YA Scavenger Hunt #129

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Welcome treasure hunters! 

Queen Heir is FREE today only, grab it while you still can.

The Red Queen has fallen. Four heirs will battle it out for the crown. May the best shifter win.

AU – http://amzn.to/2hh1aau
UK – http://amzn.eu/g6DJ2Y8
US – http://a.co/6vYveDA



You can also win these three books by leaving a comment on my Facebook page here.

Gratitude Giveaway!!! Who wants these??? Comment below what you are grateful for and I will pick a winner! *Giveaway has nothing to do with Facebook.

Posted by Leia Stone Author on Tuesday, May 30, 2017


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The secret keyword #129 is….




Good luck, thanks for visiting!

PS. Make sure you read the rules and find the treasure map for the scavenger hunt here: www.theYAshelf.com/jointhehunt

Matefinder 3 : Balance up for presale!

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Balance is LIVE and has been in the top 500 all week!

Click here to get your copy on Amazon.

Here’s the summary:

Ever since Kai revealed the supernatural race to the humans, riots and chaos have reigned down on Mount Hood. Aurora is going crazy just sitting around and waiting for Layla to show up so that Aurora can finish her task and kill her, bringing peace to her pack. Kai does everything in his power to keep Aurora safe and confined on the heavily guarded mountain. But he should know that no one can really keep Aurora from the things she wants in life. She is determined to find Layla and end this war, forever. But at what cost?

Now go get it!











Matefinder 3 page Prequel =)

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So I decided to give my readers a little snippet of BEFORE the car accident. This new little snippet has been added to the first chapter and is now a part of the Matefinder book for people just now buying it. I’m making the changes free here for anyone who wants to see.




My black Jetta’s headlights lit up the dark night as I crept up the winding road that led to Mount Hood. My roommate had convinced me to take a break from my hectic life and go stay at her parents’ vacation home on the mountain. I still wore the yoga pants and tight crop top I had on from teaching my women’s self-defense class. I pulled into a gas station to grab a coffee. It was near midnight and the hour drive to Mount Hood from Portland was making me fall asleep.

I stepped out into the light falling of rain and jogged across the parking lot, clutching my credit card and keys. Jumping up on the curb, I tripped and dropped my keys but caught myself before face planting. As I bent down to grab my keys, the glass door opened. Afraid of getting stepped on, I stood quickly and came face to face with a gorgeous guy in his mid-twenties. He was a mere six inches from me and we were locked in an intense stare. His had medium-dark East Indian skin. His wild chocolate colored hair framed his strong jaw, he stood over six feet tall and was made from rock hard muscle. He was shirtless and wearing cut off sweatpants, and I tried my hardest not to completely check him out. Was that an 8 pack? I blushed as he caught me looking.

“Hi.” He flashed a gorgeous smile full of white teeth and dimples.

I swallowed hard. “Hi.” The air was heavy with some sort of tangible connection.

A dirty blonde haired, equally gorgeous guy behind him clapped him on the shoulder. “Shall we get back to our run?” the friend asked.

Snapped from my trance, I smiled weakly and brushed past him. As his arm skin brushed against mine, I felt my stomach warm. Damn, how long had it been since I’d been with a guy? My hormones were going crazy. Down girl. This guy could have been an axe murderer for all I knew.

The door shut behind me and I poured my coffee. After paying for it, I walked back out to my car to see the two guys were walking into the thick woods and out of my sight. Not many people roamed the mountain after midnight. Hmm weird. Maybe they lived nearby.

I sipped my coffee and sighed. Thirty more minutes and I would be snuggled up in my mountain retreat, hopefully drinking wine and not coffee.

I pulled back out onto the main road. It was single lane and windy. A thick fog had settled on the ground, leaving me low visibility. Typical Oregon weather. I kept thinking about that guy, he seemed different. Maybe I should have stayed and talked to him. The road curved up ahead and I glanced at the clock on my dash for a split second. When I looked back up, I spotted a mother deer with two babies right in front of me. SHIT! I didn’t think, I just reacted. I slammed on my brakes and swerved hard to the left and then my car was airborne, flying off the mountain.

