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Authors: Corrine Jackson

Ignited

BOOK: Ignited
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B
OOKS
BY
C
ORRINE
J
ACKSON

If I Lie

 

 

 

The Sense Thieves series

 

Touched

 

Pushed

 

Ignited

Ignited

CORRINE JACKSON

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

Table of Contents

B
OOKS
BY
C
ORRINE
J
ACKSON
Title Page
Dedication
C
HAPTER
O
NE
C
HAPTER
T
WO
C
HAPTER
T
HREE
C
HAPTER
F
OUR
C
HAPTER
F
IVE
C
HAPTER
S
IX
C
HAPTER
S
EVEN
C
HAPTER
E
IGHT
C
HAPTER
N
INE
C
HAPTER
T
EN
C
HAPTER
E
LEVEN
C
HAPTER
T
WELVE
C
HAPTER
T
HIRTEEN
C
HAPTER
F
OURTEEN
C
HAPTER
F
IFTEEN
C
HAPTER
S
IXTEEN
C
HAPTER
S
EVENTEEN
C
HAPTER
E
IGHTEEN
C
HAPTER
N
INETEEN
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-ONE
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-TWO
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-THREE
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-FOUR
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-FIVE
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-SIX
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-SEVEN
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-EIGHT
C
HAPTER
T
WENTY-NINE
C
HAPTER
T
HIRTY
C
HAPTER
T
HIRTY-ONE
C
HAPTER
T
HIRTY-TWO
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
SOUNDTRACKS
TOUCHED
Copyright Page

To Stephen—

 

You’ve always inspired me and celebrated what I could bring to the page. Thanks for being part of my life’s story.

Love,
MacDaniels

C
HAPTER
O
NE

I
hid in the alley, painted in shadows and praying that I hadn’t stepped in whatever caused the putrid scent burning my nose. Across the street, a lone pay phone—the first one I’d seen in the last hundred miles—stood under the glaring spotlight of a street lamp.
Two more minutes,
I promised myself.
Two more minutes of cowering, and then run for the phone.

Warm fingers pressed into my back, seeking comfort and offering it at the same time. My half sister, Lucy, waited behind me, and I could feel how she shook. These last four months we’d lived like hunted animals, and I knew what horrible thoughts might be running through her mind. At seventeen, she might only be a year younger than me, but our lives had been very different. I’d grown up used to violence, but this was all new to her.

My fingers trembled around the knife I gripped, and I used a cloth to wipe my warm blood from the blade. I lifted my thin T-shirt to tuck the weapon into the back of my jeans waistband and pressed a hand to my stomach when the torn muscles protested. The part of the plan where I had to be injured sucked.

“Well? See anything?” Lucy whispered into my ear, peering around me with wide brown eyes. Her heart-shaped face glowed white against her curly black hair, and she looked small and scared.

I shook my head and tucked a loose blond strand back under my ski cap. My body had frozen some time ago in the frigid January air, and I shoved my fingers into my bulky coat’s pockets to thaw them. Then I dug for courage like it was buried treasure. One way or the other, this call would decide what path we would take next. We just had to make it out of this alive first. “It’s time. Wait here. If anything happens or Asher signals, you run. You hear me?”

My husky voice sounded harsher than normal as I tried to swallow my emotions.

“Got it, Buffy.”

She stumbled over the joke, her voice flat, but it didn’t matter. That my sister could attempt to joke about me being as strong as Buffy nearly killed me. I could be brave for her. I lifted my chin, imagining my spine made of iron rebar, and looked down at her one last time. Then I stepped out of the shadows and onto the sidewalk where anyone could see me. Nothing happened. No Healers or Protectors jumped out at me.

Maybe we really had given them the slip two days ago. Florida had been too close. A Protector had gotten his hands on Lucy. If Asher hadn’t managed to take the guy down, I might have lost my sister. We’d been lucky that he was alone. We couldn’t seem to lose our enemies for long, but we couldn’t fight back, either, when they overpowered and outnumbered us. They held all the cards as long as they had my father. If he was still alive.

I looked both ways down the deserted street. Maple, Alabama, could be called many things, but never a party town. Home to a whopping 863 people, the town had one stoplight, a gas station, a diner, and a few small businesses lining the main street where we stood. Everything had shut down around six, as people went home to their families. As far as I could tell, Lucy and I were the only ones out on the street. Well, the two of us, and Asher, who hid somewhere nearby.

Earlier today, our trio had crashed for a few hours at a tiny motel sixty miles down the highway. Then we had packed our few belongings into the car, knowing that we might have to run in a hurry after I made this call. There was a very good possibility that our enemies were hidden, waiting for me to come out into the open. I shivered again, and then rolled my shoulders back.

Now or never, Remy.

I marched into the street, walking straight though it sent spikes of pain to my stomach. My steps echoed, and the sound encouraged me. That meant I would hear others approaching if they tried to sneak up on me. I cast another glance around when I reached the phone. Something crashed nearby, and I jerked in reaction, wincing at the pain. A cat screeched, and I shook off the bout of nerves. Then I picked up the receiver, dropped some coins in the slot, and dialed the number I knew by heart.

I counted three rings before a male voice answered. “Hello.”

Memories crashed and tumbled into each other at the sound of my grandfather’s deep voice. I once thought we could be family, but François Marche was incapable of loving anyone.

“Hello?” he repeated.

I swallowed, suddenly mute.

“Remy.” He almost purred my name, the confident bastard. “I wondered how long it would take you to call. You lasted longer than I thought you would.”

Four months. It had been four months since I’d seen him, heard his voice, watched him threaten my family. My nails formed half-moon indentations in my palms when my hands tightened into fists.
Please let my father be alive.

“Franc,” I choked out.

“How are you, sweetheart?”

The fake concern reminded me of how naïve I’d been, taken in by this huge hulk of a man towering over six and a half feet tall with crazy white hair and a booming laugh. My grandfather called me “sweetheart” in his old voice, the charming voice, as if he hadn’t destroyed my life.

I buried my rage, keeping my tone light. “I’m a little tired from ditching your guys so often, but I can’t complain. How about you? Sacrificed any Healers to your friends recently?”

If the Healer community he led knew how he’d betrayed them to the Protectors, they might rise up against him. Franc rationalized that sacrificing a few of his Healers to the Protectors would save the larger community.

Franc sighed. “I do what I have to. It doesn’t have to be like this, Remy. You could stop it all.”

Take their place, he meant. Unlike full-blooded Healers, I wouldn’t die from the things the Protectors would do to me. I could be their rechargeable battery. Bile swam up the back of my throat as I pictured Asher the night we rescued him from my grandfather. Tortured, broken, hopeless. That would be my life if I caved to my grandfather’s demands.

“Never,” I whispered with revulsion.

“Think about it. Nobody else has to die.”

Disgust and fury sharpened my words. “I have thought about it. I’ve had nightmares about it since the day you suggested it. You remember that day, right? Because I do. By the way, how’s your stomach?”

Franc had tried to force me to kill my father, but I’d escaped using the greatest weapon I had—transferring my injuries to those who hurt me. The last time I’d seen my grandfather and his Protector allies, they’d been bleeding out from a stomach wound I’d inflicted on myself.

“Healed,” he bit out when I wondered if I’d gone too far bringing up the past. “You’re more powerful than I gave you credit for. You caused me a lot of pain.”

Smug satisfaction curved my mouth.

“You’re lucky I’m not a man who believes in petty revenge. I don’t think your father would survive what I’d do to him.”

I gripped the cold metal ledge beneath the phone to stay upright. I had to try twice before I pushed the words past the golf ball wedged in my throat. “He’s . . . He’s alive?”

Four months ago he’d kidnapped Ben, my father. My Protector blood came from Ben and, despite using them against me, Franc hated Protectors. I’d almost lost hope that my father could be alive after all this time. Hope swelled inside me in one giant, yawning ache.
Don’t hope yet, Remy. He lies.

“Franc?” My desperation grew. “Please,” I begged.

“He’s alive,” he said softly.

Thank God.
The relief threatened to burst out of me, and I covered my mouth to contain it. Moisture seeped through my T-shirt, and I bent at the waist to ease my burning stomach. Soon I would grow faint from blood loss.
Just a little longer.

Franc’s deep voice coaxed and cajoled. “You could be with him tomorrow. Come home, Remy. Come home, and I’ll let him go.”

If I believed him, we could end the misery of these last months. My father could return home to Blackwell Falls. My sister could go back to her life and school and her boyfriend, Tim. They could start over in our small town. I wanted to give that to them.

As if he sensed my wavering, my grandfather rushed on. “Your mother wouldn’t want this life for you. She would want you to help us.”

Big mistake on Franc’s part, thinking a mention of my mother would influence me. Anna had let my stepfather beat the shit out of me for years.

“Why did you take my father?” I asked.

“You already know why.”

He wanted to control me and the powers I’d inherited with my mixed Healer-Protector blood. And he wanted to experiment on me. Healer powers descended through the women of our bloodline, but Franc wanted to change that—he wanted to create male Healers. Something in the air shifted, and I glanced around, the hair prickling on my arms. “I have to go.”

I started to hang up and he shouted, “Remy, wait!” I paused, and he added, “He’s alive because I believe you’ll come to your senses. But I won’t wait forever. Think about that.”

BOOK: Ignited
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