Thursday, December 24, 2015

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Happy Holidays!

I'm giving away one $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!

To enter, post a comment about your favorite books of 2015.'

Winner will be announced December 25th. 

One entry per person.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Promo Spotlight: LIES by C.A. Harms

Title: Lies
Series: Phoenix Undercover #1
Author: C.A. Harms
Genre: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Release Date: November 24, 2015
FBI Agent Joshua Phoenix goes undercover…Deep. 

Thrust into a world of drugs and criminal activity, integrating himself into the Russian Mafia turned out to be much more than Josh bargained for. 
It’s dark and it’s dangerous. 
The lives they destroy along the way will never be the same. 
The things he is forced to do will haunt him forever. 
Even more importantly, he never planned on meeting her… 
A chance encounter with Real Estate Agent Gabriella Shannon, has Josh questioning his ability to complete his mission. 
And now the dark world may consume them both. 
He’s in too deep. 
Leaving now would only risk the safety of those around him. 
But when his cover’s blown Josh is forced to make a decision that will reroute his future. 
One decision. 
The hardest decision he will ever have to make in his life. 
And those he meant to protect will be the ones who suffer the most…

“There are a few twists that were cleverly placed that even I didn't see coming and the ending WOW that ending will make you want to stalk the authors ass it's a whammy!!”~ ✨✨✨✨ 4 Star Review Kitty Kats Crazy About Books
“This is a great story and one I will continue to anxiously await the next releases. I love some mafia and murder … for sure love me some hot ass FBI agents. I cant wait to read on. There is much more suffering to be dealt out.” ~✨✨✨✨✨ Ramblings From Beneath the Sheets 5 Star Review
“OMG!!!! OMG!!!! OMG!! This was the best book I have ever read in my life!!! CA went out of her comfort zone with this book. And she made a home run, Detective Joshua Phoenix is my frigging hero.”~ ✨✨✨✨✨ Goodreads Reviewer 5 Star Review
Placing my elbows at the edge of the countertop, I collapsed on the barstool, feeling exhausted. I had never been on a date where I felt like I needed a vacation only two hours in.
“What can I get ya?” the young guy behind the bar asked.

“A decoy, maybe a smoke bomb.” He looked at me in confusion. “Date from hell, dude. Ever had one of those moments where you’re wondering how the fuck you got yourself in such a mess?”

He chuckled and looked up over my shoulder.

“Oh.” He smirked and nodded. “Marissa.” 

The fact he knew her name made me cringe. I had a feeling this was worse than I had initially thought. “Oh fuck, what? She’s a stalker or some freaky chick that’s gonna claim we’re engaged? I’ll spend months getting her to leave me the fuck alone, won’t I?”

He handed me a beer and shook his head, chuckling to himself, then poured a shot of tequila and set it on the bar next to my beer. “You’re gonna need that.”

I let my head fall to my hands and grumbled as I mentally cussed out Greyson and myself for even showing up.

“Good luck, man.” 

I didn’t even lift my head. It was pointless; I knew he was eating this up. His laughter faded as he worked his way down the bar, serving others.

“I see you don’t suffer from coulrophobia,” came a soft whisper from my right.

I immediately lifted my head and was taken aback by the girl sitting at my side. How had I missed her?

Oh, I know, I’d had tunnel vision as I ran from Cruella toward my next drink.
“What?” I asked, yet all I could focus on was her piercing blue eyes. I had never seen eyes that blue before. 

“The fear of clowns,” she stated. “Coulrophobia.” 

I remained focused on her beauty, taking the time to look at each feature, wondering why in the hell she couldn’t have been the brunette from the coffee shop. My night would have been a whole hell of a lot better if she was in Marissa’s place.

I knew I was staring, but I couldn’t stop myself. She had mentioned something about clowns, but I was lost. I had no idea what she was talking about. My gaze fell to her plump, full lips, and I smirked. No red lipstick graced them. They held only a sheer film of shiny gloss, and I loved that she preferred the more natural look. When they curved upward in a smile, I didn’t feel even the slightest bit embarrassed that she knew I was checking her out so closely. 

When her eyes met mine, she nudged her head toward Marissa. “I was referring to your date. She kinda resembles a clown.”

I stared at her and could see she was fighting back her laughter. She lifted her drink to her lips and took a small sip before lowering it.

I could no longer hold back my own smile. “I fucking hate clowns.”

