TITLE: Dark Ambitions
GENRE: New Adult Historical Fantasy
Id never seen a dead body before. The old woman lay lifeless on the forest floor, a cluster of wild mushrooms still gripped in her fist, her half-filled basket knocked over.
Wait. Damon turned up his collar against the oncoming rain, fat drops staining his oiled cloak. What do you see?
I looked at the corpse. Or was it a corpse? For all I knew, it could be some old lady Damon hired to play the part. Would she jump up when I touched her? Was this some kind of initiation prank?
There was only one way to find out. I bent down to roll her onto her back. Dual puncture marks on her throat, pale skin, no signs of struggle.
What else do you see? he said.
A second set of track marks. Smaller. Barefoot.
What else, Chago?
I searched the clearing for something I missed, something to satisfy Damon.
My entire future weighed on my answers. I had passed all the written exams, but the field test was the deciding factor. If I failed this, there would be no second chance for me. Id never even considered doing anything else with my life. Would I have to go home, a failure before I even started?
The pressure shut down my brain.
Close your eyes, Damon said.
A rare hint. I squeezed my eyes shut. The pungent odor of decay assaulted my nose. No mistaking that smell this woman was dead. Another scent lingered behind, rancid like rotting meat.