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Kissed By Shadows (Kissed By Shadows Series, Book 1): Kissed By Shadows

Kissed By Shadows (Kissed By Shadows Series, Book 1): Kissed By Shadows

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Kissed By Shadows (Kissed By Shadows Series, Book 1): Kissed By Shadows

évaluations:
4/5 (1 évaluation)
Longueur:
336 pages
5 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jul 4, 2017
ISBN:
9781386465287
Format:
Livre

Description

***Kissed By Shadows is a must read for fans of A Shade of Vampire, Twilight and The Mortal Instruments.***

Meet Atlas Morgan; the hero who just found the villain of her dreams…
A ruthless, demonic army stands ready to attack; to bathe in the blood of all mankind. The only thing that has protected us from them is a mystical river which will run dry by midnight of the winter solace. 

The paranormal community— referred to as Shadows—has been given seven chances to complete a quest that will replenish the river. They have failed six times. So, for the seventh and final time, the Shadows look to an unlikely source--seventeen-year-old human girl--Atlas Morgan. 

Atlas has just lost the only person in the world that ever truly loved her—her mother.  Though she is drowning in grief and sorrow, when she learns she is the chosen one, she gathers up the courage to agree to the quest. However, Atlas encounters something far more frightening than Werewolves, Vampires and Witches—love. His name is Kane and she's shocked to learn that, like her, Kane has been chosen too--not to save the world but to end it… 

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jul 4, 2017
ISBN:
9781386465287
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Lola StVil was seven when she first came to the US from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She attended Columbia College in Chicago, where her main focus was creative writing. She is the author of the best-selling Guardians series and the Noru series.

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Kissed By Shadows (Kissed By Shadows Series, Book 1) - Lola StVil

Note

"Between the idea and the reality

Between the motion and the act

Falls the Shadow…"

—T.S. Eliot

The bank will be closing in ten minutes, and Mr. Porter wants to be done with me quickly so he can get to the last five remaining customers. But as eager as he is to move on, our business is far from over. I lean forward and look over at him from across the desk. I remind myself to stay calm, as I’m certain there has been some kind of mistake.

I don’t understand. Can you please repeat that? I instruct.

Certainly. Your mother, a long-time customer here at Federal Star Bank, did set aside a college fund for you as you said. However, over time, there were withdrawals made, he says.

Yeah, I know. After my mom died, my dad lost his job. We went through a really rough time financially. So we agreed that he would withdraw a total of two thousand dollars, for two months’ rent. That was back in January. Since then, I’ve found a job in a café slash bookstore downtown. It’s called Time Enough At Last. Do you know it? I ask.

"Oh, I love that place. It’s named after my favorite Twilight Zone episode. It’s the one about the guy who loved books more than people. And he hated everyone around him because they got in the way of his reading. Then a nuclear bomb goes off and the world ends. He’s in a bunker, so he wasn’t harmed.

He’s thrilled when he comes out of the bunker and finds that he’s alone in the world and has all the time in the world to read. But then he accidently steps on his glasses and is left in a world full of books he can’t read. Then he shouts out in total despair, ‘That’s not fair! That’s not fair!’ Mr. Porter says with his fist in the air, clearly lost in the moment.

I look over at him, not sure what to say. He looks around as if he’s forgotten where he is. He then composes himself and goes back to banking mode.

I’m sorry. I just loved that show, he admits.

Yeah, I got that. Anyway, I’ve been working there for six months now, and my dad got a job at the new construction site on Atlantic Ave., I reply.

Yes, that’s very nice.

All of that is to say, Mr. Porter, you are mistaken. There hasn’t been seventy-seven withdrawals from that account; there’s only been two, I reply, determined to keep my voice steady.

Ms. Morgan—

Atlas, I reply.

Atlas. Your father did make the two withdrawals you spoke of; I see it here on my screen. But he continued to make withdrawals. Seventy-seven of them, he says sadly. A violent chill rips through me and causes me to shiver. My mouth is dry, my heart is racing, and someone is sucking all the air out of the room.

I look at my reflection in the surface of Mr. Porter’s shiny nameplate. My blue-gray eyes are wide with worry. My lips part in an attempt to get more air inside my lungs. Beads of sweat form on my forehead, causing strands of my long blonde hair to stick to the side of my face. I’m only sixteen, but I swear I’ve aged a thousand times in the past few minutes.

