Where am I? Who am I? What now?

There’s always this strange feeling that comes with finishing a book. Whether it’s just after finishing the rough draft and tumbling down the mountain of the denouement, or you’ve finally conquered the many-headed monster of line edits and plot holes, or finally, finally typed those two little words: The End. But the feeling comes and it’s one of bewilderment.

You’ve been working so hard, from idea conception, to finally hitting the last period, or – if it’s a series – you got to finally write The End, when you’re done, you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself. There’s no word goal that needs to be met. No deadline looming. No emails from your editor, with an attachment that now has more Track Changes than original work. No acknowledgements to write. Nothing but trying to enjoy the idea that you get to take a break. But it’s strangely hard to take that break. I, for one, tend to feel guilty.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I take a break and I damn well enjoy it. I catch up on some reading, be it novels or beautifully drawn comics. I enjoy the slow sipping of my coffee, rather than the bleary-eyed chug only to find I’ve let the stuff get cold. I watch some guilty pleasure T.V. I stay in my pajamas by choice. Or maybe I don’t and I take a shower and do my hair and feel like a person again. I go out to dinner with my hubs to celebrate.

But after a day or two, I feel guilty. Which is so strange.

I mean, when you work for someone you’re supposed to get a vacation, right? And we’re not talking a day or two. You get some time to decompress and go do something you don’t normally do because, damnit, you’ve been working hard (maybe).

So I just published the last in a trilogy. I will say that, of all my work, I am most proud of this body of work. The Ash and Ruin Trilogy, I think, is my best work so far. But I will tell you this, it is a dark, mean story with a scorched earth and blood. There are dead-eyed monsters with rattling, plague-spreading breath and monsters that look just like you and I. And each installment took little pieces of me with them, every day writing, every day editing, they took pieces of me.

And when I came to the end of the third book, that last day, I could see the horizon – it was about ten thousands words in the distance and I knew I didn’t want to quit until I reached it. So, over the course of the day I wrote some 12,505 words and the last two were “The End.” I nearly collapsed. I almost had to crawl to get out of my office at the end. I don’t even remember the rest of the night, but I felt like I’d been in battle with my characters and I’d somehow dragged my body, beaten and bloody, out of those pages and found my way home.

And now it’s published. I finished revising the rough draft of another book just the other day, so I told myself I could take a little time to enjoy this week and this last publication. So, I read some beautiful comics, I finished a book I’d been reading, I got a fricken massage today, I gave myself a pedicure. But you know what?

I feel guilty.

But some characters are already starting to talk to me, so the tiny break was a good thing. So, take your breaks, kick that guilt monkey off your back, sip your coffee, because more words are coming. More goals. More deadlines. More edits. If you’re a writer, you’re gonna write. But you deserve that break, just like I did.

Now, if you like monsters, and heartbreak, and bloody adventures, and scorched earth apocalypses, please, help me pay bills and feed my dogs by clicking on your favorite retailer’s link and maybe buy a copy.

 

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Cover Reveal: Age of Blood

Age of Blood (Ash and Ruin #3) by Shauna Granger

Hope is a dangerous thing, but powerful. Hope keeps you going. Hope can keep you alive.

But hope can shatter your world.

Kat and Dylan have found a home, but the monsters are still out there. The pox and plague still ravage the world. They have hope of finding a vaccine, but their encampment isn’t equipped to develop it.

Dylan is still too weak from the pox to leave the encampment, so Kat must decide between staying by his side and protecting her last remaining family member as he leaves to find supplies. Separated for the first time since they came together, Kat and Dylan will have to fight their own battles to save what is left of their bloody world.

Kat will have to hold on to hope that she has anything left to save and someone to come home to.

If she can survive.

AGEOFBLOODAvailable 5/5/2015

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About the series:

World of Ash – book 1

WOA (1)

There are two inherent truths in the world: life as we know it is over, and monsters are real.

The Pestas came in the night, spreading their pox, a deadly plague that decimated the population. Kat, one of the unlucky few who survived, is determined to get to her last living relative and find shelter from the pox that continues to devastate the world. When it mutates and becomes airborne, Kat is desperate to avoid people because staying alone might be her only chance to stay alive.

