The dark rising, p.1
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       The Dark Rising, p.1
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           Lacey Weatherford
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The Dark Rising


  Praise for Lacey Weatherford’s

  The Dark Rising

  “Wow! What a trip this book was … a roller coaster ride of emotions, The Dark Rising turns out to be Vance and Portia's biggest challenge yet. There are so many twists and turns in this book, you will not be able to put in down! I'm not sure how much longer I can wait until I read the final book in this series!”

  —Tishia Mackey, Paranormal Opinion

  "Dark and deadly dangerous. This fourth installment in the fantastic Of Witches and Warlocks series is filled with love and passion and loyalty, even as Vance and Portia fight against the evil that threatens to destroy everything and everyone they love. But this time, will their intense love for each other be enough to overcome? Twists and turns abound, leading to a completely unexpected conclusion. I just couldn't put it down!"

  —Kim Deister, The Caffeinated Diva

  “Once again, Lacey Weatherford has demonstrated her ability to craft a magnificent tale that is dark and dangerous, but filled with love and hope. Of Witches and Warlocks continues with The Dark Rising and Wow! You are not ready for this one! Hold on for the ride of your life as Portia and Vance continue to battle the darkness. Will their love be enough? Wonderfully written. Couldn't put it down!”

  —Beverly Sharp, The Wormhole Book Blog

  “Lacey Weatherford cast a spell on me ever since she penned The Trouble With Spells, making me a huge fan of Portia and Vance. The Dark Rising is about recovery, recollection and reconnection. There is heartbreak, hope, action, and blindsiding twists to satisfy any reader, but it is Weatherford's signature style of being such an unabashedly romantic that has me firmly attached and invested in these characters. When I begin a story by Lacey I know I will be entertained and mesmerized, but I will also feel incredibly strong emotions for her characters. That's the sign of a great writer. Thank you, Lacey. Now can I have the next book, please?”

  —Laurie Treacy, Reader Girls Reviews

  "You can't help but fall in love with all the characters. There is this raw vitality in them that just appeals to us all! Lacey makes my belief in soulmates stronger, no matter how fictional the book may be. This epic journey is sure to leave you breathless and wondering when you decided to sit on this roller coaster of emotions!"

  —Sana Noor from Breathing Books

  http://www.laceyweatherfordbooks.com

  The Dark Rising is also available in print.

  Of Witches and Warlocks

  The Dark Rising

  Book 4

  By

  Lacey Weatherford

  Copyright © 2011 by Lacey Weatherford

  Published in the United States

  Moonstruck Media

  Kindle Edition

  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  Dedication

  For Connie and Belinda. Without the two of you, this story would have never existed. Thank you for always being a voice of reason in my life.

  Acknowledgements

  There are always so many people to thank when a new book comes out!

  First off, I would love to give a shout out to my team of beta readers. They’re a great group of gals and guys who have been with me from the start. Their opinions have been invaluable to me.

  A special thank you to my fabulous mother-in-law, Connie, who has always been so supportive of me. She helped me out when I had major writer’s block and got this story moving on its way again! And to Belinda, who has not only been my best friend and massive supporter, but also read this story straight off the bat when we met and honestly told me where it needed a little bit of pick me up. You’re the reason this book will be successful!

  I would also like to thank those reviewers who jumped at the chance to do early reviews of this book. Your kind and prompt responses where very appreciated.

  And to the excited readers who have so diligently gone about spreading the word around the world. You all are awesome! Thanks so much for loving the story!

  Last, but not least, to the lovely group of ladies at 4 Corners Press who have worked so hard to make this a reality, Thank You! It’s my pleasure to name you among friends as well as business associates! You’re fantastic!

  Sincerely,

  Lacey Weatherford

  Prologue

  A lifetime of things happened to me in the eleven months since I turned sixteen, some of which I believed to be wholly impossible.

  The memories of this entire year passed through my mind now, as if on fast forward, in one unbelievable second.

  I saw the first day I noticed Vance Mangum watching me, our first kiss, and the moment he declared his undying love for me. Images of our wedding and the many times he held me so close and intimately in his arms swirled around in my head.

  All of this, on top of receiving the news I was actually a witch descended from a long line of witches and warlocks, made for one unimaginable year. As if the family secret wasn't enough, much to my astonishment, I discovered Vance was a warlock too … a very powerful one.

  I didn’t know then the appearance of Vance in my life would so completely turn things upside down. While our relationship was filled with many moments which were like a dream come true, most of our time together was tangled up in an ever threatening web of lies and deceit. Some of those deceptions nearly cost us our lives—eventually, one did cost Vance his.

  That's what brought us to this moment tonight, when I realized with an aching heart …Vance had changed.

  Chapter One

  “What do you mean, who am I?” I stuttered, staring in disbelief at the face of my nineteen year old husband as I attempted to comprehend him.

