Today is release day for the audiobook edition of WANDERLUST, a stand-alone adult contemporary romance by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lauren Blakely. See below for information on the audiobook, buy links, and an exclusive behind the scenes look at recording the book with voice actor, Richard Armitage. You can also pre-order the ebook or paperback versions, releasing next month.
You know what I say? Paris would be a much better idea if I spoke the dang language. I can’t even board the metro to visit the Louvre without ending up at the Moulin Rouge, and let’s not even mention how I’ll ever make it through a day at my new office.
Fortunately my company hooks me up with my own personal translator. Ooh la la. Or should I say bloody hell? Because he’s charming, witty, and British, and he brings the city to life for me. Soon, I can order a croque monsieur hold the ham, discuss perfume with my co-workers, and barter at the outdoor market. I can also tell the sexy Brit by my side how much I want him to kiss me under the streetlamps.
Except there’s a catch – Paris might be all we have.
One more assignment before I can take off on my big adventure…
And it’s a good farewell gig too since my newest client is a fetching American who loves to explore the cafes and cobbled streets while I teach her the language of love. We fall into a fast and flirty friendship, but Paris has a way of making lovers out of friends, and soon we’re spending our nights together too – très risqué. The trouble is, my wanderlust is calling to me, and soon I’ll be traveling the globe to fulfill a promise I made long ago.
What could possibly go wrong with falling in love in Paris? Nothing…unless one of you is leaving.
*Includes a special bonus interview with the author!*
Author Lauren Blakely
About the Author A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than seventy-five times, and she’s sold more than 1.5 million books. In May she’ll release JOY RIDE, a standalone romantic comedy. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter
Love audiobooks? Us too! Six incredible authors have come together to celebrate audiobooks with an Ode to Audio week – and there’s a chance to win every day! There’s so many prizes – a chance to win one of the six audiobooks, plus a one-month membership from Audiobooks.com, and a three-month Audible.com subscription! Find out more about the six audiobooks and enter to win below!
LIVEWIRE by Cristin Harber
About the Audiobook
Title: LIVE WIRE Series: Titan Series #10 Author: Cristin Harber Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer Publisher: Mill Creek Press Release Date: October 5, 2016 Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense Links: Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis Titan Group is expanding. New recruits mean Jared Westin has potential new hires to scrutinize. What he didn’t expect was his very pregnant wife Sugar to finagle her way onto the surveillance team as the prospects were assessed.
Her involvement in the simple observation goes dangerously wrong. She and best friend Lexi Black stumble into a problem with Russian mobsters. Sugar is forced to draw on her old ATF tricks, but weeks from her due date, she has no choice but to team up with Bishop O’Kane, a potential-new recruit and Parker Black, Lexi’s hacker husband, who must go undercover.
This is special ops novella is packed with high-stakes crime and intrigue, a baby story for Boss Man, and two steamy romances for two of Titan’s favorite couples.
Author Cristin Harber
About the Author Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance. Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller.
About the Audiobook
Title: HOT PURSUIT Series: Hostile Operations Team #1 Author: Lynn Raye Narrator: Aiden Snow Publisher: H.O.T. Publishing, LLC Release Date: March 4, 2016 Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense Links: Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis He was the last man in the world she wanted to see. But he might be the only one who could save her.
Ten years ago, Matt Girard did something he shouldn’t have. When sweet Evangeline Baker offered him her virginity, he took it. Then he left town and he’s never looked back.
Until now. His future as a black ops soldier with the Hostile Operations Team is in jeopardy, and he’s come home for a few days before going back to face the consequences of a mission gone wrong.
Matt still makes Evie’s heart pound, but she wants nothing to do with him. She’s had enough of men who lie and promise things they don’t deliver. But when her sister goes missing and her ex-boyfriend turns up dead, she’s in need of Matt’s special military skills.
With time running out, Matt will put everything on the line to protect Evie and find her sister. Even if it means sacrificing all he’s worked for with HOT. Sometimes, the reward is worth the price. Especially when it’s the one woman he can’t forget.
