Mini Tour: Intent: In the Shadows by Krista Wagner @IntentBook04 @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

I have the perfect book for you to curl up with while stuck indoors, called Intent: In the Shadows by Krista Wagner!

CoverFinalLG-InTheShadows(1)In the Shadows (Small Town Secrets #1)

Publication Date: December 2018

Genre: YA Suspense/ Thriller

It’s hard to enjoy high school when someone is stalking you. . .

Raylee, a pastor’s daughter, just wants to get through the last two years of high school. But it’s not easy when you’re an outsider. Or when the most popular girl in school’s goal is to make your life miserable.

Or when someone starts to STALK you. . .

When classmate Paul befriends Raylee, she is determined to ignore Crystal’s ploys. And when new student Billy arrives, Raylee finds herself drawn to his mysterious side. But Crystal is determined too, and she will do whatever it takes to keep him from Raylee and to ensure that the rest of Raylee’s high school years remain angst-ridden.

Raylee must cling to her FAITH in God more than ever, because someone lurks in the shadows, watching her, leaving scary clues, someone who wants to set her on edge. But why? Is it Crystal and her clique, or worse, someone she trusts?

*Book #1 is a clean mystery suspense appropriate for young adult and up.

Add to Goodreads


It was time to play volleyball a few minutes later, and once again, Raylee proved her pitifulness at the game, missing every ball that came her way and messing up every serve. She was glad when the bell rang, anxious to escape her peers.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s just a game,” Katy was saying as they ambled toward chemistry.

“Ha, easy for you to say. You’re good.” Raylee was tugging on her sleeves; the shirt was a size too large, but it was the smallest available.

“I don’t know what I’m worse at, algebra or PE.”

“Algebra. Definitely algebra.”

“Great. Now I feel really stupid.”

“I can help,” a male voice said from behind them.

They both turned around. Billy.

“What?” Raylee asked, feeling her cheeks burn and wishing she could slide into a hidden dimension.

“If you’re struggling with math, I could tutor you after school. I’m pretty good with anything math-related, especially algebra.”

Her mouth dropped open, an attempt to speak. Nothing came out. That dryness in her mouth was filling with unused saliva.

“Thank you, Billy. I’ll have to call my parents, but I should be able to meet you in the library.”


“Thanks a lot!” Raylee said to Katy when he was out of ear shot.

With a giant smile on her face, Katy replied, “You’re welcome.”

Her last class was impossible. She couldn’t concentrate on anything except Billy. She was getting sick of herself, it was ridiculous. This was what it must feel like to be lovesick. She’d always made fun of those romantic movies because the girls swooned over cute guys. She’d vowed to never be like one of those girls. And somehow, she’d become one of them.

Get a grip, Raylee. Get a grip.

The last bell of the day finally rang. Students scurried out to the parking lot. Raylee hurried to the front office to check with her parents about going to the library. Her mom answered and told her to go ahead. Raylee stopped by her locker to grab her math text and a notebook, hesitating for several minutes before she could bring herself to touch the metal door. Her skin crawled, remembering the horrific-looking rubber mask and the live worms forcing their way through it.

Slowly blowing out air, her heart hanging in the balance, she swung open the door really fast and hopped back a foot. All that was inside were her books and folders. No mask. No worms.

Her heart calming down, she snatched her math materials.

The library was located at the back of the school. She had to pass several classrooms to get there. Most of the lights had been turned down since teachers were already heading home.

As she neared the sharp corner that led to the main hallway of the library, a shadow, tall and misshapen, wobbled against the wall in front of her.

She halted.

The shadow stopped.

She took one quiet step back, locking her eyes on the twisted shape. The shadow moved toward her, one small step. Whoever it was was mimicking her.

She didn’t want to be afraid, but the feeling that someone was out to get her was overpowering.

She waited in the hall, hoping for the shadow to move, but it seemed to be waiting on her.

In the movies, the victims always asked, “Who’s there?” She wasn’t about to fall into that trap, which almost always ended up deadly.

Of course, they were in a school, there must be people close by, at least someone studying in the library. Whoever this was would be a fool to try something out in the open like this. That fact didn’t keep her from feeling cautious.

Willing herself to not let fear paralyze her, she took one stiff step forward. The shadow moved backwards this time. She took a second step. The arms of the dark obscure shape wiggled (like a worm) and she heard footsteps echoing down the hall.

Hoping to catch who it was, she pushed herself forward, breaking into a run, but by the time she rounded the corner, there was no one in sight, the door to the library open, a few students quietly studying, their heads down, oblivious to any strange sighting of a shrouded figure playing hide-and-seek.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Author Pic

Krista Wagner has been creating stories since she was seven and is best known for her mystery and suspense novels. Back in the 90’s, she was on her high school literary magazine staff, and she also co-authored a zine, a montage devoted to the creativity of multiple teenagers. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in several literary publications. She wrote her first novel at the age of 14, but it wasn’t until her thirties that she published her first book. Krista reaches into those chasms of darkness, dealing with themes of betrayal and deception and hope, with intriguing characters and intense story lines. All her books are for young adult and up.

“Dealing with danger and handing out hope” Krista Wagner, author of mysteries, thrills, and all that is real

Find out more about Krista here:
Follow her on Facebook:



Mini Tour Schedule

February 22nd

Reads & Reels (Spotlight)

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight)

February 23rd

Breakeven Books (Spotlight)

I’m All About Books (Spotlight)

February 24th

Jessica Belmont (Review)

Books Rambling and Tea (Spotlight)

February 25th

@geauxgetlit (Review)

Tsarina Press (Spotlight)

February 26th

Bonnie Reads and Writes (Review)

B is for Book Review (Spotlight)


Mini Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

Mini Tour: Symmetry (The Eternal Quest Breaker Book 1) by T.M. Caruana @MrsCaruana @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Welcome to the tour for Symmetry, the exciting first installment in T.M. Caruana’s Eternal Quest Breaker Series!

Symmetry Front Eternal QuestSymmetry

Publication Date: April 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Susy finds herself in isolation with no recollection of her past. Her only friend leaves unexpectedly after handing her a mysterious key-like pendant. To use for what?

When trying to escape her captivity, she is snapped up by a man whose grip is too soft to be that of a kidnapper and too firm to be that of a stranger, but when Susy lays her eyes on him her heart is instantly trapped!

This man speaks of an Honorary Knight Order, a map and seven stones with magical powers that open portals.

Susy’s view of the world will never be the same again!

Love and secrets delay their quest and concerns grow that the balance of life will not be re-established in time as the evil of the two magical schemers gets closer to his goal.

A series with the most elaborate quest the world has ever seen, culminating in a final decision that will determine the fate of our existence as we know it…if only the Eternal Quest Breaker can find a way to overcome the two magic schemers’ battle.

