Author: Willow Winters
The sins of his past can’t be forgiven.
Mason Thatcher gave me chills when I first laid eyes on him. The good kind. The kind that makes your body ache and your heart hammer.
What’s better is that he looked at me the same way.
There was a hunger in his eyes that wouldn’t be sated, and a confidence in his stride that told me I could never run from him. Back then, I didn’t want to.
It’s not fair that his touch eased my pain.
That his lips on mine made my worries vanish.
That his love gave me a reason to breathe again.
With him, I felt complete, as if fate had given me a second chance.
Then I learned the truth: the sins and secrets of what really brought us together.
I knew it was too good to be true, but I could never have imagined he’d be capable of something so cold and cruel. That he was the reason my world crumbled.
There’s no way we can go back to what we once had and it’s not as easy as walking away. He can’t risk me telling his secrets.
I don’t know what choices I have or how I’ll survive this.
What he’s done is unforgivable, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to let me go.
Unforgiven is the second book in the new series, Sins and Secret Series of Duets by Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author Willow Winters. It is book 2 of a 2 book duet although other standalone duets will be featured in the series. It is not necessary, but highly recommended that you read book 1, Imperfect, before reading Unforgiven.
I like my action hot and my bad boys hotter. And I don't hold back on either one in my writing. I'm so happy to be a #1 Contemporary Bestselling Romance Author. I'm so grateful and honored! I actually started writing after having my little girl, Evie, December 2015. All during my pregnancy with her I read. I only wanted to read romance, and I read EVERYTHING. I would read a book a day — sometimes two. In January 2016 I was staying up late with her and just thinking of all these stories. They came to me constantly. And I finally sat down and just started writing. I always wanted to do it so I figured, why not? I never thought I would reach this point of success, to be honest. It’s insane to me that I have so many fans. And I love each and every one of them for all of their support.
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Title: Sexy Bad Daddy
Authors: Misti Murphy & Tami Lund
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Once upon a time Garrett Frost, bad boy of professional golf, found out he had a two year old daughter.
Okay, okay, it wasn’t that long ago. His escapades are still in the media, and his sponsors are all in a tail spin, but his daughter sure is cute.
That’s where I come in. I’m his nanny. The kid’s nanny. Of course, I’m not his. He’s older, my employer, totally off limits. And I can’t forget that, even if he makes me want to fall for him with every lingering gaze, each secret touch.
He’s trying so hard to reform his professional image and be the father his daughter deserves. If anyone knew he was screwing his nanny it’d be all over the media, ruining his sponsorships, and affecting his relationship with his daughter. Or worse, convincing everyone we could be a family.
But Garrett Frost’s family is the game and his daughter. There’s no room for me. So why does it feel like I’ve finally found my forever?
Misti Murphy & Tami Lund They live on opposite sides of the world, but an eighteen-hour time difference doesn't stop these two obsessed authors. They write, they debate over storylines, they thoroughly enjoy the process of gazing at hot men while trying to come up with cover ideas, they fall in and out of love with their characters, and at the end of the day (which day is anybody's guess), they create sexy bad books for your reading pleasure.
Title: Letting Love In
Series: Damaged Heart #2
Author: Katharina LeBoeuf
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 16, 2017 Cover Model: Justin Edwards Photographer: RplusMphoto Cover Designer: Cover Me Darling
Emma believes it’s only a matter of time before Justin realizes she will never be good enough for him. To save her heart from breaking, she runs from the one person who opened a door she thought was forever closed.
Justin is determined to do whatever it takes to make Emma his. But fate is a spiteful bitch, and a secret he’s tried to keep in the past has resurfaced, threatening to destroy everything they’ve started building together. Can Justin earn Emma’s love despite it, or will this revelation prove to be too much for them to overcome?
Ryan lost Emma once and he is determined to win her back. Seven years later, a chance encounter brings Ryan and Emma face to face again, and the truth behind what tore them apart all those years ago is brought to light. Will the discovery of those past actions be enough to alter their future choices? Will Emma open her heart to loving him again?
Emma has been dealt a terrible hand when it comes to both life and love, and now her heart is torn in two. She realizes she’ll have to make a choice; one that will decide her destiny. Will she choose the boy who stole her heart so many years ago, or the man who finally opened her heart, letting love in?
