Read an Excerpt
The Wreck of Heaven
Book Two of The World Gates
Copper House, Ballahara, Nuue, Oria
Molly McColl tightened the laces on the heavy silk bodice and shrugged into the brocade overgown. Alive, she thought. I'm alive. I'm alive! I was dead, and now I'm alive, and I'm back in Copper House. She tried on a smile, but it didn't seem to fit.
She remembered dying all too clearly -- remembered taking her sister's kid through the gate between the worlds, only too slowly, because she'd been unwilling to do what she had to do. And her hesitation had almost cost three-year-old Jake his life.
Saving him had cost her hers. The healing that would have been so effortless on Oria had, on Earth, required her to take every bit of Jake's pain and all of his injuries into her own body. To absorb them. On Earth, she'd been only human, stripped of downworld magic and Vodi power. And on Earth she had died.
But now she was alive again, brought back by the Vodi magic. Brought back to Oria -- and in her head, the voices of long-dead Vodian whispered remembrance of their own deaths and rebirths and deaths again.
Molly had only been alive again for a few hours -- at least she could only remember the last few hours. She felt out of place in her own skin; she could not remember how she had arrived at Copper House. Her first memory was of stumbling naked through the forest. Her only clues about her return were the leaves in her hair and the dirt under her fingernails.
The sleek, heavy gold necklace purred around her neck almost as if it were a cat held to her throat. She didn't want to think about the necklace, or aboutbeing the Vodi; she didn't really want to think about being alive, or why that was wrong. She wanted to enjoy being with Seolar. She wanted to be in love, and happy, and carefree in a world as far from the trailer park in Cat Creek as any human being could conceivably get.
"You weren't born to be carefree," she muttered at her reflection in the mirror. The mirror only emphasized that truth. On Earth she'd been of average height, moderately attractive, and clearly human. Oria had changed that, and her unexpected return from death had changed it even more. Her hair now fell to her waist, its color a copper so glossy it looked metallic. She'd grown both taller and thinner -- she guessed she stood around six feet now, but couldn't be certain since she lacked any mechanism to convert local measurements to those familiar to her; she was still short by veyâr standards. The bone structure of her face had new angles, high cheekbones, and a sharp little chin. Her eyes stared back from the mirror, impossible emerald green, deeply slanted, and enormous. She still, thankfully, had the right number of fingers and toes. She glanced at the twelve-string guitar leaning in the corner of the room and tried to imagine learning to play all over again with the surfeit of digits on a pair of veyâr hands.
"You look breathtaking," Seolar, who was her beloved and the Imallin of Copper House, said softly. She could have said the same of him. His gold skin, darker gold hair, and jet-black eyes, his height and his grace gave him the air of some otherworld angel. Even the golden brown tattoos that curled and spiraled across his cheeks only added to his beauty.
She turned to him and smiled uncertainly. "Do I?"
"I swear it." The smile he gave her in return trembled at the corners, and she saw brightness in his eyes. He closed the distance between them with three steps, and pulled her into his arms. "Never leave me like that again. I was lost without you. I died inside, and only when you appeared on the balcony tonight did I start to breathe again."
Inside of Molly, the darkness descended. "I'm the Vodi," she whispered.
"I know. But I love you."
She nodded. "But I'm the Vodi." She pulled back so that she could look into his eyes. "Do you know what sort of lives my predecessors lived?"
"I read the old records. After you ... after you died ... " Seolar turned away from her and looked out the window at the last vestiges of twilight, at pale wisps of gold and pink streaked across the indigo sky. "I did little else but read, trying to understand."
"Then you know what happened to the Vodi."
"They were hunted. Mercilessly, by terrible enemies." He turned back to her. In a hoarse voice, he continued. "They died again and again. But that will not be your fate. I won't let it."
Molly said, "I hope you can stop it, Seo. You can't see the pictures I see, or hear the voices of the others. The necklace holds them close to me, and when I close my eyes and let them show me, I can see where the other Vodian went before me. They still have their horror. They're hollow -- they're ancient shells, and all that's left of them is the death and the pain and the fear. I close them out as much as I can. I don't want to go where they have been." As he turned to face her again, she added, "Not again, anyway."
"No. You are my love. You are my heart and s -- " His voice broke off, and an expression flashed across his face that worried Molly. "You are my heart and soul. I'll keep you safe." He put an arm around her and led her out of their suite ...The Wreck of Heaven
Book Two of The World Gates. Copyright � by Holly Lisle. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.