Home > The Ever After (The Omte Origins # 3)

The Ever After (The Omte Origins # 3)
Author: Amanda Hocking



In the Air

Every night, I dream of an endless sky the color of a summer grapefruit, luminous and bright thanks to the three suns, and every morning, I wake up in a dank prison cell. I opened my eyes, expecting the same dark stone ceiling barely six feet above me, the same way I had for the past … alai, how long had it been?

But as I blinked my eyes, adjusting to the bright sunlight, and I saw the rows of people in navy blue seats, confusion and adrenaline surged through me like a nauseating electricity. I wasn’t in a prison cell in … wherever I’d been.

I reached over the passenger beside me, an old woman who snorted in irritation as I pushed open the tiny window shade. Below us was nothing but the vast blue ocean.

“We don’t reach land for another three hours,” she said huffily, and I muttered a thanks before closing the shade and leaning back in my seat.

In the back of the seat in front of me, a rumpled plane ticket had been shoved into the pocket, and I pulled it out. The name Emily Miller on top was the name I traveled under, with the fake documents that the Mimirin provided. The flight was going to Minneapolis, Minnesota, which was some relief because at least I was going home.

But how the hell had I gotten here?

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on the last thing I remembered. There were flashes of things, foggy images of a prison cell. And a young woman—pale with cobalt and white makeup painted across her eyes in thick lines like war paint—glaring at me with anger darkening her face. And an albino woolly elk, and a haunting choir singing about a morning flower.

Those were all vague and disconnected from each other, more impressions than true memories. I could remember fear but not what I had been afraid of.

The last thing I clearly remembered was … kissing Pan. In a hotel room, on the island city of Isarna.

So I kissed him, and I felt his restraint crumble. His hand was on my side, pressing into the soft flesh beneath my shirt, and he pushed me against the window. I wrapped my arms around him, kissing him deeply.

And then someone had interrupted. Had it been Dagny? Or was it Noomi?

Noomi. My half-sister.

My stomach rolled. She’d been so angry, but I couldn’t remember why.

Everything until Isarna I could still remember clearly. The four of us—my flatmate Dagny Kasten, her professor Elof Dómari, head researcher Pan Soriano, and myself—had gone to Sweden as ambassadors for the Mimirin—a respected troll library and institution of higher learning. We were on a mission to find the First City, my missing amnesiac friend Eliana, and my father. We had gotten so close.

But then it all disappeared into nothing. I couldn’t make sense of the glimpses I remembered.

I sat up straighter in my seat and looked around the cabin of the plane. I hadn’t gone to Isarna alone. When I tried to stand up, the seat belt pinched at my waist, so I unbuckled it and stood up too fast and banged my head on the overhead bin.

The man in the aisle seat got up, mistakenly thinking I was heading to the bathroom. But since he suggested it, it sounded like a good idea. The plane ticket was still balled up in my hand, and I surveyed the passengers as I walked down the aisle but didn’t recognize any of them.

In the tiny mirror above the even tinier sink, I saw my reflection for the first time in … in I had no idea how long. Above my left eye, the larger of my eyes, was a fresh bluish splotch of a bruise, but my face was pale and sallow. My tangles of dirty blond hair were pulled up in an especially messy bun.

And I finally looked down at the outfit I had on. A large gray sweater featuring a smiling cartoon moose under the phrase Glad Älg, two sizes too big for me, and indigo linen pants that were uncomfortably snug in the thighs and hips. These clothes weren’t mine.

I leaned back against the door and uncrumpled the ticket, looking for more clues about what was happening. The destination was the airport in Minnesota, which could explain why Pan, Dagny, and Elof weren’t on the same flight as me. They were probably going to Oregon, back to the Mimirin.

But why wasn’t I going back to the Mimirin too? Förening in Minnesota was my home, basically, where I’d lived before I left for my internship in June. But I had been renting an apartment in Merellä since then, and all my things were there.

Had I been kicked out of the Mimirin institution, or even the city of Merellä? And if I was, what of everyone else? Had Pan been sent to Ottawa, Elof to Ondarike, Dagny to Ningrava?

Then I finally noticed the date at the top of the ticket. 8 AUGUST 2019.

That couldn’t be right. We flew out of the States on the Fourth of July. I remembered watching the fireworks from the plane, and I could only account for a few days after that. That meant I was missing weeks.

A month of my life was just … gone.

I put my hand over my mouth to hold back the frightened sob that wanted to escape. I squeezed my eyes—

My mind instantly went to Pan, lying in a dark room, blood all over the floor. He gave me a hazy smile and told me, “I would follow you anywhere, and it’s worth whatever risk there is.”

—then I opened my eyes and took a deep breath. Freaking out in a cramped airplane bathroom wouldn’t help me or anyone else, no matter how badly I wanted to.

I splashed cold water on my face, and when I left the bathroom, I went straight to find a flight attendant.

She was a middle-aged woman with dyed bright red hair and kind eyes, and her name tag said Kirsten. She listened politely and answered my questions, even when they bordered on the ridiculous. Like “What day is it?” and “Are you sure that’s the correct date?”

When I asked, “Did you see me get on the plane with anyone else?” that’s when her expression changed to concern.

“Are you in trouble?” she asked me quietly, her kind eyes studying me. “Did you board the plane against your will?”

Maybe. Probably. I have no idea.

“Um, no.” I shook my head and forced a smile. The last thing I needed was a human police force getting involved, especially with their highly sensitive airport security. “Just really jet-lagged.” I laughed, a brittle sound that didn’t help at all. “Can I get a ginger ale?”

She sent me back to my seat with a plastic cup of soda, and she kept an eye on me the rest of the flight. I sipped the soda, ignoring the queasy feeling it gave me in my stomach. When Kirsten the flight attendant was busy elsewhere, I slid out of the seat and checked my overhead bin for my duffel bag, but it was empty of any recognizable luggage.

I hadn’t been able to find anything around the seat, besides the crumpled ticket, and I had my fake “Emily Miller” passport in my pocket. That was all I had on me. I was traveling across the ocean with no cell phone, no money, no one I knew, nothing. And I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side.





The hyper-surveillance in airports made me uneasy, so I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. But I couldn’t give up on the hope that there was something waiting for me in baggage claim.

As I waited, I chewed my lip and tried to come up with a plan if I was stranded alone in a large human metropolis. Then, as I tried to remember if pay phones were still a thing in the human world, I heard a familiar voice saying my name.

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