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Authors: Julie Wright

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Death Thieves

BOOK: Death Thieves
2.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

No part of this work may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.

Published by Kindle Press, Seattle, 2016

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Amazon, the Amazon logo, Kindle Scout, and Kindle Press are trademarks of
, Inc., or its affiliates.

Praise for Death Thieves:

“Death Thieves by Julie Wright is such a fantastic read, perfectly paced and packed with emotion, intrigue, and characters I fell in love with. The premise is strong, a twist on time travel that’s both original and fascinating. Summer Rae felt so real to me, and as brave as she is, it was her sense of humor that I loved most. Everyone needs to read this amazing book!”


—James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of the Maze Runner

To Merrik,

the kind of fabulous son who would visit me via time travel

if he knew I was having a bad day . . . you know . . . if he had access to time travel.

I love you, buddy



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven


There is a sign above my desk that says, “Writing is hard work. Do it only if you have to.” While the sign is a little bit of a joke, it’s also a little bit
a joke. Writing is definitely hard work, but there are people in my life who have eased that burden for me tremendously. Thank you Heather Moore, who always cheers me on and cheers me up and who was one of the very first readers for
Death Thieves
. Her advice and example has kept me relevant in the market. Thank you Jessica Day George and Josi Kilpack for taking the time to read the book and offer valuable feedback. Thank you Amy Jameson for believing the book is valuable and for brainstorming titles that worked better than my original. Your belief in this story got me through a pretty dark time in my writing career. Thank you to Paul for doing a great job with content editing and forcing me to question things I hadn’t considered before and to Ruth for her mad skills with a comma. Thank you Kindle Press for giving this novel a chance. Thank you Jeff and Jen Savage and James Dashner for years of friendship, great advice, and support. And, as always, an enormous infinite amount of gratitude goes to my own Mr. Wright, who always stands by whatever fool thing I decide I want to do and who holds the ladder for me while I do it. I love you. To my three kids who put up with a lot of takeout and ramen noodles while I’m working on a new book, you guys cannot know how much I love you. Finally, thank you to all you readers who will give this story new life every time you read it or share it with someone else. Writing is hard work. But I
have to do it. All of you make the work worth it.

Chapter One

I stumbled in the dark, trying to get out without alerting anyone to my escape. The window stuttered open, sticking in various places from serious lack of use. With a quick glance behind me to see if anyone noticed and a deep breath, I heaved myself out the window, my feet dangling off the side searching for footholds—anything to keep me from falling to my death.

A few more feet and I’d be free. A few more feet and—

“Where exactly do you think you’re going?”

I cursed under my breath and looked up. “Are you going to tell Mother Theresa?”

My twin sister scowled at my nickname for our aunt. “Summer, don’t. Don’t ask me to lie for you.”

“I’m not asking you to lie. I’m asking you not to tell. It’s totally different.”

“So where are you going?”

I couldn’t see her gold-flecked hazel eyes that were mirrors of my own, but I knew she was irritated with me. “Caving. It’s for a good cause. We’re cleaning up the cave walls from all the graffiti.” Surely a good cause was reason enough to break out of my prison. My fingers cramped as they clung to the latticework on the side of our Aunt Theresa’s house.

Winter sighed but said, “Fine. I won’t tell. But don’t get caught.” She shook her head, making her dark brown hair look wild as she stared down at me from the window. I began my descent again, jumping the last few feet.

I blew a kiss up at her. With a twist of her mouth that landed somewhere between a smile and grimace she said, “I love you, too. Be back before

I saluted, chuckling softly at her joke over my name, Summer Dawn. Reminders on when to be back weren’t needed. If our aunt found me gone, my current three-month grounding would be extended to a year or more—maybe a life sentence. But it couldn’t be helped. I
to get out. She had grounded me for three months of my senior year of high school. What kind of person did stuff like that?

Mother Theresa, that’s who. The woman wasted no time to dole out punishments like grounding or taking away privileges when she felt things weren’t going her way. And even when I tried really hard to let her have her way, she’d say my attitude needed work, and I’d end up grounded . . . again.

I stuck to the shadows, feeling nervous as I headed to the street. I’d had the insanely creepy feeling that someone was watching me all week. Winter laughed when I told her about it and told me to stop getting hysterical on her.

The streetlight glowed over Nathan’s car half a block down. I shook off the feeling. Walking alone for half a block wasn’t far enough to merit getting all jumpy.

“You made it!” His tall, thin frame shoved off from where he’d been leaning against his dad’s car. He caught me in his arms. I breathed in the rich scent of mud and water that never seemed to wash out of his clothes. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“If we don’t get out of here now, she’ll catch us.”

He nodded and slid in behind the driver’s wheel. Mother Theresa terrified Nathan.

Easy breathing didn’t happen until we were ten blocks down the road and pulling onto the highway heading out of the city of Orting, Washington, and up into the mountains. I willed myself not to look in the rearview mirror, fearing I’d see the glare of her headlights coming after me.

“This is getting ridiculous,” Nathan said as if reading my thought.

“We’re almost through it.” The impossibility of keeping the tired out of my voice overwhelmed me.

He flicked his glance from the road to me. “Three months is a life sentence in high school years. She’s not even your real aunt. What is she? A cousin three times removed or something? Can’t you put in a call to someone? Tell them Theresa is a psychopath and you need a different foster home?”

“Are you kidding? Alice nearly held a parade for the entire state of Washington when she found out we had any relatives willing to take us in: aunt, cousin, or otherwise.” Alice had the unsavory job of being my social worker. She felt like more of a mother figure to me than the crack-addict mother she took Winter and me away from when we were five years old. Alice had worked hard to keep Winter and me together. Aunt Theresa’s house was a last-ditch opportunity, and we all knew it. There were no different foster homes. There was only the freedom that would come on our eighteenth birthday.

Nathan pulled off the road next to several other cars. His headlights slashed into the dark maw of the cave. Just as he cut the lights, a face appeared from within the shadows, disappearing as his lights went out. “Hey!” I pointed to the cave. “Did you see . . . ?”

Nathan was already out of his seatbelt and hanging halfway out the door as he reached behind us for the duffel. “See what?”

“I saw someone, in the cave, before you turned your lights out.” I pointed some more, though he wasn’t looking at me.

“Yeah? And?”

“I just . . .” I trailed off, wondering how to explain in a way that didn’t make me sound like a mental patient.

“Relax, Summer. Everyone else is already here. So if you saw someone, it was just one of the guys. You’re getting so ax-murderer paranoid lately.”

He’d hefted out the duffel and headed to the cave.

I scrambled to catch up. “I am not!” My defense sounded hollow, even to me. The truth, when forced to admission, was that I’d been paranoid all week. But that face didn’t belong to one of the guys. The face wasn’t anyone we knew. I shook my head to get back to reality. The stranger looked close to my age, maybe a bit older. One of Nathan’s friends might have brought an older brother, cousin, or someone from a different high school. And what did it matter. A stranger wouldn’t know Theresa. A stranger couldn’t get me into trouble.

Nathan fastened on his headlamp with Velcro straps and slung the duffel over his shoulder. The dark of the cave swallowed him. With a grunt, I followed—bumping into him just past the entrance. He laughed when he heard my cry of alarm. “Scared ya!”

I punched his shoulder.

“Ow! Summer! Don’t get mean!” He flipped on his headlamp and handed me mine.

The cave went deep, ending abruptly at a yawning hole in the ground. A frayed climbing rope wound around a boulder and disappeared into the dark of the throat.

We strapped ourselves into the harnesses, clipping the carabiner into the eye hook. “Ladies first.” Nathan’s grin glowed white in the low light from my headlamp.

“Whatever. You go first. That way, if I fall I have something soft to land on.”

“There’s nothing soft about me.” He flexed his muscles before hooking himself to the ropes. After several minutes he called up to me. “Down already.”

My hands shook as I clipped the carabiners together. “What is my damage?” I muttered. Lots of girls are skittish; my own sister is still afraid of the dark, but me? Never. Voices filtered up from below, indicating Nathan’s friends were gathered and ready to go. Likely the new guy would be among them. Everyone would be waiting on me.

I started my descent, going faster than normal. I looked up just as I passed the lip into the lower caves and gasped.

The whites of his eyes flashed in the glimmer of light that passed over him from my headlamp.

The face again.

Not a new guy below me, but a stranger looming above me.

With a panicked cry, I let go of the rope.

Chapter Two

Before I could muster the sense to grab the rope and catch my fall, I’d bounced against the wall several times, sending jolts of pain through my body. My fingers burned hot through the climbing gloves as I finally caught the rope. “Stupid!” I yelled, not entirely sure what I meant by that, just grateful I’d found my voice.

“What are you doing?” Panic laced Nathan’s voice, and several lanterns shone up at me, blinding me to anything but the bright spots. I looked up to the top, my headlamp illuminating the lip of the hole, but saw nothing there except the shadows cast by my own movement and light.

“Stupid!” I shouted again, still not sure what I meant by the word. “I swear, Nathan—if this is some prank, I am so going to kill you a hundred different ways!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! You think I want you to break that pretty neck? Huh?”

His friends laughed, making me grateful I’d missed whatever comment they may have made about my neck or any other body part. I hurried to the bottom.

BOOK: Death Thieves
2.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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