North: The Lycans by Suzanne Fuller
Riley Olssen is a born and bred Lycan who lives in the quiet suburbs of Valdez, Alaska. Her life is simple: she goes to school, comes home, and shifts in the forest behind her home. When her father receives word that his brother has died, they must return to his home in Sweden to take care of the pack Davin left behind.
Soon after they arrive, Riley realizes there is much more to the small town than she'd ever expected. She discovers that the Lycans are not the only creatures to hide behind a human façade. Falling in love with the wrong Lycan is only one of the problems she encounters. In one day, her life is forever changed, and she must discover her own inner strength because all signs seem to point to a war heading her way.
Ramona Salazar watched the pathetic humans in blue close the iron shutters, wrap a steel padlock around the hooks, and sit down at their desks with their cheap coffee and tiny screens. She sneered at the way they relaxed in their seats, flirting with each other. They were guards, supposedly.
They know nothing of the world! I could show them a thing or two about protection and loyalty.
They were entirely unaware of her presence above them, in the air duct. Ramona was inside the National British Museum, and had something very, very old to collect from the archives. She'd searched far and wide, been to over a dozen countries looking for these documents. Now she was close enough to feel their presence.
She pulled her black hood forward around her red hair and pale face, then slid the grate over. As silent as the night, she dropped to the marble floor. Her hooded cloak helped cushion her landing, as she rolled into the shadows. One of the guards— a marginally overweight male—snapped his head up, and looked directly at her. She closed her eyes, knowing their crimson glow would surely give her away.
"Did you hear something?" he asked the girl.
"No, and didn’t see nothing either," she told him.
His co-worker's words didn't seem to settle him, because when Ramona opened her eyes the guard stood up and wrapped his fingers around the flashlight on his belt.
Idiot, hasn't he heard that curiosity killed the cat?
Ramona pulled the hood across her cheek, allowing herself another quick glance his way. He had stepped around the desk and made his way down the darkened corridor towards her, each step carefully placed in front of the other.
Here puss, puss. Come to mami…
She turned, still draped in the thick black wool of her cape and slid the diamond blade from her hip. It shimmered in her hand. She waited until he was close.
Closer… Closer still…
"Hello?" he called into the dark, waving the beam of light erratically across her path. Still he did not see her. She almost had to laugh because it was so easy. He took the final step, the one she'd been waiting for. She turned, her hair a wild blaze in his face as she brought the blade up, slicing into his throat. She wrapped her small gloved hands around his head and dropped down to the floor, clutching his lifeless body. The flashlight rolled across the tiles, but there wasn't time to stop it. She wrapped him in her cloak, slid the blade out and pressed her lips to the wound.
His blood was bitter, and it came in great floods, but no matter how foul it tasted, Ramona drank until his body gave no more. She pulled away, wiped her bloodied mouth against her sleeve, and pressed her forefinger into the wound. It came away coated in crimson fluid. She ran it down the middle of her forehead, across her throat and rubbed it deep into a triangular scar on her wrist. It seeped into the grooves, wrapping around the edges of her skin. Her eyes burned with murderous intent and her vision became as crimson as the seeping wound on the man's neck.
"Dan?" The girl called out from around the corner. "Daniel? Are you all right? You better not be messing with me!"
"Wake up," Ramona said, kicking Daniel's foot. He twitched and his eyes flashed open. His mouth was slack and his soulless eyes looked to Ramona for guidance. "Your friend is waiting for you," she whispered. He snapped his head around, almost severing it as he stretched the skin over the wound, and looked at the girl.
"There you are!" She gasped in relief as she spotted him and stepped out from the desk. Ramona stayed within the shadows and watched. "Your coffee's getting cold and… Oh my god!" She screamed and dropped next to him. She pressed her shaking hands against his neck, tears streaming from her eyes and called out, "Help! Someone help!"
Accepted: The Shalean Moon, Book 3 by J. Lilley
Andy is Shalean and in love with a human, but had no idea how to make such a relationship work.
Sam has no idea that Shalea exists, only that he is fed up waiting for Andy to make the first move. Overjoyed to find his feelings reciprocated Sam starts seeing strange things.
Something is afoot and Andy seems right in the middle of it.
What Sam discovers rocks him to the core. But he is determined to fight for their chance of happiness. Human he may be, but as long as Andy wants him, they can face anything, can't they?
Sam was whistling as he left the school buildings. At last he'd decided to ask Andy straight out to go to The Cave with him. And he'd agreed—almost.
He'd admired and yes, fancied him for months, years, he amended silently. Ever since he'd accepted he was gay he'd known Andy was the one for him, recognized him as the one person he could be himself with. But Andy, macho, rugby playing Andy, had always seemed somewhat aloof. Friendly up to a point, helpful, chatty, but always keeping part of himself hidden.
Then within the last few weeks, Sam has sensed a change in Andy. Almost he thought, as if he had made peace with himself. He'd become more open about his sexuality, actually saying out loud to a crowd of classmates that yes of course he was gay, and so what? And then winked at Sam!
So, nothing ventured, and all that. So he'd ventured, and now, well, way to go, I've got a date —almost. Hopefully Andy would confirm it the following day.
And if he doesn't? Not even going to think about that.
Typical, trust me to leave the car in the furthest corner of the car park. And it's raining and shit…what? No way… no bloody way.
Sam blinked. Nothing. But he's bet his next try at rugby there'd been a fox in front of him. But what a fox. If that's what it was. Silver, and…nah, had to be a dog. You're losing it. The thought of going out with Andy, and you're losing it. Gotta be a dog.
As he got into his car and drove away, he could have sworn he'd seen eyes glinting at him from the bushes. But these eyes were not the color of a fox, or most dogs for that matter. Big bright, piercing blue, like the flash of light from a glacier on a summer's day, they stared at him. He blinked.
Nothing. Just the rain on the windscreen, the wipers passing monotonously over it.
A person on the pavement caught his eye and he pulled up, and opened the window.
"Hi Aibhlinn isn't it? It's Sam. Sam McIlwain, I'm in your class. Do you want a lift anywhere? You're getting soaked."
The person turned, and looked at him, the hood of her coat slipping as she moved , uncovering her long pale hair. As she stared, her eyes seemed to go straight through him, and Sam shivered. Then she spoke, the soft Scottish accent refreshing, and as she spoke she smiled, and her face lit up.
"That’s kind, but no need, my mum will be here in a second. I'm just walking to meet her at the corner."
In the rain?
"Well do you want me to drop you off there?" he asked. She looked cold, and the rain was spiking her hair, darkening it; drops running down her face and onto her coat.
Then her eyes flashed, frosty and unfriendly. Gone was the seemingly friendly girl of a few seconds before. Instead now there was a stranger. One who was looking through him.
And again, weird. Those eyes!
"No thank you." She didn't even smile but walked on.
Okay, here's your hat what's the hurry. Mentally shrugging, he put his car in gear, pulled up the handbrake and…where the hell has she gone?
Death’s Melody: The Ringer’s Masquerade by Sarah J. Pepper
A fate worse than death…
All of Catherine’s dreams ended with her progenitor’s sacrifice and the loss of her beloved. Surrounded by a scornful family and friendships built upon lies, she’s never felt more alone. The Ringer denies her plea to be an organ donor yet monitors her relentlessly. She is unable to live a life free of the hospital’s control. Her future unravels as disturbing questions arise and hidden lies surface. However, what’s even more troubling than the Ringer’s dangerous secrets are the torturous punishments they deliver to those who defy them.
Sitting utterly still in front of the piano, Sebastian's dark eyes hinted at dangerous thoughts. He clenched his jaw. Every finger slammed down on the keys, creating a dreadful crashing echo throughout the room. His gaze never left mine as he stood, knocking over the bench. His chest didn't rise or fall as the rest of the world melted away until only he and I existed. When he finally breathed, it came out in a deep sharp exhale.
Desire paralyzed me. He walked haltingly across the room. His slow, calculated movements warned me that he was going out of his mind. The deranged look in his eyes stole the air from my lungs. Blinking wasn't an option. When he got within touching distance, he ran his hand through his hair.
Finally, he managed to speak, "If you keep looking at me like that I'll bloody—"
"Lose control," I finished for him while making my demand clear.
He closed his eyes as he dragged his fingers through the cowlick over his eyebrow. My impatience nearly drove me into his arms, but he opened his eyes seconds before I gave in. Taking the slightest step forward, he smirked, clearly enjoying the sight of me struggling. He leaned over me, his face close enough to kiss me. Instead he exhaled ever so slightly while a moan grew in his throat. It hit my neck, trickled down my chest, and stole my breath. Our bodies never touched. Every muscle flexed like it was painful for him not to wrap me in his arms.
I dug my fingernails into my palms as he tucked back a strand of my hair, careful not to touch my skin. I bit my lip as the warmth radiated off his hand. His mesmerizing blue eyes never looked as stunning—or consuming—as when he was frantic. Finally he slid his hand around the base of my neck and held me there. He teased me within an inch of my sanity. I hadn't even noticed his other hand venturing behind my back until he tightened his grip around my waist.
His lips barely grazed mine, but before he indulged in a kiss, he whispered hoarsely. "One day you'll admit the ironclad notion that I've already accepted."
"What am I in denial about?" I questioned.
"How much your soul yearns for mine," he said, and gently bit my lip.
Staring at my hands, I played the memory over and over. At the time it hadn't seemed like a turning point in our relationship. But it was. I'd let him see how frantic the mere sight of him made me, how his music lured me, how his charisma lit a fire in my soul. How his passion seized my heart. He gave me a taste of a life, of a world I never dreamed of yet had craved ever since. Thinking about it now I wished I had allowed myself to simply be with him—without distractions or limitations. Without a death sentence. Time was precious. I thought I'd understood it then.
United: The Shalean Moon, Book 4 by J. Lilley
When Shalea is in trouble can one halfling and one witch save the day?
When the leaders of The Shalean Sept go missing, Troy and Ali need all their combined skills to find out what's going on. Troy is only half Shalean and part witch, and Ali is a full witch, but is that enough?
As they fight to combat the evil, help comes from an unexpected source.
Aibhlinn has secrets of her own, secrets that could destroy her. However she is determined to aid her new-found friends. Will her intervention be a help or a hindrance? Only time will tell in this fight for life or death.
"No sense or odd words projected to you?" she asked, as the car bumped along the drive to the house. "No feeling of well, badness or..." She hesitated, but it had to be said. "Death?"
Behind her, she heard a gasp. Rach spoke loudly. "No, no, and no. Surely one of us would have felt it, if someone was dead." She paused and then asked, uncertainty clouding her voice, "Wouldn't we?"
Troy answered. "I don't know, Rach. Truthfully, I've no idea. You and I are only half Shalean, Leira's in Cadal. So would we get that? We all heard a shot, but only Ali felt it hit. None of us know who shot, who or what was shot, where, or why. Just that it was important, as far as I know." He drew the car to a halt, and switched the engine off.
"Wait until I get out, keep together, and if you feel anything, and I mean anything is off, say so. Even if you think you're being stupid. Say something."
Ali nodded, realized he probably couldn't see her in the darkness, and spoke firmly. "On my oath Troy." She moved her hand and felt the reassuring leather around her neck, and then a gentle pulsing from her token. Like a heartbeat, it enveloped her, reassured her and gave her courage and strength.
"I think I felt the shot because I'm a healer," she said suddenly convinced of the fact. "I...well, hell it's hard to explain. I sort of get inside whoever is ill, heal them if the gods are willing, from the inside out. Grr, that must sound stupid." She didn't know how to explain her gifts simply. "No more stupid than me saying I shift from human to leopard," Rach said. "And I think I sort of get what you mean. Does that mean you don't think whoever was shot is dead?"
Did it? Ali tried to reach insider herself, to see what she knew. All she could see was blackness. Thick, impenetrable, and cold. She shivered. "I don't know. I'll need time to clear my mind."
Troy walked around the car and opened her door, waiting while they all got out. "Remember," he cautioned. "Stay all together until we get inside, and watch out."
Leira giggled. "Troy we're exactly three feet away from the door. If you've parked any closer we'd be in the hall."
The security light came on over the door. In its orange glow, he looked sheepish. "Yeah, well. Anyway. Come on, let's go in."
He opened the door and Leira and Rach went inside. As Ali moved forward, Troy took her arm.
"Before we go in, seriously, babe, are you okay?"
Ali looked up at him, and moved closer. Maybe she should show him? She decided not to; there was too much happening and they needed to concentrate on the shooting rather than themselves. She contented herself with a quick hug.
"Of course I am. Just freaked at snake-face being where you should be."
Troy smiled; he seemed relieved.
Suddenly, his face changed. Gone were the tan, the smile, and the earring. It became younger, smaller, and malevolent. The eyes glittered, the smile became a sneer, and the Aussie twang disappeared.
"Better get used to it—babe." The affectionate name Troy used sounded harsh in someone else's voice.
This time she didn't freak. She got mad. Ali stared at the person beside her.
"If you don't butt out and bog off, I'm going to turn you into a snake," she said loudly. "Or a toad. Or even better, an ant. And you can spend all your time hoping no one stands on you. Now you're boring me." What should she do next? It was all well and good saying these things, but she had no idea if she could actually do any of it. Ali took her gifts responsibly, and apart for a few sessions when she was young of getting her dolls to walk and the dog to speak, hadn't meddled or messed with them.
"Did you hear me?" She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"I heard you babe, but what've I done to deserve that?" She felt a hand on her shoulder. "Troy?" Ali opened her eyes. "Hell, Troy. Don't do that to me. Stop becoming Struan, it's got me trying to remember morphing spells."
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