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  • Home > C.C. Hunter > Chosen at Nightfall     

    Chapter One

    Kylie Galen looked up from the slice of pepperoni pizza on the fine china plate and tried to ignore the ghost swinging the bloody sword right behind her grandfather and great-aunt. Her newfound family members were ... good people, but a tad on the proper side. And proper people probably wouldn't appreciate an uninvited ghost getting their dining room walls bloody.

    The spirit, a female, dark flowing hair, in her early thirties, stopped in mid-swing and stared directly at Kylie. You kill or be killed. It's really rather simple. The words reverberated in Kylie's head. They were communicating telepathically, and considering the topic being discussed, that was probably for the best.

    That's not simple, Kylie shot back. And I'm trying to eat, so would you mind leaving?

    That's rude, the ghost said. You're supposed to help spirits. You need to abide by your guidelines.

    Kylie twisted the cloth napkin she'd placed in her lap. Okay, was there something written in the rule books about a ghost whisperer having to be polite to obnoxious spirits?

    Oh, wait, she didn't have a freaking rule book, or guidelines. She was winging it. Winging everything, in fact: ghost whispering, being a supernatural, being someone's girlfriend.

    Being someone's ex-girlfriend!

    Lately it felt like she was winging her whole damned life, and making a fine mess of things, too. Like her decision to leave Shadow Falls, the camp/recently turned boarding school for paranormal teens. It had felt like the right thing to do at the time.

    Had.

    She'd been here at the chameleons' compound less than two weeks, and she wasn't so sure anymore.

    True, she'd had a good reason to come-to discover more about her paranormal heritage. To get to know Malcolm Summers, her grandfather, and her great-aunt Francyne.

    Months after learning she wasn't all human, she'd finally discovered she was a chameleon, a rare species that had gone into hiding after an organized unit of the paranormal government, the Fallen Research Unit, the FRU, had used them as lab rats to try to explain their abilities. Kylie's own grandmother had died as a result. And now the same branch of the FRU wanted to take Kylie in for testing. That was so not happening!

    However, Kylie's main motivation for leaving Shadow Falls didn't have anything to do with the FRU, or with finding out about her heritage. Nope. It had everything to do with running away.

    Running away from Lucas, the werewolf she'd fallen in love with. The werewolf who had promised his soul to another werewolf and expected Kylie to believe it meant nothing. How could he have done that? How could he have kissed Kylie with all that passion for the last month, yet every time he went to his dad's house, he was seeing that girl? How could Kylie stay at Shadow Falls and continue to face him?

    The problem was, she might have run away from Lucas, but she'd brought the heartbreak with her. Andnow, she wasn't just hurting over a certain werewolf; she was hurting because ... every cell in her body missed Shadow Falls. Okay, so maybe not really Shadow Falls, but she missed the people. Friends who had become as close as family: Holiday, the fae camp leader, who was like a big sister. Burnett, the stern vampire, the other camp leader who was a friend and sort of a father figure wrapped into one. Her two roommates, Della and Miranda, who'd felt abandoned by Kylie when she left. And Derek, who'd vowed his love to her, even when he knew she loved Lucas.

    Oh God, she missed everyone so much. Amazingly, she was only a few miles away from Shadow Falls, tucked away in a secluded spot in what Texans referred to as the hill country, and yet it might as well have been across the world.

    Sure, she'd spoken to Holiday every day. At first, her grandfather had refused her this right, but her aunt had insisted he see reason. He'd relented, but only if she used a certain phone and kept the conversations very short, so the calls couldn't be traced. And by no means could Kylie tell anyone where she was.

    Because of the camp's affiliation with the FRU, her grandfather didn't trust anyone at Shadow Falls.

    And his distrust only added to Kylie's feelings of isolation from everyone she loved. Even her mom, who called to inform her that she was about to fly to England with John, her mom's new boyfriend, whom Kylie wasn't so sweet on. Sure, her granddad allowed her to call her mom back every time she called. So they had spoken twice. But only twice.

    Kylie's throat knotted with tears, but she refused to cry. She had to be strong. Pull up her big-girl panties and be an adult.

    "Is the pizza to your liking?" Francyne, her great-aunt, asked.

    "Yes, it's great." Kylie watched the two older people slice into their piece of pepperoni pizza as if it were steak. She knew they served it just for her-because after barely touching her meals these last few days, they'd asked about her favorite foods. Feeling obligated, both to eat and to comply with their show of manners, she forced herself to cut a bite of pizza from her slice and slip it into her mouth.

    She wasn't vampire right now, so she should be able to enjoy food. But nope.

    Nothing tasted right.

    Nothing felt right.

    Not eating pizza with a fork off a fine china plate that looked old and rare enough to be in a museum.

    Not sitting at this fancy dining table with a formal place setting. And especially not feeling right was the spirit who now moved in closer to her grandfather and held the sword over his head.

    Kylie stared at the spirit. Either tell me exactly what you need, that doesn't involve murder, or go away.

    A drop of blood splattered onto her grandfather's forehead. Not that he could feel it or see it. But Kylie could. The spirit performed this show just to get Kylie's attention.

    And it was working.

    Stop it! Leave. Kylie shot a warning glance at the spirit.

    You are in a nasty mood, huh? the ghost said.

    Yeah, she was, Kylie admitted to herself. A broken heart would do that to you. It pretty much sucked the joy out of life. Or maybe what sucked the most was missing everyone.

    Not that Kylie's time here had been in vain. She'd discovered a lot about herself, about chameleons,these thirteen days. Chameleons had only come into being in the last hundred years. While they considered themselves a species, they were really a blend of all paranormals-individuals who retained the DNA and powers of all the species.

    Problem was, learning to control that power was a real bitch. Most chameleons didn't even master the feat until their mid-twenties. Not that there were a lot of young chameleons trying to master things.

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