North: The Lycans by Suzanne Fuller
Riley Olssen is a born and bred Lycan who lives in the quiet suburbs of Valdez, Alaska. Her life is simple: she goes to school, comes home, and shifts in the forest behind her home. When her father receives word that his brother has died, they must return to his home in Sweden to take care of the pack Davin left behind.
Soon after they arrive, Riley realizes there is much more to the small town than she'd ever expected. She discovers that the Lycans are not the only creatures to hide behind a human façade. Falling in love with the wrong Lycan is only one of the problems she encounters. In one day, her life is forever changed, and she must discover her own inner strength because all signs seem to point to a war heading her way.
Ramona Salazar watched the pathetic humans in blue close the iron shutters, wrap a steel padlock around the hooks, and sit down at their desks with their cheap coffee and tiny screens. She sneered at the way they relaxed in their seats, flirting with each other. They were guards, supposedly.
They know nothing of the world! I could show them a thing or two about protection and loyalty.
They were entirely unaware of her presence above them, in the air duct. Ramona was inside the National British Museum, and had something very, very old to collect from the archives. She'd searched far and wide, been to over a dozen countries looking for these documents. Now she was close enough to feel their presence.
She pulled her black hood forward around her red hair and pale face, then slid the grate over. As silent as the night, she dropped to the marble floor. Her hooded cloak helped cushion her landing, as she rolled into the shadows. One of the guards— a marginally overweight male—snapped his head up, and looked directly at her. She closed her eyes, knowing their crimson glow would surely give her away.
"Did you hear something?" he asked the girl.
"No, and didn’t see nothing either," she told him.
His co-worker's words didn't seem to settle him, because when Ramona opened her eyes the guard stood up and wrapped his fingers around the flashlight on his belt.
Idiot, hasn't he heard that curiosity killed the cat?
Ramona pulled the hood across her cheek, allowing herself another quick glance his way. He had stepped around the desk and made his way down the darkened corridor towards her, each step carefully placed in front of the other.
Here puss, puss. Come to mami…
She turned, still draped in the thick black wool of her cape and slid the diamond blade from her hip. It shimmered in her hand. She waited until he was close.
Closer… Closer still…
"Hello?" he called into the dark, waving the beam of light erratically across her path. Still he did not see her. She almost had to laugh because it was so easy. He took the final step, the one she'd been waiting for. She turned, her hair a wild blaze in his face as she brought the blade up, slicing into his throat. She wrapped her small gloved hands around his head and dropped down to the floor, clutching his lifeless body. The flashlight rolled across the tiles, but there wasn't time to stop it. She wrapped him in her cloak, slid the blade out and pressed her lips to the wound.
His blood was bitter, and it came in great floods, but no matter how foul it tasted, Ramona drank until his body gave no more. She pulled away, wiped her bloodied mouth against her sleeve, and pressed her forefinger into the wound. It came away coated in crimson fluid. She ran it down the middle of her forehead, across her throat and rubbed it deep into a triangular scar on her wrist. It seeped into the grooves, wrapping around the edges of her skin. Her eyes burned with murderous intent and her vision became as crimson as the seeping wound on the man's neck.
"Dan?" The girl called out from around the corner. "Daniel? Are you all right? You better not be messing with me!"
"Wake up," Ramona said, kicking Daniel's foot. He twitched and his eyes flashed open. His mouth was slack and his soulless eyes looked to Ramona for guidance. "Your friend is waiting for you," she whispered. He snapped his head around, almost severing it as he stretched the skin over the wound, and looked at the girl.
"There you are!" She gasped in relief as she spotted him and stepped out from the desk. Ramona stayed within the shadows and watched. "Your coffee's getting cold and… Oh my god!" She screamed and dropped next to him. She pressed her shaking hands against his neck, tears streaming from her eyes and called out, "Help! Someone help!"
As friends unite and enemies surge, can Shalea be saved?
Shalea is in danger. The friends need to unite to face the unknown forces threatening to destroy them all. As old secrets are unveiled, and new alliances formed, will it be enough to save their Sept. Or is all going to be lost under the Shalean Moon?
"Do you know where we are?"
Aibhlinn shook her head. "Not really, though I could guess to within a few miles. I've not lived around here for long, so I'm not well up on all the countryside." She bit her bottom lip and twirled her hair into spirals with one hand.
Rach stared impatiently, the action familiar to her. At first she didn't realize it, but she found herself copying Aibhlinn's actions; her hand busy corkscrewing her own hair.
Dammit, I spent a good twenty minutes with my straighteners this morning, and I've just ruined all my hard work.
After a while Aibhlinn spoke. "Shit, I thought I'd stopped playing with my hair. You're as bad. We'll both look like a version of Tracey Beaker otherwise. Okay, let's hit all these questions one by one. We need to learn things, get to know each other, and maybe then we can do some good. Maybe. No..."
Rach opened her mouth to talk, and she was stopped by the hand in the air, universal "wait a moment" sign.
"Hold on, let me start. Don't you realize?" Aibhlinn asked her. "Today is Monday. That's why I'm in school uniform, because I've been to school. I might add, it seems so ridiculous to make final year students wear these stupid things. Grr, I'm eighteen, not eight, and I'm not in the habit of flashing my pants when it gets windy. Anyway, I'm rambling, so take it from me. Monday, kilt, cold legs."
Rach stared at the other girl. She didn't seem concussed, but then, with a—a what—shape-shifting Shalean fox, how would she be able to tell? "Look I do think we need to get you checked over. It can't be Monday." She tried to sound unconcerned, reasonable, in control. Inside, her mind was awhirl, and her stomach churned.
"Why?" Aibhlinn persisted. "Why can't it? You said the last thing you knew was late Friday night, so why can't it be Monday?"
"Well, oh shit, I don't know. Because, just well, because," Rach said lamely. She glanced at Aibhlinn, who said nothing, just stared and looked at her with patience.
"Shoot, is it really Monday?" Rach couldn't believe it; surely she'd know? But would I? Really, after everything else that's happened?
Aibhlinn nodded, her face sympathetic.
"Blast, Dad will be frantic. I was due back yesterday. He'll have police, school, god knows who running about all over the place now. Screw grounded for a month, it'll be until I'm twenty one at this rate. What the fu..fudge is going on? Hold on, just who are you?" She leant back against the rock. "Damn that is so not comfy, the rock I mean. It's digging into me like a, well rock." She rolled her eyes. Aibhlinn laughed, then sobered quickly. "Seriously, I'm freaked out here. Help me. This is so not cool."
"Nope, it's not, we're not, and life sure isn't. Hell, Rach, I've no idea where to start here. I guess part of it is because I know when I've finished you're going to hate me big time. And not just you either. Between me and my...well let's say I've messed up a lot of stuff for you, and now." She exhaled noisily, then gasped. "Shit, I so mustn't do that, it flipping hurts. Now, I've got to try and atone for my behavior."
Rach was puzzled.
"Atone? That’s a bit strong isn't it? What have you done, killed someone and hidden the body?"
Death’s Melody: The Ringer’s Masquerade by Sarah J. Pepper
A fate worse than death…
All of Catherine’s dreams ended with her progenitor’s sacrifice and the loss of her beloved. Surrounded by a scornful family and friendships built upon lies, she’s never felt more alone. The Ringer denies her plea to be an organ donor yet monitors her relentlessly. She is unable to live a life free of the hospital’s control. Her future unravels as disturbing questions arise and hidden lies surface. However, what’s even more troubling than the Ringer’s dangerous secrets are the torturous punishments they deliver to those who defy them.
Sitting utterly still in front of the piano, Sebastian's dark eyes hinted at dangerous thoughts. He clenched his jaw. Every finger slammed down on the keys, creating a dreadful crashing echo throughout the room. His gaze never left mine as he stood, knocking over the bench. His chest didn't rise or fall as the rest of the world melted away until only he and I existed. When he finally breathed, it came out in a deep sharp exhale.
Desire paralyzed me. He walked haltingly across the room. His slow, calculated movements warned me that he was going out of his mind. The deranged look in his eyes stole the air from my lungs. Blinking wasn't an option. When he got within touching distance, he ran his hand through his hair.
Finally, he managed to speak, "If you keep looking at me like that I'll bloody—"
"Lose control," I finished for him while making my demand clear.
He closed his eyes as he dragged his fingers through the cowlick over his eyebrow. My impatience nearly drove me into his arms, but he opened his eyes seconds before I gave in. Taking the slightest step forward, he smirked, clearly enjoying the sight of me struggling. He leaned over me, his face close enough to kiss me. Instead he exhaled ever so slightly while a moan grew in his throat. It hit my neck, trickled down my chest, and stole my breath. Our bodies never touched. Every muscle flexed like it was painful for him not to wrap me in his arms.
I dug my fingernails into my palms as he tucked back a strand of my hair, careful not to touch my skin. I bit my lip as the warmth radiated off his hand. His mesmerizing blue eyes never looked as stunning—or consuming—as when he was frantic. Finally he slid his hand around the base of my neck and held me there. He teased me within an inch of my sanity. I hadn't even noticed his other hand venturing behind my back until he tightened his grip around my waist.
His lips barely grazed mine, but before he indulged in a kiss, he whispered hoarsely. "One day you'll admit the ironclad notion that I've already accepted."
"What am I in denial about?" I questioned.
"How much your soul yearns for mine," he said, and gently bit my lip.
Staring at my hands, I played the memory over and over. At the time it hadn't seemed like a turning point in our relationship. But it was. I'd let him see how frantic the mere sight of him made me, how his music lured me, how his charisma lit a fire in my soul. How his passion seized my heart. He gave me a taste of a life, of a world I never dreamed of yet had craved ever since. Thinking about it now I wished I had allowed myself to simply be with him—without distractions or limitations. Without a death sentence. Time was precious. I thought I'd understood it then.
Resolved: The Shalean Moon, Book 6 by J. Lilley
When Shaleans fight Shaleans nothing is simple. With the help of true friends can good overcome evil?
To save Shalea, so much depends on so few people, that nothing is certain. It's not even clear just which side some of them support, and the Sept is getting weaker.
Brios and his friends must save their world, but time is running out. To make things worse, the identities of some people might just result in no resolution at all.
Can everything become clear and good triumph over evil before the next Shalean Moon, or is Shalea as they know it over?
Tony started to talk about Marok again.
"All we can hope is that Marok continues to recover, and that he knows more about what's going on. I'm not happy or comfortable with anything at the moment."
Rach still thought there was a lot more to worry about than Marok's recovery; her dad wasn't the only one uncomfortable, but she didn't say so. It wasn't like her dad to be so negative, and it worried her. Not just that, Aibhlinn worried her as well. It had been during those long scary hours they'd spent together that she'd begun to get to know the other girl, and found she liked her. She suspected her aloofness was in all probability due to the situation she'd found herself in. What she hadn't found out was what Aibhlinn's involvement was with the Shalean-turned-Rogue, Struan Scott. In Rach's opinion that was crucial to help her understand what had taken place and might occur in the future.
"Well, I still wish I knew what was going on," she said again. Gah, I'm beginning to sound like a stuck record. She was tired but restless, and needed to find a way to solve her problems. She had an idea. "Dad, shall we go for a bike ride? It's not dark yet, and I've got to get some of these jitters out of me. I feel like a volcano about to erupt and it's not nice. I'd shift if I was with Brios or Leira, but as I'm not, well, could we cycle somewhere?"
"I'll hazard a guess you've an idea where that somewhere would be?" her dad asked her. "The Pardes'?"
Rach laughed. "Actually I hadn't thought of that, but if we did go there, maybe I could shift and run a bit, just along one of the tracks. You could watch, you know, keep an eye on me." She waited and looked at her dad's face as he thought about her request. In general, his face was very expressive. However, this time, she decided, he was not about to let her see anything he thought. "And maybe we could come back past Ali's," she went on. "And maybe her mum can tell us what's happening, and then maybe…"
"And then maybe," her dad said, "you'll draw breath, and I can say hold on, okay. Why does everything have to start with 'and'? Okay, let's do it. We've got about an hour I'd guess, before it gets too dark to ride with safety. Or." He paused. "I could drive you and you can run for longer?"
She liked the sound of that. "Really? You don't mind?"
Tony shook his head. "It makes sense. I'll jog while you shift and stretch your leopard. I reckon if anyone sees the car, they'll think it'd be natural for you to go and...er, water Shala's flowers for her, or well, something," he finished. He didn't sound too convinced. "I guess. While they're away."
Rach laughed. "Have you seen Shala and flowers? She tends flowers about as well as she cooks. Badly. Leira says that’s why they have shrubs, and her dad looks after them. No, I'm going to check on the gerbils."
Now her dad looked bewildered. "She doesn't have gerbils, does she?"
Rach sighed. "Nah, but hell, what else can I think off of the top of my head? Rabbits, hamsters, or god-knows-what. From now on, if anyone asks, Leira's got a pet, even though she doesn't know it. So if we have to, we'll bluff it."
Tony laughed. "Gerbils it is. Okay, lets go."
He picked up his car keys and phone and followed her out of the house. He locked the door and checked he'd done so. Rach grinned. He would never change.
"Paranoid, are we?" He shrugged. "Well, yeah, do you blame me?"
She shook her head. "Nope, not at all."