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Maybe you don't have to be so good and I don't have to be so bad.
We could meet in the middle.
Mara is a Legend, born with unmatched power. More than that, she is a Shadow: ruthless, feared, and lethal. But all of that changed when she became Kate and fell in love with a perfectly human life and the Legend that showed her how to live it: Kylan. After battling the Shadows and uncovering the memories they stole, she was free. Free to be with Kylan, his family, and the Rogue life they had chosen.
When a new human is brought into their lives, everything unravels. The family she has grown to love is thrown into chaos. Kate can’t save any of them. But Mara can.
As Mara steps back into her previous life as a Shadow, it fits a little too well. The longer she walks with danger, the more she sees in common with the Shadows she left than the Rogue she was pretending to be.
When her two worlds collide, Mara should be faced with a choice. But a greater evil awaits her, one with the power to shatter both worlds.
Exclusive Sneak Peek...
“You’re a what?” Cassie’s voice screeched as everyone’s eyes widened.
Her red hair burned in the lights of Kylan’s house as she waited impatiently for my answer. She had the hottest temper of his siblings, but Rachel definitely came in a close second.
The others had a similar look as Cassie, confirming that they heard me correctly.
I just waited for all of them to process it. I was still making sense of it myself. This was the first time that I had really said it out loud.
I am a Level Five. The only Level Five in existence as far as I knew.
“That’s not possible.” Cassie crossed her arms in front of her chest, looking me up and down to notice a change.
She wouldn’t find anything. I looked exactly the same as I had before, and frankly, I looked exactly like all of them.
“Kylan, are you sure?” Rachel asked more calmly than her sister.
The two women stood together, and both looked between me and Kylan. Rachel’s hair was long, smooth, and a deeper red, but Cassie’s skin was lighter and freckled.
“This is a joke, right?” Derek asked, waiting in vain for the punch line to drop.
He was Cassie’s husband and the only person who could keep her remotely level-headed.
Kylan winced. “I wouldn’t joke about this, and you know that.”
He stood next to me as all of them continued to decide whether or not they were going to accept the new information.
“Prove it,” Derek challenged.
I smiled, hoping someone would say that. While I didn’t want to scare them, I was a little too eager to show off. As any Shadow would have been.
“Change,” I said and touched the sleeve on my shirt.
The maroon fabric slowly darkened to black. The energy slowly left my body to perform the act. I still had plenty in my system, but after each stunt I would have less and less.
Most of them already knew I could change the physical nature of cells, so that part wasn’t a surprise.
“Create,” I said and turned my focus to the plant in the corner of the room.
I focused on the cells of the leaves and coached them to multiply. The leaves quickly doubled in size and almost toppled the plant over.
Everyone in the room focused on what I was doing, waiting for the next Level. I couldn’t even hear any of them breathing.
“No, no—” Kylan took a step forward and grabbed my arm just as the leaves curled, turning black.
The edges disintegrated into black dust while the rest of the plant withered. The particles fell to the beige carpet and piled in sad heaps.
“I liked that plant,” Kylan said.
He released my arm, and I mouthed an apology to him.
“Read.” I locked eyes with Derek.
His eyes widened and then slammed shut, but just a second too late. I had already made the connection into his mind. I searched for something that only he could have been thinking.
I laughed when I found my answer.
Judging by the look on Derek’s face, he knew what I had found.
“Should I say it out loud?” I asked.
“Say what?” Kylan asked, eager for the dirt on his brother.
“The pattern of underwear you’re wearing.” I smiled even wider and kept my eyes glued to Derek.
His gaze ignited, and even his darker skin color turned a shade of red. After reading his mind, I could feel exactly how much he didn’t want this revealed.
“Derek, honey.” Cassie sighed and put her face in her palm. “I told you to get rid of those.”
Everyone laughed. Rachel’s breathy giggle even brought a grin to Cassie. Kylan lowered his head and tried to hide his laugh behind his hand.
Create, kill, change, read, and extract were the Five Levels. The first four Levels that I demonstrated had been the easiest, the ones that other strong Legends could expect to have.
The laughter died, and some other tightness thrummed through the room. The next Level was the one that all of them feared. Extract.
“Do you want to volunteer?” I stretched my hand out to Derek.
If he wanted to challenge me, then he should be the one to risk me actually being right.
Derek walked forward and looked at Kylan to check that it was all right. He nodded and the wary brother turned back to me.
Everyone watched Derek to see if he would actually go through with it. Fear flashed across his dark brown eyes before he took a breath in.
It was a risk for him to stand this close if I was telling the truth about being a Five. I was about to take his energy from his body. This type of power was extremely rare and Derek was taking the safe bet to assume I didn’t have it.
I kept my hand raised, waiting for his hand.
He slowly lifted it and placed it in mine. His skin touched mine, and I didn’t have to focus very hard to coax his energy out of his cells. The bright heat left his body and swirled into mine. I was expecting the same intensity as a human body would offer.
But this was nothing like a human. The energy seemed to spark and crackle through each cell in my body. My mind sharpened and honed in on the sweet rush that obliterated all my prior thoughts.
This energy was like pure magic.
Derek noticed the power seeping out of his body, and he yanked his hand back.
The connection broke, and the intense energy piercing through my skin halted. All that remained was empty air and my excited breath.
As soon as Derek took a step back, so did everyone else. This was exactly what I expected when I told a room full of Legends that I was an Extractor.
I knew it was coming, but it still hurt to see their faces change to look at me in fear.
“Dude…” Derek muttered, already reaching to nudge his brother.
“Don’t say…” Kylan started.
Derek didn’t stop. “She’s an Extractor!”
He and Cassie shifted away from me. I caught Cassie glancing at the door and knew she was judging how fast they could exit if they needed to do so.
I would’ve done the same thing. Extractors were rare and incredibly dangerous. I had only ever known of two, besides myself: the sadistic monster that murdered the closest thing to a father I had, and Kylan.
“We can’t be safe around her,” Cassie urged.
“I knew there was something off.” Rachel shook her head and narrowed her eyes.
But she looked more interested than afraid. She didn’t step away from me like Cassie did.
“She’s actually a Five,” Derek muttered to himself.
“She’s not a threat to any of us,” Kylan said in that same authoritative voice.
He raised his hands to quiet the rest of their complaints. Cassie wasn’t up to being calmed by him.
“She can take our energy. How could you possibly say that?”
Kylan lowered his arms and walked over to Derek slowly. He reached out and grabbed Derek’s bare arm. It looked like a comforting touch, but I knew what he was doing. If I was going to be revealing my darkest parts, then he wanted to as well.
“I know,” Kylan said.
A faint yellow light swirled into Kylan’s skin like mist threading through his veins. Derek looked down and noticed what was going on and jerked his arm back.
Kylan was dangerous, an Extractor like me. But they had known each other for centuries. That changed things. Derek’s eyes softened. He wasn’t looking at an enemy, he was looking at family.
“I’m sorry I haven’t told any of you.” Kylan put his hands back safely in his pockets.
Rachel was the first to step forward, kind and gentle.
I waited in agony as she walked up to Kylan. He didn’t dare look at her either. But she silently put her arms around him. Kylan touched her arms tentatively, and when she didn’t recoil, he hugged her tight.
“We love you. That shouldn’t change because of your abilities,” Rachel said into Kylan’s shirt, and her warm eyes snapped up to mine. “That goes for both of you.”
I nodded and Kylan pulled away from Rachel’s arms to look at me. His smile lines crinkled around his green eyes, and a lump formed in my throat.
Cassie still seemed a little cautious of both of us. Derek cleared his throat as soon as he caught Cassie’s eyes.
“We should be celebrating. Kylan scored the one and only Level Five. Nicely done, bro.” Derek smiled at Kylan and they bumped fists.
Kylan’s shoulders relaxed even further and the tension in Cassie’s eyes softened. We all waited for her to speak what was racing through her mind. Her face didn’t betray her thoughts enough for any of us to assume.
“I guess if anyone was going to, it would be Kylan.” Cassie reluctantly broke into a smile.
Kylan and Derek both put their arms around her and, just like that, they looked like a family again.
My gaze moved to Rachel, who seemed to have her eyes trained on me instead of joining the group hug happening in front of us.
“Is there something else?” Rachel asked curiously.
She couldn’t read minds, but her past in manipulating people with the best of the business world had taught her how to read faces. My time away from the Shadows had let my lying skills lapse.
I looked back at Rachel and my hand moved to the edge of my right sleeve, the place that proved my identity as a Shadow.
The part of my body I had hidden so no one would see the black dagger tattoo there. The dagger I hated.
“Kate, you don’t have to,” Kylan comforted and walked over to me.
He put his hand on my back tenderly. I looked into his warm eyes for the courage I needed to lift my sleeve. If I wanted to be a real part of his family, I would need to be honest.
Lies were what had gotten me kidnapped. Lies were what allowed Kylan to be dragged back to the mansion with me. I was done with lies. The more I told the truth, the less my past had a power over me.
“I want to,” I said to Kylan and faced them again. “You’re right. There is one more thing.”
That slim fabric covering my arm was my shield, my reason that I felt safe around other Legends or humans. The idea of removing it was enough to make my breaths come in uneven spurts.
But I focused and pulled on the bottom of my sleeve. Kylan sucked in a breath through his teeth.
The cloth dragged up my skin, and I lost track of the seconds that passed. All I could do was watch their faces as the sleeve reached my elbow.
I knew as soon as they saw it. I recognized the drained complexions, the shocked breaths, and defensive hands.
They saw the dagger.
“Shadow,” Rachel gasped.