Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals.
Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope.
In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.
I unfortunately won’t be sharing a book review, but I am excited to share these quote posters I created for Batman: Nightwalker!
“I’m wondering at what point someone makes the flip from a child into a killer.” – Batman: Nightwalker, Marie Lu
“The world is more dangerous than you give it credit for, Bruce.” – Batman: Nightwalker, Marie Lu
“Just because one can doesn’t mean one should.” – Batman: Nightwalker, Marie Lu
“The world will always have liars and traitors and thieves, but there were still those who are good at heart.” – Batman: Nightwalker, Marie Lu
“Trust nothing. Suspect everything. Go out and see color for yourself.” – Batman: Nightwalker, Marie Lu
If Bruce Wayne belonged in any car, it was this one: a brand- new, custom Aston Martin, mean and sleek and charcoal black, embellished with a stripe of metallic shine along its roof and hood.
Now he pushed the car to its limits, indulging in the roar of its engines, the way it responded to his slightest touch as it hugged the sunset streets right outside Gotham City. The vehicle was a gift from WayneTech, fitted with the latest WayneTech security features— a historic collaboration between the legendary car maker and the Wayne empire.
Now the tires screeched in protest as Bruce hit another sharp turn.
“I heard that,” said Alfred Pennyworth from the car’s live video touch screen. He gave Bruce a withering look. “A bit slower on the turns, Master Wayne.”
“Aston Martins weren’t made for slow turns, Alfred.”
“They weren’t made to be wrecked, either.”
Bruce smiled sidelong at his guardian. The setting sun glinted off his aviator sunglasses as he turned the car back in the direction of Gotham City’s skyscrapers. “No faith in me at all, Alfred,” he said lightly. “You’re the one who taught me how to drive in the first place.”
“And did I teach you to drive like a demon possessed?”
“A demon possessed with skills,” Bruce clarified. He spun the steering wheel in a smooth motion. “Besides, it’s a gift from Aston Martin, and it’s armed to the teeth with WayneTech security. The only reason I’m driving it at all is to show off its safety capabilities at the benefit tonight.”
Alfred sighed. “Yes. I remember.”
“And how can I do that properly without testing what this masterpiece can do?”
“Displaying WayneTech security at a benefit isn’t the same thing as using it to tempt death,” Alfred replied, his tone drier than ever. “Lucius Fox asked you to take the car to the party so that the press can do a proper write- up about it.”
Bruce made another hairpin turn. The car calculated the road ahead instantly, and on the windshield, he saw a series of transparent numbers appear and fade. Responding with uncanny precision, the car was in perfect sync with the road as it mapped out the surrounding terrain down to the last detail.
“That’s exactly what I’m doing,” Bruce insisted, wide- eyed. “Trying to get it there on time.”
Alfred shook his head tragically as he dusted a windowsill at Wayne Manor, the sunlight casting his pale skin in shades of gold. “I’m going to kill Lucius for thinking this was a good idea.”
An affectionate smile lingered on Bruce’s lips. Sometimes he thought his guardian bore a remarkable resemblance to a timber wolf, with his attentive, world- weary winter- blue gaze. A few strands of white had started to streak Alfred’s hair over the past few years, and the crow’s- feet lining the corners of his eyes had deepened. Bruce wondered if he was the reason for it. At the thought, he slowed down just a little.
It was that time of evening when people could catch a glimpse of bats heading out into the night to hunt. As Bruce reached the inner city, he spotted a cloud of them silhouetted against the dimming sky, circling out of the city’s dark corners to join the rest of their colony.
Bruce felt the familiar tug of nostalgia. His father had once designated land near the Wayne mansion as one of the largest bat havens in the city. Bruce still had childhood memories of crouching there in awe on the front lawn, his toy gadgets forgotten as Dad pointed out the creatures streaming into the dusk by the thou-sands, sweeping across the sky in an undulating stripe. They were individuals, Dad had said, and yet they still knew, somehow, to move as one.
At the memory, Bruce’s hand tightened against the steering wheel. His father should be here, sitting in the passenger seat and observing the bats with him. But that, of course, was impossible.
The streets turned grungier as Bruce got closer to downtown, until the skyscrapers blocked out the lowering sun and shrouded alleyways in shadows. He streaked past Wayne Tower and the Seco Financial Building, where a few tents were pitched in its alleys— a stark contrast, poverty right next to a rich financial beacon. Nearby was the Gotham City Bridge, its repainting half finished. A collection of dilapidated, low- income homes sat haphazardly underneath it.
Bruce didn’t remember the city looking this way when he was younger— he had a memory of Gotham City as an impressive jungle of concrete and steel, filled with a rotation of expensive cars and doormen in black coats, the scent of new leather and men’s cologne and women’s perfume, the gleaming lobbies of fancy hotels, the deck of a yacht facing the city lights illuminating the harbor.
With his parents at his side, he’d only seen the good— not the graffiti, or the trash in the gutters, or the abandoned carts and people huddled in shadowed corners, jingling coins in paper cups. As a sheltered child, he’d seen only what Gotham City could give you for the right price, and none of what it did to you for the wrong one.
That had all changed on one fateful night.
Bruce had known he would be lingering on thoughts of his parents today, the day his trust funds opened. But as much as he braced himself for it, the memories still cut at his heart.
He pulled onto the road curving up toward Bellingham Hall. A red carpet spanned the front sidewalk and went up the steps, and a bevy of paparazzi had gathered beside the road, their cameras already flashing at his car.
Bruce realized that Alfred was still talking to him about safety. “I’m listening, Alfred,” he said.
“I doubt that. Did you hear me tell you to schedule a meeting with Lucius Fox tomorrow? You’re going to be working with him all summer— you should at least start putting together a detailed plan.”
“Yes, sir.” Alfred paused to fix him with a stern look. “And behave your-self tonight. Understood?”
“My plan is to stand still in a corner and not make a sound.”
“Very funny, Master Wayne. I’ll hold you to your word.”
“No birthday wishes for me, Alfred?”
At that, a smile finally slipped onto Alfred’s face, softening his stern features. “And happy eighteenth, Master Wayne.” He nodded once. “You are Martha’s boy, hosting this event. She would be proud of you.”
Bruce closed his eyes for a moment at the mention of his mother. Instead of celebrating her birthday every year, she would throw a benefit, and the money raised went straight into the Gotham City Legal Protection Fund, a group that defended those who couldn’t afford to defend themselves in court. Bruce would carry on her tradition tonight, now that the responsibility for his family’s fortune had officially fallen on his shoulders.
You are Martha’s boy. But Bruce just shrugged off the praise, unsure how to accept it. “Thanks, Alfred,” he replied. “Don’t wait up for me.”
The two ended the call. Bruce pulled to a stop in front of the hall, and for a heartbeat he let himself sit there, stilling his emotions while the paparazzi shouted at him from outside the car.
He had grown up under the spotlight, had endured years of headlines about him and his parents. EIGHT-YEAR-OLD BRUCE WAYNE SOLE WITNESS TO PARENTS’ MURDER! BRUCE WAYNE SET T INHERIT FORTUNE! EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD BRUCE WAYNE NOW THE WORLD’S WEALTHIEST TEEN! On and on and on.
Alfred had filed restraining orders against photographers be-fore for pointing their long lenses at Wayne Manor’s windows, and Bruce had once run home from elementary school in tears, terrified of the eager paparazzi who had nearly hit him with their cars. He’d spent the first few years trying to hide from them— as if holing away in his room at the manor somehow meant that the tabloids wouldn’t make up new rumors.
But you either hid from reality, or you dealt with it. And overtime, Bruce had built up a shield, had negotiated an unspoken truce with the press. He would show up with his carefully cultivated public demean-or, let them take the photos they wanted. In return, they’d shine the spotlight on the issue of his choice. And right now that issue was WayneTech’s work to make Gotham City safer— everything from new security technology for the city’s bank accounts to drones that aided the Gotham City Police Department to auto safety features that they would release for free, open- source technology to all car-makers.
Over the years, Bruce had spent countless nights hunched at his bedroom desk, listening obsessively to police scanners and following cold cases on his own. He had burned out dozens of light-bulbs while deconstructing WayneTech prototypes under his desk lamp in the darkness before dawn, holding up glittering microchips and artificial joints, studying the technology his corporation was making to improve the city’s safety.
If forwarding that agenda meant being in the news, well then, so be it.
As a valet rushed over to open his car door, Bruce veiled his discomfort, stepped out with a single, graceful move, and gave the reporters a flawless smile. The cameras went into overdrive. A pair of bodyguards in black suits and dark shades shoved people back, clearing a path for him, but the reporters still crowded in, their microphones extended, shouting questions.
“Are you looking forward to your graduation?” “Are you enjoying your new wealth?” “How do you feel about being the world’s youngest billionaire?” “Who are you dating, Bruce?” “Hey, Bruce, look this way! Give us a smile!”
Bruce obliged, offering them an easy grin. He knew he photo-graphed well— long and lean, his blue eyes dark as sapphire against his white complexion, his black hair perfectly smoothed back, his suit tailored and oxfords polished. “Good evening,” he said as he stood for a moment in front of the car.
“Bruce!” one paparazzo shouted. “Is that car your first purchase?” He winked. “Enjoying your trust fund already?”
Bruce just looked at him steadily, refusing to take the bait. “This is the newest Aston Martin on the market, fully equipped with WayneTech safety technology. You are welcome to explore its interior tonight for an exclusive first look.” He held his hand out toward the car, where one of his suited guards had opened the door for the press to peek in. “Thank you all for covering my mother’s benefit tonight. It means a lot to me.”
He continued talking for a bit about the charity that the event would support, but everyone shouted right over him, ignoring his words. Bruce faced them wearily, and for an instant, he felt alone and outnumbered. His gaze scanned past the tabloid paparazzi, searching for the journalists from official papers. He could already see the headlines tomorrow: BRUCE WAYNE BLOWS NEW MONEY ON MILLION-DOLLAR CAR! TRUST FUND BABY WASTES NO TIME! But interspersed with those would hopefully be a few true headlines, detailing the work being done at WayneTech. That was what mattered. So he lingered, enduring the photos.
After letting the cameras flash wildly for a few moments, Bruce made his way up toward the hall’s entrance. Other guests lingered at the top of the stairs—members of Gotham City’s upper class, the occasional council member, clusters of admirers. Bruce found himself categorizing everyone in the crowd. It was a survival skill he’d learned since his parents’ deaths. There were the people who’d invite him to dinner only in an attempt to get gossip out of him. The people willing to betray friends in order to become his. The occasional wealthy classmate who’d spread lies about him out of bitter envy. The ones who’d do anything to get a date with him and then share the details with the rags the next morning.
But on the surface, he kept his cool, greeting everyone politely. Only a few more steps until he’d reach the entrance. All he had to do was make it inside, and then he could find—
A familiar voice cut above the chaos. Bruce looked up to where a girl was standing on tiptoe and waving at him from the top of the stairs. Dark hair skimmed her shoulders, and the hall’s floor lights highlighted her brown skin and the round curve of her hips. There was glitter woven into the fabric of her dress, shimmering silver as she moved. “Hey!” she called. “Over here!”
Bruce’s careful demeanor dissolved in relief. Dianne Garcia. Category: genuine.
As he reached her, she instinctively turned her back on the crowd stuck behind the velvet rope at the bottom of the stairs in an attempt to shield him from the flashing cameras.
“Fashionably late on your birthday?” she said with a grin. He gave her a grateful wink and leaned down closer to her ear. “Always.”
“This benefit is insane,” she went on. “I think you might set a new record for how much money it’ll raise.”
“Thank god,” he replied, throwing an arm around her neck. “Otherwise I’d have put up with all the cameras down there for nothing.”
She laughed. This was the girl who had once punched a tooth out of a kid for harassing her friends, who had memorized the en-tire first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities in senior- year English to win a bet, and who could spend an hour staring at a menu only to order the same burger she always got. Now Dianne shoved him off in affectionate protest, grabbed his arm, and led him through the open doors of the hall, leaving the paparazzi behind.
Inside, the lighting was dim, an atmospheric blue, and chandeliers hung from the high ceilings, glinting bright silver and white. Ice sculptures and spreads of food covered long banquet tables, while another table was lined with rows of auction items, all trembling slightly from the beat of the music.
“I thought you had a college interview today,” he said over the noise as Dianne swiped a lemon tart from one of the dessert stands. “Not that I’m complaining about you being here, of course.”
“It was earlier,” Dianne replied through a mouthful of pastry. “It’s okay. My lola needed me home in the afternoon to pick up my brother, and besides, I couldn’t bear the thought of robbing you of my company tonight.” She leaned in, her voice dropping to an ominous whisper. “That was my way of saying I didn’t get you anything.”
“Nothing at all?” Bruce put a hand over his heart in mock pain. “You wound me.”
“If you’d like, I could always bake you a cake.”
“Please don’t.” The last time Dianne had attempted to make cookies, she’d set Bruce’s kitchen on fire, and they’d spent the next hour hiding the scorched kitchen drapes so that Alfred wouldn’t know.
Dianne squeezed his arm once. “You’ll just have to settle for diner food tonight, then.”
Years ago, Bruce, Harvey, and Dianne had all agreed to forgo birthday presents in exchange for an annual date at their favorite local diner. It would be where they’d meet up tonight, too, after the benefit ended, and Bruce could shed the billionaire and just be a boy on the cusp of graduating from high school, getting teased by two of his best friends over fat burgers and thick milk shakes. He smiled in anticipation at the thought.
“Well?” he asked Dianne. “How’d the interview go?”
“The interviewer didn’t faint in horror at my answers, so I’m going out on a limb to say it went well.” She shrugged.
And that was Dianne’s way of saying she’d aced it, just like she aced everything else in life. Bruce had come to recognize her shrug whenever she tried to downplay an achievement— getting a perfect score on her entrance exams, being admitted to every university she applied to, and speaking as their class valedictorian at graduation next month.
“Congratulations,” he said. “Although you’ve probably already heard that from Harvey.”
She smiled. “All Harvey’s done tonight is beg me not to leave him alone on the dance floor. You know how much his two left feet love to dance.”
Bruce laughed. “Isn’t he alone on the floor right now?”
Dianne grinned mischievously. “Oh, he can survive for two minutes.”
The music grew louder and louder as they neared the dance floor, until finally they stepped through a set of double doors and onto a balcony that overlooked a packed space. Here, the music shook the floors. A haze of mist hugged the ground level. On the stage below was an elaborate stand behind which stood a DJ, bobbing his head in time to the beat. Behind him, an enormous screen stretched from floor to ceiling and played a series of moving, flashing patterns.
Dianne cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted down at the crowd. “He’s here!”
An enormous cheer exploded from the dance floor, drowning out even the music. Bruce looked on as the crowd’s roar of “Happy birthday!” filled the room. Bruce smiled and waved at the crowd, and as he did, the DJ sped up the track. Then he dropped the beat hard, and the crowd became a sea of pumping limbs.
Bruce let the pounding music fill his senses, and whatever lingering unease he’d felt now faded away. Dianne led him down the stairs and into the crowd. As he greeted one person after another, pausing to take selfies with some, he lost Dianne in the tangle of bodies, until all he could see was a blur of familiar and strange faces, every outline lit up in slices of neon and darkness.
There she is. Dianne had reached Harvey Dent, who looked chalky under the club lights as he tried his best to move with the beat. Bruce smiled at the sight then started making his way across the dance floor toward them. They waved him over.
He turned at the voice, but before he could even reply, some-body was clapping him hard on the shoulder. A face came into focus, grinning harshly, his white teeth even whiter against his paleface. “Hey— happy birthday, man!”
Richard Price, the son of Gotham City’s current mayor. Bruce blinked in surprise. It had been months since they last talked, but Richard had already grown a few inches taller, so that Bruce had to look up slightly to meet the other boy’s gaze. “Hey,” he replied, returning Richard’s embrace. “I didn’t think you’d come.”
“And miss your shindig? Never,” Richard replied. “My dad’s here— out in the auction hall, anyway. He never missed any of your mom’s benefits, and he won’t do it now.”
Bruce nodded warily. They had once been best friends— they lived at opposite ends of the same gated neighborhood of exclusive estates, had attended the same middle school and the same parties, had even taken kickboxing classes at the same gym. They’d played video games in Bruce’s theater room, laughing themselves silly until their stomachs hurt. Even now Bruce felt a pang at the memory.
But things had changed as they grew older, and Richard had gradually fallen into a specific category of his own: the kind of friend who called you only when he needed something from you.
Bruce wondered what it would be tonight. “Hey,” Richard said now, his eyes darting to one side. He kept his hand on Bruce’s shoulder as he gestured up to the exit. “Can I talk to you somewhere? Just for a sec?”
Bruce’s ears rang as they headed off the dance floor and into a quieter hall. There, Richard turned around and looked at Bruce with an eager grin. In spite of himself, Bruce could feel his spirits lift at the expression— it was the same grin Richard used to give him when they were kids and Richard had found something exciting that he had to share. Maybe he really was here just to celebrate Bruce’s birthday.
Richard stepped closer and lowered his voice. “Look,” he said. “Dad’s on my case. He keeps asking me if I’ve got an internship lined up for the summer. Can you help me out?”
Bruce’s moment of hope flickered out, replaced by a familiar sinking feeling of disappointment. Richard needed something again. “I can recommend you to Lucius Fox,” he started to say.“WayneTech is looking for interns— ”
Richard shook his head. “No, I mean, I don’t actually want to be at the internship. Just, you know, put in a word for me with my dad, tell him I’m doing stuff at WayneTech this summer, and let me into the building a couple of times.”
Bruce frowned at him. “You mean, help you fake that you’re at an internship, just so your dad won’t bother you anymore?”
Richard gave him a halfhearted nudge. “It’s the last summer before college starts. I don’t want to spend it working— yeah, you know how it is, Wayne, right? Just tell my dad I’m working with Lucius. It won’t be a big deal.”
“And how are you going to keep it up?”
“I told you— just let me into WayneTech every now and then. Take a photo of me in the lobby or something. It’s all my dad needs to see.”
“I don’t know, man. Lucius will just tell your dad the truth, if he gets wind of it.”
“Oh, come on, Bruce! For old times’ sake.” Richard’s grin was still on as he reached to shake Bruce’s shoulder once. “It’s your company, isn’t it? You’re gonna let that nerd tell you what to do?”
Bruce bristled. Richard had fawned all over Lucius when he’d first met him. “I’m not covering for you,” he said. “If you want to tell your dad you’re interning at WayneTech, you’ll have to actually do the internship.”
Richard made an annoyed sound in his throat. “What’s it to you?”
“Why are you insisting?”
“All you have to do is mention it once or twice to my dad. It’s not like it’ll cost you anything.”
Bruce shook his head. When they were younger, Richard would show up unannounced at his front gate, talking breathlessly over the intercom, holding the latest game or the newest set of action figures. At some point, their hangouts shifted from debates about what their favorite movies were to requests from Richard to copy Bruce’s homework or for Bruce to finish their group projects on his own or put in a good word for him for jobs.
When had he changed? Even now Bruce couldn’t understand when or why it’d all gone wrong.
“I can’t,” Bruce said, shaking his head again. “I’m sorry.”
At that, Richard’s eyes seemed to shutter. He searched Bruce’s gaze as if expecting a different answer, but when it didn’t come, he grimaced and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Yeah, whatever,” he muttered, stepping around Bruce to head back down the hall. “I see how it is. You turn eighteen and get the keys to your empire, and suddenly you’re too good to help out your friends.”
“Richard,” Bruce called out. The other boy paused to look over his shoulder. Bruce stared at him for a moment. “If you hadn’t wanted my help, would you have come to the party tonight?”
There was a pause, and Bruce knew that the answer was no.Instead, Richard just shrugged at him, then turned around and continued down the hall without answering.
Bruce stood there for a moment, alone, listening to the pounding music coming from inside. He felt a sudden rush of not belonging here, not even at his own event. He pictured the crowd of his classmates and friends on the dance floor and wondered if, aside from Dianne and Harvey, any of them would be here if it weren’t for his family name. The paparazzi outside wouldn’t, that was for sure.
If he were just Bruce Wayne, the boy next door, would anyone care?
Instead of heading back to the dance floor, Bruce made his way down the hall and through a nondescript door that led outside. He walked around the building until he reached the front entrance, where the cameras had already gotten what they wanted from the Aston Martin and were now clustered at the top of the stairs, waiting for special guests to enter or leave. Unnoticed, Bruce reached the car and got in. One of the bodyguards watching the paparazzi at the entrance spotted him right as he shut the car door and revved the engine.
“Mr. Wayne, sir!” the man said, but Bruce just gave him a terse nod. Through the window, he could see some of the paparazzi turn in his direction and realize that he was leaving. Their eyes widened, and their chatter morphed into shouts. But Bruce slammed his foot down on the gas pedal before any-one could reach him. In the rearview mirror, the hall shrank quickly away. Maybe it was rude of him to leave his benefit so soon, to get some time alone when everyone wanted his time for themselves.
But he didn’t slow down, and he didn’t look back.[/scroll-box]
Thanks to JM of Book Freak Revelations for letting me participate in the #NightwalkerPHtour! Follow his blog for more updates!