Car accidents are so weird. They take seconds to the observer but when you’re in them, they feel really long and drawn out. My car was airborne and I knew this was bad. It was going to be a horrible accident and there was nothing I could do. Why the hell did I have to be a vegetarian? A meat-eater might have taken those deer out no problem. My car hit the ground with such force that my head cracked into the dash and all went black.

I came to and realized I was hanging halfway out the open car door. I felt a warm wet sensation in my abdomen and screamed when I saw a thick tree branch protruding from it. Oh God. No.

Footsteps caught my attention and I looked up to see someone, that guy from the gas station. His eyes were wide and … yellow? I was starting to feel faint and cold.

Suddenly the man dropped his pants, standing completely naked before me. What the hell!? Before I could process his nakedness, his body transformed right before my eyes. All of a sudden he was… a huge, black wolf, standing on all fours.

I was hallucinating, this was what happened before you died. You entered some insane dream world. He padded over to me with those yellow eyes and bared his teeth.

“No, please,” I whimpered. There was so much I wanted to do with my life, so much. As he lunged for me, a scream ripped from my throat and pain exploded in my body where his teeth clamped down.

‘Mine,’ his voice in my head took hold before I collapsed again.


I never asked for this. To be changed. To be on the brink of death, waiting for release from the pain, only to wake and find out I was a monster, an impossible thing, an animal. The thought was funny, really. As I lay there going in and out of consciousness, I laughed. I was a vegetarian. I couldn’t be a werewolf, I just couldn’t. But there was no denying what I was becoming. I could feel my inner wolf lingering inside me, waiting to break the surface.

That’s when a steely voice broke through my thoughts. His voice, my savior and my maker. ‘You are a werewolf and you’re mine.’  My insides turned over at the mental invasion. Yet, it felt like he was a part of me. ‘Pack.’ Something inside me whispered. The searing pain that burned on my abdomen threatened to make me go unconscious again.

“Stay with me. Please survive,” his voice said aloud this time, and I felt a hand cup my face. The last thing I thought of before losing consciousness again was the memory of my body lying by the winding road that led to Mt. Hood. Of the tall dark man that changed into a werewolf and ripped me to shreds with his teeth.

I awoke some time later and sat up, fully expecting to be sore or to have stitches all over my body; bandages, a cast, something. I looked down and saw my pale skin. I had a t-shirt on and it smelled like him. I pulled it up and traced my fingers along the white jagged scar that marked my belly. That’s where he bit me first. Other than that bite mark, my skin was flawless. I looked around. I was in a simple room. There were hardwood floors, a small bed and a dresser.

My mind flashed back to the scene, to last night. The dark-skinned man that turned into a… a wolf, and attacked me. Well, that wasn’t quite right. I had been in an accident. Oh god, it was bad. I grabbed my head remembering the pain I had felt. My leg had been twisted at an odd angle. Blood had poured freely from my abdomen. I was waiting to die. If I hadn’t tried to swerve and miss that deer, I wouldn’t have crashed my Jetta. What do they tell you? Swerve into the mountain? Away from the mountain? Don’t swerve? Hit the deer? I couldn’t remember, and I was a vegetarian, so I had gone on instinct. My instinct said not to hit the cute baby deer, and it got me killed. Well… I would have died but then He attacked me. He changed me. I knew it. I could feel it. I was like him. I was….. a shapeshifter?

‘You’re a werewolf.’ The man spoke into my mind, and I jumped startled and looked around. My heart was racing. I looked down at my body once more. No marks other than the bite mark on my stomach. I healed, like in the movies. Like Hollywood werewolves do. I wanted to believe that it was all a hallucination but I couldn’t deny the facts. I had been near death, horribly injured and then he… bit me. Now, here, I stood fully healed. A soft knock came at the door and I covered my legs, which were bare.

“Come in?” I said, unsure. It’s not like it was my room. A girl who looked to be about twenty years old poked her head in. She had bright red hair that was cut in a short pixie style and spiked up all over with long bangs in front. She had a heart-shaped face and green eyes. ‘Pack,’ I thought, and shivered at the new feelings. The voice.

“Hi,” she said tentatively as she came in and softly closed the door behind her. In her hand was a bag.

“Hi,” I croaked back, unsure of what to say.

