Wednesday, 29 February 2012


BLURB from Goodreads
In the world of Delirium, love is a disease. And like all eighteen-year-olds, Lena and Hana must take the cure.At the start of their last summer of freedom, they were the closest of friends. Until Hana made a decision that tore them apart . . . In Delirium, we heard from Lena. Now, Hana gets to tell her side of the story. And nothing is what we first thought. Hana is a powerful, moving and beautifully told original eBook short story, with a shocking twist that will leave you with your heart in your mouth.

I have to admit I don't always read the "in between" books such as this one but as a fan of Lauren Oliver, I had to read this one, the more I thought about it the more I wanted to know what had been going on with Hana during Lena's story with Alex. I read this in one go as I just didn't want to put it down! I really enjoyed seeing what Hana had been up to, and seeing things from Hana's prospective too. I have already read Pandemonium (I was so lucky that Lauren Oliver sent me an ARC to review). So some would say by reading Delirium and then Pandemonium and then Hana I kind of read Hana out of the order it was  meant to be in, but it really didn't matter, I truly enjoyed it. I slipped straight back into Delirium, and what had happened when etc. Lauren Oliver writes so well you just slide straight through the story with such ease she just carries you along with her and the book. This book made me want book three all the more.... and also made me wonder if we could have a short book like Hana but from Alex's point of view perhaps it could go along and tell us what happens to him when Lena makes it over the fence? or maybe we could have a spin off book telling us all about what's happened to Lena's mother and her story? I honestly cannot get enough of this series of books, I would really like more, more, more please!
So did I enjoy the book/novella? Yes, so much I would dearly love more of them! Would I recommend it? Yes I would, you could read the series without reading this novella but this novella really adds even more to the story so I recommend reading it too.

Available from £0.99 

And just to remind you all, though I am sure you don't need reminding that Pandemonium is OUT TODAY! see my review here

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


FOUR D is a first book from the trilogy. It is a puzzle book. As storyline progress all characters will be interconnected... 
Four D consists of four chapters: “Space”, “Four Rooms”, “The Principle of Luidgi”, and “Guest”.
“Space” is a story about disappearances. The characters lives in a world of disappearing people and objects, which might or might not be important. In such a flexible reality, one should not get used to or attached to anything. However, the main character falls in love and finds a best friend despite all risks. To top it all off, he is visited by Space—the power that stands behind all the disappearances.
“Four Rooms” is a story about a young woman called Elise. Elise had always been a prisoner of her own mind. But at some point everything took a turn. She had to make a stand when she found herself at a life changing situation in a dark room with four doors. She has to open all doors and enter every room with its own mystery and secrets and has to do it immediately. Going through the four rooms is a challenge Elise has to complete to find something she needs so badly – the truth. 
“The Principle of Luidgi” is a story about Luidgi. Luidgi has everything: a beautiful girlfriend, a good job, a lovely apartment, trusted friends but instead of being happy and grateful he’s sick and tired of it all. Luidgi decide to change everything despite all costs. 
“Guest” is a story about the character who wants to meet the Guest. Finally one day he makes decision to do “it” and Guest arrives. Now all his questions are about to be answered, but is it really what he wants? 
These tense mysterious stories with incredibly engaging plots will not leave any reader feeling indifferent

Gregory has kindly sent me a paperback copy of this book, so I will be reading and reviewing soon, it is in my to read and review pile!


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?

 Hi! My name is Gregory, I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and at the moment I live in Chiswick, London.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
 I think, I’m always wanted to be a writer. If I wasn't a writer I’ll still find a way to express myself in the peaceful creative way.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book called “Four D” . It’s book about people who find themself in life changing situation and how they deal with it. It’s little bit of mystery, little bit of surreal realism, and sometimes its for reader to decide how story ends.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I’m hoping to publich second part of “Four D”. Right now I’m looking how readers will react on the first part and do they want to know whats going to happen to the characters in second part.  Yes, I have an idea of the book of a different genre. I even have name for it, but I can’t tell you know ). 
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
My sister and my girlfriend read everything before its goes to publisher. My sister use to work as an editor in magazine so I’m using her professional skulls as much as I can. And my girlfriend she‘s unusual reader, she’ll sense if story a weak.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Not always possible but I’m trying to read all reviews! Reviews makes you see in your book what you can’t see from author point of view. Sometimes it’s something so new, positive or negative its makes you want to improve yourself as a writer.

