USA Today Bestselling Author
Born and raised in a cult with a fanatical father who believed she was destined for greater things, Phoenix endured a childhood of pain and torment. Not only was her father preparing her for the future he saw, he hated that she was stronger, better than he was.
When she’s finally rescued, her life slowly improves, but still her past hinders her future. Her father has gifted her with one special note, written on a material she has yet to destroy. In order to get rid of it forever, she travels to Iceland to her father’s hometown to visit a fissure of lava that opens every summer. Surely the material will burn in the lava? And she can then be rid of her father and the special note forever …
Detective Rowan Einar hates when the damn fissure opens as it always signifies the suicide season—a despicable time of year where people travel to his small corner of the world to end their lives. When a waif shows up with huge eyes and scars, both external and internal, he wants to ensure she won’t be the next suicide in town. But, when he hears her story, he wonders what is going on …
Then the deaths begin, … and he witnesses the visions and energies that he’s always been able to see have now merged with Phoenix’s energies, making the two of them stronger and more powerful. What they see though is even more terrifying …
Phoenix had been through more in her life than anyone ever should. She did come out the other side better, more educated, and far more stable. Now she has just one more thing to do. She needs to get rid of the last thing of her past, something given to her by her father that up to now she hasn’t be able to destroy by conventional means.
The town where Phoenix’s father was born is noted for the lava fissure that opens every spring and closes in the fall. The Burning Fires as they are called, signal what the locals refer to as the suicide season. It is a time of year acting police chief Rowen Einar dreads.
As Rowan watches the bus loads of tourists, one woman attracts his attention. He doesn’t know why but he has a feeling about her and if she’s planning on suicide he wasn’t going to let it happen on his watch.
While we do meet the troublesome entity and get to understand the disappearances through it’s eyes, he calls himself a supplier to the Elders of these burning fires.
After exploring a little and hearing some strange sounds with no apparent cause, Phoenix encounters a local woman who seems concerned about her. After trying to reassure her she was fine, Phoenix makes her way back to the hotel for dinner.
When Rowan joins her, the conversation that ensues is enlightening.
She stood at the open door of the dining room and waited to be noticed. Soon a waitress approached, and she was seated at a table for two. Maybe it was her energy, maybe it was something else, but, no matter where she went, she was placed off to the side alone— never with a group or even another individual traveling on the same bus. She’d long gotten used to it, but it made her wonder if she was putting out energy that said she didn’t want anything to do with anyone or if people were picking up on that on their own.
And she didn’t understand her impulse to always be alone. She didn’t want to be alone, but neither did she want to be left with inane conversation from people who asked questions she had no intention of answering. She sat, staring out the window, her back to the door, a menu in her hand. A shadow fell beside her, and a man pulled out the chair across from her and sat down.
She looked up only to rear back in surprise. It was the cop. She gave him a quick frown. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
He looked at her, surprise lighting the deep gaze in his eyes. “Now why would you look at me and ask what’s the matter?”
“You’re a cop,” she said bluntly. “You sit down without asking and just stare at me.”
“I’m staring at you now,” he confirmed. “But I wasn’t when I sat down, and I did sit down abruptly because I figured you’d probably get up and run away.”
Again she could feel herself withdrawing, looking for a way to run. Because of that she jutted out her chin and glared at him.
“And now you’re looking to run again but then got mad,” he said.
She let out her breath slowly. “How do you know I was running away?”
“Because I can see it in every line of your frame. You’re tense. You’re worried. You’re afraid. Possibly afraid something will come up in this conversation you might not want to answer.”
At his observation, her eyebrows rose slowly. “Did you read my aura or something?”
He inclined his head, but all he said was, “Or something.”
Frustrated, she stared back at him. “I don’t understand what you want. Have I done something wrong?”
“Not that I can see,” he said cheerfully, shifting closer to the log wall.
“So why are you here then?” “Because I heard through the grapevine how you appeared nervous and unsteady earlier this evening.”
“We’re a tight-knit community,” he affirmed. “Somebody spoke to you on a bench, and she was worried about you. So much so that she called me as soon as you took off.”
