Aug 5 2014 12:00pm
Son of No One: Excerpt
In Son of No One, next in the blockbuster The Dark-Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, it’s not easy being life’s own personal joke, but Josette Landry has made an unstable peace with the beast. Completely down on her luck, Josette takes a job with a local paranormal group as a photographer and camerawoman. Yeah, they’re even crazier than she is. The only paranormal thing she believes in is the miracle that keeps her rusted out hoopty running. But when something truly evil is released into the world, they are forced to call in reinforcement.
From the moment Josette meets Cadegan, she knows something about him isn’t quite right. Mysterious and armed with lethal sarcasm, he seems a lot older than his age.
Centuries ago, Cadegan was viciously betrayed into an immortal prison by the only person he’d ever trusted. Forced against his will to do good, he hates everything in life. All he wants is a way out. But for the damned there is only eternal suffering. And yet there is something about Josette that intrigues him. Something he can’t seem to fight and the last time he felt this way about a woman, it cost him everything.
He knows he has to stay away from her, but the unleashed demon is hellbent on consuming her soul. If one more innocent is taken, he will be sent back to an unimaginable prison that makes his current hell look like paradise. But how can he keep her safe when his being with her is the greatest threat of all?
Get a sneak peek of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Son of No One (available September 2, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of Chapter 2. Click here to find out where you can read Chapter 1!
Jo had just finished packing her gear into her rusted-out 1964 Ford Falcon that used to be red, but now was more primer gray than anything else, when her cell phone began ringing. Answering it, she went to the driver’s side and tossed her purse in.
“Hey, coz. Quick change of plans. We’re not meeting at Karma’s. Rather, we got an emergency call in for the Gardette-LePretre Mansion on Dauphine.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. That weird old place where the sultan and his harem were slaughtered?”
“That’s the one. See you there … oh, and the man’s paying us through the nose. Your bonus just had a baby! Mazel tov!”
Hoping this wasn’t an additional sign of a pending Apocalypse, Jo hung up and got into the car. Well, she’d always had a morbid fascination about the place that was only a couple of blocks from her family’s Voodoo store, Erzulie’s. When they’d been kids, their aunt Kalila had regaled them with scary stories about that old mansion and the horrors that had taken place there almost two hundred years ago.
But she couldn’t quite suppress the sadness at the thought of driving past the store where her cousin Tiyana had died. Since that horrible night, she’d done her best to avoid the entire street. She could only imagine how much worse it had to be for Selena and her sisters, especially Tabitha, who now owned it.
Out of all the mixed nuts in the Devereaux bowl, Tiyana had been one of Jo’s favorites. Though she’d never believed in any of what her father called their otherworldly crap, Jo used to stop by and nab the special oils and soaps that T and their aunt Ana made for Erzulie’s.
Don’t think about it.
It was hard not to. The one lesson Jo had learned was just how fast life changed. One minute you were walking along in a little cocoon of copasetic numbness. And the next … bam! Your world went skidding off the rails, leaving your heart in little bloody chunks on the sidewalk, that made you wonder how you’d ever be able to put it back together again.
It really ought to be illegal for life to do that without any warning.
Disgusted, she turned the ignition key. Her car sputtered to life with a death rattle and a great belch of black smoke that fanned out for a full block. Yeah, it was embarrassing, but she had to give the old Falcon credit. At age fifty, it had more life in it than she did at present.
Pushing everything out of her mind except the Prince song on the radio, she headed over to Dauphine, where Selena and Karma were already waiting, along with four women she’d never met before.
Jo pulled up behind Selena’s Jeep and parked on the street. After an extremely long and humiliating round of yeah-I-turned-my-car-off-and-it’s-still-running,–don’t-know-if-it’ll-ever-stop-so-bite-my-heinie-and-be-glad-it’s-not-you, she got out and gathered her bags. As she neared the others, she couldn’t help noticing the expressions on everyone’s face that said they had a bet going to see how long she’d last.
Sidling up to Selena, she grinned. “Put me down for eight.”
“How long I’ll last before I run screaming for home.”
The rest looked confused.
With a dismissive snort, Selena gestured toward the petite blonde on her right. “Jo, meet our fearless leader and primary exorcist, Mama Lisa. She’s the one who does the Voices Carry Internet radio show on Wednesday nights.”
Jo knew the show well. It was the only one Karma listened to that she could stand.
Holding her hand out, Jo inclined her head to the woman with friendly eyes and a beautiful smile. “Nice to meet you.”
Next, Selena indicated the two brown-haired women who looked enough alike to be related. “Sister Jordan and her real sister, Sarah.”
They exchanged pleasantries.
“And last, but never least, Mistress Mercy.”
Plump and adorable, she flashed a set of deep dimples. “Hi, Jo. Hope you don’t scare easily. We’ve got a doozy today.”
Jo winked at her. “Looking forward to it.”
“You’re not scared?” Lisa asked doubtfully.
“You’ve met Karma, right? Imagine sharing summer bathrooms and beds with her. She’s a pig. Nothing scares me more than her midnight bathtub rituals.”
They all laughed. Even Karma.
“All right, Ms. Unflappable.” Karma grabbed the bag from Jo’s shoulder. “Get ready for scary!” She made a fake bwa-ha-ha laugh as she left.
Jo passed a less-than-impressed stare at Selena. “I feel like I’m stuck at the lake house with her again … help me.”
Shaking her head, Selena grabbed the tripod and carried it in. Jo followed them, but hesitated in the foyer. Not because she was scared, but because it was absolutely lovely. While the outside of the house was classical Greek Revival, complete with ornate wrought-iron balcony—the whole nine yards—the inside was completely modern and contemporary.
Polished woods. Ceiling fans. Beautiful coffered ceilings. Exquisite.
Jo tried not to gape in awe. “I thought this was apartments.”
Selena set the tripod down. “It was. A year ago August, it was bought and converted to a single home. Nine bedrooms, ten baths. Over seven thousand square feet of utter evil.”
“Doesn’t look evil. Looks really nice.”
Jo turned at the sound of the man’s deep voice. Dressed in a green golf shirt, he was middle-aged and held the air of a man in charge.
“Cal,” Lisa said in greeting. “Thanks for letting us do this.”
“No, thank you for coming. After last week, my wife has refused to return. She’s already calling to have the place relisted. Wish she’d done that before the last remodeling bill. But what can you do? Cheaper than divorce lawyers, I guess.”
Selena pulled out a spiral-bound vinyl notebook that had cute little monsters on the cover, and a feathered flamingo pen. So much for looking professional. “What exactly’s been going on?”
“Honestly, nothing at first. We were here for almost a year with no occurrences whatsoever. Like everyone else, we thought the stories about the place being haunted were bogus. And then…”
Selena looked up. “What?”
“We came in one night from dinner out and there was a strange odor. I can’t even describe how foul it was. We thought maybe a sewer line had backed up or something.”
Lisa paused next to the hall console table. “Something was out of place right here.” She waved her hand over the bowl of marble balls.
Cal nodded. “Someone had put a single red rose there.”
“There was a scream upstairs,” Jordan whispered, as she repeated whatever she thought had happened. “Your wife ran back to the car to call the police while you went to the fourth floor to investigate it.” She looked back at him. “But you found nothing. The room was completely empty.”
Scowling, he nodded again. “How do you know that?”
“They’re very sensitive.” Karma turned back to Jo. “Shouldn’t you be filming this?”
“Sorry.” Jo put her camera bag on the ground and pulled out the Digital Camcorder. Steadying it on her shoulder, she turned it on, then frowned as she flicked at the switch. “How odd.”
“What?” Selena asked.
“I took the battery off the charger right before I came over and it’s empty now.” Jo changed it out, only to learn that both backups were dead, too.
Selena made a note. “Everyone, quick. Check your phones.”
One by one, they reported the same thing. “Completely drained.”
“Oooo,” Karma breathed. “We have activity already.” With the eagerness of a kid at Christmas, she looked back at Cal. “Have you seen an apparition?”
“A light-haired man. Young.”
“Upstairs. Antique hall mirror that’s now in a closet. It came with the house. I took it off the wall after my wife started having nightmares about it, a month ago.”
“Let’s see it and…” Lisa’s voice trailed off as she opened a door on her left and wandered into the bedroom there. She drew up short.
As did the others.
One by one, they each turned to stare at the owner.
“You really like antiques, huh?” Selena asked.
He shrugged. “I’m a historian. They’re artifacts I collect. Mostly from eBay, and friends who are anthropologists and archaeologists.”
Karma turned to Selena. “What’s the time period?”
“Babylonian. Lot of Babylonian.”
Cal nodded. “Akkadia and Sumer are my primary focus. Is that a problem?”
Karma shook her head. “You know Dr. Parthenopaeus?”
“Tory? Yeah. I’ve known her for years.”
“What about Dr. Julian Alexander?” Selena asked.
“Should we call them?” Karma whispered to her sister.
“I’m not sure. Yet. Let’s look around a little more.” Selena tucked her pen into her notebook. “Show us this mirror.”
