Book Blast: Epiphany by Christina Jean Michaels & Giveaway

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours I get to squeal and celebrate the release of the following book with you, my lovely readers, by sharing an excerpt from the book and giving you TWO giveaways to enter.
Epiphany by Christina Jean Michaels
Published: 19th July 2013
Genre: NA/17+ Romantic Suspense
Amazon UK*
Amazon US
When purchasing through this link, I will earn a small amount, once I have enough saved up I’ll put it towards a giveaway.

Synopsis: “I had my first psychic dream when I was nine. Psychic implied power, and powerful wasn’t a word I’d use to describe myself. I couldn’t foretell the future or conjure visions at will, but I couldn’t think of a more fitting word to describe what I sometimes saw in my dreams.”

For 23-year-old Mackenzie Hill, tossing her life down the garbage disposal is easy after a painful incident shatters her life. Her heart is bleeding, and moving to Watcher’s Point is a chance to start anew, only she isn’t prepared for the guy who walks out of her dreams and into the flesh. Literally . . . because she’s been dreaming about this sexy stranger for years.

Mackenzie is even less prepared to face the dark nature of her dreams. They’ve turned disturbingly gruesome, full of blood and murder, and when they begin to coincide with the media’s headlines, she and Aidan realize her visions might be the key to stopping a madman from killing again.

Only Aidan has painful secrets of his own, and perhaps the biggest danger of all is falling for him.

Author Bio:
Christina Jean Michaels

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Christina Jean Michaels was born in Paradise, California, but she has found the true home of her heart in Eugene, Oregon where she finds plenty of inspiration for storytelling. 

When she was young, her mother said she hated words. Now she can’t imagine not writing. She became an avid reader when she was thirteen and discovered the world of Sweet Valley High. About a year later she realized she could play God and write about her own characters. She has been writing in some form ever since.

She lives with her husband and their four children—three rambunctious UFC/wrestling-loving boys and one girl who steals everyone’s attention.


A half hour later, after three rounds of drinks and a dozen lurid jokes, I extracted myself and was certain four pairs of lascivious eyes were glued to my ass.
Six grabbed my arm mid-stride and gestured toward Aidan. “Talk to him. It won’t kill you, I promise.”
I wasn’t so sure about that—I’d been trying to talk to him all week, but he’d been tight-lipped. The band went to break, and I kissed my excuse to duck and hide goodbye. Six gave me a final nudge in his direction.
“How’s it going?” I asked, gripping the counter for support. His eyes answered for him. Troubled and drawn, they indicated a sleepless night. Two full shot glasses sat between his hands; three empties had already been pushed aside.
This couldn’t be a good sign.
I said the first thing that came to mind. “No costume tonight?”
“I’m not really in a festive mood.” His eyes traveled the length of my body, and the corner of his mouth crept up in a lopsided smile. “Nice hat,” he said, swaying in his seat, “but Bonnie was blond.”
“I don’t play well with hair dye or wigs. It’s a character flaw.” What had gotten into me? Talking to the opposite sex had never come so easily, especially with a man as attractive as Aidan.

Sexy. Gorgeous. Hmm . . . wonder what’s underneath those clothes?

I swallowed hard. Now who had lascivious eyes? Time to pour cement into my mind’s gutter.
“You’re right. I can’t picture you blond.” He swayed on the barstool again, and I figured he must have hit the bottle before arriving. “Where’s Clyde hiding?”
“Bonnie’s an independent woman. She’s going solo.”
“Maybe you’ll get into less trouble that way.” He downed the remaining two shots without warning. The last hit the counter with a racket. “Can you believe today is my birthday?” The scorn in his tone confused me. Most people didn’t get so bent over a birthday.
I wasn’t sure how to reply. Somehow I guessed “happy birthday” wasn’t what he wanted to hear. I silently waited, hoping he’d shed some light. Even in my dreams – where I learned of things I had no way of explaining to others – he remained a mystery.
“I’ll take another round,” he said, gesturing toward the empties. “Make them doubles.”
I swallowed hard. “You sure? You’ve had a lot already.”
He flashed that crooked smile again, and I wondered if he realized how disarming it was. “You’re worried about me?” he asked.
I hesitated. “Yeah, I am.” Way more than I wanted to admit. Tonight was Halloween, after all.
Sounds good huh? I hope to read it one day but my to be read list is already much longer than my own arm hah! Also I’m pretty sure its going to take a lot for “Aiden” to become a book boyfriend to me, not matter how hot and swoon-worthy he’s described – simply because that is the same name of my boyfriends brother haha! Anyway, giveaway time! First up the grand prize one:

Giveaway #1
A signed copy of Epiphany and 25$ Amazon gift card
Giveaway #2
An ecopy of Epiphany (mobi or epub)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: Never Too Far by Thomas Christopher

