ALSO BY LAUREN KATE FALLEN This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are. Author: Lauren Kate. downloads Views 2MB Size Report. DOWNLOAD EPUB The Fallen Sequence (Fallen; Torment; Passion) · Read more. Enjoy this chapter sampler of Torment written by Lauren Kate, published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House. That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky.
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Download Torment by Lauren Kate PDF Book Download. Version of PDF eBook and the name of writer and number pages in ebook every information is given. Torment [electronic resource (EPUB eBook)] / Lauren Kate. In a desperate effort to save Luce from the Outcasts-immortals who want her dead, Luce and Daniel. "Torment " by Lauren Kate pdf, epub, fb2 Free Download. The book is added by DEnver Read online books at raudone.info
Finally, she could move. She wove expertly through the crowd and forgot all about the guy shed just met on the plane. She forgot to feel nervous that shed never been to California in her lifenever been further west than Branson, Missouri, that time when her parents dragged her to see Yakov Smirnoff doing standup.
She was headed toward the only thing in the world that had the power to make her feel better. The only thing that could make her feel that all the anguish shed been through all the shadows, that unreal battle in the cemetery, and worst of all, the heartbreak of Penns deathmight be worth surviving.
There he was. For a second, Luce stood still and just enjoyed the view. Daniel was wearing flip-flops and dark jeans shed never seen before, and a stretched-out red T-shirt that was ripped near the front pocket. He looked the same, yet somehow different. More rested than he had when theyd said goodbye the other day.
And was it just that shed missed him so much, or was his skin even more radiant than she remembered? He looked up and finally saw her. His smile practically gleamed. She took off running toward him. Within a second, his arms were around her, her face buried in his chest, and Luce let out the longest, deepest breath. Her mouth found his and they sank into a kiss. She went slack and happy in his arms. She hadnt realized it until now, but a part of her had wondered whether shed ever see him again, whether the whole thing might have been a dream.
The love she felt, the love that Daniel reciprocated, all still felt so surreal. Still caught up in his kiss, Luce lightly pinched his bicep. Not a dream. For the first time in she didnt even know how long, she felt like she was home. Youre here, he whispered into her ear. Youre here. Were both here. But when Luce was least expecting it, her laugh turned into a sniffle. She was looking for a way to say how hard the last few days had been for herwithout him, without anyone, half asleep and groggily aware that everything had changedbut in Daniels arms now, she failed to find the words.
I know, he said. Lets get your bag and get out of here. Luce turned toward the baggage carousel and found her neighbor from the plane standing in front of her, the straps of her huge duffel gripped in his hands. I saw this go by, he said, a forced smile on his face, like he was hell-bent on proving his good intentions. Its yours, isnt it? Before Luce had time to answer, Daniel relieved the guy of the unwieldy bag, using only one hand.
Thanks, man. Ill take it from here, he said, decisively enough to end the conversation. The guy watched as Daniel slid his other hand around Luces waist and steered her away. Then they were through the sliding glass doors and 19 she took her first real breath of the West Coast.
The early-November air felt fresh and brisk and somehow healthy, not soggy and chilled like the Savannah air this afternoon when her plane had taken off. The sky was a brilliant bright blue, no clouds on the horizon.
Everything looked new-minted and cleaneven the parking lot held row after row of recently washed cars. A line of mountains framed it all, tawny brown with scraggly dots of green trees, one hill rolling into the next.
She was not in Georgia anymore. I cant decide whether to be surprised, Daniel teased. I let you out from under my wing for two days and another guy swoops in.
Luce rolled her eyes. Come on. We barely spoke. Really, I slept the whole flight. She nudged him. Dreaming of you. Daniels pursed lips turned into a smile and he gave the top of her head a kiss. She stood still, wanting more, not even realizing that Daniel had stopped in front of a car. And not just any car. A black Alfa Romeo. Luces jaw dropped when Daniel unlocked the passenger door. This is. More than that, Daniel laughed.
This used to be your car. He laughed when she practically jumped at his 20 words. She was still getting used to the reincarnation part of their story.
