Sunday, July 31, 2016

~~BOOK REVIEW~~ The Gifted Thief by Helen Harper



Gifted Thief (Highland Magic #1)

Blurb:
Orphan. Runaway. Thief.

Since the moment I was ripped from my mother's womb, I've been an outcast amongst my own kind. The Sidhe might possess magical Gifts, unbelievable wealth and unfathomable power but I don't want a thing to do with them. I ran away from their lands in the Highlands of Scotland when I was eleven years old and I've never looked back. I don't need a Clan. I've got my own family of highly skilled thieves who mean more to me than any Sidhe ever could.

Unfortunately for me, the playboy heir to the Moncrieffe Clan has something I desperately need. To get it back, I'm going to have to plunge myself back into that world, no matter what the consequences may be. I suppose it's just as well I have sense of humour. I think I'm going to need it. 

My Review:
~5 out of 5 Stars~

One of the first things I noticed about this book was how cool it was that the author didn’t choose a fantasy world, or a modern day world.  Instead, she chose a combination of both.  It was a really cool take on what it would be like if modern day Scotland was ALMOST like it is today – modern conveniences, similar transportation systems, types of jobs, etc.  The only difference was that there was a different class system and government.  Oh yeah…and the upper class/government were Sidhe (fairies) with magical gifts.  If gives a whole different outlook on what life would be like if you add a little magic, and a few other characters that weren’t fully human either.  This book proved life would definitely be more interesting.

I loved all of the characters the author developed in this book, which added more feeling of where her family really was, who her friends really were, and who definitely were not her friends.  And don’t even get me started on Bob…I won’t give it away, but you’ll love him and totally not trust him at the same time.

And of course, there’s Integrity, the main character.  Her life started out super horrible, but it never defined her – certainly not in the way you would expect.  Instead, she decided her childhood would NOT define her, and from a very young age decided on her own who her family would be, and what her life would be.  She wouldn’t let the Sidhe decide for her.  And she’s FUNNY.  In fact, I would absolutely love it if the author did a separate book of just a list of Integrity’s cheesy jokes.  Every time I came across one, I read them to my daughter, so we could both laugh.


I was surprised by how fast this book went, and I was so sad when it ended.  Of course, within seconds, I went ahead and purchased the next book to find out what happens next.  I have a feeling we’re just getting started in finding out what Integrity is capable of, and who she is – and she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.  Especially with those that she considers family by her side.  I can’t wait to see what they’re up to next!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

~FREEBIE BOOK BLITZ! ~ Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things by Martina McAtee


Title: Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things
Author: Martina McAtee 
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.



Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack chihuahua's and two shady looking cats. When she isn't writing young adult books about worlds with reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures she's reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things released in August of 2015. Her second book in the Dead Things series, Dark Dreams and Dead Things, will release July 15, 2016.

Author Links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MartinaMcAtee1

Buy Links:
#Free with KindleUnlimited
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4L4NH
Dark Dreams and Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4KVtH








Wednesday, July 27, 2016

~BLOG TOUR with REVIEW and EXCERPT ~ Run For Freedom by Angela Kay Austin









Run For Freedom
By Angela Kay Austin

Blurb:

The choice was to run for freedom or die never having been valued as a human -- as a woman. The penalty was the same -- death!

Freedom and her brother, Triumph, would fight for their lives and the lives of the ones whom they loved no matter the cost. Escaping bondage meant they must RUN! Run to Moses. Run to the Promised Land.

Watson Brown knew all too well the struggle to survive. The fight to live. He had been given a second chance to do what he had failed to do in life -- as a human. What he and his father could not do before the Harpers Ferry Raid.

The runaway slave and her brother were a distraction.

He could afford no interferences with his mission. He nor his family could risk exposure.



Available for purchase at 

      


Excerpt

They had been discovered. It did not matter how, but someone
noticed the Negro servant and the white man. They did not know she was a woman
dressed as a man, nor that the man with her was her brother. But, they knew
something was wrong. Why would a white man walk into the woods with a Negro?

They should have planned better. Anger filled her as she scolded
herself for her oversight. She and Triumph ran faster as more gunshots rang
out. He was bigger and stronger, but slower. She demanded her legs run faster.
“Faster, brother. Faster.” Her neck ached as she peered over her shoulder.

Men with dogs were quickly catching up to them.

A bullet whipped through the air, next to her ear, and buried
itself deep into the trunk of a great old tree. She glanced toward the heavens,
and then at the trees. The branches pointed to the path they must take, and the
wind at her back pushed her. She knew that she and her brother were running in
the right direction.

They ran faster.

Branches popped and snapped as they ripped at the sleeves of her
jacket. As her brother tossed his jacket, she tossed hers and her hat. The dogs
might be confused for a moment. Her brother touched her shoulder, and she knew
what he was about to do. He ran ahead of her and cut through low bushes away
from her. He veered his path away from hers, not because he was leaving her,
but because it would split the pack of dogs chasing them.

She kept running.

Running to the hidden river.

The woods thickened, the sun began to disappear, and the sky above
her darkened. They had not read the signs incorrectly. She stopped to take a
long deep inhale. The scent was stronger. Moist earth. Water. She ran, harder.
There had to be water somewhere, but as her legs tired, and her breaths
shortened, she began to doubt her instincts.

Before her eyes saw the water, her nose told her it was there.
Without thinking, she ran toward the smell of fresh wet earth. She stepped into
the low water, and stopped. Glancing up and down the hidden creek, her eyes
ached from the strain of searching through the trees for her brother.

Her chest tightened at the distant sound of dogs barking. Did
their loud growls and snarls mean they had captured Triumph? Were they
celebrating their kill? Instead of swimming to the other side, she turned to
run back to the spot she had last seen her twin.


Her brother burst through the thicket…



My Review
~~4 out of 5 stars~~

Admittedly, this story was difficult for me to rate.  Based on the first half of the book, I almost rated it 3 stars. For me (and this is purely my opinion), it felt like a very slow start, and there wasn’t very much action. 

However, the second half of the book did finally start to get better.  The second half had much more action, and without giving too much away, we started learning there was much more to all of the characters than we realized; their some of their back stories, many of their abilities, how much more difficult things would become for them, and that sometimes even the toughest warriors have their weaknesses.

By the end of the story, we find this is just the beginning, and there is more to come for those that we have come to know in this story.  When deciding if I would give the story 3 or 4 stars, it came down to whether or not I would read the story that comes next.  And although I can’t say for sure, I’m intrigued enough to see what happens that it’s very likely, so I gave the book 4 stars.

About the Author

Angela Kay Austin has always loved expressing herself creatively.  An infatuation with music led to years playing several instruments, some better than others.   A love for acting put her in front of a camera or two for her thirty seconds of fame before giving way to a degree and career in communications.  After completing a second degree in marketing, Angela found herself combining her love for all things creative and worked in promotions and events for many years. 

Today, Angela lives in her hometown in Tennessee with her really really really old dog, Midnight.








You can find Angela at 

            







Presented By


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

~BLOG TOUR! ~ Dark Dreams and Dead Things by Martina McAtee


Title: Dark Dreams and Dead Things
Author: Martina McAtee
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
17-year-old November Lonergan spent her whole life feeling like an outsider. She was right. She’s a reaper like her mother; like her two cousins, Kai and Tristin. The supernatural world believes they are part of a prophecy to save them from an evil known as the Grove. Ember just wants to survive high school and fix the fallout from bringing back her friend.

Old enemies are lurking; waiting for their opportunity to strike but the pack has a new problem. A group of legendary hunters has resurfaced, threatening the reapers and anybody who stands with them. They are making good on their threats too; attacking those closest to the pack.

Their only hope of defeating the Legionaries involves trusting a stranger to perform a dangerous spell to advance Ember and her cousin’s powers. But Ember has a secret; a secret she can’t tell the pack. One that leaves the pack vulnerable.

An attack on pack allies, leaves one member of the group injured and another missing, along with a mysterious girl named Evangeline who may play a bigger part in this than any of them realize. As the Legionaries are closing in, the pack must trust their enemies, enter hostile territories, and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a psychopath. Their entire plan lynches on a dangerous bargain, but rescuing one member of the pack could mean losing another in their place…possibly forever. 


Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack chihuahua's and two shady looking cats. When she isn't writing young adult books about worlds with reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures she's reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things released in August of 2015. Her second book in the Dead Things series, Dark Dreams and Dead Things, will release July 15, 2016.

Author Links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MartinaMcAtee1

Buy Links:
#Free with KindleUnlimited
Dark Dreams and Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4KVtH
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4L4NH

Chapter 1

Ember

“It would appear you owe me a new body, Luv.” 

November Lonergan stared at the ghost of her dead pseudo-boyfriend and contemplated how truly screwed up her life had become. Despite everything that happened that night, Mace was there, standing in her window, fading in and out, image static. She sighed from her toes, not sure how she felt about the situation. Of course he was there. 

He flickered, image strengthening as she got closer. There was still blood on his torn t-shirt but his silver hair looked cleaner than the last time she’d seen him. The symbols she’d painted on his skin were gone but the of scars layered across his torso remained. His dark brows were smudges over luminous silver eyes. He was beautiful even in death. 

She opened her mouth to say something but realized there was nothing at all suitable for this occasion. She’d already endured a blood ritual, two deaths, a knife fight and a resurrection; she didn’t know if she could handle anything else today. Her magic didn’t agree, it stretched and purred at Mace’s presence, reaching out for his power. Even death hadn’t severed their magic’s connection it seemed. She didn’t give in to the temptation to move closer. 

The heat of her magic and a bone deep exhaustion had her swaying on her feet. He moved towards her before seeming to remember he was of little use in his present condition. “You don’t look very well. Maybe you should sit down.” 

Ember nodded, not so much sitting as collapsing onto her pale pink bedspread. “Or you could lie down.” She heard Mace mutter. She yawned so hard her jaw cracked. She was still fully clothed but undressing seemed as impossible as climbing a mountain. She wiggled her toes. She needed to take her shoes off. She made a halfhearted attempt. “When did my feet get so far away?” 

He glanced at her feet. “They appear to be in the same place as always.” He walked back towards the window. “While you’re just lying about perhaps you could enlighten me on how exactly you plan to fix this disaster?”

Ember blinked up at him. Funny how quickly his affections turned. “An hour ago it was ‘do what you have to do, Luv. I could have loved you’ now it’s hurry up and fix this?”

He chuckled at her terrible impression of his accent. “I was trying to be noble and romantic in my final moments of existence. Now that I still exist, I think we’ve wasted enough time on sentiment.”

“Having your soul back obviously hasn’t made you a better person.”

“Did you think it would? I told you not to romanticize me. My soul was tarnished long before I gave it away.” Even as a glitchy apparition, she could see the moment her words sunk in. “Did you say my soul?”

He hadn’t realized what him appearing in her room meant. “Didn’t you wonder why you’re still here?”

“Certainly, but that wasn’t the answer I expected. How?”

Ember yawned again, eyelids drooping. “Can’t we talk about it tomorrow? I’m so tired.”

He gaped at her. “Seriously? You tell me I have a soul and now you want to go to sleep?”

“Yes. I’m tired. I’ve had a rather rough day.”

“Really? Did a witch force you to cut open your own stomach and create a mural with your own entrails? No? Then I win.”

Ember was too tired to play. “Drama queen.”

There was a long pause before he said. “You might consider a shower. You are still covered in blood. My blood specifically. Quite a lot actually.”

Ember groaned, looking down at herself with effort. She was pretty gross. She was so tired though. “If you weren’t a ghost I’d force you to carry me.”

There was a low chuckle. “Inviting me to shower with you? I’m sure that would go over quite well with the little alpha.”

Ember thought about the alpha werewolf currently downstairs cleaning the kitchen. After the night they’d all had, she doubted Isa would be concerning herself with such mundane things as teenage hormones. Could the wolves hear her talking to Mace? Could they hear Mace? See him? Did they think she was in here talking to herself? Could she only see him because she was a reaper? She had so many questions.

She rolled to her feet, grabbing her things and keeping her thoughts to herself. She hurried to the bathroom and locked the door. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and froze. He wasn’t lying. She was covered in blood, and not just his blood. Her bright orange curls were a tangled sweaty mess matted together with blood and who knows what else. There were dark smudges under her eyes, making her already pale skin look chalky under the soft white lights. Her violet eyes glowed--actually, glowed--like the wolves did mid shift. That was new. Had they been glowing since the ritual or was Mace’s presence sending her magic into hyper-drive?

She flipped the water on and stripped down, not even waiting for the water to heat up before stepping beneath the spray. She realized almost immediately her mistake. She muffled a scream, bouncing from one foot to the other under the frigid water, relaxing only when steam finally began to rise.

“So, tell me; how did I get back my soul?”

Ember gasped, slipping and yelping as her back hit the cold tiles. She stuck her head around the curtain. “There is a reason these doors lock.”

His smile was disarming. “There isn’t a lock in the world that would keep me away from you, Luv.”

She rolled her eyes, righting the navy and white shower curtain, absently wondering how much he could see in those white stripes. “That is like the most stalkery thing you’ve ever said to me and you rank really high on the creepy-lurker-stalker-guy meter.”

There was another throaty laugh. “I am starting to think this power has gone to your head. Five hours ago you were weeping at my side like a war widow.”

Her mouth fell open. She yanked the curtain back enough to level a glare at him. “Five hours ago, I thought I’d never see you again. Five hours ago, I thought I needed you. Five hours ago, I hadn’t known you’d been playing me the entire time. Remember? You’re the parasite and I’m the host. You needed me. You lied to me this whole time.”

He shrugged, incredulous. “Of course, I lied. I could hardly tell you the truth. You would have booted me into the abyss, which you ended up doing anyway, I might add.”

She made a noise of disgust. This was Mace with a soul. “I’m such an idiot.” She said, more to herself than him. He tilted his head, a hint of something behind his eyes, regret maybe? She didn’t give in, letting the curtain drop back into place, determined to ignore him.

She scrubbed herself quickly, alarmed at how little it bothered her to have this conversation with him while she was naked.

“I didn’t lie about my feelings for you, Luv; if that means anything?” “Hah.” Like she was going to believe anything he said now.

“I’m serious. If you believe nothing else. Believe I meant what I said.”

“You said you could love me. If you’d been capable. Well, apparently you were capable this whole time. So I don’t even know what to do with your half-assed confession of love.”

Why was she even talking about this? Maybe it was the shower curtain. It was like a confessional. It was so much easier to talk to somebody when you didn’t have to look at them.

“Half-assed?” He said, “I sacrificed myself so that our dear friend, Quinn, could have my body.”

Ember choked on her laugh. “Oh, please. You were kidnapped and tied to a chair with a gaping abdominal wound. It’s not like you volunteered for the job.” Ember’s eyes dropped to her feet, shuddering at the blood spiraling towards the drain.

Mace wasn’t done being offended. “Well, that hardly matters. Quinn’s soul is safely housed in my body and I’m…here? So you could at least tell me how this all came to be.”

Ember rolled her eyes. He was impossible. “Not that you deserve any sort of explanation but Ms. Josephine says I restored your soul the night we met in the cemetery.”

He was quiet for so long she caved and, yet again, pulled the curtain back enough to ensure he was still there. He stared at nothing, jaw slack. “I’ve had my soul the whole time?”

“Yep.” She couldn’t help but feel a bit smug about how wrecked he looked.

“You’re sure?”

She slathered conditioner into her hair. “That’s what Josephine thinks.”

“The swamp witch?”

“Oh, that’s right. You were dead. Josephine the swamp witch isn’t a witch at all. Well, maybe she’s a witch but she’s also an Oracle, because those are apparently a thing too. Oh, and Miller, my boss from the funeral home is actually Josephine’s brother and she’s had him, like, watching me this whole time and Donovan is her grandson.”

He sounded awed as he said, “Good Lord, how long have I been dead? I’ve clearly missed a lot.”

“You have no idea. Allister tried to kill me but Quinn saved me by stabbing Allister but as Allister was dying he forced Quinn to absorb his magic.”

“The human killed his own father to save you? I didn’t think he had it in him.”

“Former human.” She corrected. "Besides, Allister isn't dead."

"What? What do you mean? You just said Quinn killed him."

She hesitated before saying, "I revived him."

"Revived or resurrected?" Mace asked, leery.

"What's the difference?" Ember asked, deliberately avoiding answering.

"Reviving is CPR, resurrecting is bringing a soul back across the veil. Stop being evasive, Luv."

"Fine, I resurrected him."

"With a spell?"

"No" she said, tone casual. "With my hands."

She could hear his forced exhalation. “This is all very astonishing, even in our circle.”

Her heart did a strange skip at the word ‘our’. She was pathetic. She snagged the towel and wrapped it around herself.

“Why would they go to all this trouble to orchestrate this elaborate plan?”

She yanked the curtain open and stared at him. His eyes roamed her body, starting at her toes and working their way up. He grinned at her petulant expression. “Sorry, Luv. I’m dead, not blind. I’ve never been so jealous of a piece of cotton.”

She rolled her eyes. “Move, please.”

“Why? You can just walk right through me.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “I encourage it, in fact.”

When she didn’t take the bait he moved, following her back into her bedroom. “You didn’t answer my questions. So, what are you to two witches? Or a witch and an oracle?”

“They have a crazy theory.”

“Which is…?” he prompted in exasperation.

“They believe that Tristin, Kai and I are descendants of some ancient triple goddess.”

“The Morrigan?” Mace said, sounding like the breath had been punched from his lungs.

Ember narrowed her eyes. “Yes, exactly. They say there is some sort of prophecy. It’s insane. They are both insane.”

He watched her for a moment as she wriggled into her t-shirt and sleep shorts without revealing anything. She towel-dried her curls.

“I suppose it makes sense.”

“Nothing about this situation makes sense.” She told him, slipping between the sheets with a moan that bordered on obscene. She didn’t know what sex felt like but she bet it wasn’t as good as cold Egyptian cotton with a 700 thread count. She flipped her light off, amused as his spirit gave off a faint glow allowing her to see his annoyed expression.

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“We’ve had this conversation. Going to sleep.”

“You can’t. We have to figure this out.”

“Tomorrow.”

“What if I’m not here tomorrow?” He asked quietly.

Ember’s eyes jerked open, pulse tripping. She hadn’t thought about that. Could he cross over?

Would he want that? He’d been immortal for a very long time. “You mean what if you cross over? Could you? Is that something you’d want?”

He sounded sick when he said, “To be tortured for all eternity in the pits of hell? No, Luv, I’ll pass, thank you. Besides, soul or no, sluagh can’t cross over into the spirit world.”

“So why do you look so worried?”

“Because there are things far worse.”

“Worse than hell?”

“Aye. I told you before, nobody gets away with the things I did.”

“We’ll figure something out.” She said without thinking. Why was she still trying to help him? He really wasn’t her problem. All those squishy sad feelings she’d had after he was gone were quickly turning to something else. She didn’t know what to call it but it felt like it was burning a hole through her chest.

She reached out; her hand brushing his. Her magic shocked through her, causing them both to suck in a breath.

Again, that same spooked look. It made her shiver. What the hell could scare Mace?

“But we have to figure this out tonight.”

She wanted to tell him not to worry but she felt drugged, eyelids so heavy. “Tomorrow. I promise.”

“Ember.” Her name sounded like a plea but she was too far gone.

“Tomorrow.” She mumbled, already falling into sleep.




Friday, July 15, 2016

~RELEASE DAY! ~ Dark Dreams and Dead Things by Martina McAtee


Title: Dark Dreams and Dead Things
Author: Martina McAtee
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
17-year-old November Lonergan spent her whole life feeling like an outsider. She was right. She’s a reaper like her mother; like her two cousins, Kai and Tristin. The supernatural world believes they are part of a prophecy to save them from an evil known as the Grove. Ember just wants to survive high school and fix the fallout from bringing back her friend.

Old enemies are lurking; waiting for their opportunity to strike but the pack has a new problem. A group of legendary hunters has resurfaced, threatening the reapers and anybody who stands with them. They are making good on their threats too; attacking those closest to the pack.

Their only hope of defeating the Legionaries involves trusting a stranger to perform a dangerous spell to advance Ember and her cousin’s powers. But Ember has a secret; a secret she can’t tell the pack. One that leaves the pack vulnerable.

An attack on pack allies, leaves one member of the group injured and another missing, along with a mysterious girl named Evangeline who may play a bigger part in this than any of them realize. As the Legionaries are closing in, the pack must trust their enemies, enter hostile territories, and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a psychopath. Their entire plan lynches on a dangerous bargain, but rescuing one member of the pack could mean losing another in their place…possibly forever. 


Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack chihuahua's and two shady looking cats. When she isn't writing young adult books about worlds with reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures she's reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things released in August of 2015. Her second book in the Dead Things series, Dark Dreams and Dead Things, will release July 15, 2016.

Author Links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MartinaMcAtee1

Buy Links
#Free with KindleUnlimited
Dark Dreams and Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4KVtH
Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things: http://amzn.to/1Z4L4NH

Chapter 1 
Ember 
“It would appear you owe me a new body, Luv.”  

November Lonergan stared at the ghost of her dead pseudo-boyfriend and contemplated how truly screwed up her life had become. Despite everything that happened that night, Mace was there, standing in her window, fading in and out, image static. She sighed from her toes, not sure how she felt about the situation. Of course he was there.  

He flickered, image strengthening as she got closer. There was still blood on his torn t-shirt but his silver hair looked cleaner than the last time she’d seen him. The symbols she’d painted on his skin were gone but the of scars layered across his torso remained. His dark brows were smudges over luminous silver eyes. He was beautiful even in death.  

She opened her mouth to say something but realized there was nothing at all suitable for this occasion. She’d already endured a blood ritual, two deaths, a knife fight and a resurrection; she didn’t know if she could handle anything else today. Her magic didn’t agree, it stretched and purred at Mace’s presence, reaching out for his power. Even death hadn’t severed their magic’s connection it seemed. She didn’t give in to the temptation to move closer.  

The heat of her magic and a bone deep exhaustion had her swaying on her feet. He moved towards her before seeming to remember he was of little use in his present condition. “You don’t look very well. Maybe you should sit down.”  

Ember nodded, not so much sitting as collapsing onto her pale pink bedspread. “Or you could lie down.” She heard Mace mutter. She yawned so hard her jaw cracked. She was still fully clothed but undressing seemed as impossible as climbing a mountain. She wiggled her toes. She needed to take her shoes off. She made a halfhearted attempt. “When did my feet get so far away?”  

He glanced at her feet. “They appear to be in the same place as always.” He walked back towards the window. “While you’re just lying about perhaps you could enlighten me on how exactly you plan to fix this disaster?” 

Ember blinked up at him. Funny how quickly his affections turned. “An hour ago it was ‘do what you have to do, Luv. I could have loved you’ now it’s hurry up and fix this?”  

He chuckled at her terrible impression of his accent. “I was trying to be noble and romantic in my final moments of existence. Now that I still exist, I think we’ve wasted enough time on sentiment.” 

“Having your soul back obviously hasn’t made you a better person.” 

“Did you think it would? I told you not to romanticize me. My soul was tarnished long before I gave it away.” Even as a glitchy apparition, she could see the moment her words sunk in. “Did you say my soul?”  

He hadn’t realized what him appearing in her room meant. “Didn’t you wonder why you’re still here?” 

“Certainly, but that wasn’t the answer I expected. How?” 

Ember yawned again, eyelids drooping. “Can’t we talk about it tomorrow? I’m so tired.”  

He gaped at her. “Seriously? You tell me I have a soul and now you want to go to sleep?” 

“Yes. I’m tired. I’ve had a rather rough day.”  

“Really? Did a witch force you to cut open your own stomach and create a mural with your own entrails? No? Then I win.”  

Ember was too tired to play. “Drama queen.”  

There was a long pause before he said. “You might consider a shower. You are still covered in blood. My blood specifically. Quite a lot actually.”  

Ember groaned, looking down at herself with effort. She was pretty gross. She was so tired though. “If you weren’t a ghost I’d force you to carry me.”  

There was a low chuckle. “Inviting me to shower with you? I’m sure that would go over quite well with the little alpha.” 

Ember thought about the alpha werewolf currently downstairs cleaning the kitchen. After the night they’d all had, she doubted Isa would be concerning herself with such mundane things as teenage hormones. Could the wolves hear her talking to Mace? Could they hear Mace? See him? Did they think she was in here talking to herself? Could she only see him because she was a reaper? She had so many questions. 

She rolled to her feet, grabbing her things and keeping her thoughts to herself. She hurried to the bathroom and locked the door. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and froze. He wasn’t lying. She was covered in blood, and not just his blood. Her bright orange curls were a tangled sweaty mess matted together with blood and who knows what else. There were dark smudges under her eyes, making her already pale skin look chalky under the soft white lights. Her violet eyes glowed--actually, glowed--like the wolves did mid shift. That was new. Had they been glowing since the ritual or was Mace’s presence sending her magic into hyper-drive?  

She flipped the water on and stripped down, not even waiting for the water to heat up before stepping beneath the spray. She realized almost immediately her mistake. She muffled a scream, bouncing from one foot to the other under the frigid water, relaxing only when steam finally began to rise.  

“So, tell me; how did I get back my soul?”  

Ember gasped, slipping and yelping as her back hit the cold tiles. She stuck her head around the curtain. “There is a reason these doors lock.”  

His smile was disarming. “There isn’t a lock in the world that would keep me away from you, Luv.”  

She rolled her eyes, righting the navy and white shower curtain, absently wondering how much he could see in those white stripes. “That is like the most stalkery thing you’ve ever said to me and you rank really high on the creepy-lurker-stalker-guy meter.”  

There was another throaty laugh. “I am starting to think this power has gone to your head. Five hours ago you were weeping at my side like a war widow.”  

Her mouth fell open. She yanked the curtain back enough to level a glare at him. “Five hours ago, I thought I’d never see you again. Five hours ago, I thought I needed you. Five hours ago, I hadn’t known you’d been playing me the entire time. Remember? You’re the parasite and I’m the host. You needed me. You lied to me this whole time.”  

He shrugged, incredulous. “Of course, I lied. I could hardly tell you the truth. You would have booted me into the abyss, which you ended up doing anyway, I might add.”  

She made a noise of disgust. This was Mace with a soul. “I’m such an idiot.” She said, more to herself than him. He tilted his head, a hint of something behind his eyes, regret maybe? She didn’t give in, letting the curtain drop back into place, determined to ignore him.      

She scrubbed herself quickly, alarmed at how little it bothered her to have this conversation with him while she was naked.  

“I didn’t lie about my feelings for you, Luv; if that means anything?”  “Hah.” Like she was going to believe anything he said now.  

“I’m serious. If you believe nothing else. Believe I meant what I said.” 

“You said you could love me. If you’d been capable. Well, apparently you were capable this whole time. So I don’t even know what to do with your half-assed confession of love.”  

Why was she even talking about this? Maybe it was the shower curtain. It was like a confessional. It was so much easier to talk to somebody when you didn’t have to look at them.  

“Half-assed?” He said, “I sacrificed myself so that our dear friend, Quinn, could have my body.”  

Ember choked on her laugh. “Oh, please. You were kidnapped and tied to a chair with a gaping abdominal wound. It’s not like you volunteered for the job.” Ember’s eyes dropped to her feet, shuddering at the blood spiraling towards the drain.  

Mace wasn’t done being offended. “Well, that hardly matters. Quinn’s soul is safely housed in my body and I’m…here? So you could at least tell me how this all came to be.”  

Ember rolled her eyes. He was impossible. “Not that you deserve any sort of explanation but Ms. Josephine says I restored your soul the night we met in the cemetery.”  

He was quiet for so long she caved and, yet again, pulled the curtain back enough to ensure he was still there. He stared at nothing, jaw slack. “I’ve had my soul the whole time?” 

“Yep.” She couldn’t help but feel a bit smug about how wrecked he looked.  

“You’re sure?” 

She slathered conditioner into her hair. “That’s what Josephine thinks.”  

“The swamp witch?”  

“Oh, that’s right. You were dead. Josephine the swamp witch isn’t a witch at all. Well, maybe she’s a witch but she’s also an Oracle, because those are apparently a thing too. Oh, and Miller, my boss from the funeral home is actually Josephine’s brother and she’s had him, like, watching me this whole time and Donovan is her grandson.”  

He sounded awed as he said, “Good Lord, how long have I been dead? I’ve clearly missed a lot.”  

“You have no idea. Allister tried to kill me but Quinn saved me by stabbing Allister but as Allister was dying he forced Quinn to absorb his magic.”  

“The human killed his own father to save you? I didn’t think he had it in him.”  

“Former human.” She corrected. "Besides, Allister isn't dead."  

"What? What do you mean? You just said Quinn killed him."  

She hesitated before saying, "I revived him." 

"Revived or resurrected?" Mace asked, leery.  

"What's the difference?" Ember asked, deliberately avoiding answering. 

"Reviving is CPR, resurrecting is bringing a soul back across the veil. Stop being evasive, Luv."  

"Fine, I resurrected him."  

"With a spell?"  

"No" she said, tone casual. "With my hands."  

She could hear his forced exhalation. “This is all very astonishing, even in our circle.”  

Her heart did a strange skip at the word ‘our’. She was pathetic. She snagged the towel and wrapped it around herself.  

“Why would they go to all this trouble to orchestrate this elaborate plan?”  

She yanked the curtain open and stared at him. His eyes roamed her body, starting at her toes and working their way up. He grinned at her petulant expression. “Sorry, Luv. I’m dead, not blind. I’ve never been so jealous of a piece of cotton.”  

She rolled her eyes. “Move, please.”  

“Why? You can just walk right through me.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “I encourage it, in fact.”   

When she didn’t take the bait he moved, following her back into her bedroom. “You didn’t answer my questions. So, what are you to two witches? Or a witch and an oracle?”  

“They have a crazy theory.”  

“Which is…?” he prompted in exasperation. 

“They believe that Tristin, Kai and I are descendants of some ancient triple goddess.”  

“The Morrigan?” Mace said, sounding like the breath had been punched from his lungs.  

Ember narrowed her eyes. “Yes, exactly. They say there is some sort of prophecy. It’s insane. They are both insane.”  

He watched her for a moment as she wriggled into her t-shirt and sleep shorts without revealing anything. She towel-dried her curls.   

“I suppose it makes sense.”  

“Nothing about this situation makes sense.” She told him, slipping between the sheets with a moan that bordered on obscene. She didn’t know what sex felt like but she bet it wasn’t as good as cold Egyptian cotton with a 700 thread count. She flipped her light off, amused as his spirit gave off a faint glow allowing her to see his annoyed expression.  

“What are you doing?” He asked. 

“We’ve had this conversation. Going to sleep.”  

“You can’t. We have to figure this out.”  

“Tomorrow.”  

“What if I’m not here tomorrow?” He asked quietly. 

Ember’s eyes jerked open, pulse tripping. She hadn’t thought about that. Could he cross over? 

Would he want that? He’d been immortal for a very long time. “You mean what if you cross over? Could you? Is that something you’d want?” 

He sounded sick when he said, “To be tortured for all eternity in the pits of hell? No, Luv, I’ll pass, thank you. Besides, soul or no, sluagh can’t cross over into the spirit world.”  

“So why do you look so worried?”  

“Because there are things far worse.”  

“Worse than hell?”   

“Aye. I told you before, nobody gets away with the things I did.” 

“We’ll figure something out.” She said without thinking. Why was she still trying to help him? He really wasn’t her problem. All those squishy sad feelings she’d had after he was gone were quickly turning to something else. She didn’t know what to call it but it felt like it was burning a hole through her chest.  

She reached out; her hand brushing his. Her magic shocked through her, causing them both to suck in a breath.  

Again, that same spooked look. It made her shiver. What the hell could scare Mace?  

“But we have to figure this out tonight.”  

She wanted to tell him not to worry but she felt drugged, eyelids so heavy. “Tomorrow. I promise.”  

“Ember.” Her name sounded like a plea but she was too far gone.  

“Tomorrow.” She mumbled, already falling into sleep.