It’s cover reveal time!
Thanks to IMR Blog Tours I am able to share with you the cover for… 

Never Too Far by Thomas Christopher

Publication Date: 13th June 2013

Genre: Young Adult: Action/Adventure, Dystopian & Sci-Fi
Synopsis: A harrowing story of love and survival. In a future of scarce resources, where the possession of gas and diesel is punishable by death, a teenage boy and a pregnant girl must save their impoverished family. They risk their lives on a terrifying journey to sell stolen fuel on the black market.
Goodreads / Amazon: UK | US


Joe turned and ran back into the gully, but he didn’t get very far. A sudden blast of wind shoved him to the ground. Flat on his face, he heard the wind whistling and screeching past his ears. When he lifted his head, he couldn’t see the pregnant girl any more. All the dust whirled and whipped into a blinding black blizzard. He thought for sure she’d gotten snatched up in the dust storm. The wind lashed at his face. He went to call out to her, but he didn’t know what to say because he didn’t know her name. And even if he did, his voice would’ve gotten lost in the snarling wind. Nevertheless, he had to find her.

Author Bio

Thomas Christopher

Thomas Christopher grew up in Iowa. He received his MFA from Western Michigan University. His short stories have appeared in The Louisville Review, The MacGuffin, Redivider, and Cooweescoowee. He was also awarded an Irving S. Gilmore Emerging Artist Grant and was a finalist for the Matthew Clark Prize in Fiction. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and son.

Book Tour Review: Dahlia

Dahlia by Christina Channelle
First Published: December 21st 2012
Publisher: Christina Channelle
Series: Blood Crave #1
Page Count: 320
Synopsis: What would you do if your dreams were more than just dreams?
When you knew in the depths of your soul that you were unlike the rest?
For seventeen-year-old Dahlia Winters, this is her truth. Her coping mechanism is to simply forget and deny the strangeness that is her life. Orphaned, her past remains a mystery. Now residing with a foster family, she finally feels normal–or attempts to. Yet, dreams continue to torment her. Not only consumed by visions of miraculously healing wounds, but of a lust for something she should never naturally crave.
Then a green-eyed stranger enters her life echoing her inner thoughts and voicing warnings about others wanting to harm her. He knows things about her that no one should possibly know, and he awakens her in ways she never expected.
This leads Dahlia to discover who she really is, for she is more than just human. With this newfound knowledge, and the elements suddenly fighting against her, she finds it hard to trust anyone. And as she finally awakens and comes to grips with the power she possesses, she fights to stay alive.
Before the world, as she knows it, ceases to exist.
Review: 3.5 / 5 stars
Dahlia is the protagonist in this book, she’s an orphan who has lived with foster family to foster family never able to fit in and has no memory prior that of being five, scars down her back from an unknown accident and a very life-like dream featuring a wolf and lots of blood. 
All Dahlia knows is she’s different but upon settling in with her new foster family where she actually feels somewhat welcome thanks to the help of her foster-brother Sam, she starts to focus on living a normaly teenage life, she attends school for the first time and after many years of homeschooling its not exactly as easy as one plus one, on the plus side she manages to make some form of friendships thanks to Sam and she even attends a regular high school party. Kind of. The thing is, whilst she is attempting to live a regular day to day life, weird or unexplainable things just keep happening and this is basically how the book goes until half way through, it isn’t until half way through when we actually get some answers and that left me feeling rather impatient with the book, it kept hinting at something and then we’d get a tiny step closer to being more aware of Dahlia’s weird life and then woosh, we’re flown five steps backwards. It got a little annoying. Luckily though, I felt once we we’re in on exactly what the hell was happening, the rest of the book was a lot more enjoyable and face paced though I must point out the book I read prior to this was a very fast paced roller coaster that left me with whiplash so maybe the first half of this book wasn’t as slow as I’m making out …I am a very impatient person at times though.
The reason for Dahlia’s odd experiences and encounters is all down to the fact she’s half fallen angel and half vampire. I know, pretty interesting right? They have fancier names and a great back story too. Anyway, she’s the only one of her kind and because of this some fallen angels want to kill her for being tainted with vampire blood, and others want to keep her alive just until a certain date to perform a ritual to help free their big boss, so Dahlia finds herself slap bang in the middle knowing that at some point she may end up dead, luckily she doesn’t have to worry about this by herself because we have Greyson, a fellow fallen angel, to help her out, he’s the Prince Charming in the story, only he’s a little more bad ass and mysterious, and him falling for her isn’t what he’s supposed to do of course which makes their romance a little more interesting
Of course Dahlia doesn’t end up dead – but don’t think there isn’t a trail of dead bodies left behind, because there is! You may need a tissue or two – and this leaves her and Greyson to fight another day. It ends on a little bit of a cliff-hanger, setting the scene for the sequal which I would be very interested in reading because I think these characters and this world has so much potential know the explaining is all out of the way. I really recommend this book too!
Amazon: UKUS
Christina Channelle: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

A dreamer, Christina Channelle holds two degrees in health sciences but has always had a passion for writing. You will find her reading other young adult novels, or typing up a new story on her computer. Outside of writing, she enjoys movies, music, and has recently embraced a new-found love for sushi. She resides in Ontario, Canada. Dahlia and Fallen Tears are her first published novel and novella. She is currently working on the next book in the Blood Crave Series.

