Monday, October 31, 2011

M. Leighton The Reaping and The Reckoning

Happy Halloween! In celebration of Halloween and how much I love Michelle Leighton's books I am having a contest where you could win a copy of The Reaping and The Reckoning. I am giving away four sets of her series. So everyday this week I will have a guest character from the series on. So without further ado let me introduce to you........


I felt the tears come. I didn’t try to stop them. Didn’t even really want to. Hopelessness opened up in front of me like the earth had—in big, jagged cracks that threatened to swallow me up. All the heartbreaking ups and downs about Derek, all the anguish of losing souls, all the stress of leading two very distinct lives, all the emotional turmoil and trauma of the previous months—it had worn me down, and now I had been slapped in the face with the biggest let down of all. I had been mistaken. I hadn’t felt Derek. He wasn’t somehow buried beneath the soil. He was nowhere, nowhere that I could find anyway. One girl with the world on her shoulders and no one to help her was too much for me. I couldn’t be that girl. I wasn’t strong enough and it had taken drastic events to prove it. But I felt like no one was in doubt of it anymore—not me, not God, not Grey, not Fahl. The secret was out. I wasn’t enough. Period.


The single whisper was nearly carried away on the soft breeze. But not completely. It was just enough to tease my ears. I might’ve been inclined to think I’d imagined it if my soul hadn’t heard it much more clearly.

My heart swelled inside my chest, soaking up love and recognition like a sea sponge soaking up the nourishment of the water. I knew that voice, even though it was barely identifiable. I knew it deep down. I felt it flutter across my skin like a caress. I felt it flow through my veins like liquid fire. I felt it soothe my raw nerves like a conditioning balm. How had I ever mistaken another voice for his? How could I ever have been so blind? How could I let my mind trick my body into believing what never was?
I heard scuffling sounds from behind me. I didn’t have the strength to turn over, but I could imagine someone crawling out of a huge crevasse, scraping and clawing their way to the top. I had but to add a little detail to be able to picture Derek doing exactly that. I could almost see the muscles in his long, tan arms straining as he pulled himself up. I could almost see the smudges of dirt on his perfect face. I could almost see the sweat breaking out on his smooth brow.

And then I was being pulled gently into those strong arms and crushed against a wide chest. I couldn’t lift my hands to wrap them around the thick neck, but it was enough that my face was buried in it. His scent flooded my nose, his skin pressed against my lips, his warmth permeated my clothes. I’d never realized until that moment how much Derek completed me.

Every hell has its devil. And Carson is about to become intimately acquainted with hers.

Seventeen-year-old wallflower Carson Porter has always dreamed of being something special, but what she gets isn’t what she signed up for.

Yeah, a girl’s supposed to change as she gets older, but this is ridiculous! Shiny skin, greener eyes and a run-in with the flesh-eating dead are just a few of the changes Carson has to adjust to, not to mention the arrival of very hot and very dangerous Derek Hrolf. If all that wasn’t enough to turn her once hum-drum life into something unrecognizable, a twin sister that haunts her from the shadows and a wheeling, dealing collector of souls will definitely do the trick. The question is: what will her life become? And what will she become?

Carson Porter thought she’d had one of her most challenging years to date when she began her transformation into a reaper, but little did she know her battle had only just begun.

Faced with changes in her boyfriend, Derek, the fear of her sister being able to steal her powers through mirrors and having to fight her every step of the way to rescue even one soul, Carson is ready to throw in the towel. Only she can’t. During a visit from an angel, Carson learns that her destiny is far more important than even she realized—and far more deadly. Can she dig deep within herself for the strength and the perseverance that she’ll need to carry out her mission? And will she have to do so without Derek or can she recover the man she’d once loved so desperately? Find out in the exciting conclusion of the Fahllen series, The Reckoning.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Darkspell By Elizabeth Mueller

Darkspell's Launch Spook Fest!!!!!!!!!!!

♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥ award winning author

Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?

YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell releases Halloween 2011!

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . . until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.

As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magickal realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

Will love prove thicker than magick?

Click on the link to view my review of this FANTASTIC book:

Elizabeth's links:


Here is a sneak peek...........

Chapter 1: my dream

He knew I was here, the place where I dreamed.
Every night he watched me. Every night he fell in love with me. Every night he lost the courage to speak with me.
How could he earn my trust? He never knew how enchanting I could be. No idea at all. Spell or not, he was going to do it, he was going to tell me how he felt.
I didn’t see him as I danced, my arms raised to the moon as I twirled. He swallowed hard, his hands trembling. With slow lazy movements, he wandered over.
“Winter,” the breeze whispered through his lips. My scent of lilac reached him and he closed his eyes.
I froze, my hair rippling in the breeze. My gaze flew wide and I darted behind a willow, my heart pounding fiercely.
He found me easily enough, a dark shape behind the hypnotic ripple of woven leaves. As he materialized behind me, he smiled. I was as graceful as the tree, my golden hair tumbling to my waist. He lifted his hand, anxious to feel its silkiness in his touch. Not yet . . . He did not want to frighten me.
I spun around and faced him, my lips a surprised “O”.
He tensed under my stunned gaze. The gentle wind kissed his skin and the dancing willow limbs sung a lullaby. Too dazed to care, I basked under his inspection as he did mine: he believed my features fragile, as if sculpted by a capable artist . . . and my lips. His breath caught, he longed to feel their smoothness as he thought of an elliptical sunset, warm and inviting.
He knew my hopes, dreams, and desires.
“It’s you,” I said, my voice gentle, musical, his aura one that I’ve felt before, but couldn’t quite pinpoint where.
He met my stare beneath moon-gilded lashes, and found recognition. He lowered his eyelids, his arms gentle upon my waist as he led me in slow circles. A dance with nothing but night air to hold us.
I sighed; my eagerness reeled him in and he obeyed—his mouth angled down to mine.

So what are you waiting for! Go out and order Darkspell's Amazon link :

And as a special treat I am giving away a signed copy to one lucky winner. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and good luck to the winner! This contest is open to The USA Only, sorry internationals!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something Witchy This Way Comes by Veronica Blade Review and Contest

Something Witchy This Way Comes by Veronica Blade

Title: Something Witchy This Way Comes
Author: Veronica Blade
Series: Standalone Book
Release Date: September 03, 2011
Source: Amazon
Check Veronica out on her blog at

Blurb: Brainiac Tessa McClean’s newly discovered magical powers give her hope of an escape from her inadequate life. But the thrill of being a witch fades when she learns of a rival coven and begins to suspect her own coven’s objective. Evidence tells Tessa to trust one side, but instinct drives her toward the other.

When Hayden Anders, the most delinquent kid in school — and the toughest — offers self-defence lessons in exchange for tutoring, the timing couldn’t be better. Though the idea of hanging out with a bad-boy that tempting is unnerving, staying alive amidst warring witches takes priority. She vows to hold onto her values and not surrender to the bad-boy she begins to secretly want.

Together, Tessa and Hayden uncover the truth about the two factions — a truth that explains why the covens will stop at nothing to lure her to their side. Tessa has only a matter of weeks to form an alliance with one coven or the other, but the wrong decision could cost Tessa the lives of all those she loves — including Hayden.

Warning: This book is WITCHTASTIC!

My Rating: 10 Love Love loved it!

My Cover Thoughts: I absolutely love this cover. I love the full moon and the Pentacle.

My Thoughts/Review: This book is crazy! I absolutely loved it. It starts off with Tessa in trouble and she doesn’t even know it. She is then assigned a body guard for her protection and when she finds out who it is she is not happy.

At first they stay far away from each other but as time goes on Tessa finds out why she needs to be protected and who wants to hurt her. As she discovers this she finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely person….her body guard and the funny thing is is that he is acting weird to.

Tessa will have to learn how to trust and who to trust. In the end will she find true love? Will she allow herself to open up and be loved? What is she? And the last is why do they want her so bad?

Take a ride on the roller coaster with Tessa and Hayden and Chait.

Hayden is reserved and all about himself but when he is asked to be loyal he decides that it is worth it to help someone else out. While on this journey he too will find out what he is and who he is supposed to be with. Will Hayden be strong enough to stop following his friends? Will he open his heart to the one that he loves? Will he be able to put others needs before his?

Chait oh man what to say about him. He is in love with someone he can’t have and he has to come to terms with it. What's a guy to do?

Memorable Quotes:“I can’t be without you. You get that, don’t you?” I nodded and kissed him, sending tiny electrons whizzing through my body, urging me to move things quickly, but making me want to freeze this moment in time.

Blade, Veronica (2011-09-03). Something Witchy This Way Comes (Kindle Locations 8205-8238). Crush Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Advice: This is a must read for all lovers of Paranormal books! Veronica Blade you have out done yourself!

Image and Blurb from:

So because I loved loved this book I am giving away one signed copy and three e-books! All you have to do is fill out the form and enter to win. The winners will be announced via raffelcopter on November 11, 2011

The signed copy of the book is only open to the United States sorry international fans but the e-copies are open to anyone who has a Kindle or Nook or can except an e-copy via phone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fateful By Claudia Gray


Title: Fateful

Author: Claudia Gray

Series: Book 1 Standalone

Release Date: September 13, 2011

Source: E-Copy from Book 4 Reviews

Blurb: In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship they’re sailing on reaches the United States, she’ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets....

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and they’re stalking him—and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

Featuring the opulent backdrop of the Titanic, Fateful’s publication is poised to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the ship’s doomed maiden voyage. It is sure to be a hit among Titanic buffs and fans of paranormal romance alike.

Warning: This book will have you laughing, crying and frustrated all rolled into one.

My Rating: 4 of 5

My Cover Thoughts: I love the UK cover of Tess in her red dress staring back at something or someone. This cover is very eye catching. The US cover is of Tess in a nightgown in the water walking towards something or someone.

My Thoughts/Review: First I have to say that I really ended up loving this book. I had problems getting into the beginning but after chapter four I was hooked. Tess is a ladies servant and is on her way to America to New York with her charge. They are sailing on the RMS Titanic to New York. Tess is nervous but she only agreed to go to America to get away from the family she is serving in the hopes of getting her freedom. Once in America Tess will leave the family and venture off on her own and start a new life.

Before the family boards the Titanic Tess has to get the last of supplies for her lady and when she does she encounters trouble. She is saved by this handsome guy but he is mean to her and she is so scared and confused because she is not sure what happened and if she saw what she thought she saw. She goes back to the house and packs up and the family leaves to board the Titanic. Once on the Titanic she feels like someone is watching her. As she is going to take the treasures to the first class suite of the lady she sees the man who tried to attack her and the man who saved her.

She is so caught up with feelings she doesn’t realize the mean man is right besides her threatening her. She realizes that to survive this trip she must stay clear of that man. She soon realizes that this is impossible because he is following her and wants something from her but she does not know what it is. The man who rescued her the first night seems to be avoiding her but he soon comes around and they speak. It is then that she realizes something is wrong with both men but she can’t figure it out. As the trip goes on Tess will have to fight for her and the lives of the ones she loves. She will also have to survive the Titanic. Will she lose the one she loves or will she have a chance at a normal life with a man she loves.

Once you start reading this story you will not be able to put it down. So go along the ride of a lifetime and enjoy the Titanic scenery and HOLD ON TIGHT because you don’t want to sink!

Memorable Quotes: Alec talking to Tess: I prop myself up on one elbow to stare at Alec. He looks utterly serious, but not dismayed—in fact, the only word for the expression on his face now is joy. “Mikhail had me,” he says. “He had me under his control until the moment he commanded me to kill you—and that was something I could never do. My love for you is what keeps me human, Tess. And it always will.”

Gray, Claudia (2011-09-13 05:00:00+00:00). Fateful (Kindle Locations 3939-3942). HarperTeen. Kindle Edition.

Advice: This is a good book once you can get past the first four chapters. Once that happens the story starts to flow and you really get into it. Give this book a chance I did and you will not be disappointed.

Image and Blurb from:

Hunting Lila By Sarah Alderson

Hunting Lila

Title: Hunting Lila

Author: Sarah Alderson

Series: Book # 1 of Many

Release Date: August 04, 2011
Source: Bought at Amazon

Blurb: 17-year-old Lila has two secrets she's prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she's been in love with her brother's best friend, Alex, since forever; or there abouts. After a mugging on the streets of South London goes horribly wrong and exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust - her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they've found them. Trying to uncover the truth of why her mother was killed, and the real remit of The Unit, Lila becomes a pawn in a dangerous game. Struggling to keep her secrets in a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone - there are others out there just like her - people with special powers -and her mother's killer is one of them...

Warning: This is a must read suspenseful read. I could not put it down because I had to find out what happened to the characters.

My Rating: 5 of 5

My Cover Thoughts: I absolutely loved the cover. I tell everyone the cover is what attracts people to a book. I was really attracted to this book because of the cover and also because of the release date August 04, 2011. I was born on August 04, 1974 so I had to buy this book and read it and add it to my year capsule.

My Thoughts/Review: Lila lives in London with her father after her mother dies. She has her friends but she misses her brother and his best friend Alex. She can’t stop thinking about him so when she is mugged on the street and she fights back the first person she thinks to run to is Alex and her brother. She boards a plane back to California and makes up a story to her brother about needing a break and asks him if she could stay with him for a while. He reluctantly agrees but with the help of Alex they convince her brother to let her stay.

While there she starts to fall really hard for Alex but he is acting weird towards her. She soon finds out that the job her and her brother are doing is very dangerous and she is now be hunted. She must learn to trust her instincts and rely on her brother and Alex.

What she learns is why her mother died and who killed her. She also meets people who have abilities like her and some have different powers. What is a girl to do? Will she trust the right people or will she trust the wrong ones? Will she and Alex and her brother survive the attack? Will they be together in the end?

What will happen between her and Alex? Will she reveal her true feelings to him? What he say in return? Sarah has weaved such a story that has highs, lows and plenty of action. She is BRILLANT in this book and I can not wait till next summer to find out what happens to everyone. Once you start reading this book you will not be able to put it down!

Memorable Quotes: Page 290 Suki gasped so loudly that I thought she’d been shot. ‘No. Oh my God.’ She bent over double, her hands on her knees.

Advice: This book is a must read. It was full of adventure and suspense and of course LOVE. This book took me on a journey like no other.

Image and Blurb from:

Generations I: Book of Enlightenment by Mia Castile

Happy Birthday Generations I: Book of Enlightenment! Watch out world Mia has done it again! She has captivated my mind,body and soul with this series. Mia has crafted a world where there is love, peace and war. What will Ellie chose and who will she chose. Will she do right in the end? So many questions and so many answers would you like a chance to win a copy of this book? All you have to do is fill out the form and enter to win! I will be giving away two e-copies of her books.

Title: Generations: Book Of Enlightenment

Author: Mia Castile

Series: Book # 1 of

Release Date: October 25, 2011

Source: ARC Copy from Mia

Blurb: Ellie Solomon has always been sort of a loner. Between her brother (who is the only family she has left) and a few friends (that are more his friends than hers) she lives a boring life. The one person she confides in is her Guardian Angel who visits her dreams. He is her best friend, too bad he's not real. When strange wolves with red eyes begin chasing her one evening, a mysterious boy and his dog saves her, catapulting her into the secret of her parents’ fate and who she really is. Together, with her new friends she embarks on a journey that leads her to the destiny of her Generation.

Warning: This book series is EPIC!

My Rating: 10 of 10

My Cover Thoughts: I love this cover! It reminds me of the Raven Mockers.

My Thoughts/Review: Ellie has a wonderful imagination. She dreams of her guardian angel that will one day come and rescue her. Then she wakes up to reality and realises he was only in her dreams. Ellie is your average teen going to school and trying to hold on to the one person she has left in her life, her brother. Her brother has applied for legal guardianship of her and has just heard the final decision from the courts that he can indeed be her legal guardian. They decide to rent an apartment in a shady part of town because that is all they can afford for now.

Her brother tells her to enjoy her junior year because next year she will be considered an adult. She laughs at him and tells him she will but first things first she needs to find a job. As she explores her new neighbourhood she finds a job at a book store. The job is perfect for her and she is excited because she can help her brother out.

After her first night out working on the way home she senses she is in danger and feels someone watching her. She is attacked and saved by a boy and his dog. She thanks him and invites him over for something to drink and he says okay. As the days go by she sees this guy and his dog more and more. They strike up a friendship and maybe something more but Ellie can’t get past her dream man. See she sees the man of her dreams every night but she can’t see him when she is up.

Ellie starts to wonder if something sinister is going on and how it is going to affect her and her brother. She will do everything in her power to protect him because he is all she has left. Ellie will have to make some hard decisions and she will learn that there is someone out there that wants her. She is not sure if this person wants to hurt her but she will need to trust her instincts.

Will she find someone she can trust? Will she ever wake up from her dreams of her guardian angel rescuing her or is she destined for a life of dreams?

Mia has once again captured my heart and soul with these characters and the struggles they face and the triumphs they will have. It is a story that will capture your mind, body and soul! Watch out J.K. Rowling her comes Mia Castile!

Memorable Quotes: EPILOGUE: I was running, and though it was dark, I knew where I was going. I was going to him. He was forbidden to me. He wasn’t mine, yet I couldn’t stay away from him. My hand glided along the stone wall. It was old and dusted onto my fingertips. I stayed close to it. The wind blew the soft fabric of my clothing around me. Ribbons held my hair in place in an up-do that I could never have fixed on my own. My slaves fixed me, knowing that I was breaking the rules—we were breaking the rules—they still remained faithful to me. We would be together. I opened the large, thick, heavy temple door that creaked around the hinges. I breathed heavily as I walked to the altar. The priest stood behind it, reading from his great book. “I’m here, I’m here,” I said in a hushed exclamation. “So am I.” There he was. He reached for my hand and pulled me close to him. We embraced. I clung to him as he to me. “Are you sure this is your desire? It’s never been done before; you’ll go against all that is right,” the priest asked in a low whisper. But he couldn’t change our minds, no more than we could. I loved this man, and he loved me. “Yes,” my love answered. “Then so be it.” I woke up in my dark bedroom, my hands clinging to something, but I didn’t know what. There was nothing in my arms. I wanted—I needed to see him; I could see him in my mind. It was just a dream; but it felt real, like a real life—like it was alive. But he wasn’t tangible; he wasn’t real. He was my angel and my protector of all the imaginary places and times I dreamed of, but he wasn’t real.

Advice: This is a must read series! You will not be disappointed!

Image and Blurb from:

Monday, October 24, 2011

JUMPING OFF SWINGS by Jo Knowles is coming out in paperback TOMORROW!

Jumping Off Swings is jumping into paperback! Do you want one?

Oct. 24th, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Hi everyone!

My 2nd book, JUMPING OFF SWINGS is coming out in paperback TOMORROW!

One pregnancy. Four friends. It all adds up to a profound time of change in this poignant, sensitively written YA novel.

Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind.


Click on the link to leave a comment to enter to win a personalized, signed copy!

For MORE chances to win, share this link on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and/or your blog. For every place you share, let me know and I'll add additional entries for each. Entries close THIS Thursday at 11:59pm. I'll draw the winner on Friday morning! :-)

THANKS for spreading the love about Jumping Off Swings!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tangled Bloodlines by Deborah Noel

Tangled Blood Lines

Title: Tangled Blood lines

Author: Deborah Noel

Series: Book # 1 of 3

Release Date: July 10, 2011

Source: ARC Copy from Deborah Noel

Blurb: "This is not your sweet sparkling vampire story. Old-school vampires have re-surfaced, responsible for brutal murders and more blood than anyone can cope with. In ""Tangled Blood Lines"", Cianna Fitzgerald, a young but "retired" crime scene investigator, finds herself back in a world she walked away from some years ago.

She grew up in twentieth century Pennsylvania countryside knowing she possesses superhuman powers from her "Irish pixie" bloodlines. She had retired after a particularly tough case where the victim was her husband's twin brother. After her brief respite from murders and homicides, Cianna witnesses a killing where the murderer is a vampire. Her daughter goes missing soon after the killing. Cianna and the love she had once pushed out of her life, her estranged husband Declan, travel halfway around the world to try to save their child.

As the mystery unravels, she learns that although she is a half-breed, the other half isn't "Irish pixie" as she grew up believing - weaving her into a more tangled history and frightening future than she had bargained for.

Warning: This book is VAMPIREISTIC! Blood thirsty with a hint of crazy!

My Rating: This book series is going to be EPIC! 10 of 10!!!!!!!!

My Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It is of a woman walking holding her head up high going into the face of danger and no regret. The eyes had me drawn in wondering what were they, whose eyes were they, and why are they watching her.

My Thoughts/Review: OMG this book came to me about a month or two ago when I was in school. I got so caught up in school that it was hard for me to start it. To say that I was very angry I did not pick it up sooner is an understatement. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. It captivated me right from the start and I had to know what happened to these unique characters Deborah has created. So without further ado here is what I thought.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!! Cianna is an investigative crime scene photographer. She goes to the scenes of crimes and takes pictures. She has an eye for detail and she loves to take pictures until one crime scene was so brutal she passed out. She went to a crime scene and started taking pictures of all the corpses until she points her camera at the last corpse and she thinks it is her husband. She screams and passes out and when she awakens she finds out it was her husband’s twin brother and not her husband. She is so devastated she retires because she can’t handle the work. But once she is retired she misses her work so when her Uncle Sam calls her and asks her to look at some crime scene photos she jumps at the chance because she misses it.

The only thing is she misses her husband to and she does not want her daughter caught up in any police business. Her Uncle Sam convinces her he can talk to Declan and he will be okay with her looking at the pictures. As the story goes on Cianna looks at the crime scene photos and she tries to see what the link is between the murders. She must also learn to trust some people on the way because she will need them. Not everyone is what they appear but through all of it she knows who she can trust and who she can’t.

Cianna will go on an adventure of a lifetime and she will travel far and wide to get back what was taken from her. She will stop at nothing to get it back. She will learn in the process what she is and what she can do. She was raised to believe she was one thing but the truth comes out and she has to come to turns with the fact that she is a Supe and she never knew it. She knew she was different but what she never knew. What will she do with her new knowledge? Will she embrace her future or will she rebel against it? Will she be able to solve the murders in time? Will she get back what she loves most in the world?

Read on to find out! This book will leave you BREATHLESS! I know it did it to me!

Memorable Quotes: Page 43 Declan and Cianna talking: He broke his body away first. Keeping his forehead against mine and our noses touching, he lingered. I moved my hand to push his lips back to mine from the back of his head, but he arched his neck to stop it from happening. I opened my eyes to look into his. They were so close I couldn’t get them into focus. We didn’t break the embrace. It seemed if time had disappeared and we were all that was left. “There is much to do,” he was barely audible. I blinked once. “Lots of planning,” he said no louder than before. I blinked again. He pulled back from our embrace and smiled wildly. “Really?” he asked in the same tone. I slowly closed my eyes and opened them again. A single tear fell from his eye. I caught it halfway down his cheek with my finger. “The walls are gone, Declan,” I winked. “You are officially allowed back in.” “A chuisle (a kwish-la),” his Gaelic native language filled my brain. My love. I replied in Gaelic out loud, “Is tu mo grha (iss two muh guhraw), Declan.” I love you.

Advice: This is a must read! EPIC Series!

Image and Blurb from:

Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti coming out June 14, 2012

Look what's coming out on June 14, 2012 By Susane Colasanti

Between Noelle’s struggles at home and the bullying she endures at school, all she wants is to get away from her small town. Noelle’s been nursing a crush on cute, wealthy Julian Porter for ages, but can’t imagine a guy like him could ever fall for a girl like her. When things heat up between Noelle and Julian, she has to decide whether she can be her true self with him.

Woo Hoo another great book by Susane! I can't wait to read it!

Something Witchy This Way Comes by Veronica Blade

Red Wine

Thanks to A.L. Kay I have found a new author to follow. She is a very talented writer for Paranormal lovers! So while your looking for some awesome October reads don't forget to check out A.L. Kay, M.R. Murphy, River Jordan, Rue Volley book called Red Wine. You can buy it at Amazon and Vamptasy.

So without further ado let me introduce you to Veronica Blade, Author of Something Witchy This Way Comes........

Bitten early by the writing bug, Veronica wrote a play at age 12. It was produced by her school, but alas, with the distractions of life, a career in writing was not to be … just yet.

She grew up in Southern California and currently resides there with her husband. They have three children between them and a very playful Bichon Frise. Her and the hubby own and run a real estate inspection company and both are active in charity work. When not busy with her day-to-day activities, Veronica can be found riveted to her laptop, happily writing.

Veronica's Novels are:

My Wolf's Bane coming out January 2012

What undiscovered abilities might I have? With my body’s ability to heal rapidly, could I be killed? Would I require a stake through the heart like a vampire or a silver bullet like a werewolf? Werewolves, vampires and leprechauns… They were probably in the forest now, watching me.

I laughed. Sure, Autumn.

But Zack was real and he’d been unusually agreeable earlier. Why the sudden change? How long would it last? Racing between trees, I worked off my frustration at him and the events of the past week. Like lightening, I charged through the forest, furry little animals scampering in my wake. As my lungs effortlessly took in air, a familiar scent met me and I slid to a halt, bits of dirt spraying the nearby shrubs.


He came into view beyond a clump of trees, black and magnificent.

A Bite’s Tale coming out 2012

Paralyzed by a stake to the heart, Noah is trapped in darkness then left in the woods for dead. When the stake is removed, he opens his eyes and recognizes his rescuer – the pretty loner girl from school. He should run rather than risk her discovering what he is. But without feeding, he’s too weak and with no protection, the enemy will easily finish the job. The girl acts resentful that she’s stuck with him, but gentle hands and acts of kindness betray Sofia’s true character. Noah is intrigued. He needs to know what she’s hiding. He needs to know her. But if he doesn’t free her of his world, and soon, the vampire hunters will target Sofia, too.

For Sofia, being alone isn’t a whim. It’s the criteria for sanity. She’s already been institutionalized for being "crazy" and lost her friends for being a "stalker." But if anyone finds out she’s a witch, worse could happen. But Sofia takes care of the strange and startlingly beautiful boy anyway, who’s been stabbed in the chest. And she begins to long for more. If she stays in the battle, it isn’t just her physical safety threatened but everything she’s worked so hard to win back – her heart and soul. Peace. Still, she can’t let him go or she’ll lose the part of herself that makes her feel — the part that makes her whole, that she never thought she’d see again.

You can view Veronica's stuff in her website @

Twitter @VeronicaBlade

Brainiac Tessa McClean’s newly discovered magical powers give her hope of an escape from her inadequate life. But the thrill of being a witch fades when she learns of a rival coven and begins to suspect her own coven’s objective. Evidence tells Tessa to trust one side, but instinct drives her toward the other.

When Hayden Anders, the most delinquent kid in school — and the toughest — offers self-defense lessons in exchange for tutoring, the timing couldn’t be better. Though the idea of hanging out with a bad-boy that tempting is unnerving, staying alive amidst warring witches takes priority. She vows to hold onto her values and not surrender to the bad-boy she begins to secretly want.

Together, Tessa and Hayden uncover the truth about the two factions — a truth that explains why the covens will stop at nothing to lure her to their side. Tessa has only a matter of weeks to form an alliance with one coven or the other, but the wrong decision could cost Tessa the lives of all those she loves — including Hayden.

You can purchase this e-book @

Friday, October 21, 2011

Looky... looky... what I found on twimom101's blog

Mortal Defiance Cover Reveal!

So, my amazing cover designer has really out done herself this time. We sat down for hours and discussed how to use the photos I purchased, where to place the text, what colors to use and even more importantly, managed to not kill each other. For those of you that don't know, my mother in law does all of the heavy lifting when it comes to my book covers. Isn't that cool? She is one talented lady!

So, without further ado, here is the cover for Mortal Defiance!

And now, to complete the reveal, here is your Teaser Tuesday... on Friday!

“Why is it I never get a goodnight’s rest when you’re around?” Ree squinted at Roland and frowned.

“I'm sure we could come up with something to help you relaxe.” Raising an eyebrow he smiled at Ree, making her pulse race.

So many exciting and important things happen in Mortal Defiance. 

I can't wait for everyone to read the next part of Ree's story.

Oh man I love love Roland! He is to hot to handle. If you have not read Mortal Obligation what are you waiting for , go out and get a copy! Plus keep checking back to see when I will be giving away a copy of Mortal Obligation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red Wine An Anthology by A.L. Kay, M.R. Murphy, River Jordan and Rue Volley

Red Wine

Title: Red Wine

Author: A.L. Kay, M.R. Murphy, River Jordan and Rue Volley

Release Date: October 01, 2011

Source: ARC Copy

Blurb: In the short story, "Red Wine", you dive into the mind of a psychotic lover’s dark revenge.

In "Ginn Hunter", the hunter becomes the hunted when Seth Fautuex seeks revenge.

"Leela": Orphaned and alone, a girl must triumph against an insidious creature shrouded in myth.

"Birth of a Vampire" takes you deep into the mind of girl who is broken, but about to be reborn, bathed in blood.


My Rating: 5 of 5

My Cover Thoughts: Absolutely love the cover! Have some red wine……

My Thoughts/Review: I was surprised how fast I read this anthology. It was very suspenseful and eye catching and I could not put it down. I had to keep reading to see what was in store.

What do you do when you love someone and they don’t love you back? To kill or be killed that is the question.

Life as a hunter is fun until you become the hunted. What will you do?

What would you do if you came up against a creature? Run or fight…..

What would you do if you found out you were a vampire? Would feed or would you die…..

These are the questions you will ask yourself while reading these short stories.

These are the best short stories I have ever read by the talented ladies. Want a good scary story read this book and be prepared to be scared! So let's go out and buy this book from

Plus once you buy the book you can enter to win a key chain, mug, magnet or bag! click here

Advice: Best Anthology ever! EPIC READ!

Image and Blurb from:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth   Hunter

Title: A Hidden Fire

Author: Elizabeth Hunter

Series: Book # 1 of

Release Date: October 18, 2011 




Source: ARC Copy from Elizabeth Hunter

Click on these links to view my review and purchase the e-book:


Barnes and Noble:

Blurb: "No secret stays hidden forever ..."

A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery he’d abandoned years before. He never expected a young librarian could hold the key to the search, nor could he have expected the danger she would attract. Now he and Beatrice de Novo will follow a twisted maze that leads them from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation they never could have predicted.

A Hidden Fire is a paranormal mystery/romance for adult readers. It is the first book in the Elemental Mysteries Series.

Warning: This book is CALIENTE! Fire HOT… HOT…HOT…

My Rating: 10 The best book I have read in a while!

My Cover Thoughts: I absolutely love the cover. It is a picture of a library on fire. I love libraries and I love to read. If you have not gone to an old library you must find one and visit it. Old libraries hold so much mystery and intrigue you will be inspired to sit and read or sit and enjoy the priceless history you are looking at.

My Thoughts/Review: OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!! This story had me on the edge of my bed all weekend. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. It starts off in a library which I totally loved. It took me on a ride that started with laughter to tears to wonderment to outright anger. The emotional roller coaster was the best thing about this story because you were routeing for “B” and Gio and then you were like what the heck?

This story held me captivated because Elizabeth did such an awesome job of weaving something new into her story. Yes it is about vampires but the new spin she placed was that all vampires have an affinity to them. They could be earth, water, fire or air. With the new take the vampire could use the affinity it was blessed with to fight for good or evil.

In this story the main character “B” had to decide who to trust. She had been betrayed but a lot of people she loved and trusted and in the end she just did not know who she could trust. It was hard for her because she wanted to love and be open but she guarded her heart and never let her true feelings show through until she knew that person felt the same for her.

There is mystery and intrigue in this story and a romance that will be put to the test. Is some love worth fighting for? Is some love worth letting go? You decide!

If you like books that have some history in it you will love love this story. This is a story that will have you guessing who “B” is going to be with? Will she ever get the man of her dreams? Will her heart be broken? What happens to her family and friends?

Take a wild ride with “B”, Gio, Carwyn, Casper, Isadora, Tenzin, and Lorenzo. You will not be disappointed! I know I was not and the second book comes out in December 2011.

Memorable Quotes: Page 214/215 Carwyn talking to Gio There was a long pause on the line before Carwyn continued in a soft voice.

“Did you trade those damn books for her like Gav said?”

He cursed in a dozen languages before he answered. “He was experimenting like the sick

little bastard that he is. He was going to take her, but I’d tipped my hand before. He was trying

to determine if it was Beatrice or the books I was reacting to. It’s better ...” He cleared his throat

before he continued. “It’s better for her if he thinks I’m not attached to her.”

He gripped the doorjamb, cracking the oak paneling and sending plaster dust crumbling to

the floor.

“You’re right,” Carwyn said in a soothing voice, “he won’t hurt her. He needs her to retrieve

her father. We just need to get her back before Stephen De Novo hears about this and returns to

Lorenzo. If that happens, all bets are off.”

He couldn’t find the words to speak to his old friend, so he took a deep, measured breath.

The scent of her fear still permeated the living room, and he clenched his eyes in frustration.

“Giovanni,” Carwyn was saying, “you realize, she might not understand. You know—”

“I know,” he muttered. “I knew the minute I let him take her she might never forgive me for

it. But it’s better than her being injured or tortured to get back at me.”

Advice: This is a must read story that has love, faith, trust and learning who you are all wraped into one.

Image and Blurb from:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Nichole Chase: Mortal Defiance Tuesday Teaser #2 + Giveaway!!!

Nichole Chase: Mortal Defiance Tuesday Teaser #2 + Giveaway!!!: Happy Tuesday!!!! So, let's get the teaser out of the way first and then on to the giveaway! “I see.” He was quiet as they neared the door...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kobo E-Reader Giveaway

Kobo Ereader Giveaway!

A bunch of us bloggers joined together to provide one of our fabulous followers with an ereader! We tried to make the entry as simple as possible, all you have to do is follow the directions on the rafflecopter form. This ereader giveaway will be for the USA/CAN, but there will be opportunities for at least two International followers to win some ebooks! In the comments, please state whether you are USA/CAN or International. Thank you very much for following our blogs!

Ebooks Available As Prizes:

Shelter by Tara Shuler

Deadly Cool-upon release date

Paradox by Patti Roberts

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble

Fire and Ice, Five Worlds Series

McGowan's Return

The Invasion of 2020

Lorelei and the Sirens

Dream Smashers

Wonderful hosts:

Dricus from The Guardian's Kiss By Jamie Lynn Dougherty

Dricus “Oh here’s our Golden Boy.” Dricus said, as he tried to inch his way closer to the driver’s side door. “I see you’ve told her your little secret since my last visit.” Dricus made his way to my door. His hand rested on the side mirror, his grey fingers tapped the glass. I couldn’t help but look at him, the urge was too strong, and the feeling of dread swept over me. “Hello my Lovely you ...look like you’ve gotten some sun. You know you’ll get skin cancer, but you probably won’t live long enough to see it.” A sly smirk rested at the corners of his mouth, one that I have learned would be perpetually stuck on his face. “F--- You!” I wished I could have spit in his face. “I love it when you’re sassy, kind of makes me a little hot.” ..... "The Guardian's Kiss"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Morganville Vampires: Last Breath Book 11 Chapter One

For all you Morganville fans here is a preview of chapter one of Last Breath which comes out October 31, 2011 Happy Halloween :)

With her boss preoccupied researching the Founder Houses in Morganville, student Claire Danvers is left to her own devices when she learns that three vampires have vanished without a trace. She soon discovers that the last person seen with one of the missing vampires is someone new to town—a mysterious individual named Magnus. After an uneasy encounter with Morganville's latest resident, Claire is certain Magnus isn't merely human. But is he a vampire—or something else entirely?
The explosive Book 11 in the Morganville Vampires series, Last Breath answers one of the biggest questions of the entire series: why would you place a town full of vampires in the middle of Texas, the sun almost always beating down on them? There is a reason, and boy oh boy, it's BIG!

Click through for the first chapter preview and get ready for Last Breath, due out 31 October.

Shane's lips felt like velvet against the nape of her neck, and Claire shivered in delight as his breath warmed the skin there. She leant back against him with a sigh. Her boyfriend's body felt solid and safe, and his arms went around her, wrapping her in comfort. He was taller than she was, so he had to bend to rest his chin on her shoulder and whisper, 'You sure about this?'

Claire nodded. 'You got the overdue notice, didn't you? It's this, or they come and collect. You don't want that.'

'Well, you don't have to be here,' he pointed out – not for the first time today. 'Don't you have classes?'

'Not today,' she said. 'I had an oh-my-God a.m. lab, but now I'm all done.'

'OK, then, you don't have to do this because you're tax-exempt.'

By tax-exempt, he meant that she didn't have to pay . . . in blood. Taxes in Morganville were collected three ways: the polite way, via the collection centre downtown, or the not-so-polite way when the Bloodmobile showed up like a sleek black shark at your front door, with Men in Black-style 'technicians' to ensure you did your civic duty.

The third way was by force, in the dark, when you ventured out unprotected and got bitten.

Vampires. A total pain in the neck . . . literally.

Shane was entirely right: Claire had a written, legal document that said she was free from the responsibility of donations. The popular wisdom – and it wasn't wrong – was that she'd already given enough blood to Morganville.

Of course, so had Shane . . . but he hadn't always been on the vampires' side at the time.

'I know I don't have to do it,' she said. 'I want to. I'll go with.'

'In case you're worried, I'm not girly-scared or anything.'

'Hey!' She smacked at his arm. 'I'm a girl. What exactly are you saying, that I'm not brave or something?'

'Eeek,' Shane said. 'Nothing. Right, Amazon princess, I got the point.'

Claire turned in his arms and kissed him, a sweet burst of heat as their lips met. The lovely joy of that released a burst of bubbles inside her, bubbles full of happiness. God, she loved this. Loved him. It had been a rough year, and he'd . . . stumbled, was the best way she could think of it. Shane had dark streaks, and he'd struggled with them. Was still struggling.

But he'd worked so hard to make it up, not just to her, but to everyone he felt he'd let down. Michael, his (vampire) best friend. Eve, his other (non-vampire) best friend, and hers, too. Even Claire's parents had gotten genuine attention; he'd gone with her to see them, twice, with exit permission from the vampires, and he'd been earnest and steady even under her father's stern cross-examination.

He wanted to be different. She knew that.

When the kiss finally ended, Shane had a drugged, vague look in his eyes, and he seemed to have trouble letting go of her. 'You know,' he said, moving her hair back from her cheek with one big, warm hand, 'we could just blow this off and go home instead of letting them suck our blood. Try it tomorrow.'

'Bloodmobile,' she reminded him. 'People holding you down. You really want that?'

He shuddered. 'Hell no. OK, right, after you.' They were standing on the sidewalk of Morganville's blood bank, with its big cheerful blood-drop character sign and scrupulously clean public entrance. Claire pecked him lightly on the cheek, escaped before he could pull her close again, and pushed the door open.

Inside, the place looked like they'd given it a makeover – more cheerfully lit than the last time she'd been in, and the new furniture looked comfortable and homey. They'd even installed a fish tank full of brightly coloured tropicals flitting around living coral. Nice. Clearly, the vampires were trying to put their best efforts to reassure the human community, for a change.

The lady sitting behind the counter looked up and smiled. She was human, and sort of motherly, and she pulled Claire's records and raised her thin, greying eyebrows. 'Oh,' she said. 'You know, you're entirely paid up for the year. There's no need—'

'It's voluntary,' Claire said. 'Is that OK?'

'Voluntary?' The woman repeated the word as if it was something from a foreign language. 'Well, I suppose . . .' She shook her head, clearly thinking Claire was mental, and turned her smile on Shane. 'And you, honey?'

'Collins,' he said. 'Shane Collins.'

She pulled out his card, and up went the eyebrows, again. 'You are definitely not paid up, Mr Collins. In fact, you're sixty days behind. Again.'

'I've been busy.' He didn't crack a smile. Neither did she.

She stamped his card, wrote something on it, and returned it to the file, then handed them both slips of paper. 'Through the door,' she said. 'Do you want to be in the room together, or separately?'

'Together,' they both chorused, and looked at each other. Claire couldn't help a bit of a smirk, and Shane rolled his eyes. 'She's kind of a coward,' he said. 'Faints at the sight of blood.'

'Oh, please,' Claire sighed. 'That does describe one of us, though.'

The receptionist, for all her motherly looks, clearly wasn't sympathetic. 'Fine,' she said briskly. 'Second door on the right, there are two chairs in there. I'll get an attendant for you.'

'Yeah, about that . . . could you get us a human?' Shane asked. 'It creeps me out when a guy's draining my blood and I hear his stomach rumble.'

Claire punched him in the arm this time, an unmistakable shut up, and gave the receptionist a sunny smile as she dragged him toward the door she'd indicated. 'Really,' she said to him, 'would it be that hard just to not say anything?'

'Kinda,' he shrugged, and held the door open for her. 'Ladies first.'

'I'm really starting to think you are a scaredy-cat.'

'No, I'm just flawlessly polite.' He gave her a sideways glance, and said, with a curious seriousness, 'I'd go first in any fight, for you.'

Shane had always been someone who best expressed love by being protective, but now it was deliberate, a way for him to make up for how far he'd let his anger and aggression get the best of him. Even at his worst he hadn't hurt her, but he'd come close, frighteningly close, and that lingered between them like a shadow.

'Shane,' she said, and paused to look him full in the face. 'If it comes to that, I'd fight beside you. Not behind you.' He smiled a little, and nodded as they started moving again. 'I'd still jump on the first bullet. Hope you're OK with that.' She shouldn't have been, really, but the thought, and the emotion behind it, gave her another little flush of warmth as she walked down the carpeted hallway and into the second room on the right. Like the rest of the human side of the collection centre, the space felt warm and comfortable; the reclining chairs were leather, or some vinyl approximation. The speakers overhead were playing something acoustic and soft, and Claire relaxed in the chair as Shane wriggled around in his.

He went very still as the door opened, and their attendant stepped inside.

'No way,' Claire said. First, their attendant was a vampire. Second, it was Oliver. Oh, he was wearing a white lab coat and carrying a clipboard and looked vaguely official, but it was Oliver. 'What exactly is the second-in-command of vampire affairs doing drawing blood?'

'Yeah, and aren't you needed pulling espresso at the coffee shop?' Shane added, with a totally unnecessary edge of snark. Oliver was often found behind the counter at the coffee shop, but he wasn't needed there. He just liked doing it, and Shane knew that. When you were as (presumably) rich and (absolutely) powerful a vampire as Oliver, you could do whatever you damn well wanted.

'There's been flu going around,' Oliver said, ignoring Shane's tone as he took out the blood-draw supplies and laid them out on trays. 'I understand they're short-staffed today. Occasionally, I do pitch in.'

Somehow, that didn't quite feel like the whole story, even if it was true. Claire eyed him mistrustfully as he scooted a rolling stool up beside her and tied the tourniquet in place on her upper arm, then handed her a red rubber ball to squeeze as he prepared the needle. 'I assume you're going first,' he said, 'given Shane's usual attitude.' That was delivered with every bit as dry an edge as Shane's sarcasm, and Shane opened his mouth, then subsided, lips thinning into a stubborn line. Good, she thought. He was trying, at least. 'Sure,' she said. She managed not to wince as his cold fingers palpated her arm, feeling for veins, and focused on his face. Oliver always seemed to be older than many of the other vamps, though she couldn't quite pin down why: his hair, maybe, which was threaded with grey streaks and tied back in a hippie-style ponytail just now. There weren't many lines on his face, really, but she always just snapshotted him as middle-aged, and when she really stared, she couldn't say why he impressed her that way.

Mostly he just seemed more cynical than the others.

He was wearing a black tee under a grey pull-on sweater today, and blue jeans, very relaxed; it wasn't too different from what Shane was wearing, actually, except that Shane managed to make his look edgy and fashionable.

The needle slid in with a short, hot burst, and then the pain subsided to a thin ache as Oliver taped it down and attached the tubing. He released the tourniquet and clamps, and Claire watched the dark red line of blood race down the plastic and out of sight, into a collection bag below. 'Good,' he said. 'You have excellent flow.'

'I'm – not sure how I feel about that, actually.'

He shrugged. 'It's got fine colour and pressure, and the scent is quite crisp. Very nice.'

Claire felt even less good once he'd said that; he described it like a wine enthusiast talking about his favourite vintage. In fact, she felt just faintly sick, and rested her head against the soft cushions while she stared at a cheerful poster tacked up on the back of the door.

Oliver moved on from her to Shane, and once she'd taken a couple of deep, calming breaths, she stopped studying the kitten picture and looked over at her boyfriend. He was tense, but trying not to seem it; she could read that in the slightly pale, set face and the way his shoulders had tightened, emphasising the muscles under the sweater. He rolled up his sleeve without a word, and Oliver – likewise silent – put the tourniquet in place and handed him another ball to squeeze. Unlike Claire, who was barely able to dent the thing, Shane almost flattened it when he pressed. His veins were visible to her even across the room, and Oliver barely skimmed fingertips over them, not meeting Shane's eyes at all, then slipped the needle in so quickly and smoothly that Claire almost missed it. 'Two pints,' he told Shane. 'You'll still be behind on your schedule, but I suppose we shouldn't drain you much more at once.'

'You sound disappointed.' Shane's voice came out faint and thready, and he put his head back against the cushions as he squeezed his eyes shut. 'Damn, I hate this. I really do.'

'I know,' Oliver said. 'Your blood reeks of it.'

'If you keep that up, I'm going to punch you.' Shane said it softly, but he meant it. There was a muscle tight as steel cable in his jaw, and his hand pumped the rubber ball in convulsive squeezes. Oliver released the tourniquet and clamps, and Shane's blood moved down the tube.

'Can I specify a user for my donation?' Claire asked. That drew Oliver's attention, and even Shane cracked an eyelid to glance at her. 'Since mine's voluntary anyway.'

'Yes, I suppose,' Oliver said, and took out a black marker. 'Name?'

'The hospital,' she said. 'For emergencies.'

He gave her a long, measured stare, and then shrugged and put a simple cross symbol on the bag – already a quarter full – before returning it to the holder beside her chair. Shane opened his mouth, but Oliver said, 'Don't even consider saying it. Yours is already spoken for.'

Shane responded to that with a gagging sound.

'Precisely why it's not earmarked for my account,' Oliver said. 'I do have standards. Now, if either of you feel any nausea or weakness, press the button. Otherwise, I'll be back in a few minutes.'

He rose and walked toward the door, but hesitated with his hand on the knob. He turned back to them and said, 'I received the invitation.'

For a moment, Claire didn't know what he was talking about, but then she said, 'Oh. The party.'

'The engagement party,' he said. 'You should speak with your friends about the . . . political situation.'

'I – what? What are you talking about?'

Oliver's eyes held hers, and she was wary of some kind of vamp compulsion, but he didn't seem to be trying at all. 'I've already tried to warn Michael,' he said. 'This is unwise. Very unwise. The vampire community in Morganville is already . . . restless; they feel humans have been given too much freedom, too much licence in their activities of late. There was always a clearly drawn relationship of—'

'Serial killers and victims?' Shane put in.

'Protector and those Protected,' Oliver said, flashing a scowl at her boyfriend. 'One that is of necessity free of too much emotional complication. It's an obligation, which vampires can understand. This – connection between Michael and your human friend Eve is . . . raw and messy. Now that they threaten to sanction it with legal status . . . there is resistance. On both sides, from vampires and humans alike.'

'Wait,' Shane said. 'Are you seriously telling us that people don't want them to get married?'

'There is a certain sense that it is not appropriate, nor wise, to allow vampire/human intermarriage.'

'That's racist!'

'It has nothing to do with race,' Oliver said. 'It has everything to do with species. Vampires and humans have a set relationship, and from the vampire standpoint, it's one of a predator.'

'I still think you mean parasite.'

Oliver's temper flared, which was dangerous; his face changed, literally shifted, as if the monster underneath was trying to get out. Then it faded, but it left a feeling in the room, a tingling shock that made even Shane shut up, at least for now. 'Some don't want Michael and Eve to marry,' he said. 'You may take it from me that even those who are indifferent believe that it will go badly for all involved. It's unwise. I've told him this, and I've tried to tell her. Now I'm telling you to stop them.'

'We can't!' Claire said, appalled. 'They love each other!'

'That has exactly nothing to do with what I am saying,' the vampire told her, and opened the door to the room. 'I care nothing about their feelings. I am talking about the reality of the situation. A marriage is politically disastrous, and will ignite issues that are best left smouldering. Tell them that. Tell them it will be stopped, one way or another. Best if they stop it themselves.'


The door shut on whatever she was going to say, and anyway, Claire wasn't sure she really had any idea. She looked over at Shane, who seemed just as speechless as she was.

But he was, of course, the first to recover his voice. 'Well,' he said, 'I told him so.'


'Look, vampires and humans together have never been a good idea. It's like cats and mice hooking up. Always ends badly for the mouse.'

'It's not vampires and humans. It's Eve and Michael.'

'Which is different how, exactly?'

'It – just is!'

Shane sighed and put his head back against the cushions. 'Fine,' he said. 'But no way am I breaking Eve's heart. You get to tell her the wedding's off, courtesy of the vampire almost-boss. Just let me know, so I can put my headphones on the going-deaf setting first to drown out the screaming and wailing.'

'You are such a coward.'

'I am bleeding into a bag,' he pointed out. 'I think I've achieved some kind of anti-coward merit badge.'

She threw her red rubber ball at him.

Not that Claire hadn't secretly seen all this coming.

She hadn't wanted to believe it. She'd been involved in all the party preparations – Eve had insisted. Between the two of them, they'd planned absolutely everything, from the napkins (black) on the tablecloths (silver) to the paper colour on the invitations (black, again, with silver ink). It had been fun, of course, sitting there having girl time, picking out flowers and food and party favours, setting up playlists for the music, and best of all picking out clothes.

It had been only this week, as everything got . . . well, real . . . that Claire had begun feeling that maybe it wasn't all just fairy tales and ice cream. Walking with Eve downtown had turned into a whole new experience, a shocking one; Claire was used to being ignored, or (more recently) being looked at with some weird wariness; wearing the Founder of Morganville's pin in her collar had earned her an entirely unwanted (possibly undeserved) reputation as a badass.

But this week, walking with Eve, she'd seen hate, close up.

Oh, it wasn't obvious or anything . . . It came in sidelong glances, in the tightening of people's lips and the clipped way people spoke to Eve, if they spoke at all. Morganville had changed somewhat, in these past couple of years, and one of the most important changes had been that people were no longer afraid to show what they felt. Claire had thought that was a positive change.

At first, Claire had figured the dissing was just isolated incidents, and then she'd thought that maybe it was just the normal small-town politics at work. Eve was a Goth, she was easily recognisable, and although she was crushingly funny, she could also piss people off who didn't get her.

This was different, though. The look people had in their eyes for Eve . . . that had been contempt. Or anger. Or disgust.

Eve hadn't seemed to notice at first, but Claire detected a weakening in her usual glossy armour of humour about midway through their last shopping trip – about the time that an unpleasant lady with church hair had walked away from the counter while Eve was checking out with a bagful of stuff for the party. As she walked away, the Church Lady had reached out to mess with a stacked display of sunglasses, and Claire had caught sight of something odd.

The woman was too old for a tattoo – at least, too old for a fresh one – but there was a design inked on her arm, still red around the edges. Claire saw only a glimpse of it, but it looked like some kind of familiar shape.

A stake. It was a symbol of a stake.

Another, younger lady had come hustling from the back of the shop to wait on Eve, flushed and flustered.

She'd avoided meeting their eyes, and had said the bare minimum to get them out of the store. Church Lady hadn't bothered to look at them at all.

Claire had waited until they were safely out of earshot of any passersby before she said, 'So, did you see the tat? Freaky.'

'The stake?' Eve's black-painted lips were tight, and even in sunlight, her kohl-rimmed eyes looked shadowed. Her Urban Decay make-up normally looked really cool, but in the harsh winter sunlight, Claire thought it looked a little . . . desperate. Not just crying out for attention, but screaming for it. 'Yeah, it's the new big thing. Stake tats. Even the geezers are lining up for them. Human pride and all that crap.'

'Is that why—'

'Why the bitch refused to wait on me?' Eve tossed her black-dyed shag hair back from her pale face in a defiant shake. 'Yeah, probs. Because I'm a traitor.'

'Not any more than I am!'

'No, you signed up for Protection, and you made a really good deal at it, too – they respect that. What they don't respect is sleeping with the enemy.' Eve looked stubborn, but there was despair in it, too. 'Being a fang-banger.'

'Michael's not the enemy, and you're not – how can anybody think that?'

'There's always been this undercurrent in Morganville. Us and them, you know. The us doesn't have fangs.'

'But – you love each other.' Claire didn't know what surprised her more . . . that the Morganville folks were turning on Eve, of all people, or that she wasn't more surprised by that herself. People were petty and stupid sometimes, and even as fabulous as Michael was, some people just would never see him as anything but a walking pair of fangs.

True, he was no fluffy puppy; Michael was capable of really bringing the violence, but only when he absolutely had to do it. He liked avoiding fights, not causing them, and at his heart, he was loyal and kind and shy.

Hard to lump all that under the vampire, therefore evil label.

An old cowboy, complete with hat and boots and a sheepskin-lined jeans jacket, passed the two of them on the sidewalk. He gave Eve a bitter, narrow glare, and spat up something nasty right in front of her shiny high-heeled patent leather shoes.

Eve lifted her chin and kept walking.

'Hey!' Claire said, turning toward the cowboy in an outraged fury, but Eve grabbed her arm and dragged her along. 'Wait – he—'

'Lesson number one in Morganville,' Eve said. 'Keep walking. Just keep walking.'

And they had. Eve hadn't said another word about it; she'd put on bright, fragile smiles and when Michael had come home from teaching at the music store, they'd sat together on the couch and cuddled and whispered, but Claire didn't think Eve had told him about the attitudes.

Now this thing with Oliver, telling her outright that the marriage was off, or else.

Very, very bad.

'So,' she said to Shane as they walked home, arms linked, hands in their pockets to hide from the icy whipping chill of the wind. 'What am I going to say to Eve? Or, God, to Michael?'

'Nothing,' Shane said.

'But you said I should—'

'I reconsidered. I'm not Oliver's messenger monkey, and neither are you. If he wants to play Lord of the Manor with those two, he can come do it himself.' Shane grinned fiercely. 'I would pay to see that. Michael does not like to be told he can't do something. Especially something to do with Eve.'

'Do you think—' Oh, this was dangerous territory, and Claire hesitated before taking a step into it. Filled with landmines, this was. 'God, I can't believe I'm asking this, but . . . do you think Michael's really serious about her? I mean, you know him better than I do. Longer, anyway. I get the sense, sometimes, that he has . . . doubts.'

Shane was silent for a long moment – too long, she thought – and then he said, 'You're asking if he's serious about loving her?'

'No, I know he loves her. But marrying her . . .'

'Marriage is a big word for all guys,' Shane said. 'You know that. It's kind of an allergy. We get itchy and sweaty just trying to spell it, much less do it.'

'So you think he's nervous?'

'I think – I think it's a big deal. Bigger for him and Eve than for most people.' Shane kept his eyes down, fixed on the sidewalk and the steps they were taking. 'Look, ask him, OK? This is girl talk. I don't do girl talk.'

She punched him in the shoulder. 'Ass.'

'That's better. I was starting to feel like we should go shoe shopping or something.'

'Being a girl is not a bad thing!'

'No.' He took his hand out of his pocket and put his arm around her shoulders, hugging her close. 'If I could be half the girl you are, I'd be – wow, I have no idea where I was going with that, and it just turned out uncomfortable, all of a sudden.'


'You like being a girl – that's good. I like being a guy – that's also good.'

'Next you'll be all Me, Tarzan, you, Jane!'

'I've seen you stick arrows in vampires. Not too damn likely I'd be thumping my chest and trying to tell you I wear the loincloth around here.'

'And you changed the subject. Michael. Eve.'

He held up his left hand. 'I swear, I have no idea what Michael's thinking. Guys don't spend all their time trying to mind-read each other.'


'Like I said. If you want to know, ask him. Michael doesn't lie worth a damn, anyway. Not to people he cares about.'

That was true, or at least it always had been before. A particularly cold slash of wind cut at the exposed skin of Claire's throat and face, and she shivered and burrowed closer to Shane's warm side.

'Before you ask,' Shane said, bending his head low to hers, 'I love you.'

'I wasn't going to ask.'

'Oh, you were going there in your head. And I love you. Now it's your turn.'

She couldn't help the grin that spread across her face, or the warmth that burst up inside her, a summer contrast to the winter's day. 'Well, you know, I'm stillanalysing how I feel, in my completely girly way.'

'Oh, now that's just low.'

She turned, stood on her tiptoes, and kissed him. Shane's lips were chilled and a little dry, but they warmed up, and a lick of her tongue softened the kiss into silk and velvet. He tasted like coffee and caramel and a dark, spiced undertone that was all his own. A taste she craved, every day, every hour, every minute.

Shane made a pleased sound in the back of his throat, picked her up around the waist, and moved her backward until she felt a cold brick wall against her shoulders. Then he set about really kissing her – deep, sweet, hot, intent. She lost herself in it, drifting and delirious, until he finally came up for air. The look in his brown eyes was focused and dreaming at the same time, and his smile was . . . dangerous. 'Are you still analysing?' he asked.

'Hmmm,' Claire said, and pressed against him. 'I think I've come to a conclusion.'

'Damn, I hope not. I've still got a lot of ways left to try to make my case.'

Someone cleared a throat near them, and it was unexpected enough to make Shane take a giant step back and turn, putting himself between the source of that noise and Claire. Protecting her, as always. Claire shook her head in exasperation and moved to her right, standing next to him.

The throat clearing had come from Father Joe. The priest of Morganville's Catholic church was a man in his early thirties, with red hair and freckles and kind eyes, and the smile he gave them was only just a touch judgemental. 'Don't mean to disturb you,' he said, which was a lie, but maybe only a small one. 'Claire, I wanted to thank you for coming to last Sunday's choir practice. You have a very nice voice.'

She blushed – partly because a priest had just closely observed her thinking very impure thoughts about her boyfriend, and partly because she wasn't used to those kinds of compliments. 'It's not very strong,' she said. 'But I like to sing, sometimes.'

'You just need practice,' he said. 'I hope we'll see you again at mass.' He raised those eyebrows at her, then nodded to Shane. 'You're always invited, too.'

'Thanks for asking,' Shane said, almost sincerely.

'But you won't come.'

'Not too damn likely, Father.'

Claire continued to blush, because as Father Joe walked away, hands clasped behind his back, Shane had turned to stare at her. 'Mass?' he echoed, raising his eyebrows. 'Tell me you're not confessing, too.'

'No, you have to be a real Catholic to do that,' she said.

'So – what was the attraction?'

'Myrnin wanted to go.' That said volumes, brief as it was. Claire's boss – a dangerously nuts vampire who was an utter sweetheart, most of the time, until he wasn't – was not a subject Shane really liked very much, and she hurried on as she saw his expression shift a little toward annoyance. 'I went with him a couple of times as, you know, sanity control. But I'm more of a Unitarian, I guess. The church is nice, though. And so is Father Joe. Hey, did you know there's a Jewish temple in town, too, and a mosque? They're both really small, but they're here. I don't think the vamps are too welcome there, though.'

'Just don't go telling him about, you know, anything personal. About us.'


He buffed his fingernails on his coat and looked at them with an exaggerated smugness. 'Me, embarrassed? Nah, I was just worried he'd feel bad about his celibacy thing.'

'God, you are such a jackass.'

'That is three times you've called me that in one walk. You need a new compliment.' He tickled her, and she mock-shrieked and ran, and he chased her, and they raced each other around the block, down the street, all the way to the white fence around their not-very-attractive yard, up the walk to the big pillared porch of the peeling Victorian house. The Glass House, called that because the last (and current) owners were the Glass family – Michael being the last of that family still in residence. The rest of them were, technically, renting rooms, but over time Shane, Claire, and Eve had become Michael's family. As close as, anyway.

As evidenced by the fact that when Shane opened the door, he yelled out, 'Put your pants on, people, we are back!'

'Shut up!' Eve yelled from somewhere upstairs. 'Jackass!'

'You know, when people say that, I just hear the word awesome,' Shane said. 'What's for lunch? Because personally I am down two pints of blood and I need food. Cookies and orange juice did not cut it.'

'Hot dogs,' Eve's distant voice said. 'And no, I didn't make chili. You'd just criticise how I make it. But there's relish and onions and mustard!'

'You're a princess!' Shane called back on his way to the kitchen. 'OK, a lame Goth half-dead princess, but whatever!'

'Jack. Ass!'

Claire shook her head as she dumped her backpack on the couch. She was glowing and tingling from the run, and felt a little light-headed – probably hadn't been smart, doing that so soon after giving blood, but that was one thing you learnt quick in Morganville: how to run even with blood loss. Shane wandered into the kitchen, and she heard things banging around for a few minutes. He came back with two plates, one with plain hot dogs, one with hot dogs buried under a mound of whatever that stuff was – onions, relish, mustard, probably hot sauce, too.

Claire took the plain plate. He dug a can of Coke out of his pocket and handed that over, too. 'You're officially no longer a jackass,' she told him, as he thumped down on the couch beside her and started shovelling food in his mouth. He mumbled something and winked at her, and she ate in slow, measured bites as she thought about what she was going to do about Eve.

Shane finished his plate first – not surprisingly – and took hers away into the kitchen, leaving her holding the second hot dog. He was gone – conveniently – when Eve came downstairs. Her poufy black net skirt brushed the wall with a strange hiss as she descended, like a snake's, and Eve did look poisonously fierce, Claire thought. A leather corset and jacket, skull-themed tights under the skirt, a black leather choker with spikes, and loads of makeup. She flung herself on the couch in Shane's deserted spot and thumped her booted feet up on the coffee table with a jingle of chrome chain.

'I can't believe you actually got him to donate without some kind of four-point restraint system,' Eve said, and reached for the game controller. Not that the TV was on, but she liked to fiddle with things, and the controller was perfect. On her left hand, the diamond engagement ring twinkled softly in the light. It was a silver ring, not gold; Eve didn't do gold. But the diamond was beautiful. 'You're going to be around on Saturday to decorate, right?'

'Right,' Claire agreed, and took a bite of her hot dog. She was still hungry, and focused hard on the delicious taste to take her mind off what Oliver had said. 'Anything you want me to get?'

Eve smiled, a happy curve of dark-red lips, and dug in the pocket of her jacket. She came out with a piece of paper, which she handed over. 'Thought you'd never ask, maid of honour,' she said. 'I had some trouble finding the right party supplies. I was hoping maybe you'd take a look . . . ?'

'Sure,' Claire said. It was a long list, and she silently mourned the loss of her day off. 'Ah – Eve—?'

'Yeah?' Eve ran her hands through her shag-cut hair, fluffing it out into the appropriate puffball thickness. 'Hey, do you think this is too much for meeting with Father Joe?'

Claire blinked as she tried to put the image of Eve's combat boots and stiff net skirt into the same space with Father Joe. She gave up and said, 'Probably.'

'Awesome. I was going for over-the-top. That way, no matter what I wear to the party, it'll be a relief.'

Eve had a logic all her own, and usually it was awesomely amusing, but right now, Claire was focused on something else. Shane wasn't going to like it, and truthfully she didn't much enjoy it, either, but she felt like she had to speak up. That was what friends did, right? Speak up even when it was hard.

'I need to tell you something,' Claire said. There must have been something serious in her voice, because Eve stopped fiddling with the controller and put it aside. She turned, putting one knee up on the couch, and faced Claire directly. Now that she had Eve's undivided attention, though, Claire felt suddenly tongue-tied, and there was a suspicious absence of Shane as backup . . . and no sound from the kitchen. He was probably lurking on the other side of the door, listening.


Eve saved her from the unbearable tension by saying, in a very level voice, 'Oliver talked to you, didn't he?'

Claire pulled in a deep, relieved breath. 'You know.'

'Oh, he's been dropping hints like atomic bombs for about a month now,' Eve said. 'Everything short of ordering Michael to call it off.' Her dark eyes studied Claire's face, all too knowing. 'He told you to tell us to call it off.' Claire just nodded. Eve's lips slowly spread into a wicked smile. 'See, I always wanted to turn this town upside down, and we are so doing that. I can just hear him now. Back in my day, humans knew their place. What's next, marrying cattle? Dogs and cats, living together.'

Her impersonation of Oliver's accent and impatience was so dead-on that Claire burst out laughing, a little guiltily. She heard the kitchen door swing open behind her, and when she glanced back, she saw Shane standing there, arms folded, leaning against the wall as he watched the two of them. 'So,' he said. 'Vamp Central Command doesn't want you guys getting hitched. What are you going to do?'

'Piss them off,' Eve said. 'You with me?'

Shane's smile was every bit as dark and wicked as Eve's. 'You know it.'

'See, I knew I could count on you for quality mayhem, my man.' Eve settled her focus back on Claire again. 'What about you?'


'I know you're friends with them,' Eve said. 'Lots more than me or Shane. This is going to put you in the middle. I don't like that, but it's going to happen.'

'Oliver already tried to put me in the middle, but as far as I'm concerned, who you marry is none of his damn business,' Claire said. 'I just wanted to make sure you knew what was happening.'

'And what about Amelie?'

'It's none of her business, either. This can't be the first time a human and a vampire got married.'

'It isn't.' They all jumped – Eve included – because Michael was standing at the top of the stairs, looking over the railing at them, looking casual and rumpled and fresh out of bed. His shirt was still half-unbuttoned.

'Sorry,' he said. 'Didn't mean to eavesdrop.' He kept fastening his shirt on the way down, which was – from a purely objective point of view, Claire thought virtuously – kind of a pity. 'It isn't the first time a vampire and a human have gotten married in Morganville, and that's the problem.' He was a tall boy – and, oddly for a vampire, he was almost exactly as old as he looked, which was frozen somewhere around eighteen. It was a weird thought, but Shane looked just a little bit older now than when Claire had first met him, and Michael didn't. And never would.

He settled into his usual chair, the one where his guitar was lying in its case next to it. He was like Eve; he had to have something to do with his hands, and in his case, his default was the guitar. He went for it immediately, and began picking out soft chords and notes, tuning the strings as he went.

'Well?' Shane said, and sat on the arm of the sofa beside Claire. 'You can't leave it like that, man.'

Michael glanced at him, a flash of big blue eyes, and then set his gaze at a safe middle distance. His music face, Claire thought, the one that he put up like a shield. One place he wasn't looking was at Eve. At all. And that just wasn't right.

'It was before my time,' he said. 'Back in the sixties, I guess, a vamp named Pavel hooked up with a girl named Jenny, and it got serious. They got married.'

Silence, except for the steady, relentless whisper of his fingers on the strings of the guitar. Eve was staring at him intensely, and finally said, 'You haven't told me this.'

That broke through his shell for a second, and he glanced over at her, an apologetic and gentle look. 'Sorry,' he said. 'I was trying to think how to do it, because it's not a happy ending.'

'Didn't think it was,' she said. Eve sounded very steady, very adult. 'But every story's tragic somewhere along the way. You just have to know where to stop telling the story to make it a happy ending.'

'Well, this one doesn't have any happy middles, either,' Michael said. 'They were married for about a month, and Pavel killed her. He didn't mean to do it, he just . . . couldn't cope.'

'Why?' Claire asked. Michael raised his eyebrows, just a twitch, and got a very odd look on his face, as if he was trying to think how to phrase his reply.

Finally, he said, 'He wasn't used to being around humans on a daily basis. In particular, not around girls.'

'And she pissed him off?' Shane asked.

'Not exactly – you really don't want to know.'

'Yeah,' Shane said, frowning. 'I kinda do.'

Michael now looked truly uncomfortable. 'There are times when it's hard to be around girls when you're a vampire. Look, don't make me draw you a picture, OK?'

'I don't—' Eve's face went blank, and she looked over at Claire. 'Oh. Oh.'

Claire shrugged, mystified for just another second, and then she got it, too.

Once a month. And vampires could smell blood.

She imagined her expression looked pretty much like Eve's.

Shane slowly sat down on the couch next to Claire. 'That is . . . epically disgusting,' Shane said, 'and I don't think I will ever, ever get that out of my brain again, man. Thanks.'

'Told you you didn't want to know,' Michael said. 'Anyway, Pavel didn't expect it, and he lost control and killed her. Then her family came after him and killed him. The vamps arrested her father and brother and executed them; some said they weren't even the ones who did it. It started the whole human underground resistance, and a bunch of them attacked the vampire districts and tried to burn them down. People and vampires got hurt, some got killed. Morganville was chaos for a while. It was bad.'

They all let that sit in silence for a few seconds, and then Eve said, 'And now, what? Amelie's afraid our story's going to end the same way? With her cleaning up the mess?'

'I don't want to hurt you,' Michael said. He'd lowered his head while he was talking, focusing on his guitar, but now he looked up and directly at her, blue eyes clear and honest. 'But we both know the risks, Eve.'

'Honey, it's not the same thing at all. If you were going to snap, you'd have already done it – you've been living in a house with three heartbeats and two girls for how long now? You're not going to make a mistake, because you've already proved you know how to handle – this.' She waved at them, the whole situation, everything. 'You said it yourself, Pavel hardly ever came in contact with a pulse. He got overwhelmed – too much too soon. You're already used to it.'

'What if I'm not?' he asked softly. 'You really think about what might happen?'

She pulled in a deep breath. 'All the time, Michael. I'm the one who's risking my life, after all.'

Shane cleared his throat. 'If you guys want to have some kind of serious convo, let me clear the hell out.'

'No, you stay,' Eve commanded. 'Everybody stays. Everybody needs to hear this, right, Michael? If Amelie wants to come down from the mountain and tell you stop the wedding, what are you going to do about it?'

He looked – well, there was no other word for it than miserable. He looked down again, strummed a few chords, actually hit a wrong note. She saw him flinch, and he deliberately waited a few long seconds before he said, 'I'd do what's right.' 'That's not an answer.' Eve's voice shook a little this time, and her fists clenched where they rested on her skull-patterned tights. 'Michael, are you going to marry me even if Amelie tells you not to do it?'

'I don't know if I can,' he said. 'Amelie can influence other vampires, if she wants to. She has the power to make me do what she wants.'


'I'm telling you the truth!' He shouted it, and almost threw the guitar back in its case, standing up with sudden energy. His pale face was lightly flushed, and his body language rippled with tension. Claire unconsciously pressed herself back into the cushions, and felt Shane shift his weight next to her. She put a hand on his knee, and he relaxed. A little. 'Dammit, Eve, I am trying, don't you understand? It's not like I can just do what I want, twenty-four/seven! I'm—'

'Owned,' Eve finished for him, and stood up to face him. Her fists were still clenched. 'Amelie's pet. And she can make you roll over, is that it? You won't stand up to her, even for me?'


'No. No, I get it.' She was gulping in deep breaths now, and her eyes glittered, but she wasn't crying. Not yet. 'Do you even want to marry me, really?'

'God,' Michael whispered. He stepped forward and put his arms around her, a sudden, almost desperate move, and she was like a statue in his arms, stiff with surprise. 'God, Eve, yes. I want to make you happy. I want that so much.'

She went limp against him, holding on, and rested her forehead against his shoulder. 'Then fight for us,' she whispered. 'Please.'

'If I fight Amelie, I'll lose.'

'Then go down fighting, you jerk!'

He kissed the top of her head. 'I will.' He rested his chin there where he'd kissed, and Claire realised that he was looking at Shane. She glanced up and saw Shane looking back. Whatever communication was going on there, she didn't have the playbook to read it. Shane's face was blank, his body language tense.

After a second, he got up and walked out of the room into the kitchen. Claire stuffed the rest of her hot dog in her mouth and followed him.

Shane kept walking, right to the back door, opened it, and went outside. Claire chewed fast, swallowed, and lunged out after him before the screen door flapped shut. She hopped down the concrete steps and caught up with Shane just as he sat down under the shade of the scraggly tree next to the leaning wooden garage.

'What was that look?'

Shane pulled out a pack of breath mints and took two, then passed them over. She took one. 'You know what it was.'

'Really don't.'

'If you don't know, you don't want to know, trust me.'

'It could not possibly be as bad as the Pavel story.'

He sighed. 'It's just that I'm not going to stand there while he lies to her. I'm trying to be all nonviolent and shit. And I want to punch him, and he knows it, and out here is better right now until I get myself together.'

Wow. That was a lot of communication going on in a ten-second look. So much for guys not talking; they just did it way, way differently. 'Wait . . . He waslying?'

'I'm not saying he doesn't love her. He does. But—' Shane was silent for a moment. 'But there's something else, too.' He shrugged. 'Look, it's between them, OK? We have to let them work it out.'

'No, it's not between them – she's my best friend! I can't let her walk into this if he's not really serious!'

'She knows,' Shane said. 'Girls know, deep down.'

She did, Claire realised. Eve had been focused on all the stuff, the party plans, the invitations, all that, instead of facing her own fears. She already knew something was wrong, and she didn't know how to fix it. 'Well – she can't go through with it. She just can't.'

'Hang on, half an hour ago you were saying how the vamps couldn't tear apart true love.'

'If it is. But what if it's not, Shane? What if they're making some awful, awful mistake and they're both afraid to admit it?'

He put his arm around her shoulders, and she leant against him, turning her face to bury it in the heavy fabric of his blue jean jacket. It was chilly out here, even in the sun, and she was grateful for the warmth of his body. The feel of his fingers stroking through her hair made some tense, anxious part of her slowly relax inside. 'You can't fix everything,' he told her. 'Sometimes you've just got to let it fix itself, or wreck itself.'

'Was it Gloriana?' she asked. Her voice was muffled, but she knew he could hear and understand. 'Do you think she got to Michael?'

At the sound of the female vampire's name, Shane's muscles tightened, then deliberately loosened; it wasn't quite a flinch, but it definitely was close. Gloriana had been a horrible, manipulative, deceptive (beautiful) witch of a vamp who'd wanted – well, human playthings. She had definitely gotten to Shane, who'd become her toy soldier; she'd seduced the part of him that loved to fight.

She'd treated Michael differently. Still a toy, but a completely different kind.

'Maybe she did get to him,' Shane acknowledged quietly. 'Yeah, at least a little. She could do that, make you feel – anything she wanted. It's tough to deal with it, but at least Glory's gone in that notcoming-back way. Eve's still here.'

'Is that enough?'

He didn't answer her, and Claire thought, miserably, that there really was no answer – none the two of them could get to, anyway. He was right.

It was Eve and Michael's engagement, and Eve and Michael's problem.

If they could admit they actually had one.

The shadows got longer, and the wind got colder, and eventually not even Shane's body heat could keep Claire from freezing, so they went back inside. It was quiet, but not silent; as Claire poured herself a glass of water and grabbed an apple from the bowl on the table, she heard the creak of footsteps overhead. It had to be Eve, because from the living room drifted the quiet, contemplative sound of Michael's guitar. Talk about 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', Claire thought. That was the saddest thing she'd ever heard.

Shane gave her a quick, sweet kiss and went into the living room. She stayed where she was, eating her apple, listening to the quiet, low buzz of their voices over the music (Michael was still playing), and wondering if she ought to go upstairs and see if Eve wanted to spill it out. It was a friend's duty, right? But Claire felt angry at Michael right now, righteously angry, and she wasn't sure that wouldn't boil over and complicate everything even more.

She eased over to the kitchen door and cracked it open. Shane would be kicking Michael's ass, at least verbally; she just knew it.

But he wasn't. They weren't talking about Eve or the engagement party at all.

Michael was saying, '. . . over it, man. If you want us to get back where we were, you have to let that crap go.'

There was a short silence, and then Shane said, 'I hurt Claire. Hell, man, I hurt you. I wanted to kill every damn vampire in the entire world, including you, single-handed.' He paused for a second, and then said, very softly, 'I was like my dad, only on steroids, and it felt right. I'm not sure that's ever going away, Mike. That's my problem. If deep down I'm an abusive, violent ass like my old man, how exactly do I pretend I don't know that?'

'You're not him.' Michael kept playing, a slow and soothing tune, and his voice was quiet and deep. 'Never were, never will be. You just hang on to that.' He paused a second, and Claire almost heard a smile in his voice. 'You still want to kill me?'

'Sometimes, yeah.' Shane, on the other hand, sounded completely serious. 'I love you, man, but – it takes time for all that stuff to go away. I don't want to feel it.'

'I know, shithead.'

'If you break Eve's heart, I will kill you.'

Michael stopped playing. 'It's complicated.'

'No, it's not. Stop screwing around and commit.'

'Oh, so now you're giving me relationship advice? You can't commit to a cell phone contract, let alone—'

'I'm committed,' Shane interrupted. 'To her. You know I am.'

'Yeah,' Michael said. 'Yeah, I know that. And you know if you screw it up with Claire, I'll rip your throat out and drink you like a juice box, so you've got some incentive.'

Shane laughed. 'You know what? I do that, you've got permission. And you know how I feel about that whole drinking-me stuff.'

It was a nice moment – one of the best she'd heard between them for a while – and then it all fell apart because there was a knock at the back door, and Claire went to answer it, and standing on the steps was a vampire. Female, wearing a hooded black jacket and gloves, very chic but also very sun-blocking. Claire couldn't really make her out beneath the giant dark glasses and the smothering garments, so she said, 'Can I help you?'

'It's Claire, isn't it? Hello. You probably don't remember me,' the woman said. She smiled, a little tentatively. 'My name is Naomi. I met you the day that you freed us from confinement in the cells below town.'

For a few seconds Claire didn't know what she was talking about, because that had happened a long time ago. Once she did remember, she blinked and involuntarily stepped back.

When she'd first come to Morganville, the vampires had been hiding a secret: they were sick, and getting sicker. That illness led first to forgetfulness, then to acting out, then to mindless violence . . . and finally to a motionless catatonia. The onset varied from one vampire to another; some were dangerously uncontrollable in weeks, and others were watching themselves slip slowly, day by day, year by year, toward the inevitable.

Naomi had been in the cells – one of the violent ones, confined for everybody's safety. When the cure had been distributed, those vampires had gotten better, and returned to normal – for Morganville – lives. She'd thanked Claire, back then, and seemed nice enough, if disturbingly Vampire with a Capital V.

Naomi took silence as an invitation, and stepped over the threshold into the kitchen, sighing with relief. 'Thank you,' she said. 'I fear I don't brave the sun as much as I ought. Even at my age, one needs to build up a tolerance, but I'm not good at forcing myself to do unpleasant things.' She pulled off the glam glasses and pushed back her hood, and the face finally clicked into place for Claire. Lustrous, long blonde hair, pretty, young. She looked a little like the much-loathed Gloriana, whom Claire and Shane had just been mutually hating, but Naomi was a very different person, and a very different kind of vampire

– at least, from Claire's memory of her.

She smiled politely at Claire and held out a slender hand. Claire took it and shook. Naomi's felt cool and strong.

'Uh – it's nice to see you,' Claire said, which was kind of a lie, because it was unsettling to see any vampire show up at your back door. 'What can I do for you?'

'May we sit?' Naomi indicated the kitchen table with a very elegant gesture, and Claire couldn't shake the idea that this girl – not much older physically than she herself was now – had grown up in a time when elegance and perfect manners were survival tools, especially for girls. Especially for royal girls.

'Sure,' Claire said, instantly marking herself as part of the unwashed rabble, definitely not throne-worthy, but she tried to sit down with at least a little bit of grace. 'Can I get you any – well, anything?' They had a little extra type A in the refrigerator, not that it was Claire's to offer, but she didn't think Michael would mind. Then again, she felt weird about offering blood as if it was a cup of tea. There were limits to being social.

'I thank you, it is most generous of you, but no, I am not hungry,' Naomi said. The way she sat, straight-backed and yet somehow perfectly at ease, made Claire feel sweaty and round-shouldered. 'I am very pleased to see you again. I am told you are doing very well in your studies.' Her polite smile deepened a little, bringing out charming little dimples. 'And that sounds as if I'm your terribly ancient maiden aunt. I am sorry. This is awkward, is it not?'

'A little bit,' Claire said, and couldn't help but smile back. Naomi felt like a real person to her – someone who had lived a real life, and still remembered what it was like to have human feelings. 'Things are going OK, thanks for asking. And you – how's your sister?' She scrambled to remember the name, some kind of flower . . . 'Violet?' 'I am gratified you remember. Violet is fine. She's taken up the opportunities Morganville presents with an alarming amount of enthusiasm. She's painting now.' Naomi rolled her eyes. 'She's not very good, but she's very determined. It always irked her when we were children that she was forbidden to do anything but ladylike watercolours. Every time I see her these days, she looks as if she's fallen face-first onto a paint palette.'

'When we met before, you said – I think you said you were Amelie's sisters?' Meaning sisters to the town's vampire Founder, Amelie the all-powerful. Claire, looking at Naomi, could believe it; there was something about the way she held her head, the posture, even the glossy pale hair.

So she was a little surprised when Naomi shook her head. 'Oh, no, we are not sisters in the sense that we were born in the same family,' she said. 'Sisters in our second birth, if you will. We are both of the same generation turned by Bishop, and there are not so many of us left, so by tradition we look on each other as family. Violet is my true sister of my mortal life. Amelie is our sister of immortal life. I know it's a bit confusing.'

'Oh.' Claire wasn't very clear about the vampire concept of family . . . Apparently they traced it through who had made them vampires in the first place, so Bishop had a lot of kids, some of whom were what Claire considered good – like Amelie – and most of whom were definitely not. It mattered, but Claire wasn't really sure how much, or how it ranked against a human family relationship. Not enough to keep them from occasionally killing one another, but then, the same could be said for natural-born siblings. 'I just wondered.'

'At the time I met you, I wasn't used to speaking with mortals. It had been a very long time, and we were still . . . not as well as we could have been. But we're much better now.' Naomi showed a full smile, and it was just a tiny bit unsettling. My, what big teeth you have, Claire thought. Not that Naomi had done anything wrong, not at all. She didn't even show a hint of fang. 'So of course, I first want to apologise for any possible discomfort I might have caused you during our initial meeting. None was intended, believe me.'

That was, in terms of what had gone on in Claire's life, a really long time ago, and it struck her as oddly funny. She tried not to let it show. 'No, really, it was fine. I'm fine.'

'Ah, you relieve me.' Naomi settled back in her chair, as if she really was relieved, which Claire sincerely doubted. 'Now that I'm reassured on that point, I can proceed to my second. I came to pay a call on my youngest relative.'

Again, Claire went blank. 'Um . . . excuse me?'

'Michael,' Naomi said. There was something that turned warm and even sweeter in her voice when she mentioned Michael's name, and that wasn't vampire at all . . . That was something Claire understood completely. 'I have been missing him.'

It was purely a girl-appreciating-a-hottie reaction.

And just like that, it all came crystal clear for Claire. There was, after all, a hidden vampire angle to what was going on with Eve and Michael . . . He must have been seeing Naomi. On the side. Without telling anyone, or at least not discussing it in front of Claire and Shane, and Claire was pretty sure that Eve wouldn't have been just Oh, fine about it if she'd really known.

The pretty blonde reason for Michael's erratic behaviour was sitting across the table and smiling at her.

Claire stood up, all in one rushed motion. 'I'll go get him,' she said. She knew it sounded rude, and saw surprise on Naomi's face, but she didn't care, not at all. 'Stay here.' And that was probably even ruder, that somebody with royal-whatever blood was being told to stay in the kitchen like the help. Good.

Claire burst through the kitchen door. She must have interrupted some intense guy talk, because both Michael and Shane stopped talking and straightened up the way people did when they felt guilty. Michael hushed his guitar strings with a flat palm.

'You have a visitor,' Claire said. She spat the words out flat and hard, straight at Michael, and she thought he must have been able to hear how fast her heart was beating. Maybe her face was red. It should have been; she felt hot all over. 'It's Naomi.'

If she'd had any doubts at all about it, the sight of his face when she said the name erased them. That was the most shocked, caught-red-handed expression she'd ever seen, and God, in that moment she hated him.

Shane looked over at his best friend, but by the time he did, Michael had managed to wipe away all guilt from his expression and just look curious. 'Oh,' he said, and stood up, leaning his guitar against the arm of the chair. It seemed to her to be not just careful, but too careful, as if he was afraid to be seen rushing. As if he felt he had to slow down and make sure he didn't make mistakes. 'Of course. Thanks, Claire.'

She glared at him, and avoided him as he went past her toward the kitchen. She headed straight for the steps, prepared to run all the way up, but Shane's voice stopped her. 'Hey,' he said, keeping it low. 'What the hell?'

'You go ask. You're always telling me not to try to analyse,' she said, and went up, wondering if she should tell Eve, wondering if that would lead to the ultimate Glass House apocalypse. She didn't, only because she heard the shower running. Eve tended to shower when she got unhappy. There wouldn't be any hot water for anybody else, not for a while.

Claire passed up the bathroom, closed and locked her door, put her headphones on, and blocked out the world with the loudest, saddest music she could stand.

Oh, Michael, how could you?

If the knowledge hurt her, how awful was it going to be for Eve?