Life goes on. At least it’s supposed to. These days, Arie isn’t so sure.

She finally managed to escape Dalton’s grasp and find her way back to her makeshift family, but eight months is a long time to be away from home—Arie returns to find that the world kept on turning while she was gone. Alexis has been busy since Arie’s secret got out and she realizes that she’ll have to work harder than ever to keep the key away from him.

But Alexis isn’t the only problem. Dalton’s threat hangs over Arie, dictating her every move, which nobody else seems to understand. And when a sinister assassin begins tracking her down, Arie knows it’s only a matter of time before someone she loves gets hurt again. So the question remains: should she leave in an effort to keep her family safe or stay with those she loves to help them survive?

As danger closes in from all sides, Arie realizes more and more that she’s not who she used to be. Survival comes at a cost, a cost that changes people, a cost that changed Arie more than she’s willing to admit. But there’s something else lurking in the corners of her mind that’s threatening to take control. Her fight against the clock—against her engrained powers as the key—is nearly up.

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Playlist

Writing Surviving through the Night was a little bit of a different experience because it was a lot more feeling-based, I think. Writing is always a highly emotional experience for me, but this story relies a little more on inner conflict rather than external events for the plot, in contrast to the first book in which something crazy is almost always happening. Because of that, my playlist curating method was also a little different. Only a few songs on the list inspired an actual moment or scene—most of the playlist I listened to in order to get a feel for Arie and her emotions, as well as the emotions of those around her, and it became more generalized than what I was used to. Instead of listing the songs chronologically (since there isn’t really an order) I just put them down alphabetically:  

  1. Always by Saliva
  2. Awake and Alive by Skillet
  3. Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick
  4. Breathe No More by Evanescence
  5. Brick By Boring Brick by Paramore
  6. Bruises (feat. Ashley Monroe) by Train
  7. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
  8. Collide (acoustic version) by Howie Day
  9. Comatose by Skillet
    1. Author’s note: I listened to this song a lot to help me get into Sark’s mindset going into this story following what happened in book one.
  10. Dead Inside by Skillet
  11. Dear Agony by Breaking Benjamin
  12. Down by Jason Walker
  13. Fix You by Coldplay
  14. Going Under by Evanescence
  15. Hello by Evanescence
  16. How to Save a Life by The Fray
  17. I’m in Here by Sia
  18. Kingdom Come by The Civil Wars
  19. Lights by Ellie Goulding
  20. The Lonely by Christina Perri
  21. Meant to Live by Switchfoot
  22. Missing by Evanescence
  23. Monster by Paramore
  24. Near to You by A Fine Frenzy
  25. Only Hope by Switchfoot
  26. The Only One by Evanescence
  27. Open Wounds by Skillet
  28. Over My Head (Cable Car) by The Fray
  29. Possibility by Lykke Li
  30. Safe & Sound (feat. The Civil Wars) by Taylor Swift
    1. Author’s note: I always imagined this is the song Arie sings to Hadley and Jacklynn during the storm.
  31. Slowly Freaking Out by Skylar Grey
    1. Author’s note: Surviving through the Night is heavily influenced by The Host by Stephenie Meyer—one of my all-time favorite books. I can’t tell you the happy dance I did when Skylar Grey released this song for the movie because it was just. too. perfect. for what I was writing in Arie’s story at the time.
  32. The Scientist by Glee Cast
  33. Those Nights by Skillet
  34. Ticking Time Bomb by Skylar Grey
  35. We are Broken by Paramore
  36. We Remain by Christina Aguilera
  37. When It Rains by Paramore
  38. When It’s All in Pieces by Rachel Diggs
  39. Whisper by Evanescence
  40. You Found Me by The Fray

Chapter 1 Sneak Peek

I’m alive.

 

I silently crept down the winding road, acutely aware of my shoes pressing against the asphalt. The street was deserted; I was the only one in sight. I kept reminding myself that I was alone and concealed. In the night, the inky black sky created almost total darkness, which I knew kept me perfectly hidden in the shadows, but I did not feel hidden. I felt hideously exposed, naked, and unprotected. The starless sky seemed to be reaching down, mouth agape as if to swallow me whole. There was too much space to move in, too much air to breathe, too many sounds to hear.

I can’t handle this. I hadn’t been outside since May. Since Florida. It was January now. After eight months of dark walls in square rooms, the world felt disgustingly huge and foreign, making my compulsion to curl up in a ball and close my eyes almost impossible to fight.

