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Welcome to my blog, where I share my love of books and anything bookish, including my own novels every now and then, but mostly I share **Book Blog Tours** **Author Features** **Guest Posts** **Book Blitz's** **Give-Aways** and **Competitions**

Thanks for visiting ~ Bella x

Friday, 23 January 2015

Feature Friday & Author Interview ~ Twisted by Lola Smirnova

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Welcome to

    Feature Friday  


Twisted 

by 

Lola Smirnova




Author Bio:

Lola Smirnova is an author from Ukraine, who for many years worked in the sex industry. She recently released her debut novel Twisted. Twisted is a work of fiction, but it is inspired by the author’s real life experiences making a living in the sex trade. 

Synopsis:

In the corrupt economy of post-Soviet Ukraine opportunities are scarce. Young and eager sisters – Natalia, Lena and Julia – harbor dreams of a better life. Naïve and tempted by the allure of ‘quick’ money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever.

Can they stay out of trouble enough to fulfill their ambitions? Can they hold on to their idealism in a world where depravity and danger are constant companions? How far are they willing to go to make a buck?

Twisted is a disturbing behind-the-scenes look at a world that most will never see. It is shocking, raw, and explicit.

Twisted tells the story of a young Ukrainian girl named Julia, whose family is struck with poverty after the fall of the Soviet Union. Her two older sisters leave home and become sex workers, glossing over the more distasteful aspects of their occupation, planting the seeds of both curiosity and greed in young Julia.  She eventually finds the lure of easy money too beguiling and begins her journey into the darker aspects of drug abuse, drunken stupors, and the horrid and loveless life of a sex-for-sale prostitute... Twisted is an amazing book that is well written and provocative. This book is a worthwhile read.” - Michael Alexander’s BDSM Review

The characters are real, dialog intoxicating, and the plot well crafted.” – Reviewed by Gary Stout at Readers’ Favorite

Twisted is available for sale on Amazon in ebook and paperback

Lola Smirnova is currently working on her second novel Crave – a sequel to Twisted. To learn more, go to http://lolasmirnova.com/.

Connect with Lola on:




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Excerpt:

2

My name is Julia. I am from Ukraine. I work as an entertainer in one of the many cabarets in Luxembourg City. In other words … I am a prostitute.

Luxembourg City is the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the pint-sized, landlocked country in the heart of Western Europe. By Shanghai, London or New York’s standards, it wouldn’t be strange to have sixty champagne bars in one city, but it does sound quirky when you consider that Luxembourg City is twice as small as Orlando Disney World.

This sleepy and conservative locale, the world’s eighth-largest banking and financial centre, motherland of prioress Yolanda and the 100-watt radio transmitter, is stuffed with sex-orientated ‘establishments’, like the one where I work. What’s more, they are jam-packed with able-to-eat-a-horse-for-the-dough girls from different countries – mostly, of course, Eastern Europeans, who would do anything to make an extra buck.

Champagne bar, whorehouse, brothel, house of assignation, bordello, den of vice; call them what you like, it does not change the core of these places. Although they are often called cabarets, and occasionally there is even strip-dancing involved, you shouldn’t associate them with merrymaking or extravaganza. ‘Trade’, ‘sex’, ‘transactions’, ‘carnal’, ‘barter’ or ‘perversion’ would be the better words to portray this type of nightery.

This is a place where one man can spend thousands of euro in an hour or sip only Coke all night long; where the currency is not money but champagne; where often nobody is really interested in the champagne’s quality or taste, but rather finds its value in the size and quantity of the bottles; where the sanctity of the sparkling drink of the gods and the missionary position are lost in the blue confusion of fake orgasms and sex noises.

It works as simply as a jukebox – to get music, you have to stick in a coin. If you want a girl to lavish attention on you, pay for her champagne.

The cheapest option is a €25 glass of bubbly, which gives you 15 minutes of an affectionate and solicitous bond with a girl at the bar. Pay twice that price and your ‘date’ drinks piccolo, the 250 ml bottle. In this case, the time you spend with her is doubled, but the storyline stays the same. Next: the demi-bouteille, a 375 ml bottle that costs about €180 for half an hour. This ‘denomination’ grants a little bit of comfort, because both of you can move to a dim semi-private lounge, as well as the confidence that physical manipulation will be involved. And last, but not least, is the ‘full house’ for the standard bottle, the price for which varies. It kicks off at €250 for questionable swill, which is reasonable damage considering that in addition to a drink, you get screwed for an hour in the séparé – a private room, most commonly upstairs. You could be asked to pay up to €650 for Cristal or Dom Perignon, where, of course, you cough up not only for sex but also for the champagne’s snobbish name, fine finish in the mouth, and the supplementary fondness and devotion. Sad to say, these pricey bottles – and the one-and-a-half litre magnums that go for €1,000 or more – are a rare occurrence in these clubs.

The uniqueness of such places is that while you, the customer, are having leisure time with your ‘pick’, her mind is constantly dividing the amount that you’ve already spent by five (this is how much commission the house pays her), adding her €60 daily salary and planning how to badger you to buy another bottle, all that while smiling or laughing hard enough to make sure that all of these calculations in her head are not reflected on her pretty face.

Most of the clubs open at one in the afternoon and cease their trading at about four in the morning. Of course, the run has to be split – there are day and night shifts. Even though, practically, there is no big difference between the two spells, the contrast in the clientele is huge.

The day shift – fuck, I hate it! – is all about the married and the perverts, but more often the married perverts. As a rule, they drop by to use their lunch break for a dull, uncomplicated quickie, or for depraved ‘activities’ they have never had the guts to share with their wives and girlfriends. They don’t drink much and have limited time. That is why the club is usually boring and full of freaks, but in the end, who cares if you can get the bottle?

On the other hand, the night transforms the club and fills it with a party flavour – the music is louder, the customers are drunker and the laughter gets more sincere. Even the girls’ sweat looks like a piece of cake. The problem is that the boys often get carried away by the alcohol and the thundering crowd, so their brains switch out of sex mode. If there is no sex, there is probably going to be no bottle either.

But enough, I don’t want to bore you. Let’s set in motion my adventure that, by the way, began without me.

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Author Interview:

Hi Lola and welcome to my blog

Firstly can you tell us about yourself?

I was born and raised in Ukraine. Straight after my final school exams I packed my bags and left Ukraine for good, never looking back. Throughout my twenties I worked all over the Europe browsing over all sorts of sex clubs. I currently live in South Africa, doing the writing full time. 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for three years now.

What inspired you to start writing novels for your chosen genre?

I didn’t have a luxury of choosing my genre. I’m afraid the genre chose me ;)
Besides the fact that I wanted to sell millions of copies and become wealthy rich :) I had a story to tell that maybe could help to change peoples' often ignorant attitude  towards problems of  the sex industry, victims of which usually are young inexperienced women. I wanted the reader to realize that those working girls are humans... They dream, love or suffer the same way as anyone's girlfriend, sister or daughter.
Are there any other genres you’ve written?
No. Twisted is my debut novel and I’m currently writing a sequel to it, which is naturally in the same genre. 
Are you working on anything new right now and can you tell us more?

As I already mentioned, I’m busy with my second book now – Crave – in which the sisters are going to explore all the twists and turns of South African sex industry.

Can you offer any advice to the fledgling authors, just starting out?

As Richard Bach once said: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

Do you have a favourite quote, if so what is it?

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde

What is your preferred method of writing:-  The plot pre-planned from day one, or just go with the flow and see what happens next?

