Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Party like it's 1989!

Today is the release day for the VERY LAST book in the Love in the 80s series: ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY (Who has the song earwormed in their brain now? You're welcome.)

“What sort of name is Johnny Slade?” My dorm mate, Amy, is laying with her face buried in her pillow, crying so much I’m fairly sure the mascara stains will never wash out. Glad it’s hers and not mine. Last time this happened, I was pillowless for a week. Not my favorite time of life.

“Then again, I guess he didn’t have much say in what his name was.” It is as compassionate as I can get. I’m trying to study. Trying being the operative word. I love Amy. I do. We’ve been dorm mates since freshman year, and we’ve had our share of ups and downs. She can be a little needy, and I’m not the coddling type.

As much as I love living with her, sometimes I’d like to be alone. This is one of those times. I have a massive chem test tomorrow that I’d like not to fail. I know I shouldn’t be mad at Amy, though. It isn’t her fault the dude she dated Saturday night dined her, wooed her, sexed her, and left her.
For the past three days, she’s been stuck by the phone, waiting for it to ring, praying it is Johnny Slade, a man I’ve never met, but I’m fairly sure—according to Amy’s description—has horns.

I wish I could help her. I take that back, I wish she’d help herself by moving on with her life. Seeing as that’s not happening anytime soon, I consider spilling the beans about my little…side business.
It’s for girls just like Amy: girls who have been used, abused, mistreated, or downright screwed over by the men in their life.

Some people might argue that I’m taking advantage of these poor souls in their state of weakness. I say, if they want to pay me, who am I to be their moral compass? I have bills to pay, and the revenge industry pays a hell of a lot more than stripping. And, dare I say it, more fun.

Amy sits up, rivers of black cake on her red cheeks that would make Frank N Furter green with envy. She sniffs a few times and takes a deep breath, “Do you think he lost my number, Nancy?”
Oh my God.

If I had a dollar for every client who called Once Bitten asking the same thing… I wouldn’t need to go to college. I could retire on a beach with a drink and a cabana boy making my every dream come true.

I start to say this to Amy, but I can’t. She’s my friend and I don’t want to hurt her. Yes, I want her to move on; getting lectured from me isn’t the way to go. “I don’t know, Amy. Maybe?”

“You really think so?” Hope. I don’t like hope. Hope kills more than guns, in my opinion.

I smile and pray it doesn’t come off plastic. “It’s possible.”

Amy sits up on her knees straighter, a huge grin reaches from ear to ear.

I wait for it…

I think Bon Jovi sang it best with “Shot Through the Heart.”

It’s like a jolt of understanding hits her right in the guts all at once. Her smile contorts into a Ronald McDonald grimace and, with a sob I’m sure they hear two floors above us, Amy falls face first into her pillow.

I shouldn’t say what is running through my mind. It is tacky and impolite. Truthfully, it does no good now. The deed, as they say, is done. Can’t put the horse back in the barn—as my Grandma Molly said with a warning glare every time she decided to have the “sex” talk with me.

Amy beats me to it. “How could I be so stupid to lose my virginity to him?”

More sobs.

I throw her a tissue box ‘cause I’m nice like that.

“I don’t know, Amy. How could you be so stupid to lose your virginity to him?” Tactful? No. But damn, it is a question I’ve wanted answered since she strolled in here Sunday night with her hair teased and distressed more than normal, her tights ripped, and her shirt pulled way, way off the shoulder even for her. I don’t think he was easy on her.

Amy shakes her head in the pillow. “Dnwo loo lear bet wiered a feing a foudee-foudee…”

Muffled pillow talk isn’t my major. “Sorry, didn’t catch that.”

She lifts her head and glares at me with through squinty, tear filled eyes. “Don’t you ever get tired of being a goody-goody, Nancy? We’re seniors in college. Don’t you ever want to throw the virginity card out the window and have some fun once in a while?”

I don’t mean to laugh. I can’t stop myself. I’m a horrible person. “Yeah, ‘cause you look like you’ve been having fun the last three days.”

Honestly, if that’s what it feels like to get close to someone, to let them get close to me, then no. I’d rather stay where I am in life and do what I do to make ends meet, thank you very much. I get close. I take pictures. I turn to blackmail. I get paid for it. What is wrong with that?

“That’s not what I mean.”

“I go out.” I sigh, this chemistry test won’t study itself.

“You go to the library and study. That isn’t going out.”

If she only knew. Most of those “study” trips were dates with the exes of clients. Revenge is different for everyone. I aim to please.

