Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia


  I couldn’t stop crying, no matter how hard I jammed my fists into my eyes. I guess I never realized people could die before.

  First my dad came outside and tried to talk me down out of that stupid tree. Then my mom tried. Nothing they said could make me feel any better. I asked if my grandpa was in Heaven, like they said in Sunday school. My mom said she wasn’t sure. It was the historian in her. She said no one really knew what happened when we died.

  Maybe we became butterflies. Maybe we became people all over again. Maybe we just died and nothing happened.

  I only cried harder. A historian isn’t really what you’re looking for in that kind of situation. That’s when I told her I didn’t want Poppi to die, but more than that, I didn’t want her to die, and even more than that, I didn’t want to die either. Then she broke down.

  It was her dad.

  I came down from the tree on my own afterward, and we cried together. She pulled me into her arms, right there on the back steps of Wate’s Landing, and said I wouldn’t die.

  I wouldn’t.

  She promised.

  I wasn’t going to die, and neither would she.

  After that, the only thing I remember was going inside and eating three pieces of raspberry-cherry pie, the kind with the crisscross sugar crust. Someone had to die before Amma would make that pie.

  Eventually, I grew up and grew older and stopped looking for my mom’s lap every time I felt like crying. I even stopped going in that old tree. But it was years before I realized my mom had lied to me. It wasn’t until she left me that I even remembered what she’d said.

  I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I don’t know what any of this is really about.

  Why we bother.

  Why we’re here.

  Why we love.

  I had a family, and they were everything to me, and I didn’t even know it when I had them. I had a girl, and she was everything to me, and I knew it every second I had her.

  I lost them all. Everything a guy could ever want.

  I found my way home again, but don’t be fooled. Nothing’s the same as before. I’m not sure I’d want it to be.

  Either way, I’m still one of the luckiest guys around.

  I’m not a church kind of a person, not when it comes to praying. To be honest, for me it never gets much past hoping. But I know this, and I want to say it. And I really hope someone will listen.

  There is a point. I don’t know what it is, but everything I’ve had, and everything I’ve lost, and everything I felt—it meant something.

  Maybe there isn’t a meaning to life. Maybe there’s only a meaning to living.

  That’s what I’ve learned. That’s what I’m going to be doing from now on.

  Living.

  And loving, sappy as it sounds.

  Lena Duchannes. Her name rhymes with rain.

  I’m not falling anymore. That’s what L says, and she’s right.

  I guess you could say I’m flying.

  We both are.

  And I’m pretty sure somewhere up there in the real blue sky and carpenter bee greatness, Amma’s flying, too.

  We all are, depending on how you look at it. Flying or falling, it’s up to us.

  Because the sky isn’t really made of blue paint, and there aren’t just two kinds of people in this world, the stupid and the stuck. We only think there are. Don’t waste your time with either—with anything. It’s not worth it.

  You can ask my mom, if it’s the right kind of starry night. The kind with two Caster moons and a Northern and a Southern Star.

  At least I know I can.

  I get up in the night and make my way across the creaking floorboards. They feel astonishingly real, and there isn’t a moment I think I’m dreaming. In the kitchen, I take an armful of spotless glasses out of the cupboard that hangs over the counter.

  One by one, I set them on the table in a row.

  Empty except for moonlight.

  The refrigerator light is so bright, it surprises me. On the bottom shelf, tucked behind a rotting head of unchopped cabbage, I find it.

  Chocolate milk.

  Just as I suspected.

  I might not have wanted it anymore, and I might not have been here to drink it, but I knew there was no way Amma had stopped buying it.

  I rip open the cardboard and fold out the spout—something I could do in my sleep, which is practically the state I’m in. I couldn’t make Uncle Abner a pie if my life depended on it, and I don’t even know where Amma keeps the recipe for Tunnel of Fudge.

  But this I know.

  One by one, I fill the glasses.

  One for Aunt Prue, who saw everything without blinking.

  One for Twyla, who gave up everything without hesitating.

  One for my mom, who let me go not once but twice.

  One for Amma, who took her place with the Greats so I could take mine in Gatlin again.

  A glass of chocolate milk doesn’t seem like enough, but it isn’t really the milk, and we all know that—all of us here, anyway.

  Because the moonlight shimmers in the empty wooden chairs around me, and I know, as always, that I am not alone.

  I’m never alone.

  I push the last glass through the patch of moonlight across the scarred kitchen table. The light flutters like the twinkling of a Sheer’s eye.

  “Drink up,” I say, but it’s not what I mean.

  Especially not to Amma and my mom.

  I love you, and I always will.

  I need you, and I keep you with me.

  The good and the bad, the sugar and the salt, the kicks and the kisses—what’s come before and what will come after, you and me—

  We are all mixed up in this together, under one warm piecrust.

  Everything about me remembers everything about you.

  Then I take a fifth glass down from the shelf, the last of our clean glasses. I fill it to the brim with milk, so close that I have to slurp the top to keep it from overflowing.

  Lena laughs at the way I always fill my cup as full as it can go. I feel her smiling in her sleep.

  I raise my glass to the moon and drink it myself.

  Life has never tasted sweeter.

  HERE ENDETH

  THE CASTER CHRONICLES

  Fabula Peracta Est. Scripta Aeterna Manent.

  A Seer’s moons, a Siren’s tears,

  Nineteen Mortal, Wayward fears,

  Incubus graves and Caster rivers,

  The Final Page the End delivers.

  Acknowledgments

  We’ve loved every minute of this.

  Every character, every chapter, every page.

  More than anything, all we need to acknowledge now is the one person who made it all happen—YOU.

  Our favorite Caster Reader(s).

  Thank you. For everything. For all of it.

  It’s been a wild ride—we hope you’ll keep reading and keep believing in true love, things hidden in plain sight, the world between the cracks, and, more than anything, yourself.

  We know we will.

  Love always—and we do mean that—

  KAMI & MARGIE

  Special thanks to:

  OUR EDITOR—JULIE SCHEINA

  OUR LATIN TRANSLATOR—DR. SARA LINDHEIM

  OUR CREATIVE DIRECTOR—DAVE CAPLAN

  OUR COPY EDITOR—BARBARA BAKOWSKI

  OUR PUBLICITY MANAGER—JESSICA BROMBERG

  OUR MARKETING MANAGER—LISA ICKOWICZ

  AND THE ENTIRE BEAUTIFUL CREATURES NOVELS TEAM AT LITTLE, BROWN BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS!

  Thank you for buying this e-book, published by Hachette Digital.

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  Contents

  WELCOME

  DEDICATION

  EPIGRAPH

  LENA: BEGINNING AGAIN

 
; BOOK ONE: ETHAN

  CHAPTER 1: HOME

  CHAPTER 2: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

  CHAPTER 3: THIS SIDE OR THE NEXT

  CHAPTER 4: CATFISH CROSSIN’

  CHAPTER 5: ANOTHER LUNAE LIBRI

  CHAPTER 6: SILVER BUTTON

  CHAPTER 7: CROSSWORDS

  CHAPTER 8: BROKEN BOTTLES

  CHAPTER 9: THE STARS AND STRIPES

  CHAPTER 10: SNAKE EYES

  CHAPTER 11: DARKER THINGS

  CHAPTER 12: STILL HERE

  CHAPTER 13: WHERE THE CROW CARRIES YOU

  CHAPTER 14: MESSED-UP THINGS

  CHAPTER 15: THE RIVER MASTER

  CHAPTER 16: A ROCK AND A CROW

  CHAPTER 17: THE BOOK OF STARS

  CHAPTER 18: SHADOWS

  BOOK TWO: LENA

  CHAPTER 19: MORTAL PROBLEMS

  CHAPTER 20: A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL

  CHAPTER 21: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

  CHAPTER 22: BIRD IN A GILDED CAGE

  CHAPTER 23: DAR-EE KEEN

  CHAPTER 24: THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE

  CHAPTER 25: DEATH’S DOOR

  CHAPTER 26: QUANTUM PHYSICS

  CHAPTER 27: THE CRACKS IN EVERYTHING

  CHAPTER 28: CASTER CATFIGHT

  CHAPTER 29: THE HANDS OF THE DEAD

  BOOK THREE: ETHAN

  CHAPTER 30: LOST TIME

  CHAPTER 31: KEEPERS OF SECRETS

  CHAPTER 32: THRONE OF BONES

  CHAPTER 33: THE WAYWARD’S WAY

  CHAPTER 34: THE CASTER CHRONICLES

  CHAPTER 35: A CRACK IN THE UNIVERSE

  CHAPTER 36: TRANSLATION

  CHAPTER 37: WHAT THE WORDS NEVER SAY

  CHAPTER 38: ELEVEN ACROSS

  CHAPTER 39: A HYMN FOR AMMA

  EPILOGUE: AFTER

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  NEWSLETTERS

  COPYRIGHT

  Copyright

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the authors. To the extent any real names of individuals, locations, or organizations are included in the book, they are used fictitiously and not intended to be taken otherwise.

  Copyright © 2012 by Kami Garcia, LLC, and Margaret Stohl, Inc.

  All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected]. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

  Little, Brown and Company

  Hachette Book Group

  237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

  www.hachettebookgroup.com

  www.twitter.com/littlebrown

  First e-book edition: October 2012

  Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

  The Hachette Speakers Bureau provides a wide range of authors for speaking events. To find out more, go to www.hachettespeakersbureau.com or call (866) 376-6591.

  ISBN 978-0-316-21460-5

 


 

  Kami Garcia, Beautiful Redemption

  (Series: Caster Chronicles # 4)

 

 


 

 
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