BLOOD OF EDEN BY JULIE KAGAWA PDF
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We always have the landline. She tries again, gives up, turns to me. I shrug and peer into the trees, trying to see the lake. To see Mom again. Last year, I closed my eyes and thought: I wish Dad would not get married. I knew it was impossible. And mean.
I hated Pam already. Her makeup and nail polish, all those different-colored shoes and fancy jewelry. I wished we could keep our cabin for the three of us, like it had always been—just Dad and Abigail and me. It halfway worked. So that wish came true. And this morning we all got in the car, heading north.
I look across the backseat at Abigail.
Sun shines through her brown curls. I bet her wish is about kissing. Memories Abigail Claire was just a baby. I have a lightning-shaped scar on my arm, reminding me of that rain and thunder and lightning. All of us crying except Mom, who did not cry. Or talk.
Or move. We had to leave her on our blanket on the beach. Dad carried Claire, and I walked in front of them up the path to the cabin. TJ was three years old, like I was. By now, it would seem so childish to give him back.
Especially after what happened the night before we left last summer. I love the pine-tree smell as we get close. It makes me feel like I belong here.
, Locked Bag 7002, Chatswood D.C. N.S.W.,
Just one of many things I love: Sunsets reflected on the water. Riding my bike over gravel roads. Loons and swans and water lilies. Dad met Mom when they worked at a camp across the lake, back when they were teenagers. They fell in love, got married, and came here for a month each year. They planned their lives around it—Dad became an English teacher so they could be here every summer.
Our book- shelves are full of her poetry and art books—some with corners still turned back so we can look for the pages she was reading. Her easel stands by the window, holding her watercolor of a birch tree with a bluebird in it. That tree was half as tall back then, compared to now.
Bluebirds still perch on the branches—do great-grandchildren of the one Mom painted fly past our trees? Mom picked up this exact same puzzle piece and fit it in its place.
She got out of jail free with this Monopoly card—and now so can I. I try to picture her and Dad building the new addition the year I was a baby—the year Mom died. He could only save Abigail and me. All three of us must have been so scared.
What happened here? When Dad and Pam drove up last weekend, Abigail and I would have come, too, but our cousin invited us to a roller-skating party, and we stayed home so we could go. When they got back, Dad said, We changed some things around, and we were like, Sure. That sounds good. But this is way more than what he prepared us for: Everything straightened up.
Puzzles and games moved to a top shelf, leaving the game shelf empty—except for a flower vase. My throat tightens. I make myself stay quiet. Claire, can you get the fishing poles and tackle box? Abigail, you can set the cooler over there. Where did they put it?
Deep and cozy, my favorite place to sit and read the books I love where are the books? I catch a look between him and Pam. Dad says, Remember? The back of it had a tear in the cloth.
That word—we— slides by so easily, erasing my word—Mom. I wonder—does it erase Abigail and me? All the stuff from our old life together would make Pam feel like she does not belong.
This rearrangement says: Pam is here to stay. And make room for the baby. But—over there? Plus … Look, I whisper. Abigail sucks air through her nose.
Pam stares out the window, blocking the light, resting her hands on her stomach as she stands there, alone. Cough, Sputter, Blink Claire Dad has this little thing he does— half cough, half sputter, a little blink, before he answers one of our tough questions.
But really? This morning, Abigail, standing with her back to me as she got dressed, said in a quiet voice, Claire, I think I need a bra. I said, Tell Dad, and she said, I will.
Now the two of them are doing the supper dishes, and she tells him. I expect him to go, Blah, blah, blah, my little girl is growing up. But Dad actually blushes and looks down at the dishwater. Abigail glances at me. Pam says, How about tomorrow afternoon? Before I know it, Pam has the whole thing planned, and Abigail has agreed to go.
Just the two of them. But seriously, Dad? Finding new underwear for Abigail is harder than patching up a couple hundred skinned knees? Splinting my broken ankle, halfway up that mountain? Harder than selling Girl Scout cookies in a blizzard? Taking your daughter shopping is suddenly harder than burying Stokie, our three-year-old pet lizard?
Harder than burying Mom? But Pam butts in and tries to tell me what time I should come home.
The First Kiss (The Iron Fey, #1.25)
Sunset Claire, in the kayak Out in the kayak at sunset, water bugs walk across orange light on the water. What if Pam offers me a trip to town? Shopping time has always meant Dad-time to me. I like being alone with Dad—and with myself. Welcome Back The lake She stood on the shore looking out.
Now, in the kayak, she moves across my surface through the water lilies, observing every water bug, each jumping fish, following the birds through air and water.
Two loons call to each other—or do they call to Claire? Every year when the family arrives, she greets me like a good friend, wearing a pair of old jeans, a faded sweatshirt under her life vest. Sometimes a baseball cap, tilted sideways.
Everything well worn, comfortable. She always seems to need a haircut—her shaggy bangs uncut for how long?
She started out taking long, hard strokes. Now she leans back to rest. A school of minnows skims across the rocky bottom. Come on, Claire, over here! Out on the lake, two ducks glide in for a landing.
Abigail turns to me, laughing. Abigail, already past the drop-off, dares me to follow. Water flows from one end of the lake to the other, and near the island the current helps a swimmer who knows how to catch it. Once at the end of last summer, Abigail and I swam out to the island, and Dad rowed his boat beside me to give me a ride back. This year, will I be able to swim all the way out and back?
According to Dad, she and I lit up the room together. Every morning, like the crack of dawn, he says, she was the lake— dark, still, and quiet. Miss a couple lettings and the guards came for you, forcing you to pony up the late blood, even if it left you empty as a limp sack. The vamps got their blood, one way or another.
Being Unregistered let you slip through the cracks. There was no leash for the bloodsuckers to yank on. And since it wasnt exactly a crime, youd think everyone would do it. Unfortunately, being free came with a hefty price. Unregistereds didnt.
And since the vamps controlled all the food in the city, this made getting enough to eat a real problem. So we did what anyone in our situation would do. We begged. We stole. We scraped up food wherever we could, did anything to survive.
In the Fringe, the outermost circle of the vampire city, food was scarce even if you werent Un- registered. The ration trucks came twice a month and were heavily guarded. Id seen Registered citizens beaten just for getting out of line. So while it wasnt exactly a crime to be Unregistered, if you got caught stealing from the bloodsuck- ers and you didnt have the Princes cursed brand gracing your skin, you could expect no mercy whatsoever.
It was a lesson Id learned well. Too bad these three never did. The pet was still going on, and his audience had their eyes glued to the gallows now, morbidly fascinated. I slipped into the crowd, moving away from the platform. The smug voice rang out behind me, and I clenched my hands, wishing I could drive a fist through his smiling teeth. Damn pets. In some ways, they were even worse than the bloodsuckers.
Theyd chosen to serve the vamps, selling out their fellow humans for the safety and luxury it brought. Everyone hated them, but at the same time everyone was jealous of them, as well. The rules regarding Unregistered citizens are clear. The pet was wrapping up, stretching out his words for the great- est effect. According to clause twenty-two, line forty-six of New Covington law, any human found stealing within city limits, who does not have the mark of protection from the Prince, shall be hanged by the neck until they are dead.
Do the accused have any last words? I shook my head. Brave words wouldnt help him. Nothing would now.
It was fine and good to be defiant to the end, but it was better not to get caught in the first place. That was his first mistake and, ultimately, his last. Always leave yourself an out; that was the first rule of the Unregistereds. Do whatever you wanthate the vamps, curse the petsbut never get caught. I picked up my pace, hurrying past the edge of the crowd, and broke into a jog. The clunk of the trapdoors releasing echoed very loudly in my ears, even over the gasp of the watching crowd.
The silence that followed was almost a living thing, urging me to turn, to glance over my shoulder. Ignoring the knot in my stomach, I slipped around a corner, putting the wall between myself and the gallows so I wouldnt be tempted to look back. They dont have to work, though there are a couple trading posts set up around the Fringe, where people collect what they find and exchange it for other things. They dont have to read; there are no jobs that require it, and besides, owning books is highly illegalso why risk it?