Amy dries up her tears mighty quickly and looks at me like she pities me. Oh for the love of…
“I feel sorry for you. I really do.”

Funny how coherent she sounds now. “That a fact?”

“It is. You have no life. No prospects of a boyfriend, and yeah, maybe Johnny Slade did break my heart, but at least I put my heart out there. What have you done?”

Gotten paid to serve up revenge. “Nothing as worthwhile as you.” I grab my book and my bag. There is no way I’m getting any studying done here tonight.

“Where are you going?”


“Fine,” she huffs.

“Fine.” I head for the door when our phone rings.

She looks at me.

I look at her.

I know what she’s thinking. She’s wishing for Johnny Slade.

I know what I’m thinking… I hope it isn’t a client. So far I’ve been lucky. She’s never answered a call for me, but I know the time is coming. I need to be honest with her, but now isn’t that time.

She reaches for the phone. I throw my stuff down and dive for it.

It fumbles out of her hands and into mine. “Hello?” I say before she can grab it from my hand.

“Is it Johnny?” she whispers.

I motion for her to be quiet.

“Once Bitten?” the female voice on the other end of the line says.

Amy’s big, black stained eyes plead with me to tell me who it is. I’m pleading with her to let it go. 
“Hi, Dad. It’s good to hear your voice.” I say, causing Amy to run from the room in an outburst of epic proportions.

“Excuse me?” The young woman on the other side of the line doesn’t seem to catch on very quickly.

“Never mind. Please talk quickly. How did you get this number?”

“Friend of a friend.”

Just like they all do. “What can I help you with?”

“My name is Dana Knox.”

I nearly drop the phone. I know her! Holy cow! Dana Knox has been all over People Magazine and Teen Beat for the last six months or so for dating Senator Harris’ son: Beautiful Socialite Tames Wild Political Heir Romeo.  “Chad Harris needs to pay.”

Available on


Kelly Martin loves paranormal books, villainous characters, and the dark... but she can't sleep without a nightlight. She has been married for over ten years and has three rowdy, angelic daughters. When Kelly's not writing, she loves taking picture of abandoned houses, watching horror gamers on YouTube-- even though she's a huge wimp-- and drinking decaf white chocolate mochas. She's a total fangirl, loves the 80s and 90s, and has a sad addiction to Netflix.

If you ever have a question or comment, feel free to email her at ♥ You can follow her writing adventure at

Friday, January 1, 2016

The First 2 chapters of Heartless

My new series, HEARTLESS, comes out Jan. 17th, and I wanted to give you guys the first 2 chapters <3 I absolutely love Gracen's story (and Hart's too... but not for awhile ;) ). If you want to preorder, here is the link. Thank you for reading! ~Kelly

EDITED TO ADD: Heartless is LIVE now eeeeeppp!!

Chapter One

Jessup Hart Blackwell ate my brain every night. He also ate my spleen, my liver, and my kidneys. Basically, anything he could get to, he ate. My tongue was his favorite. He said liars' tongues were the best.

The leather straps with the weird symbols on them held me down—and quite frankly chaffed the heck out of me—while he cut and ripped away at every bit of skin, muscle, and cell I had.

All but one.

My heart.

He said it was because I didn't have one.

For years this happened until I finally told my mom who took me to the doctor who in turn gave me some medicine to induce a dreamless sleep and offered the alternative of placing me in a mental hospital if I didn't want to take it.

I chose medicine.

The nightmares stopped.

Until a week ago when I started my freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Crimson Ridge campus.

Last night, Hart brought a friend.

Chapter Two

@sullyGray: What ya up to today?

I sip my decaf coffee—which totally defeats the purpose of coffee, I understand that, but regular coffee gives me worse migraines than I already get—and stare a hole into my monitor. Yeah, I'm still one of those people who have a monitor. I have a desktop, a keyboard, a computer chair, and the whole mid-2000s thing going on in my bedroom/office. It's the one room in the apartment where I can get away from everything. My place to shut the door, turn up the music, and dance if I want to dance. And I do want to dance. Nineties' music is my specialty, and I use that word very loosely.

My room is my place to shut out the world. To stay awake and not sleep. To hide from my nightmares. To hide from Hart.

Every morning for the past week, it's the same routine. I get up and rub my throat, because it hurts like a mother from all the screaming I apparently do in my sleep. As a side note, this is why I try not to sleep now when Sam's here. Which means I don't get a whole lot of sleep, but what's sleep when you are eighteen? Eighteen year olds don't need sleep. We need parties and friends and boyfriends to not think we are crazy.

Oh, I'm sure Sam does, though, because he's caught me on a few occasions. Screaming. Yelling. Trying to fight Hart. Especially that first night. I had the honor of falling asleep in Sam's lap while we watched a movie downstairs. Then, BAM, Hart was there. I was on the table. The same table I hadn't seen in five years. Hart smiled. Hart cut.

Apparently, I screamed.

Sam woke me up, all big eyed and scared. He poured me some red wine, covered my shoulders with a blanket, and waited for me to talk about it. I drank every bit in about three swigs—incidentally, the best wine ever—and told him it had just been a nightmare.

He knows about the five pills I take every night before bed and four I take in the mornings. He doesn't know what they are for. We've been dating for two years, and I haven't felt the need to tell him about it—okay, I'm scared the heck out. I'm afraid he'll leave me if he finds out. Sam is, well, he's Sam. Samson David Asher. He's perfect and good and all that other stuff I'm not. And up until a week ago, he's been wonderful. Bless him…. He tries. He's at Crimson Ridge on a football scholarship, so you know he's athletic. It's just that I don't want to ruin this. He'll think I'm crazy. His father, the therapist, will know I'm crazy. I've met him one time. That was the one and only time Sam took me over to his house. Plenty for me. He spent all of supper not necessarily breaking his Hippocratic Oath, but damn well coming close. He never used names, but I could tell ole Jane Doe was as batty as a belfry.

And Doctor Asher would laugh.

And Mrs. Asher would laugh.

Sam wouldn't laugh.

I'm so glad Sam didn't laugh.

Didn't mean I wanted him to know about me.

At the time, there wasn't much to tell. It wasn't that I was lying. I took medicine to keep the scary dude from eating me in my dreams every night. That's all. And it worked. It all worked. So I didn't have to tell Sam.

That's why I didn't.

Then we moved in together, which my mother hated even though I told her we weren't sleeping together or even in the same room. Even then in the back of my mind, I was scared that maybe the dreams and Hart would come back.

Looks like I was right.

Yay me.

When I finally roll out of bed, Sam's already gone for the morning. He gets up before God and goes running. Then he goes to the gym. Then class. I don't see how he can keep that up for the rest of the semester, but if that's what he wants to do, who am I to complain? Makes it easier to fake being normal when I'm alone.

I sit and fidget with my coffee in my hands, staring at the screen, waiting for a reply. I need someone to talk to. Someone human. I've talked to Hart all night. He cut me open and the girl… well, she watched.

You try living with the same nightmare. You try being ripped apart every night in your dreams. For the past week, I've had to do it all over again. I thought it was over. I still take my damn medicine and nothing—he's still there. He's still torturing me, and I have no idea why. It's getting to me, though. Seeing those red eyes in the middle of that boyish face. In fact, it's those red eyes that stand out with Hart. Not sure why I named him that either. He's just always been Hart. Like I've always been Gracen, and Sam's always been Sam.

He's always been my tormentor.

If it weren't for the eyes, Hart wouldn't be very bad looking. Tall, tan, toned, big muscles, which he uses to pull my skin off. By the way he tugs and rips, it seems like difficult work. I have the easy job. All I do is lay there naked and scream.

Hart has longish brown hair, which gets coated in blood sometimes. Lovely. I totally blame him for it. It's longer now that he's been gone for a few years. Funny how the mind thinks of weird things like that.

He isn't real, of course. It's just my brain doing what my crazy brain does. Some people dream of rainbows and kittens. Occasionally, they will have a clown or a possessed doll thrown in for flavor. To remind them that their mind is a pretty screwed up place. Sometimes a person will see themselves hanging down from the ceiling and scream while they sleep. Me? I'd give anything to see a freakin' clown in my dreams. All I have, all I've ever had, is Hart.

I'm a lucky duck.

But, despite all that, I try very hard to be normal. Whatever that means. I smile when I figure I should smile and laugh when it seems appropriate to laugh. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty socially messed up. I hate crowds, and if I don't have a backspace, well, I'm screwed. Royally. I like backspaces. The world needs a backspace. Imagine how awesome everything would be with backspaces.

For the most part, except for a few glitches—like the one time I dated Earl Flynn… and my entire sophomore year—I think I've done rather well for myself in the I'm-just-like-you department. It's been exhausting, worrisome, and entirely too stressful, but I did it. And I'd been fairly good at it until this week. Until I'd moved away from home. Moved in with Sam. Drank a little extra wine every night. Sam offered, and who am I to turn it down even if I'm underage. The one bad thing I do in my life. And then I started dreaming of Hart again. My inner demons came out in my dreams. Very deep.
I thought I'd gotten out of the woods. I thought Hart was gone, and everything until the end of time would be hunky dory, all sunshine and roses.

