When sparks fly between a human and a Supernatural, the entire planet could be at stake.
It’s been ten years since the Great Extinction, when Supernaturals threatened to destroy humanity. Now, in the sleepy town of Wayside, Nevada, seventeen-year-old Cassie Grant’s life couldn’t be more ordinary. Determined to get into an Ivy League college, her focus is squarely on her studies. But suddenly everything changes when she witnesses Jason Taylor, a cute and quiet loner, mysteriously save a young boy from falling to his death.
Although the Supernaturals ultimately retreated to their planet, three families were left behind—including Jason’s. So far, they’ve been successfully hiding in plain sight. But Jason knows that if Cassie exposes him, all their lives will be in peril—especially since Cassie’s father is the head of the Alien Eradication and Defense Department. At first, befriending Cassie is Jason’s survival tactic. But as they spend more time together, they begin to fall in love. With the authorities closing in and a hidden threat that could tear the very Earth apart, can Cassie and Jason keep each other safe—or will their star-crossed romance start another war?...
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The Tazavorn Series
By Sonya Weiss
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Sonya Weiss
All rights reserved.
I wiped off the mess I'd made of my makeup for the second time, and stared at the pallor of my skin in the mirror. The scar high on my cheekbone wasn't as bad as the ones on my back, but it was a visible reminder of the attack that gave me nightmares. Each time I'd jerk myself out of sleep, I'd fallen right back into the disturbing images again. No high IQ needed to guess why. At dinner Dad had talked in detail about the destructive nature of aliens. As if I needed to be told.
His stories and warnings alone weren't the reason I didn't like aliens. I knew firsthand that they killed, that they left humans scarred. I didn't blame my father for my injuries, but my mother did. I pushed away the memory of what happened during that awful camping trip in New Mexico. That night had forever changed all of us and made me look at aliens differently.
Aliens were mysterious, powerful beings who were hunted by the government but more often than not, we humans were the prey. While there were a lot of pro-alien groups around that spouted on websites and to anyone who'd listen that we had nothing to fear from these "visiting creatures," the scars on my body were living proof that was a lie.
A strange premonition swept over me and I shivered, then tried again to reapply my makeup fast so I wouldn't be late for school. One more year, and then I was through.
I couldn't wait to get out of Wayside, Nevada, far away from my father, and his job as lead agent at the Alien Eradication and Defense Department. I didn't want to live with the reminder of aliens at every conversation. I needed a clean slate, a place where I could build good memories. I wished we could go back to our lives before the Great Extinction.
That war between the humans and aliens sucked the laughter out of our family like a tornado had spun through. Aliens had killed my uncle during one of the battles. My father hadn't been the same since his brother's death but he'd tried hard to keep himself together. But then after me nearly dying during that camping trip because of an alien attack, my father had unraveled in ways that baffled and sometimes even scared me.
I finished applying my makeup, checked my arms and back in the mirror to make sure my scars were hidden, and gave my face one final glance. Good enough. Grabbing my backpack, I made my way down the stairs to the living room where Mom lay curled on the sofa beneath a blanket. She had the same shoulder length black hair and brown eyes I did, but where she was cover model confident, not even photoshopping could erase my self-consciousness. I was a little on the nerdy side so I'd never been that confident, but after I was scarred, it had only gotten worse. I didn't wear sleeveless shirts anymore and I wouldn't dream of ever wearing a bikini again.
With a frustrated sigh, Mom sat up and muted the television, silencing the anchor mid-report on the frequent earthquakes striking our area. I stood behind the sofa and lip-read the closed captioning for a few seconds. "Anything new, or are they rehashing yesterday's news?"
"Not much new other than the United States Geological Survey is monitoring the area. Nevada is the twenty-first state hit with a wave of them."
"That's a lot of earthquakes."
"There's nothing to worry about, Cassie. If there were, the USGS would inform the right people who would then inform the public."
