The immortals dark flame pdf

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Praise for The Immortals Series by Alyson Noel "Alyson Noel surpassed all my expectations. Not only is Blue Moon an ama. No eBook available. Dark Flame: The Immortals 4. Alyson Noel lives in Orange County, California, which forms the backdrop to her.. Read "Dark . [PDF] Dark Flame (Immortals) by Alyson Noël. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online Dark Flame (Immortals).

No reason at all. Even though it was a long time ago, I'm sure you never forget a moment like that. Especially since we were starting to get a glimpse of his past. And of course, Ever has woven a spell that makes her hot for Roman now the bad guy. I didn't actually keep track of the times that she goes over to Roman's, tries to seduce him, and then gets caught by Haven who, presumably, spends all her time hanging out in Roman's hamper, so she can consistently pop up whenever it would be the most inconvenient for our protagonist. Evermore was a really fast, engaging read with some great characters. Causing my heart to crash violently, my body to shake--and no matter how hard I struggle against it--it's no use.

There was just too much stuff I didn't like in this book. And I can't say I can recommend it. View all 36 comments. This was a YA paranormal romance which picked up where the previous book left off.

Ever was very stubborn in this book and a bit misguided. The storyline in this was about Ever continuing to try to get the antidote to the antidote from Roman so that she could have sex with Damen, and we also got a bit of a love triangle forming between Ever Damen and Jude. Roman continued to be cocky and to gene This was a YA paranormal romance which picked up where the previous book left off.

The ending to this was okay, and we did get a surprise death, this series has gone downhill a bit since the second book though.

Mar 17, Merary rated it it was ok Shelves: Ever, once again, does stupid things. First, she accidentally bounds herself with his enemy, Roman. What it means by that is that, she can't stop thinking about fucking his brains off. And then, she made Haven an immortal. Damn you, Ever Bloom. Yeah, seriously? And from beginning to end Ever keeps doing impulsive stupidities. From cutting Jude to prove if he was a rogue which he wasn't , to keeping secrets from Damen so he doesn't lose his patience with her.

Yeah, like you were ever perfect, Ever. And Haven is a psychopath, self-absorbed, bitchy parasite. Now that she is immortal, she's all like: Look at me! I'm immortal! Everyone bow down to me! I'm powerful and can kick ass! Ever, you're just jealous because you're not as powerful as me!

You want to steal my super-hunk boyfriend, Ever! Leave me alone! I didn't need saving! I don't know why, but I was invisible back then, but now I want everyone to love me! You killed my boyfriend! World War 3! I can totally picture her doing that while talking.

Roman and Ever almost had SEX! It would have been really interesting if they did. I felt a sexual tension between and wanted them to fuck already. Too bad they didn't. But he is still sexy. When we discover his hidden past, I began to have a sympathy for him.

I wanted to comfort him. I also liked when Ever was being all femme fatale on him so he could give her the antidote so Damen and her could finally have sex. And just when she almost had it, Jude appears out of nowhere and kills Roman. And Haven wants revenge and wants to kill Ever even though it wasn't her fault.

And Damen is pissing me off. He is WAY too understanding. When Ever tells the truth about everything, he is just like: I can't wait to finish this crap-tastic series. View 2 comments. I finished this book in a few hours eager to see if Ever gets the antidote or not.. I reached the end of the book and I have to say I liked it but I'm dissapointed. The book seemed to drag on forever, I just wanted her to hurry up and get the antidote already. The ending doesn't really sit with me very well, Roman dying or 'going to the Shadowland' is messed up, in my opinion.

He was a cool charact I finished this book in a few hours eager to see if Ever gets the antidote or not.. He was a cool character and made things interesting. Damen is always the calm boring one, it was nice to have a bad guy. To me Noel's ending seems tacky and chucked together at the last minute.

The whole Jude to the rescue bit really annoyed me. I don't see why Roman needed to be killed off. Especially since we were starting to get a glimpse of his past. Seeing that he wasn't always a bad guy, that certain events made him the way he is.. I was really hoping Ever would be able to help him become good, that he would trust her and see that he doesn't need to be horrible to everyone.

Ever never seems to learn though, she is lucky that Damen is so understanding. She needs to learn to just be honest for once, then maybe she wouldn't make so many stupid mistakes. I didn't like how Noel makes Ever spend about half the book trying to break the bond between her and Roman only to then go and just about fix it with one ritual and that Ever's negative thoughts aren't helping.

Haven throughout the book I just wanted to smack, she is the most annoying character ever. She should have died instead of Roman, she is wayy over the top and 'me me me me me'. She only ever cares about herself.. Overall it wasn't a terrible book but I hope things get better in the next book Night Star. If we have to read another entire book about Ever and Damen to being able to 'Touch" each other I think I will claw my face off There is only so far you can drag something like this out and throughout 2 books is nearing too much.

There are bits I liked though, I liked seeing a darker side of Ever.. That was cool and the tension between her and Roman was awesome, I'm glad her and Haven are fighting. Haven is whiny.. Ever needs to ditch her. I loved learning about Roman's past it made everything so much clearer. May 27, Samantha Souza rated it did not like it Shelves: Where do I start??? How about EVER!

What in the hell is her deal. How are the mistakes that she's been making even realistic? Anyone with half of a brain would make better choices than her? She deliberately ignores Damen's advice time and time again, and he again and again shows his forgiveness. What the hell kind of relationship are they in? You would think that Damen would get tired of her screwing up his life after three freakin books.

I think that Alyson needs to get her characters straight before she even thinks about starting another book. I don't like the way Ever went from this sweet little outcast to a worry wart, goody-two-shoes immortal with her nose in the air. What a spoiled self righteous bitch. Who in the hell died and made her queen of the Immortals? I mean really? Who gets their life saved by someone and then turns around and says, "Oh thanks for saving my life and all but I didn't need your help.

And by the way I'm dating your mortal enemy"? What kind of best friend DOES that? Could she be anymore self involved??? And I hope she does something interesting with Honor and Stacia because if not then those characters are seriously redundant. Along with Jude who annoys the hell out of me too.

And last but certainly not least, Damen. This dude seriously needs a backbone. View all 3 comments. Jun 23, Heather rated it did not like it. I got to wonder if anyone who rated this book 4 or 5 stars actually read it? This book is so bad that I am done with this series. When I started this series with the first book, I had high hopes.

By the time I finished the third book, I felt like hitting my head against the wall over Ever's stupid annoying mistakes. I had hoped to find some resolution in this book, but we get nowhere.

Haven is an immature brat throughout this book and is grating. Ever couldn't do anything right to save her life. She is no closer to breaking the curse for Damon. Zero plot advancement there. I despise Roman and hated the storyline here with Ever accidentally making the mistake of bonding herself to him will she EVER learn? The pacing throughout this book was off and the story was jumpy. I think there are two more books to go in this series and I really don't care enough anymore to keep reading for an ending.

If you want a stupid, hopeless heroine who couldn't do anything right and doesn't connect with the hero over multiple books, then these are the books for you. For me, I am done. The author should have stuck with a trilogy instead of ruining the story for the sake of more books and more money. View all 5 comments. May 27, John Egbert rated it it was ok Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.

