilted her head toward the
closet and said to Jade, “If you could calm Mindy down, I’ll get her bed changed.”

“Sure thing,” Jade
slid down the closet door wall, leaning her back against the door knowing that
Mindy was just on the other side, crying. She knocked lightly, “Hey, Cricket,
have a bad dream?”

“No,” Mindy
stopped crying.  She was quiet now, almost calm. Jade always had that effect on
her.

“What happened?”
Jade asked.  She yawned, her eyes watering.

“Shadow. Void.
Darkness.” Mindy said and started crying again.

Jade took a deep
breath and slowly let it out. Melinda Gray, or Mindy to her sisters, was seven
years old and small for her age.  Where the other girls picked up reading and
math right away, Mindy was different.  Sometimes she’d stare at the wall and
start laughing, ignoring her family. There were no friends to ignore. Mindy
couldn’t or wouldn’t make them.  

The teachers said
she was a special needs pupil. The doctors didn’t know what to think. Her scans
showed a high degree of activity where they had expected to find less. 
Nonetheless, she spoke slowly in broken thoughts and emotionally clung to Jade.
Not their mom. Not Raven. Not Claire.  Always Jade. 

Jade understood
why. Mindy’s birth came on the heels of their dad’s death.  Jade was ten at the
time. Her mom had been in shock, and Jade formed a strong bond with Mindy in
the aftermath.

“Cricket? You know
you’re safe with me, right?” Jade asked. This wasn’t her first night sitting on
the floor outside Mindy’s closet, waiting for her sister to settle down.

“I know,” Mindy
said quietly. She pushed the closet door open a little. She asked, “Are they
gone?”

 “I’m sure they
are,” Jade said and held her arms out.

Mindy crawled out
of the closet and wrapped her arms around Jade’s neck. Jade winced a little
when she felt the wetness from Mindy’s accident soak through her nightshirt. Mindy
said, “Void. Dark.”

“See? The lights
are on now.  Let’s you get you changed,” Jade glanced at the clock. How could
it already be four?  She had to get up in an hour to shower and dress for her
job at the diner. She worked the early shift from five to one-thirty. With a
sigh, she carried Mindy to the dresser.

“Sorry,” Mindy’s
lower lip trembled and tears filled her eyes.

Jade felt an
instant’s guilt. Mindy was so sensitive to her emotions. Jade kissed the side
of her head, “Shh…we’ll have you settled in no time. Let’s get some clothes and
then go to the bathroom to wash up.”

Her mother was
just finishing with the pillow cases.  She smiled at Jade. “Thanks for your
help.”

“It’s no problem.”
Jade helped Mindy wash up and get into fresh pajamas. She tucked her in.

“Story?” Mindy
asked hopefully.

“I’ll tell you a
story. Jade, why don’t you get another hour of sleep,” her mom said.

“I’m wide awake,”
Jade couldn’t stop thinking about her own fear.  She wondered if she was
channeling Mindy’s nightmares…or maybe there was something real out there, a
terror that woke both sisters. She hesitated, “Mom, shall I make some tea and
maybe we can have a talk after you’re done?”

“Go ahead. I’ll be
right there.”

Jade yawned as she
stepped into the hall. She made a quick stop to grab change into a clean shirt.
Lights were on all over the house.  Claire had dragged her blanket and pillow
into the living room and was flipping through channels.  Jade didn’t bother
saying anything. She and Claire weren’t close. They tolerated each other at
best.

Filling up the
electric tea kettle, Jade plugged it in and pushed down the switch. The blue
light told her the kettle was warming up. She selected the “World’s Best Mom”
cup for her mother and a Bergsma frog cup for herself. She yawned harder and
tears flooded her eyes.

Standing in front
of the sink, Jade looked out the window into the darkness. She didn’t even know
what she was looking for. The yard backed up to the forest, and Jade watched
every shadow. She hated that the window didn’t have blinds or curtains to shut out
the world. They lived in the middle of nowhere, but just at this moment, those
curtains were needed.

“Jade?” Her mother
stepped into the kitchen. It was a good thing Jade had set the cups down or
they would be shattering against the linoleum.

“You scared me!”
The spell of the night outside broken, Jade could finally turn her back on the
window. She grabbed the tea kettle and filled the cups, then added a teaspoon
of sugar and just a touch of milk.

Her mom laughed. 
The sound was rare these days. Jade remembered her mom’s laughter ringing in
the house back when Dad was alive.

“Sorry, Honey.
Let’s talk.” Before sitting down, she told Claire to pick a station and settle
down. Claire was flipping quickly through the channels, barely allowing a scene
to appear before moving on.

Jade settled into
her chair at the dining room table. Now that she was finally going to say it
out loud, her stomach flip-flopped. She waited until her mom slid into her
chair.

“Claire and Raven
both have the gift. Claire with Water, Raven with Air. Dad said I would know
when I got older.  Well, I’m older, and nothing has happened,” Jade hadn’t
meant to speak so bluntly. She’d been avoiding the topic for a long time, three
years to be exact.

