“If you ever need to slice someone’s head off, this is the blade you want,” I said as I lifted a curved sword off the table in front of me. “We’ve been practicing épée and foil so far, but tonight I want to introduce you to the sabre.” The practice sabre’s curved blade reflected the orange streetlight shining in through the window. A grant from the Smithsonian where I worked allowed me to teach my two passions: ancient weapons and their arts. “The sabre is a slashing weapon,” I continued and then lunged, showing the wide-eyed and excited students a few moves. “And in general, it’s my favorite,” I admitted with a grin.
The students laughed.
“Is that why you have it tattooed on your arm?” Tyler, one of my best fencers, asked.
My hand went unconsciously toward the tattoo. The ink was a sword interlaced with other once-meaningful symbols. “That’s not just any sabre,” I said, mildly embarrassed. “Here, let me show you. I brought something special tonight.” Setting the training sabre down, I lifted a rolled bundle. I laid it down on the table and unrolled it to reveal weapons in various elaborate scabbards.
“Some are épée, foils—you can tell by the hilt—a broadsword, a claymore, a katana, a scimitar, throwing daggers,” I said, pointing, “but this, this is a Russian shashka.” I pulled the shashka from the bundle. “It’s like a traditional sabre, but has no guard. She’s light, single-edged, wielded with one hand, and good for stabbing or slashing. Not awkward in close quarters like a Scottish claymore, but it will kill you just as dead,” I said with a smile. I unsheathed the weapon and gave it an under-and over-hand spin around my head, shoulders, and back.
The students grinned from ear to ear.
I put it back in its scabbard and handed the shashka to them. “Pass it around, but keep in mind it is sharp enough to cut a blade of hair in half.” I then turned my attention to Tyler. “Now, since you’re so interested, let’s see how you do with the sabre.” I tossed one of the training swords to him.
Tyler, already in his gear, jumped up and lowered his fencing mask. “But you’re not in gear,” he said.
I shrugged. “Hit me, if you can.”
We stood at the ready, made the ceremonial bow, and began. Tyler was not overly aggressive, which is partially why he was so successful. He waited for me, moving slowly. He was smart, quick, and often tried to over-tire his opponent.
I waited, dropped my sword a bit, and let him make the lunge. He took the bait.
The swords clanged together, and we clashed back and forth across the strip. He lunged and slashed while I dodged and blocked. He was fast. I was faster. When he lunged again, I ducked. With an upward movement, I went in.
“A hit,” Kasey called.
“Man, that’s what you get for taking on a former state champ—and the teacher,” Trey told Tyler with a laugh.
Tyler pulled off the mask and smiled at me.
Just then, my cell rang. I would usually ignore it, but something told me to answer.
“Everyone pair up and start working with the training sabers,” I said and pointed to the sword rack. I went to my bag and grabbed my cell.
Before I could say hello, she spoke.
“Layla, Grandma needs you to come home,” my grandmother’s voice, thick with Russian accent, came across through static. I was silent for a moment. My grandmother lived 500 miles away, and she never used her telephone. With the exception of her T.V., she hated technology. She’d cried and begged me to take away the microwave I’d purchased for her one Mother’s Day.
“Grandma? What’s wrong?”
“Come home now. Be here tomorrow,” she said. She hung up.
I lowered my cell and stared at it. Confused and worried, I dialed her back. The phone rang, but she did not answer. I had obligations: practice, bills to pay, groceries to buy, tons of work to do, and a date for god-sakes. But my grandmother was the only one I had left in the world.
“Sorry, guys. Emergency,” I called to my students.
Disappointed, they groaned.
“Sorry. Let’s pack it up for the night.” My hands shaking, I slid the shashka back into the bundle and rolled up the weapons. What had happened? Maybe Grandma was sick. Maybe she had some problem. Or maybe she had seen something.
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There was no moving in this moment. Her body afforded her no such luxury, as swirling white mist covered the soft green grass, giving the world an ethereal appearance. Crimson danced against the golden sky as the evening moved in quickly, hoping to make way for its dark lover.
Sam gazed around her, trying to make sense of the familiarity she felt with her setting, but she failed to hold onto the fleeting memory. The soft crunch of grass moving changed everything as realization dawned—she was no longer alone.
