Rachel Caine Thin Air. Rachel Caine

ISBN 13: 9780749040642

Thin Air. Rachel Caine

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9780749040642: Thin Air. Rachel Caine

There were worse things than being naked, freezing and alone in a forest. For instance, there was being naked, freezing, not alone, and not sure of who the hell you were. Joanne Baldwin has had better days - at least she hopes she has. After waking up on her own in a forest, she's found by two rescuers she doesn't recognise at all. One supernaturally gorgeous guy might have been her lover. The other says he can control the weather ...and so can she. Not everyone looking for Joanne has her best interests at heart, and with no way of telling friend from foe, Joanne is quickly lost in a fog of deception. Now she must rebuild herself, one memory at a time, before someone else steals her life - and she disappears into thin air...

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About the Author:

Rachel Caine is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the New York Times bestselling Morganville Vampires and The Great Library young adult series. She’s written suspense, mystery, paranormal suspense, urban fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal young adult fiction. Caine and her husband, award-winning artist, comic historian, and actor R. Cat Conrad, live in Fort Worth, Texas.

Dina is an actress living and working in New York City. Dina has been seen in various roles in movies, TV and in the theater. She has also done some stand-up comedy. She has written two one-woman shows. Dina is originally from New Jersey.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PREVIOUSLY . . .

I was lying on something cold and wet, and I was naked and shivering. Afraid. Something was very, very wrong with me.

I reflexively curled in on myself, protecting as much of my body as I could, as awareness of the world washed over me in hot, pulsing waves.

Biting, frigid wind. Ice-cold sleet trailing languid fingers over my bare skin. I forced my eyes open and saw my arm lying on the ground in front of my eyes, hand outstretched, and my skin was a pallid, blue-tinged white, red at the fingertips. Frostbite.

I ached all over, so fiercely that I felt tears well up in my eyes. And I felt empty, cored and thrown out like an old orange peel.

I forced myself to look beyond my own hand, and saw that I was lying in a mound of cold, slimy leaf litter. Overhead, bare trees swayed and scratched the sky, and what little could be seen between the skeletal branches was gray, flocked with low clouds. The air tasted thin in my mouth.

I tried to think where I was, how I'd gotten here, but it was a blank. Worse, it terrified me to even try to think of it. I shuddered with more than the cold, gasping, and squeezed my eyes shut again.

Get up, I told myself. Up. I'd die if I stayed here, naked and freezing. But when I tried to uncurl myself from the embryonic position I'd assumed, I couldn't get anything to work right. My muscles jittered and spasmed and protested wildly, and the best I managed was to roll myself up to my hands and knees and not quite fall flat on my face again.

I heard a voice yelling somewhere off in the woods. Sticks cracking, as something large moved through the underbrush. Run! something told me, and I was immediately drenched in cold terror. I lunged up to my feet, biting back a shriek of agony as muscles trembled and threatened to tear. I fell against the rough bark of a tree and clung to it as cramps rippled through my back and legs, like giant hands giving me the worst massage in the world. I saw sparks and stars, bit my lip until I tasted blood. My hair was blowing wildly in the wind where it wasn't stuck to my damp, cold skin or matted with mud and leaves.

I let go of the tree and lurched away. My legs didn't want to move, but I forced them, one step at a time. My arms were wrapped around my breasts to preserve a warmth that I couldn't find, either within me or without.

My feet were too cold to feel pain, but when I looked back I saw I was leaving smears of blood behind on the fallen leaves. Cuts had already opened on the soles.

I kept moving. It was more of a lurching not-quite-falling than running, but I was too frightened to wait for any kind of improvement. Had to keep going.

More shouting behind me. Voices, more than one. The hammer of blood in my ears kept me from focusing on the words. Someone did this to me, I thought. Put me out here to die. I didn't want them to find that they'd failed.

Not that they really had failed, yet.

Up ahead was a tangle of underbrush. My body was already covered with whip scratches and a lacework of blood against cold white skin. I needed a way around... I turned right, holding to a massive tree trunk for support, and clambered up a short rise.

Just as I reached the summit, a shadow appeared at the top of it. I gasped and started to fall backwards, but the shadow reached down and grabbed my forearm, pulling me up the rest of the way and then wrapping me in sudden warmth as his arms closed around me.

I fought, startled and scared, but he was a big man, tall, and he managed to pin my arms to my side in a bear hug. "Jo!" he shouted in my ear. "Joanne, stop! It's me! It's Lewis!"