The Official Gregory Morrison Website
“Four D” facebook fan page


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Dan Wells, I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I currently live about an hour south of there in Orem. If all goes well, though, I'll be living in Germany soon: my job doesn't tie me to a location, so I can live anywhere I want, so my wife and I said 'Why not?' We'll spend a year there, then move on to someplace new.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I told my parents in second grade that I was an author. I wrote a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE book, and it was terrible, but I loved every minute of it. I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
PARTIALS: Eleven years after the end of the world, a teenage girl struggles to give the survivors a future.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

Right now I'm writing the second book in the PARTIALS sequence, and after that I need to finish another SF book I'm working on called EXTREME MAKEOVER (a thriller/satire about cloning). After that is the third PARTIALS book, and then another book about John Cleaver, the main character of my serial killer series. After that, who knows? I'm always looking for something new.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Every book I write has its own soundtrack--for PARTIALS I listened to Muse and The Rolling Stones almost every day while I wrote. That's a weird combination, I guess, but I like weird combinations. They help me think in new directions.

What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?

My favorite review is one on Amazon, of my first book: I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. The guy absolutely loved it, said it was brilliant, then when he got to the supernatural part he reversed completely--he didn't just dislike the story, he said the writing itself was childish. The same book that was brilliant just a few sentences earlier. That review taught me one of the most valuable lessons I've ever learned about writing: people like what they like, and hate what they hate, and it's not your job to change their mind. Write a book you love, and if other people love it too, that's just a bonus.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?

I've heard about a few writers who've done that, and I've lost all respect for them. Cowboy up and accept the fact that different people like different things.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I have an entire room in my house filled with boardgames and card games and roleplaying games and everything else. I play every chance I get, and I love teaching people new games.

What is your favourite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?

My favorite book is Dune, by Frank Herbert, and I've read it five or six times. Just a brilliant piece of science fantasy, packed with more amazing ideas than any other ten books combined.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?

I'm enough of an environmentalist that I have to say 'I hope so,' but I know that's not a popular attitude in bookish circles these days. I don't think it will happen soon, but I do believe it's inevitable. Consider Star Trek: everything's digital, and the only paper books are antiques. I think that's more or less the way we will, and should, go, but I don't see it happening in my lifetime.

Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?

Goodness gracious no. I've met college graduates who've never read a novel in their lives, and I think the world is poorer for it. I think that helping kids read, and (key to making that happen) finding the specific genre or category that each kid will love, is the single most important thing we can do for education. Give a child a love of reading, and everything else will fall into place.

Where can readers follow you?

Your blog details:
Your facebook page: I'm on there, as is PARTIALS.
Your Goodreads author page: it's linked to my blog, though I plan to do more with it soon.
Your Twitter details: @johncleaver--I'm an avid tweeter.


BLURB from Netgalley
Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials--engineered organic beings identical to humans--has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question--one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival.

This is a dystopian/post apocalyptic tale. I really enjoyed this book, it is quite fast paced, there's plenty of action and adventure going on. I loved the characters especially Kira, who is strong willed and has her own strong opinions on what is right and wrong. Once she gets sets her mind to doing something no one can change her mind. She becomes more determined to find a cure for the RM when one of her best friends becomes pregnant. Kira and her group of fellow misfits leave to try and find a cure. They lose people along the way and friendships are made as well as broken too.
I also love the mystery which is suggested at the end of the book as to who Nandita actually is and what her relationship with Kira is too.
I really like the cover too, the way it depicts Kira looking to a lonely landscape ahead of her. The whole concept of the Partials is a brilliant one too. Kira learns that it is not just her race that is having problems. A race that was literally built to fight wars for the humans. there are plenty of questions that rise during the book, such as Did the Partials really release the RM virus? Do they hold the secret elusive key to an antidote to the RM virus? What is the reality of the government? How much do they know about the Partials? Are they lying to the people? Is the Hope Act really needed? How low will the Age Limit be lowered in the Hope Act? Can Kira come up with a solution to the RM problem and the Partials problems too? Can the humans and the Partials ever find and live in peace?
These are just some of the questions raised in the book, some are answered, some are left to be answered in bk2 and some raise other questions for bk2.
So Did I like it? Yes! Would I read bk2?Yes please (when is it available?)Would I recommend it? Yes, especially to dystopian & apocalyptic lovers.

Available 28th February 2012, £4.99

Monday, 27 February 2012


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?

Ann Gimpel. I was born in Seattle and live in Mammoth Lakes, California now. There were lots of stops along the way.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a psychologist. That’s what I was first, and still am.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I suppose when my first short story was accepted for publication a couple of years ago
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
That’s a hard one to answer because my first book never was published, nor the second. Writing is a learning curve. My third book found a home fairly quickly, however. And I recently reworked my first novel, turning it into a YA contemporary fantasy. I entered it into Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award competition.

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Not anymore. I retired a couple of days ago, literally.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?  
Psyche’s Search.
A psychologist with paranormal abilities is lured into searching for a young woman who’s disappeared. Balanced against the immediacy of planning an escape from a crumbling society in the dystopian near-future, her quest leads her into the twisted world of dark magic.

Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
The publisher for my first three novels is Gypsy Shadow Publishing. I’ve had a variety of publishers for my ten short stories that have been accepted to date.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I can turn out a 100,000 word book in about three months. It might take me another three or four to polish it.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
So far, they’ve all been pretty easy. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre? 
Oh, I think I’ll stick with the science fiction and fantasy genres. It feels like a comfort zone for me.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m done with Psyche’s Promise, last book of the Transformation Series. It’s slated for release in July 2012. As noted, I wrote a new YA novel, Fortune’s Scion, that may well be a stand alone. I’m continuing to write short stories. Not sure what the next novel project will be.

What genre would you place your books into?
Contemporary fantasy.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I’ve always been a sucker for Charles de Lint and other similar authors. I really like books set in today’s world where the magic just sort of creeps up on you.

Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
Not really. Books are sort of like children. I like them all in different ways.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I think I like Trevor in the Transformation Series. He’s overcome so much and still maintains his sense of humor and equanimity.

How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing for about four years now. I spend a lot of time in the mountains with a pack on my back. Stories have always run about in my head when I have lots of solitude. I finally decided to do something about it.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Oh my, I wish I did. When I’m in the midst of a novel, or even a short story, the characters run about in my head like little mad things if I’m not sitting in front of a keyboard. I have an upstairs study that looks out on a pine forest. I spent a lot of writing time there.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
Yes, I have beta readers that I ask for reviews. None of them are my immediate family.

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, I do.

What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
So far they’ve all been either four or five stars. My favorite was Kim McDougall’s review of Psyche’s Search, though. Because she’s an established writer herself, her praise felt really good.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
I designed the cover of Psyche’s Prophecy. It’s one of my photographs. (Another hobby.) I hired Laura Jochum to do the cover of Psyche’s Search. Kim McDougall will be doing the cover for Psyche’s Promise. My publisher, of course, would provide covers, but they’re pretty busy and I don’t want to be a bother.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I write the book and, while I’m writing, the title emerges.

How do you market/promote your books?
I use a lot of social media including FB, Twitter, Goodreads, my blog and my website. I also have an author page on Amazon.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
Unforgettable characters.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I ski, backpack and climb mountains. I’m also an amateur photographer.

Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
Not really. Some of my favorites are Ursula le Guin, Robin Hobb, Patricia McKillip and Tolkien. I also like de Lint, and Lev Grossman.

Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
Probably paperback, but I read a lot in e-format, too.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
A couple of older CJ Cherryh books; one paperback, one hard cover.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I hope not.

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I wrote poetry in school. I’ve always written a lot, though. Just not fiction until recently.

What do you think about book trailers?
I think they’re great for publicizing your books.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Develop a thick skin. Ask for criticism and take it to heart. Edit the hell out of everything you write. A couple of run throughs are never enough. I still find errors on my sixth and seventh passes.

Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I don’t think so. It’s hard enough building up a social media presence with one name. The thought of starting all over with another one is so daunting I don’t think I’d want to.

Where can readers follow you?

Your blog details?
Your web site ?
Your facebook page?
Your Goodreads author page?
Your Twitter details? @AnnGimpel


About the Author Ann Gimpel


Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. A trilogy, the Transformation Series, featuring Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search and Psyche’s Promise is complete. The initial two books have been published, with the final volume scheduled for release in 2012. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist and the Transformation Series is no exception.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. Part of her website is devoted to photos of her beloved Sierra. And she lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone else is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)


