by Kristin Smith
(The Deception Game, #4)
Publication date: July 26th 2022
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
From best-selling and award-winning author Kristin Smith comes the riveting fourth and final book in the Deception Game series.
A terrible discovery that will change everything.
Armed with valuable information, Sienna and her friends find asylum in the east coast province of Pride. While initially grateful for Pride’s open arms, they begin to question exactly what kind of loyalties its president is after. Sienna must grapple with her new condition, Trey has to figure out how to win a war without losing Sienna, and Zane needs to recreate a gene regeneration therapy to cure Sienna without knowing if he’ll ever win her heart. When they learn Trina survived the Zenith Camp bombing, they also discover she’s been living a nightmare.
In the end, Sienna and her friends must somehow come together and fight a war for a government they aren’t sure they can trust.
Ever since we arrived in Old Richmond, President Turner’s team of doctors have done test after test and x-ray after x-ray to determine how severely my spinal cord is damaged. And it’s all led to the same conclusion. It’s damaged beyond repair. Which means I’ll never walk again, at least, not in this life.
Am I angry? Yes. Do I feel sorry for myself? A little. But that’s not what keeps me tethered to this bed. Sadness is a weighted sandbag that drags me down, down, down. All I want to do is sleep.
Day after day, I lie on my back in a bed in a room that’s too posh to be a sick room. I let them check my blood pressure and temperature. I let them empty my catheter. I let them switch out my IV bag. And I don’t complain when they stick me with this needle and that one. For all intents and purposes, I’m alive.
And yet, I’m not.
I lost the two most important people in my life, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover. So what that I can’t walk? So what that my life as I knew it is over? So what. So what. So what. My mom and sister are dead. Burned alive.
Death is a plague that has visited my doorstep over and over. No matter where I go, it finds me and the ones I love.
And I’m tired. So very tired. Tired of living. Tired of loving. Tired of caring.
There’s a soft knock on the door, and then Zane sticks his head in. His face lights up when he sees me. “Hey,” he says. “Can I come in?” His gaze travels to Chaz, who is asleep in a chair near the corner of the room. His head sags against his propped-up arm, his chubby cheek squished against his fist. Chaz hasn’t left my side since we got to Old Richmond. My eternal watchdog.
“Trust me,” I say, “nothing short of an explosion can wake him when he’s asleep.”
Zane chuckles at this as he crosses the room and sinks into the chair beside my bed. “How are you holding up?”
“I’ve been better.”
His face is awash in pain. “I’m really sorry, Sienna—”
“It wasn’t your fault, Zane,” I remind him. We’ve been over this again and again, but he still carries the blame. Like he could somehow have avoided the hidden explosive. The thought is absurd.
“It was,” he says, his voice firm. “But I’m going to fix it. I promise.”
“I know you will,” I say. “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
He smiles. “Your confidence in me means everything.”
A loud snore comes from the corner of the room. Zane and I exchange looks. “See?” I say. “Told you.”
When Zane laughs, it feels like a little bit of goodness has returned to the world. His laugh almost elicits a smile from me. Almost.
He reaches for my hand, then takes it in his. His hand is strong, solid, the muscles arching as he squeezes my fingers. “I’ve missed you,” he says, and it’s so sudden and completely unexpected that I’m not sure what to say back.
“I’m right here,” I joke.
“That’s not what I mean.” His eyes connect with mine, and his gaze is so intense I have to look away. “Sienna, I need to know.”
“Need to know what?”
“Is there any hope for me? For us?”
I draw in a sharp breath. I thought I spelled it out pretty well in my bedroom that night in his house before the assassin tried to kill him. Apparently not. I try to say the next words as gently as I can. “I’m with Trey now. I love Trey.”
Pain fills his eyes as his hand slips from mine. “I understand.”
“Zane, I’m sorry—”
“Don’t be. It’s not what I wanted to hear. But it’s what I needed to hear.”
I reach for his hand again, and reluctantly, he gives it to me. Bringing it up to my lips, I kiss the soft spot between his knuckles. “There’s a girl out there for you. One who will love you and appreciate you for the incredible person you are.”
When Zane stares at me, his eyes full of longing, it tears holes in my heart. “I know,” he says. “I just hoped it would be you.”
Kristin Smith is the best-selling and award-winning author of the DECEPTION GAME series. Her first book, CATALYST, is a 2018 IAN Book of the Year Award finalist in the Young Adult category.
A graduate of Brigham Young University, Kristin currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and five sons. To read more about Kristin or her books, please visit her website at kristinsmithbooks.com.
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