Authors: Cecily White
Tags: #YA, #teen, #Cecily White, #young adult, #Romance, #Prophecy Girl, #sequel, #Entangled, #angel academy, #Paranormal
All’s fair in love and war. Let the games begin.
Nobody said senior year was going to be easy, but I wasn’t expecting pure hell, either. That’s right. HELL.
Demons attacking. Cheerleaders screaming. Vampires and werewolves asking where the bathroom is. Just another day here at St. Michael’s Guardian Training Academy. It wouldn’t be so bad if the administration would let me get back to my demon-slaying duties like every other angelblood on campus. But with my bondmate Jack promoted to head trainer, my annoying fiancé Luc trying to start a political uprising, and that pesky prophecy still floating around predicting I’m going to kill everyone I love…well, let’s just say “complicated” took on a whole new meaning.
But things are looking up.
If I can survive Luc’s deadly Sovereign Trials and keep my evil twin sister from starting a war, Jack and I might actually have a chance of saving the world. If not, at least I won’t have to worry about what to wear to prom.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Cecily White. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
2614 South Timberline Road
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Visit our website at
Ember is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
Edited by Candace Havens
Cover design by Louisa Maggio
Cover art from Shutterstock
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition March 2016
This book is dedicated to my parents, Russell and Carolyn.
Mom, without you, I wouldn’t understand the world. And Dad, you will always be my hero.
I love you both.
What You Should Know
Most stories start at the beginning. Mine starts a little before that.
Okay, several thousand years before. In order to tell you about me, I have to tell you about them. The angels. Not the frilly, foofy, feather-winged angels you see on Christmas cards. I’m talking about badass, puppy-kicking hellions who turned their backs on heaven and fell to earth in search of freedom and power. Not that I blame them. No matter how noble a cause, being a subservient minion with no access to cheese fries and no hope of vacation isn’t what I’d call a picnic.
So these angels fell. And spent the next few centuries wreaking havoc on humankind. They gave birth to a race of murderous psychopaths called Graymasons who made the puppy-kicking hellions look like Mother Teresa. In fact, Graymasons did so much evil stuff, they actually cracked the boundaries between the worlds and created a middle space we call the Crossworlds. There’s lots of power there, but also lots of demons. Hairy, gross, nasty demons.
Fast-forward a few centuries to a very fragile world, overrun by vampires (demon-infected humans), were-creatures (demon/human hybrids), Immortals (snobby, insufferable, demon-descended aristocrats who live off human blood), and an array of other creepy-crawlies you don’t want to meet in a dark alley. The Archangels had no choice but to fix it.
That’s where we come in.
The Guardians—part angelblood, part human, and completely dangerous. Our rules are simple. The girls are Channelers—we draw power from the Crossworlds to fight demonkind. The guys are Watchers—they drain Crossworlds poison off us and keep us from killing ourselves with too much power draw. That’s how we pair off. One Watcher for each Channeler. Bondmates. Forever. I’d love to say it’s that simple, but if you knew me, you’d know nothing is ever easy.
I’m not exactly a textbook Guardian.
Remember those psychopaths I mentioned before—the Graymasons? The ones who broke the world? Yeah, that’s me. It turns out there’s this prophecy that I’m supposed to kill an entire angelic bloodline, wrangle some souls back from the dead with my weird Wraithmaker powers, and ultimately bring the downfall of my entire race. As legacies go, it’s less humiliating than being a cheerleader, but not quite as cool as band camp.
Funny thing about prophecies, though—nobody really cares whether you actually
the evil thing or not. As far as the Guardian Council of Elders is concerned, the fact that you’re
to is enough to justify executing you. Bottom line, if it wasn’t for my trainer and bondmate, Jackson Smith-Hailey, I’d be rotting in a jail cell somewhere. And if it wasn’t for Luc Montaigne, Jack’s BFF and the most annoying Immortal on the planet, I’d be dead.
Like I said, nothing’s simple.
On the bright side, if I can stay out of the Guardian Elders’ way, pass all my classes,
avoid going demon viral from Luc’s blood donation last fall, then there’s a decent chance Jack and I might make it to prom. Or possibly I’ll end up going evil like my fraternal twin sister, Lisa, did last fall and shredding the very fabric of the universe.
Either way, this is shaping up to be an interesting senior year.
Heaven and All Below
There’s an old Muslim proverb Dad used to quote, “Don’t trip over that which is behind you.” I never understood it. I mean, how could you trip on something you’d already passed? Of course, that was before my life got hijacked by demonbloods and flushed down the Immortal toilet. Now, I understood it perfectly.
Arianna Fassnight Montaigne
formally requests the honor of your presence at the
Immortal Sovereign Trial
of her beloved son
Luc Alexandre Montaigne
standing with his chosen
Amelie Lane Bennett
Saturday, the twenty-first of December
eight o’clock in the evening
(Cocktail reception to follow.)
My favorite part was the cocktail party. Like,
there would be cocktails. Death, lies, and cocktails—the backbone of any respectable Southern family. Besides, since 90 percent of the guests wouldn’t require solid food, and the ones who did (aka, Jack and my dad) would probably need a tequila shot or two, the open bar made a twisted sort of sense.
“Can I get a little help here, princess? Or don’t you want to get demon goo on your precious outfit?” Lyle’s voice rasped over the distant city hubbub and the shriek of demon agony.
I sidestepped a flailing, rubbery tentacle and dropped a glance at the lime-green Fendi minidress Luc’s mom, Arianna, had sent me for public appearances, coupled with the favorite old bunny slippers Dad had dropped off last month. Admittedly, not the most practical demon-slaying garb.
“It was laundry day,” I said. “Sue me.”
Grunting, Lyle wriggled his body around on the ground, reaching for his broadsword while at the same time keeping the growly black demon immobilized. “Not to criticize, Amelie, but your heart doesn’t seem in this.”
He wasn’t wrong.
Sighing, I ran my fingers over the stiff, rectangular invite from hell and the pink Post-it (also from hell) stuck to it. Although the Post-it wasn’t signed, I knew exactly who’d put it in my locker. The handwriting was unmistakable.
Don’t wear white. It’s murder on your complexion. 911411 Civitas terrena
Get it? Murder? Ha-freaking-ha.
To make matters worse, I had no idea what the Latin-number combo meant. Code, definitely, but for what, I couldn’t tell you.
With a loud sniff, I pocketed the invite and kicked an empty beer bottle across Jackson Square to the gutter. “I need coffee. And I’m cold.”
Lyle grunted as an errant demon claw smacked his chin. “Of course, you’re cold. Where’s your coat? Just because you’re undead doesn’t mean you can’t catch a virus.”
“Actually, it does,” I pointed out. “Besides, this is just allergies.”
“I don’t care if it’s the plague,” he grumbled, hacking at another tentacle. “Quit crying, channel me some of that kick-ass angel power, and let’s kill this thing.”
I swiped at my nose, resisting the urge to kick his sword even farther away.
killing me, that part was true. And yeah, maybe I’d been crying. But so what? It’s not like it was any of his business. Besides, Lyle knew perfectly well how sensitive I was about the whole undead issue. Who wouldn’t be, given the disaster I fondly referred to as my life?
I watched as my friend flipped the demon over and deftly pinned its arms behind its back. Arms? Tentacles? Whatever. Not a bad performance, given he’d only ranked near the middle of our senior class on midsemester exams last month. Granted, Lyle had more experience with actual demon combat than most newbie Watchers. My fault, probably.
Feeling charitable, I flexed my hands open until they charged with Crossworld power, a crackle of heat simmering up my fingers. It wasn’t the same as when I fought alongside Jack.
compared to that rush—fire and thunder and just pure, raw
. So yeah, Lyle could serve as my Watcher if I needed to vanquish something. He could keep the power taint from killing me when I channeled and protect me during a fight if I needed to draw energy off the Crossworlds—all the things a Watcher did for his Channeler in battle. But it would never be the same as fighting with my bondmate.
I was about to blow the demon into a smoldering pile of ash when I felt a buzzing in my skirt pocket and Luc’s personalized ringtone—currently “
—blared into the night.
“Just a sec.”
“Are you kidding me?” Lyle said. “Now?”
I pulled out my phone and swiped the talk icon. “Amelie’s not in right now, but if you leave a message at the beep, she’ll be glad to continue ignoring you.
“Where are you?” Luc demanded. “Tyrannus says you’re somewhere near the wharf.”
“Why bother asking if you already knew that?”
Luc hesitated. “Just come home. The European consulate wants to conference via webcast in ten minutes. They’ll expect you by my side.”
“Expectation breeds disappointment, Luc. You should know that.”
I could practically hear him roll his eyes. “What would you have me tell them?”
“Tell them I’ve run away. Say I’m too busy killing demons to give a crap about Immortal politics.”
“Nobody’s asking you to give a crap. Just come home.”
“What’s the magic word?”
“That’s two words. And still no.”
Luc growled. Like, an actual growl, almost as evil sounding as the noises Lyle’s little charcoal-skinned demon buddy was making.
“I’m sorry, you’re breaking up. Bad cell signal.”
“Look here,” he snapped, “I’m already tracking you. I’ll find you eventually. Just do us both a favor and—”
I shut off the phone.
It’s not that I couldn’t have kept arguing with him. I could. He knew that. And I knew he knew that. So it didn’t take a genius to figure out he probably had a team of minions tracking my cell signal. And the longer I kept the line open, the more chance I gave them to find me.
By the time I shoved it back in my pocket and looked up, both Lyle and the demon were staring at me.
“Oh, right, sorry,” I said. “
And the demon’s face burst into flame.
Without missing a beat, Lyle flung a hand sideways, grabbed his sword, and plunged it into its chest. The thing had already started twitching and now released an inhuman squeal that reminded me of a train braking hard. If it hadn’t been a demon hellspawn, bent on destroying the entire Guardian population, I might have felt sorry for it.
“Thanks, babe.” Lyle hefted it to the side and gave it a swift kick in what might have been its ear. Or possibly its nostril. I couldn’t tell since it was all pretty much engulfed in fire. “Sorry about before. And you’re welcome to borrow my jacket.”
