Authors: H.M. Ward
The third book in the best selling
Demon Kissed Series
Join over 40,000 fans on
Laree Bailey Press
This book is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2011 by H. M. Ward.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without explicit permission.
By purchasing an authorized copy of this book you are supporting H.M. Ward as an Indie author (a self-published writer), which makes you a super-awesome person!
Laree Bailey Press, 4431 Loop 322, Abilene, TX 79602
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: November 2011
Thank you to my
Super awesome husband!
I love you like crazy!
Thank you to the
Awesome fans who loved
From the very beginning.
Sometimes a single decision can result in a cascade of actions that you never intended. This was one of those times. I’d never once thought about ending my life, not even when I felt like there was no way to survive the pain of losing my sister. I was a robot back then, awaking every morning, reminding myself to breathe, and that tomorrow would come. Somehow I expected everything to resolve itself if I could just survive the motions of getting through the day. But, somehow my life had deteriorated into this one horrifying moment, where everything hinged on me and my love for this boy.
It wasn’t only my fate that depended on this one decision—it was the fate of mankind. Until then, I didn’t see how my affection for Collin could possibly condemn the world and unleash the apocalypse, but now I did. Collin’s prone form breathed silently next to me after Kreturus took possession of his body. The ancient demon’s dark shapeless form entered Collin’s limp body through lesions that were inflicted by the lesser demons. In one horrifying moment, my world had changed. There was nothing that could have prepared me for this moment, because there was no preparation for a decision like this.
My life or his.
And whose life was it? Whose life was I taking? Was he Kreturus or Collin? Had the demon invaded his body and taken over his mind? Or was this Collin laying there helpless. There was no way for me to know. Not without waiting for Collin to wake up. And no matter what, that was a terrible idea. If Collin were awake, he could talk to me. His sweet voice would assure me that
was all right and that we could be together now.
There is no way I’d ever forget what I’d seen, that Kreturus was actually inside of him. But, how could I kill the one I loved? He was part of me. I’d die if I plunged the fang into his chest. No, this was the only way. And I knew this was my one and only chance to end this horrifying confrontation between me and Kreturus, and that I needed to do it before Collin awoke.
An internal signal erupted in my mind telling me what to do—what I had to do. If I removed the pivotal player from the game, then the game would be over. There would be no one left to carry on my role as the Prophecy One and cause the end of the world. There would be no more anything. I’d be removed from scenario, crippling Kreturus’ plans.
This was like a game of chess—kill
the queen and the king would be vulnerable.
Swallowing hard, I pushed back the fear that was choking me. The only object that could destroy me was gripped tightly in my fist. The sapphire serum within the silver fang could destroy both angels and demons. Its poison did not discriminate. It was lethal no matter who touched it.
The fang was poised over my heart, and ready to strike.
There was no hesitation in my swing. I would not be the girl in the prophecy, and this was the only way to ensure it would never come to pass. Without my tainted blood there would be no one to free Kreturus. Without me, the prophecy would dissolve and cease to exist. I glanced at Collin as my fingers curled tighter around the silver tooth. Every muscle in my body flexed in anticipation. The point of the fang needed to pierce my heart. It was the only way for the poison within it to kill me instantly. The moment it struck my heart, the venom would be pumped throughout my body. In one heart beat I would die. In one heart beat the prophecy would end. I breathed deeply, one last breath, as every ounce of rage, every broken hope and shattered dream came to the front of my mind.
And I swung.
It was an action that I would undo, if I could. It was this act of martyrdom that created a ripple effect in the pond of my eternally screwed-up life. This one selfless act is what ultimately led to the corruption and demise of mankind. You see, the fang didn’t pierce my heart as I’d intended. Everything happened so quickly that it’s difficult to say exactly what happened. But, as the fang swung toward me an ear piercing scream erupted and I was knocked to the floor. The tooth collided with something mid-swing and missed its original target. Instead, the fang caught the skin between my breasts, as a hand tried to stop me. But, the force and speed of my strike was too powerful to stop, so the silver fang sliced a U across my chest and up into my shoulder. Crimson flowed from the wound in the wake of the silver fang. It cut through me like I was made of butter. My flesh hissed as if it were burned. The blue sapphire serum leaked from the fang and mingled together with my blood, as I screamed in utter agony clutching my chest.
My words were incoherent screams at first, as I doubled over. I didn’t know what happened. How did I miss? But as my senses fought for control through the searing pain of the poisoned fang, I saw what caused my aim to falter.
His blue eyes were wide and panic stricken. He was speaking, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. The pain was too intense to focus on anything else. His words sounded like babble, and made no sense to me. As I writhed on my side he reached for me. Fear clutched my stomach in unrelenting waves as his hands extended toward my wound with an expression of terror on his face. He kneeled over me with tears streaming down his face. I finally understood what he was saying. His unfathomable words suddenly had meaning.
He was screaming, “Ivy! What did you do?”
I recoiled, afraid of his touch—afraid of his words. My heart raced as terror shot through me. It was him. That demonic version of the boy I loved. He made me miss. His fist had collided with my hand and sent the fang on a shallow, but deadly path across my chest. My lungs sucked in air with quick pants as I tried to endure the pain. It didn’t matter that the fang didn’t pierce my heart. The end result would be the same, but this was a much more painful way to die. Instead of instant death, this would be a slow painful demise.
Pulling my bloodied hands away from my chest, I clawed at the ground, backing away from him. “Don’t touch me!” The voice that rang in my ears sounded foreign even though I felt it rip from my throat in a panicked cry.
“Ivy,” he pleaded, “Ivy, let me help you. Please.” The urgency in voice said he knew my wound was fatal. He knew what I’d done, but the expression in his eyes said he didn’t know why. His blue eyes were wide with fear as he tried to help me. The same touch I once longed for was now terrifying.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Beads of sweat formed on my brow and trickled down my temples. The poison was no longer isolated in my chest, and I could feel it working its way slowly down my arms. As Collin reached for me again, I shrank back from his touch. He wasn’t Collin anymore—he was Kreturus. I didn’t want the demon near me. I couldn’t stand the thought of him touching me with Collin’s hands.
Sweat was pouring off of me as I became increasingly lightheaded. “I don’t need your help! I know what you wanted me for and you can’t have me. There’s no point in trying to take Collin from me, you demonic bastard! You lose! My powers die with me!”
He didn’t back away from me while I screamed at him. Instead he glanced around like he thought I was talking to someone else. Someone he couldn’t see. Confusion, mingled with desperation, spread across his face, “Who are you talking to? Who do you think you see? Ivy, talk to me!” He tried to reach for me again, but he stopped when he saw the pain on my face, as I tried to move away from him. He sat on his knees, not knowing what to do with his hands, looking utterly helpless. His voice was weak, “What happened? Why would you do this?”
Every muscle in my body was flexed as I tried to manage the pain and failed. My eyes shut tight as I clenched my teeth. I felt like my flesh was burning where the fang had torn open my skin. The sapphire serum burned like other forms of evil magic, but differently than effonation. It felt like acid leaking into my body in a steady slow stream. Through gritted teeth I uttered, “Don’t act like you’re not you. I saw you possess him. You’re trying to use him against me.” I glanced up into his eyes and swallowed hard. The expression on Collin’s face almost made me believe that he wasn’t Kreturus, and that he sincerely had no idea what happened. But the poison slowly spreading through my body wouldn’t let me forget who he really was. There was no way that demon wasn’t in him. I knew what I saw.
“I swear to God, Ivy—this isn’t what you think,” his voice was faint. A shallow breath left his body as he rammed his fingers through his hair. “It’s not what you think.” His voice trembled. Tears streaked his face as he looked down at the ground. Hopelessness engulfed him.
My head was spinning with feverish pain. Was it possible that I was wrong? Was it possible that this was really Collin? The pain on his face—the look of terror in his eyes was real. Maybe it was Collin. I blinked hard trying to focus. Wooziness made it difficult to think, but I had to know.
“Prove it,” I whispered. My eye lids were growing heavy. The sapphire serum burned its way through most of my body. There wasn’t an inch of me that wasn’t scorched from within. Some areas of my skin started smoking in thin blue wafts. I didn’t have much time left. “Prove you’re Collin and only Collin.”
He glanced up at me. “There are no words that will convince you of that. You saw something…I don’t know what, but it terrified you into thinking this was the only way to prevent the prophecy.”
Pain that I couldn’t imagine had devoured my body in a matter of minutes, and I saw every speck of that pain reflected in Collin’s eyes.
Clearing my throat, I said, “Kreturus is inside of you. Or he is you. I don’t know which.” The room was spinning. Kreturus did go into Collin, but I expected him to be different somehow and he wasn’t. It bothered me, but I couldn’t understand why. Perhaps it was the venom rotting my brain. A weak sliver of a voice slid from my lips, “It doesn’t matter now.”
Tears were streaming down his face, and his blue eyes were burning bright. He bit his lips as if he didn’t know what to say. My eyelids drooped, but I couldn’t take my eyes from his. Finally, he said, “I know you don’t want me to touch you. I know you’re afraid. But I can help you. I can slow the poison. Ivy, I have to…” with that he reached for me. His fingers pressed against my chest and I screamed.
His hands felt like lead, increasing the agony I already felt. I don’t know if it was a physical reaction to Kreturus or if the additional pain was from the wound, but his touch intensified the agony. His hands pressed on my bloodied chest, as he uttered words that I couldn’t understand. Whatever he was saying, it wasn’t English. I didn’t recognize it at all. More foreign words fell from him lips, as his fingers traced the wound across my chest.
What did he say? Was he really trying to heal me? Could he do that? I didn’t know, but I did know that I had to get away. I’d made my decision—this wasn’t Collin. It was Kreturus. And I couldn’t risk whatever the demon was planning to do. It was unbearable watching him looking at me the way Collin used to. It was the same expression he wore so many times, but intensified—the sorrow behind his eyes, the determination of his shoulders, and the confidence on his lips. He seemed so lost and frightened. It made me feel like I was the air that he needed to breathe and I had to be close to sooth him. But, there was no soothing him now. There was no nice way to end this.
My body was too weak to fight my way out of his grasp. He was determined to heal me and I was determined to stop him. There was only one way to do it. If I acted quickly, I could effonate to the one place where no one would follow me. It was the one place I knew for certain that I could die alone.
I fixated on the place in my mind, fighting back the fatigue that was pawing at me. As heat seared through me, I glanced up into his eyes one more time. They held more words than he could have ever said. Kreturus chose well. Collin was the only one who could have tempted me. He was the only one I wanted, and now I’d never have him. His thoughts pushed at my mind trying to convince me to rest and let him slow the poison. I felt his desperation, but couldn’t give in. I’d done the only thing I knew that would stop the prophecy.
Collin didn’t realize what I was doing until I whispered, “You meant everything to me. I love you. Good-bye, Collin.” As I focused on the ruby ring and effonated away, I heard Collin screaming my name.