BOOK 2 // EIGHTEEN: Awakening

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I'm aware it's been a LONG DAMN WHILE since I last uploaded this book, and the way I had to skim-read the entire book before being able to write this chapter indicates you guys DEFINITELY won't remember what's going on.

So let's go for a quick recap, from the top:

- Astrid and Jace were rescued by Nova and brought to safety in the abandoned city of Birmingham, where she's been living for the last few months with several others: her partner-in-crime Art, BioPlus employee and science geek Thomas, quick-witted tech guru Erica, kind-hearted Maggie and eleven-year-old Sylvie.

- They both struggle to adjust at first -- Jace with the unexpected revelation that he's modified, and Astrid with the realisation that she and Jace have been searching for the same girl all this time. Nova is cold and reluctant to answer many questions. However, as difficult as it seems, they start to get used to life outside New London.

- At first, Jace is distant, and Astrid resigns herself to the fact that he wants to be left alone. She's also struggling to deal with hyper-realistic nightmares that leave her with scars all over her body. Eventually Jace reaches out, and after escaping to the lake together, they share their first kiss. Unfortunately, it's interrupted by a furious Nova who marches them back to the city.

 - A storm rages over Birmingham, and Nova makes everyone stay in the communal dining hall for safety. The generator fails and Art goes out in the storm to fix it. When he returns, Nova is overcome by relief, and the storm eventually passes.

- Jace goes missing, and Astrid runs out to the woods to search for him. She hears a gunshot and finds him wounded. She makes the difficult decision to leave him and get help. He pulls through, but it exposes a clear security concern for the rest of the group -- and with little support from BioPlus, Nova decides everyone needs to carry their own gun.

- At this point, I highly suggest you click back and re-read Chapter 17 so you're back in the mindset of the story! It's also a cute one involving Astrid climbing into Jace's bed because she can't sleep, so who wouldn't want to re-read that? ;)

ONCE YOU'VE DONE THAT, YOU'RE READY. CHAPTER EIGHTEEN, LET'S GO.

(God, I'm sorry it's taken this long.)


***


            I woke in the morning to a stream of light dancing across my face. When my eyes flickered open, the sunlight almost blinded me, and my hand flew up to shield them. It took me a while to realise where I was. The room looked similar to mine, at least upon first glance, with the same sparse furniture and prison-like layout. It could've fooled an outsider. But the absence of the few belongings I'd managed to cling onto spoke too loudly, and I knew this wasn't my usual waking spot.

Especially when it registered that there was also a lot less room in bed, and I could feel the warm, heavy presence of someone beside me.

Jace.

As the memories of the previous night trickled back, it started to make more sense. I'd ventured into his room last night, when insomnia had finally got the better of me and I couldn't take it any longer. We'd stayed up talking – and more – for much longer than we should've, and at some point, we must've fallen asleep together.

My movement caused him to stir. Beside me, his head shifted on the pillow, and a couple of seconds later his eyes fluttered open. Temporary confusion flitted across his face, but once his gaze focused on me, it didn't take long to soften.

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