The Bar Next Door
My relationships have all been duds, just packs of seeds I hopefully sprinkle onto freshly tilled soil and nurture for weeks on end, only to watch some runty little weed poke its head up and then wither a few days later. My mother says I have a habit of taking on boyfriends as ‘projects’ and that I like to ‘seek fulfillment by helping others reach their potential instead of working toward my own.’
That’s what you get having a former psychologist for a mother.
The man in front of me doesn’t look like he needs any help on the road to Potential Town; everything about him announces he’s already there.
“I think I know that guy.”
Roxanne’s declaration startles me back into the present. I realize we’ve both moved so close to the door we’ve almost got our noses against the glass. I step back and rip my gaze away from beardie to give her an incredulous look.
“You know that guy?”
She might as well have just told me she’s real tight with Zeus and that they hang out all the time on Mount Olympus.
About the Author: Rue Volley
*Voted OUAB Author of the Year of 2018*
Rue Volley is a USA Today Bestselling Author and award-winning screenwriter who is best known for creating compelling storylines with a multitude of twists and turns that leave her readers virtually speechless.
She specializes in paranormal romances that include otherworldly characters who, regardless of their supernatural abilities, feel oddly familiar, or in other words, human. This, coupled with her easy reading style, wicked sense of humor, and excellent world building skills, has garnered her a fiercely loyal fan base over the past decade who support her regardless of what genre she chooses to write in.
Some of her best works include 13 Ways to Midnight, Hellhound, The Devil's Gate, and A Vampires Tale of Blood and Light. All of which utilize her skill at piecing together compelling dramas that highlight her love for vampires, witches, angels, and demons across many genres including young adult, new adult, urban fantasy, and erotic romance.
Rue Volley's work seems to be synonymous with one phrase in the publishing world.
She is accredited with two award-winning screenplays for film, Hellhound (original script, 2014) and Awakening (contributing screenwriter, 2015). IMDb: imdb.com/name/nm7043310/
Rue is represented by Gladys Gonzales Atwell, Publicist, and Sarah Davis Brandon, Publisher, and Neil M. Schwartz, Editor and Manager.
Business inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with Rue:
My Journey to Publication
My journey to publication evolved over time, but it wasn’t until almost ten years ago that I became serious. I already had the equivalent of about 200,000 words on my computer, and after achieving a degree in Creative Writing from New York University, I was able to convert all those words into something worth reading.
The professors at NYU gave me the tools I needed to make my dream come true, and believe me, I had a lot to learn. Punctuation, Pesky run-on sentences and the Power of show don’t tell. I still have problems with commas as my editor with gladly tell you, but overall, my writing improved greatly. (I know, I really didn’t need that adverb.)
Armed with all the tools I needed, I converted those words into three books, which became my Paradise Series. I read that entering contests was an excellent way to get noticed, so I entered at least three a month and was pleasantly surprised when I became a finalist in many of them.
I would highly recommend entering contests as most have agents and editors as judges and even if they don’t request your work, you will get critiques. Some of my most valuable critiques have come from contest judges. Entering contests is what brought me to Soul Mate Publishing. Cheryl Yeko was a judge, liked my work, and offered me a contract for my Paradise Series with the first, Beyond Paradise, published December 12, 2018.
I have always considered reading a luxury and writing a necessity.
Just a Fling
We are packed in this club like sardines because, apparently, my girlfriends and I are the only ones who have never heard of FriqueShow. And that surprises me a little, considering how much of my life is spent chasing random links on the internet in my endless downtime at work.
I take another step forward, sidestepping someone who grumbles at me for cutting in and wedge myself unapologetically against the bar. I reach up on my toes trying to get the bartender’s attention. As my arm comes up to rest on the sticky surface, it brushes against another person. Against an abdomen to be sure. The solid surface I feel could be nothing else unless a warm, fabric-covered wall was somehow erected beside me in the last three seconds.
I look over my shoulder to prove myself correct if nothing else. The hairs on my neck stand on end. It’s him. The tall guy from the landing found me even with my stealth tactics. He stares down at me with scorn in his eyes, berating me for trying to outrun him. I turn my head back to neutral before smiling and praise his long legs and his ability to move through a sea of people with such ease.
