Monday, August 3, 2015

Desecrated Beauty by Kyleigh Castronaro






Desecrated Beauty
Twisted Fairy Tales
Book One
Kyleigh Castronaro

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: July 6th

Number of pages: approx. 180
Word Count: 58,883

Cover Artist: Kyleigh Castronaro

Book Description:

Once upon a time, that’s how most of these stories start. But this isn’t one of those stories… Sure, it has the heroine and the hero but they’re not as you would expect them. Both of them have a bloodlust, one different from the other.

Quill was born and raised as a cold killer who takes enjoyment from the kill. Nero is the son of a Viking and a 1500-year-old vampire whose never been denied his pleasures before.

Until he meets Quill. He forces her to exchange her life for Rose’s, his indentured servant and Quill’s little sister. Drawn by her fearlessness and strength he has to have her but such a woman cannot be possessed. Both must learn to give up their carefully afforded control to let the other in. Only then may they have their happily forever after.

Sink your teeth into this dystopic re-telling of Beauty and the Beast and satiate your booklust.


Excerpt 2:


She moved through the crowd, following the Lieutenants with her eyes to ensure they didn’t go anywhere as she crossed to them. Nearly there, she stepped through two bodies and almost collided right into someone’s chest. She stumbled back, her face screwing up into a glower.

“Excuse me.” She said sharply, turning herself to try and go past him, but he only stepped back in her way.

“I saw how you play pool…”

“Listen.” She said, looking up at him finally and stopping short for a moment. He was gorgeous. Easily the best looking guy she’d ever seen in all the guys she’d ever seen - and she’d been around a lot of guys. His jaw was chiseled so sharply under smooth alabaster skin, full rosy lips that seemed to pucker naturally and his eyes were so deep she felt like she was falling to the bottom of an ocean. His hair was brown, maybe even black it was so dark, and hung longer in the front than some guys felt comfortable wearing it, but it suited him so much.

He seemed to wait, patiently listening for whatever she was going to attempt to tell him but her brain had completely stalled and she’d forgotten where the clutch was.

“Listen?” He prompted, raising an eyebrow to silently ask her to continue.

“Yeah. Listen…” She wasn’t nearly as cold and to the point as she had been before. “I’m here on business…” The words were sticky on her tongue and it took way too much effort to get them out. Slow to start but once they started to come back she shook herself from her reverie. This was ridiculous why was she fawning over this stranger?

“I’m here on business and whatever lame pick up line you were going to attempt on me I’m not interested. So you need to fuck off because I’m busy.”

“Well, that’s rude.” He said with bemusement as she peered around him, noting that the Lieutenants were getting up and getting ready to leave.

“Maybe but it’s also presumptuous of you to come over here and make some cringe-worthy statement about how I’m so good with balls and I’m welcome to play with yours.”

“And who said I was going to let you anywhere near my balls? Do I look like I have a death wish?” 

Her eyes finally flicked back to him, somewhat taken aback that he wasn’t coming on to her. That was arrogant of her and she felt foolish for thinking it immediately but then one look in those eyes and she didn’t care.

“No…” She said dreamily, another frown forming in the middle of her forehead. “I have to go…” She protested weakly.

“Mmm, I’m sure you do.”

“I do.” She insisted, tearing her eyes painfully away from him. The Lieutenants were getting away. 

“Now get the hell out of my way.” She tried to shoulder him out of the way, but it was like slamming her shoulder into a rock. Her body ached from the force she exerted and the minimal reward she’d gotten. She glanced up at him once more, imagining for a moment the state of his body underneath those clothes for him to be so hard.

About the Author:

Kyleigh Castronaro is the author of the debut series Grace of Gods. She is a self-published author who tackles many of her projects entirely on her own. She designed the cover of her first novel, self-edited and prepared all formats of the book for publication. Originally from Milton, Ontario, she currently lives in Nottingham, England with her husband and their adorable miniature dachshund Hera.

When not writing Kyleigh enjoys spiritual development, crafting, travelling, spending time in nature, going to the movies, cooking and baking (and then eating), working on self-improvement and spending time with friends and family.






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Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's August- Your Know What That Means? Time to Plan for Halloween!!!

It's August? Already??? I guess I better start planning my Halloween costumes and schedule.

October is a month long Halloween event for me, Zombie Walk, Witches Ball, Halloween itself...

I am working on some kind of dragon costume for the Witches Ball this year- the theme is Magic and Mayhem.

Not sure what the kids want to dress up as this year. I guess I better have them look at www.PureCostumes.com. I shop at Pure Costumes every year for costumes and accessories for the entire family. 

Halloween is on a Saturday this year- my daughter wants to create a haunted trail in the back yard with the possibility of a party...will need accessories and decorations for all that. Definitely need to start planning early.

So costumes, haunted house/trail ideas and decor, creative food and drinks, party possibilities...

At least I have this book on hand for fun drink and dessert ideas-

Bewitching Brews and Devilish Desserts 
A Collection of Cocktail and Dessert Recipes 

By Bewitching Book Tours' Authors
Roxanne Rhoads, Sharon Baylis, Ami Blackwelder, Cassandra Lawson, Susannah Sandlin, Cherrie Mack, Maggie Mundy, Suzanne Johnson, Katalina Leon, Kay Dee Royal, Sophie Avett, Elizabeth Loraine, G.L. Ross, T.W. Kirchner 

Book Description:

Stir up a little magic from our cauldron full of cocktails and desserts.

The authors of Bewitching Book Tours conjured a collection of delicious potions inspired by their books and characters.

Grab your wand (or spoon) and cast one of these spellbinding recipes today.


Available at Createspace and Amazon




Friday, July 31, 2015

Top Ten Witches in Movies and TV with Lola James





1. Hocus Pocus (This is my all-time favorite Witch movie… Ever)

2. The Craft (I wish I could hang with this crowd in High School)

3. Practical Magic (I LOVE this movie… Best Sandy Bullock role)

4. Harry Potter (all but if I have to choose one The Half-Blood Prince)

5. Maleficent (Angie was a badass with a heart)

6. Charmed (Loved these sisters)

7. Bewitched (I tried to twitch my nose)

8. The Secret Circle (I was sad when this show wasn’t picked up for season 2!!!)

9. Sabrina the Teenage Witch (I wish my cat was talked)


10. True Blood (The season with the badass Witches)




The Spellbound Series
Books 1-5
Lola James

Book Description:

The journey of a spellbound woman, her friends, and the men who vie for her affections as she falls headlong into a world of vampires, witches and Greek gods.

Who will she choose as her one true love and how many lives will be turned upside down in her quest to fulfill her eternal destiny?

Friends become enemies and enemies become deadly as each seek to find the one thing that will bring true fulfillment.





Available at Amazon

Excerpts:

Bound to Remember, Book One

“Hello.” I held out my hand. “I'm Doctor Toni Hollander, but you can call me Toni.”
He stared at me as if he was looking right though me, ignoring my extended hand. A wave of embarrassment washed over me and I pulled my hand back. Maybe I imagined that stare thing with him a minute ago. My thoughts retreated to Kevin. He had only been the last in a long line of failed relationships and I was starting to wonder if my terrible taste in men had struck again.
"Where are my manners? I am Benjamin, but you may call me Ben" He pulled my hand into his, with a toothy grin.

Unbound, Book Two

Hades closed the space between us. “I will return soon, my sweet.” He took my hand, kissing my fingertips, before releasing it. Then the three gods and Dawn disappeared.
Ben and I stood alone in the hallway as I moved closer to him. The lust from our kiss still lingered thick between us.
“Ben . . . I—”
“Shhh.” His finger touched my lips, stopping my rambling. “We have only a short time, and I need to plead my case to you; so let me show, rather than tell you why it should be me you pick for eternity.”

Bound to You, Book Three

“I’ve missed you already. I don’t know how I survived without you for so long.” His warm lips kissed the top of my hand. If my cheeks could blush, they’d be the darkest shade of red.
I had to clear my throat and shake my head from the swoon-worthy trance Hades had me in. “I’d like to have my place back, but Ben compelled my landlord to get me out of my lease.”
His lips trailed to my finger, then fingertips, creating sensations throughout my body. “My Antonia, I want nothing more than to fulfill every desire in your heart. It’s such a beautiful heart. I know that you love me, and that you will make your decision when you are ready. I can wait. I’ve waited so long for you, and I’d continue to wait an eternity to be with you.”
Imaginary butterflies fluttered in my stomach and I felt my heart slipping into his hands. I knew his words were true; he would wait.

Bound by Fate, Short

“I have something for you.” It was the same line she sang every time. Her voice was the perfect pitch to allure any human and I felt my body being pulled toward her. I wouldn’t even greet her anymore when she came; I tried to block her out.
“Benjamin, I have something for you.” I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to possibly see Toni. She’d promised me that I could see her one day—to see if she was truly happy; so I gave in each time and went to Aphrodite. I always waited here for her to arrive, for she had me at her beck and call.

Abound Christmas, Short

Snow was falling and I heard her charming giggle. The sound enchanted me. I looked down and I was holding her mittened hand in mine.
“I love you, Benjamin,” she said. I looked carefully, trying to make out her face, but caught only her profile bundled under a furry hood and scarf. I glanced around, noting that we were in a carriage riding through Central Park, passing snow-covered trees.

Witch Bound, Book Four

My melancholy thoughts broke as I heard my name being called—I wasn’t paying attention to details anymore. I hadn’t left the building in the last 24 hours and I was exhausted. The sounds of the hospital continually echoed in the fog of my thoughts. I played Doctor Stevens’ words in my head on repeat, but the memory of Hermes’ first touch in Hades’ temple still sent chills down my back. My daddy taught me better than to fiddle between boys. “Always pick the man, Dawn,” he would say. Thinking of my daddy reminded me that I needed to call him. I could only avoid his calls for so long.

Rebound, Book Five

“Does beauty run in your family as well?” A nervous chuckle escaped me. What a cheesy pickup line.
“You’re nervous, aren’t you?” she asked, batting her eyelashes and making sweat swell on my forehead.
“Yes.” I nodded. Why was I being so honest? I cleared my throat. “I’m Ben, by the way.” I extended my hand.
She looked at me then my hand before gently wrapping hers in mine.
“And I am Thalia.” The warmth of her hand made everyone on the train disappear.

About the Author:

Lola is a fool for a love story, a sucker for a cupcake, and let’s not talk about what she’d do for a Klondike bar. She enjoys long walks on the beach and movies that involve chainsaws. By day she’s the HR Lady and by nightfall she puts on a cape to become a romance writer.








Instagram: authorlolajames


The Fate Series Blog: http://thefateseries.blogspot.com/

The Spellbound Series Blog: http://spellboundseries.blogspot.com/




Guest Blog and Giveaway with Jay Falconer Author of the Emily Heart Time Jumper Series




From the Journal of Emily Heart, the Glassford Girl

How to Survive a Time Jump

Living on the streets as a time jumper doesn’t have to be torture if you remember to always keep your cool, plan each move carefully, and trust your logic. The first instinct is to run, but don’t. That’ll only draw attention to yourself. If you’re not in immediate danger, then stop, look, listen, and most of all, think!

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Especially for a newbie. A zillion things can go wrong, but if you can stay calm and focus, it’ll keep you alive. That usually means starting with a chill pill, because a major panic attack will only make the situation worse. I know, ladies. That was me when I first started. I was such a complete spaz. It’s so embarrassing now that I think back on it.

It’s also important to memorize my simple Post Jump To Do List and put it into action as soon as you land: clothes, food, and shelter. In that order. Remember, only living cells can be transported across time and space, so you won’t be able to take any clothes or supplies with you when you jump.

You can’t plan ahead and build a stash either. Time jumps can take you months or even years ahead, and you’ll usually come out in some other part of the city. By the time you get back to your stuff, it won’t be there. So don’t bother. It’s a giant waste of time. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that homeless people develop a special kind of uber radar for finding things. Trust me, they WILL find your stash. No matter where you hide it. And you can forget about keeping your bling safe.
I know this all sounds insane, but eventually you’ll learn to fly by the seat of your pants, even though you won’t have any.

A sense of humor helps, too, since everyone’s gonna notice you’re not wearing any clothes after a jump. Forget modesty, too. Focus on survival and ignore everything else.

I still remember the first time I jumped. I came out in the burning hot parking lot of a huge shopping center in Phoenix with a curious rent a cop standing over me. The mall guard turned out to be a really nice guy and helped me a lot, but still. You never know who’s gonna be around. Being naked in public takes some getting used to; however, once you do, it serves as quite the distraction for eye witnesses when they try to tell their story to the cops. After all, who remembers a girl’s face when she’d naked?

But you need to realize up front, this won’t be easy. Everywhere you turn, there will be creepers. Always gawking. Pointing. Drooling. Totally grosses me out, but what’s a girl to do? Eventually, you’ll get used to it, just like I did. There’s nothing you can do about it, so just deal and move on.
Being naked is the most natural thing there is, though it can wreak havoc on your feet, especially in the city. OMG, what I wouldn’t give for a pedicure and a foot massage. Some nail polish would be nice, too, and some makeup, but that’s a whole other story.

Truth is, I never liked my Sasquatch feet anyway, but now that I’m a veteran time jumper, they’re even more hideous. Ugly feet run in my family and my mom’s were the worst. I guess that’s why they invented shoes—to cover up the nasty.

Which reminds me, the worst part about time jumping is not having socks. My feet are always cold when I come out of a jump, no matter where I end up and believe me, you can end up anywhere. Been there, done that if you know what I mean.

One time I came out of a jump and found myself face to face with a pissed off orangutan at the Phoenix Zoo. He snarled at me with his big, ugly face, and then threw crap at me—literally—and it stuck in my hair!

IN MY HAIR!

Yuck!

Granted, my hair is always a hot mess and I would gladly trade a kidney for a good hairbrush, but come on, really? Poop in your hair? Do you know how hard it is to get that @#^! out when you’re homeless?

And the smell! You know what I’m talking about—that funky jungle stink that seems to take on a life of its own. Makes me want to hurl just thinking about it.

So let this be a warning. If you come out of a jump and find yourself staring at a giant primate armed with a handful of smelly stuff, remember to DUCK! 

Then run!

There aren’t exactly bathtubs for the homeless on every street corner, so avoid the zoo at all costs. Oh, and stay away from police stations, too. Cops don’t have a sense of humor when it comes to girls running around in public in their birthday suit.

Anyway, always being cold after a jump is something you must be prepared for when you first arrive somewhere. I think it has something to do with the compression of space-time through a quantum fold, at least that’s what I read in a physics book at the public library couple months back. There’s no heat when you’re transported through time, so my poor little piggy’s always come out as ice cubes when I wake up. Even in the middle of the blistering hot summers in Phoenix. Luckily, it passes quickly and so does the nausea, so just give it time.

Homeless shelters are where most rookies head for when they first arrive. Don’t. Those people are impossible to deal with. There’s too much competition for an already sucky selection of clothes, and the people that run the place ask WAY too many questions. I’ll pass, thank you very much.

Instead, I look for the nearest church. Especially if it’s St. Bob’s or whatever. Catholics are the best people to hit up for free stuff. They’re always looking to help someone out, like it’s their religion or something. Go figure. But they usually have boxes and boxes of nice stuff sitting around, and they’re just waiting to give it all away. Free stuff is like gold—never pass it up.

