Book Spotlight & Giveaway~ The Hunter’s Moon

SBB_TheHuntersMoon_Banner copy(1)

I have the pleasure of hosting Beth Trissel and her new book, the Hunter’s Moon today. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post. Beth will be awarding a $30 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. The tour is sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions and you can find a list of the stops HERE
Now let’s check out The Hunter’s Moon…
Book 1 of the Secret Warrior Series
GENRE: YA Fantasy  Romance
Seventeen year old Morgan Daniel has been in the witness protection program most of her life. But The Panteras have caught up with her and her younger brother. Her car is totaled, she’s hurt, and the street gang is closing in when wolves with glowing eyes appear out of nowhere and chase away the killers.
Then a very cute guy who handles a bow like Robin Hood emerges from the woods and takes them to safety at his fortress-like home. And that’s just the first sign that Morgan and her brother have entered a hidden world filled with secrets.


“Should we stay, or go while the smoke lasts?” The cloth muffled her voice.
“You can hardly walk.”
She couldn’t argue that point. Neither could they wait to be found. “The Panteras won’t give up until we’re dead.”
“Maybe they think we are,” he argued under his breath.
She suspected Mateo would demand a body, even a charred one. Make that two. She and Jimmy didn’t have much choice, though, other than to crouch in dread while the fire crackled.
“Next birthday, I want an AK-47.” He nudged her. “Look.”
She fixed her blurry gaze on what appeared to be a black wolf emerging from the trees. The creature was larger than she’d thought wolves were, and she’d understood none remained in these mountains. They were all farther north or west. Somewhere else.
Apparently, she was misinformed.
Judging by its size, she guessed this was a male. He stopped before their hideout. Eyes the color of red coals surveyed them before he turned and darted down the trail she’d spotted.
“Holy cow, Batboy. Did you see that?” she whispered.
Jimmy didn’t reply. He prodded her again.
She stared at the big brown and gray wolf that took the black one’s place. Where on earth had he come from?
The beast turned its furry head at her and Jimmy. His eyes shone with a luminous light, like fireflies…
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Married to her high school sweetheart, Beth Trissel lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by her human family and furbabies. An avid gardener, her love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into her work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of her inspiration. She’s especially drawn to colonial America and the drama of the American Revolution. In addition to YA fantasy romance, she also writes historical, time travel, and paranormal romance, plus nonfiction.
For more on Beth visit her blog, One Writer’s Way, at: ttps://
Connect with Beth on Facebook: Author Beth Trissel:
At Twitter:
Visit Beth’s Amazon Author Page where all her books reside: Amazon Author Page
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Mystical Christmas by Susan Smith Alvis

What if everything you wanted was all within your reach but not yours for the taking?


Klaus and Stefan are tearing through the South collecting hybrids and leaving a trail of dead bodies behind them. Unable to reach Stefan any other way, Elena devises a holiday plan to lure Stefan back home.

Damon thinks Elena is wasting her time and fears the worst. He and Stefan no longer celebrate Christmas, but if Klaus approves Elena’s request, Damon will support her by giving her what she wants—a traditional Christmas.

What Elena wants and what she gets are two different vampires altogether. Elena approaches Klaus and asks for Stefan’s release, even if it’s only for one Christmas weekend. Klaus agrees, but his terms and conditions are nonnegotiable.

Soon, Elena is holed up in a snow-covered chalet with the Salvatore brothers and Klaus, an original vampire with an unusual agenda. And he’s gone to great lengths to find out who Elena really loves.

Excerpt One

Dear Diary,

I used to love mystery and danger. Like other teenage girls, I’d often imagined what it might be like to find myself in the middle of a catastrophe, stuck between two great forces—like good and evil—only far more dramatic.

At that time, Stefan and Damon Salvatore didn’t exist in my world. The world—at least the one I lived in—was less complicated. My days then were in black and white, with an occasional burst of color and flare, compliments of Caroline. 

