December 10, 2016

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Discord by Katy Haye




Discord (Echoes of Earth #1)
Author: Katy Haye
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: December 8, 2016

Summary from Goodreads:

Beth forgot her past. What if there’s nothing to remember?

Seventeen-year-old Beth has brain damage. That’s why she lives in a hospital in the middle of the English countryside filled with therapeutic music and medical tests. Some days she feels well enough to go home, but other days – the days filled with shadows and ghosts, and a strong sense of déjà vu – she fears she’ll never get better.

Toby’s arrival signals a turning point. Beth faces her fears instead of hiding from them. But even with Toby’s help, is she strong enough to face a truth that is stranger than anything Beth could imagine?






On sale for only $0.99 from 12/8-12/10! Buy at Amazon  

Book Trailer:
Katy Haye spends as much time as possible in either her own or someone else's imaginary worlds. She has a fearsome green tea habit, a partiality for dark chocolate brazils and a fascination with the science of storytelling.

When not lost in a good book, Katy may be found on her allotment growing veg and keeping hens in order to maximise her chances of survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse or similar catastrophe (admittedly, this would not help if the entire country flooded...).


December 9, 2016

The Visitors Book Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Tour November 1 - December 17, 2016

 
The Visitor's Book by Sophie HannahThe Visitors Book
Author: Sophie Han
nah
Genre: Short Stories/Thriller
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Published by: Witness Impulse
Number of Pages: 120
ISBN: 0062562126 (ISBN13: 9780062562128)
 

Description:

A collection of spine-tingling ghost stories from one of today's most acclaimed suspense novelists. In this small but perfectly formed collection of supernatural short stories, bestselling author, Sophie Hannah, takes the comforting scenes of everyday life and imbues them with a frisson of fear. Why is a young woman so unnerved by the presence of a visitors book in her boyfriend’s inner-city home? And whose spidery handwriting is it that fills the pages? Who is the strangely courteous boy still lingering at a child’s tenth birthday party when all the parents have gathered their children and left? And why does the presence of a perfectly ordinary woman in a post office queue leave another customer pallid and quaking with fear?
The Visitors Book is a deliciously creepy collection of short stories that readers will devour in a matter of hours. I normally don't read short stories because it never feels like enough time to really develop deep characters or intricate plot lines - especially since some of my favorite genres are thrillers and mysteries. There never seems to be the right amount of space to give these kinds of stories the scope they deserve, in my opinion. I decided to give this collection a try simply because I've read some of the author's other books and loved them. I'm so glad that I did - they were well worth it! 

Each one had fascinating characters and intense story lines that had me hooked from the very beginning. Sure, they would have each made amazing full novels in themselves, but they managed to work as short stories as well - which I honestly wasn't anticipating. I loved that I could read one story at a time, in between my hectic schedule, and not be worried about forgetting where I was at or what was happening in the story wherever I happened to leave off. That was another huge plus for me while reading this collection - and yet another happy surprise that I figured would actually turn me off about them. 

The author has a phenomenal talent which shines through even in these short stories, and makes me only want to read more of her other works. I definitely recommend this author for fans of the genre - and this fantastic book for readers who, like me, love thrillers and mysteries but are a little low on time for a full length novel!
Sophie HannahSophie Hannah is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers, which have been published in 27 countries and adapted for television, as well as The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot novel authorized by the estate of Agatha Christie.

Catch Up with Sophie Hannah on her Website & Twitter!

 

 Enter for a chance to WIN!

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sophie Hannah and Witness Impulse. There will be (5) US winners of one (1) eBook copy of The Visitor’s Book by Sophie Hannah. The giveaway begins on November 1st and runs through January 2nd, 2017.

 

Tour Participants:


 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

 

 

 

Needing the Memories Blog Tour: Excerpt



Needing the Memories (The Rocker novella)
Author: Terri Anne Browning
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Description:

Happy Ever After doesn’t end at the Epilogue. The Epilogue is really only the beginning. For us, it’s meant sharing every high, every low, and loving each other even more when we come out the other side still standing. He’s everything I’ve always wanted. My best friend. My lover. My husband…

My Demon.
And I’m his Angel.

Our life hasn’t always been perfect, but to me as long as I get to wake up to Angel in my arms every morning and get to tuck our girls into bed at the end of each day I’ll be the happiest man in the world. Nothing can come between us, nothing can tear us apart.

Only…I have one regret. One that is still a black void in my head.

Every year it’s the same.

The regret.

The self-loathing for the man I was back then.

The anger that I’d taken something from the woman who has given herself to me so freely and being unable to remember a single second of it. This year it’s worse for me. It’s slowly driving me crazy.

Maybe it’s time to hit rewind and give us both a do over for that night.

Maybe what I really need is a memory to replace that empty blackness that is trying to swallow me whole.  


Purchase It Now:
Amazon US: goo.gl/i3QoNF
Amazon UK: goo.gl/kjWcfs
Barnes & Noble: goo.gl/WzizVT
Kobo: https://goo.gl/ZFvaGN
iBooks: goo.gl/xiuPoF

 

 
The bedroom was empty so I went into the living room. Empty. The door to the balcony was open, letting a slight breeze blow into the room. Outside, lights twinkled and danced in the growing darkness. Faintly I heard laughter coming from the pool in the courtyard.

“Drake?”


“In here.”


Following the sound of his voice, I headed for the dining room, and stopped when I saw the table set for dinner. Candles were already lit, beautiful china in golden rose was set out, and even a bottle of what looked like sparkling cider was in a bucket of ice on the table. None of this had been there when I’d gone in for my shower. But it was the man standing in the center of the room who had my breath catching in my throat.


Dressed in a black suit, with his jacket hanging open to reveal his shirt untucked and unbuttoned, Drake looked delicious. He’d taken the man bun down before we’d left the house earlier that day, but it was back now. Like me, he was completely barefoot. “I take it we aren’t going out for dinner, then?”


A lopsided grin played at his lips. Fuck, that grin did dangerous things to my heart. For a second I couldn’t catch my breath as he walked toward me. “Well, I have this wife who doesn’t like ostentatious places that would be considered romantic. So I figured I’d treat her to dinner in tonight.”


“G-good idea,” I whispered as he held out his hand. My palm rubbed against his before he clasped his big fingers around it and then pulled me in close. As if by magic, soft jazz music began to play, and I barely noticed when Drake tossed the remote to the stereo that was hidden somewhere in the penthouse.


His free hand went to my waist, and he lifted our joined hands up until they rested over his heart. My heart beat erratically as we started to sway to the music. In all the years we’d been together, the times we had gone dancing were few and far between. It was one of my few pleasures that I didn’t indulge often. Getting to do so now, with my delicious husband’s arms around me as we danced around the room with nothing but candles and moonlight streaming through the windows, was something I would treasure for the rest of my life.


I felt his lips brush over my temple as he hummed along with the song, making his chest vibrate and affecting me in the most primal of ways as my panties became soaked with need for him. The music shifted from one song to another, and everything inside of me melted when I heard our song.


Terri Anne Browning is the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Rocker...Series. She started writing her own novellas at the age of sixteen, forcing her sister to be her one woman fan club. Now she has a few more readers and a lot more passion for writing. Being dyslexic, she never thought a career in writing would be possible, yet she has been on best selling lists multiple times since 2013. Reese: A Safe Haven Novella was her first Indie published book. The Rocker Who Holds Me changed the tables and kicked off The Rocker... series featuring the sinfully delicious members of Demon's Wings. The Rocker... Series has since expanded to OtherWorld with Axton Cage and his band members. Other books by Terri Anne include the Angel's Halo MC Series as well as The Lucy & Harris Novella Series. Terri Anne lives in Virginia with her husband, their three demons---err, children--and a loveable Olde English Bulldog named Link.

