Authors: Logan Patricks
The Midnight Society: Book Three
Strange Crow Publications
THE MIDNIGHT SOCIETY SERIES
SEMBLANCE: BOOK ONE
With over 150 Five Star Reviews
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Whoever said money couldn’t buy happiness has never starved a day in their lives.
My name is Aria Valencia, a third year classical music student at the university, and I was down to my last dollar. Some nights, I seriously considered working at the rippers just to make ends meet, but the thought of my dad’s spirit--God rest his soul--scowling at me while I danced up on some drooling degenerate was enough to turn me off the idea completely.
And then one night, chance came knocking on my door under the guise of the Midnight Society; a secret cabal comprised of the wealthiest souls this side of the Universe. Their leader was a man named Shadow, who was equally enigmatic as he was gorgeous, and for some mystifying reason, had his dark brooding eyes focused on me.
Seduced by the promises of fame and fortune in exchange for a seemingly innocent request, I soon found myself drawn into a provocative world filled with both vast riches and unending lies and it didn’t take long for me to realize what being a part of the Midnight Society actually entailed: shiny things, sensual romance, and dead bodies.
Falling in love with Shadow came with a terrible price, one that I wasn’t willing to pay. There’s a dark side to every love story, and this one was mine.
PENUMBRA: BOOK TWO
Continuing the bestselling Romance Mystery series.
My name is Aria Valencia, and in one night, I lost everything: my hopes and dreams, my best friend, and Shadow’s heart. He told me he loved me but that was just a lie.
The Midnight Society has fallen, reduced to ashes by a monster; someone whom we all once trusted. The betrayal has shattered our lives forever and Shadow, lord of the Midnight Society, finds himself at a crossroad.
One road leads him further down the path of vengeance, filled with unending violence and dead bodies. The other road leads to me. However, our path to happiness is paved with broken glass and razorblades, and at some point, one of us was going to fall.
Welcome to the world of the Midnight Society.
There was no remorse in Isadora’s words.
“Are you ready to die?”
Sunlight pierced through the tall oak trees of the forest, light reflecting off the silver knife in her hands. Isadora pointed it straight at my heart.
“No,” I stated. I clung onto my own blade tightly, sweat beading down my forehead. I was out of breath and tired. The chase had drained me.
There was a moment where I thought I had lost her within the dense cluster of trees, but the damned witch still found me. I suspected she was half bloodhound.
Isadora emerged from the foliage while I was still catching my breath—an apparition of both beauty and terror.
My heart beat like war drums as she stalked me with the grace and ferocity of a panther.
I rose from my resting spot. Flight didn’t seem to be working out for me, which left me with only one other option: fight.
“Prove to me that you still want to live then,” Isadora said, her lips forming a thin smile. Before I could say anything, she was already on me, the knife slashing through the air, aimed straight at my head.
I spun out of the way, my movement fluid yet strong.
Over the past couple of weeks I had put my body through the ringer, pushing its limits with each grueling workout session in Shadow’s gym. I suppose dodging knife attacks was a good way as any in gauging how far I’ve come in my training.
Isadora came at me again, her knife slashing at me ferociously. She was determined to draw blood.
There was no way I’d let her. I telegraphed her movements, dodging all her strikes, while waiting for an opening where I could counter with my own blade.
That moment never came. I was too focused on avoiding her attacks that I failed to notice she had backed me against a large oak tree.
I was trapped.
“Dead,” Isadora whispered.
“Screw that,” I cried as I lunged at her with my knife. It was an act of desperation, but I had no other choice.
Isadora was fast. In one swift motion, she caught my arm in between her armpit, taking me off balance, and swept my legs out from under me. Her knife immediately went to my throat.
I felt the coldness of its edge pressed against my skin. I shuddered as the knife slid across the length of my neck.
“Now you are dead,” Isadora said.
I sighed as I loosened the grip on my own knife and stared up into the sky.
“Yes, now I am dead,” I agreed.
Isadora lifted herself off of me and took a seat on the forest floor, dropping the dull-edged knife onto the ground.
“Your movements are faster. It’s become hard to hit you just by normal attacks alone,” she encouraged.
I sat up. “You still got me.”
“Be aware of your surroundings. The environment you’re in can be a greater weapon than the one you hold in your hands.”
