Oak Grove Suspense Series #Bookblast Reese Stephens @PromoBookTours @ReeseAStephens

reeseAStephens
Vengence Cover verticalVengeance (Book 1 in the Oak Grove Suspense Series)
When Dr. Shayla Thorn moves back to her home town of Oak Grove, she is determined that this will be a new start for her and her son. But when Dylan’s father insists on righting the wrongs of their past, she’s torn between what she knows is right and what her heart wants. But the one thing she never expected was for her life to be thrown into utter chaos.
Ryan Jacobs, former FBI agent and lead detective for Oak Grove and its surrounding areas, is determined to win Shayla’s heart and make up for the mistakes they made in the past. He won’t take no for an answer, but everything begins to unravel when he is called to the scene of a brutal crime almost identical to a slew of murders he solved long ago.
It doesn’t take long for the pair to give into what their hearts want, but when an old nemesis seeks revenge on Ryan, everyone’s life is in danger. Will Ryan find the culprit in time to save the love of his life or will she fall victim to a vicious killer’s vengeance?

Buy on Amazon. Available on Kindle Unlimited

Penance Cover Promo_0004_Front Vertical CoverPenance (Book 2 in the Oak Grove Suspense series)
Judson Hardenbergh’s life was perfect, that is until tragedy changed the course of his life. When a fire claims his family, he gives up on everything. Will moving back to his home town of Oak Grove save him from himself or drive him into deeper despair?
For Ryan Jacobs, Oak Grove’s Chief of Police, it’s been smooth sailing since the abduction and murders that plagued the town, and almost cost him his family. Though Mathis is still at large, Ryan is confident that he’ll be able to catch him before he strikes again.
When one of Ryan’s high school friends, Judson Hardenbergh, is accused of murder, he must jump into action and determine if ‘Jud’ is capable of committing this horrible crime. What he finds is that this case is more complicated than he imagined and that penance comes in many forms.
Reese Stephens was born in the Appalachian Mountains, but was raised all over the East Coast. Since getting married Reese has settled adBBJBZjback into her Appalachian roots, and currently lives on a small farm with her husband and three children. She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education, and is currently homeschooling her two school aged children. She considers herself a naturalist. She loves learning about and using natural remedies and essential oils to keep her family and herself healthy.

Writing was something Reese never thought much of, until she and her family went through several traumatic events. A friend advised her to keep a journal, but she just couldn’t put into words how she felt, so she turned to the world of creative writing. It didn’t take long for her to discover her passion there.

Reese is currently working on publishing the first book in her Oak Grove Suspense series, Vengeance which will be out this fall. The second in the series, Penance, is expected to be released spring 2017. In addition to writing crime suspense she also writes paranormal romance. Her first story in this genre is called The Reluctant Prince, expected release is late 2017. You can, however, read the first few chapters of it on Wattpad or her Website for FREE.

Social Media Contacts:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReeseAStephens/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReeseAStephens

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reeseastephens/

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/ReeseStephens

Website: https://reeseastephens.com/

I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

The Pine Forest by Michelle Dare #BookTour @OnceUponAnAlpha @michelle_dare

One touch, one spark, two lives forever changed.

Pine and Azure. The war between the two kingdoms lasted far too long. Peace was finally established, but the survivors would never forget who fought on the front lines. Oliver Sage had a reputation for being a ruthless knight. He’d seen enough death to last a lifetime and worked on putting the past behind him, although not all would let him forget.

Addison was the only daughter of King and Queen Azure. With three brothers, she knew she’d always be protected, but she also wanted to learn how to take care of herself. She was strong, had a good heart, and wanted to be treated as an equal. Magical abilities ran in her family, and she had one no one knew of.

Oliver had given his heart to one princess, until the night he dreamed of another. Addison was the last woman he should desire, especially given who she was. However, what if she wanted him as well? They’d hated each other their entire lives, but suddenly couldn’t resist the desire which built between them. There were also those who didn’t think they should be together. Forbidden romance could only stay hidden for so long in the dark depths of the Pine Forest.

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Book One

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Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.

