Spotlight On: The Second Shadow, by Elizabeth Arroyo

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Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Date Published: 9/5/2013

Jake thought being demon meant a shredded humanity, stripped of all human emotion. Chaos and self-preservation dominates a demon’s instincts. But Jake feels every ounce of pain and despair around him.

And it’s driving him deeper into Hell.

Gabby’s choice to save him last summer left a fissure in Hell’s gate that released a malevolent evil. When Jake’s given a mission by the demons to shadow a human girl who may know the whereabouts of an ethereal weapon, he doesn’t expect to see Gabby. But Fate has her own agenda.

When Jake and Gabby are thrown together on a camping trip with a group of delinquent teens, Jake begins to grapple with the haunting choices he made in the past. When the evil finds them, the group begins to battle for their lives, alliances are made, and truths revealed.

As the evil begins to influence Jake, he questions his link to the demons, his purpose, and his love for Gabby.

But the answers to those questions are only found in Hell. And it may cost him his soul.

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Prologue
Old, dead things

Gabriela Vega was going to pay. It was all Tasha could think about after the little freak soaked her in mop water—as if. No one in the cafeteria had lifted a finger as Tasha pounded on the new girl. They wouldn’t dare. Suspended after she tackled the little swine, Tasha knew she’d be in deep shit when she got home. Grams was going to have a fit.

Wiping her dripping nose as she stepped onto the bus, she took a seat near the window in the rear. Tasha hated riding on the bus, but Robin refused to take her wet ass home. He didn’t want to ruin the polyester upholstery in his car. Asshole.

But Tasha hadn’t left the fight empty-handed.

She lifted the chain in front of her eyes and scrutinized the small silver angel pendant. The pendant made the fight worthwhile, even the suspension. Wait until Gabby saw Tasha wearing it. Let the little shit try to take it back. Rubbing the warm pendant with her thumb, she felt tiny vibrations under her skin. It felt good.

A strong odor caught in her throat from the guy sitting next to her. The smell of old, dead things. Scooting away from him without jumping out the window didn’t help. His shoulder nudged hers, forcing her to turn and face the dark, hollow pit that replaced his face. She tried to move, to pull back, to scream, but her body and her voice wouldn’t comply. The fabric of his dark trench coat fluttered, as if caught by an unfelt wind.

And then he began to lean toward her. The air grew thick, pressing against her as if she’d fallen into a deep ocean trench and the pressure threatened to crush her. Implode.

She couldn’t breathe.

No one noticed her dying on the bus. No one noticed the thing beside her, with its hollow face inches from hers, and stench of death. It whispered words in her ear and a cold wetness draped her in fear. Tears leaked from her eyes and pain exploded inside her skull. Then she did move. She pulled away from him, closed her eyes to keep them in her head, and rubbed her forehead with her palm.

“Are you okay?”

Tasha looked at the woman sitting beside her.

“Huh?” Tasha rubbed her head again. A splitting headache tightened its nasty clamp around her head. “No, I feel like crap.” Tasha stood up as the bus reached her stop, and she got off.

She arrived home with no memory of the bus ride or the walk. She needed to crash. Cold sweat forced shivers throughout her body. The buzzing in her head wouldn’t stop. Sick. She was getting sick. The flu maybe. She rubbed her ear and felt a wet sticky substance. Black goop on her fingertips made her stomach roll. She stepped inside the apartment she shared with her grandma and sister and a foul smell forced her eyes to water. Her stomach lurched, and she ran to the bathroom.

“Are you sick?” Grandma’s voice tore into her brain as she stumbled back to the couch. Moaning, Tasha threw herself on it, her limbs heavy, her breathing hard. She needed sleep. Rest. Peace.

“I asked you a question!” Grandma hollered.

There is no peace for the wicked.

Tasha sat up, eyes closed. Grandma’s in one of her moods again. “Please, Grams, can I sleep for a little bit?” Pain exploded on her left cheek, then, in quick succession, her right. She’d been slapped. Twice. Opening her eyes to her grandmother, Tasha restrained the urge to crawl away and die.

“You demon spawn, what did you do?” Spittle fell from Grams thin lips, the only feature on her face that looked…human. “The school called! What did you do this time?”

Tasha stood up on shaky legs. Grandma’s face, a writhing mass of bugs, stood a foot away from her own. Her heart did a double-take, and she felt the blood drain from her body. Tasha felt the scream at her throat and opened her mouth to release it into the space between her and the monster. But nothing came out. As if she’d been dropped into cold water, her limbs felt heavy, slow, uncoordinated. Sidestepping the sofa in an attempt to get as far away from the bugs on her grandma’s face, Tasha’s feet got tangled on the rug, and she crashed to the floor. Pain brought her flittering to the surface of reality and the instinct to survive grew into panic. Crawling on all fours, she reached her bedroom door, but strong arms lifted her by the hair, pulling, tearing her scalp. A scream escaped her, cut short by more pain.

Grandma had never beaten her. Grandma wasn’t strong enough to do much but holler at her and her sister. But it dawned on Tasha that the thing in front of her wasn’t her grandma anymore. “Grandma, please.”

“You did this to her. And now you will pay,” an inhuman voice said between the colonies of bugs slithering along Grandma’s flesh.

Tasha stumbled into the kitchen. Fear drove her to reach for the block of knives, pulling one out. The buzzing in her head grew louder. She turned to her grandma with the knife in her hand. “Please, don’t do this.”

But Tasha couldn’t see anymore. Her vision darkened.

The Pain. The buzzing in her head. It wouldn’t stop.

Her muscles liquid fire, her body not her own.

Someone let out a painful scream. And Tasha felt warm liquid seep between her fingers curled around the knife. Then silence.

And she was floating. Sleep. She needed sleep.

Not sure how long she’d been in darkness, she found herself sitting on the sofa, staring at the front door. She reached for the angel medallion around her neck. She didn’t remember putting it on. But it wasn’t hers. She had to give it back.

A shadow moved in front of her, its hand extended. She pulled off the chain and dropped it inside its palm.

Make the buzzing stop. Please.

One more.

Tasha had one more job to do.

She sauntered back to the kitchen, stepped over the body on the floor, and pulled out the stove as if it weighed nothing. The connector snapped and gas hissed into the room. Good.

Slowly, she went back to the living room, pulled out her lighter, and waited.

Burn.

Her sister would be home soon.

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About the Author

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Elizabeth Arroyo

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Elizabeth spent most of her younger years as an avid reader with a wild imagination which led her to write her first manuscript at the age of fourteen.

But, life got in the way. Elizabeth completed a Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice at Northeastern Illinois University and works in the community strengthening families.

But her love of stories held, and in 2008 she found herself back into her storytelling roots and began writing again. In 2012, Elizabeth signed with Sapphire Star Publishing to release her debut novel, THE SECOND SIGN.

Elizabeth still resides in Chicago’s south west side with her family, a household of kids, and the bliss of chaos. The good kind. She continues to work in the community.

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Blog Tour: Blue Moon Chronicles, by Bryant Golden

About The Author:

Bryant Golden started writing “Blue Moon Chronicles, Book I” when he was twelve years old and sick at home. The story and the genre changed significantly in the seven years it took to finish, hopefully for the better, but the title and the themes never changed. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, he originally settled his characters into fantasy worlds with magic and creatures to abandon life in the city. When he was rewriting the story for the final time he realized that the story needs to be personal for it to matter, to the writer and to readers, so he created new characters and settled the story into a fictional but realistic world.

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Genre: Fiction/Action & Adventure/Young Adult

Publisher: Self-published with CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Released June 4, 2013.

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Book Description:

It’s been a century since the Civil War split the continent into two provinces, Sanctum and Alexandria, and now another war is on the horizon: the Continent War. The end of this war means the end of one of the provinces. This is the story of Ian Hirst as he finds himself in the fray and fights to defend his province and loved ones. Isaiah, a young boy from the newest locale in Sanctum, struggles to learn what it means to grow up and become “a proper man” in the middle of it all.

Excerpt #2, “Abigail”:

Isaiah followed Abigail’s lead, more because he’s curious than worried. She hummed quietly to herself. He doesn’t mind, he enjoys the tune—it feels familiar somehow.

Abigail reached for his hand. “C’mon, mister,” she said. Isaiah nodded and followed, suddenly feeling a strange sadness, followed by immediate frustration.

Abigail? Can I ask where we’re going?”

I’m walking you home, mister,” she said.

But home is that way,” said Isaiah, pointing back at the way they came.

No it isn’t,” she said, holding his hand tighter.

Abigail, what do you want with me?”

She looked back at him and sighed. “I’ve already told you twice, mister.”

Abigail, we’re friends, right?” he asked with a smile.

Abigail jumped and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Yes, we’re friends,” she said, hugging him tightly.

Then tell me where we’re going. Where we’re really going,” said Isaiah, struggling to push her off.

Abigail smiled. “I’ve never had a friend before,” she said. She reached for Isaiah’s hand again and led him deeper into the dungeons. The two walked in silence for a few more minutes and Isaiah sighed.

You didn’t tell me where we’re going, Abigail.”

She let go of his hand and walked into an old cell. “C’mon, sit down,” she smiled. He sighed again and followed her inside. She closed the cell behind him. Blindly following a strange girl into a prison cell in an old dungeon is probably not one of his smartest moves, but he’s a capable young man.

He can fight off a little girl. Not that he wants to, but he can.

Welcome home, mister,” she whispered as if she thought they were being followed.

This is your grave, kid,” a deep, heavy voice echoed in his head.

Wait, Abigail… Did you hear that?” he asked. She doesn’t seem bothered by the voice. It must only be in his head.

Is he losing his mind?

Abigail walked up to him and held his hand once more. “Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked, resting her hand on his cheek.

Isaiah shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

Well, it looks like you hit your head pretty hard,” said Abigail, pointing at the dry blood on Isaiah’s face. He didn’t feel any pain. He didn’t feel the blood.

What’s going on, Abigail?” asked Isaiah, a flood of light filling the dungeon cell.

His vision blurred and when he regained his senses he found himself chained to the wall. “Abigail?” he said.

Can you please shut up?” said a man in the cell next to his. He was a dirty, unhealthy looking man with a lot of hair and a large beard, his gray eyes barely visible behind it all.

Where are we?” asked Isaiah.

Where do you think? You’re a prisoner now. We’re in the Alexandria dungeons. You were fading in and out of consciousness for a few days, it looks like you were hit pretty hard,” said the man, leaning against the prison bars that separated them.

A few days?” asked Isaiah. “How many?”

Well, I’ve had three meals since you got here so…you’ve been here for a week, more or less. You’ve been mumbling on about some ‘Abigail’ and it’s been pretty horrible listening to it. I even threw a few pebbles at you to try and shut you up.”

Isaiah looked down and noticed a small pile of pebbles at his feet.

A few pebbles?” he said.

A few pebbles a day, yeah.”

 

Guest Author: Amalia Dillin

Thor and Loki

In Norse Mythology, Thor and Loki have a very complex relationship. Loki, as Odin’s blood brother, has been a part of Thor’s life for an eternity and while he often led Thor into trouble, Loki usually guided him back out of it, too.

Reading the myths, it’s easy to see Loki as something of an indulgent and wild uncle, and if they were living in the modern world, I can easily imagine Loki as the person who buys the underage Thor beer so he can party with his friends, or takes him to the strip club for his 18th birthday, while Loki himself did some questionable business in a backroom.

In the myths, they go to Jotunheim to pick fights with the giants, traveling together like adventurers, and we see as the stories in the Eddas unfold, that Loki’s reasons for traveling with Thor are maybe not just the interests of “the cool uncle.” We start to see that Loki has ulterior motives, that he might be deliberately putting Thor in harm’s way, hoping for his destruction. Even in the myths, Thor, as trusting as he is, begins to realize that Loki’s tricks are turning malicious.

It’s after Thor has come to this understanding of Loki’s character (with a little help from a giantess), that the FATE OF THE GODS series takes place – and Loki had better watch out, because, as we see in this excerpt from FORGED BY FATE, Thor is getting tired of his uncle’s mischief!

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“So sullen, Thor,” Loki said, seating himself across the table in Odin’s hall. “Surely you cannot still be angry about that mischief with your wife.”

Thor curled his lip, hiding the expression behind his mug.

“I see,” Loki said, when Thor had not responded with anything more than a long drink and a glower. “A shame, really. I thought I might travel East, and as often as Sif has been away, it seemed to me you might wish for an excuse to do the same. I have heard wondrous things about the Olympian goddesses.” His green eyes glittered, feral in the firelight. “Perhaps I should ask Magni and Modi to accompany me, instead. I’m certain they would enjoy themselves immensely.”

Thor growled. “My sons have better taste than to choose you as their companion.”

Loki laughed. “There was a time you did not find me so contemptible, Thor. Or do you forget that once you called me uncle?”

“An error in judgment, corrected by Jarnsaxa’s grace.” To his younger eyes, Loki had seemed so much wiser. Brilliant and daring and, even better, always willing to embark on some adventure or another, taking time for Thor while Odin had been too busy with his own affairs.

But that had been before Thor had recognized the malice behind the Trickster’s “mischief.” Before he had met Jarnsaxa, who had borne his sons while he had still believed Sif would never have him. Jarnsaxa had died in the wars on Jotunheim, the world where Thor had been raised, where they had fled with his mother’s aid after Surt had destroyed their own lands. But Jarnsaxa had not died before she had told him all she knew of the Trickster and his role in what had come to pass, fearing for her sons. Even so, Thor had not believed Loki would go so far as to meddle with Sif, and he was not certain which stung him more: that Sif had been taken in by his silver-tongue, or that Loki had betrayed him so completely. Sif, at least, might have been fooled. Loki had known precisely what he was doing.

“Just as well,” Loki said, smiling slowly. “Sif would never forgive you if she learned you’d gone off in search of Elohim’s daughter, though it is not only I who finds it strange you did not mention such a goddess in all your reports. Surely you had heard of her.”

Thor said nothing, his jaw tense with the need to keep his silence.

“I can only imagine you had some reason for keeping her a secret,” Loki said, reaching casually across the table to take a piece of bread from Thor’s meal. “A lovechild, perhaps? It would not be your first.”

“Magni and Modi were born long before I married Sif,” he growled, catching Loki’s arm by the wrist before he touched his plate. Thor threw his hand away, his eyes burning with lightning. The color had already leached from Loki’s face and the warm yellow of the wooden table had turned gray. “Nor have I fathered any godchild since, but for Thrud.”

“And then there is that pesky business with Ullr,” Loki mused, grinning now. “Did finding Sif in my arms not make you wonder in the slightest? Sif is as much a warrior as any of us, to be forced—”

“Freyja bore witness,” he said, grinding his teeth on the words. And Sif had loved him then, as he had her. She would never have betrayed him. Not so soon after their marriage, and not while they warred against the Vanir. She was not Aphrodite to take lovers among their enemies.

“And Freyja is so reliable when it comes to these things.” Loki rolled his eyes. “Poor Jarnsaxa. She tried and she tried, and all her efforts came to nothing. You’re still as thick as you ever were.”

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You can learn more about the FATE OF THE GODS series and FORGED BY FATE, as well as my new e-novella tie-in, TEMPTING FATE on my website, http://www.amaliadillin.com and at World Weaver Press. You can also pick up a copy on Amazon or B&N, or add them on Goodreads!

Tempting Fate cover

~Amalia Dillin

Author Profile: KateMarie Collins

Meet KateMarie Collins!

Biography
Born in the late 60’s, KateMarie has lived most of her life in the Pacific NW. While she’s always been creative, she didn’t turn towards writing until 2008. She found a love for the craft. With the encouragement of her husband and two daughters, she started submitting her work to publishers. When she’s not taking care of her family, KateMarie enjoys attending events for the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA has allowed her to combine both a creative nature and love of history. She currently resides with her family and three cats in what she likes to refer to as “Seattle Suburbia”.

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Works

Daughter of Hauk (Book 1 of the Raven Chronicles)

What would you do, if you found out your life was a lie?

After you were dead?

Arwenna Shalian spent her life in loyal service to a God she was never meant to serve. Tricked by her fellow priests, she betrayed a man she thought she loved by binding a demon to him. One that would send him to the brink of madness.
Can she find a way to forgive herself? And what of Hauk, the God she was Marked to serve? Will He find her and give her the chance to undo what she’s done, or leave her at the mercy of the creatures that torture her soul?

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Available:
Kindle
Paperback
Audiobook

Son of Corse (Book 2 of the Raven Chronicles)

It’s been almost two years since Arwenna banished the Demon Corse from her world. Life has been good. Idyllic, almost.

The illusion is shattered in a heartbeat during her sister’s wedding. Not only are once-dead enemies back, but they’ve stolen Arwenna’s only child, Sera.

The price Arwenna will have to pay to save her daughter is high. Can she muster the strength to make a pact that jeopardizes not just her own soul, but that of an entire world?

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Available:
Kindle

Mark of the Successor
Dominated and controlled by an abusive mother, Lily does what she can to enjoy fleeting moments of normality. When a break from school only provides the opportunity for more abuse at home, the sudden appearance of a stranger turns her world even bleaker. Disappearing without a trace, he has left a lingering fear in Lily. His parting words to her mother, “Have her ready to travel tomorrow,” is something her mind refuses to accept.

Running away is the only answer. But before Lily can execute her plan, a shimmering portal appears in her room. Along with two strangers who promise to help keep her safe. With time running out, she accepts their offer for escape and accompanies them into a brand new world. A world in which she is the kidnapped daughter of a Queen, and the heir to the throne of Tiadar.

Can she find her own strength to overcome both an abusive past and avoid those who would use her as a means to power?

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Available:
Kindle
Paperback

Kick the Can
Dave Smith and his wife, Jocelyn, had waited a long time to have children. And then they were blessed with twins!

The man in the suit that greeted Dave as he saw his children for the first time gave him chills. Dave needed to spend the next twelve years preparing to play a game that would change their lives forever.

Because playing this game could kill you.

Kick the can

Available:
Kindle

Contact

Twitter: @DaughterHauk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KateMarie-Collins/217255151699492

Blog: http://www.katemariecollins.wordpress.com