Monday, March 31, 2014

Author Interview Arthur Mokin - Meribah

Today I'm very pleased to introduce Arthur Mokin, a gifted documentarian-filmmaker who over a three decade career produced documentary films eighteen of which won major industry awards. He's lately focused his talents to writing historical, literary fiction and is here today to tell us about his latest novel, Meribah.
The interview is timely as the subject of Meribah, The Exodus will be celebrated soon with the festival of Passover.

I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much I as enjoyed doing it and as a result will be as excited to read this novel as I am.


  • ISBN-13: 9781910162163
  • Publisher: Legend Press Ltd
  • Publication date: 1/21/2014
  • Pages: 340

Meribah, a love story set in ancient Egypt is told against the narrative of the Bible's Book of Exodus. A young Egyptian falls in love with a Hebrew slave woman, and follows her and her people as the Israelites flee Egypt and plunge into the desert wilderness. The Egyptian realizes that he must reconcile his own (pagan) beliefs with those of the woman he loves if their love.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kristan Higgins Waiting on You Blog Tour - Interview

Today I'm so pleased to present an author who romance fans would have to have been living under a rock not to know and to love. She's one of my all time favorite, have to have everything she writes author. Please welcome back to the blog Kristan Higgins.
Enjoy my stop on her new release Waiting on You Blog Tour.

  • ISBN-13: 9780373778584
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 464



Is your first love worth a second chance…?

Colleen O'Rourke is in love with love…just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell broke her heart…an experience Colleen doesn't want to have again, thanks. Since then, she's been happy with a fling

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Congratulations to the RITA Finalists!!!!


Here's the Finalists for the 2014 RITAs- The winners will be announced at the end of July
Congrats to the finalist!!!
May the best of the best win!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

**GIVEAWAY** Author Interview Lisa Verge Higgins - Random Acts of Kindness

Today I'm so happy to bring to you a great author and wonderful friend Lisa Verge Higgins, stick around while she tells a few secrets and enlightens us about her debut novel in her brand new series just released today!!
She's also generously offered one lucky reader US ONLY a copy of her new release Random Acts of Kindness, details below.

So sit back enjoy the interview, enter the giveaway and then head on over and sign up HERE to Lisa's FB release party which starts later today, she's got great guest authors and prizes too!!!

  • ISBN-13: 9781455572854
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Pages: 368

Lisa is offering 1 copy of Random Acts Of Kindness
to one reader US ONLY
use Rafflecopter form below to enter
Good Luck!
Thanks Lisa!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

**GIVEAWAY** A Hundred Summers paperback release Blog Tour

I'm so pleased to be first on the A Hundred Summers paperback release blog tour. I've included my original interview with Beatriz from when the novel came out, plus a link to my interview I did when she first came on the publishing scene with Overseas and my review courtesy RT Magazine of A Hundred Summers.
Also Beatriz's publisher Penguin Group is offering one paperback copy of this incredible historical literary masterpiece to one lucky US ONLY entrant.
See Below for details.
Enjoy the blog post

  • ISBN-13: 9780425270035
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Pages: 432

Penguin Group US is offering one lucky
US ONLY entrant
one newly released paperback edition of
A Hundred Summers
use the Rafflecopter form below
Good Luck!
Thanks Penguin!

Friday, March 21, 2014

April Line-Up

Oh Wow I'm so excited for April because I am so done with Mother Nature and her joke of last winter which will NOT go away :)

Any way here's my line - up for April and let's hope for April (rain) showers that will lead to those beautiful May flowers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Harlequin/Mills & Boon division is looking for writers. Maybe you?

24 HOURS in  M&B

1 chapter in 1 day!

Love medical drama and sizzling romances? Why not write your own Medical Romance!

Here at Harlequin, we’re looking for fresh, new voices and exciting stories! From March 24th, we’re offering a lightning fast assessment of your manuscript – get a response in just 24

Send us your first chapter and a synopsis between Monday 24th March and Thursday 24th April 2014 and the Medical Romance team will send you a response in 1 day!
(Sadly we don’t work weekends, so if you submit on Friday, you’ll receive an answer on Monday).

Medical Romance is all about drop-dead gorgeous heroes and feisty heroines! Set in the Medical world, where sensual tension and emotionally-charged conflict runs high, your medical professionals are placed under pressure to save the day – leading to life-changing

So if you love strong and sexy medical heroes and heroines (see guidelines for more details), send your first chapter and a synopsis to 24hoursinM& and we’ll get back
to you within 24 hours!

The Medical Romance team is looking for fresh, new, innovative voices, and at the end of the month, will choose their favourite 3 chapters to go through to a public vote and the chance to
win guaranteed mentoring with a Medical series editor*!

Want to know more details? Visit our website for more submission information:

Send us your Medical Romance – Sheila, Laurie and Charlotte can’t wait to triage your

*Mentorship will be through one submission for a period of up to 6 consecutive months.

Tweet the team: @SheilaHodgsonMR, @lauriecprescott, @Charlo_Murs

How Cool is this, Thanks Harlequin!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Author Interview-Ginger Jamison-Liberty

Today I'm so pleased to welcome(back) Ginger Jamison who has visited the blog as her alter ego Sugar Jamison and chatted with me about her Perfect Fit Series. She's here now as Ginger to talk about the debut novel Liberty, in her Harlequin Kimani Press Redemption series. This is a novel that is on my TBR pile and I can't wait to have me time to read it.

So take it away Ginger!

  • ISBN-13: 9780373091652
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Series: A Redemption Series , #1
  • Pages: 304


A man she thought she knew. A passion beyond her wildest fantasies…
When Ryan Beecher returns home after a long deployment overseas, Lexy barely recognizes her husband. The man who left Texas for Afghanistan was cruel and abusive. The man who comes back to her is a badly injured stranger with amnesia—and no memory of their life together.
Lexy can't believe how much Ryan has changed. The wounded marine is now gentle, caring and tender. And his touch awakens yearnings she's never felt before. As he takes them both to the point of no return, can Lexy trust this lover who seems to live only for her pleasure…as he seeks his salvation in her healing embrace?

 Read an Excerpt:

It almost awed him. Almost. And only because awe was not the proper way to describe what he was feeling. He knew something big was going to happen. Something huge. Something that was going to rock his world, that was going to change the course of his life. And that made him restless.
All week he had been on alert, the tiny hairs on the back of his neck standing at attention, almost as if they were on the lookout for the same unknown element. It was a part of his job to be on alert. Awareness seemed to be his constant companion for the past year.
He signed up for this.
And just maybe that deep, empty feeling came with the territory, along with the sand and the oppressive heat.
"What you thinkin' 'bout?" Terrell Ramon asked him as he switched his assault rifle from one shoulder to the other. Terrell was the youngest man in their squad. He had dark brown skin and big doe eyes that made him look like one of those Precious Moments figurines. He was a baby compared to most of them but he was there because he was smart, a whiz with his hands and all things technical. Terrell could dismember a computer in thirty seconds and put it back together in twenty-five.
"Looks like you thinkin' about a woman? Goo-wee!" The kid slapped his thigh. "I love thinkin' 'bout women," he drawled in his thick Mississippi accent. "My woman's waiting for me at home and she's bangin'-thick booty, pouty lips and the prettiest damn smile you've ever seen." He grew wistful. "She wants to get married. I think I might have to."
He smiled. Terrell couldn't have been more than twenty-two. "You don't sound too sure. Do you want to get married so young?" Normally they wouldn't be having this type of conversation while on duty, or at all, but they had been stuck on this detail for too long and he needed something to take his mind from the constant niggling feeling in the back of his mind. "What's she like?"
"Sandra?" Terrell grinned widely for a moment as if remembering something funny. His eyes softened, taking on a look not often seen in this place. "She's always on my ass, since we were babies. But she's good for me, you know? Don't take none of my bullshit. Funny as hell." He sobered a bit. "I guess I love her. Being here makes me realize that."
He nodded. This conversation had taken a more serious turn than he had intended, but he knew how the kid felt. It was hard being in a foreign country, thousands of miles from your homeland, your comforts, the people who made life bearable.
But they'd signed up for this. They fought this war even if they didn't understand the politics behind it.
"What about you, T-dog? You got a girl waiting for you?"
He shrugged. "I've got a girl but I don't know if she's still waiting."
"She's cheating?" Terrell raised a brow. "Fuck her. You're here busting your balls while she's banging some other dude. Forget about her. Women love a war hero. Once we get home you'll be swimming in panties."
He let out a rusty chuckle. "It's not like that, Terrell. She just wasn't happy with me when I left. I don't blame her. I wasn't the best man when I was with her."
Terrell nodded sympathetically as if he knew the complexities of an adult relationship. "What's her name?"
He shook his head remembering the beautiful woman he'd left behind. "Her name is-" Then it happened.
He heard it first-a blast, an explosion-that momentarily caused him to lose his precious hearing and then he felt it. Heat, blistering heat, that burned and twisted and melted his skin. And then he saw it in slow motion, like some scene from a movie, like he was some actor playing a role. But he wasn't. This wasn't a movie. This is what he had been waiting for. He was flying through the air for what seemed like hours but must have only been seconds. When he landed, the air rushed out of him. Everything went black. And when he opened his eyes again things weren't in the vivid color he was used to, but sepia-muted colors of tan and beige, of sand.
Reality came rushing back to him all too quickly. There was yelling behind him. No. Screaming. Screams of pain. Of terror. Of disorientation. Someone was yelling orders. Someone else was yelling names. There was all of this noise around him, deafening him. He looked around, sending a silent prayer of thanks that he was able to look around, and saw images that would reduce a normal man to tears.
His unit had been hit hard. It must have been a rocket attack. Only something powerful could reduce the men he had known as brothers to shreds. He could no longer tell who was who, the dust was too thick. The men were covered with sand, with blood. Their cries of pain were indistinguishable from one another. This was almost too much to bear, and even though he had seen a lot in his time in the service, the sight of his fallen men made him want to cry. "Tex!" somebody called.
Get up, he told himself. It's time for you to take action. You are a marine. You were trained for this. Your life was leading up to this moment. Attempting to stand, he put one leg in front of him but it didn't want to hold his weight. Sharp, breath-snatching pain shot up his leg and into his body. It was like somebody was grinding broken shards of sharp glass into his muscles. He couldn't walk, so he crawled on his hands and knees, scraping them, causing the skin on them to grow raw and red and bloody. There was a man down not far from him who he didn't know. No. That wasn't right. There were only sixteen of them. He had to know who the man was. But he couldn't tell.
The soldier was unrecognizable. Dirt. Blood. Open flesh. That was all he saw, along with the dark grit that decorated his face.
"I'm dying, man," the unrecognizable soldier told him. There was a slight twang to his voice. He knew him.
"Try not to," he said sincerely. "You owe me fifty bucks."
"It's my time, brother." He grinned, but the smile was mixed with blood, dirt and pain. "At least I can say I died for my country."
"Don't say corny shit like that right now. I'm going to help you."
"You can't help this-" He motioned to his torso, which was no longer covered with skin. "You look like shit, brother. Go help yourself."
"I'm fine," he said, even though his vision started to blur and his head began to throb with a pain that was almost indescribable.
"Do me a favor…" His voice started to fade. "Tell my wife-"
"Tell her yourself," he barked.
"Tell Lexy I'm sorry, and give these to my mother." The dying soldier began to hand over his dog tags. No. He shook his head. He didn't want to honor anybody's last wishes. But he would. He had to. He'd signed up for this.
And so he grasped the man's hand, the dog tags between them, and felt the life drain away. He felt his own life about to go with it. The spinning in his head grew out of control, his body began to seize and he slumped over in the sand as he succumbed to a world of foggy pain and darkness.
Chapter Two
"M rs. Beecher, he's right in here."
When Lexy Beecher learned her husband was in a rocket attack and survived…she sighed. That probably wasn't the usual response of the wife of a marine who hadn't seen her husband in almost two years. But then again she wasn't the usual wife.
When the officer phoned to tell her the news, she couldn't bring herself to cry or laugh or even breathe a sigh of relief. She didn't like her husband and while she hadn't wished him dead she never wanted to lay eyes on him again. Her husband was a horrible man. An awful man. "A piece of no good, low-down stinky shit," as her best friend and Ryan's cousin, Di, called him. It wasn't a harsh description.
It was truth.
"He was hurt very badly."
She nodded slowly, trying to take in all the information that was being thrown at her. The doctor thought she was in shock, but she wasn't in shock. She was numb. She didn't love him. She was going to leave him. The divorce papers sat in her nightstand just waiting for him to come home. She should have served them to him years ago but she wasn't able to. She had been stuck. Everybody, including Ryan, thought they had her pegged. They thought she was weak, that she lacked the backbone, the confidence to make it in the world without him. They were wrong.
Ryan's mother was the only one who got it right. She thought Lexy stayed for love. Lexy had stayed in a marriage to a man she felt nothing for because she did love somebody. However, that person was not her husband.
Her husband had gone out of his way to make it impossible to leave him, to keep her down, to keep her bonded to him. Hell, he had almost succeeded once, but she wouldn't ever be stuck again. It took her two years to rebuild, but she regained everything-including her self-respect.
"He wasn't stable enough to move until this week," the doctor continued, but Lexy barely heard him.
After he had left for Iraq, Lexy had taken steps to reclaim her life. She began to once again save every penny she could spare. She had researched different towns and the services they had to offer. She found a cute little place where she could live for cheap, and some jobs that would pay the bills. She wouldn't need anything from him. Nothing except what she prized most.
Her freedom.
And all he had to do was sign. All she had to do was get him to sign. That task would be difficult, almost Herculean, because the one thing her husband took pride in was his power over her. He wanted to keep her shackled to him like a dog and it wasn't out of love or friendship or simple companionship. He did it because he thought he could, because once upon a time she had been stupid enough to let it happen. To him she was his property, and when he was drunk she turned into his punching bag. How could she be so blind to not realize that he never loved her? She never loved him, either; for ten years they had existed on sick codependence.
Lexy had married Ryan when she was just seventeen years old-when she had been beautiful and naive and filled with hope. Ryan had been twenty-two, devastatingly handsome and deceptively sweet. He was everything an innocent girl thought she wanted in a husband.
"You may not recognize him," the doctor continued, pulling her out of her deep thoughts. "He has a lot of contusions, a broken leg, rib fractures, burns over twenty percent of his body and a broken nose. In addition to that he took a nasty blow to the head. He's been in and out of consciousness for over a month."
She took it all in. He had been through all of that and didn't even have the decency to die. "Has he said anything?"
"I'm sorry, Lexy."
She looked up at the handsome military doctor. "Why are you sorry, Doctor? He couldn't have said anything he hasn't said before."
"No, Mrs. Beecher-" The doctor shook his head. "He said, 'I'm sorry Lexy.' Those are the only words he has spoken since he's been here."
Lexy suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Of course Ryan would wait until he was half blown-up to repent for his years of bad behavior. But that was Ryan. He always had a knack for apologizing. She had spent the first half of their marriage forgiving him, too. But now she was too smart to ever believe those words again. She wasn't a teenager anymore and she was all out of forgiveness.
"I know this is a lot for you, Mrs. Beecher." Dr. Andreas placed his hand on her arm. "You need time to absorb it."
She nodded once, still numb to it all.
Lexy had met Ryan the year her grandmother, the woman who raised her, died. He promised her all the things she craved. A family. A support system. He promised to take care of her. She never had that. She had come into this world an orphan. Her mother was a free spirit who died in childbirth. Her father didn't bother to stick around. She had never known them. Not the way they looked or smelled or smiled. She didn't know where her slanted dark eyes came from or the kink of her unruly hair or even the color of her skin.
She was neither white nor black but some sort of indistinguishable brown that made her ethnic identity a mystery. Rumors swirled that she was Native American, some people told her that she was interracial-part black, part white and a bit Hispanic. She was her own version of the Small World ride.
Ryan didn't see it that way. He called her half-breed or mutt or whatever derogatory name rolled off his tongue.
"He was found lying unconscious next to another soldier. His dog tags were in his hand. It was a good thing they weren't lost. We would have had a hard time identifying him. His condition was more critical than the soldier found lying next to him and yet your husband was the one to survive. This was a miracle."
Ha! Lexy scoffed at the idea. God didn't save Ryan. The God she knew didn't save anyone-not her parents, not her grandmother and certainly not her. Why would he start with Ryan?
She thought about her grandmother, Maybell, who wasn't really her grandmother at all, just some woman who had loved and cared for her since she was an infant. The people of her small town rejoiced in telling her that Maybell had just showed up one day with a squirmy wild-haired baby. When asked where she had gotten the child, she'd replied with a succinct, "None of your damn business."
Lexy loved that cranky old woman dearly but she was as old as an oak tree when Lexy was a child and her love of deep-fried, gravy-covered, barbecue-smothered delicacies didn't help her diabetes or high cholesterol. She died when Lexy was sixteen, leaving her devastated and a little more than brokenhearted.
"You should prepare yourself, Mrs. Beecher. He's stable now but that can change at any moment."
"Please call me Lexy," she said, attending to the man. "Ryan won't die. He's not the type of man to let go."

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Midnight Witch Blog Tour-GIVEAWAY-Paula Brackston interview - Review!!

I'm so pleased to welcome you all to my stop on Paula Brackston's The Midnight Witch, Blog Tour. Regular visiters will remember Paula was my featured author for December when I hosted her last novel The Winter Witch as a month long book club read. Sit back enjoy our interview, my review and enter US ONLY to win a copy of the novel sponsored by Paula's publisher, St. Martin's Press.

  • ISBN-13: 9781250006080
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 352


Midnight is the most bewitching hour of them all…
From Paula Brackston, the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter andThe Winter Witch, comes a magical tale that is as dark as it is enchanting.  Set in high society Edwardian England, The Midnight Witch is the story of a young witch who faces the choice between love and loyalty to her coven…

St. Martin's Press is sponsoring this giveaway
One print copy of The Midnight Witch
To enter please us the Rafflecopter
form below
Thanks St Martin's Press
Good Luck!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Today through March 17th is the Ides of March Read-A-Thon hosted by Kimba The Caffeinated Book Reviewer See below for details.

Ides of March Read-a-thon

Visit Kimba's website - HERE 

for all the rules, contest deets!!!

I wish I could participate but I'm knee deep in reviews for upcoming releases.
Don't just sit there click the link :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Release My Sweetest Escape - Chelsea Cameron author interview

Today I'm highlighting Chelsea Cameron and her new release My Sweetest Escape.

  • ISBN-13: 9780373778539
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 1/28/2014
  • Pages: 368


The past will always find you
Jos Archer was the girl with the perfect life—until the night it all came crashing down around her. Now, nine months later, she still hasn't begun to pick up the pieces. Even transferring to a new college and living under the watchful eye of her older sister, Renee, isn't enough to help her feel normal again.
And then she meets Dusty Sharp. For reasons Jos can't begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. And if she's not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she's no longer sure she deserves.
  Read an Excerpt:

"I can't believe your parents are forcing you to leave. It should be, like, illegal. You're over eighteen. Why don't you just bail?" Kelly sat on top of one of the boxes of my almost-packed dorm room and snapped her gum. When we'd first met, the little habit had irritated me to no end, but I'd gotten used to it.
"I wish I could, but they're footing the bill for school, so right now I'm screwed," I said. Not to mention the fact that no one said no to my mother. No one.
"Why don't you drop out?" Oh, I'd considered that more than once. Actually, more than a thousand times. It was impossible to explain the complicated dynamic of my family to someone like Kelly, who had moved out of her parents' house and gotten her own place when she was still in high school.
"I don't know," I said, shrugging and taping up another box. Kelly flipped her dirty blond dreadlocked ponytail and cracked her gum again. She'd asked me if I needed help packing, but so far all she'd done was bother me.
"You'll come back and visit, right?" she asked.
"Yeah, sure," I told her with a little smile. We both knew it was unlikely that I'd ever get back here. I folded my University of New Hampshire blanket and shoved it into another box. My mom had bought it for me two summers ago as a going-away-to-college present.
I was one of only two of my siblings or steps who'd actually managed to graduate high school, let alone get accepted somewhere. Neither Mom nor Dad nor any of my stepparents had finished high school, so it was a big deal for any of us to make it that far. The only other one who had was Renee, and that was the reason they were shipping me back to Maine to live with her after…everything.
Kelly's phone buzzed and she typed a quick response to the text message and grinned at me.
"Mac wants to meet up for coffee." I always wished she'd put coffee in air quotes, because we both knew that it meant getting stoned and hooking up in the backseat of his rusty Pontiac. Kelly and her boyfriend were notorious; they'd even been caught by campus security in the middle of the day. It was a miracle they were still students at all. I think they were holding on by the thinnest of academic threads.
"Have fun." I knew she'd bail on me for Mac. She always did. Kelly wasn't much of a friend, but she was the only one I had. The others had ditched me months ago.
"Call me before you leave. I wanna say goodbye." She got up and gave me a loose hug. It was more of a lean involving arms that was over as quickly as it had begun.
"See you later," she said, slamming the door. Kelly could never leave a room quietly.
I stared at my deconstructed dorm room. My roommate was avoiding me, had been avoiding me since the beginning of this year. We'd had all of two conversations-one of those happened on the day we moved in, and the other happened when she found me passed out in front of the door one night after a crazy time with Kelly and Mac and a bunch of people I hadn't seen again. As if I'd remember them anyway.
I took Kelly's place on one of the boxes, pulling my knees up and resting my chin on them.
The fight I'd had with my mother when she'd told me that I was being forced to move back kept running through my mind. Actually, the entire Christmas break had been one long fight that didn't seem to end.
What is wrong with you, Joscelyn? You'd better straighten up and fly right. You are coming back to Maine, or else I am coming there and dragging your ass back, understand?
Straighten up and fly right. Yeah, I'd get right on that, Mom. She was one to talk. My parents had a half-dozen marriages between them and kids and stepkids all over the place. It was a full-time job just keeping track of them.
I'd screamed myself hoarse, but hadn't gotten anywhere. She'd even put a moratorium on hating Dad long enough to call him, fill him in and then get him to yell at me, too.
I was powerless against the two of them.
And then there was Renee.
If Mom didn't drag my ass back, Renee would be on that. She was worse than Mom in some ways. Speaking of my sister.
My phone rang, and when I saw who was calling, I debated about picking it up.
"Hey," I said, wincing in anticipation of the barrage I knew was coming.
"You better be getting your stuff together and be out the door," she said by way of a greeting.
"Nice to talk to you, too, dear sister."
"Don't give me that shit, Jos. I am so done with this. You'd better get your butt on the road in the next hour or-"
"I know, I know. You'll surgically remove my fingers and sew them to my ass. I know." Having a sister who knew surgical procedure and who was also mad at you really sucked sometimes.
"Hey, I don't need the attitude. You're lucky that you're coming to be here with me instead of Mom." She did have a point. Back at Mom's I'd just be drowning in a sea of my step and half siblings, among them a set of four-year-old twins who made the devil look like Mother Teresa.
"I know," I said. That seemed to be my phrase of choice lately.
"Just know that I'm going to be on your ass like white on rice, and if I'm not around someone else will do it for me. You're walking into a house full of people that are going to watch your every move and call you out on it. Understand?"
Jesus Christ.
"Okay. I'll be waiting for you. Call me the second you leave."
"I will. 'Bye."
I hung up before she could say anything else. I put my hands over my face and screamed into them. This was a nightmare I never seemed to wake up from.
Asleep or awake, it never left me.
But I was awake now, and I had to move, so I got off the box and picked it up. chapter 2
After nearly twelve trips and a lot of sweating and swearing, I got all my stuff into my car. Despite it being freezing outside, I peeled off my winter coat and just wore my ratty sweatshirt, my breath visible in the January air. People walked by and gave me looks, and I knew what they were thinking. Just another student who couldn't hack it and was being forced to leave and not come back after Christmas break. They didn't have any idea.
I went back up to the half-bare room and looked at it one more time.
Goodbye, freedom.
I didn't bother to leave my roommate a note and just shut the door behind me. It wasn't like she'd care anyway.
I texted Kelly that I was leaving, but she didn't respond. Big surprise. Other than Kelly, there wasn't really anyone else at UNH that I had left to say goodbye to. I hadn't heard from Matt since before the summer, when he'd broken up with me. The others, my little circle of friends, had long since lost touch with the crazy, reckless emo girl. I'd heard them talking about my transformation behind my back more than once.
Snow was just starting to float down from the sky when I got back downstairs to my car. I could barely see out the rearview mirror, but I was mostly driving on the highway anyway.
I plugged my iPod into my car speakers and hit Shuffle. It was going to be a long trip and I only had music for company. The sleeve on my sweatshirt rode up, exposing the bracelet I never took off. It was simple, just a chain with a little elephant charm on it. I kept it as a reminder. A constant reminder.
Shaking my head, I pulled away from the dorm and headed for the highway and the next chapter in my life. A fresh start was irrelevant when the dark things in your past were always following you.
It took me longer than I anticipated to get from New Hampshire to my sister's house in Bangor, Maine. Actually, it wasn't even her house. She'd moved in with this guy Hunter, who was buying the house because he was apparently loaded. Leave it to Renee to find a rich friend. She was also on again with her boyfriend, Paul, which was a good thing, in my opinion, because she was a pain in the ass when she wasn't with him. Even more so than she was when she was with him.
I hadn't seen the house before, so it was a bit of a shock when I parked in front of the house Renee had given me directions for.
"Damn," I said. It was huge. Way huger than Renee had let on. I'd pictured something a little run-down, and small, but this was bigger than any house I'd ever lived in, with Mom or Dad.
I grabbed my backpack and headed up the porch steps, glancing at the cars in the driveway as I passed them. It was easy to spot Renee's, so I knew I must have the right place.
There was even a freaking doorbell. My finger was an inch away from ringing it when the door flew open.
"There you are! I was worried you were lying in a ditch somewhere," Renee said, flinging herself at me. Startled by the hug, I sort of stood there and kind of hugged her back.
"I'm here."
Somehow, I'd gotten a recessive redhead gene in our family and ended up with carrot-red hair, freckles and green eyes. Renee had gotten the good genes, with her blue eyes and blond hair that didn't need much highlighting. Our features were similar, but our coloring was so different that people never thought we were sisters.
She finally stopped hugging me, but kept her hand clamped on my shoulder and steered me into the house, as if I was going to make a run for it. Where, I didn't know. Renee had mentioned something about Stephen King living down the street, but I wasn't sure if I'd be any safer at his house anyway.
"How was the driving?" Renee closed the door behind us and it clicked shut with finality.
