#BookSale “Girl, Abandoned (A Thriller with a Mind-Blowing Twist) (Peter R Stone’s ‘Girl’ Series)” by Peter R. Stone

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A suspenseful novel full of twists about a girl striving to reconcile with her mother–a rich senator–who abandoned her at birth, set against the backdrop of a city caught in the grip of an unprecedented crime wave.

When Amber Faulkner strives to honour her dying adoptive mother’s last request to be reunited with her birth mother—the universally reviled politician Joan Simmons—she has no idea of the anguish and pain that lie ahead.

What dark secrets lie behind the reason her birth mother abandoned her when she kept and raised her twin sister? Why does her mother tell her that she didn’t want her then and still doesn’t want her now? How far will her mother go to keep Amber’s true identity secret to prevent a scandal that would destroy her political career and everything she’s worked so hard to build?

Why is her mother leading a small breakaway group of senators to side with the opposition to block legislation that will put over two thousand repeat violent offenders behind bars when the city is caught in the grip of an unprecedented crime wave of aggravated burglaries, rampaging teenage gangs, rape and murder?

Why is the nameless vigilante carrying out a campaign of terror against Joan Simmons and her family? Is he trying to force her to approve the legislation or does he have darker purposes in mind? Can Liam Fielder—the young man infatuated with Amber—live up to his assertions that he can protect her from the vigilante when she is caught in the crossfire?

From Peter R Stone, the author who brought us the thrilling post-apocalyptic ‘Forager’ six-book series.

FREE at time of posting!

Kindle Unlimited

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#BlogTour “The Moscow Whisper” by Michael Jenkins

TheMoscowWhisper

Welcome to the blog tour for action-packed, spy thriller The Moscow Whisper by Michael Jenkins!

50370038._SX318_The Moscow Whisper

Publication Date: June 12th, 2020

Genre: Thriller/ Espionage/ Action/ Spy Thriller

Publisher: Failsafe Thrillers

Length: 407 Pages

‘Sometimes you have to enter the death zone to save the innocent ’

A top-secret clique of former spies meet for dinner to hatch a plan to murder a competitor, not knowing that they are under surveillance from a covert arm of British Intelligence. Hours later, with bodies strewn across a terrace, a piece of secret intelligence reveals an international plot of colossal magnitude.

For disgraced agent Sean Richardson, this is the beginning of a deniable mission to infiltrate and disrupt a group of Russian mercenaries who are working clandestinely to take over a nation state.

Acting covertly as an illicit arms trafficker, Sean is dropped into a deadly cauldron of terrorists and high-tech weaponry that will take a nation down. As the bullets fly and the chaos rains in, can Sean take down the merchants of death…..or has he finally met his match?

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Excerpt

One of my favourite extracts from the novel where Sean has to act with guile and stealth to hack into his targets home computer. A nervous espisode, as capture would mean death from the brutal Russian mercenary. 

At exactly eight o’clock in the evening, Dozich’s internal CCTV system was infiltrated by The Court’s hackers sitting at their dimly lit consoles somewhere in the quiet Suffolk countryside. Sean’s phone began to vibrate – sure enough, right on time. Jack messaged him on TextSecure and the phone came alive with a green screen showing three dots flickering. ‘Good to go. All stations on standby.’

The Court’s hackers had inserted a Trojan worm deep into the servers of the villa, which quickly propagated laterally to gain the privileged access rights to the CCTV system. The hackers took control of each of the internal cameras that would provide sight of Sean making his way to the rooms he would search.

‘I’ll be back in an hour,’ he said to Yelena. ‘If anyone comes and asks where I am, text me, and tell them I’m on the loo.’

‘I can come along and keep an eye out for you while you’re in the room you know. It’s my father’s house and if anything goes wrong, I’ll be able to tell a story far better than you at being caught mooching around like a jewel thief.’

‘Funny that, Jack set my legend up to show I was once an amateur thief.’

Had Sean seen the anxious look on Jack’s face back at The Court, he may have taken her up on the offer to tag along. But no. he needed to do this work alone. He stepped outside the door knowing the corridor cameras were now under the control of The Court hackers who had digitally manipulated the imagery being seen by Dozich’s security operators deep in the basement of the villa. He then sent a text to Jugsy: ‘Land the drone on Dozich’s balcony. Five minutes.’

Within three minutes, Sean had turned a key to enter the spacious office which was located on the first floor of the villa. He’d memorised the plans of the villa and the layout of Dozich’s office with the help of Yelena who had managed to coax the information from the housekeeper as well as the location of the spare key that her father always left in the vase opposite the door.

As Sean started to rummage the room, he still couldn’t work out why Yelena had been so accommodating, so helpful. Almost from the very beginning when he first caught her half naked in that room in Tuscany. Since that moment, it had not been at all difficult to extract information from her. Indeed, she even steered him straight to the Albanian thug. Why, he wondered?

His phone began to ring. The signal that the drone was now inbound and imminent. Sean walked over to the terrace, released the latch on the sliding door, and stepped out to be confronted by a buzzing quadcopter two feet ahead of him at head height. He imagined Jugsy grinning at him through the onboard camera, so he decided to give him the finger. Following a smile at the ugly whirring beast, he grabbed a small black pouch from a cradle below the drone’s belly. He gave a thumbs up into the eye of the onboard camera, and watched it lift quickly before silently peeling off into the night to land on the roof of the villa.

Sean pointed his penlight towards the large white desk that sat neatly in the corner of the room with two twenty-inch screens and a desktop computer. He gazed briefly at the three large pictures behind Dozich’s desk. His gaze turned into serious study. Something had caught his eye. One picture had three men dressed in Spetsnaz fatigues and Dozich holding an AK47. It looked like it was taken in Afghanistan. Dozich was stood next to a man Sean recognised. It was a much younger Sergei. The Russian spy Jack had recruited and the man he had met only a year ago in the very conference room that Jack was now sat in. Sean’s nape began to tingle. What if Sergei had played Jack all along? Surely this is too much of a coincidence for Sergei, the lead officer for a Russian illegals programme in the UK, to be a military friend of Dozich?

Sean took a photo of the wall mounted picture with his smartphone and beamed it back to Jack using the secure photo app specially designed for Court operations. He muttered a few words to himself about moles and how Swartz might have been compromised, before sitting at the desk. The computer screen was alive with a background picture of a mountain view. He tapped the return button to bring up the password box. He then stood up and walked around the room once more until he finally found what he was after. A small second desktop machine with a laptop beside it on a small table next to an open fireplace. Sean instinctively knew that Dozich would probably use the laptop for emails and internet transmissions, whilst he kept his main desktop machine isolated from any intruders who would hack into his machine via the internet. Operational security for organised crime lords in the digital world was a must, and one that Dozich would take seriously.

Sean tapped the number into his phone that he’d been given by Jack to speak to a Court operator in the operations room back in Suffolk. The hacker would help him get into the machine to search and retrieve all of the files of Dozich’s illicit trade, his financial connections and any connecting evidence to Sir Rhys.

‘Sean? Can you hear me? My name’s Bill?’

‘Yes, I can, I’m in front of the machine, go ahead.’

‘OK, this won’t take long. First off, there are two pensticks in the black pouch. Both will be required to perform this attack which should take less than five minutes. The blue stick will be used to create a live USB that will boot on the laptop while, the yellow stick holds the payload that will then be executed on the device. It will infiltrate the machine and search for the password hash. Place the blue one in now.’

Sean drew the blue pen drive from his jeans pocket and placed it into the USB drive. ‘Done,’ he said waiting impatiently for the next instruction.

‘OK, now on the pen drive is a small switch. Turn it on so a green light flashes once before going solid after five seconds.’

‘Done, what’s next.’

‘Just sit back for about three minutes or so. It’ll boot on the laptop and also sniff for the drone sat above you on the roof, and once it’s connected, we’ll have a transmission frequency to extract the data we need.’

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I feel privileged to have served for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, working in Defence Intelligence and Counter-Terrorist Bomb Disposal operations, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

Michael Jenkins | Facebook | Twitter 

Blog Tour Organized By:

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#BookBlitz ‘n’ #BookReview “Lockdown Innit” by MJ Mallon

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4/5 Stars!

Frustration, trepidation, fear, confusion, ennui, and boredom. Marjorie Mallon has taken the emotions so many of us experienced at life’s ironies and absurdities during coronavirus lockdowns and penned them in musings with her short prose and poetry.

From anger at the unmasked and the privileged to the trials of working from home and a health scare to a bin-guarding swan, memories of 2020 are crystal clear.

This short collection isn’t just a memoir and observations, but also a tribute to the spring the whole world changed.

Enjoy!

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SYNOPSIS

Lockdown Innit is a poetry collection of eighteen poems about life’s absurdities and frustrations during lockdown. Wherever you live in this world, this is for you. Expect humour, a dollop of banter and ridiculous rants here and there. Amongst other delights, witness the strange antics of a swan posing by a bin and two statuesque horses appearing like arc deco pieces in a field. Check out the violin player on a tightrope, or the cheeky unmentionables wafting in the lockdown breeze!

BOOK LINKS

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Kindle Amazon UK 

Kindle Amazon US 

Goodreads 

Universal link for kindle 

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AUTHOR BIO

 MJ MallonMy alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheroes!

On the 17th of November I was born, in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit.) My early childhood was spent in Hong Kong. During my teen years, my parents returned to my father’s birthplace, Edinburgh, where I spent many happy years. As a teenager, I travelled to many far-flung destinations. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six-foot hunk of a Rock God husband. My two enchanted daughters have almost flown the nest, but often return with a cheery smile to greet me.

During the day, I work in an international sixth form with students from around the world. I’m the meet and greet lady who welcomes them to their new college and issues them with late slips when they don’t get to their lessons on time!

I write YA fantasy, paranormal, horror/supernatural short stories, flash fiction and short form poetry. More recently, I have produced and compiled an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown. Following on from this, in February 2021 I will be releasing Lockdown Innit, poems about absurdity.

I’ve been blogging for many moons at my blog home, Kyrosmagica, which means Crystal Magic. From time to time I write articles celebrating the spiritual realm, inspiration and my love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

My eclectic blog shares my three loves: reading, writing, and creativity. I adore reading and have written over 150 reviews on my blog: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA DETAILS

Author Website | Author Amazon Page | Twitter  | #ABRSC  | Goodreads | BookBub | Instagram

Mallon Books

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#Excerpt “Dark Secrets of the Bayou” by Kim Carter

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Mystery, Suspense

 

Date Published: November 2020

Publisher: Raven South Publishing

Catherine “Tink” Mabrey, an up and coming attorney, is shocked by her recent inheritance from her estranged family on the bayou. After her mother died during childbirth, Tink’s father had quickly relocated them to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia. With no memory of her mother, she is determined to learn more about her lineage and decides to visit the bayou town of Kane, Louisiana. Candace, Tink’s co-worker and best friend, agrees to make the trip with her.

Before she has time to explore her family’s history, or decide what to do with the declining property, local murders plague Tink’s homecoming. She quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a multiple murder investigation – and quite possibly, the prime suspect. When Candace retreats back to Atlanta, Tink, with the support of an unlikely cast of characters, sets out to discover clues that have haunted and tormented her family for generations.

Could a concealed crime from the 1800’s, or the family’s estate itself, harbor keys to unlocking the past? The more they learn, the more they question whether some secrets are best left buried.

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Other Books By Kim Carter:

 

Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle (2017)

Murder Among The Tombstones (2017)

No Second Chances (2017)

Deadly Odds (2018)

And The Forecast Called For Rain (2018)

When Dawn Never Comes (2018)

Amazon

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KANE, LOUISIANA, 1859


EMMANUEL SINCLAIR STOOD BACK and surveyed the sprawling plantation that had encompassed his life for the past two years. He nodded with pleasure as if someone were there awaiting his approval. Placed perfectly amidst rows of river oaks, magnolias, and sycamores, the estate was breathtakingly beautiful. The well-designed landscape surrounding the home contrasted sharply with the bald cypress and coastal willows rising prominently from the waters in the bayou.

Emmanuel had no doubt, Lucretia, his soon-to-be bride, would be delighted with her stately new home. Within the next twenty-four hours, she was scheduled to go by train from Baltimore to the Ohio River.

Lucretia would then travel by steamboat via the Ohio and the Mississippi to New Orleans, where Emmanuel would be waiting for her. Lucretia’s trip would be grueling, but she’d experienced many challenges over her eighteen years. Her grandparents had been part of the Expulsion of 1755 when the British ejected all French-Acadians refusing to pledge allegiance to the King of England. Originally settling in Maine, her family relocated to New York before putting down permanent stakes in Baltimore.

Young Lucretia longed for consistency, and it had been Emmanuel’s stability that’d won her over. By the age of thirty-five, he’d already made his fortune in the cotton business. His father had died seven years earlier, leaving Emmanuel a sizeable concession of land and a fledgling cotton crop, which, at best, kept the plantation self-sufficient. But it was the combination of Emmanuel’s business savvy, the increase of cotton production, and Louisiana’s strategic ports that’d quickly increased his wealth.

AS EMMANUEL HAD BEEN STEADILY BUILDING a prosperous empire, Thaddeus Jackson had been constructing a flourishing kingdom of his own, on an equally expansive plantation a few miles away. Thaddeus had his father, Mathias, to thank for being born a free man of color. He had caught Andrew Jackson’s eye as a standout on the battlefield during the War of 1812. His grueling work ethic and leadership skills played pivotal in constructing breastworks, later referred to as Line Jackson.

Thaddeus had quickly tired of the story, even as a young boy, and considered his father nothing more than a yes-man who’d covered cotton bales with logs and mud to protect the white army. However, Andrew Jackson had been quite impressed— enough so, in fact, that he’d facilitated Mathias’s freedom. Not one to take any blessing for granted, Mathias had chosen to acquire Jackson’s surname out of gratitude.

Thaddeus had found much to dislike about his father, but he’d inherited many of his most admirable traits. He was a powerful leader and quick learner with a sense of adventure. These characteristics had led to his success as a Mississippi River privateer. His tall frame and good looks didn’t hinder him either. Both his appearance and self-confidence had also captured Fatima Lambert’s attention.

Fatima came with quite the story of her own. With a shortage of white women in the state of Louisiana and laws forbidding interracial marriage, the institution of plaçage enabled her to be a mistress to the very wealthy, and incredibly old, William Lambert. She’d been merely a teenager when he’d spotted her working his fields and had quickly arranged for her to be a kept woman.

Accustomed to hard labor and the unrelenting heat, she hadn’t objected to being at his beck and call and his bed when he’d insisted. Fortunately for Fatima, she’d only had to suffer through a few sessions of his sexual desires before he’d dropped dead of a heart attack at the ripe age of seventy-eight.

With William being a childless widower and having no other heirs with whom to split his fortune, Fatima had become the proud owner of not only his cotton plantation but his slaves as well. It wasn’t her attractiveness as a mulatto that’d lured Thaddeus to pursue Fatima; it’d been her property and the glorious cotton fields that promised a lifetime of financial security. Once he’d set his sights on her, there was little Fatima could do but concede to his advances. After all, who wouldn’t want a bright, handsome husband to take care of things?

A RABBIT SCURRIED beneath some underbrush, drawing Emmanuel’s attention to the cool, damp breeze and dark clouds promising an impending storm. He walked to the front porch, paused long enough to grab his oil lamp, and made his way inside. Emmanuel hesitated briefly to take in the magnificence of the grand staircase winding its way, like an ornate ribbon, up to the second and third floors. One of his slaves, who’d been trained as a blacksmith, had spent the past few months creating it, and he hadn’t disappointed.

It would surely take Lucretia’s breath away. Aside from a bed and some office necessities, the remaining furnishings would be left to Lucretia’s desires. Yet another of Emmanuel’s wedding gifts to her. Although it was midday, and the many windows gave way to ample light, thunder clouds had begun to darken the home’s interior. Emmanuel made his way up the stairs, down the corridor leading to the west wing, and entered his office. He slid the mantel a smidgen to the left.

This released the mechanism holding the entire faux fireplace intact, enabling him to unlock the steel door leading to an array of complex tunnels, and ultimately, his concealed vault. THIS WAS where the lives of two greedy and shrewd businessmen merged.

This was the beginning of a tale older than time, filled with greed, lust, superstition, and murderous secrets they’d both take to their graves.

It was a story meant to be locked away forever…

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About The Author

Kim Carter is an author of suspense, mystery and thriller novels. She was a finalist in the 2018 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award and recipient of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for her book Murder Among The Tombstones. This is the first book in her Clara and Iris Mystery series. The characters in this series are a couple of overly curious widows who become private investigators and were inspired by Kim’s mother and her mom’s best friend.

Her other titles include: When Dawn Never Comes, Deadly Odds, No Second Chances, And The Forecast Called For Rain, and Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle.

Kim’s writing career started after she suffered an illness that made her housebound for a couple of years. An avid reader of mystery novels, she embarked on writing as a means of filling her time. Kim shared those early writings with friends and family who encouraged her to pursue writing professionally. Her health struggles and successes have been chronicled on The Lifetime Television in early 2000, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Women’s Day Magazine, and Guideposts.

Prior to her illness, Kim worked in many different capacities in county government ranging from Park Director with Parks and Recreation to the Grant Department with Human Services. But, ultimately, it was her job as a correctional officer that provided her the opportunity to interact with a variety of people from all walks of life. Her experiences ran the gamete of inspiring success stories to tragic endings, much like her mysteries.

She self-published her first book No Second Chances. One of the guest speakers at the launch party she had at the Performing Arts Center in Newnan, Georgia included her close friend retired Atlanta Police chief Eldrin Bell. This connection would become helpful as she started doing more research for other books, this time working with a small publishing house.

Kim started networking and made connections with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. Her research has taken her many places including morgues, death row and the occasional midnight visit to cemeteries.

She is a college graduate of Saint Leo University, has a Bachelor Degree of Arts in Sociology. Kim and her husband have three grown children and live just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Contact Links

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#CoverReveal “Edge of Fear (Arrow’s Edge MC, #4)” by Freya Barker

Title: Edge Of Fear (Arrow’s Edge MC, #4)

Author: Freya Barker

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: May 3, 2021

Image: Golden Czermak (Furious Fotog)

Model: Scott Benton

Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

 

Ink and sawdust meets brisket and moxie
I’m a tattooed casualty.
A charmer, a fraud, a skeptic, and a carpenter.
My name is Tse.
I’m cocky enough to believe my own lies, but too oblivious to see the truth is already out there.
I’m a cautious perfectionist.
A sister, a scrapper, a dreamer, and a workhorse.
My name is Sophia.
I’m capable enough to plan ahead, yet too powerless to avoid getting blindsided.
We’re complete opposites—one who plays it safe, the other a thrill-seeker—but when old sins resurface bringing violence to the present, our path forward becomes clear.

Tweet: Check out the #CoverReveal for @freya_barker Latest book in the Arrow's MC series Edge of Fear HERE>> https://ctt.ec/4mKab+ Start the Series @Amazon https://ctt.ec/3ELp1+ #KU #MCRomance #BAPpr

 

USA Today bestselling author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
Driven to make her books about ‘real’ people; she creates characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills in their lives.
Recipient of the ReadFREE.ly 2019 Best Book We’ve Read All Year Award for “Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, and Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, Freya continues to add to her rapidly growing collection of published novels as she spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!

Available in Kindle Unlimited

AMAZON

#BookSale “The Bride Hunt Box Set: Books 1-3” by Charlene Hartnady

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A Dragon Shifter Box Set

Book 1: Royal Dragon

Dragon shifters are a dying breed. There are so few females left that if drastic measures are not taken, and soon, it’ll be over for the species. The threat of extinction looms.
King Blaze finally accepts that there is no other option but to evoke an age-old tradition.

The Hunt.

The eligible dragon shifter males must hunt a handful of females. It’s first catch, first serve. The biggest problem is that the females are human. Despite feedback to the contrary, Coal thinks they are weak and breakable. In his opinion, not capable of surviving the hunt, let alone the mating that will follow. He doesn’t believe that a lowly human is capable of birthing him a royal heir, so why has his brother, the king, tasked him with claiming one?

He can’t believe this is happening to him. Especially when most of the males in their tribe are willing to accept one of these puny females. Not him. He’s never rutted with one and doesn’t have any desire, whatsoever, to rut with one in the future, let alone mate and impregnate one. Claiming one of these females will not be an easy feat considering there are three other dragon tribes vying for the opportunity.

How the hell is he supposed to do all of this when he doesn’t want to come within a mile of one of these unsavory creatures?

Book 2: Water Dragon

Torrent took part in the much-anticipated hunt. Luckily, he managed to secure himself a female. Although the human was not his first choice, she’ll do.
A fertile female is a fertile female after all. An heir is what he needs and an heir is what she’ll give him. In return, she’ll get to be queen of the water kingdom.

What more could a female wish for?

Candy is hunted like an animal and won by an arrogant shifter who doesn’t even want her. She doesn’t care that he’s a king. So what if he’s really good looking and that underneath all that bristling, alpha male is a sweet guy. Although sweet is probably not the right description for the savage, water king.

The only thing he’s interested in is mating her, so that she can pop out lots of dragon shifter babies. Well, no thanks! She’s not interested. As soon as she’s able to get that through his thick skull, she’s out of there. Torrent promised her she could leave if things didn’t work out between them and she plans on holding him to his word.

Book 3: Dragon King

Blaze has loved and lost before. He’s been down that slippery path before and never wants to go there again. Especially not with a human.
It’s a great pity that he has no choice. The problem is that he’s the Fire King, ruler of all four kingdoms. Blaze is expected to have heirs. The sooner the better. He’ll have to take a human as his mate, one that will bear his young, but he doesn’t have to love her. Blaze plans on handling it like a business transaction. No love, no emotion, no problem.

Guaranteed HEA!

The Story Contains strong sexual themes/language and is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

FREE at time of posting!

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Amazon

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#BookTour “Symmetry (The Eternal Quest Breaker Series Book 1)” by T.M. Caruana

Symmetry

Welcome to the tour for Symmetry, the exciting first installment in T.M. Caruana’s Eternal Quest Breaker Series! Symmetry Front Eternal QuestSymmetry

Publication Date: April 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Susy finds herself in isolation with no recollection of her past. Her only friend leaves unexpectedly after handing her a mysterious key-like pendant. 

To use for what?

When trying to escape her captivity, she is snapped up by a man whose grip is too soft to be that of a kidnapper and too firm to be that of a stranger, but when Susy lays her eyes on him her heart is instantly trapped! This man speaks of an Honorary Knight Order, a map and seven stones with magical powers that open portals.

Susy’s view of the world will never be the same again!

Love and secrets delay their quest and concerns grow that the balance of life will not be re-established in time as the evil of the two magical schemers gets closer to his goal.

A series with the most elaborate quest the world has ever seen, culminating in a final decision that will determine the fate of our existence as we know it… if only the Eternal Quest Breaker can find a way to overcome the two magic schemers’ battle.

Available on Amazon

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Excerpt

Would I dare to breathe? Would I try to crawl out through the door they came from? To stay under the workbench still seemed the safest, but it would reach the point when I must get out. Frankly, I was terrified of what awaited me on the outside world. Father hadn’t yet discovered my escape; I would have felt his disappointment shoot straight through me. Why was I such a coward? Was the fear based on the uncertainty about how long my memory would hold? My memory failed me frequently and there were no patterns that suggested whether it was caused by a problem with the short or long-term memory. It was selective, as if someone viewed me from above and chose which moments would give the most amusing outcome or perhaps it was like a random lottery. I had always remembered father, uncle and Vic, but not the nurses on the ward who must have known me for as long as my family. Some news reports on TV may stay with me for a year, others only hours. Days and dates were worse. It was as if numbers didn’t stick at all. Perhaps it was down to my photographic memory because sometimes I remembered faces, but not the names and sometimes the prick of the needles, but not the time they had been carried out.

From under the desk, I could see the two men adjusting some dials and standing to watch with intense interest through the glass window into the small room.

I heard my father say: “Do you believe me now Ben? Have I managed to prove my theory to you after so many years?”

“Well, it suggests a certain success, I must say,” my uncle replied.

Not understanding what on earth they were talking about, I carried on trying to form an escape plan, until the next comment broke into my thoughts.

“I never thought that it would take four hundred years to see the first glimpses of hope,” muttered uncle, “and many have paid a high price for our greed,” he continued in the same low tone.

“No, don’t start on this issue again, you are a scientist and you understand that sometimes a few have to suffer in order for the majority to prosper,” Father explained with a disconcerting satisfaction, which I had never heard before and made me worry more about my mission.

“What is missing in the formula? Could it be the speed at which Susy’s blood collides? Is the blood not hot enough? Or has it to do with gravity?” he continued, debating more with himself, it seemed, than with uncle Ben.

“Maybe the power stone is a contributing factor, and it has to be near the blood for it to be activated?”

Now it was my uncle’s turn to speak.

“Stupid, don’t you think I understand that! But you know very well that the yellow stone disappeared as we returned to Earth through the blue archangel portal,” Father said, slating off his brother to clarify that his suggestion was of no help.

So, they were still trying to find a cure for my disease, or what was the research they had accomplished? What effect from a stone was it that they wanted? And what did they mean when talking about ‘returning to Earth’?

As I listened, I realised that I now had an opportunity. They had turned their backs to the door leading to the outside, which was automatically slowly closing. Quickly, I made my way out. I wished I didn’t have to crawl on my knees. They felt sore and the floor was cold. The first metres were the hardest, but just a little bit further and the room was left behind. It was nice to get back on my feet. Yikes! A long corridor of stairs led up to a closed door about twenty metres away! Stairs, they were going to make my knees just as sore as the cross-trainer in the gym and I wasn’t in the best shape. I felt the agony in every step and was delighted to reach the top.

The door was locked, but fortunately could be opened from my side. As I closed the door behind me, I noticed a sign that read, ‘Restricted Access’. I turned to view the room I had entered – it was massive, with wires, pipes and tubes, high up in the air that could be reached by a yellow metal staircase. It was clinically clean, with an array of buttons lit in green and red and a dull buzzing sound that could be distinguished from the cries I usually heard in my head. What I saw in front of me was one of the engine rooms to the Large Hadron Collider. That was an easy guess since Vic had told me about this place. What baffled me was the fact that I had thought it was located in another building. I was in a private hospital on CERN’s premises and had expected there to be other wards with other ill patients. Was I the only patient here? Was I even in a ward? Did the rest of the staff here even know I existed? It surely didn’t seem so. Looking at the ‘Restricted Access’ sign, it seemed like I had been a lab rat trapped for research. Okay, my illness might have made me useless, but I thought that Father could have found another use for me than this horrible fate.

This realisation of my status increased my fear to another level and I knew I had to get out quickly and undetected. There was no one around and I looked for an emergency exit sign. Drafts of air stroked my cheek and there…there was a large double glass door with white text printed onto the reverse, ‘Entrance’. It was even better than an emergency exit and should lead me straight out to the front of the building.

Considering the spaghetti sensation I had felt after climbing the stairs, my legs carried me surprisingly well across the floor, without stumbling. The doors opened automatically as I approached them and I walked outside and able to feel, for the first time in my life, fresh air. It felt like…as…I didn’t really know what, but it was wonderful. It was fresh, like when you open the refrigerator, though not with the smell of old food or onions. My lungs had probably never taken a deeper breath and they rejoiced in it. I wished that time would stop at this moment so I could embrace the soft breeze against my cheeks. But there wasn’t time and I had to run far away before my father discovered that I was missing.

Turning away from the glass doors, I noticed the car park. Two white vans were parked in the closest possible spaces right in front of the building, on the other side of the railings with a large opening in the fence towards the road, just about visible in the evening gloom. It could be reached via a walkway along the building to my left.

A high-pitched sound suddenly shattered the silence. It was such a loud noise…it was the siren. Panicking people appeared in the brightly lit area behind the glass doors. My heart began to gallop, as they must have noticed my absence. I had never felt so scared yet excited at the same time. Would I only get this far? Would they catch me and take me back, or would I even return voluntarily? But people didn’t say I was stubborn for no reason. My fear made the path towards the fence seem a lot further now.

My own dampened scream startled me when a figure from behind the corner of the building grabbed me around my stomach with a strong left arm and covered my mouth with a cloth. My feet left the ground, as the man was much taller than I. A stench of burnt leather and blood from his hand began to sting in my nose through the cloth. No chemicals appeared to be involved, only heat pressing on my skin. A horrifying gaze met my eyes when I looked up. We stood silent for seconds that seemed like minutes. His intense eyes looked deep into mine after putting put me back down on the ground. His eyes…they were…they were searching for something in mine. But what were they looking for, recognition…an acknowledgement? He moved his hand slowly from my mouth to his own with a gesture to indicate silence.

“Get in the car,” he hissed between his teeth and nodded towards the car parked behind him, hidden along the side of the building. I felt that I should recognise this person, but I was too afraid to see a connection. He acted as if he had known me all his life, as if he thought I knew him. Was he one of the nurses from the ward? My memory couldn’t have been so cruel. If I had seen this perfect creature before I must have remembered him, or at least remembered the feeling my heart created as the warmth was burning holes in my chest.

I stood paralysed by his appearance. It was stupid of me to stare and he must have noticed my astonishment. He grabbed hold of my hand when he had clearly understood that I was both amazed and confused by a stranger with such hostile body language, yet with a preserved beauty that made the Earth stand still. Again, his grip affirmed that he had taken my hand many times before. The steady grip wasn’t too hard to be a forced grip or too soft to be the shyness of strangers who had just met. His hand was hot, near to scorching. My reflexes took control to retract my hand, which released me from his grip. He looked angrily at me as he went around the car to the driver’s side. “How do you want it? Are you in or out?”

More words came hissing from the perfect white teeth. They came from a mouth that seemed not to have given many smiles, but if they happened, they would melt hearts. How could I trust someone I had just met and why would I want to go with him? No, it seemed strange. The gap in the fence was within reach, so I could probably make it. It was what everything was all about tonight. The man must have seen me looking toward the gap.

“No, you are coming in the car, you have no choice, there’s no way I’m letting you out of my sight now. Choose. Jump in voluntarily or cause a scene that can put both you and me in danger,” he threatened.

The stressed threat sounded softer and more pleading than his first commands even though he meant it to be robust and delivered with a nonchalant authority, as he had pulled his hands through the bushy bronze hair that had covered his eyes. I reflected on my choices. I seemed to have been left with two options: either I followed the stranger, or returned to the ward. The decision was made all the more quickly as the cool evening breeze was biting my skin. The temperature didn’t at all seem to bother the stranger as he wore just a black t-shirt, but it made me act quickly.

The car looked brand new, a black SUV with tinted windows and was not exactly discreet enough for a car chase, which I guessed was what was probably about to take place. Not that I was an expert on cars, but it looked stable and fast. I would have been more scared if the last hour hadn’t had a positive impact on my health. I felt much stronger than usual. It must have been the adrenaline. The silver metal handle was cold against my hand when I opened the door to the passenger’s side.

The moment the car drove around the corner towards the gates I could see Father rushing out from the building’s entrance doors. The troubled eyes along with the stressed body language appeared in slow motion and all I could hear was my name screamed in panic.

“Susy, Susy…Susy, come back!”

But it was more than a panic. There was something else in his voice, something I couldn’t put my finger on. Given that he was seeing his only daughter driven away in a car with a stranger, indicating that he might never see her again, I could have sworn he looked at me like a lost possession. I saw greed. ‘Susy, come back’, his voice echoed in my head as the guilt tore at my conscience. The mystical creature next to me drove the car so fast that it skidded on the gravel path through the gates, before I even had time to react to my father’s cries. There was silence in the car for several minutes whilst I watched buildings fly by outside the car windows. On the left-hand side was a large, round, ball-like building at the end of a long road lined with buildings on both sides; after it we made a right turn at a roundabout.

“Are you alright?” the man asked.

He was obviously trying to show compassion, but it sounded spoken out of duty.

“I have no idea,” my voice barely whispered.

A few hours ago, I had seen Vic’s face peeking into my room at the ward, giving me a smile and now I was in a stranger’s car on my first ever time outside the research institute. To think of it, it was the first time I had been near a male of my own age, except for Vic, who could be either harmless or extremely dangerous. Was this how it felt to sit inches away from another man’s flesh and blood, or was this feeling due to him being the most beautiful creature I had ever beheld? His body was faultless. There wasn’t a male model that could measure up to him, neither in physique nor complexion and that’s considering that the models on TV weren’t even real. Well, of course they were real, but they had lighting that was set up at a favourable angle and stylists who took care of every detail. This man’s appearance was natural. The muscles were clearly visible through his tight t-shirt and there was no makeup on his face that I could detect. His hair…well, it was drenched in hair gel, but still had more than a supernatural perfection. His three-day stubble was sensual and even his arms manoeuvred the car with a confident precision. He projected a calm, secure control with superiority. “Yes, I’m fine,” I replied slightly louder to the same question so as not to seem inferior to him.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked again to make sure that I meant my words, and this time with what seemed to be sincere concern.

He took a new grip of the wheel since the leather had begun to give off smoke from the heat of his hands. It was the first time I spotted the cuts on his right hand. The blood seeped out of three straight wounds. It was fresh and hadn’t coagulated fully. The blood seemed bubbly, as if it had boiled from the inside out. I dared not even ask why he had the wounds and assumed my concern would be in vain because he didn’t seem to be the type who provided any answers.

“You have a small bag of crisps in the glove compartment, you need salt and it’s your favou…” he stopped his sentence without completing it.

He must have realised that I was staring his way and blushed with embarrassment. I reached into the glove compartment, not because I was hungry, but because I felt weak and salt always increased my ability to concentrate. The crisps were cheese and onion flavour – my favourite, which the stranger seemed somehow to know. This situation felt completely surreal.

“Are you going to hurt me?” I asked slowly, immediately regretting my question since I didn’t really want to know the answer.

Either he was going to hurt me and then it was already too late, or he was helping me and then the question was actually another. “Who are you? Where are you taking me? How did you…?” my questions all blurred together.

“Time will tell, Tarus – home – the Chameleon,” he replied.

He seemed irritated and had not appreciated the quizzing. It was as if I had no right to ask. I remained silent, pondering over the answers he had given. They didn’t clarify the situation at all. It didn’t help that I had also forgotten the order in which I had asked the questions. But what I gathered was that his name was either Tarus or the Chameleon. I wished he would explain a bit more. If his agenda was to help me, he could at least have been more talkative.

“My name is Susy.”

I tried some small talk and hoped it would catch on for him to return the same information about himself. To confirm his name, for example, was a good start.

“I know.”

Those were the only words I got in response as he kept his eyes focused on the road. I couldn’t understand why, but he sounded disappointed that I had introduced myself, maybe even angry. But it was also clear that he didn’t want to provide any information. If I wanted to know anything, I would have to drag it out of him. He glanced nervously at the side mirror and back again to the rear-view mirror.

A white van suddenly appeared at full pelt from a turning three streets behind us, complete with flashing orange lights and sirens. We turned abruptly down a side street to the left and then took a turn to the right to proceed in parallel with the main street. We were being followed. It must be my father who had come to save me. Or would he really save me? I would be locked up in the ward again. Even if Father wouldn’t punish me for this defiant adventure, I still didn’t want to spend any more time in the hospital. No, I’d rather die than be taken back to the same bed with the same faded wallpaper and the same pitiful eyes on the nurses’ faces.

I kept a firm grip on the door handle and my left hand clenched onto the edge of the seat as the car swung between the traffic. The road signs that flew past had one common denominator, ‘Airport’.

“Airport! Are you taking me to the airport and out of the country?” my voice stammered in haste at the reluctance toward that thought.

I hadn’t planned every possible outcome for this evening, but even if I had, it would never have involved leaving the country. The idea had at most been to be on the run for a few days and then return to the ward to prove to Father that he could trust me on the outside once in a while. If the escape proved successful, perhaps it could bring some other perks, but leaving the country was petrifying. Could he really take me out of the country? I had no passport and no money!

“You were never good at trusting me, ironic that this time you have no choice.”

The man’s sentence was brief and mysterious. Now I felt really uneasy. Did this mean that I had known this man previously? Who was he? What’s more, he said that I hadn’t trust him in the past, but I had no choice now. Was I kidnapped or rescued? The situation was absurd.

The car sped through the darkness and towards a sign on the roof of a large building that started to become visible from the car, ‘Crowne Plaza’ Hotel. The car didn’t change direction and went straight into the hotel’s private car park. Once there, and a few metres past the entrance, a garage door opened for the car to enter, almost as if it were programmed to do so. The door closed behind us and we were in darkness. The man opened the driver’s door, emitting a dim light and stepped out.

“How silly of me to think that we were going to the airport,” I admitted as I stepped out of the car and slammed the door behind me.

“Not tonight,” he retorted, smiling arrogantly and handed over a passport that he retrieved from the side compartment of the car door.

I flicked open the passport and, sure enough, there were all my details. My blue eyes, though they were actually leaning towards violet, my height, name and Swiss nationality. There was a picture that looked exactly like me, but I had never had the photo taken. A lump formed in my throat. Whoever it was that I had in front of me, he was clever. He knew what he was doing and made no mistakes. I was a puppet in his play who could only wait for the next instruction.

“Shouldn’t I have a fake name since you are kidnapping me?” I questioned, keeping my chin high not to seem scared and to try to gain respect by pointing out his mistake.

A brief release of air left his lungs from what seemed to be amusement.

“Kidnapping, you say?” he asked me, and I could tell he felt hurt by my choice of word.

Why did I get the feeling that his good and bad demons struggled to remain under control, a ticking bomb of emotions that could explode at any second?

“Aye, kidnapping, I say.” I verified with a stern pirate-like voice that I had learned from Vic’s storytelling.

“I would never…you are free to go if you please,” he declared, pointing at the garage door.

I looked at the solid door and realised I would have to bring out my big boots to be able to push it open. As my hand gripped firmly around the metal handle at the bottom of the door, I saw him squat down and he stared at me with his suffering gaze, which made me fall to my knees in surrender. This time he didn’t touch me.

“I can’t let you go yet,” he whispered regretfully and pointed to a door on the other side of the garage before he himself started to make his way there.

The man’s confusing actions didn’t help make my understanding of the situation any clearer.

“A fake name is pointless. Isaac would never report you as kidnapped because you don’t exist,” he finally answered and without further explanation he opened the door from the garage leading to the hotel’s reception.

There were two young women sitting in the rear room, who came rushing towards us with excited smiles and only had eyes for my mysterious kidnapper.

“Good evening, Tarus. What adventure have you been up to this night?” inquired one, holding on to a key in her right hand.

Unusually, the key was a traditional key instead of the plastic card that hotels normally used nowadays. The second girl stood right behind the other where I could only catch a glimpse of her. When she had come over, I had thought she looked like a Goth. I managed to count up to seven piercings around her ears, mouth and nose alone and she was dressed entirely in black. In the next second, the first woman looked at me and I saw her eyes widen and her smile turn to a sour frown. It didn’t suit her soft face at all. It made her look like a spoilt ‘Daddy’s Girl’, used to getting her own way. Her blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, revealing all her pearl jewellery on both ears and around her neck.

I found it hard to concentrate on the girls’ behaviour, even though it amused me somewhat, because I was excited to finally know my kidnapper’s name. Tarus was his name. Furthermore, it was difficult to determine what relationship he had with the blonde as he gave her a charming glare that made her smile from one ear to the other, as he held his hand up over the till for her to drop the key in it. Was I jealous? No. That was a ridiculous thought. I didn’t know him, yet it felt like he was MY kidnapper. It was he and I. When I looked at him, I surely felt overwhelmed with…something. And it wasn’t he who flirted with the receptionist. He couldn’t help his adorable eyes and my gut instinct made me believe that he really was indifferent towards the woman and simply wanted to claim the key.

Without a word he looked at me for confirmation and we went along a corridor to the lift. He ushered me in with a polite hand gesture and pressed the button for the top floor.

“An old flame?” I asked playfully, not knowing if I was talking outside the boundaries of the social code that existed between us, and hoping again that it would lead to some small talk. Besides, I was probably a little bit jealous, even though I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I had by then concluded that this man was actually trying to help me in some twisted way since he had made no attempt to hurt me yet. Also, if I trusted my instincts, I could feel an electric tension between us, indicating that we shared deeper feelings.

“No,” he answered sharply, obviously not wanting any intrusions into his personal life.

He looked at me and waited for my reaction to his response and maybe even assurance that I had believed him. I remained quiet until we saw the lift door open. He held out his hand in a gesture to indicate that I should go first. I stepped out and waited for him to catch up. We walked side by side along the carpeted hallway towards a dark-brown wooden door numbered 607, which he opened with the old key and let me go in ahead of him.

“Welcome to my humble abode.”

I wasn’t sure whether this lighter tone was indicative of a change of mood or not. His mood swings had been unsettling so far.

The room was simple, but full of scattered personal items. I got the impression that he wasn’t expecting company.

“How long have you stayed here?” I asked, to open the conversation with something general.

Surely that question couldn’t be offensive.

“Twenty-five years,” he replied shortly.

“But then you must be…”

I trailed off, more because of my mathematical calculations, than through surprise that the answer was in years and not days.

“Older than you assumed? Believe me, don’t worry your pretty head with that calculation,” he said quietly, as he tossed his key onto the mahogany desk beneath the window.

The hotel room was furnished in much the same way as I had seen hotel rooms furnished on TV. However, as for my expectations for this evening – there was only one bed.

“It is true then, you can’t remember anything that happened prior to twenty-nine years ago?” he griped.

I didn’t respond. His question was outrageous. I didn’t even remember what happened last year let alone what happened twenty-nine years ago and besides, I would only have been a baby, so instead of answering his silly question I replied with a counter-question.

“What is it you want me to remember?”

Unexpectedly, he sat quietly for some seconds. Then, all of a sudden, he stood up. He seemed angry again and stormed into the small bathroom without closing the door. Embarrassed, I tried to look the other way and sat down on the edge of the bed with my back to the door. The normally ever-present noise in my ears had resumed after having been absent since the sirens at the institute. The crisps had maintained my concentration, but my bones had become sore again. I hadn’t taken my evening medication and so I retrieved the bag from the chair. Tarus had dumped it there after having carried it from the car.

“How do you suggest we sleep? If we sleep opposite each other I want my head furthest away from the door!” I demanded, trying to sound tough rather than the hostage that I was.

“You need not worry. There is a full moon tonight, so you won’t be able to sleep anyway. I suggest that you continue to take your anticoagulation medication until we meet up with the other members of the Order, and have a soothing bath,” he ordered back irritably, seemingly impatient that he had to tell me how the world best suited me.

But he was right again, or so I thought anyway. I sometimes had trouble sleeping but hadn’t understood until then that it must have been due to the moon, which the stranger had just pointed out. Keep taking my medication? I had never contemplated stopping, wasn’t it vital for me? Vic was the only one who had the authority to prescribe more of the drugs when they ran out and had given me a month’s supply before he left. I hadn’t previously had any idea what effect the drugs had. How would the anticoagulation help my pain? It sounded rather as if it would have the opposite effect.

Before I decided to acknowledge his advice to take a bath, I heard Tarus starting to run the water in the bathtub. His perfect face, followed by his bare torso, appeared from the bathroom doorway as a supernatural being with no reason for improvement. My eyes tried their best to look down at the floor whilst he wiped his hands on his t-shirt as he approached me.

“The bathroom is yours whenever you want,” he gestured, towards the door.

It was impossible to hesitate and it was no use trying to protest. Inside the bathroom he had folded what must have been one of his t-shirts on the toilet lid.

“You can use my toothbr…” growled his half sentence from the bedroom before he came in with a purple toothbrush and placed it on top of the t-shirt before he disappeared again.

My heart felt sore. Purple was my favourite colour. His next gesture was even stranger: a lit candle gleamed on the edge of the bathtub giving a romantic glow. I had seen another tea-light holder on the desk and ran out to retrieve it. With two candles, I could turn the light off and still see clearly.

“May I borrow your lighter?” I asked politely without having to explain myself when he saw that I was holding the candle in my hand.

“No,” he replied briefly as always.

He approached me with his majestic body, where even a quick peek would clearly catch sight of the eight-pack on his sandy toned skin. He stood close enough for me to smell his cologne, arousing my senses. I closed my eyes to inhale his scent and held my breath, not because I wanted to, but because I wasn’t sure I could control myself otherwise. I felt his hot hand against mine when he took the glass holder for the tea-light and our eyes met. I had forgotten his beautiful emerald eyes. Without breaking his gaze, he wrapped his fingers over the wick and at the same moment a flame arose from nowhere. It wasn’t normal, it wasn’t human. Who was he? This explained his burning body heat. This whole evening had been so unreal, so insane that I couldn’t bring myself to be either scared or impressed. I had a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t abandon. We must have shared a special connection. I had to know the truth.

“Who are you…really? Have you and I…I mean…are we special to each other?” I asked earnestly.

I could feel my eyebrows folded down over my eyes into a V-shape in intense concentration. My eyes tried to penetrate even deeper into his. His answer took far too long. His eyes still locked onto mine as time stood still. Not a movement was made, nor a sound.

“No,” he answered after a while, so low that I almost couldn’t hear him. “I am here out of duty to take you home safely, that’s all.”

The sound was like a broken record on repeat, as if that was his programmed answer. He grabbed his phone from the desktop and before I had time to say a word, he left and slammed the door behind him. His mood swings didn’t distress me anymore, but I felt hurt by his answer. I turned to go back into the bathroom but remained next to the door when I heard Tarus’s voice in the corridor. He was speaking softly with someone on the phone. My hearing had improved considerably though since the morning, and I could hear nearly all of the conversation.

“We are at the safe house. When has the Order been summoned for?” he asked.

From his voice, it seemed he was in a hurry to get rid of me.

“Someone needs to release me because I don’t know how long I can be close to her without burning something to the ground.”

His voice was more protective now. It sounded like he wanted to fulfil his duty without mistakes.

“Something isn’t right. She is weak and has forgotten everything that happened twenty-nine years ago and yet my strength has increased since she came near me. I think she must be wearing one of the power stones.”

His voice was confident and it was apparent he was talking to someone he could trust. His superior must either have great power or a lot of money to control a man like Tarus, a man who didn’t seem to take orders from anyone if it wasn’t important.

“No, I haven’t forgotten my duty, Hunter,” he replied irritably and then there was silence.

I hurried into the bathroom and closed the door in case he came back and realised I had overheard.

The bath was relaxing and eased the soreness in my joints. He had been right again. Was there really a part of me that I had forgotten? Who was I and why couldn’t I remember anything?

After the bath, I dressed in Tarus’s black t-shirt. It was way too big and reached my knees. I brushed my teeth thoroughly and combed my fingers through my hair as I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked tired and I freed my hair from my ears in an effort to appear more attractive. Soon I was going to be on the other side of the door, my body near his. I was surprised by my desire towards this stranger. I wanted nothing more than to feel his hot skin against mine. I must pull myself together – I had already been stupid enough to ask about our relationship and got an embarrassing answer. He had confirmed that we didn’t share a romantic relationship.

As I came out of the bathroom, I found Tarus rummaging through my bag.

“What on earth are you doing?” I spat.

In a rage he showed me Vic’s poem and quickly placed it on the desktop so as not to catch fire. My heart started beating faster as I remembered my dear cousin, but I was still furious that Tarus had taken the liberty of going through my belongings.

“What is this?” he fumed, obviously frustrated that I had discovered him. “You have one of the three parts to the map. It has been missing ever since you were brought to Earth. Have you possessed it all this time without saying anything?” he continued furiously, and he hadn’t finished. “You have a power stone as well, don’t you? I know because I can feel it!”

He was yelling now. My despair at his sudden aggression almost destroyed my confidence and my breathing grew quicker until I almost burst into tears.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, that’s a poem I’ve been giv…”

I had to stop myself. Firstly, I hadn’t really been given the poem, it was stolen from Vic’s desk drawer, and secondly, I felt my tears starting. I was dizzy with misery and had to sit down on the bed. This time, with my back to Tarus, staring at the beige wall. I focused all my strength, but the tears trickled like a river down my cheeks. It had been too much to take in one day and I had to cover my hands over my face to hide my ugly cry. Tarus said nothing more and sat down quietly on the opposite side of the bed. I wished I could hear his thoughts, or have eyes in the back of my head to see if he would come up with further attacks. Instead, I felt that he threw something lightweight behind my back. His footsteps approached, but he passed straight by, exiting the room.

“You shouldn’t sit in the moonlight,” he commented briefly and they were the last words I heard before he was out of sight.

The moonlight had found its way through the window and shone on my skin displaying all colours of the rainbow, as if reflected on a calm lake. Why would it be dangerous for me? It was the only thing about me that was beautiful. I wriggled and turned my hands to see how the colours played over my arms, the indigo more dominant than the others this time. I was angry with Tarus too and didn’t want to take his advice.

Then I remembered that he had thrown something behind me, so I turned around to see what it was. It had been too light to be my bag, but too heavy to be the poem. The sight of what it was made my tears return more than ever. It was Novus, my dear purple teddy bear. It was the best consolation I could imagine. It was my beloved friend with the torn left foot and the same black eyes. I knew it should have made me annoyed that I couldn’t remember who had given it to me, but right now it didn’t matter. How Tarus had got hold of it was a mystery as I had left it on my bed. But like everything else, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to hug it and feel the soft fabric on my cheeks.

As I hugged my old friend, I tried to make sense of my feelings for the erratic mister Tarus. He had a hard façade, however he was still caring for me in a peculiar way. Since I had met him, I had felt much stronger and I could think more clearly now than ever. I held the bear’s stomach tightly whilst I stroked the fabric.

He must have punched a hole through the window to my room in order to retrieve the teddy bear. It could have been the reason that his right hand had bloody scratches, but why? Had he really been looking for something else? I couldn’t bring myself to think about the possibilities. If only I could remember. What had happened all those years ago? What was the reason behind this unexplained rescue?

About the Author T.M.Caruana Living in Gibraltar, having earned an MBA and being a member of the ACCA, T. M. Caruana is an author who likes doing too much rather than too little. Apart from consuming too much coffee and chocolates she also enjoys writing complex stories with a vivid imagination, manifesting in new worlds and versatile characters. Having always been a free spirit at heart, her dream had always been to write fantasy novels in which to escape to. Your life is your dream -if you can dream it, you can live it-.

TM CaruanaTwitter | Facebook | InstagramYouTube

Symmetry

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#NewRelease “Promise Me You Won’t Let Me Fall” by Perri Forrest

cover

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CADENCE

Engaged to be married, I thought that I was with my forever. Of course, like any couple, what Percy and I had was far from perfect; but as far as I knew, we were making it work. So, imagine my surprise, when I came home one day, and found him packing up to leave. I was blindsided. I mean, for real blindsided. But what came after that, was the real surprise. Now, that … it sent my world shattering into a million pieces right before my eyes. Shocked by how awful the chips were falling, I needed a moment to relieve some stress.

