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Authors: Melissa Darnell

Capture

BOOK: Capture
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Being different means a death sentence...

A series of deadly explosions in Washington D.C. creates a PR nightmare for the Clann...they've been outed to the world, and the world's reaction is nothing but fear.

As the Clann's powerbase crumbles in the face of the public's widespread negative reaction, caught in the middle of the exposed web of lies and secrets are high school seniors Tarah and Hayden, former childhood friends fighting a rocky past and a dangerous new attraction that defies betrayal and the secrets they are keeping from their families and each other...

Secrets that could get them imprisoned or killed...or just might result in a love that could save the world.

 

#
4:

C
APTURE

Melissa Darnell

 

Copyright © 201
4 Melissa Darnell

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the Publishers.

Published by Netherfield House Press

www.NetherfieldHousePress.com

ISBN:
978-1-935649-20-5

Graphics Credits:

Cover design by Melissa Darnell.

Male cover model: Hunter Darnell

Female cover model: SavannahAnn McMillan

Background cover photo used with permission from
kr-2y-51-3k at DeviantArt.com.

 

Also by Melissa Darnell:

Adult:

Homecoming

THE CLANN SERIES:

Dance with Darkness

New Adult:

Guilty

MIDNIGHT
GIRLS SERIES:

Scent of Evil

Scent of Revenge

Scent of Rain

Young Adult:

The Last Firefly

THE CLANN SERIES:

Crave

Covet

Consume

Capture

 

“Darnell has a unique ability to draw her reader into her world. Her imagery is fantastic. Her characters are so real, it's easy to forget they're imaginary. Their struggles are heartbreaking and their love is toe curling."

—Julie Anne Lindsey, Musings from the Slush Pile review for The Clann Series #2: Covet

“Covet takes you on one big emotional rollercoaster ride. I loved every minute of it! I didn't think it would top Crave, but Darnell pulled it off. Needless to say, Darnell is on auto buy for me and this series is definitely one of my favorites. I have a lot of books that are my favorite, but when asked for recommendations, this series is one that always comes to mind."

—Damaris, Good Choice Reading review for The Clann Series #2: Covet

“Author Melissa Darnell has created characters that are not only like-able, but stay with you well past the pages.”

—Teresa, The Duchess Mommy Reads review for The Clann Series #1: Crave

"Melissa Darnell has a way of making you feel the emotions right along with the characters and it's brilliant.”

—Jenna, Shortie Says review for The Clann Series #1: Crave

 

C
HAPTER 1

Friday, November 20th

Tarah

E
veryone remembers where they were when the second U.S. civil war began. And how simply it started, with just two big bangs out of nowhere. And how it ended up setting the whole world on fire eventually.

Only minutes before
it all began to fall apart, I was standing outside Mr. Sherman's senior World History class with my friend Aimee, her obnoxious boyfriend Gary, and his two usual mindless sidekicks. I was trying my hardest not to lose yet another set of friendships in my life. But lately it wasn’t going too well.


Come on, Tarah, you said yourself this guy used to be your best friend,” Aimee whined, clutching Gary’s upper arm. “How could he possibly say no to you?”


’Used to be’ being the operative term here,” I said. “I haven’t even spoken to Hayden Shepherd in years. And now you want me to just go up to him and tell him to—”


Just to come to a meeting with us, is all,” Aimee said. “It’s not that big a deal. He’ll probably love it! You always have fun with us, right? Why wouldn’t he?”

Why wouldn't he?

A hundred reasons raced through my mind...

Reason #1:
Because he’s Hayden Shepherd, only surviving son of
the
most conservative United States senator ever, and his father would kill him if Hayden was even seen with us in public, much less caught in the woods with us at one of our meetings.

Reason #2:
Because we were best friends for six years, and then I went and destroyed that friendship with my big mouth.

Reason #3: And because of Reason #2,
he probably hates my guts now.

I opened my mouth to list these reasons
along with a whole bunch of others to her. But I never got the chance.


Aim, let it go already,” Gary said before I could speak, his thick, dark eyebrows dipping still lower over equally dark eyes. “Hayden’s never going to speak to anyone like us, much less actually help us. He’s a rich kid, a one percenter from birth. He's never going to help someone unless there's something in it for him.”


That’s totally unfair,” I found myself blurting out. “Hayden’s not like that. Money’s got nothing to do with who he is.”


Oh yeah?” Gary turned those dark eyes on me. “If Hayden’s such a great guy, then why is his best friend Kyle Kingsley?”

I didn’t have an answer for that one.
Hayden had replaced me with Kyle the Vile as soon as I stopped hanging out with Hayden and his brother in junior high. Hayden’s choice in replacement best friend didn’t make any more sense to me now than it had back then.


What about that night in the woods?” Aimee insisted, her voice dropping to a hushed murmur. “Hayden was the only one who survived. So he has to know something that can help us too.”

Crossing his arms over his chest,
Gary growled, making the flow of traffic edge further away from us as students hurried past on their way to class. “Why do we keep having this argument? I’ve told you, the only reason Hayden could have survived was because he caused all those deaths in the first place! Which is just another reason why we’ve got no business even considering asking for his help. Which, like I’ve also said a thousand times before, we
don’t need
. All we need is a little more practice and—”


And we’re going to end up getting ourselves killed,” I muttered, unable to stop myself though I knew how Gary would react.

He didn’t disappoint.
“No thanks to
your
help,” he snarled. “You know, if you’ve got such a problem with the way I’m running things, you don’t have to come to the meetings.”

His implied threat to kick me out of the group hit its target, and
I flinched in spite of my best efforts not to. Even if I didn't exactly fit in among them and could barely stand Gary and his stupid sidekicks, Aimee and the others in our group were the only friends I had now. If I lost them, I would be truly alone in this school.


Hey, she’s not the one suggesting we get help!” Aimee ducked out from beneath Gary’s arm so she could step closer to me. “This was
my
idea, remember? And none of us are trying to replace you as leader, so relax already. We’re just looking for a few tips from someone who might have the answers we need to keep us safe.”


And you really think a mass murderer like
Shepherd
is going to help us out?” Gary smirked, his tone making the question rhetorical.

I knew he was baiting me just to get a rise out of me.
But I still couldn’t keep my lips zipped. “Stop calling him that. That’s a crappy rumor, and you know it. If Hayden actually caused all those deaths, even his dad couldn’t have saved him.” No one had enough money or political clout to get out of killing that many people. Not even the Shepherds. “Besides, why would he kill his brother too?”

I had to fight to keep my voice from wobbling on that last part.

“Obviously because he lost control,” Gary said.

My back teeth ground together hard enough to hurt the muscles in my jaw.
I took a step closer to Gary. “You don’t know him. Hayden’s a good guy. And he adored his older brother. There’s no way he would have killed Damon, not even by accident.” Not Hayden. And especially not in those woods,
our
woods. The Hayden I'd once known had slain dragons, not innocents.

Unfortunately that was the exact moment the subject of our debate chose to
walk around the corner of the hallway where we were standing. And the dark scowl on his face didn't exactly make him look innocent of murder.

I froze.

A muscle in Hayden’s jaw clenched into a hard knot as he circled around us and disappeared into the classroom behind me.

Had he heard us talking about him?

“You don’t think
that guy
is a killer?” Gary hissed, leaning forward into my face and stabbing a finger in the air in Hayden's direction. “Then obviously you're letting your little school girl crush on him totally delude you. He's a murderer, Tarah, plain and simple. Everyone knows it but you. Don't let his money and family name blind you to the truth."

"I'm not!" I
had to fight not to shout the words as the blood roared into my head with all the unexpected force of a tidal wave after a dam wall breaks. How
dare
Gary accuse me of being so shallow? I had never cared about Hayden's family name or money.

"
Really?" Gary stared at me, disbelief written all over his face. "Then if he's so innocent, tell me just what do you think happened in those woods that night?”

I sighed and held my
tablet tighter against my chest. “I…don’t know.”

Aimee
turned to Gary. “Oh, get off her back about it, Gary. Nobody knows what really happened except for Hayden. But she has a good point. Too many people died that night. If Hayden was responsible, all the money and political pull in the world couldn't have covered it up."

She took a deep breath, then reached down to take her boyfriend's hand. "
Look, what if everyone else died that night because they were experimenting like us and they made one mistake too many? We could end up just like them. Dead. Maybe Hayden didn’t die because he was watching from a safe distance. Or maybe he knew something that protected him. Either way, we owe it to ourselves and each other to at least see if he could help us stop the same thing from happening to us.” She swallowed hard, her pale white throat working with the effort. “I know you don't like it. But we need him. Please give her a chance to try and talk him into coming. It'll only be for one meeting.”

Seconds ticked by as
Gary stared at me, his jaw muscles repeatedly knotting then relaxing. Finally he shrugged one shoulder. “Whatever. I've got to get to class.”

Aimee
shot me a quick smile. “Good luck! Call me later and tell me what he said, okay?” Without waiting for my reply, she took off at a jog down the hall to catch up with Gary and his buddies, her thick boots’ rubber soles clomping against the shiny, overly waxed linoleum.

Blowing out a long breath, I ducked into history class just as the tardy bell rang.

Hayden was already in his desk directly behind mine, his long, normally stretched out legs cramped up beneath his own desk for a change. As if he didn’t want to risk coming into contact with me as I walked past him. He didn’t look up as I hurried into my seat then got ready for class, waking up my school-assigned tablet and detaching its metal stylus from its side edge. Several clicks added to the buzzing of the fluorescent lights overhead as everyone turned on their tablets then tapped the screens with their styluses to start their audio recordings of the upcoming lecture.

If only we had known what was about to happen in a few short minutes, we would have held up our tablets, aimed the built-in cameras at the front of the room, and started video recordings instead so that we could capture every single visual detail along with the sounds of history in the making for later generations to try and understand what
that earth-shaking moment was like.

But we thought
it was just another school day like all the others that had come before it. And having to listen to Mr. Sherman's boring lectures again was bad enough without also having to see just how boring his delivery style was. So we started audio recordings, unknowingly adding to that day's countless other audio recordings and videos shot from cell phone cameras, security cameras, and home television DVRs set to record daytime soap opera shows—ensuring that this infamous day would become the most widely captured day ever in human history.

In those final minutes of peace,
Mr. Sherman’s voice began its usual droning lecture from where he’d perched on a stool at the front of the room. And with my tablet recording the lecture for me to reference later at home, I thought I was free to zone out.

I needed
a way to bring up what would surely be the world's most awkward conversation ever with the guy sitting in the desk behind me.

Or m
aybe I was overthinking it. Maybe it wouldn't be awkward at all. Heck, maybe Hayden actually didn't even care about the past anymore, and it was only me and my stupid guilt that was blowing it all out of proportion. Maybe he'd be happy to come to a meeting and help out.

I closed my eyes and rubbed at the pounding that had begun in my temples. Yeah right. Even if Hayden didn't remember or care about how our friendship had ended, there was no way he was going to happily agree to come to a meeting with a bunch of Goths in the woods at night. Especially after losing his only brother in another area of those same woods.

Unable to help myself, I risked a look back over my shoulder.

Hunched over his desk, Hayden’s piercing blue eyes looked up at me from beneath their heavy fringe of brown lashes and the thick, sun-streaked brown hair that flopped across his forehead and eyebrows.
As usual, he was in serious need of a haircut. Some things never changed.

His eyes narrowed, his
jaw muscles knotting up at the sides of his face, as he returned my stare.

Then again, some things definitely had changed.
And not for the better.

I turned to face the front of the room again, swallowing hard.
Either he'd heard us talking about him before class today, or he was still holding a grudge against me for messing up everything we'd once shared together.

A knot formed in my throat, making it hard to breathe.
Once, I would have been able to know at a glance exactly what Hayden was thinking, even to the point of being able to finish his sentences. But too much time and distance had made his mind a complete mystery to me. He was no longer the guy I'd once known.

Maybe the rumors about him and all those deaths were true, and he
was
capable of the unthinkable. People changed, and not always for the better.

But in my heart, I just couldn't accept the rumors. People couldn't change
that
much.

Could they?

A quick, loud double rap at our classroom's door made me jump. My stylus clattered to the floor.

The door opened, and Principal Thomas stepped inside.

Frowning,
Mr. Sherman stood up and circled around the rows of desks, his loafers making tiny squeaks against the linoleum floor, until he joined the principal. They stood there together for several minutes, their murmurs too low for me to hear clearly two rows away.

Hayden's desk creaked behind me,
all but begging me to turn and sneak another glance at him. But this time I was able to resist the urge, because even though I couldn't hear exactly what the teacher and principal were saying, I could at least tell that it was about something major. Just the fact that the principal had come to deliver a message personally instead of using the intercom system was a big clue. And then there was the way they were acting, both of them pale and frowning, the rhythm of their low mutters fast and clipped. Principal Thomas' hands made quick, stabbing gestures every time it was his turn to say something. At one point, Mr. Sherman froze for a few seconds before jamming a hand through his thinning hair. When his hand dropped to his side again, his hair stuck up in little rows of tufts like dead brown grass pushed over by a flash flood.

BOOK: Capture
13.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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