It was so unfair. A whole car she had no memory of. Whole lives she couldnt recall. She was desperate to know about them, almost like her former selves were siblings shed been separated from at birth.
She rested her hand on the windshield, searching for a wisp of something, for dj vu. It was a sweet sixteen present from your folks a couple of lifetimes ago. Daniel looked sideways, like he was trying to decide how much to say. Like he knew she was hungry for the details but might not be able to swallow too many at once. I just bought it off this guy in Reno. He bought it after you, uh. Well, after you.
Spontaneously combusted, Luce thought, filling in the bitter truth that Daniel wouldnt speak. That was the one thing about her past lives: The ending rarely changed. Except, it seemed, this time it could.
This time they could hold hands, kiss, and. But she was dying to find out. She caught herself. They had to be careful. Seventeen years was not enough, and in this lifetime, Luce was adamant about sticking around to see what it was like to really be with Daniel. He cleared his throat and patted the gleaming black hood.
Still drives like a champ. The only problem 21 is. He looked at the convertibles tiny trunk, then at Luces duffel bag, then back at the trunk. Yes, Luce had a terrible habit of overpacking, shed be the first to admit. But for once, this wasnt her fault. Shed been too busy saying goodbye to Daniel, and to Penn, to pack. She winced, feeling guilty for being out here in California with Daniel, so far from where shed left her friend buried. It didnt seem fair. Cole had kept assuring her that Miss Sophia would be dealt with for what shed done to Penn, but when Luce had pressed him about what exactly that meant, hed tugged at his mustache and clammed up.
Daniel glanced suspiciously around the parking lot.
He popped the trunk, Luces massive duffel bag in hand. It was an impossible fit, but then a soft sucking sound came from the back of the car and Luces bag began to shrink. A moment later, Daniel snapped the trunk shut. Luce blinked. Do that again! Daniel didnt laugh. He seemed nervous. He slid into the drivers seat and started the car without a word. It was a strange, new thing for Luce: seeing his face look so serene on the surface, but knowing him well enough to sense something deeper underneath.
Whats wrong? Cole told you about keeping a low profile, didnt he? She nodded. Daniel backed out of the spot, then wheeled around to the parking lots exit, slipping a credit card into the machine on their way out.
That was stupid. I should have thought Whats the big deal? Luce tucked her dark hair behind her ears as the car began to pick up speed. You think youre going to attract Cams attention by stuffing a bag into a trunk? Daniel got a faraway look in his eyes and shook his head. Not Cam. A moment later, he squeezed her knee. Forget I said anything. I just We both just have to be cautious. Luce heard him but was too overwhelmed to listen too closely.
She loved watching Daniel expertly work the gearshift as they took the ramp onto the freeway and zipped through traffic; loved feeling the wind whipping through the car as they sped toward the towering San Francisco skyline; lovedmost of alljust being with Daniel.
In San Francisco proper, the road turned much hillier. Every time they crested one peak and started careening down another, Luce caught a different glimpse of the city. It looked old and new at the same time: Mirror-windowed skyscrapers backed right up against 23 restaurants and bars that looked a century old. Tiny cars lined the streets, parked at gravity-defying angles.
Dogs and strollers everywhere. The sparkle of blue water all around the citys edge. And the first candy-apple-red glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Her eyes darted around to keep up with all the sights.
And even though she had spent most of the past few days sleeping, she suddenly felt a wave of exhaustion. Daniel stretched his arm around her and guided her head toward his shoulder. Little-known fact about angels: We make excellent pillows. Luce laughed, lifting her head to kiss his cheek. I couldnt possibly sleep, she said, nuzzling his neck. On the Golden Gate Bridge, throngs of pedestrians, spandexed bicyclers, and joggers flanked the cars.
Far below was the brilliant bay, dotted with white sailboats and the beginning notes of a violet sunset. Its been days since weve seen each other. I want to catch up, she said. Tell me what youve been doing. Tell me everything. For an instant, she thought she saw Daniels hands tighten around the steering wheel. If your goal is not to go to sleep, he said, cracking a smile, then I really shouldnt delve into the minutiae of the eight-hour-long Council of the Angels meeting I was stuck in all day yesterday.
