Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review:Max Hamby and the Blood Diamond by Kathy Cyr

Max Hamby, Book 1
by Kathy Cyr
Gaslight Press
Middle Grade Fantasy
211 pages

The first book in the children’s fantasy series - Max Hamby.

It’s the last week of school. With sunny days ahead and no more tests or bullies, life for Max Hamby is about to get alot better.....until he crashes into an odd exhibit at the local museum.

Strange things begin to happen.

When Max’s mother disappears, he’s left in the care of his eccentric neighbor where lawn gnomes come to life and a bird meows. Mrs. Pitt shows him that magic is real and not all like the fairytale she once knew.

The discovery leads him to Merrihaven, where even stranger things await, including a dwarf, a troll and a couple of pixies.

He quickly finds himself at the center of a battle between good and evil.

Someone has resurrected the Shadowstone to free the evil imprisoned inside. Max must summon the courage to find seven magical stones to save his mother and stop the evil, before it’s too late.


There are characters which grow on the reader as the story progresses, and by the end, without the reader even realizing it, these characters have managed to take a place in the reader's heart--Max Hamby is one of these.

The story starts with an awkward boy, Max Hamby, on a class field trip to a maybe not so exciting museum. For Max, disaster is guaranteed since he doesn't get along with the teacher, the kids enjoy bullying him every chance they get and, the last draw, his shoe laces are against him. Max literally stumbles into a world he doesn't understand and knows nothing about. 

Like Max and his shoelaces, I stumbled through the first chapters simply because there is so much going on and so many characters involved that I had a hard time settling into the plot or world. But I'm glad I held on because after the story gets going, the world takes over and refuses to let go.

Max is a perfect character for his age--doesn't feel completely at home in his own skin, ready to prove himself, thinks of others, tries to do what is right, and finds his efforts not always working out as planned. But then, he is up against quite the array of mystic creatures.

The fantasy world is as rich and delightful as a candy store. Although starting out in a regular world, things slowly warp as witches, trolls and magic trickle in. There are even less known fantasy creatures and magical descriptions which make it seem as if the wonders could appear right before the reader's eyes.

Max is on a fast-paced adventure, going from one situation into the next...much which is, in the beginning, beyond his comprehension and control. But unlike many stories of this genre, Max isn't the only one riding the danger through. There is a large array of characters involved--aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors, and bad guys (of course)--and they are bound determined to keep Max out of the situation as much as possible. This creates a story where Max is, at first, more of a figure being shoved around, and the story telling reflects this. The happenings aren't only given from Max's point of view, but flip-flop between the characters, and sometimes, setting and scene. Since there is no warning or indication that a change in point of view is occurring, the story jolts, leaving the reader to figure out and notice on their own that a sudden change in views has occurred. 

But it's exactly the fantastic rainbow of characters which makes this story so fun and intriguing to read. Each has their own personality and with all the twists and turns, each gains their own story, creating a rich world worthy of a series to be read.

And here she is. . .

Kathy Cyr writes in an underground cave, but has her eye on a wizard's castle.

On an average day, she's usually surrounded by a dwarf with a curious addiction to coffee,
a moody dragon and a pink pixie with a large sweet tooth.

When not writing books, she can be found daydreaming about faraway places,
enjoying a cup of coffee with the dwarf, sharing a laugh with the moody dragon
(when he's in the mood) and sitting on a rainbow of treats with the pink pixie.

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Cover Reveal: Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams with Giveaway

by Desiree Williams
YA Fantasy

APRIL 28th, 2016!!!

