Friday, December 13, 2019

Anyone But You by Brien Michaels - Blgo Tour with Author Guest Post and Giveaway



About Anyone But You
Murder is one hell of a drag.
Jack Kieza has a problem. He’s deeply attracted to men, but his homophobic family has left him too afraid to act on it. With his thirtieth birthday around the corner, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he finds himself at a gay club. After spending a fiery night with drag queen Sheila Saltue, everything changes. Especially when he discovers her alter ego: his boss, Ryan Swift.
Ryan knew he should’ve said no the second Jack approached him. Now he can’t stop himself from texting Jack every chance he gets. But Jack won’t let him take the wig off during sex, and being Sheila off-stage is wearing thin.
The more time they spend together, the more intense their feelings get, but Jack isn’t ready to date a man yet. When drag queens start turning up murdered, it forces Jack to reexamine his feelings, because what if Ryan is next? While Jack wants their burgeoning relationship to work, it would mean having to admit who he is to the world. And that’s an idea as frightening as death.


Thank you so much for having me!

For anyone who is new to my particular brand of…er…crazy, my name is Brien Michaels and I write erotic romance. And dark erotic romance. And sometimes even all out horror. I grew up reading Stephen King, so I can be a little twisted at times. Welcome to my Anyone But You blog tour! I’ll be checking in all day, so absolutely feel free to comment if you’d like to chat. J

Today I want to talk about inspiration. For the most part, I am what we call in the writing community a Pantser. Which basically means I rarely plot or outline ahead of time and just write by the seat of my pants. This book was a little different because I was trying my hand at writing a Romantic Suspense, and I needed to know who the killer was ahead of time and where to drop in certain clues. So I planned the whole thing out around fairly early on in the process. And by the time I got to the end, the only thing that remained the same was the identity of the killer. The story took on a life of its own, as I should have known it would.

But there was one particular scene that really marked a turning point and not only changed the course of the story, but also gave me (and I hope anyone who decides to read it) a deeper insight into why one of my characters is the way he is.

I always listen to music as I write, and this one day, as I was starting my writing session, I put my phone on shuffle and this Taylor Swift song was the first up. The song is called The Moment I Knew, and Taylor describes it as being a song about the worst birthday of her life. I’d heard the song countless times before, but that day, it hit me differently. Jack (the character in question) was turning 30 during the course of the story, and I’d never planned on introducing his family. I’d never planned on giving him a birthday party on the page. But all of a sudden, he was standing in the middle of this huge party room his parents had booked for him, watching everyone around him have a great time while he’s waiting for the only person he actually wants to be there to walk through the door. And as he interacts with his family over the course of the chapter, I learned so much more about him, to the point where I actually fell a little for him myself.

But does he get what he wants? I dunno. But I highly recommend you check out the book if you want to find out the answer.

About Brien Michaels
Brien Michaels was hatched shortly before the turn of the century. He grew up in the DMV area and has been creating characters for as long as he can remember, starting with an imaginary friend named Farquad Beaverhausen. Before turning his considerably wicked imagination to writing, he was an actor, aspiring film student, movie theater concessionist, and the first human to enter the seventy-second dimension. Though it is unclear whether he made it back or if Farquad’s evil twin, Brad, has taken control of his body. He’s currently on the run from the Secret Police, who want to bring him in for questioning regarding the whereabouts of erotica authors L.A. Witt and Lauren Gallagher. If you encounter him, please contact his publishers immediately, as he likely should be chained to a desk writing and not out walking children in nature.
Twitter: @BrienMichaels

Giveaway
To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $10 gift card to Riptide. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 14, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

Let Your Heart Be Light by J.R. Lawrie - Release Blitz with Giveaway




Length: 49,000 words approx.