When you get there, grab a few things that fit and don’t worry about fashion. If it’s warm and doesn’t smell like orangutan (if you know what I mean) —be thankful. I don’t recommend carrying a suitcase around ‘cause it screams HOMELESS GIRL. Actually, it screams DUMB HOMELESS GIRL. It’s like walking around with a great big sign that says COME HURT ME.

The streets are filled with evil around every corner, so there’s no reason to go out of your way to attract it. Be smart. Stay off the radar. Layer on a few outfits and get moving. Don’t hang around any longer than necessary because even the nice church people will eventually get nosey.

It seems like everyone wants to help the poor homeless girl—always trying to fix you or change your life. Little do they know, time jumpers can’t be fixed and we don’t need help! We’re just fine the way we are. Once you’re dressed, get out as fast as you can and don’t forget a good pair of shoes and socks for the road. Comfort over style is one of my rules, and I have many rules I live by. But I’ll save that list for another time.

Once you’ve covered all your goodies with some clothes, it’s time to think about food and water.
Water is easy—faucets are everywhere in the city, so keep your eyes open and head down. When you pass a trash can, dig around and see if you can find something to use as a water bottle. People always throw them away, so it shouldn’t take long to find something useful. Keep it filled every chance you get. Just be sure to wash it out good the first time. Oh, and never, and I mean never, share it with the old homeless man who reminds you of your grandpa. Can you say backwash?

Food is a little tougher.

My favorite place—a Mexican food restaurant.

They put so much food on a plate for everyone, there’s plenty of leftovers that get thrown away. A quick trip around back and you can usually score a fresh meal from the dumpster, assuming you don’t mind sharing it with a bunch of hungry fly’s.

Enchiladas are my fave, but I don’t recommend the beans. Being homeless with bad case of gas—and I’m talking about kill a horse kind of gas—won’t earn you any brownie points with the normals. 
Eventually you’ll need help from one of them, so try not to offend their sense of smell.

Special Emily Tip: If you happen to stumble across some unused wet-naps in the dumpster, snag ‘em. You can trade them for almost anything.

Way back in the early days, finding a specific kind of restaurant was easy. I’d just find the nearest phone booth, grab the yellow pages and turn to the restaurant section. Now that cell phones are all the rage, it’s almost impossible to find a pay phone anymore—let along yellow pages.

Since I don’t recommend talking to anyone or asking for directions, that leaves you with two options: wandering around like a crazy person, or using the Internet. Public libraries are the best choice for getting online, especially if you’re a skilled, ninja chick like me. It didn’t take me long to learn how to sneak past the old Nazi lady at the front desk.

How?

Let’s just say, this girl has skills. J

In an upcoming entry, I’ll show you seven handy tricks for sneaking into places using my famous stealth moves. For now, just find a group of chatty Kathy’s and slip inside with them. That usually works.

Once you’re past the entrance, you’ll need to head to the back and sweet talk the tech guy. Every girl should already know how to do that, so I won’t go into detail. LOL. Boys as soooo predictable—and gullible. Soon you’ll be using a computer station without a library card any time you want. Just use your imagination, girls. That’s all I’m gonna say. Wink. Wink.

One last tip before I end this journal entry.

Most people don’t realize this, but good luck trying to prove your identity when you’re a homeless time jumper who doesn’t age and can’t bring anything along when the blue fire comes. I’ve been traveling for thirty years now and my records are long gone. Yours will be, too. Anonymity is both your friend and your foe. So be prepared to deal with it. You won’t be able to get a job or stay in a motel like a normal person without proper ID, so you’ll have to get creative if you need cash or a place to stay.

That’s it for now. Next time, I’ll show you how to find shelter and hunker down for the night. Like they say, it’s all about location, location, location.

Remember, street urchins are everywhere, so stay safe and stay strong!
And never, ever give up!


—Emily Heart


Glassford Girl Boxed Set: Parts 1 and 2
Emily Heart Time Jumper Series
Jay J. Falconer

Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Paranormal / Young Adult

Publisher: Bear Down Publishing

Date of Publication: 4-10-2015

ISBN: 978-1508985815
ASIN: B00VXYTS2S

Number of pages: 430

Book Description:

Teleportation. Telepathy. Superior strength and speed. Abilities she never wanted. Abilities she must learn to control.

Emily Heart used to have a normal life. A life filled with family, friends, and a warm bed to sleep in. But that was before the night of The Taking. The night when she was abducted and genetically transformed against her will.

Now she's lost everything and living on the streets of Glassford Park, struggling to stay alive one more day. But it won’t be easy. Not when a gang wants to kill her, cops want to arrest her, and a reporter wants to expose her.

However, Emily’s problems don’t end there. Any uncontrolled burst of emotion can send her jumping randomly across time and space, arriving naked and alone. If she's not careful, she could travel to infinity and beyond, never to be heard from again.

Emily doesn't quite know what she is, or what she's capable of, but she knows what she can't afford to do -- feel anything.

And she can’t afford to make any mistakes.


Available at Amazon


Chapter 1:
August 11, 2013
1:16 a.m.

