Lee, 28, is plagued by nightmares of battle; of monsters and strangers. Nightmares that leave her bruised and sore when she wakes. But also in the dreams, there is a man. And though she can't recall his face, he gives her comfort and laughter amidst the horror.
In her waking hours, over and over she digitally draws that which she remembers. The man. The land. A world that could have once been beautiful but has been left cold and barren. All the while she hears his voice- 'I'm getting tired of waiting, Lee. We need you.'
On the flip side of the Veil is Kalen Brenner, 31. His world has been infiltrated by demons that are now breeding. He leads a resistance in the battle against them but his once hopeful outlook has been shattered. His people have been reduced to savages.
While Lee's memory of her time with Kalen is naught but vague dreams, Kalen's memory spans a twenty year period. Since the night she passed food to him through the veil when he was a young boy/prisoner. For years she has come into his life sporadically, saving him, fighting with him and his army. When she is with them, she saves lives, gives hope and direction. But when she's gone, they are left to fight alone. And die alone.
And Kalen has had enough. He wants her -all of her- with him, by his side, putting an end to the war.
"What did you do yesterday?" he asked. Damn it, prove me wrong … prove me wrong! It would be so much easier if she was just some elusive witch from the mountains. From anywhere—so long as she lived on this world.
But he already knew the truth.
When she remained silent, he felt something inside him die. "You can't," he answered for her. "Because you don't remember."
Something broke open inside him and he lunged for her, drawing his blade from the sheath at his hip, grabbing her forearm. She shrieked and shoved at him, startled. He could feel the fire of her magick as she pressed her hands against his chest. One hand pressed against the dull sheen on his cavinir jacket that he hadn't zipped up. But the other landed on his chest, just a little off center. Above his heart. The heat of her power burned into his skin.
Gripping her left hand, he wrenched her palm away from his chest. He could smell the scorched stink of burned flesh as he pinned her arm down. Stony-eyed, he used the blade to slice a shallow mark into her arm. His heart bled as he heard her soft gasp of pain. "Explain that… when you wake in the morning. Explain your bruises away, however you will. But explain a knife cut."
Turning away from her, he stormed away. He felt a little sick in his gut for what he had done. He closed his eyes and fought the urge to scream and rail at her. It wouldn't do any good. She hadn't listened to him in all this time.
She wouldn't listen now.
"Leave, Lee. Leave and don't come back. We'll fight this war without you."
And if she kept coming back, he would end up doing something that would destroy them both.
I find in the writing of Shiloh Walker what was lacking for me in Vivian Arends - the ability to put the reader into the place of the character. Not that Arend isn't a great writer. She has talent and I enjoy her stories. But Walker has a gift. Hell, Shiloh Walker doesn't disappoint. I wanted devastation and desperation and HELLO, KALEN. All that and Alpha, too. I was only at the end of the first chapter (see the excerpt above) and my chest was tight, my eyes wet.
Yes, this one's gonna have multiple postings.