Publisher: Carnation Books 

This holiday season, celebrate with a trio of festive gay romances by debut author J. R. Lawrie. This anthology features three stories sure to warm the heart and captivate the senses. Full of romance, humor, sweetness, and the perfect amount of heat, this collection is perfect for an evening by the fire.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED

Dr. David Christmas has heard every joke in the book when it comes to his name. Weary of the festive season and from his long shifts in the emergency room, David is also tired of his lonely single life. His only hope for Christmas is a glimpse of the shy but gorgeous neighbour who lives above him.

Christmas-loving Julian has nurtured a crush on the grumpy man downstairs for years now. Still hurting from his ex-boyfriend's cruelty, he hasn't yet dared to say hello. When an injury on Christmas Eve puts Julian directly into David's careful hands, a little healing might be on the way.

KIND OF A BIG DEAL
and
THE FARRINGDON CLUB

Up-and-coming comedian Zack Wynn splits his time between the stage and the London pizza restaurant where he works, until life hands him one hell of a Christmas present. Richard Garston is the handsome and clever older man of Zack's dreams, but what exactly is it that Richard does?

Soon, Zack learns the truth: Richard's classified role in the British government makes him a much bigger deal than he claimed.

Is Zack ready for the politics and power of Richard's world?
And is Richard's world ready for him? 

J. R. Lawrie graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Language and Literature in 2011. She believes queer readers deserve a wealth of interesting stories, not just familiar tales of self-loathing. She practices what she preaches in York, UK, with her wife and their three spoiled guinea pigs.

For news and updates, you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook 

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions


Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Marshal's Teacher by Este Holland - Release Blitz with Excerpt and Author's Q&A

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The Marshal’s Teacher
(Yours to Protect, Book 3)
By Este Holland


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Publisher: Self-Pub
Release Date (Print & Ebook):
December 12, 2019
Length (Print & Ebook)
: Approx. 40,000 words
Subgenre
: lgbt/action
Warnings
: talk about deaths of parents


Book synopsis:  

Protecting him is no hardship.

Chaze Pullman has a sixth sense for trouble. He never thought it would come in handy when a man threatens him over a hot US Marshal.

Kean York may be recovering from a gunshot wound, but he’ll go to any length to protect a certain stubborn man. After all, Chaze’s life was put in danger because of York…

Or was it?

When emotions run high, information can be overlooked, and Chaze’s instincts are telling him something else is going on.

Something that may not involve him at all.

This is the third book in the Yours to Protect series. It’s novella length with a cliffhanger for the overall plot of the series, but it is HEA for the main characters.

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Excerpt

Chaze called the next day, and they arranged to meet at York’s house later that night. It wasn’t the weekend yet, but he’d sounded…not desperate, more like in a hurry.

York smiled as he made the bed with clean sheets. He stocked the fridge with plenty of cold beer, then showered. He had to be careful how he moved and to not to get his stitches wet, but he managed. He was feeling better already.

Date. He’d promised a date, not sex, but it didn’t hurt to be prepared. And he liked Chaze. He didn’t want to screw up. There was something about him that made York feel good, like he wanted to be near him more and more every time he saw him.

They’d agreed to stay in, since it was still difficult for York to move around much, so he ordered dinner ten minutes before Chaze arrived. And arrive he did, in tight jeans, a black, short-sleeved button-up, and a loose, skinny blue tie.

Damn. It was going to be difficult to keep his head on straight when all he wanted to do was peel off those jeans, blindfold Chaze with that tie, and suck his cock.

“Hey,” York said, stepping aside and to let him in.

“Hi.”

“You look great.”

“Oh, thank you.” He pulled on the tie. “I had a meeting this morning.”

He blushed, eyes darting around the room. York chalked it up to first-date jitters.

“How are you feeling?” Chaze asked.

“I’m good. I can move more today.” York demonstrated by rolling his shoulders carefully.

“That’s good.”

“Have a seat. Want a drink?”

“Yeah, beer, if you have it. Thanks.”

York took his time getting the frozen mugs out of the freezer and pouring two Coronas and squeezing in limes. He figured Chaze could use the time to settle.

“Here you go.” He brought the drinks in and set them on the table just as the doorbell rang. Chaze jumped and York chuckled. “It’s dinner. I hope Thai is okay.”

