Thursday, May 25, 2017

COVER REVEAL!!- "Amnesia" by Cambria Hebert


Release Date: 
JUNE 12, 2017

Genre: Adult, Suspense, Romance.
 Pre-Order Price: N/A (at time of post)
Goodreads Link: Click Here
I washed ashore in a little lake town.
A place where everyone knows everyone, yet…
No one knows me.
I don’t know me.
If a woman doesn’t know her own name, does she really exist?
I don’t know my natural hair color, my birthdate, or where I live.
I am invisible.
To everyone, to everything, even to myself.
Except to him.
I see the recognition deep in his stare, the way it lingers on my face as if I’m a puzzle he’s desperate to put together.
I just want answers, the truth… knowledge.
His lips are sealed. Still, his eyes beguile me.
I can’t trust anyone, not even myself. Someone wants me dead, the same someone who tried to bury me in a watery grave.
They’ll come for me again… I won’t know their face.
I don’t even know mine.
I am amnesia.
Author's Bio
Author Links: Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.
Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo. 
Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

EPIC SERIES $ALE- Songbird Box Sets by Melissa Pearl

Grab these box sets ASAP so you can catch up or get ready for the epic group read-a-long in a few weeks.

Join the summer event on FB- Click Here
A Songbird Novel Box Set: Books 1-4
(Fever, Bulletproof, Everything, Home)
Price dropped as of May 23, 2016
from $4.99 to $0.99 (that's a 80% Price Drop)
Book Link: Click Here
A Songbird Novel Box Set: Books 5-7
(True Love, Troublemaker, Rough Water)
Price dropped as of May 23, 2016
from $4.99 to $0.99 (that's a 66% Price Drop)
Book Link: Click Here
A Songbird Novel Box Set: Books 8-10
(Geronimo, Hole-Hearted, Rather Be)
Price dropped as of May 23, 2016
from $4.99 to $0.99 (that's a 66% Price Drop)
Book Link: Click Here

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hey, It's A Book Blitz for "Lady of Sherwood" by Molly Bilinski

 by Molly Bilinski
Book 1, in The Outlaws of Sherwood Series
"Lady of Sherwood"
Genre:  Young Adult, Fairy Tales, Fantasy. 288 pages.
Price: $4.99 ebook (at time of post)
Book Link: Click Here
Robin of Lockesly was neither the son her father wanted, nor the daughter her mother expected. When she refuses an arranged marriage to a harsh and cruel knight, the deadly events that follow change her destiny forever. 

After a night of tragedy, Robin and the few remaining survivors flee to Nottingham. With a newfound anonymity, they start to live different lives. There, she and her band make mischief, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. But charity isn’t the only thing she wants–she wants revenge. 

As the sheriff draws his net closer, Robin’s choices begin to haunt her. She’ll have to choose between what’s lawful and what her conscience believes is right–all while staying one step ahead of the hangman. 

Lady of Sherwood is a unique young adult retelling of the beloved Robin Hood legend. Filled with action and romance, this new series follows a teenage heroine through her fantastic, yet dangerous adventures.
Other girls—some of the youngest ones from the kitchen—came from the brush. Smoke clung to them like a shroud, and tears had run in rivers down soot-stained cheeks. Ginny, the youngest at six, ran to Jemma and attached herself like a limpet to the older girl’s legs.
“Where is everyone else?” Robin asked, glancing between them and then back at the flaming manor. “Where is—where’s—” Her face heated even as the rest of her body grew chilled, and she stuffed her first in her mouth to muffle her scream.
“We are the only ones.”
Robin looked up at Kitty, surprised to find herself on her knees in the damp grass. She curled her shaking fingers into fists, and then rested them on her thighs. “How—what happened?”
“That man,” the girl went on, absently twisting her skirt in her hands. “The one who’d been courting you… he came for you in the night. When he couldn’t find you, he gathered everyone in the great hall.”
“Except you lot?” Jemma inquired.
“He was hurting her.” Kitty’s eyes took on a glossy quality. “He had Maggie by the hair, and he was hurting her. She had Ginny behind her, protecting her. I—I hit him over the head with a candle stand.”
“We went through the old tunnel,” another voice piped up. Maggie slipped her hand into Kitty’s. “Me and Kitty and Ginny.”
“And my—my mother?” Robin took a deep, shuddering breath.
“She kept her secret. We heard ‘im, shouting. He wanted to know where you was.” Ginny, this time. She wandered away from Jemma, and Robin opened her arms for her to nestle into. She’d helped Jemma look after the younger servants on the sly for years. Whether they’d been orphaned at birth or left to the streets, Jemma had brought them each back to the manor, and she’d given them a home and a hope the rest of the world didn’t offer. “She didn’t tell, Robin. She didn’t tell him where you was.”
“I heard Charlotte say you were gone,” Maggie said quietly. “She’d gone to your mother’s chambers to tell her. Miss Jemma was gone, too, and so was your bow.” She shrugged, a delicate lift of her shoulders. “We all thought you had gone to the field.”
“And she said nothing?” Robin’s heart beat hard against her ribcage.
“Lady was very brave,” Ginny murmured.
“She was,” Robin agreed. “Like you are. You all.” She looked at each of the other girls, who stared back, clearly waiting.
It hit her then—they were waiting for her. With the only survivors of the manor in front of her, and her mother dead—God rest her soul, God hold them all in His hand—it occurred to her in that moment. She was the Lady of Lockesly.
Robin stood in front of Much, Jemma’s staff in her hands and raised as though she were going to swing for Much’s head. Much, with a look of intense concentration on her round face, gripped a stick and let Jemma reposition her feet and hands as necessary. 
“Steady your weight,” Jemma said quietly. “You want to have a strong base, but you need to be able to move quickly.”
“If I bring this down, you almost want to rise to meet it instead of letting it push you back,” Robin added. 
“Stay ahead of it, then.” Much braced, and Robin brought the staff down slowly enough for Much to anticipate the movement and react accordingly. 
“Balance.” Jemma adjusted her elbow. “The last thing you want is to be knocked on your arse because then you’ve got to dodge the attack and get back on your feet, which is tricky.”
Much smiled wryly. “Is that why Robin shoots them from a distance?”
She giggled. “Probably, but have you seen her when she’s got to use her bow like a staff?”
“It’s a good, solid yew bow.” Robin put a little more pressure against Much’s stick to see what would happen, and grinned brightly when the younger girl stayed strong and balanced. She even pushed back a bit, and Robin’s grin sharpened.
Robin leaned away, slid the staff down her palms to a different grip, and drew back in preparation to jab for somewhere in Much’s midriff. 
“Now, if you’re very quick and confident, then you can swing down and knock it aside.” Jemma guided Much’s hands and arms into the movement, and used the stick to deflect Robin’s attack. It happened slowly, so Much could ease into it. 
“That’s going to hurt if you get hit with it,” Robin said, snapping her arms back as though she were going to try stabbing forward again. “It’s going to crack or break your ribs if it connects, and there’s no shame in jumping out of the way.”
Jemma put her hands on Much’s waist and helped her swerve her hips to the side and out of the line of fire from the staff in Robin’s hands. “Swerve first, and then try to knock it out of the way. If you can somehow knock it out of her hands, that’s great, but usually you won’t get someone to part with their weapon.”
“Especially men,” Robin added. “That’s who you’ll be against, most likely.”
Much froze. 
Robin lowered her staff and rested one end of it on the toe of her boot like she frequently did with her bow. She rubbed the side of her nose and softly said, “It’s…it’s ugly. There’s nothing dignified about it because someone is actively trying to hurt you and your focus is on making sure they can’t.”
She lowered the stick. “And you want to hurt them back.”
“Only to give yourself enough time and space to get away,” Jemma added gently. “If it comes down to it, whether it’s them or you, we’d always rather have you.”
“It’s a difficult choice to make, Much.” Robin reached out and wrapped her fingers around Much’s wrist. “We’d rather none of you lot – you, Kitty, and Maggie – have to make it.”
The implication sunk in a bit, and Much took a deep breath only to blow it out again. “Right.” She readjusted her grip on the stick and raised it once more. “Again?”
“Absolutely,” Jemma said. “Remember what I told you about your elbows.”
Robin smiled sharply and tightened her fingers around the staff.

Molly Billinski
Author Links: Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter.
Molly is a 2013 graduate of William Smith College with a bachelors in chemistry. She puts her science powers to use by day and is a novelist by night (and weekend...and any five minutes she can find). When she's not writing or working, she's scoping out coffee shops, exploring her new city (Buffalo, NY), taking day trips to Canada, and putting together puzzles.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

NEW COVERS REVEALED!!- The After Light Saga by Cameo Renae

by Cameo Renae

The After Light Saga has BRAND NEW covers!!

This series is AMAZING and theses new covers represent the BA heroine who takes care of business in a dangerous world with her trusty friend called hellfire.

Genre: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic Romance.
 Series Link: Click Here
Watch the Official Book Trailer: 

"ARV-3" (Book #1)- Click Here
Price$0.99 (at time of post)
--  --  --  --
"SANCTUM" (Book #2)- Click Here
Price$1.99 (at time of post)
--  --  --  --
"INTRANSIGENT" (Book #3)- Click Here
Price$2.99 (at time of post)
--  --  --  --
"HOSTILE" (Book #4)- Click Here
Price$2.99 (at time of post)
--  --  --  --
"RETRIBUTION" (Book #5)- Click Here
Price$2.99 (at time of post)

Friday, May 12, 2017

NEW BOOK OUT!!- "Resisting Love" by Christine Zolendz

by Christine Zolendz
Author Links: Amazon PageFacebookBlogTwitter, Goodreads.
Penned Series: The Beautiful Series and The Mad World Novels.
AND single novels: Best Man, Suite 269, Here's To Falling and #TripleX.

Book 1, in The Behind Blue Lines Series
"Resisting Love"
Genre: Contemporary Romance. 300 pages.
Price: $2.99 ebook (at time of post)
Book Link: Click Here
To serve and protect... 
That's my job. 
That's who I am, and what I do. 
It's what I've always done. 

 And when she comes back to town,
She's all I want, 
All I need. 

But I know better. 
I refuse to give into my desire. 
I'll never hurt her, 
Never leave her. 

And my job alone threatens it all,
 Threatens everything. 
I have to stay away, 
Otherwise, I'll break her, 
Ruin her, 
And destroy us.
Chapter 2: LIV
         I dropped to my knees next to her and brushed the hair off her face. Pain seared through my insides, wildly screaming down my legs. The bits of broken glass around her sliced like razors into my skin, and something sliced sharply into my upper thigh. I cried out her name as I slipped my fingers along her neck, checking for a pulse. I could barely feel the weakest thrum of movement beneath her skin, but I continued to call out her name as if she’d wake up the minute she would hear it. “Mom,” I yelled, “Mom, get up.” Instantly my eyes blurred with tears. “Mom,” I said again, shaking her shoulder, “Please wake up.” Red drops of blood speckled across her sunken face, deep dark hollows of skin and bones. 
         Something popped loudly on the stove and a burst of sparks whooshed up from the charred pot, engulfing the entire burner in flames. I bolted up instantly. 
         I lunged for the sink, still screaming at my mother to wake up. The smoke alarm went off, with its sharp piercing wails, as I turned on the faucet and let out a stream of water from the side sprayer. It splashed along the backdrop of the stove and across the top of the range, dowsing out the fire with loud screaming hisses.
         His hands batted at the smoke, waving it away as his eyes scanned the entirety of the situation. He rushed to her side, bending down, knee-deep in vomit and blood, gaze focused and professional. He was wearing his uniform, head-to-toe blue, making my insides soft and fluttery.
         Shit. Shit. Shit. 
        “Looks like you gave yourself a nice gash there, Ms. Rhys. I’m calling an ambulance for you,” he said, pulling out his phone. 
          Her eyes turned watery, the whites of them webbed ruby red. She tried to move and moaned in pain. I couldn’t tell if the moan was fake or not, but I was betting she was still so drunk that she couldn’t feel a thing. 
          “Don’t try to move,” he said, sweeping more hair off her forehead, “Wait until help gets here, and then we’ll get you up. Okay?”
           “Liv is here,” she whispered, crooking one finger in my direction. 
           Dean’s head turned toward me, his body suddenly stiffening. “Liv,” he said, with a quick nod. His gaze swooped down my frame and stopped abruptly at my knees. “Whose blood it that? Are you hurt too?” 
           The moment he called attention to the bright red trail up my pants, fire burst along my skin underneath. I looked down and felt my eyes widen. “It… must be from all the glass,” I stammered. 
           His gaze snapped up to mine, pinning me with a steely look. A shiver ran through my shoulders, pins and needles and razors nipped at my legs. 
           My mother moaned again. He gently grabbed her hand, but his eyes never faltered from mine. “What happened?” 
           Was that why he was looking at me like that? He thought I had something to do with this? “I have no clue. Last night her phone kept calling my phone, and I drove all night to get here to see if she was okay.” I waved my hand out in front of me. “This is what I walked into. Same thing as you. Except I had to put out the fire on the stove.” 
            “I didn’t call you,” she groaned from the floor.
            “Yeah, well your ass did. Numerous times,” I said, trying desperately to keep my tone even and calm. I should have never come— but if I didn’t— I didn’t even want to think about it. Besides all the smoke, the kitchen was already so thick with guilt and disgust, it was a wonder any of us could still breathe. 
            “Enough,” his voice ripped through my thoughts, rocking me back on my heels. “Go outside and wait for the ambulance,” his eyes serious and dark. I obeyed like a little girl— not a twenty five-year old woman. 
            At the door, I glanced back, his eyes were still on me, a sharp, sinking feeling weighing against my chest. It ballooned out and spread like liquid heat over my shoulders when I watched his eyes narrow, one eyebrow arched in annoyance. 
Available For Pre-Order ....
"Searching for Love" (Book #2)- Click Here
Pre-Order Price$2.99 (at time of post)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hey, It's A Book Blitz for "Breaker and the Sun" by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

 by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Book 2, in the Paper Stars Novels
"Breaker and the Sun"
Genre: Young Adult, Historical. 325 pages.
Price: $3.99 ebook (at time of post)
Book Link: Click Here
Times means nothing. It’s just the sun and moon changing places. New from Lauren Nicolle Taylor, the best-selling author of Nora and Kettle, comes a fresh take on a classic tale. 

Breaker Van Winkle is a recently returned Vietnam vet, struggling with PTSD and the difficulties of readjusting to civilian life with his mother. Sunny is a high-achieving eighteen-year-old Chinese-French immigrant who fled Vietnam during the war. Sunny is usually as cheerful as her name implies, but she has her struggles too. Haunted by violent memories of the bombing that killed her parents, and chafing under the rule of her eccentric grandmother, she finds solace deep in the Catskills, at a place she calls the Ugly Tree. 

When Breaker stumbles upon Sunny and the Ugly Tree, things start to change. They are drawn to each other, and feel called to the tree. As they spend more time together and their relationship deepens, they notice that their time at the tree is becoming twisted somehow. Sunny’s mind yawns and her ambitions begin to slip away. Breaker feels safe and carefree, his memories finally burying themselves in the distant past. They are being lulled toward a tempting, peaceful sleep—but there is a cost to this magical serenity, and it may be more than either of them can bear…
Walking up the stairs, I pause and bend down, plucking some stubborn weeds from the hard earth. I shake the dirt from them and look at the struggling roots before tossing them in the garden bed. Is he just a jerk? Seems like there must be more to it than that. At least, that’s what I’d like to believe.
I sigh, wishing I could be like Cara sometimes. To stop searching for the reasons behind things and just accept the world for what it is and all the jerks in it. 
The smell of garlic and peanut oil seeps from the front porch, luring me inside and throwing my thoughts into the frying pan. I walk up, my foot hovering over the last cracked bit of peeling concrete. I open my ears and smile wide as I listen to the cackling and coughing coming from within.
“You love my voice, eh?” Ama shouts as metal clatters in musical harmony. 
“I love you to shut up!” Gung grumbles. 
Ama starts humming out of tune. I can picture Gung’s surly expression. His eyes following her around the room like they’re trying to decipher one tiny particle of the code that makes her, but then he’ll give up. We always give up.
I take off my shoes and open the door. 
I’m looking at my rainbow-striped socks when a white china bowl comes flying at my knees. I jump out of the way, and the bowl hits the doorframe and bounces off without breaking. “Ama! What the he…heck?” I manage to avoid saying hell before my intensely religious grandmother slaps me. 
“See, George! Doesn’t break.” She throws another bowl my way like a Frisbee, and I sidestep as it skitters across the cork floor with a clanging marble kind of sound. 
I giggle and step into the lounge, kissing Gung on the cheek, inhaling his sweet tobacco smell just as he runs a hand through his thinning hair and shouts at Ama, “You crazy woman!” 
“It’s Corr Relle!” She says it like it’s two words, not one, and like that should explain her throwing crockery. My eyes turn to the kitchen and the dining set strewn across the floor. Ama stands on her tiptoes in the small spaces between the overlapping plates and bowls, knees bent as if she’s considering jumping out of the mess she’s created.
I put my hand up to stop her. “Ama, let me help you pick all this up.” I kneel and start stacking the plates. 
“Twenty-five percent off, Sun,” she whispers, squatting down on her haunches to help me. She has the balance of a gymnast, leaning her thighs against the back of her calves with ease. Whenever I try to do that, I fall backward. But that could also be because she usually tries to knock me over with the end of a broom. 
Ama grins, all red lipstick and white powder, and I smirk. She looks half like a Geisha and half like a forgotten Beatle with her died black hair and pageboy cut. 
Gung coughs and strains his ears to hear us. “How much you pay for all this?”
Ama winks at me and lies, “Ten dollars the lot.”
He accepts this, although I’m sure he suspects she’s lying. 
After we rise, she places a bowl in front of me at the counter, serving up some sweet corn soup. I lift the spoon to my mouth. 
She asks, “How was rest of day at work. Make any tips?”
“Only from that one guy, you know, the weird one,” I mumble.
She shrugs, turning her back to me to rattle a frying pan on the hob.
I take a sip, swallow, stall… 
I reach for my spoon again, and Ama grabs my wrist. “You mean the army man who gave you hating eyes because you Eurasian?” she asks, narrowing her eyes at me.
I wonder what she’ll say. I never know with her. What side she’ll pick.
“Yeah, that one,” I start, looking to Gung. He has angled his whole body my way, but he hasn’t deemed this conversation worthy of getting all the way out of his chair. I feel more comfortable addressing him. “Though I don’t think it’s because I’m Eurasian, Ama. I think it’s just because I look Asian.”
Ama snaps to attention, grasping my chin and pulling it toward her fierce eyes. “Nothing wrong with way you look. You beautiful Eurasian girl.” She traces under my eyes with her wrinkled finger. “Eyes like watermelon seeds…”
I smile and try to pull back. “He’s a Vietnam veteran. Maybe I reminded him of something bad,” I mutter, defending the guy. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I doubt he’ll come back in again, and I got to keep his change.”
Ama turns to Gung and says proudly, “I gave him my finger. The middle one! But then…he is soldier.” She sighs very loudly. Everything exaggerated. “Maybe we can be generous to him.”
I roll my eyes. Gung rolls his eyes too. The way she flips back and forth is exhausting. 
“Are you all right, Sun?” he asks.
I shake my head. “Nothing a Douglas can’t handle,” I say proudly, sitting up straighter in my seat.
“I saw you roll the eyes at me, Sunny. Rolling around like marble in bowl.” Ama waggles her finger at me, dangerously tipping into a temper. “American soldiers save your life. You should be grateful.”
I know. I remember.
But it wasn’t this exact soldier. It wasn’t his hand that reached for me in the rubble. 
“Maybe when you doctor, you fix all the soldiers,” she announces, and I bow my head to look like I’m agreeing with her.
First, I need to fix what’s wrong with me. 
Gung flicks on the TV, turning up the volume and trying to stop the conversation from happening. The one about college and where I’m going to go, but Ama’s not that easily distracted tonight. 
She comes around the counter to stand in front of me. I look up from where I sit on my stool. “Ama. S’il vous plaît. Please. Can we not have this conversation? I don’t have to decide just yet.”
Gung clears his throat and speaks, softly but firmly. “Annie. Leave the girl in peace. Let her enjoy her good fortunes for one day.”
Ama glares at Gung, and then her gaze settles on me. “You lucky I listen to Gung.”
Gung snorts and waves her over to watch Wheel of Fortune

I know I’m lucky.
An older man in full uniform approaches us, looking stern and judgmental. He frowns at Tien, and I feel like I want to stand and defend him. Tien stands and salutes the older man, whose crinkly face cracks into a smile. “No need to stand on ceremony here, Tien,” he says gruffly, ruffling his spiky black hair. Then he looks at me. “Don’t let his looks fool you! Tien will take care of you. He’s one of the good guys.”
I frown then. Not sure how to take that. Tien doesn’t seem to mind though.
When the old guy is gone, I nudge Tien. “Are you cool with that? I mean, shit, this must be a little awkward for you sometimes,” I mutter, watching all the white men strolling between groups, their uniforms in varying states of spit and polish.
He shrugs. “It was at first. And yeah, looking like I do, I have to work harder at getting some people to accept me, trust me, but once you know me, well…” He gulps down the rest of his coffee and crushes the cup in his hand. “You can’t help but love me!”
It doesn’t seem fair that he has to work harder. “Doesn’t seem right, man,” I say, shaking my head.
Tien knocks my leg with his knee. “Nope, it isn’t. But what you just said. That right there is enough of a reason to keep trying. Things will change. Name by name. Face by face. I like you already, Breaker!” He’s intoxicatingly hopeful.
I run a hand through my hair. Who would have thought I’d be on this side of the argument?
Tien knocks my knee again. His laugh is full of light. Not sunshine exactly. More like the light from a cluster of stars. It sparkles with magic.
Heart steady. A smile, tinted green, but a smile just the same.
The sun hits the sand, and it sparkles. Palm trees bristle in the warm breeze. If I squint, if I look past the stacks of wooden crates piled on the beach, the dirty men draped over them, it looks like a postcard.
I snap that image for later.
Booze is poured into tin cups, and we sip. We wipe our brows of sweat and tell stories, swap the most mundane details of our lives with each other, building something. This foundation we have to rely on.
Kicking my shoes off, I bury my toes in the sand, watching it cascade over my white, shriveled skin. My feet look like they’ve been in a bath for hours.
I’m staring at them when a disk with colored feathers sprouting from it lands at my feet.
I look up into the expectant grin of a kid, about the same age as Red. He beckons me with his hand, asking me to join the game he’s playing with his friends.
Sarge nods an okay.
Towering over these little Vietnamese kids, I jog to where they’re playing. Quickly, I realize the aim of the game is to keep the feathered disk in the air using whatever I can.
The kids are amazing, back-flipping, twisting, slapping at it with their hands and feet. I try to keep up, and they laugh but encourage me to keep trying.
We’re just kids, playing a game.
Our shouting rattles across the waves. We kick and slap at the ball, we laugh when someone falls over, but offer a hand to help them back up.
My smile cracks open my chest as some fear spills out onto the sand to be collected by the sea.
Some of the other guys join us, and we play until it’s too dark to see.
The sun sprays red and orange over the water, and the kid who invited me slaps my back and winks. He hands me the feathered disk and runs away, laughing and shouting at his friends.
Tien taps my back gently. “Breaker. Where’d you go?”
My mouth feels strange, turned up into a smile.
I’d forgotten about that kid. That good memory.
“Sorry. I was just remembering something,” I mutter.
“Must’ve been a good something,” Tien says, pointing at my mouth.
I chuckle. “Yeah, it was.”
First Meeting
