Forgotten Relics #0
Zara Carter has never fit in at in Runaway Heights, a secret community of teens hiding from their own personal hells. No one has been worth the risk of opening her heart. After years of strangers and hurt, it’s safer to keep it locked up.
Things would’ve stayed that way had it not been for the inkpen, a device that pushes Zara’s artistic talents firmly into the realm of magic. The tattoos she creates come to life, and each design gives her a taste of her deepest desire: a heart filled with hope and love.
But power like that doesn’t go unnoticed. Assigned to the classified Supernatural Cases Division, Agent 97’s feelers are out, searching the decaying industrial town for a wild girl with a remarkable talent that could change the world.
If only he could catch her.
Inkchanger started as a standalone young adult novel but turned into a prequel for the Forgotten Relics series. See what happens to Agent 97 and other characters in The Transmigration of Cora Riley and The Sword of Souls!
This glorious mindfork of a book is chock-full of compelling characters, deliciously chosen words, and a powerful driving story line.
5-star Amazon review
Excerpt: Zara and the Inkpen
Eric sighed. Picking up the inkpen as a gift for Zara had seemed like an awesome idea at the time; now it seemed like another bullet point on an eventual restraining order.
He was halfway to the trashcan with it when the door popped open and the girls strolled in, their hair damp from the showers. The smell of tangerine shampoo cut through the workshop’s acrid metal and oil reek like an incredibly girly invasion as they crossed to the bench where Eric stood frozen in mid-toss. He pulled his hand back in a not terribly smooth recovery and laid the inkpen on the table next to him. Too late now.
“Hey, ladies!” he chimed. “Check it.” He gestured grandly at the instrument like a gameshow bimbo displaying a brand new car.
Zara kept her eyes down and pretended to be more interested in a rack of industrial glue than Eric, but Sofi lit up when she spotted the device. She rushed over and held it aloft.
“Holy shit!” she breathed. “Z, look!”
With a petulant huff, Zara obligingly lifted her eyes. A reverse eclipse of sheer delight slid across her face.
With a squee of abandon, she sprung forward, barely crossing the intervening distance in her excitement, and snatched the inkpen from Sofi. The cool metal of the barrel slid like quicksilver through her eager fingers as she rolled it in her hands. All this time of lusting after the inkslingers’ trade and she finally had a pen in her hot little paws. A whole new art form waited in the little casing – something more permanent and more real than anything she’d done before. She couldn’t wait to use it. Glee drenched her brain, and she giggled as she bounced around wildly, like a brainiac getting a full ride to Harvard. She peeled out in unselfconscious laughter, grinning to show all her teeth. She spun around and leapt into Eric’s arms, squeezing out all her thanks and happies in a bear hug as strong as her thin frame could manage.
Wait a minute.
Eric’s eyes bulged.
Sofi held her breath.
The sound of gates slamming in Zara’s heart was practically audible in the silence, the aftershocks making her tremble. Geologically slowly, she unwound herself from around Eric’s chest, feeling the inviting heat of him dissipate from her cheeks as she backed away.
One step. Two steps. Three. Bump into the workbench. Silence. Awkward, statically-charged silence.
Sofi was the first to recover. “So, uh, you found this in the dumpster?” she asked Eric, pointedly ignoring Zara as the other girl retreated and heaved enormous panic-stricken breaths to calm herself.
But he was staring at Zara, brow furrowed and mouth open in a confused mix of curiosity and alarm. Sofi had to repeat her question a couple of times and snap her fingers in his face before he would stammer an answer.
“Hrm? Oh, yeah. Dumpster.”
He shook himself and refocused on Sofi. “It was pretty beat up but still salvageable. Good news is it’s in perfect shape now. Bad news is I have no idea why it doesn’t work.”
“And how exactly does that equal perfect shape?”
“Well, it looks right, you know? It’s charging, and all the pieces are in place, but it won’t power up.”
Sofi snorted. “Some mechanic.”
As they groused at each other, Zara looked down at the inkpen still clenched in her white-knuckled grip. That couldn’t be right. It definitely worked; she could feel the electricity. Looking down, though, the short power cord was forlornly dangling at her waist, several feet from the nearest outlet. Curiosity overcame the hug-nausea. She flicked the power switch to “on.” A soft buzzing vibrated her hand. The sound layered over itself, overcoming the drone of the workshop’s passive appliances, and stealthily filled the room.
“What the fuck’s that noise?” Eric said, turning to see if one of the computers had suddenly decided to commit suicide.
Zara held up the purring device as a tiny droplet of red ink plopped onto the concrete floor. “Works.”