Kady Cross Sisters of Blood and Spirit

ISBN 13: 9780373211487

Sisters of Blood and Spirit

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9780373211487: Sisters of Blood and Spirit
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Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living. 

Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands—the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn't exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she's not ready to join her sister in the afterlife. 

Now the guy who saved Lark's life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins—who should know better than to mess with the dead—may be their only hope of staying alive.

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About the Author:

Kady Cross, publishing under various names, is a USA TODAY bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Harlequin TEEN's Steampunk Chronicles. She is lucky enough to have a husband who shares her love for the slightly twisted and all things geek, and a houseful of cats with whom she shares her darkest secrets. Her love of books and makeup borders on addiction—of which she never, ever wants to be cured. Visit her on the web at www.alterkate.com or on Twitter: @AlterKates.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

LARK

The scars on my wrists itched. I curled my fingers and tugged on my cuffs as I rubbed my arms against my jeans. Everyone stared at me as I walked down the hall. Maybe not everyone, but enough to make me lift my chin and straighten my shoulders. I glared back. Most of them looked away. Don't provoke the crazy girl. At Bell Hill, no one had looked at me.

I'd thought my second day of high school would be easier than the first, but it was worse. Gossip had spread, and now everyone knew who I was and what I'd done.

I scared them—it was obvious. Even the ones who smirked at me or made remarks were afraid. They wanted to look tough to their friends. Hey, if making fun of me made them feel strong, then they obviously had their own problems.

I'd known some of them for most of my life. New Devon wasn't a very big town, and at one time I'd been a popular kid. In day care and elementary school everyone had wanted to play with me and my sister the ghost. I wish I could have seen my own face the first time someone told me I was too old to have an imaginary friend anymore.

Imaginary? The word echoed in my head. People applied terms like overly imaginative when I was still young. Eventually they began to say things like, "dissociative,"

"delusional" and my personal favorite, "troubled." No shit. There had never been a teenager in the history of the world that wasn't troubled by something. It was kind of our thing.

I walked past a small group of girls clustered in front of a section of lockers painted in the school colors of purple and gray. They drew back, as though I was contagious. They didn't say anything—didn't even giggle. If they'd been mean I would have been more comfortable.

I didn't hang my head. I had nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe I'd made a couple of bad choices, but they had been mine.

I wasn't crazy. I might be a freak, but I wasn't crazy, and I never had been. I had proof of that, and other people knew it, too—not many, but enough.

As luck would have it, my locker was just a few down from where the girls stood watching me warily. I stopped and opened it, placing my bag inside so I could take out what I needed for my first class.

"Why are we here?" my twin sister, Wren, asked. She stood by the locker next to mine, arms crossed over her chest. Her vivid red hair fell over her shoulders in a straight curtain that required absolutely no work—no style she wanted ever did, because it was of her making. There weren't any hair styling tools in the Shadow Lands.

I didn't respond. Talking out loud to someone no one else could see would make them all think they were right, that I was still crazy. I was supposed to be cured. That was the only way the school would take me back. Although, at that moment, I had to wonder as well what the hell I was doing there.

Oh, right. My parents didn't want me, so I'd had no choice but to move in with my grandmother in my old hometown while Mom and Dad had a fresh and shiny new life in Massachusetts. My mother just couldn't deal with the fact that I could see and interact with Wren. Not because she thought I was lying, but because she was mad Wren didn't talk to her.

I wasn't cured. I wasn't crazy, either. But there was just no easy way to explain why Wren was there with me—she'd been dead since the day we were born. I came out breathing and she...didn't. I think someone made a mistake somewhere along the way, because my hair was stark white and hers was deep, vivid red. I should be the ghost, not her. God—if there was one who even cared—knew I liked the dead a lot more than the living most days. Other than our hair and style, we were identical, to the point that if I dyed my hair her color even we'd get confused over who was who.

For years my relationship with Wren was seen as cute if not sad—a little girl playing with her "imaginary" dead twin. As I got older, my knowing things about how people died because "Wren told me" made me look weird, guilty even. People would ask me to communicate with their dead relatives, but it was Wren who did all the legwork.

People called me a liar. Called me crazy. Called me a freak. Eventually, I began to believe them. That was when I got desperate and made the scars on my wrists.

I closed my locker and walked down the hall, pushing my way through the crowd of teeming hormones. People stared. Some said things. I ignored them, staring straight ahead. I just wanted to get this day over with. These people didn't matter; I knew who and what I was.

I just didn't know why.

