Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

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Prologue


Windshield wipers struggled back and forth, clumped with snow.

The mingled breath of three teenagers fought with the defroster. Thank God the truck was still running, even after they'd driven it through a wall.

"So you're sending us somewhere you know there's a traitor." Graves's chin dipped even further, resting harder on the top of my head. I thought about all this, felt nothing but a faint, weary surprise. Christophe sighed, "I've got friends at the Schola—they'll watch over her just as I would. She'll be perfectly safe. And while she's there, she can help me find whoever's feeding information to Sergej. She's been drafted."

Graves tensed. "What if she doesn't want to?"

"Then you won't last a week out there on your own. If Ash doesn't find you, someone else will. The secret's out. If Sergej knows, other suckers know there's another svetocha. They'll hunt her down and rip her heart out." The windshield wipers flicked on. "Dru? Do you hear me? I'm sending you somewhere safe, and I'll be in touch."

"I think she hears you." Graves sighed. "What about her truck? And all her stuff?"

"I'll make sure they get to the Schola too. The important thing is to get her out of here before the sun goes down and Sergej can rise renewed. He's not dead, just driven into a dark hole and very angry."

"How are we going to—"

"Shut up." He didn't say it harshly or unkindly, but Graves did shut up. "Dru? You're listening."

Oh God, leave me alone. But I raised my head, looked at the dash. There really was no option. Hair fell in my face, the curls slicked down with damp, behaving for once. "Yeah." It sounded like I had something caught in my throat. The word was just a husk of itself. "I heard."

"You were lucky. You ever put yourself in danger like that again and I'll make you regret it. Clear?"

He sounded just like Dad. The familiarity was like a spike in my chest. "Clear," I managed around it. My entire body ached, even my hair. I was wet and cold, and the memory of the sucker's dead eyes and oddly wrong, melodious voice burrowed into my brain. It wouldn't let go. That thing killed my father. Turned him into a zombie. And Mom . . . "My mother." The same husky, flat tone. Shock. Maybe I was in shock. I heard a lot about shock from Dad.



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