Truth. Lies. Choice

The sondaleur‘s journey continues in the emotional, action-packed second book of the Ondine Quartet.
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ABOUT THE BOOK

It has been six months since ondine Kendra Irisavie arrived in Haverleau, the hidden capital of the water elemental world.

Six months since she discovered her destiny as the sondaleur and a series of devastating events left behind their mark.

Now, as she enters the chevalier elite program in her final year at Lumiere Academy, Kendra continues forward on her prophesied journey against the Shadow. Obsessed with what she must do to keep those around her safe, she struggles to balance her powerful magic and the demands of her fate with the challenges of friendship, the complications of romance, and the bonds of family.

Meanwhile, the threat of the Shadow looms larger. Kendra and her friends investigate a series of puzzling human and elemental disappearances in the city of Lyondale and uncover a horrifying tactic used by the Aquidae in the war.

When danger strikes close to home, Kendra must separate the truths from the lies and choose who and what to believe.

Even if it means facing what she fears the most.

INFORMATION

  • Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
  • Series: Ondine Quartet
  • Series Order: Book 2
  • Length: Novel
  • Available formats: Digital and print
  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • ISBN: 9780984022557 (.mobi) / 9780984022564 (epub) / 9780984022588 (paperback)
TRAILER
EXCERPT
Read Prologue & Chapter 1

PROLOGUE

Blackness closed in.

Thick and viscous, the oppressive horror coated every pore.

A scream built.

No air. No sound. No sight.

Just the choking absence of everything.

I pushed. Something was there. I could feel it.

But the more I shoved, the stronger the monstrosity became.

I wildly clawed at the space in front of me, trying to fight through.

The suffocating pressure grew, seeping deep under skin.

Tightening. Squeezing.

Cold terror pounded.

I had to see. I needed to see…

I awoke with a start.

Heart hammered, the echo of a scream clogging my throat.

It was always the same. Night after night for months.

The devouring blackness that only left crushing panic and desperation.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t break through it. Couldn’t see behind it.

Waves of nausea rocked my stomach and breaths continued to come in short, harsh spurts.

Shuddering, I wondered when that darkness would finally swallow me whole.

CHAPTER 1

Weak rays of late afternoon sun filtered through the windows.

“Do you want it?”

I tossed my hair back. “Of course I want it.”

“We could do the same thing we did last time.”

“Why don’t you let me have it?”

He shook his head. “Doesn’t work that way.”

“You really want to do this?”

His mouth curved. “Don’t you trust yourself?”

I raised my brow. “Of course I do.”

“Then let’s do it.” The lilt of his voice was persuasive.

We had a little bit of time left. It was too tempting.

“Fine.”

Hands readied. Eyes focused.

One, two…

Fingers flashed. I extended mine straight out with paper. Two of his fingers shot out.

Scissors beat paper.

“Best two out of three.”

Amusement flickered over his face. “Of course.”

One, two…

This time, I brandished scissors. He had paper.

Tied score. I concentrated.

One, two…

Fist shot out in rock. Smashing his scissors.

“All mine,” I said smugly.

I grabbed the delicate pastry and made a show of taking a big, satisfying bite. The cream chocolate was absolute heaven.

Julian LeVeq lazily stretched and ran a hand through his short, black hair. “I’ve got to get better at this rock, paper, scissors game.”

I swallowed. “Don’t be a sore loser.”

The rich aroma of coffee, luscious sauces, and freshly baked goods saturated the air, adding to the homey warmth of the cafe.

I happily ate the last éclair, savoring the sweet taste of dessert and victory.

“Went to a famous bakery in Seattle last month.” He took a sip of coffee. “Their stuff couldn’t hold a candle to Stan’s.”

“Why were you in Seattle?”

He winked. “Not going to happen, sweet iris.”

I scowled.

As First Lieutenant in the chevaliers, Julian was investigating the identity of the Shadow. The elusive figure created and led the Aquidae, a race of demons water elementals waged war against for centuries.

Julian often disappeared for days at a time and occasionally let slip he’d travelled to other cities.

But no matter what I did to wheedle information out of him, he wouldn’t share any details.

“You know I’ll eventually find out.”

Striking dark blue eyes gleamed with skepticism. “Sure you will.”

I couldn’t wait to wipe that smirk off his face.

