Soul Warriors Book 1
An ancient Egyptian amulet.
A pharaoh’s soul inside demanding she obey.
A double cross that ends with a curse.
On her first heist to steal an ancient Egyptian amulet, sixteen-year-old Olivia inadvertently receives the soul of King Tut…and the deadly curse that comes with it. And Olivia’s not alone at the museum.
A member of a secret society, Xander believes it’s his place to inherit King Tut’s soul and justly rule. He knows nothing about the society’s evil plan to control the world or the curse. Now, he must deal with the female thief who stole the amulet.
When the two teens find themselves up against the secret society, they reluctantly join forces and must figure out how to end the curse before it turns deadly. On the run and unable to touch because of the curse, Olivia and Xander develop a connection during their quest.
As the mystery surrounding the amulet unfolds, Olivia and Xander fall for each other. But is love enough to save them and the world from destruction?
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Soul Slam 29 Kobo Paid >…> US Romance
Soul Slam 29 Kobo Paid >…> US Love & Romance
“If you are a fan of Rick Riordan and his Chronicles of Kane Series or even books about quest, with some love and history thrown in..... THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!” – Hooked In A Book
”…this is an imaginative story and its exciting conclusion definitely provides the framework for future stories involving this intrepid couple.” – The Reading Addict
“What a great way to start a series!!! I loved how the story wove in the history of King Tut and gave a modern twist to the Ancient Pharaoh’s power… Excited to see more of this series as it comes out. Perfect YA read.” – Book Junky Girls
“Olivia, hide.” Fitch, Gangfather, took cover across the corridor behind a sign announcing the King Tut exhibition right before a shadow fell over me.
I swallowed a gasp and crouched behind one of the vertical mummy cases littering the darkened hallway of the museum. I gripped the tire iron with sweaty hands. My heart beat a frenzied drill in my chest, echoing the clump, clump, clump of the footsteps coming this way.
The footsteps drew nearer. The shadow morphed from blob to human as it passed an emergency light. The profile clearly outlined a security guard’s hat. A security guard who wasn’t supposed to be here.
This is not what Fitch promised for my first heist.
We go in. Grab the amulet. Get out. That was the plan.
In slow motion, Fitch raised his arms and brought them silently crashing down, signaling he wanted me to take the guard out.
I shook my head. What were the odds the guard headed for the same exhibit?
Fitch’s wrinkled face grew stern. This was not a request. Get the guard now or pay for not listening later.
The guard paced across the floor heading our way, toward the exhibition about the Egyptian boy king. I didn’t care about all-important titles, didn’t want to rule the world. All I cared about was surviving. Collecting the prize for Fitch so I could stay in his family and watch over the younger kids.
Fitch signaled the crashing motion again. Then he pointed a gnarled finger at me, raised his hand to his neck and made a slashing motion across. My knees knocked together like chattering teeth. My perspiration had perspiration. If I didn’t get the guard out of the way, Fitch would get me out of the way.
The guard passed. I forced my knees to still. Fitch wouldn’t let this guy ruin the plan. The plan he designed down to the last second. The plan to be executed by me.
Or I’d be executed.
Actually, an execution wouldn’t be so bad. At least it was fast. If I didn’t pull this off, my fate would be long, slow, torturous.
Like my life.
No. Fitch would never execute me. He got too much pleasure abusing me. Without me to kick around he’d have nothing to do. His slashing motion had been overly-dramatic.
The guard strolled closer. So close, his evergreen aftershave tickled my nose.
My hands clutched and unclutched the tire iron. My stomach cramped and my gaze went fuzzy. I couldn’t stand here and wait for us to be discovered. I couldn’t let this security guard go into the King Tut exhibit. I couldn’t delay this heist any longer.
I raised my arms and held the tire iron high. The guard walked by. His thin frame and wiry mustache reminded me of someone from my past. My way distant past. Ignoring the tingle of memory, I gathered my courage to hit the guard on the head and knock him out. Just like Fitch wanted.
At the last second I pulled back. I couldn’t hurt an innocent guy. He was just doing his job. Probably a dad. Then his kids would end up like me. Or Tina and Doug.
The guard continued forward. So what if we had to wait for him to finish his rounds before we stole the amulet. Fitch couldn’t do much more to me. He already treated me like a slave. I lowered the tire iron and let out a slow breath.
The guard swiveled back around.
My relieved breath must’ve given me away. Fitch would kill me if we were caught. Panic jolted as if someone had attached jumper cables and revved the engine. I leapt behind the security guard and shoved him toward one of the open mummy cases. He wiggled, trying to fight, but surprise was on my side. All one hundred pounds of me pushed and shoved to get his small frame inside. I slammed the cover shut and leaned, using all my weight to keep it closed. Then, I braced the tire iron against the carved out arms on the mummy case lid and the grooved tile floor.
