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Peace Piper

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Peace Piper
Soul Warriors Book 3

Her mother slowly dying in a poisonous plot of power.
An ancient instrument of peace threatening ultimate destruction.
A determined brainiac demanding secrets and smart enough to uncover them.

Piper Akins has lived her entire life in the clutches of an evil cult and wants to run away. But with her uncle’s double cross and her mother on her deathbed, she has no choice but to do as the cult demands and search for the supposed magical trumpet of King Tut.

Thanks to an unknown but powerful father, Piper is immune to the trumpet’s effects. But she’s not immune to the charms of Soul Warrior Math, who believes she’s working with him not against him.

Math might be the smartest warrior in the force, but he wants to be respected for his physical prowess. The only way to prove this is to discover Piper’s secrets, find the missing trumpet of peace, and defeat the evil cult. When Piper tricks him, he realizes he’s failed on all counts.

While Piper and Math circle around each other, pretending one thing, believing another, the threat grows. Her mother will certainly die if Piper doesn’t betray her growing love for Math. And Math must offer more than muscles and brains to win Piper over. He must offer his heart.

But can both learn to trust each other in time to stop mankind’s annihilation?

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“Peace Piper by Allie Burton is a contemporary fantasy steeped in a distant past’s legends and curses. Ms. Burton’s characterization of the evil characters is sinister and slimy, while the Soul Warriors give off an aura of good, honor and duty. Poor Piper, a brilliant and clever young girl who is caught in the middle, alone to make decisions based on her limited knowledge and a loss of trust in those in authority.” -- Dii Top 500 Reviewer

“I loved it and I am eagerly awaiting a free moment to start the series from the beginning. The characters are fun, flirty and mysterious. The storyline is engaging and wonderfully paced. Oh yes, I am digging these Soul Warriors and their history. 5 Magical Stars!” -- Mandy @ I Read Indie

“This is one of those rare novels that will be loved by teens and adults alike.” -- Jonel, Amazon Reviewer


Chapter One

The eerie quietness of my uncle’s pawn shop slithered across my skin making the hairs on my arms stand at attention. Something was wrong. The shop was usually crawling with down-on-their-luck people who traded precious objects for cash, but there wasn’t a soul around in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Uncle Louie profited from people’s misery. The dirtiness of his business clung to me, and I always left needing a shower.

From the back room, he dealt in stolen and black-market goods. Illegal items. Magical relics.

The reason for my visit today.

Inching into the shop, I trod carefully around the frayed carpet near the stairs and the dented linoleum floor. A moldy smell wafted from the bookcases. The shelves lining the walls were filled with clocks and paintings and other knickknacks the good people of San Francisco could no longer afford. The floor itself held antique couches and rocking chairs, musical instruments, and even a fake mummy.

I lived in the basement of an Egyptian museum and I’d seen a real mummy. I’d seen lots of strange items and occurrences.

My gaze shifted to the main counter holding precious jewelry underneath its glass surface. Jewelry I’d love to wear.

Black boots and the ripped hem of a pair of jeans lay on the floor sticking out from behind the counter. I sucked in a sharp breath. Uncle Louie?

Stepping closer, my body trembled. Shock pulsed in an uneven rhythm through my veins, making me lightheaded. I tried to control my reaction. Dealing with unusual situations was nothing new, but dealing with murder? I never saw that in the museum basement.

Nausea built in my belly and crawled up my chest. I slipped my cell phone out of my back jeans’ pocket, ready to call the cops. My hand holding the phone shook, sending vibrating tremors up my arm. If Uncle Louie was around and I called the cops, he’d be furious. I didn’t want to talk to the police knowing my uncle’s reputation.

Knowing my mom’s situation.

Knowing my secret errand.

Best to investigate first. Talk to Uncle Louie. Find the object I came for. And then make the decision whether to call the cops.

I clicked on the video app on my phone and started recording. Better to have visual evidence I didn’t commit murder. The cops wouldn’t trust my word because I had no traceable history. Aaron, the leader of the Magical Order of Crucis, wouldn’t trust me, either.

I tiptoed toward the counter and leaned over.

Bob, one of Uncle Louie’s employees, lay motionless on the ground. Sorrow and pain flowed through me. I didn’t see blood or a bullet hole or a knife wound. With wobbly knees, I bent down to check for signs of life. The sickness in my stomach threatened to rise at the thought of touching a dead body. Because why else would the guy be lying here?

