Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year of high school ended in a fiasco. But now her father needs help, and Cambri has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and heads home, hoping against hope that Jace Sutton is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs-in the past. If only life worked that way. Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she walked out of his life without a backward glance, he was left with no choice but to try to forget her and move on. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jace instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs. If only it were that easy. The Ripple Effect Romance Series Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors. “Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course- one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love.”
Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford Book
2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin Book
3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson Book
4: Lost and Found by Karey White Book
5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver Book
6: Immersed by Jennifer Griffith
This is the first time reading this series, I honestly can say I can’t wait to read all the books in this series. I received this book for an honest review.
Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson is about Cambri, she left her small town to go to college and then got a job as a landscape architecture across the country. She was very happy with her new life loved her job and her condo. Well circumstances happened and she needed to go home for a few weeks, her Father had gotten ill. Once there she wasnt happy, but needed to take care of her Father, who didn’t really want help but she was stubborn about it and stayed. She was also hoping she didn’t run into Jace Sutton, of course being a small town she was bound to run into him.
I can say that I loved this sweet romance story. The author did a great job of developing the characters and even though this was the 3rd in the series I had no problems reading this book and what was going on. The author gave just enough information to be able to know a little of the story.
If you are looking for a sweet home town type romance story, this one is for you.
Miranda’s Choice by Mya O’Malley
Have you ever felt that the grass is greener everywhere else? Meet Miranda James. Miranda has a problem. Her friends and family are wrapped up in themselves, so clueless. With divorced parents, a mother who is always on her case and a new step-mother on the horizon, Miranda wishes that everybody would just grow up.
In a moment of magic, Miranda is mysteriously pulled into the life of a charming mermaid and her adventurous daughter. Why can’t her life be so carefree and exhilarating? Why can’t her own mother be more like Abigail, the mermaid? Be careful what you wish for though. Only through self-realization can Miranda figure out that perhaps the grass is not always greener. Held captive in an underwater paradise, Miranda wishes to desperately recapture the life she used to have.
Through many twists and turns, Miranda is caught up in a whirlwind of emotions, including finding her first true love.
Miranda is faced with making a decision that will not only affect her own life, but also those around her. What would you choose?
Excerpt- Miranda’s Choice
Spellbound had been around for some time. Even Miranda’s mom claimed to have played it when she was a teenager. The game promised magic, mystery, and fun. A series of spaces marked the board and when you rolled the dice, you had to follow the directions on the designated spot. A group of Miranda’s friends had played it once at a sleepover at Stephanie’s house. Miranda had landed on a spot that had asked her to conjure up a mythical creature. Her chant for a beautiful fairy hadn’t succeeded, but it was tons of fun nonetheless.
“No wonder you wanted to give this to me out here. Mom would flip.” Miranda giggled as the wind slowly picked up speed.
“Is it supposed to storm tonight?” Eve spun her head around, taking in the vast beach.
“I think so, a little bit later. We should get started or Mom will come find us if we’re late.” Glancing back toward the motel, Miranda rubbed her hands together. “Let’s do this.” She opened the package, tossing the plastic and gift wrap in the nearby trash can.
“I hope I get to dare you to do anything I want,” Eve squealed, throwing her head back in laughter.
“Wrong game. This is not Truth or Dare.” Miranda knew that a spot on the board allowed you to command a game member to do anything, but that was not going to happen. She would rather walk away than let Eve embarrass her.
Sure enough, after about ten minutes of playing the game, Eve landed on her favorite spot. Miranda could feel a wave of tension seep through her body as she witnessed Eve scanning the beach.
No, there was no way that she would actually expect me to…
“Got it!” Eve leaned closer to Miranda, squirming. “See that guy playing ball, the one with the blue shorts and dark hair?” Was she kidding? Of course Eve would zero in on the group of boys playing football.
Rising to her feet, Miranda swept the sand off her shorts. “No way! It’s almost time to go back anyway.” Miranda secretly willed her mother to come out to the beach to get them. No such luck. It figured that this would be one of the times that her mom would leave her alone.
“You have to, it’s in the rules.” Eve chided, standing now, glancing at the boys with her hand placed on her hip. “Besides, you don’t even know what I’m going to ask you to do.”
“Fine. What are you asking me to do?”
