them. We don’t need to be spotted.”

My skin is tight and prickly as we crawl on our hands and knees, moving downhill. We finally stop, perched on a rise. Below, a small town sits nestled in a valley.

“What is this place?” Tamra asks, peering out with her binoculars.

“Crescent Valley,” Will answers. “Population: nine hundred and seventy-eight.”

“It looks dead,” Cassian observes.

“Pretty much,” Will agrees, gesturing to the picturesque valley below. “The grocery store. Crescent Valley School — all grade levels in one building. The community hall. Joel’s Bar and Grill. Antonio’s over there serves a decent pizza. I’ve waited there when my dad and uncle made drops. No more than two can drop off. And there, see that big building? That’s the number one employer in town — CVMS. Crescent Valley Medical Suppliers.”

I survey the innocuous sprawling factory of dingy white rock. Less innocuous is the high fence with its winding ropes of barbed wire along the top. A uniformed guard stands at a gatehouse. It’s the only way in or out that I can detect. The vast parking lot is half full, dotted with cars.

“They sell mostly medical supplies. Stuff used in your standard doctor’s office. Syringes. Some surgical equipment.”

This is the enkros stronghold?” Cassian asks. “It’s a front?”

“Yes,” Will answers, his lips pressing into a grim line. He gestures to the entire valley with his hand. “All of it is. The whole town. Everyone is connected or related to someone who works there.”

My skin hums itchy-hot, heart hammering in my chest as I look down at the valley, at the place I had feared for so many years while knowing so little about it, without having any notion what it could be.

This is ten times worse than the prisonlike fortress I imagined. It’s evil wrapped up in innocent packaging.

It sits there, tidy bows and all, within a seemingly normal community. Underneath it all, it’s a place of torment and death.

My father’s image swims before my eyes. Is this where they took him? And Miram? Are they both behind those walls?

Resolve rolls through me in a bitter wash. Mine. Cassian’s. It doesn’t matter really. In this, we feel the same. Suddenly it’s about more than rescuing Miram.

I sense Will’s gaze on my face and turn to him. He knows. He’s with me. We’re together in this. In everything.

“Let’s bring it down,” I mutter. “All of it.”

He smiles and warmth spreads through me at how fortunate I am, how far I have come. I have Will. I have my sister. I even have Cassian. I’m not going into this alone, a victim like Miram. A captive like Dad. We will infiltrate the stronghold. We will rescue Miram. We will stand together. Right now, I’m convinced anything is possible.

About the Author

Sophie Jordan grew up on a pecan farm in the Texas hill country, where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s also the New York Times bestselling author of Avon historical romances. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows. Sophie also writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler. You can visit her online at

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