There is nothing in life that eighteen year old Zara craves more than her freedom. Stolen from her home in Cadrebia at the age of eight, Zara has spent more years than she cared to admit as a slave to the Tankadesh courts. Her days are filled with protecting the princess, while she spends nights entertaining the king and his officials with her mastery of weapons. Any spare moment in between, she plots escape.
Yet her hopes for freedom come to a crashing halt when a stranger arrives bearing the mark of her assigned lifemate, and he threatens war if she isn’t turned over into his care. But a lifemate is not part of the plan. Her dreams, of choosing her own path and being the master of her own will, weaken as her Moon seeks to claim his Sun.
Is it possible that this stranger, with gentle blue eyes and a ready smile, didn’t come to be her new master? That there could be more to his tale?
Zara soon finds that neither her captivity nor her parents’ deaths were mere random attacks. And by returning to Cadrebia, she may have put the future of the royal line—and her Moon—in jeopardy. While Zara breathes in her first taste of freedom, her enemies move in, seeking to rob Cadrebia of its blessed prophecy.
To keep what she holds dear, Zara must rise above the pain and uncertainty to claim the lifemate assigned to her, or more than her freedom will be stolen this time.


“What’s going on here?” Dareh dismounted from his horse and with long purposeful strides worked his way toward them. His green eyes blazed. His jaw was set. Zara would hear about this later, but for now she would welcome his rescue.
The captain of the guard surveyed the scene. He closed his eyes briefly—probably praying for patience not to strangle her—and clamped a hand on her shoulder.
“I swear, Zara,” Dareh whispered low into her ear. “You attract trouble like a siren.”
She opened her mouth with a rebuttal, but Dareh narrowed his eyes, silencing her on the spot.
“Get to the palace before you’re recognized by my men. If Melchior learns you’ve been outside the palace walls you’ll spend the night in the flogging yard. Go. Take Essie with you. I’ll sort things out here.”
Zara opened her mouth once more, but a prickling over her palm stopped the words from flowing. Heat traced the lines of her mark. Goosebumps dotted her flesh. She shivered despite the heat from the desert sun. Oh, no. Please, no.
“May I be of some assistance?”
She jerked at the rich baritone that came from behind her. The world fell away in that moment. The merchants cursing over their loss were gone. Dareh’s men waving or shouting at the crowd gathered around them—gone. Even poor Essie, standing with her jaw dangling like a loon, faded.
Zara’s senses zoned in on the man behind her. She curled her fingers to close over the crescent shaped mark that had begun to throb. Her mind screamed for her to run. Her heart was all but having a seizure. But her feet somehow managed to turn her stunned body.
Pale blue eyes were the first thing she noticed. They reminded her of the moon with a ring of dark night around them. Sun-kissed skin followed with a splash of scruff along a strong jaw. Deep brown locks fell over his forehead and touched the tips of his ears.
“Hello, my Sun.” Full lips curved into a smile, revealing perfect teeth. And just like that, all their hopeful plans for escape blew away like grains of sand on the desert floor.
Her heart crumpled.
Would she ever be free?

And here she is. . . 

Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.
You can find out more about Desiree and her books at

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Excerpt: Sinners in the Dark by Inger Iversen with Giveaway

Sinners in the Dark
by Inger Iversen
(Running in the Dark #2)
YA Paranormal

War is coming between vampires and humans, and the Vampire Nation will stop at nothing to eliminate their enemies. Former assassin, Echo sees the Nation for what it is – a corrupt organization with its sights set on destroying the Sect, a group formed to eradicate all things vampire. Now Echo is a Ghost, a traitor of the Vampire Nation, determined to build a new life with the Sect. But choices he’s made in the past might cost him the one person who could truly redeem his soul.

Sequel to:


Chapter 1
Present Day
Give as Good as You Get

Via crept slowly along the back wall of the seedy motel, keeping her body out of the light. Quietly, she tucked her lucky silver cross in her shirt and reached to her side to pull her queb, a weapon made from wood, from her belt. With her other hand, she palmed her gun and released it from her side. She studied the two hoodlums with intense disdain as they eyed the mom and pop diner. Via knew the owners, and ate there often back when she was a dollar away from being homeless.
Gang vampires were a tricky bunch. They often traveled in groups, and more times than not, had two or more lookouts. Via glanced around the back alley in search of anything amiss, but was greeted with nothing. Turning back to the group assembling before her, she noted their clothing; the red and gold shirts of the vamp-bangers told Via two things. First, they were not generals in the gang, but mere henchmen. And second, they were stupid as fuck, as this was their rival’s territory. She’d had many encounters with both gangs, on account of them liking to kidnap and rape women; enjoying their screams as she gutted them like a fish with her queb.
The sound of glass shattering pulled her out of her thoughts. Now would be the time Via should pull her cell from her pocket and dial up her dhampir partner, Echo. Her stomach roiled at the thought, and though Austin believed it a good idea to partner a human with a trusted dhampir, Via wasn’t feeling the love. Using the excuse of having her hands full, she didn’t make the call and inched closer to the opening leading out to the main street. She darted across the street and damn near ninja dove into the window. Once she cleared the glass and debris, she smoothly rolled under the nearest table for cover.
Via was no fool, with vamps’ excellent hearing and sniffers, they’d easily discover her in the café, but she was banking on one thing to help her out. She took a quick peek at the bottom of her queb for reassurance. The stake-like rod was thick as a baton, the tip sharp as a razor’s edge, and it gave a faint glow from the rune placed on it by an enchantress. This particular rune obliterated Via’s human scent. A handy tool when hiding from vamps.
Like with any mission, sanctioned or unsanctioned, Via had a plan: attack, kill, and repeat, until all vamps were dead. Ordinarily, Echo had point and took out the lookouts. His superior vision and hearing had often given him and Via an advantage, but since he wasn’t with her, it’d be like old times.
Vamp number one, who she’d decided to call Lefty, since he was missing his right eye, slid to a halt in front of the broken window. Ambient light from the streetlights filtered into the small café, creating shadows across Lefty’s perplexed face. Via inched her gun up—loaded with silver nitrate bullets—and readied her queb just as the pale faced vamp turned. The first shot rang out like an explosion in the night. Seared flesh, blood, and pieces of Lefty’s remaining eye showered around Via.
Standing to take care of the second vamp sliding around the corner, she lost her balance in the blood and fell to the floor. In a second, she made the choice to drop the queb, and aim the weapon. To her surprise, instead of one vampire, there were now three. These were more than some run-of-the-mill gangbangers, breaking and entering. The one she’d aptly named Blue, for his intense electric blue eyes, held a few boxes in his hand, and not one of them had made their way to the cash register, or the wall safe.
Blue’s eyes widened at the sight of her. “Hey, baby.” His voice held a sickening slimy quality. He handed the boxes to Tyson, who she’d named Mike Tyson since they both had those stupid matching face tattoos. “Did you come to play?” Licking his lips, his eyes did a perusal of her body, taking time to linger on her breasts.
Slowly, Via stood and placed her empty hand on her hip while keeping her gun aimed. “Stop, in the name of the law.” None of the vamps spoke. The silence filled the room and Via tensed. Okay, so these guys didn’t like her joke.
The three vamps, Blue, Tyson and Shit Eater—no explanation for nickname needed—stared at her longer, before there was a blur of movement, and one of the three stooges knocked the gun from her hands. Next came a gut-crushing blow to her stomach. Bile rose in her throat as she hit the ground.
If Via lived to tell this story, she would say that in seconds she was up again ready and raring to take on the vamps—which would be a lie. Those who had called her hardheaded would be happy to know that too was a lie because as her skull hit the floor with a deafening crack. Via’s body refused to listen to her command to get the fuck up. Even with skill such as Via’s, taking on three vamps in the middle of the night, with no damned back up, was something akin to suicide.


And here she is. . .

Inger Iversen was born in 1982 to Anne and Kaii Iversen. She lives in Virginia Beach with her overweight lap cat, Max and her tree hugging boyfriend Joshua. She spends 90 percent of her time in Barnes and Noble and the other ten pretending not to want to be in Barnes and Noble.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Children Picture Books by Lisa Marie Schinski with Giveaway

BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for two charming books by Lisa Marie Schinski, That'th what I thaid! & The Sore Prickly Bear. The blast will run March 28-30, 2016.

