Monday, June 27, 2016

SALE ALERT: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund


For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is on sale! Grab your copy today for 1.99!

To celebrate the sale, Diana is sharing an excerpt with us as well as a giveaway!



Fans of Divergent will love Diana Peterfreund’s take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic world.

In the dystopian future of For Darkness Shows the Stars, a genetic experiment has devastated humanity. In the aftermath, a new class system placed anti-technology Luddites in absolute power over vast estates—and any survivors living there.

Elliot North is a dutiful Luddite and a dutiful daughter who runs her father’s estate. When the boy she loved, Kai, a servant, asked her to run away with him four years ago, she refused, although it broke her heart.

Now Kai is back. And while Elliot longs for a second chance with her first love, she knows it could mean betraying everything she’s been raised to believe is right.

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking YA romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Get your copy:


Exclusive Excerpt:
FOUR YEARS AGO

Dear Kai,
The sun is probably streaming in through the big barn windows now, which means you’re awake. And if you’re awake, it means you’re wondering where I went.
I haven’t run away from you, I promise. But I knew that today of all days, they’d need me in the house. Tatiana may be the head of our household now, but she’s not the one the staff will look to in my mother’s absence. And there is so much to do to prepare for the funeral. Also, I have to go tell my grandfather what had happened to his daughter. I don’t want him to hear of her death from anyone but me.
Thank you for last night. I wish I could say I don’t know why you are the one I ran to—you, Kai, not Tatiana or my father or even my grandfather. But I know why. And I have a confession to make.
After you let me cry, after you let me sob and shout and choke on all that pain—after you did all that, and didn’t say a word—I didn’t fall asleep like you thought. Not right away. I lay there, wadded up into a ball, and you curved your body behind mine. You were barely touching me—your thigh against the edge of my hip, your arm draped lightly across my waist, your fingers entwined with mine. How many times have our hands touched, when we were passing each other tools or helping each other in and out of machines? Hundreds of times. Thousands. But last night, it felt different. You cradled my hand in yours, palms up, our fingers curled in like a pair of fallen leaves. Fallen, maybe, but not dead. My hand never felt so alive. Every place you touched me sparked with energy. I couldn’t sleep. Not like that.
And so I bent my head, just the slightest bit, until my mouth reached our hands. I smelled the oil you never quite get off your fingers. I breathed in the scent of your skin. And then, as if that was all I was doing, just breathing, I let my bottom lip brush against your knuckle.
Time stopped. I was sure you’d see through my ruse and pull away. I was sure you’d know that I was not asleep, that I was not just breathing. But you didn’t move, so I did it again. And again. And on the third time, I let my top lip join my bottom.
I kissed your hand, Kai. I didn’t do it to thank you for letting me cry. For letting me sleep in your arms. I thought you should know.
Yours,
Elliot

Dear Elliot,
I know. When will I see you again?
Yours,
Kai




About the Author:

Diana Peterfreund is the author of a dozen books for adults, teens, and children. A lifelong Jane Austen lover and technophile, she lives outside Washington, DC with her family, her BBC miniseries collection, and her smartphone. You can visit Diana online at .

Website | Facebook | Twitter










Enter Diana’s Giveaway!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: Riverbend Road (Haven Point #4) by RaeAnne Thayne

Riverbend Road (Haven Point #4)  
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Publication: June 21, 2016

By: HQN Books  
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
 

Return to Haven Point, where New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne proves there's no sweeter place to fall in love

Protecting the streets of Haven Point isn't just a job for police officer Wyn Bailey, it's a family tradition. But lately she's found herself wanting more, especially from her boss—and overprotective brother's best friend—sexy chief of police, Cade Emmett. The only problem is getting Cade to view her as more than just a little sister.

Cade's hands-off approach with Wyn isn't from lack of attraction. But his complicated past has forced him to conceal his desire. When Wyn is harmed in the line of duty, Cade realizes the depth of his feelings, but can he let his guard down long enough to embrace the love he secretly craves?



 ~ About the Author ~


I’m not one of those people who knew from birth she was destined to become a writer. I always loved to read and throughout my childhood I could usually be found with a book in my hands. To the disgust of my friends, I even enjoyed creative writing assignments that made them all groan. But I had other dreams besides writing. I wanted to be an actress or a teacher or a lawyer.
Life took a different turn for me, though, when my mother made me take a journalism elective in high school (thanks, Mom!). I knew the first day that this was where I belonged.
After I graduated from college in journalism, I took a job at the local daily newspaper and I reveled in the challenge and the diversity of it. One day I could be interviewing the latest country music star, the next day I was writing about local motorcycle gangs or interviewing an award-winning scientist.
Through it all — through the natural progression of my career from reporter to editor — I wrote stories in my head. Not just any stories, either, but romances, the kind of books I have devoured since junior high school, with tales about real people going through the trials and tribulations of life until they find deep and lasting love.
I had no idea how to put these people on paper, but knew I had to try — their stories were too compelling for me to ignore. I sold my first book in 1995 and now, more than 40 books later, I’ve come to love everything about writing, from the click of the computer keys under my fingers to the “that’s-it!” feeling I get when a story is flowing.
I write full-time now (well, as full-time as I can manage juggling my kids!) amid the raw beauty of the northern Utah mountains.
Even though I might not have dreamed of being a writer when I was younger, now I simply can’t imagine my life any other way.
I love to hear from readers.
- See more at: http://www.raeannethayne.com/bio/#sthash.nBoEDCaU.dpuf
I'm not one of those people who knew from birth she was destined to become a writer. I always loved to read and throughout my childhood I could usually be found with a book in my hands. To the disgust of my friends, I even enjoyed creative writing assignments that made them all groan. But I had other dreams besides writing. I wanted to be an actress or a teacher or a lawyer.

Life took a different turn for me, though, when my mother made me take a journalism elective in high school (thanks, Mom!). I knew the first day that this was where I belonged.

After I graduated from college in journalism, I took a job at the local daily newspaper and I reveled in the challenge and the diversity of it. One day I could be interviewing the latest country music star, the next day I was writing about local motorcycle gangs or interviewing an award-winning scientist.

Through it all -- through the natural progression of my career from reporter to editor -- I wrote stories in my head. Not just any stories, either, but romances, the kind of books I have devoured since junior high school, with tales about real people going through the trials and tribulations of life until they find deep and lasting love.

I had no idea how to put these people on paper, but knew I had to try -- their stories were too compelling for me to ignore. I sold my first book in 1995 and now, more than 30 books later, I've come to love everything about writing, from the click of the computer keys under my fingers to the "that's-it!" feeling I get when a story is flowing.

I write full-time now (well, as full-time as I can manage juggling my kids!) amid the raw beauty of the northern Utah mountains.

Even though I might not have dreamed of being a writer when I was younger, now I simply can't imagine my life any other way.

I love to hear from readers. You can reach me at my email address, rthayne@xmission.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

COVER REVEAL: Torn (A Wicked Saga #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 
The highly anticipated second book in #1 New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout's Wicked Trilogy has a cover! The amazing TORN cover was created by Sarah Hansen from Okay Creations with photography by Kelsey Kukal-Keeton from K Keeton designs. Check it out below! TORN is set to release July 19th. Be sure to grab the first book in the series, WICKED, which is on sale for $.99 for a limited time!


    TORN - cover
Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. After being betrayed and then nearly killed by the Prince of the Fae, she’s left bruised and devastated—and with an earth-shattering secret that she must keep at all costs. And if the Order finds out her secret, they’ll kill her.

Then there’s Ren Owens, the sexy, tattooed Elite member of the Order who has been sharing Ivy’s bed and claiming her heart. Their chemistry is smoking hot, but Ivy knows that Ren has always valued his duty to the Order above all else—he could never touch her if he knew the truth. That is, if he let her live at all. Yet how can she live with herself if she lies to him?

But as the Fae Prince begins to close in on Ivy, intent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld, Ivy is running out of options. If she doesn’t figure out who she can trust—and fast—it’s not only her heart that will be torn apart, but civilization itself.


 
Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans…
Don’t miss the first title in the series, WICKED, now just $.99 for a limited time only!

WICKED - cover

 


Author Photo--JLA_J. Lynn#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. 

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. 

She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.   


