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It's here! I'm so excited for you to meet Tally and Vaughn and take a wild adventure on an rehabilitation island where nothing is what it seems. Plus, an enemies to lovers romance that will have you begging for more.
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Coming March 3rd!
My eyes shot open as a figure pressed a hand over my mouth and whispered, “Don’t scream.”
It was a male, an intruder.
Flooded with fear and confusion, I opened my mouth to scream, unable or unwilling to comply, but the hand mashed down, slamming my lips together and bearing down on me with such force that I knew my attacker had to be huge, at least twice my size and weight.
Rage surged inside me like a wild tiger climbing to the surface. No matter what they wanted, I wouldn’t roll over and let them do it. No matter who they were, they would regret the moment they stepped into my room.
I swung my arms and kicked my legs, fighting with all my strength. I reached for the knife tucked under my pillow, but before I could grab it, someone jumped on me and a second set of hands gripped my wrists, pinning them to my sides. My wings at my back felt crushed.
“A wild one,” the second voice said. It was female, though gruff. The weight of her felt less than the male’s but just as determined.
“We deserve a bonus for all this trouble,” she grumbled.
“Just help me get her in the van,” the male voice said to his partner. Then he turned and spoke to me. “Please don’t fight us. You’re just making it harder for everyone.”
Harder for everyone? Who were these people? Unseelie fae? Who else would wish me ill? King Oberon and his followers were my sworn enemies, but other than that, I’d never harmed anyone.
My body seized as I thought of the children, all asleep in their beds in the other rooms. Were they being attacked, too? I had to get away. I had to make sure they were fine. It was my job to protect them.
“Just use the magic already,” the female voice said. Her gruff voice sounded annoyed. She pinched my wrists, her fingers digging in cruelly.
Magic? They couldn’t be Unseelie fae, then. They had little if any magic. They ruled by force and sheer brutality. If these people had magic that meant they were a witch and a warlock. But what could they want with me? With a fae?
“We’re not supposed to use the magic. Not here,” the warlock grumbled. The Supernatural Academy where I was living at the moment had many wards. He seemed reluctant to trigger them, scared even.
Taking advantage of their distraction, I ripped one of my hands from the witch’s grip and swung wildly. My fist struck hard. A crunch sounded, followed by a groan.
“Oh, geez!” the man exclaimed, his voice thick, “I think she broke my nose.”
“Enough,” his partner shouted. “We do this my way.”
The room crackled to life as a bolt of purple energy surged from her fingertips. In the flash of light, I was able to take a good look at the female’s face. She was definitely human with short blond hair, angry eyes, and hard lines etching her features. Then her magic struck me, and my body went rigid. I knew the immobilizing spell when it hit me, a paralysis where no muscle in my body could respond to my desperate commands.
I tried my arms, my legs, my wings—nothing moved.
I floated off the bed, carried away by more magic.
No. This could not happen! The children.
Let me go, my brain screamed. Put me down! Yet, no words escaped my lips. I couldn’t do a thing as they floated me out of my bedroom, down the hallway toward the open front door.
Stupid. How could I not have planned for this? Oberon must’ve sent wizard mercenaries.
As I floated down the hallway, my eyes were glued to the ceiling, but, on the periphery, I could tell the other doors were closed. I had to hope that meant the children—my wards, my friends, my family—were safe in their beds and these intruders only wanted me. That or they’d come for me last, and the children were already gone. I could barely stand the thought of someone harming them. They’d already been through enough, losing their homeland and parents, being refugees in this cruel world, surrounded and hated by the same creatures responsible for the destruction of our realm.
We’d been borrowing this cottage for a few months now, waiting for the children to heal and regain their strength. We’d begun healing. Arryn had even started sleeping on top of her bed instead of under it, a big step for her. She was so attached to me I worried about what finding me gone would do to her.
Moonlight flooded the little clearing around our house. I couldn’t scan the surroundings, but only the wind stirred. There was no one nearby to save me from my captors. Instead, a van was parked on the gravel path beside the garden, its silhouette pale in the moonlight as they floated me closer.
Creaking hinges sounded as someone opened the back doors. Then I was angling toward them. As my body turned, I finally got a good look at my attackers.
The woman was older and hardened—wrinkles lined her face, especially around her mouth as it frowned at me. She wore cargo pants, boots, and a tactical vest that suggested what I had come to associate, in my short time in this realm, with a human military background. The male was large with huge, bulging muscles and brown skin. His black hair was cropped short and his goatee was neatly trimmed. His attire was more casual—jeans, a long-sleeve T-shirt, and a pocketed vest. Where she looked pissed, he just looked… sorry, despite the streak of blood sliding from his nose.
“Careful with her,” he said as the ’ciallachadh witch floated me into the van.
The moonlight dimmed as my body floated into the van. I landed on the carpeted floor and the doors slammed shut. Only then could I move.
Sitting up, I scrambled to the door and yanked on the handle, but it was locked.
“There’s no use. You won’t get out.”
Whirling toward the voice, I saw I wasn’t alone.
A teen male sat against the far wall, his arms resting on his knees. Under the weak light that shone inside our space, I took in his symmetrical human features, light brown hair, chestnut-colored skin, and muscular physique. He was tall and broad, the kind of man that starred in TV commercials on those programs the children were always watching. He had to be eighteen or nineteen and privileged, judging from the expensive watch onat his wrist.
Was he an ally or a foe? His icy glare made me think it was the latter.
I didn’t have time to make up my mind. My attackers were walking away. In a panic, I tried the door again, then banged on the back windows, the only two in this section of the van.
“Hey!” I shouted. “Help.”
“Like I said, there’s no use,” he said, his tone full of annoyance. “No one can hear you. This whole van is totally sealed by magic, though, I heard your kind doesn’t have any, so what would you know?” He glanced behind my back at my wings, his mouth twisted.
Your kind? He’d said it like a curse, like he wasn’t keen on sharing a van with a fae. So he was one of those. I’d met my share of haters during my short time in this godsforsaken realm.
Doors shut. The van’s engine started, a low rumbling that sent my heart hammering even harder. Where would they take me? Nothing in the empty van indicated where we were going or why. And just because they hadn’t harmed me yet, didn’t mean they weren’t going to.
I banged on the window desperately, but the human was right, the vehicle was sealed. No one could hear me.
The van lurched. I fought to keep my balance, watching my derelict, little home get smaller and smaller. I pressed a hand to the glass.
Gods, the children. I’d been taking care of them since we arrived here, since our land was destroyed.
“Are you crying?” the human asked, his green eyes narrowing.
I swiped at my cheeks, getting rid of all traces before facing him. “Who are these people? Why did they take us?”
He ground his teeth, making his jaw work back and forth. “They’re trash, that’s what they are. They’ll be sorry.”
“Do you know who they are?”
“The extraction team. They’ve been sent by those who will teach us a lesson.”
“Teach us a lesson? What does that mean?”
His only answer was a frown as if he didn’t want to waste words on the likes of me.
I was being kidnapped to be taught a lesson? That made no sense. What lesson was I meant to learn? I’d already been educated on genocide, the murder of my people, and the destruction of my homeland.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
His eyes darted back to me, tracing me up and down as if taking in my measure for the first time. Finally, he answered. “Vaughn. And yours?”
“Tallyndra,” I said.
He shrugged, clamming up, unwilling to talk.
A fae hater, for sure.
After our world had been poisoned by The Bane, a madman bent on revenge, my people had come here as refugees. We didn’t want to be here anymore than the humans wanted us here, but we had nowhere else to go. Still, many called us a blight on society. They blamed crime on us and called us savages.
I’d avoided the bulk of this, living in isolation in a home provided by a group of humans who didn’t hate us, but I’d heard the stories and seen the hate on TV. There were those that thought we were vile. That still wanted us dead, the way The Bane had.
Maybe Vaughn was one of those.
Either way, if that was true, he could e fhèin himself.
We rode in silence, watching my home disappear. We followed several highways, civilization disappearing more and more the longer we drove. Vaughn dozed, lying curled up on the floor, but I stayed awake, watching each turn we took, each town we passed. If there was any way out, I would find it.
I must have dozed off because when we came to a stop, I jumped up in a panic and crawled to the van’s back windows.
We were deep in the trees now, though they looked very different from the ones we’d left behind. The trees near our cottage had been tall and bushy. These were frond-like and tropical. How long had I been out?
