Desolate (Desolation)

BOOK: Desolate (Desolation)
10.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


book two
of Desolation

Ali Cross





© 2012 Ali Cross 


Smashwords Edition - License Notes

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This is a work of fiction. The characters, names, places, incidents and dialogue are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.


No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief passages embodied in critical reviews and articles.


Published by Ninjas Write Publishing, P.O. Box 871, West Jordan, UT 84084


Cover Art by Fanye L.O.

Cover Design by Dale Pease


Author’s Site:

Other books by Ali Cross


(book one of Desolation)


Read through f
or a sneak peek into

ARTEMIS RISING by Cheri Lasota






chapter one


I teased the cold in through my fingertips, into my blood stream. Drank it into my soul, letting it fill every crevice of my being. I squeezed my eyes tight, willing myself home to Hell, wishing it were me there and not Michael.

The thought of him broke my concentration and I felt sunlight warming my eyelids. A gut-wrenching sob tore through my chest. I couldn’t bear the thought of Michael enduring endless torture at the hands of my father. Couldn’t bear the thought that he’d be stripped of his goodness. Stripped of everything that defined him.

The creatures of Hell would see to it.

It should have been me.

Unable to claim the darkness I needed so badly, I let my eyes open. Just Lucy’s balcony. Just Earth. Just a life I never wanted. I rolled up the yoga mat and stashed it in a clay pot in the corner.

I stepped into the apartment and slid the glass door closed behind me.

“Mornin’ princess.” James lay sprawled on the white leather sofa, TV remote in one hand, apple in the other. “Isn’t it a little cold for you to be doing that?” He had no idea how his nickname for me cut, how it reminded me—every. single. time.—of the duties Father demanded of me and the choices I’d made. Including the wrong choice.

I shrugged as I passed James on my way to the kitchen. “It helps.”

James clicked off The Early Show then rolled off the couch, shuffling into step behind me. “Yeah, you look relaxed as hell.”

“Ha.” If only he knew just how right he was.

I pulled out the carafe from the coffee maker and poured myself a cup, breathing in the dark, nutty aroma. Yoga and a hot cup of strong coffee—my armor against the coming day. Without them, I didn’t think I’d survive in the human world. The wanters and needers defined high school, encapsulated it. Just the thought of it, of them, exhausted me.

James leaned against the opposite counter while I poured, the delicious steam rising into the air like fog.

“Did Mir tell you?” he asked.

I could feel him staring, like an invisible string stretched between us. I resisted meeting his gaze. I hated that James and Miri were a part of the craziness of my life. I constantly worried over Miri’s involvement—and now James? I did not want him involved with The Hallowed. How could I protect them? I hadn’t even protected the one I love more than my own soul.

I set the carafe down and handed James his cup, watching his hands, not his eyes, and said nothing.

“You can pretend all you want that you’ve got a heart of stone, but not talking about it isn’t going to change anything.” He took a sip of his coffee. He screwed his face up and stuck his tongue out several times, making smacking sounds. “Yuck. How can you drink it like this? It’s practically tar.” He set his cup on the counter and went about adding sugar and cream. I drank long and deep from mine just the way it was.

“Anyway,” James continued, his suitably sweetened cup held in front of him like a gift. “I’m coming. Like it or not.” He sipped and sighed. “Mmm, good. Besides, I’m not gonna let my girls hang out with a bunch of old dudes all the time—someone needs to keep those fogies in line.”

“Ha. Those old fogies could kick your skinny white behind any ol’ day of the week.” Longinus, a two-thousand-year-old centurion, was always ready for a fight and Knowles was a demon cast out of Asgard along with my father and everyone else he’d polluted with his mutinous rhetoric. “The only one you could take is Cornelius—and even you wouldn’t hurt a priest.”

James laughed but when he leaned forward, his ocean blue eyes were dark and serious. Only a couple inches taller than me (he always said good things came in small packages) he speared me with his gaze and I felt trapped.

