Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Your Mid-Week Update for 11/14/18

I had to look up what I posted last week because I could not remember writing anything. It turns out that was for the best. Certainly, you all deserve an update but sometimes, there isn’t enough content in the world to make up for the shit I write. Please remember that I am human (despite all other statements to the contrary) and sometimes things happen. I’m feeling much more lucid now and am back to killing random people on the street thanks to what will hopefully be the official entrance of winter. At least then I can justify all of the Christmas music that has been in my head lately.

The holidays are not the most festive time in our household but there’s something about this year that just feels lighter. Also, I normally hate – and murder – the people who start celebrating Christmas as soon as Halloween is over, I feel like having something nice and traditional and uplifting to look forward to would be really nice. Even if it is excessively early.

I’m not like Heather who gets her decorations out on November 1st, but I won’t necessarily skip the upbeat popped out festive tunes when they come on the radio…or when I specifically turn them on.

I just think, maybe, we need little extra dose of cheer in our lives as the year draws to a close. Yes, that’s a bit optimistic for a serial killer but even I’m not heartless. I’ve rendered other people heartless (by ripping out said hearts, you get the picture) but at the end of the day, I gotta live here too. I don’t have the same death wish “fuck it” attitude I once had. I am actively existing with a family and friends in a world that is not very forgiving – least of all by me. I can’t begrudge people their small joys.

At least I’m going to try not to. Sometimes what brings me joy is taking joy from others. And my happiness comes first above all else (except for my husband and son of course).

Look at me. Making exceptions for people just because I love them.

Have I become soft lately? Should I go back to hating without conscience and screw the consequences? Honestly, I think all that changed with Sandra and I don’t want to go back. Even being a little more cautious in the life I lead makes me sleep easier. Except for the past few weeks.

I wasn’t joking on Halloween: there is someone following me. I can feel it. I haven’t seen anyone since that first time, but I can hear movement in my house when I know I’m alone. I can feel eyes on me when out on the street. I’m not crazy. I just want to know if they are. I can’t handle another Daniel situation.

Can I have a month of peace from the other bad guys in the world? Just one month when some drama or other isn’t threatening me and my family. Just me, my husband, my son, and some murder. Is that so much to ask for?

As always, dear readers,

Stay Safe

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Cover Reveal for Scales by Nicole Conway

Today Nicole Conway, Owl Hollow Press, and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for SCALES, her new MG/YA Fantasy Book which releases in 2019! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!

On to the reveal! 

Title: SCALES (Spirits of Chaos, #1)
Author: Nicole Conway
Pub. Date: 2019
Publisher: Owl Hollow Press
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: ?
Find it: Goodreads

When New York City faces the threat of an ancient evil, a teenage boy must use a magical bracelet to transform into a monster-slaying dragon superhero.

Koji Owens is the new kid … again. As the only son of an Air Force F-16 pilot, he’s learned to adapt and survive every time they move. It’s not easy starting over with new friends and schools every two years, but when the Owens family makes their final move to New York, Koji finally has hope for a normal high school life—that is, until he finds a strange bracelet in his locker.

Transformed into a storm-summoning dragon warrior, Koji finds himself caught up in a world of ancient powers, secret identities, and colossal monsters threatening to destroy his new home. But these awesome powers come with strings attached, and revealing his true identity could mean losing everything he loves. With his family and friends now in mortal danger and New York City in flames, Koji must find the courage to become the hero they need and face down an enemy hiding in plain sight.

A comic-obsessed teenage misfit embraces his inner hero in this action-packed adventure that will leave you ready to get your scales on!

Exclusive Excerpt!

Piercing light bloomed from the totem scale. It swept over me and took away my pain, molding and stretching me into my full dragon form. The instant the searing energy coursed through my body, I launched myself into the sky.

I didn’t have a single second to waste.

Now that I was a beast of comparable size, I crested the skyscrapers in a few powerful beats of my wings. From a few blocks away, the wyvern spotted me. It let out a howl of fury as it surged straight for me. I answered with a battle cry of my own, driving more and more power into every beat of my mighty black wings.

Two F-22 fighter jets rolled in on either side, joining me in aerial formation. Their engines roared, and both pilots gave me a confirming thumb’s up. They were following me in for the attack.

I’d never felt so cool in my entire life.

