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Rat City was just a legend, until she fell face-first into it... Dalia deals in secrets and information. It guarantees her what equates to a charmed life among the ashes and ruin of Curr. But that alone isn't enough to save her from the culling that has slowly wiped out what is left of the city’s human population. Rat City is a myth, a legend leftover from a time of war, but for Dalia, it is her only saving grace. After a deal goes bad, Dalia is chased halfway across the city and into the arms of William Burke. After tending her wounds, he takes Dalia into his care and offers her a place in their underground society. When Burke and the city's patriarch fail to return from a simple scouting mission, Dalia insists on going along to find them. But life on the desert prairie is dangerous, and she has a secret of her own that could get her killed.
The hot water stung my arms and scraped knees and feet. I let the tears flow, convincing myself that they were because I was in pain and tried to ignore the ache in my chest where my heart had once been. How quickly Burke had turned against me at the word of his friend. I’d meant nothing to him, less than a plaything. How could I have ever imagined that in the few days we’d known each other he might see me as someone he could trust? I was just some novelty, something shiny and new and I’d lost that allure.
I collapsed on the floor of the shower and let the water wash my tears away. Why couldn’t water cleanse a broken heart and wash the bitterness away too? I was pitiful.
When I could, I dragged myself out of the shower and dressed. I needed something strong to clean my wounds and probably some bandages until the bleeding stopped.
Hamster waited outside when I opened the door. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, restless.
“There you are,” she gasped. “Everyone’s saying you were running around covered in blood.” She looked me over from head to toe. “What happened?”
“That’s not what I heard.”
“You believe everything you hear too?”
I walked away from her, too angry to have whatever conversation she wanted to have, and found my way down to the hospital room. I stopped in the doorway. Burke was there tending to Steve’s wounds. I grinned.
“Looks like you won,” Hamster said, her voice cold. It must have been going around today.
“If you’ll wait, I’ll clean those up for you,” Burke said.
“I don’t need your help,” I snapped. I rummaged through his medical things until I found antiseptic and some gauze to wrap my arms in while I slept so I wouldn’t make them worse.
“I’ll help you,” Hamster said softly.
Burke touched antiseptic to Steve’s nose, and he wasn’t gentle. Steve sucked in air through his teeth and growled.
Hamster poured antiseptic on a cloth and pressed it to my arm. Tears pricked the back of my eyes uncalled, but I refused to show any weakness. I glared at Steve and let him see.
I was stronger.
I was better.
I would survive.
Tyffani Clark Kemp might be the quietest person in the room, but that just means she's probably the biggest freak too. She is a multi-genre author with a gift for the written word and a desire to help all Indies reach their full potential. In 2012, she and her best friend Kimberly Fudge started SideStreet Cookie Publishing for authors who want to remain independent, but don't have the time or the knowledge to do it all themselves. From the age of eleven she dedicated her life to writing and making sure she was good at her craft. Now, she passes that knowledge on to others. Her friends would describe her as determined and giving. She may be quiet, but she always has a story to tell.