Authors: Erica Orloff
“The dream is always the same. This long hallway. The keys. The doors. Searching for him.”
How can I explain it? I didn’t even know it until just then. That the guy in that theater—the face I finally got to see after all these years—is the love of my life. I’m sixteen. I know that sounds crazy. Not to mention he only exists in my dreams. Instead, I mumble, “I don’t know.”
Dr. Koios nods. “Well, I’ll tell you what. Let’s try again next week. Same time. We’ll see if we can’t conquer these nightmares together. Until then, don’t do anything differently. Let’s wait to use the technique in my office, where I’m sure you’re safe and I can guide you. All right?”
His face is kindly, and I find myself nodding.
But really, inside I’m dying a little. Because all I can think about is getting back to Sebastian.
Finally. A name. And a face. To go with the voice of the man of my dreams.
The Corner of Bitter and Sweet
A Countess Below Stairs
The Truth About Forever
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in the United States of America by Speak,
an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2014
Copyright © 2014 by Erica Orloff
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA IS AVAILABLE
Speak ISBN: 978-1-101-66314-1
To Alexa, Nicholas, Isabella, and Jack
And to sweet Zaid
An enormous thank you to my supportive editor, Jennifer Bonnell, who is a dream to work with.
Thank you to my agent, Jay Poynor, for loving the concept.
To Charlie Long, a great writer and critique partner, who catches my many gaffes. Our coffee-fueled sessions have meant a lot to me.
To the usual suspects, you know who you are.
To Pam Morrell, Marybeth Johnson, G. L. Yates, and Barb “B. B.” Bingham, for everything you have done for me this last year especially as I fought a hard battle. I am so blessed to have such amazing women in my life. Like Aphrodite in this book, you rock.
A thank you to Trudy Hale and the Porches writing retreat, a place where I can unplug and write to my heart’s content.
And finally, to my children, Alexa, Nick, Bella, and Jack the Pirate Boy. I love you to the ends of the earth, to the world of dreams and back.
O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
HENRY IV, PART II
About the Author
Erica Orloff is the author of
, and, as Erica Kirov, the middle-grade fantasy series The Magickeepers. She is an avid Yankees fan, loves to garden, and lives with her large family in a very crowded house in Virginia. She may be reached at www.ericaorloff.com.
Table of Contents
Dreams are true while they last,
and do we not live in dreams?
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
he dream remains the same.
I am searching for him. I walk, terrified, down a long, dark hallway of many doors. I hear every shallow, agonizing breath I take. I hear my own heart crashing against my rib cage. He needs me. My mouth is dry, acid burning my throat. In my dream, I have a large circular brass key ring, and hundreds of elegant, intricate old-fashioned keys clank and rattle with each step. Each key opens a lock on one of the myriad doors. Some doors are tall, and some are so short I would have to duck to enter them. Some are wooden and heavy. Some are painted red or black or the color of the sky. And behind each door is its own universe, each one unique. Some are beautiful, achingly so, worlds I never want to leave.
Some are as dark as a coffin. The dark ones frighten me so much I fear dying. In my dreams, I am always longing for him.
I never find him.
Tonight is no different. I wake up, soaked with sweat, and sit up in my bed. The light is already on. It is always on, because I wake from my dreams and nightmares so upset, heart thumping in my chest, that I crave the light. I’m sixteen and still afraid of the dark.
My cat stares at me from the foot of my bed, his yellow-green eyes enigmatic. He rolls over to have his belly scratched.
“No, Puck,” I whisper, rubbing my fingers through his calico fur. “I didn’t find him.”
I grab my dream notebook from my nightstand and scribble what I remember.