Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mini Tour: Broken Butterflies by Shadow Stephens (Guest Post)

Broken Butterflies by Shadow Stephens

Ilisha Morrison should have died the day she boarded the bullet train to Colorado. As her train collided with another, a handsome stranger saved her life, but put her in more danger than she ever imagined possible. Caught in a warring world of angels, demons, and a vengeful Death Maker who wants to destroy her, Ilisha discovers her true identity and that not everything is as it seems. Betrayal, heartache and two angels competing for her love forces Ilisha to make the hardest decision of her life.

Buy on Kindle / Paperback


I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you that have bought and read my books. This has been such a fun ride for me. I love to read all your feedback and look forward to bringing you many more stories in the future. Whenever you’re in the entertainment business in any form it’s always the fans that matter. I’m happy to be able to take you out of the world for a while and into fantasy.

My next book The 13th should be out by Halloween, which is no coincidence. It’s my favorite holiday, not to mention the book is about all things witchy. I would like to leave you with the blurb, cover and an excerpt from The 13th. Enjoy and happy future reading.

Blurb: Magic in Strega Bluff is like parking meters in other cities. The quaint New England town is home to a large community of witches or warlocks--and many secrets. Jade Hansen loved living there until the untimely death of her parents. After a much-needed sabbatical, she returns to find the peaceful hamlet turned upside down. A string of murders haunts the city and everyone is potential a target, but even worse, they are all suspects too. A family secret puts Jade in the middle and her loved ones in danger. Dodging an evil warlock set on revenge, she is in a race to stop the killer before it is too late.


Waking early, Jade Hansen rubbed her eyes and stared into her dark room. She had just gotten back into town after a much needed hiatus. Today was the day she would put the past behind her.

She tucked her long, red, hair behind her ears and stood, her feet hitting the cool wood floor.  She smiled and stretched. Fall was in the air. 

She adjusted the blinds and looked out across the bay. Fishermen were already at it. Their nets were cast, pots laid, and riggings rocked back and forth with the motion of the waves. 

The house she inherited after her parent’s death sat atop a bluff on the edge of town. The land had been in her family since the 1600’s. Now the house was hers. She would put behind her the terrible way they died. This would be a better year.

Curling her toes and stretching again, she turned toward the bathroom. This would be a labor-intensive day for her. She knotted her hair on top of her head, threw on some makeup, and grabbed jeans and a hoodie.

Jade left her car in the driveway. The walk into town wasn’t that far and the fresh air would do her good. The tight knit community of Strega Bluff was as small as towns come. It would take her no more than ten minutes to reach the building she had bought. Instead of walking down the long stretch of driveway she cut across the lawn, and down the hill. 

Hitting the edge of town, she rounded the corner. Her shoes clapped against the wood planked sidewalk on Main Street. Very first thing she needed was a cup of coffee and the shop was conveniently right next door to the space she bought.

“Jade, nice to see you back,” Mr. Humphries the coffee shop owner said.

“Thanks Ben, can I get the usual?”

“Sure thing.”

The middle-aged man turned his back to her and got busy making her favorite cappuccino. His grey, tightly curled, hair was cut close to his head. The white and silver spots brought out the color of his dark skin. He turned and wiped his hands on his apron and Jade stretched out her hand with money.

“No, this is on me.”

“You’re too good to me, Ben.”

“Hey, we’re neighbors now. Maybe you’ll trade me for some of those expense aroma candles you make.”

“It’s a deal.” Jade gave him a bright smile as she turned to go.

She took two steps out the coffee shop and stuck the key in the door to her new shop. The front was all glass, which was perfect for letting the tourist see inside. With a creak and whine the door swung open and she was hit by a blast of chilly air, which caused her to shiver. She reached and turned the heater on. The smell of warm dust came up through the vents.

She turned on all the lights and flipped her keys around her finger, smiling. 

Walking to the back, she began to drag out boxes filled with candles. Some of them she had made herself, others were imported, but all had a specific healing purpose. 

She carried a large box to the front of the store and placed it on the counter. Grabbing the bottle of glass cleaner and some newspapers she sprayed the front windows heavily. Before she got back she had asked her best friend Asher to build some shelves that could sit in front of the slatted floor to ceiling glass. When she sprayed the glass on the door she heard the familiar rumble of his GTO. Jade swung the door open just in time to see him pull up to the curb. As always, his black car was perfectly shined. Asher had this car since he was sixteen, and it was his baby.

He scooped her up in a tight hug. “Bout time you got back.”

“Thank you so much for building the shelves and counters, you have no idea how much this helps.”

