Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.
As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.
To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.
Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.
Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.
His lungs burned like hot coals in his chest as he ran. Although he would have preferred just about any other method of climbing to his destination, the thick surrounding trees prevented it. The terrain was treacherous, marked with jagged-edged rocks made wet and slick from a recent thunder-storm. The lack of moonlight on the hot night was a mixed blessing. He couldn’t see very well where he was going, but he hoped the cloak of darkness would offer him some camouflage from his pursuers.
He was eternally grateful that the bundle in his arms didn’t squall or otherwise make noise that would surely give away their position. It made his task at least mildly easier.
Before he had started this last leg of his journey, he had seen his two companions off safely. That was another blessing on this otherwise cursed day. Knowing they had achieved that much of their mission gave him hope that he could finish this.
As he leaped over another boulder, the baby he carried in a special harness across his chest made a small cooing sound. Compared to his booted footfalls, the noise was nearly inaudible. But panic soared through him nonetheless. If that coo was the predecessor to a fit of screaming or crying, he knew all would be lost.
Thankfully, there was no more noise from the baby. His gaze darted across the shadows as he plowed on, knowing that he couldn’t see nearly as well in this environment as his enemies. They were, after all, suited to shadows.
Finally, his goal came into sight. The light surrounding the location would not be visible to his pursuers, but it stood out to him like a beacon. It was a site used only in extreme emergencies because the results of using it varied so widely.
This certainly constituted an emergency.
His breath leaving him in sharp bursts, he ran straight for the light. And as he got to within feet of it, he nearly failed to notice the weapon aimed for his midsection.
For the baby.
He leaped. The weapon struck his leg, but missed its target. As he once again hit the ground, pain speared through his injured leg, bringing him to one knee. He did what he could to cradle the newborn as he fought to regain his footing.
But he wasn’t quick enough. This time, he felt the lance of pain sear through his lower back. He knew, out here in the wilderness as he was, it was a fatal blow.
He had failed. And as a result, it would be the child who suffered.
Pulling on every bit of experience and training he had, he staggered away from his enemy toward the light only he could see. Moving with as much speed as he could manage, he unsecured the baby from the harness. He heard the sound of the weapon singing through the night air as it targeted his neck. He brought forth his second power even as he made one final lurch and thrust the baby into the light with a brilliant flash.
As he died, he could only hope his final act was enough to protect the future of his kind.
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