Her dark sapphire eyes narrowed, brow creasing as a figure cut through the dense, chalky air. He towered over her by a head or two, and judging by the large expanse of his shoulders, he often left the gym stained in his scent. As his shape continued to gain clarity, from color and size to the defined lines of a life well lived, the swell of anticipation grew within her at the story his facial features might tell.
As he drew close enough for focus, her jaw slackened and her eyes widened with wonder. He was for all intents and purposes a teenager, and yet by his exotic appearance, she guessed him to be a foreigner. Wherever he was from, he was simply beautiful.
He stopped just before her, his gaze locked on hers, and try though she may words escaped her cry for assistance. His piercing jade eyes bore into her, dark orange rays stretching lazily from the iris, his skin seeming to glitter as if kissed by the sun.
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
“For me?” Sam blinked in surprise, taking a hesitant step back.
“Ah, Samantha,” he breathed out, his brow creasing ever so slightly. “Same questions every time, my love. Shall I give you the same answers?”
“W-what a-answers?” She shook her head, attempting to draw in a breath that wasn’t filled with the smell of pure male.
There would be no relaxing in front of him for something was so very familiar and yet alarming to all of her protective senses. Brick by brick, her heart constructed a thick wall that would promise protection. He took a step forward and reached for her hand, but was a bit too late to infiltrate her senses as the wall was up and impenetrable.
She exhaled softly as their skin connected and instinctively let her fingers wrap around his as a sign of friendship. The warmth of his touch sent tingles racing along the corridors of her body and yet still the cold loneliness remained because she demanded it so. No one would ever penetrate her defenses again. Self-preservation had become her lifelong companion simply because life required such company.
Welcome to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Party!
Welcome to the genreCRAVE Science Fiction and Fantasy $1200 Giveaway! We have something really exciting set up for you. First, some KILLER Science Fiction and Fantasy books at a steal, and after that, a chance to enter our $1200 Gift Card Giveaway! Read on for more information, but first, check out the books from our sponsors at the link below!
Here are a couple of sneak peeks!
Ambassador 1: Seeing Red
“What’s on it?”
“You might find it useful. Think of it as some . . . personal advice, from me to you. We’ll talk about it later, when you return for your first briefing.” He shut the drawer with a thud as if closing the subject.
This was highly irregular. “Mr President, can I ask—”
He shook his head, and offered me a drink—Finnish vodka, best in the world, he said. While he poured, his hands trembled.
I should have insisted that he tell me what was wrong, but who was I? An unimportant, sending-out-our-feelers type of diplomat, expendable and twenty years his junior. Not the type of person to draw attention to his problems—with alcohol or otherwise.
We made a toast. The heavy scent of the vodka did nothing to improve my alertness.
“Mr Wilson, when you come back in six month’s time, you must present your report to the general assembly. We need to know in detail what sort of regimes we’re dealing with.”
I didn’t understand why he spoke in such empty generalities; I wondered when he was going to open that folder on his desk and sign the contract. Nicha, my Coldi assistant, was waiting in the foyer. We had a whole heap of work to catch up on. I was annoyed that Sirkonen had changed our meeting time at the last minute—the original meeting had been scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Sirkonen stopped speaking.
I stared at him, realising with embarrassment that I’d been off with the fairies. Was I meant to have said something? Was I breaking rule number one of the diplomatic circle: never show any sign of sleep deprivation?
An attack of dizziness overtook me. My vision wavered, as if the world were painted on a silk flag that flapped in the wind, and all the furniture was rimmed in a red aura. “Mr President, I’m—”
I just managed to put my vodka down. The glass hit the wood with a soft clunk, the only sound in the frozen silence.
There was a small sound from outside, a click.
As if stung, Sirkonen turned to the window; his eyes widened.
The president opened his mouth, but a sharp crack interrupted his words.
A buzz swept over her. No, not simply over her. Into her. She gasped, her inhalation of air drawing more of this unknown presence inside her.
It was too much, almost suffocating. Joan swayed, lightheaded. “Do not faint. Do not faint,” she repeated to herself, closing her eyes.
The rolling under her feet gradually stopped. She opened her eyes and wished she hadn’t. Crimson spray covered everywhere she looked. Gore was splattered into the farthest corners, hanging from the ceiling. Cleaner bots scrubbed the walls and floor.
This was why she felt dizzy, she reasoned. She smelled and sensed this butchery.
C899321, the being she had been told was responsible, stood in his uploading dock, a cable inserted into his nape, his towering form naked, covered with blood, his long black hair dripping with it.
