Friday, September 28, 2012

Starbright (The Starbright Series #1) by Rachel Higginson Blog Tour Stop

Stella is a Star, sent by a Council of Elders to live on Earth and protect the planet from the Darkness, a terrifying evil that would suck the good from every living thing and leave the planet empty and desolate. She has until her twenty-fifth birthday before the Protectorship becomes hers and Earth is left solely her responsibility.

Stella’s fate goes on fast forward as she struggles to balance the rest of high school with the duties of protecting humanity from the deadliest kind of evil.

With her parents and Seth, the boy intended to be her Counterpart, by her side she faces down demons and fallen angels in an effort to protect the last inhabited planet in the universe.

But evil is not her only enemy. She also fights her future as she tries to decide if she’s willing to give up her human relationships, especially that of her best friend Tristan, in order to save humanity. 



THANK YOU THANK YOU to the lovely Jennifer for allowing me to read and review an ARC copy of Starbright. I have to say I never heard of Rachel before this or her crossed series and boy oh boy do I feel like I was missing out on some EPIC reads! If you have never read anything by Rachel go out and get her books I am telling you you will not be disappointed.

Starbright is about a girl Stella who is a Star sent down to protect the earth. She is just like your average teen hanging out with friends only she has the responsibility of saving the world from the darkness and evil that is trying to destroy the last inhabited world. Stella is coming into her powers when the evil darkness decides it's coming for her. 

Only Stella is not alone in this fight because she has her parents and Seth an Angel sent to help her and she has her best friend Tristian who knows her secret. Lord I do like me some love triangles because it kept the story very interesting and showed Stella that they both loved her and would do anything to protect her. I am not sure who I love more because I need to read book two ASAP to figure it out.

Come along for the greatest ride where the light will fight very hard to destroy the darkness that is trying to over rule Earth. 


The night had never been darker, the blackness surrounding the car, never so suffocating. Even the piles of snow pushed to the sides of the narrow road, did nothing to break up the oppressive darkness. The Stars above, shone brightly, I was sure of it, but they did so from behind a curtain of clouds that blocked the light from reaching the road. I felt swallowed up by emptiness. 

I gripped the steering wheel tighter, my knuckles stretching until they gleamed white in the glow of the dashboard and my frozen fingers worked numbly against the cold plastic. The headlights of my old Jeep reached only a few feet in front of me and then stopped abruptly against a wall of darkness. I shivered violently, nestling my chin further into the down of my heavy winter coat and cursed the Nebraska winter for being equally as cold as it was desolate. 

The farmland rolled away from the winding road, buried beneath several feet of iced over snow in every direction. Trees, planted for the privacy of farmers, lined the way home with empty branches and snowcapped tops. My breath puffed out in front of me, fogging up the frozen windshield and reminding me that the heater to my fifteen year old Jeep Cherokee remained unfixed. 

“Tristan!” I growled furiously into the frigid air. “Why I let you talk me into another movie I will never know!” 

There was no one there to hear my complaints, or sympathize with me against my best friend, but it felt comforting to make noise in an empty antique without a radio. Still, receiving not even a groan of empathy from the Jeep, I sat forward and peered into the impossible night ahead of me. 

I knew these roads; I had each curve and turn memorized. The distance between Tristan Shields’ house and my own was well traveled and practically sacred. Still, out in the country where street lights were for city-folk and the deer and the antelope tended to play, their familiar territory became a dangerous, never-ending expanse of nerves and tension. 

Even in summer, unless the Stars and moon were bright and friendly, the country roads of the Nebraska farmland became shrouded in a heavy obscurity, the headlights of the best of cars mapping out the only visibility in the heavy cloak of night and beyond those flickering lights the world seemed to drop off the edge of a cliff into nothingness. But now, in the dead of winter, with temperatures well below zero, the night around my old Jeep seemed to have a life of its own, oppressive and angry. 

I cleared my throat and mentally determined to conquer the creeping feeling of being afraid. I bit down on my lower lip and clutched the steering wheel tighter. My breath came out in shaky puffs of air, reminding me it was more than the roads and the night that curdled the most terrified places of my heart. It was more than the late hour and bitter cold that forced me to shiver and shift my eyes suspiciously in every direction. 

It was the Darkness. 

Not the country night, or the moonless sky. But the real Darkness. The Darkness that moved secretly through this world and threatened every living, breathing creature. The darkness that slithered in unseen places and survived on the death and rotten things. The darkness that I would fight until my dying breath. 

But not tonight. Tonight I wasn’t ready. Tonight, I was still only sixteen, and my parents were still off saving the galaxy while I stayed home to finish high school with an elderly woman as my keeper. 

Something moved out of the corner of my eye. I could swear it. Swirling my head around, and keeping a steady hold on the steering wheel, I peered into the darkness, searching out the moving creature. 


Nothing beyond the snow banks piled in the ditches and the swaying lifeless trees that were becoming sparser as I passed expansive fields blanketed under the white of winter. 

I turned my attention to the road again and with a numb hand, brushed my platinum blonde hair under the brim of my stocking cap. My fingers snapped with electricity and for a moment the cab of my Jeep was lit with the sparks of static. Only a few more miles till home. I could make it. There was nothing to be afraid of. 

But why did tonight feel so different? 

So dark? 

And then out of my peripheral vision I saw it move again. A swift shadow sliding effortlessly through the night, riding the whipping wind like a wave and dropping the frozen temperature several degrees lower. The pungent smell of rotting eggs drifted through the air. 

I didn’t have to turn my head this time to confirm. I knew it would be gone before my head could move in the right direction. Besides, they only existed in the peripheral, in the slight glances and far off places. 

I had seen them before. Since before I could talk my parents would tell me about them, explain to me of their existence, warn me of their danger. I saw them everywhere, even during the day I could spot them, because they were everywhere. 

Foot soldiers of a greater evil, sent to Earth, the last remaining inhabited planet, to prepare the way for their master. They were the evil in all things, the tyranny, the oppression, the hunger and violence. The Darkness. The force of wickedness that battled against the forces of good with one purpose in mind, to abolish the Light. 

I was the light. And because I was the answer to their destruction I hunkered further into my winter coat and braved the bone-chilling cold. 

It could be easy for me to warm up; even in a car with a broken heater it was the natural reaction of my body. I was born of the light, of the warmth. And to suffer against the natural elements was difficult enough, but the extra layer of malevolent chill became excruciatingly painful even in small doses. 

Still, they couldn’t know what I was. They couldn’t discover me after all this time. At least not yet. So I breathed in the frosty air, feeling the burn in my lungs and forced myself to push forward a few more miles. 

My parents had worked so hard to hide my existence and to blend in with normal humanity that no matter how easy it would be to ease my pain, I had to fight against the elements. I was brought to Earth as a baby, with the sole intention to one day take over as Earth’s Protector. And so my parents had given up their positions as two of the greatest Warriors of their generation to raise an alien infant in the middle of farmland. 

And it was here, in Western Nebraska, that I waited for the day the Earth would become my charge, my responsibility. 

But that day wasn’t today. I had years before I was supposed to deal with that kind of duty! 

Years…. I promised myself. 

And as soon as I decided these were regular Shadows, which had no idea I was anything special, another one flittered across my peripheral. I swallowed the lump that had taken up an annoying residence in my throat and felt the passenger’s seat for my cell phone. I thought I laid it out before I started the car, but after blindly feeling around my worn upholstery decided it must still be hiding inside my over-sized bag. 

I strengthened the grip of my left hand and thrust my right hand into the black hole of all my important possessions, hoping to come out victorious in three seconds or less. Defender of the last planet or not, I was hopelessly unorganized. My purse was a cluttered mess of unknown objects and somewhere, hidden in the melee was my cell phone. 

I liked to believe I was brave. Or at least I would be one day. But tonight, all I wanted to do was call Annabelle, wake her up and forcefully let her know I would be home in ten minutes, just to hear her reassuring voice. I thought about calling Tristan too and demanding to know why he thought we needed to watch an entire trilogy all in one night! 

Lip gloss. Gum. Floss. Wallet. Candy bar. 

Where was my cell phone? 

The road was dangerously icy and my constant shivering did nothing to balance out my driving. I sucked in a frozen breath and then glanced down at my purse, hoping to be able to spot the phone right away. 

Not there. 

At least not right where I could see it in the one point five seconds I allowed myself to look. I heaved an irritated sigh and turned my eyes back to the road. Apparently that second and a half was way too long because standing in the middle of the road was a giant buck, poised and stilled only ten feet away. 

I panicked. Somewhere in the rational-thinking part of my brain, I knew I was supposed to hit the animal; that it was safer to collide with the deer than slamming on my brakes in the middle of the night on an iced over country road. But my animal-loving instinct took over and my foot pressed furiously against the brake pedal while my hands jerked the steering wheel hurriedly to the right. 

The next few seconds became a blur as my Jeep spun wildly out of control without even pretending to slow down. Belatedly I released my foot and tried to pump the brake but it was too late, the tail end flipped around to the front and then the front flipped around again and hit the snow bank at an alarming speed and bounced off. 

As if in slow motion, my passenger’s side rammed into the iced over snow bank and then flipped over what felt like several times until I smashed to the frozen field far beyond the road. My Jeep hit the ground with an ear splitting cry of metal crushed against a rock hard surface. 

I exhaled violently, the seatbelt cutting into my awkwardly hanging neck and waist. I felt unconsciousness threating to sweep me away as the broken bones in my right hand, where it had been crushed between my body and the armrest in the impact, screamed angrily at me. 

If I were human I would already be unconscious. 

If I were human, I would have a lot more to worry about than a broken wrist. 

I wiggled my feet and tried moving my arms, just to make sure there were no other issues, before reaching over with my left hand and unbuckling the safety restraint. I fell gruffly against the impacted passenger side door and let out a fierce cry of pain. 

I sat up and rubbed my shoulder that now felt displaced but not broken. Climbing into position I bent my knees and braced my hands, one strongly, the other gingerly, against the car around me and thrust my legs forward into the already cracked windshield. 

The fractured glass moved against the force of my legs, but it took several more tries before I removed it completely. When I crawled carefully through the now gaping hole, the windshield remained intact, but definitely fissured and hung awkwardly across the sideways front hood, still attached near the driver’s side. 

I slid down the rusted green paint of my Jeep and landed softly in the snow. The night was still outside of the crash, silent and subdued. The snow that blanketed the landscape muffled the usual night sounds and the absence of animals, even winter ones, felt eerily dangerous. 

Out of the corner of my eye I saw one move. A Shadow. The Darkness. 

But it wasn’t possible. They didn’t know I existed, let alone that I lived here, in the middle of nowhere. I brushed my fear away and simultaneously readied myself for an altercation. I shouldn’t be afraid. I couldn’t be afraid. 

These were mere minions besides. And even if I wasn’t prepared to go into hand to hand combat with them, if they really knew who I was they would be more afraid of me than I was of them. 

Or at least that’s what I promised myself. 

I lifted my head in search of the buck that caused all this trouble to begin with but he was nowhere in sight. Either he was frightened off by my car turning in wild circles just to avoid him, or he never existed in the first place, just an apparition that turned to the smoky wisps of evil. 

But that would mean a purposeful attack. And that couldn’t be. There was just no way they could know who I was. 

Unless…. Unless, my parents had fallen. 

I froze for a moment, my hands clenched at my sides, my chest a shallow cavity filled with a heart that refused to beat and lungs that refused to breathe and played through that possibility in my mind. They had been gone for several weeks, on a mission that specifically required their skill set. I hadn’t heard from them since they left, and so it was entirely possible that they failed. 

That they fell. 

I gazed into the sky, willing the clouds to move out of my way so I could find them. If they were gone, I would be able to tell immediately, their bright lights would be blank in a sky full of their fellow soldiers. The sky was too overcast though, even with my powerful eyesight and ability to cut through darkness, the clouds were too heavy and clustered to see through. 

I cursed uncharacteristically under my breath and then again when I realized my phone was still somewhere unknown in the dark abyss of my Jeep. As I wedged one of my booted feet into the space of my car, where the hood made room for my windshield wipers, I decided that even if my parents were gone, there was no amount of torture or distress that would have prompted them to give up my location. They worked their whole lives to keep me a secret, to prepare me for the day when I would remain here alone, and on top of that, they loved me. There was no way it was them. 

I ignored the clustering Darkness as I pushed myself up and through the broken windshield, reaching for my spilled purse, whose contents littered the crushed passenger’s side door. The Shadows weren’t trying to hide anymore; they were coming for me, gathering around me as if waiting for the command to attack. I reached down hurriedly, ripping my coat against the rough edges of the broken windshield, but I managed to gather at least the important stuff into my purse before hauling it back with me and hopping down from the Jeep. 

I tossed the purse that now only held my wallet and cellphone and a few random items that managed to survive the spill, onto the snowy ground and lifted my head to meet my enemy. They moved around me like a slow tornado of darkness. As separate entities they appeared like slender gusts of black wind, but united they became a solid wall of evil. Even my keen eye sight could not see through them, or my superheated blood feel anything beyond their oppressive iciness. 

I had never seen so many Shadows in one place. I had never even heard of them organizing themselves into a unified attack. They worked separately and secretly; their purpose was to influence mankind, to spread the Darkness like a disease to every corner of this planet, not to outright attack it. The deer had to be them. And even in that instance, their work was not so much of a surprise. But surrounding me now was something so unheard of that I was more taken aback than actually frightened. 

