Saturday, June 16, 2018

NEW BOOK OUT!!- "All That and a Bag of Chips" by Amber Garza

!! NEW RELEASE !!
by Amber Garza
Author's Links: Amazon PageFacebookTwitterBlog.
Penned Series: Playing For Keeps, Unexpected Love Series, Prowl Trilogy, Star Struck Series, Delaney's Gift Series, Break Free and Break Through. 
as well as single novels: Cuts Run Deep, Falling to Pieces, The Summer We Fell, Engraved, Head Above Water, Mark My Words, and Until the Sun Burns Out.
"All That and a Bag of Chips"
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance/Time Travel.
Price: $3.99 ebook (at time of post)
Book Link: Click Here
- SYNOPSIS -
When Remy fell asleep last night, it was 2018. This morning she woke up in 1993. 
She knows it’s her fault. Over the weekend, a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl was splashed all over social media. Talk about epic humiliation. It made her wish she could go back to a time when there were no smartphones. 
But she never imagined it would come true. 
Now everything is different, including her friendship with her neighbor Nick. He’d never noticed her before. But now he’s looking at her in a new way.
Almost like he thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips. 
But will he feel that way when they return to 2018?
_________________________________________________________________

Friday, June 15, 2018

SERIES $ALE- "The Dark Cycle" (3 Book Series)

 SERIES ON $ALE 

"The Dark Cycle Series"
(Darkness Brutal, Darkness Fair, Darkness Savage)
by Rachel A. Marks
Price dropped as of June 14, 2018
from $4.99 to $1.99 (that's a 60% Price Drop)
Book Series Link: Click Here
______________________________________________________________________

FREEBIE Alert!! - "Nora & Kettle"

 FREEBIE 
"Nora & Kettle"
(A Paper Stars Novel, Book 1)
by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Price dropped as of June 14, 2018
from $4.99 to $0 FREE (that's a 100% Price Drop)
Book Link: Click Here
Book Tour Post: Link Here

NEW BOOK OUT!!- "Blizzard" by Cambria Hebert

!! NEW RELEASE !!
by Cambria Hebert
Author Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, Goodreads.
Penned Series: The Death Escorts SeriesThe Take It Off Series, The Heaven and Hell Series, Gearshark Series, Amnesia Duetsand  Public Enemy Novels.
 AND single novels such as: Distant Desires and Blank.

Book 2, in The BearPaw Resort Series
"BLIZZARD"
Genre:  Adult, Sports, Romance, Suspense, Thriller. 351 pages.
Price: $3.99 ebook (at time of post)
Book Link: Click Here
- SYNOPSIS -
An arctic blast is coming… 

 Fleeing to the wintry town of Caribou was always meant to be temporary, BearPaw Resort just a place to hide.

 Never in a million years did I expect that running back to the past would bring me face to face with my future.

  But it did, and now everyone I love is in danger. 

I’ve already escaped death three times, and I know my luck is running out. 

 I’m left looking over my shoulder, watching and waiting, knowing they’re coming.

 But when? 

 Hiding is impossible when the mob wants you erased, and I love Liam far too much to try to disappear. 

 The more time I spend with him, the more I realize how much he needs me.

 A darkness lurks inside him, and the colder it gets, the more I see it in his eyes. 

So here I am, more afraid than ever before. 

 Giving up isn’t an option. Giving in will get us killed. 

A blizzard is brewing on our mountain, more frigid than anything we’ve ever felt. 

 With everything we ever wanted at stake, the only option is to fight. 

 When life turns arctic… 

 Who will survive the blast?
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<==========>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
EXCERPT
Chapter 1: Bellamy 
The days of me sleeping through everything, including a zombie apocalypse, were over. Now I could pretty much be summoned awake by a single drip of the bathroom sink. In the neighbor’s house.

