It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.
Heather L. Reid eats mayonnaise on her fries, loves men in kilts, and met her husband playing Star Wars Galaxies online. This native Texan now lives with her Scottish hubby in North Ayrshire, Scotland, where she wanders the moors in search of Heathcliff and William Wallace.
Books You Are Dying to Read
My TBR list is HUGE, but here are my top ten.
1) The Winds of Winter by George RR Martin
2) The Diviners by Libba Bray
3) Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
4) Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
5) Taken by Erin Bowman
6) Deception by CJ Redwine
7) Thornhill by Kathleen Peacock
8) Angel Fever by LA Weatherly
9) The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
10) Eden At The Edge of Midnight by John Kerry
Quinn’s room greeted her with its warm walls and bright, floral patterns. Shades shifted and writhed in every corner, and her stomach twisted with them. It was her own fault the hallucinations haunted her. She’d trapped herself in a vicious cycle of fear and paranoia, and her rational side would have to work overtime to break it.
“You are all in my head,” she declared in false bravado. The shadows flickered and faded into normal shadows, but her hand still trembled as she fished the letter from her jeans. She traced her name on the envelope, and then slid a finger under the flap. Three pages of lined paper unfolded in her hands. A check fell from between the sheets. She held it between her thumb and forefinger and slid down the wall to sit on the floor, pulling her knees to her chest. Five hundred dollars—a dollar for every day he’d been gone. It would never be enough.
Quinn flung the check away. It spun through the air and drifted down like a leaf to land a few feet from the door. The lights flickered, and a soft tickling sensation, like a spider crawling up her neck, made her shiver. She smoothed her hair to one side until it spilled over her shoulder in one long spiral twist. That’s when she noticed a few tendrils of blond hair appeared gray, as if entwined in shadow. She blinked, running her fingers through every inch, examining the strands. Blond, gold, even a few strawberry pieces, but not one thread of gray.
Too much caffeine was making her paranoid, seeing things that weren’t there. She straightened out the letter and read:
It’s been so long that I don’t know where to start. I’m sorry. Maybe that’s the best way to begin.
Sorry? He was actually saying sorry? Better late than never, right? Quinn shivered as a cold draft brushed past her and settled around her neck. Stop making excuses for him. You always do this—defend him. Just stop. It’s a little late for sorry.
What felt like a trickle of ice seeped into her ear, and she shuddered, rubbing her palm against the side of her head until the warmth returned.
I decided it would be better if I disappeared for a while, gave you both time to forgive me.
You call eighteen months a while? A while is going out for milk, not for another life. Bitter dark thoughts crawled inside her mind, intensifying her anger and hurt.
But I’ve missed you too much. I’ve thought about calling a hundred times, but every time I pick up the phone, I chicken out. I thought a letter would be the best way to get my thoughts across. I didn’t want to leave you, but I thought it would be better if you stayed with your mom. I hope you understand that.
Sure, I understand you are a coward and a liar.
Anyway, you remember Sheryl? Well, she and I are settled in California.
“Don’t forget cheat,” the shadow voice whispered, mingling with her own. And a cheat. Her thoughts mirrored its words.
It’s beautiful here. We’ve opened a restaurant right on the water, and it’s packed every night. After all those years of struggling and job-hopping, I finally found my calling. Sheryl runs the business, and I get to cook and spend time talking with customers. Our house is only a mile from the beach. The only thing that would make me happier is being a part of your life again. Sheryl wants to get to know you, too.
How’s school? Have you decided on a college?
As if I would tell you.
Tell your mom not to worry about the expense. I know I haven’t been much of a father, but I’ve put away enough money to cover your tuition, books, housing, and anything else you might need. I want to do this for you and your mother.
Yeah right, she’ll tell you where you can stick your money.
You might even consider UCLA.
Not on your life.
It’s only thirty minutes from here. It would be wonderful to have you near us, all of us. There’s someone who would especially like to meet you.
Quinn tensed. A sick knot grew in her stomach.
You have a new baby brother.
Her chest ached, and she blinked back tears.
He’s two weeks old. We named him Jacob Francis Taylor, after your grandfather. He reminds me of you as a baby: strong and always hungry. Now I have two little pumpkins.
Quinn dropped the letter. Tears streamed down her face, dripping on the black ink, swirling the words into nothingness.
How dare he name him after my grandfather; how dare he call him pumpkin.
Black shapes shifted against the wall, slithering closer, mirroring the storm brewing inside, urging her to focus on her pain. “Throw a little money your way and you’ll forget the last two years of hell?” Shaded voices overlapped with her thoughts, one feeding off the other.
He could have asked me to come live with him months ago.
“That’s right,” the shadow voice agreed.
He could have sent me a plane ticket to visit him. He didn’t even tell me she was pregnant!
“He was too busy making a new life without you,” it added.
Anger, trapped for so long inside her, bubbled to the surface. She buried her head in her hands and dug her nails into her scalp, and the lights flickered and dimmed.
“People you love always leave.”
Dad left me. A bang of her forehead against her knees punctuated each bleak thought.
“Jeff left you.”
“She’s always running away to work. She’s never here when you really need her.”
I really need her.
Quinn jerked her head from her hands, and the shadows scattered as the lights brightened. Wadding the letter into a tight ball, she slammed it into the trash and turned the radio on, volume to the max. The loud frantic scream of Smashrock’s lead singer matched her mood perfectly. Letting the hysteria of the music spur her anger, she kicked the trashcan. It flew into the wall. Its wicker side creaked against the force as crumpled tissues and wads of paper exploded across the room.
Broken promises, broken dreams, broken heart—nothing but pieces of her remained. Quinn crawled on her hands and knees, banging her fists on the floor, primal pain thrumming through her. She screamed and crawled, banged and drummed, and between fits of rage, retrieved bits of Kleenex to stuff back into the trashcan. She tried stuffing down all the emotion, but the confusion in her head melted into the confusion of the music, each driving the other to a higher frenzy.
A pair of scissors gleamed from her dressing table. She grabbed them, examining the smooth, sharp edges. She put her fingers through the holes, opening and closing them, listening to the soft swish of metal grazing metal. Trembling, she dragged the cold tip across her forearm, evoking an angry red scratch. Now her flesh reflected the angry scars on her heart. No one would care, and there wasn’t anyone there to stop her. Alone. Always alone.
She stood and stared at the full-length mirror on the back of her door. Her long hair shone under the lamp. She grabbed a handful and opened the scissors wide, feeding her hair to the hungry blades. The weight fell from her, and she cut faster, clumps of blond hair floating to the floor.
Signed copy of PRETTY DARK NOTHING, bookmarks, sleep mask, and nail polish! (US Only). Five ebook copies of PRETTY DARK NOTHING (Internationally)