The Sore Prickly Bear

by Lisa Marie Schinski
Children's Picture Book
30 pages

Fuzzy has a very bad day that keeps getting worse. He is faced with many challenges and doesn't understand why these things are happening to him. Everyone has had a bad day, week, month or even years. He will make you laugh because everyone can relate to Fuzzy in some way. Things always have a way of working out in the end and sometimes even better than it was before!

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble

That'th what I thaid!
R's and S's

by Lisa Marie Schinski
Illustratored by Lauren Panco
 Children's Picture Book
32 pages

Stitchie is a happy bunny that is having a hard time saying her R's and S's. She thinks her friends are making fun of her but they just laugh because they think it sounds funny. They love Stitchie, and in the end, Stitchie practices and meets the best teacher who helps her says her R's and S's perfectly. She runs into the woods to share with her friends how far she has come!!

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble

About the Author. . .
Lisa Marie Schinski!!!

I was born and raised in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. I currently reside in King of Prussia. I wrote the story about the Sore Prickly Bear when I was 8 years old. My teacher, Mrs. Ulrich encouraged me to write and also gave me the young author's award. I found this book after my mom passed away last year. I had a great childhood but when I wrote this book, my parents got divorced, we moved and I changed schools. A lot of changes for an 8 year old. So I guess I felt like Fuzzy.

Around October 2015, I took the book into work to show my friends because this past year and a half has been very hard for me and my family. I knew when I showed my friends, they would laugh and cry because my life was again Fuzzy's. My friends, Denice, Dee, Candace, Rick, Gina, Tara, Nancy, Tamara and Gina encouraged me to publish this book. So here I am!

I am now 46 years old. I have a great job, great friends, and great family. But there are still days that feel very bad and very unfair.

My goal for publishing this book is to help children understand that bad things happen and bad days happen. But when we have friends and family in our life to help us laugh at ourselves, we can heal and move forward. Everyone has a bad day, week, month or even years. My dream is to share this story for children to know they are not alone and everyone has a bad day.

I am so grateful for my family and friends.

"That'th what I thaid" was published in February 2016. Lauren Panco inspired me to write this story. It is for children who have a hard time with their R's and S's. I think many of us have! I want children to know it's ok to sound different and with practice, it changes. Don't let anyone make fun of you. We are all perfect the way we are!
Website ~ Twitter ~ Etsy ~ LinkedIn

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Flying Away by Caroline A. Gill with Giveaway

The Flykeeper Chronicles, Book 1
by Caroline A. Gill
St. Helena Press
YA Paranormal
204 pages

When Iolani Bearse was five years old, she lost her father to war. When she was nine, her mother died in a freak car accident. When Lani was fourteen, eerie green lights invaded, tearing her from the only home she had left.
Living as a runaway, dragging a horse and her cousin Eleanor across the countryside, Lani must learn to survive. Now Lani is the only person between the horrible, greedy lights and the last bit of family she has left. Her own heart is barely beating, but powerful memories pull her to Malcolm St. John. She fights what she feels, buried deep within her shattered soul.
Malcolm St. John always held his feelings in, especially about Iolani. So when she shows up on his doorstep, desperate and determined, Mal must decide if the wild tales she spins are the fragments of insanity or the last hope for a dying nation. This Lani is different from the child he knew. Something is coming for her, for him, and will not be stopped
If the cousins and Malcolm can’t escape the grasping hunters who hound them, the future of a broken America will be destroyed. Everything Lani has ever loved will burn with them. Somehow, she must find a path through friendship and loyalty to save them all.


This is a book full of subtle magic and depth, which slowly sinks its hooks and leads to a fantastic world.

Iolani is a fourteen-year-old girl who has suffered much loss in her life, and within the beginning pages, tragedy hits again. The writing is very descriptive and sinks into the depths of Iolani's mind. When the opening pages have her following her cousin blindly into a forest under very strange circumstances, the read feels as if the world around is fogged and unclear. Mystery and uncertainty flood the first pages, making it difficult to understand exactly what's going on, but the horror of it all is palpable. It's during this time which Iolani's unusual talent to converse with flies becomes clear, although it's something she doesn't understand completely herself.

The writing has a literary feel, and first gains on action toward the second half of the book. The beginning chapters have little dialogue and concentrate on the thoughts and feelings of Iolani as she trudges across the country on horseback with her dazed cousin, trying to steer clear of the evil green light. The character depth is well done but the pacing isn't for action fans.

Still, the plot grabs in a subtle way and draws in. About halfway through, the action speeds up and enters a whole new level as if the story takes a flip. Not only does Iolani's own talent explode into new dimensions, but the secrets behind the green light lead to a large scale conspiracy. Iolani can't trust anyone and finds herself in all sorts of danger. The tension mounts as more layers are added to the plot, creating a much faster pace and more fantastical adventure as the story goes on. The ending rounds most things off, insuring this can be read as a stand alone. However, several things are left unclear, especially the reasoning behind Iolani's as well as her opposition's strange abilities. There's mention of magic, but hints at more scientific explanations as well. And this lack of a basis did make some of it a little hard to accept. 

Summed up, this book adds an interesting twist to stories about people with special talents. It isn't fast paced at first, but takes time to delve into the main character while later mounting the action. I recommend this for YA Paranormal fans who love to get to know their characters and enjoy a dash of romance along with a bit of fantastical conspiracy.

And here she is. . .

Unusual stories attract me, ones in which the reader cannot easily see the ending or most of the journey. Visiting Rome during university studies, I found a simple truth sitting on buses, traveling all over the ancient city: the joy is in the Journey, in the people I meet, not in the destination. So, I write for you. I write for sanity. I write for chocolate and really good pizza.

You can find out more about her. . .


Cover Reveal: Blackmailed by A. Gorman

Their Sins #1.5
By- A. Gorman
Genre- (upper YA) Romantic Suspense
Expected Publication Date- April 19th

Chet Boston has everything he wants—except love.
Raised as an affluent only child, Chet used his popularity and status to his advantage. While attending Indiana University Bloomington, he falls into the party scene. His drugs of choice? Alcohol, cocaine—and women. He is honest with his agenda. That way no one gets hurt, and he gets what he wants.
His playboy lifestyle comes to an end when he meets Alexis Cross.
Although he enjoys his revolving door of women, when he meets Alexis at a charity dinner, all of that changes. But when she leaves him for a co-worker in California, he trashes any future possibility for romance and vows to get on with his life.
Blood is thicker than water—or so they say.
When Chet discovers he has an older half-sister, Chantelle, life changes yet again. She wasn’t raised with his silver spoon, and it soon becomes clear she is after one thing—money.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Excerpt: Deviations by Anma Natsu with Giveaway

by Anma Natsu
Zenbi Press
YA Romance
304 pages

“We’re just deviants, that’s all. You, me, Taka. We’re deliciously, wonderfully deviant.”

Seventeen-year-old Miho has spent years struggling to deal with the aftermath of a tragic accident. Between the nightmares, PTSD, depression, and her parents’ abandonment, the burden of being the sole survivor has her near her breaking point. The darkness whispers to her, promises of release from the pain, from being a burden, if she is willing to give up.
While the girls love classmate Shinji’s blond hair and blue eyes, to his father it’s all the proof he needs that his wife was unfaithful. Unwanted and unloved, Shinji is used to his mother’s hatred, his brother’s indifference, and his father’s violence. Male or female, he doesn’t care; his regular string of sexual partners helps him temporarily forget that he will soon have to leave the only person he loves, if he can survive that long.
As the first-born son, Shinji’s best friend Taka has known from birth that his future was not his own. He’ll go to the right schools, get the right grades, take over the family business, and produce a perfect heir with a perfect wife, just as his father dictates. Taka’s wants and desires are irrelevant; he can’t change his fate nor escape it, any more than he can protect the only person who keeps him sane.
Drawn to one another like moths to a flame, the three find themselves torn between what society deems acceptable and a happiness they never dreamed existed.

**On sale for $2.99 until April 1st only!**

Are you a reviewer?
You can request a review copy of Deviations here!


I forced myself to my feet to walk the last few blocks home.  In the genkan lay a pair of black high heels, right in the spot I always put my sneakers.  Though annoyed at my routine being disturbed, I pushed the shoes aside, knowing they meant she was home.  I straightened her shoes for her before leaving mine in their usual spot and headed inside.
Tadaima.”  As usual she didn’t answer.  Not like I expected this time to be any different, but I had to try.
Considering how wet I was, I should have gone straight to the laundry room to strip, but I wanted to see her.  Even knowing how much it would hurt and that I wouldn’t get what I needed, I really just wanted my mom right then.
I found her standing in the kitchen, looking out the apartment window at the sun setting over the horizon.  “Mama?”
“Oh, Miho.  You’re home.”  She looked in my general direction, her brown eyes as dull and lifeless as her too-thin body.  My moment of happiness at her coming back faded as I looked at my once beautiful mom not even pretending to care that I was there.  Her voice was the same as it had been for years now.  Tired.  Drained.  Another thing I ruined.  I killed her.  Her and my once loving, patient dad.
I try to be a good daughter who never complains, not about my problems, not about my fears, and not about being alone for most of the last three years.  But no matter how much I try, I can’t seem to bring them back, not even a little.  If only they’d never had to see my twisted body, maybe they wouldn’t have broken.  They’d stayed with me through all the skin grafts, the months in the hospital, the loss of my sanity.  They helped me survive it all, but at the cost of any love they’d once had for me.  My hideousness had been too much to bear for such pretty, perfect-looking people.
The mom in my memories would have fussed at me for standing there soaking wet.  She’d have grabbed a towel and started drying my hair while chiding me for not having an umbrella.  She’d have run a nice warm bath for me and had hot chocolate and cookies waiting in the living room.  The shell of a woman standing in front of me never even noticed the puddle forming at my feet.

And yet, for all that my parents hated me, I kept trying; another way of atoning, another way to punish myself.

And here she is . . .
Anma Natsu is a Texas-based writer of stories that explore love in its various forms, including how it can be both good and bad parts of our lives, sometimes at the same time. Her not quite conventional stories span a range of genres but rarely follow the standard fare.
When she isn't writing, writing, voraciously reading manga and light novels, playing too many video games, and hosting her own podcast, Anma works as a web developer and steals all the free time she can to snuggle with her sweetie and her pets.
You can find her online at She's also active on Facebook, Google+, and Goodreads.
Find out about Anma's upcoming works and get exclusive content by signing up for her mailing list at


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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Excerpt: The Silent Violent Few: Noir by Grayer Vaughan's

The Silent Violent Few: Noir
The Silent Violent Few # 3
by Grayer Vaughan
YA Romance

"How will he still want me once he finds out what I've done?"
Alabama Crowne thought she had finally secured her freedom when the life she was destined to live came to a halt. Despite everything she left behind, there was one constant she would never be rid of as death claimed who she was in order to become who she was meant to be all along:  Cash Zachary Calloway.

 Leaving one life to create another didn't seem so bad until Finn Haines, the man she thought she knew, begins to become unhinged when secrets, lies and betrayal tempt them both into an epic end game of "name that Submissive".

Thinking she chose the right Calloway, Alabama takes a chance to build a life worth living as she is set to give birth to the next Calloway heir until facts about Finn's past lead her down a dangerous path filled with devious deviants of epic proportions.  

Unsure of who the father of her unborn child is, Alabama begins to struggle with her sanity, keeping her pregnancy hidden while she soon realizes that the only way out of the mess she created might be to return to the life she left behind as visions of her dead best friend Frankie lead her down a dangerous path of becoming the one thing she never thought she would: Mrs. Calloway.

Will the darkness she created claim the life she must live to be free or will her static inspiration become the dominant Noir she will need to save her from the violent death Goddess has planned?


I want to believe my world didn’t end when the flame that warmed me most is gone. The second gun shot felt like it ricochet off my broken soul as I sat in the van chained like some destitute Calloway dipped prey. Every breath was a struggle once my mind tried to convince my heart he was truly gone. I hated that his position was out of my view.
That Psychopath shot him twice.

He couldn’t still be alive.

Why didn’t I just put the bag on quicker?

Now I am the reason he could be gone.

Moving slowly as I tried not to rattle my chains, I talked myself down off the ledge. Peering into the side mirrors, I breathed deeply embracing what was left of my future which now featured the picturesque vision of two bodies lying prone. The image of their demise sent a terrifying shock into what was left of my body.

There was my Sun, stoic and unmoving.

Waiting to hear any movement, I silently prayed for Cash. I was sorry that this is where my lie took him. I was sorry for Frankie and for my choices, but most of all, I was sorry I didn’t die the first time.

I could taste the static of Grey in between each vow of silence my heart continuously made trying to keep me in one piece. It felt like a comforting sea of Calloway wrapping its expensive hands around my neck, and I was feeding off the burn. Deep down, I was begging for the grip to get tighter, becoming more and more intoxicated by the thought of freedom.

That was the second I realized who I currently am isn’t the person I used to be.

In this moment, his love for me was truly about to get me killed.

If I was going to die right here, I would accept whatever came at me.

I fought back the tears that wanted to over take me by keeping them held deep inside as Cash covered moments kissed my mind into a tranquil state. He was what my soul will always crave.

Embracing the tortured thoughts of his demise, I could honestly say I knew what it was to be truly loved. He threw himself in front of her for me. He loved me beyond what our situations would allow. I adored him completely with a pure heart and every inch of my bruised soul. He became an addiction that I will never outgrow. He was apart of everything I will always be for lifetimes to come. I was sure we’d touch the sky and live intoxicated on each others drug since the day his silverish-blue eyes met mine. Our children would go on to live and tell the world of how their parents knew what it truly meant to unconditionally love each other.

He was a cause I could die for, but the Crowne in me would never let me die in vain. I had too much to live for, even if it meant dying trying.

Thinking about what Cash loved about me most, I smirked his trademark devious smile remembering when he challenged all that I am to make a daring choice to embrace all that he was as he stood behind the blue door.

I never have been a weak soul. I am stronger because I have survived Calloway Hell and lived to tell what death does to someone like me.

This was not my swan song moment.

I had come too far to allow another psychotic Calloway addict to end me.

When the silence went undisturbed, I uncovered my head as my hands began to tremble. Gathering enough nerve to save myself, I silently searched the bag the woman Cash called miniskirt had shoved in the compartment behind the driver’s seat.

Switching my view rapidly between the contents of the bag and the mirror view, I searched for anything that would unlock the chains I sat it.

Finding a bobby pin, I let out a small victory gasp as I began to bend it. Feeling a hand grab my shoulders while another hand covered my mouth, I jumped back while my adrenaline filled soul left my body.

“Alabama, it’s me,” Noah whispers, staring at me in shock while he removed the hood covering his head.

Sadie, the girl Cash once sent away, ducked behind Noah acting as a look out while he carefully got into the van.

“I’m gonna remove my hand. Don’t scream,” Noah instructs, staring straight into my eyes.

Nodding my head, Noah removes his hand and takes a key out of his wallet. When I released a surprised look towards him, Noah smirked at my expression while carefully removing my chain without making a sound.

“It’s a Calloway thing,” he whispers, glancing at the mirror when I scowl towards Sadie. “I am glad you are alive. Don’t be so concerned with Sadie. We will get to that later. Cash needs our help.”

I was never more grateful for the innocent nature of Noah Calloway.

“This is gonna hurt like Hell but, we need it. Don’t make a sound,” Noah adds, nodding to Sadie quickly.

Sadie quickly jumps into the van, shoving her fingertips into my open bullet wound and squeezed until my blood submerged her hand. Gripping my eyes shut tightly, I growled and sucked in gasps of air as Noah quickly placed his hand tightly over my mouth. Sadie removed her bloody hand and smothered it against her skin in the same places I was bleeding. Nodding to Noah while I closed my eyes and began to shake, he removed his hand and continued helping Sadie.

