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The RecruitAn Alpha Units Novel
By BRANDI LYNN SMITH
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Brandi Lynn Smith
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMemories floated in her mind as Kateen dozed on her bed. It had been eight years since that dreadful night, the one that changed her life, shaping her into who she was today. Though to some, the memory of Emily Bennington might be just that—a memory—for Kate, it would always be an aching wound as she remembered her best friend's death.
Kate snapped awake as she heard her mom, Janelle Richmond, calling up the stairs to announce dinner. Her body felt tired, as if she had been running, reliving the night when she and Emily had met up with New York City's Blade gang. The feelings and dreams associated with Emily's death recurred on the anniversary. Hearing her father, Ron, scoot out of his chair in the kitchen, she quickly regained control of her emotions and headed for the stairs.
"It's about time you came down from there," Kate's father said sternly, already seated and cutting his steak. In his early forties, he still retained his military physique, doing his morning exercises and keeping his dark brown hair buzzed short. Usually a good-humored man, he still maintained a strict schedule when it came to dinner.
"It's not that late," Kate stated, her internal clock telling her it was a little after five. She knew keeping to her room got on her parents' nerves; however, it was better than what would happen if they found out what she did when she went out.
"Why are you so tired all the time?" her mom asked, her evergreen eyes showing concern. Kate's parents had been worried about her since school ended. "Maybe a night out with your friends would wake you up."
Kate glanced at her mom as she took her seat at the table. In truth, Kate had abandoned her friends once school was out. Part of the reason was because she was spending time on her computer creating and installing new programs, one of her hobbies. The other part—the more important one—was because Blade was known to get more aggressive once school was out, at least where she was concerned. Having security guards at school kept Blade at bay most of the time, but outside of school, they had a better chance of escaping from authorities when they wrought havoc on the town. Kate didn't want another of her friends getting hurt or killed because of her history with Blade. Knowing the gang would be more than willing to get to her through those she cared about was the main reason she distanced herself.
"Kate," her dad said softly when she didn't answer. The concern in his voice tugged at her. "When are you going to get out of the house? Your friends have all wondered where you've been since school ended. John was talking about a party later tonight over at the Ferraldys' house. Why don't you go?"
John Sky was the kid next door. The Richmonds had lived next to the Skys since before either of the kids had been born, and Kate and John had become close friends. Both were sixteen, though Kate was older by four months.
"Since when did you want me to start going to parties, especially one hosted by Chris Ferraldy?" Kate asked, looking at her father. Though she was tired of hearing this same argument, she kept her tone light, hiding every trace of her annoyance. "Last time you met him, you not only slammed the door in his face but lectured me on what an upper classman like him really wanted with a lower classman. I told you I could handle him if he did anything stupid, but no one seems to think I can take care of myself."
"Kateen, honey, we want you to have fun," her mom stated, a frown creasing her brow. "You've locked yourself in your room for three weeks."
"We miss the bright, happy Kate we used to know. We've agreed to let you go to this party. John said he would drive if you let him know."
Kate glanced from her father's tanned face to her mother's lighter one, seeing a mirror image caress their features. She knew neither one would be happy if she stayed home, and figuring one night out with friends wouldn't hurt, she agreed.
"Fine, I'll go." Her parents shot her bright smiles as she finished her dinner. After rinsing the dish, she went upstairs to find an outfit for the night.
* * *
Kate wasn't known for being a party girl, let alone hanging out with Chris Ferraldy, so John had been surprised when she asked for a ride. Normally Kate spent her time working on computers or doing something athletic, claiming that the typical high school parties Ferraldy hosted were lame. Drugs and alcohol weren't something she was interested in, and though not everyone at those parties partied like a rock star, Kate usually didn't want anything to do with them.
Both were silent as John drove the surprisingly empty streets to the party. Kate was looking out the window, feeling guilty for going out instead of doing her usual routine on Emily's anniversary—visiting the site of her death and her grave. So absorbed with her thoughts, she didn't hear John when he finally broke the silence.
"What?" Kate asked, turning her gaze from the window.
"Just wondering where you've been the past three weeks," he said, glancing at her. "Everyone thought you went on a trip or something."
"I've been doing a lot of thinking," she replied.
Deciding to put some effort into making her parents happy, Kate had let her hair down instead of keeping it in her usual ponytail or messy bun. A black T-shirt and tight blue jeans graced her tan, athletic frame. Her makeup consisted of black eye shadow, a little blush, and a light colored lip-gloss, enhancing her features slightly, but not overdoing it. Black mascara adorned her long eyelashes, making her maroon eyes stand out.
"Ya sure had a lot of time to think. What about?"
Shrugging, she said, "Life. My parents treat me as though I'm five most of the time. The only reason they let me go to this party is because they wanted me to get out and do something."