That is, until she meets Dylan. Dylan, with his easy smile and dark, curly hair, has nowhere to go and no one to live for. He convinces Kat there can be safety in numbers, that they can watch out for each other. So the unlikely couple set off together through the barren wasteland to find a new life – if they can survive the roaming Pestas, bands of wild, gun-toting children, and piles of burning, pox-ridden bodies.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Time of Ruin – book 2

TORThe world has ended, and hope is the most dangerous thing left.

Battered and bruised after barely escaping San Francisco with their lives, Kat, Dylan, and Blue press north – desperate to reach the possibility of a new home.

But strange, monstrous ravens are tracking the remaining survivors, food is becoming scarce, gasoline is running short, and people are becoming suicidal, making survival almost impossible.

And the Pestas are growing bolder. Somehow, their numbers are growing.

The further north they go, the harder it becomes to ignore the signs that they’ve made a fatal mistake. Kat must face the impossible truth that there is no escape, there is no safe haven, and their worst nightmares don’t come close to their new reality.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

About the author:

6FTWnj-KLike so many other writers, Shauna grew up as an avid reader, but it was in high school that she realized she wanted to be a writer. She released the first installment of her Paranormal YA Series, The Elemental Series, Earth, on May 1, 2011 and has since released four sequels, with the series coming to an end with Spirit. In December of 2013 she released the first in her Paranormal Post-Apocalyptic trilogy (Ash And Ruin Trilogy), World of Ash. Be sure to also check out her newest series: The Matilda Kavanagh Novels about a spunky witch just trying to pay her rent in West Hollywood. Shauna is currently hard at work on one too many projects, trying to organize the many voices in her head. It’s a writer thing.

Stalkables:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

About the Cover Artist Stephanie Mooney:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I am a 25-year-old graphic designer, artist, and aspiring author currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m a renaissance girl — a lover of all things creative and artistic. From the moment I learned to use my hands, I was writing stories about princesses and sketching ballerinas. I guess I never really stopped.

Most of my training has been informal, and many of my skills are self taught. In 2006-07, I spent a year interning at a church in Louisiana where I worked in their art and design department. In July 2007, they hired me as one of their designers. I worked there for three years, gaining experience in graphic design, advertising, set building, event planning, and product design. From there, I began my career in freelance design.

Many of my clients are indie authors looking for affordable cover designs. I love working with authors and getting excited about their stories with them. I’m still building my web portfolio, but I really enjoy designing and developing websites as well.

Stalkables:

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Shameless Self-Promotion: Shauna’s Edition

If you’ve been following me on any social media site, you know by now that my sequel to World of Ash, Time of Ruin, went live on Tuesday. We all talk about how difficult writing is, and it is, but some books are easier than others and some just kill you a little bit, steal a piece of your soul with every page. The Ash and Ruin Trilogy is the latter for me. That’s why I talk about it so much. I’m just so glad for each book to be complete and out in the world. I’m glad I wrote these books, but I will be glad when they’re over because they take so much from me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to see people reading the, so in that vein, here is all the info you need!

If you enjoy post-apocalyptic adventures with monsters and just a touch of romance, please check them out!

The first book, World of Ash, can be found here:

WOA (1)

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, iBooks, Kobo

Blurb:

There are two inherent truths in the world: life as we know it is over, and monsters are real.

The Pestas came in the night, spreading their pox, a deadly plague that decimated the population. Kat, one of the unlucky few who survived, is determined to get to her last living relative and find shelter from the pox that continues to devastate the world. When it mutates and becomes airborne, Kat is desperate to avoid people because staying alone might be her only chance to stay alive.

That is, until she meets Dylan. Dylan, with his easy smile and dark, curly hair, has nowhere to go and no one to live for. He convinces Kat there can be safety in numbers, that they can watch out for each other. So the unlikely couple set off together through the barren wasteland to find a new life – if they can survive the roaming Pestas, bands of wild, gun-toting children, and piles of burning, pox-ridden bodies.

The second book, Time of Ruin:

TOR

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, iBooks, Kobo

Blurb:

The world has ended, and hope is the most dangerous thing left.

Battered and bruised after barely escaping San Francisco with their lives, Kat, Dylan, and Blue press north – desperate to reach the possibility of a new home.

But strange, monstrous ravens are tracking the remaining survivors, food is becoming scarce, gasoline is running short, and people are becoming suicidal, making survival almost impossible.

