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Piper Levine, Follow the Leader

Piper Levine, Follow the Leader

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Piper Levine, Follow the Leader

Lunghezza:
372 pagine
4 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 27, 2013
ISBN:
9781301337347
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

From Amazon Best Selling Author Eris Kelli:
Piper LeVine knows exactly who she is. The trouble is no one else does.
After striking a deal with Richard, a Scottish Vampire, Piper’s death was faked. Everyone she knows and loves can’t know she is alive. Piper has only her novice Gypsy magic and stubbornness on which to rely in order to finish what she has set out to do.
Nicholas has experienced a love so deep that it has imprinted on his soul. The love of his life is gone, and the whispers of the past remain. Revenge is what he seeks even if it carries the face of the woman lost. No one and nothing can stand in the way of this werewolf who will get his vengeance.
In a life where death is around every corner, Piper will fight to regain all that has been stolen. She will face her fears and embrace love, even if it has come to kill her.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 27, 2013
ISBN:
9781301337347
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Eris Kelli grew up in the pacific northwest as the youngest of eight children. Her writing is fueled by her love of adventure, learning and her drive to explore an idea. She now resides in Midwest America, with her husband, two beautiful children, (who keep her running,) and two happy puppies.Currently she is fast at work on the fifth book in the Piper LeVine Series and several other projects are in the works as well including her Witch Hunter Series!Make sure to connect with Eris on Facebook! And don't forget to review!

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Piper Levine, Follow the Leader - Eris Kelli

America.

Preface

The long red strand of hair danced like fire on the wind as I held it between my pointer finger and thumb. Isabeau and Brynn looked at it but without recognition. "She was here. Piper is alive,. I told them. They both stared as if suddenly frozen. The tree that held the Baobhan has been destroyed and there is no one inside. I found this strand of her hair with what’s left of the tree."

She’s alive? Isabeau’s eyes instantly spilled over with a waterfall of tears and she sagged as her shoulders began to shake.

Brynn grabbed the strand from my hand and tossed it away. No, Nicholas. She was the one who imprisoned the Baobhan. The hair is from when she grew the tree. Piper is dead. We all saw her. Her long curly auburn hair picked up in the wind each time she turned her head. We buried her, remember?

I know she’s alive, I said soaking in the details no one had bothered to remind me of since my lapse in memory I’d suffered after fighting with a Baobhan. For whatever reason no one was being honest with me about what had gone on during the time that had been wiped from my memory.

That’s ridiculous! Brynn yelled at me her thin face growing red and her pointed chin thrusting forward. You never knew her.

Brynn-

Shut up, Isabeau! Brynn pointed at her. No one will follow you as Queen if you want to spill what you helped do.

I pushed the girls apart. Excuse me? What did you help do? Isabeau averted her gaze quickly and wouldn’t look at me again. If I don’t get answers, I won’t lead the pack for you Isabeau. I’ll lead it for Minerva.

Nicholas you won’t understand- Isabeau cried her whole body shaking.

Isabeau just shut up. I’ll tell him. Brynn framed my face with her clammy hands. Baby, the Piper you knew is dead. You were friends, and Toryn was so in love with her but then the Baobhans came and you and Toryn couldn’t fight them.

Isabeau stopped crying and just watched Brynn with her mouth and eyes open wide.

All this time you said that I never met her. Why did you lie?

Newly, Queen Isabeau continued watching chewing her fingers as she waited for my fiancée to answer my question.

"I didn’t want you to feel any more responsible for her death than you already do. Yes, you guys met but it wasn’t like you knew her. Piper was with Toryn. When you guys woke up not remembering what had happened, I thought I could save you both from the pain of losing someone that you knew."

Something still wasn’t sitting right with me, and for some reason, I didn’t feel like I could trust Brynn. I went to Isabeau and made her look at me. Isabeau, I’ve supported you in becoming Queen when no one else did. I know you won’t lie to me. Isabeau’s already big eyes rounded further as she looked from me to Brynn and back. Is it true? Did I know Piper as she says I did?

Wait a second, Nicholas. Brynn clutched at my arm. If Piper’s not dead, then our worst fears have been realized. Piper got turned. She’s a Baobhan.

No she isn’t, Brynn! Isabeau yelled beginning to cry again. I released Isabeau wondering how long it was exactly that this charade of status and responsibility would last.

Brynn didn’t back away from me, though I could see she knew I didn’t trust her. How else could she have survived the crash? Seraph and Madric found her just after it happened. She was dead. If she’s alive now, then she’s a Baobhan.

I fisted my hands at my sides trying to think of another way.

If she’s Baobhan, she’s your sworn enemy, Nicholas. She came forward and traced her finger down my jaw line. So it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you had with her. If you see Piper, you have to kill her.

Chapter One

Anyone with any sense wouldn’t be out in the kind of heat that could fry an egg on the sidewalk, but I wasn’t functioning in what I’d call my top form. My heart was shattered and had melted down into such bitter coldness that only the unforgiving heat could begin to penetrate the arctic temperatures of my soul.

Sweat ran down my back, and the air was so hot it felt like I was sucking on a blow dryer. My legs ached and burned at the same time with the drumming of my feet beating the pavement. There was no one else walking around because in Phoenix, Arizona it was about to reach a new record high.

I, Piper LeVine, hate to run, which was exactly why I had to run. This was my outlet for the mess that my life had become, and maybe I was trying to outrun what I’d done too. I still wasn’t sleeping through the nights, and it had been two weeks since I’d faked my death. Embracing this physical pain and finding exhaustion was the only relief I found.

When I’d clawed my way out of my nightmares that morning, I’d had to get away, I’d had to run. No matter how far I ran though I could never escape the sound of Seraph screaming. Anger pumped through my veins, and I ran harder not knowing where I was going or caring.

I passed abandoned cars and jumped over discarded furniture and garbage. The buildings grew closer together the further I went. Ahead of me there was a row of people sitting outside their apartment building. They were talking loud and distracted me from my thoughts. A couple of them stood up as I drew closer blocking my path on the sidewalk.

What are you doing over here? The guy asked me his eyes traveling up and down my body in what was a move of intimidation not interest. You don’t have any business here. His shoulder ticked under his right ear and his pupils much too big with the bright sun. Sweat soaked the white tank that put his many tattoos on display.

Maybe she wants to buy something, chill out Rollos, the guy standing with him said laughing. Whatchew lookin’ for?

My breath was still coming out in gasps. I'd pushed myself too hard. Nothing, I panted and started around them. Whatever illegal pharmaceutical Rollos was raging on wasn’t going to bode well for me.

Rollos raced into my path, and I took a step back not wanting him to touch me. Maybe you come down here to look what’s beneath you huh? You trying to slum it? Zat what this is, Red?

Red? I pulled the earphones out of my ears and tried something I hadn’t done in weeks. Something I’d learned to do right there at the end of my old life, a gypsy trick. If I opened my mind up just right, I could put my words in the wind and have them carried to the person or persons of my choosing. I’m not pretending to understand how it works exactly, but it really came in handy when performed correctly. Leave her alone! I said on the wind. Or I thought I had but sweaty white tank top up front didn’t react.

I tried again. She’s poisonous let her pass by.

You don’t like to be called Red? He reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife. That’s too bad because I’m about to make you red all over.

Time for trick two.

A gypsy trick called Allure but would be more appropriately labeled unpredictable lust. I directed the Allure at the young men who were still seated, and they stood up.

Hold up, Rollos, the guy who spoke like he was in command said smiling at me. Maybe she wants to party with us.

I’d never had good luck when I’d used the Allure trick, and my heart was still hammering against my ribs. If the lust game played poorly with this leader, then I’d just gone and piqued the interest of the entire drug selling gang. I have to be going.

No, you’re not leaving, leader guy said smiling and taking a firm hold on my arm. I jerked out of his grasp and was just about to run with whatever was left of my strength, but a cool draft ran over my shoulders.

Richard found me.

Leader guy’s smile was gone and his already dilated eyes got even bigger. Where did he come from? The entire group was backing off.

I turned around and flinched when I saw his all-white eyes, his fangs were just beginning to extend. His brown hair was windblown, and his lean body began to stretch even taller than his six feet plus. Don’t do it, Richard.

Why not? I grabbed onto him with both hands, although we both knew I would never be able to stop a vampire or Baobhan Sith as the Gypsies called them. When he looked at me, the white began to fade like fog, and I could faintly see the brown of his irises. Didn’t that one say he wanted to make you red all over? He salivated in Rollos' direction.

You’re the one always telling me these mortals don’t matter. Prove it and let’s go.

"But he called you, Red." Richard’s eyes became an opaque white, and he evaporated from my grasp. I heard the men yell and try to run. They were disappearing sometimes two at a time. Flashes of Richard grabbing and biting into their throats then vanishing again before I could blink like an illusion, but it wasn’t.

Reaching out where I last saw him, I screamed, Stop it! I stood there with only myself and Rollos remaining. He ran to me with his knife drawn.

What is it? He gasped grabbing onto me. Rollos held me out in front of himself like a shield. It’s just a bad batch, he told himself.

No it isn’t.

What is it then?

Richard reappeared and disconnected Rollos' hands from me. His fangs were out and his mouth dripping blood.

Rollos was shaking his head and tears streaked his once hostile features. I’m sorry.

Too late. Richard took him, and I made myself start moving again. I didn’t want Richard to kill anyone else who came to see what all the yelling was about. Two blocks down I felt that cool whisper crawl across my neck. I’m going to kill every last blood sucking one of you. You realize that don’t you?

What? I don’t get athank you? Richards arm brushed against mine as he effortlessly matched my stride. Why did you leave the hotel where I left you?

I pulled my arm in closer to my body. I needed air.

Air? You’re seven miles from the hotel. Why are you trying to run away? Richard turned me toward him. I’ll always track you down, Piper. You can’t escape me.

He wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know but the tiny hairs at the back of my neck stood on end anyway. I glared into his intense dark eyes. They were so dark brown they were almost black. The lightest section circled his pupil in a last ditch effort to fight the darkness.

Why didn’t you defend yourself? You could have grown some noxious or poisonous plant with your earth luring abilities. Anything would have been better than using the Allure.

I didn’t answer him because I didn’t want him to know that neither the Earth Luring nor Wind Whispering skills I’d developed were working. He was all I had, but he was still my enemy.

Richard laced his fingers through mine. Before I could jerk my hand away he teleported us off the street. My stomach flip flopped lurching, almost emptying itself. Teleporting hurt, and I was completely over the novelty of it.

We were in a pet shop in the area used for holding and playing with the different animals. Richard handed me a blond cocker spaniel puppy with big amber brown eyes.

He winked at me when I raised my eyebrows at him. One by one he brought more puppies until the room was brimming with wiggling puppies and sweet puppy whimpers.

Little cold noses pressed at my ankles, and I sat down on the floor cuddling the sweet tiny balls of warm fur. No one else came in the room. Richard was walking around the store pretending not to watch me.

He came in once I’d finally lost myself in the puppies. Okay, now grow something.

I began shaking my head, but I realized a familiar hum had returned to my body, and I decided to try. Standing I left the room of puppies and walked over to one of the lizard aquariums. I looked at the moist dirt and thought of moss.

It grew.

Relief filled me like a gasp of air. The tension vanishing as the plant grew.

That’s exactly what I thought, Richard said from behind me. You’ve got to let go of all that rage you’re carrying around. The earth and nature don't understand hate.

I still hated you when I grew the moss, Richard.

He ran his fingers through my hair and the swipe I took at him missed, of course. I’ve discovered that prolonged exposure to me or Baobhans isn’t good for your snowy soul. Richard smiled down at me standing close enough to lead the other customers to believe we were together.

You only just figured that out? Aren’t you like a thousand years old?

I’m no where near that old. If I were I wouldn’t be helping you.

I shook my head at him. Don’t lie to me, Richard. You are helping me to help yourself. Now, why aren’t we on our way to free the first Baobhan already? I’d like to get on with my life without you and the other blood suckers.

Richard took a step back and sighed loudly. We’re waiting for Juliette. She hasn’t checked in since she doubled for you at the funeral.

Juliette was the one in the car? I could almost hear the tires screeching as my mind provided an instant replay of my very near-death experience. Maybe she really is dead.

We can’t die until the first is dead, I already told you that. He started walking so I followed. She has to be there when you set him free. Richard bent down and picked up one of the puppies from the room. Like this one?

I’m not taking a puppy. No one deserves the life I’m living. I left the store but not Richard, who never failed to stay in pace with me.

How long is she going to be M.I.A.?

Has anyone gone looking for her?

Richard smiled at me shoving his fisted hands into the pockets of the brown leather coat he wore. There’s that shiny white soul shining through, he chuckled. No, we haven’t looked for her.

But the last place you know of her being was the funeral?

Wanna go dig up your casket?

No. What’s wrong with you?

***

Nicholas?

My eyelids rose after I’d only just closed them. It didn’t matter I wouldn’t have slept anyway.

Are you awake?

What is it? I asked sitting up and swinging my legs off the bed at the same time.

Queen Isabeau is looking for you. Kizzy, my younger sister, watched me standing in my doorway with her arms tightly folded. She calls on you a lot. I sighed and bent to pick up my shoes. You aren’t the king. She shouldn’t be calling on you unless it has to do with security.

I stood. Maybe it does, Kizzy.

She rolled her eyes and then blocked the exit as I drew closer. Minerva is going to take the throne and she’s not going to be kind to you for not having supported her.

I’m not afraid of Minerva.

Kizzy’s eyes grew moist as she turned away from me and started down the hallway. You should be.

I walked through the mostly vacant house feeling inside just as the house. Empty. My parents, three of my four sisters, and three of my five brothers were outside the community working to build a new one.

My grandfather, Donnell, and my sister, Kizzy, were the only other members of my family that used the home I’d grown up in. Two of my brothers who belonged to the pack stayed with them preferring not to return to the house.

Blaming them was impossible for it was plain to see that what was once a home filled with strength, noise, and family was quiet and depressing. If Kizzy and my grandfather hadn’t been there I would not be either.

My grandfather watched me leave with such sadness I couldn’t stand to look at him. He never talked to me anymore and wasn’t the only one.

My pack obeyed without question but they too barely spoke to me. I didn’t know if there was some terrible trespass I’d committed that held everyone in confused silence. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

Brynn, Isabeau, and I agreed until we were sure whether Piper was a Baobhan or not we’d keep it to ourselves. Brynn and Isabeau were convinced she was because the Baobhan she had captured in the tree was free and only Piper could break the tree.

I could only remember bits and pieces of Piper’s time as a Gypsy. It was hard to sort what was fantasy and what was fact. I could not bring myself to accept the possibility that she could be a Baobhan.

Fourteen days had passed and there was only one way to find out if Piper was alive, dead or both. I’d gone into the cemetery a dozen times, but I couldn’t bring myself to dig up her grave. This was certain to be the topic of Isabeau’s summons.

When I stopped walking I found myself at the demolished yew tree. There was something, a memory that was trying to surface that kept bringing me to the tree. Closing my eyes, I could almost feel Piper in my arms. She was weak.

If this was a real memory, why had I been the one to hold her? Where was Toryn?

Hello, Nicholas, Minerva said from behind me. Are you okay?

What do you want? I asked losing the feeling of Piper on my hands and hating Minerva for taking the sensation from me.

Minerva sighed unfolding her arms. We aren’t enemies, Nicholas. We are still in the same clan. Only we have a difference in opinion. She was tall like her father, Morgan Castlerock the Baobhan. Her hair, a dark burnt red like Zorrin’s, lay over her left shoulder.

Her shirt left her shoulders exposed and her skirt was long and sheer showing off her shapely legs. Minerva, chewing on her lower lip, drew closer to me. We both know Isabeau isn’t strong enough to lead our people or to command the pack. Half the clan is gone. Everyone knows. You are supporting the wrong person for Queen.

I turned toward Minerva, and the corners of her pink lips began to curl into a smile. Maybe I am. Her mouth was like a perfect crescent when she smiled. "But between you and Isabeau, I’ll choose Isabeau every time.

Minerva’s smile fell. Why?

Who are you supposed to be in that outfit? Zorrin? You don’t even know who you are. Half the time you tell Madric you agree with him and half the time it’s Zorrin.

She met my challenging gaze without fear. I may be struggling to find the right balance for myself right now. At least, I’m not an out-and-out liar.

Minerva, I’m not going to get sucked into whatever game you’re playing.

Don’t you want to know why you keep coming to this tree? When our eyes met I could see she knew she had me. Or why Brynn just doesn’t do it for you anymore?

I watched her smile transform into one that resembled Zorrin and shuddered internally. Watch yourself, Minerva. You’re treading on thin ice.

Not really, because dear Isabeau has forbidden the clan to speak of it.

I laughed because it was absurd to entertain such a ridiculous lie.

Why do you think she keeps sending you to a grave you will never dig up? That’s when she reminds us not to tell. She placed a firm hand on my chest to keep me from leaving. You won’t dig her up because whether she’s there or not you know you’ll have to put her back into the ground. Her eyes slanted at me. You know you can’t.

Shame filled me that Minerva could recognize my infatuation over Piper so easily. I was to marry Brynn in less than three days. You’re wrong, my voice rumbled and deepened into a growl.

Prove it.

Chapter Two

It’s a nice day for this. Richard led the way.

It’s never a good day to dig up a grave. I walked after him, folding my arms and trying not to think about what I’d put my family and loved ones through at my funeral.

Richard whistled holding the shovel that swayed back and forth with his steps. You- He fell backward crashing into me. Uh oh, he said still half sitting on me.

Get off me. I pushed against his back.

I can’t move forward there is iron around your grave. That’ll be thanks to the bloody Gypsies.

I pushed again because he still hadn’t moved. You aren’t light, Richard.

