About The Author:
Erin Kellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Shadow series and Shadow Kissed series, which share the same world, where dark fantasy meets modern fairy tale. Delve into dreamscapes in her new Reveler series, releasing Summer 2014.
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Darkness Falls Excerpt
“It’s not my first time, man.” Interview over, Rook shrugged into his trim black wool coat. “I know what to do if I spot a likely target.” It’d been a few years, but what to look for hadn’t changed.
Innocent, unsuspecting fools.
Yeah, he knew how to find them. And once down the rabbit hole, there was no coming back again. Just a screaming fall into a darkness as infinite and clutching as a nightmare. No waking up, either.
God, why couldn’t he just wake up?
“Only, it’s been a while since you went hunting,” Coll observed, that level gaze assessing, always measuring, but giving away nothing. “Why the sudden change?”
Rook kept his reasons for going to himself; he didn’t owe Coll explanations. Not anymore. What did he know, anyway? Coll had an easy life working behind a desk, occasionally flying out somewhere, and getting himself a swank room from which to monitor at a distance. It was hard not to stare at the wall-to-wall view of the San Diego Bay—and the ocean beyond, vast and calm, restful. Rook wasn’t one to give in to envy, but a little peace would go a long way right now.
“It’s a big step backward from the work you’ve been doing,” Coll pressed.
Rook exchanged his wallet for the one waiting on the tray that Coll had provided—time to become, let’s see, Michael Reese; at least they’d kept his initials—and slid it in the back pocket of his jeans.
Of course, he could’ve explained to Coll that he’d been on the inside too long. That he had to get a taste of the virgin experience again to keep his edge. Any Chimera could relate.
But he was too far gone for easy lies.
Darkness lurked at the edges of his vision, crackling and dense with reproach—not that he could make out anything right now, or ever—but when he turned to confront it, the blind spot shifted, too. It was as if he had a fringe space in the back of his mind, one in which an intruder could hide, its presence hounding him like a constant uncertainty.
Rook had to go out or he’d lose his mind. He had to go out or Coll would have to put him down like a mad dog.
The alternate phone on the tray was a sleek little silver thing, the latest to hit the market, whereas his personal mobile was at least a year behind. Both were unnecessary. He had other ways of keeping current—other, more intimate ways to track his marks.
“You could shave, at least. Make yourself pretty.” Coll’s idea of a joke.
Since he’d decided to back off, Rook offered a dry one of his own. “Girls like me rough. Guys, too, actually.”
“Okay, but what if I show up to the party completely naked?” Jordan Lane hissed ahead to Maisie as they navigated down the dock to the water taxi that would take them out to the Envoi, their destination for the evening.
The naked thing had been a nightmare since childhood, most recently the night before her big sales pitch to get the Medea account. Account secured. Promotion pending. But the fear was alive and well. Thriving.
Maisie cocked her head over her shoulder. “Can you at least try to have fun?”
Fun was not crossing a picket line of vehement protesters for a simple girls’ night out. The rhythmic shouts—“Wake up to the truth!”—were audible this far down the pier. The protesters stayed behind the pylons, but Jordan carried their message with her nevertheless: Danger. And, um, what the hell are you doing?
And then there was the opposing throng, who’d come down to the docks in hopes of buying a ticket secondhand for ten times its value. Holy hell, she could really use that kind of money right now and would easily give up one night of girl bonding to get it.
But this wasn’t any old GNO. First, the girlfriend was her little sis (all grown up), and second, the activity was insane, hence the protesters and their waggling signs. But Maisie-Maze had to try everything, had to leap with all her heart into every new game that came along. Irresponsible was what her teachers and bosses called her. But really it was more like irrepressible. There was no stopping her, no reasoning with enthusiasm—what could a big sis do but go with her and make sure she came home all right?
Not that Jordan had any objection to Rêve in theory. She just didn’t want either of them to be part of the practice.
A gust of bitter coastal wind whipped at Jordan’s hair and clothes, and she wrapped her mini tuxedo jacket across her waist, folding her arms over it to keep the cold air off her skin. Didn’t help much; the bluster still stole up the skirt of her little black dress as she waited with the group on the pier, everybody outfitted for a night out and buzzing with excitement. Ages ranged from Maze’s bouncy twenty-one to—Jordan glanced at a wrinkled and shrunken little woman—what had to be close to a hundred. The age spread aligned with the cross-cutting demographics that characterized the Rêve enthusiasm overtaking the world.
Just ahead, Maze accepted the hand of some guy already inside the boat to help her navigate the big, awkward step into the taxi. He reached for Jordan next, and with equal parts reluctance and gratitude, she took his hand—strong, steady—to make sure she didn’t pitch herself ass-up into the ocean. The heels had been a mistake, too.
Who needed to be dressed up only to go to sleep?
“Thanks,” she breathed to him. No going back now.
Petrol-tinged air replaced the slightly funky smell of the water, with its ocean stew of salt, fish, and subtle rot. Taking the big step, she caught a flash of the guy’s dark eyes, dark hair. Strong jaw with a two-day shadow. Once in the boat, she discovered he was tall and built, too. Damn it.
