St. Martin's Griffin Presents: The Infinity of You and Me




28220701
THE INFINITY OF YOU AND ME:
A Novel
By J.Q. Coyle
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
**On Sale November 8, 2016**
Hardcover | $18.99
ISBN: 9781250099228 | Ebook ISBN: 9781250099235

What if every life-altering choice you made could split your world into infinite worlds?

Almost fifteen, Alicia is smart and funny with a deep connection to the poet Sylvia Plath, but she’s ultimately failing at life. With a laundry list of diagnoses, she hallucinates different worlds—strange, decaying, otherworldly yet undeniably real worlds that are completely unlike her own with her single mom and one true friend. In one particularly vivid hallucination, Alicia is drawn to a boy her own age named Jax who’s trapped in a dying universe. Days later, her long-lost father shows up at her birthday party, telling her that the hallucinations aren’t hallucinations, but real worlds; she and Jax are bound by a strange past and intertwining present. This leads her on a journey to find out who she is while trying to save the people and worlds she loves. J.Q. Coyle’s The Infinity of You & Me is a wild ride through unruly hearts and vivid worlds guaranteed to captivate.



Chapter One
The beginning is always a surprise.
(The endings are, too.)
I never quite know what I look like. I’m myself, yes, but diff erent.
Never tall and leggy, but my hair might be long and tied back
or cut in a short bob. Sometimes I’m in jeans and sneakers. Once or
twice, a dress.
I’ve been alone in a fi eld of snow.
I’ve woken up in the backseat of a fast car at night, my father
driving down a dark road.
I’ve been standing in the corner at a party where none of the
faces are familiar.
This time, noise comes fi rst. A clanging deep inside the hull of
a ship— a cruise ship. I’m running down a corridor of soaked red
carpet.
The ship lurches.
Someone’s yelling over the crackling PA speakers— I can’t
understand the words over the rush of water. Alarms roar overhead.
4 J. Q. COYLE
I shoulder my way down another corridor, fi ghting the fl ood of
people running in the opposite direction, screaming to each other.
Some part of my brain says, Me? On a cruise ship? Never. But if I
was so lucky, it’d be a sinking one.
The rest of my brain is sure this isn’t real, no matter how real it
feels.
I run my hand down the wall, the cold water now pushing
against my legs. I’m wearing a pair of skinny jeans I don’t own. I
know someone’s after me— I just don’t know who. I look back over
my shoulder, trying to see if anyone else is moving against the crowd
like I am.
No one is.
Where’s my mother? She’s never here when I go off in my head
like this.
A man grabs me roughly by the shirt. My ribs tighten.
Is this who I’m running from?
No. He’s old, his eyes bloodshot and wild with fear. He says
something in Rus sian, like the guys in the deli at Berezka’s, not too
far from my house in Southie. I shouldn’t be able to understand him,
but I do. “Run! This way. Do you want to die, girl?” I don’t speak Russian.
I’m failing Spanish II.
But then I answer, partly in Rus sian. “I’m fi ne. Thank you.
Spasiba.” The words feel stiff in my mouth. I can barely hear myself
over the screaming, the water rushing up the corridor, and the
groaning ship.
The man keeps yelling, won’t let go of me, so I rip myself loose
and run.
A glimpse of gray through a porthole, only a sliver of land and
heavy dark sky.
I see myself in the porthole’s dark refl ection—my hair chin
length, my bangs choppy, just a bit of faded red lipstick.
THE INFINITY OF YOU & ME 5
We’re on the Dnieper River. It’s like this: I know things I
shouldn’t. I don’t know how.
A woman falls. I reach down and help her up. Her head is gashed,
her face smeared with blood. She nods a thank-you and keeps marching
against the current, soaked.
I won der if she’ll make it. Will I?
I’m looking for my father. I want to call out for him, but I
shouldn’t. The people chasing me are really after him— I know this
too, the way you know things in a dream.
The ship lists, hard, and my right shoulder drives into a wall.
Stateroom doors swing open. The sound of water surging into the
hull is impossibly loud.
And then my father appears up ahead— shaggy, unshaven, his
knuckles bloody. I love seeing him in these hallucinations. (That’s
what my therapist calls them.) It’s the only time I ever see him. I
even love seeing him when he looks like hell, and older than I remember
him, more worn-down. But he always has this energy—
like his strength is coiled and tensed.
“Alicia!” he shouts. “Down!”
I fall to my knees. The water is up to my neck and so cold it
shocks my bones.
My father raises a gun and fi res.
Some men fi re back.
I put my head underwater, and the world is muted. I hold my
breath, can only hear my heart pounding in my ears. My face burns
with the cold, my back tight, lungs pinched. I swim toward the
blurry yellow glow of an emergency light.
When I lift my head, a tall and angular man slides down a wall
and goes under, leaving a swirl of blood. My father shot him. This
should shock me, but it doesn’t. My father, who’s really a stranger
to me, is always on the run and often armed.
6 J. Q. COYLE
Another man, thick necked and yelling, returns fi re from a cabin
doorway.
My father dis appears around the corner up ahead, then lays cover
for me. “Get up!” he shouts. “Move now!”
I push through the icy water, wishing my legs were stronger and
tougher, feeling small and easily kicked off - balance.
“Just up ahead,” he says, “— stairs.”
But then a little boy with a buzz cut doggy- paddles out of a cabin.
The water’s too deep for him.
I reach out, and he grabs my hand, clinging to my shirt.
“Alicia, get down!” my father yells.
Instinctively, I shield the kid.
A gunshot.
I feel a shattering jolt in my shoulder blade. I can’t breathe, can’t
scream.
The boy cries out, but he hasn’t been shot. I have. The pain is
stabbing. “He shot me!” I shout, shocked. I can only state the obvious,
my voice so rough and ragged I don’t even recognize it.
My father pulls me and the boy into a tight circular stairwell, the
water whirling around us, chest deep. As he lifts the little boy high
up the stairs, I glimpse the edge of a tattoo and skin rough with
small dark scars and fresh nicks on his wrists. “Keep climbing!” he
says to the little boy.
Wide- eyed with fear, the boy does what he’s told.
The water is rising up the stairs, fast, but my father props me up
with his shoulder, and we keep climbing. I try to remember what
it was like before he left my mom and me. Did he carry me to bed,
up the stairs, down the hallway, and tuck me in?
“ We’re going to get out,” my father says. “We can jump.”
“We can’t jump,” I say. Off the ship?
“Trust me,” my father says.
THE INFINITY OF YOU & ME 7
I’ve never trusted my father, never had the chance. After he left,
he wasn’t allowed within fi ve hundred feet of me or my mother.
“What the hell am I doing here?” I ask.
My father stares at me. “Is it you? Really you?”
“Yes, it’s me,” I say. Of course it’s me!
My father looks stunned and scared and relieved somehow all at
the same time. “ You’re fi nally here.”
“Fi nally where?”
“ Things have gotten too dangerous,” he says quickly. He reaches
into his pocket, and in his hand I glimpse what looks like a strangely
shaped shiny wooden cross about the width of his palm, but it’s not
a cross, not exactly. “ You’ve got to get lost and stay lost.”
I am lost, I want to tell him, but the pain in my back is so sharp
it takes my breath.
As the water pushes us up the stairwell, my blood swirls around
me like a cape. I can’t die here.
I look up into cloudy daylight.
The ship’s listing so hard now it seems to be jackknifi ng. Suddenly
I’m terrifi ed we’re all going to drown.
I expect to see the little boy’s face at the top of the stairs, but
he’s gone. Instead, there’s a group of men with guns trained on my
father and me.
“Ellington Maxwell.” The man who speaks is the one who shot
me. In the hazy glare off the water I see a jagged scar on his cheek.
“Welcome to our world. This time we hope you stay awhile.”
I look up at the sky again and abruptly it swells with sun. My
right hand hurts and I know this signals an ending . . . Bright, blazing,
obliterating light.
And I’m gone.
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 Praise For The Infiiniity Of You And Me

A fantastically fun mind-bender from start to finish, THE INFINITY OF YOU & ME will thrill its readers and leave them hungry for more.”
—Karen Akins, author of Loop and Twist

“Potter-style magic meets Snicket-y irreverence …”
– People Magazine on Julianna Baggott’s The Anybodies


About J. Q. Coyle
Growing up, J.Q. COYLE was a fan of stories. But more than that, a fan of possibilities. So, it only seemed only natural to write a story in which the possibilities are limitless.

J.Q. COYLE is the joint pen name of Julianna Baggott and Quinn Dalton. Quinn is an acclaimed writer who has published two short story collections and two novels. Julianna is the author of over twenty novels, including Pure, a New York Times Notable (2012).


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