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“Out of nothing, we create something.”
Arianna has spent her entire life being called a dreamer, an artist who created a world no one else can see. And for her entire life, she has taken the medication that keeps that world – and the one who brought her there – at bay.
Now an adult, Arianna reawakens that part of herself kept locked away in the darkest corners of her mind. When she hides her medicine from her fiancé’s ever-watchful eye, he returns – the shadow in the night who collects her for an adventure known only in her fantasies.
But something is different about this world called The Never. It is no longer the cheerful place filled with light and laughter that she knew as a child. Now, the sea creatures drag their visitors into the depths of murky waters. The natives battle to the death against the tribe of children. And the pirates, led by the feared captain called The Hunter, seek out Arianna for their own sinister plans.
As Arianna goes deeper into The Never, she discovers just what her connection to the land means – and must choose between her life rooted in reality, and the world where anything is possible.
Prologue - A Child Dreams
The child sat with her arms crossed, green eyes staring vacantly at the woman before her, mind and imagination in a world not of this realm. The woman, frustrated and bored, watched the girl carefully, tired of this game.
A clock ticked in the background, a steady tick, tick, tick of time that did not exist for the child, but drove the adult to her last frayed nerve. Not even the tranquility of her office, purposely decorated to best set every heart at ease with soft colors and peaceful seascapes, could ease the tension in her shoulders.
“Arianna, we have been through this,” the woman said, speaking the first words of the day. Her voice sounded too high-pitched and nervous, betraying the stern expression her face had settled into. “You cannot keep lying to people. People don’t like lies.”
Those green eyes shifted ever so slightly, latching on to her in an eerie, unsettling way. The woman’s breath caught in her throat, making her next question sound almost frightened. “Can you tell me why you make up these stories?”
The girl hardly moved when she answered. “I don’t tell stories. I tell memories.”
The answer only annoyed the woman more. “Memories of what?”
“Of the land I dream of.”
“And where is this land?” At that, the girl unfolded her arms and slowly raised a hand, curling her fingers until just one was pointing toward the ceiling. “Up? Where is up? Heaven?” The girl only lowered her arm and narrowed her eyes in a way that told the woman exactly what she thought of her. “And who showed you this place?”
“Does this friend have a name?” The child didn’t answer. “Is he nice to you? Or does he tell you to do bad things?” Another blank stare. “Are you afraid of him?”
“I’m not afraid of my friends.”
“If he is a friend, why does no one else know him?”
“No one else can see him.”
The woman smiled softly, gently touching the girl’s arm. “Because he does not exist.”
“Because they have forgotten how to see,” the child retorted, bitterness in her voice. “He only comes to those who still believe in magic.”
“I see. And who told you to say that?”
“I think for myself.”
The woman sighed, rising to her feet and gesturing to the girl to do the same. “Magic is for children who cannot think for themselves, Arianna. It is time to grow up, and forget these stories. Then you won’t have to see me anymore.” The green eyes locked on her once again, sending a chill down the woman’s back.
“I see you always. But you never see me.”
The girl allowed her mother to tuck her in that night, obeying the soft commands to brush her teeth, put on her pajamas, and slip beneath the sheet. Bedtime was the best time for her, the time when dreams came, when she was visited by memories.
Her mother, a beautiful lady in every sense of the word, pulled up the comforter, smiling down at her daughter. “Tomorrow is a new day, sweetheart,” she said, kissing her on the cheek. She held out her hand. “Here, take this.”
The child looked down at the small blue pill, taking it in her slender fingers. “What is it?”
“To help you sleep,” her mother replied, handing her a glass of water. Not a trace of anger or deception filled her words, as she was a good mother, one who knew what was best for her only child and refused to show distress. “So you won’t have to visit your doctor anymore.” As expected, the oath had her daughter eagerly swallowing the pill, never knowing what truths would come of the broken promises.
“Will I sleep better now?” the girl asked, settling down against her pillows.
“You will sleep like an angel, my beautiful little Arianna, with silk wings and a long, flowing white dress.”
“Will I dream?”
“Of all the most wonderful things in this world.” Her mother leaned over and kissed her daughter on the forehead. “Sweet dreams, my love.”
But on that night, the little girl didn’t dream at all.
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