Saturday, March 12, 2016

Aria's Dream Cover Reveal & Giveaway!


Aria’s Dream
Anna Adams
(The Aria Series, #2)
Publication date: April 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult


Aria is on top of the world. Her father finally supports her dream of becoming an opera singer, her friendship with Maxime is off to a great start, and she’s reconnecting with her estranged mother before the start of her second year at the National Academy of Arts in France.

But all that’s overshadowed when she realizes her voice’s limitations could prevent her from becoming a famous singer.

Torn between her wish for fame and her desire to stay true to herself, Aria will have to choose what singing really means to her and what she’s willing to sacrifice in order to succeed.


Pre-order today:
Aria’s Journey (book 1) is available for FREE for a limited time on:
iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Author Bio:
Born in France, raised partly in the United States and in France, I grew up loving stories in French and English. I currently live in Paris where I pursue my studies as a Law Student.
I'm the author of the French Girl series. When I'm not writing, I enjoy traveling in Europe and dream of going to Asia and Africa.
I love to hear from readers at
annaadams333@gmail.com.
You can also find more information about my books on my website http://www.annaadamsauthor.com/
and join my newsletter for exclusive news about my books.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

The Changelings blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!


The Changelings
Elle Casey
(War of the Fae #1)
Publication date: February 5th 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR, ELLE CASEY, brings readers Book 1 in the YA Urban Fantasy WAR OF THE FAE Series. 
Jayne Sparks, a potty-mouthed, rebellious seventeen-year-old and her best friend, shy and bookish Tony Green, have a pretty typical high school existence, until several seemingly unrelated incidents converge, causing a cascade of events that change their lives forever. Jayne and Tony, together with a group of runaway teens, are hijacked and sent into a forest, where nothing and no one are as they seem. Who will emerge triumphant? And what will they be when they do? 
Content Warning: Mild violence and significant foul language within. Meant for older Young Adult readers (age 15+).


Grab your copy today for FREE!

EXCERPT:

I couldn’t take much more of the high school nonsense. I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. Where would I be if I weren’t there? … I don’t know. All I did know was I was in the middle of all that crap, going to class, taking tests – but I was on autopilot, going through the motions, waiting for life to start happening.
Sitting in World History and bored out of my mind, I was looking at a girl one row over who was the polar opposite of me. She was staring attentively at the teacher, her pen poised above an already nearly full page of notes, eager to write down every nugget of educational wisdom he was throwing our way. She loved high school, and she had big plans for moving on to college next year. She had cheer practice after school and a boyfriend named Mike who played wide receiver on the football team. Ugh.
I owned a pen. I probably had some paper somewhere in my backpack too. That day, however, I was using my pen to draw symbols all over my right hand – temporary tattoos. I write and eat with my left hand but do just about everything else with my right. My own body was confused with what it was supposed to do.
I was in the minority in that school. It seemed like just about everyone else knew exactly what they were doing now and what they were going to be doing until the day they died. Me? I didn’t have a clue. All I knew was this wasn’t it.

Author Bio:
Elle Casey, a former attorney and teacher, is a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling American author who lives in Southern France with her husband, three kids, and a number of furry friends. She has written books in several genres and publishes an average of one full-length novel per month.



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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Traveller Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Traveller
Abigail Drake

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Date of Publication: February 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5092-0569-1 Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5092-0570-7 Digital
ASIN: B01APJZR12

Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 80,000

Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor

Book Description:

Former Junior Miss Kentucky Emerson Shaw won pageants using martial arts as her talent and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” as her guide, but a painful secret leads her to the University of York, and puts her in the path of tattooed and pierced bad boy, Michael Nightingale.

Michael is a Traveller, part of an ancient line of mercenary gypsies who protect the world from vicious monsters called the Moktar. When Emerson gets attacked, she has no choice but accept Michael’s offer of protection or face certain death.

Traveller society, full of outdated rules and ridiculous superstitions, isn’t a good fit for the headstrong Emerson. Traveller women aren’t allowed to fight. Traveller women aren’t allowed to win. Traveller women aren’t allowed to leave. But Emerson will do what she must, even if it means losing the one person who matters most.




