ILAVANI COVER REVEAL

I have a new book out!

It will be released June 13th in roughly 13 chapter segments (+- 100 pages), it’s the first in a trilogy. I hope you all enjoy! Preorder links below.

6 x 9 paperback cover.jpg

About ILAVANI

The first installment in a long-running, science fantasy series based in a queer, pagan, polyamorous, universe.

3800 years in the future.

Maëlcolm is a skilled BDSM trainer, a spy, and unfortunately, a prince.

Cameron is Maël’s older brother, titular heir to their father’s kingdom and in love with his enby bodyguard, Li.

Kat is a slave. A genetically modified being created for one purpose, and one alone. To please her masters in bed.

Los is a gifted Companion, the only thing that makes him happier than practicing his calling is loving Maël, the one man Los can’t have an official relationship with.

If Maël doesn’t give up his calling and do as the Ard Righ demands, his family loses everything.

If Cam doesn’t do what he needs to do to become worthy of the throne by the Ard Righ’s stringent standards, their family may be executed.

If Kat, autistic, touch-averse, and afraid, chooses to fight her fate, she’ll die.

When an artificial intelligence named ‘the high king’ is at the helm, the cost to human hearts may be impossible to bear.

Amazon Preorder Digital $1.51

http://amzn.to/2qNVAmf

ASIN: B071FWRR29 EBook

 

Amazon Preorder Print $6.00

http://amzn.to/2rElExo

ISBN: 9781521431429 Print

Epub available directly from me for $1.00 US emailed to paypal/skrill Kaelan.rhywiol@gmail.com

ILAVANI DIGITAL COVER.jpg

Advertisements

Cover Reveal! CROWN OF ICE & SCEPTER OF FIRE by Vicki L.Weavil

Today I’m participating in a special double cover reveal for the first two books in the Mirror of Immortality Trilogy by Vicki L. Weavil. The all-new second edition of the first book, Crown of Ice, releases on May 9 from Snowy Wings Publishing, with the second book, Scepter of Fire, coming on May 23!

Cover designed by Deranged Doctor Design

Title: Crown of Ice
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Snow Queen Thyra Winther is immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.

Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal.

A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles.

Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s love, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could prove her ultimate undoing.

Add Crown of Ice on Goodreads!

 

Cover designed by Deranged Doctor Design

Title: Scepter of Fire
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

She’s the ugly duckling in a family of swans. But Varna Lund is determined to live a life that matters.

Ridiculed by the young men of her village, Varna vows she’ll become the finest healer in the land. The skills she’s learned from her ancient mentor prove vital when she encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who deserted the battlefield to carry an injured friend to safety. Aided by her sister Gerda, she cares for the soldiers in secret.

When betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, Varna encounters her former mentor—now revealed as the sorcerer, Sten Rask. Seeking an enchanted mirror that offers unlimited power, Rask appears determined to seduce Varna to his side.

To protect their country, Varna and her companions form an alliance with a former Snow Queen, a scholar, and an enchantress. But when Rask tempts her with beauty and power, Varna’s heart becomes a battlefield. Caught between loyalty to her companions and a man whose kisses ignite a fire on her lips, Varna must choose—embrace her own desires, or fight for a society that’s always spurned her.

Add Scepter of Fire on Goodreads!

About the Author:

Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library Director for a performing and visual arts university.

An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling. Vicki, who writes in other genres under the pennames V. E. Lemp and Victoria Gilbert, is represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel, NY, NY. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.

Visit Vicki online at vickilweavil.com, or on Twitter at @VickiLWeavil or Facebook at @VickiLWeavil.

 

PROJECT EMERGENCE: Blog Tour

PROJECT EMERGENCE.jpg

Month9Books

Full review of Project Emergence:

Young Adult Science Fiction

Available March 14th, 2017project-emergence

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play Books | Indiebound

An ancient Hopi myth says people arrived on tiny silver pods that fell from the sky.

But the truth is far more terrifying.

Two-hundred fifty-eight teens are sent from a dying Earth to a terraformed Mars as part of the Emergence Program, mankind’s last hope before solar flares finish off their planet and species. Among the brave pioneers are sixteen-year-old Joey Westen and her twin brother, Jesse.

