Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Vampire's Descent Chapter One Reveal!


Hey, everyone! I'm super excited to share the first chapter of Vampire's Descent with you today! I hope you enjoy.

Vampire's Descent
Jennifer Snyder

*Copyright 2017 Jennifer Snyder*

CHAPTER ONE

MASON


Drunk and disorderly. There was no other way to describe the group of three young women walking toward me. Even if their words hadnt been slurred or their movements erratic and sloppy, I wouldve known they were wasted. The sharp scent of liquor saturated the air around them.
What were they thinking walking around Willow Harbor this time of night smashed?
I bent to tie my loose bootlaces. My gaze drifted to the three women involuntarily as they neared me. Their drunken giggles became louder and their slurred words less muffled. Id seen each of them around town before. They were human. Well, possibly witches. It was hard to tell. All except for one. She was a shifter. Her scent reeked of not only alcohol but also animal. It was a musky scent Id come to recognize since moving here.
Willow Harbor was filled with supernatural creatures. It was considered a relatively safe place for us, but on a night like tonight—when the moon was full—there were destined to be all sorts of creatures lurking in the shadows. This was why I was shocked at the lack of caution the three young women displayed. Supernaturals could be tempted enough to act on their basic instincts on a night like tonight.
I shook my head as the girls wobbled down the sidewalk. Part of me wanted to escort them to wherever they were going, but a larger part knew they wouldnt feel any safer with me around.
I inhaled a deep breath, more out of habit than necessity, and crossed the street. A thud behind me had me glancing over my shoulder. One of the three women had fallen onto her hands and knees. Her friends struggled to help her up, but in their frame of mind, their efforts werent doing much good. I debated rushing over to see if she was okay, but decided against it when laughter burst past her lips. Her friends giggled along with her as they attempted to help her to a standing position. I started walking again, but a scent had me pausing mid-step.
Blood.
I spun around to face the three again, faster than the naked eye could follow. Blood dripped from the womans left knee. Its sweet scent infused the air as it trickled down her shin. My heart pounded against my rib cage as my eyes zeroed in on it. The prick of my fangs descending reminded me I should look away, but I found it impossible.
Hey, what are you looking at?one of the two friends shouted.
My gaze snapped to her. She was the shifter in the group. Of course she was.
Her eerily bright eyes watched me with animalistic intent. I got the impression she was waiting for me to make a move toward her friend. I forced my fangs to retract and attempted to smooth my expression. Dull pain pulsed through my mouth from the gesture. I tore my eyes away from them and swallowed hard.
Yeah, thats what I thought, vampire,the shifter muttered, knowing I could hear her across the distance even though her friends might not be able to.
I crammed my hands into the front pockets of my jeans and kept my eyes glued to the sidewalk as I walked. A chilly breeze laced with the briny scent of salt water ruffled my hair, jolting me even more out of my trance. It was early spring in Willow Harbor. A time when the earth couldnt make up its damn mind what temperature it wanted to be. Not even this far south. So far, even the coast of South Carolina seemed to have four distinct seasons. While Id only been in Willow Harbor for a year, I’d already learned as much.
The cold didnt bother me, though. Neither did the heat.
Another gust of salty wind kicked up as I passed under the long, drooping branches of the gigantic willow tree located near the center of town. My gaze drifted over its thick, twisting trunk and spindly branches. I watched them shift and sway. For a moment, it seemed as though the tree was acknowledging my presence.
Who knew, maybe it was.
Energy stemmed from the tree. The same could be said about the water of the channel flowing near its base. I didnt understand the ancient energy, but there was no denying it was there. The tree and the water were special. Every supernatural in town knew this, even if they didnt understand the logistics behind it.
