Hi there! I'm here starting off the blog tour for FATED, which is the amazing paranormal YA genius Sarah Alderson's sophomore book release, which comes out in Australia February 1st. I raved about her debut 'Hunting Lila' (see my review) and though I'm still reading 'Fated' I can safely say that her books do not disappoint!
'Fated' starts off with an action-packed sequence that will have you on the edge of your seat and wanting more! Enjoy this exclusive prologue and first chapter sneak preview! :)
'Her name is Evie Tremain. She's seventeen years old. She lives in Riverview, California. Now go and kill her.'
The stillness in the room erupted as chairs scraped the floor. There were a few hushed whispers, a stifled laugh and then the door slammed shut, cutting the noise off like a guillotine.
Lucas stood slowly, taking his time. He didn't notice that the others had left the room, or that Tristan was standing by the window watching him. All his attention was focused on the photograph he was holding in his hand.
It showed a girl - dark-haired, blue-eyed - looking straight at the camera. It was a close-up. He could make out the shadows her lashes were making down her cheeks. A strand of hair was caught like a web over one eye and in the corner of the shot he could see her hand, reaching up to brush it away. Her lips were slightly parted, like she'd been sighing just at the moment the lens snapped shut. Her expression was . . . Lucas paused. He wasn't sure what her expression was. She looked unhappy, or maybe just pissed off.
She was a Hunter, though, so what did he expect? And this one had a history that would make anyone unhappy. Or pissed off.
'Is something wrong?' Tristan asked.
Lucas looked up from the photograph, then glanced over towards the door, realising that he was the only one left in the room. He looked back at the older man.
'No, nothing's wrong,' he answered quietly.
'Well, you'd best get going then,' Tristan said, his eyes not leaving Lucas’s face. 'You don't want to miss out on all the fun.'
Lucas looked down once more at the picture of Evie Tremain, feeling momentarily ambivalent towards her. Then he scrunched the photograph up into a ball and dropped it on the floor. It didn't matter what lay behind that expression because soon nothing would. She was just another Hunter to be dealt with. Next week or next month there would be another. And then another. And dealing with Hunters was what the Brotherhood did.
Lucas didn't look back at Tristan but he could sense his eyes burning into his back as he left the room. Moving away fast down the corridor, Lucas realised he could no longer hear the others. He was faster than any human – he knew because he'd had to outrun them many times - so it didn't take him long to reach the basement garage.
There was just one ride waiting for him. Caleb and Shula were sitting in the front seats, the engine renewing, the back door flung open.
'Come on!' Shula yelled. 'What's keeping you? There's a Hunter to kill and the others are going to beat us to it!'
Lucas smiled and shook his head, ducking into the back seat and slamming the door shut. He let his head relax back into the seat and watched the speedometer climb as Caleb slammed the Mercedes out of the underground garage and onto the highway. Lucas stared out of the window. This stretch of highway was always quiet, but at night it was more so - there were only a few factories and gas stations for at least twenty miles in each direction. The Mission was a good base for the moment. Tristan had chosen well.
Lucas turned his head. Shula was leaning across from the front seat, waving the photograph of Evie in his face. He grunted and went back to looking out of the window.
'Think she'll put up a fight?'
Lucas looked back at Shula. She was studying the photo intently, as though she could will it to life. Her raven-black hair was spilling over her shoulders, her skin glowing freakishly in the green dashboard lights. He almost smirked.
Shula tried so hard to fit in and yet here she was looking as unhuman as a Shapeshifter midshift. He smiled softly. 'Let's hope so.'
Shula grinned back, then kicked her legs up onto the dash and spun the volume dial on the radio to high.
Evie Tremain was so busy inspecting the minuscule amount of change that had been deposited on the table, in the midst of a lake of ketchup next to the pile of dribbling plates, that she didn't immediately notice the man who had taken a seat at the table behind her.
'Ev,' Joe called.
She looked up at the sound of her boss calling and saw him indicate the table behind. She pocketed the change and spun around, remembering to plaster a smile onto her face as she did so.
'Good evening, what can I get you?'
The words died on her lips. The man at the table was staring right at her, evaluating her like she was discounted meat in the freezer section, his gaze travelling up and down her body. Evie shifted her weight onto one hip, resting her hand on it and waited for some eye contact.
