Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

  Lukas watched me with the intense blue eyes he and his brother shared. “It’s what we do, Kennedy. Our father chose Jared, and our uncle chose me. We’ve been training since we were kids.”

  “Somebody has to do it.” Jared seemed almost apologetic. “If it weren’t for us, you’d be dead.”

  Like my mom.

  My chest tightened, and I took a trembling breath. “Stop the car.”

  “What’s wrong?” Lukas asked.

  I gripped the edge of the leather seat. “Please.”

  “Are you gonna be sick?” Jared sounded worried as he guided the van to one side of the alley.

  Lukas slid out and held the door open as I stumbled onto the filthy street. I turned my back on them and focused on the shiny puddles of water in the potholes, fighting the tears burning my eyes.

  “Kennedy?” I caught a glimpse of Jared’s army jacket.

  I spun around shaking. “My mom is dead because of a demon your family summoned.”

  Jared took a step back as if I had slapped him. “Our family didn’t do it alone. Someone from your family was there, too.”



  I heard the words, but they felt impossible.

  Someone from your family was there, too.

  And there was no one to confirm or deny it. My aunt was the only family I had left. If one of our ancestors was in a secret society, my mom would never have told her. They barely spoke, and when they did, it always ended in an argument.

  I swallowed hard, fighting to keep my voice steady. I didn’t want them to hear the doubt and fear building inside me. “How do you know?”

  Lukas pushed past his brother, walking toward me slowly like he was approaching a frightened animal. “In every generation, there are five members of the Legion. A month ago, all five died on the same night. Exactly the same way. Our dad and uncle, your mom—”

  Jared leaned against the side of the van, hands shoved in his pockets. “You weren’t the only one with a psychotic cat.”

  “You think this is funny?” I snapped.

  “No, I didn’t mean—” Jared’s eyes dropped to the ground, a deep crease forming between his brows.

  “I get that this is a lot to take in, but you need to know the truth,” Lukas said.

  I only nodded.

  “Our place isn’t far.” Lukas led me to the van, and I climbed in without arguing. “It’s not like you can go back to your house.”

  I hesitated for a second. “Wait. What time is it?”

  “Eleven. Why?”

  I was supposed to meet Elle at nine thirty. She would’ve gone by my house when I didn’t show up. I tried to picture exactly how it looked when we left—the door blown off the hinges, windows shattered, knives sticking out of the kitchen walls. Considering the number of people opening their doors as we drove away, the police had probably beaten her there.

  The police meant a call to my aunt, who would have me on the next plane to Boston.

  If Lukas and Jared were telling the truth, a plane ride wouldn’t stop vengeance spirits from finding me. I couldn’t risk leaving until I knew how to protect myself.

  I turned to Lukas. “I have to make a call. I was supposed to meet my friend, and she’s probably freaking out.”

  He slipped a cell phone out of his jacket and handed it to me. “You can’t say anything about us. We don’t want to deal with the cops.”

  “I just want to tell her I’m okay.” I dialed Elle’s number. She picked up on the first ring.



  “Kennedy? Oh my god! Where are you?” She was talking so fast I could hardly understand her. “Your house is totally trashed and—”

  “Elle? Are you alone?”

  “Yeah, why?” Her usual confidence was gone.

  “You can’t tell anyone I’m on the phone. Do you hear me?”


  I took a deep breath and tried to sound calm for her benefit. “Listen. I’m fine. Something happened at my house and these guys helped me.”

  “What guys?” she hissed under her breath. “Everyone is looking for you. Your house is a crime scene, and I found Elvis wandering around in the street.”

  “You found him? Is he all right?”

  “Your stupid cat’s fine. He’s in my car.” Her voice rose, hysteria taking over. “But I’m in the parking lot at the police station. I practically had to tell them everything you ate for the last two days. They think you were abducted.”

  “Hold on.” I hit Mute and turned to Lukas. “The police think someone kidnapped me. Should she tell them I’m okay?”

  “No,” he said quickly. “They’ll ask her a million questions, and she might get nervous and let something slip.”

  I nodded and got back on the line. “Elle, you can’t tell anyone you talked to me.”

  She sniffled. “Are you running away? Is this about boarding school? You can move in with me if you don’t want to go.”

  It killed me to scare her like this. “I’m not running away. It has to do with what happened to my mom.”

  “Her heart attack? Sometimes those things just—”

  “She didn’t die of a heart attack.”

  For a second, Elle didn’t respond. “What are you talking about?”

  Lukas gestured for me to hurry up.

  “I have to go.”

  “Call me back,” she whispered desperately.

  “I will.” I hung up, wishing she was here and grateful she wasn’t at the same time.

  Jared pulled away from the curb, and Lukas’ journal slipped off the seat. I picked it up and ran my hand over the worn cover, my mother’s silver bracelet sliding down my wrist. “I wish I had something like this that belonged to my mom.”

  She would’ve known what to do in this situation. I missed sitting on the counter while she cooked, complaining about school and guys and the current drawing that wasn’t meeting my standards. My mom always had the answers, or at least the brownies.

  Lukas tucked the loose pages inside the book. “I inherited it when my uncle died. Every member of the Legion records their experiences in a journal and passes it down to the person who replaces them. Your mom probably had one, too.”

  They still believed she was one of them—that her attack wasn’t random, but retribution for our ancestor’s involvement in summoning a demon over two hundred years ago.

  It was probably the reason they didn’t leave me back at my house. “She wasn’t a member of the Legion.”

  Jared rubbed the back of his neck. “Your mother died exactly like the other members, and a vengeance spirit tried to kill you the same way. You need more proof than that?”

  I didn’t have any proof, but it made me wonder if he did. “Was my mom’s name on a list or something in one of your journals?”

  Jared shifted in his seat and pretended to concentrate on the road.

  “There’s no list,” Lukas said. “Each member of the Legion knows the name of one other member. They don’t have any information on the remaining three. It was a safety precaution to keep something like this from happening.”

  There was no list, nothing conclusive to link my mom to this group. They were making this up as they went along. “My mom never mentioned any of this to me, and I just finished packing everything she owned. There was no journal.”

  “Maybe she hid it somewhere,” Jared offered. “Our dad used to do that.”

  “Okay. Then why wasn’t she training me?” I turned to Lukas, hoping he would be more reasonable. “You guys have known about all this since you were kids, right?”

  “More or less.” Lukas rolled the silver coin over his fingers.

  “Maybe you weren’t next in line,” Jared offered. He had no way of knowing how cruel it sounded to me. My mother was my only real family.

  What if she had something else out there—something more than me?

  With so little left to hold on to, I couldn’t let myself t
hink that way. “There’s no ‘next in line.’ My mom wasn’t part of this. The demon must have made a mistake.”

  Lukas tossed the coin in the air and caught it, closing his hand around it. “The only mistake he made was leaving us alive.”



  We rode the rest of the way in awkward silence. I couldn’t reconcile my life with the secrets Lukas and Jared were convinced it held. The all-night movie marathons and catastrophic cooking classes that left our kitchen draped in homemade pasta we never ate—those were the things my mother and I did together. There were no discussions about ancestry, religion, or the supernatural.

  My father had abandoned me, taking our shared heritage with him. I didn’t know anything about him except that it destroyed my mom when he left, and I knew even less about his family. Church was equally alien, a place where my friends were trapped on Sundays while I ate chocolate chip pancakes in front of the TV. If my mom was a member of a secret society charged with protecting the world from vengeance spirits, then the world was seriously screwed.

  Three unmarked streets later, Jared pulled over in an alley behind an overflowing Dumpster. Black fire escapes loomed above the doors like gargoyles. It looked like the kind of place where you’d find an underground club.

  Why were we stopping here?

  Jared grabbed a duffel bag from behind the seat and held the door open. It took me a moment to realize he was holding it for me. I climbed out, misjudging the distance between my foot and the step bar, and slipped. Jared caught my arm to steady me.

  “Thanks.” I smiled without thinking. Something registered in his deep blue eyes—a gentleness I hadn’t seen before. It caught me off guard. But then it was gone, and he turned away without a word.

  Lukas stood in front of a black metal door sorting through a bunch of keys.

  Maybe this was a storage facility.

  Five black dots that resembled the face of a die were spray painted above the lock, and a thick white line ran along the base of the door. It reminded me of the residue left on the streets after the snowplows came through.

  Lukas noticed me staring and pointed at the symbol. “That’s a quincunx, a voodoo ward to protect the place.”

  I nodded as if I knew what he was talking about. “Do you keep valuable stuff here?”

  He gave me a strange look. “We keep all our stuff here.”

  It took me a second to realize what he meant. I tried to hide my surprise, but I didn’t know a lot of people who lived in warehouses.

  Lukas gestured at the white line in front of the door. “Make sure you step over the salt line without breaking it. Spirits hate rock salt.” After the way the girl had exploded in my bedroom, that was an understatement.

  As I walked inside, I prepared for the possibility that we were sleeping in a rat-infested building. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Exposed pipes ran along the ceiling and gray steel beams reached up from the floor. White sheets hung from a wire that ran the length of the building, dividing the enormous room into two sections.

  A break between the sheets revealed four neatly made mattresses, and shelves overflowing with clothes and books. A brand new-looking couch and chairs sat next to a coffee table littered with papers and soda cans.

  The floor vibrated from some serious bass, and I followed the sound of the White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” to the far end of the building.

  This side of the warehouse looked like a cross between a library and a metal shop. Books rose in tall stacks along the walls, with maps and drawings of strange symbols taped above them. Another cryptic design was painted in the middle of the floor—a heptagram enclosed in a circle, with more unfamiliar symbols intricately drawn between the lines. It must have taken someone hours to sketch that kind of detail on such a massive scale.

  Every available surface was littered with power tools—from drills and sanders to screwdrivers and table saws, their orange extension cords tangled on the floor. Gun racks covered an entire wall, but the weapons resting on them didn’t look anything like regular guns. Most of the barrels didn’t match the bodies, as if someone had welded two different firearms together.

  Someone like the kid sitting behind the workbench with a soldering iron in one hand, and a weapon straight out of a science-fiction movie in the other.

  A hoodie shrouded his pale features, revealing only a long strip of blond bangs. A huge pair of headphones hung around his neck, and he was so caught up in his work and the music blaring from the speakers that he didn’t notice us right away. How old was he? Fourteen?

  “Hey, you guys are back,” he shouted over the music, pushing his protective goggles on top of his head, which only made him look younger. “Check out what I’ve been working on.”

  He held up the remains of an automatic weapon complete with protruding bolts, crude soldering marks, and duct tape wrapped around the handle. The tape must’ve been his trademark.

  Please be normal.

  But what were the odds? The kid was building guns like they were model cars.

  “Can you turn that down?” Lukas yelled, pointing at the speakers.

  “No problem.” The boy leaned back and spun a dial behind him. He grinned at me and tossed the gun, or whatever it was, on the table. “You found her.”

  What was he talking about?

  Jared dropped the duffel bag and his shoulders relaxed. He lifted the weapon off the table and nodded his approval. “Looks good.”

  Lukas gestured at the kid. “Kennedy, this is Priest. Engineer, inventor, mechanic, and a few other things we haven’t figured out yet.”

  Priest flashed an impish grin. “Technically I’m a genius, but I prefer jack-of-all-trades. It sounds cooler. What’s your specialty, Kennedy?”

  “My specialty?” I was pretty sure he wasn’t referring to my grilled cheese.

  “You know, combat and weapons like Jared or mechanical engineering like me? What’s your poison?”

  Combat and weapons? Was he kidding? I’d never seen a gun before last night, when Lukas and Jared showed up in my room. Now I was staring at dozens of them.

  Priest waited for me to impress him with a mind-blowing talent I didn’t possess. Drawing didn’t seem on the same level as weapons and engineering.


  Lukas walked over and clamped his free hand on Priest’s shoulder, giving it an affectionate squeeze. “We’ll get to that later. Kennedy’s probably beat. We had a run-in with a poltergeist at her place.”

  Priest’s eyes widened. “For real? What happened? Spill.”

  Lukas recounted the story while Priest hung on every word. He wanted all the details. Exactly how powerful was it? How close did the knives come to hitting us? I couldn’t believe his reaction. The kid was completely fascinated by a situation that would’ve terrified most people, including me.

  Jared took a black metal toolbox down from the top of the fridge and sat on the floor, waving me over. I hesitated until he opened the box and I saw the medical supplies inside.

  “How old is he?” I whispered, tilting my head in Priest’s direction.


  “How old are you?”

  “Seventeen,” Jared answered without looking at me.

  I waited for him to ask me the same question. “Don’t you want to know how old I am?”

  “I already know you’re my age.” They probably had some kind of file on me, full of information I didn’t want them to know. Jared took out a bottle of peroxide and some gauze. “Lemme see your hands.”

  I held them up and wiggled my fingers. “They’re fine.”

  “Really?” Jared rotated my wrist gently, revealing a trail of bloody scrapes across my palm. I tried to ignore the way my skin tingled where his fingers touched. Resting my hand on his leg, he started to work the tiny bits of gravel out of my skin. He was so gentle that I barely felt it.

  Not what I expected from a guy who was heavily armed and always so serious.

; I stared at his long eyelashes. In any high school, the girls would be lining up for him. Was he in school before his father died? I wanted to ask, but it felt too personal while our hands were touching this way.

  I settled for something else. “What did Priest mean when he asked about my specialty?”

  “The original members of the Legion were experts in different areas—symbology, weaponry, alchemy, mathematics, engineering—and those specialties have been passed down,” he said. “They’ve probably changed a little in a couple hundred years, but you get the idea.”

  “More proof I’m not a member, and neither was my mom. I don’t have any talents except drawing, and my mother spent all her time cooking.” I tried to sound casual as he finished wrapping my hand. “So unless vengeance spirits are into art or baked goods, you’ve got the wrong girl.”

  Jared pressed the last piece of tape against my palm with his thumbs. He lifted his head slowly and for a second, his eyes met mine. “I don’t think you’re the wrong girl.”

  I knew he wasn’t talking about me the way a regular boy might, but it felt like he was.

  “Priest said your area of expertise is combat and weapons?”

  He examined the excessive amount of tape crisscrossing the bandage. “It’s definitely not first aid.”

  I pretended to inspect his work, my skin still tingling from his touch. “What does that mean exactly?”

  Lukas walked over and stepped in front of his brother, staring down at him. “It means Jared can kick some serious ass.”

  Jared seemed uncomfortable. He dropped what was left of the tape into the toolbox and stood up, disappearing behind the worktable without a word. Lukas took his brother’s place on the floor next to me. They looked so much alike that it almost seemed as though Jared was still sitting there.

  “What’s your specialty?” I asked, filling the awkward silence.


  “You lost me.”

  Lukas laughed, and I noticed a subtle physical difference between the two brothers. They had exactly the same intense blue eyes and long, straight lashes, but when Lukas smiled, his eyes opened up like a break in the clouds. The storm in Jared’s never parted.

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