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Uninvited (Uninvited #1)
Sophie Jordan

Part One: Carrier

NEWS RELEASE

For immediate release: Contact: CDC Press Office (770) 401-6091 March 15, 2021

Surgeon General releases new report on HTS More than 19,000 registered carriers

A new report on Homicidal Tendency Syndrome shows that cases are more dangerous and widespread than originally thought. The data illustrates a predisposition for extreme violence in HTS carriers and a clear correlation between the HTS gene and convicted murderers. This information, coupled with the rise in capital crime, calls for increased testing protocols and more severe measures to protect our citizens against HTS carriers. . . .

ONE

I ALWAYS KNEW I WAS DIFFERENT.

When I was three years old, I sat down at the piano and played Chopin. Mom claims I heard it the week before in a hotel elevator. I don’t know where I heard it. I just knew how to place my fingers on the keys . . . how to make them move. Like one knows how to walk, it was just something I knew. Something I did.

Music has always been my gift. That thing I was good at without having to try. First piano. Then the flute. Then violin. It never took me long to get the hang of a new instrument. All my life I heard words like gifted. Extraordinary. Blessed. When everyone discovered I possessed a voice to rival my skills with an instrument, I was called a “prodigy.”

These talents aside, I had the normal dreams, too. When I was six I decided I would be an archeologist. The following year, a race car driver. There was also the requisite princess fantasy in there I spent hours in my room, building fort castles, only to have my brother knock them down. I just pretended he was a dragon and rebuilt those castles.

I had all these dreams to become something. Someone.

No one ever said I couldn’t.

No one ever said killer.

Closing my eyes, I savor the sensation of Zac’s lips on my throat. He inches toward the sensitive spot right below my ear and I giggle, my body shaking in his arms.

“Zac, we’re at school,” I remind him, arching away and shoving halfheartedly at his shoulder.

He levels brilliant green eyes on me, and my breath catches.

Two freshman girls pass us. They try to avert their eyes, play it cool, and look straight ahead, but I can see it’s a battle for them. A battle they lose. Their gazes skip to slide over Zac admiringly. He’s in his gym shorts. An Everton rugby shirt stretches tight over his lean torso. When he lifts an arm and props his hand on the locker behind me, his shirt rides up to reveal a flat stomach, sculpted from long hours at the gym. My mouth dries a little.

The girls walk away, whispering loud enough for me to hear: “Freakin’ hot . . . so lucky . . .”

He’s oblivious to them. “But don’t you like this?” He leans in, backing me against the lockers, and places a lingering, tender kiss at the corner of my mouth. “And this.” He kisses my jawline next.

My stomach flutters and I’m about to give in, forget that I have Mrs. McGary and tons of calculus homework waiting, and surrender to making out with Zac outside the orchestra room, where Anthony Miller is less than successfully warming up on the drums. One of the only instruments I don’t play, but I’m sure I could still play better than Anthony.

Zac pulls back with a sigh and gives me one of those smoldering looks that I know he thinks is irresistible. Only because it is. Only because every girl at school trips over herself when he bestows that smile on them.

But he chose me. My heart swells inside my chest and I let him kiss me again even though I’m already late for practice and Mrs. McGary hates it when I’m late. She constantly reminds me that I’m supposed to be the example for everyone.

Tori walks up to us with a roll of her eyes. “Get a room, you two.” She pulls open the orchestra room door and the sound of the drum solo inside murders my ears.

She holds the door open for me. “Coming, Davy?”

Zac frowns at her. “She’ll be there in a minute.”

Tori hesitates, staring at me with that whipped puppy-dog look on her face. “Are we still studying tonight? I thought you wanted me to help you with your calculus.”

I nod. “I do.” Calculus. The bane of my existence. I barely made an A these last six weeks. And that A was mostly due to Tori and her endless patience with me. “We’re still on.”

She smiles, looking mollified.

I smile back. “I’ll be there in a minute. Save me a seat.”

Tori disappears inside the orchestra room. Zac blows out a breath.

I smooth a hand over his firm chest. “Be nice.”

“She’s always interfering.”

I make an effort to divide my time between Zac and Tori equally, but it’s a balancing act. I never manage to satisfy either one of them. “Have I said that I can’t wait until next year?” I ask. It’s the only thing I can think to say in moments like this when he complains about Tori.

He stares at me knowingly. He has a way of looking at me. So deeply. Like he can see right to my very soul. He knows I’m trying to distract him with the promise of our future. Fortunately, it works.

His fingers thread through my hair. He loves it when I wear it down, loves touching it. Touching me. Yeah. I’m kind of addicted to my boyfriend. It’s getting harder and harder to stop ourselves these days.

“Yeah. And you know the best part of it all?” His eyes hold mine. “Our very own dorm rooms.”

I laugh. Next year. The dream of it tantalizes me. Me at Juilliard. Zac at NYU. I know I shouldn’t be excited at the prospect of my best friend attending college hundreds of miles away from me, but it’ll be nice not having to worry about hurting Tori’s feelings all the time.

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