Sunday, March 31, 2013

Author Brina Courtney

My releationship with Brina goes back beyond this blog but her novel
Reveal was the first book ever reviewed on my blog!  So today I would
like you to:

Meet Brina Courtney
Brina Courtney is a young adult author obsessed with chocolate, crime shows, and fantasy movies. She's spent the last few years as an elementary teacher and a high school cheering coach. She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and two very loud, small dogs. 
Find Her:

Brina's Books

     Buy It:                                                     Buy It:                                               Buy It:  
B&N||Amazon                                       B&N||Amazon                                Not yet Released

      Buy It:                                                  BUY IT:                                              Buy It:
     Amazon                                           B&N||Amazon                                  B&N||Amazon

Just so you all know Their Promise was one of my favourite reads last 
year!  It was absolutly breath taking and an emotinal ride & it's only .99!!!!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Michelle Pennington & The True Images Series

Michelle is such a wonderful contemporary writer.  Her first book
Candid absolutely captured me and Sing to Me was beautiful.  She
has characters that you can relate to and are fun to read.

Meet Michelle Pennington

Michelle Pennington has a BA in Liberal Arts from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. To attain this degree, she studied Literature, Rhetoric, History, and Art. She married her sweetheart, Ethan, while still in college and developed a new penchant for skipping class to spend more time with him. Despite this distraction, she still managed to graduate Magna Cum-Laude.Her love for the written word began at a young age. At four years old, she followed her mother around all day asking how to spell things. Her teen years were spent hiding in trees, on rooftops, and anywhere she could escape her chores for a while to read. Despite this aggravating behavior, her parents always encouraged her love of literature and her dream to write. Michelle is a hopeless romantic and an insatiable people watcher.Currently she is a stay-at-home mom where she cares for her three children, who are at once adorable and exasperating. In the midst of the domestic whirlwind that is her life, she enjoys crafting, cooking, art, and reading.

Find Her

Michelle's Books

Life is simple for high school senior, Sienna Whitfield. With a few good friends, a camera, and a dream, she has everything she needs to be happy. But when Jordan Rubio, the most popular girl at Haskins High, makes her mad, she decides to use the power of photography to right a few social wrongs. As if that doesn’t cause enough drama in her life, she realizes she’s falling for the new guy, Lee Franklin. Strong and protective, he’s just what she needs to survive the craziness she’s stirred up at school. If only she didn’t have to keep her feelings for Lee a secret from her mom…
Release Date:
Buy It:

Senior Prom is just a few weeks away, and Rylie’s long time crush asked her to go with him. Wow! Could things get more perfect? Oh, except her mom is making her earn the money for her dress, mostly by cleaning all the dead bugs out of their house, and a guy in choir is making her life miserable. Then her mom lands her a steady babysitting job and things start to look up. She’ll have her dress in no time and a two year old is better than bugs any day. Unfortunately, she’s in for a big surprise when she shows up for her first night on duty. One moonlit lullaby and Rylie realizes she’s in trouble. What do you do when you have everything you wanted… and you don’t want it anymore?
Release Date:
Buy It


Pink= Me
Blue= Michelle

 Is there any special place that you go to write?
I end up writing at my kitchen table a lot. Sometimes I manage to write in my
recliner or in bed, but usually only when my two year old is asleep.  Otherwise, sitting down to write is like an invitation for him to climb all over me. The kitchen table is associated with eating vegetables though, so he pretty much leaves me alone there. Someday I’ll have an office/craft room/sewing room/room with a lock on the door.

What would you say is your favorite experience being an Indie writer?  
Any advice for those who wish to write?

I’ve only been an indie author since October of 2011, so I’m still pretty new at 
this. It’s been great to have that first trickle of fans, to know I’m making my dream 
come true, and to actually finish something. The best experience I’ve had,though, 
is that after I published my first novel, several women I knew came up to me
saying they’ve always wanted to be a writer and that when they saw me take 
the bull by the horns and self-publish, it inspired them to get going. It’s easy to 
dream – to want to write. It’s incredibly difficult to actually do it. We now have a 
local writer’s circle that meets regularly. We edit, critique, motivate, and support 
each other. It’s such an awesome feeling to know that I helped inspire them. So 
my advice is, do it. Start now. I read somewhere that dreams don’t die, they get 
buried. Don’t let that happen to yours.

