Books that live forever in your heart and dreams

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cover Reveal Shatter By Melissa Andrea

Title: Shatter
The Discover Series
Author: Melissa Andrea
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release: Early 2014

To survive you have to sacrifice.

To sacrifice you have to Shatter.

Author Info
I find it hard to sum up my life in a paragraph, but I'll try. Reading has always been a passion for me and writing is as instinctive as breathing. Every inhale is an idea; every exhale a creation. Flutter, The Discover Series was my debut release and since then I have written a contemporary romance, The Edge of Darkness. The only thing I do better than writing? Making beautiful, sassy and independent, girls. My daughter's will always be my greatest accomplishment, my biggest fans and my every inspiration. I live, breath and would die for them!

I've been married to one of the greatest men in my life for 7 years and I love him more than chocolate (you know shit just got real , Justin Timberlake and Friday's. Without him my website would be a mess and I would probably being paying more taxes than I should be. He is a jack of many trades and this is just my opinion but I like to think besides my daughters, I'm his second biggest accomplishment. (Does anyone else hear a horn tooting?)

I was born in Denver, Colorado -but I will always think of sunny Arizona as my home. I don't have a big family, but I'm close with my sister, brother & my mom. My mom is my hero, my inspiration, and I couldn't have asked for a more amazing person to be raised by. She has supported me throughout this crazy adventure and I'm lucky to have her on my side!

6 things you should know about me:
1. I'm a tornado with lipstick! Translation: I'm very girly, but I can get down and dirty with the best of them.
2. I adore the color pink!
3. I love things that sparkle (including vampires!)
4. I like even numbers (hence 6 things about me, not 5)
5. I'm loyal to a fault but I like to see the good in everybody. Don't mistake my kindness for weakness though because my bark is not always bigger than my bite :))
6. I don't like calling readers 'fans'. When it come down to it, I am all YOUR biggest fan! MWAH!

I will never be able to thank every reader, every blogger or every author who has helped me in one or a million ways since I published but I will try every chance I get. Y'all are the reason I am here and every comment, every message, every review makes me feel like I have a reason to be. So to the moon and back, THANK YOU! Okay, so this was a little longer than a paragraph. My stalker links all in one super easy spot.

Friday, November 29, 2013

"The Book of Phoenix series" by Kristie Cook Duel Cover Reveal.

It's a double-cover reveal (and a sale!) for author Kristie Cook's The Book of Phoenix series! The cover of The Space Between (Book 1) has been made-over, and we're sharing for the first-time ever, the title and cover for Book 2 (see below).


New Adult Paranormal Romance

First installment of the Book of Phoenix series.
When Life Falls to Pieces, Answers Lie in the Space Between

Leni Drago can't make a smart decision on her own, according to her mother anyway--the few times she's tried resulted in disaster. When her uncle sends her on a dance tour in Italy to find her real self, she returns to an empty home and any evidence of his existence wiped out. Then things get even stranger, like the mysterious appearances of Jeric Winters--inked, pierced and a hit-'em-and-quit-'em type. He's one decision that should be easy for Leni. Or is he?

Jeric doesn't do girlfriends. Unless they're someone else's. He left the fighting cage and modeling for a reason, and girls who want more than a night of fun are distractions he doesn't need. Especially when they come with as much baggage as Leni carries. But he can't shake the gut feeling that he needs to know her. All of her.

To discover the truth behind their connection and their ties to a journal from 1989, they must face painful secrets from their pasts. And they must do so quickly because their own existences are falling to pieces.

This first part of The Book of Phoenix takes you on a heart-wrenching ride as you discover the answers that lie in The Space Between.


(Working Description)

In this second installment of The Book of Phoenix series, Leni and Jeric are (re)learning their roles as the Phoenix Guardians and becoming the leaders they once were while taking on their first mission - guiding a Separated soul to the Gate. But that soul has her own issues, including supporting her sister and their deathly ill parent while dealing with an ex who doesn't want to be an ex anymore and a budding romance with a guy who could be her saving grace...or her fatal end. The last thing she needs right now is a couple of psychos trying to convince her that she'll never find her soul's other half except through them. What does that even mean, anyway? And why on Earth should she trust them when they don't even trust each other?

