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I Dare You (Dare #1)
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What do you do when the devil has you in his sights?
You show him that you can play his game.
Austin Lowes is new to town. She’s running from a mom who hates her to her dad who cares nothing about her. Only a few months and she will be free, or at least, that’s what she hopes … until she meets him.
Cole Reynolds is the devil disguised as a man. He wants her fear, he wants her blood, and he wants her soul.
Just a little game, he says, I dare you.
Will Austin survive him, or will she lose herself and the game?
Secrets are revealed and justice will be served, but at what cost?
Who survives and who doesn’t?
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Have you ever been to a funeral where the preacher stands before the friends and loved ones of the deceased and talks about how shitty the person was? How he fucked around on his wife? Or spent his family’s life savings to feed his gambling addiction? How about during his bachelor party when he snorted coke off a hooker’s ass?
Why is it that we’re fucking saints the moment we die?
You hear the preacher say things like, “Oh, John Smith was a lovely man who loved his wife and kids,” when he should really be saying, “John Smith was a worthless piece of shit who fucked the underage babysitter every chance he fucking got while his wife was busy working two jobs and raising his ungrateful children.”
And let’s not forget that the deceased in that casket before you never even went to church. Let alone knew the preacher who speaks so highly of him. All he knows are the stories the blinded loved ones wrote down on a little card for him to share.
He’s a fucking puppet.
Now, I haven’t read the Bible word for word, but I know the Lord says if we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, he will cleanse our souls, and we will be forgiven.
Poof. It’s like magic.
Now that begs the question–what if you’re not sorry? What if you don’t care to be forgiven?
No amount of holy water could cleanse my soul, and I’m okay with that because when I sinned, I understood that I would one day have to pay. We’re all going to die eventually. You can be one of those people who bury your head in the sand to avoid talking about it all you want, but it’s life!
Live or die.
Heaven or hell.
Angel or devil.
It’s black and white. There are no gray areas.
So tell me … when you’re lying in that casket in front of your friends and family, what are they going to think of you? Are they gonna believe that preacher who talks bullshit, or are they gonna know you didn’t care if you were going to burn for eternity?
Now, I’m not a religious person. Obviously. But I do know this. When I am damned to hell, it’ll be because I fucking earned it.
I look up at the dark, cloudy sky. It’s officially a new year. January first. Some would consider it a chance for a new beginning, but I’m not like most people. The sun set hours ago, but I stayed out here in the heated pool, trying to clear my mind. But like always, it’s a mess. Constantly reminding me of that day. A day that took so much from me … as if I had it to give.
I stand at the bar in the kitchen next to my friends Eli and Landen. Maddox, our other friend, stands across from us.
“Go on. Take it,” I taunt Maddox, looking down at the stopwatch on my phone.
He lets out a long breath and throws back the shot.
“Five,” I count, and everyone in the room shouts and applauds him.
“Fuck, man.” He gasps for air. He places his palms on the bar and bows his head. “You wouldn’t think that would be that hard.”
Eli laughs beside me. “You’re such a fucking pussy.”
“Let’s see you do five shots of Crown.”
Eli waves him off like it’s nothing.
“In one minute,” Maddox adds.
Eli rolls up his sleeves. “Line ’em up.”
A raindrop falls on my face, and I roll over onto my stomach and dive to the bottom of the pool. I sit here and just enjoy the silence. Trying to forget. They always come back to me, though. Like ghosts. They haunt me, reminding me I failed them.
I let out a long breath and watch the bubbles float up to the surface. Closing my eyes, I fist my hands, feeling that tightness in my chest at the need for air. I hold out just a little longer.
Something hits my arm, and I open my eyes to see it’s a diving ring. I place my feet on the bottom and shoot up, sucking in a deep breath when I hit the cold night air.
I see my best friend Deke standing by the lounge chair and table. The white umbrella from the table shields him from the rain.
“We’re ready,” he says, placing his hands in the pockets of his black jeans.
I swim over to the side of the pool and climb out. Grabbing the towel off the table, I wrap it around my hips. “Where are the guys?” I ask.
“Meeting us there.”
I nod and run a hand through my spiked hair to knock the water out of it.
Deke looks over at the dark pool. “How is your shoulder?”
“Fine,” I lie. It always hurts, but I’ve learned to live with the pain.
He nods as if he believes me. He doesn’t. “Kellan doesn’t like your plan.”