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Authors: Laura DeLuca

Demon

BOOK: Demon
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Demon

Dark Musicals Trilogy, Book 2

Laura DeLuca

_

Copyright 2013, Laura DeLuca

Pagan Writers Press

Houston, Texas

ISBN: 978-1-938397-47-9

Edited by Tara Chevrestt

Cover by Elke Weiss

http://paganwriterspress.com

Dedication

For Sharon Babb Wanamaker—

A friend who has stood by me since our college days

and who taught me all I’ll ever need to know about cockatiels.

And for my publisher Angie, who helped to make my dreams come true.

I love and admire you as a fellow artist, Sister of the Craft,

and most importantly, as a true friend!

Prologue

Rebecca Hope sat high atop a deserted lifeguard bench, watching the waves roll in along the oceanfront, bringing with them an abundance of broken seashells and seaweed. Behind her, the sand stretched for miles. The distant screams from the roller coaster were the only sounds marring the peaceful beauty of the night. She watched as the sun dipped into the deep blue sea, turning the waters a murky gray. Looking out at the endless stretch of water made anything seem possible, but not even the spectacular beauty of the evening was enough to pull Rebecca from her sullenness.

“I can’t believe the summer is already over.” She sighed. “This is it. It’s really our last night together. Tomorrow we’re officially college students.”

Rebecca’s boyfriend Justyn Patko gave her a supportive squeeze, but when she looked over at her best friend Carmen Webber, her eyes welled with tears. They had been close since grade school. Rebecca wasn’t sure how she was going to face life without her friend by her side. They had never been apart for more than a few days.

Carmen waved her hand in dismissal, but Rebecca heard the catch in her voice. “Please don’t talk about it. You know I don’t like letting people see me cry.” She hugged the newly acquired teddy bear that her boyfriend Tom Rittenhouse had spent at least fifty dollars trying to win for her.

“Come on, guys.” Tom gave Carmen a light jab in the arm. “It’s not that bad. It’ll be Thanksgiving before we know it. Then we’ll have a big reunion. We’ll all swap stories about college life and how hard we partied.”

“Besides,” Justyn added, “this is a beginning. Not an ending.”

A commutative sigh rang out as they considered that. It was the last day of summer vacation. It was bittersweet, but they had decided to make the most of it. They drove the forty-five minutes to a little tourist town called Wildwood, a resort known for its free beaches and spectacular amusement parks. They spent the day sunbathing, exploring the boardwalk, and stopped for dinner at a little restaurant called
Duffy’s on the Lake
. Finally, they headed back to the beach to watch the sun set on the nearly deserted shoreline.

“At least you two will be together,” Carmen said with a wistful glance at Tom. “Tom and I are going to be on opposite ends of the country.”

Rebecca couldn’t argue. She knew how lucky she was. Tom was off to his endless summer in California while Carmen would be staying close to home and attending a state college in New Jersey. They were going to be a world apart.

Rebecca and Justyn had both been accepted to the New York School of Performing Arts. Their tuition was paid in full, thanks to the talent scout who had come in search of Justyn, but found a duo he refused to leave behind. They even arranged to rent a small apartment off campus, much to her parents’ displeasure. Still, the fact that Rebecca would have her boyfriend by her side didn’t mean she wasn’t nervous about leaving her hometown and everything she knew. In fact, she was downright terrified.

Justyn seemed to read her thoughts, even though he addressed everyone. “Don’t worry. After all we’ve been through this past year … college will be like one big vacation.”

Rebecca saw Tom nod in the darkness. They were all contemplative for a moment, remembering the nightmare they had faced. During their high school drama club’s production of
Phantom
, one of the students had stalked and terrorized them, even going so far as murdering two of their classmates, including Tom’s best friend Jay. Justyn had been close to death when the crazed killer was de-masked on opening night. Luckily, the gunshot only hit his shoulder.

Rebecca noticed Justyn grimace and try to readjust his arm on the cramped bench only meant for two. He was lucky he was an actor and not a pitcher, because his shoulder would never be the same. Rebecca still felt responsible. After all, it was her friend Debbie who had hurt all those innocent people, including Justyn—all because she had secretly yearned for a romantic relationship with Rebecca.