"Well, if you ask me, they're right. We haven't hung out in a while. I was beginning to miss ya," he said as they pulled up in front of Chris's house. As they strolled toward the three-story, white house, the bass of the music could be felt outside, and laser lights flashed through the windows for added entertainment.
"Looks like they remodeled," Kate said. John glanced her way, one of his dark eyebrows raised. "Last time I was around here, they didn't have the lasers." The front door opened, and two bleach-blonde girls followed by a blond male came rushing out to greet them.
"Kate? Long time no see," Brytany said, giving her a false smile.
"No kidding! What's been going on?" Everice asked in a more pleasant tone.
"Nothin' much," Kate replied. "Just driving my parents crazy."
Kate wasn't one to follow the crowd, one of the many characteristics that her true friends liked about her, but she was able to blend in with all groups. She used that trait to her advantage, especially when helping her friends gather information on Blade. The Night Angels, a group of women, had found Kate after one of her fights with Blade when she was younger. Amanda Free, who had once been one of the lower members of the group but now was considered one of the leaders, had seen Kate running from Blade and took her to the other members of the Night Angels. There she had been trained in self-defense, along with other girls, and she eventually helped fight against the gang. Amanda had asked her to be a member of the Night Angels, but Kate preferred not to keep ties, though the two had become great friends.
"Hey, Kate," Chris said, shining his bright pearly whites as he stood with his arms crossed over his broad chest. At five foot ten, he was one of the best football players at school and a major heartthrob. Kate smiled back, though inside she knew the gesture would only make his ego bigger than it was already. "Glad you could make it."
"The guys had a bet you wouldn't come," Everice said, rolling her eyes. "Give ya one guess as to who won."
"What was the bet?" Kate asked as she turned to Chris.
"You'll see later."
A huge crowd stood in the front room as Kate and the others went inside. Mr. Ferraldy was a neurosurgeon, and he had placed a vast amount of money into the décor of the house. Every room had a TV, something Kate had seen on her first visit last year. The living room had a large sectional couch upholstered in earth-toned fabric that complemented the coffee shop look Chris's mother liked. A stone fireplace took up the wall that led to the kitchen and dining room, the glass of the fire pit allowing the flames to be seen from both rooms. Placing his hand at the small of Kate's back, he led her down to the basement where several of his teammates had congregated.
"Well, Chris, looks like you won the bet again," the football team's best defenseman, Ross Armstrong, stated as he flashed Kate a grin. Kate half-listened to their remarks as she scanned the room, looking for anyone else she might know. "When are you going to claim your prize?"
Kate ignored Chris's remark as she found John within the crowd.
Kate was surprised to find herself somewhat enjoying the party and catching up with friends from school. She slowly began to relax. Maybe she was wrong to keep herself stuffed in her room. Halfway through the party, however, Chris finally wanted his prize. He found her talking with Everice. Pulling her away, he said he wanted to show her the remodeling they had done on the second floor. They walked up to the main floor and down the hall toward the stairway leading to the upper level.
"Why are we going up there?" Kate asked, stopping at the bottom with an innocent look in her eyes. Chris paused on the stair above, his hand grasping hers. Though her face only showed curiosity, her temper was creeping close to the edge, as she knew his room was upstairs. She might be young, but she wasn't naïve and had heard several rumors about Chris's personality. She had learned at a young age to control her emotions and not let them show. Though a few people could get her riled up, the majority of the time, Kate was hard to read.
"I told you, we did some remodeling," Chris said softly as he tugged on her arm. His light green eyes lost their humor when she didn't move.
Out of the corner of her eye, Kate noticed that five of Chris's friends were blocking the hallway leading back to the living room. She turned toward them as they started laughing. The stairs creaked above the music as Chris came to stand behind her. Kate didn't flinch as his arm snaked around her waist, pulling her back against his rock-hard chest.
"Come on, Kate," Chris stated.
"Time to claim his prize," one of the guys said as she turned back to face Chris. Chris's smile broadened when she leaned into him, placing her hand on his chest.
"I was the prize in your bet?" Kate asked, her tone light. Chris nodded as he tried to pull her in closer. "It's funny how you think you can claim someone like property. I'm not going up with you."
"Oh, come on, Kate. It's just a bet," Chris said. She tried to push away, but he tightened his grip on her waist. Kate took one last glance behind her, taking in the close space and how many people were between her and the living room. Chris's friends had formed ranks, taking their cues from Chris to not let her pass. Though the living room was full of people, she knew no one would come to her rescue. John was still in the basement and would have been her only help if she didn't want to start a fight. "I promise it'll be fun."
"Really?" Kate said, her muscles tensing. "You promise? And if I don't want to go?"
Chris let out a huff. "You saying you don't want to?"
Kate lifted her eyebrow as she tried to push away from him. He ignored the gesture and took her wrist. She waited until he moved to take a step up, and then quick as lightning, she grabbed the hand holding her wrist and forced him to let go. Before he could recover, she shoved Chris up the stairs. Caught off guard, he dove face-first into the stairs, barely stopping his nose from being broken on impact.
Kate stopped at the bottom of the stairs, noticing the first of the four blocking the hallway making a grab for her. Sidestepping, she grabbed his arm, using his momentum to crash him into the wall. Another grabbed her arm to get her off his friend. As he swung her around, she moved, punching her left fist into his face with enough force to cause him to black out.
The last two glanced at each other, surprise clear on their faces. Kate heard Chris getting up, the stair beneath his feet groaning over the music. She moved toward the two blocking her way, her eyes piercing theirs as if daring them to stand in her way. They moved aside to let her pass, edging along the hall to check on the other two Kate had taken out.
The group in the living room hadn't noticed the fight, or if they had, they decided it wasn't important enough to investigate. Kate ignored the group as she quickly made her way out the front door. Chris was calling for her, which eventually got the others to notice something was off.
"Kateen, get back here!" she heard Chris yell as he rushed out of the house. Others began spilling out after him to see what all the commotion was about. Kate glanced over her shoulder, seeing John had made it out of the house. He raised his eyebrow, something she could easily see even from at the sidewalk. She shook her head and continued walking.
"Kateen ..." Chris was interrupted by the sound of fifteen motorcycle hovercraft engines blaring to life only a few houses down the street. These bikes were similar to old crotch rockets but could go over 250 miles per hour and had better steering.
What do they want? Kate wondered, thinking how the night had just gotten a lot worse. She continued casually walking down the sidewalk, pretending to be focused on her path, though her body was on alert.
One of the bikers pulled up in front of her, blocking her path while the others created a semicircle around them. She heard someone in front of the house dialing their cell for the police. Kate could hear the dispatcher speaking as the guy in front of her cut off the engine.
He grinned mischievously; his black hair was cropped short and accented his gray eyes. He had fair skin and a lean body, but Kate knew he was stronger than he looked. His arms were bare, shown off by his black T-shirt, the sleeves having been either ripped or cut off. A tribal tattoo was splayed on his left shoulder.
"Hey, Kate," CJ Alomeray stated. As a leader of the New York Blade gang, he had a reputation of being one of the most violent men in the city. "Still lookin' good. How come ..." He smiled slightly, stroking his chin. "How come you didn't go down to the dock like you were supposed to?"
"Maybe I didn't feel like it," she said, her voice having a slight edge as her temper began to rise once more. In the distance, she heard sirens approaching, the sound easing some of the tension building up since she had heard the bikes. With backup on the way, the chances of innocent bystanders getting hurt were narrowing. "You might want to leave; the cops will be here any minute."
"Only if you come with me," he said, indicating there was enough room on his bike for her.
"In your dreams, CJ," she said, turning around. One of his colleagues had gotten off his bike to stand behind her. Kate gritted her teeth as she found CJ's second in command, Joe Morray, blocking her path. Before she could say anything to the stubborn male in front of her, John came in to help Kate.
"Back off, CJ," John said forcefully.
"John, I can handle this," Kate said, her muscles tightening before she forced herself to relax once more. Past experience had taught her to stay relaxed until the last minute. It also gave her an advantage against her opponents because they couldn't tell when she was going to strike. She had trained her body not to give any hints of the attack.
"You can't, and you know it," John retorted, now standing a few feet from Kate. Blue and red lights flashed from their right, alerting everyone the cops had finally arrived. CJ grabbed Kate from behind and held her hostage, a seven-inch knife at her throat.
"Let us go, or I'll kill her," CJ said, tightening his hold on Kate's neck.
Kate held still, cursing her stupidity at turning her back on her enemy. John stood frozen a few feet away, wanting to help, but Kate gave a slight shake of her head. She didn't want him getting hurt because she hadn't watched her back. Kate had been attacked by the group before and had gotten away. Knives were one of CJ's favorite weapons, and she wasn't too worried about the blade next to her throat. What did concern her was the type of metal the knife seemed to be made of. As CJ had brought the knife out, she had been able to see that the actual blade of the knife had a metallic blue crystal or metal edge to it. It was the first time she had seen metal—if that was what it was—of this type, let alone in the hands of a Blade member. Some of the other members of the gang had coated their weapons in poison, giving them another edge over their opponents, but CJ wasn't usually one to practice this.
Excerpted from The Recruit by BRANDI LYNN SMITH Copyright © 2012 by Brandi Lynn Smith. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. 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
Great book!! Definitely check it out. I can't wait until the next one comes out!
This book is what the sci-fi/fantasy genre needs. It draws you in and has you wonder where things will end up next!