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Seraph of Sorrow, Page 1

MaryJanice Davidson

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page




  PART 1 - Jonathan Scales

  CHAPTER 1 - Schooling

  CHAPTER 2 - Secrets

  CHAPTER 3 - Schemes

  CHAPTER 4 - Skills

  PART 2 - Glorianna Seabright

  CHAPTER 5 - Tested by Fire

  CHAPTER 6 - Tested by Love

  CHAPTER 7 - Tested by Family

  CHAPTER 8 - Tested by Faith

  PART 3 - Skip Wilson

  CHAPTER 9 - Subtraction

  CHAPTER 10 - Addition

  CHAPTER 11 - Division

  CHAPTER 12 - Multiplication

  PART 4 - Winona Brandfire

  CHAPTER 13 - Following Rules

  CHAPTER 14 - Following Instincts

  CHAPTER 15 - Following Footsteps

  CHAPTER 16 - Leadership

  PART 5 - Henry Blacktooth

  CHAPTER 17 - Perfect

  CHAPTER 18 - Threatened

  CHAPTER 19 - Flawed

  CHAPTER 20 - Ruined

  PART 6 - Everybody Else

  CHAPTER 21 - Rebirth, Afterlife, and Everything in Between

  CHAPTER 22 - The Seraph


  Praise for Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light

  “A delightful story . . . fun to read.”—Midwest Book Review

  “Filled with humor, friendship, and fierce loyalty . . . Jennifer’s character and attitude fly off the pages.”


  “A truly wonderful read . . . This is one series that earns its place in any keeper shelf.”—

  “A book to ignite the senses . . . The plot is original, the characters charming, and the dialogue enchanting and engaging . . . If you like dragons, mystical creatures, secret societies, and reading about the things that go bump in the night, this is definitely a book for you.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “Amazing! . . . wonderful . . . The characters are well crafted and believable . . . You will love the witty dialogue.”

  —Roundtable Reviews

  “Lighthearted . . . with a regular laundry list of preternatural creatures . . . strong story line and humorous touches.”

  —Monsters and Critics

  “The writing . . . rolls right along, interesting and imaginative. The dialogue is witty and sharp, and the characters and world setup are great to read. Fun for all ages, this writing duo has hooked me into this series.”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  Praise for

  Jennifer Scales and the

  Ancient Furnace

  “A wonderfully funny read! . . . a thoroughly engaging and captivating story.”—

  “A good, entertaining story filled with some intriguing turns and surprises . . . giv[es] off a Buffyesque vibe. Jennifer is a good, strong character with a lot of potential, and I look forward to future offerings in this series.”—SF Site

  Titles by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi

  Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace

  Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light

  The Silver Moon Elm: A Jennifer Scales Novel

  Seraph of Sorrow: A Jennifer Scales Novel

  Titles by MaryJanice Davidson

  Undead and Unwed

  Undead and Unemployed

  Undead and Unappreciated

  Undead and Unreturnable

  Undead and Unpopular

  Undead and Uneasy

  Undead and Unworthy

  Derik’s Bane

  Sleeping with the Fishes

  Swimming Without a Net

  Fish out of Water



  (with Laurell K. Hamilton, Rebecca York, Eileen Wilks)


  (with Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Angela Knight, Vickie Taylor)

  Dead and Loving It


  (with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)

  Demon’s Delight

  (with Emma Holly, Vickie Taylor, Catherine Spangler)

  Dead Over Heels

  Mysteria Lane

  (with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

  South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


  An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the authors


  Ace mass-market edition / February 2009

  Copyright © 2009 by MaryJanice Davidson Alongi and Anthony Alongi.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form

  without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in

  violation of the authors’ rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  eISBN : 978-1-440-68657-3


  Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  For our moms and dads,

  who were once fifteen, too

  It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.



  This fourth book in the Jennifer Scales series has been our favorite. It’s also a touch aggressive and complicated, particularly for those of you who may not have had the good manners to read the first three. Rather than chastise you or callously insist you put this book down right now until you’ve paid twenty or so bucks for our earlier paperbacks, we’re going to help you out. Because that’s the kind of people we are. Well, it’s the kind of person Anthony is. MaryJanice would rather let you hang.

