A wise person once told me: There’s a reason for everything.
Sarah Shaw — pulled off a cliff
Emma Blackstone — shoved out a window and trampled by a horse
Mattie Williams — stung to death by bees
Cora Thomas — pushed in front of a train
Edith Young — impaled
Rachel Ellis — shoved off a boat
Lois Smith — hit by a bus
Muriel Walters — UGH…another bus
Lucille Marshall — involuntary manslaughter
Veronica Edwards — undetermined
What do all of these names have in common? They all died long before they were meant too, and they were all ME. If there’s any truth to that saying at all, there had better be a good reason for this!
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Morgan Koda has landed in a world full of magic. Now she has to survive it.
A simple English class assignment turns twelve-year-old Morgan Koda's world upside down, and she never dreamed delivering a Christmas letter to her local Mall’s Santa Claus would be her ticket to a world she never knew existed.
In this enchanted place, she walks through rainbows, makes friends with elves and talking animals, and experiences magic around every corner.
Yet, she finds things are not as serene as they seem. A classmate wants her dead. An evil sorcerer, The Dark Emir, hunts the one with the power to control the Mask of Noesis, an ancient artifact that has the ability to seize or manipulate a wizard's magic.
Morgan and the Emir are in a race against time for the relic. But, in order for her to fulfill her destiny with the golden mask, she has to survive the encounters with an eccentric classmate and the Dark Emir.
Nevertheless, Morgan Koda is anything but helpless.
A feud, which has been unsettled for centuries…
A vampire leader, determined to sacrifice his army…
A werewolf clan, ready to invade its greatest enemy…
A town on the verge of destruction, its secrets buried in a Native American legend…
This is Apollo’s story
In a hurry to leave the forest of Stockwood, Washington, and the feud between his vampire family and his werewolf bloodline, Apollo and Sophie flee to a neighboring town in order to seek a “normal” life together.
Protecting Sophie is the only thing on Apollo’s mind—until he finds himself in the middle of a town with a deadly secret—a secret which includes everyone he loves.
Now caught between his duties to protect the vampire family that raised him, share his life with the woman he loves and unravel the town’s secrets, which could destroy everyone, Apollo makes a choice. Determined to do the right thing, Apollo’s world is torn apart, causing him to unleash his rage on everything in his path.
An unexpected encounter with a creature of song may have the power to change his fate.
Tribesman Misha is in search of a deer, hopeful of winning the hand of Tiva--next in line for leadership--and determined to secure his family’s prominence. When he finds a small song-bird-woman, who he names Raven, he’s sure fate is on his side. The creature can’t speak, yet her song captures his heart.
But is Raven the gift he thinks she is?
The end of the day nears, and he must bring home a gift for Tiva or risk losing her to the lowly fisherman, Rokkoo, a fate that would undo everything he's worked so hard for.
Fans of Chanda Hahn will enjoy this dark fantasy short story that transports YA readers to an enchanting alternate Earth where wonders are not always as fantastic as they seem.
If Mark Wilkerson had to listen to any more of that morbid organ music, he was going to throw up. A migraine beat against his temples and tears rolled down his cheeks as he stood propped against his crutches, his dislocated shoulder aching. Through bleary eyes, he viewed the three closed coffins at the front of the viewing parlor. Gold glitter on white satin ribbons across the caskets read, “Devoted Father,” “Loving Mother,” and “Baby Sister – Sabrina.” She was only six.
Ornate floral arrangements surrounded the closed caskets, their florist shop fragrance adding to Mark’s migraine. He ran his hand across the smooth surface of his mother’s coffin; fingered the satin ribbon. She was in there, at least what was left of her, but he would never see her again. Never again would he feel the warm touch of her lips on his cheek when she kissed him good night.
His weepy eyes abruptly gushed with tears. What happened? He still wondered, shaking his head. Even though he’d somehow survived the accident, he still didn’t know anything about it. All he knew was what the County Sheriff’s deputy and the doctor at the hospital had told him; that he and his family had been in a tragic, fiery accident on the Carquinez Bridge on Christmas Eve.
The doctor also told him his memory would probably return, but it could take some time. He’d called it “dissociative amnesia," whatever that was. He said it was often caused by severe emotional trauma.
