Excerpt from The Lustre, currently available through Amazon and Smashwords.
|The evening sun was warm on my face when I stepped out of the chilly, musty woods. The abrupt transition was disorienting because I was climbing up a winding, hilly trail in a heavily-wooded state park one minute, and the next I was standing at the edge of an orchard—apples from the heady smell. It topped the hill I had been climbing, wading into the lush green grass that grew high and overgrown all around.
As I stood catching my breath, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and heard a rustle. I turned just in time to see a flash of golden hair and a slender ankle disappear behind an immense tree at the edge of the woods to my left.
“Hello,” I called to the form, walking slowly in that direction. I reached the tree and peered around the other side, but no one was there. “Hello?” I called again. There was no sign of anyone around now. Then I heard a rustling above me.
On a branch above, too high for me to reach, stood a stunning girl. She was around seventeen, willowy and vibrant, with huge blue eyes and creamy skin. Her shining golden hair floated around her and her little wispy blue dress danced around her knees. I’m not sure if I imagined it, but it was almost as if she had a golden glow about her.
“Hey,” I called up to her, hungry for her attention. “Do you know where this place is?”
She stared with disapproval for a moment, and then said in a melodious but stern voice, “Didn’t you see the signs at the edge of the trail? You’re on private property. The park ended more than 500 feet that way.” She pointed a graceful finger into the woods. “Uh…” I stammered, struck by her beauty which changed from moment to moment like a rippling pool. “Sorry…”
“You should go now,” she warned.
“Oh…” I fumbled, buying time now so I could keep looking at her. “Uh…why?”
She shot me with a heartbreaking and gorgeous frown, and an exquisite flush of frustration bloomed on her cheek. “Lucci doesn’t tolerate intruders. He won’t show you any mercy.”
“Who’s Lucci?” I stalled some more.
She gave me another dazzling frown and shook her head in silence. Then she looked up with a flash of her eye and her whole face changed from distrust to anticipation, her succulent coral lips parted. “Here he comes,” she whispered. I could barely hear her, but her words sent a sudden shock of panic through me. Something was coming toward me—I could feel it. I almost dashed away right then, but I couldn’t leave without something.
“Please,” I stammered nervously, “what is your name?”
“Angelina,” she murmured, still gazing with those sapphire eyes down the grassy, tree-spotted hill toward the yet invisible Lucci. Whatever this Lucci was, it was awful enough for me to sense it in a way that was almost supernatural.
Now I ran. I had never felt any kind of instinct like it before, but terror raced in my veins and I know I ran faster than I had ever run. I didn’t stop till I got to my Jeep. I don’t even remember my flight except for the driving fear and the trees rushing past me. Once I was inside with the door locked and the engine running, I realized that I was gasping for breath so hard that I almost vomited. Tears were streaming out of my eyes—from wind or from fear? My nose had run and I had drooled all down my face and chin and I was soaked in sweat. Whatever Lucci was, he must be horrible. Still I vowed to find Angelina again. Was she a captive? She didn’t seem afraid of this Lucci, even though I was.
Yes, I must find her again.
I would find her, and I would record her story.