From the Back Cover
One night, a chance encounter will change her life forever. Sloan crosses paths with a dangerous being. He is ancient. Evil. And she has caught his attention.
Sloan attempts to continue with day to day life but soon realizes that she has become his obsession. Not only does he stalk her by day, but he can enter her dreams, tormenting her while she sleeps.
Desperate, Sloan searches for answers. And time is running short.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Below you can read the first 10 pages of Dark Touch
CHAPTER ONE TOUCH
My fingers flew over the keyboard, contributing to the small orchestra of key strokes that echoed within the dismal office. The smell of burnt coffee and office paper hung on the air, bright florescent lights making everything appear over exposed. My eyes flicked to the clock on my computer—it was almost 5:15. Why did the last fifteen minutes of work always drag?
Schnakenberg and Associates was a small yet busy Seattle law firm, and I was lucky enough to have snagged the job of assistant to the executive assistant of small time defense attorney, Mark Schnakenberg. I usually left this small detail out when in conversation. It was ridiculous to say I was an assistant to an assistant, but—well, there you have it.
The sound of tinkling rain outside rose to a loud crescendo, thundering noisily over the office chatter. I rolled my chair backward to peek around the dull cubical wall that surrounded my desk to watch the rain through one of the only windows that existed in the building. Wet streams poured down the glass, glistening like liquid silver. The perpetual rain and gloom of Seattle was an adjustment from Los Angeles, where the warm sun coated everything like sticky honey. Here, the deep grey storm clouds always seemed so close. The constant rain created a dark world, filled with delicate strands of emerald grass that swayed beneath a stormy sky. I watched the water pour down, dumbfounded that a year had already passed since I left home. An unwanted rush of memories flooded my mind, tightening my throat.
The overweight form of my boss and his skinny red-haired executive assistant snapped me back into the present. Mark Schnakenberg barreled down the aisle, barking instructions as Penny tittered behind him balancing a huge stack of paperwork. Mark Schnakenberg had greasy dark hair which was combed to the side, and every day without fail, he wore the most disgusting putrid green tie.
I immediately rolled back into my cubicle and began typing frantically, trying to look busy. Mark passed by quickly. Penny, on the other hand, stopped outside of my cubicle, a tight smile on her face.
“I can’t tell what you accomplish more Sloan,” she said. “Work or day dreaming.” Penny had an annoyingly high voice and typically addressed people as if they were petulant children.
I turned and plastered a smile on my face. “Work of course, Penny.” She snickered, still holding the gigantic stack of paperwork. Penny Pidanskey was tall and painfully thin, her red hair pulled back in a tight bun. Her business outfits were typically devoid of color, which didn’t help her complexion. She was extremely pale, and not in the good way like when people use the words fair or porcelain. It literally seemed as if she was drained of all color.
“We are doing important work, Miss Stolar,” she chided. “Upholding the law, keeping clients out of jail and here you are, watching the rain.”
She waited, expectant. My eyes flicked to the clock again. Five-twenty. Ten more minutes.
“Is there something I can help with, Penny?” I asked, politely. “Well, Mark and I just left a very important disposition and I will need you to finish these before the end of the day.” She slapped the stack of paperwork on my desk. “Now, when you are finished kindly place them on my desk and I will review them on Monday.”
I looked at the huge mound of paperwork. My heart fell. It would easily take several hours. “Penny, it’s Friday night.” Not that I had any plans. I was just going to make the long drive home and spend the night working on art like usual, but still. Was she serious?
“Well then, you had better get started!” She began walking away and then stopped. “Oh, and one last thing, Sloan. Mark drinks a VENTI CAPPUCCINO. Not a latte. Not a mocha. CAP-PU-CCINO.” She enunciated every syllable. “I always have a tall black coffee. That cold blended thing you brought me this morning was just awful.”
We already had this discussion this morning—in front of the entire office. But of course, she wanted to go over it again—because the only thing she loved more than ugly clothes was to boss me around. “Okay, Penny. No problem.”
“So, you will get it right on Monday? Or do I need to write it down for you?” It took herculean effort to keep my face neutral. “No, I got it.” A smile popped on her face. “Great! See you Monday!” I scooted back up to my desk and rested my chin in my hand, brooding. It was 5:30. I could hear everyone in the office heading for the elevators. Leaving to meet friends at a bar, maybe go on a date, or simply go home to their families. I grabbed a hair tie from my bag and pulled my long black hair into a bun, and then reached for the mountain of paperwork. I didn’t mind working in an empty office. I liked being alone. It was familiar and oddly comforting. Being around a lot of people made me feel out of place. They always seemed to pester me with personal questions, which I in no way wanted to answer. Not that I was anti-social or anything.