And that’s how I first met him

YAZID

My main priority was focusing on expanding my brand, and making sure my name rang bells in the places it needed to. It was all about business for me—with pleasure not too far behind. My world was one where women were sport. Sex and not too much more. I definitely wasn’t looking for monogamy, or happily-ever-afters. I’m a firm believer in playing the field, and a strong non-believer in there being a special “one” for me. Truthfully, I don’t believe that a man can find everything he needs in one woman.

But then I came into contact with her

♥•♥•♥     ♥•♥•♥     ♥•♥•♥

On a night of recklessness for Cadence, and a night of what was supposed to be a regular hookup for Yazid, worlds unknowingly collide. It’s fire, it’s magnetic, it’s passion … in the form of a one-night stand … that ends with these strangers going their own separate ways.

But what happens when the universe’s plans override their own, and their lives once again intertwine in the most unexpected way?

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#MiniBlogTour “Intent: In the Shadows” by Krista Wagner

IntentintheShadows

I have the perfect book for you to curl up with while stuck indoors, called Intent: In the Shadows by Krista Wagner!

CoverFinalLG-InTheShadows(1)In the Shadows (Small Town Secrets #1)

Publication Date: December 2018

Genre: YA Suspense/ Thriller

It’s hard to enjoy high school when someone is stalking you. . .

Raylee, a pastor’s daughter, just wants to get through the last two years of high school. But it’s not easy when you’re an outsider. Or when the most popular girl in school’s goal is to make your life miserable.

Or when someone starts to STALK you. . .

When classmate Paul befriends Raylee, she is determined to ignore Crystal’s ploys. And when new student Billy arrives, Raylee finds herself drawn to his mysterious side. But Crystal is determined too, and she will do whatever it takes to keep him from Raylee and to ensure that the rest of Raylee’s high school years remain angst-ridden.

Raylee must cling to her FAITH in God more than ever, because someone lurks in the shadows, watching her, leaving scary clues, someone who wants to set her on edge. But why? Is it Crystal and her clique, or worse, someone she trusts?

*Book #1 is a clean mystery suspense appropriate for young adult and up.

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Excerpt

It was time to play volleyball a few minutes later, and once again, Raylee proved her pitifulness at the game, missing every ball that came her way and messing up every serve. She was glad when the bell rang, anxious to escape her peers.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s just a game,” Katy was saying as they ambled toward chemistry.

“Ha, easy for you to say. You’re good.” Raylee was tugging on her sleeves; the shirt was a size too large, but it was the smallest available.

“I don’t know what I’m worse at, algebra or PE.”

“Algebra. Definitely algebra.”

“Great. Now I feel really stupid.”

“I can help,” a male voice said from behind them.

They both turned around. Billy.

“What?” Raylee asked, feeling her cheeks burn and wishing she could slide into a hidden dimension.

“If you’re struggling with math, I could tutor you after school. I’m pretty good with anything math-related, especially algebra.”

Her mouth dropped open, an attempt to speak. Nothing came out. That dryness in her mouth was filling with unused saliva.

“Thank you, Billy. I’ll have to call my parents, but I should be able to meet you in the library.”

“Sure.”

“Thanks a lot!” Raylee said to Katy when he was out of ear shot.

With a giant smile on her face, Katy replied, “You’re welcome.”

Her last class was impossible. She couldn’t concentrate on anything except Billy. She was getting sick of herself, it was ridiculous. This was what it must feel like to be lovesick. She’d always made fun of those romantic movies because the girls swooned over cute guys. She’d vowed to never be like one of those girls. And somehow, she’d become one of them.

Get a grip, Raylee. Get a grip.

The last bell of the day finally rang. Students scurried out to the parking lot. Raylee hurried to the front office to check with her parents about going to the library. Her mom answered and told her to go ahead. Raylee stopped by her locker to grab her math text and a notebook, hesitating for several minutes before she could bring herself to touch the metal door. Her skin crawled, remembering the horrific-looking rubber mask and the live worms forcing their way through it.

Slowly blowing out air, her heart hanging in the balance, she swung open the door really fast and hopped back a foot. All that was inside were her books and folders. No mask. No worms.

Her heart calming down, she snatched her math materials.

The library was located at the back of the school. She had to pass several classrooms to get there. Most of the lights had been turned down since teachers were already heading home.

As she neared the sharp corner that led to the main hallway of the library, a shadow, tall and misshapen, wobbled against the wall in front of her.

She halted.

The shadow stopped.

She took one quiet step back, locking her eyes on the twisted shape. The shadow moved toward her, one small step. Whoever it was was mimicking her.

She didn’t want to be afraid, but the feeling that someone was out to get her was overpowering.

She waited in the hall, hoping for the shadow to move, but it seemed to be waiting on her.

In the movies, the victims always asked, “Who’s there?” She wasn’t about to fall into that trap, which almost always ended up deadly.

Of course, they were in a school, there must be people close by, at least someone studying in the library. Whoever this was would be a fool to try something out in the open like this. That fact didn’t keep her from feeling cautious.

Willing herself to not let fear paralyze her, she took one stiff step forward. The shadow moved backwards this time. She took a second step. The arms of the dark obscure shape wiggled (like a worm) and she heard footsteps echoing down the hall.

Hoping to catch who it was, she pushed herself forward, breaking into a run, but by the time she rounded the corner, there was no one in sight, the door to the library open, a few students quietly studying, their heads down, oblivious to any strange sighting of a shrouded figure playing hide-and-seek.

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About the Author

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Krista Wagner has been creating stories since she was seven and is best known for her mystery and suspense novels. Back in the 90’s, she was on her high school literary magazine staff, and she also co-authored a zine, a montage devoted to the creativity of multiple teenagers. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in several literary publications. She wrote her first novel at the age of 14, but it wasn’t until her thirties that she published her first book. Krista reaches into those chasms of darkness, dealing with themes of betrayal and deception and hope, with intriguing characters and intense story lines. All her books are for young adult and up.

“Dealing with danger and handing out hope” Krista Wagner, author of mysteries, thrills, and all that is real

Find out more about Krista here: https://www.kristawagnerauthor.com/
Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/kristawagnerofficial/

Mini Tour Schedule

February 22nd

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

February 23rd

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

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February 25th

@geauxgetlit (Review) https://www.instagram.com/geauxgetlit/

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://tsarinapress.com/blog/

February 26th

Bonnie Reads and Writes (Review) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

 

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#PreOrder “A Country Temptation: A BWWM Western Romance Limited Edition Collection”

cover

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A Country Temptation is a limited edition of BWWM western romances that will rope you in and never let you go.

Come ride away with these sexy cowboys. The stories in this compilation are swoon-worthy reads that will leave your heart thumping. This collection of tales has something for everyone, from sweet and sassy, to dark and tempting.

Don’t be afraid to fall for these heroes. Lots of fresh air, open country skies with plenty of cowboys—er, horses—to ride.

The stories in the compilation are exclusive and can’t be found anywhere else. Don’t wait, this box set will only be available for a limited time before it is gone forever!

Note: This collection contains material for mature readers (18+ and older) only.

Authors featured:
Peyton Banks
Sade Rena
Sedona Velez
ML Preston
Reana Malori
J. Michelle
Jade Royal
Julia Bright
Author L Loren
Abigail Davies

Releases March 30, 2021

PreOrder Price – 99c USD!

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