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Authors: Gena Showalter

Firstlife

BOOK: Firstlife
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I've been told history is written by survivors. But I know that isn't always true. My name is Tenley Lockwood, and very soon, I'll be dead. This is my story—but the end is only the beginning.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl...who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she'll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she's drawn to isn't home to the boy she's falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision...

Books by Gena Showalter
available from Harlequin TEEN

The Everlife Novels

FIRSTLIFE

The White Rabbit Chronicles

(in reading order)

ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND
THROUGH THE ZOMBIE GLASS
THE QUEEN OF ZOMBIE HEARTS
A MAD ZOMBIE PARTY

The Intertwined Novels

(in reading order)

INTERTWINED
UNRAVELED
TWISTED

Dedication

To God and His dear Son, for inspiration (Luke 10:2, Mark 3:24) and boundless love (John 3:16).

To Pennye Edwards, for being one of the great loves of my life.

To Wendy Higgins, for the beta read and awesome feedback.

To Katie McGarry, for the perfect email at the perfect time.

To Roxanne St. Claire, my sister, my friend, my love, for the encouragement and support.

To Jill Monroe, the bestest best friend a girl could have, for just about everything. You make life better. (PS: I hid your name in the middle to ensure you'd have to search for it because
I'm
the nerdiest best friend, hahaha.)

To Kresley Cole, P.C. and Kristin Cast and Sarah Maas, for being the most fun people on the planet.

To Mike and Vicki Tolbert, Shane Tolbert, Shonna Hurt and Michelle Quine, for putting up with me. God really blessed you when He gifted you with me. Fine. He blessed me when He gifted me with you.

To Max, Riley and Victoria, for being you. I love you, always and forever.

To Deirde Knight, my agent, for believing in this series as strongly as I do.

To Lauren Smulski, for the read and amazing feedback.

To Natashya Wilson, my editor, for seeing a diamond in the lump of coal I originally sent you. Your guidance has been invaluable, and your love for the book/series a true treasure. You helped me in so many ways I'd need to write a new book just to list them all. You've always worked hard for me and always offered the most amazing suggestions, but this time, you surpassed yourself. Thank you!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

—CHARLES DICKENS,
A TALE OF TWO CITIES

TROIKA

From: A_P_5/23.43.2

To: L_N_3/19.1.1

Subject: Tenley Lockwood

Duuude. A heads-up would have been nice. Can you say
whack shack
?

If you failed to read my dossier, Nanne, I'm happy to bring you up to date on the highlights. I'm a well-trained and vastly decorated Laborer. Victory might as well be my middle name. What I'm not: a babysitter. Watching Tenley Lockwood is a waste of my many talents.

Oh, AND DID I FORGET TO MENTION SHE'S IN A WHACK SHACK??

With all due respect, I'd rather fish out my internal organs with a coat hanger than stay here. I'm officially requesting a transfer.

Light Brings Sight!

Archer Prince

TROIKA

From: L_N_3/19.1.1

To: A_P_5/23.43.2

Subject: Officially Denied

Mr. Prince,

I'm not your duuude. I'm your superior. You will only ever address me by my proper rank: General. Or the always appropriate
sir
.

You were selected for this mission for two very important reasons. You are young and (obviously) immature. Offense intended. Our older Laborers had trouble relating to Miss Lockwood, but you should fit right in.

On that note, continue “babysitting” Miss Lockwood, or I'll fish out your organs for you.

Also, I expect daily reports. I'm not overstating when I say convincing her to make covenant with our realm is essential.

Light Brings Sight!

General Levi Nanne

TROIKA

From: A_P_5/23.43.2

To: L_N_3/19.1.1

Subject: You Suck (& I'm WAY Mature)

Dear Sir,

Laborer is below your pay grade, but aren't you one of those “older” gents who failed with the girl? Just checking. (And prepping you for the time I succeed and rub it in your face.)

Anyway. I'm a good little robot, sir, so
of course
I'll do as you asked. Sir. Here's the thing, though, sir. If I have to watch/listen from the outside a minute more, I'm going to bleach my corneas and stab a pencil through my ears.

I want my Shell, and I want to go INSIDE the whack shack. Sir.

Also, here's the first report as demanded. I mean
so sweetly requested
. Sir. During the institution's version of creative writing class, your precious had to write a poem to express her feelings about life. I'm including a copy for your perusal. I defy you NOT to jump off a bridge after reading it. Sir.

The grave is the end

And I will never accept that

I have been set free from the chains that bind me.

I know

“Death has lost its victory”

Is a lie, because there is no greater truth than this:

“Life is hopeless”

Gotta say, I don't think Darkside McDowner is a great fit for Troika. I know, I know. We love the unlovable. We champion the weak. I don't need a lecture. Just tell me what makes her so “essential.”

Your humble servant,

Archer

TROIKA

From: L_N_3/19.1.1

To: A_P_5/23.43.2

Subject: Poem, Among Other Things

I didn't fail with her, puppy, I cleared the way for you. There's a difference. Want to succeed? Learn it.

Expect a Shell at 0800. Just don't expect yours. I've selected one from GenPop. And before you reply with your typical flare—General Population? Are you kidding me (dramatic pause for effect), sir?
—
save your fingers the trouble of typing. I'm not sending what you want. I'm sending what you need. You may thank me later.

Also, in regards to the poem. Miss Lockwood understands there are two sides to every story. Why don't you? Do yourself a favor and read the poem again. This time, start at the bottom and work your way up.

And, Mr. Prince, the fact that I have to tell you what's so special about this girl means I need to schedule you for an emergency jackhammer to the brain. Do yourself a favor and pay attention to the pearls I'm about to throw. Light. Conduit. Loss...darkness.

Oh, and here's a good one: Moron. Again, offense intended.

TROIKA

From: A_P_5/23.43.2

To: L_N_3/19.1.1

Subject: Four Things

1) Sir Dude. I don't want to point out your obvious lack of intelligence, but Tenley Lockwood can't be a Conduit. Given your advanced age, you've clearly forgotten Conduits are raised by Troikan parents. They are the most loyal among us, from beginning to end.

2) And okay, okay. I read the poem from bottom to top, so I get your “two sides” theory. That doesn't mean the poem is any good. It doesn't rhyme.

3) The Shell arrived, and I honestly I think hate you. I'm pure male aggression, and you expect me to pass for a chick? As if
anyone
will be dumb enough to believe such a farce.

4) Myriad sent Killian. I've seen him skulking around in the shadows, watching the girl. Permission to slaughter?

TROIKA

From: L_N_3/19.1.1

To: A_P_5/23.43.2

Subject: Permission Gr... Denied! (Admit it. Your little-girl heart skipped a beat.)

You know our laws as well as I do. And what is at the heart of our second-most-important decree? Personal vendettas must be set aside for the good of the people. You are one of our people.

Do your job. Nothing else matters.

MYRIAD

From: K_F_5/23.53.6

To: P_B_4/65.1.18

Subject: My New Assignment

Hot and crazy, just the way I like 'em. Consider Tenley Lockwood bagged and tagged.

Might Equals Right!

Killian Flynn

MYRIAD

From: P_B_4/65.1.18

To: K_F_5/23.53.6

Subject: Show Some Respect!

You will speak of the girl with deference, or you won't speak of her at all.

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