Night Fall (The Quantico Files #1) - Nancy Mehl Page 0,1

feelings they caused were so strong he had to force himself to think about something else. Otherwise, he might do one of those awful things.

His mother finally closed The Book, then started reciting that scary poem about the Train Man. For as long as he could remember, she’d said it every night so he’d stay in bed and not make any noise.

After Mother turned out the light and left his room, he hooked his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. It was so dark in here. Not that it mattered. What was there to see? Just a small bed with an old mattress that smelled, a nightstand that wobbled, and the desk and chair his father found next to a trash dumpster.

A few months ago his family visited his aunt’s house. Until that day, Adam hadn’t even known his mother had a sister. His aunt had kind eyes and a soft touch. And her house was beautiful. Bright and cheerful. He’d looked around the kitchen. No paddle. He couldn’t help but wish his aunt could be his mother. When she smiled at him, it made him feel something he’d never felt before. Envy.

Turned out she had a boy Adam’s age with a bedroom full of wonders. New furniture. Posters on the wall. Toys. Video games. He couldn’t believe it. His envy turned into something even more dark. Anger. He wanted to hurt his cousin and take all his amazing treasures. Why should that boy have everything Adam wanted? It wasn’t fair, was it?

They didn’t stay long, and after they left, Mother announced they would never go back. She said their house had too many temptations. Maybe that was true, but he didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t anymore. New feelings had begun to grow inside him. Resentment. Rage. Hatred.

As he tried to force himself to go to sleep, he kept an ear turned toward the train tracks that ran somewhere behind their house. Thankfully, he heard only silence, yet he knew that a train could go by at any moment. Even though Adam was fairly certain the Train Man wasn’t real, he was terrified of him. Reluctant to take a chance, he’d stay in bed no matter what.

Someday he’d find a way to leave here. Maybe he could live with his aunt. But if Adam really was a demon, and she found out, she wouldn’t want him there, would she?

His eyelids finally grew heavy, but suddenly the door to his room squeaked open. Light streamed in from the kitchen, and Father stood in the doorway with an odd look on his face. He motioned to him with his fingers. “Come with me,” he said.

As Adam followed him, he wondered where Mother was. She’d be mad if she caught them, and he’d get another beating. He wasn’t sure how many more of those he could take. His father didn’t seem concerned about her, though. And when he stopped at the door to the basement, Adam was confused.

“I have something to show you,” Father said.

Adam trailed him down the stairs. When they reached the bottom, his father pointed to something lying on a large wooden table.

Now Adam knew the truth.

He had been raised by demons.


Twenty years later

Patrick walked next to the railroad tracks as he searched for an open boxcar. November was still especially cold and rainy, and a sudden gust of wind grasped him in its icy fingers.

Clouds above him blocked the moon for several minutes, and surrounded by blackness, Patrick stepped carefully. He stayed on the side of the train where a copse of trees helped hide him from prying eyes. As their limbs shook and bent from the strength of the wind gusts, his tattered coat provided almost no protection. He could feel winter waiting in the wings. He needed to find a Salvation Army soon. They’d let him take a shower and give him clean clothes. Maybe even a new coat to keep him warm.

As he pulled on yet another boxcar latch that stayed tight, his mind drifted to his mother and older brother. Years ago, they’d pleaded with him to come home. He should have, but he was cocky, certain he didn’t need them. He’d been raised in church, but he’d wanted a different kind of life—especially after his father died. He craved an existence full of fun and adventure. Well, this sure didn’t qualify. His laugh was low and hoarse, and it triggered another spasm of coughing.

Patrick stopped for a