On the run from the Iniquitous, Mara feels lost and helpless. Without Theo by her side, she’s left bare and vulnerable, but she’s a fighter and, with blood boiling in her veins, she vows to avenge him.
The Iniquitous have already taken so much from her, and she refuses to sit back and let them take anything else. She trains harder, preparing herself physically and mentally to take them on. As her magic grows stronger, so does the voice speaking to her from beyond the grave.
She wants to believe it’s real, to give in to what feels right, but if she does, her mind might be lost forever.
Hi. I’m Micalea. Ma-call-e-uh. Weird name, I know. My mom must’ve known I was going to be odd even in the womb. I’ve written a lot of books. Like a lot. Don’t ask me how many, I don’t remember at this point. I have an unhealthy addiction to Diet Coke but I can’t seem to break the habit. I listen to way too much music and hedgehogs have taken over my life. Crazy is the word that best sums up my life, but it’s the good kind of crazy and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Inimical Genevieve Iseult Eldredge (Circuit Fae, #3) Published by: Monster House Books Publication date: September 18, 2018 Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Being a fairy princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you have to choose between saving your people…And killing your girlfriend. Oh, and let’s not forget having to pass summer school, too.
Talk about a hot mess.
First, there’s Rouen, princess of the dark Fae, goth-rock star Euphoria, and soon-to-be senior at Richmond Elite High. Her world is all things ice, snow, and death. And that death will include her own people unless she can defeat her evil father in a Battle of Wits and War and seize the throne. Trouble is, taking the throne is a death sentence for the princess of the fair Fae. In other words, a quick death for Syl, Rouen’s girlfriend.
And that’s so not good.
Second, there’s Syl, princess of the fair Fae, geek girl mathlete, and also an incoming senior. Things aren’t any easier for her. Syl must save her people by battling her old nemesis, the fair Fae prince, and the same rules apply: taking the throne means a death sentence for the other court’s princess, Rouen.
Even worse, Syl and Rouen’s enemies have figured out they’re a couple. Now, both Rouen’s father and Syl’s archenemy are teaming up to ensure neither of them makes it till Midsummer’s Day never mind to the fall semester.
Looks like passing summer school is the least of their worries.
Raised by witches and dragons in the northern wilds, GIE writes angsty urban fantasy YA romance–where girls who are mortal enemies kick butt, take names, and fall in love against all odds.
She enjoys long hikes in the woods (where better to find the fair folk?), believing in fairies (in fact, she’s clapping right now), dancing with dark elves (always wear your best shoes), being a self-rescuing princess (hello, black belt!), and writing diverse books about teenage girls finding love, romance, and their own inner power.
She might be planning high tea at the Fae Court right now.
GIE is multi-published, and in her role as an editor has helped hundreds of authors make their dream of being published a reality.
Touch Camille Picott (Sulan, Episode 4) Publication date: February 1, 2018 Genres: Cyberpunk, Dystopian, Young Adult
From a young age, Gun has trained in the way of Anderson Arms. He learns to manipulate, steal, blackmail, and kill—whatever it takes to accomplish the mission set by his father. But Gun despises the work he does and the wreckage it leaves behind.
His newest assignment is to befriend a Virtual High student and infiltrate Global Arms. His target is Sulan Hom, the daughter of a renowned Global scientist. Gun approaches the mission with detached coldness, the same method he uses for every assignment.
But it isn’t long before he finds a budding friendship with Sulan. The more time he spends with her, the more he begins to care for her. Soon, Gun avows that Sulan will not become one more mission casualty.
The more he delves into Global Arms, the more Gun realizes the true danger that awaits Sulan. Determined to keep her safe, Gun works behind the scenes to protect her. Will it be enough to keep Sulan safe? And will he ever be able to win her trust after deceiving her?
Camille Picott is a fifth-generation Chinese American. She writes science fiction and fantasy books with Asian characters and/or Asian settings. Camille grew up reading speculative fiction stories largely devoid of Asian characters and culture. This, coupled with a passion for her heritage, is the reason she strives to bring some aspect of Eastern myth, legend, culture, and ethnicity to all of her writings.
They told me I had to leave her.They were right.It doesn’t matter that she’s the first thing I think about every morning, and my last thought before I sleep.It doesn’t matter that the moment my heart started beating was when I laid it at her feet.As long as she’s around me, she’s in danger. I have to keep her away, keep her safe, before this storm overtakes us.The truth is something she cannot know, should never know. Even if that means I’ll never see her again.
Fueled by coffee and rainy days, shelves of books consuming her home in the Pacific Northwest, and a vivid imagination, Fiona writes about love because she believes the world needs more of it. She could spend eternity lost in a story, taken into someone’s thoughts while she is left lingering there long after the pages have turned. Fiona works to meld themes in the current world and spin them into stories of longing, determination, and hope. Her characters are relatable and relevant, as they battle their own fictional version of existence.
Fifteen years have passed since a Fire Scale scorched Cayda’s village. Fifteen years of beatings, of bare kitchen cupboards and sloppy swordplay. Fifteen years of biting her lip for her father’s cane while her younger sisters did the same for the grimy patrons of the village brothels. Fifteen years of staring steadfastly after beauty in an increasingly ugly world.
Now, with hair shorn and breast bound, Cayda marches into the Summer Alps as Cody, a hopeful Champion seeking a dragon-slayer’s reward, with the full weight of her family’s survival on her shoulders.
But the road between poverty and prosperity is rife with beasts, betrayals, and baser temptations. Sensible Cayda soon discovers that she is not the only Champion with her eye on the prize, or the only one wearing a disguise.
With monsters, gods, and royalty hot on her heels, Cayda must ask herself if victory is worth sacrificing her identity for – or her life.
A Wild and Unremarkable Thing pits girl against dragon in a stunning blend of Greek mythology and medieval lore. Readers will not quickly forget the diverse cast or the thrilling, sexy ride!
In the ancient, mystical past when an idyllic Atlantis-like civilization flourished, its people with exceptional powers could build giant stone structures like the Pyramids, and transform elements such as sand to stone and metal to gold with concentrated energy of the mind.
This utopian Atlan Empire is rocked when one of its most preeminent Masters rebels and seeks to subvert the ideals of Atlan society. Roaming the countryside in a black robe, misusing his powers on innocent people, he becomes known as the dreaded Dark Master.
On a distant and isolated island on the fringes of the Atlan Empire, a young girl named Rhuna comes of age when she meets a man from Atlán and learns that her father was an Atlan Master who was killed in his attempt to destroy the Dark Master.
Journeying across oceans and ancient worlds, Rhuna learns to master her inherent mental powers, transforming elements and summoning visions by means of the Gazing of the Waters. Unlike her peers, however, Rhuna discovers she has an extra power, namely the ability to summon visions mentally, without incantations or powders.
When the Dark Master’s activities become a threat to the peaceful Atlan Empire, the Atlan Masters come to realize that they cannot defeat him without Rhuna’s special visionary powers to observe the Dark Master’s activity and whereabouts.
The first book in this extraordinary Urban Fantasy series lays the foundations of the Atlan Empire and Rhuna’s world, and even when the Dark Master appears to have been defeated, secret and sinister powers continue to threaten the ancient Utopia.
This exciting second book in the Rhuna YA Urban Fantasy Series can also be read as a standalone novel.
Some years have passed since Rhuna helped to defeat the Dark Master in her new home of Atlán, and now Rhuna has a teenage daughter who accompanies her on an assignment in Ancient Egypt to investigate some disturbing reports.
She soon discovers an astonishing underground network of the Dark Master’s followers, along with the secret group of Atlans dedicated to stopping them. In the process of trying to carry out her assignment, Rhuna is confronted with enormous challenges that could drastically change her entire life and everything she has ever believed in!
This thrilling sequel to Rhuna: Crossroads is set in mystical Ancient Egypt where Black Magic was developed by the followers of the legendary villain, The Dark Master. As strange and frightening curses plague the population, Rhuna discovers the underground organization that performs this uncanny new magic, but she can only combat it with the help of her long-lost father. Having learned from her father amazing new skills to empower her on the Astral Plane, Rhuna once again strives to preserve peace and harmony in the idyllic Atlan civilization.
Far more challenging than fighting powerful Dark Forces, however, is Rhuna’s personal anguish when her daughter becomes involved with the leader of the Black Magic movement, and the once-perfect Atlan society based on utopian principles begins to crumble all around her. Shocking events escalate Rhuna’s world to a breathless climax as she and her family undergo a momentous upheaval, and she is forced to make great personal sacrifices for her loved ones.
The fourth book in the series, Rhuna: New Horizons can also be read as a standalone novel.
After sacrificing a life of comfort and security for her daughter’s sake, Rhuna and her family go into exile and start a new life in the former Atlan colony of Varappa. This faraway land is a frontier of new technology such as air travel, loops in time and a society apparently flourishing without a governing body of any kind.
On the surface, everyone appears to thrive in this liberated society, but this kind of free thinking is fertile ground for the Dark Master and his followers. Just when Rhuna and her family settle into their beautiful new lakeside home, strange things begin to happen. Powerful conjurers cause upheaval with their sinister magic, driving people from their homes.
An isolated society claiming to adhere to the ways of the First Atlans, appear to be fighting a losing battle against these followers of the Dark Master. While attempting to find a diplomatic solution to the escalating conflict, Rhuna faces great challenges in her personal life. Aradin’s love for her has cooled off inexplicably, and Lozira’s emotional wellbeing teeters on a precarious threshold. In desperation, Rhuna combines her magical powers and Varappan technology to do the unthinkable. What she does, however, is forbidden, and brings about a rift between her and her own father. Rhuna may have headed down a path from which there is no turning back…
Barbara Underwood was born and raised in Sydney, Australia; the only child of German migrants who provided a rich and diverse childhood environment. Already in third grade she wrote a short children’s book for a class project and realized that she was deeply satisfied with creating stories. In sixth grade, for another class project, her teacher was so impressed by the lengthy story she submitted, that he commented at the end “I see we are going to have another author.”
Over the years Barbara kept writing one thing or another, but only as a hobby while she pursued other interests and goals. In the 1990s, she completed a correspondence course in professional writing, doing it in her spare time after work. This led to having a few short stories published, but what she really wanted to do was write a proper novel.
At this time, Barbara had travelled extensively and gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in subjects that held special appeal for her, namely ancient history, myths and legends (such as Atlantis, the builders of megaliths around the world), folklore (the belief that a god-like race gave mankind its technology), human psychology and the culture of other countries. What better subject for her first novel than to combine all these elements into one big adventure!
Kate Archer is instantly drawn to Nick. He’s handsome, smart, and interested in her – perhaps a little too interested according to Kate’s brother. It’s a good thing Nick is interested, or Kate would have died the night of the football game. Nick may have rescued Kate, but he can’t stop the inevitable. Kate is changing; she just doesn’t know it. She can’t explain the visions and sensations affecting her body, but she can enjoy the pleasure of Nick’s kiss – that is, until she learns the real reason he is with her. Betrayed by her genetics, Kate begins a metamorphosis that forces her to confront an unseen reality and claim her true destiny.
About the Author
Story time always captivated Karen. As a child, she fell in love with books that transported her to different worlds and introduced her to new creatures. As a teacher, she encouraged her students to explore different times and new worlds through literature. Now, when Karen isn’t living in reality with her husband and daughters, she can be found creating an alternate reality filled with creatures and worlds that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers.
Madeleine L’Engle meets Stranger Things in this debut YA-friendly fantasy adventure about how the unexpected can move in next door
Freddy wants desperately to not be noticed. She doesn’t want to be seen as different or unusual, but her step-brother Roland gets attention because he’s deaf, and her little sister Mel thinks she’s a private detective. All Freddy wants to do is navigate high school with as little trouble as possible.
Then someone moves into the house on Grosvenor Street. Two extremely odd someones.
Cuerva Lachance and Josiah aren’t . . . normal. When they move in next door, the house begins to exhibit some decidedly strange tendencies, like not obeying the laws of physics or reality. Just as Freddy thinks she’s had enough of Josiah following her around, she’s plunged into an adventure millennia in the making and discovers the truth about the new neighbors.
“I adored this brilliant book from start to finish. It left me reeling with delight and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to get as lost in its pages as I was.” —Charles de Lint
“I’d have loved this book when I was twelve, and I love it now.” —Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy-Award winning author Jo Walton
At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
This was such a wonderfully woven story of imagination, youth, growth and mystery. The last time I read a young adult novel this well told was from Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. And I have to admit this story did remind me a great deal of one of my favorite Netflix shows, Stranger Things. In fact, I immediately began thinking of the show as I read this book.