Then the Salvatore brothers entered my life and everything changed. I soon learned there wasn’t a line of division down the middle with these two. And after I met Damon and Stefan, my former life faded to black and now the past seems surreal.

I look down at the Salvatore driveway, now lined with packed snow and jagged tracks and wonder how I could’ve been so naïve. Who was that young girl who compartmentalized thoughts, people, places and things?  Why didn’t she take the time to see the bigger picture with more multidimensional aspects, more depth?

As I think about the coming hours with a mix of dread and a dash of excitement, I now know a well-rounded life takes a triangle’s shape. Life isn’t clean and tidy with a circular rotation driven by nature to lead us all back to where we started. It’s not boxed up all nice and neat with defined planes and specific instructions to make our days easier. How boring would that be? Then again, after barely surviving these last few months, boring sounds like a little slice of heaven. 

It’s the most wonderful time of year or it is for those who believe in the two-sided world, the world beyond this window, the one where others grade their mere existence by good or evil.

But there is a third entity or force. And he’s standing right behind me. 

Excerpt Two

“You promised to release him while we’re in Tennessee.”

“And I will,” Klaus assured her. “Once we’re settled in and before the sun goes down.”

“Is there a ‘but’ in there somewhere?”

“All right, Elena, you win. I’ll let you in on a little secret.” His demeanor changed then. “You can’t play with fate or run from it, love. Katerina tried and as you saw for yourself, she failed on numerous occasions. She also loved two brothers as you love two brothers.”

“I never said—”

Klaus held up his hand. “Let me finish. Damon gives you what you need, what you must have at any cost. Stefan, on the other hand, gives you what you want—the ability to stay committed to your high moral standards. The Stefan you know gives you a normal relationship, an acceptable bond. Your friends like him. Your teachers accept him.”

“What about the Stefan you know?”

“The Stefan I know would rip your pretty little neck apart if I so much as compelled him to do so.”

She swallowed, processing. Klaus wanted to hurt her. He wanted to watch how she interacted with the Salvatore brothers. He would then later use what he learned against her. “You made Stefan into something he’s not.”

“On the contrary,” Klaus said. “We’re vampires. That makes us hunters or predators by nature. We’re only killers by choice.”

Beta Readers’ “Favorite Lines from The Vampire Diaries” Mystical Christmas

(Kindle Worlds Novella) [Kindle Edition]

  1. Her mind’s eyes flickered with newspaper clippings about a rampant killing spree, a murderous binge controlled by Klaus and executed by Stefan.
  1. “On the contrary,” Klaus said. “We’re vampires. That makes us hunters or predators by nature. We’re only killers by choice.”
  1. “Stefan’s weapons are embedded in his gums. No one hands him anything. He takes what he wants.”
  1. “You and Damon probably weren’t supposed to spend Christmas together. You aren’t exactly an ideal mistletoe-seeking pair.”
  1. “At the end of the day, you’re nothing more than a bleeding vein to him, Elena.”
  1. Their love washed over her like a high tide racing toward shore in the middle of a devastating storm, a volatile gale that would temporarily calm before striking with brutal force in the desolate hours of a quiet holiday night.
  1. “Proximity is a real bitch when you’re the only one with a beating heart in a houseful of vampires.”
  1. “You can make a deal with the devil but it doesn’t mean you have to follow him back to hell.”
  1. “Far be it for me to break the news here, but we’re both dead, brother.” Stefan lifted his glass. “I thought you knew.”
  1. “I can’t pretend I don’t have feelings for you when every single time I look at you, I only see an extension of me.”
  1. “It’s hard to choose a side when your heart draws its sword for one cause while your head supports another.”

