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P. C. Cast

  Copyright © 2017 by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

  E-book published in 2017 by Blackstone Publishing

  Cover design by Kathryn Galloway English

  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Trade e-book ISBN 978-1-5384-3111-5

  Library e-book ISBN 978-1-5384-3110-8

  CIP data for this book is available from

  the Library of Congress

  Blackstone Publishing

  31 Mistletoe Rd.

  Ashland, OR 97520

  To our House of Night fans,

  Happy 10th Anniversary!

  You are the wittiest, most creative, most loyal readers any author could ask for, and when you spoke, we listened. This book is our love letter to you.

  Dearest Readers,

  For those of you who need a House of Night recap—or those of you who might be entering the House of Night world for the very first time—here is a brief summary to get you up to date for our newest adventure!

  What is a House of Night?

  It is a school that fledgling vampyres go to after they are Marked. Over the next four years there, they will either mature into adult vampyres and make the Change, or they will die horribly.

  Tell me about the House of Night vampyres! I hear they’re not like other vamps …

  You’re right! They aren’t!

  HoN vampyrism is based on biology with a little goddess magick sprinkled in. In some young people going through puberty, an amazing physiological chain reaction begins. This reaction gives them flu-like symptoms as their bodies begin to Change from human to vampyre.

  Vampyre Trackers follow the pheromones these teens release. When the Tracker makes contact, the teenager is Marked magickally by the Goddess as a fledgling vampyre, and the outline of a sapphire-colored crescent moon appears in the middle of his or her forehead. The youth then must go to a House of Night, as the only way the reaction within him or her can be semicontrolled is by being around adult vampyres, and even then many of them die horribly as their bodies reject the Change.

  All House of Night schools are autonomous and matriarchal. They have their own society that exists apart from the country in which it is located, and their own religion. Once a student is Marked and becomes a fledgling vampyre, he or she is legally emancipated from their human families and can choose a new name and future.

  If a fledgling makes the Change, their crescent tattoo is magickally colored in and expanded into a unique facial tattoo, which is a gift from the vampyre goddess, Nyx.

  The Goddess Nyx is the deity most vampyres worship, though she does not require that worship, and she has many faces and names as she is worshipped by vampyres all over the world.

  Vampyres are not immortal, though they do live abnormally long lives (two hundred to a thousand years). They flourish in the arts. They can Imprint with humans through drinking their blood, and they often take human mates. They also often choose a vampyre consort. Vampyres cannot become pregnant and give birth, nor can they father children or create new vampyres in any way.

  Two different species of HoN vampyres have developed. Blue vampyres are the original type of vampyre. They are nocturnal, but can go out in the sunlight, though it isn’t pleasant for them. Some are gifted by Nyx with affinities for an element or an animal (cats are the usual vampyre familiar), or are given other special abilities. Red vampyres are considered a mutation—though in our HoN world, led by our heroine, Zoey Redbird, they are not considered less than blue vampyres. Red vamps can be destroyed by sunlight. They cannot enter a private home without an invitation. They can influence human thoughts, though that is a skill that is not encouraged.

  Most teachers at the HoN are called Professor, though there are some discrepancies. Example: Kramisha, (Loren Blake before her) is the Vampyre Poet Laureate. She teaches, but her main job is being Poet Laureate. Kramisha is also, like Shaylin and Aphrodite, a Prophetess of Nyx. This role circumvents the title of Priestess or High Priestess. Prophetesses of Nyx have different abilities, but all of them are oracle-like in nature, as they can either read signs and portents, or they get actual glimpses of the future. Kramisha’s prophetess gift comes in the form of prophetic poetry. Shaylin’s gift is that she can read auras. Aphrodite gets visions of traumatic future events.

  Priestesses and High Priestess form most of the governing bodies for all Houses of Night. A priestess is simply a young High Priestess in training. Some priestesses never attain the level of High Priestess, which is a sign of having a special connection with Nyx—High Priestesses are wise and mature, and respected by all vampyres and fledglings.