I damn sure didn’t.
A branch brushed against my face as I crossed over the footbridge. Comfort trickled through my system, a reminder I was safe in here. It was all because of the tree. I could feel it. Something about it protected those of us living here. It hid the town from prying humans, and I swore it kept most of the riffraff out too. Maybe not all, but most. It was almost as though the tree drew the right people to the town; it pulled in the ones who belonged here.
I kept my head down as I passed the library, trying not to think about the wasted women and the scent of blood that lingered in the air. I wasnt far from the walkway that led to the beach. From my apartment, it was close to a fifteen minute walk. The scent of the ocean reached my nose, coinciding with my thoughts, and the tension in my muscles eased away.
Surrounding myself with nature had always been the way I relaxed. Even when I was human. Nature centered and grounded me in a way nothing else could. There was only one problem with this beach in particular: You never knew what youd find lurking in its waters or strolling along its sandy shore. It wasnt why I chose not to feed on anything inside Willow Harbor, though. I didnt hunt like other vampires. Animals or humans. Instead, I ordered my blood supply online. I was civilized. I wasnt a monster. At least that was what I told myself.
Somedays, it worked better than others.
The sharp scent of washed up seaweed and rotting driftwood hit my nose as I neared the edge of the wooden walkway winding toward the sand. It soothed my thoughts and erased the lingering traces of the young womans blood. I inhaled again. The whiff of an animal nearby tantalized my senses. I wasnt alone out here.
When was anyone?
I closed my eyes and allowed myself to forget how to breathe for the time being as I struggled to avoid this new temptation. Something had to give. I couldnt continue like this much longer.
My online blood supply hadnt been delivered today. While I wasnt starving or at risk of falling into a bloodlust episode, I was still on edge because of it.
I’d been a vampire for over a year now, and during that time I’d made it a priority to never let my supply dwindle below three bags. Never. I always worried about what might happen if I were forced to ration a small supply for a lengthy period of time. Would I be able to control my hunger?
My biggest fear was now becoming a reality. I only had two bags remaining and no definite answer as to when I could expect my order. The storm that passed through last week slowed the delivery service I used down.
Two bags.
It was all that stood in the way of me having to hunt outside of Willow Harbor for a meal. Feeding within the limits of town was prohibited, not that I would anyway. I refused to feed on those who lived here because their family and friends would most likely band together to kill me. I wasnt one for confrontation. Never had been.
I’d have to leave town if my supply didnt come soon.
I hated leaving town. Passing through the iron gates made me uneasy. The chance of running into my maker, Aurora, was enough of a reason for me to stay put. She was as wicked as vampires came. Soulless and bloodthirsty. She was the reason Id never tasted human blood— I didnt want to be anything like her.
The wind picked up as I neared the end of the walkway. It held within it the scent of another animal. I licked my lips involuntarily as my stomach grumbled, and I had to force myself to head in the opposite direction.
The sand swallowed each of my footsteps as I headed down the beach. This was one of the best parts of living here, walking the beach at night during a full moon. I wasnt sure if it was the dark ocean waters reflecting the sheer beauty of the moon or the soothing sounds of the waves racing one another to the shore, but Id never felt contentment roll through me like a sedative except when I was here. Dark shadows moved through the choppy waters when I gazed out at the ocean. The sea creatures were enjoying the full moon as well it seemed. I zeroed in on a young woman sitting on one of the large rocks jutting up from the shifting waters. Her face was upturned to the moon as though she was having an intimate conversation with it. I continued on without interrupting her.
