(Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are THREE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM–but there is also a red team and a gold team for chances to win a whole different set of twenty signed books!)
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.
Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Teagan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce since the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.
I wake to the sound of screaming.
Night. My entire body aches; it feels like they broke some ribs with the last beating. Hurts to breathe. Hurts even more to consider what I’ve lost. My vision is blurred, showing me only darkness. I taste blood. I’m bound like livestock, so I can’t tell what’s going on, but the other humans in the pen with me are frightened.
Someone rolls me over and I fight. I try a head-butt, but I can’t tell how many there are. I won’t die like Frank. I won’t.
“Fade, it’s me. Deuce. Can you run?”
At first, I think I’m hallucinating, and then shame and anger washes over me until I’m choking on them in the form of bile in my throat. I can’t stand for her to see me like this; I’d rather die. Why couldn’t you let me go?
I’m still not sure she’s real when I whisper, “…Deuce?”
More screams ring out. The others in the pen with me are running. She’s saved them, too. That makes me feel even worse. This pain is nothing like I’ve known before, nothing like the whippings I took in the livery for angering my foster father. It’s down in the bone. But with her help, I struggle to my feet. Maybe I’m not strong enough, but she is. I can’t be the reason she dies. Trying to save me.
If I was better, stronger, faster—anything—I could’ve stopped this.
“Run,” she begs. “Don’t fight. Don’t stop. Just follow me and run.”
I do. She’s so determined. Each step sends fire lancing through my side. I can’t breathe. I can hardly see. And she’s shoving from behind. I want to scream at her to stop, but she wouldn’t understand. Strength is everything to her.
It might not have been so bad, except when we staggered away from the killing field, I find Stalker waiting in the woods. Of course he came with her. Of course he did. Shame melds with anger, though I know it’s not fair. But he’s my enemy, and I’m now I’m indebted to him.
“You did it,” Stalker murmurs.
I say nothing. Thank you would be insincere when I want to strangle him and I want to punch something, but more shamefully, I also want to crawl away and cry, huddle like an animal and lick my wounds. I can never, ever be strong enough to fight at her side again. She wants a warrior at her back, and I’m… broken. I’m like the people in Salvation now, cowering behind their walls. How can she look at me and see anything but meat? That’s all I am. When you’ve seen what I have, all illusions fall away.
Deuce signals for us to move out, and I follow. What else is there? The pain becomes a white-hot blaze behind my eyes. I can hardly breathe, and the trees are only dark smudges through my swollen eyes. Eventually, she calls for us to make camp. I still haven’t spoken. My words are dry as withered leaves, crunching underfoot, and I break more of them with each stride.
She comes to me, soft and tentative. And it’s so unlike her—that makes it worse. Now she has to be someone else, even to approach me. I jerk back, unable to imagine what her touch will be like when it’s laced with pity. But more than that, I don’t ever want anyone’s hands on me again. My skin crawls.
“Don’t,” I whisper roughly.
I should have died out there. I wish I had.
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Ann Aguirre, and more! To enter, you need to remember that my favorite number is 47. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the blue team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
Still here? On the last night of the contest?
THEN YOU’RE IN LUCK.
For you guys still playing along with the YA Scavenger Hunt on its last night, you have a chance to WIN BOOKS! Just comment below (with a way I can contact you), and FIVE of you will win autographed hardcover copies of my novel BALTHAZAR. I will ship internationally, so anyone can enter and maybe win! But act fast … you only have until noon PST on Sunday, October 6!
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