Anxiety rattled and I took another bite to still jumpy nerves.

“This is total perfection,” I called out.

Stan Molyneux, burly owner of Cafe Rivière, came to our table. A stained white tea towel hung over his shoulder and a large belly pushed down the half-apron around his waist.

“You say that every time you’re in here.”

“You love when I say it.”

He grinned. “Been doing this forty years and I don’t get tired of hearing it. But I am tired of running this place day in and day out.”

He always complained about the same thing.

“What would we do if you retired?” I wiped my sticky fingers on a napkin. “Haverleau wouldn’t function. And you wouldn’t last a day without your hands itching to cook something.”

“You kids are too young to understand. Would’ve retired long ago if I’d found someone to take over.”

A widower, Stan had no family and the small, quaint cafe took up his life. He’d built it into one of the most popular establishments in Haverleau.

“You worry too much,” Julian said. “Enjoy yourself. Get away from all this.”

Stan sighed. “If only it were so easy.”

“Life goes on out there.” Julian gestured toward the sky. “Among humans in the world outside.”

I frowned. “You want him to go Rogue?”

“Better than being locked up here and going through the motions.”

“But it’s not safe —”

“It’s never safe, darling.” Everything out of his mouth sounded suggestive.

I crossed my arms. “You want him to risk his life?”

“He shouldn’t put his life on hold until the war ends. Who knows when that’ll be?”

I glowered. As the prophesied sondaleur, I was supposed to bring down the Shadow and end the war.

I took the comment rather personally.

“All right, you two. That’s enough.” Stan’s brow furrowed. “Doesn’t the selection announcement start soon?”

Julian glanced at his watch. “We better go.”

Winter had swiftly arrived in northern Washington. Icy wind whipped against my skin in sharp bites as we headed back.

Shivering, I wished I could wear a scarf.

But after the discovery that Miriam Moreaux lived in Haverleau for months as an Aquidae, the Governing Council passed an ordinance prohibiting any clothing that covered up our necks and a possible Origin scar.

Julian buttoned his grey cashmere coat. “How was your first Thanksgiving at the Governing House?”

“Grandmother was in full, frozen glory.”

“I’m surprised it went off without incident.”

“Yeah, well.” I kicked a leaf on the ground. “There might’ve been a little something during the soup course.”

Rhian had brought up my failing grades in Elemental History. I’d vehemently objected to her assessment and it hadn’t gone over so well.

Julian laughed and the rich, warm sound sent a pleasant vibration through me.

“What about you?”

“The usual. Mother and father sitting in icy silence.” Bitterness crept into his voice. “I almost choked on the amount of disapproval in the air.”

Marquisa LeVeq had a real problem with her only Redavi son being a chevalier. And I had a big problem with her.

Empath Virtue reached out. Heated magic coursed through my veins, brushing the threads of emotions inside him.

Anger. Frustration. A trace amount of sadness.

“Stop that,” he said, irritated.

Only the shapeshifting selkies and magical dessondines could sense the use of my magic.

Julian was a demillir, a half-human, half-ondine male. He shouldn’t have felt it.

“How’d you know I was using it?”

“The look on your face.”

Those eyes really didn’t miss much.

“You shouldn’t rely on it, anyway.” Julian raised his brow. “You can figure things out without it.”

Since I learned to fully tap into the source of my Virtue, I was able to use it on elementals.

If I’d only been stronger six months ago…

Dark memories threatened to rise and I shoved them back.

I reeled in the magic. “Just keeping tabs on things.”

“Don’t worry about me.” His expression smoothed and he slipped back to his usual charm. “I can handle my family.”

“Who said I was worried?”

“Right,” he drawled. “’Cause I’m the guy you don’t like.”

Julian had become a bit more than my trainer, but I wouldn’t call him a friend. I was being very careful about that.

“Maybe you’ve become a little less irritating.” I brought my thumb and forefinger together, leaving a hairline of space between them. “But don’t start getting any ideas.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

We turned east and Lumière Academy’s grand stately buildings came into view at the top of a small hill. Surrounding gardens and woods were now bare and colorless. Stark tree limbs extended like mournful arms, embracing the complex with a haunted loneliness.

“When’s your next mission?”

“I’m leaving right after the ceremony.” A troubled look flitted through his eyes. “There’s something I want to follow up on.”

