Rift Healer is the first installment of the 'Forest Magic' series, a Young Adult Fantasy/Romance set in Central and Western Massachusetts. After a minor earthquake, the enchanted forest in Bidwell, MA, is infested with monster-spewing rifts. Gisele Westerfield's great nephew, the gifted Micah, and his distant cousin, Selena, arrive to assist. Together with Gisele's summer students, twins Haley and Lacey, they will try to heal the magical forest. Much to the consternation of the beautiful Selena, Micah identifies Haley as The One whom he'll share his future. But after witnessing a terrifying display of Micah's Gift, Haley cools to his advances and unexpectedly discovers her own Gift-- she can heal the earth. Monsters, mayhem, and teenage angst follow the small group as they confront evil in the forest and a dangerous prediction that 'one will fall'. Will they heal the rifts in time? Can they save the unicorns? And is Haley really destined to be with Micah?
“Yeah, maybe we can talk, hey, look at that,” Lacey whispered, staring into the woods. Haley and Taylor followed her gaze and saw on the edge of the forest, the unicorn stallion. Surrounded by deep green hemlock trees and illuminated by a misty shaft of golden sunlight, he shimmered and glowed in the most magical scene ever. At that moment, the unicorn lifted his muzzle, caught a look at the kids and disappeared, dissolving in a thick curtain of glitter. As the sparkles faded in the sunshine, the three exchanged wide-eyed looks.
“What’s he doing out here, where anyone driving by could see?” Haley asked, looking up and down the empty street. She knew the unicorns were only found deep in the forest, rarely venturing anywhere humans would catch the slightest glimpse. Last summer, they hiked in the forest many times and saw the unicorns only once. “Let’s go in,” she said, pedaling her bike over the roots and rocks to where the unicorn first caught their attention. Kneeling down, she spied a trace of glitter still shimmering on the pine needles.
“Is this a good idea?” Taylor asked, astride his bike in the middle of the road. “We’re not carrying crystals, you know.” Last year they learned it was unsafe and unwise to venture into the forest without the protection of at least one magical gem from the Crystal Cave.
Haley glanced over her shoulder and motioned them in. Lacey followed her. Haley pointed to a strange mound of earth, a few yards deeper into the sun-dappled forest.
“What is that?” Lacey said.
“Not too smart, you guys,” Taylor called. “Come back.”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember seeing this before.” Haley looked around. Shielded from the road by the stand of hemlocks, the unusual formation stood nearly as tall as a man and about eight feet wide. Somewhat flattened at its apex, it formed a long serpentine line, which eventually disappeared into the forest. Despite its size and length, she thought if it hadn’t been for the unicorn, they never would have seen it from the road.
Taylor dropped his bike on the ground and followed them in, huffing with annoyance.
“What are you doing here, nosey?” Lacey asked with a smirk.
“I’m tired of being ignored and—whoa! That’s it. That’s part of the rift,” he whispered as he gazed at the mound. “This is bad. We should leave. Right now.”
“Why should we leave?” Lacey said. “And why are you whispering?”
“Didn’t you hear Gisele? Monsters come out of these things. Let’s go.” He reached for Lacey’s hand.
“Wait a minute.” Haley grabbed the water guns from their bikes and tucked hers into her back pocket. “Here, take yours. My palms are tingling and itchy all the way up to my elbows. Maybe I can do something here.”
Taylor snorted. “With a water gun? Are you crazy? What are we going to do–make mud pies?”
“I don’t know, Taylor,” Lacey shot back. “My hands are tingling too. I think we should give it a try.” She aimed her water gun at the mound, holding the toy weapon straight out from her shoulders like it carried silver bullets, rather than clear, harmless tap water.
Sighing and shaking his head, Taylor grabbed his blue plastic six-shooter. “This is so stupid. We’re going to get eaten and all they’ll find is melted, plastic water guns.”
Author Diane M. Haynes
Diane has lived in Massachusetts all her life where early on, her artistic talents were fostered, though her skills as an "excellent report writer" were often noted in previous employment. On her brother Rick's birthday, November 16, 2004, seven months after his death, she woke from an amazing dream which would not fade. She outlined the dream, made a few quick notes and days later produced a 12 page short story. After deciding her story was interesting but incomplete, she began writing her first novel, using her dream as its climax. She now believes the dream to be a 'Spirit Gift,' sent by her brother.
Diane continues to reside in Central MA with her husband and a very naughty Basset Hound named Basil and his new adopted sister-Basset, Ruby, both of whom cleverly wreak havoc on the Haynes' formerly well-ordered lives. She spends her time writing, reading books about writing, talking about writing, painting with watercolors, antiqueing and attempting to train a very reluctant Basil and a willing, but highly comedic Ruby.
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