Guest Post by Victoria Scott

Finishing a Series

THECOLLECTOR CoverVery soon, I’ll begin drafting the last book in The Collector series. It seems surreal, considering the first in the trilogy has yet to release. But my publisher, Entangled Teen, has introduced an aggressive release calendar, and that means I have to write—and I have to write fast.

I admit that when I first thought about writing the final book, I thought in terms of time. How long will it take to outline? To draft? To proof? How long until I’m done? You see, I have different projects I’m obligated to. And even more projects I have yet to contract, but am dying to write and sell. Things to do. Stories to tell. So little time.

But then I opened a crisp, new book I’d bought. It was the final book in a series I adored, and I was dying to read it. I’d waited years to get to this spot, to find out what happens. It’s the same way I hope readers will feel about the last Dante Walker book.

Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking about drafting the final book as a task. I was thinking in terms of my readers. What would they want to happen? How excited will they be to hold the last story Dante will ever tell? Once again, the readers gave me insight.

Next week, I start writing the final book in The Collector series. I will hold you in my heart as I write it. I’ll take my sweet time and remember I owe you a bang-up ending to Dante’s story. And I’ll pray that when April 2, 2013 arrives, and you grip the first book in your hands…you’ll anxiously anticipate what I’m drafting into the final book at that very moment.

You can now preorder The Collector at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thank you for the inspiration! Hugs!

WINNER

The winner of last week’s contest is Sydney W.  Please email me, Sydney,  at cc@cchunterbooks.com to claim Amanda Brice’s Pas De Death.

Special Post

Are you ready? Are you ready to get inside Della’s head and world? To tempt you, here’s the first chapter of the Saved at Sunrise. Remember, it’s only available as an E-book and will be released April 2nd. If you don’t have an e-reader, remember you can download e-books onto your computer and some phones. Oh, did I mention it’s only $1.99? And . . . in the back of this novella you’ll find the first two chapter of Chosen at Nightfall. So go pre-order your copy now.

Saved_at_Sunrise_ebook_FINAL

Saved at Sunrise

Chapter One

“Do not put yourselves in any jeopardy. Your job is to infiltrate the gang by showing interest in joining, find out if they’re using murder as a rite of initiation, and then get out. Alive.”

“That’s my plan, too.” Della Tsang answered with sass looking up at Burnett James, one of the ShadowFallsAcademy owners who also just so happened to work for the FRU—Fallen Research Unit—which was basically the FBI of the supernatural world.

“We don’t want you to bring anyone in. We don’t want you to take care of the bad guys.” Burnett continued staring right at her.

Afternoon sun poured into the window of the ShadowFalls office behind him. The crystals sitting on shelves caught the light and cast rainbow-colored mirages on the wall. They danced and shifted as if magical. And maybe they were. Crap like that happened all the time here.

“Actually, Burnett said, drawing Della’s attention back to him, “we don’t think this is the group, but if it is, with your testimony, we’ll have enough proof to get a search warrant and we’re pretty damn positive we should find all the evidence we need to convict.”

Burnett, six feet plus, with dark hair and eyes, was a hard-ass who worried way too much,but being a vampire like herself, Della respected him and his hard-assness.

She just wished the respect was mutual. Seriously, didn’t he trust her? Didn’t he know she could friggin’ take care of herself? Did he really have to go over this again?

“I understand, sir.” Steve, the brown-haired, brown-eyed, great-bodied guy sitting next to her spoke up when she didn’t. For the first time, Della noticed his voice held a hint of a Southern accent that wasn’t just Texan.

Della glanced over. Steve gave Burnett his complete attention. What an ass-kisser.

Steve was evidence that Burnett didn’t trust her. Why else would Burnett insist Steve go with her? She didn’t need the shape-shifter. He was just going to slow her down.

“Wait,” Burnett said, pacing across the office again. “Let me rephrase that. I don’t want you to just get out alive. I want you to get out just the way you went in. Not wounded, not bruised, and for God’s sake, don’t leave any dead bodies behind. You got that?”

“Now you’re taking all the fun out of it,” Della smarted off.

Burnett growled. “I’m not joking and if you can’t take this seriously then get your vampire butt out of here, because I’m not playing around.”