Maze’s eyes were shining with glee, as if saying, See?
Little sis wanted to hook her up. Very sweet, but not happening. Timothy Oliphant from Justified was just fine for her—even if she did have to watch him through her TV screen.
But this guy?
Okay, Jordan argued silently back at her, but there are cute guys lotsa places. She didn’t need to go to such lengths to get a date.
“Nothing to worry about,” he said, noting her nerves.
Of course he had a good, low voice. Didn’t mean he wasn’t crazy. Rêve attracted all sorts. Cults were forming around it. Biggest thing since the Internet. Global phenomenon. Major paradigm shift. And all that.
The wind gusted again and Jordan shivered violently, but she didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to ask questions. She had about a thousand of them. “You’ve done this before, then?”
She’d scoured message boards online for info, but the reactions varied from ecstatic testimonials of transcendent experiences to claims of migraines, sleeplessness, fatigue, and impotence, all basically leading to an inability to return to normal life. Then there were the posts—both academic and hysterical—that warned people not to make gods of themselves. Heh. Too late.
The bottom line? Studies demonstrated conclusively that Rêve itself was safe; whatever side effects did manifest reflected an individual’s psychology. Basically, if a person had issues, maybe they should pass.
At the moment, she had a lot of issues.
“I’ve done it a few times.” The guy glanced between her and her little sister. “Better than drugs. Not as good as sex.”
Hmm. “Anyone ever get hurt?”
“Not that I know of.” Damn if he didn’t seem to settle his interest on her baby sister, his gaze lingering, little wheels of thought turning in his eyes.
Umm…no. He was too…rough for Maze, so he’d just better step back.
Jordan poked his shoulder. Hard. “Did you have side effects?”
He shot her a quick, weird look to the effect of, Would I be back if I did?
“Right.” Jordan ducked her chin out of the wind and headed for Maze, who’d seated herself on the long bench on the far side of the boat. Maze had ironed her hair into a glossy straight sheet that looked like stretched fuchsia taffy. She was a junior at the U, but dressed like a cartoon character from when they’d been kids. She attracted friendly attention everywhere. Here, too.
Jordan joined her on the bench and cut a look back at the man. “Stay away from that one.”
Maze lit up and sang under her breath, “Ooooh?”
No. Jordan wasn’t interested in him, but she couldn’t bring herself to argue with Maze while the swaying of the boat was making her sick. She did manage to reiterate, “If I end up naked in public, I swear I’ll kill you.”
Maze took her hand. “You need this. You need this so bad.”
Her sister referred to the life Jordan spent in the office; what Maze didn’t seem to understand was that her big sis liked her job. Shocking, yes, but true. So this wasn’t about her. It was all Maisie, major still undeclared.
“People have gotten along just fine without Rêve thus far,” Jordan said. “All the way back to the dawn of man.”
Maze’s baby blues opened wide. “Beg to differ, Jor. Theories abound that it is not unique to our time.”
God, baby sis had been drinking the Rêve punch.
“Theories, not facts.” While Jordan had volunteered to go along for the ride, she wasn’t going to get conned into the hype. One of them had to stay grounded.
Her sister smiled and repeated by rote, as she had a thousand times today, “It’s safe. It’s legal.”
Jordan gave a derisive laugh. “Then why are we about to taxi twelve nautical miles into international waters to get on a Finnish ship in order to try it?”
Lay Me Down Excerpt:
Steve Coll hit his left-turn signal and checked for traffic, but most of his attention was focused on the woman half sitting, half kneeling on the passenger seat beside him. She hadn’t yet decided if she was going to cooperate (the least likely), stage a getaway (her usual way of coping), or try to kill him (on direct orders from her boss).
Her predicament was the most fun he’d had in a long time, especially since it was the woman herself who was gnawing her thumbnail in suspense. Even she didn’t know what she was going to do.
What a way to live.
Maisie Louise Lane wasn’t just another Reveler whom Chimera wanted to recruit. She was the ultimate recruit, the critical talent. And it was Steve’s job to secure her cooperation and loyalty.
Which meant she was probably going to try to kill him.
At least he’d get a kick out of watching her work up to it. She might just pull it off, too. Maisie could do anything; it was potentially deadly to think otherwise.
“If we’re going to Vegas,” she said, “I need to pick up some things from my place.”
Steve checked his rearview mirror. Still clear. “Not an option. It was ransacked after you left. Nothing much remains but the scum waiting to grab you.”
“Well, I’ve got some clothes at my sister’s and my laptop is there, too.”
“Your associates have that place covered as well, and since your sister had to drown one of them so that she could get to safety, it’s not an option, either.”
Maisie was standing on the only bridge she hadn’t burned, an empty gallon of gas in one hand, lit match in the other.
He flicked a gaze her way for a quick assessment. Her magenta-dyed hair was showing blond roots. The black makeup around her big gray eyes was smudged. And yeah, she was wearing the same outfit—tight, dark-green jeans with a slouchy black tank on top—that she’d been wearing when she’d escaped his companionship on the UCSD campus yesterday. The several narrow leather bands around her wrist hid scars from wounds she’d inflicted herself.