He stood up and turned around to pull me up onto my feet. I was enjoying the warmth of your skin.

Stop acting obsessed and dig up my grave.

Who’s acting? He handed me the shovel.

I laughed and tossed the heavy long tool back. Not happening. Richard tossed the shovel to me again, and it flew at me faster than I could catch it.

The metal handle busted my lip open and it throbbed as blood dripped onto my chin. Ow! I touched my lower lip. That freakin’ hurt, you jerk.

When I glared at him, he was breathing heavy and his brown eyes were starting to cloud over. His nails grew long and sharp like the talons of a hawk only twice as large. You okay, Richard? I started backing up slowly toward my grave.

He yelled out a straining bellow, Stop bleeding.

Oh, okay. How silly of me. I glared at him covering my lip with the collar of my shirt. Stop what you’re doing, I said taking two more steps back. Richard’s white canine eye teeth grew long and sharp. That. Stop that. I dove onto my grave, just as he slammed up against an invisible wall knocking him backwards but not back to himself.

I watched him circling my grave like a shark until the bleeding stopped and then slowly the hidden demon monster he’d become withdrew until his features returned to the man Richard and not the Baobhan.

What was that?

He tossed the shovel next to me. A lesson for you not to bleed.

Yeah, obviously. I was out of line.

Then we agree. His grin was strained. I wondered if his loss of control had freaked him out as much as it had me.

For most of my life the only work I’ve ever had to do was at my Grandma Sidney’s animal sanctuary, and I’d learned to work hard. However, digging up my own grave wasn’t going to work. It’s going to take me all day to dig it up. Then we’ll have to bury it. I can’t do this fast enough alone.

Get started. I’ll go get you some help. He teleported before I could consider what methods he might use to find help.

I rolled the sod carefully aside and picked up the shovel.

The temptation to read my grave stone or wallow in self-pity was immense. Every time I gave in to the temptation, I died a little inside. I couldn’t afford that anymore. All the pain and sacrifice I’d literally been forced to endure couldn’t be for nothing.

I stabbed the dirt with the shovel and let my sadness harden again into anger. I did not forget my last moments with Nicholas. In those final moments, I was going to do what I should have done all along which was trust him to help.

Brynn made that impossible when she’d betrayed me and stabbed him with the syringe full of the Two Lips Abyss. The potion put him in a state where his memory was malleable like clay.

I had trusted Brynn to make him forget me, so he would be safe from the Baobhans, but she had done much more than that. That grasping, desperate leech cleared the slate of the betrayals she’d done against him. Brynn tricked him into thinking he loved her.

Concentrating I decided on the spur of the moment to send her a message on the wind. He doesn’t love you, and you know it. You will pay for your betrayal and pay dearly. Look for me because I’m coming after you, Brynn.

Channeling my anger into my task at hand I began to dig up my grave. Even with all the extra effort I was putting in it was slow going. Sweating and dirty I was about knee deep into my grave when I heard someone. Looking all around me, I didn’t see anybody.

Great, now I’m scaring myself.

I started digging again, and the ground shifted a little under my feet.

No thank you!

I began to climb out, and that’s when I saw a man in a gray jumpsuit approaching me with a shovel. His blond hair was thin and his blue eyes staring without seeing. I found myself staring back at him so stiff with fear I couldn’t move.

Is it a zombie?

Black Siths couldn’t come out in daylight, and Red Siths acted nothing like that. He landed in the hole next to me and almost sank his shovel into my foot. He would have if I hadn’t moved it just in time.

There you go. Some help.

What is it? I climbed out and backed away from the grave.

Richard didn’t answer me. His ears perked and his face became full of concentration. I stilled and didn’t hear anything except him when he said, Sounds like more help found you.

I followed him. What are you doing? What is going to happen to those people?

Piper, by now you should have learned to worry more about yourself. Get back to digging, I can smell your blood, and I still want it.

His warning sank in momentarily, and I almost did as he instructed. But, then I heard them too. A middle-aged couple was being led to view grave sites, they must have been plot shopping.

I gripped the shovel in my hands and got closer as Richard reached the trio. At first, he just made polite conversation and then when Richard had their attention he commanded them to dig up the grave. My plan had been to hit Richard with the shovel if he attempted to make more Red Siths. After hearing his command all I could do, all I could think about was digging up the grave. I turned to go and dig.

You should not have been listening, Richard said from beside me.

Stop popping up out of nowhere you poltergeist!

You don’t have to dig the hole. Let them do it for us. Instantly, the need to dig vanished, and I looked up

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