Sunday, October 29, 2017

Subhuman Book Blitz & (INTL) Giveaway of $50 Amazon gift card


Subhuman (Unit 51 #1)
By Michael McBride
Published by: Pinnacle Books
Publication date: October 31st, 2017
Genres: Adult, Horror




THEY ARE NOT HUMAN.
At a research station in Antarctica, five of the world’s top scientists have been brought together to solve one of the greatest mysteries in human history. Their subject, however, is anything but human . . .

THEY ARE NOT NATURAL.
Deep beneath the ice, the submerged ruins of a lost civilization hold the key to the strange mutations that each scientist has encountered across the globe: A misshapen skull in Russia. The grotesque carvings of a lost race in Peru. The mummified remains of a humanoid monstrosity in Egypt . . .

THEY ARE NOT FRIENDLY.
When a series of sound waves trigger the ancient organisms, a new kind of evolution begins. Latching onto a human host—crossbreeding with human DNA—a long-extinct life form is reborn. Its kind has not walked the earth for thousands of years. Its instincts are fiercer, more savage, than any predator alive. And its prey are the scientists who unleashed it, the humans who spawned it, and the tender living flesh on which it feeds . . .



PURCHASE:
AMAZON | B&N | iBOOKS | KOBO



Queen Maud Land, Antarctica
December 30, 1946

Their compasses couldn’t be trusted this close to the pole. All they had were aerial photographs taken six days ago, which were useless in this storm. The wind propelled the snow with such ferocity that they could only raise their eyes from the ground for seconds at a time. They couldn’t see more than five feet in any direction and had tethered themselves to each other for fear of becoming separated. Their only hope was to maintain their course and pray they didn’t overshoot their target, if it was even there at all.
Sergeant Jack Barnett clawed the ice from his eyelashes and nostrils. He’d survived Guadalcanal and Saipan, two of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific campaign, with no more than a few scars to show for it, but no amount of experience could have prepared him for what he’d found down here at the bottom of the world. When his commanding officer assigned him to an elite expeditionary squad, he’d assumed he was being sent back to the South Pacific with the rest of the 2nd Marines. It wasn’t until his briefing aboard the USS Mount Olympus that he learned he’d been drafted for Operation Highjump, whose stated mission was to establish a research base in Antarctica.
His mission, however, was something else entirely.
Jagged black peaks materialized from the storm. He’d studied the aerial reconnaissance and committed the configuration of the Drygalski Mountains to memory. They had to be nearly right on top of the anomaly they’d been dispatched to find.
The Nazis had made no secret of their interest in the South Pole, but it wasn’t until eighteen months ago, when two German U-boats unexpectedly appeared off the shores of Mar del Plata and surrendered to Argentinian authorities that the intelligence community sat up and took notice. All charts, books, and identification papers aboard had been destroyed, and the captains had refused to divulge the nature of their mission to Antarctica, the whereabouts of a jettisoned dinghy, or the reason their passengers were covered with bandages.
The Counterintelligence Corps had been tracking various networks used to smuggle SS officers out of Europe and into South America, but none of those so-called ratlines passed through the Antarctic Circle. During their investigations, however, they’d encountered rumors of a mysterious Base 211 in Queen Maud Land, a veritable fortress commissioned by Hitler in the face of inevitable defeat. They couldn’t dismiss the stories out-of-hand and potentially allow the Nazis to regroup and lick their wounds, so nearly 5,000 men had boarded a squadron of aircraft carriers, destroyers, and icebreakers under the auspices of scientific research and embarked upon a perilous four-month journey through a gauntlet of icebergs and sheet ice. Sorties were launched in every direction in an attempt to reconnoiter the entire continent, upon which, in addition to vast stretches of snow and ice, the cameramen aboard the planes photographed surprising amounts of dry land, open water, and what appeared to be a bunker of German design nestled in the valley ahead of them, which was why Barnett’s squad had parachuted into this frozen wasteland.
The wind screamed and nearly drove Barnett to his knees. The rope connecting him to the others tightened and he caught a fleeting glimpse of several of his men, silhouetted against coal-black cliffs rimed with ice. Barnett shielded his field glasses from the blizzard and strained to follow the course of the ridgeline eastward toward a peak shaped like a shark’s tooth. He followed the sheer escarpment down to where it vanished behind the drifted snow. The ruins of a rectangular radar tower protruded from the accumulation.
Barnett lowered his binoculars, unclipped his line, and unslung his M3 carbine. The semi-automatic assault rifle had been equipped with an infrared spotlight and a special scope that allowed him to see in complete darkness. The Nazis had called the soldiers who wielded them Nachtjaegers, or night-hunters, which struck him as the perfect name as he struck off across the windswept snow, which broke like Styrofoam underfoot.
The twin barrels of a FlaK anti-aircraft turret stood up from the drifted snow, beneath which a convex slab of concrete protruded. Icicles hung from the roof of the horizontal embrasure like fangs, between which Barnett could see only darkness.
He crouched in the lee of the bunker and waited for the others, who were nearly upon him before they separated from the storm. Their white arctic suits would have made it impossible to tell them apart were it not for their armaments. Corporal Buck Jefferson, who’d served with him since the Solomon Islands, wore the triple tanks of his customary M2 flamethrower on his back. They’d rehearsed this scenario so many times that he didn’t need to be told what to do. He stepped out into the open and raised the nozzle.
“Fire in the hole.”
Jefferson switched the igniter, pulled the trigger, and sprayed molten flames through the embrasure. The icicles vaporized and liquid fire spread across the inner concrete floor. Gouts of black smoke churned from the opening.
Barnett nodded to the automatic riflemen, who stood, sighted their M1918 Browning automatic rifles through the gap, and laid down suppressing fire. The moment their magazines were empty they hit the ground in anticipation of blind return fire.
The thunderous report rolled through the valley. Smoke dissipated into the storm. The rifleman cautiously raised their heads.
Barnett waited several seconds longer before sending in the infantrymen, who climbed through the embrasure and vanished into the smoke. He rose and approached the gun slit. The flames had already nearly burned out. The intonation of their footsteps hinted at a space much larger than the unimpressive façade suggested.
He crawled into the fortification, cranked his battery pack, and seated his rifle against his shoulder. The infrared spotlight created a cone of what could only loosely be considered light. Everything within its range and the limitations of the scope appeared in shades of gray, while the periphery remained cloaked in darkness, through which his men moved like specters.
The bunker itself was little more than a storage corridor. Winter gear and camouflage fatigues hung from hooks fashioned from exposed rebar. A rack of Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles stood beside smoldering wooden crates filled with everything from rations to ammunition. Residual puddles of burning gasoline blinded his optics, forcing him to direct his sightline toward walls spattered with what looked like oil.
“Sergeant,” one of his men called.
A haze of smoke collected near the ceiling amid ductwork and pipes that led him into a cavernous space that reflected both natural and manmade architecture. To his left, concrete gave way to bare stone adorned with Nazi flags, golden swastikas and eagles, and all kinds of ornate paraphernalia. Banks of radio equipment crowded the wall to his right. He recognized radar screens, oscilloscopes, and the wheel that controlled the antenna.
“It’s a listening station,” Jefferson said.
There was no power to any of the relay boards. Chairs lay toppled behind desks littered with Morse keys, handsets, and crumpled notes, both handwritten and typed.
“Give me some light,” Barnett said.
He lowered his weapon and snatched the nearest man’s flashlight from him. He didn’t read much German, but he recognized the headings Nur für den Dienstgebrauch and Befehl für das Instellunggehen. These were top-secret documents, and they weren’t even encrypted.
Barnett turned and shined the light deeper into the cavern. The rear wall was plastered with maps, the majority of which were detailed topographical representations of South America and Antarctica, all of them riddled with pins and notes. His beam cast the shadows of his men across bare rock etched with all sort of bizarre and esoteric symbols before settling upon an orifice framed with wooden cribbing, like a mineshaft. Automatic shell casings sparkled from the ground, which was positively covered with what could only have been dried blood.
“Radioman,” he said.
A baby-faced infantryman rushed to his side, the antenna from the SCR-300 transceiver on his back whipping over his shoulder.
“Open a direct line to Rear Admiral Warren. Ears-only.”
A shout and the prattle of gunfire.
Discharge momentarily limned the bend in the tunnel.
Barnett killed his light and again looked through the scope. The others followed his lead and a silent darkness descended.
A scream reverberated from inside the mountain ahead of them.
Barnett advanced in a shooter’s stance. The tunnel wound to his right before opening into another cavern, where his infrared light reflected in shimmering silver from standing fluid. Indistinct shapes stood from it like islands. He placed each footfall gently, silently, and quieted his breathing. He recognized the spotted fur of leopard seals, the distinctive patterns of king penguins, and the ruffled feathers of petrels. All of them gutted and scavenged. The stench struck him a heartbeat before buzzing flies erupted from the carcasses.
He turned away and saw a rifle just like his on the ground. One of his men was sprawled beside it, his boots pointing to the ceiling, his winter gear shredded and covered with blood. Several hunched silhouettes were crouched over his torso and head. They turned as one toward Barnett, who caught a flash of eyeshine and a blur of motion.
His screams echoed into the frozen earth.


Michael McBride was born in Colorado and still resides in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. He hates the snow, but loves the Avalanche. He works with medical radiation, yet somehow managed to produce five children, none of whom, miraculously, have tails, third eyes, or other random mutations. He writes fiction that runs the gamut from thriller (Remains) to horror to science fiction (Vector Borne, Snowblind) . . . and loves every minute of it. He is a two-time winner of the DarkFuse Readers' Choice Award.



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Monday, October 23, 2017

HAVEN Book Blitz & Giveaway of a AMAZON $15 Gift Card



Haven 
Mary Lindsey
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: November 7th, 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult



“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”


Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.


Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.


PURCHASE:



Mary Lindsey is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband.
Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 "pet" Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the "pet" roaches found a home... somewhere else.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review of LILAC LANE by Sherryl Woods

Lilac Lane (Chesapeake Shores #14)
by Sherryl Woods
Published October 17th, 2017 by Mira Books
ISBN 0778331334
Hardcover, 352 pages


No one writes about friends, family, and home better than Sherryl Woods. Told with warmth and humor, Lilac Lane is a brand-new story in her beloved Chesapeake Shores series, one reader all over the world have waited two years to read!


At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancé suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O'Brien's

Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

PURCHASE










REVIEW
Before beginning the actual review I need to be utterly honest with you, I was incapable of finishing this book. This was difficult for me since I always finish books I am obligated to review but apparently there is a first for everything. It’s not that I did not allow myself enough time or forgot about reading it, the truth is I was slowly being bored to death. Lilac Lane is the first book I have read by Sherryl Woods, therefore, I now know her writing is not my style. The plot was lackluster along with a group of one-dimensional characters not containing enough substance to hold my attention. I really did give it the old college try, but when bickering is the primary undertaking how much can a reader take? Although the story did embody one interesting theme it consequently lacked enough focus or time within’ the plot to make it an engaging part of the story. Consequently, if the author had fixated more on Bryan’s ordeal and reduced the squabbling an enjoyable book could have been born.

Nevertheless, just since I found the book incompatible with my liking does not mean you will feel the same. Go ahead and give it a try. I like to think of books like people you're not going to like everyone you encounter.




With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether in her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Sherryl is best known for her ability to creating endearing small town communities and families. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition.




Review tour for LILAC LANE:
Monday, October 16th: The Sassy Bookster – spotlight
Tuesday, October 17th: The Sketchy Reader
Tuesday, October 17th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, October 18th: Stranded in Chaos
Thursday, October 19th: Reading Reality
Thursday, October 19th: Readaholic Zone
Friday, October 20th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot
Monday, October 23rd: Katy’s Library blog and Instagram
Tuesday, October 24th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, October 24th: What is That Book About – spotlight
Wednesday, October 25th:Books and Bindings
Thursday, October 26th: Bookchickdi
Friday, October 27th: View from the Birdhouse
Friday, October 27th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – spotlight
Monday, October 30th: A Holland Reads
Monday, October 30th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, November 1st: Novel Gossip
Thursday, November 2nd: Suzy Approved
Saturday, November 4th: Girl Who Reads
Monday, November 6th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Tuesday, November 7th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, November 8th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Thursday, November 9th: LiteraryJo Reviews blog and Instagram
Friday, November 10th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Monday, November 13th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tuesday, November 14th: The Romance Dish
Tuesday, November 14th: Blogging with A

Thursday, October 5, 2017

THERE BE DEMONS BOOK BLITZ & 25$ AMAZON Giveaway


There Be Demons
M.K. Theodoratus
Publication date: September 26th, 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Suspense, Young Adult

After her father remarries, Britt Kelly’s life becomes a cesspit. She lives in her sister’s two-bedroom tenement apartment with her mother, two brothers, and two young nephews. She starts a new high school where she knows no one. And, even when Britt thinks she’s making friends, the church where she studies in is torn down.
Then, the field commanders of The Demon Wars draft her and her friends to aid the four Gargoyle Guardians who fight the demons invading the city of Trebridge. The fate of the city hangs on Britt’s ability to lead and learn enough self-control to manipulate the natural magic of Grace. Meanwhile, she also needs to decide what to do about Cahal, her chemistry lab partner who is as strong as her and may have interests more than just protecting Trebridge.
“There Be Demons” is a continuation of M. K. Theodoratus’ urban fantasy, “Night for the Gargoyles”. It tells the tale of Gillen and his team of Gargoyle Guardians as they defend Trebridge while teaching Britt and her friends – the untrained “reinforcements. Along the way, Gillen and Britt learn things about each other to make them stronger both together and alone.


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An Unwanted Discovery
Britt Kelly leaned against the jamb between the cramped kitchen and living room of her new home in the projects. I feel like a sardine stuffed in a can.
Her anger churned. If her father hadn’t abandoned his family for his bimbo boss, she’d be back home in her own bedroom, chatting with friends about the new school year. Instead, she was stuck in her older half-sister’s apartment.
Many prized the apartments in St. Edmund's Towers for their size, but Britt refused to see it. She looked at the walls they had painted as a trap. Her mother and sister were sleeping in each family’s respective bedroom. Her two small nephews smeared jam on their faces in the living room as they waited for the cartoons to start. Her two younger brothers, Carlos and Darin, whispered in the bathroom, forgetting their argument over who got the sink first might wake their sleeping mother.
Welcome to another merry day in the projects.
The teen huffed as she waited for her brothers to get ready to sneak away to go see their father uptown. Her thoughts switched to getting revenge on her absentee father. He’d missed his last two court-ordered visits, but she’d get him today, even if her mother forbade them to annoy him. The court said he could see his kids every third Sunday of the month. See them he would. Her brothers had a right to visit him even if his new wife hated them like cooties. Britt was going to make sure they did.
Wish I could make him suffer for the visits he’s missed.
A vision of Britt sticking him with a knitting needle in each hand like his Granny Nan made her smile.
No. That’s not vicious enough.
A vision of a steamroller with thousands of pins on its roller popped into Britt’s mind. In seconds, the machine squashed her father into the ground. When he emerged from underneath, he was a bleeding mess.
A low volume fanfare announced the TV news. Just as she was about to yank her brothers out of the bathroom, her favorite reporter came on. Jessica Hawthorne of the The Trebridge Channel wore a stunning form-fitting green outfit that Britt coveted. The color would go as well with her dark hair as the reporter’s blond, blue-eyed looks. Hawthorne took a deep breath, ready to deliver her morning spiel.
Britt swallowed hard. Before the Divorce, Britt had worn expensive clothes like Hawthorne’s, not thrift shop junk like she wore now. When they lost their uptown apartment after her mom got sick, the county sheriff had dumped all their belongings on the sidewalk. Most of their stuff got stolen.
Dad could’ve helped us. At least buy us some new clothes for school. He's still got plenty of money. Mom couldn't help getting sick.
The small living room swallowed Jessica Hawthorne’s breathy voice. Britt strained to hear her over the bratbies’ sporadic giggles as they shoved pieces of toast in each other’s faces.
“Enough about the underage Crown Prince of Andor getting caught in a strip joint when he should have been at school. Closer to home and our thought for the day. The Guarda assures the citizens of Trebridge the new curfew will end the vandalism and muggings. Stronger measures are needed, I tell you. Scores of people appear at hospitals with the most dreadful wounds and can't remember how they got them.”
The reporter blathered on, an earnest expression knitting her brows. “We need more guarda on the streets, especially in the river districts. These hoodlums need to be stopped.”
Britt concentrated harder, not daring to turn up the volume while her mother slept. She worked the swing shift now and didn’t get home until four in the morning. Someday I’ll look that polished again, I swear. Granny Nan would bawl Dad out for how we live now if she were still alive.
Britt shut her complaints down, feeling embarrassed at how proud she had once been to be called her daddy's ‘little princess’.
“While the guarda say their investigations are ongoing, I don't see any results. Why have so many people disappeared? The police haven’t a clue." Her lip curled. "You’d almost think we’re being invaded by demons and our fine protectors are too scared to investigate.” Her contempt poured from the screen.
Britt tapped her foot, wishing her brothers would stop giggling. She wished she lived uptown where she still had a room of her own. Granted, they didn’t live on the streets, but four people stuffed in one bedroom in her half-sister's apartment was torture. Her father deserved to be kicked in the ass. Britt wanted revenge. Her father needed to pay for abandoning his family and her.
The noise in the bathroom grew louder.
Those buttheads better not wake Mom up.
Britt twitched the draped folds of her new V-neck blouse wishing she had the boobs to fill it out. It did have a designer label, just the thing she needed to sneak into the posh condos where her father now lived.
Just like the boys can’t wear their grubs today.
“I want to wear a T-shirt to Dad’s, Britt.”
Quarrelsome Darin whined behind her, making her jump. He had become a total pain since their parents’ divorce. Britt hoped seeing their dad would stop his constant bitching. Britt didn’t feel any guilt for disobeying their mother’s orders. The boys deserved to see their cockroach of a father. His ice-blooded new wife could just tough out their visit.
Britt’s muscles tightened in the cold, funny way they did when something bad was going to happen. She shook her head, forcing herself to ignore the bothersome feeling that was happening too often for comfort.
Glancing at the closed bedroom doors, she put a finger to her lips. Mom’s going to blister our ears if we wake her.
Darin opened his mouth. Lifting her hand to smack him, she brushed back the thick fall of hair across her eyes instead. If she hit him, Darin’s screams would wake their mom and Pietra, their half-sister.
Keeping her voice low, she said, “Get your butt in gear. You’re wearing what you’re wearing. End of questions, comments, and complaining.”
Darin did not give up. “My tees are clean. Dad don’t like fancy either. He sat in front of the TV with his shirt and shoes off all the time. In summer, he only wore his boxers. Remember? Mom always got mad at him for leaving beer cans on the coffee table. Always.”
“Shh. Don’t wake Mom or Pietra.” Britt held a finger to her lips. “Get your shoes on, and we can talk in the hall.”
“I don’t like dress shirts either.” Carlos, her older, calmer brother, carefully left the bathroom door partly ajar. “It’s not fair to make us wear them. You’re just a kid like us even if you’re taller. Being a high school freshmen ain’t no bigger deal than being in fifth grade.”
“Stop being buttheads, both of you.” Britt jerked the apartment door open. “You begged to visit Dad. I’m doing the best I can to see you do, so shut up and move your ass before Mom wakes up.”
Her mother did her best to push their father out of their lives. Britt refused to let her have her wish. Since the messy divorce and his marriage to the Ice-Bitch, Timothy Kelly had seldom spent more than an hour with them. Their dad mostly offered excuses when his visitation weekend came. When he did see them, they barely ate a fast lunch before he sent them off to a movie on their own. The last time was three months ago. Britt missed him and his compliments terribly.
He’s not going to escape today.
Britt remembered their one visit to the posh high-rise, so different from both their suburban and project homes. The pristine rooms, sprinkled with figurines and trinkets, made her nervous enough to get the cold crawls down her back every time she moved. The Ice-Bitch's rat-dog had barked and snapped at them the whole time.
Carlos didn’t mean to break the stupid shepherd figurine when he jumped. The damn dog would’ve bit him if I hadn’t kicked the yapping rat in the head. I don’t care if the cabrona told us never to come back again. It's our right to see him.
Outside the apartment, the hallway reeked from years of cooking in the eight apartments of the fifth floor, B-wing. In spite of the blinking light of the security camera in its wire cage, someone had tagged both sides of the hall. Thankfully, they left the picture Britt called the “Tree of Life” undamaged. Someone had painted a huge tree with birds flittering through the leaves. No one told the artist that real trees didn’t grow alone, especially the big ones. Britt missed the trees lining the streets of their lost home, and the painting’s survival gave Britt hope she might survive living in the slums, too.
Be glad you don’t down near the docks.
The thought of trees made Britt smile as memories of her summers at Granny Nan’s flitted through her mind, the pines sighing in the breeze while the oaks rustled with a brisker note. Her huge white dogs slipping out of the house to silently disappear into the tree-covered hillsides. Granny Nan standing lost in thought, rubbing her hidden necklace with the tips of her fingers until the gems glowed, when she thought she was alone. The three guard dogs, Nan called her guardians, licking Britt’s face.
