In the latest book in Michael Griffo's spellbinding Darkborn Legacy series, Dominy Robineau must choose whether to fight the werewolf inside--or the darkness all around. . .Dominy had no choice in becoming a werewolf. The day she turned sixteen, a witch's curse erased every trace of normal from her life and ignited a wild hunger that's already cost Dominy her best friend. And though she's still got her boyfriend, Caleb, and other allies who promise to help her find a cure, Dom feels completely alone. Yet she isn't alone. . . Throughout her hometown of Weeping Water, Nebraska, a legacy of evil is slowly coming to light, pitting friend against friend in an unfolding battle. Dom was sure her only hope was to fight what she's become. But with an enemy threatening her family, she'll have to harness the power she fears and gather all the strength she's got. . .
About the Author
Michael Griffo is an award-winning writer and a graduate of New York University. He has studied at Playwrights Horizons and Gotham Writers Workshop, and has written several screenplays.
Read an Excerpt
THE DARKBORN LEGACY
By michael griffo
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Michael Griffo
All rights reserved.
The first day of school. A time to reconnect with friends you haven't seen all summer long, a time to ponder which new clubs and sports you should join, a time to promise yourself that this is the year you'll finally get that 4.0 GPA. For me, it's a time to figure out which one of my fellow classmates wants me dead.
Munching on a trans-fat-free French fry that tastes more like imported cardboard than France's most delicious import, I scour the lunchroom, looking like an eyewitness trying to pick out a criminal in a lineup through a one-way window in a police station. My stare is focused, yet indifferent. Who could be the guilty party? Could it be Rayna Delgado? She's always been jealous of my red hair. Once in eighth grade she dyed her own black hair to match mine and turned out looking like Ronald McDonald's younger, but way uglier, sister. Luckily for her it was a few days before Halloween, so the whole school thought she was getting a jump start on the festivities. I knew better.
It could also be The Dandruff King himself, Danny Klausman, if he somehow found out that I'm the one who dubbed him The Dandruff King. I can't imagine he would interpret that nickname as a term of endearment. Either of them could have been part of last night's witch hunt, but it could have been anyone at school for that matter. Since I was hidden by Jess's wall of flames, I couldn't see who obtained a membership. Other than Barnaby and Louis, whose voices I recognized, I have no idea who the town vigilantes are. Scratch that! A third member just sauntered into the lunchroom—Jody Buell. He's my brother's best friend and Siammate—I call him that because he and my brother are joined at the hip. If Barnaby was playing teenage avenger, guaranteed that Jody was his superhero sidekick.
Incredible how one night can change everything. Yesterday, most of these kids were my friends; today I look at them with a much more cynical eye. I mean, I know that high school can sometimes be a battleground, with everyone jockeying for the top spot, but I never got caught in the crossfire. I'm not the prettiest or the most popular or the smartest, but at Weeping Water High School—Two W to us locals—I'm way closer to the top spot in each category than to the bottom. Translation: I've never had to work that hard to be liked by my fellow classmates or, honestly, most of my teachers. It doesn't hurt that my father was the chief of police and since his death I've effectively been ordained an orphan, because having a mother who's in a coma doesn't really qualify as having a full-time mom. So I'm used to being respected and pitied; being loathed and wished dead is a totally new experience for me.
The fact that people want the wolf—or whatever they think is turning our town into the setting for some new horror movie—dead, and not me—Dominy—doesn't soften the blow either, because like I said it's getting increasingly harder to separate the two. It isn't like in the beginning when I couldn't remember anything from when I was a wolf after I transformed back, when the lives of the wolf and the girl were skew lines. Now our lives intersect. I remember most everything; some memories are clearer than others, but mainly the transformations are mentally seamless. So if they want the wolf dead, I can't help but take it personally and feel as if they want me dead too.
Unable to shake the bothersome thought from my head, I look around the cafeteria again to examine who my potential enemies could be. Who was carrying a torch last night with my brother? They all look like they're more interested in their franks 'n' beans or their conversations, but I know better. I know that behind those faces, whether they're filled with acne or animation or apathy, there exist Lubaphiles. They may not even realize that they're part of Psycho Squaw's army; they may never have heard of the crazy witch, but they're doing her bidding all the same. And how ironic is it that her two right-hand men appear to be my brother and my guardian? I guess that should be her right- and left-hand men? Doesn't matter. Without her even formulating a strategy, my adversary is closing in on me.
Because Jess is right; people act jerktastically when they're scared. I just have to make sure their fear doesn't get me killed. And one of the best ways to thwart an enemy's plan is to make sure he knows his plan is no longer secret. So I need to tell him. Or at least tell his daughter.
"I know your father is trying to kill me," I announce before Arla even places her tray on the lunch table.
Her reaction is as smooth as her complexion. Obviously, being my friend and now my sort-of stepsister has taught Arla to expect the unexpected and to take outlandish comments in stride.
"I thought his meatloaf the other night was really good," she replies, sitting down across from me. "The chipotle in the gravy gave it some kick."
"I'm not talking about his meatloaf, which was really good, by the way," I say. "I'm talking about the vigilante crusade he was on last night."
Her forehead crinkles like one of my French fries. "Sister-friend," she says. "I have no idea what your mouth is yakking on about."
I stare at Arla and try hard not to laugh. It's not that I find our conversation hilarious, but considering she's wearing a 1950s-style Junior Miss platinum blond wig in honor of the fact that we are now in our junior year and at the same time adopting a tone of voice that is more appropriate to one of those 1970s blaxploitation films, she's quite funny. Yup, the more I get to know Arla, the more I realize she's filled with contradictions. Just like me.
"Clearly your dad's learned how to be clandestine," I suggest.
"Unlike you," Arla replies, scooping up a spoonful of beans.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"You put my father, kill, and clandestine all into the same conversation," she states. "Not exactly subtle."
I take a deep breath, because I realize what I'm about to say is less bizarre than it is a tad-bit accusatory. "Well, I'm, um, pretty sure your dad is the lead operative in a clandestine plot to rid Weeping Water of its first-ever serial killer," I speed-say. "A.k.a. me."
As I fill Arla in on last night's events, she slowly pays more attention to me than to her food, a clear sign that her father's and my brother's late-night antics are news to her.
"That's a twisted way for them to bond," she offers.
"I wish it were more twisted than it appears, but it isn't," I explain. "They both share the same goal—to avenge my father's death."
Five streaks of blue cotton candy whip through the air. They're Arla's fingernails—the same color as her headband—as she waves her hand in the air as if to swipe away the unspoken thought that hovers between us. Grumbling, she responds, "But you didn't kill your dad."
"They don't know that," I reply, trying hard to keep my voice quiet and not shout my innocence to the world. "They think there's a serial-killing animal on the loose."
"We've been through this before, Dominy. You are not a serial killer!" Arla protests a bit too loudly for my comfort zone.
"Could we please use our inside voices?" I ask. "Considering we are inside."
"Sorry," she says, holding up her hand so the cotton candy blue is replaced with the dark caramel of her skin. "But that comment is ridiculous, redundant, and regressive. You're a victim too."
It's nice to hear that Arla doesn't think I'm a candidate for America's Most Wanted, but it also rings false. She knows exactly what I am and what I've done, and it's bad enough that I have to hide from the world; I don't want to feel that I have to hide from my friends.
"Arla, come on," I start. "I may not be like that guy, who killed kids while wearing a clown suit, but I have killed, and come to think of it I have my own disguise so, okay, maybe me and clown face aren't siblings, but we're kind of distant cousins."
She whips off her plastic headband so fiercely, I almost think that Arla is going to use it as a deadly weapon, but she's merely readjusting her accessory. She isn't, however, readjusting her conviction.
"The guy in the clown suit and every other serial killer you want to bring up committed premeditated murder," Arla says, sounding very much like the daughter of the new chief of police. "You, on the other hand, acted while under meditation."
I committed murder while practicing yoga? "I'm not following you."
"You were under a spell," she clarifies. "When you killed Jess and that vagrant, you weren't in control of yourself; Luba and the wolf spirit were. There is absolutely no way that you can be categorized as a serial killer or a killer of any kind."
Tell that to the torch-bearing group who almost captured me last night. "My ears hear what you're saying," I reply, "But ..."
"Keep your buts out of it," Arla interrupts. "You know I'm right. You are not a killer, because you were not born to kill."
Automatically, I tilt my head, and my nose points downward, toward the floor. It's a peculiar move, a reflex, and it reminds me of how the wolf responds when it's in an uncomfortable situation. I don't want to get all philosophical, because more than ever I only want to grab hold of simple, tangible concepts, but Arla's comment has triggered something that's a bit more complicated.
If the wolf did indeed come first, which I'm beginning to think is a possibility, doesn't that mean that I was born to kill? That's what wolves do, isn't it? Sometimes they kill out of a necessity to feed, but sometimes they do it maliciously, out of an innate desire to be violent.
"Honestly, Arla," I whisper, my voice soft so maybe I won't hear my own words. "I'm thinking that maybe I was."
I can tell by how quickly Arla replies that she responds by reflex too. She has an innate desire to protect her friend.
"Dom, that isn't true!" she protests. "You weren't born as a result of Luba's curse; you were born in spite of it."
But I wasn't born alone.
"I was also born with the wolf as my invisible twin," I remind her. "Since the moment I was conceived, the wolf has been living inside of me, so doesn't that mean I was destined to kill?"
This time when Arla opens her mouth reflex falters, no words follow the motion. Which makes sense, because how could they? What could she possibly say when we both know I'm right? I can see her embarrassment; I can practically cut it with the flimsy plastic knife I'm holding. Arla isn't moving, but she's struggling; she wants to say something to contradict the truth she can't conceal in her eyes, but she's not a natural-born liar like I'm a natural-born killer, so she remains silent.
Feeling bad, I turn away. I stare at the new "back to school" posters that line the walls of the cafeteria. Play Hard, Work Harder. Two W's Are Better Than One—Get A Study Partner. And my personal favorite, because it makes education fashionable: School Spirit Is The New Black. My preoccupation with the school's new in-house marketing campaign gives Arla enough time to collect herself so she can rack her brains and think of a better topic of conversation. Turns out she doesn't have to. Archie speaks for her.
"Love the wig, Arla," he exclaims. "Hate the face, Dom."
Forcing a smile that will hopefully brighten my expression, I look up from the table and into Archie's concerned face. Over the summer, Archie cut his hair really short and discovered some hair gel called Brylcreem that pre-metrosexuals used in the fifties. For the time being he's parting his hair on the left side and combing it over and back, so there's a little wave on top that makes his white hair look like a snowdrift. When he sits down next to Arla, I get the feeling that the two of them are getting ready to go to a sock hop.
"Sorry, Archie," I say. "Arla and I went a little emo for a momo."
His violet eyes stare at me like two beautiful flowers, soft and delicate, but firmly rooted in the ground. "Any chance your convo was about last night's skirmish?"
"You heard!" Arla and I shout at the same time.
Archie pauses not because he's taken aback, but because he just shoved half a hot dog into his mouth. Mid-chew, he replies, "It hasn't gone viral yet, but I overheard Jody Buell bragging about his exploits to the rifle squad."
"I knew he was involved!" I shout, ignoring my own inside-voice mandate.
"He does realize their rifles can't carry ammo, right?" Archie asks. "'Cause it sounded like he was trying to recruit new members to join his posse."
"Who cares if he recruits the entire ROTC," Arla adds. "Only silver bullets can hurt Dom; regular bullets bounce right off."
"Hmm, someone's been brushing up on her knowledge of mythical creatures," I say.
"Wikipedia does devote several pages to werewolves," Arla admits, proving me right.
But when Archie speaks, it's evident that he's a more astute student in the study of all things werewolf.
"Miss Robineau?" Mr. Angevene begins. "How were the townspeople chasing you if you were snuggled up all snuggly in your cage?"
I was wondering how long it was going to take before I got busted.
"Oh my God, Dom!" Arla shouts, then forces her voice to lapse into a whisper. "Why weren't you in your cage last night? Why were you out gallivanting all throughout town? And why is a smart girl like me missing these important bits of information?"
"Because you're spending too much time in hair and makeup," Archie jokes. "And searching Wikipedia when you should be paying attention to the wolf living under your own roof who's gallivanting all around town."
I focus on my lunch even though it's suddenly become thoroughly unappetizing. "Gallivanting is really an unfair assessment," I mumble. "It was more like a reconnaissance."
Archie's violet eyes retain their beauty, but they lose a little bit of their sympathy. "You don't even know what reconnaissance means," he accuses.
"I do too!"
"Define?" Archie challenges.
Suddenly I'm twelve years old again, and I'm in front of Miss Kelleher's class, and I have to explain the difference between i.e. and e.g. I say to Archie what I finally said to Miss Kelleher. "May I be dismissed because I really have to pee?"
"Cross your legs," Archie answers back, which, ironically, is the exact same thing Miss Kelleher told me.
Ignoring both of us, Arla backtracks. "Dom, what were you doing out of your cage?" she asks. "I thought that nonsense with Luba unlocking it had stopped?"
There's no way I can tell them the truth; they won't understand. Involuntarily, my mind races back to my past again, and I decide to give Arla the same answer I gave Miss Kelleher. The only difference is that back then it was the truth, now it's a lie. "I don't know."
Archie, for one, isn't buying it. "I thought you said you now remember everything about your transformations?"
"Most everything," I say confidently, because I'm finally speaking the truth. "Not every tiny, micro-cific detail about the entire night."
Then I do something I don't like to do, something that doesn't make me feel proud, but I concoct yet another lie. This time, it's one that plays upon their sympathies.
"Barnaby probably confided in Luba about what he and Louis were going to do," I start. "And she seized the opportunity to make the night a victory for them by unlocking my cage again."
This does the trick; I can see it in their eyes. They feel bad, ashamed for verbally attacking me when just last night my brother, Arla's father, and their band of merry avengers were hoping to attack me physically. My, um, fabrication of last night's events has served its purpose: Arla and Archie think I'm telling the truth, so they're embarrassed when I'm the one who should be ashamed.
"Kind of gives new meaning to the word awkward," Archie says, now playing with his food instead of eating it. "What with your new sister's father trying to kill you."
"My dad isn't trying to kill Dominy," Arla objects. "Per se."
"Is that French?" Archie asks.
This time Arla doesn't ignore Archie's comment, only his tone. "Yes, it means that my father wouldn't be spearheading the witch hunt if he knew the witch was Dominy."
"Dominy is definitely not a witch."
Excerpted from SUNBLIND by michael griffo. Copyright © 2013 Michael Griffo. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.