Jayne Ann Krentz, also known as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, has a scene from her brilliant Illusion Town for us today! Jayne’s world? Head on over to Harmony and discover a whole world where some natural-born talents have created some very dangerous people – and dust bunnies are real!
This scene takes place shortly after Hannah West wakes up next to a man she barely knows, Elias Coppersmith. Neither of them can remember what happened during the night . . .
“The night clerk is still on duty downstairs,” Elias said. “He remembers checking us in. He also said no one showed up asking questions about us.”
“Well, that sounds like good news,” Hannah said. “Sort of. I guess.”
“Yeah, that’s my take on it. Assuming he wasn’t lying, of course. But I’m inclined to believe him.”
“Because we’re still here and there’s no indication that anyone has tried to get into this room.” Elias angled his head toward Virgil. “Also, your dust bunny pal doesn’t seem to be concerned.”
Hannah looked at Virgil. He was fully fluffed. You could hardly see his ears or his six paws and only his baby blue eyes were showing. When things got serious, his second set of eyes – the ones he used for hunting – popped open. He was in full cute mode at the moment. That was reassuring.
“Good point,” she said. “But why are we dressed up? It looks like we went out on the town.”
“A date, I think,” Elias said.
“I never date clients.”
“First time for everything.”
“Let’s start with the basics,” she said. “Where, exactly are we?”
“The Shadow Zone Motel.” Elias plucked an old brochure off the nightstand and handed it to her. “ ‘A luxurious retreat and spa in the heart of the Shadow Zone. Every amenity designed with your privacy in mind. Honeymoons our specialty.’”
“Honeymoons, hmm?” She surveyed the room, taking in the shabby furnishings, yellowed walls and worn carpet. “Looks like a hot sheet kind of place.”
“Yeah, that pretty much describes it. But it seems clean. Probably why we chose it.”
She started toward the bathroom. The room shifted on its axis and then settled back into place. She stopped abruptly and massaged her temples, trying desperately to recover some memories. The harder she tried, the more elusive the fleeting images became.
“Damn it, what happened to us?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” Elias went to the window. He used the barrel of the strange weapon to ease the blinds aside. “Best guess is that we got psi-burned sometime last night. Somehow we found this place, checked in and crashed.”
Psi-burned. That was not good. She tried to remember what she knew about getting burned. The effects were notoriously unpredictable and could vary from temporary amnesia to serious trauma or even complete destruction of the paranormal senses. A really bad psi-burn could kill.
“We’re not dead,” she said.
“There’s that,” he agreed.
She groped for memories and got only fleeting, meaningless flashes. A dark street. The full-throated roar of a big motorcycle engine. A cupcake iced with white frosting.
Another little rush of panic flickered through her, tightening her breathing. Maybe she was hallucinating. She told herself to process things slowly.
“I need to wash up,” she said. “Maybe some cold water will clear my head.”
“Good luck with that. Didn’t do much for me. Just make it quick.”
“Who, exactly, do you think is after us?”
“I have no idea,” Elias said.
“Oh, hey, don’t try to sugarcoat your answer.”
“Sorry. Figured you’d want the truth.”
“I do.” She paused. “I think.”
She started toward the bathroom again, automatically rezzing a little talent. Overwhelming relief snapped through her when she felt her para senses stir in response. Between one breath and the next the room was suddenly illuminated in a range of colors that she had not been able to perceive while in her normal vision.
Not that the place looked any more attractive when viewed in light from the paranormal ends of the spectrum, she thought. It was still a hot sheet motel.
“Yeah, I’ve still got my talent, too,” Elias said. “Whatever burned us didn’t wipe out our para senses, just our memories of last night.”
She stared at him. “You could feel me rez my senses?”
“Sure. Hard to not notice. You’re strong.”
That was true. But it took a powerful talent to sense that sort of thing from across the room.
Well, she had known that he was a high-end talent, she reminded herself. She hurried toward the bathroom.
“I’ll be out in a minute,” she said.
“By the way, one more thing you should know about our current situation,” Elias said.
She paused in the doorway and looked back at him. “How bad is this one more thing?”
“Depends on your point of view. We’re married.”
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