Title: Finding North
Author: Allyson Gottlieb
Series: Compass #1
Cover Design: Cover Me, Darling!
Sometimes you have to lose everything to find what you’ve really been looking for.
Katherine Zova spends her days patching up soldiers in the Alliance’s army while praying for time to heal the wounds on her own broken heart. Crushing loss numbs her waking hours and nightmares threaten her sanity when she closes her eyes. All she wants is to be free, but instead she’s forced to trade one cage for another.
Reynan Caverly wears his uniform only out of loyalty to his father, who in his quest to build a new America has little time to spend with his only son. Indifferent to his sensational Las Vegas lifestyle, all he wants is to feel a connection with someone. A seemingly impossible request—until the day he finds a girl with haunting eyes in a group of captured Alliance soldiers.
Some wounds cut too deep to deal with alone. Sometimes only love can heal. But in a country torn apart by civil war, nothing comes without a price. And for Kat and Reynan, falling in love may cost more than they’re willing to pay.
Reynan was smiling at me in a way that made me ever so slightly nervous again. “You sound so happy when you talk about home. I can tell you really love it there.”
My stomach muscles tensed involuntarily. This was skating dangerously close to subjects from last night’s interrogation.
These were Reynan’s kind eyes looking back at me, though, not the cold, cruel stare of his father. So I took another deep breath and said, “I have some pretty good memories, yes.”
“What was the school system like? I’ve been homeschooled all my life, for one reason or another, so I’ve never really seen a public school.”
I started to laugh, then covered it with a cough. “Public school sucks. Be thankful you didn’t have to deal with disgusting cafeteria food, lockers that stick, and butt-ugly PE uniforms.” He chuckled as I continued, “Homeschooled…I can’t imagine what that must be like.”
“Yeah, well, it was pretty nice. My father made me do a lot of physical training, but as far as book-learning, I got a lot of choice about what I studied, so I stopped doing math as soon as I could get away with it.”
“Nice.” I smirked. “My mom made me take it all through high school. Calculus was the bane of my existence.”
“That sucks.” He looked away, shoving his hands in his pockets as he added, “It was lonely, though. Homeschooling.”
There was a weight in my chest that felt a lot like sympathy. “Did you have a favorite subject?” I asked, trying to take my mind off that topic before I thought too long about it. “Mine was English.”
“I liked history, which is kind of a useless subject in some ways. If you really think about it, though, somebody had to write these books, which is kind of like playing God. Can you imagine trying to sum up all of human existence into a “greatest hits” reel? That’s some serious power right there. Then I wonder what the history books will look like in a hundred years, and how much of what’s important to me, what I lived through, will end up preserved for future generations to learn about.”
I sucked in a breath, the indirect reminder of the current state of the country—of the war, and our positions on opposite sides of it—like a bucket of freezing water over my head, a shock to my system. Moreover, there was the realization that until then, we’d been chatting away like a pair of actual friends.
I tried to put some space between us, but the passage was barely wide enough for two people to walk comfortably side by side. I was grateful when it widened out into a small chamber. More pictures and hieroglyphics covered the walls, and a gold sarcophagus lay in the center on a slightly raised platform.
I stroked my fingers over the top, shivering slightly at the cool metal. “This place is awesome,” I said, in an attempt to break the awkward silence that had settled in between us like an old friend. “I can’t imagine what kind of fun—and trouble—you must have gotten into as a kid with the Strip as your playground.”
Reynan forced a slight smile, though his expression was tense, almost pained. “I didn’t always live here.”
The tone of his voice, while not entirely standoffish, definitely seemed to shut down any further line of inquiry.
All these hints and scraps of information had me wondering about his childhood. It couldn’t have been traditional, given who his father was, and I startled myself with the realization that I actually wanted to know more about it—more about him.
Somehow, despite all my best attempts to stay detached, I’d started to care just a little bit about him. Even that little bit scared me, because I knew how easy it was for something like that to grow into more.
Growing up, Allyson was always the girl with a big imagination and even bigger dreams. A California girl by birth, she currently lives in Boston while attending Emerson College. She has a slight addiction to Stabucks, eyeliner, and chocolate—and, of course, books.