Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Orenda Release Day Blitz

ORENDA by Ruth Silver
a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure series
published by Patchwork Press
Orenda Join forces with a parallel universe. Dark forces, magical creatures, and the world Lil thought she knew collide when a dream transports her to the strange world of Orenda. Stunned and terrified, Lil comes face to face with her doppelganger, Willow, who possesses the ability to travel between the two worlds. Everything Lil knows logically says that Orenda can't exist, but a small clue may be proof that it was more than an ordinary dream. With the threat of her younger sister in danger, Lil crosses dimensions but it may cost her even more than she bargained for. A sword wielding girl, the eternal suit, and a parallel universe come together in this action-packed Young Adult fantasy adventure that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages. Orenda is the first novel in the Orenda series.
  Excerpt: Lil stood firm, sword-in-hand, staring at the beast as it flew directly at her. “How do I kill it?” She raised the sword above her head with two hands. Hudson glanced at her. “With what we taught you. The dragon is no different than a man.” “It has wings and is flying at me. I’d say it’s different!”   Ruth Silver author photo About the Author: Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of ABERRANT, a young adult dystopian adventure series published by Patchwork Press and Lazy Day Publishing, in 2013. Silver attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Communication in the spring of 2005. While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004. Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required, because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia. Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing. She loves dystopian and fantasy young adult stories. Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager. Upcoming works include Royal Reaper, a young adult series about grim reapers, due for release June 3rd, 2014. She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois. Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Flash Giveaway Blitz!

Hi, Lovelies!

When I learned that Olivia had entered to win a van equipped for someone with disabilities, I wanted to help her win.

I immediately knew the right crowd to turn to for help: BOOKWORMS! We book lovers are the warm, deep-hearted sort of folks who love to help others.

So, I thought I'd contact a group of my author and bookworm friends to see if they'd like to help me put together a giveaway to reward you for your efforts in helping us help Olivia win!

The list of booty is growing, and I'll post changes to the list on the Flash Giveaway Blitz Event Page as more donations pour in from the awesome authors I know and love.   Please join the FB event to stay abreast of all the changes.

But, before we get to the rules of the giveaway, I wanted you to meet sweet Olivia.  So I did a little interview with her to share with you.

Hi, Olivia!  Thank you for joining us and giving us the opportunity to get to know the cutest little cowgirl in Texas! We Bloggers, Readers, and Authors are so honored to have the opportunity to join together to help you in your venture to win this awesome van!  If there’s one thing Bookworms know, it’s this:  we can do anything we set our minds to doing!

1.      Tell us about yourself.  What’s your favorite hobby or occupation?
Well let’s see. I’m 21 years old and I’m a college sophomore at Tyler Junior College. I’ll graduate in August with 2 associate degrees: radio/TV broadcasting and agriculture. I grew up showing livestock mainly lambs and heifers, but I’ve shown goats, horticulture projects and a few home economic projects at the ETX State Fair. I am a motivational speaker and have traveled all over Texas speaking. I’m the evening web producer at KYTX CBS 19 and been working there for almost a month.

2.      What’s your college major?  What do you plan to do once you graduate?
At TJC I’m a Radio/TV Broadcasting and Agriculture associate major. At UTT I will be a Multimedia Journalism major with a minor in Terrorism Studies

3.      Do you have a favorite hobby?
I love shopping, reading, hanging out with family and friends, traveling and watching movies

4.      What’s your favorite type of music?  Favorite band?
Hands down country music. I love Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton, George Strait, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Reba

5.      Do you have a favorite book?
I have several. The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Help.

6.      Who’s your hero … a person who’s inspired you?
I don’t have just one hero. My style comes from Lilly Pulitzer because her stuff stands out and has that classy feeling. My actions come from Jackie Kennedy, because after all “I’d rather be a Jackie, than a Marilyn.” My attitude comes from other people with disabilities or sickness that can’t get out and so I try to show people that even though I have a disability doesn’t mean I’m helpless. I think sometimes I have a better brain and bigger heart than some normal abled bodies. My Aunt Kristi died in December of 2013 and she fought cancer for so many years and never once gave up. She was such a Godly woman and never lost her faith through her journey. I think that’s where a lot of my fighting will comes from is from people like that.

7.      What’s the best thing about being a cowgirl?
My stubbornness and fighting will. I can stand on my own two feet and I don’t rely on anybody but Jesus Christ. I’ve learned a lot of my patience and responsibility from taking care of livestock. I’ve learned about buying and raising an animal, showing and finally selling to go to the market and I make money to purchase another animal. It has taught me all about life and made me the person I am.

8.      Is there anything you’d like to say to everyone reading this interview?
Never judge somebody whether they are disabled or not. Go out and chase your dreams no matter how big or crazy it may seem. Also vote for me to help me win this wheelchair accessible vehicle.  And THANK YOU for helping me win!

Thanks, Olivia!  That was fun getting to know you better!

Now, on to the contest!  WOOHOO!  There are TONS of AWESOME PRIZES!!!!  And it’s EASY TO WIN! 

April 22-May 9

The rules are simple:

Go to the RAFFLECOPTER FORM and earn all the entries!  