Add to Goodreads


Would I dare to breathe? Would I try to crawl out through the door they came from? To stay under the workbench still seemed the safest, but it would reach the point when I must get out. Frankly, I was terrified of what awaited me on the outside world. Father hadn’t yet discovered my escape; I would have felt his disappointment shoot straight through me. Why was I such a coward? Was the fear based on the uncertainty about how long my memory would hold? My memory failed me frequently and there were no patterns that suggested whether it was caused by a problem with the short or long-term memory. It was selective, as if someone viewed me from above and chose which moments would give the most amusing outcome or perhaps it was like a random lottery. I had always remembered father, uncle and Vic, but not the nurses on the ward who must have known me for as long as my family. Some news reports on TV may stay with me for a year, others only hours. Days and dates were worse. It was as if numbers didn’t stick at all. Perhaps it was down to my photographic memory because sometimes I remembered faces, but not the names and sometimes the prick of the needles, but not the time they had been carried out.

From under the desk, I could see the two men adjusting some dials and standing to watch with intense interest through the glass window into the small room.

I heard my father say: “Do you believe me now Ben? Have I managed to prove my theory to you after so many years?”

“Well, it suggests a certain success, I must say,” my uncle replied.

Not understanding what on earth they were talking about, I carried on trying to form an escape plan, until the next comment broke into my thoughts.

“I never thought that it would take four hundred years to see the first glimpses of hope,” muttered uncle, “and many have paid a high price for our greed,” he continued in the same low tone.

“No, don’t start on this issue again, you are a scientist and you understand that sometimes a few have to suffer in order for the majority to prosper,” Father explained with a disconcerting satisfaction, which I had never heard before and made me worry more about my mission.

“What is missing in the formula? Could it be the speed at which Susy’s blood collides? Is the blood not hot enough? Or has it to do with gravity?” he continued, debating more with himself, it seemed, than with uncle Ben.

“Maybe the power stone is a contributing factor, and it has to be near the blood for it to be activated?”

Now it was my uncle’s turn to speak.

“Stupid, don’t you think I understand that! But you know very well that the yellow stone disappeared as we returned to Earth through the blue archangel portal,” Father said, slating off his brother to clarify that his suggestion was of no help.

So, they were still trying to find a cure for my disease, or what was the research they had accomplished? What effect from a stone was it that they wanted? And what did they mean when talking about ‘returning to Earth’?

As I listened, I realised that I now had an opportunity. They had turned their backs to the door leading to the outside, which was automatically slowly closing. Quickly, I made my way out. I wished I didn’t have to crawl on my knees. They felt sore and the floor was cold. The first metres were the hardest, but just a little bit further and the room was left behind. It was nice to get back on my feet. Yikes! A long corridor of stairs led up to a closed door about twenty metres away! Stairs, they were going to make my knees just as sore as the cross-trainer in the gym and I wasn’t in the best shape. I felt the agony in every step and was delighted to reach the top.

The door was locked, but fortunately could be opened from my side. As I closed the door behind me, I noticed a sign that read, ‘Restricted Access’. I turned to view the room I had entered – it was massive, with wires, pipes and tubes, high up in the air that could be reached by a yellow metal staircase. It was clinically clean, with an array of buttons lit in green and red and a dull buzzing sound that could be distinguished from the cries I usually heard in my head. What I saw in front of me was one of the engine rooms to the Large Hadron Collider. That was an easy guess since Vic had told me about this place. What baffled me was the fact that I had thought it was located in another building. I was in a private hospital on CERN’s premises and had expected there to be other wards with other ill patients. Was I the only patient here? Was I even in a ward? Did the rest of the staff here even know I existed? It surely didn’t seem so. Looking at the ‘Restricted Access’ sign, it seemed like I had been a lab rat trapped for research. Okay, my illness might have made me useless, but I thought that Father could have found another use for me than this horrible fate.

This realisation of my status increased my fear to another level and I knew I had to get out quickly and undetected. There was no one around and I looked for an emergency exit sign. Drafts of air stroked my cheek and there…there was a large double glass door with white text printed onto the reverse, ‘Entrance’. It was even better than an emergency exit and should lead me straight out to the front of the building.

Considering the spaghetti sensation I had felt after climbing the stairs, my legs carried me surprisingly well across the floor, without stumbling. The doors opened automatically as I approached them and I walked outside and able to feel, for the first time in my life, fresh air. It felt like…as…I didn’t really know what, but it was wonderful. It was fresh, like when you open the refrigerator, though not with the smell of old food or onions. My lungs had probably never taken a deeper breath and they rejoiced in it. I wished that time would stop at this moment so I could embrace the soft breeze against my cheeks. But there wasn’t time and I had to run far away before my father discovered that I was missing.

Turning away from the glass doors, I noticed the car park. Two white vans were parked in the closest possible spaces right in front of the building, on the other side of the railings with a large opening in the fence towards the road, just about visible in the evening gloom. It could be reached via a walkway along the building to my left.

A high-pitched sound suddenly shattered the silence. It was such a loud noise…it was the siren. Panicking people appeared in the brightly lit area behind the glass doors. My heart began to gallop, as they must have noticed my absence. I had never felt so scared yet excited at the same time. Would I only get this far? Would they catch me and take me back, or would I even return voluntarily? But people didn’t say I was stubborn for no reason. My fear made the path towards the fence seem a lot further now.

My own dampened scream startled me when a figure from behind the corner of the building grabbed me around my stomach with a strong left arm and covered my mouth with a cloth. My feet left the ground, as the man was much taller than I. A stench of burnt leather and blood from his hand began to sting in my nose through the cloth. No chemicals appeared to be involved, only heat pressing on my skin. A horrifying gaze met my eyes when I looked up. We stood silent for seconds that seemed like minutes. His intense eyes looked deep into mine after putting put me back down on the ground. His eyes…they were…they were searching for something in mine. But what were they looking for, recognition…an acknowledgement? He moved his hand slowly from my mouth to his own with a gesture to indicate silence.

“Get in the car,” he hissed between his teeth and nodded towards the car parked behind him, hidden along the side of the building. I felt that I should recognise this person, but I was too afraid to see a connection. He acted as if he had known me all his life, as if he thought I knew him. Was he one of the nurses from the ward? My memory couldn’t have been so cruel. If I had seen this perfect creature before I must have remembered him, or at least remembered the feeling my heart created as the warmth was burning holes in my chest.

I stood paralysed by his appearance. It was stupid of me to stare and he must have noticed my astonishment. He grabbed hold of my hand when he had clearly understood that I was both amazed and confused by a stranger with such hostile body language, yet with a preserved beauty that made the Earth stand still. Again, his grip affirmed that he had taken my hand many times before. The steady grip wasn’t too hard to be a forced grip or too soft to be the shyness of strangers who had just met. His hand was hot, near to scorching. My reflexes took control to retract my hand, which released me from his grip. He looked angrily at me as he went around the car to the driver’s side. “How do you want it? Are you in or out?”

