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Kimberly Loth Books

Circus of the Dead Book Two

Circus of the Dead Book Two

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Samuel deserves to die a thousand deaths.

I was so close to going home and then he ruined it all.

Now, I have to focus on how to survive because I don’t think I can go home.

And to be honest, after a few more nights with Benny, I’m not sure I even want to. Plus, the more I learn about the circus, the more intrigued I become. I discover that I have abilities I couldn’t have even dreamed of if I’d stayed in California.

But, if I’m to survive, I might have to embrace dark magic.

Can I do that without losing myself?

Or am I destined to become evil?

Synopsis

Samuel deserves to die a thousand deaths.

I was so close to going home and then he ruined it all.

Now, I have to focus on how to survive because I don’t think I can go home.

And to be honest, after a few more nights with Benny, I’m not sure I even want to. Plus, the more I learn about the circus, the more intrigued I become. I discover that I have abilities I couldn’t have even dreamed of if I’d stayed in California.

But, if I’m to survive, I might have to embrace dark magic.

Can I do that without losing myself?

Or am I destined to become evil?

First Chapter

I wake in an unfamiliar bed. I blink for a moment, trying to get my bearings. Last night, I was definitely in L.A., but where am I now? 

The bed is covered in smooth white sheets and a light down comforter. A slight breeze comes in through the window, bringing with it the smell of old coffee. I sit up and look down. I’m still fully dressed in what I wore last night, and my mouth is dry and tastes funny like when you take an antibiotic and nothing tastes right. 

Phew. 

At least, I’m fairly certain nothing happened to me last night.

There are expensive paintings hanging on the wall and an antique dresser in the room. The bedside table holds a stack of books, and a few men’s shirts hang over a wooden chair. 

Movement in the doorway catches my eye. Samuel steps through, wearing nothing but a towel. I’ve seen him without a shirt before, but there is something infinitely sexier about this. 

He gives me a crooked grin and sits next to me on the bed. I scoot away, feeling the sheets sliding against my skin.  

“What am I doing in your bed?” I ask and shiver even though it’s not that cold. I look around the room at the stark white walls. I wonder for a second if we are still in California. If we are, I can get away. 

“It’s where you’re going to end up, so I thought you might as well start getting used to it.” He winks at me. 

“No. It’s not where I’m going to end up.” I bring my legs up and wrap my arms around them as if I could hide myself from him. 

He moves a few strands of hair behind my ear, his fingers grazing my face. “You double crossed me, dear. All bets are off.”

I scramble out of the bed away from him. “I will never be yours.” Just because I drew that stupid eight of swords, he was able to bring me back to this island. Unless we are still somehow in L.A.—which is highly unlikely. The air doesn’t smell right. 

He laughs. “The challenge has been set.”

I don’t look at him as I run into the bathroom, my stomach about to empty whatever is left inside. This is a nightmare I’m stuck in. Ugh, this is so annoying.  

I stand over the toilet, expecting to heave, but nothing happens. I turn on the sink and splash cold water on my face then wash my hands. Samuel’s soap smells like cherry Jell-O. 

I open a few cupboard doors, looking for a hand towel, which I find, but only after I’ve found a box of condoms, extra long tweezers, and a stethoscope. Samuel is one strange dude. 

I glance out the window, hoping I’ll see something that looks like we’re still on the West Coast even though I’m ninety percent certain we are not.  The Cypress and Tupelo trees spread out in the swampy waters, and the dock that I’ve become so familiar with mocks me. 

I’m back on that wretched island. 

I stand in the bathroom listening at the door, hoping Samuel’s at least put some clothes on, but I can’t hear anything. The metal of the doorknob is cold on my hands after the hot water.

I peek out but see nothing. He’s gone. Whew. Now to just sneak out of here before he comes back. I may be stuck on this island, but I’m not stuck with him. I’ll hide out on anyone else’s boat to avoid coming back here. Well, almost anyone. I’d probably take Samuel over Elias. 

The smooth polished banister slides under my hand as I creep down the stairs. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was in some cool ancient mansion in the middle of a neighborhood. But I know better. Samuel’s boat is deceiving.

Something beeps in the kitchen, and I freeze, but I hear nothing else. I continue my way down and find the front door. Almost free. 

“Going somewhere, dear?”

I turn slowly and focus on his clothes so I don’t have to look into his eyes. His shirt’s a sickly green color that reminds me of hospital gowns. 

He holds out a cup of coffee for me, and I shake my head. 

He chuckles. “My shirt isn’t that interesting.”

“It’s an ugly color.”

“Is that so?” Without so much as a word uttered from Samuel, the shirt changes to a pale blue. “That better?”

I race from the house, running toward the circus until I’m sure I don’t hear him pursuing. The magic is so easy for him, too. I don’t know how I can ever defeat him when I’m a measly nobody without powers. My insides all squish together. I’m completely helpless and trapped. 

The magic bothers me and fascinates me at the same time. Before I came to the island, the idea of magic was ludicrous, and now it’s commonplace. I knew Lorena was a witch and Samuel was some kind of voodoo priest, but aside from that, I haven’t seen anyone on the island practice magic. 

Well, the ghosts, but they’re ghosts. 

I’m certain Samuel will come looking for me at my boat, so I head to Lorena’s in the hope that she’ll calm my fears and help me make sense of everything. Last night, I was on the plane, and I literally set foot in California, and bam…I wake up on the island.  

Now, California feels like a pipe dream. 

I’m halfway to her boat when the sound of wheels rolling on the dock makes me pause. But there’s nothing here. I check the other docks around me, but there’s no movement anywhere. That’s strange. I twist the rings on my fingers and wait, but the noise seems to be getting farther away. Once I can’t hear the sound anymore, I hurry to her boat. 

She’s on her porch and doesn’t look up when I approach. My stomach flutters a bit. She’s dressed funny, in a white overcoat that looks like a surgeon’s jacket. In her hands is a squirming rabbit. Dinner, probably. She grips the poor thing and snaps its neck. I recoil and bite down a cry. I taste blood. 

The islanders talk of killing and plucking chickens, but it’s different to see it up close. My stomach twists. I don’t like this, but I have to talk to her. I have to understand what just happened with Samuel. 

I take another step forward, but she holds her hands out, and the rabbit floats in front of her. More magic. This is way creepier than anything I’ve seen before. They must have kept it under wraps because of me. Either that, or I was so focused on escaping that I didn’t even notice. 

The bunny twists and turns in unnatural ways, and suddenly its skin falls off, and the guts drop into the swamp below. Lorena holds a pot under the cleaned rabbit, and it lands inside with a thud. 

I spin and race away from her boat. This whole place is like a different world. One I’m not sure how I fit into. I keep my head down as I walk. I was pretty oblivious before this. I wonder if anyone else can do magic. Juliette? No, she always whines about how that isn’t her thing. Maybe Amy? Luke? Nah. That seems a little farfetched. 

I don’t know where else to go because I don’t want anymore unpleasant surprises, so I head home. Samuel might be able to find me, but if I’m being honest with myself, he could find me anywhere. 

I push the door open to my little boat and collapse onto my bed. When I left yesterday, I thought for sure I’d never see this place again. I thought wrong. 

After a few minutes, I get up, open the freezer, and pull out an ice tray. I put three cubes into a glass and fill it with tepid water. My mind filters through the last twenty-four hours, but I have no memories of returning to Louisiana.  

Am I stuck here forever?

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