New Adult Christmas Blog Hop Featuring
Exclusive Content from Angie Sandro
It’s a #NAChristmas!
Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the holidays with thirteen New Adult authors. Check out every stop leading up to December 24 to get excerpts, exclusive content, and hopefully a cutie under the mistletoe! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter to win a grand prize pack of an ebook from every author! Search #NAChristmas on twitter to find more posts!
Today we are featuring Angie Sandro and her Dark Paradise series and we have an exclusive scene to share!
“A vivid and entertaining storyteller, Sandro is an exciting new writer to watch.” —J.A. Redmerksi, New York Times bestselling author
Mala LaCroix has spent her whole life trying to escape her destiny. As the last in a long line of “witch women,” she rejects the notion of spirits and hoodoo and instead does her best to blend in. But when she finds a dead body floating in the bayou behind her house, Mala taps into powers she never knew she had. She’s haunted by visions of the dead girl, demanding justice and vengeance.
Landry Prince has always had a crush on Mala, but when Mala discovers his sister, murdered and marked in some sort of Satanic ritual, he starts to wonder if all the rumors about the LaCroix family are true. Yet after Mala uses her connection to the spirit world to identify his sister’s killer, he starts to form his own bond to her . . . a very physical one. As they move closer to each other and closer to the truth, Mala and Landry must risk everything—their families, their love, and even their lives.
Dark Paradise Series Bonus Scene takes place after DARK REDEMPTION and introduces DARK EMBRACE, releasing July 7, 2015.
NOT A DULL NEW YEAR IN PARADISE
Landry’s firm grip on my hand keeps me from being swept up in the thick crowd of jostling college students packing the entrance of the Blue Diamond Saloon. I’ll never get used to being surrounded by so many people, both living and dead.
I press closer to Landry, almost stepping on his heels.
He turns sideways, putting my back to the wall. “You doing okay, Mala?”
“Just a bit of a headache,” I yell, trying to be heard over the Zydeco music playing over the loudspeakers. “I’ll be fine.”
His black eyebrows dip into a frown.
At the back of the room, a stage is being set up for the New Year’s Eve live show by my favorite group—Phantom Cat. Hot damn. We’re partying—Creole style.
Reminded of why I came tonight, I rise on tiptoe so I’m closer to Landry’s ear. This, of course, puts me within nipping distance of temptation. I can’t help myself, so I cave and take a nibble on his delicious earlobe before saying, “Thanks again for the best Christmas gift ever!”
My lips move from his ear to the side of his neck. God, he tastes good.
Smells heavenly too. He’s wearing the cologne I bought him. We’d spent Christmas Eve at the hospital with my cousin Dena, opening presents and playing a prank on her doctor. Dr. Alonso Estrada’s still on my shit list after he blindsided me with his decision to take my cousin off life support. The pictures we got of him at the hospital Christmas party, hammered on spiked hooch and dirty dancing with a blow-up doll, ensures he’s blackmailable. So I didn’t hesitate to spring Dena from the hospital. A night out with friends and music will help her mood. She’s been really depressed being stuck alone in a hospital room for the holidays.
Dena passes her ticket to the bouncer. Tommy and Maggie also make it past the gatekeeper and join us. It’s been months since I’ve seen the newlyweds. They’re living the married life and attending college. As much as marriage scares the stuffing out of me, I’m kind of envious of the happy couple.
I glance down at my engagement ring and smile. It sure is pretty under the strobe lights.
Dena nudges my side, and I lean in to hear her. “So, have you settled on a wedding date?”
I shake my head. “Not yet.”
Her crystal blue eyes darken. “Life’s short, you know. Don’t screw around for a someday that may never come. If you love each other, why wait?”
My mouth opens then snaps shut. Really? What can I say? She’s right.
Landry’s cool about tying the knot. I’m the one who wants to wait. And for what? It’s stupid, really.
“T-Dog, let’s get some refreshments while the ladies find a table,” Landry tells Tommy.
I reluctantly release Landry’s hand and latch onto Maggie and Dena instead. We thread through the crowd and find a booth close to the stage.
“Phantom Cat isn’t supposed to play for a couple of hours,” I yell to Dena. “Are you excited?”
She grins and does a happy dance. The satiny fabric of her short, cobalt-blue dress spins around her legs. She gets some appreciative glances from a group of college guys sitting at the table across from us. When she notices, heat floods her cheeks, but she gives them a saucy smile and receives whistles and a “Hey baby, you’re so fine” in return. I’m thrilled by her reaction. It’s like a heavy weight lifts off her shoulders. I haven’t seen her this happy in months.
Dena slides into the booth and drums her fingers on the table. “I can’t wait.”
“Me either.” I reach across the table to take her hands in mine. She still seems so fragile. “Sure you’re feeling okay? If this is too much—”
“Hell no!” She squeezes my hand. “I’d have to fall back into a coma to miss the band. Stop worrying. Tonight’s all about ringing in the New Year. All the bad stuff that happened is behind us.”
Saints, I hope that’s true. “Yeah, cheers to a new year.”
Landry lightly touches my back, and I slide across the seat so he’ll have room. He sets a glass full of a lime green liquid on the table and two glasses of iced tea in front of me and Dena.
“Midori Sour. Do you want to taste it?”
I stare at a drink so green it reminds me of liquid luck. I consider taking a sip, but memories of helping Mama off the bathroom floor after puking out all but her soul keeps my fingers folded on my lap. “Nah, I’m the designated driver, remember?”
“One little sip.” He lays his arm across the back of the booth. “Maybe it’ll loosen you up. You’ve been wound up tighter than a spring since coming home from work.”
“It’s this new homicide I’m consulting on for the sheriff’s office.” I lean closer so only he can hear. Nobody else at the table knows my secret. I’m a ghost-whisperer—the seventh daughter in a line of witches stretching all the way back to Africa. “A guy was burned to death. Bessie asked if I could contact his spirit to find out what happened.”
“Did you?” He brushes my curls over my shoulder and massages the nape of my neck.
“No, I couldn’t sense him.” My muscles go gooey from his touch. “He must’ve passed over to the other side. The strange part was the residual taint over the crime scene. It reminded me of how it felt on White Oak Island. And if that’s the case, then this is bad, Landry. Real bad.” A chill runs down my spine.
Landry catches my shiver and pulls me into his arms. I lay my head on his broad shoulder and soak up his warmth. God, I love this man so much. Why am I stressing over a murder when I should be enjoying being with my family and friends? Like Dena said, life’s short. And in two hours, it’ll be a whole new year.
“To hell with it, let’s dance.” I slide from the booth and hold out my hand. “Come on. But watch those big feet. I need my toes.”
Landry laughs as he takes my hand and leads me beneath the strobe lights. The crowd shifts to allow us entrance, and we weave through the gyrating bodies to reach the middle of the dance floor. The music stirs a primitive part of my soul, overwhelming conscious thought. My body pulses with the rhythm of the drums and the trumpets’ soulful beat.
A hand runs down my swiveling hips, pulling me against familiar chiseled abs. I wrap my arms around Landry’s neck and hold him tight. My eyes close, and I relax into his arms. We sway slowly to the music, not even following the throbbing rhythm. Landry rests his chin on top of my head. His breaths brush across my hair, and his hands rest on my hips. Time passes in slow motion. The crowd around us ebbs and flows. Neither of us notices until a form moves directly into my line of sight.
Lieutenant Bessie Caine gestures from the side of the dance floor. She’s dressed in her uniform, which means she’s here on official business. I meet her worried gaze and stop dead in the middle of the dance floor. A chill of premonition fills me. “Something’s wrong.”
Landry’s arms tighten. “You’re gonna miss Phantom Cat.”
“I’m sorry.” Regret tinges my voice.
Landry doesn’t say another word. He leads me through the crowd. Each step toward Bessie feels like walking through molasses. Dread presses heavier and heavier upon my chest. By the time we reach her side, my legs tremble with the weight of remaining upright.
Bessie nods to Landry, then turns to me. “We’ve got another one.”
She means a murder victim.
Landry pulls me into his arms. “Since you won’t be here …” His mouth steals my whispered apology, and I melt against his chest. He kisses me breathless, then pulls back to press one last goodbye kiss on the tip of my nose. “Happy New Year. Be safe. And kick ass.”
“Always. Love you.”
He walks off, leaving me alone with Bessie and the news I don’t want to hear, but have to know to do my job. Time freezes. A million scenarios of what happened and the possible outcomes race through my mind as I ask the next question. “Did the vic burn like the last guy?”
To be continued in DARK EMBRACE July 2015.
Author Bio: Angie Sandro
Angie Sandro was born at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Within six weeks, she began the first of eleven relocations throughout the United States, Spain, and Guam before the age of eighteen.
Friends were left behind. The only constants in her life were her family and the books she shipped wherever she went. Traveling the world inspired her imagination and allowed her to create her own imaginary friends. Visits to her father’s family in Louisiana inspired this story. Angie now lives in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an overweight Labrador.