September 25, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: WILDFIRE (A Wine Country Mystery) by Scott Bury #excerpt

Today I’m delighted to help promote the latest upcoming release by talented bestselling author, Scott Bury, by posting a teaser to tempt all of you. Scott lives to entertain, writing stories that span genres and audiences. He’s been a cohort of mine for a number of years now, and I know you’ll love this latest project of his! Check out this beautiful cover:

Read on to learn more about this incredible book, and be sure to buy the novel after the excerpt pulls you in!

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Title: Wildfire

Series: Wine Country Mysteries

Author: Scott Bury

Genre: Mystery

Release Date: March 22, 2018

About the Book: 

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

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EXCERPT: “Neighbors Stick Together”

The Harris family had arrived minutes after their call, carrying baskets and bags of food.

Mrs. Harris was a small woman with thick glasses, thick, wavy brown hair and a wide, bright smile. She wrapped her arms around Veronica as soon as she saw her, rocking the larger woman gently. “Oh, my poor dear. This is just awful. Awful. I feel so badly for you, dear.” She stepped back and looked at Veronica carefully. “You are holding up so bravely. Let me tell you that if there’s anything you need—absolutely anything—all you have to do is call. We had a little damage, but nothing like your loss.”

She carried three big grocery bags into Veronica’s kitchen. Tara went to help her unpack. “Thank you, Mrs. Harris. I think this will mean a lot to Veronica.”

“Call me Janet. My name isn’t ‘Harris,’ anyway. It’s Oakley. Steven and I aren’t married, and I’m not Cameron’s mother.”

“Sorry. I guess I just assumed—”

“Perfectly understandable, dear.” Janet began unpacking produce and plastic containers of prepared food into the refrigerator. “Oh! Is the power out?”

“Is it okay at your place?”

“Yes, thankfully. We lost a lot of grapevines, and one of the outbuildings we use for storage is gone. But we have power.”

“It’s got something to do with weird wiring,” Tara explained. Janet gave her a quizzical look. “I’m not sure, but it seems that the power comes in through the garage, so with the garage gone, all the power for every building is out.”

“Well, I guess I better not leave the fridge door open, then.”

They returned to the living room. Mr. Harris wanted to see the fire damage, so Tara decided to take him and Cameron to look, leaving Veronica in the warmth of Janet Oakley.

“Did you have any damage?” Tara asked Steven Harris.

“Some to one of our outbuildings, and we lost a couple of acres of vineyard,” the elder Harris replied. He walked toward the gate that led to Rocky Creek’s vineyard.

“What happened to you?” Tara asked, pointing with her eyes at the bandage on Cameron’s arm.

“This? Oh, I ah … I fell when we were evacuating.”

“You fell on your arm?”

“Sometimes, the boy can be clumsy,” said the elder Harris. “It’s the damnedest thing.”

“What is?” Tara asked.

“How this kid can be an athlete, a rock-climber, and fall and damn near break his arm walking from the vineyard to get into the car. And you know what else is damned strange?”

“Uhhh …”

“This vineyard is between mine and the garage. It’s untouched. Damnedest thing.”

“Flying embers,” Cameron said. The other two looked at him. “Embers. That’s how wildfires spread. The wind was really strong. They’re what started the fires in the first place. Didn’t you hear? High winds knocked down a power line, and sparks started a fire. It’s been so awfully dry all summer, which made perfect conditions for a fire. Those same winds spread them fast. They blew embers from our vineyards, which are upwind here,” As if to prove his point, a gust ruffled Cameron’s curly hair. “to the DaSilva property, setting the garage on fire.”

“And skipping the vineyard completely? There are acres of property in between,” said the elder Harris.

Cameron shrugged. “They were really strong winds, remember?”

“I remember.”

“Have you ever had anything like this happen before?” Tara asked.

“Wildfires are a yearly problem in California,” the older Harris answered. “If it’s not wildfires, it’s mud slides.”

“Yes, but fires with winds like this? Skipping over large areas?”

“Wildfires are very unpredictable,” Cameron interjected. “The news reports are full of stories about how one house is burned to the ground, and the next-door neighbor is untouched.”

Cameron strode back to the garage. “Look at these bushes,” he said, pointing to a pile of charred wood on the ground between the gate and the garage. “This is where they must have landed. The bushes started burning, and that set the garage on fire. But since the wind was pushing from the east, the fire didn’t go back toward the vines. It pushed the fire into the garage. Plus, there’s always lots of flammable material in a garage.”

“Alan was always very neat and careful,” Harris growled. “He wouldn’t be one to leave flammable material lying around.”

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PRE-ORDER WILDFIRE:

 Amazon ~ Smashwords

READ CHAPTERS 1+2 FOR FREE NOW:

Wattpad

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury turned to writing fiction with a children’s story, Sam, the Strawb Part, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller: Dark Clouds. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

Scott was invited to write for three Kindle Worlds, where authors base novellas on the fictional worlds of bestselling series. For Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World, he wrote Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying and Echoes.

For Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, he contributed Jet: Stealth, featuring the explosive duo of Van and LeBrun.

And for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World, he brought Van and LeBrun back for The Wife Line and The Three-Way.

Now, he is beginning a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck. Find out more about Scott and his writing on his website, ScottBury.com.

Pick up FOR EVERLY by Raine Thomas for $0.99 until 6/23! #NewAdult #Romance

Today is the first day of my Sizzlin’ Summer Solstice Sale! I’ve decided to offer my latest release, For Everly, for just 99 cents between today and Sunday the 23rd. This is the season for hot summer reads, so I hope you’ll pick it up and spread the word!

In the spirit of the big sale, I’d like to share a previously unreleased excerpt from the book. I hope you enjoy it! If you do, the links to purchase the books are at the end of the post. Happy reading!

Excerpt from For Everly

Everly felt Cole’s gaze on her as she greeted the new guests at table eighteen. She couldn’t say she had ever actually felt her pulse in her neck before then. Her heart beat so wildly in her chest that she could feel it with every breath.

Cole Parker was sitting in her station.

She couldn’t decide what amazed her more…that a super-hot Major League ballplayer was sitting in her station, or that she had been friends with his brother for a couple of years without knowing of their relationship. Wyatt would have some answering to do when she next worked with him. He loved to talk baseball with her, but he’d never mentioned the connection.

Of course, she wasn’t exactly one to go into her personal life during school and work time either. She couldn’t be too hard on him.

Passing Wyatt as he returned to his table, she smiled at him and headed to get table eighteen’s drinks. Once she was out of sight of the diners, she pulled the payment folder from table nineteen out of her apron pocket. She feared they had walked without paying, but Rowan forbade the servers to look in the folders until they were in the back of the house, not wanting the guests to be offended.

Five crisp one hundred dollar bills sat on top of the signed credit card slip. Everly stared down at them for a full minute. She picked them up and verified that they looked and felt genuine. Then she realized the credit card slip was signed in a feminine hand with the words, “If I could tip negatively, I would,” written across the gratuity line.

Clearly, Blondie hadn’t left her the largest tip of her life.

Following a hunch, Everly eased her head just beyond the etched glass barrier that separated her from view of the dining room. Cole met her gaze.

She knew in an instant that he had left the tip.

Stepping back behind the barrier, she stuffed the money into her pocket. Now wasn’t the time to wrestle with how she felt about the fact that Cole Parker had just given her a five hundred dollar tip…and she fully intended to keep it.

She made a decent amount of money in other tips, too. By the time her shift ended and the restaurant was empty of customers, she knew she’d be able to pay for her grandpa’s in-home nurse for another week and possibly cover her car insurance to boot. It was a good night despite the wretched guest at table nineteen.

And soon she was going to meet with Wyatt and his little brother. As she collected salt and pepper containers from the tables and carried them to the back for refilling, she wondered what they wanted to discuss with her.

“Everly, I’m gonna give you a pass on side work tonight.”

She looked up upon hearing the New York-Italian accent and spotted Rowan Ferullo as he emerged from the kitchen wearing an apron. Although he had hired the best staff in the city to run his restaurant, he often had a hand in the kitchen. Everyone affectionately called him a fireplug. He stood only an inch or two taller than Everly’s own five-foot, nine-inch height and didn’t carry an ounce of fat on his wide frame. There was no need for a bouncer with Rowan in the house.

“Thanks boss,” she said.

“No, thank you for dealin’ with Lady of Bel-frickin’-Aire. I still wish you’d a let me ban her from my place of business.”

“That would have only made her night complete. This way, she gets to burn by knowing we weren’t at all affected by her behavior.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Rowan’s dark eyes crinkled with mischief. “But just let her try comin’ back in here.”

Everly smiled. She could admit to herself that she’d pay money to see that woman try to go head-to-head with her boss. Blondie had no idea what she’d escaped thanks to Everly’s intervention.

“Go on back to my office,” Rowan said. “Wyatt and Cole are in there waitin’ for you. Wy’s bein’ very secretive about all this. Maybe he’s tryin’ to hook you two up, eh?”

He laughed when Everly’s face started burning. Then he turned and headed back into the kitchen.

Everly stopped to get her coat and purse before heading back to Rowan’s office. She considered his words. Could Wyatt be playing matchmaker? Why would he need to do that? Cole surely had access to all kinds of women. Wyatt knew that she didn’t have a social life. School, work, and caring for her grandpa took up her time.

Good Lord. Was he setting her up with Cole?

She paused outside the office door and tried to decide how she felt about that possibility. Insulted? Flattered? Horrified? Giddy?

Her pulse thrummed as she knocked once and then opened the door. Wyatt turned from where he stood looking out a window and smiled at her. She’d always found his smile delightful and engaging, the perfect complement to his Prince Charming looks. Now she found herself wondering what that smile masked.

Glancing at the small couch in the ten by ten office, she saw Cole sprawled across both cushions, his long legs stretched halfway into the middle of the room. His dark hair was more tousled than it had been when he first arrived. She found herself thinking he must be grateful he could wear a ball cap over it half the year so he didn’t have to style it. His dark suit jacket was folded over the arm of the couch and his white shirt sleeves had been rolled up enough to reveal his muscular forearms.

Her mouth went dry. She supposed that was better than drooling, which is what she was doing in her mind.

Okay, she thought, taking a deep breath. Remember you’ve dealt with some of the worst life can hand you. You can handle anything.

Then she squared her shoulders and pulled the door closed behind her, bracing herself for whatever Wyatt had up his sleeve.

~     ~     ~

Buy For Everly for 99 cents on:

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble

Prepping for SHIFT’s Release: an All New Teaser Tuesday!

We’re in the final countdown to the release of Shift this coming Friday! It’s only appropriate that I set the stage with an all-new teaser for your reading pleasure. Oh…and the book trailer debuted last week! I’ll include it here, too.

As always, thanks so much for the support. Happy reading!

Excerpt: Shift (Firstborn Trilogy #2)

Chapter 1

Quincy started down the hill as soon as Sophia loped away. He had seen Olivia’s grimace when she stood up after speaking with her daughter. As both a friend and the Estilorian who served as the obstetrician for Olivia and her sisters, Amber and Skye, he was concerned by her obvious discomfort.

“Do you need any assistance, Olivia?” he asked.

He stopped a couple of feet from her, studying her for physiological indicators of how she felt. He knew that these last days before the projected due date were particularly wearying on the expectant mother. Her energy and abilities weakened as she prepared for the birth. It was one of the reasons that Olivia and her sisters had remained behind when their firstborn children recently ventured away from the protected homeland.

Her pupils and breathing were normal now, he was pleased to note.

“I sure do,” she answered with a grin. “Can you get Sophia to quit skipping out on her training sessions?”

His lips twitched. “Are you sure you don’t have something less challenging for me? Maybe a previously unknown pain, or a dire threat to your person I could possibly avert?”

“I can hear you,” Sophia called out.

The irritation in her voice had Quincy grimacing. “Sorry,” he said loudly toward the open door of the house. Then, more quietly, he said, “Oops.”

Olivia smiled and waved it off. “Sophia deserves the knock. She’s terrible about participating in the training sessions and she knows it.” Her voice rose in volume when she added, “I’ll never let her leave home again if she doesn’t start taking this more seriously.”

“Yeah, yeah…I get it,” Sophia replied in a grumble.

Quincy shook his head. “Well, let me know if you experience any signs of the baby’s impending arrival, okay? If you’d be more comfortable with me sticking around here instead of joining the others at the waterfall, I’d be happy to.”

“You’re very sweet, Quincy. Thanks.” She once again ran a hand over her belly. “But I think we’re still okay for now.”

“All right. Then I’ll go wait for Sophia and the others near the training paddock. You know how to find me if you need me.”

“Absolutely.” Olivia smiled and turned to walk back into the house. “And if you happen to give Sophia another lecture on the importance of learning to defend herself in hopes it might penetrate her hard head, I wouldn’t mind a bit.”

“Sure thing,” he said.