Mark’s grandmother, Emily Wilkerson, told him he’d performed with the family at a rest home earlier that night, but he couldn’t remember that either. He felt, more than remembered his father had been angry about something. Then there was Amanda Bonfili. What happened on their date? Or did they have a date? He just couldn’t remember.
Mark moved to his father’s casket. How could he live without him? His dad had been his greatest inspiration, his best friend. He looked down at the casket as his tears rolled. How could he live with the guilt of knowing their last words may have been spoken in anger? He’d never even had a chance to say I’m sorry, if he’d done something wrong or even good-bye. Somehow, he felt he might have been at least partly responsible for the accident. “Forgive me, dad.” His cries escaped his lips in a whisper, “for whatever I did. I’m sorry.” Tears stung his eyes and he wiped them on his sports jacket sleeve.
He wished he could see his family just one last time, but the undertaker had told him their bodies were too charred. The thought horrified him and Mark agreed it would be better to remember them as he’d last seen them alive.
At least his sister, Amy, was being spared the funeral ordeal. But she was still in a coma and her condition was serious. The doctors said she could have brain damage if she survived. That sounded worse than his amnesia.
The accident had only been three days ago and tomorrow, after the funeral, the coffins would be lowered into the cold ground. Is that all there is to life? Mark wondered, To live your life then be discarded like some trash. Hanging his head, he wished he could have died in their place, or at least with them. How Amy and he had survived was a mystery.
Moving to Sabrina’s casket, he laid his forehead against her tiny coffin. “Dear God! Please make this go away. Make them come back.” But even as he prayed, he knew God couldn’t make that happen, assuming He was even real. After all, why would an all-powerful, loving God take away the people he loved most; his parents and his six-year-old sister who had so much to live for, the family Amy and he needed?
Why? The question kept repeating over in his mind, as he wiped his eyes again. Why did his parents have to die and of all people little Sabrina?
SABRINA! Mark wanted to shout, as if it would bring her back.
He missed his baby sister every bit as much as he missed his mother and father.
“Sabrina,” he whispered.
He would never see her again. Tears rolled down his cheeks as Mark thought of her charred little body inside the tiny coffin and the pain she must have endured in the fire. She didn’t deserve to die.
Mark felt a warm hand on his shoulder. Straightening with his crutches, he leaned into his grandmother’s arms. “Go ahead and cry,” she said. “It’s good to let it out.”
Mark leaned down and laid his cheek in the hollow of her neck. He could smell her sweet, old ladies perfume. “Why?” he asked. “Why didn’t God protect them? Why did He let Sabrina die and not me? She didn’t even get a chance to live her life.” He turned away and tightened his fists on the crutch’s handgrip.
He felt his grandmother’s warm fingers turn his chin. “Mark, I know this is hard for you. It’s hard for me too and it will be hard on Amy when she comes home.” His grandmother choked on her words then blotted her eyes with her hankie, “if she does. Son, we don’t always understand why He allows things like this to happen, but my mother always told me, ‘what we see today as a tragedy, we may look back at tomorrow as a blessing.’” Emily hugged him tighter and stroked his hair.
“A blessing? How can losing almost my entire family ever be a blessing?” Mark huffed and pulled away. His head throbbed even more. Then looking back at his grandmother, he said, “If I ever find out who caused the accident, I swear… I’ll… I’ll kill him…. I promise that.”
“No, Mark. Don’t think like that. It was just that, an accident. You need to forgive them.”
“I can’t, Grandma. I just can’t.”
We’ve gathered a handful of thrilling stories from all of your favorite genres and put them together into an epic anthology of young adult fiction. Some of them are just the beginning of a unique adventure, while others are complete stories that will spark your imagination.
With over 200,000 words (about three full-length novels) That Moment When will provide weeks of reading pleasure.
Have you ever reached a moment in your life when everything changed? A crossroads of sorts… a point of no return. An event or realization so enormous you knew it would impact you forever in ways you couldn’t begin to understand? Discoveries so momentous they changed everything you thought you knew about the world, and yourself?
That Moment When is filled with exactly these kinds of moments.
If you read the stories in this anthology, I guarantee you’ll find at least a few that thrill and excite you. Make sure to follow the authors if you want to read more - most of us have at least one free book on our sites.
A pendant with a secret...
A four-thousand-year-old curse, cast in the land of gods, threatens Apollo’s twins...
In a treacherous journey to break the curse of a pendant connected to his twins, Apollo travels to a land where vampires and werewolves were born—a land where good and evil, light and dark, collide. With time against him, he seeks to understand and alter his children’s destiny while he confronts his foes who possess supernatural powers he never knew existed. Now, Apollo must confront his past, face his present and make decisions that could alter his future. Will he save his children, or lose them to the curse forever?
An unremarkable young man watched as a young woman did an odd sort of floating ballet in front of him. Her steps were unschooled but there was a raw talent in her performance that was hard to explain under the circumstances. Some might call it a gift of some sort, others a curse maybe but either way her love for what she was doing was plain to see. Her arms did a freeform, flapping version of a bras croisé that was cleverly reminiscent of a large bird in flight. There was nothing obviously remarkable about her at this point either - other than the fact she was dancing.
They were in a courtyard high up on a strange, windswept rooftop. She stopped dancing mid-step to look up into the sky when they heard a single, coarse screech from somewhere above. Sea Hawks were known as shriekers to those outside the walls while the people from inside had no idea they even existed. These were the only raptors ever seen in the land, they were the only birds of prey that could make a living hunting for hagfish in the turbulent waters of the Uncrossable Sea or nest safely on the wind torn cliffs of the Unscalable Mountains.
Trinity saw him first and pointed into the leaden sky too spellbound to say a word. The Osprey didn’t flap its enormous wings, it didn’t waste any of its hard won energy but instead swooped effortlessly from one up-draught to the next searching the grey, foamy water below for a meal. “You’re right,” the young man said with a big grin, “the way you were moving was just like a shrieker when it flies. All you need now are feathers - and maybe an egg or two.”
She grinned happily but the breeziness soon evaporated when she caught sight of the angle of the sun through a gap in the heavy clouds. “We’ve got to be going,” she said, “I’ll be late again.”
Morden didn’t want this moment to be over but would never say so. He only shrugged as he watched her hurry away. “I’ll find you later,” she threw over her shoulder.
Then she hiked up her once fine but now threadbare traditional gown and started to run. “I’ll race you - if you don’t mind being beaten by a girl.”
Despite his disappointment he grinned and started to run too - in the opposite direction. He was no natural athlete by any stretch of the imagination but his scurrying, nimble gait made best use of his wiry build. His height was about average, maybe a bit taller, and his sandy brown hair along with hazel eyes made him prettyish for a boy. He didn’t like that. In an effort to look more grown up and masculine he didn’t shave completely. Instead he carefully sculpted what facial hair he had along his jawline to give him, what he hoped, was a more mature look. But it wasn’t a beard, not really and his father called it babies’ bum fluff -which did nothing to help. The truth was Morden was a geek.
Trinity wasn’t beautiful in any classic sense either but her limbs were long and supple. She moved easily over the bizarre, intricate skyline where adjacent courtyards led from one to the next then up through elevated passageways. She bounced lightly around a maze of lofty terraces passing flinty spires and rocky towers going forever upward. But she didn’t slow down - she never slowed down.
His helter-skelter route took him downwards however. He bounced down nearly vertical, stone stairways and slid around the hairpin corners of steeply inclined pathways and ramps until he finally scampered onto the flat main street of the city. Once here he was able to sprint into the plaza to join all the other, almost silent Outwallers who were standing packed together looking upwards. These were the people who weren’t born of the noble line so they lived outside the original city in a dense, grey township that cowered in the shadows of the towering city walls.
High on the ceremonial balcony overlooking the crowd below the Noble Family of the city state of Heritage waited in grumpy silence for something to happen. And what a motley looking crew they were. This group of strange souls made up the House of Paynes and at its heart lay three wildly dysfunctional sisters. At its crumbling head sat High Lord Auric Payne beside his wife High Lady Amasta. She was the eldest of the sisters and the tallest by a hair - but a full head taller than her husband. This height added nothing to her charm however and her skinniness only made her more skitterish and spiderlike. Despite being such an unlikely couple they had somehow managed to come up with a son called Malcolm. His function in life was to wait stupidly in the wings as heir to the whole, shaky shebang.
Amasta’s younger sister Clodagh looked a lot like Amasta but she was even skinnier to the point of emaciation. She was married to even more stunted Egan and they had a daughter, at least at this point they thought they had a daughter, called Trinity.
