Saturday, October 15, 2016

Re-Release Book Blast!! Candy Houses by J.C. Daniels

Candy Houses 
(Grimm's Circle #1)
by J.C. Daniels


Think you know fairy tales? Guess again.

It’s been hundreds of years since Greta’s so-called story came to an end and it didn’t end with a happily ever after then. Why should she expect it to be any different now?

She’s a Grimm—a special kind of guardian angel and official ass-kicker in the paranormal world. Between trying to stay alive, training new Grimm and dealing with demons, romance is hard to come by. Then there’s the fact that there’s only been one man ever who really made her heart race.

And he’s been out of her life for a long, long time…

But now he’s back and just in time.

Greta needs Rip’s help.

There’s an unexpected threat to their world, a betrayal none of them saw coming.

Working together is the last thing they want, but it just might be their only chance.

A fairy tale best suited for grown-ups…don’t say you weren’t warned.

Available to purchase at 


About The Author

J.C. Daniels is the alter ego of author Shiloh Walker and was created basically because Shiloh writes like a hyperactive bunny and an intervention was necessary.  J.C. is the intervention.  The name… J.C. Daniels is a play off of the three people who pretty much run Shiloh’s life.

Professional Bio
J.C./Shiloh Walker has been writing since she was a kid. She fell in love with vampires with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more…ah…serious works of fiction. She loves reading and writing just about every kind of romance. Once upon a time she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest.  She writes urban fantasy, romantic suspense and paranormal romance, among other things.

You can learn more and connect with JC at

Fame & Obsession Pre Order Blitz

Title: Fame & Obsession Author: Cora Kenborn
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Design
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Editor: Gillian Leonard of Lilypad Editing
Expected Release Date: Oct. 25th, 2016
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Struggling writer Phoebe Ryan abandons her southern roots and heads to New York, determined to leave her nightmarish past behind…
She was not expecting to meet a famous rock star, or to be coerced into ghostwriting his autobiography. But she tries to maintain focus on her dream of becoming an author, despite the attraction she feels for the sexy rocker, not to mention the baggage that comes with him.
Julian Bale’s world was shattered one drunken night, and it almost ruined him…
Weighed down by guilt, he blames himself for an accident he could’ve prevented. He will play the game, but swears his hot little ghostwriter will never get that story out of him. As much as he wants her, if he has to choose between his dream and hers, it’s no contest.
Phoebe and Julian give in to a forbidden attraction, and their public romance risks both their lives…
An obsessive fan is on the loose and now that the secret’s out, it’s made them both targets. The psychotic stalker is determined to have Julian for herself, even if she has to reveal their sordid pasts and eliminate Phoebe to do it.
He lives for fame. She lives to hide. Obsession lives to ruin them both.

Release Party:

Cora Kenborn writes romantic suspense novels with strong heroines, complex alphas, harrowing danger, and snappy banter. She is the author of the rock star stalker series, Lords of Lyre but refuses to be pigeon holed into one specific genre. She loves delving into the twisted mind of a dark villain as well as giggling while writing rom-com banter.
Cora lives in Eastern North Carolina and is a true Southern girl, growing up on sweet tea, front porches, and the simple life. She says “y’all,” “fixin’ to,” and should you deserve it, will “bless your heart.” She’s the proud mother three hyperactive and occasionally adorable children, and the wife of a husband who tolerates her chaotic writer’s cave.
Although reading is her passion, she can usually be found watching true crime shows and crafting inspiration for twisted new tales. Cora admits to being a horrible cook, an even worse baker, and believes she’s more dangerous with a hot glue gun than any weapon on earth. Oh, and she and autocorrect are mortal enemies.