VOTE each day! Don't forget to DOUBLE YOUR VOTE by answering the daily question.
I'll post the answer on my FB page, so all you'll have to do is click a button. ♥ 

Don’t forget! Each time you vote, screen-shot the confirmation page and post it to Belle’s FB timeline. Your entry won’t count if I don’t get proof you voted. 

Here’s the list of authors and contributors (in no special order).  Look at all the cool stuff you can win!:

AMY KESSLER: digital copies of in the light of the moon and dance in the moonlight as well as midnight symphony

NICOLE STOREY: $10 Amazon gift card and a digital copy of Blind Sight

HEATHER LAMB: $15 Amazon gift card and book name is 'Samuel-the child that wasn't' and 'behind the lace'

ASHLEY NEMER: ebook set of the blood series

MIA BISHOP: digital copy of Waking Up In Bedlam

JERRY HATCHETT: one of my books in a choice of formats, paperback, Kindle, or audiobook

BOOK BOOST PR: $5 Amazon Gift Card

TRACEE FORD: two ebooks: Between Worlds (volume 1), and The Fine Line and Idolum: Visions of the Undone.

RH RAMSEY ISOLA: $10 Amazon Gift Card

ALEXIA PURDY: Dark Faerie tales series ebooks and an audiobook of Reign of Blood

STELLA PINSEN:  an e-book

AUTHORS ON THE AIR: For contributions to the participating authors

KRISTEN RAE: US ONLY:  Signed Paperback of Wish You Were Italian

BELLE WHITTINGTON: Signed paperback of CICADA and FIREFLY, book bag, and SWAG

There are several AWESOME BLOGS to visit during the Flash Giveaway Blitz!  Please stop by and show them some bloggy love!

April 22, 2014

April 23, 2014
April 25, 2014

April 28, 2014

April 30, 2014

May 5, 2014

May 6, 2014

I Fell in Love With a Boy

I fell in love with a boy
But you are a boy no more
A man I don't know took his place
Yet my heart longs for the one
That's gone not whose there now
So what do I tell my heart
When it can't find what it wants
Lost in the land of forgotten things
You left my heart shattered in pieces
And ran away with the glue to fix it
Our love lost and forgotten
Replaced with hate and regret
The man I see before me is not he
Who can be what my heart wants

Strangers to each other
And worlds apart
Stuck in yesterday
Where dreams were made
But never came true
No longer who we use to be
Separated by the time and space
Changed by circumstances
Decisions that can't be undone

So we go on pretending
Our two worlds don't belong together
The edges of both barely touching
By what we made in love
Two lives that lost one parent
And searches desperately
For the other to no end
If only you would let our worlds Collide once again
If just to make them whole
Though ours may never mend
Theirs can be put together if you let
Pride and shame keep you away
You pretend the man you've become
Was not once the boy that loved

A woman and a man now a shell of who They were as a boy and girl carefree In love determined to show the world
They could make it despite the odds That were stacked against them
But their world slowly tore apart  Every block carefully put in place Came tumbling down in a crash of Pain and chaos left in ruins
Never to be rebuilt
Now an ancient memory
Slowly fading away
In to the darkness forever lost

One boy and one girl hidden deep Inside the shells we have become
Love just a fairy tale never real
Only in the pages of our minds
Where I now live captured by the past
A hope just out of my grasp
A world where everything
Turns out right as it should be
Happily ever after to every story

A princess with her prince
A knight in shining armor
Rescuing her from any hurt
That tries to plague her
Real love that never ends
No evil and no trouble could undo
What they built together
Their hearts forever entwined

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finding Her Way Back Cover Reveal

Title: Finding Her Way Back
Author: Heather Van Fleet 
Genre: New Adult Reveal Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Meet Callie, a chubby-sexy nineteen year old girl who fears high heels, commitments, and has a love/hate relationship with her running shoes. 
Nine months of college down the drain all all she has to show for it is her freshman thirty. But alas, life has other crap plans for her--one that includes a strict regiment of do this do that for her she-devil sister, all while trying to avoid the unavoidable. 
The unavoidable being Ky: the ex best friend, turned sex god who lives across the street from her house. Meet Ky; a nineteen year old country music singer, minus the lyrics, and a boy turned man who still wears a proverbial skateboard around his neck from wasted high school days. 
But then Callie returns home, and that's when he realizes that she's exactly the muse he's been missing all along. Now, if only she can stop running long enough to find out that he too is all she'll ever need again.
Heather Van Fleet currently reside in northern Illinois, with her three little ladies, and fabulous hubby, and high school sweetheart, Chris. She’s a stay at home mom by day, and an avid and completely obsessive writer and reader by night.
She’s always had a soft spot in her heart for books, and has been creating her own little stories since the age of seven. But she never really had the confidence or the time to actually sit down and really do something about it until her youngest daughter Isabella was born just two years ago. Bella, as well as her older sisters Kelsey and Emma, are and always will be her greatest inspirations.
Links: Twitter   Website   Goodreads   Facebook 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Discovering Daniel Blog Tour

Title: Discovering Daniel
Author: Nadine Christian  
Genre: Young Adult
Tour Host:
Lady Amber's Tours

When a shocking memory surfaces that Ava McCoy can’t understand, she looks for answers. With her parents and her Uncle Sam trying to convince her that she is only chasing dreams, she is determined to prove that they are wrong, the vision too vivid in her mind to be anything but truth. When her investigation reveals another world so shocking and yet so familiar, it feels as if the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together – with only one question left unanswered. Who is Daniel? The very memory of him draws her to the sea. Then, the ocean brings her the answer she’s seeking. Daniel himself. United, Daniel and Ava must find out why everyone wanted to keep them apart – and who is now trying their best to do it again. They must find the answers – before they succeed. Before Ava loses Daniel all over again – this time, forever.

