Descendant – Snippet 1

Descendant: The Kacy Chronicles, Book 1

By A.L. Knorr and Martha Carr

Snippet 1

Unedited

What if finding the truth means you’re not who – or what – you think you are?

Born to a wealthy Virginian family, privileged Jordan’s got her life all planned out. Get her Ph.D. in forensic linguistics, make her State Senator father proud, find the perfect Richmond man to marry and pop out a few more Kacy’s.

If only Jordan could let the past rest.

When your mother disappears without a trace it carves a gash that bleeds a long time. Jordan has never given up hope that her mother is alive. So when Jordan’s old nanny shows up with a mysterious locket with a portrait of her mother painted inside, she believes her hope was not in vain.

When the locket opens a portal to an alternate universe and a stranger hurtles through to earth, it’s not her first clue that something very strange is at play. Teaming up with Sol, a disgruntled courier who’s lost his wings, Jordan embarks on a haphazard quest. Facing off with interfering barmaids, terrifying harpies, and disorganized elves with a penchant for inventing magic they can’t reverse is only the beginning.

Can Jordan find her mother and learn the truth about her disappearance? And what happens if the truth is far from what she expected?

Urban fantasy writer A.L. Knorr (author of the Elemental Origins Series) teams up with thriller author Martha Carr (who brought you the suspense-filled Wallis Jones Series) to bring you an exciting new series in the popular Prophesies of Oriceran Universe. You won’t want to miss this rollicking fantasy adventure!

Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Two hundred eighty years before Virginia became a state, a pair of tiny gnomish hands dug into the rich soil of what would one day become plantation land outside of Richmond.

Under the cover of darkness, under a sky speckled with stars, a silent gnome pressed the seedling of an oak into its forever home in the earth. Gingerly he held the stem upright, and lovingly he snugged the earth around it.

He uttered an enchantment over the sprout and its tender leaves glowed momentarily. The gnome drew symbols into the air and a hole in the air slid open – the veil between the worlds temporarily rent. The passage was just large enough to accommodate him. He squeezed through and disappeared, leaving the seedling alone. The wind blew through its unremarkable leaves and branches, now one of thousands indistinguishable from the rest.

The oak grew, reaching its mighty branches to the sky in a slow relentless march, a humble force of nature, its secrets locked away. A silent giant and sentinel of the forest, it would weather storms and wars, slavery and prosperity. Presidents and movie stars would wax and wane, and still it grew.

Still, it waited.

CHAPTER ONE

Jordan steered her BMW convertible onto the narrow paved road, the last turn before she reached the driveway of the Kacy plantation, her family’s summer home in Hanover County, Virginia, tomato capital of the South.

Branches of towering oaks crisscrossed over the narrow lane, making a welcoming arch for the home stretch. Cicadas buzzed and frogs belted tunes from the swamps on either side of the road. They were feeling the change in energy floating through the air—chirping and squawking, as though in anticipation of something. Lines of sunlight flashed over the car through gaps in the canopy overhead, the sounds lost in the background.

Jordan inhaled deeply in the humid air and pushed her sunglasses back into her blond hair. The stress from defending her thesis for her masters in forensic linguistics finally began to melt away. She was free for the summer. Free to work in the garden, hang out with her father, go horseback riding, and maybe arrange a long hike in the Appalachians with her friends.

Jordan’s eyes dropped to the clock on her console. Her dad should be waiting for her by the time she arrived. As though on cue, her phone chirped from its holder. Allan Kacy, State Senator to most, “dad” to Jordan. She tucked her Bluetooth into her ear and pressed the answer button on her steering wheel.

“Hey, Dad.” She was unable to keep the grin out of her voice. “I’m less than five minutes away.”

“Hi, Peaches,” came Allan’s throaty bass. “I’m running behind. Got caught up with a lobbyist this afternoon and am still stuck on an issue with her.”

“Daaaaaaaad.”

“I know, I know. I’m almost done, I promise. I’ll be hitting the road shortly. Can’t wait to see you.”

Jordan slowed the convertible as she approached their driveway and steered the car up to their aluminum mailbox. She opened the box and caught a week’s worth of flyers and newspapers as they tumbled out. “Want me to start a fire?” She tossed the load of mail onto the passenger’s seat and her eye caught on a white delivery notice. She picked it up and scanned it.

“It’s June, baby. Is that really necessary?”

“No, it isn’t. But you know how cozy it makes the place. Hey, there’s a delivery for you at the post office. Did you order something?”

The phone went silent.

“Dad?”

“Um…”

Jordan laughed. “What is it this time? A helmet from the Boer War or a pair of boots worn by General Marshall?” Allan was a collector of war memorabilia. There was an entire upstairs room at the plantation dedicated to his obsession. If you were brave enough to quiz Allan on either WWI or WWII trivia, you’d better be prepared to settle in for a long night.

“Wait till you see it,” Allan said, and his voice sounded totally different. Younger. Full of life. “It’s a real piece of work. I was lucky to find it, actually.”

“Sounds expensive,” Jordan said. “You only say that when you’ve spent more than a grand.” Jordan hit the remote fastened to her sun visor and the wrought iron gates began their slow squeaky journey open. She steered the convertible through the narrow entrance and down the long, potholed driveway. “Still don’t get why you didn’t become a history prof, Dad.”

“There’s no money in teaching history,” Allan scoffed.

“Well, not our kind of money,” said Jordan as she pulled up in front of their towering heritage home. “But you might have been happier.”

“I’m not unhappy, Peaches. But I do have to go. I’ll catch up to you soon, okay?”

