Book Tour & Giveaway: Her Dark Reflection by Hailey Jade – Genre: Dark Fairytale/ Dark Fantasy/ Retelling @midnighttidepub @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #HerDarkReflection #DarkFantasy

Welcome to the book tour for this gorgeous dark fairy tale retelling by Hailey Jade called Her Dark Reflection! Read on for more info and a chance to win a great giveaway!

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Her Dark Reflection (The Dark Reflection #1)

Publication Date: June 15, 2022

Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Dark Romance/ Fairytale Retelling

Midnight Tide Publishing

“They called me the Whore Queen. Some even called me the Evil Queen.
But they could call me whatever they wanted. I was still queen.”

Rhiandra Tiercelin hungers for power and her charm has always been her sharpest weapon in hunting it. So when a brutal attack leaves her physically scarred, desperation drives her to make a deal with Draven, a magic-wielding stranger who is inexplicably compelling and definitely dangerous. She knows she can’t trust him, but he when he offers to make her a queen, the temptation is too enticing to resist.

Armed with a glamoured face and an enchanted apple, Rhiandra is determined to scheme her way into a crown, even if it means risking the deadly punishment for unsanctioned magic use. But Draven is playing a bigger game, and she is just one piece on the board.

Can she keep her wits about her long enough to uncover his secrets, or will he lure her down a path she will come to regret?

Her Dark Reflection is the first book in a new dark romantic fantasy series perfect for fans of Raven Kennedy, Jennifer Armentrout and Sarah A. Parker. If you like cunning, ambitious heroines, morally ambiguous men and romance that toes the line between love and hate, then you’ll love Hailey Jade’s dark reimagining of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

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Chapter One

The Winking Nymph was always flooded with patrons after the Burnings.

The atmosphere wasn’t the same as it would be on a busy night at a regular tavern; the dim lighting fed rather than banished the shadows, encouraging them closer, leaving pockets of space where patrons could lurk without being recognized. Men – and the occasional woman – drank, sometimes in groups, but for the most part they didn’t engage themselves with singing bawdy songs or telling dirty jokes. Perhaps the place was debauched enough on its own and so they didn’t feel the need.

Women drifted in and out of the shadows, flirting with the light as it caught on their spangled wrists and ankles and throats, and at the front of the room a beautiful redheaded girl sang with a voice as sweet as sun-warmed strawberries. It was going to be a big tipping night; the city was beginning to bulge with visitors attending the treaty celebrations, and the moon cycle holiday had beckoned them all to the streets, thrilled by the morning’s violence and drunk on bloodlust.

I was eager to get out on the floor, but Madam had saddled me with initiation duties, so I was instead lingering in a corner by the bar, doing breathing exercises with the novice.

Aalin’s perfume was thick, a ghastly confection of jasmine, violets and something sugary that made my head ache. I could pick a new girl a mile away – they wore thick makeup obscuring their faces, chains and sparkles everywhere one could hang a jewel, and gowns in gaudy colors that revealed more than they concealed. They thought they were channeling desirability, but in reality, all the decoration was just a screen to hide their nerves behind.

I was long past those sorts of naïve assumptions. I’d worked at the Winking Nymph long enough to know that calculated vulnerability earns more than donning the generic armor of maisera. Aalin wasn’t ready to hear that, though. That night she just needed to feel like she belonged, and all that perfume was a part of the uniform.

‘They’re just men,’ I soothed as she chewed on her lip and smoothed her dress over and over again. ‘And they’re mostly drunk men. They want to be pleased. And they’ll be excited to see a new girl.’ I tucked a lock of wiry hair back into her updo.

‘I don’t think I know how to be sexy,’ she admitted in a small voice. ‘I thought I did, but now that I’m standing here…’

Continue reading…

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Hailey Jade has tried to quit writing, but alas, the characters who live in her head will not stop yammering. She’s hoping that building them ink-and-paper homes will make them pipe down long enough for her to get some sleep. She likes creating fantasy worlds populated by complicated, morally-grey characters who try to resist their attraction to other complicated, morally-grey characters, but who inevitably fall in love, because everyone needs a Happily Ever After.

