Rose TintedShannen Crane Camp
The Sugar coated trilogy
by shannen crane camp
Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing, LLC.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, duplicated, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Text Copyright © 2014 Shannen Crane Camp
All rights reserved
Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious and are products of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual events, or locales or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental.
Edited by Elizabeth A. Lance
For Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Cover by Rue Volley
Formatting by: SK Whiteside
For The Husband (as per usual). And for Ashlee Wille, who stormed out of the office after reading this book. Thank you for that priceless reaction. And sorry for what I did in that chapter. It was unkind. But not personal… I swear…
Also by Shannen Crane Camp
The Breakup Artist
Finding June (The June Series #1)
Chasing June (The June Series #2)
Sugar Coated (The Sugar Coated Trilogy #1)
Chapter 1: Indulgence
Brynn leaned disinterestedly against the wall of a crowded black room, feeling like an infiltrator amongst the ranks of the inebriated and slow of judgment. Bright lights illuminated the space that had been dark only moments before, creating the same effect as a camera flash in a pitch black room. For that one second of illumination, everyone seemed frozen in time, laughing, flirting, drinking, or dancing and totally oblivious to the girl whose blue eyes flew across their faces, searching for someone she had lost only weeks before. When one of the club goers leaning against the bar happened to meet her gaze, she looked down guiltily, fingers playing with her short electric blue wig, feeling as if she had given herself and Ty away simply by existing. She glanced quickly back up to see that the tall, lanky girl with long fiery red hair was no longer staring at her and Brynn took that as her cue to stop being so paranoid.
Living off the grid the past two weeks had been anything but simple for her and Ty. Though it was easy enough to spot a Worker a mile away between their violet eyes and unnatural movement, Brynn had developed a deep sense of paranoia. Anyone who made eye contact with her that wasn’t Ty was an instant threat; a spy for the Angels. More than once Ty had been forced to take Brynn into an alley away from the public eye to give her a pep talk while she hyperventilated over what new plot Eris was coming up with to torture Jonah.
All it took was one simple flashback to the impossibly strong woman from her nightmares breaking her arm with one hand to remind her to lay low and not cause a scene. This didn’t seem to be a problem in her current position, surrounded by the intoxicated residents of Eastern Metropolis in a loud club where she felt miles away from where she wanted to be.
Brynn’s childhood hadn’t included any visits to Eastern Metropolis, though she was beginning to suspect there was a reason for her parent’s reluctance to take her there. The city made Seaside seem small and quaint with its constant commotion, extreme fashion trends, and insistence that if something was going to be done, it should be done loudly. It was a far cry from the life she was used to, but so was breaking into hotel storage rooms and living comfort free. Brynn hadn’t had the luxury of speaking to her house Charlie since she’d left on her last trip to Central Wildwood, which had resulted in the loss of Jonah, and her and Ty’s reduction to wanted nomads.
Remembering her home clear on the other side of the world (or the continent of Halcyon, as she had to keep reminding herself) gave Brynn a moment of sadness, reminding her just how cut off she was at the moment. She and Ty had managed to get into contact with their friends Amber and Bennett to obtain medicine and supplies from the city, but any hope of returning there had been dashed when she had escaped from the facility of A1 where the truth about the purpose of her continent had been discovered; though the fact that Ty had tried to kill Eris, the woman in charge of everything, probably hadn’t helped their situation much.
Now, as she stood in the dark room, tying to look as if the current scene was typical and boring to her, she wondered where Eris was. She still couldn’t believe that these inhuman beings who were capable of creating and populating a society, wouldn’t be able to find her and Ty as they broke into hotels and moved from place to place. They were trying to be secretive but failing miserably, and yet no one had come after them yet. Still, that hadn’t stopped Brynn from trying to disguise herself in public.
Tonight, she wore thick black eyeliner that flared up on the sides to give her cat eyes, and nude lipstick to keep her full lips from sticking out so much in a world where physical traits were so closely monitored. Though Brynn was grateful for her odd physical extreme, she sometimes wished that the unwitting gift from Rachel, her DNA donor and former colleague of Eris, didn’t make fitting in so difficult. The inhabitants of Halcyon weren’t supposed to have any genuine human tissue in them. Brynn had been the exception and at the moment, it didn’t seem to be doing her any favors.
“Do you see him anywhere?” Ty’s familiar voice said.
Brynn involuntarily brought her hand up to the earpiece she wore, hoping it wasn’t obvious to the people surrounding her that someone was talking quite loudly into her ear. She couldn’t blame Ty, really. It was so loud in the club that he would have to shout for her to make anything out. She tilted her head slightly so that the pin on her strapless, knee-length, navy blue sequins dress would pick up her speech.
“I can’t see anything in this place,” she complained, trying to look like she wasn’t talking to herself in the crowded club. “Every time my eyes adjust to the darkness they flash those stupid overhead lights again.”
“Yeah there’s a reason we don’t live in Eastern Metropolis,” Ty agreed in her ear. “We’re not cut out for this level of crazy.”
“Drink?” said a stocky looking man who had just arrived beside Brynn.
She brought her hand to her ear self-consciously, hoping he hadn’t seen her talking to herself.
“What?” she asked, not sure she had heard him correctly and searching the room for Ty.
“Can I get you a drink?” he asked again, grinning at her in a charming way.
With his short bright purple hair and fingernails, Brynn normally would have turned him down instantly. But something about this boy caught her eye and sent a chill down her spine. His purple eyes.
“Your eyes are beautiful,” she lied, feeling that he was too clumsy to be one of her elegant Angels. “Is that your natural color?” she probed, wondering how the boy had imitated the Angel’s purple eyes so perfectly.
For a moment the man searched her face in a puzzled way. She couldn’t tell if he was trying to figure out if she was serious, or deciding if she was pretty enough to go through the trouble of answering her. Whatever the battle, Brynn must have won because he said, “They’re contacts.”
“Contacts,” she repeated.
People in Seaside hadn’t been big into colored contacts, though Brynn had heard of them before. Seaside had always seemed extreme in its trends to her but after spending only days in Eastern Metropolis, she was beginning to regret ever thinki
ng anything bad about the residents in her home town. At least they’d stopped at fake eyelashes and dyed hair. Eastern Metropolis seemed to be exceedingly fond of the more extreme fashion choices of Seaside with the addition of colored contacts, facial tattoos, and odd body art that Ty had described as scarification.
“So how about that drink?” the boy asked her again, his eyes staring at her large lips that she had apparently failed at hiding with makeup.
“Um,” Brynn managed, not quite sure what excuse she should give this faux Angel.
“Tell him you have to run to the bathroom and take care of some girl business,” Ty said in her ear with a laugh, trying to keep his voice down so that the boy wouldn’t hear him. “No faster way to get rid of a guy,” he promised.
Brynn tried to keep her face neutral, even as she wanted to tell Ty to get out of her head and let her make up her own excuse. Having him giving her advice while she tried to formulate a sentence was far too confusing in the already loud club.
“Sorry I’m actually meeting someone,” she said, hoping with all of her heart that what she said was true.
“Next time,” the purple haired boy said, winking at her the way Jonah used to and walking away.
“I liked my line better,” Ty informed her.
“Where are you?” she asked him, searching the darkened faces just as the overhead lights came on in the club for just a moment, instantly blinding Brynn. “I seriously hate those lights.”
“I think it’s supposed to be disorienting,” Ty said thoughtfully.
“Well it’s working. Now where are you?” she asked again, still unable to locate her friend amidst the crowd of dancing people in the deafening room.
“I’m near the entrance. Don’t worry about me. Just focus on finding Jonah,” he instructed her, sounding as intent on finding their friend as Brynn was.
Only two weeks before, Brynn and Ty had waited under a tree in the forest of Central Wildwood just as Jonah had instructed. After hours of silent anticipation, Brynn began to suspect her friend wasn’t coming.
“Maybe he got the dates mixed up,” Ty had suggested, trying to reassure her as they’d waited, though they both knew what had happened. In the same message that Jonah used to tell them where to meet, his tablet had been knocked out of his hand by an unknown threat, sending it crashing into the wall and short circuiting his entire message. The second his screen went dark Brynn formulated every possible worst case scenario. She hadn’t really expected him to meet them at the tree that day, though she still held on to some small sliver of hope that her friend was alive.
As she and Ty were preparing to leave their meeting spot that day, Brynn climbed up the tree in a last ditch effort to look out over the city of Central Wildwood, hoping for some sign of Jonah. What she got was much more than she hoped for. Stuck into the deep grooves of the bark, high up in the tree, she’d found a piece of paper with Jonah’s untidy scrawl. The paper only contained three sentence fragments reading, Eastern Metropolis. Two weeks. Indulgence.
Though the note made absolutely no sense to either her or Ty, its implications were clear; Jonah was still alive, even if he was inexplicably unable to meet them at their spot. The first two sentences were simple enough for them to follow: meet in Eastern Metropolis in two weeks. The word Indulgence had been the really tricky part to figure out. The entire twelve hour train ride spent hiding in the train bathroom hadn’t offered any illumination on the subject and it wasn’t until arriving in the vast sprawling city of Eastern Metropolis that the note made any sense at all.
Wandering through the crowded and noisy streets of the city, Ty and Brynn had felt insignificant and unimportant. It was the perfect place for them to hide out; a pair of nameless, faceless people in the overcrowded city of Eastern Metropolis. It wasn’t until their third day of exploration that they found a club with glittering letters reading Indulgence, that they began to have some hope that they’d actually be able to find Jonah.
In Seaside none of the rec buildings, restaurants, or stores had names and seeing titled buildings in Eastern Metropolis had thrown Brynn for a loop. Now as she was slowly making her way through the crowded club called Indulgence she was grateful for the odd little trait.
“Where are you going?” Ty asked in her ear, watching her weave in and out of the crowd from some unseen place near the entrance.
“I can’t stand it in here anymore,” Brynn said in frustration, trying to ignore the noise and flashing lights as she walked.
Though she knew her expectations were unrealistic, she had thought that she and Ty would walk into the club, sit at the bar for a few minutes, then find Jonah standing nearby as if nothing had ever happened. Now after three hours without so much as a glimpse of the boy she’d lost back in A1 she was beginning to feel dizzy with the possibility of what had happened to him.
“Brynn, you can’t just leave,” Ty said reasonably. “He might still be coming.”
“He’s not coming, Ty,” she countered angrily. “Either he left us another stupid note somewhere in here or he’s dead because Eris got a hold of him.” She tried to sound tough as she spoke her fears aloud but her voice cracked on the end of her sentence, giving her away.
She quickly wiped away a tear that slid down her cheek, staining her fingers black as her eyeliner ran. She had spent every waking moment imagining exactly what they had done to Jonah to make him look the way he did on the video message he’d sent them. The image of his face smeared with blood was burned into Brynn’s memory.
“You missed a spot,” someone said beside her in the throng of dancing club goers.
A warm hand wiped away a stray tear under her eye, causing her to recoil instantly at the unwelcome touch of another drunk bar hopper hitting on her.
“Calm down, I don’t look that bad do I?” Jonah asked, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her easily into a dance.
Brynn stared in disbelief at the boy in front of her. Besides an angry red scar on his left cheekbone he looked exactly the same as the day she’d stared at him through the bookshelves in the library back in Seaside: short black hair, blue eyes, tan skin, and a cheeky smile.
“You’re alive,” she whispered, though her words died instantly on the constant noise of the club.
“Didn’t think you’d get rid of me just by leading me into the den of some crazy murderous Workers did you?” he asked, one eyebrow raised with his ever present half smile. “Which, by the way, you owe me a rain check on a promised kiss if I remember correctly,” he reminded her, still grinning.
“Please let him know I can hear every word he says,” Ty said in Brynn’s ear, sounding like he was halfway between joy at Jonah’s safe return and fury that the first thing he’d done since coming back into the picture was hit on Brynn.
“Ty wants me to tell you he can hear you,” Brynn said as a look of confusion passed over Jonah’s handsome features. Brynn tapped the microphone on her dress and wrinkled her nose at her friend.
Wordlessly Jonah pulled Brynn in close to him, leaning so that his cheek was pressed against hers and sending chills throughout her entire body.
“Nice to see you’re still as responsible as ever you killjoy,” he said in the direction of the microphone. “Nice hair by the way,” he added to Brynn who had almost forgotten about the short electric blue wig she had worn in an attempt to fit in with the residents of Eastern Metropolis.
“Why does he make it so hard to like him?” Ty asked Brynn.
“I think he’s doing an excellent job,” Brynn admitted with a laugh, feeling giddy at seeing her friend again.
“What’s he saying to you?” Jonah asked, suspiciously. “Probably singing my praises I’d imagine.”
“He was,” she lied, pulling her friend into a tight hug and abandoning the charade of dancing. “I was so worried about you,” she whispered to him, closing her eyes and letting her fear and stress over her friend melt away.
“You know, you still smell like sugar. It must jus
t be your natural scent,” he replied.
Releasing him and returning to their dancing position, she asked the question that had been playing over and over in her head for two weeks.
“What happened to you?”
Jonah’s lips parted minutely but he remained silent; thinking as usual. Brynn couldn’t remember a time when she’d asked Jonah a single question that he’d answered right away. He was a thinker if nothing else.
“Not here,” he finally said over the din. “We need to go somewhere more private.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Ty said in Brynn’s ear, startling her for a moment as she had almost forgotten he was listening.
It was a little more than confusing having both boys instructing her at the same time.
“Let’s go,” Jonah said as he took Brynn by the hand and led her easily through the crowds of people to the exit where Ty leaned nonchalantly against the wall with his arms folded across his chest.
His blonde hair was tinted green as part of his disguise and he wore black eyeliner, accenting his already almond shaped brown eyes.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?” Jonah remarked as he walked past Ty, leading the group out the front door of the club and through the noisy streets of Eastern Metropolis.
Even though it was nearly two in the morning, the city was alive with interesting sights and sounds at every turn.
“Yeah, I missed you too buddy,” Ty answered with a big fake smile.
Brynn shook her head at the boys. She knew they weren’t exactly crazy about each other but since each of them thought they were the best person to help Brynn with her obsession, they were stuck together. It amused her to see the way they pretended to hate each other more than they actually did. At the very worst, they shared a mutual annoyance with each other.