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Chapter no 1 – Kenji

Defy Me (Shatter Me Book 5)

She’s screaming.

She’s just screaming words, I think. They’re just words. But she’s screaming, screaming at the top of her lungs, with an agony that seems almost an exaggeration, and it’s causing devastation I never knew possible. It’s like she just—imploded.

It doesn’t seem real.

I mean, I knew Juliette was strong—and I knew we hadn’t discovered the depth of her powers—but I never imagined she’d be capable of this.

Of this:

The ceiling is splitting open. Seismic currents are thundering up the walls, across the floors, chattering my teeth. The ground is rumbling under my feet. People are frozen in place even as they shake, the room vibrating around them. The chandeliers swing too fast and the lights flicker ominously. And then, with one last vibration, three of the massive chandeliers rip free from the ceiling and shatter as they hit the floor.

Crystal flies everywhere. The room loses half its light, bathing the cavernous space in a freakish glow, and it’s suddenly hard to see what’s happening. I look at Juliette and see her staring, slack-jawed, frozen at the sight of the devastation, and I realize she must’ve stopped screaming a minute ago. She can’t stop this. She already put the energy into the world and now—

It has to go somewhere.

The shudders ripple with renewed fervor across the floorboards, ripping through walls and seats and people.

I don’t actually believe it until I see the blood. It seems fake, for a second, all the limp bodies in seats with their chests butterflied open. It seems staged

—like a bad joke, like a bad theater production. But when I see the blood, thick and heavy, seeping through clothes and upholstery, dripping down frozen hands, I know we’ll never recover from this.

Juliette just murdered six hundred people at once. There’s no recovering from this.

I shove my way through the quiet, stunned, still-breathing bodies of my

friends. I hear Winston’s soft, insistent whimpers and Brendan’s steady, reassuring response that the wound isn’t as bad as it looks, that he’s going to be okay, that he’s been through worse than this and survived it—

And I know my priority right now needs to be Juliette.

When I reach her I pull her into my arms, and her cold, unresponsive body reminds me of the time I found her standing over Anderson, a gun aimed at his chest. She was so terrified—so surprised—by what she’d done that she could hardly speak. She looked like she’d disappeared into herself somewhere

—like she’d found a small room in her brain and had locked herself inside. It took a minute to coax her back out again.

She hadn’t even killed anyone that time.

I try to warm some sense into her, begging her now to return to herself, to hurry back to her mind, to the present moment.

“I know everything is crazy right now, but I need you to snap out of this,

J. Wake up. Get out of your head. We have to get out of here.” She doesn’t blink.

“Princess, please,” I say, shaking her a little. “We have to go—now—”

And when she still doesn’t move, I figure I have no choice but to move her myself. I start hauling her backward. Her limp body is heavier than I expect, and she makes a small, wheezing sound that’s almost like a sob. Fear sparks in my nerves. I nod at Castle and the others to go, to move on without me, but when I glance around, looking for Warner, I realize I can’t find him anywhere.

What happens next knocks the wind from my lungs.

The room tilts. My vision blackens, clears, and then darkens only at the edges in a dizzying moment that lasts hardly a second. I feel off-center. I stumble.

And then, all at once— Juliette is gone.

Not figuratively. She’s literally gone. Disappeared. One second she’s in my arms, and the next, I’m grasping at air. I blink and spin around, convinced I’m losing my mind, but when I scan the room I see the audience members begin to stir. Their shirts are torn and their faces are scratched, but no one appears to be dead. Instead, they begin to stand, confused, and as soon as they start shuffling around, someone shoves me, hard. I look to up to see Ian swearing at me, telling me to get moving while we still have a chance, and I try to push back, try to tell him that we lost Juliette—that I haven’t seen Warner—and he doesn’t hear me, he just forces me forward, offstage, and when the murmur of the crowd grows into a roar, I know I have no choice.

I have to go.

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