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The Immortals 4 : Dark Flame : The Immortals - Alyson Noel

The Immortals 4 : Dark Flame

The Immortals

Paperback Published: 1st July 2010
ISBN: 9780330520614
Number Of Pages: 384
For Ages: 12 - 99 years old

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At the start of this mesmerizing new installment of the Immortals series, Ever is helping her friend Haven transition into life as an immortal. But with Haven drunk on her new powers and carelessly putting them all at risk, their friendship becomes more and more strained.

At the same time, Ever delves deeper into magick in order to get control over her enemy Roman and free Damen from his power. But when the spell she casts on Roman backfires, she's bound to her deadliest enemy. Frantic to reverse the spell the moment the moon enters a new phase, she finds her efforts are fruitless – there's a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, one that propels her toward Roman.

Desperate to break free of this terrible curse before Damen or the twins can discover what she's done, she turns to Jude and delves deeper and deeper into dark magick, ultimately risking everything she knows and loves – including Damen.

Author Information

Alyson Noel lives in Orange County, California, which forms the backdrop to her incredible new series The Immortals. She is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with Evermore, the first book in the Immortals series, and in addition to its sequels Blue Moon and Shadowland, she has written numerous teen novels – Faking 19, Art Geeks and Prom Queens, Laguna Cove, Kiss & Blog, Saving Zoe and Cruel Summer.

Chapter One

"I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created."
   —Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"What the fug?"

Haven drops her cupcake, the one with the pink frosting, red sprinkles, and silver skirt. Her heavily made-up eyes searching mine as I glance around the busy plaza and cringe. Instantly regretting my decision to come here, foolish enough to think a trip to her favorite cupcake place on a nice summer day would be the best place to break the news. Like that little strawberry cake would somehow sweeten the message. But now I'm just wishing we'd stayed in the car.

"Inside voice. Please." I aim for a light delivery but end up sounding like a cranky old schoolmarm instead. Watching as she leans forward, tucks her long, platinum streaked bangs back behind her ear, and squints.

"Excuse me? But are you for real? I mean, here you drop a major bomb on me—and I mean major—as in my ears are still ringing and my head is still spinning and I kind of need you to repeat it just to make sure you really did say what I think—and your only concern is that I'm talking too loud? Are you kidding me?"

I shake my head and glance all around, slipping into full-on damage control mode as I lower my voice and say, "It's just—nobody can know. It's got to remain secret. It's imperative," I urge, realizing too late that I'm talking to the one person who's never been able to keep anyone's secret, much less her own.

She rolls her eyes and slams back in her seat, muttering under her breath as I take a moment to study her closely, dismayed to see the signs already present: her pale skin is luminous, clear, practically poreless as well, while her wavy brown hair with the blond streak in front is as shiny and glossy as a high-end shampoo ad. Even her teeth have gone straighter, whiter, and I can't help but wonder how this happened so quickly, with only a few sips of elixir, when it took so much longer for me.

My eyes continue to graze over her as I take a deep breath and dive in. Foregoing my usual promise not to eavesdrop on my friend's innermost thoughts, while I strain to get a better look, a glimpse of her energy, the words she's not sharing—sure that if snooping ever was warranted, it's now.

But instead of my usual front-row seat, I'm met by a rock-solid wall that bars me from entering. Even after I casually slide my hand forward and tap my fingertips against hers, feigning interest in the silver skull ring she wears, I get nothing.

Her future is hidden from me.

"This is just so—" She swallows hard and looks around, taking in the bubbling fountain, the young mom pushing a stroller while yelling into her cell phone, the group of girls exiting a swim shop with armfuls of bags—looking just about anywhere but at me.

"I know it's a lot to take in—but still—" I shrug, knowing I've got to make a better case but not quite sure how to do it.

"A lot to take in? Is that how you see it?" She shakes her head and drums her fingers against the armrest of her green metal chair as her gaze slowly sweeps over me.

I sigh, wishing I'd handled this better, wishing I could do something to make it go away, but it's too late for that. I've no choice but to deal with this mess that I made. "I guess I was hoping that's how you'd see it." I shrug. "Crazy. I know."

