PARALLELOGRAM (Book 2: Caught in the Parallel)
Finally! For all of you who got to the end of Book 1 and screamed, “What? Come on!” I’m happy to announce that the next installment in the PARALLELOGRAM series is here!
Here’s what you have to look forward to:
In a desperate move to save her parallel self from certain death, high school science genius Audie Masters managed to bend the laws of physics. But now she’s trapped in the wrong universe, with no sign that her scheme to save her alternate self, the famous teenage explorer and adventurer Halli Markham, actually worked.
Until she can sort out the physics of what went wrong, Audie has to pretend to be Halli–and fool everyone from Halli’s parents to the guy who’s in love with her. And meanwhile there’s her own life Audie would like to reclaim, including Daniel, the only one who knows the truth about who she really is.
Is Halli still alive? If so, where is she? And can Audie ever find her way back to her own universe, her own family–her own life?
PARALLELOGRAM (Book 2) is available as an e-book from Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords (which supports ePub, international, and other formats), and as a paperback.
And now, because we’re friends, here’s an excerpt to get you going:
I am sitting on a plane.
A private jet.
Someone has put a glass of fresh pomegranate juice in front of me, but I haven’t taken a sip.
I’ve been asked questions: “Are you comfortable? Do you need anything? Are you still jet-lagged? Does the dog need anything? Would you care for an asparagus soufflé?” and I either nod or shake my head. I’ve barely said ten words in the past two hours, probably for the same reason I haven’t tasted that delicious-looking pomegranate juice: my throat seems to have closed up. I’m afraid if I open my mouth I might scream. Because nothing—and I mean NOTHING—is right about this scene.
There is a dog sleeping at my feet.
Not my dog. Not my feet.
There is a guy sitting across from me, the best-looking guy I’ve ever known, the guy I’ve been in love with for thirteen years, since I was four years old.
Not the same guy. Just his face and body, skin and voice and hair.
He calls me Halli. I am not Halli. Halli might be dead. Halli might be lost. Halli has left this body—been catapulted out of it, thanks to my brilliant move, trying to save her life—and now it’s just me in here, Audie Masters, a girl with absolutely zero clue what I’m supposed to do now.
Not my body. Not my life. Not even my universe.
Oh, great masters of physics, help me.
Here is what I remember:
Me, sitting in a sound-proof room in Professor Whitfield’s laboratory. The professor and his lab assistant, Albert, explaining to me that time and the laws of physics are just habits of thinking—that things don’t really work the way everyone thinks they do.
Me, testing that theory by casting my thoughts three days into the future—three days and a whole other universe away—watching to see what my parallel self, Halli Markham, was doing at that moment. What she was doing was about to get herself and her dog killed by an avalanche in the Alps.
And then I remember this: me hurtling myself at Halli, across the gap between our universes, across the gap of time, me not really a body anymore, but more like a force, pushing Halli out of the way of danger, but pushing her . . . where? Into what?
Because the next thing I knew, it was me inside Halli’s body, waking up safe in her home, her dog peacefully sleeping at the foot of her bed.
How? How did we all get there? Me and Halli’s body and Red?
And where in this universe or any other is Halli? Did I really save her? Or did I just shove her out into some empty void, and it’s just me now, alone, trapped forever inside her body and her universe?
And where, for that matter, is my body? Is it just . . . gone?
“You all right?” Jake asks me.
I didn’t realize I’d been clutching my stomach. Halli’s stomach.
I nod and let my arms relax. Jake has been very nice. No complaints there.
Except for the fact that looking at him and hearing him talk freaks me out almost as much as any of the rest of this.
Because he’s Will. The parallel version of Will. His name is Jake Demetrios over here, but he looks exactly like the guy I’ve always secretly been in love with, sounds exactly like him, and even—I know this sounds weird—smells like him. Not that Dial soap smell I’m used to on Will, but something deeper, at the skin level. Which I guess isn’t a surprise since they have the exact same DNA, but you’d think a guy in a different parallel universe might slap on some cologne or use a different shampoo or do something to throw you off his scent.
