The Lost Heir
Allison Whitmore (with Erin Virginia & Grace Arden)
Published by: Booktrope Publishing
Publication date: December 8th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Isabella Foxworthy was just another girl…until she learned she was an empath, able to read the energy of others. A secret world known as the Violet City lies beneath her family’s hotel in Los Angeles. Through this discovery, Isabella is catapulted into a whirlwind of magic, adventure, and danger. The Violet City holds the key to protecting her stability; her family hotel, her friends, and her very sanity.
With morphlings, empaths, and fair folk also comes a powerful entity that twists her mind into knots, threatening everything she loves. Now, Isabella and her new friends—a guitar-playing jock, his gifted but neurotic brother, and a set of over-indulged twins—have until her 16th birthday to save her world with the help of someone who’s been lost for a very long time…the lost Foxworthy heir. But will they find him in time? And will he be a friend or foe?
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“Get off me!” The voice filled Isabella’s ear a block away from the hotel trolley stop. Her gut tore in two with fear. ”Give that back.”
Isabella slowed down to see Cleo marching back toward the same two bullies she’d rescued Pythian from the other day, one of whom had Xander by the shirt collar as the other was rummaging through Xander’s backpack. Cleo’s shoes lay in a clump.
“There are so many goodies in here. Gum drops. Chocolate snatches. Debbie cakes. And my personal favorite—this camcorder. Oh, wait… no. There’s a little digital camera, too. Looks like Christmas came early for us. Isn’t that right, Sloane?”
“Put my brother down, or you’ll be sorry,” Cleo shouted.
As requested, the boy shoved Xander, sending him tumbling into a nearby thorn bush. “Ahhrrk!” Cleo went straight to his side.
It looked like the kid with Xander’s backpack might consider going for Cleo’s purse, but before that could happen, the other boy, Sloane, said, “Dude, let’s get outta here.” Seth, who was bigger and taller than both of them, and Isabella, whose nostrils flared like a lion, hustled after them.
“I know those guys,” Isabella told Seth.
“Go back and stay with Cleo,” he said.
“Watch me, Superman.”
They looped around the corner as the bullies flew up the service road that led to the back of the hotel. Before they could get too far, four figures in black appeared; from where, Isabella could not tell. Two grabbed the boys. Another took Xander’s backpack. Seth and Isabella both stopped. Cold licked Isabella’s heart. Not an eerie cold, but like a soothing glass of cold lemonade on a scorching day in July.
“What do we do?” Isabella whispered.
“I would tell you to go back, but you’d just make too much noise arguing with me, so I say just shut up.”
“If you tell me to shut up one more time…”
The two figures holding the boys seemed to melt into the darkness of the trees.
“Where the hell did they go?” Seth asked, protectively pushing Isabella behind him.
She did not fight it. She was starting to become frightened, less of the situation and more of herself. Things had been off more than usual today. For the first time since her parents’ death, she’d felt completely protected, and she wasn’t sure it was all due to the necklace she had been wearing. It was so bizarre.
She was attuned to Cleo and Xander, who were usually never around at the holidays because, like her friend Lana, their parents traveled at that time. She’d felt everything from them: Xander’s exhaustion; Cleo’s boredom and overprotectiveness of her brother. The Logan brothers, however, were different. One minute, she felt Micah’s agitation with Xander, but the next, it would grow cold. And Seth—that boy, she couldn’t get a handle on at all. The only thing she got a sense of was fierce protection, particularly for Micah, but for her as well. She really did not know why.
That was never part of it; she had never felt the direction of a person’s emotions until now. She’d never felt so hot and cold about it. The five of them, connected by a string. It made no sense. Why would she be connected to these random kids?
The two figures in black who had stayed behind whispered to each other. Seth stepped to the side, taking Isabella with him. ”We should go back.”
But he was too late. The men had spotted them and were heading their way. Neither Seth nor Isabella dared to move. In an instant, the tallest of the figures, a young man of about twenty, stood before them. His skin was a beautiful caramel color, his eyes a startling green, and his hair—Isabella saw, as he pushed the hood off his head, he had a nest of shiny curls. He wore a goatee, and his eyes drooped with intellect.
“Declan Timothy. This is Max.” He thumbed at the guy behind him. “Just wanted to give this back to the kid.”
He pushed the backpack into Isabella’s arms. Her vocal cords decided to twist into a knot, so she was unable to say thank you.
“And to tell you to be careful. Tonight is going to change things for you.”
That did it. No more evil cats holding her tongue hostage. “What the heck does that mean?”
“You’ll see. If you need us, ask Theophilus where to find us.”
“Wait a minute,” Seth said, pinning Declan with a heated gaze. “Who are you guys?”
