Happy Birthday Mark Halo (First Nova’s Love peak)

Hey it’s been a while! Life’s been throwing me a few curveballs but the only constant in my life is the little editing sessions with this book. I’m making good progress but I’m still going to have to set Nova’s Love back into 2023 despite my best efforts. That being said, the time off I’ve taken has included another trip to the Netherlands! I admit I’m getting the acronyms for my book and the country mixed up. But I once again attended Elfia, this time in Arcen and it was magical.

Getting back on track with the book, I’m still planning on doing the book trailer and all the art to accompany is beast, my self-editing pass will probably be done by the end of the year then it’s off to my editor sometime early 2023. Nova’s Love came out incredibly streamlined like Laevatein’s Choice, and it shouldn’t need too much of an overhaul. I’m feeling really good, just gotta save up for the professional edit.

Without Further ado! Here’s your sneak peak at The Shadows book 4, Nova’s Love. Now introducing: William!

Utterance so Decided

Mark felt another sharp pain hit him as he finally left the Realm and when he opened his eyes it subsided. He thought his back was going to ache but when he moved slightly, it didn’t. He just felt stiff from sleeping on his stomach. He pushed himself off the bed and sat up to find he didn’t feel quite so cold anymore. Maybe just his toes because he wasn’t wearing socks, a normal cold. And when he rose, his wings were gone.

He turned about on the bed and twisted. There were two gauze strips between the slits already cut into the back of this white shirt. In fact, he was more fascinated by the slits than the bandages. There were buttons on the lower back, and a flap that fell between the two wings so that the shirt could be easily slipped over his head. The shirt was made for him. On his jacket and shirts, he had just taken scissors to it so when his wings appeared they would slip through his clothes, but this shirt was dedicated to a winged person.

He finally got a chance to fully look around the room. Aside from the bed and the TV tray—which now had a scalpel set on it soaking in reddish water or alcohol. There was a sewing machine on the wall by Mark’s left. That answered his questions about the shirt. Aside from that on the far wall by the art piece there were three short filing cabinets. He should’ve expected those. William was obsessed with record keeping, there were probably more elsewhere.

He got to his feet easily, nothing hurt, he might’ve been a little numb still, but he wasn’t freezing. It was rather warm in fact. His hands weren’t wrapped up anymore, and even though he knew there were two cuts on his back, they weren’t… bad. They seemed precise, not an injury but an incision.

The door was wide open and he stepped out to a moderately large apartment with bright windows displaying they were dead-smack in the middle of Manhattan. The living room was a step recessed down from the rest of the open space, there was a small kitchen with an island, dining space off from that, two other bedrooms, and a huge, white grand piano. It was about the same size as his house, maybe a little smaller, but by city standards this place was huge, and probably expensive. He expected no less from the guy who had the funds to keep the ASH’s lights on.

Suddenly Timothy looked up from books all over the dining room table and he gasped. “William, he’s up.”

The old man came from around the fridge which just concealed him from view enough for Mark to be startled. “Oh good, how are you feeling?” William asked, drying his hands with a dish towel. Mark came two steps closer to see the kitchen. The man had been cooking. Mark only barely caught sight of the time up on the back of the stove. It was past noon.

“Better…” he grunted out, continuing to stare.

“Make yourself at home,” William returned to the stove, “lunch is almost ready.”

Mark’s eyes followed the line of the ceiling and he spied wide sky lights which meant this place was also on the top floor of the apartment building. The furniture was mostly white, except for a couple red and green accents and a silvery Christmas tree over by a glass door to a balcony. The decorations were few but there was a lot of care put into the space. He had to wonder if William was renting this place or if he owned it. For an ancient Shadow, it made sense for him to be insanely rich, he probably had a stack of medieval gold he was chipping away at.

William didn’t look seven hundred. He barely looked over sixty, maybe just five or ten years older than Keller.

Timothy looked up from his books, trying and failing to stay focused. Gulping, Mark decided to not stand stupidly in the middle of the flat, and he took a seat at the table. William said lunch, so it made sense to sit down. Timothy tapped his pencil against his paper, eager to speak but trying not to let William see he was distracted.

