Friday, October 31, 2014

Trailer Reveal: The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

The Casquette Girls
by Alys Arden
(The Casquette Girls #1)
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.

* * *

After the Storm of the Century rips apart New Orleans, Adele Le Moyne and her father are among the first to return to the city following the mandatory evacuation. Adele wants nothing more than for life to return to normal, but with the silent city resembling a mold-infested war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal will have to be redefined.

Events too unnatural – even for New Orleans – lead Adele to an attic that has been sealed for three hundred years, and the chaos she unleashes threatens not only her life but everyone she knows.

Caught suddenly in a hurricane of eighteenth-century myths and monsters, Adele must quickly untangle a web of magic that links the climbing murder rate back to her own ancestors. But who can you trust in a city where everyone has a secret, and where keeping them can be a matter of life and death – unless, that is, you’re immortal.


ALYS ARDEN grew up in the Vieux Carré, cut her teeth on the streets of New York, and has worked all around the world since. She still plans to run away with the circus one day.

COVER REVEAL: Lost Blood by Emma Raveling (Chancer, #1)

Lost Blood 
by Emma Raveling 
(Chancer, #1) 
Publication date: TBA
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

They are the Strange, those born of magic, myths, and legends. Beings who defy scientific explanation, whose physical and mental abilities far surpass the limitations of the human body.

When they first appeared, the world resisted, frightened by their powers. But after decades of bloodshed, humanity finally accepted that the Strange were here to stay.

A tenuous peace exists. For now.


Seventeen-year-old Delaney Corbeau is one of the Skilled. As a Chancer, she uses her magic to help humans find everything from misplaced keys and hidden heirlooms to lost pets.

She can find anyone and anything…except the two people she needs the most.

Liam Connelly is an Earth Shifter and son of Brannigan City’s Alpha. When his older brother goes missing, he must turn to his former childhood friend for help. Delaney’s the only person who can locate him.

The problem is they haven’t spoken in four years.

When a reclusive art collector hires Delaney to locate a stolen antique Japanese book, her path crosses with Liam once again. Soon, the simple retrieval job becomes something much more terrifying.

An old evil is stirring and it’s determined to punish every living being in Brannigan City, both Strange and human.

Delaney and Liam will have to work together if they want to survive.

Lost Blood is the first book in Emma Raveling’s new Chancer series, featuring two unlikely allies and a mysterious, thrilling adventure set in a dark world full of monsters and magic.


Emma Raveling writes a wide variety of fiction for teens and adults. She is the author of the young adult urban / contemporary fantasy series, the Ondine Quartet, and Lost Blood, the first installment of the forthcoming young adult urban fantasy series, Chancer. She’s also working on the first book in her new Steel Magic series for adults.

An avid traveler hopelessly addicted to diet coke and coffee, she currently resides in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband and German shepherd.

Author Links:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BOOK BLITZ [Excerpt] Kate Triumph by Shari Arnold

Kate Triumph 
by Shari Arnold 
Publication date: October 16th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Normal is so overrated. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Kate Triumph tells herself everyday. But the truth is she lives in constant fear that someone will discover how not normal she really is. With her startling speed and her unusual ability to heal, Kate believes she’s something of a freak.

Then Andrew Shore arrives.

He claims he’s her father, sticks around for a few days and leaves her a plane ticket. “Come to Mercer Island,” he says. “Give me a chance to get to know you.” Soon Kate is floundering in a world of new: new address, new car, new high school and, of course, new father. Not to mention Zack, her intriguing new neighbor, who makes her want to abandon her steadfast rule of never allowing anyone to get too close. But when she discovers someone is trying to kill her, life for Kate gets a bit more complicated. And a lot less normal.

I’m not used to the wetness of the road, the slick gravel under my feet. I concentrate on the neighborhood around me, memorizing each street sign I pass so I can find my way back to Andrew’s house. But soon the fog moves in, swallowing first the houses and then each and every last street sign. It closes in on me like a cocoon of white and my chest tightens with alarm.
I have no idea where I am. Or how to get home.
I pull my cell phone out of my pocket but it’s dead. I forgot to charge it last night.
I’m cursing my stupidity when just off in the distance I hear it.
I turn around and wait for a figure to arrive — hopefully someone who might know where Andrew lives — but the footsteps stop.
All I can hear is my breathing and a bird chirping somewhere in the neighborhood.
I take a few more steps and when I hear them echo back I pause again.
Tiny tingles of unease trickle down my back but the fog continues to keep its secrets.
I wait for the footsteps to catch up, still convinced they’re helpful rather than dangerous. They’re moving slowly, almost hesitant, as they close the gap between us.
I have to admit as much as I want to see whoever is out there, the idea of someone breaking out of the fog so close to me kind of freaks me out.
I start walking faster this time, almost a jog, but with each step I take, the footsteps echo back twice. Finally, when our steps are in sync I stop and peer through the fog.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” I call out. I grip my arms around me, suddenly cold.
But no one answers me.
I imagined it. That’s the only explanation. I shake it off and start running again, my pace much slower than normal. Then I stop. Nothing. I take four more steps. Silence. A couple more. More silence.
I take a deep breath and relax. This was a stupid idea, running in fog. Next time I’ll know better.
Something sharp is poking my foot from inside my shoe and when I bend down to investigate I find a small white pebble has wedged itself between my shoe and sock. It only takes a second to dig it out and toss it into the road, but when I straighten up I hear it again.
Footsteps. Slow at first and then they quicken to a run.
Are these footsteps new? Or are they the same ones from before? I decide to wait it out before I start moving again.
A twig snaps directly behind me and then the footsteps stop.
I spin around. Nothing. No face, no motion in the fog.
I open my mouth to call out once more but something tells me to stay silent.
A low guttural laugh breaks through the fog directly behind my right ear and my heart stops altogether.


Shari Arnold grew up in California and Utah but now resides in Connecticut, with her husband and two kids, where she finds it difficult to trust a beach without waves. She writes Young Adult fiction because it's her favorite. And occasionally she takes photographs.

Author links:

Interview: Dorianna by Catherine Stine

by Catherine Stine

Genre: YA paranormal/horror

Publisher: Evernight Teen

Date of Publication: October 24, 2014

Word Count: 91K

Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs

Book Description:

Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.

Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop

Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray.

When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.

Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides.

Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of how dire the consequences might be.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Dorianna speaks to the hunger for online followers in all of us—that psychological hole that can never be filled up through followers alone.

What was one of your favorite children's books?

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare was a gem. Even as a kid I loved witches, and this book made me forevermore empathic of, and fascinated by all things witchy.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?

It would be wonderful to fly! I love speeding along, in a motorboat, or train, but wow, powered by wings?! Heck yah. No more traffic jams either.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

I love connecting with readers, at book fairs, conventions, schools, or bookstores, even chatting online at launch parties. Readers inspire me to keep writing.

What book are you reading now?

Just finished Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston. She’s impeccable about her historic research, and this one had a wonderful main character. I’ve been on a witch novel binge because I’m working on a witch novel!

Favorite food?

Almonds, kale, frozen yogurt. I know, weird.

What’s your favorite season/weather?

Fall! I adore Halloween, and the ramp-up to it. I love chilly weather, picking apples, Ginger Snap cookies, wearing ankle boots and fancy scarves.

Beach or Pool?

Beach, for sure! Two of my novels are set in beach towns. A good amount of Dorianna takes place in Coney Island. My novel in progress takes place in Asbury Park. The ocean is my goddess, and I worship it. Love everything about it: the waves, the sandy beach, the boardwalks, skeezy boardwalk amusement parks, hotdogs and soft-serve ice cream cones, The Mermaid Parade.

What is one book everyone should read?

Ack! There are soooo many good ones! If you want to write, read Stephen King’s On Writing. If you want to escape fully into a novel? The Passage by Justin Cronin 

About the Author:

Catherine Stine’s novels span the range from science fiction to paranormal to contemporary. Her futuristic thriller, Fireseed One won finalist spots in YA and Sci-Fi in the 2013 USA News International Book Awards and an Indie Reader Approved notable seal. Its companion novel, Ruby’s Fire was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Awards. Her paranormal YA, Dorianna launches with Evernight Teen in October. She also writes new adult fiction as Kitsy Clare. Her new adult Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship. She loves all things spooky, exotic and edgy, including travel to unusual locations. She also loves hearing from readers.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

EXCERPT + Giveaway: The Fighter (Foundation #2) by Kira Adams

The Fighter (Foundation #2)
by Kira Adams 
Release Date: 10/28/14

Summary from Goodreads:
Junior year was supposed to be some of the best times of his life. Instead, Jace Austin lost not only his mother, but also his identical twin brother. After time to heal and grieve, Jace was able to confront his inner demons, and open himself up to love.

Senior year is shaping up to be more of the same; another day, another roller coaster. His father believes Jace is to blame for the deaths in their family; drinking himself numb. He can’t play the hero all the time, and one day soon Jace is going to come face to face with that reality—and let’s face it, it won’t be pretty.

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“So, how was your day? I noticed you were conveniently MIA at school today. You didn’t answer or return any of my texts or calls either—what’s up?” I caught the hostility in her voice.
“My father is what is up. It was like an episode of the Twilight Zone today. I don’t know what he’s up to, but I’m going to find out,” I vowed.
“Just be careful,” Peyton warned, her face crinkled with worry.
“Always am,” I lied, inching closer to her. I swiveled her chair around so she was now facing me and lowered my lips to hers in a short, sweet kiss. “How’s my song coming along?”
The look on her face gave her away.
“You finished it?” No one had ever written anything about me before. The idea that she went through all the trouble was fascinating.
She nodded, attempting but failing miserably at hiding her grin.
“I want to hear it,” I demanded.
“Now. I’ve been waiting forever!” Okay, to be fair, it had only been a week, but I was anxious.
“You’re making me nervous. What if you don’t like it?” Her hesitation was endearing.
“Not possible.”
She took a deep breath in, exhaling slowly. “Okay.”
She stood up and I took her place in the chair. She began wringing out her hands nervously and rubbing them up and down her jeans.
“Peyton, look at me, it’s just me. You have nothing to be nervous about. Imagine me naked if it helps.”
Her eyes bulged out of her head at my comment.
“Or not…” My cheeks grew red from embarrassment.
She began giggling, shifting the mood.
“Just remember…you asked for it,” she warned.
She took one more deep breath, closing her eyes before opening them again and beginning. “This is called ‘You’.”

Pieces of Me
by Kira Adams 
Release Date: 08/11/14

Summary from Goodreads:
For sixteen year old Peyton Lane, life has never been easy. She’s not popular, overweight, and oh yeah, her sister is embarrassed of her. But over the course of a tumultuous year, everything changes for Peyton. 

Suddenly all eyes are on her and it’s not because she’s fat. From a pair of handsome twins to a couple of dangerously sexy rockers, Peyton will have to find out who she can trust with her heart. From the ups and downs to the twists and turns—this is Peyton’s story of finding one’s voice and growing into your own.

This is a coming of age romance that involves realistic situations and raw emotions. This is Pieces of Me.

Buy Links:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Createspace

About the Author
Krista Pakseresht has always been a dreamer. From the first time she opened her eyes. Creating worlds through words is one thing she is truly talented at. She specializes in Young adult/New adult romance, horror, action, fantasy, and non-fiction under the pen name Kira Adams.

She is the author of the Infinite Love series, the Foundation series, the Darkness Falls series, and the Looking Glass series.

Author Links:
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COVER REVEAL: Reason and Romance by Jenn Young

Reason and Romance
Release Date: 12/09/14

Book Summary:

Being stuck in the godforsaken desert is Adrian Blake’s worst nightmare come true. Senior year is all about making fun memories. It’s not about starting over at a new school and navigating a new Brady Bunch family. It’s really not about living with a sexy, arrogant would-be stepbrother who knows how to push her buttons.

Alex Montgomery is the very definition of a player. The only thing he commits to is a one night stand. He’s exactly the kind of guy she hates­. When she sleeps with him, it’s the biggest mistake of her life. Now she can’t stop thinking about him. Not at school. Not at home.

Sometimes the best mistakes are the ones that you make over and over again…

About the Author
Jenn Young writes primarily Young Adult and New Adult. She used to write contemporary teen drama and romance under the pen name Myrika at Fictionpress. She also used to write under the pen name Moreta. Jenn is an unabashed lover of romance, soap operas, and paranormal/supernatural stories.

When Jenn's not working at her day job, she drinks too much coffee and buys too many books. She loves to hear from readers. Contact her via her website,, or follow her on Twitter at myrikami. She can be found on Facebook too. 

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

EXCERPT + Giveaway: Unstrung by Kendra C. Highley

by Kendra C. Highley
Young Adult Sci Fi/Dystopian
Date Published: October 17, 2014

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Book One: Unstrung Series

Lexa Pate, seventeen-year-old thief extraordinaire, has burned a bridge or two in her life. You don't make a career out of stealing other people's property without making enemies.

When a risky job goes from bad to worse, Lexa and her adopted family find themselves on Precipice Corporation's hit list because they've accidentally stolen the wrong thing--plans for a new model of genetically-engineered super humans. Now every bounty hunter, cop on the take, and snitch in the city is after them.

Lexa's world crumbles around her as she fights to keep her family safe even as someone strolls out of her forgotten past. Quinn claims to know who Lexa really is, but can she trust a stranger she met while robbing his boss?

More importantly, does she really want to know what Quinn has to tell her?

Based on the fairy tale Pinocchio, UNSTRUNG takes you into a near future world where the lines between fake and real are blurred, all that's pristine isn't always innocent, and being a criminal isn't always wrong.

YouTube Video


Chapter One: Chips and Crackers

The safe unlocks with a quiet click. Moving slowly, just in case there’s a tripwire I haven’t disabled, I open the door and reach inside. The chip rests in a foam-lined box. I ease it free and slip it into a small pocket inside the gear pouch strapped around my waist. 
Robbery number sixty-three: success.
I close the safe, then start a cautious trek back to the window. I’m careful to retrace my steps, traveling the exact path I used to come in. So far I’ve bypassed a laser tripwire net, a few pressure plates, and a motion sensor. Kind of disappointing. I thought one of Precipice’s labs would be more heavily secured, and I like a challenge. This room is too easy—just four wide lab tables with thick, black tops, some data equipment on the counters and the wall safe. A few terminals even provide a soft blue glow to work by. Nothing to get in my way or force me into the motion sensor’s path. Much, much too easy.
Which means something’s wrong.
I take a deep breath, trying to refocus. C’mon, Lexa. Time to concentrate, girl.
It’s no good; the nagging feeling I’m in trouble won’t shake loose. The Quad’s businesses aren’t usually lax on security. Their systems are top-notch and with the cops in their pockets, it takes an audacious thief to break into a Precipice Industries building. Honestly, I’m the only one crazy enough to take this job, but being seventeen means I’m allowed to do stupid things, especially for a good paycheck. 
I’m almost back to the window when a cool breeze ripples across my skin, like the climate control system has started. Immediately, a blue light clicks on in the ceiling and my whole body goes numb. The beam has me flash frozen in place. Skies, what is this? Why can’t I move? My mind’s screaming for me to get out of here, to run, but it’s like my legs don’t understand the commands. 
I push against whatever is holding me still, willing it to leave me alone. As if it hears my thoughts, the blue light turns off and I can move again. It’s too late, though—the alarm starts shrieking. I dash for the window and slide onto the ledge. My heart slams in my chest, almost like it’s trying to reboot, which is bad since I’m on the eighth floor and the ground is far below. There’s no time to catch my breath, no time to calm down. I pat my gear pack, feeling for the data chip in the little pocket deep inside. At least I got what I came for. Making it home with my prize in hand will be a different story altogether.
It takes thirty seconds to test my climbing anchors, clip onto my cat-line and swing off the ledge. It takes another thirty seconds to rappel down the side of the brick building. The alarm is still shrieking overhead. From the dark of the alley, each light that comes on in the windows makes me move faster. At one point, a member of the night watch peeks outside. I flatten against the wall. This is going to be a close one. Maybe the closest yet.
A bead of sweat runs down my chest, trickling its way into my navel. It’s torture, but I stay pressed against the wall. Another bead follows the first, then another. I want to wipe them away so badly I have to grit my teeth to stay my hand. If I get caught…no, I can’t think about that right now. I won’t get caught.
After the guard moves away from the window, I punch the release on my climbing anchors, jumping clear as they fall to the ground from the roof. My cat-line comes down in a tangled wad. No time to fix it. I shove the whole kit—anchors, line and descent vest—into the saddlebag compartment on the back of my hover bike. She comes to life with a gentle hum and the propulsions on the bottom glow a faint purple. I special ordered that color because I like a little flash. If I’m going to get caught, I’ll do it with style. 
I’d rather not get caught, though. 
Sirens wail in the distance, closing fast. Hunched over the handle bars, I ease the bike onto the street behind the lab, then kick it into glide mode. The shadows of giant skyscrapers bear silent witness to my flight. In the clean order of Triarch City, I’m the one bit of chaos those buildings and their perfect little occupants might experience in the next week. Maren—the Quad’s leader—sees to that. Square pegs like me don’t fit into her world order.
Which is why the sirens are getting closer.
I kick the throttle into flight mode as I enter the ramp to the highway. The hover bike runs like molten glass and I streak down the dark street in a burst of orange light. Streetlamps become laser beams, their flashes the only indicator of just how fast I’m going. This time of night, there isn’t much traffic; good thing, because this run is dicey enough. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like endangering innocent people in the name of a job. 
I hazard a look in my side mirrors. Flashing lights give chase. Stars, they’ve sent a hover tank after me. I have a jamming signal built into the bike’s computer, which keeps them from seeing me on their scanner. They have to rely on a visual search. Not easy to do—the tanks have to fly much higher than my bike, and they aren’t as fast. I have to hope speed’s enough to keep them at bay. My capture would make the cops’ night, what with the reward and all. I shiver, thinking about what awaits me in jail, especially since my boss wouldn’t bail me out. I’d be on my own.
The highway curves around the lake and I lean into the turn, zipping past the last monorail station. Beyond the empty train platform, the road stretches dark and cold, leading to the warehouse district on the far side of the lake. Once I cross the bridge, I’ll be in the home stretch. I hit the boosters and the hover bike lurches forward, the thrusters throwing off a brilliant yellow glow that’s reflected in the water under the bridge. The flashing lights drop back. 
The exit ramp at the end of the line comes up fast. I cut back on the throttle and grind my way onto the side streets, taking a hard turn between two steel-sided warehouses. At the end of the alley, I drop the bike into glide mode and the thrusters change back to purple. Another hard turn—more slowly this time—and the bike pops through the narrow doorway into Turpin’s building. The metal door rolls down automatically once I’m safely inside. Holding my breath, I cut the engine so the cops won’t know I’m here. It takes a minute or two for all the sirens to pass into the distance. When they do, I permit myself a sigh of relief. Just the one. 
I pull off my helmet and toss it in the corner, where it clatters against plastic boxes used to maintain our front as a snack foods distributer. My boss likes to joke that we sell crackers during the day and steal chips at night. Never found that funny, to tell the truth. 
“You’re back early,” Jole’s voice echoes through the warehouse from the overhead speaker.
“Ran into a problem.”
“Huh,” he says. “Guess that’s why the boss told me ‘full measures.’”
I give the camera in the corner a put-out look. “Seriously?”
Grumbling, I prepare to strip. My hair streams down my back, damp with sweat earned during the chase. Pissed at the formality or not, it feels good to peel off my leather jacket, boots and tight, black jumpsuit. I hate the jumpsuit, always feeling like a wannabe ninja wearing the thing. Occupational hazard. 
In my tank and boy shorts, I pad barefoot across the concrete floor to a door marked “authorized personnel only,” and pose for the security camera. Hand on my hip, I blow Jole a kiss. 
“You know your charms don’t work on me,” he says. 
“Yeah, yeah. Next time I’m out, I’ll pick up a boyfriend for you.”
“Really? That would be great. I like broad shoulders and a nice smile.”
“Don’t we all?” I ask. “Now, could you open the damn door?”
The lock clanks open. 
I enter a pea-green hallway and stop when the door behind me relocks. My skin crawls with the tingle of a full body scan before a light flashes up ahead. We’re going all out with security tonight. The boss must be feeling extra paranoid. What, does he think I’ve been compromised. Or worse, copied? Who’d they expect? One of Maren’s Bolt girls? Sure, she has an army of artificial humans, but it’s too expensive to copy real people just for the sake of spying on mid-level criminals.
The scan finishes and a green light flashes. “See? Real girl.”
“That’s what the cellular detector says,” Jole answers. “Keep walking.”
I pass through the second door into a clinical white hallway—the clean room—so Jole can scan me for electronic tracking devices. I don’t know why, but the clean room always gives me the shakes. Something about the whiteness of it. White floor, white ceiling, white…
“Lexa? Turpin wants to see you. Now.”
Jole’s voice reverberates off the hard walls and shakes me loose from whatever hold the white hallway has. I’m in trouble; that’s enough to get my attention. 
He buzzes me through the last door and the smell of mildewed tile seems like a reward after the night I’ve had. The locker room’s showers keep the air humid; I can almost feel the warm water on my shoulders. But no, a soak will have to wait, because Turpin’s summons has to be answered. Sighing, I pull a pair of jeans and sneakers out of my locker. “Now” doesn’t mean “right this second” when I’m in my underwear, no matter how pissed off the boss is. 
The adrenaline has worn off and getting dressed takes a lot of energy. Exhausted, I head for the stairwell with low expectations.
Turpin lives on the third floor of the warehouse, and his digs look less industrial than mine or Jole’s. The boss has carpet, even in the hallway leading to his office, and old-timey wall sconces with yellow light bulbs put off a soft glow. I pause before the heavy steel door, trying to gather my excuses into a bouquet of half-truths before the yelling starts.
“I know you’re out there,” comes Turpin’s muffled shout. 
Well, of course he does. Cameras never lie. I push the door open, head downcast, hoping he’ll think I’m being contrite. 
“Oh, cut the crap, Lexa,” Turpin says the second I cross the threshold. He sits up straight in his antique leather chair, hands folded on his wooden desk. “You wouldn’t know humble if it tackled your ass.”
Surprised into laughing, I look up. Turpin glares back and asks, “What happened tonight?”
I choke on a laugh. What had happened? “I got in just fine, through the eighth-floor window, like you told me.” Now for the tricky part. “The laser cutter worked perfectly—but don’t tell Jole. His ego doesn’t need stoking. Anyway, I found the safe, decoded the lock, and took the chip. I was on my way out when I ran into a new type of security protocol. I saw this flash of light in the ceiling and was paralyzed for a moment. When I could move again, the alarm went shrieking all to hell.”
Turpin’s face becomes guarded. “I’ve never heard of a security measure that paralyzes someone. Are you sure you didn’t imagine it?”
I glare at him—my imagination isn’t that good. “No. It was like my feet were glued to the floor. I couldn’t move.”
He takes off his glasses. So what if we can cure blindness; Turpin likes anachronistic things more than perfect eyesight, which also explains the wool sport coat and the gray hair even though he’s only forty.
“Maren didn’t have anything like that when I worked at Precipice,” he says. “I need to put out some feelers, see if I can’t figure out what this new safety measure is.”
“Thanks.” If anyone can find the source of the trip light, it’s Turpin. In a previous life, he’d been a security expert. The best thieves are always halfway legitimate, working right under the noses of their marks. “So now what?”
“You lie low for a few days.”
I stare at the ceiling, supplicating to the crown molding for intercession from this vile punishment. “A vacation! Maybe I should screw up more often.”
“This isn’t the time for sarcasm.” Turpin shoves his glasses onto his face. “We’re close to cracking Maren’s defense systems and our clients aren’t known for patience. Your little mistake may have cost us weeks, maybe months. Do you want to explain to our employers why we’re behind schedule?”
Oh, Stars, anything but that. Being in the same room as our clients gives me the creepy-crawlies and their bodyguards always breathe down my neck like they’d enjoy sending me to the afterlife. “No, I wouldn’t.”
“And I trust you wouldn’t like the Quad to catch you, either, right? We stole plans for the K400s. They may be early-gen artificials, and obsolete, but they aren’t going to give us a pass on this. You want to end up in their hands?” 
The ice in his tone matches the cold feeling in my stomach. Suddenly the clients don’t seem so frightening. “Certainly not.”
“Then you’re grounded until further notice,” Turpin says. “Jole could use some help cracking the chip—that’ll be your assignment during downtime. Find out what the K400 data can tell us about later models. Until we make the handoff, stay inside.”
Holding in a snort takes effort, but I give him a nice, obedient smile. Turpin knows that working on tech is my least favorite chore. Helping Jole is punishment, pure and simple. The sick thing is, I know I deserve it. I failed. 
“Yes, sir.”
I turn slowly and close the door with a quiet snap once I’m in the hall. How did I mess up like this? I pride myself on being the most careful “acquisitions expert” Turpin has ever had. With measured steps, reeking of discipline for Turpin’s cameras, I stroll to the locker room for my shower. Greeted once again by the smell of mildew, I take a seat on the metal bench.
It’s only then that I let go and punch the locker door.

About the Author

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important cats. This, according to the cats, is her most crucial job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica. If she's not writing, she's reading. If she's not writing or reading, she's likely a little cranky.

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