Feena was the youngest of the three girls. She was the healthiest looking by far, not that she was any beauty either, and she was married to somewhat more normal looking Hendon. Much to her chagrin they were yet to come up with a child of their own despite trying way too hard to make it happen.
All three sisters were mousey haired, gaunt faced and light eyed. Like the rest of the dwindling noble family they were fragile looking and appeared older than they really were. But it was ill health and not the years that stole their youth and denied them a lifespan of normal length or vigor. The Elders had never worked out that the miserable and ongoing lack of wellbeing and viable births among the highborn family was due to the indisputable belief that members of the nobility could only have ‘intimate physical contact’ with other members of the same, small ruling class. Nobody knew who’d penned that particularly insidious page in the Books of Tradition but as a result all three women of the current noble household were married to their first or second cousins.
The genetics of that sort of stunted family tree has never worked out well no matter where it cropped up - either here in Heritage, among the pharos of ancient Egypt or in the Blue Ridge mountains of West Virginia. But the fact still remained that Trinity’s fate had been sealed long before her birth. As the only girl child in the genetically dysfunctional Payne family she had been betrothed to her cousin Malcolm while she was still in the womb. A cozy arrangement to be sure but one that pointedly left Feena out in the heart-numbing cold.
Finally the crowd’s wait was over and something did happen - Trinity showed up. Breathing happily and heavily she ran onto the balcony and slipped into the space left for her beside her cold and grey faced parents. She searched the healthy faces looking up at them from the plaza and grinned when she saw Morden slipping carefully through the crowd to join his parents too - dead heat. Bryony moved aside to make room for her son while she gave him a scornful frown that came over as being less than serious. He grinned at her. Then Bryony looked up to shoot the same sort of disapproving look in Trinity’s direction. Trinity grinned at her too.
The most striking thing about Trinity, now she was standing among them, was that she looked nothing like the rest of the Payne family. Thick, coal black hair framed the unmarred, alabaster skin of her happily flushed face and her bright, intelligent eyes shone with a blue even paler than the ocean that lay on two sides of the city.
Once she was in her place Anwalt Tome, the archaic Keeper of Tradition, glared at her briefly before he started droning and finally another unending, meaningless ceremony got under way. Anwalt was rumored to be as old as the city itself but there was a strangely intense, surprising vigor about him. His still-powerful voice was being further amplified by the cleverly sculpted stone walls around the balcony. “Let us behold the young Lord so that all might bear witness to the powerful but benevolent presence of the next High Lord of Heritage, the future Head of the House of Payne.”
Center stage of this day’s event was eighteen year old Lord Malcolm himself. He was just a bit healthier looking than most of the highborns, his congenital weaknesses were less obvious most of the time because they were all buried between his ears. Somewhat ironically the Traditions dictated that this Coming of Age ceremony should be held, just like they dictated almost everything else that happened around Heritage, so the Outwallers could see the heir to the throne in all his grownup majesty, power - and wisdom.
It was virtually unheard of at these events but things took a lighter turn when Anwalt’s apprentice opened the massive, archaic tome being used for the day’s proceedings. An unexpected gust of wind tore angrily at the pages ripping several of them free. While they tried to escape Eric and Anwalt chased them around the balcony clownishly and the Outwallers below couldn’t miss the rare opportunity to laugh at those above them. Malcolm was delighted with the show but Lady Trinity was the only other person on the balcony who allowed herself to smile at the keepers’ antics. Bryony shot her another look of disapproval but this time the breeziness was all but completely gone from her face.
Anwalt wasn’t used to being laughed at. In fact he didn’t like the sound of laughter no matter in what context it occurred. It wasn’t actually banned by the traditions the way so many other lighthearted things were but he frowned on the ‘ridiculous, coarse practice’. Foolishly thinking he was punishing the crowd for its boorish rowdiness he cut the ceremony short to spite them. Just perfect as far as they were concerned. Following the same ending to the ritual the Keepers had used for untold time Anwalt and Eric interlocked fingers, raised their hands above their heads and recited together. “And thus the joining of hands of the Keepers makes this so in the Name of Tradition for all time.”