See, the board met to discuss an amendment to proposition B, which details the sanctioned format for cherubic participation in the third circuit of Okay, I get it.
She swatted him. Daniel was joking, 24 but it was a strange new kind of joke. He was actually being open about being an angel, which she lovedor at least she would love it, once shed had a little more time to process it. Luce still felt like her heart and brain were both struggling to catch up to the changes in her life. But they were back together for good now, so everything was infinitely easier.
There was nothing to hold back from one another anymore. She pulled on his arm. At least tell me where were going. Daniel flinched, and Luce felt a knot of cold unfold inside her chest.
She moved to put her hand on his, but he pulled away to downshift. A school in Fort Bragg called Shoreline. Classes start tomorrow. Were enrolling at another school? It sounded so permanent. This was supposed to be a provisional trip. Her parents didnt even know shed left the state of Georgia. Youll like Shoreline. Its very progressive, and a lot better than Sword and Cross.
I think youll be able to. And no harm will come to you. The school has a special, protective quality. A camouflage-like shield. I dont get it. Why do I need a protective shield? I thought coming out here, away from Miss Sophia, was enough.
Its not just Miss Sophia, Daniel said quietly. There are others. You can protect me from Cam, or Molly, or whoever. Luce laughed, but the cold feeling in her chest was spreading to her gut.
Its not Cam or Molly, either. Luce, I cant talk about it. Will we know anyone else there? Any other angels? There are some angels there. No one you know, but Im sure youll get along. Theres one more thing. His voice was flat as he stared straight ahead. I wont be enrolling. His eyes didnt once veer off the road. Just you. Its only for a little while. How little? A few. Had Luce been the one behind the wheel, this was when she would have slammed on the brakes. A few weeks? If I could be with you, I would.
Daniels voice was so flat, so steady, that it made Luce even more upset. You saw what just happened with your duffel bag and the trunk. That was like my shooting up a flare into the sky to let everyone know where we are. To alert anyone who is looking for meand by me, I mean you. I am too easy to find, too easy for others to track down.
And that bit with your bag? That is nothing compared to the things I do every day that would draw the attention of. He shook his head sharply. I wont put you in danger, Luce, I wont. Daniels face looked pained. Its complicated. And let me guess: You cant explain. I wish I could. Luce drew her knees to her chest, leaned away from him and against the passenger-side door, feeling somehow claustrophobic under the big blue California sky.
For half an hour, the two of them rode in silence. In and out of patches of fog, up and down the rocky, arid terrain. They passed signs for Sonoma, and as the car cruised through lush green vineyards, Daniel spoke. Its three more hours to Fort Bragg. You going to stay mad at me the whole time? Luce ignored him. She thought of and refused to give voice to hundreds of questions, frustrations, accusations, andultimatelyapologies for acting like such a spoiled brat.
At the turnoff for the Anderson Valley, Daniel forked west and tried again to hold her hand. Maybe youll forgive me in time to enjoy our last few minutes together? She wanted to. She really wanted to not be fighting with Daniel right now.
But the fresh mention of there being such a thing as a last few minutes together, of his leaving her alone for reasons she couldnt understand and that he always refused to explainit made Luce nervous, then terrified, then frustrated all over again. In 27 the roiling sea of new state, new school, new dangers everywhere, Daniel was the only rock she had to hold on to.
And he was about to leave her? Hadnt she been through enough? Hadnt they both been through enough? It was only after theyd passed through the redwoods and come out into a starry, royal-blue evening that Daniel said something that broke through to her. A full moon shone down on a cluster of buildings: a lighthouse, several copper water towers, and rows of well-preserved old wooden houses.
Somewhere out beyond all that was the ocean she could hear but couldnt see. Daniel pointed east, into a dark, dense forest of redwood and maple trees.
See that trailer park up ahead? You used to live right there. Luce sucked in her breath so quickly, she started to cough. The park looked sad and lonesome, a dull line of low-ceilinged cookie-cutter boxes set along a cheap gravel road.