But no, it’s that same smell I like to close my eyes and breathe in whenever Will isn’t watching and I can get away with it. It’s so real to me sometimes I feel like I could spread it on a cracker and eat it. Or swipe a fingerful of it out of the air and smear it behind my ears.
I’m not saying that’s normal, I’m just saying that’s how it is. And sitting across from this stranger right now isn’t really helping me keep a clear head and gather my wits.
Plus every time I look up, he’s staring straight at me, usually with this soft sort of half-smile going on that’s just too hot for words—I can guarantee that Will has never looked at me that way—and it makes it hard to remember that I have a boyfriend now, his name is Daniel, he actually lives in this universe of Halli’s, and at some point I’m going to start thinking about him a lot, I promise, it’s just that right now I have about a billion other things to worry about before I can even get to that.
Like, what is it—exactly—that went wrong? How did I make this happen? I obviously violated every known laws of physics, so were there unknown laws I somehow tapped into? And can I tap my way out and undo this whole mess?
And what happens to Halli if I do? If I somehow unravel this whole sequence, does that mean she dies after all? I wouldn’t be there to save her, so she and Red get buried in that avalanche?
The plane hits a little patch of turbulence, and Jake’s foot bumps into mine. I look up and he’s smiling at me again, in that way he really needs to stop.
“You’re different than I expected,” he tells me.
Oh, really? I want to say. Maybe because the girl who regularly inhabits this body is the fearless teenage adventurer and explorer that everyone in this universe seems to have heard of. Maybe if this were her in this situation, having to pretend she’s me, she’d be all over it and view it as some sort of exciting new challenge: Expedition Audie. Pretend to be that physics nerd who spends most of her time in her bedroom reading about quantum particles and probability waves. Oo—dangerous.
“Hm,” is all I answer, then I turn to look out the window. I figure the less I say, the better. Fewer chances to mess up and have people realize they’ve got the wrong girl.
Because I need these people. I need the information they have. And so if I can just fake my way through everything for a few days, maybe I can get out of this before anyone knows what went wrong.
Jake orders himself another glass of juice. “You need anything?”
Yeah, what I need is about five hours alone, all to myself. Time to think.
It’s been nothing but go, go since I woke up in Halli’s body this morning. I barely had time to come to grips with the fact that I wasn’t me anymore, when Red started barking his head off because a car was coming up the road to Halli’s house. Then the car stopped, and the person who got out was exactly the last person I ever expected to see.
And for that full minute and a half or however long it took for him to walk from his car to the door, knock on the door, me answer it, and Jake introduce himself—for that brief little time, I was thinking, Will found me somehow. He’s here to rescue me. That’s about the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard of.
Fat chance. In the same way Will’s disgusting girlfriend Gemma has her own—and vastly superior, I must say—version over here in this universe, Will Stamos-Valadez has his own duplicate edition walking around in his same genetic outfit, claiming to be a totally different person.
I’m not sure I can ever get used to these things.
So I opened the door, and he told me right away who he was, and that he works for Halli’s father, and that he was there to pick me up and fly me back to Halli’s parents’ house for some sort of meeting they arranged with her last week.
A meeting I knew nothing about. Halli hadn’t thought to mention it to me before. And now I was going to have to bluff my way through it. It was exactly like one of those anxiety dreams where you know you have a test starting in five minutes, but it’s for a class you never attended.
Plus, just like in any good anxiety dream, I was standing there in my pajamas—Halli’s pajamas, actually. Jake seemed a little surprised by that. Apparently I was supposed to be dressed and ready to go.
But he looked at me with those dark brown eyes of Will’s, and smiled at me in that way Will never does, and it felt even more like a dream than before.
And then he snapped me out of it.
“You must still be jet-lagged,” he said. “We saw you just got home last night.”
Information. Here was my first clue about what had happened to me between the avalanche and now.
And I knew how he knew.