As he walked toward the training paddock, he considered Olivia’s concern for Sophia’s well-being. It very closely mirrored his own. He clearly remembered the challenges he and Sophia faced together in their pursuit of Tate all those weeks ago. Sophia had nearly been killed. The fear and anguish he’d experienced while treating her injuries surely reflected what Olivia would have felt in his place.

Why wouldn’t it? he mused now. After all, they both loved her.

He supposed the biggest difference was that Sophia didn’t have any idea how he felt about her. And he had yet to figure out how to change that.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Want more? Check out the amazing trailer by Flatline Films!

Teaser Tuesday: POSERS by Fantasy Novelist L.M. Davis

Today’s teaser is from a book by a wonderful YA author I had the chance to meet at UtopYACon 2012 just a couple of weeks ago. A fellow fantasy buff, L.M. Davis likes to write “on the dark side.” I managed to convince her to participate in two posts, so please tune in again tomorrow to learn more about this lovely lady and her work!

I’m also very excited to mention that L.M. is offering to give away three–yes, THREE–copies of her latest book Posers: A Shifters Novel in e-book format. To enter for your chance to win, just comment on today’s blog and/or tomorrow’s blog, and/or follow L.M. on Twitter, like her page on Facebook, and/or friend her on Goodreads and let her know you’d like to win. The more of these options you do, the greater your chance to win!

If you’re still not sure, just read on for an enticing excerpt from Posers. I know you’ll be convinced!

Posers Book Blurb

After the strangest summer of their lives, Nate and Larissa prepare to face their biggest challenge yet: High school.

With jocks that seem intent on making Nate’s life miserable, the reappearance of the mysterious green-haired shifter (now with new and improved blue hair), and Charlie, the new girl, who affects Nate in the weirdest way, it’s shaping up to be a doozy!

Greendale High isn’t the only place in turmoil; Panteria is dying and only the Pantera twins can save it. Will Nate  return to the world that he has sworn to hate before it’s too late?

Excerpt from Posers: A Shifters Novel by L.M. Davis

Noob!

Nate studied the slip of paper in his hand.  It was the first day of classes and he was trying to figure out where to go next.  His schedule, as far as he could figure, had been designed by some sort of torture expert.  Each time the bell rang, he would dash across the building to his next class, which seemed to be the furthest possible point from the room he just left.  Already that morning he had crossed the building three times.

Early World History was no exception.  From where he was in E-Wing, he had to make it all the way over to W-Wing and then down a flight of stars.  All in four minutes.  He had already been late once, and he had already been warned that tardiness could result in detention.

Gritting his teeth, Nate hoisted his bag onto his shoulder.  There was no time to stop at his locker between periods like all the kids with normal schedules.  So he had to lug all of his books for his morning classes around for one more period before lunch.  He had so much stuff, that he had to carry some of it in his hands.  Sighing, he pushed the breezeway door open, entered the main building, and came to a standstill.

Before him was a surging crowd of kids, all of whom were using the break to scurry to lockers, chatter with friends, and then hurry on to the next period.  The crowd thinned and swelled in unending waves, and for a moment he felt as isolated as a tiny island in the midst of a vast and battering ocean.

The clock that hung above the door at the far end of the hall read 10:33.  He had two minutes until the bell.  Two minutes to get through the unmoving ocean of people that stood between him and the breezeway doors at the other end of the hall.  There was no way he was getting to class on time.

Sighing with resolve, he ducked his head down and started to wind his way through the sea of bodies.  Every few feet, he muttered “excuse me” as he slipped through gaps in the crowd.  Not that his politeness mattered.  No one even looked in his direction.  He glanced again at the clock.  Still 10:33 and he was almost half way there.  Maybe he would make it after all.

Before he could take another two steps, he smacked right into a wall.  At least, it felt like a wall.  As he stumbled backward, his binder flew out of his hand and into the air.  For a second, all Nate saw were notebooks, folders, papers, and pens flying in all different directions, as though in slow motion, before finally clattering to the floor.

Immediately, he dropped to the ground and began to collect his stuff.  The crowd surged around him, giving him a wide berth but never ceasing its steady flow; though many upperclassmen snickered as they passed and one even paused long enough to call out “Nice move noob!”  The hall erupted in laughter and Nate’s ears burned.  He continued to collect the items, moving perhaps a smidge faster than was wise or humanly possible, wanting only to get away from the laughter of the people who passed.

Finally, when he had collected everything, he rose.  He looked around, trying to figure out what he had hit.  In front of him was a massive baby blue structure, emblazoned with the image of the school’s mascot—a bucking bronco.  It was then that he realized that the wall was moving.  Nate recoiled, confused.  After a moment, he recognized that it was not a wall, but a massively huge boy.  He wore a letterman jacket.  Above the picture of the mascot, a nickname—appropriately “The Wall”— was scrawled in a cursive script.

“My fault,” Nate apologized.  He smiled sheepishly at the boy, who must have been at least six and a half feet tall and at least a third as wide.  He had a huge, broad head with closely cropped wavy hair that was the almost exactly the same dark chocolate shade as his brown skin.  When the larger boy grinned in return, Nate readjusted his bag and started to walk forward.

But rather than let him pass, the boy slid over—incredibly agilely for someone his size—and held up his hands in a gesture that was at once neutral and threatening.  His grin widened, becoming less friendly and more mocking.  “What’s your hurry, Noob?”

“The Wall’s” voice filled the hall, and his question was accompanied by a few snickers as the guys that he had been goofing around with turned to examine Nate.  There were six of them in all.  All of them were athletes, if the crimson and light blue letterman jacks, which they wore with obnoxious pride despite the eighty degree temperatures, were any indication.  Which sport wasn’t clear, but Nate guessed football given the size of the kid he had just smashed in to.  Abruptly, the eyes of half of the students in the hallway were on him.  He was suddenly the center of attention, which was the absolute last place that he wanted to be on the first day of school.

Nate eyed the group.  Though they had not moved from slouching against their lockers, they seemed suddenly more menacing.  There was a mischievous gleam in their eyes that veered towards malevolence.

His shifter senses went into overdrive.  His nostrils flared and he could smell their excitement.  It was acrid and bitter, searing his nostrils as he inhaled.  They were on the hunt.  The boys fidgeted restlessly, looking back and forth at each other and then at “The Wall.”  They were waiting for his signal; ready to pounce.

Their breathing changed, becoming slightly more rapid as they were swept up in expectation of the looming clash.  The air around them was heavy with the invisible fog of that anticipation, which thickened with each passing moment.  And it was spreading.  Nate could feel the growing excitement of the other kids, who suddenly crowded more closely.  Even as they reacted to the shift in the atmosphere, Nate knew the humans were oblivious to these changes.