Della slumped back in her chair, knowing when to shut her mouth. She really wanted to do this assignment for the FRU. Wanted to win Burnett’s respect. Everyone needed someone to impress. And since impressing her parents wasn’t an option anymore, she’d settle for Burnett.

Not that impressing anyone was the only reason she wanted to go. Even before she’d been turned into a vampire, she’d considered a career in criminal justice—something that allowed her to kick butt. Of course, her parents had frowned on that. They had her earmarked to be a doctor. They had her earmarked to be a lot of things.

But not a vampire.

Not that they knew what she was. The way Della figured it, if they went bat-shit crazy just because she’d stopping eating rice—which after being turned tasted like curdled toe jam—how the hell were they going to accept that she was a blood-drinking vampire? The answer was obvious. They wouldn’t, couldn’t accept it.

Lucky for her, she’d been accepted into Shadow Falls—a boarding school for supernaturals—and didn’t have to worry what her parents thought about her choice of careers, or whether she ate her rice or not. And yet . . . now Della couldn’t help but question if they ever thought or worried about her at all. Did they sit down to eat dinner and notice her chair was empty? Did her mom ever forget and set an extra plate at the table?

She doubted it.

Yes, they came to the parents’ day visitations, but they were always the first to leave, and eager to do it. Especially her father, the man Della had spent her entire life trying to impress.

A daddy’s girl, her mom used to call her.

Not anymore.

No doubt her sister had taken over that role.

Turning vampire hadn’t been Della’s choice. It was one of those things life slapped on your ass and you just had to accept it. Which meant she’d had to accept that her family would never be able to accept her. Not that it really bothered her. Not anymore.

She was so over it.

“Am I making myself clear?” Burnett asked, yanking her back to reality.

“One hundred percent,” Della said, working hard to keep her attitude from spilling over.

“Yes, sir.” Steve nodded.

Yup, an ass-kisser.

“Okay, you got your orders?” Burnett said. “You know where to go and what your cover is? They expect you to meet them at four in the morning. Don’t be late, don’t be too early. Don’t let them lure you back to their compound. The policy, if they follow their own policy, is that three of the members will meet with you to talk. You get the information about joining, you get out.”

“Got it.” Della held up the brown envelope. And you’ve gone over this ten times.

“Then go get your things.” Burnett eyed Della. “And please, don’t make me regret sending you on this.”

“You won’t,” Della said.

Della and Steve stood to leave.

“Steve,” Burnett said. “Give me a few minutes.”

Della looked from Steve to Burnett. What the hell did he need to talk with Steve about that couldn’t be said in front of her?

Burnett shifted his gaze to Della and then cut his eyes to the door.

Frowning, Della shot up from the chair and left. She stopped about fifty feet from the porch, holding her breath and not moving a muscle. Hoping Burnett wasn’t still listening, she tuned her own vampire hearing and waited to discover what the hell was up. The afternoon sun spilled over the trees, casting shadows on the ground as she stood frozen in one spot.

“I’m trusting you to keep Della safe,” Burnett said.

Della inwardly growled at Burnett’s chauvinistic approach and fought the need to rush back in there and give him some lip. I’m the one who’s gonna have to protect his butt!

“I do not believe this is the gang we’re looking for.” Burnett’s voice carried well. “Or I wouldn’t be sending you two. This is just a clearance check. But that doesn’t mean this group isn’t dangerous.”

Don’t worry,” Steve’s deep voice answered. “I’ll keep her in my sight at all times.”

Like hell you will. She already had a plan of doing a little side trip, and she didn’t need Steve tagging along.

____________________________________________________________

That’s it! That’s all I’m giving you on my blog, but if you want to read the rest of Chapter One, go to my Books page.

Contest

_MG_9464To celebrate the upcoming release of Saved at Sunrise (April 2) and Chosen at Nightfall (April 23) I’m giving away an ARC of Chosen at Nightfall. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win. (And if you are reading this on Goodreads, you have to leave your comment on my CC Hunter web blog. Sorry,but I have to limit this contest to US residents only.)

Guest Blogger Amanda Brice

Amanda headshot

No, not literally. Obviously. I’m so not a murderer. But I killed Jen Runkle from the At Random and GReepsThrough the Shelves blogs nonetheless.

It’s okay. She gave me permission to do so. She even paid for the honor.

Now I’m not in the habit of killing off bloggers, in general. I think they’re awesome. What better place to find out about new releases and get reviews? Yes, I definitely love book bloggers.

Which is why it was so sad that I had to kill Jen off.

But I took the liberty of massively changing the character. Sure, I used the name, physical traits, and a bunch of biographical stats, like her favorite saying (“Carpe diem”), her taste in books (I met her for the first time when I was signing at Turn The Page bookstore, which is owned by Nora Roberts’ husband), and her hobbies (bungee jumping and whitewater rafting).

Oh, and I also turned her into a not-so-nice-word-that-rhymes-with-witch. Which is absolutely not true in real life. See, it’s totally fiction!

And gave her a new “profession.” She’s still a blogger, but in my new book Pas De Death, she’s an arts critic rather than book reviewer.

So why did I kill her off?

Last May, I participated in Brenda Novak’s annual online auction to raise money for diabetes research. One of the offerings I donated was the opportunity to name the murder victim in Pas De Death, my new book that just released yesterday! And Jen had the high bid.

I admit that I expected the winner to get back at someone by killing them off fictionally, so imagine my surprise when she asked if I could kill her.

Er, I mean, use her own name.

It’s all in good fun and all for a great cause. So thank you, Jen! It was a pleasure to kill you. 

Wanna get in on the fun for my next book? I’m auctioning off naming rights to the victim in The Degas Code (Book 4 in the Dani Spevak Mystery Series, which should be out in Spring 2014). The auction runs from May 1-31, and the opening bid is just $3. Help Brenda break the $2 million mark!

CHAPTER 1 OF PAS DE DEATH

PasDeDeath        They say the professional dance world is cutthroat.

I have no idea who they are, but I’d always thought they were being figurative when they said that. You know, hyperbole and all those fancy words from English class and SAT study guides. As for them, we never hear their names, so for all I know, it could all be an urban legend.

But no. Apparently they were being literal.

Wait a second, I should probably back up, huh? I guess that would be helpful.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning.

* * *
Bzzz…

My lame old skool cell vibrated against my thigh, alerting me to an incoming text. I pulled it out halfway, trying to sneak a peak at the screen without my attracting my seat-mate’s attention. To be honest, I shouldn’t have cared what the college student thought since I was unlikely to ever see her again after our bus arrived at Port Authority, but her perfect highlights, super cute pink and black slides, and exquisitely-cut, short black dress exuded a level of cool I could only even hope to aspire to. Why advertise the fact that I couldn’t match up?

Forget about an iThing. I had a genericThing. Once again I silently cursed my parents’ refusal to buy me a smart phone. They were generally pretty cool as far as parents went, but really — 2010 called. They wanted their technology back.

MEET @MBC @11.

One of the many drawbacks of my lack of a modern phone was no cute little talking bubbles to show our chat session, so I had to scroll up to see who sent it. Not that there was a potential cast of thousands or anything. The text could only possibly have come from either Maya or Analisa.

Scrolling…aha.Maya.

Maya Sapp was one of my two best friends. Well, actually one of my two best friends from Mountain Shadows Academy of the Arts. My lifelong BFF was actually still Sophie from back home in Sparta, New Jersey, where I was spending the summer. But during the school year I went to a boarding school in Scottsdale, Arizona, majoring in dance.

And I really did mean went to boarding school, because after my injury this past spring, I had no idea whether I was going to be able to return in the fall. Because it’s kinda hard to study dance when you can’t exactly dance, you know?

But I refused to think about that right now. Way too depressing, and I simply would not allow myself to be depressed. Nothing was going to ruin my day. I was on my way into New York City to visit my besties!

Okay, so technically I was on my way into the City for my annual food challenge at Mt. Sinai Hospital to see whether I’d grown out of my peanut allergy, but that wasn’t until tomorrow morning. Light years from now, really. Mom and I were going to stay at my Grandma Rose’s apartment in the Village tonight. Mom had already left for work early this morning, but I didn’t want to get up at 6 am for no reason — I mean, injury or not, this was supposed to be my summer vacation — so she and Dad agreed I could take the bus in all by myself. And since I didn’t have to meet her and Grandma Rose until the evening, I decided to go see the girls.

Analisa San Miguel, the other member of our little trio, was participating in the Summer Intensive at the Manhattan Ballet Conservatory. I was super excited for her, of course, since it’s an amazing company and she’d worked so hard and totally deserved it. Plus, she’d be a junior in the fall, so she was at the age where they started looking to possibly offer apprenticeships. But I was also insanely jealous, because I was supposed to be there with her this summer until I blew my knee out.

Sad panda.

I wasn’t going to think about that. I would be Zen-like. Grey sky out, blue sky in. Keep calm and carry on.

I’d been doing a lot of yoga breathing during my physical therapy sessions this summer (hey, I needed an excuse to steal my mom’s Lululemon workout gear despite not being able to actually, you know, work out), not to mention that my body image counselor had recommended the same plan, so even though it was usually a huge change for me to let my mind go blank rather than start making a to-do list during that downtime, I figured I should probably have the whole Zen thing down by now. I would not be jealous. That would be my mantra.

No jealousy. No jealousy. None.Be the Buddha.

The older girl looked at me funny, and it wasn’t because of my stupid phone. Shoot! I must’ve said that last sentence out loud. Well, whatever. It’s not like I’d ever see her again.
I was just about to text Maya back when I felt the bus halt. I figured we were probably stuck in yet another traffic jam on the way to the Lincoln Tunnel when I realized that the driver had turned off the engine and the passengers were all getting up, so I glanced out the window.

Hey, what do you know? We’d arrived at Port Authority Bus Terminal.

I was in New York City!

K, C-YA THEN!

After firing off a quick response, I grabbed my overnight bag and fell into the line of passengers exiting the bus. The sophisticated-looking college girl was several people ahead of me now because of my delay in texting, but who was I kidding? It wasn’t like we were going to be best friends or anything.

And it didn’t matter, because I was on my way to see my best friends!

My dad had given me some extra money to take a taxi to the Manhattan Ballet Conservatory campus because he didn’t think I should ride the subway on my own. I wasn’t a little girl — I’d been living on my own away from home at school for the past year — but I guess my almost being killed not once, but twice, last school year didn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence in my ability to travel cross-town without running into trouble.

Which was so not my fault. It’s not like I’d asked for that kind of attention. Some girls attracted hotties. Apparently I was a psychopath magnet. And if we want to get technical, I’d totally shown I could take care of myself in the end. Those nut-jobs were behind bars, and I made national news for my heroism. He was taking “Daddy’s Little Girl” just a little too far.

So I decided to pocket the cash and take the subway anyway.

What? I was a teenager, not a saint. And I wasn’t making much above minimum wage teaching pre-ballet to two-year-olds at the town rec center, so I could definitely use the extra cash I saved by using public transportation. Besides, I was doing my part in taking care of the planet. Less carbon footprint. Yeah, that was it.

One weirdo ranting about the ancient alien takeover of Congress, two street performers of wildly varying levels of talent looking for handouts, three homeless bums, and four stops later I arrived at my destination.

I’M HERE

My phone rang as I strolled through the courtyard of the world-famous performing arts complex that housed MBC, as it was affectionately referred to in the dance world. For a second, I assumed it was Mom calling, and wondered how she could possibly know I’d gotten there already, but then I realized she’d be in class, teaching first-years about Miranda rights and executing search warrants. My mom normally teaches Criminal Procedure at Rutgers, but she was a visiting professor this summer at Fordham. She took the job because their law school is right next door to the plaza where MBC is located. I think she wanted to keep tabs on me, since I was supposed to be doing the Summer Intensive with Analisa and had this unfortunate little habit of somehow ending up the target of homicidal psychos.

But I’d screwed up those plans when I blew out my knee. The plans for Mom to spy on me from her office, I mean. My injury had nothing to do with thwarting the attempted murders.

Details.

I probably should have stopped in to say hello, but I wouldn’t have gotten to see Mom anyway, unless I interrupted the lecture to stick my head in the door and let her verify I’d managed to get into the City in one piece. And I was pretty sure that wouldn’t exactly put her on the happy-list with the school administration. Nah, I’d just send her a text instead.