You have to leave your house and can only take 5 items. What are they?
It’s always so hard to narrow this down, so I’m going to cheat and pick a reason 
I’m leaving: Going to a Writer’s Circle Meeting (since I’m thinking about it.) 
Chapstick, Notebook, Pen, Gum or Sugar Free Candy, and my cell phone. The 
first four are absolutely necessary for the meeting. The fifth is so my husband 
can remind me that I need to come home at some point.

How did you choose the names for your characters?  Did any of them change as you wrote?
One of my friends teased me for naming my main character in Candid after my mini-van. I informed her that I actually named her Sienna because her mom is an artist and Sienna is an oil color – originally made from the soil in Siena, Italy. It’s a warm, earthy color and I thought it would highlight her personality. Weird coincidence though. Another weird coincidence is that I was using a random name generator to think of names for male characters. (Guys names are so hard!) The name Lee came up and I knew it was perfect for the love interest in the story. My husband was teasing me about that one, but I wasn’t sure why more name while I’m at it. I went to the high school I graduated from to do a presentation on self-publishing and writing. I wasn’t surprised when the girls were way more interested in my work than the boys, but in one class there were two football players who were pretty interested – I think because I read an excerpt that included a football game. Someone asked me this same question: How do you choose the names for your characters? I mentioned that guys are really hard for me to name and those two football players both started begging me to name characters after them. One was Colby and one was Adam, which I liked, so I agreed. When I sat down to write Sing To Me, I played around with the idea of combining the two names for the love interest, but I decided not to because I thought they’d both want their own character. So, I went back to using that random name generator again. I’m not kidding you, the second name that came up was Colby Adams. I just stared at it. It was a sign.

What is one thing about you that you think may surprise your readers?
That I wanted to be a dolphin trainer when I grew up? Oh wait, so did everyone 
else. That there were 35 kids in my senior class? That right now I’m feeling like 

the most uninteresting person in the world? Ok, it’s not a good sign that all my 
responses end in a question mark. Moving on.

 Truth or dare?
After watching a couple of my friends have to run naked down the street one
night, I became a Truth girl. None of my secrets are worth the risk.

Most embarrassing thing you have ever done.... That you can share with
I was a student janitor in high school. (I lived in a small town with VERY few
jobs.) Anyway, I was lucky enough to get stuck cleaning the basketball locker
rooms. I saw things in there that should have scarred me for life. Luckily, I have  
a sense of humor and got over it. The locker rooms were at the end of my route, 
so basketball practice was long over with and the guys cleared out by the time 
I got there. I knocked of course, and shouted a warning, waited, held my breath 
(because of the smell) and went in. Well, one day, I was distracted or something 
and forgot my whole precautionary routine. I walked right in on a guy who was 
only wearing a pair of blue boxers. Oh my gosh, I hope he never reads this! I 
had a kind of, almost crush on him. Did I scream? Nope. Did he? Nope. Did I 
run out? Nope. Did he? Nope. We just looked at each other for a long, awkward 
moment, then went about our business, pretending nothing happened. That’s 
right, I STAYED in there and started cleaning while he got dressed as fast as he 
could. He wouldn’t look at me for months. I still can’t believe I was that stupid.

What's next?
 Focused is next. It’s literally on the doorstep. Get the presses ready! Oh wait,
I mostly sell ebooks, so forget that. Focused is the sequel to Candid. This one
alternates point of view between Sienna and Lee so it’s been really fun to write.  
For those of you who have read Candid, Focused ties off a few loose ends, 
but it also explodes into a crazy ride will surprise you only slightly more than it 

surprised me. If you haven’t read Candid yet, well, you’re behind – so get going! <--- I agree!!!