Only $1.99 Today At Amazon 
About the Author: Susan Smith Alvis has been a career author for over a decade. With over 300 titles to her credit, her pseudonyms have been award-winning authors with international bestsellers in most genres. To find out more, visit her book page at Amazon. To sign up for updates and future release date announcements, email her at

NATURALS Blog Tour Stop/Contest


Happy Monday! Before I get to blogging away, I want to thank you for hosting me today on your blog.

I was charged with the task of creating a Top Tens list. I rummaged through my mind for quite a bit on what to base my list on…Top Ten Junk Food Snacks I Eat but Shouldn’t…Top Ten Pop Songs I am Embarrassed to Know All the Words to… but finally settled on

Top Ten Five Inspirations for this Science Fiction Writer:

1)      LOST – Only one of the greatest science fiction shows of all time, LOST not only studied things that any science fiction fan would jump for, but, more importantly, made characters the true focus of its narratives. That’s why LOST was the science fiction show for people who didn’t know they loved science fiction. Sucking viewers in with their colorful and ever-changing characters, LOST conformed generations of non-science fiction nerds into card carrying members.

2)      Stephen King’s The Stand – Set in a world devastated by plague, this is one of the greatest books I have ever read.  An old fashioned tale of good v evil, the novel poses the question —what do we do when civilization falls apart?

3)      The Music of Michael Giacchino – I am a sucker for a good score, and this man is a genius. The man behind the scores to LOST, ALIAS, and Star Trek (newest versions), has rocked my world. Played often in my car, his works had allowed my mind to wander to whole new worlds, explore life-changing moments, and create new stories for my readers. He is as much of a creator of the story as any writer he works with.

4)      Old School Dystopians: Lowry’s The Giver and Orwell’s 1984 are two old school dystopians that really affected me as a young reader. While Hunger Games ushered in a new slew of dystopians to the YA genre, these two novels challenged my mind and made me question the world around me. I never thought that I would write my own dystopian series back when I read these novels; I just didn’t know how big their influence was.

5)      The Work of Joss Whedon: Responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and FireFly, Whedon was not afraid to fill his works with dark, damaged characters. Neither entirely good nor entirely evil, his characters encompassed all aspects of what it meant to be human( sometimes using characters that weren’t human at all).


Yes, I know this was supposed to be a top tens list, but these five things have really had the most influence on my life as a science fiction writer. If you haven’t checked them out, I hope you will.

Naturals OfficialNATURALS by Tiffany Truitt

The Lost Souls Series Book Two

Young Adult Paranormal

Entangled Publishing

Ripped away from those she loves most, Tess is heartbroken as her small band of travelers reaches the Isolationist camp in the mysterious and barren Middlelands. Desperate to be reunited with James, the forbidden chosen one who stole her heart, she wants nothing to do with the rough Isolationists, who are without allegiance in the war between the Westerners and Easterners. But having their protection, especially for someone as powerful as Tess, may come at a cost.

When James returns, Tess’s world once again feels complete—until she discovers her sister, Louisa, has taken up her old post at Templeton, the dangerous chosen ones training center and the site of Tess’s loss of innocence. Tess will do anything to protect her loved ones—but will the price be more than she can give?

This second book in Tiffany Truitt’s dystopian series is a thought-provoking, thrilling story that asks who the true enemy really is—the chosen ones who are different, or the naturals…who are just like us.

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:

Book Depository:

Tiffany TruittAbout the Author:

Tiffany Truitt was born in Peoria, Illinois. A self-proclaimed Navy brat, Tiffany spent most of her childhood living in Virginia, but don’t call her a Southerner. She also spent a few years living in Cuba. Since her time on the island of  one McDonalds and Banana Rats (don’t ask), she has been obsessed with traveling. Tiffany recently added China to her list of travels (hello inspiration for a new book).

Besides traveling, Tiffany has always been an avid reader. Tiffany spent most of her high school and college career as a literary snob. She refused to read anything considered “low brow” or outside the “classics.”

