Gaurded Heart, By C. A. Harms


He continued to look at me as he lowered his gaze to my lips causing him to lick his lower lip. For God sakes just kiss me already. I felt like yelling it out. Forget it, damn it; I’ll do it. I pushed off the counter and brought my hands to his face and met his lips with mine. He responded immediately as he placed his hands on my hips and pulled me closer. “Is that a yes to getting to know each other?” he whispered against my lips and I smiled in return. “Yes, I would love to spend more time with you. You have to know though I am going to be horribly insecure, jealous and clingy. I have a terrible view of relationships and I am trying to look passed it all. You just have to know it may not be easy. If that’s too much…I understand.” He kissed me again, this time his tongue brushed my lower lip and then he pulled away entirely too soon causing me to pout. A sexy grin spread across his face again, “Don’t worry about it; I think I can handle you.” He winked and then he guided me back outside to join the party.


Samantha was less than a week from her wedding. She had it all or so she thought. Her world was turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Had the last four years of her life been a complete lie? We she ever be able to open up and let love in?

Giving your entire heart once is hard enough but when it is shattered by the one person you thought would always keep it safe it is almost impossible to trust and love again. Insecurity and Jealously fight Samantha Riggins, can she ever let go of the unsteady feelings and let in the love she deserves?


5 of 5 stars

Read from June 20 to 26, 2013

I really loved this book. I love that it has 2 POVs where I can also see what’s on each others’ sides. I really enjoyed it. I love how the author brought the characters to compliment with each other.
About the story… Well, it really captured my interest. I love the story’s flow. It was easy to read and to understand. And as the story goes to an end, wow..I feel like crying.. All in all, it’s so worth my time reading this book.. =)
Readers like me, who loved reading novels about love and second chances, this is the book for you!

5 of 5 stars

I was asked to review this book by the author so here we go! This is a story about a girl Sam who gets done wrong by a man! But her two best friends Mitch and Allison who are there for her throughout everything want her to try and move on! Although it is very hard she is introduced to a guy by her 2 best friends the attraction is undeniable they have a instant chemistry that is cosmic! But it’s not easy and there is many different bumps or should I say hills in the road! LOL It is a very good read I couldn’t put it down! C.A. Harms out did herself. I have to say in the short time I’ve been reviewing her books she has quickly became one of my favorite authors.

Book Insiration— I love to write about real life and things that happen everyday. I myself have not experienced this type of loss but someone very near and dear to me has and I was the Allison in the story. I was the one that held the head of my loved one and stood by there side through it all. I felt her hurt and dried her tears and in the end she met her Wes…not the same way of course but now she is happily married and going strong.

Contact info and Purchasing links:

Twitter— charms0814





Forget Me Not, By Sarah Daltry

Product Details

Lily had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Derek for years – which led to their steamy night ten months ago in her bedroom. Now, Lily is going off to college and she and Derek are still going strong. However, when school starts, she realizes it’s hard to maintain a relationship while also trying to live her own life. She and Derek find themselves falling apart and Lily has no idea where to turn.

Enter Jack. Everything about him is wrong for Lily and she knows it, but she can’t stop herself from being attracted to him. When things implode with Derek, it’s Jack who is there to pick up the pieces – and show Lily an entirely new set of experiences she didn’t know she was missing.

Of course, Jack has his own problems and once Lily gets to know him better, she starts to wonder if she can handle all of Jack. When Derek reappears on the scene, Lily is forced to decide between two guys and herself. Can she find herself without losing the people who matter in the process?

This is a work intended for readers 18+ as it features explicit sex between people in college. See where it began in the short story, “Her Brother’s Best Friend.”

He gathers his things and sits next to me on the bed. I am being a brat, but I’m angry and frustrated and I have no control over any of it. He pulls me toward his chest and runs his hands through my hair.

“I love you Lily. The first semester is tough. I missed you so much last year, you know, but then I came home for your birthday and the distraction got me through the rest of the semester. Let me be your distraction, okay? Call me if you need anything. If I am in class or whatever, I will call back as soon as I can.”


“I love you. You know that?”

“Yeah. I love you too,” I say, because it is true and, this miserable moment aside, I can’t deny that I do.

“Skype tonight, okay?”


“You wanna come with me to the car or-”

“It’ll be easier just to say bye now,” I say. And so we do. He is gone and I wait, foolishly thinking that maybe he will turn around, come back, and decide that he wants to stay longer. When he texts me an hour later, saying he made it back okay, I collapse onto my bed, crying. I have never felt so alone. In my mind, he’s in the middle of some drunken orgy with three girls right now, even though he is texting me and that makes no sense.

Inspiration: I wrote “Her Brother’s Best Friend” some time ago. It was just supposed to be a short story, but I loved the idea of finally getting to be with that guy you dreamed about for years and the story sold really well. I thought about where I wanted the story of Lily and Derek to go and started with a draft of something. It wasn’t working, though. Eventually I decided to make it a novella instead and it started to pick up. Once I got going and once I met the characters, I ended up with almost 55k words and it just all made sense. It’s not the story I thought it would be, but I like the one that it is.

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K.R. Haynes and her latest, The Fire in Her Eyes


Since the first night Officer Mick Huon met Mary J Sinclair down at the Convict Inn, fiery sparks of passion have flown between the two of them. After stealing one kiss from her, Mick decides it’s best if he keeps his distance from Mary J, mainly due to his steadily rising affection for her that was stirred up from one brief tender moment they shared. What Mick hadn’t counted on was for Mary J to seduce him. The woman has a fire within her that sets him ablaze with primal lust. To tame a stubborn redhead like Mary J, Mick will have to pull out all the stops if he’s planning on enticing her into his bed.

But when Mary J’s dark past collides with the present, it stirs up more trouble than they were both prepared for. Can Mick conquer Mary J’s past in time or will he end up losing her forever?

What Inspired you to write the book :

I have always wanted to write but wasn’t entirely sure what genre I wanted to write for. Then I happen to stumble upon Erotic Romance novels one day a few years back and became addicted to them. So a couple of years I sat down and began writing my own novels and haven’t looked back. The best thing I like about the Erotic Romance genre isn’t just the explosive sex scenes, it’s more the deep emotional connection you form with your characters whether your writing about them or reading about them, and that connection is what’s important to me. I want my readers to feel what the Hero and Heroine are feeling and laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. That’s what I aim for every time I put pen to paper and begin writing a new novel.

Story excerpt :

“Do you regret what happened between us that night in the chapel? Is that why you flaunted your date in front me the other night?” Mary J asked him quietly.

“Now wait just a damn minute there, sweetness, before you go accusing me of doing wrong by you. For one thing, I never intentionally flaunted my date in front of you and I’ve just apologised for it, so far as I’m concerned it’s history. Secondly, I don’t regret a damn thing when it comes to you or even when I’m with you.” Oh shit did he just say that out loud? A quick glance at Mary J and Mick knew he had. The shocked look on her face was clearly evident from hearing his untimely omission. He would be the first to admit that he had just screwed this whole evening up by having a slip-of-the-tongue moment. Fuck.

Scrubbing a hand roughly through his hair, Mick raised his gaze to hers and forced the words that he needed to say to her out of his damnable mouth. “I’m going about this all the wrong way. Look, Mary J, I just came here tonight to apologise to you for the way I acted the other night. That’s all.”

Disappointment flashed in her eyes for a moment and Mick wanted to kick his own ass for putting it there. He real did suck at apologising to her and his efforts at trying to woo her sucked even more. Christ, he was going to need to do some serious grovelling to fix the mistakes he had made with her so they could both move past this and move on to more pleasurable activities he had in mind for them.

But seeing Mary J cross her arms over her chest as she moved from behind her desk to stand in front of him only increased his need to see her submit to him. Christ, even his dick was getting onboard at seeing her little act of defiance. His cock was throbbing like a son of a bitch, all because it wanted out of his jeans so it could dive straight into her luscious heat.

Right then, Mick could hardly wait for the day when he could strip her naked and tie her spread eagle to his bed so he could give her so much damn pleasure she would be begging him for release time and time again. However, instead of acting on those erotic urges of his, he settled for something more romantic by tucking an errant curl behind her ear. Her eyes were simmering with heated lust when she gazed up at him through lowered lashes. Slowly and tenderly, Mick brushed the back of his knuckles down her cheek and smiled to himself at hearing her soft intake of breath.

Review : This review is for the first novel in the In Her Eyes series :
4 STAR * Review for The Light in Her Eyes. Reviewed by Francine Alli BTS eMag.
Summary : The Light in Her Eyes is sizzling hot read that is sure to heat your summer nights. A Dom in practice and in personality, Jon didn’t expect to meet his old flame in one of his patrol nights. Bringing feisty Chloe to submission and keeping her safe at the same time takes up a lot of the cop’s free time and brings an unexpected yet pleasing twist to his life. Unexpectedly touching, K.R. Haynes gifted her characters with abilities to feel deeply, in turn, bringing the readers with them. With a rare realistic ending, this book is sure to catch the fancy of suspense, erotica, and romance readers. ***Warning: Expect consensual BDSM, bondage, flogging, wax play, and spanking.***

Terpsichore in Love

Product Details


The nine traditional Greek Muses, who are now living on Earth, find their everyday lives disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious mortal who is developing powers beyond human capabilities. After Dan Gordon falls in love with Terpischore, he finds himself in the midst of a power struggle between the forces of Heaven and the denizens of Hades – with the winner claiming his heart and soul.


Terri rolled off Dan and covered herself with the cool white sheet. She groaned out her satisfaction, turned on her side, and faced the mortal who had accepted both her job and body – unlike any other in her travels. His unselfish lovemaking style reminded her of Sir Walter Raleigh; his attention to detail, Michelangelo; and the kinky thing he did in that certain position she liked, Frank Sinatra. She took in his gaze, the one she had grown to love; adoring, worshipful, and accompanied by a healthy amount of lust.

After Thorvald, I never thought I’d find another human who could make me fall in love with him so easily. She caressed his cheek, thrilling to his soft moan. I’d go to the seventh circle of Hell for you, Dan. I’d demote to an ordinary mortal if I could. Terri grinned when his finger swirled around her hardened nipple. It’d be easier to convince Father to make you an immortal…or try to turn Calliope into a sweetie again.

Dan chuckled when she closed her eyes. “What’cha thinking about, Twinkles?”

And he came up with an awesome term of affection for me. “Nothing,” she giggled. “Nothing at all, my love.”

Dan grunted softly. “Then why the big smile? Is it a Muse requirement to smile at nothingness, or is it…your thing?”

“I’m just happy.” She cuddled closer to him, exulting at the warm feel of his arm wrapping around her waist. “Why can’t a beautiful Muse bask in the warm afterglow of a pleasurable time with her mortal?”

She lifted her neck, innately knowing he would start to kiss it. He did. She moaned and dug her fingernails into his back. His lips brushed against her throat, biting her skin with a gentleness that curled her toes. The erotic sensations from their lovemaking, receding over the last several minutes, now washed through Terri’s essence once again. Dan’s mouth moved to the side of her head. There, he sucked on her earlobe before whispering softly enough to send chills down her arms.

( 1 ) I indulged in writing a scripted series a couple of years ago called Bemused — a nod to the 70’s show Bewitched – about a mortal man becoming involved with the Nine traditional Muses, God and Lucifer, and a bevy of beautiful Sirens. It sat on a flash drive after I completed 28 episodes until I had the idea to turn it into a series of novels.  Since most of my books were dark in nature, my fans clamored for something a little more happier. So, I compromised and introduced them to Terpsichore, Daniel Gordon, and the rest of the gang.

( 2 ) This book is a Romantic Drama with comedic elements. I really haven’t found ‘my’ genre. I have a psychological thriller called Divisive; a YA mystery called The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight; and an Adult/Contemporary book titled Romancing the Fox. I’m currently working on a viciously raw tale about a bounty hunter, and my first erotica novel too.

( 3 ) I have three reviews so far – 2 Five stars and one 2 Star. My favorite was by Nadia, who said she had a hard time believing I wrote it – due to the earlier discussed darker novels.  🙂

( 4 ) The three mentioned above — Divisive, The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight, and Romancing the Fox.

(5 )  My current WIP are the bounty hunter tale – Splits in the Skin, and the erotica project – Twelve Doors.

( 6 ) I have the sequel to Terpsichore in Love coming out by the end of the year. I’s called The Mark of Cain. I’m also pubbing the sequel to Divisive called The Fifth Game:Elizabeth’s Soul.

This is where you can find it!

My Decadent Demon by Alicia Dawn


Title: My Decadent Demon
Author Names: Alicia Dawn, and Nikita Jakz
Publisher Name (or self-published): Self-Published
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type of Fiction: Romance
Number of pages or word count: 46,241
Book 1 of 3 (book 2 due out in late Aug)

Seraphina Orielle, an angel of divine fire and light, was also an oracle of foresight. Considered adolescent among her peers, she had yet to master her gift of precognition when her first vision came to pass; a captivating male whose destiny was intimately intertwined with her own. Yet he was not of angelic design. In fact, he was very far from it. Tragically, by the time Sera discovered this pivotal detail, he had already attained ownership of her heart.

But not her ability to flee…

A hundred years later and Cole Asteroth does whatever the hell he wants. When he’s not busy, that is, with ‘dirty deeds, done dirt cheap’ for his master. Ornery and sarcastic, he gets his kicks wreaking havoc in the human realm. Oh, and making very un-angelic women beg for his touch. Life is good…

Until fate finally catches up with him.

A few weak moments, one too many innocent visitations and the two are entangled all over again. But not as they had been before; things are much more complicated now. And Cole no longer possesses much in the way of faith and forgiveness.
As the estranged lovers struggle with what path to take, they quickly discover that destiny, too, is a reluctant second chance provider. As outside resistance and decadent captivity ensues, can their situation get any more exasperating?

His eyes flickered beneath closed lids as a mist formed inside his dream. Before him, a disturbingly familiar, heavenly vision appeared; a female he hadn’t seen since he was a young demon. The female who had destroyed his world. He looked around and quickly realized he was in a place he hadn’t seen in eons, either. Not since before he’d gotten sucked into The Master’s servitude. He frowned, confused.

“Why am I here, Sera? Miss me so much you just had to come to me in Sleepy Land?” he smirked, hiding his true feelings beneath his shining personality. In truth, he was suddenly a riot of emotions, emotions he thought he’d buried deep a long time ago.

He froze as her small hand reached out to him. As she floated closer, he had absolutely no idea what to do.

“You know why you’re here, Cole,” she murmured tentatively.

“Can’t say that I do,” he countered, purposely playing dumb.

“Your words pain me. Do you truly not remember us?” Genuine sorrow belied her small pout.

“Oh, I remember lots of things, like there being no ‘us.’ There hasn’t been an ‘us’ for a hundred years.” He took a deep breath, careful not to show any emotion as she came ever closer. “So I ask again, why am I here? What do you want?”

Her big, ethereal eyes blinked at his harshness. “Why do you act this way? Are you not happy to see me again?” She took a step back, sad confusion dimming her gaze.

Cole shook his head. “I’m not the green, stupid youth I once was. I’m something your kind hates. So why now, after all this time, have you decided to come to me?” His voice grew darker as he pinned her with a glare. “Wait. Don’t tell me. You’ve fallen so now you can lower your standards. I wasn’t good enough for you, remember Sera? You left me, not the other way around.”

He turned with a growl and ran a hand through his hair. What the hell? His life was a cluster fuck from one extreme to the other. He looked back at Sera and his heart pinched at the sight. So clearly he remembered that week they spent together. Naive he had been, but not so jaded as he was now.

He started to pace, shaking his head in frustration. What was she doing back in his world again? He wasn’t going to let her permanently uproot a part of him he’d repressed so deep he’d in any other situation need a shovel to find again. After all he’d been through since she’d left him, and all he was presently going through, he really didn’t need this.

As he stopped in front of her, he got a whiff of her scent. Fresh and sweet, like morning dew. He nearly groaned, growing instantly hard. Abruptly he grabbed her shoulders, intentionally forcing her into her physical form. “Why, Sera? Why now?”

This book is also being featured here… 1 of 4 authors on this sight July 10th.

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Carlie Sexton and Fallen For You


If you believe your life is the sum total of your choices, what do you do when things just don’t add up? You are about to find out. It won’t be pretty. It won’t be dull. And surely, it won’t be safe. In fact, making just one wrong choice could put evil at your bedside watching you sleep.
And so it is with Kate Simmons, a young woman who, by choosing to regain her life, actually puts it at risk by the very choices she makes. After unimaginable heartbreak stops her world on a dime, Kate falls into a three-year blackness of self blame that brings her to the edge of life, itself. As time finally brings light back through tiny cracks of renewed desire, Kate moves out of the prison she made for herself in her mother’s home to find a new reality, rooming with her best girlfriend, Charlie.
Yet, to be free is to be vulnerable, and Kate’s choices more than ever mark a splattered line between being happy and being dead.
Care to choose? Here’s your menu: A strangely alluring building manager so possessed with wanting you for his own, he’ll bury more than the fact he has a girlfriend; a buff college student for whom you are clearly hot, as are all the other girls on campus; a pushy lawyer who is as handsome as he is intoxicated with conquest, who doesn’t take no for an answer, who gets what he wants — always.
Sometimes, it’s whom you choose. Sometimes, it’s who chooses you. If you’re Kate, it’s both, and it puts you on a perilous road where good looks and humor are the thin masks of jealous delusion and utter violence.
You’re in trouble when the sum total of your choices is written in blood red.


1. What inspired you to write this book?

I have written this book as fiction but some of it is based on events that happened in my life when I was in college.

2. Do you have a favorite part?

She took her dress off and folded it, placing it next to the sink. She looked at her thong underwear. What a mess! How am I going to resist this man? Did she want to resist him? He’s so sexy and he knows it. She put on the bikini. She had tried it on at the store while she was shopping with Natalie one day. Nat knew her size, so it was a perfect fit. She checked herself in the mirror from different angles. Well, it’s a bikini. It doesn’t cover much. She wrapped herself up in the cozy robe. It draped her body, concealing her for the moment. The night air had turned cool and she would need it when she got out of the Jacuzzi to keep warm. However, she had a feeling that Neil was going to do everything in his power to ensure her warmth sans the robe.
She got a hair tie out of her purse to put her hair up. She walked out onto the terrace. The sun was beginning to set and the ripples of the ocean glistened. Neil was sitting on the edge of the hot tub, his feet dangling in the bubbling water.
Kate couldn’t take her eyes off of his god-like physique. His body was so muscular and sexy. He must work out a lot to have those amazing abs. His shoulders were broad, his arms cut, and his pecs were firm. What a specimen of perfection. He was an Adonis. And he wanted her.
As she approached, he slipped into the tub. I Want to be Your Man was playing in the background. The music was sultry, the perfect song for the moment. He held his hand out to her, his gaze burning right through her. Okay, here goes nothing. Or everything. She loosened the tie on the robe and let it drop to the tiles beneath her feet. Neil’s face lit up, his desire showing through his expression. He let out a small groan. His eyes devoured her body like a lion devours its prey. As she entered the hot tub and moved toward him, his eyes stayed locked on hers. She wanted to look away because of his intensity, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t break free of his gaze. She knew in that second she would do anything he asked of her.
“I’m so glad the suit fits you,” he murmured in a sexy tone.
“Yeah, it just barely covers what it needs to. It doesn’t leave much to the imagination.”
“Who cares about imagination? I’m into reality and the reality is that you are a beautiful sight to behold,” he said, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her on top of him, her legs straddling his hips. She could feel his erection between her thighs. He was right there. This is so hot. He put his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her mouth to his. He consumed her, scouring every part of her mouth. His tongue was sweet like wine, caressing hers. She kissed him back with urgency. His hands roamed up and down her back. Then she realized that he was untying the strap of her bikini top. The two triangular pieces fell forward, revealing her breasts. He stopped kissing her and looked deep into her eyes.
“I know I said I would be a perfect gentleman. But the truth of the matter is you make me absolutely wild.” His breathing was heavy. “I want you so badly. I want to be your man,” he said, echoing the song. She felt the pulse between her legs heighten as she heard his words. She wanted him desperately too. All she could do was stare into his eyes as words failed her. He put his hands on each side of her breasts, pushing them together. He began licking one nipple, swirling around in circles, gently nipping and then licking again. Her nipple became erect. Then he moved to the other one, groaning the entire time. She arched her back, pushing her breasts toward him, letting her head fall back. Her hands held onto his shoulders. He was driving her wild between his sucking and licking. He pulled her head toward him. He looked into her eyes.
“You are so beautiful. I want to make love to you. Please let me,” he pleaded. “I want you so much. I just can’t wait.”
“I want to make love to you, too,” she said, her words barely audible.

3. What is this book’s genre and would you ever write in another genre?

The book’s genre is erotic romance thriller. I will most likely always write romantic fiction. It’s my favorite to read.

4. Do you have any reviews for it yet?

I have many reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s hard to narrow it down to one favorite, but I really liked this one:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Move Over Dexter!, June 6, 2013
This review is from: Fallen For You (The Killer Next Door) (Kindle Edition)
I was give this book as an ARC by Carlie. and if you are a fan of the show Dexter you are going to love this book.. I have a huge list of book that I love in the murder mystery folder, and this one is going to top of the list..

Kate is a beautiful girl who has just been going through life, she lost the what she thought was the love of her life in an accident and blamed herself for a long time, she shut her emotions off. she is finally back in control of her life, moved into a great apartment with her BFF, started back to school, and has a full time job.. she knows that she wants to love again, she misses every aspect of having relationship.

On her first day back to school she meets a guy that all the girls are drawn to handsome college co-ed that has no problem take a different girl home with him every night. Mark Baxter is someone that Kate wants to stay away from, but when Mark takes notices of Kate and want to be friends and possibly more she isn’t sure if she is ready for anyone of that.

one of the things with going back to school is signing up for a mentor from an alum but when her tour guide Neil is a no show and she is left talking to another tour guide Mac who happens to be a good friend of Neil’s and happens to take a picture and send it to Neil.

Neil Statton is a lawyer working at his father’s firm, when he can’t make it to be Kate’s tour guide and receives a text from Best Pal Mac he knows that he is going to have to meet Kate no matter what. But she isn’t going to make it easy for him.

Kate now meets Neil and feelings she never experienced before come around and she knows that they are meant to be together but others have other ideas about that.

This book keeps you wondering if there will ever be a happy ever after but more than that it makes you think about everything that has happened in the book and if Kate will make the right choice..

I can’t wait for more of this series and from Carlie Sexton!!!

I have to admit that I’m a Dexter addict, so the tag line really made my day!!

5. Do you have any other books out that you’d like to mention?

I will be releasing book 2 in my series Taken by You (The Killer Next Door, Part 2) on July 9th. The final book in the series Given to You (The Killer Next Door, Part 3). These are the first books that I have written. I do have ideas for many other stories and hope to transition from being a teacher to a writer.

6. Are you currently writing anything else?

I am in the final editing stages of book 3 and have started my 4th book. It is about two characters that meet in my series. It will be a stand-alone book. I’m considering the title Beholden to You.

Lynne Stringer and The Heir

Blurb: Sarah hates the prestigious high school she attends. Most of the other students ignore her. School is only made tolerable by the presence of Dan Bradfield, the boy she adores. Dan is the heir to his father’s multinational computer company, but he is dating Sarah’s best friend, Jillian. When tragedy strikes, Dan is the one who supports Sarah. But she can’t shake the feeling there is something strange about him. Is he protecting her from something? Is there something going on that she doesn’t know about? And did she really see a monster in the bushes?

Chapter 1

I hurried along the sidewalk, trying to forget about how the

overhanging trees, combined with the thick shrubbery, blocked

out the sun.

Lunch break had passed uneventfully and I had just finished my

Trigonometry class. Physics was next, and I was walking through

the prettiest part of the school grounds. It was fall in Connecticut

and nothing could compare with the rich colors in the leaves that

still hung on the trees around me.

Usually, I would have been happy to walk in this part of the

school, with all its beauty. It was also quiet, hidden away from

the hustle and bustle of a normal school day. But I never enjoyed

being here at this time of day.

Mr Barratt had held us late after Trigonometry. He’d been doing

it a few times a week ever since term had started. He was getting

old and often got lost in his own explanations.

It always meant the same thing. If I wanted to get to my Physics

class on time, I had to cut through the middle of the school

grounds, and I knew what that meant.

I was the only one who took this route. The Science block was the

furthest from my Trigonometry class if I went via the meandering

path that wound along the side of the school. None of the other Trig

students had Physics this hour, so no one else came this way.

I reached the top of the old stone staircase. The steps were uneven

and some parents and teachers complained they were unsafe. But

they had been laid by the founder of our school, so they stayed.

I walked down them as quietly as possible. The path at the

bottom of the stairs was closed in on both sides by dense shrubs. I

tried to look around them, to see where he was.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t Sarah Fenhardt,” came a sarcastic voice

from behind me and Frank Howell stepped out of his hiding place.

Frank was a Senior, just like me. He was in my English class.

Admittedly, that wasn’t so bad; even he had to behave himself in class.

He was only of average height and build, but that meant he still

towered over me. His hair was ash blond, his eyes ice blue. The

look in those eyes always made me shudder. He looked me up and

down as he sauntered forward.

“Hello, Frank.” Experience had taught me that I had to answer

when he spoke to me. I held my hands across my body, trying to

make it look like I was holding my book bag, rather than shielding

myself. I was sure he didn’t fall for it.

He came closer and looked down into my eyes. “You don’t like

talking to me.”

“I’m going to be late for class.” I wondered if it was time to run.

Suddenly, he reached out to grab my elbow. This was what I had

been waiting for. It meant he’d gotten tired of talking. I skipped

back a step.

An evil grin spread across his face and he crouched over, like a

runner at the starting blocks, his eyes never leaving my face.

I turned and bolted along the walk. I knew he had been about

to pounce again. I had always managed to struggle free of his grip,

but I shuddered to think of what would happen if I didn’t. He’d

even threatened to follow me home from school if I told anybody.

I didn’t know why Frank bothered with me. I wasn’t exactly a

noticeable student here at Enterprise Academy, especially when it

came to someone like him.

Enterprise Academy was one of the most prestigious schools in

the United States. Phillipe Jontae was its founder. This tiny man’s

passion for superior education had bordered on the obsessive, and

he had sought out the best minds in the country so he could tutor

them. Or, at least, so their parents could pay through the nose for

the privilege of learning from him.

It was a tradition that had been continued long after his death.

Only the wealthy or the well-connected were encouraged to send

their children to this school, and the wealthier and better connected

you were, the more the school and its inhabitants liked you.

There was no doubt that Frank belonged here. His father was

president of the largest insurance company on the east coast and

Enterprise Academy was one of his priority clients. He was also on

the school’s board, making sure his son, who was a boarder here,

was treated well. Frank always got good grades.

Virtually every student in this school was rich. I was one of the

few who didn’t qualify on that score; not anymore.

My heart was still racing when I finally got to Physics and ran

in the door. I took my seat, ignoring the looks from my classmates.

“Thank you so much for your attendance, Ms Fenhardt,” Mr

Clibbern commented.

Jillian shot me a glance as I sat down. “You’ve got to stop

being late.”

I didn’t even bother glaring at her. I was too busy trying to settle

my breathing.

Jillian Wilkins sat next to me in Physics. That was a fact that

seemed to surprise most of the school, because Jillian was my best

friend, and that wasn’t normal for someone in her position.

Jillian was gorgeous, with beautiful, golden hair in ringlets

down to her shoulders and dancing hazel eyes. Her father, who

lived with his wife in New York, was in the building industry,

specializing in high rises, and he had plenty of money. As Jillian was

their only child, she stood to inherit all of it. The richest students

rarely associated with those of us who weren’t so fortunate. She

was also a boarder. Most boarding students only spoke to others of

their kind. But then, she seemed to consider herself an exception

to every rule.

She was a little strange, though. She was the only girl I knew

who could switch from talking about the latest celebrity gossip

to science fiction in the same breath. How many girls liked scifi

anyway? And Jillian’s interest in it was so all consuming that

sometimes I wondered about her sanity. She was a fan of every scifi

show in existence and no one surpassed her knowledge about

what was hidden in Area 51.

She was always trying to get me to share her passion. We were

usually the first in line for the latest sci-fi movie. I had given up

complaining about it. After all, it got me out of the house and she

always paid, but lately I had grown tired of conversation about

outer space and the existence of aliens, trying to steer her back to

more earthly topics.

It had grown even worse this year, when the subject of Astronomy

was introduced in Physics. Jillian took exception to everything Mr

Clibbern said about the subject, even going so far as to argue with

him about the size of the Milky Way and the number of galaxies it

contained. While he admitted that our telescopes could only tell

us so much, he clearly resented her attitude.

Today Mr Clibbern was talking about a probe that NASA had

sent to Jupiter. It was expected to arrive there in a couple of years’

time. He talked animatedly about it for the full hour, while Jillian

did little more than roll her eyes.

At least she didn’t challenge him over it, but she started with

me as soon as we walked out of class. “Five years. It’s taking five

years for their little probe to reach Jupiter! Like that’s some kind

of achievement.”

“Come on.” I wondered why I was even bothering to have this

conversation with her. “We’ve got to start somewhere.”

“Five years is a huge time. Things can change just like that.” She

snapped her fingers. “The planet might not even be there by the

time it arrives.”

“What, it’s going to cease to exist?”

Her usual breezy manner disappeared. Then she pointed at the

sky. I looked up and her voice sounded in my ear. “All it takes is a

moment. See that?” Her finger traced a line across the sky.

I squinted. I couldn’t see anything.

“Close call,” she whispered.

“Shut up.” I hated it when she said things like that. Especially

since I knew she was probably just reciting dialogue from one of

her favorite shows.

“Do you want to go see a movie this weekend?” she said eagerly.

“There’s a new sci-fi movie out.”


“Come on. It’s about a planet whose king –”

“Not interested, Jillian.”

She wasn’t about to let up. I spotted a flier pasted to the wall of

the Science block and changed the subject. “Are you going to the

dance this Friday?”

“Sure.” She eyed me with interest. “Are you?”

“No.” I wished I’d found a safer topic to raise. Jillian was always

trying to get me to go to school events, especially dances. What was

the point? I knew none of the boys in our grade were interested in

me. The boys who didn’t have much money were already dating

someone and the ones who did have money wouldn’t dream of

asking someone like me.

Jillian was never one to take no for an answer. “Sarah, it’s the

first dance of the year.”

“So it is.”

“You said last year that you’d put in an appearance occasionally.”

“I think I can skip the first one and still meet my quota.”

“Shouldn’t you at least try to socialize?”

“By this time next year, I won’t ever see these people again,” I

reminded her, “so it won’t matter, will it?”

She gave me a steady look. “There will always be people around

who you don’t like and who don’t like you. You’ve got to learn to

get along with them. Consider it an investment in your future.”

“I’m not coming, Jillian.”

She frowned at me and I could see her preparing another


“Who are you going with?” I asked, trying to distract her.

“Dan’s asked me again.”

My breath caught in my throat.

“Lucky you.” I hoped she hadn’t noticed my pause. She looked

at me curiously, but our next classes were in opposite directions

and I knew she had to go.

“Yeah, I guess. It’s fun going with him, even if it’s just to see the

catty girls turn green!”

I grimaced, but she didn’t seem to notice.

“Gotta go,” she said, waving. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I managed to wave back, waiting until she had turned away

before I let the sadness overwhelm me.

Of course Dan was going with her. Who else would he go with?

It was to be expected.

Yes, it was to be expected, but it still hurt.

Then I pushed those thoughts from my mind, preparing myself

for enjoyment, for I was on my way to my Visual Arts class.

I had three periods after lunch this year, rather than the two

I’d had in my previous years at the school. It had been a joy to

discover that Visual Arts was my last class of the day. It always

gave me a much needed lift before I went home.

Enterprise Academy had nine different art courses available.

Art was one of the few subjects I enjoyed, so I was trying to do

as many of them as possible. I had completed all those related to

drawing – which had long been my favorite pastime – so last year

I had moved onto painting.

But that was not the sole reason for my eagerness to get to class.

The main cause for my joy rested on the shoulders of the man I

adored from afar: Daniel Bradfield.

Dan was the most admired student on campus. It wasn’t due to

his good looks, although he was certainly handsome. He was just

under six foot, not of heavy build, but just right. His short straight

hair was dark, as were his eyes – dark brown. They melted when

he smiled at you, as I had discovered firsthand.

His father was the head of a multi-national computer company

he had purchased the year before Dan had started at Enterprise.

As a result, Dan was always ahead of everyone else when it came to

the latest gadgets. This semester there had been much talk about

his cell phone, a brand new prototype with all the latest gadgets.

The school nerds had tried to swipe it from him so they could test

it themselves, but he never let it out of his sight.

Like Jillian, he was an only child and his father had made no

secret of the fact that Dan would succeed him one day. There was

no doubt that he was the heir to a fortune. He had everything a

girl in this school could ever want in a husband – the ability to give

them status, to place them above their peers.