And the Pestas are growing bolder. Somehow, their numbers are growing.

The further north they go, the harder it becomes to ignore the signs that they’ve made a fatal mistake. Kat must face the impossible truth that there is no escape, there is no safe haven, and their worst nightmares don’t come close to their new reality.

Living Up to Expectations

Last December I released WORLD OF ASH, my NA paranormal post-apocalyptic novel. It was the first time I’d ever written a book in this genre (not paranormal, that’s ma bread and butter). The age range was familiar to me because the end of my Elemental series the characters were all 18-19 years old, but post-apocalyptic was totally new for me.

WOA (1)

The book was very challenging to write for more than one reason. First, I attempted to write this book in more of a Sci-Fi vein without magic or supernatural creatures. My readers have heard me say that, after accomplishing this, upon my read-through, I hated the book. I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I am not a Sci-Fi nerd. I enjoy watching Sci-Fi far more than reading it. And really I prefer my Sci-Fi along the lines of Doctor Who – with a mix of fantasy.

So I knew I had to revamp the whole book. After a massive overhaul, research into rare plague bearers of Norwegian myths, and changing the whole damn thing from past to present tense, I had a much better book. It’s a dark horse in my catalogue of books, but it is by far my most well-received book.

And that’s kind of terrifying.

When I was first starting out with my plucky YA paranormal series, I was wide-eyed and a bit naïve. I did my research into the biz, made sure I did things professionally and smart, but, mostly, I kept my head down and wrote and polished and published and hoped for the best. I built a readership and enjoyed my work. And, while each release brought with it a new wave of butterflies and mild panic, I had no trouble writing the next book. Not so with this new world.

WORLD OF ASH has set me up for a whole new world of feels. As I sat down to start working on the outline for book two and sat down to start putting words to screen, I realized I was kind of terrified. In my first series I had a pretty good balance of love, hate and somewhere in between with my readers (luckily there wasn’t a lot of a hate, just enough to let me know that I was comfortably in the middle of “not pleasing everyone,” which is what you expect). But so far, WOA hasn’t had any hate or even any, “Eh… it was okay.” People are excited to read the next. They have a lot of questions and feels. I’ve had writers volunteer to beta read the second book who didn’t for the first because they became fans after reading WOA.

This is a lot of pressure that I didn’t expect.

Merida, Brave, exasperated

Like I said before, WOA is my dark horse. I’m not gonna lie and tell you it’s my best seller, because it’s not, but it seems to be the best received.

So I find myself asking HOW DO I LIVE UP TO THESE EXPECTATIONS?

DeanScreamInternally

I don’t. Plain and simple. I need to go back to my old way of thinking, just put my head down and write the best book I can. Often I find myself thinking about the book and thinking I’m not doing a very good job. That I’ll send it to my betas and they’ll rip it apart and the new volunteers will cringe, wondering why they offered to read. But you know what? Every writer has those doubts. Whether it’s their first sequel, or their thirtieth.

So, how am I dealing with it? I just am because I’m a writer and I want to continue to be a writer and to do that, I have to keep writing. I will just allow myself to have my doubts and my worries, so long as I keep writing. My editor and betas are supposed to help me make the book better, so if they hate it, they can help me build it up to the level it needs to be to live up to the precedent that WOA set.

I’ll drink my coffee, add to my soundtrack, build the outline, and somehow find the end of the book and hopefully people will love it as much as the first book. Hopefully.

(Hopefully this is what my betas and my readership will say when I’m done.)

(And then there will be wine.)

Publishing a New Title

It doesn’t matter how many times we go through this, every time you see one of your books hit the big sites, released into the wild for mass consumption, you go through the same thing:

World of Ash was one of the hardest books for me to write for a myriad of reasons. One, it was a whole new genre (Post Apocalyptic), in a new age group (New Adult), and when I first wrote it, I tried to do so without any magic or paranormal elements. Let’s not even mention that I wrote the whole thing in past tense only to go through and change the whole damn thing to present tense (except for flash backs)! But I have to say, I think it is one of my strongest books ever. I’m exceedingly proud of it and I cannot wait to hear from my readers.

YA Bound is hosting my book tour, so be sure to check it out for your chances to win prizes from yours truly! I hope you all will check out the book and let me know what you think!

Now, excuse me while I go find my paper bag…

WOA (1)

Why zombies?