She had her sister to thank for keeping her alive this long, but the company Maisie kept was now more dangerous. Big sis had done as much as she could. Time for someone who didn’t love Maisie to take over.
“Well, I have to shower and change. I stink,” she said.
Strangely, he really didn’t mind the sharp edge to her usual feminine scent. And at the moment, he wouldn’t put it past her to crawl out a bathroom window, dripping and naked, to escape him. So she could just wait.
“When we get settled, you can have first dibs on the shower.”
Another glance in the rearview. A black car edged into their lane, some five car-lengths behind them.
“You mean in Vegas? That’s like an eight-hour drive.”
“Five,” he corrected. “And new clothes will be waiting there as well.”
“I choose my own clothes, thanks.”
“This is torture,” she said.
The black car kept its distance, which Steve didn’t like. It should’ve pulled up a bit by now. Its front window reflected a bright glaring spot of the sun, whiting out the rest, so no driver was visible, even if Steve could make him out from this far away.
He debated letting the car continue its pursuit to find out for certain if it was deliberately tailing them. He’d been eluding her business associates for the past few days while attempting to win Maisie’s cooperation. That her sister Jordan had become a Chimera was helpful. That those same associates had gone after Jordan had forced a choice on Maisie: family, or wealth and power?
Family had won, which was how Maisie had come to be sitting next to him, regardless of her mood.
Steve cruised through a late yellow light; the black car ran the red that followed.
Damn. Better to lose them now than to chance an incident on the road before he and Maisie reached their destination.
He hated to do it while driving, but fine.
Steve let his vision blur slightly so that his darksight could sharpen, and he imposed a simple waking dream on the real world. He showed the occupants of the black car that his car was turning to the right, down an intersecting street, while in reality he continued straight ahead.
The black car turned down the street, following the dream.
Which meant that yes, the car had probably been following them, and the driver didn’t have the darksight to recognize a waking dream for the illusion it was.
Steve glanced at Maisie again, the other immediate threat to his life.
She was staring at him, unblinking and wary. “What was that?”
Maisie, however, did have darksight, though still undeveloped.
Chimera agents each had talents, most of which were awakened during lucid dreaming, the revolution taking over the world. Maisie, should she prove loyal enough to join them, could also cross between one dream and another effortlessly.
Steve gave her a friendly smile. It was the only answer she was going to get. He didn’t even share what he could do, what he really was, with people he trusted. They’d be afraid.
“Fine. Whatever.” She folded her arms and hunkered down in her seat. “Wake me when we get there.”
Steve had to stop himself from laughing out loud. The humor felt good, though, lodged in his throat and warm across his chest. As if he would let her escape him that way. Her associates could catch up to her Darkside, too.
No. Not happening. She had no idea whom she was dealing with.
Maisie Lane was about to be afflicted with an extreme case of insomnia.
He was keeping her high and dry until it suited him for her to sleep, yet another one of his abilities. She’d sleep when he did.
Beside him, she sighed and modulated her breathing so that it was deep and slow. Eyes closed, the tension dropped out of her. She went quiet, studiously so, as she sought refuge.
It was cute, really.
Steve banked onto the I-15 exit and climbed onto the freeway, heading north. Traffic mid-morning moved fast along the ten-lane stretch. If they made good time, maybe they could get there before rush hour.
A colorful billboard advertising a new Rêve—the term used for commercial shared dreams—rose above the graying buildings below. The billboard depicted a black door with a fanlight above and a knob in the middle. The number 221B gleamed in brass above a subtly ornate knocker. Doors led the way into Rêves, and this door led the dreamer to 221B Baker Street, Sherlock’s home. Stories and adventures were the rage, far exceeding the thrills a theme park could offer. Rêve was a fully immersive experience for which people would pay anything.
Of course, just as Rêves offered unlimited worlds to explore, they also offered innumerable ways to exploit and/or threaten dreamers. It was Chimera’s job to police Rêves and to venture (or track) beyond Rêve into the waters where natural dreaming occurred. A certain kind of talent was required, and it was Steve’s job to recruit the personnel who had it.
Like Maisie here, who’d been playing in illegal Rêves for at least a year now and had gotten in a little too deep with the criminal element.
The minutes ticked by. He changed to the far left lane and accelerated.
Any second now she’d realize she was trapped in the waking world.
She huffed a little. Squirmed.
He restrained a grin, but glanced her way to see if she’d figured it out yet.
He found her looking back at him, a bad mood wrinkling her forehead. Then her forehead smoothed as understanding dawned. A glimmer of horror darkened her eyes. She’s got it now. The realization finished with a steady glare of hate.
Steve looked at the road ahead. “Just as long as we understand each other.”
review for Darkness Falls
Wow when I got done with this I was at a loss for words! That doesn’t happen often at all! Darkness Falls is something like I’ve never read before.
I’ve never had a book where the person goes into a dream the way that Erin described in this book. There was intrigue, adventure, things that made you nervous and the ending, whoa!
I strongly recommend this wonderfully dark story and can’t mot wait for the next because I want to know more on Maisie!
I gave this book 5 Hoots