As soon as she could do it without attracting any more unwanted attention to herself Trinity was heading for the heavy balcony doors. These led into a weird ceremonial chamber. The walls and floor were dull grey, strikingly plain and boringly efficient to the point of screaming sterility but the room had been oddly stuffed with ridiculously ornate furnishings and garish accessories. Deep crimson tapestries the color of old blood hung everywhere and the loud, gilded wood of tables, chairs and so on filled every possible space. On the other side of this bizarre room lay another door that opened onto the ramparts. Mercifully, these wide bulwarks led in turn to the rest of the city - and freedom from all that mindless jabbering.
Her aunt Feena watched Trinity making her escape and glared. She scowled at her niece with something so dark behind her eyes it must have been festering in her heart for a very long time. And so it had been. Feena’s obsessive hatred for the youngest female member of the Payne family had started before Trinity was even born.
“C’mon Allison…don’t be afraid, I promise I’ll catch you!”
Seventeen-year-old Allison Roberts sat by the pool wearing a new red one- piece bathing suit. She was huddled in a corner on the floor of the huge patio where Jamie Marsden, one of the kids from school threw the biggest pool party she had ever seen. Jamie’s family had money and loved to flaunt it every chance they got and this night was no exception. She shook her head “No” as her boyfriend Joshua Patterson held out his arms to coax her into joining him and their friends in the large pool.
“Allison c’mon! You’re not going to drown, I promise! He shouted to her but as she looked at him…she saw her father standing in the river with his arms stretched out to catch a six-year-old Allison who was learning how to swim for the first time and was terrified of getting into the water.
“C’mon babe!” her father shouted as he motioned for her to jump into his arms. He promised her he would catch her and she trusted him more than anyone in the world, after all, he was indeed her father.
“Don’t let me drown daddy,” Little Allison said as she stood on a rock, prepared to jump.
“I won’t let you drown I promise. On a count of three ok?”
“Ok,” she replied reluctantly.
“One…two. Three!” he said.
Allison then raised her arms like a bird taking flight and jumped, no longer feeling the hard surface beneath her feet anymore but deep, shallow water as it quickly began to cover her face. As the cold water entered her nose she gasped. Her arms and legs moved wildly as she tried to stay afloat.
“Daddy help!” she cried out.
Russ Roberts watched her for two minutes with these dark cold eyes that made Allison’s blood turn colder than the river that began to consume her senses. He didn’t move, he didn’t blink, he didn’t flinch. He just watched his little girl scream and struggle to keep from going under; waving her arms wildly. It was her first time being in open water and she was terrified.
“Daddy!” she cried out.
After five minutes Allison grew tired and couldn’t fight it anymore as she slowly began to feel the weight of her body plummet down to the bottom of the river, salty water filled her mouth and breathing was no longer possible. Soon came darkness as she lost consciousness. Her long, curly blonde hair waved in the water as the fish began to swim around her small form lying still on the river’s surface.
Frozen with fear, she continued to sit on the patio and watch her boyfriend and her friends have fun without her.
“Allison?” Brooklyn repeated as she sat down next to her. They grew up together and had been best friends since kindergarten. She knew Allison better than anyone and knew it was a bad idea for her to come to this party. Brooklyn was a lovely African American girl from Chicago’s northwest side, whose parents moved her to Milwaukee Wisconsin when she was four -years-old. She came from a good family with a doctor for a father and a Singer for a mother who had sung backup for many famous artists throughout her career. It kept her mother away from home a lot and often times put a strain on her parent’s marriage. Brooklyn never noticed just how much of a toll her mother being away so much took on their family. She was too busy trying to battle the daily misery machine called School.
Being one of the few black people in the entire school made Brooklyn feel isolated and alone. If it weren’t for Allison, she probably would’ve killed herself by now. She was a very pretty girl but rarely ever thought so herself. She was a perfect size ten but thought she was too fat. Allison talked her into wearing the yellow bikini they bought during one of their many shopping excursions but she chose the blue one- piece instead. The two girls sat together trying to look like they were having fun, but soon their cover would be blown.
“Where were you just now?” Brooklyn asked.
“The River,” Allison responded.
“You flashbacking again?”
“Was it that obvious? Allison knew she would have been better off staying home and watching a movie on Netflix or something. But it wasn’t every day that you get invited to a party at Jamie Marsden’s house. That was something you just didn’t turn down if you were lucky enough to be invited.
“This party blows…” Brooklyn said as she watched everyone drink and act like complete idiots. Parties were never her thing.
“Josh should’ve known not to ask you to get in the pool, after what your father did to you?” Brooklyn said as she watched him guzzle down a can of beer while talking to one of the guys at the party. Every now and then stealing a glance at Allison, his longtime girlfriend of two years.
“He doesn’t know about that Brook, and don’t you tell him either.”
“Why not, he loves you.”
“He won’t love me so much if he knew about my past.”
“But He’s going to find out eventually.”
“Not until I’m ready for him to know,” she said looking at her.
“Ok, fine. He won’t hear about it from me,” Brook promised.
Jamie and her boyfriend Jake approached the girls, both with a beer in their hands and appearing to be very drunk as they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other; looking like they just had a quickie in one of the bedrooms.
“You girls are killing my party, what’s wrong with you two?” she scolded.
“Hey Jamie,” Allison said as she tried to fake a smile.
“You girls are two of the finest looking bitches at this party,” Jake rattled off while trying to stand up straight.
“Hey!” Jamie shouted as she smacked him upside his head, “What about me dick head?”
“Oh sorry I meant you are the finest looking bitch at this party, is that better?” he corrected.
“Much,” she replied with sarcasm as she dragged him away from the girls and disappeared with him into the house.
Allison and Brooklyn laughed at all of the fakeries at the party. Every guy there was trying to get laid and weren’t even being discreet about it and whatever bullshit they were laying on these girls, seemed to be working. The party raged on until 1:00 am and then people started clearing out leaving Allison and Josh alone to talk as they prepared to go home. Josh was visibly concerned as he watched Allison not having any fun that night. He was hoping she would and felt like bringing her there was a bad idea. He didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. He helped her put on her jacket and lifted her long curly blonde locks to let it cascade down her back. He could smell just a hint of strawberries.
“You should’ve told me you didn’t want to come to this thing Allison. I can’t read your mind.”
“I did want to come until I had to watch you drinking with your friends all night. I guess I have to drive us home now…your too drunk,” Allison couldn’t help but smell the liquor on his breath, but she was kind of used to it now. Josh always
partied hard when he was around his friends, and it was ok with her as long as he didn’t forget she was in the room; like he did that night.
“I’m sorry Ally, I didn’t mean to ignore you. I just thought you wanted to hang out with Brook since she was here to,” he said as he looked into her pale green eyes. Allison then turned away and headed for the parking lot until he stopped her and took her in his arms. His penetrating ocean blue eyes always seemed to stop her in her tracks when he gave her that look, you know the one that says you’re his and no one else’s? And the way he caressed her soft oval face in the most loving way. He really was sorry.
“Hey…will you forgive me, baby?”
Damn, he always knew how to destroy whatever resentment she had for him and his many issues. Even making his issues her issues, but when you are in love with someone you really don’t care. You just deal. He slowly leaned in and allowed his lips to capture hers for a long lingering kiss. When they broke away he smiled and that was it, her anger had melted away.
“I hate you so much,” she said smiling as she put her arms around his waist.
“I know, and I am helplessly in love with you,” he said as they walked to his car.
“The troops are here, Sire.” The butler held his head high and stood in the doorway, hands clasped behind his back. “They have armed themselves and are ready to leave at your command.”
“How many?” the king asked as he put on his uniform, his burgundy hair tucked behind his ears and ready for the helmet he would put on for protection. His blue-green eyes searched for any flaw in his armor.
Every piece shielded him from head to toe in a body vest made of the sturdiest laminated fibers and felt like a second skin upon his tall, muscular body. It would protect him from every form of combat, including fire.
The advancements in technology over the last 3,000 years would be of great benefit to him today. He didn’t just want the best technology science could create and money could buy. He wanted the power to do whatever he wanted. Just as the Second Kingdom had.
Since WWIII, the First Kingdom and Second Kingdom had created a contract to avoid future wars between their two countries. They had divided the remaining land and claimed truce. The remnants of the seven continents were now merged into two.
King Ezra was in charge of the well-being and progress of the First Kingdom. Queen Ada was in charge of the Second. However, news of the Second Kingdom’s advancements into sorcery and magical power made the King twitch for the same. He should be able to possess what they controlled. Otherwise, WWIV was inevitable.
