Demon Within Series Cover Re-Vamp Announcement

Over the next few weeks, you’ll notice a change in the covers of the Demon Within series if you haven’t already seen them on Amazon. While the original covers will always have a place in my heart, and I’ll always love their colorful spines, I’m officially in love with the new covers and their portrayal of Cami Anders.

Why re-vamp the covers so soon after the release of Revived you ask (or didn’t ask)? Well, the simple answer is that the decision to change them has been with me since the release of Crushed, though I didn’t want to change the covers halfway through the series. The original covers were often misinterpreted by just looking at them, especially with an older man (who was portraying Malicevile—Cami’s demon), and people assumed he was the love interest, which is obviously not the case. Also, I believe the new covers better portray the YA Paranormal genre. Plus, now, “These covers are on fiiiiiiirrreeeeee!” (Imagine Alicia Keys singing).

Anyway, I hope you all love the new Demon Within series covers as much as I do! If you’re interested in purchasing a signed paperback with the original covers on them for a discounted price, please feel free to message me at Ginna @ GinnaMoran . com (there are no spaces) or shoot me a message here.

Have a great day!

XOXO,

Ginna

P.S. Tainted and Crushed are still on sale for .99cents! Get your copies today!

TAINTED LINKS: AmazoniTunes, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo.

CRUSHED LINKS: Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes&Noble, and Kobo.

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Love Triangles

#TeamDemonBoy, #TeamAngelBoy, or #TeamCami?


love-trianglesWith the release of Tainted, I’ve had a few people comment on the relationships in Cami’s life. One thing’s for sure—people either love or hate love triangles. If you hate love triangles, I want to let you know now that while there is a love triangle in the series, it’s not what the books are about. The main focus of the series is self-discovery, exploring the gray areas of good and evil, overcoming adversity, fighting for what is important on a personal level, and much more.

Every relationship in Cami’s life is important. They’re not there just to add angst and drama. They serve purposes that might not be clear from the start, because Cami’s world is still full of secrets, lies, and misunderstandings. It’s the relationships that Cami has with others that drive her through her life. From her relationship with her guardian to the relationship with (spoilers ahead) her demonic father, it’s these relationships that help her discover who she is and what she wants/needs to do in her life.

The thing about Cami’s relationship with both Evan and Dylan is that while both boys hold a piece of Cami’s heart, they’re so completely different and special in their own way. And like everything, her relationship with both boys is ever evolving and changing like her whole life. It’s not about who she loves or who she should/wants to be with, it’s about how these specific relationships affect her life. In Tainted, it’s the beginning—everything is new. But in Crushed, things have had time to settle and you get to see the layers unfold. But why a love triangle, you ask? I don’t have a clear cut answer. Cami is young and as things progress and change, so does Cami. You’ll just have to wait and see how things unfold. In the Demon Within series, anything is possible.


 

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Tainted Q&A

Tainted QA1. What inspired you to write Tainted?

As a teen, I used to have these lucid dreams I couldn’t wake up from. I knew I was dreaming, but my body wouldn’t cooperate and kept me stuck in sleep paralysis (look it up if you’re interested). Every single one of these dreams involved some sort of demonic creature entering my room to scare me.

One specific dream has stayed with me for years. I used to sleep with my door open and the hall light on, and during one of these lucid dreams, I saw a cat’s silhouette in the hallway. We didn’t own any cats, but there it was outside my bedroom door. Except it wasn’t a cat. It kept growing and changing into this terrifying, fanged humanoid creature that was the size of a medium-sized dog. It hopped up on my bed and sat on my chest, sucking my breath away. I felt like I was awake, but my body couldn’t move. I tried screaming and yelling as it sat on me, and in this weird lucid dream, I somehow managed to project my spirit from my body so I could see it on me while I slept. It wasn’t until then that I could say anything. I screamed at the weird cat demon that it couldn’t have my soul, and then it left my room. I woke up disoriented and unable to breathe. It took me a long time to realize that I had been dreaming.

It wasn’t until years later that I discovered sleep paralysis from an article I had stumbled across. So, this particular dream inspired the Tainted series, and I actually base one of the demon attack scenes on the demon cat.

2. What was your favorite scene to write from Tainted?

My favorite scene to write was the scene where Cami and Alana are running from Malicevile (the demon who killed Cami’s parents) to a safe house. It was the very first scene I wrote, and it was one of the more brutal scenes as far as the violence Cami experiences from her demon. It’s also the scene where she meets Evan Whiteshaw, who I love dearly as a character.

3. What was your writing process like with Tainted?

Initially, Tainted started off as a 30k word novella titled The Otherside that I had written back in 2009. It started from the church scene and ended in the final chapter before the epilogue. I had considered starting the book from that point but ended up having these ideas with Cami around these two other characters—Cadence and Dylan—so I wrote a few of those scenes and pieced them all together to make the beginning of the book. After I had gotten from the real starting point with the introduction of Dylan, I then went back and rewrote the end to weave in the story and add additional scenes that kept both Dylan and Cadence around through the end. The final scene I wrote was the epilogue, which has gone unchanged.

4. Who was your favorite character to write?

Besides Cami, my absolute favorite character is Dylan Davidoff.

5. What can expect from the next book in the series?

In the next book, we get more hunters, the Hunter’s Academy, and of course, more Malicevile. Cami does a lot of growing and changing in the second book.


Thanks so much for reading this Q&A! I hope you enjoy Tainted! If you have your own questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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Character Bio – Malicevile Hellshire

Name: Malicevile (Mali-see-ville) Hellshire

Age: Unknown

Description: Dark hair, green eyes, sharp features, tall.

Style: Suits and other professional business attire.

Personality Traits: Cocky, relentless, aggressive.

Strengths: Tracking abilities, deal making, patient, upper-level demon, calculated.

Weaknesses: Holy water, sunlight, underestimates people.

Malicevile Hellshire Quote TaintedQuote: “The girl has spunk. All these years I thought I’d have to toughen her up.” I loved writing Malicevile’s character. He’s much more than just an evil demon, and it was fun to come up with his motives.

Theme song: Had Enough by Breaking Benjamin

Fun facts: Malicevile could easily capture Cami, but he enjoys tormenting and wearing her down. All of his actions are heavily planned, and they all have a reason behind them.

Also, Malicevile’s last name is never mentioned in Tainted.

Thanks so much for reading a more in-depth look at the demon you wouldn’t want hunting you!

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Character Interview with Cami Anders

Cami Character Interview

Whenever I need a break from writing or editing one of my novels, I like to write smaller pieces to get my mind back on track. So, I sat down and thought about what it would be like to talk to Cami Anders instead of be in her head for once, and this character is what came out of it. It includes a never-before-read memory of Cami’s from her time on the run with her guardian, Alana, advice on demons, and who smells better: Dylan the nephilim or Evan the demi-demon.*

*There is a small spoiler about Dylan and Evan’s involvement in Cami’s life. Read at your own risk.

And now without further ado, and interview with Cami Anders.


Me: Thank you so much for stopping by, Cami. I’m surprised to see you alone.

Cami: *Smiles* I’m not alone. Alana’s outside. She didn’t like that you chose somewhere that isn’t safe so she’s keeping guard.

Me: Malicevile and I have a deal. Plus, the sun’s still out.

Cami: *Pales* You made a deal with a demon?

Me: *Shrugs* More of an agreement. *Shifts uncomfortably under Cami’s scrutiny* Anyway, while we’re talking about demons, can you give me a few words of advice?

Cami: *Raises her eyebrows* First, never make a deal with a demon. Demons don’t make deals unless they get the better end of the bargain—which is most likely your soul. Also, don’t let them fool you. Upper-level demons are extremely charming.

Me: Oh, I know.

Cami: I was afraid of that.

