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On Sale: November 13, 2012
Pages: 544 | ISBN: 978-0-375-98428-0
Published by : Delacorte Press RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Fans will be thrilled with the final novel in the Meridian trilogy as the romance between Meridian and Tens heats up. And Juliet returns, but her obsessions leave her open to evil exploitation.

Meridian Sozu is a Fenestra, an angel infused human, destined to transition souls into the next world. Together with Tens Valdes, her soulmate and Protector, they've made a home in Indiana, making sure the dead safely enter the light and aren't stolen by the Dark, known as the Nocti.

Upon rescuing Juliet Ambrose from her terrible childhood, Juliet has become vulnerable without her Protector and grasps at any hope to find her parents, even when it's offered by a proven Nocti, Ms. Asura. Juliet is now faced with the horrible choice between uncovering her past and having a future.

Meanwhile, time may be running out for the hundreds of thousands preparing for the festivities surrounding the Indianapolis 500 car race. As centuries of secrets are revealed, the battles will pit Light versus Dark. Not all with survive as Meridian, Tens, and Julie join forces to try to thwart a potential tragedy.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A carpet of violets rose beneath our feet, dancing to the tune the May winds strummed. Cherry trees lifted pink petals in offering. Paved paths wide enough for cars wound around the grassy hills, linking one section to another. Stone guardians and perpetual mourners of all sizes populated each plot. Benches made of granite but fashioned like tree limbs invited the weary to rest awhile. Whole tree trunks of limestone towered above, twined with ivy, calla lilies, and anchors. Up on a hill, sturdy stone monuments belonging to prominent families overlooked the best view of the Indianapolis skyline. Below us, an angel with unfurled wings held her hands out in invitation, her eyes closed as if she, too, saw beyond this life and into the next.

Cemeteries were my universal comfort place. I’d learned over the last five months that any burial place felt safe. In Colorado or here in Indiana. Wherever we went next, I knew I’d find the same peace at burial grounds. Their irrefutably homey feeling filled my heart with quiet contentment. Standing in Riverside Cemetery picking out two lots in section forty-six, one for Auntie’s grave marker and one for Juliet’s mother, Roshana, I wasn’t sure if I felt this safe because of all the dead or because the living worked so hard not to forget them. There, surrounded by monuments of draped obelisks and marble lambs, my grip relaxed. Maybe it was because the only souls coming to me were long since deceased and knew exactly what they were doing. Or maybe any earth dedicated to memories and the past was my temple, my church, my sacred ground--I didn’t know, didn’t question.

“Earth to Merry?” Tens brushed my hand with a half smile and a teasing glint in his eyes. “You okay?” His lips, too full and pink to be masculine, added to the beauty of his face and contrasted with his rugged, razor-sharp cheekbones and strong jaw.

I knew what those lips were capable of and my stomach knotted a silent answer. I’d like to lock us in a room, simply the two of us, pause the world so I could stop worrying, stop thinking, stop being a Fenestra and just be a girl in love with a boy. Just for a moment or two.

“Here comes Rumi,” I said as our giant friend, whose heart was larger than his frame, marched toward us beside the cemetery’s sexton. Rumi blew glass, acted like a self-appointed human watchdog, and threw around rare, antiquated words the way most of us said stupid things like cool and sick. His bald head was offset by a multicolored and intricately braided beard, his eyes sparkling with ever-ready laughter and capable of seeing the world painted in vivid colors.

“Merry?” Tens frowned at my half answer. He took his job of Protector seriously, even when I didn’t need him to. Was it possible to balance being entwined without being smothered? If only we could share thoughts without words, like we were supposed to. Protectors didn’t seem to have angel genes, but when paired with the right Fenestra, they shared memories and experiences from a very early age. In the beginning, Tens’s uncanny ability to feel what I felt unnerved me. Now I found comfort in not being alone. However, that didn’t mean I needed him to take care of me. I might not have superpowers, but I wasn’t helpless. I wouldn’t diminish myself to placate his sometimes overbearing sense of duty.

I snorted. In short, we were still working out the kinks in our relationship. “I’m fine. Just breathing.” Rumi brought me to this cemetery on a whim before the Feast of the Fireflies to visit his mother’s grave. We’d found grave markers chiseled with windows, like ones I saw shifting souls to the other side. They were also reiterated in the artwork Rumi’s ancestors passed down.