My dad had a gambling problem when my mom met him; he eventually gave it up for her. He wouldn’t go back to that life; it nearly destroyed his marriage.

He’s not married anymore. His wife is gone.

Dad’s fallen apart since Mom died. He’s gone from social drinking to pass out drunk at ten in the morning. Could his drinking have led him back to his old vice?

No, Dad knows how hard Mom worked to help me pay for college. He’d never gamble the money away.

Maybe he took out a few hundred because he needs money and couldn’t bring himself to come and talk to me. That’s not so bad. Yeah, I’ll have to work a few double shifts at the bookshop and struggle to buy books for the first semester, but that’s not the end of the world.

Alright. There’s supposed to be fifty-three thousand in the account. How much is there? I ask, trying my best to sound polite and in control.

Please, tell me there is at least fifty thousand left in the account. I can even deal with a balance of forty-nine thousand. What if it’s lower? Forty-eight thousand? That would suck, but I can deal all the same. Yes, I can deal with that.

Mr. Porter, please. How much money is left in the account? I push, unable to stop the ringing in my ears.

I can print out the balance for you, he says.

NO! I shout as I jump out of my chair. Everyone at the bank turns to look at me. My outburst even catches the attention of the security guards at the door. He starts to walk over to us. Mr. Porter signals to him that everything is okay, then the banker silently warns me to control myself. I sit back down, inhale deeply, and try again.

Mr. Porter, I can’t wait for you to click the button and then walk all the way over to the other side of the bank to fetch it from the printer. Please, just tell me. How much money is left in my college fund?

Ms. Morgan, you have a remaining balance of one hundred and twenty-three dollars and forty-seven cents.

***

Getting air into my lungs has become an impossible task. It’s as if someone has clamped my chest with a steel grip claw and is squeezing the life out of me. My head begins to spin. Mr. Porter and everyone around me are now going around in a circle. I stand up only to learn that my knees are no longer willing to hold me up. I grab hold of the table seconds before I fall down.

Air, I just need air.

I tell my knees that everything will be okay if they just gather up enough strength to get me to the exit. I just need to get outside because someone has taken all the air from the bank. Mr. Porter is saying something, but I can no longer hear him. He’s been put on mute in my head. In fact, the whole world has been silenced. All I can hear is my heart pounding as I try once again to stand upright. I’m wobbling, but at least I’m standing. I head to the exit, push past the heavy glass door, and make it to the outside.

Air, yes!

I lean on the side of the building as air fills my lungs. The crisp, cold New York City wind blows past my face and whips my hair around in every direction. It’s February, and downtown Brooklyn has been invaded by dark and murky skies. It’s only six in the evening, but night is already headed for us.

New Yorkers walk past me quickly, with their thick coats, scarves, and hats. But I can’t stand anything thick and heavy on me right now. So, I take off my coat and scarf and let them fall to the ground. I need to feel the air rushing through me. I need to feel the bitter cold to know that I’m still alive. But as the air revives me, it also allows me to focus on what Mr. Porter said. I hear his voice over and over again.

Ms. Morgan, you have a remaining balance of one hundred and twenty-three dollars and forty-seven cents.

Suddenly, I know what I have to do. I have to run from Mr. Porter and his numbers—run far and run fast. That’s the only way to make Mr. Porter’s voice fade away. I grab my coat and scarf off the ground and flee. I could run home, but the thought of confronting my father right now is too much. I am so beside myself I don’t know what I would do. I can’t go home. So, I head the opposite direction, towards the bookshop.

Time Enough At Last is the oldest bookshop in Brooklyn. It’s located at 1 Water St., in an area of Brooklyn called DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It’s nestled right on the river. It has panoramic views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty. This location is so sought after, the owner, Maxine Corbin, turns down offers every other day. She refuses to sell because the bookshop has been in her family since the 1800’s. Back then it was called Words & Wisdom. And they sold all sorts of books. But when Maxine’s mother passed it on to her, she changed the name.

