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The Midnight Flame

The Midnight Flame

Rite World: Lightgrove Witches 3

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A broken witch, a dark secret, and a flame that threatens to spread and burn them all …

Main Tropes

  • Forbidden Lovers
  • Reluctant Protagonist
  • Dangerous quest
  • Magic and adventure
  • Dark Secrets
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Slight Academy Setting
  • Cameos from Rite World Characters


An unprepared witch. A mysterious human. And a quest that will test them both …

Hazel always knew she was one of the weakest witches of her generation. For a moment there, she even cared about that status.

Not anymore. She’s determined to live her life as a normal human—with exception for the occasional ghost hunting. What can she do if the damn spirits won’t leave her alone?

But when she finally settles into a new routine, Hazel receives a message that changes everything: the Lightgrove Coven, one of the most powerful witch covens in the world, grants her a rare chance to join them, but only if she passes a dangerous test on Friday the Thirteenth.

At first, Hazel wants to disregard the message. But who is she kidding? This is an opportunity she can’t say no to.

Everything is going unexpectedly fine until a human steps in Hazel's way. Sean is mysterious, hot, and inexplicably alluring. Despite Hazel’s best attempts to ignore him, she can’t. And when Sean’s fate entwines with Hazel’s task, it puts everything at risk—not just her test, but also their own lives.

The Midnight Test is the first book in the Rite World: Lightgrove Witches series—full of magic, romance, mystery, and excitement! Grab your copy today and start this new adventure!

Intro into Chapter One

Chapter One

“She’s awake!”

I heard the words, but their meaning didn’t register through the fog in my brain. My eyes fluttered open, but a headache pounded around my skull, making me groan in pain with each flash of light floating past my lashes. The pain in my limbs buzzed into a crescendo.

Holy shit, what had I—?

I sat up with a jerk, suddenly remembering what had happened before I blacked out.

Pain ricocheted through my body and my eyes stung at the bright light pointed directly at my face. I rose a trembling hand to cover the light, and realized my hands were handcuffed.

Sluggish and weak, I blinked, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the light, and took in my surroundings. I was seated on a small, hard cot on a dirty, rough floor in the corner of a tiny cell. Three stone walls, no windows, and one wall made of thick metal bars from top to bottom.

On the other side of the bars, a man in dark clothes and hard eyes stared at me as if I were the plague poisoning the Earth.

A Brotherhood of Purity member.

My chest squeezed. Holy shit … I really had been captured. Panic flowered inside of me, my breath growing shallow. What was I going to do? How was I going to get out of here? With the fog in my mind and the pain in my body, I wasn’t going anywhere. Not yet, at least.

For now, I had to swallow my fear and hope they wouldn’t kill me before I could recover and escape. I refused to die by their hands. That couldn’t be my destiny.

Heavy footsteps echoed down the hallway, and four men appeared in front of my cell. I fought the urge to recoil and faced them. The five men looked the same: a military buzz cut, dark hair, hard expressions, and the same black clothes, though none of them wore the red cloaks now. The only variations between them were their heights and build, and their complexions varied from paper white to chestnut brown. One had a faint five o’clock shadow, another one had a nasty scar across his left cheek, and a third one wore thin-framed glasses.

“Finally,” the tallest one said, a snarl in his tone. “Bring her.” He turned, walking away.

The scarred one reached for the metal bars and unlocked an almost seamless door. He opened it wide and took a step back. “Come.”

I hesitated.

“Come or I’ll drag you out.”

I looked down at my cuffed hands. Though I couldn’t feel it, I was sure these cuffs had a numbing spell preventing me from using my magic. Even if I could, would that be enough against five Brotherhood members? And those were just the ones I could see. If I fought now, I would get more tired and hurt and I would anger them. For now, I needed to be patient. Brave.

I pushed to my feet and my vision blackened. I swayed but caught myself before kissing the floor in front of these men. They snickered at me, as if disappointed. With gritted teeth, I placed one foot in front of the other and did my best to ignore the pain and soreness shooting through my legs and my back. My hands shook with the effort, but I schooled my face to remain expressionless. Cool. In control.

If only my insides felt the same.

I stepped out of the cell and the four men surrounded me. The fear in my chest spiked, and I sucked in a sharp breath, trying to quell the tide of adrenaline.

Fight, flight, or freeze.

There was no option here.

I followed the two men in the front as they led me down the hallway. Five cells lined the hall, and none of them were occupied. As we left the hallway, crossed a small room with two more Brotherhood members, and entered a large room, I kept telling myself I would find a way to escape. Otherwise, the despair blooming in my chest would overtake me.

I looked around the room as the men guided me to the center—large, tall, and wide enough to be an abandoned church, but there were no pews, no altar, no crosses. The walls were painted dark, and a handful of thick pillars lined the center. Thin windows adorned the walls some fifteen feet high, letting the faint light of the fading sunshine through.

Wait … I had been captured around midnight. It was already evening the next day.

“What day is it?” I asked, my voice hoarse. Shit, my throat was parched.

The scarred man looked up to the window. “If you’re wondering how long you’ve been here … it’s been almost two days.”

I balked, nearly tripping on my feet. Two days? So … it was freaking Tuesday. I hadn’t showed up for classes on Monday at the Light Castle or at Towland. Had Moira come after me? Had she reported I was missing? Was the Light Order searching for me?

If yes, then it was only a matter of time until they found me, right?

I hung on to that piece of hope, especially when we arrived in the center of the room. A witch’s circle had been drawn on the floor with white chalk, along with four runes I didn’t recognize. Two short stone pillars were in the center, and once the men shoved me inside the circle, I found out their purpose. The Brotherhood members unshackle my hands, just to shackle them again, one wrist to each pillar. And because both pillars couldn’t have been three feet tall, I had to kneel on the cold, rough, dark floor.

The four Brotherhood members retreated from the circle and stared at me, as if I were a bug inside a jar, and they were the kids who had caught me. Now they needed to decide if they would observe me, play with me, or squash me.

I inhaled slowly, but deeply, and forced my entire self to calm down. If I yelled, if I argued, if I fought, my situation would only get worse.

I heard footsteps again. First it seemed only one person, but soon I saw the fifth man I had met in my cell, and another handful of Brotherhood members behind him.

Oh, shit.

I recoiled into myself but couldn’t. I had already promised myself I wouldn’t show weakness in front of these bastards, and I physically couldn’t move, not with these shackles holding my arms open to my sides.

The man from before, the one who looked like the leader, stopped right in front of me, but outside the circle. He sneered at me. “Comfortable?”

I kept my mouth shut.

“I don’t know about comfortable, but she stinks,” a bald man said. A wave of faint chuckles echoed through the room. The leader cut the others a cold stare and they all fell silent.

Well, if I was here for two days already, it was probably almost three since I last took a shower. I probably did stink. And right now, I really needed to go to the bathroom.

The leader returned his hard eyes to me. “I don’t like wasting time, so I’ll get directly to the point. Where’re Arianna’s things?” I blinked, confused. “Her ashes, necklace, and grimoire. Where are they hidden?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” the words were out of my mouth before I could think better of it.

The man leaned forward, his eyes narrowed. “You know where they are hidden, and you will tell me.”

That was insane. “I … no one knows. They've been lost.”

“Then tell me where to find them.”

“How the hell would I know?”

He tilted his head. “You can play all you want, Hazel, but you will tell me, one way or another.”

“I can’t tell you something I don’t know!”

He grunted. “My patience runs thin. I’ll give you another two days to think about this. But when I come back for you, you better have an answer for me.” He turned to the scarred guy to his left. “Leave her here for a few hours, then take her back to her cell.”

“Maren, what about—?“ Scarred started.

The leader shot him an are-you-going-to-question-me look. “No food for her, just half a glass of water per day.”

Scarred nodded and the leader, Maren, walked away. Half of the men followed him, while the other half remained in place, watching me as if I could snap my fingers and disappear at any second.

I wish.

At first, I stared at a blank spot between the two men in my line of sight. I kept my mind busy, distracted, with the many questions swirling around my skull.

The Brotherhood of Purity was after Arianna’s ashes, necklace, and grimoire. Why? Was this something new, or had they always tried to find them? It was common knowledge that Arianna could be resurrected if the three items were found and … and a powerful spell was performed? I mean, no one could bring back the dead. It was just a legend. Right? 

The most puzzling part of this, though, was why the hell did they think I knew where the items were? I was an initiate in the Lightgrove coven. I was no one. They should have kidnapped one of the council witches, or at least a full member.

It didn’t make any sense.

The pressure of the rough floor on my knees grew unbearable, and my wrists screamed and my arms became numb. I couldn’t even move them to make it better.

All thoughts fled my mind and all I could think of was pain.

Maren had said five hours, hadn’t he? Shit, it probably hadn’t been thirty minutes yet and I already couldn’t take any longer.

No, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

I wouldn’t cave in front of these men.

I gritted my teeth, straightened my spine, and thought of fluffy clouds, warm beds, cool pools, and a delicious ice cream that waited for me after this was all said and done.

Mind over matter.

A long time passed, and the guy with glasses handed a twenty-dollar bill to Scarred. “I really thought she would faint after an hour.”

Scarred laughed. “Told you she’s tougher than she looks.”

A third one tsked. “Wait for it. She’ll surrender soon.”

“No, she won’t.” Scarred stared at me, a wicked glint in his dark eyes. “Will you?”

They all laughed.

Several colorful words rose in my throat, but I clamped my lips and swallowed them back. Damn it!

I inhaled deeply, closed my eyes, and tuned them out.

I endured like that for as long as I could. Around me, the men moved, chatted, waited, teased, talked … but I was determined to not look at them again. Not yet.

However, after a while, the exhaustion and the pain became too much. I couldn’t feel my arms, I couldn’t feel my legs, my head swam, and when I tried opening my eyes again, I failed.

Then, I passed out.

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