Authors: Celia Thomson
the nine lives of chole king
New York London Toronto Sydney
Chloe King has
the nine lives of chloe king
The Chosen(coming soon)
For K. A. Kindya. Ra, Ra, Ra!
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
First Simon Pulse edition September 2004
Copyright Â© 2004 by 17th Street Productions, an Alloy company
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
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Library of Congress Control Number 2004103118
Keira's grandma just diedâI know I've trashed her in the past, but she's really broken up over this. A bunch of us are spending the night at her place; she's there alone while her parents deal with the funeral stuff and the rest of the family. I'll call you tonight.
She was back
at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Paul and Amy were already gone. The highway spanning the bridge was empty of cars. The water below had stopped. Everything was silent, waiting.
Chloe wasn't surprised when Alexander Smithâthe Rogue who'd tried to kill her beforeâseemed to drop out of the sky, a dagger in each hand. He was saying something but making no sound. She could tell he was going to attack and ducked, but her movements were so very, very slowâ¦.
There was a scream as one of his daggers grazed her head.
But that didn't really happen,
she realized, confused.
That's not what happened last time. I was supposed to leap at him
â¦. He was coming at her, two more daggers in his hands, murder in his eyes.
Chloe couldn't make herself move.
But I won this fight,
she told herself, panicking.
I've already been through all this and I won
The Rogue's arm shot out, dragging a blade across her face. Chloe leapt back just in time.
Did he scratch me? Am I bleeding?
“Brian!” she called out, knowing her friend was supposed to appear. But wait, wasn't there some confusion? Had he been helping her or the Rogue?
Brian appeared, standing at an impossible angle on the rail. He looked serious and his arms were crossed. “Who is it?” he asked gravely. “Me or Alyec?”
“Help me!” Chloe screamed, trying to run away from the Rogue.
“You cause a lot of trouble,” the Rogue said with a faint smile.
Then he drove a blade deep into her belly.
As she fell, she saw Alyec run and leap at Brian.
“No!” she screamed as the two boys went tumbling off the bridge.
The Rogue smiled, his face so close that his sour breath enveloped her. He raised the blade again, this time aiming for her neck.
Chloe woke up covered in sweat and trembling.
“It was a dream,” she said, letting her tense muscles sink back into the bed. She had fought the Rogue a day agoâand she had won, if you could call it that. He had fallen off the bridge when Chloe failed to grab his arm, and now he was the one who was dead. Chloe was okay. Alyec and Brian were both alive. Everything else was just a nightmare.
The room was bathed in a soothing half-light that could have been dawn but somehow
like dusk. She wasn't home; the crisp richness of the bedding and the velvet fringe of the throw someone had tucked around her were definitely alien to the King household. Where
she? Slowly it came back to her.
Alyec had taken her to this place after the fight. His leg was injured by one of Brian's throwing stars. Brian had claimed that he was trying to stop them from running
deeper into Tenth Blade territory, but Chloe still wasn't sure if that was trueâ¦. They had taken a taxi; she remembered looking out the window and seeing that they were on the bridge, the beautiful lights of San Francisco receding behind them. When they finally stopped, she was led through pitch darkness up to a house, where a short blond woman greeted and welcomed them, even though it was the middle of the night. She led them through narrow halls andâ
Chloe sat up, remembering more from last night.
Something had passed them in one of the halls that still scared Chloe, even now that she was safely tucked in a luxurious bed.
The hall was dark and empty, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, a girl her own age drifted past them, silent as a black ghost. Her eyes gleamed in the low light, green and slit like a cat's. From underneath her straight black hair poked two giant ear tips, pointed, black, and covered with fur. She was gone as quickly and silently as she came.
Chloe had gasped and pointed and Alyec rolled his eyes and explained that the cat girl was just Kim. The other woman nodded nonchalantly. But even that simple explanation didn't make Chloe feel any better. She had no idea where she was or who these people were that Alyec had taken her to.
“I'll come by soon,” he had promised after they stopped at a door.
Alyec,” the woman said sweetly, pushing
Chloe into the room. For some reason it was that maternal tone, the nice-but-ordering voice, that had set Chloe at ease again. Wherever they were, there were normal rules and people.
She couldn't see much in the tiny space except for a bed with about a thousand down pillows. She collapsed on it without asking.
“You have a nice little nap,” the woman had said, clucking her tongue and pulling a velvet chenille throw up over Chloe's shoulders.
As exhausted as she was, Chloe hadn't been able to fall asleep instantly, and when she had, her dreams had all been nightmares: she was back on the Golden Gate Bridge, fighting for her life against the Rogue, the Order of the Tenth Blade's most lethalâand psychoâassassin. Sometimes in her half dreams Alyec was there, sitting on the side and watching like he had or fighting beside her. Sometimes Brian was there, helping her like
hadâor chasing her the way she thought he had. Even though it had all really happened, it
didn't feel real. But it was.
Now that she was awake, Chloe was
tired and without answers to the questions that had been plaguing her nightmares:
Why me? What did I ever do to anyone?
Chloe noticed a little side table that had been set up next to her while she slept. It was covered with a large doily and on it was a plate with various cold cuts and cheeses, slices of bread, and little cups of mustard and
other condiments. A glassâ
âof water was placed next to a can of Diet Coke.
Chloe made herself the largest sandwich she could manage between two slices of thick brown pumper-nickel, slathering it with mustard. It took only about a minute for her to gobble it down, maybe another to toss back the water and the Diet Coke. She let out a mighty burp (then looked around nervously, but no one was there). Somehow she wasn't as frightened as she should have been. Her belly was full, she was in a beautiful room, and she was safe. Strangely, she sort of felt happy.
Chloe looked around: the beams and floor planks were ancient wood, dark and polished just enough to keep the dust away, not so much as to be shiny. The room itself was small but cozy: there was an intricate Oriental rug in dark colors in one corner, on top of which sat a lightly worn velvet armchair. Over its back was another chenille throw. An old-fashioned floor lamp with a slightly cracked marble base and brass upright lit the room with a soft orange glow from three fake candle lightbulbs. If Chloe had the moneyâand the right houseâthis was exactly how she would decorate it.
She rose and stretched, feeling her joints and muscles snap into place.
Back to my old self, finally
. She pulled her cell phone out of her back pocket and turned it on. Three-quarters battery left. No one had left her a voice mail, not even her mom.
She must have bought that whole “I'm going over to Keira's” thing,
She called Amy and was a little surprised when she didn't pick upâboth Amy and Paul had seen the whole Rogue-Alyec-Brian-Chloe mess last nightâshouldn't they be worried?