Samantha thinks of herself as human, ordinary, and a little too full around the hips—a super cute look for a future chef, if you ask her. And she’s sort of right, except about being ordinary…oh…and human. She also won’t be full around the hips for very long, not with the inevitable metamorphosis coming her way.
In her oblivious existence, all she can think about is going to culinary school, away from her uncaring, bordering-on-hateful parents.
But all that is about to change when Greg—an otherworldly, amazing-looking guy—saves her from an unexpected magical attempt on her life and informs her that he is her Keeper, compelled to protect her even at the cost of his own life. Oh, and by the way, that she isn’t human, after all.
The attempts on her life become commonplace and secrets and threats from a dark, forgotten past reveal themselves and send her life into turmoil.
As Samantha tries to come to terms with this new reality, she must rediscover herself and face the possibility of being the key to the survival of a dying race.
Get notified of new releases, giveaways and more: click here to SUBSCRIBE!
Greg Papilio wanted many things, and most of what his heart desired hinged on his impending metamorphosis. Today, though, all he wanted was to pass the trig test that lay in front of him. But, to his mounting horror, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. He stared at the page. This final was kicking his butt. He hadn’t even managed to get past the first few questions. A drop of sweat slid off his forehead and splattered onto the paper, forming a gray circle. He wiped a hand across his brow and looked at his watch. Only thirty minutes left?
What?! That was it? Where had the last couple of hours gone?!
His mind was hazy, his vision blurry. Greg shook his head, trying to dispel the dream-like state that clouded his thoughts. Suddenly, he felt as if piranha teeth were biting the back of his neck. A shiver made his skin prickle. He straightened with a jolt and put a hand to the base of his neck. His fingers tentatively traveled down each vertebrae. Something bumpy and oozing blistered under his touch.
Not exam jitters. How stupid was he to confuse the symptoms with nerves. He had to get out of here. Now.
“Are you done, Mr. Papilio?” the teacher asked when Greg stood up to leave.
He shook his head. “No . . . no, I think I’m sick,” he croaked out in a hoarse voice. Greg crumpled up his exam, stuffed it in his pocket and wobbled out of the classroom under the disapproving stare of the teacher and the whispers of his classmates.
He staggered out to the school parking lot. Holding a hand to his roiling stomach, he started walking the short two blocks home. The backpack grew heavier on his back as he weakened. His head pounded and his joints felt as if they would come unglued.
Please, let me make it home. Please.
The sun scorched the pavement. Cicadas made a racket in the nearby trees. Greg felt as if they were inside his cranium, their calls echoing between his temples. With each step, his feet sent a jolt of pain through him. They dragged, hurting like hell, as if someone had smashed his toes with a hammer. Sheer will carried him to his front yard. He slid the backpack off his shoulders and let it dangle. He dragged it by one strap and stumbled toward the porch, legs weakening, every ounce of strength slipping away. Moisture slid down his forehead in rivulets, a grimy mixture of sweat and New Orleans humidity.
His stomach lurched and a loud burp escaped his half-opened mouth. Even through the pain, he winced at the smell. His breath was foul, like meat left out to spoil. Greg abandoned the backpack on the plush lawn. He staggered forward, covering the remaining distance. His shoulder slammed against the front door, sending excruciating pain across his back, through the telltale swelling at the base of his neck.
Opening the door took all he had left in him. The key shook in his hand and the keyhole danced from left to right as he tried to make the connection. After several attempts, he unlocked the door, shouldered it and closed it behind him, and took a few steps toward the bathroom. A violent twist in his gut brought him short. A moan broke from the back of his throat. The awful pain oscillated, drawing back for an instant, then hitting him again—even more viciously than before. Clutching his middle, he fell to his knees, then pitched forward. Part of his body hit the tiled foyer, while his face thankfully landed on the hall’s sage rug. The scented powder his mom used for vacuuming traveled up his nostrils and made his stomach convulse. Greg had never felt this sick before in his life. He lay there for several minutes, struggling to take deep breaths.
Something’s wrong. They never said it would hurt like this.
If his parents didn’t hurry up and get home, he was going to die. A few more minutes and his insides wouldn’t only feel like a slushie, they would be a slushie.
A wet, sucking sound distracted him. Greg swallowed thickly.
What the hell?
He tried to move, but felt stuck to the rug. Desperately, he fought to open his eyes to see what was happening. As he labored to lift one eyelid, he imagined himself as a mushy vegetable, trampled by feet in a busy kitchen.
With a loud pop, his eyes sprang open. He tried to look around, and his eyeballs made a noise as they swiveled back and forth inside his head. Ignoring the sound, he tried to focus, but everything was blurry. A thick gel . . . what is that? . . . obstructed his vision. He stared at something that was supposed to be his hand, except it looked like a shapeless chunk of ground meat. The sight of it drove Greg into a panic.
Something is wrong. Oh god, I don’t wanna die!
The door opened. “For Pete’s sake, Greg,” his mom said. “You left your backpack out in the yard and the door’s unlocked.” Her words came to Greg muffled, as if wads of cotton plugged his ears.
“Oh my,” she said, kneeling in front of his blurry eyes. “Greg, honey? Aw, poor baby.”
Poor baby?! He was disintegrating on the floor and all she could come up with was “poor baby.” Greg made out his mother’s long legs and impossibly high stiletto heels. She crouched by his side for a minute. He tried to speak, to ask for help, but only gurgles came out.
“It’s okay, honey. It’ll be over before you know it.” She patted his head gingerly. “I’ll have to wait for your dad to move you. You’re too heavy. Oh, I’m so proud of you, baby. Don’t worry. I just know you’ll be a Companion.” She stood and walked away. Greg heard the tap, tap, tap of her heels as she headed for the kitchen.
He listened intently and couldn’t believe it when he heard the refrigerator open and close, followed by the unmistakable sound of a soda can opening. She was drinking a Coke while he lay dying on of the floor! The radio came on, and she began to sing along, howling, “girls just wanna have fun,” at the top of her lungs.
Dad! But his father wouldn’t be home for another hour, and that would be too late, too late. Please, don’t let me become a vegetable. Pleeease, he pleaded with every ounce of his being.
He was dimly aware of his mother rattling pots and dishes in the kitchen. Was she actually cooking? Maybe she was planning to make meatballs out of him if things went awry with his metamorphosis. It was spaghetti night, after all. His father’s favorite.
Get on Amazon
Subscribe to my exclusive readers list to receive Keeper for free