I love Michelle's writing!! Enter so you don't miss your chance
to win and fall in love with Michelle's writing yourself!! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

{{COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY}} Broken Gates by D.T. Dyllin

So today I have for you a cover reveal!!  I know Indie Girl March is almost
over but Dara is seriously amazing and was an Indie when I met her.  Though
she is now with a smaller publishing company (who is BEYOND lucky to have her)
I consider her an Indie and am honored to have her on the blog today!! So please 
enjoy & add to you Goodreads this soon to be released book!!! 

Broken Gates by D.T. Dyllin
Book two in The P.J. Stone Gates Trilogy

P.J. Stone is a Seer who saw too little, too late.
In the past, her biggest worries were boys and school—but war has a way of changing things. Now, the alien Riders are trying to overrun the world. As the last of their kind, P.J. and her friends must find a way to save humanity before there’s nothing left to save.
After choosing a mate, P.J. hoped she'd have time to enjoy her love life. But with everything changing so quickly and major secrets revealed, who knows what the future will bring?
Publisher: Dragonfairy Press
Cover Artist: Lindsay Tiry
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Release Date: May 24th, 2013


Dara has been awesome enough and done up a giveaway for her cover reveal!! Sadly
I haven't gotten my hands on this pretty yet and after Hidden Gates trust me I NEED to do so ASAP!! Anyway you can win all kinds of cool stuff including and Ecopy of the book that got me hooked Hidden Gates! Just enter below and GOOD LUCK!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

**Author Post & GIVEAWAY** Magan Vernon

Another amazing Indie that you guys should totally be checking out!!  Especially
if you are a fan of New Adult because if you didn't read me review of 
The Only Exception you should know it ROCKED!!

Meet Magan Vernon
Magan Vernon is a Young Adult and New Adult writer who lives with her family in the insurance capital of the world. She is in a very serious, fake relationship with Adam Lambert and constantly asks her husband to wear guyliner. He still refuses. She also believes her husband is secretly an alien, disguised as a southern gentleman.
Find Her:

Her Books
So truth be told looking at all her books the first time I ever read something Magan 
wrote wasn't The Only Exception.  In His Eyes was where I first experienced her!! 
Though I still haven't picked up her *My Alien Romance series I loved the bit
I got in the anthology.  Here are Magan's other novels!

How To Date an Alien                     How to Break up With an Alien              How to Marry an Alien


Ten Random Facts about The Only Exception

1.) Central College is based off the college I went to, Illinois State University. Everything is based around the quad and I actually did work at the coffee shop in the student center.
2.) The character of Trey Chapman came into my head after watching an episode of New Girl in which Schmidt pretended to be the sixth Romney son, Thugg Romney. Thus there is a lot of Schmidt in the character of Trey.
3.) The Bill that Trey and Monica fight over is actually a real bill that went into effect in Illinois and a lot of other states. My research on it was based off the bill in Massachusettes that Governor Romney put into effect and how people reacted to it.
4.) There is NOT a sequel planned, but a possible companion novel between Monica’s best friend and Trey’s best friend.
5.) Trey’s car choice came after over twenty people responded to my question, “What kind of car would a douchebag drive?”
6.) Alpha Mu and Kappa Beta are not real Greek organizations, but they are also seen in My Paper Heart. Kappa Beta came from the fact that I wanted to use my mom’s initials ‘KB.’
7.) I never actually say where Trey’s family lives, but if you Google how I describe it, the town pops up right away.
8.) John Boy was my favorite character to right because everything out of his mouth was just so “boy.”
9.) My editor informed me that I have an obsession with freckles, green eyes, and jaw lines. I have no regrets about this.
10.) Monica’s story is very real and happens to more women than I care to think about on college campuses. I was very reluctant to put this story out there and push the envelope, but my critique partners pushed me to not only tell Monica’s story, but to tell how to get help for people in that same situation. I hope people look at that and don’t think it’s just a story trope.