Author Links:
Cora’s VIP Newsletter
Pre Order Link: Amazon:
The coiled body behind me tensed, ready to detonate. Whoever defended me could hold his own, but I could still take everybody out with one flick of the wrist. Chivalry felt warm and fuzzy but I learned a long time ago that one hundred and fifty volts felt electric and twitchy.
Turning my chin to the side, I whispered on an exhale, “It’s fine, I’ve got this.”
A low laugh against my neck curled my toes.
“You so don’t got this.” His chest rumbled as a strong hand ran skilled fingers around my hair. I tilted my chin, watching his eyes harden. “You’re up my ass, shit-for-brains. Don’t ever touch what’s mine.” He shifted his lips against my ear. “Right, baby?”
One suitor tested my patience, but two pushed my limit. I opened my mouth to tell him off when he stole the moment and pressed his lips against mine. Resisting, I murmured veiled threats as he pulled me toward him. The impromptu kiss dissolved into failed waves of aggression, and I inexplicably responded to him. Before I knew it, I’d wrapped my arms around his neck.
After a few heartbeats of kissing a complete stranger, I finally regained what dignity I had left, shoved his chest, and faced him with fire blazing in my eyes. He snickered and waved as my aggressor stalked off. Shooting him a death glare, I reached for my drink. After scanning for witnesses, I brought it to my lips and drained it.
“Thirsty?” He smirked.
“What the hell was that?”
He snatched the drink out of my hands, giving me a wink before tipping it back for the last drop. “You weren’t exactly pushing me away. Besides, I just saved your ass. Heath Vaughn was inches from having a hand up that thing you call a dress.”
“I didn’t ask for your help!” I bit back. “I don’t even know who the hell you—wait, who?”
“Somebody had to step in or you’d have spent the night in jail with that concealed, illegal shit in your purse. You’re telling me you didn’t know that was Vaughn? Maybe because we haven’t time-warped back to his 1995 five minutes of fame.” He walked past me with a smirk plastered across his face.
 Struggling to catch up with him, I grabbed his shoulder in disbelief. “That’s a joke, right?”
“Afraid not. Vaughn in the flesh, and apparently in the sauce too. Why do you care so much what he thinks?” He eyed me curiously, his jade-green eyes knocking me breathless.
Finally allowing myself a full look at him, I quickly averted my eyes before he could see my racing pulse reflected in them. Chaotic chocolate spiked hair pointed in every direction and hinted at a carefully constructed morning-after look. A small silver earring caught flashes of light in the darkness and tattoos decorated each uncovered arm.
Remembering to breathe became a chore.
“Because I’m screwed!” I shouted, frantically waving my phone. “My boss is already pissed at me, and I was supposed to meet Vaughn here for an interview, and—why am I telling you this?”
“Calm down.” He grinned, revealing a deep dimple in his left cheek. “Look, the dude’s so far tanked he won’t remember he was here, much less you were. Give me your phone.”
“I’m not giving you my phone. I don’t even know you.”
Rolling his eyes, he snatched my phone out of my hands. “Didn’t stop you from making out with me, did it?” He scanned the email I’d been checking all night. Typing furiously, his lips curved upward and he handed it back. “All fixed.”
“What did you do?” Thankfully, previous defense training taught me to never label emails with personal information. In the darkness, he’d never scroll back far enough to know my name.
“Why must you question brilliance?” he countered with a sigh. “You sent him an email concerned for his safety since he never showed for your interview. You waited but had to leave because you actually work for a living. You’d love to reschedule since you’re such a huge fan and were disappointed at the missed opportunity to hear all about his crap-ass reality show, since I assume that’s all he would’ve wanted to talk about.”
I could’ve kissed him—if I hadn’t already.
“You’re an evil genius.”
“So I’ve been told.”

Friday, October 14, 2016

Inferno Blurb Reveal

Title: Inferno
Author: Stacey Rourke
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Expected Release Date: Dec. 5th, 2016
Cover Designer: KC Designs
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: With the death of a hero, a dark force has risen. A hellhound is loose on the Rhodes Campus, building its pack with a bloody body count.
Any hope for salvation rests in the fiery hands of dashing Irishman, Caleb, with his power over the elements.
Fighting to save a dear friend from the internal monster consuming him, Caleb finds the love of his life a target for the vicious attacks.
How far will he go to save Celeste from the destiny ravenous to claim her?
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel 
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 
Visit her at
or on Twitter or instagram at Rourkewrites.
Buy Links:
#Free with #KindleUnlimited
Conduit (FREE):
Descent (Novella):

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Masterminds Release Day Blitz

