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In the seventh book in the bestselling series, evil scientists are still trying to convince Max that she needs to save the world, this time by providing the genetic link in speeding up the pace of evolution. Worse, they're trying to convince her that her perfect mate is Dylan, the newest addition to the flock. The problem is that, despite herself, Max is starting to believe it.

Fang travels the country collecting his own gang of evolved humans, but the two separate flocks must unite to defeat a frightening doomsday cult whose motto is Save the Planet: Kill the Humans. And this time, the true heroine, for once, might just be little Angel.


Chapter 5

AH, THE GOOD OLD DAYS, when we were running for our lives, eating out of Dumpsters, getting into life-and-death battles on a regular basis, unable to trust anyone...

That was before I'd found my mom, the woman who had supplied my second X chromosome. I don't usually live with her. I'll always be part of the flock first, and Valencia Martinez's daughter second. Amazingly, she understands that. I love the fact that she exists and cares about me. But as I stepped into her house, I felt a burst of nostalgia for the days when life was hard and dirty and dangerous.

"Taste," Nudge said, shoving a still-warm cookie at me.

My stomach was churning from my little aerial battle with the Cloned Heartthrob, and I wanted to say no.

But she stuck the cookie into my mouth, then peered at me anxiously as I tried not to gag. "Your mom's teaching me how to cook. Too dry? Too chocolaty?"

"Too chocolaty is an oxymoron," Iggy said from the couch, where he was sitting next to my half sister, Ella. "Okay, go on. You were just at the part where Tarzan kills the big ape."

Ella grinned at me, then found her place on the page and continued reading to Iggy. (He's blind. Lab accident.) As amazing as it was for me to have a real mom, it was equally amazing for me to have a real half sister. I'd been sharing her room at night for the past week, and the conversations we'd had in the dark, when everyone else was asleep, made me feel like a normal teenage girl. That is, until she started talking to me about her crush on Iggy. Then I felt like I was listening to her talking about my son. Who's the same age I am...

Normal's pretty fleeting around here. But right now, across the room, Gazzy and Angel were doing something totally unevil, working a jigsaw puzzle together, and they smiled at me with similar smiles. Of the five (formerly six) of us, they're the only real blood siblings. Which I suppose explains why I have brown hair and brown eyes, Fang has dark hair and darker eyes, Iggy is tall and fair and light-haired, Gazzy and Angel are both blond and deceptively angelic-looking, and Nudge is African American, with light brown skin, curly corkscrew hair almost the same color, and eyes like melted chocolate.

I sighed as I took in the cozy, tranquil domestic scene.

"Hi, honey," my mom said. She came over and pushed my hair behind my shoulders. I tried to remember the last time I'd untangled it, but after I thought back two days, I gave up.

"Hi," I said.

"Why don't you go take a nice shower?" she suggested.

"Yeah, I guess," I said.

Across the room, Angel suddenly cocked her head in a way that made me stiffen and brace myself.

"Someone's coming," she said.

"Who is it?" my mom asked.

Angel concentrated, her brows furrowed. "It's Jeb," she said. "Jeb and Dr. Hans. Hans Gunther-Hagen." And how would she know this, you might ask? Her scary mental powers. She can pick up on people's energy and emotions, from a distance. And close up? Let's just say don't have any private, personal, embarrassing thoughts around her. Yeah. Good luck with that.

"How did they—" I began, then looked at my mom. "You told them we were here?! You know I hate seeing Jeb! And the last time I saw Dr. Hans, he'd just accidentally almost sort of killed Fang!"

"I know, honey," my mom said, looking unruffled. "But Jeb called, and he said he just had to talk to you. Something urgent—he was very insistent."

I looked into her warm brown eyes that were similar to mine. Her hair was darker and curlier than mine. We didn't look much alike.

"I'm not talking to him," I said, starting down the hall to the bathroom.

"If Max doesn't want him here, he shouldn't be here," Dylan said. I looked back to see him swing in gracefully through a large open window. I hated that he was sticking up for me. I'd rather just dislike and mistrust him and be done with it.

"Don't worry, Max," Angel said. She came over to me and took my hand. "Whatever he says, we're in this together. We're the flock."

I stifled a heavy sigh. This from one who was alternately a superamazing, then a traitorous, duplicitous, backstabbing seven-year-old. I didn't exactly trust her fully either.

I looked around. As flock leader, everyone was expecting me to make a decision. Jeb's presence here would bring uncertainty, chaos, probably danger.

It would perk up my day.

I shrugged."Let him in."

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Rebecca Soler

Rebecca Soler is a New York based actress who voices numerous principal characters for the CW's Saturday morning cartoon lineup including: Viva Piñata (Ella and Simone), Huntik (Sophie) The Winx Club (Techna) and Chaotic (Sarah). Other audio books include Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen and After by Amy Efaw for which she was awarded a 2009 AudioFile Earphones Award. Rebecca is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

Audio Excerpts (MP3)
Clip #1
Chapter 1 to 4
Clip #2
Chapters 5 to 8
Clip #3
Chapters 9 to 12
Clip #4
Chapters 13 to 16
Clip #5
Chapters 17 to 20
Clip #6
Chapters 21 to 23
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