***This is the conclusion to Emma's story***
Katharina LeBoeuf grew up in New Orleans water skiing on the bayous and getting her fill of Cajun food. She graduated from LSU School of Nursing and currently works as a Registered Nurse.She loves sitting in her hammock and reading a good book. On the rare occasion there’s not a book in her hand, she’s watching her favorite shows like Friends, Seinfeld, The Walking Dead, and Criminal Minds on Netflix. She loves cheering on her boys during their baseball games and attending plays her daughter performs in. Oh yeah, and she loves writing! Katharina lives in Orlando with her high school sweetheart, three children, a smelly cat named Chester (it’s not his fault) and a dog named Rhett.
Series: Spasm Rockers
Genre: Rocker Romance
Screw love, get money.
That had become my new motto. I promised myself I wouldn’t get too close to anyone again because it always blew up in my face.
Then I met her, the devil in a pair of six-inch heels. I tried to avoid her like the plague and treated her as if she were made of poison, but she wouldn’t back down.
One night I let my guard down.
One night changed everything.
My bandmates were counting on me. Fame was knocking at my door.
But temptation knocked a little harder and now I may be royally screwed—and not in a good way.
Niquel is a self diagnosed coffee addict, lover of rice and beans, and chocolate—preferably not all together. She’s the creator of multiple stories full of love, passion, and power. She may toss in a ghost story every once in a while.
When she’s not busy taking care of her two little girls, she's writing or creating graphics or you can find her binge watching TV with her significant other.
Boston born and raised, she’s always been a creative soul: attending multiple colleges to develop her love of the visual arts.
Title: Love Me
Series: A Pleasant Valley Novel
Author: Anna Brooks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Vaughn Morris survives on denial and hope. He spends his days permanently marking other’s skin and his nights trying to forget the scars imbedded in his soul. When he returns back home desperately seeking approval from the mother who left him for dead, the last thing he expects to do is fall in love with a woman who is just as closed off as he is.
Rayne Garner hasn’t truly lived in years. She made a promise to her high school sweetheart, and she refuses to break it. Nobody has made her question her loyalty until Vaughn forces her to face reality, no matter how brutal it may be.
As tempers clash and ugly truths are revealed, a friendship they didn’t need turns into a love neither thought they wanted. But Rayne and Vaughn not only have to fight for each other, they must survive threats from a past they’re both trying to move on from.
Anna began writing when she thought the world would want to hear her sick lyrics through song. Since then, she's realized her childhood dream wasn't so far-fetched, just misguided. Now she writes romance with real emotions and happy endings. If Anna isn't writing or reading, she can be found by a space heater painting her nails and drinking a ridiculous amount of Diet Dr Pepper. She also likes to hang out with her husband and two boys. If it wasn't for them, she wouldn't ever leave the house. Anna was born in Wisconsin but now lives in the Evergreen State.
Enter to win one of 1 free copy available. Giveaway dates from Mar 23-Apr 28, 2017. Enter to win a signed paperback copy of Love, Me, the latest romance ...
Title: Gasping for Air
Series: Game Day #2
Author: TS McKinney
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: April 22, 2017
How far will Trystan go to win the heart of the man he loves? All the way. Trystan Matherly is conceited, arrogant, and rich. He has plenty of money, athletic ability, and gorgeous looks to keep the men forming a long line just to be with him. Choosing his next lover has been as simple as down-selecting to the hottest candidate. Until Dakota. With his sad eyes, full lips, and perfectly sculpted swimmer’s body, Dakota is just the kind of lover Trystan wants. After only one look, he knows he has to have him. Too bad Dakota seems to be totally oblivious to all his charms. Dakota Jacobson is lonely, tired, and depressed. He’s at Alabama Temple to complete his degree, not to put up with idiots. He works diligently to be as invisible as possible. He doesn’t need friends and he sure doesn’t need lovers…especially not football titans that think they rule the world. Nope; been there, done that. Until Trystan. With his sexy eyes, arrogant smirk, and muscled physique, Trystan is just the kind of lover Dakota never intends to have…again. Too bad Trystan refuses to allow him to be invisible.
T.S. McKinney lives in East Tennessee with her high school sweetheart/husband and all the countless dogs she picks up from deserted country roads. Her professional career has been in business but her heart has always belonged to the fantasy world found in books.
Creating wicked worlds where one can meet the perfect hero – and then do anything to him that you want – has been a hobby that has brought her plenty of hours of fun and naughty entertainment. When not working, reading, or writing, she loves to spend time with my family and forcing them (because they don’t really have another choice) to allow me to redecorate their houses…and listen to my naughty…sometimes sadistic stories.
Title: Letting Love Go
Series: Damaged Heart Series #1
Author: Katharina LeBoeuf
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2017 Cover Model: Peyton Anthony Photographer: Kruse Images and Photography Cover Designer: Cover Me Darling
Seven years ago, high school sweethearts Emma and Ryan were torn apart in the most shocking and unexpected way.
Over the years, Emma Leroux has learned to survive by building walls around her damaged heart. Exploited and betrayed by those closest to her, grieving the loss of her father and never really letting go of her first love has Emma at a new low in her life.
Desperate for a fresh start, Emma decides to go on a week-long vacation with a friend. Along with a change in scenery, she finds a new strength in herself and may also have found the one person who can open a door she thought was forever closed.
Justin finds himself at a crossroads in his life and he’s intent on making a fresh start. When he sees Emma for the first time, he knows she’s the one he’s been waiting for to walk into his life. Tearing down Emma’s walls isn’t as easy as he hoped it would be, but he’s not going to let her slip away without a fight.
After serving his time in the military and finishing his MBA, Ryan returns home to New Orleans. He has never given up on the dream that he and Emma could resurrect what they’ve lost. He’s determined to find her and win her back.
Will Justin be the one to help mend her damaged heart? Can this new relationship survive the shadows of their pasts, or will Ryan change everything?
Katharina LeBoeuf grew up in New Orleans water skiing on the bayous and getting her fill of Cajun food. She graduated from LSU School of Nursing and currently works as a Registered Nurse.
She loves sitting in her hammock and reading a good book. On the rare occasion there’s not a book in her hand, she’s watching her favorite shows like Friends, Seinfeld, The Walking Dead, and Criminal Minds on Netflix. She loves cheering on her boys during their baseball games and attending plays her daughter performs in. Oh yeah, and she loves writing!
Katharina lives in Orlando with her high school sweetheart, three children, a smelly cat named Chester (it’s not his fault) and a dog named Rhett.
Title: In Blood We Trust
Author: Elodie Colt
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Release: April 5, 2017
2078. The Future, as it was once called...
A better time you imagine? Most would say yes.
Jordan would say they’d switched one evil for another…
Ever since the SDCT—the Scientific Department for Cancer Treatment—made a scientific breakthrough, creating a cure for cancer and therefore saving billions of lives from the cruel disease over the last few decades, the world seems to be a better place.
But the Cure came with a side effect.
The Recipients need to consume human blood along with it, and as Jordan has the rarest blood type, she needs to donate every week. To keep a tight legal structure between Recipients and the rest of the population, the FDR—Federal Division for Recipients—was created, making her job as Sergeant at the NYPD hell on earth.
The real trouble, though, begins the day she becomes burdened with a case that will force her to extend the law to its limits. Worse still—the new Lieutenant, Aiden Davis, has set an eye on Jordan, and it doesn’t help that he is an unrelenting, too-hot-to-be-allowed ex-marine and more intense than she can bear. But her past makes it impossible to get involved with anyone without resurfacing memories of the one fateful night she desperately wants to forget.
And when the one man she’d never wanted to lay eyes upon again—the man who had inflicted pain on her worse than anyone could ever imagine, the man who had drained her until there was nothing left—shows up once again, her growing attraction toward the new Lieutenant seems to be the least of her problems…
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I took a gulp of air bracing myself for what was about to come. Sheryl knocked on the door, and I ran my hands over my dress in an attempt to smooth out the fabric. My need for food nearly made me sick. I hoped my stomach stayed quiet.
Patrick and Davis lifted their heads simultaneously as we entered.
“Patrick,” Sheryl greeted him. Her voice changed to a sweeter tone as she addressed the newcomer. “Lieutenant Davis.”
I stood next to Sheryl but deliberately stopped a foot behind her. Davis looked at Sheryl, but to my surprise, his gaze never went lower than her face despite the amazing view she provided at chest height. He gave her a short nod in greeting, neither overly friendly nor unfriendly. I bit my lower lip. He didn’t seem like a social kind of guy. Was that a good thing or not?
“Ah, yes,” Patrick said, adjusting the knot of his tie before standing up. “Lieutenant Davis, let me introduce you to my best.”
Davis raised his eyebrows appearing surprised that Patrick was referring to two women, and it was only then that his gaze finally fell upon me.
His eyes zoomed in on my face, his stare penetrating me. I automatically held my breath. Then, he raked my body head to toe with one quick but thorough glance. Fast. So fast, I nearly missed it.
My heart did a crazy little jump. Was he checking me out? Why would he do that when a sexy goddess like Sheryl was standing next to me? I suddenly felt very naked, as though he’d just stripped me down to nothing but my underwear with his intense, unwavering stare.
Davis elegantly rose from his chair. He was so intimidating—respect and power pouring from him in waves—I had the urge to avert my eyes, but they appeared to be glued to his. My headache from before was suddenly forgotten.
He stepped around the desk closing the distance between us in a few strides. He towered over me when he stood that close—claiming my comfort zone—his strong neck at my eye level. I bit back the urge to step back. Or was it an impulse to step forward? Confusing.
“Sergeant Jordan Lively,” Patrick introduced me, oblivious to the wordless conversation that the Lieutenant and I were having, although I wasn’t sure what exactly our silent exchange meant. Standing that close, I could make out the color of his eyes that continued to bore into me—deep blue with shades of turquoise that reminded me of the sea’s hue. I remembered seeing that color printed on the old postcards of a tropical island paradise that had been swallowed by a tsunami decades ago. I think it had been called ‘Hawaii’ or something exotic like that.
Simply stunning. Beautiful, drown-worthy, and unique.
His eyes flitted back and forth between mine until stopping to rest on a particular spot. I could read the question on his face. Everyone asked the same question when they met me the first time: Why was there a misshaped little speck of gray next to my left pupil whereas the rest of the eye was a regular green like the right one? I usually gave my standard excuse: Genetic. No one knew the real truth besides me.
As if on cue, Davis’ gaze landed on my scarf most likely wondering why I was even wearing one. Understandable. It was far too hot in here. I was probably the only person in this part of the country who even owned scarves.
“A pleasure to meet you.”
His voice skimmed my senses, an underlying timbre I couldn’t quite decipher swinging with it. The way the word ‘pleasure’ left his mouth sent funny vibrations through my belly. It took me a second to realize that he’d extended his hand to shake mine. I grasped his hand, and I swear I felt a thumb softly caress my skin before he pulled away.
“It’s an honor,” I managed to say before lifting my chin a little higher. I didn’t want him to think he’d intimidated me. He stepped sideways to greet Sheryl long before his slicing gaze left mine.
“And Detective Sheryl Frayman,” Patrick informed.
“Welcome, Lieutenant Davis,” Sheryl greeted him with a strong voice emanating way more confidence.
“Thanks. Nice to meet you.”
Polite. Nothing more. Was I imagining it? I threw a sideways glance at Sheryl expecting to find disappointment on her face, but instead, she smiled after Davis’ eyes found mine again.
My heart rate increased pounding through my eardrums. Damn, it was stifling in here. The air conditioning must have conked out again.
“What are you specialized in?” Davis asked, perching on the office desk and crossing his ankles. Sheryl folded her hands in front of her but didn’t answer. Davis looked at me expectantly. Apparently, the question was meant for me.
“Murder and rape,” I answered. No point in sugar-coating that. I swear I saw his nostrils flare a tiny bit. Yeah. The question wasn’t exactly one people used to reply with ‘Really? What a great thing to do!’
“Why?” he asked. That was a question I couldn’t possibly answer honestly. It would be a, let’s say, extremely heavy topic to discuss during an initial meeting.
“Because it’s so much fun,” I blurted sarcastically, quirking an eyebrow. I regretted my words as soon as they were out of my mouth. What had gotten into me? Must have been the low blood sugar. Sheryl’s head shot in my direction, and I could feel her what-the-fuck-are-you-doing glare on me. I glared back, shrugging. What was an appropriate answer here?
“Jordan!” Patrick exclaimed in shock, but Davis didn’t seem to bother. His expression hadn’t changed in the slightest still deeply lost in analyzing me. His stare made the air around me even more stifling.
He smacked his lips, the movement attracting my attention. I imagined tracing a finger over them which was silly, really. “You’re one of the best in what you’re doing. That only comes with a proper amount of devotion,” he stated, continuing to study me carefully.
We were getting into dangerous terrain. I needed a way out, so I prompted, “You mean the satisfaction I feel when I finally put the bastard behind bars?” In all honesty, I felt immense satisfaction when I took one of them down during an exchange of fire. It was exhilarating, giving me the feeling I’d done the world something good. However, that wouldn’t be the appropriate thing to say if I wanted to stay professional. I always tried to hide my dark side as best as I could.
