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With Joshua's recent disappearance, Olivia has little choice but to head into the dangerous Gravelands as the new government wrestles with fixing the damage to society. Joining forces with her estranged father and a girl from Haven, they go on a search-and-rescue mission to find Joshua and bring him back alive. If traveling through outlaw territory isn't frightening enough, Olivia learns she has exposed her secret and is hunted by her allies.
Publisher's note: Unlike most of the books available at Blushing Books, this is not erotica/romance. It's appropriate for young adult (& older) readers. If you enjoyed "The Hunger Games" & "Divergent", you'll enjoy the "Aberrant" series.
I wasn't good with waiting. I paced the length of the atrium. My feet bounced along the tiled floor. Every few moments, I glanced back at the closed doors. I wanted to be a part of the meeting, but I understood my place. I wasn't a representative of any of the cities. I had been there along with Joshua as an honorary member. Our work here had been done and we had been told we could leave.
Clearly, Craynor had entered the city of Torv and had known what was going on. Of course it hadn't been a secret! How could it have been? The entire nation of Cabal had known about the upcoming election and restructuring of the government.
I had hoped the bombing of the Governor's Mansion had ended Craynor's life, but I'd been mistaken. I should have known he would come back into our lives. My life was never that simple. How had he known to escape? Was it sheer luck or had someone alerted him of our plan?
I didn't know what I could do. A madman had taken Joshua. There was no other way to describe Craynor, who no longer acted as Governor. Kidnapping Joshua wasn't about reinstating his position in the political system. He wanted to get even with me. I just wasn't sure if it was because I was aberrant or that he'd figured out I'd been Jacqueline in the mansion. He did this to hurt me, because I'd caused him a great deal of trouble. My stomach tensed as Chancellor Collins opened the wooden doors. I jumped from the sound and came rushing in their direction to see Collins walking towards me. His face looked solemn, grave. His expression added to the anxiety I already faced. My fingers twitched and I opened my mouth to ask what would happen, when he spoke.
“They've asked for you.” Why didn't he relay me the information on his own? I followed him back inside and stood there awkwardly, wanting to know what they planned to do about Craynor and how we'd find Joshua.
“Olivia.” Someone at the far end of the table spoke up: Isaura. I'd briefly met her at the meeting a few days ago. She was one of the new delegates in Torv. She had dark green eyes, and jet-black hair against pale ivory skin. “There is much for our new body of government to be involved in. So much of the current system has remained in shambles for centuries. We recognize Craynor is not the only enemy we must face. There are people who do not agree with our ways and we fear they will demonstrate against us.” She sighed, tapping her fingers together. “This doesn't come lightly in our decision. It was not unanimous. Many of us recognize the effort Joshua has played in the revolution. However, we can't afford to send any resources to look for him. There are factions rising as we speak. For each day we spend forming laws, they build stronger armies to retaliate. Not everyone believes in what we do,” she explained to me. “Some wish us to fall as quickly as we rose. If we do that, complete chaos will ensue. You understand that, don't you, Olivia?”
I recognized what they said but I didn't understand what that meant for Joshua. “You're giving up, letting a mad man take refuge in the city and kidnap anyone he chooses?” I was appalled. I refused to let Craynor win. If I had to find Joshua on my own, I would.
“We understand you're upset, Olivia. We've decided to let any law abiding citizens who volunteer aide in your search for Joshua,” she explained. “These citizens will be under your command,” she informed me. “You will be responsible for leading them. I take it you can handle a search and rescue mission. We cannot, however, demand anyone to help you, nor will we take away their free choice. Is that not what we've been fighting for?” she reminded me harshly. “I understand Craynor is more than a subtle nuisance.” She glanced beside her at another representative. “With time we will devise rules and consequences for such actions he's partaken. Until then, you must act on your own and do what you must to rescue Joshua.”
Relieved they didn’t forbid me from looking for him, the truth was they couldn't stop me. Even if they tried. I was disheartened that they wouldn't be assigning anyone to help, but I would go at it alone if that was the case. Nothing would stop me from finding him.
�“I wish we could offer you more, Olivia, but until we've had our own matters settled and in control, this is all we can provide you with.” They hadn't provided me with anything except the mere permission to go. At least I wouldn't have them trying to stop me.
“It'll be fine.” I was better trained than most in Torv. Though it didn't mean I felt any less nervous. Joshua was out there, with a man out for revenge and I didn't even know where to start looking.