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Lost in Shadows

J. Kenner

  Lost In Shadows

  The Redemption Chronicles, Book 2

  J. Kenner


  About Lost In Shadows

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Surrender to Dawn

  J. Kenner Series In KU

  Also by J. Kenner

  About the Author

  About Lost In Shadows

  Redemption Chronicles, Book 2

  If I’m not careful, I might discover there’s something worse than death.

  I thought I was working for the good guys. Believed I was fighting a battle to close the gates of hell. Turns out was holding them open like a welcome wagon for the demon hordes.

  I’m the worst demon assassin ever.

  And yet, I don’t completely suck. My handlers don’t know that I’m onto them. They trained me. Gave me powers and weapons. Now, with the help of a sexy half-demon I shouldn’t trust but can’t seem to resist, I’m going to shut the bastards down.

  But I can’t afford another mistake, not now when the stakes are higher than ever. After all, what could be worse than death? I don’t know … but I’m afraid I might find out.

  The Redemption Chronicles:

  Born in Darkness

  Lost in Shadows

  Surrender to Dawn

  Originally published as Tainted, Torn, and Turned, this trilogy has been lightly edited for this re-release.

  Lost in Shadows

  The Redemption Chronicles, Book 2

  Copyright © 2009, 2013, 2018 by Julie Kenner

  Originally published as Torn in mass market format by The Penguin Group

  Cover design by Michele Catalano, Catalano Creative

  Cover image by: acidgrey/

  ISBN Digital: 978-1-949925-00-5

  ISBN Print: 978-1-949925-01-2

  Published by Martini & Olive

  v. 2018-12-17

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or establishments is solely coincidental.


  My name is Lily Carlyle. Except that it's not. Not really. Not anymore.

  I'd gone out one night intending to kill the son of a bitch who'd stalked and raped my little sister, Rose. I failed, though, and instead of killing Lucas Johnson, I'd ended up dead.

  Not exactly the result I'd been hoping for, I'll admit. And it just got weirder when I woke up in someone else's body.

  Since that day, my name's been Alice Elaine Purdue.

  Which pretty much makes my name a metaphor for my life. Because nothing in my life is what it seems. For example, I thought that I'd been brought back to life to kill the demons who were trying to open the Ninth Gate to Hell. I thought I was stopping an army of demons from crossing over at the next interdimensional convergence. That I was preventing Armageddon. That I was doing Good, with a capital G, and when all was said and done, I'd walk away with a nice shiny halo and a great big A+ on my permanent record.

  Um, no.

  The truth is a lot more complicated. The truth, for that matter, pisses me off.

  I was duped. Told I was battling the Big Bad, when really I was doing Evil's bidding. My mission wasn't to keep the Ninth Gate locked up tight and hold back the demonic horde—it was to keep the good guys from doing that very thing.

  I hadn't prevented the end of the world; I'd facilitated it.

  The Ninth Gate is wide-open, and in less than two weeks, an army of demons is going to cross over. Life as we know it is going to end. And the cliché "hell on earth" will no longer be a figure of speech.

  At least, that's the demons’ dirty little plan. I, however, don't intend to let that happen. They made me a warrior, and by God it is time to do battle.

  I'm going to figure out how to lock the gate tight.

  And the more demons I have to kill to do that, the better.


  Like a caged panther, Deacon paced the length of the rank motel room. He wore jeans and a white T-shirt, and the look would have been almost casual were it not for the dark glasses that he sported despite the single dim lamp and the predawn hour.

  With those glasses, he looked like the consummate bad boy. Which, frankly, was exactly what he was. A demon. A Tri-Jal. One of the worst of the worst.

  More than that, though, he was a demon allied with a demon hunter—me. The irony made me smile even as a nugget of worry settled in my gut. Because this was a dangerous game I was playing. If I'd made the wrong choice in aligning myself with Deacon, I could very well end up paying the price for eternity. All I knew was that I couldn't deny him. Couldn't push him out of my life, out of my head, or even out of my heart. He'd claimed me once, gotten right inside my head, and announced that I was his. Mine, he'd said.

  And as every day passed, I feared that he was right.

  Feared it and fought it, but at the same time, I welcomed it.

  I didn't know where he'd found the dark glasses, and I didn't ask. What I did know was that he wore them because of me. Because if I couldn't see his eyes, I couldn't get into his head. And in his head was where the real bad boy lay. The images of past deeds. Of memories too horrible to share.

  I wanted to see them. Needed to see them. Needed to know the heart of this man who compelled me. But he wasn't letting me in, and the glasses were just one more way of telling me not to even try.

  Honestly, it pissed me off. Then again, these days, it didn't take much to irritate me. I was walking a knife-edge. Tilt one way, and I fell into rage. The other, and I slipped into despair.

  "It's almost dawn," he said.

  "You have somewhere else to be?" I asked. I was on the bed, my sister Rose's head cradled in my lap. And, yeah, I was tired and cranky. Too much had happened too quickly, and my head was spinning. My body might not need sleep anymore, but right then I craved a nap.

  As for Deacon, I honestly didn't know what he craved. Until now, I'd never been with him for any extended period, and I found myself wondering what he did with himself during the day, or during the night for that matter. I thought about asking, but since I wasn't certain I'd like the answer, I kept my mouth shut.

  The truth was, I didn't want him to leave. Didn't want him to tell me he had to disappear and that he'd come back when he could. I needed help. And, selfishly, I wanted Deacon with me. Wanted the comfort that his presence provided, even a supercharged presence that looked like it was on the verge of exploding.

  We'd been in our cracker-box motel for almost six hours, having holed up in the aftermath of a nasty little battle during which Lucas Johnson had shoved part of his demonic essence into Rose before we'd gotten her the hell out of there.

  She'd screamed in pain and terror, then passed out cold. She still slept, and to be honest,
I was beginning to worry that she'd never wake up. Deacon, however, had assured me that she would regain consciousness soon, albeit with one hell of a headache. I didn't ask him how he could be so certain about the particulars of demonic possession. That was just one more thing I didn't want to know.

  Add on top of all that the fact that I had, only hours prior, managed to single-handedly facilitate the imminent arrival of Armageddon, and you can probably see why I was a little stressed.

  “They'll start looking for you soon," Deacon said. "We need a plan."

  The "they" he referred to was actually a "he." Clarence. My amphibious handler. A toad-faced little demon who'd run the con on me and whom I despised all the more because I'd actually been starting to like him.

  "I have a plan," I said, stroking Rose's hair. "I already told you." For that matter, we'd talked of nothing other than my plan for hours. With me alternating between berating myself for failing both Rose and the world, and fantasizing in glorious detail how I would kill not only Clarence but every other demon I came in contact with.

  The fantasy alone was cathartic, but not nearly enough, and I couldn't wait for the real deal. I wanted the satisfaction of the kill. The strength I gained. And, yeah, I wanted the hit of power. I drew it in when I killed them. The demon's essence. Its darkness. Its fury.

  And, yeah, I was happy to embrace the homicidal happiness. Ironic, I suppose, since without all this demon-assassin prophecy bullshit, I wouldn't be having warm, fuzzy, murderous thoughts. I wouldn't be spending every day of my life trying to suppress the demonic essence that got sucked into me with each and every kill.

  And here's an interesting tidbit: You'd think that since I'd been unknowingly working for the bad guys, I would have been out there killing good guys who I'd been duped to whack. If that had been the case, then I'd be filled with goodness and light, about as sweet and charming as they come, because I would have sucked in the essence of a boatload of near-angelic souls.

  A nice theory, but not even close to my reality. Because Clarence and crew didn't want me sweet; they didn't want me nice. And they'd had me training on real, true, badass demons. Sacrificing their own kind so that I'd become more like them. More badass. More evil.

  Apparently, it had worked. Because the darkness writhed within me.

  I wanted to be over the top, and I wanted to end them all.

  "We can't simply waltz in and kill Clarence," Deacon said.

  "We?" I replied. "No, no, no. This one's personal. This is all me."

  "Fuck that."

  "Fuck you," I countered, demonstrating my keen skill at argument. "He's my handler. I can get close to him. Close enough to shove my blade through his heart." My plan was to go back to Alice's apartment, call Clarence, and pretend like I was the good little soldier. It didn't matter much if he believed me; it only mattered that he came over. But if Deacon was standing there beside me when he walked into the apartment, we lost the element of surprise, and what could have been a nice, clean kill would become a bloodbath.

  And as much as the thought of seeing Clarence waste away in a pool of his own blood left a nice warm feeling in my gut, for this job, I preferred the subtle approach. Grab him by the short hairs, and drag my blade across his fat little throat.

  "Besides," I said, "I have to get close to him, and you know it. Unless I get inside his head, this thing's over before it's even begun."

  The problem with swearing on all that is holy that you are going to go forth and lock the door to hell is pretty fundamental: Doors require keys. And without knowing where this particular key was, we were pretty much screwed.

  Deacon and I both knew damn good and well that there was no way Clarence was going to reveal the incantation for finding the legendary key that would permanently lock tight all of the nine gates to hell.

  To be honest, we didn't even know if Clarence knew the incantation, but I had to poke around and find out. And if he did know it, then we could use the spell to raise a map to the key's location on my skin. A rather handy but bizarre side effect of being Prophecy Girl.