At a cousin’s birthday party last night, a funny little eight-year-old boy came running over.

“Can I read your book yet?” he asked while his mother looked on.

I wrinkled my nose and shook my head. “No, buddy,” I said, and his face fell. “Well, not yet anyway.”

“When?”

“Up to your parents, really, but my guess would be somewhere around sixteen.”

“But I love zombies!”

I smiled. “Me, too. This book’s just a little too grown up for you still. I’m sorry.”

He frowned and pouted a little, but then he looked back up. “Why do you write about zombies, anyway?”

And isn’t that the question of the hour??

I actually get asked that a LOT. People look at me and expect me to write YA contemporary romance, or even fantasy. They don’t expect horror, mainly because I don’t look like Anne Rice, I think. I mean, aside from a preference for black nail polish, I look more like…well…a soccer mom, I guess. So why horror? Why zombies?

Here’s my response:

In the first place, zombies are pretty generally evil. There’s no chance for redemption. So with zombies, the ultimate goal is to kill them, and since they usually attack with numbers on their side, you get to be really creative in how you kill them. My favorite method from my first book included a gas station nozzle through the eye socket….my protagonist then blew up the whole place. Sort of fabulous, right?

But then there’s the real reason, and it’s that when you totally mess up the world around a group of people…when you push them to the brink of starvation and civilization, you really get to dig into human dark sides. I ask you this: if you had guns and food during the zombie apocalypse, but just enough for your own family, what would you do if your neighbor came calling for help? Would you help him?

Or what if there was someone wreaking havoc within your little camp. What would you do? Would you set up some sort of jail system, complete with trial by jury? Or would you simply kill the rabble-rouser?

These are the questions I love to explore, love to dig into, within my zombie stories. As I like to put it, in my Undead America series, it’s not the zombies you need to fear; it’s the people.

For more information on the Undead America series, check out the books on Amazon.

Zombie Days, Campfire Nights

No Angels

Excerpt time!

Happy Thursday everyone! Look, you can just see the weekend coming up over the horizon! Hold on for a few more hours and it’ll all be over.

Today I’m sharing with you an excerpt from one of the manuscripts I’ve been working on this year. This one is near and dear to me and I have a lot of high hopes for it. The other day I called on my FB followers to call out random page numbers for me to pick an excerpt from and I was more than impressed with the enthusiasm and how so many of the choices landed on, what I think are some awesome scenes.

So here goes. The winning page number was 225 provided by Patricia Davis! No intro, I’m just gonna throw you into the deep end and hope you enjoy!

2300(ish) word excerpt from: Wytchcraft (working title) – Copyright Shauna Granger 2013

It looked like any other dive bar in any other neighborhood in the world. Dimly lit so you didn’t see just how grimy the floors and tables were. Tiny candles flickered on the round tables around the room. A couple of worn pool tables stood in one corner and dartboards hung in another. Booths lined one wall while a long bar took up another. Two bartenders worked the bar and the crowded stools in front of them with waitresses coming and going with tiny round trays like mini shields full of glasses.

The only thing that set this bar apart from any other was the number of vampires lurking around every corner. They were in the booths along the wall, cloistered with their prey, they were leaning on the bar, flashing cheesy fanged smiles at the humans milling around them. They were everywhere and if you took a deep enough breath you could taste the tang of iron in the air. I shivered, trying to shake off the creeping crawling sensation this place gave me.

“Kinda creepy, right?” Ronnie whispered to me, but despite her lowered voice a few glinting pairs of eyes turned our way. I averted my eyes, not wanting to invite any of them over to us.

“Yeah, kinda creepy,” I agreed, keeping my voice low as well. The vamps could glare all they wanted, we were whispering so the humans couldn’t hear us, we weren’t fang blocking them or anything.

“So, do you want to get a drink or something?” Ronnie asked.

“Not even a little bit,” I said. “I want to get out of here as soon as possible.”

“Right,” Ronnie nodded, but when I looked at her face I realized she wasn’t looking at me, she was watching some of the more open couples in the booths. There were couples and groups huddled together, a mixture of vampires and humans. One such couple, a female vampire and a male human, were twisted around each other on a bench seat, the woman had the man’s wrist clamped to her mouth, not even the tiniest of trickles escaping her hungry lips. His head was thrown back, his eyes fluttering closed and his lips parted in a moan.