  Gender roles are fluid in the HoN. Warriors do tend to be male, and High Priestesses are usually female, but everyone is encouraged to follow his or her own path.

  Humans have varied reactions to vampyres. Traditionally, vampyres segregate themselves from human societies, though Zoey and her group are working hard to change that, but as is typical with human beings, fear and ignorance breed racism and hatred, and our vampyres struggle with that—especially in Oklahoma, our setting for the Tulsa House of Night.

  Main Characters

  Zoey Redbird is our heroine. She was Marked just before she turned seventeen. From the beginning her Mark was unusual because the Goddess Nyx chose her as special. She is of Cherokee descent and is very close to her grandmother, Sylvia Redbird, who is Cherokee. Nyx gifted Zoey with an affinity for all five elements: wind, fire, water, earth, and spirit. Zoey fights against Darkness and was the first person to realize that Neferet, the High Priestess at the HoN, was trafficking with Darkness and had turned from Nyx. Zoey has a tight group of friends who call themselves the Nerd Herd (they weren’t exactly the most popular group in school!). Her friends have special abilities, too, though none have been as gifted as Zoey.

  Zoey has a tumultuous history with boys, and although in the matriarchal world of the HoN she has the right to have multiple partners without being judged and slut-shamed, she’s not very good at juggling guys. Her Warrior, James Stark, is much more than her boyfriend—he is bound to her through blood and oath. He can feel her emotions and they are very much in love, though Z will always have feelings for her childhood sweetheart, Heath Luck, who was killed during the battle between Light and Darkness.

  At the beginning of Loved, Zoey and the Nerd Herd have made the Change and are full vampyres. Almost a year before the new book opens, Zoey was named the High Priestess of the North American Vampyre High Council—which is a big responsibility for a girl who isn’t quite eighteen.

  Stevie Rae Johnson is Z’s bestie. She’s a true Oklahoma girl who loves country music and everything Okie. She was Marked before Zoey and welcomed her to the HoN as her roommate. Tragically, Stevie Rae’s body rejected the Change and she died—though she was reborn as one of the first red fledglings. Nyx gifts Stevie Rae with an affinity for earth. Her mate is Rephaim, a magickal being who is the son of Kalona (see below). Because of crimes against humanity he committed with his father, Nyx sentenced Rephaim to be a raven during the day and a boy after sunset. Though Rephaim’s love for Stevie Rae caused him to turn from Darkness and Nyx forgave him for his past, the goddess believes he must take responsibility for those mistakes. At the beginning of Loved, Stevie Rae and Rephaim are living at the Chicago HoN where she is High Priestess. With the rest of the Nerd Herd, she returns to Tulsa to celebrate Z’s eighteenth birthday.

  Aphrodite LaFont started the series as the mean girl in charge. She has visions of death and destruction given to her by Nyx, though she
was not using them in a manner that helped humanity. Her father was Tulsa’s mayor, killed in Revealed. Her mother is a nightmare. Throughout the series Aphrodite matures and grows and becomes one of Zoey’s closest allies and friends. She is a fledgling who sacrifices herself so that Stevie Rae and the red vampyres can maintain their humanity, and in doing so she loses her Mark, but becomes Nyx’s Prophetess. She is bonded with the vampyre Warrior, Darius, who is completely devoted to her.

  Damien Maslin is one of the Nerd Herd. He is studious, wise, kind, and very cute. Nyx gifts him with an affinity for air. His true love is Jack Twist, a fledgling who is tragically killed by Darkness. Damien is the first male to be appointed to the Vampyre High Council. He is in charge of the New York HoN, and with the rest of the Nerd Herd, he returns to Tulsa to celebrate Z’s birthday, though none of them realize that he has been struggling with depression since he was a child.

