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       Infinity Bell: A House Immortal Novel, p.1

           Devon Monk
 
Infinity Bell: A House Immortal Novel


  PRAISE FOR THE HOUSE IMMORTAL NOVELS

  House Immortal

  “I love Devon Monk’s books. There is something about each story that sucks the reader in completely and doesn’t let go . . . an excellent story. Devon Monk is incredible at weaving a tale that makes the reader excited, crazy, and astonished all at the same time.”

  —Fiction Vixen

  “Original and intriguing . . . [a] kick-ass heroine, powerful, near-immortal beings, fun sidekicks, and [an] original world.”

  —All Things Urban Fantasy

  “I didn’t want to stop reading. House Immortal kept my interest every second.”

  —Yummy Men Kick Ass Chicks

  “A fresh and unique world. . . . Devon Monk once again proves she’s a powerhouse in the genre.”

  —A Book Obsession

  “House Immortal brings Frankenstein into a new world, and Devon Monk puts it together excellently!”

  —Drey’s Library

  “[Tilly] is exactly the type of heroine I enjoy reading about: She’s intelligent, independent, compassionate, and totally kick-ass. . . . Definitely one of my favorite reads this year.”

  —Short & Sweet Reviews

  “Monk has a way with putting a unique twist on a story . . . absolutely wonderful.”

  —Bookworm Blues

  “Monk has a way to create worlds that feel like our reality mixed with a kick of fantasy.”

  —Seeing Night Book Reviews

  “A unique, new series with intriguing characters, a power-hungry villain, and an original, well-built world.”

  —Urban Fantasy Investigations

  “Interesting, well-developed characters, a kick-ass plot with more twists and turns than you can even guess, and incredible world building . . . House Immortal is the start of what looks to be a fantastic series.”

  —Book Briefs

  PRAISE FOR THE AGE OF STEAM NOVELS

  Tin Swift

  “Action and romance combine with a deft precision that will keep readers turning pages—and anxiously awaiting the next volume.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Monk flawlessly blends fantasy, steampunk, and Western in this fantastic series.”

  —SciFiChick.com

  Dead Iron

  “The action is superb, the stakes are sky-high, and the passion runs wild. Who knew cowboys and gears could be this much fun? Devon Monk rocks—her unique setting and powerful characters aren’t to be missed!”

  —New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews

  “Beautifully written and brilliantly imagined, Devon Monk is at her best with Dead Iron.”

  —New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent

  “Powerful and action-packed, Monk’s pacing is hypnotic. . . . Keenly crafted characters and a deftly depicted landscape make this an absolute must read.”

  —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  PRAISE FOR THE ALLIE BECKSTROM NOVELS

  “Urban fantasy at its finest. . . . Every book is packed with action, adventure, humor, battles, romance, drama, and suspense.”

  —Sacramento Book Review

  “Dark and delicious. . . . Allie is one of urban fantasy’s most entertaining heroines.”

  —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  “Allie’s adventures are gripping and engrossing, with an even, clever mix of humor, love, and brutality.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Snappy dialogue, a brisk pace, and plenty of magic keep the pages turning to the end. . . . This gritty, original urban fantasy packs a punch.”

  —Monsters and Critics

  “Loved it. Fiendishly original and a stay-up-all-night read. We’re going to be hearing a lot more of Devon Monk.”

  —#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs

  “Highly original and compulsively readable.”

  —Jenna Black, author of Resistance

  “Gritty setting, compelling, fully realized characters, and a frightening system of magic-with-a-price that left me awed. Devon Monk’s writing is addictive.”

  —New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent

  BOOKS BY DEVON MONK

  The House Immortal Series

  House Immortal

  Infinity Bell

  The Broken Magic Series

  Hell Bent

  Stone Cold

  The Allie Beckstrom Series

  Magic to the Bone

  Magic in the Blood

  Magic in the Shadows

  Magic on the Storm

  Magic at the Gate

  Magic on the Hunt

  Magic on the Line

  Magic Without Mercy

  Magic for a Price

  The Age of Steam

  Dead Iron

  Tin Swift

  Cold Copper

  ROC

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014

  USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

  penguin.com

  A Penguin Random House Company

  First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

  Copyright © Devon Monk, 2015

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

  ISBN 978-0-698-14023-3

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  Contents

  Praise

  Books by DEVON MONK

  Title page

  Copyright page

  Dedication

  Acknowledgments

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Excerpt from CRUCIBLE ZERO

  For my family

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  I would like to thank my awesome editor, Anne Sowards, for once again helping to make my stories shiny and strong. I’d also like to thank the many wonderful, talented, hardworking people inside Penguin who have gone above and beyond to support and create this book. To my agent, Miriam Kriss, thank you for all that you do. And to the excellent artist, Eric Williams, thank you for bringing Matilda and her world to life.