It’s not normal for strangers to press up against each other while waiting for libations but he does. The smell of his cologne wafts down from his height and drapes over my shoulders. Spicy. The good kind of spicy; not the acrid I-just-came-from-an-all-you-can-eat-buffet scent. It lingers in my nostrils and I now enjoy my time in line while breathing him in.
His hands find their way to my hips just as space opens up in front of me. Fingers apply firm pressure leading me forward like I can’t do it on my own. Although, I’m beginning to wonder that myself as my legs tingle from his touch. I shiver even as sweat dampens the back of my neck again and I know I’m done for. The silent communication has me licking my lips and holding my breath in anticipation of his next move. Where will he take me from here?
My friend traces his hand along my lower back as he steps to my side where we can finally get a good look at each other. My eyes start at the hand that lingers on my waist then travel up his forearm to his bicep that sits snuggly in the sleeve of his white tee. His neck leads into a strong, square jaw, and – Oh, hello! my nether regions call out to the man that has me gasping for air at the feeling of being swallowed up by the ocean for a second time. My companion smiles, revealing a dimple in his left cheek. He runs his hand through his shortish, dark brown hair, pulling it away from his similarly-coloured eyes. Eyes that sparkle with the flashing lights in the bar.
He says something to me but it’s too many words strung together for me to lip read. I shake my head and raise my palms to the ceiling indicating that I didn’t catch what he said. He places a hand on my right shoulder then leans in across my body to speak into my left ear. His fingers gently stroke my hair, tucking it behind my ear and I shiver again under his touch.
I like my body’s reaction to him.
He presses softly against the tragus of my ear closing it off to sound and leans in so close I feel his breath on my ear and neck as he speaks in a low voice. “Vodka tonic with a lime?” I am surprised at how he uses a normal volume to speak. Instead of being screamed at, I am graced with the deep, warm tones of his voice. I’m also surprised that he knows what I’ve been drinking. He apparently found me long before I found him.
Even in my high heels, I have to reach up on my toes to get close to his ear. I put my hand on his waist and mimic his noise-canceling trick of closing off his ear, saying that I am just here for water. I am mindful not to speak too quietly, although I wouldn’t mind having to keep my hand on him to repeat myself. His torso is firm and feels solid beneath my fingers. My dirty mind is already wondering what he looks like shirtless.
Title: When Wishes Bleed
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: YA Fantasy
Editor: Stacy Sanford/ The Girl with the Red Pen
Cover Designer: Melissa Stevens/ The Illustrated Author Design Services
Publication Date: November 1st, 2019
Hosted by: Lady Amberâs PR
One Prince. One Witch. One Fate.
The upheaval in my life began the moment a prince stumbled into my house and asked me to read his fortune. Any other night, I might have made an excuse to get him to leave, but this was no normal visit. My fingers prickled to touch him. So, I granted his request by handing him a single wishbone. When he snapped it, the wish â¦ bled.
Hearing me suck in a shocked breath, he asked what it meant. Such an ominous omen could only mean one thing: his death was imminent. Fate revealed that he wouldnât die of natural causes. Someone wanted him dead. Stunned by the revelation, the man I now knew as Prince Tauren disappeared into a night I feared he wouldnât survive. The following day, I received an invitation to the castle. While it seemed the prince believed I could intervene and uncover who was plotting his death, his motives didnât stop there. I was being summoned to join twelve other women in vying for the opportunity to be his wife and future queen.
Going could mean jeopardizing my plans to reclaim my heritage and resurrect the House of Fate. But staying would guarantee Taurenâs death, and the blood of his wish would be on my hands.
Casey Bond lives in West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. She likes goats and yoga, but hasn't tried goat yoga because the family goat is so big he might break her back. Seriously, he's the size of a pony. Her favorite books are the ones that contain magical worlds and flawed characters she would want to hang out with. Most days of the week, she writes young adult fantasy books, letting her imaginary friends spill onto the blank page.
Casey is the award-winning author of When Wishes Bleed, the Frenzy series, and fairy tale retellings such as Riches to Rags, Savage Beauty, Unlocked and Brutal Curse. Learn more about her work at www.authorcaseybond.com.