"I suppose you have to ignore me while you're here, don't you?" My sister sighed—rather dramatically I thought. She knew the drill. The time I'd spent locked up made her a lit-tle...needy. Other than me she didn't have anyone to talk to except an old woman who stuck around to watch over her family and a crazy man from the 1700s who liked to haunt his old house just for the hell of it. Although, I think she'd have more friends if she wasn't with me all the time. Unfortunately, the few other "nice" ghosts we'd had contact with had moved on once we did what they asked of us, and hanging out with the scary ones wasn't an option.

"Mmm." It was the only response I could make without anyone noticing.

"Fine. I'm going to the library. I'll find you later." With that, she walked through a wall and was gone. I hated when she did that—mostly because I couldn't.

I followed the swarm, rounding a corner toward what would be my homeroom for the rest of this year. A small group of kids were gathered against the wall just a few feet away. A few guys—mostly girls. Seniors. I could tell just by looking at them—they had that faint smug superiority of knowing they had to make it only until June and then they were free, done with the insane asylum that was high school.

I might have sneered at them as I walked by if one of the guys hadn't raised his head and looked right at me.

I froze. It was just a second, but I froze like he was a speeding car and I was a raccoon out for an evening stroll on the center line. Mason Ryan was even more gorgeous than he had been the last time I'd seen him, a fact for which I resolved then and there to despise him. Gold-streaked brown hair, hazel eyes—and lips no guy deserved to have. Black button-down and jeans. He was one of those guys who was so beautiful it hurt to look at him.

But it hurt for other reasons. I needed to avoid him if I could—and not just because his father was chief of police. Mace and I had a secret. Well, not really a secret. A few people in town knew that he had been the one to find me bleeding out on the floor, but knowing and understanding were two different things. Nobody but he and I knew exactly what we'd shared, and it would always be there, lingering between us like a breath.

One of the girls with him turned to look at me, as well. She had a nasty-looking scratch on the side of her face that kept her from being model-gorgeous. I barely glanced at her; my attention was solely on Mace. The sight of him made me want to puke, tied my gut up in knots and shoved bile into the back of my throat.

Funny how much sick tasted like shame.

Mace didn't look as though he felt much better. I didn't want to think of the state I'd been in that day when he'd held me in his arms and begged me not to die on him because he'd have to live with that. He straightened away from the wall he'd been leaning against, and took a step forward—toward me. Ohhh, no. Not today. Not ever, if I could help it.

I broke into a sprint, straight into the classroom where I found a seat at the back of the room and dropped into it, trying to keep my heart in my chest. A few heads turned to look at me. Whispers and coy glances exchanged. Let them talk. I didn't care. My heart hammered and my stomach twitched, but I was safe for the time being. As safe as I could be in a small Connecticut town where everyone knew practically everyone else, and even if they didn't they still talked about them.

"Lark?"

Now what? I looked up, turned my head. Sitting right across from me was a familiar face—tanned skin, dark eyes and even darker hair. She smiled at me. I almost smiled back. Almost. "Rox."

Roxi Taylor was a month or two younger than me and was always very friendly—like crazy-ass friendly. It would be easy to dismiss her as fake, but she really was just a good, sweet person.

I didn't get it.

People like me, who could see things other people couldn't, didn't get to be ignorant of human nature for long—not when people either wanted to use you or hurt you. I'd tried to hate Roxi for years, but it just wouldn't take, and that part of me that distrusted everyone wanted very badly to distrust her, but could never quite manage it, even though I was sure that no one could be that nice all the time. But Roxi had never asked me for anything—ever. Never made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I always wondered what was wrong with her that she wanted to be my friend.

She grinned—she'd gotten her braces off since the last time I'd seen her—and threw her arms around me. "It's so good to see you!"

Shit. I did not want this attention, but it would be a lie if I said it wasn't nice to find someone who was happy to see me, that part of me didn't want to hug her back. It didn't matter that a little voice inside screamed for me not to trust her. I let myself have that moment.

"Dykes," someone muttered.

A few laughs followed. Then someone else said, "Don't, man. She's like, the angel of death or something."

I pulled away from Roxi and turned to face our audience. What annoyed me more than the smirks were the few expressions of genuine fear. I mean, sometimes being thought of as scary was a good thing, but having people be scared of you was different, especially when I hadn't given them any reason to be afraid.

Yet.

"If I was the angel of death, you think I'd be here?"

They seemed to consider this, their shared brain struggling to make the connection.

"Why are you here?" A blond guy with a big zit on his chin asked. From his voice I knew he was the same one who'd made the "dyke" remark. His name was Aaron or Albert or something. I remembered him from last year. "Shouldn't you be locked up with the rest of the retards?"