  His demon looking eyes glowed red as his hard expression moved over me.

  “Who are you?” he asked again, his grip on my arms growing painful.

  “I'm your wife!” I exclaimed, trying to remove myself from his tightening grasp.

  “You're ... what?” he questioned me, a puzzled look flashing over his face. He released me. Taking a step backward, he moved out of the moonlight and into the shadows behind him. Only his mistrustful crimson eyes remained visible.

  “Vance, what’s going on?” I asked and I gestured between him and the grave he stood next to—one that until recently he occupied.

  He looked at me hesitantly. “Vance? Is that my name?” he spoke, his voice quiet in the darkness.

  My heart pounded loudly at his reply. Was he joking? He didn’t know his own name? “You honestly don’t remember anything?” I moved into the shadow next to him trying to see him better. “What's the last memory you have?” I added, fear shooting through me.

  The silence was deafening for a moment, before he answered. “I woke up in complete darkness, feeling like I couldn't breathe because the air was so thin. I realized I was in a casket and I needed to get out. I pushed hard up against the lid, but it didn't budge.” He paused and lifted his hands to stare at them, his face growing reflective. “It seems weird now ... somehow I managed to heat up the surface and it melted the whole top. The dirt fell in on me and I clawed up th
rough the soil until I was able to climb out. Then I saw you,” he said, his gaze returning to me.

  “So you don’t remember anything about your life prior to your death?” I noticed my knees trembling beneath me.

  His eyes never left me as he slowly shook his head. “I was dead? You're sure?” he asked in low tones as if he was afraid to believe it. I could only manage to nod in reply. He swallowed hard and flicked his stare back toward the grave he'd been in. “It doesn’t make sense.” He glanced about himself. “I mean, I know how to speak and what things are. I just don’t know … who I am.”

  My mind raced as I tried to think of a reasonable explanation for what was going on. It was obvious something happened to him. I assumed the Awakening was responsible. It must have reversed his death—taking a long time to work since he’d been nearly dead when he had received it.

  He doesn’t remember me. The thought raced through and pierced me to the soul.

  “Do you think you can trust me?” I asked, my calm tone belying the frantic feelings coursing inside of me. “I know some things about you which might help you out.”

  He darted a glance around the cemetery before he replied. “Well, you're the only one here, so I suppose I can give you a shot,” he said, his gaze settling back on me.

  I placed a hand on my chest, wondering if he noticed it trembling. “My name is Portia Mangum.” I paused, hoping it would jog his memory, but there was no reaction from him. “Yours is Vance Mangum. The two of us were married about seven months ago,” I added, feeling as though my heart was caught in a vise that was getting tighter by the second.

  “You seem awfully young for that,” he replied, the skepticism showing on his face.

  “I am,” I answered him honestly. “I’ll be seventeen next month.”

  “How old am I?” he asked.

  “You turned nineteen in April.”

  “Why would we get married so young?” He looked me over from head to toe, his eyes pausing at my mid-section and the baggy shirt of his I was wearing, before traveling back up to stare at me pointedly.

  “Well, that’s where the story gets a little more complicated,” I replied. I quickly tried to figure out the best way to approach the subject.

  “Just tell it to me straight. I don’t need you to sugar coat things for me.”

  “All right, you remember how you told me you melted the lid off the casket?” I asked and he nodded. “Well, you're magical. Actually, you're a warlock and I'm a witch.”

  I didn't need to be able to read his mind to know he thought I'd gone completely crazy.

  “You're joking, right?” For a hint of a second, I saw a flash of his old sardonic grin, and my heart did little flip flops at the sight.

  “I’m not, and I'll prove it to you,” I said, stepping even closer to him so close I could feel the heat coming from his body.

  He really was alive.

  “May I touch your hand?” I asked, holding mine out toward him in a relaxed gesture.

  He paused, staring at me with narrowed eyes as though he were trying to decide if I was just messing with him. He raised his hand to mine and I wondered if he felt the same spark I did when we touched.

  I wrapped my hands around his, pushing until he had it balled up into a fist. I held it for a moment while I looked up to search his eyes. He stared back at me, unmoving, so I continued on.

  “Okay, I need you to concentrate. Take all the emotions you've got running through your body right now, and center them together. When you feel like you have control over them, start to focus those energies into your palm, while you’re thinking of the word—fire. Whenever you're ready, open your hand.”

  I stepped back, dropping my hands to my sides.

  He looked at me like I was crazy, but he closed his eyes and after taking a deep breath, he thrust his fingers open quickly.

  A rolling wave of heat permeated the air with a blast and I fell to the ground just as a gigantic pillar of fire shot up from his extended palm. Instinctively, I raised an arm up over my face, trying to protect myself from the high temperature radiating from him. It was clear the Awakening had strengthened his powers astronomically.