To view it, click here. Two annoying, arrogant horny teenagers are the guardians of an elixir that allows you to possess immortality and various psychic powers. After attempting Dark Flame, I feel more worn out than anything. I made it about a third of the way through before giving up. I don't know what prompted me to read this.

Maybe it was just sheer stupidity. Whatever the case, I apologize to myself for wasting thirty m So. Whatever the case, I apologize to myself for wasting thirty minutes of my life that I can never, ever get back.

The only thing saving this book from being one star is that I recently read American Psycho, and everything seems Not That Bad after that. I do have to admit that despite some readers although I don't have much backstory of her behavior from the previous books, so I don't know disliking of Haven that I found some of her issues with Ever and Damon to be pretty reasonable. But on the other hand, maybe that's just because Ever and Damon annoy me more than she does.

Anyway, it's certainly not a big surprise to anyone that's talked to me for five seconds, but I just found it really hard to care about Ever or anything she wanted. Okay, yeah, I'm willing to say that never being able to have sex with the person you love is a sad thing. But for cryin' out loud, it's Ever's only fucking goal. Pun surely not intended. At the beginning of the book she's willing to send someone she considers one of her best friends into the lap of Roman, who she thinks of as the second coming of Hitler, to get the magical antidote.

That's messed up. Maybe it's because I don't care about Ever, maybe it's because I don't care about Damon, or maybe it's because I don't care about Ever and Damon. I'm not entirely sure.

It's bad enough that she accused him of being part of an evil cult without any evidence other than a snake tattoo a tattoo But then she, apparently, threw him across his yard and broke his arm. And then she tracks him down at the store he works to go and slash open his other arm to prove that he's an Immortal. Hel-lo, you idiot, you could have just easily pricked his finger. In the second place, it's usually common practice to give a little warning before you just lunge at someone with a knife.

In the third place, what the fuck. I'm a little upset that Jude didn't get as far away from her as possible after that, because accusing you of being part of a cult of immortals and slicing open your arm is pretty much the telltale sign of a dangerous, delusional psycho.

I can only say that I'm very glad I'm not one of Ever Bloom's 'friends'. Which brings me back to Haven. Why did they try to keep things from her, when they knew it would only drive her closer to Roman?

Why not let her trust YOU, instead of forcing her to seek the aid of your enemy? Oh, that's right, because Ever and Damon are just two annoying, arrogant horny teenagers! Telekinesis, telepathy, immortality, flawlessly beautiful and what not but that will never change what's going on in their skulls: Which brings me back to my opening statement: I have three problems with this: Ever and Damon deciding who gets to become immortal.

Ever and Damon deciding who deserves however much of becoming immortal, sans who gets however much powers and whatnot. Ever and Damon having anything to do with anything at all concerning immortals and special powers. I, personally, do not think those two of all the earth's creatures should have that kind of power! There are some teenagers who can handle that responsibility. There are some teenagers who I would gladly hand over the job of guarding the world's most dangerous smoothie.

There are some teenagers who I would easily trust my fate as a human being with. Ever and Damon are not those two people. Now why is it that I can see Ever handing over a bottle of red liquid to a potential evil dictator bent on murdering millions of people and becoming the ultimate king of the world?

Ehem, um I doubt that I will be attempting to read any other Immortal books in the future. And by that I mean I will never so much as think about reading anything related to Ever or her affairs again. I just don't have the time or patience. View all 6 comments. Feb 14, Jessica rated it did not like it Shelves: I think this book can be best summed up with one simple expression: Mar 08, Alyssa rated it it was ok Shelves: Ok, I finished it.

And the entire time, I kept fumbling to see how many pages were left. Alright, it wasn't too, too bad. Just not I liked the entire thing with Roman and Ever, attracted to each other, but I was really hoping for Damen and Ever to get back together, and was horribly, horribly pissed with the ending.

I mean, honestly, Noel? We get the point, already although we don't exactl Ok, I finished it. We get the point, already although we don't exactly know which point you're trying to make. I hate Jude - she could've done a better job creating another romantic interest, right, this being the only series she's currently working on!?

Ever, Ever, Ever. How stupid are you now? It just makes me sad that you'd allow yourself to fail when you get close.

Shoot me. Jul 20, Erika rated it liked it. I gave it three stars because I have made it this far through the series, and I do wish it would end well. I don't see how it can, though.

Mainly because I see nothing likable about Damon. Sure he is pretty, but so what? He is like an old man hitting on a year-old here, and I think he just wants to add her to his conquests.

If he had nailed her when they first met, he would be so over her like he got over his wife, Drina. I kind of get her anger at having to watch her husband entrap a 16 yea I gave it three stars because I have made it this far through the series, and I do wish it would end well. I kind of get her anger at having to watch her husband entrap a 16 year old over and over again for hundreds of years. So Ever continues in this book to make horrible choices that lead to disaster, as usual.

Now she has made her friend Haven immortal, and Haven is just a jerk all the way around in my book. I mean she dumped her nice boyfriend because he offered her a kitten, and she just piles on the awfulness in this book. And of course, Ever has woven a spell that makes her hot for Roman now the bad guy. Poor Ever, surrounded by hot dudes. I am starting to be so grateful that Ever is not allowed to run off with Damon and hump him like the female dog in heat that she seems to be Is that really her only goal in her immortal life is to hump Damon?

He is a self-centered flirt who has manipulated her for thousands of years now. His whole goal has always been to keep stealing her away from Jude, who is an honestly decent, kind person who happens to be smoking hot.

Jude is the only truly sexy and desirable man in this series of books. Roman and Damon might be pretty-boys, but Jude is beyond dreamy in my book. And he is 19, not a wrinkly That worked in Twilight, but not here. I hate to see her use Jude like a doormat, when he is the only true friend she has ever had, other than Miles.

Everyone else just wants to possess her like a new car, manipulate her, or in Havens case, compete against her. Haven mourning her stupid cat by having a funeral and cremating the thing was just absurd, by the way. Jude even loves her enough to help her have sex with Damon, since that seems to be the only thing she wants in life. If she doesn't want Jude, I will take him.

It is an obvious fact that if Jude were immortal, he would be a miilion times hotter than Damon. I hate to bother with the next final book, because I figure she will dump on Jude like yesterdays trash. And she will run off into a 'happy ever after' that is just her having a sex roll-in-the-hay with Damon.

I mean really. This is a teen romance? Now the Vampire Academy series, with Dimitri and Rose Jul 12, Lindsey rated it it was ok. Alyson, Alyson You have taken a wonderful creation 'Evermore' , which is truly captivating I was so excited to read 'Blue Moon' but once i had - i wished i hadnt. Nevertheless, i stood tall and hoped you would redeem the story and characters in 'Shadowland' But Gosh was i wrong Compared to shadowland, Blue Moon was Okay.

I was extremly dissapointed. However, Im one to finish what I'v started and went ahead and red Dark Flame, recluctently You have turne Alyson, Alyson You have turned Ever into a charcter i truly loath for being so dumb witted. The story -GAH - i just cant even explain how much i didnt like this. The whole 'They cant exchange DNA' thing is totally dead. You dragged it out through 3 books. And the way it looks, it will probably continue throughout the rest.

You'r books would be better without her. Jun 03, Jackie rated it it was ok. Im only reading this because I want to see if Ever gets any sense. Looking back on the rest of the series. Until Noel lost all her writing skills and went on with the rest of series. Immortals has just become an obligation to me now. I'm not gonna say how Haven became a total bitch and Ever became more stupid and how Damen became more oblivious with each turning page and don't even get me started on Jude.

If you read the rest Im only reading this because I want to see if Ever gets any sense. If you read the rest of the reviews of this book you'll get the idea. Now to salvage this review with a little good news. It was a little better than the last book.

Noel must of got off her butt and actually thought this story through. Two gold stars for her. Lets hope she actually redeems everyone in the last two books. View all 4 comments. Aug 20, Dakota rated it did not like it. Let's play a little drinking game. Take a drink every time one of these events occurs. Ever misuses magic.. Ever doesn't tell Damen she fucked up. Ever trying to dig her way out of the pile of shit she's created, and ending up being buried in more shit.

Ever whining that her Aunt Sabine doesn't understand her. Ever whining because the universe has been cock blocking her and Damen for years, give or take. Ever is still drawn to Jude, because all YA books need a completely unnecessary love triangle. Ever tries to jump Roman's bones because thanks to one of her many fuck ups, she now has a pulsing yearning for him, also known as the beast.

Haven is a whiny bitch you could probably get drunk just taking a shot every time that happens Damen and Ever are all sappy crappy. Damen forgives Ever at the blink of an eye for whatever mess she's gotten them into. Nice and drunk? I've come to the conclusion that maybe these books would be more bearable if I was drunk. For those wondering why I continue reading this series when I don't like it, there are two reasons. One, I enjoy inflicting pain on myself, and I'm morbidly curious.

Second, I don't feel comfortable critiquing these books unless I've read them. Besides, one of the first arguments I hear when someone trashes a book is, "Did you even read it? Same plot is going on. Ever and Damen are trying to find a cure so that Damen can finally cure his centuries long case of blue balls.

I don't care about Ever trying to get the antidote. For one thing, Damen's not in danger. You guys just can't have sex. Two, I don't care if Damen and Ever consummate their relationship.

I don't care about them as a couple. Why should I? They aren't anything special, and their relationship isn't interesting. They can still be together, just not physically. Maybe they should just accept that they won't be able to have sex, but appreciate what they do have. Not a chance. I just can't believe the big conflict is a gigantic will they or won't they?

Just masturbate, sheesh! The second issue is that Haven is now an Immortal, and unlike Ever, wants to use her powers wreak havoc on all those snobs who ignored her existence. I had to read about her whine because boo fucking hoo, nobody paid attention to her, so poor witttle Haven had to start dressing dramatically to be noticed. How tragic, having to live a life in high school where people don't pay attention to you.

Oh wait, that's what happens in most cases. Haven, do you honestly think high school is some place were everyone treats the queen bee like a rock star? Newsflash, high school students do not focus their attention on one particular person. When I went to high school I had my group of friends, and I didn't pay attention to the others. And I'm pretty sure no one paid attention to me either.

So Haven, you aren't the only person in high school to be ignored. It's not that big of a deal. But to Haven it is. I don't understand what this obsession with popularity is in these books. It's high school. You go there for four years and lose contact with your classmates. It's not that special.

But Haven has to be an over dramatic drama queen because she's an attention whore, so that's a problem. The other problem is that Haven has a thing for Roman, and thanks to Ever's misuse of magic, Ever now wants to jump his bones.

This causes friction between Ever and Haven, seeing as Haven as always been jealous of Ever and resents her for being prettier and some other bullshit. Now Ever has to deal with being attracted to Roman, and hide this from Damen. Heaven forbid Damen see the full extent of how you've fucked up. The Jude angle is brought up again. Ever attacks Jude because she thinks he's an Immortal, but it turns out she was mistaken.

Jude ends up in the hospital. If I were Jude, I'd have slapped a restraining order on Ever. Thank goodness for nice boys who will let the heroine abuse them in the vain hopes that maybe they can be together.

Turns out Jude and Ever were lovers in their former lives, but every time Damen came around Ever was gone. Now there's that to deal with. Ever continues to try and tame the beast, but she still loses control once or twice by trying to seduce Roman by pretending to be the only person he's ever loved, Drina. After some sappy bullshit about loving and not focusing on the negative, Ever sees Roman's past.

Turns out he had a shit life, and Drina was the only person who looked out for him. Because of that, Ever feels she can no loner hate him, and goes to him to call a truce.

I was about ready to puke when Ever was talking about how he had never known love and how she wasn't going to fight him. Roman looks like he'll give Ever the antidote, but then Jude comes in and kills Roman because Ever's been babbling on about Roman being evil and having a group of rogues.

He thought Ever was in danger. Ever is not pleased, because the antidote is destroyed.

She and Damen have been foiled yet again, although I find it amusing that the person who foiled their attempt to finally have sex was the other end of the love triangle. Unfortunately, Haven comes in, and Roman's dead. Then she vows revenge against Ever, seeing as how Roman was the only person who ever loved her. I don't care. Now that the mess is over, what happens?

Damen forgives Ever in the blink of an eye. This is ridiculous. Ever could destroy the world and Damen would be like, "You didn't mean to, you had good intentions, the world's better off destroyed, you're perfect, flawless, etc, etc.

Is anyone Ever going to tell Ever off? She's completely incompetent. She's incapable of doing anything right, and then she refuses to accept it. Instead she hides her mistakes because she can't stand for people to see her as less than perfect. I feel no sympathy for her. In addition to being an utter dumbass, she's also boring. She's basically invincible, so there's not really a threat to her. She can manifest anything she wants, learn whatever she wants, and doesn't care about her only family.

She has no goals aside from living a sparkly eternity with Damen. She's got nothing to strive for, so why should I care for her? The only thing that she seems to care about is that she and Damen can be together, and like I said before, I don't think that's a conflict. They can't have sex.

They can still ride their stupid white horse on dates and frolic in the meadow full of tulips, while I throw up. Overall, this installment was just okay for me, once again. While I found it a tiny bit of an improvement from Shadowland I'll warn you that there will be a few general spoilers in my review as it's hard to discuss without them in this case.

The saving grace for this series is that Ever finally has an epiphany with the help of Ava, Damen and Jude in the last third of the book. From that point on Ev Overall, this installment was just okay for me, once again. Ever's previously immature and impulsive decisions were beyond frustrating. Eyes widening in excitement as it arcs straight toward the center of my wounded hand, the cord around his neck lightening, whitening, until it's as clean and pure as the day it began.

