From the author of the acclaimed Archangel Academy vampire trilogy comes a stunning new series about a girl determined to defy her fate--and reclaim her future. . .Something strange is going on with Dominy Robineau. All her friends in Weeping Water, Nebraska, have noticed--and it's way beyond teenage blues. As weeks pass, Dom grows consumed by anger, aggression, and violence, and she seems powerless to stop it. Then she turns sixteen, and things get really dangerous. When her best friend is murdered, Dominy's father is compelled to reveal the truth behind the darkness that threatens to both overtake and empower her. Her boyfriend, Caleb, swears they'll find a way to change her destiny. But others are hiding secrets too, and gifts that are far more terrifying than hers. And even as she struggles to control her new abilities, Dom must contend with an enemy who wants her to use the beast within to destroy all those she loves, before she destroys herself. . .
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MOONGLOWTHE DARKBORN LEGACY
By MICHAEL GRIFFO
K TEEN BOOKSCopyright © 2013 Michael Griffo
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThree Months Ago
"I am ugly!"
"You are not!" Jess yells.
"I am too!" I yell back. "Look at me!"
"I am looking at you," she replies. "And you look awesome as always."
"But ..." I know Jess has more that she wants to say.
"There is no but," she fake-protests.
"Yes, there is!" I argue. "I can hear it in your voice. But what?"
Jess lets out a long sigh and puts her hands on her hips; it's her straight-shooter stance. She's about to give me her honest opinion instead of trying to make me feel good about myself by telling me a lie.
"But you have got to rethink that outfit," she says finally.
"Really?" I ask, looking at my reflection in the mirror.
"You're meeting Caleb's whole family for the first time; you cannot go looking like you just landed the starring role in a new Disney channel sitcom," she admits. "Okay, for sure that would mean you're going to be on TV and make a lot of money and stuff, but you look like you're wearing a costume. Matching belt, shoes, and scarf? It's way too much."
And that's why Jess is my best friend.
"I should lose one of them?" I ask.
"You should lose all three," she replies. "Whatever made you think you could pull off lemon yellow?"
"You look great in lemon yellow!"
"Because I am like a walking ray of sunshine!" she screams. "While you, Dominy, are more like sunset. You know, when the sky is all mixed up and doesn't know if it wants to be red, purple, or blue. Or purply-blue. Or if you just want to let nighttime take over and wear all black."
Though sometimes she can be a little hard to understand.
"That really doesn't narrow down my choices," I say.
"Sure it does!" she disagrees. "Stay away from really bright colors and go more sultry and sophisticated."
And sometimes she doesn't know me at all.
"I can't be sultry and sophisticated! I'm only fifteen."
"You'll be sixteen in a few months! It's high time you started acting like an adult," Jess reminds me. "Like me."
It's my turn to adopt my straight-shooter stance, so I tilt my head to the side and cross my arms. But before I can point out how incredibly off-the-mark her comment is, she points a finger at herself.
"'Cause, you know, I'm such an adult!" Jess says, starting to laugh.
But Jess doesn't laugh; she cackles. Her mother is constantly reminding her that her cackling isn't ladylike, but Jess can't help herself. It's not intentional; it's just that she hasn't yet learned the fine art of subtlety.
She's cackling so loudly now it's like being inside a balloon when it's filled with helium; there's nothing else you can do except go along for the ride. And so I do.
The combination of Jess's cackling and my giggling—yes, I giggle, and I'm proud of it—fills up my room and my heart and makes me forget about my wardrobe trauma. Until I slip on the pile of clothes on the side of my bed, a pile that was created when I wildly rummaged through my closet to find the perfect outfit to wear to my boyfriend's cousin's wedding. It's her third marriage, but the first one since Caleb and I have been dating, so, for me at least, it's a really special event.
"I still don't have anything to wear next weekend!" I pout.
Jess surveys the pile of clothes on the floor. "Try on the pink wraparound dress one more time," she orders. "No matter what anybody says, redheads look great in pink, and a wraparound never goes out of style."
Grabbing the dress from the center of the pile, I know Jess's style advice is solid, but I already tried this dress on, and I looked like I was going out to meet the mailman, not my boyfriend's family. Holding it up in front of me, I'm about to protest, but Jess is firm.
"Don't argue with me, Robineau," Jess says. "The best friend knows best."
I've learned not to argue with Jess when she gets that "know-it-all" tone in her voice; all I can do is trust her, and more often than not I'm rewarded. Even when it looks like she has no idea what she's talking about. Just as I'm about to slip into the dress for a second time, Jess puts her hands up her T-shirt, shimmies out of her bra, and hands it to me.
"First put this on," she says. "Everything looks better in a Miracle Bra."
Looking at my fully dressed self in the mirror, I couldn't agree with her more. It is a miracle. I'm not ugly. I'm beautiful. And it's all thanks to Jess.
"Once again you've saved my life," I say, reaching out to squeeze her hand.
"That's why I was put on this earth," she replies, squeezing me back. "To protect my best friend from really bad fashion choices."
Now that we've solved my fashion crisis, we move on to home décor.
For as long as I can remember, my room had been painted pink, a few shades lighter than the dress. I grew up living inside a piece of cotton candy, soft and happy and comforting. Even the name of the paint, This Little Piggy, after the nursery rhyme, was comforting. Last month my father went on a painting frenzy because Home Depot was having a sale, and he repainted the inside of the whole house. My walls were stripped of their color and covered in off-white paint—I think the real name is Milkyway, which doesn't make any sense because the real Milky Way is black, not the color of milk, but whatever—so now they're blank, totally empty, and I feel like I have to start over. I don't want to. I want my pink back! I want to go back to living in cotton candy, back to being innocent. Luckily, Jess understands.
"By the way, Dom," Jess says while foraging through my jewelry box in search of the perfect accessories. "I really do heart your room!"
Or does she?
"What do you mean you heart my room?" I ask. "There's nothing to heart."
"Look around!" she commands, her arms opening wide to embrace the emptiness. "This room is the personification of you!"
Jess is sitting cross-legged on my bed; her arms are now outstretched and reaching forward, holding on to nothing. Her arms are as empty as my walls.
"Thanks a lot, Jess," I whine. "Guess that means I'm nothing."
"No, that's not what I'm saying!" Jess shoots back. "Your room is a blank slate." Jess jumps off my bed, toppling over the jewelry box so its contents spill out onto my bed, and runs to the wall next to my desk as if it's a magnet and she can't resist its pull. "These walls haven't decided what color they want to be yet," she declares, touching the wall delicately with her fingertips before turning around, eyes wide open, one index finger pointing at my face. "Just like you haven't decided what you want to be when you grow up."
Jess discovered philosophy this year.
"Is that so?" I ask.
"Buddha says listen to the silence of the walls, Dominysan."
She's also obsessed with all things Japanese.
"Listen!" she instructs. "Listen to what the walls are saying."
For a moment I pretend to listen, but good old-fashioned American sarcasm cannot hold its tongue. "If the walls are silent, how can they say anything?"
"Because your walls don't need words to speak!" she pretend-scolds. "Now listen!"
"Sorry," I say, and try to pretend-listen better.
Jess kneels on the floor in front of me. She tosses the clothes I'm trying to fold to the side and grabs my hands. "Listen to the uncontaminated walls, Dominy, and you'll find your way," she instructs. "Then and only then will you be able to walk the path toward acceptance."
She drops her voice when she speaks, so it sounds deep and smooth and exactly like those people on talk shows who are experts in some weird branch of medicine or psychology, who think that if they speak quietly it'll make everyone who's watching at home forget that they're saying really horrific things. But Jess doesn't say anything horrific. She actually says something very sweet.
"Allow the energy to circulate," Jess purrs. "Attach your mind to its vibration and agree to become a passenger on its journey toward happiness."
Maybe it's the combination of fake voice and crazy babbling, but part of me thinks she's talking sense. That she chose those words specifically because I needed to hear them as I set out on a new journey. Maybe she's legit. A true Yoga guru who can transcend earthly shackles and see into the great beyond. Maybe she knows what I've been hiding from everyone, that I'm really very unhappy.
Could she know me better than I thought she did? She is my best friend, after all, and we've been close since before kindergarten. But does she truly know that I've been faking it lately? I've been acting like my normal self, when for some reason I've felt isolated and alone and uncomfortable even in places where I used to feel safe. Does she sense that I could use some guidance because I'm scared of losing my way permanently? Or wait ... is she just having fun at my expense? When I hear her cackles bounce off my blank walls, I know my last thought is the correct one. It was all a joke.
That's when I hate her. I don't know if my expression is a perfect illustration of my emotions or if Jess can read my mind, but she knows how I feel.
"What is wrong with you?" she asks.
"Oh stop lying!" she whines. "You got that look on your face again, Dom, like you want to rip somebody's throat out."
Again? So she has noticed.
"I mean seriously, I just gave you the bra off my back," she says. "Tell me what's going on."
How do I tell her what's going on when I don't understand it myself? I'm not a violent person; I'm not someone who gets off on insulting others, bullying them just so I can feel good about myself. But lately that's how I've been feeling, like I want to lash out physically and emotionally at everybody around me. The feeling comes over me unexpectedly and for no reason at all. Like right now. All I want to do is tell Jess that she needs to go on a diet because she's getting fat and that her blond roots are showing and her dyed black hair looks phony and ridiculous. Then I want to shake her hard and convince her that she has got to buy that Proactiv stuff online and have it delivered overnight because her face is breaking out again.
How can I share this with her? How can I even be thinking these thoughts about my best friend, the girl who I consider a sister? It's terrible and, worse than that, it's unlike me. I'm no angel, but I'm not a terrible person, but lately ... lately I feel like I'm changing, and I have absolutely no idea why or how to stop it. But I can't share this with Jess. I can't share this with anyone, so I keep it to myself and make up an excuse.
"Sorry. You know how grouchy I get when I have my period."
"Dom, you must be having the longest period on record," Jess says, not really believing me.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"You've been acting like a weirdling for months now," she admits. "Not just a few days at a time. Are you sure it's nothing else? You know you can tell me anything."
I do know that, but something's preventing me from speaking. Something is preventing me from being honest with my friend, and I don't know what it is. It's like someone has put a plastic bag over my mouth; I'm trying to scream, I'm trying to get somebody to hear me, anyone, but every attempt fails. Every time I open my mouth I just suck back my own breath and swallow it so it can reinfest my body, and each time I swallow it's making it harder and harder to breathe. Harder and harder to live. And harder and harder to look Jess in the face, so I turn away.
"Trust me, if it were something big and dramatic, I would tell you," I say, picking up my clothes and bringing them over to my closet.
"You can tell me the little, non-dramatic things too, you know," she says. "They have a habit of growing into really big, uncontrollable things if you ignore them for too long."
I get the sense that, whether I ignore what's going on inside of me or pay attention, the outcome is still going to be the same. Because the truth is I'm no longer in control; someone else has power over me; someone else is leading me on a journey into the unknown. Oh my God! If Jess could really read my mind, if anyone could, they'd think I was a lunatic. I have to fight this; I have to focus and take back the reins. My father taught me that the best way to take back control of your life when the world around you starts to get too complicated is to make one simple change. Something physical, specific, and uncomplicated.
"I have to paint that wall a new color," I say, pointing to the wall behind Jess.
She's back on my bed leaning against the headboard, and the white frame looks faded against the freshly painted walls. Could the best way to let go of the pink be to replace it? Or am I that afraid to live in emptiness?
"What do you think of teal?" I ask.
Kneeling on my bed, Jess does a 360-degree turn to take in the whole room and imagine what one teal wall would look like. It doesn't make the cut.
"Too much like turquoise," she replies. "And do you really want to sleep under a wall that's the color of reservation jewelry?"
She's got a point. "What about a bronzy brown?" I say, getting suddenly excited. My enthusiasm is not contagious.
"Dom, brown is great for eye shadow," Jess informs. "But on walls, it just looks like dirt."
Jess is getting on my nerves again. I don't understand it, I don't like it, but it's the truth. I know she's going to come up with a solution—she always has and she always will—but right now she is frustrating the hell out of me, and I have to fold my hands behind my back or risk slapping her across the face.
I mimic Jess and look around my room as if I'm appraising the area to come up with the perfect wall color. That's what she might be doing, but I'm just trying to keep my mouth shut so I don't say something bitchy.
During the silence a little slice of moonlight spills into the room. Its reach isn't long, but the tiny bit that lingers next to the window is strong and looks like a silver plank that leads from my bedroom to the moon itself. I feel a tug at my heart and wonder if the plank is sturdy enough to hold my weight, if I could walk on the moonbeam until I'm out of sight of Jess and everyone on earth. A warm sensation comes over me that reminds me of my mother's touch, and I take it as a sign that I should start walking, that I should begin my journey right here and now. Before I can say my good-byes, Jess crosses in front of me and blots out the moonlight, destroying my chance of escape.
These are the kinds of foolish, out-of-the-blue thoughts I've been having lately. I don't know where they're coming from, but these ideas ignite even more complicated feelings, feelings that are better kept hidden and not shared. Better to keep my thoughts simple and focused on finding a wall color solution. Finally Jess does.
"Orange!" she squeals.
Orange? Didn't I read somewhere that orange is the new pink? "That'll work."
"Of course it will. I'm a genius when it comes to design!" she squeals once more. "Just lose the banner."
Over my headboard hangs the banner for our football team. Truth is, I know nothing about football, I don't really like the sport, but I'm the girlfriend of the quarterback, so it's my duty to keep a banner of our team in my room. But that's not the reason my reaction is so passionate. It's because of what is on the banner: a depiction of the team mascot.
Looking at the wall, I see the banner in full detail, maybe for the first time. Navy blue and white lettering spells out the team name, Weeping Water Timberwolves, while right in the center, the school mascot is depicted ripping through the material; its huge paw is outstretched, and its sharp nails are jutting out from its toes, as if it's clawing its way out of the wall.
Off in the distance I hear Jess rambling on about how she'll have to decorate around it, but I can't stop staring at the timberwolf's face. It's no longer a harmless school mascot, no longer a cartoon character, but a real live living creature. And I'm scared.
The whole room grows dark, and the only light is coming from the moon. The light is stronger now, and the silver plank has pushed itself farther into my room, illuminating my bed and the wall behind it. Glowing in the presence of the moon, the timberwolf looks like it's about to attack me; it's a creature that needs to pounce and feed. Its mouth is open and hungry and eager, its fangs ready to taste my flesh. Suddenly another one of those crazy, uncontrollable thoughts takes over my mind.
Part of me wants to jump on the silver plank and run out of my room to safety. Part of me wants to feel the creature's fangs plunge into my skin so the two of us can become one. The frightening thing is, I have no idea which part of me I want to win.
Excerpted from MOONGLOW by MICHAEL GRIFFO Copyright © 2013 by Michael Griffo. Excerpted by permission of K TEEN BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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