Emily Heart pushed through the burning pain in her chest and thigh muscles, convincing her legs to run faster. She dodged a park bench before jumping over a homeless man lying under a pile of cardboard.
Her mind’s eye could see the gunman aiming his sights at the back of her head and squeezing the trigger, sending the bullet out of the barrel and downrange with supersonic intent. She leaned to the left, letting the round whiz past her fifteen-year-old body. It took out the headlight of a cement truck parked across the street near the alley behind Glassford Street.
The flickering specks of blue light were fading in her vision. It wouldn’t be long before she turned normal again. She would then be unable to see through the gunman’s eyes, or sense the cold blackness of hate she could sense in his heart.
She bent forward at the waist, using a low-profile running pattern, hoping she’d make it safely to the alley. She ran through the grass at the edge of the park, over the sidewalk and hit the asphalt, racing across the empty lanes of the street.
More gunshots rang out, one after another in quick succession. She couldn’t see where the bullets were headed, telling her the link with the shooter was broken. Bricks and mortar exploded all around her as the hailstorm of rounds missed her. They hit the side wall of an old warehouse covered in spray paint and gang signs. She turned right, just before the cement truck, and ran down the alley.
“Don’t lose me!” she yelled at Junie, who was sprinting in front of her, a book bag bouncing on the back of her rail-thin body. Emily was falling behind, unable to keep up with the speed and endurance of her twelve-year-old friend from the homeless shelter.
A minute later, she heard another round of weapons fire erupt as she was nearing the far end of the block-long corridor, plinking and ricocheting off the walls around her. She felt the wisp of a bullet fly through strands of her flowing red hair. It took out the painted window on the wall ahead of her, shattering it into a million shards of colored glass.
She looked back and saw the gang leader standing at the entrance to the alley, changing the magazine in his weapon. His crew came running into view, just catching up to him.
She made the corner and ran further down the passageway, which stank of garbage and sewage. She hurdled a pothole, then flew over a garbage can laying on its side, almost losing her balance in the process. But she managed to keep her feet under her while her shoes pounded the pavement ahead.
Faster, she told herself, faster! She pushed her feet to their tripping point, trying to draw more blood and oxygen than her teenage body could deliver. Her legs wanted to quit—so did her lungs—but she wouldn’t let them.
She pressed on, looking ahead, trying to spot Junie, but she couldn’t see her anymore. She turned another corner and saw a scrawny, dirt-covered leg sticking out from behind a pile of stained mattresses leaning against the wall. She ducked in and grabbed her friend by the shoulder, dragging her eighty-pound frame forward.
“Run, baby, run! Don’t stop! One more corner and we’re there! It’s on the left!”
Emily had learned over the past two years of living on the streets of Phoenix that the blistering summers were endless and miserable, and so were the nights, keeping most of the normal people indoors. She knew that nobody was watching, and nobody cared. There would be no rescue. Not at this time of night, and not in this part of town. It was up to her to get Junie to safety before the shooter and his crew killed her.
She felt a familiar tingle start to grow at the base of her spine when she turned the last corner. “Oh, no! Not now! Not again!” she cried, trying to steady her nerves as she caught up to Junie, who was squeezing her skinny body behind the dumpster.
She couldn’t let it happen. Not so soon. She’d barely recovered from the last time. She needed to focus all her attention on Junie, and let the balance of her emotions run dry. It had only been four days since she’d met her fiery companion in the homeless shelter, but she felt a strong connection with this girl, even though she barely knew her. She didn’t know why, but something inside of her told her to protect Junie. She was important somehow, not just another homeless girl with a deadbeat mother nobody cared about.
She followed Junie behind the garbage bin and into the hidden doorway; darkness engulfed them. “Down the stairs. And stay quiet,” she told Junie in a whisper, locking the door behind her.
“But I can’t see.”
“Go slow and use the handrails. There are twelve steps. Count ‘em as you go.”
They made it down the steps and through another doorway that led into a basement storeroom. It was piled high with junk and old restaurant equipment that had been mothballed by the owner. Emily knew this place well, spending at least one night a week there in recent months. It was her secret hiding place where she could escape the insanity of the city.
An emergency exit sign hung over the inside of the door that she’d just entered, showering an eerie redness over the scene. On the wall to the left stood another door. It led to a flight of stairs that rose up to the kitchen of a high-end Italian restaurant. Emily had made friends with the eighteen-year-old busboy, Parker, who was also a volunteer at one of the local shelters. When he was the last one to leave for the night, he’d push the red dumpster close to the door as a signal to Emily that the door was unlocked and she was welcome. She’d swoop in around midnight, and lock the door behind her.
“Over here,” Emily said, gesturing to a huge metal cabinet with rusty hinges that was standing next to a stack of Styrofoam coolers. “I think we lost them.”
Junie’s chest heaved in and out as it worked to recharge her lungs after the long run. “How do you know?”
“I can’t feel them anymore,” Emily replied, equally as winded.
Emily quickly opened the white cooler sitting on top and put her hand inside, pulling out a cellophane-wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana. As usual, Parker had left the food for her in the top cooler with a chilled Pepsi acting as ice to keep the contents from spoiling until she arrived. She tore the cellophane off, split the bread down the middle, and gave half of it to Junie.
“Here, eat while you can,” she said, before stuffing the sandwich into her mouth, chewing it with abandon.
Junie did the same, smiling, with peanut butter stuck to her teeth. “Sea food,” she said with her mouth full.
Emily laughed. “We have a banana for dessert.”
She popped the Pepsi open and waited to see if the contents would bubble up. It did. She sucked the cola off the top of the can until the carbonation settled down, then gave the soda to her friend.
Junie guzzled several swigs before giving it back to her. Emily swished the can around in a circle to test its volume—only a quarter of the liquid remained. Emily finished her half of the sandwich, then washed it down with the last bit of Pepsi.
They plopped down against the wall beside the cabinet. Junie wrapped her arms around her knees, keeping the dual-strap backpack sandwiched between her thighs and flat chest.
“Junie, that’s not yours. Where did you get it?”
“I—” Junie hesitated. “I took it.”
Emily sighed, feeling disappointment spread across her body. “What’s in it?”
She shrugged. “I snatched it from those boys right before you showed up.”
“Lemme see.”
Junie gave her the backpack.
Emily unzipped it and peered inside. “Uh-oh,” Emily groaned. “We’re in big trouble.”
She tipped it to the side and opened it wide so Junie could see the money inside. Lots of it. Bundles and bundles of wrinkled $100 bills, each wrapped with a blue rubber band and slip of notepaper with a four-digit number written on it.

