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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Excerpt & Review Blitz: Midnight Rose by Dani Hart



Midnight Rose
(Midnight series, #1)
By Dani Hart

Blurb:

My grandfather had once told me that life was an unpredictable beast—one moment calm with a full belly and heavy eyes, and the next, digging its paws in the dirt, snarling just before it took down its next victim. Until recently, I would argue with that notion, listing all the reasons why my life was as predictable as the tides coming and going. While I listened, I was young and never put much thought into a lot of the things my grandfather told me, but all that changed when the Hunters moved back to Sandpoint. More specifically, Wes Hunter. That was when the impossible became possible and the predictable became unpredictable.

As Abigail Rose looked down on her new world, she couldn’t deny the things she had seen and all the things she had learned. There were days she wished she could go back to her old life, but she had changed. Evolved. She was no longer a love-struck seventeen year old. She was a chosen leader and her path was undeniable. The black and white was fading to gray, and the only thing between mortals and immortals was her.



   


Excerpts


“Did you get the soup?” Wes’ voice encircled me, catching my breath in my chest. He was only a foot away from me, his eyes glowing under the soft patio lights. Words escaped me, and my lungs ceased to function. Even my knees weakened. In seconds, I had transformed into a pathetic teenage girl hopelessly in love.

   He dipped his head slowly, his eyes peering up, inviting me into his enchanting world, the upturn of his lips teasing me.

   “I—How did you know?” A familiar comfort floated between us.

   He took a step closer and sank his head in the space between my ear and my shoulder, grazing his lips back and forth, taking in a deep breath. Dizziness swirled around me, my mouth falling open as I took in labored breaths, my hands planted to the wall for support.

   “I know everything about you, Abigail Rose,” he whispered into my ear as his lips traveled up my neck, his warm breath leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake. “I know your favorite soup.” His nose explored my hair. “I know what shampoo you use.”

   I was losing myself in him, the will to stay still collapsing.

   He continued, “I know that you tie your hair up when you are uncomfortable.” One of his hands planted on the wall next to my head, the other glided through my hair, wrapping around locks and tugging lightly. A soft murmur escaped my mouth as his mouth explored my jawline. “I know what I feel when I’m around you.”

    With that, my paralyzed limbs awoke and my fingers twisted in his hair. His hands cradled my face, pulling my lips to his.

   “Wes.” A harsh demand reached us from the shadows, pulling us apart. Ben stepped into the light, glaring at his brother, his eyes vicious and his body rigid.

Wes turned to me, regret confronting me for just a moment before he left in the opposite direction of his older sibling. Ben focused his fury on me then, causing me to stumble back into the bistro.

Finishing my shift proved difficult, my thoughts racing between Wes’ confession and Ben’s obvious and inexplicable rage. My life was quickly spinning out of control, and I wasn’t in the driver’s seat anymore. I felt Mr. Hunter’s eyes on me as I grabbed my bag and ran out to my car where my dad was waiting. He hopped out, taking the passenger seat position.  I was surprised when we arrived home. I was on autopilot these days.

“I think you’re ready for your test Monday. How do you feel?”

I killed the engine and looked down at the steering wheel, avoiding eye contact.

“Good,” I replied with a small smile. How could I concentrate on such mundane things when suddenly I was surrounded by chaos?

“I’m going to miss driving around with you,” he confessed and then jumped out of the Jeep. “You coming?”

“Yeah, in a minute.”

He looked at me oddly. “Okay.”

He shut the door and went inside. I flipped on my iPod playlist and leaned my seat back, closing my eyes, visions of Wes so close to me vividly replaying in my mind.  Suddenly, an overwhelming sensation of being watched came over me.

I shot up quickly, startled by Wes standing outside the passenger door. Unforgiving tension passed between us as the seconds turned into minutes until time no longer existed. The storm that had rolled in during my shift had exchanged a light drizzle for an unexpected downpour, soaking Wes, who stood unfazed, studying me.

The click of the handle sent my heart racing for cover as he slid in, the water rolling off his body and settling into the leather. The cold followed him inside, but as I was reaching to turn the engine on, Wes placed his hand around mine, stopping me, the soft touch reminding me of so many times his hand had touched mine. I sucked in a shallow breath, closing my eyes as the water from his hand dripped onto mine. Only when he pulled it away did I look over, meeting his pained expression.

“What?” I asked quietly.

He twisted his hands tightly on his lap.

“My father told me to stay away from you, but I don’t know how to do this.” His knuckles turned white as he squeezed them tighter together.

   “Do what?” My voice was shaky now. 

 He shook his head slowly. “Be around you without...” He lifted his head, untangling his hands, and leaned into me. His finger hooked under my chin, holding my gaze to his. I was under his spell once again, entranced by his beauty.

   “Without what?” I asked breathlessly.

His eyes reached out and took hold of my soul, absolving pain’s past. Then without warning, he dropped his hand and sat back in his seat, securing his hands together once again.

Tears welled in my eyes, the familiar disappointment lingering. “You can’t keep doing this to me.” My words broke as I choked back humiliation.

“I know,” he said regretfully.

   “Then, why?” I was begging for answers, pleading for closure before my broken heart was irreparable.

   “Because I don’t know how to live without you either.” He gritted his teeth, the truth setting him free, but also defeating him.

   “Then don’t,” I pleaded. “Don’t push me away, Wes. Please.” My heart ached. 

   His iridescent eyes faded, replaced with a terrifying darkness as he pushed my hair away from my neck and leaned into me. 

   “Your eyes,” my voice quaked.

   “Are you afraid of me, Abby?” His voice was steady.

   I shook my head slowly. “No,” I whispered.

   He took my wrist roughly in his hand. “Are you afraid now?”

   Tears rushed down my cheeks as I shook my head more quickly this time. “No.” I was holding onto the trust we had built over the years. 

   He pulled my face closer to him, his nose gliding over my swollen eyes and dampened cheeks.
   “What about now?” he whispered.

   “Never.” Why was he doing this to me? I felt completely decimated, and it was my fault because I was letting him break me. 

   His eyes lifted to mine, the onyx melting away to perfect iridescence again. Without warning, he jumped out of the Jeep into the storm and into the forest, his silhouette visible among the trees as lightning flashed across the forest.

   I’m not the one you need to be afraid of.


   I was stunned into disbelief. Believing in the unbelievable had shifted my sense of stability, forcing me to face all things out of the realm of possibility no longer trapped in the fantasy books of my childhood. The stories ran rampant around me no longer hidden in make believe. They were right in front of me all along. The veil had been lifted. Wes wasn’t like me. He wasn’t like anyone. He was something else entirely.


Kendra blended in around the fire with the college kids. It was so easy for her. She was a social butterfly, whereas my toes couldn’t even graze the soft granules of sand only inches away. This wasn’t healthy. My palms were sweating just by being here.

The lights of the pier shone brightly in the distance. It wasn’t too far away and sitting here was driving me crazy, so I twisted through the trees, the sounds of the party becoming distant. The quiet was soothing.

The bistro was tucked between a row of shops and restaurants just before the pier. The lights inside were visible from where I stood at the far end of the pier. Shadows crossed the windows from inside, and I imagined Mr. Hunter shuffling around, cleaning up and Penelope drowning her sorrows in her playlist as she rolled silverware. It was silly, but I envied her because she was inside there with Wes and I was out here, alone.   

The waves rippled softly against the pier, rocking it gently, my body swaying with it. Being here didn’t seem so bad—so debilitating. I wasn’t ready for the beach. Not yet. Every once in a while, laughter would drift from the party, momentarily breaking the peaceful silence.

“Do you feel safe over here all by yourself?”

My body stiffened at Elijah’s sudden arrival. Was he asking, or threatening? It was hard to tell. I refused to let him intimidate me, so I firmly planted my elbows on the railing as I admired the glimmer of the moon dancing over the water. “Shouldn’t you be with Kendra?”

“No. I believe I’m exactly where I should be.”