She takes a deep breath, face so still, so placid, it's impossible to read, and I'm just about to speak, just about to start begging forgiveness, when she says, "Seriously? You made me an immortal? Like—for reals?"

I nod, stomach a jumble of nerves as I sit up straighter and pull my shoulders back, bracing for the blow that's surely headed my way. Knowing that whatever she gives, be it verbal or physical, I've no choice but to take it. I deserve nothing less for wrecking her life as she knows it.

"I'm just—" She sucks in her breath and blinks several times, her aura invisible, offering no clue to her mood, now that I've made her like me. "Well—I'm in a total state of shock. I mean, seriously. I don't even know what to say."

I press my lips together and drop my hands to my lap, worrying the crystal horseshoe bracelet I always wear as I clear my throat and say, "Haven, listen, I'm so sorry. So—very—very—sorry. You have no idea. I just—" I shake my head, knowing I should cut to the chase, but feeling like I need to explain my side of things—the impossible choice I was forced to make—how it felt to see her so pale, so helpless, teetering on the verge of death, every shallow breath quite possibly her last—

But before I can even begin she leans toward me, eyes wide and fixed on mine. "Are you insane?" She shakes her head. "You're actually apologizing, when I'm just sitting here, so psyched, so totally gobsmacked, I can't even imagine how I'll ever repay you!"

Huh?

"I mean, this is just so fugging cool!" She grins, bouncing up and down in her seat, face lighting up like a thousand-watt bulb. "It's seriously the coolest fugging thing that's ever happened to me—and I owe it all to you!"

I gulp, nervously glancing around, unsure how to react. This is not what I expected. Not what I prepared for. Though it's pretty much exactly what Damen warned me about.

Damen—my best friend—my soul mate—the love of my lives. My amazingly gorgeous, sexy, smart, talented, patient, and understanding boyfriend who knew this would happen and begged to come along for this very reason. But I was too stubborn. Insisting I do it alone. I'm the one who turned her—I'm the one who made her drink the elixir—so I'm the one who should explain. Only it's not going at all like I thought. Not even close.

"I mean, it's like being a vampire, right? Minus the bloodsucking?" Her sparkling eyes eagerly search mine. "Oh, and without all the coffins and sun avoidance too!" Her voice rises with glee. "This is so amazing—like a dream come true! Everything I've ever wanted has finally happened! I'm a vampire! A beautiful vampire-but without all the gruesome side effects!"

"You're not a vampire." I say, voice dull, listless, wondering how it got to this point. "There's no such thing."

Nope, no vampires, no werewolves, no elves, no fairies—just immortals, whose ranks, thanks to Roman and me, are quickly multiplying . . .

"And how can you be sure of that?" Haven asks, brow raised.

"Because Damen's been around a lot longer than I have," I say. "And he's never met one—or met anyone who's met one. We figure the vampire legends all stem from immortals, only with a few big distortions—like the bloodsucking, not being able to go out in sunlight, and the whole being allergic to garlic thing." I lean toward her. "It's all been added on for extra drama."

"Interesting." She nods, though her mind is clearly elsewhere. "Can I still eat cupcakes?" She motions toward the dented strawberry mess, one side caved in, flattened against its cardboard container, while the other side remains fluffy, begging to be eaten. "Or is there something else I'm supposed to—" Eyes going wide, giving me no time to reply before she slaps the table and squeals, "Omigod—it's that juice, isn't it? That red stuff you and Damen always drink! That's it, huh? So, what are you waiting for! Hand it over already, let's make it official—I can't wait to get started!"

"I didn't bring any," I say, seeing her face drop in disappointment as I rush to explain. "Listen, I know you think it sounds really cool and all—and some of it is, there's no doubt about that. I mean, you'll never grow old, never get zits or split ends, you'll never have to work out, and you might even grow taller—who knows? But there's other stuff too—stuff you need to know—stuff I have to explain in order to—" My words are halted by the sight of her jumping out of her chair so quickly and gracefully she's like a cat—yet another immortality side effect.