“Sergeant Lively apprehended over thirty criminals on her own last year,” Patrick threw in, doing his best to cast a positive light on me. “She tends to work alone.”
Davis nodded in acknowledgment, though he seemed distracted. I transferred my weight to my other foot. God, my heels were killing me. And you couldn’t even open a window when you were stuck on the hundredth-something floor!
Elodie lives in the outskirts of Vienna, Austria, with her longtime boyfriend. She is not a native English speaker, but that doesn’t keep her from putting her fantasies on paper in that beautiful language. Never trained as a professional writer, she started writing as a hobby, which quickly grew into an obsession.
Elodie has an unhealthy addiction to chocolate cookies – which is why she forces herself to go to the gym twice a week – has a weakness for electronic music, and in her spare time she can be found exploring movie databases for the latest DVD releases.
Additionally, she’s busy with reading and writing and gets easily lost in Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Erotica. In her own works, she likes to create rich dystopian stories which consist of bold heroines, sexy guys, and hot romances.
Her biggest idol is the British author, Stephanie Hudson, author of the epic saga “Afterlife”. Elodie secretly hopes to get the chance to meet with Stephanie one day, and talk to her about how she created the greatest story ever written.
The only thing she hates about writing is that she loses all the precious time she could spend reading the hundreds of books that are still on her to-read list.
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Title - Camouflage
Author - Kathleen Mareé
Genre - Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense
Release Date - April 6, 2017
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34088811-camouflage
On the surface, Giselle Duzido could be called many things.
Sassy, determined and breathtakingly beautiful.
But one thing that would never come to tongue, is broken and fragile; because she’s learned to keep that part of herself locked up tight. The veneer she chooses you to see - has it all. Her designer brand is on the rise from her original base in Sydney, to two more stores in Los Angeles and New York; a part of a world she has always fit into seamlessly.
Career-wise? She’s flourishing. Social status? Almost famous!
But scratch just beneath her surface and there it is, eating away at her insides. But at some point, doesn't Sel deserve to have the happily ever after?
She may look just like another twenty-something woman, searching for that earth-shattering love…
But it's all just a camouflage.
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What Others Are Saying:
"I got totally caught up in this unpredictable story and I would highly recommend it." - Reader Review
"The writing is easy to read, the story is fresh and I couldnt put this book down and finished it in one sitting." - Reader Review
" Really gripping start to the book had me hooked right away- I had to know what was going to happen!" - Reader Review
From the earliest age I was a born storyteller.
Ask my parents and they will tell you I had a gift for making a simple event seem like an elaborate one. Purposely? No. Innocently? Yes. It was my imaginary world that initially led me to believe I wanted to be an actor. All of that role playing and living in fantasy... it was an obvious direction for me. However, becoming quite uncomfortable with the limelight quickly saw that dream diminish.
Over the years I turned my world of fantasy into stories, and eventually began writing them down. Before I knew it, 'Cut' had been completed.
When I am not busy writing my next story, I am a working mum, housewife and sometimes hockey wag :) In other words, probably some kind of circus act who specialises in juggling ;)
I hope you enjoy my blog, where I will be posting thoughts, other books I am currently reading and even sneak peeks of my novels. I encourage any feedback, comments or direct messages via my contact page should anyone wish to get in touch.
I am so thrilled to be sharing my journey and hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.
Dream often. Believe always.
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Series: A Wyrdos Tale, #3
Author: Gwendolyn Druyor
Release: March 31, 2017
You can die of fright.
Junior can’t live without it.
Junior Leo just found out he’s the boogeyman’s bastard and his job is to terrify children.
Trick is, none of us ever really grow up. We’re all children at heart.
It’s the rare child that dreams of growing up to be a villain. Junior never did. But can you fight your genetic inheritance? Could he be a hero?
He’s been hiding from the question for eight years but he’s about to encounter an ancient artifact that’s going to show everyone the truth about Junior Leo.
Especially, Junior Leo.
Junior is the third standalone in the Wyrdos Tales series. The Tales each feature a different supernatural character’s involvement in the same apocalyptic event. You get to live it through different eyes each time.
If you like the work of Jim Butcher, T S Paul, and Shayne Silvers, then you will love all the books in The Wyrdos Tales series by Gwendolyn Druyor!
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Gwendolyn Druyor was born at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station Hospital, North Kingston, RI. The ID bracelet wrapped three times around her little wrist. She could swim before she could walk and read before she started school. Thanks to her pilot father, Gwendolyn got to grow up in Maine, Ohio, and Illinois. After completing 3 performance-based degree programs in 4 years at Illinois State University (with a minor in English), she started her illustrious acting career as a saloon girl dancing the cancan in upstate New York.
Gwendolyn has traveled the world telling stories. She spent a year in Amsterdam writing and performing sketch comedy at Boom Chicago with Seth Meyers (Late Night with Seth Meyers), Allison Silverman (Colbert Report), and Greg Scott Shapiro(voice of the Dutch Trump!).
She’s toured North America with Shenandoah Shakespeare (11 people in 3 vehicles performing 78 roles) and with the incredible improv/educational show Sex Signals in an effort to make sex better for all.
Since kinda sorta settling down, Gwendolyn has written for and performed with various sketch groups in the states, including The Future Dead, Improv International, and G2 Productions. For now she lives in Hollywood with her Irish Jack Russell, Josh Lyman Zyrga, who is still pissed she didn’t put him on the cover of Laylea.
For more information on Gwendolyn and her projects sign up for her newsletter at www.GwendolynDruyor.com.
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Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Gwendolyn-Druyor/e/B00D96JVXE
Text Copyright © 2017 by Gwendolyn Druyor
All Rights Reserved
Don’t sleep with your closet door open.
When you were a child, you believed there were monsters in the closet. You watched your mom or dad or legal court appointed guardian leave your bedroom. They’d snake a hand back in through the doorway and flip off your light. With no consideration for the sliver of light they could leave you through the crack of that door, they shut it with a click. In the dark—no matter how many siblings share your room, in the dark you are always alone. You try breathing quietly, but he can hear the beating of your heart. You stare at the closet, thinking that if you don’t blink he can’t sneak up on you. But the dark is his ally. He can see your eyes glowing in the dark. And he can move invisibly through your room, under your bed. He’ll paralyze you with fear so that you cannot escape. So shut your eyes tight and pull the covers over your head if it makes you feel better. But it won’t help. If you leave the closet door open, the boogeyman can get you.
“Sorry, wrong room.” Junior turned to flee back into the bedroom closet.
He rebounded off a shimmering, intractable wall of air. The force sent him tripping backwards, avoiding the wailing infant that had drawn him into the room.
A few feet beyond the magical circle, under an outdated mobile of the solar system, a dusky boy of about ten sat crosslegged on a rag rug, his hands poised over the shuttle of a ouija board, his jaw hanging open.
The kid squeaked, coughed, and then exclaimed, “Holy crap, it worked! I caught the boogeyman!”
Junior fell against the side of the prison closest to the kid, who flinched. Junior used the magical wall to steady himself with one combat-booted foot on either side of the six-month-old’s flailing limbs. His pale hands glowed where they touched the magic. The gauze wrapped around each palm lit up. The bandages sizzled though he felt nothing on his burnt fingers. He pressed a hand flat and saw the bones through the bandages and skin as clearly as on an x-ray. Of course, skeletal as he was, he could see them almost that clearly without a magical prison wall for enhancement.
The wall rose from a chain of silverware encircling Junior in his peacoat and the wailing baby in her too-big Ewok onesie. It trapped them in the middle of a larger-than-average bedroom with books, clothes, and action figures strewn literally everywhere. Harley Quinn straddled the deep bowl of a torchiere floor lamp on the far side of a bed covered with a tangle of Star Wars sheets and a Batman comforter. A disturbingly muscular Spiderman dangled by red yarn from an air vent high on one wall. Just outside the circle of silverware, Junior saw Deadpool laying face-down in a pile of dirty socks, threatened by Wonder Woman wielding his own katana.
Junior couldn’t smell the socks. He could barely hear the hiss of the standing humidifier half-buried in a Slytherin cloak. The shimmering walls of his prison dulled everything outside. Inside the bright, nose-tickling powder of freshly-washed baby battled his own indefinable homeless musk. He brushed his teeth as often as he could and washed his face, socks, and underwear every few nights. His jeans and t-shirts got cleaned much less frequently.
Pretty much every square inch of the bedroom’s plush carpet was covered except for a swath of space just in front of the closet door and within the circle of Junior and the baby’s prison. The walls fared no better. Pale green paint peeked out from the rare spaces between overlapping posters of superheroes, scientific theories, astrology, and Ohio.