More words came hissing from the perfect white teeth. They came from a mouth that seemed not to have given many smiles, but if they happened, they would melt hearts. How could I trust someone I had just met and why would I want to go with him? No, it seemed strange. The gap in the fence was within reach, so I could probably make it. It was what everything was all about tonight. The man must have seen me looking toward the gap.

“No, you are coming in the car, you have no choice, there’s no way I’m letting you out of my sight now. Choose. Jump in voluntarily or cause a scene that can put both you and me in danger,” he threatened.

The stressed threat sounded softer and more pleading than his first commands even though he meant it to be robust and delivered with a nonchalant authority, as he had pulled his hands through the bushy bronze hair that had covered his eyes. I reflected on my choices. I seemed to have been left with two options: either I followed the stranger, or returned to the ward. The decision was made all the more quickly as the cool evening breeze was biting my skin. The temperature didn’t at all seem to bother the stranger as he wore just a black t-shirt, but it made me act quickly.

The car looked brand new, a black SUV with tinted windows and was not exactly discreet enough for a car chase, which I guessed was what was probably about to take place. Not that I was an expert on cars, but it looked stable and fast. I would have been more scared if the last hour hadn’t had a positive impact on my health. I felt much stronger than usual. It must have been the adrenaline. The silver metal handle was cold against my hand when I opened the door to the passenger’s side.

The moment the car drove around the corner towards the gates I could see Father rushing out from the building’s entrance doors. The troubled eyes along with the stressed body language appeared in slow motion and all I could hear was my name screamed in panic.

“Susy, Susy…Susy, come back!”

But it was more than a panic. There was something else in his voice, something I couldn’t put my finger on. Given that he was seeing his only daughter driven away in a car with a stranger, indicating that he might never see her again, I could have sworn he looked at me like a lost possession. I saw greed. ‘Susy, come back’, his voice echoed in my head as the guilt tore at my conscience. The mystical creature next to me drove the car so fast that it skidded on the gravel path through the gates, before I even had time to react to my father’s cries. There was silence in the car for several minutes whilst I watched buildings fly by outside the car windows. On the left-hand side was a large, round, ball-like building at the end of a long road lined with buildings on both sides; after it we made a right turn at a roundabout.

“Are you alright?” the man asked.

He was obviously trying to show compassion, but it sounded spoken out of duty.

“I have no idea,” my voice barely whispered.

A few hours ago, I had seen Vic’s face peeking into my room at the ward, giving me a smile and now I was in a stranger’s car on my first ever time outside the research institute. To think of it, it was the first time I had been near a male of my own age, except for Vic, who could be either harmless or extremely dangerous. Was this how it felt to sit inches away from another man’s flesh and blood, or was this feeling due to him being the most beautiful creature I had ever beheld? His body was faultless. There wasn’t a male model that could measure up to him, neither in physique nor complexion and that’s considering that the models on TV weren’t even real. Well, of course they were real, but they had lighting that was set up at a favourable angle and stylists who took care of every detail. This man’s appearance was natural. The muscles were clearly visible through his tight t-shirt and there was no makeup on his face that I could detect. His hair…well, it was drenched in hair gel, but still had more than a supernatural perfection. His three-day stubble was sensual and even his arms manoeuvred the car with a confident precision. He projected a calm, secure control with superiority. “Yes, I’m fine,” I replied slightly louder to the same question so as not to seem inferior to him.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked again to make sure that I meant my words, and this time with what seemed to be sincere concern.

He took a new grip of the wheel since the leather had begun to give off smoke from the heat of his hands. It was the first time I spotted the cuts on his right hand. The blood seeped out of three straight wounds. It was fresh and hadn’t coagulated fully. The blood seemed bubbly, as if it had boiled from the inside out. I dared not even ask why he had the wounds and assumed my concern would be in vain because he didn’t seem to be the type who provided any answers.

“You have a small bag of crisps in the glove compartment, you need salt and it’s your favou…” he stopped his sentence without completing it.

He must have realised that I was staring his way and blushed with embarrassment. I reached into the glove compartment, not because I was hungry, but because I felt weak and salt always increased my ability to concentrate. The crisps were cheese and onion flavour – my favourite, which the stranger seemed somehow to know. This situation felt completely surreal.

“Are you going to hurt me?” I asked slowly, immediately regretting my question since I didn’t really want to know the answer.

Either he was going to hurt me and then it was already too late, or he was helping me and then the question was actually another. “Who are you? Where are you taking me? How did you…?” my questions all blurred together.

“Time will tell, Tarus – home – the Chameleon,” he replied.

He seemed irritated and had not appreciated the quizzing. It was as if I had no right to ask. I remained silent, pondering over the answers he had given. They didn’t clarify the situation at all. It didn’t help that I had also forgotten the order in which I had asked the questions. But what I gathered was that his name was either Tarus or the Chameleon. I wished he would explain a bit more. If his agenda was to help me, he could at least have been more talkative.

“My name is Susy.”

I tried some small talk and hoped it would catch on for him to return the same information about himself. To confirm his name, for example, was a good start.

“I know.”

Those were the only words I got in response as he kept his eyes focused on the road. I couldn’t understand why, but he sounded disappointed that I had introduced myself, maybe even angry. But it was also clear that he didn’t want to provide any information. If I wanted to know anything, I would have to drag it out of him. He glanced nervously at the side mirror and back again to the rear-view mirror.

A white van suddenly appeared at full pelt from a turning three streets behind us, complete with flashing orange lights and sirens. We turned abruptly down a side street to the left and then took a turn to the right to proceed in parallel with the main street. We were being followed. It must be my father who had come to save me. Or would he really save me? I would be locked up in the ward again. Even if Father wouldn’t punish me for this defiant adventure, I still didn’t want to spend any more time in the hospital. No, I’d rather die than be taken back to the same bed with the same faded wallpaper and the same pitiful eyes on the nurses’ faces.

I kept a firm grip on the door handle and my left hand clenched onto the edge of the seat as the car swung between the traffic. The road signs that flew past had one common denominator, ‘Airport’.

“Airport! Are you taking me to the airport and out of the country?” my voice stammered in haste at the reluctance toward that thought.

I hadn’t planned every possible outcome for this evening, but even if I had, it would never have involved leaving the country. The idea had at most been to be on the run for a few days and then return to the ward to prove to Father that he could trust me on the outside once in a while. If the escape proved successful, perhaps it could bring some other perks, but leaving the country was petrifying. Could he really take me out of the country? I had no passport and no money!

