Ancient (#5 Destroyers Series)

By: Holly Hook

Book 5 of the Destroyers Series

Chapter One

Things went downhill even before Janelle and her friends crossed the border.

Janelle had spent the past few days making sure nobody in her party had an excuse to turn back or otherwise delay. Passports? Check. Bottled water? Plenty of that, as she wasn't sure if the rumor about Mexico's supply had any truth to it. Changes of clothes? Lots of those. Working air conditioner? In the desert, that was vital. But things always had a tendency to go wrong.

That happened a lot when you led a race of human hurricanes.

But so far, quiet.

Janelle spent a lot of time pacing up and down the camper that had been her home on wheels for the past few weeks. Cacti, sand, and the occasional coyote flew past as her trusted driver, Mel, took it along the highway. A couple of pickup trucks zoomed past them on the opposite side of the road. Like they were fleeing, almost, from what she was headed to. It wasn't every day you were going to wake up an ancient Mayan storm god who might or might not decide to help.

Each crack in the dry ground looked deep and menacing. The mirages on the road ahead moved like amorphous monsters, waiting for the next car to fall into their traps. Every cactus promised a rattlesnake lurking behind it. The desert looked like such a forbidding place. But if it weren't for the hot desert sun and the cloudless Arizona skies, she and the others would all have something much worse to worry about.

"There's no possible way she can be around. Not in this."

Gary appeared at her side, so close that a single strand of his black hair tickled the side of her cheek. She loved his hair. Janelle hoped that he never cut it. Some things had to stay the same, and that was one of the few things any of them could control.

She kissed him on the lips, brushing her nose against his and not caring if anyone else saw. As Tempest High Leader, no privacy was her way of life. Things probably wouldn't be much different even if she wasn't. There was no point in complaining about the unfair hand life had dealt them. Not anymore, at least until they figured out how to get the insane storm goddess to stop pursuing them across the world.

Gary wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close. His kiss brushed the side of her temple, parting her hair with a tickle. "I'm glad you changed your mind. I don’t care how scary this Huracan god turns out to be. If he can take care of Andrina, well…"

…I won’t have to become a goddess and fight her, Janelle thought for him.

Heavy silence lingered between them as the highway whizzed underneath. It was something none of them wanted to talk about, and they hadn't since leaving Flint a few days ago. She was hoping. Praying. This was their last chance…her last chance. Life had already taken a normal teenage life away from her. If it took Gary, her father, and her friends, too--

The thought gave her nightmares every night.

The camper rolled over a bump in the road. How much longer did they have before they reached the border? Mel had a map lying on the dashboard, but she couldn't tell how close they were. There weren’t too many exits to go by out here, and the mile markers weren’t any help, their numbers meaningless.

Her driver seemed to read her mind. He faced her. The wrinkles around his eyes seemed as deep as the cracks on the desert floor. "I believe we're about fifty miles out, Ma'am. I don’t normally cross the border this way. Driving cross-country isn't my forte, so they say."

"Agreed. Flying would have been better. A lot better." Janelle couldn't say the rest, that the air was Andrina's realm now. Best to stay on the ground, but it felt like a waste of Mel's pilot skills to make him drive all the time. But they hadn't had any other choices. Driving was the fastest way they could have left. Janelle couldn't have her father come along for this. She just couldn't. A feeling deep down in her gut told her that this was her job. Hers and that of her friends. Her dad would try to follow them after finding them gone from the Flint campsite. He'd try to stop her from doing the one thing that could save her from going down the path of her biological mom since he had the best intentions.

That’s what good parents did, and she'd left him worried like she had so many times before. He deserved better.

She was lucky to have one good parent, unlike most of her friends.

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