I didn't believe that. Because of Dad's job, I had insight into how the government hid things. The rash of unexplained earthquakes made me edgy. "Where's Dad?"
To my surprise her lips tightened, and I wondered if there was trouble again in Alienville. "He slept at the office last night."
"Chasing little green men wore him out?" I pushed my hands through my out of control hair to corral it into a ponytail.
She tried to hide it, but a ghost of a smile flitted across her lips, and for a second we were unified in the knowledge Dad was acting weirder than usual. "You know your father."
My stomach dropped. They'd been fighting more lately and the fights were getting uglier. "Did he sleep at the office because of his work or ..."
"You should eat. I'll make you something." She got up and went into the kitchen. Mom was a great cook, but she never took the time anymore because she always had to leave the house before I did. I didn't know what she was still doing home.
After taking the milk out of the refrigerator, she poured a glass, and then reached for the box of pancake mix. When she pulled the eggs out and set them on the counter, I said, "Mom? What's going on?" Different what-ifs flitted through my mind while I waited for her to answer. Dad was having an affair. Mom was sick. Or Dad's grouchy, could-never-be-pleased mother was coming to visit. That last one made me feel sick. "Is Grandma coming for a visit?"
She glanced over her shoulder, shook her head, and laughed as we shared a look of mutual thank-God relief. "Speaking of aliens," she muttered.
I laughed again. "Seriously, Mom. What is it?" I covered her hand with mine to get her to stop trying to make breakfast.
She hesitated, as if trying to decide how to answer. "Your dad thinks there's a connection between aliens and these earthquakes."
I rolled my eyes. Their power wasn't something to be underestimated, but I wasn't stupid enough to think they could control the Earth. "He thinks there's a connection between global warming and aliens, power outages and aliens, rising taxes and aliens. When doesn't he think things are related to aliens?"
She shook her head as if trying to shake off the sudden heaviness blanketing both of us. "You don't want breakfast?"
I moved to the pantry and scored the last chocolate chip granola bar from the box. "I don't have time. The class hike is today. I have to rush, or I'll be late."
"You're wearing that?"
I glanced down at my jeans with the myriad of artful cuts. "These are retro. Everyone's wearing them."
"I meant the T-shirt."
I put a hand over the image of ET. I'd unearthed the shirt at the secondhand store. "It's a joke."
"Make sure you change before your father sees it. No use throwing gas on the fire."
Dad was exactly the reason I'd bought the shirt, and I didn't care if he saw it. Yes, I was afraid of aliens, but I was tired of my fear holding me hostage and I was trying to find my way back to the me I'd once been. There were so many things I didn't do anymore since that camping trip because I was too afraid.
"Cassie?" Mom said.
"Fine, I'll change before he sees it."
"Are you riding in with Mark?" She sounded hopeful, not yet knowing my status as the alien hunter's daughter wiped out my dating life once again.
"Um ... no. Gotta run."
* * *
"At least you're wearing new boots," I pointed out when Sydney complained about the steepness of the hiking trail for the millionth time. I turned my face toward the brilliant blue of the sky, loving how white the clouds were, how the warmth from the sun kissed my skin.
"New boots. Big deal," Sydney grumbled.
I tuned out her complaining. The September day was beautiful, filling me with hope for a good start to my junior year. Only one more year to go before I headed off to college. Finally, I'd be able to leave this town in the rearview mirror and hopefully the nightmares along with it.
Sydney stopped to adjust her boots again, winced, and threw her hands up. "Why did Mr. Perry think it was a good idea to take the entire class on a day hike through Sparks Canyon State Park to experience desert plant life hands on? I can study on the Internet in the comfort of air conditioning."
"Come on, it's not that bad," I chided, drawing in a deep breath of the fresh, wood-scented air. I loved the outdoors, anything that kept me out of the house away from the tension between Mom and Dad.
"Not that bad?" Sydney shot me an are-you-kidding look. "It must be pushing ninety-five, and it's not even noon yet. Look at me. I'm sweating in these boots. Grosser than that, I'm sweating all over." She raised her arms and the blue T-shirt she wore stretched up to reveal the piercing in her belly button. We were supposed to get one done together, but I'd chickened out at the last minute, too afraid to rock the boat at home. Twirling a finger through her short brown hair, she frowned at the damp ringlets. "I don't look my best with my hair plastered against my scalp. No one does."
I ran a hand through my own plastered-to-the-scalp hair, and glanced at my best friend. "Surely there's one positive thing you can say about today. C'mon, try."
Sydney pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head and loudly sighed her unhappiness. Squinting against the bright sun, she suddenly smirked. "Walking behind Jason Taylor is my idea of great scenery."
The same can't-breathe feeling I'd always experienced whenever I looked at Jason gripped my lungs. My stomach clenched. He'd brushed by me once in the cafeteria, the skin of his arm touched mine, and the contact had zipped up my arm like I'd stuck my finger in a socket. I held on to the rough bark of a tree for stability as I wound my way up the hill, wishing I wasn't one of hundreds of girls in the school who secretly craved the guy whose looks fell somewhere between boy god and unobtainable rock star. Not that I would give him half a chance even if he didn't act like he hated me. He was always in a dark mood whenever I was near. I'd chalked up his behavior to my father's vocal, dogged pursuit of aliens. He could come across as a little intense. After he'd given a talk at the school on how to recognize signs of alien activity, everyone kept coming up to me asking if they looked like an alien, then laughing.
"Just look at that butt." Sydney nudged me. "If you didn't want him, I'd seriously think about giving him a chance."
"Stop it," I said. "I don't want him, and he wouldn't want me."
"Sure. I saw him staring at you the other day when you were at your locker." She playfully batted her eyelashes. "He couldn't look away from you then, and you can't look away from him now."
I quickly pulled my concentration away from Jason and shook my head. "My dad's always on the news. Everyone stares at the alien hunter's daughter." I sidestepped a lizard darting across my path.
Sydney emitted a small shriek when the lizard stopped in front of her. Hand over her heart, she said, "Maybe. Your dad scares the crap out of everyone with his constant aliens-among-us warnings."
"Yeah, but they exist and they are dangerous."
Sydney's gaze dropped to my shirt even though my scars weren't showing. She knew about them because besides me telling my best friend everything, she'd seen them when we'd had sleepovers. I hadn't told anyone else about them. "I'm sorry," she said, her voice serious now.
"It's okay." I really didn't like talking about that night. I glanced ahead at Jason again. I couldn't help myself. He moved with such confidence. The kind a guy had when he knew he was so hot that girls contracted a case of stupid around him. I would rather bathe in dry ice than act like a giggling idiot.
He chose that second to look over his shoulder, and his gaze locked with mine. My heart beat like a hopped up drummer. Cue the idiot. It wasn't fair. One look. One freaking look could do that to my insides.
Thick lashes framed eyes the color of dark caramel and were set in a face so earth shakingly gorgeous I thought it would short-circuit my brain. The combination of his stare and the heat made my head pound. A trickle of sweat rolled down the center of my back, right across the patchwork of ugly scars. My throat turned into a desert. Jason smoothed a hand through his dark hair, and finally pulled his attention away. I blew out a relieved breath. Every year since ninth grade, I'd promised myself I would be cool whenever I was near him and yet every year, I'd done something embarrassingly stupid.
From the first time I'd seen Jason, I didn't know where I'd parked my common sense. I'd always liked brainy guys. Nerds like me who could explain quantum theory forward and backward. Not a guy who took his shirt off on the football field during gym and had girls running into the goal posts. One girl, and one goal post. Yeah. That was me freshman year.
Sophomore year a bunch of us had gone swimming in the river. I'd sat on the rocks watching everyone else have fun because at the time, I couldn't swim. Grabbing on to a rope and swinging out across the river seemed like a good idea. I'd figured I'd land on the island of rocks in the middle of the water. Except I hadn't. I'd overshot and gone into the deepest part of the river. Jason had pulled me to safety. Once we'd reached the rocks, I'd thanked him by vomiting all the water I'd swallowed right into his lap. So. Humiliating. Not long after that, the alien attack had happened. Part of my recovery therapy to strengthen the muscles in my back was learning to swim. But I swam only when my parents or Sydney were around.
"Hard not to stare, right?" Sydney elbowed me. "I should slip him your phone number."
"Don't. You. Dare." I glared at her. Given the hostile glances he kept shooting at me, his response would not be a positive one. "I mean it."
"Chill. I won't. What are you doing this weekend? Please tell me you're not going on another date with Mark, the wonder idiot."
"No, that didn't end well." I'd gone out with Mark Carson twice before he'd ended the last date with the same song and dance I'd heard before. I thought I could do this, but your father is the alien hunter. Dating you isn't worth the risk.
"What did you expect? Guy transfers in from Hog Snout, Georgia. Probably only understands tractors."
I laughed. "That's not a real place."
She grinned, then linked her arm through mine. "Forget Mark. You shouldn't stick to one guy, anyway. Date around."
"No, thanks." The thought didn't hold any appeal. Getting dumped repeatedly was too humiliating. "I prefer studying to dating."
Sydney's mouth dropped open. "Why?" she asked in a voice that suggested I'd said I wanted to date an alien.
"We've had this conversation. I want to get into one of the Ivy Leagues. To do that, I need good grades. To get those, I need to study. Comprehend?"
"Yeah." Her nose wrinkled like she'd stepped in something smelly. "But I thought it was a phase. There's more to life than college," Sydney said. "You should come to cosmetology school with me. We could open up a shop together right here."
"Staying here ..." I shuddered at the idea. "I would wither away," I said softly, hoping I wasn't hurting her feelings. "There's almost nothing in Wayside. If you want to catch the latest movie, you have to drive thirty miles."
"So? I like driving to Sparks. It's a great city and —" Her lips pursed like she wanted to continue arguing her point, but then understanding dawned. Her forehead creased when she raised her eyebrows. "Boredom isn't why you want to leave. It's your dad, and what happened to you, isn't it?"
I nodded. Getting away from Dad was a major part of the Big Life Plan I would not deviate from.
"You don't have to say anything else. I understand," Sydney said. She turned her attention to the movement beside her. "Mr. Perry's little boy is adorable." She wiggled her fingers at him.
Four-year-old Micah beamed at the attention and hopped up and down, leaving puffs of dirt clouds each time his sneakers hit the ground. "I'm a rabbit."
I'd babysat him for the first year of his life while his mom finished up her nursing degree. His red hair glinted in the sunlight and his eyes sparkled with mischief as usual as he bounced around us. I ruffled his hair as he passed. He paused to shoot me a wide grin, then raced away. The earth rumbled, causing the small pebbles around us to jump up and down. The trees lining the trail shook loose a shower of leaves.
"Earthquake!" a few people screamed. Several girls started crying, panicking, and ran away from the cliff.
Not Micah. He had hopped close to the edge. Everyone talks about those moments. The ones where everything happens so fast you don't have time to react. Before I could move or scream, it was over. One second, Micah was right there smiling at me. The next, he lost his balance, and his body disappeared over the edge of the steep cliff. The world just ... stopped.
I grabbed Sydney's arm so we could run toward the cliff together and save Micah, but she was stuck mid-step, mid-speech, mid-scream. I let go of her and waved my hand in front of her face. She didn't blink and neither did anyone else. It was as if they were all frozen alive, but whatever was going on didn't affect me.
Excerpted from Rising by Sonya Weiss. Copyright © 2017 Sonya Weiss. 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
Very wonderful series, can't wait for the next one.
Liked the story, the characters and the world building was great. Pulled in from the start I couldn't put the book down. I'll definitely read more from this author. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books!