Title: The Dark Hour Author: J.F. Jenkins Genre: New Adult, Urban Fantasy Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
EVERYTHING WAS SET. THE windows were locked, and soon the doors would be as well. My best friend Linnea was preparing an extra ward on the front door to my apartment. Ideally, it would help keep away all the dark magical critters that wandered around during the Dark Hour. No guarantees, though, because she’s not my chosen Guardian, so her magic couldn’t protect me in all the ways it should. At least she was trying, which is more than I can say about the guy who was supposed to act as my Guardian. Key words supposed to be. He does his job, sure, but I think the only reason he ever shows up is because he knows he’ll be mauled by my parents if he doesn’t. Or what’s left of him, since I’m pretty sure Linnea would get to him first. “Three minutes until the Dark Hour,” Kendall said from the couch. He sat with his younger brother, trying to keep the kid calm by reading a book. Since Max is young enough to not understand the concept of time, it worked for the most part. He seemed pretty engrossed with the pictures. Much like me, I’m pretty sure Kendall’s skin was crawling. He’s a Keeper, as am I. Every night when the Dark Hour came, I felt like I wanted to scratch my flesh raw in anticipation. The disturbance in the dimensional field always made me uncomfortable. Gooseflesh prickled my arms and legs, uncontrollable shivers came next, and then there was the sensation of being watched by something dark and dangerous. I know Kendall felt it too because that was one of the many “perks” to being a Keeper. We know when there’s a shift between the real world and the magical one. It’s how we know when to do our job. Whatever that is — information we haven’t been told yet since we aren’t old enough to actually work. The Dark Hour, unfortunately, comes every night. It’s the one time of the day when we Keepers are helpless to stop the magical minions from entering a world where they’re not supposed to exist. Something about the way the magic shifts temporarily on the Other Side makes it strong enough for the cross over to happen. Doubly unfortunate because, of course, only the naughty, scary kind of magical beings ever do. Things like crazy faeries, goblins, dark witches, and these nasty giant red worms. “Two minutes,” Kendall whispered. “I don’t need a countdown,” I mumbled and plopped down next to him on the couch. I turned on the television and searched for something among the five-hundred-some stations to watch. Hopefully, I’d be able to find something that could drown out the obnoxious constant hum of powerful magic and the negative energy that would soon be filling the apartment. Linnea took in a deep breath. “Don’t worry Becca, I’ll do my best to protect you like you’re mine.” “I know,” I said softly. “But I don’t want it to come down to that. If something were to happen to you...” Kendall rolled his eyes. “Don’t act like your protection isn’t as important as mine. You know that’s not true. If even one of us is lost, it could all be over.” That was when Erik, my Guardian sauntered into the apartment, as casual as ever.