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About the book …
Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he’s never met, he had no idea what.
When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents’ farm, he knows he’s seen her before…in his dreams. He’s felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.
Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he’s completely insane or he’s about to have the adventure of his life, because where they’re going is full of creatures he’s only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death…
Praise for The Marked Son …
“Reading Shea Berkley is like watching magic unfold before your eyes. THE MARKED SON is written with such intrigue and depth, I could not get enough of this delicious tale. I’m hopelessly lost and can hardly wait to see what jewels Berkley has in store for us next.” ~ Darynda Jones, author of First Grave on the Right
If I never dream again, I’ll fade away
Until I’m only a breath of memories that can’t stay.
I was eight the first time I saw the girl.
Mom freaked when I told her, said I was letting a girl terrorize my dreams, but I didn’t get it. They were dreams, not nightmares. I don’t remember ever waking up afraid. Not back then. So when the dreams kept coming, year after year, each one more vivid than the last, I held onto them like a skydiver clutching his ripcord. No way would I let Mom take them away from me.
It’s been years since she’s asked me about the girl, but lately Mom’s been curious. I tell her I haven’t had a dream in awhile. She eyes me like I’m lying.
So what if I am? I may not remember everything about my dreams when I wake up, but I do know when I’m about to have one. My scalp tingles, like tiny bugs zap, zap, zapping along my skin. The darkness behind my lids turns smoky. I’ve tried to pull away at that point but it’s no use. I don’t fight it now. Instead I sink into the thick air and come out the other side into a world that is nothing like the one I know…
Yet, it’s familiar.
Tonight, the smoke fades, and the girl appears in a thin, white gown. I’m lying in a meadow surrounded by deep woods, one hand tucked behind my head—shirtless and shoeless and wearing a pair of old, ratty jeans. I can hear the TV I left on fading in the distance until only the sound of the meadow fills the air.
She’s suddenly beside me, beautiful beyond words, her long, dark hair spilling over her shoulder as she bends to touch my hand. Her cool fingers rest more like mist than flesh in my palm. The rough corset she’s wearing cinches the fabric snug to her hips. She’s got a definite Victorian vibe going, but it suits her. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it.
Her violet eyes darken, revealing the silent plea that carries a hint of desperation, and she tugs, urging me to get to my feet. She wants me to run, to escape. In the last two weeks, we’ve tried, running so long and so hard that we’re sure we’ll never find our way home again. We’ll be lost together forever. It’s what she wants. It’s what I need. But it always fails. We eventually wind up back at the meadow.
Tonight, I’m content to pull her down beside me, lie in the soft grass, and stare at the sky. Our fingers intertwine, our shoulders touch. We’ve both gotten older since the first time we met. There were years when we rarely saw each other, but lately, our time together has intensified. There’s a feeling of impending doom that wasn’t there when we were younger, as if this perfect place of dreams is about to shatter, and we’ll never see each other again.
There’s so much I want to know. Why do I only dream about her when I need her most? Am I insane? I don’t ask. I’m afraid to. I want her to be real, just a few months more, maybe a year. Then I’ll grow up and cut this strange, imaginary cord. I can’t lose her smile, not yet, or her lips against my cheek—one of her butterfly kisses that’s gone before it’s begun.
Her silence has never bothered me before. Tonight, all I want is one word.
I touch her hair, her cheek. I know the tilt of her head and the tip of her lips. I know when she’s sad and when joy fills her to overflowing. I’ve tried painting her in art class, but I’ve never been able to capture her perfection, because when I wake, her face dissolves with the dream. If she’d just talk to me, I’d remember everything about her. I would.
As we lie there, night and day flash by. One minute the sun warms my skin, the next the stars color it silvery bright. Flowers open and close. Birds sing. An owl hoots. The girl turns and lays her head on my chest. I wrap a protective arm around her and pull her closer, yet it’s never close enough. She’s my one comfort in life, but being with her is like holding onto sand that keeps slipping through my fingers. Time is running out, and I can’t figure out why.
Suddenly, the darkness lowers and the dream grows cold, the woods sinister. She jerks upright. I follow. I ask her what’s wrong. Her face shows her terror. Her mouth opens in an attempt to speak. No words follow.
The next moment, she’s across the clearing. I call for her to come back. She doesn’t. She can’t. All I know is that she needs me. Now.
I slam back into consciousness, panting against the thudding of my heart. I peel off the scratchy covers and slip out of bed. The hotel room is dingy, but the night is laced with a full moon’s light. I stand at the window and let the hopelessness overcome me as the dream fades away.
Heaving a sigh, I grip the windowsill and roll my forehead along the cool glass.
It’s just a dream. Just a stupid, childish dream.
But how I wish it weren’t.
And check out books 2 & 3 in The Keeper of Life series …
About the author …
Shea Berkley is the author of The Keeper of Life series for Entangled Publishing. “My series is all about monsters, magic, and mayhem that take the reader on a wild fun-filled ride.” When Shea isn’t writing, she’s doing random activities to keep her mind occupied and away from causing trouble. Whether it’s kickboxing, driving waaay too fast or baking waay too many cookies, she does it like a pro. But mostly you can find her licking chocolate off her fingers and keyboard as she types (she takes multitasking to new levels) ’cause those pesky people in her head won’t leave her alone. There’s probably medication for that, but she refuses to silence the muse.