  InkSlinger-Blogger-New

Thursday, June 16, 2016

BLOG TOUR | GUEST POST: And I Darken by Kiersten White



Welcome to my stop on the And I Darken Blog Tour! I've got a fun author mystery post for you, but first, a little about the book:


Author: Kiersten White
Series: And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)
Publication: June 28th 2016 
By: Delacorte Press
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads  

CLAIM THE THRONE. Visit AndIDarken.com to order now!


NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.








 ~ Author Mystery Guest Post ~

By: Kiersten White 

You’ve probably never heard of Theodora of Byzantium.

That’s a shame, because she kicks historical ass.

See, in the sixth century, there was an actress. Back then it was not a good thing to be an actress. An account of her stage performances reads so NSFW I can’t even hint at it here. But as the daughter of a bear trainer and an actress, she didn’t have many career options.

By the age of twenty-two, she retired to a home near the palace, where she became a weaver. She wove cloth. She also wove clever tales and charming company, attracting the attention of a certain passing Emperor. She quickly became his favorite person in the world. Unfortunately, he was forbidden by law to marry an actress. Their love continued (he later adopted the daughter she had during this time; most historians assume this means that either the child was his, or he loved Theodora so much he didn’t care whose child she was) until his mother died.

With Mommy dearest dead, Emperor Justinian realized that laws were made for him to break. So break them he did, and Theodora became not only the wife of the emperor, but co-regent. From a low-level actress and prostitute to co-emperor of the Byzantines.

But she wasn’t happy with just her own meteoric rise. During her reign, she worked to improve the rights of women in her empire. She also started construction on the Hagia Sophia, one of the architectural wonders of the world. Her greatest contribution to her legacy with her husband, though, was saving their throne.

Politics were as sharply divided then as they are now. Factions sorted themselves into colors—blue or green—and aligned with a sports team. (I was all set to make a “ha ha, can you believe it, sports determining politics?” comment, but let’s be honest, we have a freaking reality TV star with a legitimate shot at the presidency. Colors and sports teams don’t seem so absurd in comparison.) In the early part of Justinian and Theodora’s reign, the opposing faction threw themselves behind a rival contender for the throne, rioting and starting fires. Justinian and his counselors were set to flee the city.

Hell no, Theodora said. Better to die on the throne than flee and live as exiles. She knew what power was worth, because unlike the rest of them, she had been born with none. She had fought her entire life, dependent on the whims of men, until she finally carved out a space for herself and a relationship in which she was an equal, in which she had power. She would rather die than go back. Inspired, Justinian and his men went to the arena where their rivals were rallying and slaughtered them.

(Go, team?)

Theodora is just one of the stories I drew on when fleshing out the world of And I Darken. History has a way of ignoring women until they become too big to be overlooked. By digging out the lives of these incredible leaders, fighters, and revolutionaries, we can piece together the truth of what history likes to hide: women have always kicked butt. And they have always been vilified for it, and have had to fight tooth and nail (and knife and sword) for every scrap of power they could claim.

That fight is one I am passionate about. I wanted to explore the reality of what it would take to be a girl who demanded more in a time where she was viewed as nothing but a potential marriage alliance. So why did I choose to create a fictional girl—Lada Dracul—out of a real-life historical man—Vlad the Impaler?

That’s a great question! But unfortunately, this post is already too long, so you’ll have to read the book and then ask me in person sometime.




~ About the Author ~

KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy; the dark thrillers Mind Games and Perfect Lies; The Chaos of Stars; and Illusions of Fate. She also coauthored In the Shadows with Jim Di Bartolo. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times. 

Visit Kiersten online at kierstenwhite.com and follow @kierstenwhite on Twitter. 








AND I DARKEN Blog Tour Schedule 
Monday, May 30th through Friday, July 8th 

Monday, May 30th: Icey Books, Review
Tuesday, May 31st: Bookiemoji, Guest Post
Wednesday, June 1st: Seeing Double in Neverland, Review
Thursday, June 2nd: Alexa Loves Books, Playlist Post
Friday, June 3rd: Awesome Book Nut, Review

Monday, June 6th: Jessabella Reads, Review
Tuesday, June 7th: The Eater of Books!, Top Five Roundup
Wednesday, June 8th: Across the Words, Review
Thursday, June 9th: Pandora’s Books, Sneak Peek for Book Two
Friday, June 10th: Tales of the Ravenous Reader, Review

