Blast: Unseen by J.L. Bryan

Author: J.L. Bryan 
(or as we like to call him Master of The Mind-fuckery!)

Publication date: October 31st 2013
Genres: Horror

Cassidy is a young tattoo artist living in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. She’s always suffered terrible nightmares, and sometimes the hideous creatures seem to follow her out of her dreams and into her waking life, though she’s the only one who can see them. Drugs and alcohol can blot them out, but never entirely chase them away.

When a demonic cult begins to take control of the people in her life, including her younger brother, Cassidy discovers that the unseen world of monsters is very real. She can no longer avoid it. To protect those she loves, she must accept her own hidden supernatural talents and face the forces of evil before the sinister cult achieves its twisted goals and casts the world into darkness.
The Unseen by J.L. Bryan has a special release price of $0.99 cents through Halloween so go get your copy today!

“Calling all demons, evil ghosts, and dead murderers!” Reese cried out in a slurred voice, then doubled forward, laughing.
“Be serious, Reese,” Barb said.  In a louder, more formal voice, she asked, “Are there any messages from the Other Side?  Like from our spirit guides or totem animals?”
“Totem animals,” Reese snickered.
“We all have one.  Mine’s a frog,” Barb told her, and Reese laughed and shook her head, tossing her blond hair.
“You look like a frog!” Reese said.
“Sh!  It’s moving,” Cassidy told them.
The wine glass shuddered again, and this time it began to slide over the poster board, the lip scraping and smearing a few of the still-wet letters, gathering glowing paint around its rim.
The glass moved across the alphabet to the word YES in the upper left corner of the poster, scraping up glue and glitter from a sparkly red pentagram along the way. 
“Who’s doing that?  Are you doing that?” Reese asked Tamila, who shook her head, her wide eyes fixed on the board.
“Hello?  Are you a spirit?” Barb asked.
The glass slid half an inch, then right back into place.  YES again.
“Who are you?” Barb asked. “I mean, to whom do we have the pleasure of speaking?”
The wineglass lay still for a moment, then vibrated and hummed as if someone had plinked it with a fingernail.  The glass slid over the alphabet.
Cassidy felt her heart racing.  She hadn’t expected it to work at all, and it was starting to freak her out.  She wished they hadn’t turned off the lights.
The wine glass smeared its way across the board, its entire rim glowing green now.  It stopped at the letter N, and didn’t move again until Barb said the letter aloud.  It stopped again on the I.
“N...I...” Barb said.
“Nipple?” Reese suggested.
The glass continued on to the B, then H...A...and then it stopped on Z.
“N-I-B-H-A-Z,” Barb said.
“It’s just nonsense,” Cassidy said.
The wineglass jerked under their fingers, then flew to the word NO, dragging their fingers with it.
“Who’s doing that?” Reese asked. “Is it you, Cassidy?  Barb?  It’s you, isn’t it, Barb?  You big Goth girl.”
“Sh,” Barb said. “Nib...haz?  Is that right?”
The wineglass zipped over to YES.
“What does that mean?” Cassidy asked.
The wineglass spelled out N...A...M...E.
“Your name is Nibhaz?”
“Sounds like a demon’s name to me,” Tamila said in a soft voice.
“Pfft, shut up,” Reese told her. “Like you would know.”
“Do you have a message for someone here, Nibhaz?” Barb asked.
 “For who?” Barb asked.
Cassidy felt her blood turn cold.
“Oh, shit, for Cassidy?” Reese asked.
“Nibhaz, what is your message for Cassidy?” Barb asked.
The four girls watched as the glass crept back and forth along the top row of text.  D...I...E...
“Die?  It’s telling her to die?” Tamila gasped.
“Sh, it’s not done yet,” Barb told her.
“Yeah, it’s not done yet,” Reese echoed, her eyes fixated on the glass.
Cassidy shivered, trying to think of any non-scary word that started with “die.”
“Diesel?” Cassidy asked in a shaky voice.  She expected someone to laugh at her, but nobody did.
The glass moved back to the letter D.
“Died,” Barb said. “He’s saying he died, I think.  He’s a ghost.”
The glass whipped over to the word NO, then returned to the letter D.
“Does it stand for something?” Cassidy guessed, trying not to sound scared.  Her heart was thundering inside her chest.
“Is it somebody’s initials, Nibhaz?” Barb asked.
“He’s telling her to die!  Are you people blind?” Tamila snapped.  She took her fingers off the glass and stood. “I’m gone.  Forget this craziness.”
“You can’t let go until the spirit says GOOD-BYE!” Barb yelled at her. “That’s how people get possessed!”
“Oh, now you believe in demons?” Tamila asked, brushing off her knees.
“Please don’t leave me, Tami,” Cassidy whispered.  She was genuinely scared now. “Not until this is done, okay?”
Tamila looked at her a long moment, then sighed and reluctantly sat on the floor again.
“Make it quick.” Tamila returned her fingers to the glass. “I mean it.”
“Nibhaz, is there more to your message?” Barb asked.
“What?” Cassidy whispered.
The glass flew back to the top row of letters.
It moved faster, back and forth, never leaving the top row.
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories.

He is the author of The Paranormals series (starting with Jenny Pox), The Songs of Magic series, Nomad, and other books. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, his son John, and some dogs and cats.
Individual giveaway:
(1) ebook copy of The Unseen
Open internationally!

Grand prize giveaway:
'spell book' pendant, handbag, and a signed copy of The Unseen
Open to U.S. and Canada Only!

Happy Halloween!

Blitz: Ignite (Explosive 1) by Tessa Teevan

Title: Ignite (#1, Explosive Series)
Author: Tessa Teevan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 30, 2013

Hosted By: Love Between the Sheets

IgniteAmazonBn Cover
After nearly a year and a half of grieving the loss of her husband, twenty-seven year old Alexa Sullivan Tate is headed back to her hometown after a decade of being away. She has no idea her high school crush, Jace McAllister, the guy who stole her heart the same night that he broke it, is more than ready to pick up the pieces.

Jace has spent the last ten years in the Army defusing bomb after bomb, trying to forget the girl who ignited all his passions. Little does he know that the spark still exists.

Ten years ago they had smoldering chemistry, but the spark between them now might light a fuse that leads to an explosion even Jace can't stop. Not that he wants to. If only Alexa can get past her guilt and trust her heart again.

But how do you put it all on the line when you've already lost everything once before?

*While this is a series, each book will be standalone.

Amazon US and Amazon UK
Ignite will be available for $0.99 on the Release Day Only!   
"I nod, and she makes her way down the hall that I now see is lined with photographs. My stomach tightens, but I figure that I need to get this over with if I’m going to be staying here. I walk towards them, stopping at the first picture. I’m guessing it’s from the day they first met, the time she told me about, because she’s giving him a playful frown while he’s grinning at her like he’s already half in love with her, which, to be honest, he probably was. I feel a slight twinge as I take in the picture, knowing that at that moment he had no idea how short of a life he was going to have with her. Hell, he probably wouldn’t have even cared, as long as he had her while he could. Shaking the thought out of my head, I browse each one. There are candid shots of them mixed throughout professional ones from events such as her graduation, Sierra and Jeremy’s wedding, and what looks like an engagement party. As I pass each picture, it’s becoming more real to me that she had a whole separate life before we reconnected. Strangely, I’m not bothered by it, seeing how happy she looks in these pictures, even though it was with another man and not me. I’ll admit that I was a little worried when she told me about their fighting, but looking at these pictures? I know Ty made her a happy woman, and I’m grateful that she had that while she could. Do I wish it had been me? Fuck yes, but what can you do? Coming to the last picture, I’m breathless as the image of Alexa in a wedding dress enters my vision. I’m moving in for closer inspection when she comes out of her room, stopping when she catches me. Her hand covers her mouth as she closes her eyes for a split second. She swallows hard before walking towards me. She reaches out her hand as if to touch my arm before pulling it back, obviously thinking better of it. “Jace, I… This is probably awkward, I’m sorry. I just… I wasn’t expecting you, and I don’t…” She trails off as she stares at the wall, glancing at the picture before turning her eyes towards the floor."
I'm a twenty six year old book junkie who is also obsessed with sports. Bengals, Buckeyes, Reds are my teams! I work for the government during the day, hang out with Air National Guard on the weekends, and am married to a guy 15 inches taller than me. We're quite the pair! We currently live right outside of Dayton, OH with our two cats. I've been reading since I was a kid. My mom was a librarian, so it was a given. Heck, she even made sure we watched Wishbone instead of the Smurfs. In 2011 when I graduated from college, my mom bought me a Nook, and then in the summer of 2012 I found this amazing site called Goodreads. I was introduced to so many amazing indie/self-published authors. After reading almost 400 books that year, my husband gave me the push to finally sit down and write my own. It was a rocky start, but over time the words started flowing and I couldn't get Jace and Lexi out of my head. If I’m not writing or looking through tons of photos of hot men, all in the name of research, then you can probably find me curled up with my Kindle, ignoring the rest of the world. I love my sports almost as much as I love my books. My other obsessions include red wine, hot men, country music, and all things Grace Potter. I LOVE to hear from readers, so please feel free to contact via any social media site listed below.
  • (1) eBook copy of Picking up the Pieces by Jessica Prince
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  • $5 Amazon Gift Card from White Zin Bookends

Blog Tour & Review: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?

Red Hill grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go until its stunning conclusion. This is #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire at her unforgettable best.

I shall start my review with this...

What happens when a virus spanning the globe reaches your home and turns ordinary people into mindless man-eating monsters?  Through the eyes of three very different characters, Red Hill explores the human condition when faced with unexpected and untold horrors.

The lives of three different people become intertwined when their world is ravaged by a virus that turns people into zombies!  Scarlet, a hardworking divorcee searching for her two daughters, Nathan, a young father trying to protect his only child, and Miranda, a college student trying to find refuge at her father's ranch along with her sister and their boyfriends are all pushed to their limits.

This was my first Jamie McGuire book and as a fan of The Walking Dead, I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel.  I can't help but compare the two storylines because they have several parallels.  However, what I did appreciate about Red Hill (and sadly, not something TWD offered) was the onset of the chaos.  We are introduced to Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda prior to the zombie attacks so it allows the reader to witness their initial reactions to these events. 

Jamie tells their story from all three points of view.  While typically this can be confusing or overwhelming, she was able to deftly examine the situation from all three perspectives all the while creating an exciting concurrent stream of action.  The story was not only well written, but the pacing keeps the reader engrossed as we try to figure out "what or who is next?"

The first half of the book is spent getting to know Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda as their try to determine each their next move.  By the second half of the book, they all congregate and take refuge at Red Hill Ranch which is located outside the city.  This is where the story takes a different turn as three people with different priorities have to get to know each other, learn to trust each other, and work together for the safety of those left.

The thing I love about books like this (and shows like The Walking Dead) is that they make you question everything!  We all knows that zombies are make-believe, but WHAT IF.  What if we, as ordinary people, had to defend ourselves from something stronger than ourselves?  As individuals, we can say that we're all rational and logical.  As a group, we're more likely to be panicky and stupid.  Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda don't have just zombies to fear.  How do you tell apart the good from the bad?  How do find the strength in yourself to do the things you know you need to do in order to protect yourself and those you love, even if it means doing things that are distasteful?  Our characters are forced to dig deep within themselves to face these realities.

While there is some romance, it's actually LOVE and it's many forms that takes center stage.  Love of a parent for their child/children, love for your partner, love for your sibling, love for humanity.  When the loss of life and family become commonplace, our characters begin to explore new relationships with one another proving once again that even when at odds, people need people! 

While you expect there to be death, I found myself getting attached to these characters and emotionally reeling from certain losses. *shakes fist at Jamie McGuire* The ending, while hardly a happily-ever-after was realistic and fit in perfectly with the story.  There is so much more to Red Hill than I can possibly fit into a review.  It is not an easy read, but it was certainly worth it.  It is a captivating tale about people's capacity for courage, strength, perseverance, and love.  I'd recommend it to fans of contemporary, post-apocalyptic horror, and zombies.
Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.Her most recent novel, Walking Disaster debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. She has also written bestselling contemporary romance Beautiful Disaster, and the Providence series. Jamie now lives in Enid, OK with her three children and husband Jeff, who is a real, live cowboy. They share their 30 acres with six horses, three dogs, and Rooster the cat. 

1 Winner will get a Jamie McGuire Tote Bag as well as a Signed Limited Edition of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, a copy of WALKING DISASTER and a copy of RED HILL. 


In which Isalys talks about bullying...

A friend of mine decided to share her story about bullying in honor of today being Spirit Day.  In the spirit of her post, I decided to share my own experiences with bullying.

Bullying is not a word I use lightly so I'll say that I was teased, quite mercilessly, for many years because of my weight.  Whereas my friend was teased for being "overweight", I was teased for being "underweight".  I was called names like "flaca", "palitroque", "paper", "flat chested" and even once "Anorexic Girl".  I was asked really rude questions like "Do you actually eat?", "Have you reached 3-digit numbers yet?" and "Does it hurt?" I hated being skinny so much that I even tried different medications in an attempt to put on weight (which as you can tell all failed).  All those moments hurt and frustrated me!  I couldn’t help my body type and yet I felt like I was being punished for it.  Those moments were little dagger wounds that scarred my soul.  With time and growth, they healed but left indelible marks.  You can never really forget!  I never contemplated suicide though. Not for a moment, because I was taught that there is so much more to live for.  I am fortunate to have amazing parents who always made me feel protected and taught me the importance of having self-worth.  Even though I shed my fair share of tears, it taught me about what it means to be vulnerable and to rise above it.  It taught me that we ALL feel!

Twiggy Isa is on the right
I am one of the lucky ones!  I found a wonderful partner who ALWAYS makes me feel beautiful and desirable, even when I don’t feel it.  He respects me and never, ever allows me to feel shame for being who I am…who I was meant to be!

I'm not a parent yet but my experiences, coupled with the life lessons that my parents and husband have taught me tell me about the kind of parent I hope to be one day.  I hope to teach my children about why it's so important to be kind and accepting of others.  I hope to teach them that friends come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  I hope to teach them that if they are ever bullied, that it's okay to talk about it [with us].  I hope to teach them to be proud of themselves and never hide.  I hope to teach them that we all get teased, sadly it's a part of life, but what really counts is being able to rise above it and grow from it.  And I hope to teach them the importance of laughter because it really is one of the best medicines!  (So basically, as parents we really have our work cut out for us, lol)

Bullying has become a cancer on our society, but it is not incurable!  It is now up to us to coach and guide the next generation to eradicate bullying!
"If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself then make a change."
~Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror"

Help Wanted!

We are just tickled that we get so many requests from authors and publishers wanting our opinions.  However, the number of requests we're getting lately is OVERWHELMING and it's time that we take on some help!

We are looking for 1 or 2 reliable reviewers to help manage requests and contribute reviews to Book Soulmates on a regular basis.

  • Only serious inquiries please! We would like to work with someone that is absolutely committed to reviewing for us.
  • Is able to produce well-written, thoughtful, respectful, and non-spoilery reviews that include some details about the book as well as your own thoughts and opinions.
  • Is able to work with deadlines as set by publishers and authors.