“Thanks, but what I really need is caffeine and a new social life.”
Lyle watched skeptically as I wrapped my shivering arms around myself. “Well, I can’t help with the social life or the coffee fix. But if you’re cold, we could totally cuddle. I hear skin-on-skin contact is the quickest way to warm up.”
“It’s also the quickest way to get a blade through your spleen,” I pointed out, warming my hands over the flaming demon carcass. Not as romantic as a bonfire, but certainly helpful…in a smelly, polluted kind of way.
My friend sighed as he unwound his scarf and wrapped it around my neck. “Do you even know where my spleen is?”
“Hand me your knife. I’m sure I can find it.”
“Or you could save those homicidal impulses for our next demon,” he suggested. “We still haven’t killed anything beyond level two.”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” I said, “but I’m not really in the mood for demon slaying.”
Lyle drew a deep breath and nodded. “Lisa and Alec?”
“Lisa, for sure,” I confirmed. “Apparently, my sister likes to torture me.”
On the street ahead, snow drifted in lazy clumps to the ground and melted on contact with the still-warm pavement, giving it an otherworldly sheen. The flickering gas lamps reflected like fireflies beneath a frozen black lake, and little droplets of ice cascaded off the wrought-iron galleries. This was the coldest winter New Orleans had seen in over a decade—possibly ever. It might actually have been beautiful if I weren’t so distracted.
“I found this in my locker at school,” I said, handing him the note and invite. “No clue how she got it.”
“So she knows you’re with Luc.”
“I’m not with Luc.”
“You know what I mean,” he said. “How’d she get into school, anyway? Doesn’t Henry still have us warded out the wazoo?”
I gave Lyle a tight smile. “You know what my favorite thing is? When you ask me dumb-ass questions I can’t answer. I just adore that.”
Lyle grabbed my hand and hauled me away from the flaming demon carcass into the parking lot of the Toulouse Street wharf. In a few more minutes, the demon’s remains would be nothing but ash. Still, it might have been nice to warm up a bit longer.
“And my favorite thing is your amicable demeanor and polite effervescence. Have you considered switching to decaf, by the way?” He flicked a glance back at my outfit. “Or maybe high heels?”
“I don’t need high heels to fight demons. What I need is weapons. Luc’s people took all of mine.”
Frowning, Lyle reached into his jacket pocket and drew out a silver knife with a ten-inch, double-sided blade. It looked like the kind our trainers kept in the armory at school.
“Not to sound like a broken record,” he said, “but the Immortals might trust you more if you worked harder on your relationship with their sovereign leader. Thigh holster?”
“Thanks.” I took the knife and wad of leather straps he offered and commenced fastening them around my leg. “And no, I will
work harder, because it’s not a real relationship. It’s a sadistic, hideous, highly publicized joke. Ow.”
My chilled fingers fumbled with the holster straps, inspiring Lyle to drop to his knees.
“Let me.” He swatted my clumsy hands away and hiked my ridiculous skirt a few inches. “Not that this is any of my business, but Luc’s a guy, right?”
“And you’re a girl. He saved your life, and you share a bathroom. How is that not a relationship?”
“Because it’s not,” I said. Then, realizing how stupid that sounded, I added, “Because it’s
Lyle tightened the holster strap against my leg. “So the plan is to ignore the whole Immortal species, cross your fingers, and hope for the best?”
“Correct,” I confirmed as he slid the knife in. “Now, can we please quit talking about this and go make ourselves useful?”
“Says the girl who took a
during a fight.”
As he rose, I shut my eyes and focused on the sound of an overfed catfish splashing at the pier’s edge. A few months ago—before I had Luc’s demonblood in me—I couldn’t have heard that. Now I couldn’t
I opened my eyes.
Lyle made a decent point. I hadn’t been terribly focused lately. The idea of Lisa Anselmo—my ex–best friend and recently revealed twin sister—lurking around, planning my species’ destruction with her demon-infected boyfriend, Alec Charbonnet, had left me a little off balance. I genuinely didn’t know whether to help the Elders hunt Lisa down or try to save her myself.
Lyle had barely gotten vertical when I felt something shift in the Crossworld ether. The tips of my fingers warmed and little zings of electricity shot through my body.
“Lyle, wait. Something’s happening.”
“Mmm.” He looped an arm around my waist. “Girls tell me that a lot.”
I dug an elbow into his ribs; my ears perked to high alert. Waves from a passing tugboat slapped against the shore, and the faint sounds of music and car engines drifted out of the Quarter. Other than that, the outside world seemed to be hibernating.
Inside was a whole different story. My heart beat faster. My breath quickened. Energy buzzed through my torso, leaving bright gold traces across my skin. It certainly felt familiar. Almost like—
“Lyle, you need to get out of here. Like,
The question barely made it past his lips when a gust of breeze swooped in from nowhere and picked him up by the collar. Literally. And dangled him in the air about two feet above the ground.
Yup. One good thing I’ll say about having a life that uniformly stinks…at least it’s predictable.