It wasn’t a leaky sink that woke me up today. Or any other number of sounds that might be unfamiliar to me in this new house.
No, today I was awoken because I was being stared at.
Cracking open an eye, I glanced beside me and was met with a giant, furry head right beside mine. The second Charlie saw me glance in his direction, his big tail beat on the floor in greeting. I made a small sound, but didn’t move. The St. Bernard was not to be put off. His head, which was already resting on the mattress, scooted closer, and he blew a giant cloud of dog breath in my face.
“That’s so disrespectful,” I told him.
His tail beat more rapidly against the floor, and a low whine vibrated his throat.
Sitting up, sleep still clinging to my brain, I scanned the bedroom, and a rush of warmth wrapped around me. Getting woken up by major dog breath at an early hour wasn’t so bad when you got to wake up to a dream.
Imagine that. I didn’t go to sleep to dream; I woke up instead.
Strands of wavy blond hair fell over my shoulder, brushing against my cheek when I looked to the side at Liam. He was sleeping soundly, his strong features relaxed, his light-brown hair tousled and falling over his forehead. One of his arms was thrown out toward me, and the other was folded over his abdomen.
The dog lumbered over to the bedroom door and stared back. I held up my finger, telling him to wait just a minute, then pulled the blankets up closer around Liam. Brushing back a lock of his hair, I smiled down. I still couldn’t believe I was here. With him.
Even though life was crazy as hell, scary, and probably about to get even more complicated, I still couldn’t help but feel awed by his presence. I felt lucky. Lucky to have gotten a second chance with my first love. My only love.
Brushing a barely there kiss across his brow, I left the bedroom, following closely behind Charlie until we reached the door leading out into the snow.
He burst out with a joyful bark, and I giggled, watching him romp off the deck and into the yard. I put on a pot of coffee, anticipating the fragrant scent of the brew, went back to the door, and called out for Charlie. He glanced up, a pile of snow on his nose, and shook his head, making it scatter everywhere.
Clearly, he wasn’t ready to come back inside.
Briefly, I entertained the idea of making breakfast for Liam, but since it had only been two days since coming home from the hospital, and during that time we hadn’t left the cabin at all, the kind of breakfast I wanted to make him wasn’t an option. That would require grocery shopping.
Instead, I poured myself a mug of still-brewing coffee, adding a touch of cream and sugar to it. Carrying it to the living room, I turned on the fireplace. I’d never lived anywhere with a fireplace. There was something about it that was just so homey.
My eyes strayed from the flickering flames to the thin laptop lying on the coffee table nearby. Curiosity killed the cat. Wasn’t that the saying? I forced my eyes away from the device and back to the crackling fire.
I’m not a cat.
And technically, wasn’t my life already in limbo?
Glancing toward the hallway and back to where Liam lay sleeping, I made a frustrated sound and blew out a breath. Abruptly, I turned from the mantel, stuffed the laptop beneath my arm, and went back into the kitchen. At the island, I set down the mug and opened the computer and powered it on. As it was booting up, I opened the door, and Charlie came barreling in, skidded around the island, and plopped into a prim sitting position. His eyes were expectant, and I grinned.
Practically climbing over his giant, furry body, I grabbed the treats and handed him a large, wavy one. It was supposed to look like bacon. It actually kinda did.
I didn’t have to tell him to lie down because the second I handed over the snack, he slid onto the floor to chomp away.
Once I was on the barstool, I called up the net browser and then typed in what I wanted. My stomach clenched. The entire time, my mind told me to turn back and that I knew better than this.
Okay. So yeah. I knew better. And I sort of felt bad for searching up my boyfriend on the internet. But I was also dying of curiosity.
Ha! Maybe that’s why curiosity killed the cat! Maybe he didn’t investigate when he should have, and he died of suspense!
