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Authors: Jayne Castle

Illusion Town

BOOK: Illusion Town
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Praise for the novels of
New York Times
bestselling author Jayne Castle . . .

“This highly talented author never disappoints readers. I am always looking forward to her next novel.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Inventive and brimming with whimsy, this pleasing escapade gives sexy new meaning to the term ‘fire and ice' and carves another brilliant facet in Castle's mesmerizing futuristic world. Great fun!”

—
Library Journal

“Definitely hot in more ways than one. The world and characterization continue to expand and evolve in the most delicious of ways.”

—Smexy Books

“The intensity a Castle hero projects toward [his] woman is what makes these books for me. It is why I keep coming back for more.”

—Fiction Vixen

“Castle is well-known for her playful love stories, and this futuristic tale of romantic suspense runs delightfully true to form . . . An appealing, effervescent romance mildly spiced with paranormal fun, this novel won't disappoint.”

—
Publishers Weekly

. . . and Jayne Ann Krentz

“Good fun.”

—
Cosmopolitan

“Entertaining.”

—
People

“Fast-moving . . . Entertaining . . . Highly successful.”

—
The Seattle Times

“Fast-paced . . . Interesting characters . . . A good time is had by the reader.”

—
Chicago Tribune

“Along with Nora Roberts, Krentz is one of the most reliably satisfying romance writers publishing.”

—
Sunday Times
(CA)

“Jayne Ann Krentz is one of the hottest writers around.”

—
Albuquerque Journal

Titles by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle

ILLUSION TOWN

SIREN'S CALL

THE HOT ZONE

DECEPTION COVE

THE LOST NIGHT

CANYONS OF NIGHT

MIDNIGHT CRYSTAL

OBSIDIAN PREY

DARK LIGHT

SILVER MASTER

GHOST HUNTER

AFTER GLOW

HARMONY

AFTER DARK

AMARYLLIS

ZINNIA

ORCHID

The Guinevere Jones Titles

Desperate and Deceptive

The Guinevere Jones Collection, Volume 1

THE DESPERATE GAME

THE CHILLING DECEPTION

Sinister and Fatal

The Guinevere Jones Collection, Volume 2

THE SINISTER TOUCH

THE FATAL FORTUNE

Titles by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Amanda Quick

'TIL DEATH DO US PART

GARDEN OF LIES

OTHERWISE ENGAGED

THE MYSTERY WOMAN

CRYSTAL GARDENS

QUICKSILVER

BURNING LAMP

THE PERFECT POISON

THE THIRD CIRCLE

THE RIVER KNOWS

SECOND SIGHT

LIE BY MOONLIGHT

THE PAID COMPANION

WAIT UNTIL MIDNIGHT

LATE FOR THE WEDDING

DON'T LOOK BACK

SLIGHTLY SHADY

WICKED WIDOW

I THEE WED

WITH THIS RING

AFFAIR

MISCHIEF

MYSTIQUE

MISTRESS

DECEPTION

DESIRE

DANGEROUS

RECKLESS

RAVISHED

RENDEZVOUS

SCANDAL

SURRENDER

SEDUCTION

Other titles by Jayne Ann Krentz

SECRET SISTERS

TRUST NO ONE

RIVER ROAD

DREAM EYES

COPPER BEACH

IN TOO DEEP

FIRED UP

RUNNING HOT

SIZZLE AND BURN

WHITE LIES

ALL NIGHT LONG

FALLING AWAKE

TRUTH OR DARE

LIGHT IN SHADOW

SUMMER IN ECLIPSE BAY

TOGETHER IN ECLIPSE BAY

SMOKE IN MIRRORS

LOST & FOUND

DAWN IN ECLIPSE BAY

SOFT FOCUS

ECLIPSE BAY

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

FLASH

SHARP EDGES

DEEP WATERS

ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY

TRUST ME

GRAND PASSION

HIDDEN TALENTS

WILDEST HEARTS

FAMILY MAN

PERFECT PARTNERS

SWEET FORTUNE

SILVER LININGS

THE GOLDEN
CHANCE

Specials

THE SCARGILL COVE CASE FILES

BRIDAL JITTERS

(writing as Jayne Castle)

Anthologies

CHARMED

(with Julie Beard, Lori Foster, and Eileen Wilks)

Titles written by Jayne Ann Krentz and Jayne Castle

NO GOING BACK

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

ILLUSION TOWN

A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2016 by Jayne Ann Krentz.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

JOVE
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

The “J” design is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information, visit
penguin.com
.

eBook ISBN: 9780698187429

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Jove mass-market edition / August 2016

Cover art by Craig White / Lott Reps.

Cover design by George Long.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

This one's for Virgil: Tell Arizona Snow I said
hello.

A Note from Jayne

Welcome back to my Jayne Castle world—Harmony. A new adventure begins in Illusion Town. This is Las Vegas on Harmony but way more weird. The local slogan says it all:
The thrills are real.

Turns out the town sits right on top of the latest Underworld discovery, the mysterious ruins known as the Ghost City. The Coppersmith Mining Company won the contract to open up the potentially lucrative new territory. They've set up headquarters just outside of Illusion Town. Coppersmith outbid the competition to get the rights but could be looking at a bad case of buyer's remorse. This is Harmony, after all.

There are Alien mysteries and dangers lurking around every corner, both aboveground and in the Underworld, but, as usual, the real trouble is caused by
humans.

