Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Magic Quest Books
Date of Publication: June 7, 2018
Number of pages: 233
Word Count: 81,550
Cover Artist: Jennifer Zemanek/Seedlings LLC
Tagline: What would you do to find your magic?
Lost and bewildered after being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, seventeen-year-old Melissa wants nothing more than to curl up with her pain. But then she’s summoned by the headmaster of Gray Cliffs Academy and finds herself on the roof in the middle of a wild and tumultuous storm. Before she realizes what is happening, a vicious wind sends her flying through the darkness and she lands in the frozen north. It is then she discovers the true meaning of feeling lost. Though full of mystery and magic, there is something sinister about this strange new world…
All Melissa wants is to return home, but first she must learn the rules of this strange new reality and how they will help her in her quest before it’s too late and she’s stuck in this place forever…
She stared at it for a long moment, then ran her fingers over the bright ring to see if it would change. Maybe a genie would appear to help her out, but nothing happened. It was pretty but useless. She glared around her and yelled, “Pretty doesn’t cut it, guys. What am I supposed to do with this thing?”
A voice whispered through her head, “You know what to do with it.”
She froze, her breath caught her in her throat. “Who said that?” She spun around, but no one was here. “Show yourself!”
“Don’t go crazy on me now, Melissa,” she said to herself. She bowed her head and struggled to get her thoughts together. The school taught meditation classes to help deal with the stress of exams and being away from their families—or the stress of going home to families.
She didn’t have much of a family life, but she didn’t let anyone know that. She never let anyone know how her quest for a happy home life bothered her. Since Luke moved on without her, she’d been more than lost...and more aloof. The two of them had been an item, and for her, he’d been the only one. Except she hadn’t heard from him since his graduation. It was horrible.
Every day she kept expecting to see him, expecting to hear from him.
And never did.
That abandonment had been complete, surgically quick, and without explanation. Even now she felt the loss whispering through her soul. If he was out there, would he know what happened to her? Would he care? So many things in her life she wished she could change. He was the one bright light that kept her going, and she had no idea what she did to make him cut her out of his life like that—to hate her so much.
Despite Luke’s silent departure, she loved being at the school—knowing she belonged to something special, that she made it into something so much more than she thought she deserved, that an exciting future was out there for her.
And none of that helped her right now. She sat with a thud. And pulled her knees to her chest, burrowing her face in her arms. She wouldn’t last much longer. Not in these temperatures.
Still, she was alive and that surprised her. This cold was brutal. She could still feel her fingers and her toes. As she pondered that, she wondered, as cold as she was… she wasn’t numb. Hypothermia hadn’t set in. She wasn’t dying… at least not yet.
Hearing a tiny scratching sound beside her, she leaned over and scooped away some of the snow. A small arctic mouse stared at her, its nose twitching as if figuring out what she was.
With a delighted gasp, she whispered, “Hey, little one. Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
In an odd movement, it stretched up, its huge eyes studying her.
She chuckled, afraid to move too fast and scare it off. As it was the only animal she’d seen, and it was alive, she welcomed his presence.
He wasn’t terrified of her and clambered over the snow to see her closer.
She lowered her hand to the side so he could sniff her. Her smile widened at the sight of his whiskers going crazy, but the mouse kept getting closer.
“Are you hungry?” she asked instinctively. Yet, she didn’t think she had any food in her pockets. She turned her pockets out, looking for something, but found nothing edible, not even a mouse-size snack.
Terrified of scaring the little one away, she continued to talk to him in a low, crooning voice. She’d never get this close to a mouse in her world. She was surprised to see this guy in such an inhospitable place as this. “How do you survive, buddy?”
The little she knew about mice said they burrowed under the snow all winter. With her luck, she’d sat on his tunnels and collapsed them.
The mouse stretched out a paw and placed it on her finger. She caught her breath and waited.
A second paw landed beside the first. She grinned when the mouse hopped up on her hand, totally unconcerned she might be a danger to him.
Too bad no one witnessed this. She was too scared to pull out her cell phone for a quick photo in case she disturbed the little guy.
“I’m going to call you Winter,” she whispered.
The mouse didn’t seem to mind. He sniffed her jacket, then wandered up her arm.
She stared, transfixed. For all the shittiness of her situation, this little guy was a light in her otherwise dark world.
Still, if the mouse was here, maybe someone else was here too. But, if she yelled right now, the mouse might take off.
