Monday, January 2, 2012

The Endings

First I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope that all your hard work comes to fruition.

Now to the contest as promised.

So far, I've done all about the firsts---first page, first romance, first paragraph of second chapter. So, I thought it'd be fun to do the ending.

I chose the ending this time because nothing is more satisfying than reading a great book that ends so awesome that it leaves you...well, satisfied. *smile*

And as the prize, my super awesome agent extraordinaire, Lauren Hammond, is donating her time by giving a first page critique as the prize.

Um...YAY!!!!!!

Go check out Lauren's interview here.

Okay...now to the rules.

1) You have to follow my blog.
2) That's it.

Format your entries as such:

Name: Wanda Writer (Only put your name)

Title of manuscript: The Bestest Book In the Whole World (Only put your title)

150 word description of your story: You know, so we kinda know what's going on.
An example: After years of looking for the big red button to destroy the world, the people of the earth decided living was better than being charcoal briquets and decided it was best to actually not push it. (Only put your description here)

500 word of your super, duper, awesome ending (Please note, this should be the last 500 words of the last chapter. Not of the epilogue.) : 501 words will be to many, 499 words will be up to you, but probably appreciated.

Please post all entries in the comment section.

Contest ends January 8th at midnight. Any entries after that date will be disqualified.

Okay all!! Let's see how your book ends.

Good luck!

31 comments:

  1. Question: If there is an epilogue, do you want the last 500 of the epilogue, or the last 500 of the last chapter?

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  2. Question 2: Do you want entries emailed to you, or posted here in the comments section?

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  3. Assuming you want the entries here. Let me know if not... :)

    Name: Larissa

    Title of Manuscript: That Succs

    Description: When fifteen-year-old romantic Emmy Duivel puts her first date in the hospital—with a kiss—her mother tells her the devastating truth: she’s not human. In order to accept what she is, she must give up her dreams of true love, and her feelings for classmate Paul, who has secrets of his own.

    Last 500 words:
    Paul snorted and ran a hand through his hair. “Damn it, Em. You’re killing me. Why would I say that? Let’s see. I’ve told you I love you three or four times now, but you haven’t once told me how you feel.” He crossed his arms, frustration plain on his face.

    Oh, wow. I really should have seen that coming. This only happens in about every other romance novel I’ve ever read.
    I slid off the bed and walked slowly over to him. He really was annoyed with me, because I had to unfold his arms and wrap them around myself. Remembering how he’d told me in the park, I lifted my hands to his cheeks and gazed into his eyes.

    “Of course I love you, Paul.”

    Relief flashed through his eyes, but it was quickly replaced with distrust. “Why now?”

    “What do you mean?” It was hard to catch my breath. Why didn’t he believe me?

    His eyes narrowed, boring into mine. “Why are you suddenly willing to say it now? Are you just saying it because of what I said?” He pulled a hand through his hair, then gripped my shoulders. “I want you to tell me how you really feel, not what you think I want to hear.”

    Crap. How had I screwed up so badly? “I didn’t say it before because I’m an idiot. And I’m not just saying it because of what you said.” Closing my eyes, I tried to figure out how to say what I felt. I’d always sucked at expressing my feelings, which was why I usually avoided conflict. But I couldn’t avoid this conversation, and I couldn’t afford to mess it up. Taking a deep breath, I opened my eyes and met his. “I’ve had a giant crush on you since you sat next to me in History on the first day of school. When I asked you out and you said no, it crushed me, and I thought it broke my heart. But this—” I took his hand from my shoulder and held it in my own. “What I feel for you now is nothing compared to that. I thought I knew what love was, but it’s more than I could have imagined. It’s bigger than anything I could have read in some romance novel. That’s how I know it’s real.” I lifted his hand to my cheek and held it there. “I love you.” I wanted to say more, but when I opened my mouth to speak, he captured it with his and it was all I could do to just breathe.

    Then he broke the kiss and leaned his forehead to mine. “I love you, too.”

    We had a difficult road ahead of us, and nothing would bring Mom back, but in that moment, hope filled my heart. We had lost so much, but we had each other, and that would be enough. It had to be.

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  4. The last of your chapter, not the epilogue. Please post all entries in the comment section.

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  5. Name:
    Kimberly Lynn Workman

    Title of manuscript:
    The Forces of Heaven and Hell Alike

    150 word description of your story:
    When God goes AWOL, the righteous demon Liam cannot remain an amused bystander. The lead contender for the Heavenly throne is Liam's sworn enemy, the archangel Gabriel. If Gabriel succeeds in taking control of Heaven, everything Liam has is at risk: his position, his life, and most importantly the one being he’s come to love despite their differences. Hiding his centuries-old relationship with the angel Mikael just got a whole lot harder.

    Liam was satisfied to just travel the Midwest on his motorcycle, secretly saving more souls than he condemned, but now Gabriel wants to use Liam's death to prove himself a rightful leader. So the next soldier to go up against Liam will be trained by the best teacher in heaven—Mikael. As Liam watches Mikael struggle to decide how far he can go to protect his lover while also serving Heaven, Liam must save him from making the choice.

    500 word ending:
    A soft gasp broke him out of his trance and he turned to see Mikael laying on the desert floor with his eyes closed, taking pained gasps of breath. Liam raced over to him, hitting his knees and cradling the angel's head in his hands.

    “Please be okay, please,” Liam begged, running a hand over Mikael's cheek. He was soon rewarded with a fluttering of eyelids as Mikael slowly opened them to gaze up at Liam.

    Liam let out a sob as he leaned down and began kissing Mikael's face, his lips touching every inch of skin he could. He could feel the heat against his back as the bright light filled the world around him. Liam closed his eyes, holding tight to Mikael.

    “I chose you,” Mikael said with quiet admission, his hand coming up to grab Liam's injured arm. “It was always going to be you.”

    Liam couldn't speak, as the tears were coming more freely now. He could feel Mikael's touch healing him where Gabriel had inflicted his wound, despite the angel having little energy for his own injuries. Liam sat, holding Mikael as the sobs wracked his body. He didn't know how much time passed, the minutes or hours meaning nothing. All he knew was the touch of Mikael, alive and breathing, in his arms.

    “We have to go,” Mikael said, squeezing Liam's arm. “Help me up.”

    Liam sat back, looking at Mikael, and was met with a soft smile. “It's alright,” Mikael assured him. “Just help me up.”

    Pulling on Mikael's arms, bringing his body up so that he could stand, Mikael let out a soft gasp from the wounds that still lined his body. The injuries had to be taken care of soon, else they continue to bleed out.

    “Get the swords,” Mikael said, pointing toward the area where Gabriel had fallen.

    “Are you alright?” Liam asked, then regretted the foolish question once it was out.

    Mikael just smiled at him. “We have to get out of here. Get the swords,” he said again.

    Liam gave him one last squeeze to Mikael's arm before going over to where Gabriel's body had disappeared. Patches of red stained the desert sand and three swords lay together, crossed one over the other. Liam wondered if the difference in Gabriel's death scene, as compared to his former minions, meant that heaven truly had turned their back on their brother.

    Liam picked up the weapons, then went to where he had dropped his sheath. He could fit two of the swords inside, which he did with his own and Gabriel's, and strapped it to his back. Taking Mikael's sword, he presented it to the angel, who took it and leaned against the blade as a crutch. Liam put Mikael's arm around his shoulders, giving him more support.

    “Come on, let's go,” he said, moving them in the direction of his motorcycle. “We're going to be okay.”

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  6. Name: Alyson

    Title of Manuscript: Marshal Me

    Description:

    Alice has a charmed life. Dead end job cleaning public restrooms for Chicago Transit, a Grade-A loser ex-boyfriend stalking her, and the highlight of her existence—Reed, the sexy voiced US Marshal she met when he misdialed her number. It was a match made in cell phone heaven.

    The probability of her meeting Reed in the flesh is slim, but when Alice walks in on two prison escapees thumping an L-train engineer in the head with a sledge hammer, she becomes the next victim on their hit list. It’s up to Reed to hunt her down and rescue her, US Marshal style—handcuffed and shackled to the backseat of his squad car.

    With her luck, two murderers on her trail and her ex in a jealous rage, Alice may never connect with the man of her dreams. If she could convince Reed to ditch the handcuffs and find the elusive murderers, she might have a chance at true love.

    The Last 500 Words:

    “Well, that was the most unusual manhunt I’ve ever been on,” Janalee sniffled as she packed up her dismantled rifle.
    “I would think you’d appreciate the change of pace,” Reed said.
    “I did. Really, it was a blast, but I’ve never been so invested in the outcome before.”
    “Oh, stop your whining,” Pax said. “This was the most fun I’ve had in years!” He made a move towards me and thankfully he crushed me in a bear hug instead of laying another slobbery kiss on me.
    “Even if you weren’t Reed’s girl, I’d like you,” he said into my hair.
    “Thanks, Pax.”
    Pax released me and Janalee was crying again behind him. She wasn’t the hugging type, but her burst of emotion, even though it made her face twitch out of control, was enough.
    “So, Anderson,” Reed said gripping the youngest Marshal’s shoulder until he flinched. “You still want that transfer?”
    “Please say yes,” Pax muttered.
    I spun around and grabbed Anderson’s arm. “No! Don’t be transferred. Stay!”
    Anderson seemed to be caught like a dear in the headlights, stuck between making a snap decision and trying to function normally.
    “Let him go, Alice,” Janalee said as she wiped her eyes.
    “Are you kidding? Anderson saved Reed tonight. He was the one to take down Kaplan. He can’t go now!”
    Pax and Janalee looked dumb shocked, but Reed gave me an approving nod.
    “You actually fired your gun?” Pax said, his mouth hanging wide open.
    “Do you even know how?” Janalee asked cynically.
    Anderson scowled at the pair, but turned to me with a wan smile. “I don’t think I could say no to you, even if I wanted to. I’ll stay.”
    “I know exactly how that feels,” Reed said wryly. “I’ll send in your evaluation on Monday with my recommendation to stay on with USMS.”
    “I’ll send in the eval,” Pax said pointedly. “I don’t want to see you in the office for a good week.”
    Reed looked clueless for less than a second. “That’s right. I’ll be on my honeymoon,” he said and opened the squad car door for me. “It’s about time I took a vacation.”
    After today, this ‘vacation’ was going to be all about getting Reed out of his bullet-proof vest and keeping it off. Along with his shirt, pants and anything else that got in my way.
    I got in the car and looked back at Reed’s team probably exposing every tooth in my mouth, I was grinning so widely. Janalee was using Pax’s sleeve as a hanky to bawl into and Anderson looked vastly relieved and far more relaxed than I’d seen him all day. Reed got in and took my hand, tethering me back to earth.
    “Where to, Alice?” Reed said jovially as he switched on the siren and pulled out of the alley.
    “Home.” The word rolled off my tongue as if it had belonged there all my life. And wherever Reed was, it would be home to me.

