Curse of Shadows and Light (Demonblood Book 3)

By: Penelope King

I take a deep breath and close my eyes. “Please… we come in peace and we mean you no harm. We are your friends… your family. We’ve come a long way and you are the only one who can help us. We need your protection. Please, please let us in,” I silently beg. “You know we’re not evil. I know you can feel our intentions… our humanity…”

“Look!” Corrine gasps. “The gates are opening!”

I open my eyes and see that indeed the mammoth iron bars have slowly begun to part. When there is enough space, Kieron eases the car through. At first it seems almost like driving through a golf course, with gentle hills of perfectly manicured grass as far as the eye can see. The winding driveway is lined with more palm trees and cherry bushes, and after another few moments a majestic, brightly-lit mansion rises into view, set against the cerulean backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

This time I’m the one gasping. It’s a breathtaking sight, and I’m having a hard time imagining someone related to Tatiana living in such unbridled luxury. I guess deep down I’d been hoping her sister would be exactly like her. But so far she couldn’t be more different.

“Wow,” Kieron mutters. “What are we in for?”

As we continue our slow descent down the long driveway, a voice in my head whispers, “Tread lightly. Or I will end you.”

I suck in my breath. I don’t hear the words so much as I feel them, and the power behind them. I know that whatever we’re about to face is very formidable… maybe more so even than my dear guardian.

“Holy cannoli, are you kidding me?” Corrine squeaks. “Who lives like this? I mean, this isn’t even a mansion. This is like a castle!”

I don’t answer her. Truth is, I have no idea who this woman is.

And I’m suddenly terrified.

Chapter 2. Liora

We pull around the circular driveway and stop in front of the house. Standing on the front porch is a woman I immediately recognize as Tatiana’s twin sister, only because they have the exact same diminutive build, as if a strong breeze could pick them up and carry them away. But I know all too well how deceptive that frail appearance is, and the warning to ‘tread lightly’ still rings in my head.

“Is that her?” Corrine whispers, leaning forward again.

I nod with a gulp and turn to her and Kieron. “You two stay here. Let me go first.”

Kieron peeks around me to look at her again. “Are you sure? Maybe I should go with you just in case—”

“No, you stay here. I’ll be fine.” I give his hand a squeeze and force a small smile. “If she didn’t want us here she wouldn’t have opened the gates.”

He lets out a deep breath and shakes his head slightly, then casts another wary gaze across the grounds. “I dunno. Something feels really off about this place.” I can’t blame him for his concern. This whole area is beyond surreal. Even I can feel its intense mystical energy, and I can only imagine what he’s picking up.

“It’s Tatiana’s sister. I’ll be fine.” I take a deep breath and try to steady my shaky hand as I open the car door. So much is riding on this woman. If she refuses to help, I truly have no idea what will become of us.

She’s wearing a long white dress, and standing next to an enormous marble statue of a lion that looks like it could turn its head and swallow her whole in one gulp. Her long, silvery-white hair is pulled off to the side and fastened with a lilac flower. She makes no move to greet me as I approach, and remains as still as the statue beside her.

I feel myself staring… she looks so much like Tatiana it’s shocking. But at the same time, she looks like her complete opposite. Totally blind, Tatiana’s eyes were a solid milky white, and while it was impossible to judge her age, she always had a haunted, wizened countenance.

But the woman standing here has brilliant, unnaturally sparkling turquoise eyes that are almost hypnotizing, and she radiates a youthful energy and vibrancy that is making me seriously question how old Tatiana really is.

I clear my throat and step closer, but not too close. “Hello, Mrs. Havish. I’m Liora…Liora Greyson.” I hold out my hand, but she still doesn’t move, and just looks at me. I gulp, and my stomach clenches even tighter.

“Tatiana sent me… us.” I turn and motion to the car where Kieron and Corrine are staring at us through the window. “I’m her… um, daughter—”

“You are not her daughter, you are a demon bastard she found in the forest one day,” she snaps, her face still passive.

I’m taken aback. “Oh. Um. I—well, yes, sort of technically, I suppose. But I’m not really a demon… not now anyways. It’s this whole long story—”

She holds up her hand. “Save it. I’m not interested. Tatiana took you in because of some misguided loyalty and obligation, and she was an utter fool to do so. Demons are dangerous and unpredictable and cannot be trusted. I’m not making the same mistake she did.”

Her eyes flash brightly, and suddenly a violent wave of nausea washes over me. I take several deep breaths and put my hands on the lion statue to steady myself.

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