Jul 31, 2012

VBT: Five Alarm Lust

Survivor Gillian Hilliard is finally healing from a nightmare past.
Fearing no man will ever find her attractive, she hides behind simple
attire and large glasses. When Gillian meets firefighter Jack Payle, she
is instantly attracted, and enjoys a wild night of sex with him. But in
the cold light of day she’s torn apart by guilt and shame, and retreats
to the familiar comfort of her simple, if unfulfilling, life.

After years of chasing the wrong kind of woman, Jack is shocked by
the instant attraction he feels for the mousy historian with shadows
in her eyes and passion simmering beneath her surface. Jack can’t get
past the lust firing his blood or the memories of her response to his
touch, for passionate, sexy Gillian is everything he’s ever wanted. Are
they strong enough to face down the demons haunting Gillian? Can
she trust the man who holds her heart with her darkest secrets and
accept his help to overcome the shadows of her past? Or will the
darkness destroy them both?

“That’s it, Miss Hilliard. As per your request, I leftmost of it down.” The young woman leaned

down, her hand on Gilli’s shoulder. “You’re going to knock ’em dead.”

Gilli offered a short, weak laugh and patted the girl’s hand. “Thanks.” She slipped her glasses on

and rose to totter toward the door on the stilettos her mother persisted she wear. As she exited, the

door closed behind her with a click. Gilli turned, smacking face first into a tall, hard wall of flesh before

her. Heat seared her body at the touch of his hands on the bare flesh of her back. Putting a couple of

inches between them, Gilli glanced upward. Her heart dropped before galloping in place.

Dark brown hair curled over a tanned forehead, green eyes as dark as pine stared at her,

bemusement sparkling in them. “Excuse me, miss.”

She shuddered at the slow drawl curling like a lover’s touch into her core. Her labia pulsed

beneath the lace of her panties. A flush crept along her throat to heat her cheeks and she ducked her

head to hide the wave of color washing over her face. She cleared her throat. “No, pardon me. Entirely

my fault.”

Scurrying down the hall, she gasped at the sensitivity in her breasts. Heavy, full, the nipples

throbbed beneath the layers of satin and lace. Desperate to cool her blood, she darted past a couple of

women and into the ladies room. The thin metal door offered minimal protection as she locked herself

into a stall. A thud filled the silence as she let her forehead drop and leaned against the icy metal and

Gods above, Zeus in the flesh right before me. What I wouldn’t give to have him … but he’s not

going…Arousal scorched along her veins, pooling between her legs and soaking her underwear. Like

venom, her ex’s sneering tone filled her mind. You couldn’t turn a light bulb on, Gillian, sexless. You

should get a boob job. Can’t count…

The soft clunk of the heavy public bathroom’s door opening preceded Barbara’s biting

tone. “Gillian, don’t think I didn’t see you…”

An uneasy cringe escaped in spite of the relief at the shattered memory. Gillian squeezed her

eyes shut. “Mother, can I not use the facilities without you harping at me?” Gillian smoothed her skirt

down, rolling her shoulders forward in the hopes of hiding her erect nipples. “I’ll be therein a moment.”

“Well hurry up, they’ve already got everyone seated. Goodness, child, you’d think you’d

remember this was my wedding!” The bathroom door clicked shut on her mother’s tirade.

With a roll of her eyes, Gillian stepped out of the stall, shot a look at her reflection in the mirror

and inhaled.

“There’s no point in getting hot and bothered over the likes of him. He ain’t going to want you.”

Gilli waved a hand at her reflection, a perfect imitation of her mother. “Horn-rimmed glasses, mousy-

looking hair, notits. Didn’t Mike teach you a damn thing, Gillian? Men don’t want a mouse, they want a

sex pot and you’re not it.”

With a quick shake of her head, she smoothed her skirt down, sucked in a deep breath, and

pulled open the bathroom door. She glanced around carefully before darting into the hallway.

Pressed close to the wall, she took her place before her mother, feeling like an over-stuffed

Easter egg as the wedding march began to play. A smile pasted on her face, she gripped the flowers in

her hand tighter and began the slow but steady shuffle toward the preacher.

Focused on getting there without falling, Gilli gasped at the man standing next to the altar.

Laughing green eyes watched her, his lips turned upward at the corners. A slight shadow covered his

square jaw. The dark suit he wore clung to his broad shoulders, tucking in at his waist. She wondered if

beneath his suit coat, his ass was as good as the rest of him. Embarrassed, she stepped back, narrowly

missing tripping on her own gown’s hem. Her mother’s pointed clearing of her throat drew her attention

to the woman sashaying along, the yards and yards of tulle and lace out of place on a woman in her

fifties—who’d had six previous husbands and more lovers then Gillian thought healthy. The unspoken

warning in Barb’s eyes pierced clearer than any shouting match could be. There would be hell to pay if

any attention slipped from the bride.

“Typical.” Gilli glared at the flowers, disgust rolling in her nauseous gut. She offered a prayer the

ceremony would draw to a quick end so she could ditch the shoes, the flowers, and find a quiet corner

to relax in, with the help of an expensive bottle of champagne.

She shot a glance across the aisle, heat suffusing her face when she caught sex in a

cummerbund’s eye. Screw the wine—what she wouldn’t give to get lost in him. Maybe if she’d been

different… Pushing aside the vague thought, she focused on the drone of her mother’s voice as she

spoke her vows.

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Jul 30, 2012

Breathless Press Blitz Tour

Today we have a blitz, four new releases from Breathless Press, organized by Goddess Fish. There are four ebooks, and let me tell you now, they all look SO good. 

Breathless Press is an e-book publisher specializing in Romance and Erotic(a) stories.

Our mission statement is simple: To provide the opportunity for readers to connect with romance authors through the purchasing of quality e-books at a low price.

Starting in the summer of 2009, Breathless Press came into existence. Since then, we have been producing top end romance and erotic stories for valued readers to enjoy.

Our Goal?

Breathless Press is an electronic publisher of paranormal, erotic, and mainstream romance, releasing one to three e-books a week in a variety of downloadable formats. It is Breathless Press' mission to provide readers with quality romance books in electronic formats and to raise the standard in e-publishing.

 Guardian Angel by Ben Kelly
Blurb: In a world with more than six billion people, a perfect partner exists for everyone. Katherine waited years to find hers, only to discover she has two. Unfortunately, her handsome, filthy rich, suitor isn't one of them. When she spurns his advances, nothing can save Katherine and her soul mates from his wrath.

Excerpt: Katherine glanced at her phone, merely to confirm her suspicions, then hit the button to silence the annoying thing. Helen left another voice mail, as if believing seven would be the magic number to prompt her stepdaughter to return her call.

I wish she would quit bugging me. I've already told her I won't date Geoffrey Werner, regardless of the size of his bank account or his abundant good looks.

Helen had described him as a Greek god in a business suit, with penetrating green eyes and black hair made for a woman's fingers.

Go ahead, give in, wimp. She picked up her phone to make the call. What harm could there be in one date with a filthy rich Greek god?


"Hey, Helen. I wasn't avoiding you." Liar. "They're running me crazy over here. Raoul has a big show coming up, and we're short on models. He's threatening to use another agency unless we can bring in some new top-notch talent in the next ten days. Basically, the fate of the whole agency is resting squarely on my shoulders. But no pressure, right? So, what's up? I've got a couple of minutes before I have to meet with a potential recruit." Let me guess, Geoffrey wants to know when I'm going to stop being such a tight ass and go out with him? I hope he's as nice as he is hot.

"I know you're busy, honey, so I won't keep you. It's just, Geoffrey really wants to meet you. He's stopping by this evening for cocktails, and I thought you might like to join us. It doesn't have to be anything formal, just pop in on your way home from work, say, sevenish."

"Helen, if I meet this guy, will you promise to quit badgering me, even if I don't like him?" Maybe this is an opportunity I shouldn't pass up. Who knows, it could be fate. I've refused to even talk to him, but he won't give up. I suppose persistence could be a good sign.

"Kathy, you'll like him. Ray better be glad I'm not twenty-five years younger, because I'd be all over that."

Ray better not turn his back, or you'll be all over that. What a terrible thing to think. It's true, but it's still not nice. "Promise you'll let it go."

"Honey, you've got to give up this childish fantasy about finding your perfect man. There is no such thing as a soul mate. You need to stop reading those damn romance novels and get your head into reality. You have the opportunity of a lifetime being handed to you. Don't throw it away because of some ridiculous notion."

"Jesus, Helen, do you always have to preach?" I like romance novels. It's not childish to want to meet the right guy. I don't want to settle for just anyone because I'm afraid of being alone. I think I'd rather be alone than get stuck in a bad relationship with Mr. Wrong. Yep, all the kids will stand on the corner pointing and laughing at me when I hobble down the street. Ha ha, look at the old spinster. She's ninety-five years old, and she never got laid. She's been sitting in front of her window every day since her fifth birthday, waiting for her soul mate.

"Kathy, I don't know how else to get through that thick head of yours. One day you'll thank me for being so insistent. Come meet him. Who knows, maybe he's the one you've been waiting for."

Hum, maybe he is the one. God knows I've been waiting long enough. Maybe I'll gaze into his eyes and see the man of my dreams. He'll take me into his arms, press his lips to mine, and I'll lose myself in his sensuous embrace. I'll open my mouth and caress his tongue with mine. My nipples will tighten, and my body will tremble with desire, as my... Someone rapped on her office window. Katherine glanced up and spotted her boss, Lynda, looking in as she strolled by. "Helen, I have to get back to work. I'll see you at seven. Tell Ray I said hello."
High Heels and Hexes by Michael Matthews Bingamon

Blurb: Shelly is a clever, sexy, dark haired beauty from New Zealand, but this talented witch has a gift for trouble. When her sister Caroline is abducted, Shelly and her coven must risk all to save her from the demon that snatched her away. The trio of seductive witches summons a demon of their own for aid and he directs them to a dangerous cambian, half-man half-demon, who resides in Death Valley.  

The cambian proves to be a powerful, handsome, and charismatic figure who is most unpredictable. Shelly’s proclivity for trouble drives her wild and she can’t help but to fall for him. However, this inscrutable cambian’s past could spell doom for the coven, along with Shelly’s heart, when it catches up with them in Los Angeles.

Four passionate witches must overcome not only a demon’s wrath, but their own dark desires in this modern day, magical, erotic fantasy. Follow these good natured, yet rambunctious, young women on their adventure of a lifetime. Will these ladies ever need anything besides their High Heels & Hexes?

Excerpt: "How did you know I was going to faint? You caught me before I fell. You also prevented my casting the hex twice, both times prior to my uttering a single syllable. You seem to know what I'm going to do before I do it. I understand cambians have different powers, can you read thoughts?"

"No, I don't read nobody's thoughts." His voice was gentle. "It goes like this; I see the future, at least a few moments ahead, anyways. It's enough to see what a person is about to do next. Combine that with my speed and strength and I'm lethal— see?"

"I noticed. I do apologize for attempting to throw the hex. It won't happen again."

He turned her palm upward, spit on it and rubbed with vigorous effort, causing the ink to smear and disenchant the symbol.

"We don't have to worry about that now, though you're right on about my feud with Vaciro. He's tried to have me killed many times and I've gotten to be an expert at staying alive. The downside is I've become a crappy host." He took her arm and escorted Shelly to the door. "Vaciro wants a bride so that he can spawn more cambians. You know witches make the best spouses for demons since they have magical talent and that means stronger half-demons. Since your enemy is my enemy maybe we can work something out. Tell you what, babe; Jack will listen to your story and decide if he wants in."

"Your name is Jack?" She failed to stifle a giggle.

"That's right, what's wrong with that? It's a classic name. You find that funny?"

"No!" She chuckled again. "Sorry! Honestly, I don't know. I came in here fearing for my life from a half-demon spawn just to discover his name is Jack. It's ridiculous, that's all."

"I could still kill you." Jack feigned offense. "Stop laughing or otherwise it'll be the last thing you do."

"No worries, mate." She stroked his chest and admired how solid he was. "No need to get all worked up over it. It's just a bit of fun."

Jack furrowed his brow. "Man, you have a funny accent. Are you British or something?"

"I'm from New Zealand! You mean to tell me that you don't know the difference?"

Jack shook his head. "I'm an American, honey. We don't need to know the difference."

"Typical bloody yank, go on then."

 The Movie Star's Wife by Liz R. Newman
Blurb: The wife of a major movie star commits to helping her dearest friend conceal a secret from the public eye but is tempted away from loyalty by the promise of true love.

Juliet James, aka Julie Streets, is a former starlet married to one of the biggest action stars in history.  He’s handsome, sexy, and her best friend.  There’s only one thing keeping them from falling in love.  Enter a world of glamour and riches where all of the indulgences of heaven are there for the taking, but the trappings of a marriage of convenience have made life a living hell.  A chance meeting prompts Juliet to change her situation when she comes across a romantic interest she just can’t stay away from. 

Excerpt: "This doc covers everything, from maid service to housekeepers to even just close friends.  He can't imagine exactly what this can cover as well," I lied. "I mean, what transpires between you and I."  Tiny droplets of sweat formed at my hairline.  "You and I work together.  We've formed a friendship.  He'll think it pertains to whatever happens or is said on set.  The entire crew will have to sign one as well if the pilot becomes a series."

Gavin placed the document on a teak side table.  Lifting up my chin gently, he caressed my cheek with his hand.  "This doesn't work for me, Juliet."

I stared off into the moonlit seascape, watching the waves lap upon the shore.  The ocean held as many tears as were prepared to fall from my eyes.  I closed them as I breathed deeply, listening to the sound of the waves pounding, and the crickets chirping at the sight of the moon.  The nearness of him, combined with the romantic setting, seemed to be a stage set for a joke, a parody of forever unrequited love.  I felt the weight of his body upon mine, as his lips pressed against mine, opening them in a passionate kiss that ignited my very soul from where his lips touched me in a secret place that had been treated as an affliction for far too long.

"I have a suggestion of my own, that I want to run by you."  Slipping off the hammock, he disappeared down the stairs, coming back up with one hand behind his back.  "Juliet.  I know you are another man's wife, and under any other circumstances I would have nothing to do with  you.  I can't stay away.  I won't.  Unless you ask me to."  He waited as he searched my eyes.  He bent down on one knee and brought a box from behind his back.  "Perhaps this is not as extraordinary as the one you already own.  If you don't like it, I can find you a different one more suited to your taste.  Juliet James, will you marry me?"

"Yes!" I blurted.  Then just as quickly, "No!  I mean... I have to ask Steven."


"I can't explain.  I'll try.  When you live with someone for so long, you owe them an explanation."

"Do you want to marry me, Juliet?"

His Princess by Kiru Taye
Blurb: With the weight of a kingdom on his shoulders and his honor at stake, can a Prince truly love a slave?

Ezinne is dismayed when her mistress presents her to Prince Emeka as a concubine to cater for his every need for a few weeks. She’s a slave whose previous encounters with men make her fear their brutality.

Yet the more she gets to know the powerful yet honorable prince, the easier he breaks down the walls around her heart. She soon comes to want him more than she wants anything else, even freedom.

But Emeka is the heir to the throne and Ezinne is a woman with secrets that threaten not just their budding relationship but a kingdom.

Excerpt: As if he’d conjured her up by thinking about her, Nonye walked into his obi at that moment. A smile creased his lips as he watched her glide into the room. Nonye was a consummate princess. She was born and bred as one. There was no doubt as to her status and sophistication when she walked into a room. All eyes gravitated toward her.

Except today it wasn’t entirely true. There was another girl following closely behind Nonye. The moment, he glimpsed the girl entering his obi, his eyes focused on her. His heart practically stopped in his chest. Mentally he shook his head and berated himself for staring. A warm sensation spread through his body. His body’s response undeniable; the girl roused him as only one other person had been able to. Yet, it couldn’t possibly be her.

The girl was the most stunning woman he’d ever seen. It occurred to him there was something familiar about her but he couldn’t pinpoint it. He’d seen her somewhere but wasn’t sure where. Was she one of the Ichie’s daughters? Perhaps a princess from another kingdom? He noted that even Amobi was staring appreciatively at the girl. A vice tightened Emeka's gut, jealousy spreading through him.

