Unfortunate Souls (Book 1): Unfortunate Souls Series (The Unfortunate Souls Series), страница 1
JADE M PHILLIPS
To my husband and kids: I love you more than words can describe. Thanks for putting up with me during this process, I am truly grateful.
To my dad: I can’t thank you enough. You have been my most loyal supporter and the first to read everything I put on paper. You are my hero and I love you.
To the rest of the fam and friends who have supported me through thick and thin- Thank you!
And to my fans, with whom I would have nothing to write if it weren’t for you, Big Hugs!
Copyright © 2015
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited.
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Cover Art by Book Birdy Designs
TABLE OF CONTENTS
To Be Continued:
Like music? Click here to enjoy Unfortunate Soul’s Playlist on Spotify. Don’t have Spotify? Download for free on your app store! Happy Reading!
Do you know what dying feels like?
And believe me, it is not something I would recommend.
The act of dying is like falling, except you have nothing to land upon. You fall further and further into the dark, each fiber of your body growing weaker and more feeble as time progresses. It is awful, lonely, and cold. Imagine standing in the middle of the Artic with no clothes on, in subzero temperatures, during a blizzard, and that would hardly begin to explain how cold dying is. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
So you lay there on your deathbed, cold as hell-frozen-over, while your body becomes stiff and paralyzed, the effort to lift just one finger —despite whether you’re successful or not— takes more energy than it’s worth. Fear thunders through you like inky storm clouds when you realize that you are, in fact, dying, and you want to yell and curse and holler out loud. You want to scream that seventeen is too young to die, that it’s not your time yet.
Unfortunately, you cannot utter anything but a rattling breath, your mind fighting to take action but your arms and legs disagreeing. Your body shuts down sectors one at a time as though you were the captain of a sinking ship. Your blood flow ebbs, heart slows, lungs become heavy, muscles rigor, bones grow cold, and nerves go numb.
And the absolute worst thing about dying is that your mind’s the last thing to go. You are trapped within your own personal prison, one that is crumbling around you, and every fiber of your being is screaming with the human instinct for survival. The inner struggle is true torture.
When you finally become tired enough to give in, accepting death’s black chariot, it’s all gone like falling asleep— except without the waking up in the morning part.
Gone. Black. Void.
The last thing I remember before the blackness of death, was a single wet tear, rolling down my cheek, releasing the last bit of my soul with its departure.
But there’s another act of dying that I failed to mention— one many people cannot claim to have witnessed.
Mine was quite unorthodox in its happening really, and though I wished it had been a traditional re-birth, it was not. It was nothing like waking from a deep slumber where you’d fade into the world one sense at a time, the sun leaking through your window shades to warm your blanket.
No, it was more like being ripped from a warm embrace and thrown into a tub of freaking ice water, the shock of it rocking you to the core. It is new and bizarre and jarring, and very, very painful to say the least. I now know why newborn babies cry when entering the world for the first time…
Any shred of light scalds your eyeballs. Any little sound jams its way into your ear canal, intensified a hundredfold, like the shrieking of sirens. Any touch is like sandpaper on your tender skin, and bolts of lightning connect every nerve, muscle, and bone, as your body tries to acclimate to its new and foreign surroundings.
Even your sense of smell heightens, aromas and scents so pungent they churn your sensitive stomach. Heat and cold are more intense, like the freezing burn of fire and ice, your mind flashing wildly with colors, sounds, and smells you never knew existed.
At least that was the way it was for me —my body bursting into a whole different world where I would begin my new life.
My life as a vampire.
My heart hammered inside my chest as I flew down the stairs two at a time, betrayal twisting my insides.
“Ruby. Ruby wait.” Mom called out after me but I ignored her and kept running until I hit the front door.
“You come back here right now, Ruby Carter,” boomed my father’s voice, or— as I’d just found out— the man who’d been posing as my father for the last seventeen years. A spiteful lump formed in my throat as I threw open the door, thinking if I ran fast enough I could avoid this whole situation and pretend it never happened.
“Honey, let’s talk about this,” Mom pleaded, and resentment flushed through my body like scorching fire at her calm voice.
I stopped momentarily to look behind me, wondering how my parents could do this to me, my eyes burning with unshed tears. I could feel my heart literally shattering inside of my chest.
My mom and ‘dad,’ the man who’d lied and said he was my biological father all these years, stood at the top of the stairs. His brows were creased together, his face turning red. My mom looked sad and I almost felt bad for her. Almost. She’d been in on this hoax too, never revealing the truth until now. I clenched my teeth and fisted my hands at my sides. As far as I was concerned they could both go to hell.
“You lied to me!” The furious lump in my throat grew to the size of a baseball, my neck throbbing from suppressed tears. I could barely breathe. “All this time you… you lied to me!”
Mom slid me a sympathetic glance, her voice coming out barely above a whisper. “Ruby—”
I spun around and leapt into the hot, sticky evening and slammed the door behind me, hating everything about my life. A jack-rabbit bolted across my path as I ran down the drive, past the car I’d g
Why would they? Both of them were never around anyway, more concerned about their careers than me. Had they been there when I’d broken my leg? No. Had they been there when I lost my first tooth? No. Had they been there when my dog had been run over by a car? No. My chest tightened like an invisible hand was squeezing the air from my lungs. And now come to find out that my dad wasn’t really my dad after all, but a false replica, had me reeling.
Earlier that evening my parents had sat me down for a “talk,” telling me that my real father had abandoned my mother when she was pregnant with me nearly eighteen years ago. He’d left and never came back and I couldn’t help but think all this time my life had been a lie. Angry tears threatened to spill from my eyes as I found myself alone in the neighborhood park.
The sky was darkening to the east and grey clouds formed like giant angry sheep, threatening another summer storm— a storm like the one I felt raging inside of me. I resisted the urge to pick up the nearest rock and throw it, my hands trembling so much I’d probably drop it before I had the chance. A gust of wind whipped my hair behind me as I threw myself into the nearest swing, burying my face into my hands, trying to cry. I tried to let the tears fall, but couldn’t for being so numb. I’d been blind-sided by this shocking information—and the night before my eighteenth birthday no less.
I couldn’t help but wonder why my parents had waited so long to tell me that my father wasn’t, in fact, my father. But as I pondered the notion, it all came together like the pieces to some jacked-up puzzle— how he never spent much time with me and how he always had trouble showing me affection. It’s because I wasn’t truly his. I wasn’t his real daughter and he’d known it all along.
To say that I was infuriated was a huge understatement, a combination of abandonment and rage tearing through my chest like a jagged knife. I sat up straight, wondering what to do as the harsh breeze bit at my skin. Another gust of wind kicked up a cloud of dust and I squeezed my eyes shut.
At least I still had my boyfriend, John. I couldn’t think of anyone else at the moment that would understand like he would. I slipped my trembling hand in my pocket to retrieve my cell phone.
“Hey.” He picked up after only one ring, relief flooding through me at hearing his voice.
“John.” I breathed, trying to keep my voice calm, not wanting to let on how upset I really was. “I… I didn’t know who else to call. I—”
“I’m glad you called Ruby. We need to talk.” His voice sounded distant, weird.
Wait—what? I scrunched my confused brows together, holding the phone between my chin and shoulder. I’d called to tell him about my parents, but the strange sound of his voice indicated he had something just as important to tell me. My insides squirmed uneasily and I rocked myself back and forth in the swing, my feet planted on the ground.
Silence fell between us for a long moment, while I tried to process what was going on. A piece of trash flew across the park and John cleared his throat.
“There’s been something on my mind lately. Something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about.”
My heart picked up pace. His words were ominous and gloomy just like the weather had become.
They sounded like break-up words.
But that couldn’t be. John had been my best friend for as long as I could remember, and as we grew older things began to change and our classic childhood friendship became more than friendly. It was never like fireworks or anything, but it was as if we were always meant to be together.
Yet, instead of explaining, John fell silent as though searching for the words. A lock of my hair whipped in front of my face. I pulled it away.
“John.” A treacherous tear escaped from my eye. “Say something.” I felt the temperature drop as dark clouds covered the setting sun. I wrapped my arms around my chest and took a deep breath. “What’s going on? Just tell me.”
John didn’t reply but his breath heaved in the speaker, making it sound like I was having a conversation with the wind. I was getting uncomfortable with his strained silence and forced out a laugh, trying to lighten things up. “What? Did you lose your scholarship to the U of A or something?”
“Just… just let’s meet somewhere.” He sounded distant. Cold.
Fear seeped through my body and constricted my lungs. I struggled to breathe. “John, you’re acting weird. What’s going on? Just tell me. I’ve had a rough day and just found out—”
“Rubes…” He released a huff, again thwarting my attempt to tell him what had happened. He then coughed, clearing a frog from his throat. “I got accepted to ASU. I’m leaving tomorrow to check out the dorms.”
My heart plummeted like a skydiver without a parachute. John wasn’t supposed to go to ASU, that was two hours away, in Phoenix. We had both agreed on going to the U of A in Tucson. And he was leaving tomorrow, on my birthday?
“It’s better for me. It’s a better scholarship. Some of the best pro football players are recruited from ASU. I just… I can’t pass it up.”
My heart raced with panic but I took a deep breath and reeled myself back in, considering that I might be making a bigger deal out of this than it actually was. Of course I was happy for John and I only wanted the best for him. We could still visit each other on weekends, or maybe after a semester I could get transferred to ASU.
I feigned a half-hearted smile, trying to make light of the situation. “That’s okay. We’ll only be two hours away from each other. I’m going up to Tucson to set up my dorm next week. I’ll make sure I bring your favorite bean bag—oh, and on Friday nights you could drive down, or I could—”
“Ruby.” He cut in. “That’s what I’m trying to say. I don’t think that will work.”
My stomach lurched and I did what I always did when feeling uncomfortable—came down with a case of verbal diarrhea. “Of course it will. And maybe after a while, I can check out the nursing program at ASU. Maybe I could transfer there and—”
John cleared his throat, interrupting my rant.
“I… I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want you to have to do that. You need to focus on school. And I need to focus on football. We wouldn’t have time for…”
“Time for what?” Betrayal sliced through my heart like hot syringes. “Time for each other? Time for a relationship? Is that what you’re saying?”
His silence answered my question.
My heart shattered and tears stung my eyes. So he was breaking up with me after all. The man —the boy— I had known my whole life, the one I had thought I would someday grow old with, was leaving me just like my real father had left me and my mother before I was born, throwing me to the side like an old greasy lunch sack filled with stale French fries. And the day before my eighteenth birthday no less. Bastard. Sickness wrenched my insides and I thought I might throw up. I resisted telling him about my parents and what I’d learned about my father. It was pointless now that he was ending our relationship.
“I’m sorry Ruby. I didn’t want it to end like this.”
I swiped away my tears, trying to steady my breath. I didn’t want him to know I was crying. Regardless, my tears found their way to my lips, spreading a salty taste through my mouth. The wind blasted through the park, crackling the speaker in my ear. John’s voice was low and heavy.
“You’ve been great and all. But I haven’t fully lived my life yet. I haven’t weighed all my options.”
My fingers curled around the swing chain, white-hot anger replacing my sorrow. I didn’t know what to say or do. But one thing was for sure, I wasn’t about to beg for him to take me back. He could go straight to hell right along with my parents. John released a sympathetic breath.
I clamped my lips together, offering no response, thinking of the old saying, ‘If you have nothing nice to say…'
“Listen. I’m sorry, Ruby.”
Angry fire consumed me and, in retrospect, I wished I’d just told John to take a long walk off a short pier rather than offering my silence. Awesome. This is just freaking awesome. I released a mocking, huffing, pissed-off breath, fury crashing through me like a bomb. I finally found my voice, spitting out the first thing that came to mind, though it wasn’t the best zinger out there.
“Have fun at ASU.”
I threw my phone into the dirt. I wasn’t okay. I wasn’t fine. As a matter of fact, I was the complete opposite. I was devastated and alone— not to mention as mad as a toppled ant hill. In the matter of one hour, my world had crumbled down around me and I’d lost everything; my father, my family, and now… my boyfriend.
I jumped from the swing and raced all the way back to my house, the fierce wind pushing against me sideways, making it hard to run. I hopped into my car, fished my keys from my pocket and turned the ignition. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do, but I didn’t care. I needed to just go, to drive someplace away from the aching in my gut and the blackness in my heart. And just as I peeled from the drive, the monsoon storm struck, howling winds bending the trees horizontally across the street. But I didn’t give a crap about the weather, speeding like a maniac down the road, fat raindrops falling from the sky mirroring the tears flooding my eyes.
At the time, I was unaware that my impulsive actions would lead me to stare straight into the face of death. And instead of allowing myself time to cool off and process my screwed-up situation, I made a grave mistake by driving straight into the storm. Straight into danger. Straight into a path that would change my life forever. Straight to my death.
It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and what a picture she had been lying there in the dirt, her body a work of art in itself, sadly writhing in pain. The glow of her pale skin, the contrast of the cherry-red blood running down her neck from the bite wound, and her mouth stretched open in a silent scream all had me staring in awe.