19.56 Josephine Angelini Trial by Fire

ISBN 13: 9781250050885

Trial by Fire

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9781250050885: Trial by Fire

"A Must Read Romance. This is one of the best books I've read this year. It has everything a book should have: action, adventure, violence, a butt-kicking heroine and one hot hero." ―USA Today

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergiesmake it increasingly difficult to live a normal life, and after a completely humiliating incident ruins her first (and perhaps only) real party, she's ready to disappear.

"Come and be the most powerful person in the world."
Suddenly, Lily finds herself in a different Salem. One overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women―including Lillian, this world's version of Lily.

"It will be terrifying. It was for me."
What made Lily weak at home, makes her extraordinary here. It also puts her in terrible danger. Faced with new responsibilites she can barely understand and a love she never expeceted, Lily is left with one question: How can she be the savior of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

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About the Author:

Josephine Angelini is the internationally bestselling author of the Starcrossed series, and a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. Originally from Massachusetts, she now lives in Los Angeles with her screenwriter husband and three shelter cats.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER

1

 

Lily Proctor ducked into the girls’ room, already yanking back her rebellious hair. Aiming for the toilet through a blur of tears, she vomited until her knees shook.

Lily had been symptomatic all day, but she knew she’d rather eat her own foot than get sent home. Tristan would never take her to the party that night if he knew she was having another one of her epic reactions, and Lily couldn’t afford to miss this party. Not now. Not when things between her and Tristan had so recently—and so wonderfully—changed.

Tristan Corey had been Lily’s best friend all her life. They’d grown up together, building tent cities out of his mother’s clean sheets and space stations out of sofa cushions. Most kids drift apart when they start to grow up—Lily knew that. Some figure out the trick of being cool, and others stay runny-nosed geeks for the rest of high school. But to Tristan’s credit, no matter how popular he got over the years, or how isolated Lily became as her allergies intensified and embarrassing rumors about her mother spread, he never once backed away from their pinky-swear promise to be best friends forever. He never tried to hide how close they were or pretended not to care about her because other kids thought she was strange. The only reason he rarely let her go to parties with him was because lots of kids smoked at them, and Lily’s lungs couldn’t handle smoke.

Or at least, that’s what Tristan said. Since Lily had never been to one of these parties herself she couldn’t know for sure, but she had a sneaking suspicion that Tristan didn’t bring her with him because he was usually going to hook up with a girl. Or several girls.

Everyone in their graduating class knew that Tristan was the biggest player in Salem, Massachusetts. Sophomore year, he’d come back from summer baseball camp a foot taller and achieved legendary status by dating a senior. Ever since then the girls—and women—of Salem had passed him around like a pair of traveling pants. Unfortunately for Lily, she’d had a crush on Tristan since she first realized that there was a difference between boys and girls—way before he rode the testosterone rocket to studliness. And she’d suffered for it.

For years, she’d had to pretend that she was okay with being his girl Friday. They’d run everyday errands together—driver’s ed, shopping for cleats, studying—and then, inevitably, some girl would call and he’d leave. Lily never told him how much it killed her to see the excited flush grazing his cheekbones or the hungry shine in his blue eyes when he’d give her a distracted hug good-bye and dart off to meet his latest conquest. Tristan had never looked at Lily like that. And as she heaved monstrously into the toilet, Lily had to admit she couldn’t blame him for taking so long to finally kiss her.

The kiss had come out of the blue. They’d been hanging out, watching TV, and Lily had fallen asleep on his leg like she’d done a thousand times before. When she opened her eyes, he was staring down at her with a stunned look on his face. Then he’d kissed her.

That was three days ago. Even thinking about it still made Lily shake. One second she’d been asleep, and the next Tristan was on top of her—kissing her, touching her, and slowly moving against her. Then he’d suddenly pulled away and tried to apologize. But Lily wasn’t sorry at all, and she didn’t want him to be, either.

They hadn’t talked about it, but the next morning he’d held her hand at school. He’d even given her a sweet little kiss in front of his jock friends right before practice. Lily had never dated anyone and didn’t really know how these things worked, but she was pretty sure that by taking her to the party tonight he would be announcing to everyone that they were officially together. So Lily didn’t care if she coughed up her spleen or sneezed out an artery. She was going to that party if it killed her.

When she was finally done vomiting up the leaves, twigs, and roots that made up her vegan lunch, Lily staggered over to the sinks to mop her face.

She moaned when she looked in the mirror. It was worse than she’d expected. Her alabaster-white skin was flushed such a bright red it looked like someone had slapped her across the face. Crimson hives were rising like whip marks across her wing-like collarbones and her green eyes were glassy with fever. Quickly recounting everything she’d eaten that day, she couldn’t think of what could have caused such a runaway reaction. Her allergy must have been caused by something she couldn’t see, like the chemicals they used to clean the school, but she couldn’t really be sure of that.

Lily twisted her slippery strawberry-colored curls up close to her scalp and stabbed the thick mass into a messy French twist with a pencil. She took off her SAVE THE WHALES T-shirt and bent over a sink in her bra, trying to coax colder water out of the lukewarm tap by batting it with her fingertips. She splashed the not-quite-cool-enough water over the angry rash that was rising like a hot tide up her hyperreactive body.

The bell rang, signaling the end of her lunch period, and Lily had no choice but to reach into her bag for one of her many emergency kits. She dug past a bottle of quick-dissolve steroid pills and her inhaler, and went straight for the Epipen. She took the green cap off the tube of sterile plastic and jabbed the tip through the jeans covering her thigh, gritting her teeth against the painful stab.

Technically, she wasn’t supposed to use her Epipen except in a life-threatening situation, but since she had no idea what was causing such a violent reaction, she figured it was better to be safe than sorry. As the medicine cocktail from the Epipen flooded her system, Lily’s symptoms began to diminish. Her eyes stopped watering and her vision cleared. She shivered violently as the adrenaline from the shot rushed through her system, then realized that her entire upper body was wet. Hands shaking with the jitters, she dabbed at herself with some paper towels and put on her T-shirt as the bell rang a second time, signaling the start of the next class.

Lily ran out of the girls’ room, up the stairs, and thundered down the nearly empty hallway to Mr. Carnello’s classroom just before he closed the door.

“Sorry, Mr. Carn.” She panted as she ducked past him.

“Are you alright?” Mr. Carnello asked her, glancing down at Lily’s top and then quickly away.

“Sure. I just had a … thing,” she mumbled distractedly, and darted into the room.

Tristan looked up from his spot at their lab table and narrowed his eyes at her as she made her way over to him. She noticed a couple of people looking at her strangely as she sat down. She tried to smile back at them in friendly way, but they all looked away from her without making eye contact.

“Lily,” Tristan hissed at her.

“What?” she hissed back.

“Why are your boobs wet?”

“My what?” Lily looked down at her T-shirt and saw that the white material was completely transparent where her soggy bra had soaked through. Mortified, she crossed her arms over her chest. She could hear a few guys snickering in the corner and saw Tristan’s head spin around, silencing them with a look.

“Do you need a moment to collect yourself, Miss Proctor?” Mr. Carnello asked kindly.

“No. We’re good,” Tristan answered for Lily as he quickly pulled his sweater over his head.

The shirt he was wearing underneath hiked up accidentally as he did so, and a few girls whispered excitedly at the glimpse of rippling muscles and velvety skin. Tristan helped Lily into his sweater as if he didn’t even hear them. Considering the fact that he just had to walk past most girls to make them groan out loud, he probably didn’t. But Lily heard them, and felt herself flush with even more heat as she resisted the urge to strangle them.

“Do you have a fever?” he asked.

“I always have a fever,” Lily replied grumpily, which they both knew was true.

Lily’s body ran hot—about 102 degrees on a normal day. On a bad day, her fever could shoot up as high as 111 degrees. The doctors had no idea how she’d survived some of her worst attacks, but then again, they had no idea about a lot of things where Lily was concerned.

“I’m serious,” replied Tristan, pointing accusingly at the spot of blood on her jeans where she’d impaled herself with the Epipen. “Do you need me to take you home? Or the hospital?”

“I’m fine,” she replied emphatically. “Really. I feel great.” She paused and smiled ruefully. “Well, apart from the whole wet-boobs-in-class thing.”

Lily gave him a saucy look and nudged his arm, brushing the whole thing off. After everything that people had said about her and her family, a wet T-shirt was the least of Lily’s problems. Tristan’s big blue eyes sparkled and his light-brown hair fell across his forehead as he ducked his head with quiet laughter. He had a million little gestures like this that left her star struck. He was almost too pretty to look at sometimes, and Lily couldn’t believe how lucky she was that he was finally hers.

“Pay attention to Mr. Carn,” she chastised, like Tristan had been the one to disrupt class. He nudged her back and they focused on the lecture.

“If any symbol fits the universe better than this one”—Mr. Carnello spun to his projector and drew the sideways figure eight that represented infinity—“it would be this one.” He drew an equal sign. “Newton proved that if you hit a ball with a known amount of force, that force doesn’t disappear. It’s turned into kinetic energy, and the ball flies a distance that you can measure with accuracy. Why? Because energy in”—he tapped one side of the equal sign—“is equal to the energy out.” He finished by tapping the other side of the equal sign. “So. Energy changes. Matter can even change into energy—we’ll get to Einstein’s E equals mc squared later—but you can’t make something out of nothing. This is the first law of thermodynamics. Now! Thermo, which is Greek for ‘heat,’ and dynamics, from the Greek dynamikos, which means ‘power.’ Heat and power are two halves of the same whole.”

