Sunday, June 2, 2019

Chapter One - I SPY A DEMON - from A Darker Shade of Evil Anthology #PNR #ebooks

Hello my lovelies, and thanks so much for stopping by to read *Chapter One* from my story I SPY A DEMON in A Darker Shade of Evil  A Demon and Devil Anthology.

About I Spy A Demon:

When twins Cecily and Calder Sizemore’s parents are killed in a car accident they are taken in by Gus and Mae Frost. Raised like family by the Frosts, Cecily’s feelings for their son, Marcel, evolve into anything but sisterly as the years pass.  

Cecily always knew something was amiss in the Frost household. Little things belied the calm, peaceful ambiance Mae did her best to portray. Calder tried to warn her things were not as they appeared, but she didn’t want to believe him. But when Calder begs her to leave Des Moines, start a new life away from the secrets, away from the Frosts and away from Marcel, she follows his advice and shatters her heart in the process.

Now she’s been called home for her beloved brother's funeral. There's more to the story than meets the eye. Discrepancies in how Calder died lead her to believe it wasn’t a car accident. And she's not returning to Minnesota until she uncovers the truth. 

She’ll have to face Marcel again—the boy who stole her heart when she was eight, the man whose very presence turns her blood to liquid fire, and the man who walks the earth as if he owns every piece of it. He’s always played his cards close to his chest, but this time, he’s underestimated her dogged tenacity. She’ll find out what really happened to Calder, even if it’s her last act in life. 

