Join us July 21 – August 29 as We Celebrate Pauline Creeden’s Books
Featured Today is Pauline Creeden’s Excerpt from her Book SANCTUARY
I watched for the owl with my Hogwarts letter to appear on my 11th birthday, but he never did. So when an owl taps at my bedroom window near midnight five years too late, I am more confused than elated. I had never seen an owl before except in the movies. The street lamp casts a yellow pallor on this one, but still its feathers shine just shy of iridescent. Varying shades of brown and gold weave throughout its wings and cover its back. It pecks again at my window pane with its amber beak.
I close my purple laptop now that the initial shock has passed and dart a glance toward my bedroom door. Would my stepfather hear it? I grit my teeth. If he did, there’d be hell to pay. Waking him is like waking a bear. My desk chair squeaks when I unfold my bare feet from under myself and stand. I wince at that sound, too.
The owl no longer faces me, but gives me a full view of its gorgeous feathers. I’m not a little girl anymore. I don’t get a fanciful notion that this bird is somehow magical or carrying a letter from Disney World…or wherever Hogwarts is supposed to be. Those sorts of dreams were buried with my father—the one who had read those books to me when I was young. So as a realist, I do the practical thing. I shoo the bird and wave at it to make it go away.
Its shiny yellow eyes focus on me, and the ridges on its forehead meet in the middle. It gives me a piercing, indignant look, turns its head and leaps from the sill. Talons scratch against the wood before the owl dips down and starts upward. The rooftop of the four-story brownstone across the street becomes its perch. Out of the reach of the streetlamps, its dark silhouette barely makes a mark against the washed-out sky.
Regret tightens my throat. Why did I chase it away? A deep, throaty cough in the bedroom next to mine serves as a reminder. I tense, but no other noises come from my stepdad’s bedroom. It’s my mom’s bedroom, too, but she’s working the night shift at the diner…again.
My hasty decision has cost me the moment to examine an extraordinary thing. I could at least have spent some time inspecting those marvelous feathers. Suddenly the room feels stifling. Warm air presses on me from all sides—inescapable. I step up to the window, pull the latch, and push it open.
The October night air kisses my cheeks, licking the sweat beaded on my nose. I shiver and wrap my arms around myself. In the distance a car alarm blares a steady rhythm, and a siren wails even farther away, but nearby, indistinct conversations make it past panes of glass and through the cracks of the apartment buildings to the street. Even though it’s late, people are up, living life, or maybe even watching Doctor Who re-runs on Netflix, like I was.
The quick whistle between the feathers of the owl draws my attention. Its broad form returns to the light of the streetlamp, and the golden hues I’d admired just a moment before become muted from this distance, more natural than I’d first realized. Surprisingly, the bird dips toward the street. A tall young man with dark, disheveled hair pushes off from a wall and steps into a pool of light. I’ve never seen him before. His eyes are on the owl as well. The bird dives toward him. When the guy reaches an arm out in a welcoming gesture, I’m stunned to find the owl landing upon his shoulder. The pair moves in and out of the pools of light under each street lamp.
And just when I thought I no longer believed in magic.
I blink hard and shake my head, but the image of the young man with an owl on his shoulder doesn’t go away. They remain, walking in and out of the shadows.
“Unbelievable,” I whisper and pull back from the window, suddenly chilled.
I slide the window shut and shake my head. As an afterthought, I pick up my cell and kick myself for not taking a picture. But then the flash would have drawn attention to me, right? I wouldn’t want that if the guy below was something sinister…like what? A wizard?
I shake my head again and rub my arms. My hairs stand on end.
Outside my bedroom door, I hear feet shuffling, and a floorboard creaks. My heart leaps in my chest. My stepdad. I bound across my bed, click off the lamp on my nightstand, and throw my feet under my covers. My heart beats rapidly in my chest and in my ears. Swallowing hard, I try to hear over the incessant pounding. Did he see the light under my door?
Although the man had never laid a hand on me, his judgment and hatred pierce me with his glares and lash me with his vicious tongue. I don’t need his yelling. Everyone is happier when I keep a low profile.
An echoing cough lets me know he’s in the bathroom across the hall. Our two-bedroom, one bath condo on the second floor of the brownstone is one of the smallest in the neighborhood. When my father bought it, he had said that it was better to have the smallest house in a good neighborhood than the largest in a bad one. Because of his foresight, I was also within walking distance of one of the best private schools in Crystal City. And with the money from the insurance company after his accident, my uncle, the executor of the will, determined to pre-pay for my education until I graduate.
The flush of the toilet quickens my heart. Would he come toward me or go back to bed? When the floorboard in front of his bedroom creaks, I let out a ragged breath. My heart relaxes in my chest, and I close my eyes. Safe. This time anyway.
Part Steampunk, part Fantasy, all Romance…
When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother’s side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thought only existed in fairy tales. Tristan Gareth Smyth lived his entire life stuck at home at Waverly Park and left behind while his Grandfather makes trips to London, all because of his blasted wheelchair. Then an American heiress falls in his lap, literally, and he must find a way to keep her at a distance to protect not only his secret, but everyone around him from an assassin sent to kill him.
Buy on Amazon
Darkness can be overcome…
Terminally ill Lynette Lamb is forced to reunite her wayward son and grandson. Her options are as limited as her strength and mobility. Through a fateful series of events, the rejoined pair will leave Earth to become part of a colony orbiting a new planet. Sam Austin and his wife mourn the loss of their only child and decide to make a fresh start at the space station. The same ship holds the one who will fulfill the dark planet’s prophecy, but a demonic force boards to stop the vessel. The demon’s obedient but unwilling servant is sent on a suicide mission to keep the ship from reaching its destination.
Buy on Amazon
Chira Kelly thought she didn’t need anyone…until she met Ben.
Because of one ugly rumor, Chira lives as an outcast at her school. Which is fine with her, because she works better alone. Always has, always will. And at least she has her one and only true friend, Tasha. When Tasha insists that they join a group to visit a possibly haunted abandoned old schoolhouse, she’s wary, but joins her friend. Because of that decision, their lives are in jeopardy as a malevolent spirit targets the group. Tragedies and accidents pick them off one by one, and Chira finds herself drawn to the one person who can see the truth. But can he protect her?
*A Young Adult Paranormal Romance – Urban Fantasy with a blend of Mystery*
Buy on Amazon
Left Behind for the Hunger Games generation
In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meet The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be. Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…
When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going?
Buy on Amazon
Pauline Creeden is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.
Enter to win one of three swag packs. Open to US only.