Wednesday, February 26, 2014

STEADFAST by Claudia Gray Chapter Two Reveal


Welcome the to the second day for STEADFAST by Claudia Gray Chapter Two Reveal. We are one of four stops for the Exclusive Chapter Reveal of STEADFAST by Claudia Gray. This is the second book to the Spellcasters series. I'm excited to reveal the second chapter today. If you missed the reveal yesterday, you can still Read it over at Mundie Moms.

STEADFAST by: Claudia Gray
Published by: Harper Teen
To Be Released on: March 4th, 2014
Series: Spellcaster #2




Nadia, Mateo, and Verlaine have saved Captive's Sound from the dark Sorceress Elizabeth...or so they thought. Despite their best efforts, a crack opened and a new, greater evil seeped through. With Mateo as her Steadfast, Nadia's magic is magnified and she is more powerful than ever. But there is still so much she doesn't know about the craft, leaving her open and vulnerable to a darker magic...which has begun to call Nadia's name.


You can pre-order STEADFAST at the following Retailers:
        


They all seemed so surprised to see her. Elizabeth would have assumed they understood the full dimensions of her power by now, but apparently not.
“You’re dead.” Mateo’s eyes narrowed; every word he spoke was rougher than the last. “You died in the carnival fire. You were trapped there; I saw you.”
“I saw you in the carnival fire, too,” Elizabeth pointed out. “You seem to be alive and well. Why not me? And Nadia also, I see.”
Important though Mateo had been to her in the past,Elizabeth had come here for one reason only. Nadia Caldani was the one who interested her now.
Nadia found her voice. “We stopped you. I know we did. Halloween was the only night you could have pulled it off. That means you failed.”
How naive they were. “Did you think my plan was to


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destroy Captive’s Sound? That was only collateral damage. You were clever to find a way around it, Nadia.”
And I remain alive to help the One Beneath on His great journey into the mortal realm, to bridge the gulf between His world and this one, not just for a moment, but for all time.
“The deaths of all those hundreds of people—maybe thousands—was only collateral damage?” Nadia’s expression was disbelieving, though Elizabeth wasn’t sure why. It hardly signified.
“I’m sincerely grateful.” Elizabeth saw no reason not to be honest. “You’re a gifted witch. But you’re untrained in the higher forms of the Craft, and without a teacher.”
Nadia’s head jerked back, as though she had been struck. Reminding her of her mother’s abandonment hit a nerve. Elizabeth continued, “You need someone to guide you as you complete your training. Without instruction, you’ll never fulfill your potential, which would be a crime. Don’t you agree?”
“It’s none of your business,” Mateo said, stepping between her and Nadia.
“It is,” Elizabeth said, “if I become her teacher.” The effect of this was what Elizabeth had anticipated: f lat disbelief. Several moments passed before Nadia managed to say, “You’re not serious.”
“Is it not one of the guiding principles of the Craft? To offer instruction and assistance to one another?”
“You’re not a member of the Craft—not any longer!” Nadia retorted. The bruises on her face must have hurt

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terribly; they made her anger look ugly, almost desperate. “You’re sworn to the One Beneath!”
“You mean I broke one of the First Laws?” Elizabeth cast a meaningful look at Mateo. “Like speaking of magic to a male?”
Nadia shook her head. “That’s different.”
“Is it? A coven wouldn’t think so. They’d throw both of us out, not just me. We’re outsiders together, you and I. You just haven’t realized it yet.” The wind pulled at Elizabeth’s curls, made her skin prickle into goose bumps beneath her thin cotton dress. Now that she was no longer immortal, she could feel the cold. It was a curious sensation, new enough not to be unwelcome despite the discomfort.
The world was fresh to her again. After centuries of boredom, Elizabeth found this an almost boundless delight.
“Think of it,” she said to Nadia. “I’ve lived longer than any other witch. I know magic nobody else can ever touch. I’m willing to teach you everything. What have you got to lose?”
“My soul, for one.” Nadia wrapped her arms around herself as she stepped closer to Mateo, who embraced her. “Serving the One Beneath is evil. I’ll never do that. Never.”
People who had never been immortal had some strange ideas about never. Elizabeth considered pointing this out, but at that moment, the gray-haired girl spoke.
“You destroyed my parents,” she said, voice trembling. “Even their bodies. That was all I had left.”
“Blame your friend for that,” Elizabeth replied. “I can’t have you undoing all my hard work.”
“This isn’t happening.” The gray-haired girl’s words were

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hardly more than a whisper, as though she lacked the breath to put any force behind them. And she was breathing fast— far too fast. “I’m not seeing you. This is a dream I’m having. A nightmare. That’s all. It isn’t real.”
Elizabeth cocked her head. “Why would you think nightmares aren’t real?” The girl fainted, collapsing on the ground, her gray hair stark against the dark earth.
“Verlaine!” Nadia immediately kneeled by Verlaine’s side, followed by Mateo. “What did you do to her?”
“Nothing. It’s the shock, I suppose.”
“Get away from us.” Mateo looked as though he wanted to get up and punch her in the face, as foolish as it would have been to try. “You’re pure evil.”
Elizabeth shrugged and left. As she walked away, she heard them trying to rouse their fallen friend, their words caught in the rustling of the autumn leaves. It didn’t matter what they were saying, just as it didn’t matter that Nadia had refused her. Elizabeth had anticipated no other answer to this first invitation.
But the One Beneath had seen Nadia. Valued her potential.
And what the One Beneath wanted would be His. Elizabeth would see to it.
“What the hell is Elizabeth doing alive?” Mateo said as he drove, occasionally glancing into the backseat, where Nadia had Verlaine’s head pillowed on her shoulder. “That should be impossible.”

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“Not impossible.” Nadia kept fanning Verlaine’s face; although Verlaine was awake now, she was in a sort of daze. I should have known she was too fragile for this! Nadia thought.
“Everything I thought Elizabeth was trying to achieve—that wasn’t even her plan. Just the shadow of her plan. Obviously I didn’t understand what she was up to at all.”
Mateo peered around again. “But you stopped her.”
“I stopped her from destroying the town. I didn’t stop her from doing whatever she actually wanted to do.” Her ignorance stung as badly as her failure. But Nadia refused to give in to it. Okay, fine, Elizabeth escaped this time. Not next time.
“So how do we figure out what she’s really up to?” Mateo said.
“I go through every resource I’ve got, starting tonight— and oh, my God, Mateo, look at the road! We nearly hit that truck.”
“Okay, okay.” Mateo turned to the front again. Nadia imagined driving Verlaine’s enormous clunker of a car was a far cry from steering his motorcycle around, and the last thing any of them needed was another accident.
Particularly Verlaine.
“Verlaine?” She patted the side of her friend’s face. “Are you okay?”
Wearily Verlaine nodded. “Sure. Fine. Except for the suicidal ideation, I’m dandy.”
“Don’t joke about that,” Mateo said. He sounded harsh; no doubt he meant to. His mother had killed herself while

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in the throes of the family curse.
“I’m sorry,” Verlaine said. “Really. I mean it. I just—seeing Elizabeth, and knowing she killed my parents—I wanted it to be a bad dream. I kept thinking if I wanted it enough I could just make her not be there. Which doesn’t make any sense, but my brain wasn’t exactly in good working order at the time. I’m not sure it is now, either. By the way, I might throw up.”
“It’s your car. Hurl away.” But Nadia scooted her legs away just in case.
Her mind raced the entire time they got Verlaine back to her dads’ house, apologized profusely for overtaxing her, and helped her uncle Gary get her tucked in. Nadia had hardly had a chance to catch her breath since the Halloween carnival, or any time to analyze what had happened there. It had never occurred to her that Elizabeth might have another agenda besides causing death and destruction.
She glanced over at Mateo as they walked away from Verlaine’s house. The two of them had saved countless people in town, even if nobody else ever knew it. That mattered more than anything else.
Their last victory had only been a partial victory. Fine. Nadia decided it was also only her first victory. One way or another, Elizabeth was going down.
“I want to go straight to Elizabeth’s house with an ax,”
Mateo confessed. “That’s a bad idea, right?”
“Very bad.” Nadia shuddered as she remembered the one time she’d broken into Elizabeth’s home. Elizabeth hadn’t

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been there; she hadn’t needed to be. Because her Book of Shadows was there—the spell book each witch created throughout her lifetime. With every spell added, a Book of Shadows would gain magical power until it could become a vital source of energy. Elizabeth had been around for about four centuries, which meant her Book of Shadows was so powerful it was nearly sentient. The book itself had trapped Nadia in cobwebs, attempting to keep her until Elizabeth could return to deal with her personally. Her skin began to itch as she remembered the spiders, and she swatted once at her jean legs. “Ax murder? Bad idea, the vast majority of the time.”
“Okay, fine, no ax murdering—but what are we doing? We can’t just let Elizabeth get away with it!” Mateo looked furious as he turned to her, but when their eyes met, his expression softened. He slid his arms around her waist and drew her near.
The touch surprised Nadia more than it should have. But they were still so new. She had to remind herself that he loved her back, and they actually had a chance to make this work. After everything they’d been through, this sense of possibility was completely unfamiliar. Something had gone right in her messed-up life, just this once. Love was dizzying, wonderful, even a little bit scary—
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Elizabeth makes me crazy.”
“Who could blame you?” Perhaps the cruelest part of
Elizabeth’s manipulations was the way she had convince Mateo that she was his best friend, even his only friend.

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He had loved Elizabeth like a sister until the moment he learned that every fond memory he had of them growing up together was false, a lie implanted to win his trust and make him easier to use. “Of course you hate her. You have the right. But we shouldn’t confront her until we know what we’re doing.”
“I know. I get that. It’s just hard to think about anything lse, you know?” Mateo brushed a lock of hair away from her forehead; though he was careful, and his touch soft, he came too close to one of her cuts. The sensitivity crackled across her nerve endings. Nadia sucked in a breath; Mateo’s eyes darkened and he brought her closer. “Hey, Dad’s at La Catrina for another couple hours. You want to come by the house?” His smile was teasing, warm, hopeful. “Give us both something else to think about?”
“I can’t. Dad and Cole’s f light got in a little while ago. They’ll be here within the hour.”
The thought of going back to Mateo’s for a while—lying in his arms, kissing her fears away—warmed her from the inside.
But right now Nadia wanted to see her father and brother even more. After all, when they’d left for New York the day before Halloween, she hadn’t known whether she would ever see them again.
When Mateo nodded and smiled, she knew he understood without her even having to explain. He whispered,
“Then give me a good-bye kiss.”
Their lips met gently at first, but then their mouths parted

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slightly and the warmth and taste of his mouth seemed to be the only thing in the world. Nadia leaned into his embrace, clutching him closer. The kiss deepened—but then a rush of cold wind raked across them, rattling tree branches and chilling them to the quick. Leaves swirled up around them so fast and thick that for a moment Nadia thought they were being rushed at by a f lock of birds. She and Mateo stepped back from each other in their surprise, then laughed at how weird that had been.
And I thought Chicago winters were bizarre, Nadia thought. Mateo kissed her again, sweet and swift. “Okay. Come on, let’s get you home.”
“We went to Chelsea Piers!” Cole said as he towed his little backpack upstairs, Nadia by his side. “We got to go wall climbing and ice skating both!”
“Awesome!” She ruff led his hair. “You had a good time, huh?”
“Definitely.”
Her father called from the hallway, where he was hefting the suitcase to his room. “Velma’s totally all right?”
He could never recall Verlaine’s name correctly. Dad wasn’t very absentminded; in fact, he was pretty sharp. Nadia wondered if his inability to remember his daughter’s best friend was part of the strange spell that surrounded Verlaine.
She said only, “Apparently Verlaine’s fine. The hospital says there’s no permanent damage. She’s still kind of weak, though.”

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“Well, thank goodness she woke up. Scary stuff.” He appeared in the doorway of Cole’s room, where Cole was “unpacking” by taking his stuff from his backpack and throwing it on the f loor.
Nadia thought her dad looked completely wrung out; a few straight days of handling Cole on your own could do that to you. She laughed. “Did you get a moment to yourself the whole time?”
“Oh. Well.” His face colored slightly. “Remember how the Paulsons moved to New York just before we moved here? I, ah, called Ethan’s mom while we were in town, so he and Cole could get together and play. Thought it would be fun for him to see one of his old friends, you know?”
Never pausing as the mess around him increased, Cole said, “We all went and got pizza.” Nadia wasn’t quite seeing the reason for her father’s awkwardness until, with a start, she remembered that Mrs. Paulson had been widowed a couple of years ago. “Wait. You went on a date?”
Dad gave her a look that clearly meant Not in front of Cole! but her baby brother was oblivious. In a low voice he said, 
“No, it wasn’t a date, but—once we got there, I realized Gretchen maybe thought it was, and . . . I think she felt rejected, and it kind of put a damper on the evening.” He frowned. “That’s too much information, isn’t it?”
“No,” Nadia replied in a small voice, though she profoundly wished she’d never heard a word of it. Okay, Dad hadn’t been MILF-hunting in New York, but how long



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would it be before he started dating?
Even though Mom was long gone, even though she’d made her desire for the divorce emphatically clear, Nadia couldn’t imagine seeing her father with someone else.
Obviously Dad had picked up on her mood, and blessedly changed the subject. “How was the Halloween carnival? You made it, right? Not snowed under by homework?”
“Oh, did you not hear?” Nadia had thought it might make the news, but that had been stupid of her. Like anywhere else in the whole world would pay attention to Captive’s Sound.
“The haunted house burned down.”
“What?”
“To the ground. Nobody knows what happened.” Which was putting it lightly. “There’s some big town meeting about it soon.”
Simon Caldani shook his head in disbelief. “Well, thank God we didn’t go. Wow. You were right about that being unsafe.”
“Mmm-hmmm.” Nadia nodded. Before they’d gotten home, she’d loosened her ponytail so that her thick, black hair fell around her face and hid the small cuts and bruises.
“Good thing Cole was nowhere near it.”
“At least nobody died,” Dad said as he went to stand by Cole and the pile of dirty clothes he’d created. “Hey, buddy, remember how we talked about the laundry hamper?”
She hugged herself as she turned away. Someone had died—not as a result of the carnival fire, but by Elizabeth’s hand. A guy from her class, Jeremy Prasad, had been murdered; Mateo had been there, enchanted by Elizabeth and

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unable to stop her. It was weird that she hadn’t heard any town gossip about it; even the somnolent newspaper, the Guardian, had roused itself enough to cover the haunted house disaster, but had reported nothing about the suspicious death of a seventeen-year-old.
Maybe the body hadn’t been found yet. They’d been on the beach; maybe Jeremy’s corpse had been carried away by the tides.
Nadia closed her eyes, overcome for a moment by the horror of it. She hadn’t liked Jeremy Prasad much. Nobody could. He’d been a snob, a sexist, and a bully. But in the end, he’d been cut down for no reason at all.
Mateo had said Elizabeth gouged out Jeremy’s eyes. Why the eyes? What magic is that a part of? Was it part of what she was really up to on Halloween, or something else?
She didn’t know, couldn’t guess. Once again she had to deal with the fact that she’d never completed her training— and with her mother gone, totally incommunicado, her chances to learn anything more about witchcraft were severely limited. The secrecy surrounding witchcraft meant she didn’t even know another adult witch who was willing to train her.
Except Elizabeth herself.
If I had one more chance to talk to Mom, what would I say? Ask her why she left? Bitch her out for abandoning us? Make her find me another teacher? Find out why she doesn’t love Dad anymore? Get her to explain Elizabeth’s real plan? Tell her Cole’s had nightmares ever since she walked away? I want to ask it all. I’ll never get to ask any of it.

23

Nadia rubbed her temples. Her head was starting to hurt.
But that night, once her dad and brother had fallen asleep, she crept up into her attic workspace. There, beneath her painted blue ceiling, fortified by a couple of Hershey’s Miniatures, Nadia began the work of scouring through her resources again. Right now that was just her Book of Shadows and one that had belonged to a Captive’s Sound witch from centuries before, Prudence Hale. Still, that gave her a place to begin.
Before Halloween, Nadia’s energies had naturally been devoted to stopping Elizabeth’s destruction of Captive’s Sound. She intended to change her focus; from now on, it was going to be all about stopping Elizabeth, period.
If only there were a spell to just de-magic another witch, or remove evil intent, or—but she stopped herself. The highest level of witching magic was spell creation; that was when a witch invented her own spells instead of relying on those handed down through the centuries. Most witches never ascended to those heights. Mom had said that only a couple of witches in a century mastered magic so completely.
(When she was little, Nadia had protested that if it could be done, then she should try to do it. Mom had laughed and told her to worry about that when she was big enough to brush her teeth without being reminded.)
There was no point in dreaming of something that could probably never be. Nadia needed to find a weapon against Elizabeth here and now.
And when she found that weapon, she intended to use it.

24

School had been canceled on Monday due to the carnival fire. It made no sense, but Nadia figured in Captive’s Sound, people made the most out of every bit of excitement they got. Now, though, Rodma High’s students had returned, and the rumors could really get going.
“So, I heard that some guys were smoking in there,” said
Kendall Bender as she walked down the hallway, holding court, trailed by rapt listeners. “And also, like, apparently they’re worried about arson, and maybe there was some faulty wiring, too. Plus some people said they saw lightning? Which, you know, it wasn’t raining, like, at all, but maybe it was heat lightning, if heat lightning can start fires.”
Well, at least people didn’t have any idea what was really going on.
What with all the chaos and chatter in the hallway, she found Mateo only a few moments before class began, and Verlaine just after that. Mateo held out his arm for Verlaine to take hold of, an old-fashioned gentleman’s move that made Nadia smile.
“I can’t believe I’m actually happy to see Rodman High,” Verlaine said. Today her clothes were from the 1940s—a dark brown skirt with a silky, red shirt that tied in a bow at the neck. “Maybe at this point I’m just glad for a little bit of normal, you know?”
They turned the corner—and nearly ran into Jeremy Prasad.
“Long time no see,” said the dead guy with a smile, before heading off to class.



Book Nerd Spotlight

Claudia Gray is a pseudonym. I would like to say that I chose another name so that no one would ever learn the links between my shadowy, dramatic past and the explosive secrets revealed through my characters. This would be a lie. In truth, I took a pseudonym simply because I thought it would be fun to choose my own name. (And it is.)

I write novels full-time, absolutely love it, and hope to be able to do this forever. My home is in New Orleans, is more than 100 years old, and is painted purple. In my free time I read, travel, hike, cook and listen to music. You can keep up with my latest releases, thoughts on writing and various pop-culture musings via 


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Chapter Reveal Schedule

Tuesday February 25th - Mundie Moms
Wednesday February 26th - HERE
Thursday February 27th - Two Chicks on Books
Friday February 28th - Novel Novice


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