Allerleirauh: Review + Excerpt

Title: Allerleirauh

Author: Chantal Gadoury

Publisher: Parliament House Press

ISBN: 978-1537868608



Once Upon a Time… In the kingdom of Tranen, a king makes a promise to his dying wife that he’ll only remarry a woman who possesses her golden hair. In time, the king’s eyes are turned by his daughter. Realizing her father’s intentions, Princess Aurelia tries to trick him by requesting impossible gifts: dresses created by the sun, moon and stars, and a coat made of a thousand furs. But when he is successful, Aurelia sacrifices her privileged life and flees her kingdom, disguised by the cloak and a new name, Allerleirauh.

She enters the safe haven of Saarland der Licht, where the handsome and gentle Prince Klaus takes her under his care. Hoping not to be discovered by her father’s courtiers, Allerleirauh tries to remain hidden under her new identity when she finds unexpected love with Prince Klaus, even though his arranged marriage to the princess of a neighboring kingdom approaches. Risking everything, Allerleirauh must face her troubled past and her fears of the future along her journey to self-acceptance in this triumphant retelling of the classic Grimm Fairy Tale.


Excerpt from “Allerleirauh”

“If you ever decide to remarry, you must marry someone who has my golden hair.”

The words echoed in my ears as my mother murmured them to my father. The entire court had gathered there with us in that darkened room with stone walls covered in old tapestries of red and golden threads, watchful eyes of men and women looming over us from the walls.

My mother, the Königin, the queen of Tränen, was dying.

Servants had lit candles across the room, creating a gloomy, death-like ambiance. The only source of light came from the flames, curling out like a snake’s tongue from the fireplace. Many of my father’s councilmen stood murmuring while they waited for the queen’s end to come. They waited for death’s dark cloak to wrap around her like the cape of the goddess, Nótt.

Mother lay in her bed, her form still as her breaths became shallower; her lungs becoming less full of air. Her hair, like spools of golden thread, clung to her pale skin. My father’s hand brushed over her forehead, pushing the strands away. She lifted her hand, touching his, seeking an answer from him.

The contrast of her skin against his was shocking. She was pale—corpse-like, the tips of her fingers already turning a frosty shade of blue. My father kneeled, dressed in a white tunic and tan hunting trousers. His light brown beard seemed thicker than usual. His tired blue eyes, the same eyes that others often commented reflected my own, gazed upon my mother.

He was a handsome man for other women to admire.

He carefully grazed his lips over her knuckles. I could hear his soft murmuring.

“My wife. My poor, lovely Frau.” There had been talk that he had been by her bedside for majority of the night and all through the morning, while I had been kept in my chamber. I was to wait until the end was nearly at an impasse before I was to bid my mother farewell. He had waited upon her on bended knee. It was an unexpected display of affection. My father had never been the affectionate sort, and especially never with me in all my nineteen years.

His gaze drifted toward the line of young maids surrounding the queen’s bedside, all waiting for an order or request. He lifted a hand and beckoned one of them closer. With reddened cheeks, one of the maids took a step toward the bed, offering a warm, wet rag for my mother’s forehead.

My father’s eyes seemed to taunt the maid to come closer as they glittered in the candlelight, a small, amused smirk on his lips as he held out his hand. He knew his effect on women, as did my mother. My father seemed to have always found a strange delight in tantalizing the young women of the court right under my mother’s nose–especially the young maids of the castle. His wandering hands had been an unacknowledged topic between them, and yet had most haunted my mother in her own private chambers.

As I was guided away from my tutoring lessons earlier in the afternoon, I found many of my father’s councilmen murmuring in the hallways. Their conversation had rattled me as they spoke of the queen’s declining health, proclaiming quite loudly their uncertainty of the future of the Königreich, the kingdom. With no male heir, there would be no one with my father’s bloodline to carry the crown. If he were to die, the succession would be uncertain, leaving the kingdom without a König, and I would be left with nothing. There were a few young girls my father had bedded over the many years of his rule, all of whom had come to his knees, begging for acknowledgement, money, or a future for their child. Many of the children were male, all of which my father craved to take under his wing. But as the string of his lovers began to unravel before my mother, she’d quickly banished them and their children from our courts.

“Any male that is not born from me will never be König,” she insisted. My mother feared of finding herself replaced by a younger, more beautiful woman, who would give the king something she could not . . .

A son.

I had been told my mother looked to my father with apologetic grey eyes on the day of my birth. The wet nurse had lifted me, the accursed girlish bundle into the arms of my father as my mother promised, “A son I will give you next time.”

As I grew older, I could see the desperation in her eyes as my father drifted from maiden to maiden, leaving a trail of bastard children in his wake. All while she remained infertile.

As a girl, I was no use to my father. Without a son, the marriage with my mother would always be a failure in the eyes of his court. Because I had not been born a boy, I rarely saw my father. I was only granted permission on special occasions.

My mother hardly paid attention to me either; I was a constant reminder of her failure, her misery, her curse. I had only been permitted to receive an education in writing and reading, and brief history lessons about the kingdom and surrounding countries. I excelled in learning and did what I could to avoid all the other womanly lessons I was expected to learn. I hated the mundane tasks that were deemed appropriate for the fairer sex. My mother did everything she could to keep me tucked away in the castle, out of sight. I was never permitted to join the court for festivities. My mother preferred me to stay in my room or the library, like the castle’s ghost. She wished to pretend I didn’t exist. As my youth began to pass before me, I wondered if I would spend the remainder of my years hidden away behind the stony walls of my father’s castle. I wondered whether, if my mother finally had a son for the king, somehow his birth would release me from the prison which cradled me in my own home.

“Promise me,” my mother hissed at my father presently, as she grabbed his hand. She pushed herself up in the bed with a grunt, to look at him more closely.

I watched them as I clung to the red velvet bed drapes. I could feel myself grow light-headed from the warmth in the room and the array of eyes and voices behind me as they murmured their fears and prayers.

“Promise me,” she begged, her voice cracking as he tucked another golden curl behind her ear. “She must have golden hair, like mine.”

As I watched her glossy strands circled around his fingers, I touched my own loosened curl. My hair was tied back with a black ribbon to match the black gown that Myriah, my nursemaid, dressed me in—a symbol of mourning. And yet, I felt nothing like how a daughter should feel while watching her own mother die.

Perhaps my mother thought her eager demand would bring her peace in the grave. I understood. If she could not be a proper wife, who’d brought him honor with a prince, perhaps her golden-haired replacement could be. Fear surged cold through my hollow ribs as her last breath slipped between her lips, her hand slowly falling from my father’s firm grasp.

A cold shiver ran up my spine as I heard my father’s reply.

“I promise.”

His gaze lifted to me in the quiet moments after. I was my mother’s reflection and her only true legacy. And I knew the king’s promise would become my curse.

My Review:

I absolutely adore the beautiful cover on this, and is what drew me in first. Then I saw that it was based on a Brother’s Grimm fairy tale. Then I read the blurb and was like, “oh yes!”

First, what I liked best about this story was that the girl wasn’t some overly badass who was some magical fighter that seems unreal in most of these fantasy books. Not that I don’t love fantasies with a girl that can kick butt, but sometimes you just want a story where the girl is strong in another way. Aurelia was just that girl. What happened with her father was beyond horrible, and as sad as it is instances like that happen in real life. And I liked how her progression with what occurred wasn’t a magical overnight healing, but the process of time. Yes, there is a beautiful romance, but it started out as a friendship that bloomed into something more. She also didn’t heal because of a guy, but instead he helped support her in the process.


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The journey I had with Aurelia is one I will hold dear. And it was nice to find a fairy tale that felt more for upper YA and adults without being all angsty. Plus I liked that the guy was sweet! There needs to be more books like this!

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About the Author


Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.


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Parliament House Press

The Songs in Our Hearts



Between the Sea and Stars


The Songs We Remember


Winter Dream


Blinding Night




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Embracing Hope: Excerpt + Giveaway

Embracing Hope


Embracing Hope

Janell Butler Wojtowicz

Genre: Christian Romance/ Clean Romance

Published: November 2016


Take a poignant look into the broken heart and daily struggles of Christian college dean Drew McKinley. The story chronicles the turbulent first year in his desperate journey to understand God’s motives for the sudden death of his wife and his quest to find hope in his future.

Crossing his perilous path are Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office, and Chris, the handsome but egotistical student senate president.

The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

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Excerpt from “Embracing Hope”

When Drew got back to his condo after breakfast with Mitch, he took recycling bins from the garage and headed straight for his office. He pulled open the top drawer of the filing cabinet, labeled “Dissertation,” removed all the folders and tossed everything in a bin with a satisfying thump. He turned on the TV for company and for the next several hours sorted through files and books, occasionally reading, mostly shredding. Taking the framed photo from the bookshelf, he wrapped the UConn afghan around it and placed it carefully in his briefcase. Sitting down at the computer, he composed a new email.

Dr. Cavanaugh,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve as Dean of Students at Riley University. Riley is an outstanding university devoted to its students and committed to serving God. It’s been a privilege to work here.

However, it is in the best interests of the university and its students that I resign the position of Dean of Students, effective immediately. I will contact Human Resources upon your acceptance of my resignation to complete the necessary exit procedures.


Andrew McKinley

Without hesitation, Drew hit “Send.”

He looked up a phone number on his contact list. “Ed, this is Drew McKinley. Could you give me a call as soon as you can? I need to put the condo up for sale.”

Next he went online and checked flights to Hartford. He frowned at the airfare, but booked a one-way ticket for eleven the next morning. He perused the online career section of the Chronicle of Higher Education and made notes.

Going into his bedroom, Drew hauled out a suitcase from the back of the closet and laid it on the unmade bed. He pulled out clothes from the bureau, placed them in the suitcase and stuffed a couple of suits in a garment bag. The bottle of pills on the bed stand caught his eye. He poured out two, then two more, and swallowed all four without water. Closing and moving the suitcase to the floor, he lay on the crumpled linens. He glanced at the clock: 2:38. Closing his eyes, he let the memories—bittersweet as they were—engulf him.

He saw his preschool teacher leading him to his little desk as his mother lingered in the doorway.

He saw himself as an eight-year-old on his knees next to the bed asking Jesus into his heart.

He saw his mother taking a picture of him in his high school cap and gown.

He saw Kendra grinning across the table in the student union, a dollop of whipped cream from the latte on her nose.

He saw her floating down the aisle on her father’s arm.

He saw Tony behind his desk, interviewing him on a sunny, spring day.

He saw him and Kendra kissing in the gazebo during orientation.

He saw the white casket being put inside the white hearse.

He saw Allison at the Christmas party in the sparkly green dress.

He saw her with Eliza nestled in her arms.

He saw the red car with the bashed-in rear fender in the ramp.

The shrill squeal of the phone sliced through his ears, a crack of thunder shook his bed, and Drew bolted upright in the darkened room. The red numbers of the clock glowed 9:12. He leaped out of bed, but when he stood his legs buckled, and he fell over the suitcase onto the floor. The phone screamed at him again. Like a flood, the dream from the bus rushed back: the storm … the ramp … the exit sign … footsteps … Allison!

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About the Author

Janell Butler Wojtowicz

Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. She wrote stories for her own enjoyment, including a short story about a teenage drug addict—something of which she knew nothing about. Her cousin illustrated the cover using Halloween orange paper featuring a hypodermic needle.

Janell attended the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, earning a bachelor’s degree in, naturally, Written Communication, adding a Journalism Emphasis. She returned to Iowa where she worked as a reporter/editor at three small town newspapers for 10 years.

Janell left the small town Iowa life when she married, Frank Wojtowicz, a family friend who lived in Minneapolis. (By the way, her Polish last name is pronounced “Why-tow-vitch.) She worked in public relations at her alma mater, the University of Northwestern; Leadership Foundations, a nonprofit organization supporting inner-city Christian ministries; and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Today, Janell owns a freelance service, A Portrait in Words, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Much of Janell’s writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, “Embracing Hope.” The idea for the novel came after watching a BBC version of “Jane Eyre” in 2007. That night she dreamed the beginning, pivotal scene in the middle and the ending of “Embracing Hope”, and began writing it the next day. Unlike her first story, she was very familiar with the setting of “Embracing Hope”: a Christian college campus.

She and Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota, a pleasant suburb of the Twin Cities. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law, and three step-granddaughters.

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Alexa Whitewolf: Author Interview + Excerpt



“It was impossible they had met before – of that she was certain. Yet his hold on her was undisputable, an irrational pull to the utmost recesses of her soul.”

Vivienne du Lac has everything she could wish for – a normal, peaceful life, a good job, cushy nest egg, and a semi-social nightlife. The only problem? She’s clueless to being the reincarnation of the Lady of the Lake, Merlin’s apprentice.

Sebastien Dubois is the bad boy you wouldn’t take home to mom and dad – quite the opposite. The sexual chemistry between them is sizzling from the start – but there’s more to the tall, dark and handsome stranger. When a magical past tumbles into her orderly reality, he is Vivienne’s only hope at survival.

Caught between darkness and light, a battle she has no intention to fight – let alone the knowledge to win – Vivienne quickly finds out not even closest allies can be trusted.

Can she look within and become the enchantress Merlin meant her to be… Or will she lose it all over love, for Sebastien’s salvation? This is a battle between good and evil you don’t want to miss.

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Excerpt from Avalon Wishes

As he walked down the stairs in the tower, Merlin glanced out to the forest, before continuing on his journey.

He passed through the last of the barriers, and out the servants’ exit, finally entering the peace and quiet of the gardens. They were rectangular, about the size of his room, with flowers of every type sparsely across. An oak tree, older than the castle itself, stood in the middle.

It was towards it that Merlin headed, his hands tingling at the prospect of touching magic again. In these three days, he had not had as much time as he wanted, and it was akin to breathing: a need, potent and inquisitive.

He took a seat by the oak, hidden in the tree’s shadow, and pressed both hands to the earth by his side. Imbued by the power of the nature surrounding him, Merlin breathed in deeply. On his second exhale, his hands began glowing, and a faint vibration animated them.

Soon, Merlin was lost in the magic, the back and forth between him and the earth. It felt as though his entire body was re-energizing, replenishing with an elixir far more potent than any human beverage.

He could feel himself reverting back to primal needs, carnal desires, to a part of himself that wished to be freed.

“You must be the new advisor.”

The soft, melodic voice penetrated Merlin’s haze, and he blinked. As he came to, her scent assaulted his senses: sweet, almost overtly so, like a nectar he craved to sample.

Merlin caught the woman’s presence out of the corner of his eyes, and turned his head slowly to the side.


She had not introduced herself, but every fiber of his being felt it. Her alabaster skin was almost translucent in the early morning. Long, straight black hair fell to her waist, cinched by a belt. Her soft blue gown did little to hide the curves of her body, something his eyes lingered on.

“I did not mean to interrupt,” Morgana spoke again, and his eyes settled on her rosebud mouth, and the lips moving ever so softly.

Merlin gulped, then looked away. He could not, would not. A promise had been made, one he had to keep. Something within was emphasizing that he really needed to uphold it.

“You did not interrupt,” he replied hoarsely. His throat felt as though it had been force-fed sand.

Extinguishing the magic, Merlin reluctantly let go of the earth and stood. He had no choice, now, but to turn towards Morgana.

The princess moved a few steps closer, as though pulled closer by the same force he was fighting against. This is not good.Merlin could sense the unseen atmosphere literally yanking him forward, like a magnet unwilling to let go.

Their eyes met – and held – cerulean blue to silver. Then Morgana’s gaze roamed over the wizard in a way that did nothing to appease his unsettled body.

What is this!? Merlin fumed internally.

Such weakness had never struck him around a woman – especially not one as young as her. For though Morgana was very much of age at her two decades of life, there was an innocence still within her eyes that drew him in like a moth to a flame.

“I am Merlin,” he cleared his throat, bowing in greeting. “The new advisor, you are correct. And I presume you are Lady Morgana?”

There was a brief hesitation, as though she wanted to try lying, then Morgana inclined her head in assent. “I am.”

Their gazes locked again and Merlin cursed the fates for putting him on the path of this temptress. Her eyes were not so innocent now. Instead, a burning look shone within, one he very well recognized, for it was surely the same one reflected in his own.

Lust, pure and simple.

“I was surprised,” Morgana spoke again, drawing his gaze to hers, “to hear my father sought you out. Apparently, tales of your exploits reached him from afar.”

Merlin was silent, unsure of how to answer. Morgana peered at him for a few moments longer, before smiling briefly. “At ease, Merlin. I shall leave you to your secrets.”

As she turned to leave, the mage could not help his eyes from roaming her form. He turned away, cursing against his own impulses.

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Author Interview:

What made you want to become a writer?

Growing up, I didn’t have the easiest childhood. I think we all struggle with issues with at least one parent, and for me that was my dad. Writing was a way of escaping the limits he imposed on my life. At the time, everything I was reading in young adult had heroines that always needed saving. I came up with my own, women that are proud, and strong and yes incredibly stubborn, but there is more to them than simply falling in love and living happily ever after (not that there’s anything wrong with that! I love HEAs ). What I mean is, writing started as an escape, maybe even a form of therapy, but it became a lot more. The fact that after years of taking a break from it, and moving forward in my life, I rediscovered the passion for words was enough to decide me that I wanted to make my passion my life’s work. That’s when I truly decided to become a writer.

What do you find the hardest about being an author?

Shutting up the characters in my head? Oops, that wasn’t meant to be a question. But seriously, it’s hard sometimes. Like now, I’m technically done writing for the year. So I should be focusing on marketing, networking, etc. But instead I go and start writing again, because the characters won’t leave me alone. They’re not all like that, honest. Mainly Alistair and Merlin, they bicker a lot… Sorry, rambling probably wasn’t part of this, eh? Marketing! My final answer.

What is your favorite character you have written and why?

That’s HARD. And I mean trying to push a Transformer out of way with puny human hands, hard.

My husband would disagree, but up until recently I would have said my version of Merlin from Avalon Wishes. There’s something about writing him as a younger Mage, and all the crap he gets into… Too much fun. Of course, half the fun of it is Alistair, I mean they’re really two peas in a pod!

But currently, I would have to say Freya, my young heroine from The Sage’s Legacy series. There’s a lot of the younger me in her, and as I re-edited the second novel in the series, I found myself bonding with her all over again.

What is your favorite color?

Green! Not neon, but emerald like the beautiful Ireland I’m about to visit in less than 2 weeks!!! 

What is your writing process?

It’s a mess. And I mean, no heads or tails kind of mess… I get an idea, write it down. It’s usually a sentence or two. At some point, a scene will pop in my head. It could be the beginning, middle or end of the novel, and I write it down. Then keep writing from there. I end up with scenes all over the place, notebooks, napkins, you name it…. Then finally type it all up into a semblance of a rough. That’s when the fun really begins! I dig into the meat of the story, fill in plot holes, dialogue, descriptions. Go through five or six edits, then send to my beta, make changes, and after send to my editor.

What book are you currently reading?

Singularity, by Eldon Farrell.

What’s your favorite book genre?

Thriller. I’m a huge James Patterson and James Rollins fan! 

What kind of scenes do you find hardest to write?

Love scenes? I always wonder if my mom will end up reading them

What are you writing next?

I have Avalon Nightmares and Relics of the Underworld (the last instalments of my two series Avalon Chronicles and Sage’s Legacy) planned for release early 2018, so those are my major projects.

But lately (last 2 weeks) I’ve gotten annoyingly distracted by working on a standalone novel (at least I hope it will be!), hesitantly titled “Blazing in a Storm of Ashes”.

Here’s a little excerpt from the young heroine, Corinna:

“I’m not crazy. But when I start getting these bloody migraines and hearing voices, I’m fairly certain I lost it.

And then they turn out to be two hot-as-hell guardians, here to guide me on my quest to purge the world of evil. Because apparently, that’s my job.

I guess it’s just as well I’m willing to play into their delusional game. Until, of course, I find out it’s no delusion at all.

It’s all the more real, and the Phoenix in me rises to the surface, unbidden, unchallenged… And un-allied with either Light or Darkness.

Like I said, I’m not crazy. But read if you dare, and you can judge for yourself.”

What message do you have for future authors?

Never stop writing. If it makes you happy, do it. But don’t write into the genre and way you think your audience will like. Write what you are passionate about, and the rest will follow!


About Alexa Whitewolf:

I was born in Romania originally, moved to Canada in my teens and then pretty much all over the place in this vast country. Growing up, writing was an escape, a fun way to get away from the reality of the world around me. I always felt different, and though I fit in almost everywhere, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.

That changed when I moved to Ottawa for university, at least for a while. But writing was my constant, my always-there escape.

I started writing around 14, The Sage’s Legacy series. I had both book I and II finished by the time I was 16. With university and life getting in the way, I took a break from writing, only dabbling in the occasional contract or fun short stories for my own amusement. It wasn’t until my then-fiancé, now-husband, found one of my notebooks scribbled with scenes from a story, that I got back into it. Avalon Dreams was the product of that long year, followed by its sequel Avalon Wishes this year. My two series, The Avalon Chronicles and The Sage’s Legacy both have strong, stubborn heroines.

Though so far I’ve been writing mainly fantasy/romance/adventure mixes, I have a few projects that will dabble in the paranormal and pure romance coming up J

When I’m not writing, I’m at home with my pups, Zeus and Achilles, out hiking with my husband, or just at my local Starbucks sipping that godly caramel macchiato!






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Seduction en Pointe: Excerpt + Author Interview + Giveaway


Blurb: When successful TV star of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Nicco Castillo, finds his boyfriend in bed with another man, he goes full-on Hollywood trainwreck that lands him in ER. Next thing he knows, the producers are shipping him off to Paris to shape up and learn to dance for the next season’s story arc. But his incredibly tempting Parisian ballet instructor, Isabelle La Croix, makes that all too difficult, especially when he learns about her decadent desires–desires Nicco is all too pleased to indulge in. Against the ballet barre, the balcon railing, and wherever and for however long Isabelle is willing to have him.


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And walking through the door to his producer’s office, he stopped dead. In that moment he absolutely believed that everything happened for a reason.

She faced away from him, but even at a distance he could see the smooth curve of her neck, the beautiful line of her back, arching against the chair. She was a small woman, but a shadow of muscles adorned her shoulders and upper arms where they weren’t hidden behind the waves of white-blonde hair pulled into a tight ponytail. She was something from an erotic fairy tale, all subtle power and ephemeral beauty.

And it wasn’t just that—though there was plenty of that. But it was the way she held herself, too, full of strength and self-possession and confidence. This woman knew exactly who she was in a way that Nicco envied and respected all at the same time.

He schooled his features and checked in with the receptionist for his appointment with the French production team before turning around to face her. If he’d thought her beautiful from the back, he hadn’t been prepared for her face, for the expression in her pale-blue eyes, for the softest, sweetest curve of dusky-rose lips as they parted slightly.

She read a magazine, and Niccolo cursed himself for having let his written French lapse, because he didn’t have a clue which glossy it was.

Still, never hurt to try, and something about this unknown woman made it impossible for him to walk away or pick one of the seats at the far end of the waiting room. She called to him, a modern-day siren, all enticing and impossible to ignore. So he sat beside her, catching a hint of her scent. She smelled like lemons, sweet and fresh, and that seemed to fit her, as did the pointed sharpness of her neck, which grew considerably more rigid once she realized he planned on talking to her.

“What is it you’re reading?” he asked, thickening his Spanish accent. As long as he’d been chasing lovers, the Spanish charm had always worked wonders. Hell, it did wonders for getting him starring roles too.

“Who wants to know?” Her accent was light, as though she’d learned English alongside her French, studied in Sweden or London or New York City. But for all of the softness that came spilling out of those pale-rose lips, there was a steel core that told Nicco she wasn’t having any of his charm. Her words came out strong, self-possessed, and confident, and they made him curious about the woman below the slight frame. Despite appearing so soft, she held her head at a tilt that signified power, kept her neck straight, her shoulders arched. Everything about her stance told Nicco exactly how she felt at his intrusion into her space. Normally, he took his cues and left the obviously uninterested alone, but this woman was enchanting and mysterious, and Nicco found he couldn’t quite look away from her, even as he knew that he tempted the serpent, perhaps because he did.

“Niccolo.” He extended his hand. “Here for a meeting with Monsieur La Montagne.” According to the terms Parker had laid out, Nicco would be working alongside La Montagne’s office on a PR tour of Paris while he took his dance classes, giving a few interviews here and there, a signing or two, onward and upward.

The woman beside him, however, appeared abjectly unimpressed. He liked that, liked that she didn’t buy into his bullshit the way everyone else did, the way he’d been doing for so long.

“That is a remarkable coincidence,” she replied, her eyes taking on a sardonic glint he knew came at his expense, “given that you are in his office, after all.” Feisty, this one. She obviously enjoyed goading him, and Nicco felt a wash of something dangerous at the thought that men probably attempted to charm her quite often. For some reason, his visceral reaction to this strange, nymph-like woman grew stronger each time she stabbed him with her barbed tongue. That was inconvenient, to be certain, but it didn’t stop him from wanting more.

But there was something about his—well, he wouldn’t necessarily call it just an attraction—to this woman that went deeper than lust. Nicco had had lovers, more than his fair share of them since everything with Antonio had gone so royally tits up, and he’d never lacked for a partner if he wanted one. No, whatever had him suddenly desperate to learn more about this mysterious woman went deeper than that, to some fundamental part of himself that might even long for redemption.

“I’d heard about the French,” he said. He should just turn around and leave her to her magazine, but he just couldn’t seem to do so. “Seems the rumors about witches and the smell of cheese aren’t so terribly off.”

She raised an eyebrow, and he took some satisfaction in the small quirk at the corner of her mouth that told of a repressed smile. He’d bet a week’s pay that her smile would light up the city, and he promised himself that at some point, he would be the cause of it. He didn’t know how or why, just that it would happen one way or the other.

“American, is it?” she asked, ignoring his slight.

“Mostly,” he replied. “Spanish sometimes. Occasionally English.”

From her confused expression, Nicco wondered if he had been spending too much time in California. Normally, folks didn’t question his various origins. Of course, the French were reputedly distrusting of anyone who wasn’t French. Still, he had to admit that there was something simple and altogether enjoyable about flirting with a woman who didn’t want to sleep with him just because he was a celebrity or because she angled to get her face in the papers. It felt good to just be himself for what seemed like the first time in a very long time.

“Of course,” she replied, breaking his train of thought. “All that ego can’t be exclusively American, can it?”

Nicco almost laughed out loud.

“You already know me so well,” he said. “Would you care to know me better? Dinner, perhaps?” It was bold, and the moment the words were out of his mouth, Nicco knew it had been too audacious. Something flitted across her eyes, and he could almost see her folding into herself. No, he didn’t like that, didn’t enjoy seeing this confident person turn into something else so quickly. He might be an ass about recognizing the signs in his own life, but someone or something had clearly hurt her—recently, if the ache across those beautiful pale-blue eyes was anything to go by.

“No smart remark,” he commented, hoping to bring back some of the devil he’d seen in her expression. “I’m surprised.”

She squared her jaw, and Nicco found himself happy to see even a little of the fight fill her eyes, even if it was at his expense. And, as he had anticipated, she turned a cold tongue in his direction, murmuring low under her breath.

“You don’t know the first thing about me, so I’ll ask you kindly to take a walk.” Fury, for all it was leashed and low in her whisper. And it made him ache, made him feel some of the hurt in his own chest, because the first week after he’d discovered Tony with his lover, Nicco had lashed out at everyone and everything, taking the whole wide world down to his level of hurt and sadness.

He didn’t doubt that he was nothing more than the proxy for her fury, and it made him feel bad, made him ache for her and for himself a little too.

“Miss La Croix?”

Before she could say anything that might cut him to the quick—would most definitely cut him to the quick—the woman beside him nodded in answer to the receptionist and stood without another word. If he had thought the slope of her neck enticing, he wasn’t prepared for the way her long, powerful legs, visible below her light-blue dress, mesmerized him. She didn’t so much walk down the hall as glide, her body so completely under her command that it made him wonder about putting his body in her hands too. She didn’t give him a second look as she slipped away, and that made Nicco’s heart ache in a way he didn’t want to analyze.

Her magazine still sat on the corner of the table, one of the pages bookmarked with a thick, folded corner, as if she planned on going back to it. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a pen and scribbled a note down on the back cover.

If you ever need a stranger for a friend, give me a call. There are some things we don’t heal from so easily.

Below that, he jotted his e-mail address and then took a short jog down the hallway to catch up with her. The simple note, just like the few extra moments he had spent with his fans outside, felt like color returning to the black-and-white version of himself. He still couldn’t see the full picture, not yet, but just being out of LA helped him focus.

She looked surprised and not all that happy when he drew level with her.

“You left this,” he said, handing her the magazine but not letting go.

She pursed her lips. “And what do you want in exchange for it?” Her tone sounded almost resigned. Bored, almost. He knew better, though. Her expression had a fire—blue and burning—and he rather enjoyed inspiring a reaction in her, whatever it was.

“What’s your name?” he asked her, suddenly desperate to know. By the smallest amount, her expression softened, and Nicco had to wonder what she had expected him to ask. He’d never push a person to do anything they didn’t want to do. He had retained some standards over the last few months of going full-on Hollywood.

“The catch?” she asked, her lips still pointedly pursed in his direction. And what lips they were.

Nicco shook his head. “No catch. I just want to know your name.” He really, really did. She sighed and nodded, sending the white-blonde ponytail swishing across her shoulder. Then she squared her jaw and lifted her chin.

“Isabelle La Croix.” She offered nothing else.

“Isabelle,” he repeated, because he couldn’t seem to stop himself from doing so. “A pleasure.” He handed her the magazine with his note facing down and watched as she gave a sharp nod and continued down the hallway, watched her far after there was nothing left to watch. What about this woman set his body to flame and his mind to far more carnal images than would ever be appropriate for a chance encounter in a producer’s waiting room and so, so much more?

Something hidden that came in bursts of emotion across her pale-blue eyes, something that came in the cut of her shoulders and the grace of her walk.

Miss La Croix. It fit her. She was so utterly French, petite, graceful, sharp around the edges and beautiful beyond the pale. Nicco trod in dangerous waters. He had only just left California behind, and already he panted after a woman he would never see again, unless her facade cracked and she actually decided to contact him. He could hope, kind of had to hope, because there was something about her that was so unlike anyone he had ever met. She had a self-possession, a self-awareness that almost made him envious, would have, if it hadn’t impressed him so.

The whole thing made him…a little relieved. He’d had lovers since Antonio, of course, men and women to waste the lonely nights with, to party with and get drunk with. But to actually find himself feeling a deep, intense connection—and with a person he had only just met—it gave him hope that he might not be on his own forever. Maybe Tony’s infidelities hadn’t completely destroyed who Nicco had been before, after all.

Author Interview:

What made you want to be a writer?

Writing has always been a part of who I am and what I do. I love the idea of storytelling and creating characters from nothing, real emotions from words. I guess I decided to become a working author toward the end of college, because I just realized I couldn’t live without it.

What are you currently reading?

I’m on book 10 of Maya Banks’s KGI series, and listening to The Glass Sword, in the Red Queen Series, also going between Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, Jill Shalvis’s Animal Magnetism and Hidden Figures.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge when writing?

I usually say that marketing is the hardest part of being an author, but when it comes to actual writing, I have the tendency to try and herd stories in one direction, while they’re making it clear to me that’s not the way to go. I tend toward hyper-organized and Type A, and with writing, sometimes the trick is listening to the story. Also, making major changes on a book that’s already done, like character arc or huge plot alterations, that’s always tricky.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

In Seduction en Pointe, I have to admit that Nicco is my favorite. I love Isabelle, don’t get me wrong, but I think Nicco’s struggle is a little more subtle and human. He’s been hurt, yes, but he’s also grappling with a sense is identity and trying to figure out who he is, and I think that’s something every person in the world go through. Plus, hottie McPirate alert.

What is your favorite color?

Blue! Earth tones all the way, baby. If there’s yellow in it, I look like I have the flu, so I mostly wear blues and greys and I love the calmness of blue hues.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Just keep writing. There will be days you want to quit, it’s inevitable. Sometimes it’s after a rejection, sometimes it’s just because there haven’t been any new sales or reviews on your books in awhile. Whatever the reason, put your fingers to the keyboard and write. Every. Single. Day. The same goes for reading. You can’t write if you don’t read.

When writing, do you do an outline or just write?

To go back to the whole Type A, Ravenclaw thing, I need an outline. I tend to write quickly, and if I don’t have an idea of where the story is going then I can guarantee it’ll end up being 60,000 words of fluffy nonsense. I also like having a really solid grip on my characters before I start playing puppet master.

What are you working on next?

The first book in The Triple Diamond series, The Lovin’ Is Easy, comes out September 29th! It’s my first Montana ranch series and I just had a ton of fun working on the world-building and characters. Since it’s a ménage relationship, as are all the books in the series, I faced some unique challenges, and I’m excited about how it all came together! I also have a new historical BDSM short story series coming up.

Tell us a little about your book.

Seduction en Pointe was a really challenging book for me to write. I originally based it on characters in a short story, and never intended for the book to be full length. But the press that had my short went out of business and I realized that I had a much bigger story in me, so I rewrote it, about four times in full, and now that it’s finished, I thank goodness I did.

Though it was challenging, I had a really great time writing this book. Setting a story in Paris is a dream come true, especially since both Isabelle and Nicco are involved in art and dance, so I really got to emphasize the theater and beautiful culture of the city and fashion and cars. I have a background in art history, so that added a little to the fun discovery of it all. I also had a lot of fun working in the vouyerism and exhibitonism. When I first started the book, I didn’t have a genuine reason why they were both attracted to that sort of lifestyle, but the deeper I delved into their characters, the more I realized it was related to the need to perform and be seen. That was a really cool thing to discover.

Enter Gemma's Raffle

Seduction en Pointe Raffle! 

As a thank you to everyone who checked out Seduction en Pointe, I’m raffling off a stack of fantastic romance novels, bookmarks and other fun treats – and it’s super easy to enter! 

All you have to do is send confirmation of purchase for Seduction en Pointe to with the subject line Raffle Entry, before11:59 p.m EST on August 31st! It’s that simple! 

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Author Bio: 

Gemma Snow is the author of several works of erotic and romantic fiction in both the contemporary and historical genres, and enjoys pushing the limits of freedom, feminism, and fun in her stories.  She has been an avid writer for many years, and recently moved back to her home state of New Jersey from Boston, after completing her education in journalism and creative writing.
In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent a semester abroad living in a 14th century castle in the Netherlands. When not exploring the world, she likes dreaming up stories, eating spicy food, driving fast cars, and talking to strangers. 
Find her on: 

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The Last Dragon Rider: Excerpt + Giveaway


Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure/ Romance

Novella Release Date: August 9, 2017

TheLastDragonRider Cover


Trained as an elite warrior from childhood, the elven crown prince Flintathriël fights to bring a stop to a war that began before he was born. With the aid of his betrothed Sairalindë, a skilled mage and dragon rider in her own right, they must find the Book of Souls – an ancient and mysterious tome rumored to have belonged to the god Hath’Raal.

When the missing book turns up in the hands of Mnuvae, the bastard child of the dead king, Flintathriël finds himself fighting to not only save his people from this new threat but also trying to keep Sairalindë safe when Mnuvae takes over the dragons in her attempt to win back the kingdom she believes is rightfully hers.

The love Flintathriël and Sairalindë share shines pure and true, but when the smoke of the battle clears, will their hearts survive the aftermath of war or will their love become a casualty that cannot be revived?



Author Pic

Author Bio

Errin Krystal is a fantasy romance writer who has been writing since she was a small child. Her head has always been full of stories. She began work on her first novel when she was sixteen.

She lives with her family in regional Victoria, Australia, and works as a chef. In her quieter moments, she loves to indulge her passion for storytelling, basking in the joy that comes from creating vibrant characters, fantastical worlds and all manner of magical creatures. Dragons and elves, mages and warriors, troubled princes and beautiful princesses, romance, magic, and adventure can all be found in her writing.


She began wrapping the cloth tightly about her, binding her breasts firmly, criss-crossing the gauzy fabric around her torso and across her stomach, tying it off at her hip. She shimmied into a pair of leather leggings and reached for her foot wraps. To other races—like the dwarves and humans—the elves lack of footwear was strange. The elven people had strong ties to the lands, their magic and mystique were inexplicably linked. Even those who did not practice magic felt the connection to nature, and the elven people had maintained the practice throughout their long history.

After binding her feet and leaving only her toes exposed, she tossed an olive green tunic over her head before quickly weaving her tresses into a thick braid.

Sivath was waiting, and Flintathriël was late. Again.

She was reaching for her leather jerkin when he finally appeared in her doorway.

Arms akimbo, he slouched against the frame, all lean muscle and sharp angles beneath his leathers. Silver-white hair fell across his forehead, hiding the dark arches of his brows as he gazed at her with silvery blue eyes. The mop of hair barely touching his shoulders. His coloring typical of the royal family.

Her gaze traced his tattoos. Sweeping vines encompassed runic symbols, curling downward from his bottom lip, winding and weaving their way down his chin and neck. She knew every line that twisted and spread across his shoulders, and across his back. Etchings that disappeared beneath his tunic and reappeared along his arms. She still remembered the day he received the markings, branding him Nuvian. The day she first gave herself to him, the day she truly became his.








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Guest Post

Characters gone wild: How the comic relief became the hero

It’s funny how wildly out of control things can get. I mean, you start out with the intention of simply writing a short 2,000 word character study to help push through the writer’s block you have been struggling with. Short, concise, maybe spend a day or so on it. Just something fresh and new to get the creativity flowing again you know?

That’s not what happened.

What happened was I set aside my novel and spent six months on writing a 30,000 word novella featuring a character who originally only had a small bit part… until I fell in love with him and created a more in depth history.

In his simplest incarnation, Flintathriël, (now the full-fledged hero of The Last Dragon Rider), was basically created to offer snarky and sarcastic comments to the hero and flirt with his love interest. That was pretty much his entire purpose in the beginning. Someone light and fun, someone to stir the proverbial pot.

Until one day his entire past just came crashing through, demanding to be written. So I started jotting down some notes for a short story… It was never meant to be anything serious…

I had this amazing idea, set against the backdrop of an ancient war with love, betrayal, dragons and elves and all those good things. But I only wanted it to be short.

I was determined to finish my other novel in 2015…

I wrote a novella instead…

But Flintathriël was destined to be more than a flat caricature and all too soon he had taken over telling his own story. He wanted more from life so I obliged, turning him into a fully fleshed out character as he demanded, creating something magical in the process.

In getting distracted with my novella, it has enabled me to fill in a few gaps in my novel (which is now book 2). Several characters appear in both stories and writing this novella has allowed me to flesh out those characters and add more depth to a specific story arc.

So while he still maintains that cocky arrogance I originally intended, Flintathriël is now burdened with a few more obstacles and responsibilities (as well as a kick ass love interest), making the transition from comic relief to tortured hero.


Giveaway Details:

5 digital copies of the book (Giveaway runs from July 31st to Aug. 9th)

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The Last Dragon Rider Blog Tour Schedule

July 31st

Reads & Reels (Promo)

Nesie’s Place (Promo)

Didi Oviatt (Review)

August 1st

WeeBitWordy (Review)

August 2nd

Darling Bear Reviews (Review)

August 3rd

Tranquil Dreams (Review)

Thoughts All Sorts (Review)

Brizzle Lass Blog (Review)

August 4th

The Most Sublime (Promo)

August 7th

Literary Dust (Promo)

Brickley Jules Blog (Promo)

August 8th

The Protagonist Speaks (Character Interview)


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The Castaways: Excerpt + Giveaway

Book Title: The Castaways

Author: Jessika Fleck

Release Date: April 3, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous. Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.


When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing. Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.


Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home. But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.


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Entangled Publishing:

Jessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. She is a regular contributor to the fantastic kidlit blog, Kidliterati, and is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Author Website:

Author Twitter: @jessikafleck

Author Facebook:

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Giveaway Info:

Prize Pack with The Castaways + swag. An Amazon gift card in the case of an international winner.

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The Excerpt


But everything’s clear. I do know where to go. “I’m going to find that boulder—” I suck in shallow breath. “The…hhh…maze.”

“It’s no use. We’ve tried everything. It doesn’t work! Wait!”

But I’m not listening because it has to work. It’s the only way. If it got me in, it’ll get me back out.

I run until my body, my mind, and, mostly, my lungs give up. Because, problem is, Will’s right. I don’t know how to find it.

I stop.

Will stops.