Me: *Laughs nervously* Let’s stay on track. I know you need to get back to safety before the sun sets. You’ve had quite a few run-ins with demons over the years. Any one particularly memorable?

Cami: About two years ago, when things were still pretty peaceful in my life, Alana and I lived in a beach town just north of San Diego. We’d been living there for probably four months, one of our longer stays, and I attended a public high school. Well, Alana was forced into one of those mandatory parent/teacher conferences that left us out after sunset. It wasn’t really a big deal, most of our apartments weren’t exactly demon safe, but it’s nice when things fall on a daylight schedule. Anyway, when we get to my school, there was this woman screaming at my English teacher. She was throwing her arms around, just making this huge scene. I immediately knew something was wrong because even the most potent perfume couldn’t mask the demon stink that lingered on the woman.

Me: So a demon was disguised as a parent?

Cami: *Holds hands up* Sort of. As it turned out, a kid had hired this demon to intimidate poor Mr. Longstein into changing his grade before his parents showed up for their conference.

Me: Whoa!

Cami: I know! Anyway, this kid got so freaking lucky that the demon wasn’t interested in anything more than money. She was probably working her way up to his soul.

Me: How does someone even find a demon?

Cami: Why are you asking?

Me: *Shrugs* So I know what not to do.

Cami: Alana says it’s harder than you’d expect. Demons pick their prey. It’s all very calculated. But, I’m sure if you called for one loud enough after dark, you could probably find one. Big cities tend to have an abundance of them.

Me: I bet finding a demon at parent/teacher night was quite the surprise for Alana.

Cami: Alana? No. Me, totally. One second the woman was yelling, and then in the next, her face had morphed from soccer mom to something of nightmares. Mr. Longstein passed out right on the floor the moment before Alana cut the demon’s heart out and sent her back to Hell.

Me: I’d have passed out, too. Demons in their true bodies are a whole lot of nope in my book.

Cami: *Laughs* That stupid demon was the reason I had to leave one of my favorite places. Oh, well.

Me: Hey, if it didn’t, you’d never had met a few certain someones.

Cami: *Blushes* You’re going to go there?

Me: *Grins* How can I not talk about your encounter with a nephilim and a demi-demon? Did you ever imagine you’d get to meet two boys from opposite sides of the spectrum?

Cami: Oh, definitely not. I’m glad I did though. Dylan basically pulled me from the fringes of the Veiled Realm and dropped me in the center of it, and then Evan taught me how to survive in it in a way Alana never could.

Me: *Smirks* I bet Alana just loves Dylan for that.

Cami: *Rolls her eyes* He’s lucky she didn’t try to pluck his wings.

Me: So she’s Team Evan?

Cami: She’s Team Cami.

Me: What about you?

Cami: We’re all on the same side, you know.

*A knock sounds on the door, and Alana peeks her head in.*

Alana: We have an hour to get home.

Cami: *Frowns* One more question?

Alana: *Crosses arms* Fine.

Me: Okay. One more question. You have a keen sense of smell that allows you know when someone isn’t human. And since we’re talking about Evan and Dylan, who are only half human…who smells better?

Cami: Seriously?

Me: Yeah.

Cami: They both smell pretty irresistible—Dylan like apples and rain and Evan like amber and patchouli—but I’m going to go with Evan.

Alana: Good choice.

Me: I’m going to pick Dylan then.

Cami: Cadence is with you on that.

Me: You’ll have to send her my way for an interview.

Cami: *Smiles* She’d like that.

Me: *Turns to Alana* Thanks for bringing Cami by, Alana. You sure you don’t want to hang around and answer some questions?

Cami: Good luck with pulling answers from her.

Alana: *Sighs* Come on, Cami. It’s time to go.

Me: Thanks again for stopping by, Cami. Stay safe tonight.

Cami: You, too. And remember what I said about demons.

Me: *Makes note to call Malicevile to reschedule his interview* Sure thing.


I hope you all enjoyed this interview with Cami Anders! Feel free to leave your own questions in the comments, and she might just come back for another interview some other time.

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Character Bio – Evan Whiteshaw

Name: Evan Whiteshaw

Age: Nineteen

Description: Blond hair, blue eyes, muscular, tall, extremely attractive.

Style: Hunting attire usually consisting of all black clothing and boots.

Personality Traits: Confident, brave, reasonable.

Strengths: Trustworthy, powerful, intelligent, helpful.

Weaknesses: Perfectly okay with his darker side.

Evan Whiteshaw Quote TaintedQuote: “You can never let your guard down for anyone—not even me.” Evan is aware of the darker side he possesses, and he isn’t afraid to use it. The advice applies to teaching Cami to fight, but it can be applied to Cami’s real life.

Theme songs: Look After You by The Fray and Angels Fall by Breaking Benjamin.

Fun fact: Evan and Cami have a bond due to surviving similar circumstances. When Cami lost her parents, Evan was the only one she’d talk to, though she doesn’t remember much after the fire.

Thanks so much for reading about my favorite hunter, Evan Whiteshaw! 

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Tainted Release Giveaway!

As a treat to celebrate the release of Tainted: Demon Within Book One, YA Bound Book Tours is hosting a giveaway on my behalf that includes a $15 Amazon digital gift card. Thanks so much to all those who have made the release of Tainted so special. There are many ways to participate, so just check out the rafflecopter giveaway below. Also, as another treat, I’ve included one of my very favorite scenes that you can check out below. Enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tainted with FlowersTainted Teaser

I turn on my heels, stomping my way back to the arched doorway that leads to the altar. Footsteps echo behind me. I barely have time to turn before Evan collides into me. We fall to the floor in a tangle of arms and legs. I land on my back with Evan pressed on top of me. Heat blossoms in my cheeks. I’m angry and embarrassed I was defeated so easily.

I freeze as he watches me, his nose almost touching mine. I can’t help breathing deeply. He smells like his pillow—hints of golden amber and raw patchouli mixed with his citrus shampoo.

“Never turn your back on a demon.” His deep voice vibrates through me, sending tingles down my spine.

I lie placidly beneath him. “You’re not a de—” I begin to say, and then laugh.

“That’s beside the point.” Evan’s words wipe the smile from my lips. “You can never let your guard down for anyone—not even me.”

He rolls off me, breathing heavily, attempting to regain his composure. I push off the floor, knocking him on his back, determined not to make the same mistake twice. I’m tempted to help him up, but I picture him yanking me back onto the floor and yelling at me again.

I walk backwards, putting distance between us. The corner of his mouth quirks into a half smile. I narrow my eyes, taking longer strides backwards, my right hand behind me, guiding my way so I don’t bump into the wall I know is coming up behind me.

Evan reaches above his head, pressing his palms flat against the floor, and easily handsprings. His body arches in an elegant swooping motion, and he lands smoothly on his feet. He lurches closer, stalking his prey like a hunter. The predator he is dominates his every movement, every gesture, from his graceful strides to the ferocious glint in his eyes reflecting back at me. Crap, he’s going to try and corner me.

I steady my pace, taking each step one at a time, reaching out to the cool emptiness of the room behind me. It’s a relief to my clammy skin and my tightly wound nerves. I’m not trapped…yet.

I straighten my back. Lifting my chin smugly, I curl my lips into my most dazzling smile.

Without saying a word, he charges at me. I side step out of his way seconds before his arms can wrap around me. I run to the opposite side of the room. Alana would be proud of my ability to stay on the edge of danger without jumping into it. I’m a fast opponent when I’m not scared out of my wits. I can defeat the feline in Evan’s game of cat and mouse.

“You can’t run forever. I will catch you.”

“Want to bet on it?”

“Yes.”

 

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Character Bio – Cadence Dubois

Name: Cadence Dubois

Age: Eighteen

Description: Purple hair, light brown eyes, muscular, heavy makeup.

Style: Skirts, skinny jeans, fishnets, halter tops, gothic styles, heels. Impractical hunting attire.

Personality Traits: Assertive, courageous, protective, flirtatious.

Strengths: Loyal, impulsive, skilled fighter.

Weaknesses: Tends to underestimate the severity of a situation, overconfident.

Cadence Dubois quote TaintedQuote: “Stop putting yourself down and call. You may not realize it yet, but you’re more than just hunted. You are something special. If you weren’t, that upper level demon wouldn’t even bother with trying to take you alive.” Cadence always gives Cami pretty sound advice when it comes to how to deal with her life. While Alana spends her time protecting Cami, Cadence believes Cami is plenty capable of taking care of herself.

Theme songs: Counting Stars by OneRepublic.

Fun fact: Cadence lives in a town based on one my mother lived in years ago. At the time, it was basically all desert, and I’d always get nervous driving to her house at night because it felt like the perfect place for scary shenanigans to occur.

Thanks so much for reading an in-depth look at Cadence, Cami’s best friend!

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Character Bio – Dylan Davidoff

Name: Dylan Davidoff

Age: Eighteen

Description: Tall, black hair, dark brown eyes, dimples, translucent wings.

Style: Casual, usually jeans and a T-shirt.

Personality Traits: Forward, secretive, curious, loves broken people.

Strengths: Can heal souls, protective, smart.

Weaknesses: No fighting skills, empathetic to the point of others emotions being all-consuming.

Dylan Davidoff Quote TaintedQuote: “You could come with me. Alana isn’t the only one who can keep you safe.” What can I say? I might’ve run off with the nephilim had I been Cami. Dylan specifically doesn’t say that he can keep Cami safe in this moment because he probably couldn’t. He can’t fight against Cami’s demons, though he does know of places that can.

Theme songs: Anthem of the Angels by Breaking Benjamin and Your Guardian Angel by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Fun fact: Since first meeting Dylan, Cami’s constantly torn between wanting to kiss him or slap him.

Thanks so much for reading this in-depth look at my favorite nephilim, Dylan! 

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Tainted: A Demon Within Novel Chapter One

Tainted by Ginna Moran for web

 

 

 

With the release of Tainted drawing near, I wanted to share with you chapter one to go along with the prologue I had shared a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read the prologue yet, you can do so here!

Tainted is available for pre-order at these online retailers: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo.


Chapter 1 header for Tainted

FRIGID DARKNESS COATS my skin in ice, but it doesn’t cool the fire running through my veins. I’m trapped in a world of nightmares, hanging on to my sanity for dear life. I’m disoriented, unsure of which way is up. No matter how hard I kick my legs, I don’t get anywhere. I’m terrified.

My heartbeat resonates in my eardrums. The comforting thump-thump, thump-thump keeps me from giving up. My soul isn’t lost…yet.

“You don’t belong here, Cami.” A soft voice echoes in my mind.

“Who said that?” I must be going crazy. There is no one here.

“I did.” The voice comes from nowhere and everywhere, corking the hopelessness leaking from my soul.

Hazy light shimmers in the distance. Like a shipwreck survivor glimpsing a lighthouse on a faraway shore, it’s miles beyond my reach. The light is my last salvation from this barren, black void.

“Please, get me out of here.” My voice quivers with desperation. I’d do anything to escape this nightmare.

“I can only help you if you let me in.” The voice echoes louder, closer. It’s the voice of a boy, not deep enough to be a man. It’s a beautiful sound, like a symphony of reassuring emotions creating a heartwarming melody.

“How can I let you in if I can’t get out?” I ask.

“It’s simple. Open your soul.”

I jolt upright, startled. My room is lit in the soft glow emanating from my bedside lamp. I can’t believe I fell asleep an hour before sunrise. I haven’t done that in over a year. Alana decided I was old enough to have my own room if I could handle staying awake all night, prepared for any and all demon invasions. She’d freak if she found out I’d been taking a catnap.