Tiffany began teaching middle school in 2006. Her students introduced her to the wide, wonderful world of Young Adult literature. Today, Tiffany embraces popular Young Adult literature and uses it in her classroom. Tiffany is proud to call herself an educator and Young Adult author.

Naturals Official

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Welcome Susan Elizabeth Alvis today

Thank you for having me today. A few years ago, I became interested in the numerous unsolved Texas crimes along the I-45 corridor in an area known as The Killing Fields.  Since the early 70s, bodies have been dumped in these Texas fields, located south of Houston. Many young lives ended too soon and families were destroyed.

A Killer’s Field is a short young adult Halloween story available in e-format. The novella is fictional, but includes a few facts surrounding the I-45 murders.

I hope young readers will pick up a copy of this novella and see the story for what it is—a warning with an underlying message. I won’t give away spoilers here. However, I’d like to leave an excerpt and invite your readers to check out A Killer’s Field, on sale now at Devine Destinies.

Thank you for sharing your blog with me, Raine. It’s great to be here.

Susan Alvis

“A deadly event turns participants into victims as a Texas killing field becomes ground zero for a Halloween hunt….” A Killer’s Field, Susan Smith Alvis


Kristen McMurray is flabbergasted when her boyfriend decides to take her to the Texas Killing Fields for Halloween.  She’s not at all impressed with his plans for a romantic evening, let alone the idea of frolicking on the very grounds known to harbor the deadliest of secrets.

Picturing a moonlit sky high above them and a murderer lurking in the shadows, Kristen is convinced her boyfriend has either lost his mind or worse. Perhaps he’s become a quiet lunatic waiting to emerge.

Reluctantly, Kristen agrees to spend Halloween in the fields. Unbeknownst to her, they enter the heart of a huge Halloween hunt, an organized event and obvious trap used to entice unsuspecting victims to the very place where dozens of bodies have been previously dumped.

One brush with death leads to another, but Kristen keeps her wits about her as her boyfriend turns their Halloween night into an evening she’ll never forget. While the fields live up to their harrowing name, Kristen faces the horrors of the past. Somewhere along the way, she discovers an inner strength and a will to survive, realizing determination and the desire to live are the only elements insuring she’ll leave the fields alive!

Excerpt for A Killer’s Field by Susan Smith Alvis

“Where to?” I ask, giving the door a quick tug and taking my seat. I’m still irked by his lack of manners. Perhaps I’ll find a Texas gentleman while we’re hunting killers. Oh sure, there’s a plan. Like eligible bachelors frequent those fields. There’s an old adage about tempting fate. Right now, I feel as if I’m setting a determined appointment with death.

Denny starts the truck. “You’re in a mood.”

I glance to my left. “Isn’t everyone?”

“You are,” he grumbles.

“I am,” I agree. “People everywhere are always in a mood. Some folks are in a good mood. Still others are…”


“Terrified,” I deadpan.

“You’re in a terrified mood?” he asks, turning up the radio a notch.

“Turn that off,” I say, reaching over his outstretched arm and hitting the volume knob.

Denny drops his semi-muscular limb like it is weighted down with barbells. He steps on the brake. “What is wrong with you?”

“I don’t feel like listening to scary movie music.” I look straight ahead. I can’t help but blink repetitively. In the face of danger, this always happens. It’s as if I’m not quite able to fathom what is directly in front of me. “How do I get myself in these situations?”

“What are you babbling about?”

“My life.”

“It’s Halloween,” he says, scanning stations.

The notation isn’t necessary. As we enter the New Orleans French Quarter, the holiday is well understood. Already in costume, business owners are unlocking their storefronts. Festive skeletons hang from hotel balconies while elaborate jack-o-lanterns line private patios.

“But of course it is. And I can’t think of anything more appropriate than listening to doomsday hymns.”

“Would you rather hear some bluegrass?”


“Those are your choices.”

“What a nice variety you offer. Behind door number one, we have an arrangement of instruments leaving the listener to believe terror has begun its inevitable march. Behind door number two, an artist with the kind of dreadful voice that makes me want to step into a shallow grave.”