The wall of Darkness moved against me, tightening its spaces and obviously trying to be threatening. I remained frozen, unwilling to reveal my identity even in this frontal attack. I wished more than anything that my parents were here, on planet and nearby, but this was a battle I alone would have to fight or figure out how to outmaneuver. 

One Shadow broke free from the wall and moved against me in an aggressive sweep. It sliced against my thigh before I could react, tearing my jeans where it made contact. My skin burned from the unreal cold that I could feel even in my bones. The slash spread out its icy tendrils across my leg and moved upward throughout my body in scary quickness. I felt my lungs tighten against the strain of the cold and my appendages go numb from contact. My first instinct was to cry out in pain, but I bit my cheek, willing myself quiet and for the first time thankful that my lungs held no air to expel. 

I couldn’t see beneath my layers of clothes, but I had been educated enough to know that my skin would be marked with the deathly blue lines that looked like raised, swollen veins from my skin and spread out in fingerlike vines until every inch of my body was covered in them. It was at that point, when the frozen effect of contact with the Darkness covered every inch of my body that a human would breathe their last painful, staggered breath and depart from this world. It would take less than thirty seconds, but in that time was more pain and suffering than should ever accompany a soul on their way to the afterlife. 

The smell of sulfur burned my nostrils and made my ears ring from the pain of it. I wasn’t human. And I wouldn’t die from this contact. But I felt it more strongly than any human ever could. This touch, this evil, was in direct opposition to everything I was. As dark and evil as the Shadows were, I was light and goodness. As painful as their touch could be, mine was healing and soothing. 

I made a split second decision, putting the pain aside; I decided, rationally, that I couldn’t stay out of this fight. The wall of Darkness surrounding me was waiting for me to die. If I was human, as I had thus far tried to play off, I should be lying on the ground right now, writhing in pain, mere seconds from death. Even as I stood against the agony, I knew they already figured it out. 

My parents hadn’t even started with weapons training yet, beyond the casual swing of a sword and so I was left with only one option. Unfortunately it was also the option that would give this Darkness exactly what they were looking for: the answer to my identity. 

I was a Star. 

And not just any Star. The next Protector of Earth. I was a very important Star. 

With swift movements, I unzipped my heavy coat and flung it from my arms. I moved into a battle ready stance and let the warmth, the warmth I had hidden deep inside me, bubble to the surface. My golden toned skin met my internal heat welcomingly and it spread across my body as quickly as a wildfire in a drought, healing my pain and warming me completely. I lifted my head heavenward, and let the light leave my skin and pour outward into the heavy obscurity around me. 

I couldn’t help but smile as my true essence found form in the night. I glowed, literally. Blinding, supernatural, burning light radiated around me until my human form was almost completely hidden. Heat and light left me in waves of self-protection, the Darkness desperately fled from my presence and my light that would cause them as much pain as their cold blackness caused me. 

The smell of sulfur grew stronger for only a moment as my inner light singed some of the stragglers; they shrieked an ear-piercing sound that rang painfully in my ears. And then they took to the sky in an urgent escape from a battle they were hardly prepared for. 

I smiled wider; calling back the blinding light into my body and reducing my essence to a slight outward shimmer. I reached down for my coat and slipped it back on, not bothering with the zipper. I didn’t really need the warmth now; the warmth that lived inside of me was more than enough to keep me warm, but I also didn’t want to attract anymore Shadows. 

Even without the Darkness clouding the landscape, with the absence of my supernatural light the night felt extra dark. I couldn’t wait to get home and to bed now that that was all over, but with my car upturned I needed to call Tristan to come get me. He wouldn’t be happy about me dragging him out of bed, but his grandmother and my caretaker, Annabelle, couldn’t drive at all, let alone come get me in the middle of the night. He would be even less happy when I offered him very little details about how I flipped my car over in the first place. 

Just as I reached for my phone though, a single shot of light came careening through the atmosphere and stopped suddenly somewhere high above me, obscured by the thick cloud cover. I lifted my head, expecting my parents and when the light moved into two separate lights I grew even more hopeful. One light dimmed to nothing though, but stayed elevated, somewhere up in the dark sky. That couldn’t be right. My parents wouldn’t extinguish their light before they reached the ground. 

They couldn’t, it wasn’t possible. 

The sounds of crashing and metal slicing the air recalled my attention. I squinted my eyes and searched through the heavy gray for some sign of what was happening. The cloud above my head glowed in bursts of brighter light like a terrible and destructive lightning storm and when the sounds of terrified screeching and the horrid smell of sulfur reached my nose I recognized the light as a fellow Warrior. 

But it was definitely not my parents. 

The sounds of battle continued for several more minutes, as I remained rooted on the ground. I couldn’t join the fight without a weapon and so I was left to assume who was winning by the sounds of weapons meeting targets and the high-pitched wailing of Shadows. 

Eventually the battle died down in the heavens and the death toll slowed. I didn’t know what to expect as the light darted in a fast line to my right and then shot from overhead to just a few feet in front of me. 

A human would have needed to cover their sensitive eyes from the extraordinary brightness a fellow Star illuminated. But not being human, my eyes were made of the same light and so I just watched on with impatient anticipation to discover who had arrived to clean up my mess. 

Out of the light, one figure walked forward, dim and obviously not a Star. When he was close enough that I could determine he was a man, an elderly man with snow white hair and leathered skin, I took a step back, unsure what to make of this gruff human looking person apparently with the ability to fly and see Shadows, making him decidedly not human. I shrunk into my coat, having the forbidding feeling I was about to be reprimanded. 

“Stella Day?” He demanded, stepping directly in front of me. I nodded, unexplainably more afraid of him than the entire force of Darkness. “What in this great, dead Universe, do you think you’re doing?” 

“Who are you?” I deflected meekly. If he came to fight the Darkness, surely he saw me attacked only minutes ago. 

“Does it matter who I am?” the elderly man huffed. “I could just as easily be Lucifer himself or an apparition of Darkness called here by your own stupidity! How could you just reveal yourself like that? You just gave yourself away! After all we’ve worked for, after all the sacrifices that have been made, you just throw it all away because you’re a little inconvenienced one winter night….” He had stopped talking to me, or at least stopped looking at me, in favor of mumbling to himself in an angry, aggressive tone. 

“I’m sorry,” I tried again politely, “Who are you?” 

“I’m the guy that just saved your life! That’s who!” He turned his attention wholly back on me. 

I took an intimidated step back. 

