Curse of Shadows and Light (Demonblood Book 3)By: Penelope King
She shakes her head in exasperation and takes me by the arm. “Here, come with me. There is a bench around the corner you may rest on. I may not want you here, but I don’t want you passing out on my front porch either.”
“I’m fine, I can stand.” My voice sounds hollow even to me. Another wave of dizziness nearly knocks me over, and she grips me tighter. “Okay. I’ll sit for a minute. But only until I don’t feel like I just flew off a roller coaster.”
Anastasia guides me down a stone path, around the side of the house and toward a rose garden. There a trio of ornately carved marble benches surround a birdbath, and she sits me down on one of them.
“Do you need something to drink? Some water perhaps?” Her voice is tight, as if she’d really prefer not to have to give me anything.
I shake my head again and focus on the pretty flowers. Anything to stop the world from spinning. “I’m fine. Just tired. We’ve been in the car a long time. It was an exhausting trip.” And one we apparently made for nothing.
She’s quiet for a while, and it’s obvious she doesn’t want me here. I know I should say something… beg, cry, plead for her help. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I feel her disgust, her disdain. I’d rather take my chances with the Light-angels than be at the mercy of someone who thinks I’m such trash.
The dizziness begins to ease, so I stand up. “Sorry we bothered you. It wasn’t our intention.”
Anastasia focuses on me intently. “The other one arrives at sundown, correct?”
“Lucky? Yeah, she’ll be here soon. Don’t worry, we’ll be gone before she shows. Have a nice evening.” I turn to leave.
“Wait. Stay a moment more. I want you to tell me why you came. What you want.”
I shrug. “Does it matter? Obviously we don’t belong here. This is like a fantasy world. People like us… me, Lucky, Kieron, even Corrine… we belong in the shadows.”
She narrows her eyes even more. “Is that what you really believe? That you must live in darkness forever?”
I turn back and sit down again. I wasn’t kidding when I told her I was exhausted. Or maybe it’s because when I look at her out of the corner of my eye she looks just like Tattie.
“It’s a long story. We need help. We need a sanctuary. A powerful, enchanted place that can hide us from Light-angels. And Tatiana also thought that maybe you could help Lucky and me reunify. Somehow magically put us back to how we were before our curse split us.”
Anastasia keeps staring at me, and I squirm under her penetrating gaze. “Look, I’m sorry we bothered you by coming here. It was Tattie’s idea. But I know when I’m not wanted, and Lucky will be here any moment so I really should go before things get worse—”
“You genuinely cared for Tatiana?” she asks, her voice soft.
I frown. “Well, of course. I love her more than anything. She’s the only mother I’ve ever known, and the one friend I’ve had my whole life. She means everything to me.”
Anastasia nods slowly. Her mouth pulls down at the corners, and her eyes suddenly dim. She looks away and takes a deep breath.
“So it would sadden you then to learn that she died last night?”
Everything goes eerily quiet. As if time has stopped and the air has frozen.
She turns back and fixates her hard gaze on me. “Last night. She was attacked and killed by Light-angels who were looking for you. I felt everything as it happened to her, as we have a very powerful connection. Or rather we did. It has now been permanently severed, thanks to you!”
My head spins as the dizziness crashes over me.
“No. No. It’s not true… she can’t be…!”
“They tortured her. They hurt her. Her dying act was to protect you,” Anastasia says hotly, her eyes blazing now.
“No! I don’t believe you!” I can’t catch my breath, and my heart is pounding.
“You got my sister killed! Her blood is on your hands. And now you come here asking for my help? For sanctuary? I should send your body out to the middle of the ocean right now and let the sharks fight over you!”
I grip the edge of the bench, but my arms give out, and I collapse in sobs and tumble to the grass below. “No… no… it can’t be! Please don’t let it be true. Please let Tattie be okay! Please, no—”
“Oh, it’s true. And you will suffer the consequences.”
The familiar fire pricks at my skin, a welcome escape from the agony seizing my chest, stealing my breath and shredding my soul.
As I fade into darkness, I have one final thought.
If Tatiana really is dead because of me, I don’t want to ever wake up.
Chapter 3. Lucky
I feel like someone has kicked me in the chest with a steel-tipped boot and there’s a poison arrow lodged in my gut. I suck in some air and sit up, disoriented. All I see is a luscious landscape of grass and colorful flowers, and lanterns lighting a cobblestone walk, all next to an enormous mansion overlooking the ocean. It’s a beautiful scene… like a picture. And strangely at odds with the overwhelmingly horrific way I feel.