Hailey has completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Teaching at Flinders University, and spends her daylight hours trying to convince reluctant teenagers to love books. She lives in regional South Australia with her partner, bouncy baby boy, and feline overlord.

Hailey Jade | Amazon | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter

 

 

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Book Tour Schedule

June 27th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@hodophile_z (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hodophile_z/

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

@rissreviews_xx https://www.instagram.com/rissreviews_xx/

@fariha_binte_islam (Review) https://www.instagram.com/fariha_binte_islam/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

@mysticforestcrafts (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mysticforestcrafts/

Timeless Romance Blog (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

June 28th

Cheryl’s Book Nook (Review) https://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/

@beastreader – https://www.instagram.com/beastreader/

@devoured_pages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/devoured_pages/

Lecari’s Live Journal (Review) http://www.lecari.co.uk

@happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

@itsabookthing2021 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021/

@withbooksandcoffee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/withbooksandcoffee/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

@the.robin.joyce (Review) https://www.instagram.com/the.robin.joyce/

June 29th

@amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author

@nicasbooksta (Review) https://www.instagram.com/nicasbooksta/

@wraithreads (Review)  https://www.instagram.com/wraithreads/

@over.on.my.bookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/over.on.my.bookshelf/?hl=en

@booktreasuresau (Review) https://www.instagram.com/booktreasuresau/

@jennlynnadams (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jennlynnadams/

Ecce. Libri! (Review) https://eccelibri702630676.wordpress.com/

@ecce.libri https://www.instagram.com/ecce.libri/

@what.kerry.reads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/what.kerry.reads/

June 30th

@libraryofash (Review) https://www.instagram.com/libraryofash/

@better_0ff_read (Review) https://www.instagram.com/better_0ff_read/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@biblio.jojo (Review) https://www.instagram.com/biblio.jojo/

@mygreypages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mygreypages/

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Review) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

@bhaneereads_ (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bhaneereads_/

Freelance Writer, Janny C (Spotlight) https://freelancewriterjannyc.com/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

July 1st

@efatuatedreadings (Review) https://www.instagram.com/efatuatedreadings/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

@NerdyFoxReads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/nerdyfoxreads/

@junk.journal.librarian (Review) https://www.instagram.com/junk.journal.librarian/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

 

Book Tour Organized By: 

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R&R Book Tours

Book Tour Sign Up: The Brother’s Curse by Christine M. Germain (Aug 22 – 26) Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Romance/ Horror @CJReau @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #HorrorCommunity #Shifters #POCAuthors

How dark do you like your fantasy romance? Bordering on horror?

I have been waiting for ages to announce this book tour (late summer and fall is going to be epic people)! This tour is to celebrate the release of the third book in The Brother’s Curse Saga by Christine M. Germain BUT of course we need to start at the beginning with The Brother’s Curse!

The tour will run from August 22nd to the 26th and though reviews are a priority there will be room for book spotlights as well. There will be at least 10 physical copies for US reviewers and digital editions for everyone! 

Giveaway Details: $20 Amazon Gift Card & Paperback Copy of The Stone the Curse of Mastema (The Brother’s Curse #2)

Sign up below!

Christine Germain ebook

The Brother’s Curse (The Brother’s Curse Saga #1)

Publication Date: May 2021

Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance/ Horror/ Shifters

A year after the brutal death of her parents, Crystal Francois moves back home to the eerie small town of Lakeview Falls. When one of her neighbors goes away abruptly leaving his home to be watched by a young man named Jason Warwick, Crystal finds herself falling for him instantly because of his charming ways and dashing good looks.

