The Hidden (The Hidden Trilogy)

BOOK: The Hidden (The Hidden Trilogy)
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Table of Contents

PART I

Prologue

PART II

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
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine
Chapter Forty
Chapter Forty-One
Chapter Forty-Two
Chapter Forty-Three
Chapter Forty-Four
Chapter Forty-Five
Chapter Forty-Six
Chapter Forty-Seven
Chapter Forty-Eight
Chapter Forty-Nine
Chapter Fifty
Chapter Fifty-One
Chapter Fifty-Two
Chapter Fifty-Three
Chapter Fifty-Four
Chapter Fifty-Five
Chapter Fifty-Six
Chapter Fifty-Seven
Chapter Fifty-Eight
Chapter Fifty-Nine
Chapter Sixty
Chapter Sixty-One
Chapter Sixty-Two
Chapter Sixty-Three
Chapter Sixty-Four

PART III

Chapter Sixty-Five
Chapter Sixty-Six
Chapter Sixty-Seven
Chapter Sixty-Eight
Chapter Sixty-Nine
Chapter Seventy
Chapter Seventy-One
Chapter Seventy-Two
Chapter Seventy-Three
Chapter Seventy-Four
Chapter Seventy-Five
Chapter Seventy-Six

Copyright © 2012 by K.R. Martin

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages for review purposes. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. 

For my husband and daughter, who not only sacrificed time away from me while I wrote this book, but also had to deal with a messy house and
lots
of dirty clothes. I love you both more than life itself, and your support is appreciated more than you’ll ever know. 

PART I

Prologue

June 1
st
, Thirteen Years Ago

Potomac Ridge, VA

 

THOMAS

Fasterfasterfaster. C’mon,
move
,
goddamn it!

My feet barely skimmed the forest floor. Low-hanging branches swayed as I darted past, and an occasional patch of sunlight filtered through the leaves to warm my shoulders. I pumped my legs harder, feeling even less dirt under my toes.

My stupid and pointless goal for the day? Run without leaving footprints. 

So far, I’d had zero luck. 

I’d just cleared a small creek when a faint but familiar scent hit me, making my head whip back in its direction. My foot caught something and I stumbled, careening face-first into a puddle. I pushed myself up and wiped the mud from my eyes as I listened for the owner of the scent. 

I heard nothing but babbling water and animal chatter. 

Jogging at a human pace, I circled back to where I’d caught the scent. A hint of it still lingered in the air, faint but unmistakable–the scent of a female from my species. 

What the hell is she doing all the way out here?

As far as I knew, I was the only one of my kind around for miles. We preferred big cities with large populations of our race. I was the exception to that rule, instead living by myself in the forest, away from others of my kind. And away from humans, as well.

I followed the scent, the forest thinning out the closer I got to human habitation. Cars zoomed by on a nearby highway and children squealed as they played outside. 

I inhaled again, and frowned. The scent was still faint, like I was no closer now than I’d been half a mile into the woods. 

The scent was probably old, I realized. Whomever left it was surely long gone by now.

I turned to head back when a twig snapped some fifty feet behind me. I paused, hearing…feet shuffling? It was too light for a human male, yet it also sounded too light for a female. I turned once more and silently padded towards the noise, freezing when a small figure came into view.

It was a child–a little girl–and she appeared to be looking for something, if her tiny furrowed brows and wandering eyes were any indication. I moved behind the closest tree, positioning myself so I could watch her. 

“Marmalade!” the little girl called out.

Marmalade?
Why was she looking for preserve all the way out–

Something licked my calf, and I froze. Peering over my shoulder, I saw a small black dog, not unlike Toto. It tilted its head to the side and barked an annoying little yip.


Shh
,” I hissed, shooing it away with my leg. The little bastard would get me caught if he didn’t quit.

The brush next to me rustled. “Marmalade?”

Another high-pitched bark and the girl broke through the thickets. Both of us stilled, our eyes growing wide at the sight of one another.

Please don’t scream, please don’t scream…

I smiled awkwardly. “Hi.”

She blinked, her surprised hazel eyes raking over me–from my filthy feet caked with dirt, to my frayed cut-off jean shorts, worn through from decades of use.

