Darkness Deceives by Katie May

Prologue





Unknown Witness


This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen.

That thought echoes on repeat in my brain as I stand at the end of the hall.

They haven’t noticed me yet, so I take the moment to study them uninterrupted. Worry is etched into their features. Their fear is so potent I could drown in it. As they blast through the door, watching it shatter around them in pieces, I slip further into the medical wing hallway, just in time to see Hadley turn towards her men, eyes twin chips of obsidian.

“Hadley isn’t here anymore.” Her voice is guttural, nearly unrecognizable.

His voice.

That realization sends icy terror skating down my spine, stealing the warmth from my body.

I need to stop this. I need to—

No! I mentally scold myself. Intervening will only make things worse.

So I wait, hidden in the shadows behind a medical cart near the nurse’s office. I wait, and I watch. My eyes automatically flicker to Jake’s soul and the steady rise and fall of his chest. The Darkness wasn’t able to steal his essence entirely, and an idea begins to percolate in my brain.

The Darkness stepping forward recaptures my attention.

I can feel each heartbeat echoing like a drumline, building to a crescendo. Terror like no other cements my feet to the ceramic tiles. I can’t move, can’t breathe, can’t do anything but stare helplessly.

One question reverberates through my head.

If the Darkness is there, occupying her body, then where is Hadley?





Chapter 1





Hadley


I purse my lips, staring at my reflection in the closet mirror. At Layla’s suggestion, I put on a sheer white top that showcases the lacy black bra underneath and a matching onyx skirt.

“How do I look?” I ask the two girls perching on the edge of the bed. Layla, as always, is the epitome of perfection and raw sexuality. Even in her ratty t-shirt and sweatpants, she looks as if she just stepped off a fashion runway. Her dark hair is stylishly curled away from her porcelain face that’s complete with dewy features and red, plush lips.

Beside her, Aggie looks like…well…like an eighty-year-old, sex-starved woman. Today, she’s wearing bunny ears and a crop top. Her wrinkled hands are fondling her breasts through the thin material.

Crazy fucking bitch.

“Beautiful,” Layla assures me, tucking a strand of silky black hair behind her ear. “He’s a lucky man.”

“You know who’s a lucky man?” Aggie cuts in, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “The man who got a taste of paradise. A taste of my baby maker. I remember those days…” Her tone turns wistful, dreamy almost. “He set a literal trap for me on the forest floor. I was out for a walk with my pussy cat…well…actually I was just airing out my own pussy who sometimes hisses like a cat, when suddenly, I found myself tangled in a rope net high in a tree, a wedgie the size of—”

“Aggie,” I say, fighting off an encroaching headache. The recollections of her sexual escapades do that to me.

Turning once more towards the mirror, I attempt to tame a wayward curl. After a moment of ineffectually brushing it away, I decide to leave it hanging in front of my eyes.

“You look really pretty, Had,” Layla offers, coming to stand behind me in the mirror. She gives my shoulders a quick squeeze. “Promise.”

“I think I’m going to say it,” I admit, fiddling with the hem of my skirt. When Layla merely quirks a brow, remaining silent, I elaborate. “I’m going to tell him the truth about my feelings…how I feel about him.” The words tumble from my mouth, but now that I have begun talking, I can’t seem to stop. “I’m going to tell him I love him.”

The realization settles in my gut like lead, intertwining with the ball of nerves already there. My hands are sweaty, and I subtly attempt to wipe them on my skirt.

“You’re going to tell him you love him?” Layla asks uneasily. Her lips are turned down so far, I’m afraid her face will stick like that. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? You haven’t known him long.”

For some reason, her words cause indignation to rush through me, burning me. An inferno just beneath the surface.

“Why does that matter?” I inquire angrily. “Wouldn’t I know how I feel? I’m not stupid, Layla. I know what love is…and this? It’s love. Real, untainted love.”