Andrea Murray will be on tour March 23-27 with her novel Vengeance
She will finally learn the truth, but it will change everything. After barely escaping the Liaisons’ facility with their lives, Vivian Cartwright and her friends are on the run. Vivian is determined to find her long-lost father armed with the clues she stole from her uncle’s twisted mind. But before she can begin her quest, she must help Wyck locate his mother. The journey brings them closer than ever and creates growing tension between Wyck and Easton, making Vivian more and more confused about her feelings for them. In this shocking conclusion of The Vivid Trilogy, Vivian comes face to face with a surprising twist that turns her world upside-down. Please visit CLP Blog Tours for all the tour stops!
His full lips press against mine, sweet from the chocolate he’s just eaten. I inhale his warm breath and feel his heartbeat against my hand. The fast rhythm matches my own. One hand rests against my neck, fingertips brushing my hair. The other slides down my arm, caressing my wrist, before slipping to my waist and under the hem of my t-shirt. When his hand slides up my stomach, he deepens the kiss. My palm glows blue as I grip his shoulders. His teeth nip my bottom lip before his mouth slides across my jaw then down my neck. Fingertips caress my ribs.
“Vivian,” his voice whispers against my ear.
I jerk upright in the seat, still breathing heavily.
“What is it? Did you have a vision?” Easton’s worried expression sends a wave of guilt crashing over me. He leans close and takes my face in his hands. “Hey, you okay? Say something, babe.”
I shake my head slightly. “I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not. You’re shaking.” He runs his hands up and down my arms.
“It’s nothing. Just a bad dream.” I try to smile, but it refuses to appear genuine. I glance across the darkened aisle of the bus where Wyck sits wadding the wrapper from a candy bar. He licks his fingertips then smiles. Even in the dim lights from passing cars, I can still see the wink he tosses me before he stretches his legs across the seat. Since the five of us are the only passengers, there is ample room on the bus, but Wyck, being his usual trouble-loving self, chose to sit directly across from Easton and me. He rests his head against the window behind him, the smile an alpha-male smirk.
Damn him! If he hadn’t saved my life a week ago, I would wipe that look right off his face. But I owe him, and I’ve promised him my help in finding his mother. So, for now anyway, all I can do is endure his little fantasies and try to keep Easton from killing him in the process. When I’m awake, keeping him out of my head is easy. Sleeping—that’s a different matter. He reminds me on a regular basis that I must enjoy our ‘rendezvouses’ (his word, not mine) or else he couldn’t get into my head even then, and I keep trying to reassure Easton that’s not true, a complete fabrication of Wyck’s devious mind, but sometimes I wonder if I’m just trying to reassure myself. I have to admit if anyone is going to force dreams into my head, Wyck’s are not entirely . . . unpleasant.
I drop my gaze but not before Easton catches the direction of my glance.
“He did it again, didn’t he?” He breathes deeply, his jaw clenching from the grinding of his teeth. “That asshole!” Before I have time to react, he whips around in the seat and launches himself at Wyck.
“I warned you! I told you if you pulled that shit again I was gonna kick your ass!” Easton yells, grabbing Wyck by the front of his t-shirt and yanking him to his feet in the aisle between our seats.
“What’s going on back there?” yells the driver, a tiny man with white hair and a badly wrinkled uniform.
Cooper, who’s rapidly blinking the sleep from his eyes, jumps up, waking Abby who is leaning against his shoulder. In two long strides his massive body reaches Easton, grabbing Easton’s arm as he pulls back his fist. “Call down, buddy. I know you’re pissed, but I’m not itchin’ to get kicked off this bus,” Cooper drawls calmly even though he knows I would never let that happen. My powers have been weak since invading Hoyt’s mind and collapsing the tunnel at the facility, but I still have enough juice to make an old man drive us to the motel. After all, I did convince the ticket lady to let us on in the first place, but in the week since we escaped Hoyt and the Liaisons, Coop’s easy-going nature has been the peacekeeper. He’s defused more than one situation. Easton stopped listening to my pleas after the first day.
“Yeah, ‘buddy,’ better listen to Coop,” Wyck sneers, cocky grin back in place as though he isn’t about to have close, personal knowledge of Easton’s fist. “I’d hate to have to hurt you in front of our girl.”
