The Deadlies by Samantha Combs
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When Calliope Flood catches the unwanted attention of prettiest and most privileged girls at her new school, she learns they are possessed of more than just good ole’ Southern charm; they are also possessed by the demons of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Whether she likes it or not, the Ravens want the pretty new girl to become one of their members. Their club is so secret, only a select few know their truth. As a budding journalist, Callie is more interested in investigating them than joining them. When people begin to disappear, she soon discovers the Ravens aren’t just interested in her for her looks; slowly, she learns she’s a legacy. Calliope enlists her eccentric Aunt, her new friends, and a quietly disarming Southern boy to form their own group, The Virtues, to free the girls, and the town, from the demons that have taken over their lives.
The front of the Holly Hills Academy was imposing. Callie was reminded of antebellum mansions she had seen in magazines featuring Southern architecture. She watched the other students flowing into the building and wondered why they looked so perfect in their uniforms and she looked so out of place. The scratchy plaid skirt and starched white blouse were so unlike what she was used to. She couldn’t ever remember wearing knee-high socks before this. She’d managed to salvage some semblance of her individuality by shunning the ladylike black-patent Mary Janes in favor of her beloved black cowboy boots. They didn’t go at all with the proper look of the girl’s school uniform, but they were much more her style. They made the stiff, itchy monkey suit halfway bearable.
“Hi. You must be Mrs. Flood’s niece, Calliope. She told me about you.” Callie turned around to find another girl standing there, dressed in the same ill-fitting school uniform. She had an arm load of books and was appraising Callie with a friendly eye. “My name’s Suzette Price, but you can call me Suki. Everyone does.” The girl did a little bow and finished it with a curtsy.
“Hey. I’m Callie.”
“I know . Your aunt plays canasta with my grandmother.” Callie gave Suki a wide-eyed look. Suki just laughed. “Oh, the already-knowing-you thing? You’ll have to get used to that. Haven Falls is a small town and everyone knows your business. We knew you were coming here to live more than a month ago. And since Holly Hills is the same school your momma and Auntie went to, we just knew you’d be going here too. You’re a legacy!” Suki seemed pleased with her knowledge, but Callie wasn’t. It irked her to have total strangers know so much about her.
Suki was friendly and as they stood outside the school, she waved at most students who passed them. Suki tried to fill her in on all the names, but Callie missed most of them. One she didn’t miss belonging to a boy named Cayden Welliver. Chatting animatedly with a couple of friends, Callie noticed he was a bit taller than her with dark hair that fell to just below his ears. He hung back, behind the others, as if he didn’t want to be the center of attention. He was certainly the center of Callie’s. She tried not to be obvious about it, but she found she kept peeking around people to see if he was watching her. A couple times, she thought he might have been.
As Callie tried to take the whole new environment in, her attention was drawn away from the good- looking boy to a tight group of girls who seemed to appear out of nowhere. There were six or seven of them, she wasn’t sure, and as they glided by, they commanded the whole area. They wore the same school uniform as everyone else, but somehow , it seemed to fit them much better. Loose where it had to be and snug where it ought not have been. Beautiful hair, shining faces and such an imposing presence, crowds of kids parted as if the movement were pre-rehearsed. It was apparent to Callie that they were some kind of a big deal at the school.
“So, who’re the Barbie dolls?” she asked Suki.
“Oh, those are the Ravens. They’re kind of a social club. Super secret and super hard to get in.” “If it’s such a secret, why does everyone know about it?”
“The secret part is what they do. No one really knows.” “Then why would anyone want to get in?”
Suki gazed wistfully as the Ravens drifted by. “Are you kidding? I would kill to be a Raven. They’re the prettiest, smartest, most popular girls in the school. Everyone wants to be one.”
“W ell, I don’t.”
“You will.” Suki raised an eyebrow at her new friend. “You’re pretty enough, you know . They might ask you. They probably only cruised by to get a decent look at you. Are you smart?”
“I can hold my own. But I’m not into joining things.”
“I heard you want to be on the yearbook staff. That’s joining something.”
“Something worthwhile. Not a social club for look-alikes.” Callie stared at the girl in front of her. “And how did you know about that?”
“I told you. Small town.” “Whatever.”
“Come on. I’ll show you where your classes are.”
