Autumn: Elemental Series #3

Here is a sneak peek of my prologue for Autumn. Just a little something for all my fans to let them know I'm hard at work on my newest novel! I hope you enjoy, just remember this is very raw at this point. 

Autumn

           Slipping a key into the lock, Autumn twisted the knob and gave a gentle kick with her booted foot. The door squeaked open, banging against the far wall. She stepped inside the brightly sunlit house and dropped her backpack on the floor. In one swift motion, Autumn pulled the keys from the handle and pushed the door closed with her foot, hearing it click shut behind her. 
       “I’m home,” she said as she vaulted the couch, landing on the soft plaid cushions with a plop. No answer came and she sighed. Her parents would be tending to the front end duties of their family Inn, Lloyd’s on the River. Being a Friday night, it would be well after dinner before she’d see her parents.
        Autumn ran a hand through her strawberry blonde hair, pulling it through her fingers as she flipped through the newly delivered mail in her lap. Tossing aside the oblong envelopes, she grabbed the remote from the side table and hit the power button, bringing the flat screen to life on the far wall. Voices filled the small space as Autumn settled into the cushions surrounding her.
      Friday afternoons were normally a busy time at the Inn and usually Autumn would rush off to help her mother check in new guests or help her father with luggage. Today, however, Autumn stayed after school to make up a German test she’d failed earlier in the week and her mother gave her a pass on weekend responsibilities, one she planned to take full advantage of. 
       She settled into the cushions and flipped aimlessly through the channels until she found a music video of her favorite songs. She laid her head against the back of the couch and exchanged the remote for her phone, swiping the screen to open the texting screen.
       Are you home? she text Hannah Grace, her best friend since grade school. The two girls were inseparable and shared everything with each other. 
       Yes. How was your test???
       Brutal, but I think I passed.
       Are you ungrounded now?
       Ya, I think so. Mom said I can chill this weekend. Come over? Autumn text the question before officially asking permission knowing her mother wouldn’t say no, not to her best friend. Hannah Grace often came over on the weekends and helped around the Inn.
        Hang a sec, came the reply. Autumn dropped her phone on her chest and lay her head back while she waited for Hannah Grace to buzz her phone again. 
         Bright light filled the the room and she jumped from the couch, hearing her phone hit the carpet by her feet as she stood and turned toward the light. 
       “YaYa. You scared me.” Autumn grabbed her chest as she spoke. A woman stood in the midst of fading light, arms out stretched to her.
       “Autumn, my dearest child. It is time,” the woman said, her voice a mere whisper.
       “What? Now?”
       “Yes, child. Now.”
         Autumn turned in circles in shock trying to focus her thoughts on what she needed to do, what she needed to grab. She’d been preparing for this very moment since birth, but now the moment was here, she felt inadequate. She’d been chosen to help teach, to lead, but she was only a sophomore in high school.
        She stopped spinning and focused on the woman in the room. “My parent? We should tell my parents.” Autumn took a quick step for the adjoining door to the Inn before the woman gently grabbed her to keep her from leaving. She turned Autumn around, placing both hands on her shoulders and waited until Autumn focused on her face. A flash of something that looked suspiciously like remorse passed through the woman’s deep violet eyes, but she schooled her features quickly.
        “They know. They will meet us at our designated spot. We must hurry, there’s no time to waste. Grab nothing. We must hurry.”
         “Oh YaYa, I can’t believe my time is finally here. I’ve waited forever and worked so hard. It’s all about to pay off now I finally get to meet her.”
           “Come child,” the glowing woman said as she held out her hand. Autumn took hold and instantly they disappeared.
 