The kid leapt to his feet, whacking his head on Jupiter and sending the planets spinning. He gripped his curly black hair with both hands and then grabbed his Captain America pajama pants before they fell down. “I caught the boogeyman!”
Junior was too hungry and tired for this. He had somewhere to be. He reached up and ran a hand along the impenetrable, shimmering barrier of air stretching from ceiling to floor, searching for weaknesses. He found none.
“Let me go.”
His captor laughed. “Hell no.”
The wailing settled to silence as the towheaded baby sucked in a tiny lungful of air. Her mouth opened wide in an astonished O and she seemed to look right into Junior’s hazel eyes. Then she squeezed her own eyes, opened her mouth and renewed screaming. Junior crouched to comfort her. It was why he’d come through the door in the first place. “There, there. It’s okay. You’re okay.”
The kid chanted, “I did it! I caught the boogeyman. I caught the boogeyman.” He kicked the ouija board aside and danced around the room, scattering toys. When he passed the full-length mirror on his bedroom door, he spun around to announce to himself, “I, Ethan Durnell, caught the boogeyman.”
Junior stood, bouncing the baby girl in his arms, careful at first of her weight on his ruined hands. “No. You didn’t.”
Ethan turned, his brown eyes glowing. He held his arms out to the sides, inviting his guest to come at him. “Really? You can get out of there?”
Junior considered kicking the silverware but he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to break the spell. He sighed and crooned at the crying baby. “Please let me go. I’ve got somewhere to be and I’m not the boogeyman.”
The kid smirked, “Yeah right. You came out of my closet, but you’re not the boogeyman?”
“You have to grant me three wishes now.”
Junior raised an eyebrow at the kid. “That’s a djinni.”
“Isn’t the boogeyman a genie?”
“No, he’s an as—” Junior censored himself. The kid was a jerk but he was still a kid. “The boogeyman is a type of goblin.”
“Ewwww,” Ethan plopped down on the edge of his bed. “You’re a goblin?”
Junior cooed at the baby. “Is this your sister?”
Junior noted the bile in Ethan’s tone. “What’s her name?”
“Dawn.” He spit the word. “She’s the dawn of their new life together.”
At that, Junior looked up. He stopped bouncing. “Really?”
Dawn’s cries increased.
“Okay.” Junior rocked the unfortunately named baby as he paced around the small circle. This wasn’t an easy life. Jane said he should think of it as a calling. And Jane was a god; he should trust her advice. But it wasn’t a calling. He could travel from closet to closet and paralyze people with fear. That didn’t sound like a calling. Or a life. It sounded like the genetic lottery had handed him a sack of lemons.
“You’re not so ugly, for being a goblin. Aren’t goblins hideous?” Ethan lay on the bed, examining Junior.
Junior let his pacing take him back around to face the kid before he responded. Ethan could see him. Most people were so racked with fear every moment of their lives, they couldn’t see Junior at all. But Ethan, in the dark of the middle of the night, could see him. What ten-year-old was so fearless? He looked at the boy. “A) Thanks. B) I’m half-goblin. I’m not the boogeyman, kid. I’m the boogeyman’s kid.”
“Sooooo, wouldn’t that make you a boogeyman, then?”
“People don’t talk about a boogeyman. They talk about the boogeyman. That’s my dad.”
“But you just came out of my closet.”
“Sure. I can also roll my tongue because my mother could. What’s that got to do with who I am?”
The ten-year-old scrunched his face like he was talking to an idiot. “Everything.”
“No!” Junior stomped one booted foot. “I don’t want to be the boogeyman.”
Dawn had almost calmed. He shouldn’t have scared her. He looked down at her wide-open eyes staring at nothing. She was so scared she couldn’t see him. He sighed.
“Please let me go, Ethan.”
“No. I called you and caught you fair and square.”
“What do you want, kid? Why did you call me here? You really thought the boogeyman could grant wishes?”
Ethan shrugged. “Whatever.” He bounced over to a book on the floor by the door and dropped down to flip through the pages. “The instructions were for summoning a demon but that seemed, like, really stupid to me.”
“Yeah.” Junior shivered. “Yeah, that would be stupid. You don’t want a demon in your bedroom.”
Ethan spun around. “You’ve seen a demon?”
“No. It wasn’t cool at all. It was terrifying.”