After I answered the phone and finished the present call instead, natch.

“Hello?” I said, without even looking at the read-out.

“I’m running late.” Maya’s voice boomed from the tiny speaker. “I’m still on the 2 Train. There was a delay coming in from the Bronx, but I should be there in like twenty minutes, max. Probably less.”

Even though she couldn’t see me, I pouted a little. “What am I supposed to do until you get here?” I mean, really.

“You’re in the greatest city in America, Dani. I’m sure you can figure something out.” I could almost hear the eye-rolling.

Yes, I know that’s not possible. Work with me.

I shielded my eyes from the almost-midday sun as I looked up at the skyscraper at the far end of the plaza. The building housing the Manhattan Ballet Conservatory studios and dormitory also was home to the the Julian College student residences, a number of theaters, and office space for several fund-raising organizations like the Manhattan Opera Guild. Yes, I was aware I sounded like I was applying for a position as a tour guide. I’d practically memorized every page of the student handbook when I was first accepted into the MBC Summer Intensive.

Fat lot of good that did me.

If I squinted, I could almost see the dancers as the instructors put them through the paces of rigorous center work. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking, because the windows were pretty high up, and I couldn’t be in there with them.

Looked like a guy class. I craned my neck for a better view inside, hoping to catch a glimpse of my friend Patrick Velasquez, who’d danced the Cavalier to my Sugar Plum back in December, but then I remembered that the company members were at their summer “home” in Saratoga Springs, and as a new apprentice, he’d be there instead of taking class with a bunch of teenagers. Of course, he was still a teen himself. Amazing what a difference a couple of months made. He’d graduated from Mountain Shadows in May, and now he was a pro.

And as a student in the MBC Summer Intensive, Analisa was well on her way to joining him in pro land.

So jealous. And no amount of Zen thoughts was going to change that feeling.

“Do you know what time Ana gets out of class?” I chirped into the phone.

“I think” — static— “one.”

“One?”

“Look, I gotta go,” Maya shouted. I could barely make out every other word. “Bad reception.” No kidding.

Click.

I really hoped Maya was wrong. One was more than two hours from now, and it was getting way too hot to stand around in the summer sun, so I decided to head over to the school and see if I could wait inside. At least get out of the heat, even if the self-important security guard stopped me at the front desk.

Which he did.

“Yes?”

“Hi!” I summoned every ounce of perkiness I possessed and pasted on a fake happy face that could rival a Miss America contestant. “I’m here to visit MBC.”

His gaze did a little up-down thing as he swept the length of my body (which, I admit, was pretty ew, because, duh, he was like at least three times my age —um, illegal much?), and I could tell he was sizing up my figure to see if I actually had a shot of getting admitted to the program. (And you wonder why so many dancers have eating disorders?) “I’m sorry, but the school is not open for visiting hours. You’ll have to return during an open house.”

“But I’m Dani Spevak.” Wow, that sounded humble. Why should he care? “I mean, I’m here to visit Analisa San Miguel. I think I’m on her list or something.”

Okay, I was totally lying about the list. Maybe there was one, but I had no idea. I just needed an excuse to remain in the a/c. I thought I was melting outside on the plaza. Triple digit temperatures in Arizona had nothing on mid-90s with humidity in Manhattan.

He opened a notebook and ran his finger down the page. Hey, would you look at that? Maybe there actually was a list. A real-life “binder full of women.”

But before he could flip the page to the S’s, he looked up. “Oh wait, you’re that girl, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I was supposed to be in the Summer Intensive, but I had to drop out because I developed chondromalacia —”

“Kondra-what?”

“—in my knee.Stupid freak accident really. I wish I could say it was during a solo, but it was kinda dumb. I was hiking and twisted it or something, but my orthopedist said that was likely just the inciting event —”

“—Inciting? No, I meant—”

“—and that it really developed because of chronic friction between the patella and the groove in the femur through which it passes during motion, so it would’ve happened anyway. So now I’m doing physical therapy, but I hope—”

The guard waved his hands and my babbling stopped shorter than a Kardashian marriage. Why did I always resort to verbal vomit whenever I was nervous? Made me sound like a whiny, neurotic person with a possible side order of crazy. “I don’t care about that. I mean, you’re that girl. From TV.The one who caught those thugs.”

