Sometimes it’s the monsters who need to be saved…
A migration of mythical creatures has begun, and more and more of them are landing on Zoey Donovan’s doorstep. As the only Aegis left in the country, it falls to her to protect the Hidden and keep them safe—and her house has become a sanctuary for water sprites, goblins, harpies, djinn and more.
Keeping track of her boarders is a full-time job, and Zoey’s already got her hands full trying to run her wedding planning business. Good thing she has a resident closet monster to keep her organized, and a hot Reaper boyfriend to help her relax every once in a while.
But she can’t keep up monster-triage indefinitely, and as more Hidden arrive, it becomes clear that someone—or something—is hunting them. In the midst of planning an event for a notoriously difficult client, Zoey’s got to figure out who’s behind the hunt…and she’s got to stop them before there are no Hidden left.
As I inched across the roof of my house, the harpy nestled against my chimney regarded me with suspicion. I’d have let her stay there, but the mailman could be coming up the street soon. With all the weird things he’d already caught glimpses of on my property, I didn’t think he’d go for some half-assed explanation that she was a Halloween decoration. Especially since it was April.
I drew closer to her, and she pressed herself against the bricks. By human standards, she couldn’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen, though maybe harpies had a different rate of aging. She was all boobs and hair and feathers. And she stank. She also clutched my car keys in her sharp, grimy claws.
I stretched my legs out on either side of the roof peak and sat back, straddling it. The harpy relaxed. I laid my hands on my thighs in as nonthreatening a manner as I could muster. I kept my voice low and casual—as casual as I could while squatting, two stories up, with cedar splinters poking me in the ass.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of here,” I said. “Are you okay?”
She frowned. I truly hoped harpies understood English, since my regular translator, an eight-month-pregnant brownie, was unavailable. The height wasn’t a problem—brownies don’t fall, they float. The climb was the issue. Molly didn’t need the strain. Her tiny body was already burdened enough with the thimble- sized life inside her.
The harpy stretched one filthy wing and shook my car keys. Her perky breasts jiggled. I kept eye contact, afraid to get caught staring. Seriously, though, they were impressive. I never felt I lacked in boobage until that moment, but if I had what she had, I’d head straight to Mardi Gras. They’d run out of beads and beer by the time I left.
An arm I didn’t know she possessed snaked out from under her greasy feathers and scratched a nipple before folding away.
She shrugged. “I’ve been better.” Her voice had a husky sound to it, like she’d been gargling with a handful of sand.
At least we could communicate. That was a good start.
“Anything you want to talk about?” I reached out to her with my empathic gift, opening myself to whatever emotions she might be leaking. Nervous energy pat- tered against my skin, tinged with the dark taste of fear.
She shook her head, and a hank of stringy blond hair dropped across her face. She peered at me, waiting.
I thought I heard a car and glanced out across the yard. No mailman yet. The driveway was clear. “Listen, we need to get you somewhere you can’t be seen, okay? You’re welcome here. Just not, you know, right here.”
She chewed on her bottom lip, thinking, measuring me up through her mat of hair. When she finally spoke, it was a whisper. “I don’t have anyplace else to go.”
I let out a breath. “Oh, honey, as long as I’m here, you have a safe place to be. You just can’t camp out on the roof. We’re protected here, but we still have to stay out of sight, okay? We’ve got trees in the back, if you want to stay in the open. There’s room in the attic if you want to come inside. No one will bother you there.”
The bird-woman shook her hair from her face and looked at me with surprise. “I can come inside?”
“Of course you can.” I smiled to reassure her. “And when you’re ready, maybe you can tell me what’s wrong?”
She nodded. “Maybe.”
I stuck my hand out, palm up. “Unless you were planning on a road trip, I could really use my keys back.”
She shifted from one foot to the other and eased toward me. A shingle knocked loose and slid down the sloping roof, crashing to the porch below.
A voice rose up the side of the house where I’d left the ladder. “Zoey! Is everything okay up there?”
The harpy froze, her face draining of color.
“It’s okay,” I said. “That’s Maurice. He’s a closet monster. You’ll like him. Everybody does.”
She looked doubtful. “You have a closet monster here?” She shuddered.
I suppressed a giggle. Like Maurice was a threat to anybody. “We have all sorts here. Maurice helps take care of everybody. I’m Zoey. What should we call you?”
“Viola. Vi, if you want.”
I grinned. “It’s nice to meet you, Vi. If you’ll hand me the keys, we can get down from here and get you settled.”
Vi scooted closer and dropped the keys in my outstretched hand. “Sorry about that,” she said. “They were so bright and shiny. Sometimes I act without thinking.”
I managed to climb down the ladder without hurting myself, and Maurice was at the bottom waiting.
“Why didn’t you answer me?” He frowned. “I was worried. And how much damage did you do up there? Are we going to have leaks when it rains? I’ve got a lot to do already.”
My lips curled in a tired smile. “Just a couple of shingles. It should be fine.” A shadow flitted above us and another chunk of wood dropped to the ground. “I need to run to the attic and open a window for our latest guest.”
Maurice sighed, his large yellow eyes weary, and his face even more gaunt and pale than usual. “I’ll take care of it. I need you to call Andrew. We’ve got a hellhound with some sort of mange or something. I put it in the garage. You’ve also got a pair of water sprites in your bathroom sink, and a family of gnomes is hiding under the back porch.”
I ran my hand through my hair and groaned. “All that showed up while I was on the roof?”
He nodded. “We’re running out of places to put people, Zoey. This is ridiculous.”
Rachel’s head is packed with an outrageous amount of useless Disney trivia. She is terrified of thunder, but not of lightning, and tends to recite the Disneyland dedication speech during storms to keep herself calm. She finds it appalling that nobody from Disney has called yet with her castle move-in date.
Originally from Northern California, she has a tendency to move every few years, resulting in a total of seven different states and a six-year stint in England. Currently, she’s planning her next grand adventure. Rachel has one heroic husband, two genius kids, a crazy-cat-lady starter kit, and an imaginary dog named Waffles.
She doesn’t have time for a real dog.
I wish I could tell you the contents of this book were purely fictional. That I, Adela Arthur, was just a normal sixteen year old from Portland; that dragons, giants, elves and mermaids were just myths. Legends shared from crazy old grandparents to crazy old grandparents around campfires; after all that is what I used to believe.
I never would have thought they lived on the other side of our mirrors in a world called Cielieu. But they do…
I never would have thought there were humans, better known as Volsin that lived among them with the ability to create light from a single thought. But there are…
I never would have thought I was one of them… But I am…
I am the last Arthur and I was brought to the human world after a Volsin, filled with greed, began to strip the light from our kind.
The human world was supposed to be a safe haven… but he’s found us and the only way to stop him is to go back to Cielieu and begin training as a student in the Elpida Castle of Light.
Like I said I wish the contents of this book were purely fictional and not my life…
“You look nice,” her grandfather told her as she rushed out in to the kitchen to search for the bus pass.
“Grandpapa you’re blind,” she replied, looking inside the fruit platter.
Despite the fact that she was dressed incredibly plain, something she cared less about seeing as how they were poor. She wasn’t joking, Grandpapa Keane was blind, and to the best of Adela’s knowledge, he had always been so. Luckily, he had impeccable hearing, which made his job as a musical instrument repairer quite easy, but not many people went to the local blind man to repair their guitar.
He chuckled under his breath.
“Yes, but I believe you look nice,” he told her in his dry, low voice.
Grandpapa Keane was a somewhat tall man, with silver gray hair that stopped at a little past his shoulders and a large wrinkle creased his forehead. But what made him truly memorable was his dry, scratchy voice. It sounded like he had a smoke stuck in his lungs, which he most likely did with the amount of cigarettes he went through. Grandpapa Keane always made sure to smoke outside whenever he thought she wasn’t paying attention.
“Thank you. Have you seen my bus pass?” She smiled, leaning into the counter beside him.
“Adela that’s cruel. You know I am blind.” He pulled his pale lips in to a thin line before he was unable to control his laughter.
“Ha-ha very funny. But if I cannot find my pass or wallet, I won’t be able to get to school on time. As much I would love that, I would miss my own surprise party.” Her dark long hair swaying as she moved toward the living room to continue her search.
He tried to deny it.
“There is no party,” he claimed.
“Ok grandpapa.” She knew better than to believe him by now. There was a party, there was always a party. The guest list was short; not many people could fit in their run down home at the edge of town.
“It’s in the car.” He laughed at her as he ate a strip of bacon.
“We don’t have a—Grandpapa you didn’t!” she complained. He just ignored her, dragging himself out of the kitchen and through the front door.
There, sitting comfortably in the weed and fungus covered driveway of their home, was a very old black and blue Honda Civic. The colors suited it well; it looked as though it had taken many beatings in its day. The paint was chipping off on its hood; the tires looked depressed and tired. She ran her fingers over it as if to make sure it was really there. Bits of paint came off at her touch.
Adela smiled as she stared at the car before her. “It’s beautiful…” she told.
They could not afford this; she wasn’t sure how he had managed to even get her anything but a bicycle. That was why it was beautiful.
“I had the boy make sure it was safe.” The boy he spoke of was Adela’s best friend, Hector Pelleas, the smartest teen in all of Ashland, if not all of Oregon. You would not think of him to be the car fixing type, but he just knew things.
“Stop overthinking it and go to where ever it is you go during the day,” he said, throwing her the keys before walking inside.
She did not move, just stood there, shocked. She pulled on the door a few times; it seemed the rust on its outer edges had cemented it closed. When she took a seat the engine roared to life with great force before coughing like it realized it was not the grand car it once was in its prime. The whole car itself shook slightly as if it were a tractor-trailer.
“Hello?” she answered her old cell phone with the half broken flip screen.
“Glove compartment. Now go or I will be forced to drive you myself,” Her grandfather said before hanging up.
Opening the compartment it revealed not only her bus pass, next to her wallet, but it also let out a foul odor. One of which Adela did not even want to know the sources of. She pulled out her license with a frown. It was hopefully the last time that thing ever saw the light of day.
With all the technology in the world you would think they would be able to make the pictures flattering, she thought.
Shaking her head at the run down house in front of her, Adela backed out of the driveway. It may have been the first day of fall but it did not seem that way. She had only made it a few blocks from her home when the skies opened; a full on downpour ensuing as a result. But that was Oregon. One-minute perfectly sunny day and the next you’re under a cold waterfall. This was just one of the ways that today was going to suck. She could feel it; she didn’t know why but she had this odd feeling, like something bad was going to happen.
She parked in the student parking lot and watched as the students of Ashland High ran under their jackets and books to avoid the rain like animals clearing a watering hole. High school was a jungle and something bad always happened in the jungle. She double-checked her zipper on her backpack before putting it over her shoulder. As she zipped up her old tattered jacket, she took a deep breath and prepared herself for the mad dash she was about to take. The minute the door was open she felt the cold water soak her jeans. Closing the door quickly, she ran as fast as she could into the brick building.
JUDYANN MCCOLE was a senior in high school when she started working on Adela Arthur and the Creator’s Clock during her history class. It started off as short story for a group of young kids she babysat for and grew into an adventure she herself wanted to go on. She is currently attending college in Virginia. Where she hopes to finish the next adventure in Adela Arthur’s life. She begin writing when she was in middle school most of it was just simple poetry but she was inspired by Maya Angelou and even a little of Dr. Seuss.
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Disfigured at birth and ostracized at school, Travis Hunter dreams of acceptance and secretly yearns for the affection of a beautiful young woman named Corrine. When a mysterious doctor promises to help Travis through something called lucid dreaming, Travis gets more than he ever bargained for and soon finds himself learning the secrets of love and life in a fantastic unconscious world.
“Roers’ debut novel heralds the arrival of an intelligent, heartfelt voice in the world of young adult fiction. The rich characters, emotional complexity, and confident prose are matched only by the landscape of dreams that Roers sets them against… a landscape brought vividly to life by the author’s seemingly boundless imagination. This is a novel that respects its readers as much as its characters, and that’s a beautiful rarity.” ~ Mike Flanagan, Filmmaker, Absentia and Oculus
“Natalie Roers’ debut novel is both riveting and relevant. More than a paranormal/fantasy/thriller, this is a complex tale that cuts to the very of heart of issues facing young adults today. Well sculptured characters and powerful imagery propel Roers’ fascinating narrative.” ~ Jason Tinney Award-winning freelance journalist, musician, actor and the author of the story collection Bluebird.
“Lucid is an interesting story and a fun read.” ~ Amy Carol Reeves, author of Ripper and Renegade
“Natalie Roers’ voice is amazingly confident for a first novelist. Her journalist’s eye for human detail draws you in, and makes you care about the people who populate the LUCID world. The more I got to know them, both awake and asleep in the world of lucid dreaming, the more time I wanted to spend in their world.” ~ Jeff Howard, writer for Film District and Focus Features.
A veteran writer, voice artist, and on-air personality, Natalie Roers has been the host of hit radio and television shows in just about every region of the United States.
She also owns her own voice-over business where she creates everything from songs and ringtones to commercials and sound effects for clients around the globe.
A journalist by trade, Natalie is excited to venture into the world of fiction and hopes to raise money and social awareness for worthy causes with each book she writes. She lives with her husband Cory, and son Austin, in Columbia, South Carolina.
Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn’t want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can’t pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn’t expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.
When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn’t take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia’s desire to stay “just friends” becomes clear, Ian’s feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?
