The girl knows she's different. She doesn't age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.
On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve darker forces. Jonah and the few like him are fighting with help from an unlikely ally, a rogue Angel named Gabriel.
In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?
Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.
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Nikki Kelly is a Wattpad sensation. Lailah garnered over one million reads within six months of being released on the website. She lives in the UK with her two dogs.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE EVENING WAS DEEPLY BITTER. The night was drawing in and the sound of silence was deafening. The most perfect setting for a liaison with a Vampire.
I pushed back the blond wisps of hair crowding my eyes and remade my long ponytail, while eyeing the garbage bag that I had attempted to balance at the top of the pile, out in the backyard of the pub. I would have welcomed a moment’s peace, but not out here. The darkness frightened me.
“Francesca!” Haydon’s thick Welsh accent reached me, piercing through the surrounding sheet of ice, as if he were a red-hot poker.
I sighed, bolted the back door, and hurried back into the bar. I was dead on my feet. Thank goodness it was closing time. We were short-staffed, as always. Haydon’s wife hadn’t returned from her shopping trip in Cardiff, so I’d had to play kraken and pretend I had many hands to pull an inordinate amount of pints this evening.
Sometimes I wished I could just be normal and have a pleasant little office job and not have to deal with drunken locals. But then, with no legitimate identification, cash-paid bar work was the best I could hope for. I was grateful for employers like Haydon who sought out a willing workhorse in exchange for a little money.
“Just one more p-p-pint my love, come on, fill her up!” The middle-aged man waved his empty glass at me, and I smiled politely.
I hadn’t worked here long, but it was long enough to learn that he was always the last to leave.
“Come on now, Mr. Broderick, it’s closing time, you need to get back to your lovely wife.” I pried the glass from his tight clutch.
“Ah, pull the other one! We both know she’s anything but l-l-lovely.… She u-u-used to be a whore, that’s why I m-m-arried her! Of course she chose to change once sh-sh-e had the r-r-ing on her finger!” He stumbled over his sentence.
“All right, Glyn, that’s enough, on your way!” Haydon shouted over.
Darting my eyes in a concerned expression to Haydon, I nodded my head toward our last customer. He shrugged, so I made my way around the bar and placed my arms out, enticing a hug from Mr. Broderick.
“Ah, that’s n-n-ice. Elen doesn’t hold me anymore … or anything else for that m-m-atter.…”
I slipped my hand into his coat pocket and felt the smooth coldness of his car keys. Holding my breath, I retreated, placing them into my jeans’ pocket. I could definitely have made a better living as a thief, but sadly that wasn’t me. I had to do things the good old-fashioned hard way.
I called Mr. Broderick a taxi and began wiping down the tables, slyly sneaking him a packet of honey-roasted nuts in a bid to help sober him up a little.
Twenty minutes later, I thought the driver would likely be nearing so I signaled to Haydon, who barely noticed my gesture for help, instead flicking through channels on the television on the wall in search of sports highlights.
Sighing, I said, “Come on, you.” Locking my arm into Mr. Broderick’s, I balanced his weight against my petite frame.
“You’re a good girl,” he bumbled, patting my head as if I were a well-behaved dog who’d just brought back a stick.
Propping him against the exposed brick wall, I struggled with the locked doors. It was even harder given that I hadn’t taken a fresh breath in over three minutes. “Thank you, Mr. Broderick.” I exhaled.
As we reached the bottom of the slope, I halted at the curb, still maintaining Mr. Broderick’s two-hundred-pound weight. Standing still was clearly too much to ask for, as he stumbled forward, taking me with him into the middle of the road. He dropped to the ground and I tried to ease his fall.
Suddenly, bright lights appeared from nowhere and the screech of tires skidding across the iced road took me by surprise. Defensively, I threw my hand up in the air. For a moment, the world seemed to stop moving. My arm outstretched, my open palm prevented the yellow headlights from blinding me. In between my fingers the glare of the vibrant yellow light flickered into a dull neon. The square shape of the old Volvo station wagon changed into a curved yellow-and-green cab, and nighttime in Creigiau gave way to dusk in New York.
As though I were staring into a crystal ball, I was presented with a memory of the end of one of my lives.
Hand raised, the yellow-and-green Checker cab hurtled into me and I slammed into the windshield, causing it to crack before rolling off its hood and lying still on the road. Onlookers rushed over, and panic ensued. A young man pushed past the crowd of bodies that had gathered, now gawking over my broken body. He was wearing a cardigan sweater, narrow suit trousers, and suede shoes; I realized that this had happened sometime in the 1950s.
He seemed to check me over before taking my hand in his own, and I noted that my knuckles had turned skeleton white as I squeezed it back. He bowed his head, his derby hat casting shadow over his expression, as I took a final breath and my arm fell limp.
