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Chapter One

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"Remember to set your alarm, Avery," my mother shouted from downstairs. Despite Katherine Montgomery's small stature, she had a loud, stern voice. I was in the middle of brushing my teeth, so I couldn't respond to her right away. "Avery! Did you hear what I just said?"

"Yes, Mom!" I opened the bathroom door so she could hear me clearly. "I got it. I'm brushing my teeth."

"Tomorrow is a big day. You need to be prepared in case you meet your soul mate."

Soul mate.

I shuddered. That word alone ignited the same reaction I got from watching a horror movie alone in my bedroom at midnight. I could always turn off the movie, but there was no escaping my fate.

I was seventeen now, but I would turn eighteen on December 22. I would be attending my first Gathering to awaken my clairaudient ability. Thinking about the long procession, the formality, and the fact that I had to dress up for the occasion was exhausting. After all, there was no guarantee that your soul mate would be at the Gathering in your first year—or even your fifth or sixth. Or even at all. Sometimes a Hellenicus died still waiting to meet their soul mate. My mom came upstairs and we met in the hallway.

"Hurry up and get to sleep. Eye bags aren't attractive."

"Mom, relax. Maybe I won't meet mine this year," I said.

"But maybe you will," she said. "I met your dad during my first Gathering. Not everyone's so lucky to meet their soul mate at their first Gathering, but we're the descendants of—"

"Tyche, the goddess of luck," I said, having been reminded at least a dozen times a day. Everyone knew that it was impossible for Regulars to trace their lineage, so it drove me crazy that she insisted we were the descendants of Tyche. I had just about the worst luck in the world, which convinced me that my mom had no idea what she was talking about.

"Exactly. We're descendants of the goddess of luck! You should know better that—"

What if she was right? What if I did meet my soul mate this year? My body instinctively shivered at the thought.

The other Hellenicus would be surprised if they knew how repulsed I was at the prospect of reuniting with my soul mate. Most claimed that having a soul mate was romantic and that we should be grateful for Apollo's gift of the click. But for me, having a soul mate was more like being subject to an arranged marriage that I could never run away from, even if I wanted to. Once I was Awakened, it would be possible for me to have a click that would cause my soul mate's mind to be instantly linked to mine. I would always be able to hear my soul mate's thoughts, and they would always be able to hear mine. If that wasn't a total breach of privacy, I didn't know what was. And the idea of being tied to someone I possibly didn't even know existed until the day we were revealed to be soul mates was the icing on the cake.

Honestly, I'd prefer to be a Nescient. At least they could ignore the whole soul-mate situation if they wanted to. Of course, this was all merely wishful thinking. As a Hellenicus I was destined to be reunited with my soul mate in the most invasive way possible.

"—girls pray to Aphrodite, wishing to be reunited with their soul mate as soon as possible. You should be praying too. Let me see if I can get—"

"Mom." I stopped her before she signed me up for some obscure Greek ritual that I didn't even know about. "It's late. Didn't you say you wanted me to get to sleep early?"

"Yes," she said. "Go back to your room and have a good rest."

I quickly headed to my bedroom before my mom had a change of heart. It was rare for us not to bicker, and I knew that I should cherish this moment. As I lay down on my bed and stared at the ceiling, I thought about how impossible it was to escape my destiny. It was so disheartening.

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