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LION BLOOD


LOVE IN A TIME OF VENGEANCE


BOOK ONE


BY A.J. JONES


COPYRIGHT 2017 A.J. JONES


SMASHWORDS EDITION

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This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite e-book retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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I would like to thank all of those who have supported me through my writing endeavors. It was a great pleasure.

The fictional story presented in this novel is loosely based from the Greek myth of Theseus and Phaedra

Cover art by SelfPubBookCover.com/Ravenborn


References

Wikipedia

Werewolves.com

Predator Conservation

LongRidge Writers GroupLions.org

World Of Baby Names by Teresa Norman

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Herbs

Roses For Love/Rose Color Meanings

Geology.com

Grammarly

Word Porn

The Writer’s Circle

Writer’s Digest.com



TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN


CHAPTER ONE

Lafayette, NC.


Leander De Le Coeur watched the five foot two mahogany toned woman. She stood at the counter waiting for her order. Her black kinky twists pulled atop her head. Some had fallen from the deep purple hair tie. They draped lazily on her shoulders. He noticed her brown eyes scanning the screen on her phone. He sat incognito in a corner booth. She stood at the counter waiting for her order. Her black kinky twists pulled atop her head. Some had fallen from the deep purple hair tie. They draped lazily on her shoulders. He noticed her brown eyes scanning the screen on her phone. He sat incognito in a corner booth. He didn't want her to see him just yet. His uncertainty of how she’d react after leaving her three years ago kept him from approaching her. He knew of other reasons as to why he couldn’t make an attempt at re-entering her life. His main reasoning was the broken heart he’d let her with and the clearing of his name. Even though he knew his absence was for the best. The guilt gnawed at him daily.

He noticed she looked up from her phone. She made small talk with the blonde aged waitress. She flashed a smile. It was evident the waitress liked to talk. The mahogany woman politely entertained her conversation. He stretched his black attired six foot four frame and adjusted his long legs for comfort. His pecan brown hands embraced a small white cup of coffee. He turned his attention to the wall on his right. His light brown eyes looked over the vintage posters and license plates that decorated it. The restaurant had a warm friendly feel to it. Even the waiters and waitresses made it feel like home. He shook his head sadly as he glanced over the wall once more. He knew he could never go back to his real home. His blood family. At least not yet. He pulled out his cellphone. He stared at it for a minute before pushing the button. He pushed the text symbol. He scrolled through his contacts. He found who he was looking for. He pressed the name and quickly sent the message. He pressed the button on the phone to close it. He slid the black device back into his pocket. He knew he wasn’t going to get a reply. At least not the one he expected. All he had to do was wait. Until he found the truth to clear his name.

The aroma of breakfast hung in the evening air. His sensitive nose picked up on it that. His keen hearing focused on the ringing bells tied to the handle of the glass doors. As an elderly couple took their regular seats a few feet away from him, the night breeze stole in the scent of rain. His soul ached for the impending precipitation. He loved a good downpour. It washed away things seen and unseen.

He looked down at the ring on his right ring finger. The gold lion head setting had been designed to look ferocious. In its roaring mouth sat a large ruby. In the stone the family crest was laid. A black lion headed man with a human body. He held a gold bow and arrows in one hand and gold shackles in the other. Staring at the ring brought back a memory of the first time he met his younger brother. He thought about the day his father gave it to him the ring.

August 21, 1818. Briar Creek, NC. De Le Coeur Manor.

Leiandros De Le Coeur stood at the head of the round dining room. He held a glass of absinthe in one large pecan brown hand. He held firmly to his golden lion headed cane with the other. The sun’s rays laid on his bald head. Their light heat caused his skin to glisten. He pulled a white handkerchief from his breast pocket. With the hand that held the cane, he wiped his head. The cloth fell over his scarred eye as he did. The angry mark ran from the top of his right dark brow down to the top of his right cheek. That and his leg were a clear reminder of how brutal life could be for their kind could be.

