Series: After the Fall #2
on June 4, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Romance
Kaida grew up in two worlds--a child in the Manor raised by Sabah before she was granted Citzenship. But the only place she has ever felt like she's belonged is with Cedric and Guin, the boys she grew up with.
When Cedric's involvement in a rebel faction goes wrong, the Commission exiles her and holds Guin hostage. Now, she's on her own for the first time, and searching for the sister who left her behind and a princess who was stolen from the City--and then she stumbles across a face from the past.
Hawke has been an outcast since his Tribe died. When he finds Sabah's sister on the road, he agrees to help her. But as they search the wilds and grow closer, his disdain for her is slowly replaced by a deep attraction for the girl who faces every challenge so bravely.
And as the City's deadline dwindles, and the boy she loves hangs in the balance, Hawke is left to wonder if he is protecting her, or if he the biggest threat she will face.
I can remember three times I should have died. Three times, I stood on that precipice and was snatched back from it. Three times, before Berg took me as his ward and gave me Citizenship.
Never, not in all my years Outside living in the Manor, not in the many times I should have died, and not in the decade I’ve lived as a Citizen, have I ever been this frightened.
The wind slips around me and I hear the uneven crush of footsteps. Without turning, I track his movements around our meager camp.
“Kaida.” He approaches, and I reach up, taking the coffee he’s carrying. “We have to pack up.”
Cedric stops without touching me. Close enough that I can feel the heat of his body and his tension, but too far away to feel.
For a heartbeat, I almost ask him to hold me.
“He’s running out of time.”
I swallow hard, and stand. “Did you look at the maptable?”
He gives me an impatient look and I clench my jaw to keep from snapping at him. Take a deep breath and swallow the rest of my coffee. It’s thick and grainy on my tongue, and I make a face. “Show me.”
He pulls the maptable out and steps close again.
“Berg said they follow the same paths. If he’s right, we should hit their campgrounds in the next day or so.” Cedric says. His long fingers trace the path on the maptable. I glance around again—the graylight is taking hold, pushing the ever present darkness back. I stand, brushing my pants off. “Let’s get going, then.”
He nods, slipping the maptable into the water proof bag. I pack up our clothing from the night before as Cedric starts collapsing our tiny tent.
“How much more food do we have?” I ask.
“Two days. And what he gave us to trade.” Cedric’s gray eyes flick to mine. “We should just use the pills today. Save the food.”
I nod, even though hunger is gnawing at my belly already. The pills don’t take away hunger pains.
Cedric stumbles a little as he swings the pack onto his shoulder, and I’m at his side instantly, shoving my shoulder under his. His weight is familiar, the heat of his body against mine almost scorching.
“I’m fine, Kai,” he snaps, pulling away.
“Why are you doing that?”
It’s the question that’s been circling my head for three days. Since we were tossed out of Berg’s hover, and Guin wasn’t. Three days. Fifty seven until…I shake my head violently, and stare at Cedric. “He wouldn’t want you to treat me like this. He’ll be furious.”
“When we have him back, he’s allowed to be,” Cedric says, so softly I almost don’t hear the words. “Come on. We’re wasting time.”
“We’re going to get him back, Cedric.”
His shoulders slump, and I fight the urge to cry. Damn them. How did they know that taking Guin was the fastest way to break Cedric? To break us both?
I stand in front of him, take his face in my hands, and force him to look at me. “We will. We’ve been beating the odds for sixteen years. We’ll get him back—we just have to give the Commission what they want.”
He takes a deep breath and nods, but I can see the doubts in his eyes. The questions. Can we really find the Hidden City? In fifty seven days, can we find what the Commission hasn’t been able to find in almost eight years of searching?
I shiver and Cedric takes my hand. My left hand hangs empty and tingles—the ghost of a touch of the boy who should be with us.
We have to find the City. Guin’s life depends on it.
Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog.