This thrilling sequel to Traveler doles out adventure and heartbreak in equal measure as it takes readers through a kaleidoscope of intricately crafted worlds of wonder, discovery, and danger.
You’re still you no matter where you go.
Jessa has learned the hard way that traveling to alternate dimensions isn’t all delicious, glittering desserts and fancy parties: it also means accidentally running into people she thought she'd never see again. Still mourning a devastating loss, Jessa isn’t really prepared for the arrival of a reckless version of someone she once loved who is now bent on revenge. Add an increasingly complicated relationship with her best friend Ben, the reappearance of an old enemy, and the threat of the multiverse collapsing, and Jessa’s got a lot on her plate. She may be destined to help save an infinite multitude of worlds… but in the end, all Jessa really wants to do is save her friends.
In Dreamer, the young adult fantasy follow up to Traveler, author L. E. DeLano delivers a gripping, emotional story that will leave readers on the edge of their seat.
Praise for Traveler:
"Featuring skillful world-building and carefully plotted suspense, this novel will leave readers eagerly awaiting the sequel." School Library Journal
“DeLano’s debut novel is full of mystery, action, and romance. Her masterful storyline will keep readers guessing until the very last sentence.” VOYA
“Spicy, electric and unputdownable. LOVED IT.” sfinnamore, reader on SwoonReads.com
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I'm staring at the barrel of a gun. It's black and there are grooves on the handle. A finger is on the trigger and I feel my whole body begin to shake.
I know what guns do, and it hasn't been long enough since I've seen one pointed at another person. My hands curl into fists as I feel the helpless rage rush through me. I need to do something. I glance left, then right, then back at the gun. There's still time — I can run for help, if I can just get to the door before I'm seen.
If I was anywhere but where I was, I would have made it.
I step back into the aisle of the convenience store, behind a display of sunglasses, and as I pass a display for beef jerky, the edge of my hoodie catches on one of the hooks and the whole thing tilts over with a screech of metal. The man whirls instantly, turning the gun on me, and I freeze, putting my hands up, still staring at that gun.
Here's where I get yelled at.
"Shall we go on?" Mario asks sharply as he gestures to the scene appearing on the whiteboard behind him — a replay of my last assignment.
For the last six weeks these assignments have been my life. I've been out every day shifting into other realities, making corrections and living other versions of my life. I was grateful for the distraction at first, and it's always interesting to see who I could have been if fate had sent things another way, but lately it's been dragging me down, making all these little changes in somebody else's world.
We're sent to the other realities because we're too invested in our own. We'd want to check up on the changes we made, or put our own spin on them based on our familiarity with the world we're in. But I've learned that it's not always so easy to stay out of someone else's business — especially when someone else is still you. There are so many variables.
Mario keeps track of all that — that's what Dreamers do. They guide Travelers as they make the tiny changes in other realities that end up rippling into bigger changes somewhere down the line. We meet up here, in this white classroom with its vivid red door — which is not really reality but a construct I go to when I dream. Here I get my assignments, and here I get debriefed. Or yelled at.
"I remembered to ask the guy at the counter for directions," I say, wincing.
Mario gives me a stony look. "Let's rewind and see how we got here, shall we?"
He passes a hand in front of the whiteboard and the scene devolves, coalescing into a shot of the convenience store and me walking in. I spot my target right away and head straight to the counter, asking him for directions to Stilton Street. He draws me a map on the back of a napkin, I thank the counter guy for his help, and then — I break protocol.
The magazines here all have holographic covers, and it throws me. I'm fascinated by the 3-D effect, and I pause instead of moving on.
I take my time looking at each one before I turn to leave, but I'm interrupted by the front door slamming open so hard it nearly shatters the glass. A man with a gun in his hand heads straight for the counter as I stare, wide-eyed.
"Open the register," he says, pointing the gun right in the clerk's face.
I realize this isn't the best place to be right now, so I start slowly backing down the aisle — and then accidentally snag on the beef jerky display, which rocks and then topples to the ground.
The robber pivots, leveling the gun on me.
Suddenly, the counter guy springs into action. He leaps over the counter and slams into the robber, throwing him to the ground. The gun goes off, hitting the soda machine, which lets out a loud hiss. Another clerk runs out from the back, shrieks, and then presses the alarm button, setting off a claxon that can surely be heard on the street. I leap back as the two men struggle before me.
Then I notice the gun — it must've fallen from the robber's hand when he hit the ground. I start to reach for it, and then I stop myself. Then I reach for it again, and I'm hyperventilating.
I've never held a gun in my life.
But this me has.
I pick up the gun — it's a semiautomatic handgun — a Taurus PT 111. Somehow, I know that. I quickly use my thumb to press in on the magazine release. I toss the magazine into a trash can nearby, and I slide the gun across the floor under the displays, as far away as I can.
A moment later, sirens cut the air, and the robber is on his feet, looking around frantically for his gun. He locks eyes with me, and for a moment, I wonder if he's going to come after me, but I suppose he decides he's better off running. He's out the door in a flash.
"You okay?" I ask the clerk. He gives me a nod, holding a napkin to his bleeding mouth, and I head for the door. "His gun is under the candy display, over there," I say. "I'm going to go get some air."
I can hear him calling after me as I run for the door, and I keep on running, slowing down a few blocks away and putting my fingers to the window of an empty storefront in order to transfer myself back to my reality.
My mother had been more than a little shocked to see me shaking and panting as I stood in front of the microwave with my hand on the door, but I imagine my counterpart was equally surprised to be waiting for popcorn one minute and hyped up on adrenaline and dripping sweat in the next.
"So ...," Mario says, turning away from the dimming scene on the whiteboard. "How do you think that went?"
I wince. "You mean my nearly getting killed?"
He stares at me stonily. "You were supposed to get in there and then get out. Leave the store, head to the laundromat next door, transfer back from the bathroom."
"It all came out okay," I defend myself weakly. Honestly, seeing it all happen again is making my palms sweat. I know I'm in the dreamscape, but I wonder if I'll wake up with sweaty palms.
"You didn't complete the assignment," he says. "If you'd gone into the laundromat, a young mother who was there would have seen you and remembered to call her brother's ex-girlfriend because she owns that same shirt. There were big ripples on this one. Big."
"Good to know you're so concerned about me," I grumble.
"You had a job to do and only did part of it," he snaps. "And if you'd left right after you did what you were supposed to do, you wouldn't have been looking down the barrel of a gun."
"You could have told me what was going to happen!"
"It wasn't even a probability at the time I briefed you," Mario said. "There were too many variables that still hadn't fallen into place. Free will changes the way the future unfolds, and that's part of why you're sent to make corrections in the first place."
I straighten my shoulders. "I handled it."
"You shouldn't have had to." Mario runs his hand through his hair so hard that it would have yanked out strands if he were human. "Let's salvage something from this," he finally says, leaning back against his teacher's desk. "How did you know what to do with the gun?"
"I — the other Jessa, I mean — she knew about guns. My mom is dating a cop in her reality. He takes me out shooting sometimes."
"Exactly. So you searched through your applicable memories and drew on the knowledge that was necessary to work through the situation."
"I — yeah, I guess so."
"Not every job is going to go smoothly. The trick is to keep your wits about you — which is something you did manage to do. I'd still prefer you not take any chances — at least until we get Rudy and Eversor rounded up."
"It's been weeks without a sign of either one of them," I remind him. "Eversor hasn't tried to finish killing me, and Rudy is stripped of his Dreamer powers somewhere."
"Somewhere in the vast, undefined boundaries of the dreamscape," he reminds me. "He'll have to show himself sooner or later — and knowing how bent he was on his cause, my guess is sooner."
"That's what you said last week. And the week before." I don't even try to hide my irritation. "You've had me traveling out practically every day, and there's been no sign of him, or of Eversor."
"We were close last week," he defends himself. "You just missed her in that reality with the archaeological dig."
"You think. You don't know."
"I don't know what she's up to yet," he concedes. "But we've got them on the run, and that's half the battle."
"Maybe they've given up. They can't beat us."
He makes a slashing motion with his hand in refusal. "We can't afford to think that way. That may be just what they want — to lull us into dropping our guard. We have to stay vigilant — and careful."
"What do you think they could do that we wouldn't see coming?" I ask in exasperation.
"That's a good question," Mario snaps back. "And a rather frightening one, don't you think?" He turns back to the whiteboard, drumming his fingers against his chin as he studies it.
"I've got another assignment," he says. "It's short. Shouldn't take you more than fifteen minutes. I'll send you somewhere you've been before, so there won't be any surprises."
The scene comes to life behind him.
"Is that ... Philadelphia?" I tilt my head, remembering the train station.
"Yes. You'll come through here at eight thirty," Mario tells me. "Buy a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. Then head down to platform four, get on the eight forty-five train. Take a seat at first, close to the door. You'll see a teenage girl with red hair — offer her a stick of gum. Once she gets off the train, stand up, grab one of the metal poles, and transfer back when you see yourself in it. It'll be good practice — using a bended reflection."
Mario has been adamant that I keep my skills sharp. He's right, of course. I need to stay in practice. And considering I haven't had much practice to begin with, I suppose I can't afford to slack off. I don't want to be cornered somewhere just because I'm not practiced enough to get myself out of there.
I shudder at the memory of how I nearly came to an end once just because I couldn't travel through water in dim light. That's not going to happen again. I even sleep with my compact mirror under my pillow now.
"Let's keep it simple," he tells me. "I've pushed you into all this far too quickly, and without the benefit of a mentor these last weeks."
That sentence hangs in the air between us, and the pain starts squeezing my belly, radiating up into my chest. Finn was my mentor. And Finn is gone.
"Fine." My voice is high and tight. I stride to the door and reach for the knob.
"I'm sorry, Jessa," Mario says quietly from behind me.
I step through without looking back and wake in my bed in the dark of my room, rubbing my chest as though I can make the pain go away. It doesn't work.
"Jessa kicked herself in the face!"
My brother is exuberant, bursting with this tidbit as I slide into my place at the dinner table. My mother's eyebrows go up and she shoots me a look.
"I didn't kick my face," I explain. "It was just a high kick."
"You could break your nose!" he countered. "You could have a bloody nose!"
"I don't, Danny," I say, turning to show him. "Look."
"Was it bloody before?" he asks. "When you kicked it?"
I try not to roll my eyes. Danny means well, and he certainly can't help it when his autism makes him dwell on something. But it does get tiring sometimes.
"Danny, enough. I'm fine, okay?"
"You shouldn't kick your face, Jessa," he admonishes again.
"So I'm guessing rehearsal went well today?" Mom asks as she passes me a bowl of green beans.
"It was all right. Saturday is dress rehearsal — costumes and on the stage."
"I can't wait to see it. You've been so secretive about it all, not letting me watch. You're not doing a striptease or anything, are you?" she quips.
"At a retirement home?"
"Just making sure."
"Don't kick anybody," Danny warns.
"I'll do my best," I promise, stretching my legs out in front of me and reaching down to rub my knee. My muscles feel a little sore; maybe I — or should I say, "she" — did overdo the kicks a little.
Six weeks ago, I traveled through a mirror and discovered yet another of the many selves I inhabit, in a multitude of alternate realities. This particular Jessa is a dancer, and in her reality, our mother is dead. I'm helping her out by swapping places two nights a week so she can perform for Mom. So, a week after my first transfer with her, I started taking dance.
I know it's been a real challenge for her, whipping my nondancer body into shape in such a short period of time. Five weeks of dance classes normally wouldn't be enough to bring me up to her level of expertise, but when my body is just a vehicle being driven by a girl who's had dance classes for a couple of years, muscle memory is really the only hurdle. She put some definite memory into my muscles today.
"Sore?" Mom asks, watching me knead my calf.
"You're really pushing yourself with this dance stuff."
"I know. I like it."
"You don't need to be so driven about it," she says. I see her eyes slide in my direction again, with that same worried look she's been wearing for more than a month now. I sigh inwardly, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"You know, Jessa ..."
Ugh. Here it comes.
"Maybe you should relax after the recital is over. Take some time off. I was talking to Mrs. Lampert about your schedule —"
My head snaps up. "Mrs. Lampert? When were you talking to my school counselor?"
"I e-mailed her last week and we were going back and forth —"
"Wait." I hold up a hand. "Why are you 'going back and forth' with Mrs. Lampert? I'm doing fine. My grades are good."
"This is about more than grades," Mom says. "She has some concerns, after all that's happened. And so do I."
I want to groan out loud. In the weeks that followed Finn's death — and Ms. Eversor's disappearance — all hell broke loose around here.
My former creative writing teacher, Ms. Eversor, apparently tendered her resignation at the high school the morning of our confrontation at the old Greaver mine. She left at lunchtime and never came back. That was only half of the scandal. She disappeared on the same day as another student — who happened to be male and more than a little good-looking. The last anyone heard, she had booked a flight to Mexico, probably to avoid prosecution. The speculation was that I'd lost my boyfriend to a predatory teacher. The looks I was and still am getting, the whispers, the talk that stops as soon as I come into a room (or worse, doesn't stop) are now finally dying down, but that doesn't make it any more bearable when it happens.
I was questioned in my mother's presence by an officer from the local police department regarding the incident, but since Finn was recorded as being just over eighteen, and the teacher had already resigned (and no one could find either one of them) the incident wasn't pursued further.
This, of course, led to a full-on sit-down talking-to from both of my parents, who could see how devastated I was over all this. They had no idea, of course, that I was being hunted by a reality-shifting teacher working on behalf of an immortal being who wants to wipe out most of the universe.
Add into all this the stress of college applications, facing the last semester of my senior year ... and Finn's death. Let's just say it's a lot to deal with.
"I'm fine," I say tightly. "Everything is fine."
"You've been pushing yourself too hard," Mom says. "First with this dance thing and then with school. You spend all your free time up in your room studying and doing homework. It's like we never see you anymore. And when we do see you — well, you're different. Changed."
"That's because she kicked herself in the face," Danny interjects.
Mom lets out a long breath. "Now really isn't the time to have this conversation," she says.
"No, it's not," I snap. "We don't need to have it at all."
"Honey, what is wrong with you?" she asks. "Honestly, it's like you're a different person lately. You're so preoccupied."
It's been like this for weeks — she's always nudging, prodding me, trying to figure out why I've changed so much. I can't tell her what I've been through. I can't tell her that I'm different because I'm not always the Jessa she knows.
"I'm just stressed. I have a big assignment due," I grit out. I do have an assignment due, in creative writing.
"Well, if it's got you that wound up, you should work on it and get it out of the way. When is it due?"
Her eyebrows go up. "Then you'd better get started."
"Yes, ma'am," I say, giving her a salute. My sarcasm goes over badly. I push away from the table and stomp up the stairs to my room.
"Don't kick yourself!" Danny calls after me.
I sink down onto my bed, wishing it could be that easy. If only I could kick myself in the head and forget all this.
I yank my messenger bag up onto the bed beside me and pull out my journal, tossing it aside. Then I reach for some loose-leaf paper and lay my binder on my lap like a desk as I stare at the blank sheets. I pick up my pen, tapping it impatiently on the edge of my binder, willing something — anything — to come to my mind.
Excerpted from "Dreamer"
Copyright © 2018 L. E. DeLano.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Needless Jeopardy,
Chapter 2: Escape,
Chapter 3: Unexpected,
Chapter 4: Tired,
Chapter 5: Out of Hibernation,
Chapter 6: Like the Perfect Romantic Comedy,
Chapter 7: History Repeats Itself,
Chapter 8: A Definite Maybe,
Chapter 9: Danny's Dream,
Chapter 10: The Visitor,
Chapter 11: Assigned,
Chapter 12: Under the Surface,
Chapter 13: Betrayed,
Chapter 14: Motivations,
Chapter 15: The Gloves Come Off,
Chapter 16: Sparring Match,
Chapter 17: Beginnings,
Chapter 18: A Night to Remember,
Chapter 19: Date Night,
Chapter 20: A Little Girl Time,
Chapter 21: Friends with Connections,
Chapter 22: A Series of Unlikely Events,
Chapter 23: Returned,
Chapter 24: Revelation,
Chapter 25: The Unwanted Guest,
Chapter 26: Aftermath,
Chapter 27: A Little Touch of Magic,
Chapter 28: The Question of Us,
Chapter 29: Fate,
Chapter 30: Adrift,
Chapter 31: Law & Order,
Chapter 32: Torn,
Chapter 33: Splintered,
Chapter 34: The Plan,
Chapter 35: The End of the Story,
Chapter 36: Coming Down,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had really enjoyed the first book of this series, so I was pretty eager to get into this one. I still liked Jessa and Ben and Finn. Danny might have been the best part of this one and I wish we could have gotten more of him in some capacity. He’s so aware in a different way and it was an avenue that would have been interesting to see. Plot wise, there’s a lot of push and pull, but not from the “bad guy” of the story. Sadly, that seemed to take a backseat to Jessa’s love life. There are a few accidents and near miss situations, but even in those scenes, it somehow came back to the boys. The last 50 pages or so are sort of anti-climatic and even though I liked the final scenes, I definitely expected more. Overall, it’s a clever idea and had characters I really liked. I can’t wait to see what this author does next. **Huge thanks to Swoon Reads for providing the arc free of charge**