Hopping from foot to foot as she says, "Please. What's to know? If I can jump higher, run faster, never age or fade away—what else could I possibly need? Sounds like I'm good to go for the rest of eternity."

I glance around nervously, determined to curb her enthusiasm before she does something crazy—something that'll draw the kind of attention we cannot afford. "Haven, please. Sit. This is serious. There's more to explain. A lot more," I whisper, the words harsh, brutal, but having no effect whatsoever. She just stands there before me, shaking her head and refusing to budge. So drunk on her new immortal power she skips past defiant and heads straight for belligerent.

"Everything is serious with you, Ever. Every—single—thing you say and do is just so dang serious. I mean, seriously, you hand me the keys to the kingdom then demand I stay put so you can warn me about the dark side? How crazy is that?" She rolls her eyes. "Come on, unclench a little, would ya? Let me try it out, take it for a test drive, see what I'm capable of. I'll even race you! First one to make it from the curb to the library wins!"

I shake my head and sigh, wishing I didn't have to do it, but knowing a little telekinesis is in order. It's the only thing that'll put an end to all this and show her who's really in charge around here. Narrowing my eyes, I focus hard on her chair, driving it across the pavers so fast it buckles her knees and forces her to sit.

"Hey—that hurt!" She rubs her leg and glares.

But I just shrug. She's immortal, it's not like she'll bruise. Besides, there's plenty more to explain and not enough time if she continues like this, so I lean toward her, making sure I have her full attention when I say, "Trust me, you can't play the game if you don't know the rules. And if you don't know the rules, someone's bound to get hurt."

Chapter Two

Haven hurls herself into my car, scrunching her body tightly against the door and propping her feet on the seat. Frowning and glaring and mumbling—a full litany of complaints leveled at me—as I pull out of the lot and onto the street.

"Rule number one." I glance at her, pushing my long blond hair out of my face, determined to ignore her openly hostile gaze. "You—can't—tell—anyone." I pause, allowing the words to sink in before adding, "Seriously. You can't tell your mom, your dad, your little brother Austin—"

"Please." She shifts, crossing and uncrossing her legs, tugging at her clothes and jiggling her foot in a way so antsy, so squirmy, it's clear she can barely stand to be contained here with me. "I barely talk to them anyway." She scowls. "Besides, that's a repeat. You already sang that one loud and clear. So, come on, keep it moving, let's just get 'em over and done with, so I can get out of here and start my new life."

I swallow hard, refusing to be either rushed or swayed, gazing at her as I stop at a light, determined she understand the full importance of this when I add, "And that includes Miles. Under no circumstances whatsoever can you tell him."

She rolls her eyes and fiddles with her ring, twisting it around and around her middle finger, clearly tempted to flip it at me. "Fine. Can't tell anyone. Got it," she mumbles. "Next, please!"

"You can still eat real food." I make my way through the intersection, slowly picking up speed. "But you won't always want to since the elixir pretty much fills you up and provides all the nutrients you need. But still, in public anyway, it's important to keep up appearances, so you have to at least pretend like you're eating."

"Oh, like you?" She looks at me, brow arced, lip curled into a smirk. "You know, how you sit there at lunch, tearing your sandwich to shreds and crumbling your potato chips into tiny little bits and thinking no one notices? Is that what you've been doing all this time? Keeping up appearances? Cuz Miles and I just thought you had an eating disorder."

I take a deep breath and focus on driving, keeping my speed light, refusing to let her get to me. Like the karma Damen's always going on about—claiming that all of our actions cause a reaction—this is where my action has led me. Besides, even if I could go back and do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I'd make the exact same choice as before. Because no matter how awkward this moment may be, it's still better than attending her funeral, any day of the week.

"Omigod!" She looks at me, her mouth dropping, eyes going wide, voice all high and squeaky when she says, "I think—I think I heard that!"

My eyes meet hers, and despite the fact that the top is down, despite the fact that the Southern California summer sun is beating straight down on us, my skin goes instantly chilled.