The guard pounded on the inside like a soul begging to get out. His mumbled yells scratched at my nerves. I hoped he wasn’t claustrophobic.
“So, sorry.” I lifted my shoulders high trying to block out the sound and shake off the icky-ness of leaving him in an enclosed, small, dark space. I couldn’t feel sorry for him. At least he was alive.
“You stupid kid.” Fitch came out from his hiding spot yelling in a whisper. His diamond-cut eyes lasered into me. His misshapen hands curled like he wanted to crush my windpipe. “You were supposed to knock him out. What if he saw our faces?”
Fitch had been angry before. A lot. But I’d never seen rage fill every pore of his skin, spew from every breath, vibrate off his entire body.
“He didn’t.” My voice sounded confident, but inside I was a shivering mass of nerves. “I pushed him from behind.”
“You think you’re so smart.” Fitch’s tone was not complimentary. “What’re we supposed to do with the guy now?”
The guard kept banging.
“He’s going to alert another guard.” Yellow spittle flew from Fitch’s mouth. “We’re on a tight schedule. We don’t have time to deal with this.”
I glanced up and down the hallway. “We could call for back-up. Have one of the older guys come and get him.”
Right. I slapped my empty back pocket. Our technophobe client had insisted we not take cell phones on this job, afraid the phones would give our location away to authorities. I felt naked without it.
“I’ll take care of the security guard while you get the amulet.”
Alone? My first job? The beat of my heart scurried like the rats in the warehouse we call home. “Wh-what?”
“We don’t have time for one of your educational discussions.” Fitch grabbed my arm in a painful squeeze. For a guy who acts feeble, he can be strong when he wants to. “Get the amulet like you practiced. I’ll meet you on the loading dock.”
“I should’ve used Tina and Doug.”
“They’re only ten.” Twins, Tina and Doug had been abandoned by their druggie parents. “They’re way too young to crawl around a museum stealing a priceless artifact.”
They deserved so much better. And I planned to give it to them.
“At least they would’ve listened.” Fitch angled his head and gave me a death stare.
I entered the exhibit. The light from the full moon shone through the skylight and glinted off the glass cases displaying Tut’s precious artifacts. A beautiful gold bracelet with lapis lazuli stones got my attention, but I wasn’t here to admire the pieces. I was here to steal the Mighty Amulet of Aten, the sun god King Tut worshipped.
Drawn to the correct case by a magnetic force, the hairs on my arms began to rise. The amulet lay on a raised platform of blue velvet and glowed with an inner spark. Eighteen golden rays dangled from a circular disc shaped like the sun. Each of the rays ended in a human hand.
Who knew ancient jewelry could be so ugly?
Ugly, but important. Even the foot-long glass case couldn’t contain the necklace’s essence and power. Scared or not, my fingers itched to lift the lid of the glass case and scoop the necklace with no thought to caution—or a jail term.
Could I ever be a normal kid? Would I take kids’ lunch money? Steal other girls’ boyfriends?
Taking a ragged breath, I slipped the pick tools out of the pocket of my black jeans. I wore all black for practicality, not fashion-ality.
My hands trembled, so I fisted them tight until I felt warmth in my palms, then I relaxed the hand one finger at a time. When Fitch had showed me this technique I’d laughed thinking it dumb. I didn’t think so anymore.
I selected the right-sized pick head and the Allen wrench I’d sanded to fit the display case lock precisely. Fitch knew all the specifics for the job from the pin and tumbler lock with eight pins, to the delayed pressure alarm, to the guard schedule.
Except he’d been wrong about that one.
I studied the glowing ancient amulet. My body heated and scattered tingles shot up my neck in warning. I tamped down on the nerves. This should go off without another hitch.
Then, why was I so nervous?
Maybe because plans had already gone awry. Or because Tina had hugged me so tight when I’d left, like she’d never see me again. Possibly because the eeriness of the full moon eclipse.
I glanced past the light from the skylight and the humidity-sensing machine and sighted the exhibit’s security system box located over the main door. The green light was off. My signal that the rest of the team had taken care of the electronic security within the museum including infrared beams, and window and door alarms.
Time to strut my stuff.
I glanced at the bluck-tastic bling and my heart pounded in tune with the energy pulsing off the amulet.
Inserting the wrench into the lower portion of the keyhole, I applied pressure and turned it slightly clockwise. Next, I inserted the pick into the upper part of the hole and felt for the pins.
I pinched the wrench between my hot pink nails and set pins one and two. A cramp seized my hand and I nearly let go of the wrench. Pins three and four clicked into place. Perspiration broke out on my upper lip. Pins five and six pinged. I let out a breath. Pins seven and eight cleared.
My shoulders relaxed. Victory. Fitch would be pleased.
Using the Allen wrench, I turned the cylinder to the full unlocked position.