“What are you studying?” Mark asked, not entirely sure if this kid was a Shadow or not.

Excitement ripped across Timothy’s face and he looked to William as if he was disobeying instructions. William didn’t look over his shoulder from the pot he was stirring.

“Don’t look at me Tim, it’s your own responsibility when you get your school done.”

Mark drew his brows together and almost smirked, “I thought schools would be out already on break.”

Timothy nodded and pushed away his textbook, “William is homeschooling me, helping me catch up so I can get into university.”

Now Mark actually smirked, somehow amused, “You’re what, fourteen? And you’re thinking about college?”

Throwing down his pencil, Timothy shook his head and gave a bemused grin, “I’m twenty-one actually, my apparent age is all screwed up because of my Shadow.”

Mark’s shoulders dropped. The kid was older than him.

Timothy laughed, “I know, it’s a little shocking.” He dotted the end of a sentence in his notebook then closed it up. “William found me in the ASH, couple days after the Exodus, no memory, nothing about my Shadow, and he took me in. We’ve been trying to figure out who I am so we can find my family, but at this point I’m mostly focusing on getting out on my own. That’s why I want to go to university.”

“You’re an amnesiac?” Mark realized. Just like January, Timothy had no memory and his age was off. “Wait…” he tensed and turned to William, “You know my dad, January Halo, you know about his lost memories.”

“Yes,” William said calmly, covering up the pot to let it simmer and leaning against the oven, “And your father gave me strict instructions to keep his secrets, so don’t even bother asking.”

“What?” Mark gasped. Everything they didn’t know about January’s past was standing in the kitchen making soup! “You have to help him!”

“Right now I’m helping you, one problem at a time.” William brought over three bowls and set the table.

Timothy started to clear up his books, “And don’t worry about me, William’s the best at figuring out secrets.”

“So then what’s your Shadow?” Mark crossed his arms then slumped into the back of the seat. His cuts slammed into it and he winced regretting the motion.

Timothy stacked his books onto a little shelf by the window, “Holography,” he said, “I can duplicate myself, be in multiple places at once. It’s my second Shadow, actually, so it’s not super refined and I have to be all in one room, in sight of each of myself.”

That kind of language made Mark’s head spin, “Then what’s your first Shadow?”

“No idea,” Timothy dropped his pencil into a little drawer on the counter, “it’s dormant, I’m hoping my memories will come back when it comes out of hibernation or whatever.”

William finally came over with the huge pot of winter soup. “He’s also a D-Shadow and I gave him Holography, one of my Shadows, to neutralize the symptoms. The fact that his birth-Shadow hasn’t come back is also keeping his D-Shadow quiet.”

“So… I partly don’t want to figure out who I was, because that means dealing with the D-Shadow and facing my own mortality.” Timothy put in, going to grab a ladle for them.

Mark fell quiet and frowned, “Right… the life expectancy is twenty-years.” Kip had gotten a second Shadow to neutralize the D-Shadow, but he had to use it constantly, and Shadows often didn’t like their powers tampered with. Kip wasn’t even seventeen yet, but he was terrified of the projected life-expectancy with his illness.

William sat down at the head of the table, next to Mark and served a bowl for his guest first. “There are ways around it. There’s no cure for it, but I’ve seen D-Shadows live longer, much longer.”

“Like my dad,” Mark muttered. January’s version of the illness was completely dormant, and now Mark saw why William was reluctant to make any moves toward bringing January his memory back. Despite knowing who he was, where he was, and everything about him, William probably knew giving him his memories back would also bring back the D-Shadow.

The hot soup was set in front of Mark, a rich red broth with winter vegetables and kidney beans, bits of tender pasta and fresh herbs. Timothy dug in but Mark stared at William, nervous. This was all surprisingly wholesome, clean and kind. William’s main goal was to help Shadows and keep records of them, watching from a distance, not really intervening but when he did he fully took in those Shadows. That was Timothy’s place here, and that was probably the house January had grown up in as well. William’s desire to take in Shadows was what inspired the ASH.

THE SHADOWS is available on Kindle and Paperback!
Fire’s Hope | Laevatein’s Choice | Halo’s Rag Doll

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