Authors: Leanna Ellis
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Horror, #Vampires
Copyright Â© 2011 by Leanna Ellis
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Plain fear : forsaken / Leanna Ellis.
1. AmishâFiction. 2. VampiresâFiction. I. Title.
Jacob Fisher shoved the metal door, banging it against the warehouse, and the hollow sound reverberated in the awaiting stillness.
Don't look back.
Not one glance
As he bolted into the sticky heat, darkness devoured him, but he continued into it, grateful for his only cover. The damp pavement made his tennis shoes skid, and his arms flailed wide as he regained his balance and pushed himself faster, harder, further. A shaft of light injected hope into him.
Lungs burning, he risked one glance over his shoulder. Just one.
The warehouse door remained open, the alley empty. He was alone. For now. But how much longer? Whispers encircled him. Was it the wind? Or was it
Angels and ministers of grace defend us,
” Jacob whispered the Shakespearean words like a prayer.
Or had he gone crazy?
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitableâ¦
weren't a fabrication of his imagination or a half-baked fantasy.
were real, far too real. The blood, the bodies, and the evil permeating every crevice were authentic. Trolls of the night. Visitors from the bowels of hell. Their purpose was heinous, reflected in those black eyes that were void of feeling. And
chased after him now.
Misty rain surrounded him, not falling and yet always there, disorienting and confusing him. In those few seconds, he lived a century before he reached the end of the alley and skidded to a stop. Streetlamps provided halos of golden light, illuminating cars and storefronts, and yet at the same time created shadowy exiles. Where was everyone? An hour earlierâor had more time passed than he realized?âthe street had teemed with people. Cars had honked, sirens screamed, and traffic lights blinked green, yellow, and red in quick succession. Both young and old had jockeyed for place along the crowded sidewalks, eager to get home after a long workweek.
But now, not one soul. Not one person to help. Not a single witness.
Fear gnawed at him. He'd only felt that kind of fear once before, when he had knelt beside Hannah's too still body. But his mind had stormed the barricade of fear then, frantic and frenzied.
Do something! Quick!
His heart had pounded out doubt.
How could he save her?
Now what could he do to save himself? This fear continued to chase him, snapping at his heels. He bolted ahead of it, keeping just out of its chilling reach.
He kept to the sidewalk's edge, pressed his body flat along the brick building, pausing before each darkened doorway.
Glance left. Right. Go.
Shoot through the pale lamplight. Stop in the dark. Chest heaving. Checkâfront, back, then go again.
Metal bars covered the windows of the shops. Someone had warned him this part of New Orleans wasn't safe. What part was? But wasn't the possibility of danger why he'd come to the Big Easy?
His whole life he'd played with danger like a child's toy, running further, climbing higher, pushing farther than any of his friends dared. Maybe that's why he'd read books with their forbidden, dark views that had given him a glimpse of another world, a world set apart from what he'd known and experienced in his home of Promise, Pennsylvania, and made him question, wonder, and imagine. All his life he'd yearned to walk on the sinister edge, teetering on the brink of uncertainty.
But not anymore. God help him! Not anymore.
He imagined his father clad in plain, black clothes with his straw, flat-brimmed hat, his stern, sullen expression accompanying the slight disapproving shake of the head that made his long beard dust the front of his shirt. Jacob had seen that look too many times, and he could almost hear his father say the usual, “
Then something solid snagged Jacob's foot, and he stumbled out of his memory and righted himself with a steadying hand on the brick wall of a pawnshop. He glanced back at the shadowsâa dirt-crusted shoeâ¦a shabby coatâ¦grizzled face. The old man's watery eyes swayed drunkenly, unable to focus, and he clutched a nearly empty bottle.
Could this old drunk be a sacrificial lamb? His salvation? Could he serve as a decoy? The decision came easily. Too easily. Jacob took one step away. Then another. Rationalizations paved his escape. Who would miss this drunk? No one would blame Jacob for abandoning him, leaving him in the path of those who were coming.
But one last glance at the old man slowed his footsteps. Guilt clawed at him, ripped through the fear. More of his father's words came back to him:
Doing right is often doing that which is hardest.
Cursing his own stupidity, Jacob jerked around, brushed at the sweat on his forehead, and retraced his path. “Hey! Hey, mister?”
The old man's head bobbled as if it might roll off his shoulders.
“Is there somewhere you can go?” Months in New Orleans had shaved off most of the Pennsylvania Dutch accent from Jacob's speech.
The drunk mumbled something unintelligible.
Jacob hesitated. Should he sacrifice himself for an old drunk?
If it be God's will.
Right was right, no matter if it was in Promise or New Orleans. He grasped the old man's dark brown coat. The smell of urine, sweat, and rancid wine made his nostrils flare.
The drunk yanked back, protecting his bottle, and the liquid sloshed. “Mine.”
“I don't want your booze, old man.” Reaching into his jean pocket, Jacob pulled out a folded twenty. The way he'd once offered a carrot to an obstinate workhorse on Daniel Schmidt's farm back home, he waved the money in front of the drunk. “Look, here. I'll buy you more booze. Whatever you want.”
The weak, bloodshot brown gaze locked onto the bill, and the old man swiped a hand outward in a slow, klutzy effort to gain the twenty. His legs twitched as if trying to stand but were limp and disjointed. Jacob fisted the money and grasped the man around the middle. He weighed less than a couple sacks of feed.
Jacob dragged the drunk past a darkened drug store and cleaners.
He kept moving forward, glancing behind each time he thought he heard a footfall, the sound of a distant siren, or whispers.
“Thirsty.” The man's voice sounded condensed by the thick, moist air. Fog rose from the pavement like tidewaters.
“Just a little further,” Jacob coaxed. But where would they go? And how long till
Neon lights from a liquor store flashed red across the pavement, and an electric sign in the window buzzed and popped. He pulled the old man toward the light and propped him near the door. Metal mesh curled from the outer door and scraped Jacob's arm, drawing blood. Flinching, Jacob jerked open the door and twisted the knob of the inner one.
Liquor bottles lined the shelves behind a counter, and a black man glared at him, his brow furrowing over thick brows and suspicious eyes. “We're closed.”
Jacob pressed the twenty in the old man's hands and shoved him forward. “Stay here. Until it's safe. And”âhe met the irritated gaze of the clerkâ“lock the door.”
Without waiting for a reply, Jacob searched the shadows along the street. Nothing stirred. Silence constricted all sounds. But he sensed
. He heard their whispers, circling, clouding out all reason, disorienting him. They stalked him. Hunted him like prey. They
coming. Would nothing stop them? With all the time in the world, it was a game to them
and they would toy with him first.
He pushed through the fog and rain, the drops thickening and falling in earnest, plastering his shirt to his chest. Through the silvery haze, a statue glowed ghostlike; its smooth face calmed him, drew him toward it, and he stumbled forward, crossing a street. The whispers fell away as he crouched low and found refuge beneath the shadow of its angelic wing. From that vantage point, he squinted up at the soft curve of the cheek, the full lower lip. His heart thudded heavily. The smooth marble reminded him of
face. He should have never left her. Why had he? Tears blurred his vision and the stone angel wavered before him. The words of an old poem came back to him: “
But we loved with a love that was more than love
If he lived through this night, he would go home. To Hannah.