Snapshots Of A Stray Parade

 

The streets allowed a ghostly grey limousine to invade their labyrinth. The car swung wide around tight corners, slowing every time a pack of vibrant revelers crossed its path. Shiny tires crunched to a stop in a parking lot on the neighborhood’s edge.

“Are you sure this is the place?” Sorcha rapped on the smoked glass until it disappeared. “I said I missed the French Quarter, but actually being here makes me…”

“For years, not a soul on earth could pry you out of this district.” The blond man squinted at a handwritten note. “Ivori and Charmaine are waiting in the lobby.” 

“Feels lonely.” Sorcha gazed down the tapered alley at snapshots of a stray parade. “Or empty? Might just be me.”

“It’s positively hollow.” He tossed the crinkled paper to the only other person in the car. “I’ve deciphered that scribble correctly, Lock?”

“Indeed you have, sir.” Lock kicked the car door open and grabbed for Sorcha’s hand. “Leave that dreadful device here.”

“It’s brand new.” Sorcha pulled her phone away from Lock, just to have it plucked away again. “Seriously, Draven?”

Draven flung Sorcha’s phone to the farthest corner of the car. “Doesn’t the incessant, social connection exhaust you?”

“Nothing feels like the old days, except the weather.” Sorcha peeled off her sweater and glared into the dark limousine before tossing the garment. “But, what if?”

“Anyone you’re looking for…” Lock pulled her away. “Has no need for that.”

The trio crossed the gravel lot, rounded a saltwater pool and stopped in the middle of a checkerboard floor. They found two girls drumming their fingers on a mahogany desk. Disguised in the realm of the concierge, a hidden door admitted them to tunnels below the building.

“It’s a sauna down here.” Sorcha swept the hair off her neck and twisted it into a loose knot.

“When you mentioned an Equinox reunion, Ivori, I assumed you meant something spectacular.” Draven touched the muddy wall and cringed. “Or at least, uplifting.”

“Nights of grand balls and original dresses are history.” Ivori walked into the pitch black. “Y’all took your sweet time getting here.”

“We were in opposite corners of the earth.” Lock’s frown was unveiled when Charmaine struck a match and lit her torch.  “I was hoping for an enchanted courtyard.”

“Me.” Sorcha raised her hand. “The cathedral bell tower.”

“This will be better.” Ivori stopped so short, everyone crashed into her back. “None of your supernatural eyes saw the big door?”

Charmaine pulled chalk from her pocket and began to write. She waited for each letter to disappear before she scripted the next. When the jumble was finished, a steel barrier slid open. Ivori strutted past and snapped her fingers.

“Aren’t you coming with?” Sorcha tugged on Charmaine’s sleeve.

“I’m playing gatekeeper tonight.” Charmaine handed her the torch. “I need to be here when the spell is complete.”

“Just lovely.” Draven growled when Ivori disappeared into the maze of shadows.

“Let’s humor her.” Lock tucked dark hair behind his ear and urged them forward.

“Bar noise, coffee-shop racket.” Draven pointed to the corridor’s grimy ceiling. “Is that traffic?”

“We’re under Decatur Street,” Ivori said, “Clueless fool.”

“Your creepy friend has grown nastier over the years.”

“Draven, calling her my friend is a bit—” Sorcha howled and dropped to her knees.

“That would be the railroad tracks.” Ivori scampered back and yanked Sorcha to her feet. “Suck it up.”

Sorcha took a deep breath and slammed across the barrier. She turned back to see Lock and Draven stroll past the same spot, unaffected. “What the hell?”

“That steel is the boundary of your city, girl. Not theirs.” Ivori dragged her forward. “Now that we’re on the fringe, maybe we can send some messages.”

“Infernal drumming.” Sorcha clamped her hands over her ears.

“That, even I can hear.” Draven clenched his jaw. “Can we get to the bloody point before we all go deaf?”

“It’s the river,” Ivori said, “Just swallow to equalize the pressure—like in your private jet.”

 The tunnel flared into chamber with solid walls and a tile floor. Crude benches surrounded a round fire pit.

“This is unexpected.” Draven ran his fingers over glittering gems set at regular intervals in cut stone.

“Sit down, it’s nearly midnight. The currents are whispering.” Ivori loomed over the fire pit and emptied her deep pockets. She arranged an array of sachets, vials and boxes onto a low altar. “Sorcha, center bench.”

Draven whispered in Sorcha’s ear. “Creepy enough?”

Sorcha choked back a giggle and Lock smacked her shoulder.

Ivori glared at them until the room was dead still. She tipped her head side to side in the heavy air and motioned to Sorcha’s hair. “Take it down, glamour girl. That’s where all your power hides.”

 

To be continued…

Where The Power Hides

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YALit Giveaway Blitz!

XPRESSO Book Tours is throwing a magnificent #YALit Giveaway Party!

A bunch of authors got together to bring you a YOUNG ADULT Big Box of Paperbacks Giveaway! One luck winner is going to win FIFTY Young Adult Paperback Books! How’s that for an epic Book-Lover’s Prize?

THIS BOX OF BOOKS IS VALUED AT OVER $500! And this giveaway is open worldwide! Their first giveaway went to a winner in Romania–and yes, they’re willing to pay the insane shipping on this oversized, overweight package to get the prize to WHOEVER wins!

Enter The Giveaway Here!

You could win 50 Books!

Here’s an excerpt from just one of the featured authors…

 

Curse of the Sphinx

Exclusive Excerpt

By Raye Wagner

 

The box slipped from her hands, the contents spilling on the asphalt. The sleeve of her mom’s sweater landed in the gutter, the splash of red contrasting with the darkness around her.

Even before Hope turned to the car, the fermented stink of alcohol wafted on the breeze. Two men, just more than shadows, came from the left, their drunken gait slow as they ambled toward her car. Even if she ran, she couldn’t get in the car before they reached her. Sucking in a deep breath, she turned to face her fate. Adrenaline washed through her, and her muscles tensed. The sound of her heartbeat pounded in her ears, and pages of a book rustled in the wind.

One of the men sucked in a sharp breath, and Hope tried to measure her risk.

The shorter man leered, and his brown eyes bespoke his mortality, and his smirk promised pain. In his fist, he clenched the handle of something. A hammer? No, a wrench.

The taller man’s gait was steady, and something about his features was . . . off. Wrong. Washed out. And . . . his eyes! Two solid orbs of pitch.

Skia.

She swallowed back fear as it clawed up her throat. Hope grabbed for the golden dagger in her back pocket but came up empty. In another second, they would be in striking distance.

The human raised his arm, and instinctively, she moved. Stepping to the left, she hooked his wrist as he moved to strike, rotated her grip, and lunged behind him. She brought his arm with her, applying torque until she heard the snap. Before he had time to register the pain, she kicked his knees with the heel of her foot, buckling him to the ground. Not even a second later, he screamed. He dropped the wrench and clutched his shoulder.

She spun to face the other attacker and dropped back into a defensive stance, her arms up in a guard position. The Skia chuckled, a ghostly wheezing sound. They circled each other twice, and Hope struck. She jabbed twice, measuring his ability. Fast and hard. He knew how to fight.

“You are not as you seem,” he rasped.

He reached as if to grab her, and she swung her left leg up in a crescent kick, clearing his arms. Before she brought the leg completely down, she shifted her stance and kicked him in the ribs. Sliding close, she delivered a hook punch where his liver would be, as if the dead still had their organs.

He bent over, exposing his left side, and she slammed her elbow into his jaw. The Skia crumpled to the ground.

Her legs trembled, and it felt like she was running through water, her movements lethargic and contorted. The man wrapped his warm hand around her forearm, and she stumbled.

Panicked, she lashed out with the heel of her palm, bringing her right hand back at the same time as she struck with her left. Over and over and over again. Using every ounce of force, she struck. Bones crunched and warm wetness covered her hands. Only when the man released her arm did she stop.

Hope looked around for the Skia.

The tall figure leaned against the wall of the alley, the shadows lapping at his feet, the weight of his gaze fixed on her.

She shifted back into a defensive stance, waiting for him to attack.

“Interesting.” He tipped his head. “Little monster . . .” He stepped into the shadow and disappeared.

 

Purchase Link (or read for free on Kindle Unlimited): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013PD4U5O/

 

xpresso

In The Middle

 Girl moves to new town.

Girl meets Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.

Cue Happily Ever After.

That’s how the story goes, right?

Except this is Lucy. The same Lucy whose stellar driving skills single-handedly wiped out both of her parents, leaving her with nothing but the suitcase in her hand and the screws in her skull. Not to mention that Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome—AKA Oliver—is just as annoyingly bossy as he is hot. According to Oliver, Lucy’s not safe in her new hometown, but he refuses to say why. He just gives her some lame warning about not going out after dark, like that’ll stop her.

When several townspeople vanish, the lethargic community springs to life, fearful of the danger lurking among them. The problem is that Lucy’s the last person to have seen any of the missing. Doesn’t exactly qualify her for the Neighbor of the Year Award.

Lucy’s already given up on Happily Ever After, but now she has two choices left: find out what’s happening in her new home, or become the next victim.

Read an excerpt from…

 

in-the-middlepic

 

“Do you trust me?” he asks. He’s closer to me.

 

“Do I have a choice?”

 

“Not really. We’ve got to get you back to the mansion before . . .” His voice trails off. I want to slug him in the arm for being spooky again, but I’d have to find his arm first.

 

He swoops in without warning, whisking me from my feet. Again, I cry out. He sucks in a sharp breath that catches between his teeth. “Lucy, I’m not kidding—stop making noise.”

 

My blood simmers beneath my skin. “Warn me next time you’re planning on picking me up, then.”

 

“Sorry,” he fires back, his mouth too close to my ear.

 

I want nothing more than for the strength in my legs to return so I can get away from him and his nerve, but Oliver is in control now and holds me pressed unnecessarily tightly to his body. Turning my head from him is my only means of escape. I’d shown him, all right.

 

With a little more energy than necessary, he heaves me up into the blackness. My bottom connects to something soft yet solid—Jasper’s back—and pain spikes down my spine. I gasp as my body starts to curl in on itself.

 

“Okay,” Oliver says. “Slide your right leg over to the other side. I’ll keep you steady.”

My mouth flops open and I wonder if he can see the ever-growing whites of my eyes. Or maybe he’s picked up on the stampede going on between the valves of my heart, because he softens. “Lucy, I’m not going to let you fall. Trust me.”

 

“The only people I’ve ever trusted are dead,” I shoot down to him as I claw around for something, anything, to keep me from falling on my face.

 

Oliver snorts, which sends me over the edge.

 

“What? You think that’s funny?” I challenge him, no longer concerned about keeping quiet. His hand clamps on my leg in piercing reproof. I’ll have bruises there tomorrow, for sure. Through locked teeth, I order, “Let. Go.”

 

“Please stop,” he says. “I’m trying to keep you sa—”

 

A rumble beyond us, where the orchard fades into the rest of the forest, interrupts his plea. Even though I sit astride stoic Jasper, I can feel the ground vibrating beneath us.

 

“What in the—?” I cry, whipping my head in the direction of the growing commotion.

 

“Slide back,” Oliver commands. I know better than to take offense at his bossy tone. I’d made a big mistake, one he’d been trying to protect me from. The fear of horses leaves my body, only to be replaced by the fear of the unknown. Ignoring the bite of pain in my hip, I throw my leg over Jasper’s withers and shove myself backward, using my palms for leverage. A second later, Oliver sweeps himself upward and in front of me on his horse’s back.

 

“Hold on,” he yells over the thunder moving our direction.

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon (www.amazon.com/Middle-S-J-Henderson-ebook/dp/B01MS38HH5/)

Tiny Fox Press (http://tinyfoxpress.com/product/in-the-middle/)

 

jen

 

  1. J. Henderson is the founder of theKid Authors Project, as well as a published author of the DANIEL THE DRAW-ER series. Now that she’s published IN THE MIDDLE, she’ll start working on the next big thing.

 

  1. J. lives on a farm with her husband, four boys, two dogs, and cat. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her riding one of her family’s three horses. She loves to sing and is slowly learning to play the ukulele.

 

 

Website (www.sjhenderson.net)

Facebook (www.facebook.com/authorsunnyhenderson)

Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/SunnyHenderson)

Twitter (www.twitter.com/SunnyJHenderson)

 

 

 

 

When Angels Weep

Dearest Sorcha,

     Last night, I saw the splendor of our future. Not in the glow of the bursting full moon or the blaze of crackling fire, but in the halo of my protégé.

     In a tiny room, bathed in the glow of a rose-glass lamp, one of our dearest and loveliest patients received the Lord’s call. Reaching for the light, the elderly woman’s fingers trailed the air as if a loved one’s grasp fell short, time and time again. The hand she finally found belonged to you—her lifeline between the realms of heaven and earth.

     Then tonight, I discovered you alone and grieving in our private chapel. Your tears fell to the stone floor with the weight of time’s relentless march, reminding me of all the life lights we’ve watched flicker out and the spirits we’ve had the privilege to set free. While we share what some call the curse of immortality, in your hands it’s a miraculous blessing. You, the youngest of old souls, soar closer to the flame than most of us dare—ever vulnerable to the heart-wrenching pain of human tragedy. Dignity and grace in the face of death…that is a talent born into your blood.

    So, on this year’s darkest and deepest of winter nights, I implore you to celebrate the ritual of Solstice with our family. We will feed well, drink deeply, and unite our energies until the veil separating us from the ancestors falls away.

