Tessa has finally made peace with her life as a Variant. She and long-time love Alec are officially a couple, and for the first time, she has everything she wants.
But the air is tense at FEA headquarters. An agent has disappeared, and rogue variant organization Abel’s Army is likely the culprit. When Tessa is summoned for her second mission, she is unexpectedly launched into a massive conspiracy. Her best friend Holly is kidnapped and Tessa knows it was meant to be her. But who is after her? And more importantly, why?
When the FEA’s efforts to rescue Holly don’t yield any results, Tessa takes matters into her own hands. Desperate to save her friend and uncover the mystery behind Abel’s Army, Tessa launches her own investigation—but nothing could prepare her for what she finds. Everyone in her life is harboring secrets: Alec, her estranged mother, even the father she never knew.
The truth will take her out on the road and out of her comfort zone, with danger lurking everywhere. Summoning all of her courage and strength, Tessa must decide who can be trusted and what is worth fighting for—even if it means going against the life she thought she wanted. Her final decision will leave readers breathless.
Doesn't that sound great?? I give it 100 points for making me dying to read it!
And Susanne has provided some exclusive content as part of the hunt, this excerpt:
Note from Susanne: This scene is from the beginning of DEFECTOR. Tessa is on a new mission. She has to pose as Senator Pollard because he’s been getting death-threats. Now she’s supposed to give a speech in his body.
Five hundred people made up the audience – law students and journalists, and possibly someone intent on Senator Pollard’s death.
“You’re safe,” Alec said under his breath. “Don’t worry. Security measures were tripled.”
“If it’s so safe, why am I here and not Pollard?” I whispered, glaring at his back, as I lumbered up the stairs onto the stage. A wave of applause welcomed me and I raised my arm in Senator Pollard’s trademark greeting. Every gesture, every move was perfect. Nobody would realize I wasn’t him – not even his enemies. I walked up to the speaker’s podium in the center of the stage as the clapping ebbed away. I let my gaze swivel over the audience, looking for anything out of the ordinary. But there was nothing. Most of the blue chairs were occupied by men and women in their twenties. They’d probably fall right off their seats if they found out a sixteen-year-old girl was actually the speaker.
I cleared my throat and opened my lips to recite the speech, but the words faltered in my mouth. Something was off. The hairs at the base of my neck rose. I wasn’t exactly sure what caused me such discomfort. A wall of silence lay before me as people stopped talking to stare at my mute form. I coughed and glanced at the notes on the speaker’s desk in front of me.
My voice was calm and businesslike as I started the speech. I’d seen videos of Senator Pollard giving speeches and knew that he was a good orator. He possessed the natural charisma and verbal skills to grab an audience – which made this that much harder for me. I forced myself to look up every now and then to smile at my audience and search the auditorium for suspicious activities. A few minutes into my speech, I raised my head again, my mouth already dry from reading, and the words died in my throat. Every muscle in my body bristled with anxiety.
My eyes landed on a familiar face in the audience. It was the man who’d been watching me a few weeks ago back in Livingston, the man who was most likely a member of Abel’s Army. He was leaning at the back of the auditorium, returning my gaze with unsettling calm. Brown hair, pale skin, dark sunglasses, unidentifiable age. He wore a long beige coat. What was he hiding beneath it?
Alec stared at me, then followed my eyes across the room. Of course he hadn’t seen the man before, but he could feel how nervous I was. The man was wearing exactly the same sunglasses and coat he had last time. Was he the only Variant in the room? Was he here to enact some sinister plan?
I took a deep breath and continued my speech. The audience was starting to whisper about my strange behavior, and I couldn’t risk losing their attention. Alec gave me a tiny nod and moved off to the side of the auditorium as he tried to make his way toward the back. The man’s eyes flitted briefly to Alec but then returned to me – as if Alec wasn’t even worth his attention. I couldn’t sense Holly anywhere near me. Where was she? Maybe she was also heading for the strange guy.
Connors and Orlov had picked up on the tense atmosphere of course (they weren’t that bad, no matter what Major might think) and were watching Alec’s progress across the room with barely hidden contempt.
Maybe I should give them a sign to follow Alec. I didn’t like the thought of Holly getting involved in a possible fight.
A loud boom sounded in the auditorium, and with a rumble, a shock wave thrust me backwards. A second later, everything was pitched into darkness. I tumbled down the stairs of the podium unable to stop Senator Pollard’s tall body from hurtling forward. My face smashed against the ground, and I tasted blood in my mouth, coppery and warm. My nose was clogged with liquid and when I touched it, pain shot through my face. Probably broken. I gagged. My ears rang but slowly my hearing returned. Screams and shouts surrounded me on all sides. The auditorium was filled with bitter grayish mist that stung in my eyes and nose.
I tried to jump to my feet, but the ground had started shaking. I knelt, trying to find my balance. Pollard’s body was more difficult to maneuver than my own and the trembling ground wasn’t helping one bit. Panic flashed through me. I had to do something. Could I risk changing back to my own body? I still heard shots and shouting. How could anyone fire when they couldn’t possibly see their targets in the darkness?
Where were the others?
“Tess!” Holly’s scream echoed in my skull. I stumbled to my feet and changed back to my own body. The ground vibrated under my feet and a sudden burst of motion sickness hit me. I forced myself to remain calm. My clothes began to slip off, much too big for me now that I was no longer Senator Pollard. I hastily changed into Alec’s body, which was better for fighting. Tightening the belt a notch, I looked around. “Holly?” I called in Alec’s deep voice. “Holly, where are you?” She’d sounded so scared.
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