The Lost PrinceBy: Julie Kagawa
Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.
That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.
Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.
My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.
My name is Ethan Chase.
And I doubt I’ll live to see my eighteenth birthday.
That’s not me being dramatic; it just is. I just wish I hadn’t pulled so many people into this mess. They shouldn’t have to suffer because of me. Especially…her. God, if I could take back anything in my life, I would never have shown her my world, the hidden world all around us. I knew better than to let her in. Once you see Them, they’ll never leave you alone. They’ll never let you go. Maybe if I’d been strong, she wouldn’t be here with me as our seconds tick away, waiting to die.
It all started the day I transferred to a new school. Again.
* * *
The alarm clock went off at 6:00 a.m., but I had been awake for an hour, getting ready for another day in my weird, screwed-up life. I wish I was one of those guys who roll out of bed, throw on a shirt and are ready to go, but sadly, my life isn’t that normal. For instance, today I’d filled the side pockets of my backpack with dried Saint-John’s-wort and stuffed a canister of salt in with my pens and notebook. I’d also driven three nails into the heels of the new boots Mom had bought me for the semester. I wore an iron cross on a chain beneath my shirt, and just last summer I’d gotten my ears pierced with metal studs. Originally, I’d gotten a lip ring and an eyebrow bar, too, but Dad had thrown a roof-shaking fit when I came home like that, and the studs were the only things I’d been allowed to keep.
Sighing, I spared a quick glance at myself in the mirror, making sure I looked as unapproachable as possible. Sometimes, I catch Mom looking at me sadly, as if she wonders where her little boy went. I used to have curly brown hair like Dad, until I took a pair of scissors and hacked it into jagged, uneven spikes. I used to have bright blue eyes like Mom and, apparently, like my sister. But over the years, my eyes have become darker, changing to a smoky-blue-gray—from constant glaring, Dad jokes. I never used to sleep with a knife under my mattress, salt around my windows, and a horseshoe over my door. I never used to be “brooding” and “hostile” and “impossible.” I used to smile more, and laugh. I rarely do any of that now.
I know Mom worries about me. Dad says it’s normal teenage rebellion, that I’m going through a “phase,” and that I’ll grow out of it. Sorry, Dad. But my life is far from normal. And I’m dealing with it the only way I know how.
“Ethan?” Mom’s voice drifted into the room from beyond the door, soft and hesitant. “It’s past six. Are you up?”
“I’m up.” I grabbed my backpack and swung it over my white shirt, which was inside out, the tag poking up from the collar. Another small quirk my parents have gotten used to. “I’ll be right out.”
Grabbing my keys, I left my room with that familiar sense of resignation and dread stealing over me. Okay, then. Let’s get this day over with.
I have a weird family.
You’d never know it by looking at us. We seem perfectly normal; a nice American family living in a nice suburban neighborhood, with nice clean streets and nice neighbors on either side. Ten years ago we lived in the swamps, raising pigs. Ten years ago we were poor, backwater folk, and we were happy. That was before we moved into the city, before we joined civilization again. My dad didn’t like it at first; he’d spent his whole life as a farmer. It was hard for him to adjust, but he did, eventually. Mom finally convinced him that we needed to be closer to people, that I needed to be closer to people, that the constant isolation was bad for me. That was what she told Dad, of course, but I knew the real reason. She was afraid. She was afraid of Them, that They would take me away again, that I would be kidnapped by faeries and taken into the Nevernever.
Yeah, I told you, my family is weird. And that’s not even the worst of it.
Somewhere out there, I have a sister. A half sister I haven’t seen in years, and not because she’s busy or married or across the ocean in some other country.
No, it’s because she’s a queen. A faery queen, one of Them, and she can’t ever come home.
Tell me that’s not messed up.
Of course, I can’t ever tell anyone. To normal humans, the fey world is hidden—glamoured and invisible. Most people wouldn’t see a goblin if it sauntered up and bit them on the nose. There are very few mortals cursed with the Sight, who can see faeries lurking in dark corners and under beds. Who know that the creepy feeling of being watched isn’t just their imagination, and that the noises in the cellar or the attic aren’t really the house settling.