C.A. Harms is like any other addicted reader. She enjoys happy endings and HEA love stories. She hasn't always been a lover of Romance and had once been addicted to a good Mystery. Just recently she has taken on a new liking and now is a full blown Romance novel addict.
She lives in Illinois and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. You will always find her with her kindle or paperback in hand as it is her favorite pass time.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Promo Spotlight on Matthew J. Metzger

1.  Tell us about your newest release.

Thicker Than Bone is about this perpetually nice guy, Ali, who is asked to donate bone marrow to his older brother, who has cancer. Usually, Ali wouldn't even need asking -- he donates blood to total strangers on a regular basis, and the idea of letting someone die is horrific to him.

The problem is that Ali's brother, Tony, is an extreme racist, and nearly murdered Ali's partner, Yazid, because Yazid is a former Muslim.

Over the course of the novel, Ali has to decide whether he's going to effectively condemn his brother by refusing to donate, or donate to the man who nearly killed his partner.

It was a lot of fun to write, partly because Yazid is probably the most upbeat and fun character I've written in a long time, certainly out of my main characters, and the way he and Ali bounced off each other was a breeze. This is probably my favourite of my works at the moment.

2.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your story?

How therapeutic it can be to have an out-and-out bad guy. I had a lot of fun writing Tony, more than I thought I would have. He's full-on nasty, very violent at times, and there was something refreshing about getting to show that kind of person.

3.  Do you have any interesting or quirks or rituals?

No, I'm afraid I'm pretty boring when it comes to writing!

4.  What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?

Nobody really. I've been writing since I could hold a pen, and making up stories even longer. It wasn't encouraged in my family at all, but I just kept doing it anyway. Writing books seemed a natural conclusion over the years. I wouldn't say anyone influenced me to do it.

5.  What does your family think about your career as a published author?

Oh, it's a silly hobby. My aunt in particular is always frustrated with me for rattling away on the laptop instead of watching Emmerdale with her. We're all scientists and engineers in my family -- writing isn't proper work. I don't really mind, as I'm a data analyst in my day job and I could never write for a full-time living anyway.

6.  Besides writing, what other interests do you have?

I'm a big traveller. I'm planning a month long holiday to New Zealand when I can afford it, and there's a lot more of South America I need to see. Craziest experience of my life was looking down the wrong end of a military rifle in Venezuela in 2009 while trying to convince the soldier holding it that I wasn't an American. Never found my passport that fast in my life!

7.  Can you tell us what is coming up next for you?

I'm currently working on a couple of transgender young adult novels, and I have a gay young adult novel coming out with JMS Books on 20 December 2015. As far as adult romances go, there's several ideas and a couple of series needing work, but nothing concrete as yet. Although I have some people on Twitter nagging me for asexual romances!

8.  How can readers connect with you online?

Twitter, Facebook and occasionally I can be found at my website.

If you could save someone's life, would you? Anyone's?

Ali's older brother has a swastika tattooed on his knuckles, a prison ID number for nearly beating a man to death for the crime of being Middle Eastern, and spent his teenage years ruthlessly persecuting Ali for being gay.

Blood may be thicker than water, but Ali has spent most of his life desperate to prove that he is nothing like Tony. A committed vegetarian, charity-supporter, and blood donor, Ali would do anything for anyone, and is frequently teased by his partner, Yazid, for being too soft-hearted. Ali may share parentage with Tony, but he is determined not to share anything else if he can help it.

So when Tony contracts leukaemia, and Ali is the only match for the urgently-needed bone marrow transplant, Ali is caught between two equally awful choices: to refuse, and condemn a man to death, or to donate.

And in donating, save the life of the man who nearly murdered Ali's Iraq-born boyfriend?

Click here to find out more, read a sample, and (of course) buy a copy of your own.


Matthew J. Metzger is an asexual, transgender author dragged up in the wet and windy British Isles. Matt writes both adult and young adult LGBT romance, with a particular focus on the gritty situations and people often left out of the typical romantic set-up. When not writing, Matt can be found crunching numbers at his day job, sleeping, or pretending that he owns his cat, rather than the other way around.

If you could save someone's life, would you? Anyone's?
Ali's older brother has a swastika tattooed on his knuckles, a prison ID number for nearly beating a man to death for the crime of being Middle Eastern, and spent his teenage years ruthlessly persecuting Ali for being gay.

