We are so excited to be able to bring a sample of Kit Alloway’s newest book to you! Dreamfever hit shelves on February 23, and you can take peek at the second book in the Dreamfire series below.
In Dreamfever, Josh must rely on not only her friends, but also her enemies, to stop the radicals from taking power and controlling the Dream, all while picking up the pieces of her life.
Josh’s fingers missed a note when she saw him, and she fumbled the next few measures. She recognized the young man, she even remembered that his name was Feodor, but she felt uncertain about him. Despite his trim appearance, she sensed that he was dangerous.
Someday, his eyes would be shadowed by painful memories, hardened by horror like steel thrust into an ice bath, his glance turned strange and clever, his lips thinned by an ironic, grimace-like smile. Josh knew this. Someday, he would be unable to speak a single sentence without disgust or mockery or manic glee clipping his words.
But not yet. Now he was still a young man, a bit overconfident but full of wit and exuberance and, yes, even goodness.
“We’ll never get her trained, will we?” he said. “The dog, or the girl?” Josh asked.
Feodor sat down beside Josh on the piano bench. “Preferably the girl—she’ll live longer.”
He began to play a gentle counterpoint. Bach himself could not have written a sweeter harmony, and for a time, they sat companionably and drew song from the instrument before them.
But Josh’s eyes lingered on Feodor’s hands. A scrape marred the skin on his left index finger, and she couldn’t help thinking that soon there would be more scrapes, and cuts, and burns, and blood dried beneath the nails, and someday his scarred hands would build things, terrible things. . . .
“Josh?” Feodor said, so softly that her name blended with the notes of the piano.
Without warning, he wrenched his hands from the keyboard and slammed the cover shut.
Josh jumped, and she would have run except that Feodor’s eyes clenched her. He no longer smiled, no longer joked, and she had been wrong—he was not innocent—they had not gone back far enough— perhaps they never could—
“What are you doing here?” he asked in a low hiss. “And why did you bring those?”
He cut his head to the left, and when Josh looked behind them, she saw two devices sitting on the marble coffee table. Their curved metal panels and wire-wrapped crystals stood in contrast with the soft elegance of the room. Josh turned and moved from the piano bench to kneel beside the coffee table, and she reached out to touch one of the devices.
She explored the wire-wrapped circlet first. She knew it was meant to be worn on the head like a crown, even though it bore little resemblance to one. A bundle of wires and metal bands formed nearly a complete circle, with a jagged crystal on each side situated to rest above her temples and another cluster meant to press against the base of her skull.
The metal felt oddly warm, and she detected a faint vibration running through it. “What did you do to these crystals?” she asked Feodor.
She no longer felt afraid of him. In fact, seeing the two devices, she felt excitement stir inside her. She didn’t know what these things were, but she knew they were powerful.
Feodor reluctantly knelt beside her. All his bravado had abandoned him. When a siren began to wail beyond the open windows, he sat up very straight and looked toward the street with alarm.
“Feodor,” Josh said. The siren held no interest for her; she knew what it meant. She touched his arm. “What did you do to these crystals?”
Frowning, he returned his attention to the circlet. “I reversed their polarity.”
Outside, an explosion. The apartment building shook and the windows rattled. On the coffee table, cold tea sloshed over the rim of its teacup. Feodor clapped his hand to Josh’s back as if he meant to force her to the floor, but Josh didn’t feel concerned.
“It’s just the war starting up,” she said.
The second device was meant to be worn on the forearm like a vambrace. Inside a metal sheath, more crystals—some of them flecked with ash—were connected by a network of fused wires made of a variety of metals: copper, selenium, chromium, molybdenum.
Above the street, air fire filled the sky like a cosmic snare drum. The collapse of a nearby building began as the shattering of stone and evolved into deafening white noise.
“Feodor!” the little girl called from the other room. Her voice was high with fear.
“I’m coming, Bryga! Stay where you are!”
The apartment building shook again. A painted landscape behind the couch crashed to the floor, and in the other room, the puppy barked.
Feodor tried to leave the parlor, but Josh grabbed his arm. “Show me how to put these on,” she ordered.
“Bryga—” he began. “Can wait. Show me.”
He obeyed, but with angry speed.
“The wires have to run along the cephalic, basilic, and median veins.” When he lifted her right arm, Josh saw all of her veins pulsating just beneath the surface of her skin, as if they were fighting to escape her flesh and join with the device.
The firing of cannons continued outside. Human and mechanical screams wove together in a single wail. The apartment darkened as smoke blocked out the sun.
“Feodor!” Bryga called again.
Feodor snapped the vambrace closed around Josh’s forearm. The ends of the wires dug into her skin, and she sensed that she had just hurt herself but couldn’t feel it yet. Then she forgot her concern as warmth flowed down her arm and into her hand. Feodor placed the headband around her skull, and when he used a leather cord to close the open ends, he tightened the headband so that the crystals cut into Josh’s scalp. For a moment, she had a dire headache; then the same warmth began to fill her head.
Yes, she thought. Yes. She felt as though she were expanding, extending outside her body, into the devices, past them, into the world around her, spreading, unstoppable.
A bomb exploded in the street outside, shattering not just the windows but the stained glass lamp shades as well. Feodor dropped to the floor, covering his eyes, but Josh stood up while the building still shook, shaking her head and flinging glass from her hair.
“Feodor!” Bryga screamed.
“I’m coming!” Feodor called to her, and he crawled toward the hallway.
“Stop!” Josh commanded, and he did stop, though his expression was furious. “Watch.”
She held out her equipped arm. Spreading her fingers wide, she extended her hand toward the window and reached.
She didn’t imagine what she wanted to happen—that would have been degrading. She didn’t have to justify herself by explaining. All she had to do was reach. The warmth crawled down her forearm into her hand and then flooded her fingers. When heat burst out of her fingertips, the world outside the empty windows froze, then repaired itself in fast motion. Shards of glass pieced back into the window frames, the fires sucked up their smoke, the fallen buildings righted like people rising and brushing themselves off after an earthquake. The painting slid up the wall and resettled on its nail. The screams and sirens fell silent and were replaced by the idyllic ding ding of the tram and the hollow knocking of horseshoes on cobblestone streets.
Calm, steady sunshine again filled the parlor. Josh, stunned by her own strength, slowly retreated to the piano bench and—after a moment of staring at her hands and thinking, They aren’t even shaking— resumed playing. After a few measures she recognized Poland’s national anthem rising around her. She played it with a decisive, valiant hand, and though she did not know the lyrics, she remembered the first line.
Poland has not yet perished!
This time, when Feodor sat down beside her, he didn’t try to play along. He only turned her face with gentle fingers on her chin and kissed her.
Josh hummed as she kissed him back.
She woke, shuddering and aroused, and went into the bathroom to splash cold water on her face. When her blood had stopped pounding, she tiptoed to Will’s bedroom and crawled into bed with him. Lying beside him helped her remember who she was with.
And who she was.