Coming Soon!  
To celebrate, The Space Between is on sale for only 99c through January 1,  


All Romance eReader

About Kristie Cook:
Kristie Cook is a lifelong, award-winning writer in various genres, from marketing communications to fantasy fiction. She continues to write the Soul Savers Series, a New Adult paranormal romance/contemporary fantasy, with the first four books, Promise, Purpose, Devotion, Power and Wrath available now. She’s also written a companion novella, Genesis: A Soul Savers Novella, currently available. Over 300,000 Soul Savers books have been sold, with Promise peaking at #54 on the Amazon Top 100 Paid list and at #1 in the Amazon Fantasy category.
The Space Between kicks off her second New Adult paranormal series, The Book of Phoenix.
Besides writing, Kristie enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and riding on the back of a motorcycle. She has lived in ten states, but currently calls Southwest Florida home with her husband, three teenage sons, a beagle and a puggle. She can be found at:

Author's Website & Blog:
UK Fan Site:
The Book of Phoenix Website:
Soul Savers Series Website:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My review of Whisper Cape by Susan Griscom

Escape to a world where the impossible becomes possible. WHISPER CAPE is a town of secrets and Addison MacKenna soon becomes tangled in a web of them. Plagued with nightmares of her father’s sudden and brutal death, Addie struggles with her anguish and refuses to believe his demise was accidental.
Fighting to shake off one of those devastating early morning nightmares, Addison finds it even harder to escape from the vision of a man lying on the side of the roada man she may have just killed. When she frantically tries to locate him, he seemingly disappears, just the beginning of strange occurrences in her life. She also cannot ignore the weird sensations in her own body. Suddenly, the impossible seems possible, but is that a blessing or a curse?
Believing that her continual and worsening nightmares are both the key to her own new abilities and the clue to her father’s death, Addie knows she will not rest until she has the answers she craves. As she strives to cope with her new remarkable talents, someone else learns of her abilitiesa disgruntled maniacal psychopath with his own agenda that involves eliminating Addie. The only one who can protect her, instruct her in the use of her powers and teach her how to destroy the murderous monster is the same man who makes Addie’s heart race and her blood heat with passion. The same man she’d left for dead. Cael Sheridan may be arrogant and mysterious but he's also undeniably gorgeous. A member of a secret society, he is sworn to protect the woman he believes to be the daughter of his recently murdered mentor. In the process, he finds it impossible to resist her magnetic sensuality, complicating his efforts to shield and guide her as she learns to manage her newly acquired skills. At the same time, Addison has much to teach him about trust and commitment. Fate has brought them together, but will it make them stronger or destroy them both in end?

Review of Whisper Cape
I am so thrilled I opened this book to read. I loved it!!! There is nothing better than a book that keeps you in suspense, till wee hours in the night. You keep flipping the pages, batting your eye lids in hopes, that the answers you are looking for will be reveal before you loose the power to hold your eyes open. While sitting on the edge of you seat, you fine yourself on a mission to solve the mystery, you have been woven into by the author. But wait! Not only is this book suspenseful, it almost has a edge of darkness to it. Adding in the tenderness of romance, great characters.
The author's descriptions keeps you captivated till the very end. My favorite part was finding out who actually the bad guy was, holy smokes it will literally blow your mind. Is he a serial killer, is he a friend or family member. Or is he a she? Curious yet? Then stop reading this and get the book!
Addie lost her father in a "accident", but soon moving back to Whisper Cape she starts thinking it wasn't a accident at all. Then after hitting a guy she was sure she killed, was not dead at all, he will become a huge part in her world. The perfect sexy book boyfriend, but he has his secrets too. The awesome world the author has built is strong, engaging, powerful characters, compelling you to read till the last page. The tangled web this Author has weaved is truly awesome.
Definitely a must read. Oh snap, wait till you find out the meaning of "Whisper Cape". Remember I told you about that edge of darkness....can we say creepyyyy.... So now I am off to read the next book, because I am already curious about Gerry. What? Who is that? Well get reading so you can find out!

Author Bio:
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, spending most of my time daydreaming or playing around in the mud. I grew out of the mud play, well, most of the time, a good soak in the mud is always fun. I still daydream often and sometimes my daydreams interrupt my daydreams. So, I write to remember them. If I didn't write, I think my mind would explode from an overload of fantasy and weirdness. To the annoyance of my friends and family, my characters sometimes become a part of my world. During my childhood, I would frequently get in trouble in school for daydreaming. Eventually, my vivid imagination paid off and I had the privilege of writing and co-directing my sixth-grade class play--a dreadful disaster, though not from my writing, of course. I'm pretty sure it was the acting.
I enjoy writing about characters living in small quaint towns and sometimes they tend to lean toward the unusual and edgy.
My paranormal playing field delves into a different milieu, abandoning vampires and werewolves, but not discounting them. Someday I might like to write a novel about vamps and those furry creatures. But for now I like the bizarre mixed with romance. A strong hero or heroine confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers and capabilities gets my blood running hot as does a steamy contemporary romantic suspense.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cover Reveal for Music Box by Anya Allyn

Music Box (Dollhouse #4)
Release Date: Fall 2013

Summary from Goodreads:
Final book of the series.

Cassie endures her darkest days under the rule of Balthazar. She finds a passage into the high tower, and comes face to face with the shadowy being whose presence has haunted her since her first days at the castle of La Falaise – and she makes an immense and horrifying discovery.

At the museum, the last survivors of a bleak existence are barely holding on. And the strange Order of Sister Celia make a chilling decision.

Someone very close to Ethan once told him, “When we can fight, we will fight, and when we can no longer fight, we will endure.”

With time running out, it is time to fight.

About the Author
Anya Allyn was born unexpectedly and without proper instructions.
A dreamy girl betwixt the clouds and space, she was given the thing she desired most for her tenth birthday–a microscope–and subsequently developed a penchant for small things: frogs and ants and microbes, and the earth (when viewed from other planets).
She considers a mind and body that do not roam free are the living dead.
Anya lives in a cottage by the sea–and slips in and out of forests and through a day, where the wild things are ….

She has four adventure-seeking boys and a bookcase filled with adventures. One day soon, she plans to head off on adventures of her own…

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png    photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png


Cover Reveal Hosted by:

Monday, November 25, 2013

PSS Chronicles series by Ripley Patton "Book Blitz"

PSS Chronicles book blitz banner2

Today is my post during the book blitz for the PSS Chronicles series by Ripley Patton.This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours .

The PSS Chronicles consist of 2 books so far: Ghost Hand (PSS Chronicles #1) and Ghost Hold (PSS Chronicles #2). To celebrate the one year anniversary of Ghost Hand, Ghost Hand will be free during this book blitz and Ghost Hold will be for sale for $0.99. Also don't forget to stop by the Facebook anniversary event

ghost handGhost Hand (PSS Chronicles #1)  
by Ripley Patton
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Age Category: Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Olivia Black has a rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Instead of a right hand made of flesh and blood, she was born with a hand made of ethereal energy.

How does Olivia handle being the girl with the ghost hand? Well, she's a little bit morbid and a whole lot snarky.

Her mother thinks her obsession with death, black clothing, and the local cemetery is a bid for attention. But when Marcus, the new guy in Olivia's calculus class, stares at her like she's a freak, Olivia doesn't like it. And when her hand goes rogue, doing things she never imagined possible, Olivia finds herself running for her life with Marcus from a group of men bent on taking the power of her hand for their own nefarious purposes.
You can find Ghost Hand on Goodreads

You can download Ghost Hand for free here:
- Amazon
- Kobo
ghost holdGhost Hold (PSS Chronicles #2) 
by Ripley Patton
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Age Category: Young Adult

Blurb:Olivia Black is back.

Only this time she's not the one in need of rescue.

Samantha James, rich, popular, and an award-winning composer at age seventeen, is the next target on the CAMFers' list. In order to convince Samantha to come with them, Olivia and Passion must pose as cousins, blend into the most affluent high school in Indianapolis, and infiltrate a mysterious cult known as The Hold.

Olivia doesn't expect it to be easy, even with the PSS guys backing them up. But what she discovers over the course of the mission will call into question everything she ever believed about herself, her family, and especially about Marcus, the guy she is undoubtedly falling in love with.

You can find Ghost Hold on Goodreads

You can buy Ghost Hold here:
- Amazon
About the Author:Ripley
Ripley Patton lives in Portland, Oregon with one cat, two teenagers, and a man who wants to live on a boat. She is an award-winning short story writer and author of The PSS Chronicles, a young adult paranormal thriller series.

Ripley doesn't smoke, or drink, or cuss as much as her characters. Her only real vices are writing, eating M&Ms, and watching reality television.

You can find Ripley here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Google+

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Copper Ravens by Jennife Allis Provosts Cover Reveal

Copper Ravens by Jennife Allis Provosts


Book Blurb:

Sara should be happy.
She has what every girl wants: a man who loves her, a beautiful home, and wealth beyond imagining. She rescued her brother from the Peacekeepers, destroyed the Iron Queen, and doesn’t have to go to her boring job any more.
And yet… Sara still doesn’t know if her father is alive or dead. Her mother hides in the garden, brooding about her missing husband. Her sister, the Inheritor of Metal, is scared of her own shadow, and her brother spends his days fighting and gambling. To add to Sara’s misery, the new queen (gold, of course) is more than a bit crazy, she misses her life in the Mundane world, and, worst of all, Micah wants to have children. A lot of them.
As Sara wavers between happiness and homesickness, a conspiracy emerges against the Raven clan, implicating them in a plot to dethrone the Gold Queen. How can Sara prove her family’s innocence, and become the consort Micah needs her to be, without losing herself in the process?
Author's bio:
Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two birds, three cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ascension By Stacey Rourke Clelebration

From best selling and award winning author Stacey Rourke comes the heart-pounding continuation of the acclaimed Gryphon Series. The turning point of the Gryphon saga is at hand … Battle looms. Three unstoppable forces prepare to clash in a colossal explosion that could wipe Gainesboro off the map. Fate and a sacred calling have landed nineteen year old Celeste Garrett in the middle with nowhere to run. Her trust wavers as she uncovers dark secrets of the Council, powerful enough to test her loyalty and turn her against those she swore to protect. Playing to the longing of her heart, a malevolent enemy uses her weakness against her to form an alliance. With the trumpets of war about to sound, which side will the Conduit choose, and who will be left standing?
Buy this awesome

Why should you read this book? Well, because this book has it all.....
Action.... check
Drama.... check
Twists..... double check!
A hint of romance... check
Humor.... Check!

And if that isn't enough to convince you, did I mention there is a super sexy pirate and gorgeous Irishman involved?
Red Headed Book Worm

ONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012.

Stacey Rourke is the author of the YA Fantasy Gryphon Series and the nonfiction autobiographical I'm Not Crazy, I'm on Lupron; a Journey Through Infertility. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant, drooly dogs. Stacey loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. She is currently hard at work on the continuations of the Gryphon Series as well as other literary projects.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanking The Author's Blog Hop

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out the giveaways at the other participating blogs in the Hop for  more chances to win!   Each blog has its own entry rules, prizes, and limits, so please check before you enter.    

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Betraying Innocence by Airicka Phoenix Blog Tour

Book Name: Betraying Innocence Author: Airicka Phoenix
Publisher: Fire & Ash Publishing
Release date: October 30, 2013  
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Romance

Betraying Innocence Synopsis
October 31, 1983, seventeen year old Johnny Baits vanishes without a trace, leaving the slumbering town of Chipawaha Creek, British Columbia reeling with his mysterious disappearance. Twenty-nine years later, The French family moves into his home, never realizing they're not alone in the house.

For seventeen year old Roseanna French moving to a strange new town is a problem she can handle. But even she's not prepared for the evil that has been sitting dormant for years... waiting. When seemingly harmless noises and creeping shadows at night leads to the murder of the people closest to her, Ana has to find a way to stop the evil before it can consume her completely and she can no longer wash the blood from her hands.

Rafael Ramirez is battling his own demons. Unlike Ana's, his has been haunting him for years. But running isn't an option. He has a mother, a brother and a sister looking to him to keep them safe. He doesn’t have time for pretty girls with issues, even if the sight of her makes him hope for things a guy like him doesn’t deserve. But when Ana asks Rafe for help, what can he do except give it? But what happens when the evil comes after his family? Can they stop it before it's too late or will it claim them the way it had claimed Johnny?

“Where is he?” he growled, doing a circle. “Where is he?” “I … I think he’s gone,” Ana croaked, fighting not to give into the fainting sensation beckoning her to sway into its arms. Rafe hurried over to her and took her hand. “Come on!” She let herself be dragged up the path to the house, positive she would never have made it there on her own. On the porch, he stopped and faced to her, his eyes intense. “Get inside and lock the door.” Ana wanted to laugh. If she could’ve stopped shivering, stopped her teeth from chattering, her heart from going crazy in her chest, she would have reminded him that a closed door didn’t apply to ghosts. That locked or not, it wouldn’t stop that thing from getting inside. But there was something else, another reason that going inside wouldn’t help. “He’s in there,” she told him, tears suddenly burning her eyes. Her bottom lip trembled. “What?” He yanked her away from the open door and thrust her behind him. “Where?” She sniffled, wanting so desperately to just bury her face into the planes of his back and cry. “In my room,” she whispered, absolutely certain of this now. “He’s inside my walls.” It no longer mattered if he thought her insane. Her problems were so much bigger, so much more frightening. Plus, was she crazy if he’d seen it too? If he’d fought it? Was she still insane? Rafe didn’t look disbelieving. He looked horrified and angry. His eyes widened, darting between her and the door. “What was that thing, Ana?” “I don’t know!” she cried, no longer able to stop the flood of tears that washed down her face, mixing with the pond water. “I don’t know! I don’t know! I thought I was crazy. I thought … I’m not crazy! You saw him. You saw him, didn’t you? I’m not—” She was suddenly in his arms, held so tight it was almost impossible to breathe. But it wasn’t close enough.
“Shh,” he whispered into her temple. “You’re not crazy. I saw him, too.”
Huddled beneath a perpetual cloud of imagination, International Best-Selling author Airicka Phoenix lives with her huband and four gorgeous children in the beautiful province of British Columbia. When she's not busy playing with her imaginary friends, creating worlds and toying with fictional lives, she can be found reading, polishing her collection of daggers, or chilling with her kids. Airicka is the creator of THE TOUCH SAGA, THE SONS OF JUDGMENT SAGA, THE LOST GIRL SERIES, GAMES OF FIRE, and BETRAYING INNOCENCE. The conclusion of Finding Kia, book 2 of The Lost Girl Series, REVEALING KIA, will be out November 2013. She also has plans to release a Sci-Fi horror/romance, WHEN NIGHT FALLS, in December of 2013. Airicka also writes adult paranormal & contemporary romance under her alter ego, Morgana Phoenix. She has a paranormal short coming out December 2013 in SNOWED IN, An Anthology and CAPTURE ME, Morgana's debut novel will be released Fall 2014.
For more about Airicka, visit her website at: 
Fanpage: - See more at:

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Come, the Dark by Rebecca Hamilton

A Rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.

Rose was a teenage girl carrying her father’s baby. A teenage girl who desperately wanted to escape. Womanhood in Salem, Massachusetts 1692 wasn’t what she had in mind.

As Rose attempts to save her newborn daughter, Anna, from both her father and the dark spirits that haunt her life, she is thrust from Georgia, 1962, into the era of Salem’s infamous witch trials, leaving her daughter hopelessly out of reach. Here, the townsfolk call her Abigail, while a strange man in the woods calls her by the name she gave herself as a child: Cordovae. She’s never shared the name with anyone.

She needs to find her way back to her daughter . . . but going back isn’t an option. Not until she faces certain death to banish the dark spirits that plague Salem. These dark spirits, if she doesn’t move them in time, will destroy civilization and trap her in this strange new place, ages away from her daughter.

Even if she can complete the task in time to return home to save her daughter, there’s still one problem: she’s falling in love with a man who can’t return with her. Achieving her goals will force her to choose between the only man who’s never betrayed her and a daughter she can’t quite remember but will never forget.

A heart-wrenching tale of a mother’s love for her daughter, this romantic paranormal fantasy underlines the depravity of both historical and modern society while capturing the essence of sacrifice and devotion.

November 11 – TWITTER CONTEST: For another chance to win a free eBook copy of THE MAKING OF NEBRASKA BROWN BY LOUISE CAIOLA: Post a tweet in the following format, filling in the blank: The best book I have read since #TheForeverGirl is _______________ #amreading #paranormal #fantasy

Rebecca Hamilton writes Paranormal Fantasy, Horror, and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and three kids, along with multiple writing personalities that range from morbid to literary. She enjoys dancing with her kids to television show theme songs and would love the beach if it weren't for the sand. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently.
To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit the website below.
 Chapter ONE
August 1962

Nobody wants to talk about what Pa did to me.
Mama and I sway on the porch swing, drinking the sun-brewed iced tea she made with her Tetley tea bags, sweetened with cane sugar and chilled with ice from our cracked freezer tray. We talk about the weather. Well, Mama is talking about the weather. If it was up to me, there would be no talking.
During our talks, her gaze flits around, never settling on anything for too long. Definitely not my eyes and especially not my stomach. She can’t look at me without getting that pained, watery gaze. I think she must not like shutting her eyes, either, because there are dark circles under them.
Maybe the Darkness won’t let her sleep anymore.
“Nice day today,” she says.
The words mean to fill the air between us.
Time seems to stand still these days, as though time itself were as lazy as the summer days are long. I stare at the muted day and pale sky, the dirt roads and faded grass. Forever in the sun, the dusty, bluish-white paint peels away from the decaying oak boards of our porch. The muggy air, dead of a breeze, makes my skin itch.
The weather’s just another pressure in my life, suffocating me, and the swell of my uterus against my lungs isn’t helping.
Mama tucks a grayish blonde strand of hair into her sunhat. It’s not fancy. Just something she wears to hide her unkempt hair.
“Georgia summer,” she says, all breathless-like. “That’s why I like it here. I like these Georgia summers.”
I don’t like Georgia summers. They smell like animal piss and cut grass and wet concrete cooking in the sun. But it’s not just the summers. I don’t like anything about Georgia. Georgia is a black hole—the home of the Darkness. Home of the shadows that scurry in my periphery. They always stay to the sides, stay where I can’t look them in the eye. Only the edge of my vision catches the figures gliding past, but they are gone the moment I turn to look.
They are here now, too. Always. Ever since that car accident my Pa and I should have died in all those years ago. I glimpse a shadow behind the window, inside our house, peeking through the blinds. I turn my head, and there’s nothing there, nothing but the blinds moving lightly. Another shadow crouches behind Mama’s rose bushes on the other side of the porch rails. This shadow-man crowds the edges of my vision, watching me. If I look straight at him, he’ll be gone, so instead I watch in this way, from the corners of my eyes. Not afraid anymore. Only aware.
When I’m tired of being stared at, I glance over. All that’s there are Mama’s strawberry plants, about to be overcome by the vines crawling along our porch, and a few bumble bees buzzing as they mate in the air above. A praying mantis feasts on a butterfly’s cocoon attached to one of the porch spindles, just beside where an old rope loops around one of the rail posts. In the crawlspace below, animal traps snuff the light of small and innocent creatures. Sometimes I hear them scratching to get free. Scratch, scratch, scratch . . . silence.
I wonder if Mama can see my overripe stomach from the corners of her vision the same as I see the shadow men. If she looked, would it all go away?
It’s probably too late for Mama to look now.
As I sip my tea, Mama talks about the cloudless day. But it’s not really a cloudless day. If Mama would look to the horizon, she would see the coal black storm clouds rolling in, casting our sunny day in a dreariness that seems more fitting for our life.
But clouds are something nice to talk about. Better than talking about the swell of my stomach, or the way even my face and ankles have gotten plump. ‘Still a skinny little thing,’ Mrs. Kelly says, when she passes our porch on her morning rounds. ‘It's in your bones.’
She probably thinks I’m an easy girl, got knocked up six months before my eighteenth birthday in the bed of some young man’s pickup truck. No one’s going to tell her otherwise. But we can’t just ignore what’s coming. Today has been a constant reminder, my abdomen so swollen that it crushes my stomach, quelling my appetite completely. Off and on, sharp pains have been stiffening all around my midsection and cramping in my back. I take a sip of my sweet tea, even though I’m not a bit thirsty.
I twist a small emerald birthstone ring on my finger. My swelling has made it fit too snug to remove.
“When the baby—” I start, but Mama’s mouth smiles in a silencing way.
She keeps touching her face, like she always does when she’s anxious. So much so that, lately, sores have appeared along her jaw. Her lips so bitten as to scab. It’s like she’s in there, somewhere, still a mother enough to worry—but part of her mind and soul have been taken. Like her body isn’t her own anymore.
I know just how she feels.
I close my eyes, wishing myself away from here. One day it will just me and my baby, Anna, and life will be better. One day soon. God, please let it be one day soon.
“You used to play in those fields,” Mama says. She chews the inside of her cheek and nods to the hills across the street, to the waves of wheatgrass seeded with wild flowers. Closer to the road, poppy flowers grow in bright clusters that make the roadside more vibrant, even in the dull light of our cloudy day.
I don’t say anything. Mama doesn’t mind if I’m quiet. I just have to nod along as she tells her stories, as she lives in the past, talking about how Pa used to take me to the carnival and how Pa used to braid my hair and how Pa used to take me to see the horses. I think it makes her feel better.
I’m old enough to know I should be angry with her. Old enough to think she could’ve stopped him. But I’m not mad, and I don’t blame her. It was the Darkness that did this to our family. They took Pa when I was twelve. Made him different, first with his unnerving stares and discomforting touches. Then something more. The Darkness blinded Mama, or trapped her somehow. But the Darkness never took me, not directly.
Mama and I sip from our glasses and pick at last night’s crumbling cornbread until the late afternoon light reddens the porch.  A lot of days, when we’re sitting out here, she knits, but never anything useful. It’s just to keep her hands busy, like pearling together some doilies or another pair of oven mitts. She has a lot of those.
After much sitting and sipping and pointless conversation, Pa comes home. Mama's smile falls away, and she gets quiet and carries the pitcher of tea inside. I follow her, catching my balance on the doorframe as I step over the threshold into the house. The floorboards seem more uneven today, and a queasiness tumbles through me.
Shaky from heat and discomfort, I head to the bathroom to run a cold bath. The shush of the water is soothing. I lock the door and sit on the bathroom rug, leaning back against the wall. I won’t miss this place. When little Anna comes, I’ll take her away from here. I’ll need to get my own pitcher for tea, and some clothes for her, and some diapers and pins. And of course a real crib, not that box I’ve set up in my room. Then there’s those little booties and caps . . . .
At any rate, we’ll make do. I’ll give her a childhood where fairytales can happen in our backyard. All little girls like fairytales. Even me. And I know I’m having a girl, for sure, because I’m carrying high and craving sweets, and Mrs. Kelly says that’s why I look such a mess.
I’ll take Anna north to Seaside, with the cookie-cutter cottages right on the beach. Nobody will look for me in Jersey. Jersey is so . . . unromantic. The kind of place people go only because they have to, to visit family or take a job. It’s exactly what I need.
Exactly what Pa is never going to let happen.
I ran away once. Of course I did. Snuck out of the house late at night with a sack of clothes and some money I stole from Pa’s jar in the kitchen. He doesn’t keep a jar no more. I was going to get away to where he couldn’t hurt me—to where the Darkness couldn’t make him do those things to me.
My bike took me two towns over before the cops picked me up. If not for them, I would have gotten away. I begged them not to return me home; I pleaded, I told them everything. Everything—the things I could bring myself to say and the things I hoped implied what I couldn’t say.
“You never said anything before.”
“We hear this from your type all the time. Kids blaming their parents. You oughtta watch making such claims about your own Pa.”
“Learn some responsibility, young lady. Can’t go around making up stories to get out of trouble.”
That’s what the cops said. Pa had spent years painting me like a problem child to the town, and it’d worked.
I shook my head. Tried to shake the reality away. It didn’t work. Soon I was home, my Pa apologizing to the police for all the wrong things. Apologizing on my behalf, like I was the one who done wrong. Same way he’d convinced the school my missed days were from me playing hooky, as though I’d chosen to stay home. As if he weren’t keeping me there to hide the bruises.
That night, I sat awake in bed, trying to think up a new way to escape.
The next morning, Pa smashed my bike. He drug Mama in my room by her hair. Pa had never hurt Mama before, but today he stood, blocking my doorway, and pounded on her until her eyes were black and her mouth was bleeding.
Then he said it: the words that changed everything.
“If you leave, I’ll kill her.”
It wasn’t until Pa knocked me up that I decided I could live with that.
The whole world had already betrayed me. I was done helping others. Now I was going to focus on Anna and myself, no matter how selfish that may be. I don’t care what people think. What did I have to lose? My good name? Pa had already stolen that from me. The only thing left now was my humanity—and what was the point in having humanity in a world with none?
Yes, I could leave—I could risk losing my humanity—if it meant Pa would never have the chance to hurt my baby, my Anna. She was my responsibility above all else now. Nothing else mattered anymore.
How had life brought me here? I used to think everyone had a right to freedom over their own body. Now I realize that’s something you have to fight for. Because if you don’t take control over your body, someone else will. This right over my body was never free, and taking ownership back will come with a cost. Perhaps the cost will be Ma’s life.
But leaving is my only hope. My pregnancy has not leftj me well fit to travel, so here I am, waiting for Anna to come so we can escape together. I might not have the money, but I’ll find a way. I’ll hike down to the train station and go wherever. Anywhere is better than here. And now that I’m an adult, the cops can’t stop me.
I’m tossing and turning on a lumpy mattress when my water breaks. I still myself. I don’t want my water to break now. Not tonight, not while Pa is home. I’ll never be able to get away with the baby then.
The moonlight looks bluish on my walls as I lie here, staring at the paisley wallpaper that’s curling away from a fist-sized hole in the plaster. It was pretty once, cream colored and soft blues and greens and yellows and pink. The night is mostly quiet, just the hum of my fan and a rattlesnake hissing outside my window.
My eyes sting from lack of sleep, and the room feels impossibly humid. My hair is so damp from sweat that it has darkened to the color of blood against my cream pillowcase. The electric fan on my dresser does little more than push a musky odor around the room.
I kick off my threadbare quilt, and there’s another rush of warm fluid, pooling on my sheets beneath me. I want to crawl out of my own skin, away from my body, but I don’t move.
I hope I’m wrong—that my water hasn’t broken. That I’ve just pissed myself. If Anna can wait until morning, wait until Pa leaves for work, everything will be okay.
The shadow men are in a frenzy tonight. They whip past my bedroom window, crouch in the corners of my room, hover near the ceiling, outside my window, and in the hall outside my door. They scurry away each time I look, each time I try to catch them with my gaze.
Usually I ignore them, but I don’t want them here anymore than I want Pa here. I keep looking at them, hoping to make them disappear, but tonight they do not leave. They move, they move, they move, but still they remain, crowding me in darkness.
Somewhere in the distance, glass breaks, and part of me wonders if it’s them—if the Darkness can touch things now.
Maybe I’m insane, like Aunt Myrna.
For two hours, I shift between sleep and consciousness. I keep falling into that place in my mind, the place I always hide when Pa comes into my room. I couldn’t let him kill whatever soul I had left; I had to escape in some way, save some part of me, the part of me I call Cordovae. Now here, in this place I can only dream of, I spread my arms and lift my head and twirl around, untouched, unharmed. It’s my prison and my protection, where only those who know my heart can reach me.
I’m safe here.
But then the pains begin, ripping me from that world. Bringing me back to the unfortunate life I was born into. At first, I feel the way my stomach hardens, the way it squeezes around my little Anna. But as the night drifts deeper, the pain intensifies and spreads through my entire body.
I can’t quiet my breathing. I close my eyes and try to envision the cramps disappearing, but I can’t think straight. I hum the only lullaby I know, the one Pa always yells at me for humming.
“That ain’t no damn song I ever heard,” he always says.
But I know the song, and it’s as familiar as the sun rising.
The pain shakes my body, and I let out a long, low groan. I don’t want to make any noise. I try using a painting I’ve made for Anna as a focal point. I’d mixed the juice of raspberries and blueberries with glue and painted the mixture over leaves on paper and pressed sticks and small pebbles into the blue and red and purple swirls, until I’d created for us our future—a dream of a cottage in the woods where no one would ever find us.
My efforts to escape right are crushed as the pains overlap and a pressure builds. I grit my teeth, but another groan forces its way past my lips.
Footsteps rush through the hall. On flicks a light, yellow and brassy, illuminating my bare room in a way that makes it feel colder. Ma’s expression falls, and she hurries to my side and holds my hand. I wish she’d stop running her fingers through her hair. It makes me nervous.
“Rose. Oh, God, Rose. I’m sorry. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay, baby, Mama’s here now.”
I don’t respond. Pa stands in the doorway, still dressed in the dark denim pants he’d put on after his shift at the farm. Sleep-marks carve the left cheek of his face and his short black hair—past-due a haircut and just long enough to get messy—sticks up on one side. My heart skips to near racing. It’s so loud in my ears I swear Pa can hear, too.
“Evelyn,” he says coolly. “Get the rum and a glass of water.”
She keeps staring at me, swallowing, looking at least a decade older than her forty-three years. In this light, her nose looks especially crooked from all the times it’s been broken. But my Pa didn’t do that to her—no, her own Pa was to blame for that.
She swallows again, and now I’m feeling the urge to swallow, too, but my mouth and throat are too dry. It takes me a moment, but I realize why she’s still standing there. She’s wants to protect me.
Little late for that.
Pa snaps his dark gaze toward her. “Go!”
Mama startles, and I startle, too. Everyone startles when Pa yells because his eyes get bigger and darker and his face gets pinker. As Mama darts from the room, my skin gets all shivery.
I close my eyes and wish Mama was back, but when I open them, it’s still just Pa and me. I’m shaking so much it makes the pale, painted-yellow headboard of my bed rattle against the wall.
Two of the Dark Ones step closer to Pa. Step right into my direct line of sight. Dark, faceless figures.   
I gasp. I’ve never seen them so directly. But before I can react any further, another contraction crests, wracking my body with a new wave of pain.
A coolness caresses my forehead. “It’s okay, Rose. Breathe.”
The voice had come from behind me. One of the Darkness. They had never spoken to me before. Why do they care about me now, after having caused me so much pain?
Pa steps toward me, but they grab his arms, pinning him in place. He doesn’t seem to see them. No one sees them but me.
Pa’s brow furrows, and he shakes his head. “Where’s your damn Mother?” he asks. He’s been drinking. He’s always drinking when he’s home, and now my room smells like whiskey. He turns toward the open bedroom door. “Evelyn!”
Mama rushes in moments later with the rum and water. She’s also brought fresh towels, which she drops by the end of the bed.
“Is everything okay?” she asks Pa. “You’re going to help her, aren’t you? You said you’d—”
“No,” he says, his face pale. The bead of sweat above his lip trembles. “You deliver the baby.”
“Me?” She glances over to me. “I’ve never—but you—you’ve delivered some of your siblings…”
Pa came from a family of nine kids, and his Mama didn’t believe in hospitals. Not even when some of her babies caught cholera, not even after she lost a few to cot death. So Pa could do this, like Mama says, but I don’t want him to. I don’t want him to ever touch Anna.
“You created this mess,” Mama says with a forcefulness that is new and awkward.  “You deliver the baby.”
Pa turns away. Leaves. The pressure overwhelms my body. I just need to get to a hospital, but I don’t think there’s time for that now.
“I need to push, Mama.”
Mama rushes to my bedside and holds the water to my lips. She’s trembling, water splashing onto my chin, but I shake my head. My mouth’s dry, but even the idea of drinking sounds painful.
“Now,” I say. “The baby’s coming now.”
She sets the glass on the nightstand. “I can’t,” she says. She backs away, tears filling her eyes. “I—I’m sorry, Rose. I can’t.”
“You can’t leave me!”
She shakes her head and keeps backing away until she reaches the door, tears spilling down her bony cheeks. Then she turns, and all that is left of her is the clomp of her footsteps hurrying down the hall. Hurrying away.
A door shuts. A lock clicks. Mama’s shut down again, the way she always does when things are just ‘too much to take’.
I shouldn’t care. I hadn’t wanted them here. But now I’m terrified. I don’t know how to deliver a baby. The woman up the road—
Oh, Lord, help me! Another contraction.
I grit my teeth and cry to myself. The pain rips through me. I feel like I’m dying. I can’t take anymore. My body trembles through every limb, and nausea quakes in my stomach.
Then it’s gone, and I’m thinking of the woman up the road again. Fear replaces my pain. She hadn’t known how to deliver a baby either; I can’t let my Anna die like her baby did.
I should’ve gone to the hospital, taken myself if I had to. After another strong contraction passes, I try to get out of bed. Maybe there’s still enough time. I’ll take the keys to Pa’s truck from the hook by the door and—
Another contraction slams through, and I lean back into the bed. The pain is like a fire slicing me in half, and they are right on top of each other now, barely giving me a moment to breathe or even think.
I’m not going anywhere. I can’t even get back on the bed. Everything is happening too fast, and at the same time, the pain seems to stretch on for eternity. I just want to have my baby safely—have her and get her far away from this place.
“Mama!” I holler. “Please, Mama!”
Sobs echo from the other room, and I realize I’m crying, too.  It’s just me here now. Me and the Darkness and my baby, my Anna, coming into the horrifying world that doesn’t deserve her.