Sunday, April 30, 2017

~NEW RELEASE!~ Wounded Heart ~ by L.L. Hunter


Title: Wounded Heart
Author: L.L. Hunter 
Genre: YA dystopian/ post- apocalyptic
Cover Designer: Desiree DeOrto
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
They might have killed her, but they will never break her

After the death of Blossom, the girl she called her sister

Skye’s heart has been shattered and she’s out for revenge.

But not if Lukas has anything to do about it.

Skye is not only fighting the feelings she has for Lukas, but the deep rage in her heart.

A rage that will put everyone in danger if Skye can’t find a way to make peace with her demons.

In the much anticipated second instalment of the Molten Heart Saga,

War rages on.

Will Lukas heal Skye’s heart in time?



L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. 

She has been writing since her teens - everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog - http://llhunter.blogspot.com.au


Buy Links:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2qq0otp


Friday, April 28, 2017

~REVIEW BLITZ~ Love On the Prairie ~ by Ciara Knight


Title: Love on the Prairie
Author: Ciara Knight
Genre: Historical, Western Romance
Cover Designer: Clarissa Yeo
Editor: Cora Artz and Emily Sewell
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
Abigail McKinnie refuses to allow her sisters to be dispersed across the nation as mail order brides. Despite the fact the union soldiers took everything from them during their march through Atlanta-their lands scorched, house burned, food stolen-she won’t give up. With a plan in place, she sets out for Kansas to her second cousin under the guise of marriage. But instead, she plans to convince him that the seven of them can help run the homestead for him. Her plan is full proof, until she makes the arduous journey to discover he’s dead.

Owen Baker vows to never have a woman in his life again after the death of so many in his life, but when Abigail McKinnie struts onto his land claiming ownership on behalf of her dead cousin, he’s dumbfounded by her drive and beauty. Despite her abilities and their attraction, he vows to throw her over his horse to deliver her to the first train home the minute she recuperates from her trip.

Faced with living in a small dugout through storms, Indian attacks, and violent gunmen, they realize they must work together to save the homestead, the last hope for the McKinnie sisters and Owen’s heart. But when their attraction becomes more formidable than the surrounding elements, they will have to overcome their fear or lose everything.


I think it's only fair to start this review with the admission that I really don't tend to gravitate towards books that are straight romance. The only romance I usually read is the paranormal type. BUT, in this case, I knew this author. I knew there was going to be nothing typical or cheesy about this read. And frankly, anything based in the Civil War era intrigues me, because there was so much more to it that didn't make the war as simple as our history books have made it sound. Nor was the westward expansion that was going on at the same time. Americans during this time period had to work HARD to survive, no matter where they were, who they were battling, or if they were trying desperately to avoid battles altogether.

I could not have been more right about trusting this author and where she would take this story. If you're looking for steamy romance, this book isn't where you'll find it, but you definitely won't need it. This author did her research -- like you wouldn't believe the details. I don't think there's anything she DIDN'T research. From the first page, you immediately FEEL the hardships those that were in the middle of the war (literally) dealt with. It didn't even matter if they chose to be a part of the war -- pure location of their home made them a part of it. And the women had more hardships than I realized, as men in the families -- sometimes all of them -- died in the war, leaving the women to take care of entire plantations alone. If they survived it. Homes and land were burned, and the women were often left with nothing, sometimes being forced to be mail order brides in order to save their own lives or the lives of their families.

This is where Abigail's story begins. The eldest of her sisters, she heads to the prairies to marry someone she's never met, hoping he's not abusive or dangerous himself, and finds prairie life is a whole different type of difficult. The storms, the hard land, the wars with Indians, a different culture...and a man that's living on the land that she didn't expect, because he was working with the man she was supposed to marry...who died while she was traveling.

My absolute favorite part of this book is the fact that it wasn't a story of a hardened man, softened by the love of a woman, and they live happily ever after. Largely because it simply didn't work that way in that time. From the very beginning, with bleeding feet and building blisters, she fought to work the land every day, and prove that she didn't need this man's help, and she would never give up on saving her sisters from becoming mail order brides, being separated forever. She would build enough to get them there so they could work together to build their new home. This story was about an exceptionally strong woman, and a man that felt more affection towards her for her toughness and bravery.