I was five when I knew something was different about me…my first memory.

Parentless, I had no recollection of who they were or what they even looked like. All I knew was
that I was alone, residing at an orphanage disconnected from the outside world—disconnecting
myself from the outside world. I pictured it even now, like an oil painting drawn across a
canvas. The thick, heavy bristles of the paintbrush created an array of colors as the bright blue
sky connected to the shockingly white snow. The snow blanketed everything around me, as if
protecting me, the green forest displaying itself at every angle.

This orphanage was out of place in such a nature-infused environment. A large, two-story
building, its windows seemed to cover almost every surface of brick. I remembered the
brightness of the sun as it hit my sleepy face through one of those many windows. It would
instantly warm my body as it greeted me to yet another day.

Taking a closer look, vines covered old, gray bricks as they coursed over the external surface of
the orphanage. I used to have nightmares about those same vines making their way into my room
as I slept. They’d appear ominously as their shadows pounded against the walls, taunting me as

a storm brewed on outside. Venturing toward my bed, the vines would slither across my body,
immediately trapping me in place. One would manage to wrap itself around my neck, squeezing
tightly, as I struggled for air. Rendered frozen, the feeling of fear took hold as it bubbled up deep
inside my chest. And as I felt the burning pain in my throat, a thought would flash through my
mind of this moment being my last. It never was, though, as I would instantly wake up.

I always did have a wild imagination.

To chase away the terror, I found myself standing before my windowpane the morning after. The
bright sun beating down on my skin, I realized my fear derived from nothing more than a dream.
Sighing in relief, I remained motionless, my eyes drawn to the vast forest off in the distance. It
surrounded the orphanage, like a gatekeeper, the leaves of the trees bristling in irritation. The
wind blew right through those tall structures, whistling, as my ears picked up the all too familiar

I somehow found myself standing directly in front of that very forest. My memory was hazy on
exactly how I got there but I recalled waking up, after one of my many dreams, to the feeling of
immense hunger as my body stirred in discomfort.

Then I was suddenly at the foot of the forest.

This was not me simply being hungry. I would almost describe it as a feeling of starvation, like
there was some essential component that my body missed. Whatever it was, this need was so
powerful that I was weak in the knees by the pain as my belly contracted and released, contracted
and released, continually. Food provided temporary relief for me, but there was always this
presence in the corner of my mind as my brain searched for the one thing my body craved.

I ignored that nagging voice in my head, the one whispering for something I was unaware that I
even needed. It was something unfathomable yet inherent. I paid it no attention and just openly
stared at the forest that beckoned me. The view distracted me for a moment, which was good, as
it temporarily calmed my stomach rumblings. Taking shallow breaths, the cool air blew in and
out between my cold, chapped lips.

It was at that exact moment I realized the forest was in fact isolating me from everything and
everyone outside of its confines. Almost like a hungry bird circling its prey. Even young, my
instincts picked up on that, which immediately told me something.

Eyes were watching me.

Release Blitz: Devour

Released Today:
Devour by Andrea Heltsley
Summary: He wasn’t supposed to remember. Callie is a royal vampire. She hunts by taking the blood from her victims and erases their memories afterwards. She goes undetected until a victim named Chase approaches her with all his memories intact. He is intrigued and attracted. She is terrified. What happens when a human mixes with the immortal world? Chaos. 
Callie’s 18th birthday has passed and she is coming out at the annual blood ball. Will she find a mate or will she suffer the repercussions of her indiscretion? She is brought to the Vampire council and they must decide what to do with Chase. Do they kill him, or turn him to protect their secret? 
Author Bio:
Andrea Heltsley
I’m a biologist turned writer. I write YA/NA paranormal romance books mainly. I’m the author of Devour and have several more books scheduled to come out later in 2013. I book blog for fun. I also have a strong addiction to caffeine and fruit snacks. You can find me in Tennessee with my husband and two Italian greyhounds.
If you ask anyone, I’m a total fangirl! I love the entertainment industry. I love Revenge and the Vampire Diaries on television. My favorite movies are Elektra and P.S. I Love You. I have a definite weakness for Tim Burton movies too. I’m beyond a huge fangirl for Shakira, both her English and Spanish music; Jack’s Mannequin comes in a close second. I have too many favorite authors to list, but Kelley Armstrong and Rachel Vincent are two of them. I’ve read all their books.
Present Day

I sit in the bed cross-legged and gently bang my head against the bars behind me. The sheets are
stiff and scratchy. The pillow is flat and the room is sparse. The only amenities accessible are a
bed and a small, basic bathroom. Fortunately, I don’t have to pee in public. That’s something, at

My hair feels stringier than usual and the desire to wash my face with something other than plain
soap is strong. It’s hard to believe how much I actually miss the normal creature comforts I’m so
accustomed to. I don’t think I’ll ever take them for granted again, if I live that is.

