Thursday, April 21, 2016

Excerpt: Hleo

“Ethan?” I called his name as loudly as I could, considering I was in a library.
If it was him, he didn’t turn around, and I wondered if I’d been mistaken. I got to the stairs just in time to see whoever it was disappearing up the next flight. I knew that I should probably just leave it, sign out my books and go home. It had only been three days since I’d vowed to put Ethan Flynn out of my mind, not exactly a good start at moving on if I chased him up a flight of stairs.
I started down towards the first floor again, but curiosity stopped me on the third step. I turned around and bounded upwards. I did a cursory search of the third floor, but there didn’t seem to be anyone on this level, let alone Ethan. When I got to the top floor, I did another quick search, but it appeared to be as abandoned as the third floor.
I was about to give up and walk back down the stairs, when I heard the creak of old floorboards near the last aisle. I turned around and took a few tentative steps forward. Suddenly Ethan came barreling around the corner, almost running into me.
“Oh, Hannah,” he exclaimed, stopping abruptly, his eyes widening in surprise. “I didn’t think anyone else was up here.”
“I thought I saw you, so I decided to come say hi.” My cheeks warmed as I realized I probably sounded incredibly lame.
“That was nice of you,” he replied with a sincere smile that crinkled the corners of his emerald eyes. He seemed a little amused, and I wondered if he’d just chalked me up as another one of his adoring fans.
“What brings you to the library?” I asked as casually as I could. I glanced around the rows of old books, fully aware that we were alone.
“I was looking for a book to use for that history report Mrs. Benson gave us; how about you?”
“The same.” I held up the books.
“Where did you get those?” Ethan studied the titles with obvious interest.
“The second floor, in the history section.” I lowered the books to my side again.
“I thought the librarian said the fourth floor; I mustn’t have been listening closely enough,” Ethan replied, as we started towards the stairs.
“I can show you where the Hundred Years’ War section is,” I offered.
“That would be great, thanks.” Ethan nodded and we made our way back down to the second floor.
“So how do you like East Halton?” I asked as I led the way to the history section.
“It’s nice, smaller than I’m used to, but not too bad,” Ethan replied.
“Where did you used to live?”
“Lots of places.”
“That’s oddly vague.” I glanced over at him with raised eyebrows.
Ethan laughed. “I guess it is. I’ve just moved around a lot, that’s all.” He shrugged, and then quickly picked a few books off the shelf.
We each checked out the books we’d selected and started for the exit.
“Have you lived here your whole life?” Ethan asked as he held the door open for me. The sun had set while we were in the library, and the two of us walked down the stairs towards the lamp-lit cobblestone path that led from the library to the parking lot behind.
“Yeah, pretty much; since I was adopted when I was a baby.” I blinked. Why did I say that?
“Adopted? That’s interesting.”
“I guess. I’ve actually just started looking for my birth parents.” I winced as the words came tumbling out. What’s wrong with me? Why would I share such personal information with this guy I hardly knew?
“Wow. Have you had much luck?” Ethan sounded as surprised as I was that I was being so open with him.
“Not really. I’ve just-”
Ethan suddenly dropped his books and pulled me to his chest. A bright light flashed overhead and the air filled with shards of glass. My heart pounding, I pressed my face against Ethan’s navy shirt. He held onto me with one arm, and covered my head with the other, shielding me from the shower of fragments raining down around us. The incident was over as quickly as it had begun. When I opened my eyes again, I realized we were now standing in a pocket of shadow, and that the oversized lamppost above us had, for some reason, exploded.
“Are you okay?” Ethan’s face was inches from mine while he held his position as my human umbrella.
“I think so.” I glanced up at him and worked at steadying my breathing. My heart was still beating double time, partly with fear over narrowly escaping a glass shower and partly because of the strong arms that were still holding onto me. We were so close I could breathe in his scent: woodsy with a hint of soap. Ethan let go of me and stepped back. Slivers of glass tumbled from his head and shoulders onto the ground around us.
“What just happened?” I tilted my head back to take in the now burnt out remains of the light.
“I have no idea.” Ethan studied the top of the lamppost as well.
“How did you know the lamp was going to shatter like that?” When he didn’t answer, I dropped my gaze to the pieces of broken glass on the ground around us. A stick with a feathered tip poked out of the grass. “What’s that?”
“A crossbow arrow,” Ethan murmured, like he was speaking more to himself than me. “I thought I heard a rustling sound. It must have been the arrow flying over us.”
“Well, I just have to say, you have superhuman reflexes.” My voice shook and I pressed my lips together tightly to keep them from trembling as Ethan reached for the arrow. “Hey, you’re hurt!” I pointed to the long, deep-looking gash across his forearm.
He left the arrow and drew back his arm. “It’s not that bad.” He cradled his bleeding arm with the other one.
“Let me see.” I cocked my head to the side.
“Really, it’s nothing.”
“It’s too dark to see anything here. Let’s go to the parking lot.” I started toward my car. I glanced back to see if Ethan was following, and saw him scanning the woods as he walked. I wondered if I should be concerned about more stray arrows flying in our direction.
Once we were back at my car, I set the library books down on the hood and held out my hand, wanting to investigate his injury; as though I had any sort of medical knowledge to take care of it.
“Hannah, I’m fine, really.” Ethan kept his arm down at his side. I just stared him down until he sighed and held it up so I could see how badly he’d been cut.
“This looks pretty deep. You probably need stitches.” The gash ran about three inches across his forearm and fresh blood seeped across his skin.
“I’ll be fine. I should get it cleaned up though.” Ethan moved towards his Jeep.
“Wait. I have a first aid kit.” I held up a hand to stop him.
Ethan raised an eyebrow. “You do?”
“My friend Katie gave it to me as a joke since I’m sort of clumsy and tend to hurt myself a lot.” Before he could decline my help again, I popped my trunk and pulled out the little white plastic box that contained gauze patches, Band-Aids and rubbing alcohol.
“I think it just needs some gauze,” Ethan said.
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely.” He took one of the little gauze packets from me, ripped it open and pressed it against the cut.
“What do you think happened with the light? I mean, a crossbow arrow? That’s pretty weird.” I frowned as Ethan finished up with his arm.
“It is kind of weird, but we are surrounded by forest; maybe it was someone hunting or practicing archery, and the arrow ended up off course.”
“Anyway, I need to get going, but thanks for this.” Ethan raised his bandaged arm.
“Thanks for protecting me from the falling glass.”
He nodded with a smile and headed off to his Jeep.
I climbed into my car and drove away, trying to shake off the strange events that had just occurred. As I drove, the oddity of what had happened kept nagging at me. I couldn’t believe that I had almost been filleted by shards of broken lamppost glass caused by a stray crossbow arrow. That was beyond weird, but so was the speed at which Ethan had been able to protect me. I was very glad he had been there to come to my rescue.
My brow furrowed. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how Ethan had just happened to be there.
It was completely logical that he would be at the library, and yet, as I added this to the growing list of sightings, I couldn’t help wondering why I kept seeing him everywhere. As crazy as it sounded, I was really starting to wonder if Ethan Flynn was following me around. I shook my head.
That was an idea even stranger than anything else that had happened that night.

About the Author:
Writers begin as readers. I think before it can dawn on a person to sit down and type out thirty chapters of creativity they first have to have an appreciation for the written word. At least that’s how it was for me. Loving books always came easy, and getting drawn into different storybook worlds only made me want to be a storyteller of my own.

As far as my reading tastes go, they’re pretty eclectic; Jane Austen is my hero, I can always go for a good mystery, and a well-crafted fantastical world makes my heart happy. Ultimately I want a fairytale ending though; a conclusion where we leave our characters with all being right in their worlds.

Growing up with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and all the other 90s classic Disney animations gave me a fondness for fairytales, as well as all things Disney, which has carried on into my adult life. Walt was quite a guy, and I greatly admire his ambition to see his dreams fulfilled.

For a touch of the personal; being a mom and wife always keeps my hopping, coffee and music are constant companions, and I love baked goods, a little more than I should, but it all works out since I can’t bake or cook to save my life, as in - struggles with boiling water - can’t cook. I also love connecting with others about books, and even have an ‘ask the author’ page on my website because I could talk all day about plot, characters and inspirations (but no spoilers!). 

Giving Back:

I always knew that no matter how Hleo ended up released into the world I wanted there to be a small way for me to give back to the global community through it. I went looking for a charitable organization that fights for social justice and found the Because I am a Girl Campaign run by Plan International. They work in countries all over the world to provide girls with safe learning environments, protection from harassment and abuse, access to both nourishment and school supplies, and the opportunity to participate in literacy and business programs. And so, $3.00 from every copy of Hleo purchased will go towards supporting these amazing efforts.

Well that’s me and my mission in a nutshell. Hope you enjoy Hleo, and feel free to check out for more information, or to buy a copy of Hleo for yourself.

About the Book:
Our choices seal our fate. Hannah Reed is about to learn just how important one little decision can be. 

Hannah’s plans for a nice, quiet senior year of high school are rapidly disintegrating. It all starts when she innocently bursts in on Ethan Flynn in the change room of the clothing store where she works. Ethan’s presence in Hannah’s world is subtle but constant, and when he saves her life, they become linked by the workings of an ancient society and Ethan’s sworn duty to protect Hannah. Working together to figure out what destiny wants with Hannah, the two of them stumble on a baffling mystery that leaves even Ethan questioning what is in store for her future. With Ethan’s help, Hannah learns there is far more to this life, to her life, than she ever realized. As they attempt to untangle Hannah’s unique past and emerging abilities, an unknown danger from Ethan’s past looms ever closer. While racing to put together the pieces of the puzzle before it’s too late, Hannah wrestles with the idea that she is anything but average, and that perhaps she is also more to Ethan than just a job.  

Hleo is the first book in the series with the same name. A story of destiny and how one decision can change everything. When you buy a copy of Hleo, your one decision also has the ability to change the lives of others across the globe.  

$3.00CAD from every copy of Hleo purchased goes towards the amazing efforts of the Because I am a Girl Education initiative. Fighting to bring literacy and safe learning resources to girls living in some of the poorest nations in this world

Buy the book on Amazon

Disclosure: this post contains links to an affiliate program (Amazon), for which I receive a few cents if you make purchases.

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