Behind the Portraits: Part 1

Portraits of a Faerie Queen is set to be released July 10th, so, before its release, I figured it might be nice to take some time and explored what shaped the book in its early stages as well as my journey as a writer.

These posts were originally featured on Truth About Books when it was still up and running and I held back on posting them here because I knew I would need content for my hiatus since the book would be coming out while I was gone. So, I hope you’ll enjoy a few glimpses behind the portraits and get pumped for this book coming out this July. 🙂

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I lived off a steady diet of cartoons growing up. Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Dream Works, Don Bluth, Studio Ghibli, and probably more I don’t remember. If it was animated, odds are I watched it or at least knew about it. I liked plenty of live-action stuff too—I watched Jumanji a million times, despite the nightmares, and Disney Channel Original Movies were my jam—but animation has always had a huge pull on me. Even as an adult, I’m willing to give a well-done animated movie a viewing, which is exactly how I stumbled upon the work of Mamoru Hosoda.

Despite having 21 awards and 7 nominations under his belt for his work, his name has only recently begun to circulate among Western audiences. While his debut film The Girl Who Leapt through Time was praised by critics, his second film, Summer Wars, was what really made people sit up and take note. His next film, Wolf Children, was a quieter piece, so it didn’t draw quiet as much attention, and I haven’t seen his most recent film, The Boy and the Beast, but I’m sure it’s awesome and worth the hype I saw about it when it came out.

I would have trouble finding things I don’t like about Hosoda’s work. A few scenes are awkward and the English dubbing of the dialogue can be cheesy, but that just comes with the medium. He takes full advantage of animation and everything it’s capable of, capturing the most spellbinding imagery as well as the most tranquil heart-felt scenes. His characters are fun and enjoyable and his stories bring new twists on familiar ideas. For example, the dangers and risks of cyber space have been sufficiently explored, but how often does it take three generations of a family to defeat them, like in Summer Wars? The idea of werewolves walking among us is nothing new, but Wolf Children is the first film I’ve seen where the focus is not on wolves, but on a single mother raising them.

By far the strongest element of Hosoda’s work and the one that most strongly influences my work is the way he weaves the human experience into the fantastic. No matter how outlandish things get (and they get pretty outlandish) you never forget that these stories are first and foremost about people. The Girl Who Leapt through Time is about a teenaged girl who can time travel, but it’s also about the universal human uneasiness with change and the desire for things to stay the same and feel in control. Like I mentioned before, Wolf Children is more so about the struggles of single motherhood than the existence of werewolves. In Summer Wars, an out of control A.I. threatens to bring society to its knees and it’s up to an enormous family to pull together in a time of grief to save everything they hold dear.

Most of that humanity comes out in the balance between struggle, hope, and joy, which I would love to be able to capture. The characters in all Hosoda’s films go through very real trials throughout their films, all of which are incredibly heart-wrenching. They have to say good-bye to life-long friends, loved ones pass away, they have to start over in new places and find where they belong in worlds that don’t seem to want them. The fantastic elements of his stories make the trials larger than life, which only serve to make their triumphs larger than life. The endings to all his films are perfect for their stories, even though they’re not ever completely happy. They’re mixed with joy at the fact that the protagonists are victorious, a bit of sadness at what was lost in the struggle, and hope that the future will continue to hold good things.

So far in my twenty-five years of life, a lot experiences have turned out like that, minus the crazy A.I.s, time travel, and werewolves, and that’s what I hope to always portray in my books: the human in the fantastic. The stillness in knowing you’re not alone in your experiences within the storm of whatever life may throw at you.

Everyone in Portraits of a Faerie Queen is going through storms. Of course, the novel focuses mostly on Jocelyn’s, but everyone she meets is in the midst of some sort of struggle and none of them are alone,

I hope that, even just for a few ours, readers can delve in to “Portraits” and feel a little less alone, no matter their personal storm. If that’s what happens, I’ll have succeeded as a writer, no matter what comes next.




