With: S.D. Grimm
After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.
Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.
But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.
With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.
Excerpt from Phoenix Fire:
He shrugged. “I should have expected Danny to warn you about me.”
“It’s not like you made a habit out of beating people up, right?” I offered a smile.
The way his gaze locked onto mine, suddenly easier to read though the moonlight was blocked by branches here, made me think he might be staring deep into a memory, too.
He sucked in a breath. “Right. I don’t go around hurting people.”
“No. You let them pick on you.” I released his hands.
His small laugh seemed to drip bitterness. “Well, I can’t exactly fight back—I’d be in so much trouble if I were to have another…incident—and they know it.”
That ignited a fireball in my stomach. That’s why they picked on him? “How can people be so cruel?” I pointed my flashlight on the path ahead. “Can I show you something?”
Within a few minutes, we’d arrived to my favorite place on the run. I stepped through the thinning dune grass and out onto a sandy cliff of the top of a dune. From here we could see over Lake Michigan. But the sun had already set, leaving nothing but darkness in front of us. Here, at night, the best view was looking up.
I sat down and motioned to the stars. “I looked up Andromeda after you came over.”
“Yeah?” His voice carried the hint of awe and surprise mingled together.
“But I don’t know which constellation it is.”
He sat beside me and leaned close enough that his shoulder brushed against mine. “There.” His fingers traced an outline of stars. “It’s been said that she’s a beautiful princess.”
“I read that, too.” I chuckled. “But like all princesses, she got into trouble.”
He laughed. “Yes. She got herself captured.”
I made my voice mock-dreamy. “But her handsome prince—what was his name? Perseus!—saved her. I can only imagine they lived happily ever after.”
He didn’t respond, so I tore my eyes away from the night sky and found Wyatt already looking at me.
“Thank you,” he said, turning his attention back to the sky as a breeze off the lake muffled his quiet words. “For not making me feel like a monster for what I did.”
I wanted to touch him again, but I refrained. “You’re hardly a monster, Wyatt.”
Something in his soft smile made my heart beat faster.
Something about Wyatt’s calm demeanor helped me, too. He poured peroxide into the bowl and then took Ajax’s offered paw. Slowly, he held the bowl up to Ajax’s paw, talking softly to him. Ajax sat still while the white foam bubbled around his cut. “So, tell me something about yourself.”
“Umm, you are aware he’s a dog, right?”
His return chuckle was soft and deep. “I mean you, Ava.” He glanced up at me, smile in his eyes.
I really liked when he said my name. “Like what?”
“Anything. Sometimes it helps to talk. Ajax can’t, but he’s a really good listener. Aren’t you, boy?”
His tail swept back and forth across the floor as he looked up at Wyatt. He leaned forward and licked the tip of Wyatt’s nose.
“Apparently he likes you.”
“I’m a likeable guy.” He lowered the bowl from Ajax’s paw and inspected the cut. “Almost done.” He glanced at me. “Hand me the gauze?”
I did. Wyatt’s fingers grazed mine as he took it from me. He wasn’t what he seemed. Not in the slightest. At school he always kept to himself in a way that made me write him off as some awkward guy. But here, helping the dog, he was confident. More like the guy who’d shielded me from wreckage, pulled a car door off its hinges, and tried to bust down my front door to come to my rescue. Not some weakling who couldn’t stand up for himself.
“Why do you let the guys at school push your books out of your hands every day?”
He paused in wrapping the gauze around Ajax’s paw for a heartbeat and glanced at me over his shoulder, a smile lighting his eyes. “Not every day. Besides, who will they pick on if not me?” This close, I caught sight of the depth of color in his eyes. Layers of blue and green and a bit of gold.
“You can’t possibly mean you let them pick on you so they don’t hurt someone else.”
He let go of Ajax’s paw. “Good boy.” He patted the dog’s head, and Ajax granted him another kiss. Then Wyatt faced me. “I said tell me something about yourself, Ava.”
Those layers of blue, light over greenish over bright. It was an amazing combination. I had to stop staring. I picked up the bowl and set it in the sink. Now that I was farther away from him, I faced him again. “I’m parentless.”
He pulled his eyebrows together as he stood and grabbed the broom. “That’s a strange label. Does it define you?”
Did it? “I don’t think so. The fact that I had parents defines me, though.”
“The fact that someone loved you?”
Whoa. Close to the mark, and I wasn’t in a sharing mood.
D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast.She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency, her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog, and you can learn more about her upcoming novels at www.sdgrimm.com