Tag Archives: horror

Release Blitz: Lunar Shadows by Nem Rowan

Lunar Shadows | Nem Rowan

Series Blurb

Witcheskin and Rough Sleepers, both set in the Lunar Shadows verse, are two very different but closely entwined stories set in the lush wilds of rural Wales and the harsh gritty inner city of South West England.

Two very different main characters and two very different mysteries to be solved. Both are a blend of horror, urban fantasy and LGBTQ+ romance, with colourful supporting casts and complex villains whose motives are driven by their basic human natures.

They have own-voices trans and queer representation, and both books are standalones, but set in the same universe.

Witcheskin

Lunar Shadows #1

Witcheskin Cover Tour

Original Release Date:  February 25th 2018

 Buy Links:

JMS Books: https://www.jms-books.com/romance-c-29_105/witcheskin-p-2852.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Witcheskin-Lunar-Shadows-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07VX526CV/

Add To Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36629813-witcheskin

Blurb

Following the disappearance of his father, keen photographer Owen returns to the Welsh village where his parents grew up to live with his mother and her boyfriend. Despite being born in Wales and having been raised in England, Owen feels like an outcast, and the villagers are unfriendly.

He soon discovers an epidemic of cattle mutilations that have been spreading through the countryside like a rash and, determined to discover the cause, he takes up his camera and starts snapping pictures.

While pursuing the mystery, he meets Maredudd, an old friend of his parents of whom they had never spoken, and Owen can’t help but feel drawn to him. Maredudd seems to know more about the mutilations than the other villagers are willing to admit, and even more about the supposed death of Owen’s father than his own mother does.

Maredudd shows Owen things he never thought possible, and Owen soon finds himself at the centre of the kind of folk tale only his father could dream of.

Excerpt

Maredudd rubbed my knuckles with his other hand. “Relax. There’s nothing to worry about.”

“But what if someone sees?”

“Sees what?” he asked, his smile morphing into a mischievous grin. I stared at him, exasperated.

“You know… Sees us holding hands…” I whispered, even though there was no one around to hear our conversation.

“So what if they do? We’re not breaking the law. I like holding your hand. Nobody is going to stop me from doing that, especially if you like holding mine in return.” He raised his eyebrows at me, and I couldn’t very well argue with that.

“I do like holding your hand,” I mumbled, feeling stupid. We had stopped at the bottom of the beach, and the tide was lapping at the sand, gushing up to meet our toes. I contemplated taking my boots off.

When I turned to look at him, he had moved closer, and I drew in a sharp breath, aware that he was now right against my side. I could feel the front of his hard torso touching my arm, his body heat comfortable, and gentle despite the blazing sun overheard. His eyes, like green lanterns that seemed to give off light of their own no matter the shadow upon his face, peered right into my own, and I was so astonished, frozen to the spot, when I should have known what would come next. He lowered his head, brushed his nose against mine as though asking permission. My chest was rising, and falling heavily, heart throbbing, lungs puffing, my throat contracting as I swallowed.

I wanted it desperately, but I couldn’t lead when I was so shy, and untouched, afraid of embarrassing myself, and anxious that someone would see us out here. His eyes half-closed, and I thought he would move away. My hand immediately gripped onto his tightly, squeezing it in my grasp in a silent bid to tell him not to. The whole world began to slide and melt out of my consciousness, and we were the only people left, isolated except for the soundless surf that flowed towards us rhythmically. Finally, I felt his lips pressing to mine, and that electricity that had crackled earlier suddenly became a shower of lightning. Like a developing storm, the clouds rolling, and thunder tolling, I let go of my emotions, abandoning the fear I was clutching at moments before.

Rough Sleepers

Lunar Shadows #2

RoughSleepers Cover Tour

Blurb

Leon, drag performer and club owner, is attacked by a werewolf one night and loses an arm—and more, after massacring his club guests. Now homeless and tormented by nightmares, he runs away from everything he knows.

Eventually, he meets Ceri, who invites Leon to live with him above a shop owned by a woman who lost her husband and son to a werewolf attack. She and Ceri are still hunting the unknown perpetrator, and Leon gladly lends his own assistance, eager to atone for his bloody past in the hopes he might one day be able to have a home and family again…

Excerpt

Tacked to the wall above him was one of the flyers from The Murderess Club; I spotted the neon writing in a split-second. My eyes lit up when I saw it and I hurried over, reaching to pull out the pin and take down the dog-eared piece of paper. There was a photo of me on the front in one of my Mardi Gras outfits, a huge plume of feathers splaying from the headdress and my body clad in a glittering, shimmering dress of rainbows. I looked young, happy. A couple of queens that had been my friends were either side of me in the photo, all of them dressed up and cheering.

I remembered this flyer; it was for the Pride celebration we had a couple of years back. Diana Princess was at my shoulder, her mouth open in a cry of glee. My teeth clenched together and the muscles in my forehead became tense as a lump formed in my throat, the horror of what I did to her replaying in my mind. All of them were gone. Every person in the photo was dead, except me.

This flyer was a relic from a time long since gone. It was all I had left of my old life, and yet just to look at it was enough to cause unfathomable heartache.

“Leon?” Ceri’s voice answered beside me. I looked round to find him still kneeling, peering up at me over his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, I can’t stop it,” I whimpered as I clutched the flyer to my chest. The tears started to pour from my eyes in streams and for the first time in a very long time, I was unable to stop myself from weeping.

“What’s wrong? Leon? What’s wrong?” He got up and came towards me, his expression beseeching and worried.

“They’re all dead,” I choked. The tears were dripping from my stubbled jaw, plopping on the front of my thick coat and planting themselves there like twinkling gems.

“Who?” he questioned as he stood face-to-face with me, and I allowed him to take the flyer from my fist. He examined it, staring down at the people on the front, before looking up at me again. “Is that you by there?”

I nodded, my mouth pressed into a tight line as I wiped at my dripping face with my sleeve.

“I didn’t even realise. You looked so different. Beautiful,” he murmured as he looked down again. “I mean—I mean, you are beautiful, now. I mean, beautiful, in a different way.”

“Really?” I sniffed, unable to believe anyone could find me beautiful when my eyes were puffy, and my cheeks were red and glistening with tears.

He nodded, and when he smiled, it was a fond one. His hand reached into his pocket, rummaging around until he found a pack of tissues, ripping it open and offering one to me.

“Thanks,” I mumbled as I used it to carefully dab at my eyes.

“You do that like you’re wearing makeup,” he remarked with a cautious chuckle, and I laughed, too, which seemed to reassure him.

“Yeah, I guess it’s a habit I learned.” I smiled finally.

“You know what you said to me the other night?” he murmured, keeping his voice low even though it was unlikely that the others would be able to hear our conversation. “Those rules apply to you, too. You got that? I know I was a bit of an asshole before, when we first met. I didn’t mean it. I don’t like seeing you upset. If you want to talk, we can talk, okay?”

“Okay,” I agreed, glancing down as he pressed the flyer back into my hand.

“Oh—and one more thing. Unfinished business from the other night,” he whispered as he moved closer to me, and when he tilted his head to kiss me, I let him.

About The Author

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Nem Rowan lives in Sweden with his wife and their girlfriend. He loves reading non-fiction and is fascinated by True Crime and unsolved mysteries, especially missing persons cases and serial killers. Nem is also well-read in mythology and folk tales, particularly British and European folklore. He is a huge fan of Horror movies and Retrowave music.

Nem started writing when he was 11 years old and since then, he’s never looked back. Romance has always been his favourite genre after inheriting a box of Mills & Boon novels from his grandma, but being a Horror fan, there is always some way for him to work in a bit of that to make sure things don’t get too mushy.

Social Media

https://nemrowan.com

https://instagram.com/nemrowan

https://twitter.com/MrNemRowan

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Blog Tour: The Hierophant’s Daughter by M. F. Sullivan

The Hierophant’s Daughter | M. F. Sullivan

The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy

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Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing

Cover Artist: Nuno Moreira

Heat Rating: 1 flame

Length: approx. 100k words/ 298 paperback pages

Release Date: May 19, 2019

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

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Blurb

By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind’s intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.

It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead.

With the Hierophant’s Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is–assuming he exists at all–and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foul-mouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don’t inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.

After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER, and her Father won’t let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.

NOTE: A romantic relationship between the couple but no intimate scenes or sexual situations are described in the book. The book fades-to-black before any love scene.

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Excerpt

The Flight of the Governess

The Disgraced Governess of the United Front was blind in her right eye. Was that blood in the left, or was it damaged, too? The crash ringing in her ears kept her from thinking straight. Of course her left eye still worked: it worked well enough to prevent her from careening into the trees through which she plunged. Yet, for the tinted flecks of reality sometimes twinkling between crimson streaks, she could only imagine her total blindness with existential horror. Would the protein heal the damage? How severely was her left eye wounded? What about the one she knew to be blind—was it salvageable? Ichigawa could check, if she ever made it to the shore.

She couldn’t afford to think that way. It was a matter of “when,” not of “if.” She would never succumb. Neither could car accident, nor baying hounds, nor the Hierophant himself keep her from her goal. She had fourteen miles to the ship that would whisk her across the Pacific and deliver her to the relative safety of the Risen Sun. Then the Lazarene ceremony would be less than a week away. Cassandra’s diamond beat against her heart to pump it into double time, and with each double beat, she thought of her wife (smiling, laughing, weeping when she thought herself alone) and ran faster. A lucky thing the Governess wasn’t human! Though, had she remained human, she’d have died three centuries ago in some ghetto if she’d lived past twenty without becoming supper. Might have been the easier fate, or so she lamented each time her mind replayed the crash of the passenger-laden tanque at fifth gear against the side of their small car. How much she might have avoided!

Of course—then she never would have known Cassandra. That made all this a reasonable trade. Cold rain softened the black earth to the greedy consistency of clay, but her body served where her eyes failed. The darkness was normally no trouble, but now she squinted while she ran and, under sway of a dangerous adrenaline high, was side-swiped by more than one twisting branch. The old road that was her immediate goal, Highway 128, would lead her to the coast of her favorite Jurisdiction, but she now had to rediscover that golden path after the crash’s diversion. In an effort to evade her pursuers, she had torn into a pear orchard without thought of their canine companions. Not that the soldiers of the Americas kept companions like Europa’s nobles. These dogs were tools. Well-honed, organic death machines with a cultivated taste for living flesh, whether martyr or human. The dogs understood something that most had forgotten: the difference between the two was untenable. Martyrs could tell themselves they were superior for an eternity, but it wouldn’t change the fact that the so-called master race and the humans they consumed were the same species.

That was not why Cassandra had died, but it hadn’t contributed to their marital bliss. And now, knowing what she did of the Hierophant’s intentions—thinking, always, what Cassandra would have said—the Governess pretended she was driven by that ghost, and not by her own hopelessness. Without the self-delusion, she was a victim to a great many ugly thoughts, foremost among them being: Was the fear of life after her wife’s death worth such disgrace? A death sentence? Few appreciated what little difference there was between human and martyr, and fewer cared, because caring was fatal. But she was a part of the Holy Family. Shouldn’t that have been all that mattered? Stunning how, after three centuries, she deserved to be treated no better than a human. Then again, there was nothing quite like resignation from one’s post to fall in her Father’s estimate. Partly, he was upset by her poor timing—she did stand him up at some stupid press event, but only because she hoped it would keep everybody occupied while she got away. In that moment, she couldn’t even remember what it was. Dedicating a bridge? Probably. Her poor head, what did the nature of the event matter when she was close to death?

That lapse in social graces was not the reason for this hunt. He understood that more lay behind her resignation than a keening for country life. Even before he called her while she and the others took the tanque to the coast, he must have known. Just like he must have known the crash was seconds from happening while he chatted away, and that the humans in her company, already nervous to be within a foot of the fleeing Governess, were doomed.

Of the many people remaining on Earth, those lumped into the group of “human” were at constant risk of death, mutilation, or—far worse—unwilling martyrdom. This meant those humans lucky enough to avoid city-living segregation went to great lengths to keep their private properties secure. Not only houses but stables. The Disgraced Governess found this to be true of the stables into which she might have stumbled and electrocuted herself were it not for the bug zaps of rain against the threshold’s surface. Her mind made an instinctive turn toward prayer for the friendliness of the humans in the nearby farmhouse—an operation she was quick to abort. In those seconds (minutes?) since the crash, she’d succeeded in reconstructing the tinted windows of the tanque and a glimpse of silver ram’s horns: the Lamb lurked close enough to hear her like she spoke into his ear. It was too much to ask that he be on her side tonight.

Granted, the dogs of the Lamb were far closer, and far more decisive about where their loyalties stood. One hound sank its teeth into her ankle, and she, crying out, kicked the beast into its closest partner with a crunch. Slower dogs snarled outrage in the distance while the Disgraced Governess ran to the farmhouse caught in her left periphery. The prudent owners, to her frustration, shuttered their windows at night. Nevertheless, she smashed her fist against the one part of the house that protruded: the doorbell required by the Hierophant’s “fair play” dictatum allowing the use of electronic barriers. As the humans inside stumbled out of bed in response to her buzzing, the Disgraced Governess unholstered her antique revolver and unloaded two rounds into the recovered canines before they were upon her. The discharge wasn’t a tip-off she wanted to give to the Lamb and her other pursuers, but it hastened the response of the sleeping farmers as the intercom crackled to life.

“Who is it?” A woman’s voice, quivering with an edge of panic.

“My name is Dominia di Mephitoli: I’m the former Governess of the United Front, and I need to borrow a horse. Please. Don’t let me in. Just drop the threshold on your stables.”

“The Governess? I’m sorry, I don’t understand. The Dominia di Mephitoli, really? The martyr?”

“Yes, yes, please. I need a horse now.” Another dog careened around the corner and leapt over the bodies of his comrades with such grace that she wasted her third round in the corpses. Two more put it down as she shouted into the receiver. “I can’t transfer you any credits because they’ve frozen my Halcyon account, but I’ll leave you twenty pieces of silver if you drop the threshold and loan me a horse. You can reclaim it at the docks off Bay Street, in the township of Sienna. Please! He’ll kill me.”

“And he’ll be sure to kill us for helping you.”

“Tell him I threatened you. Tell him I tricked you! Anything. Just help me get away!”

“He’ll never believe what we say. He’ll kill me, my husband, our children. We can’t.”

“Oh, please. An act of mercy for a dying woman. Please, help me leave. I can give you the name of a man in San Valentino who can shelter you and give you passage abroad.”

“There’s no time to go so far south. Not as long as it takes to get across the city.”

It had been ten seconds since she’d heard the last dog. That worried her. With her revolver at the ready, she scanned the area for something more than the quivering roulette blotches swelling in her right eye. Nothing but the dead animals. “He’ll kill you either way. For talking to me, and not keeping me occupied until his arrival. For knowing that there’s disarray in his perfect land. He’ll find a reason, even if it only makes sense to him.”

The steady beat of rain pattered out a passive answer. On the verge of giving up, Dominia stepped back to ready herself for a fight—and the house’s threshold dropped with an electric pop. The absent mauve shimmer left the façade bare. How rare to see a country place without its barrier! A strange thing. Stranger for the front door to open; she’d only expected them to do away with the threshold on the stables.

But, rather than the housewife she’d anticipated, there stood the Hierophant. Several bleak notions clicked into place.

One immaculate gray brow arched. “Now, Dominia, that’s hardly fair. Knowledge of your disgrace isn’t why I’ll kill them. The whole world will know of it tomorrow morning. You embarrassed me by sending your resignation, rather than making the appearance I asked of you, so it is only fair I embarrass you by rejecting your resignation and firing you publicly. No, my dear. I will kill these fine people to upset you. In fact, Mr. McLintock is already dead in the attic. A mite too brave. Of course”—he winked, and whispered in conspiracy—“don’t tell them that.”

“How did you know I’d come here?”

“Such an odd spurt of rain tonight. Of all your Jurisdictions, this one is usually so dry this time of year! Won’t you come in for tea? Mrs. McLintock brews a fine pot. But put that gun away. You’re humiliating yourself. And me.”

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About the Author

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M.F. Sullivan is the author of Delilah, My Woman, The Lightning Stenography Device, and a slew of plays in addition to the Trilogy. She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her boyfriend and her cat, where she attends the local Shakespeare Festival and experiments with the occult.

Find more information about her work (and plenty of free essays) here.

Social Media

Blog

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Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page


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New Release Blitz: The Cost of Living by Emilie Lucadamo

The Cost of Living | Emilie Lucadamo

In the Darkness #2

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 50,800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, paranormal, college, demons, magic, fantasy, ghosts, horror

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Blurb

Once people die, they’re not meant to wake up.

For college student Beck Murray, this doesn’t quite sink in until he’s sitting in a stranger’s apartment, reading his own obituary. He has no memory of how he died or how he happened to wake up—all Beck knows is that he’s been dead for six months, and now, incredibly, is not.

He assumes his biggest challenge will be explaining himself to his family and friends. This proves not to be the case as, one by one, Beck and his friends become the target of something evil.

A darkness hangs over Beck, following every footstep he takes in his new life. He cannot fight it because he does not understand it. Soon, it becomes clear that Beck isn’t the only person who’s returned to life, and far from the only person in danger.

With the help of a young witch and a mysterious bookshop owner, Beck must learn to overcome the evil plaguing him before it drags him back down to the grave… and takes everyone he cares about with him.

Excerpt

The Cost of Living
Emilie Lucadamo © 2019
All Rights Reserved

After his fourth failed attempt to pull himself to his feet, Beck gives up and collapses against the pavement once more.

It’s no use. He could have the willpower of Hercules, yet he wouldn’t be able to haul himself off of the ground. His body is too strung out; his limbs are exhausted. He feels drained from head to toe. Whatever happened to lead him here, it sure did a number on him.

Here—where is here? Beck has no clue. Naked, in the middle of an unfamiliar street, with a dizzying headache and no memory of where he is or how he came to be there. That’s where he is right now.

It’s far from the best situation to be in. Not to mention the fact that the world’s biggest storm cloud seems to be focusing all its wrath on him alone. Rain lashes his skin, chilling him, and the thunder booming overhead rattles in his bones. He tries to move once more, and a fiery pulse of pain shoots through his entire body.

Beck has had better nights.

He’s wound up in some pretty undignified places over years spent growing up with his best friends, but this has to take the cake. This is a lot worse than the time his best friend James dared him to sleep on the roof in his underwear. This is even worse than the time he and his brother, Dylan got locked out of the house during a snowstorm and had to spend the night huddling for warmth on the porch. At least in those situations, he knew where he was. He had some choice in the matter, (even if it was between Dylan’s bony elbow in his side or freezing to death). This—this is a whole new level of weird.

He tries to lift his head, and a pulse of pain sends it right back down again. Thunder crashes overhead, followed by a flash of lightning. Beck swallows past his parched throat, realizing for the first time what a dangerous situation he could be in.

“Oh man,” he rasps, realizing too late that these are the first words he’s said since waking up. This absurdity is not helped by the fact that he’s scrambling around on his back like a lethargic bug. It seems like a miracle he’s able to speak at all. “Mmm…c’mon, c’mon…”

It’s no use. He can’t pull himself to his feet. Defeated, Beck collapses back onto the pavement again and closes his eyes. He’s so tired… Maybe a few moments’ sleep will give him the energy he needs.

He’s just about to drift away, when a sudden interruption startles him from his haze.

“You look like you could use some help.”

The voice is deep, clear as a bell over the roaring storm around them. Beck jumps, eyes springing open. It would take more self-control than he possesses not to gape up at the shadowy figure towering above him, silhouetted against the distant glow of a streetlight.

He blinks up at the stranger in a daze, trying to make out any features past the rain and his blurry vision. The man looming above him is slender, not too tall and not too muscular. The fact that he seems unfazed at finding a naked guy in the middle of the street probably says the most about him. Being the naked guy in question, Beck’s not about to judge.

Beck weighs his options. Common sense tells him not to trust shadowy figures in dark alleyways. Common sense also tells him not to pass out in the middle of the street naked, and not to wake up in the middle of a street with gravel digging into his back. Common sense is failing him today.

He isn’t about to get up without assistance, anyway, so yeah, he probably could use some help. “Wow, you figured that out?” he croaks, and tries for a laugh. It comes out as a wheeze. Beck is left choking when he attempts to take in a breath. He collapses again onto the street, landing hard on his side. His chest convulses with each ragged cough. By the time he is able to breathe again, he’s quaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm. Hell, that’s just about what he is.

“Easy…” The figure is kneeling by his side now and has a hand on his back. He’s warm; subconsciously, Beck leans into the touch. The smooth hand runs along the curve of his spine, leaving a trail of tingling heat in its wake. The pressure in Beck’s lungs slowly ebbs away, like water receding after high tide.

“Feels like you’ve got a pretty bad fever,” the man says, his strange, precise accent twisting the words until they sound more like a melody. “This rain can’t be helping. Wanna get out of it?”

“Yeah…” Beck nods hazily. “That’d be real great.”

Hands grip his biceps, helping him to his feet. Beck’s legs feel like noodles. He stands up, wavers, and would have fallen back down were it not for the grounding presence keeping him upright. He tries to straighten up, and his stomach does a perilous somersault. Hot bile rushes up his throat, and he only has time to double to the side before he’s heaving up acid.

By the time he straightens up again, he’s trembling from the exertion. He feels dizzy enough that he’s afraid to close his eyes, doubting his capability to open them again. When he tries to turn to his good Samaritan, he finds himself confronted with a sharp-featured face, dark eyes studying him and brows creased in concern.

“Sorry,” Beck tries to say. It comes out garbled. Fortunately, the guy doesn’t seem to care.

“Come on,” he urges, hooking an arm around Beck’s waist. “Let’s get you someplace warm and dry.”

Needless to say, Beck’s in no state to argue. Besides, he isn’t sure he wants to. The guy’s being nicer than he has any obligation to be, and it’s probably the fever talking, but his touch is the most soothing thing Beck can remember in a long time.

They don’t walk far. The stranger leads a stumbling Beck down the street, and they pass only a few shops before coming upon one with its windows piled high with books. A sign above the door reads Lehexe’s Books in spindly hand-painted lettering. The shop is dark enough that Beck can’t make out much through the window, but Beck’s new friend—Lehexe, presumably—doesn’t hesitate to open the door. He hustles them both inside and shuts out the storm behind them. No sooner are they standing in the middle of the shop floor than Beck finds rain pooling at his feet, soaking into the wooden floor. He sways in an effort to keep from dripping, and nearly overbalances again.

Lehexe—busy fumbling with a set of keys near a door behind the counter—casts a look over his shoulder and huffs. “Try to keep upright for two seconds. You can do that.”

Beck definitely can. He’s not an infant. (If he maybe has to grab hold of the counter to keep his balance, well, he thinks the other man is too preoccupied to notice.)

The right key finally slips into the lock, and Lehexe opens a door to a darkened hallway. He turns to look at Beck, raising an eyebrow as he gestures to him. Beck lets go of the counter, takes a step forward, and gets blindsided by a head rush that sends him falling on his face.

Being naked on the floor of some poor guy’s very nice bookshop is better than being naked on pavement in the middle of a storm…but only just. There’s a lot more indignity to his situation now that Beck is actually trying to keep himself upright. He can’t. It’s not just his legs refusing to cooperate with him. His entire body feels sluggish, achy and weighed down. His veins feel like they’ve been pumped full of lead. His skull is throbbing, stuffed with cotton and running with all the efficiency of a dying engine.

“I’m really sorry about this,” he manages to slur into the nice stranger’s woodwork. “’S not my day.”

“I figured,” Lehexe says as he helps peel Beck off the ground—and he is really being much nicer than Beck deserves. “I hope stuff like this don’t happen to you often.”

“It really doesn’t.” This is the weirdest thing Beck can remember happening to him in, well, ever. He’s not handling it well.

By some miracle, Lehexe manages to get him back on his feet again and leads him out of the shop. The hallway behind the door is small, narrow, with several doors lining the walls. One clearly reads Bathroom; the other, Beck suspects is a closet; as for the third, he doesn’t have a clue what could be behind it. (His half-delirious mind flashes back to the vintage game shows his grandma used to love, where shoulder-pad-flaunting contestants chose between Door One, Door Two, and Door Three for the chance to win “the prize of a lifetime!” Lehexe doesn’t make a good game show host, and Beck’s hairstyle isn’t nearly exciting enough for 80s television.)

There’s a final door at the end of the hallway, styled differently from the others. This one is great mahogany, with a firm frame, and another lock just beneath the knob. Lehexe turns to his set of keys yet again, and in seconds he has the door open to a set of stairs that tower over Beck’s head, making him feel dizzy.

His heart sinks. His stomach drops. He feels himself slump further to the floor, until Lehexe stubbornly hoists him back up again. Just looking up there makes his head spin, and the notion of dragging his noncooperative body up the stairs is nothing short of a pipe dream. There’s no way he can do it—just no chance.

“Yeahhh,” he groans. “Dude…don’t think that’s gonna happen…”

“You gotta try for me,” Lehexe says. “Can you do that?”

Beck considers this. “If I pass out, will you catch me?”

“I’ll try my best.”

Well, that’s good enough for him.

Meet the Author

Emilie Lucadamo has too many stories, and not enough words to tell them. At eighteen years old, she has been writing for most of her life, and telling stories even longer.

Her dream is to one day become a critically acclaimed author. When not writing, she’s probably reading, or spending quality time with her dog.

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