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Monday, December 11, 2017

Blog Tour- UNDONE by Wendy Higgins An Excerpt & Giveaway!

   

I am thrilled to have a stop on Wendy's blog tour for UNKNOWN! I beta read this series for Wendy and I am so happy it's out in the world for you all to read! This is hands down one of my favorite series that Wendy has written! I have an exclusive excerpt to share with you all today so check that out & enter the giveaway below!

From New York Times and USA Today bestseller Wendy Higgins comes a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America brought to life and entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more. UNDONE, the stunning conclusion in the Unknown Trilogy is now available! Grab your copies of the Unknown Trilogy today!

   

About UNKNOWN (Unknown Trilogy #1):

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.


When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.


In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

   

Amazon Amazon Paperback Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo

About UNREST (Unknown Trilogy #2):

Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.


Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities...lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can't escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.


In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy's identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

   

Amazon Amazon Paperback Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo

   

About UNDONE (Unknown Trilogy #3):

Amber Tate never dreamed their heart-wrenching escape from the enemy’s attack would lead them to the most beautiful place she’s ever seen. Like everywhere else in the world, Elmendorf military base in Alaska has been taken over, but it’s time to take it back—all of it—one base, one city at a time. After losing so much, Amber clings to the one precious person she has left, and vows to sacrifice everything to help save the Earth.


Remy Haines is a lover, not a fighter, so when she finds herself in enemy territory, expected to feign allegiance while gathering intel for the rebel cause, she’s never been more out of her element. Tensions only increase when her feelings for Jacob “Tater” Tate won’t go away, and the enemy’s leader takes an interest in her. She’s torn between what her heart wants, and what she knows she should do. As for what her body needs…well, it’s always had a mind of its own.

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          EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:

It took half a minute for Rylen to open the door. He was in boxers. That’s it. And it did nothing to slow my heart or breathing. I tore my eyes up from his waistline, over the pepper tattoo on his pec, and to his face.
          
“Hey, Pep.” He shifted to the side. “You okay? Let me justuh He glanced behind him and the absolute worst thought struck me.
          
“Are you alone?” I whispered.
          
“Yeah.” He cocked his head at the fear in my voice. “I’m just gonna grab some pants. Come on in.” Oh, thank God.
          
I put my hand on the door but gave him a second to go inside. When I went in, he was stepping into track pants. I leaned against the wall, more nervous than I’d ever been, as he sat on the edge of the bed, legs wide, and gazed up at me.
          
“What’s up?” he asked. He sounded tired.
          
Say it. Say something. “I know it’s not my place to say this, butI think you should be careful of Linette.
          
He grasped the back of his neck and stared at the floor. “Nothing is going on with us
          
“I know.” I rubbed my face. Every word I’d planned to say sprinted out of my mind and left me standing there completely empty headed. Awkward, expectant silence stretched between us.
          
“I don’t think she understands or respects where you’re at, and what you need.”
           
He looked at me then, with such suffering in his gaze, and asked, “Where am I, Pepper? What do I need?”
          
The anguish there made me nearly slide to the floor. I closed my eyes against the wave of emotions and forced myself to speak.
          
“I think you’re hurting and you need time.”
          
His eyes dropped to the floor again, silent. Was I wrong? Was Linette right, that he needed her affections to help him heal?
          
No, damn it! I could not stand the thought of her ever touching him again like she’d done tonight. I was going to comfort him my own damn self. I took shaky steps forward until I stood between his knees. I saw his shoulders hitch with an intake of air, but he didn’t raise his head. I moved forward until his forehead was pressing against my stomach. Then I slid my hands around the back of his head and held him there.
          
Before I could be self-conscious or wonder if I was forcing affection on him, his arms went around my back and pulled me closer, his face pressing against my abdomen. I felt his warm breaths through the cotton of my shirt as we held one another in the most tender moment I’d ever experienced with him. I knew in the way he pressed into me, pulling me tighter, his fingers rubbing into my skin through the shirt, that this was exactly what he needed.
          
I held him, and held him longer, and felt him, and though it might not have been sexual to him, it was the most sensual moment of my life. My entire body went taut and heated at the feel of his hands on my back. His face pressed to me. My hands in his hair.
          
Footsteps and voices coming up the hall shattered the delicate moment. I moved away from him at the sound of the door unlocking with a click. New York Josh was talking loudly about the Yankee’s baseball record; apparently Tater had tried to bust his balls. They both stopped and shut up when they saw usRylen still sitting on the edge of the bed, and me now standing a couple feet away.
          
Josh hitched a thumb over his shoulder. “You need us to find another room?”
          
“What?” Rylen said. “Man, shut the fuck up.”
          
“All right.” Josh winked at me. “My bad.”
          
Tater looked between the two of us.

“I was just leaving,” I said. “Good night.” I gave them an awkward wave and shot a glance at Rylen as I turned to leave. His elbows rested on his knees, watching me go, the heat of his gaze steaming me from the inside out.

       


About Wendy Higgins: Wendy Higgins is a soccer mom and backstage drama mama. Most people in her tiny bayside town don’t know she’s a USA Today and NYT bestselling author of paranormal, fantasy, and science-fiction romances. Wendy is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time in her pajamas, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue. Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University.      

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | UNKNOWN Goodreads | UNREST Goodreads | UNDONE Goodreads | Wendy Higgins Goodreads

       

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wendy Higgins’s Unknown Trilogy Series Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
December 6th
Candace Reads – Review & Excerpt
Literary Dust – Review
Once Upon a Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
The Lovely Books – Review & Excerpt
December 7th
By Valia Lind – Review & Excerpt
Ficwishes – Excerpt
Mes Livres – Review
T & G Book Boutique – Review
YA Fantasy Worlds – Review & Excerpt
December 8th
Nice Ladies, Naughty Books – Review & Excerpt
Sister Sister Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Taylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Review & Excerpt
December 9th
Amy’s Review Obsession – Review & Excerpt
KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt
Rad Babes Read – Review
December 10th
Ceres Books World – Review
Julalicious Book Paradise – Review & Excerpt
December 11th
Lovely reads publishing – Review & Excerpt
Nerdy Soul – Review & Excerpt
Two Chicks on Books – Excerpt
Words We Love By – Excerpt
December 12th
Binding Addiction – Excerpt
For The Love of Fictional Worlds – Review & Excerpt
Moonlighting Scrivener – Review & Excerpt
Reese's Reviews – Review & Excerpt
December 13th
Book Reader Chronicles – Review & Excerpt
Jen in Bookland – Excerpt
Milky Way of Books – Review
The Book Maven – Review
December 14th
Books Make Me Happy – Excerpt
Ms. Me28 – Review & Excerpt
December 15th
Novelgrounds – Review
PBC – Excerpt
Sharing Inspired Kreations – Review & Excerpt
The Butterfly Reader – Review & Excerpt



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Release Day Blitz- UNDONE by Wendy Higgins With An Excerpt & Giveaway!

   

I am super stoked that UNDONE is finally out in the world! I beta read this amazing series for Wendy and I can say that this might be one of the best finales to a series that I've read! I can't wait for you all to read it!!!

From New York Times and USA Today bestseller Wendy Higgins comes a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America brought to life and entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more. UNDONE, the stunning conclusion in the Unknown Trilogy is now available! Don’t miss the fantastic excerpt below and grab your copies today!

   

About UNDONE (Unknown Trilogy #3):

Amber Tate never dreamed their heart-wrenching escape from the enemy’s attack would lead them to the most beautiful place she’s ever seen. Like everywhere else in the world, Elmendorf military base in Alaska has been taken over, but it’s time to take it back—all of it—one base, one city at a time. After losing so much, Amber clings to the one precious person she has left, and vows to sacrifice everything to help save the Earth.

Remy Haines is a lover, not a fighter, so when she finds herself in enemy territory, expected to feign allegiance while gathering intel for the rebel cause, she’s never been more out of her element. Tensions only increase when her feelings for Jacob “Tater” Tate won’t go away, and the enemy’s leader takes an interest in her. She’s torn between what her heart wants, and what she knows she should do. As for what her body needs…well, it’s always had a mind of its own.

   

Amazon Kobo Barnes & Noble iBooks

    EXCERPT: 

Did he ever think of our night together in the tent? 

I did. 

Without a doubt, I’d been tipsy, but I remembered everything. For so many years there was tension between us. It started as annoyance, my best friend’s older brother who always acted like a douche. Then, after he joined the Army and came back to visit, it was like he’d matured just enough to lose that obnoxious edge and I realized for the first time how sexy he was. I wanted him. Back then, pursuing guys had been my vice, but I knew Amber might be weirded out by it. 

When I thought back to that night at the nature reserve…it was really our last night of true freedom and happiness. It’s strange to think we were happy, especially since our parents had been taken prisoners at that point, and we’d watched his grandfather be killed, but we still had hope. We thought we’d get our parents back. We didn’t have any idea just how horrible things were. Or that aliens were real. 

I rubbed the prickly hairs on my arms down and took another bite. I didn’t want to think about that night in the tent. The sound of Tater’s laughter. His wide smile. The way the neck of my loose shirt had slid down while I was arranging my sleeping bag and laughing drunkenly. His warm mouth as he kissed me on my exposed shoulder…when I turned to him, Tater had never looked more serious. It had been a look of question, like, “Is this all right?” And I’d responded by sliding my hand behind his neck and pulling him down on top of me. 

Now he never smiled or laughed. 

“How are things in the fields?” I asked him. 

Tater gave a single shrug, not looking up or saying a word. “If you’re wondering,” Linette said with spite, “Things are amazing with the livestock. I can fill a bucket with milk in record time, and helped a mama swine birth seven piglets yesterday. I’m a regular fucking Farmer Jane.” 

Before I could respond, Tater whispered, “I need you to get us a radio.” 

Our end of the table went silent and still. I glanced at the guards, who were surveying the room with bland expressions, then I forced another bite into my mouth. When I looked up again, Linette had that crazed look in her eyes, staring straight ahead. Her strategizing look.  

“Are there cameras in the room where you teach?” she asked. 

“I don’t know,” I whispered. 

“How can you not know?” she asked, annoyed. “Look today.” 

“Okay, but there’s no way I can take anything. I’m never alone.” 

“The guards cannot be staring at you the entire time.” Linette nodded to the bag at my side. “Slip it in there.” 

“Remy,” Tater said to his bowl. “If you can get your hands on anything electronic, we can try to use it at night to send or receive signals, and you can return it in the morning.” 

My stomach was roiling at the idea. There’s a reason I didn’t join the military. Stealth and danger were not my things. But I was the only one with access to the palace. 

“I’ll look,” I promised. 

“Have you been alone with him yet?” Linette asked. 

My innards seized at this, churning my breakfast. I felt both of their eyes on me as I stared at the pasty contents in my bowl and minutely shook my head. 

“Make it happen,” she demanded. 

From the corner of my eye it looked like Tater was holding his spoon so hard he might bend it in his fist. I reached out with my leg as far as I could under the table until my foot touched his. The contact, even through our shoes, sent blood whooshing to every nerve in my body. I watched as his hand relaxed on the spoon, and he pressed his foot to mine. Our eyes never met. We were quiet as we finished. 

“Did Remy tell you her fantastically stupid idea to try and teach the girls in our room after hours?” 

Tater’s eyes flew up to me, scorching me, and I looked at the guard again. When I found one of them staring straight at me, my demeanor changed to demure and I gave the guard a soft smile before looking back down. From the corner of my eye I saw Tater’s hands clench into fists again, and he brought them under the table to his lap. 

“Rem…” Tater’s voice was filled with warning. 

“It’s fine,” I whispered, grabbing my tray and standing. “Don’t worry.” 

I wished Linette hadn’t told him that. As if he didn’t have enough crap on his mind. I sent her a glare, which she returned, and I caught one last look of Tater’s stiff form, hands in his lap, knee bouncing and jaw locked. I wished so badly I could hug him and try to calm him. But all I could do was walk away. 


        

And Don’t Miss the First Two Novels in the Unknown Trilogy!

 

About UNKNOWN (Unknown Trilogy #1):

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

   

Amazon Amazon Paperback Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo

About UNREST (Unknown Trilogy #2):

Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.

Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities...lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can't escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.

In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy's identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

   

Amazon Amazon Paperback Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo

 
About Wendy Higgins: 
Wendy Higgins is a soccer mom and backstage drama mama. Most people in her tiny bayside town don’t know she’s a USA Today and NYT bestselling author of paranormal, fantasy, and science-fiction romances. Wendy is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time in her pajamas, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue. Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University.         

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | UNKNOWN GoodreadsUNREST Goodreads | UNDONE Goodreads | Wendy Higgins Goodreads

       

Monday, December 4, 2017

Release Day Blitz- EVER THE BRAVE by Erin Summerill With An Excerpt & Giveaway!


I am so excited that EVER THE BRAVE by Erin Summerill is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Erin Summerill, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a 3 finished copies of the book courtesy of Erin, HMH, Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.



About The Book:

Title: EVER THE BRAVE (Clash of Kingdoms #2)
Author: Erin Summerill
Pub. Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads
Ever the Divided. Ever the Feared. Ever the Brave.

After saving King Aodren with her newfound Channeler powers, Britta only wants to live a peaceful life in her childhood home. Unfortunately, saving the King has created a tether between them she cannot sever, no matter how much she'd like to, and now he's insisting on making her a noble lady. And there are those who want to use Britta’s power for evil designs. If Britta cannot find a way to harness her new magical ability, her life—as well as her country—may be lost.

The stakes are higher than ever in the sequel to Ever the Hunted, as Britta struggles to protect her kingdom and her heart.





About Book 1
Title: EVER THE HUNTED
Author: Erin Summerill
Pub. Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force. 



Excerpt:
The king and his men ride away into the Ever Woods.

Gillian sweeps in, face beaming. I want to shake her shoulders and erase that smile. I slam the door.

“You look murderous.” Gillian spins around, her skirts swishing against the stone.

“I am.”

A blink. “You don’t like the dresses?”

“Really? You’ve been living with me for a month.”

“Right. So they’re not your usual choice, but they’re variety. Something different form brown trousers.

“They’re for the Royal Winter Feast Ball. He wants to sprinkle royal dust on me and make me noble.”

Gillian presses her hands to her cheeks and pretends to swoon.

“Stop it,” I snap.

She flounces into the bedroom and lifts a rose dress from the bed. That grin. Seeds. She’s as mad as the King Aodren.

The pull to the king, still taut in my chest, halves my attention from her squealing prattle. I press my palm to my sternum. I’d give anything to be free of him. To be able to live in peace on Papa’s land. But I don’t know how to break the bond.

If Enat were still alive — the thought flattens me — she’d know what to do. She’d tell me how to free myself from King Aodren. He’s been gone for five minutes, and I can still pick out his location in the Ever Woods.

I pound my fist on the door. I have to figure out a way to rid myself of the bond. I have to.
Gillian jerks to a stop. “It’s not the end of the world.”

I start to respond, but an answering rush of something strange and shuddery slips under the surface of my skin. I lurch, cradling my suddenly clammy hand, eyeing Gillian, then the door with growing alarm. Unease spreads from the top of my head to my heels, a drop of poison fanning through a jar of ale.

I’ve felt this way before.

“What is it?” Gillian’s fists crinkle a rose-colored gown. Breath suddenly short, I yank the door open and stare deep into the Evers. The breeze’s icy fingers caress my face. There’s nothing to see, but something is very wrong.

“The king.”

About Erin:
Erin Summerill was born in England. After spending years bouncing between Air Force bases in Hawaii, England, and California, her family settled in Utah, where Erin graduated with a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. She had aspirations to write the next great American novel, but writing proved tougher than she first thought. So she grabbed a Nikon and became a professional photographer while crafting manuscript after manuscript. The scenic detour of shooting weddings across the United States, as well as internationally, provided world-building inspiration. It gave her the vision to draft her debut YA fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED. Now when she isn’t writing, or shooting a wedding, she’s chasing her four kids, two dogs, one cat, and five chickens. This could be why she downs massive amounts of Coke Zero and Hot tamales.



Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of EVER THE BRAVE, US Only.

Ends December 12th midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Debut Authors Bash Featuring Michael Miller A Deleted Scene and A Giveaway!



I am thrilled to be featuring Michael Miller today for the Debut Authors Bash! Michael co-wrote SHADOW RUN with Adrianne Strickland and I LOVED this sci-fi book so freaking much!!! I am dying to read the next one! I have an alternate POV scene to share with you today! 

Haven't heard of SHADOW RUN? Check it out!


Title: SHADOW RUN
Author: AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller 
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 400
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks
"Firefly" meets DUNE in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique. 

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary. 

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive. 

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew. 

“Readers will want to join Qole's crew.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The world-building is excellent, with a convincingly unique source of cosmic energy that has the potential for extraordinary power. The writing is accomplished; the plot, though familiar, has good twists; and the pace is appropriately fast.”—School & Library Journal


Now on to the post!

This is a scene from the point of view of Nev, one of our two main characters. AdriAnne and I alternate the chapters we write––she writes Qole’s chapters, and I write Nev’s. In this Chapter, Qole, her ship the Kaitan, and their runaway prince all stop at a space station on the fringes of what used to be Nev’s domain. It was a struggle to find a spot that doesn’t give away some major plot twists in the book, so you’re being dropped straight into the middle of the story!

I re-wrote this scene from Nev’s point of view because this was one of those spots where I always wished we could dwell––Basra, Qole’s trader, is so much more comfortable dealing with the daily realities of life than Nev is, and Qole is a nice middle ground to that. There is worldbuilding and character building to explore, all my favorite things! Many of the ‘deleted scene’s that I have scattered across the computer are like that; my opportunity to dwell on the world, their surroundings, and the characters in them. 

I hope you enjoy! 

“The darkness is… unsettling.” I couldn’t help but stare at the open edge of the docking bay, where the blackness was so complete it looked like paint. Space was dark, but not as dark as many thought. Most human activity happened around something––a planet, a moon, wreckage––that would create light. The stars themselves, in absence of anything else, could overwhelm.. But here, nestled up against a gas cloud so dense no light could get through, there was nothing. 

Qole, in the middle of heaving one crate onto another, paused with it balanced precariously on its edge. She used one hand to keep it there and the other to pull the hair out of her eyes. “I don’t mind the dark. Peaceful.” She tipped the crate the rest of the way and it settled with a thunk and rattle.  “I think you’re feeling the station.” 

I glanced around. The trading post Basra had taken us was old. I guessed that at some point in the past the construction had been smooth, seamless, gleaming white to offset the darkness around us, not the scoured gray disaster it was now. Not old, ancient.

Built in layers around a central column, rings upon rings stretched out of sight below and above us, each one representing another layer of the station, another realm of business. Some were brightly lit and somewhat maintained, like the one where we fueled up. Some were not.

I shuddered. “Dark place for dark business.”

“Dark place to hide from the shining light of authoritarianism.” Basra’s smooth voice came from right behind my ear. 

I suppressed an impromptu dance of surprise. “Would you stop doing that?” I glowered at the trader. With an unassuming slouch, dressed in black sweater and cargo pants, he almost disappeared into the surrounding station. Behind him, dock workers were bringing up fresh pallets of cargo, each container marked with completely innocuous product details.

“What are these, anyway?” I hoisted it up, making sure the dock workers weren’t in earshot. “I’m remarkably certain this isn’t where one purchases, ah,--I peered at the label--“Yip Yip the Everlasting Children’s Noise Maker.”

“That one, actually, is what it is. Banned on several worlds due to causing insomnia and uncontrollable rage.” Basra checked  it off on the infopad. “The rest… luxury goods that are restricted, synthetic drugs that are both too expensive and addictive for the wealthy to resist, stolen art, unregistered artefacts—that sort of thing.”

“Can we… not sell this stuff?” I grunted as I set it down, wondering how Qole made it look so easy. It was only a little annoying. “I probably helped put some of those protections in place, myself.”

“Would you like to be smuggled onto your own planet or not? Besides.” Basra checked off the final crates and headed into the Kaitan. “You expect the captain and myself to miss out on a profit because of your qualms? You chose your own mode of transport, Your Majesty.”

I winced. The final words were framed as a joke for anyone who might overhear, but I caught the subtext. I sighed and stared back out into the blackness. “I guess I did, when I started this mess. But now it’s less of a choice and more of a… the only way forward, I suppose. The only way that might help.”

Qole stood next to me, also surveying the darkness. It was where we were headed, in every way. I started when she put her hand on my shoulder and squeezed. “You can’t just be doing this to help us, you know. We’ll be fine.”

I felt my jaw tighten. “I don’t see how. I don’t see any other way.”

“It’s not always about having a way.” Qole’s hand dropped. I missed it. “When you don’t have much, it’s not about having an answer. It’s trying to find one. You need to make sure you’re doing this because it’s the right thing, not just because you want to shoulder everyone’s problems. We’ve been doing this for a long time Nev, and we’ve always found a way in the end.” 

I looked down at her. “I thought I was the positive one.”

A smile hinted at the corner of her eyes. “If telling you to keep looking for a way makes me the positive one, you need some sleep. Lets go.” She headed back up the ramp, and I stood staring into the darkness a moment longer. 

Maybe it is kind of peaceful.


I ran back up the ramp, and it hissed shut behind me. 



About Michael:
Raised off-grid in Alaska, where long winter nights were spent reading by kerosene lamp, he spent as much time in imaginary worlds as the real one. Weaned on Tolkien, Russian fairy tales and Laura Ingalls Wilder, he and his brother started scribbling adventures for a periodical newspaper to keep friends informed of life in the woods. The introduction of solar power and a Macbook changed everything - his writing, and his career. He now works as an Apple Consultant and web developer. He lives in Alaska with his fabulous wife, spending part of the winter being vagabonds elsewhere on the planet.

Thanks to an incredible co-author, AdriAnne Strickland and their inimitable agent Kirsten Carleton their book, Shadow Run, has been published by the talented Kate Sullivan at Delacorte. The sequel, Shadow Call, is due out in spring of 2018!
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