Entwined - Cherie Colyer

Chapter 1

Digging Up the Past

THE THIRD GRAVE ON THE LEFT belonged to Vladimir Godspeed. He died in 1666. Not that I could easily tell that from the worn etching on his tombstone. It’s just that I’d been staring at the block letters long enough to figure it out. To say I wasn’t happy to be standing next to his grave was an understatement. What made me even less happy was the countless number of shades that lingered in this graveyard. At least, that’s what Josh Corey, my good friend, called spirits that took up residence in cemeteries. Never before had I seen so many lost souls. And even though Josh had assured me that shades were nothing more than vapor, they still creeped me out.

A low moan from somewhere off in the distance had me turning to my left with a jerk. The beam of my flashlight stretched outward, illuminating rows of decaying tombstones that seemed to never end. Everything else was lost in the black abyss that was just before nine on a cold February evening in Massachusetts. I wanted to go home, but I wasn’t calling the shots.

A demon was.

Caden leaned on a spade with a lit cigarette in his mouth as he watched the hellfire he’d created melt the last of winter’s snow from the base of the headstone.

It was his fault I was outside, miles away from my date, freezing my butt off. That’s the problem with being in a demon’s debt; he can, and most likely will, come to collect at the worst possible times. Caden always did.

“Can you please hurry up?” I whined. My words came out in a puff of white fog.

“The ground’s frozen.” Caden looked at me through strands of dark hair. “So unless you’re going to do the digging, we’re waiting until it thaws.”

A six-foot shade slithered up to me, stopping inches from my nose. Startled, I screamed, scaring it and me.

Caden shook his head. “If you’re nervous to be out here, why don’t you cast that calming spell you’re so fond of? You’ll be too relaxed to care if the dead rise.”

“Because I’d rather have my wits about me.” I stomped my feet to get feeling back in my toes. Had I known I’d be standing around outside, I’d have worn my fuzzy boots. “This could have waited until morning,” I complained for probably the fifth time. “Why are we here again?”

“I told you, to tame death.” Caden dropped his cigarette on the ground and snuffed it out with the sole of his shoe.

“Like you can’t do that any time of day.” He was a crossroad demon with hell’s powers at his fingertips. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do, for a price.

His eyes flashed red—a warning that his patience wore thin. I pressed my lips together to keep from saying anything else.

Caden and I had a working relationship, thanks to the deal I had made with him last December. In the ten weeks since then, I’d removed devil’s shoestring from around the windows and doors of three of his clients’ homes. I repaired a long scratch in the black paint of his Subaru. And I did a séance so that Caden could talk to the spirit of his old friend Emily Brontë. Caden had sworn he had important information for her, which he didn’t. Not unless you counted pointing out to the famous writer that he’d told her she didn’t need to make a deal for her work to become a part of history.

Lately, I got the impression Caden sat up at night thinking of things for me to do. To make matters worse, every time he came to call, I was hanging out with my boyfriend, Isaac Addington. I didn’t have to read minds to know that Isaac had just about had it with Caden’s interruptions or that Isaac spent his nights dreaming up ways to send Caden back to hell permanently. Still, the deal I’d made with Caden was simple: he’d brought my little brother back from the edge of death, and in exchange I became his Beck-and-Call Witch. That meant I did as he requested when he requested, no questions asked.

Only nineteen years, nine months, and two weeks to go. Not that I was counting or anything.

My gaze fell on the shovel, and his last comment sank in.

“Wait! I am not raising the dead. Oh, no-no-no.” I paced a few steps away from him. “Definitely not. You agreed that you wouldn’t ask me to do anything that would