Given how their afternoon had unfolded, the heat that ricocheted between them throughout the evening really shouldn’t have been a shock. Olivia had felt Ian’s want since she’d emerged from the bathroom, dressed in a sleek, fitted, black dress. Through the wedding ceremony, tucked into his side as his arm rested innocently against the pew behind her, she thought she’d burst at the feel of his finger tracing her bare shoulder. It had been a mindless touch, something she hadn’t even been sure he’d been aware of, and yet it had set her entire body aflame.
And now. Now, she was pressed against him as they danced, his hand touching her bare skin thanks to the low, open back of her dress. He held her close, closer than he ever had before, and even though she was two martinis into the night, she still found herself tongue-tied.
His fingers slowly slid up her back, following the line of her spine, and though she tried to hold it in, a shudder ran over her body. Her nipples hardened, and a tingle grew low in her belly. All from a single caress against her bare back. Jesus, if an innocent touch like that had her wet and ready to go, what would happen if he stroked her not so innocently?
She looked up into his eyes to find him staring directly at her. His eyes bounced over her face, no doubt taking in her heated cheeks, eyes heavy with desire, and parted lips. He pulled her close, and brought their clasped hands up toward her face. He brushed a single finger down the line of her jaw, and instead of moving away, swept his finger over her lips. It was scarcely a brush of skin on skin, but she moaned. It was low and breathy, and barely loud enough for her to hear, let alone Ian. Yet she knew the exact moment he did.
His eyes, scorching with a want she knew all too well, bored into hers.
“Liv.” He managed to convey so much want and need with that single word.
She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry, and tried to not sound breathless when she answered. “Yes?”
Ian’s finger was still on her lip, caressing it back and forth, and his focus switched between her mouth and her eyes. When he didn’t say anything more, she couldn’t take it any longer. Her tongue darted out, lightly brushing against his finger. With their eyes locked, she took the tip of his finger into her mouth and sucked gently.
“Jesus Christ.” It was a low rumble, spoken under his breath, but she heard it clearly. With a soft pop, she released his finger, her eyes imploring him.
Brighton Walsh is a storyteller at heart. Whether through words or pictures, she’s been weaving tales for as long as she can remember. After decades of cultivating her writing, she finally decided to give life to the voices in her head and set forth to write her first novella. Love is her first love, and writing about it is a dream come true. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a steamy book or partaking in some retail therapy. She lives in the Midwest with her swoony husband and two energetic kids who (fortunately) know nothing about the naughty things she puts down on paper.
Find her online at www.brightonwalsh.com
When Brynne left Alaska, she promised herself she would never go back.
The day after graduation, she got in her beat-up Honda Civic and drove down the west coast to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood makeup artist. Growing up in a rural fishing village with dirty, rundown buildings, and dirty, rundown men, she longed for the glitz and glamour of the silver screen. She had no qualms about leaving behind her dysfunctional family and her nowhere-job at her mother’s fishing tackle shop. She didn’t even think twice about leaving behind the cute boy who came in to buy gear almost every day, shamelessly flirting with her and always leaving a generous tip. Well, maybe she thought about it twice; but she knew that a relationship with Callder Murphy would only be bound to lead her deeper into nowhere. She was sick and tired of being nowhere—and no one.
Brynne set out, determined to prove to the world that she was much more than just a fisherman’s daughter. Unfortunately, her luck and tip money ran out in Seattle when her car broke down. Exhausted from the stress of travel, she decided to take a waitressing job in the city for the time being. “For the time being” ended up being far longer than she would have liked. That was four years ago. Now, a call from home has alerted Brynne to some bad news. She needs to get back to Soldotna promptly, but she has been living paycheck to paycheck and can’t even afford a plane ticket home. Enter a ghost from her past as her knight in shining armor. Unexpectedly showing up outside her restaurant in a red Ferrari, Callder is determined to take her home with him, and keep her there for good.
Perpetually drunken playboy, Callder Murphy, is currently loaded. Of course, that’s only because he stole his big brother’s credit card. He was off in Vegas, doing what he does best (absolutely nothing) when he received the call from home. A name he hasn’t heard in years pulls him out of his mindless haze of stumbling from one wild party to the next: Brynne Ambrose needs his help. Pleasant memories of the rude, tomboyish, and completely adorable girl-next-door come rushing back to him with a vengeance. He drops all of his shenanigans and cleans up his act instantaneously. He uses his brother’s credit card to buy an impressive car, and sets out to win over the girl of his dreams. He knows he’s no good for her, but he can’t stay away.
Callder has been waiting his whole life for the opportunity to be her man, and he’s not going to let her slip away again.
Nadia Scrieva lives in Toronto, Canada with no husband, no kids, and no pets. She does own a very attractive houseplant which she occasionally remembers to water between her all-consuming writing marathons.