My gaze traveled to the night sky. The stars were out but barely visible through the wispy clouds streaking through the sky. Another gust of wind pulled at my clothing, but I continued. The hunger raging inside of me had finally drifted away.
Until a lone wolf came into view.
Its musky aroma caught in the breeze, invading my sense of smell before I could force myself to stop breathing again. I froze. From the way it slowed, I knew it had spotted me too. Seeing a random wolf strolling along the beach at night wasnt an unusual occurrence in Willow Harbor; I just couldnt handle being around anything that might tempt me. Not when Id come so close to taming my hunger.
I remained still. Ignoring its presence would make me seem less of a threat, which was exactly what it would register me as in my current tortured state. While there was a good chance I could take it, should it come to that, I wasnt one to initiate confrontations. Not with other supernaturals especially. Looks could be deceiving; my maker was proof.
A low snarl ripped through the night. Yup, it could feel the hunger festering inside me. I closed my eyes and remained as still as possible, knowing now wasnt the time for this. Id lose control if I wasnt careful, and blood would be spilled. Lots of it.
Another few seconds passed before the wolf lost interest in me like Id hoped. Sand shifted beneath its paws as it placed distance between us. I remained where I was until I felt enough time had passed. When I opened my eyes, the wolf was gone. I started down the beach again, glad the situation had been defused but frustrated my hunger was resurfacing. I didnt want to have to tap into one of the two bags I had left, but it seemed as though it might be impossible not to. When a gray slate rock jetting from the beach came into view, I felt myself relax.
This was my spot.
Even though I was sure it belonged to others as well, right now it was mine. I loved this spot. It overlooked the choppy ocean waters and gave a clear view of the lighthouse in the distance. I situated myself on the smooth surface and gazed out, soaking in the soothing sounds of the ocean.
Time passed slowly. Once my body grew lax, I knew Id gained all I could from the sea and beautiful view tonight. I slipped off my rock and started back toward my apartment. The trek wasnt long. Twenty minutes at most. Before long, I was at the willow tree again and crossing over the little footbridge in front of it. Its long branches reached out to touch me for a second time tonight, and the calmness Id found at my rock intensified tenfold.
I was okay. Id be able to make it through another day of rationing my supply.
The specs of blood left behind on the curb from the woman whod fallen captured my attention, but the sight didnt have the same effect on me as before. I was in my Zen zone. Nothing could rattle me now.
Movement near a silver car I recognized grabbed my interest. It was parked in front of the bookstore. The heavenly scent of coconut floated to my nose on another chilly breeze, and the Zen-like state Id been trapped in evaporated. My feet faltered as a jolt of electricity zipped through me, a knee-jerk reaction to the anticipated presence of the only girl Id ever denied myself.
Claire Meyers.
I cut across the street. Part of me hoped Id run into Claire, while another part equal in size, prayed I didnt. She wasnt back in town to catch up with me. She wasnt here for anything good. She was here because her twin brother, Danny, had committed suicide. Yeah, it was safe to say Claire was here for Dannys funeral and to help her father with things. While I had been saddened by the news of her brothers tragic death, I also felt excited at the prospect of crossing paths with Claire again.
Jesus, I was sick.
I couldnt help it, though. Something about her spoke to the tiny parts of me untouched by the wickedness that had plagued my soul since becoming a vampire.
Claire Meyers held power over me, even if she didnt know it.
I’d wanted her since the first moment Id laid eyes on her, but knew I would never allow myself to have her. Id never allow myself to have anyone. Not being what I was.
