The Everlast 1
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Her gift will bring light to a world of darkness…
- Reluctant Hero
- Slight Love Triangle
- Light vs Dark
- Post-Apocalyptic Setting
Her gift will bring light to a world of darkness…
In 2047, the world exists in permanent darkness. Nineteen-year-old Nadine, a student at NYU, works hard to better her family’s life in the harsh conditions. When she starts having strange visions of someone named Victor, she tries to ignore the flashes, afraid she might be going insane.
But when she bumps into a very real Victor, her entire world shifts. Her visions taking a turn for the worse, Nadine is bombarded with prophecies of eerie fates, unfamiliar gods, sharp-clawed demons… and instructions. Along with the reluctant Victor, she finds her path entwined with yet another man, Micah, who may be able to shed light on her dark revelations.
Directed down an unbelievable path of magic and mayhem, the three must unravel clues from the visions in order to restore an ancient creed. The chance to bring sunlight to the world again is in Nadine’s gift, but only if the evil forces behind the darkness don’t manage to stop her first.
If you like Urban Fantasy Romance with Post-Apocalyptic elements, you’ll love this action-packed story about destiny, self-discovery, and love.
Series complete! Binge read now!
Book 1: Destiny Gift
Book 2: Soul Oath
Book 3: Cup of Life
Book 4: Everlasting Circle
When I was little, my grandma told me, “Nadine, before the sun left us, you could look up and estimate what time it was just by the position of the sun in the sky.”
Holding my breath, I walked out of the subway station into the street and looked up. All I saw were tall buildings, most of them in need of some love and care, reaching up to thick, dark gray clouds, the same ones that had been a permanent fixture in the sky for my entire nineteen years.
I wasn’t sure why I kept trying.
Exhaling, I focused on my task, on why I was uptown and not safely behind the gates of the university. To be honest, I wasn’t letting myself think about it too much. Otherwise, I would freeze. I would turn back around and flee. I would go home and pretend everything was all right.
One measured step in front of the other, I walked from the subway station to the next block. All the while my eyes stared straight ahead, and I breathed through my mouth. Even then I caught a sniff of the rotting smells of the city; my eyes drifted to the broken sidewalks, to the fallen street lamps, to the dying trees and dry dirt, to the homeless people hiding at the edge of alleys.
I swallowed the fear building inside me. As far as I knew, this had been a nice neighborhood until a couple of months ago. As nice as a neighborhood could be in this world. Larger companies and businesses moved out as soon as it started getting bad—poverty and robbers and bats—but not everyone could afford to pack up and move.
Like the psychiatrist I had scheduled an appointment with.
At first, I pushed my problems aside. I ignored them. But now I couldn’t anymore, and this was the only psychiatrist from the over twenty I called who had an appointment available. The others wanted to put me on a wait list at least three months long.
No, thank you.
I stopped at a corner and waited for a green light to change. I glanced up at the tall building with a mirror-like exterior across the street, reflecting more buildings and the dark clouds. There. Right there was the psychiatrist who would be able to help me with my problem.
The faint sound of wings flapping echoed through the street, and everyone looked up. Including me. Among the reflection of buildings and dark clouds, I saw the blurred line of a bat cutting through the sky. Thankfully, it disappeared with my next erratic heartbeat.
These damn bats …
The people in the street seemed to relax all at once.
A sigh escaped my lips.
But the bats weren’t the reason I was here, coming to this shady neighborhood after a psychiatrist. I needed help because I had dreams.
Dreams was the word I used to calm my mind. Visions was a more appropriate term.
The first one happened right after my arrival in New York nine months ago. At first the visions came once a month or so, but now they assaulted me once a week. I blacked out every time I had one. I could be cooking, studying, walking down the street, and I would simply zone out. I saw whatever the vision brought me, then I would wake up as if nothing had happened, as if I had not spent the last thirty seconds or fifteen minutes daydreaming.
I was reluctant to call my visions hallucinations. Yet now, heading toward a psychiatrist’s office, I guess I should. Hallucinations could be stopped with medication, right? That was why I was here—to ask the doctor to put an end to them. The visions were hindering my life. Last semester, I failed a class because I had visions during too many lectures and exams. Three days ago, I dropped a tray on a customer at the café where I waited tables. My boss almost fired me, accusing me of being distracted all the time. I was losing control of my life, and that made me scared.
On the other hand, if I stopped hallucinating, I would stop seeing him.
Every time I forced myself to think about this, about the dilemma of my life, I felt my soul ripping into two big chunks. But, in the end, his chunk was always bigger.
I could feel the smile taking over my lips. It was impossible not to smile when thinking about my Prince Charming.
A shove cut through my thoughts, and I scrambled to keep my balance.
“Move,” a deep voice said. A big man walked by with long steps, rushing through the crosswalk.
“Crap,” I muttered, gathering my wits and hurrying before the light became green again.
There weren’t many cars on the streets anymore, but people had gotten crazier. More violent and aggressive. Drivers didn’t respect pedestrians like they used to. Or at least that was what I was told.
A shrill cry brought a chill to my spine, and I froze in place, halfway through the crosswalk. Oh my God, it could only be the bats.
“Rain!” someone shouted. “Acid rain!”
Screams rang all around me. Everyone started running.
Another shove sent me stumbling back and into someone else. “I’m sorry,” I said, turning around to whoever I had bumped into, but the person had already dashed away.
My heart sped up and my hands shook.
Then it happened.
A little drop of rain fell on my cheek, burning as if I had extinguished the end of a cigarette into my skin.
The pain radiated over my face, jerking me awake and into action.
With erratic movements, I pulled my jacket over my head, trying to keep my hands under the leather, and raced back to the sidewalk. There weren’t many places to hide as most shops weren’t open to the public anymore, so I ducked under the awning of a small newsstand, pressing myself into a sea of bodies, just as the rain intensified.
The sizzling sound of the rain hitting metal and the people who still ran for cover was agonizing. I shut my eyes, wishing I could silence my hearing for a minute too.
Small and thin, I was easily pushed back and pressed against the cold wall of the stand. I laid my hand flat against it, realizing it was made of metal. I sure hoped there was something else underneath the metal, or that this specific kind of rain didn’t melt this kind of material as it sometimes did. It was impossible to know until after it started and caused damage. Meteorology was a profession from the past; no one could predict anything about the crazy weather or the world anymore.
Something bright above my head caught my eye and I looked up. A set of wooden numbers was nailed high on the metal wall. From the three numbers, only the eight shone as bright as a lantern.
“Help!” A broken scream reached my ears, and I forced my attention away from the freaky shining number eight. “Please, help me.”
I tried looking out through the crowd in front of me, but I was too short. Instead, I crouched down and saw it. A young woman, probably my age, on her knees right at the beginning of the crosswalk, howling in pain as she held up a backpack, trying to shield herself from the rain.
A gasp ripped from my throat, and my hand flew to my chest. Fighting against the rain washing over her and the water accumulating on the road, the young woman tried pushing herself up, only to stumble and fall on her knees again. Her foot seemed twisted.
“Help!” She croaked again. Her skin was marred with tiny red spots, her clothes were sizzling away, and her backpack was practically melting in her bruised hands.
I looked at the big men in front of me. “Do something,” I said over the heavy sound of the pouring rain. Nobody paid attention to me. “We have to do something.”
A tall man, who looked to be in his late thirties, looked over his shoulders, his eyes never meeting mine. “She’s lost. If you want to help her, it’ll be your doom too.”
I clenched and unclenched my hands as rage built inside my chest. I couldn’t believe these people would just stand there and watch.
I didn’t think; I just acted.
Adrenaline shot through my veins and propelled me as I pulled my leather jacket back over my head, pushed the big men aside, and ran into the rain. I rushed to the girl, who whimpered and trembled and cried desperately. Little droplets of rain singed the skin of my hands as I reached for her and, holding to her drenched clothes, pulled her up.
“Come on,” I said, biting back a scream of my own. “Help me so I can help you.”
I grabbed her arm and pulled it over my shoulders, not caring if it was over my skin or my clothes. Thankfully, the girl had more strength in her than I thought, and she carried most of her weight as I half-dragged, half-guided her back to the newsstand.
However, using their jackets and bags and even their shoes, the big men pushed us away.
“Hey, let us come under the damn awning,” I cried. But they just pushed us back again.
The rain continued falling, and my jacket was only scraps of fabric by now. My chest tightened as I realized we couldn’t stand here and keep fighting. The girl and I had to move. So, without wasting another breath, I tugged on her waist and guided her to the building behind the newsstand. There was no awning in sight, no porch or cover, and the ones I saw at a first glance seemed full of people. I didn’t want to waste time asking them to let us squeeze with them.
Instead, I went directly into the narrow alley beside the building. There had to be a place to hide in there.
I was right. The moment we stepped into the dark alley, the rain was gone. I looked up and saw balconies jutting out from both buildings, providing cover.
Relieved about our good luck, I helped the girl down to the dirty but dry ground, and she slumped against the wall. My breath caught as I knelt in front of her and looked over her. There were nasty red blisters everywhere, mostly second and third-degree burns. Her clothes were in tatters—her pants were gone from her knees down, and her shins were bleeding in several spots. Her shoes weren’t in much better condition, and I bet her feet were in even worse shape inside them. Even some of her hair seemed to have been burned away with the acid rain; blood soaked in her scalp. Her face … I gagged, realizing her face would never be the same.
“T-thanks,” she croaked, her eyes half open.
This girl needed medical attention right now. “Hang in there.” I fished my phone from inside my purse and—
Her hand shot up, grabbing my wrist and pulling it down. Her touch, still slick with the water from the rain, burned me and I bit back the scream that rose in my throat.
“T-talk to me,” she whispered.
“I would rather call for help.” I jerked my hand free from hers so I could call 911.
“It’s too late.”
“Don’t say that.”
“What’s your name?” I blinked. This girl was crazier than I was. Why the hell did she want to know my name when she was too hurt to even talk? “Tell me,” she insisted.
“Nadine. My name is Nadine Sterling. Now, just rest and hang in there. Save your breath. I’m gonna call for help.”
“I’m Rose,” she said, her voice a thin murmur. “T-thank you, Nadine, for coming for me. You’re a good person.” Then she closed her eyes. Heavy, her head rolled to the side and her body followed.
Mouth open wide, I just stared at her limp body. A sob rose in my throat, but I swallowed it. I hadn’t known this girl; I shouldn’t care. Except that I did. I always cared. I hated seeing innocents get hurt, and this girl had done nothing to deserve this horrible, horrible death.
I didn’t know how long I stayed there, staring at her, wishing I could have helped her sooner, wishing I had seen her before I had first reached the newsstand. Then maybe, just maybe, I would have been able to help her.
Eventually, the rain stopped and the people and traffic started moving again. As if nothing had happened. As if they weren’t hurt at all by the few droplets of acid rain that had hit them, as if there weren’t debris of melted awnings or signs in the middle of the streets, as if there wasn’t a dead girl in this alley.
Hands shaking, I stood and took a large step back.
I inhaled deeply as something sharp prickled my skin.
“No sudden movements,” a deep, coarse voice said from behind me. I didn’t move, but I could feel him. A tall man with a knife in his hand, pressed against my back. I whimpered. “Hand me your purse.”
“Okay,” I muttered, trying to clamp down my fear. Slowly, I reached for the strap across my shoulders. I sucked in a sharp breath and prayed the man was paying attention to the hand over my shoulder, and not the one I snuck inside my purse. My fingers wrapped around my pepper spray, and I slowly drew it out before pulling the purse over my head. “Here.”
The sharp sting of the knife loosened and I acted. In a rush, I stepped away from the man and turned around, swinging my purse in his direction. He raised his arms to block the attack.
“What the fuck?” he yelled, reaching for me. I had the pepper spray ready and sprayed it all over his face. “Bitch!” he screamed, clawing at his eyes.
I ran for several blocks, zigzagging through sidewalks and streets, just in case the man wanted revenge, and finally hopped into the subway to go home. I sat down on an almost empty cart, my heart heavy, my mind jumbled, and my stomach in knots. What the hell had happened? A sob lodged in my throat as images of the girl dying in the rain filled my mind.
Five minutes into my subway ride, I gasped. I had left uptown without having set foot in the psychiatrist office.
My shoulders deflated. Damn it. All the trouble I had finding an appointment that didn’t conflict with my classes, lying to my roommate, and getting some time off work.
But maybe … maybe it was a sign. With the acid rain and the robbery to distract me, to stop me, I was almost convinced I wasn’t supposed to go to a psychiatrist and put an end to my visions.
Maybe I was supposed to be crazy.
Or maybe I was reading too much into the situation and should get off this subway and run back to the psychiatrist’s office before I lost my appointment and had to go through all this trouble again to get another one.
And just like that I was back in my dilemma: being crazy and having my Prince Charming, versus being normal and losing him.
I blew out a long breath, already sure of my choice.
I didn’t care that every Saturday night my roommate gave me a lecture about being young and pretty and smart, about going out, having fun, and making out. I had happily exchanged those parties she’d wanted to drag me to just to see my Prince Charming. And I would do it again.
Saying goodbye to him scared me, but it wasn’t the only thing that made my stomach shrivel. What if I was really insane? What if I was sent to a clinic under heavy sedation? What if I was given those shock treatments horror movies pictured so often? I couldn’t be incarcerated in a freak’s clinic—not willingly at least.
And I couldn’t lose my Prince Charming either.