A love for the ages...but will it survive the final test?
Since their last battle, life for the Mortal Machine-the secret-society that protects Earth and its inhabitants from dark outside forces-has become almost...normal. For everyone but Addison. The evil she's imprisoned in her soul has begun eating away at her sanity, and despite her soul mate Asher's efforts to hold her together, it's causing painful and terrifying delusions.
Consequently, nobody believes Addison's warnings that Marcus, their old enemy, has returned. When Marcus threatens Asher and the Machine, she agrees to find what he seeks-a treasure that, in his hands, could be deadly.
If she relies too much on Asher, she knows he'll likely imprison her, if only to preserve what's left of her deteriorating mind. But if she fails this final test, Earth will fall. So Addison is forced to distance herself from her love, to prevent the life she wants with Asher from being over before it truly begins.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Mortal Machine Novel
By Jocelyn Adams, Tracy Montoya
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Jocelyn Adams
All rights reserved.
I crossed my arms and stared up at Remy, pressing my lips together so I wouldn't burst out laughing. Remy didn't squirm often, and I was enjoying the hell out of it. The big guy stared up at the shining red behemoth, its metal tracks towering two hundred feet over our heads. The color drained out of the six-foot-seven Polynesian's complexion, and even the tribal-tattooed half of his shaved head paled.
"Not this one," Remy said in his creole mix of Hawaiian and French-Canadian English. "It go straight up and straight down."
Asher looped his arm around my neck and pulled me against him. His coconut scent and strength grounded me further in the bliss of the most normal moment I'd ever had. "I've seen you rush into a swarm of wraiths without breaking a sweat, brother, and you're getting queasy over one little roller coaster?"
His laughter washed over me like rain. I'd heard a lot of it this summer, the best one ever. Nothing was wrong in the world as long as he was touching me. Now that our war with the wraiths was finally over — mostly — we'd indulged in lots of hands-on delights. Mostly with our clothes off.
If only I could take him into my dreams with me.
"Little?" Remy thrust his tattooed hand toward the ninety-degree drop. "I know big, an' this big."
"You promised." I grabbed Remy's hand before he could fold his arms together and think himself out of our last bit of fun. "You promised to ride one roller coaster with me before I go off to my second first day as a university student tomorrow." Archaeology had once been my passion, but after learning most of our artifacts on Earth were influenced by cultures on other planets, it had lost its appeal. This time around, I was majoring in psychology. It seemed a logical choice to support my role as the Architect for the Mortal Machine.
I winked at Sophia, his girlfriend and my best friend in the world.
"And I hold the grand opening of my very own Paris boutique," she said, beaming. She used to be our Outfitter, the person responsible for equipping Machine sentinels before battle, and had a gift for design. Since last month, after killing the last wraith trapped on our side of the veil, we'd had nothing to do but soak up the sun and become the family we were meant to be.
Well, most of us had.
I had an unwelcome passenger in my soul. He was being immature about our unfortunate situation despite being a former king of a reality parallel to ours. Baku was a wraith — a soul ripped from his body in a violent explosion that happened thousands of years ago. The race of giant insect creatures destroyed their planet, as in full-on kaboom, and their reality had become a cold, dead void.
Baku and his kind had tried to take over our reality and possess the living here, and in an epic battle eight weeks ago, I had imprisoned him inside my body with help from my new family. The catch was, his presence there was a bit like demonic possession — he could talk to me and attempt to take control of my body, though some newfound control I'd discovered kept him quiet while I was conscious.
Which was why I'd been awake for forty-eight hours and counting. I was almost at the limit my mind could take without breaking down. If that happened, the king could bust out of prison and use me as a puppet to wreak havoc for my refusal to use my Architect mojo to reunite the realities so he could get back to the wife he'd lost.
And then we'd all be screwed in any number of ways, and Baku would be the least of our troubles. I'd recently had a glimpse into the societies that inhabited the planets in the alternate realities, and Earth would fall in ten seconds flat if we were thrown into the same universe together again.
None of us really knew what would happen to me after prolonged exposure to Baku. But I had my theories, and none of them was good. At the very least, if he gained the upper hand, I'd be a prisoner in my own body, lost and destined for a bullet to the brain. Once someone was possessed that thoroughly, destruction of the brain was the only way to get a wraith out of a body.
The war might have been over for everyone else, but mine continued and would for the rest of my life.
I shook off the dark turn of my thoughts and elbowed Remy. "Are you going back on your promise?"
He groaned, and Sophia covered a laugh with her delicate hand. Instead of her usual multicolor hair, she'd dyed it back to her natural blonde and left one streak of bright red at the front. In her skinny jeans and asymmetrical red top, she was eye-catching. "It's the last day of summer, Remy. As of tomorrow, most of us sentinels are going off to start our normal lives. Sure, we'll see each other every night in the village, but it won't be the same. Come on. I'll let you hold my hand if you promise not to crush it."
She stretched up and kissed his cheek. Three months ago, she'd never have touched him like that even though she wanted to. A past full of abuse had kept them apart until the battle with Baku had finally brought them together — as romantic partners and power-sharing conduits in the Machine. Mostly. She still startled at any sudden movements.
Remy remained perfectly still, though he sighed, his shoulders flattening out of their painful-looking hunch. "Okay, but only 'cause you ask so nice."
Sweetest giant ever.
"Woo-hoo!" Grinning, I grabbed Asher's hand, and we raced along the rope maze that was mostly empty given the approach of closing time.
We made it to the loading zone just as the car arrived in the bay. I'd never seen anything like it. Twelve seats across and three rows deep, it appeared more like a set of bleachers than a roller coaster car. Remy and Sophia had never been to an amusement park before today, and their first roller coaster was going to be a doozy.
When the gate opened, I moved into the front row of seats, ignoring Remy's grumbling at my back. Asher sat beside me, then Sophia, and Remy came in on the end. A few other people climbed into the rows behind us, and the attendant lowered the rigid shoulder harnesses that barely fit over Remy.
"I love you, Addy, but I kinda hate you right now," he said.
After a check on all of our restraints, the attendant went back to his booth, and we were rolling. "Onward and upward!" I shouted, raising my arms. It really felt that way. Before the battle with Baku, I wasn't sure any of us would see the other side of it. Now that I'd gotten control of the king, at least during the day, the future lay out before me like a never-ending adventure. It wasn't an exaggeration. We were demi-immortal, living forever without aging, unless someone dealt a killing blow to our vital parts.
Asher tipped his head forward and peered around his harness, his grin apparent in his eyes. The jade-star iris in them appeared bright against the ice blue, marking him as a sentinel of the Mortal Machine. "Bet you'll scream," he teased, a dark glint in his stare. "I know you've got a set of lungs on you."
I kicked him, feeling heat slide into my cheeks. "Shut up, I do not scream."
"Then why did we have to soundproof the cabin walls, hmm?"
Remy's and Sophia's laughter let me know they'd heard, but I couldn't help but join in. That wasn't the only reason we'd soundproofed our bedroom, though Asher would never admit to the other reason. The four of us had shared a cabin on the Mortal Machine compound before my Baku-induced nightmares had made it necessary for Remy and Sophia to take a cabin of their own, though they still didn't share a bed. I wasn't sure Sophia would ever be ready for that.
We all shut up when the car began its ascent, clicking and jerking as we climbed higher and higher. Okay, so maybe this hadn't been my best idea tonight. I'd had this dumb thought that packing in twelve hours of fun would wear me out enough so I'd sleep right through the king's shenanigans, leaving me clearheaded for my first day of classes.
The ground was way down there now, where I'd left my stomach. Holy crap, we were a long way up. A sense of vertigo swept over me, and my fingers tightened on the harness.
Finally at the top, we rounded a corner and stopped at the edge, the position dangling us two hundred feet in the air with nothing but a straight drop of track beneath our legs.
Remy cursed, and Sophia squealed.
A brilliant light flashed in my eyes as we hung there. I shook my head as it began to throb. It was as if someone had turned on the sun for only a second. Weird. I shrugged it off. If that was the strangest thing to happen to me today, I'd take it.
A click, and we dropped. The wind and descent wrenched my stomach against my ribs. Goose bumps prickled along my arms. Why was it so cold all of a sudden? Not only on my skin, but inside my mind, like an ice cream headache multiplied by a thousand.
White mist billowed up from below, and an eyeless face emerged at the bottom of the drop. For a moment, time stopped, and everything fell silent save for the thundering of my heartbeat in my ears.
I've found you, little rabbit, a familiar voice echoed through my ears, and I will make you remember.
Oh God, he'd sounded like Marcus. In life, the former Mortal Machine sentinel had medium-length blond hair and a psychotic god complex. But it couldn't have been him. I'd killed his ass several months ago, ripped out his soul and sent it through the veil to Baku's old world with the other wandering dead — to whom Marcus had shown more loyalty than the living.
Screams erupted all around me again, but I found no air as Marcus's wraith hit me in the chest, passed through to chill my lungs, and disappeared out the back of me.
Finally, the ride came back to the loading zone. The harnesses lifted to reveal Asher staring at me with worry creasing his brow beneath a swath of black hair.
I exhaled hard, fighting to keep from hyperventilating. "Did you see it, too?" I squeaked.
He leaned toward me and took my hand, pressing his lips close to my ringing ears, and whispered, "Whatever you saw wasn't real, but one of Baku's delusions."
I wanted to argue, because it had felt pretty damn real, but I let him guide me to the platform and gripped his hand as Remy and Sophia talked excitedly about the ride as they came out behind us.
Thank hell for Asher. He hadn't always been able to keep my issues private from the other sentinels, but I was glad he had tonight so I hadn't ruined our outing.
The king shifted inside me, his emotions boiling against my inner walls like a swarm of stinging bees. That had never happened when I was awake — I'd heard his voice before, but I only felt him moving when I was asleep. The fact that Baku was starting to break through my control of him only added to the dread climbing my bones like black fire.
It wasn't possible, I told myself silently. The whole reason I'd imprisoned Baku in the first place was so Asher could mix the Mortal Machine's power with the king's and use it to seal the veil shut — with Marcus's wraith soul on the other side of it. Asher was worried only about me, not something he sensed out there, where the wraiths lurked in the frozen void.
Where they'd stay. Right?
Asher put his warm arm across my cold, bare shoulders and rushed us behind one of the fences dividing the ride areas. I shivered. Remy and Sophia continued to chat, but the drop in their tone made me think they'd realized not all was well in the Addison Inn.
"I'm sorry," I said, turning into Asher, his solid form vibrating with anger.
"Nothin' to be sorry for, Addy," Remy said, and Sophia's hand swept down my back.
Asher sighed. "The only one who needs to be sorry is Baku when I find a way to hold the veil shut without him. Hear that, you prick? Once that happens, I'll take great pleasure in snowing you myself." Wraiths turned to snow when we killed them. I surmised it was because their destroyed reality was so cold.
I wanted to remind him that the only way to get a super powerful wraith like Baku out of a fully possessed person was to kill the host, but my shredded nerves couldn't bear it at the moment. We could force out regular wraiths by combining Machine power, but it likely wouldn't be possible to extract Baku from me without him shredding my mind in the process.
The great beating heart filled my chest as it always did when one of us called the Shift. Our founder Izan had created it to hide Earth from Baku's reality; it was made up of hundreds of false realities that surrounded our own. Very little existed in the layers, other than pretty landscapes and a few bugs, though I'd built our Machine village where we all lived in one of them. Fewer layers existed since our last battle, but we could still use the Shift as a kind of wormhole to move from place to place in the true reality. We'd simply think of the place we wanted to go here on Earth, ascend into the Shift, and then zip back down again to that place in a matter of seconds.
I didn't watch the strange landscapes whiz by as Asher took us through the layers to the village. Now that I was safe in his arms, my mind fixed on every detail of Marcus's voice, his wraith form that had seemed larger than it should have given his average height in life, and the cold that always accompanied the presence of the dead.
I needed to talk to Asher alone.
The lapping of water and eerie silence filled my ears as we materialized on the wooded path in the Machine village. It was dark, save for those cabin windows that still had lights on at almost midnight, dots of brightness around the large lake that took up the center of our home compound.
"It'll be all right, Addison," Sophia said.
Why didn't I believe her? "Yeah, I'm sure it was nothing." I couldn't even look at her when I said it.
Asher released me, keeping my hand locked in his as if that could stop my potential slip into the hell that waited to eat me up. Baku continued to twist inside me, and a distant echo of his voice whispered in my inner ear as we plodded up the steps and entered our cabin. I broke away, frantic to make sense out of what I'd seen. Asher followed behind, a silent wall of unasked questions. The great room was dark, the lights over the sink in the open-concept kitchen the only illumination.
"You haven't suffered a delusion in weeks," Asher said. Although his voice was gentle and free of accusation, it still sent a jolt through me. "Since you started meditating with Remy, you've been solid."
I dropped onto the sofa and clutched a pillow to my chest. "This didn't feel like a delusion." I couldn't look at him as he sat on the coffee table in front of me. "Baku's delusions are ... I don't know, two-dimensional once I get over my fright enough to realize it. This was visceral, touching all of my senses."
Asher sat down beside me, slipped his fingers under my chin, and forced me to meet his gaze. "What did you see? For seconds, you stopped breathing on the roller coaster, and I almost grabbed you and took you up to the Shift in front of all those people."
"You're going to think I'm crazy." I laughed without humor. "Crazier than normal, I mean."
"I love your crazy. Just tell me."
My momentary smile crashed as the vision filled my mind again. I shivered. "Is it possible, even remotely, that Marcus could find a way through the veil despite our ginormous efforts to keep him out? I thought this was over when I swallowed the king, but what if it isn't?"
Marcus had spent most of his very long lifetime trying to destroy the Mortal Machine through several of my incarnations, and had somehow gained an above-average amount of power for himself. I'd finally managed to kill him in this lifetime, but his wraith was still out there, beyond the veil in Baku's hellish world. Waiting.
Brows dipping low over his fierce eyes, Asher said, "No, it's not even remotely possible. From the moment you took the king, and I sent our collective power to the veil to strengthen it, I've been connected to that membrane the way I'm connected to my own skin. For a while, I could feel the wraiths touching the other side of it, but our power repelled them like an electric fence. It's been untouched for weeks."
I released my stranglehold on the pillow and blew out my tension. "Thank bloody hell."
"You've been up too long, and the king took advantage. That's all."
Excerpted from Forever Dusk by Jocelyn Adams, Tracy Montoya. Copyright © 2016 Jocelyn Adams. 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
Having devoured books 1 and 2 in the Mortal Machine series over a couple of days, I have to say I had high expectations for the concluding book in the trilogy. And they were met as Jocelyn Adams has brought us a fine finale; a complex story filled with emotion, action and which gives you no clues how Addison, Asher or the Machine's story will end. "I’m going to write a new ending to our cursed story." If you've not read the first two books go read them. They're not standalone reads, but together they make a gripping story and, with each book, this series has gone from strength to strength. We've seen Addison mature from a plaid-wearing, awkward student, intrigued with her brooding professor, into a determined young woman leading a group of demi-immortals and finding her true love amongst them. The Machine may have battled and overcome the wraith king, but it's not over; Addy is harbouring the evil deep-down within her and it's testing her sanity, her relationships and the race is on to save Earth. "I had no idea how to stop the bloody avalanche that had begun, but I would." Quite a bit of Forever Dusk is inner monologue between Addison and the wraiths within her and whilst at times it did become a little drawn out, it is vital and as the story builds, momentum gathers, and everything over the series comes together resulting in a read that I couldn't part myself from. My heart raced as I began to discover just how the story would end and then the tears came, because it pulls every emotion from you heading into the final chapters. "No matter what happens in our future, I will love you until there are no more days, no more hours, and no more minutes left in this existence." Turning the final page is bittersweet. These characters and their journey have consumed me and I've grown to love them. It is a true rollercoaster ride and for any lover of the paranormal/urban-fantasy genre, the Mortal Machine series is one I recommend.