Even though Id gathered early on Claire was a part of the supernatural world, I still couldnt picture myself with her. Not as what I was. I hated what I was, what Id become because of Aurora, and couldnt see why Claire would ever want to be with someone like me. Besides, dating might not be allowed. I didnt know how the supernatural world worked. Not really. Everything I knew Id learned by accident. Aurora hadnt intended to create me. Id been a mistake, a forgotten loose end from a night of bloodshed.
I dipped my head to my boots and kept walking toward the narrow set of stairs that led to the apartments above the strip of shops the bookstore was included in. When I reached the glass door, it opened and out stepped Claire. My feet faltered to keep from running into her. God, she was beautiful. Her ebony hair had grown since the last time Id saw her. It flowed past her shoulders in soft waves now instead of dangling at her chin. Her face was free of makeup, and the splatter of freckles across the bridge of her nose seemed to have darkened. She flashed me a tired smile as she maneuvered around me and headed for her car. I spun to follow her with my eyes. When she reached into the trunk and pulled out a large cardboard box, I snapped out of my trance and started toward her. Id help her carry anything she needed me to. It was the polite thing to do if nothing else. Being a vampire hadnt killed my conscience. I was still as chivalrous as always, maybe more so because I felt I had to make up for what Id become. A certain level of guilt always seemed to be present inside of me.
Need help with that?
Claire jumped at the sound of my voice. Her hand flew to her chest as her stormy blue eyes snapped to mine. Jesus, you scared me!
Sorry, I didnt mean to.What I should have said was I hadnt known it was possible to sneak up on her. It had never happened before. Shed always heard me coming.
This moment was different, though. She was different. I could sense the brokenness festering inside her. It grew and expanded with each breath she took; it looked like a cancer was eating at her insides fueled by her sudden loss.
I wiped the goofy grin from my face. She didnt need some moron ogling her while she was mourning the tragic death of her brother.
“I’m jumpy, that’s all.” She shifted the box she held around in her arms, and her full lips twisted into a tight smile that didnt reach her eyes.
Want me to get that for you?I nodded to the box in her hand.
“I’ve got this one, but you could grab the other one for me if you want.
Without hesitation, I moved toward her car and reached for the last box in her trunk. One of the flaps on the top came up, exposing its contents as I lifted it. There was a jewelry box inside, some stuffed animals, and a few old books.
Was she moving home? What about college? Had she finished already?
It was spring, which meant this would be her last semester of senior year. Did she finish early, or was she bringing stuff home for her dad to store because shed decided she wanted more space? I wanted to ask, but I didnt feel it was my place.
Claire slammed the trunk of her car shut and headed for the stairs leading up to the apartments. I followed her.
Once we hit the top of the stairs, she made her way to apartment number one—her brothers apartment. My stomach tightened at the sight of his door. I should have put two and two together the second I noticed her heading toward the stairs and not the bookstore. Her dad didnt live up here. He owned the bookstore downstairs and lived in town somewhere. Mr. Meyers was retired. Claires brother, Danny, had run the bookstore. Hed also lived in apartment one.
The door to Dannys apartment was slightly ajar. Claire kicked it open with her foot and slipped inside. I followed but paused inside the threshold. Should I close the door behind me? Should I leave it open? Should I wait for her to tell me where she wanted me to set the box?
You can set that one in here,she said as she placed the box she was carrying on the kitchen counter and eyed me.
I opted to leave the door open as I crossed the apartment to where she stood. After depositing the box on the counter, I crammed my hands into the front pockets of my jeans and tried to look at anything besides her. I didnt want to see the sorrow reflected in her beautiful eyes. It would gut me because I knew I could do nothing to fix it.
Thanks. You saved me from having to endure more sympathetic looks from everyone stalking the streets tonight.She rolled her eyes.
I grinned at the sight, relieved to see the spunk shed always harbored hadnt died in the wake of her brother’s suicide.
Glad I could help.
I would offer you something to drink as a thank you, but the only thing my brother seems to have is chunky milk and orange juice.
That’s okay. I’m fine. Besides, its the thought that counts, right?
So they say,she muttered. She began to unpack the box in front of her.
It was nothing but books. She stacked classic on top of classic, and I felt myself grow even more unworthy of her as I skimmed the titles. Out of the six shed set out, Id read only one—The Catcher in the Rye. I thought to strike up a conversation about it, but the only thing I could say was that it had been a good book. I couldnt chat with her about what it was about, because honestly, there wasnt much plot to the book. It was about a teenage boy who was rebellious as hell. He got himself kicked out of school and decided to loaf around, biding his time until he had to tell his parents. The voice the author used had been captivating as hell, though.
“I’m sorry about your brother,I said before I could stop myself. Claire flinched at my words, and I knew hearing people tell her they were sorry for her loss probably had already grown old.
While Id been lucky enough to not have death touch me in my twenty-two years—twenty-three and a half if you counted the time Id now been a vampire—I could see how hearing something of that nature repeatedly might spark a sense of frustration or anger.
Thanks,she said as her movements became jerky and tense while she continued unpacking the box in front of her. When she froze and shifted her eyes to mine, I could have sworn she was about to ask me what the hell I was still doing in her brothers apartment, but she didnt. Instead, she skimmed her teeth over her plump bottom lip as hesitation crept through her features. Did you hear him, Danny I mean, the night it happened?
I wasnt sure what hit me harder—the question she was asking or how utterly heartbroken she sounded. I shifted around on my feet and ran a hand through my hair.
No. I wasnt home.It was the truth. Id been out strolling the beach, clearing my mind. When I passed by the bookstore on my way home Id smelled the blood, though. In fact, Id barricaded myself in my apartment because of it. It was because of Dannys death my current blood supply was so low. The aroma had caused the monster inside me to awaken and exude his power. Id barely been able to control myself that night. Id gone through three bags of blood in a matter of minutes, all in an effort to subdue the bloodlust simmering inside me at the tantalizing scent of so much blood infusing the air. “I’m sorry.
Claire flinched again at the five-lettered word. I was sure shed heard it more than a million times the last few days, but I didnt know what else to say. The truth? No, I didnt hear him but I smelled his blood. It tempted my vampire and caused me to blow through three bags of my supply. Hell no, that was insensitive as shit.
Well, someone had to hear something.The brightness of her eyes darkened, becoming cold.
I didnt say anything. All I could do was stare at her.
Of course someone had heard something. Half the town, maybe more, had supernatural hearing. She knew this. Claire was a Willow Harbor lifer, not a transplant like me.
Why was she trying to torture herself with the details of her brothers death, though? What could she gain by having someone admit theyd heard the gunshot go off when her brother killed himself?
I didnt ask. It wasnt my place to have such a personal conversation with her. We werent friends. We were acquaintances who happened to meet a couple times last summer when she was in town visiting her dad and brother during her summer vacation.
Thats what Im here to find out,Claire said.
I wasnt following her. What do you mean?
She lifted her gaze to mine. Her stormy blue eyes bored into me, reflecting a challenge I couldn’t decipher. “I dont think my brother committed suicide. He wouldnt. I know he wouldn’t.”
How could she think that? A self-inflicted gunshot wound was hard to dispute. Maybe she was in denial. It was probably normal in this situation.
What do you think happened then?I asked carefully. The last thing I wanted was to say something that would piss her off or upset her. She was in a sensitive state; that much was clear.
Her body grew rigid, but her eyes refused to leave mine. I think my brother was murdered.



