Book Cover: Shadow's Soul

Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

Published: June 20, 2011
Publisher: Black Opal Books
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Excerpt:

Blood dripped into her eyes. Raine McCord raised a hand to brush it away, smearing the warm wetness across her face. The world shimmered feverishly around her, sunlight glinting off the snow-draped forest. She stumbled over a fallen log. Pain screamed through tattered nerve endings and down her right leg before the overload caused it to go limp. Collapsing to her side, she tried to protect her right shoulder, which was singing its own chorus of agonies. With a groan, she used her left hand to push herself up to her knees.

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She knelt, head down, eyes closed, trying to breathe through the never-ending dizziness. She had to keep moving. Struggling to lift her heavy head, she forced her eyes open so she could focus on the ground ahead of her. You’re dead if you don’t move, Raine! her mind screamed. Faint whimpers and the sound of ragged breathing filled her ears as she dug her bloodied hands into the wet, cold dirt. Dead leaves and fallen twigs scraped against her tender palms. The chill from the patches of snow still clinging to the forest floor under the white barked trees barely made a dint in the pain.

Inadvertent sounds fell like whispers on the icy air as she pulled her battered body along the ground. Somewhere a branch cracked, jerking her attention behind her. Only drag marks denoted her path, looking as if they’d been made with scarlet paint. Forcing her attention forward, she blinked. Her vision wavered between gray and bright white. She aimed for the large, dark shape looming just out of reach.

Inch by agonizing inch, she made her way forward. The indistinct shape came into focus. It was the remains of a large tree, large enough to hide behind. Reaching the dubious protection, she managed to crawl behind it before her arms and knees gave out, sending her face first into the cold, wet earth. The winter forest was strangely silent. Each slow movement torture, she pulled her knees to her chest and curled into a ball.
Quiet. She had to be quiet. Stuffing her fist against her bruised lips, she muted the soft pain-filled noises coming from her abused throat. The rattling shivers from earlier had been replaced by a bone deep weariness. She might freeze to death, but she couldn’t find the strength to care. Closing her eyes, she let the swirling darkness and cold drag her under.

* * *

Her dreams included strangely soothing chants and curiously subdued drumming. It was a new experience. Generally, her nightmares involved cages, mad scientists, and monsters. At least the forest motif remained familiar. Rough edges dug into her spine. Trying not to be obvious, Raine reached behind her and found—tree bark? Slitting her eyes open, she was met with a curtain of dark, matted hair. Hazy light filtered through the strands. She rolled over. Her hair slid away to reveal a lattice work of branches above her with leaves dancing in the soft green light. Something was off. Something besides the fact that she was lying at the foot of a freaking huge tree. The towering branches swayed hypnotically. There was no wind. How did leaves dance without wind?

Gingerly she sat up, brushing her hair out of her face and snagged her hand on a twig. Pulling the tangled mass forward, she found crushed sticks and leaves snared in the inky strands. Flowing white sleeves fell back from her arms as she pushed the mess back.

White? Flowing? What the hell? She didn’t own a white, flowing anything. Jeans, leather, and steel, that’s what she was comfortable in. The crackling of dried leaves heralded the arrival of a new player. All thoughts of the weird clothing disappeared as she instinctively moved into a crouch, reaching for her weapons. A streak of panic hit when she found nothing.
All she could do was wait. It didn’t take long before a wolf emerged from the shifting shadows. Its amber gaze was strangely calm as it padded forward then sat, like a dog. Not once did its attention waver. No dog she knew had fur blending from white to gray to black. She slowly eased back until the great oak pressed against her spine, not once breaking eye contact with the waiting animal.

Unsure of where she was, she dropped the mental barrier she held for protection between herself and the everyday world. Her senses flared to life. Thanks to her Fey heritage she could feel the presence of the natural magic in the fauna around her, a steady ebb and flow of life. If she really wanted, she could dig a little deeper and paint that energy with a visible palette of colors. A recently discovered talent which had nothing to do with her bloodlines and everything to do with her time spent as a lab rat.

She reached for her magic, only to have it slip through her psychic fingers like mist. Startled, she tried again while the strange wolf continued to watch her. The result was frustratingly the same. “What the hell?” she muttered.

Feeling behind her she dug her physical fingers into the rough edges of the tree bark. That was definitely real. She eyed the wolf, possible options cascading through her mind. Escape or confront?

As if reading her mind, the wolf gave her a canine grin full of very pointed teeth. The taunt was clear.

She snorted. “Yeah right, Mr. Big Bad Wolf. Do I look like I’m wearing a little red hood?” She was surprised at how hoarse her voice was. Only one thing had ever made her throat this raw. Problem was she couldn’t remember anything requiring that much screaming.

