World peace came with rules. We’ve just broken them.
In the year 2055, millions of humans were wiped out by a deadly virus known as EMB-II, a bioweapon strain of Ebola that could not be stopped. The need to get off the planet and into space was never stronger. Before the ships could be launched, First Contact was made. A dozen spaceships arrived, carrying twelve Criterion Advocates – peacekeepers of the universe – and thousands of Criterion soldiers, aides, workers, and engineers. To stop the virus getting into space, Earth was placed under quarantine and work begun to save the planet and humanity. Through tough control measures, world peace was achieved.
The year is now 2355. The virus is gone. Humanity is eager to get into space. Yet the Earth is still under quarantine. The Criterion are lying to us. What they don’t know is that we’re lying to them.
Kethryn Miller is an award-winning actress, but nothing will prepare her for the role she’ll take on when a strange woman who shouldn’t be alive turns up in the city, threatening to expose the lies that have kept peace on Earth for 200 years.
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Damn world peace. It wasn’t worth her happiness.
Kethryn Miller drained the last of her wine before turning her scornful gaze to the shimmering lights below. City Prime was beautiful at night, yet the millions of lights, in every imaginable color, did little to stop the loneliness settling in.
Far below, lights blinked like neon lovers communicating in code. At least until midnight. After midnight, the power conserves came into effect, and buildings disappeared from the skyline as holo-advertisements and electricity mains shut down. Complete darkness lasted no more than the blink of a neon light; like children afraid of the dark, buildings flickered into life as insomniacs reclaimed the night.
As Kethryn watched over the world from the balcony of the forty-second floor, she wondered what kept her fellow insomniacs awake. She would swap her troubles for theirs any day.
A Criterion ship popped into view. Reflexively, Kethryn took a step back. The Divinity was gold and elliptical with sensor arrays that resembled incandescent roots reaching for the ground. One of a hundred border patrol ships, one for each Earth state, this alien hawk followed a pre-plotted course around the ten cities of State Seven. A citizen could tell time by the patrols. Each noon and midnight, the Divinity floated over City Prime. Each night when it hovered by, Kethryn sensed the co-operatives inside – humans who worked security detail for the Criterions – watching her watching them.
She reached for the bottle of wine on the table and the movement activated the Visual Imaging Device – VID – pulling her attention to the image projected onto the screen. It showed an invitation for the presidential inauguration in two weeks, one she couldn’t avoid since this was her inauguration. Spending her adult life dodging the inevitable now seemed like a waste.
She shifted her gaze from the lights to the full moon that sat to the right of the border ship. Long ago that moon had lured man to reach it. And they had. They lived in permanent habitats in self-imposed seclusion for three months at a time. It granted them little contact with family or friends, and when they returned to Earth they complained of the noise and begged to go back. Their bodies slowly decayed from constantly applying aluminum gel as protection against radiation. Their flesh festered from bedsores that never healed because of the implanted mood-gauging sensors that monitored their vital signs and mental stability. Mooners were a weird lot, and yet she envied them.
She took a sip of wine. Too sweet. It belied her current mood. The quarantine of Earth, placed by the Criterion three centuries ago, should have been lifted by now and the technology to launch a spaceship beyond the end of the Solar System granted. And yet it hadn’t. Why were humans still on Earth? Why had the Criterion not gone home after ridding the planet of the deadly virus? Why did nobody care that mankind’s peace and freedom came with chains?
These were questions to ask a Criterion advocate, and a wry smile tugged at her cheeks that she’d get her chance in two weeks.
Victorian London is a difficult place to be when you are gay, as Henry and Gabriel know all too well.
When they were young at Oxford University, Henry and Gabriel’s love burned hot and bright, and they thought to change the world together until a devastating tragedy ripped them apart.
Now, as youth fades away, Henry can no longer stand to see his own reflection in the mirror. All he sees is a sad, tired old man whose body has betrayed him. He craves the touch of another, to feel attractive and vital once more but his obsession with finding a cure for insanity has stolen his life away, and now his work has taken on a dark and sinister dimension. How far will he go to recapture the passion of his lost youth?
