Excerpt of WITCHY WICKEDNESS

https://www.amazon.com/Sherry-Soule/e/B0104Y33KK

*For fans of Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments*

Rumors of witchcraft. Teens mysteriously vanishing. And doomed first love. This is where the haunting saga begins… 

Ravenwood, California isn’t like other coastal towns. It’s a mystical place nestled deep within the woods, brimming with black magick, eerie creatures, and dark forces. 


And Shiloh Trudell isn’t like other sixteen-year-old girls. As a teen witch, she’d much rather be normal, hang with her friends, and find a monster-free summer job. But when Shiloh applies for an assistant position at the local haunted house, working with a paranormal investigator and his sinfully hot nephew, she realizes nothing will ever be the same again.


Especially after Shiloh gets a freaky visit from a shadowy demon, along with his creeptastic minions, and the town is plagued by supernatural occurrences. As if things aren’t sucky enough, between dating the local bad-boy, fending off soul-sucking demons, and studying magick, she is harassed by a variety pack of rampage-y enemies. 


For poor Shiloh, life’s a real witch.


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   READ THE NEWLY UPDATED AND EXPANDED 2017 EXCERPT OF WITCHY WICKEDNESS by Sherry Soule (formerly titled, Beautifully Broken)


For as long as I could remember, I’ve heard whispers in the shadows—black, twisting shapes that chilled my blood. Most days, I’d catch a glimpse of their greenish skin, crimson eyes, and sharp claws slithering through the fog, and wish for an elsewhere to be. 

Anywhere, but Ravenwood, California. Today was no exception. 


Normally, I felt safe during the day, with the sun warming my skin, but when the shadows showed up in my bedroom this morning, I barely recognized their eerie whispering. 


 The desk light and floor lamp blinked off and on. I glanced at the last line I’d typed on my essay for English class, one hand hovering over the laptop keyboard. The flames of the candles lining the dresser flickered, and the open curtains over the closed windows eerily fluttered. Still, the room didn’t seem bright enough.


The creepy voices grew more intense, speaking in a strange language, faint but ominous, and swirling around me like the remnants of a bad dream. 


 So stupid! I’d forgotten to keep my telepathic shield up. Again.


I closed the laptop and set it aside on the bed, my heart hammering. Not that I needed any extra incentive, but finishing my homework could wait.

I jumped off the bed, and scanned the dark bends and edges of the room. The swirling azure colors of the witch-ball suspended from the ceiling rotated in a slow circle. I squatted to check under the bed. Nothing. 

Shuffling over to the closet, I kicked the door open. On tiptoes, I leaned over the threshold, stretching to grasp the brass chain, then gave it a yank. Light bled across dirty laundry, illuminating shoes piled on the floor and an overflowing laundry basket. Dusty board games cluttered the shelf, and haphazardly hanging clothes swayed on the bar. My fuzzy bunny slippers stared upward with glassy button eyes. 


No hellspawn prowling around. I listened, wary and waiting. The spooky murmurs ceased. Everything seemed…normal. The blinds were raised and the curtains opened on the two windows, with the mid-morning sunlight glaring into the room.


So why couldn’t I shake the total creep factor?    


Maybe because supernatural things made up a great deal of my sucky life.


Suddenly the light bulb in the closet, along with each lamp exploded, causing shards of glass to rain down on the floor. A sharp gust blew out the candles. The blinds dropped over the windows and the curtains slammed together, plunging the room into semi-darkness. 


Bile rose in my throat. Nothing to fear. Nothing to fear. Nothing to—


Shadows covered the pink rug like an opaque stain. Tremors traveled from my legs and vibrated up my neck. Within the inky blobs were gleaming red eyes. Spiny reptilian fingers reached to grab my ankles and I jerked back from their grasp. Taking deep breaths, I struggled to calm myself. All I had to do was run from the room. 


Before I could move, my gaze caught the shadows thickening somehow, creeping up the wall. An entity, solid and vertical, was detaching itself from the other shadows in a corner across the room. The ├╝ber-evil mass of blackness, like a spatter of crude oil, pulsated and churned until it nearly touched the ceiling. 


Breathing out desperate choking noises, I stumbled sideways, my knees buckling. I leaned hard on the wall, blood roaring in my ears. 


The nest of smaller demonic shadows, Shades, started circling my legs like frightened children. A threatening growl came from within the bigger shadow, and the shades slunk away, blending into the dim corners. 


When scary things get scared—so not good.


Power surged through the bigger demon as he swelled into a seething maelstrom of dark energy. The demon’s strange features—part phantom, part reptilian—fought to become corporeal. The figure morphed, muscles expanding over bones of shiny obsidian, smooth and razor-sharp. Then the entity throbbed, altered, coalescing into rough skin, the color of soot, with a sturdy flexibility, more sinuous than flesh, like a venomous viper. Partially humanoid. No hair. Scary ocher eyes. His man-parts covered by loose black pants. The demon flexed his hands, revealing long fingernails. Heat, like the breath of a dragon, radiated from the seven-foot-tall lizard-y creature.


“Greetings, Thirteenth Daughter,” the shadowy demon said. “Or should I call you by your birth name, Shiloh Trudell?”


He knew my name. The demon knew my friggin’ name!


I flicked a glance at the bottle of holy water on the nightstand. My scalp prickled with sweat. It wasn’t as if I were some girly-girl afraid of her own shadow, but when they had glowing eyes, sharp teeth, and spoke to me…well, I tended to freak out. 


Okay, focus. 


My gaze darted to the window. Sunlight might be my only ally. If I lifted the blinds and opened the curtains, the sun’s rays would turn the demon into a crispy critter. At least that was the hope. Through the slants, a crack of light ebbed into the room, soaking the crevices. I just needed to keep Shadow Man, the big bad evil, talking. 


“So, um, what do they call you?” 


“It is inconsequential,” he said, standing in the corner and glancing at all the lamps and candles cluttering the room. “Although, I do find it rather intriguing that a girl of your special talents seems to fear the dark.”


Inching forward, I kept an eye on the junior shadows with their greenish hands, arms, and flashes of carved faces. The shades continually moved, sliding under the bed in a twisted game of peek-a-boo. Were they his minions? Or were the shades still as panicky as me? 


The big bad stood unnaturally still. Intent, watchful, calm. The odor of sulfur, musty and acrid, wrinkled my nose. He pointed at my scarred arm. A scorching pain, as if I’d plunged my arm into scalding water, struck the scar tracing a jagged line from my elbow to my wrist. Sucking in a breath, I held it against my chest and tears filled my eyes. 


“Debts must be paid.” His inhuman voice slid across the space between us, resonant and sinister, like the threat of a snake before it strikes. “You bear the Devil’s Mark.” 


My eyes bulged. “Say what?” 


Move. Now. 


But my legs refused to budge. My body stiffened like a statue, immobile and breathless.


“Give me the grimoires, and I will make your death quick and painless.”


My gaze automatically darted to the trunk under my bed. The demon caught my glance and lifted one side of the bedframe as if it only weighed five pounds. The old, wooden trunk hidden under the mattress faintly glowed. Shadow Man reached out a leathery hand to touch it, but when his skin made contact with the luminescent glow, it sparked like an electric fence and he jerked back his arm. 


“Tricky,” Shadow Man said, dropping the bed with a loud thud. He stepped closer, then halted and tilted his head to one side.


A soft knock on the door. “Shiloh?” My mother’s annoyed tone penetrated the wood. “I heard a noise. What are you doing in there? Do you need help with something?” 


No way was I letting this all-purpose evil leave my bedroom to hurt my parents.
“Uh, sorry,” I croaked. “All good here.”


She twisted the knob on the locked door. “We don’t want to be late for the meeting.” 


No...we wouldn’t want that.


“Okay. I’ll be down soon.” 


My fists clenched at my sides, fingernails cutting into my palms. Now I had no choice but to stop the demon before he went after my family. I glanced from the door to Shadow Man. 


“Hurry up,” she said. 


The soft tread of her feet padding down the hall rattled me enough to take action. 


