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Kill Switch (Devil's Night, #3)
Author:Penelope Douglas

Kill Switch (Devil's Night, #3)

Penelope Douglas

I don’t normally add a preface, but as this is the third installment in the Devil’s Night series, I’d like to forewarn readers. While this is a series in the sense that each book tackles a new plot with a new hero and heroine, it has become a saga, of sorts, as well. There is a bigger story at play with the central characters all prevalent in each other’s books and other mysteries playing out. It’s recommended to read the series, starting with Corrupt and Hideaway. Getting to know all the players and connecting all the fun dots will assure that you have the best chance at understanding the full picture.

If you’ve already read Corrupt and Hideaway, then onward and enjoy!

If you haven’t, both are currently available through Kindle Unlimited.

Happy Reading!

“37 Stitches” by Drowning Pool “And the World Was Gone” by Snow Ghosts “Bad Company” by FFDP

“Beggin for Thread” by Banks

“Black Magic Woman” by VCTRYS

“Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” by Concrete Blonde “Cannibal Song” by Ministry

“Cry Little Sister” by Marilyn Manson “Dark Paradise” by Lana Del Rey “Deathwish” by Red Sun Rising

“Don’t Say a Word” by Ellie Goulding “Fear the Fever” by Digital Daggers “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Chromatics “Go to Hell” by KMFDM

“Go to War” by Nothing More

“Hater” by Korn

“Holy Water” by LAUREL

“Human” by Rag’n‘Bone Man

“Is Your Love Strong Enough” by How to Destroy Angels “Me Against the Devil” by The Relentless “Mouth” by Bush

“My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown “Nothing Else Matters” by Apocalyptica “Plastic Heart” by Nostalghia

“Season of the Witch” by Donovan “Serenity” by Godsmack

“Seven Nation Army (Glitch Mob Remix)” by The White Stripes “Sleep Walk” by Santo & Johnny “S.O.S. (Anything But Love)” by Apocalyptica (feat. Cristina Scabbia) “Something I Can Never Have” by Nine Inch Nails “Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals “Voices” by Motionless in White

“There is a reason why all things are as they are.”

-Bram Stoker’s Dracula

For Z. King


My ballet slipper brushes the hardwood floor as I slowly step down the long hallway. The glow of the candles on their pedestals line the dark walls, and I fidget with my fingers as I glance left to right at every closed door I pass.

I don’t like this house. I’ve never liked it here.

But at least the parties are only twice a year—after summer recitals in June and following the premiere of the annual Nutcracker performance in December. Madame Delova loves ballet, and as my school’s benefactress she considers it a ‘gift to the masses to descend from her tower once in a while to entertain the villagers and allow us into her home.’

Or so I overheard my mom say once.

The house is so big that I don’t think I’ll ever see all of it, and it’s filled with things that everyone is always gushing over and whispering about, but it makes me nervous. I feel like I’ll break something every time I turn around.

And it’s too dark. Even worse today with the house only lit by candlelight. I suppose it’s Madame’s way of making everything look like a dream the way she kind of looks herself: surreal, too perfect, and porcelain. Not exactly real.

I press my lips together, pausing before I call out, “Mom?”

Where is she?

I step softly, not sure where I am or how I get back to the party, but I know I saw my mom come upstairs. I think there’s a third floor, too, but I’m not sure where the next stairwell is to get to it. Why would she come up here? Everyone is downstairs.

I clench my jaw harder with every step away from the party I take. The lights, voices, and music fade, and the silent darkness of the hallway slowly swallows me up.

I should go back. She’ll get mad that I followed her anyway.

“Mom?” I call again, itching at the tights on my legs as the costume I’d been wearing since this morning chafes my skin. “Mom?”

“What the fuck is the matter with you?” someone yells.

I jump.

“Everyone is uncomfortable around you,” the man continues. “All you do is stand there! We talked about this.”

I spot a sliver of light peeking through a cracked doorway and creep closer. I doubt my mom is in there. People don’t yell at her.

But maybe she is in there?

“What is going on in that head of yours?” the man bellows. “Can’t you speak? At all? Ever?”

There’s no response, though. Who is he mad at?

Leaning into the door frame, I peer into the crack, trying to see who’s in the room.

At first, all I can make out is gold. The golden glow of the golden lamp shining onto the golden desk set. But then I shift to the left, my pulse hammering in my chest, as I see Madame’s husband, Mr. Torrance, cross into my view from behind his desk. He stands, breathing hard with his jaw set, as he looks down at whoever is on the other side.

“Jesus Christ,” he spits out with disdain. “My son. My heir… Can anything come out of that fucking mouth of yours? All you’ve gotta say is ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you for coming’. You can’t even answer a simple question when someone asks you. What the hell is wrong with you?”

My son. My heir.

I inch down and then up, trying to see around the edge of the door, but I can’t see the other person. Madame and Mr. Torrance have a son. I rarely see him, though. He’s my sister’s age but goes to Catholic school.

“Speak!” his father bursts out again.

I suck in a breath, and on reflex, take a step. But I accidentally go forward instead of backward and hit the door. The hinges creak, the door creeps open another inch, and I rear back.

Oh, no.

I scurry back, away from the door, and whirl around, ready to bolt. But before I can escape, the door opens, light spills across the dark hardwood floors, and a tall shadow looms over me.

I clench my thighs, the silvery ache burning like I’m about to pee my pants. Slowly, I turn my head and see Mr. Torrance standing there in a dark suit. The scowl on his face softens, and he lets out a sigh.

“Hi,” he says, his lips curl in a slight smile as he gazes down at me.

On instinct, I retreat a step. “I…I got lost.” I swallow, looking up at his dark eyes. “Do you know where my mom is? I can’t find her.”

But just then, the room’s other occupant swings the door open even more, letting the knob hit the wall, and charges around his father and out of the room. Black hair hanging in his eyes, head down, and necktie draped untied around his neck, he rushes past me without a look and barrels down the stairs.

His footsteps disappear, and I turn back to Mr. Torrance.

He smiles, coming down and squatting at my level. I rear back a little.

“You’re Margot’s daughter,” he says. “Winter, right?”

I nod, putting a foot behind me and ready to take another step back.

But he reaches over and places a hand under my chin. “You have your mother’s eyes.”

I don’t. No one ever says that. I raise my chin, so it isn’t touching his hand.

“How old are you?” he asks.

He takes my chin again, tilting my head left and right as his eyes appraise me. Then they fall away from my face and down my white leotard and tutu, past my tights and down to my feet. They float back up, meeting my eyes, but now the smile is gone. Something different plays behind his gaze as he stares at me, and I don’t know if it’s his silence, his size, or how I can’t hear the party anymore, but I finish my step and pull away a few more inches.

“I’m eight,” I mumble, dropping my eyes.

I don’t need his help finding my mom. I just want to leave now. He was so mean to his son. My parents aren’t perfect, but I’ve never been screamed at like that.

“You’re going to be very beautiful someday,” he adds in almost a whisper. “Like your mother.”

I try for a few seconds, finally able to swallow the lump in my throat.