She tossed the bag onto the bed. “We seem to be the same size, so I hope they fit.” She gestured with her hands as I opened the bag and saw clean clothes and a pair of flip-flops.


“Kai sent me to check on you. To help you get accustomed. I can’t believe you survived.” She sat at the edge of the bed.

“Kai?” Somehow the name resonated deep inside me.

“The guy who saved your life. Our Alpha.” She seemed unsure of what to say next.

Hottie 8-pack gas station guy was my new Alpha?  My stomach dropped. Everything I had ever heard or read about Alphas was not good.

“Does he own us?” I shuttered at the thought. I worked very hard to get my college degree and become an independent woman. The last thing I needed, on top of becoming a flesh-eating monster, was to have some psycho hopped on steroids bossing me around.

The girl barked out a laugh. “Well, that’s funny. I hadn’t thought of it that way. He protects us, keeps us safe from rival packs and others. Keeps us fed, happy, and takes care of all of our needs. He keeps peace within the pack. He’s a good Alpha, the strongest man in the pack. We’re lucky to have him. My name is Emma.”

She held out her hand to me. I shook it. I noticed she didn’t exactly answer my question. “I’m Aurora. You will have to excuse me but… twenty four hours ago werewolves didn’t exist to me.”

She looked at me with pity. “I’m sure it’s hard to believe. Want me to shift and prove it?”

My eyes went wide. “No, I’m good.”

Seeing it once was enough for now and I hated to admit that I felt something lurking just beneath the surface of my skin. My wolf. It was a knowing that needed no proof. I was different and there was no going back. Oh God.

“How old are you?” she inquired.

“Twenty-two, how old are you?” I enjoyed the normalcy of the question.

“Nineteen.” She sat there in silence for a few minutes biting her lip. “Look, I’m sorry about your accident. This must be really overwhelming. I can take you out to meet the others but first we should go over some things. Kind of like werewolf 101.”

“Werewolf 101?” I queried.

“Yeah, let’s start with the rules. When you’re around Kai, you don’t look him directly in the eyes for more than a few seconds. You actually wouldn’t be able to hold a staring contest with him; it’s physically impossible for less dominant wolves. You don’t want him to think you are challenging his strength to lead us. How’re you doing, you okay?”

I picked this odd moment to think of my roommate and my mother. How worried they must be that they hadn’t heard from me. “When can I go home?” I asked shakily.

Emma’s face fell. “Aurora, you’re pack now.” She rested her hand on my knee and it felt oddly comforting.

‘Pack,’ a small voice inside me said and I tried not to jump.

“You can’t leave. Kai wouldn’t let you. If he cut ties with you, then you wouldn’t last a week as a lone wolf before another pack found you. Female werewolves are rare. Most of them don’t survive the change and only a handful are born to werewolf couples. If another pack claimed you, they might not treat you properly. Kai’s pack is respectful of females, they cherish us, protect us. Not all packs are like that.” Something dark crossed her face but before I could figure it out, it was gone.

“I can’t go home. I can’t stare the Alpha in the eye. Okay, keep going.” I took a deep breath. Werewolves existed. I was one of them. I would have been dead if Kai hadn’t changed me. I couldn’t go home. Okay. Just breathe.

Emma nodded. “That small voice you are probably hearing, that’s letting you know that I’m pack, or that you’re in danger. That’s your wolf, your instinct. She will barely speak to you now but as you get to know her better and trust her more, you and she will become one.”

I could only nod.

Emma smiled. “You’re doing great. Now that big booming voice in your head, that’s Kai. He can pick up on your thoughts, emotions, and he can speak directly into your mind. You’ll get used to it. In a moment, I want you to change into the clothes I brought you. Then I’m going to take you out to meet everyone and we can establish your place in the pack. The sooner we do that, the better off everyone will feel.”

“My place?” I could feel something inside me thrumming with excitement. My inner wolf, I recognized.

“Every pack functions smoothly because we all have a place in the pack. There’s no need for me to get into a dominance battle with Sadie because I know she’s ninth in the pack of dominants. I’m twenty-sixth; the last and most submissive wolf. Everyone protects me and that’s my place. That’s where I feel most comfortable. That’s why Kai sent me in here, so that there was no chance that your inner wolf would feel threatened.”

