I thought I knew myself. Then I met Caleb.
Dez is a good girl who does as she's told and tries not to be noticed. Then she rescues a boy from a cage, and he tells her secrets about herself. Now inside her burns a darkness that will transform her.
Everything is about to change--and neither Caleb, nor the Otherkin, nor those who hunt them, are prepared for what Dez will unleash.
"Be prepared to lose some sleep. Otherkin is full of non-stop action and suspense, and you're not going to be able to put it down!" --Brigid Kemmerer, author of the Elemental series
"Get caught up in a dangerous world of shadow magic, shifters, and secrets." --New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Estep
"Berry's debut offers just the right combination of high-stakes exploits and steamy love scenes to keep readers up until the wee hours. . .ripe with issues that will resonate with readers. From body image to friendship, first love and betrayal, [OTHERKIN] explores the truth that no matter who or what you are, there's no escaping the politics of high school." - Kirkus Reviews
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July 30, 2012
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Excerpt from Otherkin by Nina Berry
"Freak." I tore off the back brace and threw it on the floor. "Why'd you let him touch you?"
I stared at the brace, anger curling in my gut. It sat tilted on the floor like an ancient broken statue with no head, no arms, no legs.
Oh God, it had happened. A cute boy had asked me out. And not just any cute boy, but Jake fricking Peters, hottest senior in school, who could have any girl he wanted. He'd not only invited me to the lame-ass dance this weekend, he'd put his hands on my waist as he did it. Only to feel my rock-hard robot contours. I pressed my hands to my heated cheeks. Shame had seared the scene into my memory.
"What's that?" Jake had asked as his fingers grazed my hip. His eyes lit with surprise.
"Nothing." I backed away from him, avoiding his gaze. I'd known this would happen. I knew getting close to anyone was a mistake. "I . . . I've got to get home. See you later." The words rattled out of me, and I had scuttled away.
Now I breathed deep, trying to squash my rising frustration. At least I was home where nothing could touch me. Safe in my own room. With Mom and Richard out at work, I was alone, where no one would laugh at me, or pity me, or call me a mutant.
I peeled off the sweaty undershirt I had to wear under the thing and hurled it into the laundry. God, I hate those stupid shirts. I slid my hand around my own waist, the waist no boy could ever put his arm around.
I wasn't that goddamn brace, not anymore. To hell with the brace! I looked around for something to hit it with, something to break it, so I'd never have to wear it again.
But there was nothing. Nothing but my bare hands.
Even as I yanked it off the floor, a small part of my brain knew this wasn't like me. I never flew into rages or whined about the brace. I was a good girl, a nice girl, and tantrums were for people with no self-control.
But I'd worn the damned thing twenty-three hours a day for two years to prevent my spine from curving further, donning baggy clothes to hide it, unable to bend, enduring the agony as it fought against my body, unable to swim or climb trees, avoiding any proximity to boys.
Something had snapped. I pulled and scraped at it with my bare hands, trying to tear it apart, fingernails splintering. But the plastic wouldn't give. The surface didn't even scratch.
Rage blazed through me, so hot I thought I'd explode. I screamed. A convulsive thrust of power shot from the center of my chest along my spine, down my limbs, and out of every pore. The scream became a full-throated roar. I dropped my hands to the ground. Only they weren't hands anymore, but huge paws, orange on top, white around the claws, striped brownish black. I whipped around, trying to see myself.
What? A long, thickly furred tail knocked the lamp off my nightstand. This can't be happening.
The crash of the lamp sounded like an explosion. I crouched, tail tucked between my back legs, and looked up to see my reflection in the mirror on my closet door. Had I gone insane? Great golden eyes blinked back at me. I flinched. The tiger in the mirror winced too, ears back, white whiskers bristling.
I barely had time to take in my orange coat, white underbelly, and wide pattern of dark stripes when a loud thwack sounded from my bedroom window. Something stabbed into my side. A growl of pain and surprise escaped me. A dart lodged in the pale fur beneath my right front leg. Pain ran up my body, too real to be a dream.
I looked up to see a young man, almost angelically blond, dressed all in white, standing outside my window with a rifle. The screen was torn. He'd broken a couple of stakes Mom and I used to get the tomatoes to climb. We stared at each other. His face was alive and hot with anticipation. Burning pain spread through my veins from the dart. Instinctively, I gathered my new body to leap at him. He fired again. Another barb speared my shoulder, and I reeled back.
I snarled at him and tried to stand. But a painful lethargy took over. I shook my head, trying to clear it. Air whipped across my whiskers, a strange sensation.
An older man, also in white, joined the first to observe me through the window. He clapped a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Good job, son," he said.
"It's taking two," his son said. "She's strong for one so young."
The older man had a head of thick silver hair. His even teeth flashed almost blue white as he smiled. "We'll see about that," he said.
And everything went black.