Meet Author Ryan Jo Summers

Today, I have Author Ryan Jo Summers visiting.

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Ryan Jo Summers is a freelance writer and novelist. Raised in Michigan, she was a book fanatic from a young age. She wrote her first book, complete with illustrations, at the age of ten. From that early start, she has always had pen to paper.

When not writing, or working at her daytime job, she loves spending time with her menagerie of pets—finned, feathered, and furry. She also enjoys getting together with friends, travel, reading, cooking, word find puzzles, nature, houseplants, and painting—just about everything. Painting, writing poems, and baking are forms of stress relief and therapy to work through times of sorrow.

Ryan lives in Western North Carolina where the vast mountain-scape provides both endless beauty and inspiration.

Ryan Jo, tell us all about you and your writing adventures.

AL: What were you like in school?

RJS: I was a quiet student. School initially was difficult for me, mostly due to my eyesight and not being able to see the chalkboard. Did I just age myself in that comment? Well, once I got glasses and could see, I got it all figured out and became ‘that’ student. I loved English and science classes, struggled through mathematics and liked history. Later, I became crazy over more English and sciences, struggled my way through chemistry and algebra and enjoyed foreign language. In High School I pushed for the accelerated courses. In English class, when we were told to read a book, I wanted to read two. When we had to write a paper, I always asked the maximum length it could be. I’m sure the other kids resented my enthusiasm but school became a place to earn acceptance and validation.

AL: What have you written?

RJS: It started with short stories mostly with a biographical slant. Some got published in trade journals and magazines. A fictional short story took honorable mention in a national contest. I’ve had several free-lance opinion essays put out in print and online. I write poetry, only one published in an anthology. For me, it’s therapy to cope with life. Of the novels, three contemporary romances have been published since 2012. Another one is coming out November 2015 and a novella is coming out early 2016. Now I am writing other stuff. I recently completed a YA/NA novel and am working on two longer works that will fall in commercial or women’s lit.

AL: Do you write long hand, typewriter, computer or dictate?

RJS: All of the above. I used to write long hand on legal paper, transcribing it to my trusty typewriter. It was challenging but I finally joined the modern world and have a computer. So now I write both long hand and directly into the document. As I travel about, I think of things to add, change or whatever so I scribble them down on scraps of paper and later transcribe them into the document. Future story ideas go on any scrap of paper and into a file, paper clipped with similar ideas. My organization system is not the most modern, but it does work.

Interestingly, my dad is a songwriter. He does the exact same thing. He writes lines and lyrics on legal pads or scraps of paper and they might eventually become a song. Years ago I took all his notes and scraps from the 40-odd years and put them all in a scrap book to preserve and chronicle his best songs. It was neat to see all those coffee stained bits of paper scribbled with a few lines that I know as complete songs now.

AL: How have you evolved creatively?

RJS: By reading more broadly. For many years, I would only read—and write—things that I knew I liked. I was not very adventurous in my reading. What if I didn’t like this new book? Then I started taking chances and reading new genres and authors. Wow, there’s some cool stuff out there. And I learned what I like, what I know now that I don’t care for and that in turn has bled over to my writing over time. I never envisioned myself as a romance writer, as I don’t see myself as a particularly romantic person. I’m way too practical for spontaneous romance. However, I have learned there are many layers to romance, and I know what layers I like, and which ones I tend to avoid, so it has forced me to become more creative to stay within my comfort layers. There might be an element of laziness in there too.

AL: Do you proofread/ edit yourself or have others proofread and edit?

RJS: I used to do it all myself. And doubtlessly missed a ton of errors. Lately I have learned the value of beta readers and my current WIP’s go to beta readers. I think the barter system of beta reading between writers is a wonderful currency that more writers should get involved with. And of course, once the contract is signed, I’ve been blessed with great, eagle eyed editors at the publishing house to catch all those tiny bits of mistake. I’m still learning how to make the computer program work with me for proofreading.

AL: How do you get book reviews?

RJS: Well, I must not be very good at this, as I actually have very few reviews on my books. Most Amazon reviews are by people (friends) who bought the book, read it and left me a review (because I begged them to). I’ve sent the ARCs out to review sites and have very low results. I have not yet figured out if this is normal or if I’m doing something wrong. I do think there are lots of writers asking for reviews on fewer numbers of readers so there is doubtlessly some backlog involved.

AL: How do you relax?

