Books read in 2013
Special For Sundays
INK-series Read Along
03 May 2012
Storm: Excerpt and Giveaway!!
Don't you just love a great giveaway?! I know I do...
The folks at Kensington have been kind enough to offer one copy of Storm by Brigid Kemmerer to one of my readers. Remember that one? The one with the 5-star story? Click
to read my review.
And to pique your interest, I've also been provided with an excerpt from the story to share. Read on and then enter the giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form!!
(Giveaway is US/Canada only; must be 13 or older to enter. Winner will have 48 hours to send their information or a new winner will be chosen. You know the drill.)
The self-defense class had been a waste of sixty bucks.
Becca hadn’t felt like a victim going in, but she sure did
now. When she’d seen the flyers around school advertising a
three-hour session with a “women’s defense specialist,” she’d
been eager to sign up. But the instructor—really just some college
kid named Paul—had been texting half the time, happy
enough to pocket their cash in exchange for halfhearted instructions
about body blocks and eye gouges. She’d lose another Saturday
scrubbing kennels to make this money back.
She’d left her cell phone in her locker, so after class she went
to get it. Her best friend had left fourteen texts about some
drama with her mom, so Becca stood in the shadowed corridor
to write back. Quinn wasn’t exactly patient.
The night air bit at her flushed skin when she slid out the side
door, making her wish she’d brought a heavier jacket—but at
least the promised rain had held off. Darkness cloaked the now
empty parking lot, and her car sat alone near the security lamp
in the middle of the cracked concrete.
This was exactly the kind of situation Paul had warned them
about: secluded and solitary, offering little visibility. But Becca
welcomed the darkness, the silence. She almost wished she
smoked, so she could lie on the car’s hood, flick a lighter, and
make up names for the constellations while nicotine burned her
You should be so cool.
Her key found the lock, but the door handle to her aged
Honda refused to release. She muttered the obligatory prayer,
but nothing happened. Sometimes it took a curse.
Then she heard a muffled shout, a distant scuffle on pavement.
She froze, more curious than afraid. A fight? Here? She saw
the combatants, just at the edge of the security light over by the
east wing. Three guys fighting, two on one, it looked like. One
caught another in a headlock, and the third swung a fist at the
captive’s midsection while he struggled.
They weren’t saying anything, making the violence cartoonish
and unreal, like watching an action movie on mute.
The kid in the headlock twisted free, his liberty quickly rewarded
with a fist to the head, sending him into a stagger. Another
punch brought him to the ground.
Then he didn’t move. One of the other guys kicked him in the
She heard that. And the sound made her remember that she
was just standing in the middle of a parking lot, watching.
Becca dropped beside her car. Breath whistled into her lungs.
She didn’t want to open the door and have the sound or the light
draw their attention. She’d call the police. An ambulance. The
whole frigging cavalry.
She thrust her hand into her bag for her cell phone.
Damn Quinn and her fifty bazillion texts. Becca swore and
punched the phone against the pavement. The cover snapped
off, skittering away under her car.
She peeked around the front bumper. The fallen boy lay in a
They kicked him again.
“Get up,” she whispered.
She tried to make out who the kids were. Some senior boys
got off on violence. She knew a few of them firsthand—some
only by reputation. The Merrick twins, maybe?
They were circling now, like vultures. One nudged the fallen
boy with his foot.
Then he kicked him. “Get up.”
“Yeah,” said the other one. “How’d you get rid of them?”
The voices were sharp, cruel. She held her breath, wishing she
could help somehow. But what could she do? Run at them with
her water bottle and the splintered plastic of her cell phone?
Maybe she could practice that “confident woman’s walk” Paul
If only she had a weapon, something to level the playing field.
You idiot. You do have a weapon.
Adrenaline made for a good ally. She’d barely thought it before
she was crawling through the back door and climbing into
the driver’s seat, driving straight at them.
She had the satisfaction of watching her headlights illuminate
their panic; then they were scrambling, diving to get out of the
way. Not the Merrick twins, not anyone she could make out at
all. Her foot punched the brakes at the last second, jerking the
car to an abrupt stop.
“I called the cops!” she shouted out the window, feeling her
heart kick against her ribs. “They’re on their way!”