“Kay, Dad. See you in a bit.” Jordan hung up and frowned. Allan wasn’t happy, actually, he just didn’t want to admit it to his daughter. Going into politics had been his father’s decision, not his.

She took her earpiece out, threw it into her bag, grabbed the stack of mail and got out of the convertible. Taking the front steps two at a time, Jordan paused to sniff the wisteria that had a strangle-hold on the fat marble columns gracing their front porch. She used her key to let herself in through the wide double-doors. She crossed the foyer and purposefully stepped on the squeaky floorboard, smiling at the familiar sound. She tossed the mail on the huge round table in the center of the foyer. Fresh peonies, multi-colored and more than anyone could ever fit their arms around, perched in a large crystal vase in the center of the table. Jordan leaned over the table to take a whiff. Cal, their grounds-keeper, had probably left shortly before she’d arrived. He always set out some impressive bouquet whenever Jordan and Allan were coming to the house.

Jordan slipped into the small bathroom tucked under the wide curved staircase and took out her contacts. Her eyes were instantly grateful for the fresh air. Her reflection in the small mirror went blurry and Jordan fumbled in her bag for her glasses case. The world came back into focus as she put on her trendy specs with the black frames. It was impossible for her to navigate the world without either them or her contacts.

She went through the broad archway into the sitting room, a massive space filled with clusters of antique furniture and one big fireplace. An antique crank gramophone sat on a table under a window, gathering a fine crop of dust. Jordan’s mother had loved antiques and according to Allan, the gramophone had been one of her favourite pieces.

Jordan heard the fire crackling before she saw it, or felt its heat.

“You beauty, Cal,” she said to the middle-aged fellow who was still down on one knee in front of the fire, poking at the logs with a poker. Cal was a small wiry man with dark brown eyes and deep laugh lines. He could do anything with plants, and kept the Kacy plantation manicured all by himself. It was a full-time job.

He looked up and winked. “Miss Kacy,” he nodded. “How did your exams go?”

“Really well, thanks, Cal. It’s nice to still find you here. How’s the wife?”

His phone dinged from the front bib of his denim coveralls. “Impatient,” he chuckled. “I’ll be heading out now. Just didn’t want to leave the fire unattended.” He got to his feet stiffly, lifted his cap from his head, and scratched his forehead. “Allan working late?”

“Seems so,” said Jordan, coming to stand in front of the fire. The heat wasn’t remotely necessary, so Cal set the flue open to let the bulk of it escape. Cal had been keeping the grounds for the Kacy family since Jordan was in diapers, and knew that she loved to have a fire in the parlor in the evenings. “He’ll be along soon. You go home. Have a good weekend.” She reached out and squeezed his arm. “Thanks for the fire.”

He touched a finger to the brim of his cap. “Welcome. Have a good time with your pa.”

Jordan stood watching the flames and chewing her lip for a while after Cal left. Her eyes drifted to the mantel, where a collection of family photographs stood, making the slow journey into becoming artifacts of history. Her mother’s face smiled down from the cluster, impossible to ignore with its otherworldly beauty: accepting a bouquet after winning the Miss Virginia pageant, in a debutant dress, bare-shouldered and with an arm looped through Jordan’s grandfather’s elbow – Declin Richard Kacy. Tantalizing in a strapless cream gown with dusty-pink tea-roses at the nape of her neck, Jaclyn had the kind of face and figure only found in magazines and on movie screens. A tall and leggy brown-eyed blonde with high cheekbones and a pouty mouth, Jaclyn had won several pageants, modelling contracts, and the role of spokesperson for an environmentally friendly beauty brand. When Jaclyn, the sweetheart of Richmond, met Allan Kacy (at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new children’s hospital) they seemed destined for a happy ending and a house full of exquisitely beautiful children, living along stately River Road — or at least nestled somewhere in the West End.

Jordan selected one of the photographs and took it down – the black and white portrait of her mother in the antique silver frame. She brushed away the dust with her sleeve. She gazed into the dark brown doe-eyes and frowned. “What happened to you, Mom?” she whispered. It was the question of Jordan’s young life.

Jaclyn had disappeared when Jordan was not yet three, and Jordan no longer knew if the faint memories she had of her mother were real or figments of her imagination. A long-familiar pang struck Jordan in the heart, and her throat closed up, more for her father than for herself. But still, what kind of woman would Jordan have been if she had been raised by Jaclyn? Jaclyn had been beloved. Allan had only ever spoken of her wit, her wisdom, and her sweetness.

There had been no note, suicide or otherwise. There had been no signs of a struggle, and no body had ever been found. Jaclyn’s Porsche had still been parked in the garage, the engine cool. Her bike was still hung on the rack along with the others. Her luggage was stowed in the attic, all of her clothing still hanging and folded in her closets. The only indication that Jaclyn had even left the house was that the back door had been left open. The old plantation property had miles of forests and farmland to the west and south, swampland to the east, and the interstate to the north. The old well was still covered with a concrete slab, and the pond at the rear of their yard had been dragged three times over. How far could she have gone when leaving the house on foot?

According to Allan, and the investigator leading the missing persons case, it seemed as though Jaclyn had literally disappeared without a trace. The only factors the investigators had to go on was that Jaclyn was still struggling with fairly serious post-partum depression, even two years after Jordan had been born. So where did that leave the Kacy family? “Nowhere, that’s where,” Jordan muttered, putting the photograph back on the mantel.

From A.L.>>> When Martha Carr and Michael Anderle asked me if I’d be interested in writing in their new Urban Fantasy universe ORICERAN, I did not hesitate to answer with a very enthusiastic YES! Descendant has been an absolute blast to write and I have big things planned for these characters. Can’t wait to hear what you think!