I've teamed up with Sourcebooks Fire to not only give you guys an exclusive excerpt of Paper Hearts, but I also have ONE PAPERBACK COPY to giveaway to one lucky reader!!
Details below the excerpt, enjoy. :)
The ballroom was glittering. Five massive crystal chandeliers lit the space, their warm glow reflecting in the arched floor-to-ceiling mirrors that ran the length of the room. Music swept down from the mezzanine where an orchestra was playing, and the melody carried beautiful couples across the dance floor.
The amount of wealth packed into the room was staggering. When I first arrived, I saw a woman wearing a necklace that was set with an emerald the size of my fist. No joke. I felt out of place in my department store dress and fake jewels.
"Where the hell are you, Asha?" I muttered to myself as I glanced down at my wrist. But my watch wasn't there. I'd taken it off before the ball, replacing my favorite accessory with a sparkling pink bracelet I'd made to match my mask. Yesterday, I was proud of the jewelry I designed for tonight, but after seeing some of the pieces the guests were wearing, the faux crystals around my wrist didn't seem so special anymore.
Sighing, I turned back to the crowd. Asha has disappeared what felt like ages ago. She'd gone to order sodas from the bar since we couldn't have any of the champagne being passed around by the waitstaff, and I was starting to feel awkward standing by myself.
Besides her, I didn't know anyone here except for the CCA staff members, but they were all too busy entertaining important guests to keep me company.
In Asha's absence, I'd claimed a deserted high-top cocktail table that was set beneath the balcony. My spot was out of the way, perfect for people watching. A sweet-looking elderly couple at the edge of the dance floor were moving slowly to their own tempo, and I easily spotted Ronald Gibbins, the CCA's executive director, who was wearing a ridiculous top hat. I continued to scan the crowd, hoping to catch sight of a celebrity, but it was hard to recognize anyone with all the masks.
That's when I noticed him.
Unlike the most of the colorful and ornately designed masks guests had donned at the beginning of the night, he'd chosen a simple but sleek black wolf that made his gray eyes pop. Even though he was standing a few yards away, I could see their startling shade as he stared at me without reservation.
He looked younger than most of the attendees. Maybe he was the son of a successful businessman or movie director? It was difficult to gauge how old he was with the upper half of his face covered. Eighteen or nineteen, if I had to guess. Possibly early twenties.
The only thing I knew for sure was that he was beautiful. Not hot like Eddie Marks, the captain of the soccer team who I'd had a crush on since middle school. Eddie knew how all the girls looked at him and used it to his advantage. This boy, whoever he was, didn't do that. I don't know how I knew this- maybe it was the way he held himself, tall but not cocky, or the look in his eyes, lonely yet hopeful- but I could tell he wasn't like the Eddies of the world.
We'd never met before, and yet... there was something about him I couldn't put my finger on. Just holding his gaze made me feel like all my insides had been sucked out, and after two more seconds of direct eye contact, I focused my attention on the floor.
Wanting to look busy, I pulled out my phone to see if Asha has texted me. Maybe Gabe Grant was here, and she was off flirting in some dark corner of the room with him. But when I checked, there were no new texts from anyone. I clicked on Asha's name and sent a quick message.
Felicity: You kidnapped or something?
I tucked my phone away and glanced up, hoping to see her heading toward me with two sodas in hand and a grin on her face. She wasn't, so I risked peeking at the guy with the piercing eyes. He'd turned back to the people standing around him: a tall man with a streak of silver in his dark hair, but the same gray eyes as the boy; a woman in a green, skintight dress that reminded me of alligator skin; and Judy Perkins, a CCA board member. Wolf Boy was listening to the conversation politely, but never once opened his mouth to comment while I was watching.
After a few more minutes of drumming my fingers on the cocktail table, there was still no sign of Asha. Even the boy, who I'd taken to glancing at occasionally, had vanished, swallowed by the ebb and flow of the crowd. If I didn't go look for Asha now, I would spend the rest of my night standing alone and looking foolish, so I snatched my clutch from the table and stepped out of the shadows.
GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!
Winner is Jenny IG(jenny_hite)!!