Today, I’m really excited to help reveal the first chapter of Altered, the sequel to Gennifer Albin’s Crewel. I really enjoyed Crewel when I had the opportunity to read it last year and I’m eagerly awaiting Altered. And if you’ve read Crewel, you’ll understand when I say, “Guys, that ending! GAAHHH!” Thankfully, one lucky reader has the chance of winning an ARC at the end of this post to temporarily appease their suffering.
This is the second part of chapter one, so be sure to check out Bewitched Bookworms for the prologue and first section.
Part Two of Chapter One
Jost yanks me along as he runs toward the metro that lies miles away, farther under the hood of the strange raw weave of Arras. The other direction would take us toward the ocean and there will be nowhere to hide there. I stumble behind him, tripping against rocks in our path. Fragments of the wreckage drift by us as we run. The small sparkles of fiery debris are lovely against the black air but the clattering maelstrom behind us scrapes at my ears, and I reach up to cover them. I can’t attach what’s happened to me. How could I have done that?
“In here!” Erik’s cry stops our flight toward the metro. He waits against the rotting door frame of a shack that blends like a smudge into the shadowed landscape. The shack isn’t sturdy or large enough to have been a home. It’s hard to tell what purpose it once served—one lone building isolated miles from any other, withering and forgotten.
“You probably shouldn’t lean on that,” I point out as I near him.
He knocks the wooden frame with his fist and some dust sprinkles down as I duck inside the shack. “It’s sound enough.”
I think that is supposed to reassure me.
Erik steps outside. He’s keeping watch, waiting, like me, to see what will happen now. The downing of the ship won’t go unnoticed.
The air is heavy here. The chill of it and the lack of light, remind me of the cell I was kept in at the Coventry—and of the cells I visited only hours ago with Jost before we made our escape. It feels like years have passed already.
Someone flips on a handlight and I wonder what treasures we’ve brought from Arras in our pockets. I’m suddenly aware of weight in my own—the digifile. It will be useless here, I realize.
The battered structure and the somber darkness outside remind me how lost I am, and so I wait for something to change. Something to indicate I haven’t made a terrible mistake, but not even a breeze disturbs us here. We can’t hide for long now that I’ve attacked the ship. The Guild will find us whether we stay here or head back toward the metro. I can al- most see the gloating look that will be on Cormac’s too-perfect face when his officers catch us. By then they will have patched up the hole I ripped in the Coventry’s weave to get to Earth. He won’t waste any time sending me to be altered once he has me back. It will be straight to the clinic for me, to be made into an obedient Creweler and wife. Dread locks me to the spot, and I wait for the Guild to come and drag me away again. Erik, Jost, and I sit in silence for a long time before I start to relax. We’re hidden for now. Sheltered and safe, but most important, no one has come after us yet.
I want to go outside and search for the ship—to see what I’ve done. I want to study the strange raw weave that floats above us here. Instead I scrape through a layer of dust on the window to peek out. Jost stands beside me and brushes ash from my hair. He frowns, examining one of my arms. I look down. Small burns speckle my pale skin, some have even blistered. I’d been too terrified to feel it.
“Does it hurt?” Jost asks.
I shake my head and a bobby pin tumbles to the floor. “Here,” he says, reaching behind me. He tugs at the remaining pins until my hair swirls down across my shoulders in a cascade of scarlet. I shake it, trying to get any remaining debris out.
“Better?” I ask. We’re so close that my green eyes reflect back from his blue ones.
Jost swallows, but we’re interrupted before he can respond.
“What happened back there?” Erik demands.
“I caught the ship, but—”
“Nothing,” Jost cuts me off. “It was an accident.”
“Looked more like suicide to me. They’ll know exactly where we are now,” Erik says, taking a step toward his brother.
“What if it was looking for us?” I ask, balling my fists. “At least I bought us some time.”
“You destroyed it,” Erik says in a soft voice. Our eyes meet and I turn away. It was an accident, and he knows that. He isn’t accusing me of doing it on purpose. No, the accusation in his words is far more cutting. He’s accusing me of not being in control.
“I want to go check things out,” I say.
“We should wait until morning,” Jost suggests.
I take a slow, steadying breath. “I don’t think morning is coming.”
“They don’t have daylight here?” he asks.
“No.” Erik steps in. “Didn’t you see the sky? They don’t have a sun. It’s that weave we fell through when she ripped us from Arras.”
So Erik noticed the raw weave suspended above Earth, too. But how much did he notice? Did he see the ship was attached to the sky?
“I want to get a better look at it,” I say, and start toward the door.
“If there are any survivors on that ship, they could be out there,” Jost argues.
The splitting hull flashes through my mind and the memory of ripping metal scratches in my ears. No one could live through that.
“There are no survivors,” I say.
“She’s right,” Erik says. It’s not a friendly agreement, but it isn’t hostile. He’s cool and distant.
“I won’t be long,” I assure Jost.
“Do you think you’re going alone?” he asks.
“I can take care of myself. I’m not some helpless girl.” “She’s right again,” Erik calls from the dark recess he’s crouched in. “Look what she’s gotten us into.”
I bite my lip. That was hostile. Definitely not his usual friendly banter.
“I know that,” Jost says loudly. “But none of us should be wandering around on our own.”
I study his face for a moment, wondering if he would be so eager to escort his brother to check out the landscape. I decide not to ask.
But Jost continues. “Of course you’re welcome to wander off anytime.”
I guess that answers that.
Continuing reading the first chapter tomorrow on Xpresso Reads!
Monday, May 20—Prologue and Part One of Chapter One
Tuesday, May 21—Part Two of Chapter One
Cuddlebuggery (You are here now!)
Wednesday, May 22—Part Three of Chapter One
Thursday, May 23—Part Four of Chapter One
Friday, May 24—Part Five of Chapter One
Crewel is out now!
Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift — the ability to weave the very fabric of reality— they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.
Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls. Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power. Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.
Are you excited to read more of Altered? I know I am! Thanks to the awesome folks at Macmillan, there is an ARC of Altered up for grabs!
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