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The Coldest Game Excerpt:
The screech of a small child being tortured woke Lexa. At least, that was what her alarm sounded like at four in morning. I feel your pain, girlfriend, she muttered under her breath as she swatted the clock before her roommate could growl.
Why? Why did I ever volunteer for the five a.m. shift? Lexa asked herself this every single Friday morning. The answer remained the same. Because I’m an idiot and fell for Ben’s bullshit claim that the morning shift is the most exciting. It wasn’t.
Grabbing her shower basket, she schlepped to the bathroom down the hall. Her choice of shower stalls remained the best thing about this time of day. Ah, dorm life.
After a scalding-hot shower, Lexa returned to her room. She dressed in the dark—jeans, sneakers, and a shapeless navy Penn State hoodie. Twisting her long brown hair into a knot, she tucked it under a navy baseball cap before leaving.
An early November fog blanketed the silent campus. Street lights reflected off the white mist. No one around—the only time Penn State’s main campus was this quiet. It matched her gloomy mood.
She’d been in a funk since Lauren, her younger sister had been killed by a drunk driver over Memorial day weekend. It deepened when Jason, her boyfriend of three years dumped her in September. Now failing thermodynamics, Lexa thought she’d never see daylight again.
Lexa headed toward the Walker Building on the western edge of campus. At least she had her own key now. Last week Ben had forgotten his, and they had botched the forecast in their haste. A couple radio stations had complained. What did they expect anyway? They were getting free weather forecasts from a bunch of student meteorologists after all.
When Lexa cut through West Halls, a strange icy feeling slipped down her spine. The campus was relatively safe, but her imagination conjured up all those horror movies that Jason had dragged her to see.
Perhaps she should have arranged for a security escort—some jock doing his good deed for the day, but she’d never felt unsafe on campus until now. She dismissed her anxiety as a product of her overdramatic imagination.
Just before she entered the short cut between Irvin Hall and Jordan Hall a low anguished growl emanated from the shadows. Logic urged her to run. But she savored the feeling of fear for a moment. Since Lauren’s death, she’d been going through the motions of living, trying to keep the painful storm of grief contained inside her. She felt nothing else.
Lexa lingered a moment too long. A black mass launched from the shadows. She fell back, banging her head on the cement as the heavy beast landed on her chest. In a flash, white pointy teeth dug into her neck. Burning pain squeezed her windpipe closed.
Black and white spots clouded her vision. Then the creature paused. It released her and bounded away as fast as it had appeared. She caught a glimpse of a four legged creature with gray fur stripped with black. A big f-ing dog.
Blood gushed from her throat, soaking the collar of her hoodie. Dizziness and nausea swelled as she explored the ragged skin. A strange concern over the location of her cap floated through her mind before she passed out.
From BEWERE THE NIGHT,
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EDITED BY: EKATERINA SEDIA, PRIME BOOKS, APRIL 2011