  • We will not be able to supply you with physical books. We will, however, provide you with ebooks.
  • Therefore, you must have an ereader or an ereader app where you can accept PDF, ePub, or Mobi.
  • Must be willing to review any (not necessarily all) of the following genres:
    • Contemporary Romance 
    • Historical Romance
    • Paranormal Romance
    • Urban Fantasy
    • New Adult
    • Young Adult
  • Must be willing and able to read and review 2 to 4 of our review books per month. We promise to work with your schedule and availability and not overwhelm you!  We will also do our best to always give you choices on the books that you accept from us.
  • If you have your own blog but are also reviewing for us, we ask that reviews for books provided by us be up on Book Soulmates for a period of 48 hours before sharing it on another blog or site.
  • We will happily accept reviews for non-assigned books so long as they fall within one of the specified genres listed above.

  • Plagiarism of any kind will NOT be tolerated!  We are very proud of the reputation that we've built and do not want to jeopardize that!  Only original reviews will be accepted so if you have trouble with this then no need to apply.

  • Lastly, we'd love to see a sample of your workYou will be asked in the application to include links to a couple of your reviews (on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc).

Thank you,

"Emma Approved" is here!

You guys know about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, right?

Of course you do!  You don't live under a rock after all.

Well, Pemberley Digital is back with their newest creation "EMMA APPROVED"  based on Jane Austen's "Emma".

Who doesn't love Emma and her mismatch-making schemes?

Episode 1 just premiered and you can watch it on:

Blog Tour: Second Verse by Jennifer Walkup

Bad things come in threes. In Shady Springs, that includes murder.

Murder Now
Lange Crawford’s move to Shady Springs, Pennsylvania, lands her a group of awesome friends, a major crush on songwriter Vaughn, and life in a haunted, 200-year-old farmhouse. It also brings The Hunt: an infamous murder mystery festival where students solve a fake, gruesome murder scheme during the week of Halloween. Well, supposedly fake.

Murder Then
Weeks before The Hunt, Lange and her friends hold a séance in the farmhouse’s eerie barn. When a voice rushes through, whispering haunting words that only she and Vaughn can hear, Lange realizes it's begging for help. The mysterious voice leads Lange and Vaughn to uncover letters and photos left behind by a murdered girl, Ginny, and they become obsessed with her story and the horrifying threats that led to her murder.

Murder Yet to Come
But someone doesn’t like their snooping, and Lange and Vaughn begin receiving the same threats that Ginny once did. The mysterious words from the barn become crucial to figuring out Ginny's past and their own, and how closely the two are connected. They must work fast to uncover the truth or risk finding out if history really does repeat itself.


When Jennifer Walkup isn’t writing or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and young sons, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and coming up with costume ideas for Halloween. She’s obsessed with good coffee and new recipes and likes broccoli on her pizza, flowers in her hair, flip-flops on her feet, and the number 13. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also serves as fiction editor for The Meadowland Review and teaches creative writing at The Writers Circle. Second Verse is her first novel.


10 Winners will get a signed Bookmark (open internationally)

1 Winner will get: The Romance Pack
Stickers | Bookmark | Leather Love Journal | 2 Love Picture Frames | $10 iTunes Gift Card | French Kiss Lip Gloss | Love Ring | Touched by Corrine Jackson | Breathe by Abbi Glines | Guitar Notes by Mary Amato

1 Winner will get: The Mystery Pack
Stickers | Bookmark | Halloween Journal | Creepy Tree Candle | Skeleton Girl Trinket Box | $10 iTunes Gift Card | Glitter Nail Polish | Skeleton Key Necklace | Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma | Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

If SECOND VERSE can get 75 Review ON AMAZON by November 1st (one month after release) Jennifer will do a giveaway for a KINDLE just for those who reviewed it! Winner will be chosen from the reviews, so don’t forget to read it and put that review up! ON AMAZON!