    Mourning and respect offered for those lost, will heal your heart. Joy that transcends time and restores hope for the new year, will grant you wings.

               Until tomorrow night then, my brave angel,

               Carry on,

            Raimond

 

Ocean of Stars

 

Ocean of Stars
by Belle Malory
♦ ♦ ♦
 

One keeper down. Eleven to go.

Kennedy Mitchell has just survived an alien attack, but at what cost? The world still isn’t safe. The keepers still aren’t strong enough to defend it. The people still have no idea how much is at stake.

The Department of Extraterrestrials is planning an important mission, one that means seeking the help of another planet in order to save theirs. Kennedy is reluctant to leave at such a critical time, but her role in the mission is essential to its success. With everyone she loves still at risk, she’s willing to do anything to find the key to survival.

Even if that means crossing the universe.

Previous books in the series:
 Ocean of Stars
by Belle Malory
(Twelfth Keeper #3)
Publication date: January 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
belle
AUTHOR BIO:

I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m a storyteller.

My two great loves are books and coffee. If it weren’t for books, my heart wouldn’t feel as full. And if it weren’t for coffee, I wouldn’t know what mornings are. That being said, the guy at Starbucks knows me well. He sings to me sometimes.

I live in Orlando, Florida with my family and two rescue mutts. Their personalities are like night and day. One is gold. The other is black. The gold one doesn’t like to sleep in. Before I’ve had my coffee, we are enemies.

You can visit me at http://www.bellemalory.blogspot.com. I love hearing from readers!

Author links:
 

=

The Grand Escape

Each footstep down the winding stairs is part of a choreographed dance. I’ve memorized every board and nail that creaks under my weight. The iron balcony veiled by tropical plants makes my Vieux Carré apartment a gem. Only drawback…the landlady is a nosey bitch.

Forsaking the refuge of shade from the galleries, I walk down the middle of the narrow street, cloaking myself in vicious sunlight. At the moment of dusk, my escape will become dangerous, if not impossible. If they won’t change me, what choice do I have? The monsters prowl this labyrinth at night, flaunting their power and toying with me like a lab rat on the wheel to oblivion.

The beat up convertible is parked close to where I left it. Fishing the key from under the seat, I pump the gas and the engine turns over. Fuel gauge is a little lower that I remember. In spite of the heat, driving with the top down is the perfect disguise.

Damn seat belt is still jammed and useless.

Long after I make the final turn out of the cramped neighborhoods, I allow my lungs their first full breath. The brackish air tastes of rusty mud and angry fish. All that remains between me and freedom is the gauntlet of an old bridge over a sea, masquerading as a lake. The pedal under my foot sinks to the floor and the little jalopy leaps into the fading light. Tapping my finger on the glowing screen of my phone, I glance at the GPS, then glue my eyes back to the rickety road and aim for the dotted line.

Grim shadows loom in the dangling mirror. Adjusting the wobbly reflection does nothing to make me feel safer from clouds that roil behind me like a tsunami of evil. I toss my phone in the back seat and slam both feet on the gas pedal until the sign comes into view.

Liberty, salvation, the threshold of a new life.

New Orleans City Limits

The figure appears in front of me, out of thin air. No fog, no flash…just a man in the road where there was none a second ago. Before I can hit the brakes, the car flips through the air as if thrown by the hand of Zeus. Steel collapses into a death cage around me, right before the car careens through the guardrail. Instead of plunging into the dark water, my face collides with crumbling pavement.  

Nausea from the metallic taste in my throat hits right before the burn of road rash ignites every inch of my body. I force my eyes open to find a phantom standing over me.

The man rakes one hand through his jet black hair. “Think you’d get away so easily?”

“Aren’t you?” Blood gurgles from my mouth, spilling into a puddle under my chin. “The doctor from—”

“Chief of staff at the trauma center where you work.” He answers.

“So, you can save me.”

“Oh, I will.” The doctor rubs the salt and pepper of his goatee. “And grant you what you’ve been searching for.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“The magic. If you still desire it.”

“It’s been the ultimate tease…all this time. It was either leave town or go insane.”

The doctor unsnaps his cufflinks. “That’s part of the test, young lady.”

“How did you find me?” Through an explosion of searing pain, I turn onto my back and stare at the moon’s silver ring. “I took every precaution.”

“Look at yourself.”

Blinking back tears, I lift mangled hands in front of my face. Flecks of color sparkle through blood and grime.

Dr. Monster rolls up his sleeves. “The glitter of our city is all over you.”

 

 

 

 

In case you missed the beginning,

The Grand Plan  

https://monstersnangels.com/2016/10/26/souvenir/