by Lucinda Stein
Genre: YA Scifi
Release date: January 24th 2017
When romance turns deadly…
Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.
Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.
But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.
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About the Author
A school librarian for over twenty years, Stein now writes fulltime. Sanctuary: Family, Friends, & Strangers was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Three Threads Woven, was a 2010 WILLA Finalist. Her story, Sulfur Springs, won First Place in the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction competition. Her stories have appeared in Pooled Ink, The South Dakota Review, Fine Lines, and Women Writing the West online.
When not writing, she hikes desert canyons and alpine trails. She loves anything vintage, her shelter-rescued dog, Opie, and, most of all, her husband, Rob.
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Excerpts from Jadeite’s Journey:
Just when Jadeite thought she had avoided trouble, Mattie cornered her at her locker.
“Miss Journeyman, how’s it going?” Mattie’s sneer gave her chills.
“Mattie.” She shuffled through the electronic drives kept for each class.
“Missing me yet?” He pressed closer and his hand slid to her back.
She slammed her locker shut. “Mattie, I said it was over between us.” She’d appeal to his vanity. “You’re a good-looking guy. Haven’t you found a new girlfriend?”
“Still waiting for you, babe.”
She pulled back but he had her pinned against the locker.
“Hey, cut it out.” Electra rushed over and pushed Mattie.
Mattie shoved back. “You better watch who you’re fooling with. I know people in high places.” He pressed forward and violated Electra’s personal space. “You don’t want more treatment, do you?”
Electra narrowed her eyes and her jaw tightened.
Nonchalantly, Mattie turned toward Jadeite. “Be seeing you, girls.”
Electra glared at Mattie until he disappeared into a swarm of students. She reached for Jadeite’s arm. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Jadeite straightened her shirt. “Electra, you can’t afford a run-in with Mattie. He’s—”
“I know, well connected with the government.”
“Please, don’t get involved. I can take care of myself.” She wanted to spare her friend any more trouble. If Electra only knew the risks Jadeite took were far more dangerous.
Arm in arm, the two girls walked down the hall. Jadeite bit her lip, recalling the wilderness hardships she’d explained to Malachite. The irony of it rolled over her. A more subtle danger existed in United Society, one that slid through wires, swept through cameras, and hovered in electromagnetic fields.
Jadeite woke to Mattie holding a cool gel wrap to her forehead. She was propped on one of the chairs that lined the dance floor.
He offered her a drink of punch. “This will revive you. Oh, and I told the principal to tone down the heat.”
Guess Mattie’s power extended to the entire teaching staff.
“I’ll give you a break for a couple of dances, then we have to get back out there, don’t we?”
His expression made the request into a barely disguised order.
Jadeite nodded and looked away. She hated this guy, absolutely hated him.
It was after midnight when the event ended. She stifled a yawn as Mattie escorted her to the waiting shuttle.
They had driven a few minutes when Mattie lowered the partition between the front and back seats. The driver idled outside the public air-shuttle station where lights revealed a shuttle packed with passengers. The passengers, all adults, sat facing forward. None were reading, visiting, or talking via phone waves.
“Driver, take us to the bistro near the school.”
“Yes, sir.” The tinted window slid up again.
Jadeite stared at the passengers as their shuttle moved ahead. Why would people be transported at this late hour? United Society prided itself on daytime shifts for everyone. One woman looked confused, sweeping her eyes from side to side at those around her. As their private shuttle took off, Jadeite glanced back. She could have sworn a man’s face at the window was cloaked in fear.
She turned to Mattie. “Why are all those people on the transport so late at night?”
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Don’t worry that pretty little head of yours. Those people are being transported to other areas in United Society.”
That’s what they’d told Electra about her parents.
Jadeite glanced around at the people huddled together in small clusters. That’s when she realized the spot where they’d slept was empty. Malachite had vanished.
She scanned the room, but he was nowhere in sight. He was not in the alcove to her right. What if he’d gone outside? Her stomach twisted. She wouldn’t put anything past Malachite. She hurried to the main entrance, where a small group of men remained. She was about to turn back when one man stepped aside. Malachite slipped through the middle of the hunters, his curiosity drawing him on.
Halfway to the mouth of the cave, she grabbed his arm and jerked him backward. She cupped his mouth because their safety depended on not being detected. About to whisper in his ear, she saw the man closest to the entrance wave everyone back. Jadeite drew her brother against the wall.
Dark figures passed the cave. It took a moment to realize what she was seeing, what she’d only read about in government classes: the Legionnaires, the warrior division of androids. She’d never actually seen a picture of them. She clapped both hands over Malachite’s mouth, his eyes wide as Ruby’s pancakes.
Marching single file, armored droids explored the bottom of the cliff. The head of one warrior pivoted, its elongated nose blending with its mouth in a long reptilian snout, its red heat-seeking eyes ablaze before it faced forward again.
Jadeite held her breath. Finally, the small exploration group had passed. “Are you trying to get us killed?” she whispered to her brother. A hunter grasped her arm and pointed outside.
A warrior droid swept past the cave. Another followed. It paused and a black telescopic arm extended near the mouth of the cave. Zap. A streak of electricity found its mark, and a high-pitched squeal sounded.