I clashed with the wyvern in the air over Central Park, clamping my jaws around his throat. I prepared to give him a taste of my lightning, the same way I had the crocodile monster. One good jolt and maybe I could bring him down.

Before I get a good grip, he swung his spiked tail and whacked me across the eyes. I let go, snatching back with a roar.

            He dove at me; his toothy mandible jaws open wide to rip my throat out.

A sudden plume of fire scorched his hide and sent him reeling. I drew back, wary of the blistering flames.

            Another giant dragon clashed in battle, had scales as red as fresh blood and a ridge of tall, slender black spines all the way down her back. My breath caught. Madeline? She’d gone full-form, too?

She attacked the wyvern mercilessly, pinning him under another blast of her fiery breath.

            Shaking off the blow to my head, I charged headlong back into the fight, lightning sizzling and popping off my open jaws. We had to get him on the ground. If we could pin him there, he’d be within range of ground fire and an easier target for our air support. We could contain the damage to the rest of the city, too.

So I went for one of the wyvern’s wings full-force.

            Fyurei had him distracted. He never saw me coming. I swooped in to break one of his wings at the shoulders with a single powerful crunch of my jaws and sharp jerk of my head. The creature screeched and kicked, floundering with his one good wing and swinging his tail like a medieval mace. The bulbous, spiky tip struck one of the F-22 jets and sent the aircraft flipping through the air end over end. Not good. I watched the aircraft fall, waiting for the pilot to eject.

            He didn’t.

            I didn’t hesitate—I dove straight after the jet, summoning every bit of speed I had. The jet spiraled, smoking and streaking toward the ground. I threw myself the final distance with a desperate cry, jaws open wide.

I caught the tail of the jet in my teeth about a hundred feet shy of the ground. As soon as my jaws clamped onto the metal, I reared back, kicked my legs out, and flared for an emergency landing right in the middle of the park.

It took a second for the dust, snow, and trees to settle.

Picking the jet carefully out of my mouth, I held it up to my huge dragon eyeball like a little kid’s toy. Inside the cockpit, the tiny pilot was giving me a shaky thumb’s up. He was okay.

I gave him my best dragon smile, terrifying as it probably was, and placed his jet, right side up, on a grassy spot in the park. Then I turned around to get back to business. I still had some wyvern rear end to roast and an evil headmaster in dire need of reeducation.

About Nicole:

MY NAME IS NICOLE CONWAY and I love to write stories! I've been writing books since I was very young, and am blessed beyond measure to be able to do it now as a full time career. Although I sometimes step out into other genres, I primarily write Fantasy for teens and middle graders.

I graduated from Auburn University in 2012, which is also where I met my husband. As a military family, we move frequently and have lived numerous places all around the world. We have one very energetic son, Ethan. We also have two dogs (French Brittanys) named Joey (currently 5 months old) and Phoebe (4 years old) and a ball python named Noodle Nagini.

For inquiries on how to book me for a school visit, presentation, or interest in my future or current projects, please contact my amazing literary agent, FRAN BLACK, of Literary Counsel.

Giveaway Details:
One lucky winner will win an ARC of SCALES, US Only.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Your Mid-Week Update for 11/07/18

I am currently writing this in the midst of an oawful fever so pease excuse any spelling or grmamrr. Guys, being sick sucks. A lot . I can barely keep my eyes open and I feel like the insdie of my face is on fire. You know the type of scik wehre you can’t even sleep due to congestion so you’re just ocntantly exhausted. I don’t even have the nergy to kill this week. I just want to sleep and maybe sleep some more. But noooo I have to go to work andtake care of my family and not die from congestion. I don’t even have any decongrestant in my house – I have to leave my house and go buy some and I just so far away. You thought man-colds were bad, just wait until a woman actually complains about being sick. Is that sexist? I’m nto sure anymore. Is it just the truth and still sexist? Is it a stereotype that has enough ring of truth that we don’t question it enough? Where is the line? Ignore me, dear readers, I’m nust being grumpy. But I really do need to go buy cold meds so I can back to bed.

Rememebrr to take care of your body. It’s really shutty when yu don’t.

As always, dear raders,

Stay Safe


It’s been a few hours. I’ve had a nap. I was very tired. I stand by…some of what I said. Take care of your mind and body. I’m also going to attempt to translate what I wrote.

Let’s see.

I am currently writing this in the midst of an awful fever so please excuse any spelling or grammar. Guys, being sick sucks. A lot. I can barely keep my eyes open and I feel like the inside of my face is on fire. You know the type of sick where you can’t even sleep due to congestion so you’re just constantly exhausted. I don’t even have the energy to kill this week. I just want to sleep and maybe sleep some more. But noooo I have to go to work and take care of my family and not die from congestion. I don’t even have any decongestant in my house – I have to leave my house and go buy some and I just so far away. You thought man-colds were bad, just wait until a woman actually complains about being sick. Is that sexist? I’m not sure anymore. Is it just the truth and still sexist? Is it a stereotype that has enough ring of truth that we don’t question it enough? Where is the line? Ignore me, dear readers, I’m just being grumpy. But I really do need to go buy cold meds so I can back to bed.

Remember to take care of your body. It’s really shitty when you don’t.

That wasn’t too bad. Seriously just…I’m going to bed.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Excerpt of Releasing the Dragon by K.L. Bone

Title: RELEASING THE DRAGON (The Flames of Kalleen #2)
Author: K.L. Bone
Pub. Date: October 25, 2018
Publisher: K.L. Bone
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 214
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N

7,000 years ago, an Amethystine dragon fell in love with a Kalleen princess, and nearly uncovered an unholy truth. As a consequence, to protect the status quo, the Amethystine were banished from the kingdom, their very existence wiped from the epics of history. 


Plagued by inescapable nightmares, Amelia wonders if the unknown dragon in her dreams, whose boundless fury destroys all she loves, is a glimpse of an ancient past…or uncertain future? 

Despite her fears, the newly crowned Dragon Queen must find the courage to face the kingdom’s darkest secrets. Evil truths that those who prefer the old ways, especially the temple’s powerful leaders, will go to any length to keep in eternal shadow. 

Standing steadfast by her side, Amelia's Captain Gwain, and newfound love Conner, strive to assist her. In their quest to forge a new kingdom, one free from oppression of those not blessed with a dragon form, Amelia delves deeper into the temple’s corruption and uncovers the horrors wrought upon her kingdom’s children in the name of control and power. A necessary task, for a better future, but her revelations could spark a civil war between the temples’ devoted followers and those sworn to the royal dragon bloodline.

Title: EMBRACING THE DRAGON (The Flames of Kalleen #1)
Author: K.L. Bone
Pub. Date: August 2018
Publisher: K.L. Bone
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 354
Find it: GoodreadsAmazoniBooks

Can a human heart withstand the flames of a dragon’s soul? 

For centuries, the dragons of Kalleen have ruled the skies. Blessed by the goddess of fire, those born of her power are destined to exist within two worlds, while fully belonging to neither.

As the youngest daughter of the dragon queen, Amelia has always been torn between her humanity and winged form. In meeting Stephen, she found a blossoming love that gave her hope of finding balance.

A dream destroyed when her sister, and future queen, sets her sights upon the same man.

Forced from her lover’s side, Amelia embraces a self-imposed exile, taking refuge in the northern mountains. In this new life of solitude, she banishes painful memories by retreating to her dragon form, sheltering the wounded girl within.

Yet it is an isolation that cannot last, as the new dragon queen’s cruelty bears down upon the kingdom, allowing an ancient enemy to rise. Drawn from her banishment by the pleas of friends, Amelia must choose. Will she embrace the destructive beast within? Or draw upon the frail humanity that lingers dimly in her soul, in a desperate attempt to help her people, and mend a broken heart?

About K.L:
K.L. Bone is a bestselling author of dark fantasy and paranormal romance. Her works include the bestselling Black Rose Guard dark fantasy series. The bestselling Flames of Kalleen paranormal romance series. The Rise of the Temple Gods fantasy series. And a stand-alone science fiction novel, The Indoctrination.

Bone has a master’s degree in modern literary cultures and is working toward her PhD. She wrote her first short story at the age of fifteen and grew up with an equally great love of both classical literature and speculative fiction. Bone has spent the last few years as a bit of a world traveler, living in California, London, and most recently, Dublin. When not immersed in words, of her own creation or studies, you’ll find her traveling to mythical sites and Game of Thrones filming locations.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card, International.

Rafflecopter Embed Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
11/5/2018- Writer of WrongsExcerpt
11/6/2018- Adventures Thru WonderlandReview
11/7/2018- The Cozy Reading CornerExcerpt
11/8/2018- Viviana MacKadeExcerpt
11/9/2018- JB's Bookworms with Brandy MulderExcerpt

Week Two:
11/12/2018- Oh Hey! Books.Excerpt
11/13/2018- Loie DunnReview
11/14/2018- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
11/15/2018- BookHoundsExcerpt
11/16/2018- Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Your Mid-Week Update for 10/31/18

I feel like I’m going crazy. It could just be the holidays – you know I love Halloween. It’s my favourite excuse to go Michael Myers on a town.

Did you know I met Stanley Stiers? He was the inspiration for the character Michael Myers in Halloween. He’s dead now but when I was about 11, my family was on vacation and pulled over in a truck stop late at night. No one else was there except for an old man sitting in a corner. While my parents were getting food and directions, my sister and I sat with him. To this day I don’t know why but we both gravitated towards him as soon dad turned his back. We didn’t say anything – just coloured (because we were always colouring and destroying things). He seemed like a nice old man. Never smiled though. When our parents came to get us, he pulled out his wallet and gave my mother money. Presumably for our meal. A photo fell out. There were three children: two girls and one boy. The boy wasn’t smiling. On the back was written: Susie S., Stanley S., and Marie L. ’23. I handed it back but he shook his head. I still have that photo. Years later, I was googling prolific serial killers and psychopaths – for fun of course – and I came across a young man who killed his family and several people in town in 1923. He looked an awful lot like the boy in the photo.

I thought that was a sign. To keep digging. To keep learning. To give in. I had already been killing for years when I found out who he was. But it really was a sign.

I think I’m being followed. Just little things like the feeling of being watched; something in the corner of my eye. There was someone in the house again. I could hear the doors opening and closing, floorboards squeaking. Nothing was touched. So I have to wonder what they wanted.

In my line of work there’s always the chance of being found out and blackmailed or threatened. And being a women – often alone at night – there are those who would see me as a target. I’ve dealt with both. This isn’t that.

Maybe I am just crazy around the holidays but I’m not taking that chance.

I won’t be coming home tonight. And someone of you won’t either.

As always, dear readers,

Stay Safe

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Your Mid-Week Update for 10/24/18

You’d think I would be on board for The Purge but here’s my thing. People suck. They’re not good at things. They think they understand how the world works and don’t need to understand an art form in order to master it. Murder – like painting, or acting – is an art. It is constantly studied throughout a lifetime. You can’t go to school and learn everything you need to know to be successful. Art takes work. So to allow just anyone to pick up a knife and kill is reckless and irresponsible. There are people who are paid to do this or have spent their lives dedicated to the art. Why not leave it to them and allow others to continue to do what they have trained to do?

The more killers there are, the more demand for murder dies. And there is demand. There are assassins, spies, military men, full-time hobbyists all around. Why would there be so many already if there was nothing to be gained?

I understand the need to release tension and the urge to let loose all the furry that a landscape architect could possibly muster; but it’s just not a viable option. They don’t know what they’re doing but they think they do because they see it on TV. I hate when people think because they read one book or watched movie, they’re suddenly an expert (on any subject). No! You’re just an entitled asshole.

My point is: as much fun as The Purge looks, it’s not a practical. You know what would help reduce stress and anger? A better economic, social, emotional, financial, ecological, political, sexual (any sort of -al) environment. Maybe fix the other broken things before creating more problems.

I’m just saying. The world is already fucked up and this is a problem we can actually avoid. Why make it worse?

As always, dear readers,

Stay Safe

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Book Release for Salt & Venom by Amy McNulty

I am so excited that SALT & VENOM by Amy McNulty is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Amy McNulty, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card, International, courtesy of Amy and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About the Book:
Title: SALT & VENOM (Blood, Bloom, & Water #2)
Author: Amy McNulty
Pub. Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing 
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 227
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

An emboldened merman. The daring girl who agreed to be his champion. The upcoming battle that threatens to change everything they believe in.
Ivy Sheppard never wanted the ability to turn into a mermaid—though her wicked ice powers are nothing to sneeze at. Now her step-sister is her enemy, the fairy she once trusted may not be the ally she hoped for, and her new boyfriend wants her to transfer schools to avoid the vampires taking over Union High. Between dodging parents’ concerns, pretending she can stand to even look at the step-sister who sided with the bloodsuckers, and still aiming to end it all without violence, Ivy is in over her head. Unfortunately, these ancient enemies are itching to get the conflict started and Ivy may have no choice but to become the warrior the merfolk need her to be.
The second book in the Blood, Bloom, & Water series starts the war between fangs and fins in earnest as the merfolk plan their assault to bring down the unnatural undead vampires once and for all.

About Book 1:

Title: FANGS & FINS A Paranormal Romance (Blood, Bloom, & Water Book 1)
Author: Amy McNulty
Pub. Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 330
Find it: AmazonGoodreads

A dapper vampire. A sullen merman. Two heirs to a great conflict—and each needs to claim a beloved to become his kindred’s champion.
 High school senior Ember Goodwin never had a sister, but after her mom’s remarriage, she now has two. The eldest is no stranger to her—Ivy is a witty girl in her grade who’s almost never spoken to the shy bookworm before—but she’s surprised to find the popular girl quite amiable. Their burgeoning friendship is tested, however, when Dean Horne, a pale, besuited charmer, shows interest in them both and plans to reveal his appetite for blood to the one who’ll stand by his side.
Seventeen-year-old Ivy Sheppard is tired of splitting her time between her dad’s and her mom’s, particularly when her dad uproots their lives to move them in with his new wife and step-daughter. Used to rolling with her parents’ whims, she tries to make the best of it and befriend her nerdy new step-sister. Her hectic life grows more unwieldy when she catches the eye of junior Calder Poole, whom she swears she sees swap well-toned legs for a pair of fins during a dip in a lake. Now she’s fending off suitors left and right, all while trying to get to the bottom of the strange happenings in her town. 
The first book in the Blood, Bloom, & Water series sets family against family and friend against friend as an epic, ancient war comes to a head in a supposedly sleepy suburb.

Blossom didn’t often have time for me when Autumn was around. Though the cat was no spring chicken, she still had a youthful spring in her step, and only an eight-year-old with mountains of extra energy was up to the task of satiating the calico’s thirst for prey. Usually in the form of a shoestring or curled-up ball of paper.

But Blossom poked her head up beside my bed and mewed, tapping her paw against my shoulder until I couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle. As I lifted the comforter higher, Blossom snuggled right in against my side.

“At least someone won’t ask what’s wrong with me,” I whispered. “She just knows something is.” My fingers traced circles around one of her soft ears.

Why couldn’t I just tell everyone the truth? Hashtag ImAMermaid. Jokes aside, I was seventeen—albeit almost eighteen—and I didn’t know how to handle this on my own.

I had three parents. Why couldn’t I kick and scream and have a tantrum and wind up coddled in my mom’s or dad’s arms?

My phone buzzed on the nightstand. Shifting so as not to bother Blossom, I grabbed it and saw the message from Calder:

Feeling better? I know last night was… A lot. I’ve got you, though. I promise. I need you more than I’ve ever needed anyone. I’ll try to be a worthy prince, my champion.

A tear slipped down one cheek as I felt my face warming. I put down the phone and wiped the moisture away. Why was I crying? It wasn’t like I was madly in love with the guy.

But apparently, the champion of water was kind of the prince’s fiancĂ©e. So I had a boyfriend now. I’d never had one who’d lasted more than a few dates.

Now I was tied to one—cute, kind of shy though he might be—possibly for the rest of my life. We could one day lay our merbaby eggs in the blood of my fallen step-sister.

No and no. I still wasn’t planning on either happening.

My phone buzzed again and I swiped away another notification from Paisley. The bits of messages I’d read from her and Lyric asked everything I expected them to, like what in the world had happened last night, was it true that Calder had lost his pants in the Homecoming fire, was I feeling all right and how was Ember, and also, back to the second point, was it true Calder had walked around brazenly with his elephant trunk swinging freely?

I tried not to think about that part. My face was flushing at the memory. I bet the vampires didn’t have cause to go pantsless around their champion. At least not a supernatural one. I wasn’t sure if that was a pro or a con, honestly. Dirty Ivy.

Blossom’s purrs grew louder and louder as she snuggled up beside my cheek, nudging the top of her head against my chin.

“I love you too, Furbaby,” I said, rubbing the back of her neck and being reminded how different the cat at my new place was—Ember’s cat was a scaredy-cat if ever there was one.

The thought of going back there now with how things stood between Ember and me… I couldn’t. But I couldn’t very well explain why I couldn’t to Mom and Dad.

Even if Mom apparently had been hypnotized into accepting Orin as a family friend.

That traitorous faery.

“There she is!” screeched a voice from my partially-open door. Autumn came trotting in—the girl had yet to learn boundaries. Thankfully for her, I was an amazing big sister. If I do say so myself.

“Leave us alone,” I said, just a touch of my grumpy side evident in my voice. Okay, not always an amazing sister.

Autumn flicked on the light switch and padded over to the side of my bed. “Are you cramping?” she asked, twirling a strand of her long, brown hair around her finger. She had on a tie-dyed T-shirt and bright purple zebra pants. The girl could clearly not dress herself, but she was too old for my parents to be picking out outfits for her regardless.

I pushed at her gently, my arm jostling and upsetting the cat. “I’m not on my period every time I’m feeling tired,” I said, grunting. “Geez, you’d have me bleeding twenty-nine days out of thirty.”

“Gross.” She scooped the cat out from beside me, carrying her in her arms like a big, fragile bag of groceries. My sister bounced her up and down and Blossom dug her claws into her human captor’s shoulders, her yellow irises like saucers, but Autumn didn’t even flinch. “Are you still sick from last night?”

“Yes,” I muttered, pulling the cover over my head entirely. “Now go away. And don’t forget to shut off the light.”

“How did you create steam?” she asked. “When you touched that warm blanket they gave you, your hand glowed blue and steam rose out—”

“You were seeing things,” I mumbled. “Now go away.”

“Fine,” she snapped. The pounding of her bare feet against the floor was loud even muffled by the threadbare carpet that ran most of the length of Mom’s townhouse. “Keep your secrets.”

“And stay away from Orin!” I snapped.


“Orin! My boss. My date to Homecoming.” I poked my head out from under the blanket. Mom was hovering behind Autumn in the doorway. Great.

Autumn grinned and Blossom saw her chance to jump down, scattering off into the hallway, my little sister hot on her literal tail.

“How are you feeling?” asked Mom, her fist hovering over the open bedroom door as if it weren’t too late to knock and not be invited in at this point.

“Fine,” I lied, burying my head underneath the blanket once more.

She took that as an invitation because I felt her sit down on the edge of the bed. Her hand touched my shoulder through my barrier of cotton and synthetic fibers keeping me from facing reality and the fact that said reality included faeries, vampires, and merpeople. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.

Yes. “No.”

She kept stroking my shoulder in silence.

“Don’t you have work today?” I asked. She always had work and it was supposed to be a Dad day anyway. She’d been a homemaker when she and Dad had been together and though she got some “maintenance,” as they called alimony for some reason, she’d had to take on a minimum-wage job at a superstore to make ends meet. Luckily, she and Dad got along well enough that he pretty much paid any and everything related to Autumn’s or my expenses.

I just didn’t get why they couldn’t have gotten along while they’d been married, then.
Sighing, I buried myself deeper in the blankets, barely hearing Mom’s response. Something about swapping shifts.

She tugged the blanket off my head and I groaned. “Hey, listen to me,” she said.

“I am.” Not true.

She stared hard at me until I was forced to look away.

“Did anyone hurt you last night?”

“No,” I lied again. Not like she was thinking. Not who she was thinking.

“Or Ember?”

“No,” I said again, my nails digging into my palm beneath the blanket. Well, I had hurt her.

“Things just got hectic in the chaos.”

“So hectic that boy lost his pants?” Her eyebrow arched.

“They were wet,” I said. “And on fire,” I added. I supposed the latter would excuse it where the former wouldn’t. Even if that was just a little white lie to add to the mountain of them.

“Wet… and on fire?” Mom asked, her neck bending forward even more.

Don’t test me, woman, I thought. You have no idea… “Wet after being on fire.”

Mom took in a deep, audible breath. “Who was that boy, Ivy?”

“Calder Poole,” I said, the name coming out like a petulant toddler forced to reveal the fact that she’d dug her hand into the cookie jar. “He’s on the swim team. Or he was… He just transferred.”

“Okay…” Mom said. “And is he… Do you know him well? I don’t remember you ever hanging out with him before.”

“That’s because I hang with the baseball team, owing to Paisley’s boyfriend being captain of it. Doesn’t mean I don’t know him.” An itch took over the tip of my nose and I rubbed it into my pillow.

Mom kept patting my shoulder. “He was there with someone else and he just happened to help you and Ember—after his pants caught on fire?”

“He was there with me,” I said, not wanting to get into the debate about why someone from a different school was there without a date from Union High. It wasn’t like he’d transferred that long ago anyway.

“But I thought you and Orin…?” Normally, Mom would be having a fit that I’d dated an “older” guy. Ha, try older than dirt, not a couple of years older. But Orin had made her think he was a dear friend of ours somehow. For some reason.

“He’s just a friend,” I said. “Was a friend. And I’m not working for him anymore.”

Not the right thing to say. “Ivy, I know you might need time off, but I told you it’s important to start working as soon as possible. Look at what happened to me. When your father left—” Her phone rang, playing the Jurassic Park theme song, which I knew meant Dad. They’d gone on their first date to see that movie as freshmen in high school. I didn’t know why Mom would want to be reminded of that.

“Take some time off,” she said, letting the phone continue to ring a moment. “Just keep… what happened to me… in mind. A part-time job would be good for you even throughout college.” Her lips pinched as she stared straight at me, and I flinched. She turned away and answered the call. “Yes?”

I ran a finger over the edge of my nightstand, ignoring the buzz that came from my own phone as I picked up half a conversation between my parents.

“That’s great!” said Mom, a smile on her face. She lowered the phone to whisper to me, “Ember got the all-clear. She’s home and feels fine.”

I flinched. Not that I wanted her to be ill, of course, but… But… She was the enemy now. She’d sealed the deal before I had.

I’d missed some of Mom’s side of the conversation. “He wants you and Autumn to still come over tonight,” she told me, Dad clearly on hold. “They’re going to order in.”

“No!” I shouted, sitting up and practically whapping my poor mother across the face with my blankets.

I could hear the muffled sound of Dad’s voice—he’d probably heard that.

Mom shrank back. “Sunday is usually spent with your dad—”

“Right. Oh, right.” Covering my face with my hands, I winced. My throat was dry. “It’s just… Mom, I barely feel like moving. Maybe Autumn can go and I…” I didn’t say anything more.
Mom turned back to her conversation and spoke in a hushed voice. Then she held the phone out to me. “Your father wants to speak to you.”

“Tell him I’m sick or something,” I said.

“I heard that, young lady,” came Dad’s voice from the speaker.

“Ugh,” I said, bringing my knees up and resting my forehead atop them.

Mom spoke to him again and then hung up a few moments later. “We agreed both you and Autumn can stay here an extra night,” she said. “Ember’s dad is in town anyway. I get the feeling things are… tense between him and Noelle. They thought maybe having a crowd would make things less awkward.”

“They’re inviting him to dinner with them?” I asked. All the more reason not to bother going. Like I needed another awkward thing happening inside my own home when all I wanted to do was sleep for the rest of my life.

“He’s staying at a motel, but yes, he’s coming over for dinner.” Mom sighed as a crash echoed from downstairs—the townhouse was cramped, but there was a kitchen, living room, and half-bath on the first floor. “Autumn?” she called out.

Autumn’s giggling rang out even from a floor and several rooms away.

“We’ll talk more later,” said Mom, patting my shoulder again. She stopped when she reached the hallway, looking back at me over her shoulder. “And you’re at least eating dinner with your sister and me,” she said sternly. “I’m not letting you sleep the whole day away.” She flicked the lights off.

Groaning, I rolled onto my side, nestling myself beneath the covers again. My phone buzzed on the stand beside my head and I reached over, holding the power button and confirming I wanted it turned off so the thing would finally go quiet.

About Amy:
Amy McNulty is an editor and author of books that run the gamut from YA speculative fiction to contemporary romance. A lifelong fiction fanatic, she fangirls over books, anime, manga, comics, movies, games, and TV shows from her home state of Wisconsin. When not reviewing anime professionally or editing her clients’ novels, she’s busy fulfilling her dream by crafting fantastical worlds of her own.

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