Scarred Teaser #3…

Here’s the latest teaser to tide you over for another month. Enjoy 🙂

 

Wiggling my way under the bed, I hoped to score a pair of black, spandex
shorts. My efforts were quickly derailed.

“Why do I seem to always get this view of you?” Sean purred from
somewhere in my room. It startled me enough to make me whack my head on
the bed rail.

“Ouch!” I yelled, trying to rub the growing bump in the confined space.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he continued, his voice moving closer, “I enjoy the
view immensely, but seriously, Ruby…if I had a dollar for every time I caught
you like this, I could buy another car.”

“You could buy another car regardless,” I argued, ass still hanging out from
under the bed. “Maybe you should stop barging in on people when you’re not
invited and you wouldn’t have this problem at all.”

“Maybe you should try cleaning your room so you wouldn’t have this
problem.”

He had a point.

“Fine,” I yelled from under the bed, grabbing what I thought were shorts.
“You win. I’ll clean.” I shimmied back out on my belly and came to stand in
front of him. I held up the black fabric that—amazingly enough—turned out to be
what I was looking for.

Sean eyed the tiny strip of fabric with a dash of
amusement.

“Are those for a six-year-old?”

“They stretch!” I said, slapping him playfully in the chest with object in
question. “Jerk.”

He tried to contain his laughter, but failed miserably, sending me out of the
room, eyes rolling, to the bathroom so I could change. I emerged seconds later
wearing only the tiny shorts and a tank top.

All the playfulness drained from his face.

 

 

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Is Caged a Young Adult (YA) Novel?

This question seems to be searched on my site as well as google a fair amount.  For some reason, people seem to be associating my novels with the young adult book population. The short answer to the title of this blog is no, it is NOT a YA novel.

The long answer is a little more complicated than that.

I’ve read a fair amount of YA fiction over the last couple of years, and though the characters are young, the content is not. This isn’t for me to comment on as to whether I think that’s good or bad, but what it does make me consider is whether or not Caged could be appropriate for some younger readers.  I think the answer to that is yes.

I can think of several YA novels that contain language, graphic violence and sexual content/situations that far surpass what is in my own work.  Personally, I have friends who have let their 13-18 year old children read Caged, and have no issues with it at all.  I’m sure other parents would. In response to this confusion, I have elected to post content advisories at the bottom of my novels on Amazon to list what obectionable material is contained inside.  This is something that I’ve chosen to do not only because I am a parent, but also because I feel that books should have some way of denoting what to expect with their content.  Tv shows have warnings…movies too.  Why not books?

Sexual content is always a bit tricky because not all sex scenes are created equal.  I’m not a romance writer, though romantic themes carry out through the series.  That being said, there are sexual encounters in some of the novels.  Where some choose to go into graphic detail, oulining everything that occurs between the characters, I do not.  My grandmother told me once that if I was doing something that I was too embarrassed to admit to my parents, I shouldn’t be doing it.  This was sage advice, and I apply it in my life still, even at thirty-four.  I could NOT show my parents something that contained certain terms, or painted certain pictures.  I think I would die.  What I’ve done to compensate for this is to make those scenes about the characters themselves and the relationship between them rather than keep the primary focus on the act itself.  You still get the gist in a relatively steamy way, without it being too in your face and graphic.  I think grandma would approve if she were still around to have seen it.  I also think she’d be all about Cooper 🙂

My stand on violence/gore is this: sometimes it enhances a scene, and sometimes it’s gratuitous.  Having read the Hunger Games, I don’t feel that anything I write is more graphic than the goriest scenes in that novel, though my tone tends to be far darker and creepier in combination with the violence.  That tone is more so what makes it adult than anything, in my eyes. I also don’t feel that anything I have down in print holds a candle to the violence that is found in R rated or even PG 13 movies, or the content on TV shows viewed after 9 p.m..

Now my favorite issue: language.  The bottom line is that sometimes…you just gotta swear.

I hope for anyone who has searched for this explanation that it has been helpful to you.  If you’re still uncertain about content, my suggestion would be to read it yourself before deciding.  And if you find Caged objectionable, you may want to investigate some of the marketed YA material your children are reading.  You may be shocked by what you find. 

Official 5-Star Review from rabidreads.ca

Thanks to Carmel at http://www.rabidreads.ca for such an AMAZING review of Caged.  It made me smile from ear to ear.