It was the tracking. Halli explained it to me before. There’s a kind of microchip embedded under her collarbone—she said everyone here has them—and her parents can use that to track her whereabouts, at least until she takes them off her list when she turns eighteen. Thank goodness we’re both still seventeen. Thank goodness if I’m wearing her body I can at least get some data out of it.
I made a big show of yawning. “What day is it?”
“Thursday,” Jake said.
Thursday? My brain clicked into motion. The last time I saw Halli it was Tuesday in her world. How did I lose two days from her life? Where have I been?
If I could see a printout of that—a detailed report of Halli’s whereabouts minute by minute since the avalanche—
It might not solve my physics problem, but at least it would give me somewhere to start. Because right now I had nothing—no memory, no facts, nothing.
“I’ll go get changed,” I told Jake, and rushed off to Halli’s bedroom.
The dog came with me, and lay on Halli’s bed while I got dressed and packed. I changed into a pair of Halli’s jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, then stuffed a few more of each of those into the worn-out duffle I found at the bottom of her closet. A few pairs of underwear, a few pairs of socks, I was done. Halli told me once she always traveled lightly. Might as well live up to the image.
I was about to put on a pair of her sneakers when something else caught my eye: Halli’s hiking boots.
My heart nearly leapt out of its ribcage.
Because the last time I saw those boots, Halli had been wearing them when we were together in the Alps.
Which meant she’d made it out alive! She’d made it home.
Then my brain had to squelch the whole thing. Of course those boots made it home. They’d been on Halli’s feet at the time, and I was currently wearing Halli’s feet. The boots had come home with me. That didn’t prove anything.
I felt the tip of a wave. It was poised there, just waiting to break over me, to crash me down into despair. All it needed was for me to give in, even just a little bit. To be willing to really feel what this whole thing meant.
But I couldn’t do that. It might be a great release in the moment to collapse onto Halli’s floor and have myself a big, hysterical cry, but how was that going to help Halli? It wasn’t.
What Halli needed was my logical, thinking brain. What she needed was for me to be a robot, to not feel, to just take in all the necessary facts and then arrange them in the right, intelligent sequence so I could understand how to save her. I could be emotional later. This wasn’t the time.
So I tugged the boots onto my feet. Onto Halli’s feet. And I told her dog we were going, and the two of us met Jake back up at the front. He took Halli’s duffle from me.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said. Which was just the first of the many lies I knew I’d have to start telling from then on.
When reading a series, you oft times expect book two to be the weakest. Not with Robin Brande at the helm. Book two is every bit as brilliant as the first one! Smarter, more romantic and fantastical, and new, just as authentic teen characters as before. Ms. Brande displays her world building chops by taking us to another dimension, all while showing how this new world and what is happening in it is all technically possible through real quantum physics. I was so invested in the story and characters from the first book, that I hit the ground running with this one, starting it at 8pm Friday night and finishing by 11am Saturday morning. The story never slows, but propels you further into a new world full of questions and betrayals – you never know who to trust. Since Audie doesn’t know what’s going on, neither do we, so we get to experience that most wonderful aspect of reading – the joy of discovery. And Ms. Brande serves it up expertly, delivering new discoveries and newer, more perplexing questions, setting us deliciously up for book three. I cannot wait!!
~Shiela Calderón Blankemeier
Few authors have the ability to make quantum physics understandable, never mind interesting, but Robin Brande is one of the few. Again mixing hardcore science with an easy-to-love protagonist, the second book in Brande’s “Parallelogram” series is just as spectacular as the first. High school senior Audie Master is back, but she’s got a big problem. A botched attempt to save the life of her parallel self has left her stranded in an alternate universe and she has no idea how to get back. Her situation is further muddied by a disastrously complex (but wholly believable) love triangle that only a book about bending the laws of physics could create. Impeccably crafted with the ultra-realistic characterization, emotion, and dialogue that you can always count on Brande to deliver, “Caught in the Parallel” ends with a brutal cliff-hanger that will leave you clamoring for the release of the concluding third volume.