I nodded. “So if you had to grade me between ‘helpless damsel in distress’ to ‘deadly ninja assassin’, where would I rank?”
Isadora thought about it for a moment. “One step above petty street thug.”
“Geez, that bad? I thought I would have made it to ‘samurai-in-training’ at least.”
“Perhaps if you had landed a blow on me.”
I pursed my lips. “Tomorrow,” I said. “For sure I’ll get you tomorrow.”
Isadora smiled. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you did.”
We both sat in silence underneath the canopy of old oak branches and emerald leaves. It was peaceful here in comparison to the chaos out there.
I wiped sweat off my brow and looked at Isadora—a gorgeous island goddess—thoughtfully. “You find me every freaking time. Even with a ten minute head start, you tracked me down. Seriously, how do you do it?”
Isadora shrugged. “I have help. Delilah follows you and I listen to her whispers.”
Delilah was Isadora’s wife, murdered on their wedding day. Though I still had my skepticism when it came to ghosts, Isadora didn’t. Ever since Delilah’s death, I’d catch Isadora having conversations with empty spaces and dark shadows, supposedly chatting with her deceased lover.
One time, she caught me off guard while I was in the kitchen of Shadow’s mansion, making myself a sandwich.
I was in the middle of spreading a healthy glob of mayo over a slice of smoked chicken breast.
“It’s not enough,” Isadora had said, while sitting at the dining room table, sipping her coffee. “It’ll never be enough.”
I looked at my sandwich. “Huh? More mayo then?”
Isadora stared at me, puzzled, before replying, “Mayo is bad for you, girl. It’s a mixture of lard and egg yolk.”
“You just told me it wasn’t enough.”
She proceeded to look at me as if
were the one that was crazy. “I was talking to Delilah.”
But if there were such thing as ghosts, spirits, and all other spooky things that went bump in the night, without a doubt, Isadora was the one who’d speak to them.
After the subconscious journey of self-discovery I had with her, it made me realize there were things hidden beneath the fabric of this world, things that simply couldn’t be explained through logic and reasoning.
Still, the idea of having a ghost following me around the woods rattled my bones, no matter how friendly they were.
“Is Delilah still here?” I asked.
That was a relief.
“She never liked crowded places,” Isadora added.
“Crowded places? It’s just the two of us here.”
She shook her head. “The spirits in this forest are noisy and miserable. There are plenty of them.”
I shuddered. Forget goosebumps, my skin was growing dinosaur balls.
“People come to this forest to die,” Isadora stated.
She nodded. “It all started with one girl who had decided to take her own life, just by the brook over there,” Isadora pointed. “She slit her wrists and allowed her blood to flow into the stream.”
“Two weeks later, a boy decided to follow in her footsteps. He too entered into this forest and took his own life, overdosing on heroin.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked. “I never heard these stories in the newspapers.”
“The media doesn’t report suicides in the papers. They fear it will inspire others to do the same. But stories, especially ones meant to be kept secret spread like wildfire. These woods became folklore. Many come here seeking thrills hoping to catch a glimpse of spirits. Tragically, there are also a handful of misguided individuals who come here to take their own lives, feeling that their existence no longer has any purpose. They want to add to the myth surrounding this place—Moral City’s suicide forest.”
“I don’t understand. Why waste your life like that?” I said. Even after Justin, my best and only friend, was murdered and Shadow had turned into an eclipse-sized asshole, never once did I have the urge to take that plunge into the afterlife.
I decided to become whiny instead and do questionable things such as getting fingered by the love of my life’s best friend.
I sighed. There wasn’t a minute that went by where I didn’t regret what transpired between Lincoln and I. I threw away a piece of my soul and Shadow’s trust—should he ever find out—in a moment of weakness.
It certainly wasn’t the right way to go about things but it was still better than cutting myself.
“Can I be honest with you, Aria?” Isadora asked.
I nodded. “There’s nothing I appreciate more than honesty.”
Isadora smiled, sadly, and for a moment I thought I saw a glimpse of vulnerability in her eyes. “I attempted to take my own life before.”
Her words struck me like a sour note in a Mozart sonata. “What? Was this recently?”
Isadora shook her head. “No. I do admit there are nights where the loneliness is unbearable. It’s hard sleeping alone after you’ve grown accustomed to waking up next to your loved one.”
“So when did this happen and how?”
Isadora leaned back against a rock and looked up at the cloudless, blue sky. She was lost in thought. When she finally spoke, her voice was melancholy. “I lived a life of freedom, up until I was fourteen. It was a happy life filled with the best memories. I often reminisce of sitting on the beach, watching my older brother leap into the ocean with his net, ready to catch another week’s worth of fish. Everything was so perfect back then. Everything was innocent.
“And then they came in the middle of the night with their brass knives and gold teeth. They were the slavers of my island; the Pirates of God, as they called themselves. My brother fought for my freedom and ended up with a bullet between his eyes. I’ll never forget the image of him lying face down in the sand, blood pooling around his head. I had cried and I fought but in the end I wound up in a cage, ready to be sold to the highest bidder aboard a white yacht. The man who bought me was Mr. Friday.”
The infamous Mr. Friday, scourge of the New Orleans underworld, whose reputation as a gangster and a voodoo king made the sturdiest of men’s knees quiver like violin strings. It was only recently that we found out Mr. Friday had died in secrecy a few years ago and Isadora had taken control of his empire, running things while hidden in the cover of darkness.
I was taken aback. “From everything I’ve heard, you and Mr. Friday were close. He was your mentor, almost like a father to you.”
Isadora spat. “Do fathers wake their daughters up in the middle of the night to rape them?”
My jaw dropped. “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
She shook her head. “As twisted as it sounds, I’m thankful for Mr. Friday. Without him, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I was weak then. Now, I will stand toe-to-toe with any man and have their bloody heart beating in my hands when the dust finally settles.”
“But you almost didn’t make it to now,” I stated.
“Yes. I almost didn’t make it,” Isadora agreed. “I’m here now because of Delilah. Two years after Mr. Friday purchased me, he also purchased Delilah from the Pirates of God. In the beginning, she didn’t say a word to me. We both moved about Mr. Friday’s mansion like a pair of zombies, our heads deep within a thick fog, waiting for the next moment when that monster would take us again.”
“Every day I felt more hatred for Mr. Friday and every day I was one step closer to the brink of madness. One night, I finally decided to resist. I had listened to the screaming in the back of my head that told me to fight that fucker, to fight for whatever bit of humanity I had left within me. And so I fought.
“I fought hard, but ultimately I was too weak. Mr. Friday ended up having his way with me but this time he introduced a new element into his sexual repertoire: Violence. He loved the fight and my resistance. He broke me that night, shattering the last of my emotional stability.
“Isadora…” I whispered. “I…I…”
I had nothing to say. What
I say? I could only imagine the horrors of being sexually assaulted repeatedly like Isadora had.
She continued her story. “That night I decided I’d leave this life forever. I tied rocks to the ends of my ankles and made my descent into the bayou, each laborious step taking me further into the dark waters of the afterlife. When my head was completely submerged underwater, I closed my eyes and released my breath, and waited for death to come.
“It never did. Instead, two nimble fingers undid the rocks tied to my feet, and two comforting arms pulled me out of the water and dragged me back to shore. It was Delilah.
“I screamed at her and cussed her out with every profanity in my vocabulary. I wanted to die. Why didn’t she let me die? My words broke her down and she too started crying. ‘I’m sorry,’ she had said as she sank to her knees and buried her face in her hands.
“We were both weak and vulnerable and at that moment, we needed each other more than the air we breathed. Our arms wrapped around each other’s bodies, longing for human comfort that we so desperately needed. We cried into each other’s shoulders while sitting at the edge of the island, bathed in the moonlight.
“Our relationship blossomed from that night forth and it wasn’t long before we became lovers, secretly sneaking off from the house to indulge in our love for one another. Of course, Mr. Friday caught wind of this and called us both to his chambers. At first, we both expected the worst—a savage beating or perhaps he’d kill one of us to teach us a lesson.
“Instead he wanted to watch us make love.”
I tried picturing someone forcing Shadow and I to have sex in front of them, satisfying some sick voyeur fantasy. I shivered. “That must have been hard.”
Isadora shook her head. “For two years, Mr. Friday had violated my body, his touch akin to spider legs, crawling across my skin. There was nothing intimate about the sex we had. Delilah, on the other hand, knew how to please me, finding all the delicate spots on my body that made me tremble with desire. If making love to her while Mr. Friday watched kept him off my body for one night, then it was a gift from the gods.