High Voltage





  High Voltage is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2018 by Karen Marie Moning, LLC

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

  DELACORTE PRESS and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Hardback ISBN 9780399593666

  Ebook ISBN 9780399593673

  randomhousebooks.com

  Book design by Caroline Cunningham, adapted for ebook

  Title-page and part-opener frame by iStock.com/ANGELGILD

  Cover design: Eileen Carey

  Cover photographs: Marie Killen (woman), Rashevskyi Viacheslav/Shutterstock (shattered glass)

  v5.2

  ep

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Glossary Alert

  Then

  Stardust

  Earthdust

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Now

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Assassin

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Murderer

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Falling

  Chapter Twenty-five

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Chapter Twenty-seven

  Chapter Twenty-eight

  Chapter Twenty-nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Vigilante

  Rising

  Chapter Thirty-one

  Chapter Thirty-two

  Chapter Thirty-three

  Chapter Thirty-four

  Chapter Thirty-five

  Chapter Thirty-six

  Chapter Thirty-seven

  Chapter Thirty-eight

  Chapter Thirty-nine

  Epilogue

  Deleted Scenes

  Glossary

  Dedication

  By Karen Marie Moning

  About the Author

  IF THIS IS THE first book you’ve picked up in the Fever series, I’ve included a guide of people, places, and things to illuminate the backstory at the end of this novel.

  If you’re a seasoned reader of the series, the guide will reacquaint you with notable events and characters: what they did, if they survived, and, if not, how they died.

  If you’re reading an ebook, factor this into your expectation of when the story ends, which is a bit before the final page count.

  You can either read the guide first, getting acquainted with the world, or reference it as you go along to refresh your memory. The guide features characters by type, followed by places, then things.

  THEN

  Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and the morals of a spoiled child.

  —ROBERT HEINLEIN

  Everything you think you know is wrong. Mortals possess short lives, shorter memories. You can’t even spin the same story twice without bastardizing the facts. When politics come into play, human canon becomes convenient at best, dispensed with entirely at worst. You have no bloody idea who your gods are.

  —CONVERSATIONS WITH DAIRE

  I have no gods. My demons ate them.

  —DANI O’MALLEY

  HE WOULDN’T HAVE SEEN the shooting star if the woman in his bed hadn’t fallen asleep, overstaying her welcome, filling him with the restless desire for a solitary walk on the beach.

  The ocean at night always made him glad to be alive, which was why he’d chosen to live so near it.

  Alive was the one thing he’d always be.

  Tonight, the sea was a shiver of dark glass, harboring secrets untold in her depths while on her tranquil surface stars glittered like diamonds. Life-giving, life-stealing, beautiful, a challenge to handle, worth learning to ride, full of fresh wonders every day—if he’d had a woman like the ocean in his bed, he’d still be there.

  He wasn’t a man that believed in signs from the heavens. He’d lived too long for that and knew if he were to receive a sign of any kind, it would explode from below in a shower of sparks and brimstone, not descend from above, a wonder to behold.

  For a few moments he watched the star scorch a path across a black velvet sky, leaving a streak of shimmering stardust in its wake.

  Then he turned away and stripped off his clothes to go for a swim. He was nearly to the water when he realized the star appeared to be headed his way and was much closer than it initially appeared. In fact, it seemed—if it continued on its current path—it might land on his beach. What were the odds of that?

  He arched a brow, considering its trajectory. Although he couldn’t gauge its velocity, the star certainly seemed to be on a direct collision course.

  With him.

  His laughter was deep, mocking; how rich that would be. After so many eons, was he to be felled by a shooting star? Had he finally managed to offend both those who resided in the heavens and those that dwelled beneath? Was his sentence finite after all?

  He watched its approach, amused, daring it to find its mark. End his life. Obliterate him.

  He growled, “Do your best,” and closed his eyes, waiting for the impact. He’d seen the end come too many times to care in what guise it appeared. He didn’t need to watch. He knew what death was.

  Never final. Not for him.

  He waited.

  And waited.

  Finally, he opened his eyes. The star had slowed to a crawl and was no longer speeding across the sky but tumbling slowly, lazily, directly overhead, perhaps a mile above him.

  He didn’t move a muscle. Come on, you bitch. Do it.

  The star plummeted abruptly, acquiring velocity as it fell.

  When it crashed to the beach a dozen paces away, impact buried it in a soft explosion of sand.

  One brow arched, he contemplated the indentation. The only other time the universe had singled him out for attention, it hadn’t gone well. He was intrigued in spite of himself; this was an unusual turn of events for a man to whom nothing was unusual anymore, and hadn’t been for a very long time.

  Approaching the depression, he knelt and began to dig. When at last his fingers closed on the thing that had fallen from the sky, he muttered an oath and yanked his hands from the sand.

  It was blisteringly hot. And now it was covered again.

  He sat back, stretc