Nonye curtsied in front of him. He indicated for her to rise up, his stomach churning, spreading guilt through him. What am I doing ogling another woman? I’m a married man. I was raised by my father to value marriage. Moreover he had made a promise to work at keeping a good relationship with his wife, Nonye. Yet here he was blatantly admiring another woman in her presence. His disgust for his actions left a bitter taste of bile on his tongue.

Forcing himself to, he turned toward Nonye and smiled, taking her hand to guide her to her chair next to his. When she smiled back at him, his guilt eased a little. Yes, his marriage wasn’t perfect but he was committed to it. Nonye was a beautiful woman, though there were certain behaviors of hers he didn’t like. He had already made a vow to himself that they would work through whatever issues they had together.

Though every pore of his body was aware of the other woman still standing in front of him, he decided to ignore her and keep his eyes on Nonye. He needed the woman gone as soon as possible and wondered why Nonye would bring her to his chamber.

He couldn’t keep his irritated nerves from reflecting in his voice. “Nonye, I was in a meeting with Amobi. Is there something you need from me?”

“Please forgive me, my prince, but I need a private audience with you.” Nonye batted her doe eyes at him, her face screwed up in a frown. His guilt rose again. His grip tightened on his chair armrest. He’d never raised his voice to Nonye, yet because of another woman’s presence, he was so riled that he lost his temper. That wasn’t good. He needed to take back control of his person. Loosening his grip, he extended his arm and took Nonye’s hand in his.

Amobi said, “My prince, I think we have concluded our discussion. If it pleases you, I’ll come back another time.”

Emeka nodded in agreement. His friend was nothing if not diplomatic. Nonye knew better than to interrupt him when he was in a meeting with his special adviser except if the reason was of utmost important and urgency.

“Amobi, thank you for your time. I’ll speak to you later.” Emeka waved his hand to dismiss Amobi and the personal guards who always stood behind his chair.

When they left the room, Nonye indicated for the girl to approach. The moment he turned to look at the girl again, his sight was riveted to her. She was indeed the most beautiful maiden he’d seen. She had very long braided black hair, twisted and decorated with beads in a pile on her head. Her face was heart-shaped with almond-shaped beguiling brown eyes, a small nose and full sumptuous lips. Her skin glowed like polished ebony wood and the decorative uli on her body enhanced her beauty. Several rows of elephant tusk beads hung around her neck partly covering her full breasts, indicating she was an unwed maiden. More beads hung around her waist, accentuating her slim midriff. Her wrapped ornate thick-woven skirt flared over her round hips and stopped just above her knees. There were more beads on her lower legs and ankles. She was dressed almost similar to a young bride on her wedding day.

Emeka wondered what she was doing here. Does she come to seek my blessing? Somehow the thought of her marrying some unknown man had his heart constricting again in jealous rage.

Who is she?

Cover Reveal: Colonization

I have a new stunning cover from Inkspell Publishing. I can't wait for this title to be available it sounds awesome.

Finding a new home has never been so dangerous.

Andromeda has spent all seventeen years of her life aboard a deep space transport vessel destined for a paradise planet. Her safe cocoon is about to break open as Paradise 21 looms only one month away, and she must take the aptitude tests to determine her role on the new world and her computer assigned lifemate. As a great-granddaughter of the Commander of the ship, she wants to live up to her family name. But, her forbidden love for her childhood friend, Sirius, distracts her and she fails the tests. The results place her in a menial role in the new colony and pair her with Corvus, “the oaf”.

But when Andromeda steps foot on Paradise 21, her predestined future is the least of her worries. Alien ghosts from a failed colonization warn her of a deadly threat to her colony. And when Sirius's ship crashes on the far ridge in an attempt to investigate, she journeys to rescue him with Corvus.

Andromeda now must convince the authorities of the imminent danger to protect her new home. What she didn't expect was a battle of her own feelings for Sirius and Corvus.

Can she save the colony and discover her true love?

Colonization releases November 7th.
The giveaway is open only to residents of the US and UK. 

Aubrie Dionne writes science fiction fantasy with romantic elements. Her writings have
appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Hazard Cat, Moon Drenched
Fables, A Fly in Amber, and Aurora Wolf. Her books are published by Inkspell Publishing,
Entangled Publishing, Lyrical Press, and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. She’s also a professional
flutist in New England.

Website      Blog      Goodreads       Twitter      

Jul 28, 2012

Short YA Review: Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen 
Pages: 320
Genre: Paranormal YA 
Reading Level: 14+
Source: Borrowed from library
Reviewer: Viari Rose
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
Yet she spares Cas's life.

Anna Dressed In Blood is a witty horror blended with romance. It's story is complex and engaging. 

It is also bloody, gory with a good blend of the occult.  I love a good ghost story, and this one delivers. Cas is very much a loner though in his newest city, he meets friends as he combats Anna. An old enemy appears and it will take everything they have to defeat it. 

The only thing I found quite distracting though is the the dark red text in the print version that I have. The sequel Girl of Nightmares is due out August 7th. 

It’s after midnight when I park the Rally Sport in our driveway. Mr. Dean’s probably still up, wiry and full of black coffee as he is, watching me cruise carefully down the street. But he doesn’t expect the car back until morning. If I get up early enough, I can take it down to the shop and replace the tires before he knows any different.
As the headlights cut through the yard and splash onto the face of the house, I see two green dots: the eyes of my mom’s cat. When I get to the front door, it’s gone from the window. It’ll tell her that I’m home. Tybalt is the cat’s name. It’s an unruly thing, and it doesn’t much care for me. I don’t care much for it either. It has a weird habit of pulling all the hair off its tail, leaving little tufts of black all over the house. But my mom likes to have a cat around. Like most children, they can see and hear things that are already dead. A handy trick, when you live with us.
I go inside, take my shoes off, and climb the stairs by two. I’m dying for a shower—want to get that mossy, rotten feeling off my wrist and shoulder. And I want to check my dad’s athame and rinse off whatever black stuff might be on the edge.
At the top of the stairs, I stumble against a box and say, “Shit!” a little too loudly. I should know better. My life is lived in a maze of packed boxes. My mom and I are professional packers; we don’t mess around with castoff cardboard from the grocery or liquor stores. We have high-grade, industrialstrength, reinforced boxes with permanent labels. Even in the dark I can see that I just tripped over the Kitchen Utensils (2).
I tiptoe into the bathroom and pull my knife out of my leather backpack. After I finished off the hitchhiker I wrapped it up in a black velvet cloth, but not neatly. I was in a hurry. I didn’t want to be on the road anymore, or anywhere near the bridge. Seeing the hitchhiker disintegrate didn’t scare me. I’ve seen worse. But it isn’t the kind of thing you get used to.
I look up into the mirror and see the sleepy reflection of my mom, holding the black cat in her arms. I put the athame down on the counter.
“Hey, Mom. Sorry to wake you.”
“You know I like to be up when you come in anyway. You should always wake me, so I can sleep.”
I don’t tell her how dumb that sounds; I just turn on the faucet and start to run the blade under the cold water.
“I’ll do it,” she says, and touches my arm. Then of course she grabs my wrist, because she can see the bruises that are starting to purple up all along my forearm.
I expect her to say something motherly; I expect her to quack around like a worried duck for a few minutes and go to the kitchen to get ice and a wet towel, even though the bruises are by no means the worst mark I’ve ever gotten. But this time she doesn’t. Maybe because it’s late, and she’s tired. Or maybe because after three years she’s finally starting to figure out that I’m not going to quit.
“Give it to me,” she says, and I do, because I’ve gotten the worst of the black stuff off already. She takes it and leaves. I know that she’s off to do what she does every time, which is to boil the blade and then stab it into a big jar of salt, where it will sit under the light of the moon for three days. When she takes it out she’ll wipe it down with cinnamon oil and call it good as new.
She used to do the same thing for my dad. He’d come home from killing something that was already dead and she’d kiss him on the cheek and take away the athame, as casually as any wife might carry in a briefcase. He and I used to stare at the thing while it sat in its jar of salt, our arms crossed over our chests, conveying to each other that we both thought it was ridiculous. It always seemed to me like an exercise in make-believe. Like it was Excalibur in the rock.
But my dad let her do it. He knew what he was getting into when he met and married her, a pretty, auburn-haired Wiccan girl with a strand of white flowers braided around her neck. He’d lied back then and called himself Wiccan too, for lack of a better word. But really, Dad wasn’t much of anything.
He just loved the legends. He loved a good story, tales about the world that made it seem cooler than it really was. He went crazy over Greek mythology, which is where I got my name.
They compromised on it, because my mom loved Shakespeare, and I ended up called Theseus Cassio. Theseus for the slayer of the Minotaur, and Cassio for Othello’s doomed lieutenant. I think it sounds straight-up stupid. Theseus Cassio Lowood. Everyone just calls me Cas. I suppose I should be glad—my dad also loved Norse mythology, so I might have wound up being called Thor, which would have been basically unbearable.
I exhale and look in the mirror. There are no marks on my face, or on my gray dress button-up, just like there were no marks on the Rally Sport’s upholstery (thank god). I look ridiculous. I’m in slacks and sleeves like I’m out on a big date, because that’s what I told Mr. Dean I needed the car for. When I left the house tonight my hair was combed back, and there was a little bit of gel in it, but after that fucking kerfuffle it’s hanging across my forehead in dark streaks.
“You should hurry up and get to bed, sweetheart. It’s late and we’ve got more packing to do.”
My mom is done with the knife. She’s floated back up against the doorjamb and her black cat is twisting around her ankles like a bored fish around a plastic castle.
“I just want to jump in the shower,” I say. She sighs and turns away.
“You did get him, didn’t you?” she says over her shoulder, almost like an afterthought.
“Yeah. I got him.”
She smiles at me. Her mouth looks sad and wistful. “It was close this time. You thought you’d have him finished before the end of July. Now it’s August.”
“He was a tougher hunt,” I say, pulling a towel down off the shelf. I don’t think she’s going to say anything else, but she stops and turns back.
“Would you have stayed here, if you hadn’t gotten him? Would you have pushed her back?”
I only think for a few seconds, just a natural pause in the conversation, because I knew the answer before she finished asking the question.
As my mom leaves, I drop the bomb. “Hey, can I borrow some cash for a new set of tires?”
“Theseus Cassio,” she moans, and I grimace, but her exhausted sigh tells me that I’m good to go in the morning.

Thunder Bay, Ontario, is our destination. I’m going there to kill her. Anna. Anna Korlov. Anna Dressed in Blood.
“This one has you worried, doesn’t it, Cas,” my mom says from behind the wheel of the U-Haul van. I keep telling her we should just buy our own moving truck, instead of renting. God knows we move often enough, following the ghosts.
“Why would you say that?” I ask, and she nods at my hand. I hadn’t realized it was tapping against my leather bag, which is where Dad’s athame is. With a focused effort, I don’t take it away. I just keep tapping like it doesn’t matter, like she’s overanalyzing and reading into things.
“I killed Peter Carver when I was fourteen, Mom,” I say. “I’ve been doing it ever since. Nothing much surprises me anymore.”
There’s a tightening in her face. “You shouldn’t say it like that. You didn’t ‘kill’ Peter Carver. You were attacked by Peter Carver and he was already dead.”
It amazes me sometimes how she can change a thing just by using the right words. If her occult supply shop ever goes under, she’s got a good future in branding.
I was attacked by Peter Carver, she says. Yeah. I was attacked. But only after I broke into the Carver family’s abandoned house. It had been my first job. I did it without my mom’s permission, which is actually an understatement. I did it against my mom’s screaming protests and had to pick the lock on my bedroom window to get out of the house. But I did it. I took my father’s knife and broke in. I waited until two a.m. in the room where Peter Carver shot his wife with a .44 caliber pistol and then hung himself with his own belt in the closet. I waited in the same room where his ghost had murdered a real estate agent trying to sell the house two years later, and then a property surveyor a year after that.
Thinking about it now, I remember my shaking hands and a stomach close to heaving. I remember the desperation to do it, to do what I was supposed to do, like my father had. When the ghosts finally showed up (yes, ghosts plural—turns out that Peter and his wife had reconciled, found a common interest in killing) I think I almost passed out. One came out of the closet with his neck so purple and bent it looked like it was on sideways, and the other bled up through the floor like a paper towel commercial in reverse. She hardly made it out of the boards, I’m proud to say. Instinct took over and I tacked her back down before she could make a move. Carver tackled me though, while I was trying to pull my knife out of the wood that was coated with the stain that used to be his wife. He almost threw me out the window before I scrambled back to the athame, mewling like a kitten. Stabbing him was almost an accident. The knife just sort of ran into him when he wrapped the end of his rope around my throat and spun me around. I never told my mom that part.
“You know better than that, Mom,” I say. “It’s only other people who think you can’t kill what’s already dead.” I want to say that Dad knew too, but I don’t. She doesn’t like to talk about him, and I know that she hasn’t been the same since he died. She’s not quite here anymore; there’s something missing in all of her smiles, like a blurry spot or a camera lens out of focus. Part of her followed him, wherever it was that he went. I know it’s not that she doesn’t love me. But I don’t think she ever figured on raising a son by herself. Her family was supposed to form a circle. Now we walk around like a photograph that my dad’s been cut out of.
“I’ll be in and out like that,” I say, snapping my fingers and redirecting the subject. “I might not even spend the whole school year in Thunder Bay.”
She leans forward over the steering wheel and shakes her head. “You should think about staying longer. I’ve heard it’s a nice place.”
I roll my eyes. She knows better. Our life isn’t quiet. It isn’t like other lives, where there are roots and routines. We’re a traveling circus. And she can’t even blame it on my dad being killed, because we traveled with him too, though admittedly not as much. It’s the reason that she works the way she does, doing tarot card readings and aura cleansing over the phone, and selling occult supplies online. My mother the mobile witch. She makes a surprisingly good living at it. Even without my dad’s trust accounts, we’d probably be just fine.
Right now we’re driving north on some winding road that follows the shore of Lake Superior. I was glad to get out of North Carolina, away from iced tea and accents and hospitality that didn’t suit me. Being on the road I feel free, when I’m on my way from here to there, and it won’t be until I put my feet down on Thunder Bay pavement that I’ll feel like I’m back to work. For now I can enjoy the stacks of pines and the layers of sedimentary rock along the roadside, weeping groundwater like a constant regret. Lake Superior is bluer than blue and greener than green, and the clear light coming through the windows makes me squint behind my sunglasses.
“What are you going to do about college?”
“Mom,” I moan. Frustration bubbles out of me all of a sudden. She’s doing her half-and-half routine. Half accepting what I am, half insisting that I be a normal kid. I wonder if she did it to my dad too. I don’t think so.
“Cas,” she moans back. “Superheroes go to college too.”
“I’m not a superhero,” I say. It’s an awful tag. It’s egotistical, and it doesn’t fit. I don’t parade around in spandex. I don’t do what I do and receive accolades and keys to cities. I work in the dark, killing what should have stayed dead. If people knew what I was up to, they’d probably try to stop me. The idiots would take Casper’s side, and then I’d have to kill Casper and them after Casper bit their throats out. I’m no superhero. If anything I’m Rorschach from Watchmen. I’m Grendel. I’m the survivor in Silent Hill.
“If you’re so set on doing this during college, there are plenty of cities that could keep you busy for four years.” She turns the U-Haul into a gas station, the last one on the U.S. side. “What about Birmingham? That place is so haunted you could take two a month and still probably have enough to make it through grad school.”
“Yeah, but then I’d have to go to college in fucking Birmingham,” I say, and she shoots me a look. I mutter an apology. She might be the most liberal-minded of mothers, letting her teenage son roam the night hunting down the remains of murderers, but she still doesn’t like hearing the f-bomb fall out of my mouth.
She pulls up to the pumps and takes a deep breath. “You’ve avenged him five times over, you know.” Before I can say that I haven’t, she gets out and shuts the door.

Kendare Blake is an import from South Korea who was raised in the United States by caucasian parents. You know, that old chestnut. She received a Bachelor's degree in Business from Ithaca College and a Master's degree in Writing from Middlesex University in London. She brakes for animals, the largest of which was a deer, which sadly didn't make it, and the smallest of which was a mouse, which did, but it took forever. Amongst her likes are Greek Mythology, rare red meat and veganism. She also enjoys girls who can think with the boys like Ayn Rand, and boys who scare the morality into people, like Bret Easton Ellis.

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