Please enjoy this extended preview into book 7 in the Fated Saga, Control
Meghan Jacoby could not remember the last time she felt happiness. Real happiness. Yes, there were many terrible things going on in her life, as well as to her friends, family and people she cared about deeply... but at this moment, all she could feel was giddy relief.
In the chaos of discovering that Fazendiin Jurekai, the original and most powerful of the immortal Grosvenor, was her father, she had forgotten one thing: she also had a mother. And now, she had met her mother, Isabella Crane, and not only had her mother lived up to her expectations, but Meghan had gained an older half-brother in Ivan- possibly the most loyal, albeit pain in the butt and irritating, friend she had ever had.
Without even realizing it, she had come to think of him as a big brother and now, he really was her big brother. There was something comforting about this fact. Because he was good. His mother –their mother- was good. Isabella had sacrificed everything to make the world a better place, to keep it from becoming a world no longer worth living in.
The blood racing through her veins did not belong just to evil.
She was not doomed to follow Colby’s footsteps.
Ivan had still not spoken since announcing that she was his sister. He just stared. Bewildered. Confused. Petrified.
Sebastien Jendaya on the other hand wore a wide grin. Whether he had believed Ivan previously or not, in his claims that he had never liked Meghan, like that, there was no argument now. Of course, this didn’t mean she would just automatically forgive him; he still had a lot to make up for; including keeping secrets from her.
Like the fact that it was he who’d attacked Colin and stolen the Magicante while in Grimble, and that he could transform into a bird and had been following them since their adventure with the Svoda had begun.
From behind his dangly hair, Jae Mochrie watched everything unfolding, trying to make sense of it all. He was too young to remember what Ivan’s mother had looked like. He was just an infant when she died. Although she hadn’t died at all, only left. The resemblance between Meghan and Isabella was striking, especially seeing them side by side with their bright red hair, ocean blue eyes and pale skin.
Meghan sighed, satisfied to relish this happy moment.
Ivan shuddered suddenly, turning pale. “I think, I think I’m going to be sick,” he mumbled, racing out of the run down shack in which they still stood.
Meghan’s smile dropped and she moved to follow him.
“Give him a moment,” Isabella said gently, stopping her. With a trembling voice she added, “I have shattered my son’s world. He is realizing that so many of the beliefs which forged his life are not real.”
Meghan nodded, pretending she understood, and in part, she did. Ivan had always had plans, intentions, but nothing he had ever really shared with her. She had pieced together enough to know that at least some of this regarded bringing down Juliska Blackwell, to show the Svoda what she truly was. But to what extent beyond this, she did not know.
“I should speak to him, alone,” Isabella advised.
“Okay,” replied Meghan. She didn’t want to let her mother out of her sight but realized that she and Ivan would need some time. As she thought about it, she could not fathom what Ivan was feeling. Yes, she too had believed her mother dead for many years, but her mother had also thought her dead, and Meghan was in hiding for a reason: to keep her and Colin safe.
Ivan’s mother had voluntarily left him. Yes, to potentially save the world, but she knowingly left him and his father behind to do so.
Ivan had not gone far. He stood a few feet outside the shack. It was easy to hear him speak from inside, especially since there was no door and the shack’s wooden walls were lined with cracks and gaps.
Nona rubbed up against Meghan’s leg, purring. Meghan reached down and picked up her Catawitch, nuzzling her as they listened in silence to the conversation outside.
Ivan didn’t turn to look at his mother but he heard her approach behind him.
“I didn’t even know you were a Firemancer,” he whispered in a dazed tone.
“It skipped a few generations and I hid the fact that I was. I think everyone started to believe the Firemancer gift had died out of my family line.”
He spun around, teary eyed and cleared his throat.
“Why hide it?”
“Many reasons, which I will explain.”
“I’m sorry,” he said unexpectedly, bowing his head.
“For what?” she asked him.
“I don’t know how to feel. What to ask you. I...” he stopped, sucking in a shaky breath. “I haven’t seen you since I was a child, barely old enough to remember what you looked like.”
“Ivan,” she said, stepping closer, lifting up his head. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I am the only one that needs to apologize. Although I cannot imagine a thousand apologies will ever be enough to make up for what I’ve done to you.”
Ivan stepped back, unable to keep eye contact with his mother.
“I’m not mad,” he told her. “I don’t hate you, if that’s what you’re thinking. I just...”
