Read Dark Light of Day Online

Authors: Jill Archer

Dark Light of Day

Failing is not an option…

“I’ve been watching you, wondering, waiting to see where you’d end up. After all, there are other demon law schools,” Seknecus said, making a moue of distaste that showed me exactly what he thought of them. “But I was happy to see that you chose St. Lucifer’s.”

Technically my mother chose St. Lucifer’s…
But there seemed no reason to interrupt to clarify that bit of misinformation. Seknecus wandered around the room, picking through papers, flipping open and quickly shutting the front covers of various leather-bound books, never meeting my eye. I had no doubt, however, that his attention was fully focused on me.

“So, you see, seeing your name on my list wasn’t exactly a surprise, although it appeared much later than I would have liked.”

He glanced at me then, with a frown of disapproval. I did my best to look expressionless because none seemed appropriate. It wouldn’t do to look amused, bored, or, Luck forbid, rebellious. Seknecus stared at me with narrowed eyes and then went back to wandering.

“You’ve got some catching up to do,” he said, addressing a copy of
Sin and Sanction: Codification & Case Law
. “It doesn’t matter why or what excuses you’ve got for yourself. You will be held to the same standards as everyone else, regardless of whose daughter you are. And you’ve missed a lot of class already.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off with a wave.

“Manipulation class,” he clarified. “You’re going to have to work ten times as hard as everyone else just to pass. Quintus Rochester doesn’t go easy on students and he’s likely to see your absence during the early part of the semester as a challenge. You know, failing is not an option. Not if you want to live…”

DARK LIGHT
OF DAY

JILL ARCHER

ACE BOOKS, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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, Auckland 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 author’s imagination 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.

DARK LIGHT OF DAY

An Ace Book / published by arrangement with Black Willow, LLC

PUBLISHING HISTORY
Ace mass-market edition / October 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Black Willow, LLC.
Cover art by David Palumbo.
Cover design by Lesley Worrell.
Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

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 author’s 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.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58962-5

ACE
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.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

Almost twenty years ago
my mother gave me a hurricane lamp.
Its pewter base was engraved with the words
“May Your Light Shine Bright.”

This one’s for you, Mom.
I love you, and always will.

Acknowledgments

A huge heartfelt thanks to Lois Winston, fellow author, mentor, and awesome agent. Lois was the first person to see promise in Noon’s story, and I will always be grateful for that. Throughout this whole process, she has been extremely accessible and extraordinarily tenacious. Her frank words of caution or encouragement are always well received. Thanks to Ashley and Carolyn Grayson as well for all of their advice and early enthusiasm.

Mega thanks to Jessica Wade for being such a dedicated editor. Revisions are kind of like boot camp for novels. At the end, the manuscript should be leaner and meaner (or, in
DLOD
’s case, stronger and kinder). Jessica’s an excellent trainer! Thanks also to Lesley Worrell, the art director, and David Palumbo, the cover artist, for bringing Noon visually to life. I love Noon’s slightly defiant expression as well as the other details! Nice work.

I’m also incredibly grateful to Michelle Kasper, my production editor; Mary Pell, my copy editor; and the rest of the folks over at Penguin who made this book happen. A big thanks to Joan Havens too for assisting with the Latin phrases.

Finally, thank you to my family and friends who have supported me with love, affection, education, passion, curiosity, and commitment. To my free-spirited mother, who passed on her fierce independence and artistic aesthetics. To my pragmatic father, who was always there for me even when we lived apart. My dad loves books as much as I do, and we’ve spent large chunks of time discussing novels, characters, and authors, and
visiting bookstores together. To my stepmom, who was the one who suggested I take the LSAT and encouraged me to apply to law school.

To my mother-in-law for always helping out around the house and with the kids. She’s my fairy godmother! To my father-in-law, who’s also a lawyer, for not thinking I was absolutely insane to quit practicing law to write about it (especially when he heard I was adding demons and magic to the mix!). To my brother, best friends, and daughters for being a part of my life. A writer’s life is much richer with people to love, laugh with, and take care of.

And to my husband, whose unwavering support over the years is awe-inspiring. Sometimes he has more faith in me than I do! I couldn’t have asked for a better, more steadfast, and more dauntless partner in life’s endeavors, including this latest of mine.

Table of Contents

I

   Chapter 1

   Chapter 2

   Chapter 3

   Chapter 4

   Chapter 5

   Chapter 6

   Chapter 7

   Chapter 8

   Chapter 9

   Chapter 10

   Chapter 11

   Chapter 12

   Chapter 13

   Chapter 14

II

   Chapter 15

   Chapter 16

   Chapter 17

   Chapter 18

   Chapter 19

   Chapter 20

   Chapter 21

   Chapter 22

   Chapter 23

   Chapter 24

   Chapter 25

   Chapter 26

I

Deep into that darkness peering,
long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal
ever dared to dream before…


EDGAR ALLAN POE

Chapter 1

T
he wind whipping across my face made it feel as if I’d just scrubbed with camphor and bits of glass. My eyes watered and my nose ran. I sniffled and kept walking, my boots crunching over the ice and snow. Stars winked high above me like baby’s breath thrown into an inky sea, but the main light came from small umber streetlights tucked into the stone wall beside me. The Asters’ front gate was just thirty yards ahead. I tried not to think about how cold the walk home would be if they refused to let me in. Inside my pocket, I squeezed my letter, forever wrinkling it. I knew some people framed theirs. I didn’t care. I planned to burn mine.

The wall I’d been walking along ended and a massive iron gate rose up in its place. To its side was a call box. Giving the letter one final vicious squeeze, I withdrew my hand, opened the box, and turned the crank. It stuck at first and I had to wrench it free from a brittle crust of snow and ice. Finally I heard a pop and some clicking. But no one answered. I stood for another half minute or so, blowing breath into my cupped hands to warm my now-frigid mouth and nose. I turned the
crank again. It was too late for dinner and too early for bed. Someone would answer. After a while, Mrs. Aster did.

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