A secondary door to the exhibit banged open.
I jumped. Shot a look toward the sound. Shadows. Two people. My heart bounced around. My tummy twisted with knots so tight I felt like I’d swallowed a bag of pretzels.
Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.
They entered the room.
More security guards doing nightly rounds?
The overhead lights flickered and then flooded the room. Footsteps shuffled on the concrete floor. Whoever it was, they weren’t worried about making noise or getting caught.
But I was.
I dove toward a display case and crawled inside a concrete box with carvings on the sides. The heavy lid covered a small portion of the two by four foot space. The air stank of mold and it was hard to breathe. Even with the lid mostly off, I felt like I was suffocating in a coffin.
Maybe because it was a coffin. Or sarcophagus, as the Egyptians called it.
My lungs deflated and I quietly gasped for air. Sweat ran down my back in rivers. My entire body convulsed like a junkie in withdrawal. I hated small dark spaces.
Hate might be too mild.
Terrified. Petrified. Horrified. Or all three combined.
The sweat on my back chilled and I shivered, remembering my third set of foster parents and their interesting form of punishment. Now, I really felt sorry for the guard if he was still stuck in the mummy case. We’d both shrivel up and die.
My skin prickled and I felt like it would crawl off my body. I wanted to scream and jump out of the box, escape out of the museum and run into the night. Ragged breaths spurted between my lips. I stared blindly at the hieroglyphics and artwork of ancient cats with gold collars and bejeweled beds. My gaze caught on an etched golden key.
The realization I’d forgotten my pick came like a hard slap on the back of my head. A sharp shock jerked my body like the time I plugged in Christmas lights from the dumpster. I hadn’t noticed the wires were frayed. I’d only wanted to brighten the younger kids’ day, and instead I’d brightened the inside of my veins.
I peeked over the edge of the sarcophagus and glowered at the back of the display case. My pick stuck out of the lock like a big, red, warning flag.
All my nerve endings short-circuited. I imagined Fitch’s harsh voice, ‘Never leave your tools behind. It’s like leaving the cops your calling card.’ His lessons had been learned the hard way.
The footsteps moved closer to my hiding spot. Definitely more than one person. One set sounded off-rhythm, like he had a limp. The other flapped at a leisurely pace.
“Hurry, Xander. We don’t have much time.” The voice sounded older, probably the guy with the limp.
Hurry up hurry up hurry up.
I waited for them to get what they came for and leave, not caring if they were legitimate, or thieves like me. I wanted out now. So I could finish my job and get away.
“I’ve waited years for this and now you want to rush.” The other guy’s voice, the one called Xander, reminded me of the snooty owners of the fancy stores on Nob Hill that I’d cased.
“The Society has waited centuries,” the older, more weary-sounding man answered. “You’re only sixteen.”
Sixteen like me. Only I wasn’t arrogant. At the moment, fear and adrenaline twisted the acid in my stomach like an out-of-whack mixer. The instinct to run, or barf, came over me.
“How long will it take?”
My question exactly.
“The full moon eclipse will last for seventy-two minutes. The ceremony takes eighteen,” the old guy said.
They moved closer to my hiding spot. My skin tightened as if my internal organs had expanded. I hoped the sarcophagus didn’t hold what they searched for.
Something had gone wrong with Fitch’s intel. Maybe backing out would be better. Come back another night. I might not like black, but jailhouse orange is not the new pink.
“Then, just do it.” Xander sounded like a commercial.
“Once the host has transferred you can’t touch anyone,” the older voice shook with fear or excitement. Hard to tell which.
“Yeah, yeah, Jeb. Got it. Don’t touch anyone.” The guy dissed the old man.
Fitch would’ve slapped me silly if I didn’t show respect.
“We will leave the museum and go directly to meet with the Society elders.” The older man called Jeb made a crinkling noise like he unrolled cracking wallpaper. “They will tell you how to find the essential oils which will help you control the sun—”
Control the sun? I peeked over the edge of the sarcophagus. What were these guys high on? Had they sniffed too much Polo Black at the mall?
“—and issue your first commands.”
“Let’s get this party started.” Xander stopped in front of a display case.
My display case.
This. Could. Not. Be. Happening.
My ribs poked like I wore an old-fashioned corset from a different exhibit in the museum. I couldn’t breathe. And this time it wasn’t because of the small, dark space. There were far more expensive, not to mention prettier, items to steal in the museum. Why my amulet?
“This is not a party. This is a serious endeavor. With serious consequences,” Jeb’s prickly and precise tone scratched down my spine.
“Believe me, I know.” Xander sounded bored, like he was hearing a teacher drone on about things for the millionth time.
Every word poked a hole in my future. I couldn’t let them take my prize.
Jeb began mumbling in a strange language using words, or what I thought were words, with lots of vowels and a few strange clicks.
