Publication date: December 10th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Aeva Storm finally has the answers she’s been looking for since the night she was struck by lightning. She knows who she is—and more importantly, what she is. But her secret isn’t hers alone to keep, and some of those who know the truth will do anything to control her.
In the sequel to the acclaimed Violet Storm, Aeva must decide how far she’ll go to protect her identity and to find her missing sister in a world she hardly recognizes. She must embrace her new life—and her strange new body—if she hopes to save the only place she and her family have left to call home.
Filled with action, mystery, and heartbreak, Crimson Earth finds Aeva, Ruven, and Karth on opposing sides as the war between The False Alliance and the Monarchy draws near.
Can they band together to fight against the evil threatening the City? Or will they destroy each other before the war has even begun?
I wonder what they sound like when they’re breaking bones.
I climb up the ladder and open the latch door above me. Cold wind tunnels in, scooping me upward and onto the rooftop.
“You didn’t bring your pet guards with you, I trust?” Ruven’s arms are crossed, his profile outlined in the fading sun as he leans against a wall.
“And expose our little secret up here?”
“Our?” One imperious brow rises.
“Fine… yours.” I snort. “Since when do you care about semantics?”
He says nothing, just turns his chin further in the other direction.
“Since you stopped caring altogether, perhaps?” I offer. The weight of the metal rods suddenly feels comforting in my hands.
Don’t be cruel, girl, my father’s voice says and I flinch. I don’t often hear my father’s voice. Not since before his accident. After that night, he came home a changed man—a deadened one. Before then he’d always helped me see just how rough my edges were.
You’re here to offer comfort, remember?
My lips lift up from my teeth in a silent snarl. I remember why I’m here on this damn rooftop, over a hundred stories in the sky, the clouds floating just over my head. Give me a Fila ball and a bat and I can conquer any terrain of choice. This, however, is so not my thing.
The sky is alight with red-orange fire as the sun dips below the horizon. It bathes the City in a magical glow. Each of the high-rise buildings clustered in the epicenter, casts far-reaching shadows as if the sun is bending them backward into the earth, like a witch casting a demon back to wherever it came from.
For a brief moment, I close my eyes and imagine the landscape of Agria with its rolling hills, the earth cut up into straight-lined crops, single family homes lining the more densely populated streets.
The whistle of the floating Watchtower—a massive blimp soaring above us—bursts the fantasy.
I slowly make my way over to Ruven, walking in his long-cast shadow.
“Why are you here?” This time there is no bite to his words, only weariness.
“I’m here to talk.”
“Sorry, but I don’t feel like talking at the moment.”
“I was hoping you’d say that,” I say, my tone turning wry.
He turns to face me, his gaze immediately dropping to the batons. He slowly pushes away from the wall, his scowl deepening. For the first time I notice just how gaunt he looks. The savage yellowing beneath his lower lashes, the firm lines framing those bowed lips. His shoulders are stooped with an invisible burden, and behind those inhuman, feral eyes, is a look of profound hollowness. A stark ache, desperately reaching out. His soul so close and yet so infinitely far to the touch.
I look away, a pang of shame swelling behind my ribs.
“You see, I’m not very good at talking about things. But this…” I raise the glinting rods, finding comfort in their heaviness. “This, I am very good at.” I toss one of the batons to him and he catches it in mid-air.
“What is it?” He studies the long piece of metal that could be mistaken for a staff, holding it carefully as if it’s fragile.
“It’s a sparring tool.” I shrug. “Or a weapon. I suppose it depends on who’s holding it.”
“Where did it come from?” He stares at me. “Quintas?”
“Yes. More accurately, it came from a gigantic vault below the Archives, where there are thousands more of unique weapons that are probably best left locked away.”
He points with his chin at my clothes. “And what you’re wearing—is that from the Archives too?”
I smile and spread my palms open to give him a better view of the matching black trousers and long-sleeved shirt. The garment is light, breathable, and easy to maneuver in. The material is peculiar; with enough practice, one can literally move soundlessly. I imagine a really skilled assassin might have once worn this outfit to keep her invisible in the shadows. “It’s also for sparring,” I say.
His crimson eyes glow with sudden interest, but in the next instant, the light within them fades. Like a candle being blown out. Even talk of weapons and history can’t hold his curiosity for long. Quintas is right; whatever is happening with Ruven, it’s getting worse.
“Enough talk,” I say. I shift my feet into a fighting stance, bracing my hands on the grip of the baton, raising it up like one might raise a sword.
He scoffs but his hands remain loose at his sides, the baton hanging limply.
My shoulders tense, my feet aware of the weight of my body, every muscle poised for action. He can sense it.
“Don’t…” Ruven growls.
For a few long, tense moments, we stand there, watching each other with calm, wary eyes, our bodies motionless.
Having offered no indication whatsoever that I’m about to engage, I leap, injecting Modi strength into the action with the rod high over my head. I swing downward. He blocks the move in time, and the sound of the two rods colliding splits the air with a sharp ting. The force of the blow makes my hands tremble; the vibrations rattle my bones. When this is over, they’ll be sore.
Anna Soliveres has always been a storyteller but it wasn't until her early twenties when she began writing novel length works. The result was an enthusiasm to get better at the craft until her work could be shared with the world. Released in March 2014, VIOLET STORM is her debut novel. The sequel, CRIMSON EARTH releases Dec. 2015. Anna is currently working on another young adult sci-fi series, titled SNOW DOLLS. To learn more, please visit her at www.annasoliveres.com.
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