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Authors: Sophie Davis

Talented

BOOK: Talented
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Talented

 

 

Sophie Davis

 

Talented

Sophie Davis

Published by Sophie Davis

Copyright © 2011 by Sophie Davis

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.  This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.  If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy.  Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

 

Praise for Talented . . .

 

Book Nut says
. .
.
action-packed H.I.V.E-like adventure, about a group of teenagers who aren't afraid to embrace their fears and fight for what they believe.

The whole idea was so vividly put to paper, that I could immediately see it in my mind - all thoroughly explained so as to immerse the reader in this world so like our own and yet, so different. Talia's emotions are yours; her pain your pain, her loss yours. She never scrambles her words, and funnily enough - unlike most heroines - is the first to admit to be either too clingy, or too afraid. She sees her faults and it is that which makes her all the more real.

 

Beneath the Moon and the Stars says
. . . This book seriously blew my mind. The concept is like nothing I've ever read. I read it in one sitting and now I'm dying for more.

Talia is an incredible heroine. Her powers are amazing and her strength is unbelievable. I never change my mind about which boy I like. This is the first time it has happened. When I started it I loved Donavon. Then by the end I hated Donavon and loved Erik. Erik and Talia are meant to be.
Their adorable together.  How cute they were is probably why I loved it so much. Donavon is just a jerk.

I really wonder how the author came up with this. It's so unique. The storyline never slows down.
It's very action packed. Overall I really really really liked this. I’m dying for the sequel. I highly recommend this. 5/5 stars.

 

Tumbling Books says
. . . Talented was so well written and vivid that I just couldn't help but imagine this being a movie!

Right from the beginning the book drew you in and I didn't feel at all lost. Skipping to middle of the book... I LOVED
LOVED LOVED Erik! He just seemed like such a great match for Talia, thought at the beginning I really liked Donovan and Talia as a couple. Now, I'm not going to say too much, because I don't want to spoil the book (I almost wrote "movie" there!) Not only was the romance wonderfully written and not over the top and sickening, but every other part of the book was just as good!

As I previously mentioned, the action was super vivid and it allowed me to relate to Talia and put myself in her place. I can't believe it ended like that! WHY SOPHIE?!?! LOL
This is definitely a must read! The second book in the series is coming out in SPRING 2012, and I can't wait!!!!!

 

 

 

To my father, Henry, I love you, Dad.

 

Chapter One

 

An earsplitting wail punctured the silent night, shattering the illusions of my dream world and bringing me back to reality. My eyes popped open. I became instantly alert as the sound reverberated through the dark cabin again. I bolted upright in my bed. Terror seized me. I knew that noise. In school, I had done monthly drills in response to
that
noise. Emphasis on drills. I’d never heard the sirens for real. I’d hoped that I never would either. Even now, as the warning bells blared through the speakers in the clearing outside of my cabin, I prayed that it was just a test.

I could only see the parts of my room illuminated by the ribbons of artificial lights streaming through the slits of the wooden blinds covering the windows. In the short time I’d been
awake, my swollen eyes had adjusted to the darkness. Hastily, I threw the blanket back as my trained eyes darted around the cabin. The other two beds were empty. Crap. Henri and Erik, my cabin mates, must have heard the invasion sirens and run out immediately. How had I slept through that? Why didn’t they wake me up? Assholes.

I didn’t waste time putting on real clothes, or even shoes. I flung the cabin door open with my mind before I was fully out of my bed. I ra
n into the night: pajamas, bare feet and all. I sprinted straight into the center of the Hunters’ Village. I stopped abruptly; for all of the training drills I’d taken part in at school, there had yet to be a single drill since my arrival at Elite Headquarters two weeks ago. I had no idea where I was supposed to go, or what I was supposed to do.
Breathe, Talia,
I reminded myself.
Just breathe.

The night air was unseasonably warm for late September, but a chill ran through my body, al
l the way to my bones as panic gripped and twisted my insides. The sirens sounded again. We were under attack. Someone was attacking Elite Headquarters.
Calm down, you need to breathe,
I ordered myself. I forcibly inhaled the warm air through my nose and then blew it out, unsteadily, through clenched teeth.

Slowl
y, I turned, pivoting in a full three-hundred-and-sixty-degree-circle. Chaos was the only way to describe the scene surrounding me. Pledges streamed from the cabins around the Hunters’ Village. Panicked screams pierced the silence between siren blasts. I dug my nails, sharply, into my palm to prevent my own fear-driven yelps from escaping.
Clear your mind. Focus. Concentrate your energy,
I coached myself. Trying to obey my own commands, I closed my eyes and forced my mind to go blank.

