by Jenn Marie
Series: Intertwined series #2
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Release Daye: July 16th 2017
A previous lifetime. A malevolent curse. A love they can’t live without. Will their past claim them once more? Elizabeth and Adam are about to find out …
Elizabeth and Adam survived the century old curse that nearly claimed the lives of their counterparts, Josephine and Braden, but at what cost?
As the veil between timelines continues to diminish, they yet again find themselves in a race against time to cheat death in the past in order to salvage their futures. But with the curse given form, everything is changing, leaving them vulnerable to new threats. No longer are the dangers of their former lifetime contained to the Jefferson Plantation—a land fraught with peril and where horror reigns every summer between July 20 and August 13.
Until now ...
Having changed the past, history has rewritten itself, extending the last day of the haunting to August 31—their new expiration date. Without the aid of visions, though, Elizabeth and Adam must find a new way to uncover their past, leaving Adam to scour the plantation for clues, while
Elizabeth learns how to access Josephine's subconscious.
Meanwhile, the Callahans—a vengeful family intent on keeping Elizabeth and Adam apart—will stop at nothing to preserve their bloodline and keep the curse from destroying their family. Will their ruthless antics prove tragic once more?
Now more than ever, their love will be tested as Elizabeth and Adam contend with the forces of the curse and fight to save their counterparts in 1905.
Will they overcome the odds stacked against them? Or will the curse claim them for good?
A six-inch blade gleamed in the trick of light, the hilt carved in the shape of two snakes wrapped around each other so that their heads formed an S on either side of the serrated steel.
A deadly weapon for more reasons than one.
First—this blade wasn’t just any blade. This was the very dagger Josephine had plunged into her chest back in 1905. The very blade that had ripped her delicate flesh apart and taken the life that
Braden—I—hadn’t been able to save. The very dagger Josephine had wielded in order to seal the curse that would resurrect us. Save us.
Second—this blade was no longer where it should be. It wasn’t in the depths of an underground tunnel like it had been this morning. It was no longer lodged inside Josephine’s chest like it had been for the past century. The dagger was free—to be wielded, to be taken, to be used against her, but worst of all, to destroy her. Josephine would never forgive herself. She was giving the dagger too much power. Power to strip away the woman Braden had only just begun to reignite. If she did this, he would lose whatever remnants of her fragile spirit he’d managed to stitch back together again. And yet, for all she had sacrificed, he was still powerless to save her. He’d tried.
I’d tried. But it hadn’t been enough. Whatever Braden had done to rescue Josephine from that tunnel had still led to their separation. And now here she was, faced with the only option at her disposal.
I felt it in my fingertips, in the uncontrollable sweep of my hand as I swept the paintbrush over the papered wall of my bedroom. The viper within shivered and undulated, my skin expanding, stretching over my forearm. It sensed everything Josephine was feeling and pushed those thoughts straight to my fingertips where my only choices were to resist—and suffer immense pain as a result—or surrender to the creature within and become one with Josephine’s mind, heart, and soul. Even separated by a lifetime, I felt her inner turmoil like a knife to the gut. She was hurting. She was scared. She was desperate. But as the image before me unraveled, I could see that she was icing over. Becoming numb. Fuck, Josephine, don’t do this.
Sweat dribbled down my forehead, stinging my eyes.
My blood was hot, my body trembling with the effort to stay upright. The viper released me, collapsing me to my knees. I hung my head. I didn’t want to see what I already knew she was thinking. Breathing hard, I lifted my gaze to the wall—to the painting of Josephine.
She sat on the window ledge of her bedroom, her long, wavy hair wild around her shoulders. She was still in her wedding dress. Soaked. Tattered. Her eyes stared straight ahead, which I knew from this angle meant she was either staring at a closed door or at someone standing in it. One knee was drawn to her chest, the dagger’s tip poised upon it, the hilt held loosely between her thumb and forefinger. A calculated movement that promised bloodshed. She was the definition of fierce.
The epitome of destruction. She would harm anyone who stood between her and saving Braden.
The man she loved. The man I used to be.
Black paint ran in swerving rivulets to the floor. I clenched my fists, breathing hard, my shirt drenched against my feverish skin. It was my fault. If I hadn’t hesitated, if I hadn’t second-guessed—I released a sharp breath, furious with myself. Had I listened, none of this would’ve happened.
Josephine wouldn’t be in this position now, and Braden wouldn’t be imprisoned.
Again. I had to fix this.
The rickety drone of the floor fan filled the empty silence that threatened to consume me. It blew the papers at my knees, making me look down. Charcoaled eyes stared up at me. Sad. Volatile.
Beautiful as hell. My body shook with the urge to find Elizabeth—Josephine’s current incarnation—here, now, in 2014. If Josephine planned to do what I suspected, what I sensed, then Elizabeth would be prone to do the same. But maybe that wasn’t true anymore. Elizabeth wasn’t as susceptible to Josephine as she’d once been. Not after today. Not after what she’d done to save us. She was stronger now. But was she stronger than Josephine?
I glanced out the window, at the rippling creek that led to Elizabeth’s home only five doors down. I took an involuntary step toward the door.
I believed in her, goddamn it.
If anyone could stop Josephine, it was Elizabeth.
As I drove one oar into the water, the sound echoing with unnerving loudness, I caught a flicker out of the corner of my eye. My head whipped. I searched the night, the rowboats along the docks.
Nothing. My eyes darted to the nearest lamppost where mosquitos swarmed in a flurry. I felt it before it happened—a slow prickling along the ridges of my spine. Oh, no. No sooner had I thought it than the light winked out, plunging me in semidarkness. I drifted to a coast. A familiar draft of ice-cold air hit me in the face, and I dropped the oars with a gasping shriek.
Rey sat before me, perched on the opposite side of the rowboat, eyes narrowed into slits. Unlike the one and only time I’d seen him before, he was visible from head to toe, his long, spidery legs covered in black slacks. His blue-black hair stuck up in all directions, revealing slightly pointed ears.
And that nose—God, it was disturbing. It started wide between his slitted eyes, tapered down toward a lipless mouth, and vanished seamlessly into his skin. Until this moment, I had no memory of what he looked like. But now, with him leering at me from less than two feet away, the memory of when I’d encountered him in the break room of Tiana’s Boutique resurfaced with blinding clarity.
“Hello, my sweet,” Rey greeted in that shuddery baritone, his face garish in the moonlight. “Have you missed me?” The fact that he was here confirmed it. Adam and I hadn’t stopped the curse. It wasn’t over. Josephine hadn’t finished the chant. Because if she had, Rey wouldn’t be here. Rey was the curse. Defeat the curse—defeat Rey.
“Are you not pleased to see me?” His hands were clasped in his lap, black talons glinting in the pale moon. He sat with one ankle resting on his knee—such a human stance. I wondered if it was intentional, to put me at ease as he’d attempted to do when he’d given himself a name—a very bland, ordinary name for the terrifying creature that he was. It hadn’t worked. He’d only frightened me more by refusing to break contact with me.
He made no move to touch me now. Why?
“Or are you that flummoxed by my reappearance that you’ve forgotten how to speak?” He flashed a toothless grin. I shuddered. His grin was a black hole. No teeth. No tongue. Nothing as far as I could see. And yet he spoke with perfect enunciation.
“Why are you here?” I demanded.
“You know why.”
“Josephine,” I said. “She didn’t finish the chant.” Which, in effect, hadn’t properly sealed the curse. Rey cocked his head, a predatory tilt that made my hands tremble harder. I wished I hadn’t dropped the oars, if only to have something to whack him with.
“Is that what you think? That Josephine is to blame?”
My insides ran cold.
“Sweet Elizabeth,” his heady scent washed over me, bitter, yet floral, like dead roses, “I’m afraid you’re in for a rude awakening.” And with a suddenness that shocked me, Rey clamped his fingers around my wrist, yanking me into nothingness. I no longer felt the boat beneath my feet nor heard the sprightly sound of locusts. Suddenly, the world careened into view and I was standing in the very spot I’d last seen Adam before a bullet had ripped through my back. I blinked, momentarily stunned by the scene before me. I was back at the Jefferson Plantation. Rain hung in frozen droplets all around, millions of tear-shaped beads suspended in midair. In fact, everything was frozen. The trees. The wind. The water. Not a sound. Not a peep of thunder. The hurricane was in full effect. I could tell by the slanted rain, the wildness of the trees, the heaving river beyond, the waves half crested in a violent spray, the clouds above lit with lightning. And yet it was as if someone had hit the pause button on the single most frightening moment of my life. Because twenty feet ahead of me was Adam.
With a gun pointed to his head.
Ten feet in front of me, Elizabeth stood with absolute hatred in her eyes. She looked at me like I was the devil incarnate. Like the knife in her hand was a dart and I was the bullseye. I hadn’t felt her get up. It was three in the morning. What the hell was she doing up? But then I remembered—3 a.m.—the time screaming and shuffling was to occur. Christ. I hadn’t meant to fall asleep. Forty seconds ago, I’d been dead to the world, Elizabeth safe in my arms. Now? I was battling the urge to sketch whatever was responsible for Josephine’s distress, while at the same time struggling to understand what the hell was happening to Elizabeth. Was she sleepwalking? This wasn’t normal. She’d never sleepwalked before.
I raised my hand, fingers trembling with the effort not to sketch, my skin undulating in protest when I ignored the snake now slithering down my arm. “Elizabeth,” I said calmly, “put the knife down.”
She simply stared at me, murder in her eyes as she watched my every movement. My blood ran cold. I knew this look. My eyes flicked to the wall, to the painting of Josephine. Christ. This had happened before—on a pier at Wrightsville Beach when Elizabeth had thrown herself in the ocean and nearly drowned. Because of Josephine. Because she’d tried to drown herself on that very day, at that very second in 1905.
This wasn’t Elizabeth in front of me. It was Josephine.
“Elizabeth,” I tried again, paper crinkling under my feet as I took a step toward her, “if you can hear me, I need you to fight.” She watched me, stock-still. “You have to push through. You have to reach her.” Her arm was shaking, her hair matted against her pale cheeks. “That’s it,” I murmured, easing toward her. “Focus on my voice. I’m right here.” The blaze in her eyes dimmed, but she didn’t lower the knife. Frustration entered her features. She was in there somewhere, battling her way back to me. “You can do this, Elizabeth. You can stop her.”
Closing my hand around her wrist, I very gently, very slowly, removed the knife from her grip. “That’s my girl,” I whispered softly, cupping her feverish cheek. A flicker in those forest-green depths. “Elizabeth?” Pure revulsion overtook her gaze.
A split second later, her body jerked and she went flying across the room.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenn Marie currently lives in sunny California with her wonderful husband and their runt kitty, Chloe. When she's not writing Young Adult Fiction, she can be found reading, plotting or spending time with her crazy, lovable family. Current obsessions include the movie, Frozen, the New Girl series, Arcade Fire's latest album, and avocados. Seriously, she can't get enough of it! Writing, for her, is a passion that refuses to be under prioritized. No matter what's going on in her life, whether good or bad, writing is always there to lift her spirits.