Leiandros placed the cane back to the floor. He leaned a bit. With the support of his cane, he regained his balance. He looked to the right. His son, Leander, stood next to him. He stared back at him with the same light brown eyes. Even though Leander was the size of a teenage boy, something older and wiser lived within him. In human years he was fifteen. In pride years he was only a year old. Leiandros couldn’t help but smile proudly as Leander was almost a splitting image of him when he was that age.

“Leander,” his regal voice rumbled. He placed the wine glass down on the table. He glanced down at the wooden scarlet mahogany box. It sat next to the glass. He returned his attention back to Leander. “It’s time for me to show you something.”

With the help of his cane, Leiandros limped toward his study. Leander trailed behind obediently. He entered and closed the door behind him. Leander leaned against the enormous oak desk. He watched his father search the book shelf.

“I always forget what book it is,” he joked. He placed a finger on a book. “The centuries are catching up to me.”

He pulled on a book. It had a red cover with a black lion headed statue on the front. Gold cuffs encircled its wrists. In its hands were gold shackles and a gold bow and arrows.

“I have something to show you. It’s time you know your family history,” Leiandros partially pulled the book out. He slid it back in place.

Suddenly the entire shelf slowly opened as if it were one of the books opened. A gust of old wind blew against Leander as if signaling its happiness at finally being released. He moved hopped down from the desk. He walked to his father. He peered into the opening. He saw nothing, but darkness. He watched his father step into the blackness. He felt his father moving forward. He realized he was taking a step forward. He stayed close and hesitantly followed.

“Don’t be afraid,” his voice resounded in the blackness. Each step his father took was followed by the tap of his cane. Leander realized, as he trailed behind his father, he was going down spiral stairs. He breathed deeply. He coughed. The dank earthy smell mixed with dust didn’t sit well with his lungs. A cold chill ran down his spine. His body shivered involuntarily. He reached out to the right of him. He felt the frigid hard roughness of stone. It seemed as if they were going down the dark abyss for some time. His legs ached from the numerous stairs. He bumped into his father. A sigh of relief escaped his lips when Leander realized his father had stopped.

“We’re here,” he released a deep breath Leander’s hand. “Don’t move.”

He did as his father told him. Even though he heard his father’s footsteps and tapping cane, he was frightened. He reached in front of him. He felt nothing. Only a slight breeze that danced across his fingers.

“Father,” his voice echoed. His father’s presence was already a powerful one, but he felt alone. He gasped as candles and torches burst alive. It caused the abyss to illuminate like stars in a clear night sky. He looked around in amazement once his eyes adjusted to the light. He glanced down and realized he stood at the bottom of the long staircase. He peered to his right. He saw that the rough grey he felt earlier changed to a smooth white marble. He noticed streaks of grey mixed in. He extended his hand out. He touched the smooth cold wall. It was a sharp contrast from the barrage next to it. He stepped down onto the dark shiny floor. He saw the reflection of the gold ceiling on it. He looked up. He noted the ancient markings that were written on it.

“What are these markings, father,” he glanced over at Leiandros. He turned his attention back to the writing.

“Hieroglyphs. Our form of hieroglyphs.”

Leander heard the tapping of his father’s cane. He watched his father amble toward two in shiny black coffins. The edge of the lids and sides were lined in gold. On the top of the lids was the original symbol of the Nubian lion god, Apedemak. The image showed three lion heads, four human arms, and the body of a snake rising out of a lotus.

“That was the original symbol of our pride,” Leiandros gruffly said.

“Why did you change it,” Leiandros studied the symbol.

“Bad memories.”

Leander saw two golden handled swords. He hesitantly came closer. He noted both covers had the symbol He also noticed something else. One coffin lid had the image of a resting man sculpted on it. He was naked except for what seemed like a black carved sheet over his midsection. His eyes were closed. He seemed to be at peace. The other was a woman who looked the same. Her carved sheet cover her midsection and breasts. Her hair looked like braided tendrils. They fell long over her covered body. The two gold handled swords were stood in the chest of each coffin. He squinted his eyes and saw different hieroglyphs carved on the blades.