But just as I'm ready to banish him for good, free myself of this unholy bind, that strange foreign pulse, that hideous intruder, snakes through my insides with such force, such determination, overtaking me so quickly, I can't stop it. The monster inside me now fully awakened, rising, stretching, with its insistent, throbbing hunger demanding to be met. Causing my heart to crash violently, my body to shake--and no matter how hard I struggle against it--it's no use.

I'm a hostage to its longing--captive to its desires--I'm of no consequence whatsoever. My only purpose is to meet all its needs--to see that it's done. Watching helplessly as the cycle repeats once again. My blood surging forth, soaking the cord at Roman's neck 'til it sags, red and heavy, dripping a thick trail of me down his chest.

And no matter what I do--no matter how hard I try-there's no stopping it. No stopping the undeniable lure of his gaze. No stopping my limbs from yielding toward his. No stopping this spell that binds me to him. His body like a magnet that seeks only me, closing the small space between us in less than a second. And now, with our knees pressed tightly together, our foreheads flush--I'm defenseless--powerless--unable to curb this unbearable yearning for him.

He's all I can see. All that I need. My entire world now whittled down to the space between his gaze and mine.

Dark Flame (Immortals)

His moist, inviting lips just a razor's width away, as this bold, insistent intruder, this strange, foreign pulse, urges me forward, willing us to mesh, unite, join as one. My lips push toward his, moving closer, ever closer, when from somewhere down deep, somewhere I can't quite reach, the memory of Damen, his scent, his image, flickers inside. No more than a brief flash of light in the midst of all this dark-but still enough to remind me of who I am, what I am--my real reason for being here.

Just enough to allow me to break free of this horrible dreamscape and shout, "No! Moving so quickly and violently the web collapses around me as the candles extinguish and Roman dissolves from my sight.

The only trace of what just occurred is my crashing heart, bloodstained robe, and the words still reverberating in my throat. Dinner's just about ready, you might want to make your way down! Having no idea what to do now, where to go from here. Though one thing is clear--I can't tell Romy and Rayne--they already witnessed my last flubbed attempt, and I'll never live this one down. Besides, they're too close to Damen, and they'll never forgive me.

Taking great care to ensure everything appears clean and pristine on the outside, because inside, there's no doubt that things just took a major turn for the worse. Careful to temper the pace, going neither too fast nor too slow, reluctant to attract any undue attention from anyone who might see.

It was bad enough having to explain it to Sabine. Especially after having just gulped down three-quarters of a barbecued chicken breast, a lump of potato salad, an entire corn on the cob, and a glass and a half of soda--none of which I was the slightest bit interested in, and which, in the end, only seemed to raise a whole new suspicion.

Her voice all raised and squeaky, gone completely high alert when she said, "Now? But it'll be dark soon--and you just ate! Having ruled out anorexia and just plain old bulimia to explain my odd behavior and even odder eating habits--she's now onto something new, leaving no doubt that a trip to our local bookstore's self-help aisles will be squeezed into her weekend's agenda.

And I wish I could explain it to her, sit her right down and say, "Relax. It's not at all what you think. I'm immortal. The juice is all I need to get by. But right now, I've got a little spell-casting problem to fix so--don't wait up! It can't happen. Damen was clear about keeping our immortality a secret.

And after seeing what's happened when it's gotten into the wrong hands, I have to say I agree with him one hundred percent. But keeping it a secret has been one of my greatest challenges, and that's where the jogging comes in. I am now, officially or at least where Sabine and Munoz are concerned , a person who slips into a T-shirt, sneakers, and shorts and goes for an evening run.

A nice healthy excuse for getting out of the house and away from Munoz, whom I can't help but like as a person, even though I never wanted to get to know him as a person. A nice healthy excuse for getting away from an aunt who's so kind and considerate and helpful toward me that I can't help but feel like the world's worst niece for all of the trouble I've caused.

A nice healthy excuse to get away from two wonderful, kindhearted people so I can indulge in a much darker, not at all healthy, obsession.

One that's got a hold on me. One I'm determined to beat. I make a swift left onto the next street, noticing how the cars, the pavement, the sidewalks, the windows are all dappled with that burnished gold that the tail end of magic hour brings--the result of the first and last hour of sunlight when everything appears softer, warmer, bathed in the sun's reddish haze.

My muscles pumping, feet moving faster, picking up speed, even though I know better, even though I try to slow down--it's too dangerous, too risky, someone might see--and yet I keep going. Unable to stop it. No longer the one who controls me. Aiming for my destination like an arrow on a compass, my entire being is focused on one single point.

Cars, houses, people--everything around me is reduced to a single, orangey blur as I close street after street. My heart crashing hard against my chest--but not from the run or the exertion, because the truth is, I've barely broken a sweat.

This live wire inside me is all about the proximity. The simple fact that I'm near-Getting closer-Almost there. Like a siren song propelling me toward uncertain ruin, and I can't seem to get there quickly enough. The second I see it, I stop. My gaze narrows as everything around me ceases to exist. Staring at Roman's door as I will the beast to retreat. Renewing my resolve to overcome this strange, foreign pulse now beating in me, wanting only to slip inside, casually, easily, and confront him once and for all so we can put an end to all this.

Forcing myself to take long, deep breaths as I summon the strength that I'll need. Just about to take that very first step when I hear my name called from a voice I'd hoped never to hear again. He saunters toward me, head cocked to the side, as cool and casual as a summer's breeze. His left arm heavily bandaged and wrapped in a navy blue sling, stopping just shy of me, purposely positioning himself out of my reach, when he says, "What are you doing?

To make any excuse that I can to explain my heated, gaping, practically salivating presence, right outside Roman's store. Knowing it's hardly a coincidence to find him here too. After all, they're good friends, members of the same immortal rogue tribe. Too bad I do. He looks at me, shaking his head and rubbing his chin, voice steady, calm, almost convincing, when he says, "Ever, are you okay?

You're not looking so good--" I shake my head and roll my eyes. Faking concern for me, faking an injury, you're prepared to go all the way with this, aren't you? His deceptively cute and friendly face all scrunched and serious when he says, "Trust me, I'm not faking. Wish I was. Remember when you picked me up like a Frisbee and tossed me across your yard?

A crap load of contusions, a fractured radius, and some seriously messed-up phalanges- -or at least that's what the doctor said.

I've no time for this charade. I need to get to Roman, show him that he can't control me-means nothing to me--show him who's boss around here. Sure that he's somehow partly responsible for what's happening to me, and needing to convince him to give me the antidote and put an end to this game.

I know better. And the fact is, you know I know better. So let's just cut to the chase, okay? Rogues don't get hurt. Not for long anyway. They have instantaneous healing abilities, but then you already knew that, didn't you? And the truth is, he really does look perplexed, I'll give him that. Are you serious? Evil members of Roman's tribe? Ring any bells? And all I can think is: Good thing he's not an actor, he's got really crummy range.

The Ouroboros? On your back? You know I saw it. You probably wanted me to see it-or why else would you convince me to get into the Jacuzzi with--" I shake my head. Everything you apparently wanted me to know. So feel free to drop the game anytime now, I'm all clued in.

