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Hellfire: Hellbound Series Book 3

Hellfire: Hellbound Series Book 3

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A demonic shadow hangs over a secluded town…

High up in the fog-shrouded mountains, a secluded resort has been infested by the ultimate evil. A powerful demonic entity has claimed a teenage girl as its lover. And its tendrils of corruption stretch through the town, infecting the icy ground with its foul taint.

Wren, Lark, and Shrike Rose make their way to this luxurious resort, intent on stopping the demon’s reign of terror. But what they find is far worse than anything they have faced before. For this dark power has no interest in possessing human bodies. It wants to breed. And the local teenagers have become unwitting hosts for a legion of demonic embryos…

As the trio struggles to expose the deadly forces lurking in the town, they are joined by a coven of modern witches, a retired police officer, and a sympathetic FBI agent. But will their combined forces be enough to hold off the supernatural onslaught looming on the horizon?

Or will a terrible sacrifice be required to claim victory in the final battle?

215 pages

Chapter 3

Wren glared over the rim of his prescription sunglasses. Across the small table, Stephen finally stopped drumming his fingers.

Shrike snorted.

“So, just to clarify,” Barsotti said in a lazy tone, “tapping is irritating. Lark coating case files in cinnamon sugar, completely fine.”

All three siblings replied instantly.

“Yes,” Shrike said.

“She can’t control the wind,” Wren said.

“It’s not my fault they coated everything,” Lark mumbled.

Barsotti chuckled. “Understood.”

Lark held up the sample platter of small desserts. “Doughnut?”

“I’ll have some makowiec.”

“You can just say cake,” Shrike grumbled.

The luxury hotel had carried the European theme into the café menu.

Wren hadn’t been able to read anything but the price tags. Money had always been tight, but Joe had taught Wren to make ends meet. To make do.

If Stephen had ever felt the same strain, he didn’t show it. The whole thing left Wren uneasy. Mostly because it highlighted how little he actually knew about the man. His whole life, the only people Wren ever had to rely on were family. People he knew down to their bone marrow. Barsotti wasn’t like that.

Reaching for his coffee, Wren tried to refocus on the paperwork. Shrike kicked. Her knee hit the table, making it rock and sloshing coffee over the files. Everyone rushed to salvage the papers. Lark saved the desserts.

“Sorry,” Shrike said. “A toad was on my foot again.”

The local wildlife was enjoying the drop in tourism. Deer nibbled the manicured lawns. Flocks of small birds had taken over the lounge chairs on the banks of the lake. The squirrels preferred the patio, and toads were scattered everywhere.

What few guests there were seemed delighted by it all. Like it was an intended part of the resort and not an infestation. Children ran around the empty tables, trying to catch something, while their family enjoyed the sun.

“It’s okay,” Wren said as he sorted through the files. “It’ll all dry out.”

Shrike flopped into her seat, flinching as a group of children ran behind her. “Are your suspects here yet?”

Barsotti subtly scanned the area. “No.”

“Are you sure they come here?” Shrike asked.

“My new deputy friend said that they hang out by the lake every day after school.”

“Right. Your friend.” Shrike bit into a small muffin. “Lucky that you just happened to know him.”

“I made friends with him after I got interested in the town.”

“And he didn’t find that suspicious?” Wren asked.

Barsotti shrugged. “Cops always have things they need to get off their chests. You can’t talk to civilians, so we gossip amongst ourselves. This poor guy was desperate to vent about petty grievances. He needed a break.”

“I still don’t understand why you suspect these kids. O’Boyle hasn’t looked into them, right?” Wren said.

“I wrote it all down.” Stephen gestured to a stack of soggy paper. “A nice little report to get us all on the same page.”

Shrike clenched her jaw. Their little sister was halfway through a chocolate dessert when she noticed Shrike’s you-handle-him glare.

“Shrike’s not really a visual learner,” Lark chimed in. “Let’s go through it together again.”

Pulling his phone out of his pocket, Barsotti leaned closer to Shrike. She grumbled as he put his elbow on the armrest of her chair.

“I have their yearbook pictures,” Barsotti said. “Thought the visual aids might help. And since you destroyed the file copies.”

Lark cleared a spot in the middle of the table for his phone. They all crowded in, making sure to keep their voices low.

“Six teenagers have sparked my interest. They run in a pack. After chatting with the deputy—”

“You can tell us his name,” Shrike said.

“He’d probably prefer I don’t.” Barsotti brought up a photograph of a slight girl with a sweet smile. “That’s the ringleader. Violet Herren.”

“The demons we’ve seen before have all been solitary hunters,” Shrike commented.

“Clarence had friends,” Lark said.

They paused their conversation as a toddler ran after a toad. Wren spotted the baby’s parents watching from a nearby table. Still, they all lowered their voices.

“That was just camouflage,” Shrike said.

“I’ve seen Shadow People hunt in packs,” Barsotti said. “And Lark told me about the blob-like creatures that worked with Trent.”

Shrike groaned. “My point is, when the time came to kill, we were three against one. Three of us. One demon. And we still got our asses kicked.”

“We won,” Lark said.

“Barely. Wren’s shoulder is never going to be the same. My scars aren’t gonna fade. We can’t take on six.”

“We have Barsotti now,” Lark said.

Shrike snorted. Both sisters turned to Wren. He was the oldest. Without their dad, Wren was the one who made the final decision.

“People are dying. We can’t just walk away.” He held up his hand as Shrike huffed. “But Shrike’s right. We can’t let this be like Trent and Clarence. We can’t be forced into a fight before we’re ready. Even if people keep dying, we’re going to take our time. Agreed?”

The sisters nodded.

“Good,” Wren said and waved for Barsotti to continue.

“Right,” Barsotti said slowly, looking at each sibling in turn. “They’re all local kids. Right age bracket to have been on the bus you and Joe kept from crashing. So, primed for demonic possession. They started acting up just before the murders—normal teenaged rebellion, mostly. But then bodies started showing up, and things got weird.”

“Weird how?” Shrike asked.

“The deputy told me about picking Violet and her friends up for shoplifting and public disturbance. He found Violet eating her way through an industrial-sized bag of peanuts. Which is weird given her deadly nut allergy.”

“How sure is he that she’s allergic?” Wren asked.

“A month earlier, she was almost hospitalized after slapping a girl. It turns out the girl’s lip balm contained macadamia nut oil. That brief contact was enough.”

“You think being possessed cured her of her allergy?” Lark asked.

“Trent turned into a huge, deformed bat,” Shrike said. “Clarence’s nails sliced me open like razor blades.”

“Yeah, but they came with some other pretty noticeable changes.” Lark checked her watch. “I can ask my friends in the conjuring tonight. I’m supposed to log on in a few hours. They might have heard about demons teaming up, too. Although, they really don’t like to talk about demons.”

Wren began to scroll through Stephen’s phone. “Is there any other reason you suspect them?”

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