5 years later…
New Berlin, 2040
Bridgette pressed her back against the door, her breath quick, heart pounding. Smooth, Bridge. Real smooth, she thought. Footsteps stopped just outside the door. She could hear his breathing through the wood. Bridgette bit her lip beneath the mask she now wore, waiting for what would happen next.
“Lottey?” he called out. There was a small thump from the other side, and when he spoke again his voice sounded closer and slightly muffled, like he was resting his forehead against the door. “Look, I know you’re mad at me, and you have every right to be,” he started.
Charlotte was mad at him? A sliver of hope spread through her chest. If her sister was mad at him, it would make Bridgette’s job a heck of a lot easier. Roman Adamson was not only the second in command of the New World order, but he also happened to be the sexiest man Bridgette had ever seen. It made coherent thought difficult around him, and right now she needed all her wits on full alert. If she was going to pull off this disguise of her younger sister, Charlotte, who she had discovered was still alive, she couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Especially around the man standing outside her room. Well, Charlotte’s room, but for now it was hers.
What I have gotten myself into? She asked herself for the millionth time since she’d agreed to do this. If it hadn’t been for the fact that her evil, sadistic father was holding her sister captive, there was no way Bridgette would have been doing anything to help the rebels. She’d long ago decided to make the best out of the new life she’d been forced to live, and that meant no involvement with the group of men set on destroying the new government. Considering her father was their leader, she definitely hadn’t wanted any part in this. But once again life had thrown her a curveball in the form of her sister, and she was forced to play along. At least until she planted the bomb.
Her back felt sticky with sweat beneath the fabric of the uniform she wore. All she wanted to do was strip out of it, pull off the mask her sister had been wearing for the last five years – how Charlotte had stood it, she had no idea – and take off the boots that were a size too small and pinching the crap out of her toes. Instead she had to deal with Roman, who had caught her in the hall. And of course, Bridgette had done the first thing that had come to mind, which happened to be to turn and run like an idiot, locking herself inside this room.
Again, real smooth, Bridge. Shut up, she told herself. What else could she have done? Stood there and had a conversation with him? Sure, eventually she’d have no choice. She just wasn’t expecting to have to do it within her first ten minutes of being in the headquarters.
“I know you’ll probably never forgive me,” Roman was saying. Forgive him for what? She wondered. What had he done to her sister? Anger simmered inside her. No one hurt her sister. “Just, please know that I truly am sorry if I’ve messed things up for you. It’s the last thing I would ever want.”
Her entire body stilled at the remorse she heard in his voice. Did Roman have feelings for Charlotte? Why did that make her feel sick just thinking about it? No, there was no way. Charlotte was in love with Bridgette’s best friend, Pete McKay. She hadn’t said as much, but you’d have to be blind not to see it when they looked at each other. She had no doubt Pete was working to find Charlotte even now. At least, she hoped he was. The longer Charlotte stayed with their dad, the greater the chance she’d get hurt. Her sister did not know how to shut her mouth, and their father had zero patience.
Bridgette shuddered at the thought of how her sister had looked the last time she had seen her – beaten and bloody, their father standing to the side watching it all. She needed to accomplish what she was here to do – fast. Then she needed to get back to her sister and away from all of this.
“Look, I know you don’t want to see me right now,” Roman said, jarring her back to the situation at hand, “but Ludwig’s been looking for us both. I told him you weren’t feeling well, but I can’t put him off any longer. I need you to come with me to his office.”
Crap. Crap, crap, crap. Roman was bad enough, but Ludwig? That was just a disaster waiting to happen. Bridgette was terrified of the New World leader, who was responsible for destroying more than half the world’s population with his bombs and war. What if he saw through her right away? Charlotte had been in their camp for five years. Long enough for them to recognize all her little quirks and know if things seemed “off”. Bridgette needed to bring her A-game, and she wasn’t quite sure if she even had one.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped back from the door, wincing at the pain in her feet. The first thing she was going to do tomorrow was demand new boots. She didn’t care if it looked odd that her feet had gone up a size overnight, there was no way she was walking around in these boots for the next couple of weeks. She was there to plant a bomb when the arms dealers came to visit, which meant she’d have to play Charlotte for quite a while yet. Her feet were not going to survive.
She opened the door slowly, readying herself for the next step in this ridiculous plot. Her plan had been to practice her voice and mannerisms tonight, so she was ready tomorrow, but it looked like there wouldn’t be time for that. Thankfully Bridgette had a good ear for tone. It probably had a lot to do with her vocal training. She knew how Charlotte spoke. It was softer, smoother than her own voice. Bridgette always spoke a little huskier than her younger sister, but she had faith in herself that she’d be able to pull this off.
As soon as her eyes met Roman’s, all the breath left her. All thoughts of courage disappeared under his stare. He was just so handsome. His eyes were a deep blue, his skin a flawless bronze, dark hair flowed to his shoulders. Shoulders that were massive and intimidating, and yet she wanted to be snuggled into them with those thick arms wrapped around her.
Snap out of it! She scolded herself. Her eyes had been making their own journey down the front of him. She shot them back up to look at his face, thankful for the first time that she wore a mask to hide the flush on her cheeks. He was watching her too, closely enough to cause the flush to spread down the rest of her body.
He thinks you’re Charlotte, she reminded herself. Was his look one of lust, or concern for whatever he’d done to her? She couldn’t tell. Bridgette motioned with her head for him to lead the way, not trusting her voice just yet. The silent treatment – the most effective weapon of women to be used against men when they were pissed. She was going to use it to her full advantage.
He sighed loudly, his shoulders drooping a bit. Then he spun around and started down the hall. Bridgette hurried to keep up. She had no idea where Ludwig’s office was in this building, so she couldn’t afford to get left behind. They walked in silence, with her just a bit behind him. She tried her best, but her eyes kept looking to him, watching the way his body moved as he walked. Every step was controlled, purposeful. Every shift in his muscles screamed of strength and power. She’d never met a man quite like him. He demanded respect and attention. Well, he certainly had hers, and that wasn’t good.
Finally they came to a set of double doors. Roman opened them, standing back to let her enter first. She kept her gaze away from his as she walked by. The heat off his body had her swaying a bit, but she forced herself to keep going.
The room was dark, and clearly a man’s domain. There was nothing feminine about the deep, burgundy walls, leather chairs, and large, wooden desk. Standing in front of floor-to-ceiling windows was her biggest obstacle yet, Ludwig Tennebris. Crap, crap, crap. She stopped just inside, watching him as the prey watches a predator. Roman was scary, but Ludwig, he was terrifying. He didn’t give off the same sort of strength that Roman did. His was more an aura of unpredictability; a man who could and would do anything and everything at any moment. She didn’t like men like him. She liked to know what to expect, and she doubted that would ever be the case with the New World leader.
His eyes swung to hers, his blonde hair messy, probably from running his hands through it. She could tell he was agitated, which didn’t bode well for her.
“Finally,” he said, stepping closer to her. The desk remained between them, a fact she was thankful for. “How are you feeling, Di?”
Bridgette paused for a second. She had forgotten that most of the New World soldiers thought Charlotte’s name was Dinah. It made her wonder why Roman called her Lottey. It also shocked her that Ludwig had asked how she was. If she was being honest, she wasn’t expecting that. From the look of him, she had thought he was going to start yelling, not look genuinely concerned for her.
“Better,” she answered.
He nodded, taking a seat behind his desk. “Good,” he said. “A lot has happened, or hasn’t happened would be more accurate,” he continued. Rubbing a hand down his face, he leaned back in his chair, his mouth set in a thin line. “Those rebels you’ve been watching, did they ever mention anything about a traitor in their ranks?”
Bridgette shook her head. “Not that I heard,” she said, changing her voice.
“Well someone tipped them off tonight. When my men got to that church, the whole place had been cleared out.”
Charlotte must have warned them, Bridgette thought. Ludwig didn’t seem to suspect her at all. How much did he trust her sister? Roman stepped forward so he was no longer in her peripheral vision.
“Could they have someone on the inside here?” Ludwig said.
Her heart rate kicked into high gear.
“I highly doubt it,” Roman said immediately. “Our men are loyal. Perhaps it was your inside man. Could he be playing both sides?”
Bridgette breathed a sigh of relief. Did Roman know about her sister’s relationship with McKay? His denial had come quickly; making her wonder if he was protecting Charlotte from Ludwig’s suspicion.
Ludwig rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “We’ll have to interrogate him and see, I suppose.” His head turned to her. “Have you had any contact from the rebels you’ve been watching?”
She shook her head. “They’re gone as well,” she said. At least she hoped they were. If McKay and the gang were smart, they would be far away from New Berlin. She had a pretty good intuition that Ludwig and his men were going to tear the eastern ghetto apart looking for them.
His lips pressed together. “Did you ever break through their walls?”
She shook her head again.
He let out a long breath. “I’m disappointed, but at least that means you can stop going out. I didn’t like you being in the lower’s section. Stay around headquarters until we figure out where they are. I’m worried they might have figured out who you were, and realized it was only a matter of time before I found them.”
They definitely knew who Charlotte was now, she thought wryly.
“We need to find these rats and get rid of them once and for all,” Ludwig continued. “I can’t have them running around out there causing trouble when our dealers are coming to town. We need this problem taken care of.” His eyes focused on Roman.
His second in command nodded in understanding. “We’ll find them,” Roman said.
“You’d better.” Ludwig’s eyes went back to Bridgette, dropping down the front of her body and up again. A small smile played on his lips as amusement danced in his eyes. “Have you gained weight, Di?”
Her whole body stiffened. This was exactly what she’d been afraid of. When people have been around each other for long periods of time, they would be more likely to notice slight changes. What the hell was she supposed to say now?
“You did not just say that,” Roman said. Bridgette turned to look at him. Bad idea. Looking at him just made maintaining her charade harder. She still remembered the last time they were together when she was still working at the Red Lounge. “Do I make you nervous, Bridgette?” he had asked. The answer was, then and now, a resounding yes. Having to hide that fact from him was probably going to be the hardest thing about this entire mission.
“What?” Ludwig said with a laugh. “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. She’s just looking more – curvy. It must be that lower section diet. Pub food looks good on you.” He gave her a playful wink. She was being teased by Ludwig-friggin-Tennebris. This was surreal.
“Never talk about a lady’s weight,” Roman said. Bridgette glanced at him and saw that he was smiling too.
Time to play this right, she thought. From now on she was going to live by the code – W.W.C.D. What Would Charlotte Do. Bridgette flipped them both off, stopping herself from cringing at the rude gesture, and turned to leave, calling over her shoulder, “I’m going to bed,” and quickly walked out of the room. Their laughter followed her out.
So, we jump right in where we left off. Charlotte/Dina/X sister’s Bridgette has gone to the inside of the center of the new world war compound, impersonating her, because she wants to save Charlotte. She has no idea what she’s going up against. This characters are all back for some more awesome, and we even get to meet so excellent new characters, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come now that we’ve had the little surprise plot twist with Bridgette. 🙂 Nope, won’t be spilling that little secret. LOL
So, we not only get to see inside Bridgette’s head, who’s not really that much like Charlotte. But I wouldn’t have expected that, with Charlotte watching her mother’s murder, and living in the compound for so long. Bridgette is a little more carefree. And yet, she is so surprised but Roman and Ludwig’s care and concern for Charlotte. I think Bridgette maybe thought Charlotte was living a miserable prisoned life. She got some surprises. She also has the major hots for Roman, and he for her. But then it gets complicated because they are on opposite sides. And she’s supposed to be her sister, so does Roman have the hots for her or for Charlotte? ooooooh, a little drama is always fun 🙂 Plus, it’s pretty cool to see things from Bridgette who’s funny and more spunky than Charlotte.
Roman is awesome! I loved him, even if I thought his well intentioned actions were a little off. He’s hard, but you finally get to learn a whole lot about him. He’s one of my favorite characters. He may be strong, and sometimes cruel, but you also see that he has remorse, and feelings, and he wants to do the right thing, but sometimes you are taught something, and things can change. Roman and Bridgette’s relationship is a really really cute one. I am all for them!
And though we are still mostly about Bridgette and Roman, we are definitely still all about Charlotte and Pete. And Pete’s brothers, and the new characters, and the rest of the resistance. And lets talk bad guys. You know, you will get to see a new side of Ludwig in this one, and I am whole heartedly saying that he’s only kind of a bad guy, the new bad guy that seriously needs to die is Charlotte and Bridgette’s dad. And I know this will sound mean, but Roman gave her mother a mercy killing because with the way these two have treated there kids, it’s just horrible!!!
I am all in for this one. I just love this series! I love the writing, I love the writing style, and I would love to know how Ms J’s brain comes up with these awesome ideas! I love it! Gimme Gimme Gimme more! Always! 🙂 And warning, there’s always a cliff hanger LOL well played Ms J! 5 MAGNIFICENT NEW WORLD RESISTANCE PAWS!!!
So I told Ms J I would have a little something special, so I made a little soundtrack to help you guys! Ms J, I hope you like my music selections 🙂 Surprise!! 🙂 LOL
Please remember that these are MY choices, so if you think they aren’t so good don’t blame Ms J 🙂 LOL
Janelle Stalder was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario. At an early age she developed a love for literature. Her debut novel, Eden, was the first book in a series of four, released in September of 2011. The second book, Eden-West, was released in July of 2012, and the third book, Eden-South was released in March of 2013. The fourth book of the Eden Series, Eden-East, will be release at the end of 2013. She is a strong supporter of other independent authors, and loves to interact with her readers. When she’s not writing, Janelle is at home with her husband, two children, Aiden and Elora, and her two furry children, Alice and Lily. She now resides in the small town in Ontario in her old, possibly haunted, century home.