Denny grunts, returns both hands to the wheel and accelerates. “You’re strange. You know that, right?”

“Yes, and you’re the most normal guy in the world.”

He reaches under his seat and retrieves a white plastic mask. “Speaking of which, what do you think?”

I wrinkle my nose as the aroma of Heinz 57 fills the truck. “I think you were out of ketchup.”


“So you smell like a steak.”

“I needed to splatter something thick and dark on my mask. I wanted to go in costume.”

“Thanks for telling me. I would’ve dressed up as mustard had I known you wanted to travel as condiments.”

“I told you to dress appropriately.”

A mustard bottle would’ve been slightly overstated then. I study the mask he keeps thrusting in my direction.

Waving him away, I dare to ask, “Why would I dress up for an evening out in the middle of nowhere?”

“I told you. We won’t be alone tonight. This is an annual event.”

“Explain,” I say, fastening my safety belt as he swerves and barely misses a van. “And you never mentioned any shindig.”

“Yes I did. You don’t listen.”

“No you did not, but I’m all ears now.”

Copyright © 2012

A Killer’s Field by Susan Elizabeth Alvis is available at Devine Destinies and is coming soon to Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand, and other third party retail sites.


Welcome Lux Zakari today

Lux Zakari’s Single, Cool and Fine: How to Get Laid as an Ex-Teen Idol

Gorgeous but awkward, talented but weird, James Venora is a twenty-seven-year-old struggling musician mired in the eternal stigma of having once been the stuff of Tiger Beat centerfolds. Getting married in his late teens also rendered him completely clueless when it comes to dating, a fact that comes to light when his wife surprises him with a request for a divorce. Now James has never felt the passage of time more strongly, and he decides to shirk his well-behaved habits and start wronging some rights. Unfortunately, he has no idea where to start.

Enter his brother Wade and his childhood friend E.Y.—both his biggest fans and biggest detractors. At their behest, James reads fan fiction written about himself to glean advice on how to live up to his potential—and instead discovers that what he wants most might be something he already has.

# # #

“Y’know, I have to say I never really got into your band,” Crystal confessed after her shift had ended, drawing patterns on the side of her sweating glass of gin and tonic. “I think I was too old for that kind of pop music when you guys came out.”

There was no way she was older than he was. What was she, all of twenty-four? That was only three years younger than he was. James took a sip of his Red Bell and shrugged, fighting a wave of annoyance. Crystal wasn’t the first to tell him how not into his music she was. Why did people think that was okay, to casually tell him how much they didn’t care for or even downright hated his life’s work, something he poured all of himself into? What was he even supposed to say to that?

Then he remembered E.Y.’s wisdom, how the James in the fan fiction always went for the least impressed chick. It set her apart from all the other fans, who’d scream and never have anything interesting to say. Her hostility and standoffish qualities would not be turnoffs but rather foreign, beautiful. It didn’t seem to make any sense to him. Where was the middle ground? Why did it have to be one extreme or the other?

Despite her disinterest in his reason for living, Crystal was pretty freaking hot. She looked exactly how someone with her name should look: in her mid-twenties, with light blond hair in choppy layers, pale blue eyes, porcelain skin, and a lithe, petite body with tits that belonged in a centerfold. James had to keep reminding himself not to stare but Jesus. He’d forgotten women could look like this. The thought churned in his gut. What had he been doing with his life? None of it seemed especially important in lieu of Crystal and the ripe sexuality wafting from her in waves. He could’ve been having girls like this for years. What was wrong with him?

James shook the disturbing, overwhelming possibilities from his mind. He could spend the night wracked with regret, or he could spend it with Crystal.

It was going to happen. It was just a matter of how and when. Admittedly, the guarantee of future bliss with a stranger was somewhat terrifying. It was so far out of his comfort zone, part of him just wanted to dart from the restaurant and return to the tour bus or the hotel room. But that had been the case for his entire life, and look where that had gotten him. He’d be crazy if he thought doing the same damn thing would warrant new results.

“No offense or anything,” Crystal added with a blush and put a hand on his arm, a warm unfamiliar touch that zipped straight to his cock. “I’ve just never been into pop music. I like the trippy psychedelia from the sixties and all that, like Jefferson Airplane and Donovan and Cream and stuff.”

James looked from her hand to her nervous, apologetic expression and back again, still saying nothing. He enjoyed making her squirm and hoped to find other, more interesting ways to do it. He caught sight of her nail polish. Red with white dots and topped with forest green. He also recalled what E.Y. said about taking note of the details, finding beauty in the weird. “Nice nails. Strawberries.”

Her blush intensified and she gave a smile and a nod. “Yep. I did them myself.”

“I like them.” James picked up his drink and took a swig.

Crystal raked her teeth over her bottom lip as her shy grin became wicked. “If you think they look good,” she said, “wait ‘til you feel them down your spine.”

At first he wasn’t sure he heard her right. Her words were a stun gun to the brain, and he choked on a mouthful of his Red Bull and coughed. He attempted to put the can back on the table but missed the edge of the table completely, and it clattered to the floor, leaving more than a few splashes on his suddenly tight pants.

She covered her mouth with those strawberry nails but was unable to mask her giggle. Her eyes met James’ and turned smoky with promise. “On that note, let’s get out of here.”

# # #

To purchase Single, Cool, and Fine: How to Get Laid as an Ex-Teen Idol, visit

To learn more about Lux Zakari, visit


Welcome J. Lilley today

Hi and welcome to my blog, J. Lilley Please make yourself at home and grab a drink.  So tell us a little about yourself. 

Hi, do you know that’s the worst thing I can get asked? I go ohhh help, and forget who I am or what I am.  And I’m scared people will go ‘boring’ and be put off by my bio, go and make a cup of tea, or prune the roses or something.

Okay then. Are you sitting comfortably?

I’m a well over twenty one year old female, and I live in Central Scotland, with my  husband. Our children have flown the nest, so it’s me, him, and two very spoiled cats. They rule the roost, and pay lips service to our thoughts that we do.

Where we live, is a beautiful part of the country called The Trossachs. Lochs and glens, mountains and mist. Hey that sounds poetic, but better than saying ors of rain.

I write YA books and so far they are set around here. I have my inspiration on my doorstep.

So tell us a little about your latest book. What inspired this masterpiece?

I love that you call it a masterpiece. Let’s hope so. Well *deep breath*

A friend of mine couldn’t find a book for her daughter’s 14th birthday. So I. in a moment of temporary aberration, offered to write one. All I was told was it needed to be about shifters.

 So I wrote a short 12k and Rach, the birthday girl loved it. I happened to mention it to a publisher ( as you do lol) who asked to see it. He was thinking of setting up a YA publishing house. LIked it and then told  me it needed to be at least twice as long, and he wanted a series. From this Shalea was born.

 So book one Discovered. tells how Rach moves to Scotland and finds out things about herself and her family that she had no idea about.


If you had any super powers, what would they be and why? An eye on the end of my finger so I could see round corners and behind me. and to be able to tidy up..AND find everything I’ve er ‘tidied’ away, with a flick of a wrist!

What genre haven’t you tried yet but want to in the future? It seems I’m having a go at urban fantasy. And I’d love to do a good mystery.

What is one thing readers might be surprised to know about you? I live just up the road (lane) from the Fairy Tree 

If we asked your muse to describe you in three words, what do you think they might say? Prolific, visual and adventurous. 

What authors can be found in your library of books? HELP, you need to see my study! W E B Griffin, Miss Read, Bill Knox,  Robyn Donald, Erica James, Katie FForde, Peter Robinson, PAul Theroux. And there’s even more on my Ereader. Doris O’Connor, Cherie Nicholls, Stuart McBride.. .The list is endless.


