In honor of Short Story Month – an #excerpt of THE SEARCH

May is Short Story Month.

Short story month began back in 2007 to showcase books that could be read in one sitting. Now there isn’t an official number of words that constitutes a short story but the general consensus online is that a short story is between 1000 and 7,500 words.

Hmmm…that makes my “short” story, The Search, which is a prequel to my The Elemental trilogy, not technically a “short” story. However, I call it a short story because 12,000 words is much less than my full length novels that have 80,000+ words.

So in honor of Short Story Month, let me share with you an excerpt of my “short” story The Search.

You can get The Search for FREE from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo StoreiTunes or Smashwords where it is available in all e-book formats.

You can also purchase it for 99 cents on Amazon.

The Search: Book Description

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

The Search: Excerpt

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw.

You can’t be serious.

“We can make it,” Nolan said, speaking directly into his mind.

Tosh looked up at him, but Nolan wasn’t looking at the ravine. He was looking over his shoulder at the three men on horseback chasing them. Tosh caught a glimpse of a hefty man with a red beard leaning forward, urging his mount to run faster. He clearly was gaining on them. Tosh looked at the ravine before them.

It is too far for her to jump.

“Ah come on, Tosh. She’ll do just fine.”

Tosh sighed. Nolan rarely listened to any advice he gave him unless it coincided with something that Nolan already wanted to do. Knowing there was no way and no time to change the young man’s mind, Tosh curled up against him. He dug his claws deeper into the saddle and wrapped his tail protectively around his body. He felt Nolan lean forward as the mare’s hooves left the ground. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds until he felt the mare land on the other side. She stumbled slightly, and Tosh opened his eyes to see a small section of ground at the ravine’s edge fall.

Nolan reined in the mare and turned to look back at the ravine and the approaching men. Tosh glanced up and saw the look of concentration on his face. Suddenly, the ground shook. The edge of the ravine crumbled. Rocks and dirt fell until the gorge was three feet wider than it had been moments earlier. The men pursuing them pulled their mounts to a halt at the edge of the gorge.

“You won’t get away from us,” the redhead yelled.

Nolan raised his hand and waved before urging the mare toward the forest. Tosh glanced back to see the men swearing as they eyed the ravine which now was clearly too wide for them to jump. As they entered the forest, Nolan slowed the mare to a walk.

“That was amazing,” he said with a chuckle.

You’re lucky the mare made it.

“Oh, Tosh, you worry too much,” he said ruffling Tosh’s fur.

Tosh turned to glare at him and then proceeded to lick the fur back into the correct direction. We wouldn’t have had to find out if she could make it if you just learn to control your temper.  

Tosh didn’t really expect Nolan ever to learn to do that. He had been trying to drill that lesson into him since he was a headstrong teenager but to no avail.

“I know. I know. And stop using my Elemental power in front of others,” Nolan said with a sigh. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

I have never said you shouldn’t use it. You just need to decide when it is wise to do so.

“So using it to defend myself isn’t wise?”

Defending yourself is one thing. Picking fights is another. Tosh sighed. I guess this means we are moving again.

“But first we have to go pick up our belongings.”

They circled back toward the town. When they entered it an hour later, Tosh kept an eye out for the men, but the streets were nearly empty. No one paid them any attention as Nolan stopped before the boarding house where they had been staying. Tosh remained on the mare as Nolan ran upstairs to gather their things. Within minutes, the young man had returned, and they were on their way out of town.

 

Today’s Featured Author – K.M. Hodge

Please welcome author K.M. Hodge to my blog. Her latest book, The Sally Ride Chronicle, is a prequel to her Syndicate Born trilogy. And best of all it is FREE until Saturday March 3rd so get your copy today from Amazon!

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys, and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I started my first novel at the tender age of 18, but my own feelings of inadequacy prevented me from finishing the novel. The novel, Red on the Run, didn’t get completed until eighteen years later. The novel eventually got picked up by a publisher and went on to win the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Thrillers. My advice to my younger self would be to complete the book and not give up.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

While it took me eighteen years to write my first novel, the others have gone by much faster. In the last three years I have written almost nine novels and published seven. The fastest book I wrote was my Syndicate-born novel: Black and White Truth, which took me 60 days to write.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest release, The Sally Ride ChronicleA Syndicate-born Prequel, gives a look at what drove Sally Ride to become a spy and take down the Syndicate. Readers asked me to write more about my characters Sally and Alex. According to the current reviews, I met reader expectations.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would absolutely be the character Sally. She is a strong, determined and feisty gal. She preservers through intense situations and fights even when it seems like all hope is gone. Her evolution through the series was the most interesting and fun to write.

Book Blurb

The Syndicate doesn’t believe in divorce, but murder is another story.

Sally wants out—out of her marriage, out of the mob, out of Ocean City. An impossible dream. That is until the MDNA, a secret hacktivist group, invites her to join the ranks of their rebellion. The goal? Take down the criminal empire.

She’s no Jane Bond, but no one in her town suspects the quiet church-going mom is a threat, especially The Syndicate’s criminal defense attorney, Michael David, who’s got a thing for mysterious blondes. His love-’em-and-kill-’em exploits, and his penchant for causing witnesses to disappear, make him enemy number one for the hacktivist group. Sally’s mission sounds simple enough—destroy the lawyer’s life and make him pay—but….

Once she starts, there’ll be no turning back.

Follow Sally as she attempts the unthinkable—take down the largest crime ring in US history—in this prequel to The Syndicate-Born Trilogy.

About the Author 

Award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys, and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband. K.M. Hodge truly enjoys hearing from her readers, so don’t be shy about dropping her an email or say hit on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

You can get The Sally Ride Chronicle on Amazon for FREE through March 3.

Today’s Featured Author – Yasmin Shiraz

Today, I welcome author Yasmin Shiraz to my blog. Yasmin is just wrapping up a Virtual Book Tour as she promotes her latest release – Loyal, a young adult novel released this week. (You can purchase Loyal on Amazon.)

Interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I began writing when I was still in single digits. I wrote and compiled my first book of poetry when I was 19. I considered myself a writer at that age. By the age of 21,  I had written my first television episode spec script. Many people consider themselves aspiring writers, but I believe you are a writer the moment you commit to completing a work.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences is in your books?

A lot of my experiences dance between the pages of my books. I am so inspired by real life and I convey that energy in my books.  In both the Retaliation series and the Tisha Ariel Nikkole series, I’ve created strong, female protagonists. These characters guide the stories and every decision ripples through the books. I believe I have a strong personality and I’m encouraged by the decisions that my female protagonists make. In many cases, I’ve had to make similar decisions or have been put in similar situations.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas are influenced by my research on youth, culture and the entertainment business. Additionally, since I’ve worked with youth for the past twelve years, I’m inspired by the fearless teens I’ve met along the way. For my adult novel series, I’ve created plots based on my personal experiences as a hip hop / entertainment journalist and my work with top secret security clearance based government agencies.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest book is Loyal. It’s the prequel to Retaliation. It’s about the relationship between a brother and sister. In the book Retaliation readers were able to see how protective Khalil was of his sister Tashera, but in Loyal, the readers get to learn how he was paralyzed and how it impacted their relationship.

What inspired you to write this book?

Khalil is one of the most memorable characters from my book Retaliation. I wanted readers to learn about Khalil and Tashera’s relationship. I cherish the close relationship that I have with my brother. Our relationship inspired me to write Loyal.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book?

Loyal is the prequel to Retaliation which won a Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers Award by the American Library Association. With this release, there are three books in this series. Retaliation tells the story of Tashera who is now in high school and is traumatized when she is jumped by three girls that she doesn’t know.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

If I could be any character from one of my books, I’d be Tisha Ariel Nikkole from the Exclusive, Privacy, Devious and Secrets adult novels. She is a free spirit, determined and is living her life on her own terms. She is not allowing anyone to control her life or her destiny. She is brave beyond her years. I love her courage and boldness.

What book are you reading right now?

Currently I’m reading the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I’m a fan of every kind of book that has ever been written. This book is non-fiction and explains how people who don’t have boundaries in their lives, lose control of their lives. This books is absolutely changing my life for the better. This is one of my favorite books of all time.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a meditation enthusiast. I’ve even taught my kids to meditate. When I first finished graduate school, a college student in one of my classes told me that I should meditate and she gave me a book on meditation. I took the book but it took me a decade before I ever read the book. But once I read the book and started meditating, I felt the power of meditation in my life. It makes me more calm and keeps my head clear. I love meditation. My motto: When in doubt, meditate.

Book Blurb

loyalWhen a gang member is shot at a heist, his sister copes with trying to help him heal while he proves his loyalty to his crew. In the prequel to Retaliation, brother and sister, Khalil and Tashera find themselves on different sides of loyalty. Khalil’s loyalty to his gang threatens the loyalty he should have to his family. This book illustrates the dynamic between a brother and sister and shows their love, challenges and desire to be there for each other.

Loyal, Retaliation and Accused make up the Retaliation Young Adult trilogy.

About the Author

yasminYasmin Shiraz is an author, filmmaker, speaker and activist. She uses her passion for life to fuel her books, documentaries, speaking engagements and social activities. She’s spoken at over 100 colleges, universities, middle schools and high schools as well as non-profit organizations. She’s an award winning Writer/ Director and enjoys producing work on youth and community issues. By day, she’s the President of Still Eye Rise Media and runs the Yasmin Shiraz website.

You can find out more about Yasmin on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Loyal on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Sydney Scrogham

Today, I welcome back author Sydney Scrogham to my blog. Sydney’s latest book, Ariel: The First Guardian, a paranormal romance, came out last month. (Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.) Check out this excerpt…

Excerpt – Prologue and First Chapter 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

I never wake up and think today’s the day I’m going to get dumped.

February wind chills my shoulders, and I tug the pink and blue patterned quilt snug around me and keep walking. The quilt is soft under my fingertips, smoothed from years of rubbing in my mother’s absence. One of the pink polka dot squares is frayed and flapping free.  I could wear a coat, but it’s a jab against my father to sneak out in just a quilt. He thinks he can control me, but he can’t. He especially can’t control who I’m going to meet. Ryan, a.k.a. saintly pastor’s kid, is the first human being to make me feel like I’m made of more than slime.

The trail under my feet is brown and well-worn from countless walks to the river.  Yellowed grass struggles to survive on either side of my path. My knee-length floral print dress ripples around my legs and my exposed skin prickles where the wind bites. I hate flowery anything. Just seeing my reflection in clothes so feminine puts cinderblocks in my lungs. But this was mom’s hand-me-down. I wish she could’ve met Ryan. He’s reserved his whole day for me today. I can’t stop the stupid smile that smooths over my mouth. Maybe I’ll get kissed for the first time—but do I really want that?

Two trees stand guard by a picnic table on the riverbank. The water’s surface is smooth and reflects the gray clouds overhead. Ryan’s perched on the top of the picnic table and he props his feet up on the bench. He has on his black trousers and a pressed white shirt, and I’m warmed by the thought he wore his best for me. But something about his posture plucks a nerve in my abdomen. His shoulders hunch over his knees and his head is down. The black brim of his hat hides his eyes as he faces the river.

I should go back. Now.

No. That’s my inner victim voice speaking. She always thinks I’m in trouble, but I’m teaching her that Ryan won’t hurt me. I hop onto the picnic table behind Ryan, swing my legs over, and hug him from behind. A cool breeze from the river surface steals the warmth of his musk from my nose. Instead, I inhale a moist, earthy smell.

I whisper in his ear. “Hey.” The soft sound of my voice is leveled perfectly with the world around me, waiting, like we’re all about to witness some epic show.

Ryan leans away and twists to face me. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

I’ve got a joke ready, but the deep tone in his voice makes me swallow it. His blue eyes are devoid of jest. When he rubs his neck, his gaze hovers at his knees, but all I can focus on is the darkened wood grain of the picnic table.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you about my previous relationship,” Ryan says.

In my mind, I leap up and leave, but in reality I’m frozen to my spot on the picnic table. Not even the quilt can shelter me from this chill.

Ryan keeps going. “God told me I needed to tell you I’m not over Kat.”

My eyes slide shut. Maybe now that I’m in darkness all of this will go away. Poof.  You’re gone. Your ex is gone. It’s just us. But when I open my eyes again, Ryan’s eyes haven’t changed. His words haven’t sunk into me, either. Something’s mixed up. I’m not a pro, but I’m pretty sure you don’t make a candlelight dinner for your girlfriend (like he did for me last night) while you’re still in love with someone else.

I relax my jaw enough to speak. “What are you saying?” A dead leaf, one that clung to the tree beside me for this long through winter, launches free into the air, unable to hold on any longer. The wind carries it to the ground and skips it away.

Ryan’s blue eyes, gray in the wintery light, look out at the river. He whispers, “She’s the one. Hers is the face I want to see every morning when I wake up.”

My lips part in shock. Now my brain catches up. My stomach flops out and smacks the ground under the picnic table. Not literally—yet. I tear my gaze away from him. Here I was, dreaming like an idiot about a first kiss. My face burns with a mix of embarrassment and anger.

Ryan turns toward me. “I’m sorry, Ariel. I should’ve told you sooner.”

I wish I could say I got up and left then. But I didn’t. I waited while my heart ripped to shreds in Ryan’s silence, and the memory of his eyes burned solid into my brain.

In retrospect, I had no idea I’d never see him again in this world. I had no idea I’d have recurring dreams that we were still together. I had no idea this emotional shock would wreck my hope for something better and push me toward murdering my father. As soon as I hit prison, I should’ve told myself to give up. End it.

But I didn’t. I said yes when someone offered me a way out as a service worker in a wildlife protection program. At least, that’s what the genetic engineering company called it. Little did I know that Ryan would volunteer for the same program.

Now, I’m in Agalrae. I could admit to you that I still love Ryan. But does he still love me?

Chapter 1

FIVE YEARS LATER…

I never expected to see Ryan again after a break-up like that. I definitely didn’t expect to be his work partner. But here we are.

Today is the last day of removing signs of human civilization from the Agalraen mainland. I pound off fence boards. One by one, the nails groan free until the sun-stained wood panel jumps into the overgrown grass. These are the only two auxiliary paddocks left. Alicorns used to stand around in confinement while completing their genetic tests. Just the thought makes my upper lip twitch. The sun is hot around me, but the breeze is cool—thank goodness, or I’d wither faster than a snail in salt. I lift my green helmet and wipe my eyebrows.

“Just chuck the thing,” Ryan says. On the other side of the fence, he shakes his curly blond head free from his light blue helmet and it falls to the grass with a muffled plop. When he looks up at me, one damp curl is still plastered between his eyes. I want to move it, but I don’t want to be weird. We’re friends—partners in this Guardian gig—but we were once something else I can’t define because we haven’t mentioned it once.

I saw Ryan a couple years ago when we first came to Agalrae. At first, I still hated him. But he wasn’t the same person who left me five years ago. Now I don’t know what we are. But we settled right into the flow of fate like we’d never been apart. The people in charge of this settlement project decided to partner me with Ryan for work chores—mistake in the beginning a few years ago, but we worked it out. Yes, it was horribly awkward. And now all of the obnoxious researchers from the human world have finally left. Geneticists finally gave up trying to make a real-life replica of a toy line for Hasbro. But I’m not stupid. I know there was something else going on here. The government doesn’t pull people out of prison—me—and put them to work in a foreign land without good reason. Things shut down before I could figure out why, and maybe that’s for the best. I have a different goal now – protecting the Creator’s chosen, the Alicorns of Agalrae.

I duck my head out of my helmet and drop it. It rolls over next to Ryan’s. The organization in charge of us made us each wear cheap body armor. They claimed it was to keep us from getting hurt. Alicorns are vicious creatures, you know. (No, they’re not, but I’d be grumpy, too, if you shoved needles in me all the time.) Like I said, I have my suspicions about why people really barged into this world. They knew something else was out here. Something dark and powerful they wanted for themselves.

“Don’t think this means I love your suggestions,” I say to Ryan.

“Yes ma’am.” He salutes and pops his heels together.

I roll my eyes and jab in the dirt around the fence post with my shovel. “It’s hard to believe this is the last bit of our world left in Agalrae.”

Ryan shrugs and pokes around at the other half of the post. “Who puts a fence by a beach anyways?”

“Cynic.”

“Scoundrel.”

I smirk and wiggle my eyebrows. I shouldn’t like that word so much. Ryan smiles at me and that curl on his face is too tempting, so I look over my shoulder down the fence line. Our other four teammates are a vision of a broken rainbow. Rebecca in royal blue and Seth in white are work partners, and so are Victoria in pink and Tony in yellow. We were all assigned our partners when we got here under the impression we were going to work for a government wildlife preservation. Ha, what a hoax. More like the government wanted to research a new species and failed. I heard rumors that the genetic engineering company calling the shots around here tried to take an Alicorn back through the Agalraen portal in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. But once the Alicorn got into our human world, it started to… well, change into a normal horse. No more wings, no more horns, no more multi-colored hair.

Crazy, right? Alicorns were here in Agalrae long before we were. Why hasn’t Agalrae ever been on a map? I couldn’t tell you. I’ll let that information settle in your brains before I explain the rest of the weirdness to you. We don’t want you biting off more than you can chew. It’s best to absorb Agalrae in little crack bites. I say “crack bites” because this place is addicting.

Most people—there were about fifty of us running the warehouse facility—went home when the government’s project with Hasbro and geneticists ran out of funding. Or they realized they’d never get what they wanted here. I’m not sure what’s true. But they’re gone and those of us left over, the Creator’s chosen, remain Alicorn Guardians. (I’m sure you’ll find out why we’re called “Guardians” soon, and you won’t even need me to tell you.) There used to be ten of us. The Creator appeared to each one of us personally, gave us his light, and told us to protect his home from things that seek to corrupt it. In this case, humans with intentions different from us. But one by one Guardians left to return to the human world until we got down to six. We’re about to be five.

Ryan strikes the base of the fence post and it vibrates a little at the top. I nudge—okay, more than nudge—shove the post forward until it taps him on the shoulder. He straightens and his mouth twists into a half smile, half frown when he raises an eyebrow. That’s his look that says I dare you to do that again.

So, I do. I tap, tap, tap his shoulder with the leaning fence post and I don’t let my stale expression crack.

“Taking a break, guys,” Ryan says. Since we work for ourselves now, making our own schedule, he can make that call. His shovel hits the dirt. He takes one step toward me and fire blazes in his blue eyes. That’s all the warning I need.

I spin and sprint toward the beach.  “Fish,” I shout. Within seconds, a blue Alicorn with a silvery pink mane and tail darts out of the trees. There’s a jagged white scar on her forehead where her horn used to extend for a fight, but Fish has been in one fight too many and broke off her horn. Her pink and baby blue wing feathers lying against her sides have a metallic sheen in the sun. Galloping toward me, she looks like a normal horse. Minus the color, of course. When I met her, I thought she looked like a rainbow fish. The name stuck.

“I’ve never known you to run from a fight, Ariel,” Ryan yells after me. His words are quick and gaspy, and his feet are pounding the grass just a smidge faster than mine, even though we’re the same height.

Fish shoulders into Ryan’s Alicorn, Valkadash, who is bright yellow and twice the size of Fish. Fish nips Valkadash’s shoulder and Valkadash squeals, “That hurts!”

Yes, the Alicorns talk. Except mine. Fish hasn’t spoken since she lost her horn. So she probably has a fancy name like Valkadash and she’s never told me. Her loss. I probably would’ve nicknamed her either way.

Fish gallops up next to me and I grab her mane and vault off the ground. I tug myself onto her back and balance on my elbows until my legs are fully around her sides. I sit up straight. The ground underneath me flashes from shadow to sun, shadow to sun as Fish carries me through the trees. When I glance over my shoulder, Valkadash swings her head around to help Ryan up, and then the game is on.

“Go, go,” I shout to Fish and I lean down into her mane. The trees break and welcome us to the beach. Fish kicks off at top speed, spraying sand up in my face. A visual image of me falling off skirts through my brain. I shove it away when I remember I left my helmet in the grass. The wind tugs at my golden brown hair and stings my eyes but comforting heat rises up from the sand beneath me. Valkadash’s hooves pound behind us and it seems like we’ve barely started before her yellow nose slides up behind my thigh. When I look back again, I see Ryan crouched on Valkadash’s back. My stomach tightens.

“You wouldn’t,” I say.

But he would. Ryan flings himself at me, but I won’t give him the satisfaction.  I throw myself off of Fish’s back and—oof bad idea—roll a ways through the sand. When the world stills and doesn’t look like a kaleidoscope anymore, I scramble to get my feet under me. Grainy bits of grit cling to my damp neck and I brush them away. I may be more stubborn than ten mules, but Ryan is my match in persistence.

And that, I suppose, the great irony of all, is why we’re still Guardian partners.  But he’s alien to me. We were emotionally intimate, and now we aren’t. We’ve matured, grown apart, and yet a part of us is still stuck together.

Ryan crashes into me from behind, but he doesn’t tackle me to the sand like I’m expecting. He hoists me into the air, flops me over his shoulder, and I scream. For a second, my vision darkens around the corners with a flashback from my less than ideal childhood. I mean, everyone thinks their childhood sucked, but mine really did. I force my lungs to take in air.  This is just Ryan. He won’t hurt me. My vision widens again with that reminder. There are puffy white clouds in the blue sky above me.

And Ryan’s marching away from the trees toward the lake. My vision bobs with the rhythm of his steps.

“Put me down,” I squeal. I beat my hands against his back plate. He doesn’t even grunt underneath my hollow-sounding thumps. When I try and twist around, he tightens both arms around my waist.

“Nope,” he says. “I’ve waited too long to do this.” His feet slosh into the water.

“Ryan!” For one horrible moment, I’m airborne and weightless, and then water shocks and swallows my whole body. I have a breath halfway through my nose and water burns my throat and lungs. Hacking, I come up with a wet wall of hair in my face.

Then, once the sound of my coughing quiets and I’m gasping, I hear Ryan laughing. Like pee-your-pants, thigh-slapping laughing. I shove my hair away from my face and glare at him.

“You should’ve seen your face,” Ryan says between breaths.

I wade closer and shove his cackling head under the water.  He grabs my ribs just where my breastplate ends. He knows I’m ticklish there. A strangled squealing noise wheezes out of me as I twist back away from him. Mistake. Because he shoves me under. I splash, he splashes back, and at some point I start laughing, too.

When Victoria, Tony, Rebecca, and Seth come onto the beach with their Alicorns, I stop. I shove Ryan’s shoulder one more time and walk out of the water. I can’t explain what just happened when they appeared, but Ryan feels it, too. Even when my back is turned, he doesn’t drag me under again.

Everyone looks at us to be leaders. Me especially.

Because Ryan is leaving.

Book Blurb

ariel2Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection.

Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever.

Ariel:  The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

About the Author

author photoSYDNEY SCROGHAM loves creating happy endings. She started writing when she was 12. Her first book, Chase, was published by Koehler Books in August 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe.

To learn more about Sydney, check out her website.

You can purchase Ariel: The First Guardian on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.