Lily has always been aware of frightening, malignant presences that linger in dark corners or come watch when a room gets too quiet. They silently move through Lily's world without issue. Even her little brother whose aura attracts Shadows and demons manages to stay safe by sticking close to her. After Lily meets brash, cavalier Zach Corona, things change; the demons and Shadows aren't content to observe anymore. They want her life!

"You can trust me," he whispered.

"Do you know what a Cogent is?"

Zach smiled and nodded. "I'm Cogent of the Norvak Covey. I wasn't informed that anyone had transferred. What covey are you from?"

Lily's smile faded as a terrible fear rolled through her gut. She'd once again found the people who sent the demon to kill her dad. Images of the demon and shadowy figures filled her head. The guy in the park so many years earlier had said he'd have someone contact them—a Cogent. The men selling a talisman. The horrible events that had followed came crashing into her mind along with her dad's warning.

"We'll have to be extra careful dealing with any Cogent. They aren't people to be trusted."

Zach's eyes flashed to Lily. He wanted answers. "When did you get your Macula?" He gestured to the bird shadow on her right arm.

"My birthmark?" She made a face. "Same time you got yours, dummy. I was born with it." The second she said it she knew she'd said too much.

He caught her left hand in his and flipped it over. The blank skin on her palm stared back at them. "Only Cogents and Paragons are born with their Macula. They also have a Ring of Fire." He held up his left palm. A circular mark like the one Lily had on her right palm burned bright. "When did you really get it?"

Lily's eyes darted from his palm to his face and back again. She inched away from him and fisted her right hand that bore the same mark.

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