I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Ex-Op Series by Jessie Lane #SalesBlitz @EJBookPromos @JessieLaneBooks

 

Series Title: Ex Ops Series
Novels: Secret Maneuvers #1 (FREE)
Stripping Her Defenses #2 
Mission Delivery #2.5 
Sweet Agony #3
Sweet Recovery #4
Sweet Eternity #5
Bullets and Bluebonnets #6
Author: Jessie Lane
Genre: Romantic Suspense

 

 

From best-selling author Jessie Lane comes second chance romance with a hint of suspense…
A covert Spec Ops group secretly owned and operated by the United States Department of Defense, and managed by their CIA Handler, ‘Uncle Sam’. An elite group consisting of some of the best the military and government agencies had to offer. This series will focus on the Ex Ops Team as they go to work undercover on various missions, while also trying to maneuver through the emotional landmines of their personal lives. Each book will feature a different couple, but the sub plots will connect from one book to the next. This series is best read in order as each novel becomes available.

 




Some mistakes from the past haunt us forever… unless fate steps in with a second chance.


One ‘Dear John’ letter haunted Bobby Baker’s every living moment. It was the letter he’d stupidly written to his high school sweetheart, Belle, right after he had left to join the Army. The letter in which he’d told her that he wasn’t so sure they were ready for forever yet. Before he could let her know that the letter, and his second thoughts, were nothing more than a mistake, she disappeared from the small Georgia town they had both been raised in.


Fifteen years after the letter, Belle unknowingly walked back into Bobby’s life when her job as an ATF Agent forced her to work with a group of men secretly headed by the CIA to help her track down whoever was involved in funneling black market weapons to a drug cartel in Mexico.

Bobby planned to use this mission to try to soothe Belle’s hurt feelings while proving to her that their love was meant to be forever. He would use every dirty trick he’d learned since he had joined the Army to maneuver her back into his life for the long haul. Belle was not making it easy, though, as she continued to keep him at arm’s length in the hopes that mistakes of her own would never come to light.

He can’t change the scars on her body…


but fate will give him a second chance to mend the scars he put on her heart.


Riley Sullivan and the Ex Ops Team are headed to Miami undercover… as bikers. Following up a lead, the men will perform their investigation acting as members of the Regulators Motorcycle Club with the club’s permission. Surrounded by hardcore bikers and investigating missing strippers, Riley finds the last person he ever expected to see again—his ex-wife.

Kara Sullivan left the man she loved after a tragic accident cost them their unborn son. After years of therapy, she’s come to grips with the loss and has re-emerged from the pain a brand new person. That doesn’t mean she’s ready to face the man who inadvertently broke her heart, and who she’s hurt in return.

Riley has never stopped loving her and he never will. He’s ready to fix their marriage and move on with their lives, however Kara’s reluctance to renew their relationship isn’t their only problem. Danger lurks just around the corner… and there’s a chance she could disappear permanently.


 

 


From Best Selling Author Jessie Lane…


Bobby Baker is a man with new lease on life.

He is engaged to his high school sweetheart, and he is bonding with the fourteen year old son he wasn’t aware of a little less than a year ago.

But there’s more. The love of his life is pregnant with their second child. This time, he’ll be there to witness the birth of one of his children instead of missing out on it.

Or will he?

Belle unexpectedly goes into labor a month early while Bobby is coming off a mission half a world away. Will he be able to make it home in time for the birth of his second child?

Or will he miss this delivery, too?

*Previously published in the back of Ice, Regulators MC #1. This is a short story that should be read after both Secret Maneuvers and Stripping Her Defenses in the Ex Ops Series.*

Beware of falling in love with the boy across the street. 

Disappearing from their dangerous life in Chicago, Ginny and her mother went from riches to rags by way of a new life in the sleepy, rural suburbs of New York. Under the illusion of safety, Ginny blossomed into a beautiful young woman with hopes and dreams for a future her mother was determined she would have.
Lucas Young, her best friend’s oldest brother, was the dashing hero in all of her dreams. The man she fantasized about sweeping her off her feet and giving her the happily ever after she had only heard about in her mother’s fairytales.