Envy trickled. Julian was doing my job.

I was the sondaleur. I was supposed to hunt the Shadow down. How could I fulfill the prophecy when I was stuck in Haverleau?

“I can’t wait until this is over.”

It wasn’t just the selection process. I couldn’t wait until I was inducted and had a chance to do something. Anything.

“It’s kind of a big day for me, too.” He almost seemed hesitant. “You’re the first recruit I trained. When you get into the elite track —”

“You mean if I get into the elite track.”

“No. When you get into the elite track, you’ll train with the gardinels.” There was a wistful note to his answer.

I halted and he glanced back at me.

“Are you —“ I couldn’t believe I was going to say this. “Are you actually going to miss me?”

A wicked grin spread on his face. “Since you haven’t beaten me yet, darling, it’s more like I’ll miss kicking your ass.”

Damn it. Walked right into that one.

Laughing at my expression, he gently pushed me forward. “Come on. That high-strung gardinel of yours is probably freaking out.”

We crossed the Quad and the edgy anxiety heightened.

“You ready?”

Cam Martin, a fellow recruit, caught up with us as we neared the Training Center. The immense concrete structure loomed, more intimidating than usual.

“Are you?” I shot back.

“Please. I got this covered.”

Whatever. His hazel eyes, flecked with green, were tense.

I kept my response cool. “So do I.”

Hardcore bullshit was the theme of the day.

Recruits, underclassmen, gardinels, and chevaliers milled about the Training Center’s main hallway.

Ewan Vellucar, a selkie gardinel assigned to me for the past six months, caught my eye and headed over.

Tufts of short, brown hair stood from his head as if he’d run his hands through it. Tension lined his face and amber eyes gleamed with worry.

“See, Vellucar?” Julian’s tone was mocking. “I brought her back safe and sound.”

“That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“Are you saying I can’t protect her?”

“Prince Belicoux assigned me to —”

That did it.

“I don’t need babysitters arguing over who gets to watch me.”

“I wouldn’t exactly calling it babysitting,” Julian mused. “But I guess feeding you would count as —”

“Shut up, LeVeq.” I waved a hand in the air. “Don’t you guys have to get a good seat or something?”

Ewan crossed his arms and gave us a very officious look. “Good luck to both of you.”

It sounded supremely pompous. I felt a hysterical urge to laugh.

Julian’s breath brushed against my hair. “You won’t need it because I trained you.”

Smartass.

They moved into the crowd. Cam and I hung back with the unspoken agreement of avoiding the room until the last minute.

“Where were you?”

“Julian thought I’d feel better if I ate something before the ceremony.”

Now that my stomach was doing somersaults, I was beginning to regret it.

Cam groaned. “You went to Rivière?”

“Yeah.”

“You didn’t bring back any of Stan’s éclairs?”

“I told Chloe you two should join us,” I informed him. “Didn’t she tell you?”

Chloe Moreaux started going out with Cam in the spring and they were usually glued together.

“No, she didn’t.”

The resentment in his tone surprised me. “What’s up?”

He shoved hands into his pockets and wouldn’t meet my gaze. “Let’s just get this over with.”

I didn’t press further. I knew better than anyone when someone wanted to be left alone.

We navigated through the crowded hallway, underclassmen and a few of the chevaliers wishing us luck as we passed. With each greeting, the knot in my stomach tightened.

Mind-numbing sounds of drilling and hammering vibrated near the east stairwell. The Training Center had been renovating the basement for months.

“Aren’t they done yet?” I muttered. The noise grated more than usual.

“Gabe said they’d finish in the next couple weeks.”

Alex Girard waited near the stairs with a perfectly serene expression. He had to be the mellowest recruit in the building.

His usual messy ponytail was tied back a little more neatly today. He made up for it with a bright fluorescent orange sweatshirt that said, “Too Hot for Your Eyes.”

I eyed his outfit. “Really?”

He gave a lazy grin. “Made you look.”

Cam snickered. Boys.

“It’s my lucky sweatshirt,” Alex said as we made our way to the second floor. “Makes me feel confident.”

He grabbed the handles of the double doors. “Ready for this?”

Cam and I exchanged nervous glances.

I took a deep breath. “Let’s go.”

Taking up half the second level of the Training Center, the gym was specifically used for elites. Rows of bleachers lined two walls and mats seamlessly covered most of the wood floor.

