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VANISH
by Sophie Jordan

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

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I rest my cheek against the cool glass of the window and watch the night rush past me. As Cassian drives, my eyes strain through the motionless dark, skimming over rock yards and stucco houses, searching for an answer, a reason for everything that’s happened.

The world seems to hold its breath as we slow for a stop sign. My gaze drifts to the dark sky above us. A deep, starless sea beckoning, promising sanctuary. 

Mom’s voice drifts forward from the backseat, low and crooning, as she talks to Tamra, trying to coax a response from her. I peel my cheek from the glass and glance over my shoulder. Tamra shivers in Mom’s arms. Her eyes stare vacantly ahead; her skin, corpse pale.

“Is she okay?” I ask again, because I have to say something. I have to know. Did I do this to her? Is this, too, my fault? “What’s wrong with her?”

Mom frowns and shakes her head at me like I shouldn’t speak. I’ve let them both down. I broke the unbreakable rule. I revealed my true form to humans—worse, hunters—and we will all pay for the mistake. The knowledge presses on me, a crushing weight that sinks me deep into my seat. I face forward again, trembling uncontrollably. I cross my arms, pinning my hands at my sides as though that might still them.

Cassian warned me there would be a reckoning for this night’s work, and I wonder whether it’s already begun. I’ve lost Will. Tamra is sick or in shock or maybe something worse. Mom can hardly look at me. My every breath is misery, the events of the night burning inside my eyelids. Me, shedding my human skin and manifesting in front of Will’s family. My desperate flight through crackling dry air to reach him. But if I hadn’t manifested—hadn’t flown to Will’s side—he’d be dead, and I couldn’t bear that thought. I’ll never see Will again, no matter his promise to find me, but at least he’s alive.

Cassian says nothing beside me. He did all the talking he needed to do to get Mom in the car with us, to make her understand returning with him to the home we fled is the only viable option. His fingers hold tight to the steering wheel, his knuckles white. I doubt he’ll relax his grip until we’re free and clear of Chaparral. Probably not until we’re safely back in the pride. Safe. I strangle on a laugh—or it could be a sob. Will I ever feel safe again?