Release Date: 07/01/14
Perfection comes at a price.
As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.
Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.
But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.
For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.
Praise for Perfected:
“Compelling, imaginative, and unique. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!”
— Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls
— Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls
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I sat in my room on the couch near the window staring out at the last bit of gold staining the sky. I couldn’t place the feeling growing inside me. It was as if the flavor of Ruby’s butterscotch and Penn’s music still lingered on my tongue, a taste that was both bittersweet and totally divine.
This place was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined, but it was more confusing, too. It felt as if a conversation was going on around me, but I could only hear bits and pieces of it, and now I was trying desperately to string those bits together to make a sentence that I could actually understand.
The room was growing dark, but I didn’t feel like turning on the bright light of the chandelier that hung at the end of my bed. In the shadows, I almost became a part of the room.
Miss Gellner had always admonished us to go to bed by nine o’clock each night. “Sleep feeds beauty,” she always used to say. But I wasn’t at all tired.
Just as I was about to get up from the couch to crawl into bed, there was a small tap at the door. Before I had a chance to respond, the door cracked open, letting the yellow light from the hallway spill into the room. The Congressman’s large body stood silhouetted in the doorframe.
“Ella?” he called, poking his head into the room.
I sat up straighter on the couch and arranged a content expression on my face.
“Please, come in,” I said, pressing down the tremble in my voice.
The Congressman strode into the room and sat beside me on the couch. The light was nearly gone from the sky and the only bit of illumination in the room was the yellow rectangle of light in the doorway. Sitting in the dark next to him felt too intimate, and I wished I had at least turned on a lamp.
“How was your first full day in your new house?” the Congressman asked.
“It was lovely.” My face flushed at the lie, thinking of all the things that had happened during the day that I knew I shouldn’t mention. Had he heard about that woman, Rhonda, and her crazy rant? Or about my swim in the pool? Or the forbidden piece of candy Ruby had given to me? I feared all of my secrets were written on my face as clearly as the words in Ruby’s book of fairytales, but the easy look on his face suggested he couldn’t see them.
“I brought you a little something,” the Congressman said.
I hadn’t noticed the small box he held until he placed it in my hands. The box was flat and rectangular, covered in soft, white satin.
“Go on, open it,” he said.
I cracked the lid and stared down at the gold chain that glittered ever so softly in the dim light. On the end of it was a round pendant. I lifted it up and held it towards the light so that I could see that the gold pendant was encircled with a ring of shining diamonds. Inside something was engraved in loopy script.
“It’s your name,” he said, reaching out to run his finger over the lettering. “And on the other side it has our address and phone number.” He cupped the side of my face in his hand. “Let me put it on you.”
My hands shook and I turned away from him, lifting the hair from off my back. The scooped back of my nightgown left me feeling bare, and without my hair to cover me a chill brought goose bumps to my skin.
The Congressman reached his large arms around my body so the cold metal of the pendant rested across my collarbone.
“Now you’ll never forget where you belong,” he whispered next to my ear.
I reached down and touched the front of the pendant. “It’s beautiful,” I said, “Thank you for thinking of me.”
“You’re easy to think about, Ella.”
My name sounded peculiar on his lips.
His hand still rested against the bare skin of my shoulder, but he didn’t attempt to move it. Leaning forward, he brushed his lips lightly against my cheek.
When I raised my eyes, the Congressman’s wife was standing in the doorway. In one fluid motion the Congressman removed his hand from my shoulder and scooted away from me.
“Elise, what wonderful timing,” he said, standing. “I just gave Ella her new tag.”
He stood and flipped on the light to the chandelier, casting the room with such bright, yellow light that I had to shield my eyes. Even so, I didn’t miss the strange look that passed across the Congressman’s wife’s face.
“Wonderful,” she said, walking across the room to where I sat. “Let’s have a look.”
She only gave the pendant a passing glance before turning to her husband.
“It’s late. Don’t you think we should let Ella get to sleep?”The Congressman nodded, smiling at his wife. “Goodnight, Love,” he called behind him. A moment later the two of them closed the door, leaving me alone under the bright lights of the chandelier.
About the Author:
Kate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit www.katejarvikbirch.com