Deviant: Poets of the Kill (Book 1)

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Summary

"Darling, haven't I said this before? White swans cannot cry." Nightmares play in the ghostly city of New York. A group of elites face off in a twisted game of dares to unmask the Phantom haunting the city's cruel underworld. When the stage magic creeps past its curtain, no one is safe. Murders, mayhem, and criminal beauty. Though each act of survival grows more dangerous, the show must go on—and the three entangled within the dark heart of fame and glory will do whatever it takes to keep their secrets buried. Little do the swans know, on a stage where love, lies, and illusions collide, nothing ever escapes the spotlight. The STAR: Mirabelle, a fierce showgirl out to destroy the demons of her past, no matter the cost. The SINNER: Xander, the enigmatic showrunner of the Blackthorne troupe, always painting and drinking lies like drugs. The SMILER: Xavier, the wildcard, frames his lying smiles to fit all occasions. *Riveting and sexy, Deviant, like prima donna Mirabelle, has the soul of a dancer.

Genre:
Thriller / Romance
Author:
Scarlett
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
52
Rating:
4.7 84 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

PROLOGUE

Mirabelle Renée DeRose

My life is a mise en abyme of Swan Lake.

In my version of that ballet, I am the beloved white swan. All feminine and soft in my deceptions, my charm is sweet. But I, too, am the wicked black swan. Mastered by impulse, the art of loneliness consumes me.

Are you curious? You should be. These stitched, pretty-ugly words have manipulated you into reading my story. Oh no, did you pause just now in annoyed self-righteousness? Well, excusez-moi, I meant ‘convince.’

I am also a liar. Unravel my illusion, and you’ll realize honest persuasion was never my intention, but that word, it sounds safer, doesn’t it? Yes, well, reality is brutal once you peer behind a stage’s curtains. Deception is lusher, though, and you are an infinitely lucky stranger privileged enough to see through mine.

A word of advice—I promise you beauty and cruelty and grief and dancing within my words. Do not expect me to respect your delicate sensibilities; this is MY reality: you can sleep when you’re awake.

Without further ado, I welcome you into a tragic tale depicting a ballerina metamorphosing into a swan. Once upon a time, this cinnamon-haired girl craved love because it was dark inside her heart.

Dark and hungry.


Six months prior

Today, Paris looks like it’s dressed for a funeral. The streets are a blur of monotone gloom, and the sidewalks overflow with commuters scurrying home under dark, faceless umbrellas.

Umbrellas, those loyal companions that drown to protect us from downpours. They constantly twirl open at the rain’s command, and from above, the mass of people must look like a troupe of dancers—synchronized and predictable. But I wonder how freeing it would be to dance in the rain, soak it up and drink from the skies.

I will never know the bold, bright smile of freedom because I am no different than everyone rushing away from the sky-turned-waterfall. I am a dancer. A ballerina, so my entire life is but one grand choreography.

How fitting then, that today, my sister died. Of course, the world would bend over backward to mourn the exquisitely talented ballet starlet who died young.

Colette DeRose. Maman’s precious Coco.

Charmingly mad, bad, and entirely too dangerous to know.

Or so only the clever knew.

A lifetime of deceit and betrayal coupled with this fresh, new tragedy had sharpened my ability to see beneath the skin of a person to the bones of what made them tick.

With her gunmetal eyes and queen of hearts beauty, Colette was anything but the pink and frilly innocent doll she played. She had a core of hidden steel, enforced with cutthroat charm and a mind like a three-dimensional chess set.

Colette was also as mad as that infamous Wonderland ruler. Although, off with your head wasn’t her preferred threat.

Psychological battle was her war, and lipstick and cleavage were her weapons of choice. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if down in hell, Colette was adoring my absolute breakdown at her funeral.

The solemn quiet of the graveyard had weighed on me, heavy and suffocating. I don’t remember most of her funeral, I was too high with unrelenting disbelief, though I recall the coffin, the jarring whip of the hammer when they nailed her down in it. She was buried! Buried in that grave and had somehow managed to drag the hearts of my parents with her.

I was still alive, though. Wild. The only living thing in a family of ghosts.

Or maybe I was a ghost, too. Intent on haunting a whole new city of my own. Having spent my entire life at the top of the food chain and hierarchy of the elite, I was ambitious enough to be unafraid of a country where the United States government was the biggest predator around.

“Chambord, Madame?” Inquires my maid, Sylvie, who had allowed her keen interest in a higher pay to drag her across continents right along with me. Gazing out the floor-to-celieing windows of my new glass and metal penthouse, I take in the ethereal otherworldliness of New York City lush in November’s final fall ripening.

“No,” I finally say, responding to Sylvie’s offer. “I’m going to go change for the party instead.”

I leave the living room, content to escape its cold and sterile feel that all new purchases are cursed with. Sighing, I hurry inside my bedroom. Pretending this room is more personalized because of all my suitcases littering the chilly marble floors, I pause to blink watchful eyes at the illuminated mirror.