Yeah, about that. I should really have the words “That Girl” (in uppercase and with quotes, of course) monogrammed on all my clothes, since it seemed to be the most popular way to refer to me, ever since my national debut on Teen Celebrity Dance-Off last fall that resulted in me saving the set from sabotage. Rescuing my frenemy Hadley Taylor after she was kidnapped by a mafia flunky a few months later only added to the stigma.

I’d have to change my initials from D.S. to T.G.

I smiled weakly. “That’s me.”

“That was wonderful service you did, miss.” He thrust his hand out to shake mine. “A wonderful service. It’s an honor to meet you.”

“I didn’t do anything anybody else wouldn’t do,” I mumbled, as he crushed my fingers in his much stronger grip. Ow!

“No really, it was very impressive. I saw your interview with Faith Darcy.”

“I was also on Anderson Cooper.”

“I saw that!”

I gnawed on my bottom lip. “Just, um, doing my job.”

But I wasn’t, of course. Not really. My job was dancing, not solving mysteries.

Bad Dani, my job is dancing. Is, not was. Because I was going to be back at Mountain Shadows for my sophomore year in the fall, and maybe I’d even get into MBC next summer. I had a great physical therapist, and I had to trust she would help me.

I didn’t really have a choice. Giving up my dream of a dance career before it ever started just wasn’t an option.

At least not one I was willing to entertain.

“So what are you here for?” My new best friend, aka the front desk guard, asked. “A new mystery?”

I couldn’t exactly roll my eyes if I wanted to convince him to let me pass. Who did he think I was — a Gallagher Girl? “No, just here to visit my friend, Analisa San Miguel. She’s a student in Group V.”

“You know Group V doesn’t get out of morning class until one on Mondays, right?”

“That’s what I’ve heard.” Although not from Ana. That would have been good information to know before I made the trek over to the school. “So, can I pass?”

He genuinely looked sorry as he shook his head. “I’ll need Miss … San Miguel is it? … to sign you in. School policy. I’m sure you understand.”

I did. Nothing like an attempt on your life or two to appreciate the need for security guards.

“And she’s not out of class until one,” I said.

He nodded. “And then they have Pointe at four. But she’s not out of the current class until—”

“—one,” I answered for him. I could feel a little frown settling in between my eyebrows.

“Okay, got it. Thanks anyway.” Maybe I could go drop in on Mom after all.

I was pushing through the glass revolving doors, when I felt a tap on my arm that actually made me jump. But fortunately I checked to see who it was before letting out a girly shriek.

“Analisa! I thought you were in class.” Instead of crazed-scary-person shriek, it was more of an Oh.Em.Gee!-squee as we both leaned in for a hug.

My friend shook her head, a few stray curls escaping from her tight bun and threatening to mar her lead-in-Black-Swan-worthy look. “Just finished.”

I looked back at Officer … (I squinted to see his name plate) … Patterson. “But the guard said Group V gets out of morning class at one.”

Analisa laughed. “That’s true. But I’m in Group VI.”

I’d always really hated cliche phrases like “my jaw dropped.” I mean, it’s not even physically possible, you know? But right about then I realized that while it might not be the most elegant turn of phrase, it was the most effective way to describe the stupid expression that was almost certainly gracing my face at that moment.

Was Analisa actually in Group VI? Well, duh, obviously she was if she said so. She had no reason to lie to me. But it was sort of a slap in the face, nonetheless.

Because I’d only been accepted into Group IV. I figured Analisa would be a group level ahead of me, since she was a year older. But two groups?

More than ever, I felt a new urgency to get healthy again so I could return to dance school. I had work to do.

“Cool!” I said, swallowing my pride along with a healthy dose of real excitement for my friend. “That’s awesome. So, can you sign me in, Miss Prima Ballerina?”

Analisa screwed her face into a grimace. “Yeah, you must be hungry. Why don’t we go out for lunch?”

Change the subject much? “No, I’m not hungry, and don’t complain about my eating disorder. I’ve got that under control.” Mostly.

“Then maybe we should just step outside and wait for Maya.” She pushed me towards the door. “I think she wanted to take us over to Broadway Dance Center for a Triple Threat class.”

“But I can’t dance,” I protested.

“Sure you can,” she said as I disappeared through the revolving door, so I had to wait until we were both on the other side before I began speaking again.

I shook my head once she joined me outside in the heat, and pointed down at my ugly navy blue knee brace. “I’m supposed to stay off of it as much as possible. Only real exercise I can do is swimming.”

“But you can sing,” she insisted, putting her arm around my shoulders and sort of guiding me back through the plaza.

“And I can also hang out in your dorm room or watch your rehearsal,” I said, shrugging out of her hold and ducking under her arms to turn around and head back to MBC. “Seriously, Ana, I’m hot and tired and just want to relax in the a/c.”

She moved her graceful body in front of me to block my path. “You don’t want to go in there.”

“Why not?”

I could practically see the angel on her right shoulder warring with the devil on her left. She bit her lip. “Craig’s upstairs.” Not sure which celestial being won that battle.

“You’re right,” I said. “I don’t want to go in there.” And with that, I spun on my heel and sprinted across the plaza, knee injury be damned.

“Dani, wait!” I could hear Analisa calling, but I didn’t care. I had to get away. I had to think.
I turned the corner into an alley so I could be alone for a second or two, but soon learned I had company. A woman was slumped on the bench like a homeless person except that she was way too well-dressed, so more likely hung over. Probably one of the law students from next door misunderstood the meaning of “bar review.”

And that’s when I noticed her shoes. Pink and black slides.And a black dress. And blood.

Apparently I was wrong when I said I’d never see the girl from the bus again. But I wasn’t wrong about her never seeing me again. She wouldn’t be seeing anyone else either, for that matter.

Not now. Not later. Not ever.

She wasn’t drunk. She was dead.

Amanda Brice leads a double life. By day she’s an intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency. At night she juggles raising two kids under the age of three with writing teen mystery novels, including Codename: Dancer and Pointe of No Return.. A popular speaker on the writers’ conference circuit with her workshops on basic copyright and trademark law, she is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and the president of Washington Romance Writers. The third book in her Dani Spevak Mystery Series — Pas De Death — was released yesterday. The first book in her YA time travel series — Party Like It’s 1899 — will be released this fall. For more information, please visit www.amandabrice.net.

Winner and Contest

The winner of last week’s giveaway of Shadow Falls: The Beginning and a bag of goodies is Katarina Hall. Congratulations! Katarina, please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com with your address.

And for this week’s contest, I’m giving away a copy of Amanda’s book Pas De Death to one lucky person who leaves a comment.

Della’s Back!

 

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The door to my mind swung open and there stood Della with her hand on her hips.   The light shining from behind her silhouetted her, but there was no doubt it was Della.  This sassy vamp had attitude all the way down to her posture.

Not that I blamed her.  She’d been through some tough times.  Like being turned into a vampire, then practically being disowned by her own family.   Not to mention the disastrous romance with Lee, who she still loved.   Oh, she denied it, but she denied it a little too strongly.  Under that tough girl act she always wore like a second skin, Della had a lot of pain.  I saw it.  Kylie saw it.  The only other person who seemed to see it was Steve, the hot shape-shifter who has a thing for Della.  And of course, Della denied any feelings for Steve.  Well, she admitted he had a nice butt, but that’s all she’d admit.

“Come on in,” I said.

She took one step then stopped.  “Why am I back here?”

“Because I needed to talk to you about something.”

“About what?”

“About the mission you’re about to go on.”

“I can’t talk about it.”  She shot me a smartass look.

I’m not going to ask you questions you can’t answer.  “So come in, please.”

She rolled her eyes.  “Since you said please.”

Strolling in, she plopped down on the sofa.   Then, her gaze shot up to the wall where sword had once hung.  “Where’s that bloody sword you had up there?”

I shrugged.  “It keeps disappearing.  I don’t know where it goes.”

She frowned. “Is that like some clue to what’s going to happen in the next book?”

“It could be, I’m not sure.”

She frowned.  “You got more secrets than a rogue werewolf has fleas.”

“Maybe a few,” I said, and grinned.  “So, do you know I’m writing about you and Steve on the mission?”

