Table of Contents
Beware a seductive stranger....
“I'll take you someplace very far away.” Ronan's voice was subdued, and it came out as a rasp. “Far from your father. From the people who don't understand you.”
He'd touched a nerve . . . and it made some delicious, dangerous sensation shiver inside me.
He toyed with the hair at the nape of my neck, and again I felt that buzz of electricity shimmer across my skin. He gave me a little half smile. “But will you have the courage?”
“Yes,” I heard myself whisper. “I will.”
As I opened my eyes, he pulled away from me, and cold clarity prickled my brain like blood returning to a numbed limb.
I watched Ronan as he studied his fisted hands. His muscles were tensed and his eyes looked fierce, making me suddenly uneasy....
“Where are we going?”
He stared blindly out the window, resting his hands on the steering wheel. “Far away. Life as you know it will change utterly.”
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Copyright Â© Veronica Wolff, 2011
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Isle of night: the watchers/Veronica Wolff.
ISBN : 978-1-101-54411-2
1. VampiresâFiction. I. Title.
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For Monica, because “Monica said. . . .”
looked around my room for the last time. I was leaving.
Finally. For good.
There was only one way I'd ever return to the town of Christmas, Florida, and it involved my dead body. Which meant I needed to make sure I had everything. I fished my iPod out of the front pocket of my old duffel and hit Play. Putting in my earbuds, I did a quick inventory of my stuff.
I had my clothes, of course. Not too many of those. Working the evening shift at Fuddruckers didn't exactly buy someone a passport to fashion. What I did own was mostly cheap and mostly black, though I had managed to collect a few prized possessions. A vintage Pretenders T-shirt. Fingerless gloves in an awesome plummy black color. An ancient pair of Converse sneakers, broken in just right.
My bag was heavy with books, too. I was a little worried the zipper would pop from the strain, but there was no way I'd leave without them.
My French-English dictionary was especially gigantic. It was unabridged, and had cost several days of hard-won waitressing tips. But it held such promise, like I might be jetting off to Paris any day, where I'd sit around in bistros, grappling with issues and nibbling madeleines.
And then there was my biggest treasure of all: a framed picture of my mother. I patted the top of the duffel, feeling for its hard profile, checking for the umpteenth time that I'd packed it.
She'd died when I was only four. For some reason everyone took great pains to assure me there was no way I could possibly remember her. I'd look at the photo in secret, though, and I could still hear her voice and smell her crisp, lemony scent. With her blond hair and wide eyes, she reminded me of Uma Thurman, and I liked to imagine her wearing a tight yellow pantsuit, kicking my dad's ass,
Ah, the sound of shouting and the stench of warm Coors. Now, those were some personal gems I wouldn't stow away in the old duffel, even if I could.
“Bye-bye, Daddy Dearest. I am so out of here. Not that you'll notice.” I pulled my iPod back out of my pocket and zipped through the playlist to my favorite Radiohead song. Standing up to check my drawers one last time, I bellowed out the lyrics.
“I don't belong here. . . .”
“Annelise Drew!” Somebody banged on the door. “Shut the hell up!”
I scowled. It was my stepmother, the Yatch.
So I turned up the volume and sang even louder.
“But I'm a creep. . . .”
“I'm trying to get some rest,” she screamed from the other side of the door.
“Oh yeah.” I tore out the earbuds. “Because it's eleven in the morning and you've been working since dawn?”
“You think you're so special,” she shouted. “Genius? You're a
. And now you graduate early from high school, and we're supposed to think you're
I smirked at how her words echoed the lyrics, and opened the door to the sight of her pale, haggard face. The Yatch. It was my pet name for her, the progression having gone a little something like
Beatrice . . . Bee-yatch . . . Yatch
laughing at?” The faint bruise on the side of her cheek had paled to a sickly yellow.
Imagine that. She'd fallen in the shower. Again.
Just ask Daddy.
I shook my head. It was a two-bedroom apartmentâthere was nothing to hide. I'd “fallen in the shower” before, too.
“Don't give me that holier-than-thou look, young lady.” She shouldered her way in, peering around the room as though I'd been caught trying to steal the family silver. “Have I heard a thank-you for all I've done for you, all these years?”
“No,” I said, after a moment of elaborate contemplation. “I don't imagine you have.”
Her eyes skittered nervously from me. She never had been good at standing up for herself. I imagined it was why Daddy kept her around.
She scanned what remained of my belongings, her gaze lingering on the threadbare bedspread I'd had since I was eight, when I'd liked all things lavender. Believe meânine years is a long time in which to learn to despise a color. “You're welcome to keep that,” I assured her.
“You better clean this crap up,” she said instead, her voice shrill with disbelief. You'd have thought I'd left her a steaming turd right there in the middle of the tan shag rug. Her eyes came back to me. “Or were you going to sneak out like a thief?”
A little something like that, yeah.
I remained silent.
“Where the hell have
got to go, anyway? It's not like you've got any friends.”