I nodded. Something about what she said felt right. I would go out there, establish my place and then talk to Kai about my old life. I needed to at least call my mother… and my roommate, Lexi.

“And how do I establish my place?” I stared into Emma’s green eyes.

She quickly lowered hers after a few seconds. She swallowed hard. “A staring contest. You will start with me. If I lower my eyes first, then you are more dominant than I am and you move to the next person in the pack and so on and so on. You do this until you lower your eyes. Then we all know your place. No fights. Kai runs a clean pack.”

I nodded. That didn’t seem so hard.

She elbowed me. “I can already tell you are more dominant than me. For a human female to survive the change, you have to at least be in the middle. You might even be higher than Sadie.” She grinned like that would bring her immense joy.

I felt nauseous. “Well, you survived, so you must be pretty strong, too.” I added, trying to make her feel better.

“Oh, Aurora, I wasn’t changed. I was born this way. Both of my parents are wolves.”

“Oh. Well, how many females do you have in the pack that have survived the change?” My heart raced in anticipation.

She fiddled with her hands. “Just you.”

Emma cocked her head to the side. “Kai says everyone is waiting, so go get dressed, okay?” She smiled sweetly.

I picked up my new clothes and went to get dressed. It was time to do a staring contest.

When Emma led me out of the room, I realized we were in a huge house that overlooked Mt. Hood. The ceilings were vaulted with exposed wood beams, and one of the living room’s walls was entirely made of glass. I could see through the glass that a large gathering of people stood outside. They were all lined up in a row and talking. Once I came closer and Emma led me outside, they became silent.

‘Pack. Pack. Pack,’ my inner wolf chanted.

I scanned the faces. Some smiled at me, some scowled. Then my eyes rested on Him. Kai. I glanced at his chestnut eyes and then quickly looked down towards his full lips remembering Emma’s advice not to meet his eyes. If I wasn’t feeling like I had been abducted by aliens and taken to a new werewolf planet, I might actually admit that my new Alpha was extremely sexy. His lips smirked up to a smile and I realized the other thing Emma had said, that he could read my emotions, my thoughts. Just kill me. His smirk disappeared and he stepped forward placing a warm, possessive hand on my shoulder. Emma took her place at the end of the line.

“Brothers and sisters, a new pup has joined our ranks!” His voice commanded attention and oozed with power. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. “This strong female survived a horrific accident and the change. I feel your anxiety about her. Is she submissive, should I protect her? Is she dominant, more dominant than me? Could she be my mate? I think it’s best to establish her place before we have celebrations to welcome her. This will ease your minds.”

I balked inside when he said mate but kept my face a mask of calm. Werewolves could smell fear, right? Well, I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.

Kai walked me towards the end of the line to where Emma stood. She smiled.

“Emma, you have explained how this will go?” Kai spoke to her as if she was a cherished little sister, something to protect.

She nodded. “…and you can start with Sammy. I already know she’s more dom than me.”

Kai let go of my shoulder and Sammy stepped forward. He looked about fourteen years old and had blonde hair and brown eyes. I stared, heart pounding, not out of fear but out of nerves. Where would I fall in the pack? What would it mean? If I was low, did that make me weak? If I was high, did that make me more of a monster than I already thought I was? After about five seconds, Sammy looked down. Sweat beaded on his forehead and I wondered if that was from me. I went to the next person. A tall and lanky man with kind eyes stepped forward. After a few seconds he, too, looked down. Sweat shown on his brow as well. I kept moving up the line. Once I got to the middle, I could hear murmuring.

‘Silence.’ Kai commanded. It was so alien to hear someone speak in my mind.

I looked back at Kai, unsure.

“Keep going, Aurora. You’re doing exactly what Emma and I told you. Don’t worry.”

I turned to face the next person and then the next, until I met who I assumed to be Sadie. She was ninth from the top of the pack and had long, ink black hair and medium dark skin. She looked Native American. Maybe mixed. She was beautiful, exotic. As we stared, I began to feel my pulse pick up the longer we locked eyes. A bit of sweat beaded on my upper lip but Sadie looked down after about ten seconds. She was panting. She cursed under her breath and shot me a death look. She wasn’t happy about my place in the pack being above hers. I swallowed hard and moved on.

It began to get harder to hold their gaze but I was able to. Three pack members from the top, whispers had started. Kai had to quiet everyone multiple times. He kept reassuring me that I was doing fine and needed to continue. I continued on until I was standing in front of the last man. It was the guy that was with Kai at the gas station. He was tall, broad shouldered and his arms were littered with scars. What would be so bad that it would scar a werewolf? His ice blue eyes met mine. He stepped forward and puffed up his chest.

“My name is Max and I have been Kai’s second in command for forty-six years.” His voice could cut paper. I swallowed. Forty-six years? He didn’t look a day over twenty-five, neither did Kai. Kai put his hand on Max’s shoulder.

“My name is Max and I have been Kai’s second in command for forty-six years.” His voice could cut paper. I swallowed. Forty-six years? He didn’t look a day over twenty-five, neither did Kai. Kai put his hand on Max’s shoulder.

“Yes you have, and a great second you have been. I know this is a bit of a shock to all of us, to have a newly changed female so high up in the pack. As you know, nothing will feel settled with you about Aurora until we know how dominant she is. Your wolf will wonder if you could take her in a fight and I can’t have that. Not in my pack. Max, Aurora. Continue.”

I was already sweating because the last two stare downs had been very difficult. I felt like looking down multiple times but I didn’t. Not before they did. But with Max I was scared. What would this mean? If I was more dominant than him would I become the second in command of some new pack I knew nothing about? Some life I didn’t ask for? Maybe I should just look down halfway through so I didn’t have to deal with this.

‘If you do that, his wolf will always wonder where you stand, and a fight will break out eventually.’ Kai. In my head. Great. I stepped forward. I had to be brave or at least try to be. I looked Max in the eyes. I didn’t blink. I barely breathed. After about thirty seconds he started panting and I began to feel weak in the knees. I felt the strongest urge to bow my head in submission. I pushed the urge back. I was strong.

I had been through a lot in my short twenty-two years on this planet, enough to give me a thick skin. I’d been through things that still gave me nightmares. Things no person should ever have to endure. I didn’t know what this meant for my future; didn’t know what being a werewolf meant for what I had planned for my life but it was better than being dead, and if Kai hadn’t saved me, I would be. If being this high up in the pack was where I was meant to be, then I would be. I stared. He stared. Sweat broke out on my forehead and his as well. He bit his lip and with a grunt he dropped his eyes, bowing his head down low.

I took a step back, startled. I wiped my forehead and tried to catch my breath. Max looked at Kai and something unspoken seemed to pass between them. Anger was coming off of Max in waves. Kai nodded slightly and Max scowled at me and then took off running into the woods. He shed his shirt and slowly changed into his wolf form, his body was contorting and cracking. I sucked in a breath at the sight and turned to see Kai open his arms wide.

“Brothers and sisters, I welcome Aurora into my pack as my second in command.”

There was murmuring among the wolves. ‘Pack,’ they told me, as they looked me up and down. Kai’s warm body pushed up against me as he whispered in my ear. “You have their inner wolves’ respect. Any one of them would die in a fight for you, but now you need to get their human side’s respect. That’s a whole other ballgame as you Americans like to say.” His breath against my neck made my stomach drop, but his words flushed cold water through my veins.

“Let’s eat! Steaks are on the grill out back,” Kai announced and motioned for us to move to the back of the house. My inner wolf was pleased with our new place in the pack. I was scared shitless.

Water Blessed

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First Chapter of my new book Water Blessed.


