Monday, February 22, 2016

EDGE: A Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Collection 


EDGE: A Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal Collection
Publication date: April 5th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Young Adult
Limited Edition Paranormal Boxed Set
20 New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors.
20 of today’s most magical, sought-after titles.
Yours for only $0.99.
Twenty Edgy Young Adult & New Adult Paranormal Tales
Twenty of today’s favorite young adult and new adult authors have come together to bring you a collection packed with full-length, spellbinding reads sure to keep you keep you on the edge of your seat and up way past your bedtime!
But reader beware: These novels take everything to the edge–and not just the edge of your seat. With authors who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, you get stories that take everything to limit, creating whimsical reads that teens can actually relate to and that adults can enjoy, too.
Save over $50! This set is only available at this price for a limited time, so scroll up and grab your copy before it’s gone!
PRE-ORDER today for only 99¢!
Sneak a peek at a couple of books in this collection:
Pretty Little Wherewolf
“Whatever, Di. Help if you must, but don’t baby me.”
If Di heard her, she didn’t respond. Not that Giselle needed verbal confirmation; she turned back around and slammed her locker shut without looking, and then stumbled straight into something… someone… hard.
“Oh, sorry,” Giselle mumbled, trying to steady herself. She hadn’t caught the scent until after she looked up and saw who she’d almost knocked down – or, well, collided with. She couldn’t have knocked him down if she’d tried.
Hello, Boy!
He was magnificent. Was every guy in this school a male model? Towering over her at well above six foot, with muscles that went on for days, he was built like a statue with a hard jaw and stone-cold eyes to match. Though his looks were definitely worth paying attention to, it was his smell that had her standing dumbfounded. In all the years since she’d first experienced the change, she had never run into anyone like her. Now, standing here right in front of her was yet another wolf. She’d thought the lingering scent of wet earth might have been left in Di’s wake, but the longer he stood here, looking down at her, the stronger the smell got.
“Do you have a problem?” he asked with a voice that complemented that spectacular body of his. Smooth and deep. Seriously… what a package. Her wolf was definitely at attention and begging for a second to come to the surface for a closer inspection. It was all she could do not to wolf out right there in the hallway, with all the students around to see. Yeah. That would make for a great first impression.
Hiya, everyone… I’m the new girl, and… oh, yeah, and I’m a wolf, too. She might as well tape an old “Kick me” sign on her back; it would be less conspicuous.
While she was practically drooling where she stood, the strange boy, wolf, man –whatever he was – looked positively murderous. “Are you going to stand here all day, or can I get to my locker?”
So much for making a good first impression on him. “Sorry.” Giselle cleared her throat, wanting to say something smart, but for once, she didn’t have the words. She sidestepped sheepishly, and enjoyed the back view of him as he brushed past her to his own locker.
Damn. Nice butt.
Her wolf agreed, too. Wonder what his wolf looks like. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours! She couldn’t help but stare. How often did she run into other wolves? Male wolves.
Other Side of Forever
“Allie, why do you hate me so much?” he asked softly as he stared into the sky.
His question took me by surprise. Did he really think that?
“I…I don’t hate you, Ethan.” I stumbled over my words. “I barely know you.”
“Then why do you try so hard to avoid me?”
“I don’t,” I lied, knowing that I did, but not in a mean type of way. I closed my eyes and sighed, wishing he didn’t have to ask so many questions. Couldn’t he just go back to saying nothing at all?
“You do,” he argued. I could hear the change in his voice. He was smiling.
“No. I don’t,” I answered sarcastically. His persistence was pinching my nerves.
“Then look at me,” he challenged.
Without thinking, I turned my head and looked at him. His warm, sweet breath blew against my face as he exhaled. The scent of peppermint. His dark eyes snatched me up and whisked me away. I was lost and unprepared as he drew me deeper and deeper inside him. The walls he created around me were getting higher and harder to climb. Like I had slipped into a trench and I was sinking into the earth.
Ethan pressed forward, attempting to close the gap between us. His lips were so close to mine I could feel the heat emanating from them. And just as our lips were about to brush, the voice in my head begged and pleaded and screamed for me to stop.
Then I turned away.


Extract Two
By Mary Hades

The whiskey, and Seth’s company, has elicited whatever happy hormones needed to help me slip into a state of relaxation. I lean back in my seat and tilt my head to the sky. On any other night I hate to look up at the stars. I hate to be reminded that we’re in this huge universe that we don’t understand, and we’re a speck of insignificance on a great big piece of rock circling around a ginormous lump of fire. Tonight, I could get lost in space. I could stare up at the moon all night.
“Shooting star?” Seth asks.
“No, an aeroplane,” I reply.
“Somewhere you want to go?” he asks. 
I turn my eyes back to him. We hold gaze. “No.”
No smiles. No impish grin. Instead—his eyes on mine. His eyes coming closer, until I feel as though his eyelashes might graze my cheek. His lips near mine. The scent of musk, whiskey and smoke. Sweet. Sweet scent. Him. 
Jolt.
Groan.
The wheel stops. We break apart and laugh. 
“Looks like Damo’s giving us a little sightseeing time,” Seth says. He pushes his fingers into his lush hair. There’s a ring on his right hand. The silver of it catches one of the flashing lights, so that it turns green, and then yellow. “You haven’t told me why you’re here? You local?”
“I’m on holiday,” I say.
He raises an eyebrow. “And you came to Nettleby?” 
What I don’t tell him is that I’m with my parents. That would be even more embarrassing.
“Are you local?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says with a sigh. 
“Maybe you could show me around?” Mary, what on Earth are you doing?
He grins. “Sure. 
He moves a little closer and wraps his arm around my shoulder, pausing not once but twice, as though almost changing his mind. There’s a slight flush of pink on his cheeks. It could be nerves, or it could be the whiskey. Lacey would be proud of me. For the first time ever, I’m on a normal date with a great guy, and it’s going well. There aren’t any Things, or ghosts, or people with psychiatric issues. There is me and Seth—alone.
Warm, fuzzy feelings spread through my arms as I lean into him. We stay silent for a while, watching the lights from the campsite. Beyond the fairground I know there’s a forest, but it’s now a black fade in the night. The fairground is dark, with the occasional torch light and one or two flood lights to help the men as they lock up for the night.
“Damo’s taking his time,” Seth says. His eyes narrow with concern.
“Something the matter?” I ask. We do seem to have been still for a while.
“I dunno,” Seth says. He turns in his seat so that he’s leaning over the ledge, and pulls his arm out from under me. Cupping his hands around his mouth he yells, “Damo! Hey, Damo. What’s going on, mate? You gonna get this thing started or what?”
A chill runs through me. Am I such bad company? Does he want to get rid of me? To get this date over and done with?
“Sorry,” he says, turning back to me. “I get a little nervous with these rides. When you know how they work, you know how much can go wrong.”
“Oh, okay.” I think back to his safety conscious worrying over the safety bar. Wow, a carnie who cares about welfare, that’s a first.
I glance at my watch. 11:30pm, time flies. I should try to get home before midnight so that the ‘rents don’t have simultaneous coronaries. When I realise that this is going to end soon, heavy weights pull at my stomach. I like being with Seth. 
The wheel lurches forward with a groan. 
“There, it’s—” My blood runs cold. The Ferris wheel jerks forward, no longer running smoothly like it did on the way up, but worse than that, worse than the possible failure of the ride, I see a dark shadow, and then I see it.
“No,” I mutter without meaning to.
“What’s wrong?” Seth says.
I shake my head. This can’t be happening now, not on the first date that has made me feel normal. 
It crawls up the ride.
Bony fingers cling to the metal framework.
An x-ray of bones shine through its skin. I lean forward and grip the safety bar with my fingers, gripping so hard that the whites of my knuckles protrude through my skin, like the bones of the Thing climbing up to me.
“What do you want?” I whisper.
“What did you say?” Seth asks. 
“Nothing,” I reply. 
“Are you all right? You look a little pale? It’s the ride, isn’t it? Don’t worry, it gets a bit stiff sometimes, when it’s been inactive for a few minutes. Did I frighten you with what I said? Honestly, it’s fine. Damo knows how to—”
Screeeeeech.
The ride stops so abruptly that I’m thrust forward against the safety bar. My head snaps forward, painfully. One of the bears slips from my grasp and hurtles down towards the black ground below.
“Shit.” Seth grabs hold of my shoulders and pulls me back against the seat. “That’s never happened before. Are you all right?”
The Thing is gone. It has passed on the warning, showing me its hideous face. Now I have to wait for whatever horrible event is about to happen. 
Are we going to die? 
The Ferris wheel bench rocks back and forth, suspended halfway down the 80 foot full height of the wheel, as boasted on the sign by the ticket booth. Seth holds me tight, his anxious face turned down towards the control booth below. 
“Damo?” he shouts. “Damo, what’s happening down there, pal?”
There’s the scrape of a door opening and a small voice calls up. “Summats up, mate. The controls have gone funny. I keep trying to get you down, but then it… it’s like it has a life of its bloody own.”
Seth rubs his chin. The wheel lurches forward again, this time making me cry out and grip onto Seth’s arm tighter.
“I’ve got you,” he murmurs. “It’s gonna be all right.”
I shake my head. No it isn’t. When the Things show up, it’s because someone is going to get hurt. It’s not usually me, it’s someone else. Death follows me. 
“This is my fault,” I whisper.
“What?” he says.
“Bad things happen… you… you should get away from me.”
Our seat rocks forward, forcing us both up against the safety bar. “This isn’t your fault—”
The bench drops an inch to the left, but my heart drops to my knees. We slide together, hitting the edge. In a moment of utter panic I realise that the chain has come loose at the top. There’s a good chance it will break altogether and we’ll fall…


