By Kate Brian

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Rory Miller thought her life was over when a serial killer set his sights on her and forced her into witness protection. But a fresh start on Juniper Landing Island was exactly what she and her family needed. For the first time in years she and her sister hang out at the beach, gossip about boys, and party together. She’s also made friends with a local clique-including a magnetic and mysterious boy named Tristan.

But Rory’s world is about to change again. Picturesque Juniper Landing isn’t what it seems. The truth about the swirling fog that rolls in each morning, the bridge that leads to nowhere, and those beautiful locals who seem to watch Rory’s every move is more terrifying than being hunted by Steven Nell. And all Rory ever wanted was the truth. Even if it means learning that she can never go home again. From the best-selling author of the Private and Privilege series comes the second novel in a heart-stopping trilogy about a girl who must pick up the pieces after the only life she’s ever known ends.


The rocky slope was steep and uneven, each step an act of faith as we walked in a straight line—Joaquin, then Tristan, then me, with Krista, Bea, and Kevin trailing along behind. The sounds of the waves rolling onto shore and the brief flashes of whitecaps far out on the surface signaled that the ocean was somewhere up ahead.

“Where are we going?” I whispered, tiptoeing over a slick rock.

“Trust, little protégé, trust,” Joaquin said, his grin glowing in the darkness as he looked back over his shoulder.

“Don’t worry. We’re almost there,” Tristan told me.

Suddenly my left foot slipped, and I went weightless, my arms flailing as my heart vaulted into my mouth.

Before I could even scream, Tristan grasped both my arms and hoisted me back up. Dozens of pebbles tumbled down a sharp drop as we grabbed on to each other. His breath was hot on my face, and even in the darkness, I could see the intensity in his blue eyes as he checked me over.

“You’re okay. You’re fine,” he assured me.

I gripped his arms even tighter as the others caught up with us. “If you say so.”

He smiled, his eyes slowly traveling over my face. “I do. This is one of the perks of being dead. You can’t die again.”

“Awesome, no?” Kevin said with a toothy grin.

“Keep it moving, Slimy,” Bea said, nudging him as she rolled her eyes.

“Did she just call him Slimy?” I asked Tristan as Krista slipped past us, too.

“Bea has nicknames for everyone,” Tristan informed me. “You’ll get one eventually, but be warned—most of them are not all that nice.”

“What’s yours?”

“Golden Boy,” he replied somewhat sheepishly.

I smirked. “Ah.”

“Are you two coming or what?” Joaquin complained.

Tristan slipped his hand down my arm and took my hand, wrapping his fingers around mine. “Don’t worry. I’ve got you.”

My heart bombarded my ribs with each beat. “Okay.”

Up ahead, Joaquin flicked on a flashlight. The beam bounced over the jagged gray rocks until, suddenly, he dropped out of sight. The others, I noticed with a start, were already gone. I heard a thump and a squishing sound, and then Tristan squeezed my hand again.

“You have to jump here.”

He leaped down, his arm stretching out straight to keep his fingers twined in mine. I hesitated. All I could see was his face smiling up from a few feet below.

“I won’t let you fall.”

Someone laughed in the darkness, and a few more flashlights flickered to life. When I squinted, I saw Krista, Kevin, and Bea standing there, waiting. I swallowed my fear and jumped. Almost instantly, the soles of my sneakers hit soft, damp sand.

“Rory!” Lauren rushed out of the darkness, slid between Bea and Kevin, and threw her arms around me. “You did your first ushering! Congratulations!” I could smell the alcohol on her breath and felt her fighting for balance. I patted her back awkwardly until she released me. She staggered sideways toward Bea and giggled.

“How did it go?” she asked, looking around at the others.

“He was…reluctant to leave us,” Joaquin said, kneading my shoulders from behind.

The others laughed.

“But Joaquin took care of that,” Tristan said.

“I’ll bet,” Lauren said knowingly. Then she hiccuped and covered her mouth with one hand.

“So, Rory…welcome to the cove,” Joaquin said, smiling as he tilted his flashlight toward his face. The effect was eerie, lighting his mouth and nose but casting his eyes in half shadow. “Check it out.”

He trained the beam up ahead, and the others did the same. The tall rock wall we had just descended formed a perfect C around a wide swath of white sand. Waves curled into the shore, but in a more timid, tame way than they did out on the open beach. Dotting the sand along the sheer rock were several colorful camping tents, all but one of them dark. Someone was moving around in the second-to-last tent, which was lit from inside by a lantern.