A screeching noise came from the back room.

My body stiffened. Every muscle contracted and tightened. I jerked my head up, listening. Someone was in the shop.

The killer? Or my uncle? Or maybe he was both?

Nothing Uncle Louie did surprised me. Aaron said my uncle would do anything to make a buck. I planned to escape from both of them. Soon.

I couldn’t take the time to discover if and how Bob died, I needed to find out who lived, who was making the noise. If it was Uncle Louie, he could deal with this death scene.

The screeching continued and my body hummed along. The music called to me in a strange way, even though it sounded like a badly-played instrument. A saxophone or a trumpet.

My heart thudded and dropped, tapping at my feet like one of Tut’s gold sandals. Couldn’t be the powerful instrument I’d been sent to pick up.

Uncle Louie wouldn’t be so stupid to disobey the demands of the Magical Order of Crucis. Would he? I might be scared of Uncle Louie, but I was terrified of the Order. They held my life and my mom’s life in their fascist fists. Or in Mom’s case, their underground ceremonial temple.

An urge to follow the sound tugged me forward. Only because it was my job to retrieve Tut’s Trumpet of Peace. Nothing else. Brushing aside the urge to run toward the noise, I forced myself to walk to the back room at a slow, steady pace. I didn’t believe in the magical properties the trumpet was supposed to possess.

I followed the discordant notes into the short, dark hallway leading toward the bathroom, break room, and my uncle’s office. The disgusting bathroom was to the right. Door open and empty. A person had to be desperate to use the foul facilities.

The break room was to the left. A shop employee lay on top of the table, a lit cigarette dangling from his hand. Motionless. No blood or gaping wound.

The pounding in my heart increased so fast it sounded like a speeding train. The hairs on my body didn’t just stand at attention, they froze in place. Holy hieroglyphics.

Moving past, I knew I couldn’t help the guy if he was still alive. I was good at fixing machines, not people. Plus, this need to find the source of the sound pulled. I glanced at my cell phone, recording my stroll through the land of the dead. Calling the cops would be the smart thing to do, the right thing to do, except Uncle Louie would kill me. Unless he was dead, too.

And Aaron, the leader of the Order, would assign me a fate worse than death.

Indecision danced on my own grave. Be killed by the killer or call the cops and be killed by Uncle Louie or Aaron. Which will it be, Piper?

I’d finally gotten my driver’s license and a bit of freedom from Aaron and the Order. Before, they’d kept us prisoners in the secret basement of the museum. Hoping to use my new freedom once Mom was healthy, I planned to escape. In the meantime, I was trying to prove my trustworthiness to Aaron while I bided my time.

“It’s a valuable artifact.” Uncle Louie’s greedy voice slid into the hallway—a wheeling and dealing snake.

The imagined snake slunk across my skin. The fear he was dead faded. The fear he might kill me never waned. The instrument still played. And still pulled. I held my body back, hiding by the doorway.

“Worth lots of money.” Uncle Louie continued his sales pitch, although he slurred his words. Weird, because Uncle Louie didn’t drink. “The trumpet came with a special shipment from Egypt.”

That very trumpet blared in my head, confirming my suspicion and heralding my demise. Uncle Louie was selling Tut’s Trumpet of Peace. Aaron would be furious and the Magical Order of Crucis would take retribution on Uncle Louie.

On me, and my mom, too.

The urge to dash into the room and rip the trumpet away from the player pulsed inside of me. To save myself, my mom, and the trumpet.

“How much?” A nasally voice asked.

The trumpet screeched a high, out-of-tune chord, so there had to be a third person in the room who played. The need to play the trumpet rushed through my bloodstream and twitched in my fingers. I could play the trumpet so much better even though I’d never had a single music lesson or touched an instrument in my life.

Confusion jumbled my thinking. Why would I think I could play it?

The desire to play battled with fear of this same desire. Teasing and taunting, fighting for my soul. My job was to pick up the trumpet from Uncle Louie and deliver it to Aaron, not play the instrument.

Uncle Louie was the middleman. The Order had the trumpet delivered to him in an illegal shipment. He was supposed give the trumpet to me so I could bring it to Aaron. The Magical Order of Crucis believed the Trumpet of Peace would bring harmony to the world, and Mom would be free from her pain and suffering.

Camel dung.

How could Tut’s trumpet bring peace when it had already caused death?