Demonically Tempted (Frostbite)

BOOK: Demonically Tempted (Frostbite)
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DEMONICALLY TEMPTED

Frostbite Book Two

 

Stacey Kennedy

 

Tess Jennings, now a member of the Memphis Police Department, is on her first cold case. The suspected suicide of Lizbeth Knapp ten years ago isn’t a theory her family accepts—they believe she was murdered.

But the case is only one of Tess’s worries. Ghosts are talking, and word of her abilities rapidly spreads. A dark ghost is terrifying the spirits of Memphis, and she must force the entity to cross over.

Tess doesn’t have to do this alone. Not only does she have her ghost-lover, Kipp McGowen, but the department has brought in a medium. Dane Wolfe might answer all her questions, but he also brings a world of trouble. Will Tess finally have all she’s ever wanted, or will everything she’s vowed to protect be ripped away?

 

 

DEMONICALLY TEMPTED

Frostbite Book Two

 

Stacey Kennedy

 

DEMONICALLY TEMPTED

Frostbite Book Two

 

Stacey Kennedy

 

Published 2012

 

“Demonically Tempted” copyright 2012 by Stacey Kennedy

 

Cover Artist: PJ Edwards

Editor: Tracey West

Copy Editor: Kerry Vail

 

‘DEMONICALLY TEMPTED’, is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher and individual author, except for brief quotations used in critical articles or reviews.

 

Dedication

 

To all the readers who love a ghost named Kipp as much as I do!

 

Acknowledgments

 

As always, thanks to my critique partner, Sara Brookes, for all her support.

Gina Gordon and Amy Ruttan, I really appreciate that you took time out of your busy schedules to squeeze in a read.

PJ Edwards for the amazing covers she delivers.

A big thank you to Tracey West for going through my story to fix my horrible grammar and catch those nasty plot holes. It was a pleasure to work with you again!

Kerry Vail, you know I love ya, girl, for doing a final read through of the story to make sure it was pretty and polished.

To Karen Dales, for her wonderful advice on magical rituals that guided me in the right direction.

Lots of love to Michelle Leah Olson (Literal Addiction Paranormal Book Club), Amber Imbrogno (AwesomeSauce Book Club), Evelyn Amaro (Paromantasy), Annie Slasher (Booked and Loaded), and Wendy Negron for being my go-to-gals who proofread this story.

Lastly, to all the readers who have supported Tess and Kipp. Your enthusiasm for the series has inspired and humbled me.

 

Trademark Acknowledgment

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Ghostbusters: Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Hannibal Lecter: Orion Pictures Corporation and Thomas Harris.

Hogwarts: J.K. Rowling.

Luke Skywalker: 20th Century Fox.

The Notebook: Nicholas Sparks.

 

Chapter One

 

The old farmhouse had seen better days. Not only could it use a coat of paint, but it also needed a dose of love. Dry, brown grass surrounded the home, and the only flowers topped four-foot high weeds.

I glanced next to me at Zach—a cop with the Memphis P.D.—and crinkled my nose. “Someone actually lives here?”

His blue eyes met mine and he ran a hand through his blond, stylish hair and shrugged. “Max said the victim’s sister still resides in the home where the death happened.”

As he lowered his arm, he cringed, and I winced at the memory. Heck, only weeks ago he’d been stabbed and shot in the shoulder.

The man who caused Zach’s injury got it worse—by my very hand, no less—but I was glad Hannah Reid’s murderer hadn’t returned to haunt me.

I might have suffered some serious remorse. That is, if I didn’t believe God wouldn’t punish me because I killed a murderer. Brody would’ve done the same to me if I hadn’t gotten to him first. I tried my best to stick with that theory. It saved me from the lingering guilt I might—and would never admit to—have for taking a life.

Sure, there was an internal investigation through the police department, and I had been questioned until my voice went scratchy. But in the end, the shooting had been declared self-defense, and I was perfectly happy with that. Or so I told myself every day until I finally believed it.

Besides, the cops that I now worked alongside had my back throughout the investigation, and nothing would change that. We’d grown close through the time spent during the Reid case, and even closer in the weeks that followed.

“I’m going to see if Lizbeth is out here somewhere,” Kipp—a ghost, and my lover—said, dragging me from my thoughts.

Yes, our relationship was complicated and it’s insanely sick that I’m in love with a ghost, but I wasn’t about to fight my heart’s desire.

“If you find her, then come tell us,
immediately
. The less time I have to spend in that house, the better.” Scummy houses and me didn’t mesh well. I like cleanliness and hate spiders.

“He’s going off on his own then?” Zach asked.

As of late, Zach had caught on to our conversations better. Seeing that I was the only lucky one—or not so lucky as I viewed it—who could hear ghosts’ communication was annoying, at best.

Maybe I gave more descriptions in my answers than I normally did, or maybe he’d gotten used to having to fill in the blanks. Whatever it was, I appreciated the ease of our conversations now. The back and forth got on my last nerve.

As Kipp strode away, I stared at his scrumptious ass filling his dark blue jeans. The man might be a ghost, but he was sex packaged into muscular goodness.

One of his eyes was chocolate brown, while the other was crystal blue, and he had untidy brown hair that no matter how messy only made him look more attractive. And he was all
mine
.

I blinked, pulling myself away from my ogling, and frowned at Zach. “Ready?”

His gaze danced with laughter, yet a smile never appeared. “For someone who accepted a job with the department, you would think you’d hold more excitement.”

“Just because I can officially call myself part of the police department—which is absurd, by the way—doesn’t mean I still don’t have hesitations.”