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  7. Great contest and great idea! Can't wait to see the entries.

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  8. *Note: Changed hero's name in order to prevent any major spoilers*

    Name: Kimberlee Turley
    Title: NOTE TO SELF

    Description: Gracie Heart gets turned out of the New York orphanage in which she was raised since childhood. Rather than taking a dead-end job at a local chicken factory, Gracie steals a ride on a circus train in hopes of traveling to Chicago to search for her last living relatives. When she gets caught, she is given a job as the magician’s assistant.

    After every performance, Gracie finds threatening notes hidden in her circus costume, eerily in her own hand writing. While unraveling the mystery of the notes and surviving the notes’ omens, Gracie discovers that even if she never reaches Chicago she isn't without family.

    Last 500:
    Robert flourished a ruby heart-shaped gemstone in a gold setting from his cupped hand and Gracie threw her arms around his neck. He took her into his greedy arms, swinging her around in a circle. Even after he set her down, the room still spun.

    A soft sigh escaped his lips once he slid the ring on.

    She raised her brow slightly. “Was that a sigh of relief?”

    “Indeed. I was worried you’d not find the stone large enough to suit your tastes, or me rich enough. Especially when I take into consideration how you fancy four-dollar trunks and ruining my dress shirts.”

    Gracie smiled coyly, grabbing Robert’s pillow from the bed behind her and giving him a well deserved thumping with it.

    In hindsight, now lying pinned to the floor with his perfect body straddled on top, she should have known better than to think he could be bested in a pillow fight.

    Feathers littered the floor like the entire pigeon population of Central Park decided to hold their seasonal molt in Robert’s room. And somewhere in Rochester, a poor girl was already pulling the feathers off another chicken to refill it. Gracie hoped it was the red-headed girl who’d put tree sap in her hair four years ago.

    Robert kissed her once on the forehead, then helped her to her feet. His hands came to rest on her hips. She batted her eyes, and he took the bait. Leaning closer, he whispered into her ear, “I should warn you now, that I’m declaring a line of demarcation at my belt. Touch anything below my waist, including my pockets and feet, you may find you’ve automatically forfeited your virtue. Until I figure myself out again, I can’t guarantee to be a perfect gentlemen if you tempt me.”

    “I trust you,” she murmured, playfully walking her fingers on the buttons of his shirt toward his equator.

    He braced his forehead against hers as she slid her hands around his waist and pulled him closer. Tracing his chest with her finger, she slid her hands under the hem of his shirt. His eyes fluttered closed and his face reflected an inner struggle of furtive concentration.

    Before she had a chance to pull his shirt off over his head, he grabbed her hands, tilted her head back to meet his lips, and stole her breath away with an adoring kiss.

    He tasted like sunlight—a bright Australian sunrise and sunset.

    Sound, sight, and touch blurred into one physical sensation. It was the blue color of the sky, or the taste of wine, or the feeling of being kissed—a mesh of experiences anyone could relate to, but that no two people could describe exactly the same. For her, it was the moment God put the spark of life in Adam. She was home.

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  9. (Pen) Name: Carrie-Anne Brownian

    Title: Little Ragdoll

    Description: As she grows up in the Lower East Side and Hell’s Kitchen during the tumultuous Sixties and early Seventies, Adicia Éloïse Troy is buoyed by the loving bond she shares with her sisters, friends, and one decent brother. Adicia dreams of one day leaving her poor class origins behind and finding someone from the outside world who will love her just the way she is. Along the way, she inspires a #1 hit song after a chance encounter, learns that sometimes the truest, strongest, most lasting love bonds come when one grows instead of falls in love, and finds the inner-strength to get through the nightmare that’s delivered to her after she finally thought she was getting a happy ending. Happy endings are always sweetest and most appreciated when you had to earn them and didn’t have them handed to you on a silver platter, after all.

    Ending:

    The waters of the Palazzo Rio look calm and smooth, though Adicia is still uncertain, particularly when sunset isn’t too far off. If there should be turbulent waters or another boat coming at them, the gondolier will never be able to see and do something in time to rectify the situation. Her heart is beating very fast as Ricky helps her into the gondola.

    “You don’t mind engaging in a little public display of affection in front of our gondolier, do you, if he happens to look our way?” he whispers as they take their seats.

    “What? I wouldn’t do that unless it’s too dark for him to see us. You know I don’t do that in front of other people. It’s too personal and private. I don’t want anyone, no matter who it is, being privy to such a personal thing.”

    “Well, you don’t get a choice,” he grins. “You’re gonna have to let me kiss you when our gondola goes underneath the bridge that’s coming up. You wouldn’t deny your husband this one wish on his own birthday, would you?”

    “Is there a superstition associated with that?”

    “It’s called the Bridge of Sighs. It was given the nickname by Lord Byron in the last century. He believed convicts got their last sight of the beautiful city of Venice while passing underneath the bridge, even though that theory wasn’t historically accurate. The name stuck, though.”

    As the sky fills with the beautiful colors of the setting sun and the gondola passes underneath the bridge, Ricky leans over and kisses her, the same sweet, gentle way he did at the county fair two years ago. Adicia nervously smiles at him, hoping the gondolier didn’t see anything.

    “What was that for?”

    “The legend says that if you kiss your beloved on a gondola going underneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, you’ll be together, blissful, and in love forever, and will have a happy, blissful marriage. You want that, don’t you? After what we went through in our first year of marriage, I’m not taking any chances, superstition or not. I wanna be with you forever.”

    “That is a beautiful legend,” she smiles. “There’s no one else I’d wanna spend the rest of my life with.”

    “Remember how we rode on the tunnel of love as our last ride of the day at the county fair the last day we had together before I was taken away from you? You made a comment about how ironic it was that the waters ahead of us were so smooth when in real life they were anything but. Now the waters are smooth in every way.”

    “It would be delusional to think the rest of our lives will be just as smooth sailing, since no one’s life is perfect all the time, but we’ve both been through the worst. It’s all behind us. Now the rough first nineteen years of my life truly are nothing but troubled water under the bridge.”

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  10. Followed :)

    Name: Jami Montgomery

    Title: Knight's End

    Description:
    Aston Smith, Knight of Fridel, has been assigned to capture the Rogue Royal, a murderer killing corrupt monarchs. He leaves Fridel when he is accused of letting the Rogue escape, and is sentenced to hang.
    He meets Jade du Halen and begins travelling with her, though he doesn't know she is the princess of a neighboring kingdom, and knows nothing of the dark secret she harbors. Or that she ran away from Adion to avoid an arranged marriage to the Marquess of Northsbury.
    The two travel, searching for clues and slowly falling in love. But can they really catch a practiced murderer, save Aston’s life, and keep Jade from having to marry Marquess Jacob? Especially when so many others are determined to stand in their way?

    500 words of ending:
    “What about your father?” she asked him.
    Talbot shrugged. “What about him?”
    Jade smiled and pulled Talbot into a hug before standing and going to her wardrobe. She grabbed a bag and quickly packed it. She would have laughed at the irony of the situation if she wasn’t so sad.
    “How do we go without being noticed?” Talbot asked her.
    The princess glanced at her window and smiled. “I have an idea.”
    An hour later, she’d been to the throne room and retrieved Aston’s satchel, telling her mother and father that she needed it to part with her feelings. Her father had objected, but the queen had been more than happy to allow Jade to take it. Now, she was climbing down the grey walls of the palace backwards, holding onto the rope from Aston’s grappling hook. Talbot had gone through the palace and out the front door, his hurt shoulder not allowing him to climb down.
    As soon as her feet touched the ground, Jade felt her heart lift a bit. She’d felt too cramped, being inside the palace. The place that had once been her home held nothing but bad memories. She turned to take one last look at it before blowing a kiss to the moss covered walls and to her knight, who was still somewhere inside. Then she turned and followed after Talbot, racing him to the stables. She tacked her horse slowly, watching as Sebastian helped Talbot tack Red and then gave the prince a hand up.
    “Can you ride with one arm?” she questioned.
    Talbot smirked at her. “How do you think I travelled here?” he answered.
    Jade watched in awe as the prince maneuvered his big bay with his knees, holding the reins in only one hand. She smiled at him before finishing Sterling and mounting. Sebastian handed her Edward’s reins as well, and she smiled down at him.
    “Leaving again, Princess Jade?” he asked her, a twinkle lighting up the old man’s eyes.
    Jade nodded and leaned down to kiss the man on his wrinkled cheek. “Thank you, Sebastian, again,” she told him. She followed Talbot out of the stables and onto the path leading away from Adion. Talbot broke Red into a run and Jade followed, urging Sterling faster. Aston’s satchel bounced against her back as she rode, and she felt comfortable, having him so close.
    She vowed to herself that she would catch Aston’s murderer or die trying. She was grateful to have Talbot to help her, and she knew Delgrab, Alys, and even little Richie would do all they could to help as well. She clung to Aston’s sword, which she held in her lap, laid across the saddle, and smiled. She would learn to fight with the blade. She would become strong and agile, quick and sure-footed. This would be her weapon from now on. It had been chosen for her.
    Chosen for her at her Knight’s End.

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  11. Name: Christy Hintz

    Title: BITTERSWEET

    Description:

    BITTERSWEET is a 56,000 word novel about a seventeen-year-old girl who survives having snotty friends long enough to ditch them and make new ones—until the ex-friends play a prank that causes her to lose the only real friends she ever had. Friendless and suspended, she doesn't expect to find the peace she's craved since her parent's divorce seven years before. However, through the loyalty of a boy (who’s not her boyfriend) and an old man struggling with the onset of dementia, she realizes her happily never after story can end with a promising once upon a time.

    Ending:

    I raised my eyebrows.
    “Since we’re baring our souls here, I have something to tell you, too.”
    I didn’t budge, waiting to hear what his melodic voice would tell me.
    He shook his head.
    This time I wouldn’t let him off the hook.
    “On second thought, maybe I’d better follow your lead. I’m not all that eloquent of a speaker.” And he drew me to him for another round of blissful kisses.
    “Mhmm. You do, however, have an eloquent way of using your lips. Oh, and your singing and guitar playing are almost equivalent. And you are amazing at both.”
    This time he didn’t blush. “Well, I’m thinking up a new song as we speak. Or maybe when we don’t speak.”
    More warm, toe-tingling kisses.
    “Bring your guitar and the telescope next time we sit around the fire.”
    “That is a very good idea.” He kissed the tip of my nose. “Isn’t this what we’re supposed to do after our date?”
    “There’s no harm in being unconventional.”
    “You’re right. It’s my favorite way to be.”
    “But I am starving, and we don’t want to miss the movie.”
    He held my hand and walked me through the falling snowflakes to his car.
    While I buckled up, he said, “Oh, I forgot to give you this.” He handed me a baggy. “Grandpa gave it to me. Said you could use it when you’re ready to find yourself as a geologist. He thought it might help you make some impressive findings.”
    I took the baggy. “What is it?”
    Dane shrugged. “He said it was a little piece of heaven.”
    Sure enough. On one side of the plastic, the words “Janice’s Little Piece of Heaven June 2008” were written neatly in black marker. Inside the bag was a small chunk of rock, the size of a fifty cent piece.
    “Oh. My. Thank you.”
    “You’re thanking the wrong person, but I can pass it along.”
    “No. I can tell him myself.” I traced his profile with my eyes. “But thank you for sticking with me. Even though I didn’t deserve it. I never thought I was the judgmental type, but I was.” All along I’d been as critical and mean as The Terrible Trio had been to me.
    He squeezed my hand and reversed out of my driveway.
    As we drove through the white-covered streets, I thought about Ashleigh and how I knew this time she’d be happy for me, whether she had a boyfriend or not.
    “You know. I’ve been wrong about a lot of people, including myself.” I looked over at him. “Including you. Luckily, my sorry self figured out how to see people for who they are. Even Ashleigh. There’s more to her than I ever knew, and we were friends for a long time. But, even way back when I thought she was less, she was right about something.”
    “What was that?”
    “I needed to grow up.”

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  12. Name: Rachael Harrie

    Title: FROM THE OTHER SIDE

    Description:

    When seventeen-year-old Verity Ronson learns her twin sister’s ventilator is about to be yanked out, she vows to stop it. When she runs out of options she turns to her ex-boyfriend and his freaky Dark Magick coven for help, only to find herself betrayed to her death.

    Verity wakes as a ghost with one thing on her mind. Revenge. The coven members took her life and her only chance to save her sister. For both those things, they’ll pay. Naked and with only a voice in her head to keep her company—who cares if that makes her crazy—Verity sets out to cross her murderers off the face of the earth. But her world becomes darker and drenched in blood and Verity loses control of her powers. When innocent people start to die, she realizes that killing isn’t the hardest part. It’s finding a way to stop.

    Ending:

    I lay on the bed beside Audrey and slowed my breathing until my chest rose and fell in the same measured pattern. Once we breathed in unison, I reached out, found our connection, and followed it back to deep within her.

    Light in a rainbow of colors rippling in waves. A joining. Completeness. A sense of coming home.

    I opened my eyes. Light assaulted me but I blinked until the pulsing white of my vision changed to a softer, less-painful shade of pale gray. I waited more. The room materialized bit by bit until finally I could see again.

    I gagged and tried to swallow but someone had rammed an iron rod down my throat. I couldn’t swallow, couldn’t breathe, started to panic. I needed the rod out, but when I tried to speak no words would form.

    My mouth was dry. Thirsty. Had to get the rod out.

    I was going to suffocate, was going to die, couldn’t breathe.

    Help.

    My heart sped up. Machines beside me beeped.

    I turned my head in an agony of effort and saw Michael through a hazy cloud. He stirred in his sleep, turned his head from side to side, and sat upright with a grunt. Our eyes met and my heart beat faster. I couldn’t smile, couldn’t tell him I loved him.

    Couldn’t breathe.

    An alarm sounded somewhere above my head.

    I tried to cover my ears but I couldn’t move my arms. People ran toward me, voices shrieking, too loud when my ears were so sensitive they heard the noise of Michael’s swallow as he jumped out of his chair. I couldn’t focus on any one voice, couldn’t identify what they were saying. A nurse leaned over me, one whose face I recognized from the hours I’d spent at Audrey’s bedside.

    “Audrey? Can you hear me? Auds honey, stay with me.” Michael’s words were nearly lost in the babble of voices yelling about too much stress and comas and ventilators. Everyone was saying the same name. The wrong name.

    Audrey.

    My name now.

    A gentle voice murmured in my ear—the nurse. “We’ll take the ventilator out as soon as we can. Just relax. Don’t fight it.”

    I struggled to move, struggled to lift my hand, to reach out to Michael, whose face stared at me over one of the nurses. They’d shoved him in the corner and told him to stay out of the way. I could see how scared he was, and how hopeful, and how scared he was of being hopeful. One of his girls had come home.

    I felt a light touch on my cheek. It took all my strength but I turned my head to the side. Just enough. Luke stood there, smiling at me, his eyes shining. He ignored the bustle in the room, the nurses who brushed unseeing by him while they worked to unhook me, and everything else except me. “You did it,” he whispered.

    I smiled. Audrey smiled. I smiled.

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  13. Name: Jenny Kaczorowski

    Title of manuscript: THE ALTERAE

    Description: 16-year-old Emma must master her unwanted ability to manipulate emotions to destroy a creature known as a Soul Eater and save Alex, the boy she loves.

    Ending:

    Emma nudged the porch swing back and forth with one foot, the other tucked under her. A warm, intoxicating electricity crept along her skin and she smiled expectantly.

    “Hello, Alex,” she said, turning to face him. He stood at the top of the stairs and pushed back the hood of his coat, shaking the rain from his hair.

    “How did you know it was me?” he asked.

    “I always know when you’re near.”

    He sat beside her and the wooden swing creaked.

    She laid her head against his arm and felt the emotions rolling through him. “You heard something?”

    He nodded. “I have to go back to California. I leave in the morning.”

    “Is it something I did?”

    He laughed. “No, Emma. If anything, you proved you don’t need me. Whoever you are, whatever your role is in this dark world, we all underestimated you. You’ll be fine, with or without me.”

    She laced her fingers through his. “Do you have a new mission?” she asked.

    He let out a puff of air. “Not exactly. I have more training.”

    “You sound surprised.”

    “It’s an honor,” he said, but he spoke with resignation.

    Emma squeezed his hand. “We both know you’re meant for more than West River.”

    “I don’t want to leave West River,” he said, brushing his thumb over the back of her hand. “I don’t want to leave you.”

    “I don’t want you to leave.”

    “It won’t be forever,” he said. “And no matter where I am, my heart will always be here,” he laid his hand against her chest. “With you.”
    “And I will always wait for you to come home.”

    The sky brightened as the fresh, rain-soaked air brushed the clouds aside.

    “Are you tired?” Alex murmured. “It’s almost morning.”

    “No,” Emma said. “I don’t want to lose a minute.”

    “Me neither.”

    He pulled her into his arms and they held each other, feeling closer than they’d ever felt before. The bond they shared went deeper than words could express and in the silence, they said more than a thousand conversations could hold.

    The sun rose in a brilliant burst of color. The somber cooing of mourning doves broke through the silence. Soon the whole morning came alive with song.

    Alex stood at last and Emma followed him to the edge of the porch. He turned on the top stair to face her.

    “Do you know what my first thought was when we met that day in the woods?” he asked.

    “No idea,” she said with a faint smile.

    “I hoped I’d never have to say goodbye to you again.”

    “Then don’t say it.”

    A smile blossomed across his face, lighting his dark, inscrutable eyes.

    “I’ll find you when I come home,” he said with a grin.

    He leaned in to kiss her, the kind of kiss that would burn in her memories for the rest of her life. She opened her eyes and he was gone, like a beautiful dream fading in the morning light.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Name: Cynthia Elomaa

    Title of Manuscript: The Tournament

    Description:

    Tony knew making a new life for himself wasn’t going to be easy, but things start to get complicated when Tico, Tony’s brother steals money from the gang that is needed to pay off a debt. Miguel, the leader of the gang turns the gang against Tony in his search for Tico and in his efforts to keep his new friends safe Tony tries to distance himself from everyone. Tony doesn’t know who he can turn too or who he can trust. He misses his gang of brothers more than he thought, he is worried about Tico, and he can’t seem to stay away from Michelle. Rumors are saying Tico is in trouble, but Tony can’t reach him and he doesn’t know how. He just prays Tico finds him before Miguel does.

    Ending:

    “Where are you going ass hole?” Miguel followed me.
    “Just nervous energy. Do you want me to stop?” I asked talking more to Mark then Miguel.
    “Stop there. Good.” Mark said in my ear.
    “Knock it off Tony, and hand King the money.”
    “I'd love too.” I said then there was a pop, and Miguel went down. I ran for Michelle and grabbed her before she fell to the ground. I turned to see Tico twist King's arm behind his back and pushed him to the against the wall. I kept my eyes focused on King. Older or not the man was in good shape and I knew he wasn't going to let it go that easily. King pushed against Tico throwing him off of him. He turned and charged at Tico.
    “Are you alright?” I asked Michelle as I untied her hands and took the gag out of her mouth.
    “I'm fine.” Michelle threw her arms around me. I pushed them away. “Sorry, I'll be right back.” I looked around for Philippe as I got up but couldn't find him anywhere. I ran over to Tico to help him out.
    I watched as King swung at Tico who lost his footing hit his head and fell to the ground. On instinct I jumped at King. He saw me coming though and swung at me getting me in the ribs. It almost winded me, but I stood right back up ready to block. He swung at me again, I ducked. The room slowly was trashed as valuables got broken, tables were smashed, instruments fell. Suddenly there was a loud bang and the doors blew open, smoke filled the room; then the cops came in yelling and screaming for everyone to get down. I would have gotten down as instructed if King didn't have me in a head lock trying to gouge out my eyes. Suddenly King was pulled off of me, I dropped to the ground gasping for breath. Once the smoke cleared enough I saw two police men walk King out in hand cuffs. Miguel still lay on the floor where we left him. I felt arms wrap around me and pulled Michelle in close to hug her. I looked around the room to find Tico. I found him on the other side of the room being put on a gurny. Philippe finally found was next to him. He face was all beat up but he was smiling at me. I walked over to see where he was hurt.
    “It's okay. It's just my shoulder. I'll be fine.”
    “I keep getting you shot.”
    “Yeah, it's okay, I'm getting used to it.” I laughed as I took his hand and squeezed it.
    “It's over.” My voice sound far away to me.
    “Hey, now you too can concentrate on getting your life in order.” Philippe smiled.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  16. Name: Bonnie Rae

    Title of Manuscript: Nether Bound

    Description:

    On the outside looking it might seem as if seventeen year old Ava Walker had everything a girl could ask for. She had tons of friends, was captain of the cheer squad, and could easily have any guy she wanted. Popularity was easy. Lying about her entire life wasn’t. Ava had a huge problem. Her stepfather Mark was an alcoholic psycho who beat her mother for pure sport. And lately the beatings were getting worse. Ava feared it wouldn’t be long before she found her mother dead. She wished Mark would just die, and then he does. Just when Ava thought they were safe dear old daddy comes back and he is hungry for revenge.
    Be careful what you wish for.

    Ending:

    Christa had fallen asleep in my arms and silently I was glad. I didn’t think I could handle saying goodbye to her again.

    “I will go make sure everything is in order.” Kaine said sensing I wanted a minute with my little sister.

    She looked so pure, so innocent napping in my arms. Part of me wanted to wake her, but the other part new better. It would be easier this way. She would call out for me and knowing I wouldn’t be there broke my heart.

    I hoped she slept until she reached my mother. With one hand I took the locket from my neck and placed it around hers. I ran my thumb across the Saint Christopher medal that now accompanied it. I had to believe they would be safe, that Devon would act in my place and guard them with his life.

    “Ava, it’s time.” Kaine said.

    I nodded and slowly approached Devon’s waiting arms.

    “I knew you’d make it,” He said. His green eyes were still full of love and warmth.

    “Devon,” I sighed and glanced down at Christa.

    I didn’t have to ask.

    “I promise.” He said reaching out for her.

    My chest heaved and the tears fell before I even recognized the emotion. I’d always been her protector. I didn’t know how to allow someone else that duty.

    “It’s okay Ava,” Kaine said, putting a reassuring hand on my back.

    I had to do this. It was the only way, even though it still felt wrong.

    I had to save her.

    “I love you peanut.” I said kissing her forehead ever so lightly so as not to wake her.

    Devon gently took her from me and I silently prayed for strength.

    “I’m always with you.” I whispered in her ear before forcing myself to turn away.

    “We’ll come for you,” Devon said.

    I couldn’t bring myself to look at him.

    “Just keep them safe.”

    I knew they wouldn’t come for me. That wasn’t part of the deal. Even if they wanted to they would all die trying to save me and that was too big of a risk.

    “Just keep them safe,” I repeated, this time barely above a whisper.

    “With my life.”

    He’d said that before. I just hoped this time he really meant it. Deep down I knew he did. I knew Devon would do anything for me and for my family. I felt a rush of wind and then just like that, they were gone.

    She was gone.

    I didn’t even have time to rethink the process before I felt Lucifer’s chains binding me. All the warmth faded from my body and my knees buckled. My body collapsed and darkness flooded my mind. I tried to fight it. Every ounce of my niphilim blood refused this invasion, but it was helpless.

    My life was over.

    “Welcome home.” Lucifer’s voice roared.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Name: Jordan Mierek

    Title of manuscript: KISTISHI ISLAND

    150 word description of your story: Sixteen-year-old Serena Cole can kick serious butt thanks to young women only she can see. School bullies aren’t a problem, but Serena’s mental health might be. To shield Serena from a dark secret, her family tries to convince her that her friends are imaginary.

    Fleeing her distrustful aunt, Serena joins her mother on an archeological dig at Kistishi Island. There, Serena discovers an ancient scroll and realizes her invisible friends have never been imaginary; rather, they are goddesses native to the island, and they are in danger of enslavement for their abilities. The queen of Kistishi craves their powers so she will never have to bow to deities again. Only Serena can save her friends if she can discover the past her family has hidden her entire life – the reason why only she can see the goddesses.


    500 words:
    January settled into the sand by Serena’s head to preen her matted hair.
    “You know something,” Serena whispered. “I think I’m gonna be okay with leaving my mom here, because I’ll always have you guys. Forever.”
    “Forever,” Wahrheit, the Goddess of Truth, said.
    A light streaked across the sky. Serena wondered if it was one of the fleeing Kistishian Gods or Goddesses.
    “Dear Dad,” she said. “I found you, but I don’t think this is where my life is.” Although she didn’t want to stay with him, a stranger, she couldn’t wait to give him the letters that remained in her notebook.

    #

    Her father sat on a long sofa of red velvet, a glass of merlot in his hand. His dark skin mingled with his pale purple eyes. His black hair, with a few streaks of gray, was fastened at his neck in a queue. He wore white pants, a white blouse, and a jeweled belt. She’d never seen any man so handsome.
    Serena stood across the room, the letters clutched in her hand, her heart racing.
    “Dad?” The word dropped from her mouth to plink the floor.
    He coughed into his fist. “If you feel comfortable calling me that, all right.”
    “I never thought I’d really have a dad.” She studied his face, recognizing her nose and eyes in his. “I used to hope you were still alive, but then, I knew it was impossible, and it was silly of me to think that.”
    “I never knew you existed.” He stared into his merlot. “I apologize for that. If I’d known, I would have found you.”
    “Don’t blame Mom. She didn’t mean to make trouble.” Despite her faults, Sophia was still her mother. Serena couldn’t find hatred in her heart for the woman.
    The king lifted his gaze. “I could never hate your mother. I hope we can become closer now.”
    “I hope so, too.” Serena giggled. Her father was supposed to marry Sophia now. She would have actual parents, even if they lived on an island far away.
    Silence fell. He took a sip. She studied an ocean painting on his beige walls. “Is this your office?”
    “My thinking room.” He rose from the sofa and crossed the room to a table of bottles. “Would you like a drink? I have mango juice.”
    She licked her lips. “That would be great. Thank you.”
    He poured orange liquid into a glass and held it out to her. “Come join me. I would like to hear about your life.” When she accepted the drink, he rested his hand on her back to lead her to his sofa. “I want to learn how to be a…dad.”
    Serena grinned. “I wrote these for you. I was going to burn them, because Krieg said that’s how you talk to the dead, but she was going to do it and she never did. Maybe she was going to actually give them to you.”
    “Maybe.” He accepted her bundle. “We’ll read them together.”

    ReplyDelete
  18. Name: G. Donald Cribbs

    Title of manuscript: The Packing House

    150 word description of your story:
    Sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener's vicious nightmares return and force him to face a problem he thought had to do with his parents’ divorce. Driven by an embarrassing viral video of himself in study hall where he fell asleep, Joel must figure out who or what is the source of his bad dreams, before his brother Jonathan joins the school crowd, driving Joel further into isolation. Running from his problems solves nothing. For Joel, it earns him a full, psychological exam.

    His ally through it all is Amber Walker, childhood friend and kindred spirit, who also happens to be the only girl he’s ever loved. Amber is conflicted. A true friend would help Joel lose the bad-boy reputation he’s recently acquired. But Amber doesn’t want another broken boy, regardless of how long they’ve been friends. Joel must find a way to overcome his brokenness, or lose Amber forever.

    500 word ending:
    We allow our bodies to press together, follow our instincts, lips touching with electric crackling energy—we’ve put this off far too long. We crash like the waves pooling at our feet. I lose all sense of time, nothing else matters but this moment we share. She kisses me back as much as I kiss her. I find myself gasping to catch my breath. She lets out a faint sigh.
    I no longer notice the sun, large and fiery, sinking into the horizon.
    The water has risen to our hips. We come to our senses, and realize the sun has gone from yellow to orange to a deep crimson red and the sky has deepened to the blue of twilight.
    We laugh, two drunk swimmers having found a sunken treasure, traveling far to reach land and air again. This finally seems right. I know it in my gut, the stomach-flutter quivers of two stones crashing together, the beginning spark of love. We climb out of the water, and up the beach, stumbling, but happy to have found new hope together.
    #
    That night, when I push out in the boat of sleep, away from shore, I travel to the middle of the lake. I have been here before. This lake. This boat. It is as familiar to me as blank lines on a page waiting to be filled. But, something has changed.
    When I look to the shore, expecting to see him, no one is there. My younger self is no longer there either.
    I return to the shore. There are signs in the dirt of a scuffle, so I know we have been here, but somehow, I got away. As I start to walk away from the pond, I am surrounded by darkness, then a flicker, a flame far off. I head in that direction. Something draws me toward this light.
    Then, I sense the ground has changed.
    I walk on stone. Before me, a corridor juts out, torches ensconced at regular intervals. I follow the passage until it reaches a corner. When I turn, I realize where I am.
    The stairwell.
    I start down the stairs. But, as I begin to go down, it occurs to me I don’t have to keep going down. I could turn around, and head back up. Only, I don’t. I want to know for sure. I reach the bottom and turn the corner into the crypt. The two rooms are dark, empty.
    I am alone here.
    So, I finally do what I should have done long ago. I head back up the stairs, and keep walking, never looking back.
    #
    Sunlight, golden and comforting, greets me. A new day, a fresh start, as forgiveness washes over me. I soak it in, take my time before I gather myself up, and prepare to stand once more. My eyes open. I am alive. Today is a day for letting go.
    And then, I know with certainty, I will rise again. THE END

    ReplyDelete
  19. Name: Lisa Collicutt

    Title of manuscript: The Devil’s Flower

    Description:
    A runaway, Rosalie Lockwood finds the Fallen Paladins motorcycle club lead by twenty-year-old Darkstar. She is quickly accepted into the fold. Soon after, it is revealed that she is the one they fear—the one who bears the mark of the one who will destroy them and their kind.
    Rosalie is a fledgling—called to destroy all neophytes: half-human, half-demons, as is the charge of all half-human, half-seraphs. Darkstar’s neophyte brethren are reluctant to believe that Rosalie’s sudden appearance is a fluke and begin to mistrust her. Darkstar insists she can trust him and if necessary, he will kill his fellow neophytes.
    By now Rosalie can neither deny who or what she is, nor her deep love for Darkstar. The only way to prove to the neophytes that she’s not the killer they fear is to save their souls. But in order to do that, she must become soulless herself.

    Last 491 words:
    Later that evening, after a mild protest from Rose, Darkstar snuck her away from the party, telling her he had a surprise for her.
    Blindfolded by Darkstar’s hands, she was led to a dimly lit corner of the garage. When he released her, her eyes flew open and she gasped. In front of her was Jade’s glossy black Harley. The only art was the name, Jade painted on one side of the gas tank.
    “It’s yours,” he said, his tough voice edged with rare excitement. “Of course I’ll buy you a new one, but I thought this would be good to practice…”
    “I don’t want a new one.”
    Rose was staring at the new-to-her bike. She knew how hard of a decision it would have been for Darkstar to give it to her. It would mean she’d be on the road almost every day, riding her own motorcycle, living dangerously like the rest of them.
    She twisted her neck to look at him, her fingers stroking Jade’s name. “I mean, it would be silly to let this perfectly good bike go to waste. I love it.” And she did.
    “I can get Patch and Thorne to give it a custom paint job,” he suggested thoughtfully.
    She shook her head. “Maybe they can paint my name on the other side of the tank instead.”
    Smiling, he nodded. “Get on. See if it fits.”
    From the bottoms of her feet to the tips of her fingers, it fit her like everything else of Jade’s—like it was made for her.
    “Can I cry now?” As she said it, she blinked releasing a tear from each eye.
    Darkstar straddled the seat behind her, sliding his arms around her waist. Rose leaned against him, resting the back of her head on his shoulder, perfectly content.
    “You know, most girls would have wanted all new everything.”
    “I’m not most girls.”
    “No you’re not. You’re my delicate Rose. And I love you.” He breathed the words against her neck, working his way to her eagerly awaiting lips.
    Rose twisted the upper half of her body until their faces met. “And I love you.” Darkstar’s hand had worked its way under the front of her t-shirt, flattening out on her stomach. “But I’m not so delicate.”
    Their cheeks brushed lightly together. His lips lingered a fraction from hers. “You’ll always be delicate to me. And I’ll work extra hard for the rest of my life to keep you safe, because I can’t imagine being in this world without you.”
    “We’re special,” Rose whispered against his lips. “Blessed of the Seraphim.”
    “It doesn’t get more special than that,” Darkstar breathed back.
    Unable to bear the delay any longer; her hand found the back of his head; her fingers tangled through his hair and their lips melted together.
    And as Eloa promised, two souls, destined to share a lifetime and beyond, began the rest of their long, human lives together.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Name: Jordan Mierek

    Title of manuscript: COGLING

    Description: Fifteen-year-old Edna discovers an expensive pocket watch hanging around her brother's neck and is afraid he stole it. As she tears the watch off, her brother crumbles into a pile of cogs. Edna flees into the city streets for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is—a device to power Coglings.

    According to Ike, hags kidnap children to work in their factories and replace their bodies with Coglings—clockwork changelings. Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags' swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop them, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers – no one wants to believe a servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that could label them both as traitors.


    500 word ending:
    Edna glanced at the castle, smaller than Langston, but still grand. “Because we’re only living here until Langston is rebuilt, silly.”

    “Ike could find jobs for them here.”

    “Maybe later.” Edna tucked a curl behind her ear. “My father just returned home. They’re not used to court life. For now, I’ll help them find a better home in the city and send them my earnings.”

    “Edna?” Ike called. She rose off the bench so fast she stumbled on the grass. Rachel caught her hand, laughing.

    “So that’s why you were out here,” she teased.

    Edna flushed, pulling her hand free. “See you when I come back.”

    “Tell Harrison I wish him well at school,” Rachel called as Edna hurried up the hill to Ike. He caught her around the waist in a hug.

    Edna stepped back with her hands on his shoulders. The young man standing in front of her looked little like the thief who’d tried to rob her only a month before. He wore a dark suit with a silk cravat and a black top hat.

    “I would’ve come sooner, but I was in a meeting.” He dropped a kiss on her lips. “My father agreed to look into our case against the goblins and my grandfather’s finding a trustworthy hag to help heal my mother’s mind.”

    “Excellent.” Her stomach fluttered as he interlaced their fingers, leading her toward the gardens. She stretched her fingers to keep from yanking him closer. He might see it as too forward, but she craved his touch, his love. With his eyes bright and dark stubble around his jaw, he fit the part of the dashing thief.

    “Harrison and Hilda are waiting for the coach, but we have a little time.” Ike nudged Edna behind a tree, sheltered from the castle’s view. Breath caught in her throat, her lungs tight, and she slipped her hand behind his head. By the Saints, she’d be as forward as she wanted.

    Edna kissed Ike hard upon the mouth.

    #

    The king’s coach clattered along the city road. Harrison kept his face pressed against the window.

    “There’s the corner drugstore,” he said. “There’s the alchemist’s.”

    Edna laughed. He’d pointed out familiar landmarks since they’d first entered their city. “Yes, we’re home.”

    Hilda sat across from them, writing in her diary. She nodded without looking up.

    “There’s the mechanics,” Harrison said. Edna couldn’t stop the grin from spreading. The haunted looks had slipped away from her brother, and the little boy was Harrison again, the child she loved. Edna kissed the top of his head.

    “What’s that for?” He rubbed his hair, scowling. Yes, he was darling Harrison again.

    “I’m just glad you’re back.”

    “Me, too.” His grin matched hers.

    The driver stopped the coach in front of their tenement. Harrison snapped the door open and leapt out. Laughing, Edna followed. Hand in hand, they ran up the front steps into the building to see their parents.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Name: Kate Larkindale

    Title of Manuscript: Chasing the Taillights

    Description: After a car accident kills their parents, Lucy and Tony are forced to rely on one another - and decide whether to reveal their secrets.

    Lucy struggles to get her life back on track. She can’t tell Tony what she knows about the accident for fear of destroying the tentative bond between them. Yet the longer she holds onto the secret, the more it festers inside. If she doesn’t confess, she might lose her mind. If she does, she might lose the only person she has left who loves her.

    Tony has his own problems. Between diving practice, classes and homework, not to mention concealing the crush he has on Jake, his best friend, Tony needs to find room in his life for his sister. Only Tony’s strength can save them both, but his own stability dwindles with every passing day.

    Last 500 Words:
    Later, much later, we stroll the length of the small, private bay behind the house. The moon is high in the star-strewn sky now, a brilliant white orb casting enough light to read by. Under my bare feet, the sand is cold and gritty. My toes ache, but it wouldn’t feel right to wear shoes.

    We don’t speak, just walk, listening to the gentle scuffling of the crabs moving along the beach and the hypnotic lapping of the sea on the shore. It’s peaceful and beautiful; the perfect resting place.
    “Here?” Lucy stops in the shadow of an overhanging tree. I look up at it, remembering the forts I’d imagined in its branches, the hours I’ve spent sprawled across its broad limbs.
    I nod. “Yeah.”

    She starts climbing and I follow. I’m surprised by how easy it is to make my way up the knotty trunk, but I’m a lot bigger now than the last time I attempted to climb a tree. We scramble along a thick branch to a point near the end. Beneath us, the bay sparkles in the milky glow, a perfect reflection of the silver ball lying at our feet.
    It’s into this illusion that I fling the first handful of ashes. Next to me, Lucy upturns the urn, letting the dusty remains of our parents dribble between the leaves to rest on the golden sand.

    “Goodbye, Mom,” she whispers. “Goodbye, Dad.” There are no tears now, just a determined cast to her face, a set to her jaw. I bow my head, whispering my own farewell before leaping from the branch to the packed sand below. I wince at the water’s chill spiking up my legs and wait for them to numb before reaching up to pull Lucy from the tree.

    “Jake kissed me.” I stare out at the sea, watching the ripples slide the moon’s reflection toward me, then pull it away.
    “Is that where you’ve been this week? With Jake?” She’s shivering with cold, her teeth chattering together.
    “Yeah. I think we’re good.”
    “I’m happy for you.” She looks up at me and smiles, the moonlight making her teeth shine like pearls.

    “Let’s go home,” I say, pulling her close to my side as we splash through the shallows, kicking up a jewel-like spray.
    “Home?” She stares up at the dark shadow that is the house. Hugging me around the waist, she presses her face against my chest. “I am home.”

    As we walk, our shadows cutting a path through the moonlight, Lucy starts to sing.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Name: Cecilia Muoki

    Title of Manuscript: Grim Reaper's Novice

    Description: They say that you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it. I didn’t need to lose mine to know what I had.On one fateful day two years ago, I lost my family to a terrible accident. Unable to live without them, I made a deal with The Grim Reaper. I traded my soul for the four souls of my family.

    Most nineteen year olds I know live normal lives, as normal as the word goes.
    Not me. I collect souls for a living, a decision I do not regret making.

    My two years of novice-hood are almost up. I am about to be tested before officially becoming the Grim Reaper’s graduate. Different emotions roll inside me. If I pass, Grim will release the souls of my family, and I will be able to spend more time with them. If I don’t… well, let’s just hope I do.

    The last 500 words:

    It is official. The After World of Shadow and Light is changing. All because I couldn’t bring myself to do what was expected of me; to collect Kim’s soul.

    I close my eyes, and drop my head in my hands. The weariness of the past weeks comes crushing down on me. I squeeze my eyes shut, as recent events threaten to rip my heart apart.

    I straighten as light footfalls fill the silent space of the cave we have been hiding in, and take deep breaths, and brush at my eyes with the my hands.

    Kim shouldn’t see my like this. Not when his world is falling apart as mine is.

    I tense as his arms slip around my waist pulling me back to him. My body stirs at the feel of his warm and secure presence. I lift my head, and peek over my shoulder at him.
    “Hey,” I say, forcing a smile.

    He lifts a hand and touches my face. “You’ve been crying.”

    Instead of answering, I avert my face, and stare out of the mouth of the cave.

    “Ana, look at me.”

    I can’t. I am afraid if I do, I will be bawling mess.

    His hands leave my waist, and I feel him shift. He sits in front of me, lifts my hands from my knees and laces his fingers with mine. He rubs his thumbs on the back of my hands in slow, circular motions. And just like that, all tension fades from my body. I sigh, and shift my gaze to his face, taking in the contours of his profile in the dim light.

    “You’re stubborn, lovable, irritating, and strong.” This is not what I expect to hear. I open my mouth, a retort ready on my lips, but he cuts me off with a quick brush of his thumb on my lips. “Hush, Ana. You saved my soul instead of collecting it, even though I’m not worth it. Grim still holds the four souls of your family. So you don’t need to pretend for my benefit.”

    Images of the last time I saw my family before Grim reclaimed their souls again flash in my mind. How can I tell Kim I couldn’t choose his soul or my family’s? That I tried and found myself fighting for breath every single time?
    I clench my jaw, and lift my chin. “I’ll retrieve my family’s souls back. Even if it means treading the Shadow realm.”

    “Trade mine for theirs.”

    My stomach clenches, my heart rattles painfully inside my chest. “No.”

    He inches closer, his face mere inches from mine. “All right, Soul Collector. It’s you and me then.”

    He leans forward, his gaze locked on mine, and brushes his lips on mine. I sigh and he deepens the kiss.

    Even with the world falling apart, and the Realm threatening to bleed into my world, I take comfort in his love and kiss. For now. I take the strength he offers me, and I offer him mine.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Name: Jordan Mierek

    Title of manuscript: TABITHA’S DEATH

    Description: With blood dripping from her wrists, seventeen-year-old Tabitha hopes to find peace in death. Instead, the Gray Man sucks her into his kingdom, where she must obey him to fully die.

    The Gray Man sends suicide victims to steal enchanted items he needs for his return to his homeland. Tabitha must cheat and steal –even commit murder – or face physical pain and mental torment. She soon realizes the life she left is the only thing she desires when the Gray Man shows her mother’s suffering. Tabitha’s only hope to return home is to destroy the Gray Man by absorbing his powers, but that might make her the new Gray Man.

    500 words:
    It would be so easy to kill myself now and there would be no Gray Man to whisk me away to a world of undead. I could slit my wrists again, or drink some antifreeze. I could make a list of all the ways. I had made that list, once upon a time. The chances were limitless, and yet where was the fun in that? There would be no Gray Man. It would be the end, officially, and I wouldn’t come back.
    I’d get to know what was on the other side of life, and whether I liked it or not, I wouldn’t come back. I wouldn’t know what future I might have had. I wouldn’t know the laughter, none of the happiness. So what if there were some tears? There was always brightness, always a joy, and those times are what make life worth it. Those moments were what I had to live for, the curiosity to see what fate held out for me.
    Sometimes, you had to live for someone else.
    I fetched the plastic bucket for washing the car from the garage and filled it with water in the bathroom sink, adding cleaning liquid and rags, a couple sponges. I dropped the bucket on my bedroom floor, fished out a soapy sponge, and washed my blood off the wall.
    “Tabitha?”
    My hand slipped. No.
    Slowly, I turned my head to look over my shoulder. Devin stood in the doorway blinking rapidly. He rubbed his hand over his mouth, gripping the wall with his other.
    “Devin?” My tongue was so dry I could spit cotton. No way, he was gone. He couldn’t stand in my house.
    “I, um… I realized as long as I have one good thing, I can stand living.” His smile appeared sheepish. When he took a step forward, he wavered unsteadily.
    “But you left. You died,” I squeaked.
    “I didn’t get far before I realized I couldn’t.” He coughed. “I couldn’t leave you, Tabitha.”
    As I launched myself into his arms, knocking him into my desk chair, I saw the Scholar’s image appear in my mirror. He smiled and lifted his hand in a wave. Then, he winked, and I realized he’d brought Devin to me.
    “You were one of those original brothers, weren’t you?” I asked the Scholar. “You and the Gray Man?”
    He nodded.
    “But he turned evil and you…you became a recluse,” I finished, unable to think of a better word. This time, he smiled.
    “Thank you for bringing me back life,” I whispered, and the Scholar nodded again.
    I couldn’t wait to hug my mom and tell her about what had happened. I might have lost Bhuvana, but we had always been different; the biggest difference now lay in our fates. She had been careless, reckless, and she’d died. I would be more careful and live. Just because she was dead, didn’t mean I didn’t get to keep living.
    Never had I looked forward to the future so much.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Name: Ashley Maker

    Title of manuscript: Under the Trees

    Description:

    Falling in love isn’t easy when it’s challenged by a brutal duke, a murderous king, and the threat of war between kingdoms. But true love doesn’t care about convenience, and it certainly has no aversion to danger. When Princess Araya flees an arranged marriage to Duke Peter, her only goal is freedom, even if that means she must evade her father’s armed guards—men under strict orders to carry out her capture. She never counted on falling in love with the man who rescues her.

    Prince Thoredmund, the neighboring kingdom’s crown prince, quickly learns that the role of prince in shining armor isn’t quite what it’s made out to be, and now he must deal with the consequences of harboring a fugitive when visitors arrive at the castle, spewing kidnapping accusations and demanding the return of their princess. Thor’s going to have to make a choice—risk his kingdom or turn Araya in.

    Last 500 words:

    After making sure I was comfortable in the carriage, Father went to fetch his horse. The moment he left, Thor climbed in with me and smiled. He was not alone. To my delight, I saw that Marek wriggled in his arms. The black dog wagged his tail when he saw me and leaned forward to lick my fingers.

    “You didn’t tell me he lived!” I laughed as I ruffled the soft fur under his ears, mindful of the jagged line of stitches on his skull and across his shoulder.

    “I didn’t want to give you false hope,” Thor said. “We didn’t think he was going to pull through, he lost so much blood, but I wanted you to see him before you left.”

    He placed Marek on the floor of the carriage, and the big dog sat down in front of me, placing his head on my lap.

    “I’m glad you brought him to say goodbye.”

    Thor’s smile disappeared. “This isn’t goodbye.”

    I met his eyes and saw a determination there that lifted my heart.

    “When will I see you again?”

    “Soon,” he said, “I promise.” Reaching down to his belt, he unclipped something and held it out to me.

    It was the ram’s horn he’d given me that day at the inn.

    “Until I can give you something better.”

    I wrapped my hand around the handle and held onto it tightly, wishing I had something to give him in return. My eyes lit up. “Would you please hand me my bag?”

    Raising an eyebrow, Thor reached down and retrieved the bag at my feet. He set it next to me, and I rooted around in it until I found what I was looking for. There was very little to search through, so it didn’t take long. With a deep breath, I brought out the little music box and handed it to him.

    “Araya, no…” He tried to give it back.

    “Take it,” I said. “I want you to have it.”

    He tucked it to his chest and leaned closer. “I’ll make sure to return it the next time I see you.”

