Authors: Addison Moore
Celestra Series Book 4
by Addison Moore
Other books by Addison Moore;
Ethereal (Celestra Series Book 1)
Tremble (Celestra Series Book 2)
Burn (Celestra Series Book 3)
Copyright © 2011 by Addison Moore
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 author herself.
Table of Contents
Chapter One — The Gift
Chapter Two — Chaos
Chapter Three — The Promise
Chapter Four — Don’t You Forget About Me
Chapter Five—Far Away From Here
Chapter Six — Stranger Danger
Chapter Seven — Love Me Tender
Chapter Eight — There’s No Place Like Home
Chapter Nine — Dinner with the Devil
Chapter Ten — If I Fall
Chapter Eleven — A Walk in the Night
Chapter Twelve — Terminal
Chapter Thirteen — The Air up There
Chapter Fourteen — My Boyfriend’s Back
Chapter Fifteen — The Surprise
Chapter Sixteen — Off To Work I Go
Chapter Seventeen — The Deal
Chapter Eighteen — Give Thanks
Chapter Nineteen — All For Nothing
Chapter Twenty — Light Drive
Chapter Twenty-One — Out of This World
Chapter Twenty-Two — Give a Little
Chapter Twenty-Three — Count Me In
Chapter Twenty-Four — Debt Threats
Chapter Twenty-Five — Odd but True
Chapter Twenty-Six — The Budding Artist
Chapter Twenty-Seven — The Kill Zone
Chapter Twenty-Eight — The Dark Rose
Chapter Twenty-Nine — A Stitch in Time
Chapter Thirty — Meet the Parents
Chapter Thirty-One — Roll Over
Chapter Thirty-Two — What in the Hell
Chapter Thirty-Three — Here
Chapter Thirty-Four — Now
Chapter Thirty-Five — Tonight
Chapter Thirty-Six — We Belong
Chapter Thirty-Seven — Dirty Little Secret
Chapter Thirty-Eight — Rome if You Want To
Chapter Thirty-Nine — Gone Wrong
Chapter Forty — Ink
Chapter Forty-One — The Art of War
Chapter Forty-Two — Wild Abandon
Chapter Forty-Three — The Muse
Chapter Forty-Four—I’ve Got a Feeling
Chapter Forty-Five — Fierce
Chapter Forty-Six — Run
Chapter Forty-Seven — Lost
Chapter Forty-Eight — Somebody’s Watching Me
Chapter Forty-Nine — Baby You Can Drive My Car
Chapter Fifty — Falling in Line
Chapter Fifty-One — Anything Goes
Chapter Fifty-Two — Shatter
Chapter Fifty-Three — The Chase
Chapter Fifty-Four — Mia and Me
Chapter Fifty-Five — Lips Like These
Chapter Fifty-Six — Me and My White Dress
Chapter Fifty-Seven — Killing Time
Chapter Fifty-Eight — Count on Me
Perfect knowledge is hallowed ground. It caresses you, cradles you with the barbed wire of truth. It grazes and tears at your flesh as though it ever really mattered—as if there were anything you could have done to stop it from penetrating you so completely.
Revenge in the hands of your enemies is a loaded gun. You can beg them for mercy, wave the white flag of surrender, but the only true elixir for the vitriol they bestow is a measure of hatred dispensed of your own. Never lie down for the enemy. Never hand them the knife with which to slaughter you.
The truth is a labyrinth. Secrets are truths as sharp as razors ready to spread like a virus—ready to saw your existence in half.
My truths came to light. They took shape in the form of my enemies until all of the color bled out from my world. It lacked the beauty and majesty of a black and white portrait. The landscape had glazed over in rusted tones of sepia—rancid—tarnished—with urine colored sky.
My world glittered from the fragmented glass it had become.
This is what I know.
These are my truths.
“Happy birthday, Skyla.”
Her eyes gleam a peculiar shade of black, her pupils unnaturally dilated—her flesh, a rosy shade of pink just under the cheeks, so healthy, so alive. The white sheath she wears is perfectly tailored to her hourglass figure. It glows against her deep warm tan. You would think she had been away on a tropical vacation. She looks straight out of a fashion magazine rather than a casket.
The room falls silent. A hypnotic hush filters through the facility save for an errant bowling ball rolling towards its destiny far in the distance.
