My first excerpt of the new year!
I’ll have an official blurb for you soon, but the Rift Guardian series is about what happens when the magical world and the real world collide – sexy shapeshifters, powerful sorcerers, and creatures of the dark galore. I can’t wait to share! Here’s the Prologue to get you going. Happy Reading!
The entire city of Chicago shook when the rift opened up. The glass and steel skyscrapers that made up the iconic skyline swayed, the El trains shuddered on their tracks, and a wave of lake water swamped Lakeshore Drive with enough force to shove the morning commuters into a massive, waterlogged pileup, like toy cars accidentally left on the beach to the mercy of the tides. Though there were few fatalities, the injuries were vast, and the city would take months to clean up the damage, years to sort out the insurance claims.
No one was thinking about paperwork that morning, however. After a puzzled ten seconds when the locals wondered if it was even possible to have an earthquake in Chicago, they looked up to the sky over the lake, and the mighty city came to a standstill.
The rift dwarfed the tallest Chicago skyscraper many times over, spread as wide as three city blocks, a glowing rip in space a half-mile from the lakeshore that disappeared into the clouds and plunged deep into Lake Michigan. Later, Coast Guard divers would discover that the rift went as far as the lake floor, as though the world itself were just a folded piece of wrapping paper, ripped down the center to show the secret beneath.
A tear in the sky was only the start.
Even from the lakefront, where anxious crowds gathered to view the terrifying phenomena as sirens blared and helicopters whomped closer, they could see what lay beyond the shimmering, golden slash over the blustery waters of the lake. Though it wasn’t visible, every good Chicagoan knew that somewhere far across the lake lay Michigan.
What they saw through the rift wasn’t Michigan.
The first thing they noticed was the water – another lake, a dark churning thing, alive with trails of green and purple phosphorescence and teeming with strange creatures that one would never find in a lake. They saw light gleaming on monstrous fins, shapes and sizes that were not of this Earth. Roughly half a mile beyond that, a sandy lakeshore.
And a city.
This city also towered over the lake, an impressive skyline against a flat landscape, but instead of glass and steel, a sprawling medieval metropolis of gray stone, gothic towers, and castles monopolized by a towering fortress looking down from what could only be described as a mountain. There were no mountains in Chicago, obviously. But in this strange mirror image of the city, there it was.
Boats were sent out, of course, by the dozens, to get a closer look at the rift and the strange world beyond, and that’s when the city got its second shock of the day. A pulse of light grabbed the Coast Guard and Chicago PD ships and lifted them from the water, then took hold of the whirling helicopters and held them frozen in midair for ten heartbeats, before dropping them.
Chicagoans scrambled back from the shore as another wave of water swamped them and the boats bobbed crazily in the water, half of them capsized, the heavy helicopters starting to sink. At the impending loss of life, people sprang into action. Anyone with a boat – fishermen, sailboat aficionados, trust fund yacht babies – turned their ships from the marina and raced for the site, all incredibly brave or incredibly stupid. Terrified, they edged close to the sinking vessels, but the rift stayed quiet, letting them approach to retrieve the injured and the dead.
But there were no dead. Eighty-eight people – crew, officers, and Federal agents – all asleep. Every weapon on every wreckage of every vessel melted into an unrecognizable puddle of metal.
In the absence of a leader, Janus Marek, a third generation fisherman and retired Navy, stepped up to take the reins and organize the rescue with his three sons, keeping a wary eye on the shimmering rift and the city beyond. The National Guard would be here soon enough – his job was to keep things moving and minimize loss of life. The eighty-eight were brought on board, wrapped in blankets, coats – anything handy to keep them warm – and ferried back to the waiting ambulances on shore in organized fashion. When the last of the rescues was clear, Janus ordered the remaining boats that had stayed behind to gawk out of the area.
And that’s when he saw it.
A man flying from the medieval city over the churning waters of the lake on massive wings of night sky black.