Coded In Stone: Chapter TWO continued…

Jocelyn slapped the magazine shut. “You hate it. I knew it. I know you want to go simple and just get it over with, Dannika, but this just looked like you.”

Dannika was overcome with a feeling she had never imagined she would ever have. It hit home that she was going to be the center of attention for something good, something people celebrated, and wanted to be a part of. So different from the usual reasons she drew attention to herself. She tucked her chin as she felt a tear roll down her cheek

Jocelyn frowned a little. “Well, I didn’t mean to make you sad.”

“No, Joc. It’s perfect. It’s exactly what I want. It’s gonna be amazing. I guess it just made me think that…”

“Yes, sweetie, think that what.”

“That I wish my real mom could be there, you know.”

Dannika couldn’t hold back the tears then. She’d never really dreamed about her wedding day, but it was almost here. Ivan would give her away, and she actually had a sister and three amazing friends to be bridesmaids. But despite how lucky she felt for all of these people in her life, it just didn’t make up for not having her mother. She’d always thought that by the time she got married—that is if she ever did—that she would have found her mother by then.

Jocelyn tugged her hair. “I know. I’m so sorry, Dannika. But you do have people that love you. And you’ve got Bain. He’ll be good to you. You’re going to be okay now.”

Dannika just nodded, but now she’d planted her face into Jocelyn’s lap. She let the tears come and tried to let all of the emotions attached to those tears slide away, imagining them as a slippery water slide, and the hurtful emotions would slide on down and be washed away (which was some new pop-psychology stunt Witt was trying with her). After she felt it all had passed, she sat up and wiped at her eyes.

“Do you think it’s expensive, all of this?” Dannika pointed to the page, and imagined herself in that dress, her black hair braided back into a messy bun, those long sleeves barely covering her black diamond ring.

Jocelyn smiled. “Bethie gave me the go-ahead.”

“So, she loved it, too?”

“She said it was perfect.”

“Then let’s do it.”

“I’m on it,” Jocelyn closed the magazine and stood. “I have to get some paperwork done, but I’m planning to hit the Dance Hall tonight. Wrangler Joe is playing again, finally.”

“Right.”

“Oh, and that Tank guy. He’s playing, too.”

Dannika laughed. Tank and his sister, Raile, had been introduced to IPA on their last case, and Raile was new discovered Visionary. Tank was supposed to go back home to Montana, but apparently the memory scan idea freaked him out and Ivan had the bright idea of introducing him to Wrangler Joe that takes care of everything up at the Wilderness Retreat. Seems Wrangler Joe and Tank hit it off, and Joe picked up on Tank’s skill with the horses. Not to mention Tank could play a mean harmonica.

It was a good thing. Raile didn’t want to have to leave Tank behind, and Joe was getting older and could certainly use the help. But keeping Tank meant keeping Ms. Robinson, the colorful woman in her mid-fifties that had taken in Dannika, Raile and Tank when they were on the run in the last case. Turns out she’s got a criminal record of her own and has a knack for all things crime-related, so she could pose some serious risk to IPA.

But Tank talked Raile into refusing to accept IPA’s agreement without a place for Ms. Robinson at IPA. So far, she’d taken up as the bartender at the Dance Hall and assisted Jocelyn at Research. Apparently, Jocelyn loved working Ms. Robinson, which Dannika still couldn’t understand.

Dannika saw a text come through. It was Bain.

Bain: Hey D. Miss you. I’m forcing myself into that hole just to dance with you tonight.
Dannika: Bain, you don’t have to do that. I’ll come up.
Bain: No, I can do it. For you, I’ll do anything. See you at 8.
Dannika: K. Love you.
Bain: I Love you, Dannika. I can’t wait to marry you.
Dannika: Yeah, me too.

Daylea, Dannika’s twin sister, ran through the door, her arms overflowing with flowers of all kinds. Her blond hair was pulled back into a high ponytail and she wore a short tennis skirt with a sleeveless athletic tank showing off her perfectly toned arms.

“Hey sis, what’s all this?”

Daylea set the flowers on the table. She was panting hard and seemed flustered. “This wedding is going to be here before we know it, D. We have got to pick out flowers, not to mention a dress and bridesmaid dresses and whatever the groomsmen are going to wear, I can’t even imagine what you’ll pick for that…”

“It’s all done. It’s all been chosen.”

“What? How..what are you talking about? I thought you were leaving this all up to me?” Daylea’s face was squished up an unappealing expression and Dannika could tell this really was a shock to Daylea.

“Well, I mean, I was fine with you doing everything, but then Jocelyn showed me this magazine and it had a wedding in a forest, and the dresses and the hair and the flowers and the guys, were all just, perfect. So I told her to go for it.”

“What? You’re letting Jocelyn plan your wedding now? What about me? I am your sister. Your twin sister, Dannika. You said I could plan the wedding.” Daylea was huffing out the words by this time, and Dannika was afraid she might grow some claws.

“Dude. Chill out. Look, Daylea, you know me. I don’t really care too much about all this stuff, as long as at the end, Bain and I are together forever. I’m really sorry, but I didn’t realize this was so important to you.”

“Of course it’s important to me. You’re my sister and I never in a million years thought someone would marry you, so…” Daylea slammed her hand over her mouth and her eyes were wide.

Dannika stood, glaring at Daylea, and tucked her phone in her pocket. Her heart had sunk to her stomach with Daylea’s words, but she refused to let Daylea get the best of her, whether she meant to or not. “Well, I’m sure Jocelyn could use some help. It’s all been decided.” Dannika picked up one small white lily and smelled it. She kept it as she walked through painted stage curtain doorway.

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Coded In Stone CHAPTER TWO!!

CHAPTER TWO

Dannika sat in the dining room, sipping Earl Gray tea. It had been tough to give up coffee, but she’d heard too much coffee can make your hair and nails brittle, and not that she was the girly type—hell, no—but she was going to be a bride, so that was as good excuse as any to want to be pretty for just one day.

“Hey, girl,” Jocelyn entered the grand doorway. Jocelyn’s hair was growing out a bit (for the wedding—her first stint as a bridesmaid) and Dannika could swear she was getting skinnier than the stick she already was. But people did weird things when it came to weddings, including herself. She was discovering all kinds of strangeness about herself—like that she actually cared about things like the color the dresses and the flowers, and whether the groomsmen wore tuxes or suits.

“Hey J,” Dannika nodded to Jocelyn, “what’s up? No work today?”

“No, I’m working, but I wanted to show you something.” Jocelyn was the head at Research, and IPA had several top prority projects in development. Jocelyn was crazy busy, so Dannika rarely got to hang out with her. This was a nice surprise.

Dannika noticed the magazine tucked beneath Jocelyn’s arm. Jocelyn took a deep breath, then smiled at Dannika. “Now listen D, don’t make a decision right away, just bear with me, okay?”

“Anything for you.” Dannika smiled and scooted her chair in closer to Jocelyn. She had no idea what Jocelyn could be talking about, but she did know that Jocelyn favored the occasional lacy thing and seemed a little hot on the color pink lately, so Dannika felt a twinge of nerves hit her stomach. She didn’t mind telling people when they were complete freaking idiots, but there was a handful of people in her small little world that she couldn’t stand to hurt.

Jocelyn’s tiny mouth pierced together and she opened the magazine to a page she had turned down. As Jocelyn was turning the page, Dannika could see that it was a bridal magazine. Jocelyn must have taken a little trip up to the city. Either that or the new secretary Esper let her borrow one from her stash. Dannika almost felt bad for the poor lady, in her mid-forties, a new secretary at IPA, and all Dannika ever saw her do was pour over Bridal magazines.

Jocelyn closed the magazine and looked up at the ceiling.

“Just show me, J!” Dannika laughed. “I’m not going to rip it up.”

“Okay, Okay!” Jocelyn was slowly opening up to the page again, “but I know you have your own ideas about how everything is going to be, but since you and Bain have moved up the wedding date, I thought that since there isn’t much time, maybe you could use some help picking out those really important things, and…”

“Just show me the picture,” Dannika smirked.

“Okay.” Jocleyn opened the magazine to a spread of a beautiful wedding in a forest. The bridesmaids strapless dresses were a dark grassy green on top with a long, bright maroon A-line skirt that reached the forest floor. Their hair had all been dyed black and pulled back into tight up-dos. The groomsmen wore matching grassy green suit coats on top, and maroon pants (their hair wasn’t dyed, thank God). The groom wore a full black suit, the coat open with only a white t-shirt underneath. And the bride; the bride was the best part. Her dress was a white and smooth strapless top with contrasting sheer black belle sleeves that ran just past her wrists, and a straight black skirt nuzzled the ground. Her feet were bare, and she held a simple bouquet with flower in deep reds, whites, and greens.

It was the most beautiful thing Dannika had ever seen. She sat speechless, her thoughts and her heart racing. The wedding was less than two weeks away, and she had figured she’d just run up to the city one day and grab the first cool dress she saw, but now she didn’t want the daily special at some random bridal shop.

She wanted the wedding on that magazine page.

Chapter Two to be continued…

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CODED IN STONE Chapter One(uncut) continued…

THE_IN_BETWEEN_cover_final

The burning pain was gone from her head but now she felt the heat rush to her cheeks as her pulse raced. Her chest rose and fell in quick spurts as the heavy breaths escaped her nose. Her mouth was tense as she glanced to Witt, like he might have some explanation.

“Adie?” Witt asked, “You okay?”

The students all seems to go blurry, the entire auditorium seemingly spinning. She locked in on the one face that wasn’t fuzzy, the dreadlock man, his face was crystal clear. He winked at her and smiled with perfect teeth.

Adie jumped from her seat and busted through the back auditorium door.

Adie felt her feet moving quickly, as she scurried across the University of Colorado campus, across patches of snow and concrete, between dorm halls and classroom buildings. She crossed a basketball court where a lone basketball sat just at midcourt. She sprinted toward it and imagined herself on a soccer field, state championships, craving that feel of safety and success.

Before this all happened, soccer had made her life comfortable, it gave her direction, strength to be who she was because she was damn good at being a star athlete. She didn’t have to pretend to be anything else, or let down her guard to find out who she really was.

As she reached the ball she stretched that long leg of hers back and turned her foot to the side to position it for a solid connection with the basketball. She felt that amazing feeling as her foot struck the ball and the ball went sailing through the air, at waist height it traveled thirty or so yards, stopped and rolled another twenty.

Adie stopped, caught her breath and placed her hands on her hips. The chill in the air nipped at her moist hairline and sent a chill down her neck.

“Adie, wait!”

Adie turned and saw Witt running after her.

“Nice kick,” he said as he caught up to her. “Feel better?”

Adie smiled. “Yeah, I guess I kind of do. Nailing the crap out of a soccer ball always did make me feel like I was back on top, you know?”

Witt tossed those bangs out of his eyes and shook his head, “No, not really. But when a patient proves a theory of mine, I kind of get a good buzz.”

“Right,” Adie said, and crossed her arms, looking over Witt’s shoulder, making sure he wasn’t being followed.

Witt placed a hand on her shoulder, which sent some strangely pleasurable electric current down her arm and into her chest. “What happened in there, Adie?”

“You tell me.” Adie shrugged. “All I know is suddenly everyone was staring at me.”

“That couldn’t have been all you know about this, Adie. You screamed at the top of your lungs something like ‘Who are they?’ and had a terrified expression on your face. You know you can’t tell Jeff or he will make you go back to IPA this very second. So if you want a few more days of vacation, looks like I’m your only option.”

“Or I could just keep it to myself.”

“You Dad is going to ask questions, Adie. We need to talk this through.”

Adie sighed deep. He was right. Her dad would be on top of that like a hog on mud and if her mother caught wind of it, getting back to ‘Puerto Rico’ would be ridiculously hard.

“Okay, so you know that guy, the one that kept challenging you with the questions?”

“Yeah,” Witt said smugly, “had some ego, didn’t he?”

Adie shrugged. Until dreadlock man went all wizardy on her, she was thinking he actually had some really good points. “Well, he did this thing to me.”

“What do you mean? He was no where near you.”

“I know. When I looked at him, he literally locked my eyes to his. Like superglue. I couldn’t move my eyes away from his, and it sent this raging burning sensation through my head. After a few minutes of this, he sent these little white sparkles of light from his eyes to mine. Like a ray of them or something. And then I saw the black figures, like I did back in Montana. I saw them again back at IPA in the mirror in my bedroom, but the figures were different, and I was just ready to come home for a visit, so I didn’t tell anyone.”

Adie watched Witt’s eyes stare into hers, but she knew his mind was somewhere else. He did this sometimes, as if looking right through her. She got a little bored of his spacing off. “So, I’m cancelling dinner with the parents—then I’m calling Bethie.”

Witt seemed to perk at Bethie’s name, then paused and placed a finger at his lips. “One thing, Adie. Are you sure you weren’t dreaming? Like, fell asleep for moment in the auditorium. Just dreamed that this guy in our class locked in your stare and shot you some sparkly light and visions?”

Adie paused. She hadn’t even considered that possibility. It could have been a dream. When she woke up with everyone staring at her, the dreadlock man could have just been smiling at her because the daughter of the Doctorate level professor of psychology—a professor that dreadlock man had just challengened on several theories of inherited psychological traits—woke up screaming from some dream, disrupted her father’s big presentation, and gave dreadlock man some kind of personal satisfaction.

“Maybe it was. I guess it could have been a dream. It just seemed so real.”

Witt tilted his head toward her. “Don’t they all seem so real?”

Adie nodded. “God, I hate this sometimes. It can just be so confusing—what’s real, what’s not real.”

Witt grabbed her hand and placed it on his heart. “Well, I can tell you one thing. This,” he pressed her hand deeper into his chest, “is real.”

A vision raced through Adie’s mind. A dream she had had when Witt was being held hostage in the last case. She had entered the door where he was lying on the floor, a knife in his side, and she had thought nothing to lean down and kiss him. It had been the best kiss she had ever had with anyone. But that wasn’t real. That had been a dream. She yanked her hand away.

“That’s enough, Witt. Go call Jago. You two figure out if it was my dream or not, if you’re so damn smart. I’ll hold off on Bethie. See you at dinner.”

Witt turned to walk back toward the auditorium. Adie just watched him. Even the back of him—shirt half-untucked, some paper sticking out of back pockets, his old shoes probably from some thrift store—was handsome in a way Jeff wasn’t. Where Jeff had every hair in place, Witt had none. Where Jeff had clothes that showed off his lean muscles and perfect anatomy, Witt preferred loose t-shirts and baggy Levis jeans. No two men more different could be tugging at opposite sides of her heart without anyone but her knowing it.

She turned toward the other end of campus, definitely not going back to the auditorium, and figured she’d catch the bus back to the side of town where her parents lived. As she turned, her foot stumbled into something. The basketball she had kicked only moments earlier sat at her foot.

Her breath caught as she quickly darted her eyes around her. How could that be? She had nailed that ball and watched it roll for several yards.

Nearly blending in with one of the dorm buildings, dreadlock man was leaning against the old brick. He stared directly at Adie, smoking a cigarette. What was with this guy? What did he want?

She tried to monitor how brave she actually felt at the moment. Maybe if she approached him, she’d know. Surely she wasn’t dreaming at that moment, and if he did the crazy white light thing again with his eyes, she’d know that what happened in the auditorium wasn’t a dream either. But would it be safe?

The campus was suddenly like a ghost town, no one in sight. Where were all the students? She’d done braver things in her life than approach a stranger. She took a deep breath and started to walk toward him. He watched every step as she closed in on him. Twenty yards away. Fifteen. Ten. Five. She stopped.
“That stuff’ll kill you, you know.” She said, pointing toward the pack of cigarettes in his hand.

Dreadlock man smiled and threw the cigarette to the ground, squishing it out with his Vann’s sneakers. “Yep, I know,” he answered. “You that professor’s daughter?”

Adie’s chest tightened, but she made the now seemingly super stupid decision to be standing in front of him, and now she’d have to follow through. She looked around, still no one strolling the grounds. “Yeah, that’s me. Why?”

“I could just tell. You act just like him.”

“What do you mean, I act like him? You don’t even know him. Or me.” She could feel herself removing eye contact with dreadlock man every few seconds, hoping he wouldn’t lock her into some trance again.

“Sure about that?” He asked. Then he smirked and walked away.

“Wait. Yes. I’m sure. Do I know you? Wait, please.” She started to run toward him, but he turned his head over his shoulder and put a hand up.

“We’re done for today, Adie,” he said. “Just go home.”

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SECRET STREET cont. (episode 3!)- uncut

The secrets continue….

Jemily sipped the hot coffee as she read the classifieds line by line. She hoped that some amazing job would jump out at her from the page and slap her in the face but all the bold and italics and dark boxes casing the small text blurred together. Even if she were qualified for anything besides waiting tables or data entry—which she wasn’t—nothing got her attention.

Fenn’s footsteps were loud and steady coming down the stairs and Jemily jumped from her stool and pulled out a bowl. She poured some super sugary cereal with a splash of milk, nearly cringing at where that kind of meal fit on the food pyramid, but figured Fenn deserved a treat today.

“Any visitors in your room last night, Fennie?” she asked him, giving him a peck on the cheek.

“No mommy.”

“Well, good.”

“But I like when Ms. Eleanor visits, Mommy,” Fennie said, jumping onto the stool, wide eyed with excitement at his breakfast.

Jemily picked her words carefully. “Sure you do, sweetie, but I really hoped you got a full night’s sleep.”

She was scared to death to send him back to that preschool, but what other choice did she have? Neil had been notified of the situation and he got some troops trolling the area the days Fenn had school. Neil might be acting weird and stand offish but at least he was helping take care of Fenn.

Imagining cop cars patrolling the preschool neighborhood got her thinking again. Maybe Minnie was right. Jemily was not cop material. It all sounds good when those officers share stories of being out there saving the world, but the idea of actually being in the middle of the action was a little terrifying. Maybe it was Neil that even turned her thoughts in that direction. Maybe it was time to move on.

“Mommy, this is the best breakfast ever!” Fenn said through a mouthful of artificial coloring.

Jemily woke from her daydream and grabbed the box of cereal before Fenn got any ideas about a second helping of pure sugar. “Well, you deserve it, but only one bowl.”

“You’re the best mommy ever, too.” Jemily felt that dam set in, the one where she really wanted to cry, but something held her back. She often felt sad for Fenn. She hadn’t heard from his mom in a while, and he was clearly forgetting her. She and Fenn were similar that way. Jemily wondered if she should give up on any word from her Dad.

Jemily walked over to Fenn and wrapped her arms around his tiny shoulders. He was such a precious little boy. She kissed his head and smelled his strawberry-shampooed hair. As she watched him jump down from the stool and pull on his coat, she wondered if her own kids would be much like him. Or if she would even have any.

“Time to go, right Mommy?”

“Right, Fennie.”

Jemily reached down to grab her cup of coffee and place it in the dishwasher before heading out to take Fenn to school, and attend her own classes. Her eyes scanned the paper once more and a listing seemed to grab her attention. The words weren’t bolded. No italics. No big black box around the job listing. Yet somehow the words seem to pop from the page.

“Just a sec, Fennie.”

Jemily leaned down to read the listing.

‘Study hall monitor needed at East City High School. No teaching experience required; potential for some tutoring of basic subjects. Needed immediately.’

East City High School was where Jemily had graduated only two years earlier. Seemed easy enough. Temporary job. Couldn’t be that hard to sit at the front of a class and make a bunch of kids be quiet. Of course, she was still kind of a kid herself, not to mention some of them would have been in high school with her, so she knew they might not listen. But Tina was there, and where Tina was, so was gossip. If nothing else, it would give her something to do while she kept looking for something better, and maybe do a little eavesdropping if she could. It was worth looking into.

Jemily scanned her outfit—skinny jeans, old converse tennis shoes, and a old band tee under a gray cardigan—and knew she’d need to rethink her clothing to age her appearance a little.

“Hold on tight, Fennie. Be right back.”

Jemily ran upstairs and found some nice black pants. Only one blouse in her closet was ironed, and it certainly wasn’t her favorite, but it would probably add ten years to her age. She added her mom’s old broach to add about ten more. She removed her contact lenses and put on her glasses. She wanted to go for heels but figured a nice pair of business looking flats might gain more respect. After she threw her new self together, she glanced in the mirror. She looked like a little girl playing secretary but they were in a hurry and it was all she could find. She pulled up her hair into a bun, put on some taupe lipstick, and prayed that Neil Caddell would never have to see her this way.

“Okay, Fennie. I’m ready. Grab your backpack,” she yelled as she grabbed her purse and picked through her coat closet trying to find something that looked grown up. She settled for a hunter green rain parka.

“Why’d you change, Mommy?” Fenn asked, having trouble getting the right side strap of his backpack up onto his shoulder.

Jemily kneeled down and smiled. She wasn’t sure why she felt so confident about this sudden change of potential opportunity, but she just did. She put a hand on his shoulder. “Because today, Mommy is getting a job.”

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Coded In Stone – Chapter One

Read Chapter One (uncut) – Coded In Stone

Adie Brighton sat at the back of the auditorium, chewing at a cuticle while she watched her dad and Witt give a presentation on inherited traits in psychology. As Witt clicked at the computer, slides flashed across the screen.

Adie soaked in the view for a moment; a room full of ambitious future psychologists, hanging on every word her dad and Witt would say. Occasionally one would raise their hand into the air, an impatient look on their face as if Witt wasn’t moving along fast enough. So many questions, too few answers. That’s what fascinated so many about the human brain, but most people didn’t think about it beyond what they see in everyday life. She wondered if any of those students would ever end up at IPA the way Witt did.

She also wondered what it might be like to be one of those students. To be in college for real. She had tried once, but her dreams changed that pretty quickly for her. Now she wasn’t sure she’d ever be sitting in a class like this, and something about that felt okay.

Witt called out to the anxious grad student. “Yes, you there.” He swung those long curly brown locks out of his eyes and pointed out to the student. It reminded Adie of the day they met, when her parents had invited Witt to dinner, totally trying to set them up, and he’d left with an invitation to go to lunch. If Jeff hadn’t already been in the picture, she was sure she’d be with Witt. So, a part of her couldn’t help but still smile when he’d catch her eye, and her heart didn’t forget to notice it either, always speeding up when Witt did nothing more than step into a room.

“So, if some inherited traits can carry through to the next generation, or even skip a generation, does that give that child any hope of overcoming something that affected the parent?” The eager student asked. Adie thought him odd for a grad student in psychology. He looked mid-to late forties and his hair was well on its way to dread locks, but only just below his chin. He had a five o’clock shadow and eyelashes long enough for Adie to notice from the back of the room. He wore a suit that looked straight out of J-Crew, as trying to offset everything from the neck up. But handsome enough, Adie thought.

Witt paused before he answered. He glanced up at Adie and smiled. Adie felt her chest tighten and took a deep breath. Why did he do things like that? He knew where she stood. She loved Jeff, was sticking with IPA and sticking with Jeff. Her decision was made.

“Good question,” Witt paused for a moment as he thought. “Of course we have to remember that while the individual inherits all of these traits such as, having brown hair,” Witt ruffled his own unruly hair, “or having a history of high blood pressure or whatever it might be, there is still no cast-iron guarantee that the child will demonstrate that trait. There is always a degree of unpredictability in genetic science.”

“Hmm.” The dreadlocked man mused. “But surely that undermines your whole research? You can’t have it both ways, either traits are inherited and create the child’s future or they don’t.”

Adie’s Dad stepped in. “Excuse me, but I think we might be forgetting how these genetic traits operate. The parent has certain markers coded into their DNA which are, as you say passed down to the child. But here’s the thing: those genetic codes need to be activated inside the DNA of the child by their environment or how they live their life. If someone with a parental history of high blood pressure leads a healthy life and never east fatty foods then there is a good chance that they may never ‘activate’ that high-blood pressure trait. Here, I have some studies and figures here that we may want to remember…”

Adie could feel the tension. Witt didn’t seem to be bothered by the interrogation of knowledge, but Adie’s Dad’s face seemed flushed. He stumbled over his words and his actions appeared more frustrated. After he completed a very confusing sentence, he glanced up at Adie and their eyes locked. She wondered if he was starting to feel his age. Maybe he was looking to her for comfort, or approval. After a moment he looked away, and nodded his head to Witt to move forward in the presentation.

That’s when Adie felt another set of eyes on her. Her head felt hot and a sharp pain darted through her temples. She placed her hands up to her temples and rubbed, but the pain didn’t subside. She took a deep breath and forced her gaze up to the front of the auditorium. She hadn’t felt a stare burn through her like that since the day she met Jeff at her high school. Jeff had hidden beneath the identity of a student-teacher, but when she had one of her dreams smack in the middle of class, she’d felt that same burning. That of someone staring at her with an intensity that far exceeded that of the occasional glance or a friendly smile. It the stare of someone that wanted something from her. That knew something about her.

She let the breath out as she realized this feeling was not Witt catching a casual peek her way or her Dad sending her some message via facial expression. She scanned the room, and found the source; the man with the semi-dread lock hairdo, his eyes piercing through her. He was barely turned around at his seat, his chin peeking just beyond his shoulder enough that his eyes could lock with hers. Adie tried to look away, but she couldn’t. Her eyes felt as if they were physically glued to his. She couldn’t see the color of his eyes from their distance—easily twenty rows down—but she could feel the burn grow more intense. She wanted to look away so bad. It was too much, too painful, the depth of the pain sinking deeper into the center of her skull. She tried turning her head, but her eyes wouldn’t leave his. They were on fire, the heat coming and going in waves, the way it does when sitting by a campfire, when the flames rise the heat follows, then they fall and it cools. She began to breathe deeper, faster.

She wondered if this was how helpless it might feel when you are first blind. She may as well be blind for that moment because no matter how hard she tried, her eyes would not leave his. She clenched her teeth and gave it one more try, but as she strained to look away, the heat only intensified.

She knew she couldn’t make a scene, not in the middle of the presentation. Not only because it could reveal something about her and Witt, but her Dad might easily get worried, or suspicious. She was supposed to be home from Puerto Rico on a short Christmas break—two weeks was all she was supposedly granted—then it was back to USA rookie soccer camp. The last thing she needed was to give her dad a reason to keep her from going back.

She felt small beads of sweat form at her hairline as the young man loosened his tie, but still his eyes didn’t leave hers. She tried to pull her stare away, but when she noticed the edges of the dreadlock man’s mouth tip up slightly, she knew it was no use. This was no student. He was planted there for a reason.

She forced herself to relax, and with her heart still beating through her chest, she sat back and crossed her arms, challenging dreadlock man. When she did this, she noticed his grin widen, and that’s when she could see them. Small bits of light floating through the air, leaving his eyes and moving towards her. Once they reached her pupils, she could see nothing but white light.

She sucked in a deep breath, unsure what to do. Could everyone else in the classroom see this? Could Witt see this? Was she acting different enough that Witt would know something was very wrong?

Adie worked to keep her breaths steady, sitting still. Was he blinding her? The burning pain had lessened but now all she would see was bright white. As she was about to stand up, in the hopes that the dreadlock man would release this trance or power or whatever it was, she saw the two black figures. One was much larger than the other, an adult and a child. They were running.

She sucked in a deep breath. This was the same vision she had before she returned home for a short vacation from IPA. She had leaned in close to the mirror and had seen those figures in her right eye. As she had focused on them, the mirror had opened up to her, a bright light just like this one, and the same two black figures were running, their movement quick and undecided, as if being chased.

“Who are they?” Adie heard herself scream out.

The bright light flashed once and was gone. Her eyes regained the world around her and everyone in the entire class was starting at her. One hundred something students, Witt, her Dad, all staring, the room perfectly silent.

To be continued next week…

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Coded In Stone Teaser – Adie

Adie scanned the room, and found the source; the man with the semi-dreadlock hairdo, his eyes piercing through her as his glare intensified from twenty rows down. He was barely turned around at his seat, his chin peeking just beyond his shoulder enough that his eyes could lock with hers.

She tried to look away, but she couldn’t; the burn only growing more intense. She wanted to look away so bad. It was too much, too painful, the stinging pain sinking deeper into the center of her skull. She tried turning her head, but her eyes didn’t follow, wouldn’t leave his. Her pupils felt on fire, the heat coming and going in waves, the way it does when sitting by a campfire; when the flames rise the heat follows, then they fall and it cools. She began to breathe deeper, faster.

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Who should play Adie?

The race is on over at my author Facebook page to pick who should be cast as Adie in The In Between Series! Go put in your two-cents at http://Facebook.com/catherineconversebooks!

In anticipation of Coded In Stone coming out this fall, we will be casting all of the characters over the next several months and dedicate a page on this site dedicated to the cast—-chosen by you!!!

Go pick your Adie! Http://Facebook.com/catherineconversebooks.

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The Edge of Darkness by Melissa Andrea

The Edge of Darkness
Author: Melissa Andrea
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Tour Organizer: B3 Tours

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Synopsis:
After a tragic accident, Araya Noelle is left with a constant reminder that nothing is forever.She is forced to give up her chance to be the youngest dancer accepted into Julliard; taking over their high society school by a graceful storm of determination, is no longer an option.

Instead of dwelling over her loss, she accepts the new future she’s been dealt. In a world as black as hers, there’s no room for bitterness, no time for regret. Sheltered from the outside world, Araya has become suffocated by a life she has no control over. Until Ryland Dare comes crashing into her life.You don’t know true darkness until you’ve felt the light…Like a firecracker, showering her with colorful sparks of freedom, Ryland quickly sweeps Araya away from her grey existence.

For the first time since the accident, living in darkness is no longer something Araya wants to do willingly. Unleashed by the shadows of her reminder, being with Ryland, Araya touches light. Together they will learn what it’s like to feel alive for the first time.At the edge of darkness, a ray of light, will dare them both to HOPE. DARE them to LOVE.DARE them to LIVE.

Excerpt
“I’ve never met anyone like you before Araya. The way you view life and love; you’re not angry with anything that’s happened to you.”
I turned my head toward him, and a smile tilted the corner of my lips. “Yeah, I’m kind of amazing that way.” I teased.
He rolled over, bracing his arms on either side of my head, and we stared at each other upside down. His thumbs swept across my cheeks and his fingers caressed the sides of my neck up to my jaw. Tilting my neck back, he kissed my chin, and the dip below my bottom lip. He brushed his lips back and forth over mine, but the touch was so light, I couldn’t even be completely sure it had happened.
“Yes, you are.” He whispered.

Melissa on Facebook!
The Edge of Darkness on Goodreads!

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Book Trailer:

Author Bio:
Melissa started reading in high school when she found her mom’s romance book collection and has been hooked on books every since. She became a complete book-a-holic, starting her own collection and improving her reading skills. Most of the time she could finish a book walking around the store, while her mom shopped.

She wrote her first short story in high school for a competition in her writing class. It was a child’s book called ‘Arnold’ – it was about an ant who believed he could do anything. Oh by the way, she won!

She has written many stories since then, but this will be her first YA paranormal/fantasy and the first book she will have published.

She lived in Mesa, Arizona with her husband of six years, and her 3 beautiful daughters. They are her biggest fans and they inspire her everyday. She enjoys spending time with her family, weekend dates with her mom & taking vacations. Hawaii anyone?

Author Links:

Website: http://melissaandrea-justlikethat.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/melissa_andrea

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Happy Release Day to Jennifer Martinez – Written In The Stars

Written in the Stars – Happy Release Day!!!

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{about the book}
Believers of fate, destiny, whatever, say that there are many paths to your one final destination. No matter what choices you make you will always end up right where you are supposed to be. Well I guess I took the road less traveled because God knows I’m broken, bruised, and damaged.

This is my story. It’s about all the wrong turns that led to the right destination. We were written in the stars from the very beginning and neither of us knew it. Love is something you can’t fight and can’t hide from no matter how bad you want to. This is my cosmic turn of love.

Buy the Book on Amazon!

Check out the Written in the Stars webpage here.

{quote}
You’ve got to kiss a few frogs before you find your Prince.

{song}
Just Give Me a Reason – Pink

{about the author}
One day while slaving away at her monotonous day job, Jennifer Martinez found her true calling. Like a firefly in the night, the pages called to her. Once she caught the bug there was no stopping it. Her fingers flew furiously across the keyboard winding tales of love, mystery and anger. She snapped out of her reverie to find herself still behind the desk but at least she knew who she was… Author Jennifer Martinez.

I like to think of myself as a beautiful conundrum. When I am not writing, I can be found surrounded by my amazing family and 4 dogs or volunteering at a local animal rescue. I love who I am and don’t mind at all when I get strange looks from people. I am a tattoo covered, child and animal lover who looks forward to destroying peoples preconceived notions of what “someone like me” would be interested in. You only live life
once… you may as well make it interesting.

I love to get lost in a good book and hope that everyone will get lost in mine.

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{excerpt}

I giggled maybe a little too vibrantly and saw his head dip down to inspect the blades of grass. I used my free hand to lift his chin and bring his eyes back to mine. I said, “I have dreamt about you saying that for the last nine months and you know what? It’s even better in real life.”

I saw a sparkle in his beautiful brown eyes as his hands relinquished their hold on my hand and moved to my face. I was flooded with warmth and chills as his thumbs traced the lines of my face leaving little trails of fire everywhere they touched and sending shivers down my spine.

In that moment the whole world ceased to exist. It was just me and Curtis surrounded by the muted sounds of crickets basked in moonlight taking in every detail of the moment. Nothing in my wildest daydreams could have even come close to the fireworks that exploded when he finally leaned in and lightly grazed my lips with his. My body ignited with an electricity I had never felt as I look in that same smell that had sent me into a daze nearly a year ago. He leaned back and looked into my eyes as if asking if it was ok that he kissed me. I felt the corner of my mouth twist up as I bit on my lower lip completely in awe that this moment had finally come. He traced my now throbbing lips with his thumb before leaning in again to firmly place his lips on mine in our first real kiss. I swear we were floating through the clouds as out lips pressed together, breathing each other in. I could feel his passion, admiration and caring rolling off of him. We could have kissed for hours sitting there on that bench but we finally broke apart. We walked hand in hand back to my dorm where he gave me one more quick peck before turning towards his car. I grabbed his wrist before he could escape and invited him in for cocoa and Boondock Saints.

Buy Written in the Stars on Amazon!

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COVER REVEAL – Greenwood Tree by B. Lloyd

Greenwood Tree
Author: B. Lloyd
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Blurb:
‘Well, what do all mysteries have?’ said Aunt Isobel. ‘Money, mistresses, and murder.’

1783 – and Lichfield society is enthralled by the arrival of dashing ex-officer Orville; he charms his way into the salons, grand houses and even a great inheritance from extrovert Sir Morton.

1927 – and detective writer Julia Warren returns to her home in Lichfield to work on her next novel. Initially she hopes to find plot material from the past and set it in the present. Aunt Isobel, while making preparations for the annual midsummer ball, has managed to root out an old journal from 1783 which might prove a source of inspiration. Once Julia starts reading her ancestor’s journal she becomes absorbed in solving the mystery surrounding officer Orville. Detective fever takes over, and she moves from reality to legend as events from the past seem set to re-enact themselves in the present, and she finds herself unravelling more than just the one mystery. Who was Orville? Who was the agent, Oddman, set to spy on him? And who is helpful Mr Grenall ?

Pagan gods don’t walk away just because you stop looking at them. The Gronny Patch sleeps. Perhaps it dreams. Or perhaps not …

A complex, multi-layered story unlike any other, full of whimsy, horror, and mystery, shifting between the centuries and from source to source, until all the threads are finally drawn together by the imperturbable Miss Warren.

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Excerpt:
‘Where is Bunty?’
‘Collecting some friends of hers from London, she said,’ supplied Aunt Isobel. ‘I hope they aren’t those rather noisy young people she brought up last time, but still, it is meant to be a party.’
‘Oh I should think they are I mean Bunty only likes noisy people: saves her doing a lot of the talking.’ Charlie could produce a lot of nothing verbally for a good deal of the time and then suddenly come out with a perceptive line when you least expected it.
The leaves of the weeping fig began to tickle Julia’s neck; she shifted, and glanced back at the journal. ‘And you mentioned a mystery about one of the two sisters . . . I don’t remember ever hearing about that before.’
‘Yes, I wish I could be more helpful; I probably wasn’t paying enough attention at the time—it was something to do with the Journal, however, I do recall that much.’
‘I wonder what that could have been.’
‘Well, what do all mysteries have?’ said Aunt Isobel. ‘Money, mistresses, and murder.’
‘Goodness—murder as well? That would be handy.’
‘Oh well, I don’t know in this case in particular—although, come to think of it, an unexplained death did play a part, I believe . . . but as I say, I wasn’t all that attentive as a girl.’
Julia looked at the journal again. More and more it beckoned her to steal away with it and open its pages. ‘Did you say there were some more letters as well?’
‘I’m sure there must be. We can have a look this afternoon if you like. Do you need paper, by the by? I think I put some in your room, but it may not be sufficient.’
‘You did. It’s plenty to be going on with. If I need anything I can pop down to the village.’
Julia returned upstairs as soon as it was socially acceptable to do so. She enjoyed Aunt Isobel’s company enormously, but the little leather-bound journal kept slipping into view every other second. She made the honourable excuse of getting ready for the evening. It wasn’t anything grand, some old friends and relatives—notably, cousins Crewe (Anne and Richard from Fradley), and distantly related Frank from Morton Manor, with a few extras thrown in. She still puzzled over the inclusion of Mr Grenall, but put it down to her aunt’s ardent appreciation of anything or anyone connected with roses and peonies; together with her anxiety always to mix with locals as much as possible.
She sat down on the bed and opened the journal to look at the first entry.

“March 25th 1782
A cloudy, sullen day; everyone much out of spirits, and disinclined to be entertained; a little improved towards evening, when a game of piquet was suggested. Robert returned late from the Warringtons and enlivened us with the latest news and gossip. There is to be a performance at Blufflap Manor soon, it seems likely we shall be invited—a comedy of sorts; Mrs Gently is failing fast and is not expected to see out the spring, and Mr Warrington has bought a new horse. Aside from this, little of any consequence was said.”

Julia felt absurdly disappointed by this start, and read on quickly. The next entry involved a walk in the morning and a visit in the afternoon from Mrs and Miss Drayton, where again ‘little of much consequence was said’; the entry after that described the ill-effects of a cold and the tedium of gruel. Julia began reading at random April the sixth, (outing in a carriage) May the 20th, (shopping in town), July 14th, (tea with the Draytons) until she stopped suddenly, feeling slightly nervous. She was looking for something and she didn’t know what it was. Ideas? Situations? That was why she had come home, and why she had been so eager to go through everything in the attic. That was supposedly why she was sitting on the bed, rifling through this little leather book when she should have been getting ready for dinner. But she didn’t feel it was that so much. It was annoying, but she couldn’t define her feeling. Her reviews described her as a perceptive and analytical writer, but these qualities appeared now to have deserted her completely. She decided to take a hold of herself and work her way through until she found what she was searching for. On she raced, turning page after page: Autumn saw chills and common colds in and out, winter was taken up with preparations for Christmas parties, dances and festivities, followed by uncertain weather and the blessed arrival of Spring.
The word came to her as she reached the entry for March 30th 1783. Recognition. She was searching for something to recognise. Finding a word for it only served to make her feel even more unsettled.

“March 30th 1783
Last evening at dinner there was some talk of the efficacy of sleep for certain disorders, Father’s friend Dr Gout making one of the party; this led to talk about dreams, and their meanings. Our brother Robert complained of having slept ill the night before; Mary, ever curious, would ask what he had dreamt of. ‘Oh stuff,’ he said vaguely, and took some time to be drawn out as he holds no great faith in the theory that dreams can have any significance for the life and actions of the sleeper. After many questions however she got it out of him that he had dreamt of trees and wind, and seen a face in a bush with leaves growing out of it. Father said that he must have taken too much cheese at table; the doctor seriously suggested that it foretold a visitor’s arrival. On further describing the kind of trees he had seen, and the general type of landscape, Father cried out: ‘Why, that’s Gronny Patch, Robert—have you been walking there recently?’
‘Not to my knowledge, sir,’ replied Robert, surprised.
‘Not trysting with young maids there? Take a care not to let your secrets out with your dreams!’ continued Father in high spirits, intending to make us all laugh—and indeed the suggestion of Robert taking any such steps for anything of the kind, when he has us girls always so particularly under guard, as it were, like some anxious sheep-dog, really did entertain us a good deal.
Later Charlotte, Mary and I speculated as to what manner of visitor might be expected, if the Doctor’s prediction should prove true, Mary naturally hoping for some young gallant with a good fortune. Charlotte wondered if tidings were to be brought, recalling stories she had heard of premonitions and dreams which portended death and the like, until Mary begged her to stop, as it was past midnight, and put her in mind of a Gothic tale, so she should never get to sleep.
I own to being unsettled as a result, and can only blame myself for the result: a late repose, broken early in the morning by a dream in all its details the double of Robert’s. I was walking in a copse, with wind about me, and, going round a tree, saw directly ahead, a face with leaves and branches growing out of its mouth and ears. I awoke in a great fright as daybreak was slipping through the shutters. I have refrained from asking Robert any more about his own dream today; it is probably best forgotten. However, I have decided to record only such incidents as these in future, and avoid as much dross as possible. This should make a great saving of paper and a more entertaining record.”

Julia read it through twice, feeling she had at least reached the beginning of something. The clock in the corridor outside chimed seven. Drinks, and then dinner. Julia snatched a dress out of the wardrobe.

About the Author:
A Bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal …
After studying Early Music in Italy followed by a brief career in concert performance, the Bustle exchanged vocal parts for less vocal arts i.e. a Diploma from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.
Her inky mess, both graphic and verbal, can be found in various regions of the Web, and appendaged to good people’s works (for no visible reason that she can understand).
At present exploring the mysteries of Northumberland, although if there is a place she could call true home, it would be Venice…while the fields of Waterloo hold a certain resonance for her as well…
More here :
http://about.me/B.Lloyd
& here :
http://lloydanon.wordpress.com
For those who enjoy Twittery:
Do drop by @AuthorsAnon
as she enjoys a chat
(Warning: Please expect occasional bouts of nonsense).

Author links :
On About me : http://about.me/B.Lloyd
(contains blog, web, social media links)
On Twitter: @AuthorsAnon
Amazon UK (pre-order) (hardcover) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd/dp/1909374563

(paperback) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd/dp/1909374571/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Amazon US (pre-order) paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd/dp/1909374571/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

http://www.amazon.com/Greenwood-Tree-B-Lloyd/dp/1909374563/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0


Waterstones:
http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/b-+lloyd/greenwood+tree/9610637/

Pre-order page on the publisher’s website : http://www.greycellspress.co.uk/pre-order-our-titles/

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