Excerpt

“Who are you and what do you want from me?”
I took a deep breath. It probably wouldn’t be a good start to tell him he occupied my every waking thought and most of my dreams, too. I decided to go with a more conventional approach.
“You’re here every morning, and I thought I’d say hello.” I stuck out my hand. “Emerson Jane Shaw.”
He surprised me by reaching for my extended hand and holding it firmly. His hand, large, warm and rough, had cuts and bruises all over the knuckles. He had faint bruises on his face, too, and some small wounds still in the process of healing. He’d been in some kind of fight recently.
It didn’t surprise me. He had the look of a warrior about him, the lean strength and watchful eyes of a predator, and he was lethal. Sun Tzu would have seen it, too. He would have recruited him without a moment’s hesitation.
“Michael Nightingale.” He stared at me with those hypnotic eyes as he continued to hold my hand, using it to pull me nearer to him.
“I know. Mrs. Burke told me.” I couldn’t focus on what I was saying while he touched me, not that I’d done such a great job up until now with my witty repartee.            
He tilted his head to one side, studying me the way a lion studies a gazelle before he eats it. His face was only inches away from mine.
 “Do you like to flirt with danger, Emerson Jane Shaw?”
“Not usually, but today I can make an exception.”
The touch of his hand sent an electric current through my body that made my heart speed up and my brain slow down. He was intoxicating. I almost had to fan myself.
Abruptly, Michael let go of me and stood up, shoving his books into his backpack. I stood up, too.
“What’s wrong?”
Michael glared at me, threw some bills on the table and stomped out of the shop. Like an idiot, I grabbed my backpack and followed him.
He walked quickly through The Shambles, dodging pedestrians and umbrellas with ease. I wasn’t quite as lucky. The rain poured down, filling the street with puddles. Michael wore combat boots and jeans. I had on a useless pair of flats and no jacket. It only took seconds for me to be soaked to the skin and miserable. In minutes, I looked like a little blonde drowned rat.
I’m pretty fast, even in slippery shoes, and I was motivated. I kept him in my sights until he reached a side street at the end of The Shambles that led down a narrow lane. I was only half a block away when he turned and looked at me, his eyes locking with mine, and disappeared.
He hadn’t walked away. He hadn’t moved. He’d been there one second, and gone the next. Running as fast as I could, I reached the spot where I’d last seen him and looked down the lane and on either side of the street. My ribbon flew out of my hair, blowing away in the wind as I slid on the wet cobblestones and nearly fell. I skidded to a halt, realizing I hadn’t been fast enough. It was a dead end, and he was gone.



About the Author:


Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.






Tour giveaway

Sign up for Abigail’s newsletter and be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.


Dodging Trains Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway!


Dodging Trains
Sunniva Dee
Publication date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance


I was twelve when a stranger at a train station taught me the meaning of ugly. He forced himself on me and threatened to kill my family if I told.

I stayed silent and the ugliness grew.

Now, that word rolls in film clips through my mind. All I’ve done since my best friend, Keyon Arias, left town is cement how ugly I am. Ugly on the inside—deep down to my core. On the outside… I am a Vixen. I flash men a smile and make them moan out pleasure I control.

Not them. Never them.

After five years of being away, my beautiful boy has come back to town for his father’s masquerade ball. He’s different. Hard muscle supersedes the skin and bone of his once boyish frame. One thing hasn’t changed though: the murderous look in his eyes when he slaughters his opponents. In the ring, I see the bullied boy, all grown up, dominating in ways he couldn’t in high school.

He’s the mayor’s son. The rising MMA fighter. The beautiful one.

I’m not the Paislee Cain of before, not the sweet girl he once knew, the one who chased away his bullies. I’m the town slut. The dirty girl whose shame will never fade no matter how many men I use. He’d disown what I’ve become.

Because beautiful can never love ugly.