Sometimes, reality wasn’t what we wanted it to be, though.


What would happen when Ginny found out Lucas wasn’t her Prince Charming after all? Instead, he was a rough and tumble soldier in extremely tarnished armor who had a propensity to break her heart.Maybe happily ever after wasn’t meant for everyone.




He broke her heart… now he has to pick up the pieces.

Lucas Young met the woman meant for him when they were just children. He spent years pushing the sweet, innocent Ginny away for one reason or another instead of claiming what was his, breaking her heart in the process.
Five years later, he runs into Ginny, only he no longer recognizes the person she has become. The good-hearted, free-spirited girl he loved is now a shell of who she used to be, living the sort of life she never wanted. And Lucas is driven to find out why.


However, uncovering Ginny’s secrets will prove to be dangerous for them both.
Will he be able to piece back the broken woman who used to love him with every fiber of her being? Or did he push her away for good?
Warning: This is the second book (50,000+ word novel) in a three-part serial spin-off from the Ex Ops Series. Each of the three books will feature a piece of Lucas & Ginny’s story and leads directly into the next installment. IN OTHER WORDS, THIS STORY ENDS ON A CLIFFHANGER. Also, be forewarned this story will make you laugh, cry, and possibly throw your e-reader at the wall… AGAIN. <- You’ve been warned.


Roses are red, my life is blue, and the man I love is a fool.


Virginia Wellington has accepted her fate of being a pawn in her father’s criminal underworld games, especially if it keeps the people she loves safe. The problem is Lucas has discovered her secrets and the reason she walked away from him. Now he’s determined to save her, even if she doesn’t want to be saved.

I’m not Prince Charming. I’m the guy who kicked Prince Charming’s ass.
Lucas Young now knows why the woman he’s loved since he was a boy disappeared from his life. It’s time he rescued his angel and showed her once and for all that by his side is exactly where she belongs.

Warning: This is the third (and last) book in a three-part serial spin-off from the Ex Ops Series. Each of the three books will feature a piece of Lucas & Ginny’s story and leads directly into the next installment. IN OTHER WORDS, NO MORE CLIFFHANGER! YIPPEE! Also, be forewarned this story will make you laugh, cry, and possibly throw your e-reader at the wall… more than once! <- You’ve been warned. 😉

From New York Times best-selling author Cristin Harber and best-selling author Jessie Lane comes an exciting collaboration…


What happens when Titan and Ex Ops work together?

Terror has gripped the NYPD. A rogue sniper took out, not only the NYPD’s SWAT snipers and police chief, but several others. Now they must turn to the only person they can trust: Jared Westin and the Titan Group.

There’s only one problem. The Titan Operatives are currently tied up with their own missions.

Unwilling to leave the NYPD hanging, Jared Westin cashes in a favor from Commander Jaxon Wall. Only, Jared doesn’t want to send Jaxon’s Ex Ops Team for the job; he wants to send in someone Jaxon has kept secret: his goddaughter, Billie Jean Beasely, one of the best snipers working for the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, if only her male counterparts would let her prove it. The NYC mission could finally give her that chance.

Thing is, Jaxon Wall isn’t willing to send his goddaughter in alone. He wants to send one of his own men to help her. Chase Anderson.

Will Chase turn out to be yet another man who thinks Billie is less of a shot just because she’s a woman? Or will Billie finally meet a man who realizes she loves her bullets as much as bluebonnets?


Jessie Lane is a best-selling author of Paranormal and Contemporary Romance, as well as, Upper YA Paranormal Romance/Fantasy.
She lives in Kentucky with her two little Rock Chicks in-the-making and her over protective alpha husband that she’s pretty sure is a latent grizzly bear shifter. She has a passionate love for reading and writing naughty romance, cliff hanging suspense, and out-of-this-world characters that demand your attention, or threaten to slap you around until you do pay attention to them.
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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Book Review: The Ulterior Motive by Jack Coleston #BookReview @JackColeston @ReadForReview

The Ulterior Motive By Jack Coleston

Blurb

The fate of the United States hangs in the balance and only a select few can prevent the impending disaster.

