New Book || May 31, 2016 || Magic & Models

"Welcome to Sortilege Falls" by Libby HeilyWelcome to Sortilege Falls

by Libby Heily

Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather would never have agreed to move to Sortilege Falls had she known that a group of teen models ruled the town. Their beauty is only outshone by their cruelty. Grape knows something isn’t right about the models. They are too perfect, too beautiful, and not at all natural, but even she isn’t immune to their allure. Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends Grape.

That’s when the trouble truly begins.

Mandy’s friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that their parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her friend, Grape will have to find the truth—even if it means putting herself in danger.

BUY THE BOOK
Amazon Kindle
Smashwords
Nook
iBooks
Kobo
Print

~ Add to Goodreads Shelf ~


Excerpt

 

“What are you wearing?” a snotty voice asked Grape.

Grape’s entire body stiffened as she looked up from her phone. Five of the most beautiful people to ever walk the earth stood scattered around two Porsches. Did I walk into a photo shoot?

“I mean, gross.”

The words came from an impossibly beautiful girl. Loose, raven-black locks fell over her shoulders, the tips lingering above her full bosom. Grape could almost hear the sizzle and static of her electric blue eyes. The sun had kissed the girl’s skin lightly, leaving a glow that made the air around her shimmer. Her pouty, pink, full lips begged to be kissed, though the guy standing behind her, his arm draped over her shoulder protectively, warned off all who would be so bold.

The boy behind her, if anything, was even more handsome than she was beautiful. Muscle stacked upon muscle until his clothes had no choice but to hug every inch of his body. His dark eyebrows and strong jaw lent him a tough look, one that was backed up by the playful anger in his eyes.

The raven-haired goddess turned and embraced her beau, her face tucked away into the heat of his chest. He sat propped up on the hood of a yellow Porsche, the sleek lines of the car offset by the disdain on his face. They were so incredibly, delightfully gorgeous that even though he looked as if he had seen a cockroach instead of a human being, Grape’s heart still melted at the sight of them.

“I think she’s in love.”

Grape snapped her gaze away from the Adonis with the nasty temperament and turned toward the twin boys standing in front of a black Porsche. Her eyes bounced between the two, taking in every perfect feature. Flawless, rich, dark brown skin. Sparkling hazel eyes. Muscles so tight that you could bounce a quarter off their abs, or arms, or anywhere on their bodies, really. They looked as perfectly engineered as the cars they stood by. But it was their lusciously long eyelashes that sent Grape swooning. Men were not meant to be this pretty.

“Leave her alone, guys.”

Grape’s head spun. Each person she saw was more beautiful than the last, and the redheaded girl standing off to the side was no exception. The baggy jeans and generic T-shirt she wore did not detract from her creamy skin and full lips. Her large brown eyes fascinated Grape—red flakes glimmered from inside each caramel-colored orb.

The air felt charged with a million volts. Her thinking grew cloudy. Were these angels? Was she daydreaming? How did anyone get to be this beautiful? She could sense their hostility, but something inside her felt warm and gooey. Snap to, Grape, she told herself. They want to hurt you.

“Awww, look. It likes us,” the twin with the goatee said. The clean-shaven twin’s face softened. Was that pity she saw in his hazel eyes?

“Stop being mean,” the redhead said, sounding more bored than angry.

“I’m not being mean. Where’d you buy that shirt?” Goatee asked. His quiet tone was laced with thorny edges.

Grape swallowed hard. The fuzz inside her head abated. Focus, she told herself, feeling like an idiot. “I don’t know. Kohl’s maybe.” She glanced down at her blouse. The shirt was a birthday present from her mother, and she wasn’t sure where it came from, but since her mother did most of her own shopping at Kohl’s, it seemed like a pretty safe guess.

Goatee turned toward his brother and smiled. “Pay up.”