“You’re an adult. Adults don’t get scared.”
Junior snorted. Dawn giggled. “You have a lot to learn kid.”
“So tell me. Nobody ever tells kids anything. It’s like we’re invisible until we do something wrong.”
“Like use your baby sister as bait to catch a demon.”
“You’re not a demon.” The kid kicked at the ouija board.
“No, but I am a monster. You want to know things? Listen.”
“I do. I’m always listening to the blah, blah, blah—”
“Now, Ethan! I mean shut up and listen now. You want to know about feeling invisible?” Junior let the words tumble out. “I have been invisible for eight years. Eight years ago when you were still as cute as Dawn, I discovered that I could travel through time and space using bedroom closets. I traveled back in time and did something stupid. Now I can’t get back to my life. I’m stuck in this world, this . . .” He struggled to find the word.
“Alternate timeline.” Ethan scrambled over to his pale blue bookshelf and dug through the pile of books on the floor around it. He waved A Wrinkle in Time in the air, hitting the solar system mobile again.
“Never read it.”
The kid gave Junior a pitying look.
“I’m stuck in this alternate timeline where I’m older than my mother who has no son.”
Dawn gurgled around the two fingers she’d stuck in her mouth. Junior looked down. Her pale blue eyes were still wide but he couldn’t tell if she could see him or not. She stared at the wobbling planets. He cooed at her to calm himself. Ethan waited.
“I’m invisible to anyone who’s afraid, which is, sorry to tell you kid, everyone. I can make people see me but that paralyzes them. I can travel anywhere in the world through closets, but only through bedroom closets for some reason.”
“And you can time travel.” Ethan tossed a Dr. Who action figure in the air. “Just go back if you want to.”
“I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know how I do any of it. I don’t want to scare people.” He mumbled down at Dawn, “I don’t want to be the boogeyman.”
“Sorry, dude. Sometimes you’re given a sister and you just have to deal with it. That’s the way it is.”
Junior looked up from the baby. He raised his eyebrows at Ethan. “A) You don’t strike me as one of those kids who just repeats what others say.”
Ethan hung his head at that. He pretended to pick at a smudge on his pajama pants.
“B) I am a monster who tortures kids. I accept that. Fine. Maybe kids like you deserve to be tortured. But I met a demon today who tortured a grown woman who definitely didn’t deserve to die. I am the only one who can get to her grandson, a kid named Louis. That’s where I was going when you trapped me here. Do you know what it’s like to lose someone you love?”
Ethan sat, leaning against the shelves crammed with books. He shrugged.
Junior turned away to face the open closet on the far side of the silver ring. He sucked in deep, slow breaths. He didn’t have a lot of time. If he wanted to help Louis, he had to get there now. One of Ethan’s many posters featured a listing of age appropriate books with checkmarks drawn in beside most of them. His doorway was blocked with a Bartlett’s, a dictionary, and the Bevington edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Ethan himself was surrounded by books on the shelves and on the floor around him.
He faced the kid. “You like a good story?”
Junior ran a hand through his unruly mop of dirty blond curls. “How about I tell you a story. If you like it, you let me go.”
“It’s gotta be a good story.”
Junior grinned down at Dawn then raised his eyes to Ethan’s. “Duh.”
The kid rolled over to his bed. He settled into the corner created by his bed and the bookshelf and hugged his knees to his chest. “Go.”
Junior shook his head. “Do we have a deal?”
“You’ll let me go?”
“Yeah. I already said I would. I’m not my dad either. I don’t say things if I don’t mean them. I’m not gonna tell you I’ll let you go and then poof, ha ha, sorry, I have to work and you’re stuck here with Dawn and—”
“Ethan.” Junior waited while the kid wound down again. “You called me here and trapped me. I may not be a demon or the real boogeyman, but still, you have to know a little something about magic to have gotten this far. Yes?”
“So you have to promise to let me go, three times.”
“Oh. Then it’s binding and I can’t welsh.”
“Fine. I’ll let you go. I’ll let you go. I’ll let you go.” He said. “After your story.”
Junior nodded. “Where are we?”
Ethan glanced up at a map on the wall like Junior should have already seen it and known. “Ohio.”
“Well this story takes place in Illinois. In Chicago. It’s the story of how meeting a few real monsters made me realize I’m not so bad.” Junior frowned down at Dawn’s infectious grin as he thought about where to begin. A lot had happened in the past twelve hours.