AUTHOR LINKS:
Website: www.terriannebrowning.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AuthorTERRIANNE
Facebook: www.facebook.com/writerchic27
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6906208.Terri_Anne_Browning Amazon: http://amzn.to/1VUKOn3














Cover Reveal: The Last Shadow Gate by Michael W. Garza

The Last Shadow Gate (Shadow Gate Chronicles #1)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Publisher: NeverHaven Press

Summary: 

Summer vacation was never supposed to be like this.
It was bad enough Naomi had to be shipped off to her dad's home for the summer and deal with her half-brother Gavin, but when the siblings are forced to spend their break with their great-grandmother in upstate New York, everything changes. An investigation into the strange disappearance of their great-grandfather forces them to retrace his footsteps. They discover a gateway between worlds and encounter extraordinary creatures in a land where the people are desperate to escape the coming of a shade lord. To survive their adventure, Naomi and Gavin must settle their differences and find the elusive shadow gate that will take them home again.

THE SHADOW GATE CHRONICLES:
Book 1: The Last Shadow Gate
Book 2: A Veil of Shadows (Coming 2017)
Book 3: The Shadow of War (Coming 2018)


Advance Praise for THE LAST SHADOW GATE:

"If this book had been around when I was a kid, I’d have held it right up there with The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.” - Sunshine Somerville, Author of THE KOTA SERIES

"You won't want to miss out on the thrilling yet perilous world beyond the shadow gates!"  - J. Cornell Michel, Author of JORDAN'S BRAINS

*If you love fast-paced, YA Fantasy, THE LAST SHADOW GATE is the book for you.*

Pre-order on Amazon!
The Last Shadow Gate
(Sample Chapters)

1
Gavin Walker sat in a dining room chair at the head of the table. His dirty-blond bangs were pushed to one side revealing a wide-eyed expression. His mouth hung open, and he was at a loss for words, which was something that didn’t happen often in the twelve-year-old’s daily life.

“The whole summer?”

His father stood at the opposite end of the table resting his hands on the back of a chair. The similarities between father and son were unmistakable. Mr. Walker’s expression was calm, unlike his son’s overreaction. Gavin could see his father wasn’t going to back down, so he resorted to repetition.

“The whole summer?”

Mr. Walker didn’t budge.

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

“But Dad.”

“It won’t kill you,” Mr. Walker said. “You haven’t seen Mama Walker in over two years and she’s not getting any younger.” His face was stern. “Look, she’s nearly eighty-five and I’m not sure how many more opportunities the two of you will have to spend time with her.”

Mama Walker was Gavin’s great-grandmother. She lived alone on the outskirts of Albany, New York, in the town of Gum Springs. To a twelve-year-old boy from Southern California, Gum Springs was on the far side of the moon. Gavin didn’t know Mama Walker very well.

“But she’s crazy, Dad,” he said. “You said so yourself.”

Mr. Walker’s brow wrinkled.

“I don’t think she’s crazy. She’s lonely since Papa went away and…”

He went on, but Gavin stopped listening. He crossed his arms and sulked. He wanted to protest, but he already knew his father wasn’t going to give in. He focused on something else he’d heard.

“What do you mean by the two of you?”

Mr. Walker smiled and hesitated.

“Well,” he said, “that’s the rest of the story. I want you and your sister to spend the summer together with Mama Walker.”

Gavin rolled his eyes. Naomi was his half-sister who lived in Florida with her mother. The two siblings were forced to tolerate each other over summer vacations and an occasional holiday break. She was older than Gavin by three years and reminded him of it every chance she could. “What about football camp?”

He was playing dirty now.

“Already took care of it,” Mr. Walker said, and Gavin’s smile disappeared. “First day of camp is at the end of August, and it just so happens that you’ll get back with plenty of time.”

“You already bought the ticket?” Gavin asked as his voice filled with dread.

“Yep,” Mr. Walker said, “school’s out next Friday, and you and I fly out on Saturday.”

“You’re coming?”

“I’m flying with you. We’ll meet Naomi in Albany then I’m going to stay a few days and fly back.”

“Very brave of you,” Gavin said.

Mr. Walker got up, came around the table, and took a seat next to his son. He put his hand on Gavin’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “I know I’m asking a lot, but come on, Gavin, do this for me,” he said. “Your mother and I have talked about this for a while. Mama Walker has been distant from the family for a long time. This will be good for her and good for the both of you kids too.” He let go and stood up. “You know, you might even have a good time.”

Gavin doubted that very much.


Destin, Florida is a popular vacation destination. It’s known for white, sandy beaches, and clear, blue water. That beauty is a part of life for the people who live in Destin and across the bridge in the city of Fort Walton Beach. Naomi Walker happened to be one of those lucky people.

She sat on the school bus staring out at the clear, blue water counting down the days until summer. The ninth grade was particularly difficult for Naomi. She calculated she’d spent more days grounded during this year than all of the years before it combined. She wasn’t a bad student, quite the opposite, she enjoyed most of her classes.

She’d always had an interest in science and history, but this year she spent more time interested in gossip and boys than any academic pursuit. Naomi’s mother was forgiving for the most part. She and her step-father were willing to give Naomi some slack as she dealt with becoming a young woman. Her father was a different story altogether.

Naomi knew her father lived in California, but sometimes she thought he was somewhere closer to Mars. Her parents divorced when she was young, but Mr. Walker did everything in his power to keep a close relationship. Naomi cherished that bond as a little girl; however, her needs had changed over the past few years. In a short time she’d be shipped off to California while all her friends would be having the time of their lives.

She decided looking at the beach was only making matters worse and spun around to stare at the back of the seat in front of her. Chloe, her little sister, sat next to her. All of Chloe’s attention was focused on the screen of a hot pink, handheld game. Naomi pulled the game from her hand for no good reason, and the two fought over it for the rest of the ride home.

The walk from the bus stop to the front door felt longer than usual. Naomi passed the time by snatching her hand away from Chloe as the little girl tried to hold on. At fifteen, Naomi was at a peculiar crossroads in her life where adulthood and individualism was a goal and childhood just plain stunk. To Chloe, only seven, holding hands was still all the rage.

“Mom, we’re home.”

Naomi threw her backpack on the sofa and walked to the kitchen with Chloe close on her heels.

“What about peanut butter?” Chloe asked.

“What about no,” Naomi said.

Chloe stuck her tongue out. “Fine then,” she said, “I’ll make one myself.”

The little girl pulled a chair in from the dining room as Naomi poked through the cabinets and settled on a half-finished bag of chips. Naomi slumped down on the couch, leaving Chloe to make a mess in the kitchen. She began a never-ending search for something to watch on TV with the chips in her lap and the television remote secured. The sliding door in the rear of the house opened and closed, announcing their mother’s arrival.

“We’re home, Mom,” she said.

“Just finishing up the laundry.”

Naomi was convinced her mother did the laundry for the entire block.

“What in the world?”

Naomi grinned. She knew her mom’s outburst had something to do with the mess Chloe was making in the kitchen. A moment later her mother made it into the living room. Her hair was frazzled and her eyes were focused in a disapproving glare.
“What?” Naomi asked.
“You could have helped her.”

“She’s not a baby, you know.”

Her mother sat down on the love seat. “I want you to turn that off, Naomi. We need to talk about something.”

Naomi didn’t like the tone her mother took. This was the tone she used when delivering bad news. It was that very same tone she’d used to tell her and Chloe their beloved cat, Tinker, was in heaven. Naomi eyed her mother closely as she hit the mute button on the remote control.

“Your father and I have had a long talk about your summer vacation,” her mother said. Naomi pulled a handful of chips out of the bag and ate through them in an unnecessarily loud manner. “And…” her mother’s voice rose to match the chip-chomping, “I believe we’ve come to an agreement.”