Thats awful. You lived there before it was a trailer park, Daniel said, easing the car to a stop by the side of the road. Your father in that lifetime brought your family out from Illinois during the gold rush. He seemed to look inward somewhere, and sadly shook his head. Used to be a really nice place.
Luce watched a bald man with a potbelly tug a mangy orange dog on a leash. The man was wearing a white undershirt and flannel boxers. Luce couldnt picture herself there at all. Yet it was so clear to Daniel. You had a two-room cabin and your mother was a terrible cook, so the whole place always smelled like cabbage. You had these blue gingham curtains that I used to part so I could climb through your window at night after your parents were asleep.
The car idled. Luce closed her eyes and tried to fight back her stupid tears. Hearing their history from Daniel made it feel both possible and impossible. Another person's personality is not for sharing, and frankly, you shouldn't want to be one half of a whole. How is that functional in any way, shape or form? How is that healthy? I could write a dissertation on this. It's this constant wonder, of how anyone can possibly write such shallow characters with such an unconvincing liking for each other, and yet somehow be invested in the story.
How could you think this was interesting? We are reading this book and picturing two wobbly blobs of nothing slowly revolve around each other. It's like sitting through a ten-hour video of the moon revolving around the earth in real-time. Like, nothing but that. Just one rock moving around the other rock. It seems like it might be mildly interesting and then when you actually experience it, it's just what it says on the tin. One rock going around another rock.
This just got so existential. And I get it. I get Kate trying to portray that Luce wants her own life and her own independence. But this is not living or being independent. Free thinking is not about bleaching your hair or crying about an eighteen-day relationship hiatus as if the thing that got removed for eighteen days was not your boyfriend but all the skin on your face; it's about seeking out your interests and figuring out what path you want to take in life, not your first-world problems with your pushy, overbearing boyfriend.
I mean seriously. This book reads like a pamphlet on white cishet rich people's problems. On the portrayal of healthy relationships: take a look at Steven and Francesca's horrible dynamic. Francesca and Steven apparently do nothing but hatefuck and talk about how they'll kill each other "when the time comes".
How is this even a thing? And continuity? What is continuity? We have the Announcers which function as deus ex machina and an easy out for exposition but there isn't even a cover story to try to hide that they're a plot device painted the colour of a plot device wearing a sandwich board across which the words "PLOT DEVICE" are written.
What are they? Time warps? And what was the conflict here? The Outcasts? The Elders? The demons? Steven smiled, showing a flash of brilliant white teeth. They were actually turning in their seats to focus on her. She could feel her heart race and her palms grow damp. She shrank in her seat, wishing she were just a normal kid at a normal school back home in normal Thunderbolt, Georgia.
But there was where her anxious, tumbling mind always came to a full stop: How to be normal and still have Daniel? Who was so very far from normal. It was impossible.
So here she was, sucking it up. So Luce had just gotten her out of a presentation. That had to be worth something in roommate points.
Luce expected the chorus of groans that those words usually evoked from a classroom of teens. But these kids all seemed so agreeable and well-adjusted. They were actually just going to go with the flow. Lines had been drawn on the page, dividing it into twenty boxes.
Each box contained a phrase. The object was to go around the room and match a different student with each phrase. Mostly, she was relieved; there were definitely more embarrassing icebreakers out there. She thought back to the nervous waiter who had brought her and Shelby their breakfast. Maybe Luce would be more comfortable among the scholarship kids.
She could levitate? Trying not to show that she was feeling more and more inadequate, Luce searched the page for something, anything she knew anything about. Has experience summoning the Announcers. The shadows. Both Jasmine and Dawn looked up at her, a little awed but not disbelieving, before moving on to fill in the rest of their sheets. She had three boxes left when Shelby tugged the paper out of her hands.
Luce stared at the paper, thinking about all her own past lives and how frustratingly off-limits they were to her.
She had underestimated Shelby. But her roommate was already gone. He was a good half foot taller than Luce, with a bright, friendly smile, a splash of freckles on his nose, and clear blue eyes. Something about him, even the way he was chewing on his pen, looked … sturdy.