After only minutes in space, something triggers a total ship lock down.

With the help of their roommates, the Matsuda twins (notorious hackers and shady secret-keepers), Joey and Jesse stumble onto an extremist plot to sabotage the Emergence Program.

But Joey and Jesse didn’t travel to the deepest pits of space and leave their mother behind to be picked off in a high-tech tin can. They’ll lie, hack, and even kill to survive the voyage and make it to Mars.

The meat of my review: 

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

I love Ms. Zakian’s work, that’s no secret, her Ashby Holler series is one of my all time favorite sets of books.

As for Project Emergence, even though it’s coming out after the Ashby series, I have a feeling it’s an earlier work. It isn’t as nuanced as her other books but that fits the story line quite well.

One of Ms. Zakian’s gifts in writing YA is that she writes teens like they really are. It’s not adult thought patterns put into supposedly teenaged heads like a lot of the YA on the market.

Project Emergence is an easy, fast read and I think it’s a great set-up story for what I feel will be a fascinating book two.

Unfortunately, I caught a number of editing errors, so feel it could’ve been edited more thoroughly, but that’s not on the author. No author can ever can catch everything in their own work, we become blind to our own words. Just part of the business of writing. You need external editors and Project Emergence needed one. Regardless of that, it’s quite a fun read with a light, enjoyable plot.

I most strongly identified with Sabrina in the book. The young adult characters are written in a way that evokes the feeling of being a youth, which is exactly what one wants when writing YA. I think teenagers and new adults are going to enjoy the story quite a bit.

The two different styles of voice in the book are each unique and well defined (Sabrina/Adult, the YA voices, all are exactly as they should be, and it’s a hard thing for an author to do, to have two such different voices in one book.)

The characters and world definitely have promise, and I look forward to book two.

Scroll down for more info on the tour, author and for the giveaway!

About Jamie: 

3c866-jamie2bzakian

Jamie Zakian is a full-time writer who consumes the written word as equally as oxygen. Living in South Jersey with her husband and rowdy family, she enjoys farming, archery, and blazing new trails on her 4wd quad, when not writing of course. She aspires to one day write at least one novel in every genre of fiction.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a DVD of Passengers, US Only.

1 winner will win the complete FIRE IN THE WOODS eBook set, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

3/13/2017- Reading for the Stars and Moon– Guest Post

3/13/2017- Kaelan Rhywiol– Review

3/14/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

3/14/2017- YA and Wine– Interview

3/15/2017- Kaitlin Gillespie– Review

3/15/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Interview

3/16/2017- The Math Lovin’ Momma– Review

3/16/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Excerpt

3/17/2017- Fix Gal– Review

3/17/2017- Book Review Becca– Spotlight

 

Week 2:

3/20/2017- Jennifer Eaton– Guest Post

3/20/2017- So Few Books– Interview

3/21/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review

3/21/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Excerpt

3/22/2017- Omg Books and More Books– Review

3/22/2017- Wishful Endings– Guest Post

3/23/2017- Hall Ways Blog Excerpt

Cover Reveal! SHE WANTS IT ALL by Jessica Calla

Cover Reveal! SHE WANTS IT ALL (Book 3, Sheridan Hall Series)

img_8890

Author: Jessica Calla

Genre: NA Romance

Release Date: May 16, 2017

Publisher: BookFish Books

Cover Designer: Anita B. Carroll, Race-Point US

About the Book…

Happy to sing cover songs with his band and float through New Jersey University with little to no effort, Dave Novak spends the first week of college partying. Then he meets Maggie Patrinski. Performing on stage in front of hundreds is easy for Dave, but the mere thought of Maggie sends his heart racing and turns him into a bumbling idiot. Even so, he can’t get her out of his mind.

Maggie’s not exactly thrilled when her roommate sets her up with Second Floor Dave, the hottie with a reputation. Not only has she just had her heart broken, but she’s vying for a competitive summer internship and studying to become a vet. She doesn’t have time for guys and isn’t interested in falling in love, especially when she may be moving across the country for the summer.

But as Maggie gets to know Dave, his charm wins her over and she falls hard and fast. The problem? Maggie has goals, Dave doesn’t. Maggie studies, Dave doesn’t. Maggie wants it all, Dave only wants her. With their summer plans up in the air and past mistakes creeping back into their lives, their future together is uncertain. The only thing they’re sure of is that when they’re together, they’re better.

Other Books in the Sheridan Hall Series…

SLIP_eBOOK sra_ebook-1

SHE LAUGHS IN PINK (Book 1, Sheridan Hall Series)

https://www.amazon.com/Laughs-Pink-Sheridan-Hall-Book-ebook/dp/B01D1XC96A/

SHE RUNS AWAY (Book 2, Sheridan Hall Series)

https://www.amazon.com/Runs-Away-Sheridan-Hall-Book-ebook/dp/B01KIS5BKC/

About the Author…

Author Pic She Laughs in Pink Jessica Calla

Jessica Calla is a contemporary romance, new adult, and women’s fiction author who moonlights during the day as an attorney. If she’s not writing, lawyering, or parenting, you’ll most likely find her at the movies, scrolling through her Twitter feed, or gulping down various forms of caffeine (sometimes all three at once).

Jessica is a member of Romance Writers of America, involved in the Contemporary, Young Adult, and New Jersey Chapters, and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. A Jersey girl through and through, she resides in the central part of the state with her husband, two sons, and dog.

Where to Find Jess…

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jess_calla

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jessica-Calla-Author-1658471457735204/?fref=ts

Website: http://www.jessicacalla.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33874425-she-wants-it-all?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway…

Rafflecopter link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6d6904f26/

Blog Tour: SOME KIND OF MAGIC

jhpr_host_badge-1

*I received an ARC of SOME KIND OF MAGIC in return for an honest review.

somekindofmagic_reviewtour-1

And to be honest, I squeaked like a happy kid when my review request was approved. Seriously, through the greatness of my writer friends on writer-twitter, I’ve heard about this book for months and wanted, desperately to read it.

I’m so glad I did!

In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who’s swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?…

Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed

Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.

Now, you all know that I AM a scientist, in real life I’m a forensic chemist/bioanthropologist, so I was a little leery that the science wouldn’t stand up, but it didn’t make me cringe once. Yay!

The writing is crisp and clean and the sex steamy enough to keep even ME happy. You can read more of my review on my review page with my scores, but here is the meat of it.

REVIEW of SOME KIND OF MAGIC

A retelling of Love Potion No9? Sign me up!

On top of one of my favorite movies of ever being retold in prose, with a few twists, I deeply enjoyed the well-rounded, fleshed-out and very real characters of this book.

It’s hard, sometimes, as an author, to do that. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes that the reader never sees and I’m thrilled that Ms. Marlowe did it because it made me adore her characters.

I’m not a sucker for ‘rock star romance’ I mean it’s not really my thing because I don’t have a fantasy of sleeping with my favorite rock star (lol, not even Levine, who I find soooo sexy) but I loved the MC Adam in this book, his trials and issues made him well rounded and believable. I am a scientist, and the FMC Eden was represented quite well in all aspects of that, including her list of things for a mate! (hah, so true to form there, at least for me). The way she thinks makes her a highly empathetic character for me.

Ms. Marlowe’s voice leaps up off the page and grabs you by the throat, refusing to let you go until you finish the book and the sex… oh my… I don’t make any bones about loving graphic, open door sex scenes that melt my panties, and my desires (ahem) were met perfectly in this book. The sex didn’t fall into the trap of being gratuitous either, there was enough story to carry it.

The story is smart (yay for smart writing!) and well written, with few editorial issues and the pace is page turning. It even had a satisfying emotional feel to it, which not every book can do for me.

Did I forget to mention it’s funny, too? It is. One-liners, sly jokes and laugh-out-loud humor kept me smiling throughout. I needed that laughter today, and for that reason alone the book would have garnered five stars. The REST is just as good though. Highly worth reading.

I look forward to reading anything else Ms. Marlowe writes.

You can pre-order a copy of SOME KIND OF MAGIC

Review page can be found here:

REVIEW of SOME KIND OF MAGIC (the review is the same as the above, only difference on that page is the scoring)

 

HOOKED ON TROUBLE by Kelly Siskind

Hooked-on-Trouble-Launch-Day-Blitz.jpg

This is a great read. Which I’ve come to expect from Kelly Siskind. I’m sad to finish the series, but oh, what a finish it was.

HOOKED ON TROUBLE by Kelly Siskind (January 10, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $3.99; Over the Top Book 3)

 siskind_hookedontrouble_ebook

Reality bites.  Hard.

The last time Raven did “real” was sixteen months ago, when she spent one unforgettable night with the tattooed, impossible sexy Nico, and then he disappeared the next day.  Since then, she’s kept her guard up and her feelings to herself.  She doesn’t have time for relationship drama when she’s busy searching for her long lost sister.

Nico hasn’t stopped thinking about Raven—her sultry curves, inked skin, or the fact that he ditched her after their night together.  Now that they’re living in the same city, he knows this is his chance to make things right.  What better way to prove to Raven he’s for real than helping her find her sister?  But when the lines between right and wrong start to blur, putting his job on the line, Nico has to decide if the risk is worth the ultimate reward.

Buy the Book!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2h5Q0CS

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2hCb5Ft

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2h5HDqY

iBooks: http://apple.co/2hpQoz6

Google: http://bit.ly/2hpVXgO

About the Author:

Siskind Kelly.jpg

A small-town girl at heart, Kelly Siskind moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario, Canada.  When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head.

She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—Gummy Bears heal all.  She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

Social Media Links:

www.kellysiskind.com

www.facebook.com/authorkellysiskind

Add Hooked on Trouble to your shelf on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2hLwMWX

Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 15 free ebook downloads of Hooked on Trouble!

http://bit.ly/2gP3I0w

hooked-on-trouble-quote-graphic

HOOKED ON TROUBLE BY KELLY SISKIND

Excerpt (300-500 words)

His large hand presses against my knee under the table. “Can we talk?”

Jesus, his touch. It’s the first time I’ve felt the weight of his palm on me since Aspen. It’s heavy. Huge. Callused. Instinctually I shift forward, my body no longer mine to command. He doesn’t move his hand. Just his thumb. It presses harder, dragging downward. I grip my armrests to keep from sliding to the floor. He stares at me, waiting for my answer.

Yes. No. Maybe. I choose silence.

The way our lives are entrenched with our friends, I’ll have to spend time with him, and I can’t keep pretending I can block him out. Moving here was about starting fresh, which means letting go of this grudge. But talking about Aspen could stir up more feelings, the same way the experience spurred my need to find Rose. If we talk about our time in the hot tub, it could unhinge me further.

Our waiter arrives to take our order, and Nico’s thumb moves again, a tiny brush, his skin against mine, sending a pulse between my thighs. My sanity plummets. I shout, “Chicken,” like a lunatic as I push away from the table.

Nico’s hand slides from my knee, but his eyes don’t waver. I feel his gaze on my back as I hurry to the bathroom. The second I get inside, I close the door and lean against it, thankful it’s not a public room with several stalls. I take a few deep breaths.

How can that bit of contact turn me inside out? The smallest touch?

Memories of his other touches flip through my mind, snippets of skin and ink, flashes of ecstasy.

My back arching.

His fingers exploring.

The curve of his inked shoulder.

His huge hands.

The sheer size of him.

We might not have had sex, and the details may be fuzzy, but there’s no doubt it was the hottest night I’ve ever had. What isn’t fuzzy is the time I spent with him in the hot tub prior, and how he took advantage of my vulnerability.

Goddamn Nico. And Goddamn Aspen.

———-

MY review can be found here on this site, or at Goodreads or Amazon.

Cover Reveal! Project Emergence by Jamie Zakian

 
Today Jamie Zakian and Month9Books are
revealing the cover and first chapter for PROJECT EMERGENCE which releases March
14, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers
to receive a eGalley!!
 
