SHIMMER: A heartbroken boy rescues a mermaid… but is it too late to save her?
BETWEEN is about a girl, a genie, and a ton of bad decisions.
SUNSET MOON: Eloise doesn’t believe in Native American magic–until the
dreamcatcher spiders spin her down an unknown path.
THE MAKER: An incapacitated young man bent on revenge builds a creature to do it for him.
A BEAUTIFUL MOURNING: The story of a Maya goddess torn between duty and love,
and the ultimate sacrifice she must make to achieve true happiness.
THE BARRICADES: When a human girl risks everything to save the life of an
Eternal prince, will their feelings for each other change the world they know,
or tear it apart?
internet for no good. Find Brinda at www.brindaberry.com
***EXCERPTS (One excerpt from each novella):
Shimmer by Brinda Berry:
Draven Manning watched the naked female wade into the inky waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Silent as a hermit crab, he sat on the sand hidden by tall sea oats and studied her petite body, long hair thickly draped to the waist. She held a backpack, an odd addition to her nakedness, which she dropped on the sand. He could have loudly cleared his throat or walked back up to the house. But he didn’t.
Not that he was a total creeper. She’d appeared from nowhere like some magical mist formed in a female shape. The wind lifted strands of her hair away from her body increasing the otherworldly feel of the scene.
He continued to watch and acknowledged that wishing he could see better or had binoculars did fall into creeper territory. His friends always talked about what a nice guy he was. Maybe he didn’t want to be a nice guy.
Being the nice guy had landed him here in this tiny Gulf Coast town with his dad for the summer. He had no choice, because he couldn’t stand to look at the people he’d trusted. They had betrayed him, and he’d pretended it was no big deal. He lowered his forehead to his bent knees and pulled air into his lungs. A deep exhale steadied the shaking. He was eighteen, not eight. It was time to man up. Move on with life. Forget what had happened and quit feeling sorry for himself.
For a week, he’d strolled the beach by himself. In the daylight hours, families cluttered the sand so he waited for nightfall. He always returned to this spot on the sand to sit and think. He could’ve sat on the deck with the same view, but that’s where his dad always sat and smoked cigars.
His dad would already be in bed at this hour.
The girl swam farther and farther out to sea. Her moonlight swim went beyond his seeing range. She was far enough out that he couldn’t tell if a glint on the water might be her head or a fish or a buoy. She had to be an excellent swimmer.
Clouds moved across the moon to dim his view of her even more. A gust of wind blew sand into his face. He jumped from his spot and ran, his bare feet pounding on the packed sand. He saw the crashing wave deliver her body to shoreline and teasingly pull her back. Why hadn’t he noticed that she was in trouble?
He stomped into the chilly ocean. “Shit.” His jeans sucked up the water and clung to his legs. “Shit, shit, shit.” Waves pushed against his thighs, whipping him off balance until he braced himself for the tide.
She floated face down with her hair billowing out in thin tentacles. He grabbed her upper arms, flipped her body, and pulled her to shore. Her lower body dragged in the sand, so he picked her up. She probably didn’t weigh much, but her limp body sagged as he carried her like a sleeping child.
Out from the tide’s reach, he placed her on the sand and pressed two fingers against her neck. Not dead. Not dead. Not dead. But not breathing, either. He couldn’t remember the steps. His heart slapped against his chest like paper caught in moving bicycle spokes. People learned CPR just in case. He never expected to actually need it. He squeezed his eyes shut, heard Coach Vorlosky’s calm instructions, visualized each step, and began chest compressions.
One push, two, three, four…one push a second how many times? Maybe thirty. He’d barely passed the test and wished he’d paid more attention. “You better not die. I’ve had a shitty week. Come on, come on.” Her head lolled to the side. He grabbed her chin, tilted her head back, pinched her nose, covered her mouth with his and blew.
He hovered above her mouth to see if she breathed. Strands of long, dark hair draped over her face. He brushed the hair out of the way and started again. On his fifth round of administering CPR, he glanced around for help, which wouldn’t happen at 2:00 a.m. on a deserted strip of beach in the middle of nowhere.
Her loud gasp, sounding like the reverse of a balloon losing air, startled him.
She turned her head to the side and coughed out water. “What…” She coughed again.”…do you think you’re doing?”
He barely heard her. The girl must be out of her mind, which would explain why she thought a night swim by herself was a good idea. “Saving you.”
“I didn’t need your help,” she muttered.
He scooted back on the sand several inches—his heart starting to slam again—and rubbed his face. Sand coated his hand and clung to his eyelashes. “Not the way I see it.” His voice sounded strangled and loud.
She sat up and pulled her knees to her chest. Anger flashed in her eyes. “What’s your deal?”
“You weren’t breathing.” He wiped dripping water from his forehead with the back of his hand. “I was scared that you’d…never mind that thought. You’re alive.”
“Um hmm. Sure am. Back here on the shore whether I like it or not.” She was all hair and limbs with her arms wrapped around her knees.
Between by Karen Y. Bynum:
God, what had Lucy done? She rubbed the butterfly charm at her throat. She should never have ignored Natasha’s calls. If Lucy had just sucked it up and broken up with her, Natasha wouldn’t have shown up at Gaston. And Lucy wouldn’t have belittled her in front of the Royals. Her stomach churned, and she clutched the charm. Natasha’s grandmother had given it to her, and she hadn’t ever taken it off—until the day she gave it to Lucy. She swallowed her own shame and ripped the chain from her neck. She couldn’t look at it anymore. Couldn’t stand to feel its guilt weighing her down.
“I wish I could just forget you!” She threw the necklace into the abyss of the closet. Holding herself, she wept with her head pressed back against the wall. Slow, gasping tears quickly turned into sobs so gut-wrenching they made her teeth hurt.
“You can’t wish to forget.”
She froze mid-sniff. The blood must have drained from her face because her tears scorched as they rolled down her icy cheeks. A shadow moved in her peripheral vision.
Slowly, she lifted her head. Gasping, she pressed her hands to the floor, ready to jump up and haul ass. But in car-wreck fashion, she couldn’t look away. Fire floated in front of her. Her heart pounded painfully against her ribs. Was the house burning down? Surely not. The flames didn’t seem to be spreading. Instead, they drew down, drew together until they had a distinctly human shape. And eyes. Oh, God, the eyes. They glowed a frightening green, dark and bright at the same time.
This was just like every horror movie Lucy had ever seen. Her time had come. Either this thing would drag her to Hell or she’d be acting out The Exorcist any second. She wiped away a streak of tears.
Forcing herself to stand, to acknowledge what she’d done, she said, “This is about Natasha. Isn’t it?”
The figure didn’t move forward. It just lowered its arms, smaller flames sparking away from the movement. Why didn’t the closet catch fire?
“I’m here,” it said, “to grant you three wishes.”
Sunset Moon by Laura Diamond:
Eloise doesn’t bother sneaking in. Her mom’s probably passed out from drunk anyway.
She pads to her room, flicks on the light, drags the duffle from her bed and lets it slam to the floor. The next nine months of her life are in there, reduced to a few bits of clothing. She kicks off her shoes and wanders to her desk, gaze locked on the photo of Micah and her. Her vision blurs with fresh tears. This was their last night together, and he’s being such an ass. He should be thanking her for what she is doing. So should Jimmy.
She picks up the frame and removes the picture, then carries it to the bathroom. The sour odor of beer clings to her like a heavy reminder of her fight with Micah. She tucks the photo into the wooden mirror frame on the medicine cabinet and turns on the tub faucet.
While the tub fills, she peels off her damp shirt and throws it in the hamper. She tugs off her jeans, then her underwear. Naked, she shivers, though the house is warm, stuffy even, from the mid-summer night’s air.
Her tremors aren’t from being cold. They are from a vacuous emptiness that hollows out her insides, turns her heart to ice, and chips away at her soul with each ragged breath.
She grips the sink with both hands and steadies herself. The gush of water echoes in her ears, sloshes in her skull, and drowns her mind. Her head pounds from the surge of blood coursing through her brain with the rapid beating of her heart. The row of bulbs blazing above the medicine cabinet stabs her in the eyes, coring out her orbits.
It’s too much. She needs something to take the edge off.
The Maker by Jayne A. Knolls:
Cassandra Francesca Levinsky had been mine, more or less, since the second semester of freshman year. Addiction was probably a better term for it than a romance—I couldn’t get enough of her—nor she of me. Everyone knew us as Brettandra—I know, like Brangelina—that’s how legendary we were—Brett and Cassandra, the best looking couple on campus.
In the end, I only drank so much to deal with the sight of her throwing herself at every other guy in the room—and to obliterate the green haze of jealous rage that overtook me when others wanted a piece of her. But if I were forced to admit it, I kind of got off on that, too. Like I said, we couldn’t get enough of each other.
I’m not sure exactly when those long weeks of getting the cold shoulder first started. My memory’s not what it used to be. And I don’t have much of a recollection of what happened after we left the party. Maybe I blacked out. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital bed, my skull on fire. I learned later that Cassandra walked away from the wreck without a scratch on her. She left me for dead, my skull cracked open like an egg.
The guy we hit never walked again. Yeah, I felt kind of bad about that, but I’m not in such great shape either.
They found me in the driver’s seat, the engine’s firewall inches from the tree we plowed into. The wrecked BMW was registered to me—so as far as anyone knew at the scene, Cassandra was never even in it. The medical report stated that if she’d called for help right away, instead placing an anonymous call after she was long gone, the bleeding might not have been so extensive.
That I might have made a good recovery.
But, if that were the case, then this story would never have been written.
A Beautiful Mourning by Theresa DaLayne:
I could not help but smile at the newly budded flowers scattered over the hills of the middleworld. My bare feet sank into the cool grass. It sprang between my toes, reminding me of the many walks my mother and I took together when I was a child.
It had been many years since she last strolled beside me. Many years since her soul left her body and joined the breeze of the heavens.
I paused beside a tree and lay my hand upon its bark.
I missed my mother’s laughter. Her sparkling green eyes and her sweet voice. No longer a child, I ached for her guidance and advice in the matters of life, and especially love.
A hummingbird buzzed past me and broke my gloomy thoughts. I turned and watched it hover over blooms and feast on the bounty of the nectar. I extended my hand. The tiny bird startled.
“I intend you no harm,” I said softly. It was not only for the mortals, but for the creatures of this realm that I tended to the greenery on which they depended to survive. I loved them, and wished them nothing but prosperity and joy.
Yet their happiness was a constant reminder of my sorrow, and some days, my heart did not have the will to carry on.
The rhythm of the bird’s rapidly pumping wings soothed my disparity and brought a smile to my lips. I lowered my hand and the creature vanished from sight.
It was then I noticed the large cat weaving between the trees. I smiled and stepped toward the jaguar. “Balam. How nice to see you. It’s been far too long.”
The middleworld deity slinked toward me. One large paw lazily moved in front of the other until he was close enough to touch.
His fur was like silk under my fingers.
“What special occasion brings you?”
Balam did not answer, which was typical for him. Even when in his human form, the middleworld god had never spoken a word. Instead he simply butted his head against my leg and rubbed his body along me. His tail brushed across my belly as he continued past me and headed to the forest.
I spun just in time to see Balam vanish into the foliage. There was no use in calling him back. He would wander in the forests and jungles until he decided to return. When that would be, I couldn’t say.
I turned back toward tending to the flowers. Spring in the mortals’ realm was my fondest season. It was, after all, the beginning of seasons in which I spent the most time with Kinich.
I pulled my hair to one side and wove it into a braid over my shoulder. My touch prompted tiny purple flowers to blossom in my hair. They were Kinich’s favorite color to see paired beside my skin.
My father knew not of our romance, though it could not be deemed a surprise. I was the tender of flowers and trees for the mortals, and Kinich…
I paused beside a struggling rose bush as the sun warmed my shoulders. My smile widened, and the grass, which I had raised from seedlings, flourished into thick, green blades.
A beam of light focused on the bush beside me. The branches bloomed with wild rosebuds.
I stooped beside the flowers and touched their silken petals. They were so lovely.
The sound of light footsteps caught my attention. The warmth of the sun intensified on my back. I took one last moment to admire the blooms before I stood and turned to see Kinich standing behind me—golden hair, and eyes that beamed with shades of orange and yellow.
My heart jumped.
His gaze wandered to the rose bush. “Your flowers no longer struggle for life.”
I arched my brow and strode toward him. “And you believe you are responsible for giving them life?”
“Perhaps.” He reached out and twisted my braid around his fingers. “Without my light and warmth your flowers would not bloom.” He allowed my braid to slip out of his gentle grasp.
I tiptoed around him. “And without my touch, the light which you provide would have nothing to nurture.” I walked past him and gave him my back.
“Then I suppose we need each other.” His hands rested on my hips and then rounded my waist. Kinich pulled my back against his chest. My eyes fluttered shut.
His lips grazed the curve of my neck, his breath hot against my skin. “I have no shame in admitting I need you.” He pressed a kiss on my shoulder.
The Barricades by Cate Dean:
Daniel Reed fought for his life.
But he knew, even as he ducked the blow meant for his face, that the three boys who dragged him out here wouldn’t stop until he lay bleeding at their feet.
He decided to make it as difficult as possible.
“Is that the best you can do, Mandore?” Tomas Hurdy, the obvious instigator, taunted the tall boy who had just taken the swing at Daniel. “My baby sister can throw a better punch.”
I bet she can. Daniel stumbled backward over ground left ridged by the terra machines.
Hurdy probably came out of the womb punching.
Hurdy barreled toward Daniel, all two hundred plus pounds of him. Daniel waited until the last possible moment and leaped sideways. Hurdy roared past him, tripped on a rock hard ridge and slammed face first into the dirt.
Daniel spun around, knowing that retaliation would be swift, and probably fatal—and ran smack into his third tormentor. Trevor Harp—someone he thought was his friend.
Before he could escape Trevor grabbed his right arm and wrenched it up behind his back. The pain nearly doubled him.
“Good job, Trev.” Hurdy dusted off his shirt as he stood. “Now hold him still.”
Through a blur of pain Daniel saw the long, curved knife appear in Hurdy’s right hand. Panic lent him strength and he struggled to free himself. Trevor tightened his grip, caught Daniel’s left wrist, leaving him completely defenseless.
Hurdy buried the knife in Daniel’s left arm, just below the elbow. He screamed, agony exploding through him. The knife was iron—and would keep him from healing the wound himself.
“Shut him up!” Hurdy hissed. Trevor obeyed and let go of Daniel’s right arm, reaching up to cover his mouth. The returning blood flow was a small pain compared to the fire raging down his left arm. Hurdy followed with the blade, opening his forearm to the wrist.
“That’s a good start.”
Daniel screamed again when Hurdy yanked out the knife. Blood poured down his hand, pooled on the hard packed dirt. What was left of his strength ran out with the blood and he collapsed against Trevor.
“I think that’s enough,” Trevor said, his voice quiet. He let go of Daniel’s mangled arm and caught him around the waist, holding him upright. “We were not told to kill him, Tom.”
“Well, I guess the rabble got carried away. Walk now, Trev, if you don’t have the stomach. I’m going to cut on him a while, make up some for what his dad took from mine.”
Daniel swallowed, heart pounding. Hurdy Senior had stolen from Father, lied about it, and been punished severely. Now he was about to pay for the rash decision to make the older Hurdy an example.
Mandore moved in, clenching and unclenching his fists. “Tom, I don’t think—”
Hurdy turned on him. “You losing your nerve too?” Daniel knew he wasn’t meant to survive this—not with Hurdy using iron on him, and throwing around names. Names Daniel recognized. “Wouldn’t you do the same if you had the chance? Self-righteous bastard had no call—”
“She did not authorize this,” Trevor said.
“Just shut your mouth!” Hurdy raised the bloody knife, the point inches from Trevor’s face. Trevor flinched, but he didn’t pull away. “You hear me, Trev—I’m in charge. She put me in charge—”
“Why?” Daniel’s raw whisper cut through the tirade.
Hurdy smiled, and instead of using the knife again, he flipped the pendant Daniel wore out of the way and dug the sharp edge of his garnet signet ring into the left side of Daniel’s chest.
Daniel tried to jerk away. One hand fisted in his hair, halted his retreat.
“Since you’ll be dead,” Hurdy tightened his grip, “you don’t need to know.”