Monday, June 13th: A Midsummer Night's Read, Review
Tuesday, June 14th: The Irish Banana Review, Top 10 Guest Post
Wednesday, June 15th: Stories & Sweeties, Review
Thursday, June 16th: Jenuine Cupcakes, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, June 17th: The Soul Sisters, Review

Monday, June 20th: Winterhaven Books, Review
Tuesday, June 21st: Two Chicks on Books, Q&A
Wednesday: June 22nd: The Book Swarm, Review
Thursday, June 23rd: Read. Sleep. Repeat., Top Five Fantasy Books Kiersten Loves to Re-Read
Friday, June 24th: Please Feed The Bookworm, Review

Monday, June 27th: Comfort Books, Review
Tuesday, June 28th: Fitshun, Q&A
Wednesday, June 29th: Addicted Readers,Review
Thursday, June 30th: Lindsay Cummings, Movie Casting 
Friday, July 1st: Rabid Reads, Review

Monday, July 4th: Reading Teen, Review
Tuesday, July 5th: YA Bibliophile, Guest Post
Wednesday, July 6th: Carina’s Books, Review
Thursday, July 7th: Mundie Moms, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, July 8th: Bookishness and Tea, Review

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Losing Gabriel by Lurlene McDaniel

Author: Lurlene McDaniel
Publication: June 14, 2016 
By: Delacorte Press 
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
 
This emotionally-charged novel about three high school seniors who in the midst of planning their futures after high school are instead faced with present circumstances that force them to grasp what it means to make choices, take responsibility, and truly become an adult.
 
Lani Kennedy has dreamed of becoming a nurse since her cousin Arie died of leukemia. Nothing will stop her from getting into the local nursing program.

Dawson Burke hasn’t dealt with his mom’s death, and he’s angry at his dad for moving them to Windemere right before senior year. He grudgingly accepts that he must wait till graduation before he leaves.

Sloan Quentin can belt out a song and knows that her band is her ticket to fame and fortune. When she discovers that her boyfriend—the band’s lead guitarist—is cheating on her, she finds comfort—and revenge—in someone else’s arms.

When the lives of Lani, Dawson, and Sloan become entangled in unexpected ways, reality hits harder than anyone could have imagined.




*Thank you Random House Children's Books for sending me a finished copy--which is gorgeous, btw--to review*

This was nothing like I expected. The summary isn't joking when it says this is an emotionally charged story. I cried more than once, starting with the dedication.

This is told in alternating POVs and follows the lives of Lani, Dawson, and Sloane from their Senior into the first few years of adulthood, so it's not a typical YA. This is not a love triangle. (highlight text to view spoiler)
Lani has a mad crush on Dawson in the beginning, but they run in different circles. He doesn't know she exists. It IS a story of about life, love, loss, heartbreak, and redemption.

While this read more like an adult novel, and felt rushed in places, I enjoyed seeing how Lurlene McDaniel wove the characters and their lives together.

For fans of Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessan, and Gayle Forman.

Friday, June 10, 2016

BLOG TOUR | GUEST POST: Break Me Like A Promise by Tiffany Schmidt


Yo,
What time is it?
Show time!
Show time! 


Break Me Like A Promise (Once Upon a Crime Family #2)
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publication: June 7, 2016
By: Bloomsbury USA Children's 

No one is unbreakable.

All Magnolia Vickers has ever wanted was to follow father’s path as head of the Family Business. But new legislation is poised to destroy the Family’s operations in the black-market organ trade and Maggie’s recent behavior has wrecked the business-savvy reputation she’s worked her whole life to build.

She’s given an ultimatum: shape up or step aside.

Then Maggie messes up: she downloads a virus onto her father’s computer, and must sneak it off-estate for repair. When Alex, a tech whiz, uncovers the type of information on the machine, he offers Maggie a choice: her Family can give him a kidney, or he’ll irreparably scramble the data. Maggie agrees, but has no intention of keeping her promise or every seeing him again. That night Alex shows up at her Family estate with copies of confidential Family files and a shocking revelation—the kidney is for him.

The Vickers aren’t willing to let Alex out of their sight, so he moves onto their estate and Maggie is assigned to be his keeper. A task she resents and he enjoys making as challenging as possible. But procuring black market organs is becoming increasingly difficult, and as Alex’s health declines, she’s surprised to find herself falling for him.