It was still raining when I got to my car, an old white Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep was beat-up but ran great. I lived in Issaquah, a picturesque mountain town to the east of Seattle. The drive to and from the city was a little long, especially with traffic, but Issaquah was much more affordable than living in the city. Besides, there was something about the small town that caught my attention when I first moved here.
Despite the rain, the city brimmed with people. Wet droplets glistened off colorful umbrellas and galoshes that boldly poked through the gloom. The tall buildings stretched into the stormy night sky, city lights reflecting in the big black puddles that filled the slick roads. The traffic light up ahead flicked to red. I eased onto the breaks.
I looked at the city as I waited, noting how all the colors and lights mingled on the wet concrete like melted crayons.
That’s when I saw him. He stood to my left, at the corner of Marion and 5th, a homeless man soaked in the pouring rain. He held a limp cardboard sign, the words nearly washed away. He wore ragged clothes that hung loosely off his emaciated body.
I usually never did this. Maybe it was because Penny had been such a bitch to me today and I felt inspired to be a good person. I reached in my bag and fished for spare cash. I finally found a five hiding at the bottom, and I rolled down my window. I held it out to him, the cold rain splashing on my skin. He headed towards my car, walking slowly and with a limp. As he approached, I noticed that he had the strangest shade of white hair. It was cut close to his head, but the color was icy and pale, like snow.
He stood next to my window for a few moments, staring at me. His features were strange, his bone structure sharp and angular.
I shook the money. “Take it.” The man smiled slowly. Rain slithered down his face, pooling at the corners of his lips. He reached out but instead of simply taking the money, his entire hand wrapped around mine. I felt uncomfortable and quickly regretted my decision to help a stranger. I tried to slide my hand out of his, but his fingers tightened with a surprising amount of strength. And then, before I could do anything else, an electric current raced into my hand. It felt as if an invisible fire had left his fingers and entered my own. I gasped, jerking my arm back in an instinctive reaction to the pain. But the stranger held on, his grip unwavering. And the pain began to intensify.
A strangled little scream escaped my lips. “Stop! Let go of me! What are you doing?” I pulled my hand in earnest, using all my strength, desperate to unlock my hand from his. And then, the man began to laugh. The sound was coated with sinister intent. It was as if darkness had awoken and then crawled out of his mouth. One thought sprang to my mind—evil.
Chills went down my spine and my heartbeat increased to an alarming rate. I stopped trying to break his grip and looked up into his eyes. What I saw made my stomach warm with fear. The man’s eyes were now utterly black. The whites of his eyes, even his irises, were pitch dark. I stared into two fathomless pits.
I froze, my breath coming out in quick panicked gasps. And then, quickly and suddenly, he let me go. As he drew away, he trailed a finger down the back of my hand. I watched as he walked away from my car, eventually fading into the rainy night.
I sat in shock, my breathing and heart rate still much too fast. My left hand continued to burn. I cradled it to my chest, tears springing into my eyes. What the fuck just happened?
The blare of a car horn from behind made me jump. I realized that the light had finally turned green. I eased the car forward and made myself grip the wheel with both hands. My entire body trembled. I could feel a cold spot of sweat on my lower back.
“Shit, what the hell?” I said aloud. The rain thundered in a steady torrent as I turned onto the interstate. I felt extremely shaken and couldn’t seem to calm down. All I wanted was to get home. I pushed the car to nearly a hundred mph, which wasn’t smart considering the weather, but fuck it. The rain thundered loudly on my roof, the windshield wipers scraping continuously against the glass. The night had morphed into something menacing. The forest that lined the interstate even appeared ominous, with its dark shadows and gnarled branches that looked like hands, reaching for me.
To distract myself, I turned on the radio. Music flooded the silent car. My hand hurt, but even stranger, the pain was moving. It began at my fingertips and was steadily creeping up my arm. It was almost to my shoulder now.
