The next exciting novel in the thrilling new Midnight Dragonfly series from Ellie James!
It's almost Mardi Gras, but for 16 year-old psychic Trinity Monsour this is no time for celebration. Another girl is missing. Tormented by visions she doesn't understand--of an empty street lined by crumbling old buildings, a terrified voice warning her to be careful, and a body lying motionless in the grass, Trinity embarks upon a dark odyssey she could never have imagined. She'll stop at nothing to better understand her abilities, convinced that doing so is the only way she can make sure the terrifying images she sees never actually happen. But it seems everyone wants to stop her. Her aunt is worried Trinity might discover secrets best left in the past. Her best friend, Victoria, is afraid Trinity is slipping away, her boyfriend, Chase, fears she's taking too many chances, and the lead detective will barely let her out of his sight. Only one person stands by her side, and in doing so, he slips deeper and deeper into her heart and her dreams--blurring the lines of reality and illusion. When the dust settles, one of them will be dead.
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St. Martin's Griffin
May 08, 2012
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Excerpt from Broken Illusions by Ellie James
"Do you believe in forever?"
Working to untangle two silver chains, I glanced toward the front of my aunt's French Quarter shop, where my friend Victoria stood with a baby-doll tee in her hands. Half an hour before she'd walked in from the rain without any warning, not even a text. She'd hardly said a word since, other than asking what she could do to help.
Stopping by was normal. Silence was not.
"Forever?" I asked, focusing on her and not who would be walking in any minute--or what we'd be doing after I turned off the lights and locked the door. "Where'd that come from?"
Robotically she placed the tee--bubblegum pink with the shop's name, FLEURISH!, emblazed in rhinestones--on top of the stack and looked up.
"What does it even mean?" she said, so totally a million miles away. "How can anything last forever?"
Brightly colored Mardi Gras merchandise crowded the display tables, beads and doubloons, parasols, even some crazy tutus that were actually selling. Upbeat music flirted from discreetly placed speakers--normally we went with Louis Armstrong or Harry Connick, Jr., but for the next few weeks my aunt insisted we flood the store with the traditional songs of the season.
The jazzy rhythms made standing still impossible.
But in that moment, I did just that.
It was hardly a Saturday night, five weeks before Carnival, ten minutes before closing kind of thing.
But I also knew the twisty, timeless place where my mind immediately went was not where Victoria was coming from. She spun from one moment to the next, seeing and hearing, feeling that which was in front of her. It was the whole tip of the iceberg thing.
If she couldn't see it, it must not be there.
And I so knew what this was about. "You and Lucas had another fight, didn't you?"
With a distracted sigh, she picked up a strand of purple-and-gold beads someone had left by the T-shirts. "He thinks saying I love you makes everything okay," she said, twirling the necklace around her wrist. "And, once, maybe it did."
I glanced down at the tangled chains.
"I mean, for a long time, that was all I wanted to hear. When we first got together, all he had to do was look at me and I melted."
I knew that feeling well. It was exactly what would happen the second Chase walked in and the electric blue of his eyes locked onto me.
He'd said eight thirty, but with Victoria such a mess, it was best that he was late.
"I couldn't imagine a day I wouldn't feel the same way," she was saying. "Being with him was all I wanted."
I glanced at the clock. "And now?"
"IDK." She let the beads drop to the table. "So much has changed."
For all of us.
Most of the time life was like a river. It flowed from one day to the next, giving no real awareness of when the deep water ended, and the shallow began. There was no defining line, no before and after. It just flowed.
But sometimes there was a point. Sometimes there was an exact moment, and when you looked back, you saw it all, the moment, the place, and you knew, you knew how different things could have been if you'd made a different choice.
Four months had passed. Four months since the night a simple dare had turned into a nightmare we never saw coming.
Four months since one chapter ended, and another began. And Victoria was right--so much had changed. I think that's what surprised me the most, how one event could cast so many ripples. Even my aunt's life had turned. She would have opened Fleurish! anyway. That had been in the works. But Detective LaSalle had been a stranger then--and now the two were inseparable.
Yeah, that was awkward.
But for Victoria, it was the change itself that rocked her, the realization of how quickly life could turn.
"It's like now, whenever he says forever, I freeze up inside, like it's some kind of trap."
It didn't take a psychic to figure that out.
"Maybe that means he's not the one," I pointed out, as I'd done many times before.
"I think it's the word. Forever. Even things you want to last, don't." She shifted toward me, zinging me with the glitter in her eyes. "Think about it," she said. "Everything dies. Everything. Flowers, trees, animals. Love ... people. I mean, really, from the second we're born, that's all we're doing. Dying."
I took a deep breath--a really, really deep breath. Victoria was many things, and she could definitely lose herself in drama, but that was a bit much, even for her.
