The Ruby Key and @VickyBurkholder

Yay!! I snagged Vicky for my blog, and she has a new book coming out. SQUEE!! She shared a sneak peek with me. Come check it out....

**Love this sexy cover, btw**

For centuries, four women have held the keys to Lemuria, a land where magic is real. They and their Protectors are all that stand against The Brotherhood, a group of exiles who want to return to Lemuria and take control of the gateway between realms.

Phoebe, Keeper of the ruby key, lost her lover and Protector, Ryan, to murder. The Powers That Be saddled her with a dorky salesman. That is, until Zack arrives on the scene. With his Scandinavian good looks, he is the essence of what a Protector should be, but he is a loner and wants nothing to do with magic. Magic is what got his brother killed. Phoebe wants nothing to do with him as a protector, but he draws her in ways Ryan never did.

Edward is the epitome of a British gentleman and shows Phoebe the genteel side of life, but Edward has a past, and an agenda. He is the leader of the Brotherhood and if he controls Phoebe, he will control everything—and destroy it all.

The past, present, and future all come crashing down to one moment. Only Phoebe can make the choice—and her choice will determine the fate of several worlds.
They lost the battle once before. This time, will love really conquer all?

After everyone had gone, Phoebe settled at her desk in her office. She didn’t feel like socializing with the others and knew they’d lock up when they left. She opened her accounting books and sat there and stared at them. This was what she did on Mondays. She paid bills and took care of ledgers and paperwork. Normal stuff. But the numbers eluded her today. Nothing was adding up. Her mind drifted to Zack. He was gorgeous in a Scandinavian sort of way. Tall, broad-shouldered, blond hair, blue eyes. She could picture him at the helm of a Viking ship, or wielding Thor’s hammer. So totally the opposite of Ryan.
As she thought about Ryan, her shoulders slumped and the pain ripped through her. Nobody thought the two of them would hit it off, but they had—or she’d thought they had. He was calm where she was volatile. He was methodical when she wanted to jump in and get things out of the way. He was night to her day. He was ... gone and some dork was now her Protector.
She slammed the ledger shut. There was no point in trying to take care of the accounts. “Might as well go figure out what I need in supplies.”
Back in the kitchen, rather than checking inventory, she glanced at the grill. A year later and nobody had been able to discover the person who’d killed Ryan. Not the cops, not even her and the other three with all their abilities. What was the point in having a gift if you couldn’t save the person you loved? She closed the door to the parking lot and checked to make sure she was alone, then held out her hands toward the grill. Sheets of flame burst up. “Show me.”
At first, she saw nothing but the flames, then an image formed. A picture of a black car as it bore down on him. Ryan had just finished setting up his camera and was measuring the area.
It took everything Phoebe had not to scream when the car hit him, tossing him across the parking lot like a sack of garbage and the camera catching it all before it went blank. She focused on the sedan. On every detail she could see as it sped toward Ryan. She stared at the image until her eyes hurt, absorbed in the scene being played out over and over again.
A noise behind her had her spinning around to find Zack standing there, keys in hand, mouth hanging open. Damn.
“Guess you were right. There must be something wrong with these controls,” she said.
His mouth closed and his eyes narrowed at her. “Sure, lady. And I’m next in line for President of the World. What are you? And what was that scene I saw?”
“You saw that?”
“Um, yeah. Who couldn’t? It was like a movie, but in the fire.”
Phoebe studied him. Few people had the ability to “see”. Even Ryan had had trouble, only able to catch faint images when he’d been touching her. Then she remembered—Zack had seen the picture at the door too. “Tell me what you saw.”
“I saw a fancy black sedan, probably a BMW, hit someone then take off like the hounds of Hell were on his tail.”
Phoebe saw his stare and knew the instant he figured out the significance. “Oh hell. The guy who got hit. He was your boyfriend, wasn’t he?”
She nodded, not trusting her voice.
“How did you do that? Make the picture in the flames?”
“Uh, just something I do.”
He gave her a narrow-eyed gaze, then shrugged. “The car or driver. Has either been found?”
“We know who the sedan belonged to—he’d been involved in drunk driving incidents before, but it wasn’t him this time. He died before Ryan did.” Phoebe bit back the emotions that threatened to overwhelm her again. She had to be strong.
“But? I know you’re leaving something out.”
He was relentless, but if he could help... “But his death was too pat. And he wasn’t the type of man to take his own life, even in an accidental fire, which is what the authorities said happened. That’s what Ryan was investigating. The fire at the man’s office building.”
“So you think someone else was involved and implicated the guy?”
“Probably. That or blackmail of some sort. The guy was a bigwig judge not known for his ethics. It’s possible he ticked off the wrong people.”
“What about his car? Any investigation done there? Fingerprints. You know. That kind of stuff?”
“The car disappeared. Cops found it a few days later, abandoned and completely destroyed by fire.”
“Another fire? Interesting. So where did these pictures come from?”
“Ry ... Ryan was working the fire scene. Most of this is from his camera.”
“We downloaded what we could before the state police took it. The images after he got hit were pretty blurred and sideways. it up and set it right. This is what we ended up with.” What she didn’t tell him was that they’d used magic to enhance the pictures as much as they could.
“Can you bring the picture back up?”
She cocked her head at him, wondering if she should, then figured what the hell. Maybe he’d see something none of the rest of them had. She turned back to the grill and waved her hands. The image came back up and Zack came over to stand next to her. He pointed at the front of the car, growing larger as it neared them. “This part here. Can you make it clearer? Or bigger?”
Phoebe laughed, the first good laugh she’d had in days, maybe months, and the image disappeared. “This isn’t like a CSI TV show with fancy computers. I get what I get.”
He pursed his lips at her. “Have you ever tried?”
“Well? Have you?”
Phoebe searched her memory. Had she ever tried focusing on just one aspect of the images she got? “Um, no. I mean, I don’t think so. I’m not sure how.”
“You’re focused enough to bring up this image, I’m assuming multiple times. So focus on just one part of it, like the windshield when the car’s coming toward him. Just think about that part of the image.”
She turned and brought up the flames. Once again, the image coalesced.
“Concentrate just on the front of the car, on the windshield.” His words whispered in her ear. She stared at the sedan.
The image flickered and died down, then came back up with just the front.
“Closer,” he said.
Phoebe fought the pounding headache forming and focused on the windshield. The image grew. Her eyes felt dry, but she refused to blink.
She stared at the glass until it filled the flames. The pain nearly blinded her, but she held on.
“Got it. Let it go. Relax.”
Phoebe sagged and would have fallen but for him. Her eyes closed against the pain.

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About the Author:

Vicky lives in Pennsylvania near the area where her ancestors settled in 1741. She lives in a three-generation home and is lucky enough to have two other writers in residence. At various times in her life, she has been a journalist, writer, editor, teacher, short-order cook, computer specialist, DJ, and librarian. Her writing spans the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and romance lines from YA to adult. No matter the age or genre, all of her books have a touch of romance in them and have to have a happily ever after ending.