by Stacey Nash
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication date: September 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Continuing on from Forget Me Not and Remember Me, this is the thrilling third novel in Stacey Nash’s unforgettable series.
Since the strike on Collective territory during Anamae’s rescue, things have taken a turn for the worse. Unprovoked attacks on innocent people have Anamae and her friends fighting day and night to minimize the damage. With hundreds of lives lost, morale amongst the resistance fighters has plummeted. But that’s the least of her worries.
Manvyke still has Anamae’s mom, Annie, secreted away somewhere and after the way they parted, Anamae worries it’s not at her mother’s bidding. Maybe Annie’s disappearance all those years ago wasn’t her choice. But with Manvyke scouring the world, there’s something far more pressing than the need to find Anamae’s mother …
It’s a fight against time to find the other keys before Manvyke. In his hands, the three relics could unlock enough power to reek a much worse havoc than the current issues at hand. If the councillor gets his hands on those keys, civilization will bow down.
THE RACE IS ON.
This is my life now.
The same every day. Well, almost every day. Today, it’s Wednesday. Wednesdays and Saturdays are different.
On those days, he comes.
I look from the door to the window and back again. My whole body tense with the anticipation of him and the show I’ll have to put on. The show that I don’t care. That I’m strong.
I’m unflinching, when on the inside I’m absolutely not.
The pale walls—a creamy-dirty pink—are a reflection of my constant mood: dull, monotonous. But I have no regrets. I’d do it all again.
Anything to save them.
Click, click, thwack. The round lock at the top of the door flicks open first, followed by each one below. The brass, chrome, and silver knobs rotate quickly and snap to the unlocked position: all from the other side of the door. It’s not possible to unlock them from the inside. I
should know; I’ve tried a hundred times over.
I take the two generous steps from my place by the window to the red suede couch and sink into it, lying back with arms roped across my chest, my eyes closed.
The door creaks open.
My heart accelerates, and not in the way it might at seeing a loved one, but in the nervous anticipation of an enemy about to walk into my life.
Like he does twice a week.
Silence hangs in the air for several moments while I breathe slowly—pretending to sleep.
I’m not playing his game today.
We’re too late.
The minute I step out of the alley with my crew of resistance fighters I can tell. Blood, so much blood everywhere. And the silence. You’d think in the midst of such horror it’d be loud:
people screaming, wailing, crying even. But it’s not. The silence is almost deafening.
My heart constricts like someone tugged at its laces.
We’re too late.
We can only help the survivors now and that’s the horrid truth. On autopilot, I walk then run to the closest victim. A woman sprawled on the ground, blood covering every inch of her, so I can barely make out the color of her blouse. She moans when I hold my fingers to her neck,
checking for a pulse.
Not too late for her, thank god.
“I’ve called 911.” Will’s voice echoes through my mind. Even with the lack of inflection due to the telcom I can hear the sorrow in his words.
“Damn it,” Jax says through the same tech device, “we’re getting later each time.”
And he’s right, we are. More people perish with each attack and all because we can’t reach them in time to intercept the Collective. I’ve never felt so useless.
The woman groans—a long drawn-out noise like no other I’ve ever heard—and slowly sound returns to the scene. Moaning, whimpering, noises of pain, and my friends’ voices pitched low and soothing as we reassure the wounded it’s okay. They’ll be okay. Even though sometimes
we know that they won’t. Like this woman. Each ragged breath now comes a little shorter and sharper than her last. I hate the damn Collective for stealing people’s lives, but she doesn’t need to see that.
“I’m here. You’re okay.” I rest my hand on her sticky arm.
Her breath hitches, she gives a last weak heave and she’s gone, her head rolling to the side.
We are too late.
The saddest thing in this whole mess is that I can’t cry. I’ve seen so much it’s like nothing’s left in me but hatred. My compassion is drained. I glance around trying to decide where I’m needed most, but too many dead and wounded lay in the open-air amphitheater that it’s impossible to know where to turn next. In places, the bodies pile on top of each other, just lying where they fell.
So much loss and devastation and for what? Because the Collective want to send a message to us; that they’re in control, that the resistance is hurting more people, not helping.
Somehow I don’t think us backing off will help.
A guy walks toward me, his T-shirt—an advertisement for the main band—a tattered mess with his bloody shoulder peeking through a gaping hole. His eyes lock on me, but they’re unseeing, glassed over like he’s retreated inside his mind. He steps over and around those on the ground as if he knows right where they are without looking.
Hate isn’t a strong enough word for how I feel about the Collective.
I dread the day we might turn up to find one of my friends, like Cynnie or Xane. I’m not sure how I’d react, but I like to think I won’t see them. That neither of my free-thinking friends would be involved in something like this, regardless of agent duty.
It doesn’t take long before the wail of sirens fills the air and as the paramedics arrive on the scene, we’re no longer needed. Jax and Will both appear at my side looking as somber as I feel. Today we have another person who’s seen too much, left with too little, and has no choice but to port with us. We can’t leave him for the Collective’s clean up.
Jax takes a look at the ragged, zombie-like guy and says, “I’ll catch a ride with one of the others.”
I nod, any words I might have had stolen by this day’s horror, then grab my charge and Will to port us out.
Lying on the concrete roof, curled on her side, Mae’s wavy hair is fanned out over the ground. Her shirt riding up her back puts those mind-numbing dimples above the band of her jeans on display. All the fight seeps out of me, leaving only sorrow and I try to take a deep breath, but my lungs won’t fill. It’s like they’re stuffed with water, allowing me to take only half their capacity.
Mae doesn’t move.
I am an ass. I shouldn’t have been so pissed about her and Will. If she said it was nothing,
then it probably was, but seeing him hold her like that when it’s all I’ve wanted for weeks. To be able to ease her pain. And now I’ve probably hurt her. Careful of my bloody shoulder, I lay on the ground behind Mae, curling my body around hers and placing my arm over her, gently.
She doesn’t move, save for the her shuddering breath.
“I’m sorry.” I speak against her head, my lips brushing her hair.
“It’s so hard, Mae. I…”
This isn’t something I ever wanted, but the way I feel about her, it just kind of crept up on me, pulling me further in every day, and now I couldn’t climb out if I tried.
I wind her fingers through mine and pull my arm in around her. Her back pressed against my chest and I don’t care about the blood anymore. The pain either, because right now she’s not pushing me away.
“Everything hurts, Jax.”
“I know, Cupcake.”AUTHOR BIO:
Author of the Collective Series; Forget Me Not, Remember Me, Never Forgotten. And the Oxley College Saga; Shh! and Wait!
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