Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Release Day: Wrecked


When your past catches up, it's time to stop running.

Jake Mathews messed up yet again— but this time his misstep lands him in the hospital. He wakes up to find the girl of his dreams and the memory of having his deepest secret revealed.

Emily Taylor needs a break. She's been working double shifts as a nurse just to pay the bills while trying to heal a broken heart. The last thing she needs is to fall for a patient.

Strapped with community service and the knowledge that he's disappointed everyone in his life, Jake is determined not to let Emily slip through his fingers. Emily wants Jake, but can she really open herself up to heartache again?

Get it here:

About the author: 
Alyssa Rose Ivy is a Young Adult and New Adult author who loves to weave stories with romance and a southern setting. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. After years as a perpetual student, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Check her out:


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Book Blast: Have No Shame by Melissa Foster


The racially-charged prejudice of the deep South forces eighteen-year-old Alison Tillman to confront societal norms—and her own beliefs—when she discovers the body of a hate crime victim, and the specter of forbidden love turns her safe, comfortable world upside down.
Alison has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother’s Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.
When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.
HAVE NO SHAME is an emotionally compelling coming of age novel featuring a young woman who cannot reconcile the life she wants with the one she’s been brought up to live.Have No Shame will resonate with anyone who has ever fallen in love, and those who have been forced to choose between what they know in their hearts to be true, and what others would like them to believe.

Get it here;

Praise for Have No Shame

“A gripping and poignant novel dealing with a subject once taboo in American society.” Hagerstown Magazine
“Have No Shame is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening.” Midwest Book Review
“A historical novel of love and its triumph, told with a unique and compelling voice.” Bestselling Author Kathleen Shoop
“Have No Shame is a delightful eye opener and a rather poignant book that everyone everywhere should put on their must-read list.” Readers’ Favorite
“A dynamic and heartwarming tale of young love, giving testament to those who struggled so we can live in an integrated society.” Author Rachelle Ayala
“…a stunningly impactful read.” Rabid Reader Reviews
“A book that brings the evilness of racial bigotry to light, through the eyes of one awakening to its reality.” Cindy Smith, avid reader
“[HAVE NO SHAME] Perfectly catches the South at the dawning of the Civil Rights Movement. Melissa Foster takes us on an adventure that twists and turns unpredictably to a tense climax that renders this novel a true page-turner. This is undoubtedly the best novel I have read in a long time.”  Roderick Craig Low, Author of ‘Promises of Love and Good Behaviour’
“This book is not just a story; it’s an experience.” Author G.E. Johnson

About the author: 
Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on The Women’s Nest, Fostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Check her out:


1 Winner will receive a gift bag full of goodies, including:
- Signed copy of CHASING AMANDA
- Signed copy of COME BACK TO ME
- Signed Copy of MEGAN’S WAY
- 1 Pink Journal
Shipping in US Only, No PO Boxes. Must be 13+ To Enter

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Cover Reveal: Shudder by Samantha Durante

Shudder (Stitch Trilogy, Book 2) by Samantha Durante
Add Stitch to Goodreads

It's only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa's life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she'd counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she'd thought she'd tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she's discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering "stitch" unlocked something in Alessa's mind, and now she can't shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers - and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world's sorry history - will soon leave Alessa reeling...

The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante's shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.

Expected Release Date: June 15th, 2013

Check out book 1: Stitch

Buy Stitch on Amazon or Borrow Free from Kindle Owners' Lending Library!

About the author:  
Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. The Stitch Trilogy is her debut series.

Check her out:

Facebook: Stitch Trilogy


Enter the Giveaway HERE!!!


 In honor of the second book in this series dropping out the clouds YESTERDAY, I am giving away one copy of  The Selection by Kiera Cass!
The Selection (The Selection, #1) 
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined

All you have to do is follow my blog in some way (over in the right hand column)
 and leave a comment on this post below! Let me know how you followed and that's it! One winner will get a copy of the book, the contest ending on April 30th! Good Luck and check out all the other AMAZING blogs involved to win even MORE stuff!!

New Releases

Week of April 30, 2013

The Ward
Release Date: April 30th
Goodreads Page
Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.

However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre

Get it here:

The Program (The Program, #1)
Release Date: April 30th
Goodreads Page
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Get it here:

Oath Bound (Unbound, #3)
Release Date: April 30th
Goodreads Page
The Tower Syndicate will fall...

The secret daughter of the head of an infamous Skilled crime family, Sera Brandt has hidden her past, her potential and especially her powers. But when a tragedy strikes her other family, Sera needs justice. And the only way to get it is to reveal her heritage–including a rare Skill–and take the reins of the Tower Syndicate from her cunning and malicious aunt.

If he can figure out how...

Kristopher Daniels might have the answer. He's fought the syndicate to protect his sisters, but he'd never realized just how close to the new heir he needed to get....

And if they can survive

Neither is used to trusting. But there's something between them that can't be ignored. And so Sera is on the run with a man she can't figure out, a target on her back and the new knowledge of just how powerful she really is...

Get it here:


Monday, April 29, 2013

April's Task for the Never Too Old For Y.A. Books Yearly Challenge

I had a heck of a time getting these picks......but here it goes!!

The books in the pictures are:


YA Dystopian

YA Paranormal Romance

Historical Romance

Paranormal Romance

NA Contemporary

P.S. if you're on Goodreads and NOT in this group you should check it out, they are loads of fun!!!

Never Too Old For Y.A. Books
Never Too Old For Y.A. Books 5075 members This group is for Young and New Adult readers. For those who believe in Angels, Vampires, Werewol...

Books we've read

The Goddess Test The Goddess Test
by Aimee Carter
Start date: July 2, 2011

View this group on Goodreads »

Blog Tour: Dark Persuasion by Vicki Hopkins

Charlotte Gray couldn't believe that anyone in high society would care to introduce her to potential suitors. After all, a cruel accident left her blind at the age of eight. However, Lady and Lord Rochester, her aristocratic neighbors, have taken a peculiar interest in her welfare and offer to hold a debutante ball in her honor.

Inexperienced in the ways of men and vulnerable to a fault, Charlotte begins to traverse the unfamiliar world of courtship. To her surprise, two brothers become rivals for her affections. One she favors because of his gregarious and flattering ways. The other she spurns due to his unappealing demeanor and desperate attempt to win her heart.

Pressured by her family and brokenhearted over the risqué conduct of her first choice, Charlotte is persuaded to accept Patrick Rochester's proposal of marriage instead. Her surrender introduces her into the world of passion at the artful hands of a mysterious man. When the dark and alluring husband finally conquers her heart, a shocking secret about his true identity unfolds. As a result, Charlotte learns that love can be blind for everyone-even her.

Get it here:

About the author: 
Vicki started her writing career somewhat late in life, but can attest to the fact that it is never too late to follow your dreams. Her debut novel was released in 2009, and four books later and another on the way, she doesn't think she will stop any time soon. Her usual genre is historical fiction/historical romance. However, she recently crossed the lines into contemporary romance under the pen name of J.D. Burrows, releasing "Conflicting Hearts."  She's been honored as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: Romance category of The 2012 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News for "Dark Persuasion."

With Russian blood on her father's side and English on her mother's, she blames her ancestors for the lethal combination in her genes that influence her stories. Tragedy and drama might be found between her pages, but she eventually gives her readers a happy ending.

She lives in the beautiful, but rainy, Pacific Northwest with a pesky cat who refuses to let her sleep in. Her hobbies include researching her English ancestry, traveling to England when she can afford it, and plotting her next book.

Check her out:

Book Blast: Alexander Drake by Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows

Alexander Drake new coverAlexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit

Meet Alexander Drake, a curious young man living in a drab, oversized mansion with his secretive father. He spent his days playing alone. In the back of his mind he wondered what happened to his mother, and why his father was tight-lipped about the past; but secrets have a way of getting out. It all started with a stay at his grandmother’s cottage. Alexander found strange clues tucked away in his father’s old bedroom. With a mysterious key and several maps in his pack he set off on an innocent search for answers about his family. When he discovered a secret passageway the search took a dramatic turn. He suddenly worried about what was searching for him. Alexander was being hunted by a sorcerer from his father’s past. Answers lead to more questions and the journey of his life. Join Alexander for a thrilling adventure in Azra’s Pith, a place of beauty and magic… but beware—something evil lurks in the shadows.  



