Archive | August 2014

Dangerous Boys Release

Out Now!
August 14th, 2014

Boys by Abigail Haas

Three teens venture into the abandoned lake house one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. 
Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in
the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? 
Desperate self-defense?
Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the
truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…

Add to Goodreads:
“Dangerous Boys is a taut, compelling thriller balanced on the razor’s edge of suspense. I could not put it down, and could not stop grinning wickedly as I raced through the pages.” — Leah Raeder, USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable
“Abigail Hass is a master at her craft! This is a special bookand a special author. This is the kind of storytelling and writing that stick with you no matter how much time passes.” — The Book
Geek Blog
“As with Dangerous Girls, the closing left me with a huge, admittedly rather twisted smile on my face. I don’t know how Haas manages to turn me into such a gleefully evil creature.” — Dahlia Adler, blogger.
“Dangerous Boys was an intense, psychological read which was full of suspense and drama,…Abigail Haas has a way of writing books which reel you in and keep you there, hooked and addicted until
the very last page.” —
Abigail Haas
Abigail Haas has written two adult novels and four young adult contemporary novels under the name Abby McDonald. 
Dangerous Girls is her first young adult thriller. She grew up in Sussex, England, and studied Politics,
Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She lives in Los Angeles.

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Dangerous Boys teasers







From the critically-acclaimed author of DANGEROUS GIRLS comes a new dark, twisted thriller…
“It all comes down to this: Oliver, Ethan, and I.”
Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense?
 Or murder?
Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together – a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces.
Release date: August 14th
Early praise:
“Dangerous Boys is a taut, compelling thriller balanced on the razor’s edge of suspense. I could not put it down, and could not stop grinning wickedly as I raced through the pages.” — Leah Raeder, USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable
“Abigail Hass is a master at her craft! This is a special book and a special author. This is the kind of storytelling and writing that stick with you no matter how much time passes.” — The Book Geek Blog
“As with Dangerous Girls, the closing left me with a huge, admittedly rather twisted smile on my face. I don’t know how Haas manages to turn me into such a gleefully evil creature.” — Dahlia Adler, blogger.
“Dangerous Boys was an intense, psychological read which was full of suspense and drama,…Abigail Haas has a way of writing books which reel you in and keep you there, hooked and addicted until the very last page.” —

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Why Fairytales Still Appeal to Us: Free Agent Blog Tour

This is a guest post from J.C. Nelson on why fairytales have stood the test  of time. 
I drew much of my inspiration from the old fairy tales while writing Free Agent, and one of the questions I kept asking myself was “How is it that stories that are at least four hundred years old
find new life even today?”
I bought a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales for research. This book contained variant after variant of the fairy tales.  Some of them differ only by a few words – others have entirely different endings to the same story.  And as I read, I realized that the themes I saw in the stories are themes that remain relevant to this day:
  • Blended families failing to blend. (Snow
    White, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella.
  • Unfair deals: (Rapunzel, Jack and the Bean
    Stalk, Rumplestiltskin.)
  • Perseverance, Faith or Virtue as a route to
    happiness: (The Girl with No Arms, The Goose Girl)
  • Desperate people driven to desperate
    measures: (Hansel and Gretel, The Goose Girl)


I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of blended families. The number of women or men that come prepackaged with children is huge, and a blended family takes a ton of work.  So even today we have mothers who favor, consciously or unconsciously their own children over others. We have fathers
who come down soft on their own children.
Even today we have people who get a raw deal in life and it’s the only deal they are offered. Even today we know people who choose happiness in the face of despair, people who get kicked in the teeth by life and get back up, and people who hold faithful to partners through the worst of times.
The magic changes. It becomes more codified.  Sometimes it becomes science fiction, with nano-bots replacing fairies and genetic engineering taking the place of wishing wells, but the message remains the same:
  • You can beat death.
  • You can survive unfair circumstances.
  • You can thrive in the midst of the cesspool
    that often is life.
  • And somewhere out there, there’s a happy
    ending for you, too.


I think more than anything, that’s what people who love fairy tales want to hear. That evil can be beaten, and people with more power stand up for the weak, even when it means facing giants, fairies and murderous creatures.  That those who hold on and hold out can outlast evil and live happily, if not ever after.
That’s going to be popular forever.

When it comes to crafting
happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy
Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince
charming—as long as you can pay the price…

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

About the Author

A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle.
Fins JC Nelson:
Agent on GoodReads:
Free Agent Now:

Rafflecopter giveaway: 1 Signed Print copy of Free Agent, 4 electronic copies of Free Agent:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The New Year’s Eve countdown told
me I had five minutes until the ball drop. That gave me six minutes until
somebody got killed. I spotted the shoplifter in line at the theater and worked
my way across the street, through the teeming crowd. She had no idea what she
was wearing, which made her both stupid and dangerous. Stupid was dangerous
enough by itself.
“Marissa, I might remind you of
the time,” said a man’s voice. It came right out of the store window beside me,
the dry voice with its not-quite-English accent. He watched me with critical eyes.
“I got it, Grimm.” I walked along
the theater line, head down.
His image followed me, reflecting
from the windows and even the brass banister knobs that held the velvet rope.
“I’ll believe that when you actually do.”
Call it women’s intuition, or
maybe the slippers she wore tipped her off, but the shoplifter turned and
looked right at me. Our eyes met, and she knew why I was there, if not who I
was. As the crowd surged forward, she ducked into the theater, disappearing
into the throng.
“God Damsel-it.” I spat out the
faint taste of soap. “Doesn’t count, not a real curse.”
“Watch your language, young lady.
Only proper women live happily ever after. Now, go get those slippers back.”
Grimm appeared in the ticket window, beckoning me on.
If I had enough Glitter to buy a
happily ever after, I wouldn’t have spent all day chasing a thief. There were
easier ways to make a living, and definitely safer ways.
I breathed in the warm lobby air,
laced with enough butter, fat, and salt to make me gain a couple of pounds just
from walking through.
The ticket man watched me as I
approached, jiggling my leg. “I’ve got to go. Could you save my spot in line?”
He rolled his eyes, the apex of
teenage angst, and motioned me past. I’d been to my fair share of balls and
knew where I’d go if I had a pair of shoes that were killing my feet. I headed
straight to the bathroom. Nobody in the prep area, but I listened. There, soft
sobbing, and the click of high heels on ceramic.
“The slippers won’t come off like
that.” I hoped I wasn’t talking to a Grandma, but the sobbing cut off.
Grimm coalesced into the mirrored
wall, his white hair framing the bald spot on his head. He looked at me over
horn-rimmed glasses that masked eyebrows like a yeti’s. “Marissa, two minutes.”
If I’d had something handy, I’d
have thrown it at the mirror. In the name of not having a magical disaster, I
decided to commit the cardinal sin of the ladies room. I tried the stall door.
As my hand touched it, the door burst open, hitting me in the face. Pain made
the world flash white. I put my hand to my nose and felt the blood as she
dashed out of the restroom. Grimm told me the shoes were enchanted, but the
fact that she could run in three-inch heels meant serious magic. Now I knew I
had the right girl. In the lobby, the fire alarms wailed as I came out of the
bathroom, and I caught a glimpse of her running out. I charged after her,
through the fire exit and into the alley.
I wasn’t afraid of your average
dark alley. I had standard Agency-issue spells in my coat and a nine millimeter
in my purse for dealing with the less dangerous pests, but even I knew you have
to be careful with an upset woman.
She pulled at her feet and limped
down the alley. “I’m not giving them back.”
No way was she going to outrun
me. Tennis shoes might not be the height of fashion, but I wore them for their
practicality. I slipped a bag out of my pocket. “This will let me take them
off. You can’t remove them because you stole them.”
She stumbled, then slumped
against the wall, her feet out in front of her. Passing taillights made the
glass slippers glisten, moving and shifting, like something alive. That made
sense, since Grimm said they were. The glass filled with red, like she’d cut
her toe. The bloodstain spread up the sides of the glass and she began to
gurgle and cry.
I pulled out my pocket compact.
“Grimm, I might have a problem.”
“Tell me you have them.”
“Just about.”
“Get out of there, Marissa. She’s
not going to turn into a pumpkin.” His voice was firm and commanding. I’d never
been the type to listen to firm or commanding. See, there was this thing about
magic slippers. Use them with permission, and at midnight the whole deal
expired. Steal them from a custom boutique on Fifth, and at midnight turning
into a vegetable was the least of your worries.
She curled into a ball, kicking,
growling, and making noises I’d never heard outside of the labor and delivery
room. Running through the theater was out; heading back in there would
introduce a whole load of teens to a different kind of monster than the movie
ones. The loading bays down at the end of the alley didn’t look too promising,
and now Princess PMS rose to her feet. The bloodred stains covered her from
head to toe. Shadows covered her face, but where the orange wash of the street
lights hit her she looked maroon.
“You want to let me help you?” I
asked. The growling noise she made ruled out diplomacy. “Okay, we do it my
She leaped at me. I’d mastered
seven different forms of self-defense and I wore all four of the major
protection charms, but one thing was constant: Whether my assailant was a drug
addict or a bridge troll, pepper spray would leave them blind. So I ducked out
of the way and gave her a dash of the scent I was sampling that day. It hit her
like a brick, leaving her clawing at her eyes. I realized as she stumbled past
that her nails were now at least three inches long and razor sharp.
She started sniffing the air,
then like a dog, she ran straight into me, knocking me back to the Dumpster.
Dumpsters hurt. I caught her arm before she could give me surprise plastic
surgery and slammed her into the ground, pinning her underneath me.
That should have ended it, but
she rolled over, throwing me to the side, and I barely stepped out of the way
of those nails. She kicked at me and I caught her foot.
“Gotcha,” I said, rubbing the
shoes with the bag. Grimm said the bag was made of genuine werewolf fur, but
whatever it was, the effect was immediate. She thrashed and choked and kicked
and I held on tight until she went limp. The slippers came off in my hand
without a fight.
They glimmered under the
streetlight, and for a moment I saw an image form in them: Me, walking down the
street in them. No Agency bracelet on my wrist, a bag from shopping in my hand.
I could be free, if only I put them on.
“Marissa,” said Grimm, speaking
from the reflection in the shoes, “put them in the bag.”
I did, and the fantasy blew away
like dry leaves down the sidewalk. My back hurt where I’d hit the Dumpster. My
arm throbbed where she’d grabbed me, and my cheek had that hot feeling that
said somewhere in her thrashing, she’d managed to nail me with a foot.
“I’m going home,” I said to my
compact mirror. “What do you want me to do with her?”
“Leave her for the police.
They’ll be there shortly. Evangeline needs your assistance on the Upper East
Side, and there’s the matter of a troll.”
“I’m going home.” I knew full
well he’d heard me the first time.
“I’ve got work for you, Marissa,
and if you are ever to get your own ever after—”
“The only after I’m interested in
right now is after a bottle of wine and after a long night’s sleep. I’ll see
you when I’m ready for work.”
“Marissa, you need to ask
yourself what you want more: A night’s sleep, or another job.”
I wiped a trace of blood off my
lip, took a look at my bruises in the compact. Everything about me ached and
the cold seeped out of the shadows into my bones. I put my hand on the bracelet
and made my decision. “Tell Evangeline I’m on my way.” Nights like this made me
wish I’d never gotten started in this business.

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PICK ME! PICK ME! Pitch Wars Mentor Bio

G’Day from Down Under. You are reading this…and I am probably sleeping because  you are probably on the other side of the world to me.

The Pitch Wars process is like this school yard team picking contest where the mentors all start off going “pick me, pick me” and then you guys choose four of us you want to submit to and it’s your turn to be all “pick me, pick me.” 
So this is me, looking at you with pleading eyes, begging you not to leave me off your list if we’re a fit. 
To start off with, a little about me! 
I’m an Aussie writer, published in some anthologies and with a couple of novels looking for a home, as well as a pile of WIPs waiting for me to finish them. My day job is in PR (so if I’m your mentor, and you get an agent, and you get published, I can totally help you with your book promo :D). 
I also intern for a publisher (so I totally see what editors are crushing on).
I used to be a marketing director for a publisher (see two points up).
My writing is across YA, NA and Adult, as well as in a variety of genres – including Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction and Contemporary (so if you write it…I might too).
My literary nickname is The Query Whisperer because when I work on queries, my peeps get requests (so if I help you hone your pitch, you could get tones of requests from agents. My Pitch Wars mentee got the 2nd highest number of requests, and my Pitch Madness teams kick a lot of butt). 
I love cats, superheroes, comics, gaming and my family. 
Onto what to expect from me if I am your mentor. 
I am brutally honest, but not mean about it. I will point out why I love, but I will also point out any character and plot issues to make sure that your MS will be the best that it can be. I will also help you with your pitch. I will also be there for you after the contest is done. 
What am I looking for?
Categories: YA and/or NA only. 
Genres: Anything goes. And I mean anything. 
I am open to any genre, and if you actually can’t pin down a genre then I REALLY will want to see it. I love:
Dark books – thrillers, sci-fi, contemporaries. 
I love funny books – humour is a big deal for me. 
EDIT: You can see my tweets about more specific wish lists on my twitter feed and on my Pinterest Board