Static phased in and out, and I jolted back to reality, back to the smell of burning rubber. The taxi driver skidded to a halt only several inches away from Mr. Broderick and me.
“Are you all right?” the taxi driver shouted as he rushed out of the car.
It took me a minute to acclimatize. Mr. Broderick drunkenly laughed as he hauled himself off the ground with the driver’s help.
“Erm. Yes. Fine…” I trailed off.
“He’s trouble, this one,” the taxi driver nervously rambled, bundling Mr. Broderick into the backseat. “You sure you’re okay?” he continued as I wobbled back to the curb.
I merely nodded.
Once they were gone, I slumped myself against the wall of the pub and took some time to gather myself before going back in to finish my shift.
I continued on with my work diligently and in silence, trying to forget the vision I had just seen—it wasn’t one I cared to remember.
Eventually Haydon’s TV show came to a close. “Okay, Francesca, you done with those tables?” he asked, leaning against the bar, swishing the whiskey at the bottom of his tumbler, his attention now focused on me.
“Yes, anything else you need before I go?” I asked, pulling up my V-neck top and eyeing my jacket on the coat stand.
“Nope. Go home.” He paused and then, turning to my chest, his eyebrows arching slightly, he asked, “Say, you got anyone waiting for you? You could stay, have a drink with me?”
I forced a polite grin and shook my head, making my way over to my navy jacket. Sadly, I didn’t have anyone waiting for me. I was alone; all alone. I wasn’t able to stay anywhere long enough to make any friends, and if I did stay for some time, I found it difficult to get close to anyone. The only character I had built a meaningful relationship with, in this lifetime at least, had stripped me of any trust I might have had a few years back. And while he was now gone, the damage he had inflicted on my skin was a permanent reminder, scarring down my back.
With the thought of him inevitably came my recollection of her. The girl in shadow; yet another enigma in my life that I didn’t know whether to welcome or fear. A girl who magically appeared in my times of crisis, yet I had no idea who she was.
“Francesca?” Haydon broke my train of thought with an irritated tone.
“Sorry, no, must be going, see you tomorrow.”
Zipping up my down jacket—a key piece of winter wear in Creigiau, I had learned—I hurried to the door. I put my hands inside the lined pockets and made my way down to the country lane, back to the house.
The thick forest that hugged the roadside entwined itself into the black backdrop. The branches of the bare trees twisted and married themselves together, as if they were protecting some lost castle with a city of people sleeping, placed under a spell. In the forest, time seemed to stand still, like me.
A damp smell wafted over me as I paced quickly up the steep roadside. I tended to dwell in these quiet communities; it was easier to find abandoned properties in which to take up residence than in a major town or city. Here, I had stumbled across an old, derelict shell of a building that I liked to think once provided a home for a happy family. I had imagined, on many a cold night, the children playing and laughter filling the rooms. I could picture them running through the surrounding woodland and messing around in the stream that ran alongside it.
Now the house was bare, broken, and boarded; but it was a roof over my head, until I moved on to the next place. I had to keep moving; my appearance was frozen at seventeen. With fake ID, I passed for twenty-one, but I knew I was far older than I looked. I didn’t know how or why; I just knew that when I slept, I dreamed of lives gone by. And even when awake, sometimes an old memory would resurface, as it had done just a while ago. I had instincts I couldn’t name almost etched into me, but the world was still a confusing, jumbled place. I had no idea who I was, or where I had come from.
Holding my head down to the concrete, I considered that, much like the road, I was far from living; I merely existed. At least the road led somewhere, it had a purpose. I certainly didn’t know what mine was.
My dreams told of dark experiences, but also light: one light to be exact. It was a light so bright that it seemed to will me on, pushing me forward. One image, one face, consumed my daily thoughts. He was glorious. His smile tantalized and played with me, but he existed only in my mind. As far back as I could remember, as far back as my visions and dreams went, he was always there. And even in the present, I felt a pull toward him. Crazy as it seemed, I somehow knew he held the key to my Pandora’s box.
I had to find him, his name always balancing on the tip of my memory, echoing all around me, whispered by the breeze that rushed through the trees, skimming my pale skin: Gabriel.
And as I began to fall into thoughts of him, there was a sharp movement to my left; then I heard the whine. It sounded almost like a fox, but one that was in agony.
I stopped dead still.
I turned my head slowly toward the woods, and I made out a figure in the darkness. The wailing became louder and more pained. I mustered my bravery and tiptoed into the thickness of my makeshift fairy-tale forest until I could see a shape. I moved in closer. The figure threw his head up and his eyes penetrated mine. Glaring at me, his face was completely cold and his skin looked as fragile as porcelain. He looked around my age, perhaps a few years older. His dark hair was ruffled and messy, but did nothing to detract from his perfect features.