He blew out a breath. “It’s fine.”

Chaze lifted his mug and gulped half of it in seconds. York’s brows rose. He opened the door, gave the driver a tip, and brought the food into the kitchen.

Was Chaze that nervous to be there? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Disappointment made York’s shoulders sag, and he winced at the tug of pain. He’d foregone a pain pill since that morning so he could drink.

He made two plates of food with a little bit of everything and carried them to the living room. Chaze stood studying the bookshelves. York didn’t have a lot of books, but enough were interspersed between the various photos and knickknacks he’d accumulated over the years to make him seem less plebeian.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” York asked, setting the plates on the coffee table. “You’re a little jumpy.”

Up close, York could see dark circles under Chaze’s eyes.

“I…” He ran those slender fingers through his hair, pushing back the front. “I don’t know what to do.”

Chaze’s voice held a certain note York associated with witnesses or victims, and his training kicked in. “Hey, it’s okay. Whatever it is, we’ll get it sorted out.” He gripped Chaze’s arm and guided him to the couch to sit. “Just start at the beginning.”


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Interview with Este Holland:

How long have you been writing? I wrote my first novel in 2012, so 7 years. Though, I’ve written other things since I was in elementary school.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Yes! I’ve always loved books. I’m an avid reader, but writing was always something I craved. I used to have a binder with a story that was going to be my first novel. I was about nine or ten years old, I think. Can’t remember what it was about.  

Writing is the one thing I do consistently, and the one thing that holds my interest. Jobs I’ve had always get boring after a few years…but not writing.  

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out? Watch your filters. One way to spot a new writer is when their sentences are filtered with pronouns and verbs. You hear people say, “show don’t tell”. Basically, this means don’t use: to see, to hear, to touch, to sound, to taste, to realize, to look, to notice etc… For example: “She realized he was it for her.” You don’t need “She realized”, it’s implied by the context of your paragraph. I’m still guilty of it and have to cut them when I’m editing. You don’t always have to cut all of them, but 99% of the time you can. So, if you see them in my books, you can point and laugh and say, “Ha ha, she missed one!”  

How do you handle writer’s block? I don’t really get writer’s block (knock on wood). It’s more of a laziness thing with me, lol! Some days, I have to force myself to write. And it’s not that I don’t love to write, I do. But if the characters aren’t jumping out at me, I have to make myself write a few sentences, then a few more, until I have enough words that I feel productive for the day. Luckily, that doesn’t happen all the time.  

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing? Good characters. You have to have compelling, fascinating characters. I think importance is place on relatability, and while that is a good trait for characters, the characters who really stand out are the ones that fascinate us. Take Snape in Harry Potter. I won’t go into details, but you know what I mean. He wasn’t likeable, or particularly relatable. We hated him, but in the end, he was the most compelling character in the series, in my opinion. I can only hope I write a character like that one day. I haven’t yet.  

What comes first, the plot or characters? For me, it’s the characters. Usually. My last release, First Priority, came about because I wondered what Emperor Kuzco from the Emperor’s New Groove would be like as a character in a mm novel. Weird, yes. But there you go. It’s a writer’s brain. (It was Truman, btw, if you’ve read it. Obviously, I changed him along the way!)  

In the Yours to Protect Series, Rio was the first character I thought of. (He’s one MC from The Artist’s Boxer.)  

How do you develop your plot and characters? They tell me who they are. I start with a name and general idea of what they look like in my head. Maybe what they do for a living. My plots are simple to start. I don’t outline, I’m a pantser, and the plot evolves as I go. It’s not a good thing to do for a series, but I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to write a series from Yours to Protect until Kai popped into Rio and Rake’s story. I knew I wanted to give him a story, so I decided who I wanted to pair him with, and he was already working for the mob, so the plot for The Marshal’s PI evolved out of that.  

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about? Right now, I’m writing the fourth book in this series, The Marshal’s Mobster. Actually, I’m kind of alternating between that one and the second Priorities book.  