Gabriel fears that Henry is losing his mind, and when a brutal killer invades their lives, they are thrust into the dark depths of Victorian London in a fight for their very lives.
As their friendship is tested to its limits, Gabriel cannot help but wonder if there is still a chance for love. Can they move beyond the friendship that has spanned over thirty years and find the love that once made their hearts beat as one?
You may never be too old to find love, but will you be able to survive it?
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Mirror, mirror here I stand, who is the fairest in the land? In some other life, I would like to think the answer would be me.
In some other life.
Age is such a cruel creature. It saps one of all vitality and drains a beauty once perceived from the very nucleus of one’s skin.
The fire burns so hot and high in the hearth, and tonight it is the only light by which I may dare to look upon myself. As I gaze into the mirror, as I see the decrepit thing looking back at me, the other me, the man who is, not the man who wants to be, it is all that I may bear.
I am lost in the darkness of a life I once had, of a youth taken before its time.
Time. The destroyer of beauty. The destroyer of men.
Look at me, sitting here, staring inside of me.
Look at me, sitting here, hating the sight of me.
Once, some thirty odd years ago, I could look in the mirror and see the sun rising, a beautiful golden morning of a radiance revealed. Now there is but darkness and the endless night of wanting.
If I could reach into the mirror, to the time-scarred man within and pull out that which I see...that which I imagine seeing...then I could guide him back into the light of this world. My youth recaptured in the glory of its moment, my life again with all the knowledge I now possess. For I am a man much wiser than the innocent youth now lost, and I am all the better for it. Could I not make that younger me such a man?
How I loathe the shape of my body, the roundness that now characterises my frame. It is a far cry from the musculature of my adolescent years. My sedentary life has put paid to the curvature and tightness of my once boyish physique, as our working lives so often dictate in this most modern of worlds. The demands of my professional life leave little space for adequate exercise, though try as I might, my midlife condition renders my waistline a lost cause. No matter how I may try to modify my intake of food or rationalise the consumption of such pleasures as a carafe of wine during the evening, still my shape bloats out of all recognition.
Even the golden locks of hair that once adorned my proud head, now lay limp and thin, its lust for life dulled by the reduction of its numbers. How I loathe the sight of my own shiny scalp grinning through those unsatisfying golden strands, their lustre dulled with time and the ravages of an industrialised London atmosphere. No matter how I may position said strands across my head, and no matter the expense of the various concoctions I have used to thicken them and restore their vitality, it remains a shameful reminder of my deepening middle age. It is a failure in the design of the male species that the age of a man may be determined so easily by the quantity of hair on his head.
I should wish to do something about that.
I was once told, in the burgeoning blossom of my youth, that my eyes were the most beautiful things to behold, that they spoke of desire and passion, of happiness and abandonment. It was the most perfect complement, and I can remember it as though the words were spoken only yesterday, as such kind words are wanting to stay in the mind’s eye. Yet, the mirror does not lie. I see but the faded pools of a misspent youth gazing back at me from the silver coated glass, their blue the colour of faded winter skies rather than the fierce sapphire of desire. Yes, they speak of my intelligence, oh yes, for that, at least, is something that cannot fade, but only grow stronger with the passing of each year. They speak of my passions for learning, for the chemistry that gives us purpose and life, and yet they lack the glint of mischievousness they once possessed, that singular spark of life which made them so alive. They are as pale and insipid as the rest of me.
I am perhaps not the most attractive of men, though there have been those who have kindly said otherwise. Maybe once, when my figure bore the sculptural quality of those barely born, a momentary flicker of magnificence in a life destined for old age. Is that not the human condition? We are born, we burn bright for but a small portion of our lives before falling headlong into middle age which is in itself nothing more than a rehearsal for the old age beckoning at the door to claim your bones. Maybe twenty years of youth, thirty if one is fortunate before we plummet into the later part of our lives.
Too short. Our lives are but fleeting moments, stolen from time, merely glimpsed in an all too brief flash of youth.
What would we give to be able to hold onto that youth? Would I be a different man if I was more attractive? Happier, maybe, contented? Not so alone? As the years pile upon my carcase, I find the need for companionship all the more pressing, and yet, the mirror tells me that such a thing may never now be possible, as does the society in which I exist.
It is my own fault. For too long, I have consumed my life with those chemistries that bind this world together, rather than the chemistry that binds two men, and while I hide my desires from an unsuspecting world, I see it staring back at me with ever increasing force. While life and vivacity drain with the passing of each year, I find that my need for companionship increases, both in the beating of my heart and the stirring of my manhood. How many nights have I sat before this mirror self-flagellating? My hand is the only lover that I know, and while the release may be welcome and explosive, it is but a fleeting, transient proclamation of my miserable failure.
I crave more than the comfort of my palm against my raging sexuality. To feel the warmth of a man in my arms, to see his eyes open next to me in the waking hours is almost too much for me to hope. Have I left it too late to find such companionship? Have I put purpose before personal gain, and thus lost the opportunity for love? I have hidden the shame of myself from the world for so long that I have inadvertently hidden it from myself so that I no longer know my own feelings. I am as indifferent to the world as the world is to me, and my outward facade is all the plainer for it.
The need within me is so cautious, and now I find that I must listen all the more intently in order to hear it. I try to hold it close to me, to nurture that spark which has seen fit to visit me so late in life before life itself decides to pass me by. I see the man inside me, the other man, the better man. The more attractive man. He is so full of confidence, so full of life, so full of all the qualities that prevent me from finding such companionship, and I find more and more that I wish to be that man, the man inside me.
I will find the answer. Now that I see him, now that his smile creases the corners of my thin insipid lips, I will never lose him, of this, he has my word. For the man inside is me, and I will find some way to set him free. This much I promise, and I will hold him dear to me until the day that I die.
Mirror, mirror don’t you see? What you show is ruining me.
Once upon a time in Brooklyn, there was a man you could go to if you were in trouble and needed help. He’d listen to your story and make a judgment. If he thought you were wrong, you were out on your ass. But, if he thought you were wronged then you never had a better friend.
The year is 1988. Ronald Reagan is president. The music of the urban streets known as Rap has proven to be more than just the passing fad it was brushed off as. Everyone dressed fresh, is sick with Pac Man fever and Brooklyn is in a state of emergency due to a new wave drug called ‘crack’, which is turning people into addicts at an alarming rate.
Enter Tommy Strong a smooth-talking, rough-riding, flyy-guy who reaffirms action in and out of any woman’s bed or against any dude’s head. Known as Havoc on the mean streets of the borough that’s thorough, Brooklyn he leases himself out as a Trouble Consultant, ridding neighborhoods of punks, pimps and pushers for a profit.
Tommy loved the highly profitable, adrenaline rush, lavish and sublime lifestyle. Arrogantly causing him to believe he was untouchable. That is until the predator became the prey when under the leadership of a mysterious criminal mastermind his deadliest enemies called a truce and joined forces to hunt and eliminate their common foe. And if things couldn’t get any worse, it all goes down while he’s been left in charge of watching his adorable younger sister Tatiana nicknamed, Tee-Tee who happens to have special needs.
Armed with brute strength and his loyal to the end partner Mayhem, Havoc strikes back in a series of wild car chases, shootouts and bone-crunching fistfights as he uncovers the horrific truth behind who and why he’s been marked for death!
Havoc and Mayhem is a Double-Dutch busload of Good Times that rocks the house and guarantees to give you a nostalgia attack from all the old school flashbacks. Violent, cool and street-smart it has all the right ingredients for a delicious story; visual action, cold hard reality, thought provoking subject matter, family matters, humor, fantasy, sizzling-passion, endless pop- culture references, a verbal soundtrack and vivid sexuality.
Unlike anything currently on today’s book shelves. Urban movie style chaos on the written page is the best way to sum up this exciting tale, because it reads like a movie, opening with a bang and doesn’t let go until you close it.
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Angelica Pearson is taking a serious break from dating.
At least, she thought she was taking a serious break from dating until she comes face-to-face with the finest man she’s ever seen who also happens to be the new maintenance man in her building.
Angie knows what she wants in a man. And outside of his good looks, his natural charm, and his ability to make all of her apartment woes go away, Lawson isn’t that. But that doesn’t mean she can’t get to know him, right?
Lawson Hill is completely focused on rebuilding his life now that he’s a free man.
That rebuild doesn’t include getting involved with anyone, especially not the bougie girl at his job who always needs something in her apartment fixed.
From her high-maintenance appeal alone, he can already tell she’d be nothing but a headache to deal with. But when Angie proves there’s a lot more to her than what meets the eye, Law quickly learns he’ll be doing a lot more than just replacing air filters and light bulbs in Building 402…
Note: While this book tells a complete story, it is a novella meaning it is shorter in length by design. If you prefer your stories longer, I’d highly recommend checking out another Alexandra Warren project.
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He’s the last guy she should be checking for.
A Certified F*ckboy.
She’s the only girl he can’t seem to get off of his mind.
The proximity of them being neighbors certainly doesn’t help either of their causes. And when one side is ready to pursue their curiosity about the person next door, it quickly becomes clear that anything goes in Building 402…
Note: While this book tells a complete story, it is a novella meaning it is shorter in length by design. If you prefer your stories longer, I’d recommend checking out another Alexandra Warren project. :)
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From the moment Dean laid eyes on Autumn he knew she was his soulmate. But after finding out he was going to be a father, Autumn pulled the plug on their relationship and cut him off. A year later, Dean is still coming to grips with the fact that Autumn no longer being a part of his life. He now focuses on being the best father he can to his baby girl, Yara, and a successful business owner. Memories of him and Autumn’s brief love affair frequently invade his thoughts throughout the day. He said he would respect her wishes and stop pursuing her, but seeing her at a birthday dinner has him re-considering everything.
Is it true that if you love something let it go and if it comes back it's meant to be?
**note: While this can be read as a standalone, it is highly recommended that you read, Another Chance to love first!**
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We walked into the private room Ivy booked at Grant’s favorite restaurant. It looks like we are early, I didn’t see any familiar faces as I looked around the room. The dimly lit room had a single long rectangular table directly in the center, covered by a white tablecloth. The centerpiece was a crystal vase with two dozen long stem red roses. Every place setting consisted of a clear glass plate with the menu on the center. I sat Bre down at the table before walking over to Ivy who was speaking with a waiter about the menu.
“Dean! It’s so good to see you.” Ivy gave me a tight hug. It has been a few weeks since I last saw them. They just welcomed baby Gabby who was born last month. Labor Day just passed, G and I usually have a big cookout, but I have been giving them space to be parents. The new addition to their family will take a lot of adjusting.
“It’s good to see you too. You sure you just had a baby?” I spun her around as she laughed at me. Ivy still looked the same except she filled out some from her pregnancy. “Where is G?” I asked looking around the room, but everything went silent when Autumn walked in. Autumn. Damn. I had been trying my best not to think about that woman. Last year when she told me we could only be friends, she did everything to avoid me. Tonight is the first time I’d seen her in months. I accepted that this is how it would be. A man grabbing her waist from behind stopped my train of thought. Did she bring a date too? My brows wrinkled at the thought of her being with someone else. Her date looked like he was artsy. He had locs that were in a bun. He isn’t her type.
“Dean,” Ivy called my name.
“Yeah?” I cleared my throat and adjusted my tie.
“Grant is over there.” She smiled while pointing in the opposite direction of where I was staring. She cocked her head to the side and smiled.
“Chill,” was all I said as I walked towards G.
I walked over to Grant, but my eyes remained on Autumn. Everything about her is breathtaking. She had a natural glow about her. Her hair was in its naturally curly state down her back. She had on a black knee length dress that was off her shoulders. Her, buttery smooth skin glistened under the light, and her face is virtually make-up free. I knew because you could see the small moles on her face, they were so little they were often mistaken for freckles. Whatever her date was saying in her ear made her smile. Her cheeks rose as her teeth showed.
Damn, I missed her. She must’ve felt me staring because she looked my way. The moment we made eye contact I watched her take in a deep breath. She instantly looked away and walked out of the room. I wanted to chase behind her and apologize again for hurting her.
“Happy birthday, G!” I dapped Grant into a hug.
“Thanks, bro. I’m getting old huh?”
“No doubt.” We both laughed.
It was true we were getting old, but G is definitely in a great place in his life. He had a successful career, a supportive wife, and a beautiful babygirl. It was incredible to witness and seeing how great he is doing is indeed a motivation to let go of this player life.
After we caught up on his life as a new father, we all sat down and prepared for the five-star meal Ivy curated for us. She had all of Grant’s favorite foods from appetizers to dessert. Ivy even created a menu of drinks named after him. I couldn't help but smile as I watched Ivy and G interact with one another. The love they had was evident in everything they did together. Beside Ivy, Autumn is engaging in a conversation with her date. I stood to walk over to her, but Ivy thought I was about to make a toast, so she told everyone to quiet down. I picked up my almost empty glass of Henny and made up a speech on a whim.
“First, I want to say Ivy did the damn thing with this five-course meal. I am stuffed.” I patted my stomach causing everyone to erupt in laughter. “Secondly, I want to wish my bro G a happy birthday. He is one of the most giving and hard working men I know. You deserve every good thing that comes your way. Especially that wife of yours.” I winked at Ives, and she started clapping making everyone laugh again. “No, but seriously, let this be a lesson for all of us when you find the one do all you can to keep them.” I looked at Autumn, and she looked away when we made eye contact. “To love and more life.”
Everyone stood and repeated “love and more life,” and toasted. After dinner, everyone mingled on the balcony of the restaurant. I had a few glasses of Henny and feeling myself is an understatement. All night I had my eye on Autumn, and when her date stepped away, I took that as my chance to speak to her. She didn't know I was coming because her back was facing me. She was leaning on the rail staring at the view. I crept up behind her and whispered in her ear.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” While being this close to her, the scent of brown sugar overwhelmed my nostrils as I licked my lips. She tensed up before stepping to the side and turning to face me. She looked me in my eyes with a blank face. I don’t know whether she is surprised or pissed by me speaking to her. Either way, I decided I would continue the conversation.
“How have you been? It’s been a while.” I leaned on the railing waiting for her to respond. While I waited for her to respond, I took this time to get a good look at her. The form-fitting dress she wore accentuated her pear shape. I instinctively licked my lips while my eyes roamed her body freely. I ran the back of my hands down her arms, and I felt the chills that appeared on her skin. “Damn,” I thought to myself as I took a step closer to her, and she stepped back. She shook her head before replying,
“I’ve been good, Dean.” She folded her arms over her chest making me laugh while finishing the last of my drink.
“Why are you so cold towards me now?” Autumn is one of the sweetest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. So it confuses me how she can be so cold and distant towards me. She doesn’t have a bad bone in her body. I wanted to ask her why she stopped answering my calls and texts. Ask her how could I fix this, fix us. Before she could answer my question, her date came back. Dude put his arm around her waist trying to mark his territory. What he didn’t know was Autumn is, and always will be, mine. I chuckled at him thinking he was intimidating me.
“I’m Dean, an old friend of Autumn’s.” She rolled her eyes at my sarcasm.
“I’m Rim, a current friend of hers.” He extended his hand, and I shook it.
“Come on Rim. I am ready to go.” Autumn grabbed his hand and practically dragged him out the door.
*New and Lengthened 2018 Edition*
How well do you know yourself?
Sixteen-year-old Elle thinks she's got life in Shady Oaks all under control until new boy Asher comes to town. Elle can't explain it, but she can't deny the connection she feels to him. Things with Asher are going great until they're out one night and nearly attacked by a large wolf. Before she knows it, Elle's life is spiraling out of control: Maddox is in love with her, she and Asher are in danger…
and she learns she's a shifter!
If that wasn't bad enough, she finds herself in the middle of an ages-old war between shifters and hunters.
What else can she do but join the cause?
Will Elle stay with Asher or break-up with him to be with Maddox? What does it mean to be a shifter? Who will emerge victorious in the battle?
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As if on cue, a wild and ferocious animal broke through the brush and leaped through the air, landing only inches from where Asher and I were standing. It was a wolf, gray and brown with golden yellow eyes and a muscular frame.
Blood dripped from the predator's sharp fangs. I couldn't help but stare in wild fascination as the animal sauntered toward us. Its grin seemed to grow with each deliberate step, as though the beast was mocking us. My heart began to race, and my breath faltered as I took in the beast gnashing its teeth in front of us. I could see its wild hairs as they moved in the wind as it stared at us, standing there, frozen with fear.
I slowly turned my head to look at Asher, hoping he'd be able to offer me something to help calm my growing fear. Instead of seeing nervousness like I'd expected, I saw a fuming mad Asher staring daggers into the eyes of the wild animal across from us. I moved toward the animal and saw a similar heated and irritated glare staring back at Asher. It was as though the two were in a standoff, both equally livid and irritated by the presence of the other.
My eyes found their way to the beast, and I couldn't help but linger on its shape, size, and color. One small glimpse into its golden eyes and I had no choice but to observe its every move. I watched its massive and muscular chest rise with rough breaths. I should have been stricken with fear. I should have been crying and begging the animal not to tear open my throat and eat me for a snack, but I wasn't. Instead, I regarded the animal with fascination. There was something about the creature that had lured me into its presence.
Without thinking, I took a step forward, gaining the creature's interest. It tore its snarling gaze from Asher and seemed to calm as the golden eyes drank me in.
"Elle, stop," Asher whispered. He reached out and grabbed my arm.
With his movement, the creature growled and let out an ear-piercing and heart-stopping howl. I swear, it was as though Asher's grabbing me had enraged the animal. I knew that sounded wildly insane, but something was off about our encounter, and I couldn't stop myself from being drawn to its existence.
"Watch out," Asher yelled again, pulling me protectively behind him.
He stood tall in front of me, using his body as a shield, trying to form a wall between the beast and myself.
BOOK 3 OF THE SERIES COMING SEPTEMBER 13TH
Synopsis: For Elle, she thought the day she learned she was a Shifter was the most frustrating day of her life. Well, that was until she found herself in the middle of a war between her best friend and boyfriend. Now, everything is about to change for this trio as a known Witch in Shady Oaks has decided to wage a war against the Shifters and Otherworldly Creatures. This time, Elle may find herself battling with new powers and without her trusted best friend, Maddox. Discover how hearts are broken and mended in this exciting third installment of the Shifter Chronicles, Everlight
Book Title: Evernight
Release Date: September 13th, 2018
Publisher: Kingston Publishing
About the Author: Michelle Areaux is a wife, mother, educator, and young adult author. Her love for coffee helps drive her to create magical, fantasy stories.
Purchase Links: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DYJKBRZ?pf_rd_p=d1f45e03-8b73-4c9a-9beb-4819111bef9a&pf_rd_r=KEC0BPYKMT52XYRPD0HQ
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It all started with a haunted Ouija board in Nashville and the cold case murder of Sophie Mathews. Then, Henry Meyer did not commit suicide in his tobacco barn in Columbia and the case went cold. When Olivia Honeycutt takes on the case of Eloise Venable Freeman, she must accept her paranormal proclivities. Eloise and her infant daughter, Andrea, allegedly died in a horrific fire thirty years ago. Her husband, David, is not satisfied with ashes. David wants answers. Olivia travels to Shelbyville, Tennessee, and the world of the Walking Horses to solve her most challenging mystery to date.
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Sixteen-year-old Brieze is the apprentice and adopted daughter of a powerful wizard. She never met her biological father, a merchantman from the faraway Eastern Kingdoms who had a brief romance with her mother, then disappeared. When Brieze discovers her mother is still secretly, crazily in love with this man, even after seventeen years, she decides to find him, confront him, and get some answers from him for her mother's sake.
In her small airship the Devious, she makes the long and dangerous journey to the Eastern Kingdoms. Along the way, she confronts pirates and the nocturnal ship-crushing beast known as the Nagmor. She survives a harrowing trip through the legendary Wind's Teeth. She discovers why her father disappeared, and in the process she learns the true version of her own story.
When Brieze's boyfriend, Tak, receives word she's in danger, he sets out on his own journey east to help her. Will he be able to rescue her, or will she end up having to rescue him?
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Brieze’s mother was acting strange. She’d been moping and sighing around the wizard’s house all day, doing dumb things. She’d left her hairbrush on the stairs of all places, where Brieze had nearly tripped over it and broken her neck, and she’d forgotten to feed the wizard’s exotic birds, which squawked hungrily from their cages in the parlor. Brieze was pretty sure her mother’s state of mind had something to do with Tobias the handyman. The two had stopped talking to each other, and Tobias was moping around the house too.
Her mother had wandered outside to the wide front lawn that stretched to the edge of the wizard’s floating island. Brieze kept an eye on her from an upstairs window as she played chess with the wizard. The wizard took a long time making his moves, and she went to the window and watched while she waited.
Now her mother was doing more dumb things. She wasn’t wearing a cloak, even though the fall chill outside hinted strongly of the winter to come, and she was standing much too close to the island’s edge, especially for such a windy day. And it was hard for Brieze to tell at this distance, but she didn’t seem to be wearing a parachute pack, which was not just dumb but dangerous.
With the late afternoon sun low in the sky and the island positioned near the Highspire Mountains, the view was spectacular. From horizon to horizon, silvery gray clouds blanketed the surface of Etherium, as they always did. To the east, the mountains rose tall and craggy and green out these clouds, reaching for the sky. The mountain range stretched northward and southward in lazy zigs and zags, the farthest mountains fading off into the distance. The sky was a pretty shade of pinkish-purple. Banks of cumulus clouds piled high on the horizon like echoes of the mountains.
The nearest mountain was so close that, if her mother were looking at the view, she could have made out the terraced fields and orchards on its lower flanks. She could have glimpsed the tiny specks of ox- and donkey-drawn carts making their way along the roads that spiraled or switchbacked up the mountainside. Further up the mountain, she could have seen the city of Selestria in all its sunlit splendor, the brightly-colored pennants flying from the roofs of the stone houses, the airships swarming about the city like busy bees—constantly touching down and taking off—their silvery sails glinting when they caught the sun. At the mountain’s crown, she could have admired Castle Selestria, which seemed as much a part of the sky as part of the earth, its tallest towers and turrets lost in the clouds.
But Brieze’s mother wasn’t looking at any of this. She hadn’t gone outside for the view. She stood with her head down, shoulders hunched, and her hands thrust deep into her pockets, muttering to herself. She didn’t notice the gusts of wind tugging at her skirt. The knotted bun of her hair had come undone—it whipped around her face in a frenzy.
Brieze unclipped a brand-new spyglass from the belt of her black flightsuit. It had been a gift from the wizard for her sixteenth birthday. She studied her mother through it. The house’s rafters groaned in the wind.
“Ah ha!” the wizard said, and advanced one of his pawns with a satisfied little clink. “Your move.”
“She’s not wearing a parachute,” Brieze said, peering through the spyglass.
“Hmmmm…?” the wizard looked up from the chessboard, his blue eyes blinking beneath bushy white brows.
“It’s windy out there and she forgot to grab a chute from the porch.”
The wizard came to the window. He frowned at the distant figure of Patentia Crofter standing near the island’s edge with her shoulders hunched against the wind, her hands in her pockets, her hair flying. “That is exceedingly dangerous,” he said, his brow furrowing and his eyebrows squinching closer together.
And, as if to prove him right, a huge gust of wind ballooned Patentia’s skirt, lifted her off her feet, and carried her tumbling end-over-end off the island’s edge.
He was forsaken but not forgotten.
Nine months have passed since Grace Fortune saw the boy she loves, Jared Lorn, die before her eyes. But Grace’s suspicions have her wondering if Jared really dead. Along with her friends, she sets out to find answers, and the investigation leads to an unexpected place: Silo City, an abandoned silo complex that houses as many dark secrets as it does forsaken people.
Very much alive, Jared’s on a mission to save the girl he loves by collaborating with the enemy—a young, brash rock star named Lester Crow who fronts the punk metal band Blood Moon. Jared’s “deal with the devil” will take him on a cross-country journey into the heartland of darkness. The music of Blood Moon is a weapon against God, and Jared must wield this weapon while trying desperately to preserve his mind and soul from its power.
Jared and Grace are desperate to be reunited, but first, they must defeat the demonic forces arrayed against them. And pray that Jared, a Nephilim forsaken in God’s eyes, has a chance at a future.
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