Eli's Triumph (Reapers MC #6.7) - Joanna Wylde

Prologue

Hallies Falls

Washington State

24 years ago

~Peaches~

“Do you really think he can get away with it?” I asked, glancing toward Lemur. “I mean, I know he’s evil enough…but I don’t think Gus would let him, would he?”

The grubby little stuffed animal stared back at me, glass eyes cracked from hitting the floor too many times. His pink teacup sat on its saucer, untouched. He didn’t say anything out loud, but I saw the answer in his face.

He didn’t trust Eli King.

Neither did Eden, the doll sitting next to Lemur. She hadn’t touched her tea, either, and who could blame her? Everything had been wrong since Eli moved in with us. Even our imaginary tea tasted wrong. Now it was nothing but water, and my special cakes were only chunks of bread.

My eyes slid toward the fourth place setting, set carefully on the old bandanna. The blue cup. That’s where Gus was supposed to sit. It should be me, Lemur, Eden, and Gus.

Always.

But Gus was too busy to play with us today. He was working on his motorcycle, and he’d asked stupid Eli to help him. Sliding on my butt across the porch’s battered boards, I peered through the railing to study the two of them.

They crouched in the driveway next to the bike—my giant, grumpy, snuggly Gus and a stinky boy who liked to think he was so much older than me, but he wasn’t. Eli was only seven, and they were making him do first grade over again. Maybe he’d flunk this year, too. Then we’d be in the same class.

Gus poked at the engine with one of his tools. I couldn’t see what kind because Eli was between me and him, which was pretty much where he always was.

Between me and Gus.

And if Lemur was right, Eli was doing it on purpose. Eden agreed… Sometimes, Lemur was wrong, but Eden? Eden was almost always right, and the two of them together had never been wrong before. There was only enough space for one kid in this house, and Eli was ruthless.

He’d already taken over half my bedroom.

My eyes narrowed as I considered his messy brown hair, hanging too long across the back of his neck. Maybe I could Superglue it to the bed while he was sleeping.

“Eli, go grab me a beer,” Gus said, his deep voice rumbling across the yard. His bike rumbled like that, too. It needed a tune-up because the motorcycle club was doing something very important later this week.

Fixing the bike was worth canceling the tea party. I was okay with that. But when Gus needed a helper, he should’ve called me. I was the one who should be running toward the kitchen door to fetch a bottle.

“I’ve got to get rid of him,” I whispered softly, trying to think of something. There had to be a way to make Eli go away. “I wonder if he’s scared of spiders?”

My toys didn’t answer. Turning around, I looked at them, biting my lip. I could tell that Lemur had an idea, but Eden seemed to be shaking her head at me. Her eyes had opened wider than usual, and I realized she was afraid.

She thought Eli might hurt her and Lemur.

My tummy flipped, and I felt sick.

I could see why Eden was afraid. Eli had already broken one of my teacups, and nobody but me knew that Eden and Lemur weren’t just toys. They were alive. Not only living, but the best friends a girl could ever have.

Suddenly, this wasn’t just about my room.

This was about protecting my best friends.

“Don’t worry, I’ll hide you,” I told them, swallowing