For those who have not read the Raina Kirkland (Paranormal Washington) Series, or have not yet read book 4, Deadly Encounters, Chapter One of Toxic may be a bit of a spoiler...
However, if you still want to read on, let me catch you up on all things Raina.
Raina is a woman who was born at the wrong time, wrong gender, wrong race, wrong family, wrong city. Wrong, because all of these things combined made her the perfect candidate for a godly plan to overthrow the statuesque.
Her infant body was murdered and then brought back from death changed in ways no one could guess until she was 'fatefully' attacked by the undead.
Her life is full of chaos and tragedy at every turn, up until her death at the hands of a demon, or his henchmen rather.
Years pass and finally Raina is brought back from the dead by her brother, who sews her frozen remains together in hopes that her 'changed' soul might find it's way home if her body is in intact, and it works! Just in time, too, because an evil god has set on humanity a devastating virus that only Raina can stop. Raina vs Apollo, with all of humanity at stake!
Once back from the dead, events that had seemed, at the time, random now clearly play a larger role in her life, as Raina comes to realize that her life was never her own. That everything that had ever happened to her and every decision she ever made had been masterfully schemed by the goddess who killed her infant self so very long ago.
In saving humanity Raina inadvertently infects the entire state of Washington with a weaker version of her own 'changed' self, creating a community of Super Human's who are feared by and quarantined from the rest of the world.
A RAINA KIRKLAND NOVEL
By Diana Graves
I SAT ON my bed with a knot in my stomach while the man I loved slept soundly in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what woke me, but I found myself staring at him. We’d been together for more than three years, but it seemed I’d never get used to the look of him there. His long strong body took up most of our bed. His golden hair sprawled out across his pillow. I traced my hand gently down Alistair’s exposed back before I brought the covers up to keep him warm. He turned to face me, smiling in his sleep. His smile was one of absolute contentment, yet I couldn’t shake this feeling of dread. Something wasn’t right…
A tapping on the window gave me a start. My eyes shot to the window, but it was only the black ivy that surrounded my house on all sides, thrashing against the window in the wind and rain.
“Raina?” I heard quietly.
For a moment I gave the black ivy outside a searching look. Sometimes it felt as if the ivy had a mind of its own, as if it could see me, hear me. It was most likely just my guilt playing tricks on me. It probably wasn’t smart to plant the ivy around my home, but the kids wanted it here. It was the least I could do after their father was robbed from them. The ivy was all that remained of him.
“Raina?” it came again, this time definitely from the hall just outside my bedroom door. I let out a breath of relief.
Opening the door, I found my half-sister, Katie, standing there soaked to the bone in a skin tight black jumpsuit with many pockets and straps. Her big brown eyes were drowning in melting black eyeliner and mascara, her sandy blond hair with pink colored tips hung over her shoulders like two thick curtains, dripping water on my hardwood floors.
“What is it?” I asked her quietly as she walked past me and crossed my dark room, heading straight for the closet. Looking after her I marveled at how much she’d grown. She used to be so damn scrawny. Now she had muscle and curves. The curves were that of a naturally voluptuous woman, but the muscle was hard won. Policing an entire country of supernatural humans is not a job for the weak after all. I guess seeing her so sure of herself and strong was another thing I was having trouble getting used to.
“Allegory and Luke, again.” She grimaced as she tossed a black cap and pair of goggles on a nearby armchair and took out a long sleeved pink sweater and thick dark coat. Since when did I own a pink sweater? Or pink anything for that matter? She placed them on the armchair, too, and struggled to slip out of her tight wet garments, leaving her bra on. “They’ve put together another mob, bigger than the last. I can’t stop them on my own. You need to come with me.”
“Well, that explains the sick feeling in my gut. When do we leave?”
“Right now. They’re meeting in Tacoma, at the old Washington State History Museum.”
I stifled a chuckle. “Again? That’s the same place you busted them last time.”
“They’re selling the same story. Are we on the right side of history?” she whispered as she slid dry clothes on.
I pulled out a pair of jeans and handed them to her before turning to give her privacy. Preternatural or no, Katie was still Katie. No matter how high she could fly, she’d always be a shy woman.
“If we’re going back out, why change your clothes?” I asked her quietly.
“Well, I’m hoping we could just drive there. It’s hard to fly in this weather.”
I looked back out the long window. Past the thick black ivy the rain poured in sheets and the wind blew hard and cold. It was a fair rain storm. Spring time in the Pacific Northwest. Just lovely.
“We’re too far from Tacoma to get there in time if we drive. Flying would be faster.”
“Can't we ask Nicholas?”
I gave her a frown. Nick was our older brother, and he could get us there in time, but he also sympathized with Allegory’s cause. In fact, the only thing that kept him from joining up was Luke…and his loyalty to me, his beloved little sister. It was because of that loyalty that I gave Katie the go ahead while I got myself ready.
When Katie left the room Alistair sat up in bed. Whispering in a room with a superhuman was sort of ridiculous, but old habits die hard I suppose. I could feel him staring at my back while I pulled clothes from the closet.
“Why did you wait until Katie left to sit up and open your eyes?”
“She’s still uneasy around me.”
It was true. I could hear her heart quicken a beat whenever he entered the room. She was afraid of him, and she wasn’t the only one. A lot of people were afraid of those who were changed the most, blessed with the most profound gifts. Nick, Alistair and myself chief among them. It was because of that fear that I never explored my own powers too deeply in public. As far as anyone knew, I had only a handful of gifts, but I could feel I was capable of so much more, and so could everyone else. The power bubbled underneath the surface, hot and begging to be used. Sometimes I found myself rubbing my hands together, creating small fires or electrical currents between my fingers. Sometimes I dreamed of rain and woke up in a soaking wet bedroom. But Nick and Alistair weren’t as cautious, and for that they had the people’s fear.
“You can’t always stop them, Raina,” he said. “If it’s not an army led by Allegory, it will be an army led by someone else.”
I turned with concerned eyes. “The world is against us, but they leave us alone because we’re no threat to them. If I let Allegory’s mob descend on towns outside our borders, the world will stop leaving us alone.”
“Maybe we should stop leaving the world alone,” he said thoughtfully.
I was surprised at his candor with the subject. “War? You want us to go to war? I won’t let that happen. I won’t kill another living soul, not one, never again.”
Alistair moved to the edge of the bed, letting the blankets fall away from his naked body. “They kill every day, Raina. They kill and worse. I can feel it, Nick can feel it. Everyone in Washington can feel the pain this planet is in. But you suffer most of all. Every hour of every day must be agony for you.”
I gave him my back and pulled a sweater over my head. “It is.”
The sadness of the world pulled at me, weighing me down. Smiling, laughing, these were things I forced myself to do, because no matter how blessed my life was, it was hard to be overjoyed when somewhere out there men, women and children were being abused. Their fear and pain called to me, screaming for help that I couldn’t give them because we were all stuck behind some not so invisible border. No one comes into Washington and no one leaves…
“Then let’s stop it. Let’s change the world. Make it a better place for everyone, our children—.”
“Our children could die in this theoretical war you’re proposing,” I interrupted. “How can you talk about war like it’s even an option? How many wars are going on right now, as we speak? How many children are dying right now, at this very moment?”
“Too many. Doesn’t the idea of ending that constant suffering interest you? ...It interests me.”
I sighed and walked to the bed. I sat down and leaned against him, letting him hold me. “Of course, but I can’t risk everyone’s lives here. I’m still working on our public image. If they can see how normal we are in spite of what we can do, maybe they’ll open the borders again.”
He kissed the top of my head. “You’ve been talking with the UN for years. They won’t change their minds about us. We’re too different now, too powerful. They’re scared of us. They’d bomb us again if they weren’t afraid we’d just grow more powerful.”
“Fuck the UN. I’ve realized change starts with the people, not with their governments. I have an interview with CNN tomorrow. If everything goes well then—.”
“Then what?” he interrupted me, “Washington gets its statehood back? We’re all proud Americans again—until one of us tries to stop a legal act of injustice and the persecution begins anew.”
I patted his leg and stood from the bed. Apparently Nick wasn’t the only Allegory sympathizer. “I’m not going to argue with you.”
“No,” he said laying back down and making himself comfy. “Save that for the mob.”
So, you can see this book has conflicts right from the first chapter. Raina's people want to leave Washington and heal the world's hurts as only they can, end wars, end poverty, clean the air and water...yatta yatta yatta...But the world doesn't want help. Later on we bring gods and angels into the whole mix and it truly becomes one very fun clusterfuck of thrilling battles, suspense and even a tidbit of romance. Hopefully the book will be released Fall 2015. That's the plan Sam.