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Authors: Rachel McClellan

Fractured Truth

BOOK: Fractured Truth
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PRAISE FOR

Fractured Truth

“Startling, intense, and magical. McClellan shatters everything you think you know about the genre in this adrenaline-fueled, action-packed, supernatural adventure that will keep you tearing through the pages until the very end.”

REBECCA HAMILTON
, bestselling author of
The Forever Girl

“I’m excited to get my hands on the final installment of the Fractured Light series. While McClellan has already given readers everything they could ask for in a fantasy series—awesome characters, captivating worlds, outstanding stories, and more—I’m betting that she’s saved the best for last!”

THOMAS WINSHIP
, author of the popular Vaempire series


Fractured Truth
is a quite a ride! Rachel McClellan hits the ground running on page one with heart-pounding action and fantasy, and she keeps it up throughout. Her characters are engaging, the story is taut and smart, and the Fractured Light trilogy ends with a satisfying conclusion.”

JULIE CALDWELL
, author of
Psyched
and
Beyond Perfection

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Truth
is beautiful, without doubt;
but so are
LiES
.

—RALPH WALDO EMERSON

ONE

“You have four minutes, Llona,”
Liam said through a microphone in my ear. His voice, like the ringing of a great bell, pounded my already aching head.

The small plane’s engine shrieked, a high-pitched sound different from the steady hum of the last twenty minutes. Everyone had boarded a while ago. It was a silent crowd, not one likely to converse with each other.

I shifted my weight in the plane’s cramped closet. I could’ve come out, because I’d just turned invisible, but I wanted to wait until the speed of the plane increased, covering any sounds the closet door might make when it opened.

It was shortly after Cyrus kidnapped my aunt Sophie from Lucent Academy that I taught myself to turn invisible. I’d practiced every day, sometimes for hours, until I could do it without the accompanying paralyzing weakness. And although the pain hadn’t gotten any better, I was able to increase the time I could maintain invisibility to several minutes. I’d accomplished all this in just a few short months since Christian’s death.

Just then the plane lurched forward, picking up speed on the runway. I opened the door and peered into the plane’s small kitchen.
Empty. Perfect.
I quietly slipped out and closed the door behind me.

The front wheels of the plane bounced.

The cabin, as I suspected, was full of Vykens sitting in their
seats, their backs to me, as if they were regular passengers. Most of them looked like normal humans, which meant they’d fed on Auran blood recently, but a few were in their purest form—facial features deformed and gray with moldy skin peeling back from their faces.

There was only one different from the rest—Jackson. He sat three rows up to the right of the center aisle.

With the Deific’s help, Liam had finally received a tip on Jackson’s whereabouts. It was the closest we’d come to finding out where Cyrus was keeping Sophie. I glanced to my left, to the emergency exit. By the way the plane was vibrating, it was close to taking off.

A Vyken stood and slid into the aisle. I pressed myself against a seat to keep him from bumping into me. I had yet to learn how to let matter pass through me. That may be a trick only my mother knew.

After the Vyken passed by, I went to Jackson. He was looking down at his bloodied knuckles. How did that happen? Jackson used to be a Guardian. He (and a bunch of others who had followed him) had joined the Vykens against the Auras months ago. I’d been training harder than ever to stop them all and restore the Auras to their former strength. The strength only a few knew about.

The plane lifted. Still plenty of time to make my move.

I reached down, careful to avoid touching Jackson, and undid his seat belt. He glanced to his lap, brow twisted together. I smacked the back of his head, hard. He turned around and stared at the Vyken behind him.

“What’s your problem?” he asked.

The Vyken ignored him.

Jackson stood and confronted the Vyken again. “Hey, I’m talking to you!”

The Vyken lifted his gaze from the sports magazine in his hand. “I know Cyrus said we can’t kill you, but he didn’t say I couldn’t hurt you. Sit down, Guardian.”

Liam’s voice spoke again in my ear. “Hurry up.”

Several Vykens looked around. His voice, this close to so many of them, must have drawn attention.

Time to pay for your crimes, Jackson.

I drew my fist back and punched Jackson in the face. His hand came up to his bloodied nose. “What the . . .?”

Several Vykens stood up.

I punched him again. He stumbled back toward the exit, arms outstretched as though to steady himself. Blood ran onto his chin.

“What’s going on?” he yelled.

I answered with a swift kick to his chest. It took just a second for him to recover before he started blindly throwing punches. “Someone help me!”

The Vykens looked around as if they didn’t know what to do.

I dodged Jackson’s fist and punched him again. He was in position. I took hold of the emergency latch and pulled it as hard as I could. The door flew open, sucking air from the cabin. Papers and all kinds of debris flew past me. Jackson scrambled backward, his eyes darting around until he was pressed against the wall separating the kitchen from the cabin.

The others stood alert, some in a fight-ready stance. But who were they going to fight? They couldn’t see me. No one could.

Grabbing Jackson, I spun him around until he was facing the open door; his clothes and hair whipped around violently. He stuttered.

His fear excited me, sending a wave of adrenaline through my bloodstream.

I was about to reveal myself to him, just so I could see the surprise in his eyes, but Liam’s voice sounded in my ear. “Get out of there—now!”

Jerking into action, I wrapped my arms around Jackson’s chest and jumped from the plane, spiraling into a black abyss.

TWO

I fell through the darkness,
slicing through it like a knife in water. Cold air burned my face, and the force of it made it difficult to breathe. Jackson’s body was torn from my grip, and he was twisting and writhing as if he could somehow climb his way back into the airplane. He was probably screaming too, but I couldn’t hear over the deafening sound of the wind rushing over me.