Not another one. She sighed to herself. And he was old enough to be her dad, which was really quite gross. She raised an eyebrow and waited until the man lifted his gaze to meet her own.
'Can I get you something?' she asked, offering him a tight smile.
He sank back into the booth, seemingly unembarrassed at having been caught checking her out.
'Yes, please, I’ll have a soya decaff grande latte,' the man replied, without taking his eyes off her face to read the menu.
Evie paused, hand still on hip, wondering whether she should bother pointing out that the menu had just one option for coffee. Filter. Always caffeinated. She didn't. She bit her lip, took the pencil from behind her ear and scribbled on the pad: 1 x coffee.
'Coming right up,' she said brightly, and turned on her heel. She flipped the order down on the counter and Joe took it, peering at her scrawl. Then he reached for the coffee pot sitting on the hot plate behind him.
'Was he giving you any trouble?' he asked, tipping his head in the soya latte customer's direction.
Evie glanced over her shoulder. The man was looking out of the window now. He was about forty she figured, maybe older. Black, with a goatee. He was wearing a solid chunk of gold on the little finger of his right hand. Evie noticed only now she looked at him again that he was dressed kind of weirdly for round here. She looked closer.
The last time anyone had worn a suit in town had been at her dad's funeral, almost a year ago. And this man was actually wearing a three-piece suit, complete with a cherry-red cravat that frothed at the neck, making it look like someone had stabbed him in the jugular. Apart from that, though, the suit kind of worked on the man. Or, rather, the man worked on the suit. She wasn't sure how.
'Do you want me to serve him?'
'Huh?' Evie turned back to face Joe.
'I saw the way he was looking at you,' Joe said. 'Do you want me to serve him?'
Evie smiled as she took the cup of coffee from Joe's hand and slid it onto a tray. 'No, I got it. I need the tips, anyway.'
'Things can't be that bad, surely?' Joe asked. His grey moustache tightened around his lips like a caterpillar undergoing some kind of metamorphosis.
'Nope. I just want out of here – you know that, Joe.'
Joe pulled a face. The kind of face that Evie was sick of seeing. She grabbed the tray before he could say anything else and carried it towards the man at the table.
'One decaff latte,' she said, lowering the tray. 'Grande,' she added, looking at the little cup Joe had given him. At the same moment the door opened and Evie's attention swung towards it. The coffee cup slid sideways.
She heard Joe shout for her to watch out at the same time as she saw the boy in the doorway's eyes widen. Evie's arm shot out, rescuing the coffee cup as it bounced off the edge of the tray. She held it in mid-air, watching as the coffee stilled itself.
She placed it down carefully on the table. 'Sorry about that,' she murmured, glaring over her shoulder at the guy still standing in the doorway.
'Good reflexes,' the man said.
'Huh, yeah,' Evie muttered, backing away towards the counter. Joe was there, watching her with that look on his face again. She shrugged at him. He scowled over the top of her head at the boy in the doorway, before turning his back and starting to wipe down the counter.
Evie took a deep breath and pushed a loose strand of hair out of her face. She tried to tell herself to stay calm but she could already feel the heat rising in her lungs and scorching up her windpipe. She could feel her pulse quickening with the usual endorphin hit of rage.
She turned furiously to face the boy, catching him just as he was about to speak. 'What?' she demanded, cutting him off. The boy shut his mouth and took a step towards her. He glanced around. The coffee shop was empty at this time of night, apart from the guy in the weird outfit. She was thankful. The whole town had already had their noses smashed up against the windows of their business. She didn't need any more witnesses to what had happened between the two of them.
'What do you want? I'm working,' Evie hissed.
'I know. I'm sorry,' the boy began, then stopped, staring down at his feet.
Evie huffed impatiently, aware that her hands were curled into tight fists at her sides.
'I just wanted to talk,' the boy said.
'I have nothing to talk about,' Evie said, studying him, realising that her voice was shaking. If he looked up, if he looked at her with those hangdog brown eyes of his, if she allowed herself for one moment to feel sorry for him, then she would hate herself later. She turned her back on the boy and moved over to an empty
table to clear the cups and plates.
She started stacking, aware that the boy had crept up behind her and was now hovering by her shoulder. She put the stack of cups down carefully on the table and turned to face him. 'Tom, I'm working. Please leave.'
'OK.' Tom nodded. He was close to her, almost brushing arms with her. 'But later, after work, can we talk then?'
She glanced up at the clock over the counter and saw that Joe was looking sideways at her, concern splashed all over his face. God, it was like living in a goldfish bowl without even a stone or some fancy plastic plants to hide behind.
'Tom, why would I want to talk to you? You killed my best friend. The best friend you were also seeing behind my back. Or had you forgotten?'
Tom took a step back, his face crumpling. 'Ev, it was an accident.'
She took a step back. 'Oh, so you weren't driving?'
Tom swallowed hard. It was a strangled sound. Evie hesitated for a second but all the anger and the hurt dammed behind the smiling waitress routine rushed to the surface. It made her cheeks and jaw ache; it made her whole body ache, until she felt like her muscles had calcified from the effort of holding everything she
was feeling inside.
She stared now into Tom's familiar brown eyes, measuring the reaction her words had caused, thinking how strange it was that once upon a time she had run her hands through his hair, linked her fingers through his, had kissed him and thought it was possibly the best feeling in the world. It was strange because now she hated him.
She drew in a breath. 'She shouldn't have even been in the car.'
Tom dropped his eyes to the floor again. Evie felt the anger subside like a break in the storm. She was suddenly overwhelmingly tired. She just wanted to not have to go through this scene every day like she was living on repeat.
She wanted to have someone wipe her memory clean. But seeing as she wasn't likely to get hit on the back of the head and wake up tomorrow with amnesia, the only alternative was to get the hell out of this small town filled with small-town people where the gossip about her and Tom had kept the knitting circle busy for so long they had knitted enough blankets to see the Salvation Army through a nuclear winter.
She wanted to be able to walk down the street among strangers – people who didn't know her and who didn't look at her with crinkled eyes and tilted heads and ask her how she was doing with that strange inflection in their voices that made her want to scream until she was hollow.
She wanted out. So she picked up the stack of cups, walked past Tom and set them on the counter. She kept her back to him until she heard the door jangle behind her.
'You all right?'
Evie looked up. Joe was standing in front of her, his face folded into a frown.
She sighed. 'Yeah, I'm fine. I just. . . you know, I'm just sick of him apologising, as if an apology can ever make up for what he did.'
Joe nodded, taking the tea towel from where he'd flung it over his shoulder and starting to wipe the counter. 'That kid's sure got some guilt to live with.'
Evie glared at Joe. 'Well, he should be living with it in jail.'
Joe pressed his lips together and nodded non-committally. "This one's sure taking his time,' he said, changing the subject and nodding his head at the man in the red cravat.
Evie shot a glance over her shoulder. The man was still looking out of the window. 'Listen, if you want me to lock up, I've got it,' she said to Joe.
'Are you sure, Evie?' he asked, taking the cups and placing them one by one into the dishwasher below the counter. 'Don't you have a home to get to?'
'No, it's OK. I need as many hours as I can get.' She shrugged.
'Still planning on leaving town, then?' Joe asked with a sigh.
Evie considered his face before answering. He reminded her of her father, the same ridge-lined face and deep-set eyes, the same soft tone and silvering hair.
'Sorry, Joe,' she said finally. 'I've got to get out. Only bad stuff happens here.'
Joe nodded slowly. 'I hear you,' he said. 'Listen, if you get any trouble from this one,' he indicated the man drinking coffee, 'then you just call me.'
Evie smiled at him. 'I've got it, Joe. I can take care of myself.'
'I know, I know,' Joe said, reaching for his jacket on the peg behind him. 'One thing your father did right was seeing you could take care of yourself.'
'Just one thing?' Evie asked, smiling, her eyebrows raised.
'Oh, you know what I'm saying,' he mumbled. 'Your father was a good man, Ev Tremain.' He paused a moment. 'And speaking as his best friend I know that he'd be real proud of you.'
Evie's stomach muscles contracted violently, forcing all the air out of her lungs, and leaving her feeling like she was underwater,drowning silently. She swallowed twice and tried to smile at Joe. He reached over and patted her hand before leaving.
When she heard the clang of the door, she reached forward, resting her palms on the counter, and took a deep breath and then another. She pushed her hair back out of her face and straightened up before turning around with a smile.
'Can I get you anything else?' she asked the man at the table by the window.
He was looking straight at her, as though he'd been watching this whole time. Her back straightened and her shoulders tensed. The man's face suddenly split into a wide smile. 'Just the check,' he said.
