The Isle Of Sin And Shadows - Keri Lake Page 0,1

all around her, and she knew, without a doubt, he was closer. So close, she could hear the clatter of bones against that chicken foot he had clipped to his pants.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

1224 Regnier. Russ James.

Daddy made her promise to find the place, no matter what.

But it was a promise she probably couldn’t keep.

Because the girl was certain Tonton Macoute would find her. And when he did, she would die.

Just like the others.

1

Céleste

Marquette, Michigan

Present day

Hooking my fingers beneath my shirt, I peel the clingy burgundy turtleneck over my head and toss it onto the frozen sand beside me. Long tresses of exceptionally unruly curls fall around my shoulders, failing to offer much of a shield against the thirty-two-degree air that hits my skin with a blast of goosebumps. A tight fist squeezes around my lungs and steals my breath, and not even the constant rush of adrenaline smothers the cold when I glance over my shoulder toward the still waters of Lake Superior, where salmon-colored streaks of dusk stretch across the water’s placid surface, giving just enough light for me to steel my nerves.

Holy shit, this is going to be cold.

After tugging a thin chain with a dangling brass skeleton key over my head, I carefully tuck it away in the folds of my discarded shirt. Prying the buttons of my jeans open, I watch the two boys across from me, both a year older than me and home from college for the weekend, stare at my black bra like they’ve never seen one before. Where I should be self-conscious, with the way they’re ogling me right now, I’m fine with it. So long as they’re looking at my breasts, they’re not looking at the ugly scar along my jaw and across my throat. Not asking questions about how it got there. Where it happened. When they look at my body, they’re not seeing me, at all.

The shorter of the two, Conner, has already stripped down to his boxers. Arms crossed over his body, he shifts from one foot to the other, inching closer to the bonfire we built earlier. “Hurry the fuck up. ‘S’cold out here.” Crouching to the ground, he stretches out his hands and rubs them together.

The big guy, Travis, tips back a swill of whiskey from the fifth in his hands, before handing it off to Conner. He takes his time removing his shoes, never once averting his gaze, as I finally slide the jeans over my hips and reveal bright lemon print panties that don’t match my bra.

Though, he certainly doesn’t seem to mind that.

Glancing down at his unimpressive bulge, I smirk. “Speed it up, spanky. I’m not waiting for you.”

“You call me that again, and you’ll be spanking it for me with those panties shoved in your mouth.”

“You lay so much as a fingertip on me, and you’ll be carrying two severed balls into the emergency room.” After another glance back at the water, I nod toward his groin. “Okay, shriveled balls.”

“You talk tough, girl. Gonna get you in trouble, someday.”

“I’d say it already has.” Abandoning the warmth of the fire, I spin on my heel and race toward the water’s edge, ready to get this the hell over with. The two catch up to me, and all three of us stand just outside of the shoreline. “You boys still game?”

“This ain’t our first rodeo. Question is, are you?”

It’s not my first time, either, but I don’t mention that and risk losing the prize. Instead, I dive headfirst into waters that I’ll bet are no warmer than thirty-nine, maybe forty, degrees.

The icy fluids wash over my skin in a numbing shock. The fist around my chest tightens, squeezing the air right out of me, while my body succumbs to the temperature. I shoot up from the sandy bottom to the sounds of laughter and hollering.

“Fuck! Holy fuck!” Up to his waist in cold water, Travis wades back toward the shore, scrubbing his hands down his shimmering face.

“I can’t feel my nuts. I can’t feel my nuts!” Conner cups himself, water splashing all around him as he cuts toward the shore and scampers for the pile of clothes beside the bonfire.

Needling whispers of air seem to harden the water clinging to my skin, my toes swollen and stiff as I hustle back toward the fire with chattering teeth and achy cold limbs. Not even the rush of adrenaline pumping through my veins like electricity can quell the thickening of muscle and bones still sore with

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