But first, a little bit about the book:

In the midst of a summer storm, seventeen-year-old Jocelyn Lennox swerves to miss a strange creature in the road. The resulting accident leaves her mother in a coma with doctors skeptical about her recovery.  Desperate for answers, Jocelyn returns to the scene of the accident to discover that the creature was one of the good folk—a faerie. Not only that, but their queen is willing to listen to Jocelyn’s story and offer her help.

For a price, of course.

The two strike a deal: Jocelyn will paint the queen seven portraits and, in exchange, the queen will heal Jocelyn’s mother. Unfortunately, nothing in the Faerie Realm is ever that simple. The closer Jocelyn comes to finishing the paintings, the harder malicious magical forces try to ensnare her. If she isn’t careful or can’t complete the portraits by October 31st, the day of the Hallowed Offering, her mother’s life won’t be the only one in jeopardy.






NineStar Press did such a great job! I absolutely love it and I’m excited to share the story too. Stay tuned for more updates!

5 Lessons from a Year of Blogging

Placeholder ImageMy blogging adventures started about a year ago this month, shortly after moving to Colorado, USA from Miyagi Prefecture, Japan and has it ever been a trip. There have been good sprints of time when inspiration flowed, dry spells, horribly forced posts, and great connections made. Every time I get online with the intention of reading a blog post, writing a post, or learning how to blog better, I learn something new, but these five points have definitely have been the highlights.

1. Read, Research, Re-strategize

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of writers, bloggers, and internet gurus out there with ideas, tips and strategies to help you come up with ideas, schedules, and anything else you could possibly need to run a blog. It can be overwhelming, but browsing them is definitely worth it. If you find something that looks like it would work for you, don’t be afraid to try it! That’s what those sources are there for. The blogs you follow have a plethora of ideas and methods too. There are as many ways to make an idea your own as there are ideas themselves. Don’t be afraid to learn from others and try something different.

2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When I first started blogging, I would obsessively check my email for new followers and likes. It was exhausting. Eventually, I learned that I had to find new ways of getting the word out there (see point 1) and just do my best. Building a following takes time and every little step you take is worth it. What you learn from what you post is just as important as the people you’re trying to reach.

3. Write Till You Make it, But Don’t Fake it

There have been a few posts that were supposed to be series that ended up total duds. In hindsight, I know a big part of that was because my heart wasn’t in them. I was writing them because I thought they were what readers wanted. When I something crossed my mind and became a blog post, not only did I enjoy writing it, but people seemed to enjoy those more too. While building a following takes time (see point 2), writing pieces you actually enjoy makes the process far more enjoyable, even if it is slow going.

4. Network, Network, Network

First of all, I’ve learned that networking isn’t NEARLY as scary as we sometimes make it out to be. If you’re meeting people and talking to them about things you both love, it’s actually *gasp* pretty enjoyable. The first time I talked to Ashley Fae, I was terrified. Here was this experienced blogger with a fancy blog and plenty of content, and here was me, floundering around and trying to figure out what to do. Over the course of the year, Ashley and I exchanged manuscripts, bounced ideas off each other, and she even helped me get “Portraits” into NineStar Press. So, go out there and connect with people. You’ll never know where those connections will lead and we’re all in this together.

5. Not Every Post is Going to be Popular

And that’s totally okay. Like I said before, some of my posts got exactly 0 attention. While disappointing, I learned what works and what I actually like to write about (see point 3). I’ve come to feel like that’s just as important as the attention other posts get. Now I have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully I’ll continue to develop that sense in the coming year and have five more lessons next May.

Now I want to open the floor to you guys. What have you learned during your time blogging? And advice for people just starting out? If you could go back and start over, what would you do differently when you first started blogging? Leave a comment below and let’s chat! 🙂


Hey, everybody! Just want to give everyone a heads up. I’m going to be on hiatus for about 8 weeks for day-job related training. While I’m gone, my good friend Ashley will be posting scheduled articles, blog tour posts, and book updates. The same updates, as well as free short stories are available if you subscribe to my newsletter :).