Jo followed the others as they headed up the stairs. She was trying not to be psyched out by it all, but the thing with the batteries was really strange. Over and over, she tried to think of a logical reason for it.
She couldn’t. Nothing should cause a total discharge of power. Of all items.
That was peculiar.
Cal led them into another bedroom and opened a walk-in closet door.
“You feel that?” Jordan shivered.
Her sister nodded. “There’s something here with us.”
“Sheets,” Jo said. “Pottery. Lots and lots of rugs and art.”
They passed her an irritated glare that said her bonus might be shrinking.
Cal and Lisa brought the mirror out. Over seven feet tall, it was an impressive antique that reminded her of hundreds of such that she’d seen in the antique stores that lined Royal Street. For whatever reason, Jo had always been fascinated by mirrors, especially old ones. So much so, that she’d lined her whole room in them as a girl. Something that apparently ran in her blood, since her mother had confessed to her that she’d been the same way as a girl.
“So how many years of bad luck if you break that?” Jo was trying to lighten the mood.
All it did was tick off her companions.
“Pretend to be serious,” Mercy said with an irritable glare. “We are professionals here.”
Reminding herself that her bonus had a baby if she didn’t blow this, Jo stepped back. “Sorry.”
Bored out of her mind while they studied it and blocked it from her inspection, she glanced around the room, which had an awesome view of the St. Louis Cathedral down the street.
Without conscious thought, she moved to the window that reflected back into the room. She saw a shadow pass over it.
Are you the one.…
She turned at the whisper. No one was there. The others were still gathered around the mirror, comparing notes and speculating oddities.
Yeah, I’m losing it.
They used to do this when she was a kid. They’d act all oooo and ahhh, especially around mirrors, and see things until they’d convinced her she saw them, too.
But she knew better.
The Devereauxes were the strangest of the strange. Starting with Aunt Rocky and moving through all nine of her wacked-out, freakfest daughters.
For that matter, Jo’s mom wasn’t exactly normal. The Floras had a long line of eccentric, yet mostly lovable quacks. Even their Romanichal grandmother had a vein in her foot that she swore only protruded whenever a flood was coming. You could bet the bank on it.
But one good thing about them—family picnics and reunions were never boring.
“You coming, Jo?”
She turned at Selena’s question and realized that everyone had vacated the room while she stood daydreaming. “Right behind you.”
As she followed them around, she had to admit there was something rather creepy about the place. Bright and pathologically clean, it was unsettling. Really, no one should have a house this immaculate while they were actually living in it.
Yeah, the house oozed oddity.
Her gaze went to Karma.
And there it is. The source of all freakiness. Jo bit back a laugh at the thought.
Ignoring them while they prattled about stuff she didn’t know nor want to learn about, she drifted toward the back door that let out into a small courtyard. She froze as she came across the most incredible mural she’d ever seen. Made out of what appeared to be panels of antique mirrors that reflected into the house, they were covered with metal pieces, fashioned to look like 3-D trees, with the back door cut in the center of them. It gave the illusion of walking into a mystical orchard.
I need this in my apartment.…
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
She turned at the sound of Cal’s voice. “Yes, it is. Was it here when you bought the house?”
“No. A friend of my wife’s is an artist. He does a lot of the murals you see in these older homes.”
“I can see why.” She smiled at him. “You have the most amazing home. I know you and your wife are very proud.”
At the same time he opened his mouth to speak, Lisa called for his attention. He left her to attend them.
Alone, Jo moved closer to the metal trees to study the artistry. That took more patience than she’d ever had. But the artist in her was greatly intrigued by it.
As she gently fingered the enameled edges, her gaze went to the old, stained mirrors that had been meticulously joined together and placed for effect. Yeah, she definitely wanted to do this with some of the ones she’d collected over the years.
A shadow light moved behind a pane.
Scowling, she turned to see if someone was behind her.
The room was empty.
Don’t be stupid. And don’t let them in your head. Not unless you plan to charge them rent. You could use the money.
Laughing at her thoughts, she went to the door, intending to investigate the courtyard where the renter of the property was said to have been buried alive during the massacre that had taken place in the home.
But as she started through the door, she tripped on the edge of the rug. Jo reached out to catch herself against the wall. Only instead of touching the mirrored panels, she went through them.
Copyright © 2014 by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Learn more about or order a copy of Son of No One, available September 2, 2014:
New York Times bestselling author SHERRILYN KENYON is a regular in the #1 spot. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre in which she writes. More than 60 million copies of her books are in print in more than one hundred countries. Her current series include The Dark-Hunters, The League, and Chronicles of Nick. The Chronicles of Nick and Dark-Hunter series are soon to be major motion pictures.