I took in a deep breath and let it out, trying to calm down. Get a grip, Sloan. Slowly, I released my death grip on the steering wheel and let up off the gas, easing the car down to the speed limit. I flicked on the overhead light and unbuckled my seatbelt so that I could take off my rain coat. I rolled up my left sleeve and looked at my hand and arm. There was nothing visibly wrong. My pale skin was smooth. Normal. No marks, no bruises, nothing. It made me feel a little better, but my heart didn’t want to slow down. It beat violently, like a sledgehammer rhythmically pounding inside my chest.
I turned off the overhead light and focused on the road, trying to think about something else. Maybe if I did, my heartrate would return to normal. Happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. There wasn’t much to pull from. My mind typically orbited planet morbid. I took in another deep breath, let it out slowly, and thought about my house in Issaquah. It was the one thing that could usually cheer me up. It was a small house, at the end of a very long road in the mountains. At night, little lights peeked out from all different spots on the mountain side, giving away the locations of other homes that were nestled among the trees. Mine wasn’t much to look at. The outside was a faded gray color, and it only had one bedroom and one bathroom. Every room in the house was small, except for the garage, which was wide and spacious. I had turned it into an art room, always parking the Jeep outside on the long driveway.
Yellow tulips grew everywhere around it. There was a graceful cherry tree to the left of the driveway that sprouted bright pink blossoms in the spring. The kitchen was also very small, with barely any room to cook. But it had a window that faced the woods like a picture frame. All my furniture was mismatched, purchased at a few different garage sales.
As soon as I got home, I would go into the garage and work on some art, just like any other night, and everything would be fine. Everything will be fine. I repeated this over and over in my mind for the rest of the drive, desperately trying not to think about how his eyes had turned into pure, black, nothingness.
I parked the car and cut the engine, listening. The rain had finally stopped, the trees softly swaying in the night air. It took all my self-control not to run to the door. My eyes watched the shadows as I walked up the driveway, my heart still beating abnormally fast. I unlocked the front door with shaky hands, and then immediately locked it behind me. The house was completely dark. I hurriedly turned on all the lights and then went to the bathroom and undressed in front of the mirror.
My skin was creamy white, and no matter how I turned and twisted, I couldn’t find anything wrong. I leaned in closer, gently prodding the skin on my left arm and shoulder. The burning pain remained constant. It seemed to be radiating from beneath my skin, as if my blood had caught fire.
I yanked my jet-black hair out of the bun, letting it fall. It tumbled in waves down my back. My eyes were a vibrant hazel. I had full shapely pink lips, which right now were nearly quivering. I didn’t know what to think and felt extremely scared.
I pulled on some sweats and an oversized T-shirt, grabbed my cell phone and went into the garage. There were two shelves pressed against each wall, lined with art supplies. A worn old red couch was tucked in one corner, where I usually sat and outlined my next project. My favorite way to work was to open the garage door and listen to the rain, but tonight it would stay closed. There was an overhead light, plus two extra standing work lamps. I turned on all three and then sat on the couch, pulling my knees up to my chest.
I stared at my art project that lay in the center of the room. Lately I had been experimenting with gluing broken pieces of glass together to make a colorful mural. Off to the side was an easel and canvas, with a painting for art class half finished. I had planned to work on the painting all weekend, including tonight, as it was due next week. But I was too freaked out to paint.
I turned my cell phone over and over in my hand, debating on calling Millie, my one and only friend in Seattle. I moved here exactly one year ago, last October. Once I was settled, I signed up for the spring art class at Seattle University. Millie and I met in class during that first semester. It was the only subject I was enrolled in, but we had taken another class together over the summer and were currently enrolled in advanced art for the fall. Millie and her boyfriend Donovan were both full time students.
It was a little after eleven. She was most likely still awake, but at the moment I really didn’t feel like talking. Millie would immediately know something was wrong and would ask a million questions. There was no point worrying her. Especially over something I wasn’t even sure of myself.
I shuddered as I thought of the way his eyes had turned completely black. There had to be a way to reason through it. I racked my brain for a logical answer but came up with nothing. It was impossible for a person’s eyes to suddenly melt into black nothingness.
I lay down on the couch and curled into a ball. Why had he grabbed me like that? The whole thing happened so fast and was just so bizarre. Not only the way he had snapped, but the strange sensation I felt when our skin met. It felt like a strong forceful surge of electricity. And for some reason that I could not explain, I was still in pain. It started at my left finger tips, ran up my arm and shoulder, and was creeping towards my neck.