Portraits of a Faerie Queen is still scheduled to come out July 10 and Ashley will be sure to keep everyone in the loop, so stay tuned! See you in 8 weeks!

Liberation by Kate L. Mary (A Book Review)

Plot: 4/5     World Building: 5/4     Characters: 4/5     Entertainment: 4/5     Writing: 4/5

LiberationScarlet and Asher thought they were finally on their way to a normal life since they had put the black market auctions behind them—well, as normal as life among pirates can be—but when one of their old crew members calls for help over the radio, they and the rest of their team are thrown into danger once again. With only a few clues to guide them, they must rescue their friend and get back to Columbus before things get worse and maybe, if they have time, Scarlet and Asher can finally figure out what they mean to each other.

Everything that was great about Moonchild is just as great in Liberation, if not more so since we get to explore more of the world. The universe is multidimensional and complex, the story is engaging and has plenty of twists and turns, and it has plenty of action, maturity, and lightheartedness in equal measure, making it as much of a rare gem in the foggy realm between YA and NA as its predecessor.

It still blows my mind that the steampunk-dysptopia idea works. The two are perfectly balanced, creating a world that feels as vintage as it does new and dangerous, standing out as something creative and original in both genres. Also, did I mention last time how much I want these girls’ outfits? Because I do. All of them. I love Kate L. Mary’s attention to what people wear in this world. It works to make the world all the more vivid while also giving glimpses of the characters’ personalities without them saying a word, which is always great.

Unfortunately, just like Moonchild, Scarlet is Liberation’s biggest problem. Between her rivalry with another female character and her rather unfounded belief that there’s something wrong with her due to her past, her inner turmoil quickly became more annoying than sympathetic. She runs with pirates. They ALL have rough pasts and some are quite a bit darker than hers, so I really never understood where she was coming from. I don’t want to give anything away because I do still think both books are worth reading, but her angst makes it hard to root for her and Asher as a couple, especially since Asher is such an interesting and well developed character. If the focus had been exclusively on her need for independence, I think she would have been a stronger, more sympathetic character, but as is, she falls flat.

Fortunately, the rest of the cast is great, just like last time. They’re all easy to cheer for, memorable—even the ones new to the scene—and feel worth worrying about, so it’s easy enough to focus on them instead of Scarlet. I read once that every supporting character should think the book is about them and Kate L. Mary pulls that off beautifully here.

So, if you’re a fan of steampunk, dystopia, both, or you’re just looking for something new and exciting, hop aboard a coal-powered airship for a while and check out both Moonchild and Liberation.

Camp NaNoWriMo: FINAL

Read Day 33

We did it! We’re done! Whoohoo! This stretch is going to a bit longer than the others since it’s the last. Thanks so much for spending Camp NaNoWriMo with me. It really means a lot. It’ll stay up for a while if you want to share it with anyone, but once I get the manuscript to my editor, it’ll be coming down. I’ll make sure to make a post when that happens.

Fret not, though! Come July 10th, you can read the Faerie Court Chronicles from the beginning in the “Portraits of a Faerie Chronicles.” Gia and Oliver won’t be making any appearances, but plenty of the faerie characters will, including Kole and Kellen. If that’s too long for you to wait, subscribe to my newsletter for a few short stores before the book comes out. 🙂

Lake 1Another silence settles in the room and makes me squirm. “You really scared me back there,” I mutter, studying a scenery painting to keep my mind busy. “If that fomorian had won…” I can’t bring myself to think about it much more than that. “And I know I was a rambling mess, but I meant every word I said. If you still want to wait until I figure things out, that’s fine. Just know that I know you’re a guy, but that doesn’t matter to me. You are who you are and you’re…” I choke on the words that seemed to flow so easily only hours ago. “You’re someone I love…very much.”

