You know that group of people in school that everyone fears? Popular. Beautiful. The in-crowd?
That was my family. Kind of.
We were above that group. We held court over everyone else. We were the best looking. We were the mysterious and elusive ones. Most of the girls wanted to (and did) date the guys, but they didn’t want to be one of us. They couldn’t be. They were our prey.
We were the feared.
But like every family, nothing is as it seems. That was my truth.
Kellan was in his own league. He was our leader and he was the one no one messed with. No one dared. He was ruthless, powerful, and no one could match him…
Except for me.
I was about to find out just how different I was from my family.
**Evil is a full-length paranormal romance stand-alone.
This is an older story of mine that's recently been finished! It will be published May 13th, but you can catch up on some of my unedited chapters here!!
When I was grabbed from behind and thrown against my locker, I wasn't
altogether surprised to see Matt Rettley's smirking expression in my face.
Stoutly muscled, striking blue eyes, and nearly blinding blonde curls to match.
Matt might've been the high school football quarterback, most girls' dream to
squeeze, but to me—he was the aggressor.
And a part of me liked it.
"What?" I asked coolly. He had my hands pushed up against the lockers. Idly,
I glanced at them and wondered at the different skin colors. Of course, I didn't
have a skin color. I wore black, all black, all over. And his hands were golden
tan since summer was just around the corner.
"What do you mean 'what?' You know what," Matt snapped back and pushed
closer. "I saw you eyeing me up in the cafeteria today. You don't eat. You don't
think I know what that's about. You trying to be all skinny for me? You think it
makes me hot?"
One of his hands slid to the back of my neck and filtered through my long
black hair before it rested on the curve of my back. He pulled me close, off the
lockers, and bent to whisper in the crook of my neck, "You just breathe and I
think it's hot. Right, baby? Do I do it for you too?"
I glanced over his shoulder, felt my brother's approach, and whispered
seductively, "Maybe if you died."
Matt tensed and then shoved me against the locker again. As my head hit the
metal, I saw Kellan rip Matt away to hurl him against the next locker.
It was odd. I never saw Kellan's approach, but I always felt him. Just like
he always felt when I needed him.
I watched, casually, as Kellan threw Matt against another locker, snarl
something in his ear, and rear back to throw a punch. I felt the crunch of bone
more than I heard it and I knew that my brother had just broken another
As a teacher rounded the corner, Matt rushed around the other corner. No one
wanted to get the Bradens in trouble.
"Kellan and Shay Braden. Why is it always you two? And if it's not the two of
you, it's your other two siblings? All the time." Mr. Mirchak approached,
shaking his head. "Who'd you fight this time, Kellan?"
I should've felt something, maybe remorse, but there was nothing. Matt had
assaulted me. Kellan felt it and protected me. And if Matt chose to run away,
then that was Matt's decision. But still…I should've felt guilty.
Kellan drew to his full height of six one and squared his lithely lean
shoulders against the portly forty-something teacher. He shook his head,
gracefully, and drawled, "Do you see anyone, Mr. Mirchak?"
The balding teacher shook his head in aggrieved resignation and muttered, "I
never see anyone, Kellan. That's the problem. But I know that someone's going to
show up with a busted eye, maybe a shoulder. I don't know, but there's always
something." He turned away, but mumbled over his shoulder, "…too damn scared to
say a thing…"
Kellan waited until the teacher had turned the corner before he flashed a
smile, "What do you think?"
I rolled my eyes and kicked my locker open, "You didn't have to break his
"Right." Kellan fell against the locker beside mine and studied me intently.
"At least this way, he'll shut up all the time. I'm getting tired of his smart
mouth. The guy thinks he knows you too much. He doesn't know anything."
"Still…" I muttered as I bent inside to grab my book.
"Still," Kellan mimicked me and yanked me out. "Why didn't you do something,
"What are you talk—"
"Don't. Not with me," Kellan interrupted, severely. "You could've stopped him
long before I came around the corner. You knew I was coming. Why didn't you stop
"Maybe I wanted to hear his rhetoric on how hot I must be for him."
"Don't be funny, Shay. You're not the funny one, remember."
I smirked, "That's funny. I don't think that role's been taken in
Kellan's hand tightened on my arm. He pulled me closer and bent his head to
my ear. "You always wait for me. Why?"
Maybe I couldn't bring myself to do what he enjoyed. Maybe I liked knowing
he'd always protect me or that someone would protect me. Maybe….maybe I enjoyed
the sick pleasure knowing that someone like Matt could never really hurt me,
though he didn't know that fact. Or maybe…I whispered, hoarsely, "I don't know,
And I didn't know. I had ideas. I had possible scenarios, but the only truth
was that I could've easily broken Matt's hold on me and that I didn't.
"It's done, I guess. No harm." He caught my swift look and amended, "No harm
"That's better." I grinned. I eyed the book in my hand.
"Are you going to class?"
"I dunno." I should. I was the 'good' student in our family, but there was
something tempting about the summer wind. Living in Minnesota made it difficult
to stay away from the summer lakes. The water always beckoned…
"Vespar just texted me. He and Guiseppe are heading to the river," Kellan
commented as a bell rang. The doors burst open and all our classmates streamed
into the hallway.
I always forgot the last period was a short period during our last week.
"Decision made," Kellan grunted and grabbed my bag for me. As he threw it
over his shoulder and stood upright, I watched as all the students streamed
around us. Matt was one of the few that braved an encounter with us. He was the
top of his food chain so he felt it was his duty. I understood that, but the
truth was that no one would dare stand against Kellan. And if not Kellan, than
Vespar was just as formidable.
The Braden siblings were famous in our little community of Poehler, but not
really known—by anyone.
When I caught the wolfish looks from some girls on the yearbook committee, I
taunted, "Leah still hasn't gotten her clutches in you? I'm surprised, brother
dearie. She's been giving you the look since last summer."
Kellan rubbed his jaw, thoughtfully, but his eyes were intent on me. He
remarked as he ran a brisk hand over his blonde buzzcut, "She's got nothing new
that I want. I've been inside of her too many times. I'm getting tired of
My eyebrows arched at that and I whistled, "What happened to 'kiss and never
tell'? I didn't think you were the type." But Kellan was the type. He didn't
give a damn, not when it was over. He'd spew anything I wanted to hear and he'd
only spew it to me.
Kellan shrugged, "Let's go. We've got only a few hours before the sun's
I sighed. I loved the summer. I loved the water. But I also knew what my
siblings would do when the sun went down. And I wasn't really up for that.
Besides…my fingers were itching to feel the painter's brush between them. And I
had a tingle in my back. I always knew to heed that tingle when it came on.
"I'm gonna opt out. I've got things to do," I tried for casual, but Kellan
shot me a dark look. I waited, tensely, for him to question my decision. I'd
tell him if it came to it, but my time in the painting studio had been my
private time up to now…I didn't want him to ask what 'things' I had to do. I
wasn't ready to share that with anyone, even my brother who'd broken another jaw
Relieved, I stood there as Kellan raked one more scrutinizing look over me
before he turned and left. It was remarkable to watch everyone instinctually
move aside for him. And it wasn't because of his rakish good looks. Although
that helped. Kellan, Guiseppe, and Vespar were all tall with the blonde
goodlooks they inherited from our mother.
Not me. I stood a couple inches below them with black night hair that teased
just below my shoulder blades. Guiseppe had a long mane of golden tendrils. They
were just wavy enough to give her a whole goddess look. Not my hair. It was
straight black, but it seemed to sparkle underneath the right light. Kellan
always said that it seemed to lure the guys in.
It seemed to have lured Matt Rettley in, but Kellan was right. I hadn't met a
guy that I couldn't handle. It was just if I chose to handle them or not. It
drove Kellan crazy. Not Vespar. He just sniffed and marched the other way.
Secretly, I wondered if Vespar was a little jealous of my closeness with Kellan.
But then again, Vespar and Guiseppe had formed their own clique in our
That was us, the Bradens. Gorgeous, mysterious, and a little
And as I turned to head towards the art studio, I wasn't immune to how the
same students moved for me too.
"You've come to grace the studio walls?" My art teacher, Mrs. Ullen, smiled
graciously as she swept open the door.
I stepped inside and took in the new paintings that decorated the art
"They're nice. Whose are they?" Each painting was done by a student. I
recognized a few handiworks. Some were roughly outlined while others were
intricately given a detailed swoosh of the hand. The paintings were of animals,
sports, and even balloons. I perused each of them as Mrs. Ullen waited in
silence. She walked beside me, her arms crossed over her chest, wearing a
billowy dress that seemed to dwarf her tiny frame.
And then I paused at the end of the room. A handful of paintings were hung.
Each of them were bold, dark, and encased a chilling image of a demon. Each
black form had two red eyes that sent chills down my spine. I almost felt the
fire that was reflected from the demon's hell. And the very last took my breath
away. It was the same demon, but this time a slight slant had been given to the
eyes so that it looked…my eyes widened as I realized the implication. I turned
sharply and rasped out, "Who did these?"
Mrs. Ullen's smile never faltered, but I caught the slight tensing around her
eyes. She swept a hand toward the graying bun her hair was loosely pulled into
and she mused, "You don't like them?"
They were beautifully done. It wasn't my issue. I demanded, "Who did these?
Who did this one specifically?"
Mrs. Ullen didn't need to look. She knew which one I meant and she sighed her
surrender, "These didn't come from a student here, Shay. I hung these two weeks
ago. It's been awhile since your last visit here."
I didn't visit. I painted. And I knew there was a reason why Mrs. Ullen
wanted me to study the paintings.
"I want you to take the last painting down," I demanded.
"Shay, really. I don't understand…" And then her eyes caught and held on the
last painting. I saw the realization before I heard the swift intake of
"That last one looks like Kellan. I want it taken down and I want to know who
"I'd like to paint, Mrs. Ullen. I'd like for you to keep selling my portraits
in your store, but I really don't want that painting hung on that wall. And I
really want to know who's the artist."
Mrs. Ullen looked flabbergasted. And no wonder. I usually came into the art
room, perused through the pieces she displayed that week, and then I always
quietly went into the studio room that was kept locked. Mrs. Ullen had taken
note of my talent early in elementary school. She had proclaimed my doodles as
masterpieces and then introduced me to a blank painting canvas. The relationship
had been cemented that day.
I painted whenever I wanted. And she sold them in her private store.
No one knew except the two of us. It was respected by both, but this was the
first time I'd spoken against my collaborator.
"Oh dear, of course. I didn't even notice—but then again, you always see what
I cannot. I'm sure the artist didn't intend anything by the painting. It's a
total and accidental coincidence. I'm sure of this, Shay. I'm so sure of this.
Of course, I'll take the painting down. I know how close you are with your
As she hurriedly moved forward to unhinge the painting, I tried to calm
myself. I didn't care if it was accidental or not. Something fierce and angry
burned inside of me at the idea of a demonic portrait of Kellan…though it might
be true at times.
"There you go, Shay. It's down. I'll keep it behind the desk, covered, until
he arrives for his paintings again. I'm so sorry again, Shay honey. I'm sure
your brother isn't even…" But her voice trailed off when our eyes met. Everyone
knew Kellan's reputation and it wasn't an angelic one.
"Still," she cleared her throat. "I'm sorry again, Shay. Did you come in to
paint this evening?"
I nodded, mutely, and still a little shaken from the fierceness I'd felt over
"I'll unlock the door for you, Shay honey. You know how to leave the school
if you stay late. And with that, I'll leave you alone." She hustled out of the
room and I heard the click of the studio door unlocking a moment later. When I
heard her approach, I quickly moved to the second door and timed it so that I
exited the room as she re-entered.
And then I was in the empty hallway, still shaken, but the tingle urged me
ahead. It was stronger than it had ever been before and I quickly moved to the
studio door. I swished through and breathed in freedom as it locked shut behind
me. That was when I turned and surveyed the room.
Three empty canvases were perched on easels.
And I forgot everything else.