Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Blitz w/ Giveaway: Double Negative by C. Lee McKenzie


Double Negative by C. Lee McKenzie
Date of Publication: July 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Buy from: Amazon , Barnes & Noble
“My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn’t been laid yet. I couldn’t go into the slammer before that happened.” Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped between an abusive mother and an absentee father. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.
OUTTAKE

Sometimes when I have to cut scenes, it’s like chopping a piece of myself out, but when I go back and read how I’ve incorporated the same information, but differently, I’m always pleased. The decision to take out something is hard, but I’ve learned to let my instincts lead the way.

Here’s a scene between Father Tim Kerry and his friend, Mac, the sheriff. Father Kerry’s trying to keep Hutch, the kid he believes is worth saving, from going to jail. The only way to do that is to convince Mac to put the boy back into the special Intervention Program. Father Kerry’s in the sheriff’s office. He and the sheriff, Mac, are good friends. Father Kerry speaks first.
    “I want Hutch back.”

    Mac shook his head and took off his glasses. “You’re are one pushy—”

    “Remember you’re talking to a priest, Mac.”

    “I can’t—“

    “Sure you can. You the boss, remember?”

    Mac leaned back in his chair, making the springs complain under him. “What I got from the police report is there’s nobody to take responsibility for him if I let him out.” Mac set his glasses back on the end of his nose and peered over the top.

    “There’s me.”

    “Damn it, Tim.” Mac slammed his hands on his desk and pushed himself up. He paced to the window and back. On his third turn he stopped and stood looking down at the priest. “Give me one good reason this kid gets another chance when the others didn’t.”

    Father Kerry stood to look Mac in the eye. “Because if someone hadn’t given me that last chance I’d be up at Attica.”

    Mac returned to the window as if there was an answer outside waiting for him. When he turned back to face the priest, he said, “Once more. That’s it. If he doesn’t stay clean this time, I won’t do anything to help him. Are we clear?”

    “Yep.”
In the final version, this scene never happened, but when Hutch is in the courtroom, I knew it had taken place, and I wrote the new scene with the old one in mind. All the reader knows is somehow Hutch is given this second chance, and that’s all that Hutch knows, too. I’m the only one who knows how it happened, at least until later. That’s one of the privileges of being the writer.
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GOOD LUCK!!!
About the Author:

In my other life--the one before I began writing for teens and younger readers--I was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects. Go ahead. Pat me on the back.

My idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling café, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace.

I've just set out my perfect life. Day after day after day.

Author links:

http://cleemckenziebooks.com/
https://twitter.com/Cleemckenzie
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2809083.C_Lee_McKenzie

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Blitz w/ Giveaway: Pandora Boxed Set


Pandora Boxed Set
Date of Publication: August 5, 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Buy from: Amazon , Barnes & Noble
*TWENTY COMPLETE FULL-LENGTH NOVELS AND NOVELLAS FOR $0.99! NO CLIFFHANGERS!*PANDORA, a best-selling boxed set of wicked paranormal reads, is brought to you by twenty exciting, best-selling, and award-winning authors!

Do you dare open the box?

Whether you love paranormal in the form of romance, suspense, mystery, horror, or fantasy, this boxed set will have something to entice your preternatural sensibilities. Supernaturally thrilling and engaging, this boxed set has it all: ghosts, vampires, mind-readers, shape-shifters, demons, faeries, werewolves, and more.

For a limited, you can enjoy books from today's New York Times, USA Today, Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestselling authors and many more. We have everything from titles that are slated for the big screen to stories from Pulitzer Prize and Bram Stoker Award Nominees! When purchased separately, these books cost over $50! But they are yours today for less than $1.

Professionally formatted, no cliffhangers, and no short stories. Every selection in this rare, limited edition paranormal boxed set are full-length novels and novellas! A few are "First in Series," but we carefully selected only those which can still be enjoyed as a standalone!

Riley J Ford, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: INTO YOU

What if you could know exactly what your friends are thinking? High school student Winter Reynolds can, but there's a catch... 

She can only read people's thoughts when she's kissing them.
Rebecca Hamilton, Amazon Best-Selling and Film-Optioned Novelist: HER SWEETEST DOWNFALL
Ophelia's initiation into the supernatural council won't be complete until she kills the man she loves.
Apryl Baker, Amazon Best-Selling and Film-Optioned Novelist: THE AWAKENING
Snap...crackle...pop. The sounds of bones breaking and shifting and of muscles tearing haunt Alexandria Reed.

Aided by her new friends, who have some dark secrets themselves, can she and Jason survive long enough to figure out the secret behind the secret?
Carole Lanham, Amazon Best-Selling Author and Bram Stoker Award Nominee: CLEOPATRA'S NEEDLE
"There are monsters in this world, I’ve learned, and sometimes I have fallen victim to them and sometimes I have been one."
A story of Welsh witchcraft, love, and murder.
Thomas Sullivan, Pulitzer Prize Nominee: THE WATER WOLF
A global quest by a cynical adventurer searching for links in a colossal subterranean network he has stumbled upon lead him from the ancient fortress at Cuzco, Peru, to the Pyramids of Giza to a dangerous churchyard in Connemara, Ireland, where he falls in love with a woman of more than mortal roots and encounters the strange magic of a small village.
Rainy Kaye, Amazon Best-Selling Author: SUMMONED
A dark twist on genie folklore, SUMMONED follows a reluctant criminal as he unravels the mystery of the paranormal bond controlling him.
Conner Kressley, Amazon Best-Selling Author: THE BREAKER'S CODE
Cresta's the kind of girl who thinks everything is the end of the world. Turns out, she might be right.
Laura Howard, Amazon Best-Selling Author: THE FORGOTTEN ONES
Truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.
Noree Cosper, B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree: A PRESCRIPTION FOR DELIRIUM
Demons, werewolves, possessed bikers, madness spreading like a virus, and a revenge that has waited for over five-hundred years.
What more could Gabby look for in a vacation spot?
Louise Caiola, Amazon Best-Selling Author: WHAT TRULY KNOWS
She was born with the Magical Knowing – a gift, some said. A curse, said others. 
But for Truly, it was the very thing meant to save her life. If it didn’t kill her first.
Kelley Anne Blount, Amazon Best-Selling Author: SHADE

