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416 pages, Kindle Edition
First published December 17, 2013
“Why’d you name me Riven? It’s so horrible,” I was wailing. “It’s not even pretty. It’s ugly, like me.”
“I mean, you look like me, well, except the hair. Yours has green and blue in it,” he points out. I touch the strands and remember that I’d dyed it four schools before, after the incident with the police.Keep your transportation to something unobtrusive. Like an old car, nothing like a flashy, extremely expensive racing motorcycle. Nothing like...a Ducati.
...I reach the empty parking lot where [my] Ducati is parked...Naturally, you have to get along with your classmates. Not be super super close friends with them or anything, but friendly enough not to attract negative attention.
“I get it. You don’t like being touched, you want to be alone, and you’re not looking for any friends.”
“Guys, this is Riven. New girl,” Caden says to his friends with a wide grin. “But be warned–”
“Hey, I’m Jake,” a redheaded boy interrupts with a smile. Jake trails off at the dark scowl on my face.
“As I was saying, just don’t mention her riding skills or ask her about anything personal; she gets a little touchy about that. And she’s not interested in making friends, so forget I introduced her and move along.”
[Sadie] shoots me a look that would incinerate a building. “Well, you should stick to pants. Dresses don’t really suit dykes,” she says nastily.You would never be so petty as to slut shame someone you barely know.
...the girl tosses an icy smile in my direction, her designer white pants like a second skin and a pink shirt unbuttoned enough to show a lacy pink bra, leaving little to the imagination.You're on a secret mission, helped along by deus ex fucking machina because everything falls into your fucking lap. There are no questions asked. There is no suspicion. You are rescued by the boy (Caden) you are intended to save. You are practically INVITED to live with him and his aunt. His aunt, who is a medical doctor. His aunt. Who is a medical doctor who is completely fooled by the bullshit medical excuse you give her. And you're not suspicious at all.
But I know that I owe them both some kind of explanation for my bizarre behavior...and for the injector that looks like it comes from some kind of super advanced robotics lab.You're such a powerful fighter! You move like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
“Mine is a little more complicated,” I say. “I’m not allergic to bees or food. It’s a...a genetic brain thing."
I spring backward to compensate and bang my still-healing ankle into the desk chair next to the bed.You are fierce! You are strong!
I’m faster and fiercer than anyone else. I’m death in a girl’s body.So strong that you just flutter to the ground in a faint.
I can feel myself shutting down. I should have rested today, stayed in bed and given myself a chance to recuperate from the jump, but I’d been stupid, arrogant. My eyes slip shut.And you faint again!
There is nothing but darkness...inexorably closing in.And yet again!
“Where am I? What happened?”
“You went into circulatory shock and you fainted.”
It’s my last thought before I slip into an unwelcome oblivion.You are such a competent fighter. You are always on guard. You never, ever let yourself relax for a single moment. You are the perfect soldier, really.
The cold tip of an electro-rod presses against the soft spot just beneath my ear, and my body freezes.You are so utterly competent as a soldier that you don't have to do any fighting at all. Things just drop dead by deus ex fucking machina just like that! With a single command, the battle is won.
I feel a sharp zap against my skin, and then the darkness blinds me.
“No!” I scream. “Cease! That is an order.”And yet again.
To my utter disbelief, both Vectors stop, turning in dumb submission toward me.
With a deep breath, I raise the staff I took off Vector Shae and prepare to do battle.Well, isn't that just fucking convenient. You are such a fucking competent, a bloody brilliant general that you hardly have to fucking fight at all. And when you're in a jam, naturally, someone will save your fucking ass, O Legion Fucking General.
But then the unexpected happens.
Every single one of the Vectors stops in their tracks, their arms and weapons falling to their sides, eyes going blank and dull.
I can feel my cells desperately trying to re-engage, when the incongruity of the situation hits me. Caden’s the one protecting me.You are from a country where there's been some vague Tech War. No idea what happened, but the nation has been devastated, but you guys live under a glass dome. Water is a scarcity. You've been living in the United States for years, with our abundance of water. You've presumably showered. You've presumably seen swimming pools. It's been YEARS. YEARS. The use of water shouldn't be a big deal anymore. But you, you're a fucking special one, aren't you? You are impressed by the excessive waste of water used in a WATERBED. A waterbed! Never say so! My god, how did you manage to survive all those showers and go to school with kids who must surely carry water around with them everywhere they go without knocking it out of their hands? Imagine if you saw a fucking sprinkler!
“It’s just a waterbed. They’re supposed to be soggy.”Your nation is so fucking awesome that everyone is trained to fight! Men, women, all are trained in the art of combat at a young age. Riven herself has been a killer since she was a toddler.
“A water what?” The thought is inconceivable to me...a bed with water in it. When I think of the scarcity and the high cost of water where I come from, the thought of the overindulgence of Caden’s bed makes me physically sick.
I was lightning-fast and held the advantage of having held a sword before the age of two.
Danseuses are nothing more than paid female escorts, paid to entertain wealthy citizens of NeospesNaturally, when you go under cover, you have to go in disguise as an exotic dancer, because fulfilling a mission in your ratty soldier uniform is a fucking no-no!
Strange dark-gold extensions have been applied and braided intricately with sweet-smelling blossoms into my own hair. My skin has been oiled to a gilded sheen and colored shimmery dust applied to my eyes and cheeks. The women gesture for me to step into my costume – a filmy white and silver getup that looks like some kind of confection instead of a dress.Naturally, your lover boy Caden gets to wear normal clothes when you're dressed as fucking Princess Leia.
Your girlfriend isn’t a bitch?”Well, isn't he just the fucking catch of the day. I mean, he would actually hold you close on his bed when he's still with her.
A laugh. “No, she is, but Sadie’s harmless. Remind me to tell you about it later.”
A shiver runs through me, and warm fingers slide against my wrist. The shiver deepens. The waterbed shifts, rolling me upward as Caden turns on his side to face me. I can feel him staring at me, but I keep my eyes glued to the ceiling. His fingers skim downward to cover my closed fist in his hand.And he loves you so much, he's such a goddamned sweetheart that he would play a lovely game of tongue twister and tonsil hockey with you while he's still got a girlfriend. And you're a willing participant in cheating.
My breaths get shorter and shorter, and suddenly his mouth is crushed against my lips.Your romance is beautiful. Earth-shattering. Never mind how it got there. Your love is overwhelming to the point that it compromises a crucial mission to save your people.
The grating sound of the trash bin grinding across the floor pierces through the fog encasing us both, and I open languorous eyes to see [Caden's girlfriend] Sadie, her body shaking with rage.
“What the fuck is going on?”
“Caden,” I begin.Fuck you both.
“Mmm,” he says, trailing more kisses up my arm. But before I can continue, the sound of a door slamming jerks me into action. I shove Caden to one side and press my fingers urgently against his lips, my eyes wide. Someone is outside.
How could I have been so reckless?