Author Contact Information:
Facebook: Janelle Stalder
THE EDEN SERIES
Trapped within the cruel world of hormones and bullies, fifteen-year-old Aiden is convinced life has more to offer him. His instincts are proven correct on the night he is awakened by a voice calling to him from outside his window. As he sleepily peers into his yard, his eyes slowly focus on a woman who says she is there to take him to Eden. Aiden is about to fulfill the life purpose he never knew he had.
It is in Eden, a land on the brink of war, where Aiden will finally learn to trust himself and those around him. Accompanied by Wolf, his sidekick Logan, and the beautiful archer, Elisa, Aiden is soon thrust into a battle to save Eden. Meanwhile Elisa, the only girl in the King’s Army, is in the midst of her own struggles. Betrothed to a man she has no intention of marrying, Elisa is caught between the need to prove herself and her desire for true happiness. And now that she has met Aiden, she is more confused than ever.
In this action-packed fantasy tale, romance, adventure, and intrigue surround Aiden as he learns just what he is capable of when he discovers confidence and courage.
New beginnings, new conflicts, and new adventures arise in the second installment of the Eden Series, Eden-West.
Months after his initial journey to Eden, Aiden is learning to cope with his own transformation. His social status has changed, his friendship with his best friend Ethan is in jeopardy because of it, and worst of all, he has heard absolutely nothing from his new friends in Eden. What has become of the world he fell in love with? Are his friends safe? Is the war over? With no answers, and no hope for contact, Aiden decides to focus on his life in his world. Just as he makes this decision, he encounters a familiar bright light and thinks he knows exactly what it means. Except the light isn’t at all what he expects and neither is the person behind it. When Aiden returns to Eden, it is to a whole new part of that special world, and a whole new set of adventures.
Weeks after Aiden was returned to his own world, Elisa is sent to Nysa, the revered Southern city, to retrieve the one thing she’d rather avoid – Wolf. Captain Turk instructed her to get in and get out – but that is easier said than done. When she finds her missing friend, she also stumbles upon a great deal of trouble. This trouble goes by one name – Markus, the leader of the Sun People.
Follow all your favourite characters as they ready themselves for battle and fight for a world threatened to be destroyed.
The betrayal that tore a family apart. Two brothers bent on destroying the other. A whole world on the brink of war.
Aiden has been through his second battle in the magical world of Eden. The victory is short lived and Aiden is sent racing toward his friends in the Capital. After being back in Eden with the Riders, he is eager to reunite with Wolf, Elisa and Logan, although he doesn’t realize just what he’s returning to. Surprises await him when he arrives in the Capital; his close-knit group of friends is slowly falling apart. On top of it all, another battle is just around the corner, one that will change everything.
Rain has made her choice, and now she is in some unknown fortress with the feared sorcerer, Aziz. She wants nothing more but to please him, but being his Queen isn’t as easy as she thought. While trying to learn sorcery, and dealing with Aziz’s advances, Rain is finding her new life a bit overwhelming. Just when she thought it couldn’t get worse, she discovers a secret of Aziz’s, and it is nothing she could have expected.
Rose has supported Callum throughout their journey, but now that the final battle is just around the corner she is faced with a hard reality. Everything she has gained with him could be taken away. Is she willing to live the rest of her life without him? Can she just stand by while he destroys everything, including himself? Will he ever be able to find peace? Will she?
In the third installment of the Eden Series fates will be decided, and the battle between brothers that has been a decade in the making will finally come to an end. Only one of them can be High King.
The battle starts now.
New life, new deaths, and truths revealed. Everything ends now.
In the final installment of the Eden series, the King’s army prepares for their biggest battle yet. Aiden and his friends set out to find Aziz in his hidden mountain fortress and bring the war in Eden to an end. But secrets are being discovered along the way, and the weight of them could ruin lives. Aiden is coping with loss and the need for vengeance, as well as changes in himself he doesn’t quite understand. Thousands of lives are depending on him to stop Aziz once and for all, and this time Aiden is more than ready and confident he’ll be the one to do it. The stakes are higher than he ever anticipated on his journey east.
Elisa is embarking on a new phase of her life. She has the man she loves beside her, their group of friends have become stronger, and the end of war is in sight. Now she just needs to see it through so she can finally have her happily ever after. But she knows the truth that the others don’t, and it will test her loyalty and friendship more than anything ever has.
With two brothers side by side, and an army ready for war, the only thing left to be seen is who will live and who will die.
Welcome to the thrilling conclusion of your journey into Eden.
Tested (Book Three, New World Series) – Spring 2014
Elysium (YA Fantasy Spin-off of the Eden Series) – Summer/Fall 2014