Kindred (Book 1 The Kindred Series), p.1Erica Stevens / Romance & Love
Copyright 2012 Erica Stevens
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Also from the author
Books written under the penname Erica Stevens
The Captive Series
Captured (Book 1)
Renegade (Book 2)
Refugee (Book 3)
Salvation (Book 4)
Redemption (Book 5)
Broken (The Captive Series Prequel)
Vengeance (Book 6)
Unbound (Book 7)
The Fire & Ice Series
Frost Burn (Book 1)
Arctic Fire (Book 2)
Scorched Ice (Book 3)
The Kindred Series
Kindred (Book 1)
Ashes (Book 2)
Kindled (Book 3)
Inferno (Book 4)
Phoenix Rising (Book 5)
The Ravening Series
Ravenous (Book 1)
Taken Over (Book 2)
Reclamation (Book 3)
The Survivor Chronicles
Book 1: The Upheaval
Book 2: The Divide
Book 3: The Forsaken
Book 4: The Risen
Books written under the penname Brenda K. Davies
The Alliance Series
Eternally Bound (Book 1)
Hell on Earth Series
Hell on Earth (Book 1) Coming August 2017
The Road to Hell Series
Good Intentions (Book 1)
Carved (Book 2)
The Road (Book 3)
Into Hell (Book 4)
The Vampire Awakenings Series
Awakened (Book 1)
Destined (Book 2)
Untamed (Book 3)
Enraptured (Book 4)
Undone (Book 5)
Fractured (Book 6)
A Stolen Heart
Special thanks to my husband for his endless patience and support,
my parents for raising some amazing children,
my siblings for being those children,
and Leslie Mitchell at G2 Freelance Editing for all her hard work and encouragement.
Table of Contents
Also by the author
Where to find the author
About the author
16 years earlier
"Take them! Mary take them! You have to go!"
Mary stared at the two blond headed children who had just been thrust into her arms. Her son stared at her with sapphire eyes that were startlingly wise and more than a little unnerving for a one year old. His small hands curled around his blanket as he watched his mother. The other baby was just as quiet, her eyes a startling violet blue that also appeared excessively knowing for her age. Though Mary had never said anything, the age within the children's eyes had always slightly unnerved her.
Now it terrified her.
"Mary!" She blinked in startled surprise at the man before her, the man who had just handed her the children, John. He was her husband, but she now realized she didn't know him at all. She had never known him. The thought sent a fresh wave of cold dread down her spine. Goose pimples broke out on her flesh; she could barely breathe through the anxiety clutching at her chest.
"Mary, you must get them to safety."
She began to shake as she clung to the children who had yet to make a sound. "Take them! Take them where?" She had to battle against the tears filling her eyes and clogging her throat.
Jessie, the girl's mother, nudged John out of the way as she stepped forward. Her dark blue, almost violet eyes were turbulent, and her unruly golden hair tumbled around her face. "To my mother in Florida, she'll know what to do. She'll keep you safe."
"Safe from what?" Mary hated the hysterical note in her voice, but her body hummed with panic.
"She'll fill you in when you get there," Derek, Jessie's husband, informed her. "You must go Mary." Unlike Jessie and John, Derek was relatively calm. Exceptionally calm considering he was telling her to take his daughter and flee to Florida. Flee from what, Mary didn't know, but they seemed adamant that she go. "If you stay, you will die. They will die. Now go!"
Mary gaped at him as her heart hammered. "I don't understand," she cried. "I don't understand any of this!"
"I'm sorry honey, but you must listen to us. You must get yourself, and the children, to safety," John insisted.
"What about you? Why don't you come with me?" she demanded. She wanted to grab hold of his arm and shake some answers out of him, but the children within her grasp stopped her from doing so.
"We can't, they'll only follow us. We'll meet you later," Jessie informed her, though Mary realized with heart wrenching certainty that Jessie was lying. They would not be meeting her later. Mary was beginning to realize she would never see any of them again.
"The police, we must go to the police," she whispered.
"They're useless," Brent said harshly. Mary's gaze shot to the man who had been mute until now. Mary didn't know Brent well and he had never seemed to approve of her much for some reason. However, he’d been friends with Jessie, Derek, and John for years even though he was a good twenty years older than them. Mary had never understood their strange relationship, but they were extremely close, and often kept her in the dark as they whispered with each other. She had always resented their relationship, and her exclusion from it, but she had kept her bitterness hidden, unwilling to upset or annoy her husband. "If you involve them, you will only get them hurt and yourself killed."
"They're coming." John's body tensed as his lip curled into a sneer. "Go!" He dropped a kiss quickly on her head before shoving her toward the door. "Go now, before it's too late!"
Mary stumbled as he shoved her out the back door to the waiting car. A car that she hadn't started, but was already idling at the ready, and appeared to have bags shoved into the back. "Wait!" Mary froze as Jessie snagged hold of her arm; tears shimmered in her eyes. "Take care of my daughter. Please Mary, I am begging you to keep Cassie alive!"
Mary stared back at the frantic woman she had considered her best friend. She'd never been more wrong about someone; Jessie was alien to her now. Mary managed a small nod but her mouth was dry and her throat clogged. "I will," she vowed.
Jessie released her and took a step back as tears rolled down her cheeks. Mary had no idea what was happening, but their distress spurred her into action. Fleeing down the back stairs, she hastily strapped the children into their car seats and jumped behind the wheel. Her hands were shaking as she shifted the car into reverse and pulled out of the drive as calmly as her thumping heart would allow.
She glanced back at the home she had shared with her husband and his friends. People she now realized she knew nothing about. Nor, she realized with bone shaking certainty, did she know her own son. She glanced at the eerily soundless children in the rearview mirror. The girl was usually fussy in the car seat; she was immobile now and didn't fight against the straps. Her son was usually fast asleep the minute he hit the car, but he was staring at her. With their blond hair and wide, unblinking eyes, Mary was suddenly reminded of the Children of The Corn. A chill ran down her back as she choked on the tears burning her eyes.
Shrill screams pierced the night. Mary jumped in surprise, her eyes flew back to the house as the sound of splintering wood shattered the air. For a moment she couldn't move as more shouts, and the sounds of an ensuing battle, rent the silent night.
Then, her survival instincts kicked into gear. Shifting into drive, she stomped on the gas. The tires spun on the asphalt and squealed loudly before finally grabbing hold. The smell of burning rubber followed her as she sped down the road toward Florida. It was almost a ten hour drive, but she had a feeling she would make it there in record time.
She never looked back; she knew nothing but death followed behind her. She was certain that whatever had killed them would be coming for her next. The realization she’d lost her loved ones wasn't nearly as unnerving as the fact that though she squealed through turns, raced through red lights, and people blared their horns at her, the children remained hushed, and knowing.