Dodging Trains Full


EXCERPT:

PAISLEE
The most vibrant moments of my life flicker through my brain like film clips. If I concentrate long enough, they suck in sound until they become so real they mix in the scents from my memories too. Already, I realize today will morph into a clip that’ll join the rest of them—the short version of today, what I’m watching right now.
In this moment, he doesn’t star in a snippet at the back of my brain. He’s almost tangible, himself in ways I haven’t seen him in years.
Heat glistened off him when he strutted into the cage, arms high in preempted victory and with a cocky smile on his mouth. But now, minutes into the match, he’s not smiling anymore, no, because Keyon is fighting hard.
He always did that. Fought hard, I mean. And I wasn’t afraid for him back when I knew him either. Who can be afraid for someone who looks murderous?
I don’t mind his back toward the camera while he delivers the last decisive blow to his opponent; I enjoy the sight of skin and muscles under glaring spotlights and sweat that flies off hair and lashes when he turns.
The local TV station replays Keyon’s knockout in slow motion, while I consider what’s most real; replays like these on a TV screen versus what’s in my brain—those special clips from years ago. I let the thought go and ponder instead how Keyon and what’s-his-name survive the punishment they give each other.
I’ve kept close track of Keyon in the news. This is the first televised event he’s been a part of, so until now I’ve found him on the Internet and in our flimsy newspaper, the Rigita Gazette.
From the first glimpse of his face on TV, I saw the same impatience as before. Wildfire still burns in his eyes, and dedication radiates off him like red-hot quicksilver. In my imagination, Keyon is rattling the starting gates, dying to be freed into a world where he can rule, destroy, feast on his power without inhibitions.

DT Burned as a witch DT you did it teaser

Author Bio:
Between studies, teaching, and advising, Sunniva has spent her entire adult life in a college environment. Most of her novels are new adult romance geared toward smart, passionate readers with a love for eclectic language and engaging their brain as well as their heart while reading.
Born in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the author spent her early twenties making the world her playground. Southern Europe: Spain, Italy, Greece--Argentina: Buenos Aires, in particular. The United States finally kept her interest, and after half a decade in Los Angeles, she now lounges in the beautiful city of Savannah.
Sometimes, Sunniva writes with a paranormal twist (Shattering Halos, Stargazer, and Cat Love). At other times, it's contemporary (Pandora Wild Child, Leon's Way, Adrenaline Crush, Walking Heartbreak, and Dodging Trains, coming in late March 2016).
This author is the happiest when her characters let their emotions run off with them, shaping her stories in ways she never foresaw. She loves bad-boys and good-boys run amok, and like in real life, her goal is to keep the reader on her toes until the end of each story.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hell Hath No Fury Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hell Hath No Fury
Queen of Hell Series
Book 1
Samantha Gregory

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: J Ellington Ashton Press

Date of Publication: 07/02/2016

ISBN: 978-1523896547
ASIN: B01BK5CT3E

Number of pages: 165
Word Count: 43,000

Cover Artist:  David McGlumphy

Book Description:

All Jesse and his friends wanted to do was have a good time and hook up with some girls. Instead the three of them end up dead. Unfortunately their problems don't end there as they are caught between two warring succubus sisters who battle it out to see which one will be crowned Queen of Hell.

Contains Adult Content


Excerpt

Halloween Night

I know she’s up to something. I’ve been watching her for the last few days and there is something going on. For a start, she’s going to the Halloween party tonight. That’s not her thing at all. My darling sister would never lower herself to attend an event like that. She never joins in on anything, and she certainly wouldn’t be caught dead at a sorority house. Our parents think it is a great idea though. They were so enthusiastic that I can’t help but wonder if they are in on whatever scheme she has hatched now. Why do they always side with her? But of course she’s the perfect daughter, the star; the one who will make them proud. I’m the outcast; the disappointment from the first moment I dared question their grand plan.
She’s always gotten everything she ever wanted. Well not tonight, whatever she’s planning, I will stop her. Whatever it takes.

Chapter One
Jesse

“What is wrong with this picture?” I ask, sipping from a blue beer cup. It’s warm, but I need it.
“I know. I thought there would be a lot more girls here. This is a sorority, for God’s sake,” Trace says.
“What about that one?” Dale asks. He gulps back his beer and belches loudly.
The girl he is pointing at is dressed as a naughty nurse, leaving little to the imagination.
“No, what’s wrong is, we’re at one of the biggest parties of the year, in the hottest sorority on campus, and the three of us are standing in the corner like a bunch of losers.”
“Where should we be standing?” Trace asks. He fiddles with the lanyard around his neck. He’s dressed as a computer tech; not too much of a stretch, since computers are his life.
“I’d like to be standing in her bedroom,” Dale says, still leering at the nurse. She catches him staring and flips him off. That doesn’t put Dale off. He is nothing if not persistent. Not that it ever gets him anywhere. His outfit consists of a Hawaiian shirt with Bermuda shorts, and a Lei around his neck. The problem is, it isn’t that different from what he usually wears to class. He never did have much of an imagination.
I’m not too sure of my own outfit. I put it together myself, since I’m saving all my money to get my car fixed. I’m dressed as a knight. I made armor from aluminum foil and a fake sword to match, which hangs in a scabbard at my waist. I guess it is kind of lame.
“No girl is going to come up to us while we’re together,” I say.
“Are you trying to get rid of us, dude?” Dale asks.
I sigh in frustration. Why is it always up to me to take the lead?
It’s been the same way our whole lives. Trace is too scared and Dale doesn’t give a crap. It’s not like I’m a ladies man myself, but I have to try.
“I don’t want college to end up like high school. Do you? I thought we made a deal when we came here? That we would stop being dorks, that we were going to reinvent ourselves.”
They both shake their heads. High school was an endless cycle of loser-dom. Getting beat up every day, never being invited to any of the good parties, and girls not exactly tripping over themselves to date us. The only time I was ever alone with a girl was when I was tutoring them in bio.
“Well I’m done being that guy. We all are.”
“We are?” Trace asks.
“Yes! Come on, let’s make a pact. Tonight is going to change our lives, one way or another.”
“Yeah! We get laid or die trying,” Dale says. “Let’s do this. I call dibs on the nurse.”
He lurches in her direction.
“Meet by the dorm in the morning, tell us how it went,” Trace calls after him.
I knock back another beer and head for the kitchen, leaving
Trace alone.




About the Author:
Samantha Gregory grew up in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. She has been writing since she was a child. She writes primarily in the horror/fantasy genre.

Daemon Persuasion is the first book in the Daemon series, published by Mockingbird Lane Press. The sequel Daemon Madness is due for release soon.

After is the first book in the After zombie series from J. Ellington Ashton Press.

The sequel Before will be released this year.  Her new novel Queen of Hell will be released Feb 2016.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys watching horror movies, reading and archery. She also posts reviews on her blog for other writers.








Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Destroy Me Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!


Destroy Me
Shana Vanterpool
(Crystal Gulf, #1)
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: March 8th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance


DESTROY ME is book one in the New Adult romance Crystal Gulf Series.

Bach lives his life with honesty and without restraints, happy to be known as a sexy as all hell, unapologetic asshole.

When he drinks, he drinks hard.

When he wants a woman, he makes sure she knows it.

When he opens his mouth, it’s either to piss someone off or to turn someone on.

You can normally find him with one hand on a bottle and one hand on a woman, trying to forget his past.

Harley Evans is ta wenty-one-year-old year old college student. She’s a good girl who fell hard for Dylan, who’d promised her forever. But Dylan, Bach’s best buddy, lied.

He enlisted in the Army, crushing Harley with equal parts anger and sadness. She’d already lost her father to that choice. Heartbroken, she falls back into depression.

Stuck in Crystal Gulf all summer with little to do, Harley needs a distraction. Enter Bach, sexy as f*#ck distraction, ready and willing.

Dylan’s not all bad though. Before he left, he asked Bach to watch out for Harley, knowing she’d never go for a guy like Bach. She’s too good for him. Too good for anyone.

But Dylan was wrong. He never should have left them together. Bach is there to pick up the pieces Dylan left behind. Soon pieces aren’t enough. He wants more, needs more Harley.

DESTROY ME is dark, sexy, heartbreaking, and intoxicating.


EXCERPT:

“I do.” Her smile is sad and hopeful. “Ever since I watched one of the social workers at school help this kid that was getting bullied. The look on his face knowing there was someone out there fighting for him always stuck with me. I want to help people. Imagine being that one person, that one ray of hope that gives someone the strength to keep going. Think of all of those kids who don’t have the support I was lucky to have growing up? I can’t give it to them, but I can show them how to give it to themselves. I know it sounds altruistic. I just always felt like it was important. Is that silly?”
I once woke up in the middle of a hurricane. My arm was in a sling that Dylan’s grandma made out of old shoestrings and my face hurt like hell. Dad kicked my ass for dislocating my shoulder jumping out of Mr. Greer’s almond tree. The weather outside was making me shake. It was scary. No one cared that I was scared but Dylan, but Dylan couldn’t come out to play because he was in trouble for jumping with me. The old creaky house shook and the windows rattled. I just wanted it to stop. I crawled under the table in the kitchen, kneeling on top of old cigarette butts and beer stains and I prayed for it to stop. Over and over again, whispering it until my lips chapped. And just like that it did. I opened my eyes and looked out of the kitchen window. The sun was peeking through the clouds. The clouds were still gray, but I could see it. The most beautiful colors shone down. Orange, pink, yellow, and gold; it was shining right on my house. I got up and pressed my little face to the dirty window in awe. I knew right then and there that I would probably never see anything that beautiful ever again.
Until Harley.
I don’t deserve to sit across from her. To share a bottle of wine with her. To see her smile nervously after saying something like that to me.
“It isn’t silly,” I promise her, my voice gruff. “It’s, you’re, it’s … Do it. I really hope you do it. I wish I had someone like you around when I was kid.”
She has no idea how much I want her good right now. She smiles as if we’re talking about grocery shopping. Not like she just took my favorite memory and shattered it.
“What did you want to be?” she wonders just as the waiter sets down two brightly colored salads.
“Did you want to order?” he asks.
“I want the spaghetti with marinara and chicken parmesan,” Harley says, licking her lips excitedly.
I want to eat off her plate. When it’s my turn I fumble with my menu. Since when do I fumble? “The clams. I’ll take the clams.”
“Excellent choice,” he congratulates before he leaves. I get the feeling he isn’t talking about the food, in which case I agree.
I watch her slice the tomato with her fork, pair it with a bite of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, and then dunk it into her balsamic dressing. “Mmm,” she moans, closing her eyes in bliss. “This is so good.”
Why did Dylan leave her with me? Me!
“Did you hear me? What did you want to be when you were a kid?”
Safe. “Thor.”
She cracks up. “That’s either really cute, or really indicative.”
“Indicative of what?” I take a bite. I want to taste what she tastes.
She points her fork at me and waves it around. “All of this.”
“Oh. You mean all of this sexy panty ripping fantastic-ness?” I smile crookedly. We both know we both think that.


Author Bio:
When I walk into a book store I feel at home. When I smell the pages of a brand new book things make sense. When I read I am who I always wanted to be. I read to escape and I write so others can as well. My family, my actress dog Bella, coffee, and a steamy love story are a few of my most precious things. My Sweet Demise is my debut new-adult contemporary romance novel. Keep up to date with future releases by following on Twitter: @shanavauthor

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Snatched Cover Reveal


Snatched
Candy J. Starr
(Snatched, #1)
Publication date: March 22nd 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance


I need to stop this wedding. My mother snuck behind my back to marry a gold-digger but he’ll not get his dirty hands on our company. Only, I arrived too late and now have to cool my heels. I never let emotions interfere with my life but I’m so pent up that, when I noticed that hooker working the room, I figure a play session will relieve my stress.

Her innocence is just an act – and we both know what the game is here. Don’t we?

A stranger, a hotel room, no word and no names. Who better to have a wild fling with? I’d been numb to the world for so long with nothing but a mountain of crushing debts. Then my father offered me a wad of cash to attend his glitzy wedding. I don’t do casual flings but, just this once, I want to be wanton and crazy. It’s not like I’ll ever see him again.
Author Bio:
Candy J. Starr used to be a band manager until she realised that the band she managed was so lacking in charisma that they actually sucked the charisma out of any room they played. "Screw you," she said, leaving them to wallow in obscurity - totally forgetting that they owed her big bucks for video equipment hire.
Candy has filmed and interviewed some big names in the rock business, and a lot of small ones. She's seen the dirty little secrets that go on in the back rooms of band venues. She's seen the ugly side of rock and the very pretty one.
But, of course, everything she writes is fiction.
Want to know about new releases and secret fan only offers? Join her mailing list - http://bit.ly/160V44m

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Infinity Tour & Excerpt!

Infinity
Xandrian Circle Series
Book One
Allaina Daniels

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance

Date of Publication: Aug 2015

ISBN: 9781516804696
ASIN: B012UF5K2A

Number of pages: 370 print
Word Count: 97k

Cover Artist: Isaiah Bowling

Book Description:

Professional animal trainer, Carmen Rockwell, is happy living her life on the edge of society. She owns a high profile business that is run by her best friend, Lissy, the only person she thinks she needs in her life. Because of an unusual gift, she is the best in the country at what she does.

She goes away for work and finds herself suddenly drawn into a new world- one that she never knew existed and against her will, it follows her home, demanding that she enter into the life she was destined to live.

An important date is approaching fast, but will she turn away from this new world and hide or will she face her fate head on? One man could make all the difference- but does he love her or is she only a means to an end?



Excerpt

Chapter 1

North Georgia 2005

Gabriel Vorrian was miserable. His business was steady, but boring. His surroundings were just a little better than spartan, and his quality of life was less than stellar; but he supposed it was his own fault. He had given up on ever finding true peace and happiness. When someone had been around as long as he had, day-to-day life just became one, long stretch of monotony. He was nearing his nineteenth decade; and although his body was just as healthy and strong as the day he turned twenty-nine—exposing his timeless, Xandrian heritage—his mind was worn out.
He looked around his modestly-sized home and grimaced. He could live in a much nicer place, but why bother? The small, two-room cabin was livable and suited his needs, providing him with the basic necessities, even if they weren’t exactly comfortable. Not aging in a typical fashion dictated a move every ten years or so, but this place was his solution to that. There were no neighbors, and only the most intrepid visitor would attempt to trek the steep, two-mile hike of the driveway—if one could call it that. It was more of a narrow trail with massive overgrowth which barely accommodated one compact car. There was a dangerous, rickety bridge that went over a furious river about three-quarters of the way up. Once there, if the solitude didn’t turn someone away, the interior would perhaps convince all but the most well-meaning to leave.
There were no family photos, no pieces of artwork, and no signs of a person with a life - just wood and the most basic of amenities. He moved in eleven years ago and had never taken the time to unpack. The place was a realm of utter chaos and disorganization. There were clothes everywhere and stacks upon stacks of papers. Sighing, he bent over one stack and began sorting it into piles at a languid pace. He stopped when one particular piece caught his attention.
It was a postcard with peaceful waters on one side and a note on the other. His hand shook as he read the familiar script:

Even the faithless deserve the peace that all people crave and would die for. You still have time; continue your search.

He set it down in the to-be-thrown-out pile, sighing and rubbing his face with both hands. With a sudden spurt of anger, he sent the whole thing flying across the room with one, tormented swipe of a large, long-fingered hand. Didn’t they realize that he had lost hope a long time ago? The grim reality of his situation rooted him to the spot, until he caught sight of himself in the mirror which hung over his desk. Underneath the dark, uncut hair and rugged beard, he was still young and strong. Though his outward appearance pronounced his youthfulness, he could feel the bending of time in his mind. He didn’t have much time left, and he had lost all faith that he would ever find his saving grace.
Amber eyes stared back at him with indifference. Resigned, he moved around to the large, leather chair and sent off the email he was working on. The mundane details of his human existence kept him moving forward when nothing else did. Minutes later he stood up from his desk, stretched to his full height, towering over the room. He then shifted into his favorite form—a gray wolf—and shed his clothes.
            Gabriel’s mind eased as he shook out his thick coat and stretched out his lupine body. When he shifted, he was calmer. The anxious energy he kept contained while in human form, dwindled away, and contentment took its place. He needed to run and burn off some of the built-up energy he had stored; but, he had to wait for the cover of darkness, so as not to be shot by a hunter.
The unexpected, familiar scent of his brother, Elijah, infused his senses. He could hear thundering noises in the kitchen—as if being made by an elephant, not a six-foot-four-inch, two-hundred-pound man. Without a sound, Gabriel padded across the plush, chocolate-brown carpet and through the maze of unpacked boxes. He followed the sounds and crouched down in the shadows, lurking, waiting for his brother to realize he had been noticed.
Gabriel looked on as Elijah froze in place and scanned the room with his eyes—obviously sensing that he was being watched. He made a slow pivot and saw Gabriel.
Elijah placed his hand over his chest and blew out a dramatic breath of relief. “One day, brother, you are going to sneak up on the wrong person and get your fluffy ass beat.”
Gabriel let out a low, warning growl, baring his fangs.
“I was just here to deliver some damn groceries. Quit acting so territorial,” Eli snapped. He placed the half-gallon of milk into the mostly-empty refrigerator and threw the plastic shopping bags into the overflowing trash can. He leaned against the sink and watched them fall to the floor, annoyance stamped on his face. “If you keep up the attitude, you grouchy son-of-a-bitch, I’m going to muzzle you. You need to get out of this house. Go drink a few beers or chase some piece of ass around. Quit being a whiny bitch. Quit wallowing in self-pity and live a little.”
Gabriel lunged for his brother, looking for a fight; but, Eli teleported away before he could get close enough to tear a chunk out of him.

