Nobody hides forever.
Ever since Remy O'Malley discovered her dual identity as a Healer and a Protector, she's kept alive by staying one step ahead of both sides in this centuries-old war. Now someone's trying to draw her out of hiding, using her kidnapped father as bait.
To save him, Remy will need every friend she's got. But as new alliances form, old bonds fray. Her boyfriend Asher is losing his powers, becoming more mortal every time she touches him. Meanwhile, Remy finds herself growing closer to Asher's brother Gabe, even as a family tragedy drives her sister Lucy farther away.
On a rescue mission to London, Remy decides she's tired of being the hunted. It's time to end this war once and for all, as Protectors and Healers alike hurtle towards a final, violent confrontation that not everyone will survive.
Praise for Corrine Jackson's Touched
"A taut page-turner. . .Teens will thrill to the romantic tension of an attraction so destructive the couple can barely touch." VOYA
"The characters are so realistic; you can't help but imagine yourself as one of them. Thrilling and chilling!" RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
About the Author
Corrine Jackson is a San Francisco transplant, having lived on both coasts from Southern California to New York City. For the last seven years, she has sharpened her marketing talents at Alcone Marketing, where she has won several industry awards. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, and is in her third year of Spalding University’s MFA program. A recipient of a West Chester Poetry Conference scholarship, she is also the former Editor-in-Chief of two literary magazines, including Statement (CSU, Los Angeles) and Dash (CSU, Fullerton).
Read an Excerpt
By Corrine Jackson
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Corrine Jackson
All rights reserved.
I hid in the alley, painted in shadows and praying that I hadn't stepped in whatever caused the putrid scent burning my nose. Across the street, a lone pay phone—the first one I'd seen in the last hundred miles—stood under the glaring spotlight of a street lamp. Two more minutes, I promised myself. Two more minutes of cowering, and then run for the phone.
Warm fingers pressed into my back, seeking comfort and offering it at the same time. My half sister, Lucy, waited behind me, and I could feel how she shook. These last four months wed lived like hunted animals, and I knew what horrible thoughts might be running through her mind. At seventeen, she might only be a year younger than me, but our lives had been very different. I'd grown up used to violence, but this was all new to her.
My fingers trembled around the knife I gripped, and I used a cloth to wipe my warm blood from the blade. I lifted my thin T-shirt to tuck the weapon into the back of my jeans waistband and pressed a hand to my stomach when the torn muscles protested. The part of the plan where I had to be injured sucked.
"Well? See anything?" Lucy whispered into my ear, peering around me with wide brown eyes. Her heart-shaped face glowed white against her curly black hair, and she looked small and scared.
I shook my head and tucked a loose blond strand back under my ski cap. My body had frozen some time ago in the frigid January air, and I shoved my fingers into my bulky coat's pockets to thaw them. Then I dug for courage like it was buried treasure. One way or the other, this call would decide what path we would take next. We just had to make it out of this alive first. "It's time. Wait here. If anything happens or Asher signals, you run. You hear me?"
My husky voice sounded harsher than normal as I tried to swallow my emotions.
"Got it, Buffy."
She stumbled over the joke, her voice flat, but it didn't matter. That my sister could attempt to joke about me being as strong as Buffy nearly killed me. I could be brave for her. I lifted my chin, imagining my spine made of iron re-bar, and looked down at her one last time. Then I stepped out of the shadows and onto the sidewalk where anyone could see me. Nothing happened. No Healers or Protectors jumped out at me.
Maybe we really had given them the slip two days ago. Florida had been too close. A Protector had gotten his hands on Lucy. If Asher hadn't managed to take the guy down, I might have lost my sister. Wed been lucky that he was alone. We couldn't seem to lose our enemies for long, but we couldn't fight back, either, when they overpowered and outnumbered us. They held all the cards as long as they had my father. If he was still alive.
I looked both ways down the deserted street. Maple, Alabama, could be called many things, but never a party town. Home to a whopping 863 people, the town had one stoplight, a gas station, a diner, and a few small businesses lining the main street where we stood. Everything had shut down around six, as people went home to their families. As far as I could tell, Lucy and I were the only ones out on the street. Well, the two of us, and Asher, who hid somewhere nearby.
Earlier today, our trio had crashed for a few hours at a tiny motel sixty miles down the highway. Then we had packed our few belongings into the car, knowing that we might have to run in a hurry after I made this call. There was a very good possibility that our enemies were hidden, waiting for me to come out into the open. I shivered again, and then rolled my shoulders back.
Now or never, Remy.
I marched into the street, walking straight though it sent spikes of pain to my stomach. My steps echoed, and the sound encouraged me. That meant I would hear others approaching if they tried to sneak up on me. I cast another glance around when I reached the phone. Something crashed nearby, and I jerked in reaction, wincing at the pain. A cat screeched, and I shook off the bout of nerves. Then I picked up the receiver, dropped some coins in the slot, and dialed the number I knew by heart.
I counted three rings before a male voice answered. "Hello."
Memories crashed and tumbled into each other at the sound of my grandfather's deep voice. I once thought we could be family, but François Marche was incapable of loving anyone.
"Hello?" he repeated.
I swallowed, suddenly mute.
"Remy." He almost purred my name, the confident bastard. "I wondered how long it would take you to call. You lasted longer than I thought you would."
Four months. It had been four months since Id seen him, heard his voice, watched him threaten my family. My nails formed half-moon indentations in my palms when my hands tightened into fists. Please let my father be alive.
"Franc," I choked out.
"How are you, sweetheart?"
The fake concern reminded me of how nave I'd been, taken in by this huge hulk of a man towering over six and a half feet tall with crazy white hair and a booming laugh. My grandfather called me "sweetheart" in his old voice, the charming voice, as if he hadn't destroyed my life.
I buried my rage, keeping my tone light. "I'm a little tired from ditching your guys so often, but I cant complain. How about you? Sacrificed any Healers to your friends recently?"
If the Healer community he led knew how he'd betrayed them to the Protectors, they might rise up against him. Franc rationalized that sacrificing a few of his Healers to the Protectors would save the larger community.
Franc sighed. "I do what I have to. It doesn't have to be like this, Remy. You could stop it all."
Take their place, he meant. Unlike full-blooded Healers, I wouldn't die from the things the Protectors would do to me. I could be their rechargeable battery. Bile swam up the back of my throat as I pictured Asher the night we rescued him from my grandfather. Tortured, broken, hopeless. That would be my life if I caved to my grandfathers demands.
"Never," I whispered with revulsion.
"Think about it. Nobody else has to die."
Disgust and fury sharpened my words. "I have thought about it. I've had nightmares about it since the day you suggested it. You remember that day, right? Because I do. By the way, how's your stomach?"
Franc had tried to force me to kill my father, but I'd escaped using the greatest weapon I had—transferring my injuries to those who hurt me. The last time I'd seen my grandfather and his Protector allies, they'd been bleeding out from a stomach wound Id inflicted on myself.
"Healed," he bit out when I wondered if I'd gone too far bringing up the past. "You're more powerful than I gave you credit for. You caused me a lot of pain."
Smug satisfaction curved my mouth.
"You're lucky I'm not a man who believes in petty revenge. I don't think your father would survive what I'd do to him."
I gripped the cold metal ledge beneath the phone to stay upright. I had to try twice before I pushed the words past the golf ball wedged in my throat. "He's ... He's alive?"
Four months ago he'd kidnapped Ben, my father. My Protector blood came from Ben and, despite using them against me, Franc hated Protectors. I'd almost lost hope that my father could be alive after all this time. Hope swelled inside me in one giant, yawning ache. Don't hope yet, Remy. He lies.
"Franc?" My desperation grew. "Please," I begged.
"He's alive," he said softly.
Thank God. The relief threatened to burst out of me, and I covered my mouth to contain it. Moisture seeped through my T-shirt, and I bent at the waist to ease my burning stomach. Soon I would grow faint from blood loss. Just a little longer.
Franc's deep voice coaxed and cajoled. "You could be with him tomorrow. Come home, Remy. Come home, and I'll let him go."
If I believed him, we could end the misery of these last months. My father could return home to Blackwell Falls. My sister could go back to her life and school and her boy friend, Tim. They could start over in our small town. I wanted to give that to them.
As if he sensed my wavering, my grandfather rushed on. "Your mother wouldn't want this life for you. She would want you to help us."
Big mistake on Franc's part, thinking a mention of my mother would influence me. Anna had let my stepfather beat the shit out of me for years.
"Why did you take my father?" I asked.
"You already know why."
He wanted to control me and the powers Id inherited with my mixed Healer-Protector blood. And he wanted to experiment on me. Healer powers descended through the women of our bloodline, but Franc wanted to change that—the wanted to create male Healers. Something in the air shifted, and I glanced around, the hair prickling on my arms. "I have to go."
I started to hang up and he shouted, "Remy, wait!" I paused, and he added, "He's alive because I believe you'll come to your senses. But I won't wait forever. Think about that."
How had I missed the kind of man he was in those months I'd lived with him? I would never forgive myself for exposing my family and friends to him. I hung up on his threats and hunched my shoulders while I leaned against the phone booth. My breath puffed clouds into the air, and I shuddered. Anyone watching me would think me overcome with grief, but another kind of pain plagued me.
It didn't take long for them to show themselves. Asher's quiet whistle—three low chirps—signaled their arrival. One chirp for each man. Their footsteps echoed like mine had, thudding heavily. Healers then, like wed hoped. Protectors could have attacked without warning, and these men sounded bigger and heavier than me. Lucky for us, the men of the Healer bloodline had no powers, despite Franc's efforts. My heart pounded in anticipation, but I remained hunched over.
Warm breath lifted the hair at the nape of my neck in a moist gust, and I shivered.
"Remy," a man said.
I looked over my shoulder. Three twenty-something men of varying sizes circled me, blocking escape. A stocky brunette with arms wider than my neck and a tattoo of a snake circling his neck. A whipcord-lean blond held a lethal-looking knife, but his hand shook as if he feared using it. He had to be shorter than my five-foot-ten height by at least six inches. The last man looked familiar, and I guessed I'd seen him in Pacifica when I stayed with Franc. Bald and sporting the ugliest goatee this side of the Mississippi, he lacked muscles and a belt to keep his jeans up. But then, he didn't need to be muscle-bound with a gun in his hand.
Goatee-Man eyed my tall, skinny frame with disdain. "That was a stupid move calling your grandfather. He's had a trace on that line for months."
I twisted around. "I know."
I dropped my hands to my side, allowing my coat to fall open. Their eyes fell to my waist. Blood stained my navy cotton T-shirt a deep violet. The blonds eyebrows shot up. Snake-Tattoo took a huge step back, and Goatee-Man froze. Too late. My energy snapped through the air in a burst of red lightning that struck all three men. Wounds opened at their waists, the injuries duplicates of the stab wound I'd inflicted on myself in the alley twenty minutes ago. The injury would stun the men, but not stop them indefinitely.
I aimed to kick away the gun, but my body rebelled against the use of my powers with quaking knees and a thready pulse. Lucy appeared beside me, hooking her shoulder under my arm. I had six inches on her more petite frame, but she held up under my weight.
"Got you," she said.
"Lucy, the gun!" I warned.
Goatee-Man raised the weapon. I swiveled to put my body between my sister and him. A grunt sounded behind me, and I turned. Asher had stripped all three men of their weapons and knocked them to the ground so they lay spread-eagled on their stomachs. My boyfriend hadn't regained all the weight he'd lost in the months Franc held him hostage, but he possessed enough Protector strength and speed to take down a few powerless male Healers with ease.
Asher shoved a foot in Goatee-Man's back. "Okay?" he asked me, the British lilt in his voice more pronounced than usual.
His question was our shorthand for Are you okay? and Can you heal yourself? I nodded. I'm good. Asher heard my thought, and the muscles in his face eased slightly at my reassurance.
"I can't believe you fell for that," Lucy muttered to the men.
In addition to the Protectors, my grandfather's men had stalked us for weeks, tracking us from town to town. Wed hidden in a series of vacant homes, getting by on cold canned food and rare naps. Then Florida happened two days ago, and it had become clear that our strategy of running and hiding wasn't working anymore.
The plan to use my grandfather to lure the men in had been Lucy's idea, and Asher had gone along with it, much to my surprise. Usually, he vetoed any strategy that would put us in danger, but he hadn't hesitated this time. Desperation and fear had infected our trio these last months, causing us to take chances we normally wouldn't have. Wed needed to know whether Ben was alive so we could plan our next move. It didn't hurt that we could use this to put some space between our hunters and us.
I wavered on my feet, a little light-headed from blood loss. I cant believe I have another stab wound because of Franc.
Asher frowned at my bitter thought and ground his heel until the man he held down cried out. I slammed my mental walls up to block Asher from my mind. He didn't need my thoughts inflaming his hatred of the men.
"Now what?" Lucy asked.
"I saw them get out of that truck." Asher gestured down the road at a vehicle I couldn't see. His Protector vision beat out my twenty-twenty eyesight, and he could even see in the dark, so I believed him. He handed me the gun. "We can use it to move them. Wait here. I'll go get it."
"Ash—" I started, but he had already shifted into a run, the blur of his body barely visible. I sighed. "He forgot the keys."
"You're a traitor to your kind, turning your back on us for a Protector," Snake-Tattoo practically spat at me.
I knelt down so he could see my face. My quiet voice sliced through the air. "He is my kind. Or didn't Franc share that bit of news?"
His lips pressed together like he didn't believe me.
These men had probably never heard of someone like me with both Protector and Healer blood. Nobody had, which was why both groups hunted me—either to kill me or to use me.
"My grandfather isn't who you think he is. Ask him what really happened to Yvette."
The blond's eyes widened at the mention of the dead Healers name. Healer energy acted like a stimulant for Protectors, temporarily allowing them to feel the sensations of touch, smell, and taste that they'd lost decades ago. Franc had given Yvette to the Protectors as payment for their services, and they had tortured her to death to feel human for a few moments.
Snake-Tattoo looked away, and I gave up on convincing him. My grandfather had fooled them all into thinking he was their patron saint. I rose, wobbling a little as blood rushed to my head.
"Asher would make a killing as a thief," Lucy observed with a wry smile. She pressed her scarf to my waist to stanch the blood flow.
I followed her gaze and watched a truck speed toward us. Okay. My boyfriend knows how to hot-wire a car. He pulled to a stop a few feet from us, and Asher and Lucy worked together to move the men into the truck bed with a combination of force and threats. Until I had time to heal my injury, I wouldn't be lifting anything heavy. Asher clambered into the back of the truck to watch the men, while Lucy climbed behind the wheel and I took the passenger seat, holding the scarf at my waist.
Lucy drove toward our designated spot, an abandoned barn about five miles out of town. The scenery consisted of farmland and more farmland. We took a dirt road part of the way, and I bounced in my seat, almost crying out when my stomach screamed in agony. A trio of moans sounded from the back of the truck, and I guessed the men were wishing they'd driven a vehicle with better shocks.
"What are you waiting for? Heal yourself already," Lucy said.
I shook my head. "Not yet. Not until were away from them."
Healing myself or anyone else weakened me further. We couldn't afford for me to be out of commission. First, we had to take care of the enemy.
The headlights shone on the barn a few minutes later. The structure leaned to the right, and weather and hard use had aged the wooden walls to a pale gray. If it had been painted once upon a time, the color had chipped off long ago. The place looked like it would fall down any minute, but it would serve our purposes. Crops stretched into the distance with no other buildings in sight. That meant nobody would stumble across the men while we made our getaway.
Excerpted from Ignited by Corrine Jackson. Copyright © 2014 Corrine Jackson. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Remy, Asher, and her sister are on the run. The Healer’s are hunting them the Protectors are working with them and Remy’s family is in shambles. Now Remy has to find a way to stop them all and figure out a way to fix Asher and her relationship, her relationship with Gabe. Her relationship with her family needs fixing and she needs a way to figure out the full depth of her powers. Everything is coming down around her and she may lose everything. Ignited was a good ending to a great trilogy. I enjoyed the series a lot. Corrine Jackson is a fantastic author. The whole story is fabulous and I can’t wait to read more of Corrine Jackson’s books. So I am adding a spoiler in here so if you don’t want to know turn back now. Remy ends up with Gabriel, which after the last book and most of this book makes sense as to why the ended up together. Honestly though is it weird it freaked me out a little bit that Remy in book one and two thought about having sex with Asher and then she has moves that to having sex with her brother. That seems weird to me. I mean I get they were destined and all that, but it’s kind of ewie.
I loved the way it ended but at the same time I sad the its over. I could read more about these characters
I think this was a really good series. I'm a little sad that this ended. I liked the whole idea of Healers and Protectors. It's different from the other stories. I think the characters are marvelous. Each one had a great trait. Remy decided to take a stand and is determined to get her father back. She has learned more about herself and her powers. Oh Asher, why? He was not like the Asher I loved in the other books. I mean he's still a cool guy but not the same. What happened to him in the last book definitely changed him. I was utterly shocked and surprised by the status' of Remy's relationship but totally okay with it. There was more of Gabe. Mmmm so swoon worthy. When I finished the last book, I was hoping to see more of him in this one. I got my wish. So yeah, I enjoyed this book and I read through it quickly. I didn't want it to finish it, I wanted it to keep on going. *I received this book through NetGalley*
Loved it. From the very beginning this book surprised me. The author really did an excellent job of making me care about what the characters were going through. I laughed and cried right along with them. I'll be reading it very again soon.