Bent at the waist, hands on my knees, I cough and spew, trying to catch my breath. The hyperventilation has passed, but my insistence on sprinting like I’m a track star when my

lungs and legs have no business running, has taken its toll.

I look up.

Will isn’t fazed. At some point he took off his shirt and now stands with his hands on his hips, chest rising and falling, barely winded. His abs flex with each effortless breath. “Get

it out of your system?”

It’s when my stomach springs that I realize I’m staring at his body. I quickly glance away and completely ignore his question. “Take me there.”

“I told you. It’s no use.”

“Please,” I whimper. Tears race down my face.

Tucking his T-shirt into the back of his pants, Will walks in another direction.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m taking you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

With Will now leading the way, I watch his suntanned back, the sweat beading at his shoulders and slowly, one by one, how the beads roll down the center crease. I’m in a daze

or a haze or a trance because all I see is his back, his muscles contracting and tightening with each step, and, like magic, we’re there.

The mossy boulder stands before us and, I swear, it mocks me in all its ordinary, commonplace glory.


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Rash Decisions: Excerpt + Giveaway


Today we have the blog tour for Rash Decisions by Alex Rosa! Check out the tour and grab your copy today!!


Title: Rash Decisions

Author: Alex Rosa

Genre: Contemporary romance

About Rash Decisions:

Julia Ferris had it all. A loving a boyfriend, a glamorous city, and a high paying job. What more could a girl want? She’d ask you, “What if all those things weren’t what you wanted … ever?”

Julia’s life has always been defined by everyone around her, but one day she makes the rash decision to finally live life for herself, and it all starts with a pair of shoes. Now it becomes her only guide.

From new jobs, to new boys, and a life in a big city she was never prepared for, she can at least admit one thing now:

It’s all exactly what she wants … kind of.




My eyes flicker open in unison with my stretch. I feel incredibly satiated and calm, and waking up with a smile is a new thing for me. However, as I gain focus the dark grays of the room confuse me.

Where are my sleek, white brick walls?

I pull in a deep breath, and the smell of woody cologne and sex slams my senses.

I peer down at the navy blue comforter covering me, noting I am very much naked.

I didn’t.

I ogled Troy all night. I remember that. It was hard not to. I drank a lot. That I also know, but how far did I go? I wanted so much, but I tried to stay away. What’s the last thing I remember?

I turn to my right and see the hottest thing I have ever laid eyes on.

A fast asleep Troy.

I sit up on my elbows, holding the blanket to my chest.

My eyebrows angle upward in unfortunate concern as I examine his sleeping state. His face is as relaxed as my body feels. His mouth hangs slightly open —that mouth. I remember that mouth all over me last night; I remember its quiet moans in my ears and its rushed breaths that tangled with mine.

His naked chest is on full display, and all the sinews that indent themselves on his perfect form are revealed, all the way down to those hips —I definitely remember that body now, too, and remember being able to touch and kiss anywhere I’d like.

The memories of the night swarm my mind like an incoming hurricane.

I clench my thighs together feeling well used and aching in the best way.

My hand reflexively comes up, slapping onto my forehead. Oh no.

Then comes the guilt. I run that hand through my hair as I dart my eyes all over the room. My clothes are everywhere. His clothes are everywhere.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I look at the time on his nightstand. It’s barely eight in the morning and Troy looks —oh Troy looks adorable.

Stop thinking that way!

I lean a little closer to him. I want to wake him, or kiss those sexy, anger-inducing lips, but that feels instantly wrong.

I change my mind. I’m not going to wake him. I can’t. I wouldn’t know how to explain myself.

My cheeks begin to burn, thinking I’ve done something terrible.

No. I know I’ve done something terrible, and the only thing that’s served me any good is escaping.

I regretfully cringe as I slip from his bed. I make sure I’m quiet with each tip toeing step.

This was a terrible idea. This is wrong.

I find my bra and my dress, quickly slipping those on, but for all the love that is holy, I cannot find my panties.

I squint at Troy, not putting it past him that he would hide them away somewhere as a trophy.

My stomach plummets at the thought that I’d be something of a trophy for him. His seduction and stares said differently, but the realization that I barely know the man slams my guts.

I peer over at the time again, this time fuming with embarrassment. It’s 8:15 now.

I look back at Troy once more, taking a step toward the bed, scrutinizing his Greek features, the bastard.

The butterflies caged in my gut flutter erratically, and I know this is such a mess. I can’t tell what I’m feeling.

What about Noah!

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.

I want to lean over and press a goodbye kiss to Troy’s cheek, but I shake my head instead.

All of this could easily mean nothing to him when maybe it meant everything to me.

Wait, no.

Again, I can’t tell. Maybe we both shared a passionate night, and we’ll be done with it. Maybe we can just blame it on the alcohol and forget it ever happened. Maybe we just needed to get it out of our system?

The fact that I can’t tell which way is up or down is what has me flinging myself in the opposite direction in nerve-wracking fear. I grab my glorious heels on the way, cursing their damned determined sexiness, as if they’re to blame while I make my way to the front door to escape.

Is this what my therapist implied when I told her I was getting up and leaving the state? That I wasn’t really solving the problems and instead I was running away from them?

Is that what I’m doing now?

I feel like shit for so many different reasons, but I can’t stop pawing at my swollen lips as I approach the elevator.

If I don’t know how to justify the night to myself, how can I explain myself to anyone else?

I shoot a glance down the hall and think, what would Troy do in this situation?

That’s when I take a step inside the elevator, eager for the doors to shut behind me.

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About Alex Rosa:


Alex Rosa lives in San Diego, California. When she isn’t scouring city parks or cafe’s to write she is more than likely trying to convince her friends to join her on her next adventure. A sufferer of wanderlust, she is always looking for a new mountain to climb, a canyon to hike, or a plane to board. Her resume consists of coroner, to working at a zoo, and most recently as an executive assistant, but finds her home amongst words, whether it be in books, or in film. Her obsessions are on the brink of bizarre, but that’s just the way she likes it.








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