Things have gotten desperate. I never thought something like this could ever happen, let alone to
me. Due to the bizarre set of circumstances, I’m being held for possible treason. The thought that
anyone would ever purposely betray our kind is unthinkable and makes me shudder.

Then there’s the fact that this is dragging two royal families’ reputations through the mud. That
means I have practically ruined four council members in the process. I can’t help but be ashamed
of myself. It’s not really my fault, but that doesn’t change the situation.

Being royalty brings with it so many expectations to uphold, but being a teenage vampire is what
really sucks. Ha, ha sucks. Anyways, I digress. I close my eyes and let my mind take me back to
a time when things were simple, before him.

Don’t Fear the Reaper Tour

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Michelle Muto

Don't Fear the Reaper (Netherworld, #1)Published: September 23rd 2011
Publisher: Dreamscapes, Ink
Series: Netherworld #1
Page Count: 251
Synopsis: Grief-stricken by the murder of her twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her ticket to eternal peace and a chance to reunite with her sister. When Keely succeeds in taking her own life, she discovers death isn’t at all what she expected. Instead, she’s trapped in a netherworld on Earth and her only hope for reconnecting with her sister and navigating the afterlife is a bounty-hunting reaper and a sardonic, possibly unscrupulous, demon. But when the demon offers Keely her greatest temptation—revenge on her sister’s murderer—she must uncover his motives and determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, both reaper and demon are keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true—that her every decision will change how, and with whom, she spends eternity.

Author Bio:Michelle Mutto
Michelle Muto lives in northeast Georgia with her husband and two dogs. She loves changes of season, dogs, and all things geeky. Currently, she’s hard at work on her next book.
Chapter 9:

My mouth went dry. I was dead. Completely, irreversibly dead. If I needed a shot of reality, this was it.
Daniel glanced at me, the concern and softness seemed to have returned. Through some scrap of coherency, I nodded. Yes, I wanted to see it.
Tim pulled the drawer open, “The medical examiner will be here shortly. There’s an autopsy scheduled—drawer six, not you. Anyway, you’ve only got about five minutes, Keely.”
Daniel turned to me. “You okay with this?”
“I need to see,” I said, staring at the form draped under the sheet.
Daniel rested a hand on my arm. “You sure? You don’t look so well.”
I forced a smile. “I don’t look so well because I’m dead.”
He shook his head. “I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have come here.”
“I need to see, Daniel. I’m good. Really.” And I did need to see.
“Five minutes,” Tim reminded me. “Place the sheet over the body and slide the door shut when you’re done. We can’t have anyone walking in and finding the drawers open and you won’t be able to close them once the medical examiner arrives.”
I nodded. “Yeah. Sure. No problem.”
“Liar,” Daniel said. “You’re gonna make one hell of a demon, Sunshine.”
He and Tim walked through the doors, leaving me alone.
I walked toward drawer number nine, listening to the rapid breathing echoing in my ears, feeling the cold draft from the cooler raise the flesh on my skin. It felt like a horror movie. In the surrounding quiet, I heard my heartbeat spiking in my chest and my runaway imagination heard another, louder heartbeat from under the sheet. My hand extended in front of me and I watched as it pulled back the sheet.
This was where a horror flick derailed from real life. If this were some B movie, I’d scream as the body lying on the cold slab of drawer number nine opened its eyes. It wouldn’t be me, of course. It’d be the tortured and rotting body of my sister, the ligature marks around her neck caked with blood. The corpse would raise a broken, sheared finger at me, accusingly. It would tell me that I should have been with her, should have saved her.
But it was me.
Just me.
Despite the cold temperature of the morgue refrigerator, I could detect a slight, rank undercurrent of odor.
I stared at my body. I’d come all this way, run off from Banning to find my sister. But, now, as I stood alone in this chilly room, I had a chance to explain to my decaying corpse why I’d taken my life. How that’d help, I didn’t know. Maybe it was like some sort of obligation, some sort of letting go. Maybe that’s why everyone else had gathered outside. This wasn’t making peace with death, I wouldn’t go that far. But it felt close. Resignation?
I brushed a hand across the arm of my corpse. It was smooth and cold, the skin still pliable to my touch. I wanted to apologize for never having graduated high school, gone to college or gotten a real job—all the things Jordan and I had talked about. I wanted to say I was sorry that I’d never move to another city, get an apartment. The list appeared endless. I was sorry that I would never get married, get a house, a dog, have kids.
Grow old.
Instead, I’d grown cold. One of my eyes was open—just a slit. The once mossy iris had turned a fetid, milky green.
Me. Not me.
I withdrew my hand. I didn’t need to catch my reflection in the surrounding stainless steel drawers to know the body inside drawer number nine wasn’t me. Not anymore. I was only seeing the waxy remains of what used to be me. The cadaver shared the same dark brown hair, the same angled face, same high cheekbones. But I had nothing else in common with the stiffened corpse lying before me. Lividity had settled in, speckling the skin near my back. Had my sister visited her own body, sitting and taking stock of her former life? Of what should have been? Had it been easier for her to just come see my corpse?
I wondered if Jordan was glad to be free of her body after what her murderer had done to her. She’d been here, too—in one of these compartments. Drawer number nine? Eight? Wherever Jordan was at this moment, she wasn’t here.
The only thing here now was death and decay. The past.
I placed the sheet over the corpse’s face, slid the drawer back into the cooler, and
closed drawer number nine with a solitary click.

