Fire and Beauty (The Vampires of Shadow Hills Book 3)Willow Rose
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Eight Months Before the Halloween Block Party
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I. Savage, Excerpt
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Copyright Willow Rose 2018
Published by BUOY MEDIA LLC
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No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Juan Villar Padron,
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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Eight Months Before the Halloween Block Party
Magdalene was lying in the gutter. The jacket she had found in the dumpster was soaked from the rain earlier, and she was freezing. She sat up as a couple walked by, then addressed them, getting up from the wet pavement.
"Have any spare change for a hungry girl?" she asked.
"Go away," the man said, and they walked past her. "Get out of here." Magdalene could hear their steps disappearing, then yelled:
"Ten dollars and I'll tell you who she slept with last night at the party when you weren't looking."
The couple stopped. Magdalene heard their footsteps stop, then twisted her head from side to side; she reached out her hand with a grin on her face.
"Help a blind girl out?" she asked. "For twenty I can tell you who the father is of the child she’s carrying."
The man scoffed. "What the…?"
"I swear, I don't know what she is talking about," the woman said.
"Sure, you do," Magdalene said. "He wears a necklace with a half-moon in it. Gold. You like to pull it when you…"
The woman approached her, then reached out to slap her, but foreseeing it would happen, Magdalene avoided it. She laughed and pointed her finger at the woman.
"I don't need no eyes to see, ma'am. And I see you, very clearly." Magdalene put her hand on the woman's stomach and felt it. "Ten weeks," she said. "And it's a girl."
"Let's go. She's just a poor soul," the man said. "Find someone else to bother, little girl."
"Ask her about her trip to Florida," she yelled after them as they left, the woman whimpering slightly.
Magdalene felt the hunger gnawing at the pit of her stomach. It had been a while since she had last eaten. Sunday mornings were usually a good time for begging since people coming back from church were more generous than usual. But today had been a slow day, and Magdalene was getting worried she would have to go hungry again.
"Fortunetelling, sir?" she asked as a man walked past her. "Only five dollars and I'll tell you everything you need to know."
"If you are a good fortune teller, little girl, why are you here in the streets begging for money? Couldn't you have foreseen it?" The man laughed and elbowed someone standing next to him.
"Or maybe she could have foreseen the lottery numbers," the other man standing next to him said. She could hear by the sound of his voice that he was grinning.
But Magdalene was the one who got the last laugh. "How about I give you a freebie and tell you to have the doctor take a very close look at that bump that you felt in your armpit a few weeks ago but told yourself was nothing."
They both went quiet. Neither of them laughed anymore. They left, rushing away from her, while Magdalene sighed, annoyed with herself. If she kept scaring the c
ustomers away, she would never get anything to eat.
As she heard more footsteps approaching, she turned and gave him her most endearing smile, deciding to be on her best behavior.
"Care for a fortunetelling, sir?"
It had begun when she was just a young child. Magdalene had known she was different before she saw the first signs, but when she was about six years old, she told someone her fortune by accident. She had seen it. It was like a bright light in front of her eyes, back when she had a pair. Inside that light, she had seen her friend's mother devoured by flames, and worst of all, she had heard her scream too.
Six days later, the friend's house burned down. They were all asleep when it happened, and the mother was the only one who didn't make it out. When she realized she had actually predicted this happening, Magdalene decided never to speak again. And so, she didn't for two years, until the day they came for her mother.
There were four of them. Four men in long black coats, hats, and sunglasses who approached the house. Magdalene watched them from her swing as they marched toward the house and knocked on the door. Right before it all went down, Magdalene had noticed that one of the men had a big hairy spider crawling on his neck and the sight of it had made her shiver. She also saw the look of terror on her mother's face when she saw them and then she heard the spider hiss and then she saw them grab Magdalene's mother and hold her down. They took out something from the back of their van, something that looked like a handheld vacuum cleaner like the one Magdalene had seen the old lady living down the street use to clean her Golden Retriever's long fur. One of the men approached her mother with it. In great distress, her mother then made fire using only her fingers and slung flames at them. And that was when they turned on the vacuum thing, and it made an awful sucking noise and grabbed onto her mother's skin and sucked the very soul out of her mother's body, leaving nothing but an empty shell of what was once her lovely mother. The shell fell to the ground with a thud. From the yard, Magdalene started to whimper just as her father came up behind her, grabbed her, and ran off with her, the men in black coats in pursuit. But her father was faster than the wind could blow, and they escaped in a blink of Magdalene's eye.
For about a year, they hid in a friend's basement, Magdalene watching her dad growing wearier and wearier as the days passed. He would sit in their dark room, his hands shaking, fearing that someone would come to the door, jumping every time the phone rang in the house or someone rang the doorbell. In the end, they didn't even find him in the house, but they got to him on a day he had taken Magdalene to get some ice cream, finally allowing both of them to go out in the daylight. He didn't see them coming until it was too late. Cars drove up, tires screeching, and they held out their small vacuum cleaners at him. Magdalene's father tried once again to run, but this time the men had brought someone with them who was just like him, just as fast as he was and there was no escape. Magdalene watched yet again as they used their vacuum cleaners to suck out the very soul of her father and screamed as his shell fell to the ground.
"What do we do about the girl?" one of them then asked.
One of the men approached her with a big hairy spider in his hand and the spider had taken one look at her, then let out a loud hiss.
"She's a super," he said, "she goes."
But Magdalene hadn't been as easy a target as her parents. Somehow, she had managed to let herself explode into a ball of fire, then—just by thinking about her old house—she was able to transport herself there in a glimpse of a second, leaving all the men in their black coats behind. But as she did, one of the men, the one who had also been very fast and very much like her father, had reached out his vacuum cleaner and sucked out her eyes. When she found herself inside her old house, she discovered she had also lost her sight.
Ever since, she had walked the streets, using her abilities to tell people their fortunes and staying on the move, continually fearing that those men in black coats would come for her again, knowing that next time she wouldn't be able to react as quickly since now she couldn't see them.
Now, as she stood across from the man who had just approached her and she asked him if he wanted to have his fortune told, she heard the sound of a spider, and the very same hiss as she had heard on that day she had lost her sight.
Magdalene gasped and recoiled.
Next thing, she heard the man start the vacuum cleaner, and she felt like her entire body was torn to pieces.
The man then left her soulless body to rot in the gutter, whistling as he swayed along on his long, skinny legs.
I have someone I want you to meet."
My mom wasn't looking at me when she said the words. It was Monday morning and she was standing with her back turned to me, cutting kale, while I was working on my computer, doing my schoolwork for the day.
"Excuse me?" I asked.
She cleared her throat, then finally turned and faced me. "I have invited him for dinner. With his parents."
I almost choked. "You're…you're going to set me up with someone?"
"Set you up…that's such an awful expression, don't you think?" she asked, still holding the knife in her hand. "Sounds almost like I am planning to kill you ha-ha."
I stared at my mom, paralyzed. To me, everything about what she had just told me was awful.
"You're kidding, right?" I asked.
"Why…no, Robyn. I’ve known these people for years. Their son is a very nice young man. A big shot at Harvard. And he’s handsome too."
"Let me guess. He's going to be a lawyer?" I asked, rolling my eyes.
"No. For your information, he's going to take over the family business once he is done."
Nothing could sound more boring to me. I sighed, knowing I didn't have a choice. I was dating someone else, the love of my life, and counted the minutes till I turned eighteen and could be with him as much as I wanted to, but so far, my mom couldn't know about Jayden and me.
We had been sneaking around, seeing each other whenever we could. In the afternoons, I would usually tell my mom I wanted to go for a run around the lake and she would let me. Then I would meet up with him by our old tree and we would kiss and hang out for half an hour till I had to go back. It wasn't much, but it was at least something. It was far better than nothing.
"And just what kind of business might that be?" I asked, not interested at all, but trying to please my mom.
"They own the Pritchard Organization. His dad is a senator now, and his older uncle is running the business till Duncan Pritchard is done with school and is ready to enter the business. It is the plan that he shall take over completely one day. It is expected of him."
"And what exactly does this Pritchard Organization do?" I asked, still not very interested.
"You know, real estate development, investing, brokerage, sales and marketing and property management. Stuff like that. They even own castles in Scotland and they're related to the British royal family."
My mother gleamed as she spoke the words. I could tell she was very excited about me meeting this Duncan fellow. I guessed there wasn't any way out of actually meeting this guy and his family.
Probably duller than a tax class. There is no way a guy like that will ever be interested in someone like me.
I shrugged. "All right. When are they coming?"
My mother almost sparkled. "At six. Wear your blue dress and please do something about that hair of yours. It's like you're not even trying."
Jazmine came home from school to find her house empty as usual. She rushed up the stairs to her room and found a clean shirt to put on since she had spilled on the other one when eating lunch in the cafeteria at school. Adrian had said he might come over once he got home and she wanted to look good. They had been together for two weeks now. She wasn't sure they were actually dating, but they were seeing each other pretty regularly, and, boy, had that changed her life for the better.
Adrian was so thrilling to be with and so incredibly hot.
Jazmine heard a whimper and rushed to the window. Outside in her driveway sat the dog that had followed her home from school. It had been running next to her bike, not wanting to go away even though she yelled at it to go home. Now it was sitting out there, whimpering. Why?
If you ignore it, it'll go home.
Jazmine returned to getting ready. She looked at her reflection, annoyed with her hair. Her eyes and nails were glowing a bright green as they had a lot lately, telling her that she was happy. It was Adrian who had told her he believed the green had to mean she was happy. And she had started to keep an eye on it. In class, her nails were usually beige or even gray, and she figured it meant she was very bored, whereas when she watched a scary movie with Adrian the other day, her nails glowed purple and red.
The dog was still whimpering outside her door and it annoyed her. Jazmine pulled the curtain, so she didn't have to look down at it since it would only make it believe it could persuade her to let it stay. And she couldn't keep it. There was no way her parents would let her keep some random dog that had followed her home. Plus, she had BamBam, and she wouldn't be happy to have a dog in the house suddenly.