Pride of a Viking (Viking Ancestors’ Kin #5) by Sky Purington

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Pride of a Viking
The MacLomain Series
Viking Ancestors’ Kin
Book Five
Sky Purington     
Genre: Time-Travel Fantasy/Shifter Romance
Date of Publication:  July 9, 2017
ASIN: B06Y5QQF6P
Number of pages: 260 pages
Word Count:  82,000
Cover Artist:  Tara West
Book Description:
Two men tore Erica’s world apart in another life. One was the man she loved and the other the enemy. Now both are back, and it’s up to her to make sure an ancient blood feud doesn’t destroy everyone she cares about. That means steering clear of her dragon mate. But sometimes memories are too strong and the past too powerful. Or so it seems when she slips back in time and ends up on an unexpected journey with a man she was determined to forget.
Having confronted who he once was and what he did in a previous life, Kodran Sigdir sets out to seek answers. He needs to better understand his part in an age old war and to keep his distance from Erica. They should remain apart. Yet destiny seems to be drawing him back to her. How he once felt. All he gave up. Could things go differently this time? Or will the risk to their people be too great? Find out as Erica, Kodran and their kin go up against the enemy one last time in Pride of a Viking, the epic conclusion of Viking Ancestors’ Kin.
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Excerpt:
“Are you sure
Hallstein was your mate in another life?” His eyes held hers as he spun her so
that they were facing each other. “Do you have memories of your time with him?”
He shook his head, spoke through clenched teeth and worked hard to keep rage
from taking over as he caught glimpses of what she had endured. “He did things
to you, Erica. Terrible things. Things that make no sense given you were
Maeva…his mate.”
She leaned back,
clenched her jaw and averted her eyes. “Yes, he was my mate. I’m sure of it.”
“Then why can’t
you look at me when you say that?” He tilted her chin until she had no choice
but to meet his eyes. “What aren’t you telling me? What’s the missing piece?”
He frowned. “Because something’s not adding up.”
“It doesn’t…you
just…” She frowned as well. “You need to let this go. You need to let me go.
It’s the only way this is going to work. It’s the only hope we have.”
“And where am I
supposed to let you go to?” He glanced around to remind her where they were
before his eyes returned to hers. “Because it’s out of my control, yes?”
“You know what I
mean.”
“Do I?” He
stepped a bit closer and never removed his fingers from her chin. “Because as
far as I can tell you want me to believe you desire Hallstein when that’s the
furthest thing from the truth. I think you’re trying to push me away so that
you can somehow save everyone all on your own.”
Because he was
remembering his last life, he remembered what Maeva had looked like. While they
shared the same tall, lithe build with curves in all the right places, he found
Erica more stunning in this life. Her eyes were varying shades of striking
green that seemed to shift with her mood, and her warm skin tone was luminous.
He wanted to feel her soft skin against him. Touch every last inch of her.
She went very
still as their eyes held. Or so one would think if they couldn’t detect the
slight tremor that went through her. Shivers that only translated to another
dragon. He also noticed that she had gone from momentarily vulnerable to
completely closed off despite her physical reaction.
“You’re good at
that,” he murmured, shifting even closer to see if he could bring out that
tremor even more. “Trying to be strong for everyone else all the time. How long
have you played that part?” While he should have remained compassionate and
thankful, his inner dragon was flaring. The jealousy that reared whenever he
thought about her in the enemy’s arms. “How long have you been playing the part
of a woman trying to convince Hallstein that you’re his? How long have you
been—”
“No,” she cut
him off, yanked her chin away and narrowed her eyes. “What I’ve done to help
our people is not because—”
“Because you’re
meant to be together?” he cut her off just as readily, as he turned things
around on her. “Because you’re not, are you?” He shook his head and narrowed
his eyes as well. “You’re not supposed to be with him.” His voice dropped to a
whisper as the truth hovered just out of reach. Like a memory he was right on
the verge of remembering. “You never were, but something happened…”
Something he
needed to understand, so he thought fast. If one thing had been proven true
with his kin and their mates it was that intimacy seemed to speed up their
mental connections. So why not get things moving in that direction?
It seemed Erica
followed his line of thought because a moment later she started to move away
but he caught her. With an arm around her lower back, he yanked her against
him, cupped the back of her neck and kissed her.


The moment he
did, everything changed. 
About the Author:
 
Sky Purington is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and several novellas. A New Englander born and bred who recently moved to Virginia, Sky was raised hearing stories of folklore, myth and legend. When combined with a love for nature, romance and time-travel, elements from the stories of her youth found release in her books.
Purington loves to hear from readers and can be contacted at Sky@SkyPurington.com.
Interested in keeping up with Sky’s latest news and releases? Visit Sky’s website, http://www.skypurington.com to download her free App on iTunes and Android or sign up for her quarterly newsletter. Love social networking? Find Sky on Facebook and Twitter.
Website:   www.skypurington.com

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Game on Askole (Coletti Warlords #7) by Gail Koger

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Blurb Blitz Tour & #Giveaway: Game on Askole by Gail Koger

Genre: Science Fiction/Romance

Published on: July 11th, 2017

Series: Coletti Warlords #7

Purchase Links

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Blurb:

Tihar travels to Earth to find and claim a Jones’ female. He knows they are fearless, psychic warriors and talented in bed sport. Ten minutes after meeting Sarah, Tihar knows the feisty, little human is the one he has been searching for. Now he must convince Sarah, she’s meant to be his.

The first-time Sarah sees Tihar, she’s a bit freaked out. The Askole warrior has tentacles, snakelike features and black armored-plated skin. Even weirder she finds him strangely attractive. Tihar’s torso is sculpted perfection and his black scales are kind of sexy. Who knew challenging Tihar to combat would start the Askole mating dance. He thinks Earth girls are easy and he’s about to learn messing with a Jones female is never a good idea.

As the two grow closer, their romance comes to a screeching halt when Askole rebels attack Tihar’s home world. He tells Sarah she is his heart’s destiny and he will love her to the end of time. He abruptly severs their mental bond and disappears. Reeling from shock, Sarah won’t let a galactic war stop her from hunting him down. Can the two of them find their way back into each other’s arms?

EXCERPT:

Poof! A tall, stick thin Coletti female wearing a pointy metal hat and bronze breastplate over a screaming red body suit appeared on the terrace and surveyed us like we were dog poop she had accidently stepped in.

“Say howdy to Lilkee, the paranoid whack job.” I waved at her all friendly like. “Lookin’ for your death bringers?”

She totally ignored me and drew her sword. Lilkee’s entire focus was on Detja. If looks could kill, Detja would be toes up.

“Lilkee,” Detja said, her voice terse and unfriendly. “Zarek is not here.”

The whack job smirked and stroked the hilt of her gem encrusted sword. “I know. I came to see the pitiful female your half-breed son has chosen.”

“Half-breed? Pitiful?” Kaylee narrowed her eyes. “One more insult and that skinny bitch is gonna get her ass kicked.”

“We’ll help,” I said.

Her lips curled in contempt, Lilkee examined Kaylee from head to toe. “You are nothing, but a filthy little primitive whose pathetic planet Malik plans to wipe from existence.”

“The only one being wiped from existence is Malik.” Kaylee stood. “If you’re a smart girl, you’ll leave now, before I beat the living shit out of you.”

“I am Coletti, daughter of Zarek. You could never defeat me,” Lilkee said proudly.

Kaylee punched her hard in the mouth, knocking her down. “Wanna bet?”

Two dozen Genghis Khan wannabes appeared around us.

“Oh, hell.” I grabbed a butter knife off the table.

“Kill them,” the whack job commanded.

AUTHOR BIO

Howdy. My name is Gail Koger and once upon a time I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher. Too many years of wild requests, screwy questions, bizarre behavior and outrageous demands have left me with a permanent twitch and an uncontrollable craving for chocolate. I took up writing science fiction romance to keep from killing people. So far, it has worked.

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The Caging at Deadwater Manor by Sandie Will

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The Caging at Deadwater Manor

by Sandie Will

Genre: YA/NA Psychological Thriller/Suspense

Release Date: March 31st 2017


Summary:


Time is running out for Jeannie, a young girl taken against her will by staff at Deadwater Manor – a psychiatric hospital with an unscrupulous past. Inspired by true events, this is a captivating story where Jeannie shares her heart-wrenching experience while undergoing treatments that will make you cringe.


On a cold, January evening, fourteen-year-old Jeannie Kynde is told that her beloved mother drowned in the murky waters along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Her distraught father turns on Jeannie, no longer the caring father she once knew.
Four years later, Jeannie is finally old enough to escape her father’s clutches, but he has different plans. He imprisons her at Deadwater Manor, a psychiatric hospital with an unscrupulous past.
Will she be locked away forever? Or can she fight against the nightmare that has now become her world?  
 
Buy Links:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XRJMJBB

Universal ebook link (international): books2read.com/u/me0vgZ


Note from the Author:
Hi everyone! I am a thriller/suspense Indie author. I write primarily in the YA/NA genre. My debut, The Caging at Deadwater Manor, was just released on March 31 and was written for mature young adults (16+) and older. This book has been professionally edited and the cover was done by a professional artist. I strive to provide high-quality books that stay with you – so I hope you’ll find it an enjoyable read. The story evolved from experiences my dad had during short periods of his career at psychiatric hospitals. He shared patient routines, treatments, hospital layouts and stories, but the book primarily evolved from a discovery he made in the atticsomething that unnerved me enough to bring this book to life. Though the story is fiction, I’ve intertwined much of the information shared by my dad and research I performed while writing this book.

Excerpt:
I smile as I think of her, until my concentration is interrupted by footsteps coming down the hallway. I quickly look over to see if it’s my aunt.
It isn’t.
Instead, a male attendant greets me. His name badge identifies him as Drake.
“You’re Jean Kynde?” he inquires.
I nod.      
“Follow me, then.”
I follow him down the hallway to the wooden door I saw earlier and enter. This room is much larger than the reception area with pink walls and white accents. To the left is a glass office; a semi-circle nurses’ station. A couple rows of tables with metal chairs are scattered about, and a steel water fountain is stationed at the other side of the room.
Drake pulls out a chair for me and assures me he’ll be right back. As I wait for my aunt, I try to imagine how it would feel to be locked up with a guard on every corner.
I wonder if my aunt feels like a prisoner. Why in the world did she agree to come here?
My attention is soon drawn to a commotion outside the same door I entered. I listen, but all I can hear is some mumbling, perhaps arguing.
Eventually, another man comes through the door. He appears to be older, with gray hair and eyebrows and sagging skin on his neck. As he approaches, I can see the script writing on his lab coat.
Doctor Garrett Wiggins; this is Dad’s friend. Okay, so I’m in the right spot.
“Jeannie, correct?”
“Uh, yes. I’m here to see my aunt. Have you talked to my dad?”
“Yes, he’s been telling me about some issues.”
“Yeah, well, I guess my aunt had a nervous breakdown.”
“Aunt?”
“Yes, Lesley Odell. You have her chart there, right?”
He looks at me for a few seconds and then looks away, unable to find words. He pauses. I’m not sure what is going on, but I don’t like the uneasiness I’m feeling right now. I’m getting that gut feeling that something is wrong.
Did she die?
He pulls his chair closer to me like a true friend would. In a caring voice, he says softly, “Your aunt is not here.”
I stare at him blankly for a second and then ask, “What? What do you mean? She’s gone already or—or worse?” The reality of the situation starts to take hold as racing thoughts of never seeing her again start scaring me.
He touches my arm for a second and says, “Jeannie, listen to me carefully.” I try to focus more on his mouth, since my difficulty in hearing is worsened by the tall ceiling in the room. “Your aunt was never here.”
The racing thoughts stop. I look at him dead seriously, trying to figure out what the hell he’s telling me.
Is she dead or not?
I look toward the table for a minute, not sure what he’s going to tell me next.
She’s dead? She’s alive? She’s somewhere else? She’s a fucking FBI agent? What’s going on?
“What do you mean? Where is she?” I finally manage.
“I don’t really know. There’s no record of her here. What I want to concentrate on is you, now. How do you feel about this?”
 I frown and mumble, “Confused.”
He nods and says sincerely, “It’s understandable especially with the recent loss of your mom.” At least, I think that’s what he said.
I watch him, trying to figure out why we’re having this conversation. I don’t know how my dad knows this doctor, but his fake sincerity is not calming me. I glance over to the wooden door, and there are now two guards standing in front of them, one of which I recognize as Drake. Another door on the opposite side of the room opens, and two more guards move in.
This definitely doesn’t feel right.
“Hey, they’re just here for your protection,” the doctor says. I lean back in my chair, as he moves forward and whispers, “No worries.” His breath puffs across my hair, leaving me with a gift of strong cigarette stench. I try to lean back more but feel pinned. This guy does not know his boundaries. He starts stroking my arm in what seems like an attempt to comfort me, but it only makes me panic more. I can feel my palms moistening with every word.
“Is it okay if we talk for a while? I’d like to get to know you a little more, Jeannie. I’ve always heard your dad’s side of things, but the opportunity to hear your side is what’s important now. Why don’t we have you go relax in another room, and then you can come into my office a little later?”
I try hard not to show the panic that’s now taking over, hiding what I can of my heaving chest. It feels difficult to breathe with the short, shallow breaths that are now uncontrollable.
I’m going to have a panic attack.
I’m so screwed.
I look over to the guards, begging them not to force me behind the walls that will separate me from the rest of the world. I frantically search for a way to get myself out of what I know is inevitable, but it’s useless with all the guards.
I’m going to become the prisoner. I’m going to become the next rumor throughout the school.
It’s all part of a calculated plot my dad would be proud of. This is his victory—a victory that includes my never leaving Deadwater or having a life, even if he won’t be a part of it. As long as he knows where I am, he’ll be happy. I close my eyes in disgust, concerned about what I’m about to endure. I hate the unknown, but this is way beyond what any eighteen-year-old should have to experience.
“Jeannie, you still with me?” the doctor asks.
I look up at the cohort who is now starting to tug at my forearm.
“I think we need to get you comfortable.”
I frown between the doctor and the guards. They both come forward to “help” me. Gasping for air, I throw my chair backwards to try the only path of escape I can think of, but they’re too fast and catch the chair before I hit the ground.
“No! I am not going anywhere with you! I’m not a minor and my dad can’t institutionalize me without my consent. Let me out of here!”
“Well, Miss Kynde, you just signed all the consents. There’s nothing illegal here.”
What starts as a rational protest spirals out of control quickly. Panic sets in. I’m crying, screaming, and clawing at them. I try to kick their groins, but they predict that move and easily pin my legs to the chair.
I start breathing heavier now. Panic takes over, and I’m quickly losing control.
“Get the syringe!” orders Doctor Wiggins, pointing to the table next to the water fountain.
Drake holds out one of my arms and lunges backward for the syringe with his other arm, knocking the table over.
Oh, God! Get me out of here!
Drake is grasping for the syringe on the floor, so I take the opportunity to bite his forearm, causing him to bleed and withdraw his clutch. This does nothing but make things worse for me, though. Drake leaps toward me, pinning the back of my head against his stomach muscles. My free arm flails back and forth, as I try to reach something to use to hit him.
It’s no use.
Frantically, the doctor kicks the syringe toward Drake, and I watch in horror when the needle roughly enters my vein.

