I'll be doing Black Friday deals!!!!
Not only will most (if not ALL) of my books be discounted that day (starting Thursday night at 11:59, ending 11:59 Friday night), but I'm also going to try another fun way you can get a good deal. Seeing as how my books aren't expensive anyway, here's a buy one get one offer! It's only eligible for people who purchase one of my books ON BLACK FRIDAY. Then, all you have to do, is send me a copy of the email confirmation OR let me know on my Goodreads.com account through a private message the EXACT purchase time and what the book was, and I'll send you a code to get ANY ONE OF MY BOOKS FOR FREE! You get to choose! So, for example, if you've always wanted to started the Underworld series, buy Unhinged, message me for proof, and then get Unleashed for FREE! Or if you've always wanted to check out something different, like Beguiling Trickery and Within a Dream, buy one, get the other free! :)
This deal will work through Smashwords.com, and for any of you interested in checking out those last two I just mentioned on Swoonreads.com's website, here's the link:
Here's one to by Goodreads page for Beguiling Trickery, if you're leaving me a message there you can follow it to my author page:
Remember, these deals are only in effect on Friday for books purchased on Friday!
As a side note, I'm also a MaryKay rep, so if you're interested in checking any of that stuff out go to:
Because this post talks about everything to come and nothing in the now, here's the second chapter to my NaNoWriMo submission this year (which I'm only a day a head of schedule for for once). Let me know what you guys think!
Also, don't forget to sign up for the MASSIVE GIVEAWAY which actually ends somewhat soon now! It's starting to wind down to the last month so get your entries in before you miss your chance!!!
The Grief Thief: Chapter 2:
Dinner was awkward.
Jean had gone so it was just the two of them, and her mother had made her favorite, mac and cheese. A huge glass pan of it sat in the middle of their rectangular dining room table, only about a third of it missing.
They’d been sitting for near forty-five minutes and only a handful of words had been spoken. Lux tried to come up with something to say, anything, but past thanking her for making dinner, she was blank. Even the gooey cheese and pasta couldn’t help. She ate slowly, forcing herself not to rush through the meal so she could return to her work outside.
She’d sprayed the charcoal drawing with fixative before coming in, but wanted to add another coat just to be safe. The piece was fairly large and she didn’t want to risk any smudges. She wasn’t entirely sure she could recreate it if it got ruined.
If all went well, tomorrow she’d start on the actual sculpture, working the face. She was estimating numbers, trying to figure out how long it would take her to finish, when her mom broke the silence, startling her.
“How’s Sophia?” Her mom kept her gaze downcast, finding intense interest in a particular macaroni.
“Fine,” Lux answered, swallowing her bite.
“I haven’t seen her,” she went on. “With school over, I figured she’d be around more.”
Junior year had ended four days ago, and usually the first week of summer was spent with Lux and her best friend hitting all of the beaches. They’d broken tradition this year, but not for the reasons her mom so clearly feared.
“She’s on a trip,” she explained. “She got into this summer program in Connecticut for marine biology.”
“Oh, how long will she be gone?”
“About three weeks.”
“So she’ll be back in time for you two to enjoy some of the summer at least.”
“Yeah.” Lux didn’t point out how that actually left them more than half the summer, or how she didn’t need her best friend in order to enjoy herself. She didn’t, however, because part of her had to admit that she was lonely and it had to be pretty obvious.
Her mom was only looking out for her. It wasn’t her fault any more than it was Lux’s that they’d never clicked like her and her dad had.
“What about you?” she asked then, forcing her voice to sound more upbeat. “Got any great plans with Jean?”
“Well,” she cleared her throat, “we were thinking about taking a trip to North Carolina.”
Lux paused with her fork halfway to her mouth. For a second the world blurred around her, the soft hum of the refrigerator in the other room taken over by the phantom squeal of tires on slick road. She gripped the metal utensil in her hand tightly enough that it bit into her, fortunately snapping her out of it.
“You and dad’s trip, you mean?” she couldn’t do anything about the wispy way she spoke this time. It was all she could do to hold herself together.
“Yes,” she agreed just as softly. “I already have the days off and the reservations were already made and everything. I figured I’d change the rooms, obviously, but it might be nice to follow through with it.”
Her parents had met in a small quiet town in North Carolina when they’d been twenty-five. According to the two of them, it’d been love at first sight, the gross sort of insta-love that more than two thirds of the population didn’t believe in. It’d been pure coincidence that they’d both been there, her having been passing through with friends on a road trip, him checking out an art gallery.
They’d ended up ditching their friends and staying the week. Afterwards, they’d discovered that they only lived a few hours away, him in New York and her in Rhode Island. He’d moved down less than a month later and that had been that.
