CANYONS OF NIGHT
This one is for Rex.
A Note from Jayne
Welcome to Rainshadow Island. You are about to discover a whole new aspect of the world of Harmony and learn some of the future secrets of the Arcane Society.
In the Rainshadow novels you will meet the passionate men and women who are drawn to this remote island in the Amber Sea. You will also get to know their friends and neighbors in the community of Shadow Bay. You are invited to be a part of their lives; lives which are deeply entwined with the island’s dark and mysterious history.
I hope you will enjoy the Rainshadow novels.
THE SMALL VEHICLE WAS TRAVELING TOO FAST ON THE narrow, twisted road that snaked along the top of the cliffs. Charlotte Enright heard the insectlike whine of the tiny flash-rock engine behind her and hastily stepped off the pavement onto the relative safety of the shoulder. A moment later one of the familiar low-powered Vibes that visitors rented to get around on the island careened out of the turn.
The driver hit the brakes, bringing the open-sided buggy to a halt beside her.
“Hey, look what we have here,” the man behind the wheel said to his two passengers. “It’s that weird girl with the glasses who works for that crazy old lady in the antiques store. What are you doing out here all by yourself, Weird Girl?”
There was enough light left in the late summer sky to illuminate the three young men in the car. Charlotte recognized them immediately. They had wandered into Looking Glass Antiques earlier in the day, drawn into the shop not because of an interest in antiques but by the rumors that swirled around her aunt.
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s dangerous to hang out on empty roads like this late at night?” the man in the passenger seat asked.
His voice echoed along the lonely stretch of road that led to the Preserve. The laughter of his two companions sent icy chills through Charlotte. She started walking. She did not look back. Maybe if she ignored the three they would leave her alone. She quickened her pace, walking faster into the rapidly deepening twilight.
The driver took his foot off the brake and let the Vibe coast slowly alongside Charlotte.
“Don’t run off, Weird Girl,” the one in the passenger seat called out. “We’ve heard that it gets a little strange out here after dark. Guy back at the bar guaranteed us that if we could get into the Preserve on a moonlit night like this we would see ghosts. You’re from around here. Why don’t you show us the sights?”
“Yeah, come on now, be friendly, Weird Girl,” the driver wheedled. “You’re supposed to be nice to tourists.”
Charlotte clutched the flashlight very tightly and kept her gaze fixed on the dark woods at the end of Merton Road.
“We’ll give you a ride,” the driver said, mockingly lecherous. “Come on, get in the car.”
“All we want you to do is show us this place they call the Preserve,” the one in the backseat urged. “From what we’ve seen today, there sure as hell isn’t anything else of interest on this rock.”
Charlotte wondered how the three in the car had found their way all the way out to Merton Road. Only the locals and the summer regulars were aware that the old strip of pavement dead-ended at the border of the private nature conservancy known as the Rainshadow Preserve.
The trio in the Vibe was a familiar species on Rainshadow during the summer months. The type typically arrived on the private yachts and sailboats that crowded the marina on the weekends. They partied heavily all night long in the dockside taverns and restaurants, and when the bars closed down they moved the parties to their boats.
“Come back here, damn it,” the driver ordered. He wore a pastel polo shirt that probably had a designer label stitched inside. His light brown hair had obviously been cut in an expensive salon. “We won’t hurt you. We just want you to give us a tour of the spooky places the guy in the bar told us about.”
“Forget the ugly little bitch, Derek,” the man in the backseat said. “No boobs on her, anyway. Trying to get into this Preserve is a waste of time. Let’s go back to town. I need a drink and some weed.”
“We came all the way out here to see the Preserve,” Derek insisted, his tone turning surly. “I’m not going back until this bitch shows us where it is.” He raised his voice. “You hear me, weird bitch?”
“Yeah,” the man in the passenger seat said. “I want to see the place, too. Let’s make the bitch show us.”
Charlotte’s pulse pounded. She was walking as swiftly as she could. Any faster and she would be running. She was very frightened but her feminine intuition warned her that if she ran the three men would be out of the Vibe in an instant, pursuing her like a pack of wild animals.
“Is she ignoring us?” the man in the passenger seat asked. “Yeah, I think she’s ignoring us. That’s just flat- out rude. Someone needs to teach her some manners.”
“Damn right, Garrett,” Derek said. “Let’s get her.”
“This is stupid,” the man in the backseat said. But the other two paid no attention to him.
Derek brought the Vibe to a stop and jumped out. Garrett followed, and so did the man in the rear seat, albeit with obvious reluctance. Charlotte knew that she had no choice now but to run. She fled toward the woods at the end of Merton Road.
Derek and Garrett laughed and gave chase. Her only hope was to reach the dark trees up ahead. If she could get even a short distance into the Preserve she might be able to lose the three behind her. It was common knowledge on the island that things got very strange inside the Preserve.
There were risks to the strategy. She might get lost, herself. It could be days before she was found or managed to stumble out on her own, if ever. According to the local residents it was not unheard of for people to disappear for good inside the Preserve.
The pounding footsteps got louder. Derek and Garrett were gaining on her. She could hear their harsh, angry