Clean-Shaven shook his head at her as if she’d named the wrong store on purpose. He pulled a thick wad of cash from his pocket, peeled off a twenty, and handed it to Goatee. “I was sure it came from Kmart.”

“Why does it matter where I bought my shirt?”

The raven-haired girl glanced out from her hiding place in her boyfriend’s embrace. “It just looked familiar. I wore the same shirt. Three years ago.” She smiled, but there was no kindness when she bared her teeth. “Before it was a knockoff.” The girl hid her face against her boyfriend’s pecs. Their chests rose and fell at the same time, breathing as one.

“Okay. Well, I don’t really buy designer clothes.” Grape wanted to have a witty comeback, but she still wasn’t sure where the insult lay. Did they or did they not like the shirt?

What the hell is wrong with me? Of course they’re making fun of me. Why aren’t I angrier?

“She means she modeled the design,” the redheaded girl said, cutting her eyes to the couple.

“You’re a model?”

The brothers snickered. “Pretending she doesn’t know who we are, that’s so cute. Is that the new fad amongst the Normals?” Clean-Shaven asked.

“I don’t understand anything you just said.” Grape felt completely out of her depth. This was the school parking lot, but she might as well have been on Jupiter.

The redhead took a step toward Grape, shooting a nasty glance to the others crowded around the cars. “Don’t worry about it. They’re just teasing.”

“I thought about modeling.” Grape hadn’t meant to say that, but no one else spoke, and she felt like she had to say something. Her skin grew hot. She knew she was blushing beyond red and into crimson mode. She’d practiced runway shows off and on in her bedroom since she was twelve, but she had never told anyone she wanted to be a model. Ever.

“Ow,” Grape cried, only then noticing that she had twisted her ring so hard it was actually cutting into her finger. A tiny drop of blood oozed out and fell to the pavement below.

“Aren’t you a little fat to be a model?” the boyfriend asked. His voice sounded like pure honey even when he spoke acid.

“You think I’m fat?” Grape stared down at her flat tummy. No one had ever called her fat before. There was still a bit of room in the waistband of her size four skirt.

“I’m just saying you could stand to lose a few pounds, unless you want the runway to collapse.”

“Ouch, Adam.” Clean-Shaven punched the boyfriend playfully on the arm.

Goatee winked at Adam. “My boy calls it like he sees it, and he sees a chunky monkey.”

“I’m well within my weight range.” She could feel her voice growing high-pitched. Damn nerves. These people were jerks.

“Of course you are, you look great,” the redhead told her. “These guys just don’t how to joke around without being completely mean.”

“We aren’t joking,” Adam said, giving his girlfriend a quick kiss on the top of her head.

Goatee pulled out his car keys. He turned his back on Grape, tired of their new toy.

“Whatever. Class is about to start. Are we skipping or staying?”

“Skipping,” the raven-haired girl peeked out to say.

Adam looked Grape over and made a face as if he’d smelled something terrible. “Yeah, I think I’m done for the day, too. I feel the need to hit the gym.”

She rubbed her hands over her stomach but it still felt flat like normal. What were they seeing that she wasn’t?

“The shirt looks nice on you,” Clean-Shaven said before climbing into the driver’s seat of the black Porsche.

“Like a muumuu on a water buffalo,” Goatee added and hopped into the driver’s seat of the yellow Porsche. The couple got into the back of his car and huddled close together.

“Mandy, you coming?” Goatee asked.

“No, I have a test,” Mandy, the redhead, said. “I’ll see you later.”

“Suit yourself.”

Grape waved stupidly at the drivers as the engines revved. You look like a goober, she told herself, but she could not stop waving.

“Move.” Mandy grabbed Grape by the arm and pulled her toward the sidewalk.

Grape tried to shake her arm free, but Mandy’s grip was surprisingly strong. “Let go of me.”

Mandy stared at her with an I-told-you-so look as the Porsches sped off, right through where Grape had been standing.

“Oh my God, were they going to run me over?”

“Not on purpose. I’m sure they just forgot you were there once they started their cars.”

“How?”

Mandy shook her head. She stared after the Porsches as they pulled into traffic and sped away. Finally, she turned back to Grape and offered her an apologetic smile. “Sorry about that.”

“Which part?”

“All of it, I guess.”

New Books || January 30, 2016 || Surf Shop Sisters

"Double Take" by Laura KennedySurf Shop Sisters

Coral Cove #1

by Laura Kennedy

I guess everyone wants something in life. It was easy figuring out what each of my BFFs wanted the beginning of our Junior Year at Coral Cove High. For brainy Sudsy it was to get skinny; for upwardly mobile Tamara to get more stuff, and problem child Maria to be treated like she was older than ten.

Who knew that bigger problems lurked in the swampy bayous of Coral Cove, like redheaded Paris Breck, threatening to take me, Brooke Bentley, down like a clump of stinky seaweed in the Gulf of Mexico.

* NOTE: The Coral Cove series consists of standalone novels following the life of Brooke Bentley. The books can be read in any order.


Buy  Now
Amazon | Nook | Smashwords | Print

Add to Goodreads Shelf


Read the first chapter below!

Chapter One

I guess everyone wants something. It was easy figuring out what each of my three BFFs wanted at the beginning of our Junior Year at Coral Cove High. For brainy Sudsy, it was to get skinny and have a boyfriend; for gorgeous Maria, to have her parents treat her like she was older than ten; for upwardly mobile Tamara, to get more stuff.

When it came to me, all I wanted was to be taken more seriously. For some reason when you’re reasonably cute, no one thinks you’re very smart. Other than geometry, my grades were okay, so why was I always getting the dumb, almost-blonde treatment?

Who’d have guessed bigger problems were lurking around the bayous of Coral Cove in the form of my soon-to-be nemesis Paris Breck? But first I have to tell you about Maria and how I always seemed to get tangled up in her problems, like a clump of stinky seaweed in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was a lazy Sunday morning and I’d just glided the Green Lady (my darling convertible) through the wrought iron gates of our Mediterranean onto the brick streets to my killer job at Surf’s Up. Top down, (the convertible’s, not mine), I was playing a rerun of my date with Tyler the night before, wondering if being forced to defend my virginity on a weekly basis was worth the hassle of having a boyfriend.

The reggae sound of The Expendables met me at the door. The Sisters, aka BFFs Sudsy, Tamara and Maria, didn’t seem to notice I was late. But instead of getting the evil eye from my old hippie boss, Dave, like you usually do from a grownup when you screw up, I got a sad, reassuring smile. The kind your parents give when you just broke your arm rollerblading.

I raced to a rack of bikinis and began to madly rearrange them, sneaking peeks at Sudsy and Tamara refolding a stack of Rip Curl T-shirts. Sudsy shot me a look from behind wire-rimmed Beatles glasses and shook her head. I was trying to figure out what she meant when Maria passed by carrying a box of sunblock. The crybaby of our group, tears from her big brown eyes threatened to spill down her cheeks like she was in a soap opera on Telemundo.

“What’s wrong with Maria?” I whispered to Sudsy.

“She’s bummed because her father told her she can’t go to Homecoming with Anthony,” Sudsy whispered back.

“So that’s a surprise?”

“No, but she just found out Anthony will be leaving for Army boot camp after Thanksgiving. Who knows what could happen to him?”

I glanced at Maria where she stood lining up amber bottles of sunblock and gave her a little wave. But instead of a smile, she just bit her Angelina Jolie look-a-like lip.

“Leave her alone,” Tamara advised. “She’s just going to have to deal with it.”

The morning flew by. In an attempt to pump swimwear sales, Dave coaxed me into a hot white Juicy Couture ruffled bikini (the killer suit I’d die for), to parade around the shop. I felt like an idiot, especially when two girls from school came in, but Dave was the boss.

Around one, Dave ordered a ham and pineapple pizza from Zeno’s Greek Pizza Parlor. We’d just finished devouring it when a well-dressed redhead and a skinny, youngish blonde sauntered in. Sporting Kate Spade, Prada, and real jewelry, they looked like they’d be good for a couple of hundred easy. The older one, who was around fifty, reminded me of an actress I’d seen on TV reruns.

“May I help you?” I asked.

A sneer crossed the redhead’s Pekinese face; the same kind of look you make when you’ve just spotted a big, fat cockroach.

“Tiffany wants to try on some suits. She’s a seven.”

“The sevens are on the rack against the wall,” I said, and with a wave herded them like a sheep dog to the back.

After a few minutes of mangling the merchandise, Tiffany held up a hot turquoise T-back. “What do you think, Mommy?”

She’s like thirty and still calls her mother Mommy? It was all I could do not to barf.

“Try it on. It’s cute.”

While Baby Cakes trotted off to the dressing room, I knocked myself out showing Mommy everything in the store. Twenty minutes later, BC reappeared with a sea foam green baby doll dress, two L-Spaces, and my to-die-for Juicy Couture bikini. She headed for the cash register, her mother trailing behind. Bingo!

“I’d kill for that suit,” I said. “It’s the hottest ever.” Mommy handed me her American Express card and I ran it through the machine. “Paris Breck, what a pretty name. Did anyone ever tell you that you’re an eponym?”

“I’m a what?” She raised one radically plucked brow.

“An eponym. When something’s named after a person it’s called an eponym. Of course, you’re named after a person and a city too.”

She looked annoyed. “Oh, really? How interesting.”

“It just happens to be one of my vocabulary words from last week.”

Dave high-fived me when they left. “Killer job, Brookesie. Have another piece of pizza.”

“No thanks. My ass is big enough as it is.”

“Your ass is perfect and you know it,” Sudsy said, whisking by with the broom. But for once I wasn’t worrying about the way I looked. I was worrying about Maria.

It wasn’t until things slowed down and the four of us took a break at the beat up picnic table out back that we were able to talk.

“Okay, Maria, what’s the scoop?” I asked.

“It’s the same old thing. My dad thinks Anthony’s too old and a sleezeball loser, so he won’t let me date him.”

Tamara wrinkled her perfectly sculptured nose. “But you do anyway, right?”

“Well, yes. But I hate sneaking around! I want to go to Homecoming and wear a pretty dress just like everyone else. It’s the least I can do before he’s shipped off to the Middle East.” A fat tear streamed down her face.

I patted her hand. As usual I felt all protective and mushy. Just like in pre-school when she’d screwed up the CD player and I took the blame. “Now, don’t worry, honey. We’ll figure out something.”

Sudsy slid a neatly typed sheet of paper to me across the table. “Well, while everyone’s ruminating, here’s your new vocabulary list.”

I looked down. “Monday. Masticate.”

“It means to chew,” Sudsy explained.

“Then why the hell not just say chew?” Tamara demanded. She was not in a good mood.

Sudsy adjusted her glasses. “Because any moron can say chew, T. That’s why.”

Tamara rolled her eyes. “Well, it sounds like something a lot more exciting than just eating.”

Sudsy and I giggled while Maria just looked bewildered.

“So why not say you’re going to the dance in a group and then just sleep over at my house?” I suggested.

The Sisters nodded.

A shadow of a smile crossed Maria’s face. “Do you think it will work?

“No problem. I’ll run it by my mother. I’m sure she’ll be okay with it.”

“See, Maria, all fixed,” I said. But as soon as the words left my lips I was left with a bad feeling in my stomach, like I’d just eaten a raw oyster in a month spelled without an R.

The next day at school I spent half of geometry class figuring out the logistics of my scheme to get Maria to Homecoming with Anthony by drawing little isosceles triangles on my paper. Hmm. If one corner was Maria, another Anthony, and the last corner Maria’s dad… My math teacher, Mr. Humphrey, claims side angle side equals side angle side, but in this case I had the feeling it equaled trouble.

It was Wednesday after school and I was sprawled out on an obnoxious green alligator raft in our heated pool, wondering how we were going to pull off Maria’s secret date. Hopefully Maria’s family would be preoccupied with making that incredible chicken with yellow rice I love, or the black bean soup I adore even more, and wouldn’t notice her sneaking out her dress. My stomach growled. God, I wished I had some chicken and yellow rice.

I hopped out of the pool and wrapped myself in a huge fluffy towel. Would my mother be cooking something on that new blue European gas stove of hers, or would she just be polishing the stainless steel?

“What’s for dinner?” I asked, dripping into the kitchen.

My mother blew a lock of blonde hair off her forehead. “Roast chicken with lemon, brown rice with pecans and mushrooms, and ratatouille.”

“You know, I really love you.”

“Yes. By the way, Sudsy called, but I didn’t want to take the phone to you in the pool.”

“Mom, you can’t get electrocuted on a cordless phone. It runs on batteries.”

“Well, it just makes me nervous.” She took off her Kiss-the-Cook apron. “How’s Sudsy coming with her romance novel?”

“Almost finished, but she won’t let anyone read it.”

“Doesn’t she need someone to edit? Maybe I could help since I am a lit major.”

“Forget it. Sudsy says it’s an absolute masterpiece already.”

There’s an old cornball song my Grandma Donnie sings. Something about life not being easy—I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden. I don’t know who’s begging whose pardon, but they were sure right about life not being a bed of flowers. I mean, I was just trying to help Maria and already I was the bad guy. At least according to Tyler.

After school the next day, Tyler and I parked the Green Lady at the Cove for the purpose of my telling him our plans had changed. Having an abundance of testosterone surging through his scrawny bod, I’m sure he thought we’d driven to the Cove to make out. So once I’d turned off the engine, I gave him a juicy kiss to get him in a good mood. Kissing Tyler was really quite delicious, because, scrawny or not, he was one of the hottest guys at Coral Cove High. But when I pushed him away and blurted out that he’d have to meet me at Homecoming because I’d be going to the dance in a group date with Sudsy, Tamara, and Maria, he was not happy.

“But I thought Maria was going with that Anthony dude?”

“She is. But her father can’t stand him, so she has to pretend she’s going with us girls and then sleep over at my house.”

“You must be friggin’ kidding,” he croaked. Sometimes when Tyler gets excited his voice still goes up and down like the Scorpion ride at Busch Gardens.

“No, I’m not kidding, Tyler. This dance is like extremely crucial to Maria. I can’t let her down.”

“But it’s all right to let me down.”

“I don’t see what the big deal is. We can still be at the dance together.”

“So does that mean we won’t be hanging out after?”

I looked at him and smiled, realizing that hanging out meant making out in the back seat of my convertible.

“There’ll be plenty of other times for that. Think of it this way. Helping Anthony and Maria go to Homecoming is sort of like your patriotic duty. I mean, Anthony could get killed when he’s in the army. It’s the least you can do.”

A scowl crossed his handsome face. “You know, Brooke, I’m really sick of the way you always manipulate me.”

“With the exception of now, when have I manipulated you?”

“All the time. You constantly have some kind of scheme.”

“Tyler, that’s not true. Besides, in business they call that entrepreneurship.”

“Right.”

We drove back to school in silence; Tyler turned away from me like my cat does on the way home from the vet. I stopped at the bike rack where he got out of the Green Lady and slammed the door.

“You don’t have to take it out on my car,” I said.

He turned and glared. “I wish you worried half as much about me as you do about your damn car. Well, you won’t have to worry about it anymore.”

“So does that meaning you’re breaking up with me?”

“What do you think?” he snapped and with that unlocked his bike and pedaled off in a cloud of dust.