He tossed his head from side to side and wrote his name in the box. Miles Fisher. Freaked my dad out for about ten seconds, but then it faded. It was just so hard to process all these hints that other people here knew more about her than she knew about herself. My powers are embarrassingly low-grade. Miles rolled his eyes good-naturedly. She your roommate? Music to her mortal ears. Alone for the first time all morning, she looked down at the sheet of paper in her hand, unsure how to feel about the other kids at Shoreline.
Too far away. She pressed a finger to her lips, remembering his last kiss. The incredible embrace of his wings. She felt so cold without him, even in the California sunshine. But she was here because of him, accepted into this class of angels or whatever they were—complete with her bizarre new reputation—all thanks to him. In a weird way, it felt good to be connected to Daniel so inextricably. Until he came for her, it was all she had to hold on to.
He was wearing a vintage yellow T-shirt with a Sunkist logo on it, a baseball cap pulled down just above his blue eyes, flip-flops, and frayed jeans. Feeling inspired by the very relaxed dress code at Shoreline, Luce had swapped out her standard black getup.
She was wearing a red sundress with a short white cardigan, which felt kind of like the first day of sunshine after a long stretch of rain. She dropped a spoonful of sugar into her cup and laughed.
Maybe my roommate, who I think snuck in just before sunrise this morning and was gone again before I woke up. Anonymous freak, I got used to. As he dabbed the side of his mouth with his napkin, Luce half-marveled, half-chuckled at his occasionally impeccable table manners. When she feels like it. For some reason having both sides present gives students here the most freedom to develop.
But develop into what? It could only apply to the kids who were Nephilim. Not Luce, who was the lone full human in her class of almost-angels, waiting until her angel felt like swooping back in to save her. Whether you two really do it on the clouds? Everyone else, that is. I try not to, um, speculate. As much as it sucked, Luce understood why Daniel and Mr.
Cole had forbidden her to reach out to Callie or her parents. But Daniel and Mr. Cole were the ones who had enrolled her at Shoreline. Especially since he already knew some version of the truth.
But basically, Daniel is an important angel. I guess he was kind of a big deal before the Fall. She felt nervous. The surreal battle in the cemetery. At the end, she felt lighter. Feels really good to say it aloud. And Nephilim like you. For the first time, she noticed a clear line dividing the tables of the Nephilim kids from the rest of the student body.
The Nephilim claimed all the tables on the west side, closest to the water. There were fewer of them, no more than twenty, but they took up a lot more tables, sometimes with just one kid at a table that could have seated six, while the rest of the kids had to cram into the remaining east-side tables.
Take Shelby, for example, who sat alone, battling the fierce wind over the paper she was trying to read. Luce had met some of the other non-gifted kids yesterday. After lunch, classes were held in the main building, a much less architecturally impressive structure where more traditional subjects were taught. Biology, geometry, European history. Some of those students seemed nice, but Luce felt an unspoken distance—all because she was on the gifted track—that thwarted the possibility of a conversation.
But seriously, do you think anyone over there could have handled what you did, and lived to tell about it? Her death had been so senseless. None of it was fair.
Francesca and Steven are big on teaching us about the present and the future, but not really the past. Something to do with empowering us. But the early stuff you were talking about? None of the lessons here ever really go into that. You want to do this again sometime? He was friendly and had the kind of sense of humor that put Luce instantly at ease.
The battle that was coming. If even the Nephilim were preparing for it, where did that leave Luce? Steven and Francesca had a way of dressing in complementary colors that made them look better outfitted for a photo shoot than a lecture.
It had a loose bow around her neck and matched, almost exactly, the orange tie that Steven wore with his ivory oxford shirt and navy blazer. They were stunning to look at, and Luce was drawn to them, but not exactly in the couples-crush way Dawn had predicted the day before. Watching her teachers from her desk between Miles and Jasmine, Luce felt drawn to Francesca and Steven for reasons closer to her heart: They reminded her of her relationship with Daniel.
Of course that had something to do with their powers as fallen angels, but it must also have had to do with the unique way they connected. Most of the students had taken their seats.