“Well, not entirely on your own,” a deep, amused voice behind the elderly man called. “You did have some help.” The light had extinguished itself into its human form, and as the boy stepped around the angry man to smile disarmingly at me, I took another step back but this time more from surprise than anything else. The boy was perfect, physically perfect. He was my age, with disheveled dark hair that curled adorably at the ends. His eyes were a piercing shade of honey that would have glowed without his internal light, as it were though, they pierced through the night and found my eyes with a locking force that took my breath away. His jawline seemed chiseled out of stone and his broad chest still heaved with the exertion of battle. 

There was no doubt about it, he was an Angel. 

An actual Angel.
I am one of those writers that can't help it! Even if I wanted to do something else, I couldn't. Writing holds that all consuming part of my soul that won't let me stop or have cohesive thoughts without turning them into a story. I published myself this year to Kindle and Smashwords with a story that I am absolutely in love with. Since my heart opens the widest for Epic Romances, that is what I attempted to write. And, hopefully, accomplished. I am a mother to three beautiful children and my husband keeps my sanity. I love this little life we have and the stories I write based on the people I hold most dear. I hope you enjoy Reckless Magic and look for the sequel Hopeless Magic in August! 

*** Cover Reveal *** Release By M.R. Merrick‏

After uniting the shifters and calling in reinforcements, Chase has to face his toughest challenge yet: learning to control his emotions. But as tensions rise and his powers grow, controlling his emotions becomes the least of his problems.

Terrorized by a multi-shifter who is hell-bent on turning him, Chase questions just how far he’s willing to go to stop his father. Meanwhile, Tiki’s virtuous nature has placed him in the middle of Vincent’s past, leaving Chase to oppose a senate of vampires and defend a demon he hates.

Trying to balance his friends, his enemies, and his inner demons, Chase is left searching for answers about the Mark, his destiny, and where he can find the next soul piece. Stopping Riley is his top priority, but as more obstacles arise, he finds himself doubting all the decisions he’s made - especially regarding Rayna.

One thing is for certain: Chase has finally realized that he doesn’t know anything. The light doesn’t always quell the darkness, the monsters don’t always stay in the shadows, and the past doesn’t always stay in the past - sometimes, the demons inside are the hardest to fight.
M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer, and author of Exiled, the first installment in The Protector Series. Having never traveled, he adventures to far off lands through his imagination and in between cups of coffee. As a music lover and proud breakfast enthusiast, he's usually found at the computer, between a pair of headphones and in front of a large bowl of cereal. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

12 Rounds by Lauren Hammond Blog Tour Stop

 Sean (Right-Hook) Reilly knows a few things about himself. One, he's the middle-weight boxing champion of the world with an undefeated record. Two, women find his cocky persona, chiseled biceps, and inked body sexy. Also, the fact that it's known that he doesn't do relationships only adds to his sex appeal. And three, he's Irish, proud of it, and a member of the Braithreachas Don Saol, a branch of the Irish mafia and king pins of the drug cartel taking over the streets of Cleveland. 

Connor Doyle(aka Connie) the boss and leader of the Braithreachas Don Saol, has been like a father to Sean, taking him under his wing and teaching him how to survive on the streets after the death of his parents. Sean has never been ungrateful, but has always wanted one thing... 

More. More to live for. More to fight for. More to believe in. A chance at a future without drugs or guns. A chance at a future without wondering which day will be his last. 

There's only one problem with that. You live by the braithreachas. You die by the braithreachas. And Sean knows whether Connie considers him to be family or not, the only way he'll be leaving the braithreachas is in a body bag. 

Hadlee Flax has had a year to overcome her issues. After almost being raped and brutalized, she's putting her best foot forward, seeing a therapist, and has even(with some persuasion from her best friend, Lara) enrolled in self defense classes. And she's doing well moving on with her life until she meets the dark, and conflicted Irish boxing champion of the world, Sean Reilly. 

Hadlee is immediately drawn to the gorgeous, cold, and mysterious man who speaks with a slight Irish brogue. She soon learns that there is much more to him than his darkened gaze, cool demeanor, and body covered in tattoos. He's not the type of man she thought he was. And Hadlee finds herself doing something she never thought she would do in the last year... 

Falling for a guy. 

Falling for Sean Reilly. A man who is on the path to becoming a boxing legend. 

One thing Hadlee doesn't know is the other part of Seans' life. His life of drug running, and killing. Or the fact that when he's not boxing he's walking the streets with a gat tucked into the back of his loose jeans, and glancing over his shoulder at every turn. 

But it doesn't take Hadlee long to learn that some attractions and relationships can be fatal. 

And sometimes... 

They just might be worth fighting for.


5 OF 5 12 ROUNDS

HOLY BABY JESUS I NEED A SEAN RIGHT HOOK REILLY RIGHT NOW! Man where to begin with this review. I have read a lot of books this year and I have LOVED a lot of books but 12 Rounds is in my top five for the year! Holy Cow was I so into this book that I just checked out and did not cook super or do homework with the kids. I told my husband dammit it is daddy duty get to it! I am reading and I don't want to be interrupted. Bawhahaha needless to say everyone left me alone to read and I was so happy!

Sean Right-Hook Reilly is a BAD BOY PERSONIFIED! Man he is a brother, boxer, player, and a member of The Irish Mob. What more could you ask for.... I mean the guy has gone through so much. Losing his mother at an early age and having to raise his sister by himself was tough enough but the mob helped him. Connor Doyle The Irish Mob's leader took Sean in and helped him be who he is. But underneath all that Sean wants more. He wants a normal life where he is not looking over his shoulder all the time or waking up thinking this is his last day. Enters Hadlee Flax into his life and Sean is taken by this sexy no holds bar girl.

Hadlee is broken and trying to put her life back together after she was attacked and almost raped. Between her best friend Lara and her therapist she is slowly putting together the pieces. Then she meets bad boy extraordinaire Sean Right Hook Reilly and her life takes a turn she never imagined it would. She is taken by Sean and wants more from him. She actually wants a relationship with him and she is scared. No one has ever done things to her heart the way Sean does. She is scared but she is ready to let Sean in her life. The only problem is she does not know Sean is in the mob. Is it worth fighting for? Will Sean be able to get out of the mob life without getting killed? Will Hadlee allow her heart to love and her body to surrender to Sean?

This is a must read! It is hot, steamy and an adventure into the unknown for both Sean and Hadlee. I can't wait for the next book in the series. Thank you Lauren for this EPIC read! 
It all began with a dinosaur, a T-Rex to be exact. He was the main character in my very first short story. Me and T, well, we went places. He is the reason I won my first essay contest at age ten. And he is probably one of the number one reasons, I pursued a career in writing. 

Throughout highschool, I was what you would call a rebel. Someone who had convinced herself that she had life figured out at age sixteen. Still, writing was my only safe-haven during that time. I wrote notebooks full of poetry, even writing fellow classmates papers for them. 

Unbeknowest to me, creative writing, seemed to be my one, true calling, my passion in life. 