“The Midnight Brotherhood. Be careful, Isabella. And you—make sure she listens.”
“Sure,” Seth replied.
Then they, too, faded into the night.
Seth and Isabella looked at each other, not saying a word. For some reason, words did not seem appropriate at that moment.
When they returned to their friends, Seth spoke quietly as Isabella returned Xander’s backpack to him. “Let’s go home.”
The trolley was nowhere in sight, which was more evidence to Isabella that something was not right. From the bottom of the hill, the hotel was as dim and desolate as it had appeared from the center of the village. With heavy legs, they began up the hill. They climbed the front steps and walked into the lobby. Candlelight dotted the room. Elyse was the first person to approach them; her waitress apron was undone, her hair out of place.
“Thank God you’re all right.”
“What’s going on?” Isabella asked.
“I…” Elyse burst into tears.
“Elyse, tell us now! What happened?”
Elyse wiped her face. “I don’t really know. Everything blacked out for a while. It went cold, and I got really tired. It almost felt like I fell asleep for a while, but then when I woke up, I was standing in the same place I had been before. Right inside the Lily Field ballroom. And then—”
Where do you write from?
I live in Los Angeles. I write in my bedroom at a small desk.
What are some of your favorite stories?
Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, and many others.
Briefly, what led up to this book?
I spent many years writing and dreaming of penning a novel. I even played my hand at fan fiction back in the early 2000s. I worked as an English teacher for a while before finally coming back to writing, and attempting to write full-time. The Lost Heir came about after talking to two of my friends about a story idea I had after college.
What do you hope people take away from reading The Lost Heir?
A personal connection with characters and the world that they find within its pages.
THE NEXT MORNING, Isabella woke but stayed beneath her blankets, fighting an awful ball of worry swirling in her stomach. They weren’t doing anything. They had to do something. But she still didn’t have a plan.
A dull knocking filled her ears. It continued and continued until she finally threw off her covers. “What is that?”
“It started about half an hour ago, then it stopped when we pulled open these curtains. It was too bright, so we decided to shut them,” explained Xander. “Now it’s started again. We don’t know how you three could sleep through all that,” he said, gesturing to the bed where Cleo still slept and the sofa where Seth snoozed.
“What curtains are you talking about?” Isabella asked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“We found this,” Micah said, holding up a long pole with a hook at the end. He hoisted it into the air and hooked it through a small ring attached to what looked like a small set of red velvet curtains that hung near the ceiling. He pulled it back, and blinding sunlight poured into the room through a rectangular hole with no vent. As soon as he’d done this, the knocking ceased.
“What was that?”
“Maybe a bird or something that got spooked?” said Xander.
“Maybe,” said Isabella, surprised she was more curious than afraid about the knocking. “What are you two thinking about that hole?”
“It looks like an air duct or something. Maybe the air conditioning is trying to turn on,” said Micah.
Xander shrugged. “Makes sense, but why is there, like, a big hole and no screen-thingy to cover it?”
“It’s big enough to fit two people,” Isabella noted.
“Or one very large one,” Micah joked.
“Can you guys shut up? Some of us are still trying to sleep,” Cleo groaned.
“Now you wake up?” Xander quipped. “You're just mad you didn't have your Tiff's gear last night.”
“What the heck is Tiff’s gear?” asked Micah.
“I got it for her two Christmases ago. She had no idea what the movie was until I got it for her. Now she’s grown some tastes in the classics, thanks to me.”
“Xander. Really,” Cleo said groggily, getting up. “He doesn’t want to hear about that.”
“A designer eye mask and ear plugs for sleeping. Like Holly Golightly had in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Not my favorite. A bit too girly for me, but it’s still a classic.”
“Xander. Stop boring everyone,” Cleo said, joining them.
“It’s not boring.”
Isabella looked over at the sofa and saw Seth snoring through the quibbling. Made sense to her, since disagreement seemed to be his mother tongue. She turned back to the others. “I think I want to check it out.” Her necklace warmed against her skin at the words. It was as if it was agreeing with her. But that didn’t make sense.
“What do you mean, ‘check it out’?” asked Cleo.
Isabella gripped her necklace and closed her eyes. She could see a dark place, a city, in her mind. She heard the rumbling of something that sounded like a train. Her heart thumped, filling her with purpose. She turned and immediately gripped the edge of the bookcase and started to climb. “That’s not just a hole in the wall. It’s there for a reason.”
“I don’t think this is such a good idea,” Cleo added.
“Yeah,” Micah agreed. “Izzy, don’t.”
Isabella ignored them and kept climbing. When she got to the top shelf, she heard Seth’s groggy voice. “What are you guys looking at?” Then as if awakened by a bolt of lightning, his next words rang loud and clear, “What the heck, Isabella? Get down from there!”