Ewan and twenty school gardinels stood on a makeshift stage. Gabriel Renard, Head Chevalier and my uncle, conversed with a few of them.

We joined the other recruits in our class.

“Big audience,” Cam murmured.

Hundreds of people sat in the bleachers.

My pulse jumped. “Yeah.”

Every November 30th, the selection process decided who would progress into the elite program with the gardinels. Considered the best, those recruits trained to become commanding officers in the chevaliers. Those not selected served in the main body of the chevalier corps.

There were forty recruits in our class. Only five would be chosen.

We stood at attention, hands clasped behind our backs. Sweaty palms slid against each other and I wished I could inconspicuously wipe them on my pants.

Gabriel stepped forward. The gardinels behind him looked like a row of imposing stone statues.

“Welcome to the annual selection of chevalier elites,” his low bass voice rumbled.

A white, long-sleeved shirt emphasized Gabe’s dark chocolate skin and broad, muscular build. Paired with olive green khakis, his attire seemed formal compared to the workout clothes he normally wore.

“Selection to the elite program is a great honor and responsibility. The decisions you make and the leadership you show is weighted with the lives of your friends and comrades.”

Cam stiffened. We were missing someone in this line. His best friend and my first friend at Lumière, Ryder DePaul.

A dull ache twisted in my stomach and it wasn’t from nerves.

Gabe continued. “Those who enter the elite ranks join a program of esteemed and well-known members, many of whom have sacrificed before you in this war. Tradition. Excellence. These will be your markers and you will be expected to live up to them.”

Hushed silence added to the drama.

My heart pounded so loud, I was sure the audience could hear it.

“The first recruit is…” He paused. “Blaise Aucoin.”

Blaise stepped forward, made a sharp right turn, and marched to the front.

On stage, his light blonde hair appeared almost white. Gabe gave a sharp nod of approval.

I managed to take Blaise down a few times in class, but he had a killer right hook most opponents didn’t see coming.

“The second recruit is Alexander Girard.”

Alex strolled to the stage and stood beside Blaise. Against the backdrop of the stoic gardinels, his lucky sweatshirt was blinding.

Gabe blinked a few times before turning back to the audience. Alex beamed.

“The third recruit is Ethan Fournier.”

A tall, lanky demillir with curly red hair loped to the front. I didn’t know Ethan well, but he had a reputation for being quiet and serious. He towered over Blaise and Alex.

Two left.

“The fourth recruit is Cameron Martin.”

I heard Cam’s sharp inhale.

So far, no surprises. All were the best in class.

Cam joined the others with a fierce expression.

Only one more.

“The final recruit,” Gabe’s voice rang out.

His eyes panned the room.

Hands clenched tighter. A bead of sweat dripped off my temple.

Please.

Light brown eyes met mine.

“Kendra Irisavie.”

My breath came out in a rush.

With shoulders back and chin up, I strode forward and took my place next to Cam. Fingers slightly trembled behind my back.

I caught Ewan’s mouth lift in a tiny smile.

Gabe stepped back. “Chevaliers, recruits, and gardinels. I present the new class of elites.”

The audience stood and clapped. I looked up into the sea of people and a mixture of pride, relief, and joy surged through me.

I did it.

What Readers Are Saying

An action-packed, emotional rollercoaster ride of a read that will grip you from the very beginning and leave you begging for more. It is official – this is one of my favorite urban fantasy series of all-time. When I say it is unputdownable – I mean it and the bags under my eyes can prove it. This installment of the Ondine Quartet series took everything I loved from Whirl and amplified it.

– Paromantasy

This is a fantastic book 2 in the series full of action and intrigue….Emma’s easy flow of the story and the way the characters come together are what makes this series a must read.

– Turner’s Antics

Exhilarating, suspenseful and thrilling…so many engaging scenes that leave you sitting on the edge of your seat and by the end of this book you’ll only be wanting more!

– Book Passion for Life

There’s a lovely and eloquent beauty to Raveling’s writing and she creates incredibly stunning images and palpable emotions with her words…Billow took me on an exciting journey deeper into the complex and riveting ondine world that Raveling introduced in book one. With heart-racing suspense, excellent and believable character development, enticing romance and exquisite storytelling, this is a must-read sequel in a must-read series!

– Word Spelunking

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