Blood may be thicker than water, but Ali has spent most of his life desperate to prove that he is nothing like Tony. A committed vegetarian, charity-supporter, and blood donor, Ali would do anything for anyone, and is frequently teased by his partner, Yazid, for being too soft-hearted. Ali may share parentage with Tony, but he is determined not to share anything else if he can help it.

So when Tony contracts leukaemia, and Ali is the only match for the urgently-needed bone marrow transplant, Ali is caught between two equally awful choices: to refuse, and condemn a man to death, or to donate.

And in donating, save the life of the man who nearly murdered Ali's Iraq-born boyfriend?
Yazid gave up trying the moment that the clock on the wall ticked over to seven. Tracy cheered. "Get yerself on the other side of that bar!" she crowed, shoving Yazid hard in the back. "G'wan, yer ingrate, yer not one of my staff no more!"
Danielle, his pink-haired replacement, giggled and started pouring a Guinness before Yazid could even ask for it; he laughed and whipped off his work shirt to the delighted shrieks of a hen party just starting up in the corner.
"Put that away!" Tracy jeered, her strong accent turning it into 'pertharraway.' She tossed Yazid his backpack from the storage cupboard under the till, and he obediently offered the hen party a little self-indulgent flex or two before tugging a t-shirt over his head and 'putting it away.'
"Knock it off, you lot, 'e's a gay-boy!" Tracy shouted, and the bride-to-be, one of their regulars, whistled even louder.
"Even better then, get it back out and give us a show!" she yelled back and Yazid laughed.
"Speaking of gay-boys," Tracy said, "where's yours?"
"Family thing," Yazid said, grinning at Danielle when she plonked the liveliest Guinness he'd ever seen in front of him. "His mum's birthday, I think. Maybe his sister's. I dunno, I wasn't listening."
Tracy crowed with laughter; Lee, one of the kitchen skivvies, loped past and clapped Yazid so hard on the back he nearly hit the bar.
"Lucky you, getting to escape this place," he said, and Tracy hit him with a packet of crisps. "Oi! Cow!"
"Pick yer knuckles off the floor and get movin' with them bar snacks!" she retorted. Yazid snorted as Lee was scolded back into the kitchen, and downed a third of his Guinness in one gulp.
"Steady on, love," one of the other barmaids said. "No plans later, then?"
"Nah," Yazid said. "Starting the new job next week, but the other half couldn't get much time so our little party's at the weekend."
She blew up into her fringe. "That's disgusting."
"Didn't fink you was 'omophobic or nuffink," Danielle said in her thick London accent. She was a student working to pay her fees to the University of Leeds, and was routinely mocked for the way she spoke. She didn't seem to mind.
"Nah, the bit that's not right is that he gets a bloke like that, and I don't," the barmaid said.
"Like what?" Danielle asked.
"Like that," came the significant reply, but before Yazid could work it out, a pair of arms slid around his shoulders and a kiss landed against his temple.
"Hello, gorgeous."
"Hey babe," he beamed, twisting to offer a one-armed hug. Ali slide onto the stool next to his, a broad smile splitting his wind-flushed face. He looked stunning, and Yazid — emboldened by the fact he'd never have to step foot back in this place if he didn't want to — leaned across to kiss him.
"I made some excuse to Mum," Ali said. "Wanted to come and see you instead."
"Damnit, I was going to get with Lee round the back later," Yazid whined, and Tracy shrieked with laughter.
"Now that would be sick," she said. "What can I get you, my love?"
The bar was empty but loud, the hen do and a couple of lads at the pool table making it seem busier than it actually was, and as the evening shift drifted in for their own patterns, Lee and Lizzy, one of the cleaners, clocked off and joined them for a toast to Yazid's new job and 'escaping the madhouse' when Tracy was out of earshot. Yazid's good mood was bolstered by a win on the fruit machines, and then the hen party staggered off to start their bar crawl proper, and their little party of four squashed into the abandoned booth.
"Gonna be almost feminine without you, mate," Lee said, clacking their glasses together messily. "Won't be no blokes left!"
"Yazid doesn't count as a bloke," Lizzy argued. "Gays don't count!"
"More bloke than any of you tarts," Lee snorted.
"Definitely all bloke," Ali said. "When you're not being a princess," he added snidely, and Yazid laughed, dropping an arm around him faux-casually.
"Princess Yazida, that's me," he agreed, to Lee's good-natured ribbing and Lizzy's alarmingly high giggle. "Lizzy, he just means nobody to discuss the football with without having to compete for you girls."
"Sorry Lee, you just ain't my type," Lizzy said, and waggled her fingers in front of her chest with a leery grin. "You just ain't got the knockers!"
"Neither have you, you flat-chested tart!" Lee retorted, and Yazid laughed. He waved to Danielle for another pint, feeling at ease and relaxed, and quite prepared to get a bit wankered now Ali had shown up and would steer him vaguely homewards at closing time. Maybe with a detour to —
"What the hell are you doing here?!"
Ali's angry voice jolted Yazid out of his happy buzz, then there was a fist in his t-shirt and he was jerked from his seat to the wall, the slightly sticky paintwork hitting him too hard in the back and his quarter-pint of Guinness crashing down his trousers to the floor.
"What the—"
"Shoulda known it was you," Tony Barraclough snarled at disturbingly close range. His teeth were yellow, and he stank of cigarettes and weed.
"Oi!" Tracy bellowed from the bar.
"Get off me," Yazid snarled, and shoved. Tony was either too stoned or too surprised, and staggered back a good couple of feet. "You're barred, now get the hell out," he snapped, the good mood thoroughly gone. He'd had quite enough of this. At least at the new job, he could shove the bigoted idiot's hand in a deep fat fryer if he came knocking.
"Tony, get out of here!" Ali shouted.
"You skipped out for him?" Tony growled. His voice was hoarse and raspy.
"I have a life!" Ali shouted, throwing up his hands. "You should try one, now try it elsewhere!"
"Now," Tracy snapped, stalking over from the bar, all five foot nothing of her. "Yer barred, now get out before I 'ave the police in 'ere."
"You skipped out," Tony snarled, ignoring Tracy entirely, "for this Muzzie piece of—!"
Lee started up violently from the table, his dark skin burning to black in instant anger. "You shut your—!"
The noise level started to rise, Lee and Tony both yelling over each other, and Tracy's shriek demanding Danielle to get one of the bouncers in, or call the police. Yazid found himself straightening his own back, squaring up to Tony's aggressive stance. Okay. Thug wanted a brawl, he'd get one. Yazid was sick and tired of this utter crap.
"Tony, piss off!" Ali shouted, riled up maybe the most by his brother's appearance, and Tony's lip curled.
"You skip out on your own sister for this bit of halal meat, s'at how it works, Ali?" he snapped right back, and Yazid opened his mouth without thinking.
"Nah," he said, making an obscene gesture at his own crotch. "Halal drains the blood out, not pumps it up full. This meat's all haraam, babe."
Tony moved. His arm lashed out, something flashing in the dim light of the bar, and there was —
There was a blur of motion, and then pain and heat exploded across Yazid's face. The room spun; he felt the wall against his cheek, then his arm, and then he was sitting on the floor and people were screaming. There was hot liquid running down his face, and the entire world was red and black, splashes and round dots vying for his attention. He felt himself sway, and put out a hand to catch the wall, only to miss and slump against it head-first. Pain. Pain-pain-pain. There was —
There was a loud bang, and the bouncer — N...Ni... — the bouncer was shouting, and then there were dark shapes and Yazid could feel his stomach rolling.
"Bucket!" someone yelled. "Trace, get me a bucket, he's gonna hurl!"
There were hands on his arms and shoulders, and Yazid closed his eyes, feeling sick and shaky from the spinning. The heat was still coming, and his hair and clothes felt wet. He could smell Sol — and that was it, he opened his jaw and threw up painfully. The clang of metal and the stench of vomit said the bucket had been dutifully got, and the screaming was morphing into the shrill call of a siren.
"What—" he tried.
"Easy, mate." Lee. "Easy. You'll be all right."
"It's okay." Softer, gentler — higher. More frightened. Yazid twitched with the need to stop that fear, and curled his fingers around a hand that found its way to his. Ali. "It's okay, you'll be okay, you're okay, oh my God..."
Then the pieces slotted together — and Yazid realized, just as he recognized the heavy thunder of police boots on the weak boards to the main bar area, that he'd been bottled.
Then he blacked out.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Promo Spotlight: FLOCKSDALE FILES by Carissa Ann Lynch

Title: Have You Seen This Girl and House of the Lost Girls
Series: Flocksdale Files
Author: Carissa Ann Lynch
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Wendi Wise is a troubled young woman who snorts her breakfast through a straw and spends more time in rehab than in the real world… 

Her life is seemingly out of control.

But now she has a plan.