But the boys were already bolting into the darkness.
Her fingers refused to release the steering wheel for the
longest moment. She finally pried them free, and, leaving the engine
running, eased out of the car.
She wished she’d turned the car differently, because the boy
was mostly in shadow, away from the headlights. He lay facedown,
the thick dark hair on his head matted with blood at one
temple. They’d done a number on his face: More blood glistened
on his swollen brow. Abrasions scored his cheek in various
directions, as though he’d met the pavement intimately, and
more than once. His black hoodie had taken a beating, and his
jeans weren’t much better, sporting a tear down the side of one
leg. He was breathing, a rattle of air pulling into his lungs, ending
on a slight wheeze each time.
She’d never seen someone beaten so badly.
“Hey.” She gave his shoulder a little shake. He didn’t move.
Those boys had run off on foot. She had no idea if they’d stay
Now what, genius?
She left her car engine running, its headlights cutting a path
in the darkness. She reached inside the door and pulled out her
half-empty water bottle. She crouched beside him, feeling the
cold grit of the pavement through her jeans. Then, using her
hand to slow the flow, she trickled water down the side of his
At first, nothing happened. She watched in macabre fascination
as the water pulled blood across his jaw, trailing over his
Then he came to with a vengeance.
Becca wasn’t ready for that, for him to explode off the
ground in a fury, his fists swinging before his eyes were open.
She was lucky he was injured. She barely got out of his way.
His momentum didn’t last long, however. He staggered to a
knee, planting a hand against the pavement. He coughed and it
shook his body; then he spit what looked like blood.
Now that he wasn’t lying on the ground, she recognized him.
Christopher Merrick. Chris. He was a junior, like she was, but
she couldn’t think of two words they’d ever exchanged. He was
the Merrick twins’ younger brother, the type of guy who’d
slouch in the back of the classroom and stare at the teachers
with disdain, daring them to call on him. People left him alone,
but that’s how he seemed to like it. An outsider by choice.
“You gave me water,” he rasped, his head down.
His voice startled her, made her realize she was just standing
there, clutching her water bottle so hard it made the plastic
“Yeah,” she said. “Those guys—they could come back—”
“Are you stupid?”
The derision in his voice was like a punch to the chest.
“Funny. I was just asking myself that.”
“No. I just—I could have hurt—” Chris coughed again, then
pressed his forehead to the ground, making a low sound in his
throat. He spit blood again. She felt like she was standing in the
middle of one of those cable crime dramas—the kind where the
violence is too much for network television.
“Do you have a cell phone?” She cast a quick look out into
the darkness, but the night remained still. “You need an ambulance.”
“I need a damn rainstorm.” He seemed to laugh, but it
choked him. “A drizzle. Fog even.”
He was delirious. “Can you get into the car? I can drive you
to the hospital.”
“Whatever. Climb in the car. Those guys could come back,
and I’m not—”
A hand closed on her arm, hot and meaty and painful. A
voice spoke from the darkness. “Did you think we wouldn’t
wait and see?”
“Big surprise.” The other voice now. “No sirens.”
That hand swung her around. This guy didn’t go to her
school. He looked older. College, maybe. Short blond hair
framed a severe face, all angles and lines.
Something scraped on the pavement. “This is going to suck,”
The other one was dragging him to his feet.
Becca knew how to swallow pain and keep emotion off her
face. “Let me go. I didn’t call the cops, but he did.”
Those sharp features cracked into a smile. “We took his
“Good try,” said Chris. He coughed again. The other guy
punched him in the side, and he dropped to the pavement.
The one on her arm shoved her up against her car. It hurt. She
squealed before she could help it.
“You should have driven away, sweetheart.”
“Nah,” said the other, his dark hair making him look sinister.
“That right there is dessert.”
Then she recognized his voice. Seth Ramsey. A senior. And
part of the reason she’d been in that self-defense class.
His friend reached out to cup her chin. “Yeah. Dessert.”
Maybe it was Seth’s presence; maybe it was the implication in
their words. Whatever, her mind didn’t think, her body just
moved. The water bottle went flying and her arm swung.
Something squished under her fingers. He dropped her arm
like a hot potato, shoving her away, flying back to put a hand to
his face. “Bitch! You bitch!”
Holy crap! It works! She was choking on her breath, but she
“Shut up, Tyler,” Seth hissed. “She might not have called the
cops, but you’re gonna—”
“Freeze. Right there.”
At first she thought the cops had shown up. But it was Chris,
her water bottle in his hand. He’d found his feet somehow, and
though he looked a little unsteady, their assailants went still.
Chris drew a shaky breath. “Back off. Or I’ll mean that literally.”
Mean what literally?
“Yeah, right,” said Seth. “It’s one bottle.”
Chris shook it. The water sloshed. “Try me.”
He had to be out of his mind.
But they backed off. “Chill out, man,” said Tyler. “We’re just
“Yeah.” Chris gave that harsh laugh again, then swiped at his
swollen lip. “Feels like it. Take another step back.”
She stared at Chris, as if her water bottle had somehow morphed
into a gun, or a switchblade, or anything more intimidating
than a plastic cylinder that read Aquafina.
“Becky,” he said. “Get in the car.”
“Becca,” she corrected automatically. Her voice was breathy,
her hands still clenched in fists.
“For god’s sake—” His eyes slid left. “Just get in the car.”
She scrambled into the driver’s seat, her hands fumbling for
the seat belt. Just when she wondered if he was going to get in,
he yanked the back door open and almost fell into the car.
Her foot smacked the accelerator and the car shot forward,
swerving toward the building. Her heart beat on the back of her
tongue, and she yanked the wheel. The car fishtailed before
Chris swore. “Drive without killing me.” He coughed. “I
should have clarified.”
She swung the car out of the parking lot and onto the main
road, accelerating like a bank robber. Her breath was loud in
the confines of the car. Houses whipped by, but she had yet to
pass another vehicle.
She barely hesitated at the stop sign at the end of Old Mill
Road, screeching through the turn.
“Hey.” Chris’s voice was quiet. “Take it easy. Their car was
on the other side of the cafeteria. You can slow down.”
She eased her foot off the pedal. “What did they want? That
one guy doesn’t go to our school.”
“Not anymore.” He paused. “Thanks.”
She swallowed. What was the right response? “You’re welcome”
didn’t quite seem to cover it. Then again, his “thanks”
didn’t, either. “Do you want me to take you to the hospital?”
“Nah. Home.” His breath hitched, and she took a glance at
him in the rearview mirror. His eyes were half closed, his voice
ironic. “If you don’t mind.”
She didn’t think that was a good idea, but what was she
going to do, wrestle him into the ER? “Aren’t your parents
going to freak when they see you?”
That rough laugh again. “I’d probably freak if I saw them.”
A peal of thunder interrupted his words. Raindrops appeared
on the windshield. “Figures,” he muttered. “Now it rains.”
Maybe he had a head injury. “Where do you live?”
“Just north of the fire station. On Chautauga. We’re the blue
house at the end of the court.”
She nodded, her knuckles white on the steering wheel. He fell
silent for a while, and she glanced in the rearview again to find
his eyes on her. Blue eyes. Nice eyes, she noticed, sharp and intelligent
under that fringe of dark hair.
Then he smirked. With the cuts and bruises on his face, it
made him look a little scary. “You’re probably thinking I owe
you my life.”
She jerked her eyes back to the road. “No,” she snapped.
“Just sixty bucks.”
“You charge for the hero act?”
His voice sounded light, but she still heard the wheeze behind
the words. Another quick glance in the mirror revealed his head
had fallen back against the seat.
“I really think I should take you to the hospital. You probably
have broken ribs.” And a concussion. “They can call your
parents from there.”
“Why? You think they have a Ouija board?”
She glanced at him worriedly, and his eyes opened fully. “My
parents are dead, Becca. Do you think you could open a window?”
Maybe the fresh air would help. She pushed the button to
drop his window a few inches, not wanting to let the rain in.
He sighed. “Thanks.”
He fell silent for a mile, and when they came to the red light
by the community college, she turned in her seat. His eyes were
He didn’t answer.
“Damn it,” she whispered.
Thursday, May 03, 2012
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