Carmel says:

This book starts off slowly but by the end it absolutely howls with excellence! Caged is very much plot driven and when paired with Ruby’s outstanding voice this story quickly becomes next to impossible to put down. Natusch’s descriptions are spellbinding without putting even the smallest damper on the endless action. This novel is hilariously funny, well edited and even introduces a new breed of werewolves. Talk about bang for your buck! Caged has many pros and very little cons; what’s even more surprising is that this is Amber’s indie debut.

The story starts off rather slow and I found myself re-reading the blurb to figure out if I accidentally agreed to review a *gasps* non-paranormal book. However, once the story started to reveal itself I quickly realized that the beginning wasn’t slow at all. Amber was actually putting the building blocks in place for a killer story. Knowing what I know now, the opening chapters of this tale make a whole lot more sense. The plot line comes full circle beautifully and no stone is left unturned. I loved watching everything come together seamlessly. You definitely have to stick this one out until the end in order to be able to fully appreciate the depth of this story.

Ruby’s voice is very compelling from the get-go and becomes even more so as the book progresses. I found her way of dealing with the new found truth that is her life very realistic. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sarcastic way in which she keeps “score” when faced with challenging situations. One of my favorite parts of this story happens when Ruby escapes from the compound and is confronted by her foes in a clearing. She adopts a fierce attitude of “I might be going down but I am going to take as many of you with me as possible”.

At first, the bad guys are cleverly disguised as allies and I found this approach both original and intriguing. I can usually pick out the enemies pretty early on in a book so I really enjoyed the fact that Amber challenges her readers with her out of the box way of thinking. I couldn’t figure out whom to trust which made the book even more addictive because I didn’t want to stop reading! The mystery surrounding Sean was a lot of fun to unravel as well. He’s definitely not who he appears to be and the cliff hanger ending only further adds to the enigma.

Caged is a Trojan horse in disguise; it might be an indie publication but rest assured, you’re in for a wild ride. With a riveting narrative and a story line that just doesn’t quit; this book is a must read for any and all paranormal fiction junkies.

5-stars!!!

Framed Teaser #3

Here’s a scene with Ruby and Sean…enjoy!

He took my elbow in his hand from behind and jerked me into the opening of the nearest alley. My back was pressed uncomfortably against the brick facade only moments before he crammed his face in mine.

“I know you are, Ruby, but there is much at stake and you need to put on those big girl panties that you love to talk about so much and deal—deal with it, deal with life, and deal with me. I know you’re hurting. You think I like that? I don’t, but if hurting you keeps you alive, I’ll do it time and time again. You can hate me for that all you want; I’m tired of apologizing for the decisions I have to make, the job I have to do, and the past I can’t escape. You’re not the only one with problems, nor are you the only one less than pleased with the hand you’ve been dealt.” 

He spoke low and in my ear, and the sound lulled me slightly, even though his message was jarring. When he pulled back to stare me down, I felt sleepy and unstable, like the feeling you have when you jump off the table too quickly following a long massage. It took me a moment to sober up. 

I looked up at his face and saw his eyes had darkened as they always did when his emotions intensified, good or bad. I wanted to say something clever to get the last jab in, but I decided against it, thinking my anti-response would be far more poignant. 

I walked away instead.

Top 10 Heroine Stereotypes…

So I saw an amazing post from another Indie author regarding what makes a male lead sexy.  It was tongue in cheek and fabulous…and it inspired me to want to do my own take on this idea with female lead cliches.  Thanks, Dannika Dark, for the inspiration!

1) The Only-Human-Chick-in-the-Crazy-Ass-World-of-Supernatural Heroine:

Queen of the inside scoop, this leading lady is the only one in creation who gets to be let in on all the finer points about things that go “bump” in the night.  Often smart, but unpopular, this brainy loner easily accepts her newfound reality, if for no other reason than to escape her old one.  She’s driven primarily by external forces, exercising her own will as little as possible, especially if it puts her in mortal danger. Why do we love her still?  She gets the hotties, plain and simple.  And secretly, we kinda want to be her, too (don’t lie, you know you do).

2) The Clueless Wonder/Damsel in Distress Protagonist:

Now, before I start, I should explain that I have an inexplicable soft spot for these girls.  Their “wandering into chaos” M.O. just does it for me even though it should annoy the piss out of me. The Clueless Wonder is the master of never knowing what’s going on, even if it’s blatantly apparent (like the building is on fire and she can’t quite figure out why everyone is running out of it), which then leads to her other namesake: Damsel in Distress.  She’s completely incapable of lifting a finger to save her own ass, but, luckily for her, someone is always willing to do the job for her.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for being rescued.  By a hot guy.  With great abs.  And tousled hair. Who’s undoubtedly well endowed…

3) The Badass Without a Cause Heroine:

Probably my least favorite of all the heroine species, she’s dangerous, but not in a good way. She’s got all the right credentials: immortal/hard to kill, super strength, shady colleagues, looks killer in leather, and is always packing something illegal in her waistband. The problem arises when her lack of judgment leads to more problems than solutions. Throw shotguns and hand grenades into that equation and the death toll rises quickly.  If she were capable of packing as much brain power as she did ammo, she’d truly be a force to be reckoned with.

4) The Help Me, But Don’t Help Me Heroine:

She’s the Fickle Fanny of the bunch who just can’t seem to decide if she wants to bear her burden alone or not.  She’s a glory hog who can’t acknowledge her team of minions (think Martha Stewart), who helped her get to the end of the journey. It’s ALWAYS about her.  This character tends to make me insane because everything has to be on her terms.  She has an undying need to appear self-sufficient, but clearly lacks the tools to be.  She wants/needs the assistance of those more knowledgeable than her…right up until she doesn’t.

Generally, this is the protagonist that I find myself wanting to punch in the face the most, but…when she gives into her moments of breakdown/weakness, I find myself begrudgingly cheering her on.  Until I want to slap her again.

5) The Bed Hopping Heroine:

Really…this one shouldn’t require a whole lot of explanation.  She’s the character that EVERYONE wants to sleep with, including, but not limited to: hot vampires, rugged werewolves, dark mages, sketchy sorcerers, questionable fae. your mailman, the creepy guy you always see at the coffee shop, and your Uncle Franklin.  ALL of them want to sleep with her because she’s apparently the only woman in the world–and lucky for them, she’s more than happy to oblige.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a reason involved as to why she needs to have sex with various sinister immortals.  In fact, the world’s very existence may well be dependent on her ability to so.  We should really send her a fruit basket to thank her.

Maybe a candygram?

6) The Too-Torn-to-Function Heroine:

This girl (and yes, I mean girl), is the one who would get hit by a train as she straddled the track, trying to figure out which amazingly hot guy flanking her she should pick.  Her indecisiveness is all but paralyzing. What I really want to point out to her (being older and far more wise), is that she can’t make a wrong choice.  Both boys are always stunningly beautiful, madly in love with her, AND willing to die for her.  Where’s the problem here?  I’m happy if my guy is willing to unclog the toilet for me.

7) The Cannon Fodder Protagonist:

Unlike her cousin, The Clueless Wonder, Cannon Fodder takes a slightly different path.  Where CW seems to just happen upon chaos (and by happen, I mean land right in the middle of it), CF seems to genuinely try to NOT be what she is.  She often thinks she’s doing everything right, only to find out that she’s once again tightened the noose around her own neck.  I happen to really enjoy CF because her intentions are generally good or helpful, and she (usually) learns from her near death experiences.  The poor girl just can’t catch a break.

8) The Dances With the Dark Protagonist:

Girl gone wild in all the wrong ways.  She’s the one that you find yourself yelling out loud at in public places while you read because her “Warning: This man is likely to eat you” alarm is clearly broken.  She frolics in ominous alleys, willingly sleeps in creepy basements, and frequents nefarious establishments.  Why?  Because she’s thinking with her heart (or not thinking at all).  She always falls for the baddest boy, or demon, in town.  The nice thing about D with the D is that she’s redeemable, though it’s usually a 50/50 split on that outcome.  I’ll give her one thing…she always keeps it interesting.

9 )The Mercenary:

There’s nothing heroine or protagonist about her.  She’s an unbalanced cocktail of psychosis, rage, and vengeance, packaged up into one undoubtedly hot supernatural ticket.  She knows no rules but her own, and we all adore her for it. Willing to win at any cost, she mows down her adversaries without even breaking a sweat. Bad guys and good guys alike need to beware.  If you see the Mercenary coming, do yourself a favor and run.

10) The Girl I Wish I Was Heroine:

The perfect blend of flawed and fabulous, this leading lady knows how to milk emotion out of a reader, good or bad.  She’s by far the most relatable character going, and one of the most interesting to watch grow over a novel or series. Believable, but fallible, she’s the perfect blend of all the other heroines. 

The boys all love her, but don’t want to do dirty things to her like the Bed Hopper. She has moments of Clueless Wonder behavior, but tends to pull it together when the chips are down.  Though equipped with an inner Badass in one way or another, she’s far too aware of her shortcomings and wouldn’t dream of wandering the streets with a sawed off, looking for trouble.  She’d probably shoot herself in the leg anyways.

She knows that she can’t always go it alone, even if she dreams that she can, and though the sea of men that often surround her cause a temporary dilemma, she always manages to pick a team and stick to it.  Unlike D with the D, if her libido drives her to flirt with the dark side, her inner wisdom shines through…eventually.  CF is probably her greatest tendency, which usually reads as more endearing than annoying.  As for her inner mercenary… I think if you push ANY woman far enough, you’ll see that crazy bitch pop out.  And you don’t want none of that 🙂

No matter your favorite, these ladies bring a certain charm and entertainment to the page that keep us all wanting more.  I look forward to a day when my schedule is far more balanced, allowing me to reacquaint myself with the heroines that made me love the genre to start with.

Haunted Chapters Released…

Now this should go without saying, but if you HAVEN’T read Caged this might spoil a few things for you 🙂  It would probably be best for you to STOP reading and go directly to amazon to buy it, read it,  then come back and read the beginning of book 2.  

Enjoy!

1

“How is that even possible?” I grumbled, staring down my new enemy.

Precariously perched in front of the white porcelain, I found myself furiously rationalizing the state of the toilet so as to avoid actually having to address it. The task was unenviable to say the least, and I was none too happy about it. Cleaning was never a chore I had much enthusiasm for, but after living with Cooper, my forced-upon-me roommate of three months, I’d learned to hate it even more.

Especially the bathroom.

Doing my best not to vomit my lunch all over the freshly mopped floor, I quickly and violently scrubbed the bowl then threw the brush away.

“Men are so disgusting.”

As the quirky lyrics of “Laid” by James reverberated off the bathroom walls, I belted out the words while fishing out other necessary cleaning products from the vanity. I wasn’t worried about getting any noise complaints since I owned the building, and singing was the only way to make the task at hand tolerable. Not wanting to delay the process, I soon found myself bent over the edge of the tub scrubbing off dubious amounts of questionable material from its edge. While I rhythmically traced my sponge in circular patterns over a particularly dingy spot, my butt bounced to and fro in the air. I was alone, so I wasn’t concerned about my gluteal theatrics.

Apparently I should have been.

As I sang loudly (and poorly) into the white cast iron below, an unexpected voice from behind me screeched in a high-pitched falsetto.

“Puh-re-teeeeeeeeeeeee….”

It scared the shit out of me.

My head shot up out of the tub directly into Cooper’s chin, knocking him back into the toilet which he inelegantly flipped over. He landed hard on his ass, firmly wedged between the toilet and the wall.

“OW! Give me a heart attack, why don’t you?” I shouted at him, rubbing the ever-expanding knot that was growing on the back of my head. “Ever heard of knocking? Perhaps shouting a greeting when you enter a room, and not directly into my ear? Jerk!”

Before Cooper became my warden, or “roommate” as he liked to call himself, he’d been in a horrible fight and nearly died. He was saved by a Healer, but had suffered some side effects, one of which was vocal cord damage. Apparently that needed to be scratched off the short list.

He groaned while trying to unfold himself from behind the commode. “You’re so jumpy. You really need to lighten up a bit, Rubes,” he retorted.

“Glad to see your voice is back,” I said, sounding remotely sympathetic for a second before regaining my anger. “Where have you been?” I asked before cutting off his response. “Never mind. I don’t think I really want to know.”

He was wearing his clothes from two days ago and he reeked of the bar — neither were great signs.

“Out.”

“Clearly.”

“Jealous?” he asked, moving closer to me.

My only response was an involuntary eye roll as I barreled through him to get out of the bathroom. Cooper and I were far from friends with benefits, but sometimes, when he exuded a certain amount of sexual confidence, I found it best to be out of close quarters.

I stomped down the hall towards the kitchen. It was next on the list for rooms to be cleaned anyways.

“I’m going to have a shower now,” he called down the hall at me.

“I’ll alert the press,” I quipped as my eyes did another loop of their sockets.

“Need to wash last night off,” he laughed.

“I’m pretty sure gonorrhea doesn’t just rinse away, Coop. Let me know how that goes for you, though,” I retorted, knowing full well he was immune to human diseases — a little fact he let me in on before things started to go downhill.

His behavior had become increasingly erratic and destructive over the past couple of months. Once he got over the initial shock of being brought back from the edge of death, he started acting oddly. In fairness, I hadn’t really known him very long, but I felt I’d had a good sense of who he was. The Cooper I was left with just wasn’t fitting the bill.

He started staying out late and clubbing at first. Then he just stopped coming home entirely. He rarely slept, and when he did, he tried to do it during daylight hours only. He was restless, self-destructive and a general pain in my ass most of the time. The few times he had slept at the apartment during the standard night hours, he’d woken screaming and shaking in his bed uncontrollably. He would never tell me why. From the moment I’d met him he had always told me everything, eventually — especially when I didn’t want to know it.

I’d been trying to find a productive way to deal with him, other than screaming at him or ignoring his antics. Maybe it was a side effect of his “healing”, but unfortunately there was no one to ask. I couldn’t exactly take him unwillingly to a therapist and say, “So this is my friend — who happens to be a werewolf — and he nearly died from being shot with silver recently, until some crazy lady basically crawled inside him and fixed him up, but now he seems to be having PTSD and is whoring around. Any suggestions?” I was running out of options.

Sean and Sophie were conveniently in Milan, which was not so convenient for me. They were probably the only two people I could have asked, but they were gone indefinitely — perhaps forever. I hadn’t decided if that was to my betterment or detriment. Potato, po-tah-to.

The only upside to Cooper’s deteriorating behavior was that it provided an excellent distraction from the surge of emotions I was so desperate to suppress. The backlash from my imprisonment in Utah threatened to overtake me daily until his distress provided me with something else to occupy my mind. Avoidance proved the key to my sanity for the time being, but I was no fool. Those seas were rising, and the levy was about to break.

 2

“Are you sure you don’t want me to put that coat aside for you, Ruby?” Ronnie asked, disappointment tainting her expression.

“No, it’s OK,” I replied, turning my attention back to the rack of clothes in front of me. “I just bought that military one last month. Even I can only rationalize having so many coats in the closet.”

“Hmm, that sounds like nonsense to me, but it’s your money,” she said, winking. “Hey, isn’t Cooper supposed to be swinging by today?”

“He is. I guess he’s running late,” I replied, hoping to avoid the topic entirely. I was starting to find the task of making excuses for him exhausting — Ronnie didn’t really need to know his issues anyway.

I strolled through the store browsing through the racks, fingering some of the threadbare, vintage tees and staring at the wall of jeans. I needed more clothing like I needed a hole in the head, but it was just so rewarding to find the proverbial needle in the fashion haystack.

“Hmm…maybe some shoes?” I said quietly to myself.

I eyed up the wall display, debating whether or not I should make physical contact with any of them as that was sure to lead to a try-on followed by a purchase.

The phone rang in the background and I heard Ronnie answer, “Better With Age, what can I do for you?”

“Should be ‘how can I dress you better?’” I muttered to myself.

“Annie…slow down. You’re not making any sense,” Ronnie said, her concern audible. “Who? Tell me what happened!”

I didn’t want to eavesdrop on her, but it was impossible not to overhear her conversation. She sounded worried, and I was worried for her. I glanced over to the checkout counter where the petite brunette was standing, but her back was facing me so I couldn’t get a read on the situation. I stood awkwardly staring at the shoes, wishing Cooper would show up and save me from the whole thing.

Too bad Cooper was all out of the saving business.

“How bad is it? I mean did they catch it early enough to do anything about it?” Ronnie asked, her voice straining. “Okay, okay…I’ll get out there as soon as I can.”

She hung up the phone slowly and didn’t move. I had no idea what to do and started sweating at the thought of having to be useful.

Ronnie and I were friends of sorts, due to my undying commitment to buying everything in her store. We’d gotten to know each other over time and our relationship was growing slowly, but we weren’t exactly best friends. I knew she needed help in that moment, but was clueless about what to do or say. Thankfully, she made the first move.

“Okay, so…I need to book a ticket. I guess I’ll have to close the store, and have Peyta…,” she rambled, scurrying about behind the counter. “SHIT! Peyta…she can’t go. What am I going to do with her?”

Her eyes met mine across the store, her desperation plain. In my discomfort with the situation, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“She could stay with me. I only have a couch for her, but I’m sure she wouldn’t be any trouble.”

Did I just say that?

Ronnie flew at me from behind the checkout counter, arms spread wide. She latched onto my shoulders, shaking me a little. “Would you? That would make this so much easier,” she said, breathing a bit more easily. “But I don’t know when I’m going to be back.”

“That’s OK. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Seriously…stop talking now.

“This could run into the next week or two depending on how it goes, possibly longer. You’re sure you’re flexible with that?” she asked, seeking confirmation that everything would be okay.

I lied.

“Absolutely. Take all the time you need. Cooper and I will take good care of her.”

What am I doing? Cooper can’t even take care of himself!

She gave me another quick hug and then ran to the phone to call Peyta and let her know what was going on. Since I didn’t really know either, I did eavesdrop on that conversation.

I checked my watch to see how late Cooper was. Twenty minutes and counting. I was starting to feel claustrophobic in the tiny shop and decided to bail. I waved to get Ronnie’s attention and gestured that I was heading out. She mouthed back that she’d call me; she had my cell number in case of a store-related emergency. I burst through the door of her shop a little too enthusiastically, almost falling over on the way. As I stumbled to a halt, I looked down the adjacent alley to see Cooper rounding the far corner walking away from me. Where in the hell is he going? I yelled after him, but he didn’t seem to hear. I found that strange given his heightened wolf senses. Maybe he just didn’t want to hear me.

Making my way home on foot, I enjoyed the downtown feel as I walked. There was so much history in that area and it was apparent from the brick buildings to the cobblestone streets. What I loved most was the town’s commitment to keeping the architecture and atmosphere as historically accurate as possible. Street signs and lights were fashioned after a time long past. Storefronts were allowed to be new and modern inside but the building facades were never to be altered. I had a lot of respect for that.

I arrived home minutes later to see the lights on in the apartment. Did he just leave everything on and run out the door? I sighed and shook my head to myself as I made my way into the building and up the stairs. Music echoed through the stairwell, muffled slightly be my apartment door. It was a delightful mix of late eighties and early nineties hip-hop.

I walked through the door to find Cooper dancing around the living room with a vacuum cleaner in his hand. The dancing may have been better described as a combination of one part Flashdance, one part Jane Fonda jazzercise, and one part total awesomeness. I went from confused to hysterical in about zero point five seconds. He couldn’t hear my laughter over the deafening sound, so my show continued. I had collapsed to the floor clutching my stomach and trying to breathe without peeing my pants. When the high kicks started I was done for; I crawled to the stereo and turned it off.

Cooper wheeled around and closed the distance between us before I knew what was going on. He towered over me blocking the light, but I could sense his expression and it was not a friendly one.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he yelled down at me.

I was too scared to move initially so I stayed where I sat.

“I had to shut it off before my bladder burst, Cooper. I haven’t seen anything that funny since the movie ‘Just Friends’, which was highly underrated by the way,” I replied, hoping humor would diffuse the situation a bit. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“I’m trying to clean. I want the music on. Don’t touch shit unless you’re told to.”

Uh…reality check.

I stood up to meet his hostility face-to-face. With all the weird behavior he’d been exhibiting for the last three months, aggression had never been on the list. A check needed to be added to that column.

“Hey, Shit-For-Brains, are you forgetting where you are? Last time I checked this was my house, and that’s my stereo, and you’re living in my guest room. I’m pretty sure that means I don’t have to run shit past you and I certainly don’t need your permission,” I yelled in his face. I could feel the anger roiling off of him, my empath abilities in full alarm mode. His rage-fueled response fed my own.

He stood still, breathing rapidly while flexing his hands in and out of fists. I was hoping neither would be coming for my face. Cooper had never been violent with me, not even close, but everything about him at that moment said he wanted a fight, and not a verbal one. I tried to emanate calm as I had in the past with him, hoping it would bring him down a notch or two. Given my own state of rage, however, it accomplished nothing. Eventually he just stormed past me to his bedroom, but not before throwing the vacuum cleaner across the room, ripping the cord out of the wall and taking the outlet with it.

I stood alone in the living room wondering exactly what had just happened. I further wondered how I would keep a seventeen-year-old girl safe in my home when I wasn’t entirely sure how to do that for myself. With a sigh I decided to address one problem at a time.

“Guess I need to call an electrician.”