"Fine," I said, glancing around the house. Damn. Again. I didn't know who had decorated, but they'd obviously used those crazy home-improvement magazines as inspiration.
One thing was for sure-it didn't look like a typical college crash pad. It was clean, first of all, and second, there seemed to be an actual scheme where things matched and went together. There were also a lot of peacock feathers, and similar peacock colors around. Renee had mentioned something about her roommate Taylor being obsessed with peacock stuff. I couldn't remember why. I sort of tuned out when Renee gushed about her amazing and awesome life, while mine had gone into a downward spiral that never seemed to hit bottom.
"Hey, Jos. How are you doing?" Paul came around the corner. He was cute in one of those white-bread nerd ways. Not my type. Not that I had a type…anymore.
"Good." It was a step up from fine. No one questioned you when you said you were good. Everyone thought there was something wrong with you if you said, "fine."
He gave me an awkward hug. I'd seen him at Christmas when he'd kept Mom and Renee from throttling each other with varying success. I'd tried to tell him it was no use, but he'd done it anyway.
"Where's everyone else?" I was actually looking forward to seeing Darah and meeting her new boyfriend. Darah was one of the sweetest people on the planet, and I knew if there was anyone who wouldn't judge me, it would be her.
"They wanted to give us some space. They'll be here later." Something about the way she said it made me suspicious.
"They're not going to make a big deal about it, are they?"
"No," Renee said, not looking at me, but glancing at Paul. Something was afoot.
"So, how about we get your stuff inside, shall we? Come on, Paul." Renee grabbed Paul's hand and yanked him out the door.
"Uh, okay." I was left standing in the foyer alone. I walked into the living room, which was gorgeously decorated, except for a mangy-looking recliner and the video games the guys had probably left scattered around. I saw the "Skyrim" box and smiled. Renee couldn't get enough of that game. It had consumed quite a bit of her time over Christmas break.
I flopped down onto the couch and stared up at the ceiling. Even that was clean.
A thud sounded a second later as Renee and Paul brought in some of my stuff.
"Since we only have three bedrooms, you, my dear sister, get to stay in the newly refurbished basement. You're lucky we decided to put in a guest room," Renee said, panting.
"Great," I said, although I wouldn't have minded staying on the plush leather couch. It was the largest couch I'd ever seen and took up most of the living room.
"Why don't you show her around and I'll get the rest of the stuff," Paul said. I got up from the couch and Renee led me down the stairs into the basement.
"Welcome to the man cave," Renee said, waving her arm. A man cave indeed. A bar, a pool table, yet another gigantic couch and a television large enough for a movie theater. There were also several sports team posters, including the Red Sox, the Patriots and the Celtics. Go teams.
Renee led me toward the back of the space where there was a small guest room with a bathroom right beside it. Thank God. I wouldn't have to share a bathroom. I'd done that in the dorms enough to last a lifetime.
"So this is it." The room was decorated in tan and black, which was boring, but nice.
I sat down on the large bed and looked around at my new home.
"Okay, we have some ground rules," Renee said, leaning against the dresser. Don't even bother to beat around the bush, sis. Go ahead and get right to the point.
"Number one," she said, holding up one finger. "You will inform me where you are and who you are with at all times. You will keep in touch via cell phone. You will also answer said phone when I call you, no matter what."
I clamped my mouth shut. I didn't want to provoke her in the middle of her speech that she'd clearly rehearsed, probably on Paul.
"Second-" she held up another finger "-there will be no partying. No drinking. No drugs. No substances of any kind other than aspirin. There will also be no passing out. Third, there will be a curfew which you will follow or suffer the consequences. Fourth, I may not be your mother, but you will treat me with respect, and that goes for the other people in this house. And fifth…" She didn't seem to be able to come up with number five.
"Fifth?" I said after a few seconds of silence.
"I had a fifth one, but I can't remember it right now," she snapped. "But that doesn't negate the other four. Do you agree to them?"
"Yeah," I said. What did it matter?
"You said yes way too easily. I don't believe you."
Jesus. I was being criticized for being too agreeable.