  As for my two amazing first readers, Dean Woods and Dejsha Knight—I hope you know how much I truly appreciate all the talks, feedback, and support yo
u both offer so generously and on such ridiculous deadlines. I promise to work on the deadline part. A big thank-you to my wonderful family, one and all. You people are crazy, and I love you. To my husband, Russ, and sons, Kameron and Konner, I’ve said this before, but I will always mean it: I love you. Thanks for being such amazing people and the very best part of my life.

  But mostly, dear readers, I’d like to thank you for letting me share this story, these people, and this adventure with you.

  1

  I thought you were an angel burning in that dark night. I thought you had come to save me. Maybe you did. But I never wanted you to die for me.

  —from the diary of E. N. D.

  The sound of the seaplane’s engine growling low and loud as it came in for a landing jarred me awake.

  I sat, still half asleep, reaching for my duffel, my gun, or anything I could use as a weapon. The seat belt dug into my hips painfully, and a warm, soft cloth slid down away from my chin.

  “We’re coming into San Diego, Matilda,” my brother, Quinten Case, said from behind me.

  Right. Seaplane, running for our lives from the Houses who thought we were behind the murder of Oscar Gray and Slater Orange. Houses who ruled all the resources in the world, and were, at this moment, using those resources to sift through the world to find me, my brother, and Abraham Seventh.

  To be honest, the chances of us slipping their notice weren’t great. The chances of us slipping their notice before the Wings of Mercury experiment—an old time machine my ever-so-great-grandfather had built—triggered and killed me, Abraham, and all the other galvanized in the world was right near zero.

  Still, I was a Case. And we Cases never gave up when saving the world.

  It was dark outside. Night. I must have slept for hours. The rest of the blanket covering me fell away as I lifted my hands to rub at my face.

  “How much longer?” I asked.

  “Just about to land.”

  I straightened and dug at the knots in my neck, rubbing the ache out of it. Then I glanced back at my brother. He sat with a blanket around his shoulders, cradling a thermos cup between his hands. His dark curly hair was mussed, as if he’d been pulling his fingers through it. Even in the low light, he was too thin, too pale.

  Captivity had not sat well with him, somehow sharpening his features and movements and cornering that restless-genius mind of his.

  “Coffee?” he offered.

  “I didn’t know we had any on board.”

  Corb, who sat in the rear of the plane, raised his voice over the lowering rumble of the engines. “We were saving it for when we made land. A victory celebration.”

  The big man and his pilot wife, Sadie, had come to our rescue and smuggled Quinten and me out of Hong Kong in their little seaplane. They’d also rescued my farmhand, Neds Harris, who was sleeping in the seat next to me, and Abraham Seventh, the man I might be stupidly falling in love with and who was passed out in the cargo area.

  Travel had been less than kind to Abraham. He had a sort of rugged handsomeness about him, dark wavy hair above a broad face with piercing hazel eyes, and a strong jaw covered in scruff. But now his skin was yellow between the bruises that covered it. The stitches that held him together, crossing his face, neck, torso, arms, and legs, had nearly disintegrated in just a few hours. Loose threads poked up out of his skin like sun-seeking maggots in rotted fruit.

  At first we’d thought he’d been soaked in Shelley dust, a substance possessed by the heads of Houses and used as a means to control galvanized—people like Abraham, people like me, who were made of bits stitched together. Shelley dust on the skin would burn through the stitching.

  Then Quinten had found the bullet holes in Abraham’s chest. Abraham had been shot with Shelley dust, which meant it was doing as much irreparable damage to his internal organs as his stitches.

  Quinten thought we could negate the dust’s effects if we got him to a doctor soon enough. I didn’t know how soon would be soon enough. But I knew he didn’t have much time left.

  Along the tattered lines of Abraham’s broken stitches were new, thin silver threads holding him together. That thread was my father’s own invention, made of nanos and minerals right out of the soil and water of our farm.

  Quinten had sewn Abraham together last night with the spool of thread I’d packed with me. So far Abraham had remained in one piece. The thin silver stitches were precise, clean, and beautiful in their way. My brother had an artist’s hand with stitching.

  I should know. He was the one who had stitched me together when I was just a little girl.

  But along with the unstitching, Abraham had lost a lot of blood. Too much. The heavy blanket we’d wrapped him in was soaked with it, and it was seeping out of holes we could not patch.

  At least he couldn’t feel pain. None of the galvanized had full sensation.

  Well, except for me.

  “Matilda?” Quinten held out the cup.

  I pulled my thoughts away from Abraham and took the steaming, fragrant drink from my brother. Coffee wasn’t my favorite hot beverage, but right now anything liquid and warm would do me fine.

  I took a couple sips, the bitter liquid spreading through my empty stomach like a heat wave, then noticed Neds were watching me.

  Neds Harris was a man put together in the nonstandard configuration of two heads side by side on one body. He’d been with me for two years now, and had left my off-grid farm when the Houses had discovered not only that I was off grid but also that I was something they wanted to own.

  I offered him the coffee.

  Right Ned took a sip of it, offered it to Left Ned, who shook his head. “I’m good,” Left Ned said.

  The plane dipped suddenly and I almost missed them handing me back the coffee cup.

  “Need some help up there, Sadie?” Left Ned called out to our pilot.

  “From you?” she called back. “I can handle this with two eyes twice as good as you could with four.”

  “Except I wouldn’t hit every pothole in the sky,” Left Ned muttered.

  “I heard that,” she said. “Not another peep out of you, or I’ll tell my husband to escort you overboard.”

  Neds held up their hands in surrender, although Left Ned was grinning. They both settled back a bit and closed their eyes.

  I took another sip of coffee and passed it back to Quinten. “How are you feeling?”

  In the dim light my brother’s sharp features were a little blurry, but I could make out that irritated frown of his. “I’ve been thinking about what we need to do.”

  When Quinten used that tone of voice, nothing but trouble came of it.

  “Get Abraham blood?” I suggested. “And cleanse his system before his organs fail?”

  “No. Well, yes, but not that. The break in time. How to fix it. We talked about this,” he admonished, as if I’d been sleeping through a class lecture.

  “No,” I corrected, “we haven’t had time to talk about anything. We’ve been running. I guess just you and your genius were comparing notes in your brain again.”

  He slid me a quick smile. “All right. Well, we need to talk about it.”

  “Now?”

  The plane bucked again, and Sadie corrected with a tip of the wings that had me grabbing the armrest of my chair to keep from sliding into Neds.

  Neds, eyes still closed, chuckled and Sadie cussed.

  Outside the windows I could barely see the city lights through the fog. I sure hoped Sadie had a better view than I did.

  “Maybe after we land,” he said.

  Better idea.

  We held on tight as Sadie brought the plane down into the water, slowing against the drag until we had turned and were trolling over to the dock.

  San Diego glowed distant and fuzzy in the fog that was so thick, it seemed to swallow the world whole.

  “This is it,” Sadie said, her hand busy over switches and toggles as the little plane came to a rest alongside an unlit dock. She unlatched her
seat belt and shifted in her chair so she could look back at all of us. “As far as we can get you. I wish we could do more. . . .”

  “You’ve been great,” I said. “Above and beyond, and then some. Thank you so much for all of your help. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

  She smiled. “A friend of Neds is a friend of ours. Always.”

  “You are good people, Sadie,” Right Ned said around a yawn. He rolled the stiffness out of his shoulders. “And a decent pilot. I owe you one.”

  “You owe me nothing,” she said. “Just see that you stay alive.”

  “I’ll put in an effort,” Right Ned said.

  Corb opened the rear door and the plane shifted and rocked as he exited and lashed the vessel to the dock. The sharp salt and oil scent of the bay wafted, cold and wet, into the plane.

  Left Ned nodded at me. “Give me a minute to find us transport. I’ll be right back.” He unlatched the side door and hopped out onto the pontoon then over to the dock.

  It was a little strange having Neds do all the legwork to get us home. I was usually the one coordinating escape routes for the people of House Brown. I knew all the ins and outs for the off-grid families to avoid the direct gaze of the other powerful Houses who didn’t think House Brown or the people in it should have freedom or a voice.

  But my knowledge and contacts had not been enough. Neds knew Sadie and Corb, and, with them he had gotten us out of Hong Kong. He said he knew people who could get us across the country quickly and without notice.

  I didn’t know if those people were a part of House Brown, or were perhaps people like Sadie and Corb, who flew so far under the radar, they didn’t even claim House Brown.

  What I knew for sure was we had to be moving, and quickly for everyone’s safety. Anyone helping us right now was putting himself directly in the line of fire.

  “What about Abraham?” I asked.

  Quinten glanced down at the unconscious man. “We’ll carry him. Hopefully Neds can find an accommodating vehicle.”

  In just a couple minutes, Neds did find an accommodating vehicle. A dark late-model box van with two seats in the front and plenty of cargo space in the back.

  Between Neds, Quinten, Corb, and I, we strapped Abraham securely to the stretcher, then transferred him from the plane to the van.

 
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