  Here’s the minimum you should know (or remember) from the first
three books:

  To start, Jennifer Scales is our hero, and she’s a weredragon. That means she’s one of a rare breed that turns into a dragon every crescent moon. Weredragons have a hidden refuge called Crescent Valley. Jennifer’s different from her kind (a “freak among freaks,” as she would put it) in that she can change shape whenever she wants. Lately, she’s found a way of passing on that power to other weredragons, which makes her popular with many of them, including Catherine Brandfire, who’s just old enough to drive the Ford Mustang convertible her grandmother Winona owns. (What, no boldface font on the Ford Mustang convertible? you ask. It’s a good car, folks, but it doesn’t drive the plot here. Try to stay focused.)

  Jennifer would be even more popular among dragons if she weren’t also half beaststalker. A beaststalker is a warrior bred to kill dragons and other monsters. They run Winoka, the town the Scales family lives in. In fact, beaststalkers invaded Winoka about sixty years ago, back when it was called Pinegrove. They “cleansed” the town of its dragon populace and pretended the old town never existed. The mayor-for-life is Glorianna Seabright, an elderly woman with unusual eyes who barely tolerates the Scales family but appears to have a soft spot for Jennifer’s mom, Elizabeth. Also in a position of power is Hank Blacktooth, husband to Wendy and father to Eddie. Eddie and Jennifer have been friends for years.

  Jennifer also has werachnids to cope with. All right, everyone, you’ve all taken this sort of test: weredragons is to dragons as werachnids is to . . . guess what? (Kittens?! Start over!)

  Despite their terrifying spider and scorpion shapes, werachnids are not all evil. Sure, Skip Wilson, Jennifer’s would-be boyfriend, betrayed everyone. And sure, his father, Otto Saltin, tried to put Jennifer in a coma and kill her father, Jonathan. And sure, a half dragon, half arachnid (name of Evangelina) came blazing through this dimension for a few weeks to terrorize her family. And sure, a powerful arachnid foursome (called the Quadrivium , of which there are two confirmed survivors, a girl named Andi and a teacher named Mr. Slider) recently tried to scrub out beaststalkers and dragons completely from the universe.

  But really, they’re nice guys and gals. Sometimes. Like dragons, and beaststalkers, and normal people like Susan Elmsmith (Jennifer’s best friend) and you and us.

  —MaryJanice and Anthony


  The Corpse

  At the age of fifteen, Jennifer Scales cried for the first time over a dead woman’s body.

  The fresh corpse was already beginning to gray and chill. Her eyelids were relaxed, her hair splayed around unhearing ears. A graceful, hollow throat bore the only imperfection on the body: a large puncture wound above the collarbone.

  Jennifer squeezed the tears from her eyes. She had seen death before, to be sure. But those deaths had been among the elderly . . . or among those she would deem evil.

  This woman was young. Not evil. And not coming back.

  And I’m responsible, Jennifer thought.

  Her tears fell upon a cold, motionless hand. Then Jennifer saw something incredible, something marvelous. Something that reflected all the sorrows Jennifer felt, and more besides.

  How does something like this happen? Jennifer wondered as she shielded her face. Where does it come from?

  PART 1

  Jonathan Scales

  Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.




  At the age of fifteen, Jonathan Scales did not know or care about the powers of the crescent moon. He did not know or care about the people who turned into dragons whenever such a crescent hung in the sky. He did not know or care that he was one of these people, nor that his parents were. He did not know or care about a woman named Elizabeth Georges, a young woman bred to kill dragons who lived miles away getting a different sort of education. And he did not know or care about the daughter he would have with this woman one day, a girl they would name Jennifer Caroline, after Elizabeth’s mother and his own.

  All he cared about at the age of fifteen was a girl named Heather Snow.

  Heather Snow was not the prettiest girl at Fairville High. Nor was she the smartest, strongest, fastest, or funniest. She wasn’t the nicest, or the tallest, or the most bubbly. She wasn’t the one with the straightest teeth or best legs.