A grin a mile wide formed on Eve’s face. “Ask that guy if he would like to come over and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to you.”
Crossing her arms in front of her chest, Miranda stood her ground. “No.”
“I see. Well, if I remember correctly, this is a dare and if you don’t follow through, there will be consequences.” Eve examined her fingernails as if she didn’t have a care in the world.
Red heat crept up Miranda’s face. She could practically feel her blood boiling. “Eve, I swear, if you do anything…”
“Do it. Now,” Eve challenged. “No,” Miranda retorted. Shaking her head, Eve headed toward the group of boys. Was she seriously going to do this? “Eve! Wait!”
Spinning her head around, Eve stopped in the sand. “Go ahead.”
There was no way on Earth that she could ever ask that boy to sing her “Happy Birthday”—no way! Whatever Eve had up her sleeve couldn’t be worse than that. “I’m going back to the room.”
“Hey, do you guys want another player? My friend has been watching, afraid to ask,” Eve called over the boys. Miranda stood, frozen to the spot, her heart racing.
Laughter filled the air as the boys stood, assessing her. The tallest boy spoke first. “I’m pretty sure that neither of you would know a thing about how to play football.”
“Yeah, let’s play a game, and it’s not touch football,” a blond boy shouted, sticking out his chest.
The boy in the blue shorts stood silently. He poked his blond friend and leaned over to whisper something in his ear. The shouting stopped. Miranda was helpless to do anything but stare.
“Oh, yeah! I know plenty about football!” Eve shouted as the boys gathered up their football and continued playing.
The dark-haired boy turned to gaze at Miranda. In the fading light, it was difficult to make out his features, but he appeared to be quite handsome. Miranda broke the stare first, turning back to face her friend. Eve was doubled over in huge gasps of laughter. Bending down to snatch her bag, Miranda stomped off.
“Hey! Stop! Don’t be such a wet blanket, come on!” Eve caught up with her and grabbed her by the elbow. “It’s your birthday, lighten up!”
“Get off me! I’m not speaking to you!”
They advanced up the sandy path to the street. Eve spoke again.
“Did you see the way the guy in the blue shorts was looking at you?”
That stopped Miranda in her tracks. He had looked back and she couldn’t help but notice how cute he was. “No.” Her head dropped.
Taking her hand, Eve led her back to the spot in the sand where the game lay, unfinished. “Let’s just finish the game. Don’t be mad.”
“I guess.” Part of the reason that she was friends with Eve was because of the fact that she was so outgoing and brazen, fun to be around.
“Sit.” Eve sat first, pulling Miranda down to join her. The sky was darkening, the clouds threatening rain. Miranda swept a hand over her face to keep the wind from blowing her hair in her eyes.
“It’s past a half an hour. We should probably get back.” Something about the dark clouds overhead caused her to worry.
“You take one more turn, then we’ll go.” Eve crossed her legs in the sand.
“I don’t know, it looks like it’s going to downpour at any minute.” Glancing at the ocean, Miranda felt a chill race up her spine as the waves crashed into the rocks.
“One more turn.” Eve’s eyes were wide with mischief.
“Okay, let’s get this over with and then we’ll head back.” Miranda couldn’t believe that her mom wasn’t calling them back yet.
She rolled the dice and it landed with a thud. Six spaces. One, two, three, four, five, six. She secured her shiny game piece on the board.
Glancing down to read the spot, Miranda shrieked. It was the spot she had been waiting for.
The sound of the wind beckoned in her ear, the crashing of the waves all around.
“What are you going to conjure up?” Eve rubbed her palms together, squinting at Miranda.
The roar of the waves increased, and the wind intensified. It was suddenly darker. The beach took on another form, exactly as it had been in all of her dreams: the rocks, the shore, it all looked so surreal. Glancing around, Miranda saw the dark- haired boy approaching, his shadowy figure coming closer.
The sound of her mother’s voice filled the air. Miranda spun around to see her advancing upon them from the street.
“If I need you, let it be, if you need me, look to the sea.”
The chant whirled out of her mouth. She had no idea where the words had come from. Thunder boomed and lightning crackled as Miranda stood and strode toward the water. She padded on the soft sand as pellets of rain pounded down, the wind kicked up higher, and the ocean roared. Her mind focused on the water.
I love the way it all wrapped up. Some of the twists and turns took me by surprise, but that ending. Oh, how I loved it! ~Katie W.
Author Mya O’Malley
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers; Destiny and Dolce and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.
Mya currently has two new releases: At First Sight, a contemporary romance about dating in the modern world, published by Astraea Press, and Where There is Love, a contemporary romance in which a woman struggles with past obstacles, ultimately faced with whether or not she will open her heart to love. Where There is Love is published with Solstice Publishing. Mya is excited to say that Astraea Press will be releasing her contemporary holiday paranormal romance titled If You Believe on November 25, 2014. Due to be released late January is The Calm After the Storm, published by TouchPoint Press. This novel is a contemporary romance taking place in the setting of Hurricane Sandy. The story revolves around the idea of a utility worker from Georgia falling in love with a woman in New York.
Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her sixth novel.
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think of as our present existence, as a dream. –Edgar Allen Poe
Fate sometimes conspires to right a decades-old wrong. And the 6.8 earthquake that strikes Southern California one warm March night is the fateful event that brings family therapist Ann Hart and trauma specialist Ted McConaughy back together. In search of her cell phone after the tremor, Ann picks up a shard of vintage cut glass from a collection she and her husband gathered during the four years of their marriage. For the millionth time she thinks about the day six years ago when he disappeared on a search and rescue mission in the Sierra foothills.
Sitting atop the shattered crystal, a small silver cigar lighter glistens in the beam of her flashlight. Gently she returns the Victorian piece to the shelf. What does it mean that something she and Ted, her ex-fiancé, bought together survived when Alex’s beautiful glass is smashed to dust? Ann tells herself that it doesn’t mean anything more than glass breaks and silver doesn’t.
Sara Jane McConaughy has never experienced a strong earthquake, and as her father comforts his 16-year-old daughter, his mind is flooded with memories of the Northridge quake in 1994. He was living with his fiancée, his ex-fiancée, and even after all these years he doesn’t know what caused the split, but he always loved her. And he’d been sure she loved him.
Volunteering with the American Red Cross in the aftermath of the earthquake brings Ann and Ted face-to-face for the first time since their break-up, twenty years ago. Angry, flustered, excited, and bewildered by Ted’s sudden appearance and unusual behavior while she’s teaching a small group of people relaxing exercises, Ann demands he leave. Just as excited and bewildered, Ted rushes away. His exit leaves both of them wondering about … everything. The earthquake (or is it seeing Ann?) ignites a series of recurring dreams peopled by total strangers in places Ted has never been.
Accompanied by short lapses of time and sleepwalking, the dreams take a heavy toll on his waking hours. Sara Jane’s concern sends Ted on a quest to discover the cause and find a cure. When all medical possibilities are exhausted, he turns to a colleague, whose diagnosis leaves Ted more baffled than ever. Tom Alderman believes that the dreams are memories of past lives. The lives live in his subconscious, and the cure is hypnotherapy.
After several months of suffering with these increasingly emotional recurring dreams, Ted turns to Ann for help. One of Ann’s specialties is hypnotherapy and since he must be able to trust the hypnotist, Ann is his only salvation. Ann’s agreement to try and help (at the urging of a mutual friend) sends her carefully regimented and calm life into complete turmoil. The garden gate they pass through together sends them on a journey that defies time and reason, forcing them to rethink their past, present, and future. Now, each must reconsider their capacity for love and forgiveness. Things are not always what they seem.
“This author does an amazing job of interweaving the beauty of another day and age with the harsh modern world. Mystery lovers will be pleased, but the romantic and mystical, even supernatural fans out there, will be over the moon for this one.” ~Amy Lignor
“From the intriguing dialogue to the expansive plot that wraps around a truly unforgettable couple, this book has it all!” ~ Feathered Quill Book Reviews
Author Sally Smith O’Rourke
Sally Smith O’Rourke, a native Californian, lives in a small Victorian village in southern California. She is the author of the much acclaimed Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, her first solo novel. She is also co-author with her late husband Michael O’Rourke (aka F. M. O’Rourke) of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen (Kensington Books, 2006), The Maidenstone Lighthouse (Kensington Books, 2007), and Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage (Kensington Books, 2009).