  He stared at it in shock, at first, before a stealthy smile spread over his face. He began to twist his arm this way and that, playing with the fire he held so much control over. I watched him in amazement while he moved the inferno back and forth, creating a giant arc between his hands as if he were manipulating a blazing slinky. He continued to move the controlled blaze until he had two pillars of fire twisting into different kinds of patterns. He was smiling fully when he allowed the flames to dance up his arms to his shoulders. I found it interesting none of his clothing combusted with the intense heat. His magic must have encompassed whatever he's wearing. I continued to watch as he moved with both grace and control, mesmerized by his ability, until he finally remembered I was still here.

  The fire went out immediately, leaving us in the dark once again. My eyes struggled to adjust to the abrupt change in light when suddenly a flame the size of a cigarette lighter appeared in the air, dancing on the top of his finger which he held out between us.

  “I believe you,” he said matter-of-factly, looking straight at me. His eyes turned to look at the glowing fire. “Was I always this way?”

  “Not at this level of expertise.” Shaking my head, I climbed back to my feet.

  “What do you mean?” he asked.

  “Well, you've always been powerful,” I explained. “But right before you died, you received a special power called the Awakening. It’s strengthened your powers far beyond what they were previously.”

  “So, what's this Awakening thing and why'd I get it?” He seemed truly curious about everything I was telling him.

  I sighed. My explanations were getting all jumbled up.

  “Well, it's hard for me to tell you without starting from the beginning. Suffice to say, it's a paranormal gift which you and I are both the recipients of. It's responsible for the significant strengthening of our powers, as well as making us immortal.”

  “Immortal? As in, neither of us can die?” he responded and he lifted an eyebrow at me.

  “Basically, that's the case, at least not for several hundred years anyway if you take the prophecy at face value. We haven't exactly had time to test things out,” I said with a shrug, wondering if he too thought I sounded like a moron.

  “But didn’t you just say I was dead?” he asked, giving a slight jerk of his head back toward the opened grave he had recently occupied.

  “Yes,” I replied. “You were near death when you received the Awakening. I’m guessing as your body died the Awakening kept working to restore you—bringing you to immortal status. It apparently took a while to happen.”

  He thought this over for a moment. “Okay,” he said, nodding slightly. “I kind of get that. What I don’t understand is how any of this stuff explains the marriage thing.”

  I sighed and I tried to think of something to tell him that would make sense.

  “We were going abroad to search for your missing mother, Krista Mangum,” I paused again for any sign of recognition, but not even a flicker passed. “My parents didn’t want us to go away together for that long, being in a situation where we might be tempted to do things we shouldn’t.”

  “So they had us get married?” The skepticism returned to his face.

  “Well, we were actually already engaged and planning on getting married in September. It was a matter of moving up the date a few months,” I replied trying to sound nonchalant, as if this whole conversation wasn’t making me extremely nervous.

  His glance moved over me before he spoke.

  “So you're saying we'd never been intimate before then?” he asked me point blank.

  “No, we hadn’t. And that was your idea, not mine.” I told him.

  “My idea?” he laughed, and his gazed raked across me again. I could plainly see the disbelief written on his face. “Now that is hard for me to
believe.”

  I felt the blush creeping over me, my body reacting instantly to him.

  “Well, it’s true,” I said, turning away from him, trying to cover my physical response to his appraisal.

  He surprised me when he reached out, grabbing my arm and yanking me back to face him.

  “And what about after this so-called marriage?” he asked, staring into my eyes with a searching gaze.

  “What do you mean?” I swallowed thickly, trembling at his rough touch.

  “You know what I mean,” he replied. “What was this physical relationship like after the marriage?”

  It hurt my heart that he didn’t remember, and pinched even more because I could tell he was trying to mock me. He didn’t believe me and it made me a little angry with him.

  I brazenly took a step toward him, so our bodies were nearly touching. “It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced in my life,” I answered, throwing it back in his face. Something changed in his look and he released me, stepping away, but he continued his hard stare.

  “I’m not that person anymore,” he said bluntly.

  “Yes, you are. You just don’t remember,” I replied indignantly, the tears welled up in my eyes.

  He moved angrily toward me until he was right up next to my face. “Look … Portia, was it? I don’t know you or your life, and I certainly don’t care about it. Why should I? For all I know you could be some silly little girl out to take advantage of the situation, trying to fulfill some strange fantasy. What proof do you have that any of this is true?”

  “How about this?” I said, lifting my hand up and shoving it into his face to show him my wedding ring. “If you will check your hand you'll see the mate to this set. If that isn’t enough proof then feel free to take it off and have a good look at where our names are inscribed together on the inside. And the tuxedo you're wearing? You wore it to our wedding. I have the pictures to prove it, if you would care to see them.”

 
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