The sound of glass shattering splinters the silence. An ear-piercing scream that sounds vaguely like Brielle comes from over my shoulder. I hear the sound of retching then a splash of vomit splattering between Chloe and me. Brielle doubles over, exposing the slightly digested contents of her stomach.
“So glad you could make it,” I say to Chloe. I don’t believe the words as they fly out of my mouth, sarcastic as they might be.
Chloe moves forward. Brushes past me without another glance, and walks right up to Logan. She hikes up on the balls of her feet and whispers directly into his ear. It looks sensual as though she were sweeping her mouth over him with all of the passion and zest you would have after a lengthy absence.
Logan cuts me a quick glance. Lets me know by his inability to be discrete that I’m the subject matter of Chloe’s tender words. I wonder if her hot breath is enough to ignite any feelings he might have once felt for her.
Chloe steps back and examines the crowd.
Helpless, lost faces—paper white—filled with awe, fear, and relief, as she henpecks for one in particular.
“What is going on?” My mother hisses as she sops up the mess on the floor with a roll of paper towels. She whisks Brielle out for fresh air before I have a chance to answer, not that I was going to—not that I have plans of ever speaking to that woman again. Let the Counts fend for themselves.
“Gage.” Chloe sings his name like a desperate song that’s been over rehearsed. You can practically taste the obsession in the air—the sour bite of rejection clings to your palate.
She lunges at him with a tight embrace, sways on her heels as she rocks her body into his.
The crowd exhales, and a spontaneous round of applause breaks out in a disorganized fashion. It’s as if a long drawn out movie had ended and the princess has reunited with her prince. A low rumble of murmurs circles the room, and the vibrancy of life begins to fill the bowling alley once again.
Michelle peels Chloe off Gage and shrieks into her as she gives a long vibrating hug. The bitch squad moves in, and I can’t watch anymore.
“I’m so sorry,” Logan fills the small of my back with his hand. “I had no idea my uncle planned this.”
I pull away reflexively as though his arm had somehow morphed into a snake.
Logan with his perfect features, his bright amber eyes lit like two eternal flames. I reach up and touch his face, run my fingers loose over his eyelids, cheeks, and lips.
“I don’t know you,” I whisper. In one swift move I pluck off the ring he gave me moments before and thrust it back at him. While his palm is still open, I fish out the key to his father’s car and press that in as well. I don’t want birthday gifts from him, now, or ever again.
I race over to Gage, and we collide into one another.
“I’m sorry, Skyla,” he shudders ever so slightly, “I never thought there was a reason to tell my dad to abandon the project once you stopped giving blood.” His eyes close briefly, appalled at his own misgiving.
I look back at Logan who lingers on the periphery of the crowd that has amassed around Chloe.
Voices shout at random. “Where were you? Are you OK?” Questions fly like arrows from faulty bows.
She pats her hands, and half the crowd sits as though she were about to deliver a modern version of the Sermon on the Mount—the parables of the dead and the restless.
“I…” She looks over at me as both my arms circle around Gage.
I want him to get me out of here, teleport me anyplace else on the planet.
Her dark glossy hair is pulled back into a ponytail, broad even features, and perfect full lips can take the breath away from any living creature. I don’t remember Chloe ever looking so beautiful. For sure I don’t want Gage to see her like this, see her at all.
She clears her throat before returning her attention to those faithfully bowed before her. “I ran away,” she lowers her head in a dramatic fashion, “I don’t know whose body they found. It must have been a mistake,” she gives a contrived sigh, “I guess after the funeral my mom had it cremated, so we’ll never know.”
“Why the hell would you run away?” Emily hiccups through a steady stream of tears.
“I had a nasty fight with my parents,” she shrugs apologetically, “I’m embarrassed to say it, but after I found out that Carly and Brody had a baby, I…” A sharp collective gasp fills the room. Half of the faces turn to a stunned Carly Foster gripping at her throat.
I hadn’t even noticed Carly was here, but there she is, hunched over like she’s just been socked in the gut.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought everyone knew.” Chloe zips the pendant from Logan’s grandmother across her neck in one quick motion.
Carly darts across the room and hits the exit so fast she’s nothing but a blur.