“Red would not be your color, Raine,” a female voice mocked. Raine jerked her head up so fast everything did a slow, stomach- churning spin. Once her vision settled, she was able to refocus on her surroundings. Other than the wolf and the tree behind her, everything else was shrouded in shadows and mists.

“You need to come back.” A woman stepped out of the shadows. Moving to stand beside the wolf, she scratched behind one gray ear. The woman was tall, taller than Raine’s own five-foot-five frame by a good couple of inches. Various shades of blonde were drawn into a simple braid. Deep brown eyes sparkled with some inner amusement. “You can’t stay here.”

“I don’t know where here is.”

The blonde tilted her head in a strange bird-like manner. “Here is where you go to heal, to get away from the rest of the world. Think of it as your own personal garden of Eden.”

Raine couldn’t stop the snort of disbelief or the bitter twist of her mouth. “This is the first time my Eden doesn’t look like hell, so I’m not so sure this is all my doing.”

Impatience passed over the strong-boned face. “Regardless, you need to go back now.”

The snappy tone didn’t sit well with Raine. Rising from her crouch, she hid the shakiness of her legs with a sneer. “How am I supposed to get back?” This place set her teeth on edge and getting out of here was priority number one.

Frustration tightened the woman’s lips. “Don’t you know how to do this?” Her voice was sharp, impatient. “It’s your spirit you’ve trapped here. You have to make the decision to come back to yourself. If you don’t, you’re going to die.” Her braid slid over her shoulder when she crossed her arms. A flash of comprehension passed over her face. “Ah. Perhaps that’s what you want then?”

Raine found her hands clenching into fists at her sides. Her instincts were screaming that danger was barreling toward her. “If this is my Eden, who the hell are you?”

“Tala Whiteriver, and you, Raine McCord, are dying.” Tala’s voice was melodic, yet there was something in the undertones which sent shivers down Raine’s spine. The woman turned, her voice floating back to Raine. “Follow then, if you have the courage.”

The last was a challenge. Rising to its feet, the wolf stood, its tongue lolling out in obvious canine laughter. Tala’s figure disappeared into the thick surrounding shadows. The wolf began to follow his mistress into the haze.
Not one to ever back down, Raine stepped away from the sheltering tree. As she moved near the gray shifting shadows, the drums and chanting came back. At the edges of the glade, they became insistent, driving. A few more steps and she was in the mist of dark shadows.

They wrapped around her like ghosts, pulling her forward. A strange fear spiked deep in her bones. The flash of a tail up ahead was her only clue she was on the same path as Tala and the wolf. She tried to push the phantom mists away, but they held on, tighter than before. Obviously whatever this was, it didn’t want her to leave. She stopped her struggles and noticed the ghostly bindings began to fade as she moved forward.

“Try to keep up.” Tala’s voice drifted back to her. “There’s no woodcutter coming to save you.”

Raine’s teeth snapped together. She really disliked this woman.

Any sense of direction was compromised by the dense gray soup. Flashes of fur were Raine’s only clue she was facing forward. Time passed—she wasn’t sure how much. The fog grew lighter and the disturbing shadows dissipated. When the wolf disappeared between one blink and the next, she stepped up her pace and broke free of the shadows abruptly.

Light blinded her, while the chanting and drumbeats took up a resonant pulse in her bones.

“Show me how strong you are, warrior girl.” Tala’s whispered taunt cut through the chaos of noise and blinding glare of light.

A strong shove sent Raine stumbling forward. She was falling blind. Panic caused a metallic taste to coat her mouth. Blood rushed through her veins in time to the drumbeats. Colors became a dizzying kaleidoscope, while sonorous chanting infiltrated her mind like a thousand voices. As she drew a breath to scream, blinding pain hit. Every bone in her body shattered at once while acid replaced the blood in her veins. The chanting swelled until it swallowed her agonized screams, following her into the terrifying abyss.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:The Romance Reviews wrote:

“Jami Gray delivers another fantastic action-packed novel with SHADOW'S SOUL, book two in the Kyn Kronicles series. Carve out some time, sit down and buckle up because SHADOW'S SOUL will take you on a wild ride through the world of magic.”

Crystal, Amazon Review wrote:

“Words can't describe how much I love this series! It is so incredibly well-written that the world and the characters seem to come to life before your very eyes.”

Chrissie, Amazon Review wrote:

“Shadow's Soul is a great work of the Paranormal Romance genre. Jami Gray has no trouble weaving an enticing cast of characters and a whole different world…I will never look at shifters and witches the same way again.”

Jae Park, Goodreads Review wrote:

“The adventures of Raine McCord, as told in Shadow's Soul, are indeed riveting. Non-stop action from beginning to end as the job of protecting the head Magi of the Northwest leads her into a confrontation with a Soul Stealer as well as Chindis.”


Awards:

2012 Shooting Star Winner for Paranormal Romance