Three terrifying months.
That’s how long Kitty Laughton has been at the mercy of the scientist who experimented on her town, killing over a dozen people and giving the rest of them unique powers. But Kitty doesn’t feel powerful, especially when she learns the crazy man plans to test his research on more unsuspecting people. She refuses to let anyone else die, but trapped with no one to help her she’s out of options…that is until sexy and exasperating Nick Degrassi arrives.
Special-ops soldier Nick blames himself for Kitty’s capture, and he’ll do whatever he can to free the quiet beauty, but close quarters and a shared secret bring an attraction that neither of them expected. With the organization that started it all making mercenaries for hire, Nick and Kitty must save themselves and stop a madman…before it’s too late.
The Altered series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Altered
Book #2 Avenged
Book #3 Absolved
About the Author
RITA® finalist Marnee Blake used to teach high school students but these days she only has to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn't writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book.
Find Marnee on the web at www.marneeblake.com, on Twitter @marneeblake, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorMarneeBlake/
Read an Excerpt
By Marnee Blake, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Marnee Bailey
All rights reserved.
Mistake. A huge mistake. It's not safe enough yet for this type of trial. I lost two rats only yesterday. Even a five percent mortality rate is too high, and we're at nearly twenty percent. Fields is going to kill someone.
Mark's thoughts tripped through Kitty Laughton's mind as she slouched on the examination table in the sparse white exam room. With her arm outstretched, she watched as the research assistant took her blood. Again.
That she noticed him at all was a huge feat. It had been weeks since she'd paid attention to anything.
It hadn't started that way.
At first, right after her capture, she'd listened to everything, while Dr. Fields worked through countless complications with Solvimine, the drug that made her hear thoughts. When Fields stopped coming to work on her himself, there had been three assistants before Mark and countless orderlies. Yet, she discovered nothing to help her.
After weeks of vigilance, she stopped. It was exhausting. Maddening. Disheartening.
But one benefit of being held hostage and constantly forced to stretch her mind-reading ability was she'd also learned to block everything out. What a relief.
The days stretched on. She'd expected her friends — Blue, Luke, even Jack — to come for her. They'd grown up together, in Glory, Colorado. They'd been changed together, by Fields's drug. They'd lost their families and become orphans together.
She'd even made progress getting to know Seth, the soldier who'd been unlucky enough to have been in Glory and been changed with them. She didn't make friends easily, yet she'd believed he'd come to like her.
But no one came to save her. Nothing changed.
After a while, she'd stopped bothering to block the world out with her power. She hadn't needed to. She hadn't cared enough.
Now, though, she listened.
An entire battalion of soldiers. I'm sure this isn't what they signed up for when they took this job, to be part of this psycho's ego trip.
Psycho's ego trip? Definitely Fields. She'd recognize his description anywhere.
"Fields is going to give them Solvimine. Against their will." Her voice was raspy. When had she spoken last?
Mark jerked, as if only remembering she was there. "Stay out of my head."
"You stay out of my head," she snapped back. He should stop thinking about it if he didn't want her to know. Surely he realized how this worked.
She stared at him, trying hard to hear more, as he removed one vial and replaced it with another. He glared back. Stay out of my head. Stay out. Stay out.
But though he intended to stop her with the singsong words, she saw what he wanted to hide.
Fields did plan to give the drug to the soldiers.
It would be disastrous. As far as she knew, no one else had taken Solvimine. Not since Fields used it on her town and killed almost everyone.
Her heart rate beeped faster on the monitor next to her. This couldn't happen.
As Mark finished the last vial, he stoppered it and took it across the room to the refrigerator, sitting to record something on the sheet there.
She wondered what Fields told his assistants and the orderlies about her. Even here, where the drug was best understood, she was an oddity, kept under lock and key, treated as if she was dangerous.
Her, dangerous. That was laughable. The other victims of the drug had received physical enhancements — telekinesis, amazing speed, and strength. Even Fields had taken it and become telekinetic. Yet she was kept in solitary confinement.
Kitty didn't get it. Her power was inconvenient at best, devastating at worst. If she hadn't relied on her "gift," she might have been more wary of Jeremy, the man who'd betrayed her, and avoided being captured by Fields in the first place.
As far as she knew, she was the only mind reader after the change. Fields was desperate to understand how that gift worked.
Then again, maybe no one cared how she was treated. Maybe they were compensated too well to question anything. Any time anyone began to speculate why she was there, they disappeared. Ignorance seemed to pay.
She retrieved the cotton ball Mark left for her, pressed it to the inside of her elbow, and covered it with a piece of medical tape, like the pro she was.
She blinked, determined to clear the past month's fog and piece together the facts around her.
The assistants and orderlies had visited her cell a lot in the beginning. Endless experiments, some of them causing nosebleeds and headaches, even a seizure. After that, though, they stopped testing the abilities she already had. Instead, they started in with the drugs. Drug after drug. She rejected food in cycles because they hid things in what she ate. She'd hold off for a day or so until, starving and thirsty, she couldn't take it any longer. She'd eventually eat, always ending up sick in some way, or knocked out. She'd wake with new bruises on her arms or obvious needle holes, even stitches. She would hurt for days, rejecting offers of pain medication because she didn't trust that what they were offering was, in fact, pain medication at all.
Eventually, she stopped her hunger strikes and accepted whatever they gave her. Yes, they would feed her what they wanted, but she needed to eat if she planned to live.
And she wanted to live. She couldn't help it.
As the days slipped by — she'd lost track of dates a while ago — they'd stopped coming as often. Her only contact with the world would be when her food tray slipped into the slot in her door. This was the first time in over a week that she'd seen anyone from the lab.
Now, she got it. They hadn't needed her anymore to study Solvimine. Fields thought it was ready for prime time.
She scanned the sterile room. There was only Mark and an orderly, the examination table and then another table full of medical supplies and scientific equipment.
This exam room was different than the one in Fields's first hideout. A while ago — again, no telling how long — she'd been drugged and had awakened in a new cell, nicer than the first. Much nicer. And there'd been this exam room, much better equipped than the last one.
Fields had received new funding. No one told her who — no one told her anything, and they kept their thoughts bland — but there was money here. A lot of money.
It didn't matter, not now. What did matter? Getting out of here. Saving others from her fate. Or worse, the fate of her parents.
She hadn't considered escaping in a long time. She'd tried three times in the beginning. She shivered, remembering waking up in a straitjacket.
That hadn't been pleasant.
But people were going to die. More people. And Mark knew. He knew people could die. What was the matter with him?
Her hands fisted and anger coursed through her. He should do the right thing. He should tell management. He should go. She glared at the back of his head, sending the silent demands at him like daggers.
He lowered the pen he'd been writing with to the table. "I should tell management. It's the right thing." He lifted his head. "I should go right now." He stood and squared his shoulders, suddenly purposeful.
No way. Those were her words. Exactly those words.
Had she done that? There was no other explanation for his sudden change of heart. She'd put her thoughts in his head.
Horrified, she gasped, covering her mouth. It broke the spell. Mark halted on his way to the door, shaking his head. "What the ..." He turned, pointing at her. "That was you. Wasn't it? You did that." He spun toward the door and pressed the big red security button there.
This was bad. She had to move. Now.
Acting fast, she dove for the counter next to her, coming up with the needle he'd used to take her blood. Closing her fist around it, she lunged at Mark, plunging off the table, the needle over her head.
The rage was intoxicating. It filled her, completed the places that had been empty.
Mark caught her wrist, holding it away from him. She cried out, the sound primal, like an animal. Her hand drove relentlessly toward Mark's neck. His eyes widened and fear passed through them. The adrenalin coursed through her, giving her more strength than she'd ever imagined possessing. The tip of the needle inched closer and closer to his skin.
Then Mark's thoughts blasted into her head, a string of chaos. No words, only emotions, raw and jagged. Terror. That was fine with her. He should be scared. After what they'd done to her, let them be afraid.
But it was the helplessness that made her waver. She knew helplessness too well. Her hesitation gave him the upper hand. He yanked her arm back, drawing the needle away from him.
The familiar sting hit her in the hip followed by the just as familiar floating. Tranked.
In her anger-filled haze, she'd forgotten about the orderly.
Then, she knew nothing.
* * *
The wheels of the custodian bucket squealed as Nick Degrassi pushed it with the mop down the corridor.
He moved slowly behind it, humming, like any janitor might when alone scrubbing floors at night. Dressed in the one-piece green jumpsuit of Goldstone's custodial staff, he worked the mop in the methodical way he learned during basic training: section by section, in the creases, doubling back to be sure he didn't miss any spots. The job didn't require much attention. He'd always been a perfectionist, so cleaning came naturally to him.
Instead, he spent the time counting the rooms and minutes until he got to where they were keeping Kitty.
He'd been at the Goldstone building for two weeks. He wanted to be here sooner, but it had taken some time to get through the military red tape.
Damn military and their bureaucratic bullshit.
Sure, they had a right to mistrust him. After all, Nick, his friend Seth, and Seth's girlfriend, Blue, had pretty much destroyed an entire building at Fort Sam Houston. The Army was not pleased with them.
Not that he'd had much to do with the actual destruction. He'd been there, though, and gotten a first row seat while Seth and Blue did the heavy lifting. He had to admit, the image of Blue, bloody from a bullet wound to her shoulder, her short hair standing on end as she used her telekinetic powers to rip apart a wall? Something he'd never forget. And he'd seen some pretty messed up stuff.
So, Seth and Blue had been forced to retreat to her mother's trailer in Idaho to lay low, and he'd gone to play nice with the brass. He'd set up a meeting with Major Martins, the officer who'd turned them in, to make peace. Between them, they'd established that they needed each other — Nick and his friends because they were a small group, some boasting extraordinary powers, but alone with few resources; the Army because they were searching for a madman who'd given people super powers — and they'd devised a plan to work together.
The Army wanted to find the doctor who'd done this and stop him before he could create any other special people. Nick, Seth, and Blue had agreed to assist in exchange for leniency.
The Army's goal served Nick's more personal aim. If they found Fields, they'd find Kitty. He hated thinking of her locked away somewhere, with no one to help her.
Rationally, he knew they'd located her in good time. Goldstone was a premier military contractor, secretive and sketchy. They had ways to hide pretty much anything. If he'd tried to find her alone, even with his military training, it would have taken much longer. Even then he might have failed. This had been the only option.
That hadn't helped him sleep these past months.
It had been worse because Martins had sidelined him while the intelligence guys tracked her down. Nothing bothered him more than being out of the loop. But Martins had insisted he do the first phase of special operations training, as originally planned in his military orders, while the spooks searched for Fields. Nineteen grueling days at Fort Bragg. Martins had been adamant. It would prove Nick's dedication, he'd said. Besides, recovering Kitty was a covert operation, and Nick needed special training. When Nick had argued, Martins had pointed out that there were soldiers better trained for the job. He'd suggested they didn't need Nick at all. That had shut him up.
When the time came, he needed to be the one to get her out. It was on him. He should have seen what his roommate, Jeremy, had planned all those months ago. He would be the one to fix the mistake.
So, here he was. They'd suspected Fields was working with Goldstone again, and that Goldstone had tucked him back under their umbrella when they'd discovered the drug worked. They also suspected that Goldstone wanted to keep an eye on the doctor, in case damage control was needed. Again.
But Fields's whereabouts had been unclear until recently. Martins believed the cover-up went high into the ranks at Goldstone, but the legal channels to track Fields were slow. There was little concrete evidence against him, nothing to force Goldstone to hand him over. While Martins pursued the lawful aspects, Nick and three other covert operatives applied for work at Goldstone. The other three landed jobs in security, but Nick didn't have their military experience yet. Those guys were older, each with over six years in special ops. Nick had enlisted at eighteen, but that was only three years ago. Martins had forged a medical discharge for him, so Goldstone's HR hadn't been able to offer him a job in security. Instead, they'd suggested a job in the custodial department, complete with a cushy benefit package. It had been a blessing in disguise. Next thing he knew, he was packed off to a super secret research facility in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Thanks, Martins. Nick didn't know how he'd done it, but he had gotten them in. That was the power of the military.
Nick had arrived before the others, two weeks ago, to give him time to find Kitty. The other three arrived two days ago — he'd needed to wait for them before he could move on rescuing her. The plan was that he would get her out through the ventilation system while the others secured Fields.
Nick tried not to think, over the past three months, of what Kitty was doing. He had to think she was well.
He hoped he was right.
He turned the corner, toward the high security wing. The bored guard sat on the other side of the gate, flipping through a Men's Health magazine. Nick touched his fingers to his brow and flashed his badge.
The guy reached under his desk. A buzzer sounded, and the gate's locking mechanism triggered. Nick pulled it open, held it with his hip, and pushed his bucket through. The guard's brow furrowed. "You new?"
"Yeah, man. Started a couple weeks ago."
"Huh. Well, only one prisoner right now. Down at the end." He jerked his thumb in that direction. "Let me watch her door while you clean in there. She's not much of a physical threat. But don't talk to her," he warned. "She knows things." He tapped his temple, obviously meaning to scare him. Instead, the way he said it pissed Nick off. She was a person, for Christ's sake.
The guy — Leon, his badge read — stood then and turned his back, digging into his pocket for his keys.
From his own pocket, Nick pulled the tranquilizer gun he'd lifted from a distracted guard two days ago. Leon made a satisfying thud as he crumpled to the ground. Working fast, his eye on the camera in the corner, Nick hoisted the guy the best he could, dragging him across the floor. He was heavier than he looked, but Nick got him propped in the seat behind the desk. Leon's head lolled, but he hoped it would buy him some time. If anyone glanced at the security camera, maybe they would think the guard had nodded off.
The keys had slipped out of Leon's grasp when he fell, skating across the floor. Nick snagged them on his way by. Damn, so many.
Only one door was closed at the end of the hall. He tried three keys before one turned in the lock. The door swung open.
Inside, the room was dark. Nick didn't know if that was by Kitty's choice or an enforced punishment. He'd heard she'd been involved in some sort of scuffle in the medical wing yesterday morning.
Not sure what he might find, he reached for the light switch.
"You should leave that off, Nick. There are cameras in here, too." Her soft whisper crept out of the shadows.
Excerpted from Avenged by Marnee Blake, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2016 Marnee Bailey. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very unique and enjoyable story. Keeps you on the edge!
I liked this even more than "Altered", and that is saying a lot! Kitty and Nick are both so GOOD and sweet... And I love how similar, yet different, they are. The action is cool, but I really enjoyed the Telepath and Telekinetic truly getting to shine in this installment. The discovery Kitty makes and her ability to use it adds another layer that is downright fun. The relationship between Kitty and Nick is a nice, slow build, and I loved how they get to know one another. The attraction is basically there from the start, but their emotional connection grows and then blossoms beautifully. The intimate scenes are sexy and very natural. I loved how Kitty could see how Nick saw her in his mind. It was an amusing to consider that aspect of her powers, and how different her perspective and his were. Seeing her opinion of herself grow and change, in part because of how he saw her was a real highlight, as well. Very fitting of a New Adult story. This has a very X-Men First Class vibe to it, complete with a former ally turning on them because they are "superior" and "evolution is the next step". I happen to be a big X-Men fan, so I thought it was awesome. :) I received a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.com for an honest, unbiased review. This in no way influenced my review. My opinion is my 100% own.
Title: Avenged - Altered Series 2 Author: Marnee Blake Published: 6-27-2016 Publisher: Entangled Publishing Pages: 213 Genre: Romance Sub Genre: Women's Fiction; Adult Fiction ISBN: 9781633755731 ASIN: B01GNYVNVG Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars Survivors of the of the chemical release in the town of Glory try to hide from Fields and the others responsible for the deaths of friends and families. The struggle to survive in their new reality of the aftermath. Kitty unfortunately was betrayed and turned over to her captors and now suffers through testing and drugs and in her despair has given up. Not so Nick who is determined to do whatever is necessary to rescue her. Then she is recaptured, this time with Nick. Can the escape all over again? Will their attraction be a help or a hindrance? Will Kitty's enhancements drive them apart or will they be the key to them obtaining freedom? This is the second book and the series and I do not recommend reading book two, Revenged if you have not read book one, Altered first. I found myself a bit lost without a better background story than is in Avenged. I liked how well the characters were developed and how they interacted, I felt for Kitty and Nick and the self doubts and personal guilt kept them from trusting their feelings. It made them seem more real. The plot of the story keeps your interest from beginning to end and moved a quick pace. If you like science fiction with romance rolled in for good measure then I believe you will love Marnee Blake's Altered series. I look forward to seeing if she continues the high standard in future books. My rating is 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Kitty was a survivor. Dr. Fields had used a drug on Kitty’s whole town and it killed almost everyone but Kitty and a few others made it. Kitty had waited for her friends to come for her: Blue. Jack,or Luke they had grown up together.They had become orphans together and they had been changed by Fields together. But they didn’t come. Seth a soldier that had been in the town had also been changed but he also was gone. The change in Kitty was she could hear other people’s thoughts. At first Kitty listened to everything after awhile she just stopped as Kitty had learned nothing that would help her herself get free. Now Kitty just blocked the world, she didn’t care. While being held hostage Kitty was forced to stretch her mind reading ability. Kitty was treated like she was dangerous no one else was put in solitary confinement in a cell and if anyone speculated why Kitty was in solitary confinement and in a cell they disappeared. Other victims given the drug got telekinesis or amazing strength or speed as far as Kitty knew she was the only mind reader. At first assistants and orderlies visited Kitty’s cell alot, they were endless experiments some causing nosebleeds and headaches even a seizure. Then they stopped testing Kitty’s ability. Kitty wanted to escape and save others from her fate or worst her parents fate of death. Then Nick is sent to get Kitty out. Very good story although at times it seemed to drag a little for me. But I never gave up on the story it kept me wanting to find what would happen next. I was a little disappointed in the ending but it was totally explained. The plot was great and the story was well written. You felt like you were right in the story with the characters and I loved that. I also loved the characters and the twists and turns Kitty and Nick went through. I liked the twists and turns of the story itself. I recommend. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
My Review: I loved the first book in this series just for how creative the set-up for the entire world was. While this one picked up right where the first left off, it had a slightly different feel just because the group we got to know in the first novel is fractured. The main story though involves Nick trying to free Kitty from the jail/complex/medical facility where she's being held. In the first book, Kitty was a meek, mild little thing...overwhelmed by her new power to read minds. In this book she's been jailed and basically tortured for 3 months. She's so over any of those things that held her back before. If she gets an opportunity she's going to take it, no matter who she has to run over in the process. Her opportunity comes from Nick. He's had a crush on Kitty from the very start, but in the first book she was betrayed by his roommate, so she places him in the same cocky jerk mold as his roommate, although he's done nothing to earn that judgement. It takes a long time for Kitty to trust Nick and her own judgement throughout this story. She didn't see the betrayal coming in the last book and that's how she ended up imprisoned. For Nick, he feels so guilty about the fact that Kitty got taken and it has taken so long for them to get her freed. He sees her as such a strong character which she doesn't see at all. And that brings up an interesting point in this story...Kitty can hear Nick's thoughts and still doesn't trust his motivation for a long, long time...and I understand that her track record is to blame for this. While I did still enjoy this novel and the setup for the story line, I had one major issue with all the confrontational scenes. Various men were running away with various things and people. Everyone has some modicum of power that they can wield on the others to stop their momentum. Over and over again, they would confront the bad guy and then people would get frozen. OMG, don't confront the bad guy...just shoot him in the head, then he can't freeze you. It was such an obvious solution, but I know...then there would be no climactic confrontations. But I felt like I was watching a bad movie and yelling at the screen..."Shoot him, now, before he or someone else freezes you!" But maybe that's just me. :D But even with that I did enjoy the book and can't wait for more in the series. Now they have to catch up with that other guy...there's always one who gets away. I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Entertaining follow up to Altered, but you definitely will want to read it before this one if you haven't already. Kitty, while unique gets a little down on herself quite a bit, and I liked her best towards the end when she toughened up and stood up for Nick and crew. I'm excited to see what is next for our ragtag group of originally enhanced or to coin the description Martins used once"super-powered punks" lol. This book spends some time working two different but intersecting story lines and prepping us for what I am assuming, and hoping, is Luke's book. This is a relatively quick read, the story flows well and in a manner that keeps you engaged and not losing interest. If you are looking for a sweet in spots romance, with some intrigue, super powers and a vast group of characters to grow on pick this up! This was a complimentary e-copy provided by the author/publisher in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.
This is a very interesting story. If you like superhero type stories then this one is a must read. I didn't read book 1 but I loved this one. It's Kitty and Nick's story. Kitty was changed when a drug was tested on her town. Also the time when she lost her parents. Now she is a prisoner, treated as lab rat, experimented on, and also feared. Her gift is rare. She can read minds. Nick is normal. He is there to rescue her. But instead of escaping with her he gets them caught. Now they are both prisoners. But there seem to be a lot more going on than experimentation. Nick will have to take drastic measures to rescue her and himself. Outside help might not be available to them. They will have to count on themselves to get out of their prison. It's a thriller, sci-fiction, romance, all three at once. It's very well-written with interesting story line and unique characters. I loved Kitty and Nick. Their story is definitely worth reading. But I wish I had the chance to read Book 1 first then I would've known the background. In any case it was a great read.
I couldn’t wait to read this sequel to the author’s fantastic debut novel, Altered. I had found that “an enthralling, all action, riveting and brilliantly written story - superb!” and really wanted to know what happened next - and I wasn’t disappointed. This is another page turner, a brilliant sequel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It starts some three months after the first novel ended. For all that time Kitty Laughton has been injected, tested, prodded, poked and imprisoned by the mad scientists who carried out the experiment which killed her parents and most other people living in her isolated home town. They’re intrigued by the special powers the experiment has caused her to develop - the power to read the thoughts of others. When she learns the crazy man intends to test his research on more unsuspecting folk she feels powerless to protect them - until the new cleaner starts. That cleaner is the special ops soldier, Nick Degrassi, and he’s infiltrated the secret base to try to free her whilst still endeavouring to keep his feelings for her hidden from her. They need to work together to overturn the evil plans of the wicked scientist and his minions but time is running out and there are others hiding their true intentions. With more danger to be overcome, villains to thwart and double dealing ‘friends’ things are not going to be simple for this couple as they try to protect each other and mankind. The relationship between Nick and Kitty develops as they develop the confidence to reveal their feelings to each other, slowly, warily but also realistically in the circumstances. It is an exhilarating story, a roller coaster ride where you’re unsure what will happen around the next corner. This is a phenomenal addition to the series and I thoroughly recommend it - I hope there will be another book in the series soon! Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too, for letting me read this in exchange for my honest review.