Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#BlogTour - Finding Marcus Anderson by @CLMcGrath_209


Title: Finding Marcus Anderson
Author: C.L. McGrath
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Editor: Jean Hall
Cover Designer: KA Ware at Bite Me Graphic Design
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
“Your past will always catch up with you…it’s just a matter of when.”

Just when Marcus thinks things are finally falling into place, having found his beautiful Sarah, he is finally going to get his happy ever after. Until a vision from his past jeopardises everything.

Marcus and Sarah couldn’t be happier. Arriving home from their road trip, Marcus begins having nightmares. With vivid memories from his childhood haunting his thoughts, he turns to his past in search of answers.

Marcus’s search leads him to Madison Jennings, his first love. Their affair was as secret as it was powerful. He filled her loneliness after the death of her husband. She filled his need to be safe and loved.

Sixteen years later they meet again. What effect will this have on the life he has built with Sarah?



My name is Christina McGrath. Originally from Sydney Australia, I now live surrounded in
lakes and beaches on the beautiful central coast of New south wales with my husband and two young children.


As a girl, I had always dreamed of being a writer, but like most people I pushed my dreams aside for reality.

Turning 40, I guess I just thought if I don’t try, I’ll never know. Here I was telling my kids they could do anything they wanted in life. They just have to try. Time to live by my own words.

So, I sat down and started to write. To my surprise, it came very naturally.
I wanted to write strong, witty, fun…REAL women. I wanted my characters to feel like someone you could easily be friends with.

The hardest question I get asked is what genre I write. The truth is…to this day, I don’t know. My books thus far are definitely romance, but, they are so much more. They are funny, heart breaking, naughty and emotional. The characters are relatable and real.
All I really know is, now I’ve started to write, like any addiction…I just can’t stop. I truly love it.

Author Links:

Buy Link:
Finding Sarah Miller: http://amzn.to/2oOM4ww
Finding Marcus Anderson: http://amzn.to/2qxhhp2

  









#BlogTour - Dally by @ShannaHatfield


Title: Dally
Author: Shanna Hatfield
Genre: Western, Historical Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
She’s ready to spread her wing and fly…
            He’s scrambling to set down roots.

Unconventional, Dally Douglas is as likely to be found wearing her brother’s britches and riding a horse as she is dressed in lace-trimmed finery sipping tea in the parlor. With no plans to wed, she convinces her family to allow her to stay at their ranch in Oregon. Free and unfettered, she plans to remain that way, even when the town’s beloved young doctor returns home and captures both her interest and her heart.

Charismatic, handsome, and dedicated to his work, Doctor Nik Nash finally makes his way back to Pendleton. After years of dedication to his studies, Nik is excited to bring his skills and knowledge to the place he calls home. Focused on his career, he has no time for a woman, especially not one as lively, fascinating, and enchanting as Dally Douglas.

When a freak accident brings the two of them together, their stubborn determination may cost them the chance to know true love.

Bursting with sweet romance, this tender yet lighthearted story draws readers into a world of rustic elegant charm..



USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, Cowboy Kisses, and Pioneer Hearts.

Author Links:

Buy Link:


However, someone like Nik Nash, someone who had no interest in raising horses or cattle, wasn’t a man who’d claim her attention — even if he was handsome and charming and had the most heart-melting smile she’d ever seen. Or, at least he had five years ago.

Dally wouldn’t admit to anyone she had a crush on the older boy. If memory served her correctly, Nick was five or so years her senior. No doubt, he’d seen her as a child back then, if he noticed her at all.

In spite of her tendency to romanticize her thoughts, she had no intention of getting married for a long while. She wanted to experience life before she tied herself down with a husband and the responsibilities of being a wife and mother.

Even though her family joked about it, Dally knew she wasn’t a girl most men wanted to court. She was stubborn and freethinking, and treasured her independence. It would take a special man to reach the depths of her heart and build a future with her.


And that man certainly was not recklessly wheeling through town on a motorcycle.