My gift took a while to adjust to but I knew when to see reason. Helping ghosts that had met a horrible fate wasn’t a bad job. That is, as long as I didn’t run into any more crazy-ass killers who wanted to make me a ghost, too.

Zach approached the house, and I trailed after him, not showing half the confidence he carried in his gait.

I climbed the old steps, slightly worried the wood would break under my weight, but seeing Zach went first and the man was all power, the wooden planks could support my slender frame.

He knocked on the door. And a moment later, it opened to a woman who matched the house. She appeared to be in her fifties, but the dark circles under her eyes and the hunch to her shoulders made her look well worn.

“Ms. Knapp?” Zach asked.

“Yes.” Her voice dripped with despair. “Are you the detectives?”

Zach nodded. “Is it still all right if we come in?”

She widened the door, and moved aside. “Please call me Anna.”

“Thank you, Anna.” Zach entered the home. “We appreciate you taking the time to discuss Lizbeth with us.”

I hesitantly followed and tried my damndest not to let my repulsion in the house show. Not an easy feat.

“Please, will you have a seat?” She waved out to a couch that I wouldn’t sit on even if it had a layer of plastic over top of it.

I held back my desire to gag, and twirled my finger in my brown, shag-cut hair. “I’m okay here, thanks.”

Zach grimaced at me before he took a seat and shed all emotion as he turned to Anna. “We’re aware that this will be difficult for you to discuss, but we need you to remember anything you can from when Lizbeth died.”

“I’m not sure I can tell you anything that…” She peeked up at the ceiling. I followed her gaze seeing dark brown stains, and restrained my shudder. “…Max, was that who I spoke with?”

“That’s right. He’s the sergeant.” Zach smiled softly. “He told us the necessary information, but I’ve learned it’s always best to hear it directly for myself.”

In all actuality, I hadn’t heard all the details except that I was
officially
on my first cold-case.

“Well,” Anna paused, glancing down at her fingers as she fiddled them. “It started a year before Lizbeth’s death. She began to act differently.”

Zach pulled his pad of paper and pen from his pocket, and flipped the notebook open. “Can you explain that in more detail?”

I clasped my hands in front of me. Just because I was now part of team didn’t mean I would start acting like a cop in any official capacity. Let’s be serious now. I wasn’t
really
a detective.

Anna continued, “She’d talk to me about an evil presence around her.”

“Evil?” I gasped.

“I know how funny it sounds. At the time, it did to me, too. But looking back, Lizbeth just didn’t seem like herself, and maybe I should’ve listened to her.” Anna crossed her arms and shifted in her seat. “She used to be a very happy young woman. Full of life and spirit, but all of a sudden she seemed so dark.”

I gave my head a shake, trying to make sense out of her nonsense. “Dark how?”

“Depressed.” Anna exhaled. “She never came out of her room, and totally withdrew from life.”

“She was suicidal, then?” Zack asked with a gentle tone.

“I suppose you’d draw that conclusion from what I’m telling you now, but the truth is I never took her to be the type.” She gave a knowing look. “Like I said, she was well adjusted and quite happy.”

“But you just said she was depressed,” I countered.

“Yes, I did, but still, Lizbeth was a fighter. She used to tell me that this evil presence was overtaking her soul, and she tried so hard to fight against it.”

Zach made a face. I made one of my own. We were speaking English, yet gibberish would have made more sense.

Seeing that we were getting nowhere, and I suspected Anna had lost her mind a long time ago, I moved along. “Did her condition get worse?”

“It got so bad, my parents had no idea what to do. You have to remember it was a different time. The medications for depression that exist today didn’t back then.” Tears welled in her eyes, but they cleared just as quick. “My parents took her to a doctor, even admitted her into a hospital, but my mother couldn’t manage to leave her there. She thought love would bring Lizbeth out of her trouble.”

“Clearly, it didn’t.”

“That’s right, it only got worse. Lizbeth started to hurt herself.”

Zach’s eyebrows rose. “You mean, caused injuries to herself?”

“No one ever knew—and Lizbeth never said—how she did it. But she had lacerations all over her back.”

Zach scribbled notes, and then peered at Anna. “Did Lizbeth ever say anything to you about the wounds?”

Those tears now weren’t so easily pushed away. “She was adamant she had never caused them.”

One conclusion came to my mind. “No one believed her, did they?”

“Who else would have done it?” Anna retorted. “At that point, Lizbeth hadn’t left the house in over six months.”

Zach stared at Anna, his gaze probing. I inhaled deeply, understanding the frustration. The dust in the room settled into my nostrils. I rubbed at the tickling in my nose, and considered what she had told us.

It seemed to me Lizbeth had clearly been suicidal. I’d watched television shows were people cut themselves. Maybe this was all that was going on here. Case closed.

Zach scribbled a few more lines of notes then scrutinized Anna. “How did Lizbeth act in the days before she died?”

“Strange.” Anna wiped the tears from her face. “She always had this dark cloud over her, but in the week before her death it became much worse. She’d stopped eating and we had to force liquids down her throat.” Her chin quivered, more tears spilling. “But it was in her eyes where I saw her demise.”

“What did you see?” I whispered, not totally sure I wanted to hear her answer.

“She was already dead.”

Zach coughed. “Pardon?”

“Lizbeth was no longer in her body.” Anna shook her head, sending more tears rushing down her cheeks. “I know that sounds crazy, but that’s the only way I can describe it. She had already left.”

“Where did she go?” I urged.

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