Abigail found on a daily basis that there were more twists and turns that life, and other people in the town and the prairies would throw at her, and she not only rolled with the punches, but she did it in her own way...not the way others would expect. And along the way, she had the growing admiration and attention of the only man who's opinion mattered to her.

By the end of this book, I had such admiration for Abigail, Owen, and her other sisters. I found their strengths giving ME drive to do better in life. This was the perfect combination of true history, and being able to really feel for myself the daily hardships, while being able to grow relationships that were both powerful and sweet. I can't wait to read the next book, which I assume is the next sister's adventures, and find how she overcomes her own obstacles and past horrors.


Ciara Knight writes with a ‘Little Edge and a Lot of Heart’ with her contemporary and paranormal romance books. Her most recent #1 Amazon bestselling series, Sweetwater County, has topped the charts and received acclaimed reviews. Her international best-seller, Pendulum scored 4 stars from RT Book Reviews, accolades from InD’Tale Magazine and Night Owl Top Pick. Her young adult paranormal series, Battle for Souls, received 5 stars from Paranormal Romance Guild and Night Owl’s Top Pick, among other praises.




Author Links:

Buy Link:


Sunday, April 23, 2017

~REVIEW BLITZ with EXCERPT~ Petals by Laurisa White Reyes


Title: Petals
Author: Laurisa White Reyes
Genre: YA Suspense
Cover Designer: Emma Michaels
Publisher: Skyrocket Press

Blurb:
Some memories refuse to stay buried…
 
On Christmas Eve, a horrific car accident leaves Carly Perez without a mom. After a year of surgeries and counseling, Carly’s life is nearly back to normal—except for the monsters—vague, twisted images from the accident that plague her dreams. When her father insists on spending their first Christmas alone in Guatemala with a slew of relatives Carly has never met, she is far from thrilled, but she reluctantly boards the plane anyway.

That’s where she first spots the man with the scarred face. She could swear she has seen him before. But when? Where?

In Reu, the Guatemalan town where her father grew up, Carly meets Miguel, her attractive step-cousin, and thinks maybe vacation won’t be a total waste after all. Though she is drawn to him, Carly’s past holds her back—memories that refuse to be forgotten, and a secret about the accident that remains buried in her subconscious. And everywhere she turns, the man with the scarred face is there, driving that unwelcome secret to the surface.



This is a story about the difficult subject of loss of a parent, and the guilt of being a survivor. It tells the story of not only how it affects the child, but also her father, and the relationship between her and her father. Each person has a different way of how they want to deal with the grief of a loss, and sometimes these ways conflict – especially when it comes to a teenager girl and her father. In this case, Carly’s father goes to the extreme of taking her from her home in California to Guatemala, where he grew up and his family still lives. Carly is furious, because Guatemala is almost the complete opposite of the white Christmas of California that she’s used to.

Throughout most of the story, Carly is heavily focused on everything she hates about Guatemala and trying to figure out why her father is ‘punishing’ her by taking her there, especially for Christmas. She also continues to see this strange ‘raisin face’ man, and can’t figure out why he’s following her, and he always gets away before someone else sees him. She knows it’s all related, and knows she’s seen him before, but can’t figure out where.

When Carly finally starts to see some good in being in Guatemala is when she spends more time with her step-cousin, Miguel. I liked how the author wrote their relationship, because it was slightly complicated, not an immediate attraction, or even friendship. It was realistic in how two teens from two different personal worlds, each with their own complications in their family, would not immediately relate to each other. But there is something about each of them that keeps drawing them back to each other, finding interesting aspects and similarities in each other.

This story shows that grief is not easy, families are far from simple, and sometimes it literally takes a village, and sometimes a change of scenery, to heal several different types of wounds. It also shows that hiding from what happened, or trying to bury it never works. Whatever your brain wants to get out will always make its way to the surface. I really liked all of these aspects of the story. The only reason I gave it 4 stars is because for me personally, it was a bit slow for me. It wasn’t until the second half of the book until I got drawn in. However, I have no way of relating to this story, as (fortunately) I have never had anything like this happen in my life. Possibly, if I had a way to relate personally, I would have been more drawn in. Otherwise, it was very well written, with beautiful imagery and storytelling. I would definitely read other books from this author.

Laurisa White Reyes is the author of the 2016 Spark Award winning novel The Storytellers, as well as The Celestine Chronicles and The Crystal Keeper series. She lives in Southern California where she teaches English at College of the Canyons.
Author Links:
Website - http://www.laurisawhitereyes.com/
Blog - http://laurisareyes.blogspot.com/
Newsletter Sign-up - http://eepurl.com/6jz9b
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Laurisa-White-Reyes-Author-148553665188339/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/lwreyes
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34184315-petals
Buy Links:
Kindle - http://amzn.to/2o0NNjH
Print (Amazon) - http://amzn.to/2oqb9dO

In sixty seconds, Mom would be dead.
We’re driving down Telegraph Highway, the two of us, a wrapped gift box on my lap. It is rectangular, maybe fifteen inches tall, in red foil paper with a white bow on top. We were lucky to find the drug store still open on Christmas Eve.
Mom is pleased. She’s humming along with the radio, which is playing a lively fifties holiday song. Her thumbs tap out the tune on the steering wheel. Her car keys sway in the ignition, jingling like bells.
Outside, the sky is dark. Through the storm, the road ahead looks like a long tunnel.
Snow is falling.
It happens so fast there is no time to react. Bright lights hurtle toward us on our side of the road. Mom’s arms brace against the wheel. She thrusts her foot against the brake, but the road is slick with ice. The car swerves.
I hear a car horn blaring. I hear the crunch of metal, the pop of glass shattering. A powerful force shoves me against the car door as everything suddenly whirls in the wrong direction. I feel pain. I scream.
And then it’s over.
When I blink open my eyes, everything is white.
Snow is falling.

CHAPTER ONE
His was the sort of face you couldn’t forget—yet somehow, I had.
I was slumped in a chair, blocking out the airport racket with my music and a pair of ear buds, when I first spotted him slipping quarters into a vending machine. His faded gray coveralls looked completely out of place amid the crowd of holiday travelers, and I wondered if he was an airport janitor or some kind of repairman. But it was his face that sent the jolt of recognition through me. His brown skin was disfigured with long, deep scars, as though shriveled by the sun like a raisin. I knew this man, the way I’d know a song by hearing the first notes of a melody. But where had I met him? I couldn’t remember.
“Are you all right, Carly?” Dad closed his Grisham novel and patted my hand. He was a handsome man, with cocoa-colored eyes and short black hair, completely at home in khaki Dockers and a polo tee.
“I’m fine,” I said. But I didn’t feel fine. A wave of hot prickles crawled under my skin, like they did whenever I was somewhere I didn’t want to be. Dad meant well, but the truth was that I was still angry at him for guilting me into this trip.
The loudspeaker in our terminal crackled, and a woman’s nasally voice called our flight. I rolled up the magazine I hadn’t read and tucked it into my jacket pocket along with my phone. Then Dad and I got in line. Once on board, I slipped my art box (my only carry-on) into the overhead compartment and shut the cover. Dad settled in at the window, so I dropped into the aisle seat.
The other passengers continued to board. They moved slowly, a trail of human ants doped up on Dramamine, waiting for the inevitable deep sleep of late night air travel. I tried to imagine what secret lives they might be living, like mail carrier by day, stripper by night or something.
Then he got on.
My stomach lurched. Go to the back of the plane, I thought, as if summoning some latent power deep within my psyche. I read this e-book once on mental magic, about how our thoughts influence the world around us. I tried to move a paperclip just by thinking about it. It didn’t work, but that didn’t stop me from trying to will Raisin Face into sitting as far from me as possible. Instead, he took the seat directly across the aisle from me.
Dad and I sat in silence while the plane taxied down the runway. I leaned over Dad to look out the window. As the plane nosed its way into the midnight sky, I stared, mesmerized as the lights of Los Angeles spread out below me. The city from this vantage point was astoundingly beautiful, like a giant Christmas tree. My town, three hours north of Los Angeles, didn’t even have a regular traffic signal. It was snowing there when we had left that afternoon. I couldn’t believe I’d missed our first real snow day of the season.
After a few minutes in the air, the lights disappeared, blocked by cloud cover. It was so dark outside I could see my face in the glass. I squinted at the reflection staring back at me, narrow bronze features framed by long, brown hair topped by a white halo.
“You can take off your hat now,” Dad joked. “The sun went down hours ago.”
The hat, cotton canvas with a floppy brim, had been a gift from my mom.
“I like my hat,” I replied, tugging it tighter onto my head.
“Reminds me of Gilligan’s Island. You know. That old TV show?” Dad hummed the show’s theme song and took a pitiful stab at the lyrics. “A three-hour tour. A three-hour tour.” He looked pleadingly at me as though expecting me to chime in.
I settled back into my seat.
“Never mind,” he said, giving up.
It was well past midnight by the time the plane reached cruising altitude. The flight attendant came by, offering drinks. I accepted a plastic cup filled with Coke and ice.
“Peanuts?” she asked with a pasted-on smile. There was a swath of red lipstick on her teeth, and I wondered if I should do the polite thing and point it out to her. I curled back my lips like an orangutan, but her expression didn’t change. So, I pointed to my teeth. The skin between the attendant’s eyebrows creased. A possible sign of intelligence?
Dad sipped his drink. “This trip won’t be so bad,” he said.
“I already told you, I don’t want to talk about it,” I replied, and I didn’t. What I wanted was to spend the next three weeks in my own house sleeping in my own bed. Why did I agree to come on this trip? I could have chained myself to the tree in our front yard in protest, but then Dad would either have cancelled the trip and spent our entire vacation making me feel guilty about it, or I would have starved to death like a neglected Rottweiler. In either case, I really didn’t have much of a choice.
“I know you were mad,” Dad continued, “but you’re over it now, aren’t you?”
No, Dad. I am not over it.
I scratched at my front tooth. The attendant blinked twice.
“Peanuts?” she asked again.
Dad accepted a bag. Then she turned to me, expectantly. I gave her an exaggerated grin. If she wouldn’t get the hint about the lipstick, couldn’t she at least wipe that mannequin-esque smile off her face? I was not normally so critical of people, but this whole situation had set me on edge.
“No thanks,” I told the attendant. “Peanuts give me the runs.”
That did it. Her smile morphed into a slightly unpleasant expression.
Dad choked on his drink. “Carly!”
“What?” I said as the attendant moved on to the next passenger. “I’m allergic.”
“Since when?”
“Since you dragged me onto this plane and ruined my plans for winter break, that’s when.”
Dad opened his nuts, picked one out, and rolled it around his tongue to suck off the salt. Then he crushed it between his front teeth.
“Trust me, Carly. You’ll love Guatemala,” he said. He was relentless. “It won’t be so bad, spending Christmas there.” He poured the rest of the nuts into his mouth and chewed.
Personally, I had serious doubts about spending nearly a month in a third world country where half the people lived in mud huts.
“It’s a great place,” Dad continued. “Lush jungles, ancient ruins, coconuts—”
Malaria, sauna-like heat, amoebas—
“All I ask is that you give it a chance, Carly. Give them a chance.”
Them. The so-called family I never knew. For all my seventeen years, they had been nothing more than pictures on the mantle. Dad rarely spoke of them, so why he chose our first Christmas without Mom to change the status quo was beyond me.
“Why did I have to come?” I asked, my frustration piquing. “I’m old enough to man the house while you’re away. I can take care of myself.”
“We already went over this, Carly. They want to meet you. It’s important to me that they do.”
“If they’re so important, then why haven’t you seen them in two decades?” I didn’t expect an answer. I just wanted to get Dad off my back. But instead, he shrugged his shoulders and gave me an apologetic grin.
“Let’s just say we had our differences,” he said.
The flight attendant returned, this time offering a pillow. She was still smiling. At least the red mark on her teeth was gone.
I took the pillow and arranged it behind my neck. Dad took one as well, tucking it behind his head. I should have been glad to finally have some quiet time to myself, but curiosity got the better of me. I leaned over and whispered.
“What differences?”
“Go to sleep,” said Dad.
“What differences?” I asked again.
“Carly, it’s almost one in the morning. Even if you’re not tired, I am. Let me get some sleep. Okay?”
I looked around and realized that most of the other passengers had already dozed off.
“Do you need your pills?” Dad asked.
I shook my head. “If I take them now, I’ll be a zombie when we arrive.”
Although, maybe Guatemala won’t seem so bad if I’m in a drugged-out stupor.
“Night, Carly,” said Dad. Five minutes later, he was snoring.
Across the aisle, Raisin Face had a magazine open on his lap. He licked his thumb before turning each page. I didn’t realize I was staring until he turned abruptly to look at me. Our eyes locked, and in that sliver of a moment, my heart threatened to explode right out of my ribcage. I broke away from his gaze and jerked opened my own magazine, pretending to be absorbed in it.
When my heart returned to its normal rhythm, I set the magazine aside, turned on my music, and leaned back against the pillow. I closed my eyes, but thoughts kept racing through my head. I wanted to look at him again, to study his face and give my brain time to place him.
Is he watching me? I wondered. Does he recognize me too?
After a while, I started to relax. Oblivion was calling, but I desperately clung to consciousness, like a mountain climber gripping a rock by her fingernails while dangling above a precipice. The fall was inevitable, but I strained to hold on. It wasn’t that I had trouble sleeping, but the pills kept the monsters at bay.
Finally, unable to fight it any longer, I surrendered. Falling into sleep, I struggled to recall just where I had seen that man’s face before.







Wednesday, April 19, 2017

~COVER REVEAL~ Keeper of Souls ~ by Casey Bond


Title: Keeper of Souls
Author: Casey Bond
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Horror
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Editor: Stacy Sanford, The Girl with the Red Pen
Expected Release Date: May 19th, 2017

Blurb:
Carmen Kennedy finally feels normal. Enrolled in college, she’s making a few friends and taking life one day at a time. Her days are filled with classes, studying, and attempting to be more social, while her nights are filled with terrifying dreams. All of her nightmares have one thing in common: him. She can’t see his face, but a flash of dark feathers is all it takes to remind her of The Keeper of Crows. He isn’t supposed to be real.

There is a world that exists beneath the fabric of our own, a torturous place filled with despair. The Keeper is there; Carmen just has to find out why and if there is a way to help him leave that place. Her sanity and life will be threatened, but she can’t ignore his screams any longer.

When love exists, it doesn’t matter the distance. It finds a way to remind you.

Will love be enough to save Michael and Carmen when The Keeper of Souls stands in their way?





Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.


You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links: 

Buy Link:

Keeper of Crows: http://amzn.to/2n1dkFH






Monday, April 17, 2017

~COVER REVEAL~ Rise of the Sea Witch ~ by Stacey Rourke


Title: Rise of the Sea Witch
Author: Stacey Rourke
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Fairy Tale and Folklore
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Publisher: Anchor Group Publishing
Expected Release Date: June 19th, 2017

Blurb:
Details of the sea witch’s banishment have been exaggerated. The body count that preempted it was not. Once an illustrious princess, her hands and tentacles were stained with the blood of thousands. No one could comprehend how the hooks of madness dragged her down from her life of privilege.  

Born Princess Vanessa of Atlantica, the ambitious young royal was one of two children born to the great King Poseidon. She and her brother, Triton, were groomed from birth to rule. Yet only one would ascend that coveted throne. While carefree Triton flits through his training with a cavalier demeanor and beguiling charm, Vanessa’s hunger for her father’s acceptance drives her to push herself to the limits of magic, and combat to become a leader worthy of her people.   

When war against the humans ravages their once regal kingdom, political sides are chosen. Factions from the seven seas challenge the existing leadership, pitting Vanessa against her brother in a vicious battle for the crown. Traitors are exposed, dark family secrets revealed, and a once strong sibling bond is strained to its breaking point.

Only when the ink black waters from the ultimate betrayal rescind, will the truth be known of how the villainous sea witch rose with one name on her vengeful lips--Triton.



RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 

Visit her at www.staceyrourke.com
or on Twitter or instagram at Rourkewrites.



~COVER REVEAL with EXCERPT~ The Battle for Earth by AJ & CS Sparber


Title: The Battle for Earth  
Author: AJ & CS Sparber
Genre: YA/NA Paranormal Fantasy
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Publisher: Mind’s Eye Press
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
The Jacuzzi tub is not quite up to Olympian standards, but the hot, churning water feels amazing. In a way, the turbulence reminds me of what my life has become. In little more than a year, I’ve gone from being a high school senior to an angel—a member of the angelic royal family, to be precise.

My transformation has brought with it a fair share of adventures—I killed a fallen angel. I healed my best friend from what would have been a fatal knife wound, turning her into an angel in the process. I fell in love with a Warrior angel, blissfully committing myself to him in a traditional angelic binding, only to see him nearly killed the very next day. Then I healed him—triggering a genetic change that made us the most powerful angels in existence. We are like two halves of a raging star. We are the most lethal creatures ever to walk the mortal worlds. We can fly like eagles, bend light to our will, and fill the sky with terrifying bolts of lightning. We hold the power of Thor’s hammer in our hands. We are the wrath of God. And it’s a good thing we are because fallen angels have declared war.


When it comes to being a husband and wife (or wife and husband) writing team, there are advantages, or benefits. Chief among them is that you get to practice the love scenes. He writes, she steers, and…well, it’s fun. He is a software designer and she is a doctor of education. AJ and CS Sparber live in the lovely town of Hudson, Ohio, with their son Ryan, their daughter Melanie, and the spirit of an Aussie shepherd named Hunter.

Author Links:

Buy Links:
Ariel Rising: http://amzn.to/1VWMKut

Chapter 12
Ari is Captured for the second time.

“There is nothing the Irish love more than a good story. But this…this tops them all,” Fiona says, as she pours me a second cup of coffee. Freshly showered and dressed comfortably in a halter top over spandex running pants, I scan my surroundings. The kitchen is small, but comfortable, and we’re still invisible behind a staged loop of security footage. I can’t help smiling at her enthusiasm, but its’s a bittersweet smile, because it’s nearly two in the morning, which means I get to play with Angela in about seven hours. “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fight through the pain.”

Fiona leans forward, resting her elbows on the table. “I wish I could get you out of here tonight, but we need to take care of the implant. For our escape to succeed, you need to be at full strength.”

My patience is wearing thin. What if Fiona can’t get a remote? What if she can’t sneak a surgeon into my chambers? “How long before the security system comes back on?”

Fiona gives me a puzzled look. “I’m not sure. Any time between now and five o’clock. We’ll get a ten-minute heads up. Why do you ask?”

“I’m going to try to access my abilities.”

Fiona shakes her head vigorously. “That’s not a good idea, Ari.”

She’s probably right. I stand, crossing my arms over my chest. “So, are you going to help me or do I do this alone?”

“Ari, please…”

“I have to try.”

“You are one very headstrong angel,” she says with a smirk.

Sitting on the toilet lid, I stare at a small plastic wastebasket across the room. My objective is to knock it over without touching it, and in order to do that, I’ll need to use the Essence—which is going to trigger the implant, causing me a world of pain.

“You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind,” Fiona says, with a smirk.

“Ha. You have no idea how much pain Angela’s little gizmo puts out. Now, quiet…I need to concentrate.”

Redoubling my efforts, I hyper focus on the basket. Breathe. I feel the familiar rush as the Essence collects in my cells, filling me with a pulsing energy—a force that begs to be released. But there is resistance. Something is impeding the outward flow, I think, as a wave of pain builds inside me. Thrusting a washcloth into my mouth, I bite down hard. A muffled roar rumbles from deep inside me as the pain intensifies. Fiona moves into my line of sight, her face twisted in panic. “Let it go, Ari! Release it…”

“Too much energy…MOVE” I shout, because I know it’s going to be bad. Really bad.

I release the beast inside me, because it can no longer be contained. Time slows down and I’m nothing more than a helpless observer, watching as the basket I’d been so intently focused on begins to vibrate. No, it’s not the basket…it’s the entire room. I scan my surroundings, trying to find Fiona, but a roiling cloud of debris obscures my vision. I made a hurriquake, I think, which causes me to giggle…and then an overwhelming sense of relief washes over me, because the pain is gone...and so is Fiona.

“Run, Ari!”

Fiona? I didn’t kill her!

I slowly rise to my feet, hanging onto the sink for support. Fiona is sitting, propped up against the far wall of the main room, pointing furiously behind me. I turn. People are jogging up the hall, past still bodies, toward me. I can see them because the wall is gone. What the…

A strong hand grips my arm and I pivot to break the vice-like grip, but I have no strength left. “Stay still or this will really hurt,” a chillingly familiar voice says.

“No!” I hear Fiona shout, but she’s being restrained by two huge angels. “Don’t hurt her!”

Before I can react or respond, a sharp prick causes me to flinch, as a needle enters the tender skin at the base of my neck.

“Goodnight, princess,” Eloy says with an evil chuckle.