Hi, everybody! I’m Annie, and I’ll be your host on this leg of the YA Scavenger Hunt! I’m a YA author who loves dogs, ketchup, and boys with accents. But, really, that’s enough about me. Let’s get to the hunt!
Are you lost? Confused? Don’t worry, you can start right here on my blog—keep reading!
But play fast: This contest will only be online for 72 hours!
* Btw, if you’re looking for my exclusive content, you’ll have to continue on through the hunt! My gorgeous Hearts Out of Water inspiration board is somewhere out there, so you’ll have to keep going with the SILVER TEAM.
Directions: Below, I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers in all the posts by the SILVER TEAM, then add them up, and fill out the form HERE to officially qualify for the grand prize.
[Only entries with the correct sum will qualify. Ends April 3, noon Pacific time.]
Meet B. Kristin McMichael, author of The Witchling Apprentice! She’s here today to give us an exclusive excerpt from the second book in her Skinwalkers Witchling trilogy.
A bit about her: Kristin McMichael is the author of YA and clean NA paranormal fiction. Her vampiric “Night Human World” includes the YA coming of age series “The Blue Eyes Trilogy” and the spin-off adventure series “The Day Human Trilogy.” She’s also the author of the NA time travel romance series “The Chalcedony Chronicles”.
B. Kristin graduated with her Ph.D in biology at Ohio State where she worked as a scientist before taking her passion for writing full-time. Besides writing, she enjoys chasing her kids, playing outside, and baking cookies. B. Kristin McMichael lives in Ohio with her husband and three children. For more information on all of her books, visit http://www.bkristinmcmichael.com. Subscribe to her mailing list for new release notifications and deals: http://www.bkristinmcmichael.com/list.
Here’s a bit about the first book:
Witches, potions, and magical spells—that all made sense, but men turning into animal-like monsters in the middle of the night? That had to be fiction, right? Wrong. Cassandra Booth thought her world of witches would be complete when she joined her coven. Fate didn’t plan to let that be the case for her. Joining the coven brings new knowledge, like mates and men as animals, all things Cassie would rather not know. As her plans unravel she must find a way to join the coven without committing her life to a guy she once was friends with and now hates.
From Kristin: At the end of The Witchling Apprentice, I included the first part of The Wendigo Witchling as a teaser. For my bonus content, I’m including the complete first chapter of The Wendigo Witchling, which has never before been made available. The Wendigo Witchling will be released early June 2016.
Cassandra Booth didn’t look back as she ran. She was getting better at dodging people on the street. Turning the corner, she dashed into the town’s only used clothing store. There were a few straggling shoppers, who were scouring the racks for deals, but that didn’t matter to her. Cassie ran to the back of the store and the changing rooms, grabbing a bottle of perfume on the way.
It was only the fourth time in the last twenty-four hours she had tried to run away. She might have bonded herself to school heartthrob Nathaniel Bay, but that didn’t mean she was planning on anything changing. She did it to save her friend. She had no intention of getting married at sixteen to a guy she hadn’t spoken to in years before he was chosen as her mate. The night human world was nuts, and she wanted out.
“You need to pay for that,” the cashier told her.
Cassie waved at the middle-aged lady before ducking under the curtain which led to the back rooms.
She ran past the first few rooms before stepping into the third one. Quickly she touched everything in the room with her bare hand. Stepping back into the hallway, she doused herself with the cheap perfume. She didn’t need to be a night human to smell how obnoxious the stuff was. Cassie hurried down the hallway and placed the empty bottle along with the only money she had with her on the counter in the last room. She didn’t care how much the stuff cost. It wasn’t worth what Cassie left as she snuck out the employee back door just in time into an empty hallway.
Cassie slid down behind the door and waited, hoping to be rid of the smell as soon as she could get away.
Her life was getting more and more complicated since the ceremony to make her part of the coven drew closer. It wasn’t just a bonding ceremony they were planning; they wanted to drain all her witch powers. Cassie didn’t plan to stick around for that. No way was she just going to sit around and hope they changed their minds. Nate had planned how to get out of it. Or so he said. Where was he now? He had been missing in action for four days straight. Cassie knew the coven wanted her and her powers, and she wasn’t about to do as they wished. She had to get away, and she needed to leave now.
“She backtracked again,” one male voice said on the other side of the door.
“Any trail?” another person replied.
“No. She’s getting better at this. Check back in the store; we must have missed it,” the first voice responded.
“Well, I’m not going to be any use now with that smell. I’ll be lucky if I can find her in a week. You should have never told her how much you hate perfume,” the second grumbled.
Cassie smiled. She couldn’t care less if Nic Welch was going to lose his sense of smell for a week. That was his own fault for telling her about his great dislike of perfume. She didn’t know if all skinwalkers were that sensitive, but it seemed so.
“Mikel is going to kill us for losing her again,” Nic told the other guy. He kicked in the door of the last changing room. Cassie held her breath, hoping he wouldn’t suspect the empty perfume bottle was hers.
“Only if we don’t come back with her, and I, for one, am not going to give up looking until I find her,” the first replied. They didn’t even come to the back door that read “Employees Only”.
Cassie continued to hold her breath as they walked away. This was the farthest she had gotten away from the night humans keeping her captive. Well, she wasn’t exactly being held in one place; they just never let her be alone, even in her own room at home. The first few days she hadn’t noticed the people following her, but once Nate went missing, she began to see people around her more. Someone even sat outside her house, watching her bedroom window at night. Creepy. It was her best friend, Whitney, who spilled the beans and was now forbidden from seeing her. Once Cassie realized what was going on, she tried to get away. That was her first mistake—thinking she could get away. Saying Nate was upset was an understatement. He had put her on lockdown, and only had just allowed her to leave her house since her first attempt. They were holding her captive in her own home, and her uncle went right along with it.
Now she just needed to make it to some sort of vehicle if she wanted to make it away. She hadn’t thought it through that much. It was more of a spur of the moment decision this time. Planning gave them an edge to stop her.
‘Cassie, just go back to them,’ Nate pleaded over the bond and the direct line into Cassie’s head with his voice.
He had been physically gone, but somehow seemed to know what she was up to all the time. She needed help understanding night humans, and Whitney had told her enough to know what to do. There was a small town she needed to go to visit in the mountains that was filled with night humans. Maybe they would have answers.
She had traveled across the country the summer before to help out a friend. While there, she had broken a blood bond, even though it was only temporary. Given enough time, maybe she could break her unwanted bond with Nate. At the very least, she could learn more about night humans and what it meant to be bonded to one.
‘I told you that I was only doing the spell to save Whitney. I don’t want to be bonded to you,’ Cassie replied to Nate. It had been easier than she thought, talking to him over the bond they shared, and quicker than a cell phone. The only problem was she couldn’t hang up on him.
‘Doesn’t matter. Mating bonds are for life,’ Nate answered. ‘Now go back to them before you get yourself in trouble.’
‘Life? Well, we’ll see about that.’
‘Don’t make me come find you,’ Nate threatened.
Cassie looked out the exit door of the store. Someone was bringing packages to donate to the store and had left their car running. She was pretty sure stealing a car was a crime, probably even a felony, but what other options did she have? Cassie stepped out of the building and smiled at the blond-haired girl leaning against the wall. Whitney gave her a big smile in return.
‘Cassie, get your butt home. John and Maria are going to be upset.’ Nate sounded so parental Cassie had to try not to laugh since he was only just over a year older than her.
‘Good for them. Maybe they’ll think twice about keeping everything from me.’
‘Cassie.’ Nate was no longer teasing. He sounded very angry.
‘Good luck finding me.’
She slid into the passenger seat as Whitney got in the driver’s side.
“Where to, bestie?” Whitney asked, pulling back her long blond hair into a ponytail.
“Triclan City.” The place for night humans. If anyone could help her, she had to be able to find them there. Cassie needed answers, and she needed them soon before she got too caught up in the night human world. It was time for a road trip.
Cassie didn’t realize the drive would be as long as it was. It wasn’t like she had been on a road trip before in her entire life. The only trips she took were flights to places with her aunt to the only place in the US that had other witches. Her uncle had finally explained to her that he couldn’t leave town without major negotiations between various night humans because all the different kinds were very territorial. If he stepped into the wrong place, it could mean serious repercussions or even death if he ran across enemies. Cassie was lucky she was only bonded to a night human. As a day human, she could still go where ever she pleased.
She looked at her friend as she drove. Cassie was a day human, but her friend was not. Whitney didn’t seem to have a care in the world.
“Won’t you get in trouble for leaving?” she asked.
Whitney shrugged. “They’ve kept you locked up for days. I don’t care what sort of trouble I get into if it means you get a break from all the crazy.”
“Aww,” Cassie replied.
“Besties forever.” Whitney held up a fist for Cassie to bump, and she did so.
Reaching down, Whitney began to scroll through radio channels. It was the third time since they began their trip that they needed to change stations.
“I told my mom that not getting the upgrade would suck. Guess she didn’t plan on any road trips.” Whitney kept scrolling, not finding much to listen to.
“Because you guys can’t travel without getting into trouble, right?” Cassie asked. Whitney was a night human along with her brother and father. Cassie was beginning to get nervous the farther away they drove. She wasn’t exactly sure the rules that would keep her night human friend safe.
“My dad can’t travel, and I don’t think my mother wanted to go anywhere fun without him. It would make him sad to miss out.”
“But you can travel through different night human territories?” It was all very new to Cassie. She had only learned, less than two weeks ago, that night humans who lived off human blood actually existed. She was still trying to understand everything, but nothing really made much sense.
“If I keep to the main road, then it isn’t a problem. We can’t take any shortcuts or anything,” Whitney explained. “And because I’m not a full member of the pack, other night humans don’t see me as a threat, at least not yet.”
Cassie nodded. That made sense … she hoped. She wanted out and away from Nate and the clan that wouldn’t leave her alone, but she didn’t want Whitney in danger because of it. The lull of the car as Whitney drove was soothing after being on edge for so many days. Cassie had no clue why Nate was gone so much, but it seemed like something was going on around her. And the constant guard kept her on edge. Leaning back, Cassie closed her eyes. She was safe with Whitney and finally able to relax.
‘Where are you going?’ Nate asked. He was more concerned than mad now. His moods seemed to fluctuated like the weather.
‘Away,’ Cassie replied. She wanted to add from you, but by this point, it was from everyone. Cassie felt the slight pressure of voices as they faded through her mind, like whispering she couldn’t make the words out from.
“Man, is he mad this time,” Whitney commented as she continued to drive.
“Who’s mad?” Cassie asked. Opening her eyes, she looked at her friend.
Whitney flipped her blond curls over her shoulder and drove with one hand, completely ignoring the cars around her. If it had been Cassie’s first time in the car, she would have been scared, but after months of riding with Whitney, she knew that her friend had a sixth sense for keeping the car on the road and accident-free.
“Than,” Whitney replied with Nate’s much cooler name. Well, at least according to everyone at school once he began to go by it.
Cassie shrugged. He was mad, but it was to be expected. He didn’t seem to understand anyone not doing exactly as he told them. He had been that way since he was a kid. Cassie used to think it was funny; now he was more of a spoiled brat than anything.
“He just won’t stop screaming at me,” Whitney added.
Cassie scrunched up her eyes and peered closely at her friend. Her phone was still on the emergency brake between them. How’s Nate yelling at Whitney?
“In my head,” Whitney added, sensing her friend’s confusion.
“Your head?” Cassie had thought it was strange enough when she first heard Nate’s voice in her head after they bonded, but now it didn’t seem like it was strange at all.
“We are a pack,” Whitney explained. “We can communicate without words like your mating allows you, because we spend half our time in a form that doesn’t use words. And it isn’t like we’re all the same animal. We have to be able to communicate like this.”
“Since you hear his voice, do you hear mine, too?” Cassie asked. She thought of the word banana to see if it would work.
“No, but Than just heard that and told me to tell you to stop blocking him out,” Whitney added.
“Blocking him out? Does he really think I have a clue what I’m doing? I mean, you just told me that you can hear him, which is news to me. I have no clue about any of this. No one would answer my questions as they held me hostage.” Cassie crossed her arms in front of her chest. It was annoying to always be in the dark on everything, but even more now that she was supposed to be part of the in-crowd. She still didn’t know anything, but everyone expected her to.
Whitney smiled. “That’s exactly why we need to get away. They’re treating you like a child one minute and then like an adult the next, and expecting you to know everything. Really? They suck. We need some time for you to see the night human world without all the crappy parts of being mated to someone without a choice.”
Cassie nodded. That was exactly what she was thinking. The only difference was that now she wasn’t just mated like Whitney thought but actually bonded to Nate. It was a lot more serious and permanent. She hadn’t meant to bond to him, but it was kind of her own fault for choosing to do the potion to protect him that used her blood, and actually using her blood in it. He was right; she could have lied and acted perplexed when it didn’t work on the silver, but she’d been too worried about saving Whitney.
‘Cassie, please come back,’ Nate pleaded across the bond. ‘I know this is all new. I can help you.’
‘No. I need some time away from this, and I’ll come back once I’m ready.’ Cassie really couldn’t stay away forever, like she wanted to do. It would be much easier to run away than face the fact that she was now essentially married to Nate, and they were only sixteen.
‘Then I’ll be waiting,’ Nate replied, shocking Cassie. She hadn’t expected that.
‘Really. I know I’ve been busy, but I’ve wanted to be with you every minute. I know you’re scared and frustrated by all this. I get that. I’m just trying to make it easier, but it will take some time. The coven still thinks we need to bond, and they’re making plans to take your power during the bonding. Your aunt did an excellent spell to cover up the bond, but I have to tread softly to keep them from finding out, and I need everything to fall into place before the ceremony. That’s why I’ve been gone. I really would rather be with you and help you learn about all of this.’ Nate sounded sincere. Cassie almost wanted to give in and go back to him. Whitney kept driving.
‘I need to get away from all this.’ Cassie held firm though it was hard. Part of her had just forgiven him for everything in the past week. She hated when Nate acted like the friend she had grown up with and not the annoying Than that he was now most of the time.
‘I get that. Just please stay safe. Don’t leave Whitney’s side. She’ll take care of you,’ Nate told her. He had complete faith in Whitney, even if he was still a bit mad under the surface.
More whispering filled Cassie’s head. She shook it to try to make it dim down. She hated how it had been happening more often. She almost felt like she was losing her mind. It had to do with the bond, but it was just yet another thing she knew very little about.
Whitney kept driving, still trying to find a radio station. Nate’s presence in Cassie’s mind grew fainter along with the other voices.
“We’ll be out of his range soon,” Whitney told Cassie. “Any last words you’d like me to tell Lover Boy?”
Cassie rolled her eyes. “Lover Boy? Really?”
“Well, I figured Eye Candy could be offensive since he’s your mate. Mates normally get mad, even if someone if just speaking about their bondpartner that way.”
“Nope, no anger here. In fact, I’m more than happy to get away, and you can call him anything you want to,” Cassie replied.
The thread connecting Cassie to Nate mentally grew even quieter, and so did all the voices.
“I won’t miss that part.”
“What part?” Whitney asked.
“All those voices in my head. It was getting a little full,” Cassie complained. Taking a deep breath, she enjoyed the mental silence.
“Yeah, whenever Nate and I talked in my head, there were always more voices,” Cassie explained.
Whitney swerved, barely missing the car she was passing on the narrow, two-lane road. “You didn’t,” she said, accusing Cassie.
Cassie’s eyes were wide. She had no clue what Whitney was talking about … again. The night human world was too complicated to keep up with as it was, and then to add Whitney and her enthusiasm on top of it, Cassie was genuinely confused.
“You bonded to him,” Whitney accused with a big grin on her face. “You actually bonded to him.”
Cassie quickly put her hands over her friend’s mouth.
“Don’t say that out loud. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone.”
Whitney wiggled her eyebrows, but Cassie didn’t move her hands. Whitney waited, and Cassie finally relented as it was close to impossible to hold her friend’s mouth shut with her seatbelt on.
“I’m not anyone. I’m your best friend, and man we have much more to talk about now.” Whitney grinned as she passed yet another car. “My best friend went and grew up without telling me. She bonded herself to a night human. That’s something you don’t forget to tell your friend, and I’m sorry, the no tell policy doesn’t hold for best friends. This is one life milestone you don’t get to keep to yourself. Once we get to our hotel, you have to tell me every detail. Every detail.”
Cassie shook her head. There weren’t many details, especially not the ones Whitney wanted. Cassie got the basics of a night human bond; it had to deal with love and wanting to be connected forever. Most of the time the bond was formed between people who were mates and essentially married. Whitney did tell her that people who were friends could also bond, but Cassie knew what Whitney was thinking, and it was far from the truth. Cassie was bonded, but she needed to get out of it. It had been done to save her friend, and that was all. Her feelings—which were still growing—for Nate had nothing to do with it. And the night human Jared, who tried to explain more about the bond to her, had to be wrong. He claimed you couldn’t get bonded unless you wanted to be. Cassie didn’t choose to be Nate’s mate, and she sure didn’t want to be bonded to him. Yet, it still worked. You could bond someone you didn’t want to be with. She was living proof of that. At least, she needed to keep telling herself that.
Hey, it’s Annie again! That book sounds great, doesn’t it?
Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by B. Kristin McMichael, me, and the rest of the SILVER TEAM! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 27.
A BONUS GIVEAWAY
Look, I know math is hard (at least for me). That’s why I’m offering you an individual giveaway that doesn’t include math. Enter below for a chance to win a few of my books—paperback versions! And then follow the link below to continue the YA Scavenger Hunt!
To continue your quest for the secret code, you need to visit the next author’s blog! That’s Hilary Thompson. Quick, go find the next clue and then add up all the numbers from the SILVER TEAM to enter for the grand prize!
And keep an eye out for my inspiration board!
P.S. There are 9 YA Scavenger Hunt contests going on simultaneously—one for each team. You can enter one or all of them! I’m on the SILVER TEAM—but there are 8 others! To see them all, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page. But make sure to finish the SILVER TEAM‘s hunt or you won’t get the right sum!
P.S.S. Once again, the number for my leg of the hunt is 27.