#BlogTour - Keeper of Souls by @authorcaseybond


Title: Keeper of Souls
Author: Casey Bond
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Horror
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Editor: Stacy Sanford, The Girl with the Red Pen
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

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

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

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

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



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

You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links: 
Buy Link:
Keeper of Crows: 
http://amzn.to/2n1dkFH
Keeper of Souls: http://amzn.to/2qwUqdu





#Review - Double Coverage by SJ Noble


Title: Double Coverage
Author: SJ Noble
Genre: Sports Romance
Trailer Designed by: Bibliophile Productions
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Blurb:
Dr. Bexley Vaughn is a genius at the top of her field. When she’s invited to apply her cutting-edge science to help the Memphis Knights football team return to its winning legacy, she jumps at the chance to work with two of the biggest names in the game. What she doesn’t expect is to fall hard and fast for both the veteran quarterback Paxton Davies and Dean Kincade, the eager young rookie looking to replace him. When things spiral out of control both on and off the field, Bexley will have to decide whether to risk it all on an impossible gamble, or to walk away and leave what’s left of her heart on the field.

The only thing she knows for certain is that, sometimes, finding love means re-writing the playbook.


Wow! Double Coverage is HOT! I mean Bexley has the two hottest football players on the time competing for her attention! BUT when it comes to deciding between the two, how does she choose? I know I couldn't. I really enjoyed reading Double Coverage, it was a love triangle that I needed, of course love triangles are my faves to read. I really loved how different Dean and Paxton were from one another as well, although Dean was my fave. There was just something about his character that called to me. Once I started reading Double Coverage I couldn't put it down, I read it all in one sitting. I needed to know what was to come of each turn of the page. SJ Noble did not disappoint, and I can not wait to read the sequel in A Memphis Knights Football Romance. This is one book you def need to read!



SJ Noble writes sexy, sassy romances with hunky heroes and bad ass ladies.
She is the love child of authors June Stevens Westerfield and Sherry D. Ficklin, who have often lamented that between the two of them they are one amazing writer. Their debut series, The Memphis Knights Football Romance Novels, was born of Sherry’s deep and abiding love for football and June’s deep and abiding patience with her nonsense. They have been friends and partners in crime for most of the 21st century and plan to continue that streak well into their Life Alert years. They live worlds apart because, they suspect, that much awesome in one concentrated area *could* produce some sort of time-altering worm hole. That’s just science, folks.

Author Links: 
Website: http://sjnoble.com

Buy Links:

“You know, I wish I had half as much faith in me as you do, Bex.”
He turns his full attention to me, his brown eyes dark and intense. For a moment I stare at him, my heart pounding hard in my chest as if counting the distance between us. When he leans toward me, I rock forward to meet him. There’s a voice in the back of my head screaming, but I stifle the sound. Meeting his lips with my own, I let myself tumble into him, a gentle warmth growing inside me. His hesitance evaporates and he clutches my waist, drawing a soft moan from my lips as my body reacts, taking us both by surprise. His lips are softer than I imagined, his touch gentler. It’s the sort of kiss you never expect, the kind that pulls you in like the tide rolling against the shore.
As soon as he releases me I feel the flush hit my face, my cheeks and ears burning with it. What the hell am I doing? Sliding off the desk I return the can to the fridge, keeping my back to Dean as I fight to steady my breathing.
“I’m sorry,” he says gently. “If I misread…anything.”
Taking a deep breath, I turn back to him, “No, no you didn’t. I just…can’t…”
Sliding off the table he crosses the room, taking my hands in his, “I’ve never met anyone like you,” he whispers, sending ripples along my skin. “Someone who takes none of my shit, but somehow seems to understand me better than anyone.” I inhale the scent of him and the room spins, everything becoming foggy, all the reasons this shouldn’t be happening vanish in a puff of smoke. “You can’t blame me for wanting you, for taking my shot.”






Monday, May 22, 2017

#CoverReveal - The Lightning Progeny by @EmilyCyrAuthor


Title: The Lightning Progeny
Author: Emily Cyr
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Najila Qamber
Publisher: CHBB
Model: Amee Gaddy
Photographer: Mandy Hollis
Expected Release Date: June 19, 2017
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Delaney Hagen’s life has spiraled into complete pandemonium. After killing the monster who turned her, she thought she’d finally escaped … only to find herself trapped with new enemies. Worse, these enemies are among the Coven – one of whom she thought she could trust.

Reid Jamison refuses to rest until his beloved mate is back in his arms. If that means organizing wolf packs around the globe and taking on the Coven, so be it. But doing so means achieving the impossible task of finding the oldest living wolf – and Reid is running out of time.

The fight to find one another reveals even greater dangers, ones that threaten the future of werewolves and witches alike. The stake of her people rests solely on Delaney’s shoulders. Reid must convince his kind to forgive a centuries-old grudge. Or there will never be peace among the chaos.

War has come to their world. Will Delaney and Reid reunite amidst the bloodshed, or will the fight for freedom send them into ruins?




Emily Cyr is a stay-at-home mom turned writer. She holds a degree in middle grades education with certification in English and social science. She has always had a love of all things paranormal and fantasy, but it wasn’t until Emily’s husband said the words, “Why not?” that she considered putting her thoughts and ideas into the book, The Lightning Prophecy. This trilogy was just the start for Emily. It seemed to open a creative door that had been locked.
Emily has always been an avid reader. Through reading came her love of writing. The more she read, the more she knew she wanted to create her own world. Many of her first works were fan fiction.
Emily and her family currently reside in Cibolo, Texas. She has an incredibly supportive husband who is also an officer in the United States Air Force. They have three sons, ages 6, 4, and 1. Somehow, even with the demands of being a parent to two little boys, she finds time to escape to her fantasies and write them down.

Author Links:
Instagram: emilycyrauthor

Buy Links:
The Lightning Prophecy: http://amzn.to/2q9RnUx
The Lightning Legacy: http://amzn.to/2rqStjG

  






#CoverReveal - Reckless Devotion Book Two by @JenDomenico


Title: Reckless Devotion: Book Two
Author: Jennifer Domenico
Genre: BDSM, Erotica
Cover Designer: Wicked by Design
Editor: Mad Hatter Press
Expected Release Date: June 19, 2017
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Gabriel and Mia’s story continues…

Intense. Passionate. Consuming. It was everything they both wanted—until it wasn’t.

When trust is shattered and doubt creeps in, Gabriel and Mia must decide if fighting for what they have is worth the compromise or if their devotion will only end in devastation.



One day, many months ago, Jennifer Domenico went to sleep and a beautiful love story played out in her dreams.

When she awoke, she felt compelled to write it down. So she did. The result was her first novel, Turn Towards the Sun and a writing career was born.

Ms. Domenico lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her very Italian husband, a dog that adores her, two cats that tolerate her, and a wicked sweet tooth.

Author Links:
Pinterest: pinterest.com/jendomenico
Instagram: jendomenicowords

Buy Link:
Reckless Devotion: Book One - http://amzn.to/2q60iHQ


Other books by Jennifer Domenico:
The Sunflower Trilogy -
~Book One: Turn Towards the Sun - http://amzn.to/295Odi4
~Book Two: After the Rain - http://amzn.to/292RLiR
~Book Three: Forever in Bloom - http://amzn.to/292RyfI
Have my Heart- A Novella - http://amzn.to/292S1yk
Beautifully Twisted - http://amzn.to/295OdP2
Chasing Desire - http://amzn.to/28ZlYik
Londyn Falls - http://amzn.to/295Orpg
Break Me Down - http://amzn.to/28Z8aSY
If I Told You - http://amzn.to/2dVvsj1
At First Glance - http://amzn.to/2e5U2NJ
When I Found You - http://amzn.to/2gpzwUJ
Unexpectedly Royal -  http://amzn.to/2jZ05qN





#ExcerptReveal - Rise of the Sea Witch by @RourkeWrites


Title: Rise of the Sea Witch
Author: Stacey Rourke
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Fairy Tale and Folklore
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Publisher: Anchor Group Publishing
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Prologue


I admit that in the past I was a princess. They weren’t kidding when they called me … well, a spoiled twit.” Tentacles rolling and churning beneath me, I turn to the newest member of my little garden with effortless grace. Arms thrown out wide, I grant the shriveled polyp a beguiling smile. Those around him tremble in fear, pulling as far away from him as their roots deep within the ocean floor will allow. “Through rather unfortunate circumstances it became mandatory I mend my ways. And, yes, some of the techniques I employed earned me the title of villain.”
“Never, my Queen,” Floteson murmurs. Coiling around my upper arm, he drapes himself across my shoulder.
Jetteson’s oily scales lovingly brush my cheek. “Every one of them was deserving of your wrath.”
Shoulders curling in, I pucker my lips which are freshly glossed by a crimson sea-flower and tenderly scratch each of them under their chins. “How horrible can I be to be so adored by such sweet babies?”
“She shows us nothing but love,” my darling zebra sharks chorus.
Their unwavering dedication soothes me, allowing me to expel a calming breath that bubbles in a wreath around my face.
“I am not the horrible beast many think me to be. Yet I feel it is your own misconceptions that brought you here, and led to … well, you know.” Floating passed my ornate vanity mirror, which seems out of place in the dreary cave I call home, I suck in my cheeks. Turning my head one way and then the other, I inspect my reflection. A smug smile curls the corners of my lips. The woman staring back at me is positively voluptuous with power, mayhem swirling within her clay-gray eyes. “Undoubtedly, you’ve heard rumors of my banishment.”
Hitching one eyebrow at my newly planted polyp, I watch him squirm under the weight of my attention.
“Do you even know my true given name, I wonder? Before hateful whisperings from the farthest reaches of the Seven Seas dubbed me The Sea Witch, I went by another name: Princess Vanessa of Atlantica. I harbored dreams of bringing peace and happiness to the kingdom … as their noble queen.”
Jabbing my hands on to my ample hips, I turn in a swirl of black and purple. “I’m not sure if that pitiful pout is caused by your deep longing to hear more, or if you’re mourning the loss of your shriveled limbs. But,” with a theatrical roll of my wrist, I snap my fingers—my cauldron sparks to life, an ethereal green glow simmering from within, “I choose to think the former because it’s about me … and all of my favorite things are.
“It would be predictable for me to say it all began with the death of my mother. Predictable and false.”
Water rushes beneath me with one mighty flap of all my tentacles. The power of the act propels me over to my alchemy shelves, where my fingers flick over the exposed vials. Some days I seek to terrorize my captives, calling out each ingredient or dangling it over their heads before tossing it into my brew.
Tongue of porpoise.
Eye of cuttlefish.
Shell of sea turtle.
I won’t lie and say watching their complexions green and bug eyes bulge isn’t a guilty pleasure of mine. For the moment, however, a wave of generosity—brought on by the mention of my mother—prompts me to toss them in without my usual theatrics. Each is received into the cauldron’s wide-mouth drum with a puff of smoke and spray of sparks.
“As much as I loved my mother, losing her didn’t drive me to madness as some would have you believe.” Hearing the melancholy in my tone, I bristle. “Far from it, in fact. I would have subjected myself to an abysmal existence of the mundane in honor of her memory. No, it was after the black flags of mourning had been strung through the kingdom, after the spectacle of her funeral procession had passed, that my descent began.”
Throwing one final ingredient into the cauldron, a veil of greasy smoke wafts from its rim. Images begin to form within the haze: the king’s regal quarters, and a formidable frame seated in a high-backed chair behind a massive stone desk.
Crouching down, I position myself eye level with the miniscule scene unfolding. My tentacles coil into tight knots beneath me. “This was the night … the night when I was touched by magic for the very first time … and loathed it to my very core.”
Within the ghostly image, the curtain to the king’s quarters is pushed open. A heavy set nursemaid with stripes of gray in the messy twist of her bun swims in. On one hip she balances a cherub-faced baby that’s only two months shy of his second birthday. Blond ringlets halo his head. Both his eyes and cheeks are ruddy from crying. The frazzled servant’s other hand clings to that of a raven-haired princess who rubs at her tired, violet eyes with a chubby, toddler fist.
“If you aren’t following along yet, that princess is me,” I explain to my captive audience. “The maid softly shushing my younger self is Loriana. Oh, how dear she was to me. She was a servant in the castle, tasked with tending to my brother and I. That little sunset orange tail poking out from behind her belongs to her son, Alastor. He was Triton’s best friend and would become much more than that to me ...”



“Sire,” respectfully bowing her head, Loriana readjusted her hold on Prince Triton, “I hate to interrupt.”
My father, King Poseidon, pushed his chair back from the desk in a swirl of water and sand, and rose in greeting. To the rest of the kingdom, he was known as simply the supreme ruler of Atlantica. To me, and my juvenile ignorance, he was the God of the Sea who towered over us all. I envisioned all of his enemies, and anyone that ever wished me harm, falling to their knees and trembling before his commanding presence. His hair and thick beard were the red of Precious Coral. Muscle rippled over every inch of his exposed torso. His narrow waist tapered into an emerald green tail that perfectly matched the shining jewels of his eyes. Countless times I had examined the lines of his face in search of some similarity between the two of us. None could be found. Triton had his smile, and later—when adolescence hit—he would inherit his strong chin. Me? Every inch of me was a lackluster shadow of my mother’s regal beauty. Where her eyes and tail sparkled like freshly polished amethyst, mine seemed dull by comparison. Or, perhaps the lighting from the pedestal I’d built for her in my mind shone for her with a more flattering shimmer.
“The hour is late. I welcome the interruption.” Poseidon set his fish bone quill onto the desk top, and positioned its stone cradle on top of it. “How can I be of service, Loriana?”
 “It’s the children, Your Highness.” Her face a mask of maternal sorrow, Loriana gave my hand a quick pulse of comfort. “This is the first night they have ever tried to go to sleep without a lullaby from their dear mother. I’m afraid I can’t seem to calm their troubled little hearts.”
Poseidon’s broad chest expanded with a deep inhalation, and tipping his head he exhaled a flurry of rushing water and bubbles. “This is a troubling time for us all,” he agreed. Crossing the room with one stroke of his tail, he extended his hands to receive Triton. My brother waved his arms in eager delight, wriggling into the security of Father’s strong embrace. Inching forward, I blinked up at the mighty king. He floated past without so much as ruffling my hair. “I’m afraid I don’t have your mother’s gift of song, but perhaps we could sit a spell and find peace in our togetherness.”
Honoring her position outside of the room, Loriana gave me a gentle push forward to follow my father. Casting a tentative glance over my shoulder, I did just that. Poseidon swirled Triton around, eliciting a giggle that crinkled the corners of his ocean blue eyes, before the king collapsed on the sea sponge sofa with his darling son on his lap. I perched on the very edge of the far cushion, uninvited and unnoticed.
Before that moment our father had been more of a … hmm, how to put this delicately? A figurehead in our lives. We knew of him and regarded him fondly, but unfortunately his kingly duties allowed our primary interactions to be those staged for political potency. Our mother, the lovely Queen Titonis, spent her days caring for my brother and I with only Loriana to aid her. Now, Poseidon had no choice but to pick up the yolk. For Triton this transition seemed to be going swimmingly. I, however, was getting as much attention as the Orca-bone end table.
Hands under the little prince’s pits, Poseidon turned Triton to face him. “I was so proud of how you behaved during the processional today,” he gushed. “You honored not only me, but your mother’s memory when you clasped your tiny fist over your heart and held your head high as her carriage passed.”
“Follow Nessa.” Triton looked to me with love, his tailfin a muted clap when connecting with Father’s lap.
“Your sister has two whole years of further training and experience than you, my boy.” Poseidon’s shoulders raised, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. “You exhibited the poise of a true leader.”
My lips clamped shut to stifle a sob, his words stinging like a slap. I had just as much right to the throne as Triton, but this was the first moment I became painfully aware of who he longed to see succeed him. It would not be the last … or the most painful.
