EXCERPTS~ Phoenix Book 1
The world through Elora Gannon's eyes...
A life for a life I vow...by embrace of fire and spirit, I conquer death.
High is the price of immortality, a life for a life I vow...
There’s just something about waking up on your sixteenth birthday to find that you are the equivalent to everything your worst nightmares are made of. And that’s exactly what happened to me. My name is Elora Rae Gannon. I’ve been raised in a home that has frequently been hosed down by testosterone since birth. My mother Avril died during childbirth, my childbirth leaving me to be raised by my single father Sam Gannon.
I believe I’m somewhat getting off the subject, so let me start again. I woke on November 17th to find that my mother had belonged to a unique club or society of people, if you will, known as the Phoenix Elite. No big deal, right? Wrong. As with any other secret society the Elite have their secrets. Secrets that would set me apart from my fellow students at Frederick High School and my best friend of nine years, Chloe Salas. Chloe despised the small group of Elite in our school and with good reason for the most part. Most of them were serious snots with the talent and looks to back it up. But what she despised the most was the secrets. Chloe had been doing research on the Elite for over three years and wanted to expose them in a newspaper article that she hoped would catapult her career into stardom before she ever set foot on college campus. But there was one little problem, I, her BFF, was the Elite’s new inductee.
I wish I could say I had a choice in the matter but the truth is…Phoenix is in my blood. You see- Phoenixes aren’t entirely human and humans for the most part don’t know it. Supposedly we came from an ancient Egyptian bloodline of Gods. The Ennead or something like that, sons and daughters of Amun Re and that wasn’t even the half of it.
I was pulled from school the Monday following my birthday by my crush and fellow Phoenix, Ezra Denton and taken to Elite headquarters where I was given the choice to join the Elite or die. Yeah, you heard right, D-I-E. I wish I’d chosen death over the monster I was becoming. Little did I know that in exactly one year’s time I would have to choose again between life and death and every year after. After taking the Oath which solidified me as a Phoenix the spirit of Amun Re matured in my body and with it I was given a thirst. An abhorred thirst which made me the monster I am today. Everything I’d ever read growing up of vampires, werewolves and the like made me feel like the devil in comparison. The Phoenixes steal lives. Like the mythological Phoenix which lived off of air alone, we live off of the air in humans’ lungs. Their very life force. And the real kicker is that our taking of life will only prolong our own for one more year.
The logical choice, you would think, would be to let our own life force die out. One by one rid the Earth of our kind, right? But it’s not that easy. When nearing the day when you must renew, it’s like drowning. Your lungs burn like molten fire and nothing but taking life can stifle that pain. Few have been strong enough to let themselves die and save the life of those we’re supposed to protect. See, we haven’t always been monsters. It started before the first Egyptian Dynasty when a half human half god named Set or Seth took his cousin Osiris’s wife, Aset, and impregnated her with his son whom he called Isaac. Isaac was the first of his kind, a creature called the Ruhk. The Ruhk had wings the color of coagulated blood and eyes so black they rivaled night itself.
Before Seth’s life was finally taken because of his betrayal, he spoke a curse into existence. His son Isaac would fall into a deep sleep upon his sixteenth birthday and would only awaken to avenge him when the strongest of Aset’s descendants was born into the Phoenix world. Then he would rule Aset and the Elite with the lowly humans planted firmly under his feet.
Apparently I am that descendant. And now my best friend is missing for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, I’m moving to a new school specifically for Phoenix kind four hours from my father, the only family I’ve ever known and I can’t even make out with my new boyfriend for fear of sucking out his life!
My life is in utter upheaval and I’d do anything to get it back on track. Even face down a god- and I had a feeling that’s exactly what I was going to have to do. But not before my best friend would throw our relationship in the trash and emotionally handicap me before I could say apocalypse!
A black, cloth was pulled over my head and I was flung effortlessly over someone’s shoulder in a fireman’s carry. I could tell my captor was jogging as I felt the jarring of his shoulder in my gut, I thought I might puke at any second and would’ve if I thought it’d stop my captor in his tracks, but I doubted it. I swallowed against the bile, juice and Pop Tart churning in my gut and tried to take a deep breath. He stopped abruptly and thrust me into the seat of a vehicle. Front or back seat, I wasn’t sure but the door closed behind me with a thud and that’s when I realized my hands were bound. I was so distracted and terrified I’d never even felt my captor bind me. Zip cord, I could feel the hard plastic cutting into my skin. I struggled to sit up but couldn’t see anything but the tiny fibers of my black hood. The light outside did very little in the way of penetrating the material.
“Where are you taking me?” I spat to whoever was listening. A slight shadow of movement caught my eye.