***

           “Miss, you can’t sleep here,” the officer said as he shook her awake. Autumn’s eyes fluttered against the light shinning in her eyes, the brightness giving her an instant headache from the contrast of the darkness surrounding her. A voice repeated, “You can’t sleep here.”
           “Where am I?” she asked through a bone-dry throat. She propped one elbow underneath her  torso to sit up while using the other to cover her eyes against the intense glare. Swallowing hard to moisten her mouth, she waited for the officer, whose face was obscured from view, to answer. Her vision was blurry and she tried to bring her surroundings into focus.
            “You need to go home,” the officer said as he extended a hand toward her. “Can I call your parents, Miss?”
             “I don’t know where I am,” Autumn said as she sat fully upright, then instantly leaned over and vomited on the officers shoes. 
            “Whoa, easy now, ” he said as he jumped back.  “Have you been drinking, Miss?” he asked.
            “I don’t think so, but I don’t feel so good.” Autumn swayed before she felt a steady hand on her shoulder keeping her upright. 
              “What’s your name?” he asked as he leaned in and looked in her eyes. She blinked several times before she answered.
              “I. . . I don’t know.” Autumn felt hot with confusion and she lifted a hand to wipe the back of her neck when her fingers brushed tender flesh behind her ear. “Ouch.”
              The officer flashed his light through the darkness, resting the beam on her neck. “Can I look at that?” he asked as he gently reached for her hand, pulling it away from the tender spot on her skin. His quick intake of breath didn’t escape her before he quietly commented. “It seems as if you’ve been branded with some sort of hot iron or something.” 
            “What?” Autumn asked, reaching for her wound before he stopped her. 
            “I wouldn’t touch it, it’s pretty red. We need to have the EMT’s look at it. Did someone do something to you? Do you know who might have hurt you, or where where you live?” he continued the barrage of questions. “You don’t know your name?”
           “I don’t know.” Autumn felt a well of panic threaten to close her throat. Her brain felt muddled, as if the memories were close but just out of her reach. She shook her head, instantly regretting the movement when her stomach lurched again.
           “Miss, what can you tell me,” the officer stated as he knelt in front of her.
           “I don’t feel good.”
            “That much I noticed.” The officer nodded once and looked at his partner standing behind her, one she didn’t notice until that moment. She looked over her shoulder and saw him standing close to her back, his hand resting near his gun.
              The officer standing in front of her raised a hand, pressing the button on his clipped on walkie-talkie before he spoke into it. “We have a young Jane Doe at the South Park. Send a Bus.” He released the button, then knelt in front of Autumn, watching her intently as he spoke. “You can’t tell me anything or you won’t tell me?” 
             “Sir, I don’t know anything. I don’t know how I got here, my name, my parents . . . anything.” Autumn felt the hysterics threatening to surface again, but she swallowed them down with a gulp and leaned over her knees to take deep breaths.
               “It’s okay, wait here and we will figure this out.” Autumn felt a hand on her back before she heard him shuffling to stand. His feet moved from her view and she heard him whispering to his partner behind her. She was sure she wasn’t meant to hear, but she did. “She doesn’t appear intoxicated or on any kind of drugs, but a toxicology report will tell us for sure. She looks disoriented and genuine in her confusion. She has a fresh mark on her neck and her hair looks as if someone took dull shears and whacked it off.”
               “This isn’t the safest place to be this time of night,” she heard another voice respond. “Alone too.”
               “It doesn’t make sense, that’s for sure.”
                After a few deep breaths, she sat up and turned to face the officers beside her. The hair on the back of her neck lifted an inch off her skin and instantly she turned to the bushes in the opposite direction. “Someone’s there,” she whispered, hearing her own voice shake with instant fear. “Someone is watching me.”
                Both officers stepped in front of her, flashing their lights in the direction Autumn indicated. They swept the light beam back and forth, only illuminating leaves on the bushes. Sirens filled the night air as an ambulance approached with flashing lights.
              “Miss, there isn’t anyone there. You’re safe,” the first officer said.
              “No, someone was there. Someone is after me.” Autumn couldn’t explain why she felt threatened, but her fear was real. She could hardly contain her hysterics. She lurched to her feet as her body began to shake. “I’ve got to get away from here, I need to hide.
                 “Hide from who?”
                Autumn took a step away from the bench and felt her head swim. She staggered under the sudden dizziness and reached for the closest thing, the arms of the officer who caught her before she hit the ground. Red and white lights swirled above her and he helped her to the ground. Fighting for consciousness, Autumn had a strong desire to run, but all she could do was close her eyes and let the darkness take her.