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The Shadow Trials

The Shadow Trials

Rite World: Blackthorn Hunters Academy 4

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A demon hunter destined for greatness. A half-demon out to solve a mystery. And a tournament that threatens to take their lives…

Main Tropes

  • Academy Setting
  • Enemies-to-Lovers
  • Forced Proximity
  • Soulmates
  • Forbidden Love
  • Secret Society
  • Found Family/Band of Friends
  • Chosen One
  • Cameos from Rite World Characters


A demon hunter destined for greatness. A half-demon out to solve a mystery. And a tournament that threatens to take their lives…


Everything at the academy has changed. A bloodthirsty new headmaster has taken over the school, and my friends and I are being forced to endure his relentless torment. Besides getting through my classes, I’ve got a huge burden on my shoulders. My father, King Brikan and lord over all demons, is rising in power. To defeat him and save the supernatural realm from the terrors of the underworld, I need to find my missing sisters… a task that’s proving impossible.


I’ve never been freer in my life—and at the same time, never been more trapped. Erin and I have to be on our guard. Students are being attacked, and there’s a traitor in our midst. Even worse, Erin and I are both forced to enter a tournament due to our demon blood. All half-demons must prove they are worthy enough to attend the academy by enduring a deadly contest. One I’m not sure we’ll survive. But nothing is what it seems, and the answers to all our mysteries are lurking in the shadows…

The fourth installment in Juliana Haygert’s amazing paranormal academy series, The Shadow Trials is an urban fantasy packed with demons, secret romance, and incredible battles. The series keeps on getting better and better!

Intro into Chapter One

Chapter One

With my hoodie pulled over my head, I sneaked out of the apartment.

Sneak might have been too strong of a word, as my mother wasn’t in the apartment we had been sharing this winter break. In fact, she had been gone most nights.

During our dark magic training sessions, I wanted to ask her where she was going, what she was hiding from me, but since our relationship had always been tense, I was afraid that if I pushed her, she would hide even more things from me.

I stopped by the front door of the apartment building and glanced around before stepping out. It was early evening, and soon the sun would be down, bringing foul and evil things.

I wasn’t afraid of muggers—I was sure I could take those if they tried something funny—but I couldn’t say the same about demons.

Since my mother had been fired from the academy, she had decided not to live in Chasseur Ville, where all the retired demon hunters lived, because she thought we would be ostracized. Since she had admitted to teaching me dark magic and forbidden spells, and the fact that I had performed them, she was concerned that the residents of Chasseur Ville might not be welcoming.

So, she rented us an apartment in West Hill—the small town where I had gone on a date with Harvey and we ended up smuggling Farrah out of town during a demon hunter raid with Rey’s help. West Hill was close to the Blackthorn Hunters Academy and Chasseur Ville, but the chances of meeting random demons were much higher.

My mother had found a witch to spell our apartment to make it harder for demons to find us. After all, I still had the damn mark on my wrist that branded me as the supreme demon’s daughter, and that freaking mark called to demons. But once I was out of the apartment, the protection was gone.

But it was that, or I wouldn’t see him.

Keeping my senses alert, I walked down the ice-covered street, turned the next left, then the next right, and halfway down the block, I went up the outside stairs bolted to a rundown music store. The stairs ended at a red door.

I fished the keys from my pocket and unlocked the door.

Rey was in the middle of the empty living room, wearing only black sweatpants and doing push-ups.

Holy shit …

My throat went dry, and a wave of heat coursed through my body.

Noticing my presence, Rey jumped up and smiled at me.

My heart skipped a beat.

This man … a thin layer of sweat covered his ripped chest and stomach, making him glisten in the dim overhead light. He reached for the towel on the floor, the lean muscles of his arms and shoulders flexing. As he dabbed his neck, his eyes locked on mine again. Those gray, almost silver eyes that could see inside my soul. His dirty blond hair was damp, making it look a little darker than it was. Strands stuck to his face, falling down to his sharp jaw. He ran the towel around his square chin, down his throat, across his chest.

By all that was holy, this man was so freaking hot.

And he was mine.

He was my soulmate. I didn’t care that the soul bond was gone and we weren’t connected anymore. Deep down, I knew Rey and I were meant to be together.

Rey’s brows pinched. “Erin, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” I took my heavy coat and my hoodie off. It was cold outside and I felt the need to hide when I was sneaking around. I threw my hoodie on the floor and walked to Rey. “Nothing at all.”

I rose on tiptoes, wound my arms around his neck, and planted a kiss on his chin. Rey hissed before snaking his hands around my waist, dipping into me, and covered my mouth with his.

Holy … I melted into him, rather aroused by his musk scent mixed with his sweat.

“This wasn’t why you came,” he whispered against my mouth.

I bit his lower lip. “Can you blame me?”

With a groan, Rey wound his arms underneath my arms and knees. He picked me up and carried me to his bed, where we continued our game and got sweaty together.

* * *

I buried my face in Rey’s neck, content and safe in his arms.

This had been our routine for the last two and a half months—since Randall had destroyed the school and we had been let out early for the semester. Every time my mother disappeared, I visited Rey in the apartment he rented, purposely close to mine. Our idea was to spend time together and practice, but usually our evenings began with us in bed. After that, Rey cooked or bought us dinner, and we would practice.

Then, he took me back to my apartment before sunrise, so I could be there when my mother arrived.

I rubbed my nose against his skin. Like this, in his arms, breathing in his delicious scent, feeling his hot body pressed to mine, I could pretend everything was perfect. We were normal people in our early twenties, getting to know each other, falling in love, and just living.

Not half-demons with a time bomb over our heads.

Rey splayed his fingers on my back, holding me tight against him. “It’s getting late. We should start training.”

“I don’t want to. I want to stay like this forever.”

“I do too.” He pressed a gentle kiss to my shoulder. Just that simple touch sent a shiver down my spine. “But I don’t want trouble with your mother. If I take you back and she’s already there.” He shook his head.

I pulled back and stared into his gray eyes. “Are you afraid of my mother?”

“No … and yes,” he said, serious. “I’m not afraid of her as a person, or a demon hunter, but she’s your mother. I don’t want to give her more reason not to like me.”

I frowned. For almost a year, Rey had struggled with his feelings for me. In his mind, the honorable thing to do, and to keep me safe from the dangers surrounding him, was to stay away from me. On top of that, my mother had warned him off. But then, right when everything fell apart last semester, my mother told Rey to ignore whatever she had said and protect me. According to him, that wasn’t why he finally surrendered to his feelings, but he said it certainly lifted some of the pressure.

However, ever since then, my mother didn’t seem keen on my relationship with Rey. Of course, she knew what was going on—she wasn’t stupid—but now that things had settled down, I felt like she wanted to take back what she told him. She wanted to tell him to keep his hands off me again, but she also knew it wouldn’t work this time.

I wouldn’t let it work.

“I don’t care what she thinks about our relationship,” I said, my voice low. “All I care is how we feel about each other.”

One corner of Rey’s lips curled up before he leaned in and kissed me. A deep but brief kiss that left me breathless. “Come on,” he said, getting up from the bed. “I have leftovers from yesterday’s pasta.”

He pulled on his sweatpants and put on a black shirt. And I pouted as he trudged to the kitchen. Seriously, I got it. We had to get out of bed at some point.

But did he need to put a shirt on?

Sighing, I rolled to my side and got up. While Rey fixed us dinner, I put my jeans and blouse back on. I glanced around, making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. But there was no place to hide things here.

This apartment had a large open floor plan, with a few archways that marked the bedroom, the kitchen, and the living and dining areas. The only thing separated by a door and walls was the bathroom. Rey had rented this place because it was close to the apartment my mother had rented, and because it was large and we could practice in here without much trouble. Because this wasn’t a typical apartment, he didn’t even try to buy furniture for it. Only a king-sized bed for the bedroom, and two stools for the kitchen island. And also bedroom and kitchen stuff—sheets, pillows, and blanket, and a few pots and pans, plates, and cutlery.

I dragged my bare feet across the old hardwood floor to the kitchen. Rey was reheating the sauce in a small pot on the range. I halted behind him, wound my arms around his waist, and rested my cheek on his back. The thump-thump of his heart was strong in my ears.

“What is it?” he asked, bringing one of his hands over mine.

I shrugged. “Just … whenever I’m here with you, like this, I can pretend we’re human.”

Rey let go of the sauce and turned to me. “We might not be regular people, but we’re together, and we’ll be together forever. We’ll overcome anything that comes our way.” He placed a soft peck on my forehead. “Now help me.” He slapped my ass. “Get the plates and such.”

I groaned, but relented. I set up the island with plates, forks, and knives, and glasses with water. A minute later, Rey brought over the rose alfredo fettuccine he had whipped up last night—it had been incredible. Who knew my half-demon could cook?

