Monday, October 23, 2017

RELEASE BLITZ - Missing From Me by Jayne Frost




Title: Missing From Me
Series: Sixth Street Bands #3
Author: Jayne Frost
Genre: New Adult
Release Date: October 23, 2017



Blurb

SEAN

Four years ago I made an unforgivable mistake. And Anna was the price. I thought I’d forget her. Thought I’d move on. But who was I kidding? No amount of drumming could drown out my love for her.

When I see here again, backstage after one of our shows, it's clear: Anna's mine. She’ll always be mine. 

One mistake. Four years of regret. Is there such thing as a second chance?

ANNA

When Sean Hudson walked out of my life, he shattered me. Broke me in untold ways. And when I saw him again, I did the only thing I could: I ran. 

Sean is the past. And I can't survive his brand of hurt ever again. 





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Excerpt

Chapter One

4 YEARS AGO

Sean
 
The front door slammed, shaking the walls in our small apartment. I snuggled closer to Anna’s side and buried my face in her hair.
Logan’s agitated voice cut through the fog of near sleep.
“Dude, wake up!”
Whatever mess my best friend had gotten himself into, he’d have to solve it on his own. This was one of Anna’s rare mornings off, and since we’d had the apartment to ourselves, we’d stayed up late, listening to the rain and having lazy sex until we’d passed out.
Smiling at the thought of a repeat, I grumbled in Logan’s general direction, “Go away. I don’t have any condoms. Carry your ass to the store like a normal person and leave us alone.”
His footsteps echoed in the tiny room, and then he was beside me, his long fingers digging into my shoulder as he gave me a hard shake. “I’m serious. Get up.” 
Not happening.
A frustrated groan escaped my lips when Anna twisted in my arms. She propped herself up on one elbow, wiping the sleep from her eyes. “What do you need, Lo?”
A swift kick in the ass.
Rolling onto my back, I smothered my face with the pillow, hoping he’d get the hint. Of course, he didn’t. 
Cursing under his breath, Logan rooted around under the comforter. 
“Hey!” I snarled, tossing the pillow at him. “Whatever you’re looking for, I don’t have it.” 
Running an agitated hand through his blond hair, Logan glared at me. 
“Where’s your remote?” Anxiety laced his tone when I didn’t answer right away. “For the TV, douchebag—where’s the remote?” 
Anna fumbled around on the nightstand and then handed him the clunky device. “What’s wrong with the TV in your room?”
Logan walked to the end of the bed and took a seat.
Anna sat up, scowling. “Make it quick.” She slumped against the headboard, glaring at the back of Logan’s head. “Seriously, Lo, hurry up. I have to pee.” 
Logan ignored her, all his attention focused on the screen as he flipped through the channels. His shoulders sagged when he reached CNN. 
Cable News? Now he had my attention. The only things Logan ever watched were MTV, VH1, or the Cartoon Network. 
I popped up to see what was so important, but something told me I didn’t want to know. “What’s going on?”
“Quiet,” Logan whispered.
Buttoning my lip, I reluctantly focused on the screen where a stone-faced commentator stood in a field, fat droplets of rain pelting her microphone. 
“…live footage from the scene of the tragic accident outside of Fredericksburg, Texas this morning where two members of the super-group Damaged lost their lives in a fiery crash. At this point, we’re unable to confirm the identities of the deceased. Damaged, arguably the hottest band in the country, just completed a series of shows in the Southwest and...”
The camera panned out for a wide-angle shot. Wisps of smoke rose from the wreckage, dissolving into the gray morning sky. 
A gasp from Anna. “Oh my God.” 
She crumbled against me, her small hand curving around my waist as she buried her face in my chest. Unable to make sense of what I was seeing, I stroked her hair with numb fingers. 
After a few moments of stunned silence, Logan jumped to his feet. “What the fuck is she smiling about?”
Confused, I blinked at him. “Who?” 
“The fucking reporter.” He pointed at the TV with a shaky hand. “What the hell is she grinning for?”
I shifted my gaze back to the screen, and sure as shit, the reporter was smiling. Just a slight upturn of her glossy lips. 