I shake the lingering nightmare from my mind. I have enough to worry about, let alone stupid, cryptic dreams. The stench of manure and burning rubber stings my nose, and my heart jumps. I reach for the glass of holy water I have sitting on my bedside table. I can only think of one thing that smells that disgusting—a lower level demon in its true body.

I lean over the side of my bed to peer under it for signs of my childhood monsters, but there’s only a baseball bat. My closet door is wide open, displaying the few shirts and jeans I have. My leather jacket drapes over the back of a folding chair stationed in front of a television tray I use as a desk. My curtains are pulled open, giving me a full view of the walkway outside of my window.

And then I see it.

Beady eyes gawk at me through the glass. The demon looks like a metallic porcupine with sharp, silver spikes protruding from crusty skin. Its body glitters in the soft light emanating from my room. Triangular ears fold against its head and a thin flap of skin sags from its neck, twitching and moving like an antenna. It sits on its haunches like a mangy dog, pressing its flat black nose to the windowpane.

I suppress the scream burning in my throat. The last thing I need is to rile it up and have it smash through my window. I have just one cup of holy water left, and I need to save it for more threatening demons. This one seems content just taunting me.

I scoot to the edge of my bed and give the demon my best death glare. As long as I don’t submit to my fear, I won’t look like easy prey. This kind of demon won’t pick a fight if it knows it’ll lose. It makes choices based on animal instinct rather than intelligence. There’s not much I can do until sunrise except hold my ground.

“You got a lot of nerve being here,” I say. The demon may look like a mutated animal, but I know it can understand me.

The demon’s eyelids close and flash open in response.

I tilt the glass of holy water to my lips and drink a small amount. It’s not that I’m thirsty, but what I’m hoping is that it will protect me in case the demon decides watching me isn’t enough. Blessed water is like acid to demons. A glass of it will distract them long enough to give me time to get a running start. In this case, it will give Alana enough time to come and kill it since she’s only a door away.

“Fine. If you’re going to play this game, then I’m going to give you three choices. You can wait here while I scream for Alana, and then she can kill you. You can wait until the sun comes up and traps you for the entire day, and then Alana can kill you. Or, you can leave now and bother someone else, and never come back here, or Alana will kill you.” I can’t believe I’m negotiating with a demon. People lose their souls dealing with demons, but I’m not leaving room for error. Whatever it decides, I’ll survive until sunrise.

The demon lifts its hand and drags its spiked fingers across the glass, creating a horrible squeaking sound. I cringe, opening my mouth to yell for help, stopping short when it stands up on two legs and walks backwards in slow-motion rewind.

It disappears around the corner of the apartment, and I sigh in relief. It chose option three, sensing I wasn’t joking. I guess the demon was smarter than I thought. It’s hard to tell what a lower level demon’s capabilities are, and I’m really glad one of them wasn’t speech. I still have nightmares from the last demonic animal that could speak. My creep-o-meter almost blew up.

I watch the sky lighten as dawn approaches. My eyes are heavy from my short nap and the demonic stare down.

“Finally,” I say out loud to myself as warm sunlight pours into my room. Even though it’s been three years since I was introduced to the Veiled Realm, the world of demons, I’m still adjusting to the side effects it has on my life.

Being an ordinary human, instead of a kickass demon hunter like Alana, has left me trapped in Purgatory. I can never live like a normal human, and I can never live safely in the Veiled Realm. It’s too dangerous, too foreign. The Veiled Realm is the ridiculous side of life no average human would ever believe in. The exceptions are people like me—those who have become involved with the dark side by accident.

Loud banging outside my door interrupts my thoughts. I step into the narrow hallway of our tiny apartment, maneuvering around stacked boxes that will never be unpacked. Not if we have to move every couple of months. This is the third time we’ve moved this year, and it’s not even halfway over. It’s the only way to avoid demons. If we’re not on the run, they’ll come after us until I’m either dead or tainted by evil. Or worse—they could leave me without a soul.