After we ate and cleaned up, Rey and I relocated to the empty space in the loft.

Rolling my shoulders, I faced him. “So, what will it be today?”

“As much as I would love to move on to more complex spells, I think we need to continue practicing teleporting.”

I nodded. During my mother’s training sessions, we practiced dark magic—siphoning energy from dead bodies, reanimating them, among other things. With Rey, I trained in sword combat, so I would not get rusty, but the main focus of our sessions was my demon powers. When we first started, Rey told me that each demon had different powers and abilities. Most of them originated from dark magic, but depending on the demon ranking and affiliation, the range of powers changed.

Since I was the supreme demon's daughter, he thought my powers were unmatched, and he wanted to see what I could do.

So far, I hadn’t been able to do much.

But there was one spell I really liked, though I still hadn’t gotten the hang of it: teleporting.

“All right,” I said, shaking and loosening my arms. Teleporting was fine in theory, but in practice, it could get messy.

I breathed deeply and channeled my magic. The power filled my veins and ignited my core instantly. I focused and visualized myself on the other side of the room.

I blinked and—

The world shimmered before my eyes, a dark veil fell over me, pressure started in my ears.

And I moved a foot forward.

“Holy shit,” I mumbled.

“It’s okay.” Rey approached me. He held my hands. “It’s the same thing every night. You’re trying too hard. We already know you can do it. Now, you just have to let your instinct take over.”

I wished it was that simple. When we first attempted this ability, Rey told me most demons could not teleport. At first, he thought that, as a half-demon, I wouldn’t be able to do it. He couldn’t, though I learned he could shift into a cool raven—he had been the one I had seen outside the Gardenia building so many times. He had admitted to following me to make sure I was okay. It was one more thing to prove that he really loved me, but had held on to what he thought was right.

However, when we were first recruiting half-demons for Randall’s Black Knight Unit, we had seen Zachary teleport, so Rey thought I could do it too. After telling me his theory and practicing it with me, Rey simply called the shots.

The first few tries, I didn’t do anything. No shimmering lights, no pressure, no underwater feeling. But then it happened. I felt the whoosh of air across my face, and I had moved an inch.

I guess a foot was better, but it was still not enough.

“We’ve been practicing this for two months,” I said, feeling completely frustrated. “So, for me to actually appear on the other side of the room, it will take how long? Two years?”

Rey squeezed my hands. “I’m sure you’re having a hard time because this is still new. And, like I said, you’re being too hard on yourself. Once you unlock the mystery, you’ll be able to teleport two feet or two hundred as if it was the same thing.”

I wanted to stomp my feet and pout and yell that this was useless, but I reined in my tantrum. Having these crazy fits wouldn’t help me, but it would be great if I could make some progress soon. In a week, we were going back to the academy for the new semester, and I would feel better if I had a handle on this spell before classes started.

I rolled my shoulders again. “Okay, okay. Let’s try again.”

“That’s my girl.” Rey leaned into me and placed a quick kiss on my lips before stepping back.

I frowned at him. “That doesn’t help.”

“What doesn’t help?”

“Calling me my girl and kissing me all the time,” I said. “All that does is make me want to jump your bones.”

Straightening, Rey cleared his throat. “As much as I like that idea, I think we have to use the time we have left to practice.”

I was of the opinion that we could use that time to stay in bed, tangled with each other. Once we were back at the academy, we would have to pretend to be student and professor again. If someone saw us together, Rey would be fired, and I would be in hot water, and since I was always in hot water, it would be best if we lie low.

Damn, that would be so freaking hard.

I let out a long breath. “All right, all right. Let’s give this another try.”

I closed my eyes, channeled my magic, and—

A knock came from the door.

Rey and I stared at each other. No one knew where Rey was hiding besides me, and I had the keys to enter without knocking.

“Are you expecting someone?” I asked.

Rey shook his head.

The knock came again.

Tense, Rey went to the door. He pressed his ear to the wood. A moment later, he opened the door an inch.

A white piece of paper flew through the crack and landed right at my feet.

Rey opened the door wider, but there was no one there. “What the fuck?” I crouched down and picked up the paper—it was an envelope. Rey quickly closed and locked the door, and came to my side. “What’s that?”

“A letter,” I whispered as I pulled out the note from inside the envelope. I gasped as I read it. “It’s from Tanner.” I glanced up at Rey. “He wants us to meet him.”

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