Previously, Sally worked on network television, feature films, and documentaries in science, medicine, and aviation. She owned and operated a medical advertising company with her late husband where they produced and wrote teaching films for major medical and surgical manufacturing companies. Additionally, they collaborated on two feature films (direct to video).
In addition to writing every day, she works as a surgical scrub nurse and enjoys sewing, cooking, baking, candy making, cake decorating, and spending time with nieces, nephews, step-children, and grandchildren.
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl
This is my stop during the blog tour for Raindrops on Roses by Millenia Black. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 9 till 22 February, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours: http://lolasblogtours.net/blog-tour-raindrops-on-roses-by-millenia-black/
Raindrops on Roses (Favorite Things Trilogy #1)
by Millenia Black Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Women’s Fiction Age category: Adult Release Date: November 18, 2014
Blurb: What happens when the man you love falls in love with someone else?
Mayfair Island, Florida. Grief-stricken after the sudden loss of her beloved grandmother, an enduring but reclusive Hollywood icon, young Priscilla Bauer finds herself adrift and looking to find solace in the arms of her vast inheritance, when she meets the kind and considerate corporate brand designer, Michael Frost—a drop dead gorgeous beacon of light in her all too dark night.
Falling hard and falling fast, Priscilla has no idea she’s stepped into dangerous territory…Because someone else has already branded Michael Frost her very own—and she has no intention of ever letting him go.
Passions are high, but bitter vengeance gets even higher!
With Raindrops on Roses, the captivating Favorite Things Novella Trilogy—takes flight!
This book has it all, Love, Loss, Jealousy & Vengeance, I couldn’t put this book down. This story is about a man who falls in love with someone else. Of course something like this happens quite regularly, but this isn’t an ordinary relationship. Michael Frost, not married but in a long term relationship since high school. Priscilla Bauer, the Grief Stricken Granddaughter whose beloved and famous grandmother passes away. Leaving her and her brother her a vast inheritance. Michael who didn’t even realize who she was when he first laid eyes on her, fell for her immediately when he saw her. This romance is Sizzling, Priscilla and Michael are just perfect for each other, but of course there is more, Michael’s girlfriend is not happy when he breaks up with her. Of course there will be vengeance and justice for anyone hurt by this. The girlfriend and her mother do not want Michael to be with Priscilla, they want Michael back. This is not just a simple break up, there is a lot of passion in the writing of this story. This book is so enthralling, I felt like I was there watching, this is such an awesome new series, I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. This is not a stand alone book.
You can watch the trailer for Raindrops on Roses on Youtube
About the Author:
No one does family and relationship drama quite like bestselling author Millenia Black! Heralded as a double life and relationship expert, she’s been a featured guest on radio shows across the country, discussing the 7 Smoke Signals Your Man is Living a Double Life.
A celebrated alumnus of Keiser University, Millenia lives in the State of Florida where she’s currently hard at work on BLUE SATIN SASHES, book two of the highly acclaimed Favorite Things Trilogy!
Currently unmarried, she’s never dated anyone living a double life…
Seventeen-year-old Emma Harris is drowning on dry land.
No one knows what’s happening to her, and she’d like to keep her evolution from human to mermaid a secret, but the truth is getting harder and harder to hide. From her adoptive family, from her friends, and especially from the irresistible James Phelps.
Her time in the ocean is spent dodging a possessive merman, while her time on land is split between caring for her special-needs brother and squeezing in every last possible moment of human life. She soon realizes falling for James is unavoidable when he constantly comes to Emma’s rescue and somehow manages to see through her carefully constructed icy facade to the vulnerability she lives with every day. Everything about James makes Emma yearn for a life on land she just can’t have.
When Emma’s brother disappears on her watch, James is the only person she trusts to help her save him. But even if they can save her brother, nothing can prevent her return to the sea. Whether she likes it or not, Emma is changing—unable to breathe without yielding to the tide—and it’s only a matter of time before she’s forced to surrender forever.
I have to say I loved this story. I loved the cover as well. But this story was so fascinating that I couldn’t put it down. I don’t normally read fantasy or mermaid stories but this one was worth it to me.
The story is about Emma Harris, it is her senior year and she loves her family and loves living on land, not her fault that she was born a mermaid and has to return to the sea. She is a responsible person and loves her family. But her destiny was already made for her. She will return to the sea when she is 18 year old.