Title: The Masterminds
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Genre: NA Mystery
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
From prisons and reality TV to mansions and safe houses, THE MASTERMINDS revisits THE MASTERPIECERS and closes the twins’ story. It is a tale of imperfect love and imperfect people.
The only downside to Joshua Cooper’s investigation of a mob runner is not being able to discuss it with his two best friends, nineteen-year-old twins, Aster and Ivy Redd. However, when Ivy sells one of her quilts to the mob runner, and Aster hits him with her car in a motel parking lot, they become entangled in his investigation. The FBI even believes the twins could knowingly be involved with the mob. Joshua will do everything he can to disprove their suspicion and nail the true criminal.
Brook Jackson is a judge on the Masterpiecers’s art competition. That is his official job; his unofficial job is running questionable errands against easy cash. But a ripped quilt and the girl who sewed it will make Brook’s life and heart spiral out of control.
Accused of money laundering, Brook becomes the fall guy. After three weeks of imprisonment, he cuts a deal with Joshua: his freedom for the real felons and a meeting with Ivy. Although eager to clear his name, Brook wants to win Ivy’s forgiveness—and if she’s willing to give it to him—her love..
Olivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City, the daughter of a French father with a great sense of humor, and a Swedish mother whom she speaks to at least three times a day. She chose Brown University to complete her undergraduate studies and earned a bachelor’s in comparative literature. After designing jewelry for a few years, Wildenstein traded in her tools for a laptop computer and a very comfortable chair. This line of work made more sense, considering her college degree.
When she’s not writing, she’s psychoanalyzing everyone she meets (Yes. Everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next book, baking up a storm (that she actually eats), going to the gym (because she eats), and attempting not to be late at her children’s school (like she is 4 out of 5 mornings, on good weeks).
Wildenstein lives with her husband and three children in Geneva, Switzerland, where she’s an active member of the writing community.
Author Links:
Buy Link:
A girl who stitches quilts.
This is the first thing I learn about Ivy Redd. After skimming through her Masterpiecers application, I toss it aside because quilt making is not really art. I admire people who stitch stuff. My grandmother was one of them. Up until the day she died, she was part of a quilting club who met each week. They’d cut and sew squares of gaudy-patterned cotton with such fervor that it had seemed as though their lives would fall apart if they didn’t truss them up with their needles.
Dominic, the president and founder of the Masterpiecers School, picks up the application and thumbs through it.
“Don’t bother. It’s quilts,” I say, grabbing the next file.
He studies the picture stapled to the last page. “You are too rash in judging this girl. She has something. What do you think, Josephine?”
He hands it over to the vice-president of the school.
“Pas mal. But we only have one more slot. And I found the perfect candidat.”
“Really?” Dominic asks, leaning back against the silk upholstery of his wooden chair. It was carved by one of the school’s graduates, Christos Natter. One side is curved and smooth, while the other looks windblown, stretching irregularly toward Dominic’s bulky chestnut bookcase. “Who struck your fancy?”
Josephine flings a file onto the eighteenth-century French desk next to the industrial steel lamp. Dominic picks up the file, takes one look at it, and dumps it back on the table.
“Pourquoi pas?” Josephine asks.
Dominic flaps his hand in the air. “He’s a former soldier, not an artist.”
She folds one leg over the other and rests her hands on her bony white knee. “That is not a reason, Dom. He’s skilled. Look at that rope he wove while he was on tour.”
“Come on, Jo. It’s a rope,” Dom says.
“And this”—she nods toward Ivy Redd’s file—“is a quilt. Why does quilt trump rope?”
“Because!” I can tell from the way he looks away from Josephine that there’s more to his staunch refusal than the medium of the pieces.
“You both have a special person,” she says, “whom you did not pick on merit. I am certain Chase is a talented boy, Brook, and I am certain that Maria—actually, I’m not certain Maria has anything to offer besides her body, Dom—but I accepted. Now consent to my choice.”
Dominic reddens at the mention of his ex-girlfriend, a former beauty queen and ham-fisted artist whose claim-to-fame are crude renditions of overly made-up pageant contestants. What I heard was that he impregnated her and the only way to get rid of the baby was accepting her onto the show.
Josephine rises, and her tailored pearl-gray dress slips right into place over her skeletal body. “I will alert Mr. Kevin Martin that he has been selected. Oh, wait. That’s why we have Brook now, n’est-ce pas? To do all the menial jobs.”
I glare at her, although she’s right. That is why I’m here, to do the jobs no one else cares to do. “I’ll notify the contestants this afternoon.”
She gives me a crooked smile before stepping out of Dominic’s office.
“She hates me,” I tell Dom some time after she shuts the door.
“She hates everyone.”
“Except her fiancĂ©.”
“I doubt she even likes him.”
As I straighten out the files of the applicants who didn’t make the cut, Dominic tut-tuts.
“The girl who sews quilts; keep her application aside. We’ll be needing it.”
I slip it out of the pile and put it on top. “Why?”
“Because.” He shifts his eyes toward his cell phone. Dominic is certain we are being listened to. “She’s a sound runner-up.” As he talks, he grabs a piece of paper embossed with his name and scribbles something.
I scratch the stubble on my cheek as I read it. When my jaw unhinges, Dominic picks up his message and shreds it into dozens of tiny pieces that he drops into his leather bin. They flutter down like confetti, settling in the dusky emptiness. I doubt anyone will collect them and glue them back together, but just in case, I crouch down, swipe some into my palm, and stick them inside my blazer pocket.
I have as much to lose as Dominic. No, that’s a lie. I have more to lose because it’s my name that’s being used, not his. Mine.
“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” he says, all cheery again. “I love spring. Don’t you?”
I’m tongue-tied.
“I’m heading out for lunch. I’ll see you tonight,” he says.
“Didn’t your father tell you? We’re having dinner all together at his house. To celebrate the sale. It went well, didn’t it?”
I make a jerky head movement that’s supposed to be a nod.
“Did it pay off the bills?” he asks.
“Not all of them.”
He pats my shoulder. “I’m sure they’ll get paid soon. I have an idea.” His fingers clamp down around my shoulder like a metal claw.
I’m starting not to like his ideas.
“I’ll tell you later.” He squeezes once, then lets go and walks out, whistling a tune that sounds like something from a Broadway show.
Clutching the pile of applications against me, I stop by my office, which is more of a glass cubicle than an office. I don’t even have screens or blinds. As I heave the folders onto my desk, I notice one of the secretaries fanning a leaflet in front of a young boy’s face. It throws me back in time. Four years to be exact. I was standing at his exact spot, overwhelmingly excited at the prospect of starting at the Masterpiecers. Four years ago, when everything was still so peachy. When my family was still rich. When my little brother didn’t despise me for having usurped “his life.”
The school has strict laws forbidding siblings from attending. Supposedly, it’s to discourage family feuds. Didn’t discourage Chase from hating my guts.
Movement behind the secretary catches my attention. Josephine stands next to her triangular-shaped desk, where a lone potted orchid holds court over an ultra-skinny computer screen and a pencil cup made of cerulean blue clay. It looks as though it was crafted by a kindergartener, when in fact it was fashioned by an alumni from this school.
Josephine sees me staring. There’s something unsettling about the way she gazes back, eyes sort of slanted. My shirt collar suddenly feels too tight so I pop the top button open. She smiles that glacial smile of hers, then gapes down at my jacket pocket. I stick my hand inside protectively, before reassuring myself that Josephine Raynoir does not have X-ray vision. I rub the pieces between the pads of my fingers, feeling the raised edges in the vellum where Dominic inked his command: Find out who Kevin Martin really is.
Josephine flicks a switch and her glass walls blur, and I am left with the shadow of her body moving about like the giant stick insect I won at a fair when I was twelve. I kept it in a murky aquarium, which I couldn’t be bothered to clean. Our housekeeper, Carmelina, was too frightened of the bug to touch the thing, so it became filthier and filthier until my mother got so sick of it, she seized the aquarium and dumped it on the curb for some other little boy, or some garbage collector, to find.
I eye my trashcan, but decide against putting anything inside. It’s lunchtime, and even though I’m not hungry, I walk out of Delancey Hall, a two-story building with glossy green ivy scuttling over the brick walls. It was named after Dominic’s favorite adviser, Robert Delancey. A few years back, when I was starting on college applications, The New York Times dedicated its entire art section to the man. It was titled The Monocled Star-Maker. My father read it out loud to us over breakfast.
“Art is Chase’s dream, Dad. Not mine,” I remember telling him, mostly to get him off my case.
Chase looked up from his big bowl of cornflakes, milk dribbling down his chin. He was fourteen then. It was the year his upper lip finally grew some fuzz.
“I wasn’t given a choice,” Dad said.
“Well I’d like a choice,” my seventeen-year-old self demanded.
“And you’ll get one,” Mom chimed in, clicking into the dining room for her usual breakfast of sliced papaya, raw oatmeal, and strong coffee. She dropped a kiss on my forehead, and then tried to peck Chase’s, but he ducked away from her. “Right, Henry? We always said we would let the kids choose.”
In the end, after two years spent at Duke University, I asked to transfer into the art school to my father’s delight. It was the same year Chase sent in his college applications. His top choice was the Masterpiecers, but I beat him to it, something he never forgave me for. Just like he never forgave me for consoling his ex after their awful breakup.
As I walk toward Riverside Drive, I spot a trashcan. I grab the slivers of paper from my pocket and drop them inside. I open a search window on my phone’s browser and type in Kevin Martin’s name. There are several pages of results. I add the words ‘retired sergeant.’
There is only one result.
Dominic was right…Josephine is investigating him.

Distant Dreams Release Day Blitz

Title: Distant Dreams
Author: Alicia Rades
Genre: YA Paranormal
Blurb: Kai Watson is only 16, but she’s never had a real dream in her life. Each night, she leaves her body, travels to a new location, and adds the sites she sees to her “dream book.” When she witnesses the brutal murder of upperclassman Darla Baxter while astral traveling, Kai is determined to stay out of it. She never saw the murderer’s face, and who would believe her anyway?
Now Kai has lost her ability to astral travel, and she’s forced to relive the murder each night in a nightmare. With no word on Darla’s body, Kai decides to take the mystery into her own hands to find closure and get back to her travels. As she searches for answers, she continues to bump into Darla’s brother, Collin. Can she catch the killer and still open her heart to Collin, or will she lose her gift forever?
Facebook Release Party:
Alicia Rades is an award-winning young adult paranormal author with a love for supernatural stories set in the modern world. When she's not plotting out fiction novels, she's running her own professional writing business, plowing her way through her never-ending reading list, or preparing for the backpacking trips she takes every summer. In college, Alicia majored in communications with an emphasis on professional writing. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two cats.
Don't miss a thing related to Alicia's books. Sign up for her newsletter at
Author Links:  Website:
Buy Links:

Monday, October 10, 2016

UnHoly Death Release Day Blitz & Giveaway

Title: UnHoly Death
Author: Christine Fonseca
Genre: YA Gothic Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: Aydan wants to believe Nesy has returned to him in Vanessa. But her lack of memories and incessant nightmares begin to erode his faith. Zane is used to trusting his mind, his wisdom and his angelic senses. But these attributes are no help with Vanessa. He has no way to be certain of her true identity. That is, unless he listens to the one thing he has refused to acknowledge throughout his existence - his feelings for Nesy.
Blind to both angel and demon, Aydan and Zane must now figure out the truth behind Nesy's identity before all is lost, Azza discovers the truth and the Beast is again unleashed.
Tagline: The line between good and evil has never been so blurred.
Award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of fiction and non-fiction. Lover of books, lattes, and family. Passionate about humanity. Recent titles include Transcend, The Solomon Experiment series, and Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students, second edition.
When Christine isn’t writing a book, she can be found sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes next to a beach with a book in her hand.
For more information, visit her website –
Author Links:
Buy Links:
Sentinal’s Tear Amazon:
UnHoly Death
Chapter 1
The Cold water bites into my hand as silver liquid streams down the drain. My thoughts scroll through every moment of the battle: Nesy’s eyes bulging as Azza’s sword cuts through her armor, piercing her heart; Aydan and Mikayel’s screams splitting through the night sky; Nesy’s mind closing in on itself. It’s all too much. My knees buckle. I cling to the basin and wait for the wave of emotion to pass. Nothing I do erases the images permanently burned into my memories. No amount of meditation calms my soul. No amount of water removes the blood, her blood, from my hands, my arms, my clothes.
Nesy is gone.
Forever gone.
I try to shake away the thoughts that refuse to retreat, desperate for a respite I know will never come.
The voice pushes aside my grief.
“Zane. Mikayel’s asking for you.”
I focus on the voice, forcing myself to respond, move, anything. But I can’t. I’m locked in a grief I don’t fully understand; one I never thought I would feel. Not like this.
Never like this.
“Zane! Come. Mikayel’s waiting.”
Cass touches my shoulder and enters my heart. Her presence fills me with a peace only the Anointed can command. I breathe her in and silently beg her to clear away my pain. One moment bleeds into the next. The feelings ebb. I take another breath. Her presence spreads through me. Until finally there is peace. At last.
But for how long?
“I’m coming,” The words are thick against my mouth. “I’m coming.”
I dry my hands and follow Cass away from my quarters. The hallowed halls stream past me in a blur. Everything is surreal and detached, as though I am no longer part of this world at all. I grow thin with each step and I wonder…
Will I fade away completely?
Cass pulls me through the labyrinth towards the Council chamber. Is Mikayel back? Has he avenged Nesy’s death?
Anointed and Mediators run through the halls. Their faces speak a truth I cannot bear—the war has cost more than we’d expected. More than I expected. Sentinals and Guardians pour from portals, their bodies marred with the signs of battle. Blood, demonic and angelic, stain their armor, their tunics, their wings. 1…30…75. I count the angels running past me. Less than half have returned. Are the rest still battling? I know the answer before the question fully forms. The battle is over.
Nesy is gone.
Azza is gone.
And Aydan...
My mind reaches for him. His torment and pain flood my senses. My hand searches for Cass’s, desperate to cling to something stronger than me. My legs again buckle under the weight of too much emotion. Mine, Aydan’s, the angels’. It’s more than I can bear, more than any of us can. 
Why did this have to happen?
Aydan’s rage lingers in the air. I sense the beast that still lives within him. How long before he succumbs to it? How long before he forgets Nesy and becomes everything Azza has intended.
How long?
“This way.” Cass again pulls me out of my thoughts as I walk away from the antechamber, noticing Aydan’s broken shell curled in on itself. Sobs rack his body like waves buffeting a boat. He will not recover from this. If she dies, he will also.
If she dies—
The thought betrays my hopes. Of course she’ll die. No one can survive Azza’s sword. Not even Mikayel. What chance does Nesy have now?
What chance do any of us have?
Cass tugs on my arm as we wind through the halls into a chamber I’ve never seen. The walls shine with an eerie indigo glow. Two large angels, Mikayel and Raphael, pray over a golden angel marred by a never-ending stream of silver blood.
The blood pools around her still body and I know it’s too much. She cannot survive this, no matter how much we pray. My mouth opens to speak; the sound dies long before the words form. Cass again calms my heart.
Or is it Raphael calming me now?
“Go.” Cass nudges me forward. “He’s waiting.” My feet remain glued to the spot, permanently tethered to the floor.
“I need a minute,” Mikayel whispers to Raphael. He nods and turns toward me. A single tear streams down his face.
I’m not used to seeing the Council show such intense emotion, even for those that have fallen. But somehow, Nesy’s death has touched them all.
“She’s not yet dead,” Raphael says as he passes. “But I have no way to heal her.”
I nod, still unable to speak.
“I’ll be back,” Cass whispers before turning to leave with her master. She’s handling this well. She’s stronger than me, stronger than any of us.
When did that happen? I was always the strongest amongst us.
“Zane.” Mikayel’s voice is hollow, detached. It fills me with a profound sadness I can almost taste. “Come.”
He motions for me to join him. I stare at the broken body—her body—lying on the altar next to Mikayel. Her wings, limp and lifeless, hang alongside her body and drape along the floor. Silver blood glistens from her wounds and coats her skin. Her breastplate is gone, revealing the full depth of her injuries. Azza’s sword penetrated her lungs and pierced her heart, leaving an angry red gash in its wake.
“She still lives. Barely.”
“Is there anything anyone can do?” The words burn against the back of my throat. I cough, choking on my own grief.
“Perhaps.” Mikayel turns away from Nesy. His gaze locks with mine. “There is something that may help her still, something I have told no one.”
My brows furrows as I try to decipher the look of madness now etched on Mikayel’s face.
“Do you know the way to Azzaziel’s realm?”
“Yes.” My voice quivers.
“I need you to go there. For Nesy.”
“To Azza? No. He’s the reason—”
“Not to Azza.” Mikayel’s voice grows cold. “To the demonic smoke that lives in the labyrinth.”
“It owes me a favor; one I intend on collecting.”
“I don’t understand. What does the demonic smoke have to do with Nesy?”
 “It has the power to bring her back.”
I stare at Mikayel in disbelief. There is nothing that can be done for her now, nothing good at least.
“The demonic smoke is something different from us, different from Azzaziel. It has the power to heal her wounds and turn her mortal. But it won’t get involved unless you go and bargain with it.”
“Me? What could I possibly offer? And why can’t you go? You said it owed you the favor.”
“It does. But as you know, the smoke lives in Azza’s realm. He will know of my presence the second I arrive, and Azza can never learn of what we are about to do.” Mikayel swallows hard, the lines of his face like stone. “I know I ask a lot, but this is the only way. A deal must be bartered and Azza must not find out. You are the only one I trust, the only one—”
“Who is expendable.”
“No. The only one I am willing to send. But it must be your choice. Azza will sense your presence if you are only there on my command.”
I turn away from Mikayel. My hands ball into fists at my side. Everything about the request feels wrong—the bargain with this mysterious entity, pushing the limits of the natural order by bringing Nesy back from the dead, everything.
“She is not dead yet,” Mikayel says, sensing my hesitation. “But this is the only way to save her.”
There is no way I can refuse, no way to live with myself if I do. I push aside the growing doubt and fear that clouds my thoughts, push away the image of Nesy dying in front of me, push away my consciousness screaming “No.”
There is only one thing I can say, only one phrase that will form on my lips. “When do I leave?”
“One more thing, Zane, the Council cannot know of this task. Gabriel cannot know.”
I face Mikayel and my face hardens with my doubts. “I will not lie to my master.”
“I’m not asking you to lie. Just don’t seek his permission. I will talk with Gabriel after you’ve left.” Mikayel squares his shoulders and burns into my thoughts. I won’t forsake my master. Not even for Nesy.
Mikayel’s eyes release me and settle on the broken body of Nesy, so lifeless in front of us. “This, her injuries, they’re my fault. I won’t have her die because of me. I can’t let that happen again.”
“Again? So the stories Azza told her were true.”
“I have caused many deaths, yes.”
Anger bubbles through me. “You feel guilty. That’s what this is really about. And you need me to fix it for you.” The words sound more like Nesy’s than my own, only she would be screaming by now.
Mikayel bristles as he focuses his attention back to me.
“I’m right, aren’t I? Sir.”
Anger changes to sympathy in his eyes. “You feel deeply for Nesy, don’t you?”
The truth in his words startles me.
“I recognize the emotion in your eyes. Don’t try to deny it. You will help me because you know it’s the only way to save her. And, Zanethios, you need her to live as much as I do.”
“But becoming mortal, human? It isn’t the same as being healed.”
“True, but it’s the only chance we have. The only way she can survive at all.”
His words hang in the air, tempting me. He’s right about my feelings for Nesy. I do need her to survive. My feelings are more complex than I’ve admitted to anyone, including myself. In truth, I don’t understand them. All I know for certain is I can’t imagine a world where Nesy is gone.
I swallow back the apprehension that lodges in my throat. “Are you certain this demonic smoke will comply with my request?”
“It has no choice. It owes me a favor. But, there will still be a price to pay. It will expect payment. You need to be cautious. Don’t be fooled if it seems to understand you, your heart and your feelings. It is nothing more than illusion dressed up in smoke; a trickster that feeds from the chaos it creates. Nothing more. Do you understand me?”
“I understand.”
“You must mind your emotions when you are in Azza’s realm. They have served you well in the past. But with the smoke, they will betray you.”
Shock fills my cells. What emotions? “I have no emotions to mind.”
A smile forms in Mikayel’s eyes. “That may work with your friends and Gabriel. But I know the truth. You are more like me, more like Nesy, than you are willing to admit. Be careful you don’t let that become your weakness.”
Too many words stumble through me. They die before they are spoken, leaving only emotions that swirl in intoxicating patterns—feelings for Nesy, for Aydan. Hope and betrayal. Love and rage. It’s more than I can acknowledge, more than I can tolerate.
And none of it’s true—just an illusion, a trick of my grief, my mind. Something I’ve never acknowledged.
Nothing but a myth.
I think.