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Shadows of Quartz (paperback) by Nicholas Milano

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  • Gem Haven Series, Volume 2

    John is having nightmares. Something is coming, something dark and powerful. Memories and shadows are pulling together and gathering a new strength.

    When John turns to the one person he could confide in, he finds Milo being elusive and deceptive. He understands everyone has their own secrets, but even surrounded by friends, he's never felt more alone.
     
    Can John be the one thing that holds them all together? Or are they destined to fall apart, letting secrets and lies break the bonds of their friendship?

    Rating: Sweet
    Page Count: 164
    Word Count: 40825
    978-1-5092-1336-8 Paperback
    978-1-5092-1337-5 Digital

    Excerpt

    The extent of her control over ice and cold were still very much unknown to John. Her gem gave off a bright green glow, causing a blizzard to pick up. He fought against the howling wind. Knowing it wasn’t real didn’t make it any less difficult.

    She turned and looked at him, an icy tear in her eye. “I don’t want anybody’s help.”

    John held out a hand, beckoning her away from the ledge. There was no time for her to come to him. He moved to pull her away, and she swayed. Her footing gave way, and she fell along with the avalanche.

    “Jade!” John ran over to the edge and peered down into the abyss below, but all he could see was the squall.

    The dream grabbed hold of him and pulled him away from the edge, back to the path. The tower was far darker, and taller, as though Jade’s decision pulled him closer to the darkness.

    A second shadow appeared, but just as he was about to reach out for it, Milo’s hand clamped down on his arm. Milo was his link to everything, the whole reason he came to Gem Haven in the first place. John frowned, having expected warmth from the touch of his…boyfriend? Two thoughts came to him in rapid succession. The first was that he had nearly forgotten Milo lost his bond with his bloodstone. And the second was that he really didn’t know what to think about their relationship.

    A moment of clarity washed over John. He was asleep. None of this was real.

    The shadows around him stopped moving, frozen in time, and then they all turned on him at once, bombarding him with images, thoughts, and memories.

    Something furry was in his hands. He looked down and saw a stuffed rat.

    The dream manipulated Mark’s orange and black striped body, shrinking him down into a tiny housecat version of his former tiger self. The small kitten’s head turned as he pawed at the stuffed rat in John’s hand. The sight was just silly enough to cause John to forget about his pain, and he let out a soft chuckle.

    The shadows around John stopped moving, frozen in time, and turned on him, bombarding him with images, thoughts, and memories.

    “I’m not weak.” Mark whimpered.

    “Follow the stars,” an old woman said.

    “Help me!” A young girl with auburn hair cried out. John reached for her, but she slipped away replaced by another nightmare.

    “You can’t stop me, I will rise again!” said a shrouded figure, his voice powerful and dark. Igneous. The figures sped toward the pillar.

    John, trapped under the weight of the shadows, couldn't make any sense of the images speeding past.

    “Wake up,” Milo demanded.

    John woke in a cold sweat, twisted in a pile of damp hotel bed sheets. Images flashed like distant memories already fading away.

    The bed beside his own? Empty. This marked the third night in a row Milo sneaked off after John fell asleep. Igneous’ attack had left a mark on each of them, especially Milo.

    The full moon outside left a blue cast in his room for the past week. It wasn't real. What was?

    He reached into the nightstand beside the bed and pulled out a small bound notebook. The book had no designated back or front. One side featured a bright landscape and was labeled: Day Dreams, but on the flipside was the polar opposite. A dark, yet peaceful labyrinth under a blanket of stars labeled: Night Dreams. The double-sided dream journal provided an outlet to dump those images and clear his head.

    In the time it took to flip to a fresh page, the dream was already warping. The minor details grayed and blended together. Of those memories that hadn’t faded, he jotted down the most important. Igneous was back. Three underlines, two exclamation points.

    The flashes of images played out as a nightmare—warnings served on a silver platter.

    He thumbed back to some of the first few pages. The very first entry, dated for the day after he’d bonded with his quartz. The journal, a gift from his mom for bonding, marked the beginning of his vivid nightmares, and the end to a normal sleep pattern.

    He flipped back to the beginning, the very first nightmare. A short description written in jagged letters from a trembling hand.

    The monster in the cloak is real. He breathes down the back of my neck while I sleep.

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Shadows of Quartz (paperback)

Shadows of Quartz (paperback)

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