I tightened my grip on my girl. “It’s her job, man. She doesn’t...” Emotion clogged my throat, and I struggled for breath. For words. “She doesn’t know them.”
But then, neither did we. Not really. Damaged hailed from Austin, our hometown. And over the last five years, as their star ascended, our paths had crossed on occasion.
Our band, Caged, was one of the many groups on Sixth Street that loosely followed the Damaged blueprint. Since high school, we’d been playing the same bars where Damaged got their start, hoping a little of their magic would rub off.
The news report abruptly cut to KVUE, the local ABC affiliate. Terri Gruca, the nighttime anchor, sat stoically behind the half-lit desk, her co-anchor nowhere in sight. 
“Thank you, Sandy.” Terri blinked into the camera. “We’ve just got word at the studio that Rhenn Grayson, lead singer for the Grammy winning band Damaged, and Paige Dawson, lead guitarist, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on Highway 290 this morning.” She looked down at the copy wobbling in her shaking hand. “Rhenn’s wife, singer Tori Grayson, and drummer, Miles Cooper, were airlifted to Brackenridge Hospital via Care Flight. According to band manager, Taryn Ayers, Mrs. Grayson and Mr. Cooper are both in critical condition. The bus driver was also pronounced dead at the crash site.” Still photos of Rhenn and Paige appeared on a split screen in the background behind Terri’s head. “Our prayers go out to the families. After a brief commercial break, we’ll cut to the CNN studio for further updates on this tragedy and a look back at the lives of these two gifted musicians.”
My head pounded as a commercial for toaster strudel flickered across the screen. Smiling faces and cheery voices, touting the virtue of strawberry jam tucked inside a fluffy pastry shell. Somewhere, people were probably eating that shit. 
But not Rhenn or Paige. 
“They were twenty-four years old,” Logan murmured.
As he turned to face me, questions clouded his arctic blue eyes. The same questions I’d seen every day since the first time we met. About death, and why it visited some while leaving others alone. Death was what brought Logan and me together, after all. Our shared bond. Two kids whose mothers would never sit at the long table in Mrs. Varner’s classroom handing out cookies. Because our mothers had “passed.” 
That’s the polite term people used when someone died. The same folks made sure to tell you they were “sorry for your loss.” 
Which I always found funny, since my mother wasn’t lost. She was dead. 
Rhenn’s voice boomed from the speaker on the worn-out TV. Smiling his most iconic smile, he stood back to back with Paige as he crooned the band’s latest hit.
I leaned forward to drink it all in. Because that’s all that was left now, bits of light and shadow caught on tape.
Slithering from my loose hold, Anna stumbled to her feet. “I’ve got to pee.” 
Before she got away, I swung my legs over the side of the bed and then slipped my arms around her waist to pull her between my knees.
Resting my forehead against her chest, I breathed deeply, her peach scent soothing me like a balm. “I love you, Anna-baby.” 
She sifted her fingers through my hair until I stopped shaking, and then kissed the top of my head. “Love you too.” 
Reluctantly, I let her go, and she retreated into the tiny bathroom. Through the paper-thin walls, I heard her crying softly. 
When she returned, her face splotchy and her eyes glistening with leftover tears, I gave her a soft smile and lifted the covers so she could crawl in beside me. 
An hour later and we still hadn’t moved, like if we stayed here, it wouldn’t be real.
But it was. 



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Author Bio


Jayne Frost, author of the Sixth Street Bands Romance Series, grew up in California with a dream of moving to Seattle to become a rock star. When the grunge thing didn’t work out (she never even made it to the Washington border) Jayne set her sights on Austin, Texas. After quickly becoming immersed in the Sixth Street Music scene…and discovering she couldn’t actually sing, Jayne decided to do the next best thing—write kick ass romances about hot rockstars and the women that steal their hearts. 

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Release Promotion - Wolf Hollow by Nikki Jefford

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A REBELLIOUS OUTCAST  

Cocky. Coy. Wolf shifter. Tabor is the hollow’s only half-breed, scorned and forbidden to use his powers. Constantly overlooked despite his strengths, Tabor believes Sasha is as shortsighted as the rest of the pack until she proves there’s more to her than a blindly obedient lapdog to the council.  

A DUTIFUL PUREBLOOD  

Spirited, stubborn, and deeply loyal, Sasha feels the pressure from her pack to claim another pureblood, yet no one is brazen enough to defy the elders and toy with her . . . no one besides a sexy, hotheaded half-breed.  

AN ATTRACTION THAT THREATENS THE FUTURE OF THE PACK 

 Bewildered by the deceptively proud and surprisingly sensual Sasha, Tabor would risk everything to claim her. Despite her vanishing bloodline, Sasha can’t resist the charismatic half-breed even as predators threaten their pack and the elders pressure her to breed with a pureblood. In a fantastical post-apocalyptic world, where only the strongest survive, sometimes trusting the heart is the bravest act of all.
 
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Nikki Jefford is a third-generation Alaskan now living in the Pacific Northwest with her French husband and their Westie, Cosmo. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys nature, hiking, and motorcycling. Nikki is the author of the Wolf Hollow Shifters series, Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter, and the Spellbound Trilogy.
 
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COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY - Muse by Nina Auril




Title: Muse
Author: Nina Auril
Genre: New Adult
Cover Design: PopKitty Designs
Release Date: November 17, 2017



Blurb

The Artist

Things I should have done:
Kept my dick in my pants.
Stayed away from my adorable little roommate.
Kept my mouth and hands, off of said roommate.
Concentrate on my upcoming exhibition and prove my parents wrong.
That’s what I SHOULD have done, but now everything is a mess and the thing I thought I wanted most in the world has been replaced by an adorable little brunette who refuses to even speak to me.

The Muse

Things I should not have done:
Get distracted from my goals.
Get close to my cocky roommate and his sexy smirk.
Let his mouth and his hands anywhere near me.
Be seduced from the kind of life I always wanted; quiet, ordered and alone.
That’s what I should NOT have done, but now everything is a mess and the things I thought I wanted most in life has been replaced by a cocky boy who shattered my heart beyond repair.
 





Excerpt

“What about this one?” I tap on the neatly typed out notice stuck to the board.
“Urgent! Roommate needed to share utilities and rent,” he starts reading the notice. “The ideal candidate will be a consensus, quiet, and tidy individual who is serious about their studies. One month’s rent and deposit must be available immediately.” He looks at me with a raised eyebrow. “Are you serious? This sounds nothing like you. What does con.. conshen.. consensus even mean?”
“Conscientious, you idiot. It’s just another word for serious. Which is exactly what I need to be. Besides, none of the other numbers I called would even give me the time of day once they heard my name and the only other one I haven’t tried is the one looking for an ‘open-minded male who is not allergic to latex.’”
I dial the number listed on the notice and shoot up a quick prayer to whatever is listening that this person doesn’t have a social media account and has never heard the name Coyer Brant.
“Hello? This is Abby. ” Great, it’s a girl. I was hoping for a dude.   
“Hey, Abby. I’m calling about the room for rent. Is it still available?” I pinch my thumb inside my fist as I wait for her answer. There’s a crashing sound in the background and a mumbled sound that sounds a lot like ‘oh shizzle’ before her voice comes back into the speaker.
“YES!” I’m a little taken aback by her loud reply and consider my chances with latex. “I mean, yes. Who is this, please?”
“This is Brant.”
“Brant? Um…” I sigh and prepare myself for the phone to go dead in my ear. “Do you have money for the rent and deposit?” I fist pump the air. Things are looking up. She doesn’t seem to recognize my name and she is obviously desperate for the money if that’s her first question. With a little more luck I’ll be able to convince this girl I’m both conscientious AND studious and my ass will have a bed to sleep in before the week is over.
“Yes, I have it.”
“Are you weird?”
“Excuse me?” I wasn’t expecting that question.
“Are you weird? Do you have any strange fetishes and/or a creepy fascination with red jell-o? Do you need to keep your underwear in the fridge or have a collection of dead rat’s tails? Do you have anything against windows or enjoy the taste of blood?”
What the fuck?
“Er,” I rub the back of my head and try and think of a reply. Would these things count for or against me?
“It’s just that I have had some weird calls about the ad and I would very much like to finish my degree with both kidneys intact.”
“Oh!” Thank God. “Yes. I mean no. I happen to very much like windows and jell-o, but to a completely normal degree. I can’t stand the sight of blood and my underwear is kept in my drawers.” I let out a small laugh. That last bit was punny.
“When can you come and see the room?” She doesn’t seem to be impressed with my joke at all.
“Whenever.”
“I have class in an hour. Can you come now?”
After I agree she rattles off an address that’s just off campus and I head over.

It’s a great looking place. A big well-kept Victorian looking place surrounded by trees. And most importantly – away from all the fraternities and parties. The fewer temptations I come in contact with, the better. I press my thumb to the intercom and wait for Abby to answer. There’s no answer. I’m beginning to think I have the wrong address and look down at my phone to find the address I typed in earlier. Yes, it’s right. I press the buzzer again, this time I hold it in for longer than is probably necessary.
“Hello?”
“Hi it’s Brant.”
“OK, come on up. Third floor on the right.” There’s a buzzing noise and then the door springs open. I take the steps two at a time. I turn right and knock on the door.
The door opens but not all the way and a set of eyes peek out to inspect me from head to toe.
“Can I see your student ID?”
I frown at the set of eyes still peeking from the crack in the door. Am I dealing with a paranoid agoraphobic here? But I straighten my face and reach for my wallet to show her my ID.
“It says your name is Coyer?”
“It’s Coyer Brant Alexander-Marshall III. Brant just sounds better.”
The door is ripped open and I’m met with an incredulous face wrapped in a halo of loose brown curls.
“You thought Brant sounded better?!” The incredulous face now has her lip curled up in confusion, but all I can think of are all my good intentions. And how they just crashed and burned.





Author Bio


A new secret author duo team up under the pseudonym, Nina Auril. They bonded over their love for ‘maybe’ bad boys, offbeat and colorful females, and a desperate need to stand out from a crowd. Having spent so much time with each other, they finally decided to collaborate and create something amazing to write the kind of stories they want to read.  Nina Auril can’t be categorized, and will surprise you at every turn but promise to get your lady bits tingling every time.


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Cover Reveal: The Wounded Heart by KD Worth

Title: The Wounded Heart
Series: The Grim Life #2
Author: K.D. Worth
Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance
Release Date: December 12, 2017 

Dating is tough… especially when you’re dead.
Teenage reapers Max and Kody are ready for their afterlife to settle down. But their boss, the mysterious Slade, fears that spirits stuck in limbo have taken an interest in Kody. Which means the spirits’ evil counterparts—the wraiths—can’t be far behind.
Max would be livid if he found out Kody was still checking up on his family, but Kody’s mother and sister are struggling after his death. Though it breaks all the reaper rules and may put him in danger, Kody wants to help them. Unfortunately, the wraiths have found a doorway to the land of the living, bringing death and destruction with them. Max and Kody hope to stop them before anyone gets hurt, but they may not be strong enough.
Through devastating losses, an ominous prophecy, and a new destiny revealed, Max and Kody must find a way to trust and accept each other. Their enemies are powerful, but there’s a single force they cannot stand against—love.


“Jeremy,” I began patiently, heart still racing. Forcing a deep breath and finding power from somewhere I didn’t know I possessed, I fixed all my concentration on him. “You died. You know that, right?”

