Dec 19, 2013


The Deep End of the Sea Cover Reveal

Greek mythology is the best. There's just so much of it that it never gets boring, and when authors shake up the stories that we think we know, like Heather Lyons is doing here, it makes it just that much more exciting!
The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons

What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong?

Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age.

But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.

The Deep End of the Sea releases February 13, 2014!

Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

Website          Goodreads          Facebook          Twitter

Dec 18, 2013


Cutlass Cover Reveal & GIVEAWAY!!!

This cover is so pretty!!!! I absolutely love the fire and night sky backgrounds, and the colors are gorgeous! Great job Mae I Design!
Cutlass by Ashley Nixon

Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy's fiancĂ© seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

Cutlass releases April 23rd 2014!

Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren't used as much as she'd like. When she's not writing, she's hard at work on her Master's degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she's Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she's loved everything Fantasy--resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the 'geek' tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.

Website          Goodreads          Facebook          Twitter

Okay,  I would just like to say that Ashley's hair is gorgeous! That's all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 17, 2013


Class of '98 Blog Tour: Promo & GIVEAWAY!!!

This book sounds like it has the potential to be really funny. And the premise alone is exciting, so I'm really looking forward to reading it! Hopefully you'll see a review of it up here at some point in time!
Class of '98 by A.L. Player

Jackie Dunn and Matt Stewart barely knew each other in high school, back when she was a blue-haired alterna-kid and he was a preppy jock. High school rules dictated they'd never hang out, or sit at the same lunch table, or God forbid, date.

But when a weird storm transports them from their ten-year reunion back to senior year, they have to work together to figure out a way to get back to 2008.

Stuck in high school, Jackie and Matt agree to tough it out. They agree to do everything exactly as they remember, even though that means staying with the boyfriend Jackie knows will betray her, or playing nice with the girl that will someday be Matt’s ex-wife. Soon, they come to rely on one other, even become friends.

Jackie’s just starting to get used to curfews and term papers again, when Matt hits her with the biggest surprise of all: he’s fallen in love with her. He’ll change the past however he has to if it means a future with Jackie. But Jackie’s terrified they’ll not only alter their lives, but the lives of everyone around them.

Back to the Future meets She's All That, Class of '98 is a young adult/adult crossover that will appeal to teens and adults.

Amazon          B&N

A. L. Player teaches middle and high school English in Atlanta, GA. She lives with her guitar-playing, English-teaching husband and their three crazy rescue dogs. Her last name gets about the reaction you'd expect.

CLASS OF '98 is A.L.'s first novel.

Blog          Goodreads          Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 16, 2013


Inferno of Love Cover Reveal: Excerpt & GIVEAWAY!!!
Inferno of Love by Allie Boniface

What happens when your soul mate returns after twelve long years – and has no idea who you are?

Aubrey Anderson is a pediatric occupational therapist who’s spent the last twelve years rebuilding her life after a car accident killed her boyfriend and crushed her legs. A series of strokes on the way to the hospital left her with no memory of either the accident or the weeks leading up to it, so when she starts having nightmares she can’t explain, she decides to return to the scene to see if she can piece together her past.

Finn Cavallo is Lindsey Point's resident playboy, owner of a popular bar, and hero of the Cove Fire, when he pulled seven people from a burning building twelve years earlier. But his flirtatious personality hides the heart of a man who lost his soul mate the night of the fire. When Aubrey walks into his bar with no memory of who he is or what they had, he’s stunned – and it takes everything he has not to tell her about the summer they spent falling in love.

It's only a matter of time before bar conversation turns to passion on the beach and more. But when a series of events raises suspicion that Finn himself might have started the Cove Fire, Aubrey is forced to do whatever she can to discover the truth about both their pasts, including going back to the spot where it all began...

Inferno of Love releases January 2014!

Allie Boniface was born and raised in a tiny community in upstate New York, which probably

explains her fascination with the magic of small town life. She currently teaches high school English in the lower Hudson Valley, where she lives with her husband and two furry felines. She is the author of six contemporary romance novels; Inferno of Love is the second in her Hometown Heroes series. Allie loves chatting with other authors and readers and can be found around the Web (visit her on Facebook or Twitter, and stop by her blog to check out the latest news). She loves attending writers' conferences, giving workshops, swapping stories, and generally talking about romance. Allie loves stories set in small towns and is a firm believer in the power of love and the emotions that connect us all!

Aubrey stared at her glass of wine. "God, I just – I wish I could remember something."

Finn fell again just like that, watching her catch her bottom lip in her teeth as she mulled over her words. The rhythm of her voice, the way her eyes caught the light…he was nineteen all over again, crushing on another man's girlfriend without a clue of what to do about it.

Only he wasn't nineteen anymore.

And Aubrey wasn't here with another man.

Forget it. He was done thinking. He moved from around the bar without a word, and as he closed the distance between them, she slipped from her stool, moving toward him and landing in his arms like she'd been there all this time. His hand went to the back of her head, cupping it and easing it closer. Her chin lifted, and he caught her mouth with his, loving the way her breath hitched in her throat. She melted into him, the warmth of her curves searing his skin and soaking into the very core of him. His eyes closed.

He slid his tongue over her bottom lip, taking it slow, waiting for her to step back or break the connection. She didn't. A minute passed, then another. The kiss deepened, and he wasn't sure who pressed first, who wanted more urgently, but it didn't matter. Their tongues met, twisting over and under, delicious and wet and so hot he could barely stand it. Her hands moved from his shoulders to his waist to slide down the back of his jeans and pull him close, closer, until he knew she could feel the way he rose under her touch, wanting her like no other woman he'd ever been with.

"Oh, Finn…" she said into his mouth, and the words set him on fire. He couldn't wait, couldn't hold back one more second. His palm skimmed down her dress and beneath it, to the swell of her ass and skin so smooth he wanted to taste it. She rose onto her toes, and her mouth crushed his until she pulled her lips away and moved them to his neck and his jaw line and up to his ear, leaving a breathy trail every place she touched.

"Listen, we – " know each other. We've done this before. He had to tell her. Didn't he?

"I don't want to talk."

Dec 11, 2013


Whisper Cover Reveal

If the name Chelsea M. Cameron sounds familiar to you, it's because you're incredibly intelligent and have been reading my other posts. I just reviewed her novel For Real (you can read my review here, if you'd like to) and loved it so much that all it took was seeing her name for me to sign up for this cover reveal.

Comparing the old cover to the new one, I really don't think that there's any competition. I do see that pennies seem to be a common symbol, so I'm really excited to see what they mean!
Whisper by Chelsea M. Cameron

People think I'm crazy. Maybe I am, since I've been able to talk to spirits for as long as I can remember. They are the forgotten, the souls who have unfinished business and can't cross over. I help them, or at least I try to. There's this one in particular, Jack, I call him, who's been following me around a lot. Usually they tell me what they need to do and move on. Not him.

It isn't until he brings another spirit, Tracy, the victim of an unsolved hit-and-run accident, that I know for sure he's something more than just your average spirit. Then I start seeing him. And feeling his touch. And falling for him.

In our quest to get justice for Tracy and help her move on, Jack and I become something more than just a dead boy and a living girl. I'm just waiting to see what happens next…

Amazon          B&N          Kobo

Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting (this one time, she was tweeted by Neil Gaiman). She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Her New Adult Contemporary Romance titles include My Favorite Mistake, which has been bought by Harlequin along with a sequel, Deeper We Fall and Faster We Burn (April 20, 2013)

Her Young Adult books include Nocturnal, Nightmare and Neither, the first three books in The Noctalis Chronicles. The fourth and final book, Neverend will be out in 2013. Whisper, the first in The Whisper Trilogy is also available, with the second book in the series, Silence and the final book, Listen coming out in 2014.

Website          Facebook          Twitter          Goodreads

Dec 9, 2013


Shifting Fate Book Blast: Excerpt & GIVEAWAY!!!

Is the above graphic ridiculously and unnecessarily large? Of course it is. Do I care? Not one bit. And do you know why? Because it is so unbelievably gorgeous and epic and amazing and just plain wonderful that I wouldn't mind if it took up the whole page. Which it kind of does, but that's beside the point.

Shifting Fate is book #2 in the Descendants series. I'll put the summary for book one right under it. I don't think the Shifting Fate summary contains spoilers for Bound by Prophecy, but I can't be sure because I haven't read it yet. Which seems really stupid right now, considering how incredible the series sounds.
Shifting Fate by Melissa Wright

According to prophecy, Brianna Drake was born to save the world. The trouble is, she doesn't have the slightest idea how. Her visions should have given her the answer, but they’re beginning to shift, making the danger too unpredictable, even for a prophet.

If she can just help her sister restore their hidden powers, she might be able to stop what’s coming. But an old enemy returns, and he’s got plans for Brianna and her visions.

What neither of them knows is that fate has given a stranger one chance to find her. He was trained to protect the chosen—but if he fails, the future will crumble.


There is a teaser posted here and the first chapter here, but beware, it's full of spoilers from the first book!
Bound by Prophecy by Melissa Wright

Twenty-two-year-old Aern is done watching his brother destroy the only thing that matters. He never wanted to take Morgan’s place among council, never wanted to rule their hidden world. But when the key to the prophecy is found, a young girl named Brianna whom Morgan will destroy, Aern knows he has to take action.

What he really wants, is for things to go back to normal. But now he’s kidnapped a girl, and his brother’s men are after him. His only hope is to join with the Division, but they have plans of their own, and it’s the last thing Aern is willing to do.
Emily just wants her sister back. She doesn't care about the prophecy, or realize what’s at stake. But when she goes after Aern, the truth of the matter uncoils, and Brianna isn't the only one who’s in danger.

Suddenly, they’re at the center of a secret war, and unless they can work together, they’ll both have a sacrifice too big to make.

Amazon          B&N          The Book Depository          Kobo

The eBook of Bound by Prophecy is currently FREE, so go grab a copy while you still can!

About the Author

Melissa Wright is the author of the Frey Saga and the new Descendants series. Melissa spends her time working on novels, but when not writing she can be found on Goodreads and Pinterest.

Website          Blog          Goodreads          Pinterest          Google+

Shifting Fate, Chapter 2

I stayed there for a long while, staring at the dark marble countertop, the tiles inlaid with gold, until all of the voices quieted. When I finally came out, Brendan was waiting for me in the bedroom.

“I’m sorry about this,” he said, indicating the windowless walls around us. “As soon as the security updates are finished, we’ll be moving you to Council.” I could see the idea bothered him more than it should, and the rest of his explanation seemed to be more to convince himself than me. “It’s the best place for you. To keep you safe.”

I nodded.

“I had them bring up some lunch. It’s in the sitting room.”

My stomach turned. “Thanks. I’m not really hungry.”

He didn’t shift; he hadn’t taken his eyes off me at all. “If you’d like to sleep for a—”

“No,” I interrupted. “No, I’m not tired.” I was exhausted—my muscles ached, and my hands still shook—but I didn’t want to be alone.

He held out a hand. “Sit with me then?”

I walked past him toward the sitting room, and his hand fell to the small of my back. I could have sat in the reading chair, but I didn’t. Instead, I took the center of a small sofa where Brendan could settle beside me. His arm came around me, and I curled my legs up, letting him tuck my back against his side.

I shouldn’t have. I knew that. But Brendan cared about me, and it felt good to have someone there.

I stared at the wall across from us, a beautiful Wyeth painting centered over a narrow table. It was probably an original. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to appreciate it. They had been attacking Council ever since Morgan was taken. We had thought it was in retaliation. We had thought they meant to rescue Morgan. But we were wrong ... because they were after me.

I closed my eyes, trying to force a vision to come. It didn’t work that way, but I wanted so badly to finally have this over with, to save my sister and myself. To save everyone. I just needed a clue. One small indicator of how, of what I was searching for in Emily, of what to do.

Brendan’s hand slid down my arm, and I became suddenly aware I’d sunk into him. My elbow rested on his leg, my back against his chest. His cheek brushed my hair, and I went rigid.

“Brianna,” he started, and I was on my feet, nowhere to go but the table across from us.

I could almost feel his presence behind me. I picked up a vase, examining the etched glass, and internally cringed. Nice, Brianna, run over to look at glass.

“Brianna,” he said again, and the hurt in his tone was clear. I had to say something. Do something.

I turned to face him. “I’m sorry.” He was too close. I sat the vase back on the table, stepped one leg behind me. Two would have been too much. Two would have injured him more. I looked into his eyes, so dark they were nearly black, and said, “I like you, Brendan. I do.” Before I could finish, before I could add, “but …” his phone rang.

He answered it. In the middle of our conversation.

After a brief exchange, he slid the cell phone back into his pocket. His gaze found me. “I’m sorry, Brianna, but I have to take care of something.” He glanced at his watch. “I hate to leave you alone, but Aern will be here shortly. There are two men at the door, and the alarms are always on.” He reached up to touch my shoulder. “We will talk soon.”

And then he smiled, clearly only taking the “I like you” from our conversation, before walking out the door.

I stared at it for several minutes, open as it was, before finally falling onto the couch and throwing an arm over my eyes.

I had bigger problems, I knew, so I started populating a list in my head for when Aern arrived. I would do everything I could to resolve our issue. I had a lot of work to do before I could figure out where to start.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On tour with Prism Book Tours

Dec 7, 2013


For Real Blog Tour: Review & GIVEAWAY!!!

You guys.................. This book.................. It's just.... just.... so dang fantastic that I don't even know what to do with myself.

It is SO funny! There wasn't a single time that I sat down to read it that I didn't end up laughing. I completely loved it. In fact, I'll probably end up quoting most of the book by the time I'm done. Yeah, it's that good.

So good, in fact, that I urge you all to go and read it right now. It's only 99 cents, which is crazy, and you definitely don't want to miss it! You can find links to buy it underneath the summary!
For Real by Chelsea M. Cameron

Two people. One fake relationship. What could go wrong?

When virgin Shannon Travers gets fed up with her friends demanding that she find a boyfriend, she enlists the help of tattooed, mohawk-rocking graphic design student Jett. He’s more than happy to play along with their Fake Relationship, including the Ten Rules of Fake Dating that control-freak Shannon comes up with. Even if he likes to violate them. Repeatedly.

But what happens when Fake Dating starts to feel… not fake anymore? Will Shannon be willing to let go and embrace the first thing in her life that’s ever felt REAL?

Amazon          B&N          The Book Depository          Kobo

Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting (this one time, she was tweeted by Neil Gaiman). She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Her New Adult Contemporary Romance titles include My Favorite Mistake, which has been bought by Harlequin along with a sequel, Deeper We Fall and Faster We Burn (April 20, 2013)

Her Young Adult books include Nocturnal, Nightmare and Neither, the first three books in The Noctalis Chronicles. The fourth and final book, Neverend will be out in 2013. Whisper, the first in The Whisper Trilogy is also available, with the second book in the series, Silence and the final book, LIsten coming out in 2014.

Website          Facebook          Twitter          Goodreads

I would like to start out by saying that this is not normally my type of book. I usually go for the bigger action fantasy novels, but For Real seemed like it had great potential to be completely hilarious, which is the greatest quality any story can have, in my opinion, regardless of its genre. So I decided to take a chance and pick up the book. And it reminded me exactly why I need to read more contemporary novels.

I loved this book so much. Not only did it turn out to be brilliantly funny, but I loved nearly all of the characters, and the story was a lot of fun too. It's not what I would call a deep or provoking read, but that's not what I'm looking for a lot of the time. Sometimes I just want a book that will make me fall in love with the characters and have the time of my life reading. That's exactly what For Real was for me.

It was really hard for me to put this book down, which means that I probably didn't get nearly as much real world work done as I should have. When I was in the moment, though, there really wasn't much of a debate. Let's see. Do homework or keep reading the awesome book that can't make you stop laughing? Well, I guess one more chapter wouldn't hurt. But then one chapter turned into two, which into three, and before I knew it, it was already nighttime and I still had work to do.

The funny thing is that I actually came up with a system similar to what Shannon did when she had to work on homework around Jett.

"I set up a reward system for myself. That's the only way I'm going to get anything done. Read two pages, glance at Jett. Read two more. Look at Jett."

Shannon and I actually ended up having a lot of other things in common. For example, her logic is always flawless:

"They have cannolis; JACKPOT. I get six of them, because I'm definitely going to want at least three, and if I have three, it only seems fair to give three to Jett. Or maybe I'll eat four and Jett will get two.

Okay, so I eat one two seconds after I check out, so there are only five left. So then I have to eat another to make it even."

I don't know what anybody else thinks, but I feel like that was the only valid solution. Shannon and I also share a crazy devotion to schoolwork (no matter how much it pains us), and an unnatural fear of the letter "B," for related reasons.

"Hazel is always telling me that I'm missing out on the college experience, but I'd rather not wake up on the floor of a strange apartment, under a strange naked guy not knowing how I'd gotten there. If that makes me a loser, then I guess I'll wear that label proudly. I can party when I've gotten what I wanted."

So then there's her relationship with Hazel. Whenever they interacted, they kept on reminding me of how I am with Gabby. Gabby's not quite as forceful as Hazel is (thank goodness), but their underlying personality traits are very similar.

As for Shannon's other friends, the only one that I got a pretty good picture of was Jordyn. The others just kind of faded into the background and blurred together. I do wish there had been more characterization with them, but all of them weren't extremely important to the story, so I can let it slide.

What I can't let slide is what they did to Shannon. Seriously, guys, how can you call yourselves her friends if you would do something like that?! I'm glad that you felt awful about it afterward, but that's because you should have! That's was a really terrible thing to do, and Shannon had every right to be as angry as she was. If I was her, I would have been angrier. It's a good thing that Jett was there that day.

Jett. Oh, Jett, Jett, Jett, Jett. I'm pretty sure that he is the best real or imaginary person that I've never met. Aside from his oh so convenient appearance at the bar that night, he is completely beyond reproach. From his description in the blurb, he seems like the classically annoying bad boy character that I hate so much, but this couldn't be further from the truth. He is hilarious, and sweet, and talented, and wonderful, and perfect, and I want one of him for myself. His character also has the most depth out of all of the others, even if his big "surprise" at the end was pretty obvious for almost all of the novel.

Next up is Jett's best friend and roommate, Javier. Here's how Jett describes him:

"'He's sort of an honorary member of, like, every frat. His minor is in keg tapping.'"

So true. At first, Javier seemed exactly like the self-absorbed type of character that I usually end up hating, but that wasn't true at all. Regardless of any of his not so redeeming qualities, he is a darn good friend. Probably the best kind out there. I have to say that Javier really grew on me, and it would be great to see him again in another story (hint, hint).

Really, though. Part of me feels like this story isn't finished yet. I want to know what happens with Hazel, Javier, and River, as well as see more of Shannon and Jett. This book was so great, so of course I didn't want it to end, and I definitely think that it leads well into another book. Hopefully that day will come!

One more thing. I definitely recommend this book for ages +17. There's not a ridiculous amount of extremely mature content, but there is one little scene that I might be worried about. I personally think that it's important to the novel, but some people may find it to be a little too graphic, even if it is really short. That's just a personal choice you have to make.

My Rating:

And my favorite quote (of which there are many) comes from the glorious Javier:

"Madam, Sir. I hope you have a splendid and sex-filled evening. I'm off to have one myself. May all of your condoms be resilient and hole-free. Farewell!" He salutes us and then leaves.

"Is that Javier sober?"

"Surprisingly, yes."


Jett sighs.

"I know."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.

Dec 5, 2013


Night Chill Blog Tour: Excerpt & GIVEAWAY!!!
Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus

Jack Tremont moves his family to the quiet mountains of Western Maryland hoping to leave behind a troubled past and restart his life. Instead, he finds himself caught up in a nightmare when his daughter Sarah is targeted by Nate Huckley, a mysterious and horrifying stranger driven by a dark power that will stop at nothing to possess Sarah. When Sarah goes missing, suspicion falls on Jack and he must uncover the secrets of the small mountain town of Prescott City and face the evil secret hidden there. As he digs further, he learns the conspiracy reaches more deeply than he could have imagined. Finally, he will have to face the question, What is a father willing to do to save his child? The answer? Anything. Anything at all.


In addition to writing supernatural thrillers for adults, Jeff Gunhus is also the author of the Middle Grade/YA series The Templar Chronicles. ( The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born and recognized as a 2012 Forward Reviews Book of the Year Finalist. Jeff has been a Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan since he was a kid reading their novels under the covers at night. Seeing Night Chill next to King and Koontz on the Amazon Bestseller lists has been a surreal experience. He leads an active lifestyle in Maryland with his wife Nicole and five incredible kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

Twitter          Facebook          Goodreads           Website

He popped open the door and raised his jacket over his head to block out as much of the rain as possible. Hoping not to wake the girls, he didn’t shut his door all the way, but let it rest against the latch so it was closed just enough to keep out the rain. He took off on a sprint to the pay phone, splashing through puddles that came up over his ankles.

The pay phones were under a short overhang but the wind was so strong that it provided little protection. Jack fished around in his pocket for change but came up with only pennies. He dialed ‘0’ for the operator and waited as the phone went through a series of clicks. A computerized voice said, “A,T and T,” and then a tone and more silence.

“Jesus Christ. Come on!” Jack started to glance over his shoulder at the Jeep, but the operator finally came on and Jack turned back toward the phone. He was halfway through giving his credit card number when he heard the blast of car horn behind him. It was followed by the same sound again. And again. Even in the rain it was loud and urgent.

The Jeep’s panic alarm.

Jack was always hitting the panic button on the remote by accident. He dug for the keys in his pocket. God, the girls were probably scared to death. He found the keys and pressed the button as he turned around to point the device at the car. There was a man. Standing next to his car. The driver’s door was open. Jack dropped the phone and ran back to the car. “HEY! HEY YOU!” The man didn’t acknowledge Jack but just stood and kept staring into the open door.

Even over the noise of the rain Jack could hear the girls screaming as he got closer to the car.
How long was I turned away from the car? One minute? Two? He couldn’t have hurt them in that time. Could he? “Get back from the car. RIGHT NOW!” "The man finally turned. He raised his hands in the air and stepped back. Jack slowed down a few paces from him. He wanted to check on the girls but he wasn’t about to turn his back on this stranger. Jack sized the man up. Late thirties, decent build, average sized frame, nothing too intimidating. Then again, the man could have a gun in his pocket and then none of his physical characteristics would make a difference. “What are you doing?” The adrenaline tearing through Jack’s system made it come out more a threat than a question.

“Hi. Sorry about that. I was just making sure everyone was O.K. Bad weather and all.”

Jack moved to the open car door, putting his body between the man and the open door. Standing closer, he could make out the details of the stranger. Even in the poor light the man’s pale face stood out from the night, like a glowing mask. He might have been an albino except for the black pits for eyes. Jack didn’t like the look of the man’s thin, colorless lips that twisted into a forced smile as they stared each other down.

Something about the man didn’t seem right. Maybe it was the storm. Or the scare he got from turning and seeing the man unexpectedly appear at the car. Maybe it was that an hour earlier a man had died in his arms talking about the devil. Whatever it was, Jack’s instinct warned him of danger.

He was reluctant to let the stranger out of his sight but the girls screams were too much to bear. Quickly, he turned his head to make sure they were just scared and not hurt somehow. “You girls all right?” he called out. Becky and Sarah looked terrified, but unharmed. Jack relaxed a little. Maybe he was over-reacting. Chances are the stranger was just trying to help. This wasn’t California. It wasn’t so odd that someone would go out of their way to help out on a stormy night. And he knew Albert James had put him in a weird place emotionally. Satisfied the girls were fine, he turned back to face the man, ready to apologize. “Listen, thanks but--” The man was gone.

Jack spun around. He didn’t see him anywhere. Then a voice came from the other side of the car, across the hood on the passenger’s side. “Pretty girls you have there. Very pretty.” Soaking wet, Jack still felt the hair rise up on the back of his neck. All the tension returned. “Listen buddy. I think it’s best if you get out of here. Maybe you’re trying to help out, but you’re scaring my kids.”

The stranger leaned back to look through the Jeep’s rear window, then back at Jack. “Scaring them? Or scaring you?” “Look, just get out of here. All right?”

“These girls don’t have anything to worry about from me.” The man rubbed the hood of the car with the palms of his hands. “I want to be their friend. Especially the little one. She’s very special. Sarah. That’s it, isn’t it? Little sweet Sarah?”

“Get the hell out of here right now,” Jack yelled over a thunder clap. Jack had only been in one fight as an adult but if the car hadn’t separated them he would have taken a swing at the bastard in front of him.

The man slapped the hood of the car in a slow beat. “Bam, bam, badda, bam, bam,” he murmured as he thumped out a rhythm, his eyes locked with Jack’s, a grin spread across his lips. “Feel helpless Jack? You don’t mind if I call you Jack, do you?”

“How the hell do you know our names? Who are you?”

“Oh, I know more than that about you. I know what you dream about at night. I know the secret you keep from California. That dark detail about yourself you don’t want anyone else to know.”

“I don’t know what--”

“Jack, you don’t really think you can stop the devil, do you?” Jack froze. “What did you say?” But the man wasn’t listening. He continued to beat out a rhythm on the hood, striking the car harder with each beat. Badda, bam, bam. He paused and held both fists out toward Jack. “Let’s find out, shall we?” His fists crashed into the hood. BADDA, BAM, BAM. On the last beat, he ducked down behind the car and was gone.

“Shit.” Jack scrambled into the car and shut the door. He dug at the controls on the armrest to make sure the doors were locked. They were. He looked across to the passenger side. The door shook from the man tugging on it. The girls screamed. Jack dug his hand into his pocket, desperate for his keys. Nothing. He looked on the floor, on the seat. He pressed his face against the window and looked on the ground outside. They weren’t there. When did he have them last?

Dreading what he would see, he raised his head to look through the windshield at the building in front of him. There, on the ground next to the payphone, were the keys to the car.

You can check out the rest of the tour here!