I loved how the author made me feel during the story. I really thought it was great, kept me wanting to keep reading. To me the book was captivating and felt so real. She goes through stuff similar to other girls her age. I am just glad I was able to read this book.
“Yep. And Everest is just a mountain.” She glanced at her younger brother, Keith, wondering again if it was a mistake for her parents to enroll him in regular high school. The district classified him as “special needs,” and Emma agreed with that label. He was special, and for whatever reason, he thought he needed to attend school with her.
What if people were mean to him because he was different? What if bullies picked on him? What if he came away traumatized for life? Hoping he was still this excited about school at the end of the day, she nudged him with her bag. “Let’s go, you grown-up high schooler.”
Keith’s grin split his face, lighting his eyes with excitement and pressing a wrinkle into his prominent forehead. The look melted Emma’s heart. If they were mean to him, she’d destroy them. Destroy them completely.
“You’ll find me at lunch, right?” He started toward the building, twisting the bottom of his T-shirt into a ball. The first nervous gesture he’d shown since they’d left the house.
“Yep. And we can eat outside on the grass if you want.”
“Okay, ’cause I know I’m going to be hungry. It’s my first day of high school, and Gran says teenage boys are always hungry.”
Smiling at his eagerness, Emma saw Keith to his first class, where a petite woman with dark, spiked hair introduced herself. “Hello, Keith,” she said. “I’m Mrs. Long, the aide. I’m here to help you learn everything you need to know about high school.”
“Hi, Mrs. Long.” Obviously embarrassed, Keith pulled the collar of his shirt over his face, hiding his pink-tinted cheeks.
“Is this your sister?” Mrs. Long asked, trying to force him to engage. “Are you going to introduce us?”
Hesitant to leave until she was sure Keith would be okay, Emma said, “Why don’t you be a gentleman and introduce me to your teacher?” Nothing. She kept her voice light, despite the nerves buzzing along her skin. “Keith, I’m going to be late to class. You don’t want me to get in trouble, do you?”
“No.” He shook his head, still hiding.
“Remember what we talked about?” she asked, tugging on the wrinkled bottom of his shirt and trying not to curse her parents. “How it’s polite to look at people when you talk to them?”
“How if you’re going to high school, you have to have manners and pay attention to what your teacher says?”
This time, he let the shirt down enough that his eyes peeked over the top. “Yes.”
“And do you still want to go to high school, or have you changed your mind? Because if you’d rather go home, I can take you.” And she would, even if it meant missing her entire first-period class.
He let go of his shirt and smoothed it over his torso, biting his lip. “No, I’m big. I want to stay.”
Pride filled the empty spaces in her chest. Keith was so much stronger than she would ever be. “Then hurry and introduce me before I’m late.”
Scuffing his shoe on the ground, he muttered, “This is my sister, Emma.”
Author Nichole Giles
Nichole Giles, the author of the Descendant trilogy, has lived in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Texas. She loves to spend time with her husband and four children, travel to tropical and exotic destinations, drive in the rain with the convertible top down, and play music at full volume so she can sing along.
From the award-winning author of the Cornerstone Deep saga, comes a story of love, devotion and courage.
Chad Aumelan is in love, but his world isn’t right. Not when he’s forbidden to have Dae just because she’s his slave.
When Salana Goffin meets Chad, she’s faced with the unbelievable: a man who must take energy from a host to survive. He wants to find a cure to free the woman he loves. How can Salana turn away such a noble cause?
Together, they search for answers, but fate has another plan.
“Aumelan is much more than a love story. Ms. Wilson has crafted a masterpiece in which she closely examines the human condition: How far will we go as a society to survive? How far will we go as individuals for compassion? The literary genus is covertly wrapped in a delicious genre romance where readers are submerged in the lives of her characters and the fantastic sci-fi backdrop of their imperfect world. Make no mistake, Aumelan may easily become a classic to transcend time. A definite recommended read!” ~ J.D. Brown, author of Dark Heirloom series.
The tunnel incline steepened, and Chad adjusted his pack to accommodate the climb. Narrow tracks scarred the smooth rock in the floor from centuries of trade wagon commute, this being the direct route to the outlying farming caverns. He veered from the byway to avoid the chance of a stumble and then glanced at the band of crystalline in the trail’s high arch. Their faint glow confirmed the lighting services of the capital city were coming to an end.