“Hey, babe,” Tom said to Carmen, interrupting Rebecca’s dark reverie, “how about one last stroll along the beach?”

Carmen nodded. The pretty Latina tried so hard to maintain the tough-girl facade, but Rebecca could see her eyes glistening as she climbed down the ladder that led to the sand. She watched them walk away hand-in-hand, but they hadn’t gone far before Carmen finally fell apart. Tom wrapped his arms around her and stroked her long black hair. Rebecca, feeling like an eavesdropper on the intimate moment, averted her eyes to give them some privacy.

“You know, we really are lucky,” Justyn whispered and tilted her head to place a gentle kiss on her lips. “I’ve moved a dozen times in my life. I’ve left friends and family behind more than once, but I don’t think I could ever bear to leave you.”

Rebecca smiled and studied his familiar face in the moonlight. His multiple facial piercings glistened against his pale skin and dark outlined eyes. His solid black ensemble should have made it hard to see him in the night.

When people saw Rebecca with the dramatic Goth, it took them by surprise. They made a strange pair. With her everyday jean shorts and curly brown hair, Rebecca was the poster girl for boring. Yet they made it work, and Rebecca couldn’t imagine herself with anyone else. They were completely in tune with each other and created a sort of magical harmony, not only with their voices, but in all aspects of their relationship. She had even learned a few things from him. She touched the silver pentacle that dangled around her neck. She was still in the midst of her year-and-a-day training. She had a few more months before she could call herself a full-fledged witch. But thanks to Justyn, she had discovered her spiritual path as well as her soul mate.

“I feel the same way,” Rebecca told him and leaned her head against his shoulder. “I couldn’t imagine beginning this adventure without you by my side.”

“Before we start this new chapter, there’s something I wanted to give you.” Justyn reached into the deep pockets of his black cargo pants and retrieved a little black box wrapped with silver ribbon.

“Really, Lord Justyn, you spoil me way too much,” she addressed him playfully by his nickname.

He shrugged. “You’re worth spoiling, my lady.”

He kissed her fingers as he slipped the gift into her hand. She felt a warm blush rise to her cheeks, and her heart fluttered. Rebecca loved the fact that even though their relationship had matured, Justyn still had the uncanny ability to make her swoon. With her heartbeat still accelerated, she examined the little box and shook it gently. Inside, she heard something rattle.

“But I didn’t get you anything.” She pouted.

“That’s okay. This is for both of us.”

She raised an eyebrow, a habit she had picked up from him. “Do you often give yourself gifts in velvet-trimmed boxes?” she teased.

Justyn rolled his eyes. “Just open it and you’ll see what I mean.”

Rebecca unwound the silver ribbon. When she lifted the lid, she found two matching pendants, each laced to a long hemp chain. They were shaped sort of like seashells, with an endless spiral pattern that looped out from the center as the chambers grew larger. They were dark brown in color with a few hints of tan along the edges. The stones had been polished and smoothed on both sides, but when she lifted them, she could see that the two pieces fit together perfectly. She swore the halves fought to snap together, like magnets in her hand. There was an energy pulsing and vibrating within the stones that even a novice witch like Rebecca could feel.

“They’re beautiful,” Rebecca whispered as she ran her hand along the intricate grooves.

“It’s an ammonite.” Justyn lifted one of the pendants, brushed her hair to the side, and hooked the clasp around her neck. His breath tickled her skin as his hands moved with graceful dexterity, giving her goose bumps despite the humid August night. “They’re actually fossils that are millions of years old, named after Ammon, an ancient Egyptian deity. When they’re divided in half, they’re perfect mirrors of one another. Some cultures believe that if the two halves are given to lovers, it will bind them together forever. When made into necklaces, they’re often called soul mate pendants.”

“Wo-wow,” Rebecca stuttered. As usual, the sentiment behind Justyn’s gift was even more beautiful than the gift itself. It left her a little flustered. “That’s amazing. How do you know all this stuff?”

“You don’t spend eighteen years living with Darlene without learning a thing or two.”