“You were never good at trusting me, ironic that this time you have no choice.”

The man’s sentence was brief and mysterious. Now I felt really uneasy. Did this mean that I had known this man previously? Who was he? What’s more, he said that I hadn’t trust him in the past, but I had no choice now. Was I kidnapped or rescued? The situation was absurd.

The car sped through the darkness and towards a sign on the roof of a large building that started to become visible from the car, ‘Crowne Plaza’ Hotel. The car didn’t change direction and went straight into the hotel’s private car park. Once there, and a few metres past the entrance, a garage door opened for the car to enter, almost as if it were programmed to do so. The door closed behind us and we were in darkness. The man opened the driver’s door, emitting a dim light and stepped out.

“How silly of me to think that we were going to the airport,” I admitted as I stepped out of the car and slammed the door behind me.

“Not tonight,” he retorted, smiling arrogantly and handed over a passport that he retrieved from the side compartment of the car door.

I flicked open the passport and, sure enough, there were all my details. My blue eyes, though they were actually leaning towards violet, my height, name and Swiss nationality. There was a picture that looked exactly like me, but I had never had the photo taken. A lump formed in my throat. Whoever it was that I had in front of me, he was clever. He knew what he was doing and made no mistakes. I was a puppet in his play who could only wait for the next instruction.

“Shouldn’t I have a fake name since you are kidnapping me?” I questioned, keeping my chin high not to seem scared and to try to gain respect by pointing out his mistake.

A brief release of air left his lungs from what seemed to be amusement.

“Kidnapping, you say?” he asked me, and I could tell he felt hurt by my choice of word.

Why did I get the feeling that his good and bad demons struggled to remain under control, a ticking bomb of emotions that could explode at any second?

“Aye, kidnapping, I say.” I verified with a stern pirate-like voice that I had learned from Vic’s storytelling.

“I would never…you are free to go if you please,” he declared, pointing at the garage door.

I looked at the solid door and realised I would have to bring out my big boots to be able to push it open. As my hand gripped firmly around the metal handle at the bottom of the door, I saw him squat down and he stared at me with his suffering gaze, which made me fall to my knees in surrender. This time he didn’t touch me.

“I can’t let you go yet,” he whispered regretfully and pointed to a door on the other side of the garage before he himself started to make his way there.

The man’s confusing actions didn’t help make my understanding of the situation any clearer.

“A fake name is pointless. Isaac would never report you as kidnapped because you don’t exist,” he finally answered and without further explanation he opened the door from the garage leading to the hotel’s reception.

There were two young women sitting in the rear room, who came rushing towards us with excited smiles and only had eyes for my mysterious kidnapper.

“Good evening, Tarus. What adventure have you been up to this night?” inquired one, holding on to a key in her right hand.

Unusually, the key was a traditional key instead of the plastic card that hotels normally used nowadays. The second girl stood right behind the other where I could only catch a glimpse of her. When she had come over, I had thought she looked like a Goth. I managed to count up to seven piercings around her ears, mouth and nose alone and she was dressed entirely in black. In the next second, the first woman looked at me and I saw her eyes widen and her smile turn to a sour frown. It didn’t suit her soft face at all. It made her look like a spoilt ‘Daddy’s Girl’, used to getting her own way. Her blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, revealing all her pearl jewellery on both ears and around her neck.

I found it hard to concentrate on the girls’ behaviour, even though it amused me somewhat, because I was excited to finally know my kidnapper’s name. Tarus was his name. Furthermore, it was difficult to determine what relationship he had with the blonde as he gave her a charming glare that made her smile from one ear to the other, as he held his hand up over the till for her to drop the key in it. Was I jealous? No. That was a ridiculous thought. I didn’t know him, yet it felt like he was MY kidnapper. It was he and I. When I looked at him, I surely felt overwhelmed with…something. And it wasn’t he who flirted with the receptionist. He couldn’t help his adorable eyes and my gut instinct made me believe that he really was indifferent towards the woman and simply wanted to claim the key.

Without a word he looked at me for confirmation and we went along a corridor to the lift. He ushered me in with a polite hand gesture and pressed the button for the top floor.

“An old flame?” I asked playfully, not knowing if I was talking outside the boundaries of the social code that existed between us, and hoping again that it would lead to some small talk. Besides, I was probably a little bit jealous, even though I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I had by then concluded that this man was actually trying to help me in some twisted way since he had made no attempt to hurt me yet. Also, if I trusted my instincts, I could feel an electric tension between us, indicating that we shared deeper feelings.

“No,” he answered sharply, obviously not wanting any intrusions into his personal life.

He looked at me and waited for my reaction to his response and maybe even assurance that I had believed him. I remained quiet until we saw the lift door open. He held out his hand in a gesture to indicate that I should go first. I stepped out and waited for him to catch up. We walked side by side along the carpeted hallway towards a dark-brown wooden door numbered 607, which he opened with the old key and let me go in ahead of him.

“Welcome to my humble abode.”

I wasn’t sure whether this lighter tone was indicative of a change of mood or not. His mood swings had been unsettling so far.

The room was simple, but full of scattered personal items. I got the impression that he wasn’t expecting company.

“How long have you stayed here?” I asked, to open the conversation with something general.

Surely that question couldn’t be offensive.

“Twenty-five years,” he replied shortly.

“But then you must be…”

I trailed off, more because of my mathematical calculations, than through surprise that the answer was in years and not days.

“Older than you assumed? Believe me, don’t worry your pretty head with that calculation,” he said quietly, as he tossed his key onto the mahogany desk beneath the window.

The hotel room was furnished in much the same way as I had seen hotel rooms furnished on TV. However, as for my expectations for this evening – there was only one bed.

“It is true then, you can’t remember anything that happened prior to twenty-nine years ago?” he griped.

I didn’t respond. His question was outrageous. I didn’t even remember what happened last year let alone what happened twenty-nine years ago and besides, I would only have been a baby, so instead of answering his silly question I replied with a counter-question.

“What is it you want me to remember?”

Unexpectedly, he sat quietly for some seconds. Then, all of a sudden, he stood up. He seemed angry again and stormed into the small bathroom without closing the door. Embarrassed, I tried to look the other way and sat down on the edge of the bed with my back to the door. The normally ever-present noise in my ears had resumed after having been absent since the sirens at the institute. The crisps had maintained my concentration, but my bones had become sore again. I hadn’t taken my evening medication and so I retrieved the bag from the chair. Tarus had dumped it there after having carried it from the car.

“How do you suggest we sleep? If we sleep opposite each other I want my head furthest away from the door!” I demanded, trying to sound tough rather than the hostage that I was.

“You need not worry. There is a full moon tonight, so you won’t be able to sleep anyway. I suggest that you continue to take your anticoagulation medication until we meet up with the other members of the Order, and have a soothing bath,” he ordered back irritably, seemingly impatient that he had to tell me how the world best suited me.

