You might know me.
I’m Cascade Andronica, lustrous daughter of the Coalition’s pet. Spawned of the fornication of gold and fortune, I traipse diamond paths.
But don’t believe the pretty mask thick-lashed with innocence.
Even before the mutation, I already knew how to kill. I don’t deserve to be loved.
I ruined myself to protect the innocent. To protect my best friend.
This was my life:
I knelt on bathroom tiles and had oral sex with naked rapists and killers. I recorded their repulsive confessions, a knife close at hand.
Then I slit their throats.
Is that not monstrous? Was I a monster?
I was stopping the bad guys and protecting the innocents, but who was protecting me?
When my justifications faltered and self-loathing prevailed, I re-watched old videos of you, Anza, my best friend, the person worth everything. Those videos showed your helpless laughter, your lit-up eyes. Your easy belief in your safety.
I partly ensured that.
But the cost… the cost is one I never want you to see.
Then the mutation hits everyone in Haven, leaving me with wings of flame. Our professor becomes another accidental victim on my conscience.
Now I’m on the run with Lunar Adurian – scarred, bitter, always watching me – who has wings of his own: wings of knives.
But as I wage my underground war with the Coalition, Lunar challenges my every step, antagonizes the rebellion I’m supposed to command, and gets too close to the heart I cannot lose…
Lunar’s hooded eyes watch me every inch; his hands guide me as I straddle his pant-clad hips with wicked leisure. Leaning over, I take his face between my palms. His scarred eyes slit, then flutter shut as my fingertips slide into his hair. But something about his smile changes and I hesitate.
There’s something almost sad about it—or maybe wistful.
Instead of kissing him, I trace my thumbs in a butterfly touch down to the corners of his mouth. His hands tighten on my hips and his eyes flicker open again. He watches my face as I pause my fingers over his lips.
I can’t forget him screaming his joy to the sky, the vibrations of it rumbling through his body as he held me to him. The feel of him laughing against my lips.
It was like tasting the whole universe in one inconceivable instant. The entirety of it opening up inside me and stretching on to infinity.
I’d never imagined him laughing before, not like that.
Not with me.
His breath exhales softly against my fingertips, but still I don’t move. You amaze me, I think.
I know he’s only using me for vengeance, though, because my father did something to his.
He despises my father, and I’m his only way to get revenge.
Lunar’s fingertips caress away my father’s touch. “You know he’s just pretending to love you, don’t you? Manipulating you. Keeping you close so he can use you.”
Holding his dark gaze, I catch his hand in a light grasp and brush my lips across his fingertips. “Like you are?”
But I need to focus, because–
My father refuses to let me protect my best friend, and…
The Coalition is turning her against us.
Between trying to save Anza and trying to resist Lunar, I’m struggling to stay my course, to trust my beliefs and to hold on to myself, my wants, my life, my sanity—
To hold anything at all when my hands are slippery with blood.