Curse of Shadows and Light (Demonblood Book 3)

By: Penelope King

I get off the massive bed, wander to the sliding glass door, and ease it open. The salty-sweet air of the Pacific Ocean greets me, as its waves gently welcome the new day. I take a few steps out onto the patio and see the enormous mansion off to one side.

What? We’re still at Anastasia’s house?

I hurry back inside and close the door. What’s going on here? And where are Corrine and Kieron?

Suddenly I remember my last conscious thoughts from yesterday, and my stomach seizes up in a painful knot. I stagger back over to the bed and collapse on it as tears fill my eyes. Through my growing sobs, I almost don’t hear the light tapping on the bedroom door.

“Liora? Liora, you up?” Corrine asks as she pokes her head in. She sees me, and her face crumples as she rushes to my side. “Oh no! No, it’s okay! Don’t be sad. Everything is okay! Lucky told me to tell you that Tatiana is fine… it was all just a trick or a test or something. Tatiana is fine.”

I stare at her, my jaw hanging open. “Wh-what?” I hiccup.

She pushes up her glasses. “Yup. I don’t know the whole story, though. I assume that’s what you’re upset about, right?”

I nod, still unable to really process what she’s saying. Tatiana is alive and is okay? I almost can’t hope to believe her.

“A trick? But why?”

Corrine shakes her head. “I don’t know the details, sorry. Lucky just came and woke me a few minutes ago and told me to tell you. She was really insistent I tell you the second you woke up. Only I wasn’t really sure when that was. Sorry if I was late.” She bites her lip and looks at me apologetically.

“I’ve only been awake a few minutes. I mean, you’re absolutely sure? She’s positive that Tat is alive?”

“Yes.” Corrine nods, and relief floods through me. “And I’m also supposed to tell you that you’re not to trust Anastasia,” she adds in a conspiratorial whisper.

I narrow my eyes. “What do you mean? Why not?”

She shrugs and crosses her arms. “Dunno exactly. Lucky didn’t really elaborate. She’s not one for the details, I guess. She just said to keep your guard up and don’t trust her. She might not be ‘on our side’, whatever that means.” She uses her fingers to make air quotes. I can tell she’s getting a kick out of playing the role of messenger between Lucky and me.

“Lucky doesn’t trust anyone, especially humans. She’s just being paranoid.” But the woman had apparently lied to me about Tatiana being dead… a callous and twisted way to greet someone, I must admit. Perhaps she does have something up her sleeve.

I get back off the bed and start to look around. I check out the empty walk-in closet, and the massive bathroom. Nice. “So why are we still here?” I murmur, almost to myself. “And where’s Kieron?”

“From what I could gather, which wasn’t much, apparently we’re safe here. Might need to talk to Anastasia and Kieron for more details. Lucky was in a bad mood last night so I didn’t really get much, other than the fact that we’re staying here for a while.”

Hmph. When is Lucky not in a bad mood? “And Kieron?”

Corrine shifts her gaze away. “He’s in another room on the other side of the house.” Suddenly she gives a big grin. “You should go see the rest of the place; it’s really something else. Even if that lady isn’t very friendly, at least we can’t say her accommodations are poor.”

“I wouldn’t say anything about this whole place is poor,” I mutter, as I open up my bag to put on some fresh clothes. I’m a bit surprised to have woken up in the same thing I was wearing yesterday. Lucky hadn’t bothered to change or unpack or anything, and I wonder why not. She cares more about her wardrobe than I do and is usually out of mine and into hers within moments of taking over the body.

“I know we just got here and you just woke up and all, but… ummm… I was wondering … I mean I hate to ask and all…” Corrine pauses and shifts her feet uncomfortably.

I give her a questioning glance as I start hanging some things in the empty closet. I swear it’s almost as big as my old bedroom was.

“What is it?” I ask, as I smooth out one of Lucky’s vintage gowns.

“Well, I hate to ask… And I do have a few dollars. But even though this place is nice and all, there’s stuff I need… like soap and shampoo, and a razor… toothpaste… deodorant… some socks and pajamas… stuff like that. I only threw in a few changes of clothes when we left—”

I hold up my hand. “Say no more. We’ll go shopping right after I get cleaned up and get organized. I need a ton of stuff too,” I note, rechecking the bathroom. Other than a few fluffy towels hanging on the racks, there’s nothing in it. Even cheap motels leave you with a travel-size bar of soap. Just another sign that our hostess is less than enthusiastic about our presence here.

“Sounds like Kieron is up,” Corrine says, as we hear noises coming from the kitchen. “Are you two… are you and him okay?” she asks sheepishly.

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