Like that's gonna help him. Which century would it have been? Eighteenth, nineteenth? C'mon, you can tell me. Even though it was a long time ago, I'm sure you never forget a moment like that. Not that it ever really did. Seriously, Ever, in case you can't hear it, this is coming off as pretty insane. And the truth is, despite all of that, despite all of this"-he tugs on his sling--"I'd really like to help you--but--well--you seem pretty much beyond all of that with the rogues and the turning and"--he shakes his head--"but let me just ask you this--if this Roman dude's as bad as you say, then why are you lurking outside his store looking all charged and heated like a dog waiting for its owner?

But no more. Not since I learned he's one of them. Now we're officially through. He shrugs and rubs his sling protectively.

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If you'll remember, we close early on Saturdays. It's all very plausible. Almost believable. But not quite. But I don't follow his hand. My gaze stays on his. I can't afford to drop my guard. Not even for a second. He may have fooled me before, but now I know better.

Now I know what he is. He takes a step closer, slowly, cautiously, careful to maintain a safe distance still just outside of my reach. Go someplace quiet, where we can sit down and talk? You look like you could use a break. What do you say?

He's persistent, I'll give him that. Its jewel-encrusted handle an exact replica of the one I used just a few hours before, figuring I'll need all the luck and protection the stones can provide, especially if this goes the way that I think. Oh, and I should probably warn ya--I can't be responsible for what happens once I prove that you're lying.

But don't worry, as you well know, this'll only hurt for a second--" He sees me moving, lunging straight for him, and even though he tries his best to dance out of my way, I'm too quick, and I'm on him before he even realizes it. Seizing his good arm and slicing my athame right through his skin, knowing it's just a matter of seconds before the blood stops gushing and the wound fuses together again. Just a matter of time until-"Oh God! His eyes darting between me and the gash on his arm, both of us watching as the blood seeps through his clothes and pools onto the street in a growing puddle of red.

Why isn't it healing? Why's it still bleeding? Oh, crap! You need to walk away--now! There's an emergency room just down the street--and I'll--" I close my eyes, manifesting a plush towel to hold against the wound until we can get some professional help.

Noticing how pale and unsteady he's gone, knowing we've no time to waste. Ignoring his protests, I slide my arm around him and lead him toward the car I just manifested. That strange insistent pulse quieted for now, but still forcing me to glance over my shoulder just in time to see Roman watching from behind the window, his eyes shining, face creased with laughter, as he flips the sign over from OPEN to CLOSED. Careful to address the nurse instead of Jude, since one quick glance is all it takes to see that both of his arms are now heavily bandaged, his aura's turned red with rage, and if the angry, cruel look in his narrowed eyes is any indication, he clearly wants nothing more to do with me.

The nurse stops, her gaze traversing the sixty-eight inches between my head and my toes. Scrutinizing me so closely I can't help but cringe--can't help but wonder just what exactly Jude might've told her. And if he takes his antibiotics, it'll stay that way.

He'll be in a fair amount of pain, even with the meds I gave him, but if he takes it easy, gets plenty of rest, it should be healed in a matter of weeks. Just in time to see two uniformed members of Laguna Beach's finest heading right toward me, their eyes darting between Jude and me, and stopping when the nurse nods affirmatively.

I freeze, swallowing past the lump in my throat as I pull my shoulders in, shrinking under the glare of Jude's dark, hostile gaze. Knowing I deserve every last bit of his anger, deserve to be handcuffed and hauled away--but still--I didn't think he'd actually do it. I didn't think it would come to this. I glance between the nurse, Jude, and the cops, knowing this is it.

This is what it's come to. And despite all the trouble I'm in, all I can think is: Who will I pick for my one phone call? I mean, it's not like I can ask Sabine to wave her lawyer's wand and get me out of this one--I'll never live it down, and it's not like I can explain it to Damen either. Clearly this is one dilemma I have to deal with alone. And I'm just about to clear my throat, just about to say something, anything, when Jude jumps in and says, "I already told her"--he nods toward the nurse--"it was a home repair gone wrong.

Didn't know my limits. Guess I'll definitely have to hire a handyman now. And even though I want to smile right back, nod in agreement, and play along, I'm so shocked by his words, at his defending me, it's all I can do just to stand there and gape. The cops sigh, obviously unhappy about being called out for nothing, but making one last attempt when they look at Jude and say, "You sure about that? You sure there isn't more to it? Kind of crazy to take on a home repair when you're down to one hand.

And the moment they're gone the nurse clutches her slim well-aerobicized hips, scowls at me, and says, "I gave him something for the pain. He'll probably fall right to sleep, so I expect you to leave him alone and let him do just that.

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Her mouth quirks to the side, obviously reluctant to leave Jude in my care or to hand the prescription over, but she has little choice. I follow Jude outside, over to my manifested Miata, an exact replica of the one I usually drive. Feeling awkward, nervous, barely able to look him in the eye. And though his aura appears to be softening, there's still a good bit of red clinging to its edges, a fact that pretty much speaks for itself.

I'll take it from there. And even though it's dark out, there's no missing the hollows under his eyes, the sheen of sweat on his brow, two unmistakable signs that he's suffering a great deal of pain--thanks to me. Really and truly--sorry. The one with the green gate. Just pull into the drive and I'm good to go. Trust me, you are not coming in. I mean, if I were you, I'd feel the same way. But still, if you could just spare me a few more seconds of your time, I'd really like a chance to explain.

And knowing I have to move fast, that he's prepared to allow me a few seconds and no more, I say, "Listen, it's like this--I mean, I know it sounds crazy, and I really can't go into all the details, but you have to trust me when I say I had really good reason to think you were one of them.

You've made your point, Ever. Made it abundantly clear, remember? I scrunch my nose and rub my lips together, knowing this next part probably won't go over any better, but still forging ahead when I say, "Yeah, well, you see, the thing is--I thought you were evil. It's the only reason I did what I did. I mean, I saw your tattoo--and--I have to say it was pretty convincing--well, except for the fact that it didn't flash or blink or anything like that--but still, that, coupled with the fact that Ava called, and, well, some other stuff I can't exactly get into, but anyway, all of that made me think that you--" I shake my head, knowing I'm not getting anywhere with this and choosing to just drop it, abandon it for something that's been niggling at me ever since we left the hospital.

Why'd you lie to those cops and take all the blame? I mean, I'm the one who hurt you, we both know I did it, heck, even they knew I did it. But still, you totally blew your big chance to get me cuffed and hauled away and thrown into the slammer when you lied on my behalf. And to be honest, I just don't get it. There's no use lying now. And let's not forget about the first day when I found you in the store, despite the fact that the door was locked, not to mention how quickly you found The Book of Shadows , which was also protected by a lock.

So, forget all the rest, forget the apologies and explanations and all of that nonsense, what's done is done, there's no going back. All I want now is for you to explain the how. That's all I'm really interested in. Attempting a feeble joke when I say, "Okay, but first, tell me, have those pain meds kicked in yet? Otherwise--" He tries to open the door, tries for the big, bold, dramatic exit, but with both arms bandaged, it's not as easy as it seems.

