DAYBREAKER – Book 5 in the UNDERTOW Series
In the epic conclusion to the Undertow series, 18-year-old Eila Walker is no longer the last surviving Lunaterra, and her Trial, Rillin, finally has the young woman he lost so long ago, back in his arms: Elizabeth.
But Elizabeth, despite being a brilliant fighter, is not exactly a thrill-a-minute. Her abrasive personality often rubs everyone the wrong way. But despite their mutual loathing, Eila must find common ground with Elizabeth, for Elizabeth is the only one who knows how to kill Therophel once and for all.
But the task of murdering the fallen angel won’t be easy – he’s overthrown the Wrecker empire of Mayhem and taken it for himself. Now fortified within the towering tree walls, and protected by hundreds of Linked Mortis, Therophel clearly has the upper hand.
But the fallen angel, while powerful, may’ve underestimated the resolve of a crew of supernatural teenagers from Cape Cod . . .
East Yonder Township, Pennsylvania
Monday, 7:35 AM
Dolores’ Restaurant in the tiny town of East Yonder was a food establishment in the loosest sense of the word. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the Milk Way, but way more questionable . . . as in I doubted that it was inspected by the health department in the last decade. Or ever.
I was fairly certain that we’d end up with food poisoning along with the Scrapple listed on the blackboard menu, but we were exhausted, starving, and stuck with a kid whose idea of high cuisine was roadkill roasted over an open fire. By comparison, Dolores’ shack was a way better option.
We’d manage to get from the donut truck to the town in under an hour, walking through the dense forest surrounding the valley until we reached its outer edge, which happened to be a small junkyard complete with elderly man sitting on a ramshackle porch. He eyed us warily, especially since we nearly had to drag Jared through the piles of cars, his itchy, thieving fingers wanting to rip all the hood ornaments from the old automobiles and pocket them.
Given that we were already on the semi-run from the law thanks to Nikki’s house, Faust’s collapse, MJ’s torched Bronco, and even the Hole Food’s truck, I didn’t need Jared snatching something from the junkyard. I had shoved him along, warning him that I’d scream “thief” if he touched anything.
Sprout, in his shadow form, moved between shady patches, every once in a while disappearing from view all together, but Jared seemed unworried. Though we’d scanned the road for any sign of even a payphone, it quickly became apparent that East Yonder was an OLD town, like it would be a miracle if they even knew the Internet existed. And it was MJ, finally back to his human form and walking at our rear in stolen gym clothes, who spotted the little diner, tucked in between a post office and an old barn.
On foot and looking bedraggled and seriously out of place, we quickly became the focus of attention, the few Yonder residents we saw watching us from store windows and porches. One dude pedaling past us on an old-style bicycle, nearly hit a fence because his eyes had been glued to Nikki’s butt, rather than the road ahead of him.
Now, squeezed into an old red booth with duct tape holding the frayed vinyl together, we began figuring out what little money we had on us. Luckily, Jared had taken the donut driver’s wallet, which contained a grand total of $28.13 plus a condom the color of toothpaste. According to the label, it tasted like mint and glowed in the dark, which was way more information than I ever needed to know about a Hole Food’s employee.
“I swear if there is any sort of rodent wildlife listed on the daily specials, we are outta here,” whispered Nikki in the booth beside me. Across from us, Jared sat next to MJ, Sprout somewhere in the diner, though God knew where, doing God knows what.
Jared looked over the menu, unimpressed. “What in the heck are hash browns?”
“Potatoes, diced up and fried in oil,” MJ replied. “They’re pretty good.”
“Sounds revolting,” Jared muttered.
I closed the plastic menu, setting it on the table. “I say we just order a bunch of pancakes and hash browns and share.”
“Works for me,” replied MJ, Nikki adding a nod of approval.
An older, bleached blonde lady who used at least two cans of hairspray when she readied herself for the day, wandered over to us from her few customers at the long 1950s bar. A faded apron was tied around her ample waist, and a name tag declaring “Dolores” was pinned to her chest.
She leaned a hip against the table and it shook slightly, causing our utensils to bounce. “So, wadda ya like?”
“Not much,” muttered Jared under his breath, thankfully too low for Dolores to hear. I managed to jam my foot on top of his, forcing him to shut up and straighten.
I smiled nicely, trying to ignore the fact that the five people at the bar were all swiveled around staring at us. Most looked like retired truckers, except for an older gentleman at the end of the bar with a thick white beard like Santa Claus.
“We’ll just have three orders of pancakes and two orders of hash browns,” I replied. “We’re gonna share, if that’s okay.”
Dolores gave a nod. “OJ or coffee, y’all?”
“Both please,” Nik replied. “And plenty of cream and sugar.”
“Whateva ya like, darlin’,” she replied, swinging her wide hips away from us and heading back to the bar, calling out our order through the serving window that was open to the back kitchen. A man’s voice echoed back the order and Dolores set to getting us our drinks.
Slowly the patrons turned back to their newspapers and breakfast, the old radio playing some sports show from its spot above the stacked water glasses. Grateful that we were no longer the focus of attention, I turned back to Nik. “I gotta use the little girl’s room before my eyes turn yellow.”
Nik gave me a shove, trying to oust me from the seat, “Me too! I’m so excited to see toilet paper, I can’t even tell you!”
I looked back at Jared and MJ, neither of them so much as making eye contact. “You two gonna be able to play nice?”
“I’m always nice,” protested MJ as Nik and I slid out of the seat.
Jared’s mouth dropped open as he accused, “You tried to bite me in the truck when you first woke up, you hairy swine!”
“Well, if you hadn’t had taken me for an unauthorized RIDE in the truck, I wouldn’t have tried to bite ya, Ariel!”
I rubbed my face, “Guys. Let’s just offer one another a blank slate, alright?”
MJ and Jared refused to look at one another as they muttered a few obscenities.
With my bladder screaming, I left the guys in the booth and wandered to the ladies room with Nik. I prayed the diner wouldn’t be remodeled by a Therian and a Wrecker in the time we were in the bathroom.
We used the facilities and then went to wash our hands. As I ran my palms under the water, I gave my reflection the critical once-over in the chipped mirror. I looked like Hell – dirty clothes, tangled hair, circles under my eyes from lack of sleep and probably Wrecker venom. I dared to cup my hand to my mouth and sniffed. “Jeezus, my breath could kill a camel,” I winced. “Any chance you have some gum?”
Nik shook her head, “No, but just try rinsing your mouth with the tap water. It shouldn’t have too much lead in it.”
I shook my head, doing as she suggested, lead poisoning taking a back seat to lethal morning breath. Nik, who had a nose for bullshit, leaned a hip against the orange counter and watched me.
“So, you gonna tell me how you really knew about this town?” she asked. “I know you’re from Kansas and all, but this seems to be WAY outside of the normal tourist traps. And we did NOT see anything from that donut truck.”
I flicked off the faucet, yanking some paper towels from the dispenser and wiping my mouth. “I honestly don’t know. I just remembered seeing it – like a clear picture in my mind. I’m starting to think I saw it mentioned on the news. Or maybe on a website. I just don’t know.”
Nik eyed me from her spot at the counter. “So then why were you staring at your arms when we were in the truck? When you were so confused as to how you knew this town was here, you acted like you could see some sorta map of the future written on your forearms.”
Shit. Nikki REALLY didn’t miss much.
I had hallucinated injuries to my arms inside Faust. I thought I was bleeding, my arms carved up as if I’d thrown the Light, but it was simply an illusion, produced by my mind. When I was in the donut truck, I started to wonder if my strange memory of East Yonder was also just another hiccup in my brain – another mirage, like I had in Faust.
I wasn’t sure I wanted Nik to know that I’d gotten so exhausted that I started seeing shit in the nightclub.
I tossed the paper towel in the trash as the lie formed easily on my tongue, “Sometimes I can feel the Light under my skin, even when I’m not calling to it” I replied, a half-truth. “In the truck, I could feel it for a second . . . probably just from getting into that argument with Jared.”
“Baz said you hallucinated inside Faust,” she replied.
DAG NAMIT! I was SO gonna kick that weed-infested blabbermouth someday!
I cleared my throat, trying to be smooth. “I did hallucinate in Faust. From fatigue. But in the truck, I wasn’t hallucinating.” Hopefully.
Nik balled a paper towel in her palm and tossed it into the trash with a sigh. She glanced around the bathroom, before her eyes landed back on me, clearly not buying my story. “Look, Eila. I get that we aren’t exactly best pals, whispering gossip to one another in the night and whatnot. But if you ever need to talk – really talk – about whatever is going on, I can keep a secret.”
I simply nodded. “I’ll remember that.”