Natalie Le Roux
Book One: Lilly’s King
For as long as humans have walked the Earth, we have looked up at the stars and wondered if we are alone.
Throughout human memory, only imagination and conspiracy theory let us travel to distant worlds and meet beings of beauty, wonder and terror.
I was no different. I held the same questions in my mind. Until I learned the truth.
We are more than just a blue and green rock dancing around a small yellow star in the sky.
We are not alone.
We are not unique.
And we are more fragile than we ever expected.
This is only the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the human race.
And the first chapter in the story of how I found my one and only.
The sun around which I orbit.
Lilly stayed as still as possible underneath the massive truck parked on the side of the field. She tried to keep her breathing as quiet as possible, not wanting to make even the slightest sound.
A small group of the ugly ass aliens that had attacked Earth three weeks ago was moving in her direction. The cross between a lizard and a spider was something right out of a nightmare.
But, as Lilly learned over the last few weeks, they had one tiny disadvantage. They were completely blind. As long as she didn’t make a sound, they should move right past her.
At least, she hoped they would. If she had any hope of getting back to her sisters, she needed to escape this field and get back to the small town of Sikes, Louisiana.
It was only a pit stop for them, having traveled from Monroe over the weeks.
Her breath caught in her chest when the scraping sound of the claws drew closer.
Tilting her head to the side, Lilly held her breath as she watched the swarm move past her, heading in the direction she had just come from.
She had no idea why there were so many of them out here. From what she saw of the alien monsters, they liked to eat anything that moved or had a pulse.
There wasn’t much of that out in the sticks of Louisiana, so the massive numbers of the creatures confused her.
Hundreds of legs tore up the asphalt as they moved past the truck, making the heavy piece of machinery shake and groan with the force of their almost impenetrable bodies hitting it as they passed.
Lilly closed her eyes, taking in slow, silent breaths, and thought about her sisters waiting in the old farm house they had found the night before.
Her heart wrenched at the memory of how sick Violet was.
Her loud, wheezing coughs almost got them killed a few days ago, but thanks to Tulip’s fast thinking, they had managed to get out of the small gas station alive.
The only one of the four sisters that wasn’t doing too well with all this end-of-the-world stuff was Rose.
Not that any of them were reveling in it, but the spoiled young woman was used to a more luxurious lifestyle.
Lilly grinned at the memory of her sister having to relieve herself in the bushes for the first time.
The string of creative curses that came out of her perfectly painted red lips was enough to make any sailor proud.
Once the horde had passed, Lilly lay for a few moments longer, the backpack she had used to collect the medicine gripped tightly in her hand.
Her mind fought to think about all the medication she had found in the small pharmacy on the edge of town.
As a medical student, she should know what all of it was, but her field didn’t involve pharmaceuticals. She was a surgical intern with only one year of residency left.
Then the planet went to shit, and she and her sisters went on the run.
The one thing she would be eternally grateful for was that she had gone home to visit their father for his seventieth birthday.
All the girls had gone home to spend the weekend with their father. That was when the first ball of black terror fell from the sky.
No one could have expected the meteors to erupt into the horrid creatures that now devoured everything in their path.
With one last glance around her, Lilly moved as quietly as she could over the hard, damp ground.
She shuffled out from under the truck, scanning the area for the smallest of movements, before she got to her feet.
In the distance, she could see the dark swarm of the creatures rushing back to the town she had just picked clean of any supplies she could find.
With a silent rage of defiance, Lilly thrust up her middle finger at the departing mass, holding it up for a few seconds, then dropped her hand to her side.
With a long breath to calm her nerves, Lilly spun around and moved fast toward the farmhouse only a mile away.
She needed to get to Violet and the others. Her baby sister needed the medication desperately, and none of them had eaten in over two days.
With all the death happening around them, Lilly expected to find an abundance of food in every house.
But, as fate or some other sick force would have it, the creatures either ate anything that was not in a can or simply covered it in the disgusting slime that dripped from their mouths.
As she ran up to the house, eyes scanning the open fields around her, Lilly couldn’t help the smile that spread on her face. She had made it.
She pushed open the door, not saying a word as she moved to the back room. Rose met her at the door to what once was a lovely country living room.
“Did you find anything?” Rose whispered, her eyes hopeful.
Lilly nodded with a wide smile, slipping the bag off her back.
Tulip came up to her, giving her a tight hug, and Lilly didn’t miss the glint of tears in her younger sister’s eyes.
“What took you so long?” Tulip asked in a quiet voice, her small, stick-thin frame shivering.
“I had to wait for a horde of those things to pass. I don’t know what’s got them all riled up, but they were in a hell of a hurry to get somewhere.”
Rose’s eyes narrowed, and Lilly could already see the words forming in her sister by gazing into her eyes. She stopped her before she could speak.
“I had no choice, Rose. I’m fine. I found meds for Violet and food for all of us.”
That stopped the reprimand she could see building in her sister. With a wink, Lilly leaned down and pulled the four cans of beef stew she had found, as well as a small bag of rice out of her bag.
It was enough to feed them for at least three days if they were careful with the portions. She pulled out the three boxes of medication and stood.
“I need to get these to Violet. Rose, you and Tulip prepare dinner. We will stay here one more night, but we need to move. Those things were heading somewhere and there were a lot of them.
“I don’t like it. There could be more, and I really don’t want to hang around here to find out.”
Rose nodded, taking the cans from Lilly, and motioned to Tulip to go with her.
Lilly entered the room, where Violet lay on a sofa. She was so pale, her skin a sickly shade of gray, and the thin layer of sweat on her skin worried Lilly.
She knelt by the baby of the siblings and placed a hand on her forehead. She was burning. A rush of panic-filled Lilly at the thought that even as a doctor, she could not help her little sister.
The problem was, Violet had picked an apple from a tree on the way out of Monroe. An apple that had the slime of the creatures all over it.
It had dried in the mid-August Louisiana sun, but that didn’t stop her from getting violently sick and weak.
Tears burned her eyes at the realization that she had no idea what she was dealing with here. For all she knew, none of the medication she found could help the sweet, loving sixteen-year-old.
Shaking off the fear of losing another member of her family, Lilly pulled out the medication and scanned the labels. A box of antibiotics, a box of pain medication, and a box of birth control. Great.
In her haste to get out of the pharmacy, she didn’t take the time to read the labels.
She had shoved the two boxes into her bag, almost leaving the pharmacy, until she ducked down to hide from a creature and spotted the antibiotics underneath the shelf.
Violet’s eyes fluttered open, her deep blue eyes looking blindly up at the ceiling. All the sisters had the same genetics. They were all dark-haired, with striking blue eyes.
Something their father had been extremely proud of all their lives.
“Hey,” Lilly whispered, stroking Violet’s cheek, “I have some meds for you. Can you sit up?”
Violet gave her a weak nod, but choked and began coughing as soon as she tried to move. Panic flashed in Lilly at the loud sound filling the silent house.
Violet turned her face into the pillow, muffling the sound as best she could as her body racked from the coughing.
After a few minutes, Violet eased back, her eyes closing again, and Lilly blinked back tears at the sight of blood on the pillow next to Violet’s head.
“Oh God, no,” Lilly mumbled to herself, stroking her little sister’s hair back from her face.
“I will not let you die, Vi. I swear, I will do whatever it takes, but you are not going to die. You hear me?”
The next morning, Lilly woke first. She checked on her sisters, spending a few extra minutes with Violet to make sure she was comfortable and resting. She wanted more than anything to stay here, safe, with them. But she knew that wasn’t an option.
Violet would die if she didn’t find the right medication soon. She had to go out, before anybody else woke up and tried to stop her.
Without looking back and tears rolling down her face, she left the farmhouse they called home and made her way toward the street.
Her walk into town was uneventful. The creatures were nowhere to be seen in the silent sunshine of the morning.
Determined to save Violet’s life, Lilly followed the signs to the local clinic, keeping her eyes open for the slightest movement or any sound around her.
The clinic, if one could call it that, was a small, one-story, red brick building. The only thing identifying it was the sign posted on the door.
Lilly entered the reception area, pausing to take in the blood dried on the walls, floor, and chairs.
Bile rose in her throat at the sight of insides still laying in the corner, an unfinished meal for the creatures, and the remains of what once was a living person.
She had noticed over the last few weeks that although the creatures ate just about every living thing, they seemed to stay away from the liver.
It was a common sight to see the organ laying around the streets, homes, and buildings they moved through.
Pushing back the thoughts of what it must be like to be eaten alive like that, Lilly followed the small sign on the wall next to the reception desk that pointed to the hall.
Her heart raced at the dim passage leading to the pharmacy, but sheer determination made her place one silent foot in front of the other.
When she reached the door marked as the pharmacy, tears burned her eyes and her heart felt like it would crumble into tiny pieces at the sight of the bare room.
Not one box or vial of medication was left on the shelves.
More despair filled her body as her lungs seized on a whimper and her body slumped with defeat, exhaustion, and malnutrition.
She turned away from the empty room, wiping at her face as tears rolled down her cheeks.
She had to pull herself together, but the pain in knowing she had failed her baby sister was so deep, a sob escaped her lips, echoing in the empty clinic.
Slapping a hand over her mouth, Lilly listened to the sounds around her as her heart raced.
Stupid mistake! She chastised herself in her mind, allowing the adrenaline to push her forward toward the doors she had just come in through.
Once back out on the street, she squinted her eyes at the blinding summer sun. She walked along the wall of the clinic, her mind reeling at the thought that there was no hope left for Violet.
She would die soon if she didn’t figure out a way to help her.
Pausing to catch her breath and to calm her rising grief, Lilly pressed her back against the wall of the clinic and lowered her eyes to the ground.
Another quiet sob escaped her lips. “Oh, Vi, I’m so sorry,” she whispered to the empty street.
With one last deep breath, Lilly pushed off the wall and raised her eyes.
Her body went cold and her mind burst with panic at the sight of a massive man standing a mere ten feet away from her.
His huge, powerful body radiated danger, and the two long, deadly blades in his hands made her mouth dry and her knees wobble.
There was something very different about him. Not just his massive body, towering over her by at least a foot, but his eyes were a deep, glowing green color.
His ears pointed at the tips, twitching as he stared at her. His mouth was turned up in a snarl, showing off the sharp, long fangs in his mouth.
His slightly flatter nose held faint ridges on it that flared as he took in a breath.
Lilly backed into the wall again, her body filled with ice-cold terror at the sight of the obviously not human male before her.
As they stared at each other for what felt like minutes, Lilly had the fleeting thought that today would be the day she died.
That same twisted fate that had led her to this point seemed to think that sending yet another alien race to Earth would be funny.
She did not see the humor in it at all. Especially not as she stared into the furious green eyes of the man before her.
In the blink of an eye, the man raised the knives at his sides and charged toward her, moving so fast that Lilly could only squeeze her eyes shut and throw up a pleading hand in front of her face.
A sound right beside her ear that sounded like metal hitting brick filled her ears, and Lilly snapped her eyes open to find the huge man standing right in front of her.
His powerful, muscular arms caged her in, and his equally muscular body was only inches away from hers. Their eyes locked again, his burning green gaze looking right into her soul.
And suddenly she felt the last feeling she would ever have expected to experience when an alien creature tried to kill her.
The same feeling she felt when that stoner boy, Eli, first met her eyes by the lockers, way back in high school.
She felt turned on.
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