Do you have any new series planned? I have The Marshal’s Mobster, which is the last one, and then a character from those books (Luke Kairo) will get his own sort of standalone book, which I’m hoping to transition into a spin off series in LA. It’s about a secret intelligence agency. That’s on the back burner for now though.

I will have two more books in the Priorities series first. Daniel and Riley, and Brian and Jay. And I have another book to write for my paranormal series, The Metis Inquiries, but that’s a way’s off.
 

More from Este 

Yours to Protect Series

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The Artist's Boxer (Yours to Protect Book 1)

Screenshot 2019-12-05 15.57.25.pngHe won the championship. Now he must run for his life.

Winning the welterweight championship was everything Rake had worked for. Now it’s all come crashing down, and he has no choice but to flee his hometown of Las Vegas.

When he stops in a small town in Utah, Rake meets a man who makes him forget all about the danger he’s in.

Rio has a good life. He loves his family and career, but when Rake blows into town, something stirs in his blood...something like desire.

Rio doesn’t do relationships, not since the last disaster, but Rake makes it impossible for him to say no.

When Rake comes clean about what he’s running from, Rio just might have a way to help.

Now the two of them must fight to free Rake from the man who took everything...and stay alive until the end.  

The Artist’s Boxer is the first book in the Yours to Protect series. It contains mature sexual content of hot adult men, intended for readers 18 and older, a one-night stand turning into several days, and a crafty old man who loves to butt into his grandson’s life.
 


The Marshal's PI (Yours to Protect Book 2)

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Dodging bullets shouldn’t be fun…should it?

It is when the man protecting you is hot as sin.

Kai is a happy-go-lucky guy. At least, he was before the mob came knocking on his door.

He’ll go to any length to protect a secret, even work with US Marshal Gannin West. The only man who can help. The only man who drives him crazy.

To figure out how to stop the one who wants Kai erased, he’ll have to cooperate… But will it be too late?  

The Marshal’s PI is the second book in the Yours to Protect Series. It features a goofy PI who wishes he lived in the 1930s, and a Federal Marshal who hates breaking the rules. Male/male romance, action, adventure, enemies to lovers, 18+ only.
 

About the Author:

 
Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things Romance. She's also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born and raised in WV, and now lives in Virginia. She works in marketing during the day. She began writing novels in 2012.



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Inheritance by Gail Z. Martin - Cover Reveal & Release Blitz with Excerpt and Giveaway


COVER REVEAL


Book Title: Inheritance

Author: Gail Z. Martin

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Release Date: October 22, 2019

Genre/s: Urban fantasy with romantic elements. 

(Note—Characters from my Morgan Brice (MM paranormal romance) books make several key appearances in this book. 

Also, a long-time committed MM couple figure prominently in the plot).

Trope/s: Established relationships, strengthening commitment, supportive partners, protective partners

Themes: Friendship, found family, loyalty, family always has your back, trust

Heat Rating: 0 - 1 flame (No sex, kissing/hugging for MF and MM characters)

Length: 66 000 words/ 222 pages

It is the fourth book in the series but can be read as a standalone.


 



Can Cassidy and her friends find the demon box, stop the killer ghosts, and break the Pendlewood curse before Beckford’s murderous cousins and the vengeful demon destroy them all?


Blurb

Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curio shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them, and she teams up with friends and allies who use magic and paranormal abilities to get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats.

Caribbean ghosts terrorize Charleston and start racking up a body count. Then Beckford Pendlewood, the heir to a powerful family of dark warlocks, shows up raving about a bound demon locked in a lost box and begs sanctuary. Can Cassidy and her friends find the demon box, stop the killer ghosts, and break the Pendlewood curse before Beckford’s murderous cousins and the vengeful demon destroy them all?

Buy Links 




Excerpt

From Chapter 1

“I have a problem antique I’d like you to take a look at.” The man on the other end of the call sounded rattled. I recognized his name—Alfred Stone, from Stone Auctions—but I didn’t think we had ever spoken, let alone met.

