Home > Fallen Academy: Year Two (Fallen Academy #2)(2)

Fallen Academy: Year Two (Fallen Academy #2)(2)
Author: Leia Stone

“Yes! Thank you, sir! He’ll do anything you need. He’s a super hard worker.”

Not exactly the truth, but he could learn to become one. Maybe.

Raphael beamed. “Wonderful.” Walking over to a cabinet, he produced a set of keys. “Here are the keys to the cottage. It’s the one behind the gym.”

So that’s what it is. I’d seen it before and wondered what it was. It looked like a tiny stone house that had been left behind when they were building this enormous school.

“Thank you so much, sir.”

My walk back to the healing clinic was a little bit lighter. I’d figured out a temporary situation for Mikey. Now, I just needed him to not be a Gristle.

When I got back to his room, he was knocked out, fast asleep. Noah was doing his crazy orange glowing hand, healing magic thing.

“He okay?” I asked as I heaved his two duffel bags over my shoulders.

Noah nodded. “Gave him a sedative. Mending bones is painful.”

Yikes.

“Thanks a lot. I’ll be right back, gonna set up his new living space,” I told the healer.

I wasn’t sure which was harder, Lincoln’s drill team exercises or schlepping two huge, heavy duffel bags across campus to the little stone cottage.

By the time I got there, my arms were so fatigued they were shaking. I let myself in quickly, and then dumped the bags on the floor. One of the zippers split the second it landed, and I winced as all my brother’s shit came tumbling out.

What a mess.

Leaning down to pick it up, my eyes fell on a bright orange flyer that had rolled out of his bag. The bold font stating $1,000,000 caught my eye first, then the words ‘Fight Night.’

What the…?

I picked it up and scanned over the flyer.

FIGHT NIGHT

Winner gets $1,000,000

(no strings attached)

Teams of two fighters will face off.

Whoever is left standing wins.

Televised. Ages 18-21 only.

$100 entry fee per team.

Winners get invited to join the Tainted Army.

The last line made the room sway. Tainted Army? What the hell was that? I mean, it sounded a lot like Fallen Army, but… were the demons now using kids to fight for them beyond the wall? It was sickening.

My head was reeling, so I sat down a second. As I leaned on the bed, I flipped the flyer over and my brother’s messy handwriting made my heart jackknife in my chest.

Win the money. Buy mom’s demon contract. Free soul.

I sat up straighter. Could my brother have been onto something? Would Mr. Grim take a million bucks to release my mom from her contract? She had just said he was all about the money…

I stood then, a fierce desire in my heart. I was going to win Fight Night and free my mom. But it was going to take some help.

Glancing at the paper, I noted the fight was scheduled for February, months away from today. I had time to plan.

Hang on, Mama. I’m coming for ya.

Chapter Two

“Absolutely not!” Lincoln roared. The sound was made louder by the fact that we were in his tiny trailer. It was late, and I just wanted this shit storm of a day to be over, but I couldn’t lie to him. Besides, I would need his help.

“Babe.” I had never used the pet name before, but maybe it would help soften the blow now. “I’m doing it regardless. I’m just asking you to help train me for the fight.”

He looked furious. The veins in his neck were bulging, and his left eyelid was twitching. “You don’t even know if he’ll take the money!”

“He will,” Shea, who had been quiet while we fought, spoke up at that point. “He’s money motivated. I worked for him for nearly six years. If the Necro clinic isn’t making much, then he’ll see it as a fair payout for losing an employee. He’ll hire a new Necro, and be happy with the deal.”

Lincoln shot her a death glare. “Noah and I will fight,” he finally answered.

I winced and pointed to the flyer. “It says eighteen to twenty-one. You guys are twenty-three.” It was sweet of him to offer to fight for my mom though, which I would never forget.

His fingertips pressed against his temples, rubbing them. “Well, you’re not doing it. We’ll crowd fund or something.”

I barked out a laugh. “Crowd fund a million bucks? People don’t even like me! They think I’m evil. No one is going to pay to get my slave bound mom out of Demon City, Lincoln.”

He sighed. “Well, it’s a bad idea. You could die.”

I chewed my lip and stepped closer to him, reaching out to touch his arm. “It’s my mom, Lincoln. My flesh and blood. The woman who gave me life.” I saw the moment he admitted defeat.

“You’re going to be the death of me.”

I grinned. “So you’ll train me?”

Growling, he nodded. “Who’s your fighting partner?”

Shea stood, popping her knuckles. “Ghetto Tainted Academy bitches got nothing on me,” she stated matter-of-factly.

Lincoln sighed, looking at the ceiling as if it held some answers. “We’ll see about that. Meet me in the small gym every day after boot camp. Every. Day. Including weekends. And when school starts, I want you in there every day after school.”

Shea groaned, and his eyes flicked to hers with a glare. “Just kidding. Yay.” She fake-cheered.

Lincoln rubbed his temples. “Now go, before I change my mind.”

We turned to leave, and his hand snaked out and pulled me into him. The moment his lips touched mine, I felt all my worries melt away. Lincoln had my back. If he trained us, we could totally, probably, win this.

When he pulled back, his cobalt eyes bored into mine. “I love you, Brielle. But please stop trying to die,” he pleaded.

Giving him a thumbs-up, I smirked. “You got it. Just after this one thing.”

With a roll of his eyes, he chuckled. “Good night.” He kissed me one more time, making my knees go weak.

“Night.” I grinned.

As Shea and I headed for Mikey’s cottage to check on him, she gave me a side-glance. “We can do this, right? Fight the Demon City kids? I mean, they are hardcore there….”

I knew she’d had it rough in the short time she’d spent at Tainted Academy, but I couldn’t have her lose hope on me. Stopping to face her, I peered into her large brown eyes.

“We grew up in the same hood as they did. We know how to fight dirty, and we’ve gotten a much better education here. With Sera, and with your magic, I know we can win. For Mom.”

Shea never called her by the name ‘Mom,’ always Kate, but she was like Shea’s mother too.

“For Mom,” she agreed with a smile.

Family was family. Blood didn’t matter.

I gave her a hug, and then we walked briskly to the cottage where my brother was staying.

When we got to Mikey’s, I knocked loudly, only just wondering if he might still be drugged up.

“Come in!” he shouted groggily.

Shea and I walked in to see him lying in bed, scrolling through his phone. He set it down and sat up slowly as we entered, still clutching his ribs.

“Thanks for getting me this place.” He gestured to the room, but his face fell when his gaze landed on the piece of paper in my hands.

“Busted.” I held up the flyer. Even though he was only a year younger than me, I still mothered him.

Looking up at me, he sighed. The bruising on his face was intense, but at least his nose looked normal again.

“Is this why the kids jumped you?” Shea asked, crossing her arms.

The thought hadn’t even occurred to me.

He nodded. “I went to sign up. They said I was too much of a pussy and jumped me. Took my hundred bucks.”

Well shit. Now I felt really bad for him, and also completely enraged that some Tainted Academy assholes jumped my brother.

“Mikey, you can’t go doing this kind of shit! You gotta come to me first. Who were you going to fight with?” I asked, exasperated.

“Was gonna figure that out,” he answered with a shrug. “You aren’t around anymore, so you don’t know how bad it’s gotten on Mom. That asshole cuts her wages every week, says she doesn’t have enough business coming in. But she’s not a demon! She doesn’t have Burdock’s connections.”

Remorse flooded through me. I had no idea Lincoln killing Burdock would have such far-reaching consequences for my mom. Grim cut her wages every week? No wonder she’d rented out my room.

Oh God, now I was worried about my mom. Next paycheck, I was going to send her some money. If I had to, I’d force her to take it.

Shea’s arm wrapped around Mikey’s shoulders as she sat down. “Don’t worry. Bri and I are going to win the money and get your mom out.”

She was always so soft with him, cuddly. I just usually socked him in the shoulder, and told him to shut up.

He looked up at me with a grin. “For real?”

I nodded. “When do registrations close?”

His long finger pointed to the fine print at the bottom of the flyer—the day of the Awakening.

We had time. I was sooo winning this fight.

After interrogating Mikey for every last scrap of info on this Fight Night, I informed him that he was now the new groundskeeper. At least for the summer.

Once he got over the fact that he was going to have to actually do work to earn his keep, we all settled into a nice flow. He did the grounds keeping, and Shea and I trained our asses off. I told Raphael about the Tainted Army thing, but he didn’t seem surprised, only saddened.

Now we only had a few days left of summer, and the Awakening ceremony was tomorrow.

Shea stood in the gym, clutching her disc weapons, sweat dripping down her chest and a badass look in her eye. Lincoln stood before her, blue fiery sword held aloft.

“Cut me!” he roared, and Shea advanced. Her fists held the flat grips of the blades while the sharp semicircles lashed out, seeking to cut my man. Lincoln was a blur, so fast I could barely track him.

He and the boys had been training us hard. As I was distracted watching them, Noah kicked out my feet and suddenly I was falling. Next thing I knew, his blade was at my neck.

Frick.

He looked down at me, sweat glistening against his perfect porcelain skin. “When fighting two on two, you need to keep your eye on your own fight. Getting distracted with what Shea’s doing will only get you killed.”

He was right. When the time came, I needed to just worry about my own fight.

With a rapid spin, I turned out of reach of his sword and used my legs to scissor-kick him. As I connected with his legs, he came tumbling down, and I grappled to gain leverage, moving on top of him. As I was crawling up his body, in an effort to straddle him and try to pin him down, his hand shot out, chopping me in the throat.

Holy shitballs.

Pain exploded in my neck as I fought to breathe. A lump had formed in my throat, and I’d keeled over to the side in a weak defense.

   
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