Read Masquerade Online

Authors: Cambria Hebert

Tags: #Fantasy, #Romance, #Young Adult, #Suspense, #Thriller, #Supernatural, #paranormal, #coming of age, #Romance Speculative Fiction Suspense

Masquerade

BOOK: Masquerade
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Masquerade

(Heven and Hell
#1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MASQUERADE Copyright © 2011
CAMBRIA HEBERT

 

Smashwords
Edition

 

All rights reserved,
including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in
any form without written permission except for the use of brief
quotations embodied in critical articles and
reviews
.

 

 

 

Otherworld Publications,
LLC

125 ½ Main
Street

La Grange, KY
40031

www.otherworldpublications.com

 

Interior design and
typesetting by Lynn Calvert

Cover design by MAE I
DESIGN

Edited by Amy Eye, The Eyes
for Editing

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of
the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales, is entirely
coincidental.

 

 

Paperback ISBN:
978-1-936593-25-5

Hard Cover ISBN:
978-1-936593-28-6

 

 

 

 

 

Masquerade

 

Dedication

 

I dedicate this book (at the risk of
sounding corny) to anyone who has ever had a dream. To anyone who
has had a fire in their belly and a determination in their bones.
Don’t ever give up, even when it seems like the world works against
you. If my dream can come true then so can yours.

And also,

I dedicate this book to myself. What?
I worked really hard.

And always,

For Shawn.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Being a writer is a solitary journey
but becoming an author takes a team of people. My journey from
writer to author could not have been possible without the help and
support of a lot of people.

First, I want to thank my husband,
Shawn, who patiently endured my far away moods when I was lost in
my own head. For not saying a word when the house fell into
disarray because I was pounding at the computer, chasing a dream
that might not ever be realized and for always believing that it
would. Without you I might never have put my butt in that chair
(and stayed there) long enough to see this through. I want to
acknowledge my children who patiently waited while I wrote “just
one more line” before getting up to play.

I am lucky enough to have a great
group of friends who never told me I was crazy (even if they
thought it) when I announced I was writing a book. To Andrea, who
always read everything first and would call me at all hours of the
night so we could dish about it all. Our talks kept me motivated
when my motivation dipped. To Jenn Pringle, who has been there to
support and champion me. Your support got me through some stressful
times. To Christy, who listened to me go on and on (and on) about
cover design, characters and networking. Thanks for never acting
bored. And for reading everything and always giving me the truth
when I asked your opinion. Oh yeah, and for naming your daughter
Heven, so that I might come along and borrow it. For Melanie, one
of my oldest childhood friends, the sister of my heart, your
unflappable personality and phone calls sometimes got me through
the day. And to my Mom and Mommom, who never asked me why I didn’t
get a ‘real’ job because you understood that this was the only job
that would ever matter.

To my editor and good friend, Amy
(theeyesforediting.com), your eyes saw things that mine never did
and you made me think about my characters in ways I never had.
Without your insight this book would not be as good as it is today.
I never dreaded the red on the pages because I knew that with the
red would come laughter. You are my accomplice in all things
literary and my partner in crime. Thank you for all your support
and willingness to do whatever you could to see this book in print.
To Regina Wamba (Mae I Design), your cover designs blow me away
every single time and so does your willingness to work until it’s
just perfect.

To Lynn and the entire staff at
Otherworld Publications for taking a chance on me and this book.
You saw potential where others did not and you gave me the path to
my dream.

Finally, to all the others in my life
who have supported me and cheered at the top of their lungs when I
told you the news. I am beyond blessed because your names alone
could fill pages of this book. Never doubt how much every single
bit of support or praise I received meant to me. You all honor me
by being my life and nothing could ever replace you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Heven

 

The street was dark and deserted. I
wished, not for the first time, that I had a car. But I didn’t, and
I’d spent too long in the library, so now I had to walk home in the
dark. It was a clear night, and there were a million stars nestled
in the sky, twinkling brightly alongside the moon. I was nearly
home, my street just yards away. The night was quiet, exaggerating
the sound my heels were making on the pavement. Usually, I liked
the clicking sound; it made me feel womanly, and it announced my
arrival. However, at this moment, it seemed I shouldn’t announce my
presence. I slowed slightly, gentling my steps and glanced to my
right at a wooded, overgrown lot. I imagined something hiding in
the brush, watching. I laughed a little at my silliness, but
quickened my pace. This time, allowing my heels to slap loudly on
the pavement, hoping the sound would ward off any animals that
might be around. Behind me I sensed movement and whirled around to
confront it.

There was nothing there.

I began walking again. I’d walked this
street many times, I knew it was safe.

Wasn’t it?