* * *

Outside, the group of West Side Locos that had been pursuing the two street girls were becoming agitated. Their leader, Flaco, was more than agitated: he was pissed. The chase had taken them several blocks outside of their home turf and into enemy territory. He knew it was only a matter of time before a member of the Glassford Gatos noticed their trespass. His crew was light, no match for a full-out fight with a two-dozen-strong gang.
The crew stood in a loose bunch on the sidewalk at the far end of the alley where the girls had disappeared. Flaco was sure that the girls couldn’t have made it all the way to the end before his crew rounded the corner. They must be hiding in the alley somewhere.
“Where’d they go?” he yelled at his lieutenant, Nesto, shoving him against the wall, his gun pointed up under his chin. “El stupido! You let that street chica snatch the buy money?”
Nesto shoved him back, hard.
“Get the fuck off me!” he yelled. “I didn’t do anything. She was already there. It was your dumb-ass idea to set up the buy at the rec center. Back the fuck up.”
Flaco backed away, lowering his gun. He looked down the alley, the way they had come.
“Okay. They have to be in this alley somewhere. No way they made it all the way through here before us. Split up. You two, this side; you two, that side,” he said, gesturing down the alley. “Search everywhere. Garbage cans, dumpsters, everything. We gotta get it back. Nesto, go back to the other end and keep eyes. I got this side.”
The crew split up, following his orders.
Flaco knew that if they didn’t find the money, he was a dead man. His uncle would kill him without a second’s remorse. He’d trusted him to make this drop with the Russians—the first really big one since he’d decided to quit high school and join the family business. He paced back and forth, trying to find a way out of the situation. He was about to give up on the search when one of his crew whistled from down the alley. It was the new kid, barely 14 years old. What was his name? Derek? Kid didn’t look Latino, but he swore he’d grown up in Hope Gardens on the West Side. Not that it mattered. His uncle told him to take him along and break him in, so he did. “Do as you’re told, and don’t ask questions” was a phrase that he knew all too well.
The new kid was waving at him to come take a look at something.
Flaco ran down the alley at full speed. “What you got?”
“Doorway,” Derek replied, pushing the dumpster away from the wall. He pointed at the doorframe where a torn shred of clothing was hanging on a nail. “Check it out. Wasn’t the older girl wearing a blue T-shirt?”
Flaco smiled. “We got ‘em. Good eyes, new boot.”
Flaco heard a cry from Nesto, who was running toward them in a full gallop. “Policía! Policía!”
A police cruiser came screeching to a halt, blocking the alley at the end where they’d originally entered. The cop gave the siren a quick double blast and then called over the loudspeaker.
“You there! Stop where you are! On the ground! Hands behind your head!”
Flaco and his crew took off running in the opposite direction, but another police cruiser with lights flashing and engine roaring skidded into the mouth of the alley, trapping them.
“This way!” Flaco yelled, instantly reversing direction. He ran a few feet, then veered and kicked in the door that the new kid had found. He ran into darkness, not expecting the ground to disappear from under his feet. He yelled as he fell down the void face-first. He bounced and flipped, cracking his head on one of the steps on the way to the bottom.

* * *

Emily’s spine tingled again, deep down at the base, but the tingle was stronger than before. She knew it was coming, and she wasn’t going to be able to stop it this time. The gunshots must have started the countdown. Guns always sent her mind into a blur and her heart racing, charging her body with a rush of uncontrolled emotions that seemed to act as the trigger for the blue light. Gunfire and gangs were two things that she had fought hard to avoid during her time on the streets.
The jump was coming, but she couldn’t leave Junie to fend for herself. She needed to think of something. She usually had seventeen minutes from the first tingle until the blue light consumed her and she’d vanish. The pre-jump process used to proceed like clockwork, but lately it had been different. The lead time was now ten minutes, tops, from the first indicator to the last moment. Barely enough time to find seclusion before it happened. She didn’t understand why the timer suddenly decided to change, it just had.
Now that she had a friend in tow, she couldn’t slip away into the shadows and let it take her. Not with Junie depending on her. This is why you never break the rules, she scolded herself, as she reviewed the list in her head. Her mind highlighted rule number seven in bold—never get involved; nothing good ever comes from it.
Junie was babbling on and on, trying to explain what she was doing on the playground next to the shelter in the middle of the night, and why she’d stolen a backpack from a bunch of West Side Locos.
“I was sitting in my secret place under that little arbor thing, ya know, in the corner by the bathrooms. I was waiting for some drunk to finish his dump and leave so I could wash up. I heard the Locos coming up the walkway through the trees by the picnic tables so I hid. I knew the bag was important because they were arguing about it. Then they all turned their backs and kept yelling at each other. English mostly, but some Spanish sprinkled in. They just left it sitting there on the picnic table. I thought I could sneak up and grab it and get away, then sell whatever was in it. I hate living in that shelter, Em. Too much touching. I don’t like all those hugs, and people wanting to give me a bath all the time. They think they have to help me just because Mom leaves me alone for an hour to go out and get high. Plus it smells like vomit all the time.”
The tingle in Emily’s spine crept up to her shoulder blades, confirming what she already knew—the countdown had started.
“Shhhhh,” she said, covering Junie’s mouth with her hand. “I hear voices outside.”
“Are they coming in?”
“I don’t know. I can’t sense them. The walls must be blocking.”
They listened. There were muffled voices just outside the door, at the top of the stairs where the dumpster had hid their escape route. Emily’s pulse started to pound even more, thumping in her eardrums. The tingly feeling shot up to her neck. She took a deep breath, trying to focus her thoughts away from the ticking bomb inside of her. She had to do something with Junie, and fast. She only had minutes.
“We have to get out of here,” she whispered. “We can sneak out through the upstairs—it’s a restaurant, and they close early. I doubt anyone is there this late, but we’ll probably set off the alarm when we leave.”
“Alarm?”
“Do you remember my friend Parker that I told you about? The busboy?”
She nodded.
“He disabled the sensors on the back door so I can sleep here whenever it’s raining, or when he leaves food out for me. Nobody ever comes down here except him when he takes the trash out, so he leaves food for me whenever his boss leaves early. I never go beyond this basement. That’s our deal. But we don’t have a choice this time. Just stick close and we’ll be fine. If I run, you run. Got it?”
Junie’s eyes widened. She looked scared, but she nodded.
They got up and made their way across the room as shouting rang out from the alley above. They froze. Emily heard a police siren chirp twice, then an amplified voice that sounded like it was coming over a loudspeaker. Shit. Cops. Definitely cops.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
“The Locos are trying to kick the door in!” Junie said.
Thump! Thump! Crack! The door at the top of the stairs to the alley slammed open, and one of the West Siders came tumbling down head over heels. He fell through the door at the bottom and landed on his side in a heap, just inside the entrance of the storeroom. His eyes were closed and his head was bloody. He started to moan.
Junie screamed.
Emily covered her mouth.
“Flaco?” a Latino voice called out from the top of the stairs. “Flaco? You okay?
Emily held a finger to her mouth, reminding Junie to be quiet.
The same voice spoke again. “Send Derek down to check.” A few moments later, footsteps pounded the wooden steps, getting louder with each beat.
“Run!” Emily whispered in Junie’s ear, shoving Junie across the room toward the door that led to the kitchen upstairs. Junie opened the door and ran up the steps. Emily was about to follow her friend, but stopped when she heard another person breathing heavily behind her. Something told her to turn and look at him. It felt like curiosity, but it was more than that.
He was young—too young. Maybe a little younger than she. The red glow of the exit sign made it difficult to be sure, but his spiked hair looked to be jet-black, with triangle sections cut down to the scalp above his ears. His eyes were either blue or green. She hoped blue. Tattoos covered both of his forearms like a sleeve, and a single gold earring hung down below his left ear. She didn’t recognize its unique shape—maybe it was a symbol, or something that he’d made. He was two inches taller than she, with high cheekbones that perfectly offset his narrow, aquiline nose and full lips.
Emily couldn’t help herself. She stared into the eyes of the pretty boy. A thought came unbidden into her mind: he’s way too cute to be part of this.
“Damn girl, you’re smokin’,” he said, with a voice much lower than she had expected. His eyes moved down across her figure, then back up.
She smiled when he made eye contact with her again, sensing that he wasn’t going to shoot. He was calm and quiet on the inside. There was no malice in his thoughts, just a growing feeling of desire that excited her.
He lowered his gun.
She relaxed.
Then a voice came flooding down the stairs, as did more footsteps, breaking the calm. “Derek?”
Derek bolted across the room at her. Emily came to her senses and lashed out with her right foot, just like Master Liu had taught her. The lightning-fast front kick struck him in the groin and he fell back to the doorway and landed on top of Flaco, temporarily blocking access for the rest of their crew.
Emily ran upstairs and shut the door behind her, jamming a metal garbage can under the doorknob to slow the gang down.
Junie stepped out of the shadows in the dimly lit kitchen. She was holding a stainless steel skillet cocked by her ear, ready to brain whoever came up the steps.
“It’s me!” Emily hissed, taking the weapon from her friend. She put it on the counter next to the prep station. “Hurry, out the front. This way.”
She ran past Junie through the double swing doors where the dining room of the elegant restaurant was waiting. Lights from the street cast shadows across the empty chairs, wooden tables, and the bubbling lobster tank. The tables were covered with white tablecloths and folded linen napkins, wineglasses, and elegant cutlery. The floor was spotless and shiny, and there was a fresh scent of pine in the air.
Emily felt a tremor rise up through her body. What had begun as a tingle in her spine was now an overwhelming, full-body sensation. She felt electrified and alive, like she always did right before a jump, meaning that her senses had now been supercharged, allowing her to have visions of the immediate future. Normally, she would use this ability to know where to hide until the jump came and she could disappear. But this time, she couldn’t just use her abilities to protect herself. She had to make sure Junie would be okay before she vanished.
She knew that another thug was about to start kicking at the door to the kitchen behind her, and then bolt through it and find his way into the dining area, where he’d start shooting his machine gun. She could sense his plans, and felt the anger boiling inside his chest. It wasn’t the pretty boy that she’d kicked in the basement. This one was itching to kill.
She waited a few seconds for what she knew would come next. It did—the extra strength that hard-charged her muscles, allowing her to become stronger and faster, but only for a short time. It would fade from her body the moment time began to slow down, which was the last step in the process right before the jump.
She scooped Junie in her arms like a rag doll, ran across the dining room in a flash, and dove over a low wall that separated the foyer from the dining room. Junie sat in a ball, clutching the backpack to her chest, holding onto it for dear life.
“You know they don’t serve peanut butter in a place like this,” Junie mumbled.
“What?”
“My mom used to be a hostess, so I know. Your friend must have brought it from home. I think he likes you.”
She took Junie’s head in her hands and looked her in the eyes. “Listen to me. We don’t have much time. As soon as I’m gone, wait for the glass to break on the front window. Then go through it and run outside. Hide the backpack somewhere safe and go find the cops.”
“Cops? We don’t like cops!”
“This time we do. They’ll protect you. They’re holding back now, but they’ll be here in a few minutes.”
“When do I run, again?”
“After I’m gone, you’ll hear gunfire, but don’t be afraid. The bullets won’t be coming at you. A man will scream, and then glass will break. That’s when you run. After the glass breaks. Got it?”
Junie gulped as tears began to flow, but she seemed to pull it together. She sniffed and nodded. “Thank you, Em.”
“You should use a tablecloth so you don’t get cut,” she said, helping Junie put her backpack on.
“When will I see you again?”
“It might take me a while, but I’ll find you. Now cover your ears, and don’t scream when you hear gunshots. He won’t be aiming at you. Just wait for the glass.”
Emily heard the double doors swing open and smash against the walls on either side of them.
Emily took a breath and steadied herself for what she was about to do. The closer she got to a jump, the more it happened: time got slow and she got fast, but only for about fifteen seconds of her time immediately preceding a jump.
She felt the blue energy rise up through her body, telling her that it was time to act.
She sprang over the wall and ran at the gunman in a cloud of blue. She could see three bullets just leaving his gun, hanging in midair, with smoke trails behind them. She touched the bottom of each bullet with her finger as she zipped past them, then grabbed the wrist on the man’s gun hand and added a twisting force to it.
She turned her attention to the second villain who had been frozen in time, stepping through the double swing doors. There was another man in the kitchen behind him, but she didn’t see the pretty boy, Derek, anywhere. She grabbed the second man’s shoulders and spun him around so that his gun was facing the third man, who was not far behind. She gently touched the trigger finger of the second gunman, then moved to the third Loco and did the same with his trigger finger.
She dashed out of the kitchen and into the dining room, where she applied pressure to the underside of a table built to seat eight people, calculating the trajectory of its flight in her head.
She knelt on the ground, then curled herself into the fetal position and waited for the last second of the countdown to tick by. It did.
The jump pain hit as her body began to sizzle with blue lines of energy, like tiny lightning bolts crisscrossing her skin. A searing bolt of agony shot from the back of her skull to the center of her forehead, just as she was consumed by the blue fire and vanished.