A quick note from the author:
 
I’ve always dreamed of
writing an epic sci-fi thriller. I knew I wanted it to involve a group of teens
leaving a dead Earth to start new lives on a terra formed Mars, but I didn’t
have any ideas on how to make the plot exciting. Then, a song I never heard before
played on my Pandora app. Escape by Rogue. As that song blasted through my
headphones, the entire story that is Project Emergence streamed through my mind
like a movie trailer. So, I went straight to work. It took months of frantic
writing, almost a year of editing, and a mini rewrite, but that moment of
inspiration became my first YA novel.
 
Project Emergence is a
fast-paced thrill ride across the stars. It shows the extent people will go to
uphold their beliefs, and that love can overcome any evil.
 

On to the reveal! 





 
Title: PROJECT
EMERGENCE
Author: Jamie Zakian
Pub. Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 292
Find it: Goodreads
|
Amazon | B&N | TBD
 
An ancient Hopi myth says people arrived
on tiny silver pods that fell from the sky.
 
But the truth is far more terrifying.
 
Two-hundred fifty-eight teens are sent
from a dying Earth to a terraformed Mars as part of the Emergence Program,
mankind’s last hope before solar flares finish off their planet and species.
Among the brave pioneers are sixteen-year-old Joey Westen and her twin brother,
Jesse.
 
After only minutes in space, something
triggers a total ship lock down.
 
With the help of their roommates, the
Matsuda twins (notorious hackers and shady secret-keepers), Joey and Jesse
stumble onto an extremist plot to sabotage the Emergence Program.
 


But Joey and Jesse didn’t travel to the
deepest pits of space and leave their mother behind to be picked off in a
high-tech tin can. They’ll lie, hack, and even kill to survive the voyage and
make it to Mars.


Excerpt


Chapter OneJoey squirmed in the seat of a large, airtight van as it sped along an empty road. A cloud of red sand kicked up outside her window, and the van’s tires hummed against cracked pavement. Solar flares had done a fine job of destroying this once beautiful planet. She never got to see Earth in its glory days, as she had been born into a scorched world, but could almost picture the way it used to be.

In her imagination, the reddish tint that covered the parched countryside outside her window transformed to crisp green meadows. The piles of stone and metal reconstructed to form the buildings they once were, reaching for a sky that was blue instead of crimson.

Her daydream ended when the nose of a spaceship peeked above maroon-crested hills. That massive shuttle was waiting to carry two hundred and fifty-eight lucky lottery winners off this dying planet, and she was one of them.

“Whoa,” Joey said, her breath fogging the glass. A light crinkle drew her stare to the paper in her now tight grip. She loosened her stiff fingers, smoothing a crease from the official seal of the Unified Nations of Earth.

…The letter in her hand still mesmerized her. Selected … Terraformed Mars … New home … Those words knocked the bottom from her stomach every time she read them. Things were getting way too real. No more tiny lead-lined home, school at the kitchen table, Mom. She turned to Jesse, her brother’s smirk brighter than an X1 flare.

“You’re a crappy twin. I’m freaking out right now; you should be too.”

Jesse rolled his stare her way. “Fraternal twins don’t work like that.”

“That’s not true.” She read the letter again, making sure both their names were listed for the umpteenth time.

“I can’t believe this is happening.” Jesse grew tense. A frown swept his lips for just a moment before his perma-smile returned. “No one from G-Sector ever goes anywhere.”

“Did you see the look on Mom’s face when we left?”

“I know. Buzzkill.”

“What’s she gonna do without us?” Joey asked in a near whisper.

“Finally be able to feed herself.” Jesse snickered.

She shook her head, folding the letter. “Maybe she’ll win the next lottery and meet up with us on Mars.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

Jesse leaned close, keeping his voice low. “Didn’t you hear what that kid behind us was saying?”

“No. What?”

“He said the lottery’s rigged.” Jesse eyed the soldier stationed at the front of the van, then the other two at the rear. “That everyone is selected for a specific purpose.”

“But that would mean the U.N.E. is lying to everyone,” Joey said, a bit too loud. Jesse’s eyes opened wide, and she shrugged.

“You’re gonna get us booted from this ride before we even launch.”

“Whatever,” she muttered. “It’s a stupid idea anyway ‘cause look, we’re here. What do we have to offer? All you can do is fix stuff, and me … well, I’m just good at being cute.” She batted her eyes, flaunting a sly smile.

