The Lazarus (The Vernum City #1) Read Online Marlow Locker

Categories Genre: Romance Tags Authors: Series: The Vernum City Series by Marlow Locker
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Total pages in book: 175
Estimated words: 161431 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 807(@200wpm)___ 646(@250wpm)___ 538(@300wpm)
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•JUNE•
When Caden stormed into my life, everything changed. The man with the piercing, emerald eyes and a wicked tongue. He dragged me from my world to the depths of his, exposing the underbelly of Vernum. It was dark, gritty, raw… He pushed me, showing me that not only could I survive the fall, but that he’d be right there, waiting in the darkness. My villain wants the heads of those dear to me. The heads of the city’s biggest heroes. My masked vigilante wants everything I have to give, past, present, and future. We all have to make choices that define us, and Caden wants me to choose him.

•CADEN•
When she walked by with a spine of steel and eyes like dangerous waters, I was drawn to her–the woman who held her tongue so tightly for others. The gatekeeper of something I desperately needed. I had to test her loyalty, push her to the edge to show her how strong she really is. I wanted to break her down and rebuild her into my own creation… my Little Witch, my sweetest obsession. I would offer her everything, and in return, I needed every piece of her. If she didn’t, it would be taken. It was easy to fall for her… And it’s going to make everything so much harder when I slaughter her heroes.

FULL BOOK START HERE:

19 YEARS AGO

The past is a fickle thing. There are plenty of questions about whether it’s nurture or nature that creates a person. Carves them. Dictates the important decisions one makes and the many paths they go down in the short time they take up space on Earth.

Sitting in the empty room, a dusky smell fills our lungs. It's unkempt, grime sitting on every surface. I hold my brother's hand tightly as he sits next to me, his body small against the cold, steel chairs. Sister Martha retrieved us, dragging us by the collar before we even had a second to finish the slop they prepared for dinner. The dull, gray meal was lukewarm, smelling just as old as the room we wait in.

Thomas and I are both aware that we will be meeting prospective adopters, ‘parents’ being the preferred word. That’s a lie. We’ve sat in enough of these chairs to know exactly what this is. Judgment.

Half of the boys that leave this hellhole—our old, stone orphanage located on the outskirts of Vernum City—don’t go to better homes. People who come to purchase children from Saint Jonathan’s don’t want to be parents, they want to become name keepers. Most of the time, the boys run away anyway, ending up right back here. They find themselves covered in bruises, only to be belted again, layered in the blistered purple and green.

Thomas’ small hand shakes in mine, my palm curling around his little fingers. My brother and I have been in between homes and foster care since I was five, our life being nothing but this. I can't remember my mother’s face anymore. She’s a ghost, a subtle reflection of the bright green my eyes hold. Thomas didn’t inherit the same color. He looks more like his father, whoever that was.

Rain trickles down the ledge outside the window of the old stone building, the drips like the organic ticking of a clock. We continue to wait, thrown in and asked to settle ourselves as our prospective buyer makes their way to the room.

The heavy steel door, too sinister for a children's home, opens. It was once an institution of some kind, I'm sure. Maybe enough broken kids damaged all the soft wood and glass, turning everything to stone and steel in its place.

A lone man walks in, his face worn and exhausted. Heavy bags are held under his eyes, the unavoidable depth of the brown appraising the two of us. He looms over us, not bothering to take a seat. The expensive leather coat he wears still drips with condensation from his run through the rain, the suit it covers is luxurious and thick beneath it.

No time to waste, he doesn’t even pretend to get to know us. No questions of our likes or dislikes—our ‘hobbies’—as if we have any.

The rain continues to fall.

I internally scream at myself to look up and meet his eyes, but fear consumes me. He’s huge, his aura pinning me to the steel chair where I sit. Now, both mine and Thomas’s hands shake. Gritting my teeth, I steady my arm, forcing myself to be strong for my brother.

“Just the young one.” His voice is as deep as the downturn of his mouth.

Sister Martha clicks her tongue, frustrated that the anonymous buyer won't be taking the both of us tonight. “They’re brothers. They should really be kept together.”

I can feel the panic rise in Thomas, his little hand becoming clammy against my own. I flash a glare at her, throwing in as much evil and hatred that I can muster at nine. She glowers back, her blotchy, pale skin sickly against her gray matron's uniform.


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