Zach and Piper always knew their little brother, Elijah, had supernatural gifts. But now others are starting to notice—and not all of them are human. On the Run After six-year-old Elijah performs a miracle—on national television—he and his two older siblings begin a race across the country to find their missing parents and escape the mysterious Shadow Man. The Enemy Closes In Zach becomes enchanted by a beautiful runaway who dabbles in the supernatural. When he becomes drawn into her world of darkness, he puts both himself and his family in danger. Trapped by Shadows When Elijah is taken by Shadow Man, Zach and Piper risk everything to get him back. But the evil forces they are up against are more powerful than they ever imagined. The Chamber of Lies Zach, Piper, and Elijah must make the ultimate decision when Shadow Man offers them greatness and power if they will join him and his forces of darkness.
Zach Dawkins headed for the schools.
Schools—as in the high school, middle school, and elementary school—were all lined up side by side on the same street. He called it “Death Row.”
Zach was sixteen, with dark hair that stuck out in so many directions it looked like it got cut by a lawn mower gone berserk. It’s not that Zach was sloppy, he just had better things to do than worry about his looks, especially when he was late for school ... which was just about every day.
Zach wasn’t exactly the responsible type.
Unfortunately, Piper, his thirteen-year-old sister, was.
It seemed her job was to remember everything Zach (and the rest of her family) forgot. Like her brother, she was good-looking (though you couldn’t convince her of that). She had beautiful chocolate brown eyes, but you had to work hard to find them beneath all that hair she hid under.
Piper was a bit on the self-conscious side.
At the moment, she was trying to keep up with Zach, while also shouting back to her little brother. “Elijah, come on. Hurry up!”
As usual, six-year-old Elijah dragged behind them. Nothing new there. The guy was always lost in his own world, and he hardly, if ever, talked. Piper loved him fiercely, and she always looked out for him.
But there was no getting around it—the kid was weird.
“Come on,” she called. “We’re going to be late!”
Elijah nodded, then immediately slowed to watch a butterfly.
Piper blew the hair out of her eyes and stopped with her hands on her hips. “Elijah ...” She was about to traipse back and get him, when she heard Zach use that voice he reserved only for making her life miserable. “Well, well, lookie here.”
With a certain dread she turned to her older brother ... and cringed.
Cody Martin, the all-school heartthrob, walked on the other side of the street. He was tall with deep blue eyes and a smile that made it hard for Piper to breathe. Of course he didn’t know her from Adam ... or Eve ... but that didn’t stop her from pulling up her sweatshirt hood or ducking further under her hair whenever he was around.
Unfortunately, she had stupidly asked her brother about him when the two had played baseball together. And that was all the ammunition Zach needed.
“Look who’s across the street,” he teased.
“Who?” Piper asked, trying to sound bored. “Oh, you mean Cody. What do I care?”
“Yeah, right,” Zach snorted. “So you don’t mind if I call him over?”
Suddenly her heart was in her throat. “Zach!”
With a sly grin, he shouted, “Yo, Cody. What’s up?”
Cody turned and spotted them. “Hey, Zach.” Then, nodding to Piper, he added, “How’s it going, Patty?”
“Piper,” Zach corrected.
She turned away, whispering between her teeth. “Zach!”
“What?” Cody asked him.
“My sister’s name. It’s Piper. Actually, it’s Naomi Sue, but if you don’t want her to beat the tar out of you, I’d stick with Piper.”
“Gottcha,” Cody grinned.
Zach turned to her and whispered, “So do you want me to call him over?”
“Please, no!” she begged.
“Then you admit you’ve got a crush on him?”
“No, I just—”
He turned back to Cody and yelled. “So, Cody—”
“All right,” Piper whispered, “All right, I admit it!”
Zach grinned. “Nothing. Just wondering if you were going to play ball this spring.”
“Cool.” Then, spotting a geeky, overweight friend, Cody sped up to join him. “Take care,” he turned to say.
“Right,” Zach called.
“You too ..., Piper.”
Piper’s head snapped up to him. The only thing more startling than hearing him speak her name was the grin he flashed her before moving on.
He had grinned ... at ... her.
Suddenly, Piper’s hood was up, her hair was down, and her knees were just a little wobbly.
It wasn’t until she heard Zach snicker that she came to earth and turned on him. “Is it your goal to be the jerkiest brother on the face of the planet?” she demanded.
Zach laughed. “It’s not a goal. It’s a duty.”
She blew the hair out of her eyes. Looking back to their little brother, she called, “Elijah, please hurry!”
Elijah came to attention and ran toward them. That’s when Piper noticed the KWIT-TV news van heading up the street.
So did Zach, which explained why he immediately waved and shouted. “Hey, TV news guys! Over here. Check me out. Your next TV star is right here!”
Piper gave another sigh. What was God thinking when he made older brothers?
Suddenly, she noticed a small cocker spaniel puppy running into the street in front of them. It was followed by a little girl, probably in kindergarten.
Neither of them saw the car coming from the opposite direction.
“Watch it!” Piper shouted.
The little girl looked up, but it was too late.
The driver hit the brakes, tires screeching. The car’s right front wheel ran over the dog with a sickening K-THUMP while the front bumper hit the little girl. It knocked her hard to the ground, causing the back of her head to slam onto the concrete.
Neither the girl nor the dog moved.
The driver opened the car door, his mouth hanging open in shock and horror. The crossing guard, who had seen the whole thing, ran toward them. The news van jerked to a stop as the woman reporter leaped out of the still-rolling vehicle.
“Get the camera rolling!” she called over her shoulder.
“I’m on it!” the cameraman shouted just behind her.
Students quickly gathered, pressing in around the car and little girl. By the time Zach and Piper arrived, the crossing guard was already shouting, “Stand back! Give her air! Everybody, stand back!”
Piper glanced around for her little brother, but he was nowhere to be found.
“Elijah?” she called. “Elijah?”
She turned to Zach but he was too busy trying to get a look at the girl to pay attention.
The news crew pushed past them for a closer shot.
“Hey, check it out,” the reporter pointed. But she wasn’t pointing at the little girl. She had noticed something across the crowd and on the other side of the street.
Piper followed her gaze to see ... Elijah.
He sat on the curb holding the dead puppy. But instead of crying, his lips quietly moved—almost like he was whispering to it. And then, to Piper’s dismay, the puppy began to move. A little at first, but it soon began wiggling, squirming, and even lifting up its head to lick Elijah’s face.
“Did you get that?” The reporter cried.
“I’ve got it!” the cameraman shouted.
“It’s like he healed it or something!” she exclaimed.
With a grin, Elijah set the dog down. It began jumping and running around like it had never been hurt.
“Get in closer,” the reporter ordered. “I’m going to talk to him.”
Only then did Piper realize what she had to do. “Elijah!” She brushed past the reporter and raced for her little brother. “Elijah, come on!”
The little boy looked up, grinning even bigger.
“Excuse me?” the reporter called from behind her. “May I ask you a few questions?”
Piper ignored her. “Come on little guy,” she said as she arrived. She put her hand on his shoulder, looking for a way to get out of there. “Mom and Dad won’t like this. Not one bit.”
“Excuse me!” the reporter shouted.
Spotting the school, Piper figured it was better than nothing, and started toward it. “Let’s go.”
They walked faster.
They started to run, neither turning back.
* * * * *
Judy Dawkins was struggling with the vacuum cleaner when her husband burst through the front door.
She looked up, startled. Seeing the concern on his face, she asked, “What’s wrong?”
He tried to smile, but something was up.
“Mike, what is it?”
He walked over to the TV remote. Without a word, he snapped it on and found the news. Finally, he spoke. “They’ve been playing this all morning.”
A white-haired anchorman addressed the camera: “Carly Tailor, our Newsbeat reporter is still on the scene. Carly?”
A young woman appeared on the screen. She stood perfectly poised in front of the news van. “Thank you, Jonathan. As we’ve been saying, something very strange happened over on Walnut Boulevard this morning. Let’s roll the footage, please.”
The scene cut to an accident sight where medics loaded a little girl into an ambulance.
The reporter continued. “At approximately 8:00 this morning, LeAnne Howard ran into the street after her dog and was struck by an oncoming car. From there she was taken to St. Jerome’s Hospital where her condition is reported as critical. There is speculation that she will shortly be transported to the Children’s Surgical Unit at Eastside Memorial. But there is another side to this story that we found most interesting....”
The scene cut to a cocker spaniel lying in front of a car.
“This footage was taken immediately after the accident. As you can see, the dog looks ... well, it looks dead ... or, at least severely injured.”
Again the picture changed. This time a little boy sat on the curb holding the dog and whispering to it.
“Oh no,” Mom brought her hand to her mouth. “It’s Elijah!”
The reporter continued. “But moments later, as people were trying to help the girl, this small boy picked up her dog and ... you’ll have to see for yourself. This is simply unbelievable.”
Tears filled Mom’s eyes as she watched the dog suddenly sit up in Elijah’s lap and then lick his face.
“That’s amazing,” the anchorman said. “Let’s see it again.”
While the scene replayed, the reporter continued. “We tried to interview the boy, but a girl, the girl you see here, rushed him away.”
Mom stared at the screen as Piper appeared and hurried Elijah away from the camera and toward the school.
The report continued, but Mom no longer heard. Tears blurred her eyes as her husband wrapped his arm around her.
“Don’t cry, Sweetheart,” he said. “We knew this day would happen, didn’t we?”
She tried to answer, but her throat was too tight with emotion.
Dad repeated the words more softy. “Sooner or later we knew it would happen.”
* * * * *
Monica Specter and her two male assistants sat in the dingy, cockroach-infested hotel, staring at the same newscast.
With a sinister grin, she switched off the television. “All right team, the objective’s been sighted.” She rose and started for the adjacent room. “Pack up. We’re leaving in fifteen minutes.”
Bruno answered. He was a hulk of a man whose neck was as thick as most people’s thighs and whose upturned nose looked like he’d run into a brick wall as a child (several times). “Uh ... okay. Where are we goin’?”
Monica stopped, flipped aside her bright red hair, and stared at him in disbelief. “Westwood, you dolt. You saw the news. The boy we’re tracking is in Westwood.”
Bruno nodded. “Uh ... right.”
She looked at him another moment. Then, shaking her head, she disappeared into the other room.
Silas, their skinny partner with a long pointed nose, shut down his laptop. “You shouldn’t ask stupid questions like that,” he said to Bruno.
Bruno nodded then stopped. “But how do I know they’re stupid if I don’t ask ’em?”
Silas sighed. “Because you’re going to try something brand new.”
“You’ll try thinking before you speak.”
Bruno frowned, not completely sure he understood the concept. Then summoning up all his brain cells, he answered, “Huh?”
Silas answered. “We’ve been looking for this kid eight months now—checking newspaper articles, surfing the net—and then, out of the blue, he suddenly winds up on TV?”
Bruno grinned. “Yeah, some coincidence, huh?”
“Yeah, right. That was no coincidence.”
“You think Shadow Man had something to do with it?”
Silas shrugged. He never liked talking about the head of their organization. To be honest, the man gave him the willies.
“Come on,” he said, changing the subject. “Let’s get packed and grab the kid.”