Just when I think Oliver’s silence is going to crush me, he takes me by the hand, turns me around, and kisses me, slow and gentle with his fingers tangling with mine.

“What makes you think I want to wait any more?” he whispers against my mouth. “I’ve been waiting for seven years.” He cringes at his own words. “Okay, that sounded a lot more romantic in my head. Let me try that again—”

“Wait, hold up.” I do the math in my head and it nearly knocks me over. “Are you saying you’ve had a crush on me since the fourth grade?”

“Ever since I watched you stand up to that bully for picking on Zoe.”

“We’ve had classes together for years. Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

Oliver’s face takes on a slight hint of crimson. “I might have been as intimidated by you as I was enamored when we were younger. And then, when you established that you like girls, I thought I’d lost my chance forever and tried to get over you, but…” He runs a hand through his hair. “Every time we were assigned to the same class, it all just came rushing back.” He smirks up at me. “That swimsuit you wore to that beach party most certainly didn’t help.”

I feel my own face get hot.

“Besides, even if I did tell you and you were into guys, would you have believed me?”

He has a point there. I wouldn’t have. Even a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have, but now…

I’m brave enough to fight monsters, I never leave my friends behind, I’m smart, and I’m talented. Safe to say I’m actually pretty likable.

Oliver draws me away from my thoughts. “And, if I’m being perfectly honest, I think I fit with you pretty well too.”

My heart skips a few beats. The only way to make it stop seems to be kissing Oliver again.

Not that he minds. Not until I try to pull him closer at least.

He wiggles away, but still holds tight to my hand. “We should head out before the others start worrying about us. Besides, it’s getting late.” As we walk down the hall, I notice the way he slouches with his shoulders forward, as if trying to make his chest smaller.

Right. No binder. But standing like that can’t be good for his injuries.

“You know, I’d say infiltrating a fomorian camp and almost dying to defend a group of humans makes you one hell of a faerie prince. Anyone who wants to argue against that can keep their opinions to themselves, if you catch my drift.”

Oliver stands a little taller and smirks at me. “You might be onto something there. When did you get so insightful?”

“I’ve had a lot of chances to practice lately.”

He opens his mouth to speak again, but shuts it again when his gaze lands on a corridor to our left. It’s darker than the others and a downhill slope. A chilly breeze waifs up from it, making me shiver. Without another word Oliver changes courses and leads me down the path.

The farther we go, the colder and damper the surrounding walls become. Warm soft wood gives way to damp dirt and stone, illuminated by torches. In the midst of their crackling comes a familiar voice. Oliver stops before rounding the next corner and leans back against the wall. I follow his lead, as morbidly curious about why we’re here as I am about why we’re here.

“I do try my best to be a merciful person,” Titania says, her voice cool and calculating. “Therefore, I’ll give you one more chance to answer my questions. Where are the rest of you? Why come for us and not the aos si? Why now?”

“You’ll get nothing from me, wench,” snarls a deep growly voice. It’s Gabar. “You’ll just loose everything the way we did when your ancestors darkened our island.”

“But you don’t have the numbers to do that alone, do you? You need the gateway to the Other World. You need to bring Balor back, don’t you? Why now? What’s changed?”

Gabar spits in response. It was the wrong answer.

“Go ahead and start,” Titania orders. It doesn’t sound like she’s talking to Gabar anymore.

Judging by the way Gabar shrieks in pain, she was talking to his torturer.

Oliver takes off back up the hall with me and tow. He doesn’t stop until we’re back in the warm light of the regular part of the keep, swearing and holding his abdomen. “Shit. Bad idea. Very bad idea. I’m sorry, Gia. You didn’t need to hear that.”

“Why’d we go down there, then?” I pant.

“Those are just the prisoner holding cells, so I thought for sure they’d only be questioning him. Proud of me or not, I can guarantee you my mother won’t give us as much information as we need to know what’s going on.”

“Why not just try and get along with Shaylee?” I suggest. “She doesn’t strike me as someone who has a lot of regard for the rules, including Titania’s.”

Oliver thinks it over as we continue on our way to meet the others. “That just might work, provided you doesn’t try to hit on you again.”

“Given that we’re actually a thing now, I don’t think she will.”

Oliver kisses me on the cheek, but doesn’t say any more on the subject. He doesn’t say much of anything until we meet Shaylee and the others outside the keep. The silence is tense and peaceful in equal parts. Like Shaylee said, this isn’t over. Not by a long shot, but for now, we can rest. For a while, life can go back to normal. Maybe a warped, strange new definition of normal, but at least none of us have to figure those parts of it out on our own.

That makes me excited for it.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 33

Read Day 32

We’re almost there! Only a day or two left and this book will be finished! I’m half tempted to just pump out the last chapter now, but I know I’ll rush and it’ll be terrible, so I’ll control myself. You’re welcome. 😛

Lake 2With our pant and jacket pockets full of rocks, we leave the cave in search of Oliver. Zoe organizes the efforts to get us more rocks. The tree line’s still empty of other fomorians, and the sound has died down, but there’s no sign of Oliver, so the end of the battle doesn’t hold much relief.

Just as the path comes into view, he tumbles down it, landing face first in the sand with his sword a few feet away. Bird Face leaps from the trees after him, sword high above his head. Oliver rolls out of the way just before the blade hits the ground. Once he’s on his feet, I can tell he’s had the worst of it. Blood streaks his face, his right eye is already turning black and his bottom lip is split and swollen. He stumbles back, winches, and wraps one arm around his ribs. His gaze lands on us and his face turns to horror.

Bird Face is apparently having too much fun to notice. “Give up now and I’ll make it fast,” he cackles. “I want to get it over with as much as you do.”

I take one of the bigger stones from my pocket and wind up. “Get over this, asshole!”

He turns to the sound of my voice and gets a face full of stand stone, stumbling back and cursing. “You little brats don’t know when to quit, do you?” He takes a swipe at us, but misses.

Oliver takes advantage of the distraction and tries to get at the leather cord holding Bird Face’s amulet, but can’t quite get to it fast enough before he blocks it. Miguel and I take that as a sign to throw more ammo.

Sure enough, the rocks don’t seem to be doing any harm, but they’re doing plenty to get on Bird Face’s nerves. It’s impossible for him to get a good shot at Oliver with his head being bombarded. After the third time Oliver dodges out of the way, he shrieks in rage and charges at us,probably hoping to cut us down fast and easy.

Unfortunately for him, Oliver’s faster.

As Bird Face chases after us, he passes a boulder buried in the sand, giving Oliver the perfect launch point to grab hold of the fomorian’s shoulders. The cord snaps in his hand, choking the monster, the crumbles on the ground. Oliver lands on his feet, but Bird Face whirls and knocks him into a near-by tree. I pray to God the crack I hear is the bark and not Oliver’s back.

Zoe rushes out with more rocks. Miguel takes a few. I run for the monster with the sword the brothers gave me. It won’t do much in my unskilled hands, but it doesn’t have to. It just has to do enough.

I plunge the blade into the monster’s massive calf and he howls in agony. His meaty brushes against my hair as he swipes, but that’s all he gets. He lifts his sword. I’m too close.

There’s a slippery wet sound and the monster screams again. I get out of the way just as he lands on his knees with Oliver’s sword jutting out from his side. Bird Face tries to get back up, but Oliver kicks him onto his back and brings his foot down hard on his chest. The monster just reaches his sword. Oliver draws a knife from his belt. The fomorian tries to swing. Oliver’s blade slices across his throat.