☆☆☆

Quotes
“If anyone else sees those bites, you’ll be seeing the health office and getting a visit from CPS.”
“Pack life isn’t for all wolves, despite what everyone else will tell you. Some wolves just don’t belong in a pack.”
“Whatever decisions you make for or against being part of a pack have to come from here.” He pointed to his heart. “You can’t be forced. And your wolf certainly won’t stand for it. It all has to feel right.”
“Lippy pups like yourself find themselves at the wrong end of my teeth.”
“My intentions are pretty selfish too. I won’t align myself with a family at war. I don’t see the point in signing up for a fight I didn’t start.”
“The wolf packs… both of them… in one place, during a full moon… ludicrous! Are you trying to get everyone killed?”

“You’re really cute when you get all predator, you know.”

Excerpt
“Whatever, Di. Help if you must, but don’t baby me.”
If Di heard her, she didn’t respond. Not that Giselle needed verbal confirmation; she turned back around and slammed her locker shut without looking, and then stumbled straight into something… someone… hard.
“Oh, sorry,” Giselle mumbled, trying to steady herself. She hadn’t caught the scent until after she looked up and saw who she’d almost knocked down – or, well, collided with. She couldn’t have knocked him down if she’d tried.
Hello, Boy!
He was magnificent. Was every guy in this school a male model? Towering over her at well above six foot, with muscles that went on for days, he was built like a statue with a hard jaw and stone-cold eyes to match. Though his looks were definitely worth paying attention to, it was his smell that had her standing dumbfounded. In all the years since she’d first experienced the change, she had never run into anyone like her. Now, standing here right in front of her was yet another wolf. She’d thought the lingering scent of wet earth might have been left in Di’s wake, but the longer he stood here, looking down at her, the stronger the smell got.
“Do you have a problem?” he asked with a voice that complemented that spectacular body of his. Smooth and deep. Seriously… what a package. Her wolf was definitely at attention and begging for a second to come to the surface for a closer inspection. It was all she could do not to wolf out right there in the hallway, with all the students around to see. Yeah. That would make for a great first impression.
Hiya, everyone… I’m the new girl, and… oh, yeah, and I’m a wolf, too. She might as well tape an old “Kick me” sign on her back; it would be less conspicuous.
While she was practically drooling where she stood, the strange boy, wolf, man –whatever he was – looked positively murderous. “Are you going to stand here all day, or can I get to my locker?”
So much for making a good first impression on him. “Sorry.” Giselle cleared her throat, wanting to say something smart, but for once, she didn’t have the words. She sidestepped sheepishly, and enjoyed the back view of him as he brushed past her to his own locker.
Damn. Nice butt.
Her wolf agreed, too. Wonder what his wolf looks like. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours! She couldn’t help but stare. How often did she run into other wolves? Male wolves