Alana perches on the kitchen counter, sifting through the top shelf of the junk cabinet. Her shoulder length blond hair hangs in a ponytail, the front half clinging against her cheeks. She swivels sideways and glances over her shoulder.

“Fantastic morning, isn’t it?” she asks. “Another peaceful, uneventful night.” Alana’s fuchsia pajamas look as fresh and unwrinkled as they did last night, and I don’t know why she bothers wearing them. The woman doesn’t sleep at night, only in the morning, and even then she has insomnia most of the time.

“For you, maybe. I spent a good thirty minutes convincing a demon that you’d kill it if it didn’t stop staring at me through the window.” I wince, expecting Alana to start screaming.

She turns on the balls of her feet and jumps from the counter. She looks me up and down, checking for signs of injury.

“You know better than that, Cami,” she says. “If you would’ve told me, I could’ve killed it. This is bad. It might go after an innocent person or come back here.”

“It was only a lower level demon. Not something the average person couldn’t fight off,” I say, despite my better judgment.

“That kind of thinking will get you killed. I’ve spent too long keeping you safe to let that happen. You have to tell me these things.”

“Fine, whatever,” I say. Alana is persuasive when it comes to doing the right thing to protect myself from demons. The promise of injury, death, and the loss of my soul always seems to do the job. It’s still effective, even though I’m now seventeen and no longer the naïve fourteen year old girl she rescued.

I watch Alana pull an empty water jug out of the refrigerator and shake it. Small droplets of water pelt the sides, creating a soft drumming sound. She tosses it into the trash before looking up at me.

She sighs. “Where’s the rest of the holy water?”

“I drank it,” I say.

“What? Oh, never mind. Go get dressed. We have to get more supplies.”

 

***

The California afternoon sun beats down, warming my skin. I use my hand to shade my eyes, not caring about the possibility of getting sunburned. Alana once told me demons are repelled by sunburns because they can feel the sun’s rays emitting from your skin. I’m just not brave enough to test the theory.

“You’re quiet.” Alana shifts on her feet as we wait for the bus to arrive. It’s a nervous habit of hers. She can never be still for longer than a minute.

“I know. I’m just thinking.”

“Thinking’s good. What about?”

“You’ll just get upset.”

“Try me.”

“I’m thinking about the Veiled Realm. How much I still don’t understand,” I say. “If you would tell me the truth, we wouldn’t have to keep having this same stupid conversation.”

“You know I can’t.” Alana sighs, staring at me from under her light blond lashes. “It would make you a target to more than demons. I want us to live normal lives—at least as normal as we can.”

“Hold on. More than demons?”

“Crap. Forget I said anything. Now.”

I narrow my eyes. Alana can’t back out of this. It’s not often that she slips up and says too much. My curiosity is overwhelming. I have to know what other creatures are out there. How will I ever protect myself if I don’t know what to look for? There could be brain-eating zombies for all I know. I don’t know how to kill something that is already dead.

“No. Tell me. The boogeyman doesn’t scare me.”

“He should,” Alana mutters.

My mouth falls open.

“I was being sarcastic. There’s no such thing as the boogeyman…I think.”

I blink, smoothing the frown off my face. I shouldn’t be surprised. If there are demons, why wouldn’t there be other beings like witches and warlocks, even fairies? It’s comforting to think the Veiled Realm isn’t inhabited only by evil.

The scent of fuel and dirt drifts through the air, trapped in a breeze. The bus rumbles as it pulls to the curb; the brakes squeak when it comes to a stop. Alana drops coins into the dispenser, and I stomp on behind her. She strategically sits by the middle door, and I claim the seat across the aisle from her. I’m not getting trapped by the window if something happens.

I gaze at a boy close to my age, boredom masking his face. His complexion is smooth with no signs of acne. His deep set, chocolate brown eyes stare at the ceiling.

I imagine he’s one of the creatures Alana refuses to admit is real. I picture wings sprouting from his back, swooping out like an eagle’s, wrapping me in feathery softness. I can almost feel the light breeze from his imaginary wings ruffling my hair.

