Thursday, March 31, 2016

Above Protection by C.J. Pinned- Release Day Blitz

Title: Above Protection (Imperfect Heroes #1)
Author: C.J. Pinard
Release Date: March 30, 2016

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He's bearded, angry, highly trained, and has a job to do.
She's the damsel in distress who's smarter than she looks, and doesn't want anyone's help.
Could it be they both need something neither will admit to? Fate fueled by the laws of attraction may just decide for them.

DUKE
I didn’t ask for this. I was just doing my job, and they have the nerve to put me on a Witness Protection detail? This is crap. I’ll do my assignment, then go back to my job and what I love – kicking ass and taking names. I hadn’t spent 6 years in the Marine Corps to be put on babysitting duty once I’d joined the FBI. The witness they assigned me to, Rayanne, is an annoying, brainless blonde with a sassy mouth and a body that belongs on a website you have to pay to access. Not that I noticed or anything.

RAYANNE
I can look after myself. I don’t need anyone’s help, and the government is being ridiculous for putting me in the Witness Protection Program. I'll testify against my former bosses and then go back to my life as a single girl in the big city. I love my career as a paralegal, and once this Neanderthal they’d assigned to babysit me is out of my life, I'll go back to it. I just wish he wasn’t so easy on the eyes. The beard, hard body, and that voice. Why couldn’t they have sent me someone ugly – and nice? Because Duke is neither of those things.

ABOVE PROTECTION is book 1 in the Imperfect Heroes Series.  For readers 18+.
From the corner of my eye, I watched Duke leave the kitchen. After I’d put the meat and sauce into a skillet and stirred it, I added the spices. The water began to boil, so I opened the box and pulled out a handful of stiff spaghetti. I broke it over the sink into thirds, then dumped it into the boiling water, adding a few shakes of salt.
I glanced once again at the doorway to the kitchen and saw Duke was long gone. Biting my lip, I reached up into the cabinet and moved the remaining spices aside. I grinned as my fingers wrapped around the bottle of Jim Beam. Chancing a glance once again at the kitchen entryway, I looked back down at the bottle. I slowly twisted off the metal lid and carefully brought the bottle up to my nose and inhaled – which was quickly followed up by a cough.
Whew, that’s potent stuff! Shouldn’t take more than a shot or two to relax me. This guy, this cabin, this whole entire bizarre situation had me on edge. I just needed a little something to take that edge off.
I searched the cabinets but did not find any shot glasses. I poured a small measure into a beveled green glass that looked like it belonged in the 70s. I stared at the amber liquid for a long time before working up the nerve to take a sip.
A sip! my subconscious teased me. Just shoot it, you wuss.
Lifting my shoulder in a shrug, I tossed back the glass, wincing as the bourbon burned its way down my throat, warming my belly. I slammed the glass on the counter and had to ball up my fist to keep from letting out a whoop at the wonderful burn.
The sizzle of the skillet captured my attention, and I stirred the sauce mixture again, turning down the heat as it was beginning to splatter on the outdated yellow gas cooktop – and me.
The whole damn kitchen was outdated. It looked like my grandmother’s growing up. Yellow and brown linoleum floors, sparkly yellow and silver countertops, mustard-colored appliances. I giggled at the absurdity of this kitchen, hell, this whole cabin, and then hiccupped. Slapping a hand over my mouth, I shook my head at my silliness. Yet, I really wanted another shot of that bourbon.
Just one more.
“Just one more,” I said out loud.
Glancing again toward the kitchen entryway and seeing no Duke, I poured another small amount and quickly shot it back, enjoying the burn.
Smiling, I looked at the boiling noodles, realizing I hadn’t set a timer and now had no idea how long they’d been in the water for. The sauce was most certainly done.
Hiccup.
Cheese! I need cheese. I always make cheesy spaghetti. I get compliments on my cheesy spaghetti!
Opening the fridge door, I stared for a good, long minute, trying to remember why I’d opened the fridge. Then I spotted the bag of already-grated cheese.
“Well, thank the lawrd for pre-grated cheese,” I said, okay I think I slurred, in the most exaggerated Southern accent ever. I already had a slight one, or so I’d been told, but now I just flat-out sounded like my grand-mama from Mobile, Alabama. Bless her heart.
Hiccup.
I set the cheese on the counter and poured more bourbon into the ugly-ass green glass. Was this glass or plastic? I tapped my fingernail against it. Glass. I think. Cool. I grinned.
I slammed the liquid back and quickly placed the glass in the sink. No more. I need to stop.
The water continued to boil. Since I was already practically in her kitchen, I remembered Granny’s advice about spaghetti. So with a shrug, I used the spoon to carefully remove a noodle. I inspected it close up, then, with all my might, I chucked it against the wall behind the stove. It did stick, and I smiled in victory. My pasta was good and cooked.
I turned off the burners to both. As I was about to begin to look for a colander to drain the pasta, a voice made me jump.
“What are you doing?”
Blinking in surprise, I cocked my head to the side and smiled. “Cooking.”
“Why are you throwing pasta?” Duke asked, standing at the entryway to the kitchen looking way too delicious.
“Um?” What was I gonna say? Wait, what was the question?
Fuuuuck it. I’ll just ignore him. I picked up the wooden spoon and stirred the sauce. Wait, what was I doing? I need to drain the pasta. Did this kitchen even have a colander?
I didn’t know, so I just stirred the sauce some more. Suddenly, a warm hand gripped my arm, then spun me around. I was met with stormy blue eyes.
I giggled. “Hi, Cowboy.”
He narrowed those beautiful eyes at me. The dark lashes framing them were just too much. “I asked you a question.”
Furrowing my eyebrows, I said, “What was the question?”
I noticed the wooden spoon was still in my hand and was dripping sauce all over the floor. As if in slow motion, I looked at the drips, then the spoon, and without thinking, I brought it up to my mouth. My tongue snaked out and licked the sauce, from the base to the tip of the spoon while I stared unblinking at Duke, waiting for him to tell me what his question had been.
“Holy fuck,” I heard him whisper, his eyes now fixated on my mouth.
I was suddenly acutely aware of how his hard chest was almost pressed against mine. While one hand still held the spoon, the other reached up. My fingertips grazed his rock-hard pec under his T-shirt. My eyes flicked back up to his.
Before I could register what was happening, his mouth crashed down onto mine, his right arm snaking around my waist and then down to my ass, grabbing it with his strong hands, pushing my body into his.
Wait.
Duke was kissing me. What the hell? He’s not supposed to kiss me! He’s a jerk. I don’t like him. I bit his lip – hard. He pulled himself away from me, his thumb grazing his bottom lip.
“You bit me!” he said, incredulous.
“You kissed me!” I replied, as if I had to remind him.
He stared at me dumbfounded for a few seconds, then said, “You were licking… you were ignoring me when I asked… you were giggling… oh, my God. What the hell is that?”
He reached around me and picked up my bottle of bourbon, holding it up. “Where did you get this, Blondie?”
I shrugged and giggled.
Hiccup.
“My spaghetti’s burning,” was all I said.
Turning my back on him once again I began to rummage through the cabinets for something to drain the pasta in. I grinned as I located a colander and placed it in the sink. Before I could pick up the heavy pot of water and noodles, Duke spun me around and pinned me against the countertop. This time, he pressed his hard body into mine, while shoving the booze bottle into my face.
“Where. Did. You. Get. This?” he asked.
Jerking a thumb behind me at the cabinet in which I was now pressed against, I said with a grin, “In there. You want some?”
It didn’t go unnoticed by me that he was pressing a very hard member of his body against my belly. I kinda liked it though, and began to wonder what he was working with under those jeans.
He sighed and pushed off of me, scrubbing a hand over his beard and storming out of the kitchen with my bottle of contraband in his hand.
I'm a California girl living in land-locked Colorado. Lover of red wine, wearer of fabulous shoes, and a die-hard Niner fan, I'm also an editor at heart. I've written over a dozen books and short stories that contain both contemporary/new adult and paranormal romance that are a little bit badass, a little heart-wrenching, and sorta funny (to me, anyway). Almost all my books usually contain law enforcement or military undertones, since strong, brave, alpha men and women are my weaknesses. When I'm not writing, I can be found working at a very strange day job, which may or may not have some mild influences on my gripping stories - so strange, in fact, I think I'll write a book about it one day.

I'm also a proud member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA).

Holding Fast by Jeanine Binder- Release Blast

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Coming Home by Jourdyn Kelly- Blog Tour

coming home

blog tour
9780692621721

Book Title: Coming Home (An LA Lovers Book) 
Author: Jourdyn Kelly 
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Release Date: March 1, 2016 
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads

book blurb

Blaise Knight is content. She owns a trendy, in-demand flower boutique, has great friends, and an obsession with red velvet cake. After a string of disappointing dates, Blaise decides to give up dating, and focus on the things that are most important to her.

Greyson Steele is the “family stud”. After his stint in the Delta Force, he is coerced into the family business. And, his manipulative mother is planning a wedding for him to a woman he can’t stand. But Greyson has other plans. At thirty-nine, Greyson is ready to settle down, but only with a woman he chooses. After meeting the fiery owner of Knight in Bloom, Greyson finds his match.

Sparks fly when Blaise and Greyson meet. Can he convince her to take a chance on him? Or will Blaise’s past ruin their chances for a future? Their romance forces Greyson on a chase halfway around the world to solve a mystery, and find his love.

excerpt
Blaise wrapped her arms around Greyson’s neck, burying her hands in his hair. She tilted her head, and Greyson responded by deepening the kiss. His arms came around her waist, and he pulled her closer. Feeling his solid body against hers made her heart begin to pound almost painfully in her chest. The urge to climb up this man’s body, and allow him to do anything he pleased right then and there, was strong.

Blaise lowered her hands to Greyson’s chest, and pushed gently until their lips parted. “Wow.”

“Wow is right.” Greyson bent his head to kiss her again, but Blaise turned and walked a couple of steps away. “Why are you always running away from me, Blaise?”

“I’m not running, Greyson.” She took a deep, cleansing breath. “You… this…” Blaise sighed, and sat back down on the bench before her weak knees failed her. “You scare me.”

Greyson sat next to her, and she noted that he left a space between them. “Why do I scare you?”

She hesitated. “I never wanted a relationship, Greyson. It’s just not something I thought about.”

“Why?”

Blaise shrugged. “Relationships are messy. Turn ugly. I’m happy the way I am. Why would I change that by getting into a relationship?”

“I suppose you’re right,” Greyson nodded speculatively. “Relationships can get messy. Of course, I’ve never been in a real relationship, so I’m no expert.” He turned until his knee touched hers. “Blaise? Do we ignore how we feel, the chemistry, the attraction, because we’re afraid it might get messy? What if it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to both of us?”

Blaise smiled a little. “What if that scares me almost as much?”

“It scares me, too, doll.” He placed his hand over hers, stopping the restless picking at her jeans. “Nevertheless, I’m willing to risk it to see where this goes.”

“I’m sure your mother is going to love that.”

“She doesn’t know you, Blaise.”

“She doesn’t want to know me, Greyson,” she countered. Greyson took a deep breath, and rubbed his chin. Fantastic. That gesture meant Greyson had something to say that he was uncomfortable with. Or something she was going to be uncomfortable with. “What?”

“Nora has invited you to Sunday lunch with the family,” he answered cautiously.

Her laugh was sharp and sarcastic. Until she noticed he didn’t laugh with her. “You’re serious?”

“Yes. I know this is all happening pretty fast…”

“Really, really fast.”

“It’s just lunch, doll. A way for Nora to get to know you. Perhaps she’ll see what I see.”

“Hmm. Should I open with being friends with the Gallos and being invited to the Sumptor Gallery opening by Eve Sumptor-Riley, herself?”

He rumbled with laughter. “Tell you what. Take the week to think about it. If you still feel uncomfortable, we’ll forgo Sunday lunch and do something else. Deal?”

The alarm on Blaise’s phone sounded, startling her. “Crap! I have to go.”

“What?” Greyson frowned, and stood with her.

“I’m sorry. I’m working on this important request for a client, and it’s at a critical stage.”

“You’re leaving me for flowers?”

She glared at him. “You know, if you want a relationship with me to work, you’re going to have to at least pretend that what I do is important.”

He raised his hands. “You’re right, I’m sorry. That was completely rude, and I didn’t mean to criticize your work.” He wrapped his arms around her waist. “I just thought we could talk a bit more about us.”

“Talk, huh?” She rose on her tip-toes and kissed him quickly on the lips. “I would love to talk, but I really do have to get home.”

Greyson growled, making Blaise chuckle. “All right. May I at least call you?”

“It would be kind of hard to have a ‘relationship’ if we didn’t communicate,” she grinned.

“Cute.” He dipped his head to kiss her.

Blaise put her fingertips to his lips. “Mm-mmm. If you kiss me again, I won’t be able to leave.”

“I don’t see the problem with that.”

The alarm on Blaise’s phone sounded again, reminding them both of her prior commitments.

“I really have to go. Thank you for today.”

“It was my pleasure, doll.” He tucked her hair behind her ear. “About this relationship, stuff. We’ll figure it out. Together.”


meet the author

I've been in Houston, Texas, writing novels and designing websites since 2009. Moving here was one of the best decisions I've ever made, because I've been able to live wonderfully, and write my heart out. I've always enjoyed the arts in one form or another. Music sets the mood, reading stimulates my brain, and writing allows me to utilize my imagination in any way I want. I've been writing stories since I was a teen, and figured out writing was my passion when I finished my first novel, Something About Eve.

I love being captivated by books that lead me into different, exotic places, and through impossible scenarios. I love being able to become someone else for a time. Reading has always inspired me to bring my own characters out to play. My hope is that my writing will inspire others, or at the least, give them a way to escape from everyday life for a little while.

As web designer, etc. for singer/actress Deborah Gibson, I've had the opportunity to be involved in wonderful experiences, travel around the country and meet exciting people. Just recently, I was able to travel to Berlin, and meet some fantastic people. It's experiences like this, I believe, that help me create unique, and (hopefully) lovable characters.

I will be continuing the LA Lovers series with Ellie's book next. Each book will be a stand-alone, but look for Eve, Lainey, and Adam to show up here and there. I truly hope you enjoyed Blaise and Greyson. You'll be able to see more of them in the next book!

I spend my time writing, designing websites and caring for what is really a zoo with 3 dogs, 2 cats, a bearded dragon, 2 frogs and 2 turtles. In the recent years, I've changed my lifestyle to include working out and eating right. I now compete in triathlons, have run two half-marathons, and love yoga.

I love bringing my characters out for everyone to meet. My goal is to keep writing in many different genres, as I feel there shouldn't be anything limiting writers.
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Ascenders by C.L. Gaber- Book Blitz

Ascenders

book blitz
Ascenders Updated

Book Title: ASCENDERS: High School for the Recently Departed (Ascenders Saga) 
Author: CL Gaber 
Genre: YA/NA Romance/Paranormal 
Release Date: April 12, 2016 
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads

book blurb
Is this Hell or is this High School?

THE ASCENDERS Takes You To the In-between Where Teens Who Died Young Go On the Epic Adventure of an After-Lifetime

Walker Callaghan doesn't know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago...and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.

Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.

She doesn't go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.

These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. "There are even cheerleaders in death," Walker observes. It's not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who "used to have this band." The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.

Principal King explains the rules -- there are none. Why? You can't die twice.

There is no homework.
No tests.
No SATS.

You're just there to learn because the human brain isn't fully formed until you're 24.

By the way, you can't get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do ...because no one knows how long you'll stay in this realm or what's next.

"Losing someone you love would be like dying twice," Walker says.

* * * * * *

Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this hell or is this high school?” she asks.

She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He's looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.

He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.

Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.

Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?

At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.
praise
Resch Reads:

One word to describe this book is EPIC. Sheer writing brilliance.”

Amazon: “A new ‘Twilight Zone’ of a world. Speaking of Uncle Stevie, otherwise known as Stephen King, ‘Ascenders’ reads like something he might have written back in the Twilight Zone of his own youth. I love Koontz and King and haven’t been this excited about an author in a long time.”

Author Groupies: “If you’re a fan of dystopian epics, this bring a whole new element to the genre: the afterlife. I loved this book. What an original concept! Constantly changing, riveting and thought-provoking.”

Amazon: “The next big book series. Powerful and beautiful. I was so moved by this book that I actually cried, tears streaming down my face. Five minutes later, I was cheering. I felt like I had just seen a movie.”

Mugglenet, The #1 Harry Potter Site: “Ascenders is one of those books that stays on your mind for days after reading it. Though you continue your days, your mind keeps wandering back to the main characters, the overarching theme, and of course, the scenarios of what could possibly happen next. I finished this novel within the span of two days, and I wish that I could start over and read the whole thing again. “

Mugglenet: “Walker and Daniel are incredibly believable and realistic. Walker is a strong female character that isn’t afraid to fight for what she loves. Daniel, while having a hard, cold exterior, is actually soft underneath it all and incredibly loving. C.L. Gaber did an excellent job describing the setting and places. I felt like I was right there. The dead celebrity appearances kept me on my toes.”

Mugglenet: “I can’t wait to read the second book. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about a book.”

Amazon: The story is so amazing, and completely unique, I have never read anything like this or that will compare to this. I would rank this up there in my top reads of 2015. The tail is enchanting and I fell in love with Daniel and his family and I wanted to be best friends with Walker, this was the book that kept giving. Perfect storytelling!

The Pen and the Muse: Ascenders by C.L. Gaber was an utterly refreshing, original, and an un-put-down-able read. This book was brimming with emotions, feels, and had a striking story line that kept you glued to your e-reader. I was completely mesmerized with the characters and their journey of the "in between." With a concept so unique, Ms. Gaber had her readers totally invested with the story of Walker and Daniel. Be prepared to get spell-blinded and fall in love with this beautiful and enchanting story.

Booknerds: “I was completely absorbed in the Ascenders world. It’s an insanely creative world. AMAZING, AMAZING concept and characters. Daniel and Walker had great chemistry. Daniel is everything a male lead should be. Total crush material. He walks that line of bad boy and sweetheart. Walker was one hell of a strong female character. She was intelligent, quick witted, charming and a bad ass in the best possible way.”

 
excerpt


I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wanted to slap him again, but I was too busy running my hands all over myself. I had no idea why I was still breathing or talking or looking at this asshole as if he were some sort of lunatic, which is exactly what he was . . . a lunatic who just stood there looking gravely concerned and even a little bit sad.

Nothing seemed weird or broken on me, except I was soaking wet standing in the snow and not shivering one bit. I knew my mom was going to kill me for coming home drenched. But first I had to send my new music-class buddy off to the men in white coats.

“Yeah, we’re all dead inside. Teenage agony. All the pain. Being this age sucks,” I ranted, taking one step closer to him to look into his eyes for some clue that he was just kidding—a mean, kidding, maniac who almost let a girl drown right in front of him. No Boy Scout points for that one, jerk ass.

“No, you’re dead—inside, outside, upside-down dead,” he said, looking hard into my face where I’m sure the only thing he saw was my utter disbelief.

I made a mental note to tell my mother that we were packing up and moving back to Chicago first thing in the morning. Whatever these people up here had could be contagious.

“You need a shrink.”
He only smiled sadly.
Then he did the one thing I couldn’t possibly see coming. He pulled off his jacket,

yanked off his shirt, scooped me up in his arms, and walk-raced toward the spot where I had fallen into the freezing pond. I could almost swear that his boots had turned into blades and he was setting some speed-skating record on that lake of doom. The oppressive black night sky minus a moon or any stars made his face look dark and formidable.

“So, you’re the kind who needs proof—just like me. I’d say kindred spirits, but that would be a really bad joke,” he said. Looking down, I could see that I was hovering above the hole where I had landed in the lake just moments ago.

“You wouldn’t!” I shouted as we teetered above the rushing water only inches below us. “If you do this and we live . . . then I will kill you!” I announced in a calm voice.

“Famous last words,” he said with a half smile. “I prefer, Remember the Alamo!”

As his words rang through the night, he bent his knees and jumped hard into the air, landing both of us in deep freeze. The splash was epic, and so were my last words. “You are so dead,” I mouthed.

The great splash began with a loud roar and then it settled into an even louder nothingness. My heart began to pound because this time I didn’t even have a moment to catch my breath, but I knew enough now to conserve what little oxygen I had inside my lungs. It was more of a reflex when I reached wide for both of his shoulders, which were rock-hard; I held on with the tightest grip possible. For what seemed like five minutes, we just floated underneath this chilled-out amusement park.

When my eyes cleared a bit under the murky darkness, I could see that Daniel was smiling in a way that made his eyes crinkle at the corners, which made him devastatingly handsome. On the inside of his arms, near his biceps, I could see tattoos that read, JENNA, ANDY, PETER . . . and BOBBY. Who was Bobby? And then there was a strange tree tat that started on his right wrist, the thick trunk looking half-dead and black as it raced up his arm and past his thick bicep. Curiously, the closer the tree climbed to his shoulder, it came alive with supple summer leaves that were wide-open and vibrant green. They cascaded on thin braches lushly onto his shoulder and then seemed to multiply past that area as they rained halfway down his chiseled back like falling stars.

Under this water—that should have turned me into a human ice cube, but actually felt warmer now—I didn’t have time to memorize it all because Daniel shocked me again when he reclined all the way back like he was a human raft. It was a reflex when I settled

onto his chest as if I was riding on him. Our bodies fit into the right grooves like puzzle pieces. His hands settled on my hips and our faces were only inches apart as we sunk much deeper into the dark abyss.

A moment later, his body disappeared and I began to plummet down into what seemed like a bottomless pit. That’s when I felt his right hand grab my wrist and hoist me hard into protective arms. When we were face to face in the drink, I watched his look of concern fade into what was mischievous wonder. At that moment, he took his hand, placed it on top of my head, and dunked me as if we were two kids playing some sort of game in the deep end of our community pool.

Only one thought went through my mind: Revenge. He moved like a human eel, too fast to catch, easily slipping out of my grasp.

Time passed slowly as I tried to calculate the minutes we were under the water. One. Two. Three. Ten. Finally, I saw a finger that motioned me to swim after it. Given no other choice, I obeyed, blinking my eyes twice when I saw what seemed like just a vision, but it was real. A brand-new murky figure had swum up next to us and I stifled a scream; but it wasn’t a prehistoric swamp creature. It was Daniel’s kid brother, Peter, who was now underwater and having a grand time of it. He bypassed us to grab his younger sisters who were also swimming near us and were engaged in a watery wrestling match.

With a thick roof-like plank of ice overhead, but posing no real concern, Peter did a breaststroke near me and then mouthed words I could easily read, but couldn’t believe at the same time.

“Marco Polo,” he taunted, opening his mouth and drinking a big gulp of water. Then he rubbed his belly as in, “Man, that was tasty.”

At that point, I just closed my eyes and waited for the world to go black. When I realized I hadn’t moved an inch underwater in what seemed like ages, I wondered if I would just freeze in place like some sort of teenage mermaid on her last swim. My mind was racing, but my body was in absolutely no distress. Placing my hand over my heart, I felt it beating ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum in a resoundingly normal way. How? Why? Without any answers, Daniel grabbed for my free hand and yanked me to his side where we swam under the ice until we could see the night sky drifting through the open hole.

The suction of the water was great as we shot like human darts to the surface. I found myself in his arms once again, and then gingerly deposited back on land in a nice, fluffy snow bank. Around us, the wind whipped in our faces, but I wasn’t freezing cold; despite the fact that I was soaking wet and probably in some sort of shock or in the middle of a really bad dream. “I’m out, angel. The rest is up to you to find out,” Daniel said, wrenching his shirt back on before shrugging into his jacket and shaking water droplets off his face in one animalistic movement.

“You’re out—of what? The rest—of what?” I said in an exhausted voice as he picked up his backpack and shoved mine into my arms.

“The rest of everything,” he said, walking away from me. There was no choice but to stand up and follow him.

We walked home in total silence. One foot and then another. It was dream walking. Until I thought I heard Daniel grumble something about reaching my front step, which didn’t look the least bit familiar.

“Jenna, stop needling your sister,” he yelled to the girls tromping behind us and then stopped for a moment to reign in Peter who was now throwing hard-packed snowballs at both of them. Then he turned to me and pointed to a red front door. Obviously, it was mine. “Home sweet home, princess of the sea,” he said.

I stepped onto the porch, but before I opened my front door I gathered the courage to ask him one more time, in a voice that wasn’t much above a whisper.

“Dead in what way?” I demanded. “Dead, as in socially dead? Dead as in DOA, when it comes to having friends in this town? Dead as in dead to you? Which is what I should be because I plan on never speaking to you ever again—after you let me drown twice.”

“No, just plain dead-dead, Callaghan,” Daniel said with a little smile as if he got my sense of humor and appreciated it for some strange reason. “You’re standing here bitching me out, which means, for purposes of historical accuracy, that you haven’t drowned – and you’re still speaking to me.”

“I hate it when I’m right,” he said.

“You’re an idiot,” I told him, continuing my rant. “And who told you that I was dead? Did you read about in the newspaper or was it on the local news? Did it make the CNN crawl?”

“The fruit appreciation teacher told me,” Daniel said in a cautious voice. “He’s the only one who has . . . universal Internet access for all time. Don’t ask me how he arranged it, but he covered that one before he even arrived,” Daniel said.

“He told you what?” I demanded, still occasionally checking for signs of brain damage from being under for so long. While half listening to Daniel, I began to recite the French national anthem that I had learned French 101 class. The words came easily in both English and French. Let’s go children of the fatherland, the day of glory has arrived.

“Are you even listening to me?” Daniel demanded and I snapped out of it for a moment, quite certain that all my brain cells were indeed intact. “If you’re listening, it’s something Steve showed me; something he reads about every new student before they arrive. He printed it out for me since we’re neighbors. But I don’t think this is a good idea because you already know too much for your second day.”

“Second day where?” I demanded. “There are actual rules for your second day in Michigan? Did someone forget to give me the guidebook?”

“Michigan!” he said in an astonished voice. “I’ve never heard this place called Michigan!”

“It’s not Michigan?” I demanded. “This isn’t Michigan,” Daniel said.

“Just read this damn thing,” he insisted, pulling a piece of paper from his backpack and shoving it into my hand. For a moment, my heart actually did stop in a way that made the icy lake seem like a swim in soothing tropical waters.

It’s not every day that you stand on your front porch, ready to go eat dinner and do some homework, but first you must do one more annoying thing: read your own obituary.
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meet the author

CL GABER is the author of ASCENDERS and the sequel ASCENDERS: SKYPUNCH (Book Two).

She is also a journalist writing about film and television for the New York Times Syndicate.

CL lives in Nevada with her husband Ron, bonus daughter Sabrina and two unruly dogs. You can reach her at CLGaber@Yahoo.com
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