Unraveled

Hardcover | August 31, 2010

byGena Showalter

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Since coming to Crossroads, Oklahoma, former outcast Aden Stone has been living the good life. Never mind that one of his best friends is a werewolf, his girlfriend is a vampire princess who hungers for his blood, and he's supposed to be crowned Vampire King—while still a human! Well, kind of.

With four—oops, three now—human souls living inside his head, Aden has always been "different" himself. These souls can time-travel, raise the dead, possess another's mind and, his least favorite these days, tell the future.

The forecast for Aden? A knife through the heart.

Because a war is brewing between the creatures of the dark, and Aden is somehow at the center of it all. But he isn't about to lie down and accept his destiny without a fight. Not when his new friends have his back, not when Victoria has risked her own future to be with him, and not when he has a reason to live for the first time in his life….

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From the Publisher

Since coming to Crossroads, Oklahoma, former outcast Aden Stone has been living the good life. Never mind that one of his best friends is a werewolf, his girlfriend is a vampire princess who hungers for his blood, and he's supposed to be crowned Vampire King—while still a human! Well, kind of. With four—oops, three now—human souls liv...

Gena Showalter writes in the genres of contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and young adult fiction. She is the author of the Alien Huntress series, Tales of an Extraordinary Girl series, Atlantis series, and Lords of the Underworld series. Her other books include The Stone Prince, The Pleasure Slave, and Catch a Mate. Her books h...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:576 pages, 7.52 × 5.6 × 1.83 inPublished:August 31, 2010Publisher:HarlequinLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0373210221

ISBN - 13:9780373210220

Appropriate for ages: 14 - 17

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Mary Ann Gray studied herself in the full-length mirror in her bedroom. Makeup—light and unsmeared. Dark hair—not a tangle. Perhaps even, dare she think it? Silky. Clothes—an unwrinkled lacy T-shirt and clean skinny jeans. Shoes—hiking boots. She'd replaced the plain white laces with thick pink ones, giving them a feminine flair.Okay, then. She was officially ready.Breathing deeply, shaking a little, she gathered her books, stuffed them into her backpack, swung that pack over her shoulder and headed downstairs toward the kitchen. Where her dad was waiting. With breakfast she would be required to eat.Her stomach churned in protest. She'd have to fake-eat because she doubted she would be able to keep a single bite down. She was simply too knotted with nerves.From the living room, she heard pans clattering, water pounding into the sink and a man sighing in…defeat?She stopped just before snaking the final corner and leaned her shoulder against the wall, losing herself to her thoughts. A few weeks ago, she and her dad had entered new territory. Ugly, deceitful territory. We'll always be honest with each other, he used to tell her. All. The. Time. Of course, at the same time, he'd been feeding her lies about her birth mother. The woman who had raised her had not given birth to her, but had in fact been her aunt.In truth, her real mother had possessed the ability to time-travel into younger versions of herself, yet he'd refused to believe her, had considered her unstable. She couldn't prove otherwise, either, because she was dead and her spirit had moved on. Lost to Mary Ann forever.God, the loss still hurt.Mary Ann had gotten to spend one day with her. One amazing, wonderful day because Eve, her mother, had been one of the souls trapped inside her friend Aden's head. Then, boom. Eve was gone.Tears burned Mary Ann's eyes as she remembered their parting, but she blinked them back. She couldn't allow herself to cry. Her mascara would run, and then she'd look like a domestic abuse victim when Riley arrived to pick her up.Riley.My boyfriend. Yes, she'd think about him instead,>looking forward to the future rather than wallowing in the past. Her lips even curled into a small smile as her heart raced uncontrollably. She hadn't seen him since they'd attended the Vampire Ball together, when his king had been murdered and Aden had been named the new vampire sovereign. Not that Aden wanted the title—or the responsibilities that would surely come with it.Sure, that had only happened on Saturday. But two days apart felt like forever when Riley was involved. She was used to seeing him every day at school, as well as every evening when he snuck into her room.And, to be honest, she'd never liked anyone the way she liked him. Maybe because there was no one quite like Riley. He was intense and smart, sweet (to her) and protective. And sexy. All those muscles…honed from years of running as a werewolf shape-shifter and fighting as a vampire guardian. Both of which forged the many facets of his personality.While acting as guardian, he was unemotional and distant (to everyone but her). He had to be, to do such a violent job. But as a werewolf, he was soft, warm and cuddly. I can't wait to cuddle him again, she thought, her grin spreading."Are you going to stand out there all day?" her dad called.She snapped to attention, grin fading. How had he known she was there?Just get the morning's emotional bloodbath over with. Raising her chin, she marched the rest of the way into the kitchen and settled at the table, dropping her backpack at her feet. Her dad set a plate of pancakes in front of her, the scent of blueberries and syrup suddenly coating the air. Her favorite. Her stomach had settled considerably as she'd thought about Riley, but even so, she didn't think she could eat. Or rather, didn't want to risk the possible consequences. Like vomiting in front of her brand-new boyfriend.Her dad eased into the chair across from her. His blond hair was spiked around his head, as if he'd raked his fingers through it a few thousand times, and his usually bright blue eyes were dull, with dark circles underneath them. Lines of tension branched from his mouth, making him look as if he hadn't slept in weeks. Maybe he hadn't.Despite everything, she hated seeing him like that. He loved her, she knew that. But that was what had made his betrayal sting so badly. And by "sting" she meant toss-her-into-a-meat-grinder-and-use-the-pieces-as-fish-bait."Dad," she said at the exact moment he said, "Mary Ann."They peered at each other for a moment, and then grinned. It was the first easy moment they'd shared in weeks, and it was…nice."You go first," she told him. He was a doctor, a clinical psychologist, and he was tricky as hell. With only a few words, he could get her to spill her feelings without her realizing she'd even opened her stupid mouth. But she'd chance a spilling today because she had no idea how to kick things off.He heaped a few pancakes onto his plate. "I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry. For every lie. For everything. And that I did it to protect you."A good start. She followed his lead and filled her plate, then proceeded to push the food around, pretending to eat. "To protect me from…?""The stigma of thinking your own mother was unbalanced. The thought that you had somehow…that you had…""Killed her?" The words croaked from Mary Ann's suddenly tight throat."Yes," he whispered. "You didn't, you know. It wasn't your fault."Her real mother, Anne—known to Aden as Eve— had died giving birth to her. That happened sometimes, right? No reason for her father to blame her. But then, he didn't know the whole truth. He didn't know that Mary Ann muted paranormal abilities.She had only just learned of it herself, and all she knew was that her mere presence prevented people—and creatures—from using their "gifts."If not for Aden, she never would have discovered even that. He was the biggest paranormal magnet of all time. (And if he wasn't, he should be. 