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       Endless, p.1

           Jessica Shirvington
 
Endless


  THE VIOLET EDEN CHAPTERS

  BOOK ONE: EMBRACE

  BOOK TWO: ENTICE

  BOOK THREE: EMBLAZE

  BOOK FOUR: ENDLESS

  Endless

  Jessica Shirvington

  A Lothian Book, a divison of Hachette Australia

  A Lothian Book, a divison of Hachette Australia

  Published in Australia and New Zealand in 2012

  by Hachette Australia

  (an imprint of Hachette Australia Pty Limited)

  Level 17, 207 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000

  www.hachette.com.au

  Copyright © Jessica Shirvington 2012

  This book is copyright Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be stored or reproduced by any process without prior written permission. Enquiries should be made to the publisher.

  A CIP catalogue record of this book is available from the National Library of Australia.

  978 0 7344 1272 0

  978 0 7344 1273 7 (ebook edition)

  Cover design by Xou Creative www.xou.com.au

  Cover photograph courtesy of photographer Branislav Ostojic, Belgrade, Serbia ([email protected]) and model Kasandra Vukicevic, Belgrade, Serbia

  For

  Phil and Jenny –

  Thank you for all of your love

  and support (and all of the

  research material!)

  The author and publisher would like to thank the following for permission to use copyright material: Estate of C. S. Lewis for a quotation from The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis, copyright © C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1960.

  The author and publisher would also like to acknowledge the following works from which the author has quoted: Douay-Rheims Bible; English Standard Version; The King James Bible; The Nag Hammadi library; The Holy Quran.

  ‘Light and darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor the evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death.’

  The Gospel of Philip

  Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  Chapter Thirty-Six

  Chapter Thirty-Seven

  Chapter Thirty-Eight

  Chapter Thirty-Nine

  Chapter Forty

  Chapter Forty-One

  Chapter Forty-Two

  Angel Hierarchy

  Acknowledgements

  The Violet Eden Chapters

  CHAPTER ONE

  ‘Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.’

  Robert Louis Stevenson

  What do you do the moment your father discovers your dead mother is still alive, standing in his apartment looking not a day older than the day she died – over seventeen years ago?

  It was a decision I never had the chance to make.

  ‘You didn’t need to punch him!’ I screamed, lifting Dad’s unconscious body onto the couch.

  ‘He was going into shock,’ Evelyn said, without the slightest hint of remorse. ‘And you and I haven’t had a chance to talk.’

  This woman was unbelievable. ‘I don’t want to talk to you! Get it through your head!’

  She put her hands on her hips, looking down at me like … like … like a mother. My mind scrambled, struggling to generate anything productive.

  Maybe there’s still time to call Beth. She could come and wipe Dad’s memory.

  But I knew it was too late for that. And hadn’t I come home to tell Dad everything anyway?

  But not like this! And not about her!

  She was still staring at me.

  I harrumphed. ‘What? Did you hit your head tumbling down from your cloud or something?’

  Evelyn blinked, stunned for a moment, before she turned away from me and placed a pillow under Dad’s head. She wiped the hair back from his face.

  Her hand lingered.

  Mine fisted.

  ‘Would you just leave before I call the cops!’ I spat out, furious that she continued to make herself comfortable in my home and so easily ignore me – and my most venomous of death stares.

  She felt for Dad’s pulse and studied his face. ‘He’ll come around soon.’

  Oh, my God. How can this be happening?

  I had just faced off against Phoenix – lost – come home not knowing if my father would even acknowledge me after he’d seen my markings, witnessed him have an extreme panic attack before my returned-from-the-dead mother, Evelyn, oh-so-calmly shoved a fist in his face with supernatural strength.

  Oh yeah. Family reunions-R-us.

  ‘You could’ve broken his jaw!’ I said, at a loss to do anything other than hurl abuse at her. My mother was a stranger to me. All I knew about her was that she’d traded me in the moment I was born, given my destiny to angels, and committed both Dad and I to a lifetime of unanswered questions. Now she was back and I had zero concept of how to deal with her.

  ‘It’s just a bruise,’ she waved me off.

  I stormed into the kitchen, wet a towel and scooped in a handful of crushed ice before stomping back to Dad’s side to dab at where his cheek was already turning purple.

  ‘Before either one of us says anything to James, we should talk,’ Evelyn said, sitting on the coffee table opposite, her fire-blue eyes darting between Dad and me. I could just imagine what was going through her mind.

  Bet you never thought you’d be faced with us again. And never wanted to.

  ‘You mean you need time to think fast so you can bail on him, again.’ Every word tasted sour. I needed to get a grip. I was damned if this woman was going to push me over the edge. ‘Look …’ I blew out a breath. ‘You were right. Knocking him out was a good option. Don’t bother with the balcony, it’s a nightmare to jump down – just use the front door and hide your face from the security guys on your way. When Dad wakes up, I’ll tell him there was an intruder and that he was attacked. He’ll think he was seeing things and let it go.’

  She looked at me, eyes wide. ‘Do you really think I would just run out the door?’

  I almost laughed at her offended tone. ‘Do you really think you won’t?’

  She sighed and glanced at Dad again. ‘You inherited his stubbornness.’ She looked like she wanted to say more but shook her head, frustrated. The movement gave me a small amount of satisfaction. ‘I’m not going anywhere.’

  Come. On.

  I stared at her, wondering if I had time to literally throw her out before he woke up.

  Christ. I can just picture Dad waking up to see his daughter and dead wife ripping each other apart.
<
br />   ‘Please, just go,’ I said. Things would be better once there were several cities between her and us. ‘You don’t belong here.’

  She crossed her arms. But I could tell she was tensed and ready, waiting to see if things were going to get physical.

  My eyes narrowed and the temptation to force her hand rose to the surface. But we both knew I couldn’t risk it.

  ‘Does he know what you are?’ she asked, her shoulders relaxing.

  I slumped back onto my heels. ‘No. But he knows something. He’s read your letter and seen my markings. I was planning to tell him today.’

  She nodded, taking it all in. ‘Well, then, I arrived at the right time. We’ll tell him together. Everything.’

  ‘You’re so thoughtful,’ I sniped.

  Dad started to stir.

  ‘Fine,’ I said. ‘But when you start flinging lies in the air, don’t expect me to go along with them. Unlike you, my version of “everything” will actually contain the truth.’

  Before she could respond, Dad’s eyes fluttered open.

  ‘Violet?’ he said, his voice crackly and uncertain.

  ‘Dad, it’s okay,’ I responded, putting a hand on his shoulder. ‘You’re home and safe.’ I gave Evelyn a warning look then turned my attention back to my father. ‘No one will hurt you again.’

  His eyes came into focus and, despite his confusion, he smiled at me. I smiled back. Then he saw Evelyn. He gasped and I had to grab hold of him to keep him steady as he scrambled to sit up.

  ‘Dad, breathe. You’re going to have another panic attack,’ I said as soothingly as possible.

  His eyes were so wide they were mostly white. ‘Oh, God. I didn’t imagine it. Who are you? You … You look … ’ he stammered.

  Evelyn took a deep breath and locked her eyes on his. ‘You took me on a carriage ride through Central Park on our first date. You only had enough money for half the trip so we were dumped in the middle of the park and had to walk back. You picked flowers for me along the way. When you said goodbye that night, you kissed me and said, “This is only the beginning.” We met for breakfast the following day and every day after that, for the next six months. The first morning we didn’t have breakfast together was our wedding day.’

  Dad was frozen. I think I was frozen too. From one small speech I now knew more about their relationship than Dad had ever told me. And it only made me more livid.

  How could she have done this to him?

  Time seemed to stand still. Evelyn looking at Dad, imploring him to accept this impossibility, Dad staring back at her with disbelief. My eyes shot between the two of them … My parents.

  ‘Evelyn?’ he breathed the word.

  She nodded.

  ‘Are you …’ he swallowed. ‘Are you a ghost?’

  ‘No,’ Evelyn said calmly. ‘I’m human. Mostly.’ Her brow furrowed. ‘I think.’

  ‘Oh,’ Dad said.

  I rolled my eyes at her.

  Great clarification.

  ‘ explain. We would like to be able to tell you everything if you’re willing to listen, but we must warn you – once you know, you will become a part of this world …’ She glanced down, a sadness creeping into her voice. ‘And you can never go back.’

  I ground my jaw. I hated that she was right. I also hated the way she united us. There was no ‘we’. She’d kept her secrets from Dad since the moment they had met. Everything had been a lie. Then, when I was born, she’d accepted an angel’s bargain – probably for a penthouse suite in heaven – and committed me to a life as a Grigori. Sure, I’d had to choose whether to accept it, but I was learning fast: angels are determined beings and what they want, they usually get.

  She would have known that, too.

  Worse, not only had she handed over my fate the moment I was born, she’d given me to an angel of the Sole, making me the one and only human Grigori to have ever been empowered by the highest-ranking and most mysterious order.

  Yeah, I’m high up in the freak department.

  ‘Violet?’ Dad said, interrupting my thoughts, his face still a picture of shock.

  I sighed, drawing my eyes away from Evelyn. ‘It’s her, Dad. I … found her when I was in Greece. Are you sure you’re up to hearing the whole story?’

  He shifted position and began rolling up his sleeves, the way he did when he’d set his mind on something. He took my hand, gripping it tight, and cast a wary glance in Evelyn’s direction.

  ‘I know my daughter. I knew my wife. You look incredibly like her, but she died seventeen years ago and you … You look the way she did the day she died.’ He glanced at her wayward hair. ‘Almost.’

  I smiled, proud of Dad for not just falling into her arms.

  ‘I will hear the entire story, nothing spared.’ He gestured to Evelyn. ‘You know things other people wouldn’t, but that doesn’t prove anything as far as I’m concerned.’ He let go of my hand, stretched his arm across the back of the sofa and raised his eyebrows. ‘Start talking.’

  It must have taken every ounce of courage not to break down right there, not to grab Evelyn and hold her tight – whether he believed it was really her or not. Dad loved her like he loved no other person in this world and I knew nothing had changed that over the past seventeen years.

  Evelyn was staring at him, a thoughtful look on her face. ‘You’ve changed,’ she said finally.

  ‘Apparently you haven’t. Talk!’ Dad demanded.

  Go, Dad!

  Evelyn saw the amusement in my eyes and rolled hers in response.

  ‘I’m human, like you,’ she began, ‘born to two human parents, but when my mother was in late pregnancy she had a placenta rupture. The doctors were able to deliver me, but it was a different time then – they didn’t have the resources they do now. My mother did not survive.’

  My heart sank. I had always thought there was nothing worse than knowing my mother had only held me for a few short minutes. But there was, I could see it in her eyes when she told the story. Her mother had never held her at all.

  Dad shifted in his seat. ‘Evelyn never told me that,’ he said cautiously.

  She smiled sadly. ‘I was scared to give away too much information. I was always careful – it was the way I was trained.’

  Dad maintained a stoic expression. I think it was the only way he could go on.

  ‘Continue,’ he said.

  Evelyn nodded. ‘When a human life is brought into the world, the moments following his or her first breath are vital. Newborns are bathed in the aura of new life. If a child suffers the loss of like-blood, most commonly a parent, within the first twelve days of their life, he or she is also overwhelmed by the aura of new death. When the two opposing forces are so strong, a doorway can be created.’

  ‘What kind of doorway?’ Dad asked, now cautiously glancing in my direction. He was already connecting the dots.

  ‘When new life combines with new death it creates a kind of tunnel.’ She took a deep breath. I found myself doing the same. ‘A tunnel that … an angel can use to transfer a piece of its essence to the body. At seventeen, the child is given the choice of whether or not to embrace the gifts and responsibilities that come with having that essence.’ She looked at me.

  I’d practically stopped breathing.

  ‘An … angel?’ Dad repeated slowly.

  ‘Yes, James. Angels are very real. They aren’t what you probably think they are – they aren’t always kind and they aren’t always cruel but they are definitely always active and a controlling force over our world. If a person who carries an angel essence chooses to embrace, he or she is given – among other things – increased strength, speed, weapons both internal and external, the ability to sense otherworldly beings, a healing capacity, a partner in arms and … while still susceptible to mortality by harm, a much-extended lifespan, ageing increasingly slower the older we get.’ She looked down. ‘We can live for many hundreds of years.’

  I was impressed Dad was still in the room, and upright. He
cleared his throat. ‘How old are you?’

  Evelyn didn’t even blink. ‘I was 187 years old when I died. Now I’m back, I guess you could say I’ve passed my bicentenary.’

  Dad looked at me, wide-eyed. ‘Violet, have you been listening to this? Surely, this isn’t what has been going on with you for the past months? This can’t be real.’

  ‘I wish it wasn’t, Dad.’ I took his hand. It was hot and clammy. ‘But she is who she says and what she says. And just as an angel gave his essence to Evelyn … I’m what they call a Grigori. Part human but also, part angel. I have abilities – but you’ve already seen my wrists.’ I bit my lip nervously, remembering his severe reaction at seeing the swirling silver markings before I’d taken off to Santorini.

  As he looked at them, they started to move with a magic none of us could comprehend, churning like a river of mercury around my wrists. Delicate feathered tips began to emerge in the patterns, matching the design on Evelyn’s wristbands. Dad glanced between us and I noticed Evelyn staring, mesmerised too.

  ‘She said you had to choose to do this. Did you want this, Violet?’

  ‘Not at the beginning. I wanted to finish school, become an artist, be … normal. After everything that happened …’ my voice caught at the memory of the attack.

  Dad nodded, not making me say it aloud. Evelyn watched on silently. There was no way I was about to explain it to her – the way that teacher had attacked me at my old school. Dad and I had done everything we could to try and get life back on track after the court case and all the awful questions.

  ‘What happened?’

  I glared at her, and continued speaking to Dad.

  ‘Grigori all have a partner. A person whose power complements ours the most. Grigori can help to start the healing process in their partners when they are injured. The only problem is, apart from me, Grigori can only heal their own partner. Lincoln’s mine.’

  ‘What do you mean, apart from you?’ Evelyn butted in, impatiently.

  ‘I’m not here to answer your questions!’ I snapped. Again, I turned back to Dad. ‘I have some extra … abilities. Nothing major,’ I said with a shrug. Dad looked at me like I’d just turned green.

 
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