The Revelation of Light and Dark (Chronicles of the Stone Veil #1) by Sawyer Bennett

PROLOGUE




Finley


Throughout my life, I never gave much thought about whether evil truly exists. It’s an abstract concept at best, an all too easily applied label at worst. I once took a philosophy course in college about the concept of evil, and I came out of it still not understanding a damn thing.

Is there true evil—like a malevolent spirit within the soul—or do people just do really bad things? After all, evil is the opposite of what is good and moral. Is evil a religious concept or an excuse to justify actions we can’t understand?

I couldn’t figure it out in college, and I never gave it much thought for many years after. But as I stand here next to this gorgeous man who has me tied up in knots—figuratively, not literally—I can see that evil actually has a face.

Something I can readily identify.

Hell, I could touch it if I wanted to, but I don’t want to at all. I want to run so very far away.

The man beside me stands quiet, watching me as I watch evil, and my heart weeps. But I can’t turn to him for comfort because he’s not a kind person. If I were to show weakness—that I’m scared shitless right at this moment—he’d sneer and walk away.

Possibly forever, and despite how much he confuses me on any given day, he’s the only one who can see me through to salvation.

I’m just an ordinary woman and this should not be happening to me.

Ordinary is, of course, subjective. To me, it means living a moderately pleasant life in Seattle, the city where I was born and raised. I own a business, have friends, and I pay my bills. I date with no expectations. If the perfect man comes along, that’s awesome. If he doesn’t, well, that’s okay, too. Life is easy and uncomplicated, which is how I like it.

But that was then.

This is now.

Now, I can see evil and somehow, it’s fallen upon my shoulders to confront it.

I dare to look away, just for a moment, to the man beside me. It’s necessary to tip my head back just to catch his eyes.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say they were the lightest of browns because some days they’re pots of molten gold and others—when he’s exhibiting strong emotion—they shadow to dark amber. Despite the warmth of the color, they are hard and unyielding as they meet mine, and I usually get a cold chill when he stares at me.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” he asks in a guttural voice, his gaze cutting back across the space to what I had just been looking at with horror.

“Yes,” I manage to whisper, my throat all but closed off from fear and confusion.

“Fucking hell,” he murmurs in that calm, cultured tone that he could absolutely use as a weapon of seduction if he thought to do so.

Fucking hell, indeed.





CHAPTER 1




Finley


5 Weeks Earlier

Opening my bedroom blinds, I glance outside. It’s a glorious morning in Seattle with blue skies peeking through clouds that are white and fluffy on top, and flat as pancakes with a touch of gray underneath. That may or may not mean rain, but I don’t need to look at the forecast. I always carry an umbrella attached to my backpack because rain is a fact of life in the Pacific Northwest.

My eyes catch on my neighbor, Mr. Pelman, as he rolls his garbage can out to the curb for collection. He’s old and stooped and I should really offer to do it for him, but I don’t.

It’s not that I’m a rotten or uncaring person. On the contrary, I try to help anyone I can—my weakness is handing out money to the Seattle homeless whenever I have some on hand. But Mr. Pelman happens to be one of “those” and being in his presence for too long or staring at him too hard causes bad things to happen, and my neuroses will go into overdrive. I’ve worked far too hard to get my mental health in a good place, and I take great care to avoid any of “those” that threaten to make me unstable again.

My father would be proud of me, accomplishing that which he could not. His mental health issues ultimately led to his demise.

I take an extra moment to let my gaze roam my neighborhood, avoiding Mr. Pelman. It’s a mishmash of different types of small houses with tiny yards. There are no sidewalks, the grass growing right to the edge of the road, and most of the driveways are pea gravel. It’s been my ’hood since the day I was born almost twenty-eight years ago, and I was literally born in this house, right on my parents’ bed. Situated on the northwest side of the city within spitting distance of the Puget Sound, I’m sandwiched between the Broadview and Bitterlake neighborhoods on a street filled with rhodie bushes and tall evergreens.