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Authors: Rinda Elliott

Foresworn

BOOK: Foresworn
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It
is
written
that
three
Sisters
of
Fate
have
the
power
to
change
the
world’s
destiny
.

But
only
if
they
survive
...

Kat Lockwood grew up listening to her unhinged mother’s stories about the Norse goddess souls she and her triplet sisters carry, about fiery deaths and a prophecy foretelling the world’s end. Now, to save that world, Kat must find a guy who hosts the soul of a Norse god—a warrior with the lightest blond hair and the darkest brown eyes.

But at a truck stop on her road trip, Kat freezes time while she writes out a cryptic message in runes. The only other person able to see this happen? A gorgeous guy with the lightest blond hair and the darkest brown eyes.

Kat’s not convinced peaceful Arun is the future warrior who will turn the tide in the final battle. Yet Arun turns out to be a lot tougher than he seems. As soul-carrying teens and underworld creatures gather over the world’s deadliest volcano, Kat finds that no one, including her sisters and mother, is exactly who she thought they were...

Sisters of Fate

The prophecy doesn’t lie:
one is doomed to die.

Praise for Rinda Elliott

“Vivid characters and an action-packed apocalyptic adventure!”

New York Times
bestselling author Rachel Vincent on
Foretold

“Thrilling, high octane, action-packed and danger-filled...it is an utterly riveting story that is unputdownable.”

Fiktshun.com
on
Foretold

“With a fresh and original take on Norse mythology,
Foretold
is a breathtaking tale that will leave you crying out for more!”
—Jenna Black, author of
Glimmerglass

“I was riveted. There were tons of thrills and one hell of a surprise to keep you on the edge of your seat. I really enjoyed the story and the ending has me excited for book two.”

Imagine a World
on
Foretold


Forecast
is an excellent continuation of the series and I am counting down the days until the third and final book comes out.”

Yummy Men and Kickass Chicks


Forecast
is the best kind of second installment...as action-packed as its predecessor.”

Supernatural Snark

“Full of imaginative, engaging elements; Elliott delivers a novel full of humor and heart...there is no question that Elliott’s resourceful imagination will keep readers turning pages and leave them hungry for more.”

RT Book Reviews
on
Dweller on the Threshold

FORESWORN

Rinda Elliott

The Norns

Thence come the maidens
Mighty in wisdom,
Three from the dwelling
Down ’neath the tree;
Urd is one named,
Verthandi the next,
On the wood they scored,
And Skuld the third.
Laws they made there,
And life allotted
To the sons of men,
And set their fates.

—The Norse
Poetic Edda

The Prophecy

It is written that the
kynkvísl
, Norse descendants, will one day house the souls of the gods. True heroes who know their sad fate in the coming battles but fight nonetheless. Their time begins with the portents of Ragnarok. Three years of winter, roaring seas that lash the land and an all-consuming fire. The destruction of the world.

There is another prophecy, one never written and held secretly by the giants of Niflheim, the lowest region of the Norse underworld. The sisters of fate have the power to change the heroes’ destinies. Change the world’s destiny. But only if they survive to their nineteenth birthday.

The odds aren’t good, according to this unwritten prophecy:

Born of two magical clans that share life’s spiral.
Light of head
,
dark of eyes
,
the young warrior will herald the beginning of Ragnarok.
His hand to the death of a norn.

Dedication

This one is for my critique partner, Rachel Vincent. She took one look at the crazy-tight timeline I’d set up in the first two books, sat us down in her living room and worked with me until I got it right. It took some time. You’re right, Rachel, we do have a great partnership, and it is about more than hummus and caffeine!

Acknowledgments

First, I’d like to thank my editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey, for her patience with me and this particular deadline. And for all the end brainstorming! But mostly for taking a chance on this trilogy.

I’d also like to thank my agent, Miriam Kriss, for the last-minute-scramble help at times.

As always, so, so much thanks to my husband and children, who have developed more patience than most need while dealing with my deadlines over the past couple of years.

To my mother and my sisters for LOTS of phone support.

And again, to the Deadline Dames. Who knew we’d still be going strong in constant support and friendship all these years later? Devon Monk, Karen Mahoney, Jenna Black, Rachel Vincent, Jackie Kessler, Toni Andrews, Lilith Saintcrow and Keri Arthur. You guys are the best!