When Isabella reached the top of the bookcase, she poked one leg through what she now saw was a small door that had sprung open. Her other leg dangled over the side of the bookcase. “Don’t tell me what to do, Seth!” Warmth from her necklace continued, signaling that she was on the right track.
“Okay,” Seth said. “I’ll stop after you come down.”
“Sometimes you gotta take risks, Seth.”
He got up and walked toward the bookshelf. “You gotta take the right risks, so you can get what you want,” he said slowly. Was he humoring her? She didn’t like that.
“Do you have what you want?” she shot back.
“No, but I’m gonna get it. Starting with you coming down from there.”
Isabella sighed. “Don’t you see this? There’s light coming from here?”
“A little bit, but what does that have to do with you trying to kill yourself?”
“The sun was shining full on through that hole when we woke up this morning. Izzy’s kind of blocking it right now,” said Xander.
Isabella ignored them again and looked down into what appeared to be a lit tunnel. It wasn’t light from the sun. It was an artificial light, and she couldn’t see what was below her. But the strange thing was that she did not feel any danger. Turning her body, she slipped her other leg through the little door.
Then the light turned to darkness, and her feet grew heavier and heavier. She screamed when the weight of them pulled her down suddenly. Then, she slipped from the door and plunked down into what felt like a lightly cushioned high-back chair. Her heart raced with fear as her arms were strapped to something and down she went at lightning speed through a tube of some sort.
“Press GREEN for Port One or PURPLE for Port Two.” Two lights ticked off and on above her head. Port One and Port Two. Her fingers were glued to her side. She was too afraid to touch anything. She bypassed a big white number one; then, a few seconds later, she flew by a big number two. Then, not too much longer after that, her feet stuck to the bottom of a rubbery floor. Well, they sort of bounced and then stuck.
She slowly opened her eyes. Translucent light filled the small room she found herself in.
The passage she’d come from on the opposite side of the wall had snapped shut. She turned and found a circular opening, another tube, that seemed to curve downward in a wavelike pattern. A sign above it read: Press Here to Liquidate Slide. A large, black button sat beneath it.
What? A waterslide? To her left, there was a mirror. To her right, a small closet with a robe, a towel and… a wetsuit? She went to the closet and noticed a small note taped on the inside of its open door: One Size Fits All. She picked up the wetsuit. It was dry and appeared to be relatively new.
“Okay. I want to go back now,” she said, feeling fear press down on her chest. She was alone and lost, and that was not okay. She touched her necklace to see if that would help ease her panic. It did a little. This was where she was supposed to be, wasn’t it? The necklace buzzed.
She turned and noticed her reflection in the mirror: her black hair appeared full and wavy. She’d expected her thick hair to be wild and out of control after a fall like that. And wait. When she turned her head just so, it looked like it shimmered violet. She swished it around. It was still black, but there was a different tint to it.
She heard giggling coming from where she did not know. She should have been scared, but she felt like she was finally home.
“Beatrice! She looks like Beatrice!” a tiny voice whispered, followed by another giggle.
“No. I see her mother in her, too. Beautiful.”
“She can hear us. I love her already.” They giggled again and then everything went quiet.
“Hello?” Isabella said into the room. There was no other person in it that she could see.
No more than another minute passed before Seth arrived, knocking her to the ground. Too happy to care about any bruising, she scrambled back on her feet.
“Seth!” She looked at him with wide eyes. “You followed me?”
“You’re crazy, you know that? Of course I did. Where the heck are we?”
Isabella listened for the giggling voices again. She didn't hear anything. It hadn't been her imagination. Seth worriedly looked back the way he'd come and then all around the room.
“There's someone in here, Seth.”
“Are you seeing things again? There's no one here.”
She didn't want to seem crazy at the moment, so she didn't elaborate quite yet on what she'd just heard. Instead, she focused on Seth's apparent worry. “I don’t see any other exit besides that thing.” Isabella pointed.
Seth went to examine the opening to what Isabella suspected was some sort of waterslide. “There has to be another way out.” He went from wall to wall, banging on each of them. He looked up the tube they’d come from. Nothing.
“I didn’t tell you this before, but I was told to come here,” she said.
“What do you mean, you were told? By Theophilus or something?”
For the first time, Isabella noticed that Seth looked a little less like Seth and more like an Adonis version of himself. Skin bronze. Hair windswept with the same odd violet tint. Eyes a gentle blue-green. Isabella looked at herself again in the mirror. If anything, she looked better than the last time she’d checked. Her dull, olive-drab eyes twinkled like emeralds.
Seth looked over her shoulder. “Is that me? Better question—is that you?”
She elbowed him someplace that made him cringe, and she grinned in response.
“I think I look like me,” said Isabella, “but my skin looks weird and my hair…”
“I think you look like you but a whole lot…” She glared at him. “You look exactly like you. Yep. Exactly the same.”
“I was going to say, I think I look like the fake Hollywood version of myself, ya know?”
“Yeah. That’s exactly it!”
“I don’t know if I like it at all. Except maybe the hair part.” She ran her fingers through the soft locks.
“So, what exactly is going on here?” he asked, still studying his reflection.
She turned her eyes back to the closet and stared at it for an uncomfortably long moment.
“What’s wrong?” she heard Seth finally say.
“There was just one of these before. Now there are two.”
He came to her side. “What do you mean there was only one?”
“Before you came, there was one wetsuit in here. Now, there are two. Like, because you showed up, another one appeared.” She looked around the room. ”Seth, where are the others? Did they stay behind?”
“No, I don’t think they did. I heard Micah trying to follow me, saying he didn’t want to be stuck in that room forever. I shouted for him to stay back, but I heard him climbing and Cleo cursing. Xander said something like ‘don’t forget about me.’ So, yeah. They should be here by now.”
“What if they hit one of those Port signs?” suggested Isabella.
“They wouldn’t do that,” said Seth.
“They might have.”
“Well, I guess I got lucky then.”
Isabella looked around. “Or unlucky.”
They waited for a while. Pacing, not speaking, leaning against one wall and then another. She rested against the closet and peeked over at Seth to find him staring at her. She quickly looked away and examined the wetsuits. Time ticked on. The others were not coming. “I hate to say it, but I think we should go,” she said quietly.
“I think we should wait a little longer.”
“You’re worried about Micah.”
Her hand automatically went to her necklace. She closed her eyes and centered herself as she felt the warm buzz envelop her. Hello? Can anyone hear me? She tried thinking to her whomever-it-was who might listen. She waited, but no one replied. She dropped the necklace.
“I’m sorry. I’m scared, too.” Then she heard the giggling again. Where was it coming from? “Did you hear that?”
To her surprise, Seth nodded once and then swallowed. “Come on.” He pulled both wetsuits from the closet. The first was small and black with pink trim. The second was larger, navy with black trim. ”I think this one is yours.” He held out the smaller suit to her.
Isabella laughed. “Oh yeah? I thought you’d go for the pink.”
“You wanted to do this, remember? So quit stalling.” He was fighting a smile. “And get dressed.”
“Yes, master. But, uh, you’re gonna have to turn around.”
“Uh, no, I’m not.”
“Uh, yes, you are!”
“Uh, no I am not. Look.” Seth pointed at the wall that held the mirror. A door had appeared on either side of it; one read His, the other Hers.
Isabella’s mouth fell open. She didn’t know why she should be surprised, after everything that had happened in the last few days, but there was something different about what was happening here and what occurred in her great-grandparents’ speakeasy. This seemed as if it was being done by magic rather than machine or illusion. But it couldn’t be. Could it? “This is crazy.”
They quickly changed then Isabella climbed into the tube.
“Ready?” Seth asked. When she nodded, he punched the button.
“Nothing’s happening,” she said as Seth climbed in behind her, knees perched on either side of her hips. She didn’t have time to complain about his closeness because, as soon as Seth settled back, they shot off through the tube, water spouting every which way.
“Oh my God!” Isabella screeched as water flooded the lower half of the slide. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea!”
“Woo! Yeah!” Seth shouted. “I feel like I’m at Wild Waters!”
How could he be excited when they were about to die? Isabella pinched her eyes shut and held on for what she hoped were not the last moments of her short life. In an instant, they were both sucked into the abyss as the water plastered her hair to her cheeks. Her stomach twisted and turned at every drop. Water rushed at her sides faster than any slide she’d ever been on. The wetsuit clung warmth to her body as the smell of chlorine sailed through her nostrils. Beads of water continued to pelt her face, and the slide came to an abrupt end.
Blast. They torpedoed from the tube into deep, clear waters. So clear, in fact, that Isabella could see acutely. Her panicked eyes met an underwater street lamp plugged into a mossy boulder just below her. To her right, replicas of street signs Hollywood and Vine—just like at the real intersection aboveground, ten miles from the hotel—were staked into two other enormous rocks.
She whipped around looking for Seth, but he was nowhere to be found. She swam to the surface and sucked in a cleansing breath. “Seth!” No answer. “Seth!”
Allison Whitmore was born in Los Angeles and loves to tell good coming-of-age stories with a hint of romance.
You will find her characters going on an adventure or two as well. Outside of writing, Whitmore enjoys classic films, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
She loves it when fans reach out to her.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter: @alli_whitmore or join her on Instagram @allisonwhitmoreauthor.
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