Authors: Kimberly Montague
Tags: #romance, #paranormal romance, #young adult, #teen, #teen suspense, #teen paranormal romance, #apocacylptic, #teen paranormal fiction
Cover images are courtesy of:
PublicDomainPictures.net Photographer: Petr Kratochvil
iStockphoto.com: Photographers: Bjorn Kindler and Mitchell Krog
This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and incidents are fictional or used in a fictitious manner and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is completely coincidental.
Setenid Blight Book TWO
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 by Kimberly Homer Montague
No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Visit my website at www.kimberlymontague.com
If you are reading this book and you have not purchased it or won it in an author/publisher contest, this book has been pirated. Please support the author by deleting it and purchasing the ebook from one of its distributors.
Always for my Teddy and my SuperMom, without whom I wouldn't have the time, confidence, or sanity to continue writing.
For my friends who listen to me talk about my stories, read them, and tell me to keep going when I get discouraged.
For my readers who enjoy my crazy stories enough to see beyond my flaws and eccentricities as a writer.
Table of Contents
This is the 27
letter I've written to you, and I know it has to be the last. I've spent the last two months pouring my broken heart out to useless pieces of paper like this one, hoping just one might make its way to you. But I know they haven't. Some military official has probably read my letters and had a good laugh over the overemotional wreck of a girlfriend you were forced to leave behind, but it doesn't really matter.
I hope you're safe. I hope you know how much I love you and that it doesn't matter how long it takes, I'll wait for you to come back to me.
I've stared at this blank page so many times in the past four months, ever since Dr. Avery gave me this journal. It was a fitting and beautiful gift for what I thought of as "graduation from therapy," but now I think it was less of a gift and more of a reminder that I'd never be done healing. He'd said it often enough, encouraged me to keep seeing him at least once a month, but I really felt like I was okay. But lately, I'm not really that okay, not under the surface. So, I'm making a vow to write out the details of my world in order to do what Dr. Avery would love to know I remembered—and what I've rolled my eyes at a million times. I'm going to try my best to analyze and accept the choices I've made and the circumstances I've been placed in.
Now, where to start…
Seven months ago, I watched the military take away the person I was meant to be with—the man I loved with all my heart, and the man I had such an electrically charged connection with that my best friend, Gary, called it "fairy-tale stuff." I wasn't given a choice—I was barely given a moment to say goodbye. And he wasn't given a choice as they dragged him away to be killed.
Since then, I know very little about what has happened to him. Thanks to my brother, Harm, I know that he is alive, being held against his will, and being forced to fight the war against the infection being called "highly infectious, but little more than a case of the flu." Funny how a case of the flu causes extreme aggression to the point where you start murdering people blindly with supernatural strength. Obviously, the cover-up was at epic proportions.
During the two month quarantine in Bishop, the entire town was sealed off. No access was given to the media under the guise of possible contamination. All cell phone signals were jammed and rumor had it they shut down the cell towers around us. Our internet and cable TV connections were down as well. After the quarantine, the few who actually talked about what had really happened and the family members they had lost were laughed at on national television or labeled with post traumatic stress disorder. No one could believe the reality. I was angry for months about it, but then I began to accept the truth—it would cause a widespread panic. And the quarantines seemed to work, so I tried to let it go and trust that they had it under control.
With the complete wipeout of most of Bishop by Jay and his band of murdering, demo-happy Infecteds, we were left without a high school, one of our two grocery stores, a city hall, a home improvement store, and oddly enough, two video stores. After the two-month quarantine, people started moving away almost immediately. Some were afraid the infection would return, some were afraid the town would never be able to rebuild, and some simply didn't want to be around a constant reminder of what they'd been through. I was sort of stuck in between all three.
I'd seen it all firsthand—too firsthand to be honest. I'd seen Jay and Dev get infected at the source, watched it turn Jay from my caring ex-boyfriend into an aggressive animal that attacked me then brutally murdered his parents and his beloved little sister. I watched it cycle through Dev's system, making him a little aggressive, but not murderous. Physically, he was stronger than any human had any right to be, but he was my Dev even with the infection—the man I loved. And I watched as Jay attacked anyone on his course to destroy me. So I'd really had plenty of all the emotions everyone faced. But still, when Gabriel and Evelyn—my best friend's parents who had taken me in as their own—wanted to move away, I fought to stay in Bishop.
I know, I know, why, right? Well, I realize part of it was an irrational fear that if I left, Dev wouldn't be able to find me. Part of it was the completely rational fear that the infection would spread wherever we went. And part of it was because my memories of Dev were in Bishop. I could lie in my bed and remember him holding me there. I could sit on the floor of the bathroom and think about that electrically charged first kiss we shared.
I spent two months doing just that and little else—and that includes eating and talking—before I blacked out and was put in the hospital. But that's ancient history, well if by ancient you mean five months, and I do. I'd been through therapy and had been branded "sane and healthy"—as sane and healthy as anyone can be, and in my honest opinion, we're all some form of complete loon. And I was doing a swimmingly good job of making myself appear as if I had a life.
We didn't have a big school anymore. All of Kennedy High had been relegated to ten small portable buildings in the old baseball field, and even that had taken two months to set up. Regardless, we tried to have a senior year, and I became one of the ring leaders for it. With half of the senior class gone from either moving away or… dead, I used my knowledge and creativity to contribute in any way I could. We did fundraisers for prom. We tried to keep the sports program alive, and I attended all the games I could. We used cell phone cameras and donated computers to keep the yearbook going, and I started writing for it. I even managed to talk a few local businesses into sponsoring the cheerleaders—the few that were left. Cheerleaders, it seemed, were unnaturally high on the list of those who had been murdered, go figure.
To sum it all up, I became superwoman and tried to have my hands in as many cookie jars as possible so that I wouldn't notice the gaping, massive, empty, flaming hole smoldering in my chest. When I wasn't striving toward having my picture multiple times on the superlatives page of the yearbook, I was working at a bookstore in the neighboring city of Laws. Intentionally, my days were jam-packed with distractions… my nights on the other hand, well they were about as bad as they could get.
I was plagued with nightmare after nightmare about Dev and Harm and Kim, Ted, and Donald, but mostly Dev. They'd started out normal enough with a recurring nightmare where my brain revisited the events of that awful night when Dev was taken by force from me. I remembered in detail trying to hold onto him and begging them to let him go. I remembered him telling me I had to let him go. From that happy point, they got worse… much worse.
In my dreams, they killed Dev on the spot instead of dragging him off. In my dreams, they tortured him in front of me, pulling his infected green eyes right out of their sockets as he screamed in pain. In my dreams, they raped and killed Kim then dissected Dev's body piece-by-piece while he was still alive. But those were just in the beginning. They'd evolved to include the things I saw and did every day and new and inventive ways the military would work in Dev's murder. The worst ones—the "screamers" as I'd started calling them—were those where they forced Harm to torture and kill Dev in front of me. I usually avoided sleep for a night or two after that.
One morning, after a particularly loud screaming session that woke up everyone in the house, I was forced to face facts. When I walked into the kitchen and found Gabriel and Evelyn giving me sympathetic stares, I knew what was coming, and I nearly ran back to my room to hide from it.
Aside from being my best friend Sonya's parents, Evelyn had been my mom's best friend and Gabriel was taking on more of a father role toward me every day. I knew they loved me and had my best interests at heart; they always did. But I had been doing a stellar job of avoiding any discussion of my emotions, and I really hated to ruin that streak.
Sonya poured me a glass of orange juice, looking far too awake with her high cheekbones and the bouncy waves of her long, caramel-colored hair. Her pitying smile was well intentioned, but I avoided connecting with her all-knowing eyes as she gently pushed me toward the table.
I sat down and stared at the white wooden tabletop, trying to block out everything. The sterility of the white table did nothing to help distract me, so I shifted my gaze to the orange juice. The glass had Disney characters on it that were supposed to be cheerful and whimsical. To me, they looked deranged when backed by the color of the almost neon orange juice.
"Evie." Gabriel put his hand on mine, forcing me to look at him. He kept his voice calm, and I noticed his dark brown hair seemed to have more gray in it in the light filtering in through the glass patio door. "It's not that we don't think you've been doing a good job of handling the situation. You've done so much better in the past few months, but the nightmares are getting worse."
I stared back at the too-orange Disney characters. Did they think the whole characters on a glass thing through? Drinks were various colors; that was obvious. They had to have known the characters would look sort of freaky with different colors behind them.
"Evie, please look at me."
The pleading in Gabriel's voice is what made me focus. I loved Gabriel and hated to hear him upset. And as hard as I had tried to deny it, I knew it would come to this eventually. On the surface, I was doing great. Underneath, I was a wreck. It was almost a relief to be called out on it.
Evelyn spoke quietly, but with a firmness that told me I wouldn't be able to talk my way out of this. "We want you to go back to therapy." Her rich brown eyes were firm, drawing my attention to the fact that she had very few wrinkles. She didn't look like she was in her forties with her brown hair flowing down her shoulders. The coral shirt I'd seen her in many times always made her olive skin glow.
The whole room was quiet and still for several moments. I thought if I just stayed silent, perhaps everyone would keep holding their breaths indefinitely. I didn't like being the cause of distress, though. I didn't like being worried about. There were too many other things—larger and more deadly—for everyone to be concentrating on.