EXCERPT FROM DISCERN (Book 1):
Nicole put her stuff down, not wanting anything to be in her hands when she picked up the disgusting book. She reached for it, but hesitated. Already, she could sense warmth coming from the leather cover, and she wasn’t even touching it. Its magical pulses were different from the other items—they seemed to drip off the book like sweat.
Nicole hesitated, but wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t as if something bad would happen, right? She took a deep breath and placed her hands on the book. It shivered under her touch and she cringed, pulling back. The sensation of warm leather made her flesh crawl, and she rubbed her hands and arms on her jeans, trying to get the feeling to go away.
Come on, Nicole. Don’t wimp out.
Without letting herself think about it, she picked up the book and lifted the cover.
A wind rushed over her, blowing her hair back, roaring in her ears. She caught a brief whiff of tobacco smoke before the surge of air reversed and sucked the breath out of her lungs, making her gasp.
The floor under her quaked. The book vibrated. The leather on the cover moved, muscles beneath it flexing. Nicole tried to drop the book, but couldn’t. She was unable to control her hands or fingers. They clenched so tightly, they ached. A shadow covered the pages of the book, preventing her from reading.
What was going on? She gasped again, trying to breathe against the strong wind. She felt someone touch her shoulder, but she couldn’t move. Her fingers still clung to the book. The shadow on the pages shifted, roiled, and turned toward her, the brief outline of a face visible. It watched her for several moments.
Nicole . . .
The voice was soft, deep. A strange yearning inside her made her want to read the book, to understand. To join the owner of the voice, though she didn’t know where or what he was.
The wind slowed to a gentle and familiar caress across her cheek. Familiar?
Then suddenly, it all stopped. The book fell from her hands and slammed itself shut. She backed away, her arms, legs—everything—shaking.
“What happened?” Professor Coolidge asked next to her, making her jump.
“I—I don’t know.” Nicole tried to smooth her hair, but her hands shook too much. She tucked them under her arms. “It said my name . . . and there was a shadow. In-inside it.”
Coolidge lifted the leather book. His mouth popped open in surprise. “You’ve activated a force within it—something alive.” He looked at her, fear and worry on his face. “How did you do that?”
Nicole shook her head. “I don’t know,” she repeated.
Professor Coolidge put the book back on the table. “I’m not sure what to say, other than the book is much more powerful than it used to be.” He peered at her, scrutinizing her. “And I’d love to know why it called to you, why you woke it up, when so many others have not.”