Author Lynn Raye Harris
About the Author Lynn Raye Harris is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the HOSTILE OPERATIONS TEAM SERIES of military romances as well as 20 books for Harlequin Presents. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and the National Readers Choice Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome former-military husband, two crazy cats, and one spoiled American Saddlebred horse. Lynn’s books have been called “exceptional and emotional,” “intense,” and “sizzling.” Lynn’s books have sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
About the Audiobook
Title: GONE TO DUST Series: Gravediggers #2 Author: Liliana Hart Narrators: Jonathan Todd Ross and Devra Woodward Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Release Date: June 20, 2017 Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense Links: Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis The Gravediggers aren’t exactly what they seem. They’re the most elite of the world’s fighting forces – and all they have in common is that they’ve been betrayed by the countries they’ve died for. Because they are dead. To their countries, their militaries, and their families.
Sometimes the dead do rise….
Miller Darling is one of the most popular romance novelists of her time. Not bad for a woman who doesn’t believe in romance. She’s as logical as they come, and she doesn’t believe in happily ever afters. What she does believe in is family, so when her brother disappears, she doesn’t think twice about packing her bag and her laptop and heading out to find him.
Elias Cole lived and breathed the life of a Navy SEAL. Now he’s “dead” and his hero’s honor tarnished. The only thing keeping him sane are the men who are like him – The Gravediggers – and the woman who makes his head spin. He’s never met anyone like Miller Darling. Her smart mouth and quick wit keep him on his toes, and damned if he doesn’t find that appealing.
When Miller receives a package from the brother who abandoned her asking for help, it’s clear she’s in over her head with the mess he’s gotten himself into. She needs a professional, and Elias is just the man for the job. Only her brother is a former SEAL – the man who left his team to die – and Elias is more interested in vengeance than saving his life.
Author Liliana Hart
About the Author Liliana Hart spent five years teaching music in the public education system. She molded America’s youth, busted kids for smoking pot in the restrooms, and broke up illicit affairs behind the stage on a regular basis. (Liliana’s Addison Holmes Mystery Series, about a small town teacher who gets into a whole lot of trouble, is somewhat autobiographical, but she won’t confess to which parts).
Liliana began reading romance novels with all her new found free time, and when she ran out of things to read, she decided to write her own novels. The result was a 150,000 word thriller—a dazzling adventure—where the heroine was a thirty-year-old virgin assassin (Yes, you read that right). She couldn’t imagine why people weren’t knocking down her door to read it, but she persevered and began writing a second book. She finally got the hang of things, and eventually learned that losing one’s virginity wasn’t all that romantic after all. All of her books involve some kind of suspense (she just can’t help herself), laughter, and a lot of steamy sex.
Since the failure of her first attempt, Liliana’s books have won awards such as: The Daphne Du Maurier, The Suzannah, The Linda Howard Award of Excellence, The Maggie, and many others. Her affiliations include Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America.
Liliana loves to cook, and is addicted to reading, Internet Boggle, kickboxing, and Bones. She lives in a big, rambling house in Texas with a couple of cats to keep her company. She loves to get emails from readers.
About the Audiobook
Title: ENEMY MINE Series: Base Branch #1 Author: Megan Mitcham Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer Publisher: MM Publishing LLC Release Date: August 23, 2016 Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense Links: Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis Born in the blood of Sierra Leone’s Civil War, enslaved, then sold to the US as an orphan, Base Branch operative Sloan Harris is emotionally dead and driven by vengeance. With no soul to give, her body becomes the bargaining chip to infiltrate a warlord’s inner circle. The man called the Devil killed her family and helped destroy a region.
As son of the warlord, Baine Kendrick will happily use Sloan’s body if it expedites his father’s demise. Yet, he is wholly unprepared for the possessive and protective emotions she provokes. Maybe it’s the flashes of memory…two forgotten children drawing in the dirt beneath the boabab tree…but he fears there is more at stake than his life.
In the Devil’s den with Baine by her side, Sloan braves certain death and discovers a spirit for living.
Author Megan Mitcham
About the Author Megan Mitcham is a USA Today bestselling author who pens sizzling suspense novels that whisk you across the globe, wedge your heart in your throat, make your hands sweat and your skin tingle. Check out her special forces heroes in the Base Branch Series. If you like the darker side of suspense, try her Bureau Series.
About the Audiobook
Title: INKED EXPRESSIONS Series: Montgomery Ink #7 Author: Carrie Ann Ryan Narrator: Gregory Salinas Release Date: July 13, 2017 Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance Links: Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis The Montgomery Ink Series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan continues with the brother who keeps his secret and the one woman he shouldn’t want.
Everly Law married the love of her life and on the eve of giving birth to their twins, lost him in a tragic accident. Now she’s a single mother working overtime at her bookstore trying to make sure her boys have the life they deserve. Her life is busy enough without her adding dating a Montgomery. As past secrets come to light, she’ll need Storm more than ever—even if she doesn’t realize it.
Storm Montgomery has spent his life atoning for sins that only few know he’s committed. When he lost his best friend, he promised his widow that he’d always be there for her—even when she wanted nothing to do with him. But when a single touch ignites passions they’ve both buried deep inside, he’ll have to remember exactly who is in his arms and that taking chances might be far more dangerous than they bargained for.
Author Carrie Ann Ryan
About the Author Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.
About the Audiobook
Title: A SEAL’S OATH Series: The SEALS of Chance Creek #1 Author: Cora Seton Narrator: Eric G. Dove Release Date: December 28, 2015 Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense Links: Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis Navy SEAL Boone Rudman and his friends want to create a sustainable community that can be replicated anywhere in the world. But they need land, so when Martin Fulsom, leader of the Fulsom Foundation, offers them Westfield, a ranch in Montana, they agree to Fulsom’s condition that they document their progress on a reality television show.
Building the community will be hard enough, but Boone’s got another problem. Fulsom expects families to make up the population of the new town. Now Boone’s got to find a wife fast, before he loses his funding and his dream. So when he arrives at Westfield to find it already occupied by the startlingly beautiful, strangely attired Riley Eaton, he wonders if fate itself has provided him with an answer.
Riley Eaton is done with traffic jams and 24/7 workweeks. She loves Jane Austen’s novels, and she knows she’s not the only woman longing for a simpler, more beautiful life. When she discovers her friends are in the same frame of mind, she throws caution to the wind and invites them to Westfield, the ranch her uncle inherited long ago but has never lived in. Equipped with a key and a standing invitation to stay there whenever she likes, she gathers her friends, drives to Chance Creek, and gives up all things 21st century in order to open a Jane Austen-style bed-and-breakfast. She knows her absentee uncle will be thrilled with a new stream of income, and Westfield is perfect for Regency living, with its wide lawns, extensive gardens, and large ballroom. But when sexy, stubborn Boone shows up with plans to build a hyper-modern sustainable community on the ranch, it’s clear her Regency paradise is over before it even began.
Now Boone has 30 days to marry Riley or lose the ranch to developers, and Riley has three weeks to prepare for the bed-and-breakfast’s first guests or face bankruptcy. Can they overcome their prejudices to help each other? Or will their pride destroy both their futures?
Author Cora Seton
About the Author Cora Seton loves cowboys, country life, gardening, bike-riding, and lazing around with a good book. Mother of four, wife to a computer programmer/eco-farmer, she ditched her California lifestyle eight years ago and moved to a remote logging town in northwestern British Columbia.
Like the characters in her novels, Cora enjoys old-fashioned pursuits and modern technology, spending mornings transforming a neglected one-acre lot into a paradise of orchards, berry bushes and market gardens, and afternoons writing the latest Chance Creek romance novel on her iPad mini.
Visit www.coraseton.com to read about new releases, locate your favorite characters on the Chance Creek map, and learn about contests and other cool events!
Welcome to the audiobook tour for Single, the first book in the adult contemporary sports romance series, Stockton Beavers, by Collette West. See below for information on the audiobook, buy links, and details on her giveaway.
Synopsis Underdog Luke “Single” Singleton is yearning to make a comeback. After getting hit in the neck with a pitch—an injury that nearly cost him his life—he has one last chance to play for his hometown team, the Stockton Beavers. But his mom has Alzheimer’s, and he’s all she has to depend on. How can he pursue his career, much less someone special?
Personal care aide Roberta Bennett is done dating baseball players. Having had her share of heartbreak, she heads to Stockton hoping for a fresh start. But after she finds Luke’s mom outside, lost, and alone, she can’t refuse when he hires her on the spot. Unbeknownst to Luke, Roberta is all too familiar with the violent tendencies of the pitcher who hit him.
Now that they’re living under the same roof, the last thing either of them is looking for is a relationship. But it’s not long before they find themselves drawn to each other. And right when Luke is thinking about finally making a change to his single status, a secret from Roberta’s past emerges with the power to tear them apart.
Author Collette West
About the Author Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball’s biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette‘s impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.
Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as manygames as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she’s not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is the author of the New York Kings series which includes: NIGHT GAMES, GAME CHANGER, GAME ON, PERFECTGAME, INSIDE GAME and GAME WINNER.
Today is release day for the audiobook version of Songbird, a contemporary romance by Sydney Logan. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
Songbird by Sydney Logan
About the Book Title: Songbird Author: Sydney Logan Publisher: Mountain Media Release Date: June 6, 2016 Genre: Contemporary Romance Links: Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis One bridesmaid. One groomsman. One classic wedding hookup. But for Callie and Devin, their weekend of passion is anything but typical.
Callie Franklin doesn’t do one night stands. Ever. She’s far too responsible and focused on her career to ever let herself give in to temptation. But, on the eve of her best friend’s wedding, she meets that temptation . . . And his name is Devin McAllister.
Devin, on the other hand, has no problem with meaningless hookups. The very last thing he needs—or wants—is a relationship. Relationships come with strings. Relationships come with heartbreak.
A late-night encounter in the hotel’s piano bar finds the two unable to resist each other. With her angelic voice and bright blue eyes, Devin’s sure he’s never met anyone as beautiful as his Songbird. Six weeks later, when two pink lines confirm Callie’s worst fears, she and Devin have to face the consequences of their wild weekend.
And they have to deal with each other—whether they like it or not. With a love story that’s far from traditional, Callie and Devin begin to wonder if their one-night stand could turn into something neither of them anticipated. A happily ever after.
Excerpt Traffic’s insane, but I finally make it to Callie’s apartment just after two. I anxiously knock on the door, ridiculously eager to get my hands on her. Maybe she’ll be wearing some flimsy lingerie. Maybe she’ll be naked. My mind’s busy conjuring all the possibilities when she opens the door . . . wearing a sweatshirt and jeans.
“Hey,” she says softly, stepping aside to let me in.
“Hey. You okay?”
She looks pale as a ghost. Is she sick? She looks sick. Maybe I should call an ambulance. Or my dad.
“I’m okay.” Callie leads me over to the sofa. “Look, Devin, I know you probably have some plans for us for tonight, but that won’t be happening.”
“Oh.” Disappointment floods me, but if the nauseated look on her face is any indication, it’s probably best. Besides, there’s the next night. And the next.
“But we need to talk, so I’m glad you’re here. I have something I need to tell you.” She abruptly jumps to her feet and walks toward her kitchen. “Would you like something to drink?”
I can’t tell if she’s being a good hostess or simply stalling, but I ask for a beer. It looks like I’m gonna need it. I hadn’t pegged her for the kind of woman who needs to talk about her feelings.
When she returns to the living room, Callie hands me a bottle and sits down next to me. I notice she only brought one.
“You’re not drinking?”
She curls her feet beneath her. “Unfortunately, no. I won’t be drinking for a long time.”
I’ve had it with the riddles.
“All right, what’s going on? My brother and his girlfriend threatened to murder me if I make you cry. Something’s obviously up with you because you just want to talk.”
Her forehead creases. “Don’t you ever just talk to a woman?”
“Not if I can help it.”
“Why not? The girls you usually date don’t have enough sense to carry on an intelligent conversation?”
“I don’t date, Callie.”
“I see. You just sleep with them.”
“Sometimes. Is there something wrong with that?”
“And are you careful?”
“Safe,” she says softly. “We didn’t use protection. I just wondered if that’s typical for you.”
Oh. It’d be easy to blame the alcohol, but honestly, using protection was the very last thing on my mind that night.
“No, that’s not typical. I’m sorry about that.”
“So am I.”
Callie seems far more relaxed after my apology. Maybe this night won’t be an epic failure after all. I slide closer to her, but she raises her hand in warning.
“We’re not finished.”
I groan and lean back against the couch.
“Devin, I need you to listen. Something happened that weekend. I’m almost positive you won’t want to sleep with me after you hear what I’m about to say.”
“I seriously doubt that.”
“I don’t.” Callie sits up a little straighter and squares her shoulders. “I want you to know I expect nothing from you. Our weekend together was a mistake, and I’ll deal with the consequences of it. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do at this point, but I thought you should at least know what’s going on.”
“What’s going on?”
Her eyes flood with tears.
“Devin, I’m pregnant.”
I stare at her. She stares at me. I watch her closely, hoping that at any moment she’s going to burst out laughing.
But she’s not laughing. She’s crying.
I hear Lorie’s voice in my suddenly throbbing head.
Don’t make her cry.
“Why . . . why are you telling me?”
She wipes her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“You’re assuming it’s mine?”
“Of course it’s yours!”
I snort. “Really? How can you be so sure? Maybe it was that bartender in the hotel’s piano bar. Or maybe it was the guy who sat with you at the reception. Or maybe—just maybe—it was the photographer you were with tonight. You two seem pretty close.”
Even as the bitter words drip off my tongue, I know better. Her face is just too furious . . . her eyes too heartbroken.
Suddenly, Callie stops crying. Her eyes flash with fury just seconds before she slaps me across the face.
Despite the ringing in my ears, I can hear my brother’s warning.
Don’t be an asshole tonight.
Author Sydney Logan
About the Author Amazon best-selling author Sydney Logan holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. She is the author of five novels – Lessons Learned, Mountain Charm, Soldier On, Once Upon a December, and Pros & Cons. Sydney has also penned several short stories and is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul.
A native of East Tennessee, Sydney enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.
Beyond the Consequences is now available on Audible. If you have the eBook, the audiobook is only $2.99. Beyond the Consequences is the fifth book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Althea Romig’s, Consequences series, a suspenseful thriller about secrets and deception, passion and love, choices and consequences. See below for information on the book and buy links.
Beyond the Consequences Audiobook (Consequences #5) by Aleatha Romig
About the Book Title: Beyond the Consequences Series: Consequences #5 Author: Aleatha Romig Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Release Date: May 26, 2015 Genre: Contemporary Romance Links:Goodreads | Audible | Amazon
Synopsis From New York Times bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes more of the suspenseful romantic thriller about secrets and deception, passion and love, choices and consequences.
Secrets and deception
As the pieces of their puzzle come together, Anthony and Claire Rawlings continue to defy the odds. Together they overcame an incomprehensible beginning. Apart they endured unimaginable heartache. Reunited with family and friends, their journey continues as they navigate a dangerous world where secrets threaten to destroy what they hold the most dear.
Passion and love
Tony and Claire turn up the heat as sparks fly, passion rages, and love prevails. With only a dark glance or devilish grin, the fire that sparked in an isolated suite, continues to burn. Though no longer willing to be less than Tony’s equal in life, behind closed doors only one man makes the rules.
Choices and consequences
The safety of the Rawlings family is not debatable, and only Phillip Roach can assure that they are not disappointed. Learn how he leads old friends and new associates through the dangerous world of delusion and revenge. The choices he makes for both the family and his personal life will have consequences.
Beyond the Consequences is a novel that began as the novella, A Peek Beyond the Consequences, in a limited-release anthology, Breathless. Since its publication in 2014, Beyond the Consequences has more than tripled in length with more action, heat, and secrets to reveal. Learn once and for all the identity and fate of the sender of the Rawls-Nichols letters as you join the Rawlings for a special surprise!
Theirs was a long, complicated story with a monster and a knight. What made their story unique was that these two players were the same person.—Aleatha Romig, CONVICTED
Author Aletha Romig
About the Autor Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Together with her high-school sweetheart and husband of twenty-eight years, they’ve raised three children.
Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time with her family and friends.
Her pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!
Welcome to the Portal audiobook tour. Portal is the first book in Imogen Rose’s bestselling The Portal Chronicles, a young adult fantasy series. See below for information on the audiobook, buy links, a free sample, and details on her giveaway.
Portal (The Portal Chronicles #1) by Imogen Roses
About the Book Title: Portal Series: The Portal Chronicles #1 Author: Imogen Roses Audiobook Release Date: January 23, 2011 Narrator: Sue Leib Bernstein with Lauren Tate as Ella Length: 9 Hours 38 Minutes Publisher: Wild Thorn Publishing Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Links:Goodreads | Audible | Amazon | iTunes
Synopsis Come Find Me Two Years Ago…
Six words that propel ice-hockey-playing tomboy Arizona into an alternate dimension. She suddenly finds herself living the life of a glamorous cheerleader. She finds herself transported from her happy life with her dad to living with the mother she hates. Everyone knows her as Arizona Darley, but she isn’t.
She is Arizona Stevens. As she struggles to find answers she is certain of two things – that her mother is somehow responsible, and that she wants to go back home to her real life.
That’s until she meets Kellan…
Portal is the first book of the Portal Chronicles.
Excerpt When there was a sharp knock on Mom’s window, she opened the car door. I was expecting Dad, but instead a man I didn’t recognize appeared. He had dark hair and blue eyes that gleamed as he kissed Mom right on her mouth. Disgusting. He scooped her up in his arms with a laugh as she ruffled his hair.
Ella shouted a delighted, “Dad!” as she tried, unsuccessfully, to scramble into the front seat. Gertrude wagged her tail furiously, but thankfully showed restraint and stayed by my side.
“Hi, girls!” The stranger smiled. “Let me carry your mom in, and I’ll be back for you guys in a jiffy!”
As they disappeared, I felt my stomach tighten again. Where was my cell phone? I felt for it in my hoodie pocket where I usually kept it, but couldn’t find it. So, I bent down and looked around for it on the floor. Nope, not there, either. This was getting scary. I looked over at Ella. She didn’t look the least bit concerned as she traced stars on the fogged-up window and tried to look outside. There was a second knock, this time on Ella’s window. Her door was opened, and the man reappeared.
“Dad, look at the doggie!” Ella grinned excitedly.
Dad? I thought I’d misheard her before, but this was the second time she’d called him that. Had she lost her mind? It was late and dark, but that man looked nothing like Dad. He was over six feet tall with dark hair and light-colored eyes. Our dad is a balding blond with brown eyes and a beer gut—not from beer, but from those enormous New Jersey diner breakfasts. I felt a sense of panic wash over me again and could hardly breathe.
This had to be a dream! Some sort of post-SAT nightmare. What else could it be? I would just have to dream it out.
However, I found my mouth saying, “Stay, Ella. Don’t go anywhere with that man!”
“You silly!” She clambered into his arms, as I tried to grab her legs.
“Come on, Arizona, it’s wet and muddy. Can you carry the dog in?” The strange man furrowed his brow at me, clearly puzzled, as he picked up Ella.
I looked at Gertrude. She was wagging her tail at the man. Okay, this had to be one of those dreams where one dreams one is awake, but one is actually still fast asleep. I lifted Gertrude into my arms and followed Ella and the stranger through the muddy darkness. My feet sank into the ground with each step. The rain boots were no match for the mud. My feet were soaked by the time we got to the building I had spied through the trees. I still couldn’t tell much about it through the rain. I just tried to make it to the front door as quickly as I could while shielding Gertrude inside my hoodie.
Mom was standing by the door with her arms full of towels. She threw one around Ella, then proceeded to pat me dry… Yikes! Too much physical contact.
“Go to your rooms, shower, and get into your pajamas. Then, come down for hot chocolate.” She turned to remove Ella’s rain boots.
“You can both sleep in tomorrow,” the stranger added.
I had no idea what to do or what to say. I wanted to scream and shout, but that would only land me in the psych unit, so I clenched my mouth shut, held my breath, and decided to wait for the dream to end.
I looked around. We were in a ginormous hallway, dominated by a double stairway. Five archways from the hallway led to… I had no idea. I had a room here? If so, I had no idea where to go. As houses went, this one wasn’t too shabby. I followed Ella up the stairs. Gertrude ran past us and disappeared. There were a number of doors at the top of the stairs, so I hung back to see where Ella would go. She went straight through the first door on the left and shut it behind her. The door had a pink sign on it that read Ella’s Room. Very handy. Hopefully, mine would have a nameplate as well.
Perfect! Well, almost. The sign was pink, my least favorite color. This was where I hoped I was in a dream, rather than a nightmare. I was really hoping my room wouldn’t turn out to be a cave full of tarantulas. I gingerly pushed open the door and went inside. Everything looked normal. No giant insects, monsters, or murderous beasts. It was, in fact, almost exactly like my room at home in Princeton, which would be weird if this wasn’t a dream. My bed sat in the exact same spot as at home with my Edward Cullen poster—hey, maybe this would turn into a romantic vampire nightmare!—above it. On closer inspection, I did spot some differences from my real room. For one thing, a pink monstrosity had replaced my New Jersey Devils bedspread. Ugh! However, a huge flat-screen TV, which covered part of one wall, made up for it. Cool!
I noticed two doors on the far wall. Could those be the nightmare doors that had zombies on the other side? I slowly walked to the first door, opened it, and peered inside. It was pitch black. Hoping not to lose my arm to a beast, I felt around for a light switch. I found the knob and turned it.
Wow! My own bathroom! I was beginning to like this dream. Though small, the bathroom had a shower, sink, and toilet. I opened the cabinet under the sink and found towels and extra toothpaste.
Feeling more confident, I walked over to the second door and opened it. I was overwhelmed. Now, I knew I was in a dream—a walk-in closet. It was huge, at least three times the size of the bathroom. All of the clothes hung neatly above some drawers and even a few shoe stands. But, I didn’t recognize the clothes. I would have to inspect them later. First a shower—I stunk.
I took off my muddy jeans and hoodie, threw them into the laundry basket, and stepped into the hot spray of water. It felt so good, soothing my aching back. That ride must have been long; I was stiff. I shampooed my hair, then wrapped myself in the large, pink towel that hung on the railing outside the cubicle before stepping back into my room. After drying off, I located a comb on a very prissy-looking dressing table and sat down on the bed to untangle my hair.
I absentmindedly relived my last hockey goal. It had been my finest moment on the ice this season. As I reminisced, I idly glanced into the mirror at the far end of the room and was jolted back to the present. Who was that staring back at me? I slowly walked over to the mirror and gaped into it. My hand wandered up to my hair. I yanked at it. Ouch! It was attached to my head, but it couldn’t be mine. It was blond… platinum blond! I looked ridiculous, like an awful Barbie doll. I pulled it again, harder this time, willing myself to wake up, but winced as I pulled out a small clump. I stared at the hair in my hand, feeling the strands with my fingers in disbelief. I felt a sense of dread, and then lost control. I screamed.
Still wrapped in my towel, I ran out of my room and stumbled down the stairs. Halfway down, I stopped. I held my breath. I wanted to shout and scream, but I held it all in. The last thing I wanted was another trip to the psych unit.
Author Imogen Rose
About the Author Imogen Rose is the author of the bestselling series, Portal Chronicles, which has attained cult status within indie literature and become a favorite among teens and adults alike.
An immunologist by profession, Dr. Rose published her first work of fiction in 2010. She now writes full time and is currently working on her second teen series, the Bonfire Chronicles. Imogen was born in Sweden and has lived in several places, counting London among her favorites. She moved to New Jersey in 2001.
A self-confessed Hermès addict, Imogen freely admits to being obsessed with Kurt Cobain. She enjoys shopping, traveling, watching movies, and hanging out with her family, friends, and Chihuahua.