Curse of Shadows and Light (Demonblood Book 3)

By: Penelope King

Chapter 1.



The dried leaves and twigs rustle as he leans his full weight on top of me, a perfect fit as our two bodies meld into one. His bare skin is so soft over his hard muscles, and I gasp for breath before his lips press again on mine. His hands roam my body as if I am his most treasured possession, created for him and him alone.

This claiming of me. This ultimate surrender of my soul to his. I am on fire.

But he doesn’t just take. He gives. His fingertips dance along my arms and face, and saying nothing, he tells me so much. This is no ordinary kiss. No ordinary touch. No ordinary love.

For he is no ordinary man.

He is inside of me, filling every space in my broken soul, healing my wounded heart, strengthening my faltering spirit. He brings me back to life.

He is mine. And I am his.

Forever.





********





“Liora… Liora, wake up.” Corrine nudges my shoulder more roughly than necessary, and I open my eyes. A half-second later I realize where we are, and it couldn’t be further from the magical place I’d just been.

“You dozed off,” she continues with a peculiar look. She pushes up her thick glasses. “But we’re coming up to Crystal Cove now. We’re almost there.”

I sit up straighter and rub my eyes. Kieron glances at me with a tight grin but keeps his attention on the road. He lowers his hand from the steering wheel to give my leg a gentle squeeze before reaching for the bottle of water in the center console and taking a big swig.

“Anyways,” Corrine continues in a chipper voice, “I let you sleep through Los Angeles, ‘cause it was just slow traffic on the freeways. Not quite the golden paradise they make it seem like on TV. And not one celebrity anywhere. But you can’t miss this part—it’s amazing out here!”

I tilt my head against the passenger side window. She’s right… the scenery is breathtaking. The wide, paved roads are shiny black with nary a pothole in sight. Rolling hills of brilliant emerald blanket the sides of the highway. Rows of perfectly-shaped palm trees stand like proud beacons navigating us through brilliant displays of strategically placed flowers… their blooms so precise, I can’t help but wonder if they’re even real.

This couldn’t be more different from the place we just left. The small, rural cabin in the Virginia woods was the only home I’d ever known. The only place I felt comfortable and loved. This is like another world.

Will this one reject me too?

Like suppliants in need of protection, Kieron, Corrine, and I will soon be arriving at the home of Tattie’s twin sister, Anastasia. My guardian had only recently told me she even had a sister, and I have to admit her revelation caught me by surprise… as if there were this whole other secret side to Tattie I never knew existed. And the fact that she’d never mentioned her until we were truly desperate was concerning as well. If things were good between them and they were close, surely Tattie would have said something sooner.

“Why so quiet… you feeling okay?” Kieron glances my way as he turns the car down a narrow side street.

I nod and try to smile, but my heart isn’t in it. There is too much sadness in my soul.

“You’ve been awfully sleepy lately,” he continues. “I’m sure you’re just exhausted from all you’ve been through. It’ll be nice to sleep in a real bed in a real house. Give you a chance to relax and recover from all the drama.”

I nod again and turn my attention back to the whizzing scenery. I can’t tell him that no amount of sleep will ever help me ‘recover’ from the horrific events of the past several days: Finding out that my friend Tristan was a Light-angel who’d been brainwashing and using me. Lucky getting expelled from her homeland of Thiberoux with the threat of death if she ever returns. To be sure, it was a horrible, hellish place, but it was the essence of our existence, whether I liked it or not. I’m not sure how she’ll survive not being able to go home. It’s like telling a shark it’s no longer welcome to swim in the ocean.

And then, the awful realization that we’d never be safe where we were with the Light-angels after me, and I’d have to leave Tatiana and my life in Dove Creek behind. The only life I’d ever known and the only woman who’d ever shown me kindness, compassion, and love. And I had to leave.

And of course, Bones. His death truly saddens me. But it is absolutely killing Her. She keeps it buried, deep inside. But I feel it. Like an emptiness in her heart… a black poisonous hole that can never hope to be filled again.

“What do you think she’s like?” Corrine asks as she leans forward from her perch in the back seat. Her eyes are positively huge as she stares out at the luxurious countryside. “Other than obviously super rich.” She gulps and her lips become tense.

I shrug. “Dunno. Except the fact that she’s Tattie’s twin, I don’t really know much about her at all.”

“She’s a powerful witch, though,” Kieron adds. “She knows real magic. Just keep that in mind.”

Corrine swishes her hand. “Pshaw. As if that would freak me out. After traveling cross-country with a couple of demons, you have to do better than a silly ol’ witch to get a rise outta me.”

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