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Just when I thought my day couldn't get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker. Kayla was talking nonstop in her usual K-babble, and she didn't even notice him. At first.
Marked A House of Night Novel
Actually, now that I think about it, no one else noticed him until he spoke, which is, tragically, more evidence of my freakish inability to fit in. You really shouldn't be so hard on him. I felt like crap. I must be coming down with what Mr. Wise, my more-than-slightly-insane AP biology teacher, called the Teenage Plague. Are you even listening? I think he only had like four — I dunno — maybe six beers, and maybe like three shots.
But that's totally beside the point. He probably wouldn't even have had hardly any if your stupid parents hadn't made you go home right after the game. We shared a long-suffering look, in total agreement about the latest injustice committed against me by my mom and the Step-Loser she'd married three really long years ago. Then, after barely half a breath break, K was back with the babbling.
I mean we beat Union! Your boyfriend —". Heath is our quarterback so of course he's going to celebrate.
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It's been like a million years since Broken Arrow beat Union. I'm sorry, but I don't want to go out with a guy whose main focus in life has changed from trying to play college football to trying to chug a six-pack without puking. Not to mention the fact that he's going to get fat from all that beer. I was feeling a little dizzy and forced myself to take slow, deep breaths when the coughing fit was over. Not that K-babble noticed.
I managed to ignore another urge to cough. Anyway, you have no idea how lost-puppy-like Heath looked after you ignored him at lunch.
He couldn't even Then I saw him. The dead guy. Okay, I realized pretty quick that he wasn't technically "dead. Or un-human. Scientists said one thing, people said another, but the end result was the same. There was no mistaking what he was and even if I hadn't felt the power and darkness that radiated from him, there was no frickin' way I could miss his Mark, the sapphire-blue crescent moon on his forehead and the additional tattooing of entwining knot work that framed his equally blue eyes.
He was a vampyre, and worse.
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He was a Tracker. Then the vampyre spoke and his ceremonial words slicked across the space between us, dangerous and seductive, like blood mixed with melted chocolate. Night has chosen thee; thy death will be thy birth. Night calls to thee; hearken to Her sweet voice. Your destiny awaits you at the House of Night!
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He lifted one long, white finger and pointed at me. As my forehead exploded in pain Kayla opened her mouth and screamed. When the bright splotches finally cleared from my eyes I looked up to see K's colorless face staring down at me. As usual, I said the first ridiculous thing that came to mind. Oh, Zoey! You have the outline of that thing on your forehead! I sat up and coughed.
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I had a killer headache, and I rubbed at the spot right between my eyebrows. It stung as if a wasp had bit me and radiated pain down around my eyes, all the way across my cheekbones. I felt like I might puke. That guy was a Tracker — a vampyre Tracker! You know I hate it when you cry. I couldn't believe it. She actually cringed, like she was afraid of me.
She must have seen the hurt in my eyes because she instantly started a string of breathless K-babble. What are you going to do?
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You can't go to that place. You can't be one of those things. This can't be happening! Who am I supposed to go to all of our football games with? I noticed that all during her tirade she didn't once move any closer to me. I clamped down on the sick, hurt feeling inside that threatened to make me burst into tears.
My eyes dried instantly. I was good at hiding tears. I should be; I'd had three years to get good at it. I wasn't really talking; I was just making words come out of my mouth. Still grimacing at the pain in my head, I stood up. Looking around I felt a small measure of relief that K and I were the only ones in the math hall, and then I had to choke back what I knew was hysterical laughter. Had I not been totally psycho about the geometry test from hell scheduled for tomorrow, and had run back to my locker to get my book so I could attempt to obsessively and pointlessly study tonight, the Tracker would have found me standing outside in front of the school with the majority of the 1, kids who went to Broken Arrow's South Intermediate High School waiting for what my stupid Barbie-clone sister liked to smugly call "the big yellow limos.
As it was, there was only one other kid in the math hall — a tall thin dork with messed-up teeth, which I could, unfortunately, see too much of because he was standing there with his mouth flapping open staring at me like I'd just given birth to a litter of flying pigs.
I coughed again, this time a really wet, disgusting cough. The dork made a squeaky little sound and scuttled down the hall to Mrs. Day's room clutching a flat board to his bony chest. Guess the chess club had changed its meeting time to Mondays after school. Do vampyres play chess? Were there vampyre dorks? How about Barbie-like vampyre cheerleaders? Did any vampyres play in the band?
Were there vampyre Emos with their guy-wearing-girl's-pants weirdness and those awful bangs that cover half their faces?
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Or were they all those freaky Goth kids who didn't like to bathe much? Was I going to turn into a Goth kid? Or worse, an Emo? I didn't particularly like wearing black, at least not exclusively, and I wasn't feeling a sudden and unfortunate aversion to soap and water, nor did I have an obsessive desire to change my hairstyle and wear too much eyeliner. All this whirled through my mind while I felt another little hysterical bubble of laughter try to escape from my throat, and was almost thankful when it came out as a cough instead.
Are you okay? I sighed and felt my first sliver of anger. It wasn't like I'd asked for this. K and I had been best friends since third grade, and now she was looking at me like I had turned into a monster. The same me I was two seconds ago and two hours ago and two days ago.
House of Night Series Books 1-4: Marked, Betrayed, Chosen and Untamed
K's eyes teared up again, but, thankfully, her cell phone started singing Madonna's "Material Girl. I could tell by her rabbit-in-the-headlights expression that it was her boyfriend, Jared. I watched her rush across the east lawn to the parking lot. I could see that she had her cell phone smashed to her ear and was talking in animated little bursts to Jared.
I'm sure she was already telling him I was turning into a monster.
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The problem, of course, was that turning into a monster was the brighter of my two choices. Choice Number 1: I turn into a vampyre, which equals a monster in just about any human's mind. Choice Number 2: My body rejects the Change and I die.
The bad news was that I'd have to move into the House of Night, a private boarding school in Tulsa's Midtown, known by all my friends as the Vampyre Finishing School, where I would spend the next four years going through bizarre and unnameable physical changes, as well as a total and permanent life shake-up.
And that's only if the whole process didn't kill me. I didn't want to do either. I just wanted to attempt to be normal, despite the burden of my mega-conservative parents, my troll-like younger brother, and my oh-so-perfect older sister.
I wanted to pass geometry.