“Yeah, I heard the rumors.  Am I going to kick someone’s ass on the mission?”

I shrugged.  “Maybe.”

“That means yes.”  She rubbed her hands together.

“But I’m worried, Della.  I mean, you can’t do this mission alone.  You’re going to need Steve’s help to get through this.”

“Bullshit!  The guy’ll do nothing but slow me down.  I’m furious at Burnett for wanting to send him with me.  And when I meet with Burnett, I’m going to try to make him see reason.  I don’t need Steve.”

“Della, I’m serious, you and Steve are going to have to work together.  Not everything is going to go smoothly.  This thing could very easily turn dangerous. ”

“I can handle dangerous,” Della said, but for one second, I saw a flicker of fear in her eyes.  She wasn’t nearly as confident as she pretended to be.

“Look, Della.  It’s not a sin to need someone’s help.”

“Yes it is!” she said.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

She stood up.  “When you need someone, you give them the ability to hurt you.  To let you down.”

“Caring about people doesn’t always turn out badly,” I insisted.  “You let yourself care about Kylie.”

“Yeah, and how did that turn out?  She’s gone.”

“I think she’ll be back,” I said.

“Can you tell me that for sure?”

I hesitated.

“See,” Della said.  “When you care about someone, you just end up hurt.”

She stormed out of door of my mind.  I sighed.  I guess Della was going to have to learn the hard way.  And this mission was only the beginning.  I hadn’t told Della yet, but she is my main character in the next Shadow Falls books.   Della, sassy attitude and all, was about to embark on some difficult times.  I had a feeling she would survive.  But it wasn’t always going to be easy.

 Winner & Giveaway

The three winner’s of last week’s giveaway of Shadow Falls: The Beginning are Skie-Ann Pahls, Lauren Pictor and Veronica :p. You all have until March 19, 2013 to email your address to me at cc@cchunterbooks.com.

Now for this week’s giveaway, I’m giving away another copy of Shadow Falls: The Beginning plus a bag full of goodies! Leave a comment for a chance to win. (If you are reading this on Goodreads, you must post your comment on my blog page to win.) Unfortunately, I have to limit this giveaway to residents of the U.S.

 

 

 

 

Shadow Falls: The Beginning

SFBeginningToday is release day for Shadow Falls: The Beginning! That’s one book containing both Born at Midnight and Awake at Dawn. Now, most of you have already read those books, but this book is a wonderful way to introduce your friends to my series.

Born At Midnight

Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap lately. Her parents are getting a divorce for who the heck knows why. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out. And her grandmother died because . . . well, older people do that. But now, Kylie’s acquired a stalker and she hasn’t a clue what he wants or how to get rid of him . . . and she really wants to get rid of him because apparently she’s the only one who sees him. Thinking she may be losing it, her parents send her off to see a psychologist who gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it’s a camp for troubled teens.

They thought wrong.

Kylie’s surrounded by vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shapeshifters. And if she believes what they tell her, she’s one of them. They’re just not sure exactly how she fits in. As Kylie struggles to cope with the realization that these creatures even exist, and the fact that she might not be human, she’s got two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy vying for her attention. And they can just keep vying. Kylie’s determined that before she lets her heart loose on love, she needs to unearth the truth. What does the ghost want? Who can and can’t she trust? And most of all . . . What is she?

Awake at Dawn

Kylie Galen thought her life was a mess before she went to Shadow Falls Camp. However, now that she’s discovered she’s not human, the problems presenting themselves are anything but normal.

She’s determined to uncover the answer to her supernatural heritage, but with a ghost insisting someone Kylie loves is about to die, her newly developed sixth sense telling her someone is watching her and a rogue vampire on a murdering rampage, Kylie’s quest for answers is on hold. As if her life isn’t difficult enough, just when she’s about to give her heart to Derek, he starts pulling away. When Lucas comes back, Kylie feels more conflicted than ever. Kylie’s weekend with her mom should have been just the break Kylie needs, but it turns out to be her breaking point. Discovering her heritage may not ever matter if she doesn’t survive.

Shadow Falls: The Beginning is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble for one low price. But to celebrate the release, I’m giving away THREE copies of Shadow Falls: The Beginning to three people who leave a comment. (Sorry, but this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.)