“Ron, you okay?” I leaned into Ronnie, tugging on her arm.

“Yes,” she said slowly, pronouncing the word carefully. “Yes, we should move on.” She turned us away from the sights and sounds of the room around us. Ronnie had never been with a vampire, never felt the sweet sting of their bite, it was normal to be curious and I was definitely not one to judge in this instance.

There was a huge arch in the back wall leading to a sunken room that, at this distance, looked like it was completely pitch black. That was the room I was looking for: the opium den.

“Ready? Ronnie asked.

“No,” I said, but I lead the way forward anyway. There were no guards at the entrance, no one checking anyone for weapons or ID, but I guess if you made it into the bar, you were allowed to come and go through the rooms as you pleased.

When we passed under the arch I felt a ripple of power pass over us, it was cool and soothing, like walking through a gentle waterfall. Ronnie turned surprised eyes to me, but I only shrugged. I figured it was some sort of charm to keep the vapors and smoke inside this room and out of the rest of the bar because once inside here I realized how difficult it was to see.

Claro,” I whispered and suddenly it was easier to see. Ronnie repeated the charm under her breath so she could see just as well.

There were huge cushions strewn about the floor and fainting couches set all along the walls. There were bodies lying everywhere, it almost looked like a mass suicide. I closed my eyes and shook my head, trying to get that thought out of my mind. When I opened my eyes again I could focus on the moving parts of the room. People were lounging next to their pipes, smoking and passing them along to the next person.

Soft music filled the room and went a long way towards calming my nerves. Only Ronnie’s clutching fingers in my arm kept me on edge.

“Be careful not to touch anyone,” I reminded Ronnie in a whisper. Psychics could control their visions for the most part, but when surrounded by too many people or were touched, the visions took over. After too many years of seeing too many people’s fates, murders, pain and suffering, they either checked out of society and became hermits or their minds would snap. Many a middle-aged psychic lived in assisted-living complexes.

“May I help you?” a woman asked, appearing in front of us through the vapors and smoke. She was dressed in traditional Kabuki robes and makeup. Her pitch black hair was rolled and pinned artfully on top of her head with a jeweled hair comb. Her face was paper white, making the red lipstick stand out on her face even in the poor lighting.

“I, uh,” I stumbled, not really sure how to answer her.

“Can I show you to a seat?” she half turned, holding out one hand to guide us. Ronnie started to take a step, but I stopped her. I wasn’t interested in smoking and I had no idea how much something like that would cost anyway.

“No,” I said, “we were looking for someone.”

“Whom are you looking for?” the hostess asked, making me stumble again. Who were we looking for? Anyone who would help us I guess. We’d come to a place where psychics went to get away from their visions and here we were hoping one of them would be willing to help us find Roane. Roane, who was being held captive, possibly tortured. Yeah, I’m sure anyone of these people would jump at the chance to help us.

“We needed the help of a psychic,” Ronnie said, stepping forward to answer the question. I cringed at the look on the woman’s face. She looked ready to pull her hair comb out and stab us in the eye.

“My patrons do not come here to be bothered by tourists,” she snapped, stepping toward us again, pushing into our personal space to herd us back through the archway.

“We’re not tourists,” I said, holding my ground. “We just need help.”

“I suggest you look elsewhere, now go,” she pointed a perfectly manicured finger over my shoulder.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said quickly, “but two men’s lives are at stake and I’m desperate. I’m running out of time and I didn’t know where else to go.”

Before the Wave many psychics had shops where they read palms and cards for humans because few enough people believed in them that they could manage the number of customers they received., but once we were all out of the closet humans realized that psychics were just as real as the rest of us and suddenly their quaint little shops were overrun with humans looking for winning lottery numbers, begging to speak to their passed loved ones and any other life altering request you could think of. Within ten years of the Wave most shops had been shut down. Now it was very difficult to find a shop with a legitimate psychic running it and not some human, witch or warlock pretending to be a psychic to scam innocent customers out of their hard earned money.

Now psychics were just trying to assimilate into society as best they could. Many of them worked from home, hell most telemarketers that call and interrupt your dinner are psychics, just trying to earn a living while staying away from the populace. They were often erratic and difficult to talk to so I mostly stayed away from them and just depended on my own castings for answers to questions I had.