So I jump from my side to his, appearing beside him well before he can blink and hoping he doesn't view it as a threat to his masculinity when I say, "Here--allow me.

I nod, going through the motions of opening his door and offering my arm for support, sensing how weakened he is the moment he leans his weight onto me. Well, not really. Lina planted everything. I just maintain it. We grow most of the herbs for the store right here. So I close my eyes, seeing the door open before me until I hear that unmistakable click and wave him right in. Then I stand there like an idiot, performing this ridiculous little half wave, like I just dropped him off after a really nice picnic.

Reluctant to move even after he shakes his head and motions me in, requiring a firm, verbal invite before I venture any farther. I laugh. The meds are kicking in and I wasn't much good when I was sober and one-handed, so I can't imagine how I'll fare now.

It'll only take a minute, two at the most, and then you can get back to Damen and on with your night. Switching on the lights and closing the door behind me as I follow him inside, gazing around the small cozy space, amazed to find myself inside a real, authentic Laguna Beach cottage. The kind with old brick fireplaces and large picture windows. The kind you don't see in these parts anymore.

Lina picked it up cheap, a long time ago, before all the money and reality shows rolled in. She says she'll only sell if I promise not to turn it into yet another Tuscan-style duplex.

As if. I turn away from the window and wander into his kitchen, flicking on a light and opening a few cupboards until I find the one containing a set of drinking glasses. Looking around, searching for a bottle of water, only to find him standing so close I can make out each individual fleck in his eyes. I gaze at him, not sure what I'm bothered by more, his intimate proximity, the longing in his tone, or the way he was able to sneak up on me. Guaranteed to taste the same," I mumble, the words clumsy on my lips, hoping he's too hopped up on pain medication to see just how much his nearness is affecting me.

He continues to stand there, gaze steady, giving nothing away. Voice groggy and deep when he says, "Ever--what are you? Focusing on the tiled floor, the small table to the right, the den just beyond, anywhere but at him. The silence hanging so thick between us, I only want to break it when I say, "I--I can't tell you. But the truth is, he wouldn't have bought it. He knew something was up from the first day we met, long before he ever lent me that book. But what you failed to mention is that it's actually protected by a code--a code that has to be cracked in order to see what's truly inside.

So what gives? Why didn't you tell me about that? It's a pretty major detail to leave out, don't you think? Because, correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that when you sliced me open, you pretty much determined I was one of the good guys. I never said you were good. His annoyance ringing loud and clear when he says, "Oh, I see, you're still convinced I'm part of his tribe.

Well, excuse me for saying so, Ever, but I thought we were through with all that? But the other night when--" I pause, realizing I can't really continue that thread. I don't know what else to tell you, Ever. Not since I left Oregon. None of it makes any sense. Normally, I'd just give you the benefit of the doubt and blame the meds, but I seem to remember you talking crazy long before it resulted in that.

But I can't. It's--it's too complicated. Stuff that involves--" "Roman and Damen? Neither confirming nor denying his statement when I say, "I have these powers. Stuff that goes way beyond the psychic stuff you already know about. I can make things move--" "Telekinesis. You've got the world at your feet. You're beautiful, smart, blessed with all kinds of powers at your disposal, and I'm betting your boyfriend's hiding some gifts of his own. That's the third time he's mentioned him, and it bugs me just as much as it did the first time around.

He shifts, swinging his legs up onto the cushions and propping his head against a pillow. I don't like him. There's just--something about him. Can't really put my finger on it. And if there's anything else you wanna know, now's your chance. These meds are kicking in big time, starting an unbelievable buzz, so you might want to catch me before I fade out, while I'm still able and willing to talk fast and loose.

But now, maybe it's time I share a few truths of my own--or at least lead him toward the truth and see if he drinks. Studying the threadworn rug at my feet, the scarred wood table before me, the large citrine geode propped up in the corner, wondering why on earth I started this, and just about to speak when he says, "No worries.

It's just your everyday, garden-variety guy thing. You know, the kind of primal competition that takes place whenever there's one absolutely amazing girl and two guys who desperately want her. And since only one of us can win--excuse me--since only one of us has won--I'll just wander back to my cave, bang my club against the wall a few times, and lick my wounds where no one can see. I know when to bow out, so don't you worry.

There's a reason I'm named after the patron saint of lost causes--I've done it many times before, and. You just stay here and rest. Tucking the blanket under his feet when he says, "Hey, Ever--you never answered--about the book. Why'd you want that book when you already have everything you could ever possibly want? Knowing there must be a reason, that from everything I've seen and experienced so far, the universe isn't nearly as random as it seems. But the thing is, I don't know the reason.

In fact, I don't know much of anything anymore. All I know is they couldn't be more different. Jude's calming presence is the exact opposite of Damen's sultry mix of tingle and heat. Like the yang to his yin. Opposites to the purest degree. I finish tucking him in, waiting until he's drifted off again before I head for the door, saying, "Because I don't have everything I want. Especially you. Damen looks at me, brows raised, but I just shrug. Haven's gifts are only just starting to surface.

Mind reading is just the beginning. Determined to rid himself of all worldly goods, until the twins came to stay and the for SALE sign came down, wanting to provide them with all the extra comforts and space that he could. Living in fancy digs like this? Because if so, sign me up! Determined to keep the details as vague as we can, for as long as we can. Delaying the inevitable day when she discovers the real truth behind all of this, not to mention what really happened to her good friend Drina.

We follow her through the kitchen and into the den, only to find the twins plopped on either end of the couch. Each of them reading their very own copy of the same book, with Rayne munching on a bar of chocolate, while Romy dips into a big, buttery bowl of popcorn. Having no idea how to explain the fact that while they're not technically immortal, they have been hanging out in an alternate dimension for the last three hundred years, and now, thanks to me, can't seem to return.

Haven stands in the middle of the room, brow raised, face squinched, obviously not buying a word of it. They're--" "Oh, please! We're witches. Refugees from the Salem Witch Trials. And don't ask any more questions because we won't answer them. That's more than you need to know anyway. I mean, can this get any weirder? She peers into the box, tapping the lid of each bottle with the tip of her black-painted nail, gazing at us in confusion when she says, "That's it?

Only a one-week supply? I mean, you're not serious, are you? How am I supposed to survive on just this? You trying to kill me before I even have a chance to get started? That's why Ever makes me wear this. But Rayne just groans, crossing her skinny, pale arms across her sunken chest when she says, "Please, I know all about that. Take it off, get a punch to the wrong chakra and you're toast. Leave it on and you live happily ever after and after and after.

It's not rocket science, you know. And just as I start to say yes, glad to have an ally for a change if nothing else, I watch as she gets up from her chair and plops down beside Rayne, mussing her hair and tickling her feet in a way that makes them instant best friends.

And just like that, I'm back to being the outcast again. Damen shrugs. I've been around awhile, you know. A long while. Anyway--the point is--" "Wait--you're joking, right?

I mean, you're seriously not gonna tell me your real age? What are you--like one of those thirty-somethings who pile up the twenty-ninth birthdays well into their eighties? I mean, sorry, Damen, but how vain are you? I can't wait 'til I'm a porcelain-skinned one hundred and eighty-two.