  "The moment he knows you're poking around in his head, he's going to gut you like a fish," Deacon said. "And he may be shaped like a frog, but I'm betting he can move fast. He gets you down and injured, and you might find yourself in pieces or trapped in a tiny pine box forever."

  "I think I can handle Clarence," I said, even though I knew he was right. Yet another of the perks of my über-chick persona was immortality. And the idea of spending eternity awake but six feet under was definitely the stuff of my nightmares.

  For that matter, if I came up against a demon with telepathic powers, I could also end up the victim of permanent brain-fry. And since Clarence had just such a skill set, I had to consider the possibility that he'd be able to whup my ass without lifting a finger.

  "You're important, Lily. Don't risk yourself."

  The irony was inescapable, and I bit back a laugh. "Important," I repeated. "I think Clarence once told me that very thing."

  "I'm not him," he said. "And I'm not using you."

  I was about to argue but kept my mouth closed. The truth was, despite the inexplicable bond I felt with Deacon, I still didn't trust him. For that matter, I didn't trust anyone. I'd learned my lesson with Clarence, and until I had a peek into someone's mind, I had to assume their agenda was their own, and I was only a pawn.

  Needless to say, that wasn't a role I much liked.

  "You have to trust me sometime," Deacon said. He was looking straight at me, and I could see my reflection in the black lenses of his glasses.

  "No," I said. "I really don't." I'd work with him. Truth be told, I'd do a hell of a lot more with him. But that didn't mean I had to trust him.

  "Dammit, Lily," he said, grinding my name out like a curse.

  That frustration in his voice irritated me, finally snapping the string that had been holding my patience in place.

  "No," I snarled as I slid out from under Rose and moved across the small room to stand in front of him. I hadn't taken off my knife, and the pressure of the thigh holster against my leg gave me a sense of confidence. Of power. "You told me you had a vision of the two of us closing the Ninth Gate. Well, good for you. But in case you've forgotten, I've already played the we-need-you-to-save-the-world game once, and I lost big-time."

  I'd been told my mission was to stop a demon priest from opening a portal to hell. Instead, I'd been duped into stopping a real priest from sealing that very thing. And in only two short weeks, that portal was going to be filled with incoming demon traffic, busier than a freeway during morning rush hour.

  "I screwed up," I said. "I'm not going to make the same mistake twice."

  “Trusting me isn't a mistake," he said.

  "Since you won't let me look in your head, I have absolutely no way of knowing if you're bullshitting me or not."

  He stopped pacing and turned slowly toward me. Too slowly, actually, and I longed to see his eyes, to have a hint as to what he was thinking. Beneath the thin shirt, his muscles tensed. An animal readying for the kill.

  I took an involuntary step back, my hand going automatically to my blade even before I realized what I was doing.

  "You are not going inside my head again," he said, his voice slow and deadly.

  "If I want to, you can't stop me."

  "Believe me, Lily," he said. "I could stop you."

  "Wanna prove it?" I said, feeling pissed off and grumpy, and yeah, I wanted to hurt him. Wanted to pick a fight. The demons inside me were stirred up, gunning for some action. Violence. Pain. Sex. One at a time, or all at once in a singularly wild erotic moment. I didn't care. I just needed the release. The catharsis.

  "Back off, Lily," he said, his jaw firm and his muscles tense. He turned and deliberately looked toward Rose. "Back off and get a grip."

  I exhaled, loud and long, frustrated and ashamed. "At the end of the day, I don't know a damn thing about you except that you're a demon. A Tri-Jal." I knew that, and yet I als
o knew that I wanted him. Knew that I'd seen the two of us together, wild and naked, in his mind. But I'd seen blood there, too. And pain. And the promise of a redemption that he hadn't yet achieved. "You're asking me to take a lot on faith."

  "Yeah," he said, "I am."

  "I don't have a lot of faith left in me."

  "Lily . . . "

  "Dammit, Deacon. Let me in. Let me see. Let me have one true thing in this completely whacked world I live in now. One thing that I can feel and touch and say, 'Yes, I know this is real.'"

  He moved so fast I never saw the hand that reached out and jerked me toward him. He slammed me back against the wall, his arms caging me even as my palm closed around the hilt of my knife. He was hot and hard and right there, and I could hear the blood rushing through me, could feel my body tighten in reaction to his proximity. I heard myself gasp and hated myself for it. At the same time, I wanted nothing more than for him to close his mouth over mine and make me forget everything else that was going on in this freaked-out world we were living in.

  "You want true?" he whispered, leaning in close to my ear, his breath making me shiver. “Then hear this. I'm going with you. I'll wait in the back. I'll hide in a fucking closet if that's what it takes. But if it looks like Clarence is going to get the best of you, then I'm coming in and I'm taking him out. And that, Lily, is the truth."