 

About the Author

Sandie Will is a young adult novelist who lives in Tampa Bay, Florida and works as a manager and geologist by day. She has written two novels and is currently working on her third. Her first novel, The Caging at Deadwater Manor, is a young adult psychological thriller that will be released on March 31, 2017. Her second is a time travel and her third will be another psychological thriller. She has been married to her husband, Charlie, for 30 years and they have two sons. Their home has been blessed by many laughs, hugs and one-too-many beer pong parties with college friends.
Author Links:
        

Star Binder by Robert Appleton

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Star Binder

by Robert Appleton

Genre: YA Scifi

Release Date; July 11th 2017


Summary from Goodreads:


Born on the streets. Made in the stars.

Under constant threat of invasion, the future of mankind’s colonies is uncertain. Enter Jim Trillion and his best friend, Sergei, two young grifters scraping a living in the oases resorts of Mars. Their dreams might be big but their prospects are shrinking one petty crime at a time. Their luck is running out.

But after saving the life of a famous explorer, they receive the invitation of a lifetime–the chance to join a mysterious top secret academy and one day see the galaxy. If only it were that simple. The massing alien threat, Jim’s unknown past, and the key to reaching the stars all propel them on a journey of self-discovery into the thrilling and terrifying unknown. There the ultimate prize awaits, a prize that could change everything: the Star Binder. 

 

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 EXCERPT
“All they said was we’ll be spending a lot of time in here,” Lyssa replies. “Classes are on the bottom five floors, morning and mid-afternoon, but the rest of the time we’ll be in here. And they told us to mingle. That suggests teaming up, doesn’t it?”
“For what?”
“I told you I don’t know. We’re stuck here. Let’s at least do something.” She puffs her cheeks and blows a slow, cherry-flavoured breath onto the digitab. Nothing happens to the screen, but I end up snorting a laugh. She’s just so jaded and honest and bored by the whole thing; it’s the opposite of what buggos are supposed to be like.
“All right, you go first.” I motion at the stream of aimless, gormless candidates passing behind her. They’re not interacting with each other; all they’re doing is walking in continuous loops around the Hex, weaving in and out of the various apparatuses, looking but not engaging. “See who can come up with the best way of recruiting a teamie,” I add.
The sparkle in her eyes and the wicked grin twisting her lips tell me I’ve already lost this game. But one thing she doesn’t know is I’m a skimmer. A career skimmer. Craftiness is my trade. And I had one heckuva teacher.
“Our goal is to fill the other four seats,” she says, pivoting her head this way and that in the search for fresh fish. “But they can’t be all boys or all girls. Let’s make it interesting: you have to recruit at least one girl, and I have to recruit at least one guy.”
She’s ready to jump up and start when I add my own condition: “And here’s the best part: we’re not allowed to leave our seats.”
“What? Then how do we—”
“Figure it out as we go,” I remind her.
She playfully narrows her eyes at me, then, with a crack of her knuckles, gets down to business. She sticks her pinkies in her mouth and lets loose an impressive whistle that stops everyone on this side of the arena dead in their tracks. I feel like hiding under the table, but I’ve promised not to leave my seat.
Lyssa crooks her finger at one boy, bats her eyelashes at another. She pats the seat next to her, waves, pouts, even strikes a desperate fashion model pose to beckon people over. But no one takes her on. It’s either the funniest thing I’ve ever seen or the most pathetic.
She finally folds her arms and gives up. “What’s wrong with them? Was I that bad?”
“Not bad. Just not good enough.”
“Okay, hotshot, let’s see you do any better.”
I pretend to roll up my sleeves. “You can’t leave them to make the decision; you have to make it for them. Watch and learn.” I tug a girl’s arm as she passes. She pulls away. Flips me off.
“Suave,” says Lyssa.
“Shut it.”
After seeing that altercation, the other buggos instinctively keep their distance, so I’m forced to resort to more creative methods of getting their attention. Before I can stop myself I’ve thrown a fistful of sand that showers at least five people. At least I have their attention—and the cumulative hostility of a five-strong stink-eye.
This is harder than I thought. So I cup my hands into a loudspeaker: “Listen up. The next one who sits at this table gets ten credits.” I might not have shouted loud enough, so I repeat the offer.
Not a single customer.
“He means twenty credits,” Lyssa bids, and flicks her eyebrows up at me.
Still no takers.
“Fifty,” I add. Nothing.
“One hundred?” She ups the volume. “Trillion here will pay one hundred clips to whoever sits at his table. And he’ll do all your homework for the next three—”
“Lyssa Van Buren has promised to snog anyone who joins our team. Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter. Believe me, it’s worth it.”
Her half-scream, half-laugh—while pulling at her own hair—leaves me in stitches. She’s about to jump across the table and probably beat me to a pulp when someone catches her eye, and she composes herself.