Two weeks before her 25th birthday, she receives a rare antique purple amethyst stone necklace that is left for her by her late mother; A necklace with a deadly past and horrible consequences when being worn. She finds out that wearing the necklace causes her and her friends to be the target for two sadistic tyrannical evil 18th-century old Shapeshifter brothers who will not stop till they find her and retrieve the chariot stone necklace that holds their father and 24 demonic Shapeshifters captive.

When young men from town go missing, and bodies showing up eaten or skinned alive. Lakeview Falls is on high alert. It doesn’t take long for Crystal to discover that the new guy in town isn’t who he claims to be or if he is even human.

Amazon

About the Author

Author

Christine M. Germain is an Award-Winning American author of Horror Thriller & Paranormal Romance fiction. Born March 8, 1981, in Brooklyn, New York, she found her passion for writing in 1993 and wrote her first horror story at twelve. Watching horror movies and reading young adult horror fiction novels influenced her love for writing a story with a protagonist that looked like her. African American women weren’t portrayed as solid leads in horror films or books. Instead of waiting to see if that would happen, she created a story that she would love to read and watch on the big screen that catered to more diverse characters. 

Admiring authors such as Stephen King and R.L. Stein, Christine pursued her writing journey majoring in literature, and graduated with a performing arts degree. Known for an imagination unlike any other, Christine is ready to take you to a thrilling shapeshifter world with Five book series, “The Brother’s Curse Saga.” 

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Note: If you are requesting a physical copy (US only), please put your address in the message box below!

 

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Book Tour Sign Up: Cardinals by Ian Conners (Aug 15 – 19) Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi Horror/ Fantasy @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Horror

Vampire Lovers!

I’m organizing a book tour for Cardinals by Ian Conners and I am looking for people to host! The tour will run from August 15th to the 19th and though reviews take priority, there will be room for spotlights. Physical copies are available for reviewers in the US and we have digital for everyone. The giveaway will be one of two inscribed editions – winner gets to choose inscription.

Sign up below!

Note: Physical copies are for reviewers who intend to share a book review during the tour. 

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Cardinals

Publication Date: May 2nd, 2022

Genre: Horror/ Vampires/ Sci-Fi Horror/ Fantasy

Publisher: Black Raptor Books

Nine Hundred years before Christ, God has cast his wife, Asherah, out of heaven and condemned her to roam the earth as the first vampire. Over the centuries, she created other vampires. There are also those that she left for dead but survived her attack without being completely turned into vampires. These survivors are called Cardinals. Scottish Countess Kellena Donnachaidh and Lady Suzette Allard, our protagonists, are among these cardinals. They are searching out Asherah for a final conflict.

Asherah has discovered a way back to heaven so she can exact her vengeance. Using the Amulet of Cassiel she can call the Flaming chariot of Israel to return to heaven and exact her revenge on God.

Now, 3000 years later, the Vatican and other groups are working to destroy Asherah and the vampires., fearing their own destruction if she ascends, simply want to stop Asherah using the Amulet of Cassiel to re-enter heaven. The race and intrigue to recover the Amulet is full of intrigue, betrayal.

A completely new twist on Stoker’s tale.

About the Author

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Ian Conner is retired and spent most of his adult life as a Marine and Army Infantry Sergeant. Now living near San Diego California with his wife Bonnie, a cellist, and their two dogs, Cookie and Isabella. Conner spends his days fostering kittens, gardening, crafting beautiful stained glass and creating worlds on the page.

Conner has authored several other novels:

Cooper’s Ridge  –  Science Fiction

The Long Game – Political Thriller

The Price of Partisanship – Political Thriller

Solaris  – Political Thriller

Griffins Perch – Epic Fantasy

Ghost Witch  –  Horror

After a lifetime of destruction the thought of creating something tangible and lasting holds great appeal.  He finds writing a cathartic way to redefine himself both in his eyes and the eyes of others.

