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by Lori R. Lopez

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No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any

media without written permission from the author, except

brief excerpts in critical reviews and articles.

This is a work of fiction.

Copyright © 2012 by Lori R. Lopez

Front Cover Illustration by Lori R. Lopez

Smashwords Edition

A GUY SO GAUNT he scarce cast a shadow in the sun hiked the roadside, jacket folded over the crook of his arm, a white buttoned shirt damp with perspiration. Air outside the city was refreshing and clean after the stale oily fumes of congestion and machines. He preferred the simpler existence he had known in the carnival, where a child fleeing abuse found a home; where he'd been employed a dozen years. The enterprise had failed due to a harsh economic climate, the troupe of unconventional misfits disbanded. And there he was — out of work, homeless, back to being on his own — once again the victim of manmade circumstance.

His first family had been as dysfunctional as the second, but with the "carnies" (a term they didn't appreciate) Darius Exavier blended in. He belonged. Exavier was a stage name. Originally his surname, the brand administered at birth, had been something else. That was a long time ago, an abstract surrealist point in his life that had blurred in the distance. The city behind him was now such a blur. A vast relief to walk away from. Crowds of people in cramped spaces. Human wolves and sharks circling. Clamor and paranoia, combined with the stench of misery and lost hope.

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