Friend Zone – Cover Reveal!!

I’m ridiculously attracted to my best friend.

Today is a bad day. The worst actually. After dealing with the constant manhandling that comes with being a cocktail waitress at a dive bar and surviving a date from hell, I see an eviction notice slapped on the door of my sketchy basement apartment. Great.

When my best friend Devon shows up at my door and uses his stubborn charm (emphasis on stubborn) to get me to move in with him, I give in. We’ve had about a million sleepovers since we met in the kindergarten Deaf program, but this time it’s different because I can’t stop thinking about his hard body covering mine, every single night. 

I know Devon would do anything for me, but I’m afraid what I want to happen will ruin our friendship forever. And the more time we spend together in close quarters, the harder it’ll be to resist the spark of attraction I’ve always felt. But maybe it’s possible to have the best of both worlds: keep the one relationship I can’t live without and indulge in an attraction I can’t deny.

I guess the only thing we can do is try…

***

(Author fun fact: Before you check out the amazing cover, there are two details I absolutely love, be on the lookout for them. One, the model’s hands appear to be in motion, almost as if he’s signing. Two, my amazing graphic artist managed to add a hearing aid, as Devon himself normally wears two.)

 

 

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Laura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family. Her husband’s put up with her since high school, her young son keeps her on her toes, and her three cats think they deserve more scratches. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates.

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Don’t Rush Me…

Can you feel it…the dawn of spring?

If you just got buried by Blizzard #Stella, you probably can’t see past mountains of snow.

 But the snow is melting and the Spring Equinox is just days away.

Time for the story of a beautiful girl in her sapphire gown, waltzing into vampire royalty.

As soon as she drags herself out of the bathtub…

 

          The evening of the party kicked off before sunset, the equivalent of early morning for a house full of vampires. Sorcha’s eyes fluttered open and settled on bustling around the armoire.
         “Whoa, is that my dress?” She threw the blankets off and flipped on the chandelier. The blue fabric leapt to life in the soft glow. Her fingers caressed the subtle tone-on-tone pattern. Steven outdid himself. A silver slip lay on the nearby chair; its boning and fluffy layers would give the skirt perfect fullness. 
           “Breakfast is served!” Steven and Lily barged in, carrying coffee and chalices of blood. “You have to eat early today—you’ll need your strength for tonight. Hurry up. Hair and makeup take time.” 
           Sorcha fiddled with her food, spun her glass and left everything but her coffee on the tray before retreating to a tub full of bubbles.
           “Quit stalling in there!” Steven pounded on the bathroom door…

Join the Monsters & Angels Society!

 

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

The Soul of Glory – 3

The sun peeked above the horizon and sped across the ocean to a strip of sand that used to be a beach. One by one, piles of rubble were illuminated on a landscape changed forever in a single, dreadful night.

So bright—so frigid. The Queen struggled to come up from her fog. Where am I? Ringing silence gave way to the rhythmic pulse of rotors in the sky. So many voices. All strangers—swearing and talking about wreckage.

“This one’s ok—those others are junk.” Cameras clicked as three sets of footsteps passed.

Are they talking about me?

“The Osborne fire jumped the road,” One stranger said.

 How bad am I?

“By the grace of God,” A familiar voice answered, “It stopped two blocks away.”

 Why am I lying in sand? The Queen spiraled back into her darkness for hours or days—time stood still, sped and sputtered in a bizarre haze until squealing brakes woke her up again.

Amid strobes and police cars, the bus ground to a halt. A passenger stepped out onto the crumbled highway and walked through the remnants of the marina gate with her hand clamped over her mouth.

“Little girl, how did you get here?” A man barked in a German accent.

“I have ID.”

I know that voice. The Queen fought to wake up. Clara?

The girl whipped around and stared into the wreckage.

“This paperwork looks fake.” The man planted his hands on his hips. “Hello missy, pay attention please.”

“Thought I heard something.” The girl turned back to face him. “Who are you, exactly?”

“Hans, the crane operator. Workers from all over the world are here to clean up this catastrophe.”

“I’m Clara. I have to find my boat.”

“Is that the warmest coat you have?” Hans asked.

“It is today.” The whir of a zipper was followed by Clara’s voice muffled under a scarf. “I’ve searched the news footage…all the video is about the roller coaster in the ocean or the ruined mansions up the highway.”

“Which boat is yours, honey? They all look the same. This…” He waved at piles of ruined watercraft, some upside down and sinking and others torn open like tin cans. “This mess, is why people need to put names on their boats.”

A swipe of her fingers flicked away tears. “Glory.”

“You mean the Queen?” The man pointed south, across the yard. “She’s right there.”

“Where? The girl brushed her hair from her face and took a few steps south.

“Whoa, wait. You can’t walk the lot alone. There’s holes in the sand deeper than you are tall.”

Hans led Clara across the marina, pointing out jagged metal and steering her around craters. “The ocean roared through here.”

“I see someone’s entire kitchen and…” Clara picked up a shattered piano keyboard. “How high was the water?”

“Over your head, maybe over mine.” The man stopped short and pointed to the last boat on the edge of the debris. “Here she is…we’ve blocked her up now, so she wouldn’t roll over, but that boat behind her kept her upright. Bit of a miracle, but a shame, the only marking left on that little one is a tiny dolphin on the stern.”

Clara? A weak voice crackled into the wind.

“I found you.” Clara rested her shaking palm on the white boat.

Am I dead? The touch of familiar fingers, sparked energy that raced through the Queen’s hull. Is it over?

“Yes, it’s over. But you made it, Glory.”

Another man trudged across the lot. “That old girl is built like a tank. She didn’t just make it, she saved the Dragon too, though they left a few scars on each other.” He pointed to the swath of mud cut by seawater. “Right here—this was brink of disaster. The current washed her stern around but the bow, is exactly where I blocked it up.”

“Mr. James.” Clara hugged him with one arm, keeping her right hand on Glory.

“Clara, you shouldn’t be here. But, I know why you came.”

“She’s a survivor, my survivor.” Clara rubbed her hands across dings and scratches in the gel coat. “Can one of you do me a favor, please?”

“If you promise to get back on that bus and go home,” Mr. James said, “I know your parents and they must be worried sick.”

Clara nodded and pulled an American flag out of her coat. It unfurled to a full eight feet long. “Can you hang this? I have zip ties.”

“I’ll do it.” Hans grabbed a step-ladder and climbed to the top. He took the ensign off Glory’s bow and tossed it to Clara. “Hold onto that.”

“This was brand new in September.” Clara rubbed the fabric in her hands. The red and white stripes were shredded to ribbons and tied in knots, but the “Don’t Tread On Me” lettering and serpent were still intact.

“That’s what a hundred mile-per-hour wind does,” Hans said, “Now, where do you want this beauty?”

Clara pointed to the rail above her head. The flag whipped in the wind and she felt Glory’s hull vibrate, as trickles of life lit chrome and stainless steel.

Hans stood back nodded at the massive flag. “That should bump the roller coaster off the news. Unbelievable, in this day and age, nobody saw what happened here. No power, no satellite photos—just a disaster zone.”

I know what happened, Clara. I’ll tell you every detail.

“How will this ever get cleaned up? It’s so…” Clara searched for the right word. “Destroyed.”

“I’m not just cleaning it up. I’m rebuilding—better than new.” Mr. James spread his arms. “This place will be sparkling by Memorial Day.”

“I promise,” Clara whispered, “I’ll go as soon as the bus comes back.”

“Take your time.” Both men stepped away and watched the teenage girl rest her palms and forehead against the hull.

“She always talk to that boat?” Hans mumbled.

“And the boat answers,” Mr. James said, “People thinks she’s nuts, but you and I know she’s not.”

“I knew you’d make it, Glory.” Clara didn’t try to stop her tears this time.

Sshhh, please don’t cry. Your prayers saved me…saved my soul.

 

As the late autumn sun began to set, Clara boarded the bus as promised. She took a long look back at the piles of boats and mountains of debris. Glory sparkled on the edge of the wreckage, her new flag billowing in the wind, her light and life returning and growing brighter by the minute.

“My Glory.” Clara poked the bus driver’s elbow.

“All I saw was a pile of rubble when I dropped you off, but it looks like you sprinkled that ship with glitter.” The bus driver pointed to the red, white and blue in Clara’s hand. “You should frame that little flag.”

Clara slumped down in the seat behind the driver and dropped her face into her hands.

“I know it’s been a nightmare.,” The driver said,  “A bad time for our shore, but if we work together, we’ll come out the other side.”

“Stronger.” Clara nodded.

The bus driver swung the doors shut. “I assume you named her?”

“She kinda’ named herself.”

“Never stop believing.” He smiled into the rearview mirror. “Hold tight, your soul.”

Clara wiped the final tears from her eyes. “It was Glory, who held onto me.”

 

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 Based on the true story of Glory Days…a survivor, my inspiration and a genuine Queen.

To catch up on the talking boats;

Part 1

https://monstersnangels.com/2016/08/15/the-soul-of-glory-1/

Part 2

https://monstersnangels.com/2016/08/17/the-soul-of-glory-2/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Soul of Glory – 2

A frenzy of activity and machinery rousted boats from their slumber like a string of light bulbs flickering on, one at a time.

That was a quick winter, Dragon said.

“What’s the latest?” A man’s familiar voice rang out across the lot.

Dolphin’s Tail woke up. Spring already? Yay, spring!

“The Weather Channel is the only thing on TV,” Another man answered.

A nor’easter maybe? Better Days asked.

“They’re saying Category 3. We’ve been through it before,” The first man shouted back.

Hurricane? All the young boats turned their panic toward the Queen. What do we do?

Calm down everyone—it should blow out to sea, The Queen said, We’ll be fine, as long as we’re together.

“Guys, did you hear?” A truck gunned through the gate, with its driver hollering out the window. “The storm’s turning—rocketing directly at us.”

Something’s wrong, Better Days gasped.

“They’re evacuating the whole island,” The driver said.

Dreadfully wrong. Gusts off the ocean whipped a cloud of salt spray across the Queen’s bow. Clara is praying for me.

 

Within a day, the sound of power tools and storm preparation faded and vanished along with the last evacuees. The beach road was deserted, but the air was far from still.

I know it’s daytime, but I don’t feel one ray of sun, The Queen said to Better Days, If that quaking is the surf, it sounds like a monster beating down a steel door.

There’s always been someone here to watch over us, Better Days’ voice cracked, Tonight, we’re on our own.

White foam exploded through a breach in the sand dune, followed by green water that turned the beach road into a river of debris.

How can we save the little ones? The Queen moaned as shards of shingles and cracked ceramic tile ricocheted off her hull.

The boats braced against the fury of the ocean and none paid attention to the silent encroachment of the bay until they started to float off their blocks. Shrieks of terror joined the howling gale.

Better Days shouted above the wind, They’re sinking!

Dolphin’s Tail, hang on! The Queen screamed in the bedlam.

I’m behind you, The little boat answered, Hooked onto your swim ladder.

Blowing sand assaulted the Queen like a thousand flying needles. I’ve never felt wind this vicious.

Shock waves rolled across the floodwater, heaving asphalt and sand toward the bay. Better Days spun off her blocks and slammed into the Queen.

That felt like an explosion, Better Days said, From the north.

I feel heat to my port side, The Queen’s voice jumped an octave, I must be facing the beach. Ripples spread as a fireball cut through rain and wind. Something’s burning.

Something huge. Dragon shuddered as her fiberglass skin was ripped open under the Queen’s anchor. What’s going to stop that?

Another wall of ocean water swept boats into piles, crushing some instantly, while dragging others sobbing into the lagoon.

A towering wave of mangled roof trusses lifted Better Days up and smashed her into the Queen again.

I have to let go, before I sink you too, Better Days said, I really wanted to see Tahoe.

Don’t you give up! The Queen wailed, I can’t survive alone.

Yes, you can. Clara would be lost without you, Better Days forced her accent over the gale, until the swirling current sucked her away, Hold on for Clara.

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Splintered pilings, and the remainder of the house collided with the Queen’s bow like a knockout punch, bending her steel bow rail, piercing her deck and driving her deeper into the water. One more hit like that and I’m finished. The last of her companion’s tortured pleas were swallowed by claps of thunder—even Clara’s prayers became distant and finally vanished.

 

I must be dying.

Nose down. The battered Queen sighed deep in her hull and shut down her consciousness, driving all her remaining power at one goal. Hold on, with every ounce of strength…hold on.

 

      to be continued…

 

 

To catch up on the talking boats…Soul of Glory- Part 1 – https://monstersnangels.com/2016/08/15/the-soul-of-glory-1/

The Soul of Glory – 1

      Throughout history, ships have been christened with the names of royal ladies, great leaders and legendary places. Every boat owner experiences the ritual, the excitement, the struggle, and the ultimate joy of finding the right name…or maybe the spirit of that perfect name finds you.

So, just for a few minutes, suspend disbelief and listen to the boats talk…

 

The unwelcome chill of middle October swirled around shuttered bungalows and rattled discarded beach chairs. Lined up like soldiers, boats of all sizes filled gravel parking lots, blocked and secure for another New Jersey winter. They chattered away amongst themselves, like children on the playground.

I want to scream at the top of my lungs! Dolphin’s Tail proclaimed, Nobody’s around to hear us.

For the millionth time, most people don’t hear you anyway, The Dragon answered, Just the littlest kids.

My Clara still hears me. The biggest boat spoke up from the center of the pack. And she’s a teenager now. Last week she said good-bye for the winter and thanked me for taking care of her.

That’s our job, Better Days said, her voice smooth and refined, like the champagne color of her hull. To keep them safe.

I just dread these cold months, Dragon said, Maybe someone can fix my blue stripes while we’re stuck on land? They’re peeling.

You need to sleep, lass, Better Days chimed in, We all do.

I don’t think I can, Dolphin’s Tail moaned, Why can’t it be summer forever?

I want to hear a story. Dragon said, Better Days, you’re the oldest. Why do you have an accent?

My owners are from Ireland. I’ve lived across the Atlantic Ocean, on Lake Michigan and now here in Barnegat Bay. Next year—Lake Tahoe.

Tell us about the boats who used to live here…like Thunderbird, Dragon nagged, Is it true, that she was made completely of wood?

Solid mahogany. Legend has it, that a presidential peace deal was signed on her deck, right there at the end of Dock B, Better Days said, The Queen’s slip.

No wonder there’s a party down there every night, Dolphin said, I want to be the Queen when I grow up.

What else? Dragon asked, I want to hear more.

 I may be the oldest, but I haven’t been here the longest, Better Days said, Ask the Queen.

 Oh, that’s right, Dragon whispered to the grand boat in the center, Why do they call you Queen Mary?

 That’s just Clara’s nickname for me, but I like it, The big white boat answered, I’m not nearly as regal as the real Queen Mary.

 Weren’t you moving to Louisiana? Dragon asked.

My family found a house on Lake Ponchartrain, and then a hurricane destroyed everything, The Queen answered, They were scared enough to abandon the whole plan. Clara told me…

I’m sure it wasn’t that bad, Dolphin’s Tail interrupted, Where’s Thunderbird now?

Cruising the Caribbean, The Queen answered, The true, endless summer.

I’m going there next, Dolphin’s Tail said.

Little Dolphin, The Dragon sighed, Has anyone told you how squeaky your voice is?

She’s still a wee thing, Better Days lilted, Wait until next year.

Next year, Dolphin’s Tail said, I want the Queen to teach me everything she knows—like how to stop when I sense danger.

How did you learn that, actually? The Dragon asked, I managed to slow down, once, to keep from running aground. When we got back to the marina, someone called a mechanic.

That means you did it right, Better Days chuckled.

You learn by being in danger, and having the lives of your passengers in your control, The Queen answered, I’ll teach you. Promise

All winter, I do what, again? Dolphin’s Tail moaned, How do I know when it’s over?

Sleep, Better Days answered.

She means, stop jabbering, Dragon said, The bright sun and warm wind will wake you up.

Good-night, kids. The Queen slipped into silence while the little boat’s chatter dwindled away…

 

to be continued…