“Approximately 25,000 men from all over the Kingdom, Your Highness. Every man eighteen and over has arrived and trained for what is to come. Are you certain you wish to do this, Sire?”
Blue-green eyes peered at the butler with darkening irises.
“Buford, do you dare question your king?” His voice was sweet and smooth like water steadily pouring over pebbles.
Buford's eyes blinked and moved to the floor. His face scrunched before he shook his head and said, “No, Your Highness.”
“Then kindly tell the men to get into formation and prepare to march. For today, we will defeat the Second Kingdom's power. We will conquer them and unite into one Kingdom.”
“Yes, Sire,” Buford responded, and then walked out into the hall with a shudder.
With head bowed and slow steps, Buford walked down the hallway praying the young king would change his mind. He wasn't the only one who knew the king was walking toward certain death.
Sighing, he opened the doors and motioned to the Secretary of War to step forward, “The king is ready to attack.”
His whispered words were sent with another shudder, and he looked into the dark eyes of the grizzled man before him, exchanging a silent nod and raised brows.
“He won’t be swayed? There has been peace for almost 3,000 years,” the secretary pleaded.
Buford shook his head. The secretary sighed before walking to the edge of the steps to announce the king's command.
The Public Be Damned
Someone tapped my shoulder as I waited for the light to change on the corner of 23rdand Park. "Excuse me, said a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman from today's Political Science class at Manhattan University. "Your name is Kevin, right?"
"Why are you wearing that shirt?"
I glanced down at the image of Shannon Kistler on the front. "Oh-I like her."
"Why?" She winced.
"Adam liked Eve, Romeo liked Juliet, Anthony liked Cleopatra .. .it's a tradition, I guess."
"But her music is juvenile."
"So I've heard."
The streetlight changed, but my classmate stared at me as we crossed Park Avenue. I walked up 23rd Street to the bus stop at the Flatiron Building, my backpack full of newly purchased textbooks. Halfway up the block, a guy in a three-piece suit who talked on a cell phone glanced at my shirt as he walked toward me. "Wait a second," he muttered. "Man," he snarled at me, "I can't believe someone like you put on that shirt."
"And I can't believe someone like you got off your phone to tell me so."
He frowned and walked away as I continued toward Broadway. At the Flatiron Building 1 stood in my usual nook, watching for my express bus home. The sidewalk was practically empty, but I caught the attention of a curly-haired guy, maybe a year or two older than me, strolling toward Union Square with a friend. The guy tapped his friend's shoulder and pointed at me, but I waved him off before he yelled at me.
The traffic on Broadway was as thin as the pedestrians on the sidewalk. The other Staten Island-bound express buses stopped by the building regularly, but my wait for the X12 was always longer for one stupid reason or another. I already spent a whole year waiting for many things, including the bus, and I knew that wouldn't change any time soon, especially with everything I still had to learn about accounting before I got my BBA
An early September breeze blew through my hair as a black limo stopped at the light on 22nd Street. I couldn't guess who was inside-a bridal party, a foreign dignitary, or a corporate big shot. But I was hypnotized by the long car, watching it roll down Broadway and onto 21st Street after the light changed.
"Excuse me," a black man in a parka and a wool hat said, "you got any change to spare?"
"No, I don't. I'm sorry."
"Hey, you don't gotta be sorry, okay? You don't got it, you don't got it. That's all. You don't gotta be sorry for nothin'. People always gettin' into trouble 'cause they sorry for stuff they can't control, and we got all these world problems because people do a lotta shit they sorry about later. And that uses up a lotta energy, you know? They can use that energy to do other stuff."
He clamped a hand on my shoulder, to my horror. "Look, man," he continued, pointing, "you a young guy. You don't need none ofthat shit, okay? You don't gotta worry about nothin' but the rest of your life. You got lotsa time to do whatever you please, and bein' sorry ain't gonna help you. So you don't got the change, you don't got the change, and that's the way it goes. You don't gotta be sorry about it, okay? Don't be sorry. You got it, don't you?"
Yeah. I'm sorry I apologized. I nodded slightly, trying not to roll my eyes.
"Yeah, you get it." He smiled, showing off his yellow teeth. "You get it. You a good guy. Go get yourself some nice pussy." He slapped my shoulder and marched off.
