Read Unbound Online

Authors: Emily Goodwin

Unbound

The Guardian Legacies

Book One

Unbound

a novel

by

Emily Goodwin

Copyright © 2010 by Emily Goodwin

www.emily-goodwin.blogspot.com

www.facebook.com/theguardianlegacies

Cover art by Heather Waldo

www.heatherwaldo.blogspot.com

I would like to thank my friends and family who

support my love for writing and who encourage me to never give up.

Mom, Sarah, Ashley, Jordan, Ellyla, Megan and Helen:

I owe you the biggest thanks for being my fans since the beginning.

Chapter 1 My Life as (I thought) it Should Be

I was almost able to fully ignore the dead guy standing under the old oak tree as I cantered around the arena on Mystery, my white Arabian. Mystery spooked at the sudden appearance of the ghost, but passed him without a second glance once he remembered that standing is all the apparition ever does. I’ve named him Bob, and he randomly shows up under the shady protection of the trees. He’s just your average residual haunting; stuck in a repetitive pattern of appearing for a brief while before disappearing again, never noticing anything around him.

I’ve waved and smiled and said ‘hello’, but nothing has ever gained his attention. I’ve thought about throwing something at him (or through him, technically) just to see if he would blink a dead eye, but I’ve resisted the urge afraid it could somehow hurt his undead feelings. His nondescript jeans and tee shirt made it hard for me to gauge his time of death, but his dark, shaggy hair lead me to believe he died in the 1970’s. There was always a sadness in his eyes, as if he was desperately waiting for something that would never come. Ever.

“Have fun on your hot date tonight!” Leslie, my riding instructor, said to me as I walked into the barn in a joking manner as she traded her tall, leather riding boots for flip-flops.

“I wouldn’t really call it that,” I said as I shut Mystery’s stall door. I moved to the stall next to him which contained a pretty buckskin Quarter Horse mare named Neptune. Technically she belonged to my twin brother Harrison, but he lost interest a week after he got her so she was mine now. “See you tomorrow!”

“Bye, Anora!” Leslie waved and headed out the door to her truck. I was alone in the barn now, and the silence was peaceful. I ran a stiff bristled brush across Neptune’s short summer fur and sighed happily, a smile settling subconsciously on my face.

The laconism was broken by a low rumble of a car engine and the crunching of gravel. I gave Neptune a goodbye hug and quickly put my brushes away. I had just opened Mystery’s stall to say bye to him when Mike came into the barn.

“You ready yet?” he asked impatiently.

“Almost, and it’s nice to see you too,” I called over my shoulder.

Mike’s face twitched slightly. “Of course it’s nice to see you, Anora.” He stayed in the doorway. Horses and dirt weren’t really Mike’s thing. Dressed in a white polo shirt and khakis, he looked out of place in the stable. I slid the heavy, wooden stall door closed and joined Mike.

“Ok, I’m ready,” I said cheerfully.

“You’re not gonna change?” He eyed me up and down.

“No, what’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” I looked down myself. My tan breeches were new and had miraculously stayed spotless, my tight black tank top showed off my slim figure and matched my tall, black boots and my long, dark hair, which had been in a French braid all day, now fell in loose waves around my face.

“People are gonna wonder.” He raised an eyebrow.

“Let them,” I said with a smile and walked past him towards the dark blue Mustang.

“At least you look good in them.” Mike slapped my butt and followed me outside. I opened the passenger door and got in; Mike did the same on the driver’s side and turned up his horrible rap music right away. A fan of classic rock and alternative myself, I couldn’t stand his choice in music.

Our conversation was sparse to say the least, and after Mike parallel parked on the street downtown, he got out and headed towards Greta’s Frozen Goodies, my favorite ice cream parlor, without waiting for me to get out of the car.

“Can’t you wait?” I asked, jogging to catch up.

“You take too long,” Mike said. He paused for a brief moment and extended his hand toward me. I took it, and we walked the rest of the way together. I ordered my usual cookie dough ice cream and took a seat outside on the sidewalk.

“What are you doing tonight?” Mike asked.

“Hanging out with Laney and Marie, remember?”

“Oh, yeah.” Mike looked behind me, not wanting to meet my eyes.

“So you’re not coming over then?”

“No, Travis is having a party. You should come.”

“No thanks,” I said, disappointed that I wouldn’t be spending time with him tonight. Travis was one of Mike’s friends that I’d never met. He was a sophomore at Syracuse University and supposedly threw awesome parties. I wouldn’t know; I wasn’t a fan of crowds and had never (until now, of course) gotten invited to any parties.
 
We finished our ice cream and walked back to the car to head to my house. I hoped Mike would at least stay over for a while before going to this party.

Mike pulled in my driveway just as the sun was beginning to set. He put the Mustang in park but left the engine running; I guess he really wasn’t planning on staying. I unbuckled and turned to open my door. He leaned over suddenly and pushed me back into my seat.

 
“Aren’t you gonna give me a kiss goodbye?” he asked. I smiled and did want he asked. “I’ll call you later, like around ten, ok? If you change your mind, I’d really be happy.”

 
He leaned in for another kiss before I got out of the car. I waited until he backed out on the street so I could wave and then I walked around the back of the house to go in through the garage. My mom was a bit of a neat-freak, and she hated when I wore my barn boots into the house. When I saw that her car wasn’t in there,
 
I snuck inside without taking off my boots.

“Hunter! Come here my sweet boy!” I called in that baby-talk voice you use when talking to animals. Though Hunter, my oversized German Shepherd was definitely no baby. He bounded over to me, accidentally knocking me over in his excitement. “Did you miss me, sweetie? I missed you, of course.”

He rolled over for me to rub his belly. I layed on the floor petting him for a while then I quickly headed upstairs and changed out of my breeches and into my favorite pajamas pants and traded my black tank top for a clean, white tee shirt. I tossed my boots into the closet, shut the door and let Romeo out. Romeo was a dark sable ferret with a white mask on his face. He was very cute, or at least I thought so. Romeo jumped out of his cage, happy to be out, and hopped over to sniff Hunter. Hunter lowered his head and sniffed back, then gave Romeo a little lick on the head.

After getting the animals taken care of, I went downstairs to get something to drink. There was a half eaten sandwich and an empty cup on the breakfast table, evidence Harrison had been here. I sighed and picked up the dishes. My mom was always nagging at Harrison to clean up after himself. It’s not that my brother was purposely ignoring her; he was just too absent minded and easily distracted. I surveyed the rest of the large kitchen; the expansive granite counter tops were sparkling clean, the stainless steel fridge was shining, as were all the other metal appliances.
 
As I mentioned, my mom likes things to be neat and orderly. I hated cleaning up after Harrison, but I did it to save his ass from the wrath of Mom.

Speaking of whom, where was he? Suddenly, I realized how quiet it was. Where was everybody? The door was unlocked when I came home. I sighed and locked the door.

 
“Harry must have forgotten to lock the door again,” I said aloud to Hunter.
 
A smile broke across my face as I remembered Mike telling me that he thought it was weird that I talked to my animals like they were human. “Well, I don’t care. Besides, it beats talking to myself, right?” I smiled down at him as I rubbed his head.
 

 
I glanced at the clock; I had about twenty minutes before I could expect Laney and Marie to be here. I considered ordering the pizzas now, so they would get here as soon as the girls did, but for some reason I had a feeling like I should wait. I wished they would hurry up and get here already. I hated downtime like this, when there really wasn’t enough time to do something productive, but there was too much time to just sit around waiting. Plus, it was creepy to be alone in this big house.
 

Up the stairs and down the hall I went, turning on every light I could. Hunter trotted along close to me. I opened my bedroom door slowly so I wouldn’t hit Romeo. He was still running around in that manic way ferrets do. I liked my room. It was large and the walls were painted a light purple with white doors and trim. My dresser, desk, night stand and book shelf were also white, creating a soft, girly feel to the room.

My bed, which was fitted in the center of the wall opposite the door, had a pastel green comforter and matching pillows with little multicolored flowers all over them that coordinated well enough to motivate me to make my bed in the mornings. I had a big pink stuffed unicorn that I always slept with, and he sat in the middle of the pillows. Hunter had a big, fluffy, blue plaid bed on the floor next to my bed.
 
Pictures of Mystery, Neptune, Hunter and Romeo cluttered my dresser and desk, and several frames hung on the walls, which not only encased pictures of my animals, but pictures of my friends and family as well. The top perimeter of the wall behind my bed was lined with ribbons I had earned from years of showing horses. My book shelf was overflowing with a wide variety of books, the majority of which be

ing about horses, dogs and ferrets. My room wasn’t particularly mess, but I wouldn’t call it spotless either. Dog toys and treats were always scattered across the floor, which also housed the occasional pile of laundry, shoes or other normal stuff you would find in a bedroom.

Hunter heard the door open before I did. He jumped up from his nap and ran to the bedroom door. I saved my Sims game that I had been playing, turned off the computer and scooped up Romeo. I opened the door to let Hunter run downstairs to play guard dog before I put Romeo back in his cage and headed down myself.

“It’s about time!” I yelled as I ran downstairs.

 
No answer. Hunter was still barking, which was unusual since he usually quieted once he saw who was there, and he definitely knew Laney and Marie. My sock covered feet skidded to a stop on the slick tile in the kitchen. No one was in there. I knew I heard the door open, and even better, Hunter heard it too. “Ok, very funny. You can come out now.” I waited, expecting my friends or my brother to pop out from a corner somewhere. Hunter ran around the house, still barking. My cell phone went off, causing me to jump. It was Marie.

“Hello?”

“Hey. Sorry we’re running late. Laney got stuck watching Annabelle and had to wait for her mom to get home. We’ll be there in like twenty.”

“So, you guys aren’t here?” Stupid question, I know, but I had to ask.

“Um, no.
 
We just left. I know Laney drives fast, but not that fast. Have you been drinking?”

I mumbled a good bye and set the phone down. Unease crept over me. No one was in the house except for me. I closed my eyes. “Leave me alone! Please, not again,” I prayed. I took a deep breath to gain control. I felt the calm take over. My phone went off again, this time a text message from my brother.

Hey you Travis go?

Now,
he
had been drinking. Assuming he was asking if I was going to Travis’, I typed back:
No, staying in tonight. Laney and Marie ar coming over.
 
A moment passed before I got a reply.
Goo trav nogopd 4 yoi.
Good God, Harry was drunk. I sighed as I typed:
Where are you? Do you need a ride home?
If there was a party, my brother was there. How my parents didn’t catch on, I’ll never know. Sometimes I think they do but just choose to ignore it. It took a while for him to respond, and from what I could decipher was that he was over at his best buddy Luke‘s house. A light bulb went off in my head as I remembered Luke saying his parents were going on an end-of-summer getaway.
Ok, be safe. Love u bro.
 
I put my phone down and was alone again. I turned on the radio to a classic hard rock station to fill the emptiness and ordered the pizzas.

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