Sunday, January 31, 2021

✱✱Book Review✱✱ Root Rot Academy: Term 2 by Rhea Watson


Root Rot Academy: Term 2
by Rhea Watson


The warlock who slaughtered my parents is watching me—and I was a fool to think revenge would be easy.

Once upon a time, I thought I could be brave.

Sixteen years ago, I changed my name. Desperate to escape the nightmares, I let Hannah go and embraced Alecto. I so wanted to be the fearless fury who righted wrongs and slayed the monster…

Only now that I’ve met him, it isn’t that simple.

It isn’t simple to take a life—to be like him—but I have to do something. Waiting for the answer to drop into my lap isn’t good enough anymore.

But the fallout of Samhain hits us all differently.

Bjorn is traumatized.

Jack is targeted.

Gavriel is coming apart at the seams.

And I’m just trying to move forward, one day at a time.

With closets full of skeletons, we head into the darkest time of the year hoping things will get better, unaware that the second term is the beginning of the end.

As I juggle my men, my job, and my vengeance, one thing becomes painfully clear…

Benedict Hammond isn’t the only monster lurking at Root Rot Academy.

Root Rot is an academy Why-Choose romance trilogy centered around the professors and staff. It contains mature subject matter that might not be suitable for all readers.


Momma Says: 5 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Way to leave us on the edge of our seats! I expected at least an open-ended finish for this second book in the trilogy, but wow - talk about leaving a reader wanting even one more page! True to form, Rhea Watson has put together all the paranormal fun and intrigue we can handle in a fast-paced academy romance. 
This is also a why choose romance, and of course, these guys are just too delicious to choose between. Each of them brings something different to the table, and they're all three lovable in their own way. Bjorn is gentle despite, or maybe because of his past, Jack is such a contrast between the straight-laced professional and the dom. There's a scene in this one (not the D/s kind) where Jack is explaining himself to Alecto, and it's one of my favorites in the book. And then there's Gavriel. I like all three of Alecto's guys, but Gavriel is definitely my favorite. He's the perfect mix between playful and dark, and his brand of snarky endears him to me all the more. 
Like the first in the trilogy, this one has some intrigue and danger unrelated to the ongoing storyline concerning Benedict Hammond, and not everything is all tied up in a neat little bow. So, if you don't like cliffhangers, be warned. Nevertheless, whether you read them as they release or you binge through all three, this is a thoroughly entertaining story with characters you just can't get enough of. I know I'll be anxiously awaiting whatever's next. 


Saturday, January 30, 2021

NEW RELEASE - ENDANGERED by AMABEL DANIELS

★✩★ RELEASE BLITZ ★✩★

ENDANGERED

Book 7 of 8: Olde Earth Academy

By AMABEL DANIELS

Genre: College | Fantasy | Romance

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56773943/ 

Hosted by DS PR Services



Purchase links:

US  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08PDT982J/

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08PDT982J/

 CA https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B08PDT982J/ AU https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B08PDT982J/ 

Available in KINDLE UNLIMITED




BLURB:


With her friend killed and her necklace taken, Layla is rocked to the core. All she can focus on is seeking revenge, but that’s one task easier said than done with the Ancience’s ability to stay under the radar. Meanwhile, in teaming up with the council, she learns of a clue about what her family’s neala might mean.


Half of her allies at the Academy travel for answers, splitting her from Flynn, who’s made a change in his plans for college. Determined to avoid more secrecy and lies, Layla goes to sources who reveal that her elf powers are more powerful than she ever could have imagined.


When there’s finally a chance to chase down the top members of the Ancience, Layla’s ready to test out her newfound skills. Releasing such power raises more questions, though. It invites danger to her and her friends, plus the risk of exposing the existence of elves to the rest of the world.


Hoping to stay one step ahead of the enemy in a perilous game of research that threatens the whole world, she must own up to her lies and take a chance on embracing her identity as one of the keepers of elves.


Endangered is the seventh book in the Olde Earth series, and it continues in Attacked. 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amabel Daniels lives in Northwest Ohio with her patient husband, three adventurous little girls, and a collection of too many cats and dogs. Although she holds a master’s degree in Ecology, her true love is finding a good book. When she isn't spending time outdoors, she's busy brewing up her next novel, usually as she lets her mind run off with the addictive words of "what if..."



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TWITTER https://twitter.com/amabel_daniels

BOOKBUB https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amabel-daniels

WEBSITE http://amabeldaniels.com/

GOODREADS https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14589104.Amabel_Daniels





Let There Be Dragons Blitz

 


Dark Fantasy

Published: October 2020

Publisher: Tell-Tale Publishing



In a post-apocalyptic world, dragons, elves, vampires and demons war for control of Earth. A girl with powerful Gifts is the only hope the world has to destroy Slygon, a demon from the Pit come to rule all.

With the aid of a half-orc, his friends and a fairy, Annabelle tames dragons and rides to fight Slygon on his home territory. On a mission to rescue her sister from Slygon’s power, Annabelle will stop at nothing. When everyone around her is saying it’s time to quit, Annabelle is just getting started.



Excerpt

Chapter Three

Jackal


We be getting mighty close the city, Jackal,” Slag said.

I glanced at my green friend sitting astride the Belgium draft mare he’d named Bunny even though she was mean as a snake. Slag was three-quarters orc. Slag’s mother had been a halfling, his father an orc who raped her when she was hunting. Slag had been given to the same wet nurse taking care of me. We were raised together along with Chub, our third companion, another half-orc.

Slag’s frown emphasized the pointed ivory tusks that rose at the corner of his mouth from his bottom jaw to above his upper lip and nearly to his flat nose. At seven feet of solid muscle Slag weighed in at three-hundred pounds, and was two inches taller than me, and twenty-five pounds heavier. When I noticed the sun shining off the top of Slag’s head I grinned. Slag kept his head shaved to show off what he thought were his best features, a broad forehead and small, slightly pointed ears, each pierced with three golden rings.

Aye, the city be close” I said as I glanced around us. “The big lake be over that hill. The walls of New Orleans be about a league to the south of us.”

This be dangerous ground,” Chub said. “It’s getting’ late and I’m terrible hungry. Let’s stop and cook up some of that shoat we bagged this morning.”

I laughed. Chub was always hungry, a huge halfling who besides food, loved me, Slag and no other being in the universe, except perhaps the draft mule he rode. The mule was always hungry too. Chub shared other qualities with his mount, such as strength, tirelessness, and a foul temper. A dangerous combination. But then all of us are dangerous.

I’m good with that,” I said. “You two set up camp. I’m gonna ride up to the top of that hill and get a look see.”

I spurred Thor, a black Friesian with feathered feet and too much mane. The big horse was a gift from my mother, the elf queen, Ashera. It was the only thing besides my light skin, pointed ears, and thick brown hair she’d ever given me. That, and she’d carried me to term and not killed me at birth, which was the custom, because I was the result of an orc rape. Instead of killing me, she sent me to the village of Wildwhisper. She’d never raise a half-orc babe herself. Elves were all racists. They believed in the purity of the elf race and any mixing of blood was considered an abomination. I was glad she’d sent me to Wildwhisper. Life in the village suited me down to the ground. I’d learned to forge and use the weapons I made.

My two warrior friends and I were raised in the same small village outside the elves’ mountain fortress in what used to be Arkansas. It was also near Edenvale, a hidden sanctuary populated with humans who didn’t care to be serfs to the Magics or live within walls. The people of Wildwhisper maintained themselves by hunting in the forest, tanning hides, and forging weapons. They mined ore and coal in the mountains and found old steel and metal in abandoned cities to melt in forges fueled by the coal. Their swords were highly-valued, the metal folded and then sharpened to perfection and modeled after the Japanese blade, the katana. They also forged enormous axes to be used as weapons and smaller ones for cutting down trees. If it could be made of metal, it was forged in Wildwhisper. I always carried a satchel full of weapons to use in trade if we needed food or lodging, and sometimes I sold them for the most common form of money, silver coins.

As I galloped Thor to the top of the hill, reveling in the strength and immense power of the horse beneath me, I surveyed the landscape. Below stretched the big lake and the wall built around the city of New Orleans. The city center was too far to see clearly, just the spire of a great church, and the remains of tall buildings now crumbling ruins. Inside the wall, small farms were green with summer’s bounty.

I squeezed Thor’s sides sending him charging into a valley and up another hill. At the top, I spotted a group of orcs camped in the bottom of the next valley inside a copse of oak saplings. Smoke from their cook fire rose between the leafy boughs. I couldn’t see all of them, but the usual orc raiding party was ten or twelve. Seven were visible, tending to the huge boars they rode. The hogs grunted and snorted from their position tied to trot lines. I was close enough hear the restless animals.

This was good news to me. Finding a raiding party before it found you was always good news. Then I spotted the girl. She looked about ten and was tied face down across the back of a hog. One of the orcs dragged her off the massive pig and tossed her to his fellow who laughed and ripped off her clothes.

I felt my animal nature rising. Anger at the terrible treatment of the child, for the girl was no more than that, warred with my inner voice cautioning me to take care. I wanted nothing more than to tear down the hill and fight all of them.

I whirled Thor around on his hind feet and galloped back to camp. It was almost dark. Slag and Chub would appreciate the chance to kill some orcs.

I pulled the big Friesian to a sliding stop at the edge of the camp. Slag grabbed my reins. “I see that light in yer eye.” Slag grinned. “Ye found us a bit of work, didn’t ye?”

Orcs have a girl. We gotta go now. Setting up camp can wait. Mount [JP1] up and let’s ride.”

Slag and Chub leapt on their mounts[JP2] . Chub still had his long bow slung over his shoulder, a quiver full of arrows and his axe in a holster attached to his leather body armor. Slag favored a broad sword, a crossbow with bolts tipped with rattlesnake venom, and a spear. I still had my katana and sheath hooked to the back of my armor. Armed to the teeth, we thundered down the trail, knowing the girl might soon be dead, or worse. A ten-year old was a woman to orcs.

We stopped at the top of the hill overlooking the orc encampment. The sun had set, and a huge moon slowly rose over the trees behind them. The ghostly-blue light illuminated the troop of orcs gathered in a raiding party. We sat still and silent, impatient as we watched the orcs move out. When the orcs crested the far hill and headed toward the city, I dismounted, left Thor ground-tied, and slunk down the hill staying in the cover of shrubs and underbrush. Chub stayed with the horses, but Slag followed.

The fire I’d seen earlier was extinguished, but the orcs obviously planned to return to this camp. Two huge, ugly, green monsters squatted close to the girl. They weren’t touching her, just sitting there watching. Two hogs wandered around behind them, saddled and ready to go, but eating acorns and snuffling in the leaves beneath the trees.

I waved, sending Slag off to the left, while I went right. The hogs scented us and squealed an alarm. The two orcs jumped to their feet. One held a massive hammer, the other a multi-bladed mace, crude but effective. A brace of spears leaned against one of the trees. The hogs came close to inspect me and I shooed them away. One charged, its tusks gleaming blue in the moonlight. I held my katana high over my head in a two-handed grip as I waited for the hog, then I stepped aside and sliced its head off with my razor-sharp blade. The head rolled, foam dripping from its gaping maw as blood gushed from the body. The other hog squealed and ran away.

Alerted, the two orcs raced around in circles searching for us. Slag stepped up behind them and put two poison bolts into the biggest one while I slashed the other diagonally across its body from neck to thigh, opening its belly. Guts and blood poured onto the ground as the stunned orc took a minute to figure out, he was dead, then toppled over.

Smiling, I do love a good fight, I wiped my blade on the grass to clean it. “Get the girl.”

Slag moaned. “Really? Like we ain’t got enough problems?”

If we leave her here, the orcs will find her and their two dead friends and come looking for us after they kill her.”

Happen, they’ll come for us, no matter.”

Not if we catch them first.”

Slag lifted one bushy eyebrow.

We have to go after them. They’re headed for the city.”

When did you become a lover of the Magics?”

It’s not the Magics I care about. The regular folk die too, and they don’t deserve it.”

Slag sighed. “Let’s be off then. Chub’s missing his dinner and that will put him in a right bad mood.”

We found the girl curled into a ball under a rough blanket made of sacking. I pulled the sacking off her face. She was red headed, with pale skin and bright blue eyes. She pounced on me, clawing at my eyes. “Whoa, there filly.” I pulled her off my head. “I ain’t an orc.”

You are!” she screamed. “You might not be green, but you look just like them.”

I know I ain’t pretty, but it’s not kind of you to remind me. I might be half orc, but I always thought I was better looking than orcs.” I held her out in front of me and noticed she was younger than I’d thought, and feistier. “We just killed your captors and we plan to get the rest.” She kicked and scratched at my leather wrist guards, tried to bite me, and shrieked bloody murder.

I can always give you back, if you’d druther.”

She stopped shrieking. “Put me down.”

Are you gonna run?”

Duh.”

Where to?”

Away from you, that’s for certain.”

Slag stepped forward in all his hugeness and laughed. “Jackal be your onliest chance of surviving, missy. I’d stick with him if I was you, for a kinder heart in a bigger ass you’ll never find.”


About The Author


Janet Post is a self-described military brat from Hawaii. She worked as a reporter for years before retiring to write books. Horses and dogs are her passion along with writing adventure and fantasy for young adults. She currently lives in the swamplands of Florida.


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RABT Book Tours & PR

Virtual Book Tour: Modern Day Shaman® by Sarah Ann Negus


 

Modern Day Shaman® Find a Deeper Connection to Life

Memoir/Personal Development/Spiritual Growth/Shamanism

Date Published: 5th January 2021



This very personal and deeply engaging book details the extraordinary spiritual journey of Sarah Ann Negus, the Modern Day Shaman®. It reveals how she allowed her spiritual gifts to shine through, so she can help other people in the world to find theirs. Her first book helps you to master your energy and to ‘see in the dark’, unshackling past conditioning and believing in the realms of infinite possibilities, so you can be the best version of yourself possible, both personally and professionally.

The key messages of her timely book, revealing to the world the true essence of how we are all shaman, is beautifully depicted in the numerous standalone quotations from the author, which add depth and richness to the reader’s experience, as demonstrated below.

Lasting change and personal growth are found

when you commit to all of you; mind, body and spirit.”

"This is not the truth.

It is my truth.

Take what touches your heart and leave the rest.”

Never be afraid of the dark.

Without it there is no light.”

This book is dedicated to you.

May you find your way.”

The author tells her true story of her personal spiritual and shamanic journey warts and all, through a series of exceptionally refreshing visual and engaging stories, accounts and reflections from her lived experience. It is true life, told as it was. She says that her purpose for writing her first book for other people is to:

  • inspire them to look within themselves for answers;
  • offer them the understanding that they are not alone;
  • show them they are powerful in their own right and can change their lives; and
  • offer simple practical tools that will help anyone to explore their own inner world and energy.

Sarah is the Modern Day Shaman®. She works with highly successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives and high-flying start-ups to help them find consistent successful growth in their lives. With 22 years of experience in the field of energy, and a lifetime of entrepreneurial highs and lows, Sarah brings a unique take on business.

She invites her clients to widen their vision, to think differently and shows them how to access their dreams in real-time. What sounds impossible and implausible is not.

Sarah experienced her spiritual awakening over 22 years ago while searching for a more meaningful and impactful way to live her life. She then set out on a 12-year shamanic apprenticeship journey, travelling to Peru and studying with the Shamans of the Amazon forest.

Over the years, Sarah mastered her craft and today she brings the power of ancient shamanism to modern visionaries and leaders, helping them to fully embody their highest potential. Sarah is a Modern Day Shaman®️ Extraordinaire.

Sarah works with highly successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives and high-flying start-ups to help them create consistent success and growth in their lives. With over two decades of experience in the field of energy, and a lifetime of entrepreneurial highs and lows, Sarah brings a unique take on business.



About the Author

Sarah Ann Negus is a modern-day shaman. She grew up in South London and has spent her life finding out who she really is. Her journey of discovery, in this her first book, takes you from lost to found in the most alternative of ways. Sarah’s experience was not easy, but she believes that coming home to your true self does not have to be a fight or a struggle.

As a child she learned that not everyone saw what she did, and she hid her gifts. Coming back to them as an adult, she slowly remembered her purpose and promised to share them.

Sarah runs a successful mentoring and public speaking business working with entrepreneurs and executives who understand their energy is a powerful driving force for growth, both personally and professionally. She facilitates an altered state of consciousness for her clients which allows them to observe themselves and the world differently as a result. They take actions from a new belief system, which empowers them to achieve what they previously believed was impossible. Her clients typically say; “This has been life-changing”.


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"Quotes" Humbled but, Yet Eloquent Blitz

 


Motivational Quotes, Inspirational

Published: December 2020

Publisher: PageTurner Press and Media



"Quotes" Humbled but, Yet Eloquent contains several informative quotes, colorful photographs, special writing features, poems, scriptures list, songs and an autograph page. The book’s focus is to share Encouragement, positiveness and uplifting words to everyone worldwide.



About The Author


Winifred Lee Richardson resides in the Southern California area with her son and dear family. She inherited the love of writing from her mother.


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✱✱Book Review✱✱ Blog Tour for Mike Chen’s WE COULD BE HEROES


We Could Be Heroes Mike Chen On Sale Date: January 26, 2021 9780778331391 Hardcover $27.99 USD, $34.99 CAD 336 pages




An emotional adventure about two misfits who have extraordinary powers, but have forgotten who they were before. The vigilante and the villain must team up to stop a mad scientist who threatens the city, while trying to figure out who they really are.


Jamie woke up two years ago in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to who he might be, and also with the power to read other people's memories. In the meantime, he's become the Mind Robber, holding up banks for quick cash. Similarly, Zoe is searching for her past, and using her new extraordinary abilities of speed and strength...to deliver fast food. And occasionally beat up bad guys, if she feels like it.


When the two meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize they are each other's best chance at discovering what happened to them. The quest will take them deep into a medical conspiracy that is threatening to spill out and wreak havoc on their city, and maybe the country. As the two get past their respective barriers, they'll realize that their friendship is the thing that gives them the greatest power.


Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐
We Could Be Heroes was such a pleasant surprise. The story is one of superheroes - kind of - think the CW superhero series, but it's a refreshing take on some interesting abilities. Jamie and Zoe are terrific characters and they're both so relatable. Well, except for the extra abilities! Honestly, it's been a while since I've read anything that wasn't romance or crime thrillers, so this one felt like a long-overdue step outside the box kind of story for me. And it was exactly what I needed about now. The book is well-written, the pacing is good, the story is entertaining and engaging, and the main characters are easy to root for. They aren't true blue heroes, but I think their flaws and mistakes made them even more well-rounded. This is my first experience with Mike Chen, but it certainly won't be my last. 

🞿🞿🞿🞿🞿

Chapter 3

Jamie stopped, catching himself. He’d gone too far this time. Close eyes, deep breaths, count to five, and then open eyes to see the damage.

Damn it. He’d really done it. He looked at the grout brush, then the lines between the countertop’s tiles, then back at the brush. Yes, he’d gotten the coffee stain out, but he’d also scrubbed too hard, wearing away some of the grout.

Twenty minutes ago, he’d arrived home, throwing his cashfilled backpack on the futon cushion. It landed with a thump, startling Normal out of her cat tuffet next to the window. And though he stopped to give Normal a calming pet, his instincts took over, starting with a meticulous cleaning of the litter box, then a complete vacuum of the small apartment. Then organizing his stack of library books into a preferred reading order, putting away the neatly folded clothes in the laundry basket, cleaning the pour-over coffee carafe and kettle before brewing a fresh cup. As it settled, he noticed some drips of coffee had absorbed into the grout lines adjacent to his row of ceramic mugs, thus kicking off his quest for a completely clean and reset kitchen. All of the fear and concern and guilt from the day funneled into his end-to-end cleaning spree even though it wasn’t Sunday, the day he typically reserved for getting his home in order.

But this. Flecks of dried grout stuck to the brush bristles, and Jamie squinted, examining them as if he tried to break into the memory of the synthetic fibers. He blinked when Normal mewed at him, snapping him back into the present. He had to slow down. He had to regroup. He’d gone too far this time, and though the counter looked clean, a closer examination showed a tiny degradation in the grout.

Damn it. Jamie blew out a sigh and surveyed the room.

So neat. So organized. In fact, it was nearly identical to when he’d woken up here, standing in the middle of a barely furnished apartment two years ago. On that morning, he had blinked as he came to, his eyes adjusting from blurry to focused, taking in the sun shining through the cheap tan drapes onto the futon in the middle of the living space. Once he’d realized where he was, it had dawned on him that he didn’t know who he was. He’d walked methodically through the semifurnished apartment, looking for triggers. Coffee table, bread, water, sink, bed, toothbrush. He knew what those were, their purpose, but none offered clues about himself. Even the mirror produced zero recognition; he didn’t know what history lay behind those eyes, what the story was behind the scar on his palm.

So neat. So organized. In fact, it was nearly identical to when he’d woken up here, standing in the middle of a barely furnished apartment two years ago. On that morning, he had blinked as he came to, his eyes adjusting from blurry to focused, taking in the sun shining through the cheap tan drapes onto the futon in the middle of the living space. Once he’d realized where he was, it had dawned on him that he didn’t know who he was. He’d walked methodically through the semifurnished apartment, looking for triggers. Coffee table, bread, water, sink, bed, toothbrush. He knew what those were, their purpose, but none offered clues about himself. Even the mirror produced zero recognition; he didn’t know what history lay behind those eyes, what the story was behind the scar on his palm.

And now? What he wouldn’t give for that blissful ignorance, free from knowing that the injured woman from today was all his fault.

How could he have been so stupid, so reckless?

As with each of his bank robberies, he’d taken his time, planned a strategy, even wrote out his script beforehand and memorized it. He still lacked in execution, but that was why he had checked out some acting books from the library. The whole goal, the entire focus was to get in and out as quickly, as cleanly as possible. That meant brain-stunning the people in the building in a very specific order under a very specific time frame, all while cackling like a cartoon character and reciting over-the-top lines in a not-quite-there American accent.

If he controlled the entire situation, then no one got hurt and he did his job.

Except when one of them had a medical condition.

Jamie cursed at himself, cursed his fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude, cursed the whole damn situation. Not once, not a single time had he ever considered the possibility of a medical issue.

He finally broke, forcing himself to move. A click on the remote control brought his small TV to life, flashing a news report about electrical surges throughout the city before turning to the bank heist. His fingers fumbled to hit the power button again, taking several tries before the screen thankfully went to black, leaving only the sounds of a hungry cat meowing to remind him that he hadn’t given her dinner or her nightly treat of coconut water yet. Jamie set the grout brush in the sink, and obliged the demanding cat.

Seconds later, the room filled with a content rumbling of purrs.

But even Normal’s happy noises failed to remove the trauma of the day. The sound of the woman’s head hitting the tile. The sight of the blood pooling. The desperate cries of her coworker.

Don’t think about it don’t think about it don’t think about it.

Onward. Next task: the money. He grabbed the backpack and headed to the bedroom. The backpack’s large top zipper got caught as he tugged on it, and the stress of the day gnawed at his patience, skipping past his normal mode of meticulously fixing it and jumping right to forcing it free. On the underside of the zipper, the corner of a hundred-dollar bill clung in between the metal clasps.

Jamie sighed, a sound soon mimicked by Normal yawning at his feet. “You have no idea,” he told the cat before reaching in and starting his post-robbery sorting process for cash.

A buzzing sound rattled the room, causing a handful of loose coins on the end table to dance; it broke his focus, jolting his shoulders and neck in surprise. From the hallway, he heard Normal’s claws catch in the thin carpeting before dashing off to find a hiding spot from the abrupt noise.

He picked up the phone, heart pounding that it might be someone on his trail. But a glance at his screen caused a sigh of relief. Reminder: Support Group. San Delgado East Side YMCA. Six o’clock.

Right. The weekly support group—more specifically, San Delgado Memory Loss & Dementia Support Group.

Not that Jamie cared about the giant gap in his personal life, the big cloud of nothing stemming from the moment he awoke in this apartment all the way back to, well, his birth. Something pulled him away from those thoughts whenever he even approached the matter, like staring into a bright beam of light until the intensity forced his eyes away. Every time. That avoidance happened so frequently it felt instinctive at this point, skirting whatever that was and whoever truly stood behind the impenetrable fog.

It didn’t matter. No, the support group was for learning more about memory loss in general, to guard himself from any further memories vanishing.

The irony of the Mind Robber dealing with all that didn’t escape him.

He resumed unloading the cash, first putting the stacks by denomination from left to right, then counting and rubber-banding any loose ones complete with a Post-it note with the total on each makeshift bundle. In the closet sat a safe—something that had been absolutely terrible to get into his apartment. He pulled off the blanket hiding it and turned the dial. Left with click click clicks. Then right. Then left again.

It opened up, revealing a larger version of the stacks assembled on his bed. Jamie took new bundles, two at a time, and neatly set them in the appropriate spots, making each tower of cash grow until the backpack and the bed were clear of evidence. A notebook leaned on the cash; Jamie pulled it out and opened it to the ledger he’d crafted, filling out the columns with the latest tally of earnings, anticipated expenses, safety-net cash and overall savings.

At the top of that column was a little drawing he’d made of a palm tree and a beach. Based on today’s earnings, he was nearly 80 percent to his goal. Depending on the size of each haul, a few more robberies—especially if he remembered to ask for the stacks of hundreds specifically—would provide enough financial comfort to retire on a tropical beach at a much lower cost of living. He’d read that the coffee in the Caribbean was excellent.

A comfortable permanence, as long as the Throwing Star didn’t track him down. That further complicated things, and Jamie wondered if he’d jinxed it all by invoking her during his bank performance. He gritted his teeth.

So close to a fresh start. For him and Normal, and he wouldn’t let the Throwing Star jeopardize that.

Normal gave an urgent meow, which translated in cat speak to “Where is my bed?” Jamie folded the blanket exactly and draped it over the safe, then put a small cat tuffet back on top of it. A gray-and-orange blur zipped by, and in one leap, landed on the tuffet, turning his trail of crime and/or source of income into the world’s most valuable cat bed.

Jamie exhaled, and his mattress bounced as he flopped on his back, eyes glued to the ceiling but brain refusing to shut off. One blink and he saw the woman fall again. Every time he closed his eyes, the image reappeared, except each instance seemed to intensify in its color and sound, the sheer vibrancy of his mind seemingly taunting him.

He could lift the memory out. He’d done it before as an experiment, including writing a note with steps and details as proof that he’d removed his immediate recall of the moment. It left him with what he presumed to be the same nausea that his victims experienced, and other than a few follow-up trials, he hadn’t done it for any practical purpose.

A small price to pay to be relieved of the guilt.

Jamie raised his hand, this time pointed at himself, and he closed his eyes, digging deep to flip through his own memories. Bright and fresh, full volume and movement, no haziness or missing pockets of moments. One wipe and it’d be gone.

But what would that make him? A possible murderer without a conscience? He treated his villain persona and robberies as a job, an income. Not to hurt people, not with malevolence or sociopathic apathy.

No.

This memory had to stay.

Jamie lowered his hand.

There was a knock at the door, jolting him to his feet.

He closed his eyes and stretched out with his mind, sensing the ghostly silhouette of a single form at his door.

No one ever came to his door.

“San Delgado police. Is anyone home?”

The very idea of having law enforcement at his door caused Jamie’s hands to tremble and a thin layer of sweat to form on his forehead. He could brain-stun the officer and run. He could dive into the officer’s memories, see what happened, why he was here—maybe it was just a fundraiser for the Police Athletic League.

Another knock rattled the door.

If he brain-stunned the officer, that wouldn’t exactly be inconspicuous. You couldn’t just leave gawking, unresponsive police on your doorstep. And the officer’s location was probably tracked by SDPD, which meant that lifting memories and sending him on his way would only lead to more trouble.

No, the only way out of this was through it.

Jamie took a deep breath, put on a baseball cap with a logo of the local San Delgado Barons hockey team, then marched to the door. He opened it halfway to find the very serious, very professional face of a plainclothes officer. Despite the fact that he stood shorter than Jamie, his sturdy build made him far more intimidating.

“May I help you?” Jamie held the door ajar. “Sorry,” he said, native English accent in full display, “I have a cat that tries to get out if I open the door all the way.” As if on cue, mews came from behind him and Jamie scooped up the pudgy feline. Mental note: she deserved extra coconut water tonight. “Be nice, Normal.”

The detective tilted his head at the name, then chuckled, sunlight gleaming off the light brown skin of his shaven bald dome. “No problem. Sorry to bother you this evening. Detective Patrick Chesterton. I’m the lead on the Mind Robber case.”

No reaction rippled through Jamie. Which was probably a reaction in itself. He waited, seconds stretching into vast chunks of time, and though he somehow managed to keep a polite expression on his face, the pounding in his chest might have given him away.

“We get anonymous tips all the time about the Mind Robber. Some people even claim to be him. But this one was very specific. And since we know he left on a train heading eastbound about ninety minutes ago, I thought I’d check it out.” He glanced over his shoulder, eyes tracking past the courtyard and toward the parking lot. “Traffic is going to be hell getting back to the station.”

Jamie told himself to laugh, though in a completely different way from the forced maniacal display of the Mind Robber. Calm, quiet, a little nervous—the natural kind of nervous anyone got when questioned by law enforcement. Normal must have agreed, as she continued mewing in his arms.

“Well, aren’t you a nice cat?” the detective said, his voice softening. He reached up to pet Normal’s round head, but the cat replied with a hiss. Before Jamie could stop her, she swatted at Chesterton. The cat kicked out of his arms, and Jamie turned to see a streak of pudgy fur dashing for the bedroom.

“Oh, I’m so—” Jamie stopped himself at the realization that the detective nursed a fresh scratch across the knuckles.

If they weren’t going to get him for being the Mind Robber, what about assault via cat scratch?

“I’m so, so sorry. Normal usually loves strangers.” That was a lie, or it might have been a lie. Normal never met anyone, regular or stranger, so the sample size on that remained small. “But she gets weird occasionally.” That part was true. Jamie held up his hand, palm out. “See this scar across my palm? Normal got me good one time.”

Flat-out lie: Jamie had no idea where that scar came from, though whenever he focused on it for too long, a strange mix of nausea and embarrassment would flood over him.

“It’s okay,” Chesterton said. “I had a cat growing up. They can be temperamental. I should know better than to do that. Anyway, the tip said that someone who fit the build and look of the Mind Robber was in this area. This block, actually.” He looked Jamie up and down. If Jamie decided to risk it, he probably could have poked into the detective’s memories and seen specifically what he was thinking, even the source of the tip. “Have you seen anyone who fits that profile?”

In the courtyard, Jamie caught sight of the old couple across the way trying to get their mini schnauzer puppy to obey commands. They looked over at Chesterton, then Jamie, and Jamie offered a reassuring wave. Despite being a theoretical villain, he still wanted to be a good neighbor. “I, um, actually don’t watch the news much. I find it triggering.”

“Ah, got it. He’s Caucasian. Around six feet tall. Thin build. Strong chin. That’s about it, really, though. His hood and mask obscure everything else.”

“Well,” Jamie said. A response came to mind, and he debated whether or not he was being too clever. His arms extended and a wry smile came over his face a little too easily. Maybe learning to play a villain had turned the gesture into muscle memory. “That sounds like me.” The words came out smooth, just enough of a joking lilt that they threaded the needle between bullshit and levity. It came naturally, almost uncannily so.

For a moment, nothing happened. Neither man blinked, and even Normal stayed quiet. The only noise came from squeaking brakes as a car pulled into the adjacent parking lot.

Then the detective burst out laughing. “I like you,” he said, before reaching into his back pocket. Jamie’s hand moved into position, a subtle gesture that only he could detect should he need to brain-stun. His fingers raised ever so slightly in preparation when a buzz in his back pocket caused both men to stand at attention.

“Sorry, just my reminder,” Jamie said after pulling out his phone. The device’s blinking screen gave him an idea. “My weekly support group. I, uh, need to get going.”

“Oh, of course. Good for you,” he said. “It takes a strong person to seek out help.” Jamie’s head bobbed at the compliment, and the detective finished reaching in his back pocket. He held up a business card. “Do me a favor and call if you see or hear anything that strikes you as suspicious. About him or the Throwing Star. We’re no fan of vigilantes, extraordinary or not. You can’t just run around in a suit beating up people. I don’t care if they’re good or bad. You know, if either of them just called us first and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got these abilities,’ you can bet we’d have found a job for them.” Chesterton glanced at the cat scratch on his hand before letting out a short laugh. “I heard she tripped in the Metro station and let the Mind Robber get away,” he said with a headshake. “I guess ‘extraordinary’ comes in many forms.”

All forms. That skepticism, if not admirable, at least provided some cover. “Right,” Jamie said, taking the card. “I’ll keep an eye out.”

“Even if you hear anything about weird crimes in Hartnell City. Their PD asked us about the Mind Robber. Guess they’re seeing some strange activity too.”

“Of course, Detective.”

Jamie’s exhale was nearly as loud as the slamming of the door. He’d never been that close to getting caught before.

Who could have possibly tipped the police? He’d wiped the memories of any OmegaCars driver that took him close by, and even then, he’d always walked the last few blocks, taking different routes each time. Could the Throwing Star have tracked him? Possibly, but she seemed more like the “punch in the teeth” than “call the cops” type.

Questions circled as Jamie heard the roar of the detective’s car coming to life. Through the blinds, Jamie watched a dark blue sedan pull halfway across the parking lot before pausing for a handful of seconds and then finally rolling away. Chesterton was gone for now, but if he suspected anything, the best course of action would be for Jamie to act as any normal civilian would. In this case, it meant going exactly where the detective expected him to be.

Normal meowed a farewell as Jamie grabbed a jacket—not his black hoodie—and locked the door behind him.

It was almost time for the support group. Even if he didn’t want to go.

Excerpted from We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen, Copyright © 2021 by Mike Chen. Published by MIRA Books. 


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Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist, Tor) and covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets. A member of SFWA and Codex Writers, Mike lives in the Bay Area, where he can be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @mikechenwriter


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Author website: https://www.mikechenbooks.com/ 

Twitter: @mikechenwriter

Instagram: @mikechenwriter

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