Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood knew exactly what he wanted. Until he got it.
Jack was content to stay unnoticed by pretty and popular track-star, Natalie Segetich, until he overhears her claim that something took her friend Emma. As a soulshifter who can cross into the underworld, Jack knows the human-stealing Enuuki—hell's messengers—are real and that a successful rescue mission would secure a future otherwise out of his reach. Working together, Jack and Natalie devise a plan to outwit the ruler of the underworld. Then on the eve of the quest, as Jack stands on the verge of seeing his dreams come true, he realizes he's no longer sure what he wants. But it's too late to back out. Pursued by the dark lord's henchmen and ghastly mutant creatures, Jack and Natalie struggle to come out ahead in a battle and barter for souls. In the end, Jack will have to decide his own fate, because nothing short of a deal with the devil will get all three of them out of hell alive.
They pulled into the parking lot and the surprising number of cars—especially so early—added fuel to Jack's nerves. The simple ceremony wasn't supposed to be a full-blown sect event, yet inside, twice the amount of people he'd expected had already claimed seats in the large meeting area as more trailed through the door.Jack took Natalie's hand as they wove through the people and down an aisle to the front. He flipped a reserved sign so it hung over the back of the chair and motioned for her to sit. Then he did the same for himself and sat down next to her.Natalie glanced at his knee which was jigging up and down. "Nervous?"Jack bobbed his head. "Yeah, maybe more than I was aware of. Funny, the last time I was the focus of a ceremony, I was nine, and I loved it.""Probably because that time you weren't about to risk your life." Her voice sounded odd.Jack studied Natalie's face, taking in the small creases in her forehead and the tense set to her lips. "Hey, are you okay?"She nodded without looking at him. "All these people." She scanned the room. "They all believe, don't they?"Jack frowned. "Believe...""In the underworld." Her voice was so low, he almost didn't hear her. She didn't wait for an answer. "It makes what we're doing so real all of a sudden." She swallowed. "It's overwhelming."Jack opened his mouth but she must have guessed what was coming because she spoke before he could say anything. "It doesn't change anything. As long as you're going, I'm going with you."He could hardly tell her not to worry when his own anxiety was off the charts, so instead he wrapped his hand around hers and squeezed gently. She held on tightly for a moment and then relaxed her fingers. As he released Natalie's hand, Jack raised his head and his gaze fell on Shera, sitting directly across the oval, her eyes on him. He felt a flush of shame, as if he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but Shera smiled and gave a low-handed wave. He managed a return smile, the butterflies in his stomach doubling. Did she know her father had talked to his father?
After years in the corporate world, Barbara found herself with a second chance to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her lifetime love of books and the written word returned one answer: writer. Drawing from her experience with technical writing, she began by writing non-fiction magazine pieces and achieved both regional and national publication. Her success encouraged her to complete a novel. She learned much from her first manuscript, critiques, books, contests, and blogs. In 2012, her novel Thunderstone, was a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and won a critique by Publisher's Weekly. A few months later, she was offered publication by Scribe Publishing Company.
Barbara has a few other novels in the works, including a Thunderstone sequel. If she's not reading or writing, Barbara likes to walk, garden, and sew. She works in a library and lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with her husband, daughter, and their cat – who often acts like a dog.