Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia

  I had a feeling both Link and Savannah were enjoying the afternoon, in their own ways. Ridley was nowhere to be found, but when she figured out where Link had gone, things would probably get even worse. Maybe it was a good thing Link was familiarizing himself with the county hospital.

  By the time Link hung up, Lena and I were back in her room, and Ridley was moping around downstairs. Lena’s bedroom was about as far as you could get from Jackson High, and being there made everything that happened in town seem about a million miles away. Her room had changed since she came back from the Great Barrier. Lena said it was because she needed to see the world through her gold and green eyes. And Ravenwood had changed to mirror her feelings, the way it had always changed for her and Macon.

  Her room was now entirely transparent, like some kind of weird tree house made of glass. From the outside it still looked exactly the same, with its weather-beaten shutters covered in vines. I could see remnants of her old room. There were still windows where there had been windows, doors where there had been doors. But the ceiling was open, with sliding panels of glass shoved to one side to let in the night air. In the afternoon, the wind scattered leaves across her bed. Her floor was a mirror that reflected the changing sky. When the sun beat down on us—as it always did now—the light refracted and broke and scattered over so many different surfaces, it was impossible to tell which sun was the real one. They all burned equally, with a blinding glare.

  I lay back on her bed, closing my eyes and letting the breeze roll over me. I knew it wasn’t real, just another version of Lena’s Casting Breeze, but I didn’t care. My body felt like it was breathing for the first time today. I pulled my damp shirt off and tossed it onto the floor. Better.

  I opened an eye. Lena was writing on the glass wall closest to her bed, and the words hung in the air like spoken sentences. Inked in Sharpie.

  no light no dark no you no me

  know light know dark know you know me

  It made me feel better, seeing the handwriting I remembered from before the Sixteenth Moon.

  so goes the hard way—the (fall a)part way—

  the (break a)heart day

  I rolled onto my side. “Hey. What does that mean, ‘the break a heart day’?” I didn’t like the sound of that one.

  She looked over at me and smiled. “It’s not today.”

  I pulled her down on the bed next to me, my hand on the back of her neck. My fingers tangled in her long hair, and I ran my thumb down her collarbone. I loved the way her skin felt, even if it burned. I pressed my lips against hers, and I heard Lena’s breath catch. I was losing mine, but I didn’t care.

  Lena ran her hand down my back, her fingers trailing along my bare skin.

  “I love you,” I whispered into her ear.

  She held my face in her hands and leaned back so she could look at me. “I don’t think I could ever love anything the way I love you.”

  “I know I couldn’t.”

  Lena’s hand rested on my chest. I knew she could feel my heartbeat thudding beneath it. She sat up, grabbing my shirt off the floor. “You’d better put this back on, or you’re going to get me grounded for the rest of my life. It’s not like Uncle M sleeps all day. He’s probably down in the Tunnels with—” She caught herself, which is how I knew who she was talking about. “He’s in his study, and he’ll expect to see me any minute now.”

  I sat up, holding my shirt in my hands.

  “Anyway, I don’t know why I write the things I do. They sort of come into my head.”

  “Like my father and his new bestseller, The Eighteenth Moon?” I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it, and Amma was avoiding me. Maybe Macon would have the answer.

  “Like Savannah and her supercool new Link cheer.” Lena leaned against me. “It’s a mess.”

  “Give me an M. Give me an E-S-S.”

  “Shut up,” Lena said, kissing my cheek. “Shirt on.”

  I pulled my shirt back over my shoulders, pausing midway. “You sure about that?” She bent to kiss my stomach, yanking my shirt back down over it. I felt the stabbing pain disappear as quickly as it came—but I reached for her anyway.

  She ducked out of my arms. “We should tell Uncle Macon about what happened today.”

  “Tell him what? That Ridley’s starting fights? And even though she’s completely powerless, bad things happen to cheerleaders when she’s around?”

  “Just in case. She could be up to something. Maybe you should tell him about your dad’s new book.” Lena held out her hand, and I took it, the energy draining out of me slowly.

  “You mean, because the last book turned out so well? We don’t even know if there is a book.” I didn’t want to think about my dad and his books any more than I wanted to think about Ridley and Savannah Snow.

  We were halfway down the hall before I realized we had stopped talking. The closer we got, the more I sensed Lena’s pace slowing. She didn’t mind going back down into the Tunnels. She just didn’t want me going down there.

  Which had nothing to do with the actual Tunnels and everything to do with Macon’s favorite exchange student.


  Adam and Eve

  Lena stopped in front of a black lacquered door. A handmade flyer for the Holy Rollers—WHAT’S ROCK WITHOUT THE ROLL?—hung skewed to one side. She knocked on Ridley’s door. “Rid?”

  “Why are we looking for Ridley?” I had seen enough of her today.

  “We aren’t. There’s a shortcut to the Tunnels in her room. Uncle Macon’s secret passageway, remember?”

  “Right. Because now his bedroom is…” I looked at the door, trying to imagine how Ridley had massacred Macon’s old room. I hadn’t been in it since the day Lena and I broke up.

  Lena shrugged. “He didn’t want to keep his old room. And he sleeps in his study in the Tunnels most of the time, anyway.”

  “Good choice for Ridley’s room. Because she’s not the kind of girl who would sneak out a secret passageway in the middle of the night,” I said.

  Lena paused, her hand on the doorway. “Ethan. She’s the least magical person in the house. She’s got more to be afraid of going down there than any of—”

  Before she could finish her sentence, I heard an unmistakable sound. The sound of the sky ripping, and an Incubus slipping out of sight.


  “Did you hear that?”

  Lena frowned at me. “What?”

  “It sounded like someone was ripping.”

  “Uncle Macon doesn’t rip anymore. And Ravenwood is completely Bound. There’s no way any Incubus, no matter how powerful, could get in here.” She looked worried, though, even as she said the words.

  “It must have been something else. Maybe Kitchen is experimenting again.” I touched her hand on the door, my breath catching. “Open up.”

  Lena pushed, but nothing happened. She pushed again. “That’s weird. The handle’s jammed.”

  “Let me try.” I threw my weight against the door. It didn’t budge, which was kind of humiliating, so I tried it again, even harder. “It’s not jammed. It’s—you know.”


  “Whatever the Latin is for using magic to lock your door.”

  “You mean a Cast? That’s not possible. Ridley couldn’t use an Obex Cast, even if she found one in a book. They’re too difficult.”

  “Are you kidding me? After the stunt she pulled with the cheer squad?”

  Lena looked at the door, her green eye glowing and her gold eye darkening. Her black curls began to blow around her shoulders, and before I heard her speak the Cast, the door blew open with such force it went flying off the hinges and into Ridley’s bedroom. Which seemed like the Caster way of saying “Screw you.”

  I flipped on the lights inside Ridley’s room.

  Lena wrinkled her nose as I picked up a pink lollipop stuck to the long blond hairs wrapped around a giant hot roller. There was a mess of clothes and shoes and nail polish and makeup and candy—on
every surface, in the sheets, hidden in the pink retro shag carpet.

  “Make sure you put that back where you found it. She’ll have a fit if she finds out we were in here. She’s been really weird about her room lately.” Lena nudged an open bottle of nail polish that was oozing onto the dresser. “But there are no signs of Casting. No books or charms.”

  I flipped back the pink carpet to reveal the smooth lines of the hidden Caster door in the floor.

  “Nothing except—” Lena held up a nearly empty bag of Doritos. “Ridley hates Doritos. She likes sweet, not salty.”

  I stared down into the darkness at the stairs I only half believed were there. “I’m looking at an invisible stairwell, and you’re telling me the chips are weird?”

  Lena held up a second bag, a full one. “Pretty much. Yes.”

  I held out my foot, feeling around until I found the solid footing in the air. “I used to like chocolate milk. Now it makes me sick. Does that mean I have magic powers, too?”

  I stepped into the darkness before I could hear her answer.

