Read The Lost Souls Online

Authors: Madeline Sheehan

Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Post-Apocalyptic, #Dystopian

The Lost Souls

The Lost Souls

(
A Holy Trinity Novella)

by

Madeline Sheehan

 

Edited by Pam Berehulke

Cover by
Meredith Blair

 

Copyright © 2013 by Madeline Sheehan

All Rights Reserved

 

 

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Visit my website at
http://www.madelinesheehan.com

Dedication

For Virginia and Courtney

 

Note to Readers

 

Due to the numerous instances of Romanian and Slovenian language references in this story, an interactive glossary is provided at the end of the book. These terms will be italicized and underlined the first time they appear in the manuscript, and when clicked, will take you to the glossary where the term will be explained. Click on the term again in the glossary, and you will be returned to where you can resume your reading.

 

Also included at the end of the book is a list of the various families and their family members.

 

 

 

Not all those who wander are lost…

—J. R. R. Tolkien

Prologue

What is fate? Or destiny?

Do we each have a predestined plan—a path mapped out long before we were born to lead us on our journey? Does someone, something, somewhere already know what is yet to come?

Are words such as chance, fortune, and luck just words?

Are we all just pawns in a game being played by a force of power much bigger than us, a force so great, so unfathomably paramount that we, as mere humans, simply do not have the ability to comprehend it?

What if the answer is yes?

What if every step we’ve taken—every choice, every mistake, every success, every sad or happy moment in our lives, every person we’ve met, every emotion we’ve experienced, every single breath from our first to our last, every single second of our lives…

N
o matter who we are—poor or wealthy, loved or hated, legitimate or criminal…

What if all of it w
as, is, and will always be an inevitability or a foreordination utterly uncontrollable by us?

Would life still be worth it?

 

Chapter One

Summer

“There they are.”

Stefan “Hockey” Sava Jr. glanced to where Mihai Asenov was pointing, and watched as Xan Deleanu and Punka Moldoveanu exited a nearby pharmacy. Their arms were full of duffel bags overloaded with food, clothing, and medical supplies. They’d hit the jackpot in whatever shithole town this was. Most of the shops had still been intact, and the goods inside had not yet been picked over.

After an apocalyptic plague had turned most of humanity into flesh
-eating monsters, this was what civilization had been reduced to if they wanted to survive. But his
Gypsy
clan
had one thing other
s didn’t. Magic. And because of their powers, they’d lost very few people. Judging by the empty town, a mirror image of every other town they’d come across, nobody else had been as lucky as they had.

Looking around, he scanned the deserted street, seeking threats. Finding none, he sat down on the tailgate of Xan’s truck.

Xan, a fellow clan member and friend, took a seat beside him and lit up a cigarette. “No one else came back yet, huh?”

Looking away, he shook his head, wishing Xan would stop watching him.

Damn, he hated when people stared at him.

“What’s the matter,
frate
? You worried about Becki and the baby?”

Turning toward Xan, he said quietly, “It’s not my baby.”

But more than likely, knowing Xan was tight with Tobar, frate had already knew that.

God, it pissed him off how many people knew his wife had been in bed with Tobar. And now, they were well aware it was Tobar’s baby she was pregnant with. Not his.

He’d only been married a short
time when he’d left on this supply raid. But before his marriage, he’d been celibate for twenty-five years—mostly due to his
mamă
’s
influence. She had drilled into him that when a man and woman came together, they should be pure in every way.

Becki was far from pure
, and Hockey had married her to put a stop to it. Discovering she was pregnant had come as an unexpected shock, but as usual when it came to Becki, he rolled with the punches. He had taken responsibility for the baby because one, he was her husband, and two, he loved her. Only lately, he was starting to feel like the joke was on him.

Xan took a long drag of his cigarette and blew out a dual stream of smoke through his nostrils. “She’s your wife, right? And you love her, right?”

Hockey nodded.

Sniffing, Xan pointed his cigarette at him. “Then, frate, that’s your baby.”

Hockey wasn’t so sure about that.

“Xan, what if
Tobar decides he wants the kid? Fuck, what if he decides he wants Becki? He’s already stolen her from me once.”

“Tobar’s not gonna come knocking. He had his chance to claim the kid, and he didn’t. Becki and the contents of her belly are legally bound to you now. Even as the future
baró
, he can’t do shit about it.”

Xan was right. Even if Tobar were to become baró in the near future, a divorce could only be legally granted if the husband requested one. A
Romani
woman had no rights when it came
to marriage, or otherwise. In the eyes of Romani culture, she was essentially property, the same as a horse or a trailer. But Hockey knew Tobar, and if the man wanted to, he would bend the law to his own will. And then there was Becki…

“She fucked him, Xan,” he said, his voice cracking. “She snuck around behind my back. Why? Because I’d taken a vow to wait? She knew that when we started
seeing each other. And now I don’t trust her.”

“Are you fucking her now?”

Hockey glowered at Xan. “Yes.”

“Does she like it?”

“Yes,” he growled, feeling embarrassed. He wasn’t used to this. Guy talk wasn’t something he did. Actually, talking wasn’t something he did unless he had something he absolutely needed to say. And he needed to say this. For a good long time now, he’d needed to talk about this crap going on with Becki; he just hadn’t known who to go to and how to go about it.

Xan clapped him on the back. “There you go. Keep up the good work, and you’ll be fine. She liked you before the sex when she could have dumped your ass, and now she likes you
and
the sex. I’m thinking you’re all set.”

Hockey started laughing. Leave it to Xan to base everything on sex. “You know,” he said
with a grin, “waiting used to drive me crazy. It was all I could think about as a teenager. But waiting for her was worth it. Personally, I’m glad I haven’t been with anyone else. I couldn’t give her very much, but I could give her me, all of me.”

Xan didn’t respond, and Hockey watched curiously as the guy stared sadly down at his cigarette. What was wrong with him?

“Heads up!” Mihai suddenly shouted from behind them.

Instantly, they scrambled to their feet, searching out the threat, and—

Oh, Jesus. No.

Gunnar, Shandor, and Marko were running full speed toward them…with
Skin Eaters
on their tails.

“Fuck!” Xan bellowed, pumping his shotgun.

They let loose a flurry of bullets but the
Skins
were too fast, easily dodging their bullets.

“We’re not close enough!” Hockey roared.

Hockey
jumped off the truck bed and went running down the street, toward his friends. He heard the shouts from behind him, his clan members calling him back, but screw it, someone had to do something. And that something had to be done quickly.

But instead of barreling straight into the fray, he made a calculated right turn down a side street. His plan was to circle around and take the Skins from behind, using the surprise-you’re-dead kind of strategy. Instead, he came skidding to a stop in front of a chain-link fence with a brick wall behind it. Dead end.

In the background, bullets were still cracking through the air, people were shouting…and then suddenly there was a moment of silence. Fear trickled down his spine as he paused, his ears straining, his heart racing. At any second, Skins could come tearing down this alley, and if enough of them came at him all at once, even the power he derived from his affinity for fire wouldn’t be strong enough to save him.

He waited.

And waited.

An engine roared to life.

Cursing, Hockey realized he was about to get left behind and immediately bolted back down the alleyway, already aware he was too far from the trucks, and more than likely he wasn’t going to make it back in time. But he still had to try.

As he cleared the sidewalk, he slowed to a jog before stopping dead in the middle of the quiet street. Doing a three-sixty turn, he stared wide-eyed at the carnage that lay strewn
around him. Dead Skin Eaters littered the street, and there was blood everywhere. It was as if this small town had been bathed in it.

Glancing down the street, he found two out of the three trucks and the supply van they’d brought were still here
, yet there was no sign of his clan.

But someone must have gotten away, taken the third truck, and fled.

Movement. His eyes snapped left, and his throat closed up. Shandor. Shandor’s body was lying limp on the sidewalk.

No, not limp. His arm was twitching. Was he still alive?

Hockey scanned the wounds on his friend’s body, stopping on the large chunk of skin and muscle missing from his leg.

No…Shandor wasn’t alive. He must be turning—

Shit, oh God. Please, no…

Shandor’s body began violently jerking, flopping like a fish out of water. Screaming through what sounded like unfathomable amounts of pain, Shandor
shuddered and his eyes flew open. His red eyes.

Hockey didn’t think. He ran.

He ran fast and far.

 

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