Poor Freddy was in a dilemma of sorts. She’s growing up with all the pains that come along with it. Having a deaf brother who gets on her nerve and a bratty younger sister, was there any wonder Freddy found herself in a rut? Getting through high school was trouble enough, but Freddy couldn’t possibly have experienced trouble much like the kind she encountered by the two strangers who crashed into her neighborhood by total accident. Or was it an accident? One minute you’re fighting with your siblings and the next minute you hear what sounds like an explosion and when you go to investigate you find a truck smashed against a tree and two strange individuals arguing like they didn’t just end up in a car accident. Who the hell were these people and what on earth were they doing on Grosvenor Street?
Roland, Freddy’s brother, warned Freddy that their new strange neighbors were dangerous and to stay away, but why on earth would Freddy listen to what her brother had to say, right? Cuerva Lachance and Josiah weren’t exactly what we would call normal neighbors. In fact, they appeared, pardon the pun, to be a little out of this world. Hmm? Freddy ended up being schoolmates with Josiah, the young teen with a sharp tongue and quick-witted mind whom she absolutely abhorred more than her siblings and classmates. Josiah was able to say things and get her to say things that she wouldn’t normally think to say. In fact, every time Josiah was around, she managed to find herself in a heap of trouble. What was it about this young teen that caused so many problems for her, but managed to intrigue her at the same time? How is it Josiah knew things before she knew them and could make gravity do things that weren’t relatively possible?
Well, readers, you’ll have to read the story to find the answers to those questions. Maaren did a really great job weaving these characters into such a fantasy. I enjoyed their journey and investment in their lives to find out more about them. What a cute story. With all the serious reading that I do, it’s always fun to read something that goes outside the scope of what you’d normally read.
Mello & June gives Weave A Circle Round, four out of this world stars. Weave A Circle Round would make for a great film. This novel would make a perfect gift for yourself or that young adult in your life. There’s seven more days left to make your reading challenges, Intellectual Minds. Let’s make 2017 go out with a huge bang by finishing what we started at the beginning of the year. We have another year to do this all over again. We can do it! I have faith in you. Until next time, keep on reading!
HeartBREAKER Lila Felix (AnguiSH, #2) Published by: Clean Teen Publishing Publication date: December 18, 2017 Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Breaker James is no longer the boy locked in a prison of his own making. He’s not afraid to leave his house, and he doesn’t need Ash twenty-four hours a day, just to function—just to breathe.
Hell, lately it feels like he might not need her much at all anymore.
He’s a heart breaker, pure and simple. Turns out love is easy when you’re secluded from the outside world. Maybe Ash is the one who is afraid now…afraid she’s done her job a little too well. Can she learn how to let Breaker love her, now that he doesn’t need her to be his crutch?
HeartBREAKER is the endearing companion story to Lila Felix’s best-selling AnguiSH novel. Fall in love with Breaker James all over again!
In most instances, I was strong—I could handle anything. But something about Breaker James—well, broke me. I guess that’s the other tough thing about love—it exposes your weaknesses and shines a spotlight on them. Apparently one of my weaknesses was feeling like Breaker didn’t need me anymore. That his need for me in his life had come and gone. Expired. Fizzled to nothing.
Breaker was breaking me again. God, it felt beautiful to be broken.
Lila Felix is full of antics and stories. She refused to go to Kindergarten after the teacher made her take a nap on the first day of school. She staged her first protest in middle school. She almost flunked out of her first semester at Pepperdine University because she was enthralled with their library and frequently was locked in. Now her husband and three children have to put up with her rebel nature in Louisiana where her days are filled with cypress trees, crawfish, and of course her books and writing. She writes about the ordinary people who fall extraordinarily in wild, true love.
Superhero High T.H. Hernandez Publication date: TBA Genres: Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Annarenee Stevens is the sole member of her family without a super power. The only time she feels powerful is in the pool. With her sights set on swimming for U.C. Berkeley, she’s ready to win it all at the State championship and secure her future.
When the government unexpectedly ends the secret Genetically Enhanced Asset (GEA) program, Annarenee is uprooted from Dayton, the only home she’s ever known, and relocated to San Diego with all of the other GEA families. Queen of her public school, Annarenee is just another zero at Superhero High, a school without any sports teams.
With the end of the program, her hero older brother now needs a college education, too, meaning the only way Annarenee is getting into Berkeley is on a scholarship. Her dream is slipping through her fingers, no matter how tightly she clings to it. To make matters worse, super hot superhero, Ren Gonzalez, is paying too much attention to her. The kind of attention that has Ren’s ex-girlfriend intent on making Annarenee’s life even more miserable.
But when heroes begin disappearing, zeros and heroes will be forced to team up in order to solve the mystery. If they don’t kill each other first.
T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.
She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.
When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”
From a distance, I could’ve sworn I saw the ghost of Marilyn Monroe.
There was a beautiful woman standing next to Marco in the parking lot of the 50’s hamburger palace. They were leaning up against the side of his vintage car, waiting and doused in the shadows of slow pulsing neon lights. His arm was draped around her shoulders. It appeared she was propping him up. She laughed when she steadied him and the sound was sweet and melodic. She was a platinum blonde, dressed in a black pencil skirt and a low-cut white angora sweater. There was a red chiffon scarf tied around her neck. She exuded power in her black stiletto heels. She was a movie star in the making, a glamorous goddess just waiting for someone to discover her and catapult her to fame. If anyone had been born for a life on the silver screen, it was her.
She pried herself away from Marco and stepped in my direction. “You must be Johnny,” she said. I nodded in reply, mesmerized by the seductive green color of her eyes and the tenderness of her voice. She leaned in, kissed my cheek, and then spent the next few seconds trying to wipe her lipstick off my skin. Her touch was soft and comforting.
“Are you Marilyn Monroe?” I asked. My words fell into her cleavage.
“You’re close,” she said. “I’m Mary.”
“Yes,” I said. “Marco mentioned you.”
“He’s like a brother to me,” she whispered. “Be gentle with his heart.”
Marco moved to us, wrapping an arm around us, connecting and cementing us as a trio. “I’m a lucky guy,” he said. “I get to spend the night with my two favorite people.”
“Marco doesn’t have many favorites,” Mary explained. She was clearly his interpreter. “So, I guess that makes us the lucky ones.”
Marco gently guided us in the direction of his parked car. “I wish we could go to Vegas,” he announced.
“Why don’t we?” I challenged.
He shook his head. “We wouldn’t make it there until dawn.”
“Dawn’s a lovely time to arrive in Vegas,” Mary said. “You can sleep all day and then be ready for the night.”
“Are we vampires?” I asked, with a small laugh.
“In another life, yes,” explained Mary. “In this one…”
Marco glanced up to the dark, starlit sky and said, “We’re the ones everybody else wants to be.”
Mary shook a finger at him, reprimanding. “Careful, Marco,” she said. “You almost sound smug.”
“Do you think they know?” he asked. “About how much we’ve been through?”
They looked into each other’s eyes when Mary spoke. “If they did,” she said, “they wouldn’t care. But our sorrow would ruin the façade.”
“Façade,” he repeated. “I like that word.”
Mary insisted on sitting in the backseat, but not before pulling me aside. “You belong up front now,” she explained, in a hushed tone. “Next to Marco. He needs you by his side.”
“But you were here first,” I reminded her.
“I appreciate your chivalry,” she said. “But you’re new.”
I slid across the bucket seat and into the shelter of Marco’s arms. He pulled me closer to him. “There,” he said. “That’s better.”
About the Author:
David-Matthew Barnes is the award-winning author of several novels and collections of stage plays and poetry. His acclaimed screenplays have earned many accolades including a 2017 Los Angeles Film Award. David-Matthew has written over fifty stage plays that have been performed in three languages in ten countries. His literary work has appeared in over one hundred publications. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He has been an educator for more than a decade.
Ice Kingdom Tiana Warner (Mermaids of Eriana Kwai, #3) Publication date: December 11, 2017 Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
The final adventure in the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy …
Meela and Lysi have unleashed Sisiutl, legendary two-headed serpent of the Pacific Northwest. It was supposed to be an ally that would help them win the war. Instead, it has fallen under the control of King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. If Meela and Lysi can’t stop him, Adaro will use the deadly serpent to rid the oceans of mankind.
With the American military using catastrophic weapons of their own to retaliate, Meela and Lysi must make peace between humans and merpeople before one race destroys the other. The journey will risk their lives and put their relationship to the test—but the vengeance that has been consuming Meela’s thoughts, day and night, might prove even more dangerous.
The young man aimed his crossbow at the water, ready to fire a bolt of solid iron at the first glimpse of flesh beneath the surface.
“Sir,” he said, “shouldn’t we have seen one by now?”
The captain turned his back to the salty wind, jaw tight. “They know we’re here.”
“So what are they doing?”
He followed the captain’s gaze. Blackness merged with the empty grey horizon in every direction. A long silence passed, filled only by gentle swells lapping against the ship.
The captain drew his own crossbow.
“Forming a plan.”
All twenty men aboard the ship readied their weapons, reacting in a chain until the last man at the stern took steady aim at the waves.
“Make ready your iron, men,” shouted the captain. “We have ripples approaching off the port side.”
A handful of places in the water puckered, as if something lingered just below the surface. The sea was too black to tell.
Then it happened. Fifty, maybe sixty sea demons burst from the water and slammed against the ship. The men wasted no time. They reacted with trained speed and agility as the demons thrust stones and jagged shells into the wood, both to break holes in the ship and to scale the sides. The men picked them off with bolts of iron and watched them fall one by one back into the sea.
But they were outnumbered. Soon the demons were upon the ship, pulling themselves across the deck with bony arms.
The young man had already shot a dozen and the water reddened with each passing second.
Slow scraping sounds threatened him from behind. He whirled around, crossbow ready. Burning eyes met his, and sharp teeth, bared to rip into his flesh. He gripped the trigger, felt the bow tighten—
And the demon was gone. The young man stared into the wide gaze of a girl his own age. With a startled cry, he jerked his aim so the bolt barely missed her.
She held a black shell in her hand, sharp at the edges and ready to use as a club. But she didn’t raise it. She just looked at him.
He lowered his crossbow.
Her blonde hair fell heavily over her shoulders, dripping beads of water down her naked chest and stomach, pooling where her torso joined her tail.
He blinked, but made no other motion—where her torso joined her tail. Scales faded into flesh like some sort of beautiful, green and tan sunset.
She pulled herself closer.
“Stay back,” said the young man, unsure what prompted him to hesitate.
He looked into her eyes—emeralds surrounded by pearl white—where moments ago they had burned red. Her sharp teeth had retracted behind rosy lips. The seaweed-coloured flesh of her upper body was now olive and raised with goose bumps from the icy wind.
“Hanu aii,” she whispered. Do not fear. She spoke his language.
He loosened his grip on the crossbow, studying her. She lifted a frail arm and pushed the hair from her eyes, then motioned him forwards.
His pulse quickened as he stared at the beautiful girl.
“Hanu aii,” she said again, her voice resonating sweetly, as if she sang without singing.
Suddenly, he was kneeling in front of her, level with her luminous eyes. The sounds around him faded but for the soft purr in the base of her throat.
She reached up and held an icy hand to his cheek, not for a moment breaking eye contact. The hand slid behind his head and pulled his face towards hers, slowly but firmly. He inhaled her sweet breath.
He flinched. He turned to see the captain racing towards them, aiming his crossbow at the maiden.
The young man grasped the scene around him. The ship was empty. A few stray weapons and barrels bobbed serenely in the water. Blood soaked the deck in places, and even the main mast had a splatter across the bottom.
The captain fired wide. Before he could reload and aim again, the sea demon put a hand on the young man’s chin and pulled his gaze back to hers.
Her eyes blazed red. Her skin rippled into the rotten colour of seaweed. Her ears grew pointed and long like sprouting coral. She opened her mouth to reveal a row of deadly teeth.
The young man screamed.
The demon pulled him against her with more strength than three men combined, and they dove headfirst off the side of the ship.
They disappeared into the blood-red water.
Tiana Warner is the best selling author of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy. Her books have been acclaimed by Writer’s Digest, Foreword Reviews, and the Dante Rossetti Awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. Tiana enjoys riding her horse, Bailey, and is an active supporter of animal welfare.
This is my stop during the book blitz for There be Demons by M. K. Theodoratus. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 1 till 14 December. See the tour schedulehere.
There Be Demons By M. K. Theodoratus Genre: Paranormal Suspense Age category: Young Adult Release Date: 26 September 2017
Blurb: Heroes come in all shapes.
The war for Andor has lasted a century. Humans and their allies, the Angeli, fight demons from another plane who need a warmer planet to hatch and raise their young. Trebridge becomes Ground zero when Abraxas, a minion of the demon Prince Vetis, opens a secret portal into the city. The demons’ goal is to build an army to subjugate the city before the humans realize they are under attack.
Standing in the demons’ way are two disparate groups: the humans of Andor and their Angeli allies who command gargoyle warriors.
Leading the four gargoyles guarding Trebridge is Gillen, a proven war hero who uses magic to fight demons. But Gillen is an outcast, mocked for his tuft of hair that normal gargoyles lack. It’s up to him to prove once and for all that he’s worthy of his command, in spite of dissention in his ranks. When Gillen asks the Angeli Commanders for reinforcements to fight the growing demon menace in Trebridge, headquarters send four human teens from the projects.
The leader of the humans is Britt, a 14-year-old half-Hispanic girl who is one of the four magic-possessing Chosen. But Britt was never trained in the art of magic, and like most girls her age, spends her days preoccupied with school and romance. Like Gillen, she must rise above her station in life–if she is to save the ones she loves.
But Gillen and Britt are facing formidable demon foes, Abraxas: a chicken-headed demon who possesses several humans as part of his plan to build the demons’ base in Trebridge and power-hungry Prince Vetis who is his commander. Neither will let the deaths of expendable humans get in their way of the conquest.
In There Be Demons, author M.K. Theodoratus spins a brilliant tale of good versus evil. In this thrilling Young Adult fantasy novel, unlikely heroes rise to challenge a relentless enemy. Join them as they risk everything to save their city.
About the Author: Fantasy has always been part of M. K. Theodoratus’ life, starting when she starting playing with an imaginary friend when she was three. Comics, books, TV, and movies followed throughout her life. A northern California girl, many of her Andor alternative-world stories are firmly rooted there. Today, she lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two lap-cats, and writes when she’s not wasting time on social media.
A Study In Shifters Majanka Verstraete (The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, #1) Publication date: June 26, 2018 Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Marisol Holmes may be the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, but it’s hard to live up to the family name when only one mistake can spell your downfall. After trusting the wrong guy in a case gone totally wrong, Marisol convinces the Conclave, an underground organization of detectives solving supernatural cases, to give her a last chance to prove her worth, and maybe even heal her broken heart
After all, as a half-blood jaguar shifter, Marisol is uniquely qualified to solve this murder—and every scrap of evidence points toward the culprit being a fellow jaguar shifter. But is one of her own people involved, or is this all a ploy to kick Marisol’s mother off the shifter throne?
Then Marisol discovers her best friend, Roan, is missing, and maybe the killer’s next target. The stakes just got higher than political intrigue. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Marisol’s ex-boyfriend-turned-nemesis, Mannix, starts leaving sinister clues for her. Marisol fears this case might be far more personal than she could’ve imagined.
It’s time for Marisol to prove her worth, or her people could fall into chaos while her best friend loses his life.
Author Majanka Verstraete has written more than twenty unique works of fiction. A native of Belgium, Majanka’s novels explore the true nature of monsters: the good, the bad, and just about every species in between. Her young adult books include the acclaimed Mirrorland (YA Dark Fantasy) and Angel of Death (YA Paranormal) series of novels. At MHB, Majanka is currently developing a new YA shifter series with a fresh take on fierce female detectives called THE ADVENTURES OF MARISOL HOLMES.
When she’s not writing, Majanka is probably playing World of Warcraft or catching up with the dozens of TV series she’s addicted to.
The Rising Series Box Set Holly Kelly Published by: Clean Teen Publishing Publication date: December 12, 2017 Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
A magical underwater realm awaits! Own books 1-3 of the Best-Selling Rising series by acclaimed author Holly Kelly.
This value-priced boxed set includes the first three novels in the best-selling Rising series: Rising (with an exclusive bonus scene), Descending, and Avenging. Beautifully packaged with brilliant new cover art, this set is perfect for any fan of Greek Mythology and Mermaid Romance stories. Order the Rising series today and submerge yourself in an underwater world full of passion, romance, intrigue and adventure.
Rising: Contains a newly released scene! In a war between the humans and the inhabitants of the sea—humans will lose. Xanthus Dimitriou—the most lethal Dagonian to rise from the ocean—is on a mission to save mankind from annihilation. There’s just one thing standing in his way: the life of a beautiful young woman…
Descending: When Xanthus cashes in a long-standing favor, Kyros is faced with doing two things he thought he’d never do—protect a mermaid and live on land. Avenging: Two thousand years ago, King Triton witnessed the slaughter and total annihilation of his merchildren. Devastated by the loss, he vowed to never again father a child. Powerful, handsome, and eternally youthful, Triton was no stranger to seduction—yet his resolve was unwavering…until he met Nicole.
He knew what he had to do, what he’d done countless times before. As a trained soldier, he had a sacred duty to protect his people, guard their secret, and uphold the law. This female’s presence here was not only a criminal act, but it also presented an imminent threat. And because of that, his course was clear.
He had to kill her.
His plan lay clearly before him. Blanketed in the shadows, he’d enter her apartment window. Moving silently, he’d strike fast. Before she could cry out for help, he’d have her throat slit wide open. With her blood flowing swiftly, she’d be dead in mere seconds. The fact that she bathed at this time added to the ease of the execution. Clean up would be simple. Before the night ended, it would be as if she’d never existed. The Dagonian threat of exposure would be wiped clean from the human world.
Xanthus stood, his feet rooted in place under her window. Her sweet scent surrounded him as he listened to her pitiful sobs. Then, in that moment, he did the most shameful thing he’d ever done in his life.
No, he didn’t merely hesitate. He halted. Fingering his blade in his holster, he willed his feet to move, but they seemed unwilling to obey. Then his mind latched onto a thought. It was no crime to wait for a more opportune time or a more secluded place to strike. He didn’t need to act rashly. True, finding her here in the human world shocked him, but he needed to be clear-headed and sure when he killed her.
He made his way back to his vehicle and climbed behind the wheel. He leaned his head back against the seat, closed his eyes, and attempted to clear his head.
He’d be back and she would die. She deserved to die. She may have the voice of an angel, but that was a lie. She was a traitor, a threat to their people. No other explanation made sense.
Xanthus looked toward the little female’s apartment building across the street. Could she have found a more dangerous place to live? This Dagonian female probably felt at home with these bottom-feeders.