The boy arches an eyebrow. My cheeks flush, and I roll my eyes, brushing off my embarrassment. He presses his lips together and turns away.

“Not worth it. Some people can sense when something isn’t right. And you, Cami, dance with the dark side,” Alana says.

“Not by choice,” I say.

“Doesn’t matter.”

“It should. It’s not my fault demons actively seek us out.”

“Or is it…”

“Shut up!”

I shift in my seat and stare at the blurry world flying by. If Alana would buy a car, we wouldn’t be stuck on this stinky bus for over an hour. Where she would find the money, I have no idea.

Alana taps my shoulder; our stop is next. I stand up and grip the back of the seat, jerking when the bus comes to a halt. I shuffle off after her and notice the boy exits the front of the bus.

Alana strides forward, forcing me to keep a fast pace. Her boots are soundless compared to the constant thud-thud-thud of mine. She moves as gracefully as a ballet dancer, her back straight and her bare shoulders showing off her athletic muscles.

A breeze gusts from behind, and I stumble. I jerk my neck to look behind me. The boy from the bus lurks ten feet away. At close range, I notice every aspect of him. He’s tall and built like a swimmer. His muscles are firm, well-defined, but not overbearing. They’re subtle against his slim figure. His chocolate brown eyes shine with mischief and his lips narrow in a cocky grin. His thick black hair lies in loose waves, framing his face, curling around his smooth jawline. A golden halo surrounds him in beautiful, shimmering light. I rub my eyes, clearing away the haze of the sun.

“Cami, get behind me.”

I step back. My eyes never waver from the boy. Alana’s low voice creates a storm of fluttering moths in my stomach. I haven’t seen her act like this during the day since our first day together. I peer over her shoulder, flattening my body against hers.

The boy crosses his arms over his chest and frowns. His boyish face creases in irritation. He curls his lips in an awkward smile, showing a small dimple on his cheek. His posture is relaxed, nonthreatening. He shakes his black curls out of his eyes, and I’m taken aback.

“You’re always so on edge, Alana. Lighten up a bit. I’m not here for a fight,” the boy says. His soft voice perks up with amusement. It sounds really familiar, almost like the voice from my nightmare.

“Then why are you here, Dylan? Are you trying to put my charge at risk?” Alana says.

“You know him?” I say.

Dylan shifts, crossing and uncrossing his arms before placing them on his hips. Confusion lines his eyes. I inch away from Alana and step next to her. I stiffen my shoulders and look him dead in the eyes.

“Poor, poor girl,” Dylan says, shaking his head. “You haven’t told her anything have you, Alana?”

I give Alana a sidelong glance. “No, she hasn’t.”

“For your protection!” Alana exclaims, her soft voice going shrill. “Cami, please believe me. This is for the best.”

“You can’t keep her in the dark forever. She will discover the truth about our world.” Dylan swings his eyes to me. “And when you do, I can help you…if you’re not obliterated first.”

My hands tremble. I clench them into fists, trying to quiet the rolling fear in my mind. Alana always intones that a little fear keeps you alive, too much will be your demise. At the moment, it’s going to be the death of me. The grim reaper will be knocking on my door if I don’t get myself under control.

“I’ll keep you in mind,” I say. “If you have nothing else to say to me, then leave. Nightfall is only a couple hours away and we need to get supplies.”

Dylan purses his lips in thought, shrugging his shoulders. He probably didn’t expect me to speak for Alana. I may be under her care, but she treats me like her equal most of the time.

“Well, if you don’t want to talk, at least let me escort you.” Dylan says. “It would be a shame for something to happen because I’ve kept you from your errands.”

Alana narrows her eyes. “Fine, but if you even breathe a word about the Veiled Realm, you’re going to wish you never got off the bus.”


Thanks so much for reading! I hope you look forward to reading Tainted on June 30, 2016! 

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