Not missing a beat, Sadie quickly pulls the bag in place over her head before allowing Noah to secure the chains to her wrists.

I was floored and unbelievably humbled. This woman who hated me for taking Cash from her a year ago is now putting herself in harm’s way to save my pathetic lie of a life.

If that doesn’t say Calloway dedication, I don’t know what would.

Careful. You are bleeding a bit more now. Let me help you down,” Noah insists, lifting me off the van. “Can you walk?”

When I nod, Noah places his hand in mine and continues to look around before moving.

“Follow me,” he breathes, quickly moving from the side of the van towards a close row of tall hedges.

Following Noah into the bushes beside Cash’s rental place, he guarded me cautiously as if I would break. The adrenaline pumping in my veins made me feel invincible.

Did I really look that bad?

Placing his finger to his lips, Noah ducked me down beside him against the side of the house as he points to Skirtka standing up when she moves Cash off her. Rushing into the van, Skirtka slams the door before jumping into the driver’s seat. Seeing her pull on the chains that now held Sadie into place, Skirtka turns quickly to start the van and peel out of the driveway in the opposite direction with the rear doors swinging left to right.

“Thank you, Noah. Is he dead?” I whisper, following Noah into Cash’s home through the broken window.

When I begin to limp, Noah takes me into his arms.

“Who really knows who remains dead lately? I’d say you’ve lived to tell the tale. I don’t know what is going on exactly, just as I didn’t know you’d be the one I was saving. I do know Cash needs you to survive. I am glad you are alive,” he replies, carrying me into the bathroom. “You’re my favorite.”

Glancing at Noah in that moment, I was certainly grateful to be his favorite.

“I cherish you as well, Noah. Thank you for rescuing me, but what about Sadie? We can’t just leave her with that Psycho,” I say, placing my hand over the wound Sadie and her greedy fingers helped herself to in order to apply pressure.

Setting me down gently, Noah reached under the back of the sink to retrieve a loaded glock 1911.

“I’m gonna make sure the coast is clear and get to Cash. Don’t leave. There should be a first aid kit in the cabinet there. Cash always stashes his guns and medical kits when he enters a place to stay. That crazy lady used to be a Doctor. Isn’t that insane? She’s the one who restocks his kits. Believe it or not, she helped put Cash back together a few times, so there should be something to deal with major wounds and stuff. Least that’s what I heard,” he insists, checking the chamber of the gun.

“I can’t let you go alone,” I manage, feeling the emotions surge through me.

My eyes filled with tears as I turned my face from view. I had gotten far enough without Calloway filled tears. I didn’t need the purest Calloway seeing my weak moment.

“I can handle it. I’m a Calloway,” Noah advised, squeezing my shoulder in a gesture of concern.

“So am I as my luck would have it,” I counter, trying to stand up.

“You are hurt. Stay here,” he growls, walking quickly out of the room.

There was something about those Calloway boys. No matter what they were up against, they remained confident in their stance to the last minute.

Taking in the appearance of Cash’s bathroom, I couldn’t help but wonder who has been in this place. Who was holding him when my weakened arms no longer did? Who tried to love him past the pain that burned him from beyond my grave? Who has he shared his space with?

I know he couldn’t have been alone here.

Calloways don’t do alone.

Even Meryl had her side flings.

There had to be a group of thoroughly roughed up Submissives who remember every detail his smooth skin had to offer. I couldn’t help the anger that was churning in my stomach. Closing my eyes, I saw a vision of another woman’s hands caressing Cash’s golden torso in each place my lips had once blessed. Each inch of skin they touched made me want to burn each one alive for even having the audacity to touch him.

I now understood how he felt.

He was always mine even when he wasn’t.

They all needed to know that. They were just apart of his false illusion to recreate the ghost of me.

Cash belonged to me. He was mine completely.

That was my false illusion.

No man can control fire.