Chapter 1

TO: E. Coppersmith

SUBJECT: It's late

FROM: Finder

You're up late again. More problems with the Ghost City project?

Sincerely,

Finder

TO: Finder

SUBJECT: It's very late

FROM: E. Coppersmith

The Ghost City project is presenting the usual challenges, most of which fall into one of the following two categories: SNAFU and FUBAR. (Sorry for using technical terms.) And it looks like I'm not the only one who is up late. It's one o'clock in the morning. Am I interrupting anything?

Sincerely,

E. Coppersmith

TO: E. Coppersmith

SUBJECT: Nope

FROM: Finder

You're not interrupting anything. A dream woke me up. I decided to do some work online. What's your excuse?

Sincerely,

Finder

TO: Finder

SUBJECT: Your dreams

FROM: E. Coppersmith

Working here, too. I'd like to talk to you about your dreams. And I'd like to do that in person. Will you have dinner with me tomorrow night?

Sincerely,

E. Coppersmith

TO: E. Coppersmith

SUBJECT: Dinner

FROM: Finder

Thank you for the invitation to dinner. It is a very nice gesture but entirely unnecessary. I am glad that I was able to find your heirloom ring. You paid my fees. You don't owe me anything else. Really.

Sincerely,

Finder

TO: Finder

SUBJECT: It's not about the ring

FROM: E. Coppersmith

I'm an engineer. I do not make very nice but entirely unnecessary gestures. I am no longer a client. This is personal. I would like to take you to dinner.

Sincerely, but not nicely,

E. Coppersmith

TO: E. Coppersmith

SUBJECT: Bad dates

FROM: Finder

I have found that dates with clients generally don't end well. Sooner or later it turns out that the client wants an off-the-books favor.

Cautiously,

Finder

TO: Finder

SUBJECT: What the hell?

FROM: E. Coppersmith

This isn't about the damn ring. I told you, I'm no longer a client. Off-the-books?

Curiously,

E. Coppersmith

TO: E. Coppersmith

SUBJECT: Bad dates

FROM: Finder

Off-the-books, as in finding antiquities on the black market or missing-persons work. I never do the former and I try really, really hard to avoid the latter. Never ends well. Like dating clients.

Clarifying,

Finder

TO: Finder

SUBJECT: Just dinner

FROM: E. Coppersmith

I do my own black-market searches, and no one I know has gone missing. I just want to take you out to dinner tomorrow night.

Sincerely not a client,

E. Coppersmith

TO: E. Coppersmith

SUBJECT: Just dinner

FROM: Finder

Thank you. I would like to have dinner with you. My address is 15 Midnight Lane, Dark Zone, Illusion Town. I live in an apartment above my shop, Visions. Finding a specific address in this zone can be tricky. GPS and the mapping programs don't work well. I can meet you at the restaurant, if that would be easier.

Sincerely,

Hannah

TO: Finder

SUBJECT: I'll find you

FROM: E. Coppersmith

I'm an engineer. I'll figure it out.

Good night,

Elias

The Coppersmith Mining headquarters of the Ghost City project was located several miles outside Illusion Town. The narrow two-lane highway cut through empty desert for the entire distance. Roadside signs promising flashy casinos, high-payout slot machines, and sexy shows appeared every couple of miles.

At the posted speed limit the drive took about forty minutes. A man behind the wheel of a Cadence could cover the distance in half an hour. A man driving a Cadence who was looking forward to an evening with an intriguing woman could do it in twenty-five minutes.

Elias Coppersmith was driving a hot, enhanced Cadence and he was making very, very good time because he was looking forward to meeting Hannah West in person.

For the first few weeks of their online connection he had known her only as the Finder. She specialized in locating missing, lost, or stolen antiquities in the murky underground world where secretive collectors bought and sold powerful relics and crystals. She dealt in hot crystals
and he was a crystal engineer. He figured they had a few things in common.

When he contacted her two months ago, he hadn't expected much. She was just one in a long line of experts he had consulted. But she had located the long-lost Coppersmith family heirloom within days. He had known then that she possessed some very powerful psychic abilities. It hadn't taken him long to figure out that she was a dreamlight talent.

Dreamlights were not uncommon. After all, everyone dreamed and, to some extent, everyone possessed some psychic ability. But most dreamlight psychics ranked at the lower end of the paranormal scale.

Powerful dreamlight talents were scarce and he was pretty sure he knew why. Para-psych researchers were convinced that strong dreamlights possessed unstable, fragile para-psych profiles.

Given the general consensus of the research community it seemed perfectly reasonable that very strong dreamlights would keep the extent of their abilities to themselves. No one wanted to be labeled unstable or fragile.

He knew a lot about keeping paranormal secrets. His family had kept a few for generations.

The online connection with Hannah had evolved quickly from a business relationship into something that he hoped was about to become much more personal.

Night fell fast in the desert. The glittering lights of the opulent casinos and hotels of Illusion Town had just come into view when Elias got the call. He would have ignored
it but it was coming in on the frequency reserved for emergencies.

By the time the call from headquarters ended he knew that all of his carefully laid plans for the evening had just gone up in smoke.

So much for assuring Hannah West that their relationship was no longer a business affair.

Another sign came up in his headlights.

W
ELCOME TO
I
LLUSION
T
OWN
.

T
HE
T
HRILLS
A
RE
R
EAL
.

BOOK: Illusion Town
8.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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