Feversong, p.1
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       Feversong, p.1

         Part #9 of Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
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Feversong


  Feversong is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2017 by Karen Marie Moning

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

  DELACORTE PRESS and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Background art on title page, part openers, and chapter openers by iStock.com/Cloudniners

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Moning, Karen Marie, author.

  Title: Feversong : a Fever novel / Karen Marie Moning.

  Description: New York : Delacorte Press, 2017. | Series: Fever ; 9

  Identifiers: LCCN 2016042486| ISBN 9780425284353 (hardback) | ISBN 9780425284360 (ebook)

  Subjects: LCSH: Paranormal romance stories. | BISAC: FICTION / Romance / Paranormal. | FICTION / Fantasy / Paranormal. | FICTION / Romance / Fantasy. | GSAFD: Fantasy fiction.

  Classification: LCC PS3613.O527 F49 2017 | DDC 813/.6—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016042486

  Ebook ISBN 9780425284360

  randomhousebooks.com

  Book design by Caroline Cunningham, adapted for ebook

  Cover design: Eileen Carey

  Cover photographs: Shutterstock

  v4.1

  ep

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Glossary Alert

  Part I

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Part II

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Part III

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Part IV

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Author’s Note

  Dedication

  Acknowledgments

  Glossary

  By Karen Marie Moning

  About the Author

  If this is the first book you’ve picked up in the Fever Series, at the end of this novel I’ve included a guide of People, Places, and Things to illuminate the backstory.

  If you’re a seasoned reader of the series, the guide will reacquaint you with notable events and characters, what they did, if they survived, and if not, how they died.

  If you’re reading an ebook, factor this into your expectation of when the story ends, which is a bit before the final page count.

  You can either read the guide first, getting acquainted with the world, or reference it as you go along to refresh your memory. The guide features characters by type, followed by places, then things.

  MAC

  My philosophy is pretty simple—any day I’m not killing somebody is a good day in my book.

  I haven’t had many good days lately.

  I reflect on the highlights of the past year:

  July 5, the day my sister, Alina, called my cellphone and left a frantic message that I ended up not hearing until weeks later. She was murdered, abandoned in a trash-filled alley shortly after she placed that call.

  August 3, the night I arrived in Dublin, saw my first Fae monster behind the glamour and realized either I was crazy or the world was. Turns out the world was but that didn’t help much.

  September: an entire month vanished during a single afternoon in Faery, playing volleyball with an illusion of my dead sister.

  October 3, I was tortured and nearly killed by the vampire-wannabe Mallucé in his hellish grotto beneath the Burren. That’s the night I learned to eat the flesh of dark Fae for its healing properties and the enormous strength it bestowed.

  October 31, Halloween, the night the walls between man and Fae came crashing down, I was gang-raped by four Unseelie princes and turned into a mindless shell of a woman, an addict to Fae sex.

  November, December, and part of January are calendar pages ripped cleanly from my mind, leaving no memory at all, until I surfaced from being hellishly Pri-ya to find I’d spent all that time in bed with Jericho Barrons.

  Then there’s that date I’ll never know—impossible to gauge the day, year, or even century in the Silvers—when I killed Barrons and, believing him dead, became a woman obsessed with obtaining the Sinsar Dubh so I could re-create a world with him in it.

  More of January and February: lost in the Silvers, working with the enemy, the Lord Master, plotting my revenge.

  May 11, the night I learned the girl I loved like a sister was the one who’d killed my sister.

  May 16, the day we reinterred the Sinsar Dubh in the underground chamber at the abbey and I discovered V’lane was really Cruce, one of my four rapists, and that I’d been working all along with the most cunning, dangerous Unseelie prince in existence.

  June 26, the day I chased Dani into the Hall of All Days, a place I didn’t dare follow. If I had a do-over, I’d leap through that damned Silver and chase her anyway, despite the formidable odds.

  July 22, I discovered who Jada was, and that my brilliant, effervescent, spunkalicious Dani was gone, leaving behind a controlled, humorless, stone-cold killer.

  Now, I add another date to my grim tally.

  One year five days after I first touched my well-pedicured foot to Ireland’s wild soil—August 8: the day the Sinsar Dubh won. And all it had to do to defeat me was wait patiently, quasiquietly, with gentle nudges here and there, until I mindfucked myself into crossing that forbidden line. It took my hostile squatter a mere two and a half months from the day I buried the corporeal Book beneath the abbey to seduce me into opening it.

