~This is an in-universe piece of fiction for the Aspects series - a new YA sci-fi series - though all of the books featured are real and you can check them out by clicking on the book covers~

It's back to school time once more, which means it's time for our annual Aspects Reading List interviews.

The Aspects protect us from the monsters that roam the wastelands outside our cities but we rarely get the opportunity to get to know the mask-wearing heroes. We sat down with some of the Aspects from Tower 5 to get to know them through their favourite books. First up was the most recently chosen Aspect, the Aspect of Love.

I: So, Love, tell us, what was it like to be chosen as an Aspect?

L: Okay, I guess... I thought I was just here to talk about books?

I: Well, yes, but there are some warm-up questions so that our readers can get to know you first.

L: Okay... What do you want to know?

I: How are you settling into your new life? When they set up this interview, the Aspect Program mentioned to us that you're autistic. Has that made it hard to adjust?

L: No more than it makes anything hard.

I: No trouble making friends?

L: No.

I: I suppose there's only so long you can fight monsters without becoming friends. And since your powers are based on love, I suppose it makes sense that you would get on with others.

L: I would rather not talk about... About the fighting. Can we get onto the books now?

I: Yes, of course, I understand you've chosen four of your favourite books to talk about today.

XODUS

I didn't like this book the first time I read it, but I think I was just too young for it. I picked it up again recently and now it's one of my favourites. It's about a girl who loses her mother and she thinks that she's just disappeared, but then it turns out that she has special abilities and the main character also has those abilities and she tries to find her mother... I don't want to spoil the story but I really liked how far the characters were willing to go to find their family again. To think that people can care that much...

Anyway, it's a good book.

Diamond Marked: The Tale of El'Anret

This is an old favourite of mine. Well, the first book was. I only got around to catching up with the rest recently. I don't know, I guess I just kept putting it down and forgetting before? I'm really forgetful sometimes.

Anyway, the first book is about a girl who gets chosen to be the next Queen of Diamonds, destined to rule over the Fae, but the current Queen doesn't want to give up her crown. But the old Queen's twin brother starts to help the new Queen and... Well, I don't want to spoil it but... It's got kind of a romance in it, okay? I like romances in my books. I'm the Aspect of Love, it's allowed, I'm not sappy or anything...

Editor's Note: There was certainly no mistaking the Aspect of Love's romantic streak when passers-by snapped pics of her and the Aspect of Hate sharing a heated kiss in the middle of battle last week.

Pirate Princess

Okay, really though, who doesn't like stories about pirates?

Tower Five isn't on the coast, and even if it was, all of the coastal cities need walls just as large as the others. There's not much about the world before the monsters I ever wondered about, but the sea? Well, I suppose one benefit of being an Aspect is the ability to go beyond the city walls every once in a while, even if it is just to deal with the monsters.

But I was supposed to be talking about the book, wasn't I? Well, the book is about the daughter of a pirate king and a princess. Her mother died when she was young, and when she gets older, she's sent to go and live with her mother's sister and her husband, who rule a kingdom together. She lives as a princess by day but sneaks away to be a pirate by night and I always liked how her mother was gone, and her dad couldn't be there for her, but she still had a family that looked after her, you know?

Water

And here we have... another book about water, but this one doesn't really take place on the sea, so it's not the same. I actually picked this book up recently and it really stuck with me.

In this one, the main character is afraid of water but her mother tells her that she can only go to the university she wants if she goes to camp and learns to swim. Only, she gets there and her instructor, plus a bunch of other people at the camp, are keeping secrets from her, which relate to why her dad left and I don't want to spoil anything, but I liked how close all of the siblings were in the book. Even the ones who aren't always super close care about each other and... Well, I guess I just hope... You know what? Never mind. It was a silly thought. I liked the book, it's good, go read it.

Join us again next week when we talk to the Aspect of Empathy about her favourite books.

~If you want to pick up a free, early copy of the first book in the Aspects series - Love/Hate - you can get your copy here or add it to your Goodreads shelf.~

The next Snowverse title - TARGET - is coming September 1st and will be a f/f paranormal romance novel, featuring Lady Caroline from the Freya Snow books.

The book is currently available to pre-order from iBooks and Kobo and there is a free prequel novella available from Instafreebie.

But if you want to give the book a look before picking it up, here's the first chapter:

Dealing with crime scenes had taught Caroline three important things.
First: breakfast was never a good idea. Queasiness was a lot easier to handle when there wasn't anything in her stomach to bring back up.
Second: coffee - specifically the caramel latte - was the greatest invention mankind had ever produced, and she wasn't sure how she had ever functioned without it.
Third: Humans could be easily unsettled by a deadpan, unamused glare.
Caroline jumped out of her black SUV, coffee in hand.
The door shut firmly behind her as she strode up to the warehouse she had parked outside, ignoring the police tape in her way.
The uniformed officers looked up, but quickly looked away as they recognised her. They were more than used to this routine.
Caroline walked into the warehouse, entering only to see a ritualistic display of severed limbs pinned to the metal storage racks.
She took a deep drink of her coffee as she examined the scene in front of her, trying to detach the reality of blood and flesh from the intent of the arrangement.
And there was definitely intent. This wasn't just some random pattern, she could feel the magic these components were attempting to focus.
Attempting, but not quite managing.
The question being, was the problem incompetence, had the police already tampered with the scene, or was there another component to the spell that hadn't been set up yet?
The second factor was the easiest to rule out, and her gaze swept the room as she tried to decide who to approach.
If she had been prone to such outward displays of emotion, she probably would have smiled as she recognised one of the CSIs.
"Good morning, Sas," she greeted as she walked over to him.
Sas simply sighed, brushing his long black hair from his eyes. "I knew this would be one of yours," he said as she approached. "The ritualistic and physically improbable placement of the bodies…"
"Have any of your people interfered?"
"No, not yet. I told them all to just look busy until you arrived, but the SIO is starting to catch on."
"Can't you just tell them this is one of mine?"
"Normally, I would. But she's new. The chief doesn't exactly like admitting that there is a strange woman who wanders onto our crime scenes and takes them over, so I don't think she's been brought up to speed on everything. And to be honest, I can't exactly blame the chief because I thought about explaining this situation to her but I couldn't come up with an explanation that made any kind of sense."
"I don't know… Not wanting to get in the middle of something you can't handle seems like a perfectly valid explanation to me."
Sas shook his head. "Really? Because I can't think of any way to phrase that without making this entire department out to be abject cowards."
Caroline shrugged. "Better coward than dead. Still, I suppose I should introduce myself."
Caroline's coffee caught in her throat as Sas nodded over to a woman who seemed horrendously out of place compared to everyone else there.
She was tall, with curves that were somehow a perfect combination of soft and strong. Her cropped black hair was styled out of the way of her calculating, onyx eyes, and it shone under the warehouse lights, which seemed not to have the same washing-out effect on her dark brown skin as it did on everyone else.
Caroline thought she would look more at home in Amazonian armour than her plain black pantsuit, but the latter was certainly flattering.
She couldn't help but sigh at herself. Had it truly been so long since she had been with anyone that she was thinking of a Human in such terms?
A Human that was causing her trouble, at that...
"That's her," Sas said, seemingly oblivious as Caroline cleared her throat and refocused on the task at hand. "Detective Inspector Sharma."
Caroline nodded before striding over to the woman in question. As she approached, every other officer stood back, desperate to look anywhere except for right at her.
Sharma frowned, clearly confused by the behaviour of her colleagues.
"Detective Inspector Sharma? I'm Caroline Raven of the RCE, and this is now officially my crime scene."
The detective's frown deepened. "The RCE? I've never heard of that organisation."
"Then consider yourself lucky. Most places never see us, or at least not frequently. Unfortunately, this city is a hub for exactly the kind of crimes that are our speciality. Crimes such as these."
"And what exactly do you mean by that? What kind of crimes?"
"The weird ones," the officer next to her muttered, though he quickly did his best to look as if he hadn't said anything.
Caroline simply found his behaviour amusing.
"You can't just waltz in here and take over my crime scene," the detective said. "I need some form of identification or something…"
"No, you really don't," Caroline said firmly.
"This isn't actually uncommon here," the man next to the detective said, once more under his breath. "The chief's standing orders are to hand over any crime scene to Raven when she arrives. Trust me, it's for the best."
The detective didn't seem to be buying it, however, and continued to glare at Caroline. "I can't believe that the procedure is to simply hand over an active crime scene to some random woman with no identification or recognisable organisation."
"Whether you believe it or not, it's true," Caroline said, her voice more than a little tired. "For now, this crime scene is mine. If you have a problem with it, I suggest you speak to your boss about it."
It looked for a moment as if the detective wouldn't stand down, and Caroline had to curse her luck. Most of the Humans found her unsettling because part of their brain – the ancient, primal part – still recognised her for what she was.
A dangerous predator. The monster under the bed.
A Demon.
There were some Humans, however, who had just a drop of magic in them themselves. Those Humans were more than a little infuriating for their ability to see past what unsettled the others.
Caroline didn't exactly mind when it was someone like Sas, who wouldn't ever cause her trouble, but she suspected that the detective would be far more problematic.
She wondered for a moment if she would have to use her magic on the detective to get her to drop it. She hated using her magic like that, despite how skilled she was in it. There was always a small risk of hurting the Human. No, there were other, simpler methods to get what she needed. The only problem was, they didn't seem to be working right at that moment.
Thankfully, however, the detective sighed, shaking her head. "Fine, I'll go and talk to the chief about this."
Caroline would have preferred it if she had simply dropped it all together, but at least she could rely on the chief to explain why the situation was the way it was, and to get the detective to drop it.
After a few moments, the police filed out, leaving Caroline alone to her work.

TARGET will be released September 1st and is currently available to pre-order from iBooks and Kobo and there is a free prequel novella available from Instafreebie.

Hey! Guess what's coming out in just over a week!

If you guess the eighth Freya Snow book, you would be right!

If you haven't caught up on the series so far, I would advise doing so before reading ahead to the sample chapter.

Luckily for anyone needing to catch up, the boxset of books 1-3 is currently on sale for only 99c.

Books 1-3 Boxset

Books 4-6 Boxset

Book 7

“We’re back,” Freya called as she got back to the apartment she and Alex were renting. It had only been two weeks, but after so long on the move, that practically made it home.
Alex grinned as she got out of the bathroom, her long, silky black hair still wet from the shower. She was wearing shorts and a tank top to combat the southern Spanish heat, and Freya was definitely not complaining, though she was slightly envious. Whenever she showed off that much skin, it just revealed how many scars she had.
“How did hunting for more car-sickness potion go?”
“We were successful,” Amber chimed in from beside Freya.
Amber, being a ghost, usually wasn’t visible to anyone but Freya, but after so long of it being just the two of them, Freya was now almost constantly extending her awareness of Amber to Alex as well.
Not that Amber was constantly around. She didn’t want to intrude on the couple. But every time they went somewhere new, she would help Freya find the local magical community so that she could get any supplies she needed.
“I also got burgers for lunch,” Freya said, holding up a plastic bag. “Have I mentioned how cool it is that you can get booze at McDonald’s in Europe?”
“Only every time we go.”
Freya pouted. “It’s not my fault. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had enough control over my powers to drink alcohol?”
Alex smiled, giving Freya a light kiss on the cheek before taking the bag. “I know,” she said.
“And that’s my cue to leave,” Amber said.
Freya smirked. “You’re just leaving so that you don’t have to watch us eat cheeseburgers when you can’t have any.”
“Even if I were alive, I wouldn’t be having a cheeseburger.”
Freya did a mock gasp. “Is this where we learn one of your terrible, deep dark secrets? Like - gasp - that you’re lactose intolerant? Or is that you’re vegetarian?”
“Neither,” Amber said with a wry look. “It’s not kosher.”
She disappeared at that, leaving Freya to nod at the empty space.
“Yeah okay, that makes sense,” Freya said, folding her arms and glaring at the empty space. “You know that you disappearing like that isn’t funny, right?”
Alex smirked at her girlfriend. “Yeah, but it’s exactly the kind of unfunny joke you would tell. How did you not realise you two were related?”
Freya shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t know what being related to someone was like before. I didn’t have a frame of reference.”
“No, I know, it’s just funny. I mean, you even look alike.”
Freya snorted. “Yeah, with my Elemental-green eyes and Demon-pale skin.”
Alex rolled her eyes. “I meant in the face.”
“Well, I’m face-blind, so there’s your answer there.”
“Plus, what do you mean Demon-pale skin? I’ve seen Demons with dark skin.”
“Huh... I guess you’re right. I suppose I just assumed. Caroline is pretty pale too.”
“Maybe you’re related to her as well.”
“Don’t even joke. Could you imagine if my life got that convoluted?”
“You say that as if it isn’t already,” Alex said with a smirk before biting her lip, glancing down. “So, hey, want to go down to the beach this afternoon?”
“Yeah, sure, I guess. Why?”
“No reason.”
“Really? Because you look like you have a reason...”
Alex rolled her eyes once more. “Can you please just let me surprise you with something this once?”
“Okay, okay!” Freya said, lifting her hands in mock-surrender. “Beach it is.”

#

As far as places to watch the sunset went, Freya thought to herself, the Balcon de Europa wasn’t bad. Far from it, in fact. Just a year ago, that would have meant nothing coming from her. She’d never left England, and she had barely ever left the North-East.
The past year had changed that, as she supposed being on the run always would.
“You’re burning up,” Alex said as she came back to where Freya was standing, holding their drinks in her hand.
Freya frowned. Despite her paper white skin, she didn’t burn in the sun. When she looked down at her arms, however, she realised that that wasn’t what Alex had meant. Her arms were covered in faint flames that flickered gently across her skin.
“Oops,” Freya said with a sheepish smile. She had a habit of doing that in the direct sunlight sometimes. As if she wanted to join in with the sun.
“Do you need me to dampen your magic?” Alex asked.
Freya shook her head, the flames fading. “I think I’m finally getting the hang of these powers.”
Alex grinned at that. “That you are,” she said before leaning forward, capturing Freya’s lips in hers.
Kissing hadn’t been easy in the early days. Freya had been too liable to go up in flames. But after so many months, it took a particularly good lay for her to worry about setting Alex alight anymore.
When Freya pulled away, she linked her arm through Alex’s, turning back to the ocean to watch the sunset. Of course, it was setting over to their right, but the colour change over the ocean was still nice to watch.
“So,” Freya said, “we’ve been here a while. It must be getting time to move again.”
Alex nodded. “I was thinking that we could hit the road the day after tomorrow.”
“Where will we be going this time? Are we still heading east?”
Alex got a faraway look at that. “I’ve actually been thinking about that, Freya.”
Freya frowned a little at her serious tone.
“I am happy being with you, no matter where we are. I could stay on the move with you forever. But... I think I want something more.”
“Like what?”
“Like taking the fight to the rest of the Enhanced.”
Freya bit her lip a little at that. “Alex... Do you really think we can take on an army on our own?”
“I’m not thinking of doing this on our own. I’m not convinced that all of the Enhanced are so gung-ho about restarting the War. I know I wasn’t. I don’t think any of my batch-siblings would be, either.”
“We met one of your batch-siblings, remember? He wasn’t exactly easy to convince.”
“But we did convince him.”
“So you want to try and contact him again?”
Alex nodded. “I can’t guarantee that the others will listen, but it might give us a starting chance. A chance to stop running from them. I mean, that rune Amber helped you craft stops the Council of Light from finding you, so we just need to stop the Enhanced and then...”
“And then?”
Alex took the hand that wasn’t linked through Freya’s arm, reaching into her pocket. Out of the pocket, she drew a small box.
Freya frowned. The box looked like... Well, it looked like the kind that jewellery came in. But neither of them really wore jewellery.
Alex flipped open the box, revealing a small diamond ring inside.
“Is that...?” Freya barely managed to whisper, her breath catching in her throat.
Was Alex really doing this?
Sure, they had run away together, but Freya hadn’t allowed herself to think more long-term than their next destination. Not when their enemies were so close behind.
“It’s a promise,” Alex told her. “A promise that we’ll stop the Enhanced, and then you and I can go wherever we want and stay put. We can have a normal, happy life together. Just you and me.”
Freya’s face heated up at that, and she wasn’t sure if it was a blush or flames, but she found that she didn’t care, she was too busy drawing Alex into her arms, holding her tight.
“I think I love the sound of that,” she eventually admitted.
Alex let out a relieved laugh at that as Freya pulled away, taking the ring and putting it on Freya’s finger.
“We’ll have to get you one,” Freya said.
Alex blinked, before laughing. “I didn’t think of that...”
Freya grinned at her girlfriend before wrapping her hands around her waist, drawing her close and kissing her. Alex wrapped her own hands around Freya’s sides, gasping a little at the ferocity of Freya’s kiss.
Freya never wanted the moment to end.

If you want to pre-order TRIDENT from Kobo, Apple, or Barnes and Noble, follow this link.

If you want to join my newsletter to stay updated on Freya Snow, follow this link.

Okay, so, if you're on my Lady Ruth newsletter, you probably already know this, but I was supposed to write a newsletter-exclusive epilogue short story to the series.

Which I did.

Only, it wasn't so much an epilogue, as it was a prologue for an entirely new series set in the 1920s.

I kind of really want to write this series, but I want to know just how much people actually want to read it before I make any real in-roads into development.

So, I've released the short story to the Lady Ruth newsletter with the caveat that it is canon for now, but if people want me to write the series proper, it will be removed from canon and replaced with the new series, which will be slightly altered. For example, the romance will be far more of a slow burn and I'll probably change Lu's name, given that it was originally a call back to the meta-fiction of the Lady Ruth books, but that quickly becomes weird with a full-blown story for reasons...

If you haven't read the short story, here's a link to join the Lady Ruth newsletter and get it.

If you have, here's a poll on whether or not you would read a full fleshed out series based on the idea:

If This Short Story Was Fleshed Out Into a Full-Blown Series, Would You Read It?

View Results

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FS1FS2FS3

Want to read the first three Freya Snow books for free?

I’m currently doing a giveaway of the Pup Trilogy (the first three books, including the short stories) on Goodreads. Just follow this link to enter.

Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, the Goodreads paperback giveaway is only available to people in the US, UK or Canada.

But if you live elsewhere, or just prefer ebooks, you can get the ebook version for free by following this link.

Both of these giveaways will end on the 14th of October 2016, but if you missed them, you can always get the first book for free here, and you can get access to review copies of my books here.

I’m back with a vengeance, people. Here’s how it’s going down.

CanonAuties

Starting tomorrow (because I started drinking on the plane home), I am doing a proper launch of CanonAuties. This means regular updates on all of the canonical autistic characters out there.

YouTube

So, I stopped posting to YouTube because my editing software broke and I got chubby. But no more! I am going to re-record my review of On the Edge of Gone and upload it in the next week, and then I plan to vlog all throughout August, so subscribe for that goodness here.

Twitter and Facebook

I’ve really been neglecting my followers on those platforms, but no more. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.

The Hunt Rewrite

I’m rewriting the first Freya Snow book. I’m not doing anything too drastic, I’m just hoping to clean it up a little. I’m posting (unedited) chapters on Wattpad and Tumblr when I finish them. This will probably precede a rebranding of the series (keep an eye out for new covers).

The Summer Write-a-thon

Still going, but I’ve added a spin-off mermaid romance (between Freya Snow books 6 and 7). So now I’m halfway through book 5 of 7.

Newsletter Goodies

Are you subscribed to my newsletter? If not, I’ve got to say, there are may be some exclusive goodies/early releases/sales coming up in the next couple of months that you’ll want to be a part of.

The Call for Street Team Members

What’s a street team? It’s my collective of beta readers/reviewers. They get my books early and for free. If you’re a fan of the series, it’s the best place to be. Right now, Freya Snow beta readers can read the next three books in the series, and Lady Ruth beta readers can read the whole trilogy. All I ask is that you tell me if you spot any mistakes. Reviewers will get these books as soon as they’re done with the beta readers (again, early and for free) in exchange for short, honest reviews when the books release.

If you want to join the street team, contact me through any social media platform (Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, etc.) or send an email to lucy@lcmawson.com *

*While anyone can join the advanced review team for Lady Ruth, for Freya Snow, the first book is available for free on all major ebook retailers, so potential reviewers must first leave a review on the Amazon US page of the first book to show that they’re serious about it (anyone who has left a review will be able to join the review team, I’m not judging the review on anything other than it actually being there).

In order to celebrate reaching 100 followers on Tumblr (for my author blog, at least), I’ve decided to do a giveaway. There are ten copies of the Freya Snow Pup Trilogy (Books 1-3) to win.

And, yes, that does mean that the winners will have Wings (Book Three) a month before anyone else (with the exception of advanced reviewers who get it this month).

The only requirement is that you follow me on Tumblr. And, yes, that does include new followers as well as the original 100.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today won’t be a new flash fiction piece. Instead, I thought I would share part of the first chapter of the second book.


Freya couldn’t help but grin as she headed out of school, knowing that she wouldn’t have to return until September. Provided that she decided to come back here for sixth form. Her last GCSE exam – which had, annoyingly, been French listening, which always tripped her up – was over and done with.

Her grin was mostly down to the fact that this marked the end of her frumpy uniform and having to take subjects she hated. Goodbye all language-based subjects. From now on, she would only focus on what she was good at. Not to mention the freedom to leave during lunch and free periods.

Of course, Freya should have known that such things never last long. Just as she was leaving the building, a rat-faced girl with shoulder-length, dark hair approached. Freya recognised her as Jamie, Damon’s girlfriend. Jamie hated Freya and made no effort to hide it. She seemed convinced that Freya was trying to steal Damon from her and dealt with it by spreading nasty rumours about Freya around school.

Not that anyone believed them. Freya was known for having no friends, doing well in school, and being a “teacher’s pet.” No one was ready to believe that at night she headed into town in tight leather outfits and screwed anyone who looked at her.

Though, Freya did suppose that her armour for Demon-hunting was mostly leather. She wondered if she had been sloppy with her glamours and Jamie had seen her one night. It might go towards explaining the basis for the strange rumour she had generated, Freya decided, despite the usual ones being “crazy.”

“You bitch!” Jamie screamed, before slapping her across the face.

Freya instinctively clenched her fist, but managed to stop herself from igniting it in flame, or using it to remove some of Jamie’s teeth.

“You bloody boyfriend stealer!” Jamie continued, still screaming through tears.

Freya put all of her effort into clamping down on her anger as a crowd began to form. The last thing she needed was to reveal her magic over something as trivial as getting back at Jamie. Also, it would be wrong, but that thought alone probably wouldn’t have stopped her from at least setting the screeching girl’s hair alight.

“I hope you two are happy together, you bloody slut! What nasty little tricks did you use to seduce him, huh? Bloody tramp!”

Freya actually let herself laugh aloud at that. Damon had no filter, and had never really twigged that his best friend being a girl would make talking about his sex life awkward. She knew exactly what Jamie had done with him, and the hypocrisy was hilarious to her.

Oh, grow the hell up, Jamie,” Freya told her, not noticing the low vibration beneath her cold words that had Jamie staring at her like a deer in the headlights.

Freya quickly headed to the front gate where Damon, as always, was waiting for her. He hadn’t had an exam today, so he wasn’t in his uniform. Instead, he was wearing his usual black jeans and black t-shirt, despite the warm weather. Not that Freya could talk, since her own aversion to colour only made an exception for blood red. Plus, any t-shirt that fit Damon like that was nothing to complain about. The tight fabric showed off the wiry muscles beneath his skin, all across his lanky frame.

Okay, so maybe Jamie’s accusations weren’t completely unfounded. Freya had always been attracted to her best friend, but it had been made clear to her over the years that he didn’t feel the same way. So, she buried those feelings and focused on just being his friend. Especially since his friendship wasn’t something she was willing to lose.

He grinned as he noticed her approaching, a few strands of his long, jet-black hair escaping his ponytail to fall across his dark, almost-red eyes. She might have blushed, if her approach hadn’t resulted in her inhaling a sudden waft of cigarette smoke. She choked back a cough, as she always did. As much as she hated the smell of cigarettes, she was also kind of glad that Damon had started, since the smell was such a turn-off for her. It made it much easier to not act the fool in his presence.

“What did you do to Jamie?” Freya asked with a raised eyebrow as he tossed his tab to the floor before falling in-step with her as they headed towards his place.

He shrugged. “I broke up with her.”

“Why?” She could think of several reasons, but she didn’t understand why it had taken so long.

“She told me that I had to stop talking to you. I told her to shove it.”

Freya couldn’t help but snort. “That might explain why she slapped me.”

“Sorry,” Damon told her, his tone completely genuine. “So, did somebody call her an ambulance already, or…?”

Freya rolled her eyes. “I held myself back. Barely. I swear, I don’t know what you saw in her.”

He shrugged, which pretty much answered her question. He was a teenage boy and she was a willing girl he didn’t find questionable. A pretty low bar, which made Freya feel all the worse about him ignoring her. Not that it had been such a bad plan in the past. Freya had mostly been indifferent to all of Damon’s other girlfriends. Much like the rest of his friend group, Freya didn’t know them too well, and they had made it clear that, while they wouldn’t actively bully her, she wasn’t welcome to hang out with them. The problem with Jamie was that she had been the only recurring girlfriend, and she was the only one with an active hatred of Freya.

“So…” Damon started once more. “This means I no longer have a date for prom tomorrow.”

Freya rolled her eyes, feeling little sympathy. “Join the club.” She wouldn’t have even agreed to go if her foster mother, Margaret, hadn’t found out about it and bought her a new dress, assuming that she wanted to go.

“Well, why don’t we go together?” Damon asked and Freya’s heart skipped a beat. “You know, as friends.”

She almost sighed at herself before replying. “Sure, why not?”

—–

It always amazed Freya how quickly time with Damon seemed to fly. It felt as if they had only just left school when they reached his place.

“Be two minutes,” Freya told him as she headed into the bathroom to change into her workout gear.

She wondered, as she so often did, if the girl who had broken into her magic while scared and alone in the school toilets would recognise her now. She hadn’t grown any taller, but her physique had changed. She wasn’t really thinner, except perhaps a little around her face, but many of her curves were now the result of muscle rather than fat.
Maybe it wasn’t that she looked that different, she thought. Maybe it was just that she no longer hated how she looked. The spark of confidence had returned to her wild green eyes and a smile was gracing her lips far more regularly than in the past.

Her workout gear consisted of black joggers and a white vest, with white and pink trainers. It was more practical than fashionable but she didn’t think she could really justify spending her pocket money on anything fancier, given how expensive workout gear could get.

Freya moved back through to the training room, where Damon was waiting for her. Damon’s uncle worked in private security and had a thing for collecting weapons. He had taught Damon to use modern firearms, ancient melee weapons, and martial arts in what Freya assumed was an effort to grow his confidence after years of living with his abusive father.

For Freya, it was more than convenient. Amber, the ghost her mother had charged with keeping an eye on her, could teach her magic, but there was no way she could teach her the practical skills she needed to accompany that magic in a fight. Not that Amber was too happy with her fighting, anyway.

Her first encounter with a Demon had been an accident. He had latched onto her, thinking she would be easy prey. And she almost was. The second encounter, however, had been a little more down to Freya. She had sensed the Demon, not the other way around. She had been ready to ignore it, but enough pestering got Amber to admit that the high crime rate in the city was a little more supernatural than originally thought.
Though, they had turned out to be after Freya anyway, so it had all worked out.

Freya didn’t necessarily go looking for trouble, but in this city, it was hard to avoid. Not to mention, she was actually getting kind of good at taking down Demons. She liked it. It made her feel like she was doing something worthwhile for once, and not just running in place until the next set of exams.

“You ready to get your arse handed to you?” she asked Damon as she approached, picking up two small swords. Damon tended to prefer one longsword, but Freya liked to dual-wield.

“You wish,” he countered with a grin.

She was cautious, as she always was. Damon was Magic Sensitive, meaning that he was immune to spells not directed specifically at him and so often saw through the glamours she used to hide her Demon-related injuries, but he was still mortal, with no knowledge of magic. She had to be careful not to reflexively use her magic when sparring with him.

Damon was quick and he was strong, but she was quicker and stronger. He’d only had a few months’ head start on her and she’d thrown herself into training with more determination than he had.

It wasn’t long before his blade was knocked from his hand, clanging to the floor, and one of hers was at his neck, while the other was at his crotch.

“Surrender?”

He rolled his eyes, lifting his open-spread hands to tell her she’d won.

“I don’t know what it is with you and the knife to the crotch,” he said, shaking his head.

She shrugged. “Extra reinforcement to stop you from trying anything.”

As much as Damon might have thought it silly, Freya had found it a particularly effective strategy.

“Want to go another round?” Damon asked, but they heard the door open before he could answer.

“Damon?” his uncle called from the front room.

“Yeah,” Damon called back.

“Freya with you?”

“Yep,” Freya confirmed.

“Good,” his uncle said, entering the room, “because this pizza is a bit bigger than the three of us can handle, I think.” He held up a carrier bag which was straining to contain the biggest pizza Freya had ever seen.

“Wait, three of us?” Damon asked. “I thought Charlie had to stay in Durham overnight.”

“Yeah. Evelyn’s in town. We’re working a job together for the next couple of weeks.”

Freya paled as much as her already milky white skin would allow. She had been avoiding Evelyn ever since they had first met. She was a Dark Witch and had made it perfectly clear that she knew what Freya was. On the one hand, Freya was tempted to ask her questions and figure out if there were any other magic beings in the area. But, on the other, Dark Witches tended to hang around with Demons, just like the ones Freya tended to kill.

“Actually, Margaret wants me home in the next little while,” Freya lied. “She’s planning on getting takeaway to celebrate my last exam.”

“Aw, really?” Damon asked. “I thought we were going to finally finish Space Warrior: Redemption.”

Freya shrugged sheepishly. “Sorry. I guess we’ll just have to save it until next time.”

“Are you going right now?” Damon’s uncle asked.

Freya pulled her phone out, pretending to check the time.

“You know, I’d better. It’s getting late.”

“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Damon said. “What time do you want me to pick you up?”

“Pick her up?” his uncle asked.

“I, um… I broke up with Jamie,” Damon admitted.

“Again?” His uncle didn’t seem the least bit surprised.

Damon shrugged. “Yeah. So, I’m going with Freya instead.”

“You know, you don’t have to humour this tool just because he got himself into a mess,” his uncle told Freya.

“I didn’t have any other plans,” she reasoned, making sure all of her stuff was in her bag.

“It’s not like I asked her as, like, my second choice. We’re just going as friends so that neither of us are going alone,”

Damon tried to defend.

“Yeah, that sounds completely different,” his uncle replied sarcastically. “You need a lift?” he asked Freya.

“Nah. I could use the walk.”

“Alright then.”

“See you tomorrow at, say, six?”

Freya nodded. “Sounds good. See you then.”


Pre-order the book to read the rest when it’s released on February 1st 2016.