NOTE: This book was previously published and all rights reverted to back to author Gracen Miller. Pandora's Box has received a new cover, four new chapters, and the book has been re-edited, but it is ultimately the same book that was published in August 2011. **WARNING -- ENDS IN A CLIFFHANGER**
Where does the road to Hell begin?
What happens when your son turns homicidal overnight and your husband disappears on his way to work? Do you cower in fear or fight for your life? Madison Wescott fights against the odds. Distrustful of a God she doesn’t believe in, she finds herself face-to-face with a world she didn’t know existed and discovers her own soul is darkened with demonic connections.
With good intentions? Or by demonic design?
Phoenix Birmingham bursts into Madison’s life in a whirlwind of sarcasm and sexual appeal. A hero for the masses—and for her jaded heart—but few will ever know the sacrifices he has made or the sacrifices to come. Discovering her entire life has been influenced by multifaceted paranormal beings, Madison is determined to defeat the apocalyptic blueprint fate has decreed, but only one man dares to challenge the supernatural forces manipulating them. Even with Phoenix’s aid, can destiny be denied? Or will demonic design prevail while they pay the crucial price with their souls?
In a small, sleepy Alabama town the battle for mankind’s liberty has begun...
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What the fuck?
A mixture of disbelief and irritation rattled through Madison Wescott. She considered her son, Amos. The doctor looked on as if he hadn’t just delivered the most screwed-up diagnosis she’d ever received. Adamant denial surged in the form of a pounding headache.
“What?” She couldn’t have heard him right.
“Ms. Wescott, all the tests came back normal.” The physician’s placating voice did nothing to soothe her. He scratched his chin, and his eyes gleamed as if her child’s abnormal symptoms captivated him. That possibility pissed her off. Her fingers tingled to whack him with her purse, but she managed to resist the impulse. “Everything except the anomaly with his blood.” He scrunched his features as if the abnormality still perplexed him. “Fascin—”
When his glance landed on her hands twisting into tight fists in her lap, a flash of wariness became evident in his ordinary brown eyes. His insensitive choice of words made her want to put her fist in his eye. There was nothing fascinating about the situation her child was in. She settled on giving him a contemptuous glare.
The doctor cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple bobbing, she guessed from nerves after his tactless blunder.
His bedside manner needs lots of work. She should complain, but knew she wouldn’t take the time. She had bigger problems than his inconsideration.
Failing to meet her gaze, he continued. “Otherwise, I can assure you there is nothing physically wrong with him.”
“Just psychologically?” she drawled with enough sarcasm to intimidate a heavyweight boxer.
“With the right psychiatrist and medication…Um…”
She would not drug her child into a zombie state so everyone could cope with his condition. He was already a zombie without medication.
“We think—” so refreshing the doctor only thought and didn’t have a damn solid answer, “—he can live a relatively normal life with medication.”
“Relatively?” she echoed, baffled at how the doctor could think his diagnosis would make her feel better.
“Dissociative Identity Disorders are not the end of the world, Ms. Wescott.”
Dissociative Identity Disorder my ass! The new feel-good medical terminology for multiple personalities did not make her feel good at all. Something else plagued her child. Putting a nice, neat, medical nametag on the disorder didn’t alter the diagnosis or make her feel any freaking better.
Although… She stared at her son. He sat on the table, his legs swishing back and forth like any high-energy child. Amos glared at the doctor with enough malice blazing from his baby blue eyes to send shivers of uneasy dread scuttling up her spine. Yeah, she couldn’t deny something was amiss, but she trusted her gut, and it said something more than Multiple Personality Disorder troubled him.
Two months ago, he’d been a happy, healthy, normal child. He’d giggled often and adored his feline and canine companions. The next day, he’d been mute and homicidal.
He snapped the cat’s neck the first week of the change, receiving multiple scratches before he managed feline murder. Five years old, and he displayed a marked increase in strength. Explaining the violent incident in the emergency room would have been difficult in the best scenarios. She endured hostile glances from the medical personnel, certain they whispered about her being a bad mother. She read the silent warning in their eyes and knew Social Services would be called if it happened again. If she thought they would help, she’d call them herself. Either way, she didn’t want or need a repeat performance of the event ever again.
The dog came next. Amos sliced and diced her with a kitchen carving knife, and Madison had no idea how or when he procured the weapon. She left him playing alone in the fenced-in backyard long enough to pour a glass of iced tea, couldn’t have been more than five minutes at most. When she returned, she found him and the dog on the back porch. Blood everywhere. Amos’s blond hair had been speckled with the stuff, his pale face splotched red, and his hands coated to his elbows like he’d used the blood as lotion. The clothes on his chest blossomed with the substance, as if he’d wallowed in the sanguine fluid. The smile on his face…her hands trembled at the memory. She’d choked on a scream and retched over the side of the railing until she could do nothing more than dry heave.
Amos had caught a fly, and she’d been amazed at his quick reflexes. Afterward, he tortured it, holding it steady with his fingers while he pulled off its legs before moving on to those fragile wings. Stunned by his ability to inflict torture without emotion, she’d stood immobile until the last moment when she’d slapped the insect out of his hand. Those horrible incidences heralded the beginning of his atrocities.
Twice he’d tried to stab her, slicing her upper thigh the second time. As she stitched the wound herself, she contemplated what she’d done wrong when she hid all the knives on the top shelf of her bedroom closet. How had Amos reached them? When the gash turned an angry shade of red, she worried about infection. She’d slathered the wound with antibiotic ointment, added warm, salty compresses, and luckily, the cut healed after two months. Still tender, she would wear the ragged scar of her son’s attack for the remainder of her life, but she refused to give up on him, or allow anyone to know the total truth of his ferocity. The protective instincts of motherhood had kicked in. Nothing on earth could force her to betray him.
He’d kicked, scratched, and bitten her more times than she could count. When each violent episode ceased—sometimes he snapped out of it in the middle of the rage—he would collapse in her arms. Often, he dropped into a coma-like sleep. Other times, he sobbed until exhausted sleep claimed him. His heartbreak broke her heart.
The doctor didn’t seem to notice her distress—just as well—and continued in his patronizing tone. “This disorder always involves some sort of trauma, Ms. Wescott. Your frank honesty can help us determine the trigger and proceed accordingly.”
She ground her teeth hard. “Nothing has changed in his life.”
Shortly after Amos turned two, her husband walked out the door. Not a word from him in the three years since. In those ensuing years, they moved through the routine of normal life and birthdays without his father.
“I’m sure if you would consider—”
“Enough!” The doctor flinched as Madison came to her feet with a snap. She sent him a hostile glare, snatched up her purse, and held her hand out to Amos. “Let’s go, baby.”
Amos pushed off the examination table while the doctor’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. Her son smiled at him, his docile expression still somehow reeking of evil intent. It creeped her out when her baby gave such an iniquitous, yet smug glare. She couldn’t explain the expression. Something about his eyes screeched not just evil, but also malevolence.
A pungent aroma that reminded her of rotten eggs assaulted her nostrils. She put a finger to her nose, but nothing helped obliterate the stench. It had become stronger lately. God-awful described the scent perfectly. Madison peered at the doctor. “Do you smell that?”
“Sulfur,” he whispered, his face pale as rice paper. The doctor gawked at her son. He tossed the chart aside, jumped to his feet, knees popping, and said in a wobbly voice, “Ms. Wescott, I don’t think you should walk out that door.” He stared at Amos, not sparing her a single glance through his statement.
The doctor’s hands shook, and fear parted his mouth. Wondering at his sudden alarm, she peeked at Amos. A fiery orange glow surrounded the outer perimeter of his blue eyes. The color arrived with each of his violent episodes. The child blinked, and the color dissipated.
“We really must put him somewhere we can watch him around the clock and run tests, so we can find out what’s causing his problem.”
Her narrow-eyed gaze snapped to him. “No.” More tests with no answers weren’t an option. As long as she breathed, her son would never become a lab rat. “He does not leave me. Ever.”Anyone who tried to take him would be a dead man.
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Gracen is a hopeless daydreamer masquerading as a “normal” person in southern society. When not writing, she’s a full-time basketball/lacrosse/guitar mom for her two sons and a devoted wife to her real-life hero-husband of over twenty years. She has an unusual relationship with her muse, Dom, but credits all her creative success to his brilliant mind. She’s addicted to writing, paranormal romance novels and movies, Alabama football, and coffee...addictions are not necessarily in order of priority. She’s convinced coffee is nectar from the gods and when blending coffee and writing together it generates the perfect creative merger. Many of her creative worlds are spawned from coffee highs and Dom’s aggressive demands.
To learn more about Gracen or to leave her a comment, visit her website at www.gracen-miller.com.
Gracen is giving away print copies. Click here --> a Rafflecopter giveaway <--click here
Gracen is giving away print copies. Click here --> a Rafflecopter giveaway <--click here
I first read Pandora's Box back in 2012 and fell in love with the book. As a bonus, I've become good friends with author Gracen Miller after I contacted her to tell her how much I loved her work. When there's an awesome author behind and awesome book... it makes it that much sweeter.Pandora's Box by Gracen Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow! When I picked this book up, I thought I would start reading a romance with demonic ties and a human girl, old plots with a battle for ones soul…etc Nope… that’s not what I got. I got SOOOO much more. The story has depth, and it takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride from the first paragraph. I’m in love with this series and any writer who can make you feel empathy for the bad guy, sometimes wanting him to win, has incredible skills.
There is so much going on in this story: Heaven versus Hell, Love versus Hate… anger… passion, all this thrown right in the middle of motherhood! What would you do to protect your child? How far would you let your soul blacken for your baby?
I love the world the story is written around and you get one surprise after the next. On top of all the meat in the story, you have HEAT! Oh, and it burns so sweet. This has become one of my favorite series!
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