Ama drives like a distracted demon, reminding me again that I need to go for my license. She waits until the last moment to turn and then pulls the wheel hard, swinging the car out and making me feel like my lungs are strapped into the backseat and my stomach is hiding in the trunk. I hold the side arm of the door and clutch my heart for the full half-hour journey. 
When we arrive at the grocery store, she slams the handbrake up before applying the footbrake. We lurch forward and then shoot back into the headrests. Once parked, she turns to stare at me, her teeth showing streaks of red lipstick. She holds out her hand. “Give me discount card,” she demands.
I fish it out of my wallet with a sigh. “You can’t bargain at the grocery store, Ama. Okay?”
She fixes her hair and slaps the steering wheel. “Ah baik! Too many rules from you. Can’t bargain. Can’t go to college in New York. Can’t sleep.”
I roll my eyes with my back turned. I know it’s hard for her. As a consulate brat, I spent a great deal of my childhood traveling with my parents between Asia, England, and France. But my grandparents had lived their whole life in Malaysia until the incident. And although they jumped at the chance to come here, I don’t think they realized how different it would be. 
I think my mother always bridged that gap for them. The one between the Western world and their own.
I instantly feel bad for rolling my eyes and link my arm with hers. She leans her head on my shoulder briefly before charging ahead. I trail after her, always scared of what she might do next.
My manager gives me a wary look when we walk through the doors. He knows Ama all too well. He follows a few paces behind her, ready to stop her squeezing the peaches too hard or testing the bounce of the citrus. 
I catch Cara’s eyes as she looks up from her cash register, and she gives me a quick wave and a smile. Her eyes are questioning. I try to somehow communicate with my eyebrows that I got in to Stanford. She adds up her customer’s total, hands them a docket, and then looks back to me. I nod, grinning widely.
“Oh my God!” she shouts, covering her mouth and apologizing to the man trying to pay her. She giggles and hands him his change, making all sorts of strange, excited faces in my direction while she bounces up and down at her station. 
I go out the back and punch in my timecard, one eye on Ama through the window in the door as she fills her trolley with out-of-date frozen yogurt.
When I come out, a tall, scruffy man bumps into my shoulder. He doesn’t look up or even apologize. Just keeps walking down the aisle like he didn’t even see me.
I’m about to yell out when I notice his army greens, and I suppress my reaction. Bursts of light shatter before my eyes and I blink, trying to shake that rubble from my hair. I reach out to steady myself against the shelf laden with Lucky Charms and Coco Pops and take a deep breath. The cool white wire shudders under my grip, and I cough. Dust. Blood. Light. One arm clad in army green, reaching for me, pulling me up and out of the hole.
I squint and focus on the normal things. The monkey on the cereal box. The little leprechaun waving his golden spoon…
Kez, the manager, clears his throat behind me. “Sunny,” he says, his voice brushing away the dust and bringing me back to fluorescent lights and beige linoleum floors. “I need you at the checkout.”
Shaking my head, I whisper, “Désolée. Sorry, Kez.” I wipe the sweat from my forehead. “I’ll be right there.”
He pretends to rearrange stock nearby as I collect myself. 
I take a deep breath, glance once more at the friendly cereal leprechaun, and move to the front. 
Once I’m sitting on my stool, staring at the cash register, I feel okay. I need to focus on the good things. NYU. Stanford. A new bed.
Cara slams the drawer shut on her register and checks for customers, then turns to me. “Did you get the scholarship?”