Here’s some books/authors I adore to give you an idea of my book-loving diversity:

  • Curse Worker Series 
  • Lux Series
  • Across the Universe
  • Anything by Courtney Summers
  • Losing It
  • Before I Fall
  • Easy
  • The Falconer
  • Forget Me Not
  • Dark Inside
  • Sweet Evil


Some things I don’t love:
  • Ridiculously high word counts. 
  • Confusing pitches. 
  • Weak openings


So come and surprise me! Looking forward to seeing you in my inbox…hopefully…if you chose me…
Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Easy-Linky widget will appear right here!This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.

If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.

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Forget me not

My amazing Alpha Reader, Stacey Nash, has a book 

birthday today! FORGET ME NOT is out now and it is one of the most gorgeous Speculative Fiction stories going around!

There’s a great giveaway offer at the bottom of the post, so make sure you check it out. 
About Book One: 


Forget Me Not by Stacey Nash
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
Published August 1st, 2014
Anamae is drawn into a world which shatters everything she knew to be true.
Since her mother vanished nine years ago, Anamae and her father have shared a quiet life. But when Anamae discovers a brooch identical to her mother’s favorite pendant, she unknowingly invites a slew of trouble into their world. They’re not just jewellery, they’re part of a highly developed technology capable of cloaking the human form. Triggering the jewellery’s power attracts the attention of a secret society determined to confiscate the device – and silence everyone who is aware of its existence. Anamae knows too much, and now she’s Enemy Number One.
She’s forced to leave her father behind when she’s taken in by a group determined to keep her safe. Here Anamae searches for answers about this hidden world. With her father kidnapped and her own life on the line, Anamae must decide if saving her dad is worth risking her new friends’ lives. No matter what she does, somebody is going to get hurt.
About Book Two: 


Remember Me by Stacey Nash
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
Published October 1st, 2014
When all is lost, she must remember…

Anamae Gilbert managed to thwart The Collective and rescue her father, even though his mind is now a shell. Determined to stop Councilor Manvyke hurting her family again, she’s training to become an active resistance member and enjoying a growing romance. But things never sail along smoothly – Manvyke wants retribution. And Anamae’s name is high on his list.

After a blow to the head, she awakes in an unfamiliar location. Anamae can’t remember the last few weeks and she can’t believe the fascinating new technology she’s seeing. She’s the new kid at school and weapons training comes with ease, but something feels off. Why does the other new kid’s smile make her heart ache?

And why does she get the feeling these people are deadly?

About the Author:
Stacey Nash writes adventure filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. When her head isn’t stuck in a fictional world, she calls the Hunter Valley of New South Wales home. It is an area nestled between mountains and vineyards, full of history and culture that all comes together to create an abundance of writing inspiration. Stacey loves nothing more than writing when inspiration strikes.
Pre-order buy links:
Chapter 1
It’s not getting any easier to tell my mother what’s happened, what she’s missed, what’s been going on in my life. It’s not getting any easier to survive each day without her. It’s not getting any easier to think of her and not cry. Elbow on my writing desk and chin cupped in my hand, I stare at the yellow notepaper. The lines across it
are as empty as my pounding head. The spot where the tip of my favorite pen touches is marked by a growing dot, evidence that there are no right words. It’s sure as heck not getting any easier.
Hoping to find inspiration, I glance at the photo waiting to be slipped into the envelope with
this letter. Normally I put aside a nature shot for her, but this one’s a ‘selfie’ of me and Will. His sandy hair looks kind of messy the way it falls into his bright eyes, and his arm, resting over my shoulders so naturally, pulls us close together. Our grins say more than words ever can.
Twirling the pen between my fingers, I gaze out the window at the soft autumn afternoon and daydream about what to write. A distant clang like metal against metal sounds from outside. Will must be at it again. I shoot up, lean over the desk, and raise the window, letting a rush of warm air brush my face.
His jean clad legs stick out from under the hood of a beat-up car parked in their yard. That car is like a full time job, he works on it so often now. He backs out and hoists a motor, or something, onto his shoulder, lifting like it weighs no more than his kid sister. He looks up, catches me watching him, and grins. I wave and, with a sigh, plonk back into the chair, dropping my gaze to the blank sheet in front of me. I really want to write her.
For nine years I’ve been writing these letters and placing them in my top drawer with a photo. It’s become a
yearly tradition. At least if we ever find Mom, she’ll know what my life’s been like.
Nothing comes to me. None of the thoughts ambling through my mind are quite right, so I drop the pen, pinch my lips together, and tap my fingers on the desk in a sharp rhythm that cuts through my aching head. I need the right words.
I last saw her on an ordinary March school day the year I was eight. She packed my lunch, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and waved goodbye. I climbed into the bus. As she stood on the curb, she didn’t look happy or sad, scared or frightened—just the same as any
other day.
Heaviness squeezes my chest and makes each inhalation of breath hurt. I’ve played that day back in my mind over and over, analyzed every detail: her wave, her smile, her words, her haunted look. Did she know it was goodbye?
Not knowing leaves a complete emptiness inside me. Knowing if she’s alive or dead, or why she hasn’t come back would make it so much easier. Especially since Dad barely mentions her anymore, and no matter how many times I turn her photos around, they continue to spin and face the wall. I guess it’s just too hard for him.
I shake my head in an effort to expel the memories, but it’s no use. The lines on the paper blur, my eyes slide shut, and it hurts too much. I can’t do this right now. Grabbing my camera off the desk, I slam the window shut and run down the stairs, shouting to Dad, “I’ll be back for dinner.”
“Wait. Can you grab milk?”
He walks out of the kitchen, a five dollar bill pinched between his fingers. I pluck it from his outstretched hand and turn to leave, but his hand closes over my shoulder, spinning me around.
“Everything okay?”
I close my eyes and expel a long breath. He won’t want to hear it, so there’s no point sharing. “I miss her, too.”
He pulls me into his chest, and it’s too much. Tears roll down my cheeks, and I throw my arms around
him, holding him as tight as I can while he runs a hand over my head. “Sweetheart.”
I cling to him. “It’s just…”
“I know.”
He holds me for a long time, until my tears stop.
I pull away, I rub the telltale streaks from my cheeks, and shove the money in my pocket. “Milk, right?”
He nods, and I turn for the door. “Anamae,” he says, “I love you, kid.”
A weak smile raises my lips. “Love you, too.”
Outside, I head straight to the white picket fence separating our yard from Will’s. He’s been my
best friend since he moved here in the sixth grade, and I’m so grateful his parents decided quiet suburbia
was a better place to live than the inner city. I slap my hands onto the flat tips and stretch over, calling, “Will.”
He peers around the corner of the house, and the sight of his smile is enough to rattle this awful mood.
“Sure. Two minutes.”
Fishing for weeds in the garden occupies the time while I wait. The Averys have the nicest yard on our street. A perfectly manicured lawn complete with stone statues and spiky plants in white pebble gardens. Will’s
mom likes being fashionable and modern, obvious from the gravel now crunching under his feet. Appearances aren’t important. Sure it’s nice to look good, but it’s not the thing that matters most. That’s one of the things
