Excerpted from Fate by Jennifer Lynn Barnes Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Miss her—want him—giggle-new-now.
The pressure of souls skating along the insides of my bones increased rapidly, until every human on the planet was as much a part of me as I was, every aspect of every person an open book for my eyes only. Their hopes and dreams, the things they wished for. The things they dreaded.
In a state of divine ecstasy, I threw my head back. This was Earth, the mortal realm. These were humans. This was life.
I was Life.
Giving in to the unbearable pressure within me, I moved my hands in a silent, expressive dance, and soul light burst from my pores. I watched, mesmerized, as the light condensed into webs before my eyes. Some were so densely woven that they appeared as solid fabric; others were thin or sparse, a tangled mess.
It was time.
Like a pianist whose fingers knew a melody better than her mind did, I gave in to the familiarity and undeniable energy of the moment, allowing my hands to carry me through the mind-boggling task. Deftly, instinctively, I crossed this path with that, melded threads together and tore others apart. The fabric was cool to the touch, but white-hot sparks leapt off my body as I wove.
“Good morning, Oakridge! I’m Craaaaazy Mike, and you’re listening to K-K-K-KHITS! It’s seven in the a.m., and I a-m in the mood for some lovin’, some badda bing, if you know what I mean. . . .”
I rolled over in bed and slapped at my radio alarm. I really didn’t want to know what Crazy Mike meant any more than I already did, and I definitely didn’t want to give him the chance to elaborate. I narrowed my eyes at the clock, and the time stared unapologetically back at me.
Seven a.m. Time to get up for school.
“Just five more minutes?” I asked. Since I’d turned the alarm off, there was no beeping reply to my question, and I took that silence as permission to snuggle into my covers and close my eyes. This time, there was no weaving, no mystical plane to claim my spirit.
Peace at last.
“Bailey Marie, don’t tell me you’re still sleeping.” My mom cruised by my bedroom door, not even bothering to stop as she made use of my middle name. It was a drive-by scolding, one of her many maternal specialties.
Mumbling under my breath about stupid Crazy Mike and my stupid alarm and my stupid middle name, I managed to get my body halfway vertical. A minute or so later, I actually made it out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom like some kind of deranged zombie in search of sweet, sweet brains. Once I’d managed to shut the door behind me and was positive that even my mom’s superhearing wouldn’t allow her to decipher my mumbles, I extended them to include two more subjects.
“Stupid Mom. Stupid ancient birthright.”
I really wasn’t a morning person.
I sought refuge from the horrors of things-that-happen-before-noon in the shower. After the water beat against my skin for a few minutes, I started to feel more human, which—given my nightly activities—was a wee bit ironic. I finished showering, and as my mood improved, little by little, I begrudgingly took back most of my “stupids.” If I was being honest, I didn’t really have anything against my alarm, my middle name, or what I’d just done in the Nexus between this world and the next.
Not ready to part ways with the shower but knowing I had to, I reached to turn it off. As I did, the overhead light hit my hand, casting a large, strangely fluid shadow near my feet. For a moment I stood there looking at the image, which wavered as I clenched the knob, shades of silvery purple fading to gray as I turned my hand. The stream of water pelting my face subsided, and I dropped my hand to my side and stepped out of the shower, leaving it—and the très creepy shadow—behind.
It was times like these that I regretted not dreaming anymore. Without a nighttime outlet, my subconscious and imagination had a tendency to go overboard during my waking hours; hence the funny shadows and the nagging feeling that something in the world (not to mention the shower) wasn’t quite right.
I shook my head, and water flew off my sopping hair to join the steam beaded up on the mirror’s surface. The condensation distorted my reflection, but I could still make out my not-brown, not-blond hair and my undeniably average body. For someone who held the fate of the world in her hands—literally—I sure wasn’t much to look at. I probably should have been used to it by now, but even after two years of waking up to find that no matter what I did in other realms, I was just plain old me in this one, I still hadn’t quite wrapped my mind around it.
Bailey Morgan, Third Fate. Not to sound too seventies, but that was just objectively trippy. Mythology wasn’t supposed to be fact, and I wasn’t supposed to be a part of it, but it was, and I was, and no matter how many days I woke up thinking the whole thing was crazy, it didn’t change that it was all real.
I was the Third Fate, the Fate of Life.