Dawn and Jasmine were going on to Luce about joining the steering committee so she could help them plan all these amazing social events. Luce had never been a big extracurricular girl. She was adding her name to the roster when Steven stepped forward, tossed his blazer on the table behind him, and wordlessly spread his arms out at his sides.
As if summoned, a shard of deep black shadow seemed to part from the shadows of one of the redwoods right outside the window. It peeled itself off the grass, then took substance and whipped into the room through the open window. It was quick, and where it went the day blackened and the room fell into darkness. In fact, most of the students inched back nervously in their desks as Steven begin to twirl the shadow.
He just reached his hands in and began wrenching faster and faster, seeming to wrestle with something. Soon the shadow was spinning around in front of him so quickly it went blurry, like the spokes of a turning wheel. Steven manipulated the shadow, arms straining, from a messy, amorphous shape into a tight, black sphere, no bigger than a grapefruit.
In her heels, she was nearly as tall as Steven. And, Luce imagined, she was just as skilled at dealing with the shadows. But do you really know what they are? Do you know what they can do? She was still too new to Shoreline to feel comfortable calling out the answer, but none of the other students seemed to know. Slowly she raised her hand. Francesca cocked her head. But harmless? Her tone betrayed nothing about whether Luce was right or wrong, which made Luce feel embarrassed.
The shadow bulged and stretched out like a balloon being blown up. It made a thick glugging sound as its blackness distorted, showing colors more vivid than anything Luce had seen before. Deep chartreuse, glittering gold, marbleized swaths of pink and purple.
A whole swirling world of color glowing brighter and more distinct behind a disappearing mesh of shadow. Steven and Francesca were still tugging, stepping backward slowly until the shadow was about the size and shape of a large projector screen. Then they stopped. There could be no preparation for this.
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The tangle of colors separated, settled finally into a canvas of distinct shapes. They were looking at a city. An ancient stone-walled city … on fire. Overcrowded and polluted, consumed by angry flames.
People cornered by the flames, their mouths dark emptinesses, raising their arms to the skies. And everywhere a shower of bright sparks and burning bits of fire, a rain of deadly light landing everywhere and igniting everything it touched. Luce could practically smell the rot and doom coming through the shadow screen. Other students around her were ducking their heads, as if they were trying to block out 37 some wail, some screaming that to Luce was indistinguishable.
There was nothing but clean silence as they watched more and more people die. Not one but two cities were burning. She knew what they were looking at: Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities in the Bible, two cities destroyed by God. Then, like turning off a light switch, Steven and Francesca snapped their fingers and the image disappeared. The remnants of the shadow shattered into a small black cloud of ash that settled eventually on the floor of the classroom.
Around Luce, the other students all seemed to be catching their breath. How had it done that? It was starting to congeal again, the pieces of dark pooling together, slowly returning to a more familiar shadow shape.
Its services complete, the Announcer inched sluggishly along the floorboards, then slid right out of the classroom, like the shadow cast by a closing door.
He and Francesca shared a worried look as they glanced around the room. Dawn was whimpering at her desk. How you can change things for the better, however each of you decide to define that. We like to look forward, instead of backward. Even I sometimes lapse into propaganda. They can hold very valuable information. In a way, they are shadows—but shadows of the past, of long-ago and not-so-long-ago events. But someday, maybe, it will be a possibility. He gave her a wide-eyed smile, as if he were relieved to hear this.
Her voice had the effect of aloe on a sunburn. Shadow-glimpsing is not done without great cost. It takes energy to look back even a few days, but to look back millennia? Well, you can feel the effects yourselves. They looked dazed, exhausted. When she stood up, her own knees were a little wobbly, but somehow she felt less shaken than the others seemed to be.
She tightened her cardigan around her shoulders and followed Miles out of the classroom. She was. Feel like I need a nap. I am so conking out right now. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah had been horrifying. They took the shortcut back to the dorm, around the north side of the mess hall and into the shade of the redwoods. It was strange seeing the campus so empty, with all the other kids at Shoreline still in class in the main building.
One by one, the Nephilim peeled off the path and headed straight to bed. Except for Luce. Instead, she felt strangely energized. She wished, again, that Daniel were there. In front of Luce were the stairs leading up to her dorm room. Behind her, the redwood forest. She went into the woods. Her watch said 11 a.
Goose bumps rose on her bare legs as she pressed deeper into the shady forest. She was about to enter uncharted territory. Forbidden territory. She was going to summon an Announcer. The very first time was when she pinched one during class to keep it from sneaking into her pocket. Poor Penn. If she had known how to manipulate it then, the way Francesca and Steven had manipulated the one today—could she have stopped what happened?
She closed her eyes. Saw Penn, slumped against the wall, her chest aproned with blood. Her fallen friend. Looking back on that night was too painful, and it never got Luce anywhere. All she could do now was look ahead.
A slinking, black, familiar shape lurking alongside the true shadow of a low redwood branch a mere ten yards in front of her. She took a step toward it, and the Announcer shrank back. Trying not to make any sudden moves, Luce pressed on, closer, closer, willing the shadow not to slip away. The shadow twitched under its tree branch but stayed put. Heart racing, Luce tried to calm herself down. Yes, it was dark in this forest; and yes, not a soul knew where she was; and okay, sure, there was a chance no one would miss her for a good while if anything happened—but there was no reason to panic.
So why did she feel gripped by a gnawing fear? It was time to make a move. She could either stand here frozen forever, or she could chicken out and go sulking back to the dorm, or— Her arm shot out, no longer shaking, and took hold of the thing. She dragged it up and clutched it tightly to her chest, surprised by its heft, by how cold and damp it was.
Like a wet towel. Her arms were shaking. What did she do with it now? The image of those burning cities flashed into her mind. Luce wondered whether she could stand to see this message on her own. If she could even figure out how to unlock its secrets. How did these things work? All Francesca and Steven had done was pull. To her surprise, the Announcer was pliant, almost like putty, and took whatever shape her hands suggested.
Grimacing, she tried to manipulate it into a square. At first it was easy, but the shadow seemed to grow stiffer the more she tried to stretch it out. And every time she repositioned her hands to pull on another part, the rest would recoil into a cold, lumpy black mass. Soon she was out of breath and using her arm to wipe the sweat off her brow.
She did not want to give up. But when the shadow started to vibrate, Luce screamed and dropped it to the ground. Instantly, it darted off into the trees. Only after it was gone did Luce realize: It was the cell phone in her backpack.
Cole had given her his old phone before he put her on the plane to California. So that when Luce talked to them, she could lie consistently. No one besides Mr. Cole even had her number. And now the phone had cost Luce her first real progress with a shadow.
She pulled it out and opened the text Mr. Cole had just sent: Call your parents. They think you got an A- on a history test I just gave. And a second one, a minute later: Is everything okay? Was Arriane still there, and if so, who was she sailing paper airplanes to during class?
Had Molly found someone else to make her enemy now that Luce was gone? Or had both of them moved on since Luce and Daniel had left? Luce sighed. She hated not telling her parents the truth, hated not being able to tell them how far away she felt, and how alone. But a phone call? Every false word she said—A- on a made-up history test, tryouts for some bogus swim team—would only make her feel that much more homesick.
Cole must be out of his mind, telling her to call them and lie. But if she told her parents the truth—the real truth—they would think she was out of her mind. She could email them. It would download her a few days before she had to call.
She would email them tonight. She stepped out of the forest, onto the path, and gasped. It was night. She looked back at the lush, shaded woods. How long had she been in there with the shadow? She glanced at her watch. It was half past eight. And her afternoon classes. And dinner. She was tired, cold, and hungry.
After three wrong turns in the mazelike dorm, Luce finally found her door. Silently hoping that Shelby would be wherever it was she disappeared to at night, Luce slipped her huge, old-fashioned key into the lock and turned the knob. The lights were off, but a fire was burning in the hearth.
Shelby was seated cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed, meditating. When Luce came in, one eye popped open, looking highly annoyed at the sight before it. She closed her evil eye and went back to meditating, and the room was tranquil.
Dear Mom and Dad, I miss you guys so much. Just wanted to drop you a line. Her chest constricted as she strained to keep her fingers from typing: As far as I know, no one else has died this week. Still doing fine in all my classes, she made herself write instead. Might even try out for the swim team! Luce looked out the window at the clear, starry sky. She had to sign off fast. Wonder when this rainy weather will let up.
Love, Luce She copied the message into a new email to Callie, changed a few choice words, moved her mouse over the Send button, closed her eyes, double-clicked, and hung her head. She was a horrible fake of a daughter, a liar of a friend.
And what had she been thinking? These were the blandest, most red-flag-worthy emails ever written. They were only going to freak people out. Her stomach growled. A second time, more loudly. Shelby cleared her throat. Luce spun around in her chair to face the girl, only to find her in downward dog. Luce could feel the tears welling up in the corners of her eyes. No need for the waterworks. Luce wanted to open up to someone, and Shelby was, well, there. Only child raised by a single mom.
Daddy issues? A pain in the ass to live with because I hate to share? Almost certainly. Enlighten me. Hell, once I even shaved it after this jerk really broke my heart. From her position on the bed, Luce could see her reflection.
She put down the bowl of pasta and stood up to move closer. She had chopped her hair off after Trevor, but that was different. Most of it had been singed, anyway. Penn, her family, the life she used to have before things got so complicated. What would Daniel think?
She turned around to face Shelby. Luce wet her hands in the sink and tugged her short bleached waves. Stepping out into the world this morning, Luce had been overcome by nerves. Of course, Dawn and Jasmine had flocked to her side right after humanities, eager to touch her hair, asking Luce who her inspiration had been. Jasmine squinted at Luce. You two look … well, looked so much alike.
You practically could have been sisters. They had similar coloring: But Dawn was smaller than she was. She wore bright colors six days a week. And she was way more chipper than Luce could ever be. The bathroom door swung open and a wholesome-looking brunette in jeans and a yellow sweater entered. Luce recognized her from European history class. Amy Something.
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She leaned against the sink next to Luce and began to fidget with her eyebrows. All 44 that bottle of peroxide had done last night was make Luce look as phony on the outside as she already felt on the inside.
And Daniel. Luce suddenly felt so transparently fake; even a stranger could see through her. But how? There was so little she actually had control over at the moment. Her whole world was in the hands of Mr. Cole and Daniel. And they were both far away. She had hoped that maybe the students would have a chance to experiment with the shadows on their own today. None of that had happened. In fact, class today had felt like a big step back.
It was frustrating and regressive. So now, instead of heading back to the dorm, Luce found herself jogging behind the mess hall, down the trail to the edge of the bluff, and up the wooden stairs of the Nephilim lodge. The building was remarkably different without the other students to warm it up.
Dim and drafty and almost abandoned-feeling. Every noise Luce made seemed to carry, echoing off the sloping wooden beams. She could see a lamp on the landing one floor up and smell the rich aroma of brewing coffee.
It might seem insignificant to someone as skilled as Francesca. Or it might seem like a violation of her instructions to the class today. Part of Luce just wanted to feel her teacher out, to see whether she might be someone Luce could turn to when, on days like today, she started to feel as if she might fall apart. She reached the top of the stairs and found herself at the head of a long, open hallway. On her left, beyond the wooden banister, she looked down at the dark, empty classroom on the second story.
On her right was a row of heavy wooden doors with stained-glass transoms over them. Only one of the doors was ajar, the third one from the right, with light emanating from the pretty stained-glass scene in the transom. She thought she heard a male voice inside. We got unlucky. From a purely statistical standpoint, the odds of an Announcer bearing bad news were far too great. You saw what it did to those kids. Luce inched a little closer along the Persian rug in the hall.
We came up with a beautiful curriculum. I know that as well as you. Our students outperform every other Nephilim program in the world. You did all that.Cam brushed him off. Luces hands alone. After rescuing Luce, Shelby, and Miles from a revealing moment gone wrong, she decides to stay in Shoreline, from then on, to keep an eye on Luce.
He seemed nervous. He bought it after you, uh. What is that?
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