“You just don’t understand,” she finished. Isabella took in a determined breath. “If you’ll let me, I would like to explain.”
He nodded, his throat feeling too tight to reply.
She began by explaining the same things she had shared with Meghan. The visions she’d had of the future, how the Grosvenor’s immortal children brought with them uncontrolled chaos and destruction, which she felt certain could be contained by bearing those children herself, instilling as much love and compassion into their lives as she could. She told him about bringing Colby and Meghan into the world, giving up Colby when he was just five to his father and how she had hid Meghan in the orphanage, where she was then found alongside Colin.
Inside the rundown shack, they listened intently. Meghan stood very near the doorway, just out of sight.
“When I left you, I faked my death, obviously,” Isabella told Ivan.
“How did you do it?”
“A spell. Magic.”
“You weren’t afraid they’d do something with your body? Ivan asked her.
“It wasn’t my body they found,” she explained. “I used magic on someone recently deceased... I won’t go into specifics, the details are not important. But I used magic to make everyone believe it was my body they had found.”
“Including me and dad,” Ivan added.
“Including you and your father,” she repeated. “My biggest regret is that I didn’t see what would happen next, that your father would die so suddenly, and so soon after I left you. I left you alone. With no one. With nothing.”
“I was taken in, taken care of. The Mochries,” he said. “I’m sure you know that already. The young man you don’t know inside the shack, he is their eldest son, Jae. They took good care of me.”
“But they are not family. Not blood. And after I learned what you saw, about how your father died, I feared what would become of you. I didn’t want you to be alone. I didn’t want you to feel alone.”
“I, I started to believe that you’d been killed too,” Ivan admitted after a moment. “After I was old enough to understand what had really happened to my father, I started to doubt whether you’d actually died of an illness. It just seemed so hard to believe. I started to think that both of you had seen something, or learned something, you shouldn’t have...” said Ivan. “Everything in my life after that was to prove what had really happened to you. And to show everyone what Juliska Blackwell really was. It didn’t matter that I was...” he paused.
“That you were alone,” guessed his mother. “Being alone made it easier. Having nothing to care about made it easier.”
For being absent nearly his entire life, she seemed to know her son well. He could not respond.
“I never stopped looking in on you. I never stopped thinking about you. Worrying about you. Questioning sometimes by the minute and the second if I had done the right thing.”
Ivan, the boy that had always been about doing the right thing could not reply. He didn’t know what to say. He glanced passed her seeing Meghan’s shadow. Isabella caught his glance out of the corner of her eye.
“After your father died and Meghan had been born, I had hoped that somehow you would find each other. That she could become a part of your life even if I could not. I made sure that my locket went with her to the orphanage, hoping that one day you’d find it. I used magic to pass along a message to you, hoping to spark your interest, so you would search for it.”
“Via the Song Spinner, Catrina Flummer,” said Ivan.
“Yes. I feared greatly what would happen to you, as you grew older. I wanted you to have something, someone to care about. A reason to live. To care. I could not keep Meghan with me, she needed to be hidden from her father, but I wanted you to find each other. Alas, as I have said, I thought she died and had given up hope that you’d ever find out the truth. I should have known she wasn’t dead. She was the daughter of an immortal after all. But I assumed that because she was so young that she could still die... another regret... and then I started to see what was happening to you, Ivan. I knew. I knew you would too easily sacrifice your life for what you thought was right.”
“I was ready,” he admitted. “I always thought I would die in the end. That my life didn’t matter as long as I proved what really happened. And now I find out that all the theories I had racing around my head were just that, theories. There was no conspiracy surrounding your death, other than what you created yourself...”
“And your father was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Isabella said. “But that doesn’t change how he died, at the hand of the Scratchers, which you found out Juliska created. You were the first to discover this treachery. Not everything was in vain. And without any interference or help from me, your sister found her way to you. Even if you didn’t know it until now.”
Ivan looked up again, Meghan was now standing just outside of the shack, with Nona not too far away and Sebastien and Jae quietly waiting just in the doorway, blown away by all they were hearing.
“I think some part of me did know,” Ivan continued, his eyes never leaving Meghan. “She looks so much like you, but I just thought it was chance. I couldn’t see how it was possible.”
Meghan smiled weakly at him, shooting him a look that said, “Surprise!” and “You’re stuck with me now.”
He shook his head; a bit of the Ivan she knew, returning. He rolled his eyes, mumbling, “It would have to be you.”