He knew he should have been scared, but he was not.  They were only human.  Still, he was wary.  There was a predatory glint in their eyes, and, if he wasn’t careful, he would end up their prey for the rest of the year.  All of the possibilities flashed through his mind.  Turn and run…too cowardly.  Snarky comment…too suicidal.  Instead, he settled on the happy medium.

“Just trying to get to class, guys.”  He ducked his head, in a gesture that he hoped would not be read as meek, because that was almost as bad as seeming overly cocky.  Then he tried again to go around the kid.

Before he could take a step, a hand shot out and stopped him.  This time, “The Wall” actually grabbed his shoulder, and Nate realized that he had miscalculated.  As far as this boy was concerned, he was fresh meat.  Too tempting to pass up.   There was no neat way out of this situation.

Just then, the bell rang.  The corridor quickly cleared as kids rushed to their classes.  A few lingered, curious enough about the outcome of the altercation to risk detention.

“And who said you could use my hallway…to get to class?”  “The Wall’s” voice became high-pitched and mocking as he mimicked Nate for his friends.  The others chuckled at the imitation, shaking their heads at Nate and clucking their tongues at his grave error in judgment.

All around him, the laughter grew louder and louder, even though “The Wall’s” joke was not that funny.  Nate ears burned from embarrassment and anger.  Already, these guys had made him late for class, for the second time, and they showed no indication that they were going to allow him to get there anytime soon.  Not only that, they had also managed to turn him into a laughingstock.  All in the space of sixty seconds.  That, plus the fact that he seemed to have encountered the Greendale High version of a bad eighties movie jock—the kind that seem to think they ran the school—made his blood boil.  It was the last straw.

“Your hallway,” Nate retorted, both incredulous and derisive.  He looked around curiously, as though searching for something.

“My bad,” he shrugged with nonchalance.  When he met “The Wall’s” eyes this time, all semblance of meekness was gone.  He took another exaggerated glance around the hall.  “I didn’t know this was your hallway.  I guess I must have missed your name.  Wait.  Don’t tell me.  It was on the other side of the door.”

The comment drew a couple of chuckles from the onlookers.  At the sound, “The Wall’s” face turned an unhealthy shade of purple.  Clearly, he did not appreciate being taunted by the fresh meat.

“You want me to show you where my name is,” he growled, clenching his fists, which remained by his sides for the time being.  His face morphed into a mask of rage that must have served him well on the field, and Nate wondered for a second whether it would have been wiser to bite his tongue.  Even more so when “The Wall’s” buddies pushed away from the lockers they had been leaning against, shedding any pretense of disinterest.

Nate’s regret was fleeting though.  He was pretty much past the point of caring about what these kids thought that they could do to him.  Rather, he was irritated, and growing more so by the moment.  Big as they were, none of them would have been a match for him.  Of course, he could not really use his shifter powers.  His conversation with Larissa had made that clear.  He had to maintain the image of a gangly human, barely five and a half feet tall, which meant that he could not possibly have the strength or the speed that it would take to handle even one of these guys.

Slowly, the boys flanked their leader, forming a human chain between Nate, the doors at the end of the hall, and Early World History.  None of them were anywhere near as big as “The Wall,” but they were all pretty massive in their own right.  Tall and bulky, they created one intimidating obstacle.  Gone was any hint of mischief.  All that was left was the predatory gleam that promised punishment to the kid that had dared to mock one of their own.

All at once, in his mind’s eye, he saw his panther.  The creature stalked back and forth in his mind, excited by the scent of the fight in the air.  Its tail swished impatiently and it pressed insistently against the invisible veil that kept his human mind distinct from the animal that dwelled within him.  The creature battered that divide trying to force its way through.  It was just the thing that he did not need.

Instantly, his entire body was engulfed by the tell-tale pinpricks that signaled the beginning of the shift.  Feverish heat coursed up his body, and his face felt like it was on fire.  He could almost hear the creature growling inside of him; it begged to be freed to deal with the predators that now threatened.  Swallowing hard, he pressed the panther back.  He had to get out of this mess, but he could not use his panther to do it.  After another deep breath, he spoke.

“Look guys,” he said, hating the false pleading note that he forced into his voice in an effort to appease them. “I need to get to class.” He held up his hands in a gesture of peace.

“What’s the rush, Noob?” This came from another one of the guys.  Shorter, with spiky blond hair and blue eyes, he was doing his best impression of his leader.  “I am pretty sure you are about to learn a valuable lesson right here.”

The other boys laughed.  There was no mirth in the sound; it was biting, clawing, and contained more than a small threat.  They began to circle him, and, to Nate’s surprise, the other students just stood there.  He could see the excitement in their eyes, and he wondered if it were possible that they would stand there and watch these kids beat him up.  When none of them moved, he came to the conclusion that they would.

The boys kept close as they circled him.  He watched for an opening, but they stood shoulder to shoulder, as though they knew exactly what he was doing.  As careful as they were, Nate knew that his moment would come.  He tensed, scanning the spaces between the boys.  Suddenly, he saw it.  A gap, just wide enough to squeeze through, between the two on the end.

He launched himself towards it, hunching his shoulders and squeezing between them.  He slipped through the space, thanking his lucky stars that his book-laden backpack did not get caught.  Suddenly, the boys grabbed at him.  Someone tugged his shirt.  Another grabbed one of the straps from his bag.

He stumbled as they tried to yank him back into the confines of the circle.  Without thinking, he dashed forward with a speed that was definitely just on the other side of humanly possible.  He heard a gasp, but he kept going. Then he was on the other side, at the end of the hall.  Only then did he glance back.

The boys all stood in the same place.  One of them, the shorter, stocky boy, wore a look that was somewhere between shock and confusion.  He peered at Nate as though trying to figure out how he had gotten so far away, so quickly.  The others seemed less fazed.  They grinned and pointed at him, taunting him for running and laughing far too loudly at their own jokes.

Nate burned with embarrassment as the other students joined in.  This time, though, he bit his tongue as he opened the door.

“Don’t let me catch you in my hall again, Noob,” “The Wall” called, having recovered his affability.  His friends guffawed loudly.

The door swung shut behind him and he ran towards class.  Not the best way to begin the new year.

§          §          §

Two minutes later, he turned the knob on the door to his history class.  Through the window on the upper half of the entrance, he could see the teacher talking to a roomful of silent students that included Ray.

He slid the door open, but before he could set a foot inside, the teacher stopped him.  She placed the textbook, which she had been lecturing from, down on the desk and picked up a piece of paper that he presumed was the roll.

“You must be Nathanial Pantera,” she said slowly, in a voice that was deeper than any he had ever heard on a woman.  The paper fluttered to the desk top as she faced him.  There was anger in her eyes that completely threw Nate for a loop.  He was, after all, only three minutes late.   Beneath the anger, though, there was a hint of something else.  Curiosity.

“Yes,” he began, “I’m sorry I’m late but….”

“I’m not really interested in your tale of woe, Mr. Pantera,” she said sternly, cutting him off.  She bent over the desk and wrote something on a pad.  Nate looked over at Ray, who looked slightly aghast.  The whole room, in fact, was shrouded in a tense silence.  He raised an eyebrow at the boy, who just shrugged his shoulders.  Suddenly, the teacher stood and walked over to the door, holding out a yellow slip of paper.  Nate took the paper, looking down at it with confusion.

“It’s for in-school detention,” she informed him in clipped tones, and he heard the collective gasp of shock from the students in the classroom.  The teacher did not miss a beat.  “You are to report there for the remainder of the period.  You can come and pick up your book after school.”

“But Ms….”  Nate trailed off, realizing all of the sudden that he could not remember her name.

“No buts, Mr. Pantera,” the woman said.  She leaned towards him, and Nate took an involuntary step backward.  A smirk bloomed on her face as she reached past him to grab the doorknob.  He had no choice but to move when she began to pull it shut.  “You are the only student that couldn’t manage to make it here on time.  Perhaps tomorrow you will try a little bit harder.”

With those words, she closed the door in his face, and he was left in the hallway staring down at the yellow slip in his hand.

It was official.  High school sucked.

Go on…enter to win. You know you want to!

Don’t Miss This Stop on the Prize-Packed ZOMBIE CANDY Tour!

Please enjoy this excerpt from Zombie Candy, a genre-bending mystery by Frederick Lee Brooke. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 

They sit at long tables under grape arbors. Heavy bunches of grapes hang from the vines. An eight-piece dance band in white tuxes and black bow ties plays tunes from every decade. Heavy silver dessert forks and coffee spoons rest untouched on the linen tablecloth. She can’t eat another bite. All the glasses, at least, she has used: white wine, red wine, water.

A light breeze comes up. It feels heavenly on her face. With nightfall, the heat has gone out of the air. The heat must be trapped in these old stone walls — the walls of the farmhouse, the walls surrounding the vineyard. The aroma of fresh herbs floats from a nearby garden, rosemary, and mint, she thinks as she watches people dancing. The bride, her beautiful white dress with the daring silk bodice; the groom’s parents, a man with close-cropped gray hair and a red rose in his lapel, and his wife in a shimmering blue dress that looks specially made by an Italian designer.

She keeps one eye on the young man in the navy suit with the green silk tie. He looks like something Michelangelo might have sculpted, then breathed life into. This young man knows everyone here, and has danced every dance for the last hour. But he’s dancing with both older and younger women, probably cousins, friends, the mothers of cousins and friends. She has no idea who he is.

She feels outclassed in her red silk dress from Bloomingdale’s. She had worn the same dress at a wedding in June in Chicago. No one here has ever seen it. If there are any more weddings this fall, she will just have to go shopping in Siena or even Florence, that’s all there is to it.

“May I have this dance?”

Like a vision, Michelangelo man stands beside her. Has somebody cast a magic spell here? How did he sneak up on her like that? She didn’t even notice the song had ended. Or that another one had started.

“I’m not much of a dancer.”

“We’ll see.” He tugs her hand.

“Really, you don’t have to.” He obviously feels a duty to make sure every woman in the place gets at least one dance.

“Of course I don’t have to. I’ve danced with all the women I was obligated to dance with. Now I want to dance with you.”

She doesn’t need more arm-twisting than this. He leads her to the dance floor. The band is playing a quiet song from the 1940s, she thinks, something familiar. Grape arbors surround the dance floor and fill the air with sweet perfume. He turns and puts one hand around her waist. “My name is Giancarlo,” he says, switching to Italian.

“Candace,” she says. “I’ve been here for three weeks. I can’t believe I’m at this beautiful wedding.”

“Your Italian is marvelous.”

Your lips are marvelous, she thinks. Your curly hair, the color of black coffee, and your handsome chiseled face are marvelous too. But you can’t say such things to a man you’ve never met before. Not in Tuscany. At least not before the end of the first dance. He glides around the floor, leading her with slight shifts in his weight, slight pressure with his hands. Her feet know where to go, just as her mouth knows how to form the words.

“We don’t have weddings like this in Chicago. The food … the music … the grapes.”

“My uncle’s house is nice,” Giancarlo agrees. “But I am sorry for Lucia. She has married a playboy. I do not think they will be happy.”

“They certainly look happy.”

Giancarlo makes a face. “I should not talk about the details. I know him. I’ve known him all my life, and he will never change. I tried to talk to my cousin, but she is in love and blind. What can we do?”

Giancarlo’s smile, Candace realizes, has a hypnotizing effect. Thank God a fast dance is starting, the Bee Gees. He makes no attempt to bring her back to the table, merely releases his hold on her waist.

“You are a beautiful dancer,” he says when the Bee Gees song ends. The band takes a break. Everyone is leaving the dance floor. Her heart sinks. Somehow she has managed to cling to him for two dances, something no woman before her had managed. Now he will bring her back to her table, his duty done. He will go back to his people.

“Thank you for the lovely dances.”

“Come, let’s get some fresh air. I’ll show you around,” Giancarlo says. And the really amazing thing is he doesn’t let go of her hand.
 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Zombie Candy eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Zombie Candy for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About the book: Weaving elements of mystery, horror and romance in a hilarious romp that starts in Chicago and ends in a quaint medieval town in sun-drenched Tuscany, Zombie Candy is a genre-hopping knee-slapper of a novel. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Frederick Lee Brooke has worked as an English teacher, language school manager and small business owner and has travelled extensively in Tuscany, the setting of part of Zombie Candy. Visit Fred on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Teaser Tuesday: SHIFT (Book Two of the Firstborn Trilogy)

In the aftermath of my two-week blog tour for the release of Defy, I’m thrilled to say that I’ve finished the first draft of Shift. It was remarkably challenging trying to write this book while getting Defy ready for publication and then promoting it, but somehow I managed! Next on the agenda will be the first round of edits, followed by an outline for Elder.

All in a day’s work, right?

Oh…one other item of note is that my Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, is now free on Amazon. If you haven’t already read it and would like to do so, you can download it here. If you’ve already read it, thank you so much! I hope that you’ll leave a review on Amazon (for this story and any other books you’ve read, for that matter!). :) It’s the best promotion an author can get. Thanks so much to everyone who has already done so.

For now, I wanted to give my Estilorian fans a little hint of what’s to come in the next Firstborn installment. I hope you enjoy it, and I welcome your comments!

Excerpt from Chapter One of Shift (Book Two of the Firstborn Trilogy)

In the form of the panther, Sophia stalked her target. The forest provided many shaded and grassy nooks, and Domino was an admirable opponent. The three-year-old panther could remain still for hours. His spotted fur also gave him excellent camouflage. Thus, Sophia used her heightened sense of smell to find him.

When she got within springing distance, she lowered into a crouch, her back legs digging into the ground for better purchase. Then she pounced.

Domino sensed her the moment she left the ground. He shifted to accept her weight as she tackled him. Her paws wrapped around his torso. Then she opened her powerful jaw and went for the soft part of his neck.

He quickly flipped their positions, using his greater strength to dump her onto her back. Her feline instincts had her wrenching herself to right her center of gravity. This resulted in them taking a long, tangled tumble down the side of a grassy hill.

At the base of the hill rested several of Domino’s siblings. They watched for only a moment before leaping into the fray.

“Sophia!”

She froze, her ear caught between Domino’s teeth. Rolling her eyes in the direction of her mother’s voice, she tried to ignore the heavy weight of Domino’s haunches where they rested on her right side. The panthers around her also grew still, hearing the maternal censuring tone and paying it heed.

Busted, Sophia thought.

Cover Reveal: Hell Hath No Fury by Bill Blais

I’m very excited to be working with Illuminated Tours on the Hell Hath No Fury cover reveal tour! Author Bill Blais is building quite the following among readers of contemporary fantasy, and his Kelly and Umber series is making its way up the Amazon charts. I’m sure after you read a little more about Mr. Blais’ latest release, you’ll easily see why!

First, let’s meet the author of these wonderful stories:

Bill Blais is a writer, web developer and perennial part-time college instructor. His novels include Witness (winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Fantasy) and the Kelly & Umber urban fantasy series. Bill graduated from Skidmore College before earning an MA in Medieval Studies from University College London. He lives in Maine with his wife and daughter.

You can learn more about Mr. Blais and read sample chapters of both books in the series by visiting his website and blog at http://www.billblais.com/.

Now…onto the juicy details about Hell Hath No Fury (Kelly and Umber Series #2):

Synopsis: After the horrific events under the streets of New York City, Kelly McGinnis quit the team of demon hunters who had recruited her and did everything she could to put the experience behind her. Six months later, life is nearly normal, complete with bills, school for her children and hospital visits for her husband.

Dreams of Umber–the handsome and intriguing incubus she saved–continue to tease Kelly’s sleep, but it is only when far darker dreams–and worse–begin to infect her children, that Kelly discovers what happens if you stop hunting demons.

They start hunting you.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? If that blurb didn’t convince you, what do you think about this cover?

I think Mr. Blais has a winner here! Since I know you’re wondering how you can get started on this series, here are the links to buy books 1 and 2: on Amazon.com:

No Good Deed (Kelly and Umber #1)

Hell Hath No Fury (Kelly and Umber #2)

Go on and check them out! If you’d like more details about this tour or how to schedule one of your own, be sure to drop by the Illuminated Tours site:

#TeaserTuesday and a #FabulouslyFree Short Story!

Today begins the promotion for my Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, on Amazon.com! From today until Friday the 16th, The Prophecy is free! For those of you who don’t know, this story serves as a prequel to my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. Thus, it’s a great way to get your feet wet if you’re not yet familiar with the Estilorian world.

Here’s the story blurb for a little more enticement:

“Saraqael hadn’t intended to fall in love with Kate. It shouldn’t have even been possible. His kind didn’t experience emotion, and they certainly weren’t supposed to become attached to humans.

When he discovers that Kate’s dying and there’s nothing he or her human doctors can do for her, Saraqael realizes how deep his feelings for her run. And he understands just how far he’s willing to go to save her.

He vows to search until he finds a way to save her life. With the help of his best friend, Quincy, he embarks on a quest spanning the Estilorian plane…a quest that will forever change the future of his kind.”

Now, on to the teaser!

The first book in my upcoming Firstborn trilogy, Defy, releases on April 30th. I’m organizing a cover reveal blog tour on March 29th, so be on the lookout for that. Today, I thought I’d post another new excerpt from Defy to tide my Estilorian fans over for a while. Visit these posts to check out the prologue, chapter one, and part of chapter two. And now we’ll continue Tate’s story…

Defy (Book One of the Firstborn Trilogy)

Part of Chapter Two

Quincy walked with her out to the training paddock with his packed satchel. Tate realized that all of her family members were nearby, despite the early hour. A number of them were stretching or completing their cardio warm-ups before the weapons training ahead.

Tiege stood with Aunt Amber and some of their cousins performing tai chi. Her dad and Uncle Gabriel spotted for her brothers, Nick and Alex, as they lifted weights. Her mom glided around the side yard with her younger sisters and cousins, instructing them in dance. Aunt Olivia and Uncle James watched the littlest of the children as they played with the family of panthers before beginning school for the day.

Sophia sat on a large rock about twenty yards from the paddock, looking quite glum as she awaited the day’s flight efforts. Tate’s heart went out to her. She knew how discouraged Sophia had been to fail again and again at bringing forth her wings during the lessons her parents started after her eighteenth birthday several weeks ago.

Plastering an encouraging smile on her face as she and Quincy approached, Tate said, “Hey, Sophia! You’re looking particularly pretty today.”

She heard Quincy mumble something under his breath and fought a giggle even as Sophia gave her a baleful look. The comment was true enough, though. Sophia’s turquoise sundress flattered her petite frame. The long skirt of the dress, pooled around her slim legs, made her look very delicate. She had secured her golden hair at the nape of her slender neck in an intricate knot, drawing attention to her wide blue-green eyes and the blue-green butterfly wing patterns around her eyes, indicating her second power. Although her small size and fair coloring differed from the rest of the Kynzesti, Sophia managed to outshine them all, in Tate’s opinion.

“Thanks, Tate,” Sophia said, barely glancing at Quincy. She looked irritated about something and Tate wondered if one of the scientific experiments her cousin so enjoyed was giving her trouble. That always tended to spoil her mood. Of course, she could have just been nervous. With Sophia, it was a little hard to tell.

“I can’t wait to hear how everything goes today,” Tate ventured, keeping her tone light.

“Hmm,” Sophia responded, shifting and getting to her feet. Now, she spared Quincy a glance. “Well, let’s get this over with.”

“Ah…” Quincy said when she caught his gaze. He didn’t manage anything more.

“Your parents are coming to send you off,” Tate threw in, trying to help. Quincy gave her a grateful look.

Uncle James and Aunt Olivia approached, trailed by a group of giggling and bouncing children. Tate smiled as her aunt pulled Sophia into a hug, then passed her over to her uncle so he could repeat the gesture.

“We’re proud of you, honey,” Aunt Olivia said, her light green eyes damp. “I wish we could be there, but…I’m sure Quincy’s right. We were inadvertently restricting you in our lessons. Without us there, you’ll have the faith in yourself that you need to extend your wings.”

Sophia shifted uncomfortably and looked at the ground. Her father gave her a gentle smile.

“We look forward to hearing all about it when you get back,” he said.

She looked up and nodded. Quincy adjusted the satchel he wore across his body. It rattled as the items inside shifted. Although Uncle James raised an eyebrow over the obviously full bag, he didn’t comment. He did, however, catch Quincy’s gaze.

“Take care of her,” he said.

Quincy nodded. Then he looked down at Sophia. “Ready?” he asked.

“Sure,” she said.

Tate saw the lie resonate in the word. Sophia caught her gaze in warning, not that Tate was going to call her on it. She smiled and stepped forward to give her cousin a hug.

“Try to have fun, Soph. I know you’ll do great.”

As she watched Quincy lead her cousin into the forest toward adventure, Tate felt the desire to go with them like an ache in her chest. Instead, she turned with her aunt and uncle and headed to the training paddock. And the mundane.

The tai chi session came to a finish as she neared. Aunt Olivia led the children to their lessons as Uncle James joined her father and Uncle Gabriel near the weights. Aunt Amber watched her approach as she wiped her face with a towel.

“You need to stretch?” her aunt asked. She was never one for idle chit-chat.

“Nah,” Tate replied. “I did my warm-up routines earlier.”

“Cool. Why don’t you and Tiege pair up? I’ll get everyone else set up with their weapons and then we’ll see how you’re coming along with your new form.”

“Okay.” She glanced at her brother as he finished drinking some water and strode toward her. “Ready for some hand-to-hand?” she asked.

“You mean am I ready to kick your ass?” he returned with a grin. “You bet.” When she didn’t return his smile or give a snarky rejoinder, his grin faded. “You’re still upset that Mom and Dad said no?”

She shrugged. He already knew the answer. They knew each other as well as any two individuals possibly could.

“You know it’s a lousy idea, Tate,” he pointed out pragmatically. “We have no idea what things are really like away from home.”

That was exactly her point, she thought in growing frustration as she glanced at the break in the trees where Quincy and her cousin disappeared. She didn’t have any idea what it was like out there. And she very much wanted to.

“You’d only get yourself into trouble,” Tiege continued as he twisted sideways in another stretch. “Your skills aren’t sharp enough.”

That set her temper to a fiery pitch. She was sick and tired of the lack of faith in her abilities. How on the entire Estilorian plane could anyone know she would fail to protect herself if she’d never been given the chance to prove it?

Guest Post and #TeaserTuesday – Bethany Lopez’s xoxoxo

I’m very excited to welcome YA contemporary author Bethany Lopez to the blog today! I first met Bethany through Twitter, and we developed a rapport over our equal love of YA literature. Now we’re also Triberr mates and fellow members of YALITCHAT, and Bethany was kind enough to write up a wonderful guest post to share with you all today.

Even more, Bethany has graciously offered to give away one copy of her book Ta Ta For Now! to one lucky reader (just comment for your chance to win), and she has shared the very first sneak peek at the second entry in her upcoming release, xoxoxo. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! If you missed the first entry, check it out on Bethany’s blog here.

For now, I’ll hand it over to Bethany. Please show her some love by letting her know what you think of the post and excerpt! Take it, Beth…

“First, I would like to thank Raine for inviting me to do a guest post. I am a fan of her work and consider her a friend. Funny, when I started on my writing journey, I had no idea how many friends and allies I would make, without ever having a face to face meeting. It is one of the many delightful surprises that I have encountered.

I have always loved to read and write. I used to make up stories for my friends and relate the tales with such conviction that my friends were truly scared. I remember one time in fifth grade; a parent told me that I was no longer allowed to sleep over at my friend Jessica’s house because she was afraid to sleep without the light on.

I was a pretty mature reader, and was reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz when other kids my age were reading Judy Bloom. There was one series that I read which was more age-appropriate, and that was Sweet Valley High. I was always fascinated with the idea of being a twin, and I loved the fact that the series was long. As soon as I would finish one, the next one was ready for me to begin.  These books were entertaining and they dealt with real issues that kids my age faced. I actually learned good life lessons, which stayed with me as I grew older.

When I decided to sit down and write a book, I wanted to write something that my teenage daughters would be able to find relatable. I wanted them to learn “lessons” without feeling like they were being lectured… So I started writing Ta Ta for Now!. I did not plan to write a series at that time… I didn’t even know if I would finish it, but the girls stayed interested, so I kept writing.

Once I completed Ta Ta for Now!, I decided to try sending queries to Agents. After about thirty-five rejections, I started to question my decision to try and write professionally… Then I found out about self-publishing. One thing I know about myself, is that I have very little patience and I can be a bit impulsive. Once I decided to self-publish, I just went for it. I should have waited…

Six months later I had learned so much by interacting with other writers through Twitter, goodreads, and various blogs. During those six months, I finished the second book in what became the Stories about Melissa Series, xoxoxo. I knew that I would take more time polishing this book and that I would work with my new network of writers and bloggers to do a blog tour to launch xoxoxo. I also decided that before xoxoxo was released, I wanted to re-edit and re-format Ta Ta for Now!, and release the book that I had always meant for it to be.

I am really happy with the way both of my books have turned out and I have started the third book in the series. Like Raine, I have a family and a full time job. Writing is my passion. It is what I do when I want to relax or take some time for myself. I don’t write because I think I will be rich and famous, I write because there is nothing like the rush I get when someone tells me they love my work; That what I wrote brought back a memory or a feeling for the reader or that they could really relate to my characters.

I am absolutely having the best time doing something I have always wanted to do, but never imagined I could. My advice to my children, and to anyone who will listen to me, is to follow your dreams. Even your imagination isn’t as wonderful as the real thing. (Oh… I am also a huge cornball!)

I released the First Entry (The Stories about Melissa are written in Journal form) of xoxoxo on my blog. Here is the Second Entry… Only available here!”

ENTRY TWO

 TGIF:

Okay, it’s the Friday before Spring Break, and I just wanted to write a little before school.

