His Scream Queen

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Brooklyn Ann

B Mine, book 3

Book Cover: His Scream Queen
Part of the B Mine series:

QUEEN FOR A NIGHT

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.

 

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Chapter One

January, 1984

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 went 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 princess to queen.

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Brandon snapped her attention back to the present. “My parents are still in Cabo. I can have my driver take us to my place if you want to go somewhere alone where we can… talk.” 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 coat room. The employee brought the luxurious mink coat and even placed it over her shoulders.

The dolt 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 only two years ago, Brittany 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 that she could easily throw away if it got too messy.

After grabbing the suitcase that she kept hidden in the back of her walk-in closet, Brittany 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 for 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 called him forth from the netherworld. Long, sharply-pointed horns extended from his large head. His eyes glowed yellow, and his massive jaw was filled with sharp teeth.  The animal let out a piteous squeal and tried to flee, but Brittany 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. Just as she’d expected, crimson droplets splattered on her ski-suit, more than a stain removal spray could handle. 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 so 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 Brittany 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.” Brittany did not fall into the trap. She had 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 him to make her 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.” Brittany 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 back yard ended and kicked it over the edge, 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, Britney changed into a nightgown and settled into her king-size four poster bed.

Her parents’ drunken laughter carried 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, 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 being a full partner, and Mom 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 their 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.

Brittany still didn’t know if the spells from that first book had actually worked, though just enough things that she wanted happened to make 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 broken her ankle. That was enough to delve further. That first book mentioned the possibility of summoning spirits to do one’s bidding, so Brittany 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. Brittany 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 of the demon’s names were impossible to pronounce, that was the first challenge in summoning them.

Brittany 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 Brittany a foot in the door with the A crowd at school, but since the queen bees, Heather Price and Susan Meyer 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 mom 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 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 prestige.

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. Because demons demanded sacrifices. And while Britney 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.

COLLAPSE

Brooklyn Ann

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