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Authors: Jennifer Laurens

Absolution

Absolution

by Jennifer Laurens

Grove Creek Publishing

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments or locales is purely coincidental.

A Grove Creek Publishing Book

ABSOLUTION

Grove Creek Publishing / October 2010

All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2010 by Katherine Mardesich

This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

For further information:

Grove Creek Publishing, LLC

1404 West State Road, Suite 202

Pleasant Grove, Ut 84062

Cover: Sapphire Designs

http://designs.sapphiredreams.org/

Book Design: Julia Lloyd, Nature Walk Design

ISBN: 1-933963-82-2

$13.95

Printed in the United States of America

For Rebekah

Absolution

- book three -

Chapter one

____________________


What the hell do you want
?” The man boomed from the doorway.

I was unable to squeak out a sound, much less answer his question.

Black spirits slithered like snakes up his shoulders, wrapping around his neck and gut, winding down between his legs, covering his gray suit. I’d seen evil before, been so close darkness had almost submerged me, but this infestation was acute. My body trembled. I broke out in an icy sweat.

“Is Krissy here?” Thankfully, my friend Chase was by my side.

Thankfully, Chase couldn’t see the evil writhing on Krissy’s father or he’d be speechless. Like me.

The burly man scowled. “She can’t come to the door.”

Chase cleared his throat, pushed up his silver-rimmed glasses. “I respectfully disagree with your statement, sir. Krissy called and told me to come over.”

The rugged skin on Krissy’s father’s face flushed scarlet. “And I’m telling you my daughter is not available.”

“But—”

The door slammed in our faces. We stood in stunned silence staring at the thick, weather-worn wood.

“Wow,” Chase blew out. “He’s not the friendliest guy in the world, is he?”

Now that a slab of wood stood between us and the creepy crawly black spirits harbored on Krissy’s dad, I breathed. My knees still shook. “Yeah.”

“What should we do?”

Though part of me wanted to flee, the part of me that cared about my new friend Krissy—timid, quiet Krissy—didn’t want to leave without making sure she was all right.

“Maybe she’s waiting for us.” I started around the circular structure—the only house I’d ever seen that was round. The shape made the house nearly as odd as its occupants.

“Her dad will have us arrested for trespassing, Zoe. The last thing I need is another run in with the cops after that party.”

“That’s probably the reason he doesn’t want us talking to her. She’s in serious trouble after what happened to Brady.”

“True.” Chase stood back, his gaze sweeping the exterior of the odd-shaped house. “But the likelihood of her going to jail is zero. I mean, she had a party at her parents’ house while they weren’t home. That’s not grounds for incarceration.”

Chase was a
Law and Order, CSI
—crime show—geek. I had no doubt he’d already staked a gamble on the outcome of the fateful events at Krissy’s party.

“Brady hung himself at the party,” I added. “And died.”

“Still, it was an accident.” Chase’s concerned scan swept the house. “We should do
something
.”

“I agree, but what?”

“I don’t know.”

“She
did
call you, right?” I glanced at him, two hesitant feet behind me as I continued around the perimeter of the house. “Right?” Hopefully, this wasn’t some scheme of Chase’s to hang out with me. He knew we were just friends. He knew my heart belonged to Matthias and my life, at this moment in time, was caught up in Weston.

“Yes, she called.” Halfway around the building his stride matched mine.

I stopped and stared at the windows. All were covered with white pull-down shades. No sign of anyone peeking out from behind them. “What did she say,
exactly
?” I asked him, my eyes going from one window to the next.

“She said, ‘I need to talk to you. Can you come over?’”

My gaze shot to Chase. “She didn’t ask for me?”

He lowered his large brown eyes.

“Are you serious? Chase, that was a girl being a girl. ‘I need to talk to you’ means come over, I want to hang out. It means, I think you’re a hottie. It means pay attention to me.”

Chase’s Adam’s apple bobbed. “It does?”

I stormed back the way I came. He followed.

“I’m sorry. After the funeral, I thought she was in trouble. She sounded scared on the phone.”

Brady’s funeral had only been hours ago. The image of Albert and Brady’s spirits there, Brady’s wicked soul stirring his mother’s anger into the vengeful act that influenced her to pull out a gun and shoot at Weston still hung in my mind. My brain replayed Brady’s vengeful words,
‘You always had
to be number one!’
A hiss from the other side of the grave that only I had been able to hear, stung my spine. The piercing anger on Mrs. Wilcox’s face as she’d locked her ruthless gaze on Weston and pointed the weapon and pulled the trigger. That’s when I’d stepped in front of him. Not thinking about myself.

Gut reaction. Matthias appeared. Glorious, powerful, Matthias. He’d lifted his hand, caught the bullet in his palm and the shell disintegrated on contact.

Pandemonium had broken out.

When I’d finally left the cemetery, Brady’s casket still straddled the open grave. I shuddered, a lonely ache rambling through me. Was there peace for the wicked?

I clicked the remote key for Mom’s burgundy minivan and the doors unlocked. Chase stayed at my back.

“You really are going to leave?” he asked.

I opened the driver’s side door. “Of course. I’d look like a retard crashing what Krissy probably hoped would
become
a date.”

“A date? After today?” Chase’s brows arched. “Do girls want to go on dates after a friend’s funeral?”

“Some girls.” I was reminded that just because Krissy and I shared a class and had chatted a few times, I didn’t know her very well. Her social about face last week at the party had inadvertently contributed to Brady’s death. At the funeral, she’d appeared eaten alive by guilt.

“What if she needs help? You saw her dad.”

“Just because her dad is Mr. Rottweiler doesn’t mean that he has anything to do with Krissy not coming to the door.” In my heart, I doubted my own words. After seeing the evil crawling all over Krissy’s father, I was certain the man had everything to do with why Krissy hadn’t shown.

Chase gripped the door with urgency. “Maybe we should go to Starbucks and… figure it out.”

Chase was clueless about girls. Most of the time his naiveté was endearing. Other times, like now, it bordered on annoying. But the hopeful grin on his face nudged aside my exasperation. And I could use the relaxing sauna of scent Starbucks offered. I glanced back over my shoulder at the round house.

Was Krissy okay? Foreboding roved inside of me, even though I tried to push it aside.

The front door opened. Her father appeared, looking every bit as angry as when he’d stormed across the snow-covered grass of the cemetery to retrieve Krissy from Brady’s funeral. Now, he advanced like a grizzly ready to attack.

“Where is she?” he demanded.

As he neared, the ground beneath my feet trembled, shooting fear up my legs and throughout my body. Black spirits spun around his head, twisted and slithered along his limbs and when he opened his mouth, a flock of the translucent creatures flew out, joining the others congregated on his body in a disgusting celebratory display.

“Where is she?” He brought himself to the minivan and peered through the glass of the backseat. “Krissy!” He slid open the side door, dipped inside.

“Krissy!”

My heart pounded out of control.

“She’s not here.” Chase sped around the front of the minivan and halted at the front passenger door, keeping a three-foot distance from Krissy’s dad.

“And it’s not okay for you to search somebody’s car without their permission.”

Krissy’s dad’s spun around, his eyes bulging. “I’ll damned well search what I want when my daughter is missing.” He took off to Chase’s car and tried the door. Locked. He glared at us, then crossed back to the minivan and pounded his fists on the windows as he peered through the tinted glass.

“Krissy!”

“She’s not here, sir. We came looking for her, remember?” Chase said.

I glanced around for Matthias. Nothing. As bad as this guy was, I obviously wasn’t in mortal peril, or Matthias would be here.

Krissy’s dad seethed. His slit eyes fastened to me and he marched my direction, stopping too close. The infestation of black spirits so overwhelming now, I could barely see through them to his face.

My mouth opened but no sound came. Chase inched close to me, his face tight as his gaze stayed with mine.

“If I find her anywhere near either of you, or that you’re lying to me, I’ll contact the police.”

Chase snorted. “And tell them what? ‘My daughter was hanging out with some of her friends, arrest them?’ That’s not going to hold up.”

The man slid his furious glare to Chase. “Kidnapping will hold up.”

Chase laughed. I couldn’t believe his nerve. But then, he couldn’t see the wild evil jumping, gnashing and screaming in silent pleasure on the man’s body. “Let’s go, Zoe.” He took my elbow and led me around the hood of the minivan to the open driver’s side door.

Krissy’s dad marched across the front lawn, through his open front door and slammed it behind him.

“What a psycho,” Chase mumbled.

I got inside the car, my hands shaking as I reached for the steering wheel.

“That was the worst case of black spirits I’ve ever seen,” I muttered through a shudder.

Chase looked at the closed door of the house. “Really? Worse than what you saw at the funeral?”

I nodded, swallowed. “There wasn’t an inch of his body that wasn’t…

infected.” I shook my head, shuddered. “Disgusting.”

“The man’s obviously got an anger issue.”

“He’s got more than anger issues.” I was certain now that whatever plagued Krissy probably met my previous assumptions of some kind of abuse.

I was more determined to find her and help her. I hoped, wherever she was, her guardian was by her side.

“You gonna be okay?” Chase’s voice softened, his gaze flicking from my hands to my eyes. “Want me to drive you home?”

“And leave your car here for that weirdo to destroy?” I shook my head.

“I’ll be fine. Take your car and get out of here.”

“Yeah, good idea.” Chase studied me a moment. “You sure you don’t want me to follow you or something? Non-stalkerish, I promise.”

I smiled, took a deep breath and tried to erase the vision of Krissy’s dad covered from head to toe with evil from my mind. “That’s okay. Let me know if you hear from Krissy.”

“You do the same,” he said. “I can’t imagine where she’d go.”

“Yeah.”

Silence.

My heart tore for Krissy. Where was she? She had one outfit she wore: her maternity-style denim jumper with that white long-sleeved tee shirt and her ankle boots. And one retro camel coat.

I hoped she wasn’t pregnant… that was unthinkable.

“I gotta run,” I said, hoping to find her somewhere. “Call me if you find her.”

“I will. You too.” Chase shut my door and stood back. I sent him a wave and drove, my gaze scanning the streets. If she’d only called Chase a few minutes ago, and she’d made the phone call from home, she might not be that far. I tried her cell phone on the off chance she had it with her, but I only got the stock phone carrier answering message.

Night’s darkness swallowed the sky now, and white flakes began to fall.

Krissy. Out alone. I said a silent prayer in my heart that she’d be okay.

I drove around Pleasant Grove for an hour, up and down Grovecreek Drive, winding street after street. I even stopped at the high school, got out and jogged the open perimeter of the campus, calling for her on the off-chance she’d think to hide out there. My voice echoed back. A creepy shudder iced my spine. Part of the school remained locked behind a chain link fence. No way was I going to climb over and search for her.

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