“It gave me an excuse to get out of the garage.”

“You love grease and oil under your nails and you know it,” she teased.

“That’s very true.  Where do we start?”

Jade pointed to the boxes. “Each one is labeled; they all have a different kind of candle.”

“Who would have thought, a witch owning a candle store.” Asher grinned from ear to ear.

“Yeah okay, I know it’s a little cliché, but it makes me happy.” Jade playfully hit him. 

Jade looked at Asher, his aura was bluish, purple, which meant that he was calm and wise. There was also a tinge of pink, which told her he cared about her. His black hair brought out the color of his blue eyes. Today his face had a bit of a five o’clock shadow. Asher was always on her mind. She didn’t think she could miss someone that much. Jade often thought he was the reason she came back to town.

They had been friends since birth. Their parents were friends and a play date happened almost daily. Jade couldn’t remember a day she hadn’t seen or talked to Asher, until she had left, that is. Sometimes you just need to get away from everything to gain a new perspective and she hoped that she had done just that.

Hours were spent wiping dust from each candle and placing them on shelves. Jade hung 4 x 4 inch weathered wood plaques above each group that described the scent and meaning of each candle. In the middle of the shop was a round, wooden table on which she placed incense.  She chuckled as Asher grunted under the weight of an antique cash register and placed it on the counter. The outside was brass, with carvings of brooms, witch hats, cats, and cauldrons. This was far from a modern machine. You manually operated it by simply pushing the numbered buttons. Jade had found it on her travels and lugged it all the way back to Massachusetts. Living in a tourist town, she knew it would fit right in. 

Strega Bluff was known for witches and warlocks, but to the public it was a myth. They assumed it was a fun place to come for the day, have a tarot card reading, eat lobster, buy souvenirs, and go home. Little did they know each citizen of this town was in fact magical. Each one different in their own right, they cashed in on the myth and supported their tiny town with the droves of people that came by ferryboat from the mainland.

Jade ran her hand over a candlewick and it sparked to life, filling the room with a lavender scent. Asher slumped into a chair, his black hair falling into his eyes. Jade smiled and ran her fingers through it, putting it back into place.

“I missed those deep green eyes of yours,” Asher said.

She had been born with stunning green eyes, which her mother had immediately fallen in love with.  She named her Jade because of their bright color.

“Help me with this sign,” she said trying to ignore his comment. Being friends didn’t allow you to get too caught up in each others flattery.

Asher put his hands on his knees and stood up.

Grabbing a wood sign she paid someone in town to carve for the front of the shop, she walked outside as Asher followed her carrying a ladder. He leaned it against the building and reached in his pocket for nails and hung the ScentSations sign perfectly straight above the door.

 “Want lunch?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m starving.”

“Let’s go.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and walked her back inside.

Asher flipped off the lights as they walked out. She snapped her fingers and the candle blew out causing a stream of grey smoke to dance toward the ceiling. Jade closed the door behind her and locked the deadbolt.

Turning to walk toward the pier, Jade was pulled back by Asher taking her hand. “Um, the car is right here.”

Jade had to laugh. “It was worth a try.”

Asher insisted on driving Marilyn, his car, everywhere, even if his destination was two doors down.

“Will you ever stop obsessing about this car?” Jade asked as he started the engine.

“Marilyn and I go way back, don’t we girl,” he replied stroking the dash affectionately which caused Jade to roll her eyes.

They drove two blocks and parked. As usual, Captain Jack’s, the local seafood restaurant, was packed with the dinner crowd. Jack, who received a fresh delivery of clams every morning from the local fishermen, could make the best clam chowder around. 

Jade and Asher walked to a table that would normally be outside, but Jack had put up a temporary cover for fall and winter. Outdoor heaters had been set up to fight the chill and they burned giving off a loud hissing noise. They pulled the menus from the table holder, though they really didn’t need one, Jack never changed.

“Jade, your back!” the waitress squealed.

“Julie, oh my gosh, you’re very pregnant!” Jade stood up to hug her.

“Yep, I decided to let Doug get some,” she chuckled. “What will you ’all have?”

“Chowder,” they said at the same time.

“Bread or bowl?” Julie queried.

“You really need to ask that?” Asher said.

“Bread it is. Want your usual draft?” 

They both nodded and Julie waddled away.

Five minutes later she came back with two huge sourdough bread bowls filled with white chowder. Steam danced atop them, and Jade eagerly grabbed her spoon.

“My gosh I missed this,” she said holding her palm above the soup and uttering a quick spell to cool it.

“That’s easy to solve, don’t leave again.” Asher said it lightly, but Jade knew he meant it.

“Ash, you know I had to.”

“I could’ve helped you.”

“I know, but it was just too much. I didn’t want to hear the police ask me about dark magic, or enemies one more time. My parents were murdered, and no one knows who did it.”

“They were just doing their jobs, but I understand. I still hated it while you were gone. It felt like a part of me was missing.”

“It’s not like I didn’t feel the same; I did. But, I’m back now, so let’s just concentrate on the future.”

“Sounds like a plan. To the future,” Asher said raising his beer glass. Jade clinked hers against his and they took a drink.

Asher drove her home and hugged her goodbye. “I’ll see ya tomorrow Elf.”

Jade had to smile at his nickname for her. Her ears were a bit pointy at the top and the kids would tease her about it when she was little. They came up with the name and she hated it, except when Asher used it.

She watched Marilyn disappear down the drive before walking toward the house. The scent of his cologne mixed in with engine grease still filled her nose and she inhaled deeply.

The house had been remodeled several times over the centuries.  Now it had a Victorian look to it. White, wood siding covered the exterior, and it was badly in need of paint. A porch wrapped around the entire first floor, with several French doors prominently located for easy access. Inside, at the back, stood a three-story staircase that circled around a steeple like structure.  There were two other staircases in the house, but they only led to the second floor, although technically, there were four floors to this house. 

The kitchen was filled with old cabinets and a cast iron stove, with a large hood. Jade’s father had converted the stove to gas some time ago. In the sitting room was a massive fireplace that a grown man could stand in.  Attached to the kitchen was a glassed in atrium, where herbs and plants were grown year round. 

Jade walked into the living room and flipped on the light switch. The single switch turned on a series of faux candles positioned around the room bathing it in a soft yellow glow. On the far wall was a bookcase and she walked to it. She stopped at the spinning wheel that sat in front of shelves and touched it softly with her hand, slowly turning the wheel. Her grandmother would sit here for hours spinning wool. 

Jade pulled the clip from her hair and allowed it to cascade down her back. She pulled a cellphone from her pocket and called her grandmother.

“I’m gonna come over and visit you.---Yes, I’ll bring lunch.”

Jade chuckled as she hung up. Her grandma moved out of the large house when Jade’s grandfather died, leaving it to her parents. Katherine now lived in a small house in the center of town.

Walking up the main staircase, Jade headed for the shower. She let her clothes fall to the floor before grabbing some towels. The hot water filled the bathroom with steam. She lathered her hair with shampoo of her own making and scratched her scalp with her fingers. A light bulb above the sink exploded with a pop and she jumped. Wiping condensation from the glass shower doors she peered out, but could only see fog. Shrugging it off she rinsed her hair. She stuck her face under the water to remove any suds. As the water cascaded down her face and neck the other lights exploded. One by one the light bulbs shattered leaving her with only a glow from the bedroom lamp. Quickly turning off the water she grabbed her towel.

She walked carefully, trying to avoid stepping on broken glass with her bare feet. Bending down she picked up a piece. The light bulbs were all black on the inside. Jade straightened up and for a split second she saw movement in the, fog covered, mirror, which made her shriek.  

“Hello,” she called out.

She felt a breath against her ear and whirled around, but could see nothing there. In two strides she was out of the bathroom.  She put on some pajamas and shoes and went downstairs to grab the broom and dustpan.

After she had swept up the last of the broken glass, she replaced the light bulbs. The bathroom again glowed with warmth. 

Being already on edge, the ringing of her cell made her jump.  She grabbed it and said “Hello?” in a shaky voice.

“Hey Elf, what’s going on?” Asher asked with a tinge of panic in his voice.

“I just got spooked, I’m fine.”

“You don’t sound fine.” 

“I’m sure it’s just my imagination.”

“Jade, you can’t fool me, what is going on?”

“I was in the shower when all the lights in my bathroom exploded. I thought I heard and saw something, but nothing was there. There’s no reason for a spirit to be in my house.”

“You need to be careful. Do you need me to come over?”

“No, don’t be silly. Really, Asher, I’m fine. Why did you call?”

“I felt you were distressed.”

“I always forget we swapped blood when we were ten.” Jade smiled at the thought.

“I still have the scar to prove it,” Asher said and Jade held up her palm to examine her own. They had taken her father’s pocketknife and slit down the center of their hands, then held their hands together, hence infusing each other’s essences. 

“I’ll see you tomorrow Ash.”

“Until tomorrow.”

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