Chapter One
The girl with the face tattoo was scared of me.

I repeat: a girl with a tattoo on her face was frightened of me, a skinny sixteen year old walking home from the library with a drink from Starbucks.

This would have never happened if I hadn’t chosen to cut through the park. It wasn’t even a shortcut — it didn’t get me home any quicker at all — and my sister, Faye, definitely would have disapproved if she’d known I liked to do it. Especially on evenings like this, evenings where time had gotten away from me and I’d stayed out too late. The sun was almost completely down, the last rays of light dying in the sky, and I was going to have to hustle if I wanted to make it home before my curfew.

But it wasn’t so late that my mere presence should have made someone uncomfortable.

The girl was older than me, with brown hair and a white dress that seemed just a little too fancy for a walk in the park. Her face tattoo was plain and minimalistic, located just under her right eye. It consisted of two white lines, running horizontal and parallel with one another, only about an inch long each. It was like a symbol of sorts, maybe some kind of rune? Did it mean something? Or did she just think it looked cool?

I might have asked under normal circumstances. There was definitely nothing normal about the way that she was looking at me, though.

We were in a part of the park that saw less traffic than the rest — a small clearing that was used sometimes for community bake sales or performances similar to Shakespeare in the Park. When it wasn’t being used for stuff like that, it was kind of dead. It wasn’t like there were benches or a playground or a single water fountain in this part of the park, so it didn’t have the same draw that the rest of the place did.

Which was precisely why I liked it. It was quiet and peaceful. Walking through this part of the park always felt like a treat, like I could take just a brief respite from my normal life and not have to pay attention to anything but the nature around me.
I’d been doing it for at least a year by now, and nothing like this had ever happened.

The girl stood somewhat off the trail, as though she were waiting for someone. As I approached — humming to myself and sipping my Frappuccino in a completely non-threatening way, might I add? — she turned, caught sight of me, and she just freaked.

Her eyes went wide and frantic. She blanched. I watched the blood drain from her face, like all of the color in her fair skin was being erased in Photoshop or something.

And then she ran towards me. She charged at full speed, moving impossibly fast.

I had no time to react. I didn’t even have time to think about how to react.

I tensed, expecting her to barrel into me like a football player, take me to the ground, and possibly break a few bones on the way down. Instead, she grabbed me by the crook of my arm. Her fingers bit into my skin hard enough to bruise. I cried out a little, but it was more in shock than in pain.

“You need to leave.”
 
 
 
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Stoneheart
Gargoyles of Craven, Book One
Released: December 10, 2018
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