Stanley Carmichael is an intelligent and hard-working member of the Central Intelligence Agency. Yet, he never expected to be named Deputy Director of the CIA so soon in his career. Nonetheless, he finds himself stepping into shoes that feel impossible to fill.

Anna Carmichael is a legend. She’s one of the fiercest ex-members of the Special Activities Division, where she saw more than enough blood and war for a lifetime. Now, she’s still CIA, but stuck behind a desk and bored. Luckily for her, it seems her fieldwork isn’t done yet. For as soon as Anna’s partnered with rookie FBI Special Agent Blayze Phillips, she realizes his investigation is a lot more dangerous than it seems—especially when it turns its attention to the mysterious Caliph al-Maqasid.
They know that the Caliph spent the last few years successfully uniting fractured terrorist groups in the Middle East. Now he’s formed the most well-funded, strategically efficient operation that’s on its way to becoming a true global caliphate. But who is the Caliph, really? Why doesn’t anyone know anything about this infinitely clever, charismatic, and terrifying man? And what, exactly, is he plotting next?

The Carmichaels will have to work together to find out, because the Caliph is about to strike at the heart of America

Amazon 

My Review

The Ulterior Motive by Jack Coleston if a very fast pace, action packed political thriller.

This book was very intense and fascinating. I thought the author did a great job with the characters. Some characters were developed and some were just in the background. I had no problems keeping up with this story.

What really intrigued me was the fact that Anna is a very strong alpha type character and her husband Stanley really wasn’t, he is the desk type person. I loved how these characters were developed. There isn’t much history about Anna, (maybe next book?) but her husband Stanley we our told more about him. I really liked both characters and I am pretty sure that is what kept me interested along with all the action.

If you love Political Thrillers this is a really great book to read. Very fast paced and lots of action. I love watching and reading stuff that has CIA and action in them. I had no problems picture this story in my head while reading it. There was no swear words that I can recall in this story.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

I gave this book 5 stars because the story exceeded my exception and was well worth my time reading.

I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Melancholy Ghost by Kat Mayor #CoverReveal @lolasblogtours @MontemayorKat

Today is the cover reveal for Melancholy Ghost by Kat Mayor. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

Melancholy GhostMelancholy Ghost (Spirit Chasers #2)
By Kat Mayor
Genre: Paranormal
Age category: Adult
Release Date: 14 February, 2017

Blurb:
From ghost hunter to ghost, haunted.

Barrett has a plan—help Austin regain his memory, surround him with his friends and loved ones, and lead him into the light. Unfortunately, the tragic investigation of a melancholy ghost derails everything.

As new lead investigator, Thai struggles to maintain the high ratings SCI has always enjoyed. After a few subpar investigations, the network execs demand results, even if it means the team must put their lives on the line for a house more deadly than its dead occupants.

There are worse things than being dead.

Austin knows something is wrong. Most people ignore him, time eludes him, and his hands are basically worthless. If only he could remember what happened, he would have the answers he so desperately seeks. He’s sick of Barrett’s lies and Casey’s deflections. Austin will have to figure this one out on his own. Will the truth set him free, or destroy his soul?