Trying to lure her back from the edge, I let the hopelessly tangled necklaces slip from my fingers and snagged a purple-and-green rhinestone tiara.
"Aren't you just a ray of sunshine tonight," I teased, strolling over to plop it on her head. Stepping back, I gave her an overly bright smile. "Can't say I've thought about it like that."
"How can you not? I mean, you of all people, with your parents and your grandmother, Chase, and the thing with Jessica..."
My smile faded. Detective LaSalle said she was lucky, that the drifter who abducted her had taken others. Taken, and not given back. But after all these months, the thought of what she'd been through still twisted me up inside.
One decision. One cruel twist of fate. Sometimes that was all it took.
"How can you believe anything lasts?"
I glanced away, toward the antique mirror behind the jewelry case, looking long and hard at the new me. My hair was still long and dark and wavy, my skin still a hue of olive, and I still rarely touched dark eyeliner or goth lipstick. But like everything else, the changes were there, running deeper than the sparkly powders I'd grown to adore, staring back at me from eyes that looked as if they'd lived a lot more than sixteen years. In them a new awareness glowed.
How could I believe anything lasts? That was easy. How could I not? The things I saw, the coming attractions of events yet to happen, had to come from somewhere.
"Maybe not here," I said, rearranging bracelets and earrings. "But later--after."
"You mean like ... after we're dead?"
I was no longer sure there was a before--or an after. There just ... was.
"So what do you think happens?" she asked as I returned a pair of dangly fleur-de-lis earrings to their card. "Do you really think we go to Heaven and live happily ever after? Or that we come back and get reborn, get a do-over?"
I turned from the jewelry as the music shifted, and Big Chief started singing about smoking a peace pipe. (After a week of nonstop play, I knew the words by heart.)
The gleam in Victoria's eyes should have warned me.
"What if we could find out?" she asked, reaching for the camo messenger bag she'd dropped by the front display. She dipped her hand in, and for at least the fifth time over the past month, pulled out the Ouija board.
And over the music, the buzzing began.
"Victoria--" I started as the bell on the door jingled. I spun around--
The lazy grin stopped me. "Evenin', beautiful," the taller of the two guys drawled.
"Deuce," I said, smiling. He strolled in as he did a few times per week, his walk in rhythm to the music. His bandmate, Trey, made a beeline for Victoria--just like he always did.
"I thought ya'll were playing tonight," I said.
Looking every bit a sax player with his skinny black jeans and slim-fitting button-down with tribal tattoos, the two gold hoops in his ear, Deuce took me by the hand and twirled me under his arm.
"Not until eleven." Releasing me, he frowned. "What's wrong, Mile High? You lookin' way too serious."
I shook my head. The second they'd found out I grew up in Colorado, I became Mile High.
Chase had been less than thrilled.
"Just girl talk," I downplayed as Trey, basically a mirror image of his friend, repositioned the tiara I'd put on Victoria. His murmur was too quiet for me to hear.
"Son." Next to the T-shirt display, Deuce started to dance--I was convinced that instead of blood, rhythm ran through his veins.
"It's Saturday night," he sang, even though that was Trey's role. Together, they called themselves the Blood Brothas and they gigged all over the Quarter. "Pretty girls should never be alone, so flip that sign and throw us guys a bone..."
I rolled my eyes.
"And come on down to Fat Cats, and let us show you a night that's--"
I cracked up. "You never give up, do you?"
"Not my style, buttercup."
I glanced at Trey and Victoria, who, despite still being rain-splattered, looked ridiculously awesome in her jeans and brown baby-doll tee, the way they stood a little too close, spoke a little too quietly, and knew exactly why she cringed when Lucas said forever.
"Come on," Deuce said. "What do you say?"
They were good--really good. Chase had even convinced his uncle to hire them for his Mardi Gras bash next weekend.
I glanced at the clock, then my phone on the counter. "Chase is on his way. We're hooking up with friends--"
"Bring them, too." Deuce glanced at Victoria. "Just quit breaking my bro's heart, angel face. You can't keep him waiting forever."
Her smile froze.
Deuce shot me a questioning look. I shook my head, telling him not to ask. "We'll try," I promised. Nodding, he turned to the door, signaling for Trey to follow. "Lock up," he said, stepping into the cold February rain. "The crazies be out tonight."
I watched them go, crossing to twist the bolt as finally, finally my phone beeped.
"Omigod." Victoria laughed as I hurried to the counter. "Deuce so has a thing for you."
I grabbed the BlackBerry, saw Chase's name. "Are you kidding me?" I hated the way my heart started to pound. It was ridiculous. There was no reason to be upset.
Except he should have been walking through the door--not sending a text.
"It's all about you ... angel face," I said, bringing up the message.
Hey, T. Lost track of time.