Sarwat Chadda: Devil’s Kiss

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Sarwat Chadda Devil’s Kiss
  • Название:
    Devil’s Kiss
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  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Devil’s Kiss: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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There's Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself…And Billi SanGreal. As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order's ancient battle against the Unholy. Billi's cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to reclaim his place in Billi's life, but she's met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart. But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years – a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London 's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

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‘Yeah, we mind a lot, SanGreal. Why they haven’t expelled you by now I don’t know. Doesn’t say much for the standards in this school that they let the likes of you in.’ She looked Billi up and down. ‘I mean, even the other weirdos here don’t want anything to do with you.’

‘Have you met her dad? Not surprising she’s turned out this way,’ said Katie.

Jane smiled. ‘Is it true, SanGreal? That your dad killed your mum? Cut her neck wide -’

Billi’s tray clattered on the hard wooden floor, the sharp noise instantly quietening all the background hubbub. As one, the hall fell silent.

They still believed that old lie, that her dad had murdered her mother. But then would they believe the truth? That she’d been killed by ghuls, the Hungry Dead? That she’d died protecting Billi, bloody handprints smeared over her bedroom door where she’d been hidden? No, they’d never believe that truth.

‘What did you say?’ asked Billi. Her question was barely above a whisper. Her hands free, they curled themselves into tight, solid fists. In the silence Billi’s breathing seemed loud and she could hear the blood thundering in her ears. ‘Sorry, Jane, I didn’t quite catch that.’ She spoke slowly, pronouncing every word. She assessed Jane’s features, not as a seamless whole, but as an assembly of disjointed, breakable parts. The nose, the teeth, the jaw. It would be so easy.

Katie and Michelle took a small step away from Jane, sensing the threat of violence radiating from Billi. The hall, silent already, now stopped breathing. Jane’s hands trembled, but she braced herself against the table, her nails, dark polished red, dug into the shiny white Formica surface.

‘Billi!’

Billi spun at the shout as a pair of arms wrapped themselves round her. She tried to free herself, but all she could make out was a thick mass of silvery-blonde hair as the person embraced her. She finally pushed him off.

‘Miss me?’ the boy asked. He was tall, knife-lean and albino white. Any paler and she’d have had to have staked him.

‘Kay?’

He winked.

Billi stepped back. It couldn’t be. He’d been such a scrawny bag of bones when he’d left. There were the wispy beginnings of a beard collected on his chin, and his white lashes peeled back to reveal bright sapphire-blue eyes.

‘Look who’s back, the Thin White Puke,’ butted in Jane. Kay turned towards her.

‘Jane, what an unpleasant surprise.’ He frowned. ‘You put on weight?’

Jane went white. It was probably the most insulting thing anyone could say to her.

The frown twisted into a cruel smile. ‘A few pregnancy pounds, around the hips.’

‘What?’ gasped Jane, groping her belly. Katie and Michelle leaned closer. So did the six other pupils at the nearest table. This sounded good.

Kay continued. ‘It’s Dave Fletcher, isn’t it?’

Jane backed away, knocking over a plate of beans and mashed potato. The slimy orange sauce covered her skirt, and slid slowly down her black tights, smearing them in grease. Kay held out his hand.

‘Congratulations. You’ll make a beautiful couple.’

Jane screamed and ran. Katie and Michelle stared open mouthed, then turned and ran after her. There was a long silence, then the hall erupted. Jane Mulville was pregnant!

Kay bent down to retrieve Billi’s sandwich.

‘She’s really going to have a kid?’ she asked.

‘In a few months.’ He handed over the slightly dented packet. ‘Care to join me?’

He acts like he’s never been away.

Kay shrugged.

‘But now I’m back.’ He turned and walked towards a table in the corner of the hall.

Billi bit her lip. Stupid mistake. Kay wasn’t just a Templar, he was an Oracle.

A psychic. Reading minds was the least of his abilities.

Billi emptied out enough change for her meal then followed Kay, painfully aware that the entire hall was watching her. The tray clattered on the table and she dragged out the chair opposite Kay. ‘Didn’t anyone tell you it’s rude to peek?’ she said.

‘You never answered my question, Billi.’

‘What question?’

‘Did you miss me?’

‘A year, Kay.’ Billi didn’t look up from her meal; it was the only way she’d keep her temper. ‘And did you even once try to get in touch?’

‘Billi, you know why Arthur sent me to Jerusalem.’ His lips tightened before he spoke. ‘I had to learn how to control my abilities.’

‘And it took every waking minute? Why? Were you in the retard class?’ Billi ripped open the packet. The sandwich looked even more lifeless. She sighed. ‘No. I haven’t missed you. You might be surprised to learn the universe doesn’t actually revolve around you.’

Billi chewed the limp bread. Yummy; cardboard flavour. ‘When did you get back?’

‘Few days ago.’

‘And you didn’t bother to tell me?’

‘I had work to do. For Arthur.’

So even her dad hadn’t told her.

‘Once, Kay, us being friends was more important than us being Templars.’ Billi raised her gaze from her food to Kay. He had changed, and not for the better.

Bloody Kay, she thought.

He stood up.

‘Same old Billi,’ Kay said.

4

That evening Billi marched up the steps to Father Balin’s house. So Kay was back. So she wouldn’t have to sit by herself in class any more. Big deal. She’d managed the last twelve months just fine without him.

To think they’d found Kay through social services. She remembered him arriving, just before her training had begun. A stick insect of a boy, all nerves and jumping at shadows, nightmares every night and talking to things that weren’t there, or at least things normal people couldn’t see. And the fits that he could never remember, spouting out all sorts of gibberish in God knows what languages. He’d freaked her out big-time telling her about the ghosts he’d spoken to. In her bedroom. No wonder he’d been palmed off from one foster home to another. But that wasn’t unusual. Powerful psychics always had disturbed childhoods – visions, poltergeist activity, strange apparitions – it would spook most families. Unless taught how to harness their powers they’d eventually be driven mad. How many potential Oracles had the Templars lost over the years? How many had ended their days screaming in asylums, the voices in their heads drowning out their own thoughts?

Father Balin lived in Chaplain’s House, an elegant Georgian building with whitewashed walls, guarded by a tall black railing fence, immediately adjacent to Temple Church. Billi walked along the garden path, between two lines of rose bushes and knocked on the black-painted door. The smell of garlic and roasting peppers breezed over her the moment it opened. Father Balin smiled as he saw her.

‘Italian tonight?’ asked Billi. ‘What’s the special occasion?’ Like she didn’t know. She’d survived her Ordeal and just got a box of chocolates. Kay’d come back from a year’s holiday and they were throwing a party.

‘Miss SanGreal. I’d been wondering when you’d turn up.’ The old man stepped aside. ‘Kay’s here.’

‘I know.’

Balin perched his glasses on his high bald head. He was the Templars’ public face. As priest of the Temple Church he performed all the normal services and mundane operations. His official title was the Right and Reverend Master of the Temple, but to the knights he was their chaplain, in charge of religious duties.

‘Thought you’d be more pleased than that, Bilqis.’ Only Balin used her proper Islamic name.

The noise of rattling pans, plates and cutlery came out from the kitchen. Percy came into the hallway carrying a bowl of steaming spaghetti. He winked at her before ducking his head under the chandelier and entering the dining room to the sound of chatter and further rattling. Billi followed him in.

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