Authors: Addison Moore
(The Countenance Series Book 2)
Copyright © 2013 by Addison Moore
Cover by Addison Moore Publishing
Interior art by Regina Wamba
Editor: Sarah Freese
This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to
peoples either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names,
places, and characters are figments of the author’s imagination.
The author holds all rights to this work. It is illegal to
reproduce this novel without written expressed consent from the
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Books by Addison Moore
Ethereal (Celestra Series Book 1)
Tremble (Celestra Series Book 2)
Burn (Celestra Series Book 3)
Wicked (Celestra Series Book 4)
Vex (Celestra Series Book 5)
Expel (Celestra Series Book 6)
Toxic Part 1 (Celestra Book 7)
Toxic Part 2 (Celestra book 7.5)
Ephemeral (The Countenance Trilogy 1)
Evanescent (The Countenance Trilogy 2)
Ethereal Knights (Celestra Knights)
Someone to Love (Garrison University 1)
You’re forever in my heart—safe in God’s arms.
Save a place for me.
In the eyes of God, the truth is living and active,
sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of
soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, discerning the
thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The truth lay before us cloaked in the lie
of expensive clothing, fine education, dollar bills stacked to the
throne of God. The deceivers pulled out all the stops with their
sleight of hand, offering a new life, new bonds, forsaking the old,
forgetting them entirely. But the metallic scent of blood lingered
in the air. The smoke of the past occluded my vision. It burned and
stung until I cried out for mercy and found a path of light that
offered the clarity and peace only the truth could bring.
True love burns bright in the eye of
adversity. It is the heart that nestles the past, cradles and cares
for it as if it were a newborn. But wounds drilled craters into
those cherished memories. Hurt and pain adulterated all that was
once precious and unspoiled. Then a new love came with the power to
bind the aching wounds, to stop the bleeding. It healed the heart,
the soul, and promised to build a path to the future.
Sometimes you have to say goodbye to the
past entirely to ever set foot in the future, but my heart lies in
the precarious balance between the old and the new. I walk the
tightrope made from adulation and allegiance with no net and no
compass, leaving me stranded in the middle without an inkling of
which direction to turn.
They say old friends are the best, but life
has taught me that sometimes new friends are better. They are the
bridge, the safety net I so desire, and it is through them that
sanity and reason usher me to the safe haven filled with the
answers—the resolutions I long for.
True love. I hold it in my right hand and my
left. I cannot breathe without one and cannot survive without the
other. In their own way each takes me to those pleasant places,
those hazy days of sugared lust and treasured kisses, but in the
end only one will remain. I cannot breathe without one or survive
without the other. A part of me will surely die.
Just outside the borders of the truth, death
waits for me with its open arms, its hasty grin as I lumber toward
it like a bird with oiled wings.
I cannot forget the past, I cannot endure
the future—either way, it all ends in tragedy.
God is right. The truth is a double-edged
sword, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. He
never said it wouldn’t hurt like hell.
And it does.
The October sky lies, blank and wide, soft as felt
with the stars freckling the expanse in a spectacular show of
bravado. The evergreens spear into the night like charred daggers,
like spirits rooted in bondage, unable to flee to the promise of
some unknowable paradise.
“Welcome to the Slaughter of Plenty.” A
voice cuts through the dark clearing.
It’s eerie like this, standing in some
demonic circle with at least a dozen Counts from the local chapter.
I recognize most of them from Ephemeral—the boarding school in
which we reside. Wesley and I stand in number, shoulder to shoulder
with our long velvet robes. The cool satin that lines the inside
inspires my teeth to chatter. I’ve never been to the Slaughter of
Plenty before, some mandatory ritual to start the New Moon ceremony
off with a bang—or more accurately with a murder.
“Ready the sacrifice.”
I know that voice. It’s Blaine, Wesley’s
supposed brother. In the real world, where the Countenance kidnap
their victims from, Wesley has no brother. He has a different
mother and a different last name all together, but for the sake of
sanity and reason, I play along and declare a throaty
when the mock prayer comes to a conclusion.
“This isn’t going to be a big deal.” Wesley
blows the words hot over my ear, sending a shiver up my spine. “I
I glance at him. Wesley is sublime in this
shadowed world. The reserve light gravitates to his features and
illuminates him as some mythological creature, a god who slays
women by the sheer heft of his beauty. His dark hair feathers back
like wings. His sea green eyes deny the darkness its right to bleed
them of all color and they burst to life under these dismal
circumstances. He’s so gorgeous it takes effort, on my part, not to
bow at his feet. Everything in me yearns to be near him, with him.
Wesley Parker is the keeper of my heart whether he knows it or not.
He doesn’t remember a thing about our old life in Kansas, where we
stole kisses on lazy summer afternoons. He believes he’s Wesley
, some pompous aristocrat in the making with a
pocketful of money to prove it. He thinks I fell from a tree and
fabricated Cider Plains, and all those sweet memories of who we
were—that they were byproducts of my injury. But I know the truth.
I didn’t fall from a tree house and end up at the hospital. I dove
through a windshield and ended up at Ephemeral. Wesley and I were
both dead and now we’re alive as the children of Nephilim descent,
belonging to a crooked faction known as the Countenance.
A guttural laugh garners my attention from
across the expansive flat rock. It’s Fletcher, my true brother both
in the real world and this quasi-fictional one in which we’re
wealthy, healthy, and supposedly wise. His blond hair glints like a
threat as he brays in the night like a donkey.
Fletch comes around and hands us each a
long, silver blade. The metal handle sears the palm of my hand like
a branding iron as if it had sat in the freezer, the oven.
“You don’t need to kill,” Wes whispers. His
dimples tremble as if he were sorry I had to experience any of this
to begin with. “We just need to puncture them for a sprinkling of
their blood. Each of us makes a private decision on whether or not
I try to process his words as a pale blue
fog drifts into the vicinity. It puffs around the stone, around our
bodies as if it were a presence that came to join us—a form of
wickedness in disguise. The Countenance themselves profess to be
angels, minus the harp, and wings, and overall notion of
Cooper blinks through my mind—my angel in
the truest sense. He’s the blond god of Nordic descent who is more
than ready and willing to take on this rogue Viking—this Philistine
that Wes has morphed into.
But Wesley is my only hope of freeing my
mother and my little sister, Lacey, from the demons who stowed them
away to have their blood drained—their Celestra blood—as a means to
enrich their own demonic breed. Of course, I’m not lucky enough to
be a Celestra. I’m a full-blooded Count—a purported enemy of the
aforementioned faction, and how I came to be a spawn of pure evil
is still a mystery to me. It’s one of the many things I’d like an
answer to, but for now, rescuing my family is top priority. The
questions I have, the answers I seek, will all have to wait.