Of Fire and Roses by Danielle Belwater

Of Fire and Roses
Danielle Belwater
Blurb: Nathaniel West’s mother is dead, his father a lost cause. Anger has become a way of life, until he meets and falls in love with Cora Ewell. Only Cora has a secret, one that could kill them both.
An age old dark magic resurfaces and it becomes a race against time for Cora and Nate to find the long buried secrets to saving everyone they love and each other.
After a near fatal accident leaves Nate in limbo, he must find a way to get through to Cora before time runs out and she is forced into life eternal with the evil wizard, Elias Stafford.
Excerpt 1: 
I felt insignificant among the forest of tall, needle-like trees. Tree roots, covered in a thick green moss, erupted from the ground like long twisted fingers. A fine dewy mist hung low to the ground and rays of sunlight speared through the dense canopy. The path that had brought me to this point had now become nothing but a trail of crushed leaves and forest litter.
Which direction had I come from? Trees, mist, and fog enveloped me. My throat constricted. I needed to get out of there. I searched for my footprints to head back the way I’d come. I found them straightaway and was about to make for home when I felt a curious prickle on the back of my neck—that weird sense that someone was watching me.
While I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, my instincts told me something or someone had entered my little bubble of personal space. There was a familiar scent in the air, out of place in this earthy forest, the sweet perfume of roses.
I stood motionless, willing the entity out of its hiding spot. A movement, a blur, the rustling of leaves, then nothing. This place was messing with my head and I’d been here less than five minutes. Convinced my brain was playing tricks, I took one last look over my shoulder, then trekked back into the forest, not sure whether that was the right direction.
A flash of red whipped between two trees in front of me, stopping me in my tracks. I pressed my palms into my eyes. When I let go, tiny white flecks danced around my vision like fireflies. After a moment, my eyes regained their focus, but not before I stumbled, tripped over a tree root, and fell squarely on my arse. Something uncomfortable dug greedily into my thigh. I pushed the huge rock away and rubbed my leg furiously, knowing that was going to leave a bruise. Great.
The ground was cold and hard and dampness seeped through the seat of my shorts. I rolled to one side, ready to push myself back to my feet, but what I saw stole the air from my lungs and I fell back to earth with a thud.
Was it a girl or an angel? Surely, normal girls didn’t glow like that? I lay on the hard ground, transfixed and completely unable to move. Watching me from a short distance away was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in my life.
Excerpt 2:
I felt her before I saw her. Warmth and comfort spread through me like hot soup on a cold day. I spun around and tried to focus through the hazy grey mist. But I could see her, hiding behind a large oak. There was no mistaking that flaming red hair. I had to resist the urge to run both my hands through the rich silk tresses, to feel its softness, to see if locks the colour of fire would burn me.
I didn’t want to startle her, so I motioned with my fingers that I was coming over. I calmly and deliberately walked over, terrified she might run off, even though my own heart felt like it was going to make a break for it. Her head darted back and forth like a frightened rabbit, uncertain of where to go. As I approached, I could see her eyes flicker with apprehension but she remained still.
When I got about ten feet away, I stopped. Her eyes connected with mine and I lurched backward. Her eyes were two azure blue pools so deep you could dive in and never reach the bottom. Those eyes appraised me inquisitively. I couldn’t move. I was stuck fast like the forest tree she hid behind. I had the unsettling feeling I was about to be dashed against r
ocks like sailors drawn to a siren’s song, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Excerpt 3:  I came to stand on the branch that I would jump from. Holding on to the branch above me, I edged my way out to the dangled rope. With one hand, I grabbed the rope and pulled it toward me. I inched back a few steps to give myself a decent amount of swing room. The rope was fraying, coarse, and rough in my hands. I could hear loud shouts and whoops of encouragement from below, but I blocked them out, shut my eyes…then jumped.
Free…Swinging out in the air, I forgot everything in that brief moment of peace. Letting go of the thick rope for that split second of suspension, I felt like I was flying. Then, I was no longer flying. I was slamming—slamming into the cold, glassy lake. The impact shattered every cell in my body as the pain of hitting a sheet of solid water turned me to jelly. Then I was under. I opened my eyes. Murky darkness surrounded me.
I don’t know how far I was submerged but I could see rays of sunlight piercing through the surface into the depths. I waited for the moment my feet would hit the bottom so I could push off and resurface. Feeling the sludgy sand between my toes, I closed my eyes again and prepared to launch myself skyward. I don’t know why, but my feet were stuck. Something cold and slimy had wrapped itself around my left leg, tendrils crawling like ants around my calf. All the air in my chest escaped in a single cloud of air bubbles making a frenzied dash for the surface.
 Kicking and flapping about, I tried to dislodge whatever had caught my foot. I needed air but every time I opened my mouth it filled with the ceaseless rush of muddy water.
Don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic! I crunched myself into a ball and stretched my arm down in a vain attempt to remove whatever it was that had the vice grip on my ankle. I wrapped my hand around the offending root that held me. Terror stopped my heart and froze my blood, and my eyes shot open. Clamped around my leg was a grizzly, white-knuckled hand extending out of the lake floor. I struggled and fought to pry the digits loose. It was no use, my ankle was locked fast, and I had nothing left.
Given the go-ahead, the murky liquid hungrily searched for any way to penetrate and take over my body. A thousand knives pierced through me as I battled for every last scrap of oxygen. My arms and legs spasmed once, then twice, then stopped fighting and went deathly still. An ethereal calmness took over. I knew right then I was dying. I thought of Cora, imagining her warmth and fire, and I found peace. I pictured her arms wrapped around me, holding me tight forever and never letting go.
Author Bio:  Danielle Belwater adores the concept of true love and thoroughly believes everyone has their Prince Charming or Snow White out there somewhere, even if they have to fight demons, ghosts, and wizards to find it.

Danielle has been having a love affair with words since she was young and in primary school, writing some rather imaginative tales. This love has followed her into adulthood. 

She lives in rural South Australia with her husband, young daughters and way too many animals to mention. She spends most of her time dreaming up characters, stories, ghostly tales, and watching Firefly re-runs.  She also cooks the odd meal for her family to avoid them looking like skeletons at official author functions!           
Danielle is passionate about reading and her interests include pretty much anything with words from rolling four volume epics to the daily newspaper.
Rafflecopter:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d2dcb71/