I knew then that he wasn’t human.
He was hunched over in a heap on the ground. My first instinct was to turn and run away as fast as I could, but he was hurt and in pain. I stopped myself from bolting, but kept my distance. Perhaps he could smell my fear.
“What do you need?” I asked. His eyes were still locked with mine.
“I need to get outta here, they’re coming for me,” he whimpered in response. His voice was soft, but quivering, and his accent was American—at a best guess, East Coast. He was a long way from home.
I nodded, even though I had no clue what he could be afraid of or how it was that he had come to be in a ball beside my feet.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said. I couldn’t help but sense he was lying.
“I’m staying in a place not far from here. Can you walk if I help you?”
He snarled at me as if I had said the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. Searching around, I considered the possibilities. “Stay here,” I said, realizing immediately he had no choice.
I raced down to the bottom of the road, looking for any cars parked by the pub.
Finally, my eyes settled on a small truck just off the main road, sitting at the corner. It was Mr. Broderick’s. I tapped my jeans’ pocket—I still had his keys. Making a beeline for the truck, I approached the driver’s door. He hadn’t even bothered to lock it. Squeezing the handle, I threw myself into the driver’s seat, quickly turning the key in the ignition. It started, making a loud, angry noise as I dipped the clutch and moved away from the curb.
I ground to a halt alongside the woods and jumped out, leaving the door ajar in the rush. Dashing back to where I’d left the shadowed figure, I saw him now slumped against a tree. I could see he had barely any energy, and he seemed uncomfortable as he shifted his weight where he sat.
“Come on,” I whispered as I approached.
Hesitating before I placed his arm around my shoulder, I tried to lift him. His eyes rolled toward me, a look of desire bouncing between them. A shiver ran up my spine. I instinctively pushed back.
“W-w-why are you helping me?” he stuttered as I helped him to his feet.
I thought about that for a moment as I struggled toward the vehicle. “Because sometimes we all need help, no matter what we are.”
I thought for a second he hesitated, wondering perhaps if I knew that he was a Vampire. Little did he know that this was not my first encounter with one of his kind. I had been tricked by one of them before; I’d paid for it with my scarred skin.
We reached the truck and I eased him into the passenger seat and slammed the door, and as fast as I could I jumped back in. Dipping the stiff clutch into first, I sped off up the country road.
“You got a name?” he asked.
“Francesca. Do you?”
He sniggered. “Yeah. Jonah.”
“What can I do to help you?” I asked. He didn’t answer.
It didn’t take long to get back to the house. I could see from his face that he wouldn’t have the strength to attack me. This gave me some reassurance that I wasn’t about to be drained dry, but I was starting to reconsider my decision. I didn’t know how I could offer any help, not really.
The engine grumbled as it came to a stop and I flipped the headlights off. In front of us was the oversized shell of what was once someone’s home. In summer it would be an incredible spot, but here, in the blackness of night, it was an eerie place full of dark secrets.
I paused and collected myself. I reconsidered my actions for a moment. Perhaps this was a ruse—there’s no way someone so strong could be so powerless, could they? But, if he was genuinely in need of help, I had to try.
“Right. Let’s get you inside,” I said.
“We’re not nearly far enough away!”
“From what?” I asked, fidgeting in the driver’s seat. Silence, again. Not a talker apparently. “How far would be far enough?”
“Just drive!” The look on his face suggested this was not a debate.
Reluctantly I turned the key in the ignition once more, and as it struggled to start, my eye was drawn to the red light on the dashboard. Huffing, I rotated the key a final time.
“What are you doing?” he shouted. “I said drive!”
“No can do, it’s nearly out of gas,” I answered. I was beginning to feel a little less sorry for him. Who did he think he was anyway?
With some effort, I managed to get him up to the doorframe and through into the living room, where I placed him down onto my sleeping bag. His whole body was shaking and his forehead was covered in beads of sweat. He looked as though he was burning from the inside out. He wrapped the insulation loosely around himself.
“I’ll just be a minute,” I promised.
Gathering some wood from the kitchen, I produced a pack of matches and a fire starter from my bag. The same as every other night, I set a fire in the ancient fireplace, but for the first time since I had taken up residence in this house, I had someone to share ...
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Descripción MACMILLAN AUDIO, 2014. CD-Audio. Estado de conservación: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. The girl knows she s different. She doesn t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams - a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel. On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve darker forces. Jonah and the few like him are fighting with help from an unlikely ally, a rogue Angel named Gabriel. In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom? Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is. Nº de ref. de la librería BZE9781427251336
Descripción Macmillan Young Listeners, 2014. CMD. Estado de conservación: Brand New. unabridged edition. 6.00x5.25x1.25 inches. In Stock. Nº de ref. de la librería zk1427251339