I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to tell myself that I was fine. I regretted my isolated life style. Being alone was something that I typically sought after and enjoyed. But now, I desperately wanted some company. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t manage to get the image of those black eyes out of my mind.
Exhaustion tugged at me. The garage was warm, and it was comforting to be home, surrounded by my art work. Gradually I relaxed, even though my heart was still beating too fast. The searing pain continued to slowly creep up my neck as I drifted off to sleep.
CHAPTER TWO KOI
I found myself plunged in complete darkness. I was standing on something soggy and wet, and there was a dripping noise all around like leaking water. I threw my hands out, blind in the darkness, and felt a smooth hard surface on either side of me. It must be a hallway. Cold liquid splashed over my hands—slithering in- between my fingers. Keeping my hands on the wet walls, I moved forward, my breath loud. And then, I felt the distinct presence of something lurking in the dark. It brushed against the back of my neck, like hot breath. I could feel its malintent, its hunger. Goosebumps broke across my skin. It snarled. I ran, keeping one hand against the wall for guidance. A sudden pale light glinted up ahead. I ran harder, my feet splashing on wet carpet. I had to get out, before the evil presence consumed me. It wanted me, so badly. It would take me and never let go. In a desperate burst of energy, I ran and then jumped towards the light, clearing the hallway and sliding onto a hard, white floor. I sat up and looked behind me.
The entrance to the hallway began to shrink, white marble closing over the darkness until there was nothing but a smooth wall. I felt a moment of relief until I looked at my hands. What I thought was cold water that splashed onto me, was in fact a thick black substance. It moved, snaking its way around my wrists and arms. A choked sound came out of my mouth. I scrambled to my feet, panic crawling up my throat.
I looked around desperately. I was in a perfectly square antechamber. The walls were smooth white marble, with gold designs woven across the ceiling. A gigantic black crystal chandelier hung in the center, directly over a small golden table. Sitting on top of the table was a bright red flower, its petals the color of blood. In each corner stood a golden mirror, the glass surfaces blank, not reflecting anything in the room.
The black substance continued to spread. It started to burn, as if hot tar had been poured over my skin. I screamed, frantically trying to pull it off. Suddenly, a white stairwell appeared at the far end of the room, each step rapidly emerging one-by-one out of thin air. I ran towards it and took the stairs two at a time. The stairs curled around and around, like a snail shell, taking me higher and farther away from the chamber.
The stairs brought me to another hallway. This one was lit, and I could see to the very end. Pieces of a bathroom were placed oddly against the far wall. There was a mirror, a sink, and a bathtub. I ran forward, ignoring the strangeness of it, hoping the water worked. The sink was broken in half, and the mirror was cracked. I hastily turned on the faucet. Water poured out and I plunged my hands under it, eager to wash away the black substance. But it was gone. My arms were bare. I looked up into the mirror, confused, and saw a man standing behind me. His eyes were black fathomless pits, his short hair the color of white snow. I froze. I continued to stare at him in the mirror. And then, my eyes began to change. Darkness bled into them, like ink spilling into clear water. Soon, my irises and sclera were both gone. My eyes now matched his perfectly. The man smiled.
I screamed, and my eyes snapped open. I was on my garage floor, drenched in cold sweat. My heart raced, my entire body trembling. I sat up, expecting to see the man with black eyes hovering in a corner. But the garage was empty, all three lights still on. I sat on the floor for a few minutes, trying to get my breathing back to normal. It had only been a dream, just a dream…a very realistic dream in which my eyes had turned black.
A sudden high-pitched sound made me gasp. My cell phone was ringing. It was on the floor, next to my foot. I quickly snatched it up, feeling stupid for being so freaked.
“Hello?” My voice sounded raspy. “Sloan! How is your painting coming along?” Millie asked brightly. “I hope well, because I could use some tips on how to use oil paint. I hate it! Acrylics are so easy to work with, but oil just globs onto the canvas. My colors keep mixing together when I don’t want them to! Why is professor Imperial making me work outside of my comfort zone? Is he trying to develop my skills as an artist or something?”
I rubbed my eyes and tried to focus on the conversation. “Seriously though, how are you doing with it?” she asked again. “I need help! And you know Donovan is no artist. He always has his nose buried in chemistry.” “Uh, actually I didn’t work on it at all last night,” I responded. “I didn’t get home from work until almost ten.”
