August 31, 2017

Sure Thing by Jana Aston #CoverReveal #Giveaway


Sure Thing
Jana Aston
Publication date: October 10th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
A new STANDALONE romance from New York Times bestselling author Jana Aston
Have you ever set out to have a one night stand with a sexy stranger?
No? I’m the only one?
Just kidding, I would never.
Ever.
Not usually.
But then I figured, why not? My entire life I’ve been good and it’s gotten me nowhere.
No job.
No apartment.
No boyfriend.
I’m owed a little fun, aren’t I? A reward for being good.
Sure, a new pair of shoes would be more appropriate, but Mr. Sexy Stranger is more appealing. And when he speaks—in that British accent—it’s a done deal. Every American woman has a hot British guy fantasy. Well, most do. I haven’t taken a poll or anything, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fact.
Except…
You know that saying about best-laid plans?
Good, because I don’t either, but I assume they go awry.
Like my one night stand…


Author Bio:
Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she's ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.

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A Little Like Destiny by Lisa Suzanne #ReleaseBlitz #Giveaway




Title: A Little Like Destiny
Series: A Little Like Destiny #1
Author: Lisa Suzanne
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 Release Date: August 31, 2017



Blurb

Reserved and responsible Reese Brady refuses to miss her chance with bad boy rock star Mark Ashton. After one steamy night, she's convinced the emotional connection they shared was just a figment of her imagination. After all, he’s a womanizer whose affairs are highly publicized.

Reese strives to leave that night behind her after a handsome business mogul asks her to dinner. Her relationship with Brian Fox quickly escalates into something meaningful, but Reese never expects the secret that emerges when he finally invites her to his penthouse.

She fell in love with a rock star the last time she was there. How could she know she’d fall in love with his brother next?








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Releasing September 28, 2017

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU






Author Bio


Lisa Suzanne is a romance author who resides in Arizona with her husband and baby boy. She’s a former high school English teacher and college composition instructor. When she's not cuddling baby Mason, she can be found working on her latest book or watching reruns of Friends.  


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Maliciously Obedient by Julia Kent #Excerpt




Title: Maliciously Obedient
Series: Obedient #1
Author: Julia Kent
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: January 14, 2014



Blurb

Lydia's new boss stole the job she wanted and he thinks he owns the place already on Day One.
Turns out -- he actually does.

She can't control her attraction to Matt, the man with stormy eyes and a penchant for kissing her in the supply closet, the elevator, and in her increasingly intense dreams. And then there's his best friend Jeremy...

But Matt has a secret -- he's really Michael Bournham, playboy extraordinaire and the CEO of the company, and he's doing a reality television stunt. For six weeks he's pretending to be a middle manager while producers video tape everything.

Everything.

Including the moment he and Lydia give in and break every rule.

And, perhaps, their hearts.

The Obedient Series includes:
Maliciously Obedient
Suspiciously Obedient
Deliciously Obedient








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Excerpt

Getting caught reading Fifty Shades of Grey in the parking lot at work wasn’t the best way to meet her boss. A boss she didn’t know she had. A boss who now had the job she had been waiting to apply for (and win) for the past year. 

So Lydia Charles was having a very bad day. And it was only 7:32 a.m.

Tap tap tap. She looked up, startled, to find a pair of bright green eyes, shaded by a hand, peering in the window of her little red car. He caught the book cover and smirked.  

Oh, screw off, she thought, shoving her car key in the ignition and turning it on so she could roll down the window. As if it weren’t bad enough being caught reading Mommy Porn (and she wasn’t even a mom), her last few minutes of freedom before enslavement as a corporate drone were being bothered by some anonymous guy. 

Light brown hair with a nice wave to it and those crazy-green eyes. A perfect nose. Broad shoulders set off by one hand on his forehead, one on his hip, making his forearms pop a bit, the muscles from neck to shoulder joint stretching like an athlete’s. It was like looking at one of those guys on television, an actor in a show you watch not for the plot, but for the eye candy with a spark of smarts and wit.

If he told her he was a firefighter or a detective, she’d believe him. He had the look of a man who takes care of himself because he has to in order to function well at his hands-on job.

He works out, she surmised as the window scrolled down. Boring business-casual uniform of Dockers and a button-down shirt. Couldn’t see his shoes but she guessed something from Land’s End. 

Middle management.

Which was one step above her. Gritting her teeth, she wondered what this was about.



Author Bio


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 1.5 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 16 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French and German, with more titles releasing in 2017. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.


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The Attraction File by Elizabeth Lynx #CoverReveal #Excerpt #Giveaway




Title: The Attraction File
A Cake Love Series Novel
Author: Elizabeth Lynx
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cover Design: Elizabeth Lynx
Re-release Date: September 21, 2017



Blurb

She's Cold. He's Hot. When they get together they burn. 

Evaleen Bechmann is too busy running Human Resources for the billion-dollar company, Mimir, to even consider dating. As for emotions, she refuses to discuss that too. It doesn't matter anyway. She's invisible to men, especially one man in particular. Evaleen is fine with that. Not everyone gets their happily ever after, that’s only for novels.

Edgar Mirmir is a Nordic god to some, a tech-savvy genius to others, and to women – he is everything they desire. His life should be perfect, and everything he has ever dreamed of… only it’s not. One woman haunts him. When he first saw her, her electric blue eyes shone with defiance, fear, and sorrow. He wanted to reach out to her, but she disappeared. Until one day he turned around and there she was.








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Excerpt

“It’s ten forty-five, almost time for the Brooks Bomb. I told Payne on Friday that this would be your first day back but he had meetings out of the office all morning.” I said.
I turned to head back to my office but stopped as Morgana yelled out for me. “Maybe I’ll take an early lunch. You up for it?”
I was about to tell her no, that I had some work that needed to get done when the elevator doors opened and out walked the last person I wanted to see, ever, Edgar.
Then I would be forced to talk to him about the new hire for his department. Something easily done via email. Instead of face-to-face where I would have to try desperately to control my hormones. It was hard to not turn into a giggling mess with his deep voice acting like a Siren song. I always tried to be aloof, but I had a feeling he didn’t care anyway.
Before he saw me, I turned back toward Morgana and nodded my head. “Sounds great.”
“Okay, let’s go. Oh wait, is that Edgar? Hey, Edgar.”
I was surprised by how fast Morgana could move considering her height. She was like a red blur blazing past me and before I knew it, she had Edgar deep in conversation. His perfectly sculpted blond hair just brushed the tops of his ears as he ran his fingers through them.
He had long hair when I first started to work here, but last year he cut it. I appreciated both styles, but I missed his long hair. Something about it made me want to run my fingers through it, fist it in my fingers, and scream “mine” to anyone who passed.
I sounded barbaric. And sad. Mostly sad.
Holding my ground, I refused to move closer, not on principle because what was I arguing about? Lunch? No, I was hungry, but I lacked the strength to resist Edgar’s charm. Especially when he smiled and those dimples appeared.
Dimples of sin I called them. I wanted to lick them so much.
“Hey, Evaleen, Edgar is going to join us for lunch.” Morgana waved me over with happiness radiating out of her pores. I wish I could glow with happiness. The only time I glowed was after I had danced a few songs at a club. Also, my makeup usually melted by then, and my pit stains were large enough by that point that tadpoles had been known to form, even when I wore a tank top.
What I’m saying was I got swamp pits but, hey, I glowed.
Edgar’s dimples were on full debauchery mode. That was, until he saw me. I guess Morgana left that part out when she invited him to lunch. He probably would have declined the offer if he knew I would be there.
“Dreary Evaleen Bechmann? No, thank you,” he’d say. I was always surprised when he knew my name considering how unhappy he appeared around me.
It wasn’t just his dwindling smile but how his eyes gazed at anything but me. Like he was trying to find an escape from the worst thing ever, me.
“Great.”
It wasn’t great. It especially wasn’t wonderful when Morgana conveniently stood by the elevator buttons when we were moving down to the bottom floor, forcing Edgar and me to stand next to each other. I could smell his cologne.
His mouth watering, manly man scent.
I took deep breaths, not because I was about to hyperventilate (but that was an idea to get out of this lunch), but because I wanted to inhale all of him.
My mouth watered and I knew my neck was red without even glancing into the reflection of the metal elevator doors.
I turned my head to face the wall and tried to fill my lungs with non-sex god air, but it wasn’t working. Perhaps if I scooted toward the wall, inching farther away from him, I wouldn’t want to lick him so much?
Thankfully, I didn’t have to make that decision as the elevator dinged and opened on the ground floor. Cool, platonic air breezed around me and I began to feel human again.
That was until he placed his hand on the small of my back to guide me out of the elevator, causing my lady parts to spasm uncontrollably. I think they were having a seizure from too much hotness.
I coughed. Actually, I tried to suppress an eruption of humiliating giggles that would have embarrassed twelve-year-old girls, with a cough.
It worked. He dropped his hand and the lower half of my body went into a deep depression. The top half of my body felt relief tinged with bitterness.
The chill of the Chicago air solidified me. What if I’m not sexy or beautiful enough for him to notice like he did every other woman he came in contact with? He slept around anyway. Even if he did seduce me, I would just end up heartbroken anyway.
“Here we are. Chuck’s Sausage Shack. I am so thankful I can get a good sausage right next door anytime I want.” Morgana smiled as she held the door for us.
“I sure do love to suck on tubular meat during my breaks at work,” I said without hesitation.
That time I coughed for real. I hadn’t meant for that to come out of my mouth. It was there in my head and then my mouth decided it was the perfect time to give it a voice. I blame Morgana. Who says they are thankful to get good sausage? She was practically begging me to embarrass myself like that.
“Let’s hope,” Edgar said. My eyes narrowed at him but he had turned from me.
Cool as always. Nothing fazed him, not even a frumpy co-worker making blatant and not very good penis jokes.
He was just casually glancing around the place scoping out a table.
“Crap. Looks like I got to head back to work. I just got a text from Mr. Payne telling me he needs to meet with me since it’s my first day back. Sorry.” Morgana frowned, shoving her phone back into her purse and pushing out the door.
After watching the door close, I turned to Edgar. He was staring at me, grimacing.
“Look, if you have something to do we can just order food to go,” I said, trying to offer him a way out. It was obvious back at the office he was only agreeing to lunch because he thought it would be him and Morgana. I’m not blind. Morgana was gorgeous and sexy and exactly what a player like Edgar would be into. I think it’s a little shitty that he would go after someone his best friend, Payne, was obviously into, but that was none of my business.
Now we can order food for lunch since we are already here and then go our separate ways.
Edgar smirked. His dimples deepening as his gaze drifted languidly to my lips. “Now why would I miss out on the chance of watching you suck on some tubular meat?”
My lady parts were seizing again.






Author Bio

Elizabeth Lynx writes romantic comedy with steam. She's a recovering comedian. Wife and mother of the male species. Believer in love & laughter. Her life consists of preventing small catastrophes and wondering if a day will exist when she doesn't have to fold laundry.


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Unhinged by Natasha Knight #CoverReveal




Title: Unhinged
Author: Natasha Knight
Genre: Dark Mafia Romance
Cover Design: Shanoff Formats
Release Date: September 25, 2017



Blurb

Eve

Two years ago, I made a deal with the devil. That night, I lost everything. That night, I thought he’d died.

But he’s back. Risen, like Lazarus, from the dead. And he’s dark. Darker than he was before. More dangerous. Unhinged. A scarred, tattooed savage.

The way he looks at me, it should terrify me, but I’m drawn to him, to his intensity. Consumed by it. By him. Even though I know if I’m not careful, his obsession will destroy me.

Zach

I should have died that night two years ago. My mistake cost my men their lives. It should have cost me mine. But I survived. And the day I learned she did too, I made it my mission to find her.

I sought her out. Tracked her. Shadowed her every move. I’ve been inside her home. Eaten her food. Drank her liquor. I’ve stood beside her bed and watched her sleep.

She has so many secrets, and I know one of them. It’s the one where our pasts collided. The one that destroyed me.

And it’s the reason I’ve come for her.

I never intended to touch her, but I did. And now that I’ve had a taste, I want more. I want her. But that won’t change why I’m here. It won’t change why I came for her.




Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling author Natasha Knight writes dark romance as well as spanking romance in a variety of genres including contemporary, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, science-fiction and fantasy. She is a #1 Amazon Bestseller in multiple categories forever searching in every story for that single most important element of love. All of her stories contain at least one kinky Alpha male, lots of dirty talk and a well deserved happily ever after.



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Flower Predictionsby Lilliana Rose #Excerpt


Fantasy/Romance
Date Published: August 2017

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Thinking Triena would be safer without him, Braklen leaves her. Now a wanted criminal, Braklen puts as much distance between him, Triena and the Queens by taking up a job on a smuggling ship. He throws himself into his work to forget about the guilt building inside of him for leaving Triena as well as the love he has for her.

Triena is alone, her rabbit stolen from her, and the Energy is behaving in unexpected ways making it difficult for her to predict the future. Her love for Braklen is strong and she sets out to find him, while trying to keep away from the Queens. With no other option she takes passage with Captain Ri who forces her to use the Energy for his own benefits.

Will she be able to find her beloved rabbit, and Braklen, before the Queens find and destroy her?


Other Books in the Flower Readings Series:


Flower Readings, Book One
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Published May 2017

Triena lives on an outback moon earning a living by offering flower readings for customers. Cast out from the Queens, the Energy Readers, Triena wants to return, but the only way to do that is to kill Braklen and use his energy to look into the future.

Braklen, a Peacekeeper with the Queens, arrives at the Triena’s Tea House. He doesn’t realize the danger he is in when he sits down for a flower reading.

Triena sees her chance to kill Braklen by using the potency in flower buds. The Energy guides her hand, and instead, the suppressed feelings toward Braklen surface.

Can she kill the man she loves?


Excerpt

Braklen looked down into the bowl full of gray something that was meant to be food.
“I wouldn’t eat that, man,” said a fellow evening-shift worker sitting opposite Braklen.
Despite the warning, Braklen dunked a spoon into the thick broth. “Can’t be too bad.” He spooned the greasy liquid with gray floating bits into his mouth. He choked.
The other man laughed, slapping his hand down on the metal table. “You’ll get used to it.”
Braklen coughed as the last of the liquid went down. “Tastes like jet fuel.”
“Wouldn’t put it past the cook to put some in. He probably thinks that it’d give us a boost to work harder.”
“How can you eat it?” Braklen’s spoon was poised above the liquid, but he couldn’t bring himself to take another mouthful. This was a long-haul flight and the bowl of slop was the only thing to eat. He’d just finished a twelve-hour shift in the engine room trying to repair the electronics in the backup system that were so worn out and old, it should’ve been thrown out instead. It was the first ship that accepted his qualifications as a mechanical engineer. He’d boarded, wanting to get as far away as possible from Triena.
His heart lurched, skipping beats, then contracting, causing pain to spread out across his chest. He knew he shouldn’t have boarded, or left her unconscious on the ground. But, since the chip had been deactivated, there was no point hanging around. She didn’t really want me there, not really.
The guy shrugged his shoulders, scrapping the last of the broth onto the spoon and delivered it into his mouth. “I’m already pretty thin. I’ll fade away if I don’t eat.”
Braklen laughed. “Hasn’t anyone complained?”
His men put up with a lot when he was in charge but he would’ve had an uprising if they’d ever had this food from the galley. Emptiness clawed at his gut at the reminder he didn’t command a unit of Peacekeepers anymore. Worse, he was now a wanted man.
He’d contemplated taking Triena with him, turning her in to the authorities and begging to be reinstated. But, much as he wanted his life back, that wasn’t an option. It was clear he’d been set up, a pawn for them to use to get to her. She’ll be better off without me. Safer without me.


About the Author


Lilliana Rose enjoys creating worlds for her characters to play in and fall in love. Check out more of her work, www.lillianarose.com

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Seraphina’s Vengeance by Sheena Hutchinson

Title: Seraphina’s Vengeance
Author: Sheena Hutchinson
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Cover Designer: Cover Me, Darling
Publication Date: Sept. 18, 2017

Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb: One year ago, Seraphina’s entire world seemed to have dived into a mythical land over night. She’s somehow even gotten used to the madness of it all. But what happens when the craziness stops? Things become quiet… too quiet.

Sera should have known that things weren’t as quiet as they seemed. After one of the best nights of her life, Sera is forced into this treacherous journey to save one of her loved ones.
But following the path of evil begins to take its toll on Sera. As she struggles with her own internal dilemmas, Nate starts to take matters into his own hands. When this unseen world finally begins to affect Sera’s emotions and her relationship, can she hold it together to save her loved ones? Will love conquer all? Or will it turn her evil… forever?
Sheena is a born and raised New Yorker, even her writing can’t hide her hard sarcasm. She claims destiny lead her to writing again. She constantly strives to be a positive role model and write stories that empower and inspire.  
Sheena always roots for the underdog, believes in love at first sight, and that everyone should have their happily ever after. While God is currently writing her love story she continues to put all her time into her writing as she is constantly getting new inspiration.
For more on Sheena and her books visit her website www.SheenaHutchinson.com.
Buy Links: Seraphina’s Awakening: http://amzn.to/2lzuzPo
Seraphina’s Initiation: http://amzn.to/2m17pTg
Seraphina’s Vengeance (Pre-Order): http://amzn.to/2vs7qVg

Just Off The Path by Weston Sullivan #Excerpt #Giveaway



Fantasy
Date Published: September 5, 2017

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Hansel never asked to be a hero. He never wanted to fall in love with Rapunzel, Queen of the East. He didn’t ask to be raised by Gothel the Wretch, and he certainly never wanted to be credited for her arrest. But more than any of that, Hansel never wanted to lie: but he did. He lied about everything. He thought that he was done with it all when he and his sister Gretel retreated into the woods to reclaim their land, but he should have known better.

Years later, Rapunzel’s guards knock at his door, and they say the words he hoped that he would never hear: Gothel has escaped. As he and Gretel take refuge inside Rapunzel’s castle in the eastern capitol of Hildebrand, Hansel is thrust back into everything he never wanted in the first place: his lies, his legend, and his lust. In the wake of it all, he knows that Gothel has escaped to finish what she started. She is out to make sure that the Sleeping Beauty never wakes, and that Grimm suffocates under her blanket of thorn and vine. In order to find Gothel and save the kingdom, Hansel and Gretel must look for fact in a land of fairy-tale by following a trail of grisly murders, a girl in a red cape, and a powerful little man who can’t stand the sound of his own name.

As they search for answers, Hansel finds that he isn’t the only liar in Grimm, and that there may be a traitor among them of royal proportion.


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Excerpt

The winter storm began with a scream that split the trees. It echoed throughout the woods and birds fled into the sky, disappearing like smoke behind gray clouds. Hansel looked off in the direction of the disturbance—but it was silent again. There was something menacing about the renewed absence of life that hung over him. He strung his bow, keeping it close to his side, and surveyed the area around him. He was met only with the familiar stillness of the trees and dead foliage beneath.
“We should go,” he said, trying to disguise the urgency in his voice.
His sister, Gretel, hesitated. “Someone screamed.”
“I know,” he said. “That’s why we need to go.”
Gretel scanned the tree line and ran her fingers through her hair. Grabbing her hand, Hansel pulled her in the direction they’d come from. The woods were dangerous, especially on the cusp of winter. They were close to the Southern Thickets—the part of the forest overrun with briar and weed, where all of Grimm’s most dangerous creatures lived—and Hansel knew that if someone was screaming, they had a good reason.
They made their way back to The Path in silence. Hansel was wary of crunching leaves under his boot, afraid to wake the forest. Seconds after they turned around, he felt something whiz past him on both sides of his head. He hoped they were fireflies, bustling about the tops of trees, cutting through the coldness that crept over them. He followed the sparkling speckles with his eyes. They moved with purpose, cracking branches and creasing clouds, spinning wildly. Hansel was probably the only person in Grimm who was ever disappointed to see a flock of fairies, but fireflies meant it was summer, and he longed to see summer again.
Before they blinked out of sight, they spoke to him. Tens of wistful, unison whispers in his ears said: Help…the girl needs help. Hansel looked at Gretel, wondering if she heard them, too. He didn’t have to ask. She bounded back in the opposite direction and drew the skinning knife she kept sheathed at her waist. Hansel cursed, taking off after her. No sooner than he’d kicked off the ground, another mortifying scream shook the woods. He followed close behind Gretel, dodging trees and leaping over the underbrush. There was a third scream, and then a fourth; louder and closer than any before.
He didn’t know what to do. As they ran, the woods shrank around them until the sun no longer broke through the gaps between the trees. Hansel knew they were going to die. No one made it deep into the thickets and lived. It was home to godless monsters; giants, goblins—the creatures of the dark who scarcely bothered with humans, until they were crossed. Hansel struggled to keep up with his sister. Where he was cautious, she was fearless, and where she was cautious, he was safest. He looked up and was surprised to see hundreds of fairies lighting their path. Each second, more poured in from the sky until there was an army over them.
Gretel stopped abruptly, causing Hansel to trip and roll a few steps downhill. He didn’t think long enough to register pain. As he found his footing, Gretel climbed down the incline and stood beside him. His first instinct was to go back the way they’d come, but he was awestruck. They stood on the threshold of life and death, where the woods became the Southern Thickets. It was like a scar across the ground, stretching from one end of the world to the next, a final warning to those brave enough to pass into the curse. Even the fairies were still, their glow dimmed by the wicked magic ahead.
Hansel was relieved to see that there were no longer trees; they’d been replaced by a wall of bramble, too large and thick to allow passage. They were surrounded by the purplish-blue tint of twilight, thorns as sharp as daggers to their throats in front of them and crooked, mossy trees behind them. Once, when Hansel lived in the city, he’d visited his parents’ corpses in the graveyard. They were buried in a public sepulcher maintained by the city to ensure that if a family was unwilling or unable to buy a plot for their deceased, their corpses wouldn’t be left to rot and attract the attention of wildlife. Standing just before the thickets reminded Hansel of that day—the day when he stood at the maw of death and was so close he could feel himself slipping away.
Gretel looked behind them. Hansel hoped she’d given up, and maybe she had. He almost smiled. But one final, thankless cry echoed past the briar, stirring the fairies. Gretel squinted, determined. That scream, Hansel knew, was the epitaph on their gravestones. The fairies swarmed them, and he was swallowed in a rainbow of color, cascading like a waterfall upon him. He couldn’t see anything but the swirling light of the fairy flock, spinning faster and faster around him, tugging at his shirt and creating a whirlwind. He felt weightless. His stomach churned and he felt dizzy. When the fairies cleared, he could see why—he was high in the air, flying over the Southern Thickets.
For a moment, he forgot about the screams and that he was headed into danger. He was soaring. Gretel was flying just below him, her arms spread wide, her hair flailing. Seeing Grimm from the air was both breathtaking and appalling. He expected to see the land as it once was, alive and vibrant. Instead, it was a sickly beige with winter and the end of the curse. The world around them was devoid of life. Most of the animals had fled years earlier, knowing the world was about to change, and those that remained were tucked safely away somewhere beneath them.
The thickets looked exactly as he’d always imagined. From above, he saw nothing but briar and bramble etched across the uneven terrain. They gained speed, and the cold air blasted his cheeks. He was grateful to have the cold in that moment to waken his senses and remind him that he was still alive, that he and Gretel were in danger. He sucked in a breath as they flew farther away from home, and against the still-setting sun that formed the silhouette of a castle, jagged and broken. The Sleeping Castle—he knew it from legend—the home where the rightful royalty of Grimm still rested, dead to the world but not in definition, suffering eternally at the hands of a vengeful witch. All he could make out was one tower, freed from the clutches of the thorn like the arm of an old beggar, trying to hoist himself out of the darkness. The top of the tower stuck at a point against the sunlight like a bony finger fighting for liberation.
It felt like they were flying only moments before he felt himself descending. Hansel looked below. There was a tiny clearing in the briar—a hole in the patchwork—and inside that hole he saw a spot of red. His eyes widened when he realized what was happening; it was a little girl, and she was running for her life. Sooner than he anticipated, the fairies dropped him and he fell into the clearing. They placed Gretel gracefully on the ground next to him and charged back up into the sky in one harmonious motion, disappearing into the briar. The girl stared at them in wonder, Hansel standing close to Gretel. It was suddenly dark, and Hansel knew it was because they were in a place so sinister that even the sunlight refused to pass through. The girl Hansel had seen from the sky was covered in bloody scratches, as if she’d been running through the thorns. Her face was dirty and streaked in muddy tears. She tried to speak to them, but she was silenced by the rustling of the vines behind her.
She yelped, running to them for help. Gretel took her in her arms and cupped her hand over her mouth, quieting her. Hansel trembled, pulling the bowstring back so far he worried it would snap. The figure of a large man appeared on the other side of the curtain of briar, causing the girl to cry harder. He made his best attempt to look imposing, but he was frightened. The man stepped into the clearing, dressed all in black, his hood casting a shadow over his face so that all Hansel could see was a pair of dull, white eyes. At first, Hansel thought the red-orange coating on the figure’s machete was rust, but as the man moved closer, he recognized it as the color of dried blood.
“Who are you?” Hansel asked.
It was like standing in front of death itself—silent, ominous, and terrifying.
Hansel stood rigid, his arrow pointed at the man’s chest. He hated the idea of killing someone, but he knew that his bow would take action before his head did if it was given the opportunity. The man’s chest rose, fell, but didn’t rise again. That was when Hansel knew it was time to let go of the string. It was too late. The hooded figure leaped out of the way just before the arrow left the bow, and as Hansel went to re-string it, he disappeared back into the thickets. Hansel stretched his bow into a V and focused his aim, in case the man returned.
Gretel helped the girl to her feet. “Are you all right?”
She wore a bright cloak that canvassed her body like a suit of armor, bright yet all-concealing. Hansel didn’t know what to make of her. She embodied adolescence, but exuded effortless maturity as if at war with herself. Wine and wildflowers protruded from her basket, peeking surreptitiously back at him. She was a walking contradiction, and that made him anxious.
“I think so,” the girl replied, using her cloak, which was made of some sort of fabric that Hansel couldn’t name but knew was expensive, to wipe her face. “Thank you for saving me.”
“Who was that man?” Hansel asked.
The girl hesitated. She stepped beside Hansel and followed his gaze out into the thickets.
“He was no man,” she said. “He was a wolf.”
“A wolf?” Hansel asked.
She nodded. “He walks like a man, but he’s a wolf, I swear to it. He tackled me back there and started sniffing me and snarling like a beast. His breath smells like dung and whiskey. It frightened me, so I ran off.”
Hansel and Gretel exchanged looks. Gretel furrowed her brows, dumbstruck.
“But why did he come after you?” Gretel asked.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Hansel asked. “How do you not know? Do you find you’re often being chased by hooded man-wolves, or is today a special day?”
The girl seemed put off by the question. “Do you normally fly with the fairies?”
“Of course not,” Hansel said.
“So today must be special for all of us,” she said, slyly.
Gretel broke the tension. “What’s your name?”
“My name’s Ceara,” the girl replied with a smile that soured Hansel’s mood. She spoke to no one in particular. “But some people call me Little Red Cap because of my cape. It’s made of the finest silk in the East.” She offered the tail of her cape to them.
Gretel reached her hand out and felt the fabric, rubbing it between her fingers. “It’s lovely,” she mumbled.
“My gran made it for me when I was younger. I was always running about in the woods and she worried I would get lost. That’s why the cape is red…I’m easier to spot that way.”
Hansel dropped the bow to his side. It just so happened that he and Gretel knew quite a bit about being lost in the woods.
“Do you know how to get back to The Path from here?” he asked Ceara.
The Path was the clearest, safest route through the woods. It was a trail worn in the grass by the boots of travelers and kings alike; a clear, oppressive force that divided Grimm into four regions. The Path was the safest, most direct route to any place in the entire kingdom.
Ceara’s smile faded. She wiped the tears from her face, using her cloak to remove the dirt from her cheeks. “Of course I do,” she said, gesturing toward the vines. “It’s just a few steps this way.”
“You mean through the thorns?” Hansel asked.
She rolled her eyes. “Unless you plan on asking the fairies for another lift, there’s really no other way.”
“I thought it was impossible to pass through the thickets.” As he spoke, he stared at the thorns. He imagined slicing his leg open, or accidentally impaling himself. He squirmed.
Ceara giggled at him. “Just because the whole kingdom says it’s impossible, doesn’t mean it is.”
Gretel laughed at him as well, shrugging as she passed him. Ceara parted the vines carefully and let Gretel pass through. After Gretel disappeared into the thickets, Ceara held the vines apart for him. “Go on.”
Right then, Hansel knew he wasn’t going to like Ceara.

About the Author


Weston Sullivan lives and writes in Tampa, Florida. He spends his days splitting time between writing, a full time job, and studying for his degree in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida. He enjoys everything related to storytelling, including film and theater. He likes to read all genres, from contemporary fiction to classic favorites such as Faulkner and Woolf. After he finishes his undergraduate coursework and continues to build his career as an author, he plans to attend graduate school in New York City.

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