Rebecca laughed. Justyn’s mother Darlene was definitely something special. EMT, exotic belly dancer, and Wiccan High Priestess were only a few of the titles she claimed. Rebecca knew she was a fountain of earth-based knowledge after years of studying the Craft. As Darlene’s new apprentice, Rebecca greedily dipped into that knowledge herself as often as possible.

“It’s beautiful,” Rebecca repeated, too overcome with emotion to think of anything more eloquent to say. “You certainly know how to make things interesting.”

“Like I told you on our first date, I try not to be boring.” He winked at her. “So … are you going to put mine on for me?”

“Oh yeah … sorry.”

Rebecca giggled as she lifted the hemp chain. She wasn’t nearly as graceful as Justyn. She almost dropped the necklace in the sand three times before she managed to get the clasp locked. When she finally had it secured, he placed his hand over her heart, where the ammonite lay. He did the same with her hands, lifting them to his chest. His dark eyes had lost all glimmer of humor. He met her gaze with a stare filled with genuine emotion. Beneath her fingers, she could feel the gentle, steady rhythm of his heart beating in perfect tune with her own.

“Our love will span both space and time. In this life and the next, you shall be mine. All eternity I will be by your side. For a love so strong cannot be denied. Spirit and flesh merged into one. So mote it be, for all days to come.”

When he was done with the recitation, he kissed her. Not just a gentle brush, but a deep, passionate embrace that left her throat tight and her heart pounding with a familiar yearning.

“I’ve never heard that poem before,” she said once she’d caught her breath. “Who are you quoting?”

Even in the moonlight, she could see him blush. “I guess I was quoting myself. It was really more of an incantation than a poem though. These necklaces are meant to be a symbol of our love, and it seemed a little spell work could only add to the power of the stones. There is power in words, Becca. Just like there is power in nature.”

“You mean, you wrote that?”

He nodded, but his eyes twinkled, and the playfulness was back in his voice. “Well, actually, I just made it up as I went along.”

“Wow. Actor, singer, and now an improv poet slash chant writer. Is there anything you
can’t
do, Lord Justyn?”

He smiled and tilted her chin so he could look into her eyes. “I can’t stop loving you.”

When they kissed, they stayed wrapped in each other’s arms. They embraced not only each other, but the silence that surrounded them. The cool ocean breeze stroked her skin in time with his hands. The moon’s silver rays were reflected on the water, and the stars glittered like diamonds above them. It was a perfect night, and Rebecca wished it would never end. But before too long, a hand thumped against the wooden bench and Tom’s cheerful face popped up from one corner.

“Hey, lovebirds. I hate to break up a tender moment, but Carmen and I really have to get going. I’m leaving for California at four a.m.”

Rebecca sighed, but she knew Tom was right. They all had a big day ahead of them. They needed to get some rest. Justyn jumped down from the lookout, and ever the gentleman, offered her his hand so she wouldn’t fall on her face in the sand. Once she was securely on the ground, Rebecca noticed Carmen’s eyes were red-rimmed. She would never embarrass her friend by mentioning it, but seeing her that way finally broke Rebecca’s thin grasp on her own emotions. She threw her arms around Carmen and burst into tears.

“I’m going to miss you so much,” she sobbed.

“You too, girl.” Carmen couldn’t hold back any longer either and wept on her shoulder. “You better tell your parents to expect a big cell phone bill. And you two best not forget us when you’re famous on Broadway. I want free front row tickets to every single performance.”

Rebecca rolled her eyes and sniffed. “Like that’s ever going to happen.”

“With you two, it just might,” Tom agreed. Justyn reached out to shake his hand, but Tom pulled him into a hug. “I’m glad we got to know each other, vampire,” Tom teased. “You’re not nearly as wacked as I first thought you were.”

“You’re not so bad either,
dude
,” Justyn replied. “I might even miss having you around.”

“‘Til Thanksgiving?” Carmen asked.

“Until Thanksgiving,” they all repeated. With one final exchange of hugs, the four high school friends parted ways to start their new adventures as college co-eds.

BOOK: Demon
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