Cover and Excerpt of The Sword

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The Sword will be available summer 2013.

The Sword

(The Box Series; Book Two)

A shoulder slams into mine. By the time I’ve spun around to face my attacker, I’ve already called enough magic to knock someone unconscious with a single touch. When I realise the person who hit me is a girl not much older than myself, I freeze in place. She mouths the word ‘sorry’ over the deafening music before bouncing off to rejoin her friends.

Only once she’s gone am I able to relax enough to release the spell. I have no idea how I managed to get so tense so quickly. Up until the moment she’d hit me, I’d been having fun. The music decent and I haven’t danced so much in way too long. Now I can’t even shuffle my feet.

Sin picks her way through the crowd, pausing to wiggle her fingers at a few people before stopping in front of me and handing me the bottle of water she’s carrying. In her other hand is a large mug of beer which she takes a gulp of.

“Isn’t this place the best?” She has to shout for me to hear her over the club’s noise.

She’s too consumed by the music to notice I don’t answer. She spins in a circle as the song changes without so much as a pause, and she throw one hand in the air, bouncing it up and down, matching the rhythm. Her chin length navy blue hair falls over her eyes, giving me a chance to take some deep breaths to calm down without her noticing.

It doesn’t help.

The crowd’s energy, fun only minutes ago is suddenly overwhelming. I glance down at my hand and the bottle I hold. The water swishes inside the container as my hand shakes from the burst of adrenaline still racing through me. The room seems to be shrinking and all of the dancers are moving in way too close. The lack of space is suffocating. I need to get out.

My attempt to show Sin I’m getting too hot by fanning myself goes unnoticed. A group of school friends she introduced me to earlier have grabbed her attention and her attention is fully on whatever is causing them all to laugh. They’d been friendly enough with me earlier, but now that I’ve stopped dancing, they don’t seem to remember I exist.

When the song shifts once more, the group gets really excited. They drag Sin in the direction of one of the speakers, leaving me to fend for myself. I watch them for a moment, debating whether or not I should follow. I wish I could shake whatever has gotten into me so I can go back to dancing. Instead, I turn around and head for the exit.

The room is packed with people. More shiny dresses and tight pants than I thought I’d see in my lifetime, all stuffed into the small space. And I know there are a ton more people in similar party wear outside, hoping to get in. I’m barely able to pick my way through the crowd. I’m concentrating so hard on where I want to go, I don’t notice him at first. As I squeeze between a group of girls dancing in a tight circle and a bunch of guys working up the nerve to approach them, my eyes drift across the room to him.

He meets my gaze for a second and then disappears behind the crowd. It was only a glimpse and yet there’s no doubt in my mind about who I’d seen.

Al.

Suddenly the uneasy feeling I’ve been dealing with makes sense. It’s been so long since I’ve felt the magic of a wizard, I hadn’t recognised the sensation.

I shift directions in order to follow him, and this time I’m less polite as I shove my way through the crowd. By the time I make it to the other side of the room, he’s nowhere to been found. There is, however, an ‘employee’s only’ door. When I check the handle, I notice not only is it not locked, but it’s also been tampered with by magic.

He’s gone this way.

I take a glance back to where Sin is still dancing with her friends. She hasn’t noticed I’m gone. And no one else has noticed me by the door. I slip out of the club’s main room and into an empty corridor. A glass emergency door leads out to a large black garbage bin. I can see the shadowy figure of a couple of people smoking, but they aren’t paying any attention to me. The only other exit is a wooden door at the far end of the hall with a graffiti covered ‘roof access’ sign next to it.

Now that I understand what I’m sensing, it’s easy to tell Al’s gone up the stairs. The trail of magic he left behind might as well have been arrows pointing the way.

Going after him is my only option. It’s been over a year since I last saw him and even now my entire body hums after only glimpse. And yet, I have no idea what to expect when I find him. He’s obviously running away from me for a reason. He could be trying to protect me by keeping a distance between us, or this could be his way of leading me into a trap.

I use my finger like a knife to cut the air next to my hip. A hole opens, allowing me access into a magic pocket I’d created a while ago. I find the hilt of my sword and draw it from the space.

I’d drawn the sword to help ease my nerves, but now it’s in my hand, I realise I’ve only made things worse. Practicing with a sword in protective gear is one thing. Using the weapon against a real person is something else entirely.

Every muscle in my body is tense, causing the walk up the stairs to be slow and mechanical. He’s up there, I can feel him even from this distance, or at least I think it’s him I sense. The patchwork of magic isn’t quite the same as what he stole from Stewart. It feels even more tainted, if that’s possible. The magic is fractured in so many pieces; I don’t understand how he’s able to keep it all together.

For a minute I think perhaps he hasn’t when I sense a chunk of the magic shift its position and moves away from the door. But then I understand what’s happening. There’s more than one wizard on the roof.

I’m walking into an ambush.

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