“She doesn’t need to be,” Phoenix replied, surprise raising her eyebrows as she understood this was a compassionate visit. “She made a comment about family that hit a nerve. I had gone down an alleyway that ended up taking me to some other streets, and I got a bit turned around. I ended up on an overpass, coming back into the main part of town.”
At that, his mouth dropped open. “You found Fellow Alley?”
“I have no idea what I found,” she said bluntly. “But, by the time I made it back to the center of town, I was a bit frazzled and more than happy to just sit there for a moment. Then this woman sat down beside me, so you must see I was already geared to be upset. If you see her again, please give her my apologies. I am fine.”
“I’ll pass the message on.” He leaned forward, his hands clenched in front of him. “Did you see anything down the alley?”
“Some stores that were open. An apothecary masquerading as a tea shop,” she said with a half a smile. “A couple shops with nothing I wanted to pick up for myself. Everything was dark and ghoulish. Plus a couple empty stores. It was the cries in the woods that got to me. I presume some bird of prey is around here that makes a cry like a woman’s voice.”
“Where was it?” he asked, his voice low and urgent, his eyes narrow and glinting. “Where did you hear it?”
Surprised and a little daunted by the tone in his voice, she replied, “At the bridge,” she said. “I mean, I was standing there, looking down, when I heard it in the trees again.”
“Did you go looking?”
She shook her head. “Not when I was walking across the overpass. I heard it again, and I thought maybe it was a bird. It was so very clear though.”
“Why would you think it was a bird?”
“Because it was exactly the same pitch and length,” she said. “Nothing differed between the two cries, so I figured it must mean something about it was normal. Like the call of a bird.”
His expression eased back some. He nodded. “That’s good to hear,” he said. “We always have to watch out when we have so many transient people through the place.”
“Does transient equal tourists?” she asked.
“In some ways, yes,” he replied.
“There’s also the worry we are some sort of a suicide destination,” he said, and this time his tone wasn’t light at all. “And that’s the last thing we want to become.”
“Suicide season.” Her face fell at his nod. “The bus driver mentioned something about that,” she said slowly. “Honestly that sounds terrible.”
“Exactly. But that overpass you were standing on? We’ve had four people jump off it.”
She gasped. “Really?”
He nodded. “Absolutely no way to survive that fall. Two were locals, and two were tourists. The locals were several years ago, and, once the events were on the internet, it seemed like that became the next favorite spot.”
“I thought they were all committing suicide at the Burning Fires,” she said in surprise.
“We still lose several there a year,” he admitted. “We’ve extended the security on the place. There’s rope and all kinds of measures to keep people back from the edge, but it never seems to stop people from trying.”
“The barrier would stop those looking for attention or those easily persuaded off their path but not the serious ones.”
He smiled at that. “We don’t get too many just getting attention,” he said. “This is a permanent answer.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That’s terrible.”
“Indeed,” he said. “So make sure you don’t become one of the victims, okay?”
She sat back with a slump and stared at him. “Is that what you think I am? Somebody who came here to commit suicide?”
He watched her for a long moment. That was exactly what he thought. The woman she’d been speaking with on the bench had likely found their conversation upsetting. Phoenix had been distressed before the woman had asked her a question, and obviously the combination had been enough for the older woman to worry about the young tourist’s mental health.
“I didn’t come here to commit suicide,” she said, her voice hardening and low. “I get that woman might have been worried, but that’s not what this trip is about.”
“Good,” he said. “Then I’ve nothing to worry about, right?”
“Not in any way,” she said in a neutral tone.
“So, why are you here?”
Dale Mayer. From the Ashes (Kindle Locations 319-376). Valley Publishing.
It’s when they see the missing woman that Rowan and Phoenix have a shared vision. A strange and interesting occurrence.
Everything starts to escalate from here in this tense and intriguing tale.
We see more of Stefan and Dr. Maddy after Rowan calls for some assistance.
There’s a lot happening and it all seems somehow tied to Phoenix. Of course a love story also develops and it’s an interesting one.
There are many books in this series and I really need to go to the beginning and start catching up. With luck I may accomplish this before then next book in this series!
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.