Britt’s heart clutched when she recalled their goodbye last summer. Granny Nan had bustled about the kitchen, packing a lunch with extra snickerdoodles for the drive back to Trebridge. Just before she shoved the paper bag into her hands, she rose to her tiptoes to kiss Britt on the forehead.
“Cheer up, my girl. Next summer will be loads of fun. You’re going to learn all sorts of new stuff. Our secret now. Remember.”
The last word had held force as she tapped Britt’s forehead. She’d loved Granny Nan. Staying with her was always fun, except when she trained Britt in self-control. Britt had looked forward to her coming summer, not ever imagining the old woman would die.
Britt shoved the memory away because it hurt too much to remember. Won’t learn anything now since she’s dead.
A shuffling noise on the stairs put Britt on alert, living in the projects wasn’t as safe as Uptown. The head of the girl from across the hall appeared, followed by some older guy with broad shoulders carrying a sack. The girl took one look at Britt and dropped her gaze before scurrying toward her door.
On her way, the girl said, “Hi, tree.”
“Why do you always talk to that silly tree, Sara?” asked the guy following her. His gaze rested on where Britt’s boobs should be and sank to her crouch area.
When he smirked, Britt was glad her skirt was loose, happy she did not share Pietra and her mom's busty figures.
The dark-haired Tejano girl pushed the door open after unlocking it. “Gerome, Hurry up. Mama wants that milk yesterday.”
He scooted into the door, throwing a backward glance at Britt. “Okay, Sara. Okay.”
Carlos slipped into the hallway, pulling their door shut without closing it. “Okay, Britt. Now tell me why I gotta do the dress-shirt shit before school starts.” He stopped and folded his arms across his chest. His expression mirrored his father’s when the old man was ready to start a tantrum and throw things when something didn’t go his way. “I’m not going to move an inch until you let me go back and get a t-shirt.”
“Yeah,” said Darin, joining them.
“We gotta sneak by the co-op's security, buttheads. If you don’t blend in, they’ll check their list of undesirables and bounce you out the door faster than you can spit. So, you’re wear prissy clothes. Comprendes? Or are you guys totally too stupid to understand?”
“Dad don’t like you speaking Spanish,” said Carlos.
Darin parroted in the high-pitched voice that grated her patience raw. “Yeah, we’re Andorians. Have been forever. You can even join the Daughters of the Kingscourt.”
“Shut up, or go watch TV with the bratbies.” Britt gave him a cold stare. Her fifth-grade brothers hated being lumped with Pietra’s pre-school sons. “Carlos and I’ll visit Dad by ourselves and get bigger ice creams afterward.”
Carlos gasped. “You won’t really leave Darin behind?”
Britt’s glare heated. “Damn sure I would, if he don’t stop whining like a baby.”
“Okay, but I still don’t like dress shirts,” said Darin. “All the guys around here wear tees.”
“Duh. Wear a tee to school tomorrow. Now move your ass. We gotta catch the tram.”
Once on the street, the boys forgot the argument in a game of shoving and giggling. Was I ever so young? Maybe before Pietra fell down the stairs and everyone blamed me for pushing her.
Memories of her father’s great-grandmother who lived back in the hills flooded through her mind. Longing pulsed through Britt as she thought of the summers when she lived with her.
Britt should’ve hated the old woman, but she loved her. When she was nine, Britt had been sent away because everyone thought she shoved Pietra down the stairs, breaking her leg. Pietra had been teasing her by lifting her Mr. Pongo over her head, and she had been jumping trying to grab him away. But she slipped. Pietra had fallen down the stairs when Britt had grabbed her for balance. No one believed her when Britt said it was an accident.
The summer after, Granny Nan had invited her back. She did teach her to “control” her temper. She taught her imagination games. Made her use her use all her senses to examine the world around her. Taught her to sing in descant during the long evenings with the mages who came to visit her. Granny Nan was a Dissenter who disliked the Kingscourt and all it stood for. Still, Britt had loved Granny Nan's mountain valley. The summers had been the most wonderful of Britt’s life.


A Northern California gal, M. K. Theodoratus has been intrigued by fantasy since she started reading comic books. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then.
When she's not disappearing into other writer's worlds, she's creating her own alternative worlds--that of Andor where demons prey on humans and the Far Isle Half-Elven where she explores the social and political implications of genetic drift on a hybrid elf/human people.
A sixth grade English assignment introduced Theodoratus to story writing. The teacher asked for a short story and gave a "C" for an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a novel the next summer. Theodoratus has been addicted to writing stories happily ever after.

Currently, Theodoratus lives with her old man and two lap-cats in Colorado.


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