It’s not just the location that keeps customers coming by; it’s the atmosphere. The shop has a warm cozy feel to it, thanks to the rich dark-colored chairs and soft leather sofas. The large worn area rugs, soft lighting, and various trinkets from Maxine’s travels, all help to give the shop a very homey feel.

It’s a specialty bookshop that deals with science fiction and fantasy books. And while our inventory isn’t as large as other booksellers, we have some real treasures. We have a first edition of Fellowship of the Rings signed by Tolkien. It’s worth over five grand, so we keep it in a locked glass case. We have a first edition of A Wrinkle in Time and Carrie by Stephen King.

The books aren’t the only things that make us popular. We also have a bar where we serve an extensive collection of teas and coffee from around the world. The drinks are pricy, but we serve them in mugs that are so huge, you can crawl into them and swim. And if you get hungry, we’ve got you covered; we serve sandwiches, breads, and pastries.

Just beyond the bar is a black wall that customers can write on with colorful chalk. Sometimes while waiting for their drinks customers will write a quote from a book or movie. Sometimes they write random thoughts; some are sweet, some are racy, and some make no sense. I applied to a bunch of places when I was looking for work, and I really don’t recall applying to the bookshop, but I must have because they called me in.

Normally, I love walking in and seeing customers milling around, sipping tea and coffee while they dive into a new book or, better yet, into a book they’ve read a hundred times before. But today I want to be alone. I don’t want to serve anyone or answer any questions. That’s why I’m relieved to see the sign on the glass door as I place the key in the lock.

Closed early for inventory.

I had completely forgotten it was inventory time. Normally, I hate it because Maxine refuses to use the app we got her to help her keep track of all the books. She insists that we check everything by hand. It takes days to finish. The two other staff members and I try to change her mind, but she’s old and hates change. So, we all take turns going through the inventory, and today it’s my turn. So, I’m relieved to say, the shop is empty.

As soon as I enter and close the door behind me, it begins to rain. The thunder outside seems to be shouting angrily at someone. The wind has picked up and is now sending debris flying past the window. The rain is so heavy the people running by are hardly visible as they run towards Clark Street Subway station. I throw my stuff onto the nearest sofa and burst into tears.

The money’s gone. It’s all gone, I say out loud to the white rabbit sitting in the cage across the room. Her name is Alice. I know it’s silly, but sometimes, when no one is around, I talk to her. I confess stupid things like having eaten an entire pizza pie when I’m depressed. Or sometimes I’ll tell her a secret like how sometimes I miss my mom so much I take her favorite bottle of perfume to school with me.

I worked so hard to make Mom proud. If I keep my grades up, I’ll be graduating early, just like she wanted. And I’ll get into NYU, just like she did. How could he do this to me? How could my dad take all the money? You know what’s the worst part? It was all I had left of her. It’s like he took my mom from me all over again, I blubber as tears fall down my face. I don’t like to cry, but if I do, it is never in front of anyone. I held in my tears at my mom’s funeral, and everyone kept saying it’s okay to cry. And I remember thinking my tears are for my mom, not for you or anyone else.

My cell phones rings—it’s my father. I send him to voicemail. But then I call him back. Actually, my anger calls him back.

Hi, honey, I just wanted to make sure you were okay in the shop by yourself, he says like we’re in some kind of 1950s’ movie and everything is just fine.

Bastard!

Well, Dad, I’m actually not okay, I inform him bitterly.

What’s wrong, Lissy?

Are you gambling again? I ask.

There is a small gasp on the other end of the phone. He’s silent.

What’s wrong, Dad, can’t think of a good lie? I demand.

Honey, I can explain… he says.

Explain why you stole fifty-five thousand dollars from my account? Explain how you wasted all of Mom’s hard work? Do you have any idea how many adult diapers she had to change to be able to save up that kind of money? How many backbreaking nights she spent at the nursing home pulling double shifts so she could help me go to college? How long did it take you to spend the money she spent a lifetime saving?

I know, honey, I know. But the situation isn’t really that bad. I can fix it, he begs.

FIX IT? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! I shout into the phone.

Hey, watch how you talk to me, Lissy, he scolds.

Don’t worry about it, Dad. I won’t be talking to you like that again—I won’t be talking to you ever.

C’mon, honey. I know I messed up but I have a way to fix this. I have a way to fix everything. Just give me a chance to explain everything. That’s all I ask.

