Andrew knocked on her door softly. “Selena?” he called as he pushed it open.
“Come in,” she answered as she turned around from the window and faced him.
“How are you feeling?” he asked as he walked to her and sat next to her on the bed.
She shrugged. “Tired, but at the same time, I’m not. I really just don’t want to stay in the house anymore right now. Maybe we could go for a walk or do something else today?”
Andrew smiled. “We could go for a walk. And maybe we could go back to Rose Manor and see if Shadoe’s secret hideaway is still out there. But only if you’re feeling up to it.”
Selena looked away from him back out the window, her hand resting on her mom’s picture in her lap. “Why not? It’s not that far from your house, and it’ll be an adventure.”
“Are you sure you’re feeling okay? Yesterday, you were completely against anything that had to do with Shadoe and the Rose Manor. What changed that?”
Selena held up the picture of her mom. “She did. I want to know what she saw and why she did what she did. I need answers, Andrew, and since she’s not here to give them to me, maybe I can find them on my own at the Rose Manor.”
Andrew nodded. “Are you ready to go?”
Selena laughed. “Right, because I’m definitely going to go hiking through the woods in sweats and an old t-shirt. Give me five minutes to change.”
“I think hiking in what you’re wearing is just fine,” Andrew said.
Selena shook her head and pushed him off her bed. “Go and let me change.”
Reluctantly, Andrew stood and walked back out of her room, closing the door behind him. Selena set her mom’s picture back in its place on her nightstand and walked to her dresser to find a pair of jeans. As she opened the drawer, her door slowly opened behind her.
“Go away, Andrew. I’ll come back down when I’m done.”
Soft laughter that didn’t belong to her boyfriend drifted across the air.
Selena dropped the jeans in her hand and quickly turned around. “Who’s there?”
Laughter sounded again, and grey-white smoke began to trickle under the door, slowly gaining substance and form the further it came into her room. Her mom’s picture flew off the nightstand and into the mass of smoke, which was slowly starting to gain height. Charlotte’s book followed the picture into the smoke.
The smoke divided into two figures, one tall and slender with dark brown hair and glittering eyes. Charlotte.
The other form was more familiar, too short to be considered tall, and too tall to be considered short, with black wavy hair and blue eyes. Selena’s picture was clutched tightly in its fist.
Selena’s eyes went between Charlotte and her mom.
“I told you she wouldn’t care if you came back, Annika. She’s just a selfish child like that, now aren’t you, Selena?” Charlotte asked as she stepped forward and traced Selena’s face mockingly.
Selena jerked back. “Don’t touch me.”
Charlotte smiled. “So much fire in you. Shadoe will like that.”
Annika frowned. “You said you wouldn’t hurt my daughter, Charlotte. You promised you wouldn’t hurt her.”
Charlotte nodded, not taking her empty eyes from Selena’s face. “Sadly, you’re right. And I don’t like breaking promises. But I won’t be hurting her. And Shadoe won’t be hurting her either, just as long as she cooperates with Shadoe.”
“What about Shadoe? And cooperate with what? I’m not doing anything with or for any of you,” Selena said quickly.
Charlotte smirked and turned to Annika. “I can bring your mother back to life. I can give her back to you and make your father completely forget that he ever knew me. I know that’s something you want, Selena.”
“Don’t listen to her, Selena! She’s lying. There’s no way to bring me back, I made my choice years ago, you know that. There’s no hope for me to come back,” Annika said, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
Charlotte reached out and caressed Annika’s face, leaving behind bloody furrows from her sharp nails. “Don’t mislead the poor child, haven’t you done enough damage? After all, it was you who called Lucifer all those years ago and sold your soul to him. Now tell me, what kind of mother does that to her daughter? What kind of mother leaves her daughter when she needs her most?”
Annika turned away, tears trickling down her face. “Don’t accept anything she offers you, Selena. The hell I’ve been living in for so long isn’t worth it at all. I named you Selena because it means moon goddess, and you were always the faint light of hope for me in the hell I created for myself. Don’t let your light go out.”
Charlotte’s pretty face distorted with a sneer and she angrily clawed through the smoke where Annika had been standing. “You have no choice, Selena. This is what Lucifer wants, and this is what He shall get.”
Charlotte moved her arm, and Selena was pinned against the wall by thick vines of smoke. Selena pulled against the vine pressed into her throat, but it wouldn’t move.
Behind Charlotte, Shadoe Rose and the demon that attacked Selena in her dream last night materialized out of the smoke.
“Here is your new vessel, Shadoe. Use her body as you will,” Charlotte offered.
“God, save me!” Selena hissed, using the last bit of air in her body.
“Call louder, God may hear you yet,” Shadoe hissed. “But He won’t be able to save you.”
Shadoe’s pale face and burning blue eyes filled Selena’s vision, and then she blacked out. The demon and Charlotte slowly faded back into the smoke, which then slowly writhed back out of the room, leaving Selena’s body land back on the floor. Selena stood and opened her eyes, which now glowed the same burning blue as Shadoe’s.