Friday, 28 February 2014


Title: By the Fates, Fought
Author: Patricia D. Eddy
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Audience:  18+
Formats: eBook
Publisher: Patricia D. Eddy
Cover By: Ravven
Editor: Clare C. Marshall
Pages: 400 pages estimated.

Date to be published: 18 March, 2014

BLURB supplied by Sparkle Book Tours
Spring in Gralvein brings Ealasaid peace. Six months to the day Raven found her shackled and tortured in the devil's lair, their public handfasting is the happiest day of her life. But a storm is coming. Devils join King Eideard's Guarda and watch Ealasaid constantly. Faolan's spies report Lobhdain is plotting. What is this mystical artifact he searches for?
When the devils attack and one of their allies disappears, Raven and Ealasaid fear they will never be safe. Can they manage a daring rescue? Or will Ealasaid lose everything she holds dear?
By the Fates, Fought is the second novel in the By the Fates trilogy. It contains several disturbing scenes, including brief descriptions of rape and torture and is meant for mature audiences. It ends on a cliffhanger. By the Fates, Fulfilled will be released in Fall of 2014.  

Patricia D. Eddy has been a writer all of her life. She used to sit at her parents' kitchen counter at an Apple IIe typing out short stories. She even wrote a few on their old typewriter. But it wasn't until NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2011 that she ever came close to finishing a story she started.
Once that dam broke, the flood waters never receded. Patricia sits down to write every evening after dinner and quite often sees midnight come and go before she heads to bed. She doesn't sleep much. But she wouldn't have it any other way.
In her spare (HA!) time she runs, bikes, swims, yogas, pilates-es, reads, and is terribly addicted to Doctor Who and Sherlock. Apparently she has a thing for quirky British men.



Title: The Girl
Author: Madhuri Blaylock
Series: The Sanctum
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: 11th November 2013

BLURB supplied by Reading Addiction Blog Tours
The Sanctum, an all-powerful governing body founded by ten families, entrusted to maintain the peace amongst Magicals and ensure the ignorance of humans, has been corrupted by greed and savagery for generations, but is all Wyatt Clayworth has ever known.

A descendant of one of the Founding Families and Class A Warrior, Wyatt has always believed in the ways of The Sanctum, having grown up in the system and thrived under their leadership. A golden boy, renowned for his prowess and skill in battle, Wyatt has never questioned a mission or kill order until the night he crosses paths with a brutally injured and mysterious girl.

Scouring Central Park with his best friend and fellow Class A Warrior, Ryker Morrison, for the hybrid demon prophesied to bring an end to The Sanctum and destroy the world for Magicals and humans alike, Wyatt instead finds Dev and his whole life turns upside down. Told he was hunting a killing machine, hellbent on wreaking havoc and destruction upon all it encounters, Wyatt instead sees nothing more than a broken girl with haunted eyes and a bit of a death wish.

All Dev wants is for Wyatt to either kill her or leave her alone. When he refuses to do either, she finds herself being pulled into his life while being hunted by warriors everywhere she turns. Drawn to one another for reasons they cannot begin to explain to themselves, much less anyone else, Wyatt is determined to protect Dev and help her realize her mission to avenge the deaths of her family at the hands of The Sanctum. His abdication of his duties and his outright rejection of his responsibilities to The Sanctum create a maelstrom of events beyond anyone’s imagination.


Madhuri Blaylock is a lawyer by day, writer and avid shoe and dress buyer at all other times. She lives in Jersey City, but her heart remains firmly planted in Brooklyn via Snellville, Georgia. Her husband, Henry, is also a lawyer, and only a lawyer because he actually likes being a lawyer (go figure), probably always wanted to be a lawyer and is really, really good at all things lawyerly. He's also pretty hot.

She’s got a big kid, Miss Sydney, and a little kid, the one and only Dash. They're awesome and fierce and supremely cool and able to make her laugh at the strangest things. She would love to add a dog, some chickens, a goat and a burro to this crew. Everyone needs a burro.