“Is that right? Is that why you cozied up to my best friend? To get to me?”
“Maybe.” His eyes lit up confidently.

“You could have just asked me out.” I crossed my arms, feigning courage.

“And what would you have said if I had asked?”

“No,” I said firmly.

He chuckled, seemingly unaffected. “Well, then maybe I like your friend.”

My heart skipped a terrifying beat as his footsteps creaked under the give of the wood planks, bringing him closer to me. I could see his breath in the chill of the night as he made himself comfortable next to me.

“Do I make you nervous?” He looked over to me.

“A little, honestly,” I replied quietly, not turning to meet his gaze. My voice trembled slightly.

He leaned over, sweeping my hair behind my shoulder, his touch trailing euphoric sensations around my neck and shoulder, and whispered into my ear, “I’m not the one you need to be afraid of.”

My body stiffened with dread.

Then who do I need to be afraid of?

A chill replaced the warmth of his breath on my neck, and when I braved a glance over, Elijah was gone. I spun around quickly, searching the pier and the trees beyond, but he was nowhere to be found.

Do you feel safe? No, not anymore. I rushed off the pier and back through the trees, flinching at every noise I heard.  

“Abby, what happened to you?” Kendra bounced up to me upon my return.

“I went for a walk on the pier.”

Concern was evident in her eyes. “You’ve been gone for over an hour. The pier is less than five minutes away.”

How could that be? It felt like I had only been gone for a few minutes. Moments of time had been lost standing on the pier with Elijah.

A wave of nausea hit me suddenly, causing me to grimace.

“Are you feeling okay?”

 “Can we go home?”

“Of course. You don’t look so good. Elijah disappeared anyway. The jerk.” Kendra wrapped her arm in mine.

My legs were wobbly and my mind was hazy, so I gripped her arm tighter to keep from falling. When I glanced up beyond the bonfire, I spotted a pair of eyes fixated on me.

“Is that Ben Hunter?” The boy’s hair was jet black just like Ben’s, and the eyes seemed familiar even from this far away. My head was starting to pound, and my vision was getting blurry.

“The devastatingly gorgeous guy with black hair and irresistible eyes? Yes, I believe I heard someone call him that. He’s one of the twins, right?”

“Yeah.” I stumbled a bit, my eyes still on Ben.

“He’s weird,” Kendra added, holding her grip tighter around me.

My stomach was doing flips.

 “I think we’re better off without boys.” She snickered.

“I think so.” My legs suddenly gave out, but before I hit the ground, a pair of arms wrapped around me. I expected to see Kendra above me, but instead, Ben cradled me, my flesh burning under his touch. He handed me over to Kendra quickly and, without a word, went back to the party.

“What was that?” Kendra tracked him, awestruck. “Are you okay, Abby?”

“I really need to lie down,” I begged her as all my weight leaned into her.

She hugged me close and helped me as I stumbled through the parking lot.

“You’re going to have to drive,” I mumbled when we made it to the car.

She took my keys and helped me into the passenger seat and buckled me in. My head sank into the headrest, feeling heavy against the leather. My thoughts swirled with confusion, not understanding what happened on the pier. Elijah’s words echoed in my thoughts. Safety had been replaced with fear, no matter how irrational it seemed.




About The Author


I have always been drawn to words. They have this enchanting magic to touch my soul when I need it the most, whether through reading or writing. My love for writing started as most little girl's with a diary. It evolved into a big girl journal and then transformed into a notebook of poetry during the dark days of high school. I followed my dream to USC (University of Southern California) to study theatre, creative writing, and screenwriting. Finally, I understood how to take the stories in my head and commit them to paper. I was fortunate enough to sell my first professional script during college and have been writing ever since. In 2013 I took to self-publishing. I realized quickly that my passion resonated across many genres, so currently I have published young adult, fantasy, paranormal, dystopian, new adult, and women’s fiction. With both of my kids in school full-time now I am able to immerse myself in my passion more and when I’m not writing I’m enjoying the short time I have with my babies and my husband.
“I write what my heart sings.”  


You can find Dani at 

            

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