“What kind of ‘problem’ does it present?” I asked. A number of possibilities came to mind. “Questionable provenance? Not sure how to authenticate?”

“I think it’s trying to kill me.”

Well, damn. That kind of problem. “All right, Mr. Stone. Try to stay calm.”

“I just told you, it’s trying to kill me. I heard you…know…about these things. Please, help me.”

Across the store, Teag Logan glanced up to make sure everything was all right. I nodded, and he went back to helping a customer.

“I can come now. Are you at the showroom?”

“Yes. Thank you. And…please…hurry.”

I ended the call and sighed. This might be the first time Alfred Stone had an antique try to kill him, but that made it just another day here at Trifles and Folly.

I’m Cassidy Kincaide, and I own Trifles and Folly, an antique and curio shop in historic, haunted Charleston, South Carolina. The shop has been in my family for more than three hundred years. While we’re known as a great place to buy high-quality antiques, the shop is also a cover for the Alliance, a coalition of mortals and immortals who save Charleston—and the world—from supernatural threats. I’m a psychometric, which means I can read the history and magic of objects by touching them. Teag is my assistant store manager, best friend, and sometimes bodyguard—and he’s also a talented Weaver witch. Sorren, my business partner, is a nearly six-hundred-year-old vampire. Together with some other friends with very specialized abilities, we do our best to keep the world safe from dark magic and things that go bump in the night.

“Problem?” Teag asked when the customer left.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “Alfred Stone just called—from the auction house. He says he’s got an item that’s trying to kill him.”

“You want me to go with you?” Teag pushed a lock of dark hair out of his eyes. His skater-boy haircut and skinny jeans made him look younger than his late twenties. “Maggie can handle the store.”

On cue, Maggie—our lifesaver of a part-time associate—waved to agree from the other side of the store. She was sporting a new bright pink streak in her short gray hair, and it matched her sweater, a reminder—as if I needed one—that she believed in taking risks and living large.

I reached up to slick my humidity-frizzy strawberry blond hair back into a ponytail and shook my head. “Let me go see what the problem is, and I’ll figure out what to do from there. It’s not far away, in case I need to give a shout.”



About the Author 

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, SOL Publishing, Darkwind Press, Worldbuilders Press and Falstaff Books. Recent books include Convicts and Exiles, Sellsword’s Oath, Inheritance, and Night Moves. With Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of the Spells Salt & Steel, Wasteland Marshals, Joe Mack and Jake Desmet series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance including the Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail series. Recent books include The Rising, Flame and Ash.


 
 

Social Media Links





Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win 

one of three $10 Amazon Gift Cards


 



 



 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Captivating by Onley James - Blog Tour with Excerpt

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Captivating
Elite Protection Services Series Book 2
Onley James
M/M Romance
Release Date: 12.04.19

ebook (1)

Cover Designer: Molly Phipps with We Got You Covered Book Design

Blurb

Jayne Shepherd has spent his life blending in. He smiles. He laughs. He’s likable. He’s also a sociopath. His emotions are limited. Love, fear, desire don’t exist in his world. Until he meets Elijah.

Elijah Dunne had everything. Third generation Hollywood royalty. Child star. Untouchable. Until one man ruined it all. Elijah fled LA to try to forget, but now, he’s back on top and back on a monster’s radar. Elijah doesn’t think he’ll ever feel safe. Until he meets Shepherd.

Elijah and Shep only have one thing in common. They both wear masks. Shep makes Elijah feel protected. Seen. Elijah makes Shep just feel. Now that he’s had a taste, he’s not about to let him go.

Everybody warns that what they have isn’t real. Shep is obsessed with Elijah, not in love. But Elijah craves Shep’s obsession. He can’t imagine life without him. In Hollywood, being a sociopath is more a life skill than a diagnosis. Could Shep be the monster Elijah needs to finally slay his demons?

Captivating is the second book in the Elite Protection Services Series and contains age-gap, cum-play, voyeurism and one very sexy interrogation scene complete at 72,000 words with an HEA and no cliffhangers.

Trigger Warnings: This book contains talk of past child sexual abuse


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Excerpt

“What’s wrong?” Shep asked. 

Elijah took a shuddery breath and then dragged his shirt over his head, dropping it onto the floor. The blood rushed from Shep’s brain to his dick so fast it made him dizzy. Elijah locked eyes with him as he hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his pajama pants and slid them off, leaving him naked and hard. The look on the boy’s face was so vulnerable, it kicked up an instinct in Shep that was too primal to name.   

Elijah seemed to make some kind of internal decision, closing the distance between them to straddle Shep’s thighs. “Tell me this is okay,” he whispered, gaze pleading. 

Shep nodded, his hands already skimming across Elijah’s bare thighs, itching to touch as much of the boy as possible. “Yes. Just tell me what you need.” 

“Kiss me.” 

Shep complied, capturing his mouth in a kiss that turned dirty. Kissing Elijah ignited something in him. Everything about Elijah turned him on. The way he sucked in a startled breath when Shep’s tongue slipped into his mouth, the way he moaned when Shep bit his bottom lip. His scent, the heat of his skin, all of it. Everything. 

“Put your arms around me,” Elijah demanded. Shep did as he was told, his palms finding Elijah’s ass and squeezing. “Fuck. Yeah. Like that,” he gasped against Shep’s lips. “You feel so fucking good. I just need to come.” 


Elijah’s words had Shep’s cock aching. “Take what you want.”

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Onley James is the pen name of YA author, Martina McAtee, who lives in Florida with her daughter, her daughter-in-law, and a menagerie of animals, both good and evil. When she’s not writing m/m romance or supernatural LGBT young adult books, she’s running 7 Sisters Publishing and attempting to maintain both her sanity and her full-time job as an RN.

When not at work you can find her mainlining Starbucks refreshers, whining about how much she has to do and avoiding the things she has to do by binge-watching unhealthy amounts of television in one sitting. She loves ghost stories, true crime documentaries, obsessively scrolling social media and writing kinky, snarky books about men who fall in love with other men.

Social Media Links



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Grimmer Intentions by Jodi Hutchins - Release Blitz with Excerpt and Giveaway


Title: Grimmer Intentions
Series: Tales from the Grim, Book Two
Author: Jodi Hutchins
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 9, 2019
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 91100
Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, romance, paranormal, demons, ghosts, spirits

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

She screwed up. She broke protocol. She saved a life. Grim Reaper Margo Petrov may have resurrected a drowned surfer on the brink of death, but she isn’t earning any awards or receiving employee of the month from Corporate; she’s under more scrutiny from the Grim governing body than ever before. Since she has a massive secret that could spell disaster if revealed, she sure as hell doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, in any form.

Margo vows to keep her head down and stay out of trouble, reaping her quota of spirits lest she cause more problems for herself and the woman she saved with an illegal blood bond. She certainly shouldn’t be opening doors to the Fae lands or offering her neck to an Empusa woman suffering from bloodlust, but Margo’s laundry list of bad decisions keeps growing. With the threat of becoming decommissioned by Corporate looming in her periphery, Margo stumbles deeper into the politics of her people and soon realizes their intentions are far worse than she initially thought.

Excerpt


“Margo, calm down. You can’t go killing someone just because they pissed you off.”

Margo Petrov pumped her arms, increasing her speed as she cut across the dead grass of the front lawn, though her initial fury had settled to a low broil. The cold metal of the baseball bat against her palm was soothing but not calming enough to ease the rage completely.

The sound of Luis’s sneakers pounding the asphalt behind her indicated he’d finally caught up. “I’m not going to kill them,” she grumbled.

Luis snorted. “Okay, well, when you storm out of your apartment, yelling, ‘I’m going to fucking kill ’em, Luis,’ I think I can safely assume you’re going to kill someone.”

She stopped abruptly, causing Luis to run into her chest as she turned to face him. “Fine,” she said, tossing the bat into the bushes lining the sidewalk. She grabbed his shoulders, lowering her gaze to his. “Nobody fucks with my brother without consequence. Nobody,” she said, shaking him slightly to emphasize her seriousness.

Headlights from a passing car gleamed in his wide brown-eyed gaze as he nodded.

“Besides”—she started, as she dropped her hands from him, quirking an eyebrow—“I just want to know if they’re afraid of the dark.” She’d been livid when Luis told her the resident group of asshats from their high school decided to give Luis hell on his way back from the library.

Without further discussion, Margo continued down the cracked sidewalks of downtown Philadelphia.

“They still hang out at the bowling alley on Daly Ave?”

Luis huffed a discontented sigh, eliciting a grin from Margo. “Dude come on. Think about this for a second; do you really want to risk another arrest? You’re almost eighteen, and you could be charged as an adult.”

He had a point, and she admitted that to herself, but she continued down the sidewalk anyway, cutting across the street, her feet displacing loose black asphalt pebbles on the worn roadway. “Yeah, but they need to leave you the hell alone. This is getting ridiculous.” For years, she and her brother experienced taunting for their otherness, Luis taking the brunt end most times. The basketball team tormented Luis for merely existing; however, Margo guessed they blamed their mocking on his differences. They needed a good scare, using a bit of magic, the otherness his tormentors weren’t aware of. She wanted to scare them so bad they’d piss themselves. If all else failed, she’d just beat the shit out of them.

Luis gave a shrug of nonchalance, something she instantly recognized as her brother’s passive language, which furthered the desire to teach the perpetrators a lesson. Instead of digging into his dismissal, she turned and continued her way toward downtown.

Luis followed.

The streets were busy even though rush hour had ended a few hours prior. Cars zipped past, a stray honk resounding a few blocks away, voices rising in a cacophonous argument. The late-night city sounds were laden with a warning, hinting at the kind of night bad things happened, stirring a deep foreboding in the air around them.

Luis jabbed her in the ribs, ripping Margo from her eerie thoughts. “Hey, do you see that?” He pointed to LOVE Park on the opposite side of the crosswalk. Standing beside the water fountain was a child, their head turning from side to side in rapid succession. Luis was clearly pointing to the small person; however, the iridescent shift of air around the child indicated to Margo they weren’t alive.

Before meeting Luis, she agreed with the titles given to her—weirdo, crazy, psychic—the names condensing her down to a freak who could see ghosts with the only person to possibly believe her long dead. Of course, she’d been ecstatic to find kinship in another, to prove at least to herself she wasn’t crazy. That is until Luis stopped for every spirit in sight with their Sally-sob story. “Yeah, I see them, and no, we don’t have time.”

Luis scoffed just as the light turned, and he hurried across the street without waiting for Margo.

She rushed after him, forgoing her planned scare tactics on the basketball team in hopes she’d convince him to leave well enough alone.

They approached the park’s edge, Luis carefully watching the child. Luckily, the park held no other visitors, alive or dead. “We have to help her,” he whispered before he stuck his lower lip out.

She rolled her eyes. “They aren’t stray puppies, Luis. We can’t help every single one of them.”

Brows cinching, he met her gaze with an icy stare. “Maybe this is why we can see them, to help them move on.”

Though reluctant to admit it, she’d come to the very same conclusion herself a long time ago. With no way of knowing why they could guide ghostly apparitions to the other side, she couldn’t come up with a better reason herself. She glanced over at the redheaded girl and sighed. “Fine, but we need to be quick, and I still want to find those idiots so I can mess up their night.”

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Meet the Author

Jodi Hutchins is a healthcare professional by day and fanatical writer by night. They are also an avid reader, coffee connoisseur, helpless romantic, amateur artist, enthusiastic maker-upper of things, spouse, and parent. The frequent rain of western Washington doesn’t stop Jodi and their wife from gallivanting through the next trail head with their two children.

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