Chapter One

 "We therefore commit Calder Sizemore's body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust...."
The cloying scents of damp earth and white lilies spiraled up Cecily's nose.  Overhead, a pitiless sun bore down on the mourners gathered around her brother's casket—familiar faces she’d known forever, lived with and loved. She fought back the bile rising in her throat and prayed the minister would come to the end of the service before her knees buckled.
To her left, stood Mae Frost, her mother's best friend and the woman who had raised her and Calder after their parents died. As if Mae could read her thoughts, the woman squeezed her hand, an unspoken sign of moral support and unconditional love.  She would expect nothing less from Mae, and had received nothing less for the past twenty years. If Mae's husband, Gus, were here, she would receive the same outpouring of love from him. In essence, Gus was in attendance, not above the ground but below. And now Calder would rest beside the man through all eternity.
 "And so, shall we ever be with the Lord."
Dear God, when will he say 'Amen?
She stared at the burgundy coffin with its hideous spray of red roses, yellow lilies and white orchids while a thousand questions tore through her brain. How could she go on without Calder, the other half of her soul, her womb mate, the one person who had always been there through the highs and lows of her life? What was he doing in St. Louis when he died and who was with him at the end? She had to know what kind of an accident had taken his life.
That's the word Mae used—accident—when she called her in Minnesota to deliver the dreadful news. 'We've booked a morning flight to Des Moines,' she'd said. 'The ticket is in your name and waiting for you at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Delta Airlines ticket counter.' Numb with shock and grief, Cecily had pressed Mae for details but the woman circumvented her question. Why should she be surprised? The entire Frost family held Masters’ Degrees when it came to dodging and ducking topics they didn’t wish to discuss. ‘We’ll be waiting for you at the airport when you arrive,” she’d said and then ended their conversation.
Zombie-like, Cecily had packed her luggage and drove through the night from Gull’s Landing— the picturesque resort town where she lived—to the Minneapolis airport. During the three-hour drive, she'd saturated an entire box of Kleenex with a gazillion tears and relived every precious moment of her and Calder’s childhoods—the death of their parents, the extravagant Christmases after the Frosts took them in, the luxurious summer vacations, but most of all, the cross-your-heart-hope-to-die secrets no one but twins would share.
Her gaze wandered from the casket to the pallbearers standing opposite her— Chad and Will, friends from high school, Travis and Chris, college buddies, and, of course, Elliott and Marcel Frost, Mae and Gus' sons. And the boys she and Calder had shared a home with most of their lives. The brothers stood over six-feet tall now with broad shoulders and rock-hard bodies. Gym-rats Mae called them. Anyone with sight could see they were no longer boys, but hot-blooded, virile males most men envied and every woman on God’s peachy earth drooled over.
Her pseudo-brothers shared the same grey eyes and midnight hair, but there the similarities ended. Elliott, two years younger than Marcel, was leaner than his brother and kept his dark hair short and neatly trimmed. He looked more like Mae with his oval face, round, inquisitive eyes and soft, full lips.
Marcel was the mirror image of his father, Gus, in the man's younger days.  Marcel's hair, gleaming now beneath the hot rays of sun, fell in a wild tumble of ebony waves to his white shirt collar. His features were sharp, all angles and planes, from the high cheekbones to the straight nose, to the strong jaw with a cleft smack dab in the middle. Cecily's gaze lingered on his mouth…that wicked, wicked mouth she'd kissed so many times and had tried so hard to forget.   
Their eyes met and held. His reminded her of a storm-tossed sea, dark and turbulent. He couldn't look into hers right now, thank God. The sunglasses she'd donned this morning—after crying all night— hid the red rims and the swollen lids that made her cousin to a puffer fish.   
She looked away from Marcel when a veil of pain descended on his beautiful face. She couldn't deal with his anguish and hers right now. Nor could she trust him, had never wholly trusted him. The man harbored secrets, deep, dark secrets only a select few were privy to, and she and Calder were not among the privileged.
Marcel must have thought her dimwitted not to notice the late-night trips, some that lasted for days. Did he think she hadn't noticed the cuts, scrapes and bruises on his sculpted body when he joined her in bed? For a long time, she thought he belonged to an underground fight club, but why would he hide that from her? No, she'd concluded long ago; he didn't spend his days and nights in a boxing ring. Locked rooms in the house, covert phone calls and whispered conversations had nothing to with boxing.
Elliott was involved, of that she was certain, but what about Calder? Surely, he would have told her, boasted about solving the mystery of the locked doors, the secretive getaways and low-voiced discussions.  She had remained close with her brother, albeit by phone, after she moved to Minnesota two years ago, and yet…a niggling sense of unease washed over her thinking back on their conversations now.
When she asked about his life, why did he gloss over details, filling their conversations with meaningless tidbits of banal activity? 'I picked up my dry cleaning today', he would say. Or, 'I washed the car and hit the gym tonight.' When she pressed him about work or his recent love life, he slithered around her questions with vague responses. He’d become just like the Frosts in this regard. “There's nothing too exciting about driving limos, and as for my love life, I'm not ready for a white picket fence in the burbs.'
Her heart cried out for answers. She had the distinct feeling Calder's death and the Frost brothers' secrets were connected. Her hope fell like sails caught up in a squall if she thought to get those answers from Marcel. She had a better chance of winning the lottery. He'd always held his cards close to his chest, walled his emotions from the outside world. It would take a great deal of cunning and perseverance on her part to get to the truth. If he thought to put her off again, shoo her back to Minnesota without as much as plausible explanation, he was wrong…dead wrong. She wouldn't run this time, not until she found out the truth about how and why Calder had died.
The minister's voice broke into her dismal thoughts. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. Amen."
With heads bowed, their hands still clasped together, the mourners dispersed. Elliott still stood beside Marcel and visibly winced when his brother reached out and touched the coffin for the last time. Cecily’s heart fractured for the thousandth time that day.  
"Come along, dear," Mae said, still clutching her hand. "Everyone will be at the house soon for refreshments."
"You go ahead, Mae. I'll meet you at the car in a moment."
Elliott's eyes darted left to right and Marcel lifted his head when she stepped forward and spoke. "What was Calder doing in St. Louis?"
Elliott lowered his voice. "Why don't we talk about this later?"
Her answer came hard and fast. "No, let's talk about it now."
Elliott put his hand on his brother's shoulder. "I'll wait in the car for you, bro."
She waited until his footsteps faded before she pinned Marcel with a lethal glare. Too bad he couldn't see it behind her shades. "Enlighten me, Marcel."
"It was just a weekend get-away." He ran his hands through the hair at his forehead. "St. Louis hosts several fourth of July celebrations every year, Riverfest, Fair St. Louis…." His voice dwindled on a heavy sigh.
Lord help her, could she even say the words? "What happened, how did Calder die?"
"Car accident." He blew air through his lips. "Calder made a late-night beer run and…and…the sheriff said he spied tracks from a deer sprinting at top speed across the dirt road. Calder must have swerved to avoid the animal and hit a tree."
"Was he alone in the car?"
Marcel gave a slow nod, but the flicker in his eyes contradicted the head motion. He must not know she'd memorized his body language and every nuance eons ago. A tug at the corner of his mouth meant he was happy, a tic in his jaw, irritated. But truth and lies walk a thin line and both resided behind those luminous orbs at the moment. 
"Who made the decision to seal the casket before I arrived?"
"Me. I didn't want to put you through…wanted you to remember him in life. Both Mom and the coroner concurred."
She blew a huff or air. "Yeah? Well, you, Mae and the coroner are not his next of kin."
Anger laced his words. "I did it for you, Cecily."
This time, his eyes didn't lie. "So, who identified—?"
"Me." His face blighted by pain his voice guttered like a candle flame. "I identified him for the mortuary in St. Louis, before they shipped his body home.” The seconds ticked by while he held her stare. At last, he spoke. "You got something to say, Cecily, say it."
 Every bone in her body ached, not like when she had the flu, but rather a dull pain in the deepest part of her marrow. If she lived to be one hundred, she'd never get used to the aberrant discomfort that took flight in her bones when something in her world was off. "I do have something to say. Call it intuition, but something reeks here."
Palms up, Marcel’s hands came out at his sides. Translation—a defiant stance that meant she was getting under his skin. "Look, I don't know what your internal truth compass is pointing to, but it's like I said. Now, why don't you run back to your cozy little life of tea leaves and tarot cards in that quaint little resort town you live in and get on with your perfect little life with your perfect little boyfriend?"
How the hell does he know about Leif? Mae, of course. Mae must tell him everything. "You'd like that, for me to just go away, wouldn't you? Not this time, Marcel, not when every short hair on my arms and at the nape of my neck is standing at attention, not when my gut roils in protest at the words coming out of your mouth.  Twins know things about one another, things others can't possibly understand because they've never known such a bond. My soul would be at peace if I thought Calder died from a freak accident." She lifted her chin. "So, tell me, why is it so restless?"
Resignation laced his words. "I don't know what your soul thinks any more than I know what your heart thinks. I'm pretty sure we established that when you left for Minnesota, you know; when you walked away from me without as much as a backward glance."
His words stung because he spoke the truth. She had run, away from him, away from everything they once shared, but now she was back and she wouldn't leave until she knew the truth about Calder—knew the truth about Marcel and Elliott. "I'm not running this time, not until I know what happened to my brother. I don't care how long it takes or what I have to go through to get the truth." She pivoted on her heels, speaking over her shoulder, "Get used to seeing me around, Marcel."
* * *