“Please,” I said again, reaching out a hand to touch the woman, but before my fingers touched her she roared, her face contorting from the porcelain perfection to a lined and aged face. Her mouth split open into a gaping maw full of needlelike teeth and she lunged at us.

“Get out,” she snarled, her back hunching over and her manicured nails turning into stained claws as she tried to swipe at us. I fell back into Ronnie, stumbling over the step and nearly sending us to the floor.

“Onibaba,” Ronnie hissed, scrambling back and pulling me with her. I could feel the edge of the curtain separating the bar and the den.

“Wait,” a lazy voice called out, catching all of our attention. I watched at the woman’s face melted back into the perfect mask of beauty before she turned to face the man who spoke.

He was lounging on the floor, a pipe held in one hand. His head was dropped back so that he was staring at the ceiling as he expelled a stream of white smoke. Ronnie pushed me forward to help me back to my feet and off of her. I straightened my jacket, tucking my hair behind my ears before taking a step forward. The Onibaba hissed at me as I walked by, but I kept my shoulders straight and refused to look at her.

“Excuse me?” I said when I stood close enough to the man that he could hear me whisper.

“Sit,” he said, waving a hand at the cushions scattered around him. There were two other people with him, a man and a woman. The woman’s head was resting on his thigh and he dropped his empty hand to toy with her curly brown hair. The second man was lying on the floor, not touching anyone or anything, not even using a pillow to cushion his head. His eyes were wide open and glazed over, a strange smile tugging at his lips, making his cheek twitch.

I glanced over my shoulder at Ronnie; she was staring at the man on the floor, watching his cheek jump. I wondered how much opium he’d had already – too much by the looks of it. I took a breath and crossed my ankles before lowering myself to sit on the floor. I had to reach up and tug on Ronnie’s hand to get her to sit next to me, finally blinking and tearing her eyes away from the man.

“You’re looking for help,” the man said, not making it a question, but if he’d heard me pleading with the demon then it wasn’t that impressive.

“Yes,” I said as I reached into my pocket to dig out Roane’s ring.

“There is a man missing,” he said. Wrapping his lips around the pipe and took three quick puffs, holding the vapors in for a moment before passing the pipe to the woman on his thigh. “His life is in danger,” he went on, expelling the smoke.

“Look, guy,” I said, cutting him off as my temper started to rise. “You heard me say all that right over there.” I jabbed a thumb over my shoulder. “You’re not fooling me alright? I’m not some two bit human fresh off the bus. If you’re just gonna waste my fucking time, we’ll be on our way.” I tapped Ronnie on the knee and started to get to my feet. The couple started to snicker, making me pause to glare at them. I shook my head at them and stood.

“Wait, wait,” he said, pushing up on his elbows to look up at me. “I’m sorry, please, sit.”

“I’m good, thanks,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Here,” he dug into his pants pocket until he came out with a black leather wallet. “Go see my friend,” he said as he dug through the many creased business cards until he found the one he was looking for. He held the white card out to me.

“Your friend huh?” I asked, arching a brow at him. “Is he as helpful as you are?”

“I said I was sorry,” he said, glaring at me, “do you want the help or not?”

“I do.”

“Then go see my friend, tell him Micha sent you.” He held the card out for me, waving it in his impatience. I glanced at Ronnie again, but she just shrugged at me, leaving it up to me to decide. With a sigh I reached out and took the card, my fingers grazing Micha’s as I did so.

Micha’s eyes went wide and his body shook before his back arched. His fingers grasped at mine as the vision took him. My body went cold as I watched him convulse on the floor and I had to wrench my hand free of his to stop it. Clutching my hand to my chest I stepped back to place my body against Ronnie’s.

The woman scrambled to Micha’s head, putting it in her lap and brushing her fingers over his sweaty forehead, making soft, soothing noises. She spared me an evil look and I knew, she wanted to hit me, throw me from this place to make up for what I’d just put her man through.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, shaking my head. I could still feel the shivers running over my body like millions of invisible ants racing over my skin.

“Just go,” she hissed at me.

“Be careful,” Micha rasped, stopping me a second time. I turned and looked at him; his eyes were open, but distant, like he was looking through me. “She is watching; she is waiting.” Then his eyes fell closed and he passed out in the girl’s lap, his body going limp.