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Shattered Legacy

Gravestone Elite Book One

Caitlyn Dare

Copyright © 2021 by Caitlyn Dare

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Edited by Pinpoint Editing

Proofreading by Sisters Get Lit.erary



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About the Author

Also by Caitlyn Dare

Taunt Her



“You’re not ready?” My mother freezes in the doorway, her expression slipping. “But we leave in less than an hour.”

“Do I have to go?” I protest. “The whole thing seems like such a waste of time when we all know he’s going to be paired with Brook.”

Not that I would ever want to hear my name called. But at least if there was even a shred of mystery around which girl was going to be chosen as Cade Kingsley’s prosapia, it would give the evening some entertainment value.

“Mia, sweetheart,” she comes up behind me and places her perfectly manicured hands on my shoulders, “the Eligere is a rite of passage, you know this.”

My stomach twists. “But it’s just so… so archaic. Dressing us up like virginal brides in front of all those people…”

No, thank you.

“Mia, this isn’t a punishment, it’s a gift.” She lets out a soft sigh. “I know Cade showed preference to Brook during the courting phase, but it doesn’t mean anything. Only Quinctus can decide the fate of an Electi.”

God, she makes it all sound so normal, when living in a town like Gravestone is anything but.

As soon as you start high school, you hear the whispers about this place, the traditions… the strange rules. And if you’re lucky enough—or unlucky enough, as the case may be—to descend from one of the founding families, you get to reign supreme over the rest of us lowly folk, forcing us to partake in these ridiculous rites of passage.

Please. What girl with even an ounce of self-respect and aspirations wants to end up tied to one of the Electi?

The Chosen.

The heirs of Quinctus.

If you ask me, it’s just a smokescreen for some really messed up arranged marriage scandal.

A scandal I have no desire to be a party to.

I want to escape this town and its fucked-up traditions… but part of me can’t deny I am slightly intrigued. Nobody gets to know what happens behind the doors of Gravestone Hall.

And tonight, I have an open invitation.

“Please, Mia, don’t make this any more difficult than it needs to be. Your father—”

“Yes, mother,” I snipe. “I’ll be ready.”

Because that’s what you do in a place like Gravestone. You follow the rules, smile where necessary, and always respect your elders.

Of course, it isn’t like that for every teenager in Gravestone. Some have the luxury of moving into the area and having zero ties with the founding families. Unlike me. Our name, Thompson, descends from the Cargill line. My great grams was a Cargill until she married a Thompson… and here I am, bound to this strange life, expected to fall in line just because of my name.

“The car leaves in,”—she checks her diamond-encrusted Rolex, an anniversary gift from my father—“forty minutes.”

“I said I’ll be ready.” It’s not like I’m trying to impress anyone. The dress code for the Eligere is written in lore. All girls of age from the founding bloodlines—or verus line, as we call it—must enter the choosing at least once.

Although they are rarely picked.

My mother leaves me alone, and I begin to dress. The white gown flows over my slender form like a waterfall. I take my time braiding my dark blonde hair into a crown across my head and then pin the remaining curls into place with golden tipped pins. Adding a dusting of blush to my cheeks, I smear a lick of kohl liner under my eyes. The girl staring back at me in the mirror looks meek and innocent. A girl on the cusp of becoming a young woman.

In mere weeks, I will start college. But tonight, I will stand in front of Cade Kingsley as a prosapia.

A trickle of trepidation races down my spine. Everybody knows Cade and the Electi, even those who don’t understand what it all means. He’ll be a senior at Gravestone University in the fall, but I can still remember Cade as a senior in high school. I was in ninth grade, and he was everything I wasn’t. Popular. Confident. Gorgeous.

Cade Kingsley, heir to the Kingsley line and notorious playboy, is finally going to discover the identity of his future wife.

And I am one of the offerings.

Gravestone Hall is the imposing gothic building that sits at the end of Prosperous Street. The entire town has been built leading toward it, making it the beacon landmark. The huge limestone bricks give it an eerie quality as shadows dance over the frontage.

“Ready?” my father asks me, squeezing my hand.

I give him a polite nod, unable to speak over the nervous energy pinging in my stomach. It’s silly, really. We all know the outcome of tonight’s Eligere.

The car pulls forward outside the steps leading up to the entrance, and the door opens. “Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, welcome,” a young man says, reaching in to offer my mother his hand.

She climbs out elegantly, her silk gown swishing around her body. Temperance Thompson is always the picture of refinement. She thinks a woman’s worth amounts to the designers she wears. It’s something I didn’t inherit. I did, however, inherit her hazel eyes and soft, dark blonde curls. Usually I wear them down, hanging like a cape over my shoulders. Tonight, however, they are intricately arranged on my head, leaving my shoulders

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