RJS: I go for walks in the national forest and hang out by the river. I journal. Or I take my collie to the dog park and let him run. He and I like to sit on the porch and bird watch. Sometimes I work a good wiggly word find puzzle or play mah jongg to stimulate the mind. These are all good to get the creative juices flowing and chipping away at the occasional times I write myself into a corner.

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Her novel, When Clouds Gather, is available on Amazon.

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Darby Adams has a full, happy life in Driftwood Shores with a successful Bed and Breakfast Inn, The Brass Lamplighter, and her teenage son, Matt. Until a guest is found dead in one of her rooms. Suddenly, she is the number one suspect—a murderess. With her world rapidly spinning out of control, Darby desperately needs a friend.

The surviving family wants answers—and prosecution—so they hire Private Investigator Sam Golden to unquestionably prove Darby’s guilt. Busy with his disobedient, willful teenage daughter, Sam still takes the case. He starts in the dual role as a sympathetic ally to Darby while searching for the evidence needed to send her to prison. It should be an easy case to close.

Until strange things begin happening at the B & B, scary things. Until their kids form a friendship. Until feelings develop between Darby and Sam, in the heat of the mysteries surrounding them. As Darby leans on Sam to survive, he has to question his thoughts on her guilt or innocence. Then the day comes he has to tell her the truth about himself.

Reeling from Sam’s confession, Darby thinks things can’t get any worse. Then they do. She has no choice except to trust him once more, but can she ever trust him with her heart?

BUY LINK for When Clouds Gather

EXCERPT for WHEN CLOUDS GATHER:

Amused at the joking between mother and son, Madison chuckled as the sounds of clanking dishes came from the kitchen. “My dad can cook pretty well too. He makes a terrible mess but the food is good.”

Darby perked up. It was so rare for Madison to mention her family, she was slightly taken aback at the information. She propped her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her upturned palms.

“Tell me about your family, Madison.”

The girl blinked. “My mom died a few months ago and you already know my dad.”

“I know your dad?” Darby drew back in surprise.

“Yeah. Didn’t Matt tell you who I was?”

Come to think of it, Matt had omitted a lot of information. Darby managed a shake of her head.

“Boys,” Madison muttered with a sigh. “My dad is Sam Golden.”

“Sam?” Darby echoed dully. This child her son was sweet on, this girl with such good manners, was actually Sam’s willful daughter? She replayed their conversation from the sunroom over in her mind, not able to reconcile the two versions of Madison.

But why hadn’t she put the pieces together before? It made perfect sense now. They were both new in town. Sam said he had a fourteen year old daughter who had a birthday coming up soon and Madison had mentioned she was going to be turning fifteen soon. Where was her mind lately?

“Yes, I can see the family resemblance now.” Indeed, she could see Sam’s honest brown eyes, confident chin and athletic build in Madison. Just the hair was different as Madison’s was a honey blond. Had she inherited that from her departed mother?

Suddenly she felt warm. Outside the windows the wind howled, as if to remind her she still had work to do. “If you’ll excuse me, Madison, I need to feed the animals for the night.”

Grabbing up the food and water pails and pulling on her jacket, she stepped out into the wind and rain. Over the howling wail, she could hear the excited barking of the dogs. Oddly enough, no cats loitered about, waiting for their meal.

“If they’re hiding out the storm in their shelters, I’ll give them double rations tomorrow,” she promised, wishing she had fed them all earlier. Instead she had stopped to visit her neighbor. She was glad for the visit, it was the one place she could go and not be questioned, accosted, or interrogated about the death of Robert Wilson. They could drink tea, talk about flowers and anything else. However, she felt bad it cost her cats their dinner.

“There, there, my babies,” she cooed to the dogs, entering their pen. “It’s just a storm, nothing to get excited about.” The pack was especially anxious, whining loudly. They barked into the night, ignoring her offering.

Assuming it was the weather that had them shook up, she dropped the last of the food and stood back, waiting for them to dive in. Instead, they milled around, nosing her and searching the night. Rex and Cinders pawed anxiously at the gate, whining.

Worry slowly prickled along her spine. “Don’t worry guys, it’s just a storm. Eat your dinner before it gets soaked and go curl up in the doghouses. You’ll be fine.” She patted them, hoping to ease their anxiety.

The pack was bothered by more than just the storm. She did a head count, realizing something.

One of the dogs was missing, her favorite blond cocker spaniel.

The pen was escape proof and it had been locked when she arrived.

The pinpricks of worry quickly turned to fear. The last time she felt this way, she had found a dead body in her house.

Casting another look around, she saw nothing except the close-banded dark, heavy clouds pouring out the rain. Beyond, she heard the rattling of garden bells and wind chimes and pounding surf. Closer, she could see the inviting warmth of the house streaming through the windows, reminding her Matt and Madison were inside.

Glancing down at the dogs, she decided they would be safe enough and would just be hungry tomorrow. Like the cats, extra rations all the way around. Double-checking behind her to make sure the gate was secure, she paused.

“How on earth did Melody get out? And where is she?” Calling the dog’s name into the wind, she waited, but no sad eyed spaniel came running, wagging her stumpy tail. Now she regretted not moving the little dog inside quicker. If she had not been so busy today with going to Matt’s school and stopping at Laura’s, she might have had more time for that bath.

“Well, I hope she finds a decent shelter from the storm,” she decided, trying to shrug off the weight of dread settling on her shoulders. It wasn’t working.

Matt was in the house and she needed to get to him. The impulse to run almost overtook her. Panic took root in her heart. Breaking into a fast jog, she rounded the corner, heart hammering. She had to reach Matt.

The skies opened up with a thunderous roar, rain pounding upon her like tiny daggers of ice. At the same time, Darby heard a young girl’s scream.

Terror overtook her and she dropped the pails, breaking into a full run. Heart pounding, she reached the porch steps and slammed to a breathless halt, bile rising in her stomach. The next scream she heard was the one escaping from her own throat.

Matt appeared in the doorway above her, illuminated by the lights inside. “Mom?” he whispered hoarsely. Behind him came the sounds of sobbing.

Surrendering to the most basic need, Darby tore her eyes from the gristly scene before her, lifting them to Matt. “Call Sam.”

* * *

Be sure to check out her other bodies of work, too.

BUY LINK for Shimmers of Stardust

Shimmers of Stardust

Logan Riley, Civil War hero turned outlaw, was hanged in 1869. He survived, watching time progress for over a century. Anthropologist Dr. McKenzie Lynne is hired to find him. Once she discovers him and learns the real plans the scientists have in mind to study him, she bolts, taking their living treasure with her.

Pursued by obsessed physicists and the military, Kenzie and Logan race across the vast desert and mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, struggling to stay one step ahead of their hunters. But Logan has spent four years in the Civil War and five years running as an outlaw. He knows how to stay alive, survive on nothing, when to run and when to hole up. He may not understand much about this new world, but he knows how to outfox hunters and that Kenzie is one Thoroughbred of a woman and he vows to keep her safe.

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BUY LINK for Whispers in her Heart

Whispers in her Heart

She had a mystical reputation …

Third-generation horse trainer, Season Moriarty, has just taken on the impossible. Hired by the gorgeous yet notoriously difficult Ty Masters to transform his wild colt into a legendary racehorse, she comes face to face with a threat to the horses that puts even her special gifts to the test. As it turns out, the whispers in her heart do indeed carry a bit of the mystical—along with a warning.

… But what they had between them was pure magic.

Ty Masters, owner of the world-renowned Heritage Farms, has turned out more than one champion in his time. Now so much of his financial future rests on the colt, Sky Hunter—just as so much of Sky Hunter’s future rests in the hands of Season Moriarty. Has Ty been wrong to trust her? Something about her seems almost spooky—and so lovely that she has his heart racing faster than the horses.

Ryan Jo, thanks so much for visiting with us today!

Author Links:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Amazon

Goodreads:

HOT NEW RELEASE

Author Leigh Lee’s debut novel, Vows of Pain & Passion, is now available on Amazon.

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She refuses to trust…he refuses to love.

Noble born Adaira Godwin is a determined young woman—whose life is all mapped—out until she runs into a stone wall—Norman warrior, Renouf de Sinclaire, who has other plans for her.

Set in eleventh-century England during the Norman invasion, Vows of Pain & Passion is the story of two headstrong characters, enemies from different lands.

Can they overcome hatred, language barriers, religious beliefs, and their own fears, or is their love doomed from the start?

Meet the author . . . Ms. Leigh Lee

Leigh Lee

Leigh Lee is a writer of historical and contemporary romance, married to her hero. She started writing when her kids were toddlers. Then life changed and all her stories found their way into a box. That raggedy cardboard box saw many moves, until one day Leigh Lee found it again, along with her manuscripts, and began writing again. Leigh and her husband currently live in upstate South Carolina enslaved by their 19-year-old cat.

You may learn more about Ms. Lee at the following websites:

Vows of Pain & Passion Amazon Buy Link

Author page

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

HOT NEW RELEASE

Looking for some passionate, warm-blooded characters and steamy . . . hot dishes? Check out Merritt Kelly’s debut novel Culinary Seduction. Available on Amazon now.

culinaryseduction

Food is the new sex and cheftestants Andrea Claire and Danny Miller are battling it out to see who becomes the new high priest or priestess. The two face-off in a contest for hosting duties of new show called CULINARY SEDUCTION.

Chef Andrea Claire is a woman who knows what she wants, and what she wants is to build her own culinary empire. Hosting the show would give her the injection of cash she needs to finally get a store front for her catering business and provide her the credibility she seeks. Her food is infused with her warmth and passion.

Bad boy chef Danny Miller’s bold flavors and state-of-the-art techniques in molecular gastronomy set him apart from the pack. Hosting the show would raise the profile of his restaurant and allow him to pay what he owes the bank and his grandmother.

Will his talent be enough to garner him the win? Or will Andre’s seductive on-camera personality and obvious passion for cooking win out? Their on-air chemistry is undeniable. The test kitchens at CULINARY SEDUCTION have never been so hot.

Romantic dinner setting with rose petals

Meet Merritt Kelly…

Merritt Kelly

Merritt Kelly has been in love with the written word as long as she can remember. She’s a freelance writer, author, and columnist whose articles have appeared in the Colfax Gazette, Palouse Journal, and the Moscow/Daily News. Her work on the web can be seen on Paperdriods, DigiYoo, LexiYoga and HaveHeart Magazine websites under her real name Carol Traulsen. She has written on a variety of topics including the war in Kosovo, the death penalty, grief, coping with a cozy kitchen and cooking.

Merritt Kelly is a pen name she chose to honor her late mother who always believed in her writing ability. When she’s not writing she’s cooking, walking or reading. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, her son and her cat.

She loves to laugh, all the music in the Guardians Of The Galaxy, trying new foods, a good glass of wine and almost anything chocolate. Her first novel, Culinary Seduction, a foodie/Chic lit romance is set for release in April of 2015.

You may review the following websites to learn more about Ms. Kelly.

Culinary Seduction Amazon Buy Link

Amazon Author Page

Soul Mate Publishing Author Page

Soul Mate Publishing Book Page for Culinary Seduction

Cover Reveal for The Lost Chronicles of the 5th World

 Cover Reveal for The Lost Chronicles of the 5th World . . .

(Book 2 of The Lost Chronicles Series)

Due for release by Soul Mate Publishing late spring of 2015.

THE LOST CHRONICLES OF THE 5TH WORLD (2)

Nicolas Armani knows war is inevitable.

But in a fleeting moment, a single decision can change the course of history.

The circle of six finds themselves divided by love, loyalty, and leadership.

Armani must choose between following his heart and leading a freedom faction on the 5th World, Orionis.

His choice will shock those closest to him and himself.

But new found friend, Ara—of the Arroyo Clan—has a secret of her own,

one she is determined to keep hidden, because on the 5th World, what makes one different often proves deadly.

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The Lost Chronicles of the 4th World

(Book 1 of The Lost Chronicles Series)

is available on Amazon. Click here to read a sample or purchase.

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An internal clock ticks. It’s counting down, but to what?

Nicolas Armani and Brooklyn ‘Brooke’ Adams must choose between freedom and a life of servitude. 

Known as a threat to national security by some and an evolutionary link to others, they sit at the edge of the doorway looking in.

Armani and Brooke are on the brink of discovering their ancestral story, which leads to The Lost Chronicles of the 4th World.

Will they bridge the evolutionary gap, generating a universal brotherhood?

Or set off a chain reaction of events that will send mankind into another dark age?

 Thank you,

Michelle L. De La Garza/also writes as April A. Luna

Websites for Contact:

Follow on FaceBook

Follow on Amazon Writer’s Page for Michelle L. De La Garza

Follow on Amazon Writer’s Page for April A. Luna

Hot New Book Release: Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences, by April A. Luna

What does archeology student Danielle Herring discover in the shadows of her family tree? Corruption, murder, sex, and a serial killer ring. She’s the only biological heir to an estate. Things should be simple, right? She’s accompanied by the family attorney, Stephen Briggs, on what she thinks is a quick will-reading in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.


 Final Truth or Consequences (small) copy
She doesn’t count on one of the conditions of the will including a hot-blooded—make that a HOT!—veterinarian she has to share a home with in order to claim her inheritance. Things couldn’t get worse, could they? This pulse-racing, emotionally charged novel proves some deep-seated secrets and desires are buried so deep in the soil that bringing them to the surface requires Truth or Consequences.

Note: This book contains sexual content, adult situations, and profanity

Link to buy:

Truth or Consequences on Amazon

 

Links to social media:

Twitter – @AprilALunaWrite – www.twitter.com/AprilALunaWrite
Facebook Writer’s page: www.facebook.com/AuthorAprilALuna

Child of the Night, by April A. Luna

Child of the Night is the first book in The Sarah De Luz Files series, which will be released soon. The cover art design team is finalizing the book cover. Once completed, the cover will be reveled. An excerpt of the first chapter is listed below.

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Child of the Night Excerpt:

Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert. – Kahlil Gibran

Chapter 1

My name is Sarah De Luz, and I am a true child of the night. No. I’m not a vampire or a werewolf. I’m not a supernatural being. I’m different because I have xeroderma pigmentosum—XP for short. Now, don’t run and grab your dictionary or search the Internet. It’s just a fancy word for sun allergy, an extreme sun allergy.

Scanning my room, I take in the mundane surroundings. A large covered window spans the length of one of the plum-purple walls. It’s  seven steps from the side of my bed. I know this because I’ve counted them numerous times before. Seems a shame to cover up the beauty of the window’s architecture. But any exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet is forbidden. Even minute amounts can cause irreparable damage to my skin. So, the curtains stay closed during the daylight hours only to be opened under the cloak of darkness.

The red numbers glowing on the clock, on top of the bedside table, reads 11:15. Scooting my feet out from under the warm covers, I inch off the bed fully clothed. Wrapping my fingers around the golden-braided cord of the curtain, I draw them open, exposing the bay window. Moonlight bathes my room. The darkness provides a sense of comfort. It offers the promise of life and a touch of adventure. In the lurid depths of the night, extraordinary beauty blooms if one knows where to look.

Staci Mack, my three-year-old half-sister, moans a complaint between pursed pink lips and rolls over, hiding her delicate face under the lavender comforter on my full size bed. She’s afraid to sleep alone, especially in the dark, which is why she’s in my bed instead of hers most nights. I guess you can say she’s a child of the light.

Sliding the latch on the window generates a muffled click. The lock springs open. Tipping my head toward the open bedroom door, I listen for soft footsteps on the Spanish-tile floor. Silence fills the air. With ease, I scoot the window up just enough to slip through.

“Morph.” His name rolls off the tip of my tongue like a fleeting whisper in the night.

A large ocelli-and-tear-stained-marked head comes into view. Stretching his long elegant neck, he slithers onto the window sill. His golden-colored eyes reflect the moonlight. He chirps, in a hushed tone, as if sharing a secret message between friends.

“Come on, boy. We’re burning moonlight.”

Morph leaps out of the house with the grace of a stealthy cat, and I slide the window down. Standing at a total of thirty inches long, from chest to rump, and weighing almost forty pounds, he’s on the large side of the Savannah cat family.

The metal trash cans, several feet away, rattle. Morph inspects the contents of each one. A cornucopia of odors wafts in the air. Covering my nose does little to filter the putrid smell. My dad, Anthony De Luz, and his wife, June don’t approve of my nightly outings, but luckily, they’re heavy sleepers. It would take an earthquake to wake them in the dead of the night.

I grab the handlebars of my bike. They’re leaning against the house. Turning back toward the window, the covers on my bed move rhythmically with each breath Staci takes. She will sleep until dawn, never realizing I left.

The cool night air is still, void of any breeze, which is unusual for fall in Deadwater, Maine. But the streets are empty, as usual, this time of night. Not many people venture out into the dark, but there are a few exceptions like Mr. Jackson. He lives several houses down and has insomnia most nights. For an old guy, he’s pretty cool because he keeps my night excursions a secret. I think he knows my dad would flip-out if he knew I was out most nights, especially since I’m supposed to be tucked snug in bed.

The tell-tale sound of wood-on-wood resonates. He’s sitting in a wooden rocking chair, bundled up in the dark on his front porch. “Evening, Mr. Jackson.”

“It’s a cold one tonight,” Mr. Jackson yells out in a southern draw, his voice rough and raspy from emphysema. “Feels and smells like rain. I can feel it deep down in my bones. You be careful now, you hear?”

“I always am .” Releasing the handle bars, I wave. “Besides, I have Sir Morph, my trusty bodyguard with me.”

“Ah . . . Sir Morph, I almost forgot about your gallant protector.” His body is wracked with bronchial spasms. “Enjoy the moonlight. But be weary of what may be spawning in the darkness, child.”

“Catch you on the way back.” I pedal past his manicured lawn.

My dad told me we moved to Nowheresville because it’s a small community. A nice place to start a new life. He thought it would be better for me, help me cope with my mom’s death. But honestly, I think it was more for him than me. So, we ended up in a small dead-end town because that’s what he said would be good for us. But it doesn’t matter where I am because the light will always confine me to the walls of my caged fortress.

I’ll never strolls the grounds of a college campus under the sun’s rays or tour a bustling city on a warm summer’s day. Tubing on the river or visiting a theme park during daylight hours will never be part of my life. But under the light of the moon, within the freedom of darkness, the essence of my soul thrives and flourishes. He doesn’t understand I can’t live in the light, but I wish he did.

I thirst for freedom from the walls that confine me because I know there’s a whole other world to be explored out there in the darkness. My condition frightens him, and I understand why. But it’s all I’ve ever known, so it seems normal to me. Why can’t he see that I need more out of life than four walls? I can’t live in a bubble forever, sheltered from the world, not when I know there’s more to life than what I’ve experienced.

Rounding the corner of Holston Avenue and Pier Drive, my brown cotton hoodie slides over my forehead. The only signs of life are a few bull bats flying around a handful of streetlights. Bowing my head, to avoid direct contact with the artificial lights, my feet keep pedaling at a steady pace. Morph glances over his shoulder, making sure I‘m still behind him. He picks up his pace because he knows we’re heading to Chase Pond, my one true refuge.

At the entrance of the pond, I haul my bike off the road and chain it to a metal rod that’s attached to the fence surrounding the city park. The gate is locked, which is odd, but it won’t stop us. Morph crawls under the cold steel bars and groans. I laugh. His lofty golden eyes ask the unspoken question, ‘What did I do?’

“Ah . . . Morph, you’re the best.”

He shifts his weight from paw-to-paw, waiting for me to climb over. On the other side, we walk down to the water’s edge. The rhythmic movement of the water lapping against the wooden legs of the dock makes a sloshing noise that whooshes in my ears. The clamor of the pond comes to life like a well-orchestrated movement of a symphony playing Mahler’s Fifth . Closing my eyes, I breathe in the sounds of the night. Why can’t all of life be this peaceful and free?

The intonation of a splash sputters to my left, and I open my eyes. Morph prowls along the bank chasing shadows in the dark. He treads into the shallow water at the edge. His meow and chirp is buoyant and carefree.

“Come on boy.” A crisp breeze cools my skin, chilling me to the bone. “It’s way too cold for a swim.”

Taking long strides, my sneakers crunch the brown grass under foot. Closing the distance between us, I scratch behind his alert ears. He rubs his head against my leg, nipping the outside of my hand

Cocking his head sideways, his ears tuck back. “Mirrp,” he chirps before trotting off, sniffing the night air.

After stripping off the outer layer of clothing I’m wearing, jogging pants and a zipper hoodie, goose bumps erupt over my goose pimpled flesh. My breath is visible when exhaling. It might be cold in my shorts and T-shirt now, but that won’t last long. Unlocking my phone, I scroll through the menu, finding my jogging tunes. Sliding the blue and red ear buds into place, I crank up the classical sounds of Telemann, Dvorak, and Beethoven and then tuck the device inside my sports bra. Picking up my discarded clothing, I drape them over the railing at the entrance of the dock and retie my shoes.

Telemann’s  Fantasia, in B flat major, croons in my ears. The carefree and lighthearted violin piece lifts my spirits. Morph’s head pops up over some tall weeds. Stepping onto the worn dirt path, I take off jogging the two mile trail. He runs up beside me, pacing my steps .

It’s nice to let go and extend my stride. The tension and stress of the day slowly melt away with each slap of my shoes on the solid ground. My father doesn’t understand I can’t be his little girl forever. I need to stretch my wings and see where the winds of time will take me.

A light mist falls on the last leg of my run. The dock entrance comes into view. The pounding of my heart slows, and my body cools. Walking up to my discarded clothing, I pick up my pants and wiggle them on over my shoes. Without unzipping my hoodie, I slide it over my head. It warms my damp body. Freeing the buds from my ears, I retrieve my phone. My fingers scroll through the menu. Turning off the music playing, I slip it into the front pocket of my hoodie.

Sliding a small bottle of water out of my jacket, my cell phone falls to the ground with a thud. Morph scurries up and sniffs the device. The screen is unscathed. It’s a few minutes after midnight. My father won’t be up for another six hours. After slipping the phone back into my pocket, I twist the cap off of the plastic water container. The clear liquid is cool and quenches my thirst. Morph stands on his hind legs, pawing at my arms.

“Okay. Okay. I know you’re thirsty too.” Snickering, I tip the bottle until a small stream emerges. Morph laps the water mid-stream. With all the water surrounding us, I’ve never figured out why he has to drink mine. When he’s finished, I cap the bottle and step onto the dock. Morph runs down to the end of the free-flowing platform. His movements are silent and fluid.

The rubber soles of my shoes grip the coarse wood planks. Halfway down the dock, the hardwood groans under my weight. The wood giving way is predictable, another few steps and it will happen again. Deadwater is predictable. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Nothing ever happens in Deadwater, Maine—nothing of importance anyway. I should know, especially since I’ve lived here for a portion of my childhood and on into my teen years, which is pretty good for someone with my condition, so I’m told. I may be in a club shared by 1 out of 250,000 people, but I don’t dwell on the things I can’t change. So, I live as a child of the night, exploring all the world has to offer when everyone else is sleeping or should be asleep.

Morph watches from the end of the dock, chirping softly. I close the gap between us and sit down. My legs and feet dangle off the edge, several inches above the water. A warm nose sniffs my hoodie, searching every pocket and opening. His muzzle comes to rest on my right-hand pocket.

“Moouw!” He snorts and paws at the fabric.

“Okay, okay.”

Morph climbs onto my lap and sticks his head into my pocket. He’s all muscle, and a big baby. Yeah, a big baby who likes to nip and drool.

“Merwoooow.” Morph shifts his weight back and forth on his long hind legs

I pull a clear bag from my pocket. “Are these what you’re looking for, buddy?”

His body gyrates back and forth in anticipation. I empty the contents into the palm of my hand. He laps up the soft, chewy chunks of summer sausage with his rough pink tongue.

The frosty air bites at my warm, pale hand, which is now covered in sausage oils and cat saliva. When the treats are gone, Morph lies down next to me with his head on my lap. I scratch under his chin and rub his belly.

A  noise breaks the still of the night. I jump. Morph’s ears perk up. He voices a low, throaty growl. Three silhouette’s moving by the water’s edge, next to the dock entrance, catches my eye. A flash of light sparks in the darkness, followed by a loud boom. My heart races in my chest, and I swallow a lump in my throat. One of the three figures  standing falls to the ground.

Geez . . . was that a gun? My thoughts run wild, and my breath hitches in the back of my throat. I freeze in place.

Morph’s hutches raise and the hair on his back stands on end. “Grr.” He springs into action.

He slips through my trembling hands, sprinting off before I can grab him.

An icy grip grabs my right leg, just above the ankle, and jerks me downward. Screaming, I claw at the wood. My fingers find a small open slat between the planks to hold onto. The pounding rhythm of my racing heart beats in my chest and throbs in my ears. Pulling with all my might, I lift myself partially onto the edge, but my feet are still in the frigid water. Something is latched onto my ankle. Kicking with my left leg, I yank free of the tight grasp and roll onto my hands and knees.

A third of the way down the dock, two men are standing. One of them raises an odd-looking handgun. Morph leaps several feet into the air. A cracking sound rings in my ears. Morph yelps and falls into the water.

“Morph.” I spring to my feet.

“I’m sorry about your pet, Sarah, but I promise, he’ll be okay,” says a dark figure in the night.

“How do you know my name?” A tremor washes over my body.

“We’ve been watching you.”

“You didn’t have to hurt him.” I fight back the tears threatening to spill over the threshold of my eyes.

“He’s only stunned. My associate will extract him.”

“You mean like how he tried to pull me into the water?”

“No. What are you talking about?” The man takes a few steps forward. His eyes widen, and he shouts, “Look out.” He fires two rounds that slice through the night.

The bullets whiz past my head and shoulder. A solid object slams into me. The force knocks me off the dock and into the icy water below. My scream is silenced by the rush of cold water filling my mouth and nose. Clawing at the water, I break the surface for a frigid breath of air. My chattering teeth start a chain reaction, shaking my body from head to toe.

“Sarah,” the man yells.

Dog-paddling, I cough and sputter. Water laps up and over my nose, making it hard to breathe. I listen attentively for any sound or movement because I know, I’m not alone in the water. Whatever knocked me off the platform is still here, somewhere. Turning around, I spot the man on the dock.

“Swim to me.” He’s kneeling at the water’s edge.

“Why? So you can shoot me, too?”

“It’s not what you think. You’re not safe in the water.”

“Well, I’m sure as hell not safe on the dock. I saw you shoot—”

Arms wrap around my upper body, immobilizing my movements, and I’m pulled underwater before I can finish speaking. Thrashing my body side to side, I struggle to break free. But the iron grip intensifies.

My body shakes and quivers. The image of the moon overhead moves further out of reach the deeper I’m pulled into the depths of unknown darkness. Turning around, I come face to face with my captor. Two green glowing orbs peer back at me, inches from my face. My screams of terror bellow under the waves of the water. They sound muffled.

‘Do not be afraid.’ The words softly echo in my head.

‘What?’ Every hair on my body stands on end.

‘Sleep, Sarah. Close your eyes and sleep.’

‘No.’ I scream the word in the recesses of my mind. Twisting and rocking back and forth, I finally free a hand. Raking my nails across my captor’s face, he releases me.

‘Please. You do not understand.’

My lungs ache, screaming for air. Breaking the surface, I suck in a ragged breath of air. Dog paddling, with stiff and trembling limbs, I swim toward the bank. The being grips my left leg at mid-thigh, and I’m yanked back down below the surface of the water. Arms encase my waist, drawing me into a firm embrace.

‘No, please.’ My thoughts reel, and I’m once again face to  face with the glowing orbs.

‘Relax. Close your eyes, Sarah. Close your eyes and sleep.’

Humanlike features come into focus. His lips aren’t moving, and we’re under water. So, how the hell can I hear what he’s saying?

‘Telepathy.’

‘Wait. You can hear my thoughts?’ My heart pounds, keeping a steady cadence.

‘Yes. Just as you can hear mine. Now sleep.’

Long spindly fingers touch my eyes, lowering my lids. I jerk and twist in his arms, but he only tightens his hold. My body’s numb and my mind clouds over.

‘Am I dying?’

‘No. But you must sleep.’

Darkness invades my thoughts, and my consciousness slips away. The orbs of his glowing green eyes are burned into memory. Drifting off, only one thought lingers, ‘Is this what it feels like to die?

April A. Luna may be found at the following websites:
Twitter – @AprilALunaWrite – www.twitter.com/AprilALunaWrite
Facebook Writer’s page: www.facebook.com/AuthorAprilALuna

Truth or Consequences

I’m excited to reveal the cover for Truth or Consequences, a romantic thriller. Soul Mate Publishing has slated a tentative release in May.

Final Truth or Consequences (small) copy

Danielle Herring is happy with her life in Texas just the way it is – easy, relaxed, and simplistic; however, conflicting worlds collide and heinous transgressions are committed when she’s whisked to New Mexico and into a world she doesn’t understand. If she had realized the impact of her beloved Grandma Mae’s last words, her life may have been easier. Danielle may have been prepared to face the daunting skeletons. The ones locked deep in the recesses of a dark and looming closet where treachery lurks in the shadows of her family tree.

While searching for answers to the secrets of her past, unknowingly, she makes the skeletons dance and is thrust into the arms of two men she knows little about. Drake Del Bosque and Stephen Briggs are everything her grandmother tried to protect her from. Drake is dark and foreboding. Stephen is abrupt and brash. Who should she trust?

Danielle may have been kept in the dark, but she is not blind to the meaning of love and family. She has much to learn as she is entwined in a formidable love triangle that will test her courage and resolve. Some deep-seeded secrets and desires are buried so deep in the soil that bringing them to the surface requires Truth or Consequences.