Black Moon Draw (Three, page 1 of 9)

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Oh, god. My head!

I'm afraid to move, knowing once I do, the world's worst hangover will kick my ass. The dull, brain deep throb is already there, waiting to explode when I try to stand. Instead, I listen for the familiar sounds of my apartment in the morning: the neighbor's annoying alarm, the honking of traffic, shuffling of people down the hallway as they leave for work . . .

. . . the gurgle of a stream?

I smell flowers that aren't anything like the vanilla plugins in my bedroom, and something is tickling the sensitive inside of my forearm.


Only such an irrational fear could make me snap up into a sitting position without considering my head.

I groan, gripping it.

I blink, trying to focus, to see my bedroom wall instead of the dead forest where the wall should be. Squeezing my eyes closed, I open them again. My hands drop to my sides and I stare.

The trees are still present, their bare, sagging branches rattling in a cool morning breeze that makes me shiver. Wildflowers litter the grassy area around me, dancing in the wind. Fog clings to the branches of trees and covers the sky.

I slap my cheek lightly to make sure I'm not stuck in a dream. This . . . place certainly seems real. The source of the gurgling is a wide stream whose banks are connected by a graceful, arching stone and wooden bridge. It feels like morning, but is gray out, like the period of graininess between sunset and night.

Where the hell am I? I could have drunk myself to death and maybe the bridge leads to heaven.

Do people in heaven get hangovers?

My head hurts too badly for me to freak out. It's definitely a fitting ending to my week. I'm wearing my pretty purple dress, my feet bare, and dark hair hanging around my shoulders. At least I left the earth dressed decently.

"Oh, my poor mom!" Deep sorrow is building within me at the thought of not saying farewell to my mother and I shift onto my knees. Branches snap from somewhere across the bridge. I concentrate on controlling the headache. My stomach hurts and muscles ache, like I spent the night in some awkward position sprawled across the couch watching my favorite movies.

"Are you the witch?" The male voice makes me jerk.

I face him - and scream. Crouched ten feet from me is a creature with a man's body and a panther's head whose golden eyes are watching me like he's hungry. The unholy combination of man and beast is terrifying.

"Stay away from me!" I shout.

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