I plot the story to stay focused but as the writing goes I change it all the time. To be spontaneous – that’s what makes me savour and truly enjoy my affair with my computer, turning every day of boring routine into an exciting date.
Do you have any input in the Cover design of your novel?
I’m a control freak and a perfectionist, therefore, I’ve got an input in everything about my book. I’ve directed the photo shoot for the cover of Twisted, post processed the image myself. And I’m going to do the shoot for the cover of Crave totally myself. Busy working on it already J
Tell us one thing that no-one else knows about you – your darkest secret if you dare!

Funny enough, the whole book is full of my darkest secrets, so you’d have to read it in order to learn about them – if you dare! ;)

Can you tell us why you think we’d love to read your novel?

Because everybody loves the darkest secrets.

If you don’t like a character you’re writing about, what do you do?
            a. Kill them off instantly
             b. Get over it and learn to like them
             c. Give them a whole new personality
            d. or something else – do tell?! Please!

Most of my characters are freaks and perverts, sometimes even brutal. And I often hate them and wish I could kill them all! LOL

But unfortunately, as it usually happens in life, they remain unpunished. I believe in Karma and hope it will do its job.

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Many thanks to Lola for joining us today and I do hope you enjoy her novel


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Hot Houston Nights Part Two Cover Reveal with SN Garza

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Title: Hot Houston Nights: Graham & Isabella PART 2
Author: S. N. Garza
Genre: Erotic Romance
Expected Release Date: Jan. 24, 2015
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours

Blurb: 

How do two soul mates stay away from each other? Simple. They don't. Not long after their one night, both Graham and Isabella both long for more. Fate lead them back to each other and they aren't letting go. Their passions run high and Graham wants to take it to the next level. Until Isabella gets taken. As she hangs on for dear life, is she strong enough to save herself? Or, does she fall to her doom, never to see Graham again?
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S. N. Garza is from Southeast Houston, Texas, with her husband and two small children. She is a full time Chilihead employee at Chili's Bar & Grill. Author of steamy, sexy, sinfully beautiful stories about strong alpha men and the women who fall for them.
When she's not taking care of her family, working her tail off at her all day job, you can find her writing well into the night, and reading another steamy romance novel, attaining another fictional boyfriend.
Remember
Where the men are strong, the women, stronger.


Author Links:

Twitter: @SNGarza_author
Amazon author link: Amazon.com/author/stephanienicolegarza Author page: www.facebook.com/Stephanienicolelg

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I opened my door and before anyone else spotted us, shoved him inside. When you he lock clicked in place, I felt him come up behind me.
“No one’s gonna hear us right now, are they?” His warm breath over my ear made me shiver and everything around me seemed to heighten in response.
“Ha-ha. Ha-ha. I don’t think so. I’ve never tested out the wall strength.”
I felt his rock hard cock against me and my eyes shut at the hard strength. I knew without a doubt I wanted another go and I might just get it right now.
His hands caressed and tendered some of the tension in my shoulders before caressing down my back, tracing my curves until his fingers found their way into the band of my jeans.
His lips found the pressure point on my neck, kissing a line up to my ear before tugging on it gently.
His hands were warm as they skirted back and forth and then he undid my belt with swift, easy proficiency.
“Okay, sweetness?”
“Yes!” My mouth hissed out the reply and I just wanted him to hurry. He was making my blood boil. He skimmed down my jeans and panties until they were resting tightly around my thighs. I didn't need him to check to see if I was wet. I already felt my arousal leaking from my core, coating my vagina and inner thighs.
But he did anyway. His hand was hot to the touch as he slipped two fingers between my legs, circulating my juices and drawing his fingers up to my clit where he tried gripping it, but my slickness would only allow hard pressured massaging.
“Fuck, you're so damn wet for me. Keep your legs spread just like this for me. ‘Kay, sweetness?”
I nodded my head and leaned it against the door. His hands drew up my shirt and he tossed it over his shoulder. I felt his fingers dance down my neck and shoulder blades to unclasp my plain (ugh. Have to buy sexy under things) bra and threw it towards my shirt. The swift coolness toughened my nipples until they were stiff peaks.
Graham didn't tease them but instead, he cupped my breasts and massaged the swells until my breath was unbalanced. Then his hands fell away and I heard rustling behind me. Unbuckling, unzipping, and something being ripped open.
Whoa. Was he really going to take me like this? So barbaric and wild? Did I want him to?
My answer?
Hell freaking yes

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Harmony Run Series Blog Tour with Sarah Elle Emm

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The Book Blog Tour

for

 Harmony Run Series

by

Sarah Elle Emm

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Genre: YA Dystopian/Fantasy
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours

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Harmony Run Series:
PRISMATIC (May 2012)
OPALESCENT (February 2013)
CHATOYANT (September 2014)
NACREOUS (Coming 2015)

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PRISMATIC:

Rare glimpses of birds are the only reminder of the freedoms Rain Hawkins once had. Now segregated into a mixed-race zone within the United Zones of the Authority, under tyrannical rule of President Nicks, Rain is forced to endure the bleak conditions set upon her. The possibility of a way out arises when Rain discovers an organized resistance called The Freedom Front, and learns that she, along with many other multi-racial people, has special abilities. Determined to overcome her situation, Rain sets out on a mission with the resistance that will fill her life with wonder, romance, and the undying hope for a better world.





OPALESCENT:

Still enslaved in a mixed-race zone within the United Zones of the Authority, Rain Hawkins is part of a secret resistance preparing to take on the tyrannical President Nicks before plans to kill the mixed zones across UZTA are executed. When unsettling dreams and a mysterious voice begin to haunt the dark nights, Rain fears someone more powerful than she has discovered the resistance and their secret abilities. With a known Authority spy on her heels, and her boyfriend, Jabari, suddenly acting strange, Rain doesn’t know who to trust and if the voices calling to her are friend or foe. As conditions across all of the zones get worse and the stakes rise, Rain embarks on a quest for answers that will put the people she cares about most in more danger or take them one step closer to the truth and their eventual freedom.





CHATOYANT:

In the wake of an interrogation led by the UZTA’s dictator, President Nicks, Rain Hawkins and her friends must deal with the consequences of their defiance as the countdown continues towards the execution of the mixed-zone citizens across the United Zones of The Authority. The Freedom Front faces new challenges as Rain’s cousin, Calista, prepares for her impending relocation to the pure zone, and Rain sets out to solve the mystery surrounding her mother’s torment while being followed by an officer of the Elizabeth Guard. As she uses her abilities to dodge The Authority and follows the strange clues from her dreams, Rain is determined to persevere, to secure the future she and Jabari have been fighting for, and to earn The Freedom Front’s ultimate goal of liberation.

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Author Bio:

Sarah Elle Emm is the author of the HARMONY RUN SERIES, a young-adult fantasy and dystopian series, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. (PRISMATIC, May 2012, OPALESCENT, February 2013, CHATOYANT, September 2014, NACREOUS set for release August 2015) Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, an Amazon Best Seller in marriage, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Her love of journal writing, travel, and multicultural experience have all influenced her novels. Sarah lives in Naples, Florida with her husband, Chef and Restaurateur Charles Mereday, and their two daughters. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship or snapping photos of Southwest Florida scenery, she is writing.

Join her website blog for book updates and enjoy her photo blog, Sarah’s View from the Bottom.  Sarah is also on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. Visit her Chef Husband’s restaurant website here. Sarah’s novels are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Author Links:



Buy Links:



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Excerpts:

Prismatic excerpt:

“We have to go now, my young ones. We can’t let them take this away from us. So be quiet, be brave, leave as you normally do, and come back next week on Wednesday instead. Oh, and most importantly, keep hope alive, young ones. Remember the trials of Nelson Mandela this week. Imagine what he overcame on his quest for freedom. Peace be with you.”
“Peace be with you, Takara,” we said in unison.
Takara hobbled up the steps, leaning on her cane until she disappeared from our view, and we stood up to follow her. Daktari, Zi, and I would all buy some canned peas or corn with the small amount of money we had to take home to our parents. Our parents didn’t know about the meetings we went to, but they didn’t see anything wrong with us helping shop at the market, especially Mom since she was afraid of everything. Also, they knew we hated to stay cooped up in the small apartment and we wouldn’t be forced to work the hours they worked until our eighteenth birthdays.
“I’m picking out the vegetable today, Rain. I refuse to eat green beans again,” said Daktari, before jogging up the steps.
Zi followed him a few seconds later, and I started to go after her, afraid to look at Jabari again, but Jabari grabbed my hand as I started up the steps. “Rain, wait a second.”
I turned around, staring into his eyes now that I was nearly level with them from my spot on the step above him. I wondered if he could hear the drumming of my heart. “Yes?” I asked, my voice unusually small.
“I have to see you again.” He said it like it was a necessity. Like I was a medicine that he had to have or he would get sick. His hand felt strong and comforting.
“Okay,” I heard my voice agree readily. “I’ll see you here next Wednesday?” It was more of a prayer than a question. I had to see him too, but I wasn’t sure why I needed to see him so bad. Standing so close, I could practically feel his breath on my face. I felt like a force beyond us was pulling me towards him. I wanted to lean all of the way into him and forget about the world.
“No, sooner. Friday. How about I run with you?”
“Okay,” I heard my suddenly small voice agree way too quickly. I really didn’t even know him, after all. And my parents certainly wouldn’t be thrilled about me running with a guy I hardly knew. I withdrew my hand from his, afraid he would feel my pulse quickening and make this even more awkward, assuming that were possible.
“I’ll be waiting a block up from your house when you leave to run. Seven-thirty sound good?”
“Yeah. But you don’t know where I live,” I commented.
He grabbed my hand again. “I wanted to make sure the Droid Dogs didn’t hurt you the other night, so I followed you home.”  
I stared into his eyes, speechless. He had followed me home? He was worried about me? I tried to swallow and relieve my dry throat. “Okay, see you Friday.” I didn’t want to, but I knew it was time to go. I had to walk out of the store with Daktari and Zi in case the Droid Dogs were watching from up the block.
“Rain, try and stay out of trouble before Friday, okay?” A smile spread across his gorgeous face and he chuckled.
“I don’t exactly look for trouble, you know,” I said, a little defensively.
He squeezed my hand before I could grab it away from his. “I know. Trouble finds you. You have a lot of spirit. Takara is right about you.”
I was starting to turn away from him, but I stopped short. “What do you mean?”
“Tell you on Friday, Rainchild.” He smiled easily. And my heart sped up again.
“Goodbye, Jabari. It was nice to meet you.”
“Don’t say goodbye like we won’t meet again. The Authority wants us to be scared. It’s how they control us so easily. Look forward to tomorrows. Otherwise, they’ve already won. I’ll see you Friday.”
“Friday,” I said softly, finally prying myself away from him and up the steps. He was right. That was the same sort of thing I told Daktari all of the time, but of course, my family and I were determined to make each farewell important in case it was the last. My mom had already given up hope of a better tomorrow and if we weren’t careful, we could end up just like her. Jabari was right.
I was going to see him on Friday. My stomach flipped. I tried not to let the smile spread across my face. Zi was waiting for me at the cash register.
“Sweet peas and two baked potatoes, Rain...How’s that for success?” asked Daktari.
“You found two potatoes? Wow, we’re going to be eating good tonight, Daktari.”
“Yeah, but I need the rest of your money to get the potatoes. I only have twenty dollars. The prices have gone up again,” he said, holding out his palm to me.
I fished five dollars with Elizabeth Nicks’s face on them out of my pocket and handed them to Zachary.
“Tell your parents I said hello, kids,” he said as he handed us our groceries. Zi had gotten a can of mixed vegetables.
“We will. Thanks, Zachary,” said Daktari.
“Stay safe out there, kids,” he said as we left.
Once outside, Daktari talked the short walk home about the sweet
peas and potatoes my family was going to have for dinner. Zi eyed me suspiciously. “I didn’t see you walking around the store, Rain. Something on your mind?”
“No, nothing,” I said quickly.
Everything, I thought. Jabari needed to see me again. He grabbed my hand and held it. Twice. It felt like a gravitational force was pulling me towards him. My stomach felt like it had butterflies in it, and I became crazy around him. My heart betrayed my private thoughts with its ridiculously loud hammering when he was close. He was going to meet me the day after tomorrow to run with me. He had followed me home. He was worried about me...
“Rain? Hello? Where are you?” asked Zi.
“Huh?”
“I said, I’ll see you in the morning, I guess. You going on a run tonight?” Zi asked. We were standing at the steps to our building. I had walked home in a complete daze.
“Oh yeah, want to run with me?”
“I’d rather let the Droid Dogs chew on my foot, thank you very much.”
I laughed, rolling my eyes at Zi. “I’m telling you, girl, it’s liberating. Running is the best way to relieve stress. It makes me feel good,” I said, smiling.
“I think the reason you feel good right now has nothing to do with running, girl.”
My face flushed red, and Zi winked at me.
“What’s she talking about?” asked Daktari. “Oh yeah, you’re excited about the potatoes we’re having for dinner, right?”
“Yes, Daktari,” I said, ignoring Zi’s laughter. “Potatoes, I’m excited about those potatoes.”

Excerpt compliments of Winter Goose Publishing

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Opalescent excerpt:

The voices of Zi, Daktari, Cole, and Marcello echoed softly down the corridor from our underground meeting place, but I was too anxious to join them. Waiting in the shadows, specks of light casting a soft glow into the corridor from the solar lights Cole had lit for TFF’s meeting, I stood beside the iron ladder, desperate for the hatch to open and Jabari to climb down. Once he was safe inside of the storm shelter with me, the bulk of my anxiety would fade away, if only for a while. When I had seen him a block behind me, moments ago out in the street, my nerves and senses had shot into overdrive. I had forced my feet to keep trekking so I could enter the hideout as usual, as we all did to protect our secret. The mere sight of him and the knowledge that his eyes were on me as I walked ahead, had caused its usual effect of craziness on my mind and body. Once inside our hideout, Marcello had jumped into his account of what he had seen outside of the market, giving my friends all of the gory details of the spiders he had seen crawling away from Darryl and the aftermath of what I had done. But I couldn’t listen. I had fled back to the tunnel entrance to wait for Jabari.
I needed to get the tightness in my chest to go away, and Jabari was the cure. The past two weeks had been challenging at home. Keeping our relationship a secret from my mother, who adamantly refused to allow me to see Jabari, meant trying not to smile constantly around the apartment as if I were a teenager in love, especially after my nightly run with him. Not that Mom would have noticed. Before, reading one of the few antique books we had managed to bring to the zone with us would have comforted her and was how she coped with life, but lately, she rarely turned a page. She sat staring blankly for hours sometimes, only moving a little when Dad got home from his late shift at the hover manufacturing plant. I wasn’t sure how, but Daktari and I needed to figure out a way to get her to snap out of her depression. She was moments away from slipping away for good. I could feel it.
The slight sound of metal scraping across metal just above me and light peeking in stirred me from my thoughts, and hope swelled in my chest as Jabari closed the entrance and climbed soundlessly down the ladder. Through the dim light I studied his light brown skin, short black hair and long limbs. I recalled the first time his dark brown eyes had studied me from across the street, and tried not to sigh at the memory. The guy was so handsome it made me self-conscious, even in the shadows. I imagined pinching myself to see if this was real. Was he really mine?
As he stepped off of the ladder and turned to me, he looked deep in thought with his brows crunched together, but his face relaxed when he saw me waiting for him. “Rain.”
My heart melted when he spoke my name, the relief and longing clear in his tone, and took two steps towards me, picking me up effortlessly, his super strength one of his abilities. He really was mine.
“Finally,” I murmured into his neck, wrapping my arms around him. My feet dangled off the ground since he was over six-foot-three. He was hugging me tighter than usual, but I didn’t mind. The uneasiness faded away. In his arms, the world felt good again. He slowly released his hold on me and lowered my feet to the floor.
I felt his breath on the tip of my nose as he leaned down to me. “It’s only been eighteen hours since we ran last night, but it felt like an eternity.”
“Tell me about it,” I whispered back, my arms resting comfortably around his waist now.
“My girlfriend, the brown recluse whisperer. That was…”
“Creepy?” I volunteered.
“I was going to say fierce. You are fierce, Rain.”
“We had better get in there. I’m sure they are waiting on us…” I said, shy all of a sudden from his compliment.
“May I kiss you, Rain?”
The shyness was gone in an instant. Funny how he had such an effect on me. “Is this the Indy Mixed Zone?”
He chuckled before closing the two inches between us and brushing his lips to mine. My mind fell into a tailspin, and I wondered if I was really spinning. The chaotic worries I had been obsessing about in my mind, spun away, one by one, with the room around me. Mom, Daktari, Maha, Darryl, our death sentence… And then it was just me and Jabari, the gentle strength of his mouth dissolving the dark world of my existence.
            Someone coughed at the other end of the corridor. “Hola, people…It’s not like we don’t have important things to do.”
Jabari’s lips broke away from mine, and we turned our heads towards Marcello. He swept one hand through his cheek-length black hair off of his face and continued ranting. “It’s just a revolution. You know, six teenagers save the world before our execution in seven months? You guys just take your time and kiss. No big deal. Romance rules. Revolutions drool . . . Vive el Amor!” His hands shot up in a V-shape at his final proclamation, using the native tongue of his Mexican father, and dropped again as he turned away to enter our storm shelter meeting space.
Even in his rant he appeared handsome. He was multi-racial like us and not quite as tall as Jabari, but still over six feet and was naturally muscular. But I would sooner turn myself into Metro Prison for conspiracy than admit that to Marcello, our resident flirt and ladies man.
Jabari took my hand firmly in his, and through the shadows I could see his mouth curving into a perfect grin. “Shall we?”
I couldn’t help but smile back. “After you, leader of the revolution.”

Excerpt compliments of Winter Goose Publishing

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Chatoyant excerpt:

Droid Dogs growled throughout the crowd, “Everyone back home!” one ordered.
Daktari and Jabari pulled Takara to her feet, handing her the wooden cane she used for walking. Takara tapped the cane lightly on the street. “Think I’ll keep it. Might come in handy someday if I need to defend myself.” She winked at me as I rose to my feet.
I stared dumbstruck at her, searching for words. She had almost died, and now she was joking around, acting like everything was normal. Takara leaned closer. “Peace be with you, children. Now go. The droids are coming…”
“Meet you at home, Rain,” Daktari kissed the top of my head and took off, guiding Zi beside him.
One by one, The Freedom Front dispersed, but I stood frozen, taking in the frenzied scene. In the aftermath of our ruler’s first in-person visit to our zone in over four years, people were panicking, crying, and running in all directions. The madness began to blur around me as my thoughts took a turbulent turn of their own. Where did the great horned owl come from? Did Nata know that her plan to kill Takara hadn’t worked out? Would she come back if she knew? And how in the world did we stand a chance against her when she had just demonstrated how easily she controls people? I couldn’t resist her powers.
A strong hand clutched mine, yanking me into the maze of people. My feet followed in autopilot, but my mind raced on.
Jabari’s voice sounded irritated, lugging me from my worries. “What were you thinking? I can’t believe you ran to the fountain, Rain. She could have killed you.”
As he guided me through the crowd, I realized for the first time how terrified he must have been when I took off to help Takara. Sadness lingered in his brown eyes. We had been talking about our future plans together when I had taken off, leaving him in the dust. Some soul mate I was turning out to be. I had chosen to help Takara over playing it safe. Basically, I had chosen to help her and by doing so, had chosen her over Jabari, Daktari, and my family for that matter. What would they all be going through right now if I hadn’t made it out alive? “I’m sorry. I freaked out.”
“How am I supposed to keep you safe? Why do you have to be the hero all the time? You can’t save everyone, Rain.”
Irritation rushed through me at his last statement. Wasn’t that the point? To try to save everyone? Especially the people who couldn’t stand up for themselves? “It was Takara. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, Jabari. And I know it was rash, but we’ve got bigger problems. Nata controlled me and Takara. She’s powerful. How are we supposed to beat her? And then there’s her,” I finished, gesturing across the street.
Jabari’s gaze settled on Aleela, the spy. She wasn’t much taller than Zi, scrawny like the rest of us, and her wavy black hair fell to her shoulders. Her eyes were huge, filled with horror, as she hurried past us in the opposite direction. Jabari said she had changed, but she had just told Nata that Takara was the one who probably freed her prisoner.
Jabari halted mid-stride, grabbing my shoulder so I would face him. His expression softened. “I promise, she won’t be a problem for us anymore. She caved under Nata’s power and gave Takara’s name up, but she’s on our side now, Rain. I’m sure of it. And I’m sorry if I sound upset.” His eyes clouded with emotions. “I was scared. I am scared. I can’t lose you.” He brushed a lock of my curls from my face and rested his hand on my neck. My pulse sped up in its usual manner from his touch. “I know I can’t control you, but please, be more careful, will you?”
Emotions rolled through me as he gazed into my eyes. Forgiving Jabari for the weeks of agony he put me through while I thought he was falling for Aleela hadn’t been easy, but I’d done it. But the idea of trusting Aleela after her role in Takara’s interrogation made my stomach burn. I had just seen Nata in action, so I knew he was right about Aleela not having a choice. But still. Was I the only one who was angry with her? And he was asking me to trust her? To just let it go? And he wanted me to be more careful. But if Aleela hadn’t betrayed us, I never would have had to risk my life in the first place. As I struggled to say what Jabari wanted to hear, I noticed an Elizabeth Guard staring at us and heading in our direction. Human officers were few and far between in our zone, and it was rare to see one outside of Metro Prison or their headquarters at the Town Hall. Of course, he was likely hanging around the entire time Nata had been in our zone. Uneasiness filled me anew…Any interest a human guard had in me and Jabari was not good. We needed to disappear and fast.
“I promise to be more careful. Don’t look now, but there is a guard watching us,” I blurted.
Jabari shot a look over his shoulder.
“Hey, I said not to look,” I scolded.
Jabari clutched my hand, starting to jog again. “I’m not taking any chances with you and your safety anymore. And he is watching us, you’re right. Let’s lose him on the next corner. If he shows up again, we’ll know we’ve got problems. Maybe he’s just trying to clear the streets and restore order. But if he is a problem, he’s our problem, you understand? We’re in this together, Rain.”
“Okay,” I mumbled.
As we jogged, the tension dissolved a little, and Jabari looked down at me. “We’re going to survive this, soul mate. I promise.” He smiled at me encouragingly, and I wanted to pretend he had made me feel reassured.
“I hope you’re right, Jabari…”
But even as we put more distance between us and our pursuer, doubts filled my head. Nata had left our zone without the traitor she sought in custody. She had scared the people here, sure. But would she be back to continue the interrogation? Did this guard have something to do with it? Or was he following us for another reason completely? And was he following Jabari and me? Jabari alone? Or just me?

Excerpt compliments of Winter Goose Publishing

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