just doesn’t get about me. I always wear faded jeans and comfy t-shirts, yet she constantly tries to dress me
up. Make me look like a girl. Still, she’s been like a second mom to me. She even gave me The Talk. I just about
died when I realized what was happening.
Will’s coming.
“Hi, Mae.”
“Hey.” I grin. Love it when he shortens my name.
We stroll down our wide path and turn onto the next street. It’s only a few blocks from our street to a small cluster of shops. The short walk, fresh air, and Will’s banter help lighten my mood. The cafe comes into sight, and I grab his hand, dragging him across the road toward another storefront—an old shop. Aqua paint peels off the
walls around huge glass windows, and two stories rise up above us. Like all the shops on this street, a big tin awning slants out over the pavement, and a balcony juts out above. Albert’s Second-Hand Treasures emblazons a window spanning the shop’s front. Through the window piles of odd stuff are visible, cluttering the inside. According to the kids at school, it’s evidence the old man who owns the store is a little unhinged, which earns this place the nickname, Crazy Al’s. But to me, it’s far more than that. ‘Crazy Al’s’ been a part of my life almost as long Will.
“Bet you can’t find the weirdest one today,” I say.
Will raises his brows and shoots me a look that says ‘you’re insane.’ “Really, this old game? I thought you wanted to get coffee.”
“Oh, come on. I need some childish fun.” I lean in toward him an smile. “Bet you can’t win.”
I also need to see Al, not to talk… just see him. His grandfatherly ways might make me feel better.
I drag Will toward the front door, and all the while he shakes his head and scuffs his heels. “Okay, but loser
buys coffee,” he finally says, “and cake.”
He pushes me through the door, making the bell overhead jingle. As he heads toward a large table in the far corner of the shop, a small smile crosses my lips. Glancing toward the counter, I stop at a long bench and paw  through ancient yellowing books and old jewelry scattering it in a disorganized mess. I’ve no idea how Al even knows what’s here.
Al raises his white-grey frizzy-haired head from the newspaper sprawled on the glass counter. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he throws me a warm smile which somehow makes me feel a little better.
Running my hand over the ‘treasures,’ I stop at a ceramic owl perched amongst the clutter on the table. When I turn it over in my hand, chubby little claws grip the sides of a skateboard. I hold it up so Will can see it. “Check this out.”
“A skating owl?” Will laughs. “I can top that.”
He holds up a book with the title Peanuts in Love. On the cover two peanuts hold hands, their cute little shell bodies in a sea of pink hearts.
“Not good enough.” I scan the table looking for something better and spot a pile of old movies scattered over the next table. I move them aside one by one, looking for a good title. Sunlight dances across the table and glints off something shiny. A blue flower with a yellow center. My heart jumps, the only part of me still moving. It can’t be. Surely Dad didn’t pawn it or give it to Al. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. It can’t possibly have been made into something else.
A small noise of surprise escapes my lax mouth, and a memory flashes into my mind: the pendant lying on Mom’s pillow the day she disappeared.
Will chuckles from the corner. I drag my gaze away from the flower brooch to see a bright pink pith hat sitting atop his sandy head. He eyes my open palm, which now holds the brooch. “You call that weird?”
I run my fingers over the cool glazed metal, and a lump grows in my throat. “It’s the same as the forget-me-not pendant Mom always wore.”
Not missing a beat, he raises his voice toward the back of the shop. “How much?”
Al pauses in his perusal of the paper, two fingertips touching his tongue as if to dampen them as he
flicks a page over. His bushy eyebrows lift, and he clears his throat. “Gosh, lad, for that?” I hold up the brooch, and Al squints at it. “It’s for Mae?” He smiles at me.
“Yep.” Will pulls his wallet out, and empties the coins into his cupped hand.
“Nothing,” Al says, then flicks his gaze to me. “Tell your Dad poker’s on tomorrow night. All the boys are coming.”
I return his smile with a nod. “Sure thing, Al.”
“Take care, Mae.” He doesn’t mention today’s Mom’s anniversary—the day she disappeared, but he doesn’t have to. Even though he never knew her, I’ve always suspected it’s why he took me and Dad under his wing. Especially after Nan died; her death upended the last slither of normalcy we had.
“No refunds….” Al says.
“Without magic,” I chime in on his usual farewell. No wonder people think he’s crazy, since he’s always saying stupid things. A sign hangs on the wall above the counter mimicking his words. No refunds without magic.
We walk out the door, and the bell jingles. “You owe me cake,” Will says.
“I do not. The brooch won.”
“No way, the peanuts definitely—”
“The peanuts did not beat the skating owl,” I say, and we both laugh.
I want to go home. I want to go straight to mom’s pendant. I want to compare it to this brooch, but I promised Will cake and coffee. He’d understand, but it wouldn’t be fair after dragging him out here. Although
it makes me a little impatient, I’ll wait.
After hanging out with Will, I climb the stairs into the rarely used, cold, dark attic. Goose bumps prickle my arms with each step. This place is so eerie. Holding my hand out, I grope around in the dark until it closes around the cord for the light switch. A sharp tug illuminates the room with a soft glow which highlights the dust floating in the air. Pressure grows in my nose, and I hold my breath to suppress a building sneeze.
A corner of the chest which holds all my mother’s most precious possessions peeks out from behind
cardboard boxes. I need to see the pendant and make sure it hasn’t somehow been altered and made into this brooch. Something so precious to her can’t be lost. A wooden creaking noise makes me spin around so fast my neck kinks, but the entry is empty. Phew. If Dad catches me up here… don’t think about it. He won’t know, as long as the driveway stays empty of his car, I’m safe.
A tight knot grows in my chest, anyway. An image of Mom running her thumb over the charm she wore everyday lingers in my mind.
I ease open the lid of the chest. Love letters, a few small items of jewelry, and other precious odds and ends rest on top of a discolored wedding dress, as if every last item was placed in here with care. Dust and the smell of moth balls make my nose twitch and finally bring on the sneeze.
Blue fabric, the same color as the brooch, peeps out between a stack of old envelopes. I slide it out of the bunch with care and peel back the fabric, my fingers slipping on the soft, smooth silk. My breath catches at the sight of my mother’s pendant.
My memories of it remained unchanged by time. It’s exactly as I recall. Five blue petals come to a yellow center, creating the shape of a forget-me-not flower. The pendant hangs on a long chain with shiny, silver
looped links.
The sight of it brings back so many memories. The only time I ever saw my parents fight… Mom shouted so loud I covered my ears, and Dad responded in a low emotionless voice.
Young and scared, I hid in the curtains while she screamed. Her last words were punctuated by her yanking the pendant off and tossing it across the room. Dad scooped it up, crossed the room in long strides and pulled her to him. His fingers traced the edge of her face before he kissed her. He lowered the pendant over her head, and the angry lines on her face melted into a smile. It’s not exactly a good memory, but it was her.
Now, I find myself smiling, too. Surely he won’t mind if I wear it. Something so precious to her shouldn’t be left to rust in the attic. I’m almost certain she’d want me to have it, so I slide the pendant into my pocket with the
brooch and pack the other contents of the box away.
Easing the door closed, I climb out of the attic and head to the bathroom to clean my dust-covered hands. Water rushes from the spout and splashes against the sides as the basin fills. A reflection of me stares back at me
from the mirror, my dirty hand clutching my aching chest. Today everything feels so raw, open, and fresh, like it
only just happened.
She should still be here.
Rubbing my hands clean, I delve into my pocket for the jewelry. Bringing it to my collar, I pin the brooch into my blouse. The hard edges prick my skin. My thumb brushes over the smooth, round sides of the pendant
and when I pull it over my head, the chain catches on my hair. After I twist it through the tangle so it finally falls cool against my skin,it nestles in the hollow of my throat. I pick it up between my fingers and with reverent slow strokes, rub my thumb over the shiny yellow center—the pendant Mom never took off.
A shiver shoots up my spine and out through my limbs like an electric current, zapping every cell, every fiber, every part of my being. Walking on graves, that’s what Mom would have said. Maybe it’s an omen about her.
I plant my palms on either side of the full basin and peer into the still water, taking a moment to collect my thoughts. The water reflects only the cream ceiling. That can’t be right. I do a double take.
My chest tightens. I hold my hand up, but I can’t see it—not my arm, not my chewed fingernails, not my leather watch on my wrist. Where am I? Mouth gaping, I look into the mirror again, but I see nothing. Not
even my face.
I dip my finger into the warm, reflection-free water. Circles ripple in ever growing rings, but there’s no image. My gaze flits to the mirror, but I see only the open door. I have no reflection.
My stomach flutters like a thousand butterflies are trying to escape it. I slap my palm onto my chest, and I can still feel me. I must be here. When I slide the pendant over my head, my reflection blinks onto the mirror.
Huh? Pulling it back on, my hand brushes the cool metal. The ripple goes through me again. I look into the mirror,
and once more my reflection’s gone. I grab my hairbrush from the drawer and wave it around in the air, but its image isn’t cast in the mirror either. It has to be magic, but that’s only in fairytales. Will’s not going to believe this, not in a million years. I pull the pendant over my head and my reflection returns. No way. It can’t be, but it is. I’m almost certain it’s making me invisible, but how?
I put it on—invisible. Take it off—visible. It doesn’t make any sense. How can something like this—like those video games Will plays—even exist? It must be a magical artifact or some kind of prank. My shoulders shake with a chuckle while I stare at myself in the mirror. This is unreal. I bet he’s gone right back to working on his car. He’ll love this. Ha! Now let’s see who found the weirdest treasure. I slide it back on and wipe my damp hands on my jeans. Watch out Will, I’m going to sneak up and scare the life right out of you.
A sharp rap, someone knocking on the front door, echoes up the stairs. I duck into my room, unpin the brooch, and place both forget-me-nots in the jewelry box on my dresser. The rap sounds again. “Coming.” I bound
down the stairs, through the living room, and yank the door open.
A man in blue overalls carrying a toolbox holds a yellow box-like thing snug in his palm. “My name is Thomas. I’m from the East Coast Natural Gas Company. There’s been a gas leak reported in this area, so I need to check the levels in your home. It won’t take a minute.”
A green flame and fancy words, the logo for East Coast Natural Gas, are embroidered on his loose,
navy overalls. He’s legit, so I unlock the screen and pull it open, letting him inside.
The man’s gaze meets mine as he walks past me, into the living room. He scratches his head of close-cropped dark hair, and moves his hand to his chin, rubbing it along the shadow of facial hair lining his jaw.
I scrape my palm across my forehead, suddenly recalling my recent vanishing act.
He spoke first. I must be visible again. Phew.  I didn’t forget to take it off.
“Ignore the mess,” I say.
He holds the yellow gas meter out in front of him, his eyes never leaving the small flashing green light. He walks in straight lines across the living room. Crossing my arms over my chest, I tap my foot. Hurry up. I’ve got a neat trick to show off.
He nears the base of the stairs and the green light flicks to red. His pace quickens, and he strides up the steps two at a time. I rush up behind him. “What is it?”
The gas meter beeps when he reaches the top of the staircase. Coming upstairs seems kind of
strange. I mean, surely gas leaks would have to be a kitchen thing. The beeping sets my teeth on edge, and I just
want it to stop. Maybe there’s something wrong, but here in the upstairs hall?
“That doesn’t sound good,” I mutter.
“It means there is indeed…”
He twists, angling himself toward my open bedroom door, and his gaze locks on my dresser. The back of my neck prickles, a sure sign something about this just isn’t right. I step past him and pull the door closed, but he pushes me aside and slams it open. Panic shoots through me, but I’m fast enough to dart around him. Turning my shoulder and reaching for the box.
He lunges toward me, grabs me from behind, and his arm pins my neck to him with a shoulder crushing
grip. He pushes me against the dresser, and the box falls open, its contents spilling across the top. Heart pounding, my throat burns with a scream. I’ve got to get him out of here. He must know about my pendant, the brooch. Dammit. I wriggle to escape his vice-like grip, but it’s no use—he’s too strong.
My hand darts toward the pendant. I snatch it, but he grabs my wrist. Adrenaline tries to pound my heart right out of its home in my chest. If only I can get the jewelry on, I might be able to make its magic work and hide.
“Tech breech confirmed,” he speaks into his collar in a matter-of-fact tone; then he turns his gaze to
me. “Give me the pendant.”
There’s a tiny ripping sound, like Velcro torn open. A young guy in a black leather jacket flickers
into my bedroom. A sharp gasp leaves me. I can’t escape one attacker, let alone two. Where the heck are these  men coming from? I’m not going down without a fight, so I kick at my captor’s shins. The leather jacket guy wrenches the man’s grip from my shoulders and punches him square in the chin, knocking his head to the side. Shaking his head, the gas man stumbles backward.
The jacket guy raises his knee and drives a foot into the other man’s stomach. The straight, hard kick makes a loud thud and forces the dude to double over and curl in on himself. The leather jacket guy crouches and drives his fist straight up into the man’s chin. It knocks him flat on his back like a felled tree.
My chest rises and falls with my quickened breath. My heart thuds like a booming drum.
The mysterious rescuer turns toward me, holding my gaze with intense, steady jade eyes. He grabs my
assailant by the arm, and they both flicker out of my room.
My mind spins.
Legs, arms, body—I can’t move, but it doesn’t matter. Moving is the least of my worries. Who were they,
and what just happened? The meter seemed to lead him straight to Mom’s pendant. Gas man, my ass.
I clutch my head in an attempt to stop my mind spinning, but my hand slides off my sweaty forehead and falls against my tightened stomach. They might come back. The guy in the jacket…
What was that? The brooch, the pendant…my disappearing reflection. They wanted it. Damn.
Sweat trickles down my forehead and into my eyes. I wipe it away with a trembling hand. Questions hurtle through my mind, all jumbling together as they race faster and faster in my mind. Seconds, minutes, hours I don’t know, but a single thought emerges through the haze of my mind.




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