Sixteen-year-old Rachel’s psychic world is shaken when Billy introduces her to telepathy and astral travel, awakening her desire for more spiritual adventure. She can’t get enough. Together with a teenage shaman, a healer, a psychic, and a witch, they form “The Psychic Circle” to secretly explore the paranormal.

Romance blossoms between Rachel and Billy as they realize they have a very strong connection. Could Rachel possibly have found her soul mate? But her best friend becomes jealous and causes trouble, using black magic, which could sabotage Rachel’s chance at having the true love she’s been yearning for.

Now Rachel must decide if she should fight fire with fire in order to protect and pursue this obvious soul connection. After all, all’s fair in love and war, right?

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Psychic Circle ~ Souls Entwined by D L Cocchio, Rachel is a young clairvoyant who is considered a freak by her high-school peers. Then Rachel meets Billy, another student with psychic gifts who teaches her to expand her abilities. Together with some other gifted students they form the Psychic Circle. But things get scary when one of the group sets her sights on Billy and isn’t afraid to use black magic to get what she wants.

The Psychic Circle, Souls Entwined is a coming-of-age story with the added twist of teens with magical gifts. The plot is strong and has a number of surprising twists and turns, enough to keep you turning pages.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Psychic Circle ~ Souls Entwined by D L Cocchio revolves around a teenage girl with psychic/magical gifts that cause her more trouble than they’re worth. When she meets Billy, another student at her high school who is also gifted, the two of them hit it off right away and Billy begins to teach her how to use her unusual abilities. Just when she begins to think that having psychic gifts isn’t so bad after all, the potion hits the fan, so to speak, when Rachel’s BFF, another gifted student, decides she wants to take Billy away from Rachel. And she’s using the dark side of magic to do it.

Cocchio has a fresh and unique voice, and her characters are realistic as well as charming. The book is exceptionally well-written for a debut author and should prove a riveting experience for YA and new adult alike.

Chapter 1

Such is my Life

I glance down at my arms, hairs standing at attention as the icy coldness rakes its fingers up and down my spine, gripping my soul. Cool sweat beads form across my upper lip.

It’s definitely not the first time a spirit has walked through me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

Damn! I hate when this happens.

My pulse quickens at the sight of two glowing orbs in my peripheral vision.

Trembling, I lean over and prop myself against the wainscoting to my right. My cheek presses against the coolness of the wood. Then a ball of electricity surges through me, jolting my inner core and knocking the air from my lungs. Faint ringing reverberates in my ears as I close my eyes and gasp for oxygen like someone drowning in a frigid lake.

Must be spirit number two.

‘Rachel,’ a voice whispers.

I try not to freak as I struggle for composure. Another quiver disperses–sort of an aftershock, as it vibrates down my neck and back, trailing down my legs, tickling my toes. Breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth, I center myself as we do in yoga class. Then I push myself upright, as my gaze instinctively darts around the room in search of witnesses.

Good. No one saw.

I nervously bite my lip, as I glance past the main counter of Jones’s General Store where the cashier’s assisting two customers, take a peek at the candy counter, and look over toward the magazines, where I unexpectedly lock eyes with caramel-colored irises. His eyes steal a peep at me through his wispy brown bangs dangling in his face beneath his sideways ball cap. I think I’ve seen him at school before.

Wait. Did he wink at me? I can’t be sure.

In a split second, those pools of darkness divert down to the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine in his hands. At least that is what I think I just saw.

My mind frantically searches its memory banks, trying to place him while fighting that familiar tug, but to no avail. I come up blank. I give up as my mind drifts, shrugging my shoulders. Within moments, I find myself popping back into reality.

Nah. Just my imagination.

Must be.

A loud crack of thunder outside distracts me, and I step over to one of the large panes of glass in the front. My mind goes still as I stare blankly into the sky outside, my shoulder leaning against the woodwork to get a better look. Darkness presses against the windows of this general store, dating back to the Revolutionary War era, as the wind blows debris against the wrought-iron coach lanterns lighting the streets of Pompton, sweeping up against the brick cobblestone walkway. It brushes along the path that George Washington used to take as he passed through our quaint little town in 1776. In the alley, gusts of wind twirl the dried leaves in little bundles like tiny ballerinas dancing the minuet, as the air fills with static. It’s mesmerizing. I notice that the brewing storm is beginning to scare the customers into cutting their shopping trips short, and I watch them sprint for their cars.

Just the perfect storm to rile up the local spirits.

Something captures my attention back inside. I turn to stare at a misty outline of a figure that begins to form as it moves toward the front door. I fall back into the old, wooden chair near the corner window and cover my mouth with my hand, holding very still. My heart thumps louder in my chest as I watch the details come into focus before me. A man in an off-white cotton shirt and brown pants begins materializing right before my eyes. Looking down toward the floor, I realize I can’t see his shoes since his misty legs are missing from the knee down.

Only a partial apparition flickers before me, still transparent, but solid enough that I can tell he wears a cobbler’s apron, like the kind a shopkeeper would wear. He leans over me and puts his face up against the glass with his hands shielding his eyes to peer out at something on the front porch. The spirit doesn’t even acknowledge me as the whole scenario is playing out before me and I am an innocent bystander.

Then everything inside the store fades to a muted gray color and suffices as a backdrop behind this shadow figure. Interestingly enough, the edges of the scene appear fuzzy and it flickers like an old-time movie clicking through a projector. Awesome.

Suddenly, the front door flies open with brute force and a man wearing a dingy white handkerchief tied across his face points a gun at the shopkeeper and shoots without hesitation. The wounded man falls in a heap on the wooden floor, grabbing his side as a red splotch leeches out onto the apron around the wound. I clutch my left side with my hands to ease the stabbing pain I’m feeling. I think I’ve been shot, but how can that be? My thoughts blend into each other and scramble before I fall to my knees in the same spot on the wooden planked floor.

Jonesie shows up right on cue. Right here on the spot I am crouching in, to the right of the front door.

For the second time this month, I encounter that freaky ghost at Jones’s General Store. The locals claim that the ghost is none other than the original owner, Robert Jones, affectionately known as Jonesie.

The legend goes something like this–Robert Jones, the proprietor of the store, built a booming business, so good that many others envied his good fortune. One fall day, an envious hoodlum robbed Jones at gunpoint. His resistance caused him to be brutally murdered in cold blood, his life cruelly cut short as he defended his establishment.

“Ew,” I say as I flinch for a moment, rub down the hairs on my arms, and stare down at the amoeba-like stain ground into the worn wooden planks beneath my flip-flopped feet. I know it is crazy, but I swear my nostrils can still detect the stale, two-hundred-year-old, metallic scent of blood.

A moment ago, I stepped aside to let Mrs. Kitchell enter the store, and I staggered right into that darned energy again. Sheesh! I honestly think that the spirit may be what ghost hunters call a residual haunting, recreating its last moments in time, over and over again, like a broken record.

I’m thankful that I do not feel the least bit threatened by its presence. Thank you, God.

I gain my composure after I feel the wave of nausea leave me. No witnesses this time. In fact, mister caramel-eyes is gone, along with all of the other customers and the lady behind the counter is busy sweeping up. She’s paying me no mind.

It’s hard to believe that we really do have a general store here and people claim it is haunted. A gurgle of laughter erupts in my belly. Who am I kidding? I know it is haunted!

Episodes like this one always catch me by surprise and I usually teeter, off-kilter, but only for a few minutes, even though it feels like an eternity while it is happening. Once I realize what is going on, I snap back to the present, as quickly as snapping my fingers.

It just sucks that I never know when it will happen again.

Such is my life.

Life is never normal when you possess a gift like mine. I am blessed with a special gift and a paranormal one at that.

I can feel spirits.

I not only feel spirits, but I can hear them, too. Sometimes they speak to me, trying to deliver a message across, letter by letter, like Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune. I usually sense when a spirit is around me. I mean physically. A gypsy once told me that I am what they call being “clairsentient,” since I often feel or sense their presence. Whenever it happens, I feel like I’m walking through a freezer and out the other side. The wicked chills always sneak up, taking my breath away.

Just like at the general store.

In fact, my friends and I all have our own unique psychic-like talents. At school, we are called freaks, weirdos, and a whole lot worse. Our reputation precedes us like a chill in the air before a storm.

The thing that bums me out is that I have only actually seen a spirit a few of times, so far, with my own eyes. I know they call that being clairvoyant or “clear seeing.” A clairvoyant can actually look through physical boundaries to “see” things in the past, the present, and the future, to perceive things that are not in sight. So I may have some of that ability, as well. I have concluded that I can’t force it to happen, if it isn’t meant to happen. I should just be happy with the talent I have been given. This is what my mom drills into me every single day.

The doctors tell my parents that I simply have an overactive imagination.

Yeah, that’s what it must be.

But I know different. They must first put themselves in my shoes to fully understand me.

Welcome to Rachel’s world.

I have learned being psychic has its benefits, but it can sometimes be a curse.

Sometimes it just plain sucks.

Despite that, I am proud to say that after weeks of soul searching with my psychologist’s help, I decided that what I really want in this lifetime is to have my peers stop the name-calling and for them to consider me “normal.” All I want to be able to do is use my psychic abilities without ridicule and persecution. Things tend to go bad when kids find out about my secret talent. So I try my best to keep it concealed. My private list continues with a wish to discover a great guy who will accept me for being me. Someone I can trust. One who will never question my abilities. Is this such a tall order?

I am beginning to think so.

© 2013 by D. L. Cocchio