Chapter One

“One of these things is not like the others,” I sang under my breath, as I white-knuckled my Jeep between a couple of eighteen-wheelers. I’d been sandwiched between monster vehicles for so many miles, I could no longer feel the tips of my fingers.

Maybe I shouldn’t have started my trip in the middle of the night, after all.

Not that I’d had a choice. I hadn’t been able to find a hotel with an available room the night before and after four hours of sleeping in my car, I’d decided driving had to be a better option than freezing to death.

What had I been thinking?

Oh yeah. That somehow it was my responsibility to find a teenage warrior who was going to save the world. If, that is, he didn’t kill me because of some weird prophecy.

Now minutes before sunrise, I was doing everything I could to stay out of blind spots while the trucks kicked up snow all over my smaller vehicle. Between that and what was coming from the sky, I felt like I was caught in some surreal dream sequence in a bad eighties horror movie—as if any second, the trucks around me would converge, develop abominable snowman faces and we’d end up battling it out at a sleazy truck stop.

My phone rang, the screen lighting up the dark momentarily. It wasn’t one of my sisters’ distinctive tones, so I didn’t take the time to look to see who was calling. With the way one of the trucks kept swerving, someone else shouldn’t have been driving in the middle of the night, either. “Soooo not answering while I’m playing caravan with big rigs,” I muttered between clenched teeth.

But the ringing didn’t stop, which meant it still could be one of my sisters. I had two—we were triplets. Growling, I snatched up the phone, glanced at the screen and, though I didn’t recognize the number, I answered. “Yeah?”

The silence lasted long enough for me to roll my eyes.

“Hello! If you don’t answer, I’m hanging up. Who the hell is this?”

“Raven.”

My sister’s tone in just the one word made me instantly start looking for a place to get off the road. The shoulder was too iffy because of the slick snow and the water on either sides of the highway. “Gods, Raven! You’re lucky I answered. It’s freaking noisy here, and I didn’t recognize the number. Where are you?”

“Oklahoma.” Her voice sounded hushed, and I had to strain to hear her. “I found him. Found Vanir McConnell.”

Three days before, my sisters and I had discovered our egg donor—as if I’d call her Mom anymore—had been spending years researching kids on the internet—kids who could possibly be carrying god souls like us. What she planned to do with that knowledge was anyone’s guess. But with the way she’d been acting, it couldn’t be good. So each of us had picked a
warrior
to track down. We’d split up for the first time in our lives. Raven was talking about the guy she’d chosen. The one who apparently carried the soul of the Norse god Odin. We were pretty sure the wolves in the article our mother had saved were the big clue on which god.

Mine had something to do with crops, according to the tabloid story I’d picked—or my norn had picked. She’d squirmed like I’d set her on fire the instant my hand had touched that printed paper I’d found in our mother’s room. Crops could mean Freyr, and that particular god could possibly be the most important of them all. He wasn’t supposed to survive Ragnarok—like most of the important gods—but he played a huge part of the end of it, and if he did survive, he could have something to do with healing the earth after three years of winter had damaged it.

My entire life had been about crazy stuff—goddesses and Norse prophecies—and I’d never truly swallowed the Ragnarok part of it all. I mean,
come on
! Three years of snow, angry waves swallowing the earth, gods battling giants, elves and whatever. Oh, then there was the fire. Always the damned fire.

My stomach churned.

“I know. Coral told me,” I finally answered as I made it past the lake—on the right side at least. I started to pull over but saw the place was a campground.
Oh no
,
we aren’t going to risk that kind of bad mojo.
I took the next opening instead into a fast-food parking lot and nearly slid into a parked pickup. My cell hit the floor. “I dropped the stupid phone!” I yelled. “Just hold on while I find a parking space away from these loud trucks!”

I could have gone into the campground, but I’d vowed never to step foot in one again. I’d had enough of those places growing up. Our mother had dragged us from one to another, always moving when her freaky, paranoid internal clock said
boo
. I’d developed what I thought of as a healthy disgust with all things tent related. And I planned to honor that disgust. Forever.

I parked far enough away from the restaurant to have privacy but still catch a little of the light coming through the windows. A guy in a fast-food uniform scurried past a window, carrying a tray. It looked like they were about to open. I leaned over to feel around the floorboard for my phone and snatched it up. “I’m back. Where have you been? I called you, like, five times last night and Coral is totally freaked.” Okay, maybe Coral wasn’t
totally
freaked, but she’d been worried. Unfortunately, I’d had to cut the call short. I looked around. The parking lot was mostly deserted. “You’d better call her right away if you haven’t already.” Frigid air snaked through every opening in the Jeep it could find. Felt like it was trying to burrow permanently into my bones.

“I will. I don’t have my phone. Might have lost it.”

“You’d better find it, or pick up another somewhere because we have to stay in touch.” I grabbed a blanket from the pile in the passenger seat and wrapped it around me. With the car running, the heat blasting through the vents, and the snow pattering on the roof, it could have been cozy. If the heat had actually been winning the battle against the cold. “I’m in Wyoming already, and holy goddess
crap
it’s cold up here.”

“I expected it to take you longer. It took me forever to get here, and Oklahoma is closer.”

“Me? You’ve already found your
warrior
. Coral told me.” I snorted. “How?”

“I crashed into a river. He helped me out.”

My heart did this weird sort of extra thump, thump, thump and I held my breath, staring at the sunrise that seemed to be battling the clouds for sky space. It looked like splotches of spilled tangerine paint on a dark gray canvas. Not for the first time I thought about how we should have stayed together. How nothing would mean anything if I lost one of my sisters.

“I’m okay,” she said quickly. “The car is in a river and will have to be towed, fixed—hopefully. I don’t even want to think about how much of my savings that will suck up. But I came out with only a lump on my head. Vanir’s aunt is a doctor, and she stuck around to make sure I was fine. And get this, Kat, she has seidr. Big-time. And her name is Sarah Eir.”

“No shit.” A dump truck pulled into the parking lot and drove so slowly past me, I tightened my jaw until it hurt. My exhaustion from my sleepless night was starting to settle in me like a heavy weight, and I blinked at the red-and-orange-streaked sky. Felt like someone had poured grit into my eyes. When the loud motor finally quit, I frowned. “Wait, you met a doctor with seidr magic and her name is Eir? Like the healing goddess? That’s whacked.” I don’t know why I was surprised Raven had met someone with seidr magic. It wasn’t like I didn’t believe in it. How could I not when my own version had ruined my life?

The thump in my chest grew worse, and I realized it wasn’t my heart making a racket—it was my norn. The Norse goddess who had turned me into a host and liked to take over my body occasionally. The She Leech who had ruined my life. Who had burned my fingerprints off when I couldn’t find a pen and paper. Who had told some kind of potential future that made no sense. Skuld.

Even her name sounded like some cartoon movie villainess. As if someone had played a word game using similar negative words like
skull
,
scald
, or
scold
.

I ignored her. It was what I did best.

“It’s not only her,” Raven continued. “Vanir has brothers, all with Norse names, and they look like their Choctaw-Irish father. And everyone here knows what’s going on. I just know it. This whole situation is too surreal, Kat. We’ve spent all our lives hiding our magic, knowing others don’t even know about it, and I walk into a family who knows things. Even the sheriff, I think. It’s like I marched right into a book.”

Closing my eyes tight, I gripped the phone until my fingers went numb.

“Sounds like it’s all coming together.” I could barely get my voice past the sudden dryness of my throat. “Ragnarok. Just like the stories.” I tried to swallow. Bit my tongue to try to flood my mouth with moisture, but it didn’t work. Clenching my free hand into a fist, it took everything I had to push back the torturous images from the last time I’d slept. And the time before...and pretty much all the times I tried to sleep over the past couple of months.

Running for my life and jumping off a cliff into a chasm of fire.

Trapped in a burning house.

And the worst?

Tangled in rope in the middle of a raging forest fire.

My nightly movie reel.
All fire
,
all the time!
My norn wanted to make sure I understood I’d be the sister dying and that no matter what fate had in store for me, it involved burning to death.

“I still can’t believe this is happening.” I rubbed fingers and thumb over my eyes, groaning.

“Kat, I’m really nervous about the aunt. She’s going to know what’s going on.”

I let Raven’s words sink in as I looked back at the sunrise, noticing more clouds had rolled in, piling over each other until their thick black bodies swallowed the light. I wanted that light today.
Needed it.
The world was only days into the freak summer snowstorm of the century and already I was sick of it. Shivering, I pulled the blanket higher and blew hot air underneath it, thought about what Raven had just said. “What do you mean? That our possibly crazy mother might be there? That she might scare your Vanir? Probably not a good idea to share. Just stay low. See if you can find Dru. But first, let’s back up a sec.” There’d been something new in her voice for a moment. Something that put a little more interesting twist on the hell going on around us. “You said Vanir’s name with a
lot
of familiarity for just having met him last night.”

She was silent for a moment. “No, I didn’t. I said his name in a normal voice.”

I could hear the lie spilling nervously all over those consonants and vowels, so I grinned. Good for Raven—she’d hardly ever even looked at boys before.

“Gods, Kat. That’s not important right now. You wouldn’t believe what...”

I waited as I eyed the thicker snowflakes hitting the hood of my car with audible thumps. When she didn’t go on, I sighed. “I wouldn’t believe...” I repeated.

“It’s bad, Kat. Mom’s here.”

I sat up straighter. “Coral didn’t tell me that. How do you know?” Shock made me clutch the phone hard when I heard a sob. Raven crying was something I didn’t handle well. “Raven?”

“Hold on,” she whispered. There was a clatter as she obviously set the phone down.

I waited, chewed on my fingernail, then grimaced when I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I washed my hands. Tapping my finger on the steering wheel instead, I took a deep breath and let it out slowly because the panic filling my chest made my lungs feel full.

A loud clatter on the other end made me wince. When my sister didn’t immediately speak, I wanted to climb through the phone and strangle her. “Raven! What is it? Hey, talk to me!”

“I think she killed a boy, Kat. I drove into a river—Vanir fished me out.” It was her turn to take a loud breath before more words spilled out of her. Fast. “He has wolves—can you believe it? But he had to leave me with them to find his friend, and when I caught up to him, it was only to find that his friend had been killed.
Killed
, Kat. Vanir brought me to his house and their sheriff questioned me. I didn’t know anything for sure, of course, but I think it could have been Mom.”

“I can’t believe that.” Again, the words had to be forced out. I didn’t trust our mother—hell, I didn’t even like Dru very much—but this was beyond my comprehension.
Murder.
I’d expected her to try some stupid spell that hurt them or made it impossible for them to get where they were supposed to be during the end of the world.

Not that I entirely wanted to accept that was what was happening.

“I don’t know for sure,” Raven answered. “But there wasn’t a mark on him, and it looked like he was killed with magic. Plus, I smelled the lavender.”

A diesel pickup pulled into the next space, and the driver leaned over to look at me through his passenger window. I frowned and turned away from him, still clutching the phone as if I was afraid I’d drop it again.

“Kat?”

It took several tries for me to get enough air to speak. “You know I’ve stayed mad at her, that I’ve always thought she was kind of loopy, but this? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand.” I didn’t want to be this far from Coral when she found out. Our middle sister was still too attached to our progenitor. “Oh gods, Coral! This will kill Coral.”

“She won’t believe it.” Raven lowered her voice. “I have to find Mom, Kat.”

I made a strangled sound. “No. You don’t. If she’s already crossed the line, you have to tell them! Why do you feel this need to protect her? I don’t get it! Look at how we grew up! All I ever wanted was a normal life and she made sure that didn’t happen. You should have just told them the truth last night. She’s
killed
someone, Raven.”

“We don’t know that for sure. And I have to be absolutely sure. Have to give her that. Anyway, have you been paying attention on your trip? On mine, nuts were coming out of the woodwork. It’s snowing at the equator, Kat! People are scared! We don’t know the situation here. What if this was something else?”

Of course she backtracked. Like I would have to. Literally. I’d have to turn around and drive to Oklahoma now. There was no choice. I loved my sister—both my sisters—fiercely, but I didn’t trust them at all when it came to Dru. “You sounded pretty certain a minute ago, Raven.”

BOOK: Foresworn
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