Earthbound

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike, comes Earthbound. A heart-stopping romance built on a love triangle like you’ve never seen before and filled with epic stakes and a centuries-long conspiracy.

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1. Chapter One

Iremember the plane going down. Not the crash exactly, but the moments before—and while it must have been only moments, when I look back, it takes much longer.

I was sitting with my forehead pressed against the tiny window, look- ing through the cloudless air at farms and settlements passing below me, when the engine exploded, rocking the plane into a crazy tilt that tossed me back and forth in my seat. The actual blast was surprisingly quiet— muffled by the insulated fuselage, I imagine—but the billowing clouds of coal-black smoke pouring off the wing were impossible to miss.

Every nerve in my body clanged, but my eyes stayed riveted to the roil- ing smoke that streamed back from the engine just feet from my window. My aching fingers clung to the armrests to hold myself steady as the plane dipped forward, then plunged, the momentum forcing me against my seat.

The pop and hiss of hundreds of oxygen masks, springing from the ceiling like venomous snakes, startled my attention away from the smoking wing. Reflexes honed by dozens of droning safety speeches sent hands darting out to grab the oxygen masks, the adults securing their ownmasks before assisting others.

But I didn't bother with mine.

Not even when my mother pushed it at me, her eyes dancing with terror as she gripped my father's arm so tightly I knew her fingernails must be drawing blood.

It was the flight attendant who made me understand. Two of them were standing in the aisle, trying to get everyone's attention, demon- strating the crash position—like that was going to help. But I focused on the third one. He wasn't attempting to buckle up or help the passengers; he just stood, his body strangely still amid the chaos, looking out the window, two tears rolling down his cheeks.

That's when I knew we were all about to die.

And in that moment, my fear melted away and I felt completely at peace. No life flashing before my eyes or sudden aching regrets. Just an overwhelming peace.

I relaxed, stopped struggling, and watched out the window as the ground rushed up to swallow me.

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I stare at the photos in horror. It has to be true; there's no other explanation.

The timing couldn't be better. Or worse.

"She's gone?" I ask in my iciest voice. I'm not mad at him; I'm mad at myself for not seeing it sooner. I should have. Everything balances on a knife's edge and this could destroy it all.

Or save it.

"We're doing everything we can." He's nattering on about their efforts, but I don't have the patience to listen. I walk over to the window, arms crossed over my chest, staring down at the lush garden below, seeing nothing.

Not nothing. Seeing her face. That face I've known since almost before I can remember my own. That face I thought I was finally free of.

Except now I can never be free. I need her. We need her. It's difficult not to choke on the bitter irony that after everything she's done, I need her. Without her, everything will fall to pieces.

Worse than it has already. And I almost killed her.

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