Mr. Carnello began to scribble furiously as he mumbled to himself. Lily and Tristan looked at each other and grinned. They both loved science. In fact, Tristan had scored higher on his Biology Achievement Test than anyone else in the state that year, and he was seriously thinking about enrolling as a premed student in one of the Ivy League schools that he would apply to this winter. It was only early November, and seniors still had another month or two to pick colleges, declare their majors, and basically figure out the rest of their lives before they all turned eighteen. Lily was sure Tristan had already decided to be a doctor someday. After spending so much time visiting her at Mass General when she was having one of her more severe attacks, he certainly knew his way around a hospital.

Lily wasn’t particularly interested in being a doctor herself, but she studied all the sciences with a passion. She had always been able to understand physics intuitively, and on the days she was feeling particularly put upon, Lily believed this was because her body was a wacky science experiment gone wrong. Every year, Lily’s ailments grew worse, and not even the cadre of specialists in Boston she went to see every month knew how to treat her. She’d always dreamed of chaining herself to an endangered redwood tree or participating in a long sit-in to stop animal testing, but the truth was, her body would never let her do those things. She probably wouldn’t even be able to live on campus when she went to college next year—if she was healthy enough to attend college at all.

A wave of anxiety overtook her at the thought of Tristan going far away to college. Harvard and Brown were close enough for him to commute easily, but what if he decided to go to Columbia—or worse, Cornell? Ithaca was a six-hour drive from Salem.

As Mr. Carnello delved into the finer points of thermodynamics, the adrenaline from the Epipen shot abandoned Lily all at once, leaving her with a killer headache and a raging case of paranoia about her changing status in Tristan’s life. She resisted the urge to rub her temples and beg Tristan to stay in Boston. Every time Tristan looked over at her to see if she was okay, Lily smiled brightly to prove how great she felt. What she really needed was about a gallon of water to wash away the bitter film that was coating the inside of her mouth, but she’d have to wait until after class to go to the bubbler or Tristan would know she felt sick. Lily nearly sighed with relief when the bell rang.

“Thanks for the loaner.” She pulled Tristan’s sweater off and handed it to him. “I think my boobs are sufficiently dry now.” She fanned her flushed face. “Actually, I think they’re cooked. I was roasting all period.”

“And I was freezing.” Tristan gratefully put his sweater back on with a shiver. “Mr. Carn always keeps his room so damn cold.”

“The half-dissected cats like it better that way.”

“You’re just lucky I love you.”

“Yeah, right. You just didn’t want me flashing the whole room!” Lily exclaimed a bit too loudly.

She watched Tristan grab his stuff and hurry out of the room, not even thinking twice about his choice of words. He said he loved her every now and again. It didn’t mean the same thing to him as it did to her, and Lily knew it. But she also knew that he did care deeply about her, which made the situation all the more confusing. Since their steamy episode on the couch, Tristan hadn’t tried anything sexier than a few chaste kisses and a lot of hand-holding. He loved her—Lily had known that for years—but he just didn’t seem to be all the crazy about her body.

Not that she had a bad body, Lily thought as she grabbed a sip from the bubbler and then followed Tristan to their side-by-side lockers. Sure, she had skin that was much too fair for the current style and she was painfully skinny, but even she was aware of the fact that she had a great face. Well, Lily conceded, she had a great face when it wasn’t leaking snot or covered in hives, which wasn’t very often. And the hair was a problem. Bright red, thicker than polar bear fur and curly as scissor-skinned ribbons on a birthday present, Lily’s hair was a force to be reckoned with. She wouldn’t be surprised if it could be seen from space, and she spent most of her time pinning it back, pulling it up, and generally trying to convince it not to eat her face.

Lily hated her hair, probably because it reminded her so much of her mother’s. Her big sister, Juliet, had pin-straight locks in a perfectly respectable shade of brown, but not Lily. Oh, no. On top of having to wear a battalion of medic-alert bracelets that proclaimed her freakiness to the world, Lily had also been saddled with her mom’s crazy hair.

Lily fervently hoped she hadn’t gotten her mom’s crazy mind to go with it.

“Are you sure you want to go to your last class?” Tristan asked skeptically as he watched Lily pull her Spanish textbook out of her locker. “I could get a pass and drive you home right now,” he offered.

“What for?” Lily said brightly.

Tristan straightened to his full height of six foot two and turned toward her. He reached out with one of his long, supple arms and boxed her in against the wall of lockers. She went still and looked up at him. Tristan was one of those rare guys whose skin always managed to look dewy and fresh, like every inch of him was utterly kissable.

“No jokes. No acting tough,” he said, easing closer to her until his thighs rested on hers. Tristan brushed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. “You don’t have to co...

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