Each summer they made the trip back to that same town, and stayed at the exact same hotel. They never missed it, not for as long as Lux could remember. Part of her felt a bit of betrayal in her father’s defense, but the other part understood. Her mom needed to cope in her own way, and it wasn’t fair for her daughter to judge her for it.
She told herself that, anyway, but it was hard to follow through with it.
She wanted to rant and rage and accuse her, biting her tongue until she tasted blood to keep herself from doing so. Still, her mom must have seen her expression because her face tightened up defensively and she straightened in her seat.
“I need this, Lux,” she stated firmly.
They sat in silence for another moment before she gathered enough strength to respond.
“When are you two leaving?”
“Not for another three weeks or so,” she replied. “Chances are Sophia will be back by then. You could always stay at her place like you did last year.”
Lux didn’t like staying home alone, despite loving being alone. It was an oddity her parents had always made fun of her for. She thought about it, but realized that the idea of staying with Sophia didn’t sound as appealing as it once had.
“I’ll be fine,” she shrugged. “I’ve got work to do anyway.”
“You’ll be finished with the sculpture by then, won’t you?” A tear formed in the corner of her mom’s left eye, a sign that all of this talk of her dad was really getting to her.
That was something Lux had gotten from her; her ability to cover up her emotions, to mask over what she was really feeling. As an artist, her father had been so open with his own, but she and her mother wore their skin like armor. It came in handy now, at a time like this, for the both of them.
For a second Lux felt closer to her mother than she had in three months, as if that tiny similarity could bridge the gap between them. Then her mom dropped her fork onto her plate and the harsh clatter jolted her out of the moment, effectively severing it.
“Yeah,” the legs of her chair scrapped against the hardwood floor as she stood after her mom, “I will. But I’ll be onto another project, no doubt.”
“No doubt,” she agreed, a slight smile touching her lips. “I’ve got this, honey. You go do what you want to.”
“Are you sure?”
“Just don’t stay out there too late, it’s still pretty chilly for this time of the year.”
Lux excused herself and left, grabbing her thin dark gray sweatshirt from the coat rack in front of the door as she went. Outside, the moon illuminated the sky, turning the clouds into swirls of glowing white. Stars dotted all around, and she paused on the front steps to stare up at them for a long moment.
She’d never been obsessed with the sky before, too consumed by her art and the tangible things around her she could sculpt, but now she found herself drawn to an aspect of the world she hadn’t been before. She could watch nothing but the sky for hours on end if her memories would let her.
Of course, if she let her mind wander for more than a few minutes, her recollections would assault her, so she was always forced to look away far too quickly for her liking.
Even now, as she turned away and continued towards her studio she regretted it.
She’d opened the garage door, so that her entire space was open to the chilled night air. She could see the yellow light spilling out onto the driveway from the path. She’d left her drawing propped up on an easel in the center of the room, close enough to the opening for the toxic fumes to be released. She’d spray it again then have to return inside for another few minutes to allow these ones to dissipate.
She was already planning out a sketch she’d do in her room while she waited when she turned the corner. And came to a halt beneath the raised door.
There’d only ever been four people in her studio before, including her parents and herself. Sophia had been given permission and often times lounged on the stool at the wooden table watching her work. But that had been it. Her family and her best friend.
Her brain struggled to register the intruder, as if it was too confusing a concept for her to even grasp.
He was tall, the top of his head reaching the top of her easel in fact. His hair was dark brown, slightly curly at the ends and hung just past his ears. His back was too her, and she got a good look at the corded muscles there, just beneath the stretched material of his black t-shirt. He was wearing skinny jeans in the same color, and bright green high top converse.
He was looking at her charcoal piece, staring at it really, and obviously hadn’t heard her approach.
Suddenly, the night around her seemed very cold, the darkness bleak. It was as if the world stretched around her, infinitely vast, terrifying, and her studio was a beacon, filled with warmth and purpose and hope.
Which was ridiculous, and a notion that only managed to piss her off.
“What are you doing?” her harsh tone cut across the expanse between them.
He spun on his heels, the rubber of his soles squeaking. A strand of hair fell over his left eye and he flicked his head to remove it. His expression was sheepish for only about a heartbeat before he switched tactics and was grinning at her.
His eyes reminded her of freshly brewed coffee, warm and inviting. She got the distinct impression he was trying to cover up his embarrassment at being caught.
“Hey,” his voice was smooth, “sorry. I saw you out here earlier and got curious.” He motioned across the street towards the large two story light blue house, as if she didn’t know where he came from.
The last time they’d spoken, she was six. A few kids had laughed at her for stumbling during a summersault and he’d come to her defense. She’d had a crush on him for months after that, but he’d quiet gymnastics shortly after, cutting any ties between them. Despite the fact they were neighbors, they both tended to spend their time doing their own thing, as opposed to hanging outside.
Being that he was also a year older than she was, they never had the same classes at school so…aside from that one moment, there’d never been any friendship between them. Which was what made his sudden appearance so strange.
“This is really good,” he stepped to the side, exposing her drawing at his back. When it became painfully clear she wasn’t going to respond he licked his lips and rocked on his heels. “I’ve seen some of your stuff around school. You’re really talented.”
“Thanks.” Somehow, the single word managed to break her out of it and she crossed her arms over her chest then, summoning more of that initial annoyance.
If he noticed the change he ignored it, instead turning back to her drawing. “So what was that you were doing?” He moved his hand in front of it, mimicking her earlier movements.
“Spraying it with fixative,” she answered, heaving out a sigh. Clearly he didn’t intend on going any time soon. Stepping up to the other side, she felt a renewed rush of pride at how well it’d turned out. “It’s to keep the charcoal from smudging.”
“That’s pretty cool,” he said, nodding his head. “Sorry, I don’t know anything about art. Guess I probably should have kept my curiosity to myself, huh?”
For some reason, she found herself wanting to ease his embarrassment.
“No, it’s fine,” she rolled her blue eyes towards the high beamed ceiling. “You just caught me off guard, that’s all. Sorry I was so rude.”
“Hey if someone invaded my space I’d probably react the same way,” he told her. “I mean it though, this is really good. I always see you out here. This is pretty intense.” He moved then, circling the studio, eyeing everything hanging on the walls and cluttering the shelves and workbenches.
She felt his interest as if it were directed at her personally, and she supposed, in a way it was. This was more than just her space, it was her. She put so much of herself into her art, and what’s more, there was so much of her father here as well.
“My dad did that one,” she found herself saying when he’d stopped in front of a two feet tall sculpture of a dog. “I asked him for a beagle one year after watching Shiloh and this was what he came up with.”
“Nice,” he chuckled. “All I got when I asked for a dog as a kid was a ‘yeah, right’ from my parents.” For a second it looked as if he wanted to say more, but then he was moving on, past the sculpture towards a mural painted on the fair right wall.
It took up half of it, and depicted the ocean filled with tons of different types of sea creatures. She’d done it when she’d first gotten the studio, and the paint was a little pale and chipping towards the edges of the walls.
Lux wrung her hands as she watched his eyes trail from the starfish in the corner up towards the beluga breaching the surface at the top. It’d taken her almost three hours to complete that one whale, and she’d been so proud of it afterwards.
“I’m thinking of redoing it,” she blurted.
She’d been thinking about it for a couple of months now, and hadn’t told anyone yet.
“Into what?” he asked, pulling his gaze away from the mural so he could look at her. There was no judgment there, and he didn’t say what she knew her mom’s response would be: don’t.
“I haven’t settled on an idea for certain yet,” she told him, “but I was thinking something to do with the sky. Maybe birds. Or the stars.”
“Either would be cool.” He turned back to the wall, as if imagining it different. “Yeah, that’d be really cool. Revamp the space.” He glanced back at her. “I’m always redoing my room. Moving my amps around and whatnot. Sometimes a new view is the best inspiration. You know what I mean.”
“Yeah,” she smiled, “I do.”
They stared at each other, both smiling for a long pause. A breeze blew in, ruffling the ends of his hair, causing goose bumps to break out over her skin.
His phone chimed in his back pocket and he glanced away, tugging the device out, already heading towards the open door. His fingers typed away furiously as he went, carefully avoiding walking into any of her easels or paint cans without having to look away from the screen.
“Gotta run,” he told her then, shoving the phone back into his pocket. “Thanks for letting me look around.”
“Any time.” She had no clue why she said that.
He grinned and waved and she watched him disappear down the drive and cross the street to his house. He didn’t go inside, instead getting onto his motorcycle. He waved again as he was speeding away and she found herself lifting her hand to wave back.
What had just happened?
She turned to find the eyes of her charcoal drawing staring straight at her.
“So that was Wyeth,” she told it, as if the paper had actual ears and could understand her. She clapped her sweaty palms hard against her thighs. “Right.”
Lifting the can of fixative off the side table, she sprayed the drawing down and darted back inside. It wasn’t until she was safely sequestered into the confines of her room that she realized he hadn’t done the thing that every single person she encountered over the past few months had.
He hadn’t asked how she was holding up.