I turn from the bloody scene and hide my face in my hands. Maybe if I stay in the dark behind my eyes, I can forget what I just saw. The way his body jerked, the guttural sounds, everything. The silence of the night helps. It gives me a chance to breath. The cold air eases my shaking and the lapping of the tiny waves distracts me.

The sound of another body hitting the ground forces me back into the world.

Oliver kneels next to Bird Face’s body, one arm wrapped around his ribs again and the other wiping blood from his face. “All right there, Miguel? Zoe?”

Miguel holds Zoe in his harms, cradling her face against his chest to keep her from seeing the gory scene. She looks past him anyway and nods to Oliver, horror still etched on her face. Miguel doesn’t look much better.

His voice sounds sweeter than the music we make together. It means he’s alive.

Despite the blood and mud, I drop to my knees and hold him tight.


Don’t forget to stop by the home page and subscribe to the new newsletter! First one come out May 7th with a free, never before posted, ten page short story just for you!

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 32

Read Day 31

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! We’re almost there. By my calculations, there’s only three chapters left of this project. Hopefully I can get them to you in a more timely manner than the last few days.

Image from Here

The fomorians check on us and glare at the brothers’ antics, but don’t bother putting an end to it. They just turn their attention back into the dark forest. When have flower peddles and butterflies ever been a threat?

With the kids and adults alike distracted by the magic, the brothers and Oliver exchange devious looks, telling me it’s not flower peddles and butterflies that the fomorians should be worried about at all. Just like we under estimated their magic, they’ve turned right around and underestimated the faeries’. It might not be as strong or concentrated, but it’s more creative. It can build out of anything, even stones and sticks, creating wonder out of practically nothing.

Or creating weaponry when the time is right.

“We’re already dead, aren’t we?” stutters the middle aged man we talked to before. “We’re dead and we’re stuck in some weird part of the afterlife instead of Heaven or Hell.”

“Oh, we can assure you you’re alive,” Oliver says. “The world’s just a lot bigger and stranger than you originally thought.”

“I’d say it’s safe to say that, yeah,” mutters the twenty-something. She watches Kole and Kellen play with the kids, picking up sticks and slipping them in their pockets as they move around the campsite. Kole notices her staring and winks at her. She blushes and focuses on the kids instead.

“If we’re all alive, then morning’s going to come. What then?” demands the middle aged man. “What is playing games and doing party tricks going to do to save us all?”

“Plenty if you do them right,” says Kellen. He opens his mouth to speak again, but stops short.

The rise of a distant cry makes us all follow his lead. It comes upon us like a wave, growing until it reverberates off every tree and sends our fomorian guards on edge. The human captives huddle closer and hold tight to the kids.

Something tells me the queens heard our boats being attacked after all.

The fomorians grip their weapons tighter, still unaware of the threat from those they guard. They stand slightly spread out, guarding the entrance to the camp. As they do, the brothers slip their hands into their pockets and Oliver reaches down and picks one of the longer branches off the ground. He doesn’t even bother hiding the way he makes it morph and shift into a long sword. The damn ridges of the wood melt away, become cool translucent crystal just like all the other faerie weapons I’ve seen. With it in hand, he inches around the crowd of humans, gently shoving them forward out of blade’s range.

“Exhibit A,” Kole murmurs, drawing the first of what must be many small daggers hidden in his armor. “Those party tricks are about to be your chance to run.”

A distant crash gives them distraction they need. The fomorians face the sound and the brothers hurl their daggers at the back of their necks. The cord holding their charms breaks and slip from their necks. As the two realize what’s happened, Oliver brings his bland down on one of the stones surrounding the camp. He leaps over it. The seal’s been broken. Kole and Kellen shove us back towards the rest of the humans as the five fomorians move to attack.

I’m the last one through the breech and force myself from looking back. The brothers have their job to do and I have mine. They can handle it. They have to.

Oliver pushes me ahead of him so that he’s taking up the rear. “Get ahead of everyone with Miguel,” he orders. “Kole and Kellen will be fine.”

For now, all I can do is have faith in that.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 31

Read Day 30

I wasn’t playing. I’m seriously sticking with the Camp NaNoWriMo word count until this book is finished and in my editor’s hands. I’m sorry these have been coming so late. The days have been a bit wonky around here, so I’ve been having to write after work, which runs pretty late. I’ll try to put them back on a better schedule.

Sunset 1Oliver’s phone interrupts the conversation. He frowns down at the number, but answers it anyway. “Shaylee? How did you get–…Yeah…Yes…We’re on our way.” He hangs up and begins straightening up the kitchen. “We need to go. Things are moving faster than we thought.”

Kellen goes ridged and gathers the weapons. “How so, Ollie?”

“The fomorians sent us a message,” Oliver answers. “Shaylee wouldn’t say much more than that.”


With the house straightened, we head out to the abandoned farm house and the Faerie Court. While the shift between the Faerie Realm and the Human Realm is still obvious, it doesn’t hit me as hard. Miguel doesn’t seem as disoriented either. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing and, frankly, we don’t have the time to figure it out.

Titania and the others are gathered in the usual meeting room, muttering and whispering in hushed tones until we arrive. Then, the room falls silent.

“You all remember my brother, Oliver,” Shaylee says, pausing in her pace at the head of the table. “Our mother has put him in charge of rescuing the humans so none of you have to worry about it.”

All the other faeries turn to the queen, mostly in outrage.

“It’s the perfect chance for him to prove himself as a Prince of Faerie,” Titania explains. “And, as we’ve already discussed, we already have our hands full with the fomorians.”

“We already have two queens and neither of you are anywhere close to being in poor health,” balks the old faerie who protested us last night. “Why bring another of your children out of hiding, Titania?”

Titania massages her temple as if she’s already tired of this conversation. “Because we have fomorians on our doorstep, Fargus. I’m not about to pass up any resource we can get our hands on.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Oliver flinch at the word ‘resource,’ but he stays silent.>

“Besides,” Shaylee chimes in, “we need someone who knows humans as well as he does if we want to get them out alive. You know how easily they startle.”

Fargus grumbles in agreement.

Titania turns to Oliver. “So, what do you have for us Oliver.”

He pales slightly, then marches to the front of the room with his head high and the map of Olinis Island like a separator in his hand that he commands. Without a single stutter or uncertainty, he explains our plan to the others. They follow along, stroking their beards and nodding ever so often with furrowed bushy brows and serious expressions.

Oliver looks to us as he finishes. “Of course, none of this would work without the help of my brilliant team.”

Everyone looks to us as if this is the first time they’ve realized we’re here.

“Two young humans and a pair of pixies?” Fargus huffs. “Quite the team.”

“They’ve gotten on and off the island before,” Titania argues, “which is why we have any idea of what’s going on at all.”

“Which is why you’re going back as soon as the sun goes down,” Shaylee says, standing beside her mother.

“We haven’t perfected the distraction charms yet,” Oliver reminds her.

“Well, get them perfected, because they need you.” Shaylee gingerly pulls a worn strip of leather from a satchel at her hip and hands it to Oliver. His face goes from pale to pure white as he looks it over. With wide, terrified eyes, he passes it to Kole and Kellen, whose expressions darken. Over their shoulder I see the message crudely carved into the leather and stained with blood. As I realize it could very well be human, all the air seems to leave the room.

“Bring us the amulet by morning,” it reads, “or more blood will flow.”

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day Thirty

Yes, technically it’s May 1st, but I started on April 30th, so it counts. 😛 As you know, I’m still not quitting. Not until this book is completely done. Even if I have to write at 2:30 A.M. like I am right now.

Sunrise 1I had almost forgotten about the scrapes from falling down the path. “I don’t think those count as battle wounds,” I chuckle. Still, the warmth of the magic flowing from Oliver’s hands to mine eases my frayed nerves and makes me think I might be able to sleep. The memory of him shooting down his sister’s attempt at flirting with me makes me laugh.

“Fighting ancient evils and watching faerie royals argue over me wasn’t how I saw this semester going,” I sigh.

“I apologize for my sister,” Oliver mutters. “She has some nerve.”

“It’s okay. I’m not worth fighting over.”

Oliver’s gaze shoots up from our joined hands to my eyes. “Of course you are.” He sighs and looks around the car for a moment. “You baffle me. You believe you can help a team of faeries free your people, despite the very real odds, yet you can’t see yourself worthy of love and admiration, despite what others might say.”

“I’d hardly call Zoe and a bunch of Grand Harbor residents ‘my people.’”

“That’s not the point, Gia.”

“And ‘love’ is a pretty strong word, don’t you think?”

Just by the car headlights I can make out the way Oliver turns red as he drops his gaze back to our hands. “I meant love for yourself. That’s all.”

The flow of magic fades, but Oliver still holds my hands and I can’t bring myself to let him go. He’s the only solid thing in a world that feels like it just might fall apart. When I look to him to ask what we should do, his lips find mine before I can form the words.

He pulls back before I can react and slaps one hand against his forehead. “Gods! I’m sorry, Gia. I swore I wouldn’t make a single move until you indicated you’d made up your mind, but the second adrenaline hits me, I—”

I shut him up with another kiss. Tension melts from his muscles as I hold his face in my hands and his mouth molds to mind, calm and still. It’s so different from last time, like we just need a second to rest against one another to catch our breath.

When I break away this time, I only go far enough to touch my forehead to his. Now that I have him so close, I don’t him to leave. Not until the hungry shadows of night leave. “Worst. Timing. Ever.”

Oliver laughs. “I’m sure the extreme stress and exhaustion have to something to do with it.”

“Don’t go then. Park your car down the street and stay.”

My words have a mind of their own tonight.

Oliver leans away with his eyebrows pulled together. “Are you sure?”

“Not really, but I’m tired of needing to be sure right now. Just stay. At least for a little while.”

Like I would really have to beg a teenage boy to stay.

My parents and Ethan are still fast asleep and stay that way while Oliver and I sneak upstairs. Once I find him an over sized pair of sweats to sleep in, I go change in the bathroom. All the while, I try to tell myself the hammering in my chest is from the risk of being caught, not from convincing Oliver to stay. I was never even brave enough to try and get my ex-girlfriend to stay the night, let alone a guy I’m supposed to only be friends with.

I sneak a sleeping bag out of the hallway closet, but once I’m in my room I see it’s not getting any use. Oliver’s already made himself comfortable on the far side of my bed, under the covers and everything.

He props his head up with one hand. “If you honestly thought I was sleeping on the floor, I’ve clearly misled you into thinking I’m a proper gentleman. My apologies.”

I sigh and dump the sleeping bag on the floor. “I thought you wanted to be a gentleman.”

“A gentleman, yes. A proper one, no.”

I snuggle into bed as close to the edge as I can manage comfortably and do my best to keep my eyes off Oliver. I don’t trust myself to look up at him in such a close space, even if he is in giant sweats. I don’t need to heap any more confusion on my plate right now. “All right, not-proper gentleman, go to sleep. We have to be up in a few hours.”

Oliver smirks and finally lays down, letting red curls fall in his face. I know I won’t be able to resit brushing them away, and given what that led to last time, I squeeze my eyes shut. That doesn’t bring sleep, though. Sleep doesn’t come until I feel Oliver’s hand brush against mine and I take it. Even as I teeter on the edge of my dreams, I can still feel his fingers perfectly intertwined with mine.

Thank you so much for sticking with me the entire month of April. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m excited to see what this story turns into. I hope you’ll stick around until the end. 🙂

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