Illumination from his crystal-lit torch brightened as he lowered the lever on the handle and the large quartz rose from the braided rod to fill the cap. White beams poured over the sediment, bleaching it the color of bones, and shadows hugging the furrows in the walls thinned, leaving the appearance of sloppy patchwork.
He looked behind him, past Dae, to see the catacomb. The main passage served his people since they settled below the planet’s crust and stretched farther than he could see. How many times had he and Dae walked this road?
Too many to count.
Dae blocked his view as she sidestepped.
Bypassing a crevice in the ground, he turned to see her better. Her knees tapped at her skirt, causing the hem to brush her shins as she walked. He cocked a grin as he recalled his decision concerning her attire. While he had allowed the brown smock-like dress as long as she wore the thick leggings, he had insisted she wear the hiking boots—no matter how much it set the other Keepers at odds with him. The servants’ thin slippers, while justifiable within the walls of their cavern homes, would never serve well on their excursions. Scrunches and clumping accompanied each step of her heavy footwear. The hefty boots broke her simplistic style, being the only clothing she hadn’t handmade.
He lifted his brow. Somehow, the montage looked charming on her. Long brown hair brushed at her arms as she bowed her head and watched her steps along the trail. Her mouth moved with silent words, her lower lip dipped into a natural pout. Shadow overtook half her heart-shaped face, and her hand twitched at the same time she raised her brows.
Reciting instructions again, Dae? He grinned, knowing her habit. Since their youth, she’d recited, memorized every command given to her, even the rules to the games they played as children. He had tried hard to lose, just to see the excitement in her eyes when she won. If only he’d known his father called for her penitence when she bested him—he would never have lost.
But she wasn’t the same girl.
Slowing his pace, he allowed her the chance to walk beside him. She shuffled to a stop, and her brown eyes peered at him with a hint of question. He gazed into them, hoping she would ignore the rules of their placement and hold his gaze. She flushed and looked away.
He pressed his lips into an understanding smile. It wasn’t a fair act on his part, he knew, but the nerves danced in his stomach. It would only take a word, or with his telepathic ability, a directed thought, and she’d be as close as he wanted.
But would it be what she wants too, or a response to my command?
If only her eyes glimmered with the iridescent sheen his did. If only pride held her posture erect with sureness in each step. If only she held the blood of his people.
With a tempered sigh, he scrubbed at the back of his neck and stepped into a turn. His short hair stood on end and itched at his scalp as they gradually broke from the sweaty hold. He swiped at it again, plastering it to his head, and then wiped his hand down his gray vest. Traces of mud clung to the pockets. Black muck and blond hair. Nice, Chad.
He wrinkled his nose with a grimace and peeked over his shoulder to see if Dae had noticed. Evidently not. Her gaze followed the ground. Relief eased his worry, but why bother? A master shouldn’t seek his servant’s approval anyway, right?
Twin columns stood at the center of the forked byway, in stark contrast to the rouged environment, and marked the end of the capital city’s services. Chad veered left before they reached the pillars. Dipping into a narrow tunnel, he dimmed his torch to accommodate the smaller space.
Are her people really so different than mine? The answer came with a resounding yes. Okay, he reasoned, mine can’t produce sustaining vitality and hers can. But beyond that…
Hefting himself up a boulder, he sat on top and swung his long legs over. He jumped down, gravel crunching beneath his feet as he landed. Dae followed suit.
We were separate nations above. My ancestors survived on the surface fine before they came below, didn’t they? How is it the Chamber people kept the gift of vitality without the sun but the Tsosey didn’t?
He swayed into a half turn to look at Dae but caught only a glimpse as his pack hit the sidewall. Leveling his load, he continued his stride. Maybe we’re not true children of the sun, but the Chambers are…like those above are now. Why else would the sun grant them energy to sustain their lives…and ours? Warmth spread within his chest. Dae, a Child of the Sun.
He shook his thoughts into logic. That just can’t be.What did happen to the Tsosey? No explanation came to mind as he filtered through the memory of his studies.
A giggle chimed from behind him, and he faced Dae. She quickly cupped her hand over her midriff and then slowly closed it into a fist. Holding it out, she unfurled her fingers. A cave cricket sprung into the air, and Chad ducked to keep it from landing in his hair. He barely suppressed the smile tugging at his lips.