General drake new coverThe Return of General Drake

When Alexander arrived in Verhonia, something went terribly wrong. A dark spell delivered from the mountains of Acadia sent him on a dangerous journey in the middle of the night. As he marched into the mountains, the great city of Verhonia was ambushed and burned to the ground by Roman's army of vicious giant murks. With the safety of the realm in jeopardy, General John William Drake was asked to come back to Azra's Pith. He swore he would never return. But after discovering his son was under a spell and in the grips of a dark sorcerer, he had no choice. Things take a wild turn in the mountains, with runaways, a hungry wolf and a mysterious, young empyrean wizard thrown into the adventure. A tight race against time and evil is in full swing. With faith and a little magic, they just might come out on top.  


  alexander tour

Tour Schedule


lizzieAuthor Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows

Being the frizzy-haired tomboy with buck teeth gave me a slight case of shyness as a kid. A colorful imagination meant escape and adventure at the drop of a hat. Over the years I learned that the insecurities I carried around were a waste of time. I still prefer a football game to a manicure any day of the week. That indispensable imagination has found its way into my writing providing a sense of joy and a true purpose.  

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Book Blast Giveaway

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Blog Tour: In a Heartbeat by Teaddora Kostova


“I’ve been in and out of hospitals for the past ten months. I’ve had half my liver removed and even though this time the doctors are very optimistic that they’ve removed all of the tumours, they can’t be sure. In another three months they want me here again for a check up. Right now I feel better than I’ve ever felt. I know the damn thing is gone, at least for the moment. Despite that, I can’t make any plans for the future, not yet. I need to go somewhere where nobody knows me, where I can relax and maybe even forget about all this. Where I can meet people who don’t think of me as the girl who lost her father and her brother in a car accident, and who has cancer. I want to have fun, even if it’s for a couple of months.”

When Stella decides to visit her estranged cousin Lisa in Genoa, she has no idea Italy will give her a new reason to live.


“Her gaze locked on a scene so beautiful, the picturesque beach paled in comparison. A lifeguard emerged from the water, his orange trunks stuck to his legs and water dripping all over him. He shook his head to get rid of some of the water in his hair and Stella felt as if everything started developing in slow motion – tiny drops of water slid from his neck down his broad chest and muscular arms, along a weaving tattoo on his right shoulder, and continued downwards towards his chest and washboard stomach, finally getting lost in the waistband of his trunks. A part of another tattoo peeked over his trunks on his left hip, the other part hidden under them. It was a total Baywatch moment.”

Their love is epic. But there are too many things keeping them apart.

“How could you keep this from me, Lisa? If you had told me the first day I met him, I would have avoided him like the plague. Nothing would have happened between us.”
“I kept your secrets, too, Stella.”

Are Max and Stella strong enough to fight not only for their love, but for their lives?

Get it here:

When I agreed to review this book as part of this blog tour, I can say I really had no idea what I was getting into. I should have known better when I read the synopsis, but regardless I never thought I'd get swept off my feet by Max and Stella. From first to last page I was gripped not only by Stella's story but what the two of them could be like together. I gasped, I cried, I threw something at my computer, and ultimately I fell in love with these two.

We meet Stella after finishing a 10 moth stint of cancer treatments and just wanting to get away from everything, including the death of her father and brother in a car accident, she takes a vacation to Italy and tries to forget about all the "what ifs" left back at home. There she meets, Max, a gorgeous and drool worthy man who seems to have a heart of gold, and a will of iron for keeping up his wooing of Stella. He is so steadfast in breaking down her seemingly inpenatrable wall for keeping people out that he seems like the perfect boyfriend. He isn't of course, because nobody is perfect, but after secrets are revealed and feelings are FINALLY admitted, you root for these two to just give it up and be one.

Let me just say that I can completely understand where Stella was coming from. I myself am going through treatment for throat cancer and have felt a lot of things that she describes in this story. I can relate to the feelings of wanting to escape, or not holding on to hope when you could be let down. I can't imagine how someones goes through cancer AND having to deal with deaths of people that close to you, however when I was first diagnosed I didn't want to tell anyone what was going on, in fact I still don't. That feeling I get when someone finds out what I'm going through, sometimes makes me sick. It's not that I don't appreciate people sympathizing but that look or those words can sometimes feel horrible. I don't want people to think I'm sickly, or talk about "that poor girl" when I'm not around. I know it isn't coming from a hurtful place, but that doesn't make me feel better about it. I can connect with Stella simply because I am there right now, but I think anyone can relate to her in some way shape or form. I also think everyone out there needs a person like Max to pick you up and make you realize you don't have to be alone through anything.