I didn’t understand why status was so important. I didn’t want

to be liked because I had money or good looks or because of the

blood that ran in my veins. What did it say about

I knew if these things left Dan – if his father’s business failed

and he lost his fortune – he would be blacklisted, just like me. It

happened to all the kids with no money. Why would anyone want

that kind of adoration?

Fortunately, Dan didn’t seem to care for it himself. I never saw

him try to hint a teacher into giving him a good grade, and he

didn’t lord it over the other students like Frank Howell did. If his

fellow students engaged him in conversation, Dan seemed happy

enough to be involved, although there were times I thought he

would have been happier if they’d left him alone. He seemed to

like solitude, just like me.

There was one notable exception to this rule: Jillian.

Jillian was the envy of every girl in our year, because she was

the only girl Dan ever asked on a date. Every time he attended any

school event she was the one on his arm. It hurt me every time I

saw them together.

I knew it was probably jealousy, but I didn’t see what attracted

him to her. Sure, Jillian was a nice person, but they had nothing

in common. She was outgoing, extroverted, forward and bossy.

Dan was quieter, organized, an observer of people, thoughtful and


I had documented Dan’s every trait meticulously. It was

embarrassing to admit, but I’d been watching his every move for

the past two years. I wanted to see how much we had in common.

But I rarely even got up enough courage to say hello to him.

Dan shared three classes with me: French, History and Visual

Arts. I loved Visual Arts the best, because the room was circular,

with all the seats against the wall. Dan usually sat diagonally across

from me, so it was easy to watch him out of the corner of my eye,

although it was harder to focus on the teacher.

I did pay attention to the lesson as well. I love experimenting

with color. We were working with acrylic paints for the whole of

first term. It was a new medium for me, but I caught on quickly.

As I daubed at the canvas I peeked at Dan every chance I got,

watching as he leant over his own easel with intense concentration.

I wondered what subject he had chosen for his first painting. We

had drawn up our sketches last week, but although some had been

displayed to the rest of the class, his hadn’t been one of them.

I continued to apply my strokes, only half interested in my own

creation. It was a good thing I had picked this up quickly or my

work wouldn’t have had a hope of measuring up to Ms Mossdin’s


I glanced up again to see what Dan was doing. In that moment

our eyes met.

I hid behind my easel. Oh, no! He had caught me staring! It

had been a while since the last time that had happened. I tried to

return my attention to my painting while I waited for the color to

fade from my cheeks. I hated it when he caught me mid-stare.

After a few minutes I dared another peek. He had turned his

attention back to his work.

I sighed. I never wanted him to catch me staring, but I couldn’t

help but thrill at the thought he’d been looking my way.

“Ms Fenhardt, are you intending to make your bluebirds blue or

are you expecting us to use our imagination?” came Ms Mossdin’s

sarcastic voice from behind me.

My cheeks went crimson again, but with anger this time. Did

she have to single me out like that? I was hardly behind the others.

I was painting a pair of courting bluebirds, the male fluttering

in front of the female. I concentrated on getting the curve of his

neck just right as he bowed before her, wishing that my brush

could add his song. I did as much as I could to portray it on the

canvas, finally making enough progress to satisfy my teacher.

I left school in a brighter mood, my head filled with thoughts of

Dan and my painting. I tried to keep my mind there, rather than

think about what Frank had done. It made me feel so ashamed.

As I pulled my car into the garage and parked next to my dad’s

van, I noticed yet another dent in the panel on the side. My father

was not a great driver, and since he and his business partner had

started using a small van, his lack of skill had made itself even

more evident. “Geeks for Hire” was plastered across each side of

the van, and the words now had so many dents anyone would

think they were part of the design.

Geeks for Hire wasn’t my dad’s primary business, unless your

definition of primary business was the one that made the most

money. He and his business partner, Mark Layman, had only

started it up in the past few years to keep the wolf from the door,

or so my father said. He remained confident that he and Mark

could still make money from their primary business, although I

was more skeptical.

In the nineties my father and Mark had founded a computer

company that had made them both millionaires, but they hadn’t

known how to run such a gigantic enterprise. Poor business

decisions saw them lose money. It didn’t help when my mother

ran away with the accountant of a competing firm when I was five.

Dad blamed himself and compensated by making some insane

decisions intended to make money. They didn’t, and his fortune

had eventually dwindled down to almost nothing.

He didn’t talk much about that time. Most of what I knew I had

found out from Mark’s wife, Elena. She was also the one who had

told me about Mark and Dad’s current financial problems.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do, Sarah,” she’d said a

few months ago. “Anything Mark earns is eaten up so quickly,

especially since we’ve got four growing kids to feed. We won’t be

able to hang out much longer.”

Although I’d asked my dad about it, he continued to be upbeat.

“Yeah, there are some problems honey, but don’t you worry. We’ll

have it sorted out soon.”

At first, I wasn’t sure I believed him. My dad was a poor liar; it

always showed on his face. “Are you sure about that?”

“Yeah, absolutely. Mark and I have a project that’s bound

to generate some interest. We’re developing new networking

hardware that will enable data to be transferred wirelessly at fiber

optic speeds!”

“Is that good?”

“It’s cutting edge! Just a bit more work and we’ll be ready to find

a backer. They can help us develop it further.” He rubbed his hands

together with glee. “Once that’s done there’ll be no more money


But it wasn’t that easy. He and Mark had developed a bad

reputation in the industry because of their earlier failures. No

one trusted their work anymore, so a backer was hard to come by.

So far, Dad only had one interested party and he didn’t seem too

excited about them.

“Dad, I’m home!” I yelled as I walked through the kitchen. I

noticed he had already put the roast in the oven. My dad hadn’t

been much of a cook until he had discovered online tutorials. Now

he only let me in the kitchen if he was going to be home late.

“Up here!” he called. I knew where he would be.

One of the reasons the two of us had a three bedroom house

was so that my dad could use one as an office. He had transformed

the master bedroom into one, insisting work required more space

than he did. I smiled as I walked in, wondering if the previous

owners of this house had ever thought their beautiful pastel

colored bedroom with its silk curtains would look like this.

There were computer parts covering every conceivable space.

Keyboards, motherboards and internal compartments spilled out

all over the place. My father had never been a tidy man, although

there was apparently a system, even in this mess. I was careful not

to move anything. He was sure to notice.

Much to my surprise, Dad was not sitting at his computer.

Instead, he was standing near the back wall, waving some kind of

computer device over it. He paused every so often to examine its


“Hey, honey!” He looked up and smiled. “How was school


“It was okay.” It was good that I saw Dan at the end of every day.

It made this statement true.

I wasn’t sure he heard me. He was still looking at his device.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“There’s some kind of electromagnetic field interfering with

the signal going from here to the computer at Mark’s place. It’s

preventing us from ironing the bugs out of our system.” He ran the

device over another wall and frowned as he checked its readings.

“The Simmons just got a new flat screen,” I suggested, nodding

in the direction of our neighbors’ house. “Could that be it?”

“No.” But he waved the device, which was a black box about the

size of a cell phone, at the window just in case. “I’ve been noticing

it for a while.”

I looked over his computer stuff. “Are you sure you haven’t

wired something together wrong?”

He shot me a disgusted look. Of course; he’d never do that.

“So how was your day?” I asked.

He brightened up and returned to his computer. “I’ve just

emailed Mark. We’ve got another interested party.”

“Two, now?” I smiled. It didn’t make anything certain, but two

was better than one and heaps better than none.

He nodded. “That’s enough to get them bidding against each

other. We’ll get more that way.”

“You mean you don’t want to be a geek for hire forever?” I said,

putting my arm around his shoulders.

He swiveled in his chair to look at me, mock indignation on his

face. “Do I look like a geek to you?”

I glanced around his office. “Not a bit.”

Seeing my critical stare, he rose and tried to neaten things up.

“Well, it’s organized chaos, anyway.”

I sighed. My dad was generally so good-natured it was difficult

to nag him, even though I hated untidiness. At least he managed

to restrict the mess to one room of the house.

He sat down again and spun his chair back to face the computer,

plugging his little black box into it. “So you had a good day? No

new drawings or paintings or sculptures for me?”

“Don’t hold your breath for a sculpture, but I should have a

painting for you soon.”

His cell phone beeped at him. “Ah! Time to put in the potatoes!”

I grinned as he darted down to the kitchen. He’d programmed

every stage of the meal into his cell phone so that it would alert

him when it was time to do something.

“Dad?” I asked as I came back down the stairs and looked into

the kitchen. I tried to stifle my laugh when I saw that the chef ’s hat

was already on his head. At least he’d ditched the floral apron. “Do

you know where the needle and thread are?”

He gave me a blank stare. “Why?”

“Some of my quilt is coming unstitched. I want to fix it.”

His mouth pressed into a hard line and he turned away from

me. “You should get rid of that thing.”

I sighed. How could the quilt still be a touchy subject after all

these years? “Never mind. I’ll find it myself.”

“I’ll buy you a new one,” he shouted as I went back up the stairs.

“We can afford it!”

After I had found the sewing kit I retreated to my room. It

was tidier than my dad’s office. Everything had its place. I often

wondered if my mother had been as obsessive about order as I

was. I certainly didn’t get that trait from my dad. But I didn’t dare

ask Dad about it. He hated talking about her. He hadn’t mentioned

her for years.

I straightened the faded quilt on my bed and began to sew up

where the stitching had come undone, stroking my hand over its

colors. The quilt was a gigantic, multi-hued creation, comprising

every color of the rainbow. It was faded now, but there was no way

I was getting rid of it. It was the last present my mother had given

me before she had left, the day after my fifth birthday.

I didn’t have many memories of my mother. Most of the things I

remembered were connected with this quilt. She had let me decide on

the pattern, laughing when I had refused fairy princesses and cuddly

animals and insisted on nothing but vivid, swirling patterns of color.

I often wondered if she ever thought of me. Since the day she

had left neither of us had heard a word from her. I thought it was

probably guilt that kept her away. I hoped that was it. I hoped she

hadn’t forgotten about us, about me.

Sometimes I dreamed about her. I would be caught up in my

quilt, which would transform into a colorful stairway, and I would

walk in the clouds through rivers of color and find her there.

Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we just floated through the sky,

looking down on the land as it got further and further away.

When I had finished fixing the quilt I shook away my memories

and went over to my desk, taking my portfolio out of the drawer. It

contained the cream of all my work. The rest were in a box under

my bed. A few of them were recent works from Visual Arts. I did

love them, but it was others that I was searching for.

They were at the bottom of the folder. I picked them up and

gazed at my five favorites.

They all were of the same figure: one was a close up of his face,

one a study of his head and shoulders, and three others various

full-length poses. I sighed as I looked at them, wondering if it was

healthy to do this, or if I was a potential nut-case.

Nut-case or not, I couldn’t resist. I took my favorite selection of

colored pencils from their case and grabbed my sketchpad.

I drew the easel and then his head above it, as he looked intently

at the work he had been doing. I took care to get the deep brown of

his eyes just right, the color of his hair, the tone of his skin.

It wasn’t long before it was complete. I gazed at his serious face,

drawn in lines of concentration, and wondered what he had been


Yes, it was probably unhealthy, but I couldn’t help myself.

Thinking of him made me happy.

I added my latest drawing of Dan to my collection.

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