I hadn’t noticed the trees in February, but now the leaves unfurled like sails in late-spring breezes heading toward summer; it was as if the trees, too, had stories to share. The gentle wind whispered over us, raining petals and rustling the violets.

I glanced over at Tens. To think we were connected, entwined, destined to be together blew my mind. He was taller than most men, and his shoulders used to be straight planks and right angles but now subtly curved and rounded. His legs ate up the ground beneath him with the grace of rushing water--purposeful, intense, impossible to refuse. His deep black hair was shot through with shades of blue and purple and rust as the sun struck it. Forever too long, it fell over his ears and winged eyebrows, into his eyes. Eyes that appeared black, too, but flecked with a rich coffee brown, his pupils and irises blended. And it was as if he saw things most people missed. Maybe he did, not because he was a Protector, but because he was awake and aware of the world around him. He listened with every cell, every breath, knew the intention of every word of the people around us.

Rumi’s booming voice carried on the breeze. His odd accents and vocabulary made watching conversations with him a spectator sport. No one knew half of his words; I figured out the context and tried to look them up later. “Lass, this is Thomas. Are you sure this be the spot for your cenotaphs, your empty graves?”

“Merry, you’re sure you want to do this?” Tens leaned down into my face, cupping my cheeks. His breath was flavored by the cinnamon gum he preferred.

“Yes, they need stones and we need earth to visit.” Auntie’s remains had been in her house in Revelation when Perimo and the Nocti burned it down. If there was anything left, we had no idea when, or if, it would ever be safe enough to return there. She taught me that Fenestras are finite--if a Fenestra dies and isn’t transitioned by another Fenestra, then they are lost to the world. Which is a very good reason for the Nocti to hunt us to change or kill us. I’d helped Auntie over the window, but she couldn’t go to the Light beyond. She seemed stuck and the only thing we’d been able to figure out was her bodily remains weren’t marked, weren’t rested.

So although I could only mark ground for Auntie, we hoped to find Juliet’s mother, Roshana, somewhere nearby. Please be where we can find you. I feared Juliet would never relinquish the tight hold on her grief if we were unable to bury Roshana’s remains. It was as if Juliet couldn’t hold on to her actual mother, so instead she clung to the pain of not having a mom. Roshana had been taken by the Nocti, probably by Ms. Asura, years ago, and we had no idea where she might be buried, or if she was at all. “I won’t be back to Revelation soon to bury Auntie near Charles, and Juliet’s mother was a local, right? It makes sense to mark this ground, where Rumi’s family rests, before more time passes.”

We knew Rumi ordered plain stones for his family; mysteriously, the suspected Fenestras and Protectors had been re-marked with much more elaborate stones. We hoped to lure whoever was responsible for changing the grave markers into the open. Who are they? Can they help us find more Fenestra? Assist us in uncovering Juliet’s father’s identity? Why change the stones? Did it keep the Nocti from desecrating the remains of Fenestra, or were they mere decoration?

I rubbed my aching forehead. Too much thinking. Not enough knowing.

“This is only a tittle away from where my family’s plots are.” Rumi stroked his massive beard, today decorated with blue glass beads, and wiped his head free from sweat with an embroidered handkerchief. The late May weather was proving hot, unpredictable, and fickle.

I followed Rumi’s finger toward the gravestones of his generations. Granite window casings, swords, and foreign markings we didn’t recognize graced the ground. When they’d arrived and who carved them remained unknown. If they were Fenestra, or Nocti, or simply tied to us was part of the mystery. It would be easier to list the few things we know about us, rather than keep track of all the questions.

“I agree,” Tens offered, tipping his head to the right in a movement so slight neither Rumi nor the sexton saw it.

Custos, with her honey-and-molasses-tipped hair, hid her bulk behind an oak tree heavy with cascading flowers and poked her snout around to stare at us. Part wolf, part dog, and part divine-something-or-other, her lips curved and tail wagged. She seemed unusually pleased with herself.

I chuckled, slipping my hand into Tens’s. My fingertips tingled with the heat and strength he provided my soul like air for my lungs. If cemeteries are a safe place for me, Tens is my home.

“It’s done, then. If you’ll sign here?” Thomas held the paperwork out to Rumi for his signature and marked the two plots with wooden stakes and laminated numbers.

Today wasn’t only about closure; this might aid in solving the mystery. Calculating the risk, we’d decided to order plain stones, similar to the ones Rumi picked out originally. I hoped that by ordering plain headstones we might flush out whoever, or whatever, knew to put the special Fenestra headstones and footstones on the graves. Was it some sort of heavenly magic, or were there humans behind it? We needed knowledge, information, anything to add to our collective. The headstones delivered anonymously matched the drawings in his mother’s belongings and many of my visions at the window.

“Would you please be punctilious and let me know exactly when the stones’ll be delivered?” Rumi asked Thomas.

“Sure. I’m on it, Mr. Rumi. Not a problem. Let me just note it here.” The sexton wandered off alone back toward his golf cart.

Rumi turned to me. “I’d like to take a rubbing of the words, send it to a friend at the university to give a dekko, a look, at ’em. See if she can tell us what language is carved into them.”

“Is it worth the risk?” Tens questioned.

“I trust her. Besides, whatever is written here is on stones for all the world to see, not in an abditory, a secret place.”

“That’s a good point,” I agreed, tucking my shoulder-length curls behind my ears. They no longer wilted when I transitioned the dead, and I’d given up hiding behind wild hair colors.

“Rumi, we’re going to be late to your own meeting.” Tens checked his watch. “You willing to tell us what it’s all about now?”

“No.” Rumi grinned.





Amber Kizer

About Amber Kizer

Amber Kizer - Speed of Light
Have you ever played a game called Three Truths? Basically, it’s like a multiple choice test except you have four choices and one of them is a total lie–the others are true…The point of the game is to figure out which one is a total lie . . . what’s that? You wish you could play right now? Well, goody because I think that’s much more fun than a dry bio–plus you could win big prizes (that’s a lie), but you’ll have the invigorating experience of being right. And really when it comes down to it, how can a new car beat being right?

We’ll start off easy to get you warmed up. First set: 1) Amber Kizer is my real name; 2) I live on an island; 3) I have a rooster named Fabio; 4) I have parakeets named Chirp and Pecker

Think you know which one is false? Say it out loud, no cheating! Ready? I do not have a penname, which means Amber Kizer is, in fact, my real name (although, I have considered writing under the name J.K. Rowling, just because it has such a catchy ring to it). I do live on an island. Unfortunately, it’s not a gorgeous tropical island. It’s in the Pacific Northwest where gray skies and green trees (thanks to the rain!) are the most popular colors. I do have a rooster named Fabio. He is named after a very famous cover model for romance novels–the human Fabio is beefy, doesn’t own t-shirts, and has long blond hair he swings around seductively. The chicken Fabio isn’t beefy (tastes like chicken), doesn’t own t-shirts, and has long blond feathers, which he does indeed throw around like he’s in front of a wind machine. I do not have parakeets because I don’t like cages and in my mind having parakeets is one step away from wearing housecoats, lycra in public, and owning 50 cats, all named Sweetie.

It’s going to get harder . . . 1) I make wedding cakes for fun; 2) I love reality TV–especially dating shows; 3) I have four kids and am married; 4) I don’t miss a minute of March Madness basketball if I can help it.

Think you know? I do make wedding cakes for fun, and birthday cakes, and I love you cakes, and cakes of all kinds. I love to bake. If you want to see photos of cakes I’ve made just visit my Web site at AmberKizer.com. I do love reality TV–and especially dating shows, the raunchier it is, the funnier and the better it is. Please don’t hold this against me, I’m in therapy to break the addiction! I adore college hoops and try not to miss any of the tournaments–men’s and women’s. I’m not married and don’t have kids–I’m young and, while I do hope those things are in my future somewhere way down the line, they’re on the wish list rather than in the cart. I am, however, in stock and ready to ship.

All right, I’m done being nice to you. Here’s a hard one: 1) I read 15—20 books concurrently; 2) I quilt; 3) Roses are my favorite flower; 4) I collect amber jewelry when I travel.

I do read a huge, high stack of books all at the same time–it keeps it interesting. There’s too much to learn in the world to read one from start to finish. So I read a chapter, change books, read a chapter and so on, until whatever I’m reading is so compelling I have to finish the book. Pretty much any topic is game, but I stay away from math theory and computer programming because they just give me a headache. I do quilt–I love working with colors and fabrics. I don’t quilt as often as I’d like because these hands are usually wrung dry from typing, but yum, it feeds my creative soul to stitch fabrics together. Roses are a favorite, but my ultimate favorite flowers are lilies–Casablanca white ones, Stargazer pinks, any of the really fragrant lilies–the scent makes my soul smile. So that was kinda a trick one because, of course, I collect amber jewelry. I love it and it looks good with my coloring, so it’s a win win.