Susan Stec, Amazon Best-Selling Author: DEAD GIRLS NEVER SHUT UP

Toni's grandmother is a psychopath.  Her sister is a ghost.  Her boyfriend is possessed.  And she has no idea who she is.
Christi Goddard, Amazon Best-Selling Author: FOUR IN THE MORNING
When a smart-ass magical creature invades Kathleen’s life, a boy she hates turns up dead and her mother goes missing.
Steven Katriel, Amazon Best-Selling Author: THE PORTRAIT OF ALATIEL SALAZAR
When Gabriel Holland’s beloved Helena vanishes from his life, he journeys to the home of disgraced artist Cristian Salazar, the man he holds responsible for her disappearance and the death of several friends.
Heather Kenealy, winner of MTV's "Stan Lee presents the Seekers" contest and Cinescape's Short Story Contest: THE TRAITORS' TRILOGY
Betrayal comes with a price. For these betrayers, it also comes with an opportunity.
Peter Dawes, Blogger Book Fair Reader's Choice Award winner: EYES OF THE SEER
It all started with a murder, but what laid in wait would turn a man into a monster.
 DelSheree Gladden, Amazon Best-Selling Author: INVISIBLE
Being invisible won’t hide Mason for long.
Angela Fristoe, winner of TheNextBigWriter 2010 Strongest Start Romance Category: LIE TO ME
As a Truth Teller, Phoebe knows a lie when she hears it.
Knowing what to do when her best friend lies is the problem, because in lies, intention is everything.
with...

Samantha LaFantasie: MADE TO FORGET

After waking up in a hospital with no memory, Elsabetha quickly learns those who claim to be her friend are anything but.
Rachel Walter: TRUE CONNECTION
With the help of supernatural friends and protectors, Jazzy thinks she's safe until what remains of her family is put in danger. Does she have what it takes to save her family, life, soul, and soul mate, or will all be lost?
Save over $50! This set is only available at this price for a limited time, so order your copy before it's gone!

WHAT TRULY KNOWS by Louise Caiola

Mama said that eighteen years ago I was plucked from her belly with the Magical Knowing right there waiting for me. She said it was like somehow I knew there’d been a cord wound tight as an ole’ clock spring round my neck, keeping me from my rightful first breath of life. And yet, I wasn’t bothering with fussing over it, ‘cause just as soon as those doctors wrestled me free, the story goes, I looked Mama square in the eye and winked. Much as it sounded like a whole mess of hogwash, Mama swore on the Holy Book that it was true. I reckon she oughta know for real. Though some said Mama did her fair share of fibbing, when it came to the Magical Knowing, Mama didn’t lie.

It was on account of this that I had a horrible feeling someone was due to be dying on Skinners Bridge that night. With the Magical Knowing a person could sense beginnings and endings real clear, the way some folks could tell if it was planning to rain by the way their joints started up with aching. I was hoping it wouldn’t be so. Really hoping.

But then there was that moon that hung over our heads, all crimson-colored and with a mean look on its face. If that wasn’t a deadly moon I don’t know what was.

Locals in Madison County, Alabama say that Skinners had seen its equal split of love and tragedies. Seeing as how it was situated at the butt end of nothing more than some silly little lake, a chunk of trees, and practically no light, kids for years saw fit to visit and do the things nature led ‘em to. Mama says most girls around these parts had babies brewing in their britches from the time they could toddle across the kitchen floor. Lots of those young’uns were shot from their daddy’s lustful limbs right down under those wide oak, only yards from the mouth of the bridge.

As for the tragic part, well that was a tale for unfolding like a linen hanky in a dainty lady’s lap. This was how the Magical Knowing grew into more than Mama or I had ever imagined it could – in a calamity that intended to be much, much more.

On the night in question, Ridley Fisher and I were set to meet Jayden Collins at Skinners to square matters. Jayden had been all bowed up over the very notion that Ridley, who’d arrived in my universe all the way from South Africa if you can imagine that, was fixing to steal my heart and all that went along with it. Not that Jayden and I were a thing. At best we were the very closest a boy and girl could be without ever having locked lips. Our houses were so near you could lie down in between them and have your head in his garden, your toes in mine. Suppose that was one of the reasons Jayden felt like he had some ownership of me, since we’d been next-door neighbors for six years and counting.

Didn’t matter none that when it came to my affection, it wasn’t a lick of Jayden’s concern. Didn’t matter none that Jayden could have practically had me a hundred times over if he really tried. Which he never had up till then, and thusly my heart was officially up for the taking.

INVISIBLE by DelSheree Gladden

Without warning, catching my breath seems impossible. I don’t know if I can handle the thought that someone might actively be trying to hurt Mason. Before I can stop myself, I feel tears begin sliding down my cheeks. I’m not the only one who feels them. Mason reaches up and touches my face, seeming startled when he realizes I am crying. Not that I can blame him. I’m about as much of a crier as he is.

“Oh, Ollie,” he says softly. His strong, but gentle arms easily pull me out from behind him and nestle me against his body. I curl against him as I try to shut out the fear that is quickly swallowing me up.

“Mason, I can’t bear the thought of losing you,” I whisper against his chest.

His arms press me against him so tightly there is no space left between us. “I’ve already lost one family. I won’t lose you, too.”

The night quiets as we lay in each other’s arms. Slowly, Mason’s breathing calms. As he relaxes, my own fears begin to calm as well. They don’t disappear, but they come down to a manageable enough level that I can think and ask the question lingering in both of our minds.

“Mason, what do we do now?”

He sighs. His fingers stroke my hair softly. “I don’t know. I’m not sure how to get more information out of Robin without telling her the truth.”

“We can’t tell her the truth. We have no idea who she’s really involved with. It’s too big of a risk.”

“I know, but we have to stay close to her, too. If she is a threat, we can’t be blind to it.”

I know he’s right, but I don’t like to think about Mason being so close to someone who could potentially hurt him. But what choice do we have? I look up at Mason and find him already staring down at me with a look of concern. Something about the moment makes my heart lurch. It takes me a few seconds to gather my thoughts.

“Mason, we’ll figure this out,” I promise.

As his fingers brush against my cheek, that strange sensation flashes again, but I am too anxious to pay it much attention.

“Out of everything Robin told us today, do you know what hurt the most?” Mason asks, surprising me by his change in topic. He doesn’t wait for me to answer. “Robin said something like sometimes it’s hard to remember ‘I wasn’t human,’ that I was sent here to be raised by Caretakers. Do you realize what that means? Not only am I not human, my family isn’t even my real family. All of the sudden, I’ve lost another family, one I never knew, maybe one that didn’t even want me to begin with.”

“We’ll find answers, Mason.”

I know it’s not much as far as comfort goes, but I don’t know what else to say. I have no idea why anyone would give up someone as wonderful as Mason. If his biological parents didn’t want him, their stupidity was our gain. I can’t imagine my life without Mason.

I have no idea what time it is, but weariness begins to creep over me. My eyes are starting to close when Mason asks one last question.

