Kiss of Awakening, p.1Jennifer Snyder
KISS OF AWAKENING
A Succubus Kiss Prequel Novella
KISS OF AWAKENING
Copyright © 2014, 2015 by Jennifer Snyder
Editing by H. Danielle Crabtree
Cover Design created by Lindee Robinson Photography
Cover Models: Anthony DiPilla and Diana Chokr
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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To YOU, the reader, because I can’t ever possibly thank you enough.
“Choose your own adventure.”
When I was a kid, I assumed my father’s motto was nothing more than a pun on the type of books I enjoyed reading. You know the kind—the type where, if you decide to go through the secret passage, flip to page twenty-two, but if you decide to bypass it and continue down the hall, flip to page forty-nine. Now, looking back on this motto as an adult, I realize that my father was the wisest man alive.
He understood that with every choice we make our ending changes.
The moment I opened the black envelope and read the blood red words scratched across the thick, cream-colored paper, I knew my father’s words would have suited the scenario perfectly.
If I chose to do as the letter prompted, then I might as well flip to the farthest page in the book of my life, because an end—of sorts—was exactly what I would find in doing so.
A mountain of boxes sat before me, each of them filled with material things that wouldn’t mean shit to anyone else besides me. It wasn’t the objects that meant something, though, it was the memories attached to them—the memories that involved my father.
His entire life—everything he’d ever worked for, everything about him—rested inside cardboard boxes printed with liquor brand names across the sides. Gazing at the boxes before me, it somehow seemed disrespectful to have placed his belongings in something used to ship alcohol.
My father didn’t even drink. Ever.
Unsure as to why this thought had situated itself front and center in my mind so suddenly, I chewed my bottom lip while thinking of a way to justify my box choice. “They have sturdy bottoms, Dad,” I said into the air, just in case my father’s spirit happened to be around.
While I wasn’t a religious person by any standard, that didn’t mean I couldn’t hope there was some sort of an afterlife. Brushing a few strands of my dark hair away from my face, I hoped that my father’s afterlife consisted of something far more enjoyable than watching me all sad-faced and teary-eyed as I packed up his belongings.
Afterlife, what the hell? How was it possible that my dad was gone?
Sinking down into the recliner, my eyes skimmed the living room. The walls were now naked, and the entire room seemed eerily empty. My vision blurred with impending tears as I continued to gaze around the vacant-looking space. Zeroing in on the prescription bottles sitting on the end table beside me, I finally lost it. The tears I had been holding back spilled from my eyes as I thought of how painful my father’s final moments most likely were.
Dead at forty-eight. Even in my twenty-one-year-old mind frame, forty-eight seemed so young.
William Blake’s health hadn’t been top notch for years, but it still wasn’t horrible enough for one to think he would pass away anytime soon. Then again, that all depended on who you asked. Dr. Brenner would mention his various health issues—including the stage his lung cancer was currently in—when asked. Most likely, he would talk about my father’s poor lifestyle choices, like smoking and his not-so-healthy diet. Then to lighten the mood, Dr. Brenner would state that my father should have kicked the bucket a few years ago, but he’d held on a little longer than expected just to piss off the man upstairs. But, if you asked a friend or a coworker about my father’s death, they would all tell you how unexpected it seemed. One of them would probably mention how they’d rarely ever seen him take time off, and how he always seemed so chipper and happy, never once leading them to believe he had stage three lung cancer.
The one thing no one would say, but I had found myself often thinking, was how William Blake was apparently a damn good actor, because even I didn’t know how bad everything was until a few months ago, when he decided to stop treatment. It wasn’t that I didn’t know about his cancer, because I did. I had been the one to take him back and forth to his appointments, to feed him applesauce or Jell-O when nothing else sounded good and he was too weak from the radiation to lift his arms. I had been there when he decided to shave his head completely bald so no one would be the wiser when it all fell out anyway. He never complained, so I assumed he was fine. I assumed he would pull through, unscratched and smiling.
The good guys are supposed to win. Always.
But he didn’t. My father was stripped from this world too soon, leaving behind a hole in my heart and boxes filled with his things nobody besides me would even give a damn about.
And now here I was, packing up his belongings because his assets weren’t enough to cover the remainder of the mortgage on the house, and I damn sure didn’t have the money to pay it off myself. The property was going on the market immediately.
While I had been told I still had a few weeks until I needed to clear the premises of his things, I didn’t feel as though it was right. If the lenders were that fucking heartless and greedy when it came to such things, then I wanted my father’s belongings out of there as soon as possible.
Wiping my damp cheeks and sniffling, I straightened my back. It was time to stop moping and pack up more stuff. I’d decided the week after my father passed that I would only allow myself five minutes a day to breakdown and mourn him, because he would be pissed at me for anything more. In fact, now that nearly two weeks had passed, he would tell me to get over it. My father was loving, but he also didn’t care for a whiner. God, I missed him.
Hoisting another box into the air, I started up the stairs toward my old room. It was the only room I had left on the second floor to go through. Oddly enough, I’d started in my father’s bedroom. My mind enjoyed working backward apparently. At least that’s what my best friend Bree had said. She claimed she would have saved his room for absolute last, because it would be the hardest. Me, I wanted to get the hard part out of the way as soon as possible. So far it had worked out for me.
Gripping the doorknob, I turned and then stepped inside my old room. Flipping on the switch, the room became bathed in light. It reflected off the mint green walls and white furniture. The hint of a smile twisted the corners of my lips as I scanned the room I hadn’t set foot inside in so long. I’d moved o
Setting the cardboard box on my old bed, I turned toward the bookshelf that still harbored some of my childhood favorites. As I skimmed through my tattered copies of R.L. Stine books, my cell vibrated from in my back pocket. It was Bree.
I’m here. Where are you?
I hung my head back and sighed. Shit. I was supposed to meet her for a late dinner, but I’d gotten caught up in packing and lost track of time.
I’m sorry. I forgot. I’ll be there in fifteen. ~ Kenna
Thursday nights were always our girls’ night out time. I wasn’t sure how this little tradition had slipped my mind. Bree had sent me numerous text messages checking on me all day and reminding me about dinner. She wanted to help me pack my father’s things, but I’d declined every offer as nicely as I could. It was something I preferred to do alone.
Tossing one of my many Fear Street Saga novels into the box on my bed, I flipped off the light behind me and darted down the stairs. I raced through the house, turning off lights as I went, and quickly grabbed my coat from the back of the couch before bolting out the front door. Something caught my eye the moment I pulled the door open—a black envelope resting in the center of the worn-out welcome mat.
Bending at the knee to pick it up, I glanced around, searching for whomever had left it. A cool breeze blew, rustling the fallen leaves and making the bushy evergreen trees in the front yard wave and sway. There was no one there, at least not that I could see.
Chewing along the inside of my cheek, I eyed the envelope in my hand. My name had been written in thick red letters along the front. To anyone else, this would have been the most bizarre thing ever to happen to him or her. For me though, it wasn’t. The handwriting had been all I needed to know who the letter had come from. How she’d managed to set it on the doorstep without me hearing her car pull up was beyond me though.
The letter was from my absentee mother, Mara Valmont.
Usually I received gifts and cards from her on birthdays and holidays, a random envelope delivered just because, however, was a rarity. Silently, I wondered what the occasion was. Had I missed a holiday? Halloween was Saturday. Did that count? Or had she heard of my father’s passing and decided to console me in the form of a letter?
Flipping the envelope over, I debated whether I should open it. Did I really care what she had to say in regards to my father’s passing? Had she even known about his cancer? I wasn’t sure if the two of them had remained in contact after she left when I was five. My father never talked about her, except when I asked him to. Over the years, my asking had become nonexistent simply because I’d vowed not to care about her, mimicking the way she so blatantly didn’t give a shit about me. Remembering my birthday and sending something every holiday didn’t make her a mother.
Not in my book.
Biting my bottom lip, I stared at the envelope. Curiosity would eat at me until I opened it, but I wasn’t sure I could handle a sob letter from her. If that’s even what it was.
Pursing my lips together into a thin line, I tapped the coarse-papered envelope against the palm of my hand repeatedly. God, this was a moment my dad would say his famous motto with a large shit-eating grin. I could picture it clearly in my mind’s eye. The way his lips would twist at the corners as he locked eyes with me and said, “Choose your own adventure, sweetheart.” Then, he would toss his hands up in surrender.
“Screw it,” I muttered, and flipped the envelope over. “I’ll just open the damn thing.”
Sliding my nail along the top, I cut it open. Reaching in, I pulled out a thick piece of paper, which was roughly the size and feel of a postcard, and read my mother’s message.
The time has come, my sweet girl, for you to find out who you really are.
The Kiss of Awakening is upon you.
Attached with the postcard was a plane ticket stamped for New Orleans. Skimming over the ticket, I noticed the departure time was for tomorrow night at seven. My eyes dipped back to the postcard. Arching an eyebrow, I stared at the blood red letters, wondering what my mother had meant. An eerie sensation slipped along my spin as I reread her first sentence. What I really was? What the hell did that mean? Flipping the card over, I noticed more writing.
New Orleans, The Bourbon Orleans Hotel
I was completely confused. Apparently Google was about to be my best friend, because that was the only thing that popped into my head next—how I was going to Google the heck out of that place in search of some answers.
Kiss of Awakening by Jennifer Snyder / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes