Read Echoes in the Dark Online

Authors: Robin D. Owens

Echoes in the Dark

Praise for the
novels of

ROBIN
D. OWENS

“Strong
characterization combined with deadly danger make this story vibrate with
emotional resonance. Stay tuned as events accelerate toward the final battle.”


Romantic
Times BOOKreviews
on
Keepers of the Flame

(Book Four of
The Summoning)

“Fans
of Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey will appreciate the novel’s honorable
protagonists and their lively animal companions.”


Publishers
Weekly
on
Protector of the Flight

(Book Three of
The Summoning)

“[A]
multi-faceted, fast-paced gem of a book.”


The
Best Reviews
on
Guardian of Honor

(Book One of The
Summoning)

“The
story line is action-packed but also contains terrific characters…Robin D.
Owens enchants her readers.”


Affaire
de Coeur
on
Guardian of Honor

“Owens
takes…elements that make Marion Zimmer Bradley’s
Darkover
stories
popular…and turns out a romance that draws you in.”


Locus
magazine

“Owens
excels at evocative, sensual writing.”


Romantic
Times BOOKreviews

Other books in

The
Summoning series

available
from

ROBIN
D. OWENS

and
LUNA Books

Guardian
of Honor

Sorceress
of Faith

Protector
of the Flight

Keepers
of the Flame

ECHOES IN THE
DARK

ROBIN D. OWENS

 

 

To the Song that
moves within us all.

“Poets are the hierophants of an
unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity
casts upon the present.”

—Percy
Bysshe Shelley

Contents

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46

47

AUTHOR NOTE

CAST OF
CHARACTERS

Luthan/Jetyer
Cut Scene

Exotique
Meeting Cut Scene

First rough
draft of Chapter 1

Jikata
Chevalier Cut Scene

 

1

Ghost
Hill Theater, Denver, Colorado

Late
August, Night

J
ikata was taking
her last bow on stage and soaking in applause when her great-grandmother died.
The odd thing was that Jikata actually felt Ishi Yamuri pass away in one of
those increasing moments of hyperawareness. As if the old woman touched Jikata
with her stubborn disapproval even as others yelled and clapped.

The
bond with her great-grandmother vanished. Ishi hadn’t waited to see Jikata
tomorrow, the date Ishi herself had insisted upon.

Jikata
had added her old hometown of Denver to her touring schedule because she’d
sensed her great-grandmother’s time was near, though she hadn’t heard from the
woman in years.

Suddenly
the applause, the only thing that had satisfied Jikata for a long time, rang
hollow and empty. Like the rest of her life.

Jikata
lowered her head, closed her eyes against the lights made brighter by tears.
Then she stepped back on the polished wooden stage and let the heavy maroon
velvet curtains descend.

The
crowd whistled and clapped louder, but she had no more to give. This final
event—the reopening of a newly renovated small Victorian theater—was the last
in her tour. Fitting.

Her
career was skyrocketing. She neared the pinnacle of success for a pop singer, a
female half-Japanese no less, and found herself alone and panting after the
climb.

Her
life was tanking. Fans adored her. No one loved her. No man, no good friend female
or male, no child. As her great-grandmother would have said, her soul was
withering from lack of nourishment.

Applause
came from stage right and the philanthropist behind the renovation strode
forward, beaming, accompanied by his wife. Jikata pasted a smile on her face,
hoping that it might turn into the real thing since she usually enjoyed the
company of Trenton Philbert III. He stopped clapping and held out a hand and
she put hers in it. “Great job. Definitely the next star. I’m looking forward
to that last zoom to the top.” He squeezed her hand and let it go.

The
praise warmed her a little. “Thank you.”

“You
did the inaugural event of the Ghost Hill Theater proud. Thanks again for
agreeing to perform. We sold out.” He glanced around, the backstage was still
shiny with cleanliness and held the faint scent of wood stain. “This place
should be good for another hundred years.”

“It’s
a lovely theater,” Jikata said. Now. She could remember when it had been a
ruin.

He
radiated satisfaction. Turning to his wife behind him, he said, “We have a gift
for you. Darling?”

Juliet
Philbert stepped forward with a large fancy birdcage fashioned like the Taj
Mahal. Jikata gritted her teeth…no, please, not a bird. Her great-grandmother
had kept finches when Jikata had been younger. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I—”

Then
the bird opened its beak and pure liquid notes warbled out, like nothing Jikata
had ever heard. As if it were more than song, a communication. The bird didn’t
look like any she’d seen before, either. All scarlet red, but with a fancy
cockatoo comb of red, yellow and white. About the size of a cockatoo, also. It
fixed a yellow eye on her and let loose another stream of notes. This time
sounding a lot like the underlying melody of the last ballad she’d sung. Jikata
blinked.

“Her
name is Chasonette,” Juliet said. “She’s a Lladranan cockatoo and has the most
beautiful birdsong in the world. She’s quite rare, but I knew such a lady would
be perfect for you. And Trent indulged me.” She thrust the cage at Jikata, so she
took it. It was lighter than she’d thought.

Juliet
tucked her hand into Trenton’s elbow and he covered her fingers with his own,
shaking his head as he looked down at his wife. “I always indulge you. The bane
of my existence.” He kissed her temple. “People say I’m going soft.”

Fast
footsteps came from backstage and Juliet’s assistant, Linda, who appeared
distressed, hurried to them. Jikata remembered, and the small moment of
normality shattered.

“I’m
sorry.” Linda stopped, inhaled a breath that raised her thin chest. Looked at
the Philberts, hesitated and said, “I’m sorry. I have bad news. We
should…ah…let’s go to your dressing room.” Linda pulled Jikata backstage, past
the greenroom and into the star’s dressing room. The Philberts followed.

The
small room was elegant in cream and white, but four people made it crowded.
Jikata placed the birdcage on the dressing room table. Chasonette stepped
nervously back and forth on her perch, then apparently caught sight of herself
in the mirror and preened.

Linda
led Jikata to the cream brocade Victorian fainting couch that took up most of
one end wall. She figured she had to sit. The moment she did, Linda released
her hand—a blessing since both their palms were sweaty.

Linda
grabbed a box of tissues from the dressing table and dropped it in her lap. “I
got a call. Your great-grandmother has died, Jikata.”

“I
was supposed to visit her tomorrow,” Jikata said, still shocked.

“Sorry,”
repeated Linda. She was a young intern with the University of Southern
California who’d traveled with Jikata during the two-month tour. Though they’d
managed well enough, neither of them expected the job to transform into
anything more.

“She
was an old woman and had a good life.” Isn’t that what Jikata was supposed to
say? “I want to be alone,” she choked out.

“Of
course. We’ll take care of your crew and fans.” Juliet, patting Jikata on the
shoulder, trilled her tongue. Chasonette perked up and warbled a low, soothing
melody. “I’m sure you don’t want to attend the opening gala.”

“No,
I don’t.” It had completely gone from her mind.