“I thought you were
okay with not having power? What brought this on?” Amy sipped her tea, but Jade
could almost feel the tension quivering in her shoulders.

“Today, I thought
I felt something stirring, and I thought maybe that was how the power came.
Mom, I woke up scared and I think I am somehow catching Mindy’s thoughts. 
Maybe I’m like her. Everyone in the family can do something except me. Well, me
and Mindy.” Jade shrugged, “What do I do if I’m not an Elemental?”

“You are, though.
Whether you manifest power or not,” her mom said. It was just another version
of a story Jade had heard from childhood. Raven had actually flown at five
years old, manifested a tornado at six. Dad had made such a huge deal about it.
Jade remembered the deep seeds of jealousy planted in her heart that day. She
tried not to let them gain ground, tried to keep that pain buried deep where it
wouldn’t hurt Raven or Claire, but Jade was frustrated and angry…and jealous. 
Raven didn’t do the Air Elemental thing anymore, not much anyway. It still hurt.

“Mom. Please…”
Jade felt the hurt rise in her heart. She couldn’t take another talk about her
shortcomings, not after the night she’d had.  Glancing over at the television
and Claire sprawled out on the couch, Jade couldn’t help but feel the anger and
jealousy again.  Raven and Claire got the best of mom and dad.  The looks, the
power.  Jade got a biggish nose and strong jaw, and nothing of the universe. No
Earth. No Fire. No Water. And sure as heck no Air.

“What do you want
me to say?” Amy Gray asked the question in earnest. With Lawrence dead, she
felt like she’d been treading water in a raging river and heading for a
waterfall. Her babies were young women now, and she was as confused as they
about what to expect. Her husband’s killer wanted something from the Elementals,
from her family, from her babies. Years ago after Lawrence’s death, she took
the life insurance money and fled from the city to a small town in the middle
of nowhere. Using her Aunt Bertha’s name on the mortgage, Amy did everything she
could to hide.

Now she watched
her daughter and wondered if it had been enough.  Who would protect Jade if
none of the gifts of the universe settled on her shoulders?  It was hard enough
scrabbling away from the enemy
when you have  
power.

“Just tell me it
comes with age. Tell me I’ll have some sort of gift!” Jade pleaded desperately.
When Claire, listening in on the conversation, snorted, Jade clenched her jaw and
bit her lip to keep from saying something to Claire that she would regret.

“When you were
born, I felt the universe move through you. That’s all I can say. I don’t know
how it works, only that some of us touch the universe and others don’t. Aunt
Juliet never manifested power, and yet she lived a long and happy life,” Amy
trailed off, thinking of Bertha alone in Denver sorting out her sister’s
affairs.  Bertha always knew the right thing to say to the girls, even if they
didn’t want to hear it.

Jade sighed and
stood, “I guess I’d better get ready for work.”

Amy said, “I need
to make a few deliveries today. Lunch at eleven? I’ll make egg salad.”

“Sure.” Jade couldn’t
help the hate that sickened her heart when Claire snickered from the couch.

She was grateful
when Mom said, “That’s enough from you young lady. Turn that television off
this instant. There’s enough cruelty in the world. I won’t have my daughters
turning on each other.”

Claire whispered,
just loud enough for Jade to hear as she walked by, “Are you sure she
is
your daughter?”

Jade rushed to the
bathroom in anguish, because she
had
wondered before if she was a
natural daughter to Lawrence and Amy Gray. Claire and Raven always joked that
Jade was a changeling or adopted. Her three sisters had raven hair and green
eyes. Jade’s hair was red and her eyes amber. She was gawky and gangly. Claire’s
whispered words rolled again in her mind. She turned the water on and stepped
into the shower, tears washing her cheeks even as the water skimmed along her
shoulders.

Water. Claire.  It
annoyed Jade that she was right now standing in Claire’s element. She shampooed
her hair at super speed and quickly washed, grabbing her towel to dry off in
the shower.

She hugged her mom
on her way out the door.  Claire pretended to be asleep on the couch. Jade knew
her sister would blame her for the end of her morning television, even if it
was Claire’s own big mouth that got her punished.

Jade hopped into
Bertha’s car, grateful for her great aunt’s generosity in sharing her car. It
was a twenty minute drive into town. The woods along the edge of their property
shadowed the driveway, creating sinister shapes in the near-dawn light. Jade
shivered as she passed through the darkest of the shadows, her car lights
steady against the road. She could swear that someone was standing among the
trees.  She drove slower, trying to make out the shadows.  Her shoulders tensed
when a shadow seemed to separate from a tree, but then she had driven by.

Looking in the
rear-view mirror, she tried to see what it was…whether someone was watching the
house. She could swear there was someone out there.

 

BOOK: A Time To Kill (Elemental Rage Book 1)
7.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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