My hyper
sensitive ears immediately registered a faint whizzing sound from above. I tilted my head back as I opened my eyes. The night sky looked like it was falling, one star at a time. It took seve
ral seconds for my mind to process what my eyes were seeing; stars weren’t falling out of the night sky, but bombs were. Swallowing over the lump in my throat, I forced the unpleasantness clawing its way to my mouth back down.
The people who panic in a crisis are the people who die
, I reminded myself.

The bombs exploded, expelling bright neon liquid when they made contact with the ground. One landed several feet in front of where I stood. Fear got the better of me
, and I screamed as the bomb burst and several drops of the glowing liquid hit my bare skin. I wiped at my calves, frantically, smearing the fluid with my palms. I rubbed my hands on my thin t-shirt, and it instantly began to glow. I waited for pain that never came. I stared, wide-eyed, as bomb after bomb detonated on the ground, leaving neon puddles in their wake. Pledges ran with hands over their heads in an attempt to protect their faces.

I needed to do something, anything, besides standing here waiting for another bomb to hit me. I concentrated all of my considerable mental energy on the falling explosives, and focused on slowing their descent. After several seconds, the bombs froze in mid-air. I let out a breath that I wasn’t aware I had been holding, as I strained with the effo
rt of holding them in place.

Upon opening my mind, I felt a flood of mixed emotions. The panic radiating from the other Pledges’ brains mirrored my own. Strangely, I also felt enjoyment - laughter even -
mingled with the fear and anxiety. Confusion engulfed my other emotions.

What was going on?
Donavon
, I thought. I needed to find Donavon, he would know what was going on. I pulled some of my mental focus away from holding the bombs and sought out Donavon’s mind. It took me only seconds to find him, but once I did, I was even more perplexed.

Donavon was laughing. I could feel his glee as he watched the scene I was currently starring in from a different vantage point. I honed in on his exact location; and he was close. Concentrating harder, I slipped deeper in to his head. Finally, I saw Hunter’s Village through his eyes. I knew exactly where he was standing - on a small hi
ll that overlooked the Village.


Donavon?
” I mentally called out to him.


Welcome to the Hunters, Tal
,” he laughed.


WHAT?!?
” my mental voice screamed at him. Was he joking?? This was an initiation ritual?? Irritation quickly replaced my fear and confusion.

I narrowed my eyes in his general direction; I had a feeling that he could see me from his perch, even though I couldn’t see him. I was so annoyed at being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night that I let my mental hold on the “bombs” slip, causing one that had been hovering not far over my head to hit me square in the face. I opened my mouth to scream and the neon liquid nearly choked me. Accidentally swallowing a huge gulp, I began to gag. I fell to my knees, retching, and willed myself to throw up the unknown substance.

Donavon’s laughter filled my head again,
“It’s just colored water, Tal.”

He clearly found the situation to be hysterical and himself clever. Anger washed over me. The last two weeks had been the most physically demanding of my life, and now I was being roused from bed in the middle of the night to have faux bombs launched at me???
So
not funny.

I concentrated on what I now knew to be water balloons – I picked that detail out of Donavon’s mind – and refocused my energy to again freeze them in mid-fall. I honed in on Donavon’s mind and forced the balloons back through the air to their origin, to Donavon and his group of cohorts. Not waiting for his reaction, I turned on my heel and walked back into my cabin, slamming the door, and crawled back into bed, not caring that I still looked radioactive.

I had the covers pulled over my head when I heard the door open, accompanied by loud laughter.

“Talia,” Erik called. “Come out and play.”

“Leave me alone, you ass,” I snapped. Three distinct sets of laughter chorused in response. I felt the covers being yanked back. I clung to the soft fabric of my white comforter, but I was no match for the three boys. I kicked and punched as Donavon leaned over me. His dark blonde hair was soaked with the neon liquid, making me feel a little better.

“Don’t be a spoil sport, Tal,” he laughed. “This is your formal welcome into Hunters Pledgi
ng.”

He wanted to see a spoil sport? I would show him a spoil sport. I kicked him in the stomach, hard, and he grunted. I flashed him a wicked smile. Erik pinned my legs down, giving Donavon the opportunity to scoop me up off my bed. I continued to squirm as he carried me across the cabin and back out into the night. He had over a foot and close to a hundred pounds on me, so my efforts were in vain.

“Come on Talia, it’s almost over,” Erik whispered as he walked next to us. I craned my neck to face him, and gave him a nasty look. He just laughed; I was hardly a threat at the moment.

Donavon carried me over to where a group of other Pledges had already begun to congregate. He placed me on my bare feet in the wet grass, but kept his hands firmly on my upper arms. Mentally I sent him a string of angry expletives. I didn’t have to see his face to know he was smiling; he was enjoying my discomfort way too much.