You can find Melancholy Ghost on Goodreads

Melancholy Ghost Teaser

Excerpt:
While the others were in the back storeroom, Bob and Luis investigated the front of the store. Bob’s spirit guides led them over to an old Victrola. An apparition in a three-piece suit materialized in front of them. Bob couldn’t see the solid forms of ghosts the way Casey and Barrett did. He saw them as clear beings with bright edges. But if a spirit was strong and determined, it could convey its thoughts and words to Bob. You, sir. Might I have a word?
“Certainly.”
Professor Charles Bowen. The translucent apparition held out his hand in introduction.
Bob made the motion of shaking his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Professor. How can I be of assistance?”
The professor pointed with his translucent pipe. On the floor were shards of broken teacups and saucers. That was Lady Jane Carraway’s collection of fine, English bone china. It was then that Bob noticed the silhouette of a feminine spirit. Her clear being was outlined in a Victorian era tie-back blouse and skirt. She stood behind and to the side of the professor, clutching a lace handkerchief and weeping soundlessly. A mute spirit, Bob realized. Somehow her silent sobs were more sorrowful than if she had been wailing loudly. The professor pushed his wire-rimmed glasses up higher on his nose. Now what is to be done about them?
“Them?”
Those hoodlums. It’s one thing to endure their practical jokes. But Lady Jane is a kind soul. She didn’t deserve this.
He’s sweet on her, a young male spirit taunted. Then he made smooching noises. A couple of other spirits with him began to laugh. They blurred into one as they floated off down another aisle.
Alas, I did not know Lady Jane when we were alive. He patted her arm. I wish I had. His eyes narrowed at Bob and Luis. You must make them leave. They are turning this fine establishment into a rowdy, ill-managed ale house.
“We’ll do our best, Professor.”
One more thing.
Bob turned to face him. The ginger boy is the ring leader. If you cross him over, they’ll all follow.

Kat MayorAbout the Author:
I am a native Texan, wife, and mom. In addition to The Spirit Chaser, I have written a young adult series, The Circle. I’m a full-time reader, part-time writer, and when I’m not kicking a story around in my head, I love to read and review books on Goodreads.

You can find and contact Kat Mayor here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

SUMMONER RISING by Melanie McFarlane #CoverReveal #FridayReveals #Month9Squad #Month9Books

 
Today Melanie McFarlane and Month9Books
are revealing the cover and first chapter for SUMMONER RISING, which releases March
28, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers
to receive a eGalley!!
A quick note from the author:
After writing my YA debut,
There Once Were Stars, I never imagined that another full story idea would come
to me so quick. But sure enough, in Spring of 2015 I finished playing a round
of Final Fantasy (old school) and the thought came to me of creating a character
who could summon demons, like the characters in FF can do in battles. From
there I created my main character, an indie-outcast kind of girl, who listened
to bands like Nirvana and Small Brown Bike (like I did in college), and always
want to fit in but never really felt like part of the gang. I made her broken
and dark, not naive and protected like Natalia from There Once Were Stars to
ensure they were nothing alike and so they would face different challenges.
From here, Dacie was born – a complicated girl who wants to be normal but
doesn’t want to conform. A girl with ghosts in her closet, demons under her
bed, and an inner power so strong she’s going to have to learn to control it or
suffer the consequences. Dacie is a combination of who I was and who I wanted
to be when I was a teenager. And we all have to deal with our demons at some
point.

On to the reveal!

 
Title: SUMMONER
RISING
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Pub. Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads
|
Amazon | B&N | TBD
Excerpt from, The Book of Summoning:
Law One: A summoner is responsible for
all creatures it lets through from the netherworld.
Dacie Cantar wishes someone had
explained the Laws of Summoning to her before she watched a shadowy creature
crawl out of a painting at the local arcade. At least it explains the strange
things she’s witnessed since moving in with her great-aunt, after her mother’s
untimely death. But who wants to be followed by shadows the rest of their life?
Add that to being stalked by a strange boy at school, who just might be her
Tovaros (aka soulmate), it’s about all Dacie can handle in her new life.

 

As she nears her seventeenth birthday,
will she be ready for her new responsibilities, or will the shadows that
stalked her mother until her death, finally consume Dacie, too? And then
there’s Law Two…

 

Excerpt

Chapter OneBroken. That’s how I feel inside. It’s as if something ripped out part of me and won’t give it back. That’s what death does to you when it touches those you love; it’s not rocket science, but it’s definitely not what I thought it would be like. In movies it is cold, pale, and filled with sadness and longing, or sometimes so predictable and eye roll worthy with its Hollywood special effects. But the death I’ve experienced has been more horrifyingly real; filled with personal loss, haunting dreams, and shadows that run around in the night.

The therapist they assigned me back in California said I needed to move forward. Keep on, keeping on. As clichéd as it was, I agreed. I’d spent most my life fighting to thrive, practically raising myself. Now wasn’t the time to give up. Death was inevitable; if I let the fear of it hold me back, I might as well roll over and die right now. Survival meant I had to push those feelings deep down inside and forget they were there.

“Daciana!”

Great Aunt Katya’s voice calls from the hallway while I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, playing with concealer to cover the dark circles under my eyes. Sleep doesn’t come easy when you’re trying to be someone new.

She appears behind me in the mirror, her long white hair a contrast to my dark locks. “Are you sure you won’t change your mind?” Her thick accent is still a novelty to me.

Katya has spent the entire summer trying to convince me that I’d be better off stuck here with her, getting homeschooled like everyone else does in our family, back in Romania. I’m not against it; I’d just like to try to fit in first.

I shake my head and mimic a cheer. “Go Greystone High!” My knotted bracelets slip from my wrist, bumping against the rolled up sleeve of my plaid button-up shirt, and my chipped black nail polish is the opposite of anything bright and cheery. I’m not about to give up my first chance to have a different life.

Katya throws her head back, letting her multi-hooped earrings clink against each other, mingling in the air along with her laugh. She dresses like a bohemian, but flashes way too much cleavage. She wears more bracelets than I do, and a lot more rings. All her jewelry looks like it was forged by hand in one way or another, and I’m sure if I ask there’s a story behind it all. She looks back down and shakes her head at me with a smirk across her burgundy painted lips. She looks amazing for sixty-five.

“Don’t be late your first day.” She pats my shoulder before leaving. In her reflection I see a shadow chasing after her, along the cracks of the old wooden floor. My heart jumps and I spin around, but both of them are gone. I run to the door and peek around the corner, but Katya is alone as she disappears down the creaky old stairs.

I sigh and return to the bathroom to grab my backpack, glancing in the mirror one last time. My dark brown eyes stare back at me; when will they stop playing tricks on me? This isn’t the first shadow I’ve seen dashing about, but every time I try to chase after them, there’s nothing there. I’m obviously losing my mind.

Downstairs, I pop a waffle in the toaster and stare out the patio doors at the trees that line the back of our yard; but I’m not really watching the trees; I’m trying to convince my nerves that this school will be like every other new school I’ve attended my entire life. Only this time I don’t have my mother to send me off in the morning.

I snap out of my thoughts as the toaster pops.

Outside, my little four door hatchback sits in wait. Katya found it for sale at the side of the road and bought it for me my first day here. Its navy blue paint is peeling, and there’s a bumper sticker that says My Kid is a Greystone Grad, but now that I’m going to be a student there I may as well leave it. Plus I’ve never had my own car before; the freedom is exhilarating.

As I pull up to Greystone High I realize the concept of being normal is harder to carry out in person. The stone exterior of the school is as old as the rest of this coastal town; its interior was modern twenty years ago with its classic cement block walls and color themed lockers. The students are familiar with one another, as if they all grew up here in Greystone, Maine.

Most of them turn their heads as I walk down the hall, not even hiding their curiosity. As soon as I find my locker I duck my head inside and finally breathe. I expected things to be different. I should’ve known a new location wouldn’t change anything; being different is always the same, no matter where you go.

“You’re new,” a boy’s voice comes from the locker next to mine.

I take a deep breath and grab my sketchbook with trembling hands, from my bag. “Sure am,” I say turning, and walking away.

I hear his footsteps run after me. “Hey, I’m Brennan. Where’d you move from?”

“Hey,” I mimic him. “That’s pretty personal when you don’t even know my name.”

His eyes grow wide and a twinge of guilt pokes me in the gut. “I—,” Brennan stammers.

“California.”

He looks confused. “That’s your name?”

“You asked where I moved from. It’s California. I’m Dacie.”

A smile jumps across his face showing small dimples on either side of his mouth. He’s kind of cute with his short brown hair and sparkly blue eyes, that match his jersey with the Greystone High logo; that is if you like that sort of jock look. It’s never been my thing, not like I’m an expert or anything. I’ve never dated anyone before. Not a hand held, first kiss, or grope. But hey, nothing screams normal like Mr. Football standing in front of me.