Like it or not, Maggie must accept that if she wants to save Alex’s life and carve out a place in the new legalized organ business, she’s going to have to fight for both.

 




~ Guest Post ~

This might be my favorite author guest post EVER. 
Seriously. 
 If the cast of Break Me Like A Promise were starring in their own version of Hamilton, here's what the program would look like...


http://www.hamiltonbroadway.com/


BREAK ME LIKE A HAMILTON
Cast of characters (by appearance)


Angelica Schuyler................................................................... Carter Landlow
(No matter how much he wishes it were; this is not his love story. He is not the hero).

Eliza Schuyler.............................................................. Magnolia Grace Vickers
(While she’s normally a Hamilton [“Non-stop!”], Maggie has been “burned” and is currently “writing herself out of the narrative.”)

Marquis de Lafayette............................................................ Penelope Landlow
(Sometimes leaders come from unexpected places. Pen is the Organ Act’s “secret weapon” and no one matches her “practical, tactical brilliance.”)

King George III.......................................................................... Holt Vickers
(Commanding and imperious, Holt is convinced that the ‘real’ Maggie will “be back, like before.”)

John Laurens............................................................................. James Byrd
(Maggie’s oldest and most loyal friend, but “every day’s a test of their camaraderie and bravery.”)

Alexander Hamilton............................................................. Alejandro Cooper
(Normally more of an A.Burr, Alex has spent his life knowing how to “Wait for it,” but when Maggie walks through the door, she changes things and he is “not throwing away his shot.”)

Hercules Mulligan................................................................. Ming ”Char” Zhu
(“A spy on the inside,” Char knows much more than he lets on.)

Aaron Burr.............................................................................. Nolan Russell
(Morally dubious, Nolan keeps everyone asking “What do you stand for?” because his only clear priorities are gaining power and a desperate desire to be “in the room where it happens.”)

Peggy Schuyler......................................................................... Garrett Ward
(A youngest sibling who disappears from the stage/page and leaves everyone wondering...)





~ About the Author ~


Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family #1). 

She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, new baby, Rascal, and a pair of mischievous puggles.

You can find out more about her and her books at:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram








Tour Schedule:
Week 1 ~ BREAK ME LIKE A PROMISE by Tiffany Schmidt
6/6: Pretty Deadly Reviews - Review
6/7: The Young Folks - Q&A
6/8: Swoony Boys Podcast - Character Interview
6/9: In Wonderland - Review
6/10: Jenuine Cupcakes - Guest Post

Week 2 ~ THE LONG GAME by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
6/13: Beauty and the Bookshelf - Guest Post
6/14: YA Bibliophile - Review
6/15: Such A Novel Idea - Playlist
6/16: The Cover Contessa - Q&A
6/17: Avid Reader - Review

Week 3 ~ THE LEAVING by Tara Altebrando
6/20: Once Upon A Twilight - Guest Post
6/21: Literary Lover - Review
6/22: That Artsy Reader Girl - Review
6/23: Novel Ink - Q&A
6/24: The Irish Banana Review - Top 10




~ Giveaway ~
1 set of the BOLDLY BOOKISH 2 Tour books (US Only)
Books include: Hold Me Like a Breath & Break Me Like A Promise by Tiffany Schmidt, The Fixer & The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes & The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BLOG TOUR | GUEST POST | GIVEAWAY: Unbreak My Heart




Title: Unbreak My Heart
Author: Nicole Jacquelyn
On Sale: June 7, 2016
Formats: Trade Paperback & eBook

 
What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?

If you're Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane's in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel's death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane's been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too - for sleeping with his wife's best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate's ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate's only choice is to fight for the future she deserves - with or without Shane. . .




~ Top 5 Writing Tips ~


1. Write what you love.

2. Read. A lot.

3. Find your own voice, don’t try to replicate someone else’s. Your writing will be unique to you-that’s a good thing.

4. Don’t force it. If you need to take a step away, do it. Then come back with fresh eyes.


5. Make sure you’re feeling everything your characters are feeling as you write. If you can’t feel the story, the readers won’t either.