Where were we?
As I peered through the van’s tinted windows, both the male and female captors walked into view. They stepped to the side, talking with two other humans in similar attire. Were they handing us over? If I was going to make a move, it had to be now.
The male walked toward the van, leaving his partner back with the others.
I dropped limply on the van floor, closing my eyes and slowing my breathing. I didn’t move when his footsteps reached the doors and I heard a click and the squeak of hinges.
I held my breath, waiting for him to get close enough to strike.
“Watch out!” Vaughn shouted. “She’s going to attack you.”
I lurched up, but it was too late. The van doors slammed before I could even lift my head. I whirled, staring at Vaughn, anger rolling off me in waves.
“Why?” was all I could muster between my clenched teeth.
His eyes shone like hard emeralds as he stared me down. “If I’m stuck here, fae bitch, you sure as hell should be, too.”
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The Ending to this series is going to wow you.
I can't believe it's almost over. In two weeks, book five of the Supernatural Academy will be out. It's the final book, the one to finish what we've started. It has been hard to say goodbye to Charlie and Rowan, Disha and Bridget, but I think you're going to love this book and the exciting conclusion.
Read on for a sneak peek of Chapter One.
Chaos reigned under the clear, blue sky.
As I stood outside the Academy’s infirmary, wails of pain cut right through me. People ran around desperately, not knowing what to do, while others stood at a distance, crying as they watched the chaos unfold and grow bigger and bigger by the second.
I was among the latter group, frozen in the middle of it all, my hand on my forehead as my eyes roved around, trying to understand what was happening.
People—fae to be specific—were strewn around the Academy lawn like fallen leaves, some crumpled and still, others twisting in pain. Some bled, but most were covered in a black tar-like substance, like birds caught in an oil spill.
Fedorov and the dean were transporting them here from the fae realm as quickly as they could, using the portal at the Enlightment Fountain to travel back and forth. As the professor and dean appeared and disappeared, the number of injured fae grew.
My mind reeled, trying to understand what Ponomarenko had done. He had attacked the fae realm, had destroyed it. That was what Disha and Bridget had said, what everyone was saying. And the proof was here right in front of my eyes.
All these fae, injured. Dying. Some of them already dead.
So many of them.
At least a hundred, like the nymph that despite the gooey substance smeared on her green skin, still looked lovely, though broken like a porcelain doll left out in the mud. Like the virely-looking Fae Warriors who lay twisting in agony on the ground.
Why? What was this blackness that coated their bodies? And what could I do to help?
I glanced around once more, trying to break out of my stupor.
Five minutes ago when we’d arrived from our dorm, Disha and Bridget had jumped right into action. Disha was teleporting in and out of the infirmary, taking the victims to Nurse Taishi. Bridget was helping, too, levitating the injured into the building, then running back out. She didn’t know how to teleport yet, but that wasn’t stopping her.
Per Nurse Taishi’s instructions, they were prioritizing the ones who were in the worst shape and wearing surgical masks and latex gloves to avoid contact with the black substance.
My friends rushed around, haggard and disheveled, but busy, helping, while all I could do was stare at my useless stump and my other traitorous hand that, while whole, created no magic despite still having one of the Aradia Cuffs. I couldn’t help like Disha and Bridget. I was as useless as the freshmen who stood off to the side.
I shook my head, refusing to get mired in a pity party. People were suffering.
Come on, Charlie. Do something. Help!
My eyes scanned all the fallen bodies, trying to find someone I could aid, someone who still could be healed. It felt wrong to think this way. They all should be saved, but there weren't enough of us, and most students couldn’t really do anything.
Though maybe some could…
I faced the ogling students who lingered at the edges of the chaos. Some of them were upperclassmen. They knew healing spells. I ran towards the infirmary stairs where Nurse Taishi had left a box of gloves and masks, then addressed the crowd.
“Hey, seniors and juniors, any who know healing spells… come help!” I gestured toward the wounded with my good hand.
They hesitated, looking at each other, unsure.
“C’mon!” I urged.
A tall guy in a rumpled T-shirt and basketball shorts stepped forward. He raised his hand as if he were in class, looking afraid and doubtful. Just moments ago, he’d probably been hanging out in the common area, flirting with girls.
“It’s okay. Come here. What’s your name?” I asked.
“David,” he said from under a mop of brown hair.
“I can’t do any magic.” I held the stump of my right hand up. “I can’t help, but you can. Here…”
Tucking the box of supplies under my left arm, I directed David toward someone who was lying on the ground, a young fae boy dressed in an outfit that seem to be made out of leaves. His long, blond hair, matted with black tar, was spread over the grass. A green tattoo in the shape of vines went from his temple down his jaw and neck and snaked under his shirt. He was twisting, screaming, his arms wrapped around his chest.
I knelt next to him and encouraged David to do the same.
“Here, take this.” I offered him gloves and a mask. He slipped them on, his hands shaking. I put on a mask, but couldn’t manage the glove one-handed.
“Do a healing spell, a general one,” I said. “We don’t know what’s wrong with him, but it can’t hurt.”
Hesitantly, David pressed gloved hands to the little boy’s chest. The fae squirmed and weakly tried to fight David off.
David closed his eyes and chanted a basic healing spell under his breath. The boy twisted harder, screaming in agony. David hesitated as if he would stop.
“Don't,” I said. “Keep going.”
He did, his face etched with worry and fear. After a long minute, the boy stopped squirming,his face relaxing as he exhaled.
David’s shoulders slumped in relief. A small smile started to spread over his lips, but then the little boy started coughing violently, his back arching, his hands jerking to his throat.
“Oh, God,” David said. “Oh God, what did I do?”
The little boy kept coughing, then, at last, gave a violent bark and stopped. Collapsing in on himself, the boy exhaled through his half-open mouth. Something black spilled past his lips and clouded the air like a puff of hot breath steaming into the cold. It rose up, reaching, spreading.
Oh, God. What was that thing?
David and I jumped to our feet and took a step back as the blackness dissipated. Instinctively, I pressed my hand to the surgical mask that covered my mouth and nose. David did the same. After the dark, pollen-like dust cleared, the little boy went still. He breathed laboriously but seemed better.
I stared at Davidand gave him a single nod of approval. The other students watched in astonishment. I addressed them again.
“C’mon, any who can heal, help these people. They’re dying. They need us.”
A few more of the older students stepped forward and cautiously approached some of the fallen fae after getting their protective gear.
Maybe I couldn't do magic, but I had helped. I was helping. I could still be useful.
Disha popped back into existence several yards away from me. Her hair was wild and her clothes were smeared with black. Eyes darting all around, she searched for someone else to take inside the infirmary.
I ran up to her. “How can I help?”
She shook her head as if she couldn’t think of anything and kept searching for someone else to teleport. She was about to step aside when there was another pop and Dean Macintosh and Professor Fedorov materialized out of nowhere. They each had two injured fae with them. Weaving their hands, they gently deposited them on the ground.
Their clothes were covered in tar. There was something around their bodies, some sort of shimmering spell that protected them from from whatever that black stuff was.
“Everyone, to me,” the dean boomed, gesturing to the students. With a flick of her wrist she sent a spell out among the crowd. Magic tingled on my skin as the same shimmering protection covered me from head to toe. I discarded the surgical mask.
“The black substance in very poisonous,” she said, running a hand through her salt and pepper hair. “Everyone needs a magical mask.” She turned to Fedorov. “Make sure they all get them.”
He nodded and sprinted out toward another cluster of students.
Lynssa turned tired eyes on the scene around us. “There are too many of them,” she said, her frustration palpable.
I could tell she wished to be able to bring all of them back in one fell swoop, but traveling through portals was hard. Not everyone could do it. If only I still had both cuffs.
“We need more people,” she said, knowing full-well there weren’t many others who could lend a hand. Every teacher was occupied in the infirmary and the older students were now helping out here. And still, that wasn’t enough. We couldn’t save them all. They were dying. Some lay on the ground, motionless and I suspected the worst had happened.
My hatred for Ponomarenko redoubled. I hadn’t thought that would be possible, but there it was.
“Disha,” Lynssa said. “You know how to teleport, correct?”
“Yes, Dean,” Disha answered.
“Then come with me.” She extended a hand towards Disha, who took it and nodded to indicate she was ready. There was a pop, and they were gone.
The hole in my chest—the one that had been gnawing at me since Ponomarenko stole my hand and, with it, my ability to do magic—grew bigger.
I was useless. Totally useless.
One of the fae Lynssa had just brought back started to moan. I glanced down and frowned. Her face was terribly familiar. Dropping to my knees, I pushed two-toned white and violet hair out of her face.
It was Phraan’s daughter. Kiana’s niece. The girl I’d met when I’d traveled to the fae realm on Nyquist’s bidding several months ago. So much had happened since then. Nyquist was dead. Ponomarenko’s power had doubled. I’d lost my hand.
“Tallyndra,” I said, as her big, violet eyes deliriously darted back and forth, lost in whatever had happened back in her realm. Her tall, athletic body jerked. Her smooth, white arms were wrapped around her chest, the way the little boy’s had been.
I turned and searched for David. He was stepping away from someone he’d just helped as blackness poured out of their mouth.
“David, here!” I called.
He ran toward us without hesitation and knelt to the other side of Tallyndra. Wasting no time, he placed his hands on her chest, more confidently this time. He had healed a few people by now and knew that his spell would help.
He muttered the incantation. Magic flowed into Tallyndra. She jerked more violently, thrashing like a trapped snake. It wasn't easy to watch but knowing that we were helping made it a little easier.
The coughing started, wracking her as if she would expel her lungs. The black stuff came out, wisping into the air like poisoned dandelion seeds.
David and I moved back and warily watched the stuff dissipate. Tallyndra went still, her violet eyes staring straight at the blue sky. She breathed through her mouth, her chest rising and falling visibly.
Then she screamed and bucked, kicking with her left foot, speaking words I couldn't understand.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” I asked.
She glanced up and frowned as if noticing me for the first time, vague recognition crossing her features.
“Take it off, take it off!” she urged, shaking her foot again.
“There’s something on her boot. It’s... moving,” David said, pointing and grimacing.
I leaned closer and saw, too. There was something black at the tip of Tallyndra’s boot, something that made a squelching sound and moved like oozing black lava.
What the hell?
“Take it off!” Tallyndra demanded.
I swiveled positions and started clumsily unbuckling the straps or her tall boot. Realizing my one-handed struggle, David undid most of them, then, careful not to touch the stuff despite our protective spell from the dean, we jerked the boot off and threw it as far away as we could.
We stared at Tallyndra’s big toe. It was stained black, as if it had been dipped in ink, except the ink seem to be spreading toward the rest of her foot. The horror of what was happening stole over me.
It was some sort of awful infection.
And worse, it was alive.
She screamed, scrambling back on the grass as if there was a way to escape the stuff.
“David, help her,” I said. “Do the spell.”
He grabbed Tallyndra’s ankle and issued the healing spell. We waited for it to do something, to expel the blackness the way it had done before, but it didn't do anything. It just kept spreading.
“It's not working,” he said. “I don't know what else to do.”
Tallyndra screamed again, pounding her fists against the ground.
“You need to calm down, Tallyndra.” I shook her, trying hard to retain my own calm. Her eyes focused on me. “You need to come with me. Stand up!”
Gaining some presence of mind, she clenched her teeth. Her features hardened as she reined in her desperation.
David and I helped her to her feet, and with her arm draped over my shoulder, she and I hobbled into the infirmary.
Inside, the chaos was dialed up even further. The wails and violent coughs were twice as loud within the confinement of the walls. I searched for Nurse Taishi and spotted him next to a bed. The other teachers ran between patients, issuing healing spells that didn’t seem to be quite enough.
Spotting a chair, I hurried Tallyndra toward it and helped her sit.
I ran toward Taishi. His head was drooping, his eyes downcast. The person on the bed was dead, blackness all the way up to his neck, and still crawling up his jaw. His eyes were black pits of spilled oil. I clenched my teeth to hold back the bile that rose up my throat and tore my eyes away from the gruesome sight.
“There’s someone else you can help,” I said, putting a hand on Taishi’s shoulder.
He glanced back at me, an expression of defeat stamped on his features.
“Please,” I said. “She’s the fae queen’s niece.”
Shaking himself, Taishi came with me and approached Tallyndra.
“It's her foot,” I said.
Taishi nodded, squatted in front of Tallyndra, and wrapped his hands around her ankle, the way David had done.
His healing spell came quickly. It coursed through to Tallyndra in an instant. She stiffened and clenched her teeth, moaning in the back of her throat.
Then she went still as the blackness started oozing out of her skin. As the poison rose, Nurse Taishi weaved his hands in a spell that engulfed the spent pollen-like substance, then consumed it in a blast of cleansing fire.
Tallyndra and I both blinked at her toe, it wasn’t black anymore.
“Thank you,” she said, eyes wide.
But her amazement only lasted for a second, because she jumped to her feet, head sweaveling all around. “How can I help?”
But without knowing the spells Nurse Taishi knew or being able to weave them, there was little we could do. Even he couldn’t fix everyone.
“Find all of those whose eyes are clear,” he whispered to us. “Those are the only ones we can save.”
I'm so excited for you to read this book.
You know how sometimes a series just gets better and better? Well, I'm really hoping you feel that way about book 4 of the Supernatural Academy Series. Ingrid and I have worked our butts off for this series and it shows. And the ending... Wow. It is something. I hope you aren't mad at me. It was hard to write.
Anyway, here's a sneak peek. The book comes out in a week but make sure to pre-order it so you have it right away.
I stared at the dead body as everyone else stared at me. It laid on the grass, broken and pale.
“I’m going to ask you this again,” a beefy Magical Law Enforcement guard growled, glaring at me as if he wanted nothing more than to rip my head off. “Did you have anything to do with the attack tonight?”
My head swiveled from side to side, taking it all in. The night was still dark, but dawn was beginning to turn the horizon gray. It had to be after five AM, yet everyone was out of bed. Students stood on the lawn, shivering and holding themselves and each other. The Academy buildings appeared as sharp black outlines against the morphing sky. The crowd was silent, a mass of terrified faces glancing between the line of officers and me.
Disha stood at my side, clutching my arm like a lifeline. Her face was also twisted with fear. She hadn’t been at the battle. She didn’t know I had been there and had watched that teacher’s death. Her name was Professor Hernandez and she had been alive earlier this evening, fighting an unwinnable battle. Now her lifeless body lay on the lawn like a piece of trash. She’d been a senior-level magical herbs teacher and now she was dead.
I knew who killed her, and he was standing beside the line of mean-looking officers.
Or, rather, Dean Nyquist, head of our university and vile murderer.
The old dean stepped forward, holding a hand out as if to bring calm to the situation. I stared at his arthritic hand, remembering how he had placed it on Professor Hernandez’s chest as she stayed frozen in time. Nyquist had absorbed Anama’s Looper power--or whatever it was he did with the poor people he kept in his magical dreamscape prison. Then, glowing red with the stolen skill, he’d used it to kill one teacher and maim another. I’d heard the other victim was in the infirmary in critical condition.
We might have two dead teachers by the time this night was through, but that wasn’t the worst of it.
The worst was Nyquist was going to get away with it.
Anyone who opposed him—Lynssa McIntosh, Yuri Fedorov, the subversives—had magicked themselves to Turkey. I took solace in knowing they were safe, unlike me, who now stood ten feet from a madman.
“Well?” the Magical Law Enforcement asked.
“I… I had nothing to do with any of this,” I lied.
“Then where were you?” he demanded. “Why didn’t you come out when we raised the alarm? What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything,” I said, doing my best to fill my voice with outrage as I held the guard’s gaze.
Nyquist peered at me now with soft, wavering eyes as the wind tugged thin strands of hair across his bald spot.
“Charlie, it’s alright,” he said. “Nothing is going to happen to you. Just, please, tell these men the truth. I’ll do everything I can to help you if you’ve done something…” He trailed off, his voice catching. His concern was a show for the crowd around us. Only I knew the truth.
If he sprouted fake tears, I might lose it.
I glanced from him to the line of men who stood ready to take me down at the slightest provocation. Magical Law Enforcement--or M.L.E. for short--did not play around. They were rough and quick to blame. If I got on the wrong side of those steroid-swollen arms, I’d be in trouble.
“I’m telling the truth. I don’t know anything about what you’re saying. Disha just woke me up. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately… with exams coming up. I gave myself a sleeping potion.” I shrugged one shoulder, trying to look convincing.
Disha jumped in. “It’s true. She was sound asleep when I got to her room. I knocked a bunch before she answered and when she did, she was super groggy. I swear.” She held her trembling hand up in the proximity of a Girl Scout salute.
The M.L.E. officer narrowed his eyes. “Check her for remnants of a sleeping potion.” He nodded at one of his colleagues. A man who looked like a poorly dressed Silvester Stallone advanced on me then grabbed my arm. I stiffened, hating the feeling of his touch on my bicep as he ran his free hand over my body, only inches from my skin. Dressed in a light tank top and shorts, I felt exposed as everyone watched him scan me. Magic streamed from his fingers and zapped my chest in short pulses as he used some sort of incantation to discern whether or not I was telling the truth.
“Is that really necessary?” Bridget stepped through the crowd. Although she was wearing a frilly, pink Victorian-era nightgown, her posture let me know she was about ten seconds away from trying to fight off a dozen officers by herself.
I opened my mouth to answer, but the officer scanning my chest answered first. “She’s telling the truth. There’s sleeping potion in her bloodstream.”
Lynssa McIntosh was clever. Even though I was royally pissed at her for faking her own death and not telling me about it, I had to hand it to her. Having me swig the smallest amount of sleeping potion before I left Turkey had worked swimmingly.
Or so I thought.
“It could still be a lie,” the head Magical Law Enforcement officer said. “From what I hear, she’s a known liar who consorts with criminals. Let’s take her to the station for further tests.” He advanced on me, cold hatred in his eyes. He was the same guard from the night Bonnie and Rowan had arrived on campus and tripped the alarm. The same guard who seemed to have it out for me. I wondered what he’d heard. Either way, it wasn’t looking good.
I took a step back, glancing from side to side at escape routes. Twelve men, with magic tingling at their fingertips, blocked my path. And worse, the regents and teachers who had fought with Nyquist stood around the edges. No one would let me out of here unless it was in a body bag.
“That’s not needed, Sergeant Fetzner. I can vouch for Charlie. She’s telling the truth.” Nyquist smiled at me, his grandfatherly act in full swing. He had been at the battle and knew I wasn’t there. At least, that’s what he thought since Fedorov had cleverly disguised me.
I smiled back, hating every second of it. Being Lynssa’s spy was going to be harder than I thought.
Now that he had everyone’s attention, Nyquist positioned himself in the center of the crowd. Waving his hands, he commanded a dirt mound to rise beneath him until he was six feet above us. Witch lights began to glow around him as he pressed two fingers to his throat to activate the voice projection spell.
“Everyone gather ‘round, please. I need to address the crowd.”
When he was sure he had everyone’s attention, he continued. “I know that many of you are frightened. What happened tonight was… horrendous. Terrible. It was the realization of our worst fears.”
You’ve got that right, you sadistic prick.
He went on with conviction. “Tonight, one of our own has died,” he turned sad eyes on Professor Hernandez as an M.L.E. officer put a sheet over her body, “and another has been gravely injured. I blame myself. I should have seen this coming.
“For too long, we have allowed a group of renegades to roam free, terrorizing our precious school and turning this place of learning into a war zone. That ends tonight. Tomorrow, I will give law enforcement carte blanche to track down the people responsible for tonight’s atrocities. Fear not, they will be brought to justice.”
A whoop went up from the crowd and several students and teachers applauded. Cruise Knightley did a fist bump with one of his braindead, stoner sidekicks. Did they have any idea what they were cheering for? Idiots. Lambs to the slaughter.
Nyquist continued. “Along with this subversive group and some faculty members turned traitors, fae warriors also attacked. Our brave men and women fought them off, but I am afraid peace between us and the fairy folk is over.”
I bit the inside of my cheek. Nyquist had abducted Anama and put Sinasre in a magically induced coma. The fae warriors had arrived solely to rescue their people, yet he made it sound like they’d attacked unprovoked. Just another lie in an avalanche of them. I felt like I was drowning in deceit.
“This school’s main goal is to keep you, students, safe and we have failed. Previous administrations have not only allowed unlawful acts to occur, but they have also colluded with the very people who sought to destroy us. I hate to tell you this, but Counselor McIntosh, Dean Bonnie Underwood, Nurse Taishi, Professor Fedorov, and others fought alongside criminals, murderers, and thieves to take us down.”
The crowd gasped. Murmurs arose as students stared around with shock on their faces. Quickly, I realized that I too should be shocked rather than enraged. Covering my face with my hands, I curled into Disha, grabbed her arm and whispered into her ear. “Look surprised. Don’t let them see you’re upset.”
She stiffened, but I could see she got it. Her large, tear-filled eyes stared around like she’d never suspected Nyquist. Like we’d never realized he was using Loopers to twist time and the portals to his own agenda. She gulped, pushing messy black hair back from her face, and shook her head. It was convincing. An Academy-Award-winning performance.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same for Bridget.
“That’s bullshit,” my red-headed friend shouted, stepping forward and craning her neck to stare up at Dean Nyquist on his perch. “Those teachers are the best, most honorable people here. If they fought you, then maybe it’s you who’s the criminal!”
Anger darkening her features, she jabbed a finger in Nyquist’s direction. She looked as if she might zap him, and it appeared the M.L.E. officers thought so, too, because one of them raced toward her, blurring with a speed spell. Her head snapped to the right as the buzz-cut-wearing man appeared behind her, but she was too late to defend herself. In seconds, she was on the ground, her hands magically pinned behind her back.
“Get off me! Let me go.” Her nightgown bunched as her body whipped back and forth.
Holding her steady by sitting on her legs, the officer put a magicked hand on her back. Bridget stiffened, then jerked as if he’d hit her with a Taser spell.
Oh, no, Bridget! What do I do? I couldn’t rush to her aid without jeopardizing my entire mission and all the people I was supposed to help, but I couldn’t just stand there and watch my friend be roughed up!
Her eyes rolled back in her head as her body seized. I wanted to run, to blast that bastard off her back and make him regret this, but I’d be breaking the promise I swore to the group in Turkey just before I left.
Whatever you do, Lynssa McIntosh had said, don’t let them know you’re with us.
Trapped, I watched the horrible scene unfold with a sob stuck in my throat.
Disha started forward, but I grabbed her hand and held her back as the officer and Bridget both wavered, then disappeared with a pop.
“Where are they taking her?” Disha shouted, unable to help herself.
Dean Nyquist searched the crowd until he spotted Disha and me. “Oh, don’t worry, my dear. I’m sure they are just making sure your friend doesn’t have any connections to the evil people trying to destroy us. As long as she’s innocent, she’ll be back in no time.” He gave her a warm smile. Fake. So fake.
Disha bit her lip but held back, focusing instead on squeezing the hell out of my hand.
Nyquist turned back to his captive audience. “I’m so sorry that happened, students. I’m sorry all of this happened. We will make this right, I promise you. For now, please know that you are safe. The M.L.E. is here. They will protect us. More officers will come later. And we will conduct exams as soon as possible, starting tomorrow, and send all of you home after that. But never fear. Our precious Academy will be back to its previous glory before the next semester starts.”
At this, he clapped his hands together and sparks whizzed into the air. The Academy’s crest—a shield sporting a lion, a key, a book, and a chalice, all circled by the words “Magicae Vincere Tenebras”—appeared in the air. The school fight song began playing, swelling around us.
Apparently, it was infectious or magicked to produce good feelings because several of the students started singing with it. Soon, they were marching back to their dorms, singing at the top of their lungs and putting arms around each other as if nothing had ever happened.
My eyes turned to the dead teacher under the sheet and then to Nyquist.
He watched the procession of students with satisfaction on his ancient features. He had won.
As if he felt me watching, he turned to me, locking eyes. His warm fatherliness had left his features and now he appeared just as he had on the battlefield—vile, power-hungry, and arrogant.
His eyebrows folded down as he continued to lock eyes with me. His expression seemed to say, I know what you did and you’re going to pay.
The question was, did he really? And could I make him pay first?
Happy Tuesday! Today, I have the first chapter of Disha, A Supernatural Academy Novella. I can't wait until you read this novella, set between book 2 and book 3. It should be enough to tide you over until book 3 releases on July 16th. Until then, enjoy Disha!
Disha: A Supernatural Academy Story
I’d been to many parties, both magical and regular, but the rager that my parents were throwing had to be one of the craziest parties I’d ever seen.
Their annual anniversary bash was the must-attend magical gathering in New England. My parents’ parties were always epic, but this year they’d taken things to the nth degree. I’d heard from Mama that the theme was “Circus” which seemed pretty pedestrian. Last year, they did Moulin Rouge. Everyone dressed in burlesque attire and things got so wild I had to excuse myself at eight PM when Regent Basak—who was seventy-years-old, mind you—lost her sequined top and decided to continue dancing topless.
No amount of mental scrubbing could help me unsee that. So much jiggling.
Witches and wizards were weird.
I’d just landed in LaGuardia two hours ago, gathered my carry-on since my parents had transported the rest of my luggage home, and found the driver hired to take me home. I’d just finished my sophomore year at the Supernatural Academy. Boy, was that a doozy. I was pretty much emotionally scarred for life and it would’ve been nice to see some family when I exited the airplane.
Of course, no one could be bothered to come meet me at the airport. They were too busy getting ready for their party to stop everything and pick their only daughter up like some Regular.
No, they had a party to throw. Daughter be damned.
But, whatever. The ride to their place in New Jersey was uneventful. New York hadn’t changed. Being back home always felt a bit like landing on another planet. The campus in Georgia was quiet and picturesque, not to mention that I was completely surrounded by other witches and wizards that made me forget what the world of Regulars was like.
How mundane and boring life seemed when you could magic your way out of troubles.
I glanced at my phone, wishing I could call Charlie. I already missed the hell out of that girl. Hell, I even missed Bridget, though it would be lovely to get a solid night’s sleep for once.
And Rowan? Who the hell knew where he was? Off with that bitch Ava Marie. Or was it Ana? It didn’t matter. What mattered was his father was dead and Rowan was ending up on the wrong side of things. I worried about him most of all.
When the driver pulled up to our property, things were already in full swing. Past the line of stately hedges, the gate was thrown open. The long, tree-lined driveway was crowded with cars, motorbikes and a few other vehicles, including one double-decker bus and a motorcycle with a sidecar. Music thumped from the house which glowed with incandescent light. Craning my neck, I could see the big red and white circus tent propped up in the backyard.
“Wow,” the driver said, turning back to glance at me. “Some party. Can I drive you up?”
“No, no,” I answered right away, pulling some bills out of my pocketbook. “I can walk from here.”
“Are you sure, miss?” His eyes lingered on the spotlights shooting into the night sky.
I could tell he wanted in, to see what kind of millionaires were hanging out at a party this impressive, but I absolutely could not let that happen. Who knew what kind of debauchery and magical self-indulgence was taking place?
And memory spells were so involved.
I stuffed the tip money in the driver’s hand, opened my door and pulled my travel luggage with me. “Thanks for the ride!”
I ran through the open gates and hit the button on the control panel to close them after me. As they swung shut, the driver gave one more curious glance at the party before pulling out.
I blew out my breath, my bangs fluttering. One crisis averted for the day.
Then I whirled around and faced the party.
My heels clicked on the cobblestone driveway as I walked toward the house. Mama hated the apartment in the city and had convinced Baba she needed this property in the country. Coming from India, they were used to crowds and noise, but Mama wanted away from it all. So, two years ago they had purchased the monstrosity that sat in front of me. The mansion was worth approximately 20 million U.S. dollars. It had seven bathrooms, eight bedrooms, a movie theater and bowling alley, few of which Mama ever used.
It also boasted a pool and a tennis court in the back, plus a massive yard all ringed by trees or a high fence, another must-have for Supernaturals living among Regulars. I wondered what their rich neighbors thought of these yearly parties for which they received no invitation.
Tonight, the party was outside. Since the weather in late April was pretty touch-and-go, they must’ve woven some pretty elaborate weather spells because the air became warm, almost balmy, the closer I got to the house. Soon, I was shucking off my jacket tucking it under my arm.
Along with the cars beside the drive, a giant saddled toad squatted on the lawn, looking sleepy and unamused. There was also a skeletal horse and a bovine-looking creature made of sticks that Death, himself, would gladly ride.
Good thing I didn’t let that driver in or he might have shit a brick.
A figure strode out the front doors and made a beeline for me. It didn’t take me long to recognize Viraj, my sixteen-year-old brother, the only one nice enough to greet me.
“What up, little brother?” I said, pulling him into a one-armed hug.
“‘Sup. How was the flight? I can’t believe they made you fly commercial. Did you have to go through security?” Viraj pulled back, offering to take my bag.
“Yes,” I said, annoyed, as I let him take my bag. “I’m beat. But it’s party time.” I danced a bit, fake partying while rolling my eyes.
“Tell me, V. What’s the deal with this thing, anyway? Is there some prize for throwing the most ridiculous event? Because if so, they would win.”
Viraj rolled his eyes along with me. “Wait ‘til you see the backyard. Come on.”
We walked up the stone steps and into the foyer, Viraj tucking my bag in a hall closet before leading me through to the kitchen. Mama’s half-million-dollar kitchen remodel looked great, but they’d hired catering which had set up outside. Viraj and I wasted no time exiting out the patio doors and into the fray.
The party was over the top. The big top. The circus tent was massive, red and white, and flapped gently in the breeze. Lights draped down the sides and illuminated a wild scene—witches dancing, zoo animals milling about, and someone high up on a trapeze swinging back and forth without a net. There were tame lions on big round platforms, baboons in funny outfits (which appeared to be drinking champagne) and at least one elephant that I could see.
As I watched, a Capuchin monkey climbed up a warlock’s cape, stole his baked brie appetizer, and scampered up a tent pole. There was a shout and a spray of blue sparks that sent the monkey shrieking away. A few people laughed while a few admonished the man for sparking a poor monkey’s bottom.
There were witches and warlocks in the pool in various states of undress. Four were occupied in a chicken fight, women on top of the men’s shoulders as they wrestled and laughed, while another couple canoodled in the corner.
They were drunk and disorderly. Wild and crazy. Did I mention most of these people were already getting their AARP discount cards? I mean, get a room.
Ten minutes of this and I was going to be hiding in my room with headphones on catching up on seasons of The Bachelor.
Mama drew me into an embrace before I could even turn around. I whirled and hugged her back, admiring her feminine ringmaster suit, as she spoke uninterrupted sentences into my ears.
“The flight was good, eh? Great. Your cousin is here. Make sure to say hello and please don’t touch the blue cauldron, it is not for children. Also, Uncle would like to speak to you about a job opportunity. When did you get so skinny?”
She gave me a quick appraising look before patting my cheek, then catching someone else’s eye. “Marques, over here. Try the brie!”
Before I could say a word, Mama disappeared into the crowd of cavorters. Baba waved to me across the pool and went back to his conversation with a very tall warlock in sparkly blue robes.
I glanced to Viraj, my only co-conspirator, and we shared a knowing look. Mama was in her element. She would be busy all night, tomorrow, and possibly the next day with guests, networking and impressing all the “right” people.
So, it was about time for me to slip upstairs.
I gave Viraj’s hand a squeeze and turned to go inside, but he stopped me.
“Hey, before you go. There’s someone I want you to meet.”
Now, he sounded like Mama. But, my baby brother normally hated these things as much as I did. If he was keeping me from my bed and a hot TV date, it had to be important. I raised an eyebrow at him.
He held out his hands in a soothing gesture. “I know. These parties are awful, but there’s a dude I want you to meet. He’s cool. Really cool. I met him on one of my online games and started chatting—”
“Let me guess,” I interrupted. “He has an amazing opportunity for you. All you need is three thousand dollars. Orrr, he’s the hottest guy. You’ve never met him in person, but you’re sure you’re in love. And there’s no way he’s some fifty-something, live-in-his-mama’s-basement loser. Viraj, come on.”
“He isn’t gay,” Viraj said in a way that sounded like he wanted to add “unfortunately.”
I raised my eyebrow even further.
“He’s just… cool. Come on. It’ll take two seconds.” He pulled me through the crowd.
We wove through partygoers, passing a table with trays of flaming hors d’ oeuvres and some sort of Regular’s magic show where a clown was attempting to pull brightly colored scarves out of his mouth. Everyone was getting a kick out of his sleight-of-hand, laughing at his antics and really yucking it up at how Regulars performed “magic.”
I wanted to watch his disappearing rabbit trick, but Viraj dragged me away.
He managed to lead us through the crowd and down a path to a back garden where the noise and showmanship were less overwhelming. Mama’s flowers were not in bloom yet, but the trees had started to bud. Their angled branches gave us cover and protection from the lights and sound of the party. Here, the chatter and music were faint and a trickle from the stone waterfall soothed my nerves.
Ahead, beside the gravel path, a man sat on the stone bench. He was talking on a cell phone but quickly ended the call as we approached.
“Hey, Drew,” my brother said, giving him a wave. “This is my sister. The one I’ve been telling you about.”
I conjured a witch light and floated it up between us so I could get a better look.
Drew glanced up at me with giant brown eyes. He was tall, dark and handsome, exactly the type my brother would fall for, and if I was honest, exactly the type I would fall for as well. Over six-foot tall, he was trim and muscular with short, wavy black hair and dark eyebrows. Judging from his features and skin tone, he might be Indian American like my family or perhaps Bangladeshi or Pakistani. Either way, Mama would be pleased.
God, he was handsome. And was I already sweating? I needed to pull it together!
But, I was getting ahead of myself. Judging from his expensive cell phone, watch and suit, he was rich and knew it. Growing up in this neighborhood, I’d had enough of spoiled rich boys and their attitudes. They always thought they deserved something just for breathing. No, my type was much more socio-economically typical.
I extended a stiff hand, adopting an expression that I hope conveyed no interest in him. “Drew, is it? How do you know Viraj?”
My tone was distrusting and sharp. Viraj stared at me like I was embarrassing him, but Drew didn’t seem to miss a beat.
“Hi, Disha. Nice to meet you. Viraj has told me a lot about you. And, to answer your question, I met Viraj online, but it’s not as weird and creepy as it seems.” He gave a casual laugh.
“Disha,” Viraj whispered, elbowing me.
I stood my ground. “What is a grown man doing befriending a boy on a video game? And who invited you to this party?”
“I did,” Viraj hissed.
Drew gave a disarming smile. “Hey, I get it. It’s weird. Maybe I should go.”
He started to walk back toward the party, giving me a calm smile and nodding to Viraj. I felt satisfied, great at being a protective big sister, but then Viraj grabbed my arm.
“You idiot,” he said. “Drew is practically royalty. I had him come here, one because he’s cool and two because he’s perfect for you. And you’re blowing it!” He hissed the last line, giving my elbow a shake.
I was about to remind him that I could still get him in a Full Nelson, heels or not, but then his words registered in my brain.
“Yes! His father is head of the High Council. As in, head of all magic. Internationally.” He made bug-eyes at me.
Wow. The High Council of Magic oversaw everything. Drew was basically magical royalty. A prince of sorts. But, what did I care about that? I rolled my eyes at Viraj.
“You must believe I’m pretty shallow if that’s all you think I care about.”
“Besides all that, he’s a cool dude. Like, hella nice. Like, save-the-orphans, help-an- old-lady-across-the-street nice.”
I glanced across the garden path. Drew was on his cell phone again, keeping a polite distance to avoid eavesdropping on our conversation. So what if he was handsome and nice? That didn’t mean he was my type.
“Disha, I’m trying to save you. Mama has a list.”
“A list?” I asked, my heart starting to pound.
“Yes, a list of guys she’s going to introduce you to this summer. I’ve seen it. None of them are under twenty-five and none of them are like Drew. One is an IRS agent.”
Oh God, I’d forgotten that Mama was sure I needed a serious boyfriend, one that she would approve of. If Viraj was right, she would spend all summer parading guys through our house, trying desperately to get me to go on dates with them. And Mama’s choice in guys was notoriously terrible. They were all boring and stuffy and predictable. She’d make me miserable if I couldn’t find a way to fend her off.
I stared at Drew’s shadow.
“Go talk to him,” Viraj begged.
“Fine.” I doused my witch light and gave Viraj a pointed look which he probably couldn’t see since it had grown dark. Whatever. If Drew was terrible, I could take it out on my brother later by unplugging his gaming PC during a campaign or something.
I walked over to where Drew was standing and took a deep breath. I waited for him to quickly end his call before I extended my hand again.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m sorry if I was rude. My brother says you’re cool. Let’s start over.”
“No problem, Disha. I dig the big sister vibe.”
He put his strong hand in mine as his eyes lock onto me. In the moonlight, a giant smile spread across his devastatingly handsome face. Rich, hot as hell, and not picked out by my mother.
God, I was in trouble.
Coming this Friday! Stay tuned for more info!
Everybody loves witches. Or so it seems. Whether it's Sabrina, Hermione, or Melisandre, lately people can't seem to get enough. So, here are the best new academy witch books for your growing tastes.
The Hidden Witch by Chandelle LaVaun
Magic. Isn’t. Real. At least that's what I thought. But now, my story is changing...
You know you’re invisible when even your bullies forget to pick on you. That’s me, Bettina Blair, hidden in plain sight. No matter how hard I try I just never fit in with my classmates.
Now I know why. I’m a witch...apparently.
One little demon attack and my parents confess their ugly secret…and ship me off to an elite academy of magic- for witches only.
I can't summon magic. I can't fight with my hands or my fists. I just don't belong here, and Jackson Lancaster keeps reminding me every single chance he gets. This boy is the most insufferable, intolerable, unbearable, judgmental person to ever have the right to be that gorgeous. I don’t care how sexy his British accent is, or that literally everyone else on campus adores him. He hates me, and the feeling is mutual.
Suddenly, I’m sent on a quest into the Old Lands to find the only thing that can save Eden from a demon invasion. I’m in way over my head, and my best chance of coming back alive lies in the hands of the guy who wants me gone…
Check it out here.
Magical Creatures Academy by Lucia Ashta
Rina Nelle Mont has never been a part of the paranormal world. Until now.
Well, maybe not. The Magical Creatures Academy only accepts supernaturals, and she’s been invited to the school, but she has none of the powers she’s supposed to. Blip. Nada. Not even a spark.
The school hasn’t made a mistake in a century, but she might be the first one. That’s just the kind of thing that would happen to her. Especially since no one has any idea what kind of creature she’ll be … assuming her powers ever decide to make an appearance.
The Academy is the leading institution for paranormal creatures in the world. Its students are the finest of shifters, vampires, and fae.
Speaking of fine fae … Leander Verion, prince of the elves, is off limits. Not only is he arrogant, stubborn, and totally not her style, he’s her brother’s best friend. She will not fall for him. No way. Besides, he’s not interested … is he?
When two men who head the Shifter Alliance, a rebel faction of shapeshifters who seek to escape the control of the Enforcers—the supernatural police force—find out about Rina and her potential for a different kind of magic, they hunt her. For them, the stakes are as personal as they get.
Whether she’s ready or not, Rina is about to find out what she’s made of…
Check it out here.
Supernatural Spy Academy by Yumoyori Wilson
When being different leads to the best years of your life.
There are three key components required to get into the most prestigious, top spy academy in the world:
My name is Silver Spell Solange. No, I didn't plan for my initials to be the same rank needed to enter the spy academy. But I would do anything to get into the one of a kind school. I have the magical capability of an Elemental Witch, the strength to kick anyone's ass, and quick problem-solving skills to get my teammates out of any jam. There’s only one small problem – the other 'S' I’m missing.
I'm not a part of the supernatural race.
After realizing that my only shot at my dreams is at the brink of extinction, I'm unexpectedly teamed up with a werewolf, a dragon, a fallen angel, and a hellhound. The four of them carry the assets and abilities I need to gain my spot into the Supernatural Spy Academy (SSS).
With the clock ticking and not much leg room for an SS score, I accept their bet, knowing I’ll easily handle whatever they request from me.
I didn't think their bet would lead me to date all four them.
It's time for me to buckle up. This four-year roller coaster is about to begin, and its a bumpy one-way ticket to becoming the next "supernatural" spy.
Check it out here.
AND OF COURSE, FRESHMAN WITCH, OUR NEW BOOK!
Of course, magic is real. Everybody knows that.
Since it came out on the news that Supernaturals exist, I’ve heard they can do spells, shapeshift, live forever, you name it. Wonderful, right?
In my world—where I’m homeless and spend my time avoiding rats and meth heads—magic sounds like major BS.
But, when I’m accused of stealing and they’re about to arrest me, the item I took disappears from my hand as if by magic. WTF?
Just like that, the Supernatural Academy swoops in and recruits me. But I don’t belong there, and everyone else agrees, including, Rowan Underwood, this rich and annoyingly handsome warlock who has it in for me. He’s investigating the theft of magical artifacts, and he thinks I’m involved.
Seriously? I just got here.
But I can’t worry about that, not while dead kings try to drain my essence or a spell from these angry pixie minotaurs sends my hair follicles into overdrive until I look like Cousin It.
Yet, I can’t avoid Rowan, and while I learn enough magic to stay alive, I also need to keep myself from falling for a guy who’s clearly my worst decision ever.
You’ll love this magical academy book because everyone wants a chance to become who they are truly meant to be.
Get it now.
I cannot wait for this book to release. It's got action, hilarious banter, a hot romance and MAGIC! There's something in here to please everyone. And to prove it, today I offer you the first chapter of book one, releasing April 23rd.
I was no dentist, but I was sure Trey’s tooth was a goner.
It would really affect his ego, losing a front not-so-pearly white, but that was just the shitty life we lived, a life where teeth were a luxury.
Trey was telling everyone that the guy who punched him was so strong he must have been an actual werewolf, but that was also his ego talking. I’d seen the guy who decked Trey, and he’d seemed pretty normal to me—not that I was an expert at identifying Supernaturals—but I didn’t imagine they stole hamburgers out of people’s hands. Some of them probably could magically make juicy filet mignons appear out of thin air.
Besides, the only real Supernaturals I’d ever seen—a couple of warlocks in black cloaks despite the heat—had seemed pretty well-fed to me. Supers weren’t all that common since only certain people had the required DNA to be one or become one, or some such nonsense. Not that I knew much about that. I was just a Regular, according to their terms.
The Supernaturals kept to themselves for the most part since their “coming-out” ten years ago. Sure, it took most people a long while to actually believe they existed and by then, the hysteria had mostly settled down. There were witches and warlocks, vampires, werewolves, and more lurking among us. They were regulated, though, registered and under control. At least, that’s what we were told on the news. And, I’d never seen anything to the contrary.
Plus, we didn’t exactly get the news pumped into the abandoned warehouse Trey and I called home. We were too busy trying to survive to worry about who might be riding brooms or howling at the moon. Normal humans were way more dangerous, thus Trey’s tooth predicament and my mission to save the day.
As I rode on my skateboard, tall buildings surrounded me, their thousands of glass windows sparkling under the scorching sun. Office workers rushed around like ants on their lunch break, suffering the heat that radiated from all the concrete. Summer in Hotlanta had to be as close to Hell as one could get this side of eternity.
The wheels of my board clacked against the concrete sidewalk as I swerved around one of the suits who worked at the Georgia Pacific Tower. Like usual, I got a dirty look from the man, a stodgy middle-aged dude with a watch so big and fancy it could probably feed Trey and me for six months. Suit types didn’t take well to a homeless teenage girl on a skateboard. Go figure.
Ignoring him, I pushed with my right leg, speeding up, and turned toward the convenience store. When I got there, I hopped off, flipped the skateboard into my hands, and tucked it under my arm.
Head down, I walked into the store and stopped in front of the aisle with the small section of over-the-counter medicine. The smell of stale hot dogs from the roller grill saturated the air, reminding me I hadn’t eaten lunch… or breakfast.
Ignoring my rumbling stomach, I perused through the medicine, searching for something to help Trey with his toothache.
The big bottle of ibuprofen was twelve bucks, so I picked a small one that looked like a tube of Chapstick. It only had ten pills in it, but maybe they would hold off the pain until he came to terms with his loss and decided to go to the Good Samaritan Health Center where dental students pulled teeth out for free. Also, the ten pills only cost three dollars, which the five-dollar bill in my pocket could actually afford.
A box of toothache gel caught my eye. I picked it up and checked the price. Five ninety-nine. Damn. Why was medicine so expensive?
My gaze darted toward the door, then the cashier. He was staring straight at me. Crap. My attention snapped back to the medicine boxes in front of me.
Out of nowhere, there was a twist in my gut, and I felt like throwing up. I winced, swallowing and rubbing my stomach. Great. All I needed was to get sick, too. But what did I expect from eating street tacos for dinner last night?
Another wave of nausea hit me, and a whooshing sound filled my ears. My chest tingled. I blinked, head swimming. The entire store started spinning.
I squeezed my eyes shut and took deep breaths, willing the vertigo away. It disappeared. Suddenly, I was fine.
What the hell? Was I having a panic attack? A seizure?
The electronic ding-dong on the door sounded as someone else entered the store. My eyes sprang open as I heard their steps in the aisle behind me. The new customer pushed all the way to the back where the cold drinks were kept in glass-door refrigerators.
I glanced back and saw an old lady browsing for something to drink, her back to me. She wore a muumuu dress in a red, funky pattern that suggested a flower garden had thrown up on it. It stopped mid-calf and hung loose around her bent-over shape, looking more like a old curtain than any sort of clothing. Gray, wiry hair hung in thin strips down to her shoulders, and a pair of massive orange Crocs capped her feet.
As she stood there, she juggled a walking stick from one hand to another, her movements not bad for someone her age. I smiled. I bet she could fend of any pickpocket who tried to slip his hand into her double-wide sized purse. I was enthralled by her confident attitude despite her misplaced fashion sense and extreme age. That was what I wanted to be like at eighty, a badass old lady in orange crocs.
After a moment of pondering, she opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of prune juice. I almost gagged. Nevermind. I definitely didn’t want a future with prune juice in it.
Drink in hand, the lady turned on her heel and headed for the register. This time, she took the aisle in front of me. Her profile was all edges: hook nose, sharp jaw, jutting chin. A huge wart like a ready-to-burst tick clung to the end of her eyebrow.
Sensing my attention, she turned her two-toned eyes on me and bared a smile with a missing front tooth. I hunched over, lowering my head and wondering why one of her eyes had been so cloudy. Cataracts, maybe? The good feeling drained out of me completely.
Was that how Trey and I would look after a lifetime of homelessness? Half blind and toothless? Trey wasn’t even twenty, and he was about to lose his first tooth. Would we end up drinking our food and buying prune juice to unclog our pipes? I shook myself out of my stupid thoughts. I tended to get carried away with my imagination at the worst times. Trey needed his medicine, and I was here daydreaming about how our pathetic lives would play out.
At the register, the old woman dug in her purse, her arm practically disappearing inside its folds. A minute later, she pulled out a zip bag full of coins and dropped it on the counter. The cashier stared at the bag, looking as if he was about to burst a blood vessel. He sneered at the old woman, clearly annoyed
“It’s money, ain’t it?” the woman asked in a voice that seemed to rustle like dry leaves. “Ain’t it?” she repeated in a louder tone, her head thrusting toward the man with insistence.
The cashier jumped back, eyes widening. “Get...get the hell out of here,” he barked. “We don’t serve your kind here.”
The a-hole! Why was he being so rude?
The poor lady was constipated, and she had to put up with this guy’s ignorant ass because she was homeless. All the signs were there. I’d been living on the streets long enough to spot one of us.
Unsure of what made me do it—I seriously despised confrontations—I stepped out of the aisle and let the cashier have it.
“What the hell’s the matter with you? No one taught you to be nice to your elders, you jack wad? Give her some respect.” I gestured toward the old lady, my hand tightening around the ibuprofen as anger roiled in my chest. It was one thing to push around a teenage kid, quite another to disrespect a poor grandma.
He glanced at me, looking pissed. “You’re… with her, aren’t you? I knew you were no good!” He leaned forward, a hand reaching under the counter.
Uh-oh. Just the reason I’d learned to mind my own business.
Defensive instincts kicking in, I took two strides toward the lady and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Let’s get out of here,” I said.
At the touch, a crawling sensation traveled up my arm, feeling like the hairy legs of many spiders marching toward a trapped fly. I shivered. My ears started thudding with the beating of my own heart.
I jerked my hand away, unsure of what was happening to me.
The old lady’s head swiveled in my direction as if in slow motion. Her good eye focused on me, while the other one stood blank. By degrees, her wrinkled skin turned gray, while her nose widened and flattened, warts sprouting all around it. Her lips blackened and doubled in size. Her thin hair grew fuller and longer until it resembled a lion’s mane in shape and color. Small leaf-tipped branches sprang around her ears, and metal claws replaced her fingertips. She lifted her walking stick—now a gnarled, rotting branch—and shook it in my face.
Either I really was having a seizure or she was a… a Supernatural.
I took a step back, my insides trembling like gelatine. What the hell was she?
“Oh, shit!” the cashier exclaimed, jumping as far away from the counter as he could, pressing his back to a glass display of cigarette cartons.
“I have holy water,” he spat, reaching a trembling hand into his pocket. “I command you to go back to the pits of hell, evil spirit.”
“I’m not a spirit, you ignorant human. I’m Yama-uba, and I’m hungry.” She looked at me as if I were a medium-rare steak with a side of mashed potatoes.
Fear cracked across my body like a whip, and something inside me seemed to splinter. The nausea returned, and I felt physically ill again as if a flu virus from hell were threatening to fracture me in two. What was wrong with me?
Something like electricity sparked and crackle inside my chest as if I’d turned into a human taser gun, and I felt surrounded by an aura that was not my own.
The hag’s face morphed from hungry to terrified. “Witch!” she cried out, pointing a knobby finger in my direction. Her mouth opened wide, sharp, filth-encrusted teeth forming a terrifying maw. She hissed.
She was afraid of me?
The cashier screamed.
Then I ran.
Ran like my ass was on fire. I pushed out the door, threw my skateboard to the ground, and jumped on top of it, my heart hammering out of control.
Like a horror movie, the old woman’s face played on repeat inside my head, the image of her gaping mouth imprinted in my brain. Why had she yelled witch at me? And what was happening to my body? Forget Trey’s tooth, I need a psychiatrist, an electrician or both.
“Stop right there!” an hesitant, trembling voice shouted.
I had no idea who was screaming or exactly what was happening until someone shoved me from behind, and I went rolling on the ground, my knees and elbow hitting the sidewalk as I spun two or three times. Pain blared from multiple scrapes and cuts, but the constant thrum of fear and nausea blotted everything else out. I was being attacked.
I sprang to my feet on my last tumble and found the cashier bearing down on me like a madman.
“It was all a trick,” he said in a trembling voice, “so you could steal from me.”
My eyes darted behind him, searching for the old woman. No one was there, not even inside the store. But what the hell? Why was this doucheface out here accusing me of stealing, instead of cowering inside?
I pulled my hands behind my back, desperately trying to figure out how to get rid of the medicine I’d accidentally taken with me.
As my luck would have it, the commotion attracted the attention of a Path Force police officer who was riding his bicycle in the opposite direction and, on a dime, turned and started pedaling toward us instead.
People stopped to gawk. Sweat trickled down my back as I clenched my teeth and tried to decide whether or not to run for it. I glanced around looking for my skateboard, but it had rolled under a parked car. My body ached and my ankle felt tweaked, if not sprained. Running wouldn’t really work.
My throat closed off, panic climbing up from my chest. There was no way I could outrun a cop on a bike even in tip-top shape. I was screwed.
Too fast, the cop was there, hopping off his bicycle and demanding what was happening.
“She’s a thief,” the cashier said. “She stole from me, pulling some con with one of those Supernatural freaks.” He pointed toward the store as he said the last word like a nasty slur.
“I’m not a thief,” I said. I’d never stolen anything in my life, despite needing to. Many times. This was just a big misunderstanding.
“Young lady, did you steal something from this man’s store?” the cop asked, glaring down at me from under his stupid bike helmet.
No, I didn’t.
I knew I hadn’t, but the proof was in my hand, behind my back. If only… if only I could get rid of it.
“I… didn’t,” I croaked. My chest tingled with that same energy from before, a sort of crackling burst of electricity that didn’t hurt so much as light up every cell in my body.
“Yeah, right. All you freaks are the same,” the cashier said, crossing his arms over his sunken chest.
“Can you please show me your hands?” the cop asked, gesturing to them with one gloved hand.
Aware that there was no other alternative, I extended my hands forward, palms up.
To my surprise, they were empty.
Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! On this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 120 hours!
If you don't know me, my name is Katie French, your hostess for this leg of the hunt.
I write YA dystopian romance and kissy stuff with dragons. I have three kids, teach high school English, and yes, I will make you read Of Mice and Men (one of my favs) and there will be a quiz.
(Kidding. Or am I?)
WHAT TO DO FOR THE HUNT
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GREEN TEAM--but there is also a red team, a gold team, a green team, a purple team, and a pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!
If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the green team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, Oct 7th at noon Pacific time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
I am super excited to be hosting GINA DAMICO.
The book she is showcasing is Waste of Space.
Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York, but is seemed like 28 feet some days. She has since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. She is the author of the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy (CROAK, SCORCH, and ROGUE), HELLHOLE, WAX and WASTE OF SPACE, all published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two cats, one dog, and and obscene amount of weird things purchased at yard sales.
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT - An excerpt from WASTE OF SPACE, her awesome book about ten hormonal teens in a spaceship that becomes an ill-conceived reality show. How cool is that!
Item: Transcript of audio recording
Description: DV8 conference call
Date: January 16
Chazz Young: Hey guys! Chazz here.
So I’d like to bring the entire DV8 family up to speed on our new project. As mentioned at the companywide meeting last week, this project is going to be groundbreaking. It’s going to break, like, every ground that’s been put there since television started.
So over the past week we’ve been holding casting sessions in cities around the country, and—hang on a sec, before I go any further, we all need to give up some mad, mad props to the publicity department. Thanks to your commercials, press releases, and social media efforts, over ten thousand kids came out to audition! That’s a lot of hormones to shoot into orbit!
So as usual, we’re implementing the classic smash-and-grab casting technique that our network has become famous for. Any of you out there who are new to the DV8 family, allow me to elaborate on our patented selection process. Back when we were a tiny, fledgling network that didn’t know any better, we dragged out the audition process for weeks. We left no stones unturned, no cell phones untapped. We were thoroughly exhaustive in our attempts to pinpoint what potential castmates might do to one another. But let us recall the season four finale of Alaskan Sex Igloo. We had thought, based on Saffron’s tendency to fly off the handle and start stabbing things, that she would break one of the icicles off the ceiling and use it to stab Khaleesi. We spent all season leading up to it, right? With foreboding music? And tasteful close-ups of the icicles? And Saffron’s confessional where she talked about “getting her stab on”? It’s why we cast her. But for all of our efforts, look what happened—she and Khaleesi hugged and cried and shared a snowcone. With Jared. Jared was the one who was supposed to be so lonely and ignored that he left the safety of the igloo to seek the loving embrace of a grizzly bear!
But the bears never came. And no one got stabbed.
From that point forward, we decided to take a more hands-off approach. Now, rather than have the whittled-down pool of applicants come in for a final round of casting, we simply go with our gut reactions and finalize the cast based on their original, uncut interviews. In fact, we whisk them directly out of the auditions as soon as their parents or guardians sign the wavier! (Reminder to all employees: any questions from the press that contain the word “kidnapping” should be forwarded straight to the PR department.) And so we are proud to announce that we have already chosen the final ten cast members—only one week after auditions! And as per usual, we’ll be throwing all sorts of plot bombs and crazy situations at the poor bastards--with the new added twist of a live segment at the end of each episode.
Of course, we’ll still leave some things up to chance. Fifteen percent of the editing will be done on the fly, based solely on the relationships and developments that we’ll be monitoring closely over the course of each week. Who knows how it’ll unfold? Who knows where it’ll lead? Who knows what those hyperactive, questionably-sane kids will throw at us?
I do: Drama.
FIND THE BOOK HERE.
CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! JOSHUA DAVID BELLIN. GO HERE TO CONTINUE THE HUNT.
Luminous is here! The first book in the young adult reverse harem urban fantasy is available now. And to celebrate, we are giving away an Amazon Gift Card. Entering is easy. You can even do it more than once. See below for details and in the meantime check out Luminous. Only 99 cents for a limited time only. Go to the book now.
"There is romance, intrigue, and a satisfying story to tickle the imagination.
I loved it! Hurry with the next one."
"I have to say I really enjoyed reading this book. A strong heroine , sexy dragons and a good story are the basics of this book. Entertainment for all ages!"
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Did you know Breeders 1, 2, and 3 are available on audio book? Get a 30 day free trial of Audible and listen to them for free!
Katie French is the author of The Breeders, a Young Adult dystopian adventure and Eyes Ever to the Sky, a sci fi romance. Nessa: A Breeders Story, a prequel novelette is available on Amazon for FREE. Sign up for notifications, or like her on Facebook.