​​*** Snippet Saturday ** Tuesday 16th January, 2017 (okay, so nowhere near a Saturday)
From Saving Illyana -- The Litmus Series Book 3. Coming January 23, 2017
EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON


PRE-ORDER HERE


1

TAKEN

Everyone has that little voice inside their head that always seems smarter and wiser than the outside person. People with higher morals tend to have dominating consciences. Other people have learnt to tune theirs out completely. Me? I can’t shut my voice of reason up even when I try. Like right now.

You shouldn’t be doing this.

But I want to do this.

No, you don’t.

“Shut up,” I mutter against Seth’s mouth, but I don’t mean to say it aloud.

Seth pulls back from me, a small smirk playing on his lips. “Did you just tell me to shut up while I was kissing you?”

“No. You’re crazy.”

And yet, you’re the one arguing with the voice in your head.

Ugh.

Seth takes my mouth with his again, walking me backwards and lifting me onto the table behind me. His hands run down my sides, making their way to my thighs. His fingers scrunch the silky material of my mauve bridesmaid’s dress, moving it upwards against my skin.

Something inside me, other than my conscience, tells me to stop, just like all the other times we’ve been close to taking this next step. My gut’s telling me I’m not ready.

“Wait,” I say, breaking my lips from his.

I’ve loved him since we were kids. I’ve wanted this for so long, and he finally noticed me last year, but there’s something still holding me back. I try to convince myself that it’s because of my age, that I’m only sixteen, but then that stupid voice … it constantly tries to convince me that something else isn’t quite right.

Seth steps away, running his hand through his hair in frustration. His tie is loose and his dress shirt is dishevelled. The redness of his eyes and the lingering taste in my mouth reminds me how much he’s had to drink tonight.

“I’m sorry. I jus—”

“Yeah, yeah, heard it all before.” He shoves his hands in his pockets and avoids making eye contact with me.

“We’re at my sister’s wedding. Did you really think I was going to give it up in the back room of some banquet hall on some random trundle table?”

He scoffs. “Whatever. You should get back out there. I’ll follow in a few minutes.”

“Seth—”

“Seriously, Illy. Just leave.”

“Are you pissed?”

“Nope. I’m not allowed to be that guy.”

“What guy?” My voice wavers and I hate myself for it.

“The guy who dates someone younger than him and then complains when he isn’t getting laid. But dammit. You turned sixteen months ago, it’s finally legal for us to be together, and I’ve been waiting for an entire year.”

“Yet, every time I tell you I’m not ready, you ignore me for three days and then come back and pretend like nothing’s wrong.”

He rubs his eyes with the palms of his hands. “I don’t want to pressure you, but I don’t want to lie to you. You know I love you, right?”

He’s said it, sure, but his words have never eased my doubts about him. The words fall out of his mouth carelessly, as if they have no meaning.

All I can do is nod. My tongue’s suddenly dry and unwilling to cooperate with the rest of my mouth.

“Sometimes I … I need release. I’m a twenty-year-old male—what do you expect from me?”

“W-what are you saying? That if I don’t give it to you soon, you’ll go elsewhere?” My heart stops, my breath knocked out of me.

“I don’t want to give you an ultimatum. I don’t want to be that guy. I love you, but maybe your brother’s right. You’re too young for me.”

Anger rises up, coming out of my mouth like verbal vomit. “Well, maybe if you had the guts to tell Will about us, I’d be more willing. Instead, I’m your little secret.”

He groans. “I’m not getting into this with you again. You know how Will feels about us being together. He’s threatened to kill me—numerous times—when he’s caught me looking at you the wrong way.”

“He wouldn’t actually kill you.”

“No, but he’d hate me, and he’s my best friend. I can’t do it to him.”

“Ever?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if you’re never going to tell Will about us, then what are we doing? Do we even have a future?”

He starts laughing. “Teen romances never end well.”

My eyes widen at his blatant confession. “I’m beginning to wonder what I see in you at all.”

His steps closer to me, his face softening. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.” He leans in and tries to kiss me, but I move my head and his lips land on my cheek. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I want to try.”

I push him away, wiggling my way off the table. “Maybe you’re right. I need time to think.”

Everything was going so well between us up until a few months ago—right after he stopped calling me jailbait when I turned sixteen. He assumed because the law says I’m old enough to consent, that I’d be ready. Yet, months later, I still haven’t given it up. Now it seems all we do is fight. Not only about sex but about everything. He claims it’s because he’s frustrated, but I’m not going to do something I’m not ready for because he’s demanding it.

My cousin, Anna, tells me I should get it over with. It’s all part of the parcel of being with an older guy. I don’t want to have to make a choice between what I want and what he wants, but if he pushes me, I will, and I’ll pick me every time. Apparently stubbornness is a family trait. The more Seth pushes, the more I pull away from him.

I go to step away, but he grabs my arm and yanks me back. The gentleness he once used with me is absent.

“Don’t walk away. I said I was sorry. I’ve been drinking, and you know what I’m like when I’m drunk. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Let go, Seth,” I say through gritted teeth.

He grips my arm tighter.

“Let go,” I warn again but louder this time.

I’m about to drop his ass to the ground when the door to the cluttered ballroom-slash-storage room bursts open.

“You heard the lady,” an unfamiliar voice says.

Seth’s grip falters, but he doesn’t let go. He does, however, pull me in front of him, using me as a human shield against the three men standing by the exit. Granted, their faces are obscured by creepy-ass white masks under the hoods of their jackets, but still, coward.

Seth’s all but forgotten as adrenaline kicks in, and I stare down the mystery trio.

They don’t scare me. I can get out of here in a nanosecond with my supersonic ability. I’ve been trained for situations like this, and I’m cool as a cucumber. Okay, minus my heartbeat that’s trying to kill me with how fast it’s pumping. I’ll be cool as a cucumber as soon as I’m out that door.

A fleeting thought crosses my mind, wondering if this is one of my mother’s impromptu training sessions, but the idea leaves as fast as it comes. She may be a hardass, but I doubt she’d interrupt Nuka’s wedding for a quick training op.

She began training me and my sibings so we would be prepared for anything. Because she’s a high-profile figure in the community, our family is often targeted. Mainly her, but for years, she’s been warning us that anything could happen.

We usually roll our eyes at her.

Guess she’d be telling me “I told you so” right now if she was in this room.

I don’t know what the three men in front of me want, but right now it doesn’t matter. All that matters is I get out and get help.

“Seth, let me go. I need to get help,” I whisper.

The three figures advance as Seth’s grip finally loosens. I go to run, turn supersonic, and get the hell out of here, but nothing happens. My feet move at regular speed no matter how hard I try to use my ability.

“T formation,” the guy in the middle says.

With the quick demand, the other two make their move, trying to circle around Seth and me.

“Hold those two off,” I say to Seth as I charge the man in front of me. Seth curses under his breath.

It’s probably unfair of me to give him the two to handle when he has absolutely no fighting experience, but tactical thought lets me know it’s what I have to do. I have to think three steps ahead, not get lost in the moment.

My attacker is ready for me and anticipates my planned attempt to try to evade him. So instead, I meet him head on and charge him. My palm meets his nose as I thrust my hand upwards. I feel and hear the crunch of bone under my palm.

“Argh!” He stumbles and grabs a hold of his face which is still covered by his mask.

I keep running for the door. As I reach the exit and turn to run down the hallway, I hit smack-bang into a wall of hard muscle.

Another one of them. This guy grabs me around my waist so I’m up against him with no possible way to move. He’s much taller and broader than the other three. His arms are the size of tree stumps.

He lifts me and throws me over his shoulder as if I were weightless and carries me back into the room with me kicking and screaming. If I scream loud enough, maybe someone in the other ballroom will hear me.

My fists hit his back, but he doesn’t even flinch. He’s not affected by my tiny frame and pitiful punches.

A deep rumble of a laugh comes from beneath me. “What happened to you?” he asks the guy I punched in the face. “She’s just a little girl.”

“Fuck you!” I yell.

“A little girl with a foul mouth by the sound of it. Don’t worry, we’ll teach you some manners.”

I kick and scream some more, but the giant doesn’t budge.

“We have two minutes to get her out of here,” the guy I punched says in a nasally voice.

“Shaw’s probably about to bust a blood vessel. Let’s go,” the giant holding me says.

He turns to walk out, and as he does, I catch a glimpse of Seth knocked out on the floor. Dammit.

“What do you want?” I demand, proud I keep my tone firm even though I’m struggling to breathe and the blood’s rushing to my head from hanging over the giant’s shoulder.

“You know, the boss told me you’d be a lot harder to take than this,” the giant says, ignoring my barely confident question.

He’s got one arm around my waist, crushing me to him, and the other meaty arm is around my legs to prevent me from being able to kick him efficiently. My elbows however …

I send a large jab with my elbow into the back of his neck. His arms release me, and I fall to the ground in a heap on the floor.

“There’s the spirit I was told about,” the giant says, standing over me. “I’m going to have so much fun breaking you in.”

“Can’t wait,” I say, my voice raspy and laced with sarcasm.

A dash of hope is restored when I feel it. It’s back. My ability zings through my body, heating my core. Now’s my chance.

Moving quicker than humanly possible, I’m on my feet, but I only get a few steps when the giant has his massive arms around me again.

“Didn’t think you were the only one, did you?” he asks casually and slowly, even though I’m still in supersonic speed.

We share the same ability? I know there are all kinds of abilities out there and hardly any of them are unique. But I’ve never met anyone with my speed ability before. That’s not to say they don’t exist.

“You should know that you won’t win. You can’t. You need to remember that. The sooner we break you, the more pleasant things will be. Got it?” Giant asks.

“Where are you taking me?” My voice is shaky.

“All in good time, princess. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Without warning, he’s running for the door.

I don’t even register anything but a blur until I’m thrown—not very gently—into the back of a van. His ability is a lot stronger than mine.

My head hits the metal floor, and I let out a shriek of pain. The giant stands at the door and whistles loudly. The remaining three run out of the building and jump in the van. I scramble to the side of the cabin and raise my knees to my chest after one of my wrists and my legs are trod on by the guys climbing in after me.

The door slides shut, the giant climbs in the front passenger seat, and we take off.I’ve been taken.





INTRODUCING ILLYANA'S KIDNAPPERS










“I guess we should introductions,” the driver says. “I’m Devon. Getaway driver extraordinaire.” He says this with jazz hands. Freaking jazz hands. What the f—

The next guy speaks. “I’m Mac.”

“I already introduced myself,” Bailey says.

“I’m Carter,” her boyfriend says.

“Shaw.”

“And I’m your worst nightmare … or your best dream,” the giant says and winks.

Bailey picks up a piece of bread off the table, which is piled with food, enough to feed an army. She throws the bread across the room, hitting him in the face. “Don’t be a dick, Linc. I know it’s hard for you, but seriously, stop it.”

I purse my lips in confusion. Why are they being nice? Why are they telling me their names?

“What are you thinking, princess?” Linc asks.

“Well … I’m wondering why you’re introducing yourselves. If you were going to set me free, you wouldn’t be letting me see your faces or be talking to me. You wouldn’t invite me to join you at the breakfast table. You certainly wouldn’t be telling me your names. Unless you’re all using fake ones.” They all smile and I get the impression that all of their names are, in fact, fake. “But you haven’t killed me—not yet anyway—so I’m wondering what you want from me.”

The table laughs again. “I knew you were smart,” Linc says.

“Okay,” Mac says. “Time for some ground rules and an explanation. You’re here because we were hired to take you. Don’t ask us by who, because we don’t even know. We’re doing a job. We’ll have you home as soon as your loved ones pay however much it is our employer has demanded from them. We’re literally the muscle behind a much bigger operation. The reason we’ve shown you our faces is because you’ll soon learn that we aren’t the bad guys. Granted, we’re not the good guys, but if you cooperate, there’ll be no reason for you to turn us in when we let you go.”

“And if I don’t cooperate?”

Mac cocks his head to the side. “Then showing you our faces was a mistake, and we’ll have to bury that mistake. Understand what I’m saying?”

I nod slowly. “Cooperate or die. Got it.”

Linc leans in closer to me. “Of course, I’d love if you fought it. I only need a little defiance to justify my actions.”

A chill shoots through me and I shrink back into myself, even though I try to force myself not to.

“You’ll find it much better to bide your time by playing nice,” Mac says. “We may seem lenient right now, but this is merely a trust exercise. Your whole stay here is one big test of trust. We trust you not to escape, and in turn, you can trust that we won’t hurt you. You can’t get out, and if you do manage it, we’ll find you before you even make it five kilometres. We’re good at what we do. Do you have any questions?”

“So, you’re all like mercenaries?” They do what they’re told, when they’re told, by the people who hire them, whether it’s on the side of good or evil.

Mac salt and pepper hair shines off the dangling lights above the table. I’m guessing he’s in charge because he’s the oldest one here. “Something like that.”

“How many?” The stares bore into me at my question.

“How many what?” Mac asks.

“How many people have you kidnapped?”

“That lived?” Linc asks. He then winces and glares at Bailey. “Did you kick me under the table?”

She puts her hands up in surrender. “Wasn’t me.”

His glare turns to Shaw, who glares right back.

“We don’t discuss our business,” Mac says. “All you need to know is we’re experienced and there’s no way for you to escape. The best way for you to endure this is by doing as we say.”

“How long will I be here for?”

“As long as it takes for your parents to negotiate a payment.”

Laughter bubbles out of me, but I try to squash it down.

“Is she actually laughing?” Linc asks no one in particular.

“Maybe she’s in the hysterical stage of shock,” Carter says.

They’re all staring at me like I’m insane. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not really here. Perhaps I believe I’m sitting at a dining table with six other people, when in reality, I’m staring at a blank wall of an insane asylum talking to myself and licking the wall. I think I’d prefer that.





*** Snippet Saturday ** Tuesday 8th November, 2016 (okay, so nowhere near a Saturday)
From Saving Illyana -- The Litmus Series Book 3. Coming January 23, 2017
EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON


​I’ve run a million scenarios through my head. Where they’re taking me and why. What they’re going to do to me. Each one possible, each one as scary as the last.

Rocks and pebbles crunch under the tyres as we roll to a complete stop.

Trying to cover up the fact I’ve started quivering, I wrap my arms around myself and bite my bottom lip. I need to focus on not letting the tears take over me like my captors would want—they want me to be scared, and they want me to be weak.

With glassy eyes, I watch as the door is pulled open and all the others climb out, Shaw going first.

The whole drive here, he kept stealing glances, but I pretended not to notice him doing it out the corner of my eye. If I’m going to get out of this, he’s my key. He’s the weak link. I’ve already worked that out.

Quicker than I’d like, I’m the only one left in the van, still sitting facing the door where the giant stands. His square jawline and cleft chin make him look like a Greek god. He’s surprisingly young, probably Seth’s age, maybe a year or two older. His hair’s dyed bright green, styled in a faux Mohawk, but his dark eyebrows match the colour of his onyx eyes.

The giant smiles at my gaping mouth, rubbing his thumb over his bottom lip. “I know.”

My brow furrows. “Know what?”

“That I’m hot.”

Ugh.

“Come on, princess. Your new home awaits.”

My mouth dries, and my throat tightens.

“Now!” the giant orders.

His deep command makes me jump to attention and scooch my way to the door of the van. I hate that my instinct is to obey him at the mere tone of his voice. It has nothing to do with his good looks and everything to do with the fact I’m terrified of him. He’s faster, bigger, stronger. It took him less than a minute to pick me up and carry me away from a building full of extremely powerful Immunes.

He grabs my arm above my elbow and drags me out. His grip is deathly and my arm feels tiny with his beefy hand wrapped around it.

The cool air bites at my skin. The thin material of my bridesmaid’s dress fails at keeping any part of me warm. Trees rustle in the wind, sending the scent of eucalyptus to my cold nose.

We move silently as a group, the sounds of footsteps and loud breaths surrounding me. Crickets chirp loudly to the beat of a death march. My own.

We’re definitely in the country, probably past the outer suburbs and Immune Estates. Although, I don’t see how that’s possible when we were only in the van for about an hour. Unless it was longer and only felt like an hour.

They lead me to a monstrous house covered in creeping vines and surrounded by nothingness. With marble columns, and castle like feel, calling it a mansion would be understating it. Out here, I’d expect an old, rundown farm house, not something out of a fairy tale.

My heels clack on tiles as I’m led indoors. The giant doesn’t let go of me until we’re past the foyer and the door is locked behind us.

The guy with the broken nose mutters to himself, walking at a fast clip towards the back of the house to a set of steps. “Debrief in twenty,” he yells and then disappears upstairs.

“Who wants popcorn?” the driver of the van asks, opening cupboards in large open plan kitchen in front of us. He’s well over six feet tall and lanky. I’d peg him to be in his mid-to-late twenties.

No one answers him, but he starts making it anyway.The lovebirds and Shaw take off to our left, slumping on white leather couches in a living room with glass windows lining the wall. Shaw says something inaudible and then a cushion from the other side of the room is thrown at his head. The three of them laugh, and I struggle to comprehend what’s going on. They’ve literally kidnapped someone, and now they’re sitting around a TV and planning to have popcorn?




​​​*** Snippet Saturday ** Friday 5th August, 2016 (hey, it's close to Saturday!)
From Protecting William -- The Litmus Series Book 2. Coming September 1st, 2016
EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON

PRE-ORDER HERE


Nuka stares at me with a blank expression. For a split second, I think I see a glimmer of recognition, but it goes as quickly as it comes, and now she’s unreadable. She even looks a little bored.

When I reach the stage, I try to approach her, but the guy with the microphone holds me back. “Not yet, bro. You’ll get your chance to get close to her,” he says quietly in my ear.

Nuka walks to meet me, sizing me up and down as she approaches. “Come on, little boy. Show us what you’ve got.”

“Whoa, looks like Heatwave’s eager to get this over with,” the guy yells into the mike.

“I have a beer with my name on it waiting for me back stage. The only thing between me and it is kicking this kid’s butt,” she says.

What happened to my sister to make her this way? Is this for show, or is this what she’s grown up to be—some arrogant, stuck-up bitch?

“Before the crazy betting begins, how about we suss out your opponent here. What’s your name, kid?”

“Not important,” Nuka growls.

“O … kay. What about your ability?”

Crap. “Uh … I …”

Nuka cracks a smile at my stuttering. I guess it’s obvious I never ended up getting my ability.

“Maybe we should let him off the hook. Send him home. He’s not going to last two minutes with me.”

“A problem a lot of guys have had with you, I’m sure,” the guy says.

My face scrunches in disgust. That’s my sister. Eww.

“Don’t let Brawn hear you talking about me like that,” Nuka says, playfully shoving the emcee.

Brawn?

“I don’t need to know his ability. I’ve got this,” she says.

“Whoa, she’s called for a completely blind match!” The crowd gasps at whatever that means. “Do you remember what happened the last time you had a blind match?”

“Please, that knockout was almost four years ago. Besides, this guy isn’t intimidating enough to scare me.”

Four years ago? This is where she’s been that whole time? In the same city, right under our friggin’ noses?

“All right, let’s do this. We need all bets to close at this point,” he says into the mic before turning to Nuka and whispering, “Guess I better put the shield up. Thanks for making me work harder.”

She laughs, pushing him towards the edge of the ring. “Just do your job, would ya?”

We take our positions in the middle of the arena, and she’s still staring without the slightest hint of emotion or recognition.

“Nuka,” I say cautiously.

She doesn’t flinch. “The name’s Heatwave.”

“Yeah. I’m sure that’s a real name.”

“I’m not whoever you think I am.”

“Oh, so you’re saying there are plenty of other blonde-haired, purple-eyed girls who look like my sister?”

“I wouldn’t be saying words like those around here, if I were you,” she warns. Her eyes are threatening, but there’s also a hint of worry and pleading in them, too.

A buzzer sounds, and before I can even register what’s happening, Nuka steps forwards, throwing a punch straight to my nose.


GET HERE!

Coming September 1st, 2016!



​​*** Snippet Saturday ** Tuesday 5th July, 2016 (because screw waiting for Saturday!)
From Protecting William -- The Litmus Series Book 2. Coming September 1st, 2016
EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON


The drive over to Uncle Shilah and Tate’s place is short, but I spend the whole time preparing my thoughts. With Uncle Tate being telepathic, I can never tell if he’s listening in or not. He swears he blocks most things out, but if I let Litmus slip into my head—even once—I’m going to be grounded until I’m forty.

I clear my mind, filling my head with white noise. Dad said that’s Mum’s trick to blocking Uncle Tate out, but he never got the hang of it. There’s no secrets between Dad and Tate.

Both of my uncles are out in the front yard when I pull up to the curb outside their house. As usual, Uncle Shilah probably saw me coming with his ability.

I get out of the car and make my way over to them, but their demeanour suddenly changes. They both cross their arms over their chest with scowls on their faces.

“It’s good to see you, Will,” Shilah says stoically. He doesn’t make a move to greet me with a man-hug like usual.

“Uh … you too, Uncle Shilah. I’m here to—”

“See Paddy. I know.”

“You could at least pretend not to know everything.”

He waves me off. “That just wastes time.”

“So why are you here to see Paddy?” Uncle Tate asks.

White noise, white noise, white noise.

“Uh oh, it’s serious,” Uncle Tate says to Uncle Shilah. “He’s white noising me.”

“Maybe it’s a girl problem?” Uncle Shilah says.

Uncle Tate grimaces. “Why would he come here if it was a girl problem?” He shudders. “I don’t even want to think about that kind of plumbing.”

“Then maybe it’s a guy problem. Maybe he takes after us?” Uncle Shilah quirks an eyebrow.

“Ooh, Will has a boyfriend,” Uncle Tate sing-songs. “Is he cute?”

“Does he have muscles?” Uncle Shilah asks. “I bet he has a six-pack.”

“Are you two done yet?”

The both finally break and burst into laughter.

“Really? This is just all fun for you?”

“Why else would we mess with you? Because we’re mean? Do you really think that little of us?” Uncle Tate says, his mouth wide open in pretend shock.

“Of course not. You’re my favourite uncles after all.”

“Ooh, I’m so going to tell Drew and Jamie that,” Uncle Shilah says.

“They won’t believe you, I tell them they’re my favourite too.” 



*** Snippet Saturday ** Monday 23rd May, 2016 (because screw waiting for Saturday!)
From Protecting William -- The Litmus Series Book 2. Coming September 1st, 2016
EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON


“And what is this news? That your exam went well this morning? A bit surprising after the night you had last night.”

I roll my eyes. “I’m not hungover, Mum.”

“Then you’re teenagering wrong.”

I shake my head with a laugh. “I’m pretty sure you’re the only mother in history to encourage that kind of behaviour.”

She sighs. “You know it’s only because—”

“Because you never got to have that kind of adolescence, and you don’t want us to feel robbed of a normal childhood,” I say in a monotone voice. “I know, Mum.”

“But that reminds me. Tomorrow night, we’re having dinner with Jason. Uncle Tate wants us all to be there.”

“Really? You spout about me needing to be a normal teenager, then in the same conversation, turn and say ‘oh, hey, we’re having dinner with the president tomorrow night.’ And call him by his first name, by the way.”

“I realise it must be hard on you and Illy, to be raised in a political world. I want you to have normal teenagery experiences because before you know it, you’re going to be an adult, you’re going to have more responsibilities, and you’re going to regret not doing stupid things. Having said that, I trust you to do said stupid things in a safe environment and not go overboard.”

I fake cough in between muttering, “Oxymoron.”

She purses her lips at me and I know that look. She’s suspicious. I begin to wonder if she actually knows what I was doing last night. But how could she?

I swallow hard, her words stabbing at me while guilt tries to consume me. “I know, Mum.”

“So, what’s this news then?” she asks, changing topic.

“I … I think …”

“Spit it out, William.”

“Whoa, using my whole name? Am I in trouble?” She usually calls me Will.

“No, but you’re starting to freak me out. What happened? What’s wrong?”

I chuckle. “You may be a pretty relaxed parent, but it doesn’t take much for those mummy instincts to kick in.”

“Just tell me already.”

I breathe in deep, letting it out with rushed words. “I got my ability last night.”



​*** Snippet Saturday *** Wednesday 20th April (because screw waiting for Saturday!)
From Protecting William -- The Litmus Series Book 2. Coming September, 2016
EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON


The dark, abandoned tunnel makes me feel like I’m walking to my death. The blackness is cold, sending shivers down my spine. Seth’s loud footsteps make me want to slap him upside the head. Anyone, or anything could be down here, do we really want to alert them to our presence?

“I found Litmus, he said. It’ll be fun, he said.” My muttering echoes as I follow my best friend into the old subway lines.

“It’ll totally be worth it,” Seth says, glancing over his shoulder at me.

“I understand this place is secret and all, but are you sure this is the way? There’s nothing down here.”

“Trust me.”

“You know, every time you say those two words, alarm bells go off in my head. Something big, stupid … and probably illegal … is about to go down.”

“Damn straight it is, and you know it’ll be fun, too.”

I rub my hand over my head and down my neck, slightly massaging my aching shoulder from being slumped over my desk all day. “I shouldn’t be out tonight, I have a Psych exam in the morning.”

“A Saturday exam? Damn, they’re brutal. But I’m thinking your lack of enthusiasm is more about being scared Mummy’s going to ground you, or arrest you,” he taunts. “Stop being so perfect all the time. Have some fun. It’s freaking Litmus, dude!”

“First of all, your definition of fun and my definition of fun are two different things. Second of all…” I trail off.

“Second of all, what?”

“Nothing. Just keep going,” I say, shoving him as he starts to slow down.

How can I explain to him that perfection is expected in my family? How can I tell him about the insane amount of pressure I’m under to do something big with my life?

Compared to the rest of my family, I’m ordinary. I’m supposedly Immune, but have no ability. None whatsoever. Mum used to remind me all the time that she didn’t get her ability until she was eighteen even though her brother, Uncle Shilah, had his since he was four. I kept holding out and holding out for my eighteenth birthday, hoping I’d take after Mum. No such luck. My eighteenth came and went, and then my nineteenth too. That was a few months ago. I’ve all but given up on the idea I will ever develop an ability. So I’m cursed with an Immune mark, but without any of its benefits. Or faults … depending on which way you look at it.

“You know what you need?” Seth starts.

Here we go. “What?”

“You need to get la—”

“Yeah, okay. You don’t need to finish that sentence.”

Seth sighs. “What ever happened to that last girl you hooked up with? Giselle? She was damn fine.”

I roll my eyes, thankful he can’t see me as I do it. “She was alright.”

“Damn, you have high standards if you only think she was ‘alright.’ Oh, I bet she had pretty-girl syndrome. Nice to look at but crappy in the sack? All the hot ones are like that— they don’t think they have to work for it.”

It’s times like these, and sentences like that, that make me wonder why I’m even friends with Seth to begin with.

Maybe it’s because he was my only friend from when I was five and was forced into going to a normal school. He’s the only one who wasn’t scared of me, right up until I got to high school and found myself the centre of attention. My high school had a more mixed ratio of normal/Immune students, and having the last name I do, it made me popular by default.

Being the son of Allira Daniels—the most famous Immune activist in the world—it’s hard to work out if girls are genuinely interested in me, or in the person they think I am. At one point while I was making out with the girl Seth’s talking about, she moaned “William Daniels”. Hearing my full name like that doesn’t do it for me. I shut her down rather abruptly, put my T-shirt back on, and got out of her apartment as fast as I could. I never told Seth that though. Not telling him the truth—that I didn’t actually sleep with her—may make me a dick, but she was way too wasted and only interested in me because of my last name. Actually sleeping with her would’ve made me more of a dick.

“Ah, now we’re getting somewhere,” Seth says.

The unpaved path becomes wider, and the overhead lights become brighter. On the left-hand side of the tunnel is an old train platform. Two bouncers stand at the bottom of the small set of stairs leading up to it.

Seth and I pause for a moment, both of us staring ahead, unsure if we should continue on.

“We’ve been searching over two years for this place,” Seth says in awe, keeping his eyes locked on the two bouncers.

I nod, my eyes glued to the same spot. “Ever since Toby Frank came to school claiming to have been here, then refused to tell everyone where it was.”

“I hated him so much.”

“Are we going in?” I hate that my voice cracks.

“Yup,” he says, emphasising the ‘P’ sound.

“Then why aren’t we moving?”

“Let’s do this, then.” He takes off as if he got a push of confidence, walking faster than he was before. I have to scramble to catch up.

The bouncers give us a nod as we make our way past them. Part of me was expecting us to be stopped and told we don’t belong. My mind keeps reminding me to be cool, but I’m grinning from ear to ear and I can’t help it. Glancing over at Seth, I notice he’s the same.

“Dude, at least try to look like we belong here,” I say.

“You can turn that around on yourself, you know.”

We walk farther, ascending the broken-down escalators that leads us to a dimly lit hallway. Following it to the end, we’re stopped by a barely dressed girl behind a well-lit cashier’s desk. “Fifty,” she says with a bored, distant tone, like she’s done this a million times before. She probably has.

I try not to whistle. A hundred bucks for the two of us to get in?

We hand over fifty each, then she holds up a small stamp. “Give me your wrists,” she says.

Seth offers his first, and she presses the rectangle down on his skin. When nothing happens, he glances up at her with a confused expression. She rolls her eyes, picking up a torch with a black light in it. A bright blue barcode with an L etched in the middle lights up on his wrist.

“So you can get back in later tonight if you decide to leave for a while,” she says, her tone basically screaming, ‘Duh.’

I give her my wrist, get my stamp, and then she gestures to the double doors behind us. “Have fun,” she mocks. 


*** Snippet Saturday *** 5th Mar, 2016
From Losing Nuka -- The Litmus Series Book 1. Coming March 24th, 2016
EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON

 NOW AVAILABLE. CLICK HERE



“Jonas and Cade are my owners. If—”

“Owners?”

“It’s their word. They’re more like my managers. You know how professional athletes have managers and agents and all that? They do that for me. If I do a good job for them, they pay me well. Once I get rid of my debts, I can stop and then do something I enjoy.”

“What debts do you have?”

“That’s a bit of a personal question, isn’t it?” When I don’t respond, he sighs and continues. “This car, some student loans”—he shrugs—“living expenses.”

“Student loans? You went to uni?” I ask, a little surprised.

“Yes. Muscle man read good,” he replies in a caveman voice.

“I didn’t mean it like that. I just … the way you talk about Defectives—”

“You know where a business degree gets you when you’re Defective? Absolutely nowhere. No one would hire me. So now I’m in debt and I’m an undesirable employee. Cade and Jonas took me in, offered me the security job if I’d fight for them. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I get two wages and the work is easy. It’s just …”

“You don’t enjoy it.”

“I should only need to do this a little longer and then I’ll be free.”



*** Snippet Saturday *** 20th Feb, 2016

From Losing Nuka -- The Litmus Series Book 1. Coming March 24th, 2016

EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON


PRE-ORDER NOW AVAILABLE. CLICK HERE


“You’re pitting Defectives against each other?” I ask, my face screwed up in disgust.


“It’s not like that, Nuka,” Cade says. “It’s a sport. It’s entertainment.”

“It’s a gold mine is what it is,” Jonas says with a proud scoff.

“It’s disgusting,” I say. “How do you call this sport? It’s sick, it’s demeaning. You all just sit around and watch people beat the hell out of each other?”

A loud dinging sound echoes and Brett starts attacking Taser … or whatever his name is. Taser doesn’t get a chance to go on the offensive. He’s too busy trying to avoid Brett’s fists. Unsuccessfully, too. Brett lands a powerful right hook, and even from this distance, I see the blood fly from Taser’s mouth.

They’re not wearing headgear, gloves … they’ve got nothing to protect themselves. This is insane.

Brett’s already gotten a few good hits in, but Taser manages to escape Brett’s onslaught. Managing to jab Brett in his ribs, Taser drops Brett to his knees. I don’t know how Taser brought him down with a single punch, but Brett looks like he’s spasming uncontrollably. Almost like he’s being …

“They’re using their abilities on each other?” I exclaim.

“I thought you said he would take it easy?” Cade scolds Jonas, successfully ignoring me. “Brett’s never gone down that quick.”

“He’ll get back up,” Jonas assures.

Brett turns quickly on his knees, punching his opponent so hard in his hip that his entire right leg falls out from underneath him.

I suck in a loud breath and find myself torn. Surprisingly, I’m glad Brett’s gotten back on his feet, but I can’t help judging him for doing this in the first place. It’s degrading, it encourages the divide between normals and us.

As I watch over the crowd, I’m the only one who seems to feel this way. Everyone else is cheering and going nuts. Chanting for Brett … well, Brawn. Nice nickname, wanker.

“This is so wrong,” I say as Brett sends a left hook into Taser’s face, making him fall to the ground completely.

“So I take it that’s a no to going into the arena?” Jonas asks.

“You … you want me to go in there? Are you insane?”

“Brett told us how you almost got away from him and Drake the other night. You should’ve been a simple snatch-and-grab job. But you knocked Drake on his ass and burnt Brett’s back to a crisp. It still hasn’t healed,” Cade says, pointing down to the arena.

She’s right. He still has red hand prints etched in his back.

“We need more girls,” Jonas says.

“More women,” Cade clarifies.


Yeah, because calling us girls would be demeaning. 



*** Snippet Saturday *** 30th Jan, 2016

From Losing Nuka -- The Litmus Series Book 1. Coming March 25th, 2016.


“You still want to go apartment hunting?” Declan asks as we start to drive.

“Nah. Not today, not now. I’m not really in the right mood for apartment hunting.”

“Maybe I can talk to Mum and Dad about you moving in? You’re practically crashing in my bed every night anyway.”

“You know they won’t allow that. They hate me,” I say, pointing to my Defective mark in the crook of my elbow, “because of this.” 


“That’s not true. My parents don’t like you because you’re a smartass. It has nothing to do with the fact you’re a walking microwave.”

I roll my eyes. He loves making that joke. “You know what’s funny? I used to think it was such a coincidence that my name reflected my ability.” I shake my head. “My bio dad changed my name. He named me Nuka, because I can nuke things.”

“Lucky your ability isn’t to control lightning. He might’ve called you Striker.”

I nudge him with my elbow. “Shut up.”

“Make me … Striker.”

“No. That’s not becoming a thing!”

“How about we forget this birth mother business, just for a few days. You’ve been obsessing over this woman for three years. You need a break. So let’s go for coffee and put a ban on speaking Cade’s name for the next twenty-four hours, at least.”

“You know I hate coffee.” I grimace.

“But I don’t,” he says, giving me a cheeky grin.

“Fine. I don’t really want to go back to your place and deal with your parents anyway. We’ll do coffee now and apartment hunting tomorrow.”

Arriving at Declan’s favourite coffee place a short time later, he grabs a table outside while I go in and order.

The barista hands me the two drinks and as I turn to walk away, they’re almost knocked out of my hands by some big lug not watching where he’s going. I quickly twist so he doesn’t bump my hands, but some of Declan’s scalding hot coffee spills on my wrist.

“Ugh, son-of-a—”

“Whoa,” the giant says. His voice is soft, and his gentle hand on the small of my back startles me, making me forget what I was going to say. His voice is warm and inviting for someone who is so big and … muscly. There’s a smiling face staring down at me when I finally make eye contact. “That was close. Are you okay?” His brown eyes hold my gaze for a moment before he catches sight of my hand. “Ah shit, sorry.” He runs his hand over his hair. “Let me buy you another one.”

A small blush floods my cheeks, although I don’t know why. “Uh … nah, don’t worry about it,” I fumble for words. “It was only a little spill, and it wasn’t even my drink.” I flash what’s meant to be a polite smile, but I don’t know if I’m pulling it off. My hand really friggin’ hurts.

He glances in Declan’s direction. “Oh, boyfriend’s drink?”

“Yeah … I mean, no. He’s not my boyfriend, but it is his drink.”

His lip curls up into a smile. “Lucky for me then.”

“Yeah … uh, lucky.” What does that even mean?

We stand there looking at each other for a few moments before he finally breaks his gaze. “I should probably let you pass so you can get back,” he says, stepping aside.

“Yeah, probably.”

“Sorry again,” he says as I walk by him.

“No worries,” I call over my shoulder, making my way outside to my table.



*** Snippet Saturday *** 16th January 2016

​From Losing Nuka -- The Litmus Series Book 1. Coming March 25th, 2016


Brett nods. “Let’s go.”


​“Go where?” I ask.


“To see your mother.”


“Wait. How do I know I can trust you?” 


“You don’t, but if you want to find your mother, then you will,” Brett answers, simply.


Just how desperate am I to meet this woman? “Yeah, I’m not getting into a car with the two guys who just tried to attack me. As much as I want to see my mother, I’m not a complete moron.” And yet, I’m in an alley in the middle of the night with two complete strangers. I have to admit, I’m at least part moron.


***


​I whistle. “Nice car. It’s got to be at least seventy years old, right?” All the modern cars are the same. After the pandemic, cars stopped being looked at as a trend to keep up with, and more of a necessity for getting from point A to B. There’s five basic models to choose from, and sports car is not one of them. 

“Eighty actually,” Brett says, the pride in his voice obvious.

Drake opens the passenger door and pushes the front seat forward. He holds out his hand for me, gesturing for me to climb in the back.

“Nah, I call shotgun,” I say.

“Your legs are shorter than mine,” Drake whines.

“You just attacked me and held a gun to my head. You think my mother is going to be pissed at Brett for making out with me, what will she think if she found out what you did?” 

Brett starts laughing as he gets into the driver’s seat. Drake swears under his breath and climbs in the back. I can’t stop the smirk from finding my face. 

Brett stares at me with an expression I can’t decipher while I climb in the front seat. I can’t tell if it’s amusement or resentment, perhaps it’s a little of both.


​“You’re going to be worse than Sasha, aren’t you?” he says with an exasperated smile.

“Who’s Sasha?”

His smile drops from his face slightly. “She’s your sister.”

“I have a sister?” I have a sister.

Brett starts the car. “I’ll let Cade fill you in on everything,” he says, driving off.

“So who are you guys anyway? What exactly is your job?” I ask.

“We’re security,” Drake says. “And I’m Simon, by the way.”

“Simon? I thought your name was Drake.”

“Last name. You can call me Drake if you want, everyone else does.”

“Why does my mother need her own security team?”

“We’re home security, assigned to your sister mostly, and I guess you now,” Brett answers.

“I don’t need any security looking out for me.”

Brett raises an eyebrow at me. “Really? Because I think you just willingly followed a guy into a darkened alley.”

I try to think of something to defend my actions, but I can’t. Following him was not my brightest moment. Neither was voluntarily getting into this car with him, but I’m not going to say that aloud.

SNIPPET SATURDAY!(Or whatever day I end up posting)

Sometimes while writing, I feel connected to the words I'm putting down on the pages. I get in the zone and before I know it, I've written a few thousand words.


Usually when this happens, I'm so proud of what I've accomplished that I want to share it right away.


Of course, not everything can be shared or major spoilers would be given away, but when I find a scene I'm proud of, I'll post it here for others to see -- so long as it doesn't give too much of the plot away, of course.


Because an editor is the last stop in a writer's WIP (Work In Progress), more than likely, this page will consist of more typos or grammatical errors than I would like. And who knows, the scenes may change before being released in the final product.


But if you're interested, I'll be posting as often as my little brain can write.  And even though it's "Snippet Saturday," it may turn into a Teaser Tuesday, Wednesday WIP or even a I'll-post-it-because-I-want-to-and-you're-not-the-boss-of-me.


​Enjoy!

KAYLA HOWARTH

 

Author