Now, to the super-duper difficult ones: 1) I’ve wanted to be a writer since I could talk; 2) I wrote my first book at the age of five called “Wiggle Me, Tiggle Me”; 3) I only write when my muse taps me on the shoulder; 4) I don’t have to do much editing; it’s usually close to perfect the first time around.

Think you know? Ha ha, changed it up–they’re all LIES! LIES, LIES, LIES! Okay, so maybe that wasn’t fair, but it was fun. I always wanted to be a criminal prosecuting attorney and eventually a Supreme Court Justice. (Can you spell overachiever anyone?) But I played basketball fervently, and over the course of high school, I ended up with some fairly nasty injuries to my feet and legs. Those led to surgeries, which then gave room to a rare nerve disorder. I developed symptoms at age 18 and it totally and completely sucks (just telling it like it is). In the simplest of terms, the system that controls pain signals, temperature, circulation, and all that very important stuff is corrupted to the point that it’s wrong all the time–which means my legs hurt all the time and don’t always work for me when I ask them to. So this means my life has to be fairly fluid–I can not tell you how many plans I’ve had to cancel, how many shows I’ve given away tickets to, how many great ideas I’ve had to say “sorry” to. I know someone loves me when I say I’m hurting and they show up with ice cream and a video when we were supposed to go out. This also means that I can’t count on my legs to have a structured 9 to 5 job (although I’d love to do any number of things on a consistent basis), so I had to figure out a career that was flexible and that I could do on the good days, or from a horizontal position on the bad ones. A friend invited me to a workshop she was giving on how to teach writing to kids. I did all the activities, and I was hooked on storytelling. I came away from that six weeks with six pages of a story. I wanted to know the ending, so I kept writing.

Oh, and I should probably tell you that I started in adult romances. Yes, that’s right, I love romances and they’re completely a hoot to write–a hopeless romantic, I adore happy endings and who doesn’t like hot, steamy, monkey s---socks. Monkey socks. So I wrote one book, then another, then another. The whole time I was learning what I could about the craft–it’s like wanting to be a great artist you need to know the techniques and tools of the craft, and you have to practice. I also spent a great deal of time learning the business end of things–how agents work, how publishing works, what to expect, what to do right, and what to avoid doing at all costs. There’s so much to learn I’m convinced I will never know it all. But I worked my way up the scale from form letter rejections to handwritten notes to long, involved letters asking for revisions.

I was working on my fourth romance when a voice in my head started giving editorial input. “He put his hand where? That so wouldn’t happen . . . eeewww.” And on and on. Meet Gert. She had things to say and I desperately needed her to shut up, so I opened a new word document and went at it. I figured I’d let her go until she ran out of steam and then I could get back to the real writing. I guessed 20 pages tops before she ran out of things to say. That was 2005 and she’s still going. Nothing is off limits, she talks about everything–even the stuff parents hope their kids don’t know about. One Butt Cheek is the first in her series–the second From Butt to Booty comes out next fall.

I always edit. I always rewrite. And there are no such things as muses unless you use that as a synonym for discipline or perseverance.

My advice for anyone who thinks they want to be a writer is to hang glide. No, again that’s not the truth, but it sounds way more interesting than the truth, which is to . . . um . . . write. Also get good at surviving rejection because you have to. Because you have to put yourself out there all the time and learn how to shake it off and do it all over again the next day. You won’t get published if you don’t send it out. And you won’t get published if you send out crap that you haven’t perfected to the best of your ability. But it’s not easy, it’s not pain free and it’s not for the weak of spirit. It’s hard, competitive, and everyone thinks because they type out e-mails that writing a book can’t be much harder than that. Oh yeah, everyone thinks they could write the next bestseller without breaking a sweat, everyone thinks they’re a writer–just know that up front.

So here’s my advice–it’s really good practice to ask the cute boy out, call the girl who you’ve been crushing on since sixth grade, make yourself available and vulnerable. Because here’s the deal, they might say yes, they might have been enamored of you for ages, too. Because you could get the call that says, “We’ve got a contract offer on your book!” Or at the very least you’ll have some soul-wrenching real-life experience to write about and that, my friends, is the truth and nothing but the truth. So help me Gert.

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