Callie followed behind Suki as she led her down another endless hallway. She saw the same pack of girls as before, the Ravens, gathered in an open area near some lockers. This time, they were openly appraising her. One of them, a tall, slender blonde girl, even raised her hand in a wave, as if she knew her. Callie was about to wave back until she saw her face. Instead of a smile, she was sneering at her. She sucked in her breath.
“What?” inquired Suki, disinterestedly.
“One of those creepy Raven girls was waving at me.” “Really?” Suki spun around to look. “Which one?” “The thin blonde girl.”
“Oh my God. Don’t wave back to her. She’s psycho.”
“Okay, well, that explains it. She was making this scary face at me. I didn’t wave or anything.”
“Good thing you didn’t. We try not to encourage her.” Suki stopped and turned around. “Anyway, we’re here.”
“Here” turned out to be the Journalism department. Suki pushed open the door and they stepped inside. Immediately, Callie felt at home. There were mock ups for what had to be the school newspaper on a drafting board on the opposite side of the room, cut up paper all over the floor, a radio playing rock music in an office in the back and someone yelling instructions to no one in particular.
“Can you get me the piece on the janitor’s strike? Oh, and see if Toby finished with the sports wrap-up yet. If we don’t get the fact check done, we won’t get it into this week’s issue. Marlene? Marlene? Is anyone even out there?”
The back office door smashed open and a student came stomping out. She too, was dressed in the school uniform but it had been altered in a way Callie had not yet seen walking around the halls. She was wearing the plaid skirt, but she had on cutoff long Johns underneath it. With the starched white shirt, she had paired a menswear vest and she sported military-issue combat boots instead of the saddle shoes and loafers Callie had seen a million times already. And, as if she was straight from some central casting director’s idea of a newspaper maven, her hair was up in a messy bun, held in place by a pencil. She consulted a clipboard and jerked her head at Callie.
“This her?” she asked Suki.
“Meet Calliope Flood.” Suki giggled. “Can she write?
Suki straightened. “I’m sure she can. Why else would she be here?”
“I don’t know . Maybe she thinks it’s an easy grade.”
“Hey!” Callie’d had enough. “You know I am right here. I can talk for myself.” “So? Talk.”
“Who are you?” “Meg.”
“Margaret DuPage. But I hate that name. Call me Meg.” “Ok, Meg.”
Suki stepped in. “Callie, Meg’s bark is way worse than her bite. She’s just over-protective of the Hawk, is all.”
“The Holly Hills Hawk.” Meg made a disgusted face. “I know . I didn’t name it. It may not sound great, but I can try to make it that way by keeping the articles sharp and the journalism on point. So, I’ll ask again. Can you write?”
“Good. Because most of these trust-fund babies can’t, and I’m tired of re-writing everything. It might be nice for a change not to have to.”
Suki interjected. “Sorry to interrupt, Meg, but we need to get to the office. It’s getting late and you know how Headmistress Barton can be. Come on, Callie. Let’s get going.”
Callie headed out with Suki after nodding goodbye to Meg. Consulting her schedule, she knew they would see each other for fifth period when Journalism class officially met. Callie wasn’t the type to make predictions, but based on what she had seen, she was fairly certain she would end up liking Meg. It was hard not to like someone bucking the system as vigorously as she was. Kind of like a girl after her own heart. For a brief moment, the new school didn’t seem so bad after all. Obediently, Callie trailed after Suki to get registered for classes.
Samantha Combs is a Southern California author with eight published books: Her Young Adult paranormal titles, the Global Ebook Award-w inning debut title SPELLBOUND, SPELLBOUND’s sequel, EVERSPELL, GHOSTLY, and W ATERDANCER, a middle grade horror called THE DETENTION DEMON, and her adult horror collections, TEETH AND TALONS, W AY PAST MIDNIGHT, and HELLOW EEN. THE DEADLIES is her ninth published book. She enjoys writing YA paranormals, both dark and light, and supernatural fantasy and romance, but it is her love of horror that started it all. Thanks, Mr. King.
When she’s not writing, she works full-time and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Her guilty pleasures include reality television, the Food Network channel and shoes. She truly believes she can accomplish anything if she has the right pair of shoes. And she adores totally inappropriate earrings.
Samantha loves writing and publishing her work and is in awe of the technological advances of our lives. With all of the genres there are for a reader, she has learned that writing paranormal and horror lets her share all the weirdness of everyday life in a not-so-everyday way. The foundation of a good story is all around her. All she has to do is…breathe.