“What are those,” he pointed to the swords. He looked at the coffins. “Who are they?”

“They are family.”

“Why was this done to them?”

“They must be protected and feared. If the time ever comes, they must die,” Leiandros strolled over to him. “Those symbols are hieroglyphs. They are very sacred and powerful. Those swords are never to be removed. Do you understand?”

“Yes, father,” he stared at his father. He looked back at the coffins. “Are they dangerous?”

“More than you’ll ever know,” he said nostalgically.

“Are they alive?”

“They are resting...I hope peacefully,” Leiandros turned to him. “They have no hearts. Those swords keep them from rising.”

Leander viewed the coffins. He noticed a slight shift in the sword. He stepped back frightened.

“They know you’re here,” Leiandros grumbled. “They can’t harm you when they’re like this.”

Leander took a step away. He observed his father walking away. Leiandros pointed to the far right wall. He followed his father. He noticed the wall was black stone. At the top was a golden sun. It was laid in gold. Within the sun was the carving of the same statue that was on the book cover. The sun’s rays turned to roots as they grew further down. His father pointed to them. “Here.”

“Are these hieroglyphs too,” Leander stepped closer.

“Yes. They are our names.”

Leander watched as his father told him each name. He noticed he skipped two. When he was finished, he turned to him.

“Why did you skip those name,” he pointed to the top.

“They are names we don’t mention. We don’t give life to them. It’s not good for anyone.” “Them,” Leander glanced at the coffins. “Their names.”

“It’s time for you to know who and what you are. You’re a descendant of the Nubian lion god. You are born from the ancient bloodline of Apedemak.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means the lion inside you sleeps. But, there will come a time when he will awaken. You will change once, but this is not of your doing. It is the will of Apedemak. When that time comes, don’t fight it. Claim your power. Every change after that is of your own doing,” he placed his hand on Leander’s left shoulder. “You will be taught to control yourself.”

“Yes, father.”

“Secrecy and discretion is very important. It is how we have survived all these years. Us and other prides. There are those who wish to do us harm. They want to destroy us.”

“Humans,” Leander nodded his head. “We don’t live by the rules of the humans. We have our own set of rules and laws. As long as we follow them, we will be safe.”

Leander nodded again.

“The ring you see myself and your uncle wear is our family crest. It was changed after they were put down,” he nodded toward the coffins. “Your aunt wears a bracelet. Your mother wears a necklace. Your ring is upstairs. It is your legacy. You must guard it with your life. It is who you are.”

“I will guard it, father, with my life.”

He looked at his father adoringly. The voice of one of the waitresses greeting a customer brought Leander out of his remembrance. He glanced at his ring again before placing his hand on the table. It was his birthday when he received his family crest. He turned two in human years. Twenty four in lion years. A foreboding presence swept over him. It caused a memory he tried to keep locked away to force itself to the front of his mind. It flooded him mind like a raging waterfall. He tried to fight it as he took a deep breath. It angered him. A luxury he couldn’t afford. He had to keep all his senses in control. He took another calming breath. He glanced at the young woman again. He looked down at his coffee cup. He blamed himself for what happened that night. If only he’d listened to his instincts.

May 5, 2013. Briar Creek, NC.

The De Le Coeur French chateau inspired red brick manor stood tall and regal against the backdrop of the descending sun. The shades of night seemed to quickly chase away the chariots of day. The tall white columns stood like beacons against dusk. Each of the twelve tall rectangular windows held a candle on the sill. They flickered as if each flame waited for a visitor. Leander De Le Coeur waited at the front gates. His black Chevy F-150 purred. The tall spiked iron gates opened slowly. He stepped on the gas and he roared through. The gravel road leading to the front of the manor sent small rocks flying from under the tires. On each side of the driveway stood white magnolia trees. They towered like giants. He noticed the small white petals from neighboring flowering dogwood trees made the path look snow covered. When he got to the front of the manor he turned the truck off, he parked, and stepped out. He closed the door behind him. He proceeded to sprint up the five red brick stairs that lead to the heavy oak door. A large lion shaped knocker adorned it. Its ferocious snarl held a heavy metal ring in its teeth. Just as he reached for it he heard a soft voice behind him.

“Leander.” He turned quickly. He saw Phaedra Shan standing a few feet behind him. He noticed her five foot seven frame emerged from the shadows like a phantom. Her brown hair hung wild to her shoulders. He noticed blood splatters on her cafe au lait skin and her white dress. Her brown eyes looked glassy and crazed. “What happened,” he fully turned to her. He sniffed the air. The blood scent seemed familiar to him.

“Nothing,” she shrugged her shoulders. “I was hunting.”

“Either nothing happened or you were hunting. Pick a lie.”

“Fine,” her face went grim. “Your mother needs help in Amina’s garden.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” he sighed. He felt something wasn’t right. “She doesn’t go into the garden at night unless it for a family gathering.”

“Yes,” she shifted uncomfortably. “She asked me to keep a lookout for you.”

“I find that hard to believe. Since my mother barely parts her lips to speak to you,” he snarled. “I’m just the messenger. Follow me, please.” He turned to the door. He stopped. His instincts kicked him hard in the gut. The soft spring wind had a force to it as if telling him to go inside. Don’t follow her. He spun back and Phaedra was gone. He stepped down the stairs. Another shove of spring wind moved him back. His curiosity tugged at him more forcefully than the wind pushed against him. He hesitated for a moment. He walked to the far left. The spring breezes danced occasionally through the pines and wisteria vines while the azaleas bushes swayed at the trunk of the trees. His search took him to a cobblestone stone path. It lead him deep into the forest. The breeze swirled and embellished the path with white and pink petals. He looked up at the wisteria vines. They formed over him like a natural ceiling. The purple flowers bloomed on them and hung like amethyst chandeliers.

He walked further down the cobblestones. He approached a clearing. As he traveled further, he noticed Phaedra stood on the right side of an empty fire pit. It sat darkened by previous blazes.

“What do you want,” he shoved his hands in his jean pockets.

“A moment with you,” she took a step toward him.

“Unfortunately, I can’t seem to stop that,” he looked away disgusted

“I know you went to see Mtima today,” she grinned. “I wonder how she would feel knowing your lips touched mine.”

“She would never believe you.”

“You sure,” she took a step toward him.

“Why would she,” he suppressed a feeling of repulsion.

“Mtima is not the woman for you. She’s not strong enough to be part of this family.”

“Keep her name out of your mouth. Mtima has been a part of this family since she was five. We raised her and she’ll be better for our family then you’ll ever be,” he growled.

“We’ll see,” she took another step toward him. He took a step back. “I can change your mind about her.”

“You’ve already slithered your way into our family. There’s no way you’re going to get another chance to ruin us,” he clenched his teeth. “I’m not trying to ruin anything,” her voice registered a childlike innocence. “Your father doesn’t think that.”

“I’m not my father,” he grumbled. “. What my father did was a mistake.”

“Are you saying your brother was a mistake,” she paused.

“The only mistake is that you’re my brother’s mother and my father was fool enough to fall for your treachery.”

“Don’t be so cold, Leander,” she strolled toward him like a cat on the prowl. “Let me show you how much I need your love. How much you need mine.”

Before he could move away she pounced on him. He fought her while trying to ignore her declarations of love.

“Love me, Leander. We can rule the De Le Coeur pride together,” she said amongst the struggle. “We can have a pride of our own.”

“Stop,” he fought. “I can’t control what I feel for you,” She placed her hands on his heart. “Tell me you feel it too. You desire me as much as I desire you.”