But he was right again, or so I thought anyway. I sometimes had trouble sleeping but hadn’t understood until then that it must have been due to the moon, which the stranger had just pointed out. Keep taking my medication? I had never contemplated stopping, wasn’t it vital for me? Vic was the only one who had the authority to prescribe more of the drugs when they ran out and had given me a month’s supply before he left. I hadn’t previously had any idea what effect the drugs had. How would the anticoagulation help my pain? It sounded rather as if it would have the opposite effect.

Before I decided to acknowledge his advice to take a bath, I heard Tarus starting to run the water in the bathtub. His perfect face, followed by his bare torso, appeared from the bathroom doorway as a supernatural being with no reason for improvement. My eyes tried their best to look down at the floor whilst he wiped his hands on his t-shirt as he approached me.

“The bathroom is yours whenever you want,” he gestured, towards the door.

It was impossible to hesitate and it was no use trying to protest. Inside the bathroom he had folded what must have been one of his t-shirts on the toilet lid.

“You can use my toothbr…” growled his half sentence from the bedroom before he came in with a purple toothbrush and placed it on top of the t-shirt before he disappeared again.

My heart felt sore. Purple was my favourite colour. His next gesture was even stranger: a lit candle gleamed on the edge of the bathtub giving a romantic glow. I had seen another tea-light holder on the desk and ran out to retrieve it. With two candles, I could turn the light off and still see clearly.

“May I borrow your lighter?” I asked politely without having to explain myself when he saw that I was holding the candle in my hand.

“No,” he replied briefly as always.

He approached me with his majestic body, where even a quick peek would clearly catch sight of the eight-pack on his sandy toned skin. He stood close enough for me to smell his cologne, arousing my senses. I closed my eyes to inhale his scent and held my breath, not because I wanted to, but because I wasn’t sure I could control myself otherwise. I felt his hot hand against mine when he took the glass holder for the tea-light and our eyes met. I had forgotten his beautiful emerald eyes. Without breaking his gaze, he wrapped his fingers over the wick and at the same moment a flame arose from nowhere. It wasn’t normal, it wasn’t human. Who was he? This explained his burning body heat. This whole evening had been so unreal, so insane that I couldn’t bring myself to be either scared or impressed. I had a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t abandon. We must have shared a special connection. I had to know the truth.

“Who are you…really? Have you and I…I mean…are we special to each other?” I asked earnestly.

I could feel my eyebrows folded down over my eyes into a V-shape in intense concentration. My eyes tried to penetrate even deeper into his. His answer took far too long. His eyes still locked onto mine as time stood still. Not a movement was made, nor a sound.

“No,” he answered after a while, so low that I almost couldn’t hear him. “I am here out of duty to take you home safely, that’s all.”

The sound was like a broken record on repeat, as if that was his programmed answer. He grabbed his phone from the desktop and before I had time to say a word, he left and slammed the door behind him. His mood swings didn’t distress me anymore, but I felt hurt by his answer. I turned to go back into the bathroom but remained next to the door when I heard Tarus’s voice in the corridor. He was speaking softly with someone on the phone. My hearing had improved considerably though since the morning, and I could hear nearly all of the conversation.

“We are at the safe house. When has the Order been summoned for?” he asked.

From his voice, it seemed he was in a hurry to get rid of me.

“Someone needs to release me because I don’t know how long I can be close to her without burning something to the ground.”

His voice was more protective now. It sounded like he wanted to fulfil his duty without mistakes.

“Something isn’t right. She is weak and has forgotten everything that happened twenty-nine years ago and yet my strength has increased since she came near me. I think she must be wearing one of the power stones.”

His voice was confident and it was apparent he was talking to someone he could trust. His superior must either have great power or a lot of money to control a man like Tarus, a man who didn’t seem to take orders from anyone if it wasn’t important.

“No, I haven’t forgotten my duty, Hunter,” he replied irritably and then there was silence.

I hurried into the bathroom and closed the door in case he came back and realised I had overheard.

The bath was relaxing and eased the soreness in my joints. He had been right again. Was there really a part of me that I had forgotten? Who was I and why couldn’t I remember anything?

After the bath, I dressed in Tarus’s black t-shirt. It was way too big and reached my knees. I brushed my teeth thoroughly and combed my fingers through my hair as I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked tired and I freed my hair from my ears in an effort to appear more attractive. Soon I was going to be on the other side of the door, my body near his. I was surprised by my desire towards this stranger. I wanted nothing more than to feel his hot skin against mine. I must pull myself together – I had already been stupid enough to ask about our relationship and got an embarrassing answer. He had confirmed that we didn’t share a romantic relationship.

As I came out of the bathroom, I found Tarus rummaging through my bag.

“What on earth are you doing?” I spat.

In a rage he showed me Vic’s poem and quickly placed it on the desktop so as not to catch fire. My heart started beating faster as I remembered my dear cousin, but I was still furious that Tarus had taken the liberty of going through my belongings.

“What is this?” he fumed, obviously frustrated that I had discovered him. “You have one of the three parts to the map. It has been missing ever since you were brought to Earth. Have you possessed it all this time without saying anything?” he continued furiously, and he hadn’t finished. “You have a power stone as well, don’t you? I know because I can feel it!”

He was yelling now. My despair at his sudden aggression almost destroyed my confidence and my breathing grew quicker until I almost burst into tears.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, that’s a poem I’ve been giv…”

I had to stop myself. Firstly, I hadn’t really been given the poem, it was stolen from Vic’s desk drawer, and secondly, I felt my tears starting. I was dizzy with misery and had to sit down on the bed. This time, with my back to Tarus, staring at the beige wall. I focused all my strength, but the tears trickled like a river down my cheeks. It had been too much to take in one day and I had to cover my hands over my face to hide my ugly cry. Tarus said nothing more and sat down quietly on the opposite side of the bed. I wished I could hear his thoughts, or have eyes in the back of my head to see if he would come up with further attacks. Instead, I felt that he threw something lightweight behind my back. His footsteps approached, but he passed straight by, exiting the room.

“You shouldn’t sit in the moonlight,” he commented briefly and they were the last words I heard before he was out of sight.

The moonlight had found its way through the window and shone on my skin displaying all colours of the rainbow, as if reflected on a calm lake. Why would it be dangerous for me? It was the only thing about me that was beautiful. I wriggled and turned my hands to see how the colours played over my arms, the indigo more dominant than the others this time. I was angry with Tarus too and didn’t want to take his advice.

Then I remembered that he had thrown something behind me, so I turned around to see what it was. It had been too light to be my bag, but too heavy to be the poem. The sight of what it was made my tears return more than ever. It was Novus, my dear purple teddy bear. It was the best consolation I could imagine. It was my beloved friend with the torn left foot and the same black eyes. I knew it should have made me annoyed that I couldn’t remember who had given it to me, but right now it didn’t matter. How Tarus had got hold of it was a mystery as I had left it on my bed. But like everything else, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to hug it and feel the soft fabric on my cheeks.

As I hugged my old friend, I tried to make sense of my feelings for the erratic mister Tarus. He had a hard façade, however he was still caring for me in a peculiar way. Since I had met him, I had felt much stronger and I could think more clearly now than ever. I held the bear’s stomach tightly whilst I stroked the fabric.

He must have punched a hole through the window to my room in order to retrieve the teddy bear. It could have been the reason that his right hand had bloody scratches, but why? Had he really been looking for something else? I couldn’t bring myself to think about the possibilities. If only I could remember. What had happened all those years ago? What was the reason behind this unexplained rescue?

Available on Amazon!

About the Author


Living in Gibraltar, having earned an MBA and being a member of the ACCA, T. M. Caruana is an author who likes doing too much rather than too little. Apart from consuming too much coffee and chocolates she also enjoys writing complex stories with a vivid imagination, manifesting in new worlds and versatile characters. Having always been a free spirit at heart, her dream had always been to write fantasy novels in which to escape to. Your life is your dream -if you can dream it, you can live it-.

TM CaruanaTwitter | Facebook | InstagramYouTube | Newsletter



Mini Tour Schedule

February 22nd

Purple Shelf Club (Review)

@joanna.zoe (Spotlight)

February 23rd

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight)

Jessica Belmont (Spotlight)

February 24th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight)

@brendajeancombs (Spotlight)

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight)

February 25th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight)

The Faerie Review (Spotlight)

February 26th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight)


Mini Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours


Book Release: Love Him/ Hate Him by Chris Bedell @ChrisBedell @RRBookTours1 @btwnthelinespub #LGBTQ #YABooks #YoungAdult #Books

Today we are celebrating the release of Chris Bedell’s latest novel, Love Him/ Hate Him! Read on for more details!

LHHM digital coverLove Him/ Hate Him

Publication Date: February 16th, 2021

Genre: YA Thriller/ LGBQT

Publisher: Willow River Press

17-year-old Connor doesn’t believe his best friend’s death was an accident. Falling down the stairs was random, and Connor can’t help but wonder if someone might’ve pushed her…

Determined to find out the truth, Connor starts his own investigation. Along the way, he discovers Evelyn’s affair with a married man and thought she was pregnant before she died. Connor thinks he’s found her killer, but an airtight alibi forces him to look in a new direction. Perhaps closer to home.

Complicating the situation more is Connor’s own secret – an unexpected hook up with Evelyn’s twin brother, Liam, at a party the previous spring. Afterward, Liam goes on a homophobic rant and punches Connor, leaving him confused. His confusion deepens when, after Evelyn’s death, Liam apologizes and they start to hook up secretly.

Liam is trapped between his attraction to Connor and his abusive father. Connor struggles with his growing attraction for Liam. Their secret rendezvous are fun, but if Connor is going to have more with Liam, he’ll have to be honest about his feelings and his suspicions on who killed Evelyn. Will either survive the truth coming out?

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

My previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Entropy Magazine, Chicago Literati, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, among others. My debut YA Fantasy novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC was published by NineStar Press in 2018.

My 2019 novels include NA Thriller BURNING BRIDGES (BLKDOG Publishing), YA Paranormal Romance DEATHLY DESIRES (DEEP HEARTS YA), and YA Thriller COUSIN DEAREST (BLKDOG Publishing). My 2020 novels include my YA Thriller I KNOW WHERE THE BODIES ARE BURIED (BLKDOG Publishing), YA Contemporary I’LL SEE YOU AGAIN (Deep Hearts YA),  YA Thriller BETWEEN LOVE AND MURDER (Between The Lines Publishing), YA Sci-fi DYING BEFORE LIVING (Deep Hearts YA), and YA Thriller LOVE HIM/HATE HIM (Between The Lines Publishing). I also graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2016.



Book Release Blitz Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

Audiobook Tour: Queen to Ashes by Mallory McCartney @MalMcCartney @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Exciting news folks!!! Queen to Ashes by Mallory McCartney is now available as an audiobook! 

Read on for more details and a chance to win either your choice of a hardcover edition of Queen to Ashes, or an advanced reader’s copy of Kingdom of Iron (Black Dawn #3)!


Queen to Ashes (Black Dawn #2)

Publication Date: April 21st, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

“You lived your entire life feeling like half of you was missing. Fight for the missing part. Fight for this.”

Emory Fae has abandoned everything she thought she knew about her previous life on Earth. Stepping up to her role as Queen of Kiero she makes a startling sacrifice- feigning her allegiances to Adair Stratton, the man who murdered her parents and casted Kiero into ruin. Emory’s memories slowly piece together, and she soon realizes the Mad King may not be all he seems— and the man who was once best friend, may be fighting beneath the surface.

With the King’s attention on her, can she buy Black Dawn Rebellion enough time to recuperate their forces? And when the times comes, will she be able to kill Adair, ending his tyranny and rising herself as the rightful Queen? Fighting to hide her secret, Emory navigates the brutal trials of the Mad King, trying not to lose herself in the process.

Sequel to Heir of Lies, now a bestselling series, the sparks are ignited, as Emory learns the cost of freedom, and her heritage. Will the rebels unite in time? A sinister force has spread across the land, stripping everyone bare- their betrayals, their secrets, their intentions. But above all, what will their decisions cost? By refusing to give in to the darkness, will Emory rise as Queen?

Add to Goodreads


All she could hear was buzzing. Tight, unrelenting buzzing. The world dipped, and she was a ghost amongst the living.

Her mind screamed that she was going into shock as the color drained from her skin, as her limbs trembled harder. Her body betrayed her for the briefest of seconds as Adair looked at her hungrily, his dark gaze ravaging her.

 The room seemed to tilt, and her mind felt thick and constricted. The bloodied sword was still in her hand, and Brokk’s body splayed out lifelessly between them: Life and Death. Love and Loss. Light and Dark. This is the divide her life had taken, and one that she was completely and utterly lost in. Suffocated in.

What had she done?

What. Had. She. Done?

Before Emory could take another look, to convince herself that it wasn’t him—it couldn’t have been—a strong hand gripped her arm and Adair said something she didn’t register. Then, she was ushered out with the promise of tomorrow on his gaunt lips, and the burly guard led her away from the king.

The door shut, sealing away the gory scene.

