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Chosen by Sara Hanson and Brandy Bruce

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Loveys, we’re getting closer to the release of Chosen!  So exciting! This is YA (young adult) fantasy fiction. Kate Stokely is a 17-year-old girl, preparing to go to college. Humans and “Chosen” ones,  people who can manipulate the elements, share this world, but until now, Kate has never personally known anyone who’s chosen. All of that changes in the blink of an eye, and suddenly Kate’s reality looks completely different. She’s about to find out who she is and what she’s made of.

Sara and I are so excited to share this story with you! Here’s a sneak preview of the Prologue….

***

Prologue

Something was wrong.

At 3 a.m., an earthquake rocked all of northeastern America. By 5 a.m., a red moon was spinning in the western sky; to the east, a blazing yellow sun pulsated, and in between, millions of stars blinked frantically. People stopped on sidewalks and driveways, pointing up at the sky in open fascination or mildly camouflaged fear. By midmorning, black, billowing clouds crawled across the sky while a deep thunder boomed down from the heavens. And in the small quaint town of Huntington, New York, a cutting wind raced through the streets, sending the majority of its population indoors to seek refuge, while leaving the false impression of a ghost town in its wake.

The howling winds and turning clouds mirrored the woman moaning and tossing in labor at 947 Pine Hollow Street. Her water had broken the night before during an unusual, powerful earthquake that news reports indicated had left thirty or more missing persons throughout Long Island. The aftershocks that continued to wreak havoc across the city were lost on the dark-haired man now kneeling beside the writhing woman. He kissed her hand, whispering soft words of comfort, though his own face, pale and heavily perspiring, revealed his fear. The nearest hospitals were overrun with people and their doctor, overwhelmed with patients injured from the previous evening’s quake, had sent in his place a highly recommended midwife.

Delilah, short and plump with curly gray hair, ended her call with EMT and snapped her cell phone shut. At the same moment, the woman in labor, who had faded in and out of consciousness over the past few hours, began yelling hysterically, “JON! PLEASE HELP ME! Oh God, the pain—I can’t—” causing Delilah to sprint upstairs to the room.

Jonathan Stokely cried out, “Aurora! AURORA! Honey, wake up!”

Heart pounding, Delilah ran into the bedroom and rushed to the side of the woman whose face was now as white as the sheets around her. I have to do something. I can’t wait for help; it won’t be here fast enough. Even if we leave now for the hospital . . . she won’t make it. Still trying to fight the rising panic in her heart, and the terrible fear that Mr. Stokely would lose both his baby and his wife in the same day, Delilah placed her hand on the woman’s belly in an effort to regain some sense of duty and control over the situation. Delilah’s heart skipped a beat. Wait, no! That wasn’t my heart—that was the baby moving! The baby’s alive!

Pushing her sleeves further up her arms and brushing strands of hair away from her face, she set to work with fresh determination.

A half hour later, Delilah emerged from the room, smiling wearily and carrying a small bundle wrapped in white. Jonathan Stokely, who had been pacing the hall, continuing to call emergency services, and whose face was wet with tears, stopped abruptly, his eyes flying up to meet Delilah’s, searching for reassurance. She nodded.

“They’re both going to be fine. You have a beautiful baby girl. Congratulations.”

He breathed a huge sigh of relief, and his green eyes, falling back onto his daughter, lit up, displaying a fusion of joy and amazement.

“We’ll still need to go to the hospital as soon as the ambulance arrives. Your wife has lost a lot of blood. She and the baby need constant observation tonight,” Delilah told him.

Holding his sleepy daughter snugly in his arms, he approached the bed where his exhausted, weakened wife lay, a tired smile on her face. “She’s as beautiful as her mother,” he said, and leaned down so his wife could see their baby. “You have my heart, Aurora,” he promised. “You have since the moment I met you. And you have never been more beautiful than you are at this moment,” he added, his voice breaking.

Eyes filling with tears, she whispered, “I love you, too.”

Together, their eyes traveled down to rest on the newest addition to the Stokely family, a wisp of red hair just visible poking over the top of the cotton blanket.

“Hello, little chosen one,” Aurora whispered. “Jon, it’s cold in here.” Her husband wrapped his arms around his wife and daughter, enveloping them in an immediate rush of warmth.

“Her name?” he asked, as a tiny hand emerged from the blanket in his arms, reaching toward him with dainty fingers splayed open beseechingly.

Aurora wiped her eyes, which were silently spilling over in unchecked emotion, and replied with utmost tenderness in her voice, “Kathryn, her name is Kathryn.”

 * * *

Thousands of miles away in the opposite direction, another woman was crying.

In a remote area of northern England, a well-preserved castle stood massive and impregnable, blending in well with the surrounding mountains. In the West Wing, on a velvet pillow, lay a midnight blue stone affectionately referred to as Avonmore that was beginning to moan. The woman who was crying took a deep breath and reached for the stone. She wiped her eyes and tried to wish away the sense of helplessness weighing heavily on her mind; but her despair would not be dispelled. She held the stone tightly, its deep sapphire color matching the exact shade of her eyes.

Within a large, luxurious flat deep in the heart of Moscow, a white stone christened the name of Zephyr set atop a silver walking stick began to tremble in an umbrella rack, and at the sound, a man named Uvionus looked up sharply from his comfortable sofa. Without a word he stood up, reached for a gray fur coat hung casually on the back of a dining room chair, and opened the door that led onto a balcony. Even as the door opened, the cool current of air outside began to grow stronger.

At the same moment, in a tiny village of Northern Africa, a crimson stone called Pyrrhus glowed brightly on the chain around former tribal leader Phaedron’s scarred neck. Phaedron grasped the stone without thinking and felt its heat seep into his hand. Sounds of children running and laughing throughout the village began to fade from his ears as he looked up at the dark sky.

Back in the East Wing of the castle, a man named Thaddeus sat complacently at his desk with hands folded together. And one last stone, the color of deep timber, fittingly titled Terra, set in a silver ring on Thaddeus’s finger, split down the middle with a resounding crack. Wearing a look of relief mingled with a touch of trepidation, he resolutely abandoned his seat and walked toward the spiral staircase leading upward from his office.
Within moments, the four Bearers of the stones were standing in front of one another at the top of a great tower. Their arms outstretched, their fingertips barely touching.
“It is as we feared then?” The Bearer of the white stone, Uvionus, was unable to veil the obvious tremble in his voice. The others looked to the Bearer of the midnight blue stone, Joselyn. She shook back thick locks of long, white hair. Her sapphire eyes closed for one moment before opening again, now so light they looked like crystal. She nodded.

“He is gone. But not yet entirely out of reach.”

Phaedron gave a sharp intake of breath, his audible expression only echoing the other’s silent emotions.

“So the balance hangs in jeopardy. Unless we have the strength to restore it. Joselyn?” Thaddeus’s words were firm, but as gentle as a quiet, rolling stream. Joselyn’s eyes watered.

“I am strong enough.”

Maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t. As the four Bearers raised their arms to the void above them, the ground shook violently beneath them. A scream could be heard—audible only to their ears. An icy wind began to blow around and through them, and a large fire roared in the center of them. As Joselyn’s tears fell silently down her face, the sound of water rushing—terrible and beautiful—filled each Bearer’s soul.

Thaddeus squeezed his eyes shut as his arms began to shake with an almost frightening power. The earth beneath him seemed to cry out in misery. The gusts of air, the swirls of waves, and the bellows of flames drowned out the shrill, painful screams. And in an instant, all was still. All was quiet. The four Bearers lowered their arms. For the moment, all was right. The balance was restored. The stars were aligned. The auburn moon returned to its pearly glow.

Thaddeus studied Joselyn, silently whispering words to her troubled mind—for the four Bearers had that unique ability to share thoughts without speaking. And slowly, Joselyn’s tempest gaze softened. Each Bearer breathed easier as the sense of equilibrium calmed the world around them and the spirits within them.

* * *

Back in Huntington, New York, Kathryn lay sleeping peacefully in her father’s arms. The strange, ominous weather outside had finally subsided, revealing bright, unblemished stars stamping the sky in its wake. The world was as it should be, once more.

But deep within the earth, a man whose screams had been silenced was shaking with rage . . . and waiting.

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About Brandy

Brandy Bruce is a Bookvana award-winning author, editor, wife, mother, and someone who really loves dessert. She has a BA in English from Liberty University. She currently works as a freelance editor--reading, writing, editing, and making good use of online dictionaries. She's married to Jeff and has three beautiful children.

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