See? It was just further proof that I needed to do this.
After all of Liam and Alex’s conversations without words, every look they exchanged when his knee was brought up, and then hearing what the doctor said to him at the hospital… I had to know.
Hell, I felt bad I didn’t.
I’d come plowing into Liam’s life here at BearPaw. We’d barely had time to catch our breath. Liam took my problems on as if they weren’t life and death. He coaxed out everything horrible about my past.
How did I repay him?
By knowing nothing about him and his life.
I knew he loved me. I felt it.
Was I really worthy of Liam’s love?
I wanted to be. Desperately. So much so that here I was creeping around like a stalker to find out exactly what happened with his knee and how he lost his career.
True, he said we would talk. I knew he would tell me everything I wanted to know. Maybe if I knew a little, then talking about it wouldn’t be so hard. It was beyond clear to me that it was going to be hard for him to open up about it.
Add that to the fact we still had to have a conversation with his parents… It just didn’t seem like the time to bring up this stuff. He had enough on his plate.
Olympic Medalist Liam Mattison suffers major setback!
Record-setting Olympic snowboarder career on ice?
Liam Mattison surgery forces retirement.
The golden boy spiraling into darkness.
No More Medals!
The headlines I scrolled through were harsh. Article after article snowballed on top of the other, burying all the amazing press on everything he’d accomplished in the past eight years.
I should have been paying attention. I shouldn’t have let my own life keep me from checking in on him.
My shoulders slumped as I stared at the screen. Even if I had known, what could I have done? It seemed our lives blew up around the same time. I would have wanted to be there for him, but it would have been impossible. Not only was I in hiding, but back then, I’d still thought he’d played me. I didn’t know he’d missed me just as much as I missed him.
So much lost time. So many missed opportunities.
Tugging the mug across the counter, I cradled it in my palms, allowing the heat of the coffee to seep into my skin. I didn’t want to read these articles. The headlines alone made my teeth clench. They were all written by someone else.
By a stranger who didn’t know Liam. By a reporter just regurgitating what they’d heard or what “sources” had revealed.
I wanted the genuine truth. I wanted the words and feelings straight from Liam.
If I couldn’t see how it all went down myself, then I would have him, the only eyewitness who could tell me.
See how it went down… The thought echoed around my brain.
My eyes flashed up to the laptop. Quickly, my fingers flew over the keyboard as I called up something else.
WATCH: The day Liam Mattison’s career died.
I almost slammed the lid of the device closed when I saw the title of the video. But the thumbnail kept me captivated. It was Liam dressed in full-on boarding gear: black snow pants, bright-white jacket, a black helmet, and silver goggles. Not one inch of his skin was exposed. There was a board strapped to his feet, and he was midair.
His body was suspended above the halfpipe, the board up high, his hand gripping the edge.
Even if his name wasn’t in the title, even without one inch of his body or face exposed, I knew. Liam had a way about him when he boarded. There was something almost majestic and joyful about the way he controlled a snowboard, the way he seemed to bend with the wind and become part of the mountain when he competed.
I’d never been to see him live. For years, I’d watch his competitions online from the secrecy of my own home.
Ah, he was something. Watching him cut through powder, flip his body into the air, and soar, it gave me chills. I could only imagine what it had been like to be on the mountain while he was competing.
I thought about the way he looked in the hospital when the doctor told him his ACL was stretched. About how he’d asked, stiff-lipped, about his chances for the pros.
Was Liam planning to return to snowboarding?
Had that been his plan along?
I didn’t know. I loved him, and I didn’t know.
I tapped on the video so it would play.
Announcer one: “Next up, we have the current reigning king of snowboarding. Liam Mattison has held the title for the best snowboarder in the world for nearly two years now.”
Announcer two: “I have to say, Tony, it’s a wonder the snow doesn’t melt beneath this guy when he boards. He’s just that good. He’s been on an all-time career high since coming off the Olympics last year and bringing home the gold for the second time.”
As I listened to the announcers, I stared at Liam, who was preparing for his run. The goggles were already over his eyes, the helmet securely in place. I watched him bend down to check his board, then stand back up and adjust the goggle straps. The black material covering the lower portion of his face dropped, and my belly dipped at the glimpse of familiar light-brown stubble and full lower lip.
He turned to say something to the person standing nearby, and he grinned. The camera stayed with him as he concealed his face and adjusted his gloves. In the background, the crowd cheered and roared. I imagined the cold air swirled around everyone as the bright sun shone down, making the pristine, packed snow glitter.
Before turning his body completely toward the pipe, he fist-bumped the guy standing nearby who wasn’t in frame of the camera.
His shoulders rose and fell with his deep breath.
Announcer one: “And here we go.”
Announcer two: “The way he’s been performing this week, this run will just concrete what we already know. Liam Mattison is a history-making athlete.”
My heart was pounding, the grip around my mug so tight my knuckles began to ache. The sound of his board cutting over the snow as he pushed off and the strength in his thighs and legs as he moved was captivating.
He went into this first move and nailed it perfectly. The announcers’ voices began again, likely singing the praises of the jump, but I was beyond hearing them. All I heard was the pounding of my own pulse as I watched him with my heart lodged in my throat.
Cheers drowned out the announcers, and my own air expelled raggedly when he made the second turn perfectly. But just as soon as the relief and pride came, fear chased it back. I knew what was coming next…
My fingers and knuckles ached again. My shoulders gradually pulled up toward my ears as tension sank its claws into the back of my neck. Liam went airborne again, the board strapped to his feet.
Announcer: “He’s looking a little extended…”
All the sound on the video cut off. It was as if the person who cut the footage knew this moment would have far more impact if there was no one saying anything at all.
No cries of disaster. No exclamations of injury. Not even a quiet recounting of what could have gone wrong.
In a spilt second, everything changed.
Liam was literally at the highlight of his career. At the top of his mountain.
Then all of it was ripped away.
His body dropped to the side of the pipeline, his board catching at the wrong place. He ricocheted back, but not enough. His head cracked off the edge. His body sort of hunched inward but then went taut as he fought for control.
Even after the blow to his head, he still fought for control.
His board hit the snow, and his body jolted. One side seemed to give out, and his leg buckled right under him. He went down. The board dragged behind him as he kept sliding, skidding over the snow. When it stopped, a mist of snow blew around his body.
The audio cut back in, and people were calling out frantically. Several were rushing toward him.
I watched Liam try to sit up, only to crumple back to the snow.
Tears filled my eyes. A horrible pressure sat on my windpipe, and I pressed the heel of my hand against my mouth to keep from crying.
With my free hand, I reached out and hit the screen, pausing the video.
The image frozen on the screen was Liam lying in the snow with a group of concerned people leaning over him.
After a few long moments, in which I sat there and stared watery-eyed at the screen, I pulled the hand away from my mouth and sighed. “Oh, Liam,” I whispered. “I should have been there.”
Movement from the hallway drew my attention, and I glanced up.
Liam pushed off the wall, uncrossed his arms, and levelled me with a steady, unreadable stare. “I’m glad you weren’t.” 

--------------------------------------------------------
Now Available ....

"AVALANCHE" (Book #1)- Click Here
**Check out the Release Day Post: Link Here**
Price$3.99 (at time of post)
_________________________________________________________________

Saturday, June 9, 2018

FREEBIE Alert!! - "Dead of Winter"

FREEBIE
"Dead of Winter"
(Aspen Falls Novels, Book 1)
by Melissa Pearl and Anna Cruise
Price dropped as of June 9, 2018
from $4.99 to $0 FREE (that's a 100% Price Drop)
Price drop won't last long grab it ASAP!!
Book Link: Click Here 
Book Announcement Post: Link Here

Monday, June 4, 2018

$ALE Alert!! - "Playmaker"

ON $ALE

"Playmaker"
(A Breakaway Novel, Book #3)
by L.P. Dover
Price dropped as of June 3, 2018
from $4.99 to $1.99 (that's a 60% Price Drop)
Book Link: Click Here
Book Tour Post: Link Here

COVER REVEAL!!- "ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS" by Amber Garza

!! COVER REVEAL !!
Release Date: 
June 15, 2018

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance/Time Travel.
 Pre-Order Price & LinkN/A (at time of post)

- SYNOPSIS -
When Remy fell asleep last night, it was 2018. This morning she woke up in 1993. 
She knows it’s her fault. Over the weekend, a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl was splashed all over social media. Talk about epic humiliation. It made her wish she could go back to a time when there were no smartphones. 
But she never imagined it would come true. 
Now everything is different, including her friendship with her neighbor Nick. He’d never noticed her before. But now he’s looking at her in a new way.
Almost like he thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips. 
But will he feel that way when they return to 2018?
_________________________________________________________________

Thursday, May 31, 2018

NEW BOOK OUT!!- "Castaways" by Tara Brown

!! NEW RELEASE !!
by Tara Brown
Author Links: FacebookBlogTwitterAmazon and Goodreads.
Penned Series: Blood and Bone Series, The Lonely Books, Born TrilogyCrimson Cove Mysteries, imaginations, The Light Trilogy, The Devil's Roses, and The Single Lady Spy Series.

"Castaways"
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. 296 pages.
Price: $2.99 ebook (at time of post)
Book Link: Click Here
- SYNOPSIS -
Not all secrets stay buried. 

 Fresh from the set of her latest movie, Lizzie Benedict and her closest friends hit the Caribbean for a couple of weeks of partying, and whatever else might happen aboard the SS Dirty Oar. 


When the luxury yachting trip hits rough seas, Lizzie isn’t prepared for what happens next, a sunken ship and someone else’s boyfriend rescuing her. 


Waking up on the sunny, deserted island seems like a nightmare at first. Until the ten sexy celebrities decide to make the best of it. Sunbathing and eating fresh fruit off each other’s bodies is not the worst way to spend a week. There are no paparazzi and the weather is fine. 


But the party only lasts so long. 


Soon enough the reality of being shipwrecked hits them and the group begins to worry. Only their biggest concern isn’t being rescued. 


There’s someone else on the island. 


And Lizzie and her friends have something they want. Or rather, someone. 


The group has two choices: die at the hands of what appears to be a nightmare, or fight back.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<==========>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