Probably? Aw Hades. He cursed himself and the doubt in his mind. He doubly cursed that he couldn’t seem to stop himself from caring about her welfare. He’d be killing her himself, after all. The traitor had to die, regardless of his feelings and no matter how appealing she was. Of course, if she died by a human’s hands then he wouldn’t…
He shook his head at his own idiotic thoughts. If a human killed her, then her body would be taken to the morgue, for the humans to see. He couldn’t let that happen. He had to be the one to kill her and carefully dispose of her body. And he would, soon.
Just not tonight.
Holly Kelly is a mom who writes books in her spare time: translation–she hides in the bathroom with her laptop and locks the door while the kids destroy the house and smear peanut butter on the walls. She was born in Utah but moved around a bit, living in Kansas, Texas, and Hawaii where she studied marine biology. She’s now back in Utah–“happy valley”. She’s married to a wonderful husband, James, and they are currently raising 6 rambunctious children. Her interests are reading, writing (or course), martial arts, visual arts, creating Halloween props, and spending time with family.
Alien Minds Christina Bauer (Dimension Drift, #1) Published by: Monster House Books Publication date: November 27, 2018 Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Meimi Archer is living the perfect life. Too bad it isn’t hers.
On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy but terrible accident. My parents stand by my bedside—both are beautiful, wealthy, and super-nice. They tell me that once I leave the hospital, I’ll attend the prestigious ECHO Academy, where I’ll churn out equations for the government along with my mega-smart peers.
So, I’m living the perfect life.
Then why does everything feel all wrong?
My parents, my house and even ECHO Academy…none of it fits. Plus, what’s up with Thorne, my brooding yet yummy classmate who keeps telling me I need to remember my true past, which seems to have included a lot of us kissing? That’s one thing I’d really like to remember, except for the fact that I’m pretty sure Thorne is hiding a ton of nasty secrets of his own, including the fact that he may not be from this world. But considering how my own past seems alien to me, it’s not like I can judge. Plus, Thorne has dimples. That’s a problem.
And worst of all, why does it feel so yucky to work on these calculations for the government? It’s all supposed to be part of ECHO, but my heart tells me that I’m helping something truly terrible come to pass. Thorne seems to think that kissing him again will release my real memories.
Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
Playing Dead Bronson Palmer Publication date: November 7, 2017 Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
In the halls of Andrew Jackson High School, Jenaiya is a nobody. Less than a nobody. She’s practically invisible. An awkward, shy freshman, she very rarely gets any attention at all, unless she’s being harassed by the school’s multitude of bullies. In short, she’s not anyone’s idea of a hero.
But in ‘Age of Z,’ a post-apocalyptic multiplayer zombie game, she’s a gun-wielding, fast-talking GOD. She’s one of the top ten players in the online dystopia, and she doesn’t suffer fools lightly. It’s just the way she plays, and she likes it that way. She can become the person she wishes herself to be in the real world.
However, when the game gets overrun by trolls and n00bs who threaten to destroy the game by turning it into yet another online shooter, Jenaiya cannot sit still and let that happen. The very existence of the game is on the line, as people leave in droves, and she gathers a rag-tag group of players to fight back against this new kind of ‘brainless’ horde. They have wildly different personalities but one goal: rid the game of the real monsters.
Jenaiya will have to outsmart her enemies, outplay the bullies, and return ‘Age of Z’ to its former glory. Otherwise, it’s game over, and she’ll have to confront the real world that awaits her on the other side of the computer screen.
Meet Jenaiya. She’s the tough, flawed, sometimes misguided protagonist of ‘Playing Dead.’ A meek freshman at a particularly rough high school, Jenaiya spends most of the book trying to negotiate all the different areas of her life, from her online identity to her relationship with her family and her sexual identity. She’s not a simple character, and this is not an easy story to tell. It would be easy to make her an empty vessel for the events inside ‘Age of Z,’ but it was my goal to provide the audience with a believable, real character to identify with so each victory and defeat felt that much more credible.
When the novel begins, Jenaiya leads a fairly ordinary but unenviable life in Nashville. She hates school, because the school she attends is a haven for miscreants of all types. It seems as though everyone around her is a villain of some kind, and she is a constant target of their attacks. Her only refuge happens to be her favorite video game, ‘Age of Z,’ where she’s able to unleash her adolescent rage on an unsuspecting public. It provides insight into how Jenaiya feels the world really should run. She values fairness and fair play, loyalty, and integrity.
However, in the real world, beyond the confines of a digital asylum, rather than doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, she also gets caught up in the idea that “the ends justify the means,” which lands her in a whole heap of trouble. When it comes to bullies, especially teenage ones, it’s oh so tempting to fight fire with fire, but that usually ends up making things worse, as it does in ‘Playing Dead.’ Jenaiya wants to level the playing field for everyone, from the jocks to the dreamers and the jokers to the drama queens, but that’s not entirely how the world works, so the fuse she lights early in the novel eventually explodes right in her face.
Her digital world is rocked when her favorite game — really, the only game she plays — is trounced by new players who treat ‘Age of Z’ like your everyday, run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter first-person shooter. To Jenaiya, ‘AoZ’ is so much more than that. It’s a post-apocalyptic game, sure, but the world is built around relationships. See, in ‘Age of Z,’ players wander a vast wasteland in search of supplies. They can be found in buildings, abandoned cars, but the best place, by far, to hit the item jackpot is another player.
Only, players are tough to kill, and it’s much easier to work cooperatively with that person or negotiate peacefully to trade supplies. Think ‘FallOut’ without all the headshots. The game is loosely based on the experiential ‘sandbox’ games which have become popular over the past few years. Games like ‘Minecraft,’ ‘H1Z1,’ and ‘DayZ’ inform the gameplay, so if you’ve played those titles, you understand that the strategy lies not in quick-twitch mouse-and-keyboard murder sessions but in how you interact with the world and the other players.
What Jenaiya understands inherently, the new players do not, and it frustrates her. Being an African-American loner, Jenaiya feels yet another thing she loves get co-opted by society at-large, and rather than allow it to happen, she decides to fight back. She’s willing to befriend all of the different warring factions within ‘Age of Z’ to make that happen, if she has to. But she refuses — absolutely refuses — to give up on this game until she’s dead and gone.
That’s where the portmanteau character MICHONNEN_KNIFE comes in. I make a few sly references to ‘Fight Club’ throughout the book, and though the tone of ‘Playing Dead’ is nowhere near a Palahniuk novel, MICHONNEN_KNIFE is the Tyler Durden to Jenaiya’s normal Jack character. Where Jenaiya is meek and accommodating, MICHONNEN_KNIFE is uncompromising, and Jenaiya basks in every opportunity to live in that digital construction’s skin.
As a bonus, I decided to get a faux-D&D player card designed to show the audience just what MICHONNEN_KNIFE (+1 if you can guess both references embedded in the name) has to offer Jenaiya. Hope you enjoy perusing it, and if you’ve dug this blog post, you can get lots more obscure references throughout the whole of ‘Playing Dead.’
The new girl, the sarcastic asshole, the one who avoids getting attached to anyone.
The golden girl, the rule-abiding rebel, the one who unknowingly raves something more.
When fate brings the two girls together, life seemed to fall into place. Until their future plans are shattered the moment someone leaves drugs inside Max’s school locker.
While Max inevitably loses hope of escaping her new grim reality, Emily struggles to move on without the one she loves most. Especially when she’s the only one determined to find answers. But the closer Emily gets to discovering the truth, the harder it will be to stop her pursuit, even when it leads to dangerous consequences.
“I was hanging out with Max,” I said with a nonchalant shrug.
“Oh,” Jason said with an expected disappointment. Something that would have left me with more guilt if it hadn’t been followed by his next suggestive words. “I just thought we could have got some alone time with my parents out of the house.”
“We’re alone now.”
“Not exactly the alone time I had in mind.”
“Of course not,” I mumbled.
“What were you doing?”
“What,” I said distractedly
“What were you doing with her?”
I stopped drawing ketchup circles with one of my uneaten fries, looking up with annoyance.
“Why does it matter?”
“Just curious what was better than spending time with me.”
“Well, not that I need a reason, but she was helping me with my audition.”
“Audition for what?”
“College,” I said.
“Why would you need to audition?”
“Because I’m not just applying to get into NYU; I’m auditioning to get into the music program.”
“I didn’t know you wanted to go to New York, let alone study music there,” Jason said incredulously.“You don’t know a lot of things about me, apparently,” I said.
“That’s because you spend all your time with your new best friend,” Jason said with a cold tone.
“Max has only been here for a month. You’ve had two years as my boyfriend and…” I sighed, ready to drop the subject before I could even finish my sentence.
“Oh come on, Jason, you complain we never see each other, but in reality, you’re just complaining we aren’t having more sex. You could care less about my company anymore.”
“What do you call this date then,” Jason challenged.
“You mean the one I asked you to take me on?” I shook my head; regretting the fact that I hadn’t taken Max up on her offer to celebrate. “The same date that you have yet to stop talking about yourself so that you could ask me how my day was.”
“I asked where you were today, not five minutes ago.”
“No, you asked me why I wasn’t around to have sex with you in your empty house.”
“Jesus, you never used to be so pissy about our relationship before she came along.”
“I haven’t been happy for a long time, Jason.”
“Well, how convenient that you realize this once she arrived in town,” Jason said through clenched teeth.
“Get your head out of your ass.”
It seemed his lack of knowledge and my lack of disclosure spoke volumes of our true relationship. That, in the end, it always came down to how he didn’t care enough to ask and I didn’t trust him enough to let him in. But I felt ashamed that I had never seemed to notice the discontentment of our relationship until Max had shined a spotlight on it with her arrival.
“Look,” Jason said tapping my left bicep. “There’s your little lesbian bestie now.”
“Why do you have to be so offensive?” I said with a grimace before looking over toward the direction of his stare.
I smiled at Max’s proximity as I watched her walk confidently behind the hostess. I smirked at her outfit change, taking it in with far too much approval. She was wearing black combat boots tucked around a pair of black skinny jeans that drew the eyes immediately down to the curve of her backside. I had no doubt that was on purpose. She had on her favorite leather jacket over a red V-neck t-shirt that was cut low enough to expose the gap between her full-chested cleavage. Her long raven locks stood out beautifully against her alabaster skin and blood red lips. It was a rarely used pop of color, revealing the true boldness of her personality that I had always envied. She was a Venus flytrap, ready to lure in her prey. My lips parted while my hand hovered above the table, ready to call her attention. At least that was until my gaze shifted down to notice the linked hands that connected Max and the red headed ballerina she was pulling behind her. My shoulders dropped, and I began to chew the inside of my lip, unable to look away as she moved her hand to the girl’s lower back before turning to offer her the inside of the booth. Despite the fact that Jason and I sat in an identical manner, I found her arrangement with the redhead unnecessarily close.
“Looks like she’s got herself a little playmate tonight,” Jason said with juvenile lust in his voice.
As if feeling my eyes from across the room, Max finally turned to reveal a small grin. But my lips merely stretched into a straight line of polite discontent before my eyes shifted over to her date.
“Could her dress be any shorter?” I mumbled as I looked back down to my plate of fries.
By Jason’s chuckle, I could tell my voice wasn’t quite as low as I intended. I looked over to find his narrowed stare that soon leaped over to study Max as she began to shed her jacket.
“Why do you care?”
I squinted back up with confusion. “I’m just making an observation. I mean, who wears a dress like that on a date?”
“I don’t think she minds,” Jason said.
My nostrils flared as I turned back in time to see Max’s attention on the redhead, who was playfully tracing circles down one of Max’s arms with her finger.
“I bet it would be hot to watch those two together.”
“You’re a pig,” I said with a disgusted curl of my lips.
While my annoyance was directed at Jason my eyes refused to look away from the way Max gently swiped the back of her hand against the redhead’s cheek. I bit the inside of my bottom lip as she whispered something into the girl’s ear, causing her to giggle. I felt my stomach clench and hands curl into fists, resisting my desire to stride over to their shared booth and pull the girl out by her hair. “It’s just a shame, though. All that hotness wasted.”
“I’m sorry,” I said looking away from Max’s table, raising my brow with an irritated grimace. I gestured with my chin back toward the two girls across the restaurant. “Had you planned on going after Max if she wasn’t gay?”
“Of course not,” Jason said shaking his head. “I’m just making an observation.” I rolled my eyes at the way he threw my words back at me.
“You’re an asshole.”
As soon as the word left my mouth, I felt the way my lips parted in amusement. When my eyes met Jason’s again, he winked, having thought I had enjoyed the irritating banter. I shook my head at his ignorance as I looked back to Max’s table, only to feel the hard pull of my stomach as I watched her drape her arm around the redhead’s shoulders. My muscles tightened as Max gently cupped the girl’s face before leaning in to kiss her lips with an eager need that was given back equally. I looked away so quickly I was afraid I would feel it tomorrow when I woke. My mouth felt dry, and my body had a deep need to escape. I stood abruptly, looking over to see the confusion within Jason’s eyes.
“I need to go to the bathroom,” I said before quickly stomping off without any further explanation. I pushed the door open more forcefully than needed, shaking my head in confused disbelief while heading toward the sink. I leaned my hands on each side of the porcelain, closing my eyes as I forcefully slowed my breathing, hoping it would help unscramble my thoughts. I was only given a few seconds of solitude before I heard the door behind me swing open. I waited patiently, despite my irritation, for them to enter one of the empty stalls. When the expected sound didn’t come, I opened my eyes to sneak a peek at the interrupting stranger in the reflection of the mirror. What I found brought both a resisted grin and unexplained anger in my gut. Max was leaning against the wall with her arms crossed, studying me.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” I said avoiding her gaze by looking down toward the faucet.
“You don’t look fine,” Max said.
“Well, I am.”
I sighed softly, unsure if it was the loose grip on my arm or the soft concern of her voice that affected me. I turned around but pulled my head back slightly to the unexpected closeness that left our bodies with hardly any gap, letting me easily inhale her perfume. My hands moved back to firmly grab the sink behind me as I looked into her knowing eyes.
“Nothing,” I said with a small shrug.
“I can tell when you’re lying.”
If only she could tell other things, I thought nervously. Like how she unknowingly held my attention. I had never denied how gorgeous she was and yet suddenly I had never been so aware. My focus shifted equally between her full, shapely lips and piercing emerald green eyes. The familiar desire I held hours before in my room was pulsing beneath my skin. And with it came the need to escape the uncertainty of what it meant.
“You should tell your date she forgot the bottom half of her dress.”
Max tilted her head mischievously. “What makes you think I’d deny myself the view of what that dress lets me see?”
“Well, then. I don’t want to keep you,” I said in a dismissive tone.
“I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong.”
Max moved her eyes around my face, studying every minor twitch as if it would help her gain access to my thoughts. Needing a break from the vulnerability of her stare I looked over toward the stalls.
“I’m just tired.”
My eyes bounced over to notice Max watching me silently without protest, despite her unconvinced stare. But before either of us could open our mouths, the door of the bathroom swung open. I hadn’t failed to notice the way Max stepped back to a safe distance as we caught sight of her date walking in to unknowingly join us.
“I was beginning to wonder if you got lost,” the redhead said before noticing my presence.
Her searching gaze quickly turned into a glare of jealousy. “Or maybe you just got distracted.” “Sorry, babe,” Max said while stepping closer to the redhead. “I bumped into Ems here in the bathroom. She’s on a date, too.” Max gestured over to me with her thumb.
I internally cringed at the term she had given the redhead, hoping my annoyance remained unreadable.
“Ems?” The redhead surveyed me with her eyes before her thoughts become interrupted by a sudden realization. “Oh wait, you mean Emily, your blonde, straight, best friend?”
“Normal people just call me Emily,” I said, annoyed. “No need to add the titles.”
Max shook her as she looked at me with a raised eyebrow. Any previous hope of remaining neutral was shattered with my snarky words. “Yep, this is her. Although, she’s not usually this cranky.”
“Sorry,” I said looking at the redhead. “It’s just been a long day, I guess.”
The girl merely shrugged. “Nobody’s perfect all the time.”
“Right,” I said looking at Max before feeling that thawing need to run away. “Well…I should be getting back to my boyfriend.” I moved around Max, looking over at the redhead as I walked toward the door. “Nice meeting you—”
“Jessica,” the girl said with a smile.
I nodded before pulling open the door and walking out of the bathroom, not stopping until I found my seat again next to Jason. Before he could open his mouth to ask anything I turned, grabbing his face and to kiss him. As I released my lips from his, I carried a smile that didn’t quite reach my eyes. Hesitantly, I turned with regret as I watched Max sliding her hand around her date’s hip. She leaned to whisper in her ear, bringing forth the girl’s giggle as Max’s led them both out the restaurant.
“Let’s go,” I said.
JULY 11, 2015
It had been a full week of tormented internal debates before I stepped back into the prison with determination. Ten years without seeing Max was just not an option. She was just going to have to get used to the idea my visits whether she liked it or not.
I looked up to the unfamiliar short, African American, female officer sitting behind the open window before I spoke with a suddenly timid voice, “I’m here to see, Max Evans.”
“ID,” she said in a bored voice as she extended out her hand expectantly.
Having the routine down I didn’t hesitate to place my driver’s license into her flat palm. I watched with silent patience as she brought my ID level with the angled clipboard in her hand. I didn’t need to be able to see the paper to know it was the list of approved names that were cleared for visitation.
“There’s no Emily Williams, here,” the guard said.
“What? How is that possible? I’m always on the list. Can you check again, please?”
The guard put her finger up as she looked toward an area behind the window divider that I couldn’t see. A few seconds of awkward silence lingered before she straightened back with a new piece of paper in her hand, looking down as she nodded along with what she was reading.
“It appears you were cleared for visits as of a week ago,” she said looking back up with a small pause and a subtle shake of her head. “But the inmate has recently requested your removal.”
“That can’t be right.”
“Clear as day,” the officer said while wiggling the piece of paper as proof.
“Are you sure?”
The woman merely sighed at my question, seeming not to have the patience to deal with my ignorance as she leaned forward. “Yes.”
“Oh.” I shook my head with disappointment that was aimed at myself. She knew me too well. I should have known Max would take matters into her own hands when she realized I wouldn’t go without putting up a fight.
“Thanks,” I said with a low, insecure voice. I slumped my shoulders before making my way back to my car, defeated. I had barely shut the door before I vehemently shook the steering wheel and released a scream I felt I had been holding back since Max’s arrest.
I was never that child you found in the corner reading. In fact, I loathed the idea of picking up a book. The activity seemed more of a chore than a past time.
All that changed when my brother began talking to me about the newest novel he was reading.Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. Before I knew it, my curiosity got the better of me, luring me to try the series. It didn’t take long for my mindset of reading to turn on its head.
But even with my new hobby discovered it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I developed a hidden desire for writing stories. And when I found myself writing scenes instead of paying attention to my professors, I knew becoming a writer was the career path I was meant to follow.