As much as he's tried to rid himself of all the fancy clothes, hairgrooming products, and handmade Italian leather boots, a hint of vanity remains.

I thought you and Ever talked about that? You just stick to your normal cupcake-eating routine, keeping your behavior as normal as possible, careful not to draw any--" "Unnecessary attention to myself. I've been ordinary my whole entire life. Ignored, overlooked, practically blending into the walls and treated like I was invisible no matter how crazy I tried to act and dress, and I'm telling you, that kind of anonymity is overrated.

I'm totally and completely over it. So if now's my chance to really kick it--to really stand out and be seen for a change--well, I'm not about to hold back.

I plan to embrace it with all that I've got! So, with that in mind, I'm thinking you can do a little better than this. She's your creation--your Frankenstein--do something! So I clear my throat and turn to her, legs crossed, hands clasped, rearranging my face into a pleasant expression despite the fact that I'm every bit as freaked as he is. I pause, unsure how to explain that the juice enhances my powers, powers I prefer she not have, fumbling around for just the right words when I say, "While it may appear that way, the thing is--I don't really need it--not like Damen does anyway.

I just sort of drink it because--well--because I'm used to it. And even though it doesn't taste all that great--I kind of like it. But trust me, it's really not necessary to drink it every day--not even every week--or every year, for that matter.

Like Damen said, you can go a hundred years, maybe two hundred, without a single sip. That would only make her want it more. I'm sure he'd be happy to give it to me.

Watching as Luna jumps onto her lap and Haven starts to pet her. Is that why you're here now? Because you sense your true owner? Pets aren't possessions, they're not accessories you discard when you decide you no longer want them.

They're living creatures that share our lives. But I'm not about to let her brush that off, she's the one who put it out there, now I'm just following up. She shrugs, sensing exactly where I'm going with this when she says, "Fine. He's just fine, thanks for asking. But I've got nothing to report. Or at least nothing that would interest you. Switching her focus to her nails when she says, "Jeez, do your nails grow this fast too? I mean, I just cut them this morning and check it out, they're already long again!

All of this on just one bottle of elixir? And knowing I've no choice but to tell her, and hoping I can pull it off convincingly, I say, "Listen--about Roman--" She drops her hands in her lap, cradling the box as she looks at me.

But the truth is, it's a conclusion I've only just come to myself--a result of all the creepy things that have happened in the past twenty-four hours.

If it's money you need, I can totally float you until you find another job, but I don't think you should be working there. It's not--safe. And even though I know you don't believe me, even though you think I've got it all wrong, the thing is, I don't. Damen was there too, he can tell you. He's dangerous. A complete and total menace.

Not to mention he's--" Evil and awful, and devastatingly, alluringly irresistible--his voice in my head, his face in my dreams--always there, ever-present--and no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to shake him--can't stop thinking about him--can't stop wanting him--can't stop dreaming about him--"And--um--anyway, I'd hate to see you get hurt.

But when she looks at me, her brow lifted as though she heard the words in my head, sees what I really am up to, I panic. Privately and quietly panic. Until I remember that my shield is in place.

And no matter how powerful she may be, if Damen couldn't hear me, then neither could she. I heard you the first time, just like I heard you this time. And if you'll remember, we agreed to disagree.

Besides, how you gonna get what you want if I don't cozy up to him? He's so incredibly Roman's hardly a threat, at least not to me. He's so incredibly sweet, and kind, and loving--he's nothing at all like you think. So if you two want to be together"--she wags her finger between Damen and me--"then you'll probably want to stay on my good side. As far as I can tell, I'm pretty much your only shot at this point--no? And while I realize you're excited about your prospects, thrilled with this new power that's raging inside you, it's all too easy to get in over your head.

I know, because I was once like you. In fact, I was the first. And even though it was a very long time ago, I remember it like yesterday. I also remember the long list of mistakes I made, the regrets I accumulated when I let my hunger for power override my common sense and human decency. Don't be like me, Haven. Don't make that mistake. And don't you even consider threatening either Ever or me in any way.

We have plenty of options, plenty of means, and we don't need you to--" "Enough already! Did you ever stop to think that maybe I can teach you guys a thing or two about how to use all this power?

It's just, 'Do this, Haven, do that, Haven, we're rationing your elixir because we don't trust you, Haven. If you refuse to trust me, then why am I supposed to trust you? I know you don't want to see it, but he's using you. You're just a pawn in this twisted little game that he plays. He sees all your weaknesses and he's using them to pull your strings like a puppet.

But before this can go any further, escalate into something we'll all surely regret, Damen holds up a hand and jumps in. We're trying to protect you. It's for your own good. Because I'm too dumb to figure stuff out for myself? Then she nods, grips the box tighter, and stands. Because you're the one holding something back, Ever--I can feel it. And even though I have no idea what it is, one thing's pathetically clear-you're jealous. The smartest, the prettiest, the most perfect at everything, with the most perfect, smartest, sexiest boyfriend.

And the fact is, you can't stand it. Can't stand the thought of it. But the funny part, the ironic part is, in the end, you have only yourself to blame, since you're the one who made me this way. And even though you claim you'd make the same decision all over again, I can't help but think you liked me better before. Back when I was a pathetic, little, attention-starved wannabe--the loser who ate too many cupcakes and made up stuff at anonymous meetings.

It's pretty obvious how superior you've always felt to Miles and me. Like you were deigning to hang with us until something better came your way--" "That's not true--you're my best friends--my--" "Please. The moment the Italian stallion came along"--she nods at Damen--"we pretty much only saw you at lunch, and sometimes not even then, since the perfect little couple was too busy with their perfect little lives, and their perfect little love, to hang with such unperfect dorks like us.

We were just the losers you kept on standby--just in case you might need us someday. But now it looks like you're in for a long and lonely summer cuz Miles is headed for Florence, and I made some new friends who aren't the slightest bit intimidated by the new me.

How can you even say these things? Even though she's just as teeny as ever, even though she hasn't grown even the slightest bit, it's like her diminutive stature is somehow more pronounced--more toned, more sinewy, like she's a tiny black panther in black leather leggings, lacy black shirt, and tall spiky black boots.

And though she's gotten mad at me before, this time is different--she's different. Now she's dangerous, and knows it, and likes it that way. I've got my own source. And trust me, he'll be more than happy to teach me all the things that you won't. But I just stand there, so stunned I have no idea where to take it from here.

She'll be consumed with power before long, just wait. Wait for what? You think it's actually gonna get worse than what we just saw? But it's not like it matters. We both know I'm the one responsible for this mess. I sigh, sliding off the armrest and toppling onto him. Knowing I have to do something--take control of this situation before it gets any worse--but having no idea what that something is. Every decision I've made up to this point has only made everything worse. And I'm just so tired--so drained-all I want to do is take a nice long peaceful nap where Roman can't enter my dreams.

The name reverberating from my mind to his, and when he looks at me, I know it's too late--I know that he sensed it.