“For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Henri Reich,” an extremely tall, lean boy said, quieting all of the side conversations taking place among those gathered. “This is a little something we at the Hunters like to do as a welcome to the new Pledges. I know that you guys have all been working really hard these past two weeks. Making it this far means you’ve passed the initial phase of training, and are well on your way to graduating and becoming full-fledged Hunters. Congratulations.”

When Henri stopped talking, Donavon released my arms. He stepped back so quickly I stumbled, nearly falling over. Donavon was not the only one who had retreated, all of the older Hunters had moved away from us, leaving me and the other Pledges standing in the center of a new circle. More balloons rained down on the small group of us before I could register what was happening. These balloons were filled with a thick gooey liquid in varying colors - paint. I used my hands to shield my h
ead, but it didn’t really help.

When the color assault finally ended, I removed my hands and looked around at the older Hunters. Some were doubled over, they were laughing so hard. Even the most serious of the group were shaking with silent laughter. I scowled, hoping that this was the only welcoming
gesture they’d planned for us.

Donavon appeared behind and wrapped his arms around my waist. “Are you mad at me?” he whispered in to my ear. I reached my paint-covered hands up to his face and smeared squiggles down his cheeks. Then I ran my fingers through his damp, blonde hair, le
aving most of the paint behind.

“Not at all,” I smiled sweetly
.

“Enough, enough.
I can’t take all the cuteness,” Erik joked, coming over to us. “Congrats Tal, you made it through your first round of training and now you are officially a member of the most awesome Hunting team ever: mine,” he said, smiling broadly. Erik had smears of turquoise paint, the same color as his eyes, across each of his high cheekbones; the color complemented his tan skin nicely. He leaned down to hug me, and I noticed flecks of purple and red paint decorating his thick black hair. I gave him a half-hearted hug in return.

“Talia, I’m glad to have you as part of our team,” Henri said as he wrapped one of his
long arms around my shoulders.

“Thank you,” I said sincerely. “I’m really glad to be here.” I was. This was what I’d been working towards since I’d started attending the McDonough School for the Talented, seven years ago.

At the end of their junior year, students selected the top three divisions of the Agency in which they wanted to work after graduation. Then a Placement Committee – consisting of each Division head, the Director of the Agency and McDonough’s headmistress – reviewed each student’s test scores, their Talent and their Talent ranking, and assigned them to a division. Students spent their senior year, or Pledge year as the Agency termed it, working and training with their designated department. Not every student scored high enough to be rewarded with one of his top three choices - those students were randomly doled out to the less desirable divisions. The Hunters had been my top choice; my only choice. I knew I wanted -
needed -
to be a Hunter from my very first day.

For most it’s an easy decision; they go with other Talents of their kind.  Others, like me, want to do something different, or their particular ability does not have a niche.  It’s not unheard of for Talents besides Morphers, Light Manipulators or Telekinetics to become Hunters, but I am one of the few who actually did.  Most non-morphing Hunters aren’t assigned to a team, but serve as “floaters” instead.  Floaters are Hunters that join individual Hunting teams on a short-term basis, usually for just one Hunting mission, to lend their individual specialty when it’s needed.

“The food and drinks are on the way out, so please take advantage.  As a special treat, curfew for the night has been lifted.  And there will no training until after lunchtime tomorrow, so enjoy yourselves,” Henri called to the entire group.

Upon arriving at Elite Headquarters to start our Pledge year, each Pledge was assigned to a Hunting team with a vacancy.  Hunting team has three members, but when one member leaves – for whatever reason – the Agency replaces him, or her, with a Pledge.  Part of what made the Hunters such a competitive division was the fact that they only took as many Pledges as there were vacant Hunting Positions.  This year only fifteen of us were accepted, much less than most years.

I’d been assigned to Henri Reich and Erik Kelley’s Hunting team.  Henri was the oldest, and the leader of our trio.  He stood almost two feet taller than me and was all lean muscle.  His eyes were warm, light brown, and he wore just a little longer than most Hunters would.  Henri had been kind and patient in my short time working with him.

Erik was his polar opposite.  He was only a couple of years younger than Henri, but was much more immature. It had amazed me to learn that they were such good friends, regularly hanging out in their free time.  Erik was shorter – somewhere right in middle of Henri’s height and mine – and more muscular than Henri, but by no means bulky.  His thick, dark hair naturally fell to one side, and was long enough that he used a bandana to keep it out of his face when we practiced.  He had extraordinary turquoise eyes; peculiar eye colors were a byproduct of the same nuclear spill that had caused our Talents. My own unnatural purplish-blue eyes were a result of the same catastrophe.

BOOK: Talented
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