  At the base of the stairs that led into Macon’s private study, we could see him standing at a desk, staring at the pages of an enormous book. Lena took a step—

  “Seven.” A girl’s voice.

  We froze at the sound of the familiar voice. I put my hand on Lena’s arm.


  So we stood in the shadows of the passage, at the edge of the door. They hadn’t seen us.

  “Seven what, Miss Durand?” Macon asked.

  Liv appeared in the doorway, holding a stack of books. Her blond hair spilled over her favorite Pink Floyd T-shirt, her blue eyes catching the light. In the darkness of the underground, Liv looked like she was made of sunshine.

  Marian’s former assistant, my former friend. But that wasn’t quite right, and we all knew it. She had felt like more than a friend. While Lena was gone, that had been one thing. But Lena wasn’t gone anymore, which left us where? Liv would always be my friend, even if she couldn’t be. She had helped me find my way back to Lena, and to the Great Barrier, the seat of both Dark and Light power. She had given up her future as a Keeper for me and Lena. We both knew we would always owe Liv for that.

  There was more than one kind of way to be Bound to a person. I had learned that myself, the hard way.

  Liv let the books drop onto the desk in front of Macon. Dust rose from the ancient bindings. “There are only five instances of mixed Caster bloodlines powerful enough to result in this combination. I’ve been cross-referencing every Caster family tree I can find on both sides of the Atlantic, including your own.”

  Mixed supernatural blood. Ethan, they’re looking for John.

  Lena could barely stand to Kelt it. Even her thoughts were quiet.

  Macon was mumbling into his book. “Ah, yes. Well. All in the interest of science, of course.”

  “Of course.” Liv opened her familiar red notebook.

  “And? Have you found anything like him in any of the Kept family records? Anything that could explain the existence of our mysterious hybrid, the elusive John Breed?”

  I guess you’re right.

  Liv spread out two sheets of parchment that I recognized immediately. The Duchannes and Ravenwood Family Trees. “There are only four likely occurrences—at least, according to the Council of the Far Keep.”

  The council of what?

  Later, Ethan.

  Liv was still talking. “One of which is Sarafine Duchannes’ parents: Emmaline Duchannes, a Light Caster, and your father, Silas Ravenwood, a Blood Incubus. Lena’s grandparents.” Liv looked up, her cheeks reddening.

  Macon dismissed the possibility. “Emmaline is an Empath, a Caster gift certainly not capable of resulting in a hybrid Incubus that can walk in the daylight. And obviously our hybrid is too young to be a result of that particular union.”

  Lena shuddered, and I squeezed her hand.

  They’re looking at all those crazy family trees, L. None of it means anything.

  Not yet.

  Lena rested her head against my shoulder, and I leaned closer to the door to listen.

  “That leaves three possible candidates for producing a Dark Caster-Incubus hybrid. There is no Light and Light pairing, of course, since there are no…”

  “Light Incubuses, as I was in my previous form? That is correct. Incubuses are Dark by nature. I know that perhaps better than anyone, Miss Durand.” Liv closed her notebook, looking uncomfortable, but Macon waved her off. “Don’t worry. I don’t bite. Never took to human blood. I found it all a bit distasteful.”

  Liv continued. “If John Breed was some sort of mixed-blood Supernatural, it’s not by accident. It’s unprecedented, unrecorded, and as far as Dr. Ashcroft’s Keeping archives date back, unKept. It’s as if the record of any such birth has been completely struck from the Lunae Libri altogether.”

  “Which proves what we already suspected. This boy is more than just an Incubus who can walk in the sunlight. No one would go to this much trouble to hide his lineage otherwise.” Macon rubbed his head with one hand. His green eyes were red, and it occurred to me that I had no idea whether or not he slept now that he was a Caster. For the first time, it looked like he needed to. “Five pairings. That’s progress, Miss Durand. Well done.”

  Liv was frustrated. I recognized the look. “Hardly. We still haven’t found the genetic match. Without that information, it will be impossible to determine John’s abilities. Or how he fits into all this.”

  “A valid point. But we have to focus on what we do know. John Breed is important to Abraham, which means the boy has a significant role in whatever he is planning.”

  Liv held out her arm, the dials of her strange-looking homemade watch spinning on her wrist. Her selenometer, which gave her the only answers she trusted. “Truthfully, sir, I don’t know how much time we have to figure that out. I’ve never seen readings like these. I hate to say it—but it’s like the moon is about to come crashing down on Gatlin.”

  Macon stood, clasping a heavy hand on her shoulder. I’d felt that pressure—a part of me could feel it now. “Never be afraid to speak the truth, Miss Durand. We’re a little past the point of pleasantries. We must simply press on. It’s all we can do.”

  She straightened under his hand. “I’m not sure I know the protocol when facing the potential annihilation of the Mortal world.”

  “I believe, dear girl, that’s entirely the point.”


  “Look at the facts. It appears that since the Claiming the Mortal world has been altered. Or, as you said yourself, the sky is falling. Hell on Earth, our charming Mrs. Lincoln might say. And the Caster world has been presented with a new species of Caster-Incubus we’ve never seen before. An Adam of sorts. Whatever purpose the hybrid boy serves, it’s not an accident. The timing is too perfect. It’s all part of a grand design—or, considering Abraham is undoubtedly involved, a grandiose design.”

  Lena looked pale, and I grabbed her arm, propping her up next to me.

  Let’s go.

  She held her finger to her lips.

  He’s the Adam?


  Ethan. If he’s the Adam…

  Liv stared at Macon, her eyes wide. “You think Abraham somehow engineered this?”

  Macon scoffed. “Hunting certainly doesn’t have the intellect for this sort of endeavor, and Sarafine alone doesn’t have the power. The boy, however indeterminate his origin, is Lena’s age? A little older?”

  I don’t want to be the Eve.

  You’re not.

  You don’t know that, Ethan. I think I am.

  You’re not, L.

  I pulled her into my arms, and I could feel the heat of her cheek through the thin cotton of my shirt.

  I think I was supposed to be.

  Macon continued, but he seemed farther and farther away with every word. “Unless John Breed was pulled out of some other realm, he evolved here in the Mortal or Caster world. Which necessitates m
ore than a decade and a half of ruthless cunning, at which Abraham excels.” Macon fell silent.

  “Are you saying John was born in a Caster laboratory? Like some kind of supernatural test-tube baby?”

  “In broad terms, yes. Perhaps not so much born as bred, one assumes. Which would explain why he is so important to Abraham.” Macon paused. “That sort of dull wit I would expect from my brother, not Abraham. I’m disappointed.”

  “John Breed,” Liv said slowly. “Oh my God. It was right there in front of us, all along.” Liv sunk onto the ottoman across from Macon’s desk.

  I held Lena tighter. When her thoughts came, they were a whisper.

  It’s sick. He’s sick.

  I didn’t know if she meant John or Abraham, but it didn’t matter. She was right. It was all sick.

  Abraham’s gone, L.

  Even as I thought the words, I knew I was lying. John might have been gone, but Abraham wasn’t.

  “So we’re left with two questions, Miss Durand. How and, more important, why?”

  “If John Breed is gone, it doesn’t matter.” Liv’s face was pale, and it occurred to me that she looked as exhausted as Macon did.

  “Is he? I’m not entirely willing to make assumptions without a body.”

  “Shouldn’t we turn our research to the more pressing issues—the infestations, the climate change? How to stop these plagues that Lena’s Seventeenth Moon seems to have brought on the Mortal world?”

  Macon leaned forward in his chair. “Olivia, do you have any idea how old this library is?”

  She shook her head doubtfully.

  “Do you know how old any of the Caster libraries are? Across the pond and beyond? In London? Prague? Madrid? Istanbul? Cairo?”

  “No. I suppose not.”

  “In any of these libraries, many of which I’ve visited myself in the past few weeks, do you imagine there is one reference to how to restore the Order of Things?”

  “Of course. There has to be. This must have happened at least once before.”

  He closed his eyes.

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