Author Bio:
Nadine Christian lives on Pitcairn Island, a small isle in the middle of the South Pacific. With no airport and no way on or off the island unless traveling by the island's supply ship on it's quarterly supply run, she supplements her free time with writing.
Free time is hard to find -- with five children, four goats, two cats and thirty chickens and a life full to the brim. With its rich maritime history, Pitcairn's romantic past comes alive in her novels, capturing the taste of life on an isolated tropical island, miles from the rush and bustle of normal city life.


Excerpt One.

Her reflection wavered in the water, the ribbon cutting a line in the wavering picture of herself once more. Her mouth frowned down at the face in the water. The watery reflection frowned back. She grinned and the face in the water grinned back too. Laughing now, she pushed the tip of her nose up with her finger and the girl in the water did as well.
Behind the reflection something moved, and she blinked hard. Bubbles rose, breaking the surface with gentle burbles, carrying what sounded like a tinkling laugh with them. A shimmer of scales darted under the boat and she leaned further out in surprise. That fish was big, she thought and waggled her ribbon enticingly. Then a face, pale and smiling peered up at her, black hair fanning out in the water, blue eyes crinkling in the corner with delight. The face suddenly crossed its eyes and poked out a pink tongue and Ava reared back in surprise, dropping her ribbon in shock.
The momentum carried her in a jerky marionette step across the boat, and then her legs caught the side of the boat, and in what seemed like slow motion, her arms wind-milling, she went backwards over the side.
She heard her father shout out, and then water filled her ears, cold and deafening. Salty fluid filled her mouth and nose and she breathed involuntary as she shrieked in fright. Within seconds, her jacket had righted her in the water, but she struggled to draw a breath. Vomiting a copious mouth of nauseating warm salty water, she coughed hard enough to bring tears to her eyes, and then the tears began in earnest. Legs and arms heavy with fright, she bobbed in the water like a cork, panting with the urgency to get her breath back.

Excerpt Two.

“I don’t know what to say.” Ava forced between frozen lips.
“Don’t bother.” She slid off the bike and began pacing. “You know, I don’t know what’s worse—that you thought you couldn't tell me what was going on, or that you lied to me.” She slid to a stop, turned to Ava, and put out her hands palms up in confusion. “I thought we were friends, Ava.”
Ava swallowed hard, horrified to see tears glittering in Sally’s eyes. “We are friends.”
Anger replaced the sadness, and Sally ran fingers through her short hair. “Then why couldn't you tell me about the Mer? Tell me what Daniel was? That’s who he is isn't it—not a crew member from the Picton Castle of course. What a fool I am.” She face palmed herself and glared at Ava.
“Could you not trust me? What have I done that could ever make you think that?” She stared at Ava, anger mixed with hurt in her expression.
“Wait…just wait a moment,” Ava drawled. She slit her eyes at her friend. “The Mer part isn't pissing you off, you’re more upset about me not confiding in you.” She raised one brow and stepped toward her friend who now stood, hands on hips, frown creasing her forehead. “Why aren't you surprised? I mean that Daniel’s a Mer, not a Picton Crew member, not a human even. You look like you don’t even care.”
“Because! I don’t. He could be an alien from some distant planet. He could have six heads for all I care. It’s just proof to me.” Sally wailed and threw her hands in the air. “I always knew there was something more than just us in this world. It couldn't be just us humans. I always thought it would be angels or vampires or werewolves…but, Ava…” Sally’s shoulders drooped. “You found a mermaid! You found a creature of the sea and didn't even tell me!”
Sally rolled her eyes and growled with aggravation. “You’re correcting me now?”
“Sorry,” Ava said. “Sorry for everything. I wanted to tell you, Sally, but I just couldn't.”
“Couldn't or didn't want to?” She crossed her arms and glared at Ava.
“I couldn't. I promised. I promised my father, my uncle, and I promised Daniel.”
Sally put her hand to her chest. “God, I always knew there was something different about him.” A dreamy smile crossed her lips and then she visibly shook herself and glared at Ava. “Who has kept your secrets for you since we were in preschool together? Who covered for you when you were late home from school when you met Mark Christian to practice French kissing behind the water tank at school? You could have trusted me, Ava.”
Ava gave in. “I’m sorry, Sally. It’s been killing me keeping this from you. I hated sneaking around behind your back and lying to you. Can you forgive me?”
Sally pursed her lips and cocked her hip. “You’ll tell me everything?”
Ava nodded. “Everything.”
A smile grew wide on Sally’s lips and she clapped her hands with glee. “Good. You can start by telling me what it’s like to kiss a Mermai…Mer-male. Did he taste like fish?”