She shared his love of excursions through the Hollow Hand—of that, he was sure. Hiding his grin, he resumed his walk and repeated the reasons in his mind he would never know if she cared for him as he did for her.
Difference. Placement. Laws.
Keeper and server.It will have to be enough. His thoughts paused as he attempted to put the subject out of his mind.
Light reached deep into the pass and highlighted the jutted walls like vertical horizons. Water trickled, its faint echo playing alongside their scuffled steps. The mundane view and monotonous pace left too much room for his mind to wander.
His thumb thumped his thigh as agitation bubbled in his gut. But…hearts are the same. Desires are the same.
With each footfall, his heart beat out possibilities. Would she want him if it were allowed? If the only thing separating them was the empty space between them? Images of holding her warmed his blood, and he took a breath to relish the sensation further. His palm tingled.
No worry of a master’s rebuke would exist; no walls of status would stand in the way. She’d meet his gaze without hesitation—and hold it. Her cheek would lean into his palm as he brushed back her dark hair. Those pouty lips would welcome his in a soft kiss. Her body would melt into his, arms around him, and…
Sparks flashed in Chad’s head as it rammed into solid rock. He rolled back on his heel and then landed a firm foot behind him to brace his stand. Scrubbing at his brow, he opened his eyes to the jagged ledge he’d blindly walked into.
Reality rushed back to him, and he looked at his servant in time to see her gaze dart downward.
Despite his embarrassment, the corners of his lips curled. He tilted his head to peer at her. She couldn’t hide the sparkle in her eyes behind those wispy lashes no matter how much she might try. His voice held a touch of mirth. “You may say it.”
Wide chocolate eyes looked at him. Her head jerked to the side as if she caught her show of refusal mid-shake.
He upped his scratched brow. “Dae, speak truthfully to me.”
She bit into a timid comment. “I can walk through there easily, but I am five feet five inches tall. You are six feet three inches tall. That is too tall to fit through there without bending over.”
He tempered a chuckle and it blew past his nostrils. “Yes.” Running his hand along the amber-and-toffee-colored formations, he mumbled to dispel the lingering humiliation, “I forgot this passage jutted down like this.”
Pulling his map from his vest pocket, he cleared his throat and smoothed the paper against the wall. Light from Dae’s crystal joined his to pour over the drawings as she held it closer. He jotted a note. Low cave bacon. Stashing the map, he dipped into the short pass. “I really can’t help myself. My mind was elsewhere.”
A thick halo surrounded the light from his crystal torch as a fine mist enveloped them. Water gurgled from the side of the narrow trail and seeped into the cracks at their feet. Chad inhaled the mineral-scented air and flexed his fingers. He peered down the tunnel and listened carefully. Either the slight swirl of the mist played with his mind, or a low howl sounded in the distance. This wasn’t here the last time, was it?
“Do you recall falls along this path, Dae?”
Her words came out slow as her gaze traveled the haze. “We have traveled it only once. But, no. I do not recall this.”
Confident and steady, be the anchor for your keep. The lesson he learned as a child flashed in his mind, and every instinct lined him up to do just that. But, if his years with Dae had taught him anything, it was she who anchored him when it came to placement. He nodded and continued the trek as if the abnormalities didn’t worry him.
“Styne has wanted to accompany me to the World of the Sun for years,” he said, careful to keep his tone light. “His parents couldn’t have given him a better coronation gift. Uncle Tyro will be sorry he missed it.”
“You described it to them perfectly. It does have endless horizons and the scents of a billion creations.”
“How else could I describe it? That cave above the sea is my greatest discovery yet.” He threw a cheery gaze over his shoulder. “How many of our people get the opportunity to witness such things? They’re going to remember this outing for the rest of their lives.”
Author Charlene A Wilson
Charlene A. Wilson is an author of tales that take you to other dimensions. She weaves magic, lasting love, and intrigue to immerse you into the lives of her characters.
She began writing in her early teens when her vivid dreams stayed with her long after she had them. The characters and worlds were so amazing she brought them to life through her books.
Charlene resides in a small community in Arkansas, USA, with her two beautiful daughters, husband, a cuddly Pekingese, and a very chatty cockatiel named Todder.
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