At age twenty, I began writing my first novel. After that, everything seemed to fall into place. 

I won Best Poets and Poems of 2007, and The Editor's Choice award for my poem, Summer Days. 

Also, during that time I wrote or co-wrote fifteen different screenplays, some which earned me finalist spot in various screenplay competitions. 

In 2010, I've come full force, with my novel Love Sucks, that was released by Punkin House Press, in August of 2010. On top of Love Sucks, I have six novels that are slated to be released through the next five years. Also, doing some various marketing work for authors and publishers. 

I pride myself in telling fellow writers to always follow their dreams. Who knows where I would be if I would have given up.

Lauren’s Links:

Purchase links for 12 Rounds:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cover Reveal: Just for Now by Abbi Glines‏

Title: Just for Now (Sea Breeze, #4)
Age Group/Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Expected Release: October 23, 2012
Cover Design: Mooney Designs
Book trailer created by: Hellion Works
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours


The day Preston Drake figured out that wealthy women paid well for a set of tight abs and a pretty face his life turned around.

The run down rat-infested trailer he had shared with his alcoholic mother and three younger siblings was now only a place he visited to pay the bills and stock the pantry with food. 

He no longer worried about his family starving or living without electricity. The money he made entertaining rich older women more than covered his family’s needs and his own. He had it all figured out. Except…

There was this girl.

She was as innocent as he was tainted.

Amanda Hardy wished her knees didn’t get weak when Preston walked into a room. She hated the fact her heart raced when he flashed his smile in her direction. He had a different girl in his bed every night. He was the kind of boy a smart girl ran from. So, why was she coming up with ways to get close to him? Even when it was obvious he wanted to keep her at a distance.

Maybe her heart knew something the world didn’t. Maybe Preston Drake was more than just a pretty face.

Book trailer link:

Abbi Glines can be found hanging out with rockstars, taking out her yacht on weekends for a party cruise, sky diving, or surfing in Maui. Okay maybe she needs to keep her imagination focused on her writing only. In the real world, Abbi can be found hauling kids (several who seem to show up that don’t belong to her) to all their social events, hiding under the covers with her MacBook in hopes her husband won’t catch her watching Buffy on Netflix again, and sneaking off to Barnes and Noble to spend hours lost in the yummy goodness of books. If you want to find her then check Twitter first because she has a severe addiction to tweeting @abbiglines. Facebook is also somewhere she visits a little too often. She blogs regularly but rarely about anything life changing. She also really enjoys talking about herself in third person.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dante's Girl (The Paradise Diaries #1) by Courtney Cole Promo Event

Title: Dante’s Girl 
Genre and Age Group: Young Adult 
Author: Courtney Cole 
Release date: July 2012



I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring. 

Until this year. 

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes. 

2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.

3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.

4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise. 

5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference? 

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl. 

My heart just might be crazy.
Money can’t buy happiness… even in a world that begins with a Tiffany teething ring. 

Sydney Ross has it made. As the 17-year old daughter of Illinois senator Randall Ross and socialite Jillian Ross, Sydney was born with perfect teeth and a killer trust-fund. Everything about her life is idyllic…the life of a princess. The Ross’ are richer than God and twice as beautiful, the picture-perfect All-American Family. 

Except that it is all a lie. 

After a positive pregnancy test, Sydney’s life unravels in the space of just one breath. Life as she knows it is over and survival itself begins to look questionable as life and death literally hang in the balance with each sordid twist that she is dealt. 

After the shocking climax, Sydney is brought to her knees with one seething question: Who in the world can she trust when no one is who they seem to be?

Caution: This book is not set in a Mayberry kind of world nor is it a simple book about teen pregnancy. Princess is somewhat twisted and edgy. You might need to fan yourself during some parts and a box of tissues during others. It contains love, suspense, heartache and loss. Oh- and some adult themes and language, too.
Question: When your mother is a powerful witch and your father is a soul-sucking vampire, what does that make you? 

Answer: Cursed. 

With all the beauty and charm of a Siren, but cursed as a blood-sucking succubus, Empusa longs for love and a normal life. Neither of these can ever be hers, because the only thing she brings to anyone she loves is death.

Em lingers in the mortal world, hiding from her father and existing in a lonely life. Until she meets Brennan. With golden hair and a radiant smile, he captures her heart and awakens it from slumber. 

But Brennan is more than he seems. And in a relationship where life itself hangs in the balance, is love ever really enough? 


Winner’s choice of a gifted ecopy (Kindle or Nook) of Princess or Soul Kissed. Open International. If winner lives within US/Canada, they will also receive a signed 4x6 glossy of Dante’s Girl.

Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole 


Chapter One

It is impossible to look hot in the dingy fluorescent light of an airport bathroom. Or as my best friend Becca would say, hawt. 

At this particular moment, I’m not hot or hawt. I make this revelation as I vigorously scrub at my arms and face and then use a wet paper towel under my pits. 

And what is it about peeing in an airport toilet ten times in a day that makes you feel so completely scummy? I glance around at the crumpled tissues strewn about on the scuffed floor and the dirty toilets peeking from behind half-closed doors and cringe. That answer is clearly ‘because of the germs’. Ack. 

Trying not to think about it, I clean up the best I can. After running a brush through my hair, I stick a piece of gum in my mouth, apply a thin layer of lip gloss and call it good. I glance into the mirror and cringe. It isn’t good enough, but it will have to do. Very soon, I’ll put this dreadful four hour layover in Amsterdam behind me and before I even know it, I’ll be in London. 

With my father. 

For the summer. 

It would be torture. 

Just shoot me now.

And it’s not because I don’t love him, because I do. My reluctance doesn’t stem from lack of love. It comes from the deep-seeded fact that Alexander Ellis doesn’t understand me. He never has and he never will. It’s something that I’ve made my peace with and I’m not angry about it.

I’m his only child and he works his life away as some top-secret agent for the NSA. His job is so secret that I don’t even know what he does. In my head, I imagine him jumping from helicopters and saving starving children in war torn areas. But in reality, I know he probably sits behind a desk and analyzes information from a satellite stream or a taped telephone conversation. I’m pretty sure that’s what the NSA does, anyway. They aren’t the cool kind of spies. 

Also, he isn’t exactly sure what to do with a daughter. I was supposed to have been a boy. Seventeen years ago, sonograms apparently weren’t as absolute as they are today, because the technician told my parents that she was 99.9% sure that I was a boy. They painted my nursery blue and picked out my name and everything. I can only imagine the shocked horror on my father’s face when I was born with lady parts. 

Regardless, I know he loves me. Even though he had willingly given my mother full custody when they divorced years ago, I know he only did it because he works overseas so much and he isn’t exactly sure how to raise a girl. He does okay. But then again, I do have some reason to believe that he still pretends that I’m a boy, just to make it easier on himself. It’s fairly easy to do since I still have the boy name that they originally picked out. 

With my head down, I trudge back out into the congested halls of Schiphol airport. Weary travelers bustle around me and I shift my bags so that I can pull the stubborn strap of my tank top back over my shoulder where it belongs. As I do, I crash into someone with enough force that my bags go flying out of my hands and scatter onto the ground under people’s feet. 

“Son of a –“ I blurt before I even think. 

“Buck?” a male voice offers helpfully. 

Looking up, I stare into the most unique and beautiful shade of blue that a pair of eyes has ever possessed. Of that I am certain. Blue just shouldn’t be that multi-faceted and twinkling. There should be a law or something. 

Or at least a warning label: 

Caution, these eyes may cause female knees to tremble.

Before I can help it, I scan the rest of him. Sweet Mary. This guy had lucked out in the gene department. Tall, slender, beautiful. Honey colored hair that had natural highlights that could even catch the crappy airport light, broad shoulders, slim hips, long legs. He is tan and golden with a bright, white smile. 

I am surely staring at Apollo, the god of the sun. Probably with my mouth hanging open, which makes me realize that I must look like an idiot- the personification of what foreigners think Americans to be. I snap my mouth closed.

“I’m sorry,” I say quickly, trying to still my racing heart. “Did I run into you?”

“Only a bit,” Apollo says gentlemanly, with a shrug of his strong shoulders. I can tell he is strong even through his shirt sleeves, which are snug across his toned biceps. Sweet baby monkeys. 

“How can someone run into someone else only by a bit?” I ask with a nervous smile as I kneel to retrieve my stuff. 

Please don’t let him smell me right now, I silently pray to any god who cares to listen. I am sure that at this point in my travels, I probably smell like soiled hamster bedding. 

He bends next to me and picks up the contents of my spilled purse. He smells like sunshine. And rain. And everything beautiful that I can think of. I try not to cringe as his fingers grasp a tampon and slide it back inside my bag. He doesn’t even flinch, he just casually continues to pick up my things like he’s used to handling feminine hygiene products. 

“Oh, it’s fairly easy, really,” he answers. He has an exotic sounding accent that I can’t place. “At least, when you’re not looking where you’re going.” My head snaps up and he laughs. 

“I’m kidding,” he assures me as he extends an arm to me. Even his hand is graceful. I gulp as his fingers curl around mine. “You can bump into me any time you’d like.”

“Thanks,” I mumble. “I think.”

“I’m Dante,” he tells me, his impossibly blue eyes still twinkling. 

“I’m Reece,” I answer with a sigh, already anticipating his reaction. “Yes, I know it’s a boy’s name.”

“You’re not a boy,” Dante observes. “Most definitely not a boy.”

Is that a note of appreciation in his voice? Surely not. I look like a bedraggled Shih Tzu. 

“No, I’m not,” I agree. “I just don’t know that my dad ever got that memo.” 

I look past Dante and find that he is alone. He seems to be about my age so that’s a little unusual in these circumstances. My parents had flown me as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ across the ocean for years, but other people’s parents are usually a little squeamish about that. 

“I’m sure that fact hasn’t escaped him,” Dante tells me in amusement. Why do his eyes have to sparkle so much? I usually go for brown-eyed guys. But this boy is most certainly making me re-think that stance.

“That’s debatable,” I sigh. Realizing that we are impeding the busy pedestrian traffic like a dam in a rushing river, I smile. 

“Thank you very much for helping me pick up my things. Safe travels!” 

I turn on my heel and pivot, walking quickly and what I hope is confidently in the other direction. Hitching my heavy purse up on my shoulder, I fight the urge to turn and look at him. Something about him is practically mesmerizing.

But I don’t look. I keep walking, one foot in front of the other. When I reach the moving walkway, I hop on and focus ahead of me, eyes straight forward. 

Don’t look back. 

Don’t look back. 

Don’t look back.

Regardless of my silent chanting, when I step from the walkway I discreetly check behind me. Apollo is nowhere to be seen. With a sigh, I continue on to the British Airways terminal. Only three short hours left until take-off. Plugging my earbuds into my ears, I settle into a seat and close my eyes. 

* * * 

“Excuse me, Reece?” 

Before I even open my eyes, I know the sexy accent is coming from Apollo. I can feel his epic hotness emanating through my eyelids. I only hope that I haven’t been drooling in my sleep.

“Yes?” I ask as nonchalantly as I can while my eyes pop open. I try to discreetly smooth my hair down. In my head, I envision myself as Chewbacca from Star Wars and wince. 

Dante hands me my phone, which must’ve fallen from my lap as I napped. 

“Are you on the flight to London?” he grins. “They’re boarding priority travelers now. I just thought you should know.”

Yikes. I had slept for three hours? In a noisy airport? I must have been super tired.

“Thank you,” I reply quickly, gathering my things in a rush. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I’m not a priority traveler, but I probably would have slept through general boarding. Thank you for waking me.”

I glance at him as I stand up and can’t help but do a double take. It isn’t easy to get used to his particular brand of sexy. He is laid-back, handsome and casual, which is a formula for utter female devastation. The impossible thing is that he doesn’t seem to realize it. He’s effortlessly sophisticated and chic.

“Well, you’re awake now and that’s the important thing. Have a nice trip, Reece,” Dante grins once more before he joins a group of men who are apparently waiting for him. I was wrong, I guess. He isn’t alone after all. The men close around him in a tight circle and they board the plane with the other passengers with first class tickets. 

He’s on my flight. 

I gulp and find a place in line with the other travelers flying coach. 

As the richer, better-dressed passengers file past us, I feel a little like a bumpkin in rumpled clothing. Even though I travel to London every summer to visit my dad, I live in rural America the rest of the year. And all of a sudden, I feel like I am wearing a blinking neon sign proclaiming that very fact. The clothing that had seemed sophisticated to travel in this morning now seems like it was hand-made in someone’s backwoods shed. 

And it so makes sense that Apollo is in first class. He smells like a beautiful sunrise in a wooded meadow. Oh, my gosh. What is wrong with me? Where did that come from? I am totally being as corny as an erectile dysfunction commercial. 

I roll my eyes at my own absurdity and hand my ticket to the heavily made-up flight attendant who is waiting to take it. She glances at it and then at me before she stamps my passport and hands it back. 

“Have a nice flight, Miss Ellis,” she tells me before turning her attention to the passenger behind me. 

Yeah, right. 

I like flying almost as much as I like having dental work. Or having my fingernails pulled out one by one. Or having paper cuts sliced onto my legs and then lemon juice poured onto them. Just about that much.

Filing down the narrow aisle through first class, I can’t help but search out Apollo. It doesn’t take long to find him. He is situated by the window in a wide, leather first-class seat. He’s already covered in a warm blanket and looks like he is settling in for the hour long flight. As I move closer to him, his eyes pop open and meet mine, the electric blue of his almost causing me to gasp aloud. 

He smiles slightly as I pass and his gaze doesn’t waver from mine. 

I find myself wishing that I could sit next to him. Not only because of the lavish first class seats, although those would be nice too. 

But rather, there is something in the air between Dante and me. I can feel it, an instant connection. I can practically reach out and touch it. I’ve never experienced chemistry like this in my life. It’s the kind that seems corny when you read about it in books, but in real life, it is anything but. It is simply electrifying. Ripping my eyes from his, I continue down the aisle and find my seat.

Taking a deep breath, I stash my carry-on in the overhead bin and slump into the window seat, trying not to hyperventilate as my fear of flying suddenly overwhelms me while the cramped airplane closes in around me. 

Deep breath in. 

Deep breath out. 


I watch the flight crew below me loading the bags into the belly of the plane. What if they dislodge the landing gear while they are messing around down there? What if they don’t check the systems well enough and we die in a fiery crash? What if the metal holding the plane together rips off in the air and peels away like tissue paper?

Deep breath in. 

Deep breath out. 


I might die. 


I listen impatiently as the flight attendants give their safety spiel and motion toward the exits like they are NFL referees with dumb tiny scarves around their necks. I just need for them to get on with it. Just let us taxi out and take-off and then I will be perfectly fine once we are in the air. My hands get clammy and my ears start to roar. Why am I such a freak?

Deep breath in. 

Deep breath out. 


You freaking flight attendants.



I’m just getting ready to shove my earbuds back in to distract myself when Dante appears next to me like a savior or an angel or something of equal beauty and importance. 

“Is this seat taken?” he smiles and I notice a dimple in his right cheek that I hadn’t noticed before. How had I missed a dimple?

“Um, not that I know of,” I answer weakly, trying not to die from heart palpations. “But the seat belt sign is on. You’re not supposed to be out of your seat.” 

Fabulous. Now I sound like a hall monitor with a heart problem. 

Dante shrugs without seeming worried. 

“I think it will be okay,” he answers. “We’re not even on the runway yet.”

“Good point.”

“Can I sit here? I’m bored up front.”

I nod, my palms instantly clammier. “I hope you brought your blanket. You won’t get much back here except for a bag of peanuts.”

And now I sound like a cheap hall monitor with a heart problem. I’m presenting myself better and better by the moment. 

Dante smiles yet again and sits next to me. He brings his charming accent with him and the scent of his amazing cologne. I take a deep breath. He smells far better than the stale airplane air. Far better. I fight the urge to jump into his lap and inhale his neck, a maneuver that just might make me appear slightly insane.

“You look pretty pale,” he observes as he buckles up. “Are you afraid to fly?”

“Is it that obvious?” I ask quietly. “As much as I’ve flown in my lifetime, I should be used to it. But I’m afraid that’s never going to happen. Once I’m in the air for awhile, I’ll be fine, but until then… well, I’m terrified. I admit it.”

“Don’t worry,” Dante tells me quietly, his voice calm and reassuring. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re more likely to get into a--” 

“Car crash rather than die in a plane crash,” I interrupt. “Yes, I know. I’ve heard. Where are you from?” I ask curiously, half out of genuine curiosity and half out of the need to distract myself. “You have the most interesting accent.”

He smiles, his teeth brilliantly white. I decide on the spot that I could watch him smile all day long. 

“Caberra,” he answers, reminding me that I had asked a question. “It’s an island near Greece. And you?” 

“Like you don’t know that I’m American,” I chuckle. “I know it’s written all over me. I’m sure you’re a fan, right?” 

“Of Americans?” he raises a golden eyebrow. “Of course. I love them. I have no reason not to. They bring a lot of tourist dollars to Caberra.”

“Well, we are a land of excess,” I admit. “But that’s usually what foreigners seem to hate about us.” 

Dante stares at me for a moment and then smiles. “Well, I can’t speak for all foreigners, but I don’t hate Americans. And you’re not in America right now, are you?”

I shake my head. “No, I am most certainly not.”

“Well, then. You’re the foreigner now.” He grins and I can’t help but smile back. He has a point.

The pilot gets on the intercom and his nasally voice drones on and on, but I am able to tune it out as I engage in conversation with a boy who is surely a direct descendent of the gods. There is no other plausible explanation for his good looks or charm. I barely even hear the words that come out of Dante’s mouth, because I am so mesmerized by the shape of his lips as he moves them. Pathetic, I know, but true. 

One thing about me: I don’t lie to myself. I might stretch the truth for my parents from time to time when necessary, but never to myself. And I’m pathetically fascinated by this boy.

Finally, the aircraft shudders a bit and noses forward and I startle, gripping the arms of my seat. My fingers turn white and I am certain that I am leaving permanent indentions in the cracked vinyl arm-rests.

“Don’t worry,” Dante says quietly, unpeeling one of my hands and grasping it within his own. “It will be fine.”

The feel of his hand distracts me. Strong and warm, it cups my own carefully, like he is holding something very fragile. I close my eyes and enjoy the feeling. I only have a couple of minutes to soak it in, however. 

As the plane moves down the runway in preparation for take-off, something happens. Something isn’t right. 

Our plane rocks a little, then quivers, like it is being moved by a strong gust of wind. I feel it a brief moment before Dante tightens his grip on my hand, a split second before light explodes from outside of my eyelids. I open them to discover fire tearing down the runway past my window. Before I can react or even scream, all hell breaks loose. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Antithesis (The Antithesis, #1) by Terra Whiteman‏ Blog Tour Stop

The Series 
Title: The Antithesis 
Series: The Antithesis, #1 
Author: Terra Whiteman 
Genre: Dark, Fantasy, Dystopian, Philosophical, Science Fiction, Speculative 
Publisher: 1889 Labs 
Pages: 450 


PRINT (ISBN: 978-1926959085) 

Book Description: 

Justice Alezair Czynri is the newest recruit of the Jury, a group of powerful beings who reside in Purgatory and enforce the Code between Heaven and Hell. However, Justice Czynri could not have come at a worse time. A storm lays just over the horizon… 

One that brings with it a war. 


This is a story about God and the Devil, but not how you were taught to believe. 

This is also a story about love and hate, and the suffering both can bring. 

This is about rights and wrongs, and all of the spaces in between. 

This is about revenge, courage, death, passion; with no villains, no heroes… only those left scorned. 

This is a story about Heaven, Hell, and the Jury that holds them together. 

This is The Antithesis.



First I would like to thank FMB Blog Tours for allowing me to read an ARC copy of this book and hosting on my blog Kaidans Seduction. I have to say that I have never read a story where there were so many things going on that had me like lord have mercy why are you doing that, why did he say that??? 

There is a contest between heaven and hell and our main character Alizair is a judge who presides over hell. The contest is in place to make sure there is no war between heaven and hell. People must follow the rules or they will be judged and be punished. Alizar has such a crazy job being a judge but he is fair and swift with punishments when needed.

This book took me on such a roller coaster ride because I have grown up in a religious house and my grandparents were very strict about us learning about God and Satan and this book takes it to a new level where yes there is the religious aspect but there is also the human side to things. I really enjoyed this first book and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. This is one of those series where at the end on the last page you scream what the heck I need more! Terra you have created a great world and I thank you for sharing it with us. 


The Terabicz Ruins was a collection of towers composed of black rock and sharp peaks, complete with floating circular platforms hovering in the sky like halos. Vines could be seen wedged between surface fractures, though I didn’t understand how any vegetation could survive in this perpetual darkness. 

A winding staircase led to the first platform a thousand feet up. As we approached the base, Leid tripped over her own feet, landing on her knees. 

I moved forward, but she shot out a hand to stop me. I froze. 

Then she lurched, vomiting blood all over the first step. 

I reeled back, eyes wide, fear rising in my throat. Leid only crouched on the steps, panting. 

“Jesus Christ!” I shouted, the confusion and fear now propelling into anger. “Are you dying?!” 

“No,” she responded coarsely. 

Leid tried to get up, but collapsed. She attempted getting up a second time, made it one more step, but then collapsed again. 

I frowned, kneeling in front of her with my back turned. “Get on.” 

Reluctantly she crawled over me, wrapping her arms around my shoulders, legs hooking my elbows. She couldn’t protest this time; walking was out of the question. 

I began up the stairs, Leid now on my back. 

“Thank you,” I heard her murmur quietly. 

“Sure thing. Just don’t puke on me.” 

The climb was exhausting, seeming to never end. Leid wasn’t heavy in the least, and in fact Vel’Haru could probably lift three hundred times their own weight; but the last four days of almost nonexistent sleep and nonstop traveling had finally caught up with me. I was tired, and it was showing. 

I took a breather on the first platform. The second, I’d decided to just keep going. By the apex, I was staggering. 

The apex platform was shockingly covered in moss. An iron gate surrounded a stone temple with a courtyard covered in…statues. 

“What is this place?” I whispered. 

“Civen’s old temple. Since the Deadland’s decline, another has been built in Alatonia.” 

I now understood why she’d placed the statue here. It would have blended in perfectly with the garden of others surrounding the temple. My eyes drifted over the platform, a frown pulling at my lips. Something didn’t feel right. It was so quiet, though that had been consistent throughout the entire area. I really couldn’t explain why I had this sense of impending doom. 

Slowly, I carried Leid toward the gate. 

My hand pushed against it; it opened with a creak. 

I stepped inside, eyes surveying the courtyard. 

It was isolated, save for the ever still and silent stone army surrounding us. I moved to the side of the wall, kneeling and letting Leid slide off. She collapsed against the ground, limply sitting up. 

I had to admit I was a little pissed off for the fact that there weren’t any demons here. All of this for practically nothing? Though I supposed it would have been considerably bad otherwise since Leid could barely move and I currently wasn’t at my best. 

“Hurry,” she pleaded. 

I nodded, and she hadn’t needed to point out which statue was the target. Despite the clever hiding spot, it stuck out like a sore thumb. 

Surrounded in marble soldiers and half-naked maidens, a woman knelt; arm outstretched, eyes wide and lips parted in the beginnings of a despairing cry. She seemed carved out of black glass, shimmering like an obsidian beacon within the otherwise white wash of the garden. 

…Obsidian. This woman. 

I momentarily forget about my sick noble, slowly moving toward it, seamlessly weaving through the other nondescript statues. My eyes were narrowed, head slightly tilted in curious awe. 

I stopped in front of her, drifting over the details of her face; all the while my face had become a contortion of disarray. I spun, pointing at the statue. 

“Why does this thing look exactly like you?” 

Leid tried to respond but coughed instead. When she was finished, she tried again: 

“Will you just kill it, please? We’ll talk about this later.” 

“…How do I kill it?” 

“With your fists, you genius. Smash it to bits.” 

“Exactly how were you expecting to destroy this thing on your own, by the way?” 

“Shut up and finish it!” 

“Not until you take back what you said.” 

Leid stared, falling silent. She knew what I meant. 

I waited, silent as well. 

Conceding, she looked away shamefully. “I was angry; I didn’t mean it.” 

“What didn’t you mean?” 

“I would never regret meeting you, Alezair. I’m sorry.” 

Though I’d coerced her into saying this, I could tell she was being sincere. Her expression was somber, painfully so. 

I grinned. “Thanks. One pile of black sand coming right up.” 

I turned, just as a thwump broke through the air. I felt a pinch. My grin faded into a confused wince and I looked down at the source of the sharp pain. 

…There was a dart sticking out of my chest. 

I looked up at Leid, though my vision was already beginning to blur; the world around me swayed. She was screaming something, pointing behind me, but now everything was moving in slow motion and I was having trouble comprehending. 

I was about to turn but was tackled; a group of hands held me down, shoving my face into the moss. I thrashed, snarling, still strong enough to fling some of my assailants off. But each time a pair of hands left, another instantly replaced them. I couldn’t see anything—just a cluster of feet as the crowd scurried around, trying to keep me down. 

Another group of feet left the crowd and began for Leid, who at this moment was hopelessly trying to crawl away. As they got further from us I could see them clearly: 

Demons. Tons of them; at least two dozen. 

Instead of retreating for the gate, Leid deliriously went the wrong way. During the struggle I’d been shoved about twenty feet from the statue. She was crawling toward us. 

The demons pursuing her eventually backed off, waiting at the first row of statues. When Leid passed the third row, a shadow slid out from one of them, advancing slowly in a steady, calculated gait. 

I squinted, teeth clenched and still struggling, trying to see the demon clearly. And then I did. 

It was Caym Stroth, Raith’s second general. Unusually dressed in a black suit, the Obsidian Court insignia on his right shoulder, he held a giant serrated axe, swinging it nonchalantly at his side. He whistled an unfamiliar tune as Leid scrambled toward the statue. It seemed she was too delirious to even see him. 

“Leid!” I screamed, though it was pointless because she couldn’t hear me. “Leid, behind you!” 

She was now within a foot of the statue. Gasping, she reached toward it with a trembling outstretched hand. 

Caym stopped behind her, lifting the axe over his head, his lips curling into a malicious sneer. 
Terra Whiteman is a scientist who writes whenever she's not doing things that scientists do. She loves philosophy, chemistry, biology, classical literature, graphic novels, loud, obnoxious music, frog slippers and beer. 

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