☆☆☆

The Good Girl’s Guide to Being a Demon – April Aasheim – Excerpt: Night Scene

The wind howled, a soulful, aching chorus of despair that rose up out of the surrounding woods and descended on the rickety old cabin. The haunting sound pulled Cassie from the gray depths of her dreams.
She opened one eye and then the other.
The Shadow People were there, carrying out their nightly duties. With sleepy eyes she watched them hide in nooks and creeping along shelves. The cabin was infested with them, but something was different about them this night. She could feel––almost see––their life force. They were no longer one-dimensional. They were beings with souls, and they were restless and roaming.
Planting her feet on the cold hardwood floor, she shed her blanket. The Shadows approached like sniffing dogs, and she let them come. She felt a kinship with these creatures of the night, a sense of belonging.
Her horns were tender and she touched them, noticing that they had grown in the last few hours to nearly twice their width. She could feel the ends poking out through her hair. She smiled as she ran her fingers along their smooth points.
Josh’s scent wafted in from the other room. It was primal and male. She smacked her lips together and went to stand outside his room while the Shadow People watched.
You will hunger, for many things.
She turned the knob and pushed at the door, opening it slowly. Soundlessly. She could see him perfectly in the dark, his body stripped down to nothing but a sheet wrapped around his waist. She crept inside and stood over his bed, her appetite deepening.
Climbing onto the bed, she crawled her way up his body until her knees straddled his waist, their faces inches apart. He is so beautiful. She dusted a stray hair from his brow, wanting to both kiss and devour him at once.
“Josh,” she whispered, sitting back on her heels. Her eyes wandered from his handsome face to his smooth chest, then down to the line of hairs that disappeared beneath the sheet. She no longer wanted to devour him. She needed to.
She removed her shirt and tossed it to the floor. And then her bra. She ran her hands over her breasts, feeling their fullness, then down across her bare thighs, imagining that those same hands belonged to Josh. Need overcame her and she longed to crawl inside his skin and take control of him, ached for it with every nerve in her body.
Lowering herself down, she pressed her nakedness against his cool damp skin, interlacing her fingers with his. “Josh,” she moaned into his ear. “I need you.” Her fingers left his hands, sliding towards his hips. He groaned, kicking a leg so that the sheet rearranged itself, allowing her a better glimpse of his exposed thighs.
The hunger grew into a near frenzy and she kissed his lips. Hard. Then his chin, feeling the rough edges that would be shaved away in the morning. He writhed beneath her but did not wake. Her lips wound down his chest, nibbling, caressing, working their way towards his navel. She tightened her grip around his hips. He rocked in his sleep, throwing his head from side to side, moaning.
She smiled when she saw that he had grown hard and slid one hand down the sheet, searching.
“Josh, Josh, Josh,” she echoed as her hand felt its way along his inner thigh.
She could take him if she wanted to. But first she needed to kiss him again, to feel his warm, consenting breath on her mouth. He had to want it too. She inched her way back up, pressing her lips to his, parting his mouth with her tongue, tasting his soul.
There was a sweetness to it, intermingled with a wild restless hunger, not unlike her own.
We belong together.
Her desire grew. It was rabid and feral and untamed.
His mouth opened wider, allowing her full access, and his arms wrapped her in a tight embrace. His eyes fluttered open and he returned her kiss, the two of them writhing together as the night winds howled and the Shadow People stood vigil outside the door.
Without warning, he flipped her on the bed so that he was on top. He sat up, his knees bracing her hips, his bare chest glistening as he peered into her eyes.
The sheet had fallen away.
She lifted her legs, wrapping them around his waist, pulling him on top of her. She needed to taste him one more time. And then feel him inside of her.
He lowered his hips, their eyes still locked.
A bright flash of pure white light illuminated the bedroom window. Josh jerked his head to the side. When he looked back, recognition lit his eyes.
“Cass!”

☆☆☆

‘What was that?’ Isobel whispered. She stopped and strained her ears. 
‘I heard nothing,’ her mother replied.
‘There! That noise?’ She had heard a faint shout, she was sure of it. She listened again but heard nothing.
‘The others?’ Maman said. ‘It must be the others, they must have escaped.’
‘But it could be those creatures coming after us,’ Isobel whispered. ‘What should we do, Maman?’
‘I do not know, child. Wait, while I think for a moment.’ She looked around. ‘Here, come in here and we shall wait as quiet as mice until we know for sure. Then, when the coast is clear, we shall leave.’ 
She pulled Isobel into a small empty cell-like room. There was a millstone on the inside and they both pushed and heaved with all the force they had, until it rolled into place. 
‘We will wait here. Now, what do we have?’ Her mother’s voice quavered. ‘We have two lanterns, some water, some dates and bread and we each have our pistols.’ 
Isobel crouched in the sealed cavern with her mother, shivering in its grim safety. The minutes passed.
A familiar voice rang out. 
‘Did you hear that?’ her mother exclaimed.
‘It is Harold! We are saved.’
His voice drifted down from somewhere above them. He was calling out his wife and children’s names. Maman shone her lantern up to the ceiling.
‘Here! Look!’ She pointed up to a hole in the ceiling. ‘He must be on the level above us. We must go to him. Quickly, help me.’
They heaved the stone away from the entrance and turned towards the staircase.
‘Harold!’ Isobel shouted. ‘We are down here!’
‘Shhh!’ Marie-Louise put her hand over her daughter’s mouth. ‘We do not wish to alert those things to our whereabouts.’ 
Isobel’s breath caught in her throat. Behind her mother stood one of the creatures, its expressionless face staring ahead at nothing. Isobel extended a shaking arm and fired her pistol. Even from this point blank range, the shot had no effect. She heard a loud, high-pitched scream that seemed to last forever and realised the sound was coming from her own mouth.
Her mother did not have time to even turn around. The creature grabbed Maman’s arm and there was a hollow pop as it dislocated from its socket. She was dragged back down the corridor, her face twisted in shock. The lantern she carried clattered to the floor, its dim light spluttering in the gloom.
Isobel’s scream petered out and now she called out in terror, ‘God help us! Somebody help us!’ The robed creature appeared to fly back along the corridor. It had Maman in its grip and the last thing Isobel saw was the receding shape of her mother’s mouth, like a deep round cavern as her high-pitched scream disappeared into the darkness.
Isobel stood alone in the doorway, shivering and sobbing. She stumbled forwards in the direction the creature had taken her mother. The pain in her heart was like a sharp white throbbing light that blotted out all other feeling.
‘Maman,’ she cried. ‘MAMAN!’ she screamed. ‘Come back! You have forgotten me! It is me. It is Isobel. Do not leave without me!’ 
She crumpled onto the dusty stone floor and barely even noticed when one of them lifted her into its deathly embrace and carried her back down the corridor as if she were as light as air.

☆☆☆

Seven roses contain the name of the day of rest. My favorite is Sunday Lemonade. Its pale pink blooms give off a scent of lazy summer nights visiting with friends. Just the opposite of the many Sabbaths I spend with my father. His Sundays smell like famine and pestilence.

Birds sang to announce the new day. Perhaps I could stay in bed a little longer. My eyelids fluttered and I rolled to my side, the crisp sheets scratching my skin. The cheap alarm clock glowed red in the darkness. 8:30. I had an hour until the apocalypse began. For a minute I debated staying in bed, replaying various kisses from my mystery savior, but I still needed to shower and plant myself on the couch before Father was ready to go. My stomach growled and I sighed. No food today. Sundays were days of fasting. My ankle-length nightgown twisted around my knees and I struggled to free my legs. My breath came in rapid bursts, the claustrophobia setting in. Consciously, I slowed my breath and untwisted my nightgown. If I ever escaped, I promised myself the first thing I would do is sleep naked. 

I sat up and flicked on the cracked floral lamp that sat on my nightstand. My gaze settled on my dresser. Last night I left deep red Oklahoma Roses. Next to them sat a monster blueberry muffin and a banana. I was grateful, but flabbergasted that today of all days he knew to leave food with the flowers. Today, I wouldn’t be allowed to eat.

I scrambled to the dresser and inhaled the muffin and banana. Only when I was half way through did the thought occur to me that Father might notice the smell on my breath. I would have to take extra care brushing my teeth. Full and feeling that today might not be so awful after all, I set to the task of getting ready for church. 
After my shower, I scrubbed my teeth and braided my hair. Guilt swam across my insides. This week, I disobeyed my parents, flipped off Dwayne, ate breakfast on the Sabbath and I was kissing a boy every night. If I confessed before the Master I would have a fingernail ripped out, my middle finger would be burned, I would have to drink a glass of scalding water, and I didn’t know what my punishment would be for kissing the boy. No one had ever committed that sin before or at least confessed to it. 

Perhaps it was cowardly, but I didn’t want to bear the punishment. Perhaps given enough time, I’d just forget about it. As long as the Master never asked me, I wouldn’t have to confess. I tried once, to not confess, but one look into those evil red eyes and the words tumbled off my lips. I couldn’t help it. 

☆☆☆

Wraith Excerpt-Angel Lawson
I walked over to Ms. Anderson’s desk and asked for a hall pass. She handed it over with a disapproving nod, and I bolted out the door and out into the hall. The corridor had that calm, cool feeling all schools have when everyone is in class. The only sounds came from a locker door slamming near the science wing and my footsteps echoing off the shiny floor. I turned the corner and gasped when I came face to face with Evan. 
“Watch it!” I whispered, peeking over my shoulder. “What are you doing?” I continued to walk toward my locker, with him hot on my trail. 
“I saw you come out here, so I thought I would drop in and say hello.” I turned to glare at him and was rewarded with a megawatt smile. “Hello.” 
“Evan. You need to go, and I have to get back to class. Ms. Anderson is PMSing or something and I don’t want to get detention.” My fingers spun the dial on my lock and I searched for my pencil, eventually finding it behind a stack of books. 
“Fine! But I need you to give that kid Connor a break. If he tries to talk to you again—just do it.” I looked at Evan suspiciously and noticed he refused to make eye contact. 
“No. Have you heard where he’s been?” My voice rose and I dropped it back down looking around for other students. I couldn’t afford getting caught talking to “myself” in the hallway again. “He was basically in kid jail!” 
Evan leaned against the wall of lockers, crossing his arms over his chest and fixed me with a glare. “You of all people should know not to listen to rumors.” 
A twinge of guilt manifested at his accusation, but I refused to give in. Yes, I listened to the rumors, but I’d seen him with my own eyes vandalizing public property. “I’m not talking to him. I’m not giving him the chance to make fun of me or whatever it is he’s up to. In fact it makes more sense now, with his background, that he was messing with me. He probably broke into my records and found out just enough to freak me out.” 
I’d begun walking again, leaving Evan behind me, pouting against the wall. “Fine. Just…” I looked back before turning the corner and saw he had vanished. 
“Ooof!” I exhaled when I slammed into someone hard. “Watch it!” I shouted. 
“You watch it.” 
I focused on the jerk I’d run into and who currently had his hands on my upper arms, holding me upright. The jerk who had crystal blue eyes and warm, firm hands. 
Connor. Of course. 
I shrugged my arms away from him and glanced away from his eyes and hair and his warm skin, and swallowed the apology that had been on my tongue. 
“Excuse me.” I attempted to dart around him. 
His hand gripped my arm, trying to stop me. “Wait.” I twisted out of his reach. Now that I knew he was a troublemaker of some variety, I really didn’t want to tangle with him again. I didn’t want him to make fun of me.
“Jane, right?” His feet moved behind mine, and the thick soles of his boots scuffed the floor. “Your name’s Jane, right?” 
“Leave me alone.” 
We approached the Fine Arts Hall and I assessed that in twenty more feet I could be back in the classroom, away from him. 
“Stop, okay? Just give me a minute.” His voice was low but laced with frustration, and I couldn’t help but turn. 
“What?” I half-whispered, half-yelled. “What do you want?” 
When he saw that I’d stopped, his shoulders—perfectly broad, in that not too wide, not too narrow kind of way, I noted—relaxed, and I saw the glimmer of relief in his eyes. “I want to talk to you for a minute. Dammit.” He rubbed the corner of his mouth. “I want to apologize, for the other day.” 
I eyed him. “Fine. Apology accepted. Finished?” 
“No,” he snapped. “I’m not finished. I apologize for my rudeness and just coming up like that. I know…I know that was harsh, but we need to talk. Away from school.” 
I shook my head in disapproval before he finished talking. “Yeah, that’s not happening.” 
I took a minute to assess Connor head to toe. He wore a black T-shirt under an open button-down shirt, jeans and black work boots. There were multi-colored paint drops on the hems of his pants. He appeared normal and I knew he had friends and I knew he had been in trouble, but he seemed to know more about me than he should, and all I wanted was to stay invisible. 
“I don’t know what game you’re playing, but I don’t want part of it. I know what the other kids say about me and you just got back and all, but everyone has finally left me alone. Just because it’s new to you doesn’t mean I’m willing to be your punching bag. Find someone else to mess with.” 
I said the words with as much venom and confidence as I could muster, ignoring my shaking hands. I ran back to class, pulled out my drawing and refusing to make eye contact with anyone. 
Several minutes passed before I heard the door swing open and Connor entered the room. He’d obviously waited outside so it wouldn’t appear we were in the hallway together—further evidence, in my opinion, that he didn’t really want to have anything to do with me. With my head down, I waited for the sounds of his stool to slide back as he settled into his seat. It didn’t happen. Instead, I sensed him hovering by my desk, taking the long way back to his. In reaction my heart hammered in my chest. 
I refused to look up. 
I wouldn’t look up. 
There was no way I was looking up. 
I looked up.
But what I saw wasn’t what I expected. He wasn’t looking at me or attempting to talk again. Connor’s eyes were glued to my portrait. The portrait of Evan I’d been working on for weeks. I’d finished the majority of his face and all of his wavy, light hair. I worked on his chin, trying to get the angle right, trying to accentuate the dimple at the bottom. I’d erased and reworked it dozens of times so far and was about to quit. Other than the chin, it was pretty good—fairly accurate.
“Mr. Jacobs, please take a seat,” Ms. Anderson directed from her desk, causing an almost-frozen Connor to flinch.
He moved as directed, but when he sat our eyes locked once again. To my surprise he mouthed the word, “Wait,” and reached for the thick piece of drawing paper on the table. After pausing to study it for a moment, he flipped it over so I could see. My hand flew to my mouth on instinct and I fought an overwhelming urge to vomit as blood rushed to my ears. 
Connor’s portrait was an exact replica of mine. 

☆☆☆

BECKON ME Teasers: 

I was surprised to find Eli sitting at my kitchen table. His dark hair was mussed and judging by the heaviness of his eyelids, he looked as sapped as I was. I guess I should have known that Gabby would tell him about Rainey’s visit, but I hadn’t expected to see him that quickly. My pulse soared at the sight of him. Ugh.
“Well, this is a surprise. Do you always sneak into girls’ houses first thing in the morning?”
He smiled. “Nah. I’m usually sneaking out.”

Eli felt different. 
He was dangerous. 
I wasn’t sure I could just casually date a guy like him. No, guys like Eli broke hearts if you let them. And I wasn’t sure I had enough heart left to break and still continue to live.


He motioned toward the backseat with his head. 
“Your friend. The dead girl. How long has that been going on?”

“I...” There were no words. I couldn’t put a single thought into words. All I could think about was the way his body was pressed up against mine and how amazing it felt to have his fingers caressing me this way. I never wanted it to end.
“Don’t leave.” His lips were against my ear. I felt myself sway in his embrace, sinking further into him. 
“What?” I asked, confused. I wasn’t going anywhere. My entire body flushed with heat when his lips made contact with my neck. The door swung open behind us and Eli pushed us into his living room once more. There was a soft click when the door shut.
“Stay with me. Stay tonight. Stay forever. You want this. You want me. I feel it in every inch of your body.” His lips scorched a trail along my collarbone and up my neck to my chin. He was right—I did want this—him, more than anything. Even if I was strong enough to push him away from me right now, I knew I didn’t want to. He pulled away then, leaving my skin burning everywhere his lips had been. “Say it.” 
I opened to my eyes to find his burning twice as bright as the flames he just ignited in my body. There was so much in his eyes at that moment: pain, anger, passion and something deeper I couldn’t quite place. 
Instead of fighting, I gave him what he wanted. I gave myself what I wanted. “I want you. I want this.” I placed my hand on his impossibly handsome face, enjoying the feel of his skin. He closed his eyes. And then his lips were on mine and my entire body burst into flames so intense I thought I might explode. 
Eli’s fingers pressed into my sides, then swiftly unbuttoned my overcoat. When his palms touched the thin silk dress beneath it, he stepped back, sliding my overcoat to the floor. He groaned as his eyes roamed from the bottom to the top of my tiny dress. “Oh, sweet mother of God.”

☆☆☆

Quotes and excerpts from The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer by International bestselling author Laxmi Hariharan

"When your breath mingles with mine, I want to bite your lower lip and never let go"

"Some things you fold like a little handkerchief and carry inside you in a secret pocket"

"Here we are ... one moody cop and a broken down girl, using the view as an excuse not to face each other."

I miss you most when ... you are with me. 

I want to fit in. 
I want to be different and still stand apart

I have lost so much of myself. Who will I be when all the parts come home?


Promises ... We break them.
Memories ... They break us.

Some connections break so others can be made. 

Sometimes, you really do get what you wish for, only to discover it doesn’t feel right anymore.

I don’t want to hide. Not anymore … Life’s too short to play guessing games.

Do you know what it’s like to want love, but to be terrified of it at the same time? 



Excerpt
A sudden hot thwack to the cheek has me jerking awake. I gasp, taking in a deep breath of air. Stopping mid-cry, I open my eyes to stare into amber flares. Strong, steady, he burns me up too, but in a different way. His head is silhouetted against the pale pink of dawn creeping in through the open window. The breeze has that dreamy quality, a slight crispness to it, hinting at the rain showers from last night. 
It's blessedly cool; at least a good ten degrees lower than the surly heat of the day. I try to bring up my hands to touch his face and find them shackled by his palms. I have scratched his cheek, the fresh marks just beginning to open up the skin. As I watch, a droplet of blood pops out. I raise my head; catch it on the tip of my tongue. 
He doesn't move. Just watches me, those amber eyes alert as always, wary with self-restraint. I can see myself in them. I lean forward and flick out my tongue to brush the drop of blood against his lips. 
He deepens the kiss, slanting his lips across mine, pressing me back against the bed so just for a second my breasts are crushed against him. I have borne his weight before, but this is different. 
Our lips break apart and I fall back. There's a strange look on his face. He is aware of me, aroused, no doubt about that. I also see … pity. 
He knows.
He knows that I cut myself.
And then, he knows that I know he knows.
Just like that, the fire in his eyes blanks out, replaced by that freezing desert-like brown sheet of glass. The one I itch to reach out and shatter. 
"You are too impetuous, you know that?"
Does that mean I like to follow my heart? "Not anymore …" I say. "Life's too short to play guessing games." 
"Get dressed," he orders, but his tone lacks conviction. Neither of us moves. He is still holding my hands, shackling them to the bed. I am very aware of not wearing anything other than a bathrobe. It's just a layer to be pushed aside. My breasts harden, rubbing against the rough cloth. If he looks down, he'll see what I am feeling just now. Does he feel it too?
Vikram himself is in fresh jeans, a light blue shirt tucked in. He is even freshly shaven. The scruffy beard covering his chin is gone, replaced with the slightly lighter skin that comes from having been shielded from the sun long enough for it to look paler than the rest of his face, until the hair on his cheeks grows back. I have a full, unadulterated view of the jut of his chin. 
I am still close enough that if I lean just a little closer, my breath will fan over that thin upper lip. The one which lends him that characteristic stern, standoffish appearance, only to be broken by the slight dimple on his chin—the one that peeks out on the rare occasions when he smiles. The pull I have felt right from the beginning feels stronger now. As if strengthened by what we have been through. It's not completely lust, not just attraction ... I just feel this intense curiosity about this man. I want to know him better, to find out what's inside of him. What he thinks, feels—
His tongue flicks out to touch his lips. Can he still taste my blood? 


Hosted by:
ButtonXBT1