Saturday, December 26, 2015

Free Paranormal Romance!


Two New York Times best-selling paranormal romance authors have teamed up to bring your four reads to warm up your winter and heat up those holidays. Not only that, but by signing up to receive the free ebooks, you will also be in with a shot of winning one of two $50 Amazon Gift Cards in an international giveaway.

This fantastic offer is open now but will end on January 3rd, so be sure to head on over to and enter now to avoid disappointment.

Get these hot paranormal romances today and begin your journey into four incredible and enchanting worlds packed with passionate alpha heroes and sassy heroines.
Here’s a teaser from one of the books to tempt you…

Excerpt from Covet by Felicity Heaton (it’s a touch naughty!)

The human women sat down on the two red leather couches positioned in the middle of the stage, one on each. Crimson spotlights bathed them, making them look as though blood covered their skin. In perfect synchronisation, the broad bare male vampires crouched before their woman, lifted the opposite leg to each other and started to kiss along it from ankle to knee.
It wasn’t turning her on.
Lilah told herself it a thousand times over but the sight of the vampire couple fornicating at the front of the stage and the forced seduction happening behind them had her heart pounding and her nipples hardening against the tight top of her uniform dress.
“I need to question you about Victor.” Javier’s deep accented voice coming from behind her caused her to drop her broom and turn.
She panted hard, startled and trying to get her arousal under control so he wouldn’t sense it.
His dark brown gaze slid to the stage and then back to her.
Lilah quickly bent to pick up her broom. When she straightened, Javier’s eyes were on her dress, his pupils wide in the low light coming up from below. The moans on stage grew louder and she tried to ignore them and push the images of the couples out of her mind.
“Why did you hit Victor?” Javier said, more composed than she was. Didn’t the show affect him at all? He had crossed the theatre without pausing to watch and his eyes were fixed on her now. She had heard that he and his partners had been running the theatre for almost a century. He had probably grown immune to whatever was playing out on the stage.
“Because he was hurting Nia.” It came out blunter than she had intended and she added, “Sir.”
Javier’s eyebrow rose. “Victor said you had no grounds to strike him.”
“Then he’s a liar and a bastard.”
“He’s an elite.” The darkness in his tone was reprimand enough to Lilah. She bowed her head.
“My apologies.” She couldn’t bring herself to look at Javier so she glanced to one side when she brought her head back up. It was a mistake. The act on stage was getting hotter, with the two humans now kneeling on the couches and swallowing the rigid cocks of their partners as they stood before them. She ripped her gaze away and closed her eyes, figuring it was safer. That way she didn’t risk seeing the anger in Javier’s eyes or the debauchery on stage, and she could keep a clear head. “He was forcing himself on Nia and she told him to stop. When he didn’t, I hit him. I thought he might stop and block me.”
“He said Nia was cut. He was under the influence of his hunger. That is why he didn’t stop.”
That made sense. “Nia cut her hand on some glass. A mirror in the main dressing room had broken. We had to clean it up and she cut herself.”
He muttered a ripe curse in Spanish and stepped towards her. “Were you cut?”
Lilah opened her eyes, looked up into the dark pools of his, and shook her head. “No.”
The relief that swamped his eyes surprised her and sent fear into her blood. What if she had been the one to cut herself? Would Victor have tried to touch her and taste her instead? Would Nia have tried to stop him or would she have let him hurt her?
“You must be more careful around our kind,” Javier said and she nodded slowly, unable to take her eyes off his.
The moans from the stage grew louder and she blushed when Javier looked towards the performance.
“Will I be punished?” She tried to shut out the sounds. Javier’s gaze returned to her and he shook his head.
“Victor overstepped the line.” He frowned and turned quiet for so long that she couldn’t ignore the noises coming from the stage. She glanced across at them. Javier’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Do you like to watch them?”
Her eyes shot wide and she instantly shook her head. He stepped closer, slid his hand over her jaw in a way that had her shivering and her breath quaking, and carefully turned her face towards the stage. His thumb and fingers remained against her face, holding her gently, warming her down to her bones and causing a flood of arousal to sweep through her.
He traced his hand down her throat and stepped up behind her. What was he doing? She trembled under his touch, anticipating pain from it but feeling nothing but pleasure.
“Does it arouse you when you watch them fucking?” he breathed into her ear and she shivered, her eyelids dropping, a ripple of shock running over her skin at hearing him say such a thing.
“I don’t watch them,” she whispered, her voice barely there.
“You were watching them when I arrived.” He ran his thumb up her throat and claimed her jaw again. How long had he been watching her before he had said something and torn her attention away from the show? Had he enjoyed watching her while she watched the performance, unaware of his presence and his eyes on her? The thought that he might have sent heat into her blood that pooled in her abdomen, tightening it with arousal.
She couldn’t take her eyes off the show now but she wasn’t taking any of it in. All of her focus was on Javier where he stood behind her, so close that his hip was against her bottom. Why was he doing this? Why wasn’t it hurting her? Was there no pleasure in his touch, no sense of desire inside him as he ran his hands over her throat and pressed his body close to hers?
Lilah sharply turned her head towards him. He was so close to her that his breath skated over her lips, her chin touching his cheek. The darkness of desire in his eyes was unmistakable. There was hunger in his touch, in the way he forced her to face the stage again, clutching her jaw and lowering his mouth to her throat. He drew in a long shaky breath and pressed his brow against the side of her head. “You smell so good… such a temptation.”
He wanted her. Her knees weakened beneath her, legs going slack at the feel of him pressed against her back, his hands firm on her body.
Lilah’s breathing quickened and she stared at the three couples on stage, her heart racing and blood thundering. Javier reached around her and slid his hand over hers where it gripped the pole of the broom. He took it from her and let it fall to the ground as he pressed soft kisses to her bare shoulder and the nape of her neck. They tickled, sending shiver after shiver through her, dizzying her.
This was so wrong.
But that only made it feel more right.
She had wanted him for so long, had craved the feel of his hands on her body, ached to know what it would feel like to be with him. She had never thought it possible though, had thought her bond to Lord Ashville would prevent it and pain her if she accepted the touch of the man she desired with all of her heart.
Javier licked the nape of her neck near her hairline, teasing her, and she couldn’t stop herself from arching her backside into him. He groaned and cursed softly in her ear, kissing it and nibbling it with blunt teeth.
“Watch them,” he whispered into her ear and licked the lobe, teasing it with the tip of his tongue. “Keep watching them while I touch you.”
She nodded and bit back a groan when he slid his hands down over her stomach and then around to her backside, palming it through her short dress. He suckled the lobe of her ear and then kissed her throat and ran his hands up her sides, pressing them in hard as he passed over her ribs. He cupped her breasts and stepped into her. The feel of his erection against her bottom sent a new hot flood of arousal pooling between her thighs. Was this really happening? She felt as though she was imagining it, as though it was a fevered fantasy brought on by watching the show and seeing him crossing the theatre towards her. It didn’t feel real.
“You cannot deny me this,” he uttered into her ear and she trembled at the command in his tone, the hunger that roughened it. “I will have you.”

About the books in this offer:


Kissed by a Dark Prince

by Felicity Heaton
Olivia thinks it’s her lucky night when a dangerously handsome unconscious fae ends up on her inspection table. He’s her chance to redeem herself with her employer, the demon-hunting organisation, Archangel. But when the tall, dark and deadly immortal warrior awakes, she gets much more than she bargained for...
Attacked by his enemy in the elf kingdom, the last thing Prince Loren expects when he comes around is a beautiful angel watching over him. Hazy from his injuries, all he can focus on is the pulse ticking in her throat and the sweet allure of her blood.
One single bite reveals she is his eternal mate, triggering a bond between them that will leave him weakened until it is completed... or broken, and pulling Olivia into the crossfire of his ancient feud.
Will Loren be strong enough to place duty before desire and give up the one thing he has waited millennia for and craves above all others—his eternal mate? And will Olivia be able to resist the incredible heat that burns between them and the temptation of her dark prince’s kiss?

Blood Flame

by Caris Roane
Connor, a powerful vampire serving as a Border Patrol Officer for his corrupt world, falls for a gifted witch who has the ability to kill him with a single touch...
In BLOOD FLAME, vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for the powerful witch, Iris Meldeere. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her?
When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions.
But as they battle together to stay alive, and love begins to consume them both, will the witch be able to forgive the dark secrets of his past?


by Felicity Heaton
They’ve burned for each other for two years, the forbidden attraction between them growing each night. Now resisting the sinful desires of their hearts is becoming impossible.
Javier knows better than to succumb to his hunger for Lilah. The mortal female belongs to a powerful aristocrat patron of Vampirerotique, the theatre he runs with three other vampires. A single touch is all it would take to break the sacred law of his kind, sentencing himself to death, but his passion for her has become too fierce to ignore and he will risk everything to make Lilah his. When they find themselves alone in a private box during one of the erotic performances, will they surrender to their passion and live out their wildest fantasies in a night of wicked pleasure or will the threat of Lilah’s master keep them apart forever?

Embrace the Dark

by Caris Roane
Will she fall to temptation and give herself to a vampire...
Abigail doesn’t mind doing business with the realm-world, until she discovers she’s a rare commodity called a blood rose, something designed to satisfy the deepest needs of a mastyr vampire. She wants nothing to do with that kind of power and servicing a vampire is just wrong. But Mastyr Gerrod’s resistance to her gift, as well as his hot hunkiness in his Guardsman uniform, soon turns her head and she bends her neck to receive a sharp pair of fangs.
Mind-blowing sex, ecstasy, all good things follow. But how can she give up her human world to serve as a blood rose the rest of her life?