  I’d spent most of that time sleuthing for a spell to summon the Unseelie King and demand he reclaim his Book from inside me, withdrawing from Barrons and the world, becoming a shell of who I was—all because I’d been afraid the Sinsar Dubh might somehow trick me into opening it.

  It had.

  I understand something now: that which we fear, we somehow beckon near and engage in a dance, as toxically intimate as a pair of suspicious lovers. Perhaps it’s because deep down we want to
face it. Perhaps it’s just the way the universe works; we’re magnetized waltzers and our hopes and fears emit some kind of electrical impulses that attract all that we dream, and all that we dread. We live and die on a dance floor of our own making.

  Here, now, drifting where it’s silent and still, I begin to apprehend with acute clarity every single thing I did wrong.

  A WAREHOUSE IN A DARK ZONE, DUBLIN, IRELAND

  I rise.

  Or try to. Jada crashes into me with a muffled grunt then her hands are on me, everywhere, touching, patting and pulling, undoing my restraints, and the sensation is too much. My body is hypersensitive.

  Finally, she frees my hands. I push her away and open my eyes. Too fast, too much. Light thrusts cruel needles into my brain.

  I close my eyes swiftly. Scents assault me: the acrid odor of the Sweeper’s minions, concrete and dust, chemicals and sweat.

  “Turn off the lights,” I say.

  “Why?” Jada says.

  “I have a headache.” I wait without moving as she hurries about the warehouse, extinguishing the blinding lights the Sweeper arranged for our surgery.

  Once I sense diminished brilliance beyond my lids, I open my eyes again. Tolerable.

  “Mac, what did you do?” Jada exclaims. “They’re gone. Just gone!”

  Sound impacts the delicate structure of my ears as if she’s taken a gong to a shield. Not gone. The Sweeper and his minions were displaced, still nearby. I say, “A simple spell of sifting—backward, not forward.” No Fae has the power to fold things into the future, and only the king and I possess this small way to manipulate the past. In a matter of minutes the Sweeper will be here again, at our operating tables. But I intend to be gone.

  I. Intend.

  I rise. My body doesn’t move as planned. It shudders, flops, and goes limp. “Stiff from being on the table so long,” I tell Jada, who watches me with narrowed eyes. I contract my abdomen, bend at the waist, stabilize my upper body, rotate my hips and shift my legs as a unit over the side of the gurney and touch my feet to the floor.

  I stand.

  I AM.

  Desire. Lust. Greed. And the path I choose to supremacy.

  Master of adaptation and evolution, I slide more surely in my skin with each breath, enjoying the complex albeit imperfect elegance of what I possess. I inhale long and slow, swelling first my abdomen then lungs with air. Breathing brings an assault of unfathomable stenches, but I will acclimate.

  Everything MacKayla Lane experienced is filed in my meticulous mental vault, but during my incarceration in her body I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t smell.

  I was—as she is now—trapped in a dark silent prison, my only connection to the world an attachment I forged to her central nervous system, through supremacy of will and relentless trial and failure. My existence was a smattering of complex electrical charges, intricate patterns without substance. Although I spied on her life as much as possible, I was able to seize use of her body, hands, and eyes only once, for brief duration. All else was diluted, secondhand perception absorbed from within except on that overcast rainy day I killed the Gray Woman and Mick O’Leary.

  The power. The glory. That was the day I knew I would win. Those clumsy, debilitating hours I rode a body for the first time.

  I require time to perfect control.

  I. Require.

  I draw myself up inside, gathering the enormity, the ancientness, the hunger and storm of my existence, and expand into the imperfect biological vessel I’ve claimed, saturating, possessing, every atom. I fill my blood, my bones, my skin.

  I turn the full force of my regard upon Jada, blink once, and reveal myself. My eyes, reflected in the stainless steel door of a commercial freezer unit behind her, fill with obsidian until no white remains. Around me the very air cools; I have such presence.

  She changes color. Fear impacts the nerves that connect brain to heart, constricting circulation. The blood vanishes from her face, leaving freckles upon snow. Her eyes widen, her pupils dilate and freeze. The scent of her body alters to one I find…intriguing.

  I experience all of this with my own senses. It’s incomparable. My mere existence embedded within this stolen skin reprograms the anatomy of those around me.

  Power.

  I was made for it.

  I would prefer to shred her flesh from bone but several things prevent me. I smile with my new face.

  “I would run if I were you,” I tell her softly.

  She does, lightning fast. No hesitation, no debilitating deliberation. There one moment, gone the next. Among humans, she is superior.

  I covet her speed and dexterity. MacKayla Lane would call it “freeze-framing.” If I could eat Jada and absorb her talent, I would ignore those things that stay my hand.

  There is something else I can eat. Clever MacKayla. Flawed MacKayla. Those that fall pave the way for my ascendance. When one begins at the bottom, ascendance is a given.

  I depart the warehouse and enter the gloomy day.

  I enter.

  I am. The Sweeper will appear shortly. Not even I have the power to destroy that one.

  I’d contemplated pretending to be MacKayla, living among them, infiltrating their circle while pursuing my goals, but deemed the risk of discovery too high. Concealing my brilliance, feigning to be so much less—impossible. Besides, I am a newly forged sword and will surely benefit from time with hammer and fire.

  Time, my enemy, my ally. I have precious little of the commodity to implement my plan. Expediency is directly proportionate to success. When opponents war, the strongest and swiftest wins. I am already the former and intend to be the latter.

  Until they hunt me, time is my ally. I possess the weapon to accomplish all my goals. I prize the spear, I loathe it. It might damage me. Its weight beneath my arm both reassures and repulses.

  Singing softly beneath my breath—one of MacKayla’s favorites, “Sh-boom, sh-boom, life could be a dream sweetheart”—I move down an alley, around a corner, proceeding to my first objective. My map of Dublin, once an amalgam of neural currents, now has visual latitude and longitude. While MacKayla wandered aimless, I did not. I was paying attention.

  What a sorry experiment she was. I desired so much more.

  Unwavering laser-focus on one’s goals is power. Humans rarely achieve it, infesting their garden with the cultivated parasites of empathy, compassion, mercy, nurturing the grubs of guilt and penance, heaping emotional fertilizer on every acre of arable, marchable, conquerable land until nothing remains but the sky-high, sickly weeds of their stunted vision. A blind gardener reaps no crop, escapes no predator.

  We are desire, lust, greed, and the path we choose to supremacy.

  Humans romanticize this truth. Fact: they desire sex. Fact: they desire limiting that vessel from having sex with others. Fact: they create a ritual called marriage and an illusion called love to validate their greed and bid for supremacy over the object of their lust.

  WE ARE DESIRE, LUST, GREED, AND THE PATH WE CHOOSE TO SUPREMACY. Take notes. Cretins. Idiots. Call it what it is. Then go forth and fucking conquer.

  There are currently two Unseelie princes and one princess living. They will die. I permit none between my throne and me.

  My body is human, not prince. Pity. A Fae form would eradicate irksome limitations. But there were no princes available the night I seized the opportunity for escape. I lack wings to soar into the sky, slash Death’s throat with my spear and douse the fire below with his blood.

  But my first victim knows MacKayla and will come to her unaware she is me.

  I giggle. “Surprise,” I murmur, envisioning the moment.

  I spy the first of my children, offspring of the spells I am as I exit the Dark Zone. They are more my seed than they ever were the penitent king’s. Oxymoron that. A true king knows no penitence, bows to nothing and no one.

  All of MacKayla’s knowledge of the world around her is mine. Her names for things come easily to me.
My existence within her has been far more vivid than anything I experienced from within the covers of the Book that once incarcerated me. Three of my forty-ninth-made caste—those she calls Rhino-boys—have a woman in the alley, willing sacrifice to partake of their flesh. They play with her for momentary pleasure, beady eyes, beady minds, puny shadows flickering in puny caves.

  Much of the Unseelie King’s knowledge is mine as well. I sprang into existence from the spells he created to birth his Dark Court and know the True Names of the Unseelie, which grants me control over them. Unfortunately there are those Unseelie recently born, such as the Highlander prince, whose names are yet unknown or I would simply summon him and slay him now. Then there is Cruce, currently bound by the king’s chamber magic, impossible to summon. I will eliminate my most challenging enemies first.

  I chime in the First Language and three tusked heads swivel. I command them to worship me, to offer the flesh that will grant me Jada’s strength and speed. The woman is abandoned as my children stumble, snuffle, and fall to their knees, heads bowed, shaking with fear and subservience. A simple caste. Not my finest work.

  The Fae have long hungered for someone to lead them, make the decisions they fear, the bold ones that bring chaos, death, and war. I’m momentarily incensed by their limits—these frail toys that are all with which I have to play. These things that aren’t real like me.

 
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