There are three things Kori knows for sure about her life:
One: Her army general dad is insanely overprotective.
Two: The guy he sent to watch her, Cade, is way too good-looking.
Three: Everything she knew was a lie.
Now there are three things Kori never knew about her life:
One: There’s a device that allows her to jump dimensions.
Two: Cade’s got a lethal secret.
Three: Someone wants her dead.
The Infinity Division series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Infinity
Book #2 Omega
Book #3 Alpha
About the Author
JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food.
Jus is the bestselling author of the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing, as well as the Darker Agency series, and the New Adult series, The Eternal Balance. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.
Read an Excerpt
By Jas Accardo, Liz Pelletier
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Jus Accardo
All rights reserved.
"It's a miracle I haven't been caught yet ..."
Sure, I was technically talking to myself. And yes, in some circles that might fall strictly under the someone get Kori Anderson a white jacket with pretty silver buckles and rubber room, stat category. But this thing was freaking huge — and no one had a clue I was the culprit. I was pretty damn proud.
I'd heard chatter around town, and even at school. It was thrilling to hear them talk. An even mix of opinions ranging from pure vandalism to unequivocal talent. Some nights I wondered what they'd do to me if my identity were discovered. An award or scholarship to a prestigious art school? A slap on the wrist or a short stint in the pokey to teach me a lesson? No matter what, it would have all been worth it.
The spray can fizzled and spit until nothing but air came out. "Damn." I set it down, resisting the urge to send it flying across the grass. Along with my thick chestnut-colored hair and dark brown eyes, I'd inherited a good portion of Mom's hair-trigger temper. Running out of midnight blue was going to cost me time I didn't have.
I'd started the mural less than five hours after my mother died. Dad was on a mission at the time, but I was there. I'd been right beside her when she slipped away. Funny how even when you can see something like death coming from miles away, it always seems to take you by surprise. A sucker punch to the tender parts that shreds your insides good and proper.
I sat there for hours, shocked despite the inevitability of it all, with my cheek pressed against hers, until her skin had cooled and my entire body went numb. The memory was still so clear, her last words, Promise me that you'll live your life in vivid color, still haunted my every move. Sometimes at night, when I lingered at the halfway point — not awake, yet not really asleep — I'd find myself transported back two years, to that hospital room. The sound of the machines filling the painful silence. The sharp scent of disinfectant and medicine, along with her unnatural stillness. I would never forget the look of her skin missing that subtle vibrancy that came with life.
When I finally found the strength to leave her behind and walk from the building, it was almost midnight. There were men from the army base waiting to take me home. Dad's subordinates were all nice, but I'd wanted to be alone. Needed it. I gave them the slip and wandered around the city for an hour, finally ending up on the edge of Clifton Park. That's when I found it. The wall.
I ran my fingers over the uneven brick. When I pulled them away, there was the smallest trace of blue on the tips. I'd gotten the night sky done, and most of the stars. They'd been the hardest. Partially because eight feet of the wall was night sky, and also because of the subtle shape I'd arranged them in. The only things left were the silhouette of a woman, a few finishing touches, and the words. Love from here to infinity.
It's what had been etched into my parents' wedding bands. What I would insist be etched into mine, should I ever find a guy willing to put up with my array of irritating habits and low tolerance temper. It's what mom said to me each night before I drifted to sleep ... Real love, she always said, knew no bounds. It wasn't hindered by space or time. It couldn't be weakened by death. Real love started in your heart and went straight through to infinity.
I set the empty spray-paint can down and grinned at my masterpiece. Pulling the clip from the edge of my shirt, I twisted my long hair and secured it atop my head. If all went well — and I managed to bring the right supplies — a few weeks and I'd be finished. I would have to be careful, though. Getting caught would be disastrous at this point.
Something crackled behind me. The kind of sound a shoe made as it stomped down on twigs, or leaves ... I whirled around, heart hammering, and saw ... nothing. It was just me, the trees, and the wall.
The wall ... It had become something of an urban legend in the area. I'd done so many over the years. Everything from jungle scenes loaded with exotic animals stalking their prey, to panoramic landscapes of treetops and epic mountain ranges. Whatever my mind deemed peaceful at the time. Each time we moved I'd pick an out-of-the-way spot, something dank and depressing, and work my magic. Turning garbage to gold, I liked to think of it. The previous ones hadn't been easy. Living on base made nighttime forays into the city impossible. I'd had to be crafty. Pick low traffic areas I could work on during the day when it wouldn't look suspicious leaving the base.
This last one was different, though. Much more personal than the others and, obviously, far more visible. I'd chosen the inside section of the wall around the park, about a hundred feet from the lake. Unlike the other ones, this needed to be seen. Proper tribute needed to be paid. But my choice in location had come with a price.
For months after I'd started, the police patrolled the park looking for the vandal — aka me. The whole thing pissed me off. Here I was adding a little culture and class to an otherwise dreary area and they wanted to punish me for it? Once I'd even had to start again. Seven months in, the mayor had city workers paint over my work to prove that vandalism wouldn't be tolerated. Because the grime-covered wall with its chipped bricks and scattered profanity were so much better than actual art? I'd been crushed at the time, but a few weeks of crying and a whole lot of peach frozen yogurt later, and I came back with a vengeance, determined to show the world my tribute to an amazing woman.
The wind kicked up, and I heard it again. Definitely not my imagination. And this time when I turned, I saw that I wasn't alone. "Oh my God!"
"Not quite," the guy said.
He was tall — probably just over six feet — with a long face and dark hair. He took a single step forward. The move brought him into the full beam of the park light, revealing brown eyes and a somewhat crooked nose. He'd broken it at one point, I guessed. But the injury gave his face depth. Personality. As an artist, I lived for the imperfections. The small details that made things unique. Perfection was boring. Give me complication and bumpy roads and I was a happy girl.
I glanced at the wall, then turned back to him. "I, uh ..." Yeah. What was I supposed to say here? I was standing in front of the wall, paint cans all over the ground at my feet, covered in blue. There wasn't any way to talk myself out of this.
He snickered, but said nothing.
"This isn't what it looks like?" I tried.
Still, nothing. All he did was stare — which was starting to freak me out a little.
"Are you okay?" He didn't look homeless, but maybe he'd been in an accident? "Do you need help?"
"Oookay then," I said, taking a step back. "Well, if you speak English, do me a favor and don't rat me out."
He laughed again, and took a single step toward me. "You have bigger things to worry about." Then, without another word, he turned and started to walk away.
"I think that's it for tonight," I said to myself as he faded into the night.
I wiped both hands down the sides of my jeans. My uniform. Every color of the rainbow streaked the lovingly worn denim, making the jeans a piece of unique artwork themselves. I'd had them for years; they were stretched and frayed, and Mom used to joke that when I was a famous artist, she'd frame them and hang them in the hallway.
A quick check of my cell told me I was in trouble. It was almost one in the morning. I hadn't meant to stay this late. Dad was traveling to Washington in a few hours, and that meant he'd be up at half past a rooster's ass. If I wanted to get back into the house without being caught, I needed to move fast. Besides, I didn't want to be around if creepy guy came back around.
I tugged down the sleeves of my oversized sweater and grabbed my bag, stuffing supplies inside. Several colors of spray paint, a few brushes, and a tube of white. A car passed on the road just beyond the back gate of the park, slowing suspiciously. I held my breath and pressed myself flush against the wall, waiting. But it was fine. The headlights faded and the car didn't double back.
Snatching up my jacket, I zipped the pack closed and started for the gate. The town of Wells, New York was small, consisting of barely two thousand people, most of which lived on the Fort Hannity Army Base. We lived off base, in a small cul-de-sac about five blocks away, and I thanked God for that every day. Base life was like living under a microscope. No privacy, stomping boots and gunfire at all hours of the day and night, not to mention more green than a Seattle forest. No thank you. This was the first place Dad had been stationed that we hadn't lived on post. The freedom was intoxicating, and I'd admittedly gone a little nuts with it.
I picked up the pace. The wind howled, sending a shiver down my spine, more from the sound it made — like a woman screaming bloody murder — than the chill, though I wasn't a fan of that, either. Fall. I hated this time of year. Everything was in the process of dying. The smell of leaves that fell from the trees and rotted on the ground turned my stomach. I'd been born on an army base in Hawaii and was convinced my body simply wasn't made for the lower temperatures. Anything below eighty was just too damn cold. And the snow? For the polar bears and elves. If God wanted humans to trudge around in all that white crap, he would have given us fur-covered bodies and skis instead of feet.
The leaves beneath my sneakers crunched and crackled, and about three blocks from home, I heard another noise. Not the howling wind. No. This was softer. Muted and more controlled. Slowing my pace, I took a deep breath and listened. Thud. Thud. Thud. Faint, but unmistakable. Footsteps. Had that creepy guy from the park followed me?
I stopped walking for a second and peered over my shoulder. A row of nondescript shadows stretched along the buildings, cast from the streetlamps overhead. Several mailboxes. Dark storefronts. The bench I'd puked on last year after drinking too much blueberry vodka at the one and only party I'd ever gone to ... All typical roadside denizens.
Nope. Nothing to see here ...
Adjusting the pack on my shoulder, I gripped the strap just a little bit tighter. It was heavy enough to be used as a weapon if necessary. Dad made sure I knew at an early age that good soldiers were always prepared. One never knew when danger would come knocking. You had to be prepared to knock back. Hard.
I took a deep breath and was about to start forward again, but something in the distance clattered. A loud sound that echoed through the empty streets and sent my heartbeat thumping double-time. A second later, the danger walked into the light.
Well, danger if you counted destruction at the paws of a stray dog.
It looked like a collie mix and trotted into the light of the streetlamp from the alley to my left, and I let go of a breath. It paused momentarily, staring me down with clinical interest. Once it assessed that I was no threat, it continued on its way without so much as a second glance.
Convinced it was safe, I resumed my pace, but half a block farther I heard it again. Footsteps. Much closer than last time. Okay. Not the dog. It was that guy. It had to be. I readied my bag and sucked in a deep breath. When I whirled around, I lost my balance, nearly tumbling to the ground.
"A little late for a young woman to be out on the streets, don't you think?"
Instead of the weird guy from the park, a man in a dark uniform with broad shoulders and a bushy moustache towered over me. He was vaguely familiar. Officer Hennas or Hensley, or something. He'd almost caught me at the mural a few times. I tried to get out here at least once every week. Last week I'd had to scrunch myself up inside a bunch of pricker bushes a few yards from the lake to avoid detection. It'd taken hours to get all the tiny needles out. I was still convinced I'd missed a few.
He folded his arms and began tapping his elbow with his ring finger. Tap. Tap. Tap. "Mind if I ask what you're doing out here?"
"I, uh —" Something told me out for a midnight stroll wasn't going to cut it here. Suddenly the guy's cryptic warning made sense. He'd either seen the officer in the area, or had scampered off and tattled. Either way, I was screwed. "Studying at a friend's house. Didn't realize the time."
His gaze dropped to my pack, and suspicion erupted across his face. "I'm sure you won't mind opening your bag for me. Show me your books?"
I didn't move.
"What were you studying?" he tried again. He held out his hand, wiggling his fingers and giving me no choice. I handed over the bag.
As he unzipped the main compartment and peered inside, I held my breath. Time seemed to stand still for several moments. When his gaze finally lifted to meet mine, I saw the understanding spark there. The subtle hint of triumph.
I swallowed back the acid bubbling up in my belly. "Um, art?"
Yep. I was so screwed.CHAPTER 2
After calling Dad, the nice officer — whose name was actually Henley — escorted me back to the mural to wait. Dad didn't rush — probably letting me stew in it for a bit. By the time he arrived, I was freezing my toes off and had to pee like never before.
Officer Henley nodded as Dad extracted himself from our red SUV. "Sorry to wake you, sir, but ..." He inclined his head in my direction. "This belongs to you?"
Dad looked from Henley to me, lips pressed in a super thin line, then rounded the corner to glare at the wall. I hated it when he got quiet like this. It'd be fine if he raised his voice. Yelled and screamed and sent me to my room like a normal parent. But Dad wasn't normal. He was twenty plus years of restraint and perfection rolled into the body of a U.S. army general.
"Technically I should take her into the station," Henley continued with a frown. "I'm sure you're aware that this thing's been a sore subject for the mayor for a while now. However, I'm going to let you take her home instead."
"I appreciate that," Dad said. He took my bag from the officer, then handed it back to me. I almost didn't take it. That thing had sealed my fate, and that didn't put us on the best of terms.
"The mayor — all of us — have the greatest respect for you Fort Hannity boys. I'm sure he'll be willing to work something out about the wall."
Again, Dad nodded. The only hint of his anger with me was the smallest twitch of his right thumb. When that thumb flicked, you knew you were in for it. "I'm leaving for Washington in a few hours. I will contact him as soon as I get back to town if that's satisfactory."
Henley eyed me.
"Don't worry." Dad clapped a hand down on my shoulder, giving a firm shake. "I've already arranged for supervision while I'm away. You won't have any more trouble from her. Isn't that right, Kori?"
"Yes sir," I answered, standing a little bit straighter. He hated when I slouched.
"Thank you, General Anderson." Officer Henley tipped the rim of his hat. "Have a safe trip, and Godspeed."
We watched him make his way toward the gate and back to his squad car, and I waited, breath held, for the lecture to begin.
Dad turned from me to face the wall. He traced one of the lines of stars with his finger, then sighed. "Do you really think she would approve of this?"
She. Mom. It was the first time he'd brought her up in a long while. It was an unspoken rule, we didn't talk about her, and I hated it. She'd died, but he treated it like she'd never existed. Like merely the mention of her name might bring an end to the world in a shower of hellfire and brimstone. "I think she'd understand."
His brows rose. "She would understand defacing public property?"
This time I didn't answer. Mom used to tell me stories about her wild-child youth, but he was right. She wouldn't have approved. This had nothing to do with simple teenaged rebellion, though, and deep down I think he knew that. But slapping a vandalism label on it was easier to face than the truth. Two whole years and Mom's loss was still a raw, open wound. It'd changed both of us. She'd been the glue that held things together. The light in our now dark house. And we each had our own way of dealing. Mine was art and, um, freedom of expression.
Excerpted from Infinity by Jas Accardo, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2016 Jus Accardo. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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