I glanced around, my eyes wet from the air. What appeared to be streetlights were growing closer. I’d never done this before, jumped from an airplane, but I wasn’t nervous, although I should have been. I wasn’t wearing a parachute.

I squinted my eyes to try to see Jackson, but he wasn’t spread eagle like me so was probably falling faster. The tree line of the forest came into view against the night sky. I was really close now. Maybe fifteen seconds before impact. I began to count.

At twelve, my body jerked as if I had been sucked into a tornado, and I had a difficult time controlling which way my body was twisting. It was like no other sensation I’d ever experienced before, and my lungs tightened and pressure built up in my eardrums until I thought they might burst. But in no time at all, I was on the ground, my legs unsteady from the whirlwind.

Liam appeared next to me, having shifted back to his human form. It still amazed me whenever he did that. “You okay?”

I inhaled deeply. “I think so. What a rush.”

“Sorry it took me longer than usual to catch you, but Jackson was fighting against me, so I had to knock him out. I hope you weren’t scared.”

Jackson was nearby, lying on the ground, his brown hair drenched in sweat. “Wasn’t worried at all.”

“You weren’t?”

“I knew you would catch me.” I went to Jackson and nudged him. “Let’s get him back before he wakes up.”

When Liam didn’t answer, I looked back at him. He was staring at me, his green eyes illuminated by the moonlight. For just a moment I was reminded of his age, over two centuries old. I often forgot this because on the outside he didn’t look much older than me, but in the right light his eyes would betray him, revealing years of inner torment.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“You shouldn’t put so much trust in me.”

“Why? You’ve never let me down.”

He walked over to Jackson, picked him up, and threw him over his shoulder. “Because one day I may not be there for you.”

“Of course you will,” I said, but shivered. Why did he always have to say things like that? Liam was my thread that held everything together. I couldn’t imagine dealing with everything without him.

I slid into the passenger seat of Liam’s black Impala while he shoved Jackson into the backseat.

“Do you think we’ll get him to talk?” I asked once Liam was inside the car.

He ran his fingers through his messy dark hair before turning the key in the ignition. His hair was much longer than it used to be, reminding me of how much time had passed since . . . Christian. I could finally think his name without feeling like I was dying inside, but the pain was still raw and biting.

“Oh, he’ll talk.” Liam eased the car onto the road.

“And if he doesn’t?” The thought of not getting Sophie back terrified me. She was really the only family I had left, besides my Uncle Jake. I wished I could talk to him about what was going on, but he was, gratefully, just a normal human, and that’s how I wanted him to live his life—not mixed up in my supernatural world.

Two weeks ago, Jake had married Heidi on a beach in Kauai. I was there to witness his happiness. It had given me a much-needed boost.

“Don’t worry about it,” Liam said. “If he doesn’t talk, then I know a guy at the Deific. He can get inside people’s heads.”

“I like him already.”

Liam had been working with the Deific—a secret agency that fought the Big Bad in the world—for decades. They had all kinds of people with special abilities working for them. One day I might like to work there too.

The drive back to Lucent took almost an hour. Liam took the winding back roads to the small town of Cold Spring, New York, as it was my favorite route. We were silent for most of the drive but not uncomfortable. I couldn’t ever feel that way with Liam.

About twenty miles past Cold Spring, the silhouette of Lucent Academy, a school for Auran girls, came into view. It wasn’t that long ago that I had first arrived here, completely naïve. I thought Lucent would be a safe place for me, a place to protect me from Vykens, but then it turned out that the president was, in fact, a Vyken himself. For decades Cyrus had drugged Auran girls with what he said was a special vitamin. When taken, the drug shut off their “Vyken senses,” making them vulnerable, but thankfully Christian and I discovered his deceit.

All girls were taken off the vitamins, but it turned out that that wasn’t all Cyrus had planned. He wanted to kill or turn a bunch of Auran girls into Vykens and have the rest become personal feeders to Vykens. Vykens are obsessed with the Light in our blood because it gives them the ability to change their appearance and walk during the day.

Liam parked the car in the large circular driveway. This would’ve been a huge violation, but no one really cared now. Dr. Han, the new president of Lucent Academy, was much more relaxed than Cyrus had been.

I glanced back at Jackson, who was still passed out in the backseat. “Think he’s faking?”

Liam put the car in park. “One way to find out.” He opened his door, folded the driver’s seat, and took hold of the back of Jackson’s shirt. He easily lifted him out of the car, none too gently either. Jackson’s head smacked against the open door.

“I’d say he’s still out,” I said.

The front door of Lucent opened, and the twins, Arik and Aaron, walked toward us. One of their long strides probably matched three of mine. They were only a couple of years older than me, but their youthful expressions made them appear much younger.

“You got him!” one of them said.

“Slippery snake,” the other added.

“Good to see you two,” Liam said and shook their hands. “Did you get your hair cut, Arik?”

Arik ruffled his red, buzzed hair. “Yup. I was getting sick of people getting us confused.”

“About time,” I said.

Aaron took Jackson from Liam and flopped him over his shoulder. “Basement?”

Liam nodded. “Lock him in one of the cells. Maybe have Abigail check him out. He banged his head pretty hard.”

Aaron turned to me. “May was waiting up for you, but she fell asleep on the couch just inside. She told me to tell you to wake her up when you get in.”

I made myself smile as I looked past him toward the warm light pouring out from the open doors. “Sure.” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go in and see her, but entering Lucent always brought memories better left forgotten.

BOOK: Fractured Truth
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