I grin, my smile a half moon hooked over my ears. “Uh-huh.”
Cara wiggles in her seat and squeals. “Yes! I knew you would, ya smart cow!”
I snort.
Ama sidles up to Cara’s register. “At least she no sound like stuck pig!” she says with a wicked grin as she pokes Cara in the side with her pointy fingernail, tickling her between her ribs.
Cara squeals some more, and she does kind of sound like a pig.
“Oh, Annie, stop!” Cara giggles while trying to reach for the yogurt. 
Ama cackles like a witch and leans in to pinch Cara’s plump face. “Such nice dimples!” Then she shoots me a nasty look. “Sunny too thin for dimples.” Like dimples are a necessary feature and I’ve done something wrong by not having them.
I ignore her and ask Cara, “So what about you?” 
Cara laughs as she packs Ama’s groceries into a bag. “Vassar, baby!”
“That’s so great, Cara.” After I congratulate her, I wait for Ama to respond.
She doesn’t, which means I’m going to hear about it later. Vassar is in New York. Just over a hundred miles away as opposed to thousands.
Cara blushes. She’s worked really hard, and I’m proud of her. “No scholarship or anything, but still… My folks are super happy about it.”
Ama pats Cara on the shoulder. “I been tutoring you for one year now with your French, and you smart girl. You good girl, good daughter too, Cara. Staying close to your family.”
And there it is.
I’m about to snap back at her when the guy in army greens approaches Cara’s counter. Since she’s still busy counting through Ama’s pile of quarters, I wave him over. He shakes his head and holds his place. Ama turns around and faces him, and he takes a step back from her. 
“Sir,” I say with a smile. “She’s going to take a while. Let me serve you.”
He sighs loudly, his broad shoulders pulling up and releasing violently. Reluctantly, he comes to my counter, slamming down a loaf of bread, milk, and a bunch of candy bars like they are about to bite him.
Staring at the black strip in front of us, he mutters, “A pack of smokes.”
“Which brand?” I ask.
“Any,” he snarls.
I jump a little, and he looks up at me. It’s a quick flash of regret balled with sadness that turns to fire like the click of a lighter. I find it hard to look away, his hatred linked to my gaze in chains. I grab a pack of Marlboros and add it to the total. “I, uh, that will be seven thirty-six, sir,” I stutter. “Do you want me to bag…?” I don’t get to finish as he’s already thrown a ten on the counter, grabbed his stuff, and is stalking toward the front door. 
“Keep the change,” he spits. 
The air feels heavy, not with dust for once, but with hate. Cara stares at me, and Ama is starting to turn red hot. 
I clench my fists and relax them, clench my fists and relax. I’ll never get used to it. The hate thrown at me simply because of the way I look. I swallow dryly and click the drawer closed, separating out the change and putting it in the tip jar to share with the others. 
Ama tries to catch up to him, running out the open door, but I can see out the glass that he’s almost running down the street. Like he can’t stand to be within a mile of someone like me, like both of us. 
Tears burn the back of my eyes. I kick the inside of my counter, bruising my toes. I can’t let this get to me. I won’t.
Ama gives a rude gesture to his disappearing back, and I laugh at the image of this little Chinese woman standing in the parking lot, flipping the bird with a bag of out-of-date yogurt in one hand.

I shout out to her, “Ama. Arrêtez! Stop! He’s a vet,” and watch her lower her arms slowly, rigidly, her temper flaring like wings wanting to fly.
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Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.
She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing. 
She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.