Authors: Lauren Kate
ALSO BY LAUREN KATE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2012 by Tinderbox Books, LLC and Lauren Kate
Jacket illustrations © 2012 by Fernanda Brussi Gonçalves with Amber Lynn Jackson of Beyond The Sea Arts
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.
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OR MY READERS
WHO HAVE SHOWN ME SO MANY KINDS OF LOVE
The life so brief, the art so long in the learning, the attempt so
hard, the conquest so sharp, the fearful joy that ever slips away
so quickly—by all this I mean love, which so sorely astounds my
feeling with its wondrous operation, that when I think upon it I
scarce know whether I wake or sleep
The Parliament of Fowls
Translated by Gerard NeCastro
helby and Miles were laughing when they stepped out of the Announcer. Its dark tendrils clung to the brim of Miles’s blue Dodgers baseball cap and Shelby’s tangled ponytail as the two of them emerged.
Even though Shelby’s body felt as weary as if she’d done four back-to-back sessions of Vinyasa yoga, at least she and Miles were back on solid—present-tense—ground. Home.
The air was cold, the sky gray but bright. Miles’s
shoulders towered in front of her, shielding her body from the brisk wind that sent ripples across the white T-shirt he’d been wearing since they’d left Luce’s parents’ backyard on Thanksgiving.
“I’m serious!” Shelby was saying. “Why is it so hard for you to believe that my first priority is lip balm?” She ran a finger across her lip and recoiled exaggeratedly. “They’re like sandpaper!”
“You’re crazy.” Miles snorted, but his eyes followed Shelby’s finger as she gingerly traced her lower lip. “
is what you missed inside the Announcers?”
“And my podcasts,” Shelby said, crunching over a pile of dead gray leaves. “And my sun salutations on the beach—”
They had been leapfrogging through the Announcers for so long: from the cell in the Bastille where they’d met a wraithlike prisoner who wouldn’t give his name; into and right back out of a bloody Chinese battlefield where they didn’t recognize a soul; and, most recently, from Jerusalem, where they’d found Daniel at last, looking for Luce. Only Daniel wasn’t entirely himself. He was joined—literally—with some ghostly past version of himself. And he hadn’t been able to set himself free.
Shelby couldn’t stop thinking about Miles and Daniel fencing with the starshots, about the way Daniel’s two bodies—past and present—had been wrenched apart after Miles drew the arrow down the angel’s chest.
Creepy things happened inside Announcers; Shelby was glad to be done with them. Now if they could just not get lost in these woods on their way back to their dorm. Shelby looked toward what she hoped was west and started to lead Miles through the dreary unfamiliar section of the forest. “Shoreline should be this way.”
The return home was bittersweet.
She and Miles had entered the Announcer with a mission; they’d jumped through in Luce’s parents’ backyard after Luce herself had disappeared. They’d gone after her to bring her home—as Miles said, Announcers weren’t to be pranced into lightly—but also just to make sure she was all right. Whatever Luce was to the angels and demons fighting over her, Shelby and Miles didn’t care. To them, she was a friend.
But on their hunt, they kept just missing her. It had driven Shelby nuts. They’d gone from one bizarre stop to the next and still had seen no sign of Luce.