Just as I passed an empty lot, I heard
some rustling and turned back. Something was definitely there, a
dark shape unfurling from the weeds.

My heart beat fast, and my stomach
cramped with nerves as I began to run. I wasn’t fast enough, and
whatever was stalking me caught up. I fell forward, something heavy
and warm pressing me down onto the cold pavement. I tried to
scream, but the sound lodged in my throat. A hideous sound built
low and filled my ears…

I bolted upright, heart
pounding. It was just a dream. A stupid nightmare. Except it wasn’t
stupid, and it wasn’t just a dream. I tossed the covers off and
headed to the bathroom, feeling sticky and clammy with sweat. The
water was cool and felt like silk running through my fingers. I
scooped the water in my
hands
and splashed it on my cheeks. I froze, fingering
the raised, puckered scars that distorted the left side of my face.
No, it hadn’t been a stupid dream. It was an unnecessary reminder
of reality.

 

The dreams had been
haunting me so long I knew that it would be impossible to find
sleep again tonight, so I didn’t bother to go back to bed. The soft
sheets and fluffy pillows didn’t offer the same comfort they
had
Before
. Bed
was now the place I was haunted by unanswered questions. I shut off
my alarm and turned, glancing at the window. A strange feeling of
being watched crept over me, and I padded over to peek out from
behind the curtain. I don’t know what I was looking for, only that
I had a feeling that something was there. Chills raced along my
skin and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I looked
out into the dark. I resisted the urge to turn and look over my
shoulder, but then something caught my eye

a movement within the shadows. I
squinted and pressed closer to the cold glass of the window hoping
for a glimpse of whatever was there. After long, tense minutes, I
gave up. Of course, there wasn’t anything there. I was beyond
exhausted from lying in bed at night worrying, paranoid about being
watched, knowing that I wasn’t. Why couldn’t I shake this feeling
that I wasn’t safe?

With one last look at the
empty yard and a deep sigh, I went back into the bathroom, careful
to avoid the mirror. I went through my usual routine of brushing my
teeth and washing my face. I grasped my brush and looked up into
the mirror above the sink. I began brushing the very long, very
blond thickness of my hair, taking care to part it low on the right
and smooth it over to conceal as much of my face as possible. I
tried distracting myself with the features that weren’t so bad like
my sky blue eyes and pimple free skin. There was a light smattering
of freckles over my nose and cheeks and my lips were full and a
natural peach color
. How close I came to
having the left side of my lips ruined.
I
shivered, and the action sent my hair momentarily away from my
face, revealing what I hadn’t wanted to see.

A large, raised scar began
at the corner of my eyebrow and ran jaggedly down, dangerously
close to the corner of my eye and didn’t stop until well past my
cheekbone. It was puckered and dark pink. If that wasn’t hideous
enough, it wasn’t alone. A pair of wide scars, one on each side of
the larger scar ravaged my skin, making me look like a freak.
Adding to my freakish appearance, I had nerve damage, and the left
side of my face was slack…the skin not as taut as it once was. When
my hair concealed as much as it could, I left the bathroom to get
dressed. It didn’t take me as long to get dressed as
Before
. I didn’t see the
point of dressing nice when my face was ruined; whatever effort I
made with my clothes wouldn’t matter.
I
selected a pair of jeans and slid them on, adding an oversized
hooded sweatshirt. Getting ready so early, I had to wait for what
seemed like forever before I went downstairs to make
a show of grabbing a granola bar and carton of
orange juice from the fridge.


You look nice this
morning.”


Thanks, Mom,” I said,
mustering a smile even though I didn’t feel like smiling. I know
she was trying to be supportive, trying to make me feel good. I
appreciated her efforts even if they never worked.


Gotta go, I’m
late.”


Have a good day,” she
called behind me.

I paused just before
walking out the front door.
Get it over
with.
Taking a deep breath I stepped back
and prepared myself to look up. You’d think after months of this
routine it would get a little easier. It didn’t.

I gazed into the mirror at
my reflection, making certain my hair covered as much of my face as
possible, knowing it was what everyone would be whispering about
when I walked through the halls at school. They still whispered,
even after all this time. You would think they would forget, I
wanted to – like I ever really could. It was
my
face after all, and it was
disfigured.

Kimber pulled into the
driveway just as I shut the front door behind me. The bright red VW
Bug was a happy announcement that she was here, an exclamation
point that was her life. I used to love that car and all the
attention that it drew. I’d hoped for something like it. But that
car didn’t fit into my world anymore; I’m no longer the girl who
would drive something so flashy
.
But I rode in it anyway, grateful not to ride the
bus.

BOOK: Masquerade
5.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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