Archive: February 23, 2020

💋A PATB Prequel?

Hey babes,

This week, I thought I’d try something new. I was thinking we could do some character prequels for The Paranormal Academy For Troubled Boys Serial. But… I wasn’t sure where to start. I thought since we’re in the Demon Arm Saga of everything, we might focus on either Wylie or Dorian. For Wylie, I want to start where he meets Beck, how they kinda drift towards each other when Wylie starts school after placed in the detention home. Then go into how Beck eventually gets Wylie interested in the gang because of Beck’s personal problems at home as he tries to escape a really oppressive/abusive home life. For Dorian story, I wanted to go into how he had his accident, all set within his very difficult home life of being a sorcerer expected to live up to a family name while he just wants to be a normal teen. When he rebels, and seeks hope with Alastor, that’s really when it all goes to shit for Dorian, and he ends up at the Academy a little after, where, three years later, Wylie shows up. So Wylie’s story would be much more recent to events, while Dorian’s story is a more detailed account of his power origin story.

So because I’m too close to this, I thought I’d leave it up to the fans to decide which story they would rather read. I’ll probably end up writing both eventually, but for now I just want to do one. This prequel will be 100% free, btw! So I’ve made a poll where people can click which character story they would rather read first as a prequel. Check it out and let me know what you think.

So I am in the middle of writing episode #3 of PATB serial, and it’s kind of exciting because we get a really good inside look at Academy life for the shifters. I love being able to expand on the world so much more this time around, and really start fleshing out the characters and their experiences. Wylie and Dorian are also going to have more moments as they try to figure out if what’s sparking between them is more important than the warnings the Academy Masters keep giving them. I get to start on one such scene on Monday, and I’m excited about that. <3

What I’m realizing as of late, is just how hard it is to juggle writing and having a life – still! I thought feeling better would make it easier. I made a point to take the weekend off, and that’s more of a joke to me in a lot of ways because I did so much work this weekend! I have so much work that I didn’t finish this weekend! @[email protected] But I did make a point to go outside both days before coming home and getting more work done. I would like to be able to pace these sorts of things during the rest of the week so I could actually have a weekend off, but that might be like trying to bend the reality of time in some ways. The truth is, there’s just a lot to do.

I wanted to let you guys know that I have been reading all the comments about what your fan fav taboo subjects are, and I am definitely looking at writing a new episode of Demon Bonded – well, at least fleshing out an episode – for March. I don’t want over promise anything right now. My main priority is the PATB serial, and I do want to get one out a month. But I know the fans of Demon Bonded have been ravenous for more, and me being sick and unable to write the last year has made the anticipation for the next episode certainly much worse. So I want to make sure I get some word count in there for you guys.

Also, I seriously have to get to emails and comments tonight. I have been ignoring my inbox outside of any website issues the last… 2 weeks? 3? It’s another thing I need to figure out how to juggle and squeeze into my day in a more effective way. I got so many ARC readers responding and sharing their reviews—you peeps are awesome and I loved every one!

I’m really not good at task switching. I definitely can’t multitask at all. My brain just will not. So I gotta figure something out because this stuff doesn’t get easier the more I write – if anything it gets more difficult as I put all my attention into writing, and fail to be able to balance with the rest of the world. But I’m enjoying my weekend off, of sorts, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to have some time to think about how I’m just always rushing toward a goal instead of planning things better. Doing things doesn’t have much point if you don’t enjoy the journey. I can always get something done, but I won’t remember it as being worthwhile if I didn’t enjoy the process. It’s important. I should treat it as important as it is.

I hope you guys are having a great weekend; the weather here has been amazing. Well, as long as we don’t think of it is terrible climate change creeping up on us. @[email protected] I’m trying to keep the real world out of my newsletters as much as possible, because I need the escape I’m pretty sure just as much as we all do. So for today, I’m focusing on the wonderful weather and the nice, comforting cup of decaf coffee I’m drinking. Happy reading, and don’t forget to vote for your fav prequel idea!