  Shaunee Cole is another member of the Nerd Herd. Her affinity is for fire. She is confident and smart—smart enough to understand that her friendship with another member of the Nerd Herd, Erin Bates (gifted with a water affinity), had become all-consuming and unhealthy. Sadly, Erin did not complete the Change and died during Revealed. Shaunee’s boyfriend is Erik Night, a vampyre who once dated Zoey and Aphrodite. She is High Priestess at the New Orleans HoN and she, too, (along with Erik) returns to Tulsa for Z’s birthday.

  Shaylin Ruede is not an original member of the Nerd Herd, but after she was Marked as a red fledgling and gifted with the ability to see auras, she also discovered she had an affinity for water, and she took Erin’s place in Zoey’s circle. Shaylin was blind before she was Marked, so she has a unique viewpoint and a special maturity. Her partner is Nicole, who is a red vampyre. Currently Shaylin and Nicole live at the San Francisco HoN—both come to Tulsa for Z’s birthday.

  Kramisha is the Vampyre Poet Laureate and also a Prophetess of Nyx. She receives prophecies in the form of poetry.

  Neferet was the High Priestess at the Tulsa HoN when Zoey was Marked. She was an especially powerful vampyre with abilities to see into people’s minds and to communicate with cats. She was born in the late eighteen hundreds in Chicago, where her father molested and abused her before she was Marked. Neferet chose revenge instead of healing, and that choice set her on a life path that led her into Darkness. Over the course of the HoN adventures, she revealed herself as a ruthless tyrant. She becomes an immortal Tsi Sgili witch and awakens Kalona, a fallen demigod who was once Nyx’s consort. Neferet is Zoey’s sworn enemy. Her greatest desire is to rule the world and make humans subservient to vampyres, which she would have accomplished if not for Zoey and her friends. Instead of being Goddess of the World, Neferet is entombed for eternity … or at least that’s what Zoey and the Nerd Herd hope.

  Kalona is a winged, fallen demigod. He and his brother, Erebus, were created to be friend and consort to the Goddess, Nyx. Erebus was Nyx’s friend—like a brother to her. Kalona was her true love and consort, but jealousy caused him to listen to the destructive whispers of Darkness and he betrayed his Goddess, choosing to Fall to Earth and be banished from Nyx’s realm rather than open himself to truth and trust. When Kalona fell he was filled with anger and hatred—for himself and for humanity. He spent eons committing crimes against humanity until Native American Wise Women finally created A-ya, a magickal maiden brought to life from the earth. A-ya’s only purpose was to love Kalona and to compel him to follow her within the earth where his powers were weak enough that the Cherokee Wise Women were able to trap him and free their people from his tyranny.

  Led by Darkness, from his prison within the earth, Kalona began whispering to Neferet so that she would fulfill the prophecy to release him. At first he was Neferet’s lover, pretending to be Erebus and intending to rule humanity at her side, but over the course of the HoN series Kalona found himself again and eventually gained the trust of Zoey and her friends. He was key in defeating Neferet, and was finally able to kneel before his true love, Nyx, and ask the Goddess for forgiveness, which she joyfully granted him. He now resides with Nyx and is her true love and consort.

  The White Bull and the Black Bull are living symbols of pure good and pure evil.

  The White Bull = Darkness

  The Black Bull = Light

  The White Bull was Neferet’s ally until she refused to be his consort, though it isn’t clear whether he has totally turned from her or not …

  As Loved opens it is almost one year since Neferet was defeated. Zoey and the Nerd Herd are fully Changed vampyres. They created the first North American Vampyre High Council, and then the group scattered to fulfill their assignments at other House of Night schools. It is almost Zoey’s eighteenth birthday. As a surprise for Zoey, Stark gathers all of the Nerd Herd to celebrate at the Tulsa House of Night, where Zoey is High Priestess.



  The dream started innocently enough. I mean, really, don’t most of them? One second you’re happily flying across the sky like Superman, and the next spiders are raining all around you while Yoda, Tim Gunn, and Beyoncé play strip poker in the middle of an episode of America’s Next Top Model as you keep score for them—naked.