Now that I have a new journal, I want to make sure I am using it. I really enjoyed writing last time, I don’t know why I stopped, but I am eager to get back into writing.

We are gearing up for a fantastic Spring Break! It is still only about 60 degrees here in April, but compared to what it has been, it will feel like a heat wave! Jess, Jimmy, and I plan to hang out at each other’s houses (Jimmy’s is the best, because he is an only child, and they have a Wii, air hockey and a pool table in the basement), go to the movies, and hang out outside as much as possible. And maybe take some cool pictures for Yearbook.

I spent some time with my Mom last night. She was hungry, so I got her some Rocky Road ice cream and sat down in the den with her while she ate. We talked a little bit about the baby.

“I am sooo ready for this baby to come out!” She said as she spooned the ice cream into her mouth. “It feels like I have been pregnant forever and I am just so tired. I cannot wait to see my feet again!”

“You should be an old pro at this Mom.” I said with a smile. “It’s not exactly your first time!” I picked up her foot and began to rub it.

“Oh my gosh! That feels wonderful, Mis.” She sighed, closing her eyes a little. “This is nothing like any of my other pregnancies. It has been a lot harder. I was so sick the first few months, and now I am tired and everything aches. Since the baby is still breech, I have to go in Monday so the doctor can try to turn the baby. I am really not looking forward to that!”

“I know, but I am sure everything will be fine. And before you know it, we will have another rug rat running around the house.” I grabbed her other foot and started massaging it. I have gotten pretty good at this over the years. My Mom’s feet always swell and hurt when she is pregnant.

“This weekend Dad will finish putting the crib and changing table and stuff up in Monica’s room, so it will start to feel more like the end is near,” my Mom said with a slight smile. “Monica is not too happy about sharing her room, but the baby will be in the bassinet in our room for the first few months, so it shouldn’t be too much of a change for her right away.”

We talked a little while longer until my Dad came in and took over foot massage duty. It was nice talking to Mom for a bit; I know once the baby comes it will be hard for me to get any time alone with her. It has been like that every time, so I know what to expect, but I miss her during those first few months. It’s funny because we are in the same house together, and she is home on maternity leave, so you would think I would get to see her more, but that is never the case. Babies just take up so much time, and Mom is always exhausted. I know I will be expected to step up and do more around the house. I really do want to make life easier for her, but to be honest, it sucks!

xoxoxo

Valentine’s #TeaserTuesday: Five Times the Estilorian Love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I sit here admiring the flowers that my husband probably paid waaay too much for and eagerly anticipating enjoying a caramel-filled chocolate or two (okay, five), it occurred to me that I needed to put up a Valentine’s Day blog. Say what you want about this being a “Hallmark Holiday,” as a YA romance author, I couldn’t let February 14th go without a post and a set of romantic teasers for my readers!

I’ll also mention that Becoming is presently on sale for 99 cents as a Valentine’s promotion. If you have a “valentine” with an e-reader, you can hook them up with some romance in the form of a book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever e-books are sold!

For your reading pleasure today, I’ve decided to include excerpts of a romantic nature from Becoming, Central, Foretold, Defy and Shift.  I thought this would offer something fun for new and existing Estilorian fans alike. I hope you enjoy them…let me know if you have a favorite!

Without another thought, she leaned forward while using her hand to guide him toward her lips. She sensed his hesitation, knew she had caught him off-guard and his brain was trying to catch up, but she didn’t let it deter her. As though they had practiced it a hundred times, her mouth found his.

His response astounded her. There wasn’t so much a spark as a lightning strike when they connected. If she had thought the feeling of his hands on her back earlier that day had been amazing, the touch of his lips against hers now had rockets firing in her synapses. He kissed her with such intensity she wondered how she could stand it.

In that moment, she knew all that he held in his heart for her and wondered how he had kept it from her all this time. Even more, she understood her own heart in glorious, almost painful clarity.

She moved her lips against his, teaching him without words what he needed to know. Ever the ardent student, he lifted his hands to cradle her face, slowly moving his mouth against hers. Once. Twice. Then again, and yet again, varying the positions and the amount of pressure exerted.

When she opened her mouth beneath his, he followed her lead without a thought. Somehow, although he probably should have found it at least mildly shocking, he was unsurprised when she gently touched her tongue to his. It just seemed to him as though that was a perfectly logical transition for this amazing experience, and he responded in kind.

He savored the taste of her. It absolutely defied description. She made soft sounds indicating her pleasure as her hands caressed his back and shoulders. His body felt as though it was going to erupt in a rapturous flare of pleasure.

He had been prepared for the entire experience to be awkward. He had even been prepared for it to be mildly repulsive.

He had not been prepared for it to feel so good.

Everywhere she touched started tingling. Pulsing sensation coursed through him at the touch of her fingers as well as where he felt her warm breath against the side of his neck. He felt her body pressed against him, felt the heat from her skin warming him through their clothes, and instinctively reached up to hold her at her waist, enjoying the feel of the feminine curves of her hips beneath his hands.

Then he felt her lips move along the outer edge of his ear, taking his sensitive earlobe gently between her teeth for one teasing, incredible moment before she slowly rained tender kisses along the side of his neck and jaw. He realized when his brain finally kicked in that her particular position exposed the slender line of her neck to him. He didn’t have to move at all to breathe in the scent of her. He registered that she smelled like jasmine, sweet and bit mysterious.

Of course she did.

~ DEFY ~

“When you want to kiss someone,” he said, making her realize she had been speaking her thoughts again, “do not talk it to damn death.”

And then he pulled her against him and captured her mouth with his.

He didn’t kiss her. No, that was far too sedate a term for it. He claimed her.

This was no gentle brushing of lips against lips. This was an undiluted assault of the senses. This was lips and tongue and heat and urgent, roaming hands. This was erratic breathing, bodies pressed together, skin touching skin, bursts of unbelievable and unexpected pleasure. This was beyond her wildest imaginings.

~ SHIFT ~

At first, he stiffened in shock. But he quickly sank into the kiss, making her realize just how little she knew about this particular activity.

His warm lips moved tenderly against hers, telling her that her urgent pressing of her mouth against his wasn’t quite right. She deliberately relaxed, focusing on every sensation as his hands moved to cradle her, one hand against the small of her back and the other at the base of her neck beneath her hair. Every touch sent waves of heady sensation pouring through her. It was even more potent than the charge of energy she experienced when she shifted.

A soft moan built in her throat as his lips moved against hers. She felt his hand move from around her neck to the side of her jaw. When he traced the delicate skin there, it sent another shiver through her.