Oh, no! Johanna Charette and Jackson Roth have allowed a sneaky shapeshifter to slip right through their fingers. The good news is that he’s now trapped between the layers of time and space with their Terrorian nemesis, Nero 51. The bad news is the Terrorian wants to control all the Libraries of Illumination, while the shapeshifter wants to control everything else. Who knows how long the Illumini system will remain safe? It’s taking a toll on Johanna and Jackson, who are smack in the center of everything as they struggle to protect the libraries’ legacy. Can you spell s-t-r-e-s-s? The pressure is driving a stake between the teens, and their mercurial romance could be over before it has truly begun.
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Third Chronicles of Illumination Except
After dinner, Jackson asked Johanna to take a walk around the block so he could “work off” his steak. The sun slipped below the tree line and the streetlights came on as they walked. He took Johanna’s hand and gently rubbed his thumb over her knuckle. “I think we need a plan.”
“There’s really not that much we can do,” she answered, “until the Terrorians strike.”
“I’m not talking about the Terrorians. I mean we need a plan.”
She pulled her hand from his. “This is not a good time to be thinking about your raging hormones. We may be fighting a war soon, and I think that takes precedence.”
He let out an audible breath. “It has nothing to do with raging hormones. You talked about taking college courses. I want to take some, too. I’d like to look at a class schedule and decide what courses I want to take, but we need to make sure the library is covered. We need to coordinate when our classes will be so everything runs smoothly.”
“Where’s the real Jackson Roth? And who are you?”
“You’re thinking so pragmatically; you sound like me.”
“Well, I was going to ask you if I could stay on living at the library after my family goes back home, but when you started in on my ‘raging hormones,’ I decided to switch gears.”
“I knew it. But you’re right.”
He twirled her around. “I can move in permanently?”
“I meant about the class schedule. We really should decide on that now. Most students have already registered for the fall semester.”
Jackson’s shoulders slumped. “Oh.”
“Let’s just take a wait-and-see approach about your other ‘plan.’”
He raised his eyebrows. “You mean you’ll actually consider it?”
She smiled at how quickly he perked up. “It’s a possibility. You turn eighteen in October, and considering you’ll be old enough to get drafted or vote, I think you’ll have the maturity to know you’ll be living here as a curator and that we’re not playing house.”
“Not playing house. Right. But I could still do this sometimes, couldn’t I?” He slid his arms around her and pulled her in for a kiss. She wrapped her arms around his waist, and they melted into one another in the twilight. The horn of a passing car broke through their sudden show of passion. “Get a room,” someone shouted out the window.
They could hear laughing as the car drove away. Jackson shook his head. “Jokers.”
“Do you hear that?”
A soft mewling sound came from nearby shrubbery.
“Yeah.” Jackson walked over and bent down, pushing the branches away. A tiny white kitten with bloody fur huddled against the stem. “It’s a kitten. It looks like it’s injured.” He reached for it. The kitten battled him with her claw, drawing blood. “And now I’m injured, too,” Jackson said, pulling his hand away.
“Move over.” Johanna crouched down next to him and chanted a few words from one of Myrddin’s calming spells. She reached for the kitten and removed it from under the bush without a problem. “She’s hurt. Let’s take her back to the library, clean her up, and see what we can do for her.”
“Shouldn’t we take her straight to the vet?”
“Now that I have a few of Myrddin’s tricks up my sleeve, I’d like to try them out.”
Jackson spoke sweetly to the injured animal. “You used to be a kitten, but now you’re a guinea pig.”
“Don’t listen to him,” she said softly to the little ball of fluff. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
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