I really loved this book from the characters to their stories to the setting. I felt like I was right in the heart of Italy traversing the beaches to the shops and standing right next to the characters. That is not an easy thing to do and this author does it WONDERFULLY. I really hope you all pick up a copy because you will captivated by everything about this story and your left having all sorts of feeling left in your heart. - My Opinion- BUY!!

About the author:
Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband Ted and my son Jason. I've been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I've tried bores me to death and I have to do what I've always wanted to do, but never had to guts to fully embrace. I've been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among other things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It's the only time that I'm truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time - my son has a bigger attention span than me.
When I'm procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Wii game by a five year old.

Check her out:
Series Blog

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blog Tour: Stages of Grace by Carey Heywood

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance...

When facing death a mourning period is to be expected. But what if it's
not a person but a relationship that dies? Grace and her boyfriend Jon have
been together for three years. They live together and have shared many
beautiful memories. Those memories are what keep Grace from admitting Jon
has changed and is no longer the man she fell in love with.

Afraid of being alone and holding on to something that no longer exists
Grace is a shadow of her former self. Her daily objective is to hide her
pain from the world. Then, an unexpected letter sets off a whirlwind of
potential life changes. In life sometimes the hardest thing to do is let go.

 Stages of Grace
Get it here:
I go to my room to get the sunscreen and take off my shirt. Once back in the kitchen I ask Ryan if he will help me get my back. He gives me a cheeky grin, motioning with his finger for me to turn around. Ryan starts with my shoulders, almost massaging them as he moves to the back of my neck. I have to control myself from dipping my head back onto him as his long fingers work the lotion in. Ryan squeezes more lotion into his hands before rubbing my arms. My eyes are closed as his hands are on me, but when I open them he is standing right in front of me, holding out the bottle.
I blush when he says, "You should probably do your front and legs."

Yes, that is a good idea, I think, taking the bottle from him to finish up before putting my shirt back on. Per his recommendation, I am wearing simple sneakers.

"Should I bring anything?"

"Nope. I've got it covered."

Kate tells us to have fun, winking at me, and asks if we will be home by dinner. Ryan says he wouldn’t dream of eating anywhere else, which makes Kate happy. As we walk up to his Wrangler, I grin when I see two kayaks on his roof. I have always wanted to try this.

"So where are you taking me?"

"Someplace wet," Ryan laughs.

"Silly Kiwi."

"Hey, well done!"

"I thought you were crazy when you said it," I admit.

We’ve been in the car sometime before I groan "I forgot my sunglasses."

"Not a problem" Ryan says, reaching to the floor board behind me and producing a worn looking baseball cap and hands it to me.

I flip the visor mirror open and put it on, pulling my pony tail through the opening in the back. The hat is huge on me.

"Is it okay if I adjust it?" Jon had gotten angry at me once when I had done that to one of his hats without asking first.

Ryan gives me a strange look and nods.

The hat has a strap you can use to tighten it with on the back. I make it as small as I can. It is still a bit big on me but will work. Once I have my hair pulled through, I turn to Ryan and smile. He laughs, pushing the bill down so I can’t see him anymore.

"Hey!" As much as I protest, I have to admit I am drawn to Ryan. Why does that make me feel so guilty?
About the author:

Carey Heywood lives in Richmond Va with her husband, three children and nine pound attack Yorkie. Unabashedly silly, she spends her free time bonding with candy loving strangers on Twitter. Right now she is probably eating Swedish fish.

About the author:  

Carey Heywood lives in Richmond Va with her husband, three children and nine pound attack Yorkie. Unabashedly silly, she spends her free time bonding with candy loving strangers on Twitter. Right now she is probably eating Swedish fish.

Check her out:


Friday, April 26, 2013

Blog Tour: January Black by Wendy S. Russo

Tour Schedule
January Black Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma. More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple. What was January Black? It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.  
Praise Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun! I lost a few hours as I read this book. It's a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out. ~Christine Ashworth, Amazon Review The mystery was intriguing - I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that's pretty hard to make me do. ~Julie, Clean Teen Reads Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece. ~Ivan Amberlake, Author    

Book Trailer

“Iris,” [Matty] called out to her.
She shifted her attention from the statue to him and began making her way through the library. As she arrived in the almost empty corner, she followed the steel cable of Hadrian’s swing with her eyes to where it was bolted to the ceiling and admired the canopy of a maple tree that was painted above their heads.