He turned his head, locked his gaze with hers and she sucked in her breath. There were worlds of agony, of rage, in those bright blue eyes. This was no rational, logic-driven cyborg. This was a man, an animal, crazed by bloodlust and pain.
“They thought to pacify me with the use of a human female?” he thundered, his deep gravelly voice clawing across her skin, awakening parts in her she didn’t realize slept. “I’d kill you before I allowed you to touch me.”
This insult didn’t hurt her the way he’d intended. Joan knew she wasn’t the slim tiny female males desired. She was solidly built, good breeding stock, as her mother had once said.
She discarded his words and focused on the torment in his tones. He hurt. Horrifically. Her fingers twitched, the urge to reach out to him, to comfort him, tremendous. Judging by the flex of his powerful biceps and thigh muscles, by the anger radiating from him, he wouldn’t appreciate that response.
He also wouldn’t listen to any command she issued. A reprimand, verbal or physical, would add to his hostility. Some being had already tried to restrain him and failed. The reportedly unbreakable wrist and ankle cuffs attached to the frame of the uploading dock had been shattered, rendered useless.
Joan discarded four solar cycles’ worth of theory on how to handle malfunctioning cyborgs, realizing now that the academy experts knew nothing.
“I would never touch you without your permission.” She lowered her gaze, showing submission, recognizing C899321 as the dominant male he was. He’d seek to harm any aggressor, to protect himself and his territory. If she wasn’t female, she suspected she’d already be dead.
“I also would never hurt you.” Joan stuffed a couple of cleaning cloths into her pockets and dropped to her knees, into a puddle of red. The moisture soaked through her flight suit. “I’m here to serve you, to clean you.”
Entering is easy! Directions are on the Rafflecopter, but as an overview:
THIS GIVEAWAY IS FOR SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FANS ONLY. IF YOU ARE NOT AN AVID READER OF THOSE GENRES, YOUR ENTRY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED. Please do not try to find a way around this. There will be other giveaways Enter this one if you love SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY! Thank you!
With Ties that Bind: A Broken Bonds Novel, Book Two
Love, Christmas Boxed Set
by Scott J. Abel
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Release date: July 23rd 2016
Black Opal Books
Summary from Goodreads:
When the shadows come and your world goes dark, can you hang on until sunrise...or will you give in to the darkness? After a tragic shooting shatters Parker's world, the darkness comes for him. His guardian angel Marie fights to save his soul, but will her love be enough to save him? Eighteen-year old Parker, big brother, and high school quarterback, dreams of glory on the football field. But on the night of the shooting, his entire world shatters. In a chilling span of sixty seconds, a mass tragedy wreaks havoc upon his life, family, and community. Although hailed a hero, Parker is horror-struck to discover an incident from his past was the motive for the killings and that he was the intended target. When someone threatens to get the one that got away, Parker finds himself hunted. Help comes from an unexpected source - an angel named Marie. A spunky, impulsive guardian, Marie is dedicated to saving Parker at all costs. When confronted by a sinister nemesis who covets Parker's soul, a desperate struggle is waged over Parker's fate. With time running out, Marie must face her growing, but secret affections for Parker that she can no longer ignore. Affections that will force her to make the ultimate decision-sacrifice herself and all that she believes, or lose Parker to the darkness forever.
Dawn of the Vie
I hated afternoons the most. Soon after came darkness—the time when a raiding squad could snatch you out of bed and drain all the blood from your body. It was amazing that any Anemies survived with the extermination campaign ridding the world of us red blood cell-deficient freaks.
I gently squeezed my sister’s hand to make sure she kept up. Dirt caked under her fingernails like it caked under mine. The cuff of her torn sleeve had stains like mine. Her pant cuffs were rolled up six times… also like mine. A younger version of me—mouthiness and all—in girl form. Unlike me, Sammie tended to dawdle, and since we held onto the last rung of the society ladder by the tips of our fingers, giving in to distraction could get us hurt—or killed.
My gaze jumped to the pale, indifferent sky then jittered to the partially constructed biodome edge as I walked. Large, clear panels filled the metal framework in a beehive of hexagons. Eventually, the damn thing would cover the entire city, including the river surrounding the island and part of the ocean capping the south side. The project had been progressing since before I was born.
Once the construction workers completed the biodome, Vie wouldn’t have to fear the destructive UV rays of our sun and could wander freely during the day. We’d have no safe period whatsoever. Vie could get us any time.
House of Chaos
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
Sixteen years ago, Tabri showed up in the mountains an orphaned child with the magic of the Chaotics running through her veins. She survived the bitter winter, the wrath of a yeti, and mutinied on the flying pirate ship Stallings, but then the Madnesi came.
Nell’s Furyon bloodline and elemental magic make her the perfect warrior. Perfect to revenge her sister’s death at the hand of a Madnesi Lord, to defend the Chaotic until her magic fully emerges and to defeat the masses of rotting undead who threaten the survival of the Wilders. If only there was more time in the day.
The Earth Stone has given the two companions a path to safety, but Tabri’s magic is on the fritz and Nell has completely lost her mind with grief. Can they hold it together long enough to allow Chaos to shine a light in the darkness, or will the Madnesi destroy all magic in the world along with the prophecy?
Young Adult books come in all shapes and sizes. Some star werewolves or vampires. Some feature magic. Sometimes the world is new. Sometimes itâs a twist on everything you know. There is family. Friendship shows up in spades. Most of the time, you can be sure youâll fall in love.
Itâs a world of literature that so many miss out on because they think the name describes the readerâs age. In reality, YA books are for those who appreciate the wonders of youth. They strive for the optimism and the courage in the face of danger. Yes, teens read these stories in droves, but they arenât the only ones who can learn from the perpetual hope these characters see. To see the world through the eyes of someone who wants to make it better is an astounding thing.
Nineteen young adult authors have banded together to show their little corners of the world, their hope and courage and optimism. It is shown through the actions of teenagers who are ever changing. They love with the same fierceness that they hate and forgive easily. They believe they can do anything. Who doesnât want a piece of that?
When you enter our giveaway, you not only have a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite, but so many more prizes from paperbacks to swag. Every entrant will also receive five FREE eBooks. You can sign up nineteen different ways.
By entering, you are also helping each author donate books to The Lisa Libraries. Itâs an organization that provides books to people in underserved communities who may not otherwise have them. They supply youth centers, womenâs shelters, and so much more.
Like our Facebook page where you can learn more about us and where weâll announce our winners throughout the giveaway!
Introducing our mixed bag of authors!
Michelle Lynn â Dystopian
Rebecca Jaycox - Fantasy
Michelle Bryan - Dystopian
Gina Azzi â Contemporary Romance
Melissa Craven - Paranormal
Kelly St. Clare - Fantasy
Susan Faw - Fantasy
G.K. DeRosa - Paranormal
T.D. Shields - Dystopian
Patrick Hodges - Contemporary
Amalie Jahn â Science Fiction
Claire Luana - Fantasy
K.J. McPike - Paranormal
Michael Bailey - Super Heroes
J.A. Culican - Fantasy
Elysabeth Eldering â Paranormal Mystery
Rita Goldner â Childrenâs
K.R. Conway - Paranormal
T.L. McDonald - Fantasy
GIVEAWAY:Book Heist: Kindle Giveaway
by Ramona Finn
Genre: YA Dystopian
Release Date: September 5th 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
On the brink of extinction, being human means more than just surviving.
In Lib’s world, it’s dangerous to deviate from the norm. In fact, for someone who doesn’t live up to the Artificial Intelligence’s standards, it’s practically a death sentence. Lib learns this the hard way when she wakes up in a barren wasteland, with her memories erased, and only one thought lodged in her mind:
“It’s all my fault.”
Lib is a Glitch—an imperfect human component of the utopian world called the Norm. Now she’s thrown out, Lib will be forced to team up with another Glitch, Raj, and the mysterious Rogue Wolf and his clan to survive. Wolf only cares about the survival of his group, but Raj thinks they can hack the A.I. and change the Norm for the better.
Now, Lib will have to decide which path to choose—whether to go with striking loner Raj or stay with Wolf and his tight-knit group. Her heart is drawn to both, but she’s carrying a deadly secret that could jeopardize them all. Will she be able to save her newfound family and stop the A.I. before it’s too late?
Books are my consuming obsession and giveaways are my everlasting passion! Join me for my bookish journey as I discover new reads and who knows.... you might win something along the way! If you're an author and would like a personal book tour, please e-mail me! I'm extremely PR-friendly!