“I can stay here for the summer?” Naomi asked.

“No.”

Naomi sank back into the couch.

“Your father wants you and Gavin to spend the summer together.”

“What’s so different about that?” Naomi asked. “I have to put up with him every summer.”

“Yes, but—” Her mother was interrupted by a ring. She pulled the phone out of her back pocket, looked at the number, and smiled. “I’ll let him explain.”

Naomi took the phone from her mother and answered it. She recognized her father’s voice at once.

“Hey, Dad.” She saw her mother smiling and noted it was the smile you give when you feel sorry for something. Naomi’s face scrunched as Mr. Walker explained what awaited her on summer vacation.

“But,” she cut in.

Mr. Walker pushed on.

“Mama Walker?”

Mr. Walker continued to talk.

“But, Dad…”

Her father didn’t let up.

Naomi popped up off the couch.

“But, Dad, that old lady’s crazy.”

Want more? Download a sample chapter book available for THE LAST SHADOW GATE containing the first 8 chapters HERE!

Michael W. Garza often finds himself wondering where his inspiration will come from next and in what form his imagination will bring it to life. The outcomes regularly surprise him and it’s always his ambition to amaze those curious enough to follow him and take in those results. He hopes everyone will find something that frightens, surprises, or simply astonishes them.









Cover Reveal Organized by:
 





Friday Reveal + Giveaway: Summoner Rising by Melanie McFarlane

Today Melanie McFarlane and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for SUMMONER RISING, which releases March 28, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

A quick note from the author:

After writing my YA debut, There Once Were Stars, I never imagined that another full story idea would come to me so quick. But sure enough, in Spring of 2015 I finished playing a round of Final Fantasy (old school) and the thought came to me of creating a character who could summon demons, like the characters in FF can do in battles. From there I created my main character, an indie-outcast kind of girl, who listened to bands like Nirvana and Small Brown Bike (like I did in college), and always want to fit in but never really felt like part of the gang. I made her broken and dark, not naive and protected like Natalia from There Once Were Stars to ensure they were nothing alike and so they would face different challenges. From here, Dacie was born - a complicated girl who wants to be normal but doesn't want to conform. A girl with ghosts in her closet, demons under her bed, and an inner power so strong she's going to have to learn to control it or suffer the consequences. Dacie is a combination of who I was and who I wanted to be when I was a teenager. And we all have to deal with our demons at some point.

On to the reveal!



SUMMONER RISING (Laws of Summoning #1)
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Description:
Law One: A summoner is responsible for all creatures it lets through from the netherworld.

Dacie Cantar wishes someone had explained the Laws of Summoning to her before she watched a shadowy creature crawl out of a painting at the local arcade. At least it explains the strange things she's witnessed since moving in with her great-aunt, after her mother’s untimely death. But who wants to be followed by shadows the rest of their life? Add that to being stalked by a strange boy at school, who just might be her Tovaros (aka soulmate), it’s about all Dacie can handle in her new life.

As she nears her seventeenth birthday, will she be ready for her new responsibilities, or will the shadows that stalked her mother until her death, finally consume Dacie, too? And then there’s Law Two…


Excerpt


Chapter One

Broken. That’s how I feel inside. It’s as if something ripped out part of me and won’t give it back. That’s what death does to you when it touches those you love; it’s not rocket science, but it’s definitely not what I thought it would be like. In movies it is cold, pale, and filled with sadness and longing, or sometimes so predictable and eye roll worthy with its Hollywood special effects. But the death I’ve experienced has been more horrifyingly real; filled with personal loss, haunting dreams, and shadows that run around in the night.

The therapist they assigned me back in California said I needed to move forward. Keep on, keeping on. As clichéd as it was, I agreed. I’d spent most my life fighting to thrive, practically raising myself. Now wasn’t the time to give up. Death was inevitable; if I let the fear of it hold me back, I might as well roll over and die right now. Survival meant I had to push those feelings deep down inside and forget they were there.

“Daciana!”

Great Aunt Katya’s voice calls from the hallway while I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, playing with concealer to cover the dark circles under my eyes. Sleep doesn’t come easy when you’re trying to be someone new.

She appears behind me in the mirror, her long white hair a contrast to my dark locks. “Are you sure you won’t change your mind?” Her thick accent is still a novelty to me.

Katya has spent the entire summer trying to convince me that I’d be better off stuck here with her, getting homeschooled like everyone else does in our family, back in Romania. I’m not against it; I’d just like to try to fit in first.

I shake my head and mimic a cheer. “Go Greystone High!” My knotted bracelets slip from my wrist, bumping against the rolled up sleeve of my plaid button-up shirt, and my chipped black nail polish is the opposite of anything bright and cheery. I’m not about to give up my first chance to have a different life.

Katya throws her head back, letting her multi-hooped earrings clink against each other, mingling in the air along with her laugh. She dresses like a bohemian, but flashes way too much cleavage. She wears more bracelets than I do, and a lot more rings. All her jewelry looks like it was forged by hand in one way or another, and I’m sure if I ask there’s a story behind it all. She looks back down and shakes her head at me with a smirk across her burgundy painted lips. She looks amazing for sixty-five.

“Don’t be late your first day.” She pats my shoulder before leaving. In her reflection I see a shadow chasing after her, along the cracks of the old wooden floor. My heart jumps and I spin around, but both of them are gone. I run to the door and peek around the corner, but Katya is alone as she disappears down the creaky old stairs.

I sigh and return to the bathroom to grab my backpack, glancing in the mirror one last time. My dark brown eyes stare back at me; when will they stop playing tricks on me? This isn’t the first shadow I’ve seen dashing about, but every time I try to chase after them, there’s nothing there. I’m obviously losing my mind.

Downstairs, I pop a waffle in the toaster and stare out the patio doors at the trees that line the back of our yard; but I’m not really watching the trees; I’m trying to convince my nerves that this school will be like every other new school I’ve attended my entire life. Only this time I don’t have my mother to send me off in the morning.

I snap out of my thoughts as the toaster pops.

Outside, my little four door hatchback sits in wait. Katya found it for sale at the side of the road and bought it for me my first day here. Its navy blue paint is peeling, and there’s a bumper sticker that says My Kid is a Greystone Grad, but now that I’m going to be a student there I may as well leave it. Plus I’ve never had my own car before; the freedom is exhilarating.

As I pull up to Greystone High I realize the concept of being normal is harder to carry out in person. The stone exterior of the school is as old as the rest of this coastal town; its interior was modern twenty years ago with its classic cement block walls and color themed lockers. The students are familiar with one another, as if they all grew up here in Greystone, Maine.

Most of them turn their heads as I walk down the hall, not even hiding their curiosity. As soon as I find my locker I duck my head inside and finally breathe. I expected things to be different. I should’ve known a new location wouldn’t change anything; being different is always the same, no matter where you go.

“You're new,” a boy’s voice comes from the locker next to mine.

I take a deep breath and grab my sketchbook with trembling hands, from my bag. "Sure am," I say turning, and walking away.

I hear his footsteps run after me. “Hey, I’m Brennan. Where'd you move from?”

“Hey,” I mimic him. “That's pretty personal when you don't even know my name.”

His eyes grow wide and a twinge of guilt pokes me in the gut. “I—,” Brennan stammers.

“California.”

He looks confused. “That’s your name?”

“You asked where I moved from. It's California. I’m Dacie.”

A smile jumps across his face showing small dimples on either side of his mouth. He’s kind of cute with his short brown hair and sparkly blue eyes, that match his jersey with the Greystone High logo; that is if you like that sort of jock look. It’s never been my thing, not like I’m an expert or anything. I’ve never dated anyone before. Not a hand held, first kiss, or grope. But hey, nothing screams normal like Mr. Football standing in front of me.

“Why would you move here?” he asks, still flashing that all-American smile.

There’s a question I’m not ready to answer. “Sorry, I-uh, have to go. I’m going to be late for Art class.”

“Come find me and my friends at lunch!” Brennan calls out as he backs into a group of girls who start squealing and hitting him with their books. I can’t help but smile.

I turn toward my classroom, but I’m just as clumsy as Brennan. As I turn around I run smack into someone. My sketchbook falls to the floor, scattering my drawings everywhere. I look up and see I’m leaning against the chest of a tall boy.

“Sorry,” he mumbles.

He kneels down to pick up my papers and I drop to the floor, grabbing them away from him. One of my bracelets falls off on the floor and he picks it up.

“It was my fault,” I say, stuffing them back in my book.

We both stand up at the same time, only inches apart, and so close I can see his chest move with every breath. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much contact with a boy before.

“No harm done.” He gives me a crooked smile and, is that an accent I hear? What is it? European? He holds the bracelet out to me, rousing me from my thoughts.

I stare at him for a moment. His hair is a little longer than I like, but it suits him as it falls into his eyes. What are they: green with flecks of brown and yellow like a starburst from his pupil? His jaw line has a slight shade of stubble on top of his tanned skin. He’s practically poetic; I finally exhale and can feel my face warm up from thinking about him.

“Thanks.” I grab the bracelet diverting all attention from my face.

“Shall we enter class?” Shall? Who says shall?

“Yes, please,” I say raising an eyebrow. The green hues in his eyes flicker for a moment with a hint of amusement. Is he laughing at me?

I put my head down and scoot past him, brushing my arm against his. My body tingles at the sensation of his skin. Enough, Dacie! I hurry to the first empty desk I see, which is close to the back; usually I chose a seat in the front row but right now my face is so flushed I need to hide.

But the boy follows and takes a seat behind me. I shift in my plastic seat and focus on the front of the room, but the hair on my neck raises, as if someone’s watching me.

My teacher is an older woman with curls so tight they create the impression of dreads around her freckled face. Her clothes are an odd assembly of ballet flats with gaucho slacks, topped with a frilly apron splattered in paint. She gives us a short lecture then has us begin working on pointillism. I check out some Escher and decide to sketch my hand. It’s not copying if I draw my own, right?

I struggle to make my fingers look real. They come out more sausage-like than human, which makes me frown. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get it right, and I’m not about to reference my Escher print again or I might as well just copy it. Half way through class I give up and look around; everyone else is working diligently on their pictures.

I peek over my shoulder to see what the boy is doing. I should have asked him his name. He’s sitting against the back of his chair with his arms crossed, staring at me. I spin back around, reaching for my pencil in an attempt to look busy and knock it off my desk. I scramble to grab it before it falls, but it hits the floor and rolls to the back of the class.

I turn my head after the pencil, and hang half way out of my desk to catch it. My fingers brush against the floor and a dark black boot stops it in the middle of the aisle. I follow the boot all the way up to the boy’s face. He lets a small smirk spread across his mouth. Wow, he’s fast.

I force a smile. “Thank you.” I sit up straight in my desk and spin around.

He leans over and grabs the pencil. “Anytime.” He sweeps his hair from his eyes and holds it out to me.

I get out of my desk and walk over to him. “Are you already done the project?” He nods. I look down at his drawing. What the—he’s drawn a picture of me as I was drawing. Even worse, it’s good, really good. My cheeks flash hot with irritation; I’m not sure if it’s from the invasion of privacy or pure jealousy. I manage to twist my face from a glower to a frown: “We were supposed to do pointillism.”

He keeps staring at me. “I saw something I liked more.”

A sharp pain stabs my gut and my face feels even hotter than it did a second ago. “Whatever,” I say as I grab my pencil and hurry to my desk.

Thankfully he does not attempt to talk to me the rest of class. When the bell rings he pauses at my desk still holding the drawing in his hand. I grab my things and leave as quickly as I can. I’m not interested in any explanations. Who does he think he is?

My next class is History, where I get a long-winded account of the colonization of Maine starting back in the 1600s. Lucky me, we’re going to move through the centuries. After that it’s Math and then finally lunch.

I throw my books in my locker and head for the cafeteria. I manage to find a sandwich and an apple that look edible but when I turn to look for a seat, I see Brennan standing up waving at me. I force a smile and wave back; pretending to be normal can’t be that hard, right? He’s sitting with another boy and two girls. The boy smiles at me and the girls just stare.

“Hey everyone, this is Dacie,” Brennan says.

I meet Zack, Sophie, and Chantal. Everyone has their perfectly normal names and is coupled up, in the order they are seated. They all wear smiles except for Chantal, who stares me down. I’m pretty sure she’s interested in Brennan, the way she keeps her eyes glued to him, but he seems oblivious as he sits next to her.

“Dacie moved here from California,” Brennan says, flashing me another one of his full face smiles.

Sophie flicks her long blond hair over her shoulder and laughs. “Ewww, why would you move here? It’s always so cloudy.”

“Long story,” I say, taking a bite of my sandwich.

Chantal rolls her eyes. “It’s so boring here, but you’re too new to know.”

I swallow my ham and cheese and shrug. “I’ve been here all summer.”

Brennan’s eyes light up. “Really? Where’ve you been hiding?”

“I live with my aunt up at the end of Marlborough Lane.”

“Oh my god,” Chantal says. Her mouth hangs open with a smile playing at the edge. “You’re her.”

Sophie shoots her a dirty look. “Shhh.” Chantal stares down at her lunch.

I raise an eyebrow. “What do you mean ‘her’?”

Sophie’s cheeks turn red. “We heard, you know, about your mom.”

My throat is suddenly dry and I have to force down my next swallow. “So everyone knows?”

“It is a small town,” Chantal says, staring at me.

“Okay, hold on everyone. Dacie, we just mean we didn’t know you’ve been here all this time. I would have come by to meet you.” He flashes me one of his full face smiles.

Right. Come meet the freak. I put my half eaten sandwich down on my tray and stand up. My chair scrapes against the floor, echoing in the cafeteria. It seems everyone around us has gone silent to listen in on our conversation.

“Don’t go,” Brennan says. The rest of the table looks away, except for Chantal.

“Sorry.” She doesn’t seem sincere.

“It’s fine. I just need some air.”

I take my tray and deposit it near the exit as I leave the cafeteria. As I go to push the doors open a black streak flies out of the corner of my eye. I know better, but still run after it. Nothing is there—argh!

The double doors to the cafeteria bang closed behind me as my frustration builds. I walk to a quiet corner and lean my back against the wall as I exhale. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath, again. Some girls giggle as they pass by. This normal thing sucks.

I close my eyes and think about my mom. Six months wasn’t long enough to numb the pain. The mention of her, and the fact everyone knows the story, stings like it did when I left the west coast. Now I want nothing more than to go back there. What’s the point of being here now if I can’t escape the past?

“You alright?” a familiar, accented voice comes from next to me.

I startle, opening my eyes and see the boy from art class. “I’m fine.”

I push myself from the wall and continue down the hallway to the doors outside. As I reach the exit, I turn and see him staring at me as I walk away. My body shivers from the cool fall air.

When the bell rings, I go back inside, making a b-line for my locker. A slip of white paper hangs halfway out of it. I pull it out and right away recognize it: it’s the picture of me from art class, but the boy who drew it is gone.

I stomp through the hallway, determined to find him but he’s nowhere to be seen. Brennan sees me and waves, but lowers his hand when I shoot him a glare. I ignore him and continue down the hallway. The second bell rings for classes and the hallway empties but I am too worked up to stay. I crumple up the paper and throw it in my backpack. Again I catch a black streak in the corner of my eye. I really need to get more sleep.
Melanie McFarlane is a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her YA debut There Once Were Stars, and her YA urban fantasy Summoner Rising.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.

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