“I didn’t know it was a secret,” Chloe calls out after her. She turns to face Gage and me. “It’s such a burden to know great things. It can drive you insane.” She takes a bold step forward. “Make you forgo love.” She caresses his cheek with the back of her hand. Chloe sweeps into me with a cold, sterile gaze. “It could make you stab a friend right in the back.”
In a matter of moments the bowling alley explodes in tears and drama—cries of joy and relief as throngs of students from West and a few from East descend upon Chloe.
“Skyla,” Logan’s forehead is creased with worry. “I know this is turning out to be a strange night—but what’s going on?” He holds up the ring and key still nestled in his palm.
Marshall pushes between Gage and me, completely ignoring the fact Logan is speaking and glides into an easy grin. “Nice show. The two of you really know how to throw a party. Any other little ghouls ready to pop out of the woodwork?”
Logan steps into me a little too close, and the tip of his nose touches mine.
“What’s going on? Can we talk?” His hot breath sears across my face in agitation.
I step aside, so I can see Marshall again.
“Mr. Dudley, if it’s alright with you I’d like to spend the night at your house.” It’s almost a joke to ask.
Marshall straightens, biting down on his lower lip at the prospect.
“What?” Logan and Gage hiss in unison.
“I’ll have the guest room ready Ms. Messenger.” You, however, will not be using it. He gives a suggestive smile. I would have resurrected the Northern Hemisphere had I known it would drive you into my arms—bedroom—same difference.
He’s practically purring.
“Listen,” Gage takes me by the hand and walks me a safe distance away from Marshall, “I know you’re freaked about Chloe, but I can’t let you spend the night at that whack-jobs house.” His cobalt eyes bolt around my face perplexed and wild.
“You can’t let me?” My ears thump in rhythm with my adrenaline. “Just like you wouldn’t let me in on who was in that book of Counts?” My entire family—my mother, my sister—Logan. “Maybe it’s because you were too busy trying to protect someone close to you.” I free my hand from his. “Too bad it wasn’t me.”
“Crap,” he moans tipping his head back to look at Logan.
“Yes. Marshall showed me everything.” I turn to leave and run right smack into Chloe.
“Sorry if I’ve ruined your party.” She holds me by the shoulders pretending to straighten me. “I really do hope we can get to know each other.” The bitch squad flanks her on either side—and surprise, surprise, Brielle holds up the rear.
“Well, I really don’t want to know you.” I spit the words out with venom.
“Skyla!” My mother runs up gripping her chest in horror. “This is the girl everyone thought was dead.” She leans into Chloe apologetically. “I’m so sorry. My daughter obviously has you confused with someone else. Please forgive her. It’s her birthday. She probably thinks you’re a party crasher. Skyla has never been good at sharing the limelight.”
“Oh, I’m certain I don’t want to know you,” I dig my finger into Chloe’s chest. “Or …” Before I can point the finger at my mother and say you, Gage wraps his arm around my shoulder and calls out an excuse me as he whisks us towards the kitchen.
He slows as we approach Logan. “Put that fire out.” He cocks his head towards my mother and Chloe still gaping in my direction.
“How can you talk to him?” I try and wrangle out of Gage’s death grip as we spill into the newly remodeled kitchen. Gage takes up both my hands. His eyes soften, and I have to hold back the urge to run my fingers through his jet-black hair, lose myself in the splendor of his dark symmetry, and forget about the nightmare that’s unfolding all around us.
“I’m mad about you.” The words project out of me broken, on the verge of tears. “I mean at,” I correct.
He gives a slow long blink. “Swear to God, I was going to tell you everything, tomorrow. Your mom called and wanted to throw this party.”
“You let me sleep under the same roof as those people!”
“And nothing happened,” he pleads for me to understand.
“Maybe you would have fought to protect me a little more if I was family.” Funny, because with Gage I sort of thought I was.
“You are family.” He pulls me in. “You’re already a part of me.” He breathes the words before pressing in a kiss.
Gage has a way of softening the blows the world has to offer by way of his lips.
“Here you two are.” My mother calls from the entry. “Skyla don’t let any of this commotion get you down. It’s like a huge celebration out here now. Camera crews are on their way and everything! Gage, tell her to get over herself and join the fun.” She motions for us to come back out before disappearing.