Monday, April 14, 2014

'A Shard of Ice' by Alivia Anders Release Blast

A Shard of Ice
The Black Symphony Saga #1
Release Date- April 14th, 2014
Genre- Young Adult (Fantasy/Romance) 


When 13-year-old Lilix Morgan is found alive and floating on a bed of ice at sea, everyone counts it a miracle. Kidnapped nearly four weeks earlier, she remembers nothing of her mysterious abduction. When she tries to remember what happened, she hears only a melody - a faint and delicate set of notes, strung together in a tune she doesn't understand.  


A year later and desperate to put the lingering nightmares of her past behind her, Lilix crosses the country to enroll at Baelmorte Academy, aiming to become the violinist she once dreamt of. Things seem to be finally going well, and Lilix settles into a routine of sheet music and inspiration among new friends. 

Then the dreams start.

The melody and night terrors she thought she'd left behind return with a vengeance, threatening to ruin her fragile version of normalcy. Then an unlikely ally tells her that she isn't alone. That there are others just like her, fighting to hide their own shocking truths from coming to light. That they know who she is, and what she's been through. Now, accompanied by four other girls, Lilix discovers her nightmares are larger than a single trauma; they're a window to a hidden part of her soul, a place of immense power with a destiny that cannot be ignored.


With this knowledge comes a new and frightening reality. For Lilix has been reawakened to stop an age-old enemy, one thought to have been destroyed centuries ago. Trapped by her destiny, Lilix is torn between what feels right and what she remembers. Her memories tell her of a star-crossed love waiting to be reunited, of friendships and trust broken in the past. But can she save that love when reality brings her an enemy, and an evil that will be the undoing of them all if they don't destroy it?


Friday, April 11, 2014

Touching Fire Blog Tour

Book Name: Touching Fire
Author: Airicka Phoenix
Series: Touch Saga, book 2
Publisher: Fire & Ash Publishing
Release date: March 28, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance.
Warnings: Strong language and mild sexual content
Formats: eBook & Paperback

Finding her past was supposed to end the nightmare.  Only it was just the beginning.

Entrusting the fate of the world, not to mention her and Isaiah’s life to a father she’s never met is a big leap of faith on Fallon’s part. But it’s a necessary risk. Ashton is the key to protecting Isaiah and keeping her out of Garrison’s clutches. He is also the only one who can tell her what she is, except what she learns is that she is from a world that is far more dangerous than anyone could possibly imagine.

As her powers grow out of control, Fallon must pick between her mortality and a legacy that does not include Isaiah. She must summon the courage to face a destiny that will test the boundaries of everything she has ever known. But most of all, she must protect Isaiah from the monster within herself and trust the man whose toxic blood runs through her veins.

Danger builds as power clashes between two evils, both seeking her to tip the scales to eternal darkness and suffering.

Can humanity rise to face an ancient calling to which Fallon is powerless to stop? Can she protect those she cares about, or will their blood forever stain her hands?

Touch Vengeance. Touch Malice. Touch Fire.