Magan has kindly donated an eARC of The Only Exception for Indie Girl March!
So basically one lucky winner will get the chance to read this New Adult novel EARLY!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

**REVIEW** The Only Exception by Magan Vernon

Though I only recently discovered I had a brief brush with Magan's writing before
The Only Exception really took me by surprise and I loved it!!

Due to sexual content and heavy subject matter, this book is recommended for ages 16+**
Fiercely liberal Monica Remy prefers to blend in. Despite her tattoos, piercings, and outspoken personality, she transferred to Central to escape—before she finds out that her next door neighbor is the uber conservative governor's son, Trey Chapman.
No matter how hard she tries to avoid Trey, he still finds a way to get under her skin. Monica can’t stand his crisp white shirts or his staunch views on women. But she can’t help counting every freckle on his face and wondering what it would feel like to have him stop talking politics and kiss her.
A class debate project forces the unlikely pair to work together, and the political lines are blurred in late-night make out sessions. But despite their fiery chemistry, Trey’s politics threatens to smother their relationship for good.

Expected Release: April 9, 2013
Published By:  Beautifully Broken Books
Review Copy:  eARC
**Provided by author for honest review


  The Only Exception is the only book in Indie Girl March that is a New Adult novel. This is a genre that I am enjoying immensely because it gives me a bit of the YA that I love and something a little more grown up to enjoy as well. This was however a lighter side of N/A, it didn't go over board with the adult situations. Not that I have a problem with that but this would be an awesome book for someone that was trying to ease their way into the N/A genre.

  I loved the story that this was based around. Monica just wants a fresh start, to start new where her nightmare won't follow her. Starting at a new college and where nobody knows her or will notice her seemed like the perfect idea, until someone noticed her. Her neighbour and the senators son, Trey. Trey's dad represents many of the values and supports many ideas that leaves Monica cold and angry. Trey however is determined to get Monica and is willing to do whatever it takes, everything it seems but change his political views that are so closely aligned with his fathers.

  Monica was the type of character that you easily like. At first I thought that outside of her no opposite sex rule that she might be a bit of a push over but when her roommate takes things a step too far she does stand up for herself and prove me wrong. She strongly believes in many things and isn't afraid to put her opinion out there and this is most visible when her and Trey get into their political discussions. She does come from a good home but at times her past haunts her more than she lets on and for awhile I thought that maybe she wasn't going to get past it. What she went through is hard for anyone but the fact that people, the people that were supposed to be like sisters to her just let it happen cut deep.

  Despite all differences Monica and Trey developed a great relationship. He never pushed for more than she was ready for and though there is a deeper reason for it worked well for both of them. Well he did push for her in the start when she constantly shut him down. The guy was persistent and you really had to give him credit for it. I mean if I had several dozen roses given to me and the guy was sweet I would give him a chance. Best thing about all of it was that it never felt forced, never rushed. Trey gradually wore on Monica and when they finally slipped into the relationship status it just felt right. There is turbulence and some things that seem to be too much and I thought that would be it but things always seem o work out when you are willing to make an exception.

  Megan's writing plays a huge part in how much I enjoyed this one as well. Everything flows and the story is wonderfully written so that you remain engaged and don't get board or in a rut. As far as New Adult goes as I said this is on the lighter side but for people starting the genre it is absolutely perfect. I look forward to more of Megan's writing and hope she continues to write in the New Adult genre.

I wondered if he worked out, or if he had the knobby things that dipped into his V line.  I didn't know what they were called, but they made smart girls do stupid things whenever they saw a guy without his shirt on.

"For now, I'll let you plead temporary amnesia," he said and lifted my chin to him.  "But I'm never going to forget what it felt like when you were biting my lip instead of your own."

One minute I was hating the guy and the next I agreed to go on a date with him.  It was like my heart was torn in two different directions, and the horny part was winning out.

Monday, March 25, 2013

**Author Post & GIVEAWAY** S.R. Johannes

I first met S.R. Johannes on twitter last year and then shortly after I won
a copy of Untraceable.  Let me tell you the book was AMAZING!!  This was before
my blogging days but I will tell you right now this is the kind of book you buy a 
physical copy of to put on your shelves!! 

Meet S.R. Johannes
S.R. Johannes is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller series) and new tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. She has also published short novelettes as well as a teen romance anthology with 16 other authors titled, In His Eyes. Uncontrollable is the sequel to Untraceable, and Unstoppable (book 3) is scheduled for Summer 2013.S.R. Johannes is the YA advisor of ALLi and a winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult category). She was also nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult category), a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review's Best Young Adult of 2012, and a YA Finalist in the US Book News best Book of 2012.After earning an MBA and working in corporate America doing marketing for over 15 years, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, English-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.

Shelly's Books

I just have to say I have some SERIOUS cover love for these books!! Not only does
Shelly fill her books with awesome but she wraps them in awesome as well!! 

Buy Untraceable:

Buy Uncontrollable:

A couple lucky winners will get an e-copy of their choice between these
two books!  Lucky!!!!  I personally still need to get my hands on Uncontrollable
so lucky you guys <3

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Author Post Lee Strauss (Elle Strauss) **Perception Chapter 1 & Giveaway**

Meet the ever lovely Elle Strauss (Lee Strauss).  I started my love affair with
Elle's writing when I read Clockwise!  Perception was a completely differnt 
type of story but I LOVED it still.

Meet Lee/Elle
I write YA time travel and merfolk chic-lit. I'm a married mom of four, and live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. I'm fond of Lindt's sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather.I write mature historical and sci-fi YA under the name LEE Strauss.
Stalk Her:

Elle's Books
Okay so here I normally post the Authors books but truth is Elle has MANY 
amazing books out.  Please visit her GR page to add them!  I recently discovered
she has a Love Tink novelette series and it looks awesome!  Plus Seaweed which I 
NEED because well it's Mermaid and as Mermaid & Myth month shows I LOVE 
MERMAIDS!!!!  Anyway so I will spotlight Perception & Violation here but CHECK
out all of the amazing novels she has out!!!! 

Get It FREE:

Amazon||Barnes & Noble||Smashwords

Perception Chapter #1
Chapter 1
I balanced on my surfboard, right thigh burning and salt water stinging my eyes, while the best wave of the early morning carried me like a goddess on a pedestal to shore. My older 

brother Liam and I shared a friendly competition, and it gave me a certain, blissful satisfaction to 
catch the same wave and to get to shore first. 
“Oh yeah!” I shouted over the noise of the crashing surf. Seagulls flocked and circled over us, squawking loudly, adding to the cacophony. The sun glistened off Liam’s damp blond curls as he shook them out. His eyes sparkled as his lips tugged up into a grin. “I let you win.” 
“Did not!” I smacked him playfully on the arm. “One more ride?” 
Liam unzipped his wetsuit letting the top half fall down past his waist. He was in fine 
form, and I understood why all the girls raved about him. He was responsible for a long list of 
broken hearts. 
“I gotta get going,” he said, lifting his board. 
I fell into step beside him, my feet sinking into the cold, wet sand. “So soon?” 
He nodded, the glint leaving his eyes. My lips tightened into a frown “You’re taking off 
with Jackson again?” 
Jackson was my boyfriend but lately he’d been spending more time with my brother than 
he had with me. It was starting to tick me off. 
Liam stared straight ahead. “Lab stuff.” 
“What are you working on?” I rushed to keep up with my brother’s long, strong strides. He flicked his head, tossing the hair out of his eyes but didn’t answer. 
“Come on,” I knocked into him sideways. “Tell me!” 
“It’s just stuff.” 
“Just stuff? Like what? Top CIA stuff? I know you’re smart but I think the government 
has been doing a good job without your help.” 
I meant it as a joke, but Liam huffed. “It’s just stuff, okay? So leave it.” 
I stopped short, shocked that he’d snapped at me. 
He turned around and exhaled, “Zoe, I’m sorry.” 
“Fine. If you can’t tell me, you can’t tell me.” 
We resumed our trek along the beach, and I pushed back my frustration. Liam used to
include me in everything. It was always him and me against everyone else. Him and me against 
Alison and Paul, aka our mom and dad. Him and me against the surf. We were a team. When did 
we start keeping secrets from each other? Rather, when did he start keeping secrets from me? 
I re-adjusted my board under my arm. Maybe I could get Jackson to unzip his lips. He 
could be easily persuaded if I poured on the charm. I hated to go behind my brother’s back for 
information, but something about all this–this, whatever it was that Liam was doing–made me 
uneasy. I couldn’t pinpoint why, it just did. 
We reached our home, a massive glass box with two floors of windows facing the Pacific 
Ocean. It was built after the San Andreas Fault shifted and triggered the Big Quake that, along 
with the subsequent tsunami, wiped out ten miles of shoreline. 
A nearby white-stucco storage shed housed all our water toys. We stopped there to hang up our wetsuits to dry. 
“Thanks for surfing with me today.” Liam smiled at me, back to his jovial self. “I know it 
was a sacrifice for you to get up so early.” 
I smiled in return. “No problem. It was fun.” Surfing with Liam was one of my most favorite things to do. 
“You’re back for dinner?” I asked. 
Liam didn’t know it, but once he left, I’d be spending the rest of the day preparing for 
his surprise birthday party. He’d turned twenty-one yesterday and had celebrated at a bar with 
his friends. I couldn’t go because I was underage, and it irked me that Jackson went and that he 
and Liam had once again shared a significant moment without me. I took consolation in the fact 
that Alison and Paul gave me free reign to plan this party. My heart beat with excitement, and I 
couldn’t wait to see his face when he got home and found the house full of his friends. 
“Yeah, I’ll be there,” he answered. 
I bit my cheek to keep my voice even. “Good. We’ll see you, then.”  
Our property tiered twice before connecting with the sandy beach. Three glass doors slid 
open disappearing into the corner and creating a wall-less view of the stone patio that encased an 
eternity pool. Its waters slipped over the far edge into a waterfall that was collected again on the 
second tier. 
Liam strode into the house, through the living room and down the hall to his bedroom at 
the back, his wet shorts dripping on the glossy white tiles. 
I tightened the towel around my waist and climbed the open-slat staircase to my room.  
As I passed the maid, Saundra something, her brown face blanched. She stumbled 
slightly before grabbing the rail and catching herself.  
“Excuse me,” she said softly at my astonished expression. 
The woman really didn’t look well, and I was thankful for my enhanced immunization. I 
was glad I didn’t have to worry about diseases brought in from the outside.  
“Are you okay?” I asked. 
She nodded weakly, and proceeded to clean the rails.  
A trill of anticipation reclaimed my thoughts. I couldn’t wait for tonight. The door beside my bathroom opened into a second room, a walk-in closet big enough to 
house another bedroom set. Racks of clothes and shoes lined the walls, a well-lit mirror station 
was located near the sky light and a cushioned leather bench was placed in the middle for sitting.  
I stood in my closet and stared at the rows of sundresses, blouses and shorts.  
What to wear? 
I settled on a lace blouse and cotton shorts, then went to take a luxurious shower, 
rinsing the sea water out of my long, blond hair. I leaned into the built-in seat that was designed 
specifically for my body height and shape. Laser lights mapped my head and twenty-eight silicon 
fingers reached out to massage my scalp while shampooing and conditioning my hair. Most days
I had to watch or I’d doze off, but today I was excited. I commanded the water to turn off as soon 
as the rinse was done.  
When I was dressed and my hair combed out and tied back, I slipped my platinum 
Communication Ring onto my left middle finger. I tapped it which produced a holographic 
image of my phone apps on my palm. I touched the clock icon and holographic digital numbers 
appeared in the air.  
Ten already? Where did the time go? That was the thing with summer holidays; every 
hour ran languidly into the next. 
I imagined the cook and her crew were busy preparing for the party in the kitchen. I’d requested fresh sea food and simulated roast, fresh fruit and vegetables, an assortment of fancy 
chocolates and baked items, plus a three-tiered, surfer-themed birthday cake. 
I skipped down the stairs to check on the progress, but in my hurry to the kitchen, I slammed into a body.  
“Sorry,” a male voice said. 
I stepped back, agitated. I recognized the dark-haired boy wearing the white tunic my 
mother made the male staff wear. He was the maid’s son. He held a wet mop in his hand, and I 
figured he’d been cleaning up Liam’s spotty water trail.  
He stepped politely out of the way, but the expression on his face was stoic. Even though 
he was clearly from the outside and the help, I still expected some small sign that what he saw 
when he viewed me was pleasing. A twinkle in the eye, a slight upturning of the lips. These were 
the responses I got from all the boys. The straight ones, anyway.  
He wasn't especially attractive but I didn't see people with his appearance very often. He 
had eyes the color of imported coffee beans and skin like caramel candy. His nose was wide and 
his jaw-line sharp. I was suddenly intrigued by him and surprised myself by thinking he looked 
“Excuse me, what was your name again?” I asked. 
Right. I remembered now. I waited for him to say something, but he stayed quiet. 
Footsteps echoed from the hall above. My parents spoke together, their muffled voices 
floating across the high ceilings.  
“Do other maids send their sons to do their work?” Alison's voice had a brassy tone that carried through the cavernous space. 
I felt a flare of red creep up my neck when I realized Alison was talking about Noah. My 
eyes darted to his, but he kept his averted. 
“He does a good job,” Paul responded. “That's the main thing. Besides you know they need the money.”  
“So we're charity now?” 
“What's wrong with a little charity? Besides, they're not just anybody.” 
“I don't care. I still don't trust him.” 
I was mortified. My feet felt cemented to the floor and I didn’t know what to say. 
Anything would come off as trite since nothing I could say could undo what Noah had heard.
“Did you know the Pikes have a household robot now?” Alison, again. “Apparently it’s very efficient, and at least Mary doesn’t have to worry about things going missing.” Noah’s jaw tightened and he turned his back to me. He attacked Liam’s dried and dusty water spots aggressively and soon had disappeared around the corner.  “Zoe?” Alison click-clacked down the wooden stairs. She wore a pale yellow pant suit and high heels even though it was Saturday. She was in-between careers now, having spent the 
last fifteen years in law. She barely looked thirty years old and with lots of time ahead of her, she 
could do anything. Probably several things. 
“Mom! You have to keep your voice down. How many times do I have to tell you your
voice travels in this glass box? 
“Oh.” She looked mildly shaken. “No matter. Is everything coming together to your 
“I’m just checking in on things now.” 
“Your father and I are meeting people for lunch. What time is the party again?” I blew a frustrated breath. She could at least pretend she cared enough to remember details I’d told her a dozen times already. 
“Right. We’ll see you at seven.” 
Things proceeded throughout the day as planned and I was pleased with my ability to pull 
off an event like this on my own. 
The decorators showed up at 1:00 as promised. 
The band arrived to set up at 3:00.  
I got dressed at 4:30, having bought a thigh-length mini-dress that sparkled with tiny 
crystals just for the occasion. 
My hair and makeup girl arrived at 5:00. 
I tapped my ring and called Jackson at 5:30. 
“Where are you?” I said to the three-inch holographic image of him that popped up above 
my palm. “You said you’d help.” 
“Sorry, Zo. Got tied up at home.” 
“Are you okay? You don’t sound so good.” 
It was odd. No one in Sol City ever got really sick, but it wasn’t unheard of to get run 
down if you pushed yourself too hard. Jackson had been working a lot lately. 
“I didn’t sleep well last night. Uh, spent most of the day in bed.” 
I felt a little panicky. “You’re still coming, aren’t you?” 
“Of course. I’ll be there soon.” 
Alison and Paul arrived at 6:30 along with all of mine and Liam’s friends. 
I hushed everyone at 6:55, giving instructions on when to shout “Surprise!” 
It was all a wasted effort.  
Liam never showed.

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