This is not good. Not good at all.

"Your thoughts! You were thinking something about being glad you didn't have to go to my funeral, right? I mean, I actually heard your words in my head. That is so cool!"

I immediately raise my shield, barring all access to my mind, my energy, everything, all of it. More than a little freaked by the fact that she was able to do that when I can't read hers, and haven't even had a chance to show her how to shield herself yet.

"So you guys weren't kidding, were you? About the whole telepathy thing? You and Damen really do read each other's minds."

I nod, slowly, reluctantly, as she surveys me with eyes that shine brighter than ever. What was once your everyday, basic shade of brown, often hidden by crazy-colored contacts, is now a brilliant swirl of gold, topaz, and bronze—yet another immortality side effect.

"I always knew you guys were weird—but this takes it to a whole new level. And now I can do it too! Jeez, I wish Miles was here."

I close my eyes and shake my head, striving for patience and wondering how many more times I'll have to repeat this when I brake for a pedestrian and say, "But you can't tell Miles—remember? We've already been over that."

She shrugs, my words glancing right off her, as she twirls a chunk of glossy brown hair around and around her index finger, smiling as a black Bentley pulls up right beside us with some kid from our school behind the wheel.

"Fine. Fine! Seriously, I won't tell him. Chillax already, would ya?" She zeros in on our classmate, smiling and flirting and waving, even going so far as to blow a series of air kisses at him, and then laughing when he does a double take. "The secret's safe. I'm just used to telling him when exciting stuff happens, that's all. It's a habit. I'm sure I'll get over it. But still, you gotta admit, it's pretty dang cool, right? I mean, how'd you react when you first found out? Weren't you totally psyched?" She looks at me, smiling when she adds, "No pun intended."

I frown, pushing the gas harder than I meant to, the car lurching forward as my mind travels back to that very first day—or, at least the first time Damen tried to break the life-altering news out in the parking lot at school. But I wasn't up for listening then. And I was pretty much as far from excited as it gets. Then, the second time he insisted on explaining our long and tangled past, I was still on the fence. I mean, on the one hand I thought it was pretty cool that we could finally be together after centuries of being kept apart. But on the other, it was a lot to take in. A lot to give up.

And while at first we thought the choice was all mine—that I could continue to drink the elixir and embrace my immortality—or ignore it completely, live out my life, and succumb to my death at some point in the far distant future—now we know better.

Now we know the truth about an immortal's demise.

Now we know about the Shadowland.

The infinite void.

The eternal abyss.

The place where immortals linger—soulless—isolated—for all of eternity.

A place we need to steer clear of.

"Um, hel-lo—earth to Ever?" She laughs.

But I just shrug. It's the only answer I plan to give.

Which only prompts her to lean toward me and say, "Excuse me, but I so don't get you." Her eyes rake over me. "This is like the best day of my entire life and all you want to do is focus on the negatives. I mean, hel-lo? Psychic powers, physical prowess, ageless youth, and beauty—does it mean nothing to you?"

"Haven, it's not all fun and games, it's—"

"Yeah, yeah." She rolls her eyes and slams back in her seat, pulling her knees to her chest as she wraps her arms tightly around them. "There are rules—a downside. Roger that, loud and clear." She frowns, gathering her hair to the side and twisting it around and around into a glossy brown coil. "But jeez, don't you ever get tired of it? Of always being so burdened, so weighted down by the world? It's like, you have the best life ever. You're blond, blue-eyed, tall, fit, gifted, oh, and to top it all off, the sexiest guy on the planet just happens to be madly in love with you." She sighs, wondering how I can possibly be so blind to her truth. "I mean, let's face it, you've got the kind of life other people can only dream of—and yet, you make it look like the road to Suck City. And honestly, I'm sorry to say it, but I think that's crazy. Cuz the truth is, I feel fantastic! Electrified! Like a lightning bolt's surging through my body from my head to my toes! And no way am I joining you on your journey to Sad Land. No way am I slinking around campus in fugly hoodies and sunglasses with an iPod practically implanted in my head like you used to do. I mean, at least now I know why you did it, to avoid all the voices and thoughts, right? But still, no fugging way am I living like that. I plan to embrace it—with both arms. I also plan to kick some serious Stacia, Honor, and Craig butt if they so much as bother me or my friends!" She leans forward, elbows on her knees as she narrows her gaze. "When I think of all the crap they put you through and how you just rolled over and took it—" She purses her lips. "I don't get it."

