Hello, readers! Welcome to October Frights! Join the hop and find author giveaways of spooky reads to make your skin crawl!
Today I'm featuring a very scary anthology, Fragments of Darkness! It features the prequel to my Faithe Eileen series, The Transgressions of Faithe Eileen.
About the anthology...
An Anthology of Thrilling Stories
From between the cracks of imagination, among the splinters of the unknown, and upon the winds of mystery, lurk the Fragments of Darkness. With legends of killer mermaids to tales of Civil War era ghosts, ten passionate story-tellers come together to bring you yarns of fantasy, paranormal, and chills and thrills that will entertain, intrigue, and enchant young adult and new adult readers.
Amazon: US | CA | UK
Here's a quick tease of my story (and a giveaway at the bottom of the page)!
Jake’s touch sets my skin on fire. Maybe it’s because we’re hidden between the brick wall of the gymnasium and the thick trees of the woods, where one never knows who could be watching. Or maybe it’s because we’re not supposed to be here, and I know my momma would beat me senseless for giving up my body like this. But Jake says all the kids do it, so what’s the big deal?
A touch. A tingle. A grab. A sigh.
“Can we meet up tonight?” he asks between heavy breaths.
But I know we’ll meet up. Again and again until Jake can take me away from this place. Away from my broken-down life. Away from Momma and her rules. Away from my loneliness.
Keep your transgressions in check, Faithe Eileen. I cringe at the memory of Momma’s warning. They’ll catch up with you one day.
A rustle in the trees is enough to spook me.
“Come back.” Jake reaches for my hand, but I pull away.
“I should go.”
He groans, but I don’t stop moving away. I grab my school bag from the twisting grass and sling it over my shoulder, moving quickly toward the opening in the chain link that holds back the wild woods from spilling into the school yard.
“Faithe!” Jake calls, a pain present in his voice that makes me pause and look over my shoulder. “Love you.”
My face heats up as I duck behind the fence on the worn path through the woods. I’ve never answered Jake, not once. I love that he loves me. I love that one day he’ll steal me away from this place. But until that time, saying those words would create so much hope inside me that I’d fall apart if anything went wrong. Hope disappoints. It’s better not to love.
Each step I take on the path in the woods is muffled by the decomposing blanket of red, gold, and orange leaves cast down by the bare branches that stretch out above me. When I was young I was afraid of the woods in the fall—worried the trees wanted to reach down and kidnap me. When I finally told Momma, she gave me a lickin’ for believing that trees could act like the devil himself. I learned to love the woods as a place to hide from her. Sometimes the things closest to you can be the scariest of all.
It’s not far down the path when I hear the rustling again. It’s too clumsy to be an animal—their steps are more careful and pronounced. No, these sounds are from something much more human. I take a few more steps, hastily spinning when the rustling starts again.
Two boys from school, Marcus and Rodney, follow close behind. They’re old friends of Jake’s. “Old” as in “before he started seeing me.” They’ve never been careful about voicing their dislike of Jake dating me.
“What do you want?” I ask as they freeze in place, their eyes widening from being caught. It’s not long before smirks appear on their faces.
“We saw you behind the school,” Marcus says. “Looks like you and Jake were having fun.” Rodney grunts from beside him, holding up his phone in my direction.
The rustling. I knew someone was there. The heat left behind from Jake’s touch rushes to my cheeks.
“Mind your own business.” I turn away and walk faster than before. But that’s a mistake. I’m still wearing flats and their smooth soles slip across the rotted leaves. Soon I’ve landed on my backside and am scrambling to get up again.
“Careful there.” Marcus stands beside me. He offers a hand, but I ignore it and push myself up from the ground. He’s so close, I can smell his cologne, but when I step back the rough bark of the tree catches on the back of my shirt.
“Do you think your mother would like to see what you were doing behind the school?” Marcus tilts his head, his smirk now a sneer.
My heart speeds up at the mention of my mother. “What are you talking about?”
Rodney moves behind Marcus, still holding his phone. He’s focused on the screen, not us. But then it all makes sense.
“Oh, yes, we did.” Marcus laughs, sending a painful wave of goosebumps across my skin. “Jake couldn’t help but slip and tell us about your favourite spot to make out.”
“Yes.” Marcus narrows his eyes. “Show her.”
Rodney pulls his phone down and turns it toward me. The screen shows my back to the woods, and Jake’s hands are all over me. Up my shirt. Up my skirt. No.
“Give it to me.” I lunge at Rodney, but Marcus pushes me back against the tree. Rodney steps back and turns the phone to start videoing again.
“I’m thinking you don’t want your mom to see this,” Marcus says again, reaching a finger out as he flicks at the top button of my blouse. “Plus, I never really knew what you saw in Jake. I know he’s my friend and all, but come on. Wouldn’t you rather have a turn with the captain of the football team?”
I shake my head. This can’t be happening. No, no, no. My mother, she’ll beat me if she sees that video. She’ll never let me see Jake again. All my chances at escaping this life will be gone.
I turn my eyes back to Marcus and take a deep breath. “What is it you want?”
His eyes widen and his breath comes out in a pant. He never expected me to agree. Little does he know just how desperate I am. But I’m not as easy as he thinks.
“Five minutes.” His mouth is practically drooling. “Five minutes of making out and I can touch you anywhere I want.”
I bite my lip. Five minutes of hell. Am I willing to do this for freedom?
“Agreed. But you give me the phone before we start.”
Marcus doesn’t tear his eyes away from me. His breathing is ragged now and he shifts from foot to foot with agitation or anxiety. No, anticipation.
“What?” Rodney shakes his head. “No way. That’s not what we talked about, man.”
“Give it!” Marcus turns and tears the phone from Rodney’s grasp and hands it over to me. But before he lets go, he has one last rule. “Rodney gets to watch.”
I nod as I pull the phone away, flipping through apps until I find the videos and delete them. Then I throw it as far as I can into the woods.
“You bitch!” Rodney screams as he stampedes into the trees to find his precious phone. I can’t help but smile in justification.
“Five minutes starts now.” Marcus leans in, but I’ve got a surprise for him as well.
“No.” I step to the side, ducking away from his wet lips. “It’s not gonna happen.”
I slip out of my shoes and break into a run. These woods are mine. I know them and they know me. If I can just get to the ravine, I know I can jump across and lose him.
But the captain of the football team is faster than me, and within minutes I’m tackled to the ground, debris cutting into my knees and his tight grip bruising my arms. I struggle against him, but Marcus is stronger. “We had a deal.” His words grunt out like the animal he is. He flips me over and leans in for his prize. His mouth drowns mine and he lets go of my arms as his clumsy fingers reach for my shirt.
I take my only chance.
Both of my hands reach up and grab the sides of Marcus’s face. But this time I don’t push him away—I hold on tight and focus. It doesn’t take long until I feel his body start to tremble. And it has nothing to do with hormones.
I’ve just shown Marcus his death.
When his body finally quits shaking, I manage to slip out from underneath his weight and stand up. His oversized football stature is now curling up like a baby, and I can hear his whimpers. I know it’s not permanent. It’ll pass. I just need to find my shoes and get out of here before it does.
“What did you do?” Rodney asks from behind a tree. He’s holding his phone up in our direction. Dammit.
Forgoing my shoes, I turn and disappear into the woods. Every step against the broken branches and rocks tears into my nylons and feet, but I barely notice. All I can think of is Rodney. What did he see?
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