That plan involves a sharp set of butcher knives. 

She's going back to where all of her troubles began…


Wendi was lured away from a local skating rink, at the age of thirteen, and held captive in a place she calls 'The House of Horrors.' Dumped off blindfolded on the side of a dirt road, Wendi soon discovered that she was addicted to the drugs they fed her while she was captive. 

Too scared to go home, and having a new habit to deal with, she hopped on a bus, vanishing from the family she loved. 

Vanishing from Flocksdale…

The town of Flocksdale is littered with fliers with a grainy image of young Wendi, and the words 'Have You Seen This Girl?' written below. 

Now, eight years later, she's on a mission—a mission to find the mysterious house from her youth and the monsters who dwell inside it.
Present Day: I lost my straw three hours ago, which sucks because it was my favorite one. Getting up to look for it seems like a painstaking, insurmountable task right now, but I pull myself up to a sitting position and swing my legs over the side of the bed. The “bed” is nothing more than a dingy, rust-colored mattress that lies on the floor of a two-room basement apartment in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The threadbare carpet that covers the floor provides no support for my feet, and frankly, it stinks. I get down on my knees and lay my face flat against the carpet, holding my breath and peering under an ancient, stained armchair and the dresser that stands beside it. Now, where the fuck is that straw?

All I can see are dust bunnies, mouse droppings, and the carcass of a cockroach. No straw. I let out a frustrated groan. I give up searching, stand back up, and pad across the hall to the tiny bathroom I share with my current boyfriend, Michael, or “Mick” when he thinks he’s cool. I plop down on the toilet, running my hands through my tangled mop of greasy black hair.

I wait for the pee to come. Then wait some more. I can remember one of my old AA mentors, telling me once why opiates interfere with bodily functions like peeing, for instance. It was something about wires in the brain getting crossed…I wish I had a stopwatch to time this affair, but then it finally comes and I let out a sigh of relief.

Mick’s clothes from the night before are strewn across the bathroom floor at my feet. Suddenly I have a thought, and begin rummaging through the pockets of a brown pair of khaki shorts that I remember him wearing last night. I find what I’m looking for: a tattered black wallet, worn out from age and being sat on all day long. I open it up and peer inside. It only contains two dollars, but that’s fine by me—all I need is one.

Pulling out the faded, crumpled bill, I smooth it flat against the round edges of the wash basin. Once flattened, I begin slowly rolling it into a perfectly cylindrical mini-version of my straw. It’s basically perfect.

The dope is in my bedroom drawer, along with my razor. Using the tiny blade, I lovingly chop the heroin until it is fine and powdery, and then use the rolled up dollar bill to suck it straight up my nose. Its taste hits the back of my throat instantly and drains down through my sinuses, a sensation I used to loathe but have grown to love.

Wiping the residue from my nose noisily with the back of my hand, I glance at Mick, who is still passed out on the bed. Getting high makes him sleepy, but it fills me with an insatiable need to do something productive.

Our bedroom is dotted with tiny land mines of crumpled t-shirts, inside-out jeans, and day-old panties. I make my way around the room, picking them up and tossing them all into a wicker laundry basket in the corner.

Besides the bedroom and bathroom, we have a small, windowless sitting area, a narrow galley kitchen, and a small extra bedroom that we use for trash and other random items. I move my cleaning to the living room, gathering up snack wrappers and empty Solo cups, and then carry them into the small silver garbage can under the kitchen sink. The sink is filled to the brim with two-day-old dishes, so I start filling the sink with water and shampoo.

I’ve been out of dish soap for weeks now, but the hair care product seems to get the job done so I don’t complain. The water from the faucet never gets hot because our gas got shut off months ago. If I want hot water, I have to boil it. This all sounds ridiculous, I know. This is the twenty-first century, but my addiction has me back in the Stone Age, because when you’re an addict, you don’t spend money on things like food, water, clothes, electricity…you spend it on drugs. At least the truly hardcore addicts like me do.

Crusty teacups, sauce-covered plates, and sour-smelling utensils permeate the water, rising steadily to the brim. I plunge my hands into the frigid, cloudy water and begin mindlessly washing.

For the past six months, our daily life can be divided into three segments: looking for money to buy heroin, finding the drug, and then getting high. Oh, I almost forgot about the fourth segment: coming down from the drug—my least favorite time of day. Our entire life revolves around heroin and our bodies rely on it to function. It’s not about getting “high” anymore because I never feel lifted or high-spirited, or overly anything these days. We wake up feeling low and we need it to feel normal. Maybe they should change the expression to “getting normal” or “avoiding feeling like shit,” instead of “getting high.”

Today will be different though. Today I have a date with my good friend rehab, and in six hours from now, my daily routine should change dramatically. Mick isn’t going, but I’m fine with that. He’ll do his own thing when he’s ready. I’ve been planning this for a month now, and finally the phone call came: a bed opened up at the local in-patient clinic and today is the day to report.

I’ve been to rehab before, and will mostly like go again after this stint, but everything is about to change. This time around, major plans have been made for when I get out of rehab.

Those plans involve me and a sharp set of butcher knives, but I’ll explain that later.

Perhaps you’re wondering how I got this way. Or perhaps you don’t give a damn. Either way, this is my story. It’s not a story about addiction. This is a story about murder.
Seventeen year old Marianna Bertagnoli is miserable…
Not only did her father abandon her five years ago, now she’s being uprooted and forced to move with her mother and new stepdad to a creepy Victorian house they inherited in the even creepier town of Flocksdale.
Flocksdale has an evil, ugly past—and history has a way of repeating itself…
Marianna notices some strange qualities about her new home, and soon realizes she’s living in none other than the infamous House of Horrors. That’s right, the very house where the demented Garrett family ran a drug ring, leading to the kidnappings and murders of forty young girls.
The dark energy of the town begins to rise again…
Within a week of moving in, Marianna’s mother disappears, one of her small group of new friends is found murdered, and she’s attacked by a man wearing a hideous clown mask. As she searches for answers, Marianna wonders if the malevolence still lingers, somehow alive…and how her stepdad came to own the House of Horrors.
Unsure who to trust, Marianna turns to Wendi Wise, a survivor of the Garretts’ crimes…
Caught up in twisted family ties and surrounded by deceit, Marianna is targeted by a new generation of evil. Doubly imprisoned—in her own body and in the real house of the lost girls—Marianna needs Wendi’s help to unravel the bizarre history of Flocksdale.
But will Marianna survive long enough to bring the evil to light…or will she be trapped in the house of the lost girls forever?
Chapter One

Fuck Flocksdale. Not my words—someone else’s. The flat black spray paint obliterated the real words—Welcome to—on the shiny metal sign greeting us on our way into Flocksdale. Our new town. Not my choice of towns—someone else’s.

In the backseat of my parents’ SUV, I was slumped down in the seat with yellow earbuds shoved as far into the openings of my ears as they would go. The ornery words aroused me from my black mood, and I leaned forward, pressing my face to the glass as we passed.

I tried not to smile. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who hated this town.

“Wow. That’s just great,” my mother said, also noticing the nasty words scrawled on the sign as we passed by. “Who would do something like that?” she asked.

“Oh, honey. You know who. Rotten teenagers,” my stepdad uttered disgustedly, staring back at me in the rearview mirror. I may as well have written the words myself based on his nasty look. It was so obvious that he hated me. Why couldn’t my mother see that? Or maybe she sees it and just doesn’t care, I thought bitterly.

I narrowed my eyes at my stepdad darkly, sliding back down in my seat. I turned up the volume on my iPod, switched the song to Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. I mouthed words to the song, lonely lyrics about walking alone, as we entered my new town of Flocksdale.

I hated him…not my stepdad, but my real dad. For leaving my mom and I five years ago, and ultimately, bequeathing me to this asshole. Everything between my mom and dad was fine, and then one day it wasn’t. He left a note, saying he was going to live with his new girlfriend.

A note. If I ever got to see him again, I had a few notes of my own to give him.

My mom and George got married only a year ago, but George had been wrecking my life ever since.

Like right now, for instance.

He had accepted a job in Flocksdale, and even though my mom had her own job in Ohio, and I had my school and friends, here we were—starting over. Our lives didn’t matter to him. It was all about him, furthering his career goals. He didn’t care that I had to leave my old school. The school I’d attended my entire life…

Despite the explicit greeting on the way in, the part of town we drove into seemed quiet and quaint. It was nearly ten o’clock at night, but the main street was free of motorists and the sidewalks held no pedestrians. Rows of brick buildings, apparently small businesses, lined the street on both sides, “We’re Closed” signs firmly displayed in their windows.

“Well, this definitely looks like a peaceful town, Georgie,” my mother said, using that stupid pet name I hated for ‘George.’ She patted my stepdad’s arm, her attempt to let him know she was fine with moving here. That she’d forgiven him. Her eyes fluttered back to meet mine, encouraging me to do the same, but I closed them, refusing to cater to Georgie’s sensitivity. Well, I haven’t…I mouthed sulkily.

I was never going to be okay with moving here. Technically, I was almost eighteen and soon to be free to go anywhere I wanted. But even after I finished my senior year of high school, at my new school, there was supposed to be college and all that…

In other words, I was stuck with my mother and surrogate daddy for at least a few more years. And now I was stuck serving out my time in this lame-ass town called Flocksdale.

“Are you sure anyone really lives here?” I asked, yanking my earbuds out. My mother shot me a death glare and my stepdad ignored my comment. He’d grown up here in this dump, and I knew insulting his alma mater would get under his skin.

But getting under his skin was turning out to be one of my favorite pastimes.

I twisted my hair in a tight bun and started packing up my book and iPod into my messenger bag. It was all I’d brought, besides my duffel bag containing a few outfits. Everything else was coming by U-Haul. I didn’t care about my stuff. It was my friends and school I worried about leaving behind.

I was relieved to see lights up ahead, illuminating a McDonald’s and CVS as we entered the heart of town. So, there is civilization here, I thought wearily.

More businesses—a grocery store, diner, coffee shop, and a badass-looking used book store. Then the stores faded away and we entered a cluster of residential houses and neighborhoods. The houses were small and close together, mostly shotguns, but then they got larger and grander as we got further from town.

“We’re getting close. It’s on the river,” George said, his voice taking on an excited, boyish tone. I knew we were getting close to the water because the houses were taking on a strange quality. Some of them were sitting up high on stilts. I’d never seen anything like it.

“I guess they’re worried about floods here,” I remarked softly. I had to admit, the houses looked pretty cool, sitting up high on solid, wooden beams. Like they were too cool to hang out on the ground with the rest of the houses.

“Yeah, sometimes the river gets high around here. But there hasn’t been a major flood in forty years,” my mom said, answering for George.

But then he said, “Nearly thirty houses and businesses were torn down and rebuilt. They built smarter the second time around, preparing for floods. But we won’t have to worry about that…”

Rolling down the window, I leaned my head out, sucking in deep breaths of damp July air. Why did they tear them down? And who were “they”? I wanted to ask, but then I could almost hear…water.

There it was—rolling, murky water with steaming pipes from a nuclear plant on the other side of the river. A huge sea of nothing but water, and more nothingness beyond it. An old, metal walking bridge glittered in the distance. “It’s down here,” George nearly whispered, taking a turn onto Clemmons Street.

There were nearly six houses on both sides of the street, all built on stilts . But at the end was a gigantic Victorian home, its own flood wall behind it, sitting right on the river. It towered in the black night sky, moonlight dancing crazily on the rough waters in the background.

It was beautiful in an eerie sort of way and as we pulled up in front of it, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand upright. Could it be…? The House of Horrors…?

That’s right. I did my research on this place. The town of Flocksdale had a history. A nasty, evil sort of history.

Nearly twenty years ago, a deranged family ran some sort of trafficking/drug ring. The bodies of nearly forty young girls were found buried in the crawlspaces, basements, and backyards of the townspeople involved in the operation. The townspeople of Flocksdale.

All of the perpetrators were either apprehended or dead, but it still gave me the creeps. I’d read everything I could find on the internet about the murders. In some of the write-ups, I’d read about the description of the main house used in the kidnappings and subsequent killings—an old, creepy Victorian. A description that seemed to fit this one. Surely, there were other Victorian homes in this town? Right…?

I’d tried to tell my mom, and even George, about it. But George ignored me, and my mom said, “Every town has history and crime is everywhere, Marianna. George grew up there, so it must be all right.” Yeah…that made me feel a whole hell of a lot better.

George parked the SUV in a concrete driveway out front of the house. I made no attempt to get out. I stared up at this beautiful monster of a house, wondering what was in store for me in this creepy little town with its even creepier history. I shivered involuntarily. Two words came to mind: Fuck Flocksdale.
Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I've always loved to read and never considered myself a "writer" until a few years ago when I couldn't find a book to read and decided to try writing my own story. I'm the author of Have You Seen This Girl? (Flocksdale Files Book #1), Grayson's Ridge, and This Is Not About Love. I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, children, and massive collection of books.