Premise: A modern day Pandora story, except in this case Pandora opens an attachment instead of a box and hearkens technological armageddon. There's an MMO, a real-life scavenger hunt, a love triangle, and a countdown to Armageddon .... just to name a few of the things going on in the book.
Main Characters: Pandora, Theo (Prometheus) and Eli (Epimetheus)
Setting: Begins in Austin, Texas and ends in South Dakota-- in the meantime, a whole lot of states are covered. The whole world is falling apart as the attachment, a computer worm, shuts down control systems around the world, and in doing so annihilates all technology.
Eli doesn’t answer and when I turn to him, he has a weird look on his face, like I’ve just caught him doing something he shouldn’t. “Are you sniffing me, dude?”
“I’m sorry. Your hair smells weird.”
I stiffen at the insult. “That’s because I just dyed it, which—if you remember correctly—I did because you and Theo made me. So get over it.”
I keep my spine ramrod straight when I turn back to the book, fuming and embarrassed. I take a deep breath and try to concentrate, but now all I can smell are the chemicals from my hair. Eli’s right—I do smell weird.
I glance at him out of the corner of my eye and he’s watching me, waiting for me to do just that. He crosses his eyes, makes a face that looks absolutely ridiculous. I laugh- I can’t help it— and somebody at the next table shushes me.
It’s such a normal thing to do when the last day has been anything but, that it makes me feel better in a way nothing else possibly could. The world might be going to hell, but there are still some rules. Still some semblances of normalcy.
And then Eli’s laughing too, earning more dirty looks. He grabs the atlas off the table, then leads me through the maze of stacks until we’re almost at the back of the library. There’s no one around and we sink to the ground, lean against one of the bookshelves and spread the atlas out on our laps.
Now that I’ve remembered how to use an Atlas—using the gazetteer at the back to point me in the right direction—it doesn’t take us long to figure out what city the coordinates are pointing us to. Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I turn to Eli, confused. “What’s in Albuquerque?”
“You mean besides desert?”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, besides that.”
“We’re supposed to save the world from a golf course?”
“Hey, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. Stranger things have happened.”
“So, you’re a golfer huh?”
“My dad was. He had me on his course almost before I could stand. By the time I was four, I had my own little set of clubs.” His voice is soft, his eyes a little dreamy and faraway. It’s an unexpected glimpse into this boy I barely know, yet am traveling with. This boy I picked—or who picked me—to help save the world.
The softness doesn’t fit his shaggy haired, dressed-in-black, tattooed looks at all, any more than it fits the homicidal maniac I thought I was getting in English class yesterday. But something, I don’t know what, tells me it’s more real than any other part of him that I’ve seen.
“You must be really good if you’ve been golfing all those years,” I say, working hard to bring my thoughts back to the subject we’d been discussing.
“I don’t do it anymore.”
“Why not?” It’s obvious from the way he talks about it that he loves it. I can’t imagine giving something up that I feel that strongly about.
“My dad died when I was fourteen and it just wasn’t the same after that.” He blinks, and the softness is gone, replaced by the cocky grin and I-don’t-care attitude that I’ve grown accustomed to. It’s an interesting transformation, one that warns me that he’s a chameleon even as it makes me wonder who the real Eli is.
“Eli.” I put my hand over his, squeeze. “I’m sorry about your dad.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. He was a good guy.”
“Yeah, but still. It has to be hard to—“
I break off as his lips suddenly find mine. Right there in the middle of the mythology stacks, he plants one on me and I’m so shocked I don’t know if I should hit him or respond. In the end, it’s not much of a choice because he’s a good kisser, so good that he pulls me into the kiss even as I’m reeling from the unexpectedness of it.
His lips are firm and warm against mine as his tongue runs along the seam of my lips. I gasp in surprise, and he takes advantage, sliding inside of me in one smooth stroke.
He tastes like oranges and sunlight.
Birthday cake and unexpected surprises.
Candy apples and warm, summer nights on the lake.
It’s just another clue that he isn’t quite what I expected, that he can’t fit into the neat slot I first wanted to shove him into.
I’m not sure how I feel about his masquerade, but when his hands slide slowly up my arms to my shoulders, I stop caring. Shivers work their way down my spine and I tangle my fingers in his hair, tilt my head, draw him in closer, deeper. He feels so good, so normal in a world that has spun completely out of my control that I want to hang on to him, to this moment, as long as possible.
Seconds pass, minutes, and still we kiss, until the world around us fades away. Eli gasps, pulls his mouth from mine. I try to follow, afraid he’ll leave and take this feeling inside of me with him. But he just shifts, pulling me into his lap while his lips skim over my cheek, down my jaw, to the curved shell of my ear. I let my head fall back , and he kisses his way down my neck to my collar bone and the hollow of my throat.
My heart is beating crazy fast there, and pressed as I am against him, I can feel his doing the same. It feels good, strong and alive and powerful, so I tug his mouth back to mine and nip at his lower lip.
“Well, it looks like you two found the atlas, hmmm?”
Theo’s voice is dry and distant and galvanizes me to action like nothing else could. I all but leap off Eli into a standing position, head ducked and fingers pressed against my mouth. My cheeks are burning and I know I’m the same color as the candy apple I likened Eli’s taste to in my head.
Eli pushes to his feet more slowly, and the look he gives his step-brother is a million times more nonchalant than anything I could muster. He can’t quite pull it off, though, not with his lips puffy from kissing me and his eyes just a little glazed like that.
I steal a glance at Theo from under my lashes. His back is completely straight, his jaw tight and his eyes are blacker than I’ve ever seen them. And when he looks my way, they are completely shuttered. No life, no expression, no emotion in them at all. He doesn’t even look like the same guy who bandaged my feet or whispered with me as we drove together through the endless miles of road.
So, what do you think????