Have any guilty pleasures you want to share with us? Apart from Wine and Chocolate? Traveling.


Is there anything you’re currently working on that you can give us a taste of? I’m just writing the last book in this series…

Resolved.  Hopefully it ties in the ends, but, well, is everything Resolved?


What is your favorite way to relax after a hard day working and writing?

ER wine and chocolate, preferably somewhere warm and with DH.

What is one historical figure you would love to chat with and why? Beau Brummel to ask him why he went the way he did.

Would you care to mention any upcoming or WIP projects that readers can look forward from you in the future?

 Well as I mentioned, I’m writing a YA urban fatally with Suzanne Fuller. and then, there’s an idea for a series of YA book set  on an Island in Loch Lomond

Out of all your books, do you have a favorite one? If not, then which one is closest to your heart? It’s got to be Discovered, that’s closest to my heart. It was and is my first YA. But the one I think is probably, my favorite by a smidgeon, is book 3 Accepted. It gave me goosebumps as I wrote it.


Thanks for coming. Is there anything else you want to add?

Hey, thank you,  for inviting me over. I enjoyed the drink and the chat.

It’s been fun. These books may say YA but according to Rach’s mum, she’s going to read them as well. So hopefully they will appeal to all ages.

 Here’s the blurb..



DiscoveredWhen Rach moved to Scotland she knew there would be changes. She hadn’t expected them to be quite so dramatic. Not only was there a new house, new school and new friends, there was also a secret to discover.

Brios Parde was a Patriarch in waiting. When the powerful leopard shifter senses a new Shalean he is amazed to discover it’s the new girl. All his senses tell him Rach will be important to him.

However the Rogues try to destroy the budding relationship. Will Rach decide to side with Brios or help stage an uprising?


In the end it was easier than he thought to get Rach to meet him. As he entered the school foyer she was standing to one side.

Waiting for me? He liked to think so.

He could tell without any Shalean sensing whatsoever that she was not happy. Struan was standing much too close to her and trying to have a conversation. He watched as one finger jabbed Struan sharply in the chest.

“Look, I’m not interested.” Jab. “Get it?” Jab. “I do not want to go dancing, to the pictures or even hold a conversation with you.” Jab, jab, jab. “You’re talking of things about which you know nothing, and as well as that you’re a rude, jumped-up little shit. Now sod off, or I’ll make you. Ever had a schoolbag in the balls? Because, now’s your chance.” There were a couple more jabs for emphasis.

Brios reminded himself never to upset her. She sounded dangerous, and it seemed her temper matched her hair. So did the color of Struan’s face. He scowled when he saw Brios walking up.

“Might have known you’d get your nose in somewhere,” Stru- an remarked nastily. “Always got to be showing off somehow.” He flicked his finger over Rach’s cheek, and before Brios could retaliate, Rach did it for him. The schoolbag swung through the air and Struan went down like the proverbial log hugging himself.

“Next time you touch me I’ll send your balls where the sun doesn’t shine,” Rach said softly so no teacher could hear, before dropping her schoolbag and just missing the curled up Struan again. “That was a warning; no strength behind it. Watch out if I do use some effort.”

Then she spoke loudly for the benefit of a couple of passing teachers, and ignoring the giggles of some of the pupils in the area. “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. Oh clumsy me. Are you all right? I didn’t drop it on anything that matters did I?”

Her answer was a gurgle. The first-aid assistant hurried up and shooed Rach and Brios away.

“Horrible little toad. Next time …” “There won’t be a next time Rach, I promise you. Look,” Brios said urgently, “we need to talk. Can you meet me at the end of first period? If you can get to the side gate I’ll pick you up. Please Rach, it’s really important; just this once. Leira will cover for you.” Slowly she nodded and he heaved a sigh of relief.

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