Evie ripped a page off her pad and went to place it in front of him, then hovered by the table with her arms crossed over her chest.
The man rummaged for his wallet, then drew out two crisp ten-dollar bills. He dropped them onto the table and Evie frowned before looking up. The coffee only cost a dollar something.
The man caught her eye. 'Sounds like you could use the extra tips,' he said.
She narrowed her eyes at him. Nothing came for free. That had been one of her father and Joe's favourite sayings. Her dad would walk in here, pull up a counter stool and demand a free coffee. Joe would laugh, pour him one and tell him nothing came for free, before setting the bill in front of him.
Evie stepped forward and, with her eyes still on the man, picked up the notes. She folded them and put them in her apron pocket.
'Thanks,' she said, reaching for the empty coffee cup.
'I’m opening a store just over the road there,' the man said. Evie looked at where he was pointing, over the street at Cardman's Old Bookstore. It was boarded up and had a To Let sign hanging off it.
'Really?' Evie asked, unable to contain her surprise. Her mum usually knew everything going on in this town before the people it was happening to even knew it themselves, but she'd said nothing to Evie about a new shop opening up.
'Yes, it's more of a boutique than a store, really,' the man said and Evie noticed for the first time that he had an accent, though she couldn't quite place it.
'What kind of a boutique?' Evie asked. Her mother would want to know.
'Clothing. Fashion,' he said. 'Seems like the one thing thistown is missing is some good fashion.'
Evie studied him again for any sign that he was joking. 'Are you expecting to turn a profit?' she asked.
The man threw back his head. 'Sometimes it's not about the money, it's about the dream,' he laughed.
'Your dream is to dress the women of Riverview in couture?' Evie laughed. 'Good luck with that. This is a farming community, the only fashion the women here are into involves denim and leather – and probably not in the way you're thinking.'
She shook her head and made to move off. Weird. This man was so weird. And so soon to be bankrupt.
'You know, I'm looking for a sales assistant, if you're interested,' the man called to her back.
Evie paused. She put the coffee cup down on the counter and turned to him. 'What are you paying?'
The man shrugged. 'Thirty dollars an hour.'
Evie's eyebrows shot up. Thirty dollars an hour? Was the man insane? That was almost four times what she made here.
'Forty,' she replied, blanking her face.
An amused smile seemed to be skirting the man's mouth.
She wanted to burst out laughing but she held it in, biting the inside of her cheek instead. 'Deal,' she said. 'When do I start?'
Evie thought about it. 'I work two other jobs – this one three evenings a week from five till ten and then I help my mother out in my dad's store on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Other than that,
I'm all yours.'
The man appraised her. 'When do you find the time to sleep?'
'I m trying to save as much money as I can right now, so any extra work is good.'
'Well then, Evie, I guess we have a deal. Tomorrow is Tuesday, so I'll see you at ten a.m.'
She frowned at him. How had he known her name? She guessed he must have heard Joe or Tom say it earlier. 'OK.' She nodded.
'Can I know who I'm working for?'
The man stood and Evie stepped back involuntarily. He was enormous – solid muscle underneath his suit – and the seams looked fit to burst on his inside thigh, not that she was looking.
But she sure as hell noticed that he wasn't built like the farmers around here, who were wiry and tough – he was built more like a body builder.
'My name is Victor,' he said, holding out his hand. 'Victor Lassonde.'
Here's the line-up for the rest of this blog tour!
About the Book ('Fated')
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
IF YOU CAN'T CHOOSE WHO TO LOVE,
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST?
Lucas Gray is half Shadow Warrior, half human, and a member of the Brotherhood - a group of assassins tasked with killing the last purebred Hunter on Earth before she can fulfil a dangerous prophecy. That Hunter's name is Evie Tremain.
Evie is seventeen-years-old, a waitress, and has just discovered she is the last in a long line of demon slayers - and an unwilling participant in a war between Hunters and Unhumans that has raged for the last thousand years.
About the Author (Sarah Alderson)
Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months in India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing by the pool and drinking lots of coconuts.She finished her first novel Hunting Lila just before they left the UK, wrote the sequel on the beach in India, and had signed a two book deal with Simon & Schuster by the time they reached Bali.A third book, Fated, about a teenage demon slayer, which was written during their stay in California, will be published in January 2012 by Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). She is currently working on sequels to both series of books.