Always a Booklover

The magic of books just enchants me. I love reading, what more can I say?

Blog Tour: Forever Hers by Ednah Walters - Guest Post + Excerpt

Hey guys! Here's today's blog stop! Apologies for the late post, school is extremely stressful nowadays. Don't even have the time to use my laptop. This is the fifth book in the Fitzgerald Family Series

Forever Hers
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Firetrail Publishing
Number of pages: 288
Word Count: 101,776

She wants her past hidden...

Amy Kincaid is running from her controlling ex-husband, who will stop at nothing to find her. With a new identity and a new job as a housekeeper, she just wants to be left alone to raise her daughter. Then Eddie Fitzgerald rolls into town and turns her world upside down.

He’s in the business of exposing the truth...

Eddie Fitzgerald, L.A.P.D.'s finest, lives for his job and nothing else, until he decides to take a break at the family summer home and is held at gunpoint by the most annoying, sassiest woman to ever cross his path. But something is off about Amy, and the more he learns about her, the more he’s convinced she’s a fugitive.

When her past catches up to her, Amy has no choice but to trust Eddie. Unfortunately, Eddie has demons of his own, and struggles with the decision to protect her or uphold the law.

The truth takes them down a deadly path, and only love can save them.

Ednah Walters

EDNAH WALTERS grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and dreaming of one day writing her own stories. She finished her PhD in chemistry, married the love of her life, and decided to be a stay-at-home mother. She now lives in a picturesque valley in Utah with her husband, five children and two American short-hair cats. When she is not writing, you can find her doing things with her family, reading, traveling or online chatting with fans.
Ednah writes adult romance under the pseudonym E. B. Walters. SLOW BURN, the first contemporary romance with suspense was released in April 2011. It is the first book in the Fitzgerald family series. Book 2, MINE UNTIL DAWN, was released in July 2011. KISS ME CRAZY, book 3 in the series followed three months later. Book 4, DANGEROUS LOVE was released end of January 2012. FOREVER HERS was released October 15th. Ednah is presently working on the next book, Lex’s story.
When she is not writing adult romance, Ednah writes YA fantasy books. Her YA fantasy series, The Guardian Legacy, is book about children of the fallen angels, who fight demons and protect mankind. AWAKENED, the prequel was released in September 2010 with rave reviews. BETRAYED, book one in the series was released by her new publisher Spencer Hill Press in June 2012. Book 3, HUNTED, which will be released April 2013. She’s working on book 4, FORGOTTEN.

Time for a short excerpt!

He had an unforgettable face. Sharp cheekbones, square jaws and piercing gray eyes that didn’t say much. His dark wavy hair was cut short, but not too short. Unruly strands rebelled and curled across his brow and at his nape. His skin was bronze, like he spent time outdoors. The turned down waistband indicated no tan lines either. A nudist? Interesting.
“About last night,” she said casually, noticing he hadn’t touched his coffee. “I don’t usually pull a gun on unsuspecting people, and I make a really mean cup of coffee.” She slid the steaming cup closer. “Go on, try it.”
She’d hoped for a smile, but got a frown instead. Mr. Fitzgerald was obviously not a morning person. How long was he planning on staying? Baron and Kara Fitzgerald tended to visit for a few days to a week before heading back to L.A.
“Excuse me for asking a dumb question, but who is Raelynn?” Eddie asked.
“My daughter.”
He looked around, his gaze zeroing on the toys piled by the door leading to the patio before coming back to her. “How old is she?”
“Almost five going on thirty. Her birthday is in two weeks.”
“Where is she?”
“Still asleep, but she’ll be up any minute. Why do you ask?”
“I’d like us to have an adult discussion without a child clouding anyone’s judgment.”
He was going to say he didn’t need a housekeeper again. She just knew it. “Okay, but FYI, I have an iron-clad contract, so if you are thinking of kicking us out, I will sue you from here to kingdom come and win,” she said with a confidence she didn’t feel.
Eddie scowled. “Why would I kick you out?”
“Because you said you didn’t need me last night and that I should take a hike.”
“I never said that.”
“That’s what I heard.” She picked up her coffee mug with an unsteady hand and sipped, her gaze not shifting from his. “Why don’t we talk outside? You go put on a shirt or something while I dish up your breakfast.”
Eddie stared down at his bare chest as though realizing for the first time he was shirtless. A sheepish expression softened his features and heat coiled in Amy’s stomach, surprising her. It shot up a notch when he turned, giving her a view of his back. Powerful broad shoulders. Narrow hips. Killer ass. The man had a beautiful body.
Just before he disappeared into the hallway leading to the master bedroom, Eddie turned and caught her in the act. Without slowing down, he raised the mug to his lips and sipped, heat flashing in his eyes.

And now, let's welcome Ednah to the blog!

Writing a Love Scene

Good morning and thank you for inviting me to make a stop by your site on the blog tour for FOREVER HERS, book 5 of the FITZGERALD FAMILY series.
How many writers love to write love scenes? If you do, please share your secret. Usually, I have to mentally prepare myself for days before writing a love scene. I read the love scenes in my previous books, watch chick flicks and focus on the foreplay, read other author’s books.
Since I write YA urban fantasy too with lots of fight scenes, I tend to spend days thinking up positions and moves, reading online articles and watching movies/anime with fight scenes. Why? You may ask. Because there’s quite a bit of similarity between fight and love scenes if you think about it. There are moves and countermoves, senses are engaged at a heightened level, endorphins secretions, major sweating and heavy breathing.
Writers engage a reader’s senses when they write most scenes. It’s what makes a book fun to read. Your character does not only see things, they smell, touch, hear, and feel. In every scene, you need to use at least three of the senses to make it gel.
So yes, writing a love scene is daunting. Not only must you know, imagine and listen to your character, you must be able to put everything she sees, feels, touches, smells, and hears into words without making them sound crass or disjointed. Since I never want to cheat readers, I tend to switch POVs halfway. Check out the scene below.

“How’s this for meeting you halfway,” he said then leaned down.
Her breath hitched. He kissed her, his tongue slipping past her lush lips to circle her tongue with quick, urgent strokes. He explored her mouth, savoring the taste of her, begging her to join him.
As if a dam broke loose, she gave in and drank him, arms reaching up to wound around his neck. He dumped the laptop on top of hers and lifted her up from the chair, her legs wrapping around his waist. His head spun with the taste, the feel, the scent of her, but somehow, he made it to the couch, taking her with him. She sat on his lap, legs still wrapped around his waist, the length of his throbbing flesh cradled by the apex of her legs. He could feel her heat and it drove him a little crazy.
His hands cupped her heavy breasts, his thumbs rubbing her tight nipples. She tore her lips from his and threw her head back, her back arching. Beautiful. Giving. She was amazing.
He yanked off her oversize T-shirt off, revealing the lacey black camisole and matching skimpy shorts. For a brief moment, he feasted on her lushness, the ripe strawberry nipples peeking through the lace material.
He buried his face between her perfect mounds and inhaled her essence. She shuddered, gripping his head and pressing him against her.
Blood roaring past his ears, Eddie turned his head and captured one nipple through the lace, nibbled and gnawed on the rosy tips while she squirmed. The material offered no barrier, but it wasn’t enough. He was drowning with need, a ravenous hunger like he’d never experienced before. He opened his mouth and sucked hard, his hands sliding under her camisole to hold her in place, a low growl of hunger escaping his lips.
“I want you.” His mouth moved to her neck, nibbling, gnawing. “So much.” He bit her earlobe. “All the time. Say you want me, Amy.”

So yep, that's about it for today! Thanks for visiting!

Blog Tour: Kallos by Khelsey Jackson - Promo


Kallos is ashy sixteen year old girl unready to face the world, but when she meets Ian and Sean Hunter the world will open up for her. Secrets revealed are to much to bear and her past life as a goddess, unimaginable. A visit from the goddess Aphrodite, Kallos is told her soul mate must be found or her life will be forfeit. Kallos desperate to find her one true match has discovered she may have two possibilities. Kallos has a choice to make and her decisions may have life ending consequences.

Buy it from Amazon

Khelsey Jackson

I am from California. I moved to Minnesota when I was 11 years old. My grandmother raised my brother and I. When I was 18 I moved to the city of sin, Las Vegas NV. I met my handsome husband and the rest is history.

I love to read, and read almost anything. Some of my favorites are Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, A.M. Hudson, and Richelle Mead. Another thing I like to do is crochet, I make blankets for the members in my family that have babies!

If there is anything else you wanna know don’t be afraid to ask.
Email me at

Time for a short excerpt!

“We didn’t have any aftershocks,” Sean replies.
“We also didn’t have someone taking our pain. Maybe we’re
causing more pain.” Ian looks concerned. She feels someone touch
her right arm. She feels a cooling sensation enter her body, but the
pain is still there.
“Babe, look at me,” Sean says.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Sean didn’t answer Ian.
“You can’t be serious! What if it doesn’t work? What if you do
more damage?” Kallos finally looks up and notices that Sean isn’t
even looking at Ian. Sean’s gray eyes are looking at her, and they
have gone stormy.
“Good. Where do you hurt?” he asks her.
“My head and my whole left side” she whispers. Sean nods and
puts both of his hands on either side of her head. Along with the
pain, she now feels an intense pressure. It feels like he’s pushing
her skull in. Kallos starts to see dark spots fill her eyes. She is just
about to scream; then, she hears a loud pop. All she can see is
“Open your eyes,” Sean whispers against her ear. Kallos didn’t
realize that she had shut them. Slowly, she opens her eyes, and
Sean is only inches from her face. She sees Ian standing not far
behind him. He doesn’t look happy; he looks like he wants to hit
something. “I’m going to put my hands on your body now.” Now,
Ian’s face turns a bright red. If she didn’t know any better, she
would say he’s jealous. Then, he growls when Sean starts to touch
her neck on the left side. Sean hears him because she can see a grin
spread across his face. “Easy, brother,” he says and chuckles.
Kallos glances behind Sean, and Ian isn’t settling down; he seems
to be getting angrier.
“Sean, you don’t know if you are going to help her or do more
damage!” This does alarm her. She really doesn’t want more pain
or damage. Kallos doesn't think she can handle too much more.
She knows that Sean would never hurt her, and her head has
stopped hurting. So, that’s a plus… right?
Sean decides to ignore Ian’s protests. He's moving his hands
slowly down her body. As he does, the same cooling sensation is
there, and so is the pressure. The pressure is almost too much, but
just when Kallos can't handle the pressure, it turns back into
coolness. When Sean gets down to her hip, he pulls his hands away
slowly, and she has no pain. Her head and left side is tingling, but
the pain is gone. She looks back at Ian, and he still looks as angry
as he did when Sean first started touching her.
Kallos thinks back to all the times she has really kissed them,
and she realizes that the other one has never been around. When
they are both around, they would only kiss her cheek or forehead,
and she would always grab both of their hands when they are
together. Looking at Ian now, there is something different about
him. He is Kallos’ sweetheart; she thought that she would never
see him mad.
“Is that better, Babe?” Sean asks, and it brings her attention
back to him.
“It is. What did you do?” she looks into his eyes and notices
that they aren’t stormy anymore.
“It’s part of being part demon. I just took your pain and
replaced it with my cooling energy. That’s why you felt the
coolness.” Kallos remembers something that Ian said, that he could
do more damage.
“How many times have you done this?” Sean looks away from
her and starts to bite his bottom lip. That can’t be a good sign.

So yep, that's about it for today! Thanks for visiting!

Blog Tour: Excuse My Fairy by Kinley Baker - Guest Post + Excerpt

Excuse My Fairy

Her magic breaks all the rules. He breaks all of hers.

Draybeth is broken. Her fairy powers don’t work, her magic is completely dysfunctional, and not even her bad attitude and soft heart can win her back into Fairy favor. Exiled from their land, she struggles to make a life for herself in the human world. But when her bar burns to the ground and she meets one of the Impassables--the devastating Lawman Barrett--things become even more of a struggle. An arrest, murder, and abduction challenge everything she’s worked for, and worse, the Impassable Lawman appears to be her destined mate. But darkness stirs deep within Dray’s heart, and she’s not about to drag the gorgeous lawman down with her.

Barrett never expected to find himself mated to a fairy, let alone one with such a wicked temper and a short fuse. Being an Impassable, he should be immune to fairy magic, but Dray’s magic burns through him like lightning, just as everything else about her ignites him, body and soul. The fairy’s power over Impassables threatens everything this new realm was built upon, and as a Lawman, Barrett’s job is to make sure those threats are eliminated. But his feelings for Dray make him question just where his duty lies.

Check it out at Goodreads!

Kinley Baker

Kinley Baker has a terminally tender heart and an inconvenient sense of humor. She loves puppies and cries at celebrity weddings. Kinley believes that romance novels are the keys to world peace, because if you're holding a book, you can't be holding a gun. Kinley supports all supernatural lifestyles and believes "happy ever after" isn't only for the normal. Her books Ruined, Denied and Freed are available now from Crescent Moon Press. Excuse My Fairy is available now from Etopia Press. Look for more in the Misbehaving Magics series and the final book in the Shadowed Love trilogy in 2013.

Time for a short excerpt!

A scream echoed down the hallway and reached Barrett at his desk. He knew they didn’t have a banshee in the vicinity, which always required extra precautions, but his eardrums had never met a sound more sinister than the bellow ringing in his ears.
Captain Syd stormed into the station room, his gaze locked on Barrett.
“Your fairy is driving everyone mad.”
Yep, Barrett had guessed right. His mate was causing a scene. Looked like Barrett would be forced to deal with the consequences.
The rest of the men and women at their desks studied his confrontation with the captain. They weren’t missing any details.
They all knew the fairy was Barrett’s problem, which would reasonably lead anyone to believe the two of them were involved in a relationship. Barrett’s place in the hierarchy among the men just dropped. He was probably going to lose his job.
Barrett pushed back from his desk. “I’ll go talk to her.” Damage control time. Maybe it wasn’t all over.
Captain Syd’s hot breath smacked him in the face. “You better not just talk to her. You better silence her!”
Barrett rarely heard the captain yell. This situation wasn’t going to be easy on anyone. Super.
With a scowl, Barrett headed for Dray. The woman had a sharp hook sunk into his chest. No matter how hard he tried to wiggle free of the catch, the hold buried deeper. She was his problem now. The captain had made the truth public.
Barrett strode toward the prisoner cells. The moment he entered the room, the fairy stopped screaming. He walked right up and glared at her. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Thank the heavens.” The hag two cells down stopped rubbing her temples.
Barrett chose to ignore the older woman.
Dray blinked at him, as wide-eyed and innocent as a doe. Barrett knew well enough not to be fooled.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Barrett’s own anger mounted.
“Tell me.” Dray threw the words out as though she didn’t have a care in the world.
“Everyone knows you’re my responsibility now.” His heart thudded at the admission. The statement wouldn’t go over well with his mate.
Dray’s eyes flared. “Embarrassed?”
That wasn’t even close to what Barrett felt. He had no idea how to put the chaos inside his chest into words. “You’re not making it easy to like you.”
“Ha! Feeling’s mutual.”
He should have known she would throw the sentiment back in his face. “I’m not your biggest fan, either, sugar.”
Dray snorted. “You couldn’t possibly dislike me as much as I dislike you.”
Now it was personal. “Listen, Beth—”
Her eyes bugged at the nickname. He’d seen her full name on her record.
He smirked. “If you think you can come into my station and run that sassy mouth like the Second Ending is coming and the world will parish without hearing your wisdom, you’re sadly mistaken. I should lock you up for the simple reason that someone thought it was a nice idea to match your surly little temper with those soft and sexy curves.”
Her mouth dropped open.
Using his index finger, he brushed his calloused skin against her soft chin and pushed up so her lips pressed together again. And in that insane moment, he wanted to kiss her.
She smacked his hand. Pain sizzled along his nerves. “If you ever touch me again, I’ll castrate you with my fingernails.”
He looked down at her short, efficient nails, and then back up at her. “You’re welcome to try.”
Her eyes flared, her power shifting behind her gaze. It had been a long time since he’d seen someone this riled. The little firecracker in front of him was set to burst.
“You’re just like every man I’ve ever met.” Dray turned her back on him.
Barrett couldn’t stop the spike of jealousy. How many men had there been? “You’re nothing like every woman I’ve met.” No one else drove him to this level of ball-busted crazy.
Dray’s shoulders hunched, and he couldn’t get a read on her. She refused to continue their conversation, and that was fine with him. He worried about what he might snap at her in his current mood.
His mobile buzzed, a welcomed distraction, and he quickly read the message.
“Jiva’s here to bail you out.” He had no idea how Jiva had known where her friend was. He hadn’t known how to get a hold of the succubus.
Dray continued to stare at the back wall. Barrett couldn’t see any part of her face. A moment of helplessness overwhelmed him. What was he supposed to do with this fairy? He had no idea how to proceed. “Be careful.” He couldn’t prevent himself from warning her. “Don’t go anywhere alone. The soul-sucker is still out there.” He’d never forgive himself if something happened to her, even if his temper peaked at his max.
She didn’t glance back or acknowledge him.
“Please, be careful.” His words scratched from a dry throat.
A long silence stretched. “I don’t need you to protect me.”
Her words struck him in the gut. Air puffed out of him. Rejection raged through him, uncontained. Wasn’t that the point? The little fairy didn’t need him at all. He chose to walk away then. She’d made it clear she wanted nothing to do with him. Maybe he would make it easy on her and just walk away for good.
He turned his back. No matter how much he wanted to give up on their torrid relationship, that wouldn’t be possible. It looked like they would both have to see this through to the end, whether that end included happiness or death.

And now, Kinley's joining us with a short guest post!

Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog! I can completely relate to always loving books because I’ve been reading romance for over ten years, and this has always been my favorite kind of story. Happy endings are definitely the best and entirely necessary.

It doesn’t really matter what genre I’m reading as long as there is some type of focus on the relationship. I think we can really learn a lot about human nature from these books.

Lately, I’ve been on a huge contemporary kick. Something about relationships set in the real world is really intriguing me lately.

That makes me realize that I definitely go through phases. I get obsessed with the paranormal and then that’s all I read. I’ve gone through this with contemporary and historical, too. That must be why my Shadowed Love series has elements of all three.

I enjoy mixing it up with the genres. A lot of romance readers seem to be willing to go along on the adventure as long as they can relate to the characters.

What do you think? Is there a particular kind of romance you like? Or does anything with a romance storyline work for you?

We all have our preferences, but I also find that when we step out of the box, sometimes we discover more things that we never knew we’d like.

So yep, that's about it for today! Thanks for visiting! :)

Blog Tour: Visionary Unleashed by N. Dunham - Promo

Visionary Unleashed

Sixteen-year-old Aislinn Lee Murphy accidentally unleashes her hidden ability to see things before they happen, making her a Visionary. But little does she know that this amazing gift comes with a severe price. She must never tell a soul or she risks putting herself and her family in great peril.

A Visionary is someone who has been chosen to see the future and has the benefit of having spirit animals to guide and protect them, but there is a secret agency whose sole purpose is to terminate all Visionaries and Aislinn has become their next target.

Check it out at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

N. Dunham

N. Dunham is an author, wife, mother of two children and two precocious dogs. She earned her MSW from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work in West Hartford, CT.

N. Dunham's interest in reading and writing didn't come until early adulthood. She enjoys works of many genres and has a passion for the arts.

VISIONARY-UNLEASHED was inspired by New England's natural beauty and wildlife (especially red-tailed hawks).

Check out Chapter 1 now!

Chapter 1

Disturbing, yellow eyes stare at me with implication and an ear piercing cry startles me beyond measure. It’s calling me. It wants me to come closer. I freeze not knowing what to do.

My heart begins to beat faster and faster, my ears start ringing, and my fingers clench the sides of my bed. Instantly, I sit straight up in my bed and find myself covered in a cold sweat. It’s only a dream. I’ve had this dream before. There is no message of any sort. It is the same dream time and time again. Something wants me to come closer and for some strange reason I can’t seem to see what that something is. You would think that after having this same dream over and over again that I would fully remember it or begin to make some sense of it, but no.

After a deep sigh of relief that this is only a dream, I peek out my window and find that today is like every other day in March so far. The weather is cold, wet, and damp. I keep hoping for the first actual sign of spring but you never know what you’re going to get in Hingham, Massachusetts or any part of New England for that matter. One day it’s warm, the next it’s cold, and the next it’s a crap shoot. I open my window hoping to feel the opposite of how it looks outside, but all I get is the expected cold draft.

Should I wear my worn out brown boots with the fur or go with my pink flip flops in the hopes that the weather will magically change? Feeling unlucky, I grab the boots and put them aside. Between being a high school student and living in the quaint shoreline town of Hingham, I tend to choose my clothes very wisely. If one dares to dress what’s considered unconventional to the high school’s “matriarchs”, then you can forget about being treated fairly, let alone being popular. One wrong move and I can easily be classified as being a loser.

Outsiders think that our high school is a bunch of snobby, rich kids. But I beg to differ. I believe that we are all individuals and that we should be treated based on who we are and not where we come from. I consider myself to be fairly accepted in the high school environment. I’m not one of the cute and popular cheerleader girls but I make my presence known. I have a handful of wisely chosen friends and I try to get along with pretty much everyone.

After much debate with my mirror, I throw on a pair of dark blue jeans with little holes in them and an oversized pink sweatshirt with a hood. These are probably my mother’s least favorite jeans. She can’t seem to understand why anyone would want holes in their jeans. She doesn’t seem to get the fact that fashion trends change every decade or so and that jeans that have to be ironed are just not cool. She keeps offering to take my jeans to her seamstress and I always grin and say, “No thank you, Mother.” She hates when I call her mother.

I have absolutely no ambition to go to school today. I have math homework that’s due and I can barely get through the beginning without feeling a sense of hatred for that class. Do you really need math in life? I mean I can add, subtract, multiply and divide, but the other stuff- come on! And my teacher, Mr. Grant, doesn’t make things any better. He is a thorn in my side, front, and back! I look at the clock and remind myself that I have exactly seven minutes until it’s time to leave for school. I’ve got the time thing down to a science, although I am still usually late by a couple of minutes. I scurry down the stairs nearly tripping over my dog, Otis.

Otis, my loyal buddy. One who hasn’t told my secrets or laughed at my mistakes. The one true friend that I love dearly. “Sorry Otie,” I say to him. That’s my nickname for him. He just pants and licks my leg. Why can’t friends be more like dogs with the exception of the licking part? Otie is about 10 years old now. That’s like seventy in dog years they say, but whose counting? He is a black, Affenpinscher. A rather rare breed, like myself, lol. He’s very healthy and has a beautiful shiny coat of fur. I can’t picture my life without him. Who else would listen to me complain about friends who are shallow and boys who are players? I think Otie knows more about me than my own parents. I give him a kiss on his furry little head and he follows me towards the kitchen.
“Aren’t you going be late?” yells my mother.

“Aren’t I usually?” I respond in a curt manner as I grab a banana and a store-bought blueberry muffin. That would be the day that my mother has time to bake. She sips her coffee in her “to-go” coffee mug which smells so good but tastes so bad.

“What’s the matter with you this morning?” my mother questions as she stares at me with worry.
“Nothing, I just…I’m just not excited to go to school that‘s all,” I reply while putting together my belongings. My mother gives me this confused look with a small smile trying to understand me. She must be thinking about what she did wrong or how she have raised me better. She’s probably telling herself that she should have gone to more of my soccer games when I was younger or paid more attention to me.

My mother and father started this internet consulting business when I was in first grade. They help failing companies strive by changing their marketing strategies and a bunch of boring stuff like that. It took off and did extremely well. However, ever since then I feel like I have lost touch with them. They are always so busy. I don’t even feel comfortable telling them my problems or anything at all for that matter.

I can remember this one time in third grade when my bus got into an accident because the bus driver was distracted by the radio, or so that’s what people say. He plowed right into a telephone pole. I was really scared. My purple Polk-a-dot book bag and matching lunchbox went flying up to the front of the bus. I fell off my seat because I was sitting on my knees drawing pictures with my finger on the window next to me which had a thick layer of water vapor on it. I can still remember the picture that I was drawing. It was a picture of me and my father flying kites and then all of a sudden, BOOM! Out of nowhere, I felt this jarring force hit my body and I went flying off the seat into the brown plastic seat in front of me. There was no warning. Nothing. I thought that somebody had pushed me. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what actually happened until I was much older. I remember my mother being called to the scene along with the other parents. I can remember her holding my hand and then releasing it to answer a phone call. That must have been one important phone call because she never did grab my hand back again. I looked around and saw the other parents holding onto their children and I remember looking back at my mother waiting for her to do the same. She never did. I suppose she figured that I was fine since there were no injuries.

It’s now 7:30 am and I need to go, pronto. I grab my little Coach purse, cell phone, and keys and run to my car. I hop into my little Honda Civic Hybrid that my mother and father bought me for my sixteenth birthday last September. I can’t wait to see what they’ll get me this year when I turn seventeen.

The Hybrid is an economical car and I really like it. Alabaster Silver Metallic is the color. I just like saying it because it sounds so upscale. Efficient in gas and small enough to get into those tight little spaces that aren’t meant to get into. Every time I get into my little Hybrid, I can’t help but think that my parents are buying my love in place of spending time with me. Lack of attention and lack of quality time can be fixed by material goodies, right? I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on them. I know they love me.

As I am about to pull out of the driveway I see my mother running towards the car. “Aislinn! Aislinn Lee!” she yells. I roll down the window to see what she’s so frantic about. “Aislinn, tonight is our dinner party with Mr. and Mrs. Lambert,” she blurts out while trying to catch her breath. The Lambert’s are both college professors at Harvard University in Cambridge. They live here in Hingham. I can’t imagine driving that daily commute. Although, now that we have a new commuter rail service in town, I’m sure they probably both take advantage of that, but still, what a commute. They are both very serious people. They are perfect for one another. I just don’t think that it‘s going to be the most exciting dinner, but at least the food will be good since it’ll be catered.

“You need to be here by 6:00 pm sharp and try to look presentable,” she instructs me with an ever so serious voice. My parents are desperately hoping that I decide to go to Harvard and become something amazing. I thought that I already was amazing. They think that by being friends with professors that I will have a better chance of getting accepted to Harvard when the time comes. As if I couldn’t do it on my own. Shouldn’t the cost of tuition alone be an automatic entry? I nod and smile trying to look excited but I’m most definitely not and I know that she can tell. I know that they want the best for me but I need to figure that out on my own. I’m thinking of maybe going to college somewhere more exciting and tropical, like Florida or a California College.

“Aislinn Lee! Are you wearing contacts?”

“What? No! Why?” I ask her.

“Your eyes! They look different,” she says while reaching for my chin.

“Mom! My eyes are fine,” I say while moving away from her hand.

“I have to go. I’m going to be late!” I fret.

“Ok. Well, have a good day,” my mom says sounding hesitant.

“Bye mom.”

As I try to make it on time by driving exactly at the speed limit and not a mile more, I can’t help but to physically cringe at every red light that I seem to be hitting. To top it off, I am behind a slow horse trailer which is carrying two large, beautiful horses. They look like Thoroughbreds. One is a dark black and the other is a chestnut brown. As I sit behind one of my many red lights, I start to picture myself jumping onto one of the horses and taking off to a land that doesn’t really exist. I picture myself riding bareback on the horse with my long, wavy, dirty-blonde hair flowing in the wind. I feel free. Free to be myself and free to do as I please. I can actually hear the galloping footsteps of the horse and then the repulsive sight of a never ending supply of poop breaks my trance. “Beautiful!” I say aloud with an edge of cynicism.

Luckily, I find a decent parking space considering I am late again. I decide to put on some pink strawberry flavored lip gloss which makes me feel pretty and then I spray on some fruity body spray. You never can smell too good. Then I notice one of the infamous basketball players staring at me from two cars down. Justin Maselin. He has platinum blonde hair, dimples, and a huge head. Literally. Great! Just great! Now I have an audience. I pretend like I don’t care. I shut my car doors, and beep my car alarm twice, for extra security and to show off a little.

As I enter my beloved math classroom, I can feel Mr. Grant’s eyes watch me sneak in. “You’re late Miss Aislinn Lee Murphy.” He couldn’t just say my first name. He had to say my whole name. Really! And how does he know my middle name anyway? Does he stay up late at night staring at our names on his roster because he has no life? Yeah, probably I think to myself. “Sorry Mr. Grant,” I say with an embarrassed shade of red on my cheeks.

Mr. Grant is a middle-aged, angry, lonely man. He has dark hair that sweeps to one side and large glasses that don’t flatter his angular face. He doesn’t socialize much with the other teachers and always has this constipated look on his face.

I take a seat quietly in the back next to my friend Star. I wished that I had a cool name like Star or Moon for that matter. I was blessed with the old Irish name of Aislinn. Who ever heard of Aislinn?
Star looks at me strange and points to her eyes. I give her a confused shrug of the shoulders.

“Contacts,” she whispers.

“No,” I whisper back.

What is with everyone thinking that I’m wearing contacts. I dig through my purse looking for a mirror. Found one. They look fine to me. I don’t know what everyone is talking about?

Star smiles at me and shows me her phone letting me know that she has just sent me a text. I check my phone. She text, “look who’s sittin in front of u, lol.” I look up at her and smile. The boy sitting in front of me is none other than Frank Connolly. He is, in my opinion, the cutest basketball player at Litchbury High. I don’t normally go for the jock type but he is different. He has a sweet disposition and I am sweet on him. The other jocks act like they own the school. I text back, “I can smell his cologne. Yummy yum-lol.” If anyone else ever read that text message I would be mortified but Star is a close friend of mine and I don‘t think that she would ever share that text considering that I have many juicy texts that she has sent me in the past. She giggles and Frank turns around and gives us a look. Star and I look at each other and smile.

Just then I notice Austin Michaels staring at me. Austin Michaels is my ex-boyfriend. The sight of him repulses me. We basically went out when I was a sophomore. Stupid me thought that he was a nice boy. A nice boy who, was pretty good looking and fairly popular.

We went out to a movie once and the next day he spread rumors about me to everyone. He spoke of things that I didn’t even know about. When I found out from my friend Star, I was humiliated. How could he do that to me? I never so much as kissed the boy and he’s telling people all sorts of things that are not true. I asked him about it in the cafeteria one day and he began laughing at me. I broke up with him right then and there.

I guess I’ll never understand some people. It’s rather sad really. The fact that he had to make up stuff to look popular. Well, I believe in karma and one day he will experience the negative consequences for his actions. I roll my eyes at him and try to focus on math.

I decide that I am going to try and draw some positive attention to myself and participate in class for once. Participation is good right? Mr. Grant asks the class a question about quadratic functions and I happen to know the answer. I eagerly raise my h and, but he glances right over me, deliberately I’m sure, and calls on someone that doesn’t even have their hand raised. Mr. Grant asks another question to the class. This question I do not know, but Mr. Grant calls on me. What? Why is he calling on me? I look up and find that my hand is still raised in the air. I must have been lost in my thoughts. “Um, never mind, I forgot,” I mutter. Mr. Grant then goes on to remind students to only raise their hand if they have an actual answer. Like that general statement wasn’t geared towards me. Star shoots me a look of bewilderment. Positive attention my ass! What was I thinking?

Later, Star and I select our lunches which by the way are not that bad given the fact that they are indeed “school lunches”. Star goes for the turkey wrap and I decide to get the chicken fingers with the veggie of the day. It also comes with a side of cole slaw and a peach fruit cup. “I’ll meet you at the condiment area chicky,” Star says.

“Ok chicky,” I tell her as I am trying to enter my number into the pin pad. I keep fumbling on the numbers and I can sense the lunch lady getting a little frustrated with me. “Take your time,” she says. But, what she really means is hurry up.

I finally make my way over to the condiment area. I pump exactly three squirts of barbecue sauce ever so neatly in my tray. I grab some napkins and make my way over to sit with Star, Jeannette, and Ricky.

Jeanette came to our school this year from a private school. She is a tall brunette with gorgeous green eyes. She has super long eyelashes that I envy. I have to apply mascara several times to get that look and my lashes still don’t look that long. She’s really into reading and the arts. She has so much information about many different random things. I definitely enjoy her company.

Ricky has been friends with Star and me since grade school. He is currently exploring who he is. He doesn’t have many male friends at the school. The other boys are just intimidated by his flawless fashion sense and his tendency to be on the more mature side. Star and I love this about him. When he matures, I can definitely see him as a male model. He has it all. Perfect hair and a perfect body. He is unlike the other self-centered guys at school. He has thoughts and opinions that aren’t selfish. He is also a blast to be around. He is our shopping fashionista.

As I approach the table where my friends are sitting, I suddenly slip without warning and my feet fly into the air. My tray of food ejects into the sky, and everything seems to be moving in slow motion. I can see the food particles from my tray floating in the air. I can see the heads of students turning to look at me. I can even see the apple sauce that someone neglectfully forgot to pick up off the floor.
My head slams into the hard, cold, concrete floor. That is all I remember of that moment in the cafeteria. That is the last time that I was really “me”.

I wake up and find myself in a hospital room. I look around and see my mother and father. “Where am I? What happened? What I am I doing here?” I frantically ask while trying to figure out what is going on. I try to sit up only to find out that I have zero physical strength at this time.

“You are in the hospital, you’re going to be fine,” my mother reassures me.

“Fine? Fine from what?” I ask.

“Don’t you remember dear, you fell,” she tells me.

“I fell?” I question with disbelief.

“At school,” my father chimes in.

I look up and see my mother standing over me. I glance at my father on the other side of me. Then I notice my clothes folded up on the bed side table.

Suddenly, I begin to recall some of what happened. It is still so blurry though. “I fell,” I utter softly as I start to fade back to sleep. The painkillers that the hospital administered to me must be very strong. I keep going back and forth from being awake to completely out of it. I feel drowsy. I have never felt as tired as I do right now and I have never had this much difficulty keeping my eyes open. Although, I do tend to feel like this on occasion in math class from time to time.

Time elapses and I sleep for about eleven hours. I’m abruptly awakened by a creak at my door. I look around and notice that my parents are nowhere to be found. The clock reads 1:15 am. I feel a hand on my head and then I look into the eyes of someone who appears to be a doctor. I am a little startled at first. I feel relieved when the man tells me not to worry and that he is just checking my vitals. It seems like some things are so clear and others so murky. Thoughts seem to pop into my head with no warning.

Ok, I think. It is a little early in the morning if you ask me but I suppose he is just doing his job. He doesn’t introduce himself which I find a little odd. He then goes on to ask me if I have been seeing things or experiencing anything unusual. I tell him the only thing unusual is the pain I have in the back of my head. “I see,” he says sounding doubtful. He stares at me like he is waiting for me to say more. His hair is covered in a hospital hat of some sort and his mouth is also covered. It’s as if I have some airborne contagious disease. Something doesn’t feel right here. I have the gut feeling that he is looking for something else. But what?

I hear the chatter of nurses outside complaining about not getting enough over-time or something of that matter. I look around my bed for the call button and I spot it on my right side. I hit it and groggily murmur, “I think I need something to drink.” I try to act a little dazed and confused knowing that I am not. Where are my parents I begin to wonder?

A nurse with short, vibrant, red hair comes in and asks what she can do for me. She looks at the man in my room who is dressed like a doctor and asks, “Working late Doctor?” She looks at him with a peculiar stare as if she has no idea why he is in here this late. Maybe it is just my imagination working over time but things seem a little out of place to me. “Just making my rounds,” he says as he slips out of the room.

The nurse looks at me and says with a chuckle, “You have had so many doctors stop by, I can’t keep track of their names.” She seems embarrassed. I smile trying to show compassion. Even though I am the one in pain I always tend to get drawn into others sorrows.
“Where are my parents?” I ask.

“They are sleeping in the room next to you. Would you like me to wake them?” she questions as she pours me some cold water in a cup. I nod my head in agreement and she goes out to get them.
My father comes in. “Hi honey,” he whispers to me. I am so glad to see him.

“Dad, I need to get out of here, I need to go home,” I plead in a very tired voice.

“You can go home tomorrow, it’s late. Try to rest. I will stay here with you. I promise,” he tells me.

“I’m sorry about messing up our dinner plans with the Lambert’s,” I say apologetically.

“Oh, don’t you worry about that kiddo. We’ll see them another time. Get some rest,” he whispers as he kisses my cheek. I take his hand and hold it while falling back to sleep.

The next morning feels more promising. I wake up and see my Dad sleeping in a chair next to my bed. He looks so peaceful. He really did stay the night. I notice that I feel very refreshed and more like myself. I get up trying not to wake my father and look for my clothes. I soon realize that I can’t put them on. They are filthy. They are covered with my wonderful choice of lunch that I chose yesterday. “Ugh!” My mom comes in at that very moment with a gym bag in her hands and tells me that she has clean clothes for me. That’s a relief. For a moment there, I thought I might actually have to go home wearing those disgusting clothes. I can’t express how fast I am getting dressed and how quickly I want to get out of here. I hate being in Hospitals and last nights encounter was too eerie for me.

My mother and I start to pack up my belongings when Dr. Schwarz comes in. He has been my pediatrician since I was born. He is an older man who has a slight limp when he walks. He has a large grin on his face. “Hi guys,” he says in a very cheery voice.

“Good morning Doctor,” says my mom so professionally and yet somewhat seductively. Dr. Schwartz walks over to me and examines the back of my head. Doctor Schwartz looks at me and says, “Looks like you’re ready to go home Aislinn. But, you’ll have to come back and see me next week so I can see how you’re healing, ok?”

“No, problem,” I reply. At this point, I’ll promise anything just to get out of here.
“Say, Dr. Schwartz. How many doctors have been checking on me?” I dare to ask him before he leaves.

“Doctors? Why it’s just me Aislinn. Unless you’re shopping for a new one,” he jokes. My mother laughs. He hands my mother a brochure to take home on head injuries. Apparently, I suffered a slight concussion. They say it’s more dangerous if you hit your head from the side. The brain reportedly goes back and forth in a linear fashion therefore possibly causing serious harm. But lucky for me, I hit my head in the back. I was hoping to get more time off from school but it looks like I will be in attendance bright and early tomorrow morning.

I feel a strange and uneasy feeling all of the sudden. Who was that man in my room early this morning and what did he really want? I decide not to say anything. I don’t want Dr. Schwartz or my parents thinking that I’m crazy. They might try to keep me here another day and I’ll be damned if I let that happen. As we exit the hospital, I tell my parents to go ahead of me and that I’ll catch up in a couple of minutes. I make up some excuse that I left my watch behind and I hurry back towards the room. When they’re out of sight, I take a sharp turn to the nurse’s station and ask them about the red headed nurse that was working last night. The woman at the desk tells me that they haven’t seen her since early this morning and that maybe she went home early. I go back to my room and look around for anything suspicious. Nothing. I look at the information log on my door to see the names of doctors who have entered my room. There is no mention of any other doctor coming in besides Dr. Schwartz. That’s strange!

That's all for today, thanks for visiting! :)

Blog Tour: Double Helix Series by Jade Kerrion - Promo + Review + Giveaway

Double Helix Series
Perfection Unleashed, Perfect Weapon, Perfect Betrayal
Jade Kerrion

About The Double Helix series: 

His genetic code sourced from the best that humanity offers, Galahad embodies the pinnacle of perfection. When Zara Itani, a mercenary whose abrasive arrogance exceeds her beauty, frees him from his laboratory prison, she offers him the chance to claim everything that had ever been denied him, beginning with his humanity.

Perfection cannot be unleashed without repercussions, and Galahad’s freedom shatters Danyael Sabre’s life.

An alpha empath, Danyael is rare and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. He wields the power to heal or kill with a touch, but craves only privacy and solitude—both impossible dreams for the man who was used as Galahad’s physical template.

Galahad and Danyael, two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, and the other to escape it.

Perfection Unleashed
Book 1

Genre: Science fiction (Dystopian)

ISBN: Perfection Unleashed 1469980355
ASIN: Perfection Unleashed B008E98YFM

Number of pages: 212
Word Count: 87,000 words

Cover Artist: Jason Alexander

Two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, the other to escape it.

Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted--a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention.

When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives--the in vitros, clones, and mutants--collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab's search for perfection, descend upon Washington, D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war.

Although the genetic future of the human race pivots on Galahad, Danyael does not feel compelled to get involved and risk his cover of anonymity, until he finds out that the perfect human being looks just like him.

Perfect Weapon
Book 2

You can defeat your enemies, but can you defeat your friends?

Danyael Sabre, an object of desire, would much rather not be. An alpha empath by birth, a doctor by training, and an empathic healer by calling, he is stalked by the military that covets his ability to kill, not heal. He finds himself on the run under the protection of an assassin, Zara Itani.

Bereft of two days of memories, the more he uncovers of his lost hours, the more he doubts everything that once anchored him. He knows only that he endangers those around him and that he is falling in love with Zara, who hates him for reasons he no longer remembers.

As forces—both powerful and ruthless—threaten those he cares for, Danyael has only two options. He can betray his values and abandon the path of the healer, or he can wait to be betrayed, not by enemies, but by his friends.

PERFECT BETRAYAL is the second novel in the award-winning Double Helix series.

Perfect Betrayal
Book 3

Don’t fear the army of genetically engineered perfect killers. Fear the cripple who leads them.

An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre is powerful, rare, and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. Betrayed by his friends and abandoned to a life sentence in a maximum-security prison, Danyael receives freedom and sanctuary from an unlikely quarter—the Mutant Assault Group, an elite mutant task force within the US military. Physically crippled and emotionally vulnerable, Danyael succumbs to the warmth of friendships and the promise of love he finds within their ranks.

Friendship and love, however, demand his loyalty, and Danyael rises to the challenge of training and leading the assault group’s genetically modified super soldier army. The super soldiers are faster and stronger than the military's human soldiers; their animal instincts spur ferocity and fearlessness in battle. But who is the perfect weapon—the super soldiers or Danyael, the alpha empath, who can, with a touch, heal or kill?

Adversaries swarm, like vultures around carrion; the pawn is once again in play. The threads of betrayal that sent Danyael to prison spin into a web, ensnaring him. When a terrorist group strikes Washington, D.C., how far will Danyael go to defend a government that sent him to prison to die?

PERFECT WEAPON is the third novel in the award-winning Double Helix series.

About the Author:
Jade Kerrion, author of the award-winning science-fiction/dystopian series, DOUBLE HELIX, first developed a loyal reader base with her fan fiction series based on the MMORPG Guild Wars. She was accused of keeping her readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. And then she wondered why just screw up the time management skills of gamers? Why not aspire to screw everyone else up too? So here she is, writing books that aspire to keep you from doing anything else useful with your time. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her wonderfully supportive husband and her two young sons, Saint and Angel, (no, those aren't their real names, but they are like saints and angels, except when they're not.)

Here is the first chapter of Perfection Unleashed for you to read! This was the chapter that I read an excerpt of and then realised I had to read this series. And then I realised I was supposed to review it. One of the more interesting excerpts for me.

On another Friday night, she might have been out at a Georgetown bar, accepting drinks from attractive men and allowing them to delude themselves into imagining that they might be the lucky one to take her home.
Tonight, she had work to do.
The hem of the white lab coat brushed about her legs as she strode toward the double doors that barred entry to the western wing. No one paid her any attention. Scientists and lab technicians scurried past her, nodding at her with absent-minded politeness. On Friday evening, with the weekend beckoning, no one thought about security.
Where men faltered, technology kept going.
The corridor seemed endlessly long, and the security cameras that pivoted on their ceiling-mounted frames bore into her back. She knew that her image likely featured on one or more of the many monitors at the security desk, but a combination of training and nerves of steel steadied her. She resisted the urge to twitch or to hurry her pace.
Each step brought her closer to an ominously glowing red eye on the security panel beside the door. Undeterred, she waved her badge over the panel. Moments later, the security panel flashed to green and a heavy lock slid back. Another small triumph. It usually took a series of them to make a victory.
She lowered her head, ostensibly to look down at the tablet in her hand. Her long, dark hair fell forward, concealing the lower half of her face from the security camera as she walked through the open door. “Entering the western wing,” she murmured, trusting the concealed microphone to pick up on her whisper.
“Good luck,” Carlos’s voice responded through the tiny earpiece inserted in her right ear. “All’s clear out here.”
“I’m really glad the security pass I programmed for you actually worked,” Xin added, a whimsical tone in her voice.
Zara was glad, too. She had a solid plan. Two of her finest associates backed her up—Carlos Sanchez waiting in the car concealed off road outside Pioneer Labs, and Mu Xin poised in front of a computer in her Alexandria home—but she could come up with a list of a half-dozen things that could still go wrong.
“I’ve finished checking the employee log against the National Mutant Registry,” Xin continued. “You’ve lucked out, Zara. Apparently Pioneer Labs isn’t big into hiring mutants. You won’t have to contend with any telepaths or telekinetics tonight.”
Good. That was one thing she could strike off her list.
Another long hallway stretched in front of her, but the glass-enclosed research station on the left drew her attention. Two lab technicians huddled around a network of computers, their attention focused on the output pouring from the whirling terminals. Her gaze drifted over the lab technicians and focused on Roland Rakehell and Michael Cochran, the famous co-creators of “Galahad”, the perfect human. The two scientists stood in contemplative discussion in front of a liquid-filled fiberglass chamber.
The man floating within the sensory deprivation tank, his head encased in a metallic hood and his face covered by breathing apparatus, writhed in agony. Wires monitoring heart rate and brain waves trailed from his naked body. Jagged edges leaped hysterically off the computer readouts as mind and body convulsed, shuddering with madness and pain.
One of the lab technicians spoke up, “Professor, his brain waves indicate that he is waking.”
Roland Rakehell glanced at his watch. “Right on time,” he noted, his voice tinged with disappointment. “I guess the miracles can’t come thick and fast every single day.”
“We made him human, not superhuman,” Michael Cochran said. “Besides, we don’t really have time to record a miracle today.” He glanced at the two technicians. “Roland and I are meeting investors for dinner, and we have to leave now. Take Galahad back to his room. Make sure he gets something to eat.”
Silently she pushed away from the viewing area and continued down the corridor. Her violet eyes betrayed the faintest flicker of confusion and consternation.
She would never have imagined it, but apparently the scientists had no qualms treating their prized creation like a common lab animal.
“Xin?” she murmured quietly.
“Right here,” was the immediate response.
“Approaching the suite.”
“I’m one step ahead of you,” Xin said. “I’ve gotten through the security system and rerouted all the cameras in the suite to a static video feed. You’re clear to enter.”
The second door opened into a large suite pressed up against the western wall of the laboratory complex. No gentle ambient lighting there, just harsh pools of unforgiving white light blazing over the bed and table, leaving the rest of the large suite in muted shadows.
Was it through deliberate design or neglectful oversight that no attempt had been made to humanize Galahad’s living quarters? Empty shelves lined the wall. The small metal table and matching chair were severe, the narrow bed unwelcoming. She had seen third-world hospital wards offer far more comfort to its occupants.
Footsteps echoed, drawing closer, and then paused outside the door. There was no time to waste. She strode across the room, slipping into the shadows that obscured the far side of the suite moments before the door slid open again.
The two technicians she had seen earlier half-dragged, half-carried Galahad into the room. It staggered with exhaustion, trying to stand on its own. The technicians hauled Galahad up and dumped it unceremoniously in a wet, shivering heap on the bed.
One of the technicians cast a backward glance at the unmoving figure on the bed. “Pete, are you sure he’s going to be okay?” he asked the other.
“Eventually. It usually takes him a while to recover,” Pete assured the younger man. He pulled out two sealed nutrient bars from his pocket and tossed them onto the table. “Let’s go.”
“I think we should at least get him a towel or put him under the sheets.”
Pete snapped. “How many times do I have to say it? Let him be, Jack. He doesn’t want to be helped, though God knows I’ve tried often enough. He wants to be able to do things for himself, at least here, in this room. It’s the only dignity he has left; let’s leave that to him.”
“It was bad today.”
The older man inhaled deeply, sparing a quick glance back. Galahad trembled so hard it seemed as if it would shatter. It curled into a fetal ball, perhaps to protect itself from further violation. “I know. And the best thing we can do for him right now is leave him alone,” Pete said as he stepped out of the room and allowed the door to seal shut behind them.
The impact was thunderous—not audibly—but she felt it nonetheless. It was the sealing of a prison cell.
Zara had wondered what kind of luxuries and privileges the incomparable Galahad—the pinnacle of genetic perfection—enjoyed. Now she knew the answer.
She watched in silence as Galahad stirred, slowly standing and leaning on the wall for support as it staggered toward the bathroom. She had yet to get a good look at its face, but the blazing light did not leave much of its body to imagination. It was slender but well muscled, powerful and graceful, in spite of its obvious exhaustion—the promise of perfection come into fruition.
She waited through the sound of running water. Patience had never been easy for her, but she possessed the instincts of a hunter closing in on its quarry. Her patience was rewarded when it finally returned to the room, dressed simply in loose-fitting white cotton drawstring pants and a tunic of the same material. As it stepped into the blazing circle of light, her eyes narrowed briefly, and then a faint smile of easy appreciation curved her lips.
She had studied the surveillance video feed Xin had hacked from the central computers of Pioneer Labs the day before, but the wide-angle lenses had not captured anything approximating the full impact of Galahad’s beauty. Its rare and lovely color—pale blond hair paired with dark eyes—stood out and attracted immediate attention, but the longer she looked, the more beauty she saw in its exquisitely chiseled features, as flawless as a Michelangelo masterpiece. Galahad was stunningly beautiful—would be stunningly beautiful, whatever the color of its hair or eyes. The scientists had certainly done well; more than well.
Galahad made its way over to a rattan chair, moving with greater ease. It was regaining its strength, though she did not think that it was anywhere near optimal form, not when it had almost collapsed with exhaustion on the way to the bathroom ten minutes earlier. It curled up in the chair and closed its eyes, looking oddly content, despite the fact that it did not fit very well into the chair. Within a minute, she realized from the even rise and fall of its chest with every breath, that it had fallen asleep.
It was time to get to work.
Galahad did not stir as she silently crossed the room. A*STAR had demanded fresh DNA samples obtained as directly from the source as possible. Hair or skin samples would be acceptable, and both were typically abundant in a bathroom. She pulled test tube and tweezers from the pocket of her lab coat and knelt to examine the bathroom counter.
Something flickered in the corner of her vision.
Instinct and trained reflexes took over. In a flash, her dagger was in her hand. She spun, the black serrated blade slicing outward.
Galahad reacted with uncanny speed. It dove to the side, dropping into a roll and coming up in a battle crouch. Her dagger slashed through the air where Galahad had been standing a moment before. Galahad’s dark eyes narrowed as it assessed her. Its body shifted into motion, preparing to defend itself.
She too reassessed, readjusted. Her attack should not have missed. Galahad’s battle instincts had been trained and polished to perfection. Apparently it was more than a common lab animal.
Her dagger lashed out once again in a graceful, snake-like motion, and Galahad evaded by dodging to one side. The blade sliced harmlessly through the air so close to Galahad that it must have felt the chill breath of the dagger’s passing against its skin.
Galahad’s silent and sinuously graceful movements were driven by so much speed and agility that strength—although abundant—was superfluous. It matched her, step for step, dodging each attack with a grace that made their deadly waltz seem choreographed. There was no doubt that Galahad was good, far better than anyone she had ever contended with. In spite of its obvious fatigue after a long and difficult day, Galahad possessed flawless timing and impeccable spatial precision, allowing it to escape injury by fractions of a second and a hairsbreadth. It had nerves of steel. It taunted her with its proximity and tempted the kiss of her blade, never straying too far as it sought an opening.
She saw the dark eyes glitter dangerously and knew that something in it had shifted, had changed. She thrust her blade at its face.
In less than a heartbeat, it was over.
With a swiftness that left her stunned, Galahad twisted its hand to catch her wrist in an iron grip. It sidestepped, yanked her forward, and drove its knee into her thigh. Her leg weakened and collapsed. Its superior weight drove her to the ground and kept her there without any visible effort.
A perfectly sequenced attack, executed with flawless precision and stunning speed.
Gritting her teeth against the pain, she recognized the inevitable outcome as it eased the dagger from between her nerveless fingers. She cursed soundlessly. She had underestimated its skill, perhaps to her folly. It suddenly released her, pulled her to her feet, and then stepped away from her. Some emotion she could not decipher rippled over its flawless features, and to her amazement, it flipped the dagger over in its hand and held it out, hilt first, to her. “I don’t know why I’m fighting you. You came to kill me; I should thank you for your kindness.”
She reached out and accepted the dagger from Galahad as her mind raced to understand the incomprehensible. Galahad held her gaze only for a moment before it lowered its eyes and looked away. She saw its throat work as it fought an internal battle to suppress its survival instincts, and then it turned its back on her deliberately and walked out of the bathroom.
She could have struck the fatal blow. Galahad was offering her the chance. She could pull Galahad’s head back and apply the faintest pressure to the dagger’s blade across its jugular. She could extract the tissue sample she had been sent to collect, and then leave, her mission completed.
She could not bring herself to do it. Oddly enough, something in her wanted it—wanted him—to live.
“Zara?” she heard Xin’s voice softly inquiring in her ear, her tone concerned.
“I’m all right,” she murmured. “Give me a minute.” She paused by the bathroom door and watched him make his way toward the wide windows. He kept his back to her as he stared out at the manicured lawns around Pioneer Labs. Was he waiting for her to strike?
Well, she could play the waiting game too. She followed him and then turned, casually leaning against the window as she looked up at him, her gaze coolly challenging.
Several moments passed.
Finally he broke the silence. “Who sent you?” he asked quietly without looking at her.
She had expected the question, but not the calm, neutral tone in which it was asked. No anger. No hatred. No fear. Just a simple question, driven more by politeness than by any real need to know. “Does it matter?”
He inhaled deeply and released his breath in a soft sigh as she neatly evaded his inquiry. He tried another question. “Are you from around here?”
“Washington, D.C.”
“I’ve seen media clips of that city. It’s beautiful.”
She offered a nonchalant shrug as a response to his statement. “It’s pretty enough, I suppose. I take it you’ve never been there.”
“I don’t get out much, and the last time was a good while ago.” He shrugged, a graceful motion that belied the bitterness in his voice. “I’ve seen media clips endorsed by Purest Humanity and other pro-humanist groups. There is no place for me in your world.”
It was pointless to deny the obvious, but before she could open her mouth to toss out the retort on the edge of her tongue, an animal-like cry resonated through the complex. It was a ghastly sound, starting at a low pitch akin to the sound a lost puppy might make and then rising until it was a banshee’s scream. “What was that?”
“It’s an experiment in another part of the building.”
“It doesn’t sound like anything I recognize. What is it?”
He tossed her question back at her: “Does it matter?”
“Not if you don’t care.”
“It’s been going on for as long as I can remember.”
His matter-of-fact statement was like fuel to fire. Her eyes flashed. “And you feel nothing? No anger? No pity? You’re inhuman.”
“I thought you’d already decided that,” was his mild rejoinder. “Isn’t that why the pro-humanist groups want me killed?”
She hesitated. Somewhere along the way—she was not even sure when—she had stopped thinking of Galahad as an “it” and had started relating to it as a “he”. She had attributed to him all the responsibilities of being human, but none of its rights or privileges, in effect placing him in the worst possible no-win situation. She recalled his anguished convulsions in the sensory deprivation chamber. How much pity did she expect him to dredge up for another creature in a position no different from his own? Very little. In fact, none at all.
She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. The anger subsided. “Do they conduct experiments on you too?” she asked softly.
He stiffened. Without meeting her gaze, he answered the question, choosing his words with care. “I…yes, they do, sometimes.”
“What did they do to you today?”
He averted his gaze and bit down hard on his lower lip. He shook his head, said nothing.
“You looked like hell when they brought you back. I want to know, please.”
He was silent for so long she thought he was never going to answer the question, but then he spoke in a measured, neutral tone. “They gave me a highly concentrated sleeping pill and then injected a hallucinogen, to induce nightmares. They wanted to see if I could overcome the effects of the sleeping pill to wake up.”
“Did you?’
Another long pause. His reply was a softly anguished whisper. “No.”
“How long did the experiment last?”
“About eight hours, perhaps nine.” He laughed, low and melodic, but it was a humorless sound. “I slept all day, and I’m exhausted.”
“Why do they do that?”
“It’s simple; because they can. Humans and their derivatives, the clones and in vitros, have rights. I’m considered non-human, in large part because of the successful lobbying of pro-humanist groups, and I don’t have rights.” Galahad released his breath in a soft sigh. Long eyelashes closed over dark, pain-filled orbs as he inhaled deeply. He opened his eyes and met her gaze directly, holding it for a long, silent moment. The corner of his lips tugged up again in a bittersweet half smile. “I’m tired. I need to lie down. You can do what you need to do whenever you want.”
“Wait!” She grabbed his arm as he turned away from her. “You want me to kill you?”
“Isn’t that what you came to do?”
“Do you actually want to die?”
He waved his hand to encompass the breadth and width of the impersonal and deliberately dehumanizing room. “I’m not sure this should count as living.”
“But you’re not human.”
“No,” he agreed, his voice even. “No, but I am alive…just like any other human. This isolation drives me crazy. I know this is not the way others live. This isn’t living.”
He looked away. His pain was real, his anger compelling. In spite of it, she had seen him smile a few times and wondered whether his twisted half-smile could ever be coaxed into becoming something more. In silence, she watched as he turned his back on her and walked to his rattan chair. He seemed tired, emotional weariness draining his physical strength. Slowly he settled into the chair, drawing his legs up and curling into a vaguely comfortable position. Apparently he had chosen to deliberately ignore her. He was tuning her out and was once again trying to find solace in the few things he had left, such as a worn chair and his own company, trying to get through each cheerless day and lonely night.
Outside, a rabbit, safe from predators in the falling dusk, emerged from its burrow and hopped across the small patch of grass in front of the large windows of the suite. Zara watched as a faint smile touched his face, briefly transforming it. His personality seemed wrapped around a core that was equal parts weary indifference and tightly controlled bitterness, but there was still enough left in him to savor the small crumbs that life saw fit to throw his way. If his quiet strength had amazed her, his enduring courage humbled her. As she watched him, she knew he had won the battle he had wanted, so badly, to lose. He had proved his right to live, even though there was no purpose in living in a place like this. He knew that fact intimately, and so did she.
Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
“Zara, we’ve got trouble.” Carlos’s voice cut through the silence of her thoughts, his habitual calmness edged with tension. “Lots of vehicles incoming. Purest Humanity logos. Could be a protest forming; they look seriously pissed.”
She took a few steps away from Galahad. Annoyance disguised flickers of anxiety in her voice. “They’re about two days too early. They’ve been gathering on Christmas Eve each year.”
“Well, looks like someone had a change of plans. I’m estimating about forty…fifty cars, at least twice as many people.”
“They won’t get through the gate,” Xin said. “It was designed to keep out APCs.”
“Uh…The gate just opened…Por dios…They’re driving in!”
“No kidding, I swear to God.” The tension in Carlos’s voice escalated. “Someone must be screwing around with the security system.”
Zara suppressed a hiss of irritation. “Find that person, Xin, and disable his access. I don’t want to have to fight my way out of here.”
“I’m on it, but I can’t guarantee they won’t get to you. If they’re already through the gate, they’ll be pounding on the front door in seconds. You don’t have time; get moving. And Zara, if you don’t take Galahad with you, he’s as good as dead.”
Zara’s mind raced through the options available to her, the possibilities. She shrugged, dismissing the many logical reasons why she should not do what she was about to do, and took her first step down her path with a terse and coolly decisive order. “He’s coming with me. I’ll get us out of the building. Carlos, stand by for an extraction.”
“Copy that.”
She stepped toward Galahad. “You need to change into something else.” The thin cotton tunic and pants he wore would not provide sufficient protection from the chilly night air. Besides, his clothes looked like something issued to long-term residents of mental hospitals. Something with fewer negative institutional implications would work better at keeping him as inconspicuous as possible.
He blinked in surprise, her voice jerking him back to reality, and he looked up at her. “There is nothing else to wear,” he said. He released his breath in a soft sigh, his gaze drifting away from her to the rabbit outside the window.
Nothing else? A quick search of the suite confirmed his words. The only pieces of clothing in the suite’s large and mostly empty walk-in closet were several pieces of identical white cotton tunics and pants, a subtle but highly effective dehumanizing strategy. “We’re leaving anyway,” she told him as she returned into the living area of the suite. “Get up. We’re going.”
He stared at her in bewilderment. “Going?”
Zara exercised exquisite politeness and reminded herself to be patient with him. “I’m getting you out of here.”
A glimmer of understanding tinged with wary hope swirled through the confusion in his sin-black eyes, but he still did not move from the chair. “I thought you came to kill me.”
Not precisely, but perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing if he kept believing it, especially if it would make him more tractable. Things were complicated enough; an uncooperative captive would heighten the stakes and the danger of their situation. “I’ve changed my mind.”
“Changed your mind?”
“It’s a woman’s prerogative,” she told him, a wicked smile curving her lips. Her tone softened slightly. As huge as this step seemed for her, it must seem even larger for him. “I want to help you. Will you come with me?”
He met her gaze, held it for a long moment, and then finally smiled. “Yes.”
The simplicity of his answer staggered her, to say nothing of the heart-stopping power of his smile. It was a smile that could melt iron. “You trust me,” she said, “but you don’t even know my name.”
“It would be ungracious not to trust someone who has already passed up on several opportunities to kill me.” He uncurled from his chair and stood. His manners were at least as exquisite as his looks. He made no mention of the fact that he had beaten her in a fair fight and then refused to follow up on his advantage.
Maybe he considered it irrelevant. The important point was that she did not. The fight she had lost had, after all, been the critical turning point. She smiled up at him, suddenly realizing that his dark, fathomless eyes did not seem nearly as distant and empty as they had several minutes earlier. “I’m Zara Itani.”
He smiled faintly, the warmth from his smile briefly lighting up his eyes. “Zara, I’m Galahad.”

Now, I'm gonna write a short review of all 3 books, or rather, the series as a whole. Over the next few days, I will be posting a review of each book. Do look out for it! :)

As a whole, I absolutely loved this series. It was amazing, in so many ways that I can't even begin to describe. From beginning to the end, the books were very well-linked and each book, I felt really showed us a lot of character development. Not only that, it gave us insight to a whole new world, a world that is perhaps not as far away as we think it could be. The characters were extremely well-written with an excellent plot to follow. Simply put, it was an absolute joy reading the books and I simply cannot wait for more.

This is a series that you will definitely not regret picking up. Yes, it may be just a little bit slow for the first few pages of the first book, but trust me, don't give up. Because when you read on, you're gonna be taken into an amazing world, one that you won't want to come out of. Its that world that makes us love reading so much, a world where just for a while, reality doesn't matter.

A solid 4.5 books for this series.


Enter the giveaway here! Just a little side note, When the Silence Ends is a spin-off of the Double Helix series. I read it and absolutely loved it. Just about as much as I loved the entire series. It was really good. Watch out for that review too! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So yep, that's about it for today! Thanks so much for visiting! :)


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