Epiphany by Christina Jean Michaels
Publication date: July, 2013
Genre: NA/17+ Romantic Suspense
“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.
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.
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.
What inspired you to write Epiphany?
I'd been playing around with the idea of writing a novel for years. Actually, I'd written fan fiction for a long time, which was how I ended up hearing about National Novel Writing Month. I signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2008, never believing I'd actually write 50,000 words, and I used anything and everything for inspiration--from the people I saw on Halloween night to the crazy customers that would come into the convenience store where I worked. I plotted in my head during downtime and loaded up on 5-Hour energy shots after work in order to crank out those words. I don't think there's any one thing that inspired me to write the book, though NaNoWriMo definitely played a part in helping me to get it going.
How did you come up with the title?
I have no idea, but I like the different contextual meanings. She's psychic, and there are a slew of secrets that come out in the story, so I thought it fit.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some things in Epiphany are very loosely based on real life. They planted the seed, but ultimately Epiphany became its own story entirely. I can relate to Mac when she wakes from a nightmare because I've had night terrors since I was a child. Thankfully, I don't have the burden of psychic power to add to it!
What books have most influenced your life most?
I couldn't get my hands on enough Sweet Valley High books when I was a teenager. When I switched to adult fiction, I was introduced to Sandra Brown, and later Nora Roberts. I'm a romance junkie--always have been. I think Roberts is excellent at romance, and Brown has amazing talent for really twisted plots.
More recently, I've really enjoyed new adult and even dark erotica. Kitty Thomas is my favorite in the dark erotica genre.
What book are you reading now?
At the moment, I'm not reading anything as I've been too busy, but I finished reading Unbreak Me by Lexi Ryan a couple of weeks ago. That book was AMAZING! Phew! I can't even describe the level of twisted my insides became at reading it, and I'm talking twisted in a good way. ;)
What are your current projects?
Currently, I'm in a writing slump. I have a dark erotica project I started a few months ago that I plan to publish under my other pen name, and I also need to begin writing the next book in the Legacy of Payne series. Right now, I'm spinning ideas in my head, which is my equivalent of early outlining. What I really need to do is sit down and write, NaNoWriMo style.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Epiphany?
There's always going to be something that I find imperfect, and I do wish I'd found a way to work in one more tiny clue, but overall, I'm really happy with the way Epiphany turned out.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I became an obsessed reader at age 13. My mom and I were homeless for a while, and I latched on to reading as a means of escape. About a year later I realized I could play God and write about my own characters.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My OCD need to constantly edit. It really gets in the way of writing rough draft copy. If I could overcome this, I know I could finish projects a lot sooner. Ridiculously sooner!
Who designed your book cover?
I designed it. Working with digital art is another passion of mine. When I need a break from writing, I'll switch over to making book covers and web graphics.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finishing it. I had a mental block when it came to Epiphany. Looking back now, I can't believe it took me that long to write the ending.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Take the time to learn from others. I work shopped Epiphany online, and as a result I feel my writing is better for it. Epiphany is a better story for it. I also made some wonderful friends. A good critique partner is invaluable--I can't stress that enough.
If you could be one of your characters, who would you chose?
This is a difficult question, as I like to torture my characters! I'd like to be in Mac's shoes for one night--or out of them because she'd be naked and between the sheets with Aidan on that night, lol.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks for your interest in Epiphany! I hope you enjoy the story. I'd also like to extend a thank-you to the bloggers for hosting me!
Something inside me cracked right along with Aidan’s expression. Everything he’d been hiding spilled from his eyes.
“Aidan . . .”
“I need a drink.” He strode away, leaving me glued to the spot where he’d trapped me. A crash resounded from the kitchen, followed by splintering glass. I willed my feet to move, ignoring the little voice of reason pointing out that maybe I should leave him be for now.
He was sweeping broken glass into a dustpan when I walked in. “Are you okay?” Instantly, I wished I could cast a net and pull back the stupid, inconsiderate question. Of course he wasn’t okay. “I’m sorry. I know you’re not . . . okay.”
“Don’t worry about it. I know what you meant.” He emptied the dustpan into the trashcan and then opened a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, all the while refusing to meet my eyes.
“Mind sharing?” I asked. If there was ever a time for drinking, it was now.
“I thought you were beyond corruptible.”
I recalled how he’d said something similar on Halloween. “You remember more about that night than you let on, don’t you?”
He pulled two tumblers from a dark cherry wood cabinet. “I remember you.” Amber liquid sloshed into both glasses as he poured, and a moment later he closed the distance between us. “Straight up?” The question sounded like a challenge.
“Sure.” I gulped down the whiskey and ignored the burn as it slid down my throat. Heat ignited low in my belly, though whether from the alcohol or Aidan’s scrutiny, I wasn’t sure.
He leaned against the kitchen sink and finished off his own drink before pouring another. “I’m sorry I blew up on you. I didn’t come here to make friends . . . to complicate things.”
“I’m a complication?”
His laughter was empty, cold as a morgue. “You’re about as complicated as they come.”
I stared at the bottom of my glass. “Why’s that?”
“You look at me as if you see right through me. It’s unsettling.”
“I don’t mean to unsettle you.”
“Consider me unsettled. Problem is, I think you’re using more than eyesight.”
Grand Prize Giveaway
25$ Amazon GC + a signed copy of Epiphany (INTL)