Get ready for the exciting follow up to Atlantis Rising, dubbed An enchanting debut from a promising new author of paranormal YA by Kirkus Reviews.
After all they’d cost me, I thought I was done with the Truss clan. I was wrong. Nikki Dawning, my mortal enemy, has been kidnapped, and I’ve been asked to spy on the Truss to find her. The pull between Ian and I has never been stronger, but he can’t help me this time. I have to rely on Theron, a bad-tempered cousin I didn’t know I had. To make matters worse, the people I trust have been keeping secrets.
I’m starting to feel like a weapon in a war I don’t understand. How far am I willing to go to protect the descendants of Atlantis and the common good when I’m not sure what the common good is anymore?
Only one thing is certain. If I’m the next Laurel clan chief, I can’t let myself be manipulated…by anyone.
The Atlantis Rising series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Atlantis Rising
Book #2 Atlantis Quest
Book #3 Atlantis Reborn
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About the Author
Gloria Craw grew up in the desert southwest, inspired every day by the wide skies and rich colors around her. After high school, she attended the University of Utah where she majored and got a degree in anthropology. These days, she lives in the 'burbs' just outside of Seattle, Washington where she is the shepherd of a husband, four daughters and a very hairy dog. www.gloriacraw.com
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By Gloria Craw, Liz Pelletier
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Gloria Craw
All rights reserved.
Ian's words played through my mind ... It's okay to fight dirty, he'd said. Aim for the joints, the bridge of the nose, just above the kidneys. The goal is to inflict maximum pain while conserving as much of your own energy as possible.
Parting my low ponytail down the middle, I pulled and tightened the elastic that held my hair away from my face.
"Maximum pain," I whispered, getting into fighting stance.
I punched with a right, followed with a left, and then kneed the heavy bag hanging in front of me as hard as I could. It swayed back and forth.
"How did that feel?" I asked.
Predictably, the bag said nothing, so I drove my elbow into it twice and then stepped back to get my water bottle. I gulped down about half the liquid and smoothed the front of my workout shirt. I didn't look the most ladylike, but sweat and ugly clothes were necessary.
Hitting a bag full of sawdust was good practice, but it felt different than hitting another person. Sadly, I had firsthand knowledge about burying my knuckles in someone's flesh.
Capping my water bottle, I put it back on the floor and took up position for another punching sequence. Hitting people seemed the least of what I'd done over the months since my senior year of high school started. At seventeen years old, I could say with complete honesty that I'd killed a man. Of course, I'd opened some kind of portal to death that allowed my dead mother to cross over from the other side and help me do it. But the fact remained, it was me who'd reached into his mind and crushed the life out of him. I'd done it for the greater good.
The descendants of Atlantis, or dewing as we called ourselves, were a species similar to humans, but according to genetic research and our advanced science, hybrid human-dewing combinations weren't possible. Sebastian's existence proved that to be wrong. He was a mixture of the worst aspects of human nature — selfish, greedy, cruel, and narcissistic — combined with dewing characteristics, like prolonged life, high intelligence, and mind control capabilities. A very dangerous mix.
Sebastian's hybrid nature introduced his negative characteristics into our dewing shared consciousness, and they spread like a virus. They turned a highly evolved people, who respected life and abhorred violence, into a power-hungry warlike threat to their own kind and humans.
Someone needed to stop the disease from taking over. Destiny, which I'd never consider my friend, determined that someone was me.
An unfortunate side effect was that I had a crystal-clear memory of what happened that night, and my subconscious kept using it as nightmare material. I'd probably wake up in a cold sweat as least twice a week for the rest of my three-hundred-year-long life.
Trying a new kick combination, I over-rotated my hip and lost balance. Knowing I was going to fall and not wanting to land flat on my back, I tucked my shoulder so it wouldn't hurt as badly. Just as I expected to make contact with the mat, someone caught me under the arm and pulled me up.
Surprised and still off-balance, I took a sharp breath and stepped on his foot.
"Crap, Alison," Ian hissed. "That hurt."
"Sorry." I panted, moving off his gray Converse. "Are you okay?"
He bent down to check the damage, and a lock of his light gold hair fell forward. Genetics hadn't been fooling around when they put him together. He was dewing like me and one of the most beautiful people of any species I'd ever seen. His features were perfect — deep-set eyes, high defined cheekbones, and a strong, straight nose. The color of his eyes was a striking turquoise and they were framed by thick golden lashes that would make most girls jealous. His best asset, though, was his teasing smile. It made my insides melt and drew me to him like a magnet.
"I might limp for the rest of my life," he said, testing his foot, "but I'll live. Remember to center yourself before the kick, then you won't get thrown backward. Try it again."
He was only an inch or so taller than my six feet, so his breath tickled my ear when he took up position behind me. He put his hand on my hip to angle me properly in front of the bag, and I dragged in a breath.
"You okay?" he asked me with wink.
He knew exactly how his touch affected me. I both hated and loved that he read me so clearly.
I pushed him back, centered my weight, and kicked the bag. It landed perfectly that time.
"Good," he said. "Try it again to make sure you're feeling it right."
I did and then asked, "What are you doing here? I thought I was meeting you at FatCats for pizza after work."
"This is work?" he asked, looking around the odd space we stood in. The back room of the Shadow Box bookstore had once been a graveyard for unsold books, ancient invoices, and electronic equipment no one knew how to use anymore. Lillian, my boss, had cleared it out, so I would have a space to train. It was just one of the many kindnesses she'd shown me since revealing she was also a descendant of Atlantis.
"I finished my shift half an hour ago," I said, "but this is work, too. Lillian said I can kick the crap out of this thing until six."
"When it's not kicking the crap out of you," he teased.
"You caught me at a bad moment. The only bad moment I've had today, by the way."
He pulled a face. "Well, I just had a bad moment. Your boss made me take the trash out. I think there was two-day-old Chinese food in it. The smell was ... I don't know how to describe it, but it was not good."
"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." I grinned, elbowing the bag. "You'll survive."
I caught a glimpse of an evil twinkle in his eye, and then he said, "Think fast, McKye."
That was all the warning I got before his right fist came flying toward my face. I blocked with my left arm and threw my own punch. It didn't land.
At first glance, Ian looked a bit lanky. Appearances were deceptive. He had more than his fair share of muscles, strength, and speed. I'd seen him fight to kill, and it was mind-blowing. His greatest asset was quickness. Most of the time, his opponents couldn't see his fists coming in time to avoid them. And when he landed something, it was with a lot more force than his lean frame suggested was possible.
We'd sparred together a lot over the past few months, so I wasn't surprised by the punch he threw. He always went easy enough not to kill me, but he'd gotten over his reluctance to hit a girl. I was glad about that. I didn't like pain, but I wasn't afraid of it. Pain was a teacher that helped me learn faster than anything else could.
Bouncing back, I prepared myself for a kick to his upper thigh. He read the move and swept my leg out from under me. I fell on my side and tucked to roll up. Before I could make much progress, he jumped toward me with his arms and legs spread out like a flying squirrel. I turned my face, preparing for impact, but he caught his weight on his arms instead of body-slamming me into the mat.
Grabbing me just under my rib cage, he started to tickle. I squirmed and pushed at him, but he was too heavy to shift, and he knew my weak spots. The sound of my laughter echoed off the walls. "Get off," I wheezed. "Get off."
"Make me, tough girl."
I knew his weak spot, too. The backs of his knees. I stretched until I could reach them and then tickled until he was laughing as hard as me.
"Can't breathe, can't breathe," I managed through our mutual laughter.
Smiling, he rolled off me. "Next time, don't mess with the master."
"Who's the master?" I asked.
"Ridiculous question. Me."
That was one of the things that made Ian ... Ian. He had confidence. He was only half kidding when he called himself the master. In his mind it wasn't boasting; it was a statement of fact.
He slid his hand over mine while our breathing slowed, and I laced my fingers through his. The two of us had been through a lot together. When I say a lot, I mean heavy-duty stuff ... life-and-death stuff. It was our friendship that had kept me sane since the night I fought and killed Sebastian. He was special to me in a way no one else was.
Ian didn't shy away from telling me he wanted to be more than friends, nor did he let it get awkward between us when I resisted.
That was another thing that made Ian ... Ian. He didn't get embarrassed.
When it came to how he felt about me, I think he assumed I was in denial. With time, I'd admit he was awesome and fall properly in love with him. But I already knew he was awesome. I also knew that if I let myself, I would fall totally, deeply, and irreversibly in love with him.
The problem was it didn't matter how I felt about him, because I could never be with him ... no matter how much I might want it. I'd seen things and felt things that left me knowing we weren't meant for each other. It had destroyed a piece of me when I figured it out, but it was a fact.
He squeezed my hand. "You're getting better," he said. "You're defending yourself on instinct instead of thinking about each move. That's an important step."
"It's starting to feel more natural," I admitted. "I suppose I should thank you for all the times you've tried to punch me."
"Are you kidding me?" he asked with shining eyes. "I've enjoyed every minute of it."
I let go of his hand to hit him in the stomach. He choked out a breath, though I hadn't hit him that hard.
"Why are you here?" I asked again.
"I'm supposed to invite you to dinner. My parents request the honor of your presence at our house this evening. Apparently, there are issues they need to discuss with you."
He made quotation marks with his fingers as he said "discuss." Air quotations were never a good sign.
"Any idea what the issues are?" I asked.
"No, and they're being weird about it. I think it's more than how are you doing in school, Alison. Donavan will be coming by, too."
I groaned. I'd only known Donavan for a couple of weeks. He was a cousin of Spencer's and was going to take over supervising the security guys protecting my family. Which was wonderful, except when he was around it usually meant I was going to get my butt kicked in an entirely different way.
The light clips of Lillian's steps echoed into the room. She stopped to stare down at us with aged eyes, her short white hair glowing like a halo in the suspended light. She looked a little bit like an angel, but I knew better.
"I'm locking up in half an hour," she said in a voice without inflection.
Ian smiled up at her. "Ah, my favorite reader of human thoughts. You're always so warm and welcoming."
Her response was to blink once. It might have been her way of laughing or her way of flipping him off. It was difficult to interpret Lillian's reactions to things. Mostly because they were all the same. I loved her in spite of it.
There were reasons why she came off as cold and distant. I didn't know all the details, but she'd gone through something terrible in the past. Whatever it was had hurt her enough that she'd withdrawn from everyone she knew and loved. Now she kept her distance as a defense mechanism.
Though she'd never actually said it, I knew she cared a lot about me.
Three years prior, she'd figured out I was dewing and quietly gone about helping me. She'd given me a job at the Shadow Box, allowed me the space I needed to deal with my situation, and generally made sure I kept my sanity.
On a few rare occasions, she'd opened up to me. Mostly to advise me not to follow the path she'd taken. She urged me to take chances, to trust people and to love them. She'd said there was no guarantee they'd stay, but if they left, I'd still have the memories.
I got to my feet and rotated my stiffening shoulders. "I'll practice for another five minutes and clean up," I said. "I'll be ready to leave in twenty."
Ian didn't move from the floor. "I'll wait here," he said, continuing to smile up at my boss.
She narrowed her eyes and pointed to the corner. "See those boxes? They need to be stacked."
"And you want me to do it," he said with a long-suffering sigh. "You should fire Alison and hire me instead."
Her hazel eyes had seen many, many years of life, and her unflinching stare could bore a hole into your soul. "You talk too much," she replied.
Ian got to his feet with the grace of a cat and put his arm over her bony shoulder. "You love me anyway," he whispered. "I know I'm your favorite."
She moved away from him and out of the room.
Ian rubbed his nose when she'd gone. "She's really warming up to me."
"What makes you think that?" I asked.
"I can tell these things. Maybe I can get her to say five sentences in a row tonight. The record is three, but I aim high," he said, then left to find her.
And that was the third thing that made Ian ... Ian. He loved a challenge.
Rolling my weight to the balls of my feet, I kicked and then punched the bag again.
Meeting Ian and his cousin Brandy had changed me. I'd been hiding from Sebastian in plain sight for years, dressing in blah clothes, barely talking to anyone, and staying away from social situations at all costs. The McKyes, my adoptive human family, meant everything to me. I'd withdrawn from the world to protect them. Sebastian had hunted me down anyway and threatened to torture and kill them if I didn't help him in his delusional plan for world domination.
Then Ian and Brandy came along and offered to help me take Sebastian out. Not only that, but Brandy had helped me get my life back. I felt awkward and even a little afraid at first, but she introduced me to people and pushed me to get involved in things again. She stuck by me the entire time. Eventually, I'd gotten back a bit of the happy, social girl I'd once been, despite moments of sadness because my life would have to change soon.
Breathing hard I kicked, spun, and elbowed my lifeless opponent for the last time. Then I walked to the small bathroom at the back of the store to clean up and change back into the clothes I'd worn to school.
I saved the hardest part of getting ready for last. Grabbing the brush I kept in the medicine cabinet, I started to detangle my mass of dark brown hair. It was thick, heavy, and long. Straight as a pin, it hung to the middle of my back. Dealing with the last snarl, I put get a haircut on my mental list of things to do.
When I stepped out, Ian and Lillian were waiting at the back door.
Lillian had her jacket on and her purse over her arm. "You usually stay late on Fridays," I commented. "Is something wrong?"
"My car wouldn't start this morning," she replied. "I took the bus in. I asked Ian to take me home."
He opened the door, and I chuckled when he mouthed the words "help me" behind her back.CHAPTER 2
While Ian drove out of the parking lot with Lillian in the passenger seat, I stayed behind to text my mom. I wanted to let her know there'd been a change of plans, and that I was going to have dinner at Ian's house. She proceeded to ask a million questions about my day at school and what I'd done at work.
Her constant concern and overprotectiveness used to bother me. It could still get annoying, but I appreciated it in a way I hadn't before. I wouldn't always have her around to nag me.
When I was finally ready, I took the drive to Ian's slowly.
Time was something I had more than enough of. The average dewing lived three hundred years. Plus at about twenty years old, we started aging at a snail's pace.
My special DNA gave me some pretty amazing recall. If you asked me what I'd been wearing three years ago on the same day, I could have told you. Not only that, but what I'd eaten for dinner and the time I'd gone to bed that night.
Another cool component was how quickly my body healed. I'd never been sick for more than twenty-four hours, and when I cracked a rib as a kid, it fused back together in a few days.
Then there was the mind control thing I could do. That was an entirely different level of freakish.
With few exceptions, the dewing could connect their mind to a human's and manipulate their thoughts. The term we used for it was "joining." I was a thoughtmaker and could join a mind to implant thoughts. Mine was the only kind of joining that worked on dewing minds as well as human minds.
Seeing Ian's place ahead, I pulled up to the gate and entered the code.
He called his house "the compound." His parents were the clan chiefs of the Thane clan and had more money than Midas. It was actually a contemporary-style mansion that fanned out in cube shapes, corners, and windows. It sat high on the east side and had an amazing view of the Las Vegas Strip.
Excerpted from Atlantis Quest by Gloria Craw, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2016 Gloria Craw. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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