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Ordinary anything but se.., p.15

Ordinary (Anything But Series Book 1), page 15


Ordinary (Anything But Series Book 1)

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  He pounced before she knew what was happening. As his arms went around her, her warm body mocked him, showed him all he was not. Christian flung her against the wall, showing no mercy. He twisted her shirt in his fist, his body flat against hers. He wondered if he stayed that way long enough, if her body heat would seep into him and warm him.

  “What do you want?” he growled, glaring down at her. She wasn’t afraid of him. He could tell by the way she was watching him. Why didn’t she have enough sense to be?

  “Christian. It’s me…Honor.”

  His name on her lips…it was enough to almost bring him to his knees. His name was Christian. Christian Turner. He was eighteen years old. He couldn’t forget that. He had to remember, no matter what. Again she must have been under the misconception the virus altered his memory. He remembered her. Christian always would. He knew that as instinctively as he used to breathe.

  “I know who you are.”

  She stared into his eyes, searching for something. Honor must have found it because her body relaxed slightly. What did she see when she looked into his eyes? She seemed fascinated by them.

  “You have to get out of here. They’re hunting you down.”

  As if he hadn’t known that already. “And what are you doing?”

  Her throat convulsed as she repeatedly swallowed. “They said I had to talk to you, had to try to make you come willingly.”

  “So why aren’t you?”

  “It’s not right, what they’re doing. It’s not right to any of us. You have to get out of here, before they make you go back.”

  Christian studied her eyes for a mistruth. He found none. “And if I don’t go back?”

  “They’ll kill you. They’re right behind me. You have to get out of here, Christian.”

  He hung his head, his face near her neck. Christian inhaled her sweet scent, a part of him aching for everything soft and warm that he would never have again. “Where will I go? They’ll find me no matter what.”

  “Cut it out.”

  Christian lifted his head and stared into her eyes. Honor looked back, unflinching. “What?”

  “There’s a GPS chip in the skin under your left ear. It’s the size of a pencil eraser. Cut it out.”

  He’d suspected something along those lines. That was the only explanation as to how the UDKs could always find him. Why would she tell him that?

  “Why should I believe you?”

  “They put it in when you were unconscious. That’s how we could find you.” Christian heard them approach, watched Honor as she realized they were no longer alone. “They’re coming. Get out of here! Go.” She struggled against him, trying to push at him. Honor’s attempts were laughingly ineffective.

  If he ran, he would probably die. If he stayed, he would probably die. Those weren’t exactly winning odds.

  “Stay right there,” Ryder said from behind him.

  Christian knew without looking there was a gun pointed at him. If there was a gun pointed at him, it meant Ryder intended to kill him. The guy had never liked him. He heard another approach, and another. Christian felt the heat their bodies gave off and smelled their signature scents—Burns and Nealon. Of course they had guns trained on him as well. He wouldn’t expect any less, especially from Nealon. Christian had been warned.

  Honor looked at him, intently staring into his eyes. Christian drew strength from the fierceness of her gaze. It made him want to survive, to live even if it was in a way he never would have wanted.

  She whispered, “Run.”

  Christian released her and sprinted down the alleyway. He heard the shot, expected to feel pain, and when he didn’t, kept going. It wasn’t until he was at the end of the alleyway that something made him turn around. Everything went dim; everything went silent, when Christian realized what he was seeing.

  Nealon was holding a limp Honor against his chest, disbelief and rage distorting his features. Christian could smell her sickly sweet blood that should never have been spilled. She was pale, unmoving, her eyes closed. Ryder dropped a gun and sank to his knees, his hands over his face. Burns watched with no expression on his face, his lips clamped around an unlit cigarette. He had a cell phone in his hand.

  Ryder had shot her. Anguish stabbed his heart. If she died, everything human in him died as well. Pain and fury clashed within him, the need to tear Ryder apart urging him toward him. Christian fought it, but his feet moved toward him regardless. How could he do that? How could he hurt someone like Honor? Christian wanted to roar with the senseless barbarism of it. He was going to kill him. He was going to kill Ryder and he was going to enjoy it.

  The agent looked up, met his eyes, and in them, Christian saw what he had to do. He stood there, torn. His eyes told him to go.

  I will come back for her, Christian silently vowed.

  Nealon’s eyes narrowed a fraction and his lips thinned before he looked away, his attention drawn back to Honor. That look had said, We’ll see about that.

  Christian melded with the shadows, became one with them. As guilt and anger attached to his cold blood, interweaved until they were a part of him, he made a promise to himself. The UD Headquarters, every single one of them, were going down. It was time for the UDs to rise up, to take back control of their lives. The UDKS didn’t own them, any of them, and it was time they realized that. They were only as strong as the UDs let them be. He was stronger, faster, better than any of them. Christian was going to show them just how much. It was time for the UDs to rule the UDKs. First Christian had to find a knife, and then he had to find other UDs.

  For an eighteen year old, Ryder had a lot of responsibilities; to his mother, to the organization, but rarely to himself. Some days he only wanted to be a kid. He wanted to play sports, watch movies, eat junk food, and mess around with girls. On those days when he tried to rebel, the collar of obligation tightened around his neck until he almost couldn’t breathe. Ryder had learned not to yearn for things.

  He and his mother, Victoria Delagrave, had moved to the small town of Anderson Junction, Wisconsin per Superior August’s request two years ago with the sole purpose of imbedding himself into the lives of Honor Rochester and Christian Turner. Ryder hadn’t had a choice in the matter.

  After his father was killed, everything changed. His whole life, everything he’d known, had been usurped, taken from him, rearranged. On top of dealing with his father’s death and his mother’s grief, plus his own, he’d had to adapt to a new school, new surroundings—a new him. It had happened in threes, like all bad things in life. The virus had kicked in, his dad was killed, and they moved from a large city with everything in it to a rinky-dink town there was nothing to do in.

  Ryder folded a pair of pajama pants, ignoring the pain in his chest. It was always there; ready to render him useless if he let it. So he didn’t. He didn’t know what he would have been like had Superior August not offered support in the wake of his dad’s death. He owed him a lot. Ryder owed him his life.

  Everything in his large gold-colored room was in its place. The king-sized bed in the middle of the room with its burgundy and gold comforter was always made, unless Ryder was sleeping in it. A housekeeper came every other day to clean, but he wouldn’t let her touch his room. It was his responsibility.

  He stared at his image in the mirror above his dresser, not recognizing the harsh light in the eyes that looked back at him. Ryder practiced smiling, kept doing it until it didn’t feel so stiff or look so unnatural. He couldn’t help the mocking lift to it. There was no way around that.

  He sighed. It was time to go to school.

  Ryder went down the white staircase; a hand on the intricately carved wood. His boots echoed through the empty foyer. His mother would be in bed. It was where she spent most of her time since her husband’s death. Either that or perched in a chair with a glass of wine in her hand. She and that wine glass; they were connected, they were one.

  When Michael Delagrave died, someone might as well have put a bullet in his
wife as well. It would have had the same results. He paused on the last step, his head lowered as he struggled with the pain and guilt that forever taunted him. Once it had faded back into the background it lived in until it decided to torment him again, Ryder straightened.

  “Mom?” he called, knocking on the closed door of her bedroom.

  When she didn’t respond, he pushed the door open, his eyes adjusting to the dim interior, his nose to the smell of alcohol. It had to be seeping from her pores. Ryder moved to the queen-sized bed with the satiny silver bedspread. A dark blond head peeped out from under the blanket.

  “Mom?” He gently shook her shoulder and she moved to her side so that her back was to him, mumbling in her sleep. Ryder stared down at her small form, feeling a little lost. He swallowed and slowly retreated from the room, shutting the door with a soft click.

  In the large yellow and white kitchen rarely used, Ryder wrote her a note, made sure the coffeemaker was ready for her to be able to push a button and brew coffee, and walked to the front door. He took a deep breath, straightened his shoulders, and put on his public face. Ryder never left the house without it on.

  The first person his eyes really saw and lingered on were Honor Rochester. She was walking into the school with her friend Anna. A tinkling sound of joy wafted through the air and over him, tormenting him and warming him at the same time. It was the sound of Honor’s laughter.

  He stayed back, far enough away to not draw attention to himself. Not that it mattered. Honor was the only girl that looked past him, didn’t see him, wanted nothing to do with him. It annoyed him like nothing else could because she was the one girl Ryder wanted to see him, the real him, even though he knew it was wrong and he shouldn’t.


  He turned from the entrance to the lunchroom and faced Natasha. It was chili for lunch today so he wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get there. She braked to a stop within touching distance of him, her chest rising and falling with her quick breaths.

  “What is it?”

  Her eyes were heavily made up, her hair a mess. Ryder didn’t understand her obsession with being different, with wanting to stick out. He knew from experience it wasn’t all it seemed to be. She should have known too. What was she trying to prove? He thought he knew, but it didn’t matter, not to him.

  “It’s Christian,” she gasped out, trying to catch her breath.

  The pulse in her neck rapidly fluttered, drawing Ryder’s eyes to it. He met her eyes, watching as her pixie face flushed. “What about him?”

  “He’s turning.”

  Ryder narrowed his eyes on her. “Into what?”

  Natasha ran a hand through her hair, messing it up more. She leaned close and he resisted a need to move away. Natasha smelled like cigarettes. His mother smoked. Ryder hated that old tobacco smell.


  He stiffened, lowering his voice as he asked, “You’re sure?”

  “Oh yeah. Saw the weird eyes and gray aura forming and everything.”

  “Did you contact Headquarters?”

  “Yeah. They said it was taken care of.”

  Ryder looked around them. Kids were hurrying into the lunchroom like they actually enjoyed the school’s food. Maybe they were starving. “Okay.” He moved away, toward the world he pretended he was a part of.

  “That’s it?”

  He looked back at Natasha. She shifted her feet, trying to look tough and ruining it when she bit her lower lip. What did she expect of him? What did she want? She was the only other UDK in the school, so far. Maybe she thought it meant something significant. Just because they were on the same side didn’t mean they were a team. He didn’t do the whole friend thing. They weren’t bonded somehow; they weren’t anything. She apparently liked to think they were.

  “That’s it.”

  Her face fell and she quickly turned her frown into a sneer. “Okay. Whatever.” The finishing touch was a rolling of the eyes. Natasha tried so hard to be bad and only accomplished making her vulnerability even more noticeable.

  Whatever is right, he thought, ambling into the lunchroom. Ryder knew Natasha Becwar’s mother was a UD. He knew Natasha didn’t know how to deal with that, knowing her mother was one of them and she was a UDK. She didn’t know where she belonged. Natasha tried to fit in with the UDKs, but most of them spurned her because of her mother, so she was a loner more than anything. No side accepted her. Ryder wasn’t like the others. He just didn’t care either way. He didn’t care about too much at all.

  He saw Christian entering the English room. He was jittery, sweating, and his expression was pained. The grayness wavered around him, a force field of undead DNA corrupting his body. He looked up with his silvery eyes and caught Ryder watching him, and quickly disappeared into the room.

  There was one other UD in the school. A girl who’d turned last year; her sophomore year. It had changed her in more ways than the obvious. Once vibrant and easily excitable, now whenever Ryder saw her she was subdued and quiet. Her name was Meredith Silvers. She acted particularly scared of Ryder, though he’d given her no reason to be. He’d never even spoken a word to her.

  Ryder almost thought UDs would be better off dead. He didn’t mean it cruelly; he was being realistic. Then there wouldn’t be the risk of them flipping out and going on killing sprees, then they wouldn’t have to live a half-life. It seemed the humane thing to do.