Fine. Talk. Tell me how you plan to fix this. I reply between clenched teeth.

I got a very reliable tip about this horse—

I hurl the phone at the wall. It splits open and shatters as it hits the floor. How could I be so stupid? Why didn’t I check on the account sooner? Why didn’t I stop him? I rake my hand through my hair and curse my existence.

I’m sorry, Mom. I’m so sorry.

I hear someone banging on the back door in rapid succession. That can only be one person, Sadie. Sadie was a patient at the Dover nursing home where my mom used to work. She’s eighty-three and has stark white hair that’s as wild as her stories.

Sadie’s family couldn’t afford to keep her in the nursing home anymore, so they had to send her to a state facility. She lasted about two days, then she ditched the place and started living on the street. She refuses to go back and won’t move in with her family because she doesn’t want to be a burden.

Sadie prides herself on never taking charity. So, when I ran into her on the street a few months ago, it was like pulling teeth to get her to let me buy her lunch. The only way she let me feed her was if she gave me something in return. She looked into her shopping cart and took out some random trinket, and I marveled over how amazing it was. I told her that there was no way I could live without whatever it was she had and that I would trade with her. I’d buy her a sandwich, coffee, and scone; in return she’d give me her most precious stones and trinkets. I placed them in a square tin under the counter. I call them Sadie tokens.

When I’m working by myself on nights like this one, Sadie knocks on the back door and I let her in. I make her something to eat, and she tells me these wild stories about worlds on the brink of extinction. I told her she should write her stories down and try to get them published, but she says she likes having me as her only captivated reader.

I hear the knocking once again, but this time it’s louder. I pull myself together enough to head towards the door. I don’t feel like having company, not even Sadie. My whole life has imploded and I don’t want an audience for that. But I’m going to open the door anyway because I have no idea if she’s eaten today, and I can’t let her go without any food. And it’s raining like crazy out there; she needs a nice warm and dry place.

As I place my hand on the doorknob, I remind myself that Sadie is like a grandmother to me and if she sees me crying, she’ll worry about me. So I dry my eyes, take in a deep breath, and hope I can bluff her. I open the back door that leads to the alley and put my best smile in place.

Hi, Sadie, I… The words die in my throat as I look down at Sadie on the floor. She’s bleeding from several slashes to her face and body.

Sadie! I shout as I kneel down beside her and try to stop the bleeding. I scan the bookshop for my cellphone. I spot it in pieces on the floor of the bookshop.

Damn my father to hell!

It’s okay, Sadie. I’ll get you help, I promise. The rain is pouring so hard, I’m not sure she hears what I’m saying. My mind is racing; there are a million things I should be doing, but I’m not sure which one to do first. I should get her out of the rain, shout for help, put pressure on the wound, or use the bookshop phone. I should run to the phone, but that would mean leaving her alone and I can’t do that. My mom died alone in the street, and I will not let the same thing happen to Sadie. What should I do?

Bleeding; stop the bleeding.

I peel off my sweater and wrap it around her midsection. Sadie is trying to talk, but I tell her not to waste any energy. The sweater helps slow down the bleeding but not by much because it’s soaked in rainwater. I wrap my arms around her top half and try to drag her inside the shop. She’s too heavy for me, and even if she wasn’t, the rain makes it nearly impossible to get a good grip. Sadie uses every ounce of strength she has left and signals for me to come closer. I place my ears close enough so she can whisper to me.

Get the stones, she says in weak and desperate voice. She must think we’re inside one of her stories, but I don’t have time to play along right now. I have to get her some help.

Sadie, we can play later. Right now, save your strength, okay? I beg as I try to lift her again.

Get. Stone. Now, Sadie shouts as she tries to stand up. She groans as blood oozes out of her even faster.

Sadie, try to be still. I can’t stop to get some trinket you found on the street! I scream frantically. I use all my might and try to slide her into the doorway of the bookshop, but it’s no use. I swallow my fears about leaving her alone and dash back inside the shop. I run over to the phone and call for help. The operator tells me the ambulance is on the way. I run back to Sadie and kneel beside her on the ground in the alley.

It’s okay, help is coming. Hang on, please, I beg as I take her hand in mine, not sure what else I can do. Suddenly Sadie’s eyes widen with fear as she looks over my shoulder. I follow her stare, and there, standing on the rooftop of the building across the ally, is a large, fleshy human-spider hybrid with multiple bulging arms growing out of its back. It has an exposed spinal cord, a mouth packed with needlelike fangs, and three eyes on each side of its face.

What the hell?!

My mouth drops open as I stare at what can’t possibly be real. Suddenly the creature jumps off the rooftop and heads straight for us. I can feel the adrenaline coursing through me as I double my efforts to try and get Sadie inside the shop.

We gotta go! We gotta go! I plead. Sadie, still in her delusional state, begs for me to get the stones.

Damn it, Sadie, we have to get you out of here. The stones are just shiny rocks. They don’t mean anything, I snap. She looks at me in a way that sends chills down my spine almost as bad as the ones I had from the spider freaks coming for us.

The stones. There are just stones. Right?

Screw it! I shout as I run inside the shop and make my way behind the counter. I grab the tin box and head back towards Sadie. The creatures are now only a few yards away. Sadie signals for me to place the stones in a circle. My hands are shaking and my heart is permanently wedged in my throat.

We’re going to die out here in the gutter while I placate a sweet old woman and her stories.

There are six stones, and she’s making me place them in a certain order. But as I’m placing the last stone in the circle, the creature opens its mouth and spews a bright neon-red web in our direction. It latches onto Sadie and starts eating at her skin like acid. I drop the last stone and run to help her.

I dive into the dumpster and feverishly look around for a weapon. I find a metal rod that once belonged to a table of some kind. I grab it, leap out of the dumpster, and run towards the creature. It has Sadie wrapped in its toxic web, and it’s eating through her flesh with every passing second. I frantically wave my hand in front of it to get its attention. But it’s not working, so I lift the rod high above my head and jab it into the beast’s side. It growls in anger as it drops Sadie and turns its attention towards me.

Crap, what now?!

The beast rushes towards me at top speed and spits its web at me. I dive behind the dumpster, with only a second to spare. The beast is now enraged, and it uses its multiple limbs to push the large dumpster out of the way. I am now exposed— there is nothing shielding me from it. I look up and see my reflection in the creature’s many eyes. As it descends on me, I spot a large fragment of broken glass just a few feet away. As the beast plants itself on either side of me with its limbs and opens its mouth, I reach for the glass and plunge it into the underbelly of the creature. It cries out as a black liquid oozes out. The creature is wounded and down but not for long.

We don’t have much time. Helics are self-healing. Place the last stone on the ground, finish the circle, she says as tears flood her eyes. I rush over to her, and I begin to cry, knowing there is no way she is going to survive—her face is pale, and she’s fighting off sleep. She’s going to die.

Sadie, don’t go. Don’t die. Please, I beg.

I am not important; you are. You must finish the circle. She gasps. I do as I’m told and place the last stone in the circle. She tells me to stand inside the circle. I follow her instructions, not sure what else I can do.

You must find Kane; remind him of his vow to me. Remind him, she says. The beast is fully healed now. It’s coming towards her.

It’s coming! I shout as the creature races towards what’s left of my friend. I try to leave the circle and help, but Sadie mumbles a phrase in Latin, and suddenly I’m held in by an invisible force field.

NOOOOOOOOOO! I yell as I pound on the shield holding me captive. It’s no use. It won’t break, no matter how hard I bang against it.

Sadie dips into her wound and gathers some of her blood in her hand. She then flicks her bloodstained fingers towards me. Her blood lands at the base of the circle. Suddenly the stones form a gold-colored whirlwind beneath my feet. The tornado spins at unbelievable speeds, and the scene before me starts to disappear. The last thing I see is the beast descending on Sadie. Moments before the creature tears her body in half like cheap paper, she coughs up her final seven words to me. And much like all of this, they make absolutely no sense.

The whirlwind is so strong; it lifts me up and tosses me in the air. I land on something soft and bouncy. I’m not sure what it is yet because my vision is blurry. When I can finally see clearly, I find myself somewhere unexpected: in some naked guy’s bed.

He’s shirtless and exquisite: six feet five inches, strong chiseled

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