I was going to die in a park surrounded by little kids. There was probably some irony there; I just couldn’t bring myself to focus enough to find it. Truthfully, I probably couldn’t bring myself to find my own nose at that moment. The prospect of dying had that effect on me.
The sun shone brightly, blanketing the grass in a yellow glow that hurt the eyes. Only in British Columbia could it be winter and sunny enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt. It was like the tropics of Canada. As final resting places went, it wasn’t too shabby. It was better than the dank, urine soaked alley we’d nearly died in last week, or the deodorant aisle at Walmart the week before that. It seemed like every week we found new and more creative places to meet our demise and frankly, it was getting tedious. There we were, adamant not to die while Garrison’s goons were adamant to change our minds, and we were just very stubborn people all around.
We were at a park, in the middle of December, watching a kite flying contest. For someone who had survived some of the worst winters in Canada, only in British Columbia was something like that possible in a sundress without freezing your pants off. But even this boggling climate mystery wasn’t enough to overshadow the fact that it was nearly noon, which meant we were minutes away from meeting someone, a man … my father to be exact. My real father, not Garrison who was the genius behind me being cooked up in a lab like an omelet with animal DNA and who knew what else.
Isaiah sat beside me, his confidence and assurance a toasty blanket. It took a great deal of resistance not to give in and curl up into his side. I knew he wouldn’t push me away. I knew he would draw me in close. It was solely the fact that we were surrounded by screaming children and their watchful parents that kept me at arm’s length. It was just a hunch, but I was almost certain they would not take too kindly to me jumping Isaiah and doing very non G-rated things to him in front of their offspring. Parents were just weird like that. They didn’t understand that I didn’t have a choice. Granted, even if I had, I would still jump the guy. He was freaking delicious and I was still just a teenage girl with raging hormones and a thirst for blood. You know, average.
There were often times when we were trapped in a motel with nothing but a black and white TV for company and I would find myself watching him, studying the powerful silhouette he made in the dim light. In the last month since our escape from Garrison’s clutches, I had noticed a few interesting things about my companion.
He never slouched. His body was perpetually frozen in an unyielding rigid tension that seemed to never lessen. It was as though his mind and body were continuously in attack mode. The first few nights after our escape, I understood. I was on edge, too. Every little noise had me bolting upright, heart wedged in my throat in panic. It was Isaiah who assured me nothing was out there. The guy had the senses of … well, a wolf. But eventually, I toned it down a notch. Isaiah, on the other hand, was hanging onto that promise he made to Ashton as though it were a brick of gold; he was going to protect me if it killed him. Sweet, right?
If someone could reach into my chest and tear out my heart and turn it into a living, breathing person, Isaiah would be it. He completed me. Most people had to live their whole lives wondering if they would ever find their other half, their soul mate. Well, I didn’t. I shared a soul with mine, literally. But there was nothing remotely romantic about it.
Our love was genetically engineered to make us the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. So for all I knew, it wasn’t even real. Because being a teenager and worrying about break outs, pit stains and PMS wasn’t bad enough. I had a genuinely good reason to wonder if he really loved me or not. Plus, I perpetually had a guy in my head.
Isaiah knew every one of my secrets without me ever telling him. He knew what I was thinking and feeling before even I did. It was a major pain in the ass. A girl needed her secrets, needed to be able to ogle a guy coming out of the bathroom in nothing but a towel without him getting a full wash of her not so G-rated thoughts. It didn’t help that the guy could elicit dirty thoughts wearing a snowsuit. I may have been biased, but he really was just that sexy, and all mine. As odd as it may sound, I wasn’t all too pleased about the latter.
Guys like Isaiah didn’t pick girls like me in the real world. I knew that had, we met under normal circumstances, he would never have given me a second glance. He’d no doubt have his arm around some leggy blonde with big … personalities and … ugh! I couldn’t even think about it. The chick didn’t even exist and I wanted to throat punch her. That was how low I had sunk on the spectrum of things.
I blamed Isaiah for driving myself crazy wondering if he would just go away one day.
No. Wait. I blamed Terrell Garrison. He was the reason we were in this mess. He was the reason I was on the run. He was also the reason I would die if something happened to Isaiah, not just because I was just that deeply gone over the guy, but because I needed Isaiah’s blood to live. Seventeen years of human food, gone the minute I sunk my teeth into him. So when I say the guy was delicious, I don’t just mean someone better call Calvin Klein and let them know their underwear model was missing. The guy was literally delicious. His blood was just euphoric. There were no words for the taste.
“Okay?” Isaiah took my hand from my lap.
I started to nod, because I sometimes forgot I didn’t need to lie about how I felt. Mostly because lying was impossible when he already knew my answers. Maybe it was because he knew how uncomfortable it made me when he poked around in my head, but he always asked anyway. It was his way of making an effort to give me a shred of normalcy in our bizarre relationship.
“Nervous.” I moistened my lips and darted an apprehensive glance over the sea of faces. “It’s kind of … open, here, isn’t it?” There was so much movement. Too many people that could get hurt if Garrison was there amongst them. “How would we know?” I said the last part out loud, already knowing Isaiah had heard the rest without words.
“I would know.” He squeezed my hand. “He’s not here.”
Even while I believed him, I still couldn’t bring myself to relax, because there were bigger things to worry about than just Garrison, although he was reason enough.
“You look beautiful.” He pressed a kiss to my temple and stilled the restless picking I’d been doing at my clothes.
“What if he doesn’t like me?” I hated myself for confessing such a vulnerable fear, but I couldn’t help it. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”
“Fallon.” He nudged me lightly with his shoulder.
I groaned, squeezing my eyes closed tight. He was right. I was overthinking it. Whether my dad wanted anything to do with me or not, I’d be fine. I was a survivor. It was the one thing my mom had spent my whole life teaching me. I just had to keep moving. I could do that. Being on the road was second nature to me. I didn’t need approval from a man I’d never met.
“He’s here. Ashton,” he said quickly when I bolted to my feet, gaze searching wildly for an oncoming attack.
“Oh!” Except, that was equally as bad. It was just a different sort of attack.
I wiped the sweat off my palms onto my new dress, hoping he wouldn’t want to shake hands. I’d taken a shower that morning and had lathered on the vanilla scented deodorant, but it didn’t seem to be doing its job; my armpits were sticky with sweat. I also prayed he wouldn’t want to hug. Then, because freaking out was what I did best, I wondered about my makeup. I didn’t usually wear any, but it wasn’t a usual day. What if it was running down my face? Was my dress okay? Isaiah had sworn the soft, lavender sundress with its white knitted sweater brought out the mix of colors in my eyes, but he was a guy, what did he know about women’s clothing?
Still sitting on the bench, Isaiah chuckled. “The sales lady agreed with me.”
“She could have been lying just to make a sale.” I muttered, wringing my hands anxiously at my abdomen. “Will you get out of my head? It’s a mess up there without your prodding.”
I knew it wasn’t his fault. I was the one who had to calm down. My overflow of emotions was what sucked him into my head in the first place. It didn’t help that I was being swept away in a storm of emotions at that moment. There was no real stopping it.
He rose to his feet and took my shoulders in his firm grip. “Then you need to calm down.”
I did take a deep breath, closed my eyes and willed myself to remain as calm as possible. Yet, the second I opened my eyes, I was pulled under by my uncertainties and fears. I didn’t know what I was looking for and that made it worse. I had shared no resemblance with my mother at all. For I knew, he could be six feet tall, black and a wrestler.
Isaiah snorted a laugh. “He’s not.” He leaned into me and brushed the side of my head with a kiss. He’d been doing that a lot that morning, soothing me with his touches and kisses. It was his way of reminding me that I wasn’t alone. “You have his eyes and the color of his hair.”
As though for emphasis, he wrapped a strand of my unbound hair around his finger and gave a playful tug that made me laugh. He smiled and I felt my heart stutter in my chest.
The worry took a momentary backseat as I fell into his beautiful eyes, eyes so blue they could have been strips of raw electricity. They were surrounded by lashes that I would have killed for, long, thick and dark. They matched the perfect shade of ebony tumbled over his prominent brow and curled behind his ears. Glossy strands had escaped the band at the base of his skull and fluttered temptingly in the breeze. I was always so fascinated by his hair. Maybe because he rarely ever took it down from its confinement, but I always had an inexplicable urge to tear the band away and replace it with my fingers.
I reached for him and touched the side of his rugged face in a feather light caress from temple to jaw. I caught a strand and nimbly tucked it behind his ear.
“How do you do that?” I murmured, turning my body to his and being rewarded by the feel of his hands going to my waist.
His head bent to the side. “What’s that?”
“Make me feel not so crazy.”
His eyes glittered as his lips pulled into a heart melting smile. “Maybe because you were never crazy to begin with.” He touched his brow to mine and I was drawn into his scent of toothpaste, soap, rain and leather. “Or maybe we’re both crazy.”
I became painfully of his lips hovering dangerously close to mine and his hands burning through the fabric of my dress. The rest of the world faded as the rush of his blood racing through his veins roared in my ears, calling to me, begging me to do what I swore I wouldn’t. The gums above my canines began to itch deliciously. My fingers tightened in the fabric of his shirt. My lips parted, my breathing ragged even to my own ears.
His gaze sharpened. They became dark slits of hunger I recognized all too well. His fingers gouged ten holes into my side as he tightened his grip on me. In a single yank, I was crushed into the shelter of his chest. His heart tattooed a desperate beat against mine. I trembled. My body ached in places I could do nothing about. I felt his fingers tangle into my hair to cup the base of my skull.
His breath burned the side of my face, coming out gruff when he growled into my ear, “I told you to feed.”
He had … insistently for a month.
“You know we can’t.” My hands trembled and I was sure I was cutting holes into his shirt with my nails and causing irreparable damage to the fabric, but I couldn’t let him go. “We agreed—”
His eyes narrowed, reflecting his anger and frustration. “I never agreed to anything.”
What we were doing was playing with fire and toying with things that neither of us fully understood. What we did know was that our need for each other, our insatiable hunger was the thing that would burn the world to the ground. The fire between us was as wild and dangerous as it was beautiful. The world may not have wanted to burn in its glorious embrace, but I did. I wanted nothing else. Succumbing to the untamed temptation was vastly more alluring than the alternative, which was the perpetual distance I had to put between us.
“There’s still time,” he murmured directly into my mind. “You’ll feel better once you’ve eaten.”
Screw the world, this is what you want! A very persistent part of me insisted and it wasn’t wrong. I did want this.
It wasn’t fair. Being strong and resisting wasn’t quite as simple when I was being prodded from all sides.
He touched the side of my face, tracing the contours of my cheek with his finger and coaxing me to nuzzle his palm. My eyes closed as I leaned into him.
There were insane moments when I saw no reason to stop, but then commonsense always prevailed and I forced myself to step back. Lately, those lucid moments were becoming few and far between.
