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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
If you’re looking for a young adult thriller, check out Michelle A. Hansen’s Before They Find Us.
I’m going to make you wish you were dead.
Just a text. Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Hales tries not to worry. Probably a wrong number. Not really meant for her, and definitely not related to the crime she witnessed six years ago. Right?
Then two states away, a bomb goes off in her best friend’s locker. Soon Ryan is labeled a terrorist and runs to the safest place he knows—Rebecca’s house in small-town Wyoming. It doesn’t take long for the FBI to show up asking questions. Rebecca lies, of course, and says she hasn’t seen him.
Now she’s neck-deep in it with him, whatever “it” is. The only way out is to return to Vegas, where Ryan is a wanted man. The city of lies and illusion tests Rebecca’s wits as she struggles to find the person who framed Ryan and why.
Is Rebecca’s text linked to the bombing? And what does it have to do with a six year old murder? Rebecca needs to find out before she loses Ryan—and her own life.
For a lot of girls, comfort food was chocolate. For me it was thirty-two ounces of lemonade mixed with Sprite on tap at Skip’s Mini Mart. I tugged on Bullet’s leash and led him out of the park. Three blocks later, I tied Bullet to the post of what used to be a phone booth. Now it was a hideous blue and white box with nothing but graffiti inside. Bullet lay down on the sidewalk and set his head on his paws while I went inside.
Full cup in hand, I approached the counter. The cashier was used to seeing me late at night. He was used to Bullet waiting outside looking bored to death. I set exact change on the counter before he rang up my drink.
Bright lights swept into the parking lot and came to rest outside the front door. The lights were tall, definitely a truck. The driver hopped out, but didn’t come inside. Instead, he went over to Bullet. I didn’t think anything of it until I stepped outside. It looked just like the truck that slowed in front of my house this afternoon.
The guy who knelt on the sidewalk in front of Bullet had shoulder-length, blond hair and a goatee. He didn’t look very old—early-twenties maybe—but it was a hard-lived twenty. This guy, he had all the rough edges. He balanced a cigarette between his lips while he scratched Bullet’s ears.
Happy for the attention, Bullet licked the guy’s wrist. I tried not to cringe. Stupid dog. That guy could be a hundred kinds of trouble, but Bullet didn’t care as long as his ears got scratched.
“Blue tick?” He ran his hand down Bullet’s back, and the dog nudged closer.
“Yeah.” If I hadn’t just dreamed of Kyle, if I hadn’t just stood on the ground where Darla died, if I’d met this guy in daylight, I would have reached down, untied the dog and walked away. As it was, I sipped my Sprite and kept two yards between us.
“Bet he’s a good hunter.” The guy looked up. His smile was too friendly, his manner too casual for a stranger. A shot of fear pulsed in my blood.
I really wished Bullet was more of a guard dog. “He treed a hundred and fifty pound mountain lion a couple years ago.” Okay, it was an exaggeration. It was more like a ninety pound lion, and it was young, but Bullet wasn’t helping me at all by rubbing his head on this guy’s leg.
“What a good boy.” He rubbed Bullet’s fur. Seeing that I wasn’t getting any closer, the guy untied the leash and stood. Other than his truck, the parking lot was completely empty, and so was the street. “Kind of late for a girl to be walking around alone, don’t you think?”
I wouldn’t let myself back away as he approached. I stood my ground and shrugged like it was the middle of the afternoon. “I have Bullet.”
“And—he’s vicious.” His sarcasm fell short of amusing. Bullet drooled on the guy’s cowboy boot. He offered me the leash. “You want a ride?”
Yeah, right. I might be mental, but I’m not totally gullible. “No, we’re good.”
“Want me to walk you?” His eyes scanned the streets, the wide trees offering long stretches of shadows. The breeze lifted the hair from his shoulder and sent cold gusts through the fabric of my sweatshirt.
“It’s not far—” I tried not to stammer. I’d sneaked out without a phone. How stupid was that? Going into the park. Coming here at night. Dr. Kipla would have a heyday with this one, not that I would ever tell.
“Stick to the streetlights.” He took a long drag on the cigarette then dropped it on the sidewalk and smothered the ashes under his boot. “You never know what’s lurking in the dark.”
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When eighteen-year-old Miranda chases a purse snatcher on the Las Vegas Strip, the last thing she expects is for the pursuit to turn into an extended game of hide-and-seek. All Miranda wants are the old black and white photographs buried at the bottom of her purse. They’re the only things she has left of the grandmother she never knew. But how much is she willing to put on the line to save them? And is it possible she’s falling in love with a thief?
Miranda spent the rest of the day with her stomach in knots. Everywhere she walked, she kept darting her eyes all around. There was no way Ollie could find her with no clues. He didn’t even know she would be on the Strip today. A part of her wanted to know how good he really was at this hide-and-seek game. Would he find her inside M&M’s World? The arcade? One of the dozens of shops their mother was dragging them into? Needless to say, Miranda was not in the mood to shop. After lunch, they wandered into a shopping area at The Venetian, and she fought the urge to whine. She was eighteen. She could humor her mother for a few more hours.
“They have gondola rides here,” Gabriela said excitedly.
They took the escalators to the second floor. There were shops everywhere, all made to look like they were in Venice, and a ceiling painted and lit to look like a soft summer sky dotted with clouds. The smell of food and cigarettes drifted through the air. As she had done all day, Miranda looked around for Ollie, but she knew there was no way she was going to find him—especially if she was with her family.