EXCERPT
Prologue: 
    The waves rocked the yacht much like they would a dinghy rather than an ocean cruiser that could handle anything. But the wind had picked up around lunch, worsening the already rough seas we’d endured for days. 
    At the time the trip was planned, the weather had sounded ideal, but I’d overheard the captain say this part of the Atlantic was known for being rough and unpredictable, so a change in the forecast wasn't surprising, just annoying.       
    Tonight, I found it more than annoying. It stressed me out that our plan might go off schedule with the changing weather
, bringing an unforeseen possibility of disaster. And uncontrollable. 
    I hurried toward the kitchen but paused in the hall outside the galley, swearing I heard the sound of a woman’s voice being muffled nearby. 
    Spinning in a slow circle, I listened intently but couldn't place where it had come from until it happened again, right next to me. 
    “No! I said no!” a woman protested halfheartedly, making me jump. 
    Behind the door next to me was a linen closet, one I’d already taken refuge in for a secret meeting. 
    But now a guy spoke softly—his words impossible to be heard from where I stood—to which the girl giggled again. She clearly was not being forced to remain in there with whoever was making her laugh, despite her protests. 
    The sound was familiar, maybe that idiot Lizzie, but being the group we were, it could have been anyone. Everyone on this boat was hooking up with someone they shouldn't. Myself included. But appearances were everything. 
    I didn't have time to sit and listen to figure out who was in there. I had work to do.
    My steps were silent as I tiptoed into the galley, listening for the cook. He was nowhere to be found, thank God. I didn't need another inconvenience. 
    The crew's dining carts had been assembled. They were always ready to fo at six in the evening, so the crew would be done dinning by the time we were ready to eat at eight every night.
    With one more glance about the kitchen, I strained my ears a little harder, listening for anyone who might witness what I was about to do before slipping the vial from my pocket.
    It was the last night at sea, the last night the security team could enjoy a relaxing evening off duty. The last night they would drink wine with dinner.
    The kitchen was colder than the rest of the yacht.
    My fingers trembled slightly as I popped the lid from the vial and sprinkled the salt-like contents into the red and white wine already in decanters. I added some to the water jugs, just in case. 
    Being extra careful not to touch the coarse powder, I unscrewed the lid on the salt and pepper shakers and added it to them both, emptying the last of the granules into the pepper. I tossed the vial into the garbage and washed my hands quickly before using a napkin to screw the lids on the shakers. Then I shook them slightly to mix the contents so the white wasn't noticeable in the pepper. I tossed the napkin, washed my clammy hands again, and stepped back from the carts.
    This was it. 
    This was the moment we were waiting and planning for. 
    I did a gut check, searching for remorse or regret, but there was nothing. 
    Tomorrow would be a new day, a start to something better. And as with all evil plots, this one was going to get worse before it got better. 
    With a turn, I fled the galley and hurried for the front of the ship, the panic of getting caught only leaving me when I was on the stairs, far removed from the carts of food. Instead of worrying about being caught, now I had to be hopeful their delivery would be as planned. Trusting this would go as intended wasn't easy. One wrong move and lives would be lost. And not just the ones we were gambling on. 
    Another loud voice caught my attention, only this time it wasn't laughter coming from a closet, but rather the captain speaking loudly to someone. 
    I crept through the hallway near the bridge and listened as he spoke into a phone while pacing in a small circle. It had to be a satellite phone since none of our cell phones were working. “I’m telling ya, I think we’re off course. It’s dark so I can’t be sure, but I don't even know where we are. So if I can’t get the equipment working again, I’m sending an SOS. If you haven’t heard from me in the next five or six hours, you send the SOS for me. I just hope we haven’t veered south, that would worry me.” 
    He didn't mention why he would be worried which made me anxious. 
    We’d deviated south. 
    I knew that because I’d made sure of it. I just didn't know why it would matter, what was wrong with going south. 
    “Okay, talk later.” He hung up with a heavy sigh, leaving me with questions and no answers. Sort of the same way we’d left him when we wrecked his nav system. 
    He didn't know there was sabotage, he wouldn’t until it was too late.
******************************************************

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

NEW BOOK OUT!!- "Misteria" by Cameo Renae

!! NEW RELEASE !!
by Cameo Renae
Author Links: Amazon PageFacebookBlogWebsiteTwitter.
Penned Series: The Hidden Wings SeriesThe After Light Saga and In My Dreams Duet.
AND single novel: Bound by Shadows.

"Misteria"
Genre: Middle School Grade, Fantasy. 244 pages.
Price: $2.99 ebook (at time of post)
Book Link: Click Here
- SYNOPSIS -
Approached in the woods by a rather hideous, three-foot tall man-creature, William and Anna Archer, are given a message from their mother via a crystal ball. They are to follow the messenger through a magical portal to find her. 

In this modern-day fairy tale, the twelve-year-old, telepathic twins uncover a world hidden behind an enchanted mist conjured by five sorcerers to protect all magical beings from the human world. A world that is now terrorized by a dark and destructive force sweeping across the land, threatening their very existence.


The twins embark on a perilous quest to save their mother and the grandfather they never knew existed. Fantasy has turned into reality for the Archer twins, and the safety of all magical beings now rests in their hands.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<==========>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

EXCERPT
e
CHAPTER ONE
   Rustling leaves and cracking branches alerted twelve-year-old twins, William and Anna, that something or someone was in the woods, but an overgrowth of foliage concealed the mysterious intruder.
High up in their favorite tree, in the middle of their fifteen-acre forest, Will pressed a finger to his lips, then leaned over, peeking through leaves to spy down at whoever was coming.
   The twins lived with their mother in a quaint little cabin in the remote north, fifty miles from the nearest town. They didn’t have many neighbors, so Will anticipated his best friend, Henry Hobbs, to jump out in an attempt to scare them. 
   Pulling a small stone from his pocket, Will held it in his palm and glanced at his sister with a sly grin.
Anna sighed and shook her head as he cocked his arm back.
   “Hey, Henry! We know it’s you. You can come out now,” he yelled.
   “Do you think it’s Henry?” she whispered.
   Will tipped his head to the side and rolled his eyes. “Who else would it be? His dad bought him binoculars for his birthday. He’s probably got them focused on you right now.”
Anna growled, her face flushing red. “Don’t you dare encourage him, Will.”  
   “I don’t.” Will chuckled. “Henry likes you, but he also knows you only like him as a friend. Besides, you’re the only girl he’s ever known.”
   “Well, I wish he’d stop staring. It’s creepy.”
   “He’s harmless.”
   The rustling in the woods drew nearer, making Will’s smile broaden. Readying the stone in his hand, he saw an unusual head peek out from the shrubbery below. 
   Anna let out a blood-curdling scream. Flinging her body over to Will’s branch, she nearly knocked him off. At the same time, Will hurled his rock downward, smacking the intruder on the head.
   “Ouch!” it cried.
A hideous looking man-creature stood at the foot of their tree, rubbing his noggin. He was three-feet tall with an unnaturally large head, an oversized nose, and enormous feet covered in hair. His skin was dark and leathery and there were a few grotesque bumps on his face—some with long, wiry hairs winding out from them.
   Will was frozen with fear. 
   The creature stood there panting; its breath, loud and wheezy. One hand was pressed against the base of the tree, while the other wiped beads of sweat from its bushy unibrow. Tightly gripping its chest, the despicable thing looked as if it was about to keel over and die.
   “Chil’ren of Archer?” it puffed in a raspy voice.
   It knew their name.
   “Who are you?” Will hollered, his trembling voice gave away his fear.
   “Name’s Tobin,” the creature replied, then bowed his head. “Tobin at yer service.”
   Although the man-creature had a freakish exterior, Will noticed something odd about his brown, lemon-sized eyes. They appeared kind and friendly, yet filled with distress.
   “What do you want?” Will asked, attempting to pry Anna’s fingers from around his arm.
   Frantically waving his stubby arms in the air, he motioned for them to climb down. "Please, chil’ren. Ya must come at once. We’ve only but a short time ta get back an’ help yer mudder.” 
   Will felt his sister trembling and turned to see fear in her widened eyes. Anna was usually a spitfire and headstrong, but Will had never seen her so afraid. Although he was just as frightened, he knew he had to be strong. For both of them.
   William Archer was born seven minutes and eleven seconds before his sister. He was the first to walk, was extremely fast, and exceptionally coordinated. Light-brown hair fringed his oval face, and he had the brightest sapphire eyes.
   At the age of seven, his mother gifted him a beautiful hand-carved bow and quiver of arrows. She said they were his father’s, so he cherished them even more. It was the only thing of his father’s he’d ever possessed, and he practiced every chance he could. In no time, he was able to shoot a bullseye from fifty yards away.
   Most of Will’s waking hours were spent outside in the woods, climbing trees and exploring, while his twin sister, Anna, was the complete opposite.
   Anna had long, silky auburn hair that curled around her heart-shaped face and down her back. Her skin was soft and smooth as porcelain, and behind long lashes were the brightest emerald green eyes.