“Hey, Fish!” Joaquin shouted. “Get your ass out here.”

The arc of the tent door unzipped, and Fisher stuck his head out. I half expected Darcy to be right behind him, since I’d last seen her flirting with him, but when he unfolded his large form in the small doorway, he was alone. A few beach towels were tucked under his arm, and he wore a white fedora at a jaunty angle.

“Hey, all.” Fisher slapped hands with Joaquin, then slid his free arm over Lauren’s tiny shoulders. “How you feeling, lightweight?” he asked her. She giggled, then hiccuped, then giggled some more.

“Okay, what’s your deal?” Joaquin asked Lauren.

“Her new charge likes to drink,” Fisher said, grinning.

“A lot,” Lauren said, widening her eyes as she swayed. “Like, a lot a lot.”

Everyone laughed. “Someone’s going to be sleeping late tomorrow,” Bea chided.

“What’s a charge?” I asked.

“That’s what we call the people we’re supposed to usher,” Bea explained.

“Brian was supposed to be mine,” Tristan told me.

“Oh.” My cheeks warmed, and I looked down at my sneakers, pressing my toes farther into the sand.

“It’s fine,” Tristan said, sliding a hand across my shoulders. “Don’t worry. I’m going to teach you everything you need to know.”

“Yeah?” I said, a hopeful flutter inside my chest.

“I promise,” he replied. “Why don’t you come by tomorrow morning? I’ll take you on a tour of the town. A Lifer tour.”

I grinned. “I’m in.”

His smile widened, and my heart responded with an extra hard thump. The weight of his hand on my shoulder felt comforting and meaningful. Here we were, in front of all his friends, and he had no problem keeping his arm wrapped around me for all to see.

“So where are Nadia and those guys?” Joaquin asked.

As if in answer to his question, there was a loud shriek, followed by a splash, and three people emerged from the water. One of them was Mohawk Girl, the second was the whistler from the boardwalk, and the third was their girlfriend from the basement that morning. They made their way over through the wet sand, and Fisher tossed each of them a towel.

“Rory, I don’t think you’ve officially met Nadia,” Tristan said, gesturing to Mohawk Girl. Her white bikini was practically see-through and her nose ring sparkled in the beam of Joaquin’s flashlight. She stared me down as if I were an atom bomb sitting in the center of her beach.

“Hi,” I said.

She didn’t reply. She simply rubbed her hair with the towel, then tied the towel around her waist, covering up the bottom of her skimpy suit.

“And this is Cori,” Tristan said, introducing the other girl, who had dark curly hair and olive skin and was wearing a modest one-piece. She had more curves than her friend, and a much more welcoming expression.

“Hey, there!” she said, earning a scowl from Nadia.

“And this loser is Pete,” Fisher said, throwing his arm over the shoulders of the tall, gangly guy, who was jerking his head up and down, trying to clear water out of his ear.

He nodded at me, then turned his attention back to Joaquin. “We doing this or what?”

“Why? Got somewhere you need to be?” Joaquin asked.

Pete shrugged.

“Come on.” Tristan tugged me forward, walking along the rock wall as everyone else fell in step. I didn’t see the opening of the cave until we were right on top of it. It was an uneven triangle cut out of the stone, very wide at the bottom but tapering drastically as it reached the top, like a Hershey’s Kiss listing to one side.

“You ready?” Tristan asked.

“We’re going in there?” I demanded.

“If you dare,” Pete said coolly in my ear.

Tristan shot him a look, and together, he, Krista, and I stepped inside the cave. The air was about twenty degrees colder, and the opening narrowed so swiftly that it forced us into a single line for a few feet before it widened into a huge, round chamber. The second we stepped inside, my jaw dropped.

The walls surrounding me burst with color. They’d been graffitied so thoroughly that hardly any of the black rock was visible beneath the intricate lettering and design work. I stepped toward the nearest wall and ran my hand over the first name I saw. It had been spray-painted in red and yellow, the letters square and bold.




On Sale
Oct 1, 2013
Page Count
320 pages

Kate Brian

About the Author

Kate Brian is the author of the NY Times and USA Today best-selling Private series and it's spin-off series, Privilege. She has also written many other books for teens including Sweet 16 and Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys.

Learn more about this author