My eyes that my forever friend sometimes lover Chasm calls flames are lustrous with the sleepy glaze of traveling, framed in the artwork of my face. They’re nearly black in their caramel shade, almost darker than my father’s heart.

But I barely register the compliments that flicker in my memories. Non, instead, my eyes wear green-tinted glasses to narrow in on all my flaws. My too pale skin, the color of cream sprinkled lightly by the spice of freckles, the twin crescent moons blooming under my eyes as darkened stripes. I study how my cinnamon hair cuts across my collarbones and how my cheekbones cut up my face. Don’t forget to eat, Mirabelle, recites the dandelion that is my mother.

Drawing a calming breath, I change into a tattered cerise bandage dress. Next, I grab a red, red top hat stained with ink and flourished with a feather curling across its rim. Completing my look with a crimson ornate military jacket that would’ve put Napoleon to shame, I practice my smile. It needs to be ready when I arrive in a world I hate.

In a world I am born into.

My mother, Dominique DeRose, and father, Bastien DeRose, are renowned designers and co-owners of the fashion empire XOXO. My beloved parents, creatures with beauty in their faces and steel in their hearts, love trading words like wounds and designing with the Devil’s flair and lack of care for kindness. Or basic parental compassion.

In the legendary New York City, the literally to-die-for family that held court above the rest were the Blackthornes.

Marcellus Blackthorne, CEO of an international conglomerate, and his magnetic twin sons who he ensured grew up with the privileged expectation of one day inheriting billions.

I’ve had yet to meet the illustrious family, but the very allure of their last name is enough to intrigue me. There’s a hint of darkness to it, a suggestion of danger that doesn’t so much warn you away as make you want to lean closer, to uncover their secrets. Inherit their billions.

That’s the danger of being wealthy—the glitz and glamor of the one percent richer than God. You don’t feel the pain at first.

In the beginning, you feel the squeeze of your heart reminding you that even if your wealth can twist the law, it can’t untangle those tricky emotions that make guilt pulse in your veins. It’s like a paper cut you don’t notice until it starts to bleed and sting.

Bleeding and scarring and dying until you lose your soul after all. Then you discover what’s resting in your ribcage is not a beating heart, but greed.

Pure, green greed.


Later

I enter the reverly with the subtleness of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France. That is to say, the entrance is as deliciously dramatic as my family dinners. Except, every fool in attendance doesn’t notice because another performance has the nerve to outshine mine.

“Xavier?!” Over the declarations of erotic poetry and screaming nonsense of the insane or drunk, a shattering cry turns that familiar name into a bullet ripping through the wild energy of aristos abandoning their mirrors for pleasure.

“You bastard,” the same voice cries.

A shadow emerges in front of a trio of topless girls, somehow so distinguishable in the dark. The shadow’s lean, large form melts out of the darkness, and I need to blinking clockwise to realize this shadow is no shadow at all.

Instead, it’s a man clad entirely in black, from the tips of his Berluti loafers to the perfectly tailored Gucci suit studded with ebony diamonds.

There is a glint of a silver chain at his throat that gleams too sharp to be a cross or a saint’s pendant. Either way, that hint of holiness is nowhere near enough to save his demon’s halo.

He looks villanous, a cruel lover handsome enough to tempt angels to sin. Cloaked in shadows, holding court above the beautiful, popular in-crowd, this stranger appears every inch the bastard he is accused of being.

A girl with hair like pixie dust storms toward this Xavier. As she opens her mouth to twist her knife deeper, he cuts her off with a laugh. The sound weavess through the luxurious penthouse like the crescendo at the beginning of a song, each note deepening to a richer, darker delight. It’s a disturbingly pleasant sound to emerge from a bastard.

“Remember, I do not love the way you do.”

His accent is an exotic, bastardized thing. Slavic, British, and American accents tangle in a pas de trois to perform something dashingly unique and oddly attractive. It’s an odd mix of personas—the Russian harsh sincerity, the British reserved mystery, and the American cocky arrogance—combined into one man with criminal beauty.

In the background, I hear blurs of enraged screaming, following by the distinctive violence of a slamming door. But all I can focus on are the echoes of Xavier’s voice, his smoky chuckle.

Before I can extract myself from the spell his voice has lured me under, Xavier intercepts me, blocking my way forward with a hero’s smile.

Caught, I gaze into black eyes that smolder with the verdant green of a lush, clandestine forest. Stupidly, it seems as if the air fills with a non-corporeal form of stardust as I stare, utterly hypnotized, into those eyes with slender strands of gold around the pupils.

With disturbing intensity, Xavier observes me in turn, like he’s memorizing his victim’s features before a kill. Suddenly, a self-satisfied smile creeps onto his red, red lips.

“I know who you are. You are Hysteria.”

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