“Ivan,” Meghan said nervously. “If I was ever going to find out I had a half-brother I didn’t know about, I can’t imagine anyone else I’d want it to be. Even though I totally hate you and you drive me completely crazy!” she added at the end, through tearful laughter.
He lowered his head for a moment, amused, but when he looked up, he shrugged his shoulders, looking lost. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now.”
“I do,” said Meghan. “We have a mad woman named Juliska Blackwell that needs to be stopped! We must find some way to help Colin and,” she turned to Jae, “we need to find some way to fix you.”
“Then there’s just Colby and Fazendiin and the Immortality stone, and the rest of the Grosvenor,” chimed in Sebastien, with a sarcastic smile.
Meghan let out a frazzled sigh. “Yeah, and all of that.”
Isabella was looking at Jae. “What needs to be fixed about you?” she asked him curiously.
“I, um,” he gulped, and then said, “I let Juliska turn me into one of her Scratchers. She thinks I’m dead, but she will eventually find out I’m not and when she does...”
“She will force him back into her service,” finished Ivan. “We cannot allow that to happen. Jae made a mistake but, we have to find a way to fix it.”
Meghan turned to Isabella. “Amelia Cobb, before Colby killed her...” she was cut off.
“What?” said Isabella sharply.
Meghan caught herself, realizing she had not informed her mother of Colby’s actions. “Sorry. We hadn’t really gotten to explaining that yet.”
“He killed someone,” Isabella’s voice faltered as she spoke.
“Yes. He did. But I stand by what I said before,” insisted Meghan. “I still think he can be saved. And truth be told, if he hadn’t killed Amelia, someone else probably would have.”
“But someone else didn’t,” muttered Isabella. For the smallest of moments she held a look on her face that said all was lost. Hopeless. That all she had sacrificed to give Colby a fighting chance to be good, was all for nothing. That she had failed. She let out a deep sigh, wiping away her worry and cast a short grin.
“Don’t give up him, Meghan. We cannot give up on him.”
“I don’t intend to,” Meghan told her. “Fazendiin’s claws are deep, but I really think there’s still hope. I can’t, won’t give up.”
Isabella nodded, clearing her throat. “You were saying something about Amelia,” she reminded in a soft voice.
“Right, um, she mentioned there might be a cure or a way to break the bond between Jae and Juliska,” said Meghan.
“There is,” Isabella said without hesitation.
Jae perked up eagerly, as did Sebastien, Ivan, Meghan and Nona.
“There is a way?” Meghan questioned, thrilled that her mother might know the answer to at least one of their problems.
“The bond can be broken and you can be cured, Jae,” Isabella said.
“How?” Jae asked. “What do I need to do? I’ll do anything to fix what I’ve done.”
“Anything?” she asked him. “The magic used to create the Scratchers is some of the most powerful and dark magic in existence.”
He swallowed hard, having trouble finding his voice.
“Yes. Anything,” he repeated, though shakily. “No matter the cost, I have to. I don’t want to go back to her. I won’t hurt for her. I won’t kill for her. I may be a stupid idiot, but I’m not a killer... and I can’t live like this. I need to get rid of this thing inside me. It wants out, all the time... I’m afraid whether under her control or not, I will hurt someone.”
She nodded, seeing his determination.
“There is only way one to break this type of magical bond. The creator of the magic must die.”
Jae nodded, unable to voice what he was thinking.
“We have to take her down anyway,” said Meghan, her voice higher than usual. The thought of actually killing someone, or even working towards actually killing someone turned her stomach. Juliska was evil. There was no doubt about this fact. But shouldn’t she stand trial and be judged by all? Shouldn’t she be forced to face up to and pay for the crimes she committed?
“I know she’s evil,” Jae finally spoke somberly. “Juliska Blackwell frightens me more than anyone I’ve ever known. Before she did this thing to me, I would have done anything she had asked of me, even died for her if I thought it would be for the greater good. But now, even after what she’s done, the thought of her dying for some reason just makes me feel sick.”
“It is sick,” said Sebastien. “And sad. She has wasted her life filling it with hate. And we don’t even know why! She was a good person, once. Like Amelia; she wasn’t always crazy either. But I think Juliska is beyond saving.”
“Everything we know she’s done set aside,” started Meghan, “Do we even have the right to decide her fate? She’s hurt so many people. Not just us.”
“She deserves to die,” said Ivan, as if he were ready to deal Juliska her fate that very second.
Isabella sighed, her eyes saddened. “Juliska’s death cannot be by your hand, Ivan.”
At first, Meghan thought she had said this because Isabella feared that Ivan was just latching on to any new purpose; that he needed to feel that he had one. But Isabella’s gaze landed back on Jae.
“Juliska’s death alone will not cure you.”
Jae’s already pale face turned white and green.
“Her death breaks the bond only,” she continued.
Jae opened his mouth but nothing came out.
Ivan asked the question he could not muster. “What must he do? How do we cure him?”
“You don’t,” she said to Ivan. “If you truly want to be cured, Jae Mochrie, you, yourself, will have to be the one that takes her last breath. You will have to kill Juliska Blackwell.”
Added Preview ...
Colin Jacoby sat on the ground next to Catrina. She had her head leaning against his shoulder. They were still sitting just a few feet away from the tree where Jasper Thorndike had been buried, Colin deep in thought about how he was to get Jasper’s copy of the Magicante back from Freyne Rothrock, the Grosvenor that had stolen it just before his death.
“Freyne,” she heard him mumble.
When it was followed by an angry breath, she sat up.
“What is it?” she asked him.
Colin’s eyes narrowed, looking dark and angry, and right passed her to something else. She turned and gasped, saying, “Oh. Freyne.”
Freyne Rothrock was just a few feet away, nearing the tree trunk that resembled the face of Jasper Thorndike.
“Don’t worry, he can’t see or hear us,” said Colin. “The cloak is still hiding us.”
“Good,” she muttered, adding, “What is he doing here?”
Colin did not answer, but instead stood up, following Freyne to the tree. The Grosvenor eyed it cautiously, stepping carefully around the tree, looking over every detail.
“Stupid boy,” Freyne mumbled under his breath. “Powerful, perhaps, but stupid! Didn’t even clear away any traces of the magic he used here.”
Colin’s eyes widened and he glanced at Catrina.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” she whispered.
“I thought they could only trace me when I let down the cloak. Stupid! Stupid! There’s so much I don’t know.”
Catrina reassured him. “Now that we know it can be done, we’ll figure out how.”
“It’s too late now,” Colin retorted. “Let’s find out what Freyne is doing here. Maybe he has the book with him and I can end this whole thing right here and now!”
“Colin, no,” said Catrina softly. “You cannot confront him like this. You’re not prepared.”
“Maybe not, but it’s not like I can die,” he returned with a tone of arrogance.
“No. You can’t. But...” he cut her off.
“Maybe now is the perfect time! I can catch him off guard.”
“And then how will we find out what he’s doing here?”
Colin’s determined look dropped slightly.
Catrina reached out her hand and grasped his.
“We have to be smart, Colin. We need to take our time. You need to take your time. Rash moves don’t always end so well.”
Colin glanced at Jasper’s tree.
“You’re right,” he admitted dolefully.
He kept the cloak firmly in place, hiding them from Freyne, watching as the Grosvenor stopped at the front of the tree, looking at the face formed into the bark.
“I learned a little secret,” he whispered to the face, his voice low. “And I thank you in advance for your help.” Freyne stepped back and held his arms over the ground, above where Jasper’s body was buried. The ground began to rumble.
“What is he doing?” asked Colin, aghast.
“Oh, no! I think I know.” Her face turned white as the realization hit her. “Colin, we need to leave. I’m sorry. You might have been right after all.”
She did not answer as the ground where Jasper was buried started to shift, the dirt rolling back as something started to come out of the ground.
“Are those?” Colin could not finish.
“Yes. Bones. He’s digging up Jasper’s bones.”
“Why would he do...” he paused again, looking more closely at the bones, which were abnormally bright white. They looked just like... “The dagger. The dagger that stripped Jasper of his powers... it was made from the bones of a dead projector.”
He took a step back, taking Catrina with him.
“He wants to steal your powers,” Catrina said. “Like Colby did. He’s going to use the bones to make his own dagger.”
Colin felt immense anger filling him.
Catrina knew that this might be too much. It might send him over the edge.
“We need to leave, Colin. Now! We are not prepared to fight this.”
Thanks for reading the book 7 preview :)
I look forward to getting it published so you guys can read the entire book! I am on track for a late Sep publication date for book 7, and a late Oct date for book 8!
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