Dead by Morning (Rituals of the Night Book 1) by Kayla Krantz
"He was real, and he was a monster."
Obsession is deadly. No one learns that better than Luna Ketz, a pessimistic high school senior. She wishes more than anything to graduate but things don’t always go as planned. Luna quickly finds herself trapped in a web of lies and murders, spun by the least suspected person in her hometown. It’s not long before she realizes she’s being targeted by the person she despises most in the world. When Luna figures out who is behind the killings, things make a turn for the bizarre when she is contacted by a friend she has not heard from in years. It is then Luna realizes she is very much in danger, but although she can avoid the killer in reality, she cannot avoid him in her dreams.
Chance stayed where he was, studying the nearby people. At the sight of him alone, a couple girls ran up to him and Luna guessed they were asking him for a dance. She smiled a bit to herself…maybe if he got distracted with the other girls he would forget she was there. As she watched, he shooed the girls away with a simple movement of his arm, and Luna’s hope turned to disappointment. He walked over to her, searching her eyes with his.
“What’s wrong? Don’t like the paparazzi?” He laughed.
“You should dance with those other girls.”
“Why?” he asked, scrunching up his face.
“Because I want to go home.”
He shook his head. “No way, you’re not going home without at least giving me one dance.”
Luna slumped her shoulders. “Do we really have to?”
“Do I have to tell David that you didn’t follow his orders?” he asked, tipping his head to the side.
Luna closed her eyes for a long moment to hold back the building anger. He’d keep his promise. “Fine, you win.”
He smiled and held out his hand to her. “Of course I did.”
Reluctantly, she set her hand in his. His skin felt clammy beneath her fingers, like he had been sweating. Luna wanted to pull her hand back, but she forced herself to keep it there. He closed his fingers around hers and pulled her onto the dance floor. The music turned to a slow, sappy song, forcing them to slow dance. He forced her arms up onto his shoulders and set his hands on her waist.
As he stepped to the music, she searched his expression for any sign of compassion. “Why do you do this to me?”
“Make me go to things like this. I mean, I know you don’t like me. What could you possibly want from me?”
He looked back at her, and for a minute, he didn’t speak, as if he had been caught off-guard by her question. “I can’t tell you.”
“You can blackmail me into going on dates with you, and you can have your friends kidnap me, but you can’t tell me why you do it?” she asked in disbelief.
“Look, you’ll find out eventually, and you won’t like it, I know. I try hard to get you to feel something toward me so that when you find that out, you won’t fight me,” he whispered in her ear.
“Find what out? What could be so bad? Do Susan and Kate and all of them know what it is?” She pulled back to watch his face carefully.
“No, they don’t. No one does. Just keep quiet, okay?”
“Does this have to do with the thing you hide in your pocket?” Luna asked him a bit louder. “Do you have it on you now?” She reached her hand forward to try to touch the side of his pants.
A couple people around them turned to look as she raised her voice to him. Chance caught her wrist easily in his hand, returned their stares, and smiled nervously before looking back at Luna. He had to resist the urge to shake her into silence as he let go of her arm.
“I don’t hide anything in my pocket okay?” he snarled. “That’s all just your imagination, Luna. Now drop it.”
Part of her was frightened by his sudden anger. He was hiding something from her…and from everyone else as well.
“Okay, we’re setting up to play,” a voice called from the stage. “We need a volunteer singer to help us out.”
“How about Chance does it?” Luna heard a nearby girl suggest.
The anger dissolved from Chance’s face as he turned to the girl who had spoken. Luna realized all of his rage had been solely directed at her, and she felt oddly cold at the thought.
“Yeah, I’ll do it. Why not?” she barely heard him say.
He let go of her and moved through the cheering crowd toward the stage. The band took its place, and Chance stood at the microphone. He looked completely comfortable up there, normal, as if he weren’t the center of attention. The band began to play “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, and Luna studied Chance. He began to sing the words gently, and his voice surprised her.
It sounded beautiful.
As Luna watched him, she knew he looked like any other teenage boy. The girls around Luna cheered him on, but she stayed silent. His eyes flicked to her as he reached the chorus of the song, flashing in the lights. There was something bad about him. Something that separated him from all the other teenage boys and made him a danger to the people who called him ‘friend.’
Proud author of Dead by Morning, fascinated by the dark and macabre. Stephen King is her all time inspiration mixed in with a little bit of Eminem. When she began writing, she started in horror but it somehow drifted into thriller. She loves the 1988 movie Heathers. She was born and raised in Michigan but traveled across the country to where she currently resides in Texas.