Vow of Deception (Deception Trilogy #1) by Rina Kent




Prologue





Death can come in the form of a doppelgänger.

There’s this myth as old as time that says when you meet someone who looks just like you, one of you will die.

Who is the question.

Who would die first? Me or her?

According to the myth, the first to see the other one is bound to meet their end. In the same decade. Same year. Perhaps even the same day.

I lift my trembling hands and stare at the blood coating them, intertwining with my fingers and crawling under my nails.

Oh.

I think this means I saw her first. I made eye contact first.

What bad luck. But I guess I’ve never had the good type. Not when I was born, and certainly not when I was shoved into this life.

My attention remains on the deep crimson covering my hands like a second skin. It’s thick, sticky, and its dark color burns in my head. I rub my palms together to wipe it off, but that doesn’t make it better. If anything, the fresh, warm blood smears further, as if it’s already chosen my hands as a permanent place of residence.

I screw my eyes shut, dragging in sharp intakes of air. The sound is raspy, guttural, grating on the surface of my lungs with long rusty nails.

That’s okay. When I open my eyes, I’ll wake up. This isn’t real. It’s only my wild imagination and my superstition joining forces to torture my mind.

It. Is. Not. Real.

My lids feel like they’ve been glued together when they part from each other.

The blood is still the same—warm, sticky, and almost black due to the lack of light. I clench my fists, my body turning rigid as a taut whip.

Wake up. Wake the fuck up.

My nails dig into my palms, but nothing I do pulls me out. Nothing stops this nasty cycle.

I lift my head and study my surroundings. Savage trees envelop me like a cocoon. They’re so tall that the dark sky is barely visible through the small opening overhead.

Clouds condense over the moon’s silver hue, and I shiver. The thin sweater over my cotton dress barely protects me from the chill.

Feeling the cold should be a good sign, but it isn’t. It’s not a clear indication of whether or not this is real.

The blood on my hands won’t disappear and neither will the tremor shooting through my body.

He is after me.

If he finds me, he’ll kill me.

I squeeze my eyelids together and count aloud, “Three, two, one.”

When I open them again, the trees are the same and so is the chill. The blood is colder now. Thicker. Stickier. Like a demon’s possessing my mind and is starting with my hands.

No.

I dig my nails into the long scar on my wrist and claw at the skin as hard as I can, intending to remove it and peer under it. To see the blood actually flowing, to differentiate this nightmare from reality.

If there’s no pain, then this is not real. It’s only another cruel manifestation of my subconscious and another self-punishment. Soon, it’ll be all over and I’ll wake up, safe and sound.

My skin breaks under the assault of my nails and searing pain explodes on the injury.

My mouth parts and a tear hangs from my lid.

This is real.

This is not a nightmare. I didn’t sleep and wake up in hell. I went there with my own two feet.

No.

No…

My dry lips tremble as a few droplets of blood fall from my wound and join the massacre on my hands.

This much blood can only mean one thing.

I took a life.

My demons finally won.

They’re silent now, not even attempting to whisper those malicious things, those thoughts that have plagued me day and night. They rose in volume, crashing and clawing at the confines of my head until I heard them.

Until I made their wish come true.

“I’m not a murderer. Not a murder…” I murmur the words to myself. Maybe if I keep doing it, I can undo what happened.

Maybe I can go back and change it.

I stare up at the gloomy, bleak sky, tears clinging to my lids. “If there’s someone out there, please let me go back to change it. I’m not this person. Don’t let me be this person. Please…”

Only the howling wind answers me, its sound echoing in the empty forest like vengeful spirits with yellow eyes and gaping mouths.

“P-please…” I beg. “Please stop torturing me with my own self. Please.”

I know my pleas have no effect whatsoever, but it’s the last hope I can hold on to. The last thread that can save me. Because I desperately need saving right now.