As much as his mother and father taught him to respect women he didn't see Phaedra as such. Especially with her past treacherous actions. He shoved her harder than he should have. His apologetic feelings came and went as she forced herself on him again. He shoved her once more. He witnessed her shocked expression as she tripped over her own feet. She fell to the ground hard. He watched her as she limped her way to a standing position. He straightened his clothes and waited for a moment. Their heavy breaths filled the space between them.

“I will tell my father of this,” he spoke. “Maybe, he’ll finally be done with you.”

An ear splitting scream pierced the stillness of the night. He looked toward the manor. Phaedra’s sinister giggling made him return his attention back to her.

“I don’t think your mother is going to make it to the garden.”

“You told me-,” it finally dawned on Leander. He finally focused. He sniffed the air. He tuned his hearing. “Mother.”

Another scream assaulted his sensitive ears. He ran with all his speed from the garden. He finally made it back to the chateau. He banged and knocked on the front door. No one answered. He darted to the right side door. Luckily it wasn’t locked yet. He pushed it open. He scanned the room and realized he ran into the kitchen. He sensed someone near, but he was more concerned about his mother. He noticed the hallway ahead. Before he could step foot towards it, a force yanked him up by the collar. He was thrown against the right kitchen wall. He fell hard to the floor. He tried to regain himself. He was snatched up again.

“Your mother,” a familiar voice roared angrily. “You harm her and think you can walk back in my home as if nothing happened.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he roared back. He focused and saw his father staring vengefully at him. “I would never lay a hand on my mother.” Leander had no time to explain. His six foot four build compared not to the six foot five build of his father. Not because of his height, but his strength. The light from the hall gleamed on his father’s bald head. The rage in his eyes glared like balls of golden iridescent fire. He tried to run, but his father snatched him up. He pummeled him until Leander fell to his knees. Any attempts to block his father’s blows deemed useless. His father grabbed him by the back of his neck. He dragged him from the kitchen to his study.

“You spilled her blood. Now, I’ll spill yours.”

He heard and felt the cracking of his ribs as his father gave him a blow to the left side. His insides jostled within his body. He felt his essence slowly spilling out from any lacerations his father caused. Suddenly it all stopped. He laid on the floor. His energy gone from futile fighting. He moaned in pain as someone lifted him up. He used what strength he had left to stumble with whoever helped him. He moved his lips. His words choked and gargled in his throat.

“I don’t know what happened,” his uncle’s voice found his ears. “But, we need to get you away from here.”

He thought he heard his aunt. He wasn’t sure. He passed out from the pain.

****

Leander felt the coolness of a soft breeze caress him out of his torturous slumber. The softness of the sheets and comfortable bed soothed his aches. He tried to move his hand to his chest, but the pain wouldn’t allow him. He groaned annoyed at the fact he couldn’t move like he wanted to. He sensed someone near him. He opened his eyes. He noticed the room was bare except for some furniture and the bed he laid in.

“Leander.”

“Uncle,” he recognized the voice. He saw a tall shadow looming over him. He blinked a few times to focus. He looked to the left and right. He realized he rested in a safe place. He noticed the controlled rage and gloom in his uncle’s eyes. He saw the flicker of an iridescent glow as he leaned closer.

“You’re at my home,” he sat down on the edge of the bed. His locs draped loose. They outlined his face like a dark hood.

“Your father evidently wasn’t as mad as he let on. He would’ve killed you if he were.”

“Why did he attack me,” he tried to sit up. His body reminded him of his agony.

“Rest, nephew,” he placed his hand on his shoulder. Leander heard a menacing growl rumble in his uncle’s throat. He didn’t know if he should be afraid or cautious.

“She got into your father’s head. From what your father told me she said you raped her. Phaedra said you attacked your mother because she didn’t approve your relationship.”

“That’s a lie,” he grumbled angrily. “All of it. I never violated Phaedra. We never had a relationship.”

“I know. I sense no trace of falsities in you.”


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