I ran a hand over my long blond hair, trying to smooth down the tangles formed while running. Living the life of a hermit didn’t afford me much human interaction, so I saw no point in trying to act or dress like one during my day-to-day activities. I must’ve looked like a heathen right now.

Toto trotted between us, looking back and forth from me to the girl. Its tongue lolled out the side of its mouth as it panted.

The girl’s large, round eyes narrowed into little slits. “You look funny,” she said.

I tried not to fidget under the weight of her stare. “Yes, I know.”

Dark little brows knit together as she eyed my feet. “Where are your shoes?” she asked, looking back up at me.

I glanced at my filthy feet, mumbling, “I, uh, left them at home.”

She cocked her head. “What about your shirt?”

I tried to wipe off some of the dirt on my chest and stomach, but failed miserably. “Also at home.”

She frowned. “Didn’t your mama ever teach you how to get dressed?”

“Of course.” My cheeks burned as I stuffed my hands into my pockets.

She squinted at me, like she was still trying to decide if I was okay or not. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been under such scrutiny. I shifted my weight, growing uncomfortable. I felt stupid for thinking it, but this tiny thing in denim overalls and pink sneakers was kind of intimidating.

“What’s your name?” she finally asked.

“Thomas. What’s yours?”

“Emily.”

I extended my hand. “It’s very nice to meet you, Emily.”

Her small fingers wrapped around mine. “C’mon, let’s go play.” She tugged on me, leading me towards the clearing of her backyard.

My eyes widened as I gently tried to pull back, but she had a tight grip on me. “Um, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

She halted, looking up at me with her doe eyes. “Why not? Don’t you wanna be my friend?”

A sudden and fierce guilt washed over me. I hated the idea of making this cute little thing sad, even if by accident. “No, no, that’s not it. It’s just that…well…your parents probably wouldn’t want us playing together.”

She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Is it ’cause you’re all dirty?”

“Well, it probably doesn’t help…”

She tugged on my hand again. “We’ll go in my clubhouse. Grandma won’t see you there. C’mon, Marmalade.”

The dog took off, and the girl led me to the tree line of her backyard, where I paused. “I don’t know about this. If your grandma sees me…”

“She won’t.” Her voice strained as she impatiently tried to tug me along. “She’s watchin’ her stories,” she added with a grunt.

I couldn’t help but smile at all the effort she put into this. She was all but shoving me into her backyard. It was like an ant trying to move a car.

After scanning the backyard and all the house’s windows for watchful eyes, I allowed her to drag me across the lawn to a small white plastic house with a pink roof, pink shutters, and a pink front door, which was so small that I had to crawl through it.

The inside wasn’t much bigger, but then again, these toy houses were designed for kids, not for someone six-foot-five. There was a small yellow table in the middle. Four blue plastic chairs sat around it, all occupied by stuffed animals. Each animal had a teacup and saucer sitting in front of it, and in the middle of the table sat the teapot.

Emily grabbed the stuffed animal closest to us. “This is Buttons. He’s my bestest friend.”

I bowed–as regally as I could in the cramped space–to the tattered brown teddy bear with two black buttons for eyes. “It’s an honor to make your acquaintance, Buttons.”

Emily thought this was hysterical. She threw her head back and laughed. I smiled, finding I quite liked the sound of it. It’d been too long since I was around joy of any kind.

Her fit of giggles eventually faded and she handed me Buttons. “You’re silly,” she said to me, picking up a pink backpack from behind the table. She put the teapot in it and said, “Stay here, I’ll be right back, ’kay?”

I leaned back off my knees and sat on the grass floor of the toy house, holding Buttons against me. “Okay.”

She disappeared through the tiny door and I listened to her run up the porch steps of her house and slide open the back door.

“What’cha doin’, sweetheart?” a woman asked within the house.

“Playing with Buttons outside,” Emily said.

“Are you two having fun?”

“Yeah, we’re playing in my clubhouse.”

“Just make sure you stay in the backyard, okay?”

“I will.”

Muffled sounds came from the house, most of which I couldn’t decipher. One of the few I could was a television. Maybe that’s what Emily had been referring to when she said her grandmother was “watching her stories.”

BOOK: The Hidden (The Hidden Trilogy)
8.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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