B Mine, Book 3
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
When Lucio Argento is dumped by Amteep High’s most popular girl, he plots revenge in a way he’s certain will crush her. He convinces Jamie Blair – the target of his ex’s bullying – into doing a makeover that will garner enough votes for her to be Prom Queen. What he doesn’t expect is to fall for Jamie, or to become her willing accomplice in uncovering who is behind the spate of deaths of animals in their community. When their classmates begin to die in the most horrific ways, Lucio and Jamie discover dark supernatural forces are at work, and unless they can conjure a miracle, everyone will die at Prom.
Other Books in the B Mine Series:
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Computer nerd, Wes Carpenter, dreads having to spend ten days at summer camp with the rest of his in-coming high school senior class. But when he meets strong-willed and confident farm girl, Linnea Langenkamp, everything about being away at camp improves immediately. When a malicious prank awakens an ancient evil, turning their summer romance into a bloodbath, Wes and Linnea pray they make it home alive while fighting for the survival of their classmates. With Wes’s ingenuity and Linnea’s knowledge of the forest, together they may be able to stop the killer, save the camp, and maybe even find their happily ever after on the way.
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
WHEN THINGS GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT
When Zelda Shaye inherits the infamous Sazerac House, she immediately senses that something’s not right about the ancient mansion. Strange noises interrupt her sleep, the garbage disposal hates her father, and things move on their own. Her cute nerdy neighbor, Tobe Friedkin, confirms her suspicions when he tells her everyone knows the house is haunted and over the years members of the Sazerac family have suffered mysterious deaths until they were nearly wiped out. Zelda is the last female descendant to inherit the legacy, and the family curse. Since her parents don’t believe her, it’s up to her and Tobe, with the help of the crazy recluse down the street, and a cat named DeLorean, to lay the unquiet spirit to rest before it’s too late.
Brittney Shaw allowed Brandon Teller to kiss her as the clock struck midnight. He’d be the perfect candidate to be her king at the prom if only he went to Amteep High instead of Sunnydale Prep. Looking at the glittering throng gathered in the Skeetshue Country Club ballroom, she wondered if she should have asked Daddy to transfer her to Sunnydale. But no, she’d gone to public school with the same classmates since kindergarten, and they’d witnessed her transformation from a dull, stringy-haired, middle-class girl to the rich, beautiful, popular princess she was today. And before graduation, those peers would see her change from a princess to a queen.
Brandon snapped her attention back to the present. “Hey. My parents are still in Cabo. I can have my driver take us to my place if you want to go somewhere where we can…talk alone.” He trailed his fingertips across her collarbone.
“That’s very tempting,” Brittney purred. “But I have a headache. Maybe next time.”
Brandon’s protests chased her as she left the dance floor and had one of the club employees call her driver and bring her fur from the coatroom. The employee brought the luxurious mink and even placed it over her shoulders.
Brandon didn’t take the hint, instead following her out onto the shoveled patio and down the slick flagstone steps. Rock salt crushed under the heels of her red leather Oscar de la Renta shoes as Brittney thought of how easily she could silence him forever if she felt like it.
Once she was delivered home to the gorgeous mansion on Lake Skeetshue that her father had purchased two years ago, Brittney kicked off her shoes and raced up to her room. She only had a few more hours before her parents would return home from the party.
Quickly, she changed out of her puffed-sleeve red chiffon gown and into a ski outfit that was so two years ago. Something she could easily throw away if things got too messy.
After grabbing the suitcase that she kept hidden in the back of her walk-in closet, she went back out into the winter night. Her boots crunched over the frozen snow. Her nose and cheeks stung from the cold, but it couldn’t be helped.
This was the first day of the new year. A time when she had to give thanks for all she’d received the previous year and ensure the fortunes for this one.
The gardener’s shed was unused in the winter, which made this ritual easier. In the summer, she had to store her sacrifices elsewhere.
The animal whimpered when she opened the door but didn’t try to escape. It was too weak for that now. Instead, it allowed itself to be led to the birdbath in the backyard. Brittney set her suitcase on top of the glass-hard ice surface of the marble birdbath and opened it to reveal the tools that had helped her grant her every heart’s desire.
With practiced ease, she withdrew a large dagger and carved a pentagram in the snow around the birdbath. Then she placed red candles at every point and lit them. Opening one of the books she’d stolen from the library three years ago, Brittany chanted the words that summoned her own personal genie.
Scar rose up in front of the birdbath, looking more solid than he had the first time she’d called him forth from the netherworld. Long, sharply pointed horns extended from his large head. His eyes glowed yellow, and his massive jaws were filled with sharp teeth. The animal let out a piteous squeal and tried to flee, but Brittney was used to this part of the ritual. Still gripping the knife she’d used to carve the pentagram, she slit the creature’s throat.
Steaming blood sprayed through the air, glittering in the moonlight. As she’d expected, crimson droplets splattered on her ski suit, more than a stain removal spray could handle. She shrugged. She’d have to burn the outfit.