💥Wow, I really wasn’t expecting that! (plus coffee obsessions)

Hey peeps,

I had ideas planned for this newsletter but I just… well, I got sick. I am feeling ragged, run out, just doing too much. I had hoped that I would have recovered by now, but my body is telling me very persistently to rest, and I am foolishly fighting it even now. (Btw, if you emailed me, I will get to you. Just being slow atm.)

So maybe we can do some catch up? I know it’s been a while. I’ve been pushing the books hard—speaking of which, the latest PATB Serial book hit #1 in New Releases for LGBT Fantasy Fiction!

Yay! If you missed it, it’s out and gorgeous. We finally catch up with Dorian, who has spent the last 3 years at the Academy trying to get his shit together, only to fall madly head over heels (in as resistant a fashion as possible) with Wylie-fucking-Doe and his hissing inner dragon. Check it if you missed it. It’s in KU for you kindle unlimited readers.

So yeah, there’s that (yay!) Uh, I threw together a cover for the next episode but it’s a draft atm because—guess what? I decided the episodes needed title names and not just numbers. I was kinda super lazy doing the bare minimum there and realized it was a disservice to anyone who wanted to try the books out and had no clue about anything inside. So now, titles! (Once I can figure out how to arrange all the elements so it doesn’t look like I just crammed a ton more words in there. @[email protected] These are some rather busy covers already…)

Fox and Forest rocking their own cover <3

I’m not doing a preorder yet. This month has kinda proved to me that I’m ignoring my limits, and I need to figure something out with how to go forward. It might be that I plan to release a book every 6 weeks instead of every 4, or maybe even a book every 9 weeks—I don’t know yet. All I know is that I’m struggling with my current pace and I might have to change things up as I go along. There were definitely perks to having a preorder with a deadline. When the days started creeping up and I saw the deadline looming, I got shit done. 10 days and bam! Book! But there were other issues, like me totally working beyond my limits to make that deadline. I’m a very all or nothing person and it can be pretty self destructive if I’m not careful. For example…

Let me tell you about my short love affair with coffee <3

So, for the last two weeks coming up to when I got this book published, I did some big changes. One of those big changes was removing all sweeteners from my diet. Even the good, healthy, natural ones. I cut them all out because I suspected (and was unfortunately right) that they were setting off my immune system and triggering the autoimmune. Removing them was great. I could focus again, I could write, everything was flowing and I felt so good. But there was the drawback of a lot of the things I enjoyed had some sort of sweetener in it.

My morning routine would be to wake up and eat a Questbar before sitting down to write. Easy, simple, uncomplicated. But when I saw even stevia and erythritol were making me jittery and stealing my focus, suddenly I had to figure out what breakfast was without feeling, well, bereft of my treat, I guess. I’m a sugar addict. It was my comfort as a small child and I have been seeking some sort of sugary flavor my entire life. Going cold turkey was really the only way I could make this work given my nature, so I chose a different addiction to seek out (of course I did—don’t give me that look XD) and it was coffee.

I was crushing hard on coffee this month. I started with instant—you know, the bare minimum—but as I felt like I was losing without having that sweet flavor, I started really throwing myself into the hobby of coffee. I got a mini 4-cup French press, got a milk frother thingy that mixes everything up, even some protein powder and powdered goat’s milk to throw in there in the morning. It’s been good, really good. Except at some point, I forgot that my adrenals are still iffy, and the caffeine I was drinking every day was squeezing the life out of the poor little buggers, and yeah, I crashed, hard. Funnily enough, shortly after I finished the book—like, by days. It was like my body was only allowed to break once I was done; I’m really a monster to myself like that. @[email protected]

I realized I must have been ignoring the signs that I was working so hard, masking it by reaching for caffeine and just pushing past my limits. Not good. So I have discovered decaf—which is fucking awesome, btw! I can now have coffee whenever I want while also going back on my adrenal meds for support until I get myself back to healthy. I’m still off sweeteners, which is also great. There’s a lot of things I’m probably not going to be able to have again, if I’m real about it, but I guess time will tell. I’m excited to have stopped my immune responses so well that now I can notice when I screw up and eat something wrong and get sick, instead of being sick constantly and not knowing why.

I have been so excited to be able to write again, to just be in the flow of it all, that I did that thing I tend to do, which is kick my own ass going after a goal. I have to reevaluate some things, see if I can pace myself better to avoid what happened last time, etc. I think I don’t want to actually put the preorder up until the book is 100% written like I did with episode #1, giving me a chance to do the publishing side of things during that week before it goes live. I guess we’ll see. I’m feeling a bit like a long distance runner; I need to plan everything so differently from my old mentality of just sprinting like mad at a goal. It’s a different kind of strategy that I’m still learning—one I’m sure that will be super worth learning once I do.

Hope you’re all having a great weak—and don’t miss the reads below. There are some awesome books there this week, including Wendy’s new take on the Alpha/Omega trope that people are loving like mad!

MM, LGBTQ and RH Reads

Trust No Alpha

It’s a world gone mad. The Alphas are out of control.

When you discover you’re not who you thought you were, the nightmare begins.

KRIS

At age eighteen, life as he knows it is over for Kris. A secret to his nature he was not aware of has been revealed.

Now, kept as a prisoner in a locked room in the mansion of his wealthy father, Kris is at the mercy of Alpha laws and Alpha domination.

Things take a turn for the worse when his own litter mate threatens him, and his father starts behaving strangely around him.

Escape is his only hope. But where can he go in a world that allows him no rights?

THORNE

Marked as a dangerous Alpha, and living a secluded life alone and unloved, Thorne still grieves for the mate whose death he feels responsible for. Years have passed, and he refuses to even try to function in normal society.

One day he discovers a young man on his property, disheveled, desperate, and scared. He acts like a runaway Omega, but he doesn’t smell like one.

What is this boy? And why does Thorne feel an immediate need to protect him? To bond him? To make him his?

A non-shifter, Omegaverse love story of rescue, first time, fertility issues and an HEA. Standalone read. 65,500 words. (While Omegas are birth-fathers in this universe, there is no on-page mpreg in this book.)

 

Cat Escort

A night of passion with a Cat Shifter escort becomes everything for a man with poor self-esteem.

To mend his broken heart, Seth purchases a date with a Cat Shifter Escort. The sex was so amazing, it let him forget his pain. Seth never expected to see him again.

Nao couldn’t forget the client who’d cried in his arms, so destroyed from love gone wrong. He wanted nothing more than to help the beautiful, broken man.

Their night was supposed to be a onetime thing, but six months later, everything changed when they met again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Vampire’s Honor

Years ago, the true king of the vampires sacrificed his throne and his fated love for the common good. But it wasn’t enough…

Rune knows the Adini Treasure is real, and he wants it. With the treasure, he’ll have the power to crush his enemy—the Adi ’el Lumi—forever.

Isaac longs for love but is sick of waiting for it. When he witnesses the murder of a strange vampire with an even stranger map, he isn’t sure what he’s found. But he isn’t letting it go. Not even for the swoon-worthy vampire prince who comes to claim it.

When a witch’s calling card leads Rune to a snarky vampire with secrets and a sassy human with a treasure map, he takes them on a perilous hunt into the forgotten vampire cities. His worst fears and darkest desires await him. With everything at stake, he’ll have only one chance to either fulfill his destiny… or save Isaac, his fated love.

Don’t miss the exciting, heartwarming conclusion to the Ellowyn Found trilogy!

 

 

Fake it ’til You Make Out

Heath
It’s a classic story: Boy meets girl, girl breaks boy’s heart, boy pretends to be gay to get back at girl, girl outs boy to everyone on Facebook…

Okay, maybe it’s not that classic. But it’s what happened to me.

When I bump into my cheating ex and catch sight of the moon-sized rock on her finger, there’s only one option to save face: pretend to be dating my gay best friend, Declan.

And when she outs me on Facebook and everyone I know sees it, there’s still only one option: keep pretending to be dating Declan.

And when Declan and I have to kiss to keep up the ruse and it turns out there’s actually a spark between us (more like a blazing inferno, if truth be told) there’s once again only one option…

Warning: this book is not appropriate for anyone who doesn’t like laughing, anyone who doesn’t like dogs, or anyone who doesn’t like hot men having a lot of sex…with each other.

 

 

Don’t Call Me Kid

Falling in love with your brother’s boyfriend and pining over him for a decade? It can’t get any more complicated than that!

Van found the man of his dreams on his fifteenth birthday. And promptly lost him on the same day when he realized Parker was dating his older brother, Taylor.

Ten years later, Van still nurses his unrequited love, but Parker and Taylor are no longer together. Too bad Parker only sees Van as an inexperienced kid, or a friend at best.

If Van plays his cards right, he might get a chance to tell Parker how he feels. With their complicated histories and Taylor wanting his husband back, their situation is as difficult as they come. Will Van finally get his man, or will he have to give up his teenage fantasies once and for all?

Don’t Call Me Kid is the first novella in the Just Don’t contemporary gay romance serial. If you like your romances on the angsty side and with a touch of complicated family dynamics, then this first book will have you craving for more in no time.

 

 

Crimson: Secrets and Lies of a Living Vampire

An isolated mountain estate. A hidden lab. A dark secret that threatens the entire vampire race.

When vampire Emilie takes a new nanny job at the remote mountain home of Dr. Owen Bennett, the last thing she expects is to be thrown head-first into a dangerous mystery.

After spending the last hundred years believing she was alone in the world, the undeniable chemistry with handsome and eccentric Owen⎯who she suspects may also be a vampire⎯promises a future she never thought possible.

But…things at the Bennett house just don’t add up.

Owen’s ex-wife has seemingly vanished, he refuses to divulge who he works for, and he keeps his research under lock and key.

Determined to uncover the truth, Emilie discovers a secret that holds severe repercussions for all her kind.

When dark forces intervene, Emilie is forced to make an unthinkable choice – between newfound love or what she knows to be right.

 

💘The Latest PATB Book Is Out (and proud 💕)

It’s live!!!

Super quick email today. Just wanted to let you know that episode #2 of PATB Serial just went live, so for those who preordered, you can crack it open now, and anyone waiting for KU, it’s in there full of suspense, shifters, and a crazy, explosive love now that Wylie gets his first glimpse of Dorian.

Also, on a side note, Theodore has become my temperamental badass and I’m loving him for it. 😉

image link to PATB #2 ebook on Amazon

A spark of love might burn them all…

I’ll have a proper newsletter this weekend. Got a mini cover reveal, among other things–there are so many awesome books that dropped this week I need to share. I feel like I’m still playing catch up with everything… Actually, I feel like I’m kicking my own ass with this write a book a month pace, and I might have to slow the fuck down. I just wanted to let you all know that the book is actually out there (and I’m still alive. @[email protected])

Hope you’re all doing well! ^.^ I’m still completely anti Valentine’s Day. It’s a great day for self love, not going to any kind of restaurant (seriously, restaurants are the worst on Valentine’s Day,) and remembering that society can suck their expectations of what love is. XD I’m gonna go curl up with a shifter (nope, that’s a cat >_>) and wait this day out. Possibly with hot cocoa. 😉

💜Sneak Peek of Episode #2 of PATB

Hey peeps,

So I’m flying through getting the final draft of episode #2 of the PATB serial ready for Valentine’s Day. Aka, you guys are getting a sneak peek!!! (and I don’t have to write a newsletter XD)

I thought I’d introduce you all to one of the new villains. Elie has quickly become a fav of mine—likely because he’s fucked in the head (always so fun. XD) This is the first inside look into skinners in the series, they’re mentality, interactions and goals. You can read the excerpt below. ^^

I’m starting a new reference area for the PATB serial, stuff that will be filled out as I go along and can snag some spare time. You can find it here! Wylie’s bio page is filled out so far, and I’m planning on doing everyone’s by the time it’s all done. Right now you can find some fun facts, and more digestible facts of the magic, tech, and lore stuff.

I eventually want to get some PATB focused quizzes up—stuff like, which character is your best match? Or what type of paranormal would you be? That fun kind of stuff. But for now, I’m off to edit! Hope you’re all having a great weekend. <3

Excerpt from Scene 5 of Episode #2 of PATB Serial:

“Evelyn, run. Just fucking run,” Elie gasped, his chest heaving as he watched his sister pull herself up from her sprawl on the ground. Blood was thick, smeared down here face where it had smashed against the ground unprotected. Her eyes were focused though—Evelyn never wavered even when the world was falling down around them. It had a lot to do with the drugs she took before every hunt, a mixture of potions made to keep her from feeling panic or pain. Normally he would have found his sister’s steady presence reassuring, but she stank of death. It was a heavy perfume in the air, one that appeared since he watched Edsel fall to the crimson haired killer.

“Don’t be a fool, Elie. I’m not going to leave you here to die.” Evelyn wiped the back of her sleeve carelessly across her face to sop up the blood and stumbled forward, her left leg dragging at her side where the knee refused to hold her up. “Just calm down, stop your fucking freak out, and relax your muscles enough for me to get you out of this trap.”

Elie’s leg had grown stiff in the snare, but he still managed to flinch away once his sister reached him, her hand bloody with bits of bird sticking to it. It had happened almost immediately. The moment his foot had stepped down into the magic infused loops of wire, three points of enchanted tipped blades had slashed into his leg, numbing the muscles and nerve ending while also filling him with the illusion of intense pain. A sadistic trap, Elie’s body was flooded with adrenaline and his mind overloaded with the horrendous sensations of his flesh being ripped from his bones, his jerking movement of escape only pulling the wires in tighter and trapping him more complete.

The illusion left him wanting to scream in agony, but every time Elie looked at his leg, he could see it was intact. The flesh would only entropy if he was caught too long and the wires were pulled tight enough to cut off his circulation. Not that it mattered. Elie already knew he’d be dead long before that process could start.

“You’ve tangled this completely around you,” Evelyn hissed in frustration, blood threatening to drip past her eyebrow and into her eye. “Fuck. All you had to do was sit still!”

Elie watched his sister’s nimble, gut splattered fingers dance around the wire encasing his leg. “Do you feel it?” Elie asked shakily, his teeth refusing to stop chattering. He might have been cold, but Elie had long stopped feeling the high winds blowing at their altitude that October evening. Shock was setting in, his body already at its limit to this torturous trap.

“What, the wounds?” Evelyn shook her head sharply. “If you were trained enough, you could drink the potions too. But right now it would only make you high and even more useless.”

“No…” Elie avoided his sister’s sharp gaze. “Do you feel it when all your familiars are killed?”

Evelyn growled under her breath and gritted her teeth. “You are the worst. Stop talking and focus on holding still.”

Elie nodded and let his head fall back on the raised edge of the roof that marked the end of the building. “I’m sorry I’m useless.”

“Me too.” Grunting, Evelyn held her hands over his leg and Elie’s gaze darted down as he watched his sister weave her spell into the air and his flesh.

“I’m sorry I got him killed…”

“Shut up! Your words are a curse to us all.” Snarling, Evelyn slashed her arm forward, and a blade tore through Elie’s pant leg. She pulled the material down, growling the entire time. “I’ll take the fucking leg if I have to. Shut up and let me work!”

Elie’s impulsive retort froze on his lips when Evelyn’s magic washed over him and his body was forced into a temporary paralysis. The snare could only be released if he didn’t move long enough to prevent the wires from pulling tighter and tighter. But Elie hadn’t been able to focus past the pain to do the spell, hadn’t been able to do anything but cover his screams when the snare bit into his leg when he was caught.

Elie’s thoughts only felt more frantic as his opened eyes stared out into the dark around them. He couldn’t hear their hunter, but he knew he was still out there. A skinner, obviously. No basic sorcerer or hunter had skills like the monster lurking out there. He felt like a monster; every time Elie caught a glimpse of the crimson haired warrior, something in his brutality spoke of animal, monster, demon. The skinner must have been hunting for years, soaked in the blood of his kills until he didn’t know what it was to be human.

Elie shuddered internally, wishing he could close his eyes as his mind filled with visions of the monsters that came for him whenever the dark was complete. So many dead, generations of blood and power carved into him and ingrained in his mind from every dark story his parents taught him from the moment he could listen. But the monster out there wasn’t from his mind, not some far away fairytale or ghostly visage from a past kill. No, this was Elie’s worst nightmare come to life, a man powerful enough to kill the strongest person he knew—his brother, Edsel—and suck the very life from him.

“Finally!” Evelyn hissed as she pulled the broken wire from Elie’s leg, her fingers getting pinched from the sharp edge and releasing droplets of blood to glitter in the low light. “Come on. Get to your feet.”

The moment Evelyn released him from the spell, Elie grabbed her arm, his eyes wide with fear. “He’s an energy eater, Evelyn. He drinks…”

“Stop it with your fucking nonsense.” Evelyn pulled his hand roughly off her arm and glared into her younger brother’s eyes. “Get the fuck out of here, Elie. Don’t make me tell you again.”

Elie shook his head, his lips pursed in stubborn refusal even as he saw the rage sparking in his sister’s eyes. “He’s dead. There’s no point in staying. They’re all dead and I don’t want you dead too!” Elie’s plea was wasted; he could see the resolve on Evelyn’s face, her intimidating makeup and streaked blood making her look more like the monster out in the dark than the girl she was.

“You’re a fool if you think he’ll stop,” Evelyn said tightly. “You’re too inexperienced, Elie. You don’t understand how we operate.”

Elie’s shoulders sagged. Maybe that was true. His parents had only begrudgingly started to train him before they were killed on a hunt gone wrong—his first hunt. His parents had treated him differently from Edsel and Evelyn, his mind so fragile to them… Deranged.

Elie blinked, his gaze focusing on Evelyn’s angry expression. “Don’t let him get your blood. He will suck the life from you.”

“Spare me your demented visions,” Evelyn snapped as she pulled the chameleon coat up from where she had folded it on the ground. “You should have stayed in college.”

“Stayed with the weak, soft things that are hunted, yeah?” Elie forced out, his teeth chattering as he struggled to move his leg. “Things you hunt. Kill. Murder. Subhumans to the slaughter. No, college was an insult.” Blood was pouring down the limb from where the wires had cut deep, but he simply wrapped it in a bandage that congealed the wound, then gave some of the material to Evelyn, who snarled when he made an attempt to touch her.

“Better an insult than to get your parents killed.”

She muttered it under her breath but Elie heard, his eyes widening minutely. He nodded, for it was true. His parents should have left him in college. Deranged. Their choice term for him behind his back. But at college he was clever, innovative, useful, even if it was only to a bunch of powerless subhumans. “A god among swine,” Elie whispered bitterly, “Or fool of the slaughter?”

“Save your mad ramblings for someone who gives a fuck,” Evelyn growled and pushed up from the ground.

Elie looked away when Evelyn approached their fallen brother and ruthlessly went through his pockets, stripping anything of use. He wrinkled his nose, certain he could smell the rot already sinking in, or perhaps seeping out. Edsel was full of such ugliness, such disgusting filth that reached levels Elie couldn’t bare to think without a part of his brain screaming in protest. He grasped his head, fingers digging into his scalp as he listened to his sister clean any magical remnants that could be used to trace back to them from Edsel’s body.

Edsel had forced the family business on him. Once their parents had died, fallen to their fragile son’s mistake in battle, Evelyn had demanded he be sent away, exiled to another type of life for softer, weaker creatures. Edsel had refused; Elie was already marked as a Briargrave. He had dragged Elie with him everywhere, forcing him to learn the art of hunting, catching and slaughter no matter his protests or poor skills. His older brother didn’t care if Elie vomited during every kill; he would see all his siblings skinners to ensure their family legacy lived on.

His sister adapted to Edsel’s leadership, but that was to be expected. Evelyn was always so detail oriented, so methodical. Always full of plans she would break down in ways that would be seen through to the very end every time. Product was always caught. Product always got to where it needed to go. Payment was always received. Evelyn was the brains behind the business, the will to insure that they were more than just a family of shifter hunters, but that they profited.

Elie’s gaze wandered, daring to dart to where Edsel’s corpse stretched, blood and semen cleaned away with spells now, his tattoos burning away under Evelyn’s spells as she worked. Even that night while his sister’s illusions dazzled and confused the sorcerer hunting them, Evelyn had spent most of her time erasing their tracks and setting up protection. The sharp eyed skinner with red hair had yet to strike a blow against his sister, and Elie felt bursting with pride just thinking of it. Evelyn never ran, never hesitated, but set trap after trap while erasing their presence from the world around them. She even used his designs; while Edsel mocked Elie’s adjustments to their legacy weapons, his sister had seen the value of his innovations enough to take them into battle.

Elie managed to get enough sensation in his leg to stand when Evelyn stalked over to him and grabbed him roughly by the jacket. “Listen to me,” Evelyn hissed as she pulled his coat from him and forced Elie’s hand into Edsel’s chameleon skinned coat. Elie tried to flinch away but Evelyn wouldn’t let him, grabbing his other arm to push it into the jacket’s empty sleeve. “Do not look back, Elie. Just walk the fuck away and don’t look back. You aren’t strong enough to win—you will never be strong enough to take on this lifestyle. Do you understand me!” Evelyn demanded when Elie continued to cower, refusing to meet her eyes. “You have always been clever, Elie, the smartest of us three. Use your brain! Walk the fuck away from all this! Tonight. Forever!”

Deranged. It was always the same. None of them accepted him.

Elie licked dry lips, his hand coming up to grasp at his hair. “I-I… Evelyn, I can’t. With Edsel dead, I’m the last male heir. I have to take over—”

“Don’t you lie to me, Elie Briargrave!” Evelyn screamed and wrenched him by the lapels of the chameleon scaled jacket, forcing him to meet her blazing eyes. “You wanted him dead! You wanted him dead, and now he is! You wanted mother and father dead, and you said it, and they’re gone! And when you look at me…” Evelyn glared at him, her eyes burning into his. “I know what you’re thinking, Elie. It’s all over your stupid, crazy face!”

Elie stared back at her silently, his chest heaving for air. He couldn’t deny it. He wanted Edsel dead. He hated him, and he wanted him dead, and had said it aloud only a day ago, daring any wayward spirit to hear it and comply. Looking at Evelyn, the rage twisted on her face smeared in black makeup, he couldn’t say that he didn’t want her dead either. In her face he saw every one, every spirit carved into her flesh and tied to her soul forever. Tied to him…

Elie tore his gaze away from the death in Evelyn’s eyes. “I would never say it,” he whispered. “Not you, Ev. I would never curse you like I did them.”

“You didn’t curse them, you idiot!” Evelyn shouted and pushed him back with a disgusted look on her face. “You don’t have the ability to will magic, Elie. You’re just fucking crazy.”

Deranged… Too fragile for our legacy of slaughter… A curse on the bloodline… Cursed.

“Still,” Elie tried, his voice pitched softly to avoid enraging his sister further. “I would never wish you dead. You… It’s different.” When the voices came—when the faces swarmed his vision, haunting him for being trapped in the flesh of the Briargraves—Elie never listened to the ones who wanted Evelyn dead. They didn’t know her. They didn’t know that she was good inside. She cared. “You… you came to save me.”

“You fucking fool.” Evelyn swung before Elie could react, and he screeched and fell backwards as colors burst behind his eyes and pain exploded through his face. He grabbed his cheek with two hands and gaped up at his sister, blinking dumbly from where he ended up sprawled on the concrete. “Did that hurt?” Evelyn spat as she stepped over him and glared down. “Dying is going to hurt a fuck ton more. Run, Elie. Run the fuck away and let this life go. You were never one of us.”

But he was! He had the mark, had it all carved into his flesh before he could even walk or speak or understand the monsters waiting for him in the dark…

Elie’s eyes widened when a grimace of pain crossed Evelyn’s face. “You’re hurt!” He scrambled up, seeing for the first time the thick layer of blood sticky on her leather boot where a sword had slashed deep. Her blood was only in place because of the crisscross of magically enhanced bandages Evelyn had placed along the artery. “Shit, Ev. If that bandage goes…”

“Run! Fucking run, you dumb, weak, useless little nuisance!” Pelting him with her familiar, childhood curses, Evelyn dragged Elie up by the arm and set him on his feet. Before he could flinch back, she pulled a dagger free, slashed the blade across her palm, and smeared her fresh blood into the dark green scales of the chameleon coat. The blood soaked in and the magic activated, the scales growing clear and bending light until all that could be seen of Elie standing there was his face and hands not covered by the shifter pelt. Evelyn raised her hand to paint Elie’s face with blood to hide him completely. She froze, her body went rigid, and she exhaled in a sharp gasp.

“Ev?” Elie stared at his sister, a scream clawing at his throat when she didn’t breathe again, her eyes bulging and body motionless. “Evelyn!” He grabbed her hand, trying to get her to respond, only to cry out in alarm when his hand grew wet with her blood. Elie dropped her like she burned to the touch, and went to wipe the fluid from his fingers, only to freeze when breath broke free from his sister in a long, soft wheeze.

“You can’t win.” Evelyn’s words were like dry paper on her unmoving lips as she struggled to speak. “He’s an old one… using ancient blood magic… There is no winning.”

Thud. At the noise behind him, Elie whirled, a blade jumping into his hands that he held up defensively. He squinted his eyes, peering at the far side of the barrier shrouded in shadows where a raven fluttered wildly on its side, streaking blood along the rooftop as it tried to get to its feet. While Elie watched, the bird began to shrink. Its chest caved in, growing thinner and thinner, and feathers fell away and disintegrated like ash. Thud. Elie’s gaze dart to the right when another of Evelyn’s familiars dropped down from the dark sky and collapsed, its beak open wide in a death scream it never released. Its body shuddered and collapsed, the bird’s muscles growing tighter and tighter until they snapped completely and the air, magic, and life force were sucked straight out of the creature.

Thud. Thud! “No,” Elie whimpered when another raven fell, then another, then another. Evelyn’s familiars rained down from the sky and crashed to the rooftop, their feathers flaring into bursts of ash before disintegrating completely. “Evelyn,” he croaked as he turned back, his eyes wide in horror when he found his sister’s chest sunken in, her limbs spindly thin and growing thinner.

“How do I cut the connection?” Elie shouted, but he knew it was too late. Evelyn’s beautiful hair was disintegrating, the golden strands breaking away into a glitter of crushed stars quickly stolen away by the wind.

“Run.” Evelyn’s voice hissed out. “Don’t waste this moment…”

“I didn’t wish it, Evelyn! I didn’t!” Elie insisted, rushing toward his sister, only to stop short when one of her bones snapped. “Oh no… No! I don’t want you to leave,” he pleaded. “Not like this.” Tears welled in Elie’s eyes while he gazed at his sister’s face at it twisted and distorted, her energy being sucked out of her.

Evelyn’s body wrenched, her back arching unnaturally. When her voice wheezed out, it sounded older than dust. “You never should have come home… Be clever and run… Run.”

Deranged. His father’s voice called to him, accusing, damning as Elie fought back tears. He hadn’t wished it. He hadn’t! He never wanted this!

Don’t forget to preorder episode #2 of PATB serial! It releases February 14th where we not only meet villains, but the paranormal patients at the Academy, including Wylie’s soon to be deadly obsession, Dorian Black. ♥