Breath lodging in her throat, Emory tried to adjust to the world around her. It was numbing, her senses overloaded, the bustle of Adair’s world seeming too sharp and loud as they moved through it. Her pulse roared, and beneath the grime and blood she held on, trying not to give in to the panic tearing through her

Available on Audible 

Other Editions:  Amazon | B&N | Indigo  

For your chance to win your choice of either a hardcover edition of Queen to Ashes, or an advanced reader’s copy of Kingdom of Iron (Black Dawn #3), click the linl to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

updated headshot

Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

Book Tour: Takakush by Raine Reiter @rainereiter @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Takakush

We are so thrilled to share this wonderfully dark fantasy with you all today. It’s called Takakush by Raine Reiter!

Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win an amazing giveaway – A copy of the book AND a bunch of swag!


Takakush: Genus Magic #1

Publication Date: January 25th, 2021

Genre: Mature YA/ NA/ Urban (Dark) Fantasy

When Professor Elena Lukas returns to her cozy Pacific Northwest hometown with a broken heart, she’s plunged back into the fate she tried to escape. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Elena must now dedicate her life to a powerful ancient Lithuanian goddess. Although she is prepared to live as a priestess hiding in a contemporary tourist town, she arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest.

With the help of a handsome detective from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Elena uses her expertise in invasive and endangered species to identify that these are no normal animal attacks. The woods are stalked by a dark, mystical creature bent on ravaging the area in an attempt to quell its insatiable hunger. When her little sister goes missing, Elena realizes that the beast can only be vanquished if she is brave enough to face it in-person, embrace her identity as a high priestess, and expose her powers to the man she is growing feelings for.

Raine Reiter weaves together an empowered, female-centered narrative with rich descriptions of nature and an ever-present sense of mystery. Her vivid, flowing prose takes readers of dark fantasy into a world that looks and feels real, while still evoking the enticing paranormal creativity shared by authors such as Richelle Mead and Kat Richardson.

Add to Goodreads


Crunch, rustle, crunch. Gabby turned toward the noise. “Come on, boy. Here, kitty.”

A statue stood silhouetted against a backdrop of trees. Clouds gathered in the night sky, the moonlight faded, and stars disappeared. Goosebumps rose on her arms. “Trouble?” Gabby got to her feet and stepped forward for a better look.

It took her a moment to recognize the sound; air rasping in and out. Something very close breathed.

Then the statue moved. Gabby froze.

That’s not made of stone. It’s someone. Adrenaline hit her bloodstream with an electric jolt. Her heart sped. Gabby squeaked, short and high as a rodent in a trap. She turned and sprinted toward the house.

Purchase Here!

About the Author


Raine cavorts in the wilds of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with her dog, Luke, and writes Northwest Gothic. Her first novel Takakush will be published on Amazon in January 2021. This is the first book in the Genus Magica Series.

Twanoh Press | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Takakush, and whole bunch of swag (tee, magnet, notebook, and sticker), click the link below to enter! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Tour Schedule

February 15th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight)

The Cozy Pages (Spotlight)

Rambling Mads (Spotlight)

The Invisible Moth (Review)

February 16th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight)

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight)

I Love Books and Stuff (Spotlight)

The Faerie Review (Spotlight)

I Smell Sheep (Review)

Jessica Belmont (Review)

February 17th

@brendajeancombs (Spotlight)

@_ebl_inc_ (Review)

@hoardingbooks.herdingcats (Review)

Phantom of the Library (Review)

February 18th

@joanna.zoe (Review)

Bookish Laura (Review)

@dreaminginpaged (Review)

February 19th

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight)

I’m All About Books (Spotlight)

Sophril Reads (Spotlight)

Book Dragons Not Worms (Review)

@jypsylynn (Review)


Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

Book Release Blitz: Six Strings by C. Billie Brunson @CBillieBrunson @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #SixStrings

Today we’re celebrating the upcoming release of C. Billie Brunson’s genre-bending novel, Six Strings – Available on February 16th!

SStrings Digital coverSix Strings

Expected Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Genre: New Adult/ Magical Realism

Publisher: Liminal Books

Carl Percival (Percy) VanNess inherits a guitar from his father. He’s intent on learning to play and wants to use it as a roadway to fame and riches. But this guitar is not as benign as it appears. In fact, the music produced when it is played incites anyone within earshot to murder whomever is in sight.

Troubles escalate when Carl lets his buddy Peyton borrow the Gibson. Next, Mat, Peyton’s older brother, gets caught up in the same diabolical intrigues surrounding the instrument.

Only Stacey, Carl’s enduring sweetheart, is aware and seems immune to the Gibson’s evil persuasion. Is this due to some latent magic she holds within, dumb luck, or something else entirely?

Can she, with the help of her loyal Lab, Diva, convince her friends to let go of something they cherish before it tears their friendship apart? Might two Djinn token seekers who are after the guitar to fulfill their own agenda put the brakes on her efforts?


“Carl, this is dope. You got some sick strings right here. I’m serious, bro.” Peyton said, picking up the guitar to admire it up close and test its weight.

“Well, duh. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying?” Carl replied, feeling almost giddy with pride.

“I heard. Didn’t get it, though.” Peyton improvised a few notes. “But I do now.”

“You can’t help but to.” Watching his peer strum a few more chords caused a possessive anxiety to rise within Carl and he ran his hand through his hair. It wasn’t long before he felt impelled to intervene. “Enough, newbie. Hand it over. Let the pro show you how it’s done.”

“Hold on, bro. I’m rippin’ some sweet sounds.”

Carl took a deep breath in an attempt to ease the tension that resulted from seeing his precious Charlene perform so sweetly for another. “You’re not too bad. H-how’d you learn to play?”

“My big brother had a guitar for a while. We used to take turns foolin’ around with it. Then, he lost it over a stupid bet,” Peyton said, pausing for only the few seconds it took to say the words.

“Aw, tough luck, Man.”


“Right. Fine. Now hand her over. It’s my turn.”

Peyton played on as if he didn’t hear. With eyes closed, he reveled in the sumptuous notes coming from the guitar. Shoulders dancing, his head bobbed in time with the rhythm.

Indignant over being ignored and at the way Peyton’s fingers seemed to grope his precious girl, Carl raised his voice in a near growl. “I’m warning you, Peyton. Better not try me. For the last time, hand her over.”

“Just hold on, bro. I’m ‘bout to throw it dowwnn!”

Unwilling to bear or listen to what that meant, Carl turned, scanning his room for a more assertive means of getting his demand across. A sturdy desk used for homework and other projects offered a mess of school work paraphernalia, among this lay an opened box of pre-sharpened writing pencils.

Without sparing a thought about his next move, Carl stepped over to the desk and pulled a pencil from the package. Holding the pencil like a crazed butcher, he pivoted while lifting the pointed end high. His eyes zeroed in on Peyton’s jugular.

