Flesh and BloodWillow Rose
Table of Contents
Beyond, Afterlife Book 1
Flesh and Blood
The Vampires of Shadow Hills #1
Ten Months Before the Halloween Block Party.
Books by the Author
About the Author
I. Beyond, Afterlife Book 1
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Copyright Willow Rose 2018
Published by BUOY MEDIA LLC
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Juan Villar Padron,
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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Being a family means no one gets left behind.
- Family Quotes
You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not.
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
She wasn't at the Halloween block party. Neither were any of her friends since their parents had grounded them all. None of the teenagers living in the neighborhood of Shadow Hills were present when it happened, but they all heard the screams in the night. At first, Jazmine thought it was just the grown-ups partying, yelling, and maybe finally having too much to drink, maybe even fighting as usual. But as the screams didn't die down, she realized this was a lot more serious.
"Oh, dear God!" someone exclaimed.
Jazmine looked up from her computer screen, walked to her window, and pulled the curtains aside. She looked into the cul-de-sac where they had put up the pavilion. They were all wearing costumes, so she couldn't see who was who as they all seemed to run toward something—a body—lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
She could hear people shouting. A cat punched a dragon. Wonder Woman was crying. Hillary Clinton was screaming, while five of the moms all dressed like Crayola Crayons in different colors ran around each other like fearful chickens. Some were rushing toward the body while others spread out and stood like statues, staring at the body in the middle of the road.
Jazmine felt the hand holding the curtain begin to shake. Tears pressed behind her eyes and she couldn't hold them back.
"Robyn," she mumbled and let go of the curtain. She grabbed her phone and looked at it, just as three texts appeared on the screen. All saying the same thing.
Ten Months Before the Halloween Block Party.
I loved my goldfish. I won it at the fair two months ago and cared for it deeply. My mom never let me have any pets other than our stupid dog, Renata, whom I didn't care for much, not since the day she ate my favorite sneakers ten minutes before I had to head out the door to catch the school bus.
The dog wasn't even mine; it belonged to my brother, Adrian, who naturally had laughed loudly when Renata had eaten my sneakers.
"You should have seen your face, sis," he giggled, holding his stomach. "It was priceless."
My brother - like most brothers - could be the most annoying person in the world, and was, most of the time; still, I couldn't imagine a life without him. But I knew I would have to. Soon. Adrian was turning eighteen in a few days and only had six months left at the high school before he left for college. Only six months left here to annoy me. That part I was happy about, but I was going to miss him.
Secretly, of course.
I touched the glass of my fish's tank. It was only a small tank, one that I had bought for ten dollars at the fair after winning the fish, to make sure it had a place to live. I had begged my mom for a real tank, one of the
big ones with a pump and everything, but my mother didn't want to waste money on a small goldfish that would be dead soon anyway.
I sighed, grabbed the tank between my hands, and walked to the kitchen where I poured the fish into a cup with water in order to clean the tank. I did this three times a week and, so far, it had kept the fish alive.
I exhaled deeply when looking out of the kitchen window into the street. Across from my house lived Jayden. I had known Jayden since…well, since forever, since always. My mother had recordings of us playing together in a baby pool when we could barely sit up straight. Only two months apart, we had always played together. But lately, things had been different between us. For some reason, our mothers had gotten into a fight. Neither Jayden nor I knew what the fight was about, and our mothers had forbidden us to see one another without giving any reason.
"That boy is nothing but trouble," my mother would say when she caught me gazing toward his house. "You stay away from him, Robyn."
My crazy overprotective mother.
I had tried to get out of her what the entire ordeal was about, but she refused to speak about it. Meanwhile, I missed Jayden like crazy. And it was getting harder and harder for us to talk. Even though I had changed his name in my phone to Chloe, my mom found out we were texting each other and blocked his number. Every now and then, we would talk at school, but my mother had spies even there. Her brother, Jeff, my uncle, was a math teacher there and if he saw us together, he would tell his sister.
So, instead of meeting at the school, we had found a secret spot by the lake behind our neighborhood where we would meet every afternoon after school at four. For about half an hour, we would talk and listen to music on our phones. But I knew even those secret meetings were on borrowed time. Once my dear mother somehow found out, it would be over; I wouldn't get to see Jayden anymore except through my window or accidentally in the hallways at school.
I sighed and cleaned the tank, while Renata stared at me with big eyes. Then, as I was about to put the fish back, Adrian entered the kitchen, yelling.
"Staring at your boyfriend, huh?"
Startled, I jumped and dropped the fish onto the floor. Renata didn't think twice before she leaped forward and gulped it down without even chewing.
I looked up at my brother, who shrugged, then said with a grin:
"You idiot! Look what happened!"
"That wasn't my fault!" Adrian said. "You're the one who dropped it."
"I hate you! Mooom?"
Our mom entered from the living room, wearing a towel around her neck and her tight gym gear, a smoothie in one hand, her phone in the other. Her phone cover read: CAREFUL, I BITE. We had a gym at the house and that was usually where our mother spent most of the day when she wasn't busy running her jewelry company from her office upstairs. She and my dad each had an office and barely ever left the house during the day. She was looking at her screen, her eyes fixed on the display like it held the secret to life itself.
"Adrian killed my fish," I said.
"He did what?"
"It wasn't me. It was Renata. She ate it."
"Renata," Mom exclaimed. She looked at me. "Well, it wasn't like it was going to live forever anyway. It was just a fish. There are plenty of them in the sea, I have heard."
"But it was my fish. And I loved him," I said. "I won him at the fair. He was mine. The only thing that was mine. "
My mother looked at me like I was speaking Russian, then shook her head. "I…I really don't…"
"Why do you always take his side?"
"I don't…not always," she said.
"Yes, you do. It's so unfair."
Our conversation was interrupted abruptly by the sound of a big hissing truck driving up the road. Mom sprang for the window.
"A moving truck," she exclaimed excitedly. "That must be the new owners at number twenty, you know the Williamsons’ old house."
Mom's eyes sparkled. She reached into a cabinet and pulled out a gift basket. "I’ve had this ready for a week, expecting these newcomers. I'll make sure to be the first on the street to welcome them."
"Before the Smiths, you mean," I said.
My mother stopped short and gave me a cold look, her right eye twitching as she spoke.
"Well, yes…that too."
Jazmine Jefferson let out a deep sigh as she looked out the window of the car at the neighborhood that was supposed to be her home from now on. Never had she seen anything more boring and common. The houses were all cookie-cutter, at the more expensive end, yes, but still. They all looked pretty much the same. Their front lawns were cut to perfection, their bushes trimmed evenly, and the trees looked like they could have been made out of plastic, they were so perfect.
All very boring and uninteresting.
Jazmine's dad parked the car in front of a house that looked just the same as the rest of them on the street except for the unruly lawn and a For Sale sign outside that had a sticker on it stating SOLD.
"All right," Jazmine's mom said and looked at her in the back seat. Next to Jazmine sat the family cat, Michelle Obama, named after Jazmine's heroine. In daily life, referred to as simply BamBam.
"Are you ready, sweetheart?"
Jazmine couldn't say she was. She had barely had her sweet sixteen birthday when they told her they were going to move. At first, she had thought they were joking. The Jeffersons never moved anywhere, let alone thousands of miles away from where she was born. Jazmine had lived in the same place all her life and she had all her friends there. Was she supposed to just leave all that? And for what? Some boring white community up north just so her father could become CEO of some stupid paper company?
"It’s a big opportunity for your father. He’s worked hard for many years to get to where he’s at," her mother had lectured her when she started to yell at them for doing this to her. What about her life? What about what she had worked for?
"Is this the house?" she asked as they got out of the car. Her mother nodded and smiled. "Isn't it nice? It's a lot bigger than our old house and look at the yard, baby. Look at how big it is. We can put a swing up in that tree."
Jazmine exhaled and grabbed the cat in her arms. "I’m probably a little too old for swings, Mom, but nice try," she said as she grabbed her backpack with her personal belongings and threw it over her shoulder.
"Well, hello there," a chirping voice coming up from behind them said.
Jazmine turned and spotted a woman on high stilettoes clicking across the asphalt, carrying a basket wrapped in cellophane in her hands. She was wearing big sunglasses and a giant hat, even though it was overcast and cold. Who wore sunglasses in the winter? Jazmine wondered. Especially in this part of the country where the sun was seldom seen?
You could still tell she was gorgeous. Breathtakingly so. Literally. It felt like Jazmine couldn't breathe when she approached her. Never had Jazmine seen such a beautiful woman before and it left her stunned. She could tell her mother felt the same way. She seemed awkward and slightly nervous when she spotted her. The woman had a way of making it feel like everything stopped around her as she moved forward. Behind her walked a blonde girl who looked to be Jazmine's age, but seemed just as dull and bland as the entire neighborhood with her gray training suit and her hair in a ponytail. She too was pretty, but not like her mother. Not in the way that makes you stop and just stare like they were doing now.
The girl smiled awkwardly at Jazmine, while her mother did the talking. "You must be our new neighbors…" She gazed above her sunglasses, a set of emerald green sparkling eyes were scrutinizing them. "And oh…you're…people of color…"
"Mom!" the girl groaned.
"What, dear? No, I find that very enchanting…almost exotic."
The cheerful woman smiled again, showing a row of very perfect white teeth. Then she handed the basket to Jazmine's mother, who took it with a nervous, "Thank you." This wo
man made Jazmine's blood freeze just by being in her mere presence. Jazmine shuddered unintentionally.
"Now, there are some cookies in there and I don't know if they're gluten free or not. The lady at the store said they were, but I’m not sure I trust her if you know what I mean. Also, the wine should be organic, and the cellophane is made entirely of biodegradable material, so it won't harm our oceans." The woman exhaled, satisfied, then reached out her hand.
"Welcome to the neighborhood. I’m Camille Jones. We live right down the street. In number fifteen."
Jazmine's mother smiled, even though it came out a little forced. It was probably something only Jazmine noticed. The slightly shivering upper lip. She shook Camille's hand.
"I'm Briana and this is my husband, Norman, and this is our daughter, Jazmine. Together, we are the Jeffersons."
"Your daughter is bea-u-ti-ful," Camille said and turned to make room for her own daughter. Camille pushed her forward. The young girl blushed, visibly embarrassed.