“I love that,” she said softly, before turning to him with confusion. “Why is there a swing in his library?”

“His mother missed the one she grew up with in Dartanyan, so he made one for her,” Matty told her. “Hop on.”

She gave him an awkward grin and took a step away. “Will it hold me?”

“The cable will hold a metric t—” The look she gave him was one frequently made by his mother when she wanted him to spare her whatever technical details he was spewing. “It’s incredible.”

Iris exhaled heavily, still staring at the swing with apprehension, but climbed onto the disk that hung from the ceiling and positioned the layers of her skirt around the cable. “Better than the books?” she asked, crossing her legs modestly at the ankle.

“Yes,” he admitted. “Swing.”

She kicked her foot on the ground to set the swing into motion. “It’s been a few years since I was on a swing.”

Matty pushed her shoulder as she swung close to him, setting her into a spin. She screamed out in surprise and giggled like a little girl. He recalled her story from earlier that night. Removed from school at age ten, apprenticed to a Widow Black Guild master gardener at twelve, working full-time at sixteen, and all the while, she was caring for her paranoid father. He felt sad at the thought of her having to grow up so fast.
As she continued to enjoy the swing in silence, Matty tapped a command on the tablet, and lights began shining on the walls and the bookshelves that surrounded the swing. “Look down.”

Iris tilted her head over her shoulder. The movement altered her spin, slowing it slightly. She gasped in delight at the illusion of a shimmering pool of water below her.

“Drag your foot.”

She did and laughed as her foot created a disturbance across the surface. She kicked her foot up, and the illusion responded by creating dozens of round ripples where “drops” had fallen.

Matty tapped the tablet, and this time, her foot left a mark through virtual sand. Iris dragged her foot a second time and a third. He changed a setting, and her foot cut through the long grasses of a glade. As he switched between dozens of scenes, she swung across daisies and wheat fields, over the tops of evergreen forests. She floated over clouds and stars.

Finally, Iris stopped the swing and looked down as she hovered thousands of feet over Aventine, gripping the steel cable tighter as if she felt she were really up that high. He tapped the tablet to call up the final theme, the one he really wanted to show her.

The high altitude view of Aventine bloomed into thousands of purple and yellow irises. She gaped in awe as the two-dimensional scene became a freestanding holograph growing out of the floor. He activated the setting for sound, and the room was filled with the babble of water. Another setting activated fans in wall vents, mimicking a cool breeze. He selected a third setting, and the fragrances of iris blooms, dirt, and country air blew past them. Her eyes widen more in amazement with every added detail.

Matty sat down on the floor and set the tablet down. Unlike the two-dimensional scenes, the holographic flowers didn’t respond correctly to movement or the presence of mass, the result of Hadrian walking away from the programming when his mother died.

“This is in the Ayame River valley, near my grandfather’s ranch in Dartanyan.” The rest really was Hadrian’s story to tell, Matty decided.

Iris twisted her foot on the ground to turn the swing. “This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he said softly, looking up at the glow on her face. “And I’m sorry about my father’s behavior at dinner. Mine as well.”

“I’m a Widow Black contractor, Matty. Dating his son. The commandant had to ask those questions.”
Matty didn’t think he could be so gracious in her place. “He shouldn’t have asked you at the dinner table.”
“Which is why he did,” she said.

He realized what she had said just before. “Wait. We’re dating?”

She asked nervously, “Aren’t we?”

He hoped the grin on his face wasn’t as grotesque as it felt. “I wasn’t sure.”

“Seriously, Matty! I’m the one who should be nervous.” He didn’t understand and looked at her sideways.

“You’re rich. You’re cute. You know about my crazy—”

“Cute?” he squawked.

“Oh my God!” she scoffed. She stopped the swing so she could give him her full attention. “No one is this insecure.”

“And you must be a blind actress,” he said. She restarted the swing. “It is quite convenient that I find a printed Braille book and a girl who can actually read Braille at the same time.”

“Except I can’t read it.”

“You know what I mean.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him as the swing twisted and said, “You may ask anyone who knows me. The only acting skill I have is to make myself invisible.”

“That’s quite a trick,” Matty said. “I’d like to see that.”

She lowered her arm to pass her hand through the holographic irises. “I mean that I can pass unnoticed when I want.”

“I don’t believe you,” he said, shaking his head. “I can’t imagine looking in your direction and seeing anything but you.”

Author Wendy S. Russo Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.  
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