I tossed and turned all night, too warm in my mud hut to get any restful sleep. The summer had come and we hadn’t had rain in 211 days. I sat up and wrapped a cloth loosely around my slender frame. I didn’t put on undergarments, so the breeze could flow through the thin fabric and offer me some relief from the heat. My mouth was parched. I swallowed and my tongue felt swollen. I crept through the mud hut, careful not to wake my mother’s husband. His anger streak seemed to always be pointed at me. I grabbed the ladle and took one small spoonful of water, tipping my head back and gulping it down in one big swallow. The pot was nearly empty. I would leave the rest for my mother, her husband, and his second wife. I exited my mud hut and looked to the sky. The sun was still asleep as I gripped the three large steel water pots in my hands from our front porch.
My best friend, Lake, was trudging down the dirt road of our village with five huge pots. I loaded my pots on my head, balanced perfectly after years of practice, and met up with her.
“Lake, five pots is too many. You will never make the four-hour journey home with that much water,” I scolded her.
She looked weary. It had been a month since she was sold as a water wife. Her new husband was not kind. Men in our village took wives, up to five each, with the sole purpose of fetching water from the crowded and dangerous water well that was hours away.
She strained to carry the three pots on her head and two in her arms. “Rain is sick. I have to manage five today or my husband will beat me.”
I sucked in a breath and took one of the pots from her. “Lake, you said he was mean, not that he beat you. Tell your parents. We will manage the extra pots together for today.”
Our families sold us as young as fourteen to be water wives, but the men were expected to treat us well. My mother was holding out. She wanted better for me. At eighteen winters old, I was pushing it. She would have to agree to a deal soon. Water wives had a shelf life. It was hard work and took its toll on our bodies.
Lake’s lip quivered. Her long mousy brown hair was tied in a knot at the base of her neck so it would not interfere with pot balance. Her hazel eyes looked sad. Being a water wife did not serve my friend well. Rage boiled up inside of me. Was this what my best friend deserved after walking twenty miles a day to fetch water for her husband? Water wives were supposed to be cherished. They brought life to the family.
“Ocean, what do you expect me to do? I’m seventeen winters old, a third wife and I have no skills,” she pleaded with me. The tone in her voice, defeat; it broke my heart.
I sighed, resigned. “We’ll figure something out,” I told her and began walking the ten miles through the driest, hottest stretch of land in the realm. I looked out at the sea of brown. Dry, flat dirt for as far as the eye could see.
We made small talk on the walk over. My tongue was beginning to swell with thirst and the sun had completely risen.
“It’s getting too hot to do day walks, we should try to do our water collection at night for the rest of the summer.” Lake groaned.
Sweat was pouring down both of our backs. The cloth covering my body was soaked and sticking to my skin.
I managed a laugh. “We would be killed. Two young women at the watering hole at night?” I shivered. She knew the stories of the thugs that policed the watering hole at night. She knew what happened to me; what I had endured. No thank you. I will take my chance with the sun.
Within a mile from the watering hole, I realized Lake wasn’t beside me. I turned around to see her sitting against her large pots, head drooped. I dropped the pot in my hand and lowered the three from my head and ran to her.
“Are you hurt? What’s wrong? Is it the heat death?” I fawned over her, feeling her head.
She shook her head and stared out into the flat, arid land, void of any green, of any beauty.
“Ocean?” she asked me, “will this be my whole life? Will I just fetch water for a husband who beats me until the heat death takes me?”
I seized her in a hug as tears somehow managed to fall from my parched skin.
“Oh, Lake.” I had no hope to give her. Then something struck me.
“The Summer Solstice festival is tomorrow night. It’s been twenty years since the Fates gifted us with a Water Blessed. Maybe it will be you.” The second the words left my lips, a glimmer of hope twinkled in her eye.
“Really?” She pleaded with her eyes.
I nodded. Every woman in my village was named after a body of water in hopes of gaining favor with the Fates. For every twenty years, the power to create water from nothing was given to a young girl. Lake stood with renewed energy and hope. She balanced her pots on her head and began the final walk to the watering hole. I smiled. It was a nice thought. To be given such a power would be worth all of the jewels in Jewel Mountain. Water was life, to have it, to create it at will. It made you a God.
I caught up to Lake at the watering hole. The line was long. We stood for more than an hour and finally Lake was next. She disrobed and soaked her cloth to wear on the walk back. Some of the village boys and the water thugs stared at her naked breasts. I unhooked the blade from the holster attached to my inner thigh and let the sun glint off the steel edge. I shined the light in a thug’s face. He raised an arm to block the light, and looked at me.