She closed her eyes and whispered, “Anyone there?”
And got the shock of her life.
A voice inside her head said, “I’ve always been here.”
She struggled to recognize the voice. She thought the speaker was male, but the words were distorted and distant, so she couldn’t be sure. She kept an eye on the mouse sitting on her sleeve. He worked his way up to her shoulder, his nose and whiskers wrinkled at every step. She had to admit she wondered if the mouse had talked. “Who are you?”
“Somebody who loves you very much.” The voice spoke inside her head again.
Her mind struggled to identify the speaker who had no trouble making such a bald-faced lie. With the cold her thoughts were sluggish, her mind fogging up. Surely that voice was her imagination. No one cared about her—she wasn’t sure anyone ever had. “Can you get me out of here?” she asked hopefully. “Help me go home?”
Silence was her answer.
She frowned. “Is this a trick?”
The voice was sad, heavy. “No, it’s not a trick. I’m sorry to see you so distrusting.”
“How can I not be? Look where I am. I have no idea how this came to pass or who did this to me.” She shook her head, momentarily forgetting about the mouse. “Am I really here, in the middle of some kind of winter wonderland, all alone?”
“I don’t even have a proper coat for this weather. Am I going to die here?” Melissa asked, wiping the tears burning the corners of her eyes. “Can’t you help me?”
“I’m not even supposed to be talking to you.”
“Why are you then?” she asked in frustration, more tears burning, clogging her throat. “It’s despicable to torture me like this.”
“I tried to talk to you many times, but a wall was always between us. Right now the wall is thin, like crepe paper,” the voice said in exasperation. “So I tried again. This time I got through.”
“Can you tell me who you are?”
The voice paused, then said in a low tone, “No, I can’t.”
“Then what can you tell me?” she asked, trying not to cry. But the wind and cold were stealing her spirit. Until she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. The mouse had crawled up to her shoulder, where it settled down in the crook of her neck. She couldn’t see it tucked in there, but she could feel it. Her spirit warmed from the inside, along with her heart.
“I’m allowed to tell you that you have to get back on your own. Time is running out. A clock started ticking from the moment you landed. Your life force is also disappearing.”
Her head jerked up at that. “What do you mean, my life force? Like my health? Do I have a disease? Have I been shot or something? What are you talking about?”
“Talisman? Is that what this is? I wondered. It’s my school pin but…different. Somehow it transformed on whatever weird trip I took to this place,” she said, slowly trying to figure this out. She stared at the talisman in her hand. “Is that what the ring of lights on the outside means?”
“Yes. When those run out, you will not have enough energy to get back again.”
“So it is possible to get back again?” Her mind locked on to the one thing she could handle.
“Yes, definitely. That’s what this is all about. You’re on a quest to learn what you can do, what talents you might have, but you have to start moving fast.”
Instantly, she scrambled to her feet, only to freeze at the startled squeak from her new friend. She reached up a hand to stroke the mouse gently, amazed it was still here with her. It was a least used to the terrain whereas she was starting to shake violently as the wind whipped her face and body. Hunched against the cold, and trying to move carefully, she took several steps forward. Her mind caught on two words. Quest? Talents? “I’m happy to move. Just tell me where to go.”
Frustrated and angry, and terrified she would lose the voice in her head, she rushed to say, “Can you tell me whether to go up or down?”
“I have to go now. I’ll try to contact you later.”
“Wait,” Melissa cried out, “Can you give me a hint? Something? I’ll freeze to death soon.” Even as the words leave her mouth, her teeth start to chatter.
Just as the voice disappeared from her mind, it let out a sigh and whispered, “Think of a portal.” And then the voice was gone.
About the Author:
Blair Drake believes in magic, especially the magic of stories with fantasy, adventures, romance, action, and surprises. She has loved writing and living in the stories of the Finding Magic series and is so excited to share the quests of the Gray Cliffs Academy students with her readers.
When she’s not writing about magic, she’s reading about it. Her influences are Cassandra Claire, Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, Garth Nix, and many more.
In the mortal plane, following the lure of magic has drawn Blair into strange and wonderful adventures from Australia to New York City, with many stops in between. She currently lives near Denver. Her very favorite spot is a red loveseat in her office, frequently shared with two cats, an outnumbered Dalmation, and occasionally her bewitched husband.
She might have gone to a school similar to Gray Cliffs Academy and would love to go through a magic portal. In the meantime, she’s creating her own in more books of magic.