Friend and author, Ciara Gold, has contributed to my "Spooky Tales" month by sharing an excerpt from one of her releases. The girl can write!!! You can check out more about Ciara on her website. In the meantime, please enjoy this 'edge of your seat' excerpt:
Leaves rustled, and a great flapping noise accompanied the flock of birds that took sudden flight. Upon entering the dense covering of oak and beech trees, she hadn’t given much thought to the lurking dangers. Her mind had been too occupied with escaping Erik and avoiding the dragon. Wolves howled in the distance, filling the forest with an eerie echo. Something slithered near her foot, causing her to jump back with a soft shriek. Maybe, this wasn’t such a good idea. As she careened into the tree at her back, a small flock of birds scattered. The farther she ventured into the unknown, the more frightened she became. With labored breath and a rapidly beating heart, Keelin leaned against the rough bark of a huge oak. She needed to gather her thoughts and relax. Her frenzied plan to escape from Erik was quickly going awry.
Calm down and breathe slowly. The screech of a hoot owl broke the silence and was quickly followed by a flight of birds. With a soft cry of despair, Keelin sank down with her back to a tree. She would just sit here and wait for Erik to find her. Suddenly, her fear of the forest had become more prevalent than her fear of Erik’s anger.
“Funny, I remember having the same thought with regard to the dragon and Erik. I’ve come full circle with my emotions this day,” she muttered to take her mind off her fright. But oh, how she wouldn’t mind if Erik were to find her at this moment.
For a brief time, she entertained the romantic idea of Erik falling in love with her. What would happen if they followed through with the prophecy? Could she marry without benefit of love? Could she make Erik love her? And if so, would the emotion be enough to surpass the many obstacles she envisioned? Marriage to Erik would be a commitment to a whole new way of life. Could she love the man enough to give up all she’d known for a life that was centuries in the past? Could he love her enough to make up for all that she would be giving up?
Her heart had settled to a more normal beat when she realized how still everything had become. Maybe her fears were unfounded after all. “Get a grip, Keely. You’re letting your imagination run away with you.”
On shaky limbs, she rose and decided to go on a little farther. If she did end up in the forest through the evening, she would need to find a clearing in which to set up some sort of camp. She had ventured out ill prepared to brave nature’s elements.
“You can do this. It’s just like camping.” She tried to console herself. A sudden image of her family camping in one of the National Forests brought about an intense pang of homesickness. She pushed the painful memory away. Now wasn’t the time to indulge in self-pity over all that she had been forced to leave behind. Staying alert and focused would see her through this new adventure unscathed.
She had only taken five steps when the cry ripped through the forest walls. It was a sound that caused her hair to stand on end and her eyes to widen. She knew that sound, would never forget the terror it brought. The dragon was in the forest, and by the sound of its awful, shrill voice, it was not that far away. Running would only alert the creature to her presence. She needed to hide, but where?
Glancing around, she found another large oak with heavy brush around its trunk. Wedging herself between the brush and the rough bark, she buried her head between her knees and covered her head with her hands. How did the beast maneuver in this dense forest with its large wings? It couldn’t fly amid all these trees, so that meant it was on the ground. Silently, she began to pray and lamented the absence of her rosary beads. She had no way to fight the demon creature. Her only hope was that Erik would find her before the dragon did. Despite her anger at Erik, she knew she’d been foolish to run. She had taken the coward’s way out, and now she was about to pay for her folly.
The ground trembled. A heavy branch broke nearby and fell to the ground with a crash. The dragon let out his mighty screech again, and Keelin bit her tongue to keep quiet. He was so close. She felt his nearness, sensed his deadly intent. And then it hit her: the dragon was stalking something, and she had the dismal feeling she was its target. She lifted her head from between her knees and froze. The dragon’s hot breath caressed her cheek as his long snout bent to sniff her body.
The dragon was upon her.