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One last chance...
for Max, Fang, and Dylan...
before it all ends.

Are you ready for the final chapter? Are you ready for the ultimate flight? Because THIS IS IT. One last incredible, explosive adventure with an astonishing ending that no one could have seen coming.

BOOK ONE | Before

Chapter 4

AS A RULE, I like to remain an international girl of mystery. I err on the side of caution, to put it mildly, and we used to go to extreme lengths to not let regular people see us fly. But we’d been outed ages ago, and now we bother with non-winged-person camouflage only when we absolutely have to.

All of which explains why we landed right on top of the school buses in the parking lot, then jumped to the ground, where we were greeted with much wide-eyed amazement and murmurs of surprise from kids who’d been milling around, waiting for the bell.

I gave my shirt a little tug and unzipped my ever-present windbreaker. I felt stares and started to get that zoo-exhibit feeling. I bristled and put my shoulders back—I’m all too used to dealing with people’s curiosity, fear, and even, I dare say, a little awe.

Then I realized they weren’t staring at me.

“Dylan!” A girl separated from her clowder (look it up—you’ll learn something) and practically knocked me down to get to him.

“That was—” she began.

“So awesome!” another girl interrupted.

Right about then I noticed that these girls were wearing short skirts and spaghetti-strap tank tops, and had long, shiny hair. Trendy flip-flops emphasized dainty toenails painted blue and green and pink. It would be shallow to mention what I was wearing, so I won’t.

If I’d been with Fang, he would have stiffened and then slipped away into the shadows before they even realized what had happened.

But I was with Dylan.

“Hello, ladies,” he said, and his smile visibly took their breath away. I had no idea eyelashes could flutter that fast. Or why they would.

“I haven’t seen anything that cool since Andi’s couch caught on fire at our last party,” said one girl, expertly flipping her hair over one shoulder.

“It was totally an accident!” the girl I guessed was Andi said, giving the first girl a little shove. Dylan’s smile widened, and I waited for the girls to bow down and chant We are not worthy!

Except they clearly thought they were so worthy. Completely secure in their worthiness.

The first girl tapped Dylan on the chest with one painted fingernail. I stuck my hands in my pockets and fell back to walk with the rest of the flock.

“You’re eating with me at lunchtime!” possibly-Andi said, smiling up at Dylan.

“And me!” said the other girl.

“And us!” Three more girls crowded around him and I had a sudden mental image of a bunch of hyenas circling their prey.

“I’m gonna have to get some wings,” I heard a guy mutter as they watched the girls move with Dylan toward the school.

“Retrofitted wings are a disaster!” I informed him wryly, remembering my sometimes-evil, now-deceased half brother Ari’s horrible grafted-on pair. The guy’s eyes widened, and I got too late that he didn’t actually mean he was going to get himself wings. In my science-gone-wrong world, it was only too possible, and I’d seen enough botched experiments to prove it.


Nudge’s excited greeting made me look over to where a boy was loping toward us. He had smooth brown skin and a million thin dreadlocks pulled back in a loose ponytail. He was male-model cute, and I could practically hear the squeal Nudge was repressing.

“Hey, girl,” Sloan called back with an easy smile.

“How old is he?” I hissed under my breath. Sure, Nudge is five-six, but she’s only twelve years old, and in way too much of a hurry to get older, IMHO.

“I don’t know,” Nudge said blithely, heading off to meet him. I gave him a once-over—he was wearing a varsity jersey, which meant he was in at least tenth grade, probably eleventh. So, like, fifteen? Sixteen? Crap. What was she doing?

A light touch grazed my arm and I snapped my head sideways to see Dylan turning his full wattage to me.

“Catch you later,” he said, and his sea-colored eyes seemed to look right into my soul. Again I remembered kissing him on top of the Arc de Triomphe. And a couple other places. Now he was throwing himself into the group of girls like chum into shark-infested waters.

Well, they can have him, I thought, touching my arm where his fingers had left a warm trail.

I didn’t want him.


Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Rebecca Soler

Rebecca Soler is a New York-based actress who voices numerous principal characters for the CW's Saturday morning cartoon lineup including: Viva Piñata, Huntik, The Winx Club, and Chaotic. Other audiobooks include Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen, After by Amy Efaw, for which she was awarded a 2009 AudioFile Earphones Award, and Monster High by Lisi Harrison.

Audio Excerpts (MP3)
Clip #1
Chapter 1 to Chapter 4
Clip #2
Chapters 5 to 8
Clip #3
Chapters 9 to 12
Clip #4
Chapters 13 to 16
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