Conner can be reached at Ian@BlackRaptorBooks.com

*Please indicate if you wish to receive a physical review copy and provide your address in the message box (US only)

 

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Book Tour Sign Up: The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong by Aprille Clarke (Aug 8 – 12) Genre: Paranormal/ Magical Realism @Aprille_Author @RRBookTours1 #Books

Hey Bookworms!

I’m organizing a book tour for a new novel called The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong by Aprille Clarke. The tour will run from August 8th to the 12th and there will be physical copies for reviewers in the US and digital editions for everyone. Promotional spots are also welcome. 

Sign up below!

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The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong

Publication Date: May 19th, 2022

Genre: Magical Realism/ Paranormal

Publisher: Moonfire Publishing

The Case of Elena and All that Went Wrong focuses on a cast of recurring main characters and their peripheral acquaintances. The characters come from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and ages, but what they have in common is that they all must navigate the world while facing bizarre challenges. At its core, this book is about human relationships within a framework of magical realism that provides humor and opportunities for insight. How does a working-class lesbian reconcile the weird appeal of a shrinking man who wants her to swallow him? Should a middle-class white guy believe that the scrappy, probably-a-grifter man who has been dehydrated and crammed behind the tray table on an airplane really just needs some money to get home to his son? What does a black man do when his young, white, female piano student starts bleeding on his keys? In the vein of the classic Simpsons episode “22 Short Films about Springfield,” as well as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her, the overlapping characters and plotlines in this book inform one another and interweave to create a satisfying experience for the reader.

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About the Author

aprille-author-profile

After completing her MFA, Aprille Clarke spent about a decade working in higher education instructional technology. Her areas of focus included learning management system administration, consulting and training university faculty on effective uses of technology in teaching, and pedagogically sound uses of technology-enhanced classrooms. She left that work in order to focus on childrearing and creative pursuits. Currently, she is employed as a simulated patient for medical students, which involves faking sick for money. She lives with her spouse and three children. The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong is her first book. For more information, please visit https://www.aprilleclarke.com/

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*Please indicate in the message box if you require a physical copy (US only) and provide mailing address.

 

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Book Tour Sign Up: Come True: A Bomb-Ass Genie Romance by Brindi Quinn (July 25 – 29) Genre: NA/ Paranormal Romance/ RomCom @midnighttidepub @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Hey Guys!

I have a fun one for you! I’m organizing a book tour for Come True: A Bomb-Ass Genie Romance by Brindi Quinn and I am looking for hosts! The tour will run from July 25th to the 29th and we have print copies for US reviewers and digital copies for everyone! Giveaway details TBA

Sign up below!

*Please provide your mailing address in the message box if you are requesting print!

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Come True: A Bomb-Ass Genie Romance

Publication Date: April 27th, 2022

Genre: New Adult/ Paranormal Romance/ Comedy

Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing

★A jaded girl. A persistent genie. A contest of souls.★

Recent college graduate Dolly Jones has spent the last year stubbornly trying to atone for a mistake that cost her everything. She doesn’t go out, she doesn’t make new friends and she sure as hell doesn’t treat herself to things she hasn’t earned, but when her most recent thrift store purchase proves home to a hot, magical genie determined to draw out her darkest desires in exchange for a taste of her soul, Dolly’s restraint, and patience, will be put to the test.

Newbie genie Velis Reilhander will do anything to beat his older half-brothers in a soul-collecting contest that will determine the next heir to their family estate, even if it means coaxing desire out of the least palatable human he’s ever contracted. As a djinn from a ‘polluted’ bloodline, Velis knows what it’s like to work twice as hard as everyone else, and he won’t let anyone—not even Dolly f*cking Jones—stand in the way of his birthright. He just needs to figure out her heart’s greatest desire before his asshole brothers can get to her first.

COME TRUE: A BOMB-ASS GENIE ROMANCE is the romantic, fantastic second-coming-of-age story of two flawed twenty-somethings from different realms battling their inner demons, and each other, one wish at a time.

About the Author

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Brindi Quinn is a fangirling fantasy author from Minnesota specializing in world-building and romance. She is an advocate of quirky love and firmly believes that banter makes the heart grow fonder. Her main ingredients for a great read are spice, sparkle, and SWOON.

Since 2011, Brindi has written over a dozen young adult and new adult novels beginning with her debut epic fantasy series, Heart of Farellah. Her works often blur the lines between paranormal romance, science fiction, and fantasy, and her series have been hailed as unique, addictive reads by reviewers. 

Brindi is an IT Project Manager by day and has a bachelor’s in communication-based studies from Southern New Hampshire University. She lives in suburban Minnesota where she likes to bike, indulge in video game lore, and spend time with her life partner, Kent, the world’s cutest pup, Burton, and the fluffle of cantankerous rabbits that hop around her house.

Brindi is published through Never & Ever Publishing and Midnight Tide Publishing.

Brindi Quinn | Instagram | Facebook | TikTok | Goodreads

 

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Book Release: Insidious Scars by Natalie J. Reddy (May 17th) Genre: YA/ Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books #FantasyBooks

Happy publication day to author Natalie J. Reddy! Just look at this beauty! Read on for more info about Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotton #5)!

Psst! There’s also a giveaway!

eBook -Insidious Scars

Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotten Series Book 5)

Publication Date: May 17th, 2022 🎉

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

This is what she’s been training for…

Jyoti has felt like an outcast all her life. Living among Psi with extraordinary power can be isolating and dangerous when you have no power of your own. But in weakness there is strength, a strength Jyoti’s mother has been training her to use to her advantage. When rumors of war begin circulating, Jyoti is offered an opportunity to help protect her people. However, it would mean giving up what she loves most. But when she finds out about a weapon that could cause the destruction of all mankind, she begins to question everything, even her own heart.

What do you do when protecting the greater good means you’ll lose everything you love?

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Excerpt

10 years Earlier

My breath burst from me as I ran up the path and through the trees. Tears blurred my vision, and I tried to blink them away before I fell again. My knees already stung from tripping over a tree branch behind me. I ducked under a low hanging pine tree, not stopping as the needles caught in my hair, yanking strands loose from my braid.

“Come on, Jyoti,” Harmony’s voice called from behind me. “Don’t be like that. We were just kidding around.” 

Sure, they were kidding around and as usual, I was the butt of their jokes. I bit my lip and forced my legs to keep moving until I could see the break in the trees ahead. Just a little further and I would be back at the estate. I needed to get back before they caught up with me, or before they did more than laugh at me and push me around. 

A pathetic scream burst from my lungs as an invisible force threw me forward. I hit the ground face first at the edge of the treeline. Pain shot up my nose and into my forehead as I tried to scramble up, but the heel of a boot pressed down on the middle of my back, forcing me back down in the dirt. My already scraped face rubbed against the rough earth, as soil and the scent of my blood wafted up my nose. 

“Going somewhere?” Harmony’s singsong voice asked from above me. She was the only girl I’d ever met who could sound nice while being so mean. 

“Please,” I tried. Tears streamed down my cheeks and mingled with the blood running from my nose.

“Please!” A girl named Bella mocked me. “She’s pathetic.” 

“Hmmm,” Harmony hummed in agreement. She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder, her grey eyes narrowing as they met mine. 

“It’s hard to believe someone as cool as Darshan could have such a lame sister.” One of the other girls leaned down, grabbing my braid in her fist. “He’d be able to have more fun with the rest of us if he didn’t have to always babysit you.” My scalp burned as she yanked my head back by my hair. 

My twin brother Darshan was handsome like my father, and all the girls had crushes on him. It’s why they only picked on me when he wasn’t around. Unlike my brother, I was small and still had my baby fat. Not to mention I was pathetically weak. All the other Psi children had been developing powers since they were three. But me? My powers had never come. At first my parents had just thought I was a late bloomer, but the older I got, the more I could feel it. I wasn’t a late bloomer. I was defective. 

“Stop it,” I cried, but my tears and the fact that I was on the ground make my words sound weak and pathetic. As weak and pathetic as I was. I had been such a fool to think that Harmony’s invitation had been out of kindness. I thought that maybe just this once she had actually wanted to include me—to maybe even be friends. But it was all a cruel joke. “Please, just leave me alone.”

“What if we don’t want to?” Harmony leaned down and the girl pulling my hair yanked harder.

“Mummy,” the word escaped my lips in a whimper. They laughed and my face burned in shame. I don’t know why I’d cried for my mum. My dad was more likely to protect or comfort me than she was.

“Are you seriously crying for your mommy?” Bella giggled. “What a baby.”

“If you don’t leave her alone, you’ll be the ones crying for their mommies,” a voice I didn’t recognize said. 

The girl holding my hair let go, but Harmony kept her foot on my back. “Who said that?”

“I’m right here,” the voice said. It was a girl, but I couldn’t tell much else from my spot on the ground.

“Show yourself,” Harmony demanded. 

“Why?” the voice asked.

“It’s cowardly to hide.”

“No more cowardly than picking on someone who isn’t as strong as you,” the voice was suddenly behind Harmony. 

She jerked away from the sound and removed her foot from my back. “We were just playing a game.” Harmony retreated closer to her friends. 

“Well, I love games,” the voice said as I rolled over. “Should we play one now?”

I searched the empty space for an outline of the mystery girl, but I couldn’t see her. She was cloaking herself, and she was very good at it.

Bella gripped Harmony’s sleeve, but Harmony shook her off and sniffed. “I don’t feel like playing anymore. I’m tired of games.”

“And I’m tired of stupid girls who pick on people for fun,” the voice snapped. 

Harmony gasped as someone grabbed her by the front of her blue cashmere sweater and yanked her away from her friends. The other girl’s eyes widened, but they didn’t do or say anything to help her. “Cowards,” Harmony hissed at them, the singsong way she’s spoken while torturing me moments before was gone. With a mild dose of smug satisfaction, I realized she looked scared. I swiped tears from my cheeks with the back of my hand. Good.

“You’re as big of a coward as they are.” The invisible girl shook her. “If I see you bother this girl—no—if I see your face again, I’ll make sure you bleed just like you made her bleed.”

“You can’t say that to me. I live here!”

“Then you better find a place to hide until we leave,” the girl let go of Harmony’s shirt. 

“You can’t—” there was a crack and Harmony’s hand flew to her cheek as deep red blossomed where an invisible hand had slapped her.

“Try me,” the voice growled before shoving the other girl. Hard. Harmony stumbled and fell on her backside. That seemed to be enough to snap her friends out of their scared stupor. They rushed forward to help her, but Harmony shoved their hands away and got up herself. Her eyes met mine, and they narrowed. You’ll pay for this, Jyoti. She hissed into my mind before turning and running off, her friends trailing behind her. 

“Are you okay?” 

I realized the question was directed at me and I looked over to where a girl who looked to be able my age now stood. She was skinny, all elbows and knees, with wild hair and a million freckles. 

I blinked. “What?”

“I asked if you’re okay. You’re bleeding.” She motioned to my nose.

She was right. Blood was pouring from my nose. It dripped down my chin and was soaking into the collar of my shirt. “I’m okay.” I pressed the sleeve of my sweater to my nose and winced. 

“Here,” the girl reached a hand down to me. “I’m Alessia.” She carefully helped me to my feet.

“Alessia?” 

I knew her name. She was the girl my father had said he was going to get from an orphanage. She was going to stay with us. I hadn’t known what to expect, but someone who might be on my side wasn’t it. 

“Are you Jyoti?” Alessia asked. 

I nodded and winced again. Something was very wrong with my nose. Even the slightest movement was making it throb.