She didn’t like climbing trees or playing in the forest, but some days she’d give in, just to keep Will from nagging. Anna preferred lying in the grass with her head buried in a book, dreaming of what it would be like to be swept away on a wondrous adventure.
   They didn’t know much about their father, aside from the fact he’d died before they were born. Their mother didn’t talk much about him, and they never really asked, seeing how much pain it brought her to mention him. What they did know was that he was very handsome and strong, with sapphire eyes like Will, and Anna’s intelligence.
   Will and Anna seemed like typical twin siblings, with one exception. They shared a secret. 
Since the day they were born, they could communicate with each other without speaking a word. All one had to do was think and the other could hear as clearly as if they were speaking out loud. Their mother learned of their unique gift when they were around the age of six, and made them promise never to tell anyone.
   “Where is our mother?” Will shouted down at Tobin.
   “She’s gone through da portal, but she’s sent me ta fetch ya. Hurry chil’ren. Hurry!” Tobin bellowed with growing anxiety. “We must be quick, or we’ll not get back in time.”
   Will’s growing anger quickly overshadowed his fear. “What have you done with her?”
   “I’ve done nothin’. Promise! Look now. She wanted me ta give dis ta ya. A message from yer mudder.”  Tobin reached into a satchel around his waist and pulled out a crystal ball—about six inches round—and held it in his palm. “Look. Look fer yerself.” He was on his hairy tiptoes, holding the ball up as high as he could.
   Will wasn’t sure what to make of the situation, but he knew if that little man tried anything, he could take him down.
   They cautiously climbed out of the tree, and when they reached the ground, Will stepped forward and took the ball from Tobin’s outstretched hand, pushing Anna behind him.
   “What do I do with this?” he asked, shaking it like a snow globe.
   Tobin grabbed hold of Will’s wrists and steadied them. “Look,” he whispered, then softly blew onto the crystal ball.
   A dim light began to flicker within, and then a figure appeared in its rounded surface. It was their mother.
   “Will. Anna,” she spoke determinedly. “I know you must be frightened, but you mustn’t be. I need you to trust me and listen very carefully. I had to return to my world, but have sent you Tobin, an old friend from years past. He will bring you to me, so do whatever he asks. You can trust him. I’ll explain everything when you get here. Please move with haste, and don’t be afraid. I’ll see you soon. I love you both so very much.” She blew them a kiss and quickly faded.
   “Wait,” Will yelled, shaking the crystal ball. “Mom!”
   But it was too late. Her image had vanished, and the ball was empty.
   Tobin quickly grabbed the ball from Will’s hand and tucked it back into the satchel.
   “Tis only a message. She can’t talk back ta ya,” he said shaking his head. “Do ya see now? Ya must hurry if ya wish ta see her again.” He pivoted and waddled away at a quick pace. “Foller me, chil’ren,” he called back over his shoulder. 
   Will nodded to Anna, deciding to follow, but stayed a cautious few yards behind.
   Before they reached the edge of the woods, Will noticed a giant glowing orb hovering in the doorway of their cabin.
   “We must enter before da portal shuts,” Tobin pressed as he neared the bright sphere. “Come now!” As soon as he touched the light, he vanished.
   Anna stopped, frozen in place as they reached the stairs. “I don’t think we should go. What if it’s dangerous?”
   Will took a deep breath, then exhaled. This was all happening so fast … much too quickly to think clearly or make an educated decision. More than ever, he wished his mother were here.
   The glowing orb’s light dimmed, and a faint, pleading cry called from within.
   “Hurry, chil’ren! If ya don’t come now, ye’ll never see yer mudder again.”
   Will wrestled with his own fears, wondering if they should risk going through the portal. Was their mother really on the other side?
   He sucked in another deep breath, turning his attention to his sister. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but if this is the only way we can see mom again, we have to do it.” He turned to her and held out his hand. “But we have to do it together.”
   She hesitated, her eyes welled with tears.
   “Are you with me?”
   Anna wiped her cheeks dry, then took hold of her brother’s hand. “Yes.”
   Together, they stepped toward the orb.

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