All they have to worry about is feeding themselves, keeping their clothes mended, and patching up whatever hole or box or gutted out building they call home well enough to keep the rain off them. The secret goal of almost every Fringer is to someday make it into the Inner City, past the wall that separates the civilized world from the human trash, into the glittering city that looms over us with its great starry towers that had some- how resisted crumbling into dust.
There are rumors that the vampires breed the humans on the inside, raising the children to be their thralls, completely devoted to their masters. But since none who are Taken into the city ever come out againex- cept the pets and their guards, and they arent talkingno one knows what its really like.
Of course, this only feeds the stories. Did you hear? Stick asked as I met him at the chain-link fence that marked the edge of our territory.
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Beyond the fence, across a grassy, glass-strewn lot, stood a squat old building that my gang and I called home. Lucas, the de facto leader of our gang, said it used to be a school, a place where kids like us gathered every day in huge numbers to learn. That was before the vamps had it gutted and burned, destroying everything on the inside, but it was still a refuge for a gang of skinny street rats.
Three stories high, the brick walls were beginning to crumble, the top floor had fallen in, and the halls were filled with mold, rubble and little else.
The charred halls and empty rooms were cold, damp and dark, and every year a little more of the walls fell away, but it was our place, our safe haven, and we were fiercely protective of it. Hear what? I asked as we ducked through the gap in the rusty fence, striding through weeds and grass and broken bottles to where home beckoned invitingly.
Gracie was Taken last night. Into the city. They say some vampire was looking to expand his harem, so he took her. I looked at him sharply.
Who told you that? Kyle and Travis. I rolled my eyes in disgust. Kyle and Travis belonged to a rival gang of Unregistereds. We didnt bother each other, usually, but this sounded like something our competitors would concoct just to scare us off the streets.
Theyre screwing with you, Stick. They want to scare you. He trailed me across the lot like a shadow, watery blue gaze darting about.
Sticks real name was Stephen, but no one called him that anymore. He was taller than me by sev- eral inches, but my five-foot nothing didnt make this feat all that impressive. Stick was built like a scarecrow, with straw-colored hair and timid eyes. He managed to survive on the streets, but just barely. Theyre not the only ones talking about it, he insisted.
Cooper said he heard her scream a few blocks away. What does that tell you? If its true? That she was stupid enough to go wandering around the city at night and probably got herself eaten. We ducked through the broken door frame into the dank halls of the school. Rusty metal lockers were scat- tered along one wall, a few still standing, most dented and broken. I headed toward an upright one and yanked the door open with a squeak. The vamps dont stay in their pre- cious towers all the time.
Sometimes they go hunting for live bodies. Everyone knows that. I grabbed the brush that I kept here to go with the mirror that was stuck to the back, the only useable one in the building. My reflection stared at me, a dirty-faced girl with straight black hair and squinty eyes, as Rat put it. At least I didnt have teeth like a rodent. I ran the brush through my hair, wincing at the snags. Stick was still watching me, disapproving and horrified, and I rolled my eyes.
Dont give me that look, Stephen, I said, frowning.
If youre out past sundown and get tagged by a bloodsucker, thats your fault for not staying put or not pay- ing attention. I replaced the brush and shut the locker with a bang. They always come for you when you think youre safe. Marc is pretty torn up about it, Stick said almost sullenly. Gracie was his only family since their parents died. Not our problem.
I felt bad for saying it, but it was true.
In the Fringe, you looked out for yourself and your immedi- ate family, no one else. My concern didnt extend beyond myself, Stick and the rest of our small gang. This was my family, screwed up as it was. I couldnt worry about the trials of everyone in the Fringe. I had plenty of my own, thanks. Maybe Stick began, and hesitated. Maybe shes happier now, he continued. Maybe being Taken into the Inner City is a good thing. The vampires will take better care of her, dont you think?
I resisted the urge to snort. Stick, theyre vampires, I wanted to say. They only see us as two things: slaves and food. Nothing good comes from a bloodsucker, you know that. But telling Stick that would only upset him more, so I pretended not to hear. Where are the others? I asked as we walked down the hall, picking our way over rubble and broken glass. Stick trailed morosely, dragging his feet, kick- ing bits of rock and plaster with every step. I resisted the urge to smack him.
Marc was a decent guy; even though he was Registered, he didnt treat us Unregistereds like vermin, and even spoke to us on occasion when he was making his rounds at the Wall. I also knew Stick had feelings for Gracie, though he would never act on them. But I was the one who shared most of my food with him, since he was usually too scared to go scavenging by himself. Ungrateful little snot. I couldnt watch out for everyone; he knew that. Lucas isnt back yet, Stick finally mumbled as we came to my room, one of the many empty spaces along the hall.
Plastic bags covered the shattered windows, keeping out the rain and damp. An old mattress lay in one corner with my blanket and pillow. Id even managed to find a folding table, a couple chairs and a plastic shelf for various clutter, little things I wanted to keep.
Id built a nice little lair for myself, and the best part was my door still locked from the inside, so I could get some privacy if I wanted. What about Rat? I asked, pushing on my door. As the door squeaked open, a wiry boy with lank brown hair jerked around, beady eyes widening.
He was older than me and Stick, with sharp features and a front tooth that stuck out like a fang, giving him a permanent sneer. Rat swore when he saw me, and my blood boiled. This was my space, my territory. He had no right to be here. Rat, I snarled, bursting through the doorway. Why are you snoop- ing around my room? Looking for things to steal? Rat held up his arm, and my stomach went cold. In one grubby hand, he held an old, faded book, the cover falling off, the pages crumpled.
I recognized it instantly. It was a made-up story, a fantasy, the tale of four kids who went through a magic wardrobe and found themselves in a strange new world. Id read it more times than I could remember, and although I sneered at the thought of a magical land with friendly, talking animals, there were times when I wished, in my most secret moments, that I could find a hidden door that would take us all out of this place.
What the hell is this? Rat said, holding up the book. Having been caught red-handed, he quickly switched to the offensive. Why are you collecting garbage like that?
As if you even know how to read. He snorted and tossed the book to the floor. Does Lucas know about your little trash collection? Thats none of your business, I snapped, stepping farther into the room.
This is my room, and Ill keep what I want. Now get lost, before I tell Lucas to throw you out on your skinny white ass. Rat snickered. He hadnt been with the group long, a few months at most. He claimed hed come from another sector and that his old gang had kicked him out, but hed never said why. I suspected it was because he was a lying, thieving bas- tard.
Lucas wouldnt even have considered letting him stay if we hadnt lost two members the previous winter. Patrick and Geoffrey, two Unregistered brothers who were daring to the point of stupidity, who bragged the vampires would never catch them. They were too quick, they claimed. They knew all the best escape tunnels.
And then one night they went out looking for food as usualand never came back. Kicking the book aside, Rat took a threatening step for- ward and straightened so that he loomed over me. You got a big mouth, Allie, he snarled, his breath hot and foul.
Better watch out. Lucas cant be around to protect you all the time. Think about that.
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He leaned in, crowding me. Now get out of my face, before I bitch slap you across the room. Id hate for you to start crying in front of your boyfriend.
He tried pushing me back. I dodged, stepped close and slammed my fist into his nose as hard as I could. Rat shrieked, staggering backward, hands flying to his face. Stick yelped from behind me. Blinking through tears, Rat screamed a curse and swung at my head, clumsy and awkward. I ducked and shoved him into the wall, hearing the thump of his head against the plaster.
Get out of my room, I growled as Rat slid down the wall, dazed. Get out and stay out, Rat.
If I see you in here again, I swear youll be eating through a straw the rest of your life. Rat pushed himself upright, leaving a smear of red on the plaster. Wiping his nose, he spat a curse at me and stumbled out, kicking over a chair as he left.
I slammed and locked the door behind him. Thieving, lying bastard.Arent you? I didnt want to risk thievery with so many of the pets guards wandering about. I wish I had him for a brother. And return anything you borrowed recently, just in case.
Nothing would now. None of that is true