Spooktacular Spotlight on C. Stine’s Witch of the Cards

Hello my Dear Readers!
Catherine Stine is here today as part of this month’s Bewitching Book Tours Haunted Halloween Spooktacular. Check out her paranormal historical suspense story as well as her thoughts on spooky beach towns as story settings. Be sure to enter the tour giveaway for a chance at a signed copy of Witch of the Cards!
xo, Celia

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Title: Witch of the Cards
Author: Catherine Stine
Genre: Paranormal historical suspense
Publisher: Konjur Road Press
Release date: March 16, 2016
ISBN 13: 978-0-9848282-6-5
ISBN 10: 0-9848282-6-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-9848282-7-2
ISBN 10: 0-9848282-7-3
# or Pages: 265
Word count: 76K
Cover Artist: Mae I Designs

Fiera was born a sea witch with no inkling of her power. And now it might be too late.

Witch of the Cards is a supernatural romantic suspense set in 1932 on the Jersey shore. Fiera has left the Brooklyn orphanage where she was raised and works in Manhattan as a nanny. She gets a lucky break when her boss pays for her vacation in Asbury Park. One evening, Fiera and her new friend Dulcie wander down the boardwalk and into Peter Dune’s Tarot & Séance, where they attend a card reading.

Fiera has an unsettling ability to sense future events and people’s hidden agendas. She longs to either find out the origin of her powers or else banish them because as is, they make her feel crazy. When, during the reading, her energies somehow bond with Peter Dune’s and form an undeniable ethereal force, a chain of revelations and dangerous events unspool.

For one, Fiera finds out she is a witch from a powerful sea clan, but that someone is out to stop her blossoming power forever. And though she is falling in love with Peter, he also has a secret side. He’s no card reader, but a private detective working to expose mediums. Despite this terrible betrayal, Fiera must make the choice to save Peter from a tragic Morro Cruise boat fire, or let him perish with his fellow investigators. Told in alternating viewpoints, Fiera and Peter each struggle against their deep attraction. Secrets, lies, even murder, lace this edgy fantasy.

From Lovers of Paranormal: “Interesting story of witches, deceit, secrets, romance and friendship. Fun and creative.”

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Apple Books | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

WITCH OF THE CARDS EXCERPT

If I only had a week in this glorious beach town, I wanted to catch up with sleep and plunge into as many escapades as possible—even bewildering, outlandish ones.

We walked in, to the jangle of Mr. Dune’s door chimes. I skated around, ogling the floor-to-ceiling shelves brimming with leather-bound books on cosmic mysteries, spiritualism, and witchcraft. Two immediate standouts were Ten Ways to Practice Mentalism and Dona Bella, Memoirs of a Southern Witch. These were my fare, similar to a favorite book at the public library—a tome on dark magic. The most stirring part was about each witch dynasty having its own grimoire, a sort of magical recipe book. I had no clue as to why dark tales tickled me so, and often wondered about my taste.

Still, I read everything I could get my hands on, even boring books that drifted me right off to the Land of Nod. At my nanny job, I was so desperate for stories I even read the tedious articles about cooking and how to throw a proper cocktail party in Mrs. Cuthbert’s Reader’s Digest and Home Arts magazines.

Mr. Dune strode toward us. His handsome aura and towering presence intimidated yet thrilled me. He was dressed in crisp, charcoal gray pants and a vest with a double-breasted pinstriped jacket. “Are you lovely ladies here for the séance?” He held out a long, elegant hand, studded with a silver ring. I barely collected my wits enough to shake it and nod. Dulcie’s hand whooshed out and hardly touched his before she clamped it protectively back to her side.

No doubt about it, he was the most striking man I’d ever seen. His thick mop of dark hair tapered into long sideburns, rendering his jawline a tad dangerous. I guessed he was in his mid-twenties. When his coffee-brown eyes gleamed at me, my breath caught, and a heat greater than any moonshine fired through me.

We paid the dime admission. He escorted us to a round, wooden table with lion-footed legs where we joined a heavyset older couple and a reedy gentleman with thin, blond hair. His lime-fizz eyes darted over to Dulcie, and then away. Two empty chairs still beckoned.

Dulcie looked terrified, so I smiled at her. She calmed enough to take a seat.

