Whit and Wisty Allgood have finally triumphed over the evil that has long overshadowed their world with their defeat of The One Who Is The One. Now they move on to their next mission: becoming members of a governing Council that will return the Overworld to a place of creativity, magic, and freedom from persecution.
But it isn't long before the city is threatened from inside and out. The adults on the Council want to control the use of magic in the city, and a fearsome Wizard King threatens war. As Wisty begins a new relationship with an intense and mysterious boy and the pressures of leading the city bear down on them, Whit and Wisty find themselves growing apart. Will they be able to come together to fight the mounting threats that could return their world to the hands of a tyrant?
James Patterson delivers what the fans have been asking for—the story of what happens next—with an epic fourth installment about the heroic teen witch and wizard that have captured our imaginations.
Book One | The First Truth: You Can't Trick the Inner Eye
THE INAUGURAL CEREMONY earlier was superemotional and important, but this is what I have been waiting for: music pumping through my veins. The spotlight bathing me in its beam. My hair flying around me as I shred my guitar.
It’s not quite like when I played for thousands at the underground Stockwood Music Festival last year—I mean, I have to admit, it was pretty fun to break the law—but rocking the open-mic stage at the Art Is Alive Gala is pretty thrilling.
For one thing, the gala involves all the stuff we love that’s been banned for so long. There are tons of new sculptures, films, and writing exhibited here, and looking out from the stage, it’s incredible to see all the paintings The One confiscated now restored and lining the walls. You’d never guess this gallery used to be a New Order armory.
I wipe the sweat from my brow and shout into the microphone, “We can’t forget: art is alive… because The One is dead!” The crowd roars.
I strum the final chord and step off the small stage to rejoin my group of friends—mostly kids from the former Resistance. As the lights dim for the next act, Sasha hands me some strong-smelling punch.
“Cheers to the rock star,” he says.
I take a sip… and spit it out as the astringent burn takes over my nostrils.
“Sorry. Maybe it’s my strong aversion to the color red, but not for me.”
Whit nods. “Trust me, she’s already pretty spazzy as is without alcohol.” I scoff, and Whit breaks into a smile. “Hey, spazzy is a good quality in an entertainer. You were awesome up there, by the way.”
I beam at him. “So is this DJ,” I say as a new act starts up.
“Yeah. That’s my friend Ross Lilienfield,” Sasha says. “We used to record mixes together in his basement when we were kids. This is definitely his best stuff.”
I nod appreciatively and start to move with the music, the energy making its way down to my hips and feet.
Janine nudges me. “Looks like you’ve got a fan.”
Now I sense the eyes on me. Through the darkness, I can see a boy. His eyes lock on mine, and something in me feels as explosive as the fireworks I created earlier.
Janine squeezes my arm and giggles, but I can’t even brush it off.
As the boy starts walking over, my pulse thuds faster with each step.
But then Byron appears at my side, demanding attention. As usual, he’s in wooing mode. “You’re a virtuoso, Wisty,” he says, eyes shining with sincerity.
He’s overdressed, but he still looks dapper—almost handsome—in his crisp white shirt and black tie. I’m sure some other girl would find the anxious wrinkle in his brow endearing. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want some other girl.
“Thanks, Byron,” I murmur, eyes scanning the crowd for the gorgeous stranger in the shadows. Where did he go?
“I mean, you were completely on fire up there!” he presses, sensing my attention drifting. Gotta give the kid credit. He never gives up.
“On fire? Really?” I look at him wryly, and Byron chuckles.
“I can understand your friend’s mistake,” a voice says in a low, playful tone into my ear.
When I turn around, my stomach does a triple flip. It’s the beautiful stranger. Up close, he seems to tower over me, and his features are chiseled, strong. I’m so flustered I spill my unwanted punch.
He smiles and leans in even closer. “That smoky voice…” I inhale the leathery smell from his jacket and his aftershave, and feel dizzy. “Your flaming red hair… Everything about you smolders.”
Yet it’s his eyes that seem to blaze, even in the dim light. They’re simultaneously intense and bemused. I can’t seem to look away.
I also can’t seem to speak.
It’s the most forward thing anyone has ever said to me. Normally I’d give a guy some kind of sharp verbal slap for coming on like that, but there’s something different about this one. It’s like he knows I’d suck up anything that comes out of that perfect mouth.
“Did you really come over here just to give her a cheap line?” Whit butts in before I can think of an answer.
“Whit!” Janine elbows him and pulls him away, but I’m totally mortified.
“Sorry about my brother….” I mutter lamely.
“No, it’s okay.” The boy laughs and runs a hand through the jet-black hair that stands up wildly from his forehead. “Actually, I came over to say I enjoyed your performance. A little punk, a little blues, and the vibrato technique and tonal variations on the power chords were stellar.” He smiles at me, all easy confidence. “Even if you did rip off Smash’s shredding style a little bit.”
“Every guitar player rips off Smash a little bit!” I protest, but relent as he shrugs, amused. “You seem to know a lot about music,” I observe, impressed.
“I know a lot about a lot of things.”
“Oh, yeah?” I smirk. “What else do you know?” I’m usually pretty skeptical with boys and don’t get into a flirt, but the banter with this guy comes easily somehow.
He bends down a bit so his face is next to mine, his chin brushing against my hair. “I know… what you want.” His voice is a whisper in my ear, and he says each word like he’s tasting it, savoring it. For a fire girl, it’s pretty weird to have goose bumps.
“What’s that?” I ask when I finally find my voice.
“To dance. With me.” He’s extremely attractive—like, beyond—but it’s his unwavering gaze that unhinges me—the kind of look that could conquer the world.
I eye all the people standing in clusters, talking. “But no one is dancing.”
“You were. I saw you from across the room. Looking like you wanted to move. Like you wanted to break all the rules.”
“That was only swaying,” I say quickly, embarrassed by how plainly he can see the real me. “I meant no one else is dancing.”
Hearing that, Janine grabs Whit’s hand and drags him onto the dance floor. She gives me a wry look over her shoulder, and I glare daggers back.
The boy cocks an eyebrow, and the shadows play across his striking face. “So. How about that dance?”
It seems so easy to fall into the rhythm, to let our hips find the beat, to get closer…. But I’m not sure I’m ready. He just seems a little too gorgeous, a little too tall, a little too mature, a little too confident. A little too much man for me right now.
I wait a second too long, and the guy sighs, turning. “I’m Heath. Call me when you get sick of standing still, and we’ll move.” He’s walking away.
“I don’t think you could keep up,” I call after him.
“You really are a firecracker, aren’t you?” Heath grins, and his electric gaze flickers back at me. “I hope I get the chance to prove you wrong.”
Then he’s gone, and I let out a slow, measured breath. Of all the times I’ve been on fire, I’ve never felt sparks quite like that.
“Who does that guy think he is?” Byron grumbles beside me.
“What?” I look at him, startled that the rest of the world hasn’t fallen away.
“Interrupting our conversation, waltzing in here like he owns the place, and pestering you when you’ve made it clear that you’re obviously not interested.” He frowns. “He’s way too old for you, anyway.”
“Shut up, Byron,” I huff. I snap my fingers to work a little magic, and suddenly Byron is no longer standing in front of me. In his place, there’s a squeaking weasel. “I should just leave you like this—your true form.”
But I can never stay mad at Byron for long. I clap my hands, and he’s back.
“Feel better now that you’ve gotten that out of your system?” he snaps.
I nod, smiling. “Definitely.”
My hips start to twitch again, swaying with the music. On the dance floor, Whit and Janine are moving together under the lights. Around Whit, Janine’s serious eyes sparkle, and her laughter peals across the room. Regardless of how many girls have batted their eyelashes at him, it’s weird to think of my brother as some kind of ripped heartthrob. Janine seems to see Whit more deeply than that, though—she understands Whit the poet, and Whit the goofball.
He looks utterly smitten, too, and I have to admit, Janine is one awesome chick. I’m so glad he’s found someone special again, after losing Celia.
I sigh. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss Heath…. But there’s time. Everything feels fresh tonight. I’m surrounded by friends, family, and amazing artwork, and there are no bombs.
Copyright © 2013 by James Patterson
Read by Spencer Locke, Justin Long,
and Cassandra Morris