“Yeah you’re right. That’s real flippin cute.” Jesse slanted toward the aisle, glancing around the cab. “There aren’t any adults on this van.”

“There’s the soldier guys.”

“Geez, dummy. I mean the passengers.”

Joey pinched her brother, who wriggled away. “Dummy,” she mimicked. With a failed attempt to appear casual, she popped her head up and scanned the seats. Sparkly clothes and bright makeup captured her stare. “They look like A-Sectors.” She didn’t mean to gawk at the people seated around her, but she’d never seen such lavish clothes, such flawless skin.

“Please remain seated while the vehicle’s in motion,” a soldier thundered.

Jesse grabbed Joey’s arm and pulled her down into the seat. “Smooth, sister. Real smooth.”

She shrank back, deploying her trusty get-out-of-messes frowny smile on her brother. “Oops. In trouble already. Figures.”

Grumbles erupted from Jesse’s lips, and she turned back to the dusty earth outside her window. Crazy how one day and a trip to the mailbox could change her entire life. Yesterday, she was painting a mural of Mars on their bedroom wall. Today, she was going to Mars.

The parched countryside vanished behind a tunnel wall. She sagged in her seat. For sixteen years, she clung to Jesse. Every time dust storms pelted their windowless metal house, she curled under his arm. Mom worked late, so Joey’s hand became glued to his. And now, when she actually needed the comfort of his touch, her brain decided it was time to man up. Her eyes narrowed. She zeroed in on his cozy-looking hand, her fingers drumming a steady beat on her leg.

***

Sabrina poked her head around a corner. Her fingers tightened around the rifle’s grip as she peered down a dim corridor. Shadows danced along the concrete wall, and she backed up, pressing her comms button. “Stone to dispatch. Come in, dispatch.”

Static crackled in her ear, a garbled voice cutting in and out.

“Dispatch, do you read? Where the hell is my backup?”

This time, only the fizz of dead air replied.

“Damn underground bright-out dens,” Sabrina mumbled.

These missions twisted her gut every time. There were very few people left alive on Earth. Many couldn’t afford specially designed homes or the rising cost of oxygen, and it didn’t sit right to bust folks just for trying to survive the scorching sun. But she was Captain Sabrina Stone of the Unified Nations of Earth, a high ranking officer in the sector that controlled every aspect of the entire planet, and she had a duty to protect what was left of that planet. Neither a heavy conscience nor lack of backup would hinder that.

Sabrina held her weapon close, skulking down the stone passage. Two men strolled around the bend, then stopped short, and she popped off two rounds. No sound emitted from the gun’s muzzle, just a flash that lit the graffiti-stained walls in white.

The men slumped to the ground. Tiny darts protruded from their chests, and pamphlets spilled from their limp hands.

“Earth-heads,” she muttered, glimpsing anti-Mars propaganda. The bang of a metal door slamming shut echoed from the dark tunnel on her left, so she headed toward it.

Men and woman dropped as Sabrina skated through shadows, firing her gun. Their tranquilized bodies slapped concrete, a trail to a solid door at the end of the long hallway. She reached into her vest and extracted a small explosive charge. Just as the magnet clinked to the steel slab, a voice flowed through her earpiece.

“Captain Stone, we’ve breeched the airlock. En route to your position.”

“Bout time,” she said beneath her breath. Her thumb glided over the button of the wireless detonator, and spikes of fear burrowed into her gut. U.N.E protocol, and the whirl in her stomach, said to wait for backup. Pride, however, was a persistent little sucker, one that set loose a torrent of electric shocks in her veins. She scurried back, covered her head, and pressed the detonation button.

An explosion rocked her chest, slamming her against the wall. Hunks of concrete crashed down, and the door slammed atop the rubble. Sabrina swung her rifle dead ahead. Adrenaline perked her lips into a smile as she charged through wisps of smoke, firing upon everybody that lunged her way.

“This is a raid of the U.N.E. Get down on the ground.”

Soldiers flooded the doorway behind her, and she bit back her grin. A woman needed an iron-clad stare amid this troop of grunts. “Took you guys long enough.” She turned, stumbling back as the five-stars of a general gleamed in her eyes. “Sir,” she roared, standing up straight.

“Captain Stone, I need you to come with me.”

Sabrina glanced around, as much as one could without moving a single muscle in their neck. Her men cleared the room as the general’s elite soldiers crowded around her.

“Am I in trouble, sir?”

“Quite the contrary, Captain. You’ve been selected for an important mission. You’re going to Mars, Soldier.”

***

Joey grabbed her brother’s hand the instant he climbed off the van’s step. People shuffled all around the wide-open room, probably watching her act like a baby, but she couldn’t let go. Fear stole her will. It could have been the towering room of glass walls and silver beams that encompassed her, the barrage of strange faces, or the fact that she’d never see her mother again, but gloom tainted this moment. Holding her brother’s hand quelled a fraction of her inner-turmoil, so she planned to keep doing it despite her sissy appearance.

A soft voice streamed from a kiosk of video screens, repeating the Space Center’s famed slogan.

Three days on the state-of-the-art R23 shuttle, strolling through green grass, swimming in cool oceans.

Everything she memorized from the letter in her backpack.

“Look, there’s check-in,” Jesse said, tugging her from the display of white sandy beaches.

She inched through the crowd, close to his side. They filed into a rowdy line, her palm sweating against his skin.

“The Westen twins, I presume,” a high-pitched voice echoed from behind them.

In one swift move, Joey shook free from Jesse’s grasp and whirled around. An ultra-posh Asian girl leered down, and Joey stood tall. Her eyes wandered to the near identical boy at her side, bearing the same long jet-black hair. Another set of twins.

“How did you know our name?” Jesse asked. Joey nudged his arm, pulling his gaze from the low cut of the girl’s sparkly shirt.

“We know the names of all the twins on this ship,” she said, her hand hoisting to her hip.

“First and last,” the boy added.

Joey stifled a chuckle. Twins who finished each other’s sentences; this trip was going to be stellar. The line shuffled forward, and the small group edged up a few paces.

“How many twins are on this flight?” Jesse asked, glancing between the pair.

“Fourteen, including us,” she replied.

“Well, fourteen sets,” the boy corrected, turning to his sister.

“That actually makes twenty-eight twins.”

“But twins is plural, so it would be fourteen,” she argued, a hint of red flaring her cheeks.

“Yeah, but, you knew who we were,” Joey said. “We didn’t even know there were other twins here. Is there, like, a manual we didn’t get or something?”

The girl laughed, slapping her brother’s chest. A stealthy glare clouded her delicate features as she leaned close to Joey. “We hacked the database.”

“We hack everything,” the boy whispered.

“Cool,” Joey said through a smile, glancing at Jesse.

“So you must be Jesse,” the girl said, staring at Joey, “Short for Jessica, right?”

“Ah, no,” Joey said. “I’m Joey. Short for Josephine, which I hate so … just Joey.”

“I’m Jesse, which … isn’t short for anything.” Jesse shoved his hands into his pockets, lowering his gaze.

“Ahem. The line is moving,” a redheaded girl groaned.

They all crept forward again, and then Jesse spun back around. “So are we supposed to hack to find out your names?”

The girl giggled, and Joey rolled her eyes. Her stare landed on the boy’s annoyed face. Once their gaze connected, his frown lifted to a grin.

“Kami Matsuda.” A rainbow of colors reflected off the girl’s clothes as she slinked in front of Jesse, looking up into his eyes. “That’s Rai,” she said, nodding to her brother but keeping her deep gaze on Jesse.

Jesse gulped. His hands began to tremble, and it became painfully obvious at how fast his breath flowed.

“Next in line.”

“That’s us,” Joey said. She all but ripped Jesse from Kami’s leer. “We’ll catch up with ya.” It took quite a massive tug, but she finally got Jesse moving toward the registration table. “Now who’s smooth, dorkus,” she whispered.

***

“Let me get this straight, Mr. Winslow,” Sabrina said, only able to mask a fraction of the edge in her tone. “You want me to be a glorified babysitter for a bunch of teens in space?” She walked across the large office of the Space Center, toward Director Winslow’s desk. Her boots sank into lush carpet as she strolled past stone statues, one of which lost its arm somewhere along the way. Such extravagance. If it were liquidated and spread out, every sector could afford a giant dome to protect its people from radioactive air instead of just the A-Sectors. She tore her gaze from art-adorned walls, catching an impatient glare from the man behind a glossy wooden desk.

“The situation on our hands goes far beyond babysitting, Captain Stone. We’re under attack. The commander of the U.N.E. herself assured me you were the best of the best.”

“Commander Sun said that? Huh.” She stepped closer to the desk. The man before her strained to appear confident, but she glimpsed the beads of sweat that trickled between his dark wrinkled skin and white hair.

“You’ve got my attention,” she said, cupping her hands behind her back.

“Of course you understand every word spoken within this room stays within this room.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Ever since the inception of the Emergence program, a group of fanatics have targeted us. Are you familiar with the Earthisum Movement, Captain Stone?”

“Yes, sir. I took out an underground lair of them this morning. They seem to be, for the most part, harmless.”

“Perhaps on the outside.” He pulled a brown folder from his drawer and placed it on his desk. “Have a look.”

Sabrina flipped through the file. When she read a handwritten letter, which appeared to be scrawled in blood, her fingers actually shook.

“The threats made in that manifesto were not empty.”

Her head snapped up, and she gawked at the old man before regaining her composure. “Are you saying the Earth-heads blew up your first flight to Mars?”

His finely manicured fingers massaged his forehead, a ghostly shade of white claiming his cheeks. “Yes. After only hours in space.” He lowered his stare. “The second and third flights as well.”

“What?”

“Those maniacs sabotage every spacebus we launch. None have successfully made the voyage to Mars.”

“How could you hide this from the public? They think people are living, flourishing over there. You need to put a hold on this program. Now. I’ll need at least a week to investigate.”

He shook his head, and Sabrina slammed her hands on the desk. “That file says there are two hundred and fifty-eight children walking onto that shuttle as we speak, Mr. Winslow. Two hundred and fifty-eight lives you’re putting at risk.”

“If we stop the program, they’ve won. No! The survival of the human race is too important. This mission has to succeed, Captain Stone.”

“But why now with kids? If what you’re telling me is true, Mars is empty. There are no doctors, scientists, or security of any kind in place. They’ll eat each other alive out there.”

“It has to be them.” He rose from his seat, smoothed a crease on his pinstriped lapel, and strolled to the window. “Those young adults were born in the year of the massive solar flare.” While gazing out the lightly tinted glass, he motioned for Sabrina to join him.

“I don’t see why that matters.” As she approached, the doublewide spacecraft stole her focus. She allowed her stare to wander along the gleam of curved metal and sharp points of thin wings before she shifted her gaze to the man beside her.

“They’re genetically predisposed to elevated radiation. I handpicked each one of them—for their instincts, spark, and their odds of producing healthy offspring.”

“Look, I get that. But if you just postpone a few weeks I can—”

“Earth only has a few weeks left, Captain Stone.” His voice quavered. He cleared his throat, lifting his chin high. “The sun is set to flare in, approximately, ten days. The space program predicts its intensity will surpass our classification scale. Everything left above the surface will be eradicated. Not even the UV dome of A-Sector can deflect these waves.”

Sabrina gasped. She began to stagger back, but Winslow grabbed her arm.

“Captain Stone, Sabrina. Look at those children.”

Her legs wobbled for the first time in her memory, but she crept forward. People hurried along a glass-encased walkway, far below, like tiny ants marching into a trap.

“That’s the future of mankind walking onto that spacebus. If they don’t make it to Mars, our species will cease to exist. You have to get them to that planet safely. You’re the last hope of humanity, Captain Stone.”


 
Jamie Zakian is a full-time writer who
consumes the written word as equally as oxygen. Living in South Jersey with her
husband and rowdy family, she enjoys farming, archery, and blazing new trails
on her 4wd quad, when not writing of course. She aspires to one day write at
least one novel in every genre of fiction.


 
 
 
3 winners will receive and eGalley of PROJECT
EMERGENCE, International.





a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js