My eyes narrowed and I took a step forward, intent on defending my loved ones. I glimpsed my reflection in the mirror above the dresser—blue gaze steadfast and cheeks flushed with a flare-up of bravery.


Or more like a case of much stupidity. 


“You know, I just wanted to finish my homework. Be like any other normal teenager,” I said. “Have friends, sleep at night, maybe even date a cute boy—but nooo, you and your creepy fiends had to show up and ruin my day.”


The demon sneered. “Now, Thirteenth Daughter, we can do this the easy way or...well, there’s the dead way.”


“Are you sure you want to mess with me? I’m just saying, this won’t be all party favors and animal balloons. We’re talking bloodshed, roughhousing, and maybe even an R-rating.”


“Hmmm,” he said with a creeptastic smile. “Sounds quite enjoyable.”


“You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”


“Neither do you, my sweet. My ascent is imminent.” He lifted his arm. “Of all the people here, who’s just been voted most likely to become invincible?” Shadow Man waved at me, then dropped his hand. “Guess that’ll only be me then.”


I rolled my eyes. “God complex much?”


“A god? No. Powerful and immortal? Yes. I was summoned years ago, yet remain weak. However, being this close to you—my goodness, what a rush!” The demon crooked a finger like a hook and his gaze settled on me with such animosity that my skin recoiled. “I am craving a taste of your essence. Come here. Now.”


“Like hell I will,” I said, but the tone was not mine. This time power flooded my voice.


As we glared at each other, I felt a dark force unfurl within my chest, as black as the demon before me. Tension coiled my muscles and I gritted my teeth. My limbs twitched as the obscure power within me stirred restlessly—precarious, unwinding. 


No one moved. Even the nasty little shades became rigid. Shadow Man hesitated. I held my ground, my heart beating too fast. 


“You are gutsy!” He chuckled, but without humor. “Too bad you must die.”


“And you’re awfully chatty for a demon.”


He rushed forward so fast his movements were a blur, and threw a punch. I blocked the blow with my arm, adrenaline coursing through my veins. Shadow Man landed a backhanded slap on my cheek, and stars exploded in my vision. Lifting a leg, I kicked him as hard as I could in the gut. When he doubled-over in pain, I slammed my elbow into his spine. The demon staggered and hit the wall, falling to the floor, winded. His shoulder struck the tall lamp and sent it crashing to the ground.


I backed up, both fists raised. “Ha! Take that, evil baddie!” 


Guess the self-defense class my dad made me take last summer had finally paid off. 


Shadow Man straightened and studied me with his yellow gaze, then smiled, pointed teeth showing. A smirk so sinister, my courage faltered. His shadowy body shimmered and grew slightly bigger, taller. I had the sudden horrible feeling that he was only toying with me and held back his demon-y strength. Now he was clearly done playing. 


The grin vanished from his face. “You are wasting my time.”


“Yeah, well, I had other plans today, too,” I said, lowering my arms. “Which did not include kicking your ass.”


“I want those books.”


His muscular physique seemed invulnerable. The heat of his stare slammed into my scar again, and it throbbed as if a wasp had stung me, the sharp pain radiating up my arm, all the way across my chest. My stomach lurched, my breakfast threatening to cough back up.


Okay, deep breath. Do the calm thing. The un-freaking out thing.


Shadow Man stood between the door and me. No quick escape there.
Come on, Shiloh—think! 


The demon flung back his head, emitting a thin stream of smoke that spewed from his parted lips. His smoky vomit appeared viscous and black, tinting the air with a sulfurous residue. 


Well, hell.


Instead of screaming like a smart girl, I’d try the brave thing and make a run for the windows. 


As I ran past the demon, I grabbed the bottle of holy water, twisted off the lid, and hurled the contents at his face. He shrieked as steam rose from his burning scalp. A trickle of the water splashed onto my skin, and a blistering heat hit my arm. Stumbling, I fell to my knees, gripping the ledge of the windowsill. 


A surge of energy radiated through my limbs, crackling with weird power. “Please, oh please, open!


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