TDOTN-C2-P3

“Roman…” Adham’s hand was on my shoulder, the room filled with nothing but smoke.

It swirled around Bryn’s face, tracing her in glowing grey until she looked like a ghost too. I thought I had gotten rid of my ghosts but maybe they were just lying in wait. Simmering coals waiting for more gasoline. But Bryn’s death wasn’t gasoline. It was an atomic bomb creating enough fire and destruction to fuel my demons for a lifetime. I didn’t want a lifetime without Bryn but I wasn’t going to destroy myself to get it. That’s something the old Roman would have done. He was the only one who was really dead.

She’s not…she’s not…

“I’m sorry, Roman.” Adham’s voice was barely a whisper and I realized that mine had been too.

I hung my head. “She’s not dead.”

“Okay…” The word was weak but it was also certain.

I looked up at him, searching his eyes for that certainty. What I found instead was…so much sadness.

I wondered if this would all be easier if Bryn and I had a relationship like Cole and Adham—one where she pretended she couldn’t stand the sight of me while I couldn’t stand to have her out of my sight. Adham loved Cole the same way I loved Bryn but there was some kind of…miserable magic in being loved back. He had never felt that; without it I wondered if he could ever feel something like this.

But then I remembered the way Bryn had looked at me as I’d carried in her corpse; the way she’d looked at me, through me, past me, every time I tried to talk to her. Then I realized that losing her wasn’t easier now that she was so far away. And that’s what that feeling was, my grief exponentially more agonizing because I hadn’t just lost her once. I’d lost her twice. And I was still losing her, inch by inch, second by second.

My ghost had sensed it, promising relief if I’d just let him out. If I’d just lose control. If I didn’t believe in even the slightest possibility that I could find a way to save her I would have let myself do just that. But even before Bryn and I had met in the real world she’d taught me to hope. Now that hope was all I had left. I wasn’t going to let death steal it from both of us.

“Let’s get you downstairs,” Adham said, trying to lead me back toward the hallway.

I was still steaming and I wiped my brow. “Adham…”

“What is it?” His hand was still on my arm, his grip reminding me of the roots of a tree. “Roman, everything is going to be okay.” He answered the question I’d so desperately asked Bryn, his words still and calm and sure.

I wanted to know how to be that still, that calm, that sure. I wasn’t sure if it was Adham’s religion—the one that believed we were some kind of divine creation—or maybe his mother’s meditations—the patient fuel he used to cast a safety net over Cole as he slept—that grounded him in every storm. But if I was going to keep my ghosts at bay I was going to need him to teach me how. That meant admitting that I was still being haunted at all.

I stared at Adham’s shoes. “I…think I need your help.”

TBC

 

*This excerpt is from a WIP and is subject to change*

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New Covers, New Prices, New Promises

The Girl In Between series is getting a total refresh with brand new covers that I’ll be debuting on the 31st!

This time around I worked with graphic designer, Najla Qamber, and I am IN LOVE with the updated designs she came up with. Collaborating with other independent contractors like cover designers and copy editors can be nerve wracking, especially when communication is one hundred percent electronic. But working with Najla has been such a breeze! I can’t wait to share the new covers with you, along with a boxset cover, and another SUPERAWESOMEBLOWYOURMIND surprise!

For those of you wanting an update on The Daughter of the Night, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that this final installment is going to be a very LONG and very emotionally turbulent ride. Did I mention long? With the advice of one of my critique partners I’ve decided to really flesh out one of the subplots, which means a lot more action with your favorite side characters–*spoiler* Dani and Felix will be getting their own chapters from their POVs–and a lot more Roman but that also means (and here’s the bad news) that I…probably still have about 30K words to write. From scratch. Revisions have been going well and the first 200 pages of the story are solid and ready to go but I’m going to need a little bit more time to focus on bringing these other threads to a close, the right way.

I want everyone to know that I appreciate your enthusiasm and also your extreme patience. I get messages almost every day asking for updates on the final book in the series and I’m so grateful that there are actually people out there who are that excited about this story. I remember when I was still invisible and no one cared what I was writing. But things have changed and I realize that I have a responsibility to my readers to pour everything I have into this finale, to take my time and tell it right.

With that said, pre-order links will be going up at the end of the month and then there will be a FINAL countdown to book four’s release.

One more thing–July will be the last month that The Boy in Her Dreams will be available for just $0.99. Starting in August the price will jump to $2.99 so if you haven’t bought a copy yet be sure to get it ASAP to take advantage of the low price.

I don’t usually experiment much with prices, and this is actually less of an experiment and more of a business decision. Keeping the prices of my books low has been key to me being able to build an audience for this series but I think it’s become obvious, to both me and the readers who have been anxiously waiting for this final book, that financial stability plays a much larger role in an author’s productivity than most people realize. I could have spent every day this summer working on finishing this series but instead I’ve been working on finishing a degree that will guarantee me a pay raise. It’s been a difficult thing to juggle but the truth is that even though I reached a point last year where I was able to quit my day job in order to finish school, I’m still not at a point where I could rely on my author income indefinitely. Especially with how unpredictable things can be. I learned that lesson the hard way when my car was totaled in an accident in February. I had very meticulously planned out all of my expenses from the day I quit my job at the library to a year later when I would, hopefully, start teaching. After my car accident, as well as several unexpected vet bills (my poor dog’s getting old) I realized that even though the money I make from books alone has been able to provide me with a very modest living, it’s not yet capable of covering all of the unexpected expenses that pop up along the way. Not having that peace of mind has been a real distraction in more ways than one, which is why I’m still splitting my focus between writing and…everything else. My hope is that one day that will change and I will be able to both write and teach on my own terms. Until then, I will continue writing in my free time…unless of course The Daughter of the Night ends up selling a million copies (*fingers crossed for that one*) and then I’ll have a much easier choice to make.

I know increasing the price of TBIHD to $2.99 doesn’t seem like it will make a huge difference but the change is also about more correctly valuing my work. Writing a book from start to finish is an incredibly difficult and time-consuming process and I have to believe in myself and my work enough to acknowledge that my book is worth every penny. I just no longer want to be paid in pennies…

Download The Boy in Her Dreams using the links below
*If you’ve already bought a copy, consider gifting one to a friend before the price goes up!*
AmazonSmashwordsScribdPage FoundryKoboBarnes & Noble & Itunes

Again, I want to thank everyone for being so supportive and understanding and patient with me during this time. I can’t wait to see you all at the finish line!

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TDOTN-C2-P2

“Let it out.”

At first his scowl didn’t register, his outline a smudge beneath misty eyes and sweat. And then the sweat pouring from my neck and hands began to freeze, each drop burning my skin like the hot end of a cigarette. The last time my past had haunted me I’d been searching the corridors of Anso’s prison for Bryn. My mother had stopped me with just the sound of her voice. She’d called me a killer. She’d told me that I should have died the night of the car accident. That it should have been me instead of Bryn…

She was right.

Not because she was real—I knew the vision I’d seen wasn’t my mother—but because the only reason I existed at all was to keep Bryn safe. And I’d failed. If anyone should have been lost in Anso’s destruction it should have been me doing what I was made for—protecting Bryn. With my last breath.

The second I thought the word, my ghost snatched the air from my lungs, forcing me to meet his eyes. “Let me out.”

Six months ago he’d pleaded with me to let him in. He’d pleaded with Carlisle too, taking on Cassie’s face and carving into his skin until he’d finally relented. For me there’d been no moment of surrender because the darkness wearing my face had been there all along. Still was if I dug deep enough into those parts of me I hated, that hated everything and everyone too. I couldn’t let him out. Not after what I almost did to Drew. Not after everything I’d done to my father. Not after ending Carlisle’s life. But I also wondered what would happen if I held him in. Would he claw his way out? Would he destroy me in the process?

My mind raced, memories yanking me back and forth between Drew’s blood quenching something awful in me and Carlisle’s floating body, black trailing from the gash I’d carved into his forehead. My heart yanked me somewhere else—to the fist I’d hurled in my father’s direction, to the hole in the wall that matched the one inside me, to the way my father had held me after I found out that Bryn had slipped into a coma. To the way he’d forgiven me before I’d even mustered the courage to tell him I was sorry.

My weight shifted and so did the walls, my ghost dragging me to Bryn’s bedside.

“No…” I strained from the sight, sick. “I—” don’t want to look. I can’t.

Something pinned my gaze, forcing my eyes to scale Bryn an inch at a time. The blood was barely drying near her lips, red still lining her fingernails where Dani and Celia’s scrubbing hadn’t reached.

“I’m…sorry…I’m…” This time there wasn’t a word strong enough for what I was feeling. It was probably on purpose, the human race deciding somewhere along the way that it was a hopelessness too dangerous to name. I was glad for it. I didn’t want to name this thing inside me. I didn’t want to make it real.

My ghost wrenched my face, blue fingers stinging my skin as he forced me to look closer. So close I could smell the memory of her skin. “Let it in.”

“No.”

Heat swirled at the base of my stomach, thickening until I felt like I was going to be sick. The smoke slithered up my throat, singeing my tongue. I clenched my jaw, fighting the flames that wanted to incinerate everything in sight.

“Let me in…” My reflection trembled and I thought he was about to disappear. But then I felt his cold breath against my face, more real than I’d ever felt him, and I realized he was pleading. “Don’t you want to be with her?” His words burrowed inside me, chipping away until I was an open wound. Until I wanted to say yes.

“No.” The word barely escaped before the eruption. My mouth unhinged, flames leaping out and strangling my ghost. But he didn’t flinch. The flames tore at his false flesh while he looked at me with the most miserable…pity.

TBC

 

*This excerpt is from a WIP and is subject to change*

The Daughter of the Night Sneak Preview #6

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TDOTN-C2-P1.png

I stood in the hallway, staring at Bryn through the half closed door, fighting with whether or not to follow her inside. I pressed my back to the wall instead, hanging my head as I absorbed Andre’s pacing footsteps.

I could practically hear Olivia’s heartbeat through the walls, her body wrapped in Andre’s coat in one of the guest rooms. I knew he was haunted by it, the sound like a ticking time bomb now that he had proof his Dreamer was really out there somewhere. He was lucky.

Lathan’s wife didn’t lie with the living. I stared down the hall at the closed door where Lathan had been all night. He’d carried Cora to the darkest corner of the house; curled up in a coffin for two. But his silence was nothing compared to the moment he’d found her among the fiery debris in Anso’s prison.

The Rogues had spent a lifetime searching for their soul mates, agonizing over every false lead, driven to destruction, hopeless. Lathan had been the one to drag so many of them out of their madness, giving them not just a home, but a reason to live. Then he’d vanished, Michael taking over their mission to find the Dreamers. And then they’d found them, flushed beneath the glow of Michael’s rage as he’d tried to set their sleeping bodies on fire. He’d been possessed by Anso’s shadows the whole time, the darkness feeding off his most desperate desire—to find his Dreamer, Darina.

I remembered the gasoline glistening against the Dreamers’ skin, any hope of saving them all, snuffed out the moment Michael ignited. It was too dangerous for me and the other Rogues to do the same, the gasoline ready to turn our flames into winding rivers. But then Bryn’s tears had turned to rain. Her thoughts turned to chains and she strung them around Michael’s throat. She stopped him. She…destroyed him while I watched a piece of her being destroyed too.

Once the ashes had settled and the rain had retreated, we carried the Dreamers out, one by one, to the beat of Lathan’s breaths. He’d screamed, whatever nightmares Anso had left behind skittering into every empty crevice, afraid of something even more powerful. Love. The sound…the look in Lathan’s eyes as he’d held Cora’s corpse in his arms—he’d made me afraid of it too.

But nothing made that fear more real than when I looked at Bryn. Because no matter how close I was, no matter how deeply I stared into her eyes, she wasn’t staring back. I love you. Please. I love you.

I wanted to say it. I wanted to scream it. Every time she stared right through me I wanted to scream.

TBC

 

*This excerpt is from a WIP and is subject to change*

The Daughter of the Night Sneak Preview #5

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TDOTN-C1-P4

When I stepped into the living room everyone was still on their feet, fighting gravity as much as they were exhaustion. Even Dani. She leaned on Felix, the parts of her that loved him still intact. Her face was pale; eyes bruised from the tears she’d left on my corpse. She looked cored, like whatever darkness Celia had ripped out of her was trying to slither its way back in.

Andre and Vogle looked on edge, narrowed eyes shifting from me to the front door where Shay stood guard outside, urging me to say something before the Dreamers realized they were confined to the porch because we were talking about them. We’d sequestered them when we started moving the bodies inside, afraid that one would catch a glimpse and think the worst. Or that they’d see their doppelganger in Andre’s arms and think that they’d been saved. Until they looked up close and saw the scars and the burns and the emptiness.

“They’re asking questions,” Andre said through tight lips.

“I know.”

“If we’re going to do this we have to do it now,” Vogle said. “Before they even realize what’s happening.”

The Dreamers were lit fuses and if I was going to take their dreams before successfully reuniting them with their bodies—living or not—then we had no other choice but to be careful with them, which meant that for the ones who were dead, we had no other choice but to lie. I didn’t know what would happen after I touched each Dreamer—to the ones who’d live; to the ones who’d die. It didn’t matter now. All that mattered was that we were running out of time. Now that I was awake, fully and truly awake, the cracks in the universe that Anso’s daughter had warned me about were only going to widen, letting dangerous things through. Nightmares. Unless I stopped them. Unless I woke every Dreamer the same way death had woken me.

“Who’s the most dangerous?” I asked, eyeing the window.

“There’s a girl out there,” Andre said, “belongs to the dead; claims she can solidify her skin, like metal scales or something.”

“Then we can’t spook her,” I said, nodding for Domingo to step outside and retrieve her. “I need her skin to be exposed or it won’t work.”

“Fan out,” Andre said, backing towards the stairs. “Cut off every opening.”

“You think she’ll run?” Felix asked as he pulled Dani behind him.

“Wouldn’t you?” Roman said.

“If someone was trying to steal my magical powers I’d do more than run,” Felix said.

Roman lit up, ready for a fight.

“Maybe it’ll be quick,” Dani said, cowering behind Felix.

“Yeah.” I tried to keep my voice steady. “Quick. Easy.” I took a deep breath, turned to Roman. “Cool off or she’ll get suspicious.”

The sun set beneath his skin, sparks dying near his fingertips. “You can do this.”

Through the curtains I could see Samson hanging his head back, laughing, while Magda was discreetly trying to peer inside. Another Dreamer sat on the bottom steps, hugging her knees, while the rest, strangers whose names I didn’t know yet, were whispering amongst themselves, talking about where they’d come from and who’d they’d left behind. Things I would know as soon as I touched them. That was the real reason I was so nervous.

I remembered chasing Eve through the trees behind Dr. Banz’s farmhouse, the shadows hunting us both in a nightmare of her father’s creation. He’d drugged me in the hope that I’d find Eve and I had. And then I’d touched her. I remembered the way her memories had rushed into me, the brush of my skin setting her free and confining her entire existence inside me at the same time. The same thing had happened the moment I’d touched Sam, all eight years of her life injected straight into my heart like a serum made of moonlight and laughter.

But the Dreamers outside and the Dreamers we’d yet to find weren’t all children. They were slaves or runaways or just afraid. The aftershock of their identities wouldn’t look or taste or sound like joy. Anso had already stolen that from them and all that would be left for me would be their nightmares. Every single one. I would watch and feel and live them all. Over and over until every Dreamer was awake or dead. Until I was finally neither.

“Bryn?” Roman’s voice jolted me. “Are you ready?”

Domingo shut the door before I could answer, the sound startling the girl too. The silence was artificial and too abrupt, heightening her senses.

She eyed us one by one. “If you wanted to see my parlor trick…all you had to do was ask.” Her arms grew scallops, hard and made of metal, the transition taking over the rest of her body in the blink of an eye. There was not one exposed surface for my hands.

“What’s everyone looking at me like that for?” Her face changed, confused, and she took a step back. “What’s going on here?”

“We…” I thought the lie would just fall out of me like the others but all I could think about was her body upstairs, limp and covered in burns.

“Did you find it?” Her voice was a sharp spike, frantic but full of attitude.

I knew she was talking about her body and it worried me how close the Dreamers’ theories had gotten to the truth.

“Yes,” I said, the feigned lightness in my voice the very thing that gave me away.

This girl wasn’t just made of armor. She was good at spotting others who were made of it too.

“Show it to me,” she hissed, the fear already manifest into tears.

I nodded, wracking my brain for a way to explain, to convince her that waking back into it was still a possibility. Because that was the only way she was going to let me touch her, taking the dreams that never belonged to her in the first place.

Andre carried her body into the living room, a line of Rogues blocking the windows—Vogle, Roman, Rafael and Domingo. Celia had wrapped it in a sheet, hiding the mark of flames that luckily hadn’t reached the girl’s face.

When the girl saw her body strewn there she couldn’t speak, every word resolved to air. I looked away before the sight of her could tie me in a knot. The moment I wished away the feeling it disappeared.

“Your name,” I said, trying to distract her, just long enough to expose an inch of skin.

Her breath caught as she registered my words. Suddenly whatever concentration had turned her into a human shield was broken, the metal scales turning back into flesh one at a time. She turned to me, fraught. “Devyn.”

“Devyn,” I repeated with as much gentleness as I could muster, “it’s going to be okay.”

She nodded or trembled but I could tell she was desperate to believe me. I approached her, stopping every time she tensed like prey. She could feel that’s what she was. I tried my hardest not to hunt, but to reach with my humanity instead, even though I could barely reach it myself.

“I need you to give me your hand,” I said.

It was still shielded but I knew if I could just get her close enough I could reach for her cheek or some other exposed part of her instead.

“Who…I don’t understand.” She glared. “What are you supposed to be?”

“Please, Devyn.”

She looked from me to her body, distressed. Her eyes widened as they settled over a charred scab barely visible along her hairline. “You’re going to try to put me back in there.” She barred her arms over her chest, sensing the death. “No, you won’t. You can’t.”

“It’s going to be okay.” I pleaded. “Trust me.”

She stopped moving and for one instant I thought I had her. But then she shed every bit of flesh, trading it for something unbreakable. She was a wrecking ball, running for the door, knocking over Celia’s coffee table and tea set, picture frames shattered as she tried to throw herself into something that wasn’t made of flames. But the Rogues were alight, sending sparks across her metallic surface.

“Let me go! It’s dead. I’m dead. You’re all liars!”

As Devyn screamed, the voices outside grew hushed. She went hurling towards the old wooden piano that sat in the corner but all I had to do was think the word silence and it was thrust out like a wave. The quiet was tangible, like a sharp breeze that started from the floorboards and soared up. I saw the shimmer like heat as it rounded over us, the sound of the breaking piano keys, of Devyn’s cries, of her landing with a thud among the debris swallowed up into nothing.

She startled, crawling onto her feet and searching for the sound as if it was something she could see. She screamed. Silence. She hurled a table lamp in my direction and I caught it. My eyes flicked to Roman, just for a second, and then he lunged for her, sprawling her onto her back as I climbed on top of them both. She thrashed, spitting at me, the horror behind her eyes making me dizzy. They were blue, the ocean churning beneath each iris. She blinked back tears, a muffled scream raging up her throat, and then I plunged my finger into her right eye.

She was still; we both were, wild static pouring out of her and into me.

I tasted it first, flames licking the tip of my tongue before filling me like a wave, roiling and rising. I wondered if she could feel it too; if I was hurting her worse than the hole I’d dug into her skull. Even if I was, it felt too good to stop. Whatever I was taking from her felt good and it made me feel strong. On fire. Awake. Alive. For the first time since finding my corpse I felt alive.

The moment I let go, the taste lingered like an electric charge, and as I stared down at her body, registering the blood and the limp pieces of her that were still writhing in agony, all I wanted was more.

TBC

 

*This excerpt is from a WIP and is subject to change*

The Daughter of the Night Sneak Preview #4

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