The Rising Page 1


I WAS RUNNING THROUGH the forest. Running on all fours, huge tawny paws touching down so lightly they seemed to skim the ground. Yet somehow my pursuers were catching up. The pounding of their boots was so close I swore my tail switched against them as I ran.

I couldn’t keep this up. Cougars are sprinters, not distance runners. I had to get into the brush, up a tree, someplace, anyplace where I could hunker down, invisible, until they passed, and then—

A dart hit my shoulder. I reared back, snarling, clawing—


Hands gripped my front legs. No, not legs. Arms. I saw hands wrapped around my wrists, a familiar face in front of mine—wavy blond hair in need of a brush, blue eyes underscored with dark circles, wide mouth tight with worry and exhaustion.

“Daniel . . . ?”

He released my wrists.

Corey’s voice sounded to my left. “Um, guys? Causing a bit of a scene here.”

I looked around to see strangers staring. A man in a button-down shirt was making his way over, gaze fixed on us. Behind him was a counter stacked with books. In front of me was a computer, while Corey was seated at another beside me.

A library. We were in a library.

The man walked over. “Is there a problem here?” He was looking at me and I wasn’t sure why, until he shot a glare at Daniel and I realized how it must have looked, him holding my wrists as I struggled.

“No,” I said. “We were just . . . goofing around.”

Not the right thing to say in a library. Even Corey—the king of goofing around—winced.

“I’m sorry,” Daniel said. “It won’t happen again.”

As he spoke, he held the librarian’s gaze and kept his voice low, calm. Using his powers of persuasion. With Daniel, it really is a power. I don’t think the librarian needed it, though. He seemed content to leave us be. But the incident had caught the attention of people around us and, under the circumstances, we really couldn’t afford to make ourselves memorable. So we left. Quickly.

“Well,” Corey said as we tramped down the front steps. “It’s not the first time we’ve had to leave a library. But it is the first time I wasn’t responsible.”

“I was having a vision,” I said. “I can’t control those.”

“Uh, no, Maya. Unless you snore during your visions, you were asleep.”

“I don’t snore.” I looked at Daniel. “Tell him I don’t snore.”

Daniel feigned great interest in the fountain. Corey didn’t ask how Daniel would know if I snored. Daniel and I had been best friends since kindergarten. Though our parents had decided sleepovers required separate rooms years ago, we’d spent the last few days sleeping side-by-side as we trekked through the wilds of Vancouver Island. Not a voluntary hiking trip, either. A helicopter crash had stranded us with Corey and three other friends. That helicopter had been supposedly rescuing us from a forest fire that threatened our town, but it’d actually been kidnapping us. Now, less than a week later, we were in the city of Vancouver, only the three of us left, the others captured by the people we were still fleeing.

“You were exhausted,” Daniel finally said. “Corey and I slept on the ferry. You didn’t. I would have let you keep sleeping . . . but the snoring was getting kinda loud.”

I aimed a kick at him. He grabbed my foot and held it, making me dance and curse. A passing security guard shot us a warning look.

“Holy hell,” Corey said. “It’s a sad day when I’m the responsible one. Speaking of responsibility, I’m going to take the reins of leadership and suggest food. It’s nearly eight. Maya, use that cat nose and lead us to dinner.”

Yes, my dream hadn’t been pure fantasy. I was a shape-shifter. I’d discovered my secret identity about a week ago. Not surprisingly, it marked the point where life went to hell—for all of us.

I wasn’t the only supernatural kid in our tiny town. In fact, Salmon Creek seemed to have been built as a petri dish to resurrect extinct supernatural types. Project Phoenix. I was a skin-walker, like Rafe and Annie, a brother and sister who’d come to Salmon Creek looking for answers. Daniel was a benandanti—a demon-hunter. As for Corey, we were pretty sure he had powers, too, but we didn’t know what they were yet.

And as for the people chasing us, it was two groups, actually. The St. Clouds—who’d founded our town and Project Phoenix—and the Nasts, a rival supernatural corporation that thought we seemed like valuable commodities. Our friends were now divided between the groups, and we were on the run, trying to find someone to help us get them back. We wanted something else back, too: our parents. They’d been told we’d died in that helicopter crash. I’d been trying very hard not to think about that, what they were going through. I just kept telling myself it would all be fixed soon. It had to be.

We ate dinner in a chain restaurant. It wasn’t one we knew, and we’d stood inside the door for five minutes, going over the menu, feeling like country mice in the city. That’s nothing new. We grew up in a town of two hundred people. Put us in a metropolis of two million, and it didn’t matter that we were private-school educated and wearing the same labels as every other kid—we still felt like hicks.

“This is what we need, guys,” Daniel said after we ordered. “A huge city where we can just blend in and lie low for a few days.”

“I know,” Corey said. “But I feel . . .” He looked around at the other tables and scowled. “It’s the St. Clouds’ fault. All those years of stranger-danger classes, teaching us that no one outside Salmon Creek can be trusted. They did that on purpose.”

“I know,” I murmured.

“Teaching us to be afraid of the outside world so we’d never leave, when the real danger wasn’t out here at all. It was right there. With everyone who was supposed to be looking out for us. Everyone we were taught to trust. Our teachers. Our doctors. Even some of our own parents might have been in on it. Hell, I’m not even sure my mom wasn’t . . .”

He trailed off. I didn’t rush to tell him I’m sure she hadn’t been a willing participant. We’d already been through this. There were no guarantees.

In Corey’s face, bitter and angry, I could find no trace of the guy I’d grown up with, the one who was always grinning, always up to something, never thinking any further ahead than the next party.