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Authors: Shyla Colt

Tags: #Ghost, #Romance, #Suspense, #Erotic Romance, #Supernatural, #thriller

Cast the Cards

BOOK: Cast the Cards
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Cast the Cards Copyright 2013

Shyla Colt

Cover by Dreams2Media

Edited my Em Petrova

All
rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written
permission of the author.

Cast The Cards

  By
           Shyla Colt

 

 

 

Dedications

To my family, friends, and fans who’ve joined me on
this wild ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

Summer,
2001

Cool
night air caressed bare arms, and Savannah shivered. Questioning her outfit of
choice, she stepped closer to Clark. The sleeveless, plum-colored dress with
the gold, Egyptian pattern, empire waist, and flaring skirt had been fierce in
the heat of the day. But with the sun gone down it was freezing.

“Cold?”
Clark asked in his soothing baritone.

“A
little.”

“Here.”
He shrugged out of his lightweight, brown leather jacket and helped her slide
her arms inside the too-long sleeves. His chivalry melted her like chocolate
candy in the sun. If she wasn’t already head over strappy-heeled sandals for
him, she’d be falling.

Now
I just need to tell him.
 When her childhood best friend Clark
and his identical twin Carey had opted to attend the community college for
their first two years alongside her, she’d been ecstatic. They’d been the Three
Musketeers since diapers. Separating would have ripped her heart out before she
jumped into the biggest adventure of her life. Freshman year felt like a
continuance of high school. Yet, somewhere between the start of sophomore year
and now things had shifted.

She
saw Clark in a brand new light. When he’d asked her to go to the carnival and
Carey had bowed out, she saw the opportunity she’d been waiting for.

His
scent permeated the jacket, and she pulled it closer, inhaling.
Sandalwood
and worn leather.

“Such
a gentleman.”

“’Course,
Vannah. Couldn’t let you freeze to death. Our parents would kill me.”  They
took a step forward as the group ahead of them entered the funhouse.

“So
what’s after this?” she asked.

“Tunnel
of Love and then head back to the dorms?” He inclined his head toward her.

“Sounds
good.”
 If you still want to talk to me after what I plan on pulling in the
tunnel.

“You
okay? You seem far away.” He cocked an eyebrow, dipping his head to meet her
gaze. His hair fell across his forehead and into his eyes. Concern darkened his
blue-green eyes to a beautiful turquoise. She longed to push the silken strands
back and tuck it behind the ears that curved slightly at the tips.

He
brushed the locks back impatiently, breaking the spell he’d held her under.

“Yeah,
just hoping there are no clowns inside.”

“Still
afraid of clowns?”  He smirked.

“Yes,
they’re creepy. It should never be socially accepted to hide your true identity
under make-up, and constantly perform odd rituals.”

“Rituals?”
His lips twitched with repressed laughter.

“Yes,
seltzer bottles of water, pies in the face. It’s like clowns have a chloroform
rag at the ready, waiting for the moment you let your guard down and turn your
back.” Crossing her arms under her chest, she huffed.

“I
think you’ve been reading too much Stephen King.”  He shook his head.

“Mock
me all you want. If we get into that place and a clown comes after me I’m
screaming that bitch down.”

He
laughed, shaking his head. “I could just see that too.” His gaze focused on
something behind her. “Looks like we’ll find out soon. It’s our turn.”

Her
heart smacked against her ribs, and her stomach plummeted into her shoes. She didn’t
feel right. Everything in her screamed “go back”. Clark moved forward and she
hesitated.

“Vannah?” 
He frowned, concern etched all over his face.

I
can’t wuss out. He loves fun houses.

“I’m
ready.” She gave a shaky smile, forced one foot in front of the other, and
followed him up the stairs.

“Step
right in to the house of a million faces,” said the ride worker in black jeans
and a black t-shirt. Clark wrapped an arm around Savannah’s waist and squeezed.

At
least something good is coming out of this.
Smoke obscured
her vision as they walked inside a dimly-lit hallway. A jack-in-the-box sprung
out near the end, and she screamed.

“Wound
tight, are we?” Amusement colored Clark’s voice.

“Shut
up.”

They
continued into a large room with multiple mirrors surrounding them.

“Which
way?” he asked.

“Left?”

“You
got it.”

They
turned and found themselves at a dead end. A strange sense of urgency hit her.

“Let’s
hurry up and find our way out of here, please.”  She tugged him to the right.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end, her skin prickled with fear. As
they found the proper passage she glanced over her shoulder to see a stern-faced
clown with dead eyes.  His garish white face was highlighted with bright red
lips and red and blue circles around the eyes. Bright orange hair stuck out
from underneath a dingy red hat.

Vannah’s
breath caught in her throat, and she urged Clark to go faster, almost stumbling
in her haste to get away.

“Whoa.
Calm down.” Normally his voice soothed but tonight the effect was lost on her.

“Clown.
I saw a clown.” They passed through a glow-in-the dark room and out into the
night. Once they cleared the doorframe her psyche sang with joy.  Bending over,
she gulped down air as he rubbed her back.

“Hey,
we can head home now if you want.”

Yes!
“No,
I’d like to go to the Tunnel if you don’t mind. It’s always been my favorite
ride.”

“It
would be.”

She
peered up at him and smiled. The light from the carnival rides sliced through
the night and highlighted his beautiful face. With a father from Spain and a
blonde mother with green eyes, he was born to be gorgeous.  He had a thin,
muscular frame covered in olive-colored skin, a strong jaw, and chocolate brown
hair that fell into his beautiful eyes just so.

“What’s
wrong with being a romantic?” She elbowed him in the side.

“Nothing
if you’re an English major.” The amusement in his tone softened his words.

“Whatever,
Mr. Undeclared.” She straightened up to her full five feet eleven inches.
“Let’s head over to the Tunnel.”

They
walked the thirty feet in comfortable silence. The Tunnel looked deserted.
Giant swan-shaped boats were lined up with no other carnival goers or ride
operators in sight. There was something ominous in the stillness.

“Looks
like you’re the only one who likes this thing,” he said.

“Yeah.”
She scanned the area. “Maybe it’s closed? We can just leave.”

As
soon as the words left her lips a man appeared in a Vaudeville outfit. A straw
hat set on top of his head. The red-and-white pinstriped sports jacket, white button-up,
red bowtie, and white pants were straight out of the nineteen fifties.

“Step
right up to the Tunnel of Love, folks.” It should have been charming. Instead,
it made her skin crawl. She tugged her borrowed jacket closer to ward off the
coldness that threatened to seep into her bones.  Clark ushered her over to the
boat, holding her hand as she stepped down into the vehicle that bobbed in the
water.

“Enjoy
your ride.” There was a strange look in the operator’s eyes she couldn’t quite
place. Watching him over her shoulder as the Swan began to drift into the
darkened passageway, a frown turned down the corners of her lips.

“Did
he seem strange to you?” She turned her gaze to Clark.

“We
are at a carnival.”

“Yeah,
that’s true.” She smiled.

Ducking
down to eye level, he stared. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“There
was actually something I wanted to tell you.” She toyed with the ring on her
finger, spun it around to disperse negative energy as she trained her gaze on
her lap.

“What’s
up? You know you can tell me anything. That’s what best friends are for.” Their
boat bumped the one in front of them. “Pile up in the Tunnel of Love.”

She
laughed, but her heart wasn’t in it. The apprehension from earlier returned.

“What
were you going to say?” he redirected the conversation.

“That.”
She glanced up at him and froze when she caught a glimpse of a shape in the
darkness. The clown from earlier was right behind him. Her throat seemed to
swell and her tongue felt thick and clumsy as she opened her mouth to warn him.

“Cl—”

A
cloth covered her mouth. Her scream ended before it began. The sweet, chemical
smell assaulted her senses, and she knew no more. 

 

Her
eyes fluttered open and she was met with an intense darkness. She swallowed in
an attempt to moisten the Sahara Desert of her mouth. Her head pounded. A
humming filled her ear, and the gentle rocking motion told her it was a vehicle
of some sort. She tried to move her limbs and couldn’t.

They’d
bound her.

Panic
set in. She rolled, made contact with something solid, and returned to her
former position. Her head spun and her stomach churned.  A grunt spilled into
the air.

“Clark?”
Her voice was scratchy. The whispered word was painful.

“Yeah.
I’m here.” He sounded weak.

She
did her best to look in the direction his voice had come from but ropes
restrained her. “Are you okay?”

 “I
think so… What happened?”

“We-we’ve
been kidnapped.” She wiggled her wrists, trying to loosen the rope. “We have to
get out of here. There’s no way they plan on letting us go. Neither of us comes
from a wealthy family, so it can’t be a ransom situation.” A heartbeat passed. “Clark?”

“We
can get out of here. My dad’s helped design cars for years. Somewhere in here
there should be a release latch. Look over my shoulder. Do you see anything giving
off light?”

She
focused on his words, scanned the area, and caught a tiny spot with a green
hue. “Yes.”

“Good,
scoot over here. I don’t want them to hear us. What you’re seeing should be the
trunk release mechanism. It can be a lever, handle, or cord.”

BOOK: Cast the Cards
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ads

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