Published in Germany as Wenn es dich gibt
“Fun, flirty fantasy from the gifted pen of Victoria Connelly. A magical story with a gorgeous setting and more than enough handsome men to go around!” – Carole Matthews
“Victoria writes with a deliciously light touch and joyous enthusiasm, making Elena’s story tremendous fun to read.” – Fiona Walker
Following your heart’s desire is much easier when you’re invisible …
Elena Montella has a few problems. Their names are Reuben, Mark and Prof and she’s engaged to all three of them.
In her turmoil, she flees to her sister’s in Venice. What she doesn’t expect is that each of her fiancés will follow her there. And she certainly doesn’t expect to be given a magical mask which gives her the power of invisibility and the rare opportunity to spy on her fiancés and find out who, if any, is the right one for her.
But is her invisibility just masking the real fears she harbours from her past?
Gleaming gold in the dim light of the bedroom, the mask stared at her, empty-eyed, from the dressing table. Elena thought it looked really at home there, gazing blindly out at the room.
She picked it up and, just like the night before in the calle, her hands seemed to glow with gold. She pulled her fingers along the smooth, cool black ribbons and toyed with the idea of putting it on. If only, she thought, I could wear the mask – hiding behind it so that nobody could see me. She smiled to herself. She was turning into a child again – running away from her fears and responsibilities. Yet, that was what she wished to do more than anything else in the world at that moment.
Elena held the mask up and smiled at it. ‘I wish you could make me invisible,’ she whispered, as if to a trusted friend.
The hollowed out eyes seemed to speak to her. Put me on, they dared. Make me yours. I will not disappoint you. Put me on. You know you want to.
And she did. She really did! Her heart was racing like a child’s at a fairground. She felt a flow of excitement travelling round her body and couldn’t stop herself from grinning widely.
Peeping round the door to double-check that there was nobody in the flat, she slipped the mask over her face and tied the black ribbons behind her head. She’d expected it to feel cold but it was pleasantly warm against her skin and fitted snugly round her eyes and over her nose. She was just about to take a look in the mirror when she suddenly felt nauseous. Her skin was burning up and her vision was beginning to blur and she had the startling sensation of pins and needles in her eyeballs. Something very strange was happening. She felt peculiar – as if she were dissolving. Her mouth felt dry and her heart was hammering loudly.
‘Rosanna?’ Elena called out in a hoarse whisper. She felt helpless and vulnerable and sincerely hoped that her sister might have returned home early from her afternoon visit. But there was no reply. Elena was quite alone.
She didn’t think things could get any weirder so, when the jolt came, she cried out loud. Her body felt as if it had been electrocuted and she was so shocked that, after the initial scream, she found she couldn’t speak at all.
What was happening to her? Her hands flew up to behind her head to try and rid herself of the mask but she couldn’t feel her hands at all. Her mind must be playing tricks on her, she reasoned, or she must surely be asleep and having some sort of weird nightmare.
Wake up! Wake up! She told herself and then she heard a thud – she’d landed on the floor. Had she fainted? She still felt dizzy but not enough to faint, surely? Her eyes closed and she groaned as she slowly felt the tingling sensation leave her body.
And then – bliss! She felt unusually warm and relaxed, like those blissfully gentle moments before sinking into sleep. She could feel her heart rate slowly returning to something approaching normality. Letting out a deep breath, she opened her eyes.
Nothing. Elena panicked, shut them and opened them again, her vision flooding with the bedroom. For a few seconds, she just sat there, listening to herself breathing. Everything was okay. She’d just had some sort of funny turn, she assured herself. Maybe she was overdoing things and this was her body’s way of telling her that she needed to slow down. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Something, she thought, was missing …
She was missing!
‘WHAT THE HELL?’
Well, at least her voice was still working, and she could still see. So what was going on? She tried to pinch herself with her unseen arms. ‘Ouch!’ She was still there, then, and not asleep. But maybe it would have been better if she was asleep, she thought. At least she could explain things then. But she was very much awake – awake and – invisible!
That was it! She was invisible!
She shook her non-existent head. Surely that wasn’t possible? Surely the notion of invisibility only lived in fiction? Yet, here she was, standing in the middle of Sandro’s apartment with nothing to show but her confusion!
This wasn’t a trick, and it wasn’t very likely that this was her body’s response to stress, was it? It was the mask.
Her hands flew up to the ribbons tied around her head. She could still feel them and, loosening the little knot she’d made, she felt the mask slipping away from her face. She waited. Slowly, very slowly, the tingling sensation returned and she saw her body floating back into existence, appearing like a hazy mirage before settling into its usual solid self.
Oh my God! Mio dio!
She looked at the golden mask in her hands, her eyes wide with wonder. What had she got hold of here? She was holding a little piece of magic – a miracle – something that wasn’t meant to exist.
Elena turned it round, expecting to see some sort of explanation or warning: a sticker, maybe, saying something like: wearing this mask can seriously injure your appearance, but there was nothing.
She took a deep breath. Even though she’d experienced the most horrendous reaction when she’d put the mask on she wanted, more than anything, to try it on again – just to check – just to make sure she hadn’t imagined it all. Placing it against her face, she carefully tied the black ribbons behind her head once more and waited.