We’re excited to share an excerpt from Molly E. Lee’s Ember of Night, the start of an epic angels-and-demons YA series publishing May 4th with Entangled Teen.
I am a weed.
Unloved by my abusive, alcoholic dad. Unwanted by my classmates. Unnoticed by everyone else.
But I’d suffer anything to give my kid sister a better life—the minute I turn eighteen, I’m getting us the hell out of here. And some hot stranger telling me I am the key to stopping a war between Heaven and Hell isn’t going to change that.
Let the world crumble and burn, for all I care.
Draven is relentless, though. And very much a liar. Every time his sexy lips are moving, I can see it—in the dip of his head, the grit of his jaw—even if my heart begs me to ignore the signs.
So what does he want?
I need to figure it out fast, because now everyone is gunning for me. And damn if I don’t want to show them what happens when you let weeds thrive in the cracks of the pavement…
We can grow powerful enough to shatter the whole foundation.
“Last days of freedom?” Draven asks, and I blink up from my phone. “Isn’t that usually how people feel before they enter adulthood?”
I laugh again. “Adulthood?” I arch a brow at him. “Again, how old are you?”
“Apparently over a hundred.” His strong jaw flexes.
I grin, a flare of delight storming my blood at the notion that I’m getting under his skin. Welcome to the club, Mr. Mystery. “I can’t help it. You talk like you’ve either lived a long life or your favorite books are by Aristotle and Confucius.”
“I’m more of a Nietzsche fan.” He shrugged, then did a double take. “Wait, are you saying I’m thought-provoking?”
“Or ancient,” I fire back, scrolling through the websites I have up on my phone. The apartment complex’s site is the first page, and I click on the Contact Me link.
“The ability to speak properly doesn’t make one ancient.”
“Okay, Yoda,” I say, widening my eyes at him before returning to my phone.
He huffs. “What are you doing now?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, oh wise and ancient one, but I’m making an appointment to look at an apartment. You know, adult stuff.”
“When do you plan on moving?”
“My birthday,” I answer, typing in my contact info. This is the second message I’ve sent them, and from our previous discussions, I know there is a one-bedroom apartment coming up for rent this week. All I have to do is show up, look at it, and then sign the papers. Along with a check for a good deal of my savings. But it’ll be worth it. Step one in proving I’m the best guardian for Ray.
“So soon,” he says.
I pocket my phone. “Not soon enough. I wish I had an earlier birthday.”
“I would’ve already moved out.”
Something dark flickers beneath his gaze as he slips into that internal-stare thing he loves to do. I respect the retreat, knowing the introvert in me needs the same reprieve sometimes.
“I had my own place back in New York,” he says after some time. “I can go with you if you want.”
“Because a little girl like me can’t handle signing a lease on her own?” I challenge.
“No.” He sighs. “Because moving out on your own can be a lonely process when you don’t have family to help you.”
I swallow the knot in my throat. Of course, he could tell I had no home life to speak of, beyond Ray. I was practically sprinting away from it.
And fuck me, but my knee-jerk reaction is to say yes!. This guy is nothing if not distracting…infuriatingly distracting. When I’m constantly analyzing the next second, next day, next attack, distraction is as an addictive escape for me as reading one of these books from Myopic. “Or you could do it alone like you do everything else,” he says after I don’t respond. “Easier to push people away than accept help and burn for it afterward.”
“You don’t know me,” I insist.
He leans his elbows on his knees again, his eyes slicing into mine like he can see through me. “Don’t I, Harley?”
My skin buzzes at the challenge in his gaze. At the unflinching hunger there, as if he enjoys the battle of words as much as I do.
As if he, too, relishes the sting that comes with a good brawl. I know it’s wrong. Know I shouldn’t enjoy it. But I do. And the idea that he might, too? That maybe there’s someone out there as broken as I am, who can’t get a thrill unless there is a bit of danger involved. It makes me feel less alone in a world that has done nothing but make me feel just that.
He blinks a few times when I don’t shy away from his stare. “Honey badger,” he mutters, then shifts in his seat, eyes falling to the book on the table. “So,” he says, his tone much lighter. “Have you tried it?”
“Astral p-projection?” I sputter, my mind whiplashing between the topics.
“Maybe.” I laugh.
His brows raise. “Very Doctor Strange of you,” he says, and I warm a bit at his Marvel reference. Comic book movies are my fav.
I’d give anything to get into a freak accident and then suddenly have the power to destroy my enemies.
“Did it work?” Draven asks.
“Of course not.” I rake my fingers through my hair.
“You can’t settle enough to focus?” he asks as casually as if we’re discussing a math test, not astral freaking projection.
“How do you know?”
He shrugs. “I know a lot of things about you.”
My heart starts beating a little bit harder at the odd comment.
“Is that right? One dance and a few days working together suddenly makes you an expert?”
“Not hard when you know where to look for the information.”
“This sounds dangerously close to stalking.”
Draven leans forward, so close that I can feel the heat from his body buzz against mine. But his knee doesn’t brush mine, nor his elbow. Close yet not touching, but the sensation warms the air between us.
He lifts a finger, slowly tracing several inches in front of my face. “It’s all right there,” he says.
My breath catches.
“Everything you need to know about anyone can be found in their eyes. In the moments when they think no one is looking.”
I swallow hard. “And what have mine told you?”
“You love your sister more than your own life,” he says, leaning back in his chair again. I nearly whimper at the loss of heat. “You have poor taste in friends, you’re hyperaware of your surroundings, and you walk through life wound tight, like at any moment one of the fractured pieces of your soul will snap off and shatter…”
His voice trails off, and I’m not sure I’m breathing. He may as well have flayed me open right here and let me bleed out on the table.
“You don’t waste time trying to fit yourself into the public norm of standards,” he hurries on. “And your mind,” he adds, pressing his lips together for a moment, “races. Constantly. Scenarios, future and past, play on a loop you’re desperate to break.” He pauses, as though he’s uncertain he should share this next part, but then says, “And you have terrible, awful thoughts that rack you with guilt, that you pray no one will ever know about.”
Excerpted from Ember of Night, copyright © 2021 by Molly E. Lee