Author: Stephanie Thomas
Pub. Date: January, 2015
Beatrice never thought she’d find herself in the middle of Aura, the city of her sworn enemy, the Dreamcatchers. Nor did she never think she’d abandon everything she’d ever known and everyone she’d ever loved to blindly follow Echo, the Dreamcatcher Prince. Gabe would never forgive her, if he lives, and nor will any of the Seers. Upon arriving, Beatrice is quickly thrown into the Dreamcatcher Queen’s self-serving plot to save Aura from a disastrous plague, and Bea’s anticipated return to the City is becoming less likely every day she is held captive and subjected to the epidemic. Her Visions are the key to the cure, but when her Seer friends show up in Aura as well, Beatrice must learn to balance her precarious friendship and loyalty to both her people and the promise she made to help Echo’s people. As Beatrice navigates these new people and customs, she learns that there are more than just the Seers, Dreamcatchers and Citizens left in the world…and whomever is out there wants to eliminate all of their competition — including her.
Echo was right. I hadn’t seen anything yet. As the limousine cruises up to the gates of Aura, I can’t do anything but stare out the window in complete awe. Aura is the complete opposite of The City. I immediately understand where it gets its name from, with its golden-hued buildings and sparkling, translucent glass windows. Everything glitters, even the sand as it whips around the tall walls that protect the city from the dry gusts of wind.
I place my fingers on the limo’s window and press my forehead to the glass to get a better look. I can feel Echo’s eyes on me as I react probably as a child would at the first sight of something they’ve never seen before. There are no skyscrapers here, no crowded, jumbled row homes with sooty exteriors. The buildings are no more than two floors high, allowing for a precious view of the almost purple mountains that peek up in the distance.
“Echo…this is beautiful…”
“Thank you. This is the home of the Dreamcatcher. After The City banished us, we had to travel a long way to find a place where we’d be safe from attack. We chose this area because it’s so dry, hot and humid, that we don’t know who’d willingly want to come out here. Besides us, of course.”
Echo scoots over on the leather seat to sidle up closer to me. “It is beautiful though, isn’t it? This is my first homecoming, to be honest. I’ve never been out of Aura for this long.”
The gates into the city proper click secure when they are fully-opened, and the limo pulls forward once more. As soon as we are moving again, I can see the crowds of people who line the main street, which leads directly to an impressive palace that stands center of Aura, just like our Institution does in the City. The people are all dressed in white, some with different colored trims on their robes. They reach out for the car, calling for Echo, wanting to see their prince.
As we pull around a circle in front of the Palace, the courtyard is also filled with Dreamcatchers, cheering for Echo’s arrival.
He brushes a hand down his robe, smoothing the wrinkles from the soft fabric. “Are you ready?”
Then, a sudden fear grips me. “Do they know I am with you?”
Echo’s gaze meets mine. “No.”
I want to slap him, and it takes everything in me not to lose my temper. “What?”
“They don’t know you are with me. I did not tell anyone I was bringing you home. It is a part of my strategy.”
I lock the limo’s doors. We stare at each other for a long while, my chest rising and falling in anger. “How could you put me in this situation, Echo? I am The Keeper. I’m the leader of your enemy. You are putting me in great danger, and you know you are.”
Echo, in his ever-calm way, reaches out and helps pull the hood of my robe up over my head. “You will be fine, because you are my guest. And it is a law in Aura that we must treat our guests with utmost respect.” He pauses. “Not that we get any
Now, I do smack him. My hand makes contact with his arm, and I scowl. “You better not get me hurt.”
“Listen to them. They are too happy to see me. I doubt they’ll even take notice of you. No offense.” Echo unlocks the doors and slides across the seat to the other side, where he can exit first. “Driver, we are ready.”
The chauffeur exits the vehicle and appears again beside Echo’s door. As soon as he opens it, the sound of cheering rushes into the car and Echo sucks in a deep breath. He steps out, and when I see his hand lower back into the limo, I reach for it and gently rest my palm against his, using the offered support to help me out of the car.
As my feet touch the floor, my robes fall all around me like darkness covering the day, and I’m free of the limousine. Lifting my chin, my eyes move from the ground to the people, and I swallow as the cheering comes to an abrupt stop when they see my violet irises. Almost all at once, they take a step back, and no one makes a sound.
I tighten my grip around Echo’s hand, sure that in the next moment, they are going to rush us and kill me where I stand. Here I am, their sworn enemy, the representation of The Keeper before me who persecuted them, ran them out of The City and killed many of them, including their princess. I stand before them as if none of that had ever happened. I know, if I were in their place, I’d certainly want to see myself dead too.
Muttering very quietly to Echo, I tug on his hand, “Let’s go.”
Stephanie Thomas has been writing ever since she could put letters together to form words. When she was a small child, she would present her mother and father with self-made newspapers filled up with make believe stories and pictures. Her love for writing followed her all throughout her schooling, where she entered and won writing contests of all sorts. Stephanie decided to become an English teacher and completed her B.A. at The Pennsylvania State University. While teaching, she later went on to get her Master’s in writing from The Johns Hopkins University. She completed her very first manuscript during her graduate studies, and by the end of the program, she had completed two more. Stephanie is quick to tell anyone that she’s a born and raised Philadelphian, and her heart will always belong there. She moved to Baltimore with her husband, and they’ve been living there for the last five years with their doggie, Sailor.