 

About the Author
Robert Appleton is an English author of science fiction, steampunk and historical fiction. He has written for Harlequin Carina Press, Samhain, and various other publishers. In his free time he hikes, plays soccer, and kayaks whenever he can. His favourite books and movies, like his own fiction, usually take place in the distant past or the far future. The night sky is his inspiration.
Author Links:

 

   
 
 
 

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate the launch of Star Binder, I’m giving away five copies of the brand new Kindle eBook. To enter, all you have to do is email me at robertappleton7@outlook.com with STAR BINDER GIVEAWAY as the title, then tell me the name of  the book or movie that first made you fall in love with science fiction. Easy as that. I’ll pick my favourites on July 31st and contact the winners directly. Good luck!

 

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I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

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I Stop Somewhere

by T.E. Carter

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction

Release Date: February 27th 2018

Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)


Summary from Goodreads:


THE LOVELY BONES meets ALL THE RAGE in a searing, heartbreaking contemporary story of a lost teenager, and the town she leaves behind.

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But then the unthinkable happens and Ellie is trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture but also makes you slow down and think about what it is to be human.  


Pre-Order your copy HERE!


Excerpt:
It was three days into school and my locker was stuck. I figured I had the combination wrong and tried again, but it wouldn’t open. The late August day was too warm and sweat was spilling down my new shirt. The school didn’t want to spring for air conditioning, so we finished the day with our clothes stuck to us.
“Having trouble?” He leaned against my locker with all the confidence in the world. I’d seen him a few times. We weren’t in classes together, but he’d smiled at me every day because his math class was across the hall from mine. On the first day, he’d winked at me. On the second day, he’d commented on my shirt. It was self-deprecating – a shirt that mocked my introversion by claiming reading the shirt was enough social interaction for a day. We’d run into each other in the hall between classes and he’d laughed at it. And said I was too cute to be antisocial.
And now he stood at my locker, smiling at me while I tried to get it open.
“My locker’s stuck,” I told him. It was obvious since I was pulling on it, but I told him anyway.
“You’re new here.” A statement, not a question.
“Sort of. I mean, I’ve lived here forever. But here, yeah. I went to St. Elizabeth’s.”
He pushed me to the side. “Cool. I’m Caleb.” Punching the bottom right of the metal door, he simultaneously spun the dial into place. It opened on the first try. “Sometimes you gotta rough ‘em up a bit. They’re tricky like that.”
“Ellie. I mean, you didn’t ask, but I’m Ellie.”
He leaned back against the locker beside mine while I found my books. Three days and I already had a bag full of homework.
“Nice to officially meet you, Ellie. Elusive girl from the hallway.”
“I’m not elusive. That’s where my class is,” I said.
He laughed as if I was the most hilarious person he’d ever met. “Yeah. So, Miss Not Elusive, what’re you doing now?”
He wasn’t exactly attractive. There was something wrong about the way he moved, the way he smiled. Everything about Caleb was off somehow. He was tall, but he walked like he’d woken that morning into his tallness and now he couldn’t figure out how to get his body to work the same way.
There was also the way he smiled. It was cute, but it had this way about it. Like he’d learned about smiling from a textbook. The idea of smiling came through, but it seemed like he just followed the directions rather than actually smiled.
“I… um, nothing really. I have to read.”
We had a test Monday on summer reading, which I’d put off all summer to work on reinvention.
“What’re you reading?” He took my bag from me and rummaged through it. “Great Expectations? They’re still teaching this crap, huh?”
“Aren’t you, like, a junior?”
“Yeah. How’d you guess?”
I hadn’t had to guess. It had been three days, but everyone knew Caleb and his older brother, Noah; you didn’t need friends to know who they were. They walked through the school like the only people who’d ever mattered. It was probably true. 

 

About the Author
TE Carter was born in New England and has lived in New England for pretty much her entire life. Throughout her career, she’s done a lot of things, although her passion has always been writing. When she’s not writing, she can generally be found reading classic literature, obsessing over Game of Thrones (she’s one hundred percent Team Lannister), playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge watching baking competitions. She continues to live in New England with her husband and their two cats.
 

 

Author Links:

    



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Withhold (Mosaic Chronicles #9) by Andrea Pearson

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Withhold
Mosaic Chronicles
Book Nine
Andrea Pearson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Andrea Pearson
Date of Publication: July 18, 2017
ASIN: B072BFQ1QX
Word Count: 50,000
Cover Artist: Andrea Pearson
Book Description:
With the lives of everyone she holds dear at stake, will Nicole be able to do what it takes to stop the evil surrounding her?
In the ultimate battle between good and evil, Nicole is in a race to stop Keitus before he achieves his plans. If he succeeds, he will crush everyone who has opposed him and enslave Earth and countless other planets. Unfortunately, he is only minutes away from his goal.
With so much at stake, Nicole and her friends must approach Helen, a volatile and dangerous spirit who will probably destroy them regardless of whether she gives them what they want. And the chances of her helping them are slim.
Fast-paced and epic magical fights, exciting plot twists, and non-stop action and adventure await. So sit down, buckle up, and hold on for the explosive, much-anticipated conclusion to the award-winning and bestselling Mosaic Chronicles.
Tagline: With the lives of everyone she holds dear at stake, will Nicole be able to do what it takes to stop the evil surrounding her?
Amazon      Nook       iBooks      Kobo      Goodreads
About the Author:
Andrea Pearson is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who plays several instruments, not including the banjo. She is the author of many full-length novels and novellas. Writing is the chocolate of her life – it is, in fact, the only thing she ever craves. Being with her family is where she’s happiest, and she loves thunderstorms, the ocean, hiking, public speaking, painting, and traveling.
Tour Giveaway/Bonus
 
Readers-  To receive your download bonuses, forward your proof of download (a
confirmation email or a screenshot) to withholdbonuses@gmail.com
Bonuses include:
Discern and Praxis (first two
books in the series)
Hope(less) and (Mis)fortune by Melissa Haag
Nemesis by KJ Pike
A fantasy book by Bryan Cohen (title forthcoming)
Bachelor of science degree from Katon University
(the university characters attend to learn magic)
Coloring pages
Word search
Fantasy illustration by Andrea’s husband (James E.
Curwen, professional illustrator)

 

Maps illustrated by Andrea and her husband

 

The Dragon’s Playlist by Laura Bickle

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The Dragon’s Playlist
Laura Bickle
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
 
ISBN: 9781537891965
From the author of THE HALLOWED ONES and NINE OF STARS comes a new novel blending the magical and the real…
“This is war,” the dragon said. And she believed him.
Di fled rural West Virginia to study music and pursue a bright future as a violinist. But when a mining accident nearly kills her father, she is summoned back home to support her family. Old ghosts and an old flame emerge from the past. When Di gets a job as a bookkeeper at the same mine where her father worked, she is drawn into a conflict pitting neighbor against neighbor as the mine plans an expansion to an untouched mountain.
If the mining company’s operation goes forward, there will be more at stake than livelihoods or the pollution of the land: Di has discovered a dragon lives deep within Sawtooth Mountain, and he is not happy with this encroachment upon his lair. When catastrophe strikes, Di must choose between her family’s best interests and protecting the dragon – the last surviving bit of magic in Di’s shrinking world.
In every fight, sides are chosen. And there can be no yearning for what has been left behind.
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About the Author:
 
Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.
More information about Laura’s work can be found at 
 
 

Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman

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Ninja Girl
by Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 30th 3017

Summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard.


ON SALE FOR ONLY $0.99 UNTIL JUNE 19TH!

Buy Link: Amazon  


Excerpt
I stood up suddenly, needing to do…something. I knew what she was saying was total crap. I knew Nara was pure evil, and I didn’t have to prove anything to her. But right then I needed to prove something to myself. I was a girl dammit, and I wasn’t boring. I was a force.
Just like Bruce.
“Snow, what’s up?” Min asked, but instead of answering I headed in the opposite direction. While the others had been taking stock of hoodie guy, I’d been getting a read on his security. They were too far back to stop me. Part of me wanted to test them—to test me—and see if I could do this and still get away. I figured I had about a minute tops, but that’s all I’d need.
One last look over my shoulder told me all three girls were staring at me, mouths gaping, even Nara. Boring, she’d said earlier. I’d give her boring.
Taking a deep breath, I kept walking until I was almost even with hoodie guy’s seat, placed my hand on the chair back and swung my body over—right into his lap. Over his shoulder, I saw his security react. Too late.
He gasped, but I didn’t have time to explain.
“Sorry about this,” I whispered right before sealing my lips to his.
I’d taken him by surprise—that much was clear from the way his body tensed beneath mine. But he wasn’t trying to push me off. I’d intended it to be quick. A single brush with danger, a nod to teen girl impulsiveness, but the way his mouth melted under mine was unexpected. I fisted my hands in his shirt, pulling him closer. My lips, my entire body, went up in flames, but I couldn’t get close enough. It wasn’t until his hands came around my back that I remembered myself.
Pulling away, I came face-to-face with the greenest eyes I’d ever seen.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered again.
“I’m not,” he said.

 And then his guards grabbed me.

 

 

About the Author
 
Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE is out now!
   



NINJA GIRL Book Playlist
“Ho Hey” by The Lumineers
“I Am the Best” by 2NE1
“Sparks Fly” by Taylor Swift
“Fans” by Kings of Leon
“My Chick Bad” by Ludacris & Nicki Minaj
“In For The Kill” (Skrillex Remix) by La Roux
“Lies” by BIGBANG
“Someone Like You” by Adele
“Miss Atomic Bomb” by The Killers
“Crazy” by Patsy Cline
“I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline
“Call Your Girlfriend” (live) by Lennon and Maisy Stella
“Marry You” by Bruno Mars
“Come By Fire” by Sara Jackson-Holman
“Little Bit” by Lykke Li
“Emmylou” by First Aid Kit
 
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Tethered (Intertwined #2) by Jenn Marie

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Tethered (Intertwined Series #2)

by Jenn Marie

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Release Date: July 16th 2017



Summary:


A previous lifetime. A malevolent curse. A love they can’t live without. Will their past claim them once more? Elizabeth and Adam are about to find out …
 
Elizabeth and Adam survived the century old curse that nearly claimed the lives of their counterparts, Josephine and Braden, but at what cost? 
 
As the veil between timelines continues to diminish, they yet again find themselves in a race against time to cheat death in the past in order to salvage their futures. But with the curse given form, everything is changing, leaving them vulnerable to new threats. No longer are the dangers of their former lifetime contained to the Jefferson Plantation—a land fraught with peril and where horror reigns every summer between July 20 and August 13.
 
Until now …
 
Having changed the past, history has rewritten itself, extending the last day of the haunting to August 31—their new expiration date. Without the aid of visions, though, Elizabeth and Adam must find a new way to uncover their past, leaving Adam to scour the plantation for clues, while Elizabeth learns how to access Josephine’s subconscious.
 
Meanwhile, the Callahans—a vengeful family intent on keeping Elizabeth and Adam apart—will stop at nothing to preserve their bloodline and keep the curse from destroying their family. Will their ruthless antics prove tragic once more?
 
Now more than ever, their love will be tested as Elizabeth and Adam contend with the forces of the curse and fight to save their counterparts in 1905.
 
Will they overcome the odds stacked against them? Or will the curse claim them for good?
 
 
Pre-Order Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKKobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks  

 
Excerpt:
A six-inch blade gleamed in the trick of
light, the hilt carved in the shape of two snakes wrapped around each other so
that their heads formed an S on either side of the serrated steel.
A deadly weapon for more reasons than one.
First—this blade wasn’t just any blade.
This was the very dagger Josephine had plunged into her chest back in 1905. The
very blade that had ripped her delicate flesh apart and taken the life that
Braden—I—hadn’t been able to save.
The very dagger Josephine had wielded in order to seal the curse that would
resurrect us. Save us.
Save
me
.
Second—this blade was no longer where it
should be. It wasn’t in the depths of an underground tunnel like it had been
this morning. It was no longer lodged inside Josephine’s chest like it had been
for the past century. The dagger was free—to be wielded, to be taken, to be
used against her, but worst of all, to destroy her. Josephine would never
forgive herself. She was giving the dagger too much power. Power to strip away
the woman Braden had only just begun to reignite. If she did this, he would
lose whatever remnants of her fragile spirit he’d managed to stitch back
together again. And yet, for all she had sacrificed, he was still powerless to
save her. He’d tried. I’d tried. But
it hadn’t been enough. Whatever Braden had done to rescue Josephine from that
tunnel had still led to their separation. And now here she was, faced with the
only option at her disposal.
Murder.
I felt it in my fingertips, in the
uncontrollable sweep of my hand as I swept the paintbrush over the papered wall
of my bedroom. The viper within shivered and undulated, my skin expanding,
stretching over my forearm. It sensed everything Josephine was feeling and
pushed those thoughts straight to my fingertips where my only choices were to
resist—and suffer immense pain as a result—or surrender to the creature within
and become one with Josephine’s mind, heart, and soul. Even separated by a
lifetime, I felt her inner turmoil like a knife to the gut. She was hurting.
She was scared. She was desperate. But as the image before me unraveled, I
could see that she was icing over. Becoming numb. Fuck, Josephine, don’t do this.
Sweat dribbled down my forehead, stinging
my eyes.
My blood was hot, my body trembling with
the effort to stay upright. The viper released me, collapsing me to my knees. I
hung my head. I didn’t want to see what I already knew she was thinking.
Breathing hard, I lifted my gaze to the wall—to the painting of Josephine.
She sat on the window ledge of her
bedroom, her long, wavy hair wild around her shoulders. She was still in her
wedding dress. Soaked. Tattered. Her eyes stared straight ahead, which I knew
from this angle meant she was either staring at a closed door or at someone
standing in it. One knee was drawn to her chest, the dagger’s tip poised upon
it, the hilt held loosely between her thumb and forefinger. A calculated
movement that promised bloodshed. She was the definition of fierce. The epitome
of destruction. She would harm anyone who stood between her and saving Braden.
The man she loved. The man I used to be.
In 1905.
Black paint ran in swerving rivulets to
the floor. I clenched my fists, breathing hard, my shirt drenched against my
feverish skin. It was my fault. If I hadn’t hesitated, if I hadn’t second-guessed—I
released a sharp breath, furious with myself. Had I listened, none of this
would’ve happened. Josephine wouldn’t be in this position now, and Braden
wouldn’t be imprisoned.
Again. I had to fix this.
The rickety drone of the floor fan filled
the empty silence that threatened to consume me. It blew the papers at my
knees, making me look down. Charcoaled eyes stared up at me. Sad. Volatile.
Beautiful as hell. My body shook with the urge to find Elizabeth—Josephine’s
current incarnation—here, now, in 2014. If Josephine planned to do what I
suspected, what I sensed, then
Elizabeth would be prone to do the same. But maybe that wasn’t true anymore.
Elizabeth wasn’t as susceptible to Josephine as she’d once been. Not after
today. Not after what she’d done to save us. She was stronger now. But was she
stronger than Josephine?
I glanced out the window, at the rippling
creek that led to Elizabeth’s home only five doors down. I took an involuntary
step toward the door.
Yes.
I believed in her, goddamn it.

If anyone could stop Josephine, it was
Elizabeth.




Book One in the Series (click on image for Goodreads link):

 
 
About the Author
Jenn Marie currently lives in sunny California with her wonderful husband and their runt kitty, Chloe. When she’s not writing Young Adult Fiction, she can be found reading, plotting or spending time with her crazy, lovable family. Current obsessions include the movie, Frozen, the New Girl series, Arcade Fire’s latest album, and avocados. Seriously, she can’t get enough of it! Writing, for her, is a passion that refuses to be under prioritized. No matter what’s going on in her life, whether good or bad, writing is always there to lift her spirits.
Author Links:

    

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Slivers (Prospero Chronicles #3) by F.J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter

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Slivers (The Prospero Chronicles #3)

by Fiona J.R. Titchenell& Matt Carter

Genre: YAHorror/Scifi

Release date: June 20th 2017

Summary:

Ben

Growing up is hard, and growing up in Prospero is even harder, but I think we manage. I mean, yeah, my friends and I spend more of our time fighting a race of shapeshifting aliens than we do hanging out, but we have our fun. We go to parties, help each other with our classes, maybe even fall in love…

I’ve no illusions that we live ordinary lives, but they’re our lives, and I’m going to make sure we make the most of them whether the Splinters want us to or not.
Mina

The truce is temporary. We will not humor the Splinters forever. It’s only until the Slivers can be stopped, until the army of Shards being planted among our classmates can be disassembled, until we get our hands on the thing I’d almost given up believing in.

The humanity test.

For the chance to know, once and for all, who can be trusted, some dealings with monsters must be excusable. Inevitable. Just like this feeling between Ben and me.

And that has to be temporary too.

 
Buy links: AmazonBarnes & Noble (Nook) | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords | Indigo

Excerpt:
1. Sabotage
Ben
At the time, my instincts told me that jumping onto the hood of a moving SUV was a brilliant idea.
After half a second of trying to find something to hold onto, I told myself I’d reconsider my instincts when I got out of this.
If I got out of this.
A voice in my ear—I hadn’t lost my Bluetooth after all. Haley’s voice, by the angry sound of it.
“Ben, what the hell are you doing?”
“I have no idea!” I yelled back, finally grabbing the roof rack with both hands and holding on for dear life, doing my best to block the windshield. The driver accelerated down the empty suburban street, jerking the wheel back and forth, trying to shake me off. I knew behind the tinted glass of this anonymous, plateless SUV were the gray faces of Slivers. Today they were supposed to be kidnapping one of Prospero High School’s nicest teachers from her home, and we were going to stop them. It wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, but we’d done it before and should’ve been able to do it again.
I looked to the sidewalks, trying to spot any other members of the Network.
There was a heavy blow against the windshield near my chest. The tinted glass spiderwebbed beneath me. The Slivers were trying to break through.
Not for the first time, I cursed The Owl.
“Everybody close on the house! They’re still on the move!” Courtney called over the party line.
“Where’s that spike strip?” Haley asked.
“About twenty feet behind Ben before he decided to go Shatner on us,” Greg answered.
The spiderweb of glass expanded as the Sliver continued to force its way through.
The next voice was impossibly calm. “If we can stop this vehicle, there’s every chance we can capture multiple Slivers at once in addition to preventing Ms. Craven’s abduction. Ben, do you think you can slow them down?”
Mina Todd.
She always asked for the impossible so reasonably.
The windshield broke open in front of me, safety glass exploding outward as a long, muscular arm with a seven-fingered, clawed hand burst through. It raked back and forth, opening up a large gash in the glass that allowed me to see the three Slivers inside. They were of slight frame with gray, hairless heads and bulging black eyes, and they had begun sprouting extra limbs and tentacles to better mangle me.
“I’ll try,” I said, diving into the jagged hole where the windshield used to be.
Their brief, startled pause before attacking was all I needed.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out one of the cheap stun guns Mina loved to make out of disposable cameras and jammed it into the driver’s chest. The creature shuddered violently, jerking the wheel to the side and stomping on the gas reflexively.
I forced the gearshift into neutral and pulled on the parking brake. The SUV lurched to a violent stop in the middle of the street.
So far so good.
Less good was the sound of snapping wood that came from the passenger seat as its occupant’s body began to shift. Its rib cage broke open into a giant, vertical mouth full of jagged teeth and swirling tentacles. The tentacles lashed out at me, wrapping around my arms and neck, and squeezed. The Sliver in the backseat joined in, grabbing the leg I tried to anchor myself with against the dashboard and forcing me closer to that terrible maw.
The passenger door flew open. The Sliver let out a howl of pain as Julie buried a large meat hook in its back and began pulling it from the car. Courtney wrapped her hands around Julie’s on the hook, throwing her track team muscles into the effort and hardly wincing when the gelatinous Splinter blood began to soil her neatly pressed blouse. The tentacles released me, and soon enough the two girls wrestled the Sliver from the vehicle and tased it.
One down.
The driver’s mutated arm reached across my chest and pulled the door shut. It looked deep into my eyes with those empty, black orbs. Its narrow mouth curled into the faintest of smiles as it held me pinned to the seat with that monstrous arm. Though its face was formless, its flesh waxy, I couldn’t help but feel something familiar in that smile and those soulless eyes.
“Soon,” it whispered to me in its chittering, popping voice.
A new arm burst from its shoulder, splitting into two insectoid hands that allowed it to shift gears and disengage the parking break simultaneously. I watched helplessly as Greg and Kevin finally caught up to us with the jury-rigged spike strip we’d built for just this occasion, tossing it uselessly to the ground just as the driver swerved out of the way.
I didn’t know if the Slivers were still going to try for Ms. Craven or if they would content themselves with taking me instead. Would they try to drag me to their Warehouse (assuming the Slivers had a Warehouse) and replace me, or would they kill me as soon as they found a nice, quiet place to pull over?
They weren’t slowing down. If anything, they seemed to be speeding up. They swerved down the street, aiming for the side of an old duplex. Ms. Craven’s duplex.
I took advantage of the driver’s focus to pull one arm free, fasten a seatbelt around me, and brace myself.
The SUV slammed through the duplex’s wall with a crushing impact that knocked the wind out of me and whipped my neck forward. The unsecured driver flew through the jagged remnants of the windshield and landed in what used to be Ms. Craven’s living room. The passenger from the backseat climbed over me with spindly spider’s legs, following the driver out the windshield.
A woman screamed inside.
Slowly, painfully, I undid my seatbelt and crawled through the windshield, landing on the floor in a dazed heap.
Somehow I stumbled to my feet and pulled the mini flamethrower from my back. It wasn’t much—just a kitchen lighter duct-taped to one of those recalled aerosol fire extinguishers that Mina had stocked up on, but it did the job. Flicking the lighter on, I lifted it high.
The driver had Ms. Craven wrapped in a set of tentacles and interlocking claws, lifting her off the ground. Ms. Craven looked at me fearfully, trying to cry out through the tentacle lashed across her mouth. The flamethrower wouldn’t do much good at this range, standing as much a chance of burning Ms. Craven. I was going to have to wait for backup.
“Let her go,” I said shakily. All of my experiences with Slivers so far had proved that they loved to talk. I only had to stall them long enough for Mina and the rest to get here.
The driver looked to the passenger, exchanging a low series of pops and clicks. The passenger nodded, calmly raising one of its three arms and pointing the hand at me, flat. Just like the driver, a small, frightening smile crossed its face.
I lost all feeling beneath my waist, my legs giving out beneath me. Then I could feel again—too well. It felt like every nerve in my body had burst into flames. Violent waves of nausea hit me, and my muscles no longer seemed to be my own.
Two realizations hit me at once.
First: they had a Shard we hadn’t documented yet.
Second: this Shard had remote control of human bodies.
There was shouting, and then Kevin and Greg slid through the massive hole in the wall, brandishing their flamethrowers and Tasers. Less than a second later, a sliding glass door opened in the next room, and Mina and Haley ran in to join us.
Only Aldo, Julie, and Courtney had yet to catch up.
The two Slivers looked at each other, then at us. They could have taken me easily, maybe even two of us. But five of us, well-armed as we were—that gave them a moment of pause. The driver dropped Ms. Craven roughly to the floor. Both of the Slivers raised their arms, and the driver looked at me, curling its lips into that faint, unpleasant smile.
“Soon,” it said again.
Long spikes of bone erupted from each of their chests and backs. They both began to laugh—a raspy, choking sound—as the base of each spike began to pulsate.
“DUCK!” Mina blurted, falling to the floor.
Everyone dropped, dozens of bony spikes narrowly missing us as they erupted from the Slivers’ bodies, lodging in the walls and shattering windows.
By the time we regained our feet, the Slivers were gone.
“Is everybody all right?” Mina asked.
There were murmurs of assent. Ms. Craven was on the floor, sobbing.
Finding out about Splinters is never easy for people to deal with under the best of circumstances, much less while being kidnapped by the extreme anti-human cult of Splinters that we’d taken to calling “Slivers” last fall.
Not that getting kidnapped by regular, garden-variety Splinters was all that much better.
I was confident that Ms. Craven would come out of her shock soon—she’d always struck me as pretty tough. Once this wore off, we’d be able to tell her the truth. Maybe even make her a part of the team.
Assuming, of course, she was really human.
Haley examined my scratches and scrapes. Content that I must have been okay, she smiled and threw her arms around my neck, hugging me close. I don’t know what was more uncomfortable, Haley’s weight against my aching ribs or the look of annoyance on Mina’s face.
“I’m fine,” I assured Haley, pulling away, “though that Shard they have sure did a number on me.”
“One of the ones The Owl showed you?” Haley asked.
“No, this one’s new,” I said.
“Dammit, I hate Shards,” Greg said, shuddering. I didn’t blame him; the last time we’d gone up against a Shard, it had made him feel a swarm of spiders crawling beneath his skin.
“Tell me about it,” I said.
“Hey, guys?” Aldo said over the group line.
“Did you secure the other Sliver?” Mina asked.
“Yeah, we got her. No problems there. What about yours?” Aldo asked.
“They’ve retreated. They haven’t doubled back your way?” Mina asked.
“No, we’re clear,” Aldo said. There was something held back in his voice I didn’t like.
“What’s wrong, Aldo?” I asked.
“Uh, I think you need to see this one for yourselves.”
“We’re on our way,” Mina said. “Haley, Greg, keep an eye on Ms. Craven.”
“I got some stuff that might calm her down,” Greg said, patting a pocket on his old army jacket.
“Don’t,” I said.
Greg shrugged. “More for me then.”
I followed Kevin and Mina out the front door. By force of habit, I looked up and down the street, hoping by some miracle that we hadn’t been spotted—or heard, for that matter. It was early Sunday morning, so the streets were mostly deserted. Typical abduction timing. The cops would be here eventually—a vehicle crashed through the side of a house has a way of summoning them sooner or later—but given the Prospero Police Department’s closeness with the main Splinter Council, this would all no doubt be hushed up pretty quickly.
“You’re gonna have to spend some quality time with Mina’s first-aid kit, brother,” Kevin observed.
“I’ve looked worse,” I said.
“You’ve looked better, too,” Mina interjected coldly.
“What’d I do?” I complained.
“You nearly ruined the operation. This didn’t go half as smoothly as our other interceptions,” Mina shot back.
I didn’t have a good defense for that. Ever since she’d started receiving those messages from the Owl, giving us the Slivers’ plans for abductions, we’d had a pretty good (though not perfect) track record of intercepting and stopping the Slivers before they could take their intended targets. Over the previous month and a half, we had managed to save the mayor’s son, Sheriff Diaz’s wife, and the head of the PTA from being taken without their ever knowing anything was going on. Things could have gone better this time, I knew that, but they also could have gone a lot worse.
“I didn’t have a choice. They know what we’ve been doing, and they’re being more careful. I did what I had to do,” I said.
“You could’ve been killed.”
“But I wasn’t!”
Kevin squeezed his way between us and put an arm around each of our shoulders.
“Let us not forget, my friends, that we did stop them from replacing Ms. Craven. It may have been sloppy, and she may have been needlessly introduced to our world, but we saved her. We did a good thing; the forces of evil are in check for another day. We should be celebrating!” Kevin said, smiling that easy smile he always used to defuse tense situations.
Mina sighed. “Please try to avoid unnecessary risks in the future.”
“Will do,” I said.
“There, isn’t that better than fighting like a couple o’ freshmen?” Kevin said.
“So says the senior commencement speaker,” I replied, punching him in the ribs softly.
“Hey, I’m as surprised as you guys are that I actually got the gig,” Kevin said, grinning.
“Right… so how long have you had that speech written?” I asked.
“Seventh grade, give or take a month.” Kevin laughed. “Come on, it’ll be my last chance to try to change a few minds here before I move on to the real world.”
“Freshmen don’t fight any appreciably more or less than any other students,” Mina said as if she’d missed half the conversation, looking a bit lost in thought.
“Really? Maybe we should ask Aldo,” Kevin joked.
Tall tales about Aldo’s secret second life, or third life in our case, had become something of a running joke among the Network, given his habit of accumulating even more scrapes and bruises than the rest of us in spite of spending most of his time behind the scenes, digging for information or tinkering with the equipment.
Underground cage fighting and undercover spy operations were common speculations.
This conversation did lead to one topic that had been eating at me lately: the passage of time. Of the eight members of the Network, Kevin and Courtney were both seniors and were going to be moving on from Prospero within the next six months. I didn’t know how we were going to keep the fight going without them. We would find a way to manage, Mina always had in the past, but it would be rough without Courtney’s organizational skills and Kevin’s ability to put things in perspective.
Julie, Courtney, and Aldo had dragged their captive Sliver to the privacy of Courtney’s backyard, a good five blocks from Ms. Craven’s, and by the time we caught up with them, they already had it tied up in copper wire and were threatening to touch the wire to a car battery. As usual, Julie (her jet black hair streaked with hot pink and red for Valentine’s Day coming up) smiled at us perkily beneath her thick goth makeup.
“Ya all right, Ben?” she asked, eying the scratches on my face.
“I’m fine.”
Aldo’s concerned expression was unsettling. Ever since our fight with Robbie, Aldo had assumed a bravura I’d never known he had in him. He was the first to cheer any victory lately. If he wasn’t smiling…
“What is it?” Mina asked, looking down at the Sliver, which looked more human now despite the few extra limbs it still possessed.
Courtney held the end of the copper wire above the car battery with a plastic pair of tongs. “Show them again.”
The Sliver hissed something in its chittering language that must not have been kind. Courtney and Mina exchanged a glance. Mina nodded. Courtney dropped the wire onto the battery’s contact.
The Sliver screamed too humanly as it shuddered and arched what could best be approximated as its back, and the wire sparked violently. When Courtney took the wire away, it reluctantly took the face of its true, human form with a look of pure spite.
It was the face of Ms. Claudette Velasquez, my calculus teacher. That she was a Splinter was not news; we had known this for a few months.
That she was working with the Slivers was a surprise. The last time we had seen her, she had a seat on the Splinter Council.
“What are you waiting for? Kill me. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” she challenged.
“We’re not that stupid,” I said.
Ms. Velasquez looked at the battery with a mix of anger and fear. “Then what is your plan for me?”
“You’re going to tell us everything you know about the Slivers’ plans,” Mina said simply, taking the tongs from Courtney and holding them a little closer to the battery. “And when we’re convinced you’re not holding out, we’ll hand you over to the Splinter Council.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes went wide with genuine fear. “And if you’re never convinced?”
“We turn you over to them anyway, only we don’t tell them how remorseful and cooperative you were.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes scanned us, probably trying to gauge whether or not Mina was telling the truth. She must have believed her, because her body visibly slumped.
“Fine. I will cooperate. Just don’t—”
She let out an ear-splitting scream, her eyes bulging—then fell still with mouth agape. We stared, trying to figure out if it was a trick, when the flesh began to melt from her bones in thick gray rivers.
“What the… no, no…” Aldo muttered, trying to scoop bits of dissolving Splinter into one of his specially rigged containment boxes, watching with confusion as the liquid continued to evaporate after the box was sealed.
The entire Splinter corpse down to the bones was deteriorating into nothingness as the raw Splinter matter became incompatible with our world.
“What the hell just happened?” Courtney asked. “She was going to talk!”
“Was she?” Mina asked doubtfully.
“Well she sure as hell wasn’t going to die!” said Aldo, staring at the last vanishing remnants of the body. “Splinters just don’t do that spontaneously.”
“They might if they got one of those in ’em, brother,” Kevin said as he pointed to what was left of Ms. Velasquez’s deteriorating bones.
What looked like a foot-long, white caterpillar made of tumors and small air sacs disentwined itself from around her spine. Slowly, it walked away from the dissolving remains of my math teacher, shaking off bits of gray slime.
Then it started to glow a faint, pulsing white, lifting off the ground and beginning to float away like a plastic bag in the breeze. Mina grabbed it with her tongs.
“That a Splinter?” Kevin asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mina said.
“Then what is it?” Aldo asked.
The answer hit me before Mina could say it out loud.
“A game changer,” I said. “If they’ve got themselves some sort of alien suicide pill hiding inside them to keep them compliant, we might have to reconsider our capture strategy.”
Capturing a Sliver for information had been one of our dreams ever since we started receiving information from The Owl.
Just when we thought we had the Slivers figured out, they had to come up with something like this.
I would’ve laughed if it weren’t so damn depressing.
 
Previous Books in the Series (click on image for Goodreads link):

 

 

About the Authors
Fiona J.R. TITCHENELL is an author of young adult, sci-fi, and horror fiction, including Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). She graduated from Cal State University Los Angeles with a B. A. in English in 2009 at the age of twenty. She currently lives in San Gabriel, California, with her husband, coauthor, and amazing partner in all things, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.
Connect with Fiona J.R. Titchenell on:
Her blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

MATT CARTER is an author of horror, sci-fi, and yes, even a little bit of young adult fiction. He earned his degree in history from Cal State University Los Angeles, and lives in the usually sunny town of San Gabriel, California, with his wife, best friend, and awesome co-writer, F.J.R. Titchenell. Check out his first solo novel, Almost Infamous, or connect with him on:
His blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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