Curse of Shadows and Light (Demonblood Book 3)

By: Penelope King

“No… don’t say that,” I choke out. “I love her! I love her more than anyone. I would have died to protect her and keep her safe… that’s why we left! She said it was for the best…” I can’t process Anastasia’s devastating words. They can’t be true.

Tortured… Snapped her neck… Burned her body.

Something inside me explodes. “I will kill them! I will kill every last one of them!” I scream. Then I collapse to the ground and weep, exhausted. “No, Tattie, I’m so sorry… It should’ve been me… it should’ve been me… I should’ve been there to protect you… Oh, Tattie, I’m so sorry!”

I wrap my hands over my head and sob harder. Everything is over. How can I live with myself knowing that I caused Tatiana harm? Suffering? Why did I listen to her and leave? Why didn’t I stay? I could’ve protected her. It should’ve been me who died…

“Tattie,” I moan. “I’m so, so sorry… I will kill them all, I swear! I’ll hunt them all down and destroy—”

I feel a gentle kicking on my back. “Okay, stop it. She’s fine. You can stop your crying. I just needed to feel your real feelings… see how you really felt.”

I catch my breath and freeze. What did she just say?

Not daring to hope, I lift my head from my arms and turn to stare at the woman, my mouth open. Her face is softer now, but still wary.

“I needed to feel your emotions,” she continues quietly. “I’m an Empath witch, and I needed to see what kind of person… and demon you are before letting you in. I needed to know that your love for my sister was genuine. And that you do have some light left in your soul.”

“You mean… you mean…T at’s okay? She’s alive?” I stammer.

The woman nods.

“You… you lied to me... to us… as a test?”

She nods again. “I needed to know—”

“You crazy bitch!” I scream and lunge at her with all my might. Which isn’t much. I fall almost as quickly as I rose. “How could you… how could you?! And you think I’m evil?!”

“I’m sorry, but it had to be done. There was no other way.”

Relief overtakes me, and I roll over on my back on the soft grass and look up at the sky. I’m so grateful that Tatiana is still alive and hasn’t died a torturous death at the hands of Light-angels, I can’t even feel rage anymore. But I won’t forget what this woman put us through, test or no test. This is not something I will soon forgive—I don’t care whose sister she is.

“I know you are angry, but it needed to be done. I needed to know what I was dealing with here.” Anastasia sits down on the bench and sighs as she casts another wary gaze my way. “We’ve been tricked and hurt by demons before. I know Tatiana thinks you are different, but I had to see for myself.”

“I can’t believe we came all this way for nothing,” I mutter. “We should’ve just stayed in Dove Creek.”

Anastasia studies me carefully. “I can offer you sanctuary,” she says finally. “You and your friends will be safe on my lands as long as you follow my rules and obey my wishes. But if you give me any trouble, you’re gone.”

“Why would you let us stay?”

She’s quiet for a long time, and I’m starting to think she doesn’t really have an answer.

“Because I love my sister,” she finally replies, subdued. “And she loves you, for whatever twisted reason. She and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye about a lot of things, especially when it comes to our magics. But I do respect her and will honor her request to provide you with my help. But I had to prove it to myself that you were worthy first.”

A sarcastic chuckle escapes my throat. “And scaring me to death was the only way to do that?”

“I am sorry I hurt you. But yes, it was the only way. Had you felt no pain or suffering or guilt, I would have known that your love was simply pretense, and that you were a soulless monster with no conscience. Because believe me when I say I’ve encountered plenty of those, and they’re usually hidden behind the biggest, brightest smiles. But what I felt from you, as well as Liora, was genuine… deep. I felt how much the thought of losing Tatiana devastated you both. That sort of love cannot be faked.”

I sit up and rest my chin on my knees as I look around again. The sun has long since set, but the brilliantly lit mansion and the hundreds of tiny white lanterns placed around the gardens give a warm, almost ethereal glow. I have to admit, as far as hideouts go this one isn’t half-bad. Even if it does come with a crazy witch bitch.

“How do you know we’ll be safe?” I ask.

She raises a haughty eyebrow. “How strong are you right now?”

“Like my muscles have been replaced with spaghetti and I’m too exhausted to even sleep.”

She smiles. “My lands are heavily enchanted to ward against supernatural beings of all kinds. I’m well aware of your issues with both the Light and Dark angels. Neither have any powers here, as you yourself can see.”

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