I never should have thought that.


Is Tina ever going to message me back?

Seriously, I have class in like thirty minutes, and I need to finish getting ready. I know she's online. The little green dot tells me that. And yeah, I guess I could wait for her on my phone, but keyboards are so much more convenient. To me anyway.

Tina is from California. I'd think she wouldn't be up at the central time crack of dawn—or seven a.m.—but she is. She's usually up before me. Messaging me. Asking me if I'm okay. If I slept well. Typical friendly Internet banter. A side note: I enjoy typical friendly Internet banter. It's relaxing. There are no expectations. There is no judging. And yeah… backspace city up in here.

Tina, apparently, is one of those up and at 'em folks. I want to be like her someday. She's my happy buddy, which isn't as weird or creepy as it sounds. My therapist actually suggested it once. To keep away the demons, he'd said.

Dr. Sheldon took Hart very figuratively. I don't think he ever thought of him as a person or a thing. Just a crazy hallucination in a crazy girl's mind.

Maybe Dr. Sheldon is right?

My foot will not stop shaking as I scroll down my page, waiting for Tina to pop up. I know she has a life and kids and a family and she's never seen me, but still, I need to talk to her. Talking to her makes me feel less insane.

Talking to a person I've never met in a room, by myself, makes me feel less insane. Yep, I'm totally normal…

The world is weird.

The shaking of my foot causes the blanket, the one I always have draped over my legs when I'm sitting at my desk, to fall toward the floor. Thanks to my lightning quick reflexes, I grab it before it crashes to the floor and pull it back to its upright position.

I'm freezing.

Then again, I'm always freezing. Always. I can't ever remember a time when I felt warm. I totally blame Hart—even if he has nothing to do with it. The doctor, an actual medical doctor, said she thinks it's some kind of hormone imbalance. At eighteen?

I'm falling apart.

Because I needed something else to break me.

I don't care though. Not really. I can just keep a blanket on me and live in a world of denial where everybody is cold, and the hot or warm ones are mutants. It would be totally awesome if I were the normal person in the world and everybody else were the freaks. It would make my life.


@tinaM Mornin' Nothing much. Getting ready to head out. You? Everything okay? Did you sleep well last night?

Loaded question. I place my fingers on the keyboard to type out my usual: "I slept fine. I'm fine. Everything's fine. Peachy. Awesome. Couldn't be better." But I freeze. Those words mean nothing to me. They sound like someone who is moving through the motions but her heart isn't in it. And it's not. Not really. I feel deflated. I thought Hart was gone, but he's back. I thought I'd be able to have an awesome life in Crimson Ridge living on my own with Sam. I thought a lot of things. I thought wrong.

"I'm fine" is what humans say to each other if they are dying. Because we are polite and think our problems are nobody else's problems. They are hurting worse than us—or someone in the world always is—so we shouldn't complain. We shouldn't tell anybody what's bothering us. Not at all. Never. In the scheme of things, it isn't important. We aren't important.

I'm not important.

I should tell Tina I'm fine. This morning, though, for some reason, I don't. My fingers seem to have a mind of their own as they type. Not really. Rough night…

My fingers itch to keep going. To share anything about Hart, the dreams, and the dark-haired girl who joined him last night. It has to mean something, right? It has to be a clue or an omen. I have to be dreaming about these things for a reason. Maybe if I talk about it, tell someone else about it, then I'll be able to figure it out. A new, fresh brain on the matter, because, frankly, I've been thinking about it as long as I can remember. All I can come up with is "Why me?"

And lately, "What the hell are these new visions for?"

The old familiar beating pounds in my temples, and I know it's coming. A migraine. I have them a lot unfortunately. And mainly when I'm trying to think about Hart. Trying to figure him out. I guess I'm trying to figure myself out, which is a whole new level of crazy. I'd make an excellent research project for someone if I told them the truth.

I can't even tell Tina.

Even through my uncooperative fingers, my aching head, my anxious innards, I want to tell Tina some form of the truth, but I can't. I just can't.

But I'm sure it'll be okay. I type back to cover myself. I'm a moron for even saying as much as I did. She'll worry. I'll have to explain. Lots of steps I don't want to do.

I'm a thousand times sure it won't be all right. Might never be all right again. But I say it because I'm supposed to. I'm human after all.

