Feel like an excerpt break — and a chance to win a free book? We are here for you. We’re super excited for Kristin Cast’s Amber Smoke, the author’s first foray into writing solo. Our reviewer called this story of parallel worlds, Furies and warriors, “one hot summer read.” Want to take a peek?
“Just breathe. Everything is fine now.” She straightened the skirt of her wrinkled dress and wiped away the tears flooding her eyes. “That was way close.”
She took one more deep breath before the elevator door dinged. Eva tiptoed into the lobby, hoping she wouldn’t run into Bridget making a last call dash to the hotel bar. She didn’t have the strength to fake happiness, and she also didn’t want to ruin her best friend’s night. With no squealing friend in sight, she relaxed, pulled her car key from her clutch, and made her way into the quiet Tulsa night.
Eva began to regret “borrowing” her mom’s designer shoes as she walked, with her toes pinched and heels blistered, down Main Street to her car.
“Couldn’t parallel park under a street light. Had to park in a pull-through space off in the dark. But at least I’m out of there and away from Spencer.” She sniffled back the last of her tears and dug for her phone to text Bridget.
Omw home. Call me later. Lots of Spencer stuff to talk about. He’s such an ass! Be safe. Love you!
Distracted by her phone, she felt less uneasy about the dark trek to her car. “Let’s see who’s posted pictures from the party.” Before she clicked the app’s box, she stopped. A shape teetered on the brink of her peripheral vision. She stood on the sidewalk, frozen by panic.
Clunk, clunk. Clunk, clunk. Then a pause. They had to be footsteps. Maybe it was Spencer, pissed off and coming to get what he thought he was owed.
All the ways she could have avoided the terror building inside of her pummeled her thoughts. I should have just crashed in Bridget’s room. Or never have gone up with him in the first place.
Without looking back, Eva wrangled her fear and sprinted toward the safety of her car. She had only gone a few steps when her pace slowed because of the pain of her shoes. Their rough straps rubbed raw on her toes and heels, and she hopped awkwardly down the street. Luckily, her silver Chevy Spark was only feet in front of her. She threw open the door and yanked it closed. Eva held her breath and looked in the driver’s side mirror.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” An empty water bottle lazily tripped down the street and passed her car, creating the clunk, clunk she escaped. Dread released her stomach and she laughed with relief. “Wow. Now that was totally embarrassing. I’m so glad no one was out here to see me.”
Her hands still shook from the encounter with the killer bottle, and she wrung them out, trying to take in deep mouthfuls of air to calm herself.
“And you didn’t even lock the car doors. So stupid. What if someone was really chasing you? He could’ve just hopped in the passenger seat. And then I’d be trapped in this little box with some lunatic. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I really need to start listening to my mother.” She tossed her clutch on to the passenger seat and began quoting her mother aloud. “Eva, park under streetlamps. It’s safer. Always lock your car doors. It’s safer.”
A slick voice laughed softly from behind her. “Always check the backseat. It’s safer.”
Eva began to scream.
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