“Do you think Robin is right about me not being human?”

A yawn stretches my jaw before I can answer. “I don’t know. Maybe. You are invisible.”

“Does that bother you?” he asks quietly.

My shrug is more of a twitch as sleeps tries to steal me away. “Why would it? I love you no matter where you came from.”
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Blitz w/ Giveaway: Alec by L.A. Casey


Alec by L.A. Casey
Series: Slater Brothers # 2
Date of Publication: August 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy from: Amazon
Keela Daley is the black sheep of her family. She has always come second to her younger cousin Micah. Even in the eyes of her mother, Micah shone bright, and Keela faded to black. Now, in adulthood, Micah is a bride-to-be and the spotlight is solely on her. Keela is a low priority…or so she thinks.

Alec Slater is a bachelor, never one to bed the same woman, or man, twice. He is a free agent who does what he pleases and answers to no one; that is until a fiery Irish redhead with a temper to match her hair colour knocks him on his arse. Literally.

She hates to admit it, but Keela needs a favour from the cocky Slater brother, a huge favour. She needs him to not only escort her to Micah’s wedding, but to also pose as her boyfriend. Alec agrees to help Keela, but has certain conditions for her to abide by. He wants her body and plans to have it before anyone can say I do.

What he doesn’t plan on is losing his heart as well as the possibility of losing his family when someone from his past threatens his future.

Alec owns Keela, and what Alec owns, Alec keeps.

Chapter One

"Miss Daley? Open up! I know you're in there, your car is outside in the tenant car park!"

I groaned at the sound of the loud voice, and flicked my eyes open then quickly re-closed them. It took a few moments for me to be able to keep them open, and when I could, I couldn't see very well. I squinted through the darkness waiting for my eyes to adjust to the minimal lighting. When I could see a little, I quickly narrowed my eyes at the fat snoring male beside me. I shoved him hoping to knock him off the bed, but instead of falling off like I’d hoped he only farted and rolled over in my direction then placed a big sloppy kiss on my mouth.

"Storm!" I shouted and wiped at my mouth and tried not to heave, but the smell of Storm's breath made that very hard.

Storm lazily got to his feet, stretched and made some weird noises then proceeded to belly flop on top of me until I gasped for air. Storm, my two year old German Shepherd, needed to be put on a diet or one of these days the fat baby was going to smother me in my sleep.

"Off!" I gasped and shoved at his large body with both of my hands.

Storm did as ordered and got off me. But he didn't get off the bed, instead he just rolled back over to his side - yes, my dog had a side of the bed - which was just typical. The only time he willingly moved was if it was breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time or pretty much any time he knew there would be food in it for him.

"You pathetic excuse for a guard dog," I muttered as the banging on my apartment door started up again.

Storm replied with another fart that had me opening the windows before I left my bedroom to proceed down the hallway to open my door. I stubbed my toe on one of Storm's doggy toys as I walked and cursed the person on the other side of the door for making me get out of bed; it was the middle of the night for God's sake!

"I'm comin', keep your knickers on!" I shouted when I reached my door and began unlocking all the locks. There was five of them in total because, in the area where I lived, one lock was not enough. I switched on my hall light and jumped when the bulb blew, coating the hall in darkness once again. I sighed as I turned to my front door, even though I knew who was on the other side, I still looked through the peep hole just to be safe.

When I confirmed the noisy menace at my door was in fact my neighbour, I unlocked the final lock and pulled it open then harshly glared at the man who was stood before me. Mr. Pervert - his real name was Mr. Doyle - was a middle-aged man who was the CEO at Perverts 'R Us. The man was a major creep, and I hated that I answered the door to him dressed in nothing but my nightdress because it gave him free rein to ogle me with his ever roaming eyes.

"Can I help you, Mr. Per-Doyle?" I asked, biting my tongue, so I didn't laugh at almost calling him Mr. Pervert out loud.

He snapped his eyes up from my legs to my face and cleared his throat as he lifted his hand - a hand that contained one single envelope. I simply stared at the envelope for a moment then flicked my eyes up to Mr. Pervert and found his eyes weren't on my face anymore. I knocked on the outside of my door with my free hand which made him jump with fright and me inwardly snort. When his eyes were once again on mine, I nodded to the envelope in his hand and then raised my brows in a silent question.

He cleared his throat again before saying, "I've been away the last few weeks and found this on my floor when I got home a few moments ago. It is addressed to you, but has my apartment number on it instead of yours."

I wanted to punch him. I used the light from the hallway outside of my apartment to look back inside my apartment and lock my eyes on the clock hanging on the wall behind me; it read 3:20 am.

Couldn't he have just waited till morning before he delivered it to me?

The bloody eejit!

I sighed as I turned back to Mr. Pervert, who was back to looking at my body. I reached out and gripped the envelope and gave it a little tug until Mr. Pervert released it.

"Thanks, I appreciate you goin' out of your way to make sure I get me post." I faked a smile and then pulled the hand that now held the envelope away until it was tucked safely behind my door - along with the rest of my body - so Mr. Pervert couldn't see me anymore.

He blinked a few times and looked at my face, because it was now all that he could see.

"It was no problem at all, sweetheart."

Sweetheart?

Bleh!

I smiled and nodded my head as I inched my door closed. "Good night."

"Good-" I closed the door before he could finish his sentence.

I shook off my shivers then I relocked all of the locks on my door and closed the bolt at the top of the door. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard Mr. Pervert's footsteps trot back across the hall and into his own apartment where he closed the door behind him. I looked at the envelope in my hand and decided to open it because I was curious as to what was inside it. I couldn't see very well because the hallway was still dark but I knew it wasn't a bill, it didn't feel like the envelope bills came in, it was thicker. From what I had seen it looked nicer than a bill envelope. Fancier.

I headed into my sitting room which was also doubled as my kitchen and flicked on the light. I tossed the envelope on the kitchen table and went to the counter drawers to look for my envelope cutter. I found it after only a second of looking, but had to put it down when I heard my phone ring from my bedroom. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion.

Who the hell would be calling me at half three in the morning on a Friday night?

"Aideen," I said out loud and headed in the direction of my bedroom.

Aideen Collins was my best friend. She was the closest thing I had to a sister and I loved her dearly, but she had her moments when she royally pissed me off. Ringing me at half three in the morning was one of those moments.

When I got to the phone in my bedroom and pressed answer, I said, "You’d better have a good reason for ringin' me at this hour Aideen Collins or I am goin' kick seven shades of shite outta you!"

I heard a deep, rumbling chuckle.

"She does have a good reason, so you don't need to kick any shade of shit out of her," a male voice replied, it made me jump with fright because I wasn't expecting it.

"Who are you? Where is Aideen? Why do you have her phone?" I asked then gasped and shouted, "If you have hurt me friend in any way I'm goin' to fuck you up!"

The stranger laughed this time and said, "Is that a promise, kitten?"

Ex-fucking-cuse me?

"Where is Aideen? You better tell me right now or I'm gonna-"

"Fuck me up? Yeah, I got that part," he chuckled again then before he could say anything else I heard a different male voice speak. I asked you to ring the girl's friend, Alec. What the hell is taking so long?"

I mentally made a note of the name Alec incase I had to call the Guards.

"I'm talking to her friend, but I haven't been able to tell her the point of my call. She is too busy threatening to 'fuck me up' if I have hurt the girl," the lad who called me laughed.

I was mad and also scared as to where Aideen was and who these foreign guys were. I knew they weren't Irish or even English - their accents sounded too different - but I couldn't pinpoint where they were from because there was a lot of background [J9] noise. It sounded like music.

"Just tell her what I told you to say so she can get here already," the second lad said to the one who called me.

The lad who called me sighed and said, "Keela, I'm calling to let you know your friend Aiden was in a fight and we need you to come pick her up. She told me to call you."

"Her name is Aideen not Aiden, it's pronounced Ay-deen," I said then widened my eyes when I comprehended the rest of what he just told me. I screamed, "Is she okay? What happened? Who hurt her?"

"Calm down, hellcat. She is fine, we just need you to come and collect her. I'll explain everything once you get here."

"Where is 'here'?" I snapped as I moved around my room pulling on my vans. I grabbed my car keys from my bedside table as I held my phone to my ear with my shoulder.

"Playhouse Nightclub, it's right beside the Tallaght bypass-"

"I know where it is, I'll be there in five minutes," I said and hung up on him.

I gripped on to my phone and car keys as I closed my bedroom window. I told Storm to stay put, but it feel on deaf ears because he didn't move an inch or even wake up. I ran down my hallway and unlocked the locks and the bolt on my door then flung it open and sprung into the corridor. I closed my front door, locked it, then ran like a bat out of Hell down the hallway, down four flights of stairs and out into my apartment complex’s car park. I sprinted towards my car and only realised I was in my nightdress when the cool breeze hit me and made me shiver.

"Fuck!" I snapped as I unlocked my car, got into it and started the engine.

I didn't think of changing clothes, just about getting my shoes on and then getting out to my car. I wasn't going back inside to change; I had to get to Aideen and make sure she was okay before changing clothes even became an option. It was okay though; I didn't show off any valuables. The nightdress was just a little short, it was black so I didn’t have to worry that it was see through, at least I got lucky with that. The weather was good tonight as well, it was cool but not windy or raining. I would just have to hold the hem of my nightdress down when I got out of my car to keep it from rising up incase I had to run anywhere.

I pulled out of the car park and straight onto the main road and headed towards the nightclub[J11] . I was wide awake now, but the stinging in my eyes didn't go amiss. I had only been asleep for four hours before Mr. Pervert woke me up, but before that I hadn't slept in twenty-seven hours. I worked in my local supermarket, Super Value. I was broke, and I needed all the hours I could get, so yesterday I worked an eleven hour shift and instead of going straight to bed when I got home, I dove straight into writing and pulled an all-nighter.

I always had a passion for bringing the stories in my head to life on paper or on a laptop screen. I only ever dabbled in silly little things here and there, never a full length novel. Luckily Aideen - literally - gave me the kick up the arse I needed and said I should just 'go for it' because I wouldn't know if my writing would be a success if I never put it out there. After that wake up call, which was three weeks ago, I knuckled down and started writing my very first book. Yesterday, even though I was shattered, I was completely in the zone and just had to write. I had so much inside me for my story that if I didn't get it out of my head soon I was going to explode. So I wrote, wrote, and wrote some more. The lack of sleep and the stinging in my eyes from staring at my laptop was kicking my arse now though because I felt like death, and I was pretty sure I looked the part too.

When I came to a red traffic light I pulled down my visor and looked in the little mirror and winced. Scratch that, saying I looked like death would have been kind. The sclera around my green eyes looked like a road map to Hell, that's how bloodshot they were. My fiery red hair was slightly greasy, and pulled up into a disastrous looking bun. I glanced down at my long bare white legs and shook my head.



Why did I have to be so tall?

If I were shorter, this nightdress would be longer and less exposing!

I was a bloody mess!

I angrily pushed my visor up when the traffic light changed to green and sped to the location of the nightclub Aideen was at with these men. I got there in less than five minutes because the green lights were with me, and there was little to no traffic on the roads thanks to the early hour. I turned into the nightclub car park entrance and looped around until I saw two huge males looking down at a small woman sitting down on the path a few meters away from the nightclub's entrance. It was Aideen, I just knew it. I parked my car across from them, jumped out, and slammed my door before I took off running towards Aideen.

When the noise of my feet hitting the pavement could be heard both men looked up at me, but didn't say anything as I reached them. When I was next to them, I dropped down to my knees and pulled Aideen into a hug. I ignored the slight stinging in my knees from the concrete ground digging into my skin and held Aideen tightly.

"Are you okay? What happened?" I asked then pulled back from the hug so I could look at her.

Aideen looked back at me and I gasped at the sight that greeted me. She had a small cut over her eyebrow and her right jaw was swollen.

"Some bitch jumped on me," she grumbled.

"Who?" I snapped. "I'll fuckin' kill 'er!"

I was surprised that I sounded like I could actually follow through with my threat.

I was not a fighter. Not. At. All.

I have been in one fight in my entire life, and that was only because my younger cousin Micah punched me in the face when we were kids to see if my blood was blue. She told everyone I was an alien from outer space with blue blood and the only way to prove I was a human was to punch me and make my nose bleed. I agreed because I didn't think it would hurt that much - I was wrong, very wrong, because it hurt like hell.

After Micah punched me and red blood streamed from my nose and we confirmed I was in fact human, I jumped on her because I was in so much pain and decided that she needed to be punished for hurting me. Instead of dishing out a hiding, I received a black eye and a chipped tooth. Micah kicked my arse, and it was the first and only fight I have ever been in. Regardless of my inability to bring the pain, if anyone hurt Aideen or Storm, I would go Bruce Lee on those fuckers.

That was a cold hard fact.

Aideen smiled at me and pulled me in for another tight hug. "I know you would, but I just want to go home now. Can I stay with you?"

Was that a serious question?

I shook her. "Of course, you bloody eejit."

Aideen laughed and so did the males who stood over us. I don't know how, but I forgot they were next to us. I quickly stood up and pulled Aideen with me. She wasn't exactly drunk, just a little tipsy, so I didn't have to balance her or anything, but I still kept a tight hold on her just in case.

"This is Alec," Aideen said and lazily pointed to the man on the right who was openly looking me up and down, "and Kane." I tightened my hold on Aideen when I looked to Kane, the man on the left. He was just as tall and as muscular as the arsehole who was looking at my body, but he was scary looking. He had a large scar that curved around the left side of his mouth and some claw like scars going from his right temple and down through his eyebrow leaving gaps in the hairs like they were styled that way.

"Hi," I said lowly and avoided direct eye contact.

"Kane came to my rescue when Alec's girlfriend hit me," Aideen said and smiled at Kane, who smiled right back at her.

"She was my lay for the night, not my girlfriend... and I apologised for her actions," Alec said with a sigh.

I ignored Alec, the eejit who just spoke, and looked at Kane when he smiled and felt myself instantly become relaxed. He didn't look scary when he smiled like that. I frowned though when the rest of what Aideen said settled in my brain and before I knew it I let go of Aideen and shoved Alec in the chest as hard as I could. He wasn't expecting it so when I shoved him he lost his balance and fell back onto his arse with a grunt.

"That is for your bird hurtin' me friend and if I find out who the slut is I'm goin' fuckin' kill 'er!" I bellowed.

Aideen pulled me back by the arm and begged me to stop while Alec looked up at me with wide eyes before he looked to Kane, who stared down at him also with wide eyes and his mouth agape. A few seconds passed until they both burst out laughing like what just happened was the funniest thing ever. I saw red and tried to go for Alec again, but Aideen moved herself in front of me and pushed me back by the shoulders.

"I told you bro, she is a fucking hellcat!" Alec cackled as he gripped onto Kane's outstretched hand and was helped to his feet.

Kane continued to laugh as he shook his head. "I wish the twins saw that, Dominic would have helped her hit you while Damien recorded it."

I had no idea what or whom they were talking about, but I pointed my finger dangerously over Aideen's shoulder at Alec and snarled at him.

"Keep laughin' pretty boy, and I'll scratch up that face of yours!" I warned.

Alec stepped forward, a grin tugged at his mouth. "I'm finding myself highly attracted to you right now. Would you like to come home with me since you're already dressed for bed?"

I dropped my jaw in shock, and so did Aideen, who spun around and shoved him in the chest, but didn't manage to knock him to the ground. "Knock it off! I appreciate you both helpin' me, but I won't have you treatin' me friend like she is one of your clients, Alec. She is a good girl!"

Clients?

What the hell did that mean?

Alec grinned at Aideen before he flicked his eyes to me. "Oh, I'm bettin' there is a bad girl deep inside her somewhere. I'll just have to use my fingers, mouth, and cock to bring her out to play."

What. The. Fuck?

"Who the hell do you think you are?" I snapped.

He grinned and gave me a wink as he said, "Alec Slater, your next - or only - great fuck."

Was he for real?

"You're about to be Alec Slater - murder victim - if you don't shut that hole in your face!"

Kane cracked up with laughter as he reached for Aideen's arm and pulled her into him and away from me. "Please, don't interfere. I've never seen a female, besides Bronagh, backtalk him like this before," he said to Aideen then brushed her blonde hair out of her eyes; the action caused her to melt into a puddle by the way she sagged into him.

I rolled my eyes at her then looked to Alec, who had inched closer to me, before I growled, "Try touchin' me, and you won't ever be able to have kids. I'm warnin' you."

Alec grinned and folded his arms across his board chest; it caused all his muscles that I could see to contract and tense. He settled on staying put, but openly raked his eyes over my body, mainly my legs, and it made me feel very uncomfortable.

"Stop lookin' at me you dirty bastard!" I growled.

Alec flicked his eyes up to me. "Why would you come outside dressed like that if you didn't want people to look at you?" he asked.

I clenched my hands into fists and took a step towards him. I had to tilt my head back a little bit because he was a lot taller than my five foot ten inches and when I realised that I felt intimidated, but I was not ready to back down.

"I came outside dressed in me nightdress because me friend needed me and gettin' dressed didn't cross me mind when you rang me, you eejit."

He flashed his teeth at me when he smiled. "You sound like my bro's girl, she calls me an eejit a lot."

I looked him up and down; my lip curled in disgust. "She must be kind 'cause there are a lot of words that would suit you much better. Batty boy would be two of them," I snarled then turned in Aideen's direction and found her kissing Kane. Not just smooching, she was completely necking on with him. I walked forward, grabbed her arm and tugged her, not so gently, next to me.

When she was next to me I squeezed her arm and snarled, "Do you not remember the stranger danger film we watched when we were in school?"

Aideen gave me an are-you-serious look before she snickered and shook her head. "They aren't dangerous. Kane saved me from danger."

I pointed over my shoulder. "Yeah, and batty boy's bird put you in danger so let’s go."

"I get the feeling that you're calling me gay," Alec said from behind me.

I set my jaw and continued to tug on Aideen as she frowned over my shoulder and said, "She is callin' you gay, but she doesn't mean it as an insult or anythin'. She's not homophobic, she just said it because she hoped it would piss you off."

Seriously?!

"You aren't supposed to tell him that, Ado!" I snapped.

"Ado? I like that nickname," Kane's voice purred from my right.

He pronounced Ado so proper.

Ay-doh.

I pushed Aideen behind me, ignoring her complaints as I fixed Kane with a glare that wavered the longer I looked at him. "Listen, thanks for helpin' me friend after she got hurt, but she isn't goin' to thank you with some personal pole dancin' so give the flirtin' a rest."

Kane raised his eyebrows as he looked over my shoulder and asked Aideen, "You're a stripper?"

"No, I am a teacher," Aideen scoffed. "'No pole dancin' means no shaggin'."

Kane laughed then. "Your friend is banning you from having sex with me?"

"Yes," Aideen and I said in unison.

"And you're going along with it?" Alec asked Aideen as he rounded on us and leaned back against the same car Kane was leaning on.

They looked like a pair of fitness models and noticing that pissed me off.

"Yeah," Aideen sighed. "She is pretty big on no sex with strangers and... so am I."

Kane’s eyes bore into Aideen and then he smiled as he said, "Pity."

"Uh huh," Aideen agreed with a sad sigh.

I rolled my eyes and said, "I'll stop off at the shop on the way home and buy you some batteries for your vibrator to get you through the night. You will be grand."

"Keela!" Aideen gasped and smacked my arse, it made me yelp and jump.

Both of the lads laughed at what I said and shook their heads as they continued to look at us. I got annoyed and said to Aideen, "Maybe they could apply to Pervert 'R Us, they fit the bill with those stares."

Aideen laughed and smacked my arse again.

"Excuse me?" Alec said.

Aideen was snickering as she said, "Keela's neighbour, Mr. Doyle, is a man who stares a lot so she named him Mr. Pervert and imagined him bein' the CEO of a company called Pervert 'R Us."

I narrowed my eyes when the two hyenas started laughing again - they seemed to do that a lot.

I angrily reached behind me and grabbed Aideen. "We're leavin'. I have to go home to Storm."

"Storm?" Alec questioned.

"Storm is her-"

"Boyfriend," I smiled as I cut Aideen off and gave her a go-along-with-me look. She looked back to me and I could see the amusement in her eyes as she nodded her head and looked to Alec.

"Storm is pretty protective of her," she said.

Alex cocked an eyebrow. "If he is so protective then how come he let you come out here alone while dressed like that?"

He made it sound like my nightdress was skimpy!

I snarled and made a move forward to set him straight but Aideen put herself between Alec and I before saying, "Storm is very hard to rouse durin' the night. He probably didn't even hear her leave, but he is still a great... lad."

I inwardly snorted.

"Yeah, and he will kick your arse for even suggestin' we have sex!" I stated.

Alec popped his head around Aideen and grinned at me. "I'm a lover, not a fighter."

Good news!

"You better back off then because one more crude comment and I will fuck you up, never mind Storm!" I snarled.

Alec bit down on his bottom lip and grinned at me, I knew he was thinking crude things, so I glared at him which made Kane snort.

"Can we keep her? I like hearing someone put you in your place, the fact that she is a female is even better. You don't affect her bro; you're losing your touch." Kane chuckled and playfully shoved Alec when he settled back beside him on the car they were leaning on.

Alex continued to grin at me as he spoke to Kane, "It's still early, don't shoot me down so quickly, bro."

"I'll fuckin' shoot you," I murmured making Aideen snort as she reached for my hand.

"This has been... interestin'. However, Keela is right, we better get goin'."

"Thank you, Jesus," I cheered making Kane snicker before looking to Aideen.

He grinned at her and said, "I guess I'll see you around, Ado."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "I'm the only one allowed to call her Ado."

Kane flicked his eyes to me and smiled. "I like you."

I flushed but forced myself to stand up straight as I said, "Well, I don't like you or your pervey friend-"

"Brother. I'm his pervy brother," Alec cut me off making Aideen snicker.

I shoved her and glared at Alec before I looked back to Kane, who still looked at me with an amused expression. I cleared my throat and said, "I don't like you or your pervy brother. You're both clearly nothin' but trouble if the people you pal around with attack girls for no reason. You're both very fuckin' rude as well!"

I turned and grabbed Aideen's hand and took off walking away from the brothers and in the direction of my car.

"What? No goodbye kiss? Now who is being rude!" Alec's voice called out after us making Aideen cackle.

I grunted. "Fuck you," I shouted without turning around.

"Name the time and place, kitten," Alec called back which caused Aideen to break out in a full on laugh.

Kitten?

I fumed in silence as I all but hauled Aideen across the dark car park and into my car. "Name the time and place, kitten," I mimicked Alec's voice which caused Aideen to laugh harder as she buckled her seat belt.

I buckled my own seat belt then started up my car. I pulled out of the space I was in and quickly drove out of the car park. I don't think I calmed down enough to breathe normally until we were on the Tallaght Bypass.

"Can you believe him? What a fuckin' dick!" I spat.

Aideen snorted. "I found that entire conversation hilarious."

I shook my head. "Well you shouldn't have. Look at your face, Aideen!"

Aideen sighed. "I know, but it honestly wasn't their fault. We were just havin' a good time when out of no where this girl jumped on me."

I gripped my steering wheel so tight that my knuckles turned white.

"Why were you even with them?" I spat.

I wasn't angry with her, I was just angry that she got hurt by some bitch.

"I wasn't even with them. Tonight was the first time I met them. I was out with Branna. Tonight was a small twenty-first birthday party for Bronagh. Branna left early with Ryder because he wasn't feelin' very well. Bronagh is still inside the club with her lad, Nico, and her friend, Alannah. I was sat with Kane and Alec when a drunk girl came over and accused me of bein' Alec's latest shag. Alec laughed at the girl, but didn't deny it, so she jumped on me."

I grunted.

Branna Murphy was Aideen's friend and has been her friend since they were in preschool. Aideen is a few years older than me so she has known Branna longer than she has known me. I'm a grown woman, I'm not at all jealous of their friendship. Branna was cool after all. Her sister Bronagh was great as well, I was two years older than Bronagh, who turned twenty-one today. I had been invited to go out with everyone tonight but my body was beat, so I declined the invitation.

My thoughts calmed me down enough for me to loosen my grip on the steering wheel but I still shook with anger. "You should have let me punch 'em."

Aideen chuckled then lifted her hand to cradle her face. "You would have broken your hand! Did you see how big he was?"

I grunted and nodded my head. "His brother was even more muscular. Do they live at the gym or somethin'?"

Aideen snickered. "Branna said they have a gym in her house. 'Member I told you she moved in with Ryder and the oldest twin, Nico, moved in with her sister?"

I nodded my head.

"Branna didn't just move in with Ryder, she moved in with Alec and Kane as well. She said there is a gym room where the sittin' room should be and that they all work out a lot. You should see Nico; he’s twenty-one and the lad is ripped. He is a fighter or somethin'."

I glanced at her wide eyed. "Why the hell are you hangin' around walkin’ tanks, Aideen?"

Aideen burst into a fit of giggles which made me grin even though I was mad.

"They are lovely - big and scary - but lovely."

I shivered when I pictured Kane's face, calling him lovely was not a word that I would use to describe him.

"How do you think Kane got those scars on his face? They are kind of severe."

Aideen sighed. "I've no idea what happened to him but he is still gorgeous!"

"You like his accent as well, right?" I questioned.

Aideen purred, "Oh, my God. I could listen to him talk all day! He could make wet by just sayin' ‘Hello’!"

I rolled my eyes. "I swear you think with your dick."

Aideen cackled. "You mean vagina?" "Yeah, I mean vagina, but sayin' dick sounds better."

Aideen continued to laugh then hissed a little and covered her face with her hands. I glanced at her every so often during the five minute drive back to my apartment complex. I parked in my usual spot, then myself and Aideen got out of the car, and after I locked it, quickly scurried across the car park and into my apartment building. We took the stairs two at a time until we got to the fifth floor where my apartment was located. I opened my hall door with lightening like speed because I didn't want to be caught by Mr. Pervert again dressed in just my nightdress.

Luckily, we got inside with no one seeing us. Aideen and I then went into the bathroom where I got out my first aid kit while she pulled her dress off then pulled down her underwear and sat on the toilet.

I was opening an antiseptic packet when I glanced up at her through the mirror and snorted, "Do you reckon lads do this?"

Aideen opened her eyes and lazily smiled at me as she said, "Willingly go to the toilet with another lad in the room? Nah, they would call each other gay."

I chuckled and looked back down to the first aid kit while Aideen finished up on the toilet. I turned when the toilet flushed and waited for her to wash her hands before I began cleaning her face up. She was four inches shorter than me now that her heels were off, so it made holding her head still a lot easier.

"OW!" Aideen suddenly hollered which earned a bark from my bedroom.

"Go back asleep you fat shite!" Aideen shouted when I swiped the antiseptic wipe over a small cut above her eye.

I hissed at her, "Leave him alone, he isn't fat. He just has a thick coat!"

Aideen laughed through her hissing. "Yeah, a thick coat of blubber."

I gave her a firm look. "Don't slag me baby when I'm cleanin' you up. Me finger might slip and jam into your eye."

Aideen gave me a wary look and closed her mouth which made me inwardly grin as I finished cleaning up her face. When I was finished, she went into my bedroom to get some of my pyjamas [J16] to wear while I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. I turned on the kitchen light then moved to the sink and filled up a glass and quickly gulped down the water. I looked to my left and noticed the envelope Mr. Pervert gave to me earlier, still unopened on my kitchen table.

"Storm, get off the bed... or at least move over!" Aideen's voice shouted from my bedroom.

I roughly rubbed the back of my neck and sighed. I glanced at the envelope once more before I shook my head and walked over to the kitchen light switch and flipped it off. I turned and walked towards the sounds of growling and shouting coming from my bedroom and decided that dealing with Storm and Aideen was enough for one night.

Whatever was in that envelope could wait until morning.
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About the Author:

L.A. Casey was born, raised and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. She is a twenty two year old stay at home mother to an almost two year old German Shepherd named Storm and of course, her four and half year old (the half is apparently vital) beautiful little hellion/angel depending on the hour of the day.

Her first novel, Dominic, was released on March 17th, 2014, and on March 21st, 2014, it became an international Amazon bestseller.

Author links:

https://twitter.com/LAWritesBooks
https://www.facebook.com/LACaseyAuthor
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7759811.L_A_Casey
http://www.lacaseyauthor.com/

Book Blitz w/ Giveaway: Channel 20Something by Amy Patrick


Channel 20Something by Amy Patrick
Series: 20Something # 1
Date of Publication: August 12, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy from: All Romance , Amazon , Barnes & Noble , Kobo
From award-winning author and two-time GOLDEN HEART® finalist Amy Patrick comes a New Adult contemporary series about twenty-somethings entering the world of TV broadcasting, where what happens behind the scenes is the real news.

22-year-old Heidi Haynes is almost one year into her “real life”. She has her first reporting job, her first apartment, and a comfortable relationship with her college sweetheart. But for some reason she’s not as eager to talk about walking down the aisle as he is.

Heidi secretly longs for big cities, big-market breaking news, and real independence from her way-too-close-by helicopter parents. Problem is, the last time she left the security of home for new places and new people, things didn’t go so well. Disastrously, in fact, and she came running back to a local college and a “safe” boyfriend.

Aric Serrano is definitely not safe.

He’s six-feet-four-inches of missing-Hemsworth-brother-hotness and plans to stay in small-market-Southern-Hell just long enough to grab a cup of coffee and put together a kick-ass “escape tape”. He’ll serve his one-year contract, then he’s taking off for a higher rung on the TV sports ladder—alone—the way he likes it. Then he meets his new co-anchor.

Heidi would be so much more comfortable if she could simply ignore Aric. He’s just her type—the type she’s so careful to avoid these days. But that becomes impossible when she's forced to work closely with him on the weekend newscast. Now the attraction between them is growing even faster than the ratings, and what happens behind the scenes is the real news.

The baby reached out for the stick mic, grabbing a handful of the foam windscreen covering it. Her mom scolded her and tried to pry her tiny hand away. “No, no, Cassie.”

“It’s okay. She can’t hurt it,” Aric reassured. He cupped the baby’s downy head, his large hand covering the entire back of her skull. As he cooed in her face, the baby gazed at him as if he was all that existed in the world. “May I please have this back, Cassie? Can I? Are you going to let me have my microphone back?”

She released her grip and gave him a wide gummy grin dotted with two tiny front teeth.

“Oh, thank you.” Aric stroked her plump cheek.

Oh my God. I’m envious of a baby. I shook my head to clear it. I really needed to get a hold of myself. Especially now that I knew Aric was involved with someone long-distance and he believed I was in a committed relationship. I had to work on my just-friends attitude and banish the improper thoughts that insisted on popping up every few minutes when I was with him.

We finished the interview, Aric thanked the family, and then we talked to a few students on camera, getting some good usable sound bites and some that would never make air. One group of frat guys we met had clearly started the party early. They were loud and happy and flirted with me outrageously.

“You’re beautiful,” slurred a lanky guy with a mop of platinum hair and a maroon blazer. He looked like a freshman and teetered over me like a skinny tree that might go down with the next strong breeze.

“She is, isn’t she?” Aric said in a clipped, impatient way. “Okay guys, just a couple of questions—”

Another one of them, a stocky guy in a wrinkled button-down and crooked tie, ignored Aric completely and pushed things a step further. His whiskey-soaked breath surrounded me as he crowded my personal space. “You’re way cuter than you are on TV. They should make the news desk see-through. You have great legs.”

The guy lurched back from me as Aric stepped in and gave him the buddy-slap on the shoulder, employing more force than seemed necessary. “Okay, friend. Time to move along. This one’s spoken for.”

Aric’s voice sounded even deeper than usual. Though he’d obviously been referring to Hale, the protectiveness of his tone struck a shameful chord of pleasure in my midsection. I hadn’t actually been afraid—we were in a crowd of people in broad daylight—but there’s something almost magnetic about a guy whose instinct is to stand up for you.

In his state of drunken invincibility, the stocky kid bowed up, frowning in offense. Then he apparently realized how far up he had to crane his neck to see Aric’s intimidating expression. He shrank away and joined his friends stumbling into the stadium.

We picked up our gear and headed for the sidelines, flashing our media passes at the security guard on the way in.

“Thanks,” I said quietly.

Aric cut a glance in my direction and grinned. “Anytime. Reporter, photographer, bodyguard. Whatever you need.”
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About the Author:

Amy is a two-time Golden Heart finalist (2013 and 2014) who writes Young Adult fiction as Amy DeLuca and New Adult romance as Amy Patrick.  She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons and actually craves the heat and humidity of Mississippi, where she grew up. She's been a professional singer and news anchor and currently narrates audio books as well as working as a station host for a Boston TV station.

Author links:

http://www.amypatrickbooks.com/
https://twitter.com/amypatrickbooks
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3247178.Amy_Patrick

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Book Blitz w/ Giveaway: Shades of Chaos Collection


ON SALE for $0.99 for a limited time
Dare yourself to enter into post-apocalyptic future with this gritty collection of first-in-a-series books by six bestselling authors! Discover unique worlds packed with non-stop action, adventure, and suspense set against a gritty, futuristic backdrop.

NOTE: Together, these books have over 320 5-star reviews on Amazon!
Over 1400 pages of stories, with *exclusive* content from Alexia Purdy, Katie Salidas, and Chrystalla Thoma!
Best for ages 16 and up~

I AM Alive: I am not my heart rate. I am not my skills. I am not how I look like. My name is Decca Tenderstone. I live in a future America where teenagers are ranked on a scale from 1 to 10 on graduation day. There has never been a 10. Those below the rank of 5 are considered Monsters, a liability to society. The system says I am a Monster. I will not let them kill me. I will survive.

Initiation: Being a Vampire is a crime punishable by eternal servitude in the arena as a Gladiator of the Iron Gate. Mira, a newly turned vampire, must prove she has what it takes to survive in the human’s world. It’s kill or be killed. Immortality is not guaranteed.

Dissension: In the aftermath of the great cataclysm, vampires are enslaved by humans and used for blood sport as gladiators in the arena. Mira is undefeated, uncompromising, and unbreakable, but when an escape attempt leads her into the path of the city’s Regent, her destiny is changed forever.

Finding Hope: After the death of the one person he called mother, Elei leaves the Trashlands of Ost for the city – looking for other people and for answers. But he soon finds out that people are complicated and answers hard to come by…

Rex Rising: In a world where parasites create new human races, Elei leads a peaceful life as aircar driver — until a mysterious attack on his boss sends him fleeing with a bullet in his side and the fleet at his heels.

Resonant: As the first days of the end of humanity tumble across the City of Las Vegas, turning everyone into vampire-like creatures, April Tate will find out what it really means to survive.

Reign of Blood: April Tate is a seventeen-year-old ferocious vampire killer who lives in the remains of Las Vegas one year after a viral epidemic has left the world decimated. After her family is abducted, her world tilts when she discovers they’re not truly alone.

Released: After a demon apocalypse kills everyone they know, 17-year old Abby Phillips, her brother and her friend Max flee their home to travel through the wastelands of America, chasing a radio transmissions of a resistance offering shelter. But soon enough Abby and her companions discover what awaits them is much worse they could have ever imagined.

Burning Bridges: In a world divided between Hunters and Warriors, where prisoners are forced to fight in the arena until death, young Princess Echo must fight to find out who she really is and to put a world that has been swallowed by lies back together again.

Elei inhaled the humid air and tried to get his bearings, to remember something, anything. In the end, he had to admit defeat. “Which island is this? Is it Kukno?”

“Are you saying I tricked you?” The boatman’s voice was dry. “We’re right where you told me to take you. Dakru.”

Dakru! The heart of the Seven Islands, risen in their perfect center, pushed out of the depths of the sea by the gods — at the beginning, before their divine hands molded the flesh of fish and birds, and then man. Elei stared at the shore, not quite believing he was there.

Until the boatman planted a heavy hand on his shoulder and shook him. “Hey, snap out of it. Pay me my second half and jump out now, or the sea will have you.”

Looking into his hard eyes, Elei had no doubt he meant it. He reached into his pocket and took out his thin wad of bills. Blood ran in a hot line down his hip as he counted and gave over the money. The boatman counted it again, eyes darting to the remaining bills and Elei’s gun peeking out of the holster.

Not good. Grimacing, Elei climbed out of the boat, scrambling on hands and knees to keep his balance on the blocks of the pier, fumbling in the half-darkness as the sea sang and sighed all around him and cold water sprayed his face. His left wrist throbbed, felt slightly sprained. His body felt numb, uncoordinated; the pain in his side echoed in his limbs, in his head.

Like an insect, he crawled on the giant squares, skinning hands and knees, until he finally reached the pier road. He could have wept for relief. Maneuvering his heavy legs, he climbed to his feet and glanced back at the boat which was already speeding away — a speck blacker than blackness, a white line of surf. Then he turned with a knot in his stomach to face the unknown shore.

The island was Dakru, but which city was this one? A memory returned and Elei frowned. Krisia. The boatman was supposed to drop him at Krisia, a small enough seaport to avoid Gultur police control. What had possessed him to go there?

Elei staggered along the pier toward the storehouses lining the seafront and the wound hurt like a son of a bitch with every step. He should have hidden in the mountains of Ost until he figured out what happened.

Nobody in their right mind would come to Dakru. The Gultur presence was stronger there. Their capital, Dakru City, the Gultur stronghold, rose in the center of the island, dominating the plains at the feet of the rugged mountains, and the dakron mines spread around it in a spiderweb of power. The source of the Gultur wealth lay in the control of the dakron mines, where the mineral fuel, pure and invaluable, was extracted. The police presence would be stronger here as well. And he was an illegal migrant.

This is mad. Why would I…

Someone had chased him. A face he knew, a man’s hard features, surfaced in his memory. Falx? He wondered why Pelia’s head of security would go after him, though it made no difference now. Nevertheless, it explained why he’d chosen — wisely in retrospect — not to travel with legal transportation over the immense bridges between the islands. He’d still been able to think when he’d boarded the boat, body pumped full of adrenaline.

Now the images, the words, the thoughts turned hazy. He stumbled and had to stop to catch his breath, his hand clenching on his side. Just move. He licked his lips, his throat raw from thirst, knowing he couldn’t rest there — too conspicuous, too dangerous. Keep moving. He had to get to Artemisia. He knew that. And from there…

Elei grappled with the memory. Where did he have to go? An address, he had an address. Where was it? His hand dove into his pocket and drew out a crumpled scrap of paper. The letters jerked and swam in his vision.

There. He must get there. A name. And a place, an address. He wondered how far he had to go, how easy it’d be to find transportation and whether streetcars ran that stretch. He pushed the paper deep into his pocket, patted it. The knot in his gut unwound a little. He had a goal. Get there. Just do it.

Go to Aerica.

Find Kalaes Ster.
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