Oh, no, you did NOT use the P-word on me...
"Hey, mister," a girl's voice yelled, "you got a nice shirt on!"
"Thank-YOU!! HOLY SHIT!!" It was Shannon Kistler herself, calling to me from the limousine sitting at the light a few moments ago. She laughed, ducked inside and rolled up the window. I snatched my backpack and chased after her, but the heavy textbooks slowed me down, and she made a swift getaway.
Two minutes later an X12 finally pulled up. "How you doin'?" asked the driver after he opened the doors.
"Hanging in there, thanks," I fumbled, paying the fare.
"School started again?" he asked, pulling away from the curb.
"Yeah," I muttered.
"You don't seem happy about it."
"I had a long day." 1 would've said why 1 really didn't seem happy, but he'd never buy it.
"Well, pick a seat and take a snooze," he said. "You look like you could use it."
''I'm way ahead of you."
He chuckled as I grabbed a window seat and followed his advice.
"Hello, everyone," I said, entering and dropping my backpack on the stairs. "Hi, Kevin," my sixteen-year-old brother Russell and fourteen-year-old sister Stacy sang while they watched television. "Hi, Kevin," Mom said from the kitchen. "How did the first day go?" "Like the last day of last semester." I hung up my sweatshirt, hearing Dad yell on the phone upstairs. "Dinner will be ready soon," Mom announced. "You can take a quick shower." "I did-this morning," 1 said, walking toward the basement door with my backpack. "Another one will make you feel better after today," she said, stirring the tomato sauce.
Isn't she blunt.
In my bedroom a poster of Shannon hung on the wall above my bed, but I still had no idea why I was smitten with her. Last summer's hit "Dream World" was so cheesy, my stomach spun whenever I heard it on the radio. The lyrics contained no creative thought, and I decided it sounded like a rush job. As the hits came off her first CD, though, I became impressed when I found out she not only wrote songs, but she also had a recording studio in her basement.
Although I was surrounded by thousands of other fans at her concert at the Garden State Arts Center this past July, I never felt so isolated in my life. But when Shannon hit the stage, singing with passion and dancing with enthusiasm, I felt like 1 got my money's worth. Some company would've cheered me up about seeing the show, but my friends weren't interested.
I was drawn to a career in the recording industry, so I took a guitar class as a high school freshman and spent the next summer teaching myself more than I already learned in the class. I believed I could hit it big despite the stories I heard of recording artists busting their asses for success. But 9/ 11 reminded me my head belonged on my shoulders instead of in the clouds, so I chose to crunch numbers without giving it much thought.
I still had a flicker of hope for a musical career, but I was astounded by Shannon's confidence and determination, two qualities I sorely lacked if I wanted anyone to respect me as a performer. Of course, being cute as hell didn't hurt her either.
But those qualities I saw in Shannon didn't matter to some Jewish Society members at school. Avi Cohen and Yaakov Friedman, for example, wouldn't shut up about my shirt when they laid eyes on it. Whenever someone entered the office while the three of us were there during the day, Avi and Yaakov pointed me out. They didn't welcome any other members back or ask them about their summers or their classes. The first words out of their mouths were about my clothes. When I left the office in the afternoon for my Political Science class, they were deep into a conversation about Shannon because 1 saluted her.
Whatever their gripes were, I figured they were disappointed because I didn't want to roll in the hay with Shannon. Back in high school I enjoyed talking about girls with my friends during lunch. But when some explicit details crept into the discussion, I was reminded those views of girls would be useless to me in winning someone over. 1 didn't care if the next man let his libido control him, as long as he didn't expect me to behave the same way. After today, though, I was sure Avi and Yaakov wouldn't be the only ones to hold those values against me.
Nor was it the first time anyone instantly disliked me because I followed my heart. When my family and I moved into the condominium in 1991, Russell and I made friends with the other kids while Stacy was still discovering the world around her. Our arrival inspired the other parents to gather the kids together for activities we might do in summer camp: sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and games like Duck Duck Goose and Red Rover. I ate it up.
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Relic Tech (Crax War Chronicles) by Terry W. Ervin II Narrator: James Conlan Series: Crax War Chronicles #1 Published by Gryphonwood Press on 03-03-14 Genres: