Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Addicted to You by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Addicted to You

Series: Addicted #1

Author: Krista and Becca Ritchie


She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.

New Adult Romance recommended for readers 18+ for mature content.


**I received this ebook to read and review before I read the second book of the series for a blog tour.**

When I looked at the cover and read the synopsis, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. A story about a sexaholic and an alcoholic living together and faking a happy relationship to hide their destructive habits from everyone in their lives. From high profile society families, they fabricated a fake relationship to keep their lifestyles safe. I suspended my tendency to make pre-judgments about books and decide to read it.

Once again I was a little taken aback when I started reading it. Even though I knew what was coming, I was still a little caught off guard, but in the best way. I'm so used to reading main characters who are perfect or who have nearly perfect lives, but here are two very troubled, very imperfect people who are so worried about their families finding out that they hide who they really are from the rest of the world. At least they have each other. From the beginning, I had real hopes for them. Like with most addictions, there was something major lacking in both of their lives, and I think that each was the only person in the world who could help the other. It's a beautiful and horrible thing.

They both go through a lot during the tight confines of this story. Crazy highs and lows so low that they don't know if they're going to make it out alive sometimes. It was a roller coaster that left me holding onto the bar so hard my knuckles were white -just hoping and praying that they would be able to help each other heal the way they were needing. I was left feeling a little whiplashed, but content.

I think this story ended just the way that it was needing to to further the story. I was really glad for the choices the characters made at the end of this novel.

It was a great read.



Book Blitz and Giveaway: Getting by ~ A Knight’s Tale I by Claudia Y. Burgoa

Getting by ~ A Knight’s Tale I

Author: Claudia Y. Burgoa

Genre: Contemporary, New Adult

Publication Date: February 18th 2014


When Emma Anderson arrived at San Francisco International Airport, she regretted accepting the distinction of being the maid of honor to Gaby’s—her childhood friend—wedding. It had been years since the last time she set foot in Menlo Park, where her parents had been killed. The rug where she had been shoving her feelings since that day looked bumpier than a camel’s hump. Who could blame her; if she hadn’t been selfish they’d still be around. Ever since that fateful day, Emma has been perfecting the knack of Getting By.

Cade’s wedding in Menlo Park—a city close to San Francisco—might be the perfect place for Jake Knight to shake the memories of his ex, Emma Anderson for good. Single, available women galore for an entire week was the perfect medication, one he intended to take three times a day for an entire week to return to his player days. It was a plan the former spy thought flawless until he came face to face with the maid of honor. Jake’s perfect retreat turns into a flight, fight or hide week of celebrations.


Nights meant sleep and dreams—my archenemies. The Crowley to my Dean Winchester, the Green Goblin to my Spider-man, the list of superheroes and their opposites was long, and so became the analogies I used on a daily basis. My lack of sleep began with Dad and his conditions for me to continue my art. Then came my parents' deaths. Those took a toll on me because I mixed dreams with realities and hopes. Not once did I have a nightmare, all of them were sweet and real. Seeing Mom and Dad on those nights filled my gut with nails, and my head pounded with the reminder that they were gone the next morning. Those had been merely fantasies that would never become a reality.

For the past three months I had been evading sleep and working overtime, over the overtime. The dreams of elevators, trips to sophisticated-secluded spots after a week of work and delicious nights with a man who I was required to forget in order to move on, came daily—nightly. They not only hit me with vengeance, but they came tangled with what humans liked to call hope. The urge to crawl inside myself to avoid the need of his touch, kisses and whatever it was that we had not long ago, consumed me. If I had the powers to morph into an animal, it’d be a sea turtle and I’d stay inside my shell for the next hundred years. Past the stage of melancholy and into the real world, I pushed my body outside of the bed and into the shower, where I got ready to face the Clements and the house next door.

About the Author

Claudia lives in Colorado with her family and three dogs. Two beagles who believe they are human, and a bichon who thinks she’s a beagle. While managing life, she works as a CFO at a small IT Company. She’s a dreamer who enjoys music, laughter and a good story.

Author Links

Author Q&A

Q: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
C.B.: I just wing for the first draft. My stories start with an idea and the first words are a scene… any scene. From there I start sculpting it.
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
C.B.: Modern: I’d say it’s a tie between Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot and Nora Roberts. Classic… I’d like to think that throughout the years I have learned from Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Cervantes, Wilde, Asimov, Dickens and Austin. Let’s not forget Shakespeare, who wrote about Italy without ever visiting the country.
Q: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
C.B. My friends, and also my social media friends. Members of Facebook I met five years ago and now from twitter, the community of indie authors is amazingly supportive. Not only with my writing, but on a personal level too.
Irene: Why did you start writing, Claudia?
C.B: I read a lot when I was little, since I lived with my grandmother, I was privy to my grandfather’s books. [No one told the adults I needed age appropriate literature] There I was, a six year old reading Cervantes, Dostoyevsky, Marquez and encyclopedias. From there I began writing, trying to imagine a different life—a fun life.
Q: Who designed the cover for Getting By?
C.B. The team at Damonza, they are amazingly talented.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing Getting By?
C.B. Writing Jake’s POV, it is the first time I attempt to write from the male perspective.
K.M.: What can you offer them in the way of information or entertainment?
I like to think I’m bringing witty, neurotic, human characters that, although they want to be perfect they live their lives with flaws like everyone else, yet they handle it the best they can. I try to add some humor to the mix with the promise that’s there’s always a better tomorrow –or at least something nice on the next page.
Stephanie Neighbour: I’ve decided to out you as a gadget junkie—Apple in particular. What is your gadget of choice for writing your manuscripts?
CB: Hardcore apple, however my computer isn’t…something about software and other gibberish that the IT man of the house keeps telling. When I’m not typing at my desk, I’m using one of my three iPad to write a scene. After I email it and fix it.
S.N.: Your number one guilty pleasure is??? (I already know it isn’t Taco Bell)
CB: Any and all carbohydrates, chocolate, candy, pastries, real tacos…overall I’m a foodie.
S.N.: Do you decide the path of your characters or do they take on a life of their own as the story unfolds?
They take their own path and I just have to watch them behave, there’s been a few times when I have to erase several chapters because they don’t care about closure. One of the reasons why I have 7 first drafts of Getting By stored in my computer.
S.N.: Have you always considered yourself a writer? If so, when did you begin writing? If not, at what age did you begin writing?

Definitely a storyteller, age…fairly young. A few times I wrote the stories; that began around middle school. During high school, my best friend who had an ongoing Telenovela with her boyfriend suggested that I documented it and make myself famous with it. One day I might out her, as soon as I find my notebook I’ll get her.

Six years ago I retook the idea of writing what the voices in my head tell me. Last year is when I found the guts to share them.

S.N.: If you could write in a different genre, what would it be?

CB: Sci-Fi… in middle school I seriously made my boyfriend believe I was an alien. Mothership and all explained in detailed. I was raised in a house of Assimov lovers, Star Trek geeks and overall nerds.

Fantasy and paranormal too, that comes from the fairy side of my family and my grandfather who always told me I’m good with ghosts—he died before I was born.

S.N.: Who or what inspires you?
CB: Music inspires me, it sets the mood of how the book will go. Who…the people I observe.
S.N.: Early bird or night owl?
CB: Night Owl? I work Australia time, which usually is when we sleep here in America.
S.N.: Your dream vacation is….
CB: Depends on my mood, I love to walk and discover new places, but if I’m tired a good sun tan in front of the ocean is perfect.
S.N.: Name something you are really horrible at. (Doesn’t have to be related to writing)
CB: Crafts, I have two left hands. I can’t use a thread and a needle even if my life depends on it. *useless, the voices in my head scream in unison*
S.N.: What can we expect from you in the future? New projects? Other ventures?

This book I’m releasing, Getting by, is the first installment of series A Knights Tales. Following Jake, Mitch and Liam three playboy brothers who have a playboy life but a knight in shining armor complex. Their world collides a bit with the world of Where Life Takes You—the Life series. There’s a cameo from one of the characters of WLTY here.

The second project is Next To You, book number two of the Life series. I teamed up with Damonza and we have a gorgeous cover, which should be reveal in the near future. On this book, we’ll not only listen to Becca, but also Dan’s side of the story. This is not a rehash of the first book from Dan’s POV though. There are a few cameos from the characters of Getting by here. And the precious is already with my Editor extraordinaire, Karen.

I’m doodling with the second book of the Knights Tales series Standing By, that’s Mitch and Hayley’s story. Meanwhile, in the other side of my brain; I’m pondering about a third book of the Life series, with Buddy’s life—Dan’s foster brother. There’s another book which at the moment is a skeleton trying to stir up the usual protocol and bring a different kind of theme to what’s been written lately. There’s a twist on it and I’m hoping to pull something fun.


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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Movie Review: Need for Speed(2014)

Need For Speed (2014_)

Need for Speed

Director: Scott Waugh
Writer: George Gatins (screenplay),George Gatins (story), John Gatins (story)


Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins.


Let me first start out by saying that I have never played Need for Speed, and I've only ever heard of the game in passing. The only thing I knew about the game going in was that it was very popular and it had to do with racing. Last night (Wednesday, February 19, 2014), I went to a free pre-screening of Need for Speed through See It First at a local Regal Cinema. My husband acquired the tickets. Since it was free, I was all game to go see it.

We had talked about the movie before, both saying that we wouldn't pay to go see it because it looked like it wasn't going to be worth it. I will be the first person to say that I grossly underestimated this movie, and I'm glad it more than surpassed my expectations.

In the reel of trailers and behind the scenes footage they showed before the screening, the actors and director of Need for Speed were the first to tell the audience that there is NO CGI in this movie. All the driving is real. The actors had to take driving lessons, and they all did their own stunts. That was one of the things that make this movie so phenomenal. The audience feels like they are in the car, right along for the ride with Toby and the other racers. With the movie theater speakers, your seat rumbles with the cars. It feels like you're right there with them.

It is chock full of cars that most people will never get to see or touch in person. Fast, fast, beautiful cars that can go faster than most people will ever drive in their lifetime. There were definitely a lot of gasps and people fawning over the cars going on in the theater.

This is definitely a good move for Aaron Paul. With Breaking Bad just ending, I think it was important that Paul get his name back out there right after to establish him as more than his role as Jesse. He really showed more of his range with this movie, while still operating within his wheelhouse.

Not only is it a wonderful action movie, but there is also a tangible plot that really works for the movie. There are tears (happy and sad), angry moments, and moments where you hold your breath because you don't know what is going to happen and you only want the best for the main character. It has everything a movie goer wants.

As a huge fan of the Fast and Furious franchise, I really urge people to go out and see this movie. The effects are better, the cars are crazier, and the acting is top notch.



Book Blitz and Giveaway: Paris Cravings by Kimberley Montpetit

Paris Cravings
Paris Cravings

Can life really turn on a dime, a missed bus— or a stuck pastry shop door?
Chloe Dillard’s life has always been complicated. Her mother is a neurotic romance novelist and her boyfriend, Mathew, has been pressuring her to go “all the way”. But after The Worst Night of Her Life, Chloe escapes on her Senior Class trip to the swoon-worthy city of Paris which takes her mind off her troubles—temporarily. On the final leg of her dream trip, Chloe squeezes in one final run for a last-minute box of decadent pastries. Add a stuck door, subtract a broken four-inch heel from her cute strappy sandals, and Chloe ends up one stuck girl on the bakery shop floor with a sprained ankle. Rescued by the shop owner’s dreamy son with chocolate-syrup eyes, the beautiful city of Paris suddenly becomes Chloe’s personal secret adventure. And even though Jean-Paul, the oh-so-kind La Patisserie shop boy is the gentlemanly guy Chloe has always dreamed of, even he has a girlfriend. The police are tracking her down as a run-away, Mom’s having a nervous breakdown over her daughter’s “disappearance”, and Chloe’s just trying to have a Happily-Ever-After even as her dreams with Matt are swirling down the drain. Could being lost in the city of Paris be just what the doctor ordered? What’s a girl to do in the most romantic city in the world?

Praise for Paris Cravings:

  •  "PARIS CRAVINGS is such a fun read, I couldn't put it down! This is a humorous, delicious, and dreamy romance set in Paris about pastries, growing up, dating, and making those hard decisions about the kind of guy you want to be with, and who is best for you." ~Milyssa Rivera 
  •  "Who can resist a book set in Paris amidst a Patisserie shop full of eclairs and pastries?! I'm excited this is a series, because anything with a bakery involved and I am in! Paris Cravings started out with a girl, a big box, some high heels and a mishap with a door. Insert cute worker with Hershey brown eyes, a French accent and a missing passport and you have the beginnings of romance." ~Fire & Ice Blogger

Dear Diary: I have a confession to make: I’ve become a total idiot over French pastries. They’re my new favorite food. My new-found edible souvenir. My new favorite sin. Drizzled chocolate, sugar-dusted raspberries, flaky crusts with perfect crimped edges. I’ll have to run a marathon when I get back home to New York just to burn off my new five pounds. French beignets are the worst temptation. Those yeasty chocolate-filled pastries call to me the way Prada handbags call to my mother from Fifth Avenue. Dunkin Donuts—so yesterday. Climbing the Eiffel tower, running through miles of hallways at the Louvre Museum, gourmet lunches on the Seine River . . . yes, those are all must-sees . . . if you don’t mind vertigo-dizzying heights and enough paintings to saturate your brain for the rest of your life. But once I discovered La Patisserie, the rest of Paris became a mere backdrop for my guilty pleasure. What’s a girl to do?


   Author Kimberley Montpetit 

 Kimberley Montpetit once spent all her souvenir money at the La Patisserie shops when she was in Paris—on the arm of her adorable husband. The author grew up in San Francisco, another swoon-worthy city, loves all things Parisian and chocolate and lives in a small town along the Rio Grande with her family. Kimberley has won many awards for her work, including the Southwest Book Award, the Whitney Award, the Arizona/New Mexico Book Award, is a Crystal Kite Finalist (SCBWI) and included in the Bank Street College Best Books of the Year. She once stayed in a haunted castle tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland, sailed on the Seine in Paris, walked the beaches of Normandy, eaten in numerous French cafes, ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan, sunbathed on Waikiki, shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. She adores all baked goodies; brownies, éclairs, donuts, tarts, and pie, and makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies while revising. Kimberley is, of course, hard at work on her next novel(s).

BookBlast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash 
 Ends 3/14/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Lumiere by Jacqueline E. Garlick


Author: Jacqueline E. Garlick

 One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything… After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum. Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own. Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same goal, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all. When darkness is safer than light…


  • “One of the most inventive story worlds I’ve read in years…” Donald Maass, Author of Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing 21st Century Fiction, and The Fire in Fiction 
  • “Such an engaging story featuring witty dialogue, gripping action scenes and a romance that will make your heart melt!” Laurel May 
  • “I liked the mix of reminders I got from authors like Mervyn Peake, L.Frank Baum and Ray Bradbury. I'm sure that every reader will find shades of other famous writers, including or excluding these three.” Richard L. Bunning 
  • “Eyelet and Urlick, the two main characters... There's so much to love! They are like salt and pepper: totally different, spicy, argumentative, and brilliantly smart.” Rosemary Danielis    

  Excerpt From Lumière: 
“Wait!” I shout, surging forward, shouldering my way through the crowd. I fight my way to the front and pound on the doors of the carriage. “Please!” I shout. “I need to speak to you!” But the stranger doesn’t hear. He brings his whip down hard over his horse’s back and the carriage leaps forward, parting the angry crowd like soil in a furrowed field. “Wait!” I hoist my skirts and chase after the carriage. “Please!” I shout. “Please! Wait!” A second crack of the whip and the carriage moves faster. I race on, struggling to keep up to its side. If I lose sight of the carriage, I’ve lost everything. All hope of ever leading a normal life. I can’t let that happen. Won’t let that happen. He will not take my father’s machine. “Please, I beg you, stop the coach!” I lunge, throwing myself at the back of the coach, barely catching a toe on the edge of the running boards, embedding my nails into the carriage’s seams. The carriage bursts forward through the streets of Gears, the city fast becoming a memory. “Stop!” I plead as my boot slips from the running boards. I swing out to one side and dangle by one arm. The stranger at the mount turns his head. “What are you doing?” he shouts. “Get off!” “Get off?” I kick my way back up onto the platform. “I said get off!” he shouts again. “I won’t!” I say, hoisting, myself up higher onto the cab. My foot slips again and I sink beneath the rooftop, striking my chin hard on the way down. Grasping at the coach’s seams I desperately try to hold on, the toes of my boots burrowing twisted trenches in the dirt road below. My heart lodges in my throat as I lose my grip and swing out again to the opposite side. “Bloody Hell!” I hear the stranger curse. His face appears over the top of the cab seconds later. His eyes are lit like flares. I hang by the tips of my fingers, shocked, staring up at him. I don’t know whether to scream or cry.  
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Author Jacqueline E. Garlick 

 I'm Jacqueline Garlick. Author of YA, New Adult, and Women's Fiction. I love strong heroines, despise whiny sidekicks, and adore a good story about a triumphant underdog. I love to read, write, paint (walls and paper) and plan cool writing events for cool writers. I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology. I prefer creating things to cleaning things, and baking to cooking. I believe laughter is a one-stop-shop solution to all that ails you and if that doesn’t work there’s always Ellen Degeneres. You will always find a purple wall (or two) in my house (perhaps even a door) and a hidden passageway that leads to a mystery room. (Okay, so you won’t find a hidden passageway but a girl can dream, can’t she?) Oh, and tea. There will always be tea. I love specialty teas...and collecting special teacups from which to drink them. (See website for collection.) In my former life, I was a teacher (both grade school and college-don't ask) and more recently I've been a graduate of Ellen Hopkin’s Nevada Mentor Program and a student of James Scott Bell, Christopher Vogler and Don Maass. An excerpt from Lumière earned me the 2012 Don Maass Break Out Novel Intensive Scholarship. Lumière—A Romantic Steampunk Fantasy—is my debut novel, Book One in my young adult The Illumination Paradox Series. I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/14/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cover Reveal: Broken Elements & Shifting Selves by Mia Marshall

 photo CoverReveal.jpg
Broken Elements & Shifting Selves Mia Marshall
Author: Shari Slade
Series: Elements
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy


“It’s happening again, Aidan. We didn’t stop it, after all.”
As an elemental, Aidan Brook holds the power of water at her fingertips. A descendant of the earth’s oldest magic, she can cause tides to ebb and flow, put out house fires without calling 911, and give anyone who’s annoying her an impromptu shower.
But even her magic has its limits. After it fails her one terrible night, she hides from the world and everyone she once loved, trying to escape the memories that haunt her. Ten years later, her exile is brought to an abrupt end when her former best friend appears on her front porch. An elemental killer is once again murdering her friends, and she must return to the scene of her own crimes.
Lake Tahoe proves more than she bargained for. Between a sadistic killer, some clever FBI agents, an annoyingly attractive landlord, and way too many new roommates, she has a pretty full plate. Add in a past she’s desperate to escape and her own uncontrollable powers, and Aidan Brook is having a very, very bad month.



Aidan Brook's world was shattered when the actions of a brutal murderer revealed long-buried secrets about her past--secrets even she didn't know. A powerful elemental, Aidan discovered she possesses the wrong kind of magic. It's a secret that could cost her sanity—or even her life.
What she needs is some peace and quiet. What she gets is a phone call from a division of the FBI so secret it doesn’t even have a name, asking for her help with a series of shifter disappearances.
Before Aidan can settle into a new routine of pancakes and evenings by the fire, the case develops claws. She quickly finds herself caught between uptight bears, deadly mountain lions, overprotective parents, and unhappy federal agents. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter and the slow dissolution of her chosen family, and it’s hard to say which will drive her mad first: her magic, or her chaotic life.

About the Author

Mia Marshall has been a genre reader from the first moment she cracked open The Wizard of Oz series and discovered it was even better than the movie.
A few decades after that, she decided to create her own imaginary worlds. Broken Elements and Shifting Selves are the first two books in the Elements urban fantasy series. The third book, Turning Tides, will be available May 2014.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Chasing Prophecy by James Moser

Chasing Prophecy

Author: James Moser

Genre: Paranormal, Thriller, Young Adult

Publication Date: January 2nd 2014



Mo is a shy teen just trying to survive high school. He has secretly fallen in love with a girl named Prophecy. Some people call her family a harmless hippie community. Others call them a cult. Desperate to keep their land, Prophecy’s family turns to the drug trade and tricks Mo into smuggling. Prophecy flees the compound. She agrees to testify but disappears. Mo is devastated. When he is called to trial, the Family threatens to reveal his own drug trafficking. Mo commits to speaking out, though doing so will destroy his future. Prophecy returns to help Mo kill the monster that her family has become.


Max leaned over and whispered, “They don’t have any gear.”

I looked at their packs. He was right. No rolled-up tents, sleeping bags or cookware dangled from any of the straps or hooks. Just bulging backpacks. Their empty sports-drink bottles were the only clue that they’d known they were about to hike straight up a mountain.

I remember thinking how weird it was that they carried so much weight uphill and none of that weight was soap, clean clothes, or sleeping bags.

Max peeked inside one of their packs. He undid the top pull-cord and pulled out a giant freezer-bag of red crystals. I undid the top drawstring of one of the other backpacks. More bags of the same stuff. I held one up. A bright flash startled us, made us step back. After blinking away the spots, I saw Clean with one arm extended, centering us in another picture he was taking on his phone.

“What’s this?” I asked, holding up a bag of what looked like raspberry Sno-Kone.

“Drugs,” Max said softly.

“It is not ‘drugs,’” said Clean. “It is the salvation of our family. It is the sword we will use to fight off Big Brother, to beat him back from our land, to cut off his hand as it reaches for what is ours. Now put those bags of salvation back, please. I’m sending word of our salvation to my father.” He held the Blackberry closer to his face and I knew he was forwarding the picture to Able back at the ranch.

Big buckets of reality crashed down on me head. Huge bags of drugs brought in from Canada. Hiked over the border in the dense woodsy areas where the Mount Baker National Forest drops to the Canadian Border.

These guys are criminals, I thought.

Clean waved at our tents, sleeping bags, and the rest of the food. He said, “You guys should just chill for a day, catch your breath, eat, drink, and sleep. No fires. We’re way off the trail and we’re nowhere near the spot where people hang-glide, base-jump or wall-climb. I put all the dehydrated food pouches in the blue backpack—soups and chili and fruit. A whole bottle of water purifying tablets. It’s not tons but it’ll keep you fueled til you’re back home. Thanks to you, the hard work is done.”

“Thanks, bruh,” said the leader of the other team. The three of them were leaning into the rock and leaning into each other. They must have done that on the way up, at night, to stay warm.

Clean motioned us to the other end of the rock. He said, “We leave in half an hour. Drink all the water you can, then fill up one small water bottle each. Remember to add an iodine tablet. No one can get sick on the way down. And,” he said, pausing to reach into his pack. “We wear these on the way down.” He pulled out green and tan camouflage floppy hats and t-shirts that matched the backpacks our visitors had carried.

“What about . . .” I started to say.

Max took a deep breath, dropped his chin and stared at the ground. He understood before I did that the Vision-Quest was over. We’d come to exactly this spot because this was the mission Able and Clean had planned for us all along.

Clean said, “We’re carrying it back down to the trailhead. We’re taking no food. We ate less than 24 hours ago and will be able to eat again before we go to sleep, after we get home. We have water. It’s downhill for us so we should make the car before dark. I have a small thing of sunscreen. Other than that, all we need is some guts.”

Max’s face was angry. I was just plain numb. There was nothing else to say.

Half an hour later, Clean hugged his three companions goodbye. We stayed on the southern end of the ledge, teetering under the heavy packs, just nodding politely to the other crew. We started down and did not talk. The backpacks carried the same weight but since I’m smaller than Clean and Max, I struggled more. I panted and stumbled a few times. We reached the tree-line in a couple hours.

Max and I kept trading WTF looks.

I thought, What is Kazzy doing right now? Does she have backpack of drugs, too? Did she know about this? Of course she didn’t know. The day before she looked so lost and confused. As lost and confused as anyone in the dining hall. If she had drugs on her back, she was as surprised as we were.

God, I wanted to hold her and I wanted her to hold me back. I’ve never wanted to hold someone so much. I thought of the squeeze she’d given me as she left the school bus.

The school bus. Right. They’d chosen a special ed. school bus to bring us in and out because it would hide in plain sight. No cop would pull us over for a small reason.

Max suddenly said, “Shit.” He kicked a tree, nearly fell from being off-balance under the heavy pack, steadied himself, unstrapped, and dropped his pack on the ground. He looked at me, then at Clean. “This is illegal. It’s not what you said we’d be doing.”

Clean moved quickly toward Max. I dropped my pack to the ground and took a long step toward them--to break up the fight before it got started. Clean’s eyes darted to mine. He put his finger to his lips.

Max put up his fists but Clean was already past him.

Clean took two long steps down the path, to the bend in the next switchback. He looked back at us—eyes on fire. He pointed sharply at us and then up into the woods.

We pulled on our packs and labored up the rocky hillside, grabbing at pine trees and brush. Glancing to our right, I saw Clean doing the same. We reached a spot thirty feet off the trail, level and dense with ferns. From the trail we heard a rustling and the unmistakable clip-clopping of horseshoes. We dropped down in the ferns, shimmied out of our backpacks and kneeled down in the dense mossy soil.

A forest ranger on horseback came into view. As he brought the horse to a stop, it sniffed at the air, looked our way and froze. I knew it had smelled us. We turned to Clean. He put one finger to his lips and stared daggers at us.

The ranger wore an olive green, short-sleeved shirt and cargo shorts. He had a walkie talkie clipped to his belt and a satellite phone in his hand. The saddle held a canteen, knapsack, and a long leather sleeve with a shotgun handle sticking out. As he turned around, I saw a handgun holstered at his side. The guy looked straight ahead, spoke into his satellite phone, dismounted, whispered softly to the horse, and stroked its mane.

I looked back at Clean and what I saw told me that the Bethlehem family had changed forever. The fingers of one hand were spread toward us, commanding we remain still and silent. His other hand held a gun. The lines on his face were calm. He was not afraid.

The ranger turned his back to us, lowered his hands, undid his belt buckle, moved his legs apart, looked to the sky, began to whistle. Clean gently clicked off the safety. The horse heard it, darting its eyes in our direction, snuffled, pawed at the ground restlessly. The man turned back to the horse, whispered, went back to whistling.

After the ranger and horse were safely out of earshot, we stepped over to Clean.

Max said, “What are you doing with a GUN???”

I added, “Yeah, and what were you gonna do if he saw us?”

Clean looked calmly at me, snapped the safety back on, and returned the gun to the waist-band against his lower back. He clicked on his walkie talkie, adjusted the volume and channel, and said, “Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Anyone out there chillin’? Over.”

A long pause, and then the crackling response, “Chillin’ like Bob Dylan. Thought you guys were gone. Over.”

Clean said, “We just ran into Steve’s Big Brother. You remember Rick, right? Over.”

A longer, crackling pause.

“Copy that. Long time since we’ve seen Rick. He by himself? Over”

“Affirmative. Over.”

And the longest, crackling pause yet.

“How long til Rick arrives for dinner? Over.”

“He’s probably not coming to your house, but if he does go that way, it’ll be at least an hour. No more than two. Over.”

“Copy that. If you seen him again, tell him sorry we missed him and we’ll catch him next time. We’re running late and we’ll be gone in ten minutes. Over.”

“Sounds like a plan. Sorry about the fast turnaround. I know you guys are tired from the trip. From the long drive all the way from California, I mean. Over.”

“Copy that. Catch you guys next time. Over and out.”

“Copy that. Over and out.”

Clean switched off his walkie talkie and clipped it onto his belt.

“Look at me,” he said. “Everyone take a drink of water and pee if you have to. We are not stopping for a few hours, until we get to the parking lot. I will walk on point. That means I’ll be by myself about fifty feet ahead. There will be NO talking, so I can hear what’s ahead. You watch where you’re walking and you watch me. I put my hand up, that means stop. I point, and that means you have five seconds to go wherever I’m pointing.

“We run into someone and can’t hide in time, you just do exactly what I do. We’ll say hello all friendly-like, but you keep your heads down and you do not slow down no matter what. I will go first. I’ll pause, I’ll make some small talk for ten seconds while you pass me, and then I’ll bring up the rear after the two of you are down the trail a bit. I will catch up on my own so don’t look back. We don’t look back and we don’t stop no matter what.”

We nodded.

“Say it so I know you understand,” he said.

“Don’t look back,” Max said.

“Don’t stop, no matter what,” I said.

About the Author

The author works with high school students because young adults inspire him. As such, he wanted to write about teenagers transforming themselves to overcome obstacles, which is what he watches them do every day. This book's mission is to entertain adults while inspiring teens. The result is "Chasing Prophecy," a story about love, loss, redemption, and monsters.

Boo Radley is the author's all-time favorite literary character, which is how the Seattle-area legend of Bigfoot entered "Chasing Prophecy".

The author lives in Seattle with his beautiful wife and lively eight year old son. When he's not reading and writing, or talking about reading and writing, he's watching too much television and snacking on frozen treats from Trader Joe's. Man, those things are good.

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