Awaken the Dawn

Her dad kept his past hidden for a reason. Now she must find something else he hid before Romania’s biggest crime syndicate finds it (and her) first.

When her dad dies during a business trip to his homeland, seventeen-year-old Kat blames herself for their failed relationship. She’s been holding a grudge and never even said “I love you” when he left. Racked with guilt and haunted by strange dreams about the crash that killed him, she’d do anything to have him back.

Then a package arrives from Romania. It’s from her dad, and it contains a cryptic list of clues—one of his classic scavenger hunts. Desperate to know why he sent it, she travels to Romania. There she encounters Maksim, a reformed scammer who has the perfect skillset for decoding the clues. Romance wasn’t on the itinerary, but when Kat and Maksim team up, their hearts make an unexpected detour. They’re both having strange dreams now, and their bond grows…until the clues uncover a deadly secret the dreams have been pointing to.

Maksim’s old crime ring has been searching for the scavenger hunt’s endgame prize, and Kat’s dad died to keep it out of their reach. Now Kat must decide: walk away from everything, including her love for Maksim, or risk it all and finish what her dad started.



He led me through the corridor. As we reach the end, a flock of birds took flight in front of us and disappeared into the gray sky.

I stopped. Gasped.

A beige clock tower, square and stately, rose up from a red-roofed merchant house in the middle of the plaza. A dark, pointy roof topped the tower—like a square-brimmed witch’s hat. Pastel merchant houses rimmed the square, adding splashes of green, pink, light blue, deep gold, and even a yellow that reminded me of my new pullover. The buttery color was definitely prettier on the merchant house than on me.

“Do you see something?” Maksim followed my gaze across the plaza. “What is it?”

“Ox-drawn carriages,” I murmured, more to myself.

“Where?” Maksim lowered his glasses. “What do ox-drawn carriages have to do with the clues?”

Council Square

Ox-drawn carriages didn’t have anything to do with anything. It’s just that I finally got what Dad had been talking about all those years. He’d never said much about Romania, but when he had, it’d been about Braşov. Now I understood why. Something about this plaza was magical, like I’d stepped into another time, another place.

Into a fairytale.

I wondered—did the peasants of fairytales ride around in ox-drawn carriages? It was hard to say since fairytales were usually about princesses. But as I stood in that medieval plaza surrounded by lush, green mountains, I knew ox-drawn carriages had to be in fairytales somewhere. At least in the background or off the beaten path.

The minute hand on the clock tower moved, clicking to the next digit. I blinked, the spell broken. My gaze drifted to Maksim, who was smiling.

“It’s lovely, isn’t it?” He took in our surroundings. “I spent every day here last summer. Over on those benches. By the fountain.” He pointed at a modern stone fountain made of large triangles angled toward the center. Waterjets sprayed from one end to the other, and a large gush flowed up from the center. High-school-aged teens stood around, snapping selfies from different angles.

“Can we go sit down?” I asked. “I need to get my bearings.”

“Of course.”

The benches were full, but a mom pulled her toddler onto her lap, making enough space for one person. Maksim offered me the seat.

On the way to Centru

“Do you see that?” He squatted, the drizzle splattering his glasses, and pointed to our right.

I squinted at a dark mass beyond a row of merchant houses. At first, I thought the mass was part of a mountain, but it was a gargantuan dark-stone building.

“What is that?”

Biserica Neagră. The Black Church. The architecture is gothic, of course. Notice the columns”—he gestured at thin, pointed columns lining the exterior—“and the carvings near the top. It would be nice if you could see those a bit better. The spire as well. You’re not getting the full scope in this weather.” He peered skyward.

Dense, gray clouds had sunken over the mountains, blanketing them in a fog that rolled off the emerald forests as a peculiar mist. Some of the fog had settled on the church, giving it a macabre look.

“I’m in Transylvania,” I whispered.


  1. Flagship (Instrumental) – Amanda Cook
  2. Summer Girl – Misty Edwards
  3. Words Remain – Josh Garrels
  4. Brave New World (Instrumental) – Amanda Cook Playing at the Beach - Tingo de Mora, Peru
  5. Say the Word – Hillsong United
  6. Season of Rain – Josh Garrels
  7. When the Fight Calls (Acoustic) – Hillsong Young & Free
  8. Falling Into You (Studio Version) – Hillsong Young & Free
  9. Wake (Live) – Hillsong Young & Free
  10. Rule – Hillsong United
  11. Pursue – Hillsong Young & Free
  12. Symphony – Switch ft. Dillon Chase
  13. This is Living (Acoustic) – Hillsong Young & Free
  14. Falling Into You (Acoustic) – Hillsong Young & Free
  15. Bitter / Sweet – Amanda Cook
  16. Never Have I Found – Josh Garrels worship_mount_tampa
  17. Tightrope – Misty Edwards
  18. The Wick – Housefires
  19. Never See the End – Amanda Cook
  20. Don’t Wait for Me – Josh Garrels
  21. Sinking Deep – Hillsong Young & Free
  22. Captain – Hillsong United
  23. Lake Yarina – Josh Garrels
  24. The Voyage – Amanda Cook
  25. Desert Father – Josh Garrels
  26. Even When It Hurts (Praise Song) – Hillsong United)
  27. Heart Like Heaven – Hillsong United
  28. Embarkation – Josh Garrels
  29. Heroes – Amanda Cook

For EDM (Electronic Dance Music) from the club scene, check out Kay’s SoundCloud.