Website: www.authorcaseybond.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorcaseybond Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorcaseybond Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7212486.Casey_L_Bond Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/caseyb007 Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PmE0pg
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gcAu9vâTea, wax, or bones?â I asked, waiting for the answer I already knew sheâd give. The girl chewed on her bottom lip while considering the three options. The smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks made her appear younger than she was, but her indecision was what truly showed her immaturity. She knew what I could read before stepping inside. She shouldâve come inside knowing her choice.
The auburn hue of her hair was the same hue of the heap of loose tea leaves lying on the counter. Across the room, the kettle leaked steam. Loose, languid tendrils curled and entwined with one another. I could get lost in their silken dance if I stared long enough, so I snapped my eyes back to her to refocus.
The water wasnât heating for her. It warmed for the boy in the woods. He stood behind my cabin, clinging to the rough bark of a tree, desperately trying to talk himself into knocking on my door and asking me to read his fate, and berating himself for considering leaving before gathering it.
Eventually, he would garner enough gumption to approach and ask me for the favor he coveted, but not before witnessing the girlâs hasty exit. He would emerge from the woods as she left through the back door, because it would guarantee that his reputation would be kept safe. The girl would guard his secret so that he wouldnât expose hers. And he would choose a tea leaf reading because he feared the color of candle that might choose him and that the bones might tell him something he wasnât prepared to hear; guide him where he was yet afraid to step.
He was a boy of calculated risks, who wrestled with intense self-doubt. A boy who would rather cling to a tree than let go.
The girl inched farther into the room as if she was easing into a lake of cold water. There wasnât much to see in the small, open space. A couch to her left. A simple, square table and chairs, a few cabinets, countertops littered with precious stones and potted herbs, the hearth with its flickering fire, and the thicker slivers of steam pouring from the kettle.
Her pale, amber eyes caught on the casting cloth stretched over the tableâs top. She noticed the wishbones piled high in a silver bowl, desperately wishing she werenât so weak. I couldnât hear her words in my head, but followed the way her delicate features revealed a swell of emotions that built and crashed over her countenance.
âFate doesnât favor the weak,â I warned the girl as she shifted her weight back and forth, worrying her fingers. Her eyes met mine. In their depths swam both guilt and confusion. I elaborated for her. âYou shouldnât fear the bones. They can reveal things the wax and leaves cannot.â
She was a girl who wouldnât take advice even when it was in her best interest, a girl who gave fear dominion over her decisions.
Her eyes flicked to a nearby shelf and the colorless candles it held. She refused to look away from the pale tapers, afraid the bones would call out to her again. They always did.
âI choose wax, please,â she said, her voice quivering. The little mouse was terrified, not of the tea or wax, or even the bonesâ¦ but of me.
I gave her a smile to put her at ease, all too aware that it might do the opposite, and moved to the shelf, gathering the mound of slender tapers and bringing them over to the table. âWould you care to remove the cloth?â
She hesitated, but gently pinched the corners of the dark, silken square and pulled it from the wooden surface. I lay the tapers down, steadying them so none rolled off, then took the cloth from her. During the exchange, the tremble in her fingers rippled through the fabric into mine.
Her eyes flicked to the plate of wishbones again, then back to me. I wouldnât offer them to her again. She had made her choice, and my time was as valuable as my reading. I wouldnât waste it on indecision or fear.
I folded the dark casting cloth, tucked it into the wide pocket of my dress, and removed the bowl of bones from her sight. Tension oozed out of the girlâs muscles as soon as they were gone. I scooped a basket of mismatched candleholders from the shelves, handing it to her. âPlace a taper in each and arrange them in a circle.â
She shifted her weight from her left foot to her right, then back again. âWhich do I start with? They all look the same.â
âYouâll find they donât feel the same. Hold each and place it where you feel it belongs. The pattern is yours to design.â
Her lips pinched together.
âThink about a question to which youâd like to know the answer. Focus on it and the feel of the taper in your hand, then place it. If you allow it, the wax will show you the answer in the pattern you make. Let me know when youâre satisfied with the circle. The colors will reveal themselves, and I will decipher them for you.â
She swallowed thickly and then picked up a taper, closing her fist around it and shutting her eyes for a brief moment before popping them open. She placed the first taper in the candleholder located at the twelve oâclock position. Slowly, she formed a circle. She couldnât see past the opaque wax to the color lying beneath, but I knew each one by heart. Her arrangement surprised me. It contained jarring combinations of yellow and black, violet and green, orange and white. When sheâd completed the circle, she glanced up expectantly.
âYouâre satisfied?â I asked.
She looked over the circle she made and nodded. âThis feels right.â
âI didnât expect this from you,â I revealed, waving my hands over the sacred circle. The tapers lifted from their holders and began to spin around in the air. Their true colors absorbed into the white wax from the tip of each taper to its base. I expected to read her pattern, but again, she surprised me. Or rather, her fortune did. One candle in particular chose her, which was a rare gift.
Her eyes struggled to keep up as the tapers slowed, and she watched warily as a single candle left its position in the wheel and drifted into the center. The wax was the color of eggplant, or a deep and long-lasting bruise â an unfortunate fortune for any witch to garner, but a wise witch would heed the warning and might be able to change her fateâ¦
âWhat does it mean?â
âItâs a warning.â
âForesight is a gift of Fate. If you heed his warning, you can make choices to avoid a catastrophe.â
Her lips barely moved, but I saw them form a soundless âcatastropheâ.
âWhat will happen to me?â she asked.
I whispered an incantation. Flame seared its wick, growing tall and flickering. Dark smoke drafted toward the ceiling. She watched the flame, the element and source of her power. The reflection of fire shone in her eyes. âExtinguish it,â I said softly.
She closed her eyes and the flame died instantly.
âStay away from the border.â
âFor how long?â
I quirked a brow. She shouldnât be going there unaccompanied, anyway. âWhy are you leaving without permission?â
The girl swallowed.
Gripping the taper, I read the lingering breath sheâd blown onto the wick. âA boy in Twelve? Youâve been sneaking across for monthsâ¦â
Her eyes widened. âPlease, donât tell the Priestess. Iâll be banished from the House.â
âThe young manâs heart is as black as his words are sweet. Heâs luring you into a web of lies. You should never see him again.â
Her lip began to quiver.
Oh, no. I could already feel the punch of emotions roiling through her. There was nothing I could do to stop a feeling as strong as love, but if I could get through to her, make her see that it was a love that had never been reciprocatedâ¦ âDo you love him?â
âYes,â she croaked.
âHe does not love you.â A fat tear fell onto her cheek. She looked down at her shoes. Ashamed. âDeep down, you already know this.â
A second tear fell from her eye. This one splashed onto the tip of her leather boot.
âThe occasional tryst might be overlooked, but you know that to be with anyone outside The Gallows means that you can never return. Without your House, your power would dwindle. Do you wish to lose your flame?â
She shook her head. She had to know that whatever fling sheâd been having with the boy couldnât last, but forbidden fruit was a temptation some couldnât force themselves to turn away from.
I softened my voice, hoping she could see reason. âWhat about your life? Do you wish to have it snuffed out?â
The girl began to cry in earnest. She knew I couldnât and wouldnât lie to her, but the feelings she harbored for the malicious young man were as strong as his will to break her.
âI can see his will,â I revealed, âand its only purpose is to hurt you.â The truth often stung.
Her eyes snapped to mine. âHe wouldnât do that.â
âIf you see him again, you will die by his hand.â
She shook her head and wiped her nose. âHe would never hurt me.â
âItâs the truth. Now, you must make an important choice. The most urgent of your life. Will you heed my warning, or accept your fate?â
She pushed by me and flung open the back door. A loud slam rattled the walls. I almost chastised her for rudeness, but in her defense, her reading was rather shocking. Most of the time, I had a sliver of hope that the person I read for might change their fate, but I didnât think she would.
If she went to him tonight as planned, this moment â and I â would be one of the last things she recalled before death claimed her.
Blurb: Raven Romero is a washed up Valkyrie who is unable to return to Valhalla, spending her days in a haze of sex, drugs, and alcohol.
When she is wrongfully accused of murder, Raven has two options: run or clear her name. With a laundry list of enemies, she has no idea who could be framing her. One thing is for sure: they know what she is and they'll stop at nothing until she’s behind bars or dead.
With no choice but to delve into the supernatural underground she tried so hard to avoid, Raven seeks aid and learns what it means to be human.
The world believes her kind no longer exists, but Raven Romero is The Last Valkyrie.
Buy Link: https://amzn.to/3225izk
Your one stop spot for delicious food and books you’ll devour!