Mr. Dune strode to the window, loosened the crimson curtains, and lowered their heavy velvet over the windows, lending the already-pensive storefront a mystical aura.

 

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The Allure of Creepy, Ramshackle Beach Towns as Settings for Dark Fantasy

by Catherine Stine

What is it exactly that makes edgy beach towns the perfect setting for sinister fantasy and historical suspense? I’ve always been attracted to the dark side, and particularly to strange beach towns. So far, I’ve set two novels in them.

When I first moved to New York City after college and a stint out west, you couldn’t tear me away from the dilapidated boardwalks of Coney Island. This was back before the arcade was renovated, back when the sideshow by the sea with its sword swallower and human pincushion were on full display. It was when a hungry, dirty capybara was caged in a box that read: Only $5 To See the Biggest Rat in the World! This poor critter was a plot point in Dorianna, my paranormal twist on Dorian Grey. And no surprise, I set Dorianna in Coney Island, and installed a sexy villain in Wilson Warren. He was an agent of the devil disguised as a videographer who prowled the beaches, making girls into viral Internet sensations for a very high price.

Fast-forward to my novel Witch of the Cards, set in 1932, about Fiera, a sea witch who has a special talent with Tarot (and not just reading the cards). Of course,I set it in a shady shore town, in this case, Asbury Park, NJ. You see, I’ve been coming to this gentrifying coastal town for years and know it well—its sunny moods but also its spooky, moody shades.

Around the turn of the century, and up until around 1945, Asbury Park used to be the stomping grounds of the glitterati. There were grand concerts in the art deco Convention Center, and people dressed to the nines would stroll on the boardwalk at night. Then came the race riots of the 1960s and the economic crash, and the place fell into major disrepair. Its only remaining claim to fame was The Stone Pony, where Bruce Springsteen rocked into the limelight.

About twenty-seven years ago, when I first ventured into the Asbury convention center, there was a huge hole in its roof that seagulls flew in and out of. And there was only one lonely saltwater taffy store on the boardwalk run by an ancient lady who seemed to have stepped out of a Stephen King novel. In Witch of the Cards the taffy sold in the shop has very odd effects, andI installed an illegal speakeasy in the taffy store basement. I turned the (actual) Paranormal Museum on CookwellAvenue into a place to hold séances that often went horribly wrong.

In Witch of the Cards, even the ocean hides terrible secrets.

There’s something about the scent of saltwater and hotdogs, the splintered, salt-dried boardwalk and the scream of people hurtling down on the arcade rides that gets my blood charging and my imagination firing. What about you?

Here’s a snippet of a scene when Fiera and her date Peter venture down to the basement speakeasy in the taffy store:

“Perhaps I was far too gone, but I didn’t care. Peter and I danced and danced. The room filled with the overflow from the convention hall dance—young lovers, bootlegger types with wide ties and cigars, older women with twinkling earrings and heavy bosoms, even a prostitute or two. I thought so anyway, because they wore way too much rouge and came alone to sit brazenly up at the bar with the gin rummies.

This time I couldn’t say whether or not I stepped on Mr. Dune’s polished wingtips. This time, he probably couldn’t be sure if he knocked his bony legs into mine. We had many more nips of absinthe, and I wolfed down another green-swirl taffy and before I knew it, I was leaning provocatively against Peter and laughing like a wild banshee.

I remember gaping up at him to see his black hair all disheveled and him mumbling indistinctly. And I, thinking that he was the most gorgeous human being I’d ever seen. I remember Dulcie grabbing one of my arms, and Peter grasping the other. I remember all of us howling at the crescent moon over the ocean, and the shocked sideways glance of the hotel proprietor as we all stumbled in.

I recall pulling out the Tarot he’d given me, and laying them out on the bedroom rug. I recall babbling at him—about a witch and a swindler and a boat—not necessarily in that order. I can still picture his expression of shocked surprise but not at what.

And I remember Peter’s lips branding my forehead—how could I ever forget that—while shocks of his lush black hair dangled deliciously on my burning cheeks. The last thing I recall before things went dark was kicking off my shoes.”

Happy Season of the Witch,
Catherine Stine

 

About Catherine Stine

Catherine Stine is a USA Today bestselling author of paranormal, urban and historical fantasy. Witch of the Wild Beasts won a second prize in the Romance Writers of America’s Sheila Contest. Other novels have earned Indie Notable awards and New York Public Library Best Books. She lives in New York State and grew up in Philadelphia. Before writing novels, she was a painter and fabric designer. She’s a visual author and sees writing as painting with words. Catherine loves spending time with her beagle Benny, writing about supernatural creatures, gardening and meeting readers at book fests.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | TikTok | GoodReads | BookBub | Amazon Author Page | YouTube | Newsletter

book cover

Catherine Stine’s Spooktacular Giveaway

1 signed copy of Witch of the Cards

Enter the BBT (Multi-Author) Halloween Spooktacular Rafflecopter Giveaway.

 

Halloween 2021 Spooktacular Tours: Eva’s Homecoming & A Demon’s Embrace

Hi Everyone!
I’m so happy it’s Halloween month. I’m on tour with my recent release (in an anthology), Eva’s Homecoming, along with my second book for the Cupid Dating Agency series, A Demon’s Embrace. My tours are part of the 2021 Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular. Visit any of my tour stops this month to enjoy some Halloween-themed posts, and be sure to enter my giveaway for a chance at a $20 Amazon US e-gift card!
xo,
Celia

p.s. Mark your calendars: Sign up for Trick or Treat With Bewitching Book Tours for free books! Plus, come to the live, multi-author Haunted Halloween Spooktacular Facebook Party, sponsored by Bewitching Book Tours, on Wednesday October 20, for chitchat and chances at still more giveaways! I’ll be there 12 – 1 PM Pacific / 3 – 4 PM Eastern.

A Demon's Embrace  by Celia Breslin book cover 2 Halloween posts you may see at tour stops: “Bumped by the Banshee,” a short tale, and “Celia’s 2021 Halloween Viewing Picks” for TV.

Great News for Eva’s Homecoming!

Eva's Homecoming by Celia Breslin book cover
A Demon's Embrace by Celia Breslin October 2021 tour banner EVA'S HOMECOMING by Celia Breslin October 2021 tour banner

A DEMON’S EMBRACE

10/1 Books To Light Your Fire II
10/4 Midnight Musings with Bertena
10/4 Booklover-Sue
10/7 Authors’ Secrets
10/8 A Bewitching Guide to Halloween
10/11 Supernatural Central
10/12 I Smell Sheep
10/13 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
10/14 Lisa’s World of Books
10/15 The Book Junkie Reads
10/18 Westveil Publishing
10/19 Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read
10/20 Fangtastic Books
10/21 Serena Synn
10/22 Roxanne’s Realm
10/25 Paranormalists
10/26 Jazzy Book Reviews
10/27 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
10/28 Booklikes
10/29 Sapphyria’s Books

EVA’S HOMECOMING

10/1 Paranormalists
10/4 Sadie’s Spotlight
10/5 Roxanne’s Realm
10/6 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
10/7 Jazzy Book Reviews
10/8 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
10/11 Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read
10/12 The Book Junkie Reads
10/13 Supernatural Central
10/14 Lisa’s World of Books
10/15 Bewitching Guide to All Things Halloween
10/18 Andi’s Book Reviews
10/19 Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks, and Characters
10/20 The Avid Reader (Review)
10/21 Midnight Musings With Bertena
10/22 Booklover-Sue
10/25 Sapphyria’s Books (Review)
10/26 Serena Synn
10/27 Booklikes
10/28 Fangtastic Books
10/29 Bewitching Book Tours

2021 Spooktacular Giveaway

Multi-author prize pack, including a $20 USD AmazonUS e-gift card from me. 🙂

Enter the 2021 Bewitching Spooktacular Rafflecopter giveaway.

List of prizes in the Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular 2021

List of prizes in the Eva's Homecoming Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular 2021

List of prizes in the A Demon's Embrace Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular 2021

 

#NewRelease! Flip the Trope: #Romance Gone Wild

Hi Everyone!

I’m excited to announce my new Heartland Fae series! The first story in the series, “Eva’s Homecoming,” is making its debut in this fabulous anthology edited by USA Today best-selling author Virginia Nelson. Twelve authors, twelve great stories. Read on for more details on the anthology plus an excerpt from Eva’s Homecoming. Happy reading!
xo,
Celia

Flip the Trope: Romance Gone Wild BOOK COVER
Title: Flip The Trope: Romance Gone Wild
Type: Anthology
Edited by: Virginia Nelson
Genre: Adult, contemporary and paranormal romance
Heat Levels: Sweet, Spicy, Hot
ISBN: 9798201153793
Word count/pages: 243K/896pp
Cover Artist:Virginia Nelson
Release date: August 24, 2021

We heard the readers asking for something different, and we’ve delivered! Twelve brand new, romance stories all in one great anthology–and each one flips at least one beloved romance trope. From sweet contemporary romance to spicy paranormals, this anthology includes multiple USA Today bestselling authors and other names you know and love. Each story is marked with genre and heat level, so settle down to have your expectations twisted and fall in love with unusual heroes!

Stories in this collection:

  • Eva’s Homecoming – Celia Breslin
  • Whims of Witches – L. J. Longo
  • Small Town Prince Charming – Megan Slayer
  • Damaged and the Damned – USA Today Bestselling author Deena Remiel
  • The Man of My Dreams – David von Schlichten
  • A Timeless Heart – Siobhan Muir
  • Back to Grace – USA Today Bestselling author Katie Kenyhercz
  • Asta and the She Wolves – Marci Baun
  • The O’Connell Way – Jambrea Jo Jones
  • Plays and Parchment – Heather Geoffries
  • Angels and Demons, Inc. – Louise McGinnis
  • Her Wolfy Prince – USA Today Bestselling author Virginia Nelson

Amazon US | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Thalia | Angus&Robertson |
Vivlio | bol.de

Eva’s Homecoming Excerpt

(After several years away Eva O’Reilly is finally home. Sadly, with her mother’s sudden passing and no other living relatives, Eva is alone. And hurting.

Angus of the Tuatha Dé Danaan is elated his one true love has finally returned. There are just two problems: she can’t see him or remember the Fae folk even exist…)

…Angus stood in the center of the garden, throat tight and burning, a huge gulp of air trapped in his lungs.

Around him, a dozen diminutive flower fairies cavorted among the flora, chortling with glee. “She’s here, she’s here, our Eva is here!”

His gaze targeted the back door, body taut as he awaited his first glimpse of the female he loved. The only one he would ever love. Mo chroí, my heart. My heart walks the world, outside my body. “Come back to me.”

His voice was barely audible above the incessant chatter of the flower fairies. “We sang to her. She heard us! She liked it.”

“Hush,” he commanded, and they fell silent, vibrating with gleeful anticipation.

Seven years without her. The longest, loneliest bloody years of his basically eternal existence…

[…]

Eva stared out at the yard with haunted, brown eyes. Dark circles like the ones she’d sported months ago at the wake and funeral marred the perfection of her milky skin. He wanted to lay gentle kisses on her eyelids, nip the tip of her nose with its light dusting of freckles, lave her lips with his tongue then push it between those perfect lips…

“See me, Eva,” he whispered.

“See us,” Rosina echoed.

Eva cocked her head and touched her ear as if in response to their words. The incessant giggling of the flower fairies ceased, an expectant hush falling over the garden.

Though consumed with sorrow, Eva surveyed the yard with appreciation. Angus and the flower fairies had been tending to the yard and garden since she’d left. There was little to be done in the winter months but in the Fall, they’d trimmed and raked, then planted, pruned, and watered in Spring and Summer. Jasmine, lavender, and other blooming plants scented the air, and he watched his female take a deep breath.

Her shoulders seemed to lose some tension as she took in the neatly trimmed yard and carefully curated garden. “It’s perfect,” she said.

Angus’s heart swelled with pride at a job well done only to stutter in agony when her lovely brown eyes lingered on the central spot where he stood yet looked right through him.

“No. No, no, no,” he whispered. See me this time, Eva. Let the curse be gone.

Mrs. Murphy joined Eva near the door. “He tended it for you. From the moment you went off to school.”

“What?” Eva scanned the yard, then returned her attention to the spot where he stood surrounded by the flower fairies, all of them quivering with excitement.

“The garden, girl. He looked after it for you.”

Lines formed in Eva’s forehead, and her attention shifted to Mrs. Murphy. “I don’t understand, who did?”

He bowed his head and rubbed his brow. Each time she returns she still cannot See. My fault. All of this. Mine.

 

Celia’s Comic Review at I Smell Sheep: Bliss

Hi Everyone!

How is it August already? LOL… I hope you found some time to relax this summer. No travels over here due to the pandemic and wild fires, but I’ve been busy hanging with the family and, of course, editing, writing, and reading. Here’s a review of a fab, urban fantasy comic I read over the summer. You’ll find the full review of Bliss, and a few panels of the amazing art from the story, over at the awesome I Smell Sheep Blog.
Happy reading!
xo,
Celia

Inkblot COVER
There’s a drug called Bliss wiping away memories in Feral City. But a good-hearted young man with a deathly sick child makes a horrible deal. He will become the hitman for the gods providing the drug—and possibly lose everything in the process. A critically acclaimed examination of forgiveness and family that’s rarely seen in comics.

Celia’s Review

I’m an avid reader of urban fantasy, and so when this collection came up for review, I jumped at the chance to check it out. Happy to report this is one fantastic gem of a story.

The world sucks you in from the opening scene. Haunting words about being “a tiny cosmic speck” in the “grand scheme of things” drip down the page atop a haunting visual display of a man falling, falling, falling…
Continue reading at I Smell Sheep!

More I Smell Sheep Comic Reviews by Celia

Celia’s Comic Review at I Smell Sheep: INKBLOT

Hello my Dear Readers!

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer. I’m busy working on a few new Fae paranormal romances but I’m sneaking in reading time, too, including “Inkblot” from Image Comics. What a fun read! Check out the full review of Inkblot over at the awesome I Smell Sheep Blog.
Happy reading!
xo,
Celia

Inkblot COVER
A powerful sorceress must attempt to correct her greatest mistake—the creation of a magical cat that can travel through time, space, and the seven realms of reality. The cat threatens to unravel the fabric of the universe, doesn’t care, and just won’t listen!

Celia’s Review

As a total cat person, it was my utmost pleasure to read Inkblot, Volume 1. Kubert and Gladd do an excellent job of setting up their world, delivering the backstory in an engaging and visually stunning manner, and providing a fun inciting incident with the creation of the cat, after which the time-travelling adventures begin. Their blurb nicely sums up what’s what, so let’s talk about my favorite bits of the volume.

1. The Cat!
What can I say? I love this mischievous, time-travelling, reality-bending critter. A simply drawn black cat, the dark color has it leaping out at you from the panels while at the same time it continually explodes with personality… Continue reading at I Smell Sheep!

Missed My First I Smell Sheep Review?

Immerse yourself in this new dystopian series: Nocterra.

Celia Reviews #Comics at I Smell Sheep

Hello my Dear Readers!

I’ve started reviewing comics for the awesome I Smell Sheep Blog. I’ve been reading comics since I was a kid, so this is a fun new activity to add to my writer life. First up: a review of a new dystopian series by Scott Snyder: Nocterra.
Happy reading!
xo,
Celia

Nocterra issue 1 COVERNocterra issue 2 COVER

Ten years after the world is plunged into an everlasting night that turns all living creatures into monstrous shades, the only way to survive is to stay close to artificial light. Enter Valentina “Val” Riggs, a skilled ferryman who transports people and goods along deadly unlit roads with her heavily illuminated eighteen-wheeler.

Celia’s Review

Welcome to a world cloaked in darkness. One day, the sun set midday and never rose again. Then people, animals, and even plants began to mutate into…something else. Something dangerous. The survivors are also at risk of mutating if exposed to the dark too long. The solution? Artificial light. But is it enough?

There are so many good things about this new series from Scott Snyder…

Continue reading at I Smell Sheep!

 

New Release in #Romance: Summer Singles Anthology

Hello Dear Readers, Looking for some quick and steamy reads for your TBR? Here’s a look at new romance anthology from multiple authors, including my writer pal, Georgia Lyn Hunter. Details below. Happy reading!
xo, Celia

New Romance Anthology release, Summer Singles, by multiple authors

Title: Summer Singles Anthology
Author: Dorothy Ewels, Sophia Karlson, Stella Blanche, Pippa Lux, Pravina Maharaj, Georgia Lyn Hunter, Amanda Holly, Sevannah Storm, and Andie Patrick
Genre: Romance
Release Date: March 18, 2021
Cover Design: Raven Designs

The Romance Writer’s Organisation of South Africa brings you an anthology of steamy stories that will leave you hot under the collar and your Kindle melting. These stories are brought to you by our authors, both published and unpublished.

Welcome to a collection of bite-sized, Kindle-melting stories that will leave you salivating for more from these authors. Each story is a short, standalone, and ends in a HEA or HFN. This is a limited time anthology, so grab it before it’s gone for good!

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | GoodReads

 

Spotlight on #YA #SciFi: Replaced Parts by Stephanie Hansen

Hi Everyone! Author Stephanie Hansen is here today with her new release in Young Adult Science Fiction. Please enjoy the excerpt and be sure to enter her book tour giveaway. Details below. Happy reading!
xo, Celia

Title: Replaced Parts
Series: Transformed Nexus, Book One
Author: Stephanie Hansen
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Release Date: 02/23/21
ISBN: 9781953735027
ASIN: B08RZB9PXL
# of pages: 232
Word count: 67,770
Cover Artist: Caroline Andrus

When a clopil named Vex warns you of danger… Listen!

In the year 2163 a corrupt World Government controls everything on our planet and beyond.

Sixteen year-old Sierra has been so caught up in her own world of saving animal test subjects and her father’s disappearance, she hasn’t paid much attention. When she finally finds his location, she and her friend set off on a covert interplanetary mission to rescue him, she begins to see the corruption first hand.

Discovering that her father has been on the front lines secretly trying to save human test subjects inspires her to join a revolution. But she is afraid of the collateral damage of hurting the people she loves. Will she find the strength to make a deal with the mad scientist Cromwell to save not just her friends and family but everyone?

Book Trailer | Amazon | BN | Kobo

REPLACED PARTS EXCERPT

To make a smoke bomb all you need is potassium nitrate, sugar, water and a fuse. Programming holograph messaging to be ‘smoke screen projection only’ is much more difficult. It’s a digital version of invisible ink and completely security cam resistant. I pull up Yesha’s incoming call. The smoke allows her image to take shape and it almost feels like she’s in the room with me.

“I can’t believe you talked me into this, you little gomer.”

Yesha frequently begins conversations in the middle, no introduction or formal interrogation into my life. I think that’s why I like her.

“It didn’t take much to convince you.”

“Did you receive the package?”

I hold up the box addressed to me, Sierra, but I’ve removed the contents.

“Yep, right here, see.”

Yesha’s laugh is like a chorus of toads with hiccups. Her image vibrates on the smoke.
“That’s only the box, you drone bug!”

“I know.”

I hold up the syringes that had been inside the box.

“Be careful with those. Check the labels.”

I roll a syringe in my hands like Kitchen, one of our home bots, does with pretzel dough.
“One says healing serum, which I asked for. Why does the other say anti?”

“Backup. You always need an emergency abort mission option.”

“All right. Thanks!”

Yesha interrupts before I collapse the projection.

“Just be sure not to give the anti if you haven’t given the original serum.”

After she’s gone, I look at my subject.

I shouldn’t be doing this, but I find the koala’s eyes drawing me in like a poli-magno crash about to happen. It’s impossible to turn away.

The Science Olympiad team’s going to put me on probation again, which stinks since they’re the only local, human friends I have.

Following protocol gets us nowhere, however.

Mom’s going to be agitated because this isn’t the first time I’ve broken the rules.

I guide the koala out of the cage, leaving her brothers inside. I have to shake off feelings of jealousy. I don’t have any siblings.

“Why ya look so sad?”

Uplifting experiments have given us animals who speak. “Why do you look so sad, Eucarpo?”
The koala glances back at her brothers and then her eyes look up at me past her round, stub nose, and adorable ears. The sensation of an infant wrapping tiny fingers around mine envelops me. I can’t let them endure more unethical testing just so we can have the best DNA combination. I was okay with the testing when the purpose was to help those that were sick and it was beneficial to the koala species, but I can’t stomach testing these sweet things just for superficial reasons.

“Hate leaving ‘em behind.”

“They’re going after you if this works.”

“What ya mean, if?”

“Healing adaptation experiments have just begun.”

“But ya aced the test?”

“Well, yeah, but that was just practice. This is the first time I’ve used it on a living being. Don’t worry, it should all go as planned. I’m just being paranoid.”

It would be nice if I could stop blabbering when I’m nervous. Sometimes you just have to go for it and see where the cards fall. That was something my dad used to say. Before he disappeared, he used to tell me lots of things. He’s been gone almost a decade, but I might as well as have “Missing Dad” tattooed on my forehead.

“Ya paranoid? Ne’er!”

As she raises the fur above her eyes, I scratch behind her ear, and she leans into it like a bear scratching its back on a tree trunk. Her fur is soft as manufactured silk charmeuse.
“Ah yeah, right dere.”

“You sure you’re ready for this?”

“It gets us closer to freedom, so I been ready a long time.”

She takes another glance at her brothers, and I pick up the syringe with self-healing serum. I begin the sedation process as no one wants to be awake when artery lining fortifies, muscles pull with new agility, and brain tissue encases itself with a biting, thin metal sheet. Another reason I’m jealous of Eucarpo is that she responds to sedation, and I don’t.

As Eucarpo drifts into a peaceful sleep, I look out the school windows and see only the steel and glass of surrounding buildings. Their reflections mirror the sky. Today the unending blue gives the impression of being in the middle of the sea. On gray days, it’s as if I’ve been swallowed by thunderclouds. I can only imagine how green fields would look. People used to love the smell of fresh-cut grass. That was before an asteroid broke through the atmosphere damaging our ecosystem and killing all plants, causing our world to work together to save Earth and its remaining, limited vegetation. The only vegetation left is kept in guarded areas and labs.

I think I can hear the machines used to keep the atmosphere from collapsing but the sound isn’t right. Instead of a hum, I hear iron clanging. The serum glides through the syringe into Eucarpo and her breathing intensifies as the cells within her body multiply. No, that isn’t the machines. It’s locker doors slamming, followed by footsteps of someone coming down the hall. No one should be here now. They should all be at the assembly that I’m skipping. I must finish before anyone else arrives. I look at the oxygen and pulse readings, cringing with every spike. It feels like an hour passes as I look at the screens, but I know it’s only been seconds. I count breaths and clock ticks, staring at Eucarpo’s oxygen and platelet numbers rising.

“Come on, the science minds keep refreshments in here.”

I think I recognize the voice coming down the hall. Every muscle in my body wants to stiffen, but I can’t freeze now.

Luckily, the serum is fast acting and Eucarpo’s readings are settling. I inject the awakening treatment and then I throw the syringes and all remaining evidence into the incinerator. The burning and sanitizing process will turn these things into energy or something else useful. Eucarpo stirs a little when I hear the door sensor click.

As the voltball captain and visual arts queen walk in, I step in front of Eucarpo.
“Look, we found someone avoiding the assembly,” Milcah says as she nudges Danver in the ribs with her elbow.

 

About Stephanie Hansen

Stephanie Hansen headshot Stephanie Hansen is a PenCraft Award Winning Author. Her novella series, Altered Helix, released 2020. Her short story, Break Time, and poetry has been featured in Mind’s Eye literary magazine. The Kansas Writers Association published her short story, Existing Forces, appointing her as a noted author. She has held a deep passion for writing since early childhood, but a brush with death caused her to allow it to grow. She’s part of an SCBWI critique group in Lawrence, KS and two local book clubs. She attends many writers’ conferences including the Writing Day Workshops, New York Pitch, Penned Con, New Letters, All Write Now, Show Me Writers Master Class, BEA, and Nebraska Writers Guild conference as well as Book Fairs and Comic-Cons.

She is a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads

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– $20 Amazon gift card & a signed copy (US shipping only)

Enter Stephanie Hansen’s Rafflecopter giveaway –> .

 

Bewitching Book Tour, 2/15-3/1: A Demon’s Embrace by @CeliaBreslin

Hello My Dear Readers!
Happy New Year and Happy Valentine’s month! I’m on tour for the next two weeks with my second story for the Cupid Dating Agency series. Here’s the schedule, in case you’d like to visit. And be sure to enter my giveaway for a chance at an Amazon(US) e-gift card!
xo,
Celia

A DEMON'S EMBRACE BOOK Tour February 15 through March 1, 2021

A DEMON’S EMBRACE TOUR SCHEDULE

2/15 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom (Guest Blog: Breakfast Recipe)

2/15 Fangtastic Books

2/16 Jazzy Book Reviews

2/17 Sapphyria’s Books Book Review

2/18 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder

2/19 Bewitching Book Tours

2/22 Westveil Publishing

2/23 Serena Synn(Interview)

2/24 Sadie’s Spotlight

2/24 Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read

2/25 The Book Junkie Reads

2/26 Supernatural Central

2/26 Roxanne’s Realm

2/26 Midnight Musings

3/1 Lisa’s World of Books

3/1 Paranormalists (Guest blog: Celia’s Top 10 Angels/Demons)

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A Demon’s Embrace Bewitching Book Tour Giveaway

$20 USD Amazon(US) e-gift card

Enter the A Demon’s Embrace Book Tour Rafflecopter Giveaway.

 

Happy Holiday Excerpt: A Demon’s Embrace by @CeliaBreslin

Hi Everyone!

I’m headed offline for the rest of the year to spend some quality holiday time with my family. Before I go, I have a bit of Christmas-related cheer for you. Here’s a look at my snarky demon hero Stryker’s year-round holiday store, aptly named Christmas & More, as he shows it to his love-interest Zara for the first time. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂
Happy holidays and see you back here in the New Year!
xo,
Celia

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A Demon’s Embrace Excerpt

(Stryker’s POV)…

… she came to an abrupt halt. A gasp escaped her. He strolled around to catch her expression. It was her first time here in his holiday store, and yep, as expected, she gaped, gaze flitting up, down, right, left, repeat, repeat. Throw in a few rapid blinks, a couple slow eyelid squeezes, and a little head shake…

He chuckled. “My place has this effect on people. And apparently on angels, too.”

“Wow,” she breathed, gliding forward. “I mean…wow.”

She spun in a circle, then trailed her fingers over the golden garland and silver lights twined around his two-story artificial Christmas tree, the lighted angel topper of which hovered near the balcony of the wrap-around second floor and gleamed with luminous light, casting the space in a warm glow.

Christmas tchotchkes—nativity scenes in wood, porcelain, and marble, gaily painted nutcrackers both large and small, cheery metal holiday tins filled with treats, figurines of Santa and his merry little elves in various sizes, and more—adorned table after table on the first floor, and Zara moved in an otherworldly blur now, touching, lifting, and inspecting item after item. Her soft delighted laughs and squeaks pleased him, and he rubbed at a sudden tight spot in his chest. He loved the happiness beaming from her right now, so sincere and unrestrained.

“Snow globes, I love snow globes!” She stopped her whirlwind of activity by the checkout counter, brandishing a globe in each hand, fake snow swirling around little snowmen encased in the clear glass.

“Best sellers. They’re yours, free of charge.” Hell, he’d give her his entire Christmas collection simply to see this exhilarated expression on her face, cheeks pink, blue eyes aglow, lips curved in a genuine, real smile. And she aimed all this positivity at him.…

“Oh, I couldn’t.” She shook them both, seeming fascinated by the whirling glitter inside.

“You can and you will.” He opened up the store app on his phone and booted up a surprise for her. “Behind you.”

A cheery whistle sounded from the front window display. Zara’s eyes widened, and she twisted toward the source of the sound. Another delighted gasp. Jesus, joy oozed out of her every pore. Bloody brilliant.

She set the globes on the counter and hurried to the window display to watch the train and its attached red, green, and black cars chug lazily through the picture-perfect model town he’d set up. Mini pine trees, snowmen, and picturesque cottages dotted the entire snowbound landscape. Lights glowed in the windows of the quaint stores on Main Street. At one end of the street, tiny children figurines in winter gear skated on a mirrored faux pond in the town’s park. At the other, the train station and town hall teemed with holiday shoppers.

“Santa!” Zara clapped her hands when Santa in his sleigh pulled by tiny reindeer glided in a gentle circle over the town thanks to invisible wiring attached to a near-silent motor fixed and hidden in the ceiling of the display window.

Stryker’s face ached from all the smiling his happy angel had him doing, her glee as intense and endearing as that of the human kids who visited his store. “So, you like Christmas.”

“Who doesn’t?” She glanced at him for a millisecond before returning her attention to the scene.

 

Available at: Amazon | BooksToRead

Want more Stryker and Zara? Read another excerpt here –>.

 

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