I look at her, knowing I can just lower my shield, think the answer, and she'd hear the words in my head, but knowing it'll resonate a lot more if it's spoken out loud, I say, "I guess because it all came at such a high price—the loss of my family—never getting to cross—" I pause, halting the words from escape. Not quite ready to explain about Summerland, that glorious mystical dimension between the dimensions, or the bridge that takes all mortals to the other side—or at least not just yet anyway. One thing at a time. "It's just that I'll always be here. I'll never get to cross over and see my family again—" I shake my head. "And, well, for me anyway, that feels like a pretty big penalty."

She reaches toward me, her sad puppy dog look displayed on her face, before quickly pulling away. "Oops, sorry! Forgot how you hate to be touched." She crinkles her nose as she tucks a windblown chunk of hair behind her multipierced ear.

"I don't hate to be touched." I shrug. "It's just sometimes—well, it can be pretty revealing, that's all."

"Will it be like that for me too?"

I look at her, having no idea what gifts she has in store. She's already so far ahead of the curve, on just one bottle of elixir, who knows what a full case will bring?

"I don't know." I shrug. "Some of it happened because I died and went to—"

Her eyes narrow, straining to read my thoughts but not getting very far thanks to the shield that I built.

"Well, let's just say I had a near-death experience. It tends to change things." I pull onto her street.

She looks at me, gaze fixed, intense, fingers idly picking at a small tear in her leggings as she says, "Seems like you're kind of cherry-picking the things you want me to know." She raises her brow, daring me to deny it.

But I don't. I don't do anything but close my eyes and nod. So tired of lying and covering up all the time. It feels good to admit to a few things for a change.

"Can I ask why?"

I lift my shoulders and take a deep breath, forcing my gaze to meet hers. "It's a lot to take in all at once. Some of it needs to be experienced to understand—while other stuff—well, a lot of it can wait. Though there are still a couple things you need to know."

I park on her drive and fumble through my bag, handing over a small silk pouch, just like the one Damen gave me.

"What's this?" She pulls the strings and digs her finger inside, coming away with a small cluster of colorful stones, held together by thin gold strands, and hanging from a black silk cord.

"It's an amulet." I nod "It's—it's important you wear it all of the time. Pretty much every day from now on."

She squints, swinging it back and forth, watching as the stones catch and reflect in the sunlight.

"I have one too." I pull mine out from under my tee, revealing my own cluster of stones.

"How come mine's different?" She glances between them, comparing, contrasting, trying to decide which is better.

"Because no two are the same—we all have different—needs. And wearing these will keep us safe."

She looks at me.

"They hold protective qualities." I shrug, knowing I'm treading into murky waters, the part Damen and I disagreed about.

She tilts her head and scrunches her face, unable to read my thoughts but well aware I'm holding back. "Protect us from what exactly? I mean, we're immortal, right? Which, if I'm not mistaken, pretty much means we'll live forever, and yet, you're telling me I need protection? To be kept safe?" She shakes her head. "Sorry Ever, but that just doesn't make any sense. Who or what could I possibly need to be protected from?"

I take a deep breath, assuring myself I'm doing the right thing, the only thing, despite what Damen may think. Hoping he'll forgive me as I say, "You need to be protected from Roman."

She shakes her head and crosses her arms, refusing to believe. "Roman? That's ridiculous. Roman would never hurt me."

I gape, hardly believing my ears, especially after everything I've just told her.

"Sorry Ever, but Roman's my friend. And not like it's any of your business, but we're actually well on our way to becoming more than friends. And since it's no secret you've hated him from day one, it's really not all that surprising to hear you saying this now. Sad, but not surprising."

"I'm not making it up." I shrug, striving for a calm I can't even summon. Knowing that raising my voice, trying to force her to see things my way, will never work on someone as stubborn as her. "And yeah, maybe you're right, maybe I don't like him, but considering how he tried to kill you and all—well, call me crazy, but I think that's a good enough reason. I even have witnesses—I wasn't the only one there, you know!"

She squints, fingernails tapping against the door handle as she says, "Okay, so let me get this straight, Roman tries to poison me with some messed-up tea—"

"Belladonna—also known as deadly nightshade—"

"Whatever." She waves it away. "The point is, you claim he was trying to kill me, and yet instead of calling nine-one-one you just stroll on over to see for yourself? I mean, what's up with that? Obviously you didn't take it very seriously, so why should I?"

"I did try to call—but it was—complicated." I shake my head. "It was a choice between—between something I really need—and you. And, as you see, I chose you."

She looks at me, eyes wide, mind calculating, not saying a word.

"Roman promised to give me what I need if I just let you die. But I couldn't do it—and so—" I gesture toward her. "Now you're immortal."

She shakes her head and gazes around, focusing on a group of neighborhood kids driving a jacked-up golf cart up and down the street. Keeping quiet for so long I'm just about to speak when she says, "Sorry you didn't get what you want, Ever, really I am. But you're wrong about Roman. There's no way he'd let me die. From what you said, he had the elixir standing by, ready to go in case you chose differently. Besides, I think I know Roman just a little better than you, and the fact is, he knows how unhappy I've been, about the stuff going on with my family—" She shrugs. "He probably just wanted to make me immortal to spare me from that, but didn't want to sire me since there's a lot of responsibility that goes with it. I've no doubt that if you hadn't made me drink, he would've stepped in. Face it Ever, you made the wrong choice. You should've just called his bluff."

"There's no sire," I mumble, inwardly rolling my eyes at myself. Out of that whole entire litany, that's what I choose to focus on? I shake my head and start over. "It's not like that—not even close—it's . . ." Voice fading as she looks away—fully convinced of one thing—she's right and I'm wrong. And since I tried to warn her about all the dangers—about him—Damen can't possibly fault me for what I say next.

"Fine, believe what you want, just do me a favor. If you're going to insist on hanging with Roman, then all I ask is that you always wear your amulet. Seriously, don't ever take it off—not for anything, and—"

She looks at me, brow raised, door half open, desperate to get out of this car and away from me.

"And if you're serious about repaying me for making you immortal—"

Our eyes meet.

"Then Roman has something I really need you to get."

© Alyson Noël

ISBN: 9780330520614
ISBN-10: 033052061X
Series: The Immortals
Audience: Children
For Ages: 12 - 99 years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 1st July 2010
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.4  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.27
Edition Number: 1
Edition Type: Unabridged

Alyson Noël


About the Author


Alyson Noël is the #1 New York Times best selling, award-winning, author of Faking 19, Art Geeks and Prom Queens, Laguna Cove, Fly Me to the Moon, Kiss & Blog, Saving Zoë, Cruel Summer, First Kiss (Then Tell)-an anthology, Kisses From Hell-an anthology, Dear Bully-an anthology, and the Immortals series including: Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame, Night Star, and a 6th & final book, Everlasting, as well as the Immortals spin-off series including Radiance, Shimmer, Dreamland & Whisper, as well as a new YA series, Soul Seekers.

With over 5 million copies in print, her books have been published in 36 countries, have hit the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, NCIBA, and Walmart bestsellers lists, and won many awards such as: the National Reader's Choice Award, NYLA Book of Winter Award, NYPL Stuff for the Teenage, TeenReads Best Books of 2007, Reviewer's Choice 2007 Top Ten, chosen for the CBS Early Show's "Give the Gift of Reading" segment, and selected for Seventeen Magazine's "Hot List" and Beach Book Club Pick.

She lives in Orange County, CA where she is working on her next book.

Visit Alyson Noël's Booktopia Author Page


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