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Because the truth is, I'm worried I didn't do it for her. I'm worried I tried to keep her from Roman, so there'd be more room for me. I remain like that, face hidden as I struggle to pull myself together, summon up some small glimmer of the old me. Finally lifting my head only to find his brow creased with worry, as his hand squeezes my knee. So, we've entered a bit of a glitch, we'll get through it. We still have each other, right? That's all that matters in the big scheme of things.

As for everything else-we'll find a way--I promise we will. He looks at me, clearly disturbed by my words. Am I wrong? But Damen's not buying it, he knows me too well--having witnessed a million different mood swings, a gazillion different voice inflections and avoidance techniques over the last four hundred years--and that's just counting mine.

You've been acting strange ever since--" I look at him, my voice sharp, edgy, cutting in when I say, "Ever since I made you drink the elixir that turned our touch lethal? You made the best decisions you could under the circumstances you found yourself in.

I've no right to fault you for that. What I was going to say is you've been acting strange ever since you started delving into magick. You seem preoccupied, distracted, like you're never fully present anymore. And I'm worried about you, wondering if you've gotten in over your head, and if so, how I might help.

The thought alone is too gruesome. And while I'd rather not go into all the details, it's better now. Romy and Rayne showed me how to undo it, and it's all--good. You just have to trust me.

But let me know if there's anything I can do. Knowing this is how it's meant to be--that everything I'm going through now is just a rude interruption--a technical difficulty--a brief blip on the screen of our infinite lives. Aware of that horrible insistent hum, thrumming in the background, threatening to take over again, I look him right in the eyes and say, "What do you say we get out of here?

I nod, squeezing his hand and quietly urging him to close his eyes, as I whisper, "Follow me. Like a million, trillion, gazillion times better. Jumping to my feet and skipping through the field, freed from that horrible trespassing energy--that strange foreign pulse and the thoughts of Roman it brings. All of it reduced to nothing more than a vague and distant memory, as the buoyant grass springs under my feet, and the perfumed flowers shiver beneath the tips of my fingers.

Glancing over my shoulder, beckoning for Damen to join me, as a genuine grin lights up my face for the first time in days. I am regenerated, renewed, able to begin all over again. He comes toward me, stopping just shy of my reach as he closes his eyes and instantly transforms the vast fragrant fields of Summerland into an exact replica of the Chateau de Versailles. Placing us in the middle of a hall so grand and opulent it takes my breath away.

The floors are made of the smoothest polished parquet, while the cream-colored walls gleam with a liberal use of gold leaf. And the ceilings--those insanely high, elaborately frescoed ceilings--are punctuated by a succession of glistening chandeliers, their finely cut crystals shining and glinting from the flames of burning candles, filling the room with a kaleidoscope of soft, glowing light. And just when I think it can't possibly get any better, the majestic sounds of a symphony begin and Damen bows before me and offers his hand.

I lower my gaze, bending into a brisk curtsey, taking the opportunity to glance down at my dress--its bodice tight and low, spilling into soft loose folds of the shiniest blue silk that swirls all the way to the floor. Lifting my gaze to find him retrieving a slim velvet box from his coat, and gasping in excitement when he opens it to reveal an exquisite sapphireand-diamond-encrusted necklace he clasps around my neck.

I turn, glancing into the long line of mirrors that punctuate each side of the hall, gazing upon the two of us together, he in his breeches, blazer, and boots, me in my opulent finery, hair twisted and curled into the world's most complicated updo-and I know exactly what he's doing--exactly what he's up to-he's giving me the happily ever after Drina stole from me.

I gaze around the ballroom in awe, hardly believing I could've had this, could've been part of this world--his world. If my Cinderella ending hadn't been ripped right out from under me, robbing me of my chance to even try the glass slipper. If I'd only been allowed to live, he would've given me the elixir and instantly transformed me from the lowly French servant named Evaline into this--this radiant being staring back from the mirror.

And a hundred and some-odd years later, we could've danced here together, shared this beautiful night, dressed in our finest and glinting with jewels, right alongside Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. But that didn't happen. Instead, Drina killed me, forcing Damen and me to continue our search for each other, again and again.

I gaze at him, blinking back the tears as I place my hand on his shoulder and he cups his arm snugly around my waist, twirling me across the dance floor, our feet moving expertly, my skirts swirling in a dizzying haze of blue. So overcome by the beauty he's created, replicated just for me, I press tightly against him, lips at his ear when I ask if there are any more rooms to see. And before I know it, I'm whisked down a confusing maze of halls, to the finest, grandest bedroom I've ever seen.

Though this is an exact replica of the room that I stayed in on my numerous visits--so tell me, what do you think? Because I don't. I'm in Summerland now. Roman can't reach me. I reach up, fingers tracing his high cheekbones, the sharp line of his jaw, when I say, "What do I think? No, I take that back--" He looks at me, feigned apprehension in his gaze.

I lift my arms, encircling them around his neck as I pull him down to me. Aware of the energy veil that hovers between his lips and mine--allowing for what I'm starting to think of as our now-standard, almost kiss. But still happy to take what I can get. I'm so sorry you missed it, Ever, we would've had such fun. You would've been the belle of the ball--the most beautiful one"--he squints--"no--on second thought, Marie might not have liked that.

And was this before or after Count Fersen split the scene? It was definitely the place to be--or at least for a while anyway. I was thinking more in terms of how some beautiful women aren't always so pleased when another one enters the scene. Realizing just after it's out that I'm actually having a conversation about Damen's evil ex-wife and not feeling even the slightest twinge of my usual jealousy.

And it's not just because of the magick of Summerland, but because I really, truly am at peace with it now. Though, unfortunately, Damen's not aware of my new outlook, which probably explains why his brow's gone all slanted and his mouth grim. Wondering if I'm really going to start this up again, after he's gone to all the trouble to make this for me. But I just smile, inviting him to look inside my mind and see for himself.

I asked only because I was curious, nothing more. There's not a hint of jealousy to be found. Everyone has a past. Even, it seems, me. The only thing that really matters is that he loves me. Has always loved me. Spent the last four hundred years searching for me. And I think I finally get just how big a deal that really is.

Dark Flame

And even though I smile and laugh along with him, I know better. I can't really have this at home. Not after the spell that I wove. And until I can find a way to break it, this is the one and only place I can be like this, feel like this. The magick will dissolve the second I make my way back through the portal. He presses against me, his body covering mine, the almost feel of his hands on my skin filling me with tingle and heat.

The two of us surrendering to the moment, surrendering to the limits we've no choice but to accept. My lips at his ear as I murmur, "No reason I can think of. No reason at all. We have to be getting back soon. Hardly believing I actually fell asleep--while we were kissing. He nods, luckily looking more amused than mad. But still I hide my face with my hands, horrified by even the thought of it.

Seriously, I'm so--" I shake my head and cringe. Needing no further testimony to how exhausted I've been after everything that's happened in the past week. He rises from the bed, helping me to stand when he says, "Don't be. Don't be sorry or embarrassed. You know, in a way it was kind of nice. I don't recall that ever happening before and you don't really get to experience many firsts after the first--oh, hundred or so years.