Monday, September 18, 2017

Shifter's Fate Chapter One Reveal!




Willow Harbor launches in just a few weeks! I can't wait to share Shifter's Fate with everyone, but until then here's the first chapter. :)

Shifter’s Fate
Alyssa Rose Ivy

*Copyright 2017 Alyssa Rose Ivy* 

Preface
Mattie
The sea churned in front of me, the waves slamming against the shore as the storm worsened above. I heard the voice again calling my name, urging me to step closer to the water.
Logic told me to stay away, but logic didn’t rule in Willow Harbor. Fate did.
I stepped into the water, clutching the book against my chest, and giving myself over wholly and fully to fate.



 Chapter One
Mattie

At least it would be warmer than New York. I rationalized my decision in any way I could. It wasn’t as if I had a plethora of job opportunities, but willingly moving to a small town in South Carolina was crazy—even for me.
The pay was decent, especially since it included a rent-free apartment. The town was tiny, so I wouldn’t spend much on gas. There were lots of positives.
Who was I kidding? I was moving to the boonies to work a crappy job. There was no other way to spin it. My parents were right, going to grad school for library science had been a mistake. But then again so had taking out over a hundred grand in student loans for my undergrad. Mistakes weren’t something new for me. I’d been making them over and over my entire life; the difference is the older I got, the worse they seemed to be.
There was no reason to beat myself up about it now. At least I’d found a job. That was better than the situation I had been in four days earlier. Yes, four days. I had accepted a position four days ago, and now I was getting ready to move to a place I had never been before. At least Willow Harbor was coastal; I did love the ocean. Still, maybe crazy was too tame of a word.
I was lucky to have a job. End of story. Job offers were scarce with a downturned market and my inability to use my current employer as a reference. That was hard to do when he hated you for refusing to have sex with him.
I again went over the multitude of positives surrounding the move while I drove the last few hours of the more than twelve-hour trip. I followed my new employer’s advice, typing Charleston into my GPS and then turning it off once I got there. For one reason or another Willow Harbor didn’t show up on any virtual maps. I had heard of streets going missing from the GPS before, but never an entire town. Maybe that’s how you knew a town was really, really, small. Unfortunately, I was addicted to GPS. I didn’t know what to do when all I was left with was a set of directions I’d scribbled down while on the phone. If I made it to the town alive, I would be lucky. A sense of direction was something I wasn’t born with, and now that the sun had set I was really in trouble. Driving at night was another of my weaknesses.
I tried to read the paper while also watching the dark road. There was a turn coming up I was sure of it, or had I missed it? What was the name of the highway? I sighed. This was why my mom urged me to always carry an atlas with me. I’d had one in my car for years until I’d cleaned it out. Who needed paper maps anymore? Evidently I did. To be fair I’d only tossed it after a friend dropped an entire container of sweet and sour chicken on it last spring.
I needed to pull over, but pulling onto the side of the road in the dark in the middle of nowhere seemed like a really bad idea. The kind of bad idea girls always got in horror movies right before they died a horrible death. I had no interest in dying.
If I kept driving, maybe I’d get lucky and find the right road. A few more miles down the dark road I accepted the truth. I was in trouble, and I had no one to call. I knew no one anywhere in this whole state, let alone nearby. I drove until I saw a sign for a gas station and took the next exit.  The street lights lining the exit ramp were out, and I temporarily turned on my brights to make sure I didn’t run over anything—or anyone. Yet another thing that seemed to happen a disproportionate amount in scary movies. For someone who hated horror films, I had seen my share of them. It was almost as if I liked to torture myself by sitting through the films just to give myself nightmares. I was sure my college roommate, turned psychologist, would have quite a bit to say on the subject. But she wasn’t here now. No one was. I had to handle this situation on my own.
I switched off my brights once I reached the two-lane road. The street lights worked here at least. I drove about a half-mile down the road until I saw a gas station that shared a parking lot with a run-down looking restaurant.
I put my car in park and tried the GPS in my phone again. Maybe it worked when you were closer. No such luck. It kept pulling up a Willow Harbor tavern in Texas. Like that was going to help me?
I eyed the diner. The neon sign was turned off as were most of the lights, but there were still a few cars parked in the lot.  Barging in on a closed restaurant in the middle of nowhere didn’t sound appealing, but I was out of options. If there was any chance of getting some directions, it was worth trying.
I grabbed my purse and headed toward the wooden and metal building that looked more like a train car than a restaurant, wishing I hadn’t been wearing my NYU sweatshirt. I had learned the hard way that New Yorkers weren’t always welcome in small towns.
I pushed on the door, it opened swiftly, and I ended up stumbling inside. Not exactly the entrance I was hoping for.
We’re closed,” a male voice barked out.
I straightened, noting the oddly low ceilings before I managed to make eye contact with a huge man wearing a neon yellow baseball cap.
“Sorry. I know. Well, I assumed. I’m not here to eat,” I spit out an unintelligible series of words.
I heard some snickering and looked around. There were a few lights on in the front section of the restaurant with several booths taken. No one jumped out as particularly noteworthy except a guy maybe a year or so older than me with jet black hair and the coolest set of grey eyes I’d ever seen.
Ogling some guy wasn’t going to help my situation, so I turned back toward the man with the bright baseball cap when he spoke again. “Then why are you here?” He spoke a little bit softer this time. He was in his sixties maybe, but I found guessing ages to be hard.
“I’m lost. I need directions.” I studied the worn linoleum floor.
“Where do you need directions to?” He asked with a hint of amusement.
I wasn’t sure what could possibly be amusing about my needing directions, but I kept that to myself. “To Willow Harbor. I know it can’t be too far off, but I can’t read the directions I scribbled down.”
There was more light laughter, and I traced it to the table with grey eyes. I refused to look to see if it was him specifically. I didn’t want to further confirm my hypothesis that all attractive guys were jerks.
“Why do you want to go to Willow Harbor?” Grey eyes stood up from the booth he’d been seated in and walked toward me. His black hair was tousled, as if he hadn’t even been bothered to fix it before leaving the house. I could relate to him there. My hair spent most of its time in a bun on the top of my head. 
“Does the why matter?” I eyed the guy warily. Attractive or not, he was a little too interested in where I was headed.
“No, it doesn’t matter, honey.” A woman walked out of the kitchen. She was wearing a white and blue stripped apron. “You are real close. You need to take the highway until it dead ends at Ullman road. Take a right, and you will see the gates. You can’t miss it.”
“The gates?” I asked for clarification. The library director had not mentioned gates in the set of directions she gave me.
“I will ask again. Why are you going to Willow Harbor?” Grey eyes scowled.
I stepped back. Yes my hypothesis was right. Oh well. Maybe there was an exception somewhere in the world. “Not that it is any of your business, but I am going for a job. I start a new position tomorrow, so I need to find it tonight. Will I be able to get through the gates?”
“Oh yeah. The gates are open.” The women smiled. “Don’t worry.”
“Great. Ok, so take the highway to Ullman road and take a right?” I wasn’t taking a chance of messing this up. I doubted I’d find anywhere else to stop any time soon.
“Yes, but stay alert so you don’t miss it.” She put her hands in the pocket of her apron.
“How can I miss it if the road dead ends?” Was there something obvious I wasn’t getting? It wouldn’t be the first time. I had a habit of missing what other people found obvious. Which is how I had been taken completely unaware by my boss’s proposition. My co-worker had seen it coming months before I did.
“Stranger things have happened.” The woman disappeared back into the kitchen.
“Thanks,” I called after her. I nodded to the guy behind the counter and pushed open the door.
The chill in the air hit me as soon as I stepped outside, and I kept my head down as I hurried away from the diner.
Wait a second,” a male voice called when I was halfway to my car.
I turned around cautiously, not at all surprised when I came face to face with grey eyes. “Yes?”
“What job did you take in Willow Harbor?” His arms were crossed over his chest, and his eyes seemed eerie in the faint glow of the single light pole illuminating the parking lot.
“Why do you care?” He was asking way too many questions. 
“Because we don’t get too many new people in town. I’m surprised a girl like you would take a job there.”
“We? You live in Willow Harbor?” Then the rest of what he said caught up with me. “And what do you mean a girl like me?” I knew an insult when I felt it.
He pointed to my sweatshirt. “We don’t get too many New Yorkers.”
“Well, this New Yorker is going to be your new librarian.” I straightened up to make myself taller. I wasn’t short, more like average by most people’s estimates. “That okay with you?”
He smiled ever so slightly. “Follow me.”
“Why would I do that?” I struggled to sound calm. I was getting more nervous by the second.
“Because I’m heading home, and like Loretta says, you have to really pay attention on your way there.”
“You promise you aren’t trying to run me off?” I wasn’t sure why I was asking. He could lie just as easily as he could tell the truth, but I had to ask.
“You think I’m trying to run the librarian off before she gets to town? That’s not going to go well for me.”
“Why not?” Last I heard people weren’t up in arms over the loss of librarians. Most libraries were cutting staff not filling vacant positions.
“Because your new boss is my mother.”
“Oh.” I hadn’t seen that coming. Maybe I needed to try harder to be polite. I didn’t want to do something to upset my boss before I started. I needed to keep the job at least long enough to get a reference. Then I could head back up north.
“Oh is right.” He smirked. “Ready to follow?”

I thought over my options. Making sure I didn’t get lost was high on my list. So was avoiding a potentially uncomfortable situation with the new boss. “Sure. Lead the way.”