“I think I’ll sit this one out,” she said as they neared the ticket booth in the main part of the center.
Gabriela looked over at the canal where they started the boat rides. A few gondolas floated by, filled with people who looked a little bored. “You sure?” she asked Miranda. “This looks kind of fun.”
Miranda could tell Julia was having second thoughts about the ride, and gave her an evil glare she hoped would be interpreted as “Just let me be alone for a few freaking minutes.” Julia seemed to take the hint, and they went over to the ticket booth as Miranda started walking around to find a good spot for pictures. She crossed a bridge over the canal and walked around until she was on a little overpass overlooking the loading area for the rides.
Finally. Alone. She snapped a few pictures of them waiting in line then pulled out her phone. There was a new message she had missed. Her heart started to beat faster. It was Ollie.
Any hints for me today? It’s only fair since I gave you one yesterday. I don’t even know if you’re inside a building. Or on the Strip. Or what!
She smiled. She shouldn’t be enjoying this. She shouldn’t, shouldn’t, shouldn’t. But she was. Thinking carefully, she typed one word.
Was that too vague? She suspected if he knew Las Vegas as well as she guessed he did, he would know where she was right away. She was obviously a tourist, and he’d jump to the first touristy thing in Las Vegas that had to do with a canal.
Luckily, the line was pretty long, and the rides lasted about fifteen minutes apiece. That gave her maybe half an hour depending on how long that line lasted. She typed another message.
You’d better hurry because I won’t be alone much longer.
He didn’t answer, and as the minutes ticked by, she grew more and more impatient. Las Vegas was big. Maybe he was so far away it would take him hours to reach her. Finally, after about twenty minutes, her mom and sister boarded a boat with a few other people. She snapped as many pictures as she could, and they were soon gone down the canal and out of sight.
Well, it was now or never. Turning in circles, she desperately hoped he was somewhere. She’d settle for five minutes with him. One minute. Anything.
There were people everywhere. Constant chatter and occasional laughter reverberated all around her. She took her hands off the railing in front of her, remembering that thousands of people had touched it before her. Sometimes she hated public places more than anything else. She couldn’t think too much about it.
She spun around and there he was, standing right in front of her. He was in a suit again, like yesterday, but today his sneakers were black instead of white. Still, they were sneakers. Surprisingly, though, they looked great with the outfit. Relaxed and comfortable. When she looked into his eyes, she swallowed a lump in her throat and took a few steps back. He had light-colored eyes, but it was difficult to tell what color they really were under the artificial lighting. A little blue and a little gray, maybe some green. There was a faint hint of scruff on his jaw, barely noticeable. He really was as good-looking as she remembered. His nose was big, but the longer she looked at him the more it suited him. She tamped down her rising emotions, remembering all the pain other good-looking guys had brought her.
“You found me,” was all she could manage to force out of her mouth.
His lips curled into a smile. He kept his eyes on hers. “That was the easiest hint ever. Probably as easy as my Olives hint.”
Just like we’re finding excuses to meet, she thought to herself. Her mouth was getting drier by the second.
“So?” she said, gaining a little courage. “Where’s my prize?”
“Your prize?” he laughed. “Didn’t I find you?”
She looked at his tie. It was a pretty yellow color checkered with thin brown lines. It reminded her of sunflowers. “I thought the whole point of this was to get my stuff back,” she said boldly, and held out an open hand, waiting.
His smile stayed put as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out her small wallet. He placed it gently into her hand, and she tried not to think too much about how warm his skin was as it slid against hers. She noticed some thick, raised scars along his knuckles.
“Thought that was pretty valuable,” he said. “You might want it back.”
She opened it up. The money was still there. Her debit card, her and Julia’s monorail passes, her driver’s license. He hadn’t taken a thing. She looked up. “I don’t understand. I really just don’t get any of this.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked, stepping closer. His feet were close to hers now, and she fought the urge to step back once more. “I like to play games, and you’re fun to play them with.”
“Is that why you stole my purse? To play a game?”
His smile fell and he shook his head. “No, that’s not why I took your purse. That had nothing to do with who you are, but this … whatever it is we’re doing … it has everything to do with you.”
She didn’t know what to make of that, but his words and the sincerity and sadness in his voice made her breath catch in her throat. She looked down at the canal, expecting her family to show up at any second. She looked back at Ollie. He had his hands in his pockets now.
“You’re keeping my purse so we can keep this up, aren’t you?” she asked. “You’re going to hold on to those pictures for a long time.”
He didn’t answer. He seemed excruciatingly young at that moment.
“If you return everything to me,” she said carefully, “I promise I’ll keep talking to you.”
He let out a soft laugh. “So, you’re laying down the terms now, even though I’m the one who has what you want?”
She supposed that was true. “You don’t want anything from me, then? I guess I’ll just get over my losses and move on. Keep it all, and if you want my wallet back, here you go.” She held it out to him, surprised at her response. It seemed the only way to try to read him at the moment.
He looked down at the wallet and frowned. “I don’t want that. It’s yours.”
“So is the rest of my stuff you stole.” It was frustrating how much she was starting to like him and hate him at the same time.
“The game is still on,” he said as he watched her lower the wallet. “It’s your turn next.”
Before she could answer, he turned and walked away. “I’m only here for three more days!” she yelled out as he disappeared into the crowd.
Turning, she saw that her mother’s gondola was unloading at the dock. Perfect timing.