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Thursday, October 25, 2012
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Welcome to our second stop on the Virtual Book Tour of "Daughter of the Red Dawn" by Alicia Michaels. Here you will read an excerpt from the book and have a chance of winning some amazing prizes during the tour.
Daughter of the Red Dawn
(The Lost Kingdom of Fallada
by: Alicia Michaels
Publishing Date: 10/1/12
Publisher: Anchor Group
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Romance
Read my Review HERE
These are dark times in the land of Fallada, and I fear that they will only continue to grow darker. Only the return of those we’ve lost will even the score.
It will begin with first line of the prophecy, which foretells of a red sun over the desert sky…
--Adrah, Queen of the Fae
On the outside, seventeen year-old Selena McKinley is like any other teenage girl. Yet Selena has always felt as if she doesn’t belong and is counting the days to graduation and her freedom from the small town that makes her feel so out of place, when the arrival of a stranger turns her world upside down. Selena will learn just how different she is and the truth of where she comes from.
A lost princess, they call her, the catalyst for a war involving a world that Selena was taken from as a child. An evil queen obsessed with her own beauty with a plan to enslave the human race.…the notion seems so silly, yet Selena knows in her heart that it is true. Then there is Titus, the shape shifter whose blue eyes and claims of destiny hold her heart captive. Can Selena find the strength to do what she must while following her heart?
Youtube Video Trailer: http://youtu.be/8TRLY5eKrD4
Chapter Nine“You should know that I am free from Eranna’s possession.”
Selena turned to look at Titus as she walked alongside him, away from the towering castle of the Fae queen. She smiled.
“That’s great! So that means … ”
“When I shift into my animal form, I am in complete control.”
“So no more freaky red eyes?”
Titus laughed. “Absolutely not.”
Soft grass swayed beneath their feet, shimmering green in the light of the crescent moon. It invited her to take her sandals off and dig her feet into the soft blades, an impulse that she gave into without hesitation. She sighed and wiggled her toes in the grass, the blades like silk between them.
“You know,” he said as he grasped her hand again to pull her along, “I thought you were beautiful when I met you, but seeing you here … it’s as if you coming home has enhanced your beauty. You’re glowing, Selena.”
She knew that it was true. In the moonlight, her skin had taken on a luminescent glow and she was filled with energy that she’d never possessed. With her bare feet in the grass, all she wanted to do was run. But she didn’t want to admit it, so she decided not to respond.
“So where are you taking me?” she asked, desperate to change the subject. Titus lifted his arm and pointed to a ring of trees in the distance. The branches seemed to be reaching for each other, closing the area between them in a cocoon of lush green leaves.
“See that copse of trees over there?”
Selena nodded, a slow smile spreading across her face. “Wanna race?”
Titus snorted. “You don’t stand a chance.”
Selena folded her arms over her chest. “Oh really? Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is? Or your snout. If you think it’ll give you the edge, you can morph into your wolf form. I bet you still couldn’t beat me.”
Titus’ eyes flashed and glowed as he smiled back at her. “You’re on!”
In the blink of an eye, the boy Titus was gone and his wolf form stood before her. Instead of that frightful red, his eyes now glowed the same hypnotic blue as they did in his human form. They were familiar and comforting, leaving Selena with no doubt that he’d been set free from the evil queen’s hold.
Titus bent to gather his fallen clothes in his mouth and turned toward the circle of trees, waiting for Selena to start the race. She dropped her borrowed sandals onto the grass and gathered the hem of her skirt in her hands.
“Ready—” she said with a sideways glance at Titus, “—set, go!”
They were off like a shot of lightning, neck and neck as they sprinted across the open green field. Selena felt the rushing of wind on her bare arms and face; she closed her eyes, breathing deeply as her feet sank into plush grass. Every few steps, her speed allowed her to leave the ground and Selena savored the sensation as if she were flying. After a while it became less about beating Titus and more about the thrill of running in the open, unashamed and unafraid that someone might see her. Here, everyone was as strange as she was. So much so that being strange was actually normal. It was a feeling that Selena had never experienced.
With a final burst of speed, Selena reached the shaded glen just a few seconds before Titus, who was panting heavily when he came to a stop beside her. Selena smiled smugly at him and received a yipping bark and playful snap at the hem of her dress in return. She ran her fingers over the wolf’s beautiful fur and dropped to her knees, pressing her face against the soft pelt.
“You get an A for effort,” she said jokingly, before tugging his ear teasingly. His hot, rough tongue lapped at her cheek and Selena pushed him away with a chuckle. He took his pants into his mouth and disappeared into the trees at a run. A minute later, his human figure appeared on the edge of the trees, wearing the pants and running a hand through his dark hair.
“I am not ashamed to admit when I’ve been beaten,” he said with a grin as he bent to retrieve his shirt and vest. Selena was salivating like a dog looking at a juicy steak as she studied Titus’ lean and lithe form. The broad chest and shoulders tapered in to a narrow waist, showcasing the ripples along his abs perfectly. His pants were snug and low-fitting, giving Selena the perfect view of his cute butt just before the bottom of his shirt met the waistband. Selena bit her lower lip and tried to find something else to look at. She was grateful when he had his clothes back on and was leading her toward the trees. “What is this place?” she asked as she allowed Titus to take her hand once more and lead her between the thick circle of trees. She’d never seen trees growing so close together, as if they were protecting something within their little circle.
“It is one of the many homes of the Pixies,” Titus said softly as they cleared the trees. What Selena found on the other side stole the air from her lungs. Though the foliage of the trees blocked out the light of the moon, a soft, golden glow illuminated the space. The tiny lights were coming from inside the petals of hundreds of tulips, which dotted the ground around them in shades of pink, purple, and white. As Titus led her closer, Selena realized that the glowing lights inside of the flowers were the same Pixies that had been dancing at the Fae ball. More of them dotted the trees above them, creating the same effect as roped Christmas lights. They twinkled above, creating a glowing cocoon separate from the rest of the world. In the midst of the glowing field of flowers stood a still pond on which even more of the glowing creatures played, skidding across the water and creating glowing rings that rippled out around them.
“Oh,” Selena gasped, unable to say anything else while surrounded by so much beauty.
Titus smiled and directed her toward one of the trees. “This is the main reason I brought you here,” he said as he reached up toward the branches. He came back down with two pieces of strange-looking fruit. They were a deep, rich red and large enough that Selena had to hold hers with both hands. It looked like a very large, firm tomato.
“There is a lot of good food in that banquet hall,” Titus said. “But you’ll never taste anything like the fruit from a clutzia tree.”
Selena watched as Titus sunk his teeth into the fruit’s skin, groaning with pleasure as the ruby red juice spilled over his fingers. He chewed and nodded fervently, his eyes wide.
“It’s heavenly, taste it.”
Selena shrugged and brought the fruit to her lips. She had already been attacked by a Werewolf, rescued by two old German fairytale writers, been on board a flying ship, rode in a flying chariot, met Faeries and Elves, and been attacked by Minotaurs. This was easy.
The sweet juice of the clutzia filled her mouth, like the perfect blend of pomegranate, blueberry, and pineapple juice. There was something else there that Selena couldn’t describe, but it was almost like a touch of honey. The sweetness danced on her tongue and the meat of the fruit provided a feeling of fullness that Selena did not expect.
“I’m full from just that one piece of fruit!” she exclaimed once she was finished.
Titus nodded. “That is one of the best things about clutzia,” he said. “Even one bite could bring a starving man back from death. It is found only in Goldun.”
Selena licked the addictive juice from her fingertips. “Now my hands are sticky.”
“Well, that’s what the pond is for.”
He led her over to the water, where the Pixies seemed to ripple out over the water in an effort to make room for them. Many of them watched curiously as Selena and Titus knelt at the water’s edge. Selena dipped her hands into the water, surprised at its coolness. She watched as Titus cupped his hands together and came up filled to the brim with water.
“It’s the best water you’ll ever drink,” he promised as he held his hands out to her. Selena glanced down at his glistening fingertips, squeezed tightly together to keep even a drop from escaping. Her pulse thumped against her throat as she leaned forward to accept his offering, grateful for the coldness of the sweet water as it rushed down her hot throat. It was the best water she’d ever tasted, pure and clear with just a hint of sweetness. Selena wiped her mouth with the back of her hand as Titus finished off the water and wiped his own hands on his pant legs. He stretched his long limbs out and leaned back onto his elbows, gazing up at the dancing Pixies above their heads. Selena joined him, gazing up at the tiny dots blanketing them like golden stars.
“Tell me about Mollac,” Selena asked, laying back to rest her head against the grass. “Do you miss it?” Titus sighed, his chest heaving as he closed his eyes. “There is a harsh sort of beauty about a place covered in ice and snow,” he said softly. “It’s like living inside of a diamond; everything is so pure and wrapped in shades of white and pale blue. There are soft hills and jagged mountain peaks, forests full of trees that appear dead, but are brimming with life inside.”
“What about your family?”
“There are my parents and then there is my pack. We live together and hunt together. We were happy before … ”
Selena reached across the space between them and touched his hand. “We will help them, Titus. I promised you that I wouldn’t leave until I helped you rescue your family and I meant it.”
Titus turned onto his side to face her. “You should go,” he said. “If you’re not going to remain in Fallada, then tomorrow you should have Jake and Wil take you back to your world.”
Selena turned on her side as well, panic ripping through her at the thought that Titus would want her to leave.
“What do you mean? I thought you wanted me to be here.”
“I want you to stay!” Titus said with a low growl rumbling at the base of his chest. He reached out and grasped Selena’s shoulder tightly. “I want you to stay and take your place in Damu. I want you to meet your parents and your people. I want for you to be here when this war ends so that I can take you home to Mollac and introduce you to my family and the wolves in my pack. More than anything I want … ” He trailed off, dropping his eyes from hers with a heavy sigh. Selena searched his face for any sign of what was coming next, her heart already soaring from what he’d said.
“What, Titus? What do you want?”
Titus shook his head and pulled his lips into a tight frown. “I know you don’t know much about Werewolves, but there is one thing you should be aware of, especially if you intend to stay here even for a short time. Werewolves are pack-oriented. We find a sense of belonging by being surrounded by those who we consider our extended family. But when it comes to love, it’s not really that simple. Werewolves can have only one mate, and it can’t just be anybody. I can’t just choose a woman and ask her to marry me. The pull of a Werewolf male to his mate is a powerful one, and when he finds her he just … knows. He feels it in his gut and it’s like being kicked in the stomach.”
Selena shivered under Titus’ intense gaze. “What are you trying to tell me, Titus? I mean, I’m not even a Werewolf.”
“You don’t have to be. I’m telling you that I feel that pull toward you. I have since the first time I saw you running across that field in your world. I didn’t want to believe that it could be you … a girl who’s not a Were and a princess to boot, but I can’t fight it anymore. And it won’t get any better. The longer you are here, the worse it will be until I’m miserable with knowing that you’re leaving and never coming back. So you see, you have to leave. I’m grateful that you want to help me find my family, but if you’re not going to stay permanently then you shouldn’t stay at all. I don’t think my heart could take it.”
Selena forced herself to swallow past the lump in her throat. She gently stroked the thin strands of dark hair that had fallen over his brow, her fingertips grazing his forehead gently.
“I don’t know what to do,” she whispered. “Everyone is watching me, wanting me to be their savior. I just don’t know if I can do it. I’ve wanted to know about my family and my past my whole life and now that I know where I come from, I just don’t think I can live up to what everyone expects from me. I’m just a girl, a seventeen year old girl.”
Titus’ hand came up to grip her wrist. He held it tightly before bringing it to his mouth. His lips grazed the back of her hand gently, leaving tiny shivers that ran up her arm.
“You, Selena, are more than just a girl.”
Before she knew it, he was hovering over her, his arms trapping her between them as he leaned down toward her. Selena felt a flush of embarrassment as she realized that this was to be her first kiss. She felt like such a loser for almost reaching her eighteenth birthday before a boy had been interested enough to kiss her. Then, as Titus’ full lips closed over hers, and the scent of tulips wafted up around her, Selena realized that no stolen peck behind a school locker could have ever compared to this. No clumsy, wet smooch with an overeager teenage boy with busy hands could come close to Titus’ lips, firm yet supple and the solid weight of his chest against hers and his arms on either side. Not even the bright stars over Texas could compete with the soft glow of pixie dust as it rained down over them.
Selena opened her eyes as the warm dust fell into her face and hair, holding on to Titus’ shoulders and laughing happily as the little winged creatures swirled around them. Their laughter sounded like tinkling bells as they danced and frolicked. Titus smiled down at her and ran his fingers through her hair, which was now loose from its updo and trailing down her shoulders covered in gold Pixie dust.
“See?” he said with a laugh. “Even the Pixies know we’re destined to be together.”
As Titus lowered his head toward hers again, Selena wrapped her arms around his neck and surrendered to the warmth of his mouth and the sweetness of the clutzia fruit on his tongue. Even if she didn’t want to admit it, she felt deep within her heart that he was right. After a night like this, how would she ever be able to go home again?
Alicia Michaels has always possessed a vivid imagination and strong ambition. At the age of 12 she decided that she wanted to be a writer, and promptly went about penning her first novel. Years later, she is releasing her first Young Adult Fantasy series based on the fairy tales as written by the Brothers Grimm.
When the Army wife and mother of two isn’t taking care of her home and family, she’s reading, writing, or arguing with the characters in her mind. She also enjoys cooking, movies, and music. Oh, and a good cup of coffee.
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