Some of her favorites, in no particular order: ice cream, Kill Bill, four-inch heels, Matt Damon, tattoos, Laini Taylor, scotch on the rocks, The Sanctum trilogy, random office supplies, Martha's Vineyard, "The Girl" aka my Mini, Rihanna, Doc Martens, tulips, photo booths and dancing like a fool.

One day she plans to grow up. Right now, she’s enjoying the adventure.

What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now? 
My name is Madhuri Blaylock, I was born in Vancouver, Canada, I grew up in Snellville, Georgia, came to New York City to attend Barnard College, graduated and moved to Brooklyn, New York, moved back to the city for a while and now, am currently living in Jersey City (Heights in the house!), New Jersey.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be? 
I’ve wanted to write for a very long time; however, I distinctly recall as a little kid devouring Gerald Durrell books and wanting to be a zoologist. In fact, I wanted to go to UC Berkeley and study zoology. I also wanted to be an actress. My admissions essay for my NYU college application was my acceptance speech for winning the Best Actress oscar.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"? 
I don’t know. I’ve always written but since I can’t support myself with my writing (at least not yet) I feel rather strange calling myself a writer. But it’s coming, I can feel it.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work? I do. I am a corporate litigation attorney for a large Manhattan law firm and have been practising for about 15 years.
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 is the first book in The Sanctum trilogy and it’s called The Girl. In less than twenty words, I would say The Girl is a simple quest for revenge that evolves into a complex tale of trust, friendship, honor and love.

Who is your publisher? or do you self publish? 
I’m self-published.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it? 
For The Girl, I was jotting down ideas for the book for about a year and a half and then finally told myself to start writing, lest I wind up with binders full of notes, but no manuscript. I started writing in May of last year and had a first draft complete by October. I edited for about another month and published The Girl last November.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series? 
Yes, I’m currently working on Book II: The Boy, which is the second book in The Sanctum Trilogy. I’m hoping to have it ready to publish in about a month or so.

What genre would you place your books into? 
Paranormal. Some folks also categorize it as Young Adult, but I’m on the fence about that one, especially as Book II comes along. It just doesn’t seem all that “Young Adult-ish” to me.

What made you decide to write that genre of book? 
I love reading fantasy and paranormal fiction, have always had a very vivid imagination, and just really wanted to give it a shot. I had an idea of the world I wanted to create, went online and did some research about “world-building” in the fantasy genre and then just started doing my thing. Once I began, it kind of took off from there.

Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite? The Girl is my favorite because I feel as if it’s a perfect culmination of my maturation as a writer. It’s so different from my two earlier books, the language, the feel, the rhythm. I’m really proud of it, on many different leves.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite? 
Wyatt is my favorite; I simply love him, even his flaws, and always have tremendous hope for him.

If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why? 
Easily Darby. For one, she’s a vampire and I love vampires. She’s smart, deadly and funny. But even more so, I love her power and confidence and the ease with which she uses her sexuality. You can tell she really knows herself and is comfortable with the being she is and I find that quality so attractive. She’s simply a walking turn-on.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know? 
I have a group of girlfriends who count as my “beta readers”. My sister-in-law, Arsha, is smart as a whip, a voracious reader and someone who’s opinion I trust tremendously. My friends Alessandra and Betsey are both from the media world, Alessandra being a writer/editor, formerly with Newsweek and The Daily Beast and currently the Editorial Producer at Thomson Reuters and Betsey is the Art Production Director for the magazine Everyday with Rachel Ray. And finally, my close friends and colleagues, Emily and Corey, both brilliant legal minds and great editors. Plus, Corey is my fantasy/paranormal reading buddy. We recommend books and devour series together and she knows the genre really well, so she’s been tremendously helpful in creating The Sanctum.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books? 
I do. I love hearing what people have to say about The Girl, be it good or bad. Luckily, most of the comments and reviews have been really positive but you can’t appeal to everyone all of the time and I’ve gotten some bad reviews. They’re tough to read and you instantly feel defensive because your writing is so personal, but it’s the nature of the beast. You have to take a step back after you read the bad reviews, inhale deeply and calm yourself, then understand that it’s simply one person’s perspective and for every bad one, there are a few good ones as well.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
The cover designs are the work of my uber-talented friend and neighbor, Michele Mason Holmberg. I approached her with some initial ideas for The Girl and she put them together and it looked great. I remember when she sent me the first cover, I was riding in the car and opened her email and was just floored by her creation. However, then she read some of the book and came up with her own design and honestly, I’m just really speechless. It’s the current cover and I love it. She’s already working on the cover for Book II, and although I’ve given my two cents on her first draft, I trust her judgment completely and know that whatever she winds up sending me is going to be awesome. 

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I have a title, but it never sticks. My first series was initially called The Coco Butta Kids and has now morphed into Ayesha’s Teenage Survival Files. The Sanctum Trilogy was originally called The Code of Ten, but once I really fleshed out the storyline and the three books, I realized that title didn’t work as well as The Sanctum.

How do you market/promote your books? 
I’ve spent the last several months posting, tweeting, blogging, touring and pinning. It’s a neverending, exhausting process and I hate it with a passion, but being an Indie author, I cannot escape it. I would love to have someone do it for me, but as of today, I’m just not there yet.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ? 
A really good book is one that keeps you reading late into the night, despite the fact that you know you have to get up in the morning and go to work and if you don’t close it now, you’ll be dragging all day and yet, you keep reading. What makes a bestseller? I have no idea, but if you do, please tell me the secret.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
I have and it sucked, but I think it’s all part of the process. When it’s happened, I’ve kept writing, even if it’s just a few sentences in a day. At least it’s something and eventually I manage to write myself out of it. I just suffered a bout of it last week and wound up deleting about a chapter worth of work, but I got myself out of it and have since been on quite a tear.

Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing? 
For my current work, I would say Laini Taylor has influenced me the most, especially her book “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”. She created such a beautiful novel, that was so interesting and full of characters I love, and I wanted to see if I could do the same.

What is your favourite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once? 
It’s too hard to pick an absolute favorite, but “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is in my top five. I love Marquez’ world of magical-realism and find myself getting lost, over and over, in the beautiful, often-harsh and always magical saga of the Buendia family

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books? 

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life? 
It’s funny that you ask because I was just hanging out with a childhood friend who was in town for a weekend and she was telling her friends who came into town with her how I used to write stories about our group of friends and the fabulous lives we were going to lead in Manhattan. I’ve always written; it’s a great escape for a moderate introvert with a runaway imagination.

Did you have a favourite author as a child? 
Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it? 
Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret.

Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Fantasy and paranormal, but really I love reading all types of fiction. There’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book and getting lost for a while.

Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them? 
I would say keep an eye out for Kayti Nika Raet and her work in The Outsider Chronicles. Taking place in a dystopia that has suffered an apparent cataclysmic environmental disaster, leaving its inhabitants fearing the acid rain that falls from the skies, dodging heart-eating Slithers and generally fighting to survive, Raet deftly creates a world full of despair and anger, with glimpses of hope interspersed throughout, setting up the reader for what I can only imagine is going to be an interesting ride.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer? 
Write, write and write some more. Then sleep a little, wake up, and keep writing. Oh, and drink lots of coffee.

If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with? 
Zora Neale Hurston, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mark Twain. The conversation would be brilliant, the memories divine.

Where can readers follow you?
Your Blog Details?
Your Facebook Page?
Your Goodreads Author Page?
Your Twitter Details?
And any other information you wish to supply? Hit me up, any time, any place. I love to hear from folks. And thanks for the interview. It was a blast. Rock on.


Thursday, 27 February 2014


Shadows follow you in the darkness of the night and the eerie sensation of being watched crawls up your spine. Your sanity pulls apart at the seams as the terrors stalk their victims, leaving you too frightened to turn off the light.
These twisted stories will leave you breathless, dreading the horrors lurking around the corner.
Seventeen authors. Seventeen tales of terror. Infinite nightmares.

Watch your back.



This started out as a contest but grew into an idea. This is the third anthology that was created out of a contest on my Facebook page. The authors and readers were given the opportunity to write a short story using the guidelines provided. This go round I received over thirty entries. Only seventeen were chosen, but every story deserves a moment of recognition. I want to thank everybody for their time and their wonderful imaginations. The seventeen chosen are what you will find in this anthology, a collection of short stories that left me in awe at the talent of these amazing authors. These stories come from already published authors as well as readers who aspired to write.
The guidelines used to write these short stories were ones that I thought would appeal to the audience. This left a collection of shorts that will take you all over the paranormal genre.

* This anthology will have a main theme of Stalkers. That is about where my direction stops. It does not have to be paranormal, though it can be. The story can be a psychological thriller, horror, paranormal, suspense, action… whatever you want it to be. You can have a demon stalking someone in their dreams or a serial killer stalking prey, just to give you a couple examples. Whatever your twisted minds can come up with. I want stories that have you looking in the backseat of your car before you get in—stories that make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you think someone looked at you just a little too long. Let your imaginations flow free and DELVE into the DARKER side of your mind… You know you want to.*

I believe that the authors of these short stories more than met the guidelines; they exceeded even my expectations. I hope that you enjoy reading these as much as I did. Please leave a review when you are finished on Amazon or Goodreads and let us know what you think. Also, please take the opportunity to connect with these amazing authors. Author links are included on the individual title pages of the stories.
Enjoy your read!

Cynthia Shepp

Freezer Burn

Jon Messenger

About Jon   

Jon Messenger graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations. His passion for writing began in college and has continued throughout his military career, to include two combat deployments in Iraq. His four full-length science fiction novels and two short stories directly portray his combat experiences.
He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, son, and small petting zoo.

Stalk Jon


Read More from Jon

Burden of Sisyphus:


“Sarah, we’ve got to go.”
He didn’t hear a reply, other than the ongoing hum of the hair dryer. Sighing, he stood from the bed and walked over to the bathroom door. He knocked lightly.
“Baby? Are you almost done?”
She should have been able to hear him from the closed door, but she didn’t respond.
“Sarah?” he said, suddenly concerned. He turned the door handle and let the door swing open.
The bathroom was empty…


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Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Title: Her Sister's Wedding
Author: Jane Ainslie
Genre: Contemporary Sweet Foodie Romance
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Release Date: 3rd December 2013

BLURB from Goodreads
She’s hungrily pursuing a dream…

Food journalist Mandy Evans is headed for Paris to fulfill her life-long dream of studying art, but not before she has to be a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding.

He’s nursing a burning ambition…

After setting up his latest restaurant, renowned American chef Jake Pearson has a big project booked in Miami, but not before he’s best man at his friend’s wedding.

Is there a wrong time to meet the right person?

Partnered at the wedding, Jake falls for Mandy’s sassy, natural style, and she can’t get enough of his passion for food—and for her. But when it’s a case of finding love at the wrong time, can they find room on their plates for each other?


I am an author of two novels, Chai for Beginners and Her Sister's Wedding. Check out my website at I think reading, and writing books, are two of life's greatest pleasures. Well, that and eating lovely food and drinking martinis, and a few other things I can think of! 


Title: The Headhunters Race
Author: Kimberly Afe
Series: Headhunters #1
Release date: January 3rd 2014
Publisher: January Sky Publishing
Purchase: Amazon

BLURB supplied by Itching For Books Blog Tours
Sixteen-year-old Avene was sentenced to prison at thirteen for a crime she didn't commit. Now she has a chance to win her freedom back – if she enters the Headhunters Race. Second prize isn't so bad either, an upgrade to the Leisure Prison if you make it to the finish line. To win either prize, Avene and the other prisoners must navigate one hundred and fifty miles of dense forest, desert, and worst of all, cannibal territory.
With a mechanical collar timed to strangle the prisoners if they're not back in nine days, Avene allies herself with seventeen-year-old McCoy, another prisoner that insists on helping her at every turn and a boy she's trying hard not to fall for. Together they battle nature, other prisoners, and the timed death collars to win the coveted prize. But when Avene is tested with one deadly conflict after another, she realizes there is more at stake than winning her freedom – first she has to survive. 

Kimberly is the mother of two awesome kids, wife of the nicest man in the world, and her dog's best friend. She works by day and writes middle grade and young adult science fiction and fantasy novels in her spare time. She lives with her family in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.


Website     Goodreads     Twitter     Facebook     Blog   Amazon


This excerpt is from the day the race starts and Avene is getting ready.

                Hours later, when the birds start chirping, I know it's almost time to wake up. I get out of bed and change into my special clothes. The ones I've been saving for this day: a sturdy pair of jeans and a man's blue flannel shirt. Underneath I wear my white fitted tee-shirt, depicting a crudely drawn skull. I added the crossbones bearing a set of daggers with a nearly dried-up marker I found a year ago. It represents my mantra for the race: stay away from me or I'll kill you.

            I tie my sheath around my thigh, re-lace my boots with longer and sturdier cord I found on a pair of men's boots in the goodie two shoes clothing pile, and then gulp down several handfuls of water. I wipe the droplets from my mouth while I pace like a caged panther. A few minutes later I slug down another five handfuls before I remember to fill my water bottle.

            Zita leans up on her elbow. "You're sure you want to do this?"

            "I have to, Zita. It's our only way out. The only way we'll be free."

            She throws off her cover and leaps to her feet. "Well, we better do something with that hair. They'll start calling the prisoners out soon."

            Zita snatches our slop container from the table. She fills it with dirt from the corner and mixes in a bit of water. "I'm not sure how well this will work," she says, stirring it with her finger. "Sit."

            I sit on the ground cross-legged at her feet. She kneels beside me, takes a small lock of hair, and rubs mud all through the strands. The stringy tresses stick together, cold and wet against my cheek. After one side of my head is finished, she steps back and surveys her work. "Nope, this isn't working. Your roots are still too light."

            "Why don't you wash her whole head in it?" says McCoy.

            I stiffen. Leave it to him to think of dunking my whole head in mud.

            "You're a genius!" says Zita. She grabs my arm and pulls me to my feet. "Help me," she says to McCoy and I cringe at the thought of him touching my head when I'm a direct competitor. He might send his ninja blade across my neck.

            He grabs the sink, half full of water, water I need to drink, and dumps three quarters of it into the corner. "Hey, I need to drink that!" I say.

            "You can drink ours," says McCoy.

            Right. I'm not going to drink theirs. He'd love that. Especially now that he's going to have to hunt on his own and the only way he knows how is by poaching off me.

            Zita stops short of pouring in handfuls of dirt. Instead she goes to the fire pit and scoops out gobs of ash. She swishes it around with her fingers, stares at it like she's not satisfied, and goes ahead and dumps in a handful of dirt anyway. "Okay, bend over, girl."

            I lean over the sink while Zita pours the murky mixture over my hair and massages it in. It's gritty and gross.

            "Hand me that old shirt in the corner," says Zita.

            I'm looking upside down at McCoy while he retrieves the old shirt she uses as her dust rag. She wrings out my hair and then places the shirt over top and squeezes out the excess water. "I wish I had a comb," she says, flipping my head up and steering my behind back to the ground.

            "It's okay, I can use my fingers," I say.

            McCoy dashes into their room. "Boom has one, hold on."

            I lean my head back in defeat. He's determined to help me, to make me feel obligated to help him in return, but his niceties aren't going to work on me.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Title: Ungifted 
Author: Kelly Oram
Genre: YA paranormal/fantasy
Series: Supernaturals #2 (companion)
Expected Publication: March 2014

BLURB supplied by GCR Book Tours

Even though her father is running for President of the United States, Grace St. Claire is as normal a girl as they come. She’s clumsy, shy, and an outcast among her peers. She even manages to nearly die in a freak accident in front of the entire school. But when Grace survives a vampire attack she quickly learns that she is anything but ordinary.

There’s something about human Grace that has all the supernaturals around her going crazy. Her best friend’s brother suddenly wants to date her. Her worst enemy has sworn to protect her even against her wishes. Someone with very powerful magic wants her dead, and the vampire that attacked her has developed an obsession with making her his eternal mate.

In order to survive—and not as Count Dracula’s undead bride—Grace dives head first into the terrifying world of the supernatural. She teams up with a charming but mysterious warlock who strolled into town causing trouble and spouting stories of a Prophesy and Chosen One that looks exactly like Grace. Together they must figure out why Grace is different, who wants her dead, how she’s connected to the Chosen One, and who they can really trust.


Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which family and friends still tease her. She's obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and loves to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.



Title: Undertow
Series: Undertow
Author: K.R. Conway
Publisher: Self/Indie
Release Date: 11th October 2013

BLURB supplied by Reading Addictions Blog Tours
Seventeen-year-old Eila Walker’s new home has defied the brutal Atlantic for over 160 years. Abandoned since her 4th great grandmother Elizabeth vanished, the town legend declares that she drowned . . . or was struck by lightning.

Unbeknownst to the town and Eila, however, is that someone does know what really happened to Elizabeth, and he has returned, determined to protect the last surviving Walker from a history of violence. 

But what starts out as a quest for redemption, evolves into something more and soon young guardian, Raef, is forced to reveal the truth to Eila. As hidden secrets about their warring families come to light, Eila begins to realize that she may be their best shot at survival, even if it means following in her grandmother’s fearless footsteps to save her killer bodyguard. 


We walked for a couple of minutes, and the pounding music faded to mere background tunes, gently complementing the fires that glowed softer with distance. We found a spot by the dunes near a large home that faced the water. The stretch of beach was probably private, considering the row of huge houses that sat among the tall grass, but I figured the owners would not care as long as we left Fergie and her musical crew farther down the beach. 
Raef shook out the blanket and I helped smooth it wide, then sat down and slowly zipped off my boots so I could stick my toes in the cold sand. Raef sat down next to me and looked up at the stars. 
He was right. 
Away from the blaze of the fires, the stars were all the more brilliant.  The massive moon continued to climb higher, causing the luminous pathway on the water to slowly stretch toward the horizon.  I just smiled at the good fortune that granted me a chance to live here. 
I glanced over at Raef and caught him looking at me. “Yes?” I asked, an odd combination of unease and desire flashing through my veins.
“I was just wondering what you were thinking about.”
“I was thinking how amazing this view is, and how unbelievable it is that I get to enjoy it because I live here,” I said, my nerves slowly calming. “It’s just incredible. I’m waiting to wake from this dream.” 
I looked back at the stars and then leaned back onto the blanket so I could enjoy the broad view of space,  “Perhaps I’m not really here. Maybe I’m in a coma somewhere and this is just my brain misfiring. I think that is more plausible, especially the way my luck normally runs.” 
He leaned down next to me, propping himself on one elbow as he looked at me. “You are not in a coma.” 
“Oh yeah? How do you know? Maybe you’re in a coma too. Maybe we had some tragic accident and now we’re both carrots in a hospital bed somewhere.”  
He reached over to my arm and pinched me. I let out a yelp. “What the heck?”
“See? Not vegetables,” he said with a smile, then looked a bit more serious. “This is real. This is your life now.”
I looked at him, debating how to phrase what I was about to say, fearing his answer as well. “And your life? Is this your life as well, or is this temporary?”
He rolled over on his back to study the sky with me, “I think this is my life now as well. Kian and I are not planning on leaving anytime soon.” 
I nearly sighed audibly in relief, but managed to control myself. We lay there, staring at the stars and watching the moonrise. Finally he spoke up, “You know, as a true native, you should know your constellations.”
I didn’t follow. “Why is that?”
“Well, Cape Cod is an ocean-going community. Your own grandparents were a big part of that as well. And, as such, knowing how to navigate by the heavens is part of being a native.”
“And I take it, as a brilliant boat-dweller, you know such things?”
“Heck yeah. Care to learn?”
“Go for it, but be forewarned – I am a slow study.”
“Then I guess it is a good thing we don’t have school tomorrow,” he laughed.  
For the next hour, Raef explained the stars and the pictures they made in the sky. He told me about the stories of the gods they represented, and how to find your way based on the characters that rose in the universe nightly. I was pleased when I was able to find Sirius with his help.
“I am a true Cape Codder,” I said proudly, thanks to my limited, but accurate constellation identification. He was silent for a moment as he lay next to me and I turned to him. 
He looked at me, eye to eye for a moment, then slowly sat up. “A true Cape Codder needs a badge of belonging,” he said as he looked back at me lying on the faded blanket. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a little velvet bag. 
Intrigued, I sat up next to him and pulled my chilled feet under me. He reached out and took my hand, unfurling my fingers as he placed the soft bag in my palm.
“What’s this?” I asked, my heart pounding.
“A gift that says you belong to this area,” said Raef, watching me. 
I swallowed and slowly untied the black string, tipping the bag upside down into my other hand. A beautiful silver bangle bracelet with a glistening ball in the center slid out into my hand. The ball had a thousand little facets cut into it, making it pulse with moonlight.
“It’s . . . beautiful,” I said, breathless and stunned. 
He picked it up and untwisted the ball, causing the bracelet to spring open slightly. He took my other arm and slid the bracelet onto my wrist, then tightened the ball down again to link the hoop together. He turned it slightly so the ball faced the moon, twinkling.
“This is made here. Most locals have one and it’s distinctive to Cape Cod. I wanted you to have one, so that whenever you felt like you didn’t belong, you could look at it and remember that someone says differently.”
I sat there, turning my wrist slightly, watching it shine like the moonlit path on the water. I looked up at Raef, who was watching me with a serious look on his face that I found unsettling and impossible to read.
“Thank you,” I said, trying to understand what this gift from him meant. Was it just a gift of friendship, or something more? 
I was about to ask where I stood with him, when the jovial voice of Jesse broke our silence. 
“Well HELLO. What are you two doing way out here. In the dark. ALL ALONE,” asked Jesse, a huge smile on his face, directed at me. I may just murder him if he embarrassed me. All I could think of was the way he had watched me check out Raef our first day of school.
Raef got to his feet. He reached down and took my hand, pulling me to mine. “Ana has the music a bit too deafening for my taste,” said Raef with a brief smile.
“Plus we wanted to see the stars better,” I blurted out. Jesse gave me a look that screamed he didn’t believe I had been stargazing. As if to prove I wasn’t lying, I pointed skyward without looking up. “Cepheus. Right above us.”
“Sure,” said Jesse, the smile still on his face. He turned to Raef, “Since you’re out here, can you help me grab a few cases of beer from my house?”
Raef looked at me, as if seeking permission, and Jesse’s smile got even more irritatingly huge. “Go ahead. I’ll just hang out here and wait for you,” I said, sliding Jesse a look of death. 
“You sure?” asked Raef.
“Yeah,” I said, nodding toward the house. Raef’s fingertips gently touched mine, but so surreptitiously that Jesse didn’t see. The sensation, so simple, gave me a rush of heat. 

I have been a journalist for 15 years and serve on the Board of Directors for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I also drive a 16-ton school bus because I am ENTIRELY NUTS.

In addition to working jobs that should come with a warning label , I hold a BA in Psychos (Forensic Psych), torment the tourists about Jaws, and occasionally jump from the Town Neck bridge in an attempt to reclaim my youth.

I live on Cape Cod with two smallish humans who apparently are my kids, my fishing-obsessed husband, two canines (adept at both flatulence and snoring), and a cage-defiant lovebird that sleeps in a miniature tent. Nope - that's not a type-o. The bird is quite the indoor camper.