Heat rushed to my cheeks as people laughed, but I didn't look away. Homeschooling was the only way I'd been able to return to my correct year. I'd busted my ass to not get left behind. Wren had been right there with me.

"They kicked me out because they needed room for your mother." Lame, but it was the first thing that came to mind. "And I'm not retarded, asshole. I'm crazy—there's a difference. Which you'd know if your parents weren't brother and sister." More laughter, but this time it was for me, not against me.

Andrew—that was his name—turned red, which only made that ugly zit stand out more. I wanted to smack it with the heel of my shoe while my foot was still inside, bust it wide-open. Gross, right? "Bitch."

I raised a brow. "Seriously? That's the best you can do?"

A hand settled on my arm. I looked down, expecting it to be Roxi. It wasn't. It was Wren. Damn.

"Who are you looking at?" Andrew demanded. Then his expression turned mean—happily mean. "Is your sister here? Your dead sister?"

In books, the hero's blood sometimes "turns to ice" in his or her veins, but that's not right. It's not the blood that freezes, it's everything around it, so that your blood actually feels like hot razor blades ripping through your entire body. I lifted my head. What laughter there was gave way to uneasy, half-assed giggles. "Don't talk about my sister."

I shouldn't have said anything.

"How did she die anyway?" Andrew asked with a mocking grin. "I bet your mother saw that there was two of you and lost her shit. Did she know that she killed the wrong one? It should have been you she killed."

No one had killed Wren, she had been stillborn, and our mother had never gotten over her loss. And yeah, I wondered if the wrong one had died all the damn time.

Beside me Wren's shape shimmered, like the edges of her were fraying. It was what happened when she got mad. Really mad. She picked up on my emotions like I'd dropped them on the floor in front of her. It meant I had to be really careful when I lied to her.

Her anger picked up my hair like a breeze.

"Don't," I whispered.

"Oh, are you going to cry?" Andrew pressed in a whiny voice. "Did I upset you?"

I met his gaze with a hard glare as warmth spread through me—a dry summer breeze on a hot beach. Oh, hell. I'd promised myself this wouldn't happen. It was only the second freaking day! Wren settled in, her spirit fitting me perfectly, like a glove tailor-made for a hand. She smiled, using my lips. "She wasn't talking to you." It wasn't my voice—it was lower, softer.

Andrew frowned. "What.?"

I hated when Wren possessed me without asking, but she was so powerful—like nothing I'd ever felt before. I felt strong—invincible—when we were joined together like this.

The lights flickered. Concerned murmurs rose up. People glanced at me. I shrugged—crazy didn't affect the electricity. The lights flickered again—then the fire alarm went off, shrieking like a banshee. Hoots and cheers filled the air. Fire alarm on the second day—a lovely way to start the year. Everyone tore from the room, and Roxi didn't wait for me—smart girl. Andrew rose from his seat, but I stopped him by grabbing his wrist.

My sister was strong. Inhumanly strong. Under my fingers, Andrew's wrist felt as fragile as dry twigs. He tried to tug free. "Let me go, freak!"

"Sit down," Wren commanded through my mouth. He wasn't as stupid as he looked, because he did what he was told.

"Good boy," I said, rising to my feet. Wren slipped out of me as easily as she'd entered. I felt her loss like someone had taken my eye or a limb. It never got any easier. She had physical contact now, sorta, and it was better if I didn't stick around. "You just sit there a minute. There's someone who wants to meet you."

Andrew lifted his gaze to mine as I gathered my things. He didn't look so smug now. "Wh-who?"

"My sister," I told him, smiling just a little when he looked down at his wrist, still in Wren's ghostly grip. He had to feel the cold fingers biting into his skin even though he couldn't see them. "You know—my dead sister?"

I walked to the door, Wren's low voice following my every step as she whispered words I couldn't make out. I hesitated when I heard Andrew whimper.

"Go," my sister told me.

I didn't look, I just kept walking.

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Book Description Harlequin Teen, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Original ed.. Language: English. Brand new Book. Wren Noble is dead--she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living. Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands--the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn't exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she's not ready to join her sister in the afterlife. Now the guy who saved Lark's life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins--who should know better than to mess with the dead--may be their only hope of staying alive. Seller Inventory # AAS9780373211487

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Book Description Harlequin Teen, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Original ed.. Language: English. Brand new Book. Wren Noble is dead--she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living. Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands--the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn't exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she's not ready to join her sister in the afterlife. Now the guy who saved Lark's life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins--who should know better than to mess with the dead--may be their only hope of staying alive. Seller Inventory # AAS9780373211487

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