Of course, that wasn’t really an option at the moment. For all I knew, Dalton was following me right now. It had been a few days since I’d escaped and he probably had guessed where I would go first. I knew it was stupid to be this predictable—especially since I wasn’t sure this would work or end well—but I didn’t know what else to do. This was what I would’ve done eight months ago and that old judgment was the only thing I had to go on. I was just going to have to trust myself.

Or trust who I used to be, I guess.

Finally, my destination came into view. The one-story building looked vacant and forgotten, hallways spreading out from the main entrance like lifeless fingers. I stopped at the set of concrete stairs that led to a glass door secured with metal bars.

Office of Cultist Intelligence—Colorado Division, the sign read. The capital ‘O’ had fallen off and Colorado had only half of its ‘C’.

This is it.

I pulled out two narrow plastic pieces from my hoodie pocket and tiptoed up the stairs. My fingers fumbled as I began to work on the lock. For a second I wondered if I would be unable to get the door open—it had never taken me this long before—but I finally heard a click. Both relief and disappointment hit because I almost wanted the excuse of not being able to get in. Brushing the thought aside, I pulled the heavy door open. It gave a piercing creak and the sudden intrusion of sound made me jump. I lost my grip on the door and it slammed shut. Automatically, I froze and glanced around, sure that I had just compromised everything, but I was still alone.

Calm down, I told myself, before you ruin your only chance.

Taking a deep breath, I opened the door again and slipped inside. The reception area smelled musty and stale, the walls painted in ugly shades of green. All lights were off except one in a long hallway, so I clenched my fists and went in that direction.

I passed by all of the closed doors and kept moving until I heard the buzz of voices. An urgency exploded inside me, overtaking all fear. I needed this now, despite any consequences.

I didn’t stop as I turned a corner and walked straight into a conference room. At a lengthy table, two men—an early thirties guy and an older fifties one—were sitting across from each other, bouncing a small red ball back and forth as they argued. A younger woman sat at the head, drumming her fingers against the table in frustration, her shoulder length brown hair swept to the side and her chin in her hands. All three of them gaped at me when I appeared in the doorway.

“Who are you?” the finger drummer asked as she stood up from her chair. Her voice had more power and authority to it than her appearance suggested. “How did you get in here?” The two men gave me questioning stares, the silver-haired one dropping the red ball. It bounced three times on the floor before rolling out of sight.

The woman started toward me, and my instant reaction was to retreat. As she came closer I automatically started to walk backwards. She stopped when she saw my sudden fear, folding her arms across her chest, studying me. Her face softened slightly.

“How did you get in here?” she asked again, less harshly.

You’re going to have to answer, I tried to tell myself. You’re going to have to talk to her. You can’t blow this.

The anticipation of wanting to and not wanting to was eating me away, making me dizzy but resolute: this was my only chance. I hadn’t risked everything to find this place just so I could screw it all up.

“Are you Lindsey Carter?” I blurted, my voice hoarse.

She nodded once, a fleck of surprise in her eyes.

I cleared my throat and it sounded like a dying engine. “So you’re in charge of this place, right?”

She sighed. “Unfortunately, yes.”

“You have a prisoner here, right? That’s why you’re here in the middle of the night.”

A faint gasp went through her teeth as the two men stood up from their chairs—apparently they’d been expecting something else from me. Instantly, any molecule of friendliness that might’ve existed toward me was replaced with suspicion.

“How do you know that?” Lindsey asked, taking a step forward. I stepped backward again, wrapping my arms around myself, trying to stay calm.

Keep it together. You can’t blow this.

“Look, uh, Lindsey, or, um, Ms. Carter…” How was I supposed to explain this? “I know that you don’t know me, but…I, uh, need you to do me a favor.”

“A favor?” She narrowed her eyes. “How about you do me a favor and tell me who sent you here?”

“Sent me? No, nobody…” I shook my head. “I mean, I’m here by myself. I’m on my own and I need your help. Please.”

Her body relaxed slightly, but the two men weren’t convinced, leaning forward slightly as if at the ready to neutralize me at any moment.

Just pretend they aren’t there. They aren’t. It’s just you and this nice Lindsey lady.

“And how can I help you?” she asked, her tone a bit more resigned.

“I need to see him.” The words came out faster than I meant to.

She raised an eyebrow. “You want to see Sark?”

My heart ached at the name, both in longing and anxiety.

“Yes. I need to see Sark right now.”