He smelled like wood smoke and sweat, leaves and nylon, but he was warm, oh, God, warm as heaven itself, and against my own will I felt myself go limp and stop fighting. For the moment.

"Jo?" He slowly let his arms loosen, and pulled back to look down at me. He was taller than I was by half a head, with shaggy-cut brown hair, and a long patrician face with big, dark eyes. A three-day growth of beard coming in heavy on his cheeks and chin. "We've been looking for you for days. Are you—" He stopped himself with an impatient shake of his head. "Never mind, stupid question, obviously you're not okay or you'd have contacted us. Listen, we're in trouble. Bad trouble. We need you. Things have gone wrong."

I realized, with a terrible sinking feeling, that I had no idea who he was. And then the sinking turned to free fall.

He must have known something was wrong, because he frowned at me and passed his hand in front of my eyes. "Jo? Are you listening to me?"

I had no idea who I was.

CHAPTER 1

There were worse things than being naked, freezing and alone in a forest. For instance, there was being naked, freezing, not alone, and not sure of who the hell you were. And having people depending on you.

That was worse.

Lewis—the man who'd found me, the tall ragged-looking specimen with the cheekbones—had put my silence down to shock, which was probably not far from the truth. When I just clung to him, shivering in the frigid wind, he finally stripped off his down jacket and draped it over my shoulders. I watched him, shivering and numb, clutching the down coat hard around me. It smelled of dirt and feathers and sweat.

"Say something," he commanded. I didn't. I couldn't. All I could do was shake. What was that in his eyes? Anguish? Fury? Love? Hate? I had no frame of reference for him, or for what he was feeling. "Jo, how'd you get here? Where have you been?"

Jo. I wanted for some kind of internal recognition, some circuit to activate. I waited for some confirmation that Jo was my name.

Nothing.

When I kept silent, he finally shook his head and glanced around, then gathered up the backpack he'd dropped on the ground. "Come with me." I had no reason to, but I was too cold and too weak. Lewis steered me down the gentler slope of the far side of the hill, into a small clearing. Overhead, it looked like twilight, everything masked into smooth gray cotton by low-hanging clouds. Virga draped from them, veiling the treetops. "Sit," he ordered, and I collapsed onto the cold ground in a huddle. I'd lost too much body heat; the coat couldn't warm me. Lewis turned away and grabbed handfuls of fallen wet wood from the underbrush—good sized logs, some of them—and began putting together the makings of a fire. Within five minutes, he had a cleared a space, dug down to the dirt, created a firepit and ringed it with rough stones.

It wouldn't matter. The wood was way too wet to burn.

Lewis settled down next to the non-starting fire, glanced at me, and extended a hand, palm out, toward the inert pile of soaked wood.

It burst into immediate hot flame.

I jerked backward, startled, blinking in the sudden dazzle of light, and looked at him. He didn't seem to find anything odd about what had just happened; in fact, he barely paused before he began digging in his pack. He pulled out a rolled-up pair of blue jeans and a denim shirt. Thick thermal socks.

I started to edge away from him, as discreetly as possible.

"Foot," he said, and held out his hand. When I didn't move, he sighed. "Jo, for God's sake, unless you want to lose some toes, let me help you." I slowly extended my bare left foot. His large, long, blissfully hot fingers wrapped around my ankle and propped it on his knee. He frowned disapprovingly at the cuts on my foot. "What the hell happened to you?" It was just a murmur, and, by this time, obviously a rhetorical question. He was very intent on the cuts, not my face. "Okay, these are mostly superficial, but it's going to hurt like hell later if I don't do something about it. So please hold still."

I expected him to reach for the first aid kit I could see in the neatly organized backpack. Instead, he cupped my foot in both hands, and I felt a sudden pulsing warmth go through me, following by a dull shearing pain. In a second or two the pain subsided and faded altogether. My foot felt deliciously warm. Tingling.

He let go and tugged one of the thermal socks on and up to my ankle, sealing in the warmth. I wanted to be grateful, but the truth was, I was scared. I didn't know this guy, although he claimed to know me, and he could start fires just by snapping his fingers. Not to mention whatever he'd done to my foot, which felt really good now, but clearly wasn't natural.

"Next," he said, and held out his hands again. I hesitated, then gave him the right foot. I'd need those cuts sealed up if I had to make a run for it.

