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Here's the free excerpt of Finding Hekate, Book One in the Cicatrix Duology

Mia slashed again. He was too far out of her reach and the blade sliced only fabric. A swath of tan cloth hung down, revealing a triangle of marred flesh underneath. Dark lines swirled across his skin. Scars. She forced her gaze back to her attacker’s sneer. A voice not her own echoed in her mind. Pretty, aren’t they?

he voice jarred her. Scared her. Shock coursed through Mia as realization hit. A telepath? Was that even possible? She backed up a pace, and that slight movement, that slight repositioning of her body, caused heat to knife up her leg. The place above her ribs pulsed. Each breath brought a new wave of agony. She was losing this fight. And he seemed to know it.

The man winked. You’ve seen mine. I should get to see yours. I’ve heard it’s his best work yet.

His gaze flitted to her hand. Her palm seared, and she clenched her hand into a fist. His hazel eyes met hers once more. She couldn’t help herself, having an Acedian so close, she had to ask. “Whose best work?”

As if in reply, the man moved. Fast. Far too fast for her eyes to follow, the man stood a few feet away from her and then was next to her. Half a blink would be too long a time. His fingers curled around her wrist and slammed her hand back into the wall behind her. The knife clattered to the ground. His other hand pushed into her chest, shoving her body back into the wall. Strong, overly strong, even. He smacked her fist away, almost before she swung with her free hand. And too fast. He punched her face. Stars burst into her vision. A stream of blood poured from her nose, tickling her lips and chin.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” the man said.

He shoved his weight into her right side; an elbow to her neck pinned her to the wall. She grasped at the last tendrils of breath fleeing her lungs. He removed something from his eyes, and now silver eyes held hers. Contacts. He grabbed her hand and bit the fabric that covered it, sliding the glove off her hand. Cold air rushed around her clammy skin.

The man’s eyes widened as he looked at the triangle that puckered and blackened her skin. Jagged lines splayed out of the triangle itself. A thin line pierced the shape, winding like a snake, in and out of the scar.

“He was right. It is beautiful,” the man muttered.

Mia narrowed her eyes, unable to fight back, unable to even move, gasping for air, as his weight pressed into her. Beautiful? Never.

His eyes locked onto hers once more. His voice took on a mocking tone. “I bet Jeffery would look simply dashing with one of these burned into his flesh. And I bet his would be even more stunning. Practice is key with the cicatrix ritual, you know.”

At the mention of her crewmate, Mia struggled and thrashed against the weight that held her. The action did nothing to push the man off of her and managed to expel the last of her energy. Her attacker raised an eyebrow, bashing his forehead against hers. Stinging radiated from the impact.

You think your crew is safe from us?

Her vision blurred around the edges.

Do you think their families are safe?

A punch to her shoulder knocked her to the ground. For the second time, Mia’s head hit the gravel. She gulped in air. She watched as the man smiled down at her, rustling around in his pocket for a moment before pulling out a tiny device. A distinct click echoed in the still air. A tingling sensation ran down her arm like water dripping down a limb on a cold, wet night. Her vision blurred in the center. Something slammed into the side of her head, followed by dizziness and a blinding white light. A single thought filtered through.

Soon, you will join us. Soon, we will see what you’re really made of.

Unconsciousness pulled Mia into the black.