“In due time, Elora. You are in no danger.”
“I’ve been bound and abducted but I’m in no danger? I don’t know what tree you fell out of but where I come from it's called kidnapping and it carries a prison sentence in all fifty states!”
The man (I could tell my captor was a he, by his deep voice.) sighed and chuckled to himself as he made a left turn suddenly causing me to slide toward him. Okay, front seat. I tried to focus on how many turns he was making, left or right and how far he drove on each stretch of road but it was pointless, he was clearly trying to throw me off.
“Who are you?” I managed to sit up and turned my head in the direction I believed him to be seated.
“I am a senior at Frederick High and a Phoenix but you already knew that, didn’t you?”
“So, people do have reason to fear Phoenixes.” I breathed only a small sigh of relief that my abductor was a Phoenix. “Tell me, do all of the Phoenixes partake in the kidnapping of innocents?” My nerves were beginning to settle a bit now that I knew I wasn’t a victim of some deranged nutcase. At least he didn’t sound like a deranged nut. But I guessed insanity was no respecter of persons- was it?
“You are quite a handful aren’t you? I believe you were informed that you would be taking the Oath today, don’t play dumb Miss Gannon. You’ve been told who and what you are. And with that knowledge come secrets and the whereabouts of our headquarters will be kept secret from you until you’ve taken the vows.”
“It’s not like I was told I’d be kidnapped!” I growled. “And what happens if I refuse?”
“You will die.” A sick feeling washed over me and now I really did feel like vomiting. Maybe my captors really were deranged.
“Now the Phoenixes are involved in murder? Kidnapping and murder. Terrific, sucky birthday to this-”
“Don’t be stupid. We won’t kill you.” Memory of his voice surfaced but I couldn’t place-
“Who then?” I was afraid to find out. My breathing became shallow and I could feel myself beginning to hyperventilate.
“Are you okay?” The car slowed.
“No,” I croaked. “I feel sick. And it’s hard for me to breathe under this- stupid- THING!” I panted as I tried to slow my breathing. It wasn’t working. “It’s- not- everyday that a- person- finds out that they,” I took a deep breath, in, out, in, out, and began to gain control but now tears were welling in my eyes. “They must choose- to become a freak or die-” I finished. The dang dam broke and I began to sob.
The car came to a stop. The man turned to me and slid his hands beneath the hood covering my head and lifted it just above my nose and held it firmly against my eyes. I could feel his hot breath on my face and a tingle rose within my core. His voice was so freaking familiar…my heart thrummed. I wasn’t scared anymore, just angry.
“It’s okay. Everything is going to be fine,” he whispered soothingly. “Calm down.” He brushed away the tears that trailed both sides of my cheeks with his thumbs. I immediately felt better for some reason as a strange feeling come over me.
“Are you ever going to tell me who you are?” I sucked in another breath and shivered. The air around me smelled of leather and woodsy-type cologne mingled with the salt from my tears. I’d smelled that scent before, minus the salt. I blew out noisily waiting for his response. I knew I must look a mess, probably had snot streaming from my nose so I sniffed hard. Nope, not yet.
“You know me,” he whispered again. His breath swept my flushed face causing me to shiver, but not from the cold this time. Then the familiar voice owner pressed his lips tenderly against mine. I stopped shaking instantly. How did he do that? A dozen faces flashed before my eyes but only one felt right. Ezra Denton, the most amazing, most perfect guy in Frederick High School or maybe any school for that matter. He was a five foot eight track and baseball star with steely-gray eyes which at times appeared almost silver with messy, burnt chestnut locks, which most days he wore in an unkempt, faux hawk. He was also a senior and teacher’s aide to Ms. Batton in my first hour choir class. I’d only drooled over him for the past three years, but he had really come into his own in the last year and no one and I mean no one could compare in looks or talent to him as far as I was concerned. A lot of guys went through that awkward stage where you were unsure of how good looking they would be when they were fully matured, but not Ezra. He had always maintained a strong, well-defined frame, great skin and oozed self-confidence.
His lips were soft and warm and I suddenly liked the idea of being taken captive by this Phoenix. He pulled back far too soon for my taste; instinctively I felt my body inchworm closer to his.
“I told you, you knew me,” he breathed, then gently tugged the cloth down over my face again and pulled the car back onto the road.
I drew my knees to my chest unsure of how to respond to what just happened. I had just been kidnapped and then happily un-kidnapped by the same extraordinary man who had been the center of many of my day dreams and night dreams for years, yet, I was still bound and didn’t know where I was being taken. And suddenly I didn’t care as long as I was with Ezra.
A life for a life I vow...by embrace of fire and spirit, I conquer death.
High is the price of immortality, a life for a life I vow.