Secret Monsters by Lacey Carter Andersen

 

1

Concealing a murder is far more difficult than most people could possibly imagine.

Greg Manthen tapped his pen against his desk, silently seething as he thought about the one thing that might reveal what he had done. The one piece of evidence he hadn’t considered.

It simply needed to be dealt with. And his patience was wearing thin.

Where is it? And what in God’s name is taking so long?

When his assistant, Carson, lightly knocked at his door and entered, he glared at the older man without a word. Most men in Greg’s position would scream their displeasure, but not Greg; he liked to watch his victims squirm.

The short man ran a nervous hand through his white, balding hair and straightened his skewed tie, as if doing so would suddenly make him presentable for someone as important as Greg.

It did not.

“Well?”

“They finished with it,” Carson whispered, then scurried to stand in front of his desk.

Greg raised a brow. “So are you going to show it to me? Or stand there all day?”

His assistant glanced nervously at the door behind him. “There wasn’t much they could decipher… she’d burned the journal almost past recognition.”

Greg slammed his palm angrily on the desk, making the man jump.

Carson set the paper in front of him and took two steps back. “Anything else, sir?”

“No. You’re dismissed.”

He barely heard the door as it closed, grasping the paper and pulling it close with an eagerness that bordered on desperation. His team had deciphered all that remained of Elaina Davens’s journal and typed it neatly on a paper.

Looking at the sheet, he read what little had been found:

They’ve lied to me. About everything. Level 10 demons are no worse than we are. The line between them and the angels is paper-thin.

They’re------ than I ever imagined.

They’ll kill me if they ever discover what I know.

This changes everything.

Greg staredat the paper for far too long before finally setting it down. He’d been right to betray Elaina. She’d discovered the truth. A truth that would have turned their world upside down and destroyed everything.

She had needed to die.

And once I burn this, and the charred remains of her journal, there will be nothing to suggest her death was anything but an accident.

The secret of what he and his team had done would remain a secret forever. There was nobody. No weapon. And no evidence. There was no crime, as far as humankind knew.

He smiled. I actually got away with murder.

* * *

In a demon realm,Elaina hid in a cave, praying to survive another night. This place wasn’t meant for humans. The air was toxic. Low level demons roamed, searching for anything they could feed on, and a human without a weapon, a human too weak to use the powerful spells she’d been taught as a hunter, would be the perfect prey.

And so, she hid in the deadly white powder of the realm, feeling more lost and afraid than she ever had in her life. Death seemed to be hovering above her with a smile, promising her death would be slow. Because as powerful as the demons she loved were, they couldn’t reach her here, no matter how much they might want to. She only had one hope, and it was a slim hope. Her best friend and fellow demon hunter, Sharen, would have to save her.

But Sharen didn’t know where she was.

Sharen didn’t know the truth about demons or the truth about the institute they worked for.

Hell, her best friend might not even know Elaina was alive.

And then, there was the whole divide between them that had grown bigger and bigger. Yeah, Sharen had married an asshole. But Elaina knew she should’ve tried harder to pretend to tolerate the man. Elaina shouldn’t have let that abusive jerk get between them.

Sharen had needed her, and Elaina had failed her. How could she expect her friend to be there for her now?

“It’s your own fault for letting that bastard trick you,” she whispered to herself, her teeth chattering.

In all her times crossing into demon realms, she’d never felt cold before. She didn’t know if that was because when she led her students through the portal, they struck fast and ran, or if it had something to do with the fact that the longer she stayed, the more the poisonous world sickened her.

Is it cold? Is it the sickness?She had no idea.

“A--At least I destroyed the journal,” she whispered to herself, her dry lips cracking as she smiled.

It was the one thing that she’d been able to do before that bastard Greg Manthen had captured her. And as much as it pained her to lose all her journal entries documenting her discovery of the secrets of the demon realm and its connection to the human realm, she was grateful that Greg wouldn’t be able to use it against anyone she loved. Especially her demons.

But even they wouldn’t stay safe forever. Not without her in the human realm with them to guide them. Every moment she spent trapped in this place brought both her and the demons she loved closer to death. She had to escape, no matter the cost.

She curled further around herself, shivering. “Sharen, follow your instincts,” she whispered. “Find out the truth.”

A demon roared in the distance, as if to remind her that all hope was lost.