“You are loved, Des. Whether you like it or not. And sometimes, when people love you, they want to help you. They want to be there for you. It’s our right, you know. Let us help. It won’t kill you.”

He kissed me on the cheek and left the kitchen. “See you after school.” A moment later his bedroom door clicked shut.

The clock on the microwave read 7:30. I stared at it until it flicked to 7:31. It seemed my whole life consisted of things I couldn’t change, that I couldn’t stop—chief among them being people who loved me. I didn’t deserve them and they certainly didn’t deserve the danger loving me put them in.

Maybe I couldn’t change their feelings, or their misguided need to help me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that one day, they would all regret knowing me.






chapter two


Miri didn’t show up for homeroom. Right before English, she dove into her chair with seconds to spare, her heavy messenger bag banging noisily against the desk. Miri rattled off a zillion “I’m sorries” the whole time.

“Just take your seat, Miri,” Mrs. Park said. I watched as she tried—unsuccessfully—to make her naturally smiling face frown at Miri, but she couldn’t pull it off.

“You look terrible,” I whispered when Miri leaned over to set her bag on the floor.

“Gee, thanks,” she said in a very un-Miri-like manner. I narrowed my eyes and noticed the tell-tale signs of a bad night’s sleep. The slightly wrinkled shirt and crumpled plaid skirt told me she’d grabbed them off the floor. The red spots high on her pale cheeks and blood-shot eyes would have once made me think she’d been drinking—but I knew she hadn’t had a drink in two months and there were no Shadows clinging to her today.

“You okay?”

She put her elbows on her desk and covered her face with her hands. Then she let them drop and took a long breath in through her nose and out through her mouth—a calming technique she’d learned from me. “Yeah. I’m okay. Just . . .” She glanced up at Mrs. Park who had her back to us while she wrote something on the board. “I had that dream again.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but . . . what could I say? My best friend had dreams no human ever should—she didn’t deserve to have her mind invaded by Hell night after night. And these latest dreams about a demonic horseman riding into San Francisco to wreak some kind of Hellish violence on the world had been plaguing her for the past few nights. That probably meant something, and it certainly wasn’t anything good. Mrs. Park cut off any response I might have given.

“The first day back from Thanksgiving break—that’s your deadline.” Behind her, she had written
Shakespeare Scenes
. I stared dumbly at the words while the room erupted with whispered conversations. “You’re going to pick your teams—two people, one play.” Mrs. Park raised her voice to be heard over the noise. “I want you to make a presentation of some sort, based on the play you chose. It can be a critical analysis, a modern resetting of the scene, or you could act it out. Or any combination of these. Or any other representation you can think of—you could choreograph and perform an original dance—”

Marcus, Lost Soul and nerdy band leader said, “Yessss,” and a few people laughed.

“—or a sculpture—anything. Just run it by me before you put a lot of work into it so I can make sure it’s appropriate.” Pretty much everyone laughed this time.

“What’s the big deal?” I whispered, hoping Miri could hear me over the din of voices.

“In the three years since Mrs. Park’s been giving this assignment, she hasn’t denied any of them—last year, Stan Yehtman posed, practically
, in the courtyard all day. He sat in that thinking-man pose, ya know? He said he was pondering Hamlet’s question
To be or not to be?
It was awesome.” Miri grinned wickedly. “Doesn’t hurt that he’s totally hot. Everyone tries to outdo everyone else—even from past years. Whaddya wanna bet Marcus will do something really crazy?”

I could only imagine.



During our free period, Miri and I sat at a table tucked behind a tall shelf of books in the library. We told Sister Mary Theresa we’d be working on our Shakespeare scene. Instead, we huddled together, our foreheads nearly touching, discussing something the stern nun would definitely not approve of.

“So what happened? Was anything different this time?”

Miri waved her hand, breathless from running from history to meet me. Mr. Sims had kept her afterward to talk about her paper, while I’d hurried on to make sure we got our favorite table.

BOOK: Desolate (Desolation)
10.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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