Maybe he's the one. The one who kidnapped you and knocked you over the head and dumped you out here to die. Maybe, but in that case, why was he doing magical first aid? He could have just let me go. I'd have died out here, without help.

Wouldn't I?

When the right foot was healed and thermal-socked, he put the blue jeans and shirt on the ground between us, and looked up into my face.

I waited for some memory to make it past the big black wall. Anything. His name was Lewis, he acted like he knew me, I should know him.

I didn't.

He must have taken my long stare for something else, because he shrugged. "Sorry. I don't know where he is."

He? There was another one? I looked down, trying not to show how tentative I was. How confused and scared.

"Jo?" He sounded grim. "Whoever took you ... did they . . . Ah, dammit. I'm just going to ask it, all right? Were you raped?"

Had I been? The word made me feel sick and dizzy, and I had no idea how to reply. I didn't remember my clothes coming off. I must have fought, right? I must have tried to get away. I wouldn't have just ended up out here, naked and dying in the cold, without some kind of a reason.

Abducted and raped and left for dead. I tried it on as an explanation for the panic I felt inside, but it didn't feel right.

He was waiting for an answer. I didn't look up at him. "I don't . . . I don't know." My voice sounded shockingly cracked and small. "I can't remember," I whispered. "Can't remember anything." Tears suddenly boiled up hot in my eyes, and I couldn't get words out past the constriction in my throat. The panic hammering in my chest.

Abducted and raped and left for dead. Maybe it was true. Maybe it was just one of those sad stories that filled the daily newspapers and kept the TV news industry in nightly ratings.

I felt so cold. If I kept shaking like this, pieces were going to start flying off.

"Ah, God, Jo. You're in shock," he said. "Look, I'm going to touch you, all right? We need to get these cuts closed up, and this frostbite taken care of, and I can tell if there's... anything else wrong. Just... hold on. Don't fight me." He reached out very carefully.

I flinched. I couldn't help it. I got hold of myself, somehow, and held still as his hands closed around both of mine. He moved to get on one knee in front of me.

"I have to... I have to get closer," he said. "I need you to lie down."

Lie down. Lie down on this freezing ground.

Lie down, at his mercy.

Not easy, not at all. I kept telling myself that if he could heal me—however he was doing it—then I should let him. I needed to be healthy. I needed to be able to run.

I slowly let myself sink back, holding to his hands, until I was flat on my back. The coat didn't go very far down. The backs of my thighs felt instantly ice-cold in contact with the damp leaves, and although the fire was casting some warmth, I could barely feel it. My shaking was getting worse, not better.

"Easy," he murmured, as if I was some wild thing he was out to tame. "Try to relax."

Yeah, sure. Relax. I couldn't watch what he was doing, and the darkness behind my eyelids was too frightening, too much of a reminder of everything I'd already lost. I looked up instead, at the clouds, and saw a ghost image of a vast wind flowing like a river, separated into layers. Every little eddy and swirl was suddenly visible to me. I stared, puzzled, entranced, and then gasped as I felt Lewis start in on me.

It hurt. Live-wire-on-the-tongue kind of hurt, every nerve in my body sensitizing and responding and burning, and I made a moan of protest and tried to yank free, but he held on, leaning closer, on his knees in front of me with his head bent. It looked like prayer. It felt like torture.

Oh, God... He was inside of me. Not in a sexual way, although there was something in it that resonated along those nerves, inside those aching spaces; no, this was more invasive than that. I could feel him moving through every part of me, climbing the ladders of my nerve endings, searching...

Out. Get out! I was aware that I was panting, groaning, and trying to pull my hands free of his. Let GO OF ME! I was screaming it inside as I writhed on the ground, squirming, trying to suppress the terrible feelings welling up inside of me.

I got my wish, with a vengeance, as a pair of hands grabbed his shoulders and threw Lewis across the clearing to smash against a tree trunk. Lewis yelled and flopped, rolled over and came to his hands and knees, then slammed facedown into the leaves before getting up again, more slowly. His face was dirty gray with shock and rage.

"You asshole," Lewis said shakily. "I was trying to help her."

I looked up at my rescuer.

For a moment, my mind just didn't want to acknowledge what it was seeing, because... he wasn't human. No man had skin like that, like living metal—flickering copper and bronze, cooling into something that was more like flesh, but still too burnished for anything outside of a special effect. His hair was longish, like Lewis's, a barely-subdued blazing auburn, and although he was dressed like a regular guy, in blue jeans and a checked shirt, I had no sense of him being anything like normal.

His eyes were illuminated. Backlit, the way a cat's can seem in beamed light. A rich, scary color like melting pennies.

He was staring straight down at me, riveted.

Expressionless.

Lewis spat blood, and climbed painfully to his feet. "Make up your mind, David. Do you want her to freeze to death? Or can I get back to healing her?"

David—should I know the name? Or was he a complete stranger? I couldn't tell, because he had absolutely no clues in his expression, in those crazy inhuman eyes, or in the tense, still set of his body.

Lewis must have taken his silence for assent, because he was coming back. He elbowed David aside and reached for my hands again. I yanked them free.

"No!"

"Don't be stupid. You've got frostbite. I'm restoring circulation." Lewis made a frustrated sound and grabbed my wrists, hard, when I tried to pull away again. "Dammit, quit fighting me!"

"Let her go," David said, very quietly. "She doesn't recognize you. She doesn't understand."

"What?"

"I can't see her," he said. "She's not on the aetheric."

Lewis frowned at him and rocked back on his heels. "That's impossible."

"Look."

Lewis turned the frown toward me, and his eyes unfocused. For a long few seconds, nothing happened, and then a very odd expression overtook his irritation, smoothed it out, and made it into a blank mask.

"Oh, shit," he breathed. "What the hell...?"

"I can't see her past," David said. Which made no sense to me at all, but then, this was making less sense as it went along. "Someone's taken it from her."

"How is that even possible?"

"It isn't." Suddenly David crouched down, startlingly graceful about it, and stared into my eyes. "Joanne. Do you know me?"

I recoiled from him, crab-walking backwards. Answer enough. Fo...

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Book Description ALLISON BUSBY, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. There were worse things than being naked, freezing and alone in a forest. For instance, there was being naked, freezing, not alone, and not sure of who the hell you were. Joanne Baldwin has had better days - at least she hopes she has. After waking up on her own in a forest, she s found by two rescuers she doesn t recognise at all. One supernaturally gorgeous guy might have been her lover. The other says he can control the weather .and so can she. Not everyone looking for Joanne has her best interests at heart, and with no way of telling friend from foe, Joanne is quickly lost in a fog of deception. Now she must rebuild herself, one memory at a time, before someone else steals her life - and she disappears into thin air. Bookseller Inventory # AAT9780749040642

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Book Description Allison & Busby. Book Condition: New. 2011. Paperback. Joanne Baldwin has had better days - at least she hopes she has. After waking up on her own in a forest, she's found by two rescuers she doesn't recognise at all. One supernaturally gorgeous guy might have been her lover. The other says he can control the weather .and so can she. Not everyone looking for Joanne has her best interests at heart. Series: Weather Warden. Num Pages: 480 pages. BIC Classification: FM. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 130 x 31. Weight in Grams: 338. Series: Weather Warden. 480 pages. Joanne Baldwin has had better days - at least she hopes she has. After waking up on her own in a forest, she's found by two rescuers she doesn't recognise at all. One supernaturally gorgeous guy might have been her lover. The other says he can control the weather .and so can she. Not everyone looking for Joanne has her best interests at heart. Cateogry: (G) General (US: Trade). BIC Classification: FM. Dimension: 198 x 130 x 31. Weight: 344. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780749040642

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Book Description Allison & Busby, 2011. Book Condition: New. 2011. Paperback. Joanne Baldwin has had better days - at least she hopes she has. After waking up on her own in a forest, she's found by two rescuers she doesn't recognise at all. One supernaturally gorgeous guy might have been her lover. The other says he can control the weather .and so can she. Not everyone looking for Joanne has her best interests at heart. Series: Weather Warden. Num Pages: 480 pages. BIC Classification: FM. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 130 x 31. Weight in Grams: 338. Series: Weather Warden. 480 pages. Joanne Baldwin has had better days - at least she hopes she has. After waking up on her own in a forest, she's found by two rescuers she doesn't recognise at all. One supernaturally gorgeous guy might have been her lover. The other says he can control the weather .and so can she. Not everyone looking for Joanne has her best interests at heart. Cateogry: (G) General (US: Trade). BIC Classification: FM. Dimension: 198 x 130 x 31. Weight: 344. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780749040642

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