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Publisher Adrian Lilly
eBook Kindle Edition
Seventeen-year-old Julie Collins has moved to an isolated new world that is as haunting as it is beautiful. She and her mother are spending their final days with Julie’s father as he dies of cancer in his boyhood home.
But someone else walks the halls of the old mansion, the ghost of a teenage boy. He appears to Julie and shows her a vision of a ceremony…and a sacrifice.
And suddenly, Julie is trapped in a century-old demonic ritual—and only she can stop it.
Prologue: 20 Years Earlier
Like shadows stretching long on an autumn evening, haunting visions had encroached on Miranda since the day she set foot in the old Victorian mansion. The oppression of the house settled on her like the dust and dank smell that loomed in the many corridors and alcoves. Each day the visions grew stronger, darker, until only the shadows remained, until the shadows were all she believed. The life she had known grew distant like a friend in a rearview mirror.
Curled in a ball on her bed, Miranda rocked herself, tears squeezing past her clenched eyelids. Her face pinched in resolution. She was prepared to obey the vision she had seen: the boy who walked in flames without burning.
She had seen him many times; from the flames he had beckoned to her. The fire that surrounded him snaked out to engulf her. He first appeared to her in the forbidden, burned library, and she fainted. When she awoke, she lay on the floor, panting and sweating and smeared with char from the darkened floor. The sound of his cries lingered in her ears.
And the cries of the many faces she saw spiraling in the flame.
Miranda clenched her fists as her body shivered. So many faces, so many cries for help. But could she do it? She wondered. Could she do what they told her to do?
The floorboards outside her bedroom door creaked. Her eyes bolted open as she listened to her parents in the hallway. Their whispers echoed in the house, their voices like the dry and brittle pages from an ancient text. She kneaded her fingers into the sheets, balling the sheets beneath her as she listened to their labored breathing and methodical pacing.
She would do just as the burning boy had instructed her. Miranda flung her legs over the edge of the bed and laced her high top sneakers all the way up her ankles. She knew she would spend much of the night running. She rose from the bed—flinching as the floor creaked—then proceeded to the large wardrobe against the wall. Miranda dug in her jeans pocket and removed a skeleton key.
Just as the boy instructed her, Miranda placed the key in a drawer and pushed it shut. She rested her head against the wardrobe and sat in silence, her hands folded against her closed lips. Miranda turned her eyes to the window. Night was falling. The trees traced a dark silhouette, their dead leaves clinging like shipwreck survivors in a black sea. The distant edge of the horizon burned red and yellow in the fading light.
Miranda reached under her bed and grabbed the claw hammer she had hidden there. Hefting the weight in her hand, Miranda struck the air a few times at head level. Yes, this would work…wouldn’t it? Eyes closed, Miranda focused, trying to block out the voices that echoed to her across time. She needed no distractions. She knew what she must do.
Tonight, she had to kill her parents.
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Adrian Lilly is the author of The Devil You Know and Red Haze. He is a fan of Gothic suspense movies and novels, which greatly influence his writing. Adrian's writing focuses on strong character development and the nuances of fear that build toward horror. The mansion in his first novel, The Devil You Know, was inspired by houses in the Victorian neighborhood where he lives.