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Choosing Theo: Chapter 1

“Two a.m.,” Jade groaned. She had to be up for work in six hours. “Why do I do this to myself?” she muttered.

It had never been easy for Jade to sleep. She envied people who were able to lay down and drift away to dreamland in a matter of minutes. Whenever she tried to sleep, her fatigued body was at odds with her active mind.

As a landscape designer, Jade could get away with both sleeping and working at odd hours. Her home office was a perfectly cultivated creative area, and the majority of her designs were produced there, rather than in a stifling office. It was not often that she was required to leave her home and venture into the world, and she preferred it that way.

Tomorrow she was scheduled to meet with a particularly wealthy client who wanted the yard of his lakefront home to resemble an authentic Japanese garden. Finding plants that resembled those found in the temperate climate of Japan, but could survive the humid subtropical climate of South Carolina, would be an interesting design challenge to say the least.

Looking at the mountain of half-finished sketches and cold mugs of coffee on her desk, she frowned.

She clicked off the T.V. and walked the few steps it took to get to her small kitchen. As she rinsed out her wine glass, she saw a flash of light through the window above her sink.

Odd. It wasn’t raining. She waited for the thunder, but none came.

Lightning storms weren’t uncommon in South Carolina. The flash she’d seen had been close though. Close enough that she should’ve been able to hear thunder.

She shrugged, setting her glass aside and made her way to her bedroom.


Jade’s body tensed midstep.


The initial panic at hearing the loud sound was replaced by annoyance. “Damn door,” she grumbled.

For weeks, the latch on her screen door had been broken. If she didn’t make sure to pull it closed in exactly the right way, it would end up opening and banging against its frame with the wind.

More than once this week she’d been jolted awake by the repetitive thud.

As she yanked the screen door closed, she looked toward the tree line at the edge of her property. No other flashes of light illuminated the sky, yet the night air was warm and humid. Maybe there was a storm on the way.

From the corner of her eye she saw movement in the darkness. A low rustling sounded from outside. She strained her ears. An animal of some kind, probably.

Reaching to her left, she flipped on the porch light, intending to scare away the furry intruder.

A human-sized reptilian creature stood in her yard instead.

Jade shrieked in horror and slammed the door closed. She bolted the lock and then hastily backed away. Her heel caught on the entry rug, and she toppled backward, arms windmilling.

A hideous, scaly face appeared in her porch window. The creature’s blood-red eyes scanned the room before focusing on her. Jade found herself paralyzed by fear, as she watched the face vanished from the window.

Regaining control of her limbs, she bolted toward her cell phone on the living room couch. A loud crash sounded behind her just before something large and heavy collided with her back. She laid face down on the floor, trapped under what she now realized was her own door.

Jade clawed at the floor, attempting to crawl out from beneath the door. In an instant, the weight of the door was gone and three enormous icy cold fingers were clutching at her shoulder, trying to turn her over.

Jade began kicking in the direction of the creature. Her knee connected with something hard, and she cried out in pain. The last thing she remembered before everything went black was an ear-splitting hiss and a fine mist being sprayed in her face.


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