~ Excerpt ~

I don’t remember the drive to the hospital or even where I parked that afternoon. I can’t recall what the nurse looked like as she searched for Rachel’s name in their computer system or the walk toward the room where I waited for someone to speak to me.
The first thing I remember clearly is the white-haired doctor’s kind face as he sat down across from me, and the young chaplain’s small smile as he chose the chair to my left. Their words became a litany that I would hear in my dreams for years.
My Rachel was gone, but her son was alive and in the NICU.
“Is there anyone you’d like for us to call? Any family or friends that you’d like to be here?”
The question jolted me out of the fog that seemed to be getting thicker and thicker around me. Dear God.
“I’ll make the calls,” I answered, looking blankly at the wall. “Can I have some privacy please?”
“Of course. I’ll be right outside if you need me,” the chaplain answered, reaching out to pat my hand. “I’ll take you up to the NICU when you’re ready.”
The room was silent after they left, and I fought the urge to scream at the top of my lungs just to hear it echo around me. I understood then why people hired mourners to wail at funerals. Sometimes the lack of sound is more painful than the anguished noise of a heart breaking.
My hands shook as I pulled my phone out of my front pocket and rested it on the table in front of me.
It only took a moment before the sound of ringing filled the room, and I rested my head in my hands as I stared at the name across the screen.
“Hello? Kate? What’s wrong?”
“Shane—” I said quietly, my voice hitching.
“What? Why are you calling me?” His voice was confused, but I could hear a small thread of panic in the urgency of his words.
“I need you to come to Tri-City Hospital,” I answered, tears rolling down my face and landing on the glass screen of my phone, distorting the letters and numbers.
“Who?” His voice was frantic, and I could hear him moving around, his breathing heavy.
“Rachel was in an accident.” I sobbed, covering my face to try and muffle the noise.
“No,” he argued desperately, as I heard two car doors shut almost simultaneously. “Is she okay?”
I shook my head, trying to catch my breath.
“Kate! Is she okay?” He screamed at me, his anguished voice filling the room as I’d wanted mine to just minutes before.
“No,” I answered through gritted teeth, feeling snot running down my upper lip as I heard him make a noise deep in his throat. “She’s gone.”
He didn’t say a word, and less than a second later, the connection was broken.
I rubbed at my forehead, trying to convince myself that it was all just a nightmare. Where was I supposed to be? What was I supposed to do now? My best friend in the entire world was there in that hospital, but not really. I couldn’t bear to see her. I couldn’t help her. Where the fuck was I supposed to go?”
I made my way to the NICU as quickly as I could, and within minutes, I was holding my new nephew in my arms. The nurses told me that he’d passed all of his tests with flying colors, and I was in awe as I sat down in a rocking chair, cradling him to my chest.
“You sure got a shitty beginning, little man,” I murmured against his fuzzy scalp, rocking back and forth gently. “I’m so sorry, buddy. You’re probably missing your mama and that warm bubble you’ve been in for so long. I can’t help you there.”
I sniffled, closing my eyes as tears rolled down my cheeks. My whole body ached, and even though I had that little boy in my arms, the whole day seemed like some sort of surreal dream, foggy in some parts and crystal clear in others. I wanted to hop up and take his sleeping, little form to Rachel, to tease her about the weird Mohawk thing he was sporting and make joking comments about how men always seem to sleep through the hard parts of life. I wanted to see her smile proudly at the sturdy boy she’d produced and grumble that I was hogging him.
I wanted everything to be different.
I hummed softly with my eyes closed for a long time, holding the baby close to me. It was quiet where we sat, nothing breaking up the stillness of the room until I heard someone open the door.
“There he is,” the nurse murmured from the doorway.
My eyes popped open to see Shane’s ravaged face just feet from me. He looked like he was barely holding on. I swallowed hard as his red rimmed eyes took in his son carefully before rising to meet mine.
“Is he okay?” he asked thickly, searching my face. I’d never seen him so frightened.
“He’s perfect,” I answered, my voice throbbing with emotion. “The nurses said he’s a rock star.”
He nodded twice, reaching up to cover his mouth with his hand, but before he could say another word, he was stumbling and falling to his knees with an almost inaudible sob.




~ About the Author ~

When Nicole Jacquelyn was eight and people asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told them she wanted to be a mom. When she was 12, her answer changed to author. Her dreams stayed constant. First, she became a mom, and then during her senior year of college--with one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool--she sat down and wrote a story. 

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