Wyck’s taunt causes Easton to shake off Coop’s hold and throw all his weight against Wyck, slamming him against the window.
“Stop it right now!” The driver pulls the bus to the side of the interstate.
“Easton! No!” I jump up to separate them by any means necessary, but Coop captures Easton in a bear hug and yanks them backward then swings around, putting himself between the two of them.
“Now quit it!” He’s panting a little as he grabs Easton’s shirt. “I know you wanna kick his ass, but it ain’t happenin’ right now! We’ve spent the last week movin’ from place to place, tryin’ to keep us all alive and get back to the motel where we can get our shit and get the hell away from here! We’re almost there, and you and pretty boy can kill each other then! We’re all worn out, so both of you sit down and don’t even look at each other!”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard Cooper say so much at one time. From the expression on his face, I’d say he’s ready to beat the crap out of both of them, and they’d deserve it. It’s been—as Aunt Charlotte would say—a rooster parade since we rode away in the boat we stole to escape the Liaison’s facility. To his credit, Wyck hasn’t once tried to use his Gift against Easton. In fact, he hasn’t tried to use it at all, and I’m beginning to wonder if his ability to stop time was just a one shot deal. It sure would be nice to have Griffin’s power and reverse the last thirty seconds, but Wyck’s twin chose his side when he stayed with the Liaisons right after he broke his brother’s heart by admitting that he knew the truth about their father’s murder. He naively believes his mother is safe and refused to leave with us to find her. Wyck hasn’t said it, but I know his brother’s choice cut him to the core.
Easton roughly pushes Cooper’s hand away and glares at Wyck who shrugs and sits down.
As the bus screeches to a stop, the driver throws it in park, turns in our direction, and points his finger. “Out! All of you get off this bus! Company policy says no fighting!” He moves to open the door, but I close my eyes and connect to his mind. After one stunned moment, his eyes glaze over, and he turns back to the steering wheel, puts the bus in gear, and gets us back on the highway. The simple task drains me, and my knees refuse to hold my weight. I’m pretty sure I would have hit the floor had the seat not been there to catch me.
“Vivian!” Wyck yells, moving quickly toward me, his arrogant expression replaced by concern.
“I’m fine,” I say, holding my hand up before he reaches me.
Cooper touches Easton’s shoulder as Easton squeezes past him and back to our seat. “Sorry, man.”
“No, Coop, you’re right. I’m sorry for letting him get to me.” Easton shakes his head.
“Aw, you two gonna kiss now?” Wyck asks as he drops back down into his seat.
Cooper tightens his grip when Easton tenses. He glowers at Wyck in a way I’ve only seen once—right before he beat the crap out of Dillenger Wescott after the prom fiasco last year. “Don’t push it, pal,” Cooper says before releasing Easton, “or I might just help him.”
When Easton plops down forcefully beside me, he takes my hand. “You alright?” His aqua eyes study my face, searching for signs of distress.
“I’m okay. Like Coop said, we’re all tired. We need a good night’s rest in an actual bed, not sitting up on a bus or in the bottom of a boat.” I kiss his cheek. “Don’t be upset.” I nod toward Wyck and whisper close to Easton’s ear. “I love you, and he just does that because he knows it bothers you. He doesn’t really think of me that way, and it wouldn’t matter if he did.”
Easton squeezes my hand gently. “I don’t want to lose you to him.”
I kiss his lips and smile. “The only reason he acts this way is because I bruised his ego by turning him down.” When I lean back against the seat and glance out at the dark landscape, Wyck’s voice enters my head.
Keep tellin’ yourself that, Princess, and you might believe it.
I quickly put up my mental block, and from the corner of my eye, I see his smile as he leans against the window again and closes his eyes. A small part of me hopes he’s right.
Author Bio: Andrea Murray has been teaching English forlonger than most of her students have been alive. She has taught everything from junior high language arts to concurrent credit freshman composition. She lives in a very small town in Arkansaswith her precocious daughter, energetic son, and racecar-driving husband. When she isn't writing or reading novels for her students, she's probably watching reality television or cheesy science fiction movies. Vengeance is the third book in the Vivid Trilogy.
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