Home > Taken (Enchanted Gods #3)

Taken (Enchanted Gods #3)
Author: K.K. Allen

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

 

 

Copyright © 2021 by K.K. Allen

Cover Design: Emily Wittig Designs

Editing / Proofreading: Red Adept Editing

 

 

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

 

 

Contact [email protected] with questions.

 

 

For everyone who read the original Summer Solstice series and came back for more. This is for you!

 

 

His borrowed body stands before me, eyes wearing the evil glimmer that has haunted my dreams for the past two years. And now he knows he’s won with the only threat that could bring me to my knees. The words have been spoken, and there is no turning back.

I reach for the latch of the protective locket pressed tightly to my wrist, and I watch Erebus, in his serpent form, slither out from the remains of a body that just crumpled to the ground in a heap of skin and bones, no bloodshed. That is how the God of Darkness kills the ones he possesses—by slowly and deliberately sucking the life from them.

He eyes me greedily, waiting, as the air around him glows a faint but unmistakable gold.

It’s time.

I pause for a moment, feeling the gold chain that holds my locket safe beneath my fingertips. There’s no other way. With a final inhale, I unclasp the chain and let it fall to the ground as a single tear draws a solid wet line down my cheek.

In a swift moment, the cold air of death embraces me. Although I don’t have the physical strength to fight it, my last vestiges of life scream, claw, and kick as the darkness engulfs me.

 

 

Amid an unexpected life, our virtue stands threatened by Erebus, the God of Darkness. Ever since the dreadful carnival nearly a year and a half ago, his essence moves through our thoughts like passing clouds, hovering at a safe distance yet always present. We’ve become accustomed to the anticipation and fear of the squall that could rip through our community at any moment, but that doesn’t make any of this easier.

I would like to say I’m now prepared for what’s to come, but how does one defeat eternal life? Defeating him is the only way to eradicate the dark cloud suspended above our community. The constant unease of what he could do to those we love takes precedence over the lives we’re meant to live.

Never have I felt so weak—weak with uncertainty and loss from so much death. So many innocent lives are gone, all for nothing. All for power.

Winter in Apollo Beach brings a slight chill to the air, but it’s nothing like the winter wonderland I’ve always dreamed of. Tonight, though, I’ll get the next best thing.

I’m currently in my bedroom, sitting in front of my vanity mirror, getting ready for a special night to celebrate the winter solstice, a special day for Enchanters, and especially for Solstice descendants like me. But while Rose and Charlotte will be with the majority of the Enchanted community at Summer Garden Theater to celebrate, I’ll be with my peers next door at the School of Gaia for an Arctic Winter Masquerade Ball.

Arctic winter in Florida. It’s almost laughable when I think about it. Then again, the point of tonight’s festivities is to give us all a much-deserved escape—a reprieve from the dark undertones of Erebus’s inevitable return. And while we’ve shied away from gatherings as large as the two we’re having tonight, we’ve learned that not every event brings danger.

Since the horrific carnival, crime rates in Apollo Beach have gone down significantly. In fact, the Elders have escalated their mission to protect the town again by using the same recipe created by my grandfather died. Apparently, we only have so much of the special concoction required to protect larger landmarks, like Summer Island. And to make more, we’re in need of one missing ingredient.

Energy from the descendant of Poseidon.

Of course Johnny is the missing ingredient to keep everyone safe. And of course no one has talked to him since he left.

So far, only Enchanters’ homes and several landmarks around town have been protected, but there are plans to start on Summer Island soon. Apparently, applying that kind of energy isn’t something that one Enchanter can do in a day. It takes months, maybe even years, to cover the ground we need to protect the city.

After one last glimpse at my reflection, I stand and straighten my silver strapless dress. It’s a fitted number that hugs my body like an elegant glove, and the sequin embellishments remind of a disco ball, reflecting light from every angle. I step into a matching pair of stilettos and silently thank my supernatural abilities that are surely responsible for keeping my balance.

It’s hard to envision the sad, insecure girl I was when I first came to town. My life has taken on a whole new meaning since then. It’s filled with responsibility that no one should be forced to manage. The knowledge of who I am and the history that comes along with it is a burden as much as a blessing.

“I’m done!” A flushed Charlotte dances into my room, carrying her latest fashion masterpiece. Her excitement is infectious, and when I glance down at the object in her hands, I see why.

I take the exquisite masquerade mask and examine it. “Oh, Charlotte! It’s beautiful,” I gush. What Charlotte can do goes beyond magic. She’s an artist.

The glittery gray mask is etched with defined precision, with eye slits just narrow enough to provide some mystery. Winglike feathers decorate the upper corners, and two long curved pieces shaped like antlers fan out from the center.

“It’s a butterfly!” she says, when I’m not quick to vocalize the subtle resemblance.

My smile grows wider. “I see that. Thank you, Charlotte. I love it.”

Charlotte places her hands on my waist and turns me to face the mirror while slipping the mask over my eyes. She lifts the top half of my hair, pulls the black elastic string around from each side, and ties it in place before letting my hair fall back down. She looks in the mirror at my reflection and gasps. “Oh, my…” Her eyes are glistening. “You are exquisite.”

Her reaction creates a heaviness in my chest, and I quickly unfasten the mask. “Don’t start with that, Charlotte. You’re going to make me cry too.” I laugh through my discomfort. “You’ll ruin my makeup.”

“I’m sorry.” She swipes at the mist beneath her eyes. “Come. Let’s get you downstairs. They’re waiting for you.”

“They?” I’m confused. Are my friends here already? I didn’t hear the doorbell chime.

“Your father stopped by, hoping to see you off.” Worry flashes across her face as if she thinks I might not be accepting of his presence. “He’s downstairs with Rose.”

Ever since my father arrived at the doorstep of Summer Manor, our relationship has been emotionally complicated, filled with heartfelt, yet awkward conversation as we try to fill in all the blanks of our pasts. The important thing, as Rose continues to remind me, is that we’re both trying. Still, I’ll never forget that day he showed up at Summer Manor.

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