Authors: Alexandra Adornetto
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #General
FOR EVERYONE WHO’S BEEN TO HELL AND BACK
Table of Contents
The Kids Are All Right
Crossing the Line
Highway to Hell
Welcome to My World
Lake of Dreams
Speak of the Devil
Can You Keep a Secret?
Get Thee to a Nunnery
See No Evil, Hear No Evil
He Loves Me Not
Misery Loves Company
Deal with the Devil
The Sword of Michael
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,
Son of the morning!
The Devil went down to Georgia, he was
lookin’ for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind, ‘cos he was way behind;
he was willin’ to make a deal.
“Devil Went Down to Georgia”
The Kids Are All Right
WHEN the final bel sounded at Bryce Hamilton, Xavier and
I gathered our things and headed out onto the south lawn.
The weather forecast had predicted a clear afternoon, but
the sun was fighting an uphil battle and the sky remained a
cheerless, gunmetal gray. Occasional y the watery sunlight
broke through and fingers of light danced across the
grounds, warming the back of my neck.
“Are you coming over for dinner tonight?” I asked Xavier,
linking my arm through his. “Gabriel wants to try making
Xavier looked across at me and laughed.
“I’m just thinking,” he said. “How come in al the paintings,
angels are depicted guarding thrones in Heaven or taking
out demons? I wonder why they’re never shown in the
kitchen making burritos.”
“Because we have a reputation to uphold,” I said,
nudging him. “So are you coming?”
“Can’t.” Xavier sighed. “I promised my kid sister I’d stay
home and carve pumpkins.”
“Shoot. I keep forgetting about Hal oween.”
“You should try and get into the spirit of it,” Xavier said.
“Everyone around here takes it very seriously.”
I knew he wasn’t exaggerating; jack-o’-lanterns and
plaster headstones already adorned every front porch in
town in honor of the occasion.
“I know,” I said. “But the whole idea creeps me out. Why
would anyone want to dress up as ghosts and zombies? It’s
like everyone’s worst nightmares coming to life.”
“Beth.” Xavier stopped walking and took hold of my
shoulders. “It’s a holiday, lighten up!”
He was right. I needed to stop being so wary. It was six
months now since the ordeal with Jake Thorn and things
couldn’t have been better. Peace had returned to Venus
Cove and I’d grown more attached to the place than ever.
Nestled on the picturesque Georgia coastline, the sleepy
little town in Sherbrooke County had become my home.
With its pretty balconies and ornate shopfronts, Main Street
was so quaint it could have been an image on a postcard.
In fact, everything from the cinema to the old courthouse
exuded the Southern charm and gentility of a long-forgotten
Over the past year the influence of my family had spread
and transformed Venus Cove into a model town. The
church congregation had tripled in numbers, charity
missions had more volunteers than they could handle, and
reported incidents of crime were so few and far between
that the sheriff was forced to find other things to occupy his
time. Nowadays the only disputes that happened were
minor, like drivers arguing over who saw a parking space
first. But that was just human nature. It couldn’t be changed
and it wasn’t our job to try and change it.
But the best development of al was that Xavier and I had
grown even closer. I looked across at him. He was just as
breathtakingly beautiful as ever. His tie hung loose and his
blazer was slung casual y over one shoulder. I could feel his
taut body occasional y brushing against mine as we walked
side by side, our footsteps fal ing in time. Sometimes it was
easy to think of us as one entity.
Since the violent encounter with Jake last year, Xavier
had hit the gym even harder and thrown himself into sports
more vigorously. I knew he was doing it so he’d be better
equipped to protect me, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy
the perks. Xavier had more definition in his chest and
washboard abs. He was stil slender and perfectly
proportioned, but I could see the muscles in his arms
rippling beneath the fine cotton of his shirt. I looked up at
his refined features: his straight nose, high cheekbones,
and ful lips. In the light of the sun, his walnut-colored hair
was streaked with gold and his almond-shaped eyes were
like liquid blue topaz. On his ring finger he now wore the gift
I’d given him after he had helped me recover from Jake’s
attack. It was a thick silver band etched with three symbols
of faith: a five-point star to represent the star of Bethlehem;
a trefoil to honor the three persons of the Holy Trinity; and
the initials IHS, an abbreviation of
, the way Christ’s
name was spel ed in the Middle Ages. I’d had an identical
one made for me and I liked to think they were our special
version of a promise ring. Another person who’d witnessed
as much as Xavier had might have lost al faith in Our
Father, but Xavier had strength of mind and spirit. He’d
made a commitment to us and I knew that nothing could
persuade him to break it.
My train of thought was broken when we bumped into a
group of Xavier’s friends from the water-polo team in the
parking lot. I knew some of them by name and caught the
tail end of their conversation.
“I can’t believe Wilson hooked up with Kay Bentley,” a
boy named Lawson snickered. He was stil bleary-eyed
from whatever misadventure had taken place over the
weekend. I knew from experience it probably involved a
keg and wil ful damage to property.
“It’s his funeral,” someone muttered. “Everyone knows
she’s done more miles than my dad’s vintage Chrysler.”
“I don’t care so long as it wasn’t on my bed. I’d have to
“Don’t worry, man, pretty sure they were out on the back
“I was so wasted, I don’t remember a damn thing,”
“I remember you tried to hook up with me,” replied a boy
named Wesley in his lilting accent. He contorted his face
into a grimace.
“Whatever … it was dark. You could do a lot worse.”
“Not funny,” Wesley growled. “Someone posted a picture
on Facebook. What am I gonna tel Jess?”
“Tel her you couldn’t resist Lawson’s ripped body.”
Xavier thumped his friend on the back as he sauntered
past. “He’s real y built from al those hours on the
I laughed as Xavier pul ed open the door of his sky blue
Chevy Bel Air convertible. I climbed in, stretched out, and
breathed in the familiar smel of the leather seats. I loved
the car almost as much as Xavier did now. It had been with
us from the very beginning, from our first date at
Sweethearts Cafe to the showdown with Jake Thorn at the
cemetery. Though I’d never admit it, I’d come to think of the
Chevy as having a personality of its own. Xavier turned the
key in the ignition and the car roared to life. They seemed
to move in sync—as if they were attuned to each other.
“So have you come up with a costume yet?”
“For what?” I asked blankly.
Xavier shook his head. “For Hal oween. Try to keep up!”
“Not yet,” I admitted. “I’m stil working on it. What about
“How do you feel about Batman?” Xavier asked with a
wink. “I’ve always wanted to be a superhero.”
“You just want to pretend you drive a Batmobile.”
Xavier gave a guilty smile. “Damn it! You know me too
When we reached number 15 Byron Street, Xavier
leaned across and pressed his lips against mine. His kiss
was soft and sweet. I felt the outside world fal away as I
melted into him. His skin was smooth beneath my fingers
and his scent, fresh and clean as ocean air, enveloped me.
It was mingled with a touch of something stronger—like
vanil a and sandalwood combined. I kept one of Xavier’s T-