While I wait, the hardship of Internet chatting, my mind wanders. I really do like my apartment. It is nice and cozy. Two stories. The bottom has a '90s-style kitchen with an eat-in area. A sliding door leads to the backyard. When I say backyard, I mean a little spot of land probably no bigger than a postage stamp. But it's fenced in, and as a long as we pay the rent, it's ours.

Ours… my mom doesn't like me living with Sam. She likes Sam. Likes him as much as any guy I've gotten serious with; of course, Sam is the only guy I've ever gotten serious with. More for his determination than mine. That boy seemed to really like me when we first started dating, but now…
Anyway, my mom has enough to deal with, and I sure don't help. Her sister, my Aunt Willow has been, well, she's in a mental hospital. We aren't sure exactly what made her snap, but snap she did. One morning she was fine and then… she wasn't. Mom got a call that her sister was in the emergency room. She'd walked right in front of a car. Suicide they figured, which threw us both for a loop because Aunt Willow had always been full of life. I mean, yeah, she was a little weird at times, but aren't all aunts? Actually, this all happened about a week before I met Sam. Aunt Willow used to live with us. Took care of me when I was little. She helped out because I didn't have a dad. I mean, I'm sure I do somewhere, but I just don't know him. Don't know if I ever want to know him. That's a lie. I would like to meet the man someday. Curiosity and all that.

So, Aunt Willow went insane, I met Sam, and two years later, we moved into our apartment at Crimson Ridge for school. Mama worries about the premarital sex since, apparently, that's how I came into the world and she doesn't want me to make the same mistake, which is an awesome thing to say to your daughter. Basically calling me a mistake. I know she didn't mean it like that, but after all the grief I've put her through in the last eighteen years, I feel like maybe she meant it. She was young. Didn't ask to have a kid. And BAM, there I was. It's not like I was the easiest when I got to be a preteen either with the nightmares and the therapists.

But my mom, if she really knew Sam and me, she'd know that she has nothing to worry about. We've been good. No sex—not that I haven't wanted to. Believe me, I have. But Sam hasn't. He's shot me down every time. It's enough to make a person start to feel bad about themselves. Sometimes, I think that's part of the problem with us. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate that he's a gentleman. Still, it's not easy when it feels like even your boyfriend doesn't like you.

Overdramatic? Yeah, probably. Can't help my feelings, though. I can help them as long as I don't talk about them. Talking is bad. Talking gets you new medicine, and if that doesn't work, I don't even want to think about it.

I wonder how many people in the world pretend to be normal. I wonder what normal would be if everyone stopped trying to be it and actually acted like themselves. I bet the geeks would inherit the world because everyone is at least a closet geek. Who doesn't freak out over TV shows and Internet memes of their one true paring? Or fangirl? I do in the comfort of my own bedroom, staring at my own little computer, in my own little slice of Heaven. I love it here. Sam's room is down the hall. The bathroom separates us. Like I said, he doesn't venture to my end of the world very often.
I love my room. It's white, clean, and cozy. I have dark purple curtains on the windows, shutter style doors on the closet, a starry fairytale lamp next to my bed, a quilt that looks homemade that I bought from the store, and my desk. All the comforts of home without having to hear my mom crying every night.

I should probably call her.

In here, in my little room, I'm safe. Or at least I used to be. I'd shut the door and everything would just go away. Now? Now I have Hart back, invading my dreams, killing me, bringing people to watch (which is extremely creepy, believe it or not). He invades my happy place and makes me feel uneasy in my own room.

I hate it.

I hate him.

I hate myself for not being strong enough to push through the nightmares.

I hate myself for having that little sliver of doubt—that little nagging feeling in the back of my mind—that maybe Hart Blackwell isn't imaginary. That maybe he's real. Or maybe I'm getting as crazy as Aunt Willow.

@tinaM: GRACEN! What's up with you? Did you fall off your chair again or something? Helllllooooo…

So I sort of forgot to answer her. I suppose that happens. Happens to me when I start thinking and my mind wanders. #dangerous

@sullyGray Yeah, sorry. I'm here. Just thinking.

Like I said, thinking is a dangerous thing. And admitting to thinking when trying to act all fine is a dangerous road. I don't like dangerous roads. I'd rather just stay on the straight and narrow. That sounds pretty good to me. Straight. Narrow.

Wait? Which road leads to Hell? Because I'd like to take the other, thanks.

@tinaM Panic attacks again?

Sometimes, I wish I'd never told her about the panic attacks. I've never mentioned Hart, obviously, but on the day the nightmares started coming back—has it really just been a week?—I messaged her. I guess I didn't have my wall up completely yet, and I let it slip that I might possibly be having some anxiety issues. Now, my anxiety issues are all about the crazy dude in my head and not actually me… is it weird that I think of us as two different people? Yes? No? Maybe?

I so don't want to think about that.

The thing is, I did tell Tina about the panic attacks and I regretted it exactly a millisecond after hitting the send button. I'd been careful to put the wall back up ever since.

I should tell Tina the truth, or some sane variation of it. I should give her some reason to stick around, because I do need to talk. Not to a therapist or a shrink, though I'm sure my mother wishes I would visit Dr. Sheldon more regularly. But a friend. An actual friend. Someone I can just talk to. Someone who understands…

Then again, who can understand this?

Part of me is afraid I'm going crazy.

Part of me is scared I'm not, because if I'm not, if what is going on in my nightmares is real, then I've got 99 more problems to deal with.

That's why I can't tell Tina. It's why I can't tell anybody. There is something inside me that will not allow me to have a meaningful conversation with people. It's like part of me is missing. Not just the scary part either. It's like I'm missing some important part of myself that everybody else has and God forgot to put inside me. Like everyone else has a nice awesome soul and I have… Hart.

So not a fair trade.

I sit up straighter and place my hands on the keyboard, ready to tell Tina something without telling her anything at all. It's how humans communicate, right? I'll tell her that, yeah, I'm having some anxiety issues. It's the second full week of college, of living with Sam, of being away from home. College assignments are different from high school, and I'm a little stressed about doing well on them. I won't tell her about Sam or the weird fight we had last night. Almost like he wanted to pick it so I'd go upstairs and leave him alone. I'll tell her it's anxiety and not that I haven't slept more than two hours a night in a week. I'll tell her a lot of things because she is my friend and that's what friends do.

They lie to each other so they can make each other feel good.

@sullyGray I'm fine. Really. Just Monday morning, kwim? I'm ready for it to be Friday again. Whoot!

@tinaM Tell me about it! Mondays are so hard! Gotta go. Talk to you later. Have a great day!
@sullyGray You too!!!!!!

And then I add some smiley emoticons, because that's just what a person does. I hit send and lean back in my computer chair. Monday morning. Time for Professor Mitchell's class. Time to see Marcy, AKA the best Teacher's Assistant in the world, and listen to the professor talk about some random event that happened in the Civil War. Because that's what he does. He talks about random events that didn't matter to anybody but does it in such a way that you care. Professor Mitchell is one of those teachers who just makes you want to learn, makes you want to listen. He has something special about him. Something no other teacher has had, and I've only had him three times. I have his class Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. A great way to start the week, and a great way to end it.
Can't exactly say enough about Professor Mitchell. I mean, he's him.

Sweet, intelligent, awesome, and at least twenty years older than me. Handsome in that old guy way. Not that I'd want anything to do with him—not in that way. Not feelin' that, but I know some other people in the class wouldn't mind.

The professor loves talking about the Civil War. More than just the war, the families involved, the real people behind the "Hollywood machine," as he calls it.

I shut down my computer and stretch in my chair. Yeah, it's Monday, but it'll be a good Monday. It will. I'll go to class with a positive attitude. I'll listen. I'll take notes. I'll text Sam—funny how he's not sent me one before now—and I'll be happy.

Or, at the very least, I'll pretend to be happy.

That's all people really want, right?

Sunshine. Marcy, the T.A. for Professor Mitchell. Tina. Sam—somewhere. I'm living my life. I'm moving on. I'm totally ignoring Hart, who is currently whispering in my head about candles.

I'm fine.

I'm totally normal.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Highway Revenge by Nadine Millard-- a regency romance!

Title: Highway Revenge
Author: Nadine Millard
Genre: Regency Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing

Evelyn Spencer has spent the last ten years living in her uncle’s house and longing for the day when she can leave and make her own way in the world.
When she finds out her uncle’s terrible, hidden secret, Evelyn decides that she will first get revenge then leave and never set eyes on her wicked uncle again.
Everything is going according to plan…until Viscount Andrew Ashdon comes along.
Andrew has been coerced into coming to spend a dull few weeks at his friend’s country estate. Used to intrigues, seductions and debauchery as a spy for the Crown, Andrew can think of nothing worse than rusticating in the country with no one around to entertain him…until he meets Evelyn Spencer.
The race is on for Evelyn to get the proof she needs to prove her uncle’s deception and the last thing she needs is to be distracted by the devilishly handsome, rakish Lord Ashdon.
Can she achieve the impossible with Lord Ashdon’s help, by finally getting her revenge? And, more importantly, can she do it while keeping hold of her heart?
B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

Being alone with her thoughts on a darkened, rarely used road was not good for her frame of mind, Evelyn decided.
For one thing, it left her to stew over her uncle’s horrid betrayal and her complete inability to do anything about it.
For another, it gave her far too much time to remember every tiny detail of her encounter with Lord Ashdon and his magical lips, the touch of which still felt imprinted on her own.
Evelyn lifted a hand to her mouth and pressed her fingers to the spot that still tingled in remembrance of his touch.
Perhaps she hadn’t handled the aftermath in the sophisticated, worldly way  she would have liked.
Sprinting back to the house, nearly bursting a lung in the process, then barricading herself into her room with another faux headache was neither sophisticated nor clever, as it turned out, since she had both Anna and Jonathan demanding that Mr. Carver, the aptly named surgeon be called.
It took so long convincing them that she was perfectly fine, that she’d had a genuine headache by the time they left and she’d been grateful for Molly’s herbal remedy and insistence that she be left alone in a darkened room.
Lord Ashdon hadn’t asked after her welfare at all, she thought snippily.
Which just went to show; the man was a veritable rake who had felt nothing when they’d kissed and should be avoided like the plague.
And Evelyn had every intention of staying as far away from him as humanly possible from this day forward.
“Lovely evening for a robbery, my lady.”
Evelyn screeched in fright as a deep, mellifluous voice penetrated the still night air, and she nearly fell off her horse as she spun to see to whom it belonged.
But of course. She already knew, didn’t she? Nobody else’s voice had the power to completely steal her breath away.
And wasn’t that just the way her luck had been going anyway? When she’d decided to avoid him, lo, here he was, ruining her robbery again.
“What are you doing here?” she demanded indignantly as she tried to keep control of the stallion who she’d once again frightened half to death.
I’ll make it up to him, she assured herself, choosing to ignore the fact that the list of living things she was having to make things up to was growing steadily by the day.
“Oh, I’m just out for a night-time ride. May I enquire as to what you’re doing?”
His faux politeness was stirring her temper, but she refused to give in to it. The best way to deal with the interfering cad was to coolly dismiss him, then ignore him.
“You may not,” she snapped, her tone as freezing as she could make it. “Good evening to you.”
“Oh, come now, my lady. What harm in having a friendly chat?” he asked jovially as he moved his horse to stand beside hers.
Bloody nuisance.
“I am not your lady,” she retorted. “I am a dangerous, hardened criminal, and you are interfering yet again in my robbery.”
“But, of course. A thousand apologies.” He swept his hat off his head and executed a dramatic bow that almost unseated him from his mount.
Evelyn gave a regal nod of her head, which she hoped was dismissive enough for even this most obtuse of men, then turned again to concentrate on the empty road.
“And how is the business of robbing passing carriages? Slow? Lucrative?” he continued in that polite tone that would have been better suited to a ballroom in the height of the Season.
Evelyn took a calming breath and pointedly ignored him.
“Of course, I, myself, would never rob someone. Too ethical, you understand. But I can appreciate that some highwaymen do quite a trade in the area.”
Evelyn clenched her teeth so hard she was afraid she’d never pry them apart again. Still she remained silent.
“But then,” he continued, and she wanted to smack him again, all thoughts of their earlier kiss forgotten in her rage, “I have never known a woman to be involved in the business. You’ll forgive me if I think that rather singular.”
Evelyn gazed at the stars and counted to ten, trying desperately to calm her beating heart, to unclench her death grip on the reigns. Poor Midnight was having a horrid time of it with her. There weren’t enough apples in the world to make up for it. Not if she were to bake John Coachman’s pies too.
“And, you must admit, my dear, you aren’t very good at it, are you?”
“That is it,” she snapped and whirled round to face him. “Whatever is the matter with you?” she began. “I’m not going to rob you, and I want absolutely nothing to do with you. Nothing,” she emphasised as she leaned toward him. “So why do you insist on bothering me?”
He merely smiled as though he found the whole thing vastly amusing.
She growled low in her throat.
“Pardon me, my dear, but did you just growl?”
“I am not your bloody dear,” she exclaimed. “For heaven’s sake. Just leave me alone. You go your way, I’ll go mine, and that will be that.”
With that, she turned her horse once more and pointedly ignored him.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“Why not?”
“Because, you are a mystery that I am determined to solve, since there are so many which are apparently too far out of my reach,” he grumbled with a frown, and Evelyn thought for one mad moment that he was speaking of her.
Her, Evelyn. Not her, mysterious highway non-robber.
“There is no mystery. Nothing to solve. I just choose to earn a living this way. That’s all there is to it,” she said decisively. She didn’t need him poking around in this as well as everything else.
Any answer he would have made was silenced by the distinct sound of approaching hooves.
Evelyn’s heart flew into her mouth.
“Did you hear that?” she asked, all animosity forgotten.
He merely nodded, watching carefully now as he usually did.
“It seems a victim is approaching.”
She tried not to flinch at his words but victim made the whole thing seem so, well… so criminal.
Perhaps she would just pretend to rob this carriage.
After all, he’d seen her again now, so there was no cause to ever do this again.
If she got rid of him quick enough, she could just loop round and go back to the manor house the long way, avoiding being seen by him, and leaving the occupants of the carriage robbery free.
Suddenly feeling much better about the whole thing, she smiled brightly.
“Well, it’s been nice knowing you,” she said and stuck out her hand, “but as you see, I have work to do, so I’ll bid you good evening.”
He glanced down at her hand and then back up at her and moved his mount closer, leaning forward to peer closer still.
“You know, you seem terribly familiar.”
Evelyn just stopped herself from leaping back in horror. Oh God, he couldn’t recognise her!
“I hardly see how,” she mumbled.
He was silent for a moment before releasing a sigh.
“No, I suppose that is impossible. Apparently, the Fates have a wicked sense of humour, throwing two impossible women with devastating eyes and annoying habits into my path.”
Evelyn was momentarily distracted by his complimenting her eyes before his words registered.
“I am not annoying,” she said, mightily affronted and doubly so, since she was both women.
“Oh, but you are. Not as much as she, I’ll grant you, but then I haven’t had the pleasure of your company as much,” he continued wryly.
“Well, you’re not exactly pleasant to be around either, sir,” she quipped.
She really shouldn’t be enjoying this.
“Me?” he widened his eyes innocently, and Evelyn had to bite the inside of her mouth to keep from laughing.
But this was no good! She needed to get rid of him so she could leave before the carriage arrived.
“Yes. You. Now, if you don’t mind I have a — er — job to get on with.”
“Oh, don’t let me stop you,” he said with a smile.
Her own smile froze.
“Wh-what do you mean? You can’t stay here?”
He shrugged his large shoulders with enviable nonchalance.
“Why not? I must admit I find the whole thing fascinating, and while I heartily disapprove, I find myself unwilling to leave you to your own devices, should anything bad happen.”
Evelyn felt her jaw drop open at his words.
He’d risk being caught here, risk being thought of as a criminal because he didn’t want to leave her alone?
The thought was humbling, and it also served to soften her toward him, which wouldn’t do at all. She needed him to leave. And quickly.
“But, you can’t risk being seen here,” she stuttered. “Suppose you should get caught. S-surely a man of your stature cannot risk such a thing.”
He raised a brow.
“What do you know of my stature?” he asked.
Blast. She’d slipped up again.
“N-nothing. But, well, I just assumed—“
“There you go with those assumptions,” he said smoothly. “No need to worry yourself about it, in any case. The problem will be mine to deal with, should anything go awry.”
Oh, but he was exasperating.
“But why?” she wailed.
He was once again ruining everything.
“As to that, I cannot tell you. I only wish I knew myself,” he muttered as much to himself as to her. “But, here I am. Unwilling to allow you to be caught or put into any sort of danger.”
It was a peculiar thing, Evelyn thought as she rubbed at a sudden headache, being jealous of oneself.
Clearly, Lord Ashdon cared a great deal about the highwaywoman she was. And yet, he had kissed her to, so intensely this morning in the gardens.
What a brute!
Well, she would never allow him to kiss her again, and that was that.
Even though he didn’t know who she currently was, he had known perfectly well who she was this morning, and he had no business getting himself embroiled with some woman now. The logical part of her brain tried to remind her that she was the some woman, but she had no interest in that.
The point was that he didn’t know who she was…
The thought brought Evelyn up short.
He didn’t know who she was!
Evelyn Spencer, lady of quality, good, well-behaved, docile miss couldn’t allow a rakish lord any liberties.
But a mysterious, masked female who lived outside the law? Well, couldn’t she do just about anything she wanted?

Her mouth curled into a slow grin as the possibilities flitted through her mind. This could be rather wonderful. Perhaps being a highway robber for a little longer wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Nadine Millard is a writer hailing from Dublin, Ireland. Although she’ll write anything that pops into her head, her heart belongs to Regency Romance.
When she’s not immersing herself in the 1800s, she’s spending time with her husband, her three children, and her very spoiled Samoyed. She can usually be found either writing or reading and drinking way too much coffee.