Excerpt Psyche’s Search
Book Two of the Transformation Series
Chapter One

Doctor Lara McInnis began the day clinging to a slender island of solace. Hours later, waves of patients, errands and phone calls had pounded against that island till it was nothing but a rubble heap. Rubbing wearily at her eyes, Lara finally gave up and closed them. For a moment or two she thought she might get away with it, but then an image of Arabel, her long time receptionist, lying in a pool of her own blood rose out of some subterranean reservoir. The grizzly scene was so real, Lara’s stomach clenched. And then, like an unwelcome tape loop, it played again. And again. Opening her eyes didn’t help one whit. Arabel was just as bloody and just as dead.
Lara collapsed into the chair generally reserved for her patients. Outside her western window a scarlet sunset streaked the Seattle skyline, adding its bloody motif to the one already playing in her head. Disgusted with herself, Lara got to her feet and began pacing the length of her spacious office, burning a track in the Oriental rug. She knew she should be boxing up client files, but couldn’t force herself back to a task she was ambivalent about—at least not until she could get her emotions under better control.
The doorknob rattled. It startled her and Lara’s heart jumped into overdrive.  In her current state, the familiar sound was like a reproach. “How could I not have locked it with everything that’s going on?” she muttered as she rushed into the outer office. Arabel’s desk, another Oriental rug and ornate Victorian furniture with floral upholstery flashed past the edges of her vision, but she was focused on the door as she watched the knob slowly turning.
This is ridiculous, she told herself. It’s probably a pharmaceutical salesman thinking I’m a psychiatrist.
Or that demon that’s been dogging you, a darker inner voice insinuated.
Since the only other option was throwing herself out a second storey window and hoping for the best, Lara crossed the few feet to the door and yanked it open. A decidedly overweight woman jerked her hand away from the doorknob and eyed Lara balefully out of rheumy, blue eyes. Pale brown hair, going gray, was gathered into an untidy bun and fat rolls bulged over too-tight jeans and under an inadequate T-shirt.
“Missus Stone.” Lara tried to smile as she coaxed her heart back to a normal rhythm.
“Hmmmmph, surprised you remember me.”
“Of course I do.” Lara stepped aside, gesturing for the woman to enter. The last thing she wanted was another patient visit, but it would verge on the unethical—never mind the rude—to ask Myra Stone to go away without at least finding out what she wanted.
Lara waited while Myra stalked past her, looked inside the inner office and circled back to stand in front of Lara, hands on her hips. “Guess she’s not here,” Myra snapped as she sat down in one of the reception chairs.
“If you’re looking for Caren, no, she’s not,” Lara agreed, mystified. “Is your stepdaughter missing?”
The woman grunted. She still had an expression on her face that could curdle milk, but she knotted her fingers together and said, “How about if you sit down and you and me can have a little talk.”
“Okay.” Lara kept her voice as neutral as she could, pulled the office door shut—taking care to lock it this time—and rolled Arabel’s chair out. Her butt had barely grazed the seat cushion when the woman started talking.
“I don’t think spending time here is helping Caren. Nope, not at all,” Myra complained in an unpleasant, nasal twang. “I never know where she is. She’s still taking what doesn’t belong to her and that father of hers, well he’s not any help at all. So it’s just me.” Accusatory eyes drilled into Lara. “All my real kids turned out fine. This one, she’s just a bad seed.” Rooting around in a battered handbag, Myra pulled out a cigarette. “Do you mind?”
“Uh, yes, I’d prefer you didn’t smoke,” Lara managed, struck by the gall of the woman and offended to hear her belittle her stepdaughter so blatantly. Caren had said Myra hated her, but Lara had assumed it was just teenaged hyperbole.
Myra stuffed the cigarette into her T-shirt pocket and pushed her bulk upright. “Not much reason for me to stay,” she muttered. “Really thought she’d be here. You’re the only one she ever says anything good about.”
If she felt like one of your real kids, maybe she’d say good things about you—or feel safe enough to love you . . . Discouraged by the woman’s callousness—after all, Caren had been through hell in her sixteen years—Lara stood, too. Trying for a positive spin, she said, “You must be concerned or you wouldn’t have come looking for Caren. Would you like to make an appointment, Missus Stone? I already told you on the phone I’m closing my practice, but I’d be glad to find a time slot for you in the next couple of weeks. We could talk about some of the challenges of step-parenting and how hard it is for abused children to learn to trust—”
“Nah.” Myra waved her to silence. “Hell, my uncle did me and I didn’t turn out like her. I didn’t cut school or steal stuff. Or carve on myself.” Shuffling over to the door, she pulled it open and stalked out into the hall, the tiny chink in her armor replaced by a brittle, defensive anger.
“Well, think about it,” Lara persisted, addressing the woman’s back as Myra headed for a stairwell. Drawing the door shut behind her, she retreated to her office thinking that Myra could do with a smattering of psychotherapy herself. Yeah, like about ten years worth. Crimson from the sunset bled through stained-glass windows, casting her familiar furniture in an eerie light. Lara wrapped her arms around herself, seeking the warmth of her own body for comfort.
That poor child… From abusive kin to a stepmother who doesn’t want her. Sorrow for Caren replaced the Arabel tape loop as color faded from the room. Lara decided it was an improvement, all in all, and she kicked a box over a few inches so she could open the lower drawer of her filing cabinet. Pushing her long red hair back over her shoulders, she proceeded to dump banded files into the banker’s box without any particular regard for order.
The outer door of her office rattled again. This time, though, it was a key sound.
“In here, Trev,” she called back, straightening to greet her longtime boyfriend.
Trevor, his usually buoyant mood notably subdued, held out his arms. “’Lo, Lara. Sorry I’m a bit late but . . . well, never mind, it will keep.” He scanned the room with his intensely blue eyes, taking in her half-finished packing job. “How much more . . .” he began tentatively as he put his arms round her for a hug.
Shooting him a look that was laced with pain, she shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m doing this as fast as I can in between seeing patients who want a last session or two. Thank god Arabel started calling all of them before . . .”
His arms tightened around her. “Doesn’t matter, love. It’ll be done eventually.” Blonde curls brushing against her face, he kneaded her shoulders with both hands. “Bloody hell, you’re wound up tighter than a spring.” The familiar clipped tones of his British accent washed over her like a balm.
“Feels heavenly,” she breathed. “I didn’t realize how . . .” Her voice trailed off. “Well, maybe I did, but I’ve been forcing myself not to pay attention.” She pulled away, sinking onto the floral couch spanning part of one wall. Exhaustion dragged at her as she dropped her head into her hands, rocking slightly.
Pushing a couple of boxes out of the way, Trevor joined her. “I miss Arabel, too, you know.” There was a catch in his voice that he tried to clear away. “Any of those ready to take home?” he asked, pointing at the half dozen boxes littering the floor.
“Yeah, those three.” She jabbed her index finger at a corner of the room. “They’re records from patients I haven’t seen in at least a couple of years.”
“What are you going to do with the others?” His voice was gentle, but he placed a finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him. “What are you saving them for?”
“Guess I can’t very well keep any of them,” she muttered. “It’s not like we’re even going to be here after a little while.”
“No,” he agreed solemnly. “It’s not. And we’re not.”
Pursing her lips into a thin line, she found her feet. “Okay, then,” she snapped, angry with the universe that seemed to be stealing her life away. Pulling open file drawers, she grabbed a few charts and dumped them onto her desk. “I need these since I’m not quite done with these people, but all the rest can go.”
Nodding, Trevor joined her in front of the twin horizontal files, and together they began to move twenty years worth of Lara’s psychology practice into the waiting cartons. “You’ll need more boxes,” he noted after a few minutes. “Lots more.”
“Thought we could fill these, dump them at home, and then I’d just bring the empties back tomorrow and begin all over.”
“Ah, brilliant. Of course that’s the obvious thing to do.” Grunting, he shouldered a box and headed for the door. “I’ll be back directly for another.”
“Right behind you,” she said, picking up a box. “I do feel better when I’m doing something other than wallowing in my own misery.”
“That’s my girl,” he shot back over his shoulder.
The minute Trevor opened the door of his old Mercedes convertible, Gunter, their eleven-week-old German Shepherd lunged out of the car, making a beeline for Lara. The little black puppy yipped, whined and launched himself at her, pulling at her wool skirt with his claws. “There, there, little man,” she cooed, putting her box down so she could unhook his feet from the fabric of her skirt. “Yes, yes, I’ve missed you, too.”
As she fondled the puppy, she glanced at Trevor. Dressed in faded blue jeans, a green chambray shirt and a tan corduroy blazer, his tall, lanky frame exuded its usual casual elegance. “How’d your day go?” she asked.
“Not bad,” he replied, shoving his box of files into the car’s small trunk and reaching for the one she’d set on the sidewalk. “We’ll have to put the rest in your car, love. No more room in here.” He slammed the car’s boot. “I started really taking stock of what’s in our house . . . and making lists. Went down to the waterfront, too.” His lips curved wryly. “Didn’t find much in the way of antique farm equipment, but I did get some leads. Bloke at the flea market looked at me as if I was daft.”
She flashed him a weak smile. “Well, dear, I suppose it’s not every day they get customers hunting for scythes, or whatever it was you asked for.”
“Let’s get those other boxes down here. Then we can walk the pup before we go home.”
Lara inclined her head and turned to go back into her building Lucky for us the electricity’s not on the fritz. It’s almost dark out here. Power outages had been hit-and-miss. More often than not, she’d had to use a flashlight to find her way out of her building. Back in the office, she continued throwing files willy-nilly into the boxes she’d bought earlier that day. An orderly part of her rebelled when she looked at the files, no longer alphabetized, lying on their sides like beached whales. “It doesn’t matter,” she muttered fiercely. “All we’re going to do is burn them.”
She remembered something Raven had told her. Your thought patterns are still trapped in your old life. That is what has brought modern civilization to the brink of extinction: an intransigent unwillingness to change anything.
As she thought about Raven, a vision of the tall, broad-shouldered Sidhe with his flowing black hair filled her mind; and the amulet Lillian had given her, nestled between her breasts on its golden chain, thrummed approvingly. Lara grasped the moonstone through the fabric of her teal silk blouse, enjoying its warmth. Raven and Lillian: two ancient creatures, somehow alive and well in the early years of the twenty-first century. Doesn’t matter why or how, I’m just glad they’re here, helping us.
Trevor strode back into her inner office. “Got another box ready?” he asked, looking confused. “I know you told me earlier, but I don’t remember.”
“Uh-huh.” She crooked a finger off to the side. “That one. I’ll just finish this one and cart it out. Then there’ll only be two more to fill and we can head home.”
“Ugh,” Trevor grunted as he shoved the last of the boxes into Lara’s silver BMW. “Glad you only got six boxes. I don’t think we could have crammed any more in with a shoehorn, since all that outdoor clothing we bought is still in there.”
“Brrrr . . .” she wrapped her arms around her upper body. “It’s getting cold. Why don’t you start for home? I’ll be along soon.”
“Right, then.” Coming over to her, he gathered her close. “No wonder you’re cold, love.” He fingered the silky fabric of her blouse. “Be sure to put on your jumper before you leave.”
“Yes, Daddy.” She smiled into the folds of his blazer, thinking how good it felt to be cared about.
He ruffled her hair, spun her round and gave her a friendly swat on the butt. “Off with you, love. I’ll try to have something started for supper by the time you get there. You are leaving directly behind me?”
“Right after I lock up.”
Lara ran up the broad front steps of her Victorian office building knowing she’d miss the old place with its unique stained glass windows. Pulling the front door shut and taking care to spin the deadbolt, she padded up the carpeted stairs to her office, opened the door and stopped short. Caren was sitting on the floor in the darkened reception area.
“Caren! How on earth did you get in here?”
“Back door was open.” The teenager’s voice was barely audible.
“I don’t think so,” Lara said, looking closely at her young client. “I distinctly remember locking it earlier.”
“So, I helped it along a little,” the girl said, her voice rising defiantly.
“It’s okay,” Lara murmured. “However you managed to get in, it must have been important for you to find me.”
“Uh, yeah. I—I didn’t believe what my stepmother told me. I thought she was just being mean. But it . . . it’s true.” Caren’s voice broke and a low, keening moan escaped her. “I looked in there,” she jerked a thumb towards the inner office where Lara saw her clients. “You’re really leaving, aren’t you? Just like everyone else has left me. You’re leaving, too.” Reproachful blue eyes vilified Lara.
“Oh, sweetie . . .” Lara began.
“Don’t sweetie me,” the girl snarled. “You really had me going there, Doc. I thought you actually cared about me. But it was just a job, wasn’t it? Just a fucking job and now you’re . . . you’re . . .” Her face twisted into a rictus and Caren began to cry. Soft little animal sounds tore out of her as she turned her face to the wall.
Ach, what can I tell her that she’ll believe? “Do you mind if I sit down?” Lara asked, as she drew the outer door of her office closed.
“I don’t fucking care what you do,” the girl choked out between sobs.
Nodding, Lara sank to the floor, but not too close to Caren. “I can see why you’d think I’m abandoning you,” Lara began, as she reached out to her psychic side for help. Caren’s aura reflected the girl’s misery. Instead of lively colors, it had reverted to an opaque gray.
“You are.”
“Well, I am leaving,” Lara agreed. “But I’m not leaving to get away from you.” Caren was silent, so Lara forged ahead, hoping against hope the girl would listen for long enough to not simply pigeonhole what was happening now into the long cavalcade of adults who had let her down. “My receptionist, Arabel, was murdered during the riots last week. She . . .” Lara swallowed hard. “She was like a mother to me, since my own mother died when I was very young. I . . . well, Caren, I just can’t stand to be here without her. I know it’s abrupt, and I would have liked to have had at least a month to tell all of my patients goodbye, but . . .”
A tear dripped down her face and Lara brushed it away. “I don’t think I can keep on seeing people without Arabel’s help. What I do is hard work. I can’t do it if I’m empty inside.”
“Oh.” The girl’s voice was small and wounded. “You didn’t have a good mother either?”
“Uh-uh.” Fishing around in her skirt pockets for a Kleenex, Lara wiped at her eyes.
“That’s why you understood . . . about me.”
“Yes, dear. That’s part of it.” Glancing at her patient, Lara saw that Caren had straightened slightly from her slumped position in the corner where she’d looked like a discarded rag doll. Her aura seemed just a bit better, too.
“But I don’t want you to leave.” The words tore out of the girl like shards of glass, painful to hear.
Lara held out her arms. “Come here,” she invited. “Let me hold you. You look like you could use a hug. And I know I could.” Figuring it was the last phrase that had done it; Lara took a deep breath as she closed her arms around the distraught teen who’d scuttled across the floor, flinging herself into the offered embrace.
“This is so hard,” Caren snuffled. “You’re the first one I’ve trusted in . . . in years. And now you won’t be here anymore.”
“But you’ll carry the knowledge in your heart that you can trust someone,” Lara murmured, stroking Caren’s soft, dark hair. “And I’ll carry you with me as well.”
“You won’t forget about me.”
“Oh, sweetie, how could I?” Lara closed her eyes. Disclosing personal information ran against her professional grain, but what possible difference could the truth make at this point? Disentangling herself slightly from the trembling girl, Lara said, “Look at me. I want to tell you something.”
When the girl’s troubled eyes met hers, Lara let out a breath. “I could never forget you because you remind me so much of me when I was young.”
Caren’s eyes filled with tears. “You aren’t just saying that. You really mean it.”
“Yes, I really mean it. Now, when I called your stepmother, I asked her to find out if you wanted to come in for a last session or two. Did she tell you that?” Caren shook her head and Lara was filled with silent fury at the woman. “How about tomorrow after school?”
“I . . . I’d like that.”
“Okay, let me take a peek at my schedule.” Lara heaved herself to her feet, feeling even more drained than when she’d been packing boxes. Just then her cell phone trilled. Picking it up, she glanced at the number and then pushed the answer key. “Hi, Trev . . .” she began.
“Where in the bloody blazes are you?” he snapped. “Please, please tell me you’ve got a good reason for not being home.”
“I’m almost out of here,” she replied carefully, aware Caren was listening. “I’ll call you from the car once I’m on my way. Don’t worry, Trev. I’m okay.” She heard his breath whistling through the cellular system.
“Righto.” His accent was very crisp, betraying his fear. “I’ll wait for you to ring me back.”
Of course he’d be worried after the riots and Arabel, never mind that patient of mine who tried to kill me. Lips pursed together, Lara pulled up the calendar on her phone.
“Is your husband mad at you?” Caren asked tremulously.
“No dear, just worried. Would three-thirty work?” Lara looked questioningly at the teenager. At Caren’s nod, Lara began tapping buttons. “There,” she said. “You’re in. Do you have a ride home?”
“Yeah, I brought my car. It’s in the, uh, alley.”
“Next to my back door?”
Caren dropped her eyes. “Yeah.”
“Okay, give me a sec and I’ll walk you out.”
Lara slipped on a gray tweed wool jacket, grabbed her phone, pager and purse and shepherded Caren out of the office, down the stairs and around to the back. “Is that it?” Lara asked, pointing to a yellow Volkswagen.
“Are you better?”
Caren looked at her, bit her lower lip and said, “Yes, some. But I still wish you weren’t going.”
I wish I wasn’t either. “Bye, dear. Drive safe.” Locking up, she marveled that the unruly teen had managed to defeat a locking mechanism designed to stymie professional burglars. After setting the building alarm, she hit the speed dial digit on her BlackBerry that would connect her to home. Trevor picked up on the first ring.
“Well?” he said, still sounding half-sick with fear.
“It was one of my younger patients,” she said as she walked to her car, “needing reassurance. She’d snuck in the back while we were out loading boxes and, well, she looked round the office, put two and two together and panicked. Anyhow, I’m on my way. Can I tell you the rest when I get home? I’m tapped out, and I don’t want to try to talk and drive at the same time.”
“Sure, love.” His voice had softened. “See you soon.”
“I love you.” She hit the end call button and engaged the ignition.
Shutting her eyes for a few seconds to rest them before trying to deal with the glare from other cars’ headlamps, Lara grimaced. Her eyes felt gritty and she was so tired her bones ached.
Well, nothing’s going to get better with me just sitting here. May as well get moving. As she guided the car into light traffic on her way to the freeway, Lara thought about the last three weeks. Hard to believe it had only taken that short amount of time for life-as-usual to collapse. “Get a grip,” she hissed as she drove, fingers clenched around the leather-clad wheel. “It’s not like Trev hasn’t been warning me for months there wasn’t enough gasoline or food. I just did my usual ostrich routine and didn’t pay any attention to him.” She sighed. Truth, when it reared up to slap her in the face, was always daunting. She knew she was a master of only looking at what she wanted to see. Yeah, I save the hard work for my patients . . .
Her minded drifted to Lillian. After years of a love-hate relationship with her own psychic abilities, Lara had finally made an effort to find someone who could teach her about her magical side. “Heh! I got a tad more than I bargained for,” she mumbled, finding enough energy to laugh ruefully.
Lara’s forehead creased in thought. Everything that had happened since Ken Beauchamp had accosted her on the front porch of her office, threatening her because she’d tried to help his abused wife, merged into a confusing maelstrom. I can’t think anymore. Maybe I could just do some breathing . . .
When Lara finally turned the car onto her street on Queen Anne Hill, she was painfully close to the end of her emotional tether. Relaxation breathing hadn’t helped much and she still felt like she was running on fumes. Her head throbbed dully. As she scanned the street for parking spots, she spotted one fairly close to the twenty-five stairs leading to their house and maneuvered into it. Shutting off the engine, she folded her hands together over the top of the steering wheel and rested her forehead on them. A sharp tap on her window made her jump, head swiveling quickly.
“Lara?” Trevor’s voice, muted by the thick safety glass, still sounded worried.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m coming.” She pushed the door open and stumbled out into the chill damp of a Seattle evening. His arms closed around her. “Bring what you need, love. Or I can get it for you.”
“Bag, phone, pager.” She drew in a shuddery breath. “Hell, Trev, I’m not that bad off. Nothing wrong with my body. I’m just emotionally drained and my head hurts. If you hand that stuff to me, you can haul one of those boxes upstairs.”
Wordlessly, he extracted the BMW’s keys from her, then reached inside to gather up her things. While he was doing that, Lara walked around to the back of the car. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, an inner voice scolded. He needs your help. Straightening her shoulders and blowing out a couple of breaths, she called out, “Hit the hatch release, would you?” Once it was open, she reached inside and grasped one of the banker’s boxes by its built-in handles. “Here.” She walked to the side of the car where he was standing, holding her things. “Just drop them on top of this box.”
“Bloody bollocks, Lara. When you got out of the car, you looked like you could barely stand up.”
“Being home helps. Come on, dear. Please don’t fight with me.”
With an exasperated sigh, Trevor clipped her phone and pager to her bag, then laid all three atop the box she was carrying. “See you inside.”
“No, you’ll see me back out here in a couple of minutes. We can eat after all those boxes are in the house. I can’t leave them out here. They’re confidential patient files. Burning them is one thing. Leaving them, even in a locked car, is quite another.” Turning, she began to climb the steps to the front porch of their five storey home.
“We could try one of those shredding services,” he called after her.
Balancing the box carefully on a step, she trotted back over to him. “No, we couldn’t,” she said in a low voice. “Raven said it’d be dangerous for us if people know we’re leaving. If we give hundreds of pounds of files to the shredders, someone’s bound to get suspicious. Especially since they, of all people, would know I’m supposed to hang onto things for at least seven years.”
Pulling the hatch closed, Trevor picked up two boxes, one atop the other. “Hmmmmph, hadn’t thought about it in quite that light. Lead on, then. I’m just behind you.”