False Hearts (False Hearts #1) - Laura Lam Page 0,1

sister feeds off my fear, grabbing my shirt so hard the fabric rips. “What the hell is going on, Tila?” I ask.

Expressions of fear and guilt flit across her face like shadows. “Please, Taema. Please. I have to get out of the city right now. Both of us do. Hide out somewhere. The Sierras? If only Mana’s Hearth would let us claim sanctuary.”

Mana’s Hearth is exempt from Pacifica jurisdiction. That she would mention going back, despite everything that happened ten years ago, and that she wants to bring me too, is what tells me just how serious this is. “Tila, slow down. What have you done?”

“I haven’t done anything, Taema. It didn’t happen the way they’ll say.” I can see the whites of her eyes, the tension lines around her mouth. Despite her surgery, her face reminds me too much of that last day in Mana’s Hearth when we thought we would die in that redwood forest.

The tips of my hands tingle and my vision swims. “OK. OK.” I force myself to try and calm down. “What haven’t you done?”

Sirens sound outside the high-rise apartment. I startle—you hardly ever hear them in San Francisco anymore. They’re growing louder.

Tila presses against me. “Oh God, they’ve found me. Must have tracked my VeriChip. I knew I should have torn it out. Can I hide? There must be somewhere I can hide!”

Her panic is infectious, but I have to be the pragmatic twin she expects. The twin she needs. “No point. All the police will have infrared sensors. If you didn’t do this, then it’ll be fine, right? They’ll take you in for questioning and then let you go.” I don’t want to be the calm twin. I want to grab her, shake her, demand she tell me what has happened and whose blood she’s wearing.

Tila only sobs, resting her hand just below my collarbone, right on my scar. I rest my hand on hers. I can feel the mechanical beating of her heart. Despite our obvious terror, our hearts beat at their same, steady pace.

“It’ll be all right, T,” I say. “I promise.”

She looks at me, dangerous and untamed. I barely recognize her. “You can’t promise that, T. You can’t promise that at all.”

Red and blue lights flash outside the window. A police hovercar floats outside the balcony, rain falling off its sides. The searchlight illuminates the room, paralyzing us in the bright beams. Three police jump down onto the tiny balcony, their boots splashing in the puddles on the concrete. Tila’s shaking, burrowing close to my side. I wrap my arm around her, but I’m shivering just as badly.

They open the sliding glass door, but too hard. The glass shatters. Fragments spill into my living room, as if the rain outside has crystallized.


“Really, now,” I say, looking at the glass and rain scattered across the living room. Fear shifts to anger. “Was that necessary?”

The police look between us. They are all wearing bulletproof Kalar vests over their sleek, dark blue uniforms. Cops almost never wear Kalars, not in this city that prides itself on its lack of crime. The whites of their eyes shimmer in the light with their extra implants.

An Indian-American woman with curly hair tamed in a knot at the nape of her neck clutches her gun, shifting her stance. The other man, white and brown-haired with a face so generically good-looking I’ll forget what he looks like as soon as he leaves the room, begins to make a perimeter of my apartment. Perhaps he thinks extra backup is hiding behind the couch. The last man, their leader, is