Peachville High Demons 01: Beautiful Demons

BOOK: Peachville High Demons 01: Beautiful Demons
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Beautiful Demons

By Sarra Cannon

Published by Dead River Books

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2010 by Sarra Cannon Bittmann

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

Find Sarra Cannon on the web!
www.sarracannon.com
www.twitter.com/sarramaria
http://www.goodreads.com/sarra_cannon

Cover Design by Robin Ludwig Design, Inc.
http://www.rldprint.com/

Acknowledgements

My heartfelt thanks goes out to my critique partners and best friends, J.D. Robinson and Erica Reeder. This book would not have been possible without your constant support and willingness to read everything I write. Thanks also to Alok Baikadi for your insightful comments on my manuscript. My writing is better because of all of you.

To my parents, Dave and Carol Cannon, for always teaching me that I can do anything I set my mind to. Thank you for always being there for me and believing in me no matter how impossible my dreams might seem.

A debt of gratitude is owed to Karen Anders and Jennifer Harrington for all that you have taught me about writing. Thank you for your years of encouragement and guidance.

And finally, my deepest and happiest thanks to my amazing husband, George. You are everything I always wanted but never believed I deserved. Thank you for being my love, my raised bar, and my muse. I love you.

Peachville High Demons Series:

Beautiful Demons

Table of Contents

This Is Your Last Chance

Do Not Touch My Things

Trouble Always Finds Me

Guys Like Drake Only Date Cheerleaders

Voices At My Window

The Big Stone Demon Statue

I Must Be Electro-Charged

Someone Might Get Hurt

What Is It With This Town And Cheerleaders?

My Best Attempt

Maybe He Wasn't A Demons Fan

That Necklace Was Everything To Me

Tori Has A Secret

For A Girl Like You

What With Tori's Disappearance

You'll Need To Come With Us

No One Ever Believed

Is That You?

This Town Isn't Like Other Places

Sit Down Girl

I Must Be Dreaming

I Wasn't Supposed To Forget

Claire

Not Anymore

A Better Life

I Must Have Seen It Wrong

It's Not That Simple

Promise Me

This Week Is Going To Be Tough

Is This Supposed To Be A Good Luck Charm?

A Demon On His Back

I Have Carried My Fear

We Were Connected Somehow

It Totally Worked

The New Demons Cheerleader Is...

A Night To Remember

They Choose You

A Part Of Me

A Beautiful Demon

This is Your Last Chance

Six foster homes in one year had to be some kind of record. I ran my sapphire pendant along the silver chain around my neck and looked out at the pine trees zooming past. Where would they send me next?

“I don't know what got into you, Harper,” Mrs. Meeks said. Her hair shot out every which way and she wasn't wearing any makeup. The call to come pick me up probably came in after she'd gone to bed for the night. “I can't keep doing this.”

I eyed her. Was she passing me off to another case worker? Mrs. Meeks had been there with me from the beginning. Since the fire. I didn't want her to abandon me now.

“It was an accident,” I said. I sat up straight in my seat and studied her tired face. I needed her to believe me.

“An accident?” she said. Her voice took on the shrill tone I had come to expect from her. “Mrs. Sanders said you threw a lamp at her. How could that have been an accident, Harper?”

“I didn't exactly throw it,” I said. I bit my lip. How could I possibly explain it to Mrs. Meeks? Or anyone for that matter? One second I was arguing with Mrs. Sanders about a party she wouldn't let me go to and the next, well, everything in the room that wasn't nailed down was floating three inches in the air. “It just sort of-”

“Sort of what? Threw itself.” Her face contorted into an angry grimace. She didn't believe me.

I sank into the leather seat and sighed. No one ever believed me. Instead, they called me names like '
witch
' and '
freak
'.

“Harper,” she said, her voice softening. “I've always tried to place you in the very best foster homes in the city. Places where I thought they would try to understand your...” She searched for the word. “Your unique issues. But this is the sixth foster home you've been kicked out of this year. And with your history.” She glanced over at me and sighed heavily. “It's getting harder and harder to place you.”

My history.

I leaned my forehead against the window and felt the cool glass against my skin. After everything I'd done, it made sense that no one wanted me. I closed my eyes and remembered the beautiful porcelain skin of my adopted mother, Jill. I never meant to hurt anyone, especially not her.

“At this point, there's no other choice,” Mrs. Meeks said.

I opened my eyes and looked over at her. In the light from the dashboard, she looked old. Worried. Angry. A wave of nausea rolled over me.

“No other choice than what?”

She looked over and patted my leg with her hand. Not a good sign.

“I'm taking you to a place called Shadowford Home,” she said. “It's in a town south of here. Peachville. And the woman who runs it is well known for taking in girls who are struggling in the regular system. Girls like you.”

There are no girls like me
, I thought. “I've never heard of it.”

“Peachville is a small community. Very different from Atlanta. I think it'll be a good place for you. Atlanta is just too big. Too full of opportunities to get in trouble or get mixed up with the wrong crowd.” She pulled the car off the interstate. From the looks of it, we were in the middle of nowhere. “But I have to be completely honest with you, Harper. If you can't make it work at Shadowford, I'll have no choice but to take you to juvenile detention until you turn eighteen.”

I sat up. “What? You can't be serious.”

A home for troubled girls was bad enough. I certainly didn't belong in juvie. I'd known people who had gone to the one in Atlanta. It was practically like prison for teens. Constant supervision. No freedom. Strict rules. My entire body tensed just thinking about it.

“What did you expect?” she said. “Since you were eight years old, I've placed you in foster home after foster home, and you've been nothing but trouble for these families. Throwing lamps. Breaking windows. Fires.”

“None of those things were my fault,” I said. I could feel the stirring of anger and frustration deep in my stomach. How dare she bring up the fire. I had only been eight when that happened, and it wasn't my fault. It wasn't!

Change rattled in the cup holder that sat between us in the car. Quickly, I slammed my hand down over the top of it. Not now, I begged.

Mrs. Meeks continued on, thankfully not noticing the rattling noise. “It's time you learned to take responsibility for your actions,” she said. “Make things work at Shadowford or you'll go to juvenile detention for the next two years. I'm sorry, but this is your last chance, Harper.”

Do Not Touch My Things

We spent the night in a hotel just off the interstate. First thing in the morning, we were back out on the road, heading to Peachville, Georgia. I had never lived in a small town before. Or a group home for that matter.

The light was shining through the thick pine trees as we turned down an unmarked gravel road an hour later. “We should be close,” Mrs. Meeks said.

A large, weather-worn sign that read “Shadowford Plantation” came into view. I sat up straight and peered through the dense trees. A winding red dirt road led back to a clearing. Mrs. Meeks stopped the car at the top of the hill and we both stared open-mouthed at the huge white plantation house below.

Shadowford stood three stories tall with long white columns running from the roof to the wraparound porch. Paint flaked off the white walls and green ivy blanketed the sides of the porch, as if nature was slowly reclaiming the house for itself. Centered on the second floor level was a large balcony with a wrought-iron railing. A girl with bright red hair stood on the balcony. She waved toward us, then disappeared into the house.

As we drove the rest of the road up to the house, a chill ran down my spine. There was something different about this place I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The house itself, though old, was breathtaking. But there was also something dark about it. Unsettling. The house grew slowly larger, and my stomach lurched. I wanted to tell Mrs. Meeks to turn around and take me back to Atlanta. To juvenile detention if that was the only option. This house was... what?

Evil
.

The word popped into my head and I shivered. That was ridiculous. A house couldn't be evil. It was just my nerves getting to me.

A pretty middle-aged woman had stepped out onto the porch. She wore a faded blue dress and her brown hair was piled high in a messy bun at the top of her head. When I looked up at her, she smiled. Her dark eyes were warm and kind, immediately putting me at ease. I realized I'd been holding my breath, and I exhaled. Maybe I had only imagined the creepy aura around this place. Maybe everything was going to be alright.

I stepped out of the car and grabbed my bag from the backseat.

“You must be Harper,” the woman said. She walked over and gave me a gentle hug. “We’re so happy to have you here at Shadowford.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m Ella Mae Hunt. I help Mrs. Shadowford out quite a bit, so we'll be gettin' to know each other pretty well.” She had a lilting southern accent that was sweet and gentle.

Ella Mae took my bag and set it just outside the front door. “I’ll give you a few minutes to say goodbye, and then I’ll take you inside and introduce you to our other girls.”

I walked over to Mrs. Meeks and she gave me a big hug. “I’m sorry,” I said.

“Everything could be different for you here,” she said. “Treat this like a fresh start. A clean slate.”

I squeezed her back briefly, then let go. Maybe she was right and things really could be different here. A new school in a new town. No one here knew my history.

“I’ll do my best,” I told her.

“I know you will.”

With a sad smile, she got in her car and drove away. I watched until she disappeared from sight, then turned to my new home. Ella Mae was waiting for me by the front door.

“I think you’ll really like it here,” she said, opening the door to the big house. “Girls, come on down here and meet Harper.”

Ella Mae’s voice echoed through the high ceilings of the front hallway. Honey-colored wood floors shone beneath her feet and a large staircase rose up to the second floor landing. Three girls made their way down to us.

“This is Courtney James,” Ella Mae said. A tall girl who looked to be slightly younger than me stepped forward and held her hand out to me. Her long, straight blond hair lay over her face, covering nearly the entire left side. She kept her head down, her eyes on the floor. When I touched her hand, it was ice cold and limp.

“I’m Agnes.” The redheaded girl I'd seen on the balcony stepped out from behind Courtney and gave me a big welcoming hug. Her eyes were light green and she seemed to smile from within. I liked her immediately. “You’ll be in the room next to mine,” she said. “I’m so excited to have another house-mate here, you have no idea. Where are you coming from?”

BOOK: Peachville High Demons 01: Beautiful Demons
6.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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