Must be 13+ To Enter – Shipping in the US Only

Blog Tour & Review: Wicked Thing by Angeline Kace

Title: Wicked Thing (Wicked Thing #1)
Author: Angeline Kace
Published: September 26, 2013 by Accendo Press, LLC
Reviewed by: Isalys
Reason for Reading: Copy provided by Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review.
Carmyn Rafferty witnessed the aftermath of her mother's affair. She learned at a young age not to trust anyone. Especially not your spouse. So she's planned. She's planned every detail of her life: who her husband will be, what their careers will be, what their lives will be like. All to avoid the pain of infidelity.

Dallas Brown lives a life all his own. He doesn't do relationships, he doesn't care what anyone thinks of him, and he doesn't live up to anyone's expectations but his own.

When Carmyn's fiancé cheats on her, it sends her into a whirlwind of one-night stands with the most infamous player on campus. She can't seem to stay away from this tough guy and his dangerous motorcycle. Everything about him is the complete opposite of who she'd planned to fall in love with: tattoos, dark stubble along his jawline, and hair that brushes his shoulders.

As Dallas and Carmyn begin to fall deeper and deeper into each other, they learn that love can truly be a wicked, wicked thing.
As a fan of Angeline's "Descended By Blood" series, I was really excited to read her latest venture into Contemporary New Adult.  As usual, Angeline did not disappoint me!

Many of us like to think that we have our lives all mapped out with a big, grand plan of how we're supposed to live it.  Carmyn lived her life entirely on the plan of having a plan.  At a young age, having witnessed her mother destroy her family, she does not want to follow the same footsteps.  While still in college, she's already figured out who she wants to marry, where they'll live, how many kids they'll have, and even what they'll drive.  However, life is anything but predictable and the one thing she tried to avoid was the one thing that turned out to be unavoidable.  Catching her fiancé "in the act" with another woman, she was absolutely devastated.  With the help of her best friend Ava, who is absolutely hysterical, she decides to throw caution to the wind and just have fun, starting with the biggest playboy on campus, Dallas Brown.

They say that opposites attract and that is not more apparent than with these two.  Dallas, unlike Carmyn, is carefree with little thought to what or who he'll do next.  He's a sexy, smooth, sweet-talking Southern boy who is irresistible to the ladies and he knows it.  Now that Carmyn is officially free, he intends to use those charms on hottest, formerly most ungettable girl in school.

Dallas is almost a perfect paradox. On the outside, he's the quintessential "bad boy" package complete with tattoos, a custom built motorcycle, and enough notches on his headboard that it looks like ancient cave drawings.  However, there's so much more to Dallas than meets the eye.  He's warm, tender, honest, intelligent, and protective.  Dallas didn't want to just seduce Carmyn, he wanted to conquer her.  He wanted her to want him like he wanted her!

Dallas and Carmyn's journey together was so much fun to read.  In fact, I started and finished it on the same day.  They had moments where I wanted to take turns knocking them each upside the head, but it's all part of the process of falling in love and learning from your stupid-ass mistakes, lol. Amiright? 

Wicked Thing was a fun, entertaining, and heartwarming story about two people who learn that falling in love is not always a part of the plan and who learn to let go, trust and forgive.

Sidebar:  Dallas and Carmyn's story concludes with Wicked Thing and so it reads like a stand-alone.  However, Angeline will be giving us Denton's story next.  Denton, even though he's only a secondary character in this book, plays a very important role in the culmination of Dallas and Carmyn's relationship and he has his very own story to tell!

As part of today's blog tour, Angeline has shared with us one of her unedited, deleted scenes.  This is from Camryn's point of view and it details what her mother did that ultimately led to her trust issues.

The very first scenes I wrote for Wicked Thing were a pivotal scene for Carmyn and another one for Dallas. I ended up using Dallas’s scene as the prologue and just had Carmyn mention what happens in her scene later on in the book. I thought it’d be fun for the blog tour, though, to share Carmyn’s scene with you guys first hand. Please note that since I didn’t use this scene in the book, it has not been in the hands of my editor.   ~Angeline Kace

I stand up and wipe my mouth after puking in Mrs. Rita’s daisies. I talked the school nurse into letting me walk the two blocks home when she couldn’t reach Mom on the phone to come get me. She must be out shopping.

The sun is shining and a mild breeze brushes against my warm cheek. It does little to ease my nauseous stomach. I can’t wait to be in my own bed.I’m ready to collapse by the time I walk through the heavy front door and pass the kitchen on my way to the stairs.

I stop short.  A man with gray sprinkled throughout his dark hair is standing against the island with his broad back to me. That’s weird. Dad doesn’t have grey in his hair. This man is older than him.  But the woman lying on the island with her legs wrapped around him is definitely Mom. Her shiny, brunette locks—the exact shade as mine—rain down over the side of the island.

I’m stunned by a million different things all at once. The first is that they’re having sex. I’ve had sex-ed so I know how it works. I’ve even seen it action when Martin down the street tried to show me one of his dad’s pornos last summer. Boy, did he get in trouble. But I have never seen it in real life. It looks like it hurts, but the loud noises they’re making aren’t in pain. It’s no wonder they didn’t hear me come in.  But the piece about this whole situation that repulses me more than anything else is that Mom is doing that with a man who is not Dad.

I clutch the strap of my bag back in my fist and squeak out, “Mom!?”

The man looks over his shoulder at me while Mom scrambles to unwrap her legs from his hips and cover herself up. “Carmyn, in your room. Now,” she says it like I’m the one who got caught having sex.

I’m so confused, frustrated, and sick in a whole new way that I follow the steps up to my room. I plop down on my bed and grip my stomach. This was not how I thought the rest of my day would go. I thought I’d come home and sleep until Mom got home and made me toast and an Orange Julius. I may not be able to keep it down, but the smell alone would have been comforting. The kind only a mother can give you.  But I’m sure toast and Orange Julius won’t help me feel better about this. Now I know why Mom wasn’t answering the phone when the nurse called. Does this mean Mom and Dad are going to get a divorce? If they do, what will happen to me? Who will get the house? Where will I live?

My heart thumps against my chest and my deep breaths fill the pocket of space remaining in my fetal position. I’m as small as I can make myself, but it still isn’t enough. The walls and ceiling are caving in on me, weighing on my lungs and it’s just a matter of seconds before they crush me.

The front door closes and then the floor boards creak as Mom comes up the stairs. She knocks softly. “Carmyn?”

“Go away!”

She opens the door and comes in. “Oh, honey.” The mattress dips as she sits down and rubs her hand along my shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!” I jerk away from her and scoot over to the other side of the bed. “What were you doing?” I’m disgusted. She disgusts me.

“Carmyn…I…Your father and I haven’t been happy for a long time—”

“What are you talking about?” I shake my head. Yes, they have. I’ve seen them; Dad always kisses her goodbye every morning and kisses her when he comes home. He looks at her like she’s his whole world.

“I’m saying I made a mistake. It happened only this one time and it won’t happen again, so your dad doesn’t need to know about it.” She looks at me sternly, her root-beer eyes blazing.

I sit up. I’m not intimated by her. Not this time. I tilt my head at her in question. Who is this woman who betrayed our family and is now trying to keep it a secret from Dad? “Mom—”

“It will only hurt him. I don’t want to do that to him. Do you?”

Me? She’s the one who did this. Not me! I didn’t think I could be anymore disgusted with her, but she’s full of surprises today. I glare at her. “You either tell him, or I will.”

We stare off for a few tense breaths until she nods and stands up. “All right, Carmyn. If that’s what you want. I’ll tell him.” It’s spoken as a challenge, tiptoeing as a threat. She turns, as graceful as ever, and walks out of my room.

When the door closes behind her, I scream and throw my pillow at the door. I wish it was something harder. And I wish it hit her.

My mouth salivates. I swallow hard as I jump off my bed and run toward the bathroom to vomit.

This day will change my life forever.
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