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       Fated, p.26

           Sarah Alderson
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  Then Shula was gone as though she'd been nothing more than a mirage. One second her body was lying there and the next second there was only a trickle of green ooze pooling on the ground and a leather catsuit spread diagonally across the ground.

  Evie clutched Lucas's arm and looked over at the woman standing over Shula's remains.

  'Jocelyn,' she whispered in a husky voice.

  Jocelyn said nothing; she didn't even look in Evie's direction. She just re-holstered the gun she'd been holding and walked over to the Thirster lying propped against the wall with an arrow stuck through his brain. Before Evie could say her name again, Jocelyn had struck a match and tossed it onto his chest.

  The flame caught and started to crackle. Evie watched as the body suddenly came to life, struggling and writhing against the arrow bolting him to the wall. A long scream tore from his throat as the flames started licking at his flesh, melting it like cellophane.

  Evie shrank behind Lucas's back. The scream and the smell hung in the air even after the body had gone. And only when there was nothing left but four twisted and warped arrowheads lying in a pile of dirty ash did Jocelyn look up.

  She glanced between Evie and Lucas, then down at Risper. Her eyes finally fell on Lucas, on his hand linked with Evie's and the sleek blade in his other hand.

  'You broke your promise,' she said. 'You told her.'

  Evie frowned. What promise?

  Jocelyn smiled wryly. 'And you're still alive,' she said to him.

  Evie glanced at Lucas.

  'She refused point-blank to kill me,' Lucas said quietly. He paused, his voice dropping. 'I love her. I will do my best to keep her safe.'

  Jocelyn weighed him silently for barely a moment. 'Against the Brotherhood? Against all the realms?' she burst out, anger tipping her voice, a sneer replacing the smile. 'Love won't be enough.' She took a step towards him. 'And your best won't be good enough.'

  'Maybe not,' Lucas answered shrugging, holding his ground in the face of her anger. 'But it's her choice.'

  'Where's Victor?' Jocelyn asked, ignoring him, looking at Evie.

  'He's tied up in the store,' Evie answered. 'He killed my parents.' She swallowed. 'Did you know?'

  Jocelyn paused and Evie saw the answer in her eyes even before she spoke it and it was like a slap in the face - a dagger between her ribs. 'Yes.'

  Evie heaved in a breath. How could she have known? How could she? And how could she have lied about it?

  Jocelyn winced as if she had heard Evie's silent accusation. 'I couldn't do anything, Evie,' she said. 'I was powerless. He's much, much stronger than I am. And if I'd tried and he'd killed me then there would have been no one to look out for you - and I'd sworn to your parents that's what I would do.'

  Evie stared at her, speechless.

  'You didn't kill him when you had the chance?' Jocelyn asked, turning to Lucas, unable it seemed to stand the way Evie was staring at her.

  Lucas shook his head in answer.

  Jocelyn frowned at him.

  'Come on,' Evie said quietly, pulling Lucas by the hand forward, past Jocelyn, past Risper, without looking at either, without taking her eyes off the road ahead and their way out, past the scorched ground where the Thirster had lain. And she didn't let go of Lucas's hand because it was the only thing that was keeping her from falling, it was the only thing that was real. And holding on to him was the only sure way she knew of keeping him from disappearing.

  'Don't come after us,' she said to Jocelyn over her shoulder, 'and tell Victor not to try either.'

  'Where are you going?' Jocelyn yelled, her voice echoing like a shot off the walls. 'There is nowhere you can go. They will find you. The Brotherhood . . . Victor . . . you can't run away, Evie! Look what happened to you parents!'

  Evie stopped. She turned around slowly to face Jocelyn and felt Lucas at her side, turning with her, his arm brushing hers, steadying her.

  'We're not running away,' she said, her voice low and sure, 'we're going to end this. Lucas and I. Without you, and without Victor.' And for the first time since she'd read about the prophecy, and understood her parents' cryptic message to her, she felt absolutely sure of herself and of exactly who she was.

  'I'm not a Hunter any more,' she said, smiling. 'I'm the White Light.'


  Thanks to:

  Kerrie, Jamieson, Karen and Tom, whose beautiful house in California provided everything I needed to start this book. And Kadek for doing everything in our house in Bali, enabling me to finish it.

  John and Alula for the love and sandwiches. And extra special thanks to Alula for her patience sitting in a car seat for days on end whilst we road-tripped around California.

  My brother, whose judgement is always spot on, and who taught me to always trust my instincts when writing.

  My mum, for teaching me to trust my instincts regarding everything else but mainly about not getting into cars with strange men.

  My dad for pointing out that vinegar's acidic (even the balsamic kind) and suggesting bicarbonate of soda might make a better choice of Mixen anti-venom. I always was bad at science.

  Vic and Nichola, as always, for accompanying me on the journey. It makes the trip a lot less lonely.

  Tara for her generosity, wisdom, kindness and American eye. And Lindsey for the same . . . as well as for the pizza.

  Claire and Paul for letting me be the first guest in their beautiful new house where I found the peace, the Manchego and the red wine required to edit.

  Alby Ball and Suki Zoe for making me look good in the photos - bless you and your fabulous talents.

  All my lovely blog readers and fans whose emails and reviews and tweets make my days and inspire me to keep imagining and keep writing. Thank you so, so much.

  Lobo the dog. I took your name without asking you and hope you don't mind.

  My agent Amanda for being generally wonderful. Discussing Shadow Warrior lore and first kisses in the middle of a traffic island in Covent Garden will always rank as a career high for me.

  My editor Venetia who has guided this novice writer through two books in a few short months - I never knew editing could be so much fun.

  Lydia, Phil and Catherine at Simon & Schuster for providing me with wonderful books, tips on shoes, encouragement and support. You guys rock!

  Table of Contents










































  Sarah Alderson, Fated



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