“Why would you move here?” he asks, still flashing that all-American smile.

There’s a question I’m not ready to answer. “Sorry, I-uh, have to go. I’m going to be late for Art class.”

“Come find me and my friends at lunch!” Brennan calls out as he backs into a group of girls who start squealing and hitting him with their books. I can’t help but smile.

I turn toward my classroom, but I’m just as clumsy as Brennan. As I turn around I run smack into someone. My sketchbook falls to the floor, scattering my drawings everywhere. I look up and see I’m leaning against the chest of a tall boy.

“Sorry,” he mumbles.

He kneels down to pick up my papers and I drop to the floor, grabbing them away from him. One of my bracelets falls off on the floor and he picks it up.

“It was my fault,” I say, stuffing them back in my book.

We both stand up at the same time, only inches apart, and so close I can see his chest move with every breath. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much contact with a boy before.

“No harm done.” He gives me a crooked smile and, is that an accent I hear? What is it? European? He holds the bracelet out to me, rousing me from my thoughts.

I stare at him for a moment. His hair is a little longer than I like, but it suits him as it falls into his eyes. What are they: green with flecks of brown and yellow like a starburst from his pupil? His jaw line has a slight shade of stubble on top of his tanned skin. He’s practically poetic; I finally exhale and can feel my face warm up from thinking about him.

“Thanks.” I grab the bracelet diverting all attention from my face.

“Shall we enter class?” Shall? Who says shall?

“Yes, please,” I say raising an eyebrow. The green hues in his eyes flicker for a moment with a hint of amusement. Is he laughing at me?

I put my head down and scoot past him, brushing my arm against his. My body tingles at the sensation of his skin. Enough, Dacie! I hurry to the first empty desk I see, which is close to the back; usually I chose a seat in the front row but right now my face is so flushed I need to hide.

But the boy follows and takes a seat behind me. I shift in my plastic seat and focus on the front of the room, but the hair on my neck raises, as if someone’s watching me.

My teacher is an older woman with curls so tight they create the impression of dreads around her freckled face. Her clothes are an odd assembly of ballet flats with gaucho slacks, topped with a frilly apron splattered in paint. She gives us a short lecture then has us begin working on pointillism. I check out some Escher and decide to sketch my hand. It’s not copying if I draw my own, right?

I struggle to make my fingers look real. They come out more sausage-like than human, which makes me frown. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get it right, and I’m not about to reference my Escher print again or I might as well just copy it. Half way through class I give up and look around; everyone else is working diligently on their pictures.

I peek over my shoulder to see what the boy is doing. I should have asked him his name. He’s sitting against the back of his chair with his arms crossed, staring at me. I spin back around, reaching for my pencil in an attempt to look busy and knock it off my desk. I scramble to grab it before it falls, but it hits the floor and rolls to the back of the class.

I turn my head after the pencil, and hang half way out of my desk to catch it. My fingers brush against the floor and a dark black boot stops it in the middle of the aisle. I follow the boot all the way up to the boy’s face. He lets a small smirk spread across his mouth. Wow, he’s fast.

I force a smile. “Thank you.” I sit up straight in my desk and spin around.

He leans over and grabs the pencil. “Anytime.” He sweeps his hair from his eyes and holds it out to me.

I get out of my desk and walk over to him. “Are you already done the project?” He nods. I look down at his drawing. What the—he’s drawn a picture of me as I was drawing. Even worse, it’s good, really good. My cheeks flash hot with irritation; I’m not sure if it’s from the invasion of privacy or pure jealousy. I manage to twist my face from a glower to a frown: “We were supposed to do pointillism.”

He keeps staring at me. “I saw something I liked more.”

A sharp pain stabs my gut and my face feels even hotter than it did a second ago. “Whatever,” I say as I grab my pencil and hurry to my desk.

Thankfully he does not attempt to talk to me the rest of class. When the bell rings he pauses at my desk still holding the drawing in his hand. I grab my things and leave as quickly as I can. I’m not interested in any explanations. Who does he think he is?