Brittney extended her hands and chanted the ritual words, “Oh, Scarlionapskhis, scourge of the soulless, most infernal, please accept this blood sacrifice as a token of my gratitude for the favors you’ve bestowed on me, and as a gift in exchange for making me beautiful.”
The demon inclined its head sardonically and fell upon the still-twitching body of the sacrifice.
Brittney used to gag when Scar devoured the animals she’d killed, but after so many years, she was used to the sight and aftermath. Now, she only wiggled her numbing toes in her snow boots, impatient for the ritual to be over with.
When Scar finished dining, he fixed Brittney with yellow glowing eyes. His growling voice sounded like a rabid dog coughing up shards of broken bones. “Do you have a wish you want me to grant?”
“Not tonight.” Brittney did not fall into the trap. She’d quickly learned not to get too greedy with the demon. Not only because it would grow angry with her if she demanded too much too soon, but also because she didn’t want to owe a debt before she was ready to pay it.
Wishes called for careful consideration, cautious wording, meticulous ritual, and a proper sacrifice.
“This night, I gave you this gift, and now allow you to return to your realm in peace.” Brittney then said the guttural words that banished the demon before she blew out the candles. She then lit a sage bundle and trailed the smoke behind her as she kicked snow over the pentagram. After packing her candles and knife away in the suitcase, she hauled the grisly remains of the sacrifice over to the edge of the cliff where the backyard ended and kicked it over where it sank into the black waters of the lake below.
Back inside, she stripped off the bloody clothes and tossed them in the fireplace. The smell of burning nylon wrinkled her nose. She hoped it dissipated before her parents got home.
After a luxurious soak in a hot bubble bath, Brittney changed into a nightgown and settled into her king-size four-poster bed.
Her parents’ drunken laughter carried up from downstairs.
Mother spoke in a fake, Zsa Zsa Gabor wannabe voice she’d been affecting lately. “Can you believe that Cora Neery dared to show her face at the gala tonight? I would have thought that she would be persona non grata after the incident at the charity ball last month. Some people have no sense of class.”
Brittney’s father cleared his throat and spoke in a grating, patronizing tone. “The Neerys have more money than us and are friends with Mr. Hogadane, punkin’. They’ll always be able to behave as they like, unlike us, who weren’t allowed among their ranks before my promotion.”
“Well, I still think she’s a tacky hussy,” Mother sniffed. Daddy must have made some sort of expression of disapproval, for Mother’s voice shifted back to normal. “I am of course grateful for the improvement of our circumstances. You’ve worked so hard for our family.”
They have me to thank, Britney thought furiously. If I hadn’t learned the mysteries of the occult and called forth Scar, Dad would still be a junior at Woodward & Paulson instead of a full partner, and Mother would have been getting her manicured nails dirty working at the jewelry counter at J.C. Penny. We still would have lived in that ugly subdivision on Locust Lane, and the doors of Hogadane’s country club would still be slammed in our faces.
But it wasn’t her parents’ misfortunes and mediocrity that had motivated Brittney to check out that book at the library on casting spells. It was the desire that every fourteen-year-old girl had.
To be pretty.
Brittney still didn’t know if the spells from that first book had actually worked, though just enough things that she wanted had happened and made her think it wasn’t coincidence. Her acne had cleared, and her hair did seem a little thicker, and the other girl competing for a spot on the cheerleading squad had indeed suffered a terrible fall and had broken her ankle. That was enough of an impetus for Brittany to delve further into the occult.
That first book mentioned the possibility of summoning spirits to do one’s bidding, so she looked up books on that. Most were full of useless ghost stories, but one directed her to exactly what the spell book had promised. Only this book referred to the spirits as demons. Brittney had felt one icy shiver prickle the back of her neck before tossing her hair and deciding that it didn’t matter what they were called, only that they gave her what she wanted.
Months of chants, arcane symbols and a pentagram drawn on her bedroom floor beneath her rug, three dead mice and four dead rabbits later, she brought forth Scarlionapskhis for the first time. All the demon’s names were impossible to pronounce, that was the first challenge in summoning them.
Brittney called her demon “Scar” for short but learned quickly that demons did not appreciate nicknames.
The first wish Scar granted was for her dad to have enough money to buy a new wardrobe from the J.Crew and Esprit catalogs she and her friends pored over. That wish was granted when one of the partners of Woodward & Paulson Law Firm committed suicide, and her father was made into a full partner.
The wardrobe got Brittney a foot in the door with the A crowd at school, but since the queen bees, Heather Price and Jennifer Armstrong, were part of the country club set, Brittney’s family had to be as well.
That wish was granted when her grandmother died shortly after visiting, leaving Brittney’s mother a small fortune, and around the same time, her father landed a prestigious client, gaining the Shaws their coveted invitation to Hogadane’s country club.
Wayne Hogadane was the richest man in Amteep, maybe even the entire northwest. He owned the most prestigious country club, two giant lake cruise boats, the Amteep Resort, the Amteep Press, and, some said, the entire town. Becoming part of Hogadane’s social sphere guaranteed high social status.
Brittney never returned the library books. She couldn’t stand the idea of someone else gaining the power she had. Besides, she reasoned, if these books fell into the wrong hands, good people could be hurt. Demons demanded sacrifices. And while Brittney only offered up creatures that wouldn’t be missed and people who were bad, like her father’s mistress, someone else might not be so discerning.
The return to school after Christmas break had Brittney energized. She’d spent an invigorating morning at cheerleading practice in the gym, demonstrating that extra edge of agility that Scar had given her, and examining the loyalty of her friends who’d been away for the break, making sure there were no cracks in their devotion to her as their leader.
After practice, she showered and changed into one of the new outfits she got for Christmas, an oversize, off-the-shoulder cashmere sweater of the palest pink with a large matching hair ribbon, high-waisted acid-washed Guess jeans with rolled-up cuffs, a pink Swatch, and tons of new bangle bracelets. She blow-dried her hair and sprayed it until she had amazing volume.
On the way to first period, her best friend, Heather Price, leaned over and asked, “I heard you dumped Lucio Argento after Christmas.”
Brittney shrugged, trying to ignore the pang of envy at Heather’s new burgundy blazer. “He was beginning to bore me. Men of his breeding simply cannot understand the importance of the finer things in life.”
While Heather nodded in sympathetic understanding of the vast chasm between those who had class and those who didn’t, her other friend, Jennifer Armstrong, stared at her with wide, curious eyes. “Is it true that Lucio’s dad is a mobster?”
She shrugged. “He’s a restaurant owner. I barely saw the man. Besides, if I’d learned the truth, I wouldn’t be alive to tell it, now would I?”
Later, at lunch, Brittney couldn’t fight off a pang of bittersweet regret when she saw Lucio in the cafeteria looking decadently gorgeous with his long black curls, and eyes dark as sin, which perfectly complemented his Mediterranean complexion.
The narrow arching upper lip made him look a little wicked, while his full lower lip promised sensuality. His square jaw and broad shoulders made him look powerful and dangerous. And his large hands… She bit back a sigh, remembering how they felt on her bare skin.
He was fun while he lasted. Her friends had been amusingly awed that she was dating “a bad boy,” and the popular guys had been driven crazy by the fact that Brittney had passed them over in favor of “slumming with a dumb…” She’d never heard so many slurs for Italians in her life until she’d agitated the WASPs’ nest.
Ah, but Lucio had been fantastic in bed and treated her like a queen. Brittney wasn’t so sure that she’d be treated as well when she began dating someone who was her social equal. And being with him was hardly slumming.
Lucio’s father owned Bava’s, one of the fanciest restaurants in town, and if Mr. Argento really was a member of a crime family, then he and his son weren’t poor. Hell, Lucio drove a Trans Am, albeit an older one, and had motorcycle.
But Brittney wanted to be prom queen. Therefore, she needed a worthy king. And no one would vote for an Italian delinquent who’d been held back a year in tenth grade.
Her musings broke as she crashed into Jamie Blair, a friend back in Brittney’s middle-class days, now a pariah who must be avoided at all costs.
Brittney fixed her with a glower. “Watch it, trailer trash.”
Jamie backed away, her black hair falling forward to hide her reddening face. But her light brown eyes flashed a hint of defiance and accusation. “Watch yourself, bimbo,” Jamie’s retort was barely audible as she retreated.
If I hadn’t been staring at Lucio like an idiot, I wouldn’t have bumped into her. I need to focus on finding my king.
But Brittney couldn’t let Jamie’s defiance stand. “Do you want to be dumped into a trash can again?” Her friends were dutifully laughing at Jamie’s retreating form.
Brittney noticed the strong arms of Chet Morgan wrapped around Heather Price’s waist. Now there was an excellent candidate.
His sun-bleached hair and tanned skin attested to a Christmas vacation spent in a warm paradise. His eyes were the color of aquamarines, shining nearly as bright as his perfectly white, straight teeth. His shoulders were broader than Lucio’s, and since Chet was quarterback of the Amteep Devils, he was also more muscular.
And he was definitely more fashionable, looking like he stepped out of the latest L.L.Bean catalog, with his sandy-blond Ken Doll hair, popped-collar polo shirts, and loose-fit tan slacks.
Yes, Brittney mused as she appraised her best friend’s boyfriend. Chet would be a perfect prom king. A lot of people would vote for him because he’s the quarterback. He should be with me anyway since I’m head cheerleader.
She closed her eyes and pictured him being crowned beside her. It should be easy enough to snare him, either with her charms or with magic if she needed to.
And if Heather decides to get in my way, I can get rid of her. The demon likes human flesh better than cats or dogs anyway.
About the Author
Formerly an auto-mechanic, Brooklyn Ann thrives on writing romance featuring unconventional heroines and heroes who adore them. Author of historical paranormal romance in her critically acclaimed “Scandals with Bite” series, urban fantasy in the cult favorite, “Brides of Prophecy” novels, and the award winning, “Hearts of Metal Series, she’s now writing the “B Mine” series, horror romances riffing on the 1970s and 1980s horror movies.
She lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with her gamer son, rockstar/IT Guy boyfriend, and four cats.