'Cause anyone who was stronger—shudder.) Her mother had weakened each day of her pregnancy, little Mary Ann literally sucking the life right out of her. And then, at the moment of her birth, Anne/Eve had simply slipped away.Right into Aden, Mary Ann thought with a sigh. Aden, who had been born on the same day, in the same hospital. Aden, who had also drawn three other human souls—ghosts—right into his head.Only, Anne/Eve hadn't remembered Mary Ann right away, her memories wiped when she'd entered Aden. Once they'd figured everything out, her mom had been granted the thing she'd wanted most in life, that which she'd been denied by her death. A single day with Mary Ann. And once her mom had gotten her wish, she'd vanished. Never to be seen or heard from again. Stomach… churning…again…Her dad didn't know any of that, either, and Mary Ann wasn't going to tell him. He wouldn't believe her. He would think she was as "unbalanced" as her real mom had been."Mary Ann?" her dad prompted. "Please. Tell me how you're feeling. Tell me what you thought when I—"The doorbell rang, saving him from finishing and her from having to form a reply. Heart dancing wildly, she popped to her feet. Riley. He was here. "I'll get it," she said in a rush."Mary Ann."But she was already racing from the kitchen to the front door. The moment that thick cherry wood swung open, Riley visible through the netted screen, her stomach calmed completely.He smiled his bad boy smile, half wicked, half really wicked. "Hey.""Hey." Yep. Sexy. He had dark hair and light green eyes. He was tall, with the body of a dedicated, can't-be-sacked football player having an affair with weights. His shoulders were broad, his stomach roped. Tragically, she couldn't see those mouth-watering ropes under his black T-shirt. His jeans bagged a little on his strong legs, and he wore boots caked with dirt.Wait. Had she just given him a total body scan? Yep. Cheeks heating, she brought her gaze back to his face. Clearly, he was trying not to laugh."Do you approve?" he asked.The heat intensified. "Yes. But I wasn't done," she added. He wasn't beautiful in a male model kind of way, but he was ruggedly appealing, with a slightly crooked nose—probably from being broken so many times—and a strong jaw. And she had once kissed him, right on those gorgeous lips.When will we kiss again?She was ready. More than ready. That was the most fun her tongue had ever had.He opened his mouth to say something, then snapped it closed. Footsteps echoed behind her, and she turned. Her dad approached, her backpack dangling from his arm. She closed the distance between them, claimed the pack and stood on her tiptoes, kissing his cheek before she could talk herself out it."I'll see you later, Dad. Thanks for breakfast."The tension in his face eased just a bit. "See you later, honey. I hope you have a wonderful day.""You, too."His gaze shifted to the boy still standing in the doorway. "Riley," he acknowledged stiffly.They'd met once, but only briefly. Her dad didn't know it, but Riley was older than he was. By, like, a hundred years. As a shape-shifter, Riley aged slowly. Very, very slowly."Dr. Gray," Riley returned, respectful as always."Mary Ann," her dad said, attention returning to her. "You might want to take a jacket."It was the first of November and every day was a little colder than the last. But she said, "I'll be fine." Riley would keep her warm. "I promise." Pleasantries done, Mary Ann returned to the door, pushed the screen open with her shoulder, and grabbed Riley's warm, callusedhand. She shivered. She loved touching him. As a human and a wolf.As they walked, he confiscated her pack with his free hand."Thanks.""Not a problem."Morning was in full swing, though the sun was muted behind clouds and the sky a dark gray. Blackbirds were squawking continuously—they stayed in Crossroads all year round—and the air was cool and crisp. Still hand-in-hand, they bypassed the few houses surrounding hers.Each house was shaped like a train station of yore, with posts, decks, colored wood and sloped two-story roofs. Once they'd passed the very last one, they approached a brick wall about half a mile ahead, a heavily populated forest directly behind it. The trees there were thick, their leaves now yellow and red.Her dad assumed she and Riley took the long route to school, staying on well-traveled, paved roads. Not cutting through the forest. Her dad was wrong. Sometimes a girl needed to be alone with her boyfriend, with no prying eyes. Or ears. The walk to Crossroads High was one of those times."I can't believe how much time has passed since I last saw you," she said."I know. I'm sorry. Feels like eternity to me, too. I wanted to see you, believe me, but more vampires have been popping into the house in preparation for Vlad's funeral.""I'm sorry," she said softly, squeezing his hand. "About his death. I know you respected him.""Thank you. We have to wait fourteen days before we can hold the funeral—no, thirteen now, I guess. After that, Aden will be officially crowned king.""Why wait fourteen days for the funeral?" She did not want to imagine what the corpse would look like after lying around for two weeks.Riley shrugged. "He was king. The people want to make sure he's dead.""Wait. He could be alive?""No.""But you just said—""The people want to make sure he's dead, I know, but they're in shock, hopeful. Nothing like this has ever happened to them before."She could understand that. She'd been a mess after both her moms had died. "Aden will be happy to have a reprieve, at least. He's not looking forward to being king, I don't think.""Oh, he's already king, no doubt about that. Not even Vlad could recover from such a severe burning."Again she found herself saying, "But you just said—"

Editorial Reviews

"Simply wonderful. Reading The Program somehow reminded me of reading Shakespeare. Each page is so laden with verities that a slow read is mandated. So, read slow and thrive." -- Walter M. Bortz II, M.D., bestselling author of Dare to Be 100 and We Live Too Short and Die Too Long