    “Soon,” I repeated, my breath catching on the word.

    Thor smiled before leaning in to kiss me. His lips were warm on mine; they were gentle. Time seemed endless, as if the world had stopped spinning. I sighed into the kiss, giving myself over to the dizzy sensation. Nothing had ever felt this right, and I had a feeling that nothing ever would.

    When the kiss ended, he rested his forehead against mine, and I knew that he was right. This couldn’t be goodbye—it couldn’t end like this. I hadn’t come to Braythel looking for love, but here he was, and I wasn’t ready to let him go. I closed my eyes, already wishing for tomorrow. Until then, I would think of our time under the trees.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Name: Lisa Terry
    Title: White Star
    Summary: After living sixteen years with her too-good-for-emotion mother, Kara comes alive when she moves in with her grandfather, only to shut down again when her grandpa and her boyfriend, Phaethon, die in a plane crash. Lane, Kara’s only friend, wants to end these visits, and Kara is split between two former best friends. Her indecision reaches a peak when an evil spirit arrives, looking like Phaethon. The echo, sticks close to his parallel, roaming the beaches for anyone to see, including the grieving, and makes Lane a target of its aggression. Kara can’t deny the obvious after watching the echo drag Lane through the sand by his neck, almost killing him. Kara’s options: Tell her boyfriend goodbye or hold on tight. If she lets Phaethon go, she’ll lose herself all over again. If Kara keeps him, the echo will finish his job on Lane and Kara will lose him too.

    Last 500 words:
    Oh, well. Water under the bridge. I just wished I could find a way for Lane to forgive Jude now. Shannon never had held a grudge.
    “What did he say that wasn’t true?” she had said about Jude. “At least he came to me and apologized, Lane. No one else did, and they were talking about me too.”
    He would come around. Especially if I did what I’d been thinking about doing. Merrick’s home-life was getting more and more impossible. She delivered the babies a month early, and she had a few medical problems at first. Then there was the grief of giving her babies up for adoption. From what I could tell, she received almost no sympathy at home. I considered renting her a room. No one had asked me, but I figured it was the perfect solution.
    “Kara, you want anymore marshmallows before we go,” Shannon called from behind me.
    “No way. I’m stuffed.” I had drifted away from them and peered through the thin trees at the pink sky.
    “Gotta go,” Lane said coming up behind me. “It’s getting dark quick.”
    The sun had begun to sink into the horizon, igniting the sky in varying shades of yellow, orange, pink and red.
    “Thinking about Phaethon?” Lane asked, sounding like he already knew the answer.
    “Yeah,” I answered lightheartedly. Soft, slow pats from a drum resounded in my head.
    “What would you say to him if you knew he’d hear it?”
    In the past few months, something inside me had slowly begun to change. I hadn’t stopped mourning the loss of Phaethon, but the change had come in a newfound respect for small moments. I remembered one night Phaethon told me I was beautiful on the inside. To any outsider it would likely sound corny, but to me it was a small piece of bliss that I filed away in my heart. He knew me. He really knew me and was proud of me.
    I’d come to appreciate the time I had with him instead of being resentful of the time that was taken away. I learned so much about myself because of him. He taught me that there was such a thing as true love and that I was capable of it. The days of being angry at him for making me fall in love were long gone. The love I had and still have for him only made my life richer—more complete.
    “I would say…‘Thank you.’” I turned around just then and saw twin pools of confusion in Lane’s eyes. The drum’s cadence quickened.
    He loved me—I was almost sure of it. It wasn’t a love that one friend feels for the other, either. I didn’t know when this bit of information started sinking into my head, but it had. Would he ever own up? I refused to push him. So, we might only be friends forever. I could deal with that, right?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Name: Keisha
    title:ETERNALLY


    150 word description
    Seventeen -year old Soreise Morgan obsessed with classic Jane Austen’s novels, loses sight of reality and immense herself in the fictional world to cope with her alcoholic and neglectful mother. Her reality is distorted when she begins to obsess about being part of the world and all her problems would be gone, believing the only way she could enter Jane Austen’s world, is through death Soriese makes a grave decision and in Bath, England, Soriese jumps off a cliff but, instead of entering the fictional world she ends up in the eternal realm and has to get someone from the mortal world to remember her, which will enable the fates to give her a second life; things don’t quite go that way when dark entities shake things up and the fates instead burden Soriese with a quest to kill the evil Morgath and save the other realms from her wrath.

    ENDING 500 words
    When they returned onto the road, they were confronted by Jared, a red-eyed pale Jared.
    “You deceived me.”
    Soriese looked at the others. They were speechless staring at Jared.
    “You’re not real. You were killed. I killed you, you’re supposed to be in the underworld.”
    “What appears may not always be what it seems, your heart quickly has led to Josh, I will enjoy the moment when he dies.” Josh maneuvered in front of Soriese. “He’s a demon. All that happened when you killed Morgath it was like a mirage lies. He is working for her. He gave his soul to Morgath, and whatever you do don’t second guess his intentions that he is heart stricken for you, he will kill you in a heartbeat.”
    “How many times must you die? I loved you, still love you.” Jared smiled. His red eyes glowed like fire.” He took out his dagger. “Would you kill your first love?” He changed now looking like how he did when they were in Bath, England, he moved toward Soriese, and instantly she felt enchanted by him. The yell from the others was blocked out. “That’s it ignore them come into the darkness, we will have a future together forever”
    “You’re not real. I killed you.” Soriese was back in Bath, England in the park with Jared. She knew it wasn’t real and as much as it pained her. She had to fight to come out of the trance.
    “Jared, I did love you but not anymore.” Jared lunged at her, his hand tightly around her neck. She returned to the Eternal realm. She pierced the dagger in Jared’s chest, who belted out a loud scream and then exploded and his remains broke down into tiny molecules and disappeared. Soriese fell onto her knees hands placed on her head, her insides raw with intense emotion. She felt as if everything around her was spinning—she felt out of control she screamed. “I feel like I’m going crazy, what is real, what’s not?” Josh approached Soriese and tried to comfort her, but she moved away flaring up her hands, “I need space. Jared is gone and I freaking don’t know if that means forever, Josh made another attempt. Amethyst felt she should’ve been by Soriese side, but she was caught up in her own emotions as well, Josh mentioned they are in the heart of the storm, and before they see sunlight, they will endure plenty of heartbreak.
    “I don’t want to hear your metaphors. I don’t know what to do, do you all hear me? We are all burdened on a quest where we at any time will be tested, seeing Jared as a demon was worse than when I killed him, I don’t know if he’s even dead, where is the boy I fell in love with?”
    Amethyst approached Soriese. She had regained composure, and in this moment she had to be strong and support her friend, who she had formed a close bond with.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Name: Carolyn Chambers Clark

    Title of manuscript: GHOST STORY

    Description:

    Part-time nurses' aide, seventeen-year-old Samantha McQueen, swears she killed a man in the morgue of the Georgia State Mental Hospital. The police can't find a body and warn her not to call again, or she'll be arrested for interfering with police business.

    This isn't the first dead body that's disappeared on Samantha. Aiden, the police sergeant's son tells her she has gift that'll help them. She visits a psychiatrist, tries rune reading, and even delves into the BOOK OF THE DEAD. Nothing works. She must also help her Momma pass over. To complicate things, she's assigned a death and dying school project with none other than Aiden as her partner.

    When Aiden's Aunt Cinda tells Samantha she must help the undead cross over before Christmas, she hurries to understand her abilities before the portals at Wal-Mart close until the next holiday season.

    The last 496 words...

    "I hope they made it, Momma."
    "Don't worry, they did. If you look up and squint, you can see through the roof and all the way up to the stars. See that new one that's blinking? Miranda and Simon just arrived."
    A great feeling of peace flows over me, and my mind clears for the first time in a long time. "What about Simon? Is he gone now, too?"
    "Yes, honey. Simon had to help Miranda cross over. Sometimes animals lead the way."
    "What does that mean?"
    "You'll find out, honey. Let's go."
    I blink and I'm back by Aiden's side, handing him a string of lights to decorate the tree, and Momma's chattering away to Cinda again. I wonder if they're talking about Daddy.
    He comes into the room, holding Sylvie's hand and Callie walks behind, her hair gleaming, smile on her face. They all walk toward Momma and embrace. Daddy and Callie must see Momma now. We're all together again, plus we have Cinda.
    Sondra and Brittany come in, they're both in red and Sondra's wearing a Santa hat and carrying boxes of candy canes. Brittany hangs back. She's probably never been in a mental hospital before, but Sondra looks around and touches the tree, the table, and then gives me a hug. "This is so much fun. I can hardly wait to sing 'Silent Night' to all the crazy ladies."
    "You would. We don't call them crazy ladies."
    "Oh, I know, I'm just saying it to scare Brittany."
    Sylvie comes over. "Aren't we going to sing carols and show the tree to all the patients?"
    "Yes, we are, sweetheart. In just a minute."
    From out of nowhere, Aiden hands me a pot with a red ribbon around it. "Merry Christmas, Samantha."
    I inhale the scent of lavender and let the leaves tickle my nose. "Merry Christmas, Aiden. You remembered." The gift is bittersweet now that Christmas is almost here, and Momma will be leaving.
    Nurse Patchett comes by, shaking a string of jingle bells and wearing mistletoe in her hair. When she stops near the tree, I pull Aiden next to her.
    "Merry Christmas, Samantha." His lips feel so soft and warm when they close over mine, and I'm not a bit embarrassed.
    We go over to my family, and Momma puts her hand on my shoulder. "I won't see you for a while, honey. I have to make a trip to Walmart, the hardware section."
    "Don't leave, Momma." My heart's breakin' again, and I grab her hand. A wave of sadness slips from inside my heart and settles like sand in my feet.
    "I have to leave, honey. I'm sorry, but it's my time to cross over. You have Cinda now and y'all be fine. All y'all will be fine. She's a wonderful person. And you have Aiden, too."
    Momma fades away, and I choke back my tears. Still, deep inside, I feel hope, knowing there are three new stars in the galaxy tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Name: A.E. Martin
    Title: Ravishing Midnight

    Description:

    After recovering from a heart transplant, Rieve returns to work as head Control Officer to the demons who are legally allowed to feed on the sex, blood, and emotions of human donors. In return, the witches can harness demon energy to strengthen their magic, which benefits the humans. Lately though, the witches’ magic has been going horribly awry, leading them to a deadly plan to overcome their dependency on demon energy.
    When Rieve realizes she unknowingly received a demon’s heart, she uncovers the witches’ plot to destroy the demons using human/demon hybrids. Things are further complicated when Rieve finds her heart donor Haden, and realizes that his heart is keeping them both alive. However, the unique power Rieve gains through Haden becomes the strongest weapon against the witches, who don’t realize that eradicating the demons will destroy everything their magic is a part of, including Rieve’s new heart.

    Ending:

    “Fabulous,” I said. “Somehow while trying to save the whole damn country from destruction I’ve become tied to two demons, one of which I need to keep alive by feeding on the other.”
    “It’s the best option,” Haden said. He could not have looked more amused. I wanted to slap him.
    “It will be alright,” Lucen said. “We will figure out a way to manage this.”
    “You realize that us getting close not only feeds Haden, which is freaky but I guess a lesser evil than me draining people for him, but also sets things on fire, right? And yet you’re oh so calm about this?”
    “What can we do?” Lucen said simply. I looked from his calm expression to Haden’s amused one, and now wanted to slap both of them. Haden yawned again and stretched his arms above his head.
    “Well, I think I’ll get back to my beauty rest,” he said. “If you two are going to try for another romp…well I suppose you won’t have to warn me, I’ll just know.” His laughter trailed him as he left the room, and I had to stop myself from running after him and kicking him in the nuts. Lucen took my hand and led me out of my smoky room and into his, which was a few doors down.
    “Lucen…”
    “Let’s not think about it,” Lucen said, pulling me onto the bed and wrapping his arms around me. “You said you wanted to forget, so let’s go to sleep and forget for a while.” He kissed the back of my neck and snuggled against me. Slowly, the tension in my body drifted away, but I felt far from falling asleep.
    “Just let it go for now,” Lucen whispered. “And pick it back up in the morning.”
    It was quite the burden I’d have to pick back up in the morning. The witches were leaderless and scrambling, the demons were mostly massacred, the humans were scared and angry, and the Demon Council was still present, kept in check only by their fear of Haden’s power, which was a power he didn’t even have anymore because I did. Then there was the disturbing triumvirate I was now a part of with an incubus and the only demon/witch hybrid in existence, and I was the key in keeping us all together. I sighed, afraid that I would break under the strain of all of this.
    As usual though, Lucen was very effective in making me feel as though everything would be okay. As his warm, sweet aura eased over me, I actually started to feel calmer, and less like my head was about to explode. We would figure it out; Lucen had said we would and I believed him. I lay there wrapped in Lucen’s arms, and eventually the soft beat of his heart against my back, and the rhythm of Haden’s heart in my chest lulled me to sleep.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hope Roberson
    MY PROTECTOR: THE CALLING
    As a teenager, Eri develops the calling—an internal link to the man-eating beasts plaguing the planet. She finds herself repeatedly drawn beyond the safety borders, driven by rage, hoping to satiate the bloodlust flooding her veins.
    With villager deaths on the rise and beast encounters increasing, Eri knows she can help her people, she holds the calling just like the Protectors. But Protectors are men. She is not allowed the chance to join their ranks or study proper fighting techniques.
    The link is growing within Eri, the connection beyond her control. She can’t hide the calling forever. Eri must secretly learn the skills to fight before ending up in the belly of a beast.

    500 word ending:
    “I love you Grayson.” I whispered the words so quietly I wasn’t sure I actually said them out loud.
    Grayson set me back on my feet. His smile constricted my heart and confirmed my words were not just in my head.
    We walked back to the porch, gripping each other’s hand with the fierce promise of togetherness. Grayson sat on the top step, pulling me next to him, claiming me with one arm while holding my hands in the other. I leaned against his warmth, savoring the scent of his clean shirt and ointment on his wound.
    “I honestly thought I was going to have to be the one to break it to you both,” Finnley chuckled.
    Grayson squeezed me tighter, his laugh vibrating through my body.
    The summer sun fell through the sky as Finnley and Jen kept the conversation going. Grayson and I said little. It was almost too much to do more than sit there, relishing his hold, his squeezes, his kisses on my forehead, my cheek, even my lips right in front of Jen and Finnley.
    My head swam with his closeness and nearly drowned in the events of the previous twenty-four hours.
    Grayson was in love with me.
    I killed a beast. I could handle the responsibility of being a Protector. I just needed the chance. I was capable of what the calling asked of me.
    Someday everyone would know.
    “What is it, Eri?” Grayson asked into my hair.
    “Huh?” I tipped my head up to look at him.
    “You keep sighing. I know there’s something buzzing around in your head.”
    There were a million somethings buzzing around my head. I sucked in a huge breath and kissed him, still baffled I could do such a thing.
    “Well?” He asked again, undeterred by my kiss.
    A grin took over my face. “I killed a beast. By myself.”
    Grayson’s eyes darkened. “I know.”
    “I could be a Protector.”
    His sigh pressed through me. “I know, but I don’t want to think about that.”
    “What do you want to think about?”
    A growl came from somewhere deep inside him. My body ignited before his mouth even touched mine. When he pulled back, I gasped at the wicked smile playing on his lips. “Only you, Eri.”
    I buried myself into his side so he couldn’t witness the flush spreading over my body.
    He leaned back and hooked a finger under my chin, tipping my head to make me look in his eyes. “You won’t stop, will you?” The emotion in his simple question cracked a line through my heart.
    I stared at him, eyes wide, pooling with tears, terrified of my response, of his reaction. “I don’t think I can, Grayson.”
    His silence trapped the breath in my chest. His lips pulled down, dragging his eyebrows with them, but his eyes never left mine. His eyes. They knew, they understood the calling doesn’t go away, could never stop.
    “Then I’ll just have to be your Protector forever, Eri.”

    ReplyDelete
  30. Name: Stephanie S.

    Title: The End World.

    Description:

    Eighteen-year-old Lana will do anything to honor her father, killed the day he discovered The End World, a devastated parallel planet. So, when Earth calls for prodigies to study and rebuild The End World, Lana packs up her kick-ass attitude and F-bomb slippery tongue to become a Spinner, traveling between the two worlds and escorting researchers throughout the devastated landscape.

    Appointed as the youngest Headsquad, she agrees to set up a truce with the survivors' leader, but when she learns he’s the one who killed her father, she’s faced with a gut-ripping choice: follow orders and develop peace, or avenge her father’s death and risk war.

    Ending:

    “They’ll get through in 30 seconds or less,” Sal yelled from the door.

    My dad perked up, almost falling in the process as his muscles gave out, still not thawed all the way.

    “Done!” He turned away, a radiant smile on his face when an intermittent beep came over the speakers. A pop-up message appeared on the screen. “Oh no! No no no,” my father cursed, his brow
    wrinkled. “Don’t you do this to me!” Still he typed frantically. His shoulder slouched and I knew it wasn’t a good sign.

    “What is it?” I asked pushing him out of the way. I read the message.

    Override command accepted. Manual sequence required.

    “Dad, what does it mean?” He didn’t respond. I shook his shoulder. “What does it mean?”

    He looked at me, his face grave. “Someone needs to stay. By using the backdoor and overriding Hawson’s codes, I made it impossible for the automatic sequencer to kick-in. Someone needs to be left behind. I’m sorry.”

    Alex stepped forward. “I’ll stay. Just tell me what to do,” he nodded. I loved him for it.

    “No you’re not! They’ll kill you!” I stepped in front of him, my hand on his chest. He grabbed my hand lightly and kissed it.

    ”Someone needs to stay. You both need to go. Your dad is the only proof that what you say is true. I’m not even sure I’ll get through. For all we know, my double is alive on the other side.”

    “But it’s worth a try.” I exclaimed. I wasn’t about to lose him again. “And we need you to prove that a truce is possible. You will be the first survivor to ever see Earth.”

    Sal appeared, no longer guarding the door. “She is Headsquad, Sam is needed, Alex you are mandatory. I’m not. I stay behind.”
    The voices on the other side of the wall were getting louder. The hissing had stopped and the pounding had restarted. This meant one thing, they were a few metal threads away from breaking in.

    My dad and Alex ran to the center of the room. My eyes anchored on Sal’s, tears already blurring his image. I hugged him for a second that was way too short.

    “I love you Lana,” he whispered in my ear.
    But before I could say anything, Alex grabbed my hand. “Come on, time for me to discover your world,” he said.

    I intertwined my fingers in his and closed my eyes, focusing on his skin against mine before letting go. The lightheadedness started, a twist in the stomach and my ears popped. I stopped breathing for a second. I didn’t want to open my eyes. If I opened them, I might not find Alex standing next to me. Fingers intertwined in mine and I smiled. I could have picked Alex's hands among a thousand. He was facing me, a twinkle at the corner of his eyes. Thoughts of what was going on around me finally reach me, invading the silence of my previous fear.

    We're through

    I was too aware of the odds Alex just beat by being able to spin to Earth. Somewhere, somehow, his Earth double had died and I was shamelessly glad.

    I knew that I didn’t care what would come next. Alex was with me and we could take on the world, literally.

    ReplyDelete