Title: Dark Dreams and Dead Things
Author: Martina McAtee
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb: 17-year-old November Lonergan spent her whole life feeling like an outsider. She was right. Sheâs a reaper like her mother; like her two cousins, Kai and Tristin. The supernatural world believes they are part of a prophecy to save them from an evil known as the Grove. Ember just wants to survive high school and fix the fallout from bringing back her friend. Old enemies are lurking; waiting for their opportunity to strike but the pack has a new problem. A group of legendary hunters has resurfaced, threatening the reapers and anybody who stands with them. They are making good on their threats too; attacking those closest to the pack. Their only hope of defeating the Legionaries involves trusting a stranger to perform a dangerous spell to advance Ember and her cousinâs powers. But Ember has a secret; a secret she canât tell the pack. One that leaves the pack vulnerable. An attack on pack allies, leaves one member of the group injured and another missing, along with a mysterious girl named Evangeline who may play a bigger part in this than any of them realize. As the Legionaries are closing in, the pack must trust their enemies, enter hostile territories, and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a psychopath. Their entire plan lynches on a dangerous bargain, but rescuing one member of the pack could mean losing another in their placeâ¦possibly forever.
Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack chihuahua's and two shady looking cats. When she isn't writing young adult books about worlds with reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures she's reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things released in August of 2015. Her second book in the Dead Things series, Dark Dreams and Dead Things, will release July 15, 2016.
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âIt would appear you owe me a new body, Luv.â
November Lonergan stared at the ghost of her dead pseudo-boyfriend and contemplated how truly screwed up her life had become. Despite everything that happened that night, Mace was there, standing in her window, fading in and out, image static. She sighed from her toes, not sure how she felt about the situation. Of course he was there.
He flickered, image strengthening as she got closer. There was still blood on his torn t-shirt but his silver hair looked cleaner than the last time sheâd seen him. The symbols sheâd painted on his skin were gone but the of scars layered across his torso remained. His dark brows were smudges over luminous silver eyes. He was beautiful even in death.
She opened her mouth to say something but realized there was nothing at all suitable for this occasion. Sheâd already endured a blood ritual, two deaths, a knife fight and a resurrection; she didnât know if she could handle anything else today. Her magic didnât agree, it stretched and purred at Maceâs presence, reaching out for his power. Even death hadnât severed their magicâs connection it seemed. She didnât give in to the temptation to move closer.
The heat of her magic and a bone deep exhaustion had her swaying on her feet. He moved towards her before seeming to remember he was of little use in his present condition. âYou donât look very well. Maybe you should sit down.â
Ember nodded, not so much sitting as collapsing onto her pale pink bedspread. âOr you could lie down.â She heard Mace mutter. She yawned so hard her jaw cracked. She was still fully clothed but undressing seemed as impossible as climbing a mountain. She wiggled her toes. She needed to take her shoes off. She made a halfhearted attempt. âWhen did my feet get so far away?â
He glanced at her feet. âThey appear to be in the same place as always.â He walked back towards the window. âWhile youâre just lying about perhaps you could enlighten me on how exactly you plan to fix this disaster?â
Ember blinked up at him. Funny how quickly his affections turned. âAn hour ago it was âdo what you have to do, Luv. I could have loved youâ now itâs hurry up and fix this?â
He chuckled at her terrible impression of his accent. âI was trying to be noble and romantic in my final moments of existence. Now that I still exist, I think weâve wasted enough time on sentiment.â
âHaving your soul back obviously hasnât made you a better person.â
âDid you think it would? I told you not to romanticize me. My soul was tarnished long before I gave it away.â Even as a glitchy apparition, she could see the moment her words sunk in. âDid you say my soul?â
He hadnât realized what him appearing in her room meant. âDidnât you wonder why youâre still here?â
âCertainly, but that wasnât the answer I expected. How?â
Ember yawned again, eyelids drooping. âCanât we talk about it tomorrow? Iâm so tired.â
He gaped at her. âSeriously? You tell me I have a soul and now you want to go to sleep?â
âYes. Iâm tired. Iâve had a rather rough day.â
âReally? Did a witch force you to cut open your own stomach and create a mural with your own entrails? No? Then I win.â
Ember was too tired to play. âDrama queen.â
There was a long pause before he said. âYou might consider a shower. You are still covered in blood. My blood specifically. Quite a lot actually.â
Ember groaned, looking down at herself with effort. She was pretty gross. She was so tired though. âIf you werenât a ghost Iâd force you to carry me.â
There was a low chuckle. âInviting me to shower with you? Iâm sure that would go over quite well with the little alpha.â
Ember thought about the alpha werewolf currently downstairs cleaning the kitchen. After the night theyâd all had, she doubted Isa would be concerning herself with such mundane things as teenage hormones. Could the wolves hear her talking to Mace? Could they hear Mace? See him? Did they think she was in here talking to herself? Could she only see him because she was a reaper? She had so many questions.
She rolled to her feet, grabbing her things and keeping her thoughts to herself. She hurried to the bathroom and locked the door. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and froze. He wasnât lying. She was covered in blood, and not just his blood. Her bright orange curls were a tangled sweaty mess matted together with blood and who knows what else. There were dark smudges under her eyes, making her already pale skin look chalky under the soft white lights. Her violet eyes glowed--actually, glowed--like the wolves did mid shift. That was new. Had they been glowing since the ritual or was Maceâs presence sending her magic into hyper-drive?
She flipped the water on and stripped down, not even waiting for the water to heat up before stepping beneath the spray. She realized almost immediately her mistake. She muffled a scream, bouncing from one foot to the other under the frigid water, relaxing only when steam finally began to rise.
âSo, tell me; how did I get back my soul?â
Ember gasped, slipping and yelping as her back hit the cold tiles. She stuck her head around the curtain. âThere is a reason these doors lock.â
His smile was disarming. âThere isnât a lock in the world that would keep me away from you, Luv.â
She rolled her eyes, righting the navy and white shower curtain, absently wondering how much he could see in those white stripes. âThat is like the most stalkery thing youâve ever said to me and you rank really high on the creepy-lurker-stalker-guy meter.â
There was another throaty laugh. âI am starting to think this power has gone to your head. Five hours ago you were weeping at my side like a war widow.â
Her mouth fell open. She yanked the curtain back enough to level a glare at him. âFive hours ago, I thought Iâd never see you again. Five hours ago, I thought I needed you. Five hours ago, I hadnât known youâd been playing me the entire time. Remember? Youâre the parasite and Iâm the host. You needed me. You lied to me this whole time.â
He shrugged, incredulous. âOf course, I lied. I could hardly tell you the truth. You would have booted me into the abyss, which you ended up doing anyway, I might add.â
She made a noise of disgust. This was Mace with a soul. âIâm such an idiot.â She said, more to herself than him. He tilted his head, a hint of something behind his eyes, regret maybe? She didnât give in, letting the curtain drop back into place, determined to ignore him.
She scrubbed herself quickly, alarmed at how little it bothered her to have this conversation with him while she was naked.
âI didnât lie about my feelings for you, Luv; if that means anything?â âHah.â Like she was going to believe anything he said now.
âIâm serious. If you believe nothing else. Believe I meant what I said.â
âYou said you could love me. If youâd been capable. Well, apparently you were capable this whole time. So I donât even know what to do with your half-assed confession of love.â
Why was she even talking about this? Maybe it was the shower curtain. It was like a confessional. It was so much easier to talk to somebody when you didnât have to look at them.
âHalf-assed?â He said, âI sacrificed myself so that our dear friend, Quinn, could have my body.â
Ember choked on her laugh. âOh, please. You were kidnapped and tied to a chair with a gaping abdominal wound. Itâs not like you volunteered for the job.â Emberâs eyes dropped to her feet, shuddering at the blood spiraling towards the drain.
Mace wasnât done being offended. âWell, that hardly matters. Quinnâs soul is safely housed in my body and Iâmâ¦here? So you could at least tell me how this all came to be.â
Ember rolled her eyes. He was impossible. âNot that you deserve any sort of explanation but Ms. Josephine says I restored your soul the night we met in the cemetery.â
He was quiet for so long she caved and, yet again, pulled the curtain back enough to ensure he was still there. He stared at nothing, jaw slack. âIâve had my soul the whole time?â
âYep.â She couldnât help but feel a bit smug about how wrecked he looked.
She slathered conditioner into her hair. âThatâs what Josephine thinks.â
âThe swamp witch?â
âOh, thatâs right. You were dead. Josephine the swamp witch isnât a witch at all. Well, maybe sheâs a witch but sheâs also an Oracle, because those are apparently a thing too. Oh, and Miller, my boss from the funeral home is actually Josephineâs brother and sheâs had him, like, watching me this whole time and Donovan is her grandson.â
He sounded awed as he said, âGood Lord, how long have I been dead? Iâve clearly missed a lot.â
âYou have no idea. Allister tried to kill me but Quinn saved me by stabbing Allister but as Allister was dying he forced Quinn to absorb his magic.â
âThe human killed his own father to save you? I didnât think he had it in him.â
âFormer human.â She corrected. "Besides, Allister isn't dead."
"What? What do you mean? You just said Quinn killed him."
She hesitated before saying, "I revived him."
"Revived or resurrected?" Mace asked, leery.
"What's the difference?" Ember asked, deliberately avoiding answering.
"Reviving is CPR, resurrecting is bringing a soul back across the veil. Stop being evasive, Luv."
"Fine, I resurrected him."
"With a spell?"
"No" she said, tone casual. "With my hands."
She could hear his forced exhalation. âThis is all very astonishing, even in our circle.â
Her heart did a strange skip at the word âourâ. She was pathetic. She snagged the towel and wrapped it around herself.
âWhy would they go to all this trouble to orchestrate this elaborate plan?â
She yanked the curtain open and stared at him. His eyes roamed her body, starting at her toes and working their way up. He grinned at her petulant expression. âSorry, Luv. Iâm dead, not blind. Iâve never been so jealous of a piece of cotton.â
She rolled her eyes. âMove, please.â
âWhy? You can just walk right through me.â He wiggled his eyebrows. âI encourage it, in fact.â
When she didnât take the bait he moved, following her back into her bedroom. âYou didnât answer my questions. So, what are you to two witches? Or a witch and an oracle?â
âThey have a crazy theory.â
âWhich isâ¦?â he prompted in exasperation.
âThey believe that Tristin, Kai and I are descendants of some ancient triple goddess.â
âThe Morrigan?â Mace said, sounding like the breath had been punched from his lungs.
Ember narrowed her eyes. âYes, exactly. They say there is some sort of prophecy. Itâs insane. They are both insane.â
He watched her for a moment as she wriggled into her t-shirt and sleep shorts without revealing anything. She towel-dried her curls.
âI suppose it makes sense.â
âNothing about this situation makes sense.â She told him, slipping between the sheets with a moan that bordered on obscene. She didnât know what sex felt like but she bet it wasnât as good as cold Egyptian cotton with a 700 thread count. She flipped her light off, amused as his spirit gave off a faint glow allowing her to see his annoyed expression.
âWhat are you doing?â He asked.
âWeâve had this conversation. Going to sleep.â
âYou canât. We have to figure this out.â
âWhat if Iâm not here tomorrow?â He asked quietly.
Emberâs eyes jerked open, pulse tripping. She hadnât thought about that. Could he cross over?
Would he want that? Heâd been immortal for a very long time. âYou mean what if you cross over? Could you? Is that something youâd want?â
He sounded sick when he said, âTo be tortured for all eternity in the pits of hell? No, Luv, Iâll pass, thank you. Besides, soul or no, sluagh canât cross over into the spirit world.â
âSo why do you look so worried?â
âBecause there are things far worse.â
âWorse than hell?â
âAye. I told you before, nobody gets away with the things I did.â
âWeâll figure something out.â She said without thinking. Why was she still trying to help him? He really wasnât her problem. All those squishy sad feelings sheâd had after he was gone were quickly turning to something else. She didnât know what to call it but it felt like it was burning a hole through her chest.
She reached out; her hand brushing his. Her magic shocked through her, causing them both to suck in a breath.
Again, that same spooked look. It made her shiver. What the hell could scare Mace?
âBut we have to figure this out tonight.â
She wanted to tell him not to worry but she felt drugged, eyelids so heavy. âTomorrow. I promise.â
âEmber.â Her name sounded like a plea but she was too far gone.
âTomorrow.â She mumbled, already falling into sleep.