Peyton kept playing, his eyes closed in blissful ignorance of imminent and fatal assault.

Carl drew the uncommon weapon in his hand back and up high as he could, making no sound or alarming movement.

In the next second, the door swung wide and Stacey burst in, coming close to hitting Carl with the door. Startling from his violent mission he dropped the pencil. He deftly shoved it somewhere out of sight with his foot.

“Okay. Where’s this guitar you–Oh, right here. Wow! Carl, you weren’t kidding. This is sooo nice.’”

Peyton jarred from his plucking revelry. “Yeah, uh, ain’t it though? And it sounds amazin’.” Turning to Carl he begged, “Dude, you gotta let me borrow it for a few days.”

“Nope, I don’t gotta. And I won’t.” Carl said reaching and grasping the neck in one hand. “You can let go of it now.”

Instead of conceding, Peyton tightened his grip on the instrument and replied. “What’s the big deal? I promise I’ll bring it back.”

“You don’t need to promise ’cause I’m not lending it.”

“How ’bout if I pay you? A buck a day.”

“No thanks.”

“Two, then.”

“No way, man. She’s not for hire.”

“Oh, so it’s like that, then.”

“Yep. Take it or leave it.”

“I thought you was my bro. But, I guess yer nothing but anotha punk.”

Instead of responding, Carl simply jerked the Gibson free of Peyton’s grasp.

Peyton protested. “Heeey! What the hell? What’s yer problem, fool? Somebody need to show you what it means to share?”

“Yeah? And I guess you think you’re the guy for it.”

“Maybe I am.”

“Bring it, then.” Carl quickly set the guitar aside and turned back to Peyton. He clinched his hands into two stumps of rage and raised them up to punching level. “We’ll see who can teach who.”

They faced-off and moved in a tight, threatening circle.

Stacey rolled her eyes as she broke between them. “Before the two of you throw any punches, I think you should know I’m not impressed.”

Carl and Peyton both let down their guards at the statement. Each looked at Stacey with questioning expressions.

Stacey explained. “I mean if you want to impress a girl with your beat-down skills, at least let the fight be over the girl. Am I right?”

Carl scoffed. But he did move away from Peyton. He picked up the Gibson, slung the strap over a shoulder so she could hang comfortably at his front and sat down on his bed.

Peyton stood grumbling and staring at his feet a few seconds before plunking down onto the small chair beside the desk.

Stacey parked herself on the bed next to Carl. “There. This is good. Way better than getting all to’e up over a guitar. A pretty awesome one, for sure. But it’s still only wood, strings and a few metal knobs—that’s all.”

Carl rushed to correct her viewpoint. “Carlotte’s not just any ol’ guitar. She’s way better.”

Stacey scoffed. “Charlene?”

“Yes, Charlene,” Carl said. “What’s funny ‘bout that?”

“Yeah, Stacey lots of guys who play guitars name ‘em. Mat named his Maxine,” Peyton said.

“And Mat is?” “Who’s Mat?” Stacey and Carl both asked at the same time.

“My brother.” Peyton cleared his throat and made a show of not looking at Carl. “Who knows how to share things.”

Stacey cut off Carl’s low growl. “Whatever, Peyton.” She looked at Carl. “But what makes you say this guitar—I refuse to call it any name—‘better’ than any other one?” She held up a hand. “Wait. I know. Your plan is to use it as a babe magnet, huh? I know how you boys think,” she said, narrowing her eyes in a reproving glare.

“It might be a tired ol’ plan but…Sure. Why not?” Carl teased, giving Stacey a mischievous nudge. “Besides, it gave you enough reason came by today, didn’t it?”

Crossing his arms, Peyton said, “Yeah. Well, havin’ a guitar to catch a girl’s attention is one thing. It’s another to really know how to play? That’s what the honeys go for.”

Stacey said, “I hate to be a…uh, ‘honey.’ But, Carl, can you play something for me? Please?”

Foregoing a verbal response, Carl stood and faced her, purposefully presenting his backside to Peyton.

After making a show of loosening his arms, his shoulders and flexing his fingers, Carl launched into the captivating tune he’d mastered that morning in the garage.

Within seconds, the ambience of the room shifted as he progressed through the melody. Though the light coming through the lone window in the wall behind him did not dim, a cold, sinister presence invaded the air.

Stacey hugged her body and rubbed her hands over her arms against the chill as she tried to listen to Carl’s playing. Movement at the edge of sight caused her to look across at Peyton. She watched with a perplexed frown as he pulled out a drawer to retrieve a pair of heavy-duty scissors meant for cutting poster board or thin plastic sheets. Her frown deepened as she surmise the sleepless, nightmarish parody developing before her eyes.

Peyton pushed up from the chair and took a step in Carl’s direction, holding the scissors ready for effective spiking.

At last determining what she saw was legit instead of crazed illusion, Stacey flung her arms out in alarm. She gesticulated a frantic warning and yelled, “Stop! What do you think you’re doing?” But the frigid, melodious aura swallowed her voice.

Carl, intent on performing as he was, misinterpreted her actions as encouragement. He played with more vigor.

Stacey reached the point of leaping from the bed to tackle Peyton when bone-cracking thumps sounded against the window.

Carl stopped playing the song mid-refrain.

Peyton jolted and stepped back as though hit by some invisible stun gun. His attention went to the scissors he held in his hand. For a brief moment, he stood staring down at the now deadly-weapon-turned-crafting-tool and then twisted around to lay it on the desk. He turned back, wiping the palm of his hand on his clothes as though to clean away something vile.

Stacey sat on the edge of the bed huffing and puffing in relief when their gazes locked and she sensed the passing of his moment of murderous insanity.

Oblivious because he’d turned his attention towards searching out the source of the thumping noise, Carl said, “Oh, my dreamcatcher fell.” Then he stepped over to retrieve it from the floor and hang it back on the nail in the wall.

“Uh-huh.” Stacey said. “But…no. It couldn’t have made such a loud sound by landing on the floor.”

“What are you talking about?” Carl asked.

Stacey said, “I think the noise came from the….” Her words trailed off when she noticed the window.

She gasped at the splatter of blood already drying on the sun-drenched pane.

Grab yourself a copy from Amazon on February 16th!

About the Author


Billie Brunson enjoys writing novels that don’t necessarily fit in any genre “box.” Six Strings, is her second published book, the first of which is Heart of Malice (2015) and she has a number of other manuscripts in the pipelines.

Born in Chicago, IL, C Billie Brunson lived for several years in Indiana and, later, Iowa before moving to Arizona in the 1990s where she has settled in Scottsdale. She’s the mother of two and loves all animals, especially cats.

If you want to connect, you’ll catch her on Twitter more so than any other social media platform.

Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Goodreads | WattPad


Book Blitz Organized By: 

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours