Everything changes when Sam inherits her grandmother's magical power.
Starting off with being able to see that one of her coworkers is a creature from the netherworlds.
A creature who now wants to kill her for her power.
And this beast is only the first…
In Too Deep—a new urban fantasy from Leah R. Cutter—begins a new series about the keepers of the gates between the worlds, the troubles they face, and how blood relations and family may or may not be the same.
Here's an entry from me, your editor. This is the first of a three book series, with a young witch who's not the chosen one, who suddenly finds herself chosen. – Leah R Cutter
Sam was putting clamps on the dove-tailed corners of a drawer when it happened.
It always filled Sam with a sense of pride when the carved wooden corners fit together just so, despite putting together hundreds of drawers and cabinets in the woodworking shop over the past ten years.
She'd already applied the clamps and was wiping away one last drop of glue when suddenly, everything started glowing.
What the hell? Who was playing with the lights?
San took a step back from her work bench and looked up.
The bright shop lights still hung from the ceiling, buzzing and obnoxious florescent bulbs hanging in wire cages so they wouldn't accidentally be broken by flying wood chips. A strange black mist obscured them.
Or rather, a mist had been covering them. It was now dissolving away. It reminded Sam of a clip she'd seen of an old fashioned 8 millimeter film burning. The black bubbled and withdrew in circular areas, each section running into the next until all the lights were clear, shining like sunlight on a spring day. Despite the strangeness of the situation, Sam wasn't scared.
The regular scent of fresh pine and the chemical smell of colored paint blasted against her, as if someone had just turned on a fan. Sam shook her head, fighting off the urge to sneeze.
The light in the shop increased in intensity, as though the ceiling had just lowered, placing the lights right on top of her.
She shook her head again, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.
Had someone slipped something into her water bottle? This wasn't some sort of hangover or reaction to something else. It was only Tuesday. She hadn't been out drinking the night before.
She turned to Juan at the next workbench, but he didn't appear to notice that anything was wrong. He continued to run his fingers over the shelves he was working on, using the highest grit sandpaper whenever he detected a blemish.
Sam turned back to her own workbench. The wood there continued to glow, whiter and brighter than she'd ever seen it before.
An inkling of what was happening shook Sam to her core. Her stomach hollowed out and her throat was suddenly dry.
She wanted to deny it. This couldn't be happening. Not to her. And certainly not while she was at work. She needed to get out of here. Now.
The wood on her workbench captured her attention, drawing her eyes to it.
Sam knew she shouldn't. But she couldn't help herself. She reached out and stroked her fingers across the smooth wood, following the grain.
Though it had been a long while since that board had come from the forest, the wood still spoke of the trees it had known, the brilliance of the summer sun, the fierceness of the winter frost. Sam found herself sinking deeper, feeling the roughness of the bark that had protected the tree this wood had come from, how good it had felt to dig deep into the earthy loam and anchor one's self, listening to songs created by wind whistling through branches and pine needles.
With great effort, Sam snatched her hand away as if it had been burned.
It was one of the first things her parents had taught her about magic: you couldn't go in too deep.
If she had let herself sink further, she could have transported herself there, to that forest, to the exact location where the tree had come from.
Without any portal set up ahead of time to bring her back.
Sam didn't remember the first time she'd been told that she was a witch, that she came from a family of strong witches. She'd started using magic before she could walk. However, like most practitioners, she didn't have enough power to do serious damage either to herself or to anyone around her.
That had apparently changed.
Someone, most likely Grandma Starling, had just died. Instead of passing her power onto Sam's brother Morgan, as everyone had expected, her grandmother had remained as contrary as always up to the very end and it look as though she'd passed it along to Sam.
No. This was not supposed to happen. Sam wasn't really part of the family anymore, the black sheep who could barely read and who worked a blue collar job in the trades instead of being some lawyer or doctor. Or even an investment banker, like her brother.
She glanced around the shop again. The wood continued to glow, calling to her, longing to tell her its stories, but it was getting easier to ignore it. The smells of the workshop faded, though the scent harsh varnish continued to tickle the back of her throat. Sounds returned—the whine of the chop saw loud in the corner, a Mexican love song crooning from Pedro's bench, the chatter of two men across from her.
Sam shivered, both too warm and too cold. Goosebumps chased each other across her shoulders and down her back.
What was she supposed to do now?
A feeling of menace washed over her, coming from the right.
Slowly, Sam turned and looked.
It was Darren. The new guy. The one who'd given her the creeps from day one.
He was staring at her.
As she looked, that same black film that had appeared to cover the lights now burned off Darren, revealing that he wasn't exactly human. His auburn hair melted and his skin brightened, until it was glowing red. Liquid black eyes stared out above an ugly snout. Puke green horns grew out of his forehead, and claws the same nasty color tipped his fingers. Muscles upon muscles rippled across his broad, bare chest.
He'd always worn too much of that awful men's body spray. Now, that scent mingled with the stench of moldy leaves, setting her eyes to watering again. Ugh.
Darren, or whatever the hell his name actually was, had just been revealed as a creature from the netherworlds.
And now that Sam had power, real power that she had no idea how to use, he was going to try to steal it from her. Probably by killing her.