 Cover Art by @ EmCat Designs

About A Darker Shade of Evil: A Demon & Devil Anthology 

Including stories from USA Today and Bestselling Authors

Khardine Gray, USA Today Bestselling Author– Alone In The Dark
Dariel Raye – USA Today Bestselling Author – The Devil Upstairs
Lori Titus USA Today Bestselling Author - Talons
Muffy Wilson – USA Today Bestselling Author – Succubus Unleashed
Keta Diablo – Bestselling Author I Spy A Demon
Marilyn Harlow– Bestselling Author – Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend
Gracen Miller – Bestselling Author - Hex
Michelle Scott – Bestselling Author – The Demon’s Prisoner
Katherine Smits – Bestselling Author – Siren Descending

* * *
 About A Darker Shade of Evil

Deadly demons, diabolical devils and other creatures of the night will hold you spellbound in this one-of-a-kind anthology. In a world of dark delights, they trifle in forbidden passion, suspense, and kick-ass battles. It’s all right here for you in this captivating urban fantasy and paranormal romance anthology!

Brought to you by USA Today and International Bestselling Authors, these stories of sexy alpha heroes and heroines will keep you turning the pages. Devils, demons and their lethal hunters will draw you into their conquests, twisted deceptions, scorching heat, and yes, even love.

Don’t miss A Darker Shade of Evil! One-click now will claim your copy!

* Heat Rating: Spicy to Erotic Romance
* No Cliffhangers
* Happily-Ever-After or Happy-For-Now

You can pre-order A DARKER SHADE OF EVIL at your favorite venue now!

 Thank you for reading Chapter One in I Spy A Demon. I promise, the other stories in the anthology are fascinating, fantastic reads. 

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