  He wandered the hallways, actually enjoying the quietness of them. Two more weeks to go and he would be done with school for good, ready to enter the UDK organization full-time. It’s what he’d been trained to do for as long as he could remember; first by his father, then by Superior August. His father had been stationed under Superior August and had been a leader of the UDKs until he’d been killed.

  Ryder’s jaw clenched and his hands fisted. He wanted to despise her, to blame her, but it wasn’t really her fault. If Honor turned out to be a UD Ryder suspected he’d feel differently. Still, he knew he couldn’t hate her. Ryder didn’t think he’d ever be able to. She was so annoyingly noble, like her name. How many times throughout his time there had he seen her take on a bully, help someone who couldn’t help themselves? Honor was a better person than he’d ever be. She was a natural leader.

  She was also the daughter of his father’s murderer.

  Ryder was almost out the doors when Natasha called his name. She had to be the most irritating girl he’d ever met. Just one day Ryder would like to go without her following along behind him, trying to get his attention.

  He pressed his lips together and slowly faced her. “What?” Natasha flinched and Ryder felt like an ass. “What is it, Natasha?” he asked in a nicer tone.

  “I think Honor Rochester turned too.”

  His stomach dropped and it was suddenly hard for Ryder to draw air into his lungs. Hadn’t that been what he’d wanted? It would make everything so much easier. It would make it easier to hold her responsible, to loathe her. He was surprised to find he didn’t want that at all, that it made him feel sick even.

  “She’s a UD?” he rasped out, leaning against a locker to stay upright. It was hot in the school, too hot. Kids walked by, oblivious to the tragedy being told to Ryder.

  Natasha blinked, frowning. “No. She was watching Christian in history class. She knew something was happening. No one else in the classroom acted like they noticed anything, but she did.”

  Honor was a UDK then, like him. Ryder went weak with the relief that knowledge gave him. He shouldn’t care. It didn’t matter, didn’t change anything. Except it did. He wanted to be able to shut his emotions off, to think only instead of feel, especially where she was concerned. His head told him one thing and his heart told him another.

  “That’s…I’ll let Superior August know.”

  Natasha rubbed her arms with her hands like she was cold. Ryder didn’t understand that since it had to be close to eighty in the building that had no air conditioning.

  “Doesn’t he creep you out a l

  Ryder went still, felt ice chips cool his eyes. “No. He was there for me when my father died. He’s a good man. You should be careful what you say about people, Natasha, and who you say it to.”

  She stared at him like she was finally seeing him for the first time. Good. Let her be wary of him. “Right. I’ll remember that.” She spun on her heel and hurried from the school.

  He turned back to the emptying hallway, away from the door, and headed for the bathroom. He needed water. His throat was dry, parched. He pushed the door open as someone pulled and was surprised to see Honor. He looked at the blue walls to make sure he was in the right room. She wore a pink top and shorts and smelled like summer.

  As always, when he looked at her; he thought one thing and said another.

  He thought of how pretty she was, how beautiful her blue eyes were. They looked like a crystal and forever sparkled with heat; be it with sorrow, anger, or sympathy. Honor’s eyes told all with one look.

  What he said was, “Hello, Honor. Were you waiting for me?”

  She got that annoyed look Ryder associated with her view of him. “Yes. I was waiting for you, in the boys’ bathroom, hoping you’d show. I know it’s your most favorite place to be. Glad I got to see you. Now, please move.” Her voice trembled, showing she was upset about something.

  His heart gave a twinge, so of course he smiled mockingly. “You know you want me. Don’t deny it. I’d want me too if I was a girl.” What? Had he really just said that? He’d exceeded beyond the definition of stupidity with those words.

  “Do you know how disturbing that sounds?”

  Yeah. He really did. Ryder leaned forward, smelling her sweet skin, and said quietly into her ear, “I’m a disturbing kind of guy.”

  Honor jerked away, her eyes large in her pale face. “That’s the first thing you’ve ever said to me that is actually true.”

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