Alessia’s brow crunched. “It looks like it’s broken. I broke my nose a couple of years ago. It hurt like hell, but once I got it healed, it was good as new.” She wrapped an arm around my shoulders and led me towards the path that led to the sprawling country estate we were visiting.

We were just walking up the long gravel path through the garden, towards the back door of the house, when I spotted my mother. She stood in the doorway, her hands on her hips, and began shaking her head the moment she saw us coming. 

“What were you thinking?” She asked as we approached her.

I licked my nips nervously, the iron of my blood coating my tongue. “I’m sorry, Mum. I just wanted—”

“Wanted to what?” She asked. “To fit in?” I ducked my head, but she reached out and gripped my chin. It wasn’t a tender touch, but at least she was gentle as she tipped my head back and took in my face. “You’ll never be like them, Jyoti,” her voice was hard as she spoke. “You may as well do yourself a favor and stop trying.”

From the corner of my eye, I saw Alessia’s mouth drop. She stepped forward. “She didn’t do anything wrong. Those girls were the ones hurting her.”

“Of course they were,” my mum snapped. “Thank you for finding her, but I think you should go back inside now.”

Alessia glanced at me, opening her mouth like she might argue, and something in my chest swelled with gratitude. But I shook my head and tried to smile behind the blood and swelling in my face. “Thank you for helping me, but I’m fine now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course she’s sure.” My mum sighed. “Please leave us.”

Alessia’s hands clenched into fists at her sides, but she nodded and didn’t argue as she turned and ran back inside. 

“Oh, Jyoti.” My mum clicked her tongue in distaste as she gripped my arm and pulled me aside to a bench further away from the house. “Sit. I’ll heal you here, so we don’t drip blood on the Councilman’s floors.” 

I sat, feeling the hard iron against my thighs as my legs swung over the edge of the bench. Even at twelve, my legs were too short to touch the ground. She pressed a hand to my nose, and I felt the familiar burn of her power. My nose cracked, and I cried out, fresh tears springing to my eyes as she set it back in place. A few moments later, the pain eased, and the bleeding stopped. My mum didn’t speak as she moved onto my knees and began healing the scrapes on them. She plucked a piece of gravel from one of the deeper cuts and tossed it aside with disgust. 

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. 

“Sorry?” she scoffed. “You’re sorry?”

I nodded. 

“Why, Jyoti? Why are you sorry?”

“For going with them—for letting them hurt me.” Tears streamed down my cheeks. “For being so useless and weak and an embarrassment to the family.”

My mum’s head snapped up. “Is that what you think you are? An embarrassment?”

I lifted my shoulder in a shrug.

She sighed and leaned back against the bench. “You’re right, Jyoti. You are weak,” she said, her eyes on the surrounding hedges.

I bit the inside of my cheek, trying to push back the sting of her words. 

“But,” she turned and looked at me. “You have never been an embarrassment and you’re only as useless as you choose to be. The question is, do you want to be useless?” 

I shook my head. “No, I want to be useful. But I also want to be strong. Not weak.”

My mum smiled, cupping both sides of my face. “Let them think you’re weak, Jyoti. Let them underestimate you. In the end, you’ll shatter them all.”

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About the Author

Author

Natalie J. Reddy is a Canadian Author who spends her days trying to escape reality by making up stories about the characters in her head.

Natalie realized at an early age that she had a passion for storytelling and that passion followed her into adulthood. There is nothing she loves more than to be pulled into a fictional world whether it’s in her own writing or the writing of others. Natalie is the author of the Scar of Days Forgotten series, a New Adult Urban Fantasy series with characters who have supernatural abilities and dark and sometimes unknown pasts to overcome.

When she’s not writing, Natalie can be found having all sorts of real-life adventures with her husband and daughter or curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

To keep up to date on upcoming books, subscribe to Natalie’s newsletter at nataliejreddy.com

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