If you follow my blog here or follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this *pointing down emoji* guy here a few times.
On June 5th, my next book, A MILLION LITTLE SOULS drops. It’s an LGBTQ+ YA Contemporary Fantasy that I’m so excited to share with all of you.
So, read on and (hopefully) enjoy! And don’t forget to reserve your copy for pre-order! June 5th, 2020 is the big day (paperbacks will be available on release day)!
Nate repeated his actions numerous times as the rest of us resigned ourselves to the fact that we weren’t going to get a signal. And we all knew why. So, we all dejectedly shoved our phones into our pockets. At least we wouldn’t have to explain to our parents that we’d lost our phones when they were murdering us later. Only Nate seemed to not want to accept it. He repeated the tapping on his screen and bringing the phone to his ear at least five times before he growled with frustration. Before anyone knew what was happening, he reached out and shoved all of the books out of the chair, sending them thundering to the floor.
Underfoot, the floor of the library rumbled. It wasn’t the vibration that could be felt when standing next to the orrery. This was like an earthquake, threatening to send us all crashing to the ground. We all stumbled, trying to readjust our stances to stay on our feet, though the shaking of the library seemed as though it would do its best to win the battle against our equilibriums. Kat screamed out in shock and, for some reason, began gathering up the books. When Marisol saw what she was doing, she grabbed the book on the ground closest to her and handed it to Kat. Once all four books were in her arms in a neat stack, Kat laid them gently back onto the seat of the chair. The rumbling underfoot immediately ceased. The change was so sudden, it was surreal. It was like it had never happened.
“What the hell was that?” Nate gasped.
“Respect. The. Books.” Kat spun to growl at him. “The letter on the table told you that!”
Nate shrunk in on himself as his cheeks turned rosy.
“The letter told us specifically not to disrespect the books.” Kat glanced at all of us one by one. “Don’t throw books around for God’s sake.”
“How was I to know?” Nate snapped.
“She just told you how you were supposed to know.” Marisol said.
“How the hell would the library know if I pushed a stack of books over?” Nate growled at them as I watched them all with morbid fascination. “It’s a building.”
“Just…don’t do it again.” Kat jabbed a finger at him.
“Fine.” Nate threw up his hands, then he was stuffing his useless cell phone in his pocket.
Nate and Marisol just seemed to accept what Kat had said without question. With my legs still feeling like jelly from the floor shaking beneath our feet, my brain was still rattled.
“What are you talking about?” I chirped.
Kat turned to me, concern etched all over her face.
“The paper on the, uh, snack table.” She jabbed a thumb over her shoulder. “It’s a list of the things that are expected of us. ‘Respect the books’ is the last one. He shouldn’t have thrown the books in the floor.”
She was suddenly glaring at Nate, and he had the common sense to look chastened.
The dude just makes friends with everyone.
“So,” I pondered, “we’re supposed to do everything on the list?”
Marisol and Nate exchanged cautious glances. Kat shrugged.
“I guess so.” Kat answered. “I mean—”
“What if we don’t?” Nate interjected. “It says we may leave at dawn. What if we just sit here and wait it out?”
Kat gave him a shrug but she still looked irritated with him.
“Yeah.” Marisol added. “If we don’t do what it says, are we trapped here forever?”
We all giggled nervously, since it was a ridiculous thought, but I could tell we were all concerned that Marisol’s question had merit. This whole night was weird. The way we’d been invited was weird. Getting locked in the library by someone we didn’t know and couldn’t see was even stranger. What happened if we didn’t play along with the way the event had been planned?
“I don’t know.” Kat answered for us all.
“It says this event happens every quarter century.” I suggested. “Is it always on the night of the Quarter Century Dance? Or does this year’s event just happen to fall on the same night as the dance? Does it mean anything either way?
“How did we all know to show up here?” Marisol added. “I mean, why did we all decide Wyatt Public Library was the right place instead of LMHS library? The invitation wasn’t exactly specific about location, but…here we are.”
“I just assumed that—oh screw it.” I reached over and grabbed a handful of chips out of a bowl on the table and stuffed one in my mouth before continuing to speak. “I assumed this was the place since Mrs. Clark said my book was from here. If the invitation was in a book from here, this had to be the place the event was at, right?”
Marisol followed my lead by grabbing a handful of M&Ms out of a bowl and popped a few in her mouth. “Yeah.”
Nate and Kat were nodding along.
“Did Mrs. Clark put the invitations in the books?” Nate asked.
“I don’t think so.” Kat watched Marisol and I as we continued to pick at the food on the table, her eyes conveying her desire to join in, though she was probably waiting to see if we fell over from being poisoned. “She seemed kind of confused by the book and annoyed that it had been returned to the wrong place. I mean, she was nice like always, but I could tell she wasn’t happy about a book from here being shelved in her library.”
“Yeah.” Nate shrugged.
Kat seemed less irritated with Nate once he agreed with her.
“Well,” Marisol mumbled around a pretzel she had stuffed in her mouth, “what does it hurt to follow the rules? It didn’t tell us to sacrifice a chicken or chop off an arm or anything.”
Kat and I nodded along. Nate was finally reaching over to the table to help himself to some food. Kat watched the three of us for a moment, gnawing on the mysterious offerings. She made her mind up that the food wasn’t poisoned and helped herself to a sandwich.
“So, be nice to the books.” I began as we all stood there and ate. “Don’t disrespect the books. We all understand that one. I don’t know how we’re supposed to go by the numbers or take a stroll through time…but maybe the reach a higher plane of understanding, empathy, and compassion has to do with learning about ourselves and each other? Maybe we can start there, and—”
“I don’t need to get to know you.” Nate snapped. “I know enough.”
My cheeks were suddenly hot.
“Do you want to argue about everything?” Marisol groaned before shoving another chip in her mouth. “You seem—and don’t take this the wrong way—unpleasant.”
Kat giggled nervously.
I snorted with laughter.
“Screw you.” Nate stated blandly.
“Really?” Marisol had her hands on her hips. “You are just a jerk. You’ve been rude ever since Frankie and I got here. What’s up with that? You guys seem to know each other. You tight or something?”
“We’re definitely not tight.” Nate spat.
“We’re not friends.” I said.
“Okay then.” Marisol seemed unconvinced. “Well, whatever is going on with you two needs to stop if we’re going to do what the list says we should do.”
“If we can figure out what ‘stroll through time’ and ‘go by the numbers’ means.” Kat agreed.
“Right.” Marisol said. “Learning about ourselves and each other mostly makes sense, but—”
“I don’t want to know anything about any of you that I don’t already know.” Nate reiterated angrily. “And I’m not telling all of you all of my business, either.”
“Stop being a douche to them.” I snapped. I’d finally had enough of Nate’s attitude. “They didn’t do anything to you.”
“Screw you, Frankie.” He spat.
“Screw you back.” I snarled, my body inching towards him, my fists clenching at my sides.
Nate straightened up angrily, his hands forming fists like mine.
“Guys!” Kat pleaded. “Don’t act like this right now. We need to figure out what’s going on.”
“I’m tired of listening to him.” I grumbled, glaring at Nate.
“I’m tired of looking at you.” He returned.
“Look,” Marisol huffed, “if the two of you don’t stop—”
“We all just need to work together.” Kat interjected. “If we don’t work together, how are we certain we’ll be able to leave at dawn? Maybe we’ll be trapped here?”
“How can someone trap us here if the library opens at nine in the morning?” Nate snapped at her, though his eyes stayed on mine and his fists didn’t unfurl.
“Stop snapping at everyone!” I demanded. “Unless you want some of this.”
“Nobody, literally nobody, wants any of that.” Nate quipped.
“Oh my gosh!” Kat bellowed. “Could we all just focus on what—”
But she didn’t get a chance to finish her thought. A long, blood-curdling cackle—like a witch in a horror movie’s cackle—pealed through the air, silencing us all. We all froze in place, our eyes growing wide, as the cackle rang through the air evilly, echoing through the cavernous library. It seemed to bounce off of the bookshelves and walls, reverberating wickedly. For what seemed like minutes, but was probably seconds, the cackle tore through the air, forcing us all into silence with fear.
Then it was deadly silent once more.
“What,” Marisol gasped, “was that?”
Tremendous Love & Thanks,