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Ashes PRINT BOOK
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A Novel by: Arlene Webb
Genre: Paranormal Romance Thriller
Rating: L=4 S=4 V= 4
Editor: Lea Schizas
Line editor: Greta Gundelman
Cover artist: Delilah K. Stephans
E-book price: $12.00
Warning: Adults only. Includes violence, graphic language, and some explicit sexual content between males.
Not happening. Four hours pass while Lyle Logan holds his brother's corpse and pretends he’s the one not breathing.
Those responsible are dead. Only one reason to live now—vengeance.
Please. Lyle will do anything to alter reality. But he can’t. Instead he fills his stomach with ashes and unwittingly devours a myth.
I want to die. Guilt holds hands with grief. Lyle doesn’t care when authorities conclude that he committed the crime of Cain.
Acceptance. Lyle has no choice but to acknowledge the entity burning within.
When five stages lead to a precipice, Lyle takes the next step. So what he’ll lose his humanity and hold a miraculous creature hostage.
Resolution. Ashes to life, he will find a way to his brother.
An imaginary hand stroked his head, the firm touch of male flesh soothed the tears on his cheek and his dead brother’s voice whispered in his ear, “Sorry, Lyle. Permanently separated—how weird is that? You mustn’t follow me. Move your butt. Find them instead. Avenge me.”
“Sure.” Lyle spat blood through his cracked lips. “I’ll get right on it.” Impetuous and irrational, Myles had always been the weaker. But Lyle, older by three minutes, managed to rescue his younger bro from every sociopath that befell him.
Not this time. Myles headed for a pine box.
Lyle headed toward damnation as soon as he stopped pretending he was Myles. The chain didn’t hold his leg tight, no sharp object had opened his veins, and not a bone in his body had been smashed. Lyle lay facedown in the dirt, alongside his twin, imagining over and over what it must have felt like to die like this.
How much guilt can a heart take before it goes quiet? And who dared to approach, interrupting his snuggle with the dead? A ripple of dust and a fluttering irritated Lyle. Hot air and cinnamon hit his face. He snapped open his eyes and jerked to his feet.
A dying buzzard? More like a deathly ill, midget flamingo. The creature that landed in front of Lyle appeared deader than Myles.
He lowered his hands and hunched down. Three feet tall at most, a foot of height added by its scrawny neck, the bird angled its head as if it were blind, wobbling on decrepit legs. Two feathers—faded crimson and gold—clung to its hairless, grey form. It looked like it should be hanging from the fist of a voodoo queen. The thin twig dangling from its cracked beak smelled like the crappy shrubs circling them.
“Thirsty, little guy?” Lyle snorted. “So am I. Go away.” If it dared to peck at Myles, he’d wring its neck.
The creature opened its beak and the twig tumbled down. Pencil legs cracked and it collapsed. Its head whacked into the branch, and a sharp burst of resin saturated the air.
Lyle swallowed hard. He knew what the saintly dead would do. His canteen lay beside Myles. Dumping it into Myles’ mouth had been as futile as performing CPR.
A feeble chirp from the bird suggested the thing still breathed. Lyle grabbed the canteen, shook it, and a few drops fell into his cupped hand. He held his palm out to the creature.
It lifted its ancient head and the final twin feathers separated from its body. A pathetic squawk raised the hair on Lyle’s neck.
“Drink, you dumb turkey. It’s all I have.”
The bird craned its neck, and Lyle shoved the droplets directly under its beak—the creature burst into flames.
Jesus! Like he’d doused it with gasoline and tossed a match, sparks shot upward and fire flared, roaring yellow-red to reach for Lyle. He jerked his singed fingers from the crackling mess. A fresh sob burst from his lips as he straightened and scampered back to press his heels against Myles. Blasts of intense heat informed him this tiny inferno would incinerate the bird’s flesh, muscle, and bone within seconds.
Lyle clamped his eyes closed and fisted himself in the cheek. Ouch. It felt like he was awake.
Chin lowered, he opened his eyes. Myles lay quiet, his deep blue eyes fixed. A jerk of Lyle’s attention and, yep, the extreme combustion had already burned itself low. Arid smoke, heavy and bitter, tinged with a vanilla sweetness, curled upward in thin wavy lines.
Despite the ache in his jaw claiming Lyle was lucid, the flamingo roast had to be a hallucination. Lovely. Why couldn’t he fantasize a clean beach, rainbow arcing over the tumbling waves? Naked female twins—cheerleaders—nuzzling his giggling bro who sunned himself on the wet sand. And, just for Myles, his head pillowed on the glistening abs of the quarterback while Lyle watched over them from a safe distance. But nah. Lyle’s sick brain conjured up a charbroiled buzzard, now a smoldering heap of grey-white ash.
Rage hammered into him, threatening to send the splinters of his heart blasting out his ears. He raised and lowered his heavy foot—no—he froze his stomp and fell to his knees.
He’d remove every trace of this idiotic illusion, and then maybe he’d wake in his bed, Myles snoring across the room and clasped safe in the arms of his policeman.
Lyle shoved his fingers into the fluttering grey residue. Eyes closed, he filled his mouth, swallowing without chewing until he tasted sand instead of ash.
About the Author:
Arlene Webb started with poetry. The pet cemetery got the biggest rocks she could make her siblings drag, with a message tucked under each. Later years found her threatened with counseling for essays on how to kill the gym teacher in ten easy steps. She survived parochial high school by stuffing thoughts into the closet.
She came out after her one and only went off to college, and the greenhouses she ran were flattened by a tornado. Forced into the family retail floral shops, she grabbed a blank notebook and then progressed to the keyboard in order to escape customers and ceramic figurines.
She loves to lose herself in another's point of view, no matter the species, and prefers subtle humor and strong plot in all genres. She also loves to hear from readers.
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