***

Gulf Coast Florida 2008

It had been a long, exhausting day. Carmen was a well-known, animal trainer on the east coast—one who just happened to have a special ability that made her better at her job than anyone else in her field. She could speak with animals, feel their emotions, and with just a little bit of mental conversation, she could completely rewire bad habits in one session. Her clients knew she was worth the money. They just didn’t need to know the exact why. She was with the last client of the day and was beyond ready to go home.
The German Shepherd stood in front of Carmen, alongside its annoying, bossy, human. The dog tilted its head with affable curiosity, trying to figure out for sure what she was seeing. Carmen kept her face blank and sent peaceful thoughts its way, and the dog lay down with a sigh. Carmen linked her mind to that of the dog and asked, “So, why are you being so destructive?”
“I get so bored when she leaves me alone and I can’t help myself. She doesn’t mean to be so busy, though,” Athena answered without hesitation. It was obvious she adored the debutante on the other end of the bedazzled leash. The old adage, “Love is blind” had never been truer than in that moment in Carmen’s estimation.
Carmen couldn’t change personality traits in an animal any more than she could change them in a person. If Athena was suffering from boredom caused by neglect, then the only thing Carmen could do was make Athena’s owner aware of her failures.
“Miss Hall,” Carmen spoke in clipped tones, unsure of why this client got under her skin with so little effort. She always did her best to remain professional with whatever situation her job tossed her into. But this particular woman made her want to throw away all of her hard-earned manners and just go back to what felt was natural—throat-punching any uptight pain-in-the-ass who got in her way.
She let out a long, dramatic sigh. Maybe the job was finally getting to her, or perhaps it was the heat and humidity. She had felt a storm brewing ever since she had woken up that day. Or, it could have been linked to the feeling of being watched that she’d experienced that morning while getting dressed. Whatever the reason, something was off.
“German Shepherds are a working breed. Their innate temperament will not allow them to become couch-potato pets. You need to give Athena a task.” Carmen nodded toward the dog while adding, “She needs to be exercised, too.”
A young blonde with perfect teeth and a very expensive manicure—Miss Hall seemed to be the essence of everything that equaled an overindulged princess living in Panama City on Daddy’s money. Carmen almost hated her at first sight, almost. Her dislike was cemented as she wondered how the princess kept her hair stick-straight when the humidity did nothing but turn Carmen’s into a constant waterfall of flaming curls.
“Miss Hall, if you do not put in the effort that it will take to teach Athena anything, she is going to continue eating your Jimmy Choo’s. She will chew on your couch, your adorable dinette set, and shred all of your magazines. You need to take her out to run more often. You also need to take her to obedience classes. Athena is not the problem here, you are.”
Damn. Carmen winced a bit inside. She was losing her patience, and she was sure that Miss Hall had become offended. Oh well. Carmen sighed to herself and narrowed her eyes. Too bad. I’m not done. Miss Hall would, no doubt, never refer her to one of her friends, but Carmen didn’t care. She abhorred clients like this one; although, she usually had more patience with them.
“How dare you speak to me in that tone?” Miss Hall shrieked, as her blemish-free, tanned complexion began to mottle. “I did not pay you to come in here and disrespect me. I paid you to fix her. She is the problem, not me,” she snarled while jabbing a flawless, manicured finger toward the dog and eyeing Carmen with almost-feral intent. “I do not have a problem, and I do not appreciate you taking that tone with me.” Her ranting had changed her at-first-pleasant face into one of a grade-A she-bitch.
Carmen took a calming breath. It didn’t work. “Listen to me, you shallow, vapid little girl. You called me. You needed me. I do not need you as much as you needed this reality check. If you cannot wake up and realize that you are in the wrong here, then you need to find Athena a new home. A home with people who understand what she needs and will provide for those needs. Don’t you dare punish this beautiful creature for acting the way you have made her. You created these issues. She is just responding in a natural way to the confines you have created. She’s only eighteen months old. In human years, that is just shy of ten. You wouldn’t treat a ten-year-old child the way you have treated this poor dog, would you?”
Miss Hall stepped back, aghast that anyone would speak to her that way. Carmen wasn’t just anyone, though. She was a woman who had lost her entire family at a young age, had grown up in and out of the foster system, and still managed to come out on top. She had worked hard for everything she had. She didn’t let anyone or anything stand in her way. Carmen wasn’t afraid to get dirty or ruffle a few feathers, and she could tell by the shocked look on Miss Hall’s face, she had figured that out.
Miss Hall smoothed her hair down in frustration. “I will take what you have said under advisement. You are free to go now.” She straightened her clothes in a dismissive manner.
For the first time all day, Carmen felt amused; but, she refused to allow her smirk to cross her lips. She didn’t want this woman to sense any weakness in her. She needed to drive her point home first. “You call me and tell me what you decide to do. If you decide to keep her and train her, I know some local people who can help. If you decide to find her a new home, let me know as well. I may be able to help. Either way ... you will let me know what happens. I don’t want to have to call animal control.” Carmen locked eyes with her, daring the unpleasant woman to contradict her.
“Fine,” she huffed. “God, you sound just like my mother.”
Carmen walked out before she could let the obscenities taking up space in her mind escape her mouth. She took her keys off of her belt loop and unlocked her little car. It was a red 1994 Mazda Mx6. There was something special about this little car. It was older, but something about it made Carmen fall in love with it. She started it up, pressed the clutch, put it in gear, and made herself proud by controlling the urge to spin the tires as she drove away.
Driving fast evened her temper most of the time, but in that moment, a jet plane at Mach three wouldn’t have soothed her. Uncooperative clients, jerk ex-boyfriend, the constant feeling of being watched... it was all beginning to wear on her. Carmen turned the radio off and suppressed the urge to fly around the puttering car in front of her. She hit the steering wheel with the palm of her hand instead.
“Maybe I need a vacation?” she said aloud to the empty car, as she expelled a frustrated sigh. Her stomach roared, reminding her she hadn’t eaten all day. Or maybe I just need to eat.
She pulled into the Waffle House four blocks from her house. “Hi, Carmen!” the staff and handful of regulars chimed at her. Several of the male customers looked her up and down with unwelcome appreciation. One of the braver ones called out, “Hey, baby.” Another one whistled and grinned. “I wish I was whatever you’re ordering.”
Carmen didn’t even spare a glance. “I wish you were, too. Because then you’d be deep-fried and quiet.”
 He threw his fork down as his buddies erupted into bellows of laughter.
As she strolled to her regular booth, Carmen passed Penny—another regular—who was seated at the bar. The lady’s button-down shirt and demure demeanor refreshed Carmen’s memory. She was the librarian from the library downtown.
“Heya, Penny. Hiding out from your grandmother today?”
The petite brunette nodded, offering a shy laugh. “Yes, sometimes I just need a break, you know?”
Carmen laughed but didn’t break stride. “Yeah, except I need a break from people every day.”
She found the waitress behind the counter. “Hey, Tiff. Can I just get my regular?” Tiffany nodded and wrote down the order to call it in.
Carmen smiled. She was a part-time fixture there. She couldn’t help it. Hash browns soothed her, and anytime she had a dumb client, bad day, or craving; she ate hash browns smothered with almost everything. She was sure that one day her thighs and ass were going to pay the ultimate price for her indulgence, but it hadn’t happened yet. Carmen went to her favorite booth in the corner and sat with her back to the wall while she waited, with the smell of wonderful, greasy food teasing her. It almost helped her relax.




About the Author:

Allaina Daniels is a sassy domestic goddess from Georgia whose addiction to caffeine is surpassed only by her passion for the written word.

Her debut paranormal romance, Infinity, was released in August 2015; and, her second novel is expected to be available by summer 2016.

Allaina is an avid reader and reviewer of all genres and enjoys connecting with her readers on social media.