“I hope I’m not interrupting.” And just like that, the calm within me erupted.
I was slammed with an avalanche of panic and dread that had my heart jumping into my throat. Sweat returned to my palms and I was left with no way to wipe them without giving away how nervous I was.
Isaiah stepped forward, hand extended to the other man. I heard the slap of palms and happily shared murmurs. I let it all wash over me, biding my time before facing the man responsible for bringing me into the world—more or less.
He was handsome, all chiseled features, twinkling eyes and blinding smiles. He stood brushing six feet, slender with a head full of salt and pepper hair and eyes the same turquoise-blue with flakes of green, gray and brown as mine. He wore casual clothes; black slacks and a white dress shirt. There was nothing intimidating about him, or so I thought until he finally turned those eyes on me, and I froze like a deer caught in the headlights of a semi.
“Fallon.” His smile was soft, sad, but blazing with a light only my mother had ever worn when looking at me—love. “You’ve grown.”
It was a lame joke, yet it was kind of funny. The last time he’d seen me, I’d been four so, yeah, I had grown since then.
“Yeah…” I voice hitched embarrassingly.
As tense, awkward moments went, it was the worst. My mind remained stubbornly blank, probably giving me an air of idiocy. I didn’t know what to do with my hands; they suddenly seemed so big and dumb hanging at my sides uselessly and I couldn’t stop wondering if I was slouching.
“How are you?” he asked.
I did that stupid shoulder jerk thing. It was a toss between a shrug and a nervous twitch. “Okay. And you are? Okay, I mean. Are you okay?” I grimaced at my own rambling. “How are you?”
His lips curled in the faintest smile. “Nervous.” It was comforting how easily he said it. It was also really good to know I wasn’t the only one. “I’ve been waiting for this moment a very long time.”
He moved then. It was quick, or maybe I blinked, but he was suddenly in front of me and I was engulfed in a fierce embrace so tight I almost couldn’t breathe. I didn’t complain. It wasn’t tight enough. He smelled like a dad, or what I always imagined a dad would smell like—warm, loving and strong.
“I’ve missed you,” he murmured vehemently into my temple.
“I missed you, too,” I replied, still grappling with the knowledge that I had a dad, a dad I was told was dead my whole life. A dad who wanted me.
He pushed me back to arm’s length and stared down at me, his eyes unnaturally large and bright. Mom used to get that look during romance movies, just before she started crying. But nothing about Ashton suggested he was a closet romance crier. No, he was impenetrable, resolute … sturdy. Still, his eyes shone down at me like liquid pools. My own were filmy.
He smiled, giving my shoulders a squeeze. “Call me Ashton, unless you prefer Dad or Ash. Whatever is easier for you.” He paused, before adding, “You must have a million questions.”
My smile quivered. “Yeah.”
He gave my shoulders another squeeze. “Let me take you home. You must be starving.”
Home … I’d never had one of those before. I grew up in motel rooms on greasy, cardboard food and plastic cups. I lived out of a single duffle bag, out of the back of my mom’s Impala. The closest thing I’d ever come to healthy living was the tomatoes and lettuce on my burger and remembering not to fall asleep against the car window while the sun was highest in the sky. But I didn’t eat food anymore. At least, I hadn’t in almost a month.
“Actually, there are a few things we need to tell you first.” Isaiah took a step forward.
Ashton glanced from me to Isaiah, curiosity bright in his eyes. He straightened, removing his hands from my shoulders, leaving a cold sensation behind. “Is here all right?”
Isaiah glanced around at the people rushing around us. “Perhaps somewhere else?”
Ashton nodded, all business now. He surveyed the park, the movement quick, but I knew it was thorough. He didn’t seem like the sort to leave anything half-assed. “There is a café down the block. It’s usually very quiet around this time and the staff doesn’t meddle.”
I learned quickly what that meant. As soon as we walked into the tiny corner café, the staff vanished. Not into thin air, but they got one head nod from Ashton and walked a straight line into the back room, closing the door behind them.
“I own the building,” Ashton said when he caught me staring in awe.
“I guess being a doctor pays really well, huh?” I mused.
“Doctor?” Ashton peered over his shoulder at me, his features perplexed.
I looked towards Isaiah, waiting for him to explain, because he’d been the one to tell me my father was a doctor. But he was equally puzzled by Ashton’s confusion.
“Oh!” Ashton seemed to realize something. He nodded. “Yes. Doctor.” He closed and locked the glass door behind us. He turned and motioned towards the fifteen or so empty tables around the place. “Why don’t we talk?”
After a curious glance between me and Isaiah, we took the seat furthest from the wall of windows, right in the corner so we had a clear view of the whole café, including the front door.
“You are a doctor, right?” I pressed. “I mean, that’s how you met Garrison, isn’t it?”
He cleared his throat and I could tell right away I wasn’t going to like what he was about to tell me.
“I’m not a doctor,” he said slowly, looking from me to Isaiah. “That was what I’d told your mother I was when we first met.”
“So what are you then?” This was from Isaiah, who looked even more betrayed by the confession than I felt.
Ashton lowered his gaze to the tabletop. “I’m many things,” he began slowly.
“But all these years…” Isaiah shook his head. “You told me—”
“I know.” Ashton looked him square in the face. “I will explain everything in due time, Isaiah. For now, I think we have more important things to discuss.” He cast me a pointed glance.
The muscles in Isaiah’s jaw flexed, but he reined in the frustration I could feel pouring off him into me. I had to restrain the urge to reach for his hand.
“Garrison has become more persistent in his hunt for Fallon,” Isaiah mumbled, unable to conceal the grudge in his tone. “We can hardly go a day without an attack. Whoever his tracker is, they’re very powerful. I haven’t been able to sense them anywhere near us, yet they always seem to know where we are.”
Ashton nodded as though this made sense. “My sources have informed me of a great surge in numbers this last few weeks. Terrell has found a new source of power from somewhere and he’s not wasting any time using it. I think it’s only a matter of time before his forces close in on you.”
“Are you a spy?” I blurted.
Ashton blinked. Then he broke into a deep rumble of laugh. “No, but I make it my business to keep feelers in all things noteworthy, and Terrell has particular place in my interests.”
“Isaiah tells me you’ve been rescuing the children Garrison—”
“He’d be both wrong and right,” Ashton interrupted. “I do my best to rescue those I can, but they aren’t as many children as there once had been. There are a few, but those remaining, Terrell guards very closely. I haven’t rescued anyone in nearly a year.”
“If not children, then what—”
Ashton put his hand up, stopping my tumble of questions. “Let’s talk about all that later. Right now, I want to hear your news.”
I wanted to press. I still had so many questions. But he was right. We could talk about those things later. We had, after all, all the time in the world.
“I told you about our run in with Maia and Yuri,” Isaiah began.
Ashton nodded. “Yes, how they found Fallon. Terrell no doubt sent them out of desperation. Maia is not someone Terrell would send if the situation hadn’t gotten out of hand. She’s the most evil creature I have ever encountered and that is saying quite a bit.”
Isaiah nodded. “We managed to evade him for a while, before we were captured. We were taken to Garrison’s home just north of Whistler. I don’t know the exact location, but I can find it if I tried.”
Ashton shook his head. “That won’t be necessary. I’ve known for a while where he calls home. However, had I known you were there, I would have come to get you myself.”
“Contact was impossible,” Isaiah replied. “We were heavily guarded, right until the end when we managed to escape.”
“And did he ever tell you what his plans were?” Ashton wondered.
I shook my head before Isaiah could tell him otherwise. Ashton may have been my father, the man whose blood ran through my veins, but he’d also been partners with Garrison once upon a time and I was too paranoid to trust anyone. I trusted people who lied even less. Whether or not he’d ever been a doctor was a moot point. It was him lying about it that only increased my distrust. Plus I hadn’t forgotten Mom’s last warnings to me not to trust Ashton.
Isaiah must have sensed my need not to share the fact that we were potential weapons of mass destruction, because he didn’t bring it up. Instead, he veered the topic back to our escape.
“Fallon saved my life.” Isaiah cast me a level glance as though daring me to contradict his claim.
He was wrong. I hadn’t saved his life. He may have gotten shot, but with his accelerated healing, he hadn’t been in any real danger.
“Well, you did what you had to,” Ashton said at once, voice unwavering. “Had it not been them, it would have been you.”
Was that how murderers looked themselves in the mirror? Justification? How did one justify taking a life?
“After we escaped, we laid low for a couple of weeks and tried to regroup before we contacted you,” Isaiah finished at last.
By laid low, he meant me vehemently dragging my feet on the whole situation and him needing a month to convince me that it was time I met my father.
Despite my need for answer and safety, I could never shake the uncertainty the idea of meeting Ashton always provoked. But I was really tired of running. I was tired of not having options. I was tired of being tired. Plus, Isaiah was so adamant that Ashton was the good guy. Maybe he was right.
Ashton, who had been listening attentively to Isaiah, beamed. “Remarkable!” he said, shaking his head. “Absolutely remarkable. I always knew Terrell was unstable, but this proves that his lunacy goes much deeper than face value.”
You think? I wanted to say. His brilliant observation was, oh, seventeen years too late.
“There’s more,” Isaiah murmured, hesitant. “Garrison’s still alive and out for blood.”
Ashton nodded. “You’ll be safe at Luxuria. I made the mistake of letting you fend for yourself once. I won’t—”
“I didn’t fend for myself!” My tone came out sharper than I’d intended. “I had Mom and we were doing fine until this crap happened.”
Ashton visibly winced. “Yes, of course. I apologize.” He lowered his head. “I should have done more to protect you both and for that, I am eternally guilt ridden. I failed you.”
“You couldn’t have known,” I murmured.
He wouldn’t meet my eye. “Perhaps.” He placed a gentle hand on mine. “I can’t replace what you had with your mother, Fallon, but I promise that I will protect you in every way that I can. You’re safe now.”
It was daunting to accept. It seemed too easy, and even as a part of me salivated at the possibility of being wholly and truly in the clear. Yet the part of me that had seen and done too much, refused to believe it. Also, I knew firsthand what Garrison was capable of. I knew that he would never give up looking for me. I was too valuable. But my options were slim. My life was in danger and because of me, Isaiah was in danger. In order to keep him safe, I had to trust Ashton. I had to believe that he meant what he said about keeping us away from Garrison.
The shriek of Isaiah’s chair sliding viciously across the smooth laminate sent my heart scuttling up into my throat even before he shouted, “We need to go!” and grabbed my arm.
I was hauled to my feet and dragged behind him.
Ashton was up and out of his seat with much less haste. He twisted his body to the window even as his hand went around behind him. The movement was so quick, so fluid like he’d done it a million times, a frightening thought when, a second later, he was cradling a sleek, black handgun. It was almost reassuring to know my father packed heat like some mafia guy, if not a bit daunting. But even that wasn’t as blood chilling as the three familiar silhouettes making their way with great ease across the street in the direction of the cafe.
“Take her through the back.” Ashton passed Isaiah the gun, who took it and seamlessly slipped it into the waistband of his jeans. “I’ll deal with them.”
“Wait!” I lunged after him when he made for the door, ignoring Isaiah’s grip on me when I grabbed Ashton’s arm. “You can’t go out there without your gun! You have no idea—”
Ashton smiled calmly at me. It was so off-putting considering the situation that I dropped my hand. “Don’t worry about me, dearest. I don’t need a weapon.”
Then, with a wink that only sealed my theory that my dad was suicidal, he strolled out of the café to meet the Shadow Brothers.

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