Authors in the Spotlight
Book Title: ILLUSIONS
“What else do you do when you can’t figure out what a plant does? Besides cut it open, I mean,” Tamani asked.
“Smell it,” Laurel responded automatically. “I can taste the ones that aren’t poisonous.”
She looked up at Tamani, at his half-smile. “No,” she said, instantly knowing what he had in mind. “No, no, no, n—” Her words were cut off as two pollen-dusted hands cupped Laurel’s cheeks and Tamani pressed his mouth against hers, parting her lips with his own.
Stars exploded in Laurel’s head, their rainbow ashes coalescing into a torrential pastiche, a rapid-fire flipbook of flower parades and crazy. Through her head, unbidden, fleeting, and difficult to grasp, poured thoughts that made her giddy and queasy at once. Mix with zantedeschia stamens for a potent antitoxin. Age revitalization in animals if fermented with amrita. Injectable Enticement block, rose petals, photo-resistor, salve daisies balm tincturepoisonnectardeath—Laurel jerked away from Tamani, too dazed to slap him.
“Laurel? Laurel, are you all right?”
Laurel slumped back into her chair and brought her fingers to her lips.
“I asked you not to.” Laurel could tell that her tone was flat. Distant. But her mind was reeling.
She knew she should be furious, but Tamani’s presence barely registered at all, blocked out by the sensations that had assaulted her mind.
“You weren’t going to do it. I had to at least try. I didn’t mean anything by it—”
“Yes, you did,” Laurel said. Research was a convenient excuse, but Tamani had seen an opportunity and taken it.
Fortunately for him, it had worked. Sort of. She looked up, numbly, at Tamani. Gradually it dawned on her that he had no idea what just happened.
“You want me to apologize? I will, if it’s that important to you. I’m—”
Laurel put one finger to his lips, silencing him. At the touch of him the overwhelming f low of information didn’t return, but the images were fresh in her memory. Is that how it always feels, for the other Falls? she wondered. Or was that a fluke?
Her expression must have been perplexing, because Tamani stepped backward, out of Laurel’s reach, and held his hands up, palms out, pleading. “Look, I just thought—”
“Shut up,” Laurel said. Her tone was still flat, but she wasn’t feeling quite so numb anymore.
“We’ll deal with that later. When you kissed me, I got all these . . . ideas. For potions I’ve never heard of.” She thought of the way the word poison had invaded her mind. “I think maybe they’re forbidden.”
“I’ve been doing it wrong, Tamani. I don’t need to touch you. I might need to test my potions on you, assuming I find the right plants, but touching you won’t tell me how to make potions for you.”
It took him a moment to process what she was saying.
“What did it tell you, Laurel?”
“It told me how to make potions from you.”