* * *

Junie heard things happen just as Emily had described: first there were three shots of gunfire that tore through the ceiling panels above her, then a man screaming in pain, then more gunshots, then more screaming, then glass breaking, and a second after that, the alarm system began to wail.
She took a deep breath and ran to the front window, seeing a man on his knees holding his wrist, and two bodies a little further back lying on the floor, bleeding from their chests. She snatched a tablecloth, stepped on the wooden chair closest to the broken window, spread the tablecloth over the bottom of the frame, and climbed out. She heard sirens coming from the right, but she decided to go left instead, running as fast as her feet could take her.

About the Author:

Jay J. Falconer is an independent author, publisher, blogger, editor, engineer and Sci-Fi junkie who lives in the mountains of northern Arizona where the brisk, clean air and stunning mountain views inspire his workday. He makes his online home at: www.JayFalconer.com and is an active member author with BookBreeze.com.

Mr. Falconer is the author of the critically acclaimed Narrows of Time Series and The Emily Heart Time Jumper Series, and is currently developing an all new apocalyptic Sci-Fi series called Redfall, The Flames of Tomorrow, due to be released in 2015.

Be sure to watch the video trailer for the Author's Narrows of Time book series by cutting and pasting this link: http://youtu.be/QXic3vkwC1U



Twitter: @JayJFalconer


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