Home > Hexbound (The Dark Elite #2)

Hexbound (The Dark Elite #2)
Author: Chloe Neill


I stayed absolutely still, my eyes closed, the sun warm on my face. As long as I didn’t fidget too much, the noon sun was just strong enough to cancel out the chilly October breeze that blew through our part of downtown Chicago.

I guess there was a reason they called it the Windy City.

It was a Sunday afternoon at St. Sophia’s School for Girls, and I was squeezed into a tiny square of sunshine on the lawn with my friend Scout. She sat beside me with her arms stretched out behind her, eyes closed and head tipped up to the sky. I sat cross-legged, art-history book open in my lap. Every few minutes we’d inch our legs a little farther to the left, trying to take in the last warm bit of fall.

“This totally beats sitting in class,” Scout said. “And wearing uniforms.”

Scout was dressed in a black skirt and shirt she’d sewn from two White Sox T-shirts. It was quite a change from the navy-and-yellow private school plaid we usually wore. And then there were the shoes (Converses she’d coated in gold glitter), the hair (a short blond bob with dark tips), and the silver nose ring. There was no mistaking Scout Green, even in the uniform, for the average “St. Sophia’s girl.”

“You are totally rocking those clothes today.”

Scout opened an eye and glanced down at her jersey skirt. “I appreciate your appreciation of my obvious good taste. Besides, someone had to rock it out. This place is like a dismal swamp of bleh.”

I put a hand over my heart. “Thank God you’re here to save us, Saint Scout.”

Scout snorted and crossed one ankle over the other, her shoes glinting in the sunlight.

“And now I know why I keep finding glitter on my bedroom floor.”

“Whatever. My shoes do not shed.”

I gave her a dubious look.

“Seriously. That’s just . . . um . . . horn dust from the unicorns that braid your hair while you sleep.”

Scout and I both looked at each other. Unfortunately, while I didn’t remember waking up with any mysterious braids, we couldn’t exactly rule out the unicorn part.

Oh, did I mention Scout could do magic?

Yeah, you heard me. And I know what you’re thinking: “Lily Parker, there’s no such thing as magic. The tofu is starting to go to your head.”

You’re going to have to trust me on this one. See, as it turns out, Chicago is home to an underground world of magicians battling it out while the rest of the city is asleep. And those magicians included the girl, who was now humming a song from High School Musical 3, beside me.

Scary, right?

Millicent Green, aka Scout, was actually an Adept and a member of Enclave Three.

And here’s the second twist—so was I.

See, I was actually from upstate New York, but when my parents decided to head to Germany for a research sabbatical, they figured St. Sophia’s, deep in the heart of Chicago, was the best place for me to spend my junior and senior years of high school.

They said parents knew best. To my mind, the jury was still out.

I didn’t come to Chicago with any powers, at least not that I was aware. And my parents certainly weren’t doing magic in their free time.

Again, at least not that I was aware. But with a secret trip to Germany? Who really knew? I’d been told by Marceline Foley, the headmistress of St. Sophia’s, that their work had something to do with genetics. She’d changed her tune later on, but there was no unringing that bell—or the fact that their European vacation was related to a place called the Sterling Research Foundation. For their safety, I’d made a promise to let my parents’ secrets, whatever they were, stay secret.

Anyway, it took a trip into the basement of St. Sophia’s—and a shot of magic from one of the bad guys—to trigger my own magic.


To be honest, I’d been an Adept for only a few weeks, and I was still fuzzy on the details. But firespell had something to do with light and power—manipulating it and throwing it back at the bad guys.

And that was exactly how I’d ended up with firespell—a shot from Sebastian Born. He might have been tall, dark, and handsome, but he was also a Reaper. A teenager who refused to give up his magic when the time came—and it came for everyone—and who now spent his time recruiting kids the older Reapers could feed from.

As it turns out, magic’s only a temporary gift. We have it for only a few years, from puberty to age twenty-five or so. After that, the magic begins to degrade you, to devour your soul like some kind of rangy tentacle monster.

As Adepts, we promise to give up our magic, to give it back to the universe before it turns us into soul-suckers. Reapers don’t. And in order to keep their suddenly hungry power from devouring them from the inside out, they have to feed from the souls of Adepts or humans.

So, yeah. Reapers—or, as they called themselves, the Dark Elite—weren’t going to win any congeniality awards.

That put us pretty squarely against each other, like a football rivalry but with much higher stakes. So by day, we were high school juniors—wearing our plaid uniforms, doing our homework, ignoring our brattier classmates, and wishing we were in a public high school without a two-hour mandatory study hall.

And by night, we were dueling Adepts.

Scout suddenly sighed, a long, haggard breath that made her entire body shudder. She still looked a little pale, and she still had blue circles under her eyes.

A wounded Adept.

These were the scars left over from her own experience with the Reapers. She’d been kidnapped, and her room had been ransacked. It had been me and the other Junior Varsity Adepts from Enclave Three—and very little help from the Varsity Adepts, the college-age kids—that had fought to get her back from the Reaper sanctuary where Jeremiah, the baddest of the baddies, had begun the process of stripping away her soul.

It was days before she could sleep without nightmares, nearly a week before she was mostly back to her old self. But I still saw shadows from her time in the sanctuary—those moments when she disappeared into herself, when her mind was pulled back into the empty spot the Reapers had created.

Regardless, she was here now. We’d gotten her back.

Not everyone was so lucky. Sometimes we discovered too late that a Reaper had been befriending someone, too late for Adepts, friends, family, coaches, or teachers to pull him or her back from the brink.

Sometimes, fighting the good fight meant losing a battle or two.

That was a hard lesson at almost-sixteen.

“Lils, any thoughts about running away and joining a circus?”

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