Illuminate Excerpt

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  • 7/28/2019 Illuminate Excerpt


    Part The Picture of Dorian Gray, part The Devil Wears Prada, this original and engrossingstory will keep surprising readers right up to the thrilling climax.

    Josephine Angelini, author ofStarcrossed

  • 7/28/2019 Illuminate Excerpt


    opyright 2012 by imee gresti

    ll rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections

    from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifin Harcourt Publishing

    ompany, 215 Park venue South, New York, New York 10003.

    Harcourt is an imprint of Houghton Mifin Harcourt Publishing ompany.

    ext set in MrsEaves.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    gresti, imee.

    Illuminate / by imee gresti.

    p. cm.

    Summary: brainy, shy high school outcast interning at a hicago hotel discovers

    that the hotel staff has an evil agenda planned for her classmates on prom night.[1. Supernatural Fiction. 2. Internship programs Fiction.] I. itle.

    pz7.a268754i1 2012

    [Fic] dc23


    Manufactured in the nited States of merica

    K 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


  • 7/28/2019 Illuminate Excerpt


    A Rare Opportunity

    3 1 4

    Up until that point, English class had been unremarkable. Wewere halway through The Picture of Dorian Gray. Mrs. Harris,with her voluminous behind precariously perched on the ront o

    her strained wooden desk, scanned the room searching or fick-

    ers o comprehension or, at the very least, consciousness in

    a sea o clueless aces. I slid down in my seat, letting my long

    wispy hair, still damp rom my morning encounter with winters

    sloppy-wet sleet, all around the sides o my ace: trying to hide.

    Ive never much been one or participation. I generally know the

    answers I just dont appreciate the attention that comes rom

    knowing them. nswer correctly and you have urther cemented

    your reputation as a brainy, hopeless outcast. nswer incor-

    rectly, and not only are you considered a bookish nerd, but now

    youre even bad at that. It was a lose/lose situation. So I read

    ahead in the book, tuning her out, glancing up every now and

    then to the clock above the chalkboard or to the windows where

    blustery, chalk-white skies hung over another rigid January day.Evanston, Illinois. he tundra that was the greater hicago area

    would likely look this way until pril, but it never bothered me so

  • 7/28/2019 Illuminate Excerpt



    much. I liked the way that braving its wind-whipping wrath could

    make a person, even someone as easily tossed around as me, feel


    So lets talk about the nature of good, evil, and hedonism,

    the teacher droned on.

    t the mention of hedonism, on reex, my eyes darted two

    rows in front of me. Buzz-cropped Jason bington, wearing

    his basketball jersey, number 9, to advertise the big game this

    weekend, nibbled on the cap of a blue ballpoint pen my blue

    ballpoint pen. Somewhere inside my stomach, swarms of butter-ies uttered from their cocoons. It was for this very reason that

    the front outside pocket of my backpack bulged at all times with

    scores of these pens, which I had, optimistically, bought in bulk.

    Jason never seemed to have his own, and he had asked to borrow

    one from me weeks ago and then again and again and now this is

    what I had become to him: a purveyor of pens. t the desk beside

    him, a blond creature his blond creature named ourtney

    twirled her artfully hot-rollered, bodacious curls. his is what

    boys like him were conditioned to expect. his wasnt me, and

    I couldnt imagine it ever would be, regardless of what magical

    metamorphosis one was expected to undergo during high school.

    I was a work in progress, but I had no reason to believe the n-

    ished product would ever be quite like that.

    I had stopped paying the least bit of attention to Harriss lec-

    ture when she called, Ms. erra? Haven. Did you hear me?

    o be honest, no. Scrambling, I shufed through the shards

    I had caught of her lecture, searching for the most likely line of

    questioning and then shooting out an answer that ought to t.

    m, Dorian and Lord Henry believe in following the senses,pursuing whatever pleases them, uh, no matter the consequenc-

    es, and, um, not worrying about right and wrong? I proposed,

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    swea dampening my emples. Jason angled his head back jus a

    ouch in my direcion. I fel oher eyes on me oo.

    thank you, has lovely. She was holding a slip of paper she

    had jus aken from a senior girl, bored, chewing gum, who now

    lef he room. Bu your presence is requesed in he principals


    weak chorus of ooooh broke ou as I gahered my books

    and boulder of a backpack. s I squeezed hrough he aisle, pass-

    ing Jasons desk, he looked up for only a momen, expressionless

    and sill chewing on my pen.In my wo and a half years of high school, I had ye o se

    foo inside Principal tollmans ofce Im jus no ha kind of

    girl. So I couldn imagine wha his could be abou. n he walk

    here, fooseps echoing on he linoleum, faded voices mufing

    ou from passing classrooms, I ried o hink wha i could be:

    Was i Joan? Was somehing wrong wih her? this is how i is wih

    me, always expecing he wors.

    Bu in our case, his sor of overreacion was jusied.

    this is jus wha happens when you are discovered, as I was,

    a roughly age ve, in a muddy dich somewhere off Lake Shore

    Drive in he dead of winer. lile Jane Doe, barely breahing,

    no memories of anyhing ha came before ha nigh, no one o

    ever come looking for you. nd you ge raised by he kind nurse

    who evenually akes you in, names you, feeds you, clohes you.

    fer a hing like ha, worry becomes more han a reex; i be-

    comes an umbrella shading daily life, hovering closer every ime

    someone ges home lae or doesn call when hey say hey will.

    Ms. terra, have a sea, Principal tollman said over he op

    of he rimless reading glasses perched on her nose when she sawme sanding in he doorway of her ofce. She squared up in her

    chair. So i looks like congraulaions are in order. I fel my

  • 7/28/2019 Illuminate Excerpt



    eyes involuntarily bulge. Weve just been notied that you and

    two of your fellow eleventh-graders have been accepted into the

    Department of Educations Vocational Illinois Leaders intern-

    ship program.

    It took me half a second too long to process.

    h, wow. hats great, thanks, I said, more reserved than

    she probably expected, but I was preoccupied. In my mind I was

    sorting and sifting through everything Id applied for in the past

    year. here was just so much. nything that could earn me extra

    cash for college or would sound good enough to help me clinch ascholarship to one of my dream schools. Internships, fellowships,

    essay contests my mailbox ooded with the constant stream of

    applications and deadlines and hopes. nd yet, somehow, this

    didnt even ring a bell.

    he principal took off her glasses and stared at me with a faint

    smile, a director waiting for the reaction shot she wanted. his

    sounds fantastic, I said. I really am honored. But forgive me,

    I cant seem to recall actually applying for this. nervous grin

    propped up the corners of my mouth.

    She laughed, a small, charmed chuckle. Yes, well, thats be-

    cause you didnt. hats the beauty of this particular internship.

    hey just pluck the best and the brightest and place those stu-

    dents with a thriving Illinois enterprise for the semester. Its a

    new pilot program the state is trying out. You will each be paired

    up with someone at this business who will act as a sort of advanced

    independent-study tutor and a mentor. nd Glasses back on,

    she read from a paper. It appears youre going to be placed at

    the Lexington Hotel in hicago. Why, thats really remarkable,

    you know. heyre about to reopen, and the woman who ownsit has become the toast of hicagos business world practically

    overnight. You may have seen her in the Tribune and on the news.

  • 7/28/2019 Illuminate Excerpt



    his is a tremendous privilege. It says here that room and board

    are provided, and theres a considerable stipend in exchange for

    good old-fashioned hard work.

    Her words rushed at me too fast to make sense of. So I would

    be living at this place? Living at a hotel? Working full-time? No

    actual classes? onsiderable stipend? It was a lot to wrap my

    head around. Do things like this just fall from the sky? Perhaps

    the near-perfect grades I worked so hard for, the afterschool job

    I had held for pretty much a decade, the Saturday nights spent at

    home studying, were nally paying off in something that couldgive me a shot at the pricey and prestigious schools on my college

    wish list.

    I know weve started our semester the timing is a bit odd;

    I suppose the state board is still ironing out the kinks however,

    well make it work since this is a rare opportunity. She said this

    with a hands-clasped, tilted-head gravity that suggested she would

    like some gratitude and gushing in return.

    hank you, Ms. ollman. I appreciate it. his is really great.

    My mind was already ve steps ahead, wondering what Joan would

    say. Would she even let me go? What would I bring? How would I tell them at the