So I’m a seer. A Cognizant under the Mandate.
Life should be easy now, right?
With all the “accidents” that keep befalling me, I’ll be lucky to survive the week. That is, if my crazy boss doesn’t work me to death first...
Sasha Urban, Tome 2: Misfortune Teller
I GROAN, opening my eyes.
The bedroom is spinning, and a horde of drummers are using my brain to practice “Death Metal’s greatest hits.”
How much did I drink at the Jubilee?
All I recall is people with two glasses of alcohol, one for them, one for me—and me giving in to peer pressure.
Sitting up, I slide my feet into my slippers. Moving makes my skull feel like a white dwarf star about to explode into a supernova.
With superhuman effort, I navigate to the bathroom.
If walking with a hangover were a sport, I’d get a gold medal.
A pale ghost of my already-pasty self looks out of the bathroom mirror with huge bloodshot blue eyes and a jet-black mop of hair.
Looking at the toilet generates flashbacks of me hugging the white marble, and I vaguely recall Ariel and Felix fighting for the honor of holding back my hair.
After a thorough shower and five minutes of brushing my teeth, my mind clears enough for me to decide that this hangover is the worst of my life.
I’m never drinking again.
At least I had a good reason to get so trashed—the Jubilee is a big deal. It was my entry into Cognizant society, the secret race that includes psychics (like me), descendants of Hercules (like my roommate Ariel), and whatever techno-thing Felix is. Not to mention, vampires, werewolves, necromancers, and who knows what else.
I stumble back into my room and strongly debate skipping work. The problem with this idea is that my boss Nero is now my Mentor in the Cognizant world—a role with as-yet-unclear meaning. Last night, after informing me about a raise, he demanded I research two new biotech stocks for our portfolio by 11:00 a.m.—and it’s already 7:45, so I don’t have much time.
Figuring I should break the problem into smaller chunks, I decide to jam some liquids and electrolytes into myself, to see if that makes me feel human again. Though maybe the expression should be “Cognizant again,” since we don’t seem to be human.
Dressing in my most comfortable work clothes, I waddle into the kitchen and find Felix by the stove.
“Morning, party girl,” he says with an annoyingly cheerful smile. “Do you want eggs or oatmeal?”
Felix’s face is a melting pot of Slavic, Asian, and Middle Eastern features, and he’s the only person I know who looks endearing when wiggling a bushy unibrow.
“Whatever works better for a hangover,” I croak, the smell of food failing to entice me for once.
Felix nods and fusses over the stove as I watch the kitchen spin.
“I’ve put some salt and bananas into your oatmeal,” he says a moment later, his voice much too loud for my comfort. He sets the bowl in front of me with a skull-shattering bang. “Let me also pour you some juice and tea.”
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