“That office is going to suck the life out of you eventually, you do know that, right?” I smirked, the fear from the dream gradually receding in the wake of Millie’s bright personality. “Yeah, I know.”
“Hey, you want some Saturday morning Dim Sum? I can come pick you up— in like an hour?”
I couldn’t help but smile. Millie was constantly operating at a million miles a minute, dragging me enthusiastically along. It was what made her so, well, Millie. Being around her usually cheered me up. Which, at the moment I greatly needed. I still felt uneasy and anxious.
“Dim Sum sounds good.” “Perfect. I will see you soon. Wear something cute!” I snorted. “Bye.” I made my way into to the bathroom and turned on the light. Talking to Millie had made me feel a little calmer. I examined my eyes in the mirror, getting so close that the tip of my noise touched the glass. My eyes were totally normal. I let out a sigh and then laughed nervously. I felt ridiculous actually checking to see if my eyes had turned black.
I stared at my reflection. My hair was a tangled mess and there was still a hint of fear lingering at the edge of my eyes. This wasn’t me. I didn’t scare easily or panic when shit happened. I had moved to Seattle all by myself when I was only nineteen. My life in Los Angeles had been, well, extremely difficult.
Some would say that by coming to Seattle I had run away from my problems, and maybe that was accurate. Regardless, I had been through much worse and needed to get control of my emotions. With that resolution I got undressed and turned on the shower. The water was blissfully hot, and it helped clear my head. I reached for the shampoo and that’s when I felt it. The burning pain beneath my skin was throbbing fiercely and it was much stronger than yesterday. I had been distracted when I first woke up and had not noticed it. But now I could feel it distinctly and it had moved all the way up to my left temple. I stood in the shower motionless, the shampoo forgotten in my hand.
A warm ball of fear snuggled deep in my stomach. What does this mean? Whatever this strange pain was, it sure as hell was spreading fast. I told myself not to worry. If it was still present after Dim Sum, I would go to the hospital. It would be okay. In a few short hours it would be sorted out. I squeezed some shampoo into the palm of my hand and washed my hair, stubbornly ignoring the burning pain that was twisting its way beneath my skin.
Chinatown was bustling with people. It was a beautiful clear October day, around sixty degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. Millie zipped through the streets in her electric blue mini cooper, parking it on a side street a few blocks from the restaurant. We got out, savoring the sunshine and catching up as we walked the rest of the way. There were a lot of great places in the city, but Chinatown was one of my favorite spots. The accents of Asia were present in all the architecture.
Red and gold dragons curled around several rooftops, their sculpted faces frozen mid growl. There were dozens of shops and restaurants, each one unique, featuring items that were authentic to the culture. Multi-colored lanterns were strung over the streets, like whimsical balloons that would never float away. And the best part—the smell of hot food. It hung potently on the air, a promise of delicious Asian flavors and a full belly.
Millie and I didn’t need to look at the menu, we were dim sum experts. We ordered an assortment of shrimp, chicken, and pork dumplings, as well as Chinese broccoli, steamed white rice, warm pineapple buns, and a pot of hot green tea. I tried to enjoy the meal, despite the constant throb of pain beneath my skin and my abnormally fast heartbeat. It refused to slow down no matter what I was doing.
“I’m not exaggerating,” I said after swallowing half a pork dumpling. “It’s the nastiest color green, and he wears them every day.”
Millie laughed. “Do you think that maybe he is color blind?” I took a sip of green tea, smirking. “It’s a plausible theory. Although you would think that Penny would let him know that he is wearing something that is the color of vomit.”
“But aren’t her outfits disgusting too?” Millie asked with a smile. “She must be color blind too! And they shop together! The plot thickens.” I said. Millie burst out laughing. She had thick curly auburn hair that surrounded her head like a halo. Her eyes were a deep brown and her small nose had a splash of freckles, as if someone had sprinkled cinnamon over just that one spot. When I first met her, I immediately compared her to a very short and petite Julia Roberts—plus freckles.
She shook her head, a smile spreading across her wide mouth. “Why exactly did Penny keep you there until almost ten last night?”
“She literally dumped a ton of paperwork on my desk at five and demanded it be finished before I left.”
She took a huge bite of a pineapple bun. “Ugh, she is the worst. Hey so…Donovan’s cousin is coming into town. I hope you don’t mind but I told him about you. He is really cute.”
I frowned. “Thanks, but no thanks.” “Come on Sloan, you never date! Seattle guys are fun.” “How do you know I’m not already seeing someone?” She raised an eyebrow. “Because every time a hot guy has ever approached you I have heard you say the following two words—Fuck. Off.” She made little quotation marks in the air.
Millie was not exaggerating. Fuck off was my go to statement when guys tried to ask me out. It worked like a charm. “I can’t argue.”
“Damn right. You are way too pretty to be turning away sexy guys. Come on, just have a coffee with him.”
“No.” “It’s not like you have to marry the guy.” “You just want me to get laid?” “Pretty much,” she giggled.
I shook my head, grinning. “Thanks for looking out, but I’m not interested.” “Ugh fine. Well if you aren’t going to let me play match maker then you can come to Japanese Gardens with me today. No dating talk, I promise.”
“The gardens?” “Yes!” Millie rolled her eyes. “I need inspiration! There is no way I can do a Neo-Classical painting with oils, I can’t control where anything goes. I have no idea why I even picked that style, it’s too hard.” She put a finger in the air. “But then I thought, what if I changed to Impressionist? The colors are supposed to mix! Brilliant, right? I know, I’m a genius, but I need to take some pictures of flowers and water. Please, please come with me?”
“Will Professor Imperial let you change the art period?” The assignment was to pick a specific art style from the Rococo, Neo-Classical, Romanticism, or Impressionist period and create a painting based on the parameters of that particular style.
“Yes, thank god…he emailed me back this morning.” I thought about it for a minute. The pain drummed steadily beneath my skin. I needed to go to the hospital. Would it hurt to see a doctor a little later? As of now, the burning pain was not spreading any further.
Millie watched me think it over with puppy dog eyes, her hands pressed together in a silent prayer.
I smirked. “Fine, I will go with you.” She smiled brightly and then popped another pork dumpling in her mouth. “So, how is your Romanticism painting coming along? I love that period. So bold and dramatic and the colors are gorgeous. But it is such a complex style—I was impressed when you chose it—although not surprised. Your artwork is incredible.”
Art was the one thing that had always made sense to me. I had started drawing and painting when I was very young. There was something very calming and natural about filling a blank canvas with color. For me creating art was normal. Getting compliments for it was relatively new, and it occasionally made me feel awkward.
I shrugged and smiled slightly. “Thanks, um, the painting is coming together. I still have a lot of work to do before class Wednesday.”
Millie nodded. “Have you given any thought to taking more classes in the Spring? In addition to art?”
I shook my head. “No, I think art is all I want to take for now.” She nodded and grabbed the soy sauce. “Well, you’re only twenty. You have plenty of time to figure out college.”
That was the great thing about Millie. Even though her own world was operating at a million miles a minute, filled with her energetic personality, she was at heart a great listener, always understanding. She never pressed an issue and was extremely intuitive. It was the reason we had been able to become friends. Millie didn’t ask people personal questions, unless they brought it up first. She had never once asked me about my parents or why I was living in the city alone. Donovan was the same way, probably following Millie’s example.
Over the summer Millie had confided that she had been involved in a car accident when she was twelve. Her mom had been driving, and although Millie had been wearing a seatbelt, her mother had not. Her mom died instantly. Millie stayed in the car with her until the paramedics arrived. Millie somehow still managed to be a positive person, but I knew this was the reason she never asked people questions about their pasts, or their families. Thankfully, she and her father were close. I was glad that she at least had him. Not having any parents at all was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
The Japanese Garden was full of color. Pink cherry blossoms burst underneath deep green boughs, the bark of the trees a dark brown, still wet from the rain the day before. Delicate bridges arched over still ponds, the water so clear it was easy to see the tan and dark blue stones at the bottom. Japanese sculptures were scattered throughout, the light grey stone peeking through the greens of bamboo, maple and pine trees. Pink, purple, and yellow flowers shimmered like little stars tucked into the foliage. The presence of Fall wove throughout it all, orange and red swirling within the green.
Millie enthusiastically took pictures, her camera centering on the reflection of flowers and plants that hung close to the water. She looked like a woodland fairy, wearing a deep green tweed sweater, grey skinny jeans, and black UGGs. She blended in with the garden, her small figure making her look even more pixie like.
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