The chanting went on forever. I didn’t have time to listen for eighteen minutes. Fitch waited by the loading dock and I was already behind schedule.
“Use the key to open the case.”
The English sentence froze my mind for a second. Then a billion thoughts and fears burst in my brain. They were definitely going to take my amulet, not just pray over the piece.
And they had a key. A key that would’ve made my job so much simpler.
I’d worked too hard on this job to let them filch the amulet in front of my face like shoes at a clearance sale. I needed that necklace. Needed it like I needed air to breathe or the sun to shine. Needed it to survive.
Again, I peeked over the edge of the coffin. I glimpsed at the amulet in its case about five feet away and the two people who stood between me and my goal.
The old guy, Jeb I assumed, wore a dark suit. His long grey hair flowed onto the shoulders of his jacket like a religious figure. He held a large scroll and waved his other hand around like a symphony conductor I’d seen on TV. He stood on one side of the case with his back to me.
The sixteen-year-old, Xander, stood on the far side. He wore a white tunic like he was attending a toga party. A gold crown sat on the top of his jet black hair.
I swallowed the half laugh-half choke trying to escape my mouth. Had I fallen into a black hole of history?
Obviously, these two were complete amateurs. Between their easily-describable attire and the glaring white sheet they’d get away with nothing. Better for me to take the amulet first.
Xander studied the display case with his head bowed. He seemed just as enthralled by my amulet. The amulet I’d been trained to steal. The amulet Fitch’s customer paid a cool million to acquire. The amulet I needed to save myself and the kids in the family.
Xander moved toward the back of the case and then lifted his head. His green gaze pierced the distance between the case holding my prize and the sarcophagus holding my body.
My heart fluttered at the intense look he shot my way. With his thick, black hair, strong chin and full lips he looked like a gorgeous teen actor in a Roman action movie. But we weren’t on a stage set. And life wasn’t a movie with a happily ever after.
His lips quirked in a slight smile and for a second I thought he smiled at me. My knees liquefied and I melted into the coffin. With no air in my chest, I waited for him to sound the alarm. To tell Jeb of my presence.
Had he seen me? Or had I been completely unnoticeable?
Which was a good thing, right? I was a thief.
“Looks like someone was here before us.”
“What’re you talking about Xander?”
“Whoever it was picked the lock.”
Xander hadn’t noticed me, but the tool I’d stupidly left behind.
My shoulders drooped with what should’ve been relief, but felt more like disappointment.
Jeb opened the case. “Xander, take the amulet now.”
My muscles bunched, ready to spring into action.
Jeb mumbled the foreign words faster.
Xander moved closer and reached out.
I couldn’t let this happen. Fitch would tear me a new one if I didn’t get this piece. This heist was all he’d talked about for weeks. We’d practiced a billion times. I had to take the amulet.
Crawling ninja-style out of the sarcophagus, my black gym shoes hit the ground without a sound. But inside, a screech built in my lungs and released on a heavy exhale, the scream so loud it sounded like an alarm. “Aiyeeeeee!”
Xander and the old man froze.
I lunged at the case, swooped in, and grabbed the amulet.
A jolt rocked my body. Pain rocketed up my spine, but I held tight to the prize. Clutching the piece in both hands, I hit the concrete floor like a football player making a catch, and kept rolling.
“A girl.” Xander’s surprised voice rose on a high note. “What the…Tut.”
“Grab her!” The old man spoke in English.
“Touch her?” Xander sounded horrified like I was the slime of the world. “I can’t.”
“She’s got the amulet.”
I tried to get to my feet but the pulsing inside threw me off balance. I crashed back onto the floor. Pain seared my fingers and heat rushed my veins.
My body jerked. My head spun.
Something slammed into me from the inside, like it was in my body trying to get out. Back and forth I jerked. A powerful energy thumped from my ribcage to my stomach and back again.
I trembled from head to foot. My vision blurred. Images swam before my eyes—a blue river, golden statues, Egyptian pyramids, deceit, and death.
“What’s going on?” The sound coming out of my mouth warbled. “Am I dying?”
This felt worse than the time I had pneumonia with no medicine, or the time I broke my arm and Fitch duct taped it…
Fogginess seeped into my consciousness. If I blacked-out they’d steal the amulet, leave me to be caught, to go to prison, to face Fitch’s wrath.
Whatever was inside me ignited like a nuclear bomb. My skin could no longer contain my insides. I’d explode into tiny pieces and scatter across the museum floor.
“It’s happening…To. Her.” Jeb’s voice was faint as if coming from a distance, but I saw his shoes through squinted eyelids.
“But it’s my right. My inheritance.” Xander stomped his sandaled foot near my head. “My destiny.”
“It’s too late.” Jeb’s voice curled like a sneer with extra hatred. “The transfer has occurred. This stupid girl is now in possession of King Tutankhamun’s soul.”