“She held her curtsy so long, merfolk threw flowers!” Alastor, a year and a half older and far more eloquent than Triton, darted into the room to brazenly interject. Mahogany waves curled over his earlobes, adding dimension to his round little face that resembled a bubble. The boldness of his gesture quickly shriveled under Father’s menacing glare.
“The son of a servant entering the king’s quarters?” Father boomed, one eyebrow raising in question. “One might question your upbringing, lad.”
“A thousand apologies, Your Majesty!” Loriana blushed from her neck clear up to her earlobes and snapped her fingers at her wandering boy. “Alastor, come here at once!”
Shoulders sagging like a stone cast to the depths, Alastor returned to his rightful place in the hall. The heat of his topaz stare bore into me as he paddled along, searching for even the slightest acknowledgement of his noble deed.
I had none to offer.
My own gaze had drawn away from my brother, laughing while Father tickled his cheeks with his beard, to scan the items neatly arranged on father’s desk. Inanimate objects which earned his attentions daily just by being. On the right side, closest to his scrawling hand, sat the quill. Its fat little ink pot was perfectly positioned perpendicular beside it. In the center of the desk, weighted by stones carved with the royal crest, rested a stack of scrolls awaiting the king’s notice. On the left-hand corner, Poseidon’s late night snacking needs were met by a plate of rolled and seasoned seaweed puffs.
The ink pot lured my attention back as if calling to me.
I had never had to work for attention in any capacity. My mother had always given it freely, and in limitless supply. Since she had been taken from me, I had unquenched needs: hugs, stories, and all of that … drivel. So, yes, I thought about acting out. I toyed with the idea of knocking over that little clay pot and letting the ink flow to ruin the staged perfection of father’s space. More than that, I wanted to. I wanted to hear him shout out my name in his menacing vibrato, because at least then he would have to acknowledge me. While my hands stayed folded neatly in my lap, as the good little mergirl I was, something within me I had never felt before reached out. Palpable energy, only I seemed privy to, crackled through the water to cradle the pot in its hold. I could feel it, poised and ready, awaiting my command. Biting my lower lip to fend off a threatening grin, my essence gave barely a nudge and the ink pot tumbled. A thick black cloud exploded over my father’s desk, staining the scrolls and ruining the once delectable wraps.
“Vanessa!” thundered my father, rocketing off the sofa. “Look what you’ve done!”
I turned toward him with feigned remorse … and screamed. The howl of terror tore from my chest until my gills ached and my throat was raw.
There was a buzz of activity: Poseidon calling to the nursemaid, Loriana swimming in as fast as her fins could carry her, Triton wailing in fear, Alastor trying to shush his friend from the doorway to which he’d been banished. I neither saw nor heard any of this.
Floating in the center of the room, bobbing with the current, was my mother.
Not the serene vision of loveliness I had known her to be that was full of life and love. Heck, I even would’ve happily settled for the slumbering beauty she appeared to be during her funeral. In vast contrast, the entity hovering before me had chunks of flesh gnawed away by assorted sea beasts. Cracked, ashen lips curled into a snarl. Black ooze bubbled through her teeth, dripping from her chin and clouding the water. My scream reached a fevered pitch, spots dancing before my eyes. The ghoul, who in life sang me to sleep, reached for me with one hand that had been gnawed to bone.
You see, by using magic I opened a door and allowed the darkness in. The cost being more than I could bear, I vowed to myself—as my consciousness waned—never, ever to dabble with such things again.
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves …