Authors: Lila Rose,Justine Littleton
Death: The Horsemen Series
Copyright © 2016 by Lila Rose and Justine Littleton
All rights reserved. No part of this e-Book may be used or reproduced in any written, electronic, recorded, or photocopied format without the permission from the author as allowed under the terms and conditions with which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution, circulation or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.
Death: The Horsemen Series
is a work of fiction. All names, characters, events and places found in this book are either from the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to persons live or dead, actual events, locations, or organizations is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Editing & Formatting:
Hot Tree Editing
Cover & Format Design:
Table of Contents
Justine Littleton, thank you for choosing me to be a part of your book baby. I’m glad I got to be the daddy because the storyline you came up with excited me, and I’m thrilled how well Dean and Julie turned out. Thank you for being the history expert, because without you doing it, I would have been lost!!
When you put your mind to it, Justine, you can do anything and this proves it!! Love ya, woman!
I would like to take a moment to thank Lila for believing in me and showing me how it’s done. I have grown so much as a writer, and that is
due to you. I got knocked up with an idea. I was scared and lost, and most likely would not have seen it through without you. Thank you for being the ladyballs of this relationship and my book baby-daddy.
I need to thank my kids. They are the reason we don’t keep alcohol in the house, but also the best reason I wake up every day.
Paige, we would be lost without you, sweetheart. There are not words for how smart, beautiful, loving you have become.
Lily, you grew up so much this summer and I am so proud of you. You have your Ditzy Days, but you have an amazing spirt that keeps us smiling.
My babies, Gwendolyn and Charlie, you two are freaking evil, and god do I love every minute. You have both challenged my sanity to the breaking point and healed my soul with your smiles, snuggles, and sweet kisses.
And last, but by no means least, thank you to my husband. You push me to try new things. You give me reasons and support to dream big, then make damn sure each dream comes true. You’re a dick, but you’re my dick and I’d be nothing without you.
Becky Johnson, who is equally fabulous inside and out, we would be lost without your love and endless patients. You have taught us so much over the years, but the greatest gift you ever gave us was each other. We would not be the terrible twosome we are today if you had not matched us up during Holding Out’s edit.
Our Hot Tree Editing Team
Becky, Terri, Mandy, and Jill
thank you for ripping our baby apart and making us build it up better. Liv and Donna you made it shine. And Virginia
Killer’s (official) Cupcake and the most spectacular friend in the history of the world
thanks for flying out and helping Justine’s writer’s block when needed. You are all fucking amazing, and we wouldn’t be half as good without your input.
RM Gilmore from RMGraphX, thank you for giving the Horsemen covers that truly bring the essence of each Horseman to life.
Neringa thank you for having hawk eyes and finding booboos we may have otherwise missed and being an absolutely amazing support. Any book-whore would be lucky to have a pimp like you… But they can’t because we have claimed you as our tribe. Sorry, babe, you’re stuck with us now.
Thank you to Belinda Donaldson for flirting with our naughty ER Doctor. Hope you liked it as much as he did.
A very special final thanks to Scott Antonio, the man who created the very symbol that has helped give life to our legend, the Horsemen’s Crest.
“Holy Christ on a cracker!” I groaned aloud. It was good to finally relax for a while. However, the comment earned me a perturbed look from the crotchety bible-holding lady across the train aisle. “Yes?” I asked. She said nothing, so I went on, “Sorry.” I winced. “But you know I’m not actually cursing. Trust me, I'd know. I teach children. I was merely showing my appreciation for the Lord and his holy image on baked goods.” That earned me an annoyed look, her eyes narrowing even more before she turned away to glance out the window. I simply couldn’t please them all. Besides, I was too far beyond exhausted to care. I adjusted myself in my uncomfortable Metrolink seat, ready for the long trip home. It was already dark outside and my bed was calling to me.
Really, I couldn’t call the teens I taught children, because they were nothing more than overgrown, overprivileged little devil spawn, and with superiority complexes to boot. So no one could really blame me for the outburst. Every morning, Monday through Friday, I was up at 4:30 a.m. to make it into the city by 6:00 a.m. That was when I homeschooled two arrogant teens until 2:00 p.m. From there it was off to the library, where I held a couple of two-hour sessions of SAT tutoring with a lovely group of pampered princes and princesses. I knew they’d much rather be out spending Mommy and Daddy’s money than studying with me. They, of course, reminded me of that fact every week. But alas, at least my misery paid well.
I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. The current trend among the filthy rich granola crunchers was to be homeschooled. They preferred the one-on-one teaching and were willing to pay bank for the results worth bragging about. Graduating at twenty-two with a summa cum laude, I’d snagged a lucrative job fresh out of school. With their improved grades and high SAT scores, my students gained several Ivy League scholarships to pick from. I was surprised when the popularity of my teaching skills took off from there. Word of mouth and the kids’ killer results had earned me enough recognition to start landing the big fish. The CEOs, money market managers, and Rockefeller types, who expected their kids to be better than the Joneses’, but in most cases were closer to the Bundys’.
Still, I could see the light because it had paid off my student loans in three years, leaving me the ability to save all except the necessary expenses and put enough away to buy my dream home, an adorable stone cottage with a supercute arched door, a beautiful garden, and evergreen shutters. It was simply something out of the books I’d always loved. Hence, the forty-five-minute train ride every day. But it was worth it. The weekends were mine and very soon, so would be the weekdays. I’d finally squirreled enough away to take my tiny part-time book editing business to full-time. I was overcome with joy at the thought of never having to placate the snot-nosed brats again, or the horny teens, in just two weeks’ time. All by the age of twenty-eight.
However, my joy was short-lived as the train jerked to a screeching stop.
“What in the furry Fig Newton is going on up there?” I muttered. The other passengers’ frustration grew alongside my own, a mild murmur of complaint starting up. The train had already been twenty minutes late to begin with. It looked like more delays
on a Friday night. The lights flickering above was the only warning before the screams started in the cars ahead of us. Everyone in my carriage was stunned into silence. With my heart in my throat, I fidgeted in my seat in worry.
Facing forward, I jumped as the noise hit a crescendo before fading off, and the door to the car sprang open. Panic itched the back of my neck as in drifted a hooded figure. When it came to a stop, the cowl fell back.
What I was seeing couldn’t be real; it had to be a dream, a very frightful dream. My stomach dropped as I sat stone still and stared at him, mouth gaping wide.
Screams erupted in our carriage, mine joining the chorus. People started to stand, only to sit again in the next second. The compartment once again fell into utter silence. It was in that eerie way you knew something was going to happen, something big, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. None of us were, but we silently waited, too stunned to do anything.
Seriously, my mother had been right. I did read far too much, and because of it, I had lost my goddamned mind. I’d learned a long time ago there was a time and place for cussing, and finally cracking your nut was one of them. Because I wasn’t sure if I should believe what I saw before me or not. It looked like something that was a cross between Voldemort and a character from
The Walking Dead
. What was possibly once a beautiful man—if the pieces… or chunks were put back on his face, he could be hot—currently had bits of loose-hanging skin and oozing sores covering him. His skin was also a sickly shade of gray. My stomach churned, threatening to bring up the nice sandwich I had for lunch. I didn’t want to keep looking, but my eyes wouldn’t stray from the horrid sight.
His nose had long ago fallen off, leaving a triangle-like shape with two ragged tear-shaped holes to breathe through. But what had me still transfixed in my seat, maybe like everyone else, was his eye.
, not eyes. One, singular. The lovely shade of crazy it emitted led me to believe sudden movement would not be wise. He was a hot mess, pun intended.
He was gory, graphic, gut-retching, and was reaching out with his left skeleton-looking hand. The poor, small Latino man, who had chosen that seat, released a small shriek and attempted to slap his hand away.
For one second, one heartbeat, we watched. The silence was deafening, or so I thought. That was until the small man let out a primal and horrific howl of agony. He jumped from his seat and into the laps of the woman and child seated across from him. I brought my feet up onto the seat and wrapped my arms around my knees in fright as I looked on, witnessing the devastation progress from there in a wave, coming even closer. The suffering and horror spread from person to person, their skin separating, oozing puss, and melting away. Screams of terror rocked the carriage because there seemed to be no escape. Whatever sifted through the carriage came closer and closer to my area in the back. I observed what I was sure would be my death with paralyzing fear. I couldn’t understand why we didn’t feel the urge to run, to save ourselves from our looming fate.
Anger boiled inside me at how still I sat, allowing the nightmarish things to happen around me, but what could I actually do?
My stomach churned. My heart was already speeding off on a crazy frantic beat. My breathing was erratic, while my chest rose and fell at a fast pace. It was as though my body realized what was going on and it wanted to run, to escape from the situation.
However, I did nothing. My only other thought was…
. The dying smelled of flowers.
I snapped to myself a moment too late. A shriek of fright clogged my throat. I tried to back away as the people around me died, but there was nowhere else to go, except farther down in my seat. I felt the brush of the nearest person taking their last breath, passing in a most painful way, and squeezed my eyes shut to await my fate.
I opened my eyes as the screams faded to see the nightmare floating down the aisle toward me.
His freaking feet weren’t even touching the ground! I was incapacitated again, this time with dread. The only thing moving rapidly was my chest as it fought my terrified breath into my lungs. He stopped directly in front of me and reached that same bony, emaciated hand out for me this time. Bone glided down my left cheek.
Again, no pain, but I did scream, and as my vision wavered, two things became clear.
One, it was lilies. The flower smell throughout the carriage was lilies, and it had become stronger as he got closer.
And two was Mr. Hot Mess’s parting words. With a smooth, melodic voice, he sent me off with, “Oh, this is going to be glorious fun!”