He darted a look at the accident. No, no, this can’t be happening.
The car I heard earlier had finally arrived at the scene. A woman exited, phone to her ear. But her frantic voice faded into the night as the three of us moved farther away from the human realm.
“But I’m not…,” he began.
“No,” I said firmly. “I’m sorry, but there are no buts. Only facts. You died in a car accident, and I’m here to help you get to heaven.”
The man stared at me for a full moment. “Heaven?” he whispered. “I get to go… even after everything I did?”
I smiled, my kinship stronger to this man than I expected. Hadn’t I uttered similar sentiments after my death?
“You’re only human, Jeremy,” I assured him, wanting him to have the hope Max had given me. “We all make mistakes. But God doesn’t hold grudges like humans do. He is love, mercy, and kindness. Of course you’re going to heaven.”
“Really?”
Still out of breath, I managed to smile. “Yes, really.”
I held out my hand and he took it.
Revitalized by his cooperation, I created a wooden door in the road.
I still couldn’t get over the fact that I could actually do magic. Obsessed with Harry Potter as a kid, when I realized I would never get a letter from Hogwarts, I’d turned to magic tricks with cards and sleight of hand. But as a supernatural being, I could conjure doors, turn on the lights with my mind, and even teleport—just like a wizard!
While magic was awesome at first, as I led Jeremy to the door, I realized something had been taken from me after giving him the Touch. Magic might be cool, but the real-world application of it took more out of me than when Max and I had practiced.
Funny, but no one had bothered to tell me that tidbit in training.
The accident had all but faded away, but swirling shapes of the road were still distinguishable, as if we were under water staring up at the surface. The door and the three of us were the only things in crisp focus.
“It will all be okay now, Jeremy,” I told him as I opened the door. On the other side, a white light blinded us for a moment. When our eyes adjusted, I gestured him forward. “It’s time.”
“Are you sure?” he asked in a childlike whisper.
Smiling, I nodded. “Trust me.”
Taking a deep breath, the man walked through.
Relief washed over me and I sighed, some of the tension leaving my body. Jeremy obviously had a lot of dragons to slay, but I had faith he would find the truth in his death he’d been unable to find in life. But it would be a long journey, because dying didn’t change a person, or magically fix them.
Heck, I was the same neurotic kid I’d always been.
Being dead wasn’t exactly how I thought it would be. Though I don’t really know what I’d imagined it to be like. An end to the sadness, the guilt? A chance to start over, unsullied and washed clean? Maybe. Maybe not. But death had been on my mind a lot when I’d been living.
In fact, I tried to kill myself twice. Once at a camp designed to “fix” me, and the other while I was in college.
The second time, Max had been the reaper assigned to take me to heaven.
Instead of letting me end my life, he’d saved me.
Now, he and I work as reapers, escorting people through the pearly gates to meet the Big Guy. And yeah, I mean God. You know? The One who created everything around us. Not everyone believed, but He’s as real as it gets.
When I’d been alive, my entire existence had felt like a disappointment to God, my family, and everyone else I cared about. How could I be gay and a Christian, I used to ask myself. Was there a way to reconcile those two things? I would never deny God’s existence and that I love Him. But I couldn’t ignore who I was on the inside either. I’d grown so emotionally and physically drained from the inner struggle, the never-ending debate in my head, that death had seemed like an easier option than choosing one side over the other.
Thankfully Max had helped me to see these two sides to me could coexist. And every day that passed I grew closer to believing him.
Once sure Jeremy was safely where he was supposed to be, I closed the door. The light and door vanished in an instant, leaving Max and I standing in the street. I felt as if I could breathe easier, some of my energy restored.
That was different,” he observed.
“What?”
“Being all super intuitive that his wife left him. Telling him he was going to heaven.” He shook his head, perplexed. “How did you make the door?”
“Um, Heather told me she walks people through a door. I thought this guy would like that.”
Max put his arm around my waist, his warm touch bolstering me. “You amaze me.”
“Why?” I fidgeted. Had I done something wrong? “Wasn’t I supposed to make the door?”
“No, that’s fine. It’s just your kindness that never ceases to amaze me.”
Sighing, I brought his shorter body in for a much-needed hug. “Thanks.”
I placed my chin on top of his head, relaxing in his embrace. His positive energy helped ease some of my exhaustion. I always felt better when Max touched me. So warm and wonderful. Reapers were cold, but Max was so warm that he made me feel warm inside every time he hugged me, almost like being alive again.
He pulled back to look up at me. “Are you okay? You seemed kinda weird when you gave him the Touch.”
I cocked my head to the side. “Did I not do something right?”
“No, you did everything perfect. Like a real pro. You just seemed….” He studied me a moment. “Off,” he eventually said.
I averted my gaze. “This crossover was a lot harder than my first one.”
Max shrugged. “It was a shocking death. Of course it was gonna be harder. Wait till you reap a little kid. Those really hit you hard.”
My stomach dropped. I hoped I never had one of those cases.
“You ready to go home?” he asked, stepping back.
Reluctantly, I let him go and sighed. “Definitely.”
Now I understood why Slade had only given me one assignment per shift. Helping people cross over was very draining, both physically and mentally. Louie had been much easier because he’d lived his life to the fullest and was eager to rejoin his deceased wife. No wonder Jeremy’s resistance had taken a toll on me. Though I knew instinctively he wouldn’t have become a shade, apparently the harder a spirit clung to the mortal realm, the more a reaper had to give of themselves in order to be successful.
But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong.
I’d have to get out my books and study some more so I could be as good as Max. I didn’t want to disappoint him or Slade.
Max teleported both of us back to the reaper base, rematerializing us in the large library. The vast room overflowed with ancient tomes, edicts, and stories about reapers from the past. Max and I agreed an upgrade with Google would’ve made the whole process of my training more efficient, but neither of us wanted to suggest it to Slade.
I smiled at Max. “I’ll never get tired of traveling that way.”
“I know. Teleporting is so cool.”
Exhausted, I stepped away and reached for a chair to sit down.
Face bright with intrigue, Max pulled on my hand before I could sit. “No sitting down now. I wanna show you what I found yesterday.”
“Do I wanna see it?”
“Yes, you totally wanna see this,” he assured me.
We’d spent the greater part of the past three months in this library while Max taught me how to be a reaper, and he completed his punishment for interfering in my death—writing “I will never disobey the rules of being a reaper” eleven thousand times on a chalkboard. Eventually, once I’d picked up all the nuances and the things my new spirit form could do, we left the library for practical lessons. The day we started teleporting around the office had been my favorite, but the real honor had come when Slade presented me with my very own opal—the stone that helped us separate a soul from its body, then open a way to heaven. Any spare time Max found apart from training and writing lines, he’d spent researching shades and their evil counterparts—wraiths.
“Is it about wraiths?” I asked, suppressing a shiver.
Max gave me a quick, albeit guilty smile. “Kinda sorta.”
Knowing I wouldn’t win until he showed me what had gotten him so excited, I relented and let him drag me to the farthest corner of the library, but my feet were dragging. “Kinda sorta isn’t an answer, Max.”
“I found something about shades, not wraiths, so kinda sorta is an answer,” Max countered.
I scoffed.
Shades were lost souls that couldn’t, or wouldn’t pass over to heaven when they died.
If it weren’t for Max, I would’ve become a shade.
My guilt and refusal to forgive myself would’ve kept me tied to the mortal realm, and that’s why he’d broken the rules to save my life. I would forever be grateful because living as a shade had to be horrific. Tormented by unfinished business, they were stuck between worlds, endlessly trying to fix the unrepairable. Unfortunately, by refusing to let a reaper help them cross over, a spirit chose that life of punishment over one of peace. That was the real hell, not the one I’d learned about in church.
Sometimes a shade regretted their choice.
We’d recently learned a shade could enter a human body when its spirit departed because the corpse still had enough electrical current to be reanimated.
The moment a shade chose that type of existence, they become a wraith.
The addiction to being almost-alive was the allure, but the host body eventually decayed and the shade ended right back where they started—stuck in limbo, or purgatory as some call it. The dark twisted entities always needed new “vessels.” They walked among the living in reanimated corpses, searching for the dying and even killing humans before their time in order to get one.
Talk about a real-life zombie apocalypse.
“Check this out,” Max began, leaving my side.
The instant he released my hand, I almost grabbed for it back, but Max hurried out of reach and wheeled out the large whiteboard he’d hidden behind an old bookshelf. Though the risk of discovery was minimal, neither of us thought it wise to let the others see it. One of our fellow reapers, Jake, browsed the bookshelves sometimes, but more often than not, the only one besides us who spent much time in the library was Herman the cat.
Post-its and scribbled notes covered the whiteboard. Anything he’d learned about shades, wraiths, and limbo. Plus a whole lot of questions about our boss, Slade.
Slade gave us reapers our assignments, and he got his orders directly from God. Despite his nonstereotypical appearance, Slade had to be a higher being than us humans-turned-reapers. I imagined him to be an angel of some sort, though he’d never clarified exactly what sort. While I called him an angel, I didn’t mean a chubby cherub or a glorious savior with a white robe, wings, and a halo. He was a big, blond, tattooed biker-dude, often seen toting a crossbow or a sword.
Pulling out a chair and plopping down heavily at the small library table, I noticed a new note written in blue and circled several times.
“I keep meeting shades on the battlefield. They’re everywhere. Slade called it an ‘epidemic’ and said it’s getting harder to control purgatory, but he won’t tell us why.”—Ed Carter, 1921.
I pointed at the new entry. “Where did you read that?”
Smiling, he wheeled out the library cart with all the books he’d amassed and chose a dusty green one from the top. “That’s what I wanted to show you.” He took the seat next to me. “This belonged to Ed Carter. He was an eighteen-year-old who died in World War I and used to be on Slade’s team. I think we would’ve liked him a lot.”
Intrigued, I leaned in to examine the journal Max placed on the table in front of us. “So this is his diary?”
“Yeah.” Max wore a huge grin. “And you’ll never guess what?”
“What?”
“He was gay too!”
“Really?”
“Yeah,” Max continued excitedly. “When his boyfriend died in a farming accident, Ed lied about his age and joined the Army Air Corps in 1917. That’s what they used to call the Air Force. He was only seventeen but he became a fighter pilot! Isn’t that cool?”
“Yeah, that’s pretty cool. I could barely handle my homework when I was seventeen.”
“Right?” Max sounded awed by this former reaper. “Anyway, he was kinda like me, I guess, never satisfied with the answers Slade gave him about stuff. Slade kept secrets even back then,” he went on with a twinge of annoyance.
Slade and Max had an ongoing battle of wills, Max always pressing him for information and Slade always evading answers by posing more questions. It was highly entertaining when I wasn’t the topic of said discussions.
“Ed had lots of run-ins with shades because he worked the battlefields in Europe,” Max went on excitedly. “The soldiers weren’t ready to leave because they were so young.”
A deep swell of pity filled me. “Those poor men. Can you imagine being in a war at our age?”
“Well,” Max began, attention still on the journal as he flipped pages. “That wraith did tell me there was a war coming. Maybe we won’t have to imagine much longer.”
I suppressed a shiver.
Two wraiths had confronted Max the night we met. One of them had been waiting for my body when I’d been on the bridge—thank God I hadn’t witnessed that! Also unbeknownst to me, they’d followed us. Max fought them off with a lightning power he hadn’t been able to duplicate since, no matter how much he practiced. And during the eight months Max believed me to be dead—I’d been sorting out some things in limbo with our boss Slade, and time moved slower there—wraiths had followed Max every time he entered the human realm.
I was glad they hadn’t done so on our first two trips out to reap souls.
Max pointed to an entry dated August 4, 1920. “This is the first time one of his charges refused to go with him to heaven.”
I sat up straighter, intrigued. “What does he say? Does he describe them?”

Max told me wraiths looked like black, faceless shadow beings, and until Slade explained the difference, he’d assumed those wraiths in the diner were shades. Both of us wondered what shades looked like, and if they had any resemblance to dead spirits or if they too changed into something else.

  Max shrugged. “Here, this is what he wrote: Today I delivered the Touch to a man my age, perhaps a year or two older—one could not be considered a boy after what we have seen. I stopped asking Slade long ago how old my charges were, for it has become quite depressing to me. His name is Eugene and he was yet another victim of a landmine, panicked and afraid like the others. But even as his legs reappeared and the chaos of the battle faded around us, he would not come with me. He saw the door but would not enter. He ran back into the battle, searching for someone named Karl. I cannot condone my failure, and guilt and agony gnaw at my insides. My poor Eugene. What will become of you?”

“That’s awful.” The powerful need to help souls get to heaven was ingrained deep within a reaper. I couldn’t fathom how I would feel if I had to face a similar situation.
“Can you imagine?” Max’s face scrunched up. “Trying to reap souls during a battle? Totally nuts. But he never says anything about what Eugene looked like, other than the thing about his legs, so I’m gonna assume he didn’t change much. Maybe that only happens after they become wraiths?”
Not as excited about this gay reaper as I had been, I pushed my chair back, feeling the weight of more than just a loss of energy from the crossover. This whole topic might intrigue Max, but I hated talking about it.
The day I became a reaper, Slade had said, “Kody has a purpose. He has from the beginning. Just took me a bit to figure out what it was. For now, he’s gonna be a reaper.”
For now.
Those words always made my guts knot. I had a purpose? Like what? Max seemed to think it had to do with the unique circumstances of my death. And though the wraiths had continued to follow Max, they had only confronted him the once—when I was with him. Something he was wont to remind me of. He also speculated I might have to help him fight these wraiths one day. But the mere idea of a spirit reanimating a corpse frightened me with thoughts of zombies eating brains and I wanted nothing to do with any of it. Apparently, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. “Kody?” Max placed a hand on my arm, startling me from my thoughts. I forced a smile. “Yeah?” “You okay? You kinda zoned on me for a sec.” “Um,” I began, standing up fast. The movement made my vision spin a little. “I just remembered I gotta do something for Slade.” “Like what?” Max said, scrutinizing me in a way that made me wonder if he could read my mind. I didn’t think he could, not the way we could hear our charges thinking or Slade heard our thoughts. But Max was a highly intuitive guy, making it difficult to keep him away from the things I didn’t want to bother him with. If he knew everything that was going on, he would be so upset. “Nothing big. I don’t wanna bore you.” I stepped out of his reach, bracing myself on the chair. Though Max’s constant warmth had revived me, I didn’t have the energy to stay and listen. I didn’t need another night of pacing my bedroom for hours—a habit Max knew nothing about—worrying about my future afterlife. He raised his brows. “You feeling okay?” Forcing a smile, I stood straighter. Pretending and hiding had been skills I perfected a long time ago. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just gonna go lie down. Helping people cross over takes a lot out of me.” “It does?” “Yeah, I’ll just go to my room.” “I thought you had to do something for Slade.” “Yeah, but I can do that afterward,” I said quickly. “You have fun with Ed.” He assessed me for a moment, then smiled. “Okay, I’ll catch you later. Maybe I’ll bring his journal and we can read some more together.” “I’d like that.” “You sure you’re okay?” “Never better.” When he turned back to the journal, my stomach knotted. Lying to my boyfriend had become a habit I didn’t know how to stop.
K.D. Worth has always considered herself to have the heart of a teenager with an old soul. When not talking to the characters living in her head, she loves to hang out at her favorite townie bar, then go dancing and partying with her husband and friends. There is always music playing in her home, and if it’s too loud, you’re too old! On the flip side, K.D. enjoys spending time in her vegetable garden, canning the food she grows, and making homemade jams and jellies. She also is known to crochet washcloths and blankets for her closest friends and smiles when they tease her for her “grandmotherly” ways. These two different sides to her personality create a layered tapestry of life experience that brings depth and believability to the characters she writes. She loves to hear from her fans almost as much as she loves her cocker spaniels. You can find her on Facebook or get updates about upcoming books on her website.

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