My first Halloween promotion of the month is for Riptide by author Claudette Melanson. Claudette has also given us an excerpt, enjoy.
In order to tear herself free from the deadly pull which is drawing her under, Maura must enlist the help of her preternatural family, exposing her newfound friends to a danger none of them have ever had the misfortune to face before. Can she be saved or will the riptide drag Maura under…along with those she loves the most…
“Maura! Drop him,” growled a voice saturated with darkness. I obeyed. Gavin crumpled to the ground, lacking the strength to remain upright.
“Millicent!” I was beyond relieved to find it wasn’t her fair-haired sister. Her brow drew in and downward with anger, but she still allowed me to rush into her arms. “I got my elixir!” I announced, like a child who’d earned an A on her test. “And look at my fangs! They’re huge! They came in all the way, and that has to mean I’m soooo close to the final change.”
“And what if you had changed?” Her tone was full of scolding, and she held me at arm’s length so as to drive her warning home with the obsidian daggers that were her eyes. “You would have eaten him up, like a big, bad w…vampire. And stop looking so proud of yourself! You obviously require more supervision than previously considered. Honestly, can you not keep yourself out of trouble?”
I felt the need to defend myself just a little bit. “I’m a vampire changeling with no training.” I shrugged in helplessness. “And I’m still a teenager. With no parents around to help me.”
That visibly softened her up. “Well…you do make extremely good points.” Her eyes had shifted heavenward but fell on me once more. “But you must understand that with every foolhardy, immature move you make, you only reinforce Aldiva’s opinion of you and add merit to her solution.”
“What solution would that be?” I asked meekly, fear invading my voice.
Gavin groaned, offering her the opportunity to easily sidestep my question, not that I believed she would have been truthful with me anyway…and did I really want to know? Surely my father would never let her do away with me?
We stood over the other teen, slumped drunkenly against the building wall. “Do you have any food in your pack? Preferably juice or sweets?”
“No…that’s kinda what caused all this. I went all day without eating.”
“Foolish!” Her loud sigh was rife with agitation. “Why would you… Oh, never mind! Does he?” When I looked confused…“Oh, for god’s sake, Maura. Search his pack for food.”
Why was she being so mean? She’d seemed to be on my side during my encounter with Aldiva…which could only mean either my father or Aldiva herself were exceedingly enraged by my latest blunder…and she feared for me more than she was angry…which was somehow far worse. I concentrated on trying to distinguish between the individual contents of the pack in the diminishing light. “I found an energy drink,” I offered, holding it up.
“Well, they are full of sugar. It will have to do for now.” She took it, cracked the top and held it to his lips. At first, the liquid ran over them and down his chin, but Millicent pried his mouth open further, placing a finger against his bottom teeth. He began to drink on his own. “That is promising.”
“Thank goodness,” I breathed.
“Can I ask you something?” The lecture had returned to her tone, and I wondered what level of tongue-lashing I was in for.
“Just how did you plan to make your friend here forget this magical evening? Hmmm?”
I smiled self-assuredly at this. “Compel him.”
“Com…wha??” Gavin was becoming vocal. Progress. Maybe I hadn’t drained him to the point of death after all. That was certainly a relief.
“And…has that always worked out for you?”
I felt my cheeks start to burn. “Well, no…but…” How could she know that? The only explanation I could think of was Val’s blabbering mouth. He’d witnessed my failure at compulsion firsthand—on more than one occasion.
“And what if it had failed this evening?”
“Well…I would have just…ummm…”
“Yes, just as I thought. You would have been in even bigger trouble. See now why you need to think things through, Maura?” Her tone sounded more pleading than harsh.
I really hadn’t thought about the conclusion at all. I’d just been hungry. So hungry. “I’ll eat next time, I prom-om-ise.” My words ended on a sob.
Although Millicent came across as a total badass most of the time, anyone who got to know her even a little could see what a soft heart she actually had. “Oh, Maura…. Now, you stay here,” she told Gavin, her eyes locked on his. She came to me and folded me into her embrace. “Poor sweet girl. I know it must be hard. You just found your father, only to have him torn right back out of your life. And it is the first time in your life you had to be without your mother, no?”
“Yes. I miss Caelyn,” I admitted into her soft black hair.
She ran with the opportunity to lighten the conversation. “Oh, but would you not be in the worst trouble if she heard you call her that!” Oh great. Everyone was telling secrets about me. What else had Millicent learned about me that had, perhaps, even been shared with the others? “Come now,” she cooed at me, “let us take care of your little problem. After, I will take you home, and from now on, I promise to spend more time with you. Whether Aldiva or Maxwell approve or not!”
I knew the smile spreading across my face was heartfelt despite the fact I could feel the dried blood cracking around the outer edges of my lips.
After making sure Gavin was still immobile, she turned back to me. “Okay, so show me these full-grown fangs of yours.”
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