Miranda Schaffer just wants a little freedom for the start of college. Having convinced her parents to let her live in the house left to them by her great-aunt Janine, she’s excited. That is, until her classmate, Cole, tries to convince her that the house is one of the tools needed by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to raise Hell.

Cole identifies himself as a Guardian, whose sole purpose in life is to prevent the gateway to Hell—supposedly Miranda’s basement—from falling into the wrong hands. Miranda brushes off his concerns, thinking he’s crazy.

On top of that, the cute real estate agent interested in the house is, according to Cole, one of the Four Horsemen, and she should stay away from him at all costs. That’s easier said than done when she can’t get him out of her head.

Will her indecision leave her with Hell to pay?

Brimstone Series Book One | New Adult Urban Fantasy

Chapter One

“You’re absolutely sure this is okay?” asks Mom while loading the last two boxes into Dad’s black truck.

She’s worried about me living on my own. But I’m not really going to be on my own. “We’re only going to be living half an hour away from each other,” I say. I know it doesn’t reassure her at all.

She pulls her lower lip in between her teeth and chews lightly. For once she isn’t wearing makeup; it accentuates her age a little.

I mean, my mother isn’t a day over thirty, I swear.

“We won’t be back until December,” she says. “What if you need something?” She and Dad are about to embark on a much-needed second honeymoon. They’re going on a tour across Europe. Cliché, maybe. They’re excited nonetheless. So am I, but for entirely different reasons.

I’m about to start my first semester of college.

“You mom is right… What if you need us?” asks Dad, hopping down from the bed of the truck. “Everything’s good to go. With these boxes, you will no longer live with your parents.” His smile is big, but his sky blue eyes are sad. “I don’t quite know how to feel about this.”

“Oh, Dad.” I wrap one arm around his waist in an awkward side-hug. “You’re going to be back before you know it. And I’m going to be just fine in Aunt Janine’s house.”

Technically, she wasn’t my aunt; she was my great-aunt. She passed away a few months ago in her sleep. When she was here, she was a really fun lady. I miss her a lot.

“That’s another thing,” says Mom. A small sniffle gives away her grief, though she keeps the rest of her emotions in check. She feels the same way I do, probably. She and I used to visit with Janine every weekend. We used to go out to lunch, find crafty things to do, or just have a general girls’ day. “Why do you want to stay in Janine’s house again?”

A smile rises to my lips. “We can’t leave it empty anymore,” I tell her. “She wanted the house to stay in the family. That means we can’t sell.”

My parents exchange a look. “Well, we can,” says Mom. Dad shoots her a warning look. They’re clearly conversing silently. It irritates me, because no matter what, I can’t understand what they say to one another. Or rather, what they don’t say.

I’m frowning before I can stop myself. “We can’t go against her wishes, guys!” I cringe at the half whine in my tone. It isn’t very mature of me, but I absolutely don’t want to do something that would so blatantly be the opposite of what Janine wanted.

She never told us why she didn’t want to sell, but it seemed important to her. Whatever it was, she must not have thought it important enough to involve us.

Or, maybe she did involve my parents, and they’re just leaving me out of the loop. That thought isn’t pleasant. Growing up, my parents always tried to include me in things that were going on so I wouldn’t be surprised when I was finally thrust into the grown-up world.

“Honey, the house is a little big for you to be staying there alone,” says Dad, repeating words he’d shared previously on the matter. It’s a reasonable concern, I know.

I kind of shrug. “So I’ll get a roommate. Make some friends in my classes, and invite one to live with me,” I say. Their eyes widen in horror and I laugh. “Not a boy. Don’t worry.”

Mom makes a face at me. “You’re going to kill me one of these days, girl!” she says playfully, reaching out to ruffle my hair. “Let’s get these to the house before the sun goes down.”

Dad, running his fingers through his red hair, lets us venture inside alone. I imagine he’s still recovering from the thought of me inviting a boy to live with me.

I follow Mom inside, where she grabs her purse. My tote bag is buried somewhere under boxes that haven’t been put together yet. The moment I crouch down to try and locate it, Mom laughs.

“You’re always losing that thing,” she says. She helps me shift some boxes around until the strap is visible. Mom grabs it and swings the royal purple bag my way.

I catch it and say, “Yeah. I’ll get a coat rack or something for it at the house.”

She laughs and pushes stray hairs out of her face. Her hair is dyed a deep mahogany brown, but her natural color is sun-kissed blonde. She’s always had the fear that no one would take her seriously as a blonde, so she hides it from the world. Thanks to her blonde and Dad’s intense red hair, mine is a lovely strawberry blonde. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“Put up a sign to remind you to leave it there, too,” teases Mom. I make a face at her and we head outside together.

While I lock the front door behind us, Mom climbs into the passenger seat of my navy blue 2008 Honda Civic. I give Dad a knowing look; Mom is trying to get as much time as she can with me before they go on their trip. I won’t be seeing them much tomorrow, except to drop them off at the airport, and I won’t be coming back here today. She’s never been away from me for so long.

“We’ll see you there,” I say to Dad.

See you on the next page!


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