  So when my dream-self realized I was back at Capri, standing in the rooftop garden of the ancient Vampyre High Council, looking out at a Mediterranean Sea illuminated so brilliantly by a full moon that it almost hurt my eyes, my subconscious didn’t scream, Nightmare! If it screamed at all it was something like, Ooooh, pretty, as my dream-self strolled over to the grove of potted orange trees in full bloom and waited for my imagination to conjure something awesome like a tea party (and by tea, I mean brown pop) with Zac Effron and Michelle Obama. It wasn’t until I heard his voice behind me that I began to wonder if something might be wonky.

  “It’s been a long time, Zoey Redbird.”

  I sighed and didn’t turn around. “I thought you were done creeping in people’s dreams.”

  “Creeping?” He chuckled softly. “Why must I be creeping? Can we not simply call this a visit? I thought we had become friends.”

  He joined me at the edge of the balcony and I glanced at him. “Friends wear shirts when they visit other friends—unless the dream visit is, well, a different kind of friendly.” Kalona started to speak, and I held up my hand. “And that’s a kind of friendly I thought you’d reserved only for Nyx.”

  “You misunderstand my intent. I simply thought you would enjoy the familiar scenery. We have been here before, Zoey. Remember?” He smiled at me with all the force of his ridiculous immortal gorgeousness and, even though I am absolutely not interested in anything even vaguely romantic with Kalona, there was no denying his beauty. But just because there was no denying it, that doesn’t mean I had to give in to what Grandma would call his shenanigans.

  I turned to face him, rolling my eyes so dramatically even Aphrodite would’ve approved. “Oh, yeah, I remember this place. This was where you snuck into my dreams and tried to get me to join you in one of your sneaky, sexy ‘let’s take over the world together’ plots.” I air quoted. “So that’s what this setting reminds me of.”

  The eternally charming smile slid from his face. “Perhaps I did misjudge the setting for this little conversation. And my clothing choice.”

  “Ya think?”

  He cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable, then with a snap of his fingers his muscular chest was covered in a simple black tee (that had slits for his amazing white wings). “Yes. And I apologize. Is that better?”

  “Absolutely,” I said. Noting how chagrined he looked, I added. “And I didn’t mean to be overly sensitive.”

  “Thank you.” He paused. “Would you be more comfortable if I changed this as well?” Kalona gestured at the incredible scene surrounding us.

  “No, never mind. It’s no biggie. Oh, and I do like your new white wings.” I studied them as I spoke. “But they’re really not white. They’re m
ore like the inside of an oyster shell—all sorts of pretty shades of light merged together to form white. They suit you better than the black ones.”

  He glanced behind him, as if he was shocked that the huge wings tucked against his broad back were no longer black. Then he met my eyes, his expression unreadable. “I appreciate the color change as well. White pleases me.”

  The silence stretched between us, becoming awkward until I finally broke it with a sigh and said, “Well? Why are you here?” When he just frowned and wouldn’t meet my eyes, I started to get worried. “Is Rephaim okay? Did something happen to Stevie Rae? I just talked to her yesterday. She said the Chicago House of Night was having some growing pains, but—”

  “They are fine. I apologize again. I don’t seem to be making myself clear.” He ran his hand through his thick hair. “In my mind this went much better.”

  “Look, whatever it is, just say it.”

  He drew a deep breath. “I believe danger is coming.”

  Ah, hell. “What kind of danger?”

  “I do not know. I can feel something stirring, though, and I had to warn you—no matter what Nyx says.”

  I felt a jolt of shock. “Nyx doesn’t know you’re talking to me?”

  “Not exactly.”

  “What the hell does ‘not exactly’ mean? And be exact,” I said.

  “The goddess has given me the freedom to visit the mortal realm whenever I wish,” Kalona said.

  “I need more exactness than that.”

  “I didn’t need to tell her I was going to speak with you because she already made it clear I could visit whenever I so desired.”

  “But you did tell her you felt danger coming to the House of Night?”

  “Yes. And when I could not be more specific, she didn’t believe worrying you was worth it,” Kalona said.