My next class is History, where I get a long-winded account of the colonization of Maine starting back in the 1600s. Lucky me, we’re going to move through the centuries. After that it’s Math and then finally lunch.

I throw my books in my locker and head for the cafeteria. I manage to find a sandwich and an apple that look edible but when I turn to look for a seat, I see Brennan standing up waving at me. I force a smile and wave back; pretending to be normal can’t be that hard, right? He’s sitting with another boy and two girls. The boy smiles at me and the girls just stare.

“Hey everyone, this is Dacie,” Brennan says.

I meet Zack, Sophie, and Chantal. Everyone has their perfectly normal names and is coupled up, in the order they are seated. They all wear smiles except for Chantal, who stares me down. I’m pretty sure she’s interested in Brennan, the way she keeps her eyes glued to him, but he seems oblivious as he sits next to her.

“Dacie moved here from California,” Brennan says, flashing me another one of his full face smiles.

Sophie flicks her long blond hair over her shoulder and laughs. “Ewww, why would you move here? It’s always so cloudy.”

“Long story,” I say, taking a bite of my sandwich.

Chantal rolls her eyes. “It’s so boring here, but you’re too new to know.”

I swallow my ham and cheese and shrug. “I’ve been here all summer.”

Brennan’s eyes light up. “Really? Where’ve you been hiding?”

“I live with my aunt up at the end of Marlborough Lane.”

“Oh my god,” Chantal says. Her mouth hangs open with a smile playing at the edge. “You’re her.”

Sophie shoots her a dirty look. “Shhh.” Chantal stares down at her lunch.

I raise an eyebrow. “What do you mean ‘her’?”

Sophie’s cheeks turn red. “We heard, you know, about your mom.”

My throat is suddenly dry and I have to force down my next swallow. “So everyone knows?”

“It is a small town,” Chantal says, staring at me.

“Okay, hold on everyone. Dacie, we just mean we didn’t know you’ve been here all this time. I would have come by to meet you.” He flashes me one of his full face smiles.

Right. Come meet the freak. I put my half eaten sandwich down on my tray and stand up. My chair scrapes against the floor, echoing in the cafeteria. It seems everyone around us has gone silent to listen in on our conversation.

“Don’t go,” Brennan says. The rest of the table looks away, except for Chantal.

“Sorry.” She doesn’t seem sincere.

“It’s fine. I just need some air.”

I take my tray and deposit it near the exit as I leave the cafeteria. As I go to push the doors open a black streak flies out of the corner of my eye. I know better, but still run after it. Nothing is there—argh!

The double doors to the cafeteria bang closed behind me as my frustration builds. I walk to a quiet corner and lean my back against the wall as I exhale. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath, again. Some girls giggle as they pass by. This normal thing sucks.

I close my eyes and think about my mom. Six months wasn’t long enough to numb the pain. The mention of her, and the fact everyone knows the story, stings like it did when I left the west coast. Now I want nothing more than to go back there. What’s the point of being here now if I can’t escape the past?

“You alright?” a familiar, accented voice comes from next to me.

I startle, opening my eyes and see the boy from art class. “I’m fine.”

I push myself from the wall and continue down the hallway to the doors outside. As I reach the exit, I turn and see him staring at me as I walk away. My body shivers from the cool fall air.

When the bell rings, I go back inside, making a b-line for my locker. A slip of white paper hangs halfway out of it. I pull it out and right away recognize it: it’s the picture of me from art class, but the boy who drew it is gone.

I stomp through the hallway, determined to find him but he’s nowhere to be seen. Brennan sees me and waves, but lowers his hand when I shoot him a glare. I ignore him and continue down the hallway. The second bell rings for classes and the hallway empties but I am too worked up to stay. I crumple up the paper and throw it in my backpack. Again I catch a black streak in the corner of my eye. I really need to get more sleep.

 

 
Melanie McFarlane is a passionate writer
of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether
it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to
save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can
be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused
her powers on her YA debut There Once Were Stars, and her YA urban fantasy
Summoner Rising.
She lives with her husband and two
daughters in the Land of Living Skies.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl