Out of Mind (Court of Angels Series #2)

Out of Mind (Court of Angels Series #2)

by Stella Cameron

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778327691
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 03/30/2010
Series: Court of Angels Series , #2
Edition description: Original
Pages: 394
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jason Pinter is the bestselling author of THE MARK and THE GUILTY. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he wrote his first novel while working as a book editor. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, and is a co-founder of Killer Year. KILLER YEAR: A Criminal Anthology, edited by Lee Child, will be released in January 2008 . He lives in New York City with his wife Susan and his dog Wilson. Visit him as www.JasonPinter.com.

Read an Excerpt

Willow walked quickly along Chartres Street.

Her breathing grew shallower, and the space between her shoulder blades prickled.

Don't look back. Keep going.

Jazz blared from bars and clubs. People spilling from doorways onto New Orleans's crowded sidewalks jostled her in the throng. They danced, raised their plastic cups of booze and wiggled the way they never would at home. Colored metallic beads draped necks and more strands were thrown from flower-laden balconies overhead. Laughter and shouting all but drowned out the noise of passing vehicles.

Another French Quarter evening was tuning up.

Her new enemy clawed at the pit of her stomach: panic. Until a few days ago she had been a completely in-charge, take-on-the-world woman. Then she had become convinced she was being followed.

Whenever she left her flat in the Court of Angels behind her family's antiques shop, J. Clive Millet on Royal Street, someone watched her every move. They were waiting for the right moment to grab her—she was certain of it.

Don't run.

Sweat stung her eyes, turned her palms slick, and her heart beat so hard and fast she couldn't swallow.

If she didn't prefer to ignore the paranormal talents she had in common with the rest of the Millet family, she could come right into the open and ask some or at least one of them for advice. But how could she ask Uncle Pascal, her brother, Sykes; her sister Marley; or even one of her other sisters in London if they would help? Despite some recent slips, she continued to insist she was "normal," and so were they.

Willow suspected her family watched her more closely these days, which meant they had figured out that she was stressed. Keeping anything from them for long was impossible. She felt the smallest twinge of guilt for enjoying the comfort that gave her.

Why was she only feeling someone shadowing her rather than actually seeing a face? That was one of her talents—she saw the face of a negative human force, sometimes a long time before meeting the person.

This time she couldn't pick up any image.

Darn it that she was burdened with the Millet mystique. She saw the looks she got. Every New Orleans native knew about the family, which she didn't think helped her business, Mean 'n Green Concierge, all things domestic, nothing too large or too small. She only mentioned her concierge services in ads she placed for personal assistant services.

The sun was lower, a red ball that seemed to pulse in a purpling haze. And there was no air—just tight, wet pressure. Willow had grown up in the city and loved it, but heat did add to the sense of doom she felt.

Even the scent of flowers cascading from the scrollwork of black iron galleries was too sweet. That didn't make any sense. Willow loved to smell scented petunias and jasmine, and the rich floral brew that almost overcame the aroma of hot grit and used booze. Not today.

She cut a left onto St. Louis Street. Usually she rode her green-and-white scooter with its little equipment trailer around town, but since she'd only been going to discuss an order with Billy Baker, the specialty baker she used, she'd decided to walk instead.

Being on the scooter would feel safer—even more so when she got her new helmet with large, rearview mirrors.

Two blocks and she turned right onto Royal Street. A cop listened distractedly to a ranting drunk and his gesticulating buddies. For an instant Willow considered asking to talk to the cop, but what would she say?

She didn't run, but she did speed up.

Her hair lifted a little on one side, as if blown by a breeze, only there wasn't one. Softness brushed her neck, then something tiny and sharp.

A scream erupted; she couldn't stop it. Willow stood still, forced the sound from her lips and then spun around, searching in every direction. Nothing. There was nothing but people, people everywhere. She touched her neck but there was zero to feel.

She got stares, and more space to herself on the sidewalk.

The shop sign, J. Clive Antiques, shone gold against black paint and she did run the final yards until she could get inside. The doorbell jangled, and she jumped, despite expecting the sound. She closed herself inside and bowed her head while she marched purposefully toward French doors leading out into the Court of Angels at the back of the shop. Her flat was there among those belonging to other family members. She wanted to get to her private place and lock herself in.

"There you are, Willow."

Uncle Pascal. Current family head since Willow's father had abdicated his responsibilities—more than twenty years earlier—in favor of running after family secrets in various parts of the world, Uncle Pascal had a penchant for stating the obvious.

"Here I am," Willow said and thought, and here I go, as she carried on past gleaming old furniture, glittering glass and finely glowing paintings, toward her goal: the back door.

"I've been waiting for you," Uncle said, moving into her path. "I say little about you continuing with this silly, mundane business of yours when you should be honing your natural skills, but I do expect you to check in with me more regularly than you do."

"Sorry, but I do make sure you see me in the mornings."

She dodged to one side.

So did Uncle Pascal—the same side. "I want to talk to you about your future," he said.

She looked at him, big, muscular, shaven-headed and handsome…and really irritated right now.

"Futures take care of themselves if we let them," she said, instantly wishing she hadn't said anything at all. "I mean—"

"I know what you mean. You have buried your head in the sand and you continue to pretend you can avoid who and what you are. We all know what you are, Willow. And now you are needed to play an active part in the very serious situation we're all facing in New Orleans."

Very serious situation? Do you know exactly what's been happening to me?

What she must not do was lead the potential witness, her uncle. If he knew something that would impact her, let him spell it out on his own.

"You don't intend to come clean with me, do you?" Uncle Pascal said. "Despite everything, you'll go on pretending everything is what you call, normal."

She raised her chin. "What makes you so sure it's not?"

"We have our ways, and we already know it's not," he said, his brows drawn ominously downward over a pair of the very green eyes common to all Millets, except her brother, Sykes, which was a great concern to some members of the family. "But this delivery proves we aren't the only ones aware of a threat."

He went behind the shiny mahogany counter and hauled an open cardboard box on top.

"Who are we, Uncle?"

He scrubbed at his bald scalp. If he didn't shave it, there would be a thick head of red hair, but for reasons they all tried to ignore, he had first shaved it when he took Antoine's place as head of the Millets. Uncle Pascal didn't want the job, or so he said, and since the red hair was one of the major attributes that qualified him, he chose to get rid of it in defiance.

"Who?" Willow repeated, growing angry at the thought of the others huddling together to discuss her—invading her privacy, as usual. "Have you been in my head again? You know it's against the rules unless you ask permission to enter my mind."

"Rules?" Pascal said, his brows elevated now. "What rules? You don't believe in the Millet rules, or anything about the paranormal talents with which we are all blessed—so why would you care or acknowledge the rules? Or are you finally accepting them?"

She closed her mouth and crossed her arms. There would be no winning an argument with Uncle Pascal.

"Even if we didn't know something unusual is going on with you, this would make sure we suspected as much."

He lifted a crash helmet from the box. White with Mean 'n Green's lime-green insignia that looked a bit like the wings on the Greek Hermes's heels, it was the twin of the one she already used, apart from rather large rearview cycling mirrors mounted on either side.

Willow gaped. "You opened my stuff!"

"It wasn't shut. It was delivered by a messenger from the place where you bought it. I thought it was something for the shop. Aren't these mirrors interesting?"

"For safety," she said, glowering. No way would she admit she wanted eyes in the back of her head these days and mirrors were the next best thing.

"And what about this?" He placed a smaller, oblong box beside the bigger one. "I suppose this is for safety, too."

"That's my business." She scrambled to excuse that second box. "It's something I'm going to give Marley and Gray for their kitchen." Her sister Marley and Gray Fisher were recently married, or Bonded as the Millets preferred to call it. There had also been an actual wedding to please Gray's dad, Gus, who was one of Willow's favorite customers.

"I know what's in this," Uncle said.

She snatched it away and turned it over. It was unopened. "No, you don't. You're trying to trick me into telling you."

"Why do you think I need to open a box to know what's inside?" he said. "Don't you think a Beretta PX4 Storm is a bit overkill for a first handgun?"

Ben Fortune also saw the gun inside the package and couldn't imagine Willow being able to hold the thing steady. This was a very small woman. He knew well that she was strong, but could she hit what she wanted to hit with the weapon?

He saw Willow's back stiffen. That didn't have to be because she had sensed him behind her, standing near a Napoleonic desk he had been examining when she hurried into the shop. But given the long pause after Pascal announced the gun, he didn't think she was reacting to that. She should have responded to her uncle by now.

Odds were that she did sense Ben. His own fault since he should have made sure that was not possible until he wanted it to be. From Pascal's behavior he must have assumed Ben would mask his presence until he was alone with Willow. Pascal had promised to leave them once he'd had his say with his niece.

Too bad one glimpse of her and Ben had forgotten to do what should come naturally—reveal only what he must until he found out exactly how the land lay with the woman formerly pledged to become his lifelong Bonded partner.

That was a pledge he had never given up on, regardless of how Willow thought she could call all the shots. Despite sending him away—for good, she had insisted—she must have expected him back eventually.

Ben smiled slightly. A few experiments, really touching experiments, would prove if they still had what it took to send each other into pain and ecstasy at the same time. They had never actually made love—Willow had seen to that—but the foreplay was explosive, unforgettable. He heated up from the inside out thinking about those incendiary sensations. That electric, erotic pain between two of their kind was considered proof of preordained Bonding with a Millet. Somewhere in the mists of that family's founding, a brilliant elder must have thought such intense feelings would test the loyalty of a male's prospective mate and protect their women's honor.

Apparently, the founder responsible for the concept had not taken into account that irresistible stimulation could become addictive.

There would be a test between Ben and Willow, but he had no doubt the compulsion would be as strong as ever.

He hadn't seen her in two years since she told him they weren't meant for each other. After that she wouldn't see or speak to him.

Ben had left New Orleans, and ran the family business—a very successful club, Fortunes, and other enterprises around the city—from his retreat on the island of Kauai.

"You can see inside closed packages?" Willow said to Pascal.

"That surprises you?"

She muttered something, but she wasn't concentrating on her uncle. Instead Ben could see her struggle not to turn around. Her shoulder blades pressed together, then released, as if she were trying to relax.

Well, if the way he reacted simply to the sight of her was any indication of things to follow, he'd better not miss any vitamins.

"Hey, Willow, remember me?" he asked her through channels he attempted to open between their minds.

He'd lost his marbles, not that she had ever responded to his mind contacts in the past. That would have put the lie to her insistence that she had no paranormal powers.

"What are you doing here?" she responded, gripping the counter with both hands.

His turn to stiffen. The muscles in his back and thighs turned rock hard. Damn, this was great, she'd forgotten to cover up.

"What do you think? You and I have unfinished business. It's been unfinished for too long. And you need me now—you need all of us."

"Sykes got you here, didn't he? He could have talked to me about it first. You two have always shut me out."

"You decided to shut us out, Willow. You and I could always be as close as you wanted to be. The decisions on that were yours, remember?"

"I didn't ask you to come. I—Oh, darn it."

He felt her cut him off. It was gratifying to know he could cause her to break rules she'd made for herself in her teens when Willow had decided she would be "normal."

"You're upset and trying not to need anyone. Don't shut me out." It was worth another try to establish an intimate connection with her.

Customer Reviews

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Out of Mind (Court of Angels Series #2) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
EmScape on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Willow Millet and Ben Fortune are members of prominent paranormal families in New Orleans, but Willow just wants to be "normal." When the supernatural monsters that threatened her sister, Marley, seem to be coming after Willow, she has to begin to accept her "powers" and join forces with Ben to fight them. It's an interesting premise, and the chemistry between the characters is extremely genuine and compelling. However, the execution is a little confusing. I wasn't always sure what was happening and I didn't get a good picture of the "Embran" in my head. I'm sure the author has a clear view in her mind, but I didn't feel like it translated to the page. There were also several times during the steamy parts when what she was describing between the characters didn't seem humanly, physically possible, which was distracting. The worst was the climactic fight scene. I had to read it several times because the first time it didn't make any sense at all. The second time, I kinda got what was happening, but had to revise my idea of spatial relations, in particular the size of the "birdcage", as it seems it's big enough for a full sized human person to fight a monster in. The third time, I think it got it, but it was almost too much happening at one time for a person to wrap their mind around. Unfortunately, these things really spoiled my enjoyment of the story. I was left feeling like it could have been so much better in the hands of a more skilled author. I've felt this way before about Cameron's work; largely solid plot threads; good, dynamic, genuine characters with great chemistry; but the execution, the writing itself, is off.
krystalsbooks on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book truly held my interest. The character development was excellent. I was caught up in both the stories and how the story unfolds in their lives.
Bookmyer on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is the 2nd book of a triology. I liked the heroine, she has depth and surprising talents. I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the family when I continue onto the 3rd book. There are paranormal talents at play and an unusual group of "bad" people. Stella has continued to be among my favorite writers! I left this at this as the first review covered the basics well!
nazazael on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Over all I enjoyed this book. The pacing left something to be desired. Sometimes it was difficult to follow and I was confused. The characters were well defined even if thier relationships to one another were sometimes vague (not famlilal but emotional relationships)> I chose to read this without reading the first one and I have to say that I enjoyed it enough to get the first and third to see how this trilogoy fills out but I cannot honestly say I would read anything else by this author.
Altarasabine on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Grabs you from the very first page. An intense page turning plot. Well crafted and highly entertaining characters. Demands to be read in one sitting. However in my opinion a bit too much cursing. If you like paranormal romance filled with suspense then this is a read for you.
keeneam on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I received this book in order to review it and went ahead and read the first one first. This one was definitely written better than the first, which had some pretty big gaps in dialogue. I thinks this series is way to far outside the realm of realistic even for a paranormal novel. I like the characters and the premiss of the families have psychic powers. However the other side of the story with the creatures from below ground is just absurd. I had to force myself to read some of the scenes in this book. I wish the author had stuck to the characters to create this series.
mary1963 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Two Minute Review for ¿Out of Mind¿ by Stella CameronWillow Millet denies her paranormal gifts until she is thrown into a battle with other worldly creatures that eat their young and look like large bats. Yes, Bats. Ben Fortune comes to protect Willow and force her to acknowledge that they belong together. Yikes, what a snore. I love paranormal stuff, but this just did not cut it. Some of it was just beyond my believability threshold, which is hard to do. Willow takes denial to unbelievable lengths. The other characters were sketchy and strangely cartoonish. The book often unnecessarily mentions the first book in this series. Someone needed to go through with a red pen and remove about half of the convoluted plot.
StephanieRae13 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I enjoyed the concept of this book though I think the writing could be more detailed. I'd like to know more background on the heroine. I feel that Cameron skips over more details on exciting parts of the book than she should. I will read the next one so I can find out what happens, but it's not one of my favorites.
dearheart on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Second book in a romantic paranormal suspense trilogy involving the psychic Millet family (there are a few strong psychic families in New Orleans) fighting the Embran, an underworld race that is dying out and has a grudge against the Millets and wants/needs to take over the world.Willow Millet has denied her abilities all her life, wanting to be the normal one in the family. But when the Embran seem to be targeting her through her customers, and the bond and telepathy she shares with Ben Fortune from another psychic family becomes apparent, she finally relents and opens up to her abilities. Willow¿s customers are dying of heart attacks after being attacked by something unseen and either Willow or her employees are the last to see them alive. Other people are disappearing, and the upper echelon of the police is clueless about paranormals, leaving Ben and the Millets (with one detective and his partner) to figure things out and fight their foe.I received this book to review for Library Thing and had not read the first book, which is a huge mistake. What took place in Out of Body is important to this book and without it this story lacked the impact it might have otherwise had for me. I liked the premise of the situation, but that¿s the best I can say about my experience in reading this book.It was too easy for me to put down and I never felt any empathy for the characters, which makes it difficult for the romance aspect to work for me. A reveal of some bad guys did take me by surprise at the end, but it wasn¿t enough for me to want to pick up either the first or last book to see if I¿d enjoy it more. I would have given this one star but am giving the benefit of the doubt that it could have been more enjoyable if I¿d read Out of Body before Out of Mind.
kcordes on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I received this book as part of the librarything early reviewers and against my better judgement read this before I read the first book. The main character Willow is a member of a psychic family in New Orleans who is in denial of her abilities. This gets really old after awhile when so many things are happening around her and to her. Apparently her family has been targeted by the Embrans (demons of some sort) I had a really hard time following the authors style and kept feeling like I was missing something. The romance aspect of this novel really didn't fit and seemed almost like an after thought. I will give it the benifit of the doubt and look for the first book to see if it would make a difference, maybe if I had read it I wouldn't be reading and then saying"HUH? How'd that happen or why?" I'll update if reading book one makes that much of a diffence.
leahsimone on LibraryThing 5 months ago
In the paranormal romance Out of Mind by Stella Cameron, Willow and her former boyfriend Ben both belong to established psychic families. Despite being rejected previously, Ben comes to town to protect Willow when he hears strange things have been happening to her. Soon Willow's clients from her concierge business begin dying and Willow discovers she needs Ben's help.I am sorry to say, this book was a dud for me. I began skimming by the third chapter and ultimately was unable to finish it. I could only make it about half way through and that rarely happens to me. The style of writing didn't flow well and this is exacerbated by the characters annoying habit of veering off on unrelated tangents during their internal ruminations. Add to that a rather boring romance, bad dialog, poor world building and an uninspired plot.Even though Willow has been having visions of being followed and starts to experience strange phantom touches, she manages to convince herself that nothing is wrong. Then when Ben shows up out of concern for her she denies their obvious attraction for each other despite the fact that they are already supposedly "bonded" and they can talk mind to mind. Being stubborn and in denial does not make for a compelling impetus to a romantic relationship. It's just annoying. But of course, after two of her clients die, Willow sleeps with Ben and has a sudden change of heart about him and her abilities. At this point, she comes across as opportunistic and ingenuous. Add to that dialog that stated the obvious, seriously lacked wit or was just irritating.With respect to world building and plot, we are told something evil is out to get Willow and her family. Her clients are being murdered in much the same way as previous murders and it's obvious an incubus minion and some other demon, alien or Fae type creature are the culprits. Even with several disjointed sections that mention characters and plot points from the first book in the series I found that I was missing quite a bit of back story. This may be resolved in the second half of the novel but by the midway point I just wasn't engaged enough to want to find out.I enjoy paranormal romance occasionally but unfortunately this one is a poor example of the genre. I found the first half of the novel cliched and badly done so I don't have much confidence the rest will be any better. Do not recommend.
spoiledfornothing on LibraryThing 5 months ago
When I first asked for Out of Mind, I thought it was a mystery but it is really a paranormal romance, the second in the Court of Angels series. I have not the read the first or anything else by this author, and I don¿t think I am going to. Out of Mind¿s premise is good and should have been interesting. I had a hard time getting into it at first; the beginning was a little chaotic and disjointed. Towards the middle it smoothed out and I wanted to know what would happen next. But then in the last third, Out of Mind became a little scattered again. Also, the character was in denial for a large part of the book and after a while that was just annoying. Overall it was mixed and so at times I was skimming rather than reading. I did like was the idea of bats. I mean, you hear bats in paranormal romance, you think vampires. At least I do. So when demons appeared instead, that was interesting to me. The prologue was a good hook. Someone gets killed and later when you hear talk of pinpricks and beaks, you just think back to that, even if the characters themselves are clueless. I think if you don¿t care how the book is sometimes a little scattered, Out of Mind might be a good read. As for me, I wasn¿t terribly impressed and I am not going to follow this series. I have not read the first in the series and that might color my view a bit.Grade: D+. 2.5 stars. Gave it two stars because I don't think it deserves three (which would mean I didn't do any skimming) and I can't add half a star
mutti on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I had originally seen this series advertised in the back of a Karen Rose novel and thought it looked promising, so when I saw it as part of the LT:ER program, I immediately requested it. Sadly, I didn't enjoy the novel at all. The back blurb was misleading. Cameron's style is easy enough to read and get into, but this felt more like sci-fi than supernatural to me, and at times it was just too far-fetched. I'm sure other readers will enjoy it, but I certainly won't be seeking out others in this series.
SunnySD on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A demonic race known as the Embran are out to take over New Orleans. Only a select few families blessed with paranormal talents are clued in, and even they aren't sure what exactly can be done to stop the invasion. Willow Millet's family is one of the select, but Willow herself is determined to be normal. No psychic adventures for here - she's going to run her all-things-domestic business and leave the weirdness to the rest of her family. Too bad she's not going to have a choice.When something nasty starts stalking people using Willow's business, her brother calls in assistance in the form of Willow's ex Benedict Fortune. Benedict returns from Hawaii determined to not only keep Willow safe, but figure out how to get her back in his life.The plot is a bit tired, but the premise isn't the real problem here. Invading demons,star-crossed romance, plenty of potential for sparks to fly: it could have worked. Unfortunately, the whole thing is so disjointed and strung out it was almost painful to read. I finished it, mostly because I kept hoping it would get better. It didn't, and it certainly wasn't an experience I'll want to repeat. This one is definitely used-bookstore bound, and I won't be looking for the remainder of the series.
TwilightBlue on LibraryThing 5 months ago
WIllow is a very strong willed individual, who seems to me has very low self-esteem. She has a gift but instead of embracing that gift, she wills herself to be normal. As her gifts mature she is finding it harder and harder to deny them. I had a hard time liking this character. Ben Fortune, Willow's soul-mate, embraces his psychic self and returns to New Orleans when he finds out Willow may be in trouble. He will not let Willow get rid of him "this time". He's in for the long haul.Enter the Embrans, a race of demon like creatures that live underground. They are dying out, I think because of their interaction with the human species (this was not well outlined). They want Willow because they believe she can help cure their species. It's an interesting story line, a bit garbled and hard to follow, but I did finish it. I had the "bad guys" figured out before the climax and that irked me, I like a story to keep me guessing until the end. All in all a good read but not one were you can put your mind on the back burner and just read.
Books007 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I couldn't get in to this book not matter how hard I tried. One of those books you have to make yourself finish reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the story immensely! It was filled with mystery, intrigue, humor and action. Definitely a book you want to tote with you to the beach, or have with you on a long wait, or a rainy day, or a snowy day, or a long airplane flight . . . need I say more? Looking forward to reading the third book in this series. Hope it's about Sykes! Oh! And would love to learn more about the Mentor, the mysterious parents and sisters!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a Stella Cameron fan and thoroughly enjoyed her "paranormal" New Orleans. Stella is terrific for pure storytelling pleasure.
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