Teaser: Warm Bodies

It’s time for a teaser. This isn’t anything I’ve done before and I know there are more than one or two blogs out there who have a weekly feature, possibly even meme where the whole point is to entice their readers into picking up a certain book by including some form of teaser. I could go and search them out I guess, make this some kind of official Teaser post but in short, I don’t want this to become an occurring feature, only for those books that deserve it, that make me think “Oh my, you need to read this!”.

I’m writing this up after reading one chapter of Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, one chapter. That’s how much it grabbed my attention, ideally I’d still be reading right now but if I didn’t get this post scheduled now it would probably slip my mind.
Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1)
About the Author:(Taken from the book itself)
Isaac Marion was born in north-western Washington
in 1981 and has lived in and around Seattle he whole
life, working a variety of strange jobs like delivering
deathbeds to hospice patients and supervising
parental visits for foster-kids. He us not married, has
no children, and did not go to college or win any 
prizes. Warm Bodies is his first novel.
About the Book:
(Taken from Goodreads)
A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel. 
R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. 
Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.

I am dead, but it’s not so bad. I’ve learned to live with it. I’m sorry I can’t properly introduce myself, but I don’t have a name any more. Hardly any of us do. We loose them like car keys, forget them like anniversaries. Mine might have started with am “R”, but that’s all I have now. It’s funny because back when I was alive, I was always forgetting other people’s names. My friend “M” says the irony of being a zombie is that everything is funny, but you can’t smile, because your lips have rotted off.

So that is the first paragraph of the book, there is just something about it that really sucked me in and I loved it, I love Isaac Marion’s writing style and the whole concept of this book, not to mention that in the movie trailer they seem to have pinned it down perfectly too.

Tour Stop: The Weird Girls Excerpt & Giveaway

Author Bio:
Cecy Robson
Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is an author with Penguin’s SIGNET ECLIPSE. She attributes her passion for story-telling back to the rough New Jersey neighbourhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Her dad unwittingly encouraged Cecy’s creativity by kissing her goodnight wearing vampire fangs. Gifted and cursed with an over-active imagination, she began writing her Urban Fantasy Romance Series, Weird Girls, in May 2009. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella, debuts December 4, 2012 followed by SEALED WITH A CURSE, December 31, 2012, and A CURSE EMBRACED, July 2, 2013.

The Weird Girls (A Novella)
Published On: December 4th 2012

Synopsis: Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they’re products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird… 

The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option. Includes a preview of the first full-length novel in the Weird Girls series, Sealed with a Curse—as well as introductions to the Weird World, and a letter from the author.
Sealed with a Curse
Published On: December 31st 2012
Amazon: UK | US
Synospsis: Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they’re products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird… 
The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defense. Everyone knows vampires aren’t aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague? Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha’s family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy—or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it’s coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough.
Are you ready for the excerpt now? I really am! I’m actually typing this up a few months ago so whilst you’re reading this I will have had Sealed with a Curse on pre-order for over a month.
Sealed with a Curse
Chapter One
Sacramento, California
The courthouse doors crashed open as I led my three sisters into the large foyer. I didn’t mean to push so hard, but hell, I was mad and worried about being eaten. The cool spring breeze slapped at my back as I stepped inside, yet it did little to cool my temper or my nerves.
My nose scented the vampires before my eyes caught them emerging from the shadows. There were six of them, wearing dark suits, Ray-Bans, and obnoxious little grins. Two bolted the doors tight behind us, while the others frisked us for weapons.
I can’t believe we we’re in vampire court. So much for avoiding the perilous world of the supernatural.
Emme trembled beside me. She had every right to be scared. We were strong, but our combined abilities couldn’t trump a roomful of bloodsucking beasts. “Celia,” she whispered, her voice shaking. “Maybe we shouldn’t have come.”
Like we had a choice. “Just stay close to me, Emme.” My muscles tensed as the vampire’s hands swept the length of my body and through my long curls. I didn’t like him touching me, and neither did my inner tigress. My fingers itched with the need to protrude my claws.
When he finally released me, I stepped closer to Emme while I scanned the foyer for a possible escape route. Next to me, the vampire searching Taran got a little daring with his pat-down. But he was messing with the wrong sister.
“If you touch my ass one more time, fang boy, I swear to God I’ll light you on fire.” The vampire quickly removed his hands when a spark of blue flame ignited from Taran’s fingertips.
Shayna, conversely, flashed a lively smile when the vampire searching her found her toothpicks. Her grin widened when he returned her seemingly harmless little sticks, unaware of how deadly they were in her hands. “Thanks, dude.” She shoved the box back into the pocket of her slacks.
“They’re clear.” The guard grinned at Emme and licked his lips. “This way.” He motioned her to follow. Emme cowered. Taran showed no fear and plowed ahead. She tossed her dark, wavy hair and strutted into the courtroom like the diva she was, wearing a tiny white minidress that contrasted with her deep olive skin. I didn’t fail to notice the guards’ gazes glued to Taran’s shapely figure. Nor did I miss when their incisors lengthened, ready to bite.
I urged Emme and Shayna forward. “Go. I’ll watch your backs.” I whipped around to snarl at the guards. The vampires’ smiles faltered when they saw my fangs protrude. Like most beings, they probably didn’t know what I was, but they seemed to recognize I was potentially lethal, despite my petite frame.
I followed my sisters into the large courtroom. The place reminded me of a picture I’d seen of the Salem witch trials. Rows of dark wood pews lined the center aisle, and wide rustic planks comprised the floor. Unlike the photo I recalled, every window was boarded shut, and paintings of vampires hung on every inch of available wall space. One particular image epitomized the vampire stereotype perfectly. It showed a male vampire entwined with two naked women on a bed of roses and jewels. The women appeared completely enamored of the vampire, even while blood dripped from their necks.
The vampire spectators scrutinized us as we approached along the center aisle. Many had accessorized their expensive attire with diamond jewelry and watches that probably cost more than my car. Their glares told me they didn’t appreciate my cotton T-shirt, peasant skirt, and flip-flops. I was twenty-five years old; it’s not like I didn’t know how to dress. But, hell, other fabrics and shoes were way more expensive to replace when I changed into my other form.
I spotted our accuser as we stalked our way to the front of the assembly. Even in a courtroom crammed with young and sexy vampires, Misha Aleksandr stood out. His tall, muscular frame filled his fitted suit, and his long blond hair brushed against his shoulders. Death, it seemed, looked damn good. Yet it wasn’t his height or his wealth or even his striking features that captivated me. He possessed a fierce presence that commanded the room. Misha Aleksandr was a force to be reckoned with, but, strangely enough, so was I.
Misha had “requested” our presence in Sacramento after charging us with the murder of one of his family members. We had two choices: appear in court or be hunted for the rest of our lives. The whole situation sucked. We’d stayed hidden from the supernatural world for so long. Now not only had we been forced into the limelight, but we also faced the possibility of dying some twisted, Rob Zombie–inspired death.
Of course, God forbid that would make Taran shut her trap. She leaned in close to me. “Celia, how about I gather some magic-borne sunlight and fry these assholes?” she whispered in Spanish. 
A few of the vampires behind us muttered and hissed, causing uproar among the rest. If they didn’t like us before, they sure as hell hated us then.
Shayna laughed nervously, but maintained her perky demeanor. “I think some of them understand the lingo, dude.”
I recognized Taran’s desire to burn the vamps to blood and ash, but I didn’t agree with it. Conjuring such power would leave her drained and vulnerable, easy prey for the master vampires, who would be immune to her sunlight. Besides, we were already in trouble with one master for killing his keep. We didn’t need to be hunted by the entire leeching species.
The procession halted in a strangely wide-open area before a raised dais. There were no chairs or tables, nothing we could use as weapons against the judges or the angry mob amassed behind us.
My eyes focused on one of the boarded windows. The light honey-colored wood frame didn’t match the darker boards. I guessed the last defendant had tried to escape. Judging from the claw marks running from beneath the frame to where I stood, he, she, or it hadn’t made it.
I looked up from the deeply scratched floor to find Misha’s intense gaze on me. We locked eyes, predator to predator, neither of us the type to back down. You’re trying to intimidate the wrong gal, pretty boy. I don’t scare easily.
Shayna slapped her hand over her face and shook her head, her long black ponytail waving behind her. “For Pete’s sake, Celia, can’t you be a little friendlier?” She flashed Misha a grin that made her blue eyes sparkle. “How’s it going, dude?”
Shayna said “dude” a lot, ever since dating some idiot claiming to be a professional surfer. The term fit her sunny personality and eventually grew on us.
Misha didn’t appear taken by her charm. He eyed her as if she’d asked him to make her a garlic pizza in the shape of a cross. I laughed; I couldn’t help it. Leave it to Shayna to try to befriend the guy who’ll probably suck us dry by sundown.
At the sound of my chuckle, Misha regarded me slowly. His head tilted slightly as his full lips curved into a sensual smile. I would have preferred a vicious stare—I knew how to deal with those. For a moment, I thought he’d somehow made my clothes disappear and I was standing there like the bleeding hoochies in that awful painting.
The judges’ sudden arrival gave me an excuse to glance away. There were four, each wearing a formal robe of red velvet with an elaborate powdered wig. They were probably several centuries old, but like all vampires, they didn’t appear a day over thirty. Their splendor easily surpassed the beauty of any mere mortal. I guessed the whole “sucky, sucky, me love you all night” lifestyle paid off for them.
The judges regally assumed their places on the raised dais. Behind them hung a giant plasma screen, which appeared out of place in this century-old building. Did they plan to watch a movie while they decided how best to disembowel us?
A female judge motioned Misha forward with a Queen Elizabeth hand wave. A long, thick scar angled from the corner of her left jaw across her throat. Someone had tried to behead her. To scar a vampire like that, the culprit had likely used a gold blade reinforced with lethal magic. Apparently, even that blade hadn’t been enough. I gathered she commanded the fang-fest Parliament, since her marble nameplate read, CHIEF JUSTICE ANTOINETTE MALIKA. Judge Malika didn’t strike me as the warm and cuddly sort. Her lips pursed into a tight line and her elongating fangs locked over her lower lip. I only hoped she’d snacked before her arrival.
At a nod from Judge Malika, Misha began. “Members of the High Court, I thank you for your audience.” A Russian accent underscored his deep voice. “I hereby charge Celia, Taran, Shayna, and Emme Wird with the murder of my family member, David Geller.”
“Wird? More like Weird,” a vamp in the audience mumbled. The smaller vamp next to him adjusted his bow tie nervously when I snarled.
Oh, yeah, like we’ve never heard that before, jerk.
The sole male judge slapped a heavy leather-bound book on the long table and whipped out a feather quill. “Celia Wird. State your position.”
I exchanged glances with my sisters; they didn’t seem to know what Captain Pointy Teeth meant either. Taran shrugged. “Who gives a shit? Just say something.”
I waved a hand. “Um. Registered nurse?”
Judging by his “please don’t make me eat you before the proceedings” scowl, and the snickering behind us, I hadn’t provided him with the appropriate response.
He enunciated every word carefully and slowly so as to not further confuse my obviously feeble and inferior mind. “Position in the supernatural world.”
“We’ve tried to avoid your world.” I gave Taran the evil eye. “For the most part. But if you must know, I’m a tigress.”
“Weretigress,” he said as he wrote.
“I’m not a were,” I interjected defensively.
He huffed. “Can you change into a tigress or not?”
“Well, yes. But that doesn’t make me a were.”
The vamps behind us buzzed with feverish whispers while the judges’ eyes narrowed suspiciously. Not knowing what we were made them nervous. A nervous vamp was a dangerous vamp. And the room burst with them.
“What I mean is, unlike a were, I can change parts of my body without turning into my beast completely.” And unlike anything else on earth, I could also shift―disappear under and across solid ground and resurface unscathed. But they didn’t need to know that little tidbit. Nor did they need to know I couldn’t heal my injuries. If it weren’t for Emme’s unique ability to heal herself and others, my sisters and I would have died long ago.
“Fascinating,” he said in a way that clearly meant I wasn’t. The feather quill didn’t come with an eraser. And the judge obviously didn’t appreciate my making him mess up his book. He dipped his pen into his little inkwell and scribbled out what he’d just written before addressing Taran. “Taran Wird, position?”
“I can release magic into the forms of fire and lightning—”
“Very well, witch.” The vamp scrawled.
“I’m not a witch, asshole.”
The judge threw his plume on the table, agitated. Judge Malika fixed her frown on Taran. “What did you say?”
Nobody flashed a vixen grin better than Taran. “I said, ‘I’m not a witch. Ass. Hole.’”
Emme whimpered, ready to hurl from the stress. Shayna giggled and threw an arm around Taran. “She’s just kidding, dude!”
No. Taran didn’t kid. Hell, she didn’t even know any knock-knock jokes. She shrugged off Shayna, unwilling to back down. She wouldn’t listen to Shayna. But she would listen to me.
“Just answer the question, Taran.”
The muscles on Taran’s jaw tightened, but she did as I asked. “I make fire, light—”
“Fire-breather.” Captain Personality wrote quickly.
“I’m not a—”
He cut her off. “Shayna Wird?”
“Well, dude, I throw knives—”
“Knife thrower,” he said, ready to get this little meet-and-greet over and done with.
Shayna did throw knives. That was true. She could also transform pieces of wood into razor-sharp weapons and manipulate alloys. All she needed was metal somewhere on her body and a little focus. For her safety, though, “knife thrower” seemed less threatening.
“And you, Emme Wird?”
“Um. Ah. I can move things with my mind—”
“Gypsy,” the half-wit interpreted.
I supposed “telekinetic” was too big a word for this idiot. Then again, unlike typical telekinetics, Emme could do more than bend a few forks. I sighed. Tigress, fire-breather, knife thrower, and Gypsy. We sounded like the headliners for a freak show. All we needed was a bearded lady. I sighed. That’s what happens when you’re the bizarre products of a back-fired curse.
Misha glanced at us quickly before stepping forward once more. “I will present Mr. Hank Miller and Mr. Timothy Brown as witnesses—” Taran exhaled dramatically and twirled her hair like she was bored. Misha glared at her before finishing. “I do not doubt justice will be served.”
Judge Zhahara Nadim, who resembled more of an Egyptian queen than someone who should be stuffed into a powdered wig, surprised me by leering at Misha like she wanted his head for a lawn ornament. I didn’tknow what he’d done to piss her off; yet knowing we weren’t the only ones hated brought me a strange sense of comfort. She narrowed her eyes at Misha, like all predators do before they strike, and called forward someone named “Destiny.” I didn’t know Destiny, but I knew she was no vampire the moment she strutted onto the dais.
I tried to remain impassive. However, I really wanted to run away screaming. Short of sporting a few tails and some extra digits, Destiny was the freakiest thing I’d ever seen. Not only did she lack the allure all vampires possessed, but her fashion sense bordered on disastrous. She wore black patterned tights, white strappy sandals, and a hideous black-and-white polka-dot turtleneck. I guessed she sought to draw attention from her lime green zebra-print miniskirt. And, my God, her makeup was abominable. Black kohl outlined her bright fuchsia lips, and mint green shadow ringed her eyes.
“This is a perfect example of why I don’t wear makeup,” I told Taran.
Taran stepped forward with her hands on her hips. “How the hell is she a witness? I didn’t see her at the club that night! And Lord knows she would’ve stuck out.”
Emme trembled beside me. “Taran, please don’t get us killed!”
I gave my youngest sister’s hand a squeeze. “Steady, Emme.”
Judge Malika called Misha’s two witnesses forward. “Mr. Miller and Mr. Brown, which of you gentlemen would like to go first?”
Both “gentlemen” took one gander at Destiny and scrambled away from her. It was never a good sign when something scared a vampire. Hank, the bigger of the two vamps, shoved Tim forward.
“You may begin,” Judge Malika commanded. “Just concentrate on what you saw that night.
The four judges swiftly donned protective ear wear, like construction workers used, just as a guard flipped a switch next to the flat-screen. At first I thought the judges toyed with us. Even with heightened senses, how could they hear the testimony through those ridiculous ear guards? Before I could protest, Destiny enthusiastically approached Tim and grabbed his head. Tim’s immediate bloodcurdling screams caused the rest of us to cover our ears. Every hair on my body stood at attention. What freaked me out was he wasn’t the one on trial.
Emme’s fair freckled skin blanched so severely, I feared she’d pass out. Shayna stood frozen with her jaw open while Taran and I exchanged “oh, shit” glances. I was about to start the “let’s get the hell out of here” ball rolling when images from Tim’s mind appeared on the screen. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Complete with sound effects, we relived the night of David’s murder. Misha straightened when he saw David soar out of Taran’s window in flames, but otherwise he did not react. Nor did Misha blink when what remained of David burst into ashes on our lawn. Still, I sensed his fury. The image moved to a close-up of Hank’s shocked face and finished with the four of us scowling down at the blood and ash.
Destiny abruptly released the sobbing Tim, who collapsed on the floor. Mucus oozed from his nose and mouth. I didn’t even know vamps were capable of such body fluids.
At last, Taran finally seemed to understand the deep shittiness of our situation. “Son of a bitch,” she whispered.
Hank gawked at Tim before addressing the judges. “If it pleases the court, I swear on my honor I witnessed exactly what Tim Brown did about David Geller’s murder. My version would be of no further benefit.”
Malika shrugged indifferently. “Very well, you’re excused.” She turned toward us while Hank hurried back to his seat. “As you just saw, we have ways to expose the truth. Destiny is able to extract memories, but she cannot alter them. Likewise, during Destiny’s time with you, you will be unable to change what you saw. You’ll only review what has already come to pass.”
I frowned. “How do we know you’re telling us the truth?”
Malika peered down her nose at me. “What choice do you have? Now, which of you is first?”


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