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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. Some of the ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!

Photo Credit Amber Jade Rain

Photo Credit Amber Jade Rain

My legs burned as I ran down the loading dock. There has to be a ship leaving. I glanced over my shoulder. No one followed me. Yet. But I clutched the microtube to my chest, tears welling in my eyes. You can’t breakdown now. Dad’s gone and if you don’t get your shit together, you will be too.

The last thing Dad told me was to get to Karman 5, where Cestia, my RBF (robot best friend) was at. He’d had enough time to slide his microtube to me, before the laser guns took him out. My stomach churned, remembering the stench of his seared flesh.

Ducking behind a space crane, I noticed the small cargo ship at the end of the ramp. The crew busied themselves loading metal crates onto an orbit-dolly. I slowed my pace, pretending to be a part of the ship’s crew as I grabbed a plastic case and walked up the ramp.

“Where do you want this?” I asked the guy near the door.

He glanced up, emerald eyes meeting mine. A shock of dark hair fell across his forehead as he nodded down the corridor. “Below decks.”

“Thanks.” I managed a weak smile. With a sigh of relief, I walked toward the back of the vessel. But before, I could slip away a hand clamped on my shoulder.

“I don’t recall seeing you on the flight over,” he said.

Shit. I didn’t have time for this. If I didn’t get off this planet, I was dead. It meant, I’d failed my dad. My people. And possibly several planets.

“Um—they had me below decks, keeping an eye on the cargo.”

His eyes narrowed. “Is that so?”

“Yes. God, you’re acting like a cosmic ass.” My pulse thundered in my ears.

His fingers dug into my arm as he ushered me to the underbelly of the ship. “I don’t know who the hell you think you are, but you’re not one of the crew.”

I swallowed hard. Okay, I could drop the case and make a run for it. But, if I did, I knew Melark’s men would catch me. And I’d suffer the same fate as my dad. “Listen, please. I—I’ve got to get out of here. Now.”

“Then you better hire yourself a transport. We don’t take stowaways. And we’re damn sure not a taxi service.”

Desperation clawed at me. “I—I’ll give you anything you want. Just get me to Karman 5.”

“Anything I want?” He grinned. “Don’t think you could afford it.”

A golden curl fell from beneath my helmet, brushing against my cheek. “Try me. I mean, if you’re into sexbots, I’ll buy you one. Or maybe you need a motorship to ride on the Silver Bridgeway.”

“Hey, Macon, you got your shipment loaded or not? I want to take off.” A gray haired man, poked his head down from above. “Seems to be a ruckus starting near the main transport gate.”

He never took his gaze from me. “Yeah, we’re all set. But I’m gonna need you to make an extra stop off at Karman 5.”

“What? That place is a crawling with Melark’s men.”

“Just do as I say.”

“Yes, sir.” The man disappeared.

Macon? Why did that name sound familiar.

Then it dawned on me. “Macon? As in Macon Arndt, General of the Uprising?”

He gave me an uneasy glance. “Who wants to know?”

I dropped the case I’d been holding, and sank against the metal sideboard. “I’m Dasha. Dasha Greenlake.”

“You’re Drake’s daughter?”

A lump formed in my throat as relief flooded through me. “Yes. Melark’s men caught him. That’s why I’m trying to get out of here. If they found out…”

“Shit. He’s dead?”

My lip trembled, but I fought to stay composed. “Yeah.”

“Jenson, get this ship in the air, now.” Macon grabbed my hand and dragged me to the main control area. He ushered me to a seat. “Buckle in.”

He plopped down beside me, while the door sealed shut with a hiss. I fastened my seatbelt, then held tight to the armrest. I so hated flying. And even though we’d lived in space since I was six, I never got used to it.

“Sir, looks like we have a squadron of Melark’s men checking ships on the dock.” Jenson’s voice came over the loud speaker.

“I know. Take off.”

The engines roared to life, and the vessel shook.  “Shields up. Full thrusters engaged.” Jenson shouted orders from the cockpit.

The lights dimmed, then blinked like pulsating stars. Within seconds, we pulled away from the dock. Then we shot forward. The pressure forced my back against my seat. I squeezed my eyes shut.

When we stabilized, Macon’s fingers grazed my hand. “I’m sorry to hear about your dad. He was a good man.”

“Yeah, he was.”

“Were you with him when he died?”

I nodded my head.

“Then he gave you the microtube?”

“Yes. I have to deliver to Karman 5. We have to stop Melark.”

“So this is it? We’ll finally see an end to the terror. ”

“I hope so. My robot, Cestia has been working on Melark’s ship for months now. He’s taken a liking to her.” I cringed, not wanting to think about what the jerk off did with my friend.

“Does she know what’ll happen?” He squeezed my hand.

Warmth coursed through me. I cleared my throat. “She does. I wish there was another way.”

“Trust me, there’s not. Your dad and I have tried to infiltrate Melark’s main ship and planet for the last couple years.”

I sighed. “I know.”

But it was hard to cope with. Knowing the only way to bring Melark down, meant sending my best friend to their death. Even if she was only an android.

“Listen, you need to change before we arrive at the docking bay.”

I glanced down at my ragged gray uniform. Blood stained the arm and chest of it, where I’d held Dad against me. “I didn’t bring anything else.”

“We’ve got something below decks. Come with me.”

We made our way to the back of the ship, where Macon rummaged through a couple plastic crates. At last, he pulled out a long white robe, a gold belt, and a diadem. He left me long enough to change, then escorted me back to my chair.

After several hours, Jenson’s voice came over the intercom. “We’re approaching Karman 5. We’ll be docking in five minutes.”

Nausea coursed through me. I just had to make it past security and find Cestia. I took a deep breath and wiped my sweaty hands on my robe.

“Don’t be nervous. Just follow my lead,” Macon said as the ship slowed, spun sideways, and landed.

Once the vessel docked, the door opened with a low hiss. Macon offered me his arm and ushered me to the main hub of Karman 5, Melark’s space station. People, androids, and aliens bustled along the conveyor, which went into the Market District.

I kept close to Macon as we pushed through the crowds. Soon we came to the security checkpoint, manned by a T300 android.

“State your names and business,” the robotic voice asked.

Crap, you couldn’t give a fake name here. These droids could do a mind scan if they thought you lied.

“This is Dasha, and I’m Gen.” Macon smiled. “We’re here to retrieve the other half of her engagement band. Her father gave me his blessing, now we must get her mother’s.” He held up a golden clasp.

My heart leapt into my throat. Oh. My. Stars. He had my actual band. The familiar looping roses and vines, glittered beneath the violet lighting. Did dad really give it to him?

The android, glanced at the jewelry then at us. After a moment, he waved us through. No questions asked. I suppose it had to do with a lot of couples coming to Karman 5 to tie the knot. The space version of Las Vegas.

“Where are you supposed to find Cestia?” Macon said.

“Near the Golden Net.”

“Follow me, it’s on the other side of the alley.” He clutched my hand.

“How exactly did you get my band?” I glanced at him.

He grinned. “Uh—your dad gave it to me about six months ago. Believe it or not, he’d been meaning to introduce us.”

“So we’re intended?” My cheeks went hot.

He gave my fingers a squeeze. “Is that a bad thing?”

“N—no.”

At last, I spotted the Golden Net, hanging from the ceiling, overlooking the space docks. And there, perched on top of it, was Cestia. Even from here her new golden shell and blonde hair glittered. As if sensing me, she turned toward me.

I wanted to rush to her, but I couldn’t make a scene.

“Cestia,” I said, stopped in front of her.

Her lips turned up in a smile, revealing her golden, metallic teeth. “Dear One, you’ve come.”

Tears burned my eyes. “Yes.”

“Then your father has passed?”

“He has.”

“And you’ve brought the microtube with you?” She looked at Macon over my head as if sizing him up.

“It’s here.” I slipped it from the sleeve of my robe and leaned in as if to hug her. I heard a small pop, and the grind of gears as the slot in her back opened up.

“Go ahead, Dasha, insert the microtube. It’s time.”

“But it’ll kill you.”

“And I’m ready to die. It’s what I was created for.”

“But I’ll be alone.”

Her metal hand rubbed my hair. “Nonsense. Macon will take care of you. In fact,” she pulled back, and grabbed something from her white purse and closed my hand around it. “This is for you. Your father and I both approve.”

I glanced down to find the other half of my engagement band. Macon moved behind me, placing his palm at the small of my back. “Melark’s guards are on the move. We need to hurry.”

Cestia touched my face. “Be safe, Dear One. Please, insert the microtube—then get out of here as quick as you can.”

“Is Melark here?”

This time she grinned. “Oh yes, I made sure of it.”

I swallowed hard and shoved the tube into her back. With one last hug, I turned away. Cestia was a walking time bomb. Literally. We had thirty minutes before she ignited this whole place.

Macon jerked me down the corridor and back toward the ship. My pulse sped out of control as we made it through the security checkpoints unscathed.

“Jenson, get this ship in the air. We’re on a time crunch.” Macon plopped back in his seat then reached across the aisle. He took my piece of the engagement band from me and secured it to my wrist, along with the section he had from my dad. “Cestia is right, Dasha, you won’t ever be alone. Your father intended you for me, and I plan to honor that.”

I brought his hand to my lips. “Thank you.”

As our ship jumped to hyperspace, I knew things would be okay. Melark’s reign of terror was over.  And the Uprising would continue to protect its people. Cestia and Dad’s sacrifices would not be in vain.

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Traci Kenworth

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Gingerkrick from wikimedia commons

 

We ducked behind the twisted metal of what was left of an old station wagon. Ace grabbed my hand, jerking me toward the alley.

 “Come on Rina, you need to move, now.” He shoved me into the shadows right as flares erupted overhead, lighting the whole street.

 “There’s nowhere to hide. They’ll find us.” I swallowed hard. Today was Blood’s Day. A day we were forced to celebrate and give to those who’d allowed us to live.

 It’d been seven years since the world had been punished—nearly obliterated. Or so the Grand Mayor said. But I didn’t remember anything, other than the moment Ace found me six years ago. Everything before that was lost. I had no family. No home. Nothing. Hell, I didn’t even remember my own name. So Ace gave me one. Rina.

 Screams echoed off the crumbled buildings as people ran, trying to hide from the soldiers. No one ever came to this side of town, until they needed something. Or rather, someone. We all knew what they came for and none of us wanted to give it willingly.

 “Damn it, Rina, move your ass.” Ace ducked inside the remnants of the cinema. His grip on my arm tightened as we dove behind the rows of dilapidated cinema seats.

 Dust kicked up like we’d been sucked inside a vacuum, and the loud whir of helicopter blades sounded from above.

 Bright light exploded. I covered my face to shield my eyes. But it was too late. A man repelled down a rope, snagging hold of me.

 “Ace,” I screamed. The last thing I saw were his startled blue eyes as I was ripped into the air. “Let me go.” My foot connected with my captor’s shin, but he held tight like a coiled snake constricting its victim.

 “Stop thrashing or I’ll drop you right here.” The soldier warned.

 The chopper carried us a short distance, where a wooden platform stood erected near several white tents. Fear ensnared me like a giant bear trap. This was it. We landed several feet from the stage and two armed guards immediately met me.

 They ushered me under one of the canopies.

 “Let’s get you cleaned up, shall we?” a woman with white cotton ball like hair said. “Such an honor to be chosen.”

 My jaw clenched. “Chosen? I wasn’t chosen, I was stolen. I don’t want to do this.”

“Come now. We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

 Then maybe you should go in my place you rich piece of crap. The words rolled around my thoughts like marbles.

 The guards raised their guns. I closed my eyes, sucked in a deep breath, and followed the woman. She showed me to a steaming wooden tub.

 “Get those grimy clothes off and I’ll have Greta come give you a good washing. We don’t have much time, it’s nearly midnight.”

 My fingers trembled as I unbuttoned the baggy shirt and tight pants, they fell to the floor in a heap. Hands shoved me from behind, until I stumbled into the scalding water. It burned my skin and I yelped.

 “Sit down,” another woman, Greta, I think, said. “Can’t having you look like vermin in front of the Gods.”

 I wanted to tell her to go to hell and to take her fake Gods with her. Every year the Grand Mayor ordered young women to be taken from the city and brought here. He made a celebration of death, while everyone cheered and partied and carried on as if this was a joke. And every year, the Gods ignored the gifts—we still suffered and the Grand Mayor still controlled everything. Well, everything but the Labyrinth.

 Strong hands forced me down, dunking me under the fiery hot liquid. I couldn’t breathe. She’s drowning me. My lungs burned. Bubbles rippled in my vision.

 At last she jerked me upward, scrubbing at my head, face, and back with a thick brush. Tears ran down my cheeks as the bristles dug into my skin. Any moment now, I expected to see my flesh come away or spatterings of blood in the tub.

 “Hurry Greta, they’re almost ready,” the other woman called.

 Arms the size of tree branches hefted me from the bath and rubbed me dry. “Here, put this on.”

 I was handed a long white robe. My stomach churned. I reached forward to steady myself on a nearby chair. The Blood’s Day girls always wore white. So the whole village could see us bleed.

 Trumpets sang in the distance and cheers from the plaza nearly deafened me.

 “Ah, so here is our little flower.” The Grand Mayor parted the flaps of the tent; his beady eyes rested on my legs, which were visible beneath the sheer fabric of the robe. “You should hold your head high this day.”

 He reached a meaty paw out to caress my face.

 “Burn. In. Hell.” I spat.

 His eyes narrowed. “Take her to the Labyrinth’s center.”

 Guards dragged me forward, the stones scraping my legs as I fought to free myself. When the spectators saw me, they cheered louder—whooping and hollering. My gaze drifted over the gathered crowd. Mothers held tight to their daughters, relief flooding their features, for their children were safe for another year.

 “Rina!”

 My head snapped up. Ace pushed his way through the throng of people. Shaggy dark hair fell across his forehead nearly hiding the piercing blue eyes I’d grown so accustomed to. Even with dirt smudged across his face, he was perfect. Strong. Beautiful. And I’d never get the chance to tell him.

 “Ace.” My fingers brushed his before the guards pinned him to the ground, keeping him from me. My throat thickened with emotion. Sorrow washed over me. I love you. And I’d die to keep you safe.

 Two other girls were rushed through the center of the chaos both adorned in white, like me. One cried, clutching tight to a gold chain at her neck. The other marched forward on her own, no resistance at all as if she was proud to give herself over to this madness.

 We were ushered to the middle of the Labyrinth like stones. The Grand Mayor tapped on a microphone, taking his place at the raised podium.

 “Good people of New Virginia Beach. Today is a special day for us. A day we celebrate and offer blood unto the gods. We ask only for their continued blessings. And for the opening of the powerful Labyrinth, which will grant us what it is we seek.”

 Three of the guards stepped toward us each armed with a ceremonial dagger.

 “Which of our Blood Girls offers first blood?” The Grand Mayor’s toothy grin reminded me of a hungry monster.

 “Me,” the proud girl said.

 “Very well.” He gestured for the soldier to proceed.

 I turned my head, but as the crowd quieted I heard the first slice of flesh then felt the spray of blood on my own skin. My stomach rolled, but the onlookers hollered their approval.

 “Thank you for your sacrifice Milicent Wendell,” the Grand Mayor said. “But she is not the one. Next girl please.”

 The girl with the necklace shrieked even before the knife made contact. I have to get out of here. I can’t die, not like this. Help me. Please.

 More agonizing yelps sounded, drowning out all other noises. My heart pounded and I kicked out my legs, knocking one of the guards to the ground. It was fight or die. My mouth clamped down on my captor’s arm. He released me and I leapt over the bodies of the fallen girls, blood already pooling around the Labyrinth like tiny rivers.

 Crimson fluid splashed against my legs as I tried to run.

 “Rina, now is the time to remember,” Ace shouted. He shoved aside the armed soldier who’d held him at bay only moments ago. With a sickening crack, he broke the guys neck.

 Remember what?

 “Remember us.” Voices sprung up from the stones beneath my feet. “Come home my daughter.”

 The ground rumbled causing people to fall to their knees. The moon turned red, casting scarlet shadows on the surrounding buildings and faces At last, Ace reached my side, clutching me tight. The Labyrinth sprung up around us. Air whooshed and thunder boomed. Painful howls and shrieks spiraled from outside our protective wall.

 “What’s happening?” I clung to Ace, burying my face against him.

 “You’re going home, Goddess. You’re job here is done.” Ace’s dirty rags fell away to reveal bronze armor beneath. He clutched a sword in his hand. “The people have been punished. And after the Grand Mayor’s death today, no one shall be sacrificed again.”

 “Goddess?” I whispered. Then I remembered all.

 The light. My arrival to Earth. The battles. The deaths. And now, it was over. I could go home. Ace held tight to my hand and we stepped into the light.

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Vanessa Barger

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!

 

Photo Credit V Barger

 
 
 

I hurried to the front gate, practically dragging my grandma.

“Alice, slow down.” She chuckled, attempting to refold the map of the Tower of London.  “Why don’t you run along and see if you can make some of the tours.”

I frowned. Her poofy white hair looked like someone pulled apart a cotton ball and taped it to her head. “I’m not gonna leave you here by yourself.”

“I’ll be fine. Besides, all this walking made me thirsty. I want to sit in the shade and relax. Now go.”  She swatted me with her folded umbrella.  “I’m sure Elizabeth will be along shortly. Her reenactment group was supposed to be done by one o’clock.”

With a grin, I rushed through the crowd. Tendrils of blonde hair tickled my cheek as the winds picked up. An array of foreign accents swept through the throngs of people. Camera’s flashed as tourists posed in front of the gate. I slowed my pace, not wanting to appear too eager.

My gaze flashed to the White Tower. All summer I’d dreamt of coming here. Grandma had booked the trip to London as a graduation present. She said I needed to have one last “hurrah” before I left for the University of Michigan in the fall. Although, I had my suspicions she was trying to hook me up with some British guy. For an old lady, she seemed pretty obsessed with Prince William. If I had to hear about his “manly physique” one more time…

Oomph.  I crashed into a sturdy frame.

“I’m so sorry.” I glanced up to see a tall, dark haired guy staring down at me. His blue eyes were startling. Like a cold shock of ice on a hot summer day.

He seemed surprised and looked over my shoulder, then in a British accent said, “Are you speaking to me?”

My face burned. “Um—yeah. I didn’t mean to run into you.  I was in a hurry.”

He smiled. It was then that I noticed the old-fashioned garb. He wore breeches, tucked into high leather boots, and a white flowy tunic, with an embroidered navy colored waistcoat.

“Pardon my manners.” He took my hand and brought it to his lips. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Lord Edmond Fuller.”

My pulse quickened at the touch of his mouth to my skin. “Alice.”

“Perhaps, you’ll allow me to show you around today?” He laced my arm through his.

“I’d like that.” Oh. My. God. Grandma would so freak out if she saw me with this guy. Not only was he hot, but he had an accent. A very smoldering accent.

Okay. Stay focused. Don’t act like an idiot.

We walked toward the Tower Green, where two men were dressed in black and red outfits, complete with large hats.

Edmond steered me past the ancient structures and crowds. He pointed out the different buildings, giving me a brief history. It was like my very own tour guide. We chatted about London and the weather and about soccer. The conversation just seemed to flow, like we’d been friends since childhood.

“Do you mind if I have someone take our picture?” I asked when we stopped in front of Tower Gate.

“Not at all.” His fingers brushed mine as he released my arm. Tingles trailed from my toes to the top of my head, my heart beat out of control. For a moment, I thought I might explode. Down hormones.

I stopped a nearby couple to ask if they’d snap the shot. Edmond and I posed together, his arms wrapped about my waist. This feels right. When they finished, I put the camera back in its case and turned to him.

“Thanks for showing me around today. I had fun.” Please ask me for my number. Or kiss me. Or cop a feel. Something.

“My pleasure.” He bowed, giving me a lopsided grin. “How long are you in London for?”

“Another week. My grandma and I are staying a few blocks from Kensington Palace.”

“Only a week?” he said, half to himself. His smile slipped away and he stared at the dark clouds. “Well, Alice, I shouldn’t keep you any longer. It seems like you’re being paged.”

He pointed at Grandma who hobbled toward us.

I moved to her side and when I turned back around Edmond was gone.

“Who was the nice looking young man? You got a hot date?” She winked.

I fanned my face. “No.”

“Tell me you at least got his number!” Grandma Pearl swatted me with her umbrella when I shook my head no.

“I didn’t have time. And now I’ll likely never see him again.” How could I be so stupid? Here I’d just had the perfect day, with the perfect guy and I had no way to get a hold of him again.

Thunder boomed overhead and large drops of rain spattered against my face. Grandma snapped her umbrella open and tugged me beneath it. “He probably works here. We can come back tomorrow and ask for him.”

“But what if he doesn’t want to see me again? I mean, he might think I’m some weird stalker or something.”

She snickered. “As your generation likes to say, you my girl need to grow some.” She gestured at her private parts.

“Grandma, really?”

“You never know when you might meet your Mr. Right. Do you want to chance missing out on it?”

Truth was, I didn’t. But what was the point? I was from the US and although Grandma made frequent trips here to see her friend Elizabeth, I was about to start school. Not to mention being separated by an ocean might put a damper on things like a long distance relationship.

***

I tossed and turned most of the night. All I could think about was Edmond. His smile. His eyes. The way he held my hand. And obviously, I was turning into Grandma with my obsessions. I slurped up the last bite of oatmeal and shoved my bowl aside.

 I have to go find him. Today.

“So, are we making a trip back to the Tower?” Grandma glanced at me over her newspaper.

“Yes. I have to.”

“Then let’s go.”

I wiped my clammy hands on my pants as we approached the gate. With Grandma close behind, I found the closest employee.  “Excuse me, I wondered if you could tell me if Edmond Fuller was working today?”

The lady gave me a dirty look. “Is this a joke?”

“Um—no.”

“Lord Edmond Fuller died in the 1700’s.”  Her eyes narrowed as she walked away, muttering something about stupid tourists.

Shit. This was insane. Maybe I’d dreamt the whole day up. I jerked my camera from its case and scrolled through the pictures. When I came to the photo I wanted, I stopped. He was there. No ghostly see through images. No smoky tendrils. He was a solid human being.

“This doesn’t make sense.”

Grandma leaned closer, gasped, then started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” God, you’d think she’d be more sympathetic when it came to my love life.

“Nothing. Why don’t you let me use your phone so I can call Elizabeth to meet us for lunch. I bet, between the three of us, we can come up with a plan to find your young man.”

“Just face it, Grandma, it’s hopeless. Besides, he gave me a fake name. He didn’t want me to find him.”

****

An hour later we stood in front of the Goat Tavern, waiting for Elizabeth. Traffic buzzed by, while people streamed in and out of shops.

“There she is!” Grandma dragged me toward the curb, where a taxi stopped.

A short, grayed haired woman climbed out. Her black coat unbuttoned.

“Pearl, Alice, so good to see you. I hope you don’t mind, but I brought my grandson Oliver along.” She smiled at Grandma.

I gasped as my “Edmond Fuller” slid from the taxi.

“Alice?” He seemed as stunned as I was. “I didn’t think I’d see you again.”

“I went back to find you today, but you gave me a fake name…”

He blushed. “Sorry about that. I was helping Gram’s reenactment group yesterday. We have to stay in character. And then I had to leave before I could give you my real name or get your last name.  I started to call the local hotels to look for you, but realized I only had your first name.”

I stared into his eyes as he took my hand.

“Luckily, I recognized him in the picture,” Grandma said beside us. “Elizabeth has been bugging me for ages to introduce the two of you. But it looks like you’ve done all right on your own.”

“Maybe I ought to give you another tour.” Oliver smiled. “My flat isn’t too far from here.”

“Oliver Russell!”

“I’m kidding Grandma.” His fingers traced my cheek. “How about lunch?”

“I’d love to.” I didn’t know how things would work out, but I knew fate had intervened.

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

Kit Forbes

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!

 

Photo Credit:  Stage 11 by Clarita

The magician swooped across the stage, his cape billowing behind him.  His dark eyes scanned the crowd.  Locks of raven colored hair swept across his forehead as he focused on me and Natasha.  Why did he seem so familiar to me?

“For my next trick, I need a volunteer from the crowd.”  His melodic voice danced over my skin, causing goose bumps.

Natasha flipped her long, chestnut hair over her shoulder and smiled at me.  “Come on, Claire raise your hand.  He’s so, freaking hot!”

I clenched tight to the edge of the table, my stomach churning.  My blood felt as if it were on fire.  The way he’d watched us all night made me dizzy.  The Great Kalif, magician and illusionist.  He couldn’t be much older than me at seventeen.  If only I could remember where I’d seen him before.

“Claire.”  Natasha jerked on my arm.  “Either you volunteer or I will.”

My gaze narrowed.  “No.  I’m not going up there. You know I hate crowds.”

Her crimson lips turned up into a wicked smile.  “Then don’t be pissed when I snag him.”

My hands fisted at my side.  Why am I so jealous?

“Come on, there must be one brave soul.”  Kalif sauntered to the edge of the stage, his eyes once more on our table.

I squirmed under his scrutiny and ducked my head, right as Natasha jumped to her feet and said, “I’ll do it.”

He grinned, then held out his hand as she pushed her way to the front of the stage.  Once there, he helped her up the stairs and to a black chair. 

Already, wisps of fog rolled across the room, while strobes pulsed with a rainbow of color.

“What is your name?” Kalif asked in a thick accent.

“Natasha.”

“Natasha, that’s lovely.”  He pressed her down onto the chair, then turned back to the crowd.  “Now, if you’ll focus up here.  You’ll witness the most horrific of illusions.  But I assure you, it is all in your head. Or is it?”

I swallowed hard.  Something wasn’t right.  The idle chatter faded as people in the room faced forward. Eerie music tinkled through the loud speakers and everyone around me sat straighter, eyes focused intently on the stage.

“Yes, that’s it.  Watch the show.”  Kalif’s white teeth beamed against his tanned skin.  He raised a hand and ran it along Natasha’s shoulder.  “Relax.  You won’t feel a thing.”

A content smile formed on her lips.  Then came the glint of a blade.  His arms moved quicker, bringing the knife across her skin several times.  Blood sprayed across the floor.  Tattered fabric from her shirt littered the stage like confetti.  Natasha screamed, but no one moved.

Oh God, this was real.  Frightened, I leapt to my feet.  “Stop!”

Just then something warm spattered my face.  I raised a shaking hand.  My fingers trembled as I stared at the crimson liquid. No.  This wasn’t happening.

I stumbled backward, covering my ears against the shrieks.  Why was everyone so still?

A breeze swirled around me and I jerked back as a black wing blocked my vision.  “Please, let me go.”

“But I can’t.”  Kalif appeared in front of me.  Large ebony colored wings protruded from his back, his suit ripped away.  “I’ve come for you, my dear Claire.”

“I—I don’t understand.”  My heart pounded in my ears.

“I think you do.”  He ran his fingers through my long blonde hair.  “You and I are always at odds.  Dark vs Light.  But I’m tired of the games.  I want to be with you.  Why must you fight this?”

My throat thickened.  “Because I don’t want to die.”

“You don’t have to.  Your friend offered herself up freely in your place.”

My eyes widened.  “No.  You can’t have her.”

“Then give me something else.”

His skin was warm against mine as he traced my cheek.  How had I forgotten about him?  I’d spent centuries hiding from the Dark Prince, yet he’d found me, just like he always did.  Every century he descended upon me.  He’d utter sweet words, tempting me.  And each time I’d run away only to find death and madness. 

“Bring her back to life.”

“It will cost you.”  Kalif stepped back.

“You can have whatever you want.  Just please, save her.”

“Anything, I want?”

“Yes.”

“No tricks this time?”

“I promise.”  No sooner had I said the words when I felt a strange burning beneath my skin.

“Then I chose you.  From this day forward, you are bound to me.”

He waved his hand and I watched the cuts on Natasha close. All traces of blood on the stage disappeared.  She gasped, staring around the room.  Her gaze met mine.

“Claire, what have you done?” she whispered.

“Saved you.”  I gave her a sad smile.

Kalif wrapped his arms around me, cocooning me in the folds of his wings.  Already, I felt the shadows embracing me.  White feathers fell from beneath my sweater as the light slipped away.

“I love you, Claire.  I always have.”  His lips captured mine.

For years, I’d fought against my yearnings.  But to no avail. I wanted to be good. I wanted to share my light. But it’d always been Kalif for me, even when the Council threatened to take my wings.  For too long, I’d let them rule me and decide my fate.  How many times had I been sacrificed in order to punish Kalif?  No more would I allow it. Today, I’d done one last good deed.  I’d saved Natasha.  And now, I was through fighting.

“I love you, too,” I said.  My arms encircled his neck.

“Nothing will keep us apart again.”

Thunder rumbled from above, but I’d made my choice.  I chose love.

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!

A strong hand shook me awake, and I glanced up to see my sister leaning over me.  “Kendall, listen, you’ve got to get out of here, now.”

Her bright blue eyes pierced mine as she tugged me out of bed.

“Shit.  What’s your problem?”  I glanced at my alarm clock.  “It’s two in the morning, Paige.”

My older sister knelt next to me.  “If you don’t leave, they’re going to kill you.”

Blonde hair cascaded into my face as I let her pull me to my feet.  “Who’s going to kill me?”

“Listen, the Federation stopped here earlier.  I heard them talking to Mom about you.”

My throat went dry.  The Federation.  Crap.  They’d been trying to recruit me since I was thirteen.  But my being underage had kept them from touching me, from using me in their games.

But now, at seventeen, I was legal. 

Paige jerked my duffel bag out from underneath my bed and shoved some of my clothes in it.  Then she turned to her dresser and pulled a wad of bills from her purse.

“What did Mom say?”  I met her gaze as she shoved the money into my hand.

“I told them they could have you, if they promised to leave your sisters alone.”  Mom flicked on our bedroom light.  She refused to meet my eye.  “It was either I send one of you, or lose all of you.”

Two grizzled men pushed past my screaming sister and gripped hold of my arm, dragging me toward the door.

“Stop.  Please!”  They covered my mouth with a gag and tied my hands behind my back.

People taken to the Federation, never came back.  At least not alive.  What had mother done? 

Tears burned my eyes as I watched Paige’s grief stricken face disappear from sight.  Then everything went black.

***

I struggled to open my eyes as my arms brushed against the coolstone walls behind me.  But when my lids fluttered opened, I noticed I was in a tunnel. 

Tiny red lights flickered along the ceiling and I knew the cameras watched my every move, broadcasting it for the sick fucks who bet on people like me making it through the Labyrinth.

High pitched alarms blared in the distance.  The games had begun.  Too bad they didn’t know who the hell they were messing with.  With a smile, I wiped the make-up from my neck.  My tattoo blazed in the darkness.  Flames licked at my fingertips as my magic shot forth.  I rushed forward where a shower of bullets came at me from a lone sniper in the corner.

I rolled to the ground, creating a shield around myself.  The ammunition fell to the floor in front of me. 

“My turn.”  Heat licked at my body as I thrust fiery orbs at the gunman.  He screamed as his flesh burnt on contact.  I wrinkled my nose against the scent of his charcoaled body.

“Shut down the Labyrinth,” a frightened voice came over the intercom.

I laughed.  “Too late.  The Federation is going down.  You really should do better background checks before you recruit people.”

Smoke filled the Labyrinth as I went path by path, taking out the workers who’d aided in killing people for fun.  All so they could place bets and watch our fear on TV.  Tonight, they’d get their fill.

When I came to the end of the maze, I kicked opened the door.  A helicopter loomed overhead, its spotlight focused on me.  “I don’t even think so.”

With a flick of my finger, I sent a fireball right for the gas tank.  I dove to the side as it exploded mid air, in a shower of hot metal and body parts.  I slipped into the shadows and raced towardNickletreePark. 

There, I found Paige waiting for me, a slow smile upon her lips.  “I knew you’d do it.”

I hugged her tight.  “Did you make the bets?”

“Oh yeah.  The monies already in the account.”

“And Mom?”

“Taken care of.  She’ll never betray us again.”  Paige grabbed my hand and jerked me to our getaway car. 

At last, we were free.  Free of our mother who’d sold us for various things over the years.  But most of all free from the Federation.  Never again would I have to hide my powers or be afraid of the dark.  No.  I was the one to be feared.   

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

Joey

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I totally dropped the ball today (ahhh). I was supposed to have my YAFF MUSE short story up, and well, I got busy and forgot to write it (gulp). Yeah, I know (LOL). So instead I decided to share a little snippet of my current MS I’m working on, which is a YA Fantasy/Horror.  I’m almost ½ way through writing it and am TOTALLY GEEKED.

 

This is a first draft, so keep that in mind when you’re reading it.  Even my crit group hasn’t seen this small section yet (hehehe). 

 

This wasn’t happening.  I needed to save him. 

Claws swiped the air in front of me, raking across his chest.  Blood spurted from the wound, his agonizing shrieks for help echoing in my mind.  Something warm sprayed my face.

Shaking, I raised a hand to touch it.  Panic coursed through me as I stared at the crimson fluid painting my fingers.

“Leave him alone!  He’s done nothing.”

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!

 

PHOTO CREDIT: IMGo796xe by Ardelfin

 

I shivered against the crisp October air, as Ian tugged me toward the park. There in big, bold letters was a sign that read CLOSED. I came to a halt. Not that I was a chicken-shit or anything, but some rules weren’t meant to be broken.

“Come on, Love. We’re only going to the park,” Ian said. His ever adorable British accent would never get old.

He released my hand, staring down at me with stormy gray eyes. His shaggy auburn hair fell across his eyes and he did a quick flip of his head to get it back in place. Ian traced my cheek; his fingers cool against my skin.

“But the sign says they’re closed.” But it wasn’t the only thing that unnerved me. Gram had one strict rule in our house. No going into the park. Ever.

“Lena.” His lips met mine in a small, enticing kiss. “I promise all I want to do is go to the fountain and toss in some coins.” He smiled.

My pulse quickened. I swallowed the lump in my throat, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. He didn’t know my parents were murdered in the park. Ten years ago, today. I’d been six years old, which seemed almost a lifetime ago. But it was time to face my fears. To go back.

“Fine. But we have to make it quick.” I fingered the pentagram necklace at my throat. It felt like fire against my hand. I stiffened.

Ian’s fingers entwined with mine and he led me toward some loose rungs in the gate. We squeezed through. Dead leaves littered the cement walkway, skittering at our feet as the wind picked up. The scent of autumn heavy in the air.

Chills snaked up my back and across my skin. I shouldn’t be here. But before I could change my mind, Ian looped his arm through mine and ushered me toward the fountain. Three stone figures stood in the middle of the fountain. Cold rock cloaks covered the gothic trio as water whispered around their feet.

Ian reached into his pocket, coins jingling in his hand. “Here, you make a wish first.” He clasped my hand.

Something sharp scraped against my palm. “Ow.”

He closed his hand over my fist and the coins. “Throw them in.”

I hesitated as I watched the strange gleam in his eye.

No. Don’t do it

. A voice called in my mind.

My eyes widened. I knew that voice. It belonged to my mom. I took a step away from the fountain, but Ian clutched me tight forcing me to drop the coins into the water.

Wisps of fog swirled around the statues; the water bubbled and boiled as if it was a cauldron hanging over a hearth.

“What have you done?” I shrieked.

But Ian only stared at the sculptures. The stone cloaks fell away from the statues heads. Then I saw her. My mother. And next to her was my dad.

“Lena, you have to stop this.” Mom’s eyes darted to the third and final statue. “Before the spell is completely broken.”

“Oh, Goddess.” Blood red hair burst with flames, eyes the color of hot coals sizzled with power. A fire demon.

Ian bowed before the demon. “Master, I’ve come to free you.”

“The hell you have.” I tore the dagger from my belt. “I Lena, light witch of the Goddess invoke the spirit of earth to bind the demon.” In one swift motion, I sliced my palm and dripped blood into the fountain’s water.

I turned to Ian, who glared at me. “You can’t stop this. The demon will be free.”

“No. She’ll destroy everything. Even you.” I knew I had to make the sacrifice, even as I stared at the tears in my mother’s eyes. She didn’t want this for me. But she’d already done her duty. Now it was my turn.

Without a second thought, I lunged at Ian with the blade, catching him in the arm. But it was enough. We both tumbled into the fountain.

“No.” Ian tried to stand, but I clung to him.

“Great towers, I invoke thee. Bind us and use us as instruments of your will. Earth, I invoke thee. Water, I invoke thee. Air, I invoke thee. Fire, I invoke thee.”

Power surged through my blood. A great light burst from the sky. The ground trembled beneath our feet. The shriek of the demon was the last thing I heard as me, Ian, and the demon were turned into stone.

It was my turn to guard the demon and her subject. Like my mother and father before me.

 

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Kit Forbes

Jenn Fischetto

Joey Nichols

Miranda Buchanan

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

 

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