Sign up for these FREE ebooks and enter the giveaway now at

About Felicity Heaton
Felicity Heaton
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.
If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.
If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Tsu | Pinterest | GoodReads

About Caris Roane
Caris Roane
I’m a NY Times Bestselling Author and I write super-sexy paranormal romance fiction designed to be as much an adventure as a soul-satisfying experience. With every book I write, I try to give a taste of real life, despite the fact that I’m writing about hunky vampire warriors. You’ll come away engrossed in the lives of my tortured heroes as they wage war, as they make love, and as they answer the tough questions of life in terms of purpose, eternity, and how to raise a family! I began my career with Kensington Publishing writing Regency Romance as Valerie King. In 2005, Romantic Times Magazine honored me with a career achievement award in Regency Romance. I’ve published thirty paranormal romances to-date, some self-published and some for St. Martin’s Press! I’ve also branched out into Contemporary Romance with A SEDUCTIVE PROPOSITION!
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from Share My Destiny Book Blog!  

Come back tomorrow for more sexy romance and fab giveaways!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Treats Giveaway Hop!

What are our favorite Christmas Treats? Books, of course! Stop by each blog for a chance to win fabulous books & gifties for the Holidays!

I am currently enjoying the new holiday collection, Alphas Unwrapped, which was featured here on Share My Destiny last week. Take a break from your celebrations to spend some quiet time with these hot Alphas and sexy beasts! I am giving away 5 ecopies of this "box set" in the Christmas Treats Giveaway Hop! Enter today for your chance to win!

Follow the Hop for more fantastic giveaways at every stop!

Stone Legacy Series Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Stone Legacy Series Overview
Genre: Mature YA

Their empires have fallen, but their mythology lives on…

Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. The only home she’s ever known is the isolated institution—where breakfast is a handful of medications, the psychiatry sessions are mandatory, and her every move is watched.

When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Mayan descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision: bond with an enchanted stone and save humanity from rising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.

A wicked secret hides behind a handsome face…

When Arwan, a dark-eyed timebender, takes interest in Zanya's mission, it's unclear if his intention is to help, or if he's on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for another guy with major secrets and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.

With the approach of an ancient bonding ceremony, Zanya struggles to control her abilities—and her desires.

As the winter solstice approaches, it brings an onslaught of unexpected side effects. While Zanya battles to seize control over her supercharged powers, she must also face an overwhelming suspicion that her new boyfriend, Arwan, is hiding a secret so dark it could destroy them both. And with her powers finally taking root, pacing their relationship becomes even more of a challenge.

Just when she thought life couldn’t get more complicated…

With the arrival of a surprise houseguest, Zanya’s deepest fears about Arwan are confirmed. And when middleworld deities intercede, the group of gifted Maya descendants are confronted with hardships they never saw coming—including an enemy more deadly than they have ever faced.

When the heavens, middleworld, and underworld collide, an epic battle for power threatens the existence of mankind. Their survival rests in the hands of Zanya and her new, enchanted family. But when a final secret turns her world upside down, her stone, family, and future aren’t the only things she’s destined to protect.

Mayan Blood
Stone Legacy
Book One
Theresa DaLayne

Their empires have fallen, but their mythology lives on…

Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. Diagnosed with anxiety and night terrors, no one believes her cuts and bruises are a result of an evil entity, and not a brutal case of self-harm.

With the only home she’s ever known being the isolated institution—where breakfast is a handful of medications, the psychiatry sessions are mandatory, and her every move is watched—the only relief is her red-haired roommate named Tara, who’s more like a little sister than her best friend.

Free will is strong, but destiny is stronger.

When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Mayan descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision: bond with an enchanted stone and save humanity from rising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.

A wicked secret hides behind a handsome face…

When Arwan, a dark-eyed timebender, takes interest in Zanya's mission, it's unclear if his intention is to help, or if he's on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for another guy with major secrets and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.

Stone Legacy
Book Two
Theresa DaLayne

Tara may have spent years in an asylum, but that doesn’t make her crazy–just fearless.

Dropped in Moscow with a the group of enchanted Mayan descendants, seventeen-year-old Tara is forced to wait on the sideline while her best friend—the Stone Guardian— battles to reclaim a friend’s soul trapped in the underworld.

It sucks being ordinary when everyone else is superhuman…

A mortal girl with a tainted past, Tara is left to deal with an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. Her boyfriend, Peter, is a healer. Her best friend is The Guardian, and everyone else is a powerhouse of awesome strengths. Meanwhile, she struggles to leave her childhood of abuse in the past, and while Peter picks her up every time she falls, it becomes clear he deserves better.

When they opened Pandora’s Box, hell came pouring out…

When she’s given a chance to aid in the group’s mission, Tara is eager to pull her own weight, even if it means uncovering buried memories of being held prisoner by the underworld general. Now haunted with flashbacks of torture, Tara wanders from the safety of Peter’s arms into a city of depravity and corruption. And amidst all this evil is a young man with an agenda of his own, who leads her down a road that will either prove she is a hero at heart, or drag her into a world she’s always feared.

He wants revenge, she wants redemption. And in an underground ring of missing girls and bloody sacrifices, only the fearless can survive…

Lights of Aurora
Stone Legacy
Book Three
Theresa DaLayne

After living her entire life in an orphan asylum, Zanya fears she may actually be losing her mind.

Following the discovery of her ancient Maya bloodlines, eighteen-year-old Zanya Coreandero is faced with a daunting responsibility. She must protect the relic stone while Sarian, the underworld general, ceaselessly drives her to the brink of insanity.

With the approach of an ancient bonding ceremony, Zanya struggles to control her abilities—and her desires…

As the winter solstice approaches, it brings an onslaught of unexpected side effects. While Zanya struggles to seize control over her supercharged powers, she must also face an overwhelming suspicion that her boyfriend, Arwan, is hiding a secret so dark it could destroy them both. And with her powers finally taking root, the struggle to pace their relationship takes on a life of its own.

Just when she thought life couldn’t get more complicated…

With the arrival of a surprise houseguest, Zanya’s deepest fears about Arwan are confirmed. And when middleworld deities intercede, the group of gifted Maya descendants are confronted with hardships they never saw coming—including an enemy more deadly than they have ever faced.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And when that woman has no soul and a taste for revenge, they will need the powers of every surviving ancestor simply to stay alive.

Stone Legacy
Book Four
Theresa DaLayne

Jayden’s heart may have stopped beating for good when he was rescued from the underworld, but it can still break…

After an ancient Mayan ceremony goes horribly wrong, Jayden is left to face reality—the girl he once loved is pledged to another. At his breaking point, he steals a cab to leave behind the group of enchanted descendants, this time for good.

When Hawa—a beautiful but lethal acquaintance—decides to call shotgun, his only choice is to take her along for the ride.

He’d be glad to have the company…if it were anyone but her. He only knows her by occasionally sharing a hallway in Renato’s huge estate in Belize. It’s clear she has a perma-chip in her shoulder, and they have absolutely nothing in common. So he thinks…

With no cash and nowhere to stay, Hawa leads him into the heart of Guatemala City to an abandoned hotel of orphaned kids. As more of her tainted past is revealed, an unwelcome memory reappears in flesh and blood, threatening to break her wild spirit.

A mysterious orphan is the only one standing between him and the new queen of hell…

Modem, a spunky twelve-year-old girl with a knack for computers, seems to be keeping her eye on Jay. When his abilities go rogue and pull him back to the underworld, Modem shows she’s more than meets the eye. And as everything spirals out of control, Contessa proves no realm is out of reach…

About the Author:

A long-time enthusiast of things that go bump in the night, Theresa began her writing career as a journalism intern—possibly the least creative writing field out there. After her first semester at a local newspaper, she washed her hands of press releases and feature articles to delve into the whimsical world of fiction.

Since then, Theresa has been married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and has been repeatedly guilt-tripped into adopting a menagerie of animals that are now members of the family. But don’t be fooled by her domesticated appearance. Her greatest love is travel. Having traveled to over a dozen countries—not to mention an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. Wherever life brings her, Theresa will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Until You Came Along Tour & Excerpt!

Until You Came Along

Genre: YA Romance

Number of pages: 350

Word Count: 92000-94000

Book Description:

People never change; they only become more or less of who they really are…

Just as mysteriously as Alyssa appeared in Estella’s life she disappeared. Who was Alyssa, really?  For all their years of friendship in college, Estella has no idea why Alyssa left without saying goodbye after graduation.  Now, after all these years, Alyssa leaves a recording on Estella’s voicemail –an RSVP to their college reunion! Trembling with delight and dread, Estella has only one question:  Why?

Alyssa has been searching for something all her life—her future. She believes in nothing but success and winning. Manipulative, wilful, emotionally cold is the best way she can describe herself.  To the world and her college mates, she’s glamorous, confident and has life on a silver platter—men dream of having her and women dream of being her!  But Alyssa is blind to everything except success…
until she meets Kurt, a dreamy exchange student, who challenges everything she believes, while his touch runs through her body like the sweetest flame, making her want things she knows she shouldn’t have!  Kurt wants her heart and that’s the one thing Alyssa can’t give him.

Through seven years of silence, Estella and Alyssa discover life is ever changing—just as their perception of themselves…yet, how could they ever know tragedy and joy are from the same tears of life? 


I see Luke waving through his office window. Walking past the reception area, I step inside the elevator to travel to the seventh-floor of Pure-Kits Ltd. As the doors of the elevator open, I see my hubby with a red rose in his hand. I smile and accept the beautiful flower. We hug, and Luke says he’s been waiting anxiously for me. He takes my hand as we walk into his office. We then have a long, “miss you” kiss (we call it that). Luke’s excited. His expression is similar to what I saw on his face the very first time I seriously noticed him—a face full of love and hope, with a whisper of commitment.
I knew Luke a long time before our marriage. My father and Luke’s were close acquaintances. By the time I finished college, Luke had already established himself financially and was working for a reputable firm in Stoke. Then, four years ago, he joined Pure-Kits and soon earned a significant raise and two quick promotions.
Luke admired me, and he took my family in confidence. My parents liked him for his attitude and sincerity. During my final days of college, Luke asked me out. I said yes, without giving it much thought. He was honest and blunt and always had a subtle smile on his face. On our first date, Luke did everything to make me aware of how special I was to him. I felt a little disconcerted, but, at the same time, I noticed his efforts to win my interest. Like a gentleman, he dropped me home on time.
            Luke proposed to me on our second date, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He requested that I join him on a special ferry that he’d booked. In a pretty dramatic fashion, just like in the movies, Luke asked me to marry him. He arranged for the ferry to be decorated with fresh lilies, and I could smell their fragrance all around. He also put on my favorite song (I didn’t know how he figured that out!). He earnestly looked into my eyes, and I was speechless. Then I saw Luke pulling a sparkling diamond ring out of the chest pocket of his suit.
“Est… All my life, I’ve worked hard to put a lot into every relationship. I’ve valued every bond, whether it was personal or business. Now, at this stage of my life, all I want is to be a good husband and a responsible family man. And I think that won’t be possible until you’re by my side, because you’re the girl who can bring the best out of me. You’re the only girl who can turn me into something better. That’s how I feel about you. That’s how I’ve always felt about you.” 

About the Author:

Kshitij lives in New Delhi. He has written books in various genres. Classic literature novels, movies and culture have been his source of inspiration. Although he graduated with a business degree, the word ‘ART’ holds a special place his heart. When not writing, he can be found learning about history, food, and people for his new book.


Call of Affliction Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Call of Affliction
The Gamayun Prophecies
Book One
Lara S. Chase

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication: November 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1518876059

Number of pages: 364
Word Count: 72,353

Cover Artist: Resplendent Media

Book Description:

I am no longer in control of my own body.

Without warning and without my consent, my shape shifts and contorts into the half woman, half bird form of the Gamayun.  That’s bad enough, but then I’m forced to deliver prophecies to Sirin, the immortal who guards the gates of hell.  Messages she doesn’t care to hear, and she’s not afraid to use deadly force to silence me.

I’m starting to see things no one else can see.  The last Gamayun died in a psych ward, having lost everyone she ever loved.  I refuse to meet that same fate, even if that means lying to my sister and best friend.

The only person I can turn to is Sasha, the mysterious stranger who guarded the previous Gamayun.  When I stare into those pale blue eyes, it’s hard to be objective.  Can I really trust someone with that much barely suppressed anger and hurt?  For every piece of advice he gives, there are ten more secrets he’s not telling me. 

But when he kisses me, do I really care?

Call of Affliction is the first book in a six part series.  99 cents until Christmas!

Available at Amazon



Part of me knew it was the dream again. The sensible part of my brain was screaming at me to wake up, but when does that ever work? So I watched the film unspool once more, with me cast as the villain.
The bones in my fists crunched with every blow to her face and torso. She fell, and did not move. Her blood dripped off my fingers and onto the body at my feet. I focused on the slow progression of the red trickle, hoping in vain that I wouldn’t have to identify my victim this time.
My breath echoed in my ears as the rest of the world grew still. Drip. Inhale, exhale. Drip. The pain in my swollen fists forced its way into my thoughts as I stood over her. Inhale, exhale. Throb. I shook out my hands and forced my gaze down. I didn’t need to see her lifeless eyes look back at me to know who it was. It never changed. Who could inspire a killing rage from me but my mother?
I squatted lower to study the broken form of Senovia. Victory—the thought rose before I could squash it, and it made me nauseous though the blood had not. I turned from the body with a jerk.
The jerk took me to the edge of my bed, startling me. I awoke screaming and choking, my hair plastered to my face with sweat. I tried to untangle my hair, but the thick waves were strangling me.
“Galine! Galine, it’s okay!”
The sound of my sister’s voice drew me back from my nightmare. I was in my bed, my sister was safe in the room with me, and our mother, still alive, was several miles across town. My pulse began to come down to a reasonable level. However, now that I could think, the guilt came. Not only did I commit matricide in my sleep, but I woke Katja in the process.
I blinked, trying to adjust my eyes to the sudden light of the lamp between our twin beds. I propped myself up on an elbow to get a better look at my sister. Kat sat on the edge of her bed, her long legs crossed. The oscillating fan shot a burst of air in my face. It didn’t make the stuffy air that much cooler, but it brought me out of my stupor.
“Kat, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. Go back to sleep.” The words croaked out, my throat raw from screaming.
“Was it the one about Mom again?” I nodded. Katja ran her fingers through her long dark hair. Her brown eyes studied the tips for split ends with an intensity that betrayed her uneasiness. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“It’s okay if you need to cry or something.”
After having had the dream for years, I couldn't muster that depth of emotion. With my mother, it was best to strive for indifference. She wanted a reaction, and I refused to give it to her, even dream versions of her. “Really, Katja. Go back to bed. I’m fine.” She studied me for a moment and saw that I was at least no longer hysterical. Pulling the sheet over her, she lay back down.
I tried to think about something else, but the nightmare was still banging around in my head. The clock on the nightstand informed me that it was forty minutes until my alarm went off anyway, so I crept into the bathroom and showered. I scrubbed my hands raw. The water began to run cold, and still I remained, shivering until my skin grew numb.
My teeth chattered as I finally stepped out of the shower. I wrangled my mass of curly hair into a towel on top of my head, and stared at Katja’s hairdryer with envy. She had straight hair that took five minutes to blow dry, and then she looked perfect. But every time I tried to blow dry my hair, it looked like I had a massive dark red shower pouf attacking my head.
Maybe it was the nightmare, which always put me on edge and made me depressed, but I felt frumpy as I pulled on my threadbare hospital scrubs. They made cute scrubs in pretty fabrics and flattering cuts, but I could only afford the basic blue ones. My scrubs already looked sad with their fraying hems, and they didn’t do my ample figure any favors, either. I could almost hear my mother pointing out all of my problem areas—hips, rear end, thighs, stomach. I shook my head to clear it. Nope. The days of listening to Senovia’s criticism were over.
I marched myself into our tiny living space that held the semblance of a kitchen and dining area and poured myself a bowl of cereal. I ate standing up, leaning my back against our hideous mustard yellow counters. No one should have to look at that color before noon.
I should have opted for looking at the counters, because what I saw on the wall in front of me was much more disturbing. If I hadn’t choked on a stray off-brand Cheerio, I would have screamed. A cockroach the size of a toddler was crawling up my kitchen wall. Guessing that a can of Raid would only anger it, I inched toward the coat closet to locate our broom. As I grabbed my weapon, I kept an eye on the monstrosity. It didn’t move. Wait a second...
I marched up to the Guinness world record sized roach. It was a painting of a cockroach. “Katja!”
She stumbled out of the bedroom with narrowed eyes. “What?”
“Why did you paint that thing on our wall?”
“Oh, you mean Zeke?” She smiled at the painting with pride. “Didn’t he turn out great?”
Oh good grief. The thing had a name. “Yes, Zeke’s very life-like. Perhaps too life-like. His point?”
“Well, you know how sometimes we get roaches coming over from the neighbors? And the landlord is never going to do anything about it? Well, I thought Zeke here might scare them off. You know, like this place is already claimed by the big guy.”
“I wasn’t aware that roaches were engaged in turf wars. Tell me, is Zeke a Crip or a Blood?”
She shrugged. “Hey, you don’t know. It could work.”
“What if instead, Zeke becomes some sort of cockroach deity and all the roaches in Durham start making pilgrimages to our apartment? Did you think of that? Huh?”
Kat crossed her arms over her chest and gave me her best defiant teenager face. “Listen, if you want me to paint over it, just say so. You don’t have to get all snarky with me.”
“Listen, even if it did work, I’d rather see an occasional small roach than Zeke here every day. Paint over it.”
“Fine.” Her mouth was saying yes, but as she studied her nails, I was pretty sure I was going to pay for my lack of tact.
“Kat, you know I love your paintings. The windows, especially.” I threw my arms wide to gesture at all of her work around us. Our landlord was notorious for never returning deposits, so I had given Kat free reign with the walls. I didn’t always understand her more abstract stuff, but I did love those windows.
In our entire apartment, we had only two actual windows: one that was a mere foot square in our bedroom, and another one just three feet by eighteen inches in the living room portion of our one big room. The little light the windows let in seemed to highlight just how dismal the place was, so Kat had painted dozens of fake windows all over the apartment. The scenery they displayed changed depending on her mood. Right now, most of them looked out on various Nordic fjords and glaciers. It was supposed to help us think cool thoughts since our window AC unit was struggling to keep up in the August heat.
“Whatever.” Kat turned in the doorway and headed for the bathroom to get ready for school.
I sighed and picked up my bowl of cereal, then glanced down at my watch. If I didn’t leave in two minutes, I was going to be late. I shouted a goodbye to Katja and ran straight out the front door.
I hustled down the apartment stairwell and headed for the bus stop, careful to avoid the obstacle course of trash and the loose step the super was never going to fix. Once on the bus, sweaty and out of breath, I plopped down on the first available seat and zoned out. I would have stayed that way, but at the third stop a passenger demanded my attention.
She was short and anorexic thin, with light brown skin and eyes so dark they looked black. I would have guessed she was from some place in the Middle East, but her hair threw me off. Man, I didn’t even want to think about how much that dye job had cost. I counted at least six different colors in her hair—red, burgundy, copper, orange, yellow, gold, and I swear I saw flashes of blue. As she passed me in the aisle, she reeked of cigarette smoke. She was an odd sight, but as soon as she passed, she fell off my radar. Thinking is not a top priority for me until I’ve had caffeine.
I closed my eyes and leaned against the bus window in hopes of squeezing in a few extra minutes of sleep, but then I felt someone yank on the corner of my shirt. I turned around and saw the woman with the strange hair gripping my scrubs. “Medicina. Gorod medicina,” she muttered.
I froze. That was not normal bus behavior. “What did you say?” I couldn’t believe what I heard. She released my shirt and scurried to the back of the bus.
That woman had spoken Russian. Durham was full of transients, and one of the city’s running jokes was that no one was from here. I was one of the few people at work that was born and raised in Durham. Russians were rare, though.
Still, I had made out what she said, even if it didn’t make any sense. Who went around muttering Durham’s motto—City of Medicine? I gave the woman one last hard look. She was still murmuring to herself, or perhaps to an imaginary friend. The rest of the passengers on the bus gave her the wide berth reserved for those reluctant to use deodorant.
I was trying to decide if it was worth asking her what she meant when the bus reached the hospital, and my decision was made for me. I couldn’t afford to be late. I had to run a little, but I arrived at Durham Memorial on time and reported to the nurses’ station with three minutes to spare.
My best friend Harper Carlisle arrived right behind me, twirling the keys to her silver Audi on one French manicured nail. “You okay, hon? You look wrecked.” Her Southern accent drew out the vowels in a sleepy way that made me even more tired.
“Thanks. We can’t all be glamorous, you know.” I shouldn’t have snapped at her. I knew she was just worried, but I always felt frumpy around her. Who wouldn’t feel frumpy next to Harper’s glossy blonde hair, model-thin physique, and dazzling blue eyes? All that perfection would have made me hate her if she weren’t so darn nice.
“I meant you look exhausted.” She smiled at me and patted my hand.
“I know. Sorry I’m such a grouch. Rough night.”
“What happened?”
“Nothing. Couldn’t sleep.” I decided not to tell her why.
Harper frowned at me and then began to dig through her Coach purse. When her hand reemerged with her checkbook, I sighed. “It’s that horrible bed of yours. I told you not to buy a used mattress. You’re probably being eaten alive by bed bugs.” She retrieved a pen flashing with gold and filled out my name on the top line. “Let me buy you a decent bed, Galine.”
When I didn’t disagree with her she smiled and added, “Of course, in that neighborhood of yours even if you do buy something nice, you could have bed bugs again by the end of the week. I don’t suppose you and Katja would reconsider moving in with me?” By this point I couldn’t help an eye roll, so she added, “You could pay rent. A little bit. If you feel it’s necessary.”
“No, Harper.”
She gritted her teeth, but refrained from pushing the issue of moving. She tore off the check and handed it to me. I didn’t bother to look at the amount, but I’m sure it had an excessive amount of zeros at the end. I tore it in half and handed it back to her.
“I said ‘no.’ I meant no to everything. My bed is fine.”
“You are so stubborn!”
“True. But you’re too trusting.” I couldn’t recall how many times we’d had this argument. Harper had a big heart and an even bigger bank account, and people waited in line to take advantage of that. “Quit flashing your money around.” I did a quick survey of the area to make sure no one saw us.
Now it was her turn to roll her eyes at me. “This isn’t the Murder Mart, for heaven’s sake.” I stiffened at the less than flattering nickname for my neighborhood. “We’re in one of the nation’s top ten hospitals. I think I’m safe. Besides, I’m standing in the Carlisle Wing. I think the word is out that my family’s loaded.”
“You two going to stand there yakking all day, or are you going to work?” Selene, the charge nurse, yelled at us. Little bits of the Bojangles chicken biscuit she was eating spewed out as she talked.
Harper and I made matching faces of disgust as we moved off in separate directions to begin our rounds. Harper followed the line of nurses and I split off with the CNAs when I heard Selene bellow my name again.
“Galine!” She emerged from around the corner looking annoyed. “Gal—oh, there you are. The fourth floor psych ward called for a nursing assistant. Trouble with one of their patients. I thought immediately of you. You’re so good with the difficult ones. Kindred spirits and all.” Her smile was so wide I thought her face would crack.
“Sure, no problem, Selene. I’ll head over now.” Psych did not scare me. Compared to living with my mother, it was a cake walk. Selene was still sputtering, trying to figure out how her plan had backfired. I headed for the elevator.
After what Selene told me about this patient, I was expecting things to be hectic when I got off on the fourth floor. Instead, I found the charge nurse sipping coffee and flipping through a magazine. I could hear a TV laugh track coming from somewhere, but otherwise the floor was silent. I pulled my ID badge forward to present it to the nurse at the desk. “Karsavina. I was told you needed help with a patient.”
“Karsavina, right. We need a full time babysitter for this one.” She slid a chart over to me. “The police just brought in a Jane Doe. Picked her up on Holloway for a ‘drunk and disorderly’ but tests showed no alcohol. Suspected paranoid schizophrenic with intent to harm herself and others.” The nurse rattled all of the information off in a bored tone, but I was alarmed. “Oh, and she speaks Russian.”
I looked up from the chart. “Russian?” What was with the sudden influx of Russian speakers?
“Yes, that’s why you’re here. We think she might just be refusing to speak English, because she seems to understand us when she wants to. We’d prefer to send in someone with medical training instead of an interpreter if possible.”
“I don’t know what you’ve been told, but I’m out of practice. There aren’t many opportunities to use Russian in Durham, and my family stopped speaking it when my Dad died.”
“Well, some Russian is better than none.”
I nodded like I was okay with all of this information, but I wasn’t sure that was true. I walked down the hall toward the room number indicated on the chart and tried to take some deep breaths. I hadn’t counted on an angry woman shouting at me in Russian. The experience was familiar enough that my palms were starting to sweat. Why did I have to have that stupid nightmare last night? I stood up straight in what I hoped looked like a commanding posture and knocked once on the door before entering.
The cigarette smoke choked me. That was familiar, too. I waved my hand in front of my face to clear the air in the dark room, and spotted her leaning against the window ledge staring into space. The cigarette was burned down to her fingers, but she made no move to snuff it out.
For causing so much trouble, she was a tiny bit of a thing, not much more than five feet tall. She was also much younger than I had expected; I would guess in her twenties. At first I didn’t recognize her, but then the light from the window caught her hair. The strands were shimmering red, as if on fire. Maybe they were, considering the amount of smoke in the room. She was, I realized, the strange woman I had encountered earlier on the bus.
Apparently my Russian wasn’t as rusty as I thought, because all the tirades I used to give Senovia on how smoking was both unhealthy and inconsiderate (and in this case illegal) came pouring out smooth as glass. The woman gave me a condescending smirk, then she trashed the cigarette. In the fake ficus.
“Feel better now that you’ve gotten that off your chest?” Her English was perfect.
“Yes, thank you. I’ll feel even better once you’ve handed over the rest I’m sure you have squirreled away some somewhere.” I held out my hand. She gave me a dirty look, but placed two more cigarettes in my palm. “All of them.” I flicked the fingers of my palm, demanding more. “And the lighter.” She swore at me, but I got the actual pack this time, with four left in it, and a grungy Bic lighter.
As she stretched out her arm to hand over the contraband, I noticed thin scars running along her wrists. The coloring and level of fading alternated between white and a faint pink, suggesting two distinct suicide attempts—she’d meant business. My stomach lurched. She caught me staring and yanked her hand back.
I cleared my throat and looked away. “Now, why don’t you start by telling me your name?” I sat down in one of the hospital’s molded plastic chairs. It was a super tasteful chartreuse. If I was going to be here awhile, I might as well get comfortable.
“You can call me Manya.” Her lips curled into a sneer. Her tone was as bitter as the word’s definition in Russian.
“Something tells me your mother didn’t name you that.”
She gave one short, coughing laugh. “No. And what is your name, O Sharp Tongued One?”
The effect of that one word was astounding. She turned the full force of her wide black eyes on me and grabbed both of my arms. “What did you say your name was?”
“Ow! That hurts! Ease off my arms, will you?” Her nails left little half-moon marks. She collapsed onto the floor, muttering.
“It’s not possible,” I heard her whisper. “I gave up. It’s been so long. You weren’t coming. He said ‘no.’ I was sure He said ‘no.’ I was being punished. After everything, why now?”
“Hey, uh, Manya, what’s going on? Are you okay?” I got out of the chair and sat next to her on the cold, industrial floor. Her behavior was starting to worry me.
She came out of her daze. Turning her focus back on me, she grew brighter, almost like that crazy hair of hers was starting to glow. She spoke again, and this time the tone was pitched deeper. Every word vibrated through me. I don’t know how I knew, but I was certain what she was saying was important, and that it was true, even though it made no sense to me:
“In the city of healing you will find your rest,
The one God has redeemed will take your burden from you,
From exile He will bring you,
And you will suffer no more.”
And now I was freaked out. “Manya, what are you talking about?”
“I’m sorry, my dear. I wouldn’t wish what is coming to you on anyone, but I am selfish enough to still want it.” With that, she kissed me on the cheek and died.

About the Author:

Lara Chase was born and raised in rural Indiana surrounded by corn fields. 

Finding her environment somewhat boring, she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or writing stories in her head to entertain herself.  Eventually she decided she should probably start writing some of them down.

After graduating high school, Lara decided a change of scenery was in order.  She lived in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Illinois picking up the first bachelor’s degree she doesn’t use and a husband.  The husband she’s quite fond of, but the states she wasn’t as taken with.  She moved again, but this time she was smitten.  It would likely take an act of Congress to remove her from Durham, North Carolina.    Since relocating, Lara has acquired another bachelor’s degree that has proven to be merely decorative.

She still gets restless at times, though, so she and her husband swap houses with families in other countries.  Lara wrote some of the first lines of her current  project hanging precariously out of a third floor apartment window in Italy trying to get a wireless signal.  Luckily, writing at home is usually less dangerous.  Her greatest threat there is the disgruntled cat who keeps sitting on her keyboard.