I gave him a stony-faced expression, any kindness at the watering hole was mistaken for weakness. His name was Marques, and he had a long scar on his forearm to remember me by. And I had a stolen innocence to remember him by. Some girls went to bed with the watering hole thugs willingly, some were forced. My stepfather was a village elder and paid the thugs to keep other villages away, but they still wanted to have their fun with the girls. Not Lake. Not me. Never again.
When Lake had dressed and filled all of her pots, it was my turn. I filled my pots and disrobed. I kept my eyes on Marques as I soaked my cloth. His gaze roamed the length of my body and he licked his lips.
“How’s your arm?” I taunted him and wrapped my body in the cool wet cloth.
He sneered. “If your stepfather wasn’t an elder, I would have my way with you every day.”
“One time was enough to make me sick,” I told him, as some of the other thugs laughed. He lunged for me but I was quick. I whipped out my knife and had it wedged between his legs before he could do anything. I could smell his sweaty skin and acidic breath. I wanted to kill him, but politics kept me from it.
“If you touch me again, I will take your manhood. Not in the way you want,” I threatened. I hate that this was who I had become. It was the only way to get respect at the watering hole. He spat into one of my water pots and backed off.
I rolled my eyes and stacked my full pots on top of my head. The extra pot, I grasped in my arms and hugged to my body. I had never made the walk with four large pots, neither had Lake.
I followed her back up the hill and we began our trek home, passing many other women from our village.
It took us nearly twice as long with the extra pots. They were heavy and women we passed earlier while leaving the watering hole, passed us going home. I groaned as we finally made it to Lake’s hut. My arms felt like rubber, my neck was stiff. I wanted nothing more than to collapse and drink an entire water pot on my own.
“Thank you.” Lake hugged me. “You’re a good friend, Ocean.”
I was too tired to speak, so I smiled instead.
I took my three pots home and my stepfather, Bernie, was waiting for me. He didn’t look happy. Lake’s husband, Byron, was sitting with him. Why was he here? My mother was cooking dinner and my stepfather’s second wife, Creek, was sweeping the floors.
“There you are, Ocean!” my stepfather roared.
I set down the water and bowed. “I’m sorry, I had to help Lake carry an extra pot. Rain is sick.”
Lake’s husband looked drunk. “Rain passed away from the heat death today. May the Fates keep her soul.”
“May the fates keep her soul,” my stepfather echoed.
My hand went to my mouth. Poor Rain. She was older than us, just by a few winters. Far too young to meet death. Lake would be crushed.
“Byron is here to offer us something.” The gleam in my stepfather’s eye made me nervous. My mother and I shared a look. Oh please, no.
Byron sloppily pulled out a parchment ledger. “I would like to take Ocean as my new water wife. I can offer you three sacks of wheat, five sacks of potatoes, one live oxen and ten full pots of water.”
My mother dropped a pan in the kitchen and it crashed to the floor. My stepfather glared at her.
The wind had been taken out of me. I couldn’t speak. I knew a proposal would come. We had two already, but this offer was good. Too good. No one had ever paid so much for a water wife. Ten water pots. Poor Lake would be trudging to the watering hole twice a day to stock up for that. Byron was the only farmer in our village. He hoarded his family’s secret about how to plant and yield crop in drought conditions. All of the younger men worked for him and his land was at least a thousand oxen wide and two thousand long. He was a rich bastard and everyone did what he said. I never expected an offer from him.
I cleared my throat and approached the subject carefully.
“Stepfather, who will fetch your water?” I asked sweetly.
My stepfather gave me a glare that told me I would be getting a belting later. “Your mother or Creek. They have become lazy since you began fetching anyway.”
I looked at my mother’s mangled hands, the hump at the back of her neck. She was too old and tired to be a water wife. She had done her days of fetching water. No! Anger boiled up inside me.
My stepfather shook hands with Byron. “The wedding will commence next full moon,” he agreed.
“I haven’t said yes,” I told them incredulously. My fists balled.
“Dear, let’s talk in private, as a family, before we give Master Byron an answer,” my mother pleaded and rubbed her husband’s shoulders.
He threw her hand off. “You’re lucky I married you and took your daughter as my own after your husband died,” he told my mother. “She’s become a burden. I’m agreeing to the deal.” He nodded to Byron. That was that. No more would be said or there would be hell to pay. Unless I could afford my own hut, food, and water, which I couldn’t, I had no say.
Byron stood and approached me, his eyes scanned my long, dark, black hair, my emerald green eyes, down my sun-kissed skin and then to my full breasts. I wanted to vomit. That disgusting man would never be my husband. How had Lake’s parents agreed to him? He was at least forty-five winters old. I was younger than his own daughter.
He smiled and left.
My mother grabbed some dirty kitchen utensils and looked at me. “Ocean, help me with the washing.”
I followed my mother to the back of our hut and outside into the small courtyard. It was a luxury to have an enclosed private space. My stepfather being on the elder council had its perks.
My mother poured some precious water into the cleaning basin and washed the utensils. I sat near her, ready for her counsel. Ready for her to tell me to be a good water wife and do the only thing that a woman could do in our village. Fetch water.
“Tomorrow, during the revelry of the summer solstice, the men will be drowning in mead, the village will be bustling,” she told me.
I nodded. My arms and legs were sore from carrying the extra pot with Lake. My mother leaned in very close, her faint whisper could barely be heard. “That’s when you will sneak away.”
My mouth dropped open in shock. I sat rigid, unsure if I heard her correct.
She continued, “Take my traveling canteen, some food, and your stepfather’s gold Kings Coin. You can reach the city of Mule in two nights’ brisk walk. The darkness will cloak you at night and you can sleep in the day to avoid the sun. You’re strong and good with your blade. You can fight off a thug or two, pay them the Kings Coin if you must.”
“Mother, what are you saying?” Had she lost her mind? Mule was far. If I made it, once there what would I do? Mule had their own water well in town. They guarded it and had no need for water fetchers. I had no other skills. I had also never heard of anyone who traveled to Mule in the hot summer. People died on that walk.
She grabbed my face and stared into my eyes. Looking at her green eyes and ink black hair peppered with strands of silver, I realized how much we looked alike. My mother was beautiful once, but the sun and hard work had taken its toll.
“I’m saying I want more for you. Sell your hair, get an apprenticeship with a seamstress or try to sell your paintings at market. Anything but being a water wife. Anything.” Tears rolled down her face and left tracks in her dusty skin.
My throat pinched. “What about you and Lake? Bernie will kill you.”
“Lake and I will be fine. We both want a better life for you. I will play coy with your stepfather and the elders. I will disown you. Say you acted without my knowledge.”
Even though it was a lie, hearing her casually say she would disown me, hurt. Disowning someone in my village was the worst thing you could do and brought great dishonor to the family. But something else stirred inside of me. Could I really? Could I get an apprenticeship? Learn a trade? Sell my paintings? A thrill of excitement washed through me. My mother saw it in my eyes. I nodded. Stream, a sixteen-winters-old girl, once left the village five years ago. The elders said she died in the Death Valley before making it to Mule, but her mother told differently. She had made it to Mule, fell in love with a cobbler’s son and they got married, for love not for water.
“Okay, Mama,” I told her with certainty.
She cupped my face sadly. “Okay.”
Because I knew how horrible Byron was, I didn’t think I could leave Lake. If I left alone, unmarried, no one would come for me. If I took Lake with me, Byron would send for her, we would be found. The smart thing to do would be to leave without her. I tossed and turned all night and finally in the early hours, sleep took me.

Pre-order here

Happy dance!

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I have some amazing big news to share with you all! The Matefinder series has been optioned for film by a Hollywood producer and will be made into a major motion picture. A more formal announcement with press release to follow next week but I have been dying to share this news! This is all because of you, my readers, so thank you for the support. I will keep you posted on this movie deal every step of the way. <3 Much Love.

Water Blessed

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I have put a new book up for Pre-order on Amazon. I wrote it in between Matefinder 2 and 3. It’s Novella length and an interesting, fun read. Hope you enjoy!

Water Blessed
Ocean lives in a world where water is scarce. Her village names all of their females after water, in hopes of gaining favor with the Fates. For every 20 years a Water Blessed is chosen. Someone who can create water at will. Men take multiples water wives with the sole purpose of fetching water 10 miles away from the dangerous and crowded well. When Ocean finds herself being auctioned off to the highest bidder, Seth, a royal knight, changes her life forever. But what the Fates have in store for Ocean might prove too much and sometimes love isn’t enough.


Book 3

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I have received TONS and TONS of emails, posts, and comments about anticipating book three. I love the excitement! I am currently writing it! Half way through. Hang tight. I have some other things in the works that have taken up some time but more on that later. I will keep you guys updated! <3