Excerpt 1 From Cursed: The Guardian Chronicles, #1
When he walked out the bathroom, the nerves I’d thought I’d turned to steel started to quiver. What if he refused me? Khan was just as stubborn as I was. How could I possibly ask this of him? How could I get him to understand?
I took a deep breath and looked at him. “Khan, we need to talk.”
“Uh oh, that’s never what a guy wants to hear from his girl.”
My stomach fluttered, but I refused to give into the distraction. “I have a plan…in case we don’t find and kill the Gunshi. But I need your help to pull it off.”
He didn’t look taken aback, just more determined than anything. “Jazz, it’s too soon for you to give up now. We’ve got some really good leads, we can do this!”
I shook my head. “I’m not giving up, Khan. I never give up…you know that.” I smiled at him and was rewarded with one in return. “But…being a leader means having to think outside of myself…you and my dad taught me that. We have to prepare for all possibilities – even this.”
His dark eyes flashed and, for a second, I thought I was in for a long and hard fight. Then understanding washed over his features and he nodded. “As long as you promise this doesn’t mean you’ve given up.”
“Not even close – and giving in doesn’t even sound like me.”
He snorted. “That’s for sure.”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay, I think we can do this, but if not…I have a forgetting tonic to erase my memories. That way, in the very least, the vermin can’t use my knowledge against everyone I love.”
Khan jerked. “Where in the hell did you…?” Then he groaned. “Claudine.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “She always has been good at knowing what I need.”
His face was hard. “Okay, so I’ll make sure to wipe away your memories. I’ll erase everything that makes you, you – everything I’ve grown to know and care about. We done?”
I paused. “Not quite.”
He flinched. “I figured something more was coming when you said, ‘In the least’.”
I almost didn’t have the guts to continue. “Think about it, Khan. You can’t just leave me there, a newbie Suecai with the urge to feed. What if I came across my mom one day? Or your dad?
“You might not be able to do it immediately – there’s no telling how strong I’ll be at first or how protected – but eventually you’ll have to take me out! I shuddered at the thought. “What else can we do?”
The rage flew through his features even more quickly than when I’d told him I couldn’t be his Valentine in the sixth grade.
“Anything, Jazz,” Khan whispered. “We fight. We search. We keep pounding the pavement until we find that bastard. We do anything and everything.”
Words escaped me. A boulder set squarely on my chest and wouldn’t budge. I should’ve known this wouldn’t be easy – hadn’t I spent my entire life traipsing around Chicago with Khan? I shouldn’t have expected anything else.
Khan seemed to take my silence as an opportunity to change my mind. “You could learn control, Jazz, become a full-fledged Dorgai.” There it was, that secret hope I held deep in my heart that I was too scary to speak out loud.
“Khan, that’s impossible. There’s no way I can learn control if I’m forced into feeding too fast. The only way we halfers manage it is by taking an entire year to ease into the process. All of Dad’s advisors are agreed that I’ll become an uncontrollable Suecai.”
“I can’t believe that, Jazz. It can’t happen. Not to you.”
I couldn’t focus. My need to be rational kept battling the little girl within me reaching for a solution, any solution.
I didn’t notice Khan moving until it was too late.
Before I could say something to break the bubble, Khan stood over me, his face inches from mine. His eyes were warm and I could feel the heat of his breath, minty from his recent trip to the bathroom. My heart stopped. And then he was kissing me, slow and deep at first, and then with a heat and passion I’d only guessed he possessed.