Fang And Claw
I finished my test and brought it up to the teacher’s desk to place face-down on the slowly accumulating pile. Ms. Eventide was a Nocturne with sharp green eyes and a pale face. She nodded as I put down my paper and turned to go back to my seat.
“Very good, Mr. Reyes, you may read quietly at your desk,” she murmured.
I nodded, even though I knew that I wouldn’t be reading a thing. I would get out a book and pretend to read, of course, but mostly I would be watching Kaitlyn, who was even now getting up to place her own test on the teacher’s desk.
But as she moved past me, the little human seemed to trip on something on the floor. She gasped and windmilled her arms, her test papers flying in all directions as she started to fall.
I didn’t think—I just acted. Reaching down, I scooped her up before she could hit the floor and gathered her close to my chest.
“Oh!” Kaitlyn gasped and for a moment I saw her full face, as I had that day in PE—both the lovely right side and the scarred left side. Then she turned away quickly, using her long hair to hide herself, as she always did.
“Are you all right?” I asked, worried about her.
“I’m fine. Please put me down.”
She was trembling in my arms—shaking as though she feared me. I could smell the scent of her terror too—the sharp smell of adrenalin rose around me.
But there was something else too—an added component to her usually sweet scent which I was, by now, completely addicted to. It was strangely metallic and…I don’t know how else to put this…cold. A scent like winter coming on.
What was wrong with her?
“Mr. Reyes, I believe you can put Miss Fellows down now.” The sharp voice of our teacher cut through me like a knife and I realized I had been cradling the little human to my chest and inhaling her scent, trying to work out what was different about her, while ignoring her request to be put back on her feet.
“Forgive me,” I said quickly, setting her down gently. “I just…didn’t want you to fall.”
Kaitlyn’s only answer was a frightened glance before she rushed back to her seat. But then she appeared to realize that her test papers were still all over the floor. She started to get up again, though by now, everyone in the class was staring at her—which I knew was agony for the little human. In all that she did, what she strove for most was simply not to be noticed—not to be seen.
“Let me,” I told her and bent to pick up the scattered papers. Stacking them neatly, I placed them face-down on the teacher’s desk and resumed my own seat.
Kaitlyn’s one visible eye—a lovely pale aquamarine that was striking in the pale, creamy brown of her face—followed me uncertainly. As I passed her on the way back to my desk she murmured, “Thank you,” in a voice so low I was certain no one heard but me.
I nodded and murmured, “Welcome.”
She stared at me for a moment more, then looked quickly away, her curtain of hair swinging down to hide her face.
I wished she could have met my eyes just a moment more—I hated the fact that she was clearly afraid of me. I probably shouldn’t have swooped her up like that but what else could I do—just let her fall?
Inside me, my Drake roared in negation. Kaitlyn was ours, he asserted passionately—ours to watch over, ours to protect. I could no more stand by and watch her fall and hurt herself than I had been able to let Sanchez get away with bullying her.
But as I sat back down in my own seat, I couldn’t help lifting my nose to catch a bit of her scent once more. Her fear had faded but the new, cold note hit my nose, making it tingle. I frowned—why did she smell so strange? So unlike herself?
I frowned as I wondered once again, what was happening to my little human?
The door swung open with a crash. “Sorry I’m late.” A slender Black woman swept in like a tropical storm.
His first impression was color.
Bright, vibrant movement. Whirling dervish. And color.
He started at the bottom and surveyed his way up.
Worn, pale blue Converse high-tops splattered with paint. Ripped skinny jeans with splotches of paint in bold red, yellow, bright blue, even some neon green and orange. A white tunic sweater slipped off one shoulder revealing bare skin and collarbones. The nipples of her small breasts pushed against the top, boldly proclaiming her braless.
Her face was stunning: high cheekbones, regal nose, black arched brows. Striking hazel eyes shimmered with secrets and mirth, as if she had a private joke just for them.
Except everyone probably felt like that around her.
She was one of those people who oozed magnetism and sex appeal.
Just like his father, if he were honest. And that thought made him want to gag and then spew all over the old man’s office.
She had skin the color of rich Brazilian hardwood and hair a natural halo around her face. She had another splotch of paint on her bare neck, and her fingers were long and elegant and adorned with paint, as she gestured at the old men. “Problem on the metro. Was stuck on the train.”
Everything about her screamed free spirit and unrestrained joy.
“Ayesha, darling.” The judge walked toward her with open arms and embraced her. He squeezed her tightly, just a little too long. But in an odd turn of events, Marsh didn’t think his father’s touch was sexual. He seemed almost paternal.
That was weird.
“Good to see you again as well, Uncle Bobby.”
“Lovely to see you again, my dear.” His father slung his arm over the woman’s shoulder and turned her to face Marsh. “This is my son, Marsh.”
Uncle Bobby? Now Marsh was really confused.
“Marsh, I want you to help Ayesha.”
What the hell?
Ayesha Brown stopped in her tracks. Raised one eyebrow and scanned her gaze over Marsh Adams.
So this was Marsh Adams.
She’d been hearing about the prodigal son for years, but she’d never met him.
He was…not what she expected. Oh, he looked a little bit like his father, taller, thinner, with his paternity written in the austere lines of his pale white face. She tilted her head and studied the angles of his face—he had the square jaw and high forehead that emphasized his eyes, but his nose was crooked, adding interest to the otherwise perfect lines. Peripherally she noted his clothes, appreciating the suit porn.
Pinstripes. Tie. Shiny shoes. Stuffy. Tightly wound. Buttoned up. But that nose didn’t fit with the rest of his appearance.
Since she knew how much heartache he had caused his father, she nodded once at him and stuffed her hands in her pockets. A clear rejection of cultural normative standards. She wasn’t about to shake his hand.
“We could have texted if you wanted to talk,” I remind him, patting the spot on the bed where my phone has slipped down to.
He pulls an elastic band from his wrist and snaps it into place around his hair, making a perfectly small bun before taking the towel, squeezing the excess water from the style, and taking a seat at the edge of my bed.
“You’re trying to make it sound like you don’t want me here, but I know you do. You wouldn’t have let me in otherwise, and you wouldn’t have kissed me this afternoon.” There’s a pause, the night dripping in and our faces drawing closer. “Do you believe in love at first sight, Morrigan?” His voice hangs heavy and warm in the bedroom air.
The question might be a rhetorical one, but I feel compelled to answer because I think I gave a shit answer the first time he asked me the question.
“I used to,” I reply softly, a whispered lilt to my voice that matches his own. “You know, before.” I tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
“That’s interesting.” He clasps his hands together and rests them between his thighs. His eyes tell me that isn’t the answer he wanted. “You stopped believing in love at first sight when I finally started.”
Title: Pushing Up Posies
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Women Sleuth
Editor: Tia Silverthorne Bach with INDIE Books Gone Wild
Publication Date: February 20th, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Grey is the New Black: https://amzn.to/356GNTG
Pushing Up Posies: https://amzn.to/39Q5SEa
Jo Michaels loves writing novels that make readers gasp in horror, surprise, and disbelief. While her browser search history has probably landed her on a list somewhere, she still dives into every plot with gusto, hoping "the man" will realize she's a writer and not a psychopath about to go on a rampage. Her favorite pastimes are reading, watching Investigation Discovery, and helping other authors realize their true potential through mentoring. She's penned the award-winning Pen Pals and Serial Killers series and the best-selling educational book for children, Writing Prompts for Kids, which has rocketed the kids that use it into several awards of their own.
Most of Jo's books feature the places she's lived: Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia. That's given her a special amount of insight to what makes those locations tick. Her works are immersive and twisty, and she wouldn't want it any other way.
Grey is the New Black: https://amzn.to/356GNTG
Pushing Up Posies: https://amzn.to/39Q5SEa
A Women in Horror Anthology
with stories selected by Azurra Nox
Genre: YA Horror
For fans of American Horror Story, Shirley Jackson, and Creepshow.
You know them. Those girls that aren't quite like everyone else. Those girls who stand out in the crowd. Those girls that dare to be different. Those girls are dangerous.
In Strange Girls, twenty-one authors dare to tackle what makes the girls in this collection different. Vampires, selkies, murderous mermaids, succubus, and possessed dolls take center stage in these short stories that are sure to invoke feelings of quiet terror and uneasiness in the reader. Following the successful debut of Women in Horror anthology with My American Nightmare, Strange Girls is the sophomore effort to showcase these talented women in a genre that is often dominated by the male gaze.
Dare to take a walk on the dark side.
Stories in the Anthology:
24 Hour Diner by Charlotte Platt
Sideshow by Jude Reid
The Doll's House by Alyson Faye
Blood by Red Claire
Self-Portrait with Pears by Rachel Bolton
Personal Demons by Angelique Fawns
Friends with Benefits by E.F. Schraeder
Night Terrors by Angela Sylvaine
The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding by Sam Lauren
Leda and the Fly by Marnie Azzarelli
Jenny's Bobo by Hillary Lyon
Extinguishing Fireflies by Rebecca Rowland
The Eyes of the Dead by Danielle R. Bailey
My Mirror Wife by Ash Tudor
Pattern of Faerytales by Azzurra Nox
Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings by Emma Johnson-Rivard
Cracked by Regan Moore
Angel of Death by Phoebe Jane Johnson
Her Garden Grows by Maxine Kollar
Revival by Madison Estes
A Song Only She Can Hear by Wondra Vanian
Tribal Influence by Erica Ruhe
Born in Catania, Sicily, Azzurra Nox has led a nomadic life since birth. She has lived in various European cities and Cuba, and currently resides in the Los Angeles area. Always an avid reader and writer from a young age, she loved entertaining her friends with ghost stories. She loves horror movies, cats, and a good rock show. She dislikes Mondays and chick-flicks. CUT HERE, her debut paranormal urban fantasy was inspired by a nightmare the writer had a few years ago. Some of her favourite authors include Anne Rice, Oscar Wilde, Chuck Palahniuk, and Isabella Santacroce.
$10 Amazon Giftcard
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
By the time that job was over I realized something.
I loved her.
I guess that’s what happens when you get used to something and then someone tries to take it away from you.
Because our trip home from Pensacola was two days later than planned and Indie Anna didn’t smile a single second of that ride.
She didn’t cry, either. But I could tell she wanted to.
And I did exactly what McKay told me to do if things went sideways. I did not yell. Not once. I just said, “It’s fine, Indie. It’s gonna be fine,” in the most soothing voice I could manage as I watched the Company doctor restrain her to the bed and fix her up.
And the game we played on the drive home was a new one called Let’s Pretend That Didn’t Happen.
Knowing what I do now, I probably wouldn’t have played that game with her.
I probably would’ve done a lot of things differently if I had known how good she’d get at pretending shit didn’t happen.
But hindsight can kiss my ass. You can’t change the past.
Indie Anna Accorsi is a beautiful little mess. She is a lovely little bundle of blonde hair and blue-eyed darkness. And even though I should have all kinds of regrets about how she came to be mine and how we came to be hers, I would absolutely do it all again.
Knowing her now, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Because if all those terrible things hadn’t happened, she would belong to him right now. She would be living in that little brick house with Nathan St. James.
She would be whole, and normal, and maybe even happier.
And my heart would be shattered into tiny shards. Millions of bitty pieces.
I’m a selfish piece of shit.
But I want what I want.
That’s the only way I can explain it.
Maybe she didn’t become mine the day of the auction, but the day that asshole triggered her without my permission, she did.
A Murder Among Friends …
Everyone is anxious to connect with actor Ryan Malloy when he returns to town for his 15-year high school reunion. Everyone except crime writer Leah Nash. She doesn’t have many fond memories of Himmel High’s golden boy. But it turns out she’s not the only one who isn’t a fan. Before the weekend is over, Ryan Malloy is murdered.
The hard-headed but soft-hearted Leah is unwillingly drawn into investigating his death by the pleading of Ryan’s terminally ill mother. She soon discovers that Ryan’s self-absorbed journey through life trampled on the dreams of a number of people. His old girlfriend, his best friend, his own brother, a local businessman—there’s no shortage of suspects—or secrets. But the solution eludes Leah, until the past and the present collide in a dangerous confrontation that threatens one life and ends another.
Read an excerpt:
Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.
Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.
During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, looking for clues, stopping for a meal at the Elite Cafe, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain's Bar and Grill.
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