  It didn’t matter. She was an angel, he knew. His angel. His friends told him she resembled a koala bear with a broken jaw; but what did they know? He followed her with the passion of a disciple, and for several weeks she embraced him.

  They did their geometry homework together in study hall, held hands on the way to and from the cafeteria, passed notes promising eternal love to each other, and kissed and groped in whatever soundproof practice chamber they could find near the band room.

  It was in one of these tiny cells that she decided to crush his heart.

  “Just friends.” As he stared at the linoleum floor with wide gray eyes, he repeated her last two words. What is it with girls and those two words?

  “Um, yeah. Sorry.” He didn’t check, but he knew she would be biting her upper lip and twisting her black curls with a long forefinger. She always did that when she got nervous. “So, um, are we okay?” One of Heather’s feet took a step toward the glass door, and he panicked.


  “Jonathan, we can still be good—”

  “Don’t say friends,” he snapped. Now he did look up at her, and he was suddenly furious to see that she didn’t appear close to crying. I can change that, he dared himself. “Friends don’t do . . . what you’re doing. They don’t screw around with other people’s feelings. They don’t break up for no reason at all.”

  “It’s not ‘no reason.’ I need—”

  “What? Space? Someone else? A good laugh with your obnoxious girlfriends?”

  “Stop calling them obnoxious.” Finally, some emotion. “And stop interrupting!”

  “Gosh, Heather, I’m sorry I’m not being superpolite while you dump me. How rude of me. Please continue.”

  “Forget it. You’re a jerk.”

  He was up and jamming the chamber door shut before she could open it. “I’m a jerk?”

  “Yes, you’re a jerk! Let me go.”

  He found he didn’t want to. Why should he let her go? Where was his incentive, exactly, to let the door open and watch her slip into the hallway and out of his life?

  “You can leave when you answer one question—”

  “Let me go!”

  It occurred to Jonathan that by keeping her here in this dark room against her will, he was probably crossing a line. Part of him was repelled by the thought of scaring her like this—but a small, mean voice within was relieved to see tears appear at the corners of her gem-blue eyes. If you cannot keep her happy, you can at least keep her here.

  “Answer my question!” he insisted. Heather pulled against the door again. Now his full weight was on it. While thinner and more wiry than the man he would become someday, Jonathan Scales was large enough to keep a teenaged girl inside a small room for as long as he liked.

  She pushed fruitlessly against his chest. “Fine, what’s your damn question?!”

  See how she stays while she listens, the voice told him. “Yeah, okay, my question. Huh. How about this. Did you go out with me to bore me to tears with your endless stories about shoe shopping and your pet birds, or do you just get off on stringing a guy along for a few weeks without giving anything up?”

  Finally, she slapped him. “You’re gross. I can’t believe I ever let you kiss me.”

  The awful voice inside finally let go. Blinking hard, he slumped away from the door. “Neither can I. Good-bye, Heather. I’m sorry I—”

  She was already gone.

  “How was school today, ace?”

  “Crap. How was farming stupid wildflowers and asinine sheep?”

  Crawford Thomas Scales didn’t miss a beat. “Don’t forget the ‘loser horses’ and ‘lame bees.�
� It was great; they’re all great. You seem down—”

  “I’m not going to talk about it, Dad.”

  “Huh.” Crawford shifted in his porch seat overlooking the lake. He was often here on cool autumn afternoons, though to Jonathan there didn’t seem to be any reason to stare out over the lake. “You want to talk to your mom instead?”

  “No. Speaking of which, isn’t it about time you two handed me off to the Happy Fun Farm?” About twice a month for as long as he could remember, his parents would kick him out of his own house and make him stay at the neighbors’ place, several miles down the road. There